Here’s Part 7 of endnotes for The Essential Guide to Warfare.
CHAPTER 10: THE RISE OF THE EMPIRE
The Imperialization of the Galaxy: The foundation of this section dates back to Star Wars Insider #84, and a HoloNet News article about the Imperial transition written by Dan Wallace and Pablo Hidalgo. That sucker’s only eight pages long, but it’s one of the core documents of the Expanded Universe, packing so much critical information into such a small space that we’re lucky all copies don’t fall through the Earth and wind up at its core. Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader was also a key source here. The formation of the “modern” Corporate Sector is from the Atlas.
The Reconquest of the Rim: One of my favorite sections of Warfare. Here was a chance to continue the narrative of the Clone Wars and explore the “heroic” early Empire that fought Separatist holdouts, slavers and pirates, reclaiming lawless swaths of the long-neglected Outer Rim and bringing order to the galaxy – a campaign that won the loyalty of countless citizens. Note that oversectors continue to morph from battlefield areas of operations to more subtle holdings – simultaneously the prize and burden of the Grand Moffs.
Some heroes of this section date back to the earliest days of the EU. Screed first appeared in the old “Droids” cartoon. Romodi attends Tarkin’s Death Star meeting in the A New Hope novelization, saying lines that belong to Motti in the movie — though in the novelization Vader strangles Tagge, perhaps just to make things as confusing as possible. Par Lankin is from Wanted by Cracken, and was fleshed out further in the Atlas. Shea Hublin was mentioned (and assaulted by Princess Leia) way back in the Russ Manning newspaper strips. More about the companion story “The Guns of Kelrodo-Ai” in a few sections. Bannidge Holt is new, but his prestigious naval family is not – the Holts were introduced in Coruscant and the Core Worlds. [Edit: Oops, no — a Holt first showed up in the Imperial Sourcebook, with CatCW making them into a prestigious family.] Octavian Grant is mentioned in The Essential Chronology and gets a full bio in Insider #66.
As for villains, Toonbuck Toora is from The Phantom Menace and wound up on the cutting-room floor of Attack of the Clones. Sentepeth Findos debuted in the Attack of the Clones Visual Dictionary and was further developed for HoloNet News, where he appeared alongside Marath Vooro. Guun Cutlax is new — I love a good piratey name.
The outlying Mid Rim being the “Foundry of the Confederacy” was introduced in the Atlas: Dan and I placed a number of industrial and/or Separatist worlds in that area to support the idea. (On a more minor note, we get an explanation for the missing slice of Hutt Space, an area made more awkward by the fact that it includes a sliver of the Mid Rim.) The Noolian Crisis is a stray reference from The Paradise Snare, while the Western Reaches Operation is largely new. If you know your Ben Burtt lore, I bet you can guess what sound is heard at least once during The Charge at Feather Nebula.
An art note: Yeah, that’s the Uhumele fleeing an Imperial task force in John VanFleet’s painting. If you’re thinking it looks a lot like the classic shot of the Falcon fleeing the Imperial fleet in The Empire Strikes Back, give yourself a prize.
War Portrait: Admiral Screed: I wanted to give Screed a backstory that made him sympathetic and even sad, instead of being (literally) a cartoon villain. You can overdo this sort of thing – some would grouse that the EU already has – but I think letting Dodonna sum up Screed gives the portrayal a little detachment and keeps it from being mawkish.
Sector Groups and the Imperial Navy: Paul Urquhart writes: “Another piece that packages up existing canon and presents it to tell a slightly different story. The core material here comes from The Imperial Sourcebook way back in 1987, but the focus has been simplified and shifted to avoid hard numbers and information overload, and to give a sense of the basic logic of Imperial Navy deployment, which is in turn a response to the broad range of security challenges faced by the New Order; and all of it is hooked back into the Clone Wars at the start thanks to an important reference from newer continuity, crowdsourced from the Fleet Junkies on TheForce.Net: The Moffs’ militias are where a lot of decommissioned Republic Assault Cruisers ended up after Revenge of the Sith.”
