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I'm preparing a campaign of Star Wars Saga Edition, and I'm stuck with two of my player's backgrounds. The campaign takes place in 3 659 BBY, and the party is mainly composed of Sith.

The characters, a Jawa (Bob) and a droid HK-51 (John), serve the same master, a Sith Lord. The Jawa has became a Sith's acolyte, but is not supposed to possess a lightsaber. Nonetheless, he has disobeyed his master, and crafted one by himself in secret.

The problem is, "a HK-51 is fully and only loyal to his master, and would sacrifice his existence, rather than betray him in any way". My droid-player is really devoted to this aspect of his character.

The Jawa and me suggested two options:

  1. The Jawa managed to put a "control bolt" (literally translated from French) on the droid, preventing John from telling Bob's secret to their master. The droid maintains that he would prefer to destroy himself.

  2. The Jawa could be in charge of the maintenance of the droid. Thus, John could calculate that it's best for everyone if he doesn't denounce Bob: their master could use two servants rather than one. John said that he would still denounce Bob, as he is fully loyal to their master.

Now, as a player, I understand the devotion of John toward his character. But, as a first time DM, it's kind of tricky to come out with a solution.

Is there a way to prevent John denouncing Bob?

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marked as duplicate by GMJoe, Tritium21, MrLemon, Maximillian, SevenSidedDie Apr 28 '15 at 14:35

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    \$\begingroup\$ If the Jawa is in charge of maintaining the droid, why doesn't he just roll up some kind of memory hack about the light sabre? \$\endgroup\$ – Smithers Apr 25 '15 at 17:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Has the droid player presented any alternative options? \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Apr 25 '15 at 19:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer None. He knows it's difficult to deal with his behavior, and apologies, but want to stay true to his concept. \$\endgroup\$ – Nyakouai Apr 25 '15 at 19:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ You mentioned in comments below that you are still prepping. Do they both have to be beholden to the same sith master? \$\endgroup\$ – atk Apr 26 '15 at 0:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ The droid may prefer to destroy itself, but it will not since its master has entrusted it to carry out its duties, and destroying itself will go against its master's will. The droid, of course, will actively go about finding ways to circumvent the restraint.... \$\endgroup\$ – user11450 Apr 26 '15 at 2:06
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There are a few methods of ensuring a droid's obedience in the Star Wars Universe, the main ones being seen or discussed in the movies.

Restraining Bolts

A restraining bolt is a device used to control a droid, usually by forcing it to shutdown or controlling it's motor functions. In A New Hope, R2-D2 is fitted with one, and he even tricks Luke into removing it for him so that he can run away.

Since it can alter the droids functions, it is clear that executing code isn't impossible for such a device. Since you're using saga edition, I'd suggest having the character making a computer use check at a DC of 20 (or finding/paying someone who can) to create a modified version of a restraining bolt that could execute malicious code related to the Jawa's use of a lightsaber. Be wary of this option, however, as taking partial control of another's character isn't fun for them...

Memory Wipe

A memory wipe is a procedure in which the droid is basically reset to its factory setting. although this would work, it would essentially reset the droid character, which is clearly not fun the the droid's player. As such, I highly discourage this option...

However, a droid's memories are usually stored into files somewhere on the SW equivalent of a hard drive. These files can be altered, deleted or replaced. If the Jawa's player could create a modified version of a restraining bolt that would activate each time he uses his lightsaber, he could probably run some code that would scramble the files pertaining to the droid's recent memories. The droid would simply not remember a few minutes of its day, but can still progress as a character normally.

This alteration could be discovered, however. Someone aware of the issue could look into things more closely. Upon installation, have the Jawa make a mechanics check and keep this roll somewhere. Someone looking into the droid would have to beat this check to find the restraining bolt (I'm assuming it's gonna be hidden...). Someone looking at the droid's altered memory files could find a pattern in the scrambling (Computer Use DC15), enough to know that the droid is under the effect of a recurring anomaly. Success on this check should grant a +5 bonus to mechanics checks made to discover the restraining bolt.

