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Dark Side Points
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Thread: Dark Side Points

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    Dark Side Points

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    How do you handle them and how do you dish them out?

    Do you run high-heroic games?

    Morally ambiguous games?

    or very black and white games?
    "I'm afraid it is you who are mistaken. About a great, many things."

    "It is not the rules that make or break a game, it's the GM and the players."


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    Morals are about perspectives, more times than not. Even though i don't run Star Wars systems, I've always wanted to play and run them. What i do run is Traveller D6 and Mongoose Traveller, and everyone knows that Traveller was basically... inspired-yeah, lets use the word inspired, by Star Wars. In my games there are Sith and Jedi, but they are extremely rare and are avoided at all costs.

    In answer to your question, depending on the players skills and abilities, everything you've listed can potentially come into play. Mostly though, my players would be similar to Hans Solo, and Capt. Mal types. They typically do things to turn a profit that are under the legal radar, never taking it so far where the Empire is likely to really take note. They've even assassinated an individual once, rationalizing it as being okay for all the potential lives that were saved with his death.

    Good times. I hope i answered your question somewhat.
    Thoth-Amon, Lord of the Underworld and the Undead
    Once you know what the magician knows, it's not magick. It's a 'tool of Creation'. -Archmagus H.H.
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    If a Force-sensitive does something worthy of a Dark Side point, yeah, I'll hand them out; I'll confirm that's what they're going to do, and that they understand the consequences first before, though. Non-sensitives, I don't really worry about - they don't feel the Force, thus they aren't much swayed by the Dark Side ... unless they use a Force Point to do so. Basically, the d6 Star Wars rules :P

    I do like the idea of temptation, though. A sparkly red d10, "offered" in a moment of emotion, that'll "assist" on a task just short of success ... with the player's narration of how a darker emotion guides their hand ... The resulting Dark Side point gets better narrative treatment and the spirit of Star Wars - rise, fall, redemption - is better served if there's a glint of each in every action's consequence ^_^

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    I let my players go darkside if they want, then watch them like a hawk to make sure they arnt doing it just to play a generic Evil. But most of my older characters has the habbid of giving their eviol characters, and usually good ones, intresting little quirks. Like the Imperial Inquisitor who was a master torturer, and often did it being nothing but nice to his victiums.

    Something about serving tea and sweets in a room lined with over 1000 years worth of torture impliments.

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    How do you handle them and how do you dish them out?
    For non force-sensitives, darkside points are a tad bit tougher to acquire, but not much. Example, in the original Theatrical release of Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope...when Greedo catches Han Solo in the Cantina, Han actually shot Greedo before Greedo even twitched his finger on the blaster. In the strictest sense, while Greedo was threatening Solo with a blaster pointed at him, Greedo did nothing to indicate that he was going to blast Solo, only that he was trying to get Solo to fork over credits due Jabba. I would more than likely give Solo a darkside point for this, as he used misdirection and deception to draw his blaster under the table and then Greedo.

    Now, with the latest release of Star Wars, Lucas actually has Greedo firing a shot off at Han's head and missing, prior to Han pulling the trigger. This then becomes a case of self-defense, and thus no Darkside Point.

    I'm much stricter with Force-Sensitives, particularly Force users. Using the Force in a fashion the cause harm to a living being, even if the power (as described in the Saga rules format) does not have the Darkside Descriptor, results in the gaining of an automatic Darkside Point. If used against droids, even though they are essentially autmatons...constructs, a Darkside Point may still be awarded if there was another means to take out the droids without using an aggressive use of the Force.

    I despise the moral ambiguity introduced by the Yuzhon Vong series to the Force and Jedi. The major draw for me to Star Wars was the idea that their was a definative good and evil, right and wrong. That damn series took it away, with later series sort of making up for it, by getting back to the Darkside and Lightside. I've never been able to comprehend why someone would want to play what is supposed to be a Jedi, a Light-Side Force-User, and use Telekinetic Kill (West End Games d6 game), or rather its d20 equivalent Force Grip and argue that it's not a darkside power. In one of the movies, it explained that a Jedi uses the force while calm, at peace, serene, never using the Force to attack, only for peaceful means. So, I always interpreted the Force as, if you use it to inflict harm directly upon a living being, it's the Darkside. A perspective in which I'm sure i'll find myself in the minority here.