An art note: Here’s one of the awesome vistas brought to life by Ansel Hsiao, a talented artist whose original ship designs had excited fans for years before Erich brought him aboard for Warfare. I no longer have the email or PM from a reader who urged me to look at Ansel’s work, and so can’t give that person the credit they deserve. But whoever you are, thank you. [Update: Credit goes to Ketan-Shej from TheForce.Net. Thanks KS!]
For those who like this sort of thing, here are official dimensions and Anaxes class designations for Ansel’s original creations and interpretations of briefly glimpsed background ships. All this has been approved by Lucasfilm, so it’s canon:
Naval Station Validusia: 31km by 21km by 17 km (tower height)
Procursator-class Star Destroyer – 1.2 km long
Allegiance-class battlecruiser – 2.2 km long, often known as a Heavy Star Destroyer. This is the mysterious oversized ISD from Dark Empire II. It’s also a perfect example of the “Star Cruiser” subclass of battlecruiser mentioned in Warfare.
Secutor-class Star Destroyer – 2.2 km long. Its size would seem to put it in the battlecruiser class, but it’s classified as a Star Destroyer because it’s lightly armed for its size, plays a carrier role, and was designed early in Imperial history, or perhaps late in Republic history. (The Venator-style twin bridges are a giveaway.)
Altor-class fleet supply ship – 4.6 km long.
Praetor-class/Praetor Mk. II-class battlecruisers – 4.8 km long.
Bellator-class dreadnought – 7.2 km long. The Bellator is a rethinking of the humpbacked Mandator- and Mandator II-class dreadnoughts, which are slightly longer at 8 km. Known in the Imperial military as a “fast dreadnought,” the Bellator sacrifices firepower for speed, where the Mandator III is a 12-km monster valued as a hulking weapons platform. So you have divergent, differently sized redesigns of the same basic hull. (That’s in-universe; out of universe, Warfare’s text and art had separate references to the famous humpbacked ship seen above Byss in Dark Empire. From that accidental collision, a design retcon.)
Assertor-class dreadnought – 15 km long.
Major Shipyards: This map is meant to be representative, not all-inclusive, and was the result of extensive collaboration between myself, Paul and Modi. The yards chosen are a mix of well-known facilities, obscure ones and new locations, such as Khar Shian and Marleyvane. Marleyvane is intended as a check on Mon Cal Space, plus I liked the idea of a Dickensian name for a posting way out in the middle of the lawless Outer Rim.
Paul writes: “This was a very tough piece to get right, developed from my rough draft map collaboratively with Jason and Modi, and while they did a great job, my part is the contribution that I’m probably least satisfied with in the whole book. It’s not easy to try to represent the vast complexity of a shipyard network that ranges from vast industrial systems building multiple Super Star Destroyers and small Death Stars, all the way down to teams of local contractors keeping patrol boats in service. Anything showing too much detail would be far too complicated and confusing (and would risk defining the whole shipyard network far too tightly). I’d still like to try and do a much more detailed map of the New Territories/Imperial Remnant on the ‘North-West Frontier’ of known space, maybe at some date people aren’t likely to need flexibility with to tell a war story, such as the day peace was signed in 19 ABY.”
Imperial Star Destroyer: The section for the signature warship of the Empire seems like as good a place as any to get political, Star Wars-style. Before I started writing Warfare, if you’d asked me whether I was a minimalist or a maximalist, I wouldn’t have understood the question. But since then I’ve learned those terms have a lot of meaning for fleet junkies, and can be insults when conversations turn touchy.
I soon came to understand the rough line of demarcation: The maximalists think that there are lots and lots of Imperial Star Destroyers, but that ISDs are basically picket ships, with the real slugging matches taking place between fleets in which the starring roles go to larger battlecruisers and dreadnoughts such as the Executor. The minimalists see ISDs as unusually large warships, and think that the Empire has only a few capital ships of massive scale.
