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fmitchell
12-04-2007, 07:06 PM
RPGNet has a new installment of the "Clerical Error" column called "Trust Your Feelings, Anakin. But Not Anger" (http://www.rpg.net/columns/clerical/clerical13.phtml). To quote from the second paragraph:


Going by the movies alone, there is no internal coherence to the moral or spiritual universe of Star Wars, which presents a couple of serious problems for people trying to have adventures in that universe. There are a number of practical religious questions that are also unresolved in the movies that could cause problems for GMs with inquisitive players.

So, do players of Star Wars have similar philosophical problems with the Star Wars Universe? Or, as one poster to RPGNet put it, have you decided that "'Moral Ambiguity' and 'Star Wars' do not belong together"? If you opt for a more nuanced or consistent version of The Force, how have you resolved the contradictions?

rabkala
12-04-2007, 11:05 PM
mitichlorians are the glue that binds all things together in the SW universe. Use them liberally when there is any complaint.

GC13
12-04-2007, 11:31 PM
Though to be honest the column is a bit unfair to Star Wars. The Dark Side is evil because it's the Dark Side, and the Dark Side is evil. Lucas said himself that it's supposed to be a black-and-white good guys here bad guys there issue.

And the movies don't seem to use "feelings" to mean emotions, but to mean intuitions instead. Emotions are bad because they can lead you to the Dark Side if you're not careful, and the Jedi would rather avoid them than try to control them and possibly risk failure.

Of course you're not going to find me defending much about the prequel trilogies, stick in the mud that I am. Still, the column's writing makes me think they're not as obsessive about the Star Wars universe as I am (though it's really just because I'm a quick study; I'm not really THAT knowledgable).

fmitchell
12-05-2007, 12:34 AM
Though to be honest the column is a bit unfair to Star Wars. The Dark Side is evil because it's the Dark Side, and the Dark Side is evil. Lucas said himself that it's supposed to be a black-and-white good guys here bad guys there issue.

Someone else made this argument, but citing Lucas holds no water with me, because as good as he is at creating eye candy the man can neither write nor direct (people, anyway). I am not a fan of black-and-white morality, in Star Wars, D&D, or any other game.

Even though I posted to the RPGNet thread, my dirty little secret is that I've no interest in playing a Star Wars RPG. Rather, I'd like to do a SF campaign with an organization like the Jedi Knights comprised of believable flawed human beings struggling with the true meaning of "the greater good". Nevertheless, these flawed humans are a true force for good (on balance).

I'd also like allow Knights to go bad, again in a believable way ... which the prequel trilogy provides NO GUIDANCE WHATSOEVER for. No cackling baddies in flowing robes, no irredeemably brutal and ruthless monsters who somehow get redeemed at the end ... just extraordinarily gifted people sliding tragically toward arrogance, selfishness, and obsession. Nothing like the Anakin Skywalker we saw, in other words.


And the movies don't seem to use "feelings" to mean emotions, but to mean intuitions instead. Emotions are bad because they can lead you to the Dark Side if you're not careful, and the Jedi would rather avoid them than try to control them and possibly risk failure.

I'd prefer the term "passions" to emotions. But yes, I'd agree that's the intent. It's part of that Zen Buddhist "detachment from worldly concerns" sort of thing. Unfortunately, emotions are human, and a bunch of Vulcans aren't interesting characters.

Skunkape
12-05-2007, 07:04 AM
While I'm probably never going to run a Star Wars universe style game, just not my interest, I always thought it was funny how all of the Jedi were whining about restoring the balance to the force. In my opinion, Anakin did restore balance, just not in the way that they thought he would.

If you look at the situation prior to Anakin becoming Vader, you see what 3 or 4 dark Jedi and like hundreds or thousands of light Jedi. After Anakin and the Palpatine get through, there are what 2 dark Jedi, 2 light Jedi, with 2 untrained Jedi, meaning Luke and Leya at least in the main part of the story.

So that kinda sounds like balance to me!;)

Anyway, I'm not big on the black and white evil either. In my current fantasy campaign, there is good and evil, but it's not so black and white. I've got 'good' characters who are doing slightly evil things do get rid of worst evil. I've got 'evil' characters doing good things because they're trying to stop other evil guys from ruining their plans.