    Do you run high-heroic games?
    Definately. Star Wars has been called Space Opera, epic story of adventure in space. It is that, but for me it's about good verses evil and doing the right thing, when doing the wrong thing would be easier.

    Morally ambiguous games? Or very black and white games?
    I run games that are definatively black and white. Moral ambiguity has no place in the games I run, and will never be portrayed or allowed to rear it's ugly head. If I want morally ambiguous, I'd run a Watchmen-like story where once the group found out who killed 8 million people to stop nuclear armegedden they could then say, well oh-ok, you had a good reason 8 million lives verses the possibility of 6 Billion lives and teh rest of the world. Uh, good job, we're going to let the mass murder of the city of New York slide for your good cause. (Incidentally, I loathe and despise that damn story. Rorschach was vicious killer in his own right, and he was the only one that was going to try anything to stop Ozy. Crap. A Big load of crap. And other harsher sentiments inappropriate for a public message board.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dytrrnikl View Post
    snip!
    I like your viewpoint and your argument for your side and think I will ease up on some of the moral ambiguity in my games, get things back to being more black and white, because afterall, that is Star Wars.

    That said, I think a lot of the Star Wars mythos can be enhanced by adding in moral ambiguity. Case in point, Luke and Anakin. They are the heroes of their time yet they struggle with the whole black and white thing the entire time, Anakin more than Luke, but still.

    My favorite 2 lines from all the movies are from Episode VI and Episode III. First is Obi Wan explaining things to Luke on Dagobah, Luke, you are going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. And Anakin's response to Obi Wan, From my point of view the Jedi are evil!

    For me, this sums up a major point that Lucas is trying to make and if you re-watch the films with those 2 lines in mind, then you realize how true that is for all the characters in the films. That they are making decisions based on the information that they have and from their own point of view, this is specifically the stuff we are shown.

    The perfect example is Anakin, well we know he feels as if he is being held back (Ep II), then in EP III the Council asks Anakin to spy on Palpatine, a very close friend of his. Palpatine tells Anakin about powers that he doesn't know about further reinforcing his belief that he is being held back. Then he sees Mace Windu try to assassinate Palpatine himself! So yeah, from Anakin's point of view, the Jedi are evil.

    There is more, but those sorts of inner conflicts can be very interesting and fun to roleplay. Not necessarily moral ambiguity, but at the very least getting the PCs to question their beliefs of their characters is a lot of fun. At least for me anyway!
    "I'm afraid it is you who are mistaken. About a great, many things."

    "It is not the rules that make or break a game, it's the GM and the players."


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    "Fear. Fear attracts the fearful...the strong, the weak...the innocent, the corrupt. Fear. Fear is my ally!" - Darth Maul



    I like the "struggle" of Light versus Dark, Good versus Evil within a character's mind. That said, regarding the Force, I like to represent the Dark Side as temptation and desire by way of promising to help you achieve what you want most. Like Anakin. So afraid was he of Padme's death and so selfish to keep her that he was willing to accept any answer that would bring him the power to change that fate. Ironically, he realized only too late that his vision of her death was the result of his very own greed.

    That's what makes the Light Side/Dark Side struggle so powerful and so much fun for me...because the Dark Side promises the easy road, promises to fulfill your greatest desires. And it is so much fun and so moving to see a character make the choice between what is "right" and what they want, especially when the stakes are personal. Would you fall to the Dark Side to save your friends? To save your family? To save the Republic?

    The great question becomes: "How high of a price would you pay to protect your own interests?"
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    I'm running a morally ambiguous game. The players can dip into crime, or even work for the Empire if the really want to. But of course they will have to face the consequences of their actions.

    I am probably a little more lenient on giving out dark points than others. For example, to use the Han Solo and Greedo example that has already been mentioned.