Both sides have plenty of evidence to fall back on in the movies and the Expanded Universe.
Minimalist: If the Empire has lots and lots of giant warships, why does the Battle of Endor – the most important showdown of the Galactic Civil War — feature just the Executor and a bunch of ISDs? And what about the West End Games classification system that has the Cruiser as the biggest class of warships?
Maximalist: There are more-recent classification systems that clearly indicate there are much bigger ships. We know about plenty of Super Star Destroyers. And if you want to talk about the Battle of Endor, Han tells Luke that there are a lot of command ships.
Minimalist: Command ships, yes – Super Star Destroyers, no. Besides, a Super Star Destroyer doesn’t have to be an Executor.
Maximalist: It does too.
Minimalist: In some sources. Which are mistaken.
Maximalist: No, YOUR sources are mistaken.
[biting, kicking and clawing]
Understanding this fundamental divide let me articulate my own philosophy – which I see as containing elements of both camps — not by way of compromise, but because I genuinely found elements of each persuasive.
Here are the general principles of that philosophy, along with suggested consequences and what I hope are interesting asides. Together, these things produced the depiction of Imperial power in Warfare:
* There are around 25,000 ISDs, and they are the foundation of the Imperial starfleet. Whether or not you agree this is logical, lots of canon sources support it.
* That said, it’s far too simple to say there are 25 ISDs in each sector. Many local fleets (Planetary Security Forces etc.) are made up of smaller craft, and spacers in many parts of the Empire see ISDs rarely if at all. The bulk of security/patrol duties falls to smaller warships, not ISDs.
* There are bigger warships (battlecruisers and dreadnoughts), but relatively few of them — the Empire wound up with a lot of ISDs and a handful of “trophy” ships. Classes are relatively empty above Star Destroyer.
* “Super Star Destroyer” is indeed a slang term, but it isn’t just used by Rebels — it’s a dismissive term for those trophy ships bigger than ISDs, favored by Imperials who saw such ships as wastes of money compared with building more ISDs. That’s a mild rework of an old bit of canon, but I think it works given how many Rebels were Imperial defectors, and makes the term part of a bigger and more interesting story.
* That said, when you find a reference to an SSD in a Star Wars novel, the author meant an Executor-type ship unless there’s a very good reason to think otherwise.
* There aren’t scads of Torpedo Spheres. Claims otherwise strike me as a misreading of a sentence in which they’re noted as an example of what’s available to Grand Moffs. Plus, let’s face it: Torpedo Spheres are boring. If you’re going to have a galaxy littered with even more superweapons than we already have, they better be interesting.
* Corporate demonstration ships, mix-and-match modular construction, crazy trophy craft created by powerful Core sectors and the products of Palpatine programs hidden in black budgets account for the vast majority of the EU’s divergent artistic interpretations, oddball ships, size bloopers, weird ships that don’t seem to deserve their own class, and so forth.
So there you have it. The old WEG “cruiser-topped” system describes things in-universe approximately from Ruusan until a century or so before Yavin, when Kuat Drive Yards and other shipwrights begin building larger classes of ships for Core sectors and as demonstration fleets. This buildup then accelerates dramatically during the Clone Wars, leading to the need for the Anaxes classifications as a description of the new state of affairs. Both in and out of universe, the larger classes are essentially grafted onto the old West End Games classes.
After a period of experimentation, the Empire settles on the ISD as the backbone of its power, but most local enforcement is handled by smaller ships, many of them legacy forces from before the Clone Wars (but perfectly serviceable for all that). The Executors are built, but the Empire largely spurns battlecruisers and smaller dreadnoughts. The New Republic essentially ignores these larger classes at first, but eventually comes around to believing that such massive warships are needed.
And with that, I leave the lectern, hoping for applause or at least reluctant nods from both sides of the aisle.
