Reference Book: Star Wars Saga Edition Galaxy at War
During The Rebellion Era, the largest, most powerful, and most cohesive military force is controlled by the Empire. The increased militarization started by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine during the Clone Wars is enhanced by fierce nationalism, xenophobia, and fears of destabilization. Constant warfare keeps the Imperial military in a heightened state of readiness for decades, and insurgent uprisings on a number of worlds sharpen the skills of Imperial officers and the troops that serve beneath them.
Thousands of military vessels crewed by millions of loyal Imperial troops cruise space in defense of the Empire. They possess the best weapons and equipment available, along with the tenacity and training to use them to the best effect. In addition, Emperor Palpatine- a charismatic and seemingly selfless leader- has made it his goal to see that their way of life is not tarnished by corruption, terrorism, or the threat of primitive and debauched non-Human societies.
How can they lose?
The Imperial Viewpoint Edit
Not all Imperial characters are evil, soulless beings in thrall to the Emperor. By the time of the Battle of Yavin, Emperor Palpatine has been in power for nearly three decades. For many of the young men and women serving in the Empire's military forces, Emperor Palpatine's rule is all they have ever known. In their eyes, Imperial rule is the status quo. Their parents might remember the frightening years leading up to the Clone Wars, the campaigns against the Confederacy, and the duplicity of The Jedi.
The past shows that Emperor Palpatine has single-handedly saved billions of loyal citizens from the enemies of his people, bringing the Republic back from the brink of anarchy. At a time when a strong hand is required to control the Senate and the corruption that riddles it, the Emperor is unafraid of doing what is necessary. In the following years, he ensures that peace and prosperity become the right and privilege of every loyal Imperial citizen. To deny these truths is to deny reality. A generation of loyal Imperial citizens stand ready to defend their way of life. History is written by the victor, and Emperor Palpatine's victory over The Jedi has been told and retold a thousand times.
The pitiful rebels who dare to oppose Imperial rule are merely remnants of the Separatist movement, displaced senators, Jedi fanatics, and criminal elements who are fueled by the same greed and corruption that pervaded The Galactic Republic. They are little better than terrorists, and the holofeeds continue to broadcast reports of their futile attempts to overthrow the Emperor's New Order. If not for their cowardly tactics, these rebel insurgents would have been brought to heel decades ago.
The Emperor and his servants ensure that every citizen is informed of the war's progress through detailed, first-hand accounts and moving political holofeeds. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, for terrorists lurk just out of sight, waiting for the Empire to drop its guard so that they can strike again. Although some freedoms must be sacrificed, the alternative is unthinkable. Loyal citizens are encouraged to report any suspicious activity immediately.
Beyond the order of the Empire lies the lawlessness of The Outer Rim Territories. Other systems are under the sway of rebel propaganda or controlled by criminal elements. The war must be waged within these systems, as well. After all, it would be a crime to deny these countless sentient beings the gifts of Emperor Palpatine's benevolent rule. Within a generation or two, they might also thank the Emperor for his efforts.
As a loyal citizen of the Empire, you know that the war is horrible, true, but it must be prosecuted to maintain your way of life. You know a number of people who have lost loved ones to acts of rebel terrorism or who have family members serving in either the Imperial Army or Navy. These selfless individuals put the well-being of of the New Order before their own, and risk their lives in battle for the greater good. Their sacrifices cannot have been made in vain.
Given that point of view, can you blame the average Imperial citizen for his or her beliefs?
Imperial Characters Edit
Imperial citizens might seem to be deluded, but they do not have the benefit of our extensive knowledge of their universe or of the evil that pervades the highest levels of their government. They take many factors for granted, and they are rewarded with a semblance of normality and order that others might consider repressive. But in the long run, what makes them wrong?
One of the most interesting military-themed games has loyal Imperial subjects as heroes. It can be a great deal of fun to throw convention out the window and participate in the war from the Imperial point of view. Their ideology might be rooted in lies, but the motives of loyal Imperial troops and civilians are much the same as those of more traditional Rebellion Era heroes.
Types of Imperial Campaigns Edit
Campaigns for Imperial characters are limited only by your imagination. The obvious choice is for the heroes to fight against rebel insurgents or worlds that are hostile toward Imperial occupation. However, the galaxy offers plenty of opportunities for the Empire to run afoul of potential enemies.
The following sections discuss potential conflicts between the Empire and a number of other factions. Imperial campaigns can focus on one such conflict or mix and match multiple conflicts, as you see fit.
