Howdy folks. Back and relatively recovered from Comic-Con, so here’s Part 16 of endnotes for The Essential Guide to Warfare.
CHAPTER 20: THE NEW GALACTIC CIVIL WAR
After the Vong: Note that Mon Mothma’s decision to devolve control of Planetary Security Forces to their home sectors has now created a problem for the New Republic, and provided Warfare readers with another wrinkle to the theme of centralized vs. distributed control of the military. The Sector Defense Limits echo the Ruusan Reformations, and Corellia is cranky as ever. For me, this is where Star Wars dorkery is really rewarding, and retcons get put to the test: Does new information tie together separate stories, making them feel like more of a coherent whole? I think/hope the answer here is yes.
The New Civil War: Paul Urquhart writes: “I found this one really tricky, because the complexity, frustration and tragic waste of the Second Civil War isn’t easily reduced to a simple campaign narrative. In the end, I tried to simply bring out all that angst and futility. This is a galaxy gone painfully wrong, in which a lot of people - ordinary citizens and powerful and capable leaders alike - are striving for some way to fix things and a cause to believe in. Which only makes matters worse. Concluding the piece with a comment from the younger Jacen Solo is designed to underscore the poignancy. I’m not quite sure that the whole piece works, but maybe it’s appropriate that it shouldn’t, quite.”
Galactic Alliance Guard: Paul writes: “Part of the irony of Darth Caedus is that he’s completely out of his depth. This adds another dimension to the narrative of the Second Civil War by suggesting that the Alliance leadership are ruthlessly addressing the wrong fears, victims of their own ambitions and agendas, their cultural conditioning and professional training. I wanted to evoke the SS (as opposed to the Galactic Empire) in the way the Guard develops from a small paramilitary unit to an ersatz state - though ironically, it ended up resembling both a dark twist on libertarian small-government fantasies and also a ‘straight’ rendition of libertarian big-government fears. Make of that what you will.
“The Legacy of the Force novels left me wanting to know more about the Corellians, so I tried to provide a glimpse of what they were doing here, by showing the Corellian-tuned tactical reality that the GAG were failing to address. But I hope that only sharpens the real edge here - the one between the pointless incompetence of the Guard’s activities and the massive pain and death they caused.”
The New Hutts: I love Darren Tan’s Hutt warships – they fit exactly with other Ubrikkian products, without looking simply like skiffs in space. The Hutts’ resilience was first established in the Essential Atlas, as were the details of the secret interior of Hutt Space. It was a lot of fun coming up with names (borrowed from ancient Earth navies) for the Hutt warships.
The Burning of Kashyyyk: When I wrote this first-person account I was imagining Luke Skywalker as he might have become — a Tatooine dreamer who went off to the Academy, saw the galaxy, but became a cog in the Imperial war machine. Splinter of the Mind’s Eye tells us Luke learned to speak Yuzzem by studying the species while on the Lars farm, which I’ve always found equal parts endearing and pretty unlikely.
War Portrait: Natasi Daala: This section came back from Lucasfilm with an amused note that “topatoes” had been checked on and were indeed an established part of the Expanded Universe. I was amused too. I like Drew Baker’s elderly Luke and Daala sharing a not particularly warm moment.
War Portrait: Admiral Daala: Paul writes: “I find Daala a sympathetic and interesting character even while I think she’s a brutal incompetent as a military leader, and I tried to capture — and explain — that contradiction here. Her enthusiasm for violent physical sports has been part of her characterization since her first introduction, though Viker and Massimo Tagge are new players in her backstory, representing the competing forces that shaped her on Carida. The narrative implies (though it doesn’t quite state it categorically) that Daala was only around 19 when Tarkin promoted her to Admiral — around the same age as Padmé and Leia and Luke when they became leaders and heroes, so not really all that crazy for Star Wars.
“I’m not a huge fan of Daala’s canonical first name, and wanted to make it an abbreviation of ‘Renatasia,’ the name of a legendary queen (aka ‘Reina Tasia’ or ‘Elsinoré den Tasia’) who founded lots of Outer Rim colonial systems such Naboo and the eponymous Renatasia IV — and, I thought, Daala’s homeworld of Irmenu. That ended up being homaged obliquely, in an edit suggested by Jason, in the ‘Renatasian nuns on Botajef!’