The Academy System: Another fun section to tear into, and a place where I definitely wanted to roll up my sleeves and get dirty in hopes of straightening out some continuity snarls. I hope that the account of the Academy system here amounts to a “good” retcon. Yes, the nebulous nature of the intake system and repeated transfers is designed to paper over various contradictions. But it’s also meant to be interesting in its own right – you can imagine cadets lying awake agonizing over where they’ll be sent next, exchanging baroque conspiracy theories that purport to explain everything, and grumbling about undeserving recipients of direct appointments. The Imperial Exploration Academy is new, as is the Merchant Galactic. (Though the latter has real-world antecedents.)
We’ll get another look into the Academy system when we come to Han Solo’s career.
Imperial Navy Rank Guide: Paul writes: “This one was a lot of fun to do. The on-screen rank insignia in the movies are simple, communicative, and iconic — but often designed to communicate the importance of characters to the viewer. Dudes who make reports to senior officers have additional insignia that extras in the back of the shot never get. The streamlined system also means that there seems to be just one insignia for most of the officers on a 20-km-long Super Star Destroyer with a crew of several hundred thousand, and it doesn’t help that the insignia in Return of the Jedi don’t seem to match. But, with the possible exceptions of a few rank cylinders in the comics, I think I managed to come up with something that covers every reference that I know of, while staying as faithful as possible to the iconic simplicity that we see onscreen. The red-and-blue two-line rank tabs shown in the table are the type that we see in Empire and Jedi, but simply by counting pips, the system should also work for the multi-colored single-line insignia on the Death Star.
“I went with the ranks that are given in the movies, stories and sourcebooks, even when the result doesn’t correspond to the familiar ranks of our own armed forces. If the result seems odd or ‘wrong,’ bear in mind that there are plenty of places in the real world where the ranks don’t translate into the ones we use. The American and British air forces have completely different systems, without even starting to think of more unusual foreign examples like the Imperial Russian Navy or the Waffen-SS.
“I was slightly disappointed that Jason replaced my original Support Branch top rank of ‘Field-Zeugmeister’ with ‘Master Engineer,’ though. [Sorry man — J.]
“Of course, after the draft was approved, Zahn went and introduced ‘Senior Captain’ in Choices of One, which meant I had to change some stuff. I also kept fretting that the descriptive notes weren’t clear enough, and Erich, our editor extraordinare, helped keep me sane. I would have liked to extend this to the Army and Stormtroopers, but this is enough to be going on with. It is, after all, only a kids’ movie.”
World at War: Prefsbelt: Prefsbelt seemed like an obvious place to elaborate on Naval history, with Pers Pradeux getting his due as the Father of the Navy. The idea that the Naval Academy’s location is secret dates back to the early days of the EU; that never struck me as very plausible, but the idea was a useful seed for the story of Constipex’s Crusades and the Pius Dea tyranny. I was tempted to name the 12 Mounts, but some things are better left undefined, both to preserve a sense of mystery and to leave the hands of future authors free.
Wullf Yularen: Oh, Wullf Yularen. Are you a Grand Admiral? A Colonel in the Imperial Security Bureau? Since popping up in The Clone Wars show, poor Wullf’s biography has become more and more convoluted; by now, accepting the twists and turns of his career demands a certain suspension of disbelief on the reader’s part.
The new wrinkle in Yularen’s CV this time around was an attempt to explain how he could have fought at Malastare Narrows despite serving in the Planetary Security Forces for Kwymar Sector. (The specific reference is back in Trench’s biography.) That retcon is a patch for an earlier retcon of how he got to be an admiral so soon in the Clone Wars. Which, in turn, was a retcon for … you know what? Next book, I’m leaving Wullf out.
The references in this section are a mix of old and new – Anaxes, the Waymancy Storm, the Pius Dea, etc. The Sikurdians, though, were first seen in the earliest days of the EU – Han guns a Sikurdian down in Marvel #7, identifying him by his battle-ax. Thull Yularen, by the way, was the in-universe author of several Warfare sections that got cut.
(On to Pt. 8.)