    I don't really give a damn that Han shot first. Greedo had a blaster on him and was trying to get money (either by "taking it to Jabba" or by killing Han and collecting a bounty. No Dark point there.

    If Han drew a blaster and Greedo dropped his and yielded, and Han still shot him, then definite dark point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Webhead View Post
    [I]Would you fall to the Dark Side to save your friends? To save your family? To save the Republic?

    The great question becomes: "How high of a price would you pay to protect your own interests?"
    This is what is so great about Episode III, witnessing first hand Anakin's fall. And from a certain point of view, rightly so.
    --- Merged from Double Post ---
    Quote Originally Posted by Chavic View Post
    I'm running a morally ambiguous game. The players can dip into crime, or even work for the Empire if the really want to. But of course they will have to face the consequences of their actions.

    I am probably a little more lenient on giving out dark points than others. For example, to use the Han Solo and Greedo example that has already been mentioned.

    I don't really give a damn that Han shot first. Greedo had a blaster on him and was trying to get money (either by "taking it to Jabba" or by killing Han and collecting a bounty. No Dark point there.

    If Han drew a blaster and Greedo dropped his and yielded, and Han still shot him, then definite dark point.
    I think morally ambiguous has its place in Star Wars. Especially in fringe type campaigns where the players are somewhat free to make their own way and deal with criminal elements all the time.
    Last edited by Inquisitor Tremayne; 07-07-2009 at 02:29 PM. Reason: Automerged Double Post
    "I'm afraid it is you who are mistaken. About a great, many things."

    "It is not the rules that make or break a game, it's the GM and the players."


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    Quote Originally Posted by Dytrrnikl View Post
    Snip

    Remind not to play in one of your games...

    Han shot in self defense, Greedo was likely going to turn Han in (to be killed) or kill him shortly.

    It would mean Jedi in the movies and comics would be rapidly gaining dark side points. Would Yoda gain Darkside point when he knocked the guards out by using the force? Obi wan would have gotten darkside points when he force slam droids because he could've destroyed them with lightsaber. Once again he would've obtain a darkside point when he attempted to push Vader.

    Why is attacking through self defense through the force more evil then attacking with pistol or even a lightsaber?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Suzaku View Post
    Remind not to play in one of your games...

    ....

    It would mean Jedi in the movies and comics would be rapidly gaining dark side points. Would Yoda gain Darkside point when he knocked the guards out by using the force? Obi wan would have gotten darkside points when he force slam droids because he could've destroyed them with lightsaber. Once again he would've obtain a darkside point when he attempted to push Vader.

    Yes, if you've read his posts elsewhere. I for one, am very fond of the default implementation of Dark Side points. It is intent, not actions per se, that cause the Dark Side to rise in someone. Using the Force to torture anyone, or to harm innocents is Dark Side. Using the Force generally is not. Raging out and losing control is Dark Side. Appropriate levels of vengeance for a fallen ally (such as Obi Wan at the end of Ep. I) is not Dark Side.

    And I'm not even going to touch the Watchmen rant, because obviously the point was missed.

    No one can ever be 100% up to the impossible standards the Jedi put forth. It is an ideal to strive for, but it's not possible. Failing to follow the Jedi code to the letter is not inherently Dark Side.

    The biggest beef I have with the super black and white policy is that the Dark Side is NOT a punishment. It can be used to punish a heinous act, but if it's moral gray area, don't give the Dark Side point. You have now found your most likely target for my mechanic:

    The Dark Side is supposed to be alluring. It is supposed to tempt everyone with more power, even if said power is not as it seems. The Dark Side should be present in the game through Dark Side powers like Force Lightning, but also through the GM offering slight bonuses in exchange for Dark Side points. When a player goes to spend a Force point to enhance a roll, offer them an extra d6 (or d8 if they're Strong in the Force) in exchange for a Dark Side point. The Dark Side lends it's power to those in combat... so every now and then, offer more power to players in exchange for Dark Side.... did they leave an enemy with only a few HP? Offer an instant killing blow for a point. Is one of them severely injured? Offer them a small swift action heal (their rage letting them ignore some pain/damage... a d8 or so should be sufficient). Did they miss an attack by one? Offer for their hate to guide their hand...