It's interesting but I've never been to happy with the alignment system of DnD, but my players keep bringing it up. While I pay attention to how their characters are acting, and it'll cost them if they stray to far from the interests of their god, but I'm not going to force an alignment shift.

Inquisitor Tremayne
12-05-2007, 10:55 AM
So, do players of Star Wars have similar philosophical problems with the Star Wars Universe? Or, as one poster to RPGNet put it, have you decided that "'Moral Ambiguity' and 'Star Wars' do not belong together"? If you opt for a more nuanced or consistent version of The Force, how have you resolved the contradictions?

Moral Ambiguity is a part of human nature and human nature is a part of the Force.

How's that?

The Force in my games, while it does have the light side and dark side, remains a neutral force. With only the dark side being a bit more pro-active in corrupting others to its side. The PCs have free reign to make whatever decisions they see fit for their characters with the information that they have at the time. Sometimes this leads to a decision that takes them closer down the dark path. But they are playing the role of their character and that is a decision the character made therefore it is a part of that character's nature.

In essence, they were MEANT to get that dark side point.

As far as religious orders, particularly the Jedi and the Sith, as with most religions you have different view points on the Force.

The Jedi:

There is no emotion; there is peace
There is no ignorance; there is knowledge
There is no passion; there is serenity
There is no death; there is the Force

The Sith:

Peace is a lie; there is only passion
Through passion, I gain strength
Through strength, I gain power
Through power, I gain victory
Through victory, my chains are broken
The Force shall free me


My view of the Jedi is that 8 times out of 10 they are correct about the Force and what is going on in the universe. The problem that arose is that they became complacent. They thought the Sith extinct and that they could meet all challenges. The Emperor was right, the Jedi were arrogant and it blinded them to what was really going on until it was too late.

The Sith on the other hand are so selfish and power hungry that they often can't get past their own hang ups to be effective. Anakin is a glaring example of this. When you have a Sith that has vision, Darth Bane and Darth Sidious, you end up with THE best Sith order the galaxy ever saw. They were able to stay their appetite for power and their selfishness for the greater evil.

I think I kind of lost my point.

Moral ambiguity is prevalent everywhere. You may have a general sense of right and wrong but because we are human we have a difficult time acting and reacting without any emotional attachment. This is where the Jedi and the Sith come in.

In this hypothetical situation: a loved one of yours, someone you could never imagine loosing, your mom, your spouse, whoever, imagine they are about to be killed. To keep it Star Wars, the only way to save that person was to wipe out an entire planet. Its difficult to judge in this thread because it isn't really happening to you for real, if it were, could you really dismiss your loved one that easily to save, let's say, a million people? In this situation a Sith would probably wipe out the planet to save their loved one, the Jedi would probably let their loved one go. A non force sensitive person, lets say a senator, who knows? They just might wipe out the whole planet.

I really don't think there is all that much confusion in the philosophies in the Star Wars universe. I haven't read the entire article but all it takes is watching the movies.

Sorry for the incoherent post. I need sleep.

Inquisitor Tremayne
12-05-2007, 11:16 AM
RPGNet has a new installment of the "Clerical Error" column called "Trust Your Feelings, Anakin. But Not Anger" (http://www.rpg.net/columns/clerical/clerical13.phtml). To quote from the second paragraph:

Going by the movies alone, there is no internal coherence to the moral or spiritual universe of Star Wars, which presents a couple of serious problems for people trying to have adventures in that universe. There are a number of practical religious questions that are also unresolved in the movies that could cause problems for GMs with inquisitive players.So, do players of Star Wars have similar philosophical problems with the Star Wars Universe? Or, as one poster to RPGNet put it, have you decided that "'Moral Ambiguity' and 'Star Wars' do not belong together"? If you opt for a more nuanced or consistent version of The Force, how have you resolved the contradictions?

As my post said above I think they go together quite nicely. In fact I include moral ambiguity in all my RPG games I GM. Its a part of life.

I haven't really encountered any contradictions. Or at least if a player seems to have a contradiction I make it a part of their character. If they bring up something like this then I don't give them an answer either way because it is a decision that their character has to make. Using my example above, should the character kill an entire planet to save their loved one or not. I as GM can't make that decision for the character. I also won't tell them either way if their decision will give them a dark side point. Live and learn is my GM style. Its harsh but that's what makes the game real.