Against Non-Humans Edit
The Empire is dominated by Human interests. Despite the vast number of non-Human Species throughout the galaxy, Imperial doctrine becomes more and more exclusive, favoring the Human Species over all others. With few exceptions, the Imperial military is dominated by Human officers and enlisted troops. On occasion, particularly notable non-Humans make an impact on the war machine- Grand Admiral Thrawn, for example- but these are rare.
As new worlds are discovered or as old ones are conquered, the potential for the Imperial military to clash with non-Humans becomes more and more likely. These types of struggles occur on planets such as Mon Calamari and Kashyyyk, where the dominant Species of both worlds are relegated to slave labor for their Imperial masters.
The Empire uses its technological superiority to overcome primitive natives. This can lead to one-sided battles where the Empire crushes its non-Human opposition with overwhelming force. However, this does not have to be the case, and many non-Human Species have managed to develop their own advanced technology that can, in some cases, meet or surpass the capabilities of the Empire.
Adventure Hooks Edit
Non-Human Species in The Outer Rim have formed a coalition to oppose Imperial expansion into their space. The Empire, however, has other plans, and conflict is inevitable. Although hardly able to match the Imperial fleet, non-Humans know that the Empire is spread thinly across the galaxy, and they are hoping to make Imperial control of their space more costly than it is worth.
A strange Species from unknown space has invaded an Imperial-held system and conquered it in less than a week. The Empire must organize a retaliatory strike and attempt to retake the system, but the Imperials do not yet know exactly what sort of beings they are dealing with.
An uprising has occurred on a world that has been garrisoned by the Empire for the past several years. The native inhabitants of the world rebel, killing or imprisoning the Imperials on their planet. Using weapons and equipment taken from their would-be conquerors, the inhabitants intend to hold onto their planet at all costs.
Against Imperials Edit
As the treachery of such Imperial luminaries as Admiral Demetrius Zaarin shows, the Imperial war machine can turn on itself. Military coups happen all the time, and some are more effective than others. Although Emperor Palpatine is never supplanted by a rival during the years of his rule, a number of attempts are made, not all of which have been made public.
Several ambitious officers serve within the Imperial ranks. Dissatisfied with their situations, officers with enough power can go rogue or attempt to defect to The Rebel Alliance along with the troops under their command. The reasons for such treachery are many and varied, but the result is ultimately the same: troops loyal to the Empire inevitably face their former comrades in combat. An interesting feature of such a campaign is the use of Imperial technology against Imperial technology. TIE Fighters square off against other TIE Fighters, while Imperial troops face enemies with the same equipment and training.
Adventure Hook Edit
An ambitious Imperial Moff has declared the systems under his control to have seceded from the Empire. His troops and officers, loyal to the end, apparently stand with him against the New Order. Whatever the reasons for secession, the Emperor cannot allow an upstart Moff to get away with such an audacious act, and a small fleet of Imperial warships is dispatched to take the system back, one planet at a time.
Against Pirates Edit
Piracy plagues the entire galaxy, and ensuring that the space lanes remain open and free of interstellar predators is the Empire's duty. With the Imperial fleet stretched thin, policing the far-flung reaches of space is difficult, if not impossible. Only when pirates disrupt Imperial logistics do they become a problem worth engaging on a grand scale.
Most pirate bands are small and isolated, but larger pirate fleets can pose a threat to the Empire's space superiority. Using guerilla tactics that have proven successful for The Rebel Alliance, organized pirate bands make hit and fade attacks on Imperial shipping lanes. When these groups become a significant nuisance, the Empire decides to root them out and destroy them, but this is not always as easy as it sounds.
Pirates, especially those in The Outer Rim Territories, rely heavily on the local populace for support. Seen as rebels, heroes, and businessmen, these pirates find it easy to garner support from obscure planets, colonies, and shadowports. After all, they are a source of revenue for lawless settlements, and in a sense, joining a pirate band offers their youth the possibility of a profitable, if dangerous, future.
Adventure Hook Edit
A large pirate armada hailing from an Outer Rim system has raided an Imperial convoy and captured a number of valuable military resources. Top-of-the-line Starfighters, including experimental models from Santhe/Sienar, are among the goods stolen by the pirates. And several high-ranking Imperial fleet officers traveling with the convoy are being held for ransom. The Empire must now dispatch a force to the pirate-controlled system, locate the pirates, and recover the material and officers.
Against The Rebel Alliance Edit
Perhaps the single most common theme in an Imperial military campaign is the fight against The Rebel Alliance. Scattered throughout the galaxy in an attempt to avoid Imperial entanglements, Alliance forces do occasionally congregate in large numbers. At these times, they are most vulnerable to an organized Imperial assault.