    Also, one of the optional rules from the Jedi Training Manual is that once a player is halfway to the Dark Side (you fall to the Dark Side when your points equals your Wisdom score), then their last pangs of conscience try to hold them back... whenever they'd gain a Dark Side point, make a Wisdom check at DC 5+the number of Dark Side points they currently have. I like that rule, but I'd also add that if the player passes that check, the next time they have to make it it's DC 6+ Dark Side points, then 7+DS, et cetera, permanently. This then creates a mechanic for the 4 stages of Dark Side...
    1) Temptation - All that extra power the GM was offering.
    2) Imperilment - Character is addicted to the Dark Side's power and is in serious threat of falling (the halfway point). Only the strongest willed will not fall when this stage is reached.
    3) Submission - The actual fall to the Dark Side, reached at DS Points = Wisdom
    4) Atonement/Redemption - Already a core mechanic


    I think you'll find this to be a FAR more appropriate application of the Dark Side in your game. Don't use it to slap someone for being an imperfect person. Use it to tempt, to corrupt, to destroy, just like the Dark Side actually does in the Star Wars universe.
    Fighter: "I can kill a guy in one turn."
    Cleric: "I can kill a guy in half a turn."
    Wizard: "I can kill a guy before my turn."
    Bard: "I can get three idiots to kill guys for me."

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    Quote Originally Posted by korhal23 View Post
    ...snip...

    A very solid perspective and some good suggestions that I'll consider. I do however vehemently disagree with "...intent, not actions per se, that cause the Dark Side..." Actions speak louder than words in my book, regardless of intent. Which is the core of my view of the Darkside. I do offer darkside as a temptation, with things like offering a flat +10 bonus to all resolution rolls and defenses for a round when a player wishes to use a Force Point from time to time, or for an entire encounter if I really want to get them to take it. But, yes, more often than not, I stick to using DSPs as more of a punishment than a temptation.

    Here's a scenario I just ran in my campaign recently, and you be the judge if you think I was correct.

    I've been incorporating the Dawn of Defiance adventures into my own Star Wars campaign and just recently got to the module with the Nazren uprising. One of the players is playing a very much straight-laced soldier that was a Imperial Supporter until he became disillusioned by seeing the darker side of things. Well, while he and another player, a scout, were scouting the lay of the land - the city in which the adventure takes place, they came across a group of Compnor Soldiers and Stormtroopers yanking a Nazren female out of her home. She was holding a baby, which one the Compnor agent in charge tore from the woman's arms and casually tossed aside like it was a sack of potatoes. This brought both players to action, attacking the Imps. Eventually, the Imps realizing they were outclassed, tried to run away. The players gave chase, even after encountering more troopers. BY this point the rest of the group was involved. Finally, the Imps realized they couldn't run away, they tried surrendering, well the Compnor Forces did, as they weren't mindless troopers. The player of the straight-laced soldier walked up to the Compnor Commander, who by this point was disarmed and on his knees, that tossed the baby aside, and essentially executed the Compnor Commander. I was fine with everything except for the execution, with which he took a darkside point for and if I didn't know any better, gladly took it. Why did I do it? Because the Compnor agent was by that point disarmed and on his knees, defenseless.
    I had not problem with the killing of Imps during the running gunfight, just the killing that took place after the surrender and disarming of weapons.

    So, fire away...was the execution a Darkside point worthy event or not?

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    Quote Originally Posted by korhal23 View Post
    ...The Dark Side is supposed to be alluring. It is supposed to tempt everyone with more power, even if said power is not as it seems. The Dark Side should be present in the game through Dark Side powers like Force Lightning, but also through the GM offering slight bonuses in exchange for Dark Side points. When a player goes to spend a Force point to enhance a roll, offer them an extra d6 (or d8 if they're Strong in the Force) in exchange for a Dark Side point. The Dark Side lends it's power to those in combat... so every now and then, offer more power to players in exchange for Dark Side.... did they leave an enemy with only a few HP? Offer an instant killing blow for a point. Is one of them severely injured? Offer them a small swift action heal (their rage letting them ignore some pain/damage... a d8 or so should be sufficient). Did they miss an attack by one? Offer for their hate to guide their hand...