At least I think so.


Though to be honest the column is a bit unfair to Star Wars. The Dark Side is evil because it's the Dark Side, and the Dark Side is evil. Lucas said himself that it's supposed to be a black-and-white good guys here bad guys there issue.

Yeah, but Lucas isn't running my game. Granted I do have the NPCs in my games who you know the second they appear they are evil and then there are those that don't seem evil at all but are kind of.


And the movies don't seem to use "feelings" to mean emotions, but to mean intuitions instead. Emotions are bad because they can lead you to the Dark Side if you're not careful, and the Jedi would rather avoid them than try to control them and possibly risk failure.

Its not really emotions are bad because they lead to the dark side. The Jedi feel and are very passionate people. They however do not let their emotions rule them meaning they will not make a rash decision based on their emotional state at the time.


Of course you're not going to find me defending much about the prequel trilogies, stick in the mud that I am. Still, the column's writing makes me think they're not as obsessive about the Star Wars universe as I am (though it's really just because I'm a quick study; I'm not really THAT knowledgable).

I'm pretty obsessive about Star Wars.


Someone else made this argument, but citing Lucas holds no water with me, because as good as he is at creating eye candy the man can neither write nor direct (people, anyway). I am not a fan of black-and-white morality, in Star Wars, D&D, or any other game.

Neither am I. And I think it is somewhat clear that Star Wars isn't black and white. I mean, how many people feel for Anakin's plight? He thought he was taking steps to save the woman he loves, not realizing he was lied to. Who wouldn't? Wouldn't you do what you had to?

Even in Episode II when Anakin kills all the Tuskans. Padme tells him to be angry is human, his response is he is a Jedi and he knows better. Yet he let his emotions lead him to a rash decision that cost the lives of an entire tribe of people.


Even though I posted to the RPGNet thread, my dirty little secret is that I've no interest in playing a Star Wars RPG. Rather, I'd like to do a SF campaign with an organization like the Jedi Knights comprised of believable flawed human beings struggling with the true meaning of "the greater good". Nevertheless, these flawed humans are a true force for good (on balance).

There is a group in the Legacy series of SW comics called the Imperial Knights. You might want to look into them.


I'd also like allow Knights to go bad, again in a believable way ... which the prequel trilogy provides NO GUIDANCE WHATSOEVER for. No cackling baddies in flowing robes, no irredeemably brutal and ruthless monsters who somehow get redeemed at the end ... just extraordinarily gifted people sliding tragically toward arrogance, selfishness, and obsession. Nothing like the Anakin Skywalker we saw, in other words.

You don't see Anakin's fall like how you just described?




I'd prefer the term "passions" to emotions. But yes, I'd agree that's the intent. It's part of that Zen Buddhist "detachment from worldly concerns" sort of thing. Unfortunately, emotions are human, and a bunch of Vulcans aren't interesting characters.

Right. Which is why the Jedi fell. Not because they were uninteresting but because they were TOO detached.


While I'm probably never going to run a Star Wars universe style game, just not my interest, I always thought it was funny how all of the Jedi were whining about restoring the balance to the force. In my opinion, Anakin did restore balance, just not in the way that they thought he would.

You are correct. Anakin wiped out almost all the Jedi and then killed the last Sith (including himslef). Basically wiping the slate clean for Luke and the Force Users he finds.


If you look at the situation prior to Anakin becoming Vader, you see what 3 or 4 dark Jedi and like hundreds or thousands of light Jedi. After Anakin and the Palpatine get through, there are what 2 dark Jedi, 2 light Jedi, with 2 untrained Jedi, meaning Luke and Leya at least in the main part of the story.

Not really. Its implied and I think rather well in Episode III that there are other surviving Jedi out there in the galaxy.



So that kinda sounds like balance to me!;)

Indeed!



Anyway, I'm not big on the black and white evil either. In my current fantasy campaign, there is good and evil, but it's not so black and white. I've got 'good' characters who are doing slightly evil things do get rid of worst evil. I've got 'evil' characters doing good things because they're trying to stop other evil guys from ruining their plans.

It's interesting but I've never been to happy with the alignment system of DnD, but my players keep bringing it up. While I pay attention to how their characters are acting, and it'll cost them if they stray to far from the interests of their god, but I'm not going to force an alignment shift.

