Monday, January 9, 2012

TOR - Good vs Evil, and Light vs Dark

Spend twenty seconds (maybe less) around anything Star Wars related, and you'll be exposed to the Force in some form or another.  Good, bad, may the Force be with you - all of these things come up when interacting within the universe of Star Wars.  Instinctively, and though observation, we come to learn that the Light side of the Force is all that is "good", and the Dark side is "evil".  Here's where my questions begin though.  As a confession, I'll admit that my research is pretty limited on this, and entire philosphy courses are held just to discuss the concept of "Evil" - so here's my thoughts in blog post.

Dark Side vs Light Side

In TOR, most of the interactions (read, quests) that you conduct will at some point give you an opportunity to gain either points in either Light or Dark, and that choice is generally pretty clear cut.  Kill someone, and you're probably going Dark.  Let someone live, and it's the Light for you.  Of course, then you get past death, and you really run into some grey areas.

An ealy Sith Inquisitor quest gives you the opportunity to torture someone with lightning, Palpatine style.  This action of course, earns you Dark points, but gets you the information you want.  Now, on the Jedi Knight side, you have an opportunity to use a "Jedi mind trick" to convince some Twi'leks that they need to move on about their business - yet this is a neutral action (note that slaying them all is Dark). 

What the hell?  Since when did physical torture override mental manipulation as "evil"?  Ask anyone who's been conned, or even really tricked or maniuplated, how they feel, and it's often compared to mental rape.  That's what the Jedi just did, he went in and violated your mind and your free will, to get what he wanted.  Obi-wan on Tattooine, again with the death stick incident in Clones (yes, I've watched all the movies, including Jar-Jar).  Are you really going to tell me that the incident with Qui-gon and the giant fish at the start of Episode I wasn't him bringing some fish in?

What about the Jedi vs the Sith in TOR?  As a Jedi Consular you're throwing rocks, droids, chairs, etc at your enemies - generally with the intention of killing them.  Sith, you're shooting lightning like you're working for Texas Electric.  Why is one action inherently worse than the other?

Getting Deeper

Now, this is where I think that the users of the Light side claim that the ends justify the means - as long as it's done within a certin set of boundries.  Flesh Eaters are attacking a settlement and killing off the refugees.  You go out, find the ring of some dead leader, and along the way are given a side quest of killing say 20 Flesh Raiders along the way.  Now I know this is an MMO, and quests are part of the gig, but is this really any different than Anakin killing off all the Tuskan Raiders? 

Maybe if the quest giver (the guy who sends you off to find his father) had done the killing instead, HE would be turning to the dark path.  Since it was done by proxy though (granted you don't kill of any younglings, maybe that's the line in the sand?), it's all OK?  It really seems to me that it's all kind of arbitrary, as the Jedi are just as big a group of killing machines as the Sith.

Stage Two - You are a lying son of a bitch

OK, so we've kind of established (though this very scientific and well researched post) that killing people seems to be Dark, and mind control is "Light".  It seems lying and betrayal can also fall into the Light side, since there is more than one quest where you change your stance on something.  Oh, you mean the crazy old man wasn't telling the truth?  Well here, let me do the right thing for you, and I'll just TELL him I did the deed.  He'll never know.  If he does question it, I can just mind trick him, or threaten him.  Those appear to be valid responses, though I can't just shoot him.

Same thing goes with the damn companions.  You might think you're saying the right thing, but then noooo, that -1 appears because you've crossed some imaginary line in the sand.  These people are more fickle than a prom queen.  Even if you're ignoring their reactions they still have to butt in with their opinions every now and then.

The Light and the Empire

The real bitch of this whole thing is, the Empire is clearly the evil faction in Star Wars.  You can make a pretty legitimate case for the Horde and the Alliance in WoW, but it's really tough to try and say the Empire is actually a bunch of misunderstood good guys with a different agenda.  Sure, the Republic does its fair share of dastardly deeds (heaven help you if you're poor on Coruscant), but I think the overall goal is for "good". 

This kind of throws you in a lurch if you want to play a character of the opposite force side.  A fallen Jedi?  A goody goody Bounty Hunter?  Actually, I have both of those, but it still makes life interesting.  I'm also fairly certain that Light Side choices give me better rewards than Dark Side, which is pretty much a bunch of crap.  At the very least I should be checking the pockets of people I impale.

In the end

In reality, at this point of the game, your Light/Dark choices are purely a RP tool.  You get to look all evil if you go Dark, and there are of course some game changes either way - but nothing that will basically end your character.  I do think that would be a funny option though.  Mouth off to a Darth and he just up and kills you.  No Medical Facility rez, just reroll.  I'd play that game.

I think I'm just irritated by the whole Light side thing.  Part of this may stem from my disdain of organized religion (don't even get me started on that - it's bad enough my wife is Catholic).  Really though, if you can say that it's impossible to understand the ways of the Force, and the Force brought us together, how do you know the Force didn't bring my lightsaber into your gut?  Oh, NOW you question the Force.  This is why evil wins.  They cheat.

Here's to lying, cheating, and killing my way through TOR.  One rebel scum at a time.


  1. Speaking of jedi mind tricks, one of my fav moments so far in the bounty hunter story is when this jedi tries to use his mind trick on you and one of the response choices has you waving your hand in front of him saying "you are making yourself look stupid" :)

    1. BH spoiler

      Yeah I just experienced this part on my BH alt. If I remember correctly the choices were. 1. see above. 2 are you retarded or something? 3. wtf?

  2. Not sure if Light vs Dark is purely good vs evil. I think its more about selflessness vs selfishness. Jedi think about the big picture and what would save many while the Sith only care about themselves. Jedi also make their decisions based on logic while Sith on pure emotions. Jedi's basically are Buddhist while the Sith are Buddhist seek not to be.

    1. That's quite an astute observation Anon. Star Trek (original series) had the same back and forth play with logic vs emotion in the kirk, spock and mccoy triumvirate with kirk representing a blend of the two. Certainly none of their actions were evil but their motivations came from very different sources.

      The dark side does have an evil bend to it though, its philosophies do align itself with many characteristics we consider evil (causing pain and suffering in others, for pain and suffering's sake). But Adgamorix's post is spot on in saying that the light side doesn't seem to let morality get in the way of some of its choices. Light side seems more concerned with the outcome with little care to the path taken there.

      A logical, "big picture" course of action can certainly be characterized as evil and I think you're seeing that in this game. We're also quite familiar with seeing logic and "big picture" used to justify evil actions in our own world.

  3. Ive played a commando a bit and the Light/Dark choices on republic seem a lot less dark. Instead of give me info now I cut your head off it's don't give the twerp the money to leave planet because he is ashamed of his actions.

  4. You started to malke so,e interesting points then you showed your true colors.

    Maybe you should've have started with your last comment and saved us all the trouble of even thinking of giving ou some credit.


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