Use Guile

While your campaign takes places 2½ millennia before the Rule of Two, the Sith were still a very competitive cult. Even at this time, challenges between Sith were not unheard of. What if the droid was so loyal to its master that it would lie about the lightsaber? The droid, being exposed to the Sith philosophy, could view the rebelling apprentice as a test of his master's dominance. He wishes for his master to be strong, to be powerful, but knows that a Sith shouldn't be given anything, they must take it for themselves and earn it through ordeals and trials. And a weak master isn't worthy of such a good droid, isn't he?

If you decide to go along these lines, it wouldn't be impossible for the Jawa to convince the droid that Sith apprentices are expected to hide stuff from their master, and that the droid shouldn't interfere. The droid could then consider this secret as part of a "worthiness test" for his master, to see that he is indeed growing more powerful as a Sith.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the part of "use guile" whilst I don't know much about star wars campaigns, this is a wonderful concept. (though I don't know how charismatic and persuasive a jawa can be), but it's a beautiful idea here, and would prove the jawa's strength as a sith \$\endgroup\$ – Cataru Moore Apr 26 '15 at 1:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Another twist in the idea in "Use Guile" could be that part of the whole reason that a Sith Lord is strong is through their experiences dealing with treacherous subordinates. The droid's standing orders could very well be to support the acolyte's endeavors insofar as it doesn't require the droid to actively oppose his masters plans. \$\endgroup\$ – user11450 Apr 26 '15 at 2:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ An easy "Use guile" option: The droid tells the sith lord. The sith lord replies: "I know. Let him think you have not told me; If he thinks you keep his secrets, he will surely share more." \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Apr 27 '15 at 3:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ "taking partial control of another's character isn't fun for them" I never understood this. Psychologically I can think of three main reasons for "My Guy Syndrome" 1) The player is emotional invested, not in playing the character, but ruining the game for everyone else. They literally need to to am obstacle to their party to have fun. (controlling them to prevent this will ruin their fun). 2) they are not having fun, and feel trapped in "my guy syndrome" \$\endgroup\$ – Jonathon Aug 13 '15 at 15:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ 3) The player is emotionally invested in playing their character. Acting is the reason they play the game. They are stuck in the history, lore, and character of their character (but absolutely do not want to ruin the game for others). They do not enjoy making their party suffer, but do not want to break character either, any help the party can offer to get around this dilemma is not only good for everyone involved but in many cases makes the character even more interesting. adding some hack to the droid to get around his loyalty just makes him a more interesting character, with a cool history \$\endgroup\$ – Jonathon Aug 13 '15 at 15:31
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Unlike the real world, you (and your players, depending on what you want to share) get to cheat and know the future. You even get to command the future.

The point of contention seems to be the perception that "Bob uses a light saber" and "John tells the master" are actually in conflict.

But they don't have to be.

There are all sorts of ways that Bob could be allowed to continue use of the light saber despite his master knowing of it. Off the top of my head:

  • The master wants to dupe Bob into believing Bob is able to pull one over on him
  • The master decides to watch things play out for a while, using John to keep him informed about Bob's actions
  • The master confronts Bob and demands a suitable sacrifice to be allowed use of a light saber
  • The master simply inflicts punishment on Bob for using of the light saber
  • The master isn't actually capable of directly preventing Bob's use of the light saber, or has reasons to be unwilling to do so, such as a conflict with subordinates harming his standing with his rivals
  • The master is willing to give Bob a chance to earn the right to use the light saber
  • The master appreciates initiative, and is willing to look the other way or even praise Bob, so long as Bob continues to please him, or at least isn't cravenly about it
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Yes. Don't let Bob make a lightsaber, or don't let John denounce him (probably requiring him to make another character), or don't have the Master ban lightsabers.

From Bob's perspective, John is exhibiting 'My Guy' syndrome. Bob wants a lightsaber wielding Sith and John is saying he can't have one. Bob is thus justifiably upset because saying "my character wouldn't let the game be fun" isn't a good reason not to let the game be fun. You can look at other questions about 'My Guy' syndrome and how to deal with it on this site for more information.

