Friday, October 11, 2019

Wiki Showcase: the Space Knight

"Where is the stuff on the "REALLY not Jedi, leave me alone Disney lawyers!"?" - Kevin Hudgins

Space Knight by Kriz Villacis,
Owned by Daniel Dover
Ah, the Space Knight. Perhaps the most iconic element of Psi-Wars.  We've had Dun Beltain, our resident space knight, since Iteration 1, and we've added new space knights, such as the dark lord Vesper Tane and the holy warrior Rafari since iteration 3, and they've remained some of the most popular elements since Psi-Wars began. This is unsurprising, as they stand in for our "Jedi," and thus have all the appeal of samurai, wuxia and fantasy paladins.

My Patrons finally asked me to to make this the focus of this month's Template revisions, and I've cautioned them on it, because the Space Knight is tricky to explore.  So, with expectations managed, I've released my current version of the Space Knight.

This is a tricky project, and you need to see it as a work in progress, one that will likely continue for quite some time.  While I wouldn't call the space knight the "central" template to the game, as one can play entire Psi-Wars campaigns without ever touching one, the template is deeply bound up in legends and history, which makes it something profoundly tied into the setting, which means you can't talk about any aspect of the setting without touching on the Space Knight and vice versa.  That means there's a lot to unpack, and that means we can talk about them for a long time, which means we won't be done for a long time, which means you'll have to settle with what we have at the time until I expand on all the things.

For me, one of the key goals of the Space Knight project was variety.  A frustration I had with Star Wars gaming when I was younger was that they were all the same.  This was more true back when it was just the original trilogy (yes, I am that old), because you had essentially three archetypes: the young, idealistic apprentice, the old and bitter teacher, and the former student who had fallen to the Dark Side.  Since then, especially after the prequels, we've seen a greater variety of lightsaber fighting techniques (though these are woefully underrepresented in Star Wars RPGs) and hints of unique powers, but we still find ourselves exploring the same tropes.

I wanted Psi-Wars to be a game where everyone could play as a Space Knight and not feel like they were stepping on one another's toes.  I wanted numerous sorts of space knights, from your "not a Jedi, I swear" to your straight up "I'm a knight, in space" space knights and in between.  As an avid fan of kung fu movies and wuxia stories, I wanted them to explore martial arts and discuss which strategies are best, and why, and to differentiate from one another based on their preferred approaches to combat.  I wanted them to all have unique psionic powers, as well as a unifying set of power in the form of Communion.  And I wanted them to have varying philosophies behind their powers and behind why they fight.

Put all of this together, and we have a lot to talk about.  My patrons have asked me to talk about Communion, and that's all ready to go, it's just a matter of posting it; I've already discussed martial arts in broad outlines, and I'll be slowly releasing those as power-up sets and, given time, I may go more deeply into the Templars and the Cults of the Mystical Tyrant.

One last comment: if you're expecting to play as a Jedi with one of these, understand that these templates were built to balance with Smugglers, Commandos and Diplomats.  They're action characters with a little bit of psionic power, and a few points in Martial Arts. They've actually seen a downgrade since their last iteration, though I've made them better generalists (DX 13 rather than DX 12).  Their best Force Sword skill is 16 (17 in the case of Swift Form users), down from 18, but they have a little more psionic abilities and they can always invest in more martial arts.  If you want to play as the space knight who slings around True Communion like nobody's business and has 100 points in psionic powers and is the master of a force sword form, you're looking at closer to 500 points and, yes, I do have ideas for such a template, but that will need to wait!

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