    ...I think you'll find this to be a FAR more appropriate application of the Dark Side in your game. Don't use it to slap someone for being an imperfect person. Use it to tempt, to corrupt, to destroy, just like the Dark Side actually does in the Star Wars universe.
    Yes, yes! To Korhal23 you listen! The temptation of the Dark Side was handled beautifully in Star Wars D6 and, consequently, I created my own similar house rules for Saga which was otherwise lacking in real "punch" when it came to properly representing the struggle between light and dark.

    The Dark Side promises power and control. Whether or not you actually benefit from that power is irrelevant...but it will offer to help you when you are most desperate, most in need, most filled with unchecked emotion...in short, when you are most willing to pay any price for victory.

    As far as the whole "actions versus intent" debate, there is one key phrase that I stick too when it comes to Jedi and following the Code:

    "The ends are as important as the means."

    A Jedi must have good intent as well as proper course of action in order to most effectively walk the path of the Light.
    --- Merged from Double Post ---
    Quote Originally Posted by Dytrrnikl View Post
    ...So, fire away...was the execution a Darkside point worthy event or not?
    Absolutely. Especially per the description that you gave of the scene, the character(s) made a deliberate and intentional decision to kill the Compnor commander even after the point at which he was submissive and unable to defend himself. That is premeditated murder and is the definition of a Dark Side act. However the character might try to justify the action within their own mind, the Dark Side does not care.

    As an old rule of thumb from the Star Wars D6 RPG: "If a player has to spend more than a few seconds describing why an act does not deserve a Dark Side Point, odds are that the act is evil and the Dark Side Point should remain."
    Last edited by Webhead; 07-10-2009 at 01:53 AM. Reason: Automerged Double Post
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    Han shot in self defense, Greedo was likely going to turn Han in (to be killed) or kill him shortly.
    I agree with this as it was presented in the update with Greedo actually being shown as shooting first. The original where Han shot Greedo under the table, without Greedo firing off a shot I contend is questionable and may warrant a warning or maybe a Darkside point. Was greedo really going to shoot? Or did he simply have the blaster out to add emphasis to dire circumstances of crossing Jabba?

    It would mean Jedi in the movies and comics would be rapidly gaining dark side points. Would Yoda gain Darkside point when he knocked the guards out by using the force?
    There's a sidebar on page 93 of the SECR titled BEWARE THE DARKSIDE, that states "...if you want a campaign where all of the heroes must constantly strive against the lure of the dark side, then the GM should increase a character's Dark Side Score for even the most minor transgressions...", which is exactly the type of game I run. Of course, that same side bar also states that if you don't want heroes to slipping to the dark side to be a major theme, be less strict with how DSPs are given.

    Also, From page 94 of the SECR, it states under MODERATE TRANSGRESSIONS, referring to Darkside Transgressions:
    "Any of the following transgressions might increase a character's Dark Side score by 1, at the GM's discretion:
    USING THE FORCE TO CAUSE UNDUE HARM: Many uses of the Force are not overtly of the dark side, but they can be harmful or even fatal in their applications. When a Force power that isn't specifically tied to the dark side is used to harm living beings, the GM should consider increasing the character's Dark Side score by 1. ..."
    For me, I say yes, Yoda or not. However, this is only in regard to Force Powers specifically excluding the use of a lightsaber or lightsaber related technique.

    Obi-Wan would have gotten darkside points when he force slam droids because he could've destroyed them with lightsaber.
    You have a point here. In all honesty though, I've never - nor would I, award DSPs for using the Force against a droid. There constructs, machines, nothing more. Yes, this contradicts what I've been saying. However, what if said droids were housing some sort of living sentient being? Or, if said droids were somehow truly sentient and free-willed, like Johnny 5 from the Short Circuit movie? Then I'd have to consider awarding a DSP.