From your question, though, it looks like there might be more at play here. John has chosen to play an extremely loyal character, and may feel like he is being forced to play out-of-character just so Bob can have a toy it doesn't make any sense for him to have. Bob getting his lightsaber and John not getting to do anything about it doesn't just get Bob a lightsaber, it changes John's character in fundamental ways without him having any say in the matter. John, then, is reasonably upset that he's being told "Sure, you can play this character, who you are actually interested in playing" and then told "We're just gonna ignore that now".

The difference between this and "My Guy" syndrome is that John actually want to have That Guy. He may well not be trying to play this character because he feels like doing a different character would be 'bad rp', but because he wants to play this character he came up with, who would act in certain ways, which hadn't previously been a deal-breaker, but now are being disallowed.

Coming up with an excuse as to why John doesn't have his character tell Master Splinter that Bob's character broke the rules doesn't fix anything here: at best the answer is "you haven't told him yet because (you don't know about the lightsaber, there's no call boxes on Venus, you think you did but Bob impersonated him, etc)" and John's character will find out and tell Master Splinter very rapidly, or be forced to carry the idiot ball.

Essentially what you need to do is figure out a few things, and then make a decision. The things you need to figure out are:

Can Master Splinter just not ban lightsaber making?

If not:

How important is it to Bob that he gets a lightsaber?
How important is it to John that he plays this character?
Is being in-character something your group values? (Hint: John's answer is yes, Bob's answer might well be no.)
Is stopping other party members from getting loot ok?
What makes Bob's character being ratted on a problem?
Would it be a problem if it happened in the first session instead of in backstory?

And then, assuming no solutions equitable to both people show up:

Who are you going to side with this time? (Siding with one of them is the right choice. Compromise solutions here will just make both players unhappy, unless they are fake compromises (like you were suggesting in your question) which will just make John even more unhappy than siding with Bob in the long run)
Why are you siding with them?
Are you consistently siding with the same person on these kinds of issues? If so, think about that and reconsider your choice.

Some groups I've seen find it useful to explicitly note that e.g. John is changing his character so the Bob can have a thing, so that abusive situations (where one person gets all the things at the expense of another) are easier to detect and diffuse. I haven't found this necessary ever, but you could try it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Precisions: We're still preparing the campaign. All the player's are working on their background. We do it mainly for fun, so most of my player have funny but coherent background. The idea of a Jawa Sith was comic, and the group agreed to let Bob create his character. John is fan of droid, and his fun come from playing one. I don't want to side with one or another, just find a way to let them both enjoy this campaign. It's the first time that I have to DM. \$\endgroup\$ – Nyakouai Apr 25 '15 at 17:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Nyakouai I understand that the players are still prepping. That doesn't change anything. The two characters cannot coexist in a non-antagonistic relationship as described. One of them has to give up something. Either that someone is Bob, or it's John, or it's you. This isn't just an issue of background. If this issue is more unimportant to one of them, you should obviously go with the player more invested in the issue. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Apr 25 '15 at 18:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ For example, if John just wants to play a droid and isn't actually attached to the idea of being super loyal you could go with a solution like modifying the Droid's loyalty code or something. But based on the question that doesn't seem to be the case. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Apr 25 '15 at 18:03
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Tell the droid's player to be a little more flexible

You and the jawa's player have suggested several ways for all the characters to coexist peacefully. The droid's player has rejected these ways. Considering that it's probably a bigger deal to deny a Sith a lightsaber than deny a droid its campaign-breaking loyalty to its master, the droid's player's inflexibility is this problem's crux.

The droid's player sounds like he wants to play a flowchart instead of a character. In his effort to be true to his character he's sacrificing the fun he could have had with the other PCs on the alter of loyalty to an NPC... before the campaign's even begun. You can run a one-on-one game for the droid character and have the droid's player make a different character for the campaign you'd planned on—you know, the one that involves subverting the will of the Sith master—, but, otherwise, there's no other compromising with that player's vision for his character. He's made a lieutenant whose only loyalty is to the leader instead of the other PCs, and that's just not conducive to party cohesion. Either the player needs to allow his character to bend or the player needs a different character.