The Alliance constantly seeks to bring new star systems into the fold in an attempt to strengthen their legitimacy. By sending small SpecForce units to train indigenous populations in the arts of guerilla warfare as well as by providing seditious groups with weapons and equipment, the Alliance hopes to cultivate unrest on worlds that have been, up until now, peacefully under the sway of the Empire. When such planets become battlegrounds, the Imperial military must crush any resistance and restore order with both full-scale invasions and pinpoint strikes.
Imperial Probe Droids are sent on reconnaissance missions to out-of-the-way sectors in an attempt to locate Alliance facilities. They usually recover little data of any usefulness, but they occasionally have strokes of luck. Bands of pirates and smugglers are surprised when their operations are raided by well-armed Imperial forces looking for rebels. When a bona fide Rebel base is located, however, ripples of excitement course through the Imperial fleet in anticipation of the coming battle.
Adventure Hook Edit
A large Rebel base is found on a populated moon in the Werta System. The base's condition suggests that it has been established for only a short time. With the proper preparations, including an Interdictor-Class Star Destroyer, the entire system can be isolated, and a concentrated Imperial assault can be directed at the moon. Taking rebel prisoners is just as important as neutralizing their defenses, so care must be taken to get the most from this rare and tempting opportunity. However, rumors abound that this stroke of luck might actually be the bait for a cunning Rebel trap.
Types of Imperial Heroes Edit
See also: Imperial Designation Codes
Once you determine the type of campaign you want to pursue, your next task is to determine the role that your heroes play in the story. The Imperial military is a large organization, offering possibilities for advancement that are limited only by a hero's ambitions- as well as the ambitions of any potential rivals.
Below are some of the types of heroic groups you might consider for your campaign. Some are more applicable to long-term campaigns than others, but they all offer an interesting diversion from the type of Star Wars campaigns that your players might be used to.
The Stormtrooper Corps Edit
By the time of the Battle of Yavin, at least two-thirds of the Stormtroopers are of natural-born Human stock. The other third are the products of clone engineering. Only the best candidates from both the Imperial Army and the Imperial Navy are eligible to join the Stormtrooper Corps, and standard height and weight restrictions reduce this number even more. In addition, ideological compatibility with Imperial doctrine is a necessity, and a great many potential candidates are judged unfit based on their psychological profiles.
As the Empire's shock troops, Stormtroopers are used for high-profile missions, especially against The Rebel Alliance and insurgent forces. Judged elite, they are not wasted on mundane missions, and instead support the Empire's doctrine of ruling the galaxy through fear. They are outside the Army's and Navy's chains of command, but they serve aboard Capital Ships and alongside their Army and Navy counterparts.
A units of Stormtrooper heroes makes an excellent basis for a military campaign. The downside to such a campaign is the Stormtroopers' fanatical loyalty to the Emperor, which can result in acts that might not seem heroic. On the other hand, by carefully crafting missions for your group of Stormtrooper heroes, you can lead the campaign away from brutal violence and cultivate rich roleplaying experiences.
Ability Requirements Edit
Heroic Stormtrooper characters must possess the following Feats and Skills: Armor Proficiency (Light), Weapon Focus (Rifles), Weapon Proficiency (Pistols), Weapon Proficiency (Rifles), Weapon Proficiency (Simple Weapons); Trained in Endurance.
Both women and men are permitted to serve in the Stormtrooper Corps, but female Stormtroopers are much less common than their male counterparts.
The Imperial Army Edit
Although they are rarely given screen time, the Imperial Army is the true backbone of the Empire's ground-based might. The Stormtrooper Corps is used to secure high-profile and exceptionally difficult planetary objectives, but the army is called upon to do most of the surface fighting. They also garrison conquered worlds and participate in peacekeeping operations all across the galaxy.
A number of different unit types- such as armor, artillery, engineers, ground support, reconnaissance, and special forces units- serve within the Imperial Army. This makes the options for an Imperial Army campaign incredibly varied. A campaign can center on anything: a group of grunt troops trudging the front lines of a planetary assault, or the tribulations of a tank crew navigating a distant battlefield.
The types of characters allowed within an army unit are also more flexible. Unlike Stormtroopers, army grunts are not necessarily beholden to strict enforcement of Imperial doctrine. They are troopers, plain and simple, and although they fight and die for the Empire, they might not necessarily agree with the orders they are given.
Ability Requirements Edit
Troopers in the Imperial Army must possess a minimum of 10 in both Strength and Constitution. Officers should have above-average Intelligence, Wisdom, and/or Charisma, but no hard and fast rule exists for judging such capabilities.