See! Moral ambiguity! It should be a part of all games I think.

fmitchell
12-05-2007, 12:06 PM
You don't see Anakin's fall like how you just described?

I think it was meant to be a gradual, tragic slide to corruption, in an almost Shakespearean sense. What we got from George Lucas was an angsty jerk who swore fealty to the Dark Side in an instant.


Anakin Skywalker: "What have I done?"
Darth Sidious: "You are fulfilling your destiny, Anakin. Become my apprentice. Learn to use the dark side of the Force."
Anakin Skywalker: "I will do whatever you ask."

Feh.

Inquisitor Tremayne
12-05-2007, 12:44 PM
I think it was meant to be a gradual, tragic slide to corruption, in an almost Shakespearean sense. What we got from George Lucas was an angsty jerk who swore fealty to the Dark Side in an instant.

Anakin Skywalker: "What have I done?"
Darth Sidious: "You are fulfilling your destiny, Anakin. Become my apprentice. Learn to use the dark side of the Force."
Anakin Skywalker: "I will do whatever you ask."Feh.


This is where Hayden's acting comes into play. (Thats going to open a huge can of worms!!) In the subsequent scenes you can tell that Anakin is still kind of struggling with what he has just done. All the while he whole heartedly believes that the Jedi are evil. Its the complication with playing a villian who for decades has embodied pure evil (Vader) yet trying to maintain "There is still good in him."

pawsplay
12-08-2007, 10:16 AM
"Feelings" in the sense of trust your feelings mean things other than emotions or cold logic. At Buddhism has a similar concept, and it leads to some interesting translation problems. Sometimes the idea is translated as "thoughts," sometimes as "wisdom," sometimes as "nothingness." In many Eastern traditions, the mind/body/soul split is not the same as mainstream classical philosophy. "Do not trust your senses, they can deceive you" and "There is no emotion, there is only peace," are examples of what you should avoid. The part that you use to avoid them is what Lucas usually refers to as a "feelings."

And, incidentally, anger is not evil. The Jedi are trained to avoid anger because they fear it will lead to evil, but anger is simply an emotion.

"Trust that invisible part of your soul that is unaffected by distractions of the world" doesn't have the same ring to it, nor does, "Listen to your midichlorians, they can give you lots of useful insight."

GBVenkman
12-08-2007, 12:41 PM
I think moral ambiguity is a good thing. A Jedi should alway be questioning himself, because a good Jedi learns from experience.

When running the force, I apply the tenants of Zen Buddhism. I'm pretty well read in mythology and religion, so this makes running the Force easy for me. Many tenants of Zen are mirrored in the Jedi. If you don't believe me, read yourself. Lucas was a huge fan of Joseph Campbell, who writes about world religion, and the use of world culture to write star wars is very apparent. Watch "The Hidden Fortress" DVD. Lucas is on the special features and talks about how that Japanese samurai film influenced "A New Hope." The story line is the same BTW.

So to me a PC that wants to be a good Jedi:
Never makes a decision based on Fear or Greed.
Never makes a decision based on Elation or Pleasure.
Treats all beings with compassion and sees the interconnectedness of all things.
Does not fear Death, and recognizes that Death is the natural part of life; that there is a natural cycle of birth and death. (In zen, this is where the whole emptiness and non emptiness at the same time comes from).
Has a strict daily regimen of meditation and who strives for a clear mind, so will not partake of anything that prevents himself from being clear and free from emotional/natural bias.
Be dedicated to the end of all unnecessary conflict.

And if a Jedi is trying to follow all of those things that only a true Jedi master can achieve, then there's TONS of material a GM can create to cause challenges to this.

I think I'm getting my Jedi to do things that most people wouldn't think of as The DND "Lawful Good." That's good, because it gives the players more challenges. ie "should the jedi beokay with being apart of torture of scumbag for information that may help millions of people? I don't think the DnD ethics system applies to star wars at all, and I also really dislike that system in general (So does Gary gygax...).

Sometimes a Jedi has to crack some eggs to make an omelet, but it is the sith that will do anything to benefit themselves. I see the Sith as people that want to see society function well, they just want to do it themselves without giving others freedom since, after all, "A sith must know best since he's the most powerful and cunning."