The jawa Sith will end up with a lightsaber, the droid will report him, something will happen to the jawa Sith because of the droid's betrayal, and that fallout will be have to be dealt with both in game and between players. That's probably not a position you, as a first-time GM, want to be in for your first campaign.

You're lucky the campaign has yet to begin. It really is better to deal with this kind of inability to compromise now instead of letting it go and trying to fix it during the campaign. Explaining beforehand that characters must function with the group or the character can't be in the group is important in a role-playing game, and the droid character that's been proposed means never subverting the master's will, which is an important part of the campaign. Tell the droid's player either to make a new character or make the droid more flexible.

The player's description of the droid character as it stands means the campaign will be less fun for everyone, including the droid's player.

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    \$\begingroup\$ All the PCs serve the same Master. I see no indication that Bob is definitely in the right and John in the wrong. What if the campaign was about working for said Sith master? Would that still be a problem? Why not just tell Bob his campaign-breaking illegal light-saber crafting has to go and maybe run a one-on-one with the rogue apprentice? I don't think this one-sided portrayal is really fair. Furthermore, consider that all the proposed solutions involve "my guy is better/more real than your guy, so he controls your guy to fix the problem". \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Apr 25 '15 at 18:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer When offered solutions, the droid's player rejected them, and offered no alternatives. That's just not fair in an enterprise like RPGs that strives for fairness. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 25 '15 at 19:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm reminded of the classic scenario (e.g. here, and the following comic) where the chaotic evil guy wants to kill a pair of guards, the lawful good girl doesn't want to kill anyone, so the evil guy kills just one of them, and claims that to be a compromise (although in the linked comic, he's clearly trolling). Just because solutions have been suggested doesn't mean it's a good idea to actually accept them or anything leaning towards them; an untenable alternative to an untenable situation is still untenable. \$\endgroup\$ – user11450 Apr 26 '15 at 2:46
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Hmmmm from what I read (at least how you formulated things) it sounds like there is also an additional problem there. But first to your basic question:

I don't see much of a problem in the basic layout. The master and the jawa are both sith. The sith culture revolves around betrayal and growing through emotions and betrayals. So if he is an intelligent master he would expect his pupil to betray him sooner or later (more sooner). Also the droid should know about that anyway.

With that in mind there come a few possible solutions into mind:

  • Let the droid denounce him. It would be a lesson to the pupil and the master as he expects no less from his pupil will probably only be angry that he was so stupid to get caught by the droid without destroying it. Thus he will probably force light (or whatever he prevers) the jawa for a bit to teach him this lesson and then leave it at that. The jawa could probably keep the lightsaber but not expect his master to teach him anything about it until he proves that despite his failure he is still worth something
  • Don't let the jawa make the lightsaber. This could be difficult as I guess the player WANTS to wield one. A solution to this would be if the player has the OPTION to find/acquire one during the first adventure. If the master only told him to NOT try to build one the droid has nothing to denounce him for there.
  • A "do nothing" solution would be if the droid player considers pro and cons (in character). Sith are expected to betray each other anyway, and denouncing every little failure to his master serves not really a purpose as the master EXPECTS failures and will punish him for that anyway and if he overlooks failings of his own pupil he has a problem anyway as the other sithlords will not be as non killing as his pupil is to him. Furthermore a lightsaber wielding pupil is a stronger asset than one without. Thus in total the droid could wait to see if the pupil is strong enough AND is doing it to further the goals of his master and only denounce him if he feels like the pupil is trying to betray his master (instead of furthering his goals) or if he finds the pupil as too weak for his master and a shame (always good for a sith or sith droid to have something of impoertance to tell the master in case they have a failure of their own at their hands.....although they should be faster than the master electroluting them to death).

The possible additional problem: From what it sounded like "the droid would prefer to destroy himself". That sounds almost like the PLAYER is not interested in any solution to this problem. If I were you I would make sure that that is NOT the case as else regardless what option you choose you have a problem at hands! I've seen something like that a few times and here we call it (translated into english) jealiousy about food. With other words the droid is jealous about the plaything the jawa gets. If that is the case maybe give him the option to acquire lightsabers himself (Griveous comes to mind?^^)

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