    Once again he would've obtain a darkside point when he attempted to push Vader.
    I always interpreted that scene as Obi-Wan counteracting Vader's attempt at pushing him, sort of like parrying or blocking. More than likely though, I would've classified it in the Moderate DS Transgressions, and would lean strongly towards a DSP being given.

    Why is attacking through self defense through the force more evil then attacking with pistol or even a lightsaber?
    Well, the cop out answer would be, because I'm the GM and I say so. That notwithstanding, it's because I've always seen Star Wars as striving to do the right thing, which isn't always easy, sometimes well-nigh impossible. Not so much about being lured to the darkside, as falling to it out of weakness and lack of strength. It's how I run my games. I like heroic stories, which for me does not include morally grey areas. It's about doing the right thing even if there might be a slightly easier, morally grey path to accomplish what you seek.

    However, to answer your question...
    I've always interpreted Force Powers that cause harm...excluding the use of a lightsaber and lightsaber related techniques, damage to living beings, as being a corruption of the Force. How can a Jedi be serene and at peace with the Force if using it to - Force Grip (using the Force to choke or crush your enemy) or Force Slam (pound one or more creatures with the Force)? For me, Jedi can't. Other powers are on a case by case basis. If it's a non-damaging Force power or one that cause damage as a side effect like Force Thrust, I see that as an ambiguous use of the Force. If it's suspect, it's DSP worthy. Throw in a Force Point to increase the damage and it's no longer ambiguous, it's falls into corruption of the Force. Using a pistol or a lightsaber to attack in self-defense aren't corruptions of the Force. They are tools that are being used when something easier exists, the Force, to accomplish the same thing. Take the easier path and fall to dark side at your peril.

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    I acknowledge that your interpretation is by the optional rules sidebars. That said, I think that it really doesn't mesh that well with what is presented in the books or the movies. If a character is exceptionally weak willed, I could see the swift application of Force Points, but for someone who has a wisdom above, say, 11 or 12, DSPs shouldn't be so easily acquired. Besides, I'd think slamming someone to the ground with the Force would, in most cases, be less fatal (if still incapacitating) than a slice through the gut with a beam of a lightsaber.

    Vapaad, the lightsaber style created by Mace Windu, is exceptionally brutal and violent... So much so that without fail, everyone he taught it to fell to the Dark Side... except for himself. This is, if nothing else, to show that wisdom and control of your emotions are the real key, not necessarily what you do. Allow me to clarify:

    In your example, yes absolutely the player deserved a DSP. What he committed was no longer defense of himself, or the woman or child in the scene, it was now cold blooded murder. Heinous act, worthy of a DSP, and if you remember in my first post I stated the murder of someone who was surrendering was DSP worthy. However, in a combat where both sides are engaging the other, I feel that the rules change a tad. Now, so long as the player is not using a Force Power with the intent to cause undue suffering (such as, say, if there's an enemy Imperial who you KNOW can not swim, using Move Object to fling him into the middle of a deep lake would be undue trauma), he is in the clear in my book.

    What I suggest is this: if you want to give DSPs out with a higher frequency, at least allow for a check to counteract it, probably based off wisdom... Some Jedi are in better control of their emotions and can use such powers, and should be allowed to. I suggest a DC 10 wisdom check for most cases. From there, modify it: -5 if to defend and ally or an innocent in immediate danger, or if you offered a chance to surrender and were declined, +5 for revenge (i.e., if you're fighting one guy and his buddy shoots you, turning to zap said buddy), etc... I think personally that someone's Wisdom should play into the situation to a degree.

    Beyond that, consider Mara Jade. Okay, so she's no bastion of the Light, ever, really. But she does become legitimiately good, yet retains her control of the Dark Side of the Force. She becomes strong willed enough to resist its pull while using it as a tool. Should your whole party be made of Maras? No. But there IS precedent in the Star Wars universe for people using the Force is a "dark" way, such as Mace or Mara, without falling to the "Dark Side". And that's an element that should be present in any adaption of the universe.
    Fighter: "I can kill a guy in one turn."
    Cleric: "I can kill a guy in half a turn."
    Wizard: "I can kill a guy before my turn."
    Bard: "I can get three idiots to kill guys for me."

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