The Sith are opposite of Jedi not just because sith kill babies from time to time, but also because the sith way of life leads to suffering.
In my view, the Sith:
See fear, anger, lust, and raw power as tools for building a secure society.
They rely on "Social Darwinism" to produce the most able citizens that will naturally kill their way to the top where they belong, restoring order for the universe."
So if I were to run a Sith NPC, I'd run him as a Fascist full of hate for all that his not like himself. If any Jedi players started to show any signs of these beliefs, I think I'd start giving them dark side points.

Anyhow, great post, great reading it since I thought I was the only person that thinks about philosophy and star wars...

Wow, what a geek i am... :P

Farcaster
12-08-2007, 01:24 PM
should the jedi beokay with being apart of torture of scumbag for information that may help millions of people?

I doubt it very much that they would use torture. In the movies, even the Sith didn't seem to employ such techniques as torture to get what they wanted, although they certainly might have benefited from the attempt. Torture just doesn't fall into their paradigm of honorable behavior.

There is tons of Star Wars novels out there, of which I have read none. So, I am curious, in any of those books, do the Jedi or Sith ever employ torture?

GBVenkman
12-08-2007, 01:32 PM
"I'd prefer the term "passions" to emotions. But yes, I'd agree that's the intent. It's part of that Zen Buddhist "detachment from worldly concerns" sort of thing. Unfortunately, emotions are human, and a bunch of Vulcans aren't interesting characters."




I question your knowledge of what zen buddhists are like. Have you ever met one? Have you ever talked with a Master in Zen? I assure you if you did, you views would change.

What you say is basically that feeling joy is not related directly with knowledge and wisdom.

fmitchell
12-08-2007, 03:14 PM
"I'd prefer the term "passions" to emotions. But yes, I'd agree that's the intent. It's part of that Zen Buddhist "detachment from worldly concerns" sort of thing. Unfortunately, emotions are human, and a bunch of Vulcans aren't interesting characters."

I question your knowledge of what zen buddhists are like. Have you ever met one? Have you ever talked with a Master in Zen? I assure you if you did, you views would change.

What you say is basically that feeling joy is not related directly with knowledge and wisdom.

No, I haven't met Zen Buddhists in person, but I was reacting to Lucas's bastardized version rather than true Zen.

From what reading I've done, Zen Buddhists have no problem with emotions per se, but they keep in mind that they're transitory like all things. One of my favorite Zen stories (which I'm sure to get wrong) is a Zen master and his student encountering a young and attractive woman stranded on one side of a muddy street. After asking about the problem, the master picks up the woman bodily and carries her across the street. The master and his disciple continue onward for a little bit until the disciple bursts out, "How could you have touched that woman when we're supposed to avoid all temptation?" The master replied, "I left that woman back on the street corner. Why are you still carrying her?"

Unfortunately, Lucas had his Jedi Masters trying to ignore emotions rather than deal with them. Maybe that was intentional, to show why the old order failed. But, having seen only the movies -- the three real ones plus the three other ones -- the series implies that the Jedi are Right By Definition, and Anakin falls (and Luke nearly falls) because he ignores their advice.

GBVenkman
12-08-2007, 03:55 PM
No, I haven't met Zen Buddhists in person, but I was reacting to Lucas's bastardized version rather than true Zen.

From what reading I've done, Zen Buddhists have no problem with emotions per se, but they keep in mind that they're transitory like all things. One of my favorite Zen stories (which I'm sure to get wrong) is a Zen master and his student encountering a young and attractive woman stranded on one side of a muddy street. After asking about the problem, the master picks up the woman bodily and carries her across the street. The master and his disciple continue onward for a little bit until the disciple bursts out, "How could you have touched that woman when we're supposed to avoid all temptation?" The master replied, "I left that woman back on the street corner. Why are you still carrying her?"

Unfortunately, Lucas had his Jedi Masters trying to ignore emotions rather than deal with them. Maybe that was intentional, to show why the old order failed. But, having seen only the movies -- the three real ones plus the three other ones -- the series implies that the Jedi are Right By Definition, and Anakin falls (and Luke nearly falls) because he ignores their advice.

Yeah, I agree that Lucas botched that one.

Sometimes people fail due to things that are totally out of control, but I think Anakin's fall was due to his own actions. I think the Jedi did all they could, but fell due to things beyond their capabilities. Maybe that was the point, that even the greatest masters and traditions have to die sometime.