The true strength of the Empire lies with its naval forces. With such vast interstellar distances to be crossed, the Imperial fleet enforces Imperial law in the spacelanes, transports troops and other resources to distant battlefields, and supports nearly every ground-based action that takes place. So the Imperial Navy's attitude toward the Imperial Army is somewhat less than charitable.
Other than naval-based troopers, few options are open to recruits in the navy. One of these options is that of ship-based TIE Fighter pilots. The operations possible for a squadron of naval pilots is limited only by your imagination. Ground attacks, fleet defense, attacks on pirate and Rebel Alliance shipping, and escort missions are just some of the options. Survivability can be a problem given the relative fragility of the standard TIE model, but elite pilots can be members of TIE Advanced squadrons.
Like the army's troops, naval characters come from many walks of life and possess all manner of political views. Pilots, by necessity, must hold officer ranks, but this does not necessarily mean that they must be of noble birth. A great many Imperial pilots come from humble backgrounds. With such stresses placed on their numbers, the Imperial Academy is less picky about its applicants, especially late in the war.
Ability Requirements Edit
Naval personnel must possess a minimum Intelligence score of 10. Naval officers are expected to possess minimum Intelligence and Wisdom scores of 12 and Charisma scores of at least 14, but this is not strictly enforced, and exceptions are made for political and staffing purposes.
Naval personnel receive rudimentary combat training and must possess the following Feats and Skills: Weapon Proficiency (Pistols), Weapon Proficiency (Simple Weapons); Trained in Use Computer (All), Trained in Pilot (Starfighter Pilots).
Conscripts and Draftees Edit
Not all the members of the Imperial military serve by choice. As the war against the Rebellion drags on and the need for troops grows, conscripts and draftees become common within the ranks, especially in the Imperial Army. Conscripts and draftees are fundamentally the same except that draftees originate on worlds that are friendly to the Imperial cause, while conscripts are culled from worlds under Imperial domination. Conscripts also include criminals who have been punished by forced military conscription, so conscripts are somewhat less controllable than their drafted comrades.
Troopers who are forced into service see less intensive training and indoctrination than their volunteer counterparts- generally half as much, and sometimes even less than that. This causes command to view them as expendable, leading to a high casualty rate among their numbers. Conscripted units are used for suicide missions, frontal assaults, and as the first waves of planetary invasions. Conscripts and draftees are led by Imperial officers who are proven to be ineffective leaders or who are being punished in some way.
To maintain a semblance of Imperial loyalty, every such unit is assigned a political officer to monitor reliability. Acting as a friendly ear, the political officers portrays him- or herself as a guidance counselor rather than a font of Imperial propaganda. Rumors suggest that each company is seeded with one or more undercover operatives who are loyal to the Empire but act as though they are merely conscripts. These individuals report suspicious activities and seditious behavior to the unit's political officer.
Ability Requirements Edit
A number of unique roleplaying opportunities exist for a unit of conscripts or draftees, and the types of characters who can end up in such a unit are limited only by the imaginations of your players. Given the selection process used in their recruitment, conscripts and draftees have no ability requirements.
The Upper Echelons Edit
See also: Imperial Officer Ranks
One interesting option for an Imperial military campaign would be to allow players to serve as a cadre of nonpilot officers within one of the Imperial branches. Such campaigns can take place in the brutal world of military politics, where the only officers to see promotion are those willing to do whatever it takes to get into the highest levels of the military machine. Even the best officers are tried by the effort to succeed while still following a moral compass. The heroes might even be able to change the system from the inside. Obviously, such a campaign would not focus entirely on the front lines of battle, although the game would return so such locations on a regular basis.
The cast of heroes need not consist solely of officers; a single officer hero can be adequate to explore the higher echelons of the Imperial military. The campaign would be more playable if the officer or officers in question begin the game as either high-level junior officers or low-level senior officers- either 0-3 or 0-4. Nonofficer heroes can take the roles of junior officers, guards, orderlies, drivers/pilots, and other members of the officer's entourage. The most difficult aspect of such a situation is making sure the spotlight shines on all heroes equally and not only the officer hero.
Ability Requirements Edit
Imperial officers have no specific ability requirements, but they are expected to have good mental Ability Scores. Charisma is particularly important. Support characters can run the gamut, depending on their branch of service and the roles they are expected to play as part of the officer's staff.
Given the challenges of such a campaign, you might find it reasonable to allow heroes to start at a higher level, such as 3rd, 4th, or 5th.