I like that story you posted too btw.

GBVenkman
12-08-2007, 04:02 PM
I doubt it very much that they would use torture. In the movies, even the Sith didn't seem to employ such techniques as torture to get what they wanted, although they certainly might have benefited from the attempt. Torture just doesn't fall into their paradigm of honorable behavior.

There is tons of Star Wars novels out there, of which I have read none. So, I am curious, in any of those books, do the Jedi or Sith ever employ torture?

I too doubt that they would torture, but say if the jedi finds that an ally PC did use some questionable tactics to get information from an prisoner that is a known murderer?

Also, would they execute prisoners that they know will be a huge liablity during a very fragile infiltration of the enemy? Do clones get treated differently? Or Beasts?

pawsplay
12-09-2007, 12:45 AM
I don't think Lucas botched it. Luke and Qui-Gon were right, Yoda was wrong, and Obi-Wan was not a philosopher. What do we see at the end of RotJ? Luke and the old Masters smiling.

How do we know Yoda was wrong? He tells Anakin that we should not grieve for those who have "joined the Force," but happy for them. Later, same movie, Anakin chops up some kids, and Yoda is very sad. Oops! Bet Yoda felt pretty dumb when that happened.

fmitchell
12-09-2007, 02:22 PM
Yeah, I'm starting to think Lucas actually intended the Old Jedi Order to have a fatal flaw, that their fear of the Dark Side made them deny all passions. Give them a student with unquenchable rage and nearly unquenchable (if woodenly expressed) love, and it's a recipe for disaster.

Also, it seems only masters of the Force actually get to hang around after death, so killing a bunch of apprentices is pretty tragic. Besides, Yoda might be more concerned about the practical consequences of the act: no new students, and a Jedi-killer on the loose.

Inquisitor Tremayne
12-10-2007, 07:52 AM
You have to pay explicit attention to the dialog especially in Episodes I - III to get an understanding of how all of this fits together.

What Lucas does is gives us moments where "important" lines are delivered and that is all the information that the characters in that scene have to make their decisions on.

This is why Obi Wan's line from Return of the Jedi, "...many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on a certain point of view." rings so true throughout the saga. I would go so far to say it is a major theme in the films.

Its mimicked by Anakin in Episode III when he is fighting Obi Wan on Mustafar, "From my point of view the Jedi are evil!"

If you watch the films with this theme in mind you see how every character is devoted to whatever ideas the perceive to be truth and they act accordingly, down to the very words they speak.

What the Sith do, at least in the movies, is twist that idea. They use word-play to their advantage to manipulate those around them.

While it seems that Lucas is a poor director and poor writer, if you go back and watch the saga paying close attention to the words the characters say, their expressions, their delivery of the lines, and an understanding that they really believe the words they are saying, then you get an entirely new perspective on the movies and Lucas's skill. Especially with Anakin from Episodes II and III. Hayden does a spectacular job playing the seemingly cold-hearted, stoic Jedi who is in love and is very selfish and over protective of the ones he loves and resentful of those that seem to hinder his growth.

Inquisitor Tremayne
12-10-2007, 08:03 AM
I too doubt that they would torture, but say if the jedi finds that an ally PC did use some questionable tactics to get information from an prisoner that is a known murderer?

In this situation all a Jedi could do would be to try and convince the ones doing the torture that it is unethical and they should go about it another way. Any other forceful way, except maybe through a mind trick, and the Jedi skirts enforcing their belief on another and that is of the Dark Side.


Also, would they execute prisoners that they know will be a huge liablity during a very fragile infiltration of the enemy? Do clones get treated differently? Or Beasts?

I would say no. Jedi are not supposed to take a life unless absolutely necessary. While in a war I am sure that a Clone Commander would execute their prisoner once they were done with them a Jedi would not. A Jedis sense of idealism to their code prevents them from making those gray area decisions. While a Jedi may admit that their prisoner may be a liability, killing the prisoner out right would at the same time seem out of place.

This is one aspect that brought the Jedi order down during the Clone Wars. Suddenly the Jedi were being forced into making these sorts of decisions. Most of the Jedi that defected from the order and the Republic did so because they saw Jedi making these sorts of decisions and decided it was not their place to do so. Some of these Jedi remained impartial some of them joined the Separatists.