“There are a few other continuity details scattered through this one: the name of United Warlord Fleets for her command in Darksaber is new, and alert fans might also note that this biography makes her the military leader of the Second Imperium in the Young Jedi Knights novels. The fake Royal Guards who purport to be leading the show were originally her bodyguards, after all….”
War Portrait: Gilad Pellaeon: I liked the challenge of creating a tribute to Pellaeon that would be stirring and touching while making you think that Natasi Daala was utterly untrustworthy. I wrote a section on the planet Irmenu — a location introduced by Karen Traviss — that was great fun to do, but got cut from the book.
End of a Jedi Era: The last piece written for the book, composed after reading the first draft of Apocalypse. It struck me that what was important here was to look forward, not back. We needed to explain why the Jedi were leaving Coruscant and their ancient tradition of service to galactic government to make what was, in effect, a return to their ancient roots.
CHAPTER 21: ETERNAL WAR
The One Sith: This section is a bridge across the long gulf of time between the Fate of the Jedi books and Dark Horse’s Legacy comics. Reading it now, I get the feeling that it will one day read the same as old Essential Guides’ two-paragraph accounts of the Clone Wars and the fall of the Republic, before the prequels filled in the gaps. Oh well — that’s showbiz, baby. Lots of stories left to tell here!
Predator Fighter: Paul writes: “Fans of the Legacy material will recognize that the difference in viewport styles is inspired by the way that Sean Cooke’s design for the fighter evolved. The idea that the ‘mynock wing’ designs are of Chiss origin is made a little clearer here than it has been before, and embodies a piece of behind-the-scenes logic: The slender ‘wings’ of both the Clawcraft and Predator replace the bulky pylons that previously housed the bulk of the TIE’s drive systems, and thus must contain lots of miniaturized engine components. The tightly fitting equipment that this implies also evokes the highly compact Chiss launch/maintenance racks we see at the Hand of Thrawn base in Vision of the Future.”
Scythe Battle Cruiser: Paul writes: “The weapons numbers are based on role-playing statistics in the Legacy Era Campaign Guide. Some fans have noted that this makes this cruiser relatively lightly armed compared with earlier Imperial ships, but bear in mind that are the weapons are all in the forward fire arc, with nothing mounted on the flanks or rear. In addition, although it’s not explicit in the text, I imagined the turbolasers as heavy-caliber and rapid-firing designs, and the torpedo tubes as carrying a lot more reloads than older ships like the Victory Star Destroyer. In other words, this is a ship optimized to attack much bigger opponent. Think of the Scythe as a very, VERY large B-wing.”
Crossfire Fighter: Paul writes: “This is a finessing of existing canon information from the Legacy Era Campaign Guide and the comics, decorated with some newly invented details as continuity spackle: The IX9 lasers (a designation in the same series as those on the X-wing) and the CF9B single-seat variant.”
War Portrait: Gar Stazi: And so we come to the end, and find a bookend of sorts for Teshik’s testament. The story of the diplomat and the old woman on Kuthard is inspired by a real-world piece I read years ago and now can’t find. It was probably about Bosnia, and remember it was imparted by a career diplomat as sad wisdom about the limits of idealism.
To be clear, I don’t necessarily agree with what Stazi has to say here — the distance between my experience and that of any career military officer is vast, to say nothing of the distance between me and a fictional alien military officer who’d seen fleets betrayed and empires fallen and worlds destroyed. I hope Stazi’s speech strikes readers as idealistic and despairing and sad and noble and brutal and hopeful all at the same time, and I also hope that it’s impossible to define it as just one of those things.
* * *
Well, that’s a wrap. Thanks to everybody who’s dropped by to read the endnotes, and for everyone who’s contributed their comments, questions and constructive criticism about Warfare. I’ll keep looking for a home for all the cut material referenced here over the past months — maybe we can address it in a future brace of endnotes. And here’s to what I hope are more Star Wars projects to come!
Here’s Part 15 of endnotes for The Essential Guide to Warfare.
CHAPTER 19: THE NEW JEDI ORDER
This chapter was my ace co-writer Paul Urquhart’s show, with me playing the role of first-string editor. So I’ll add my occasional thoughts in italic; everything else is Paul talking.
Yavin, 28 ABY: The purpose of this piece is to set the scene for the events of the New Jedi Order novels - by introducing the alien culture of the Yuuzhan Vong, with its mix of mysticism, sadism and treachery, and by “interrupting” the narrative with something in a very different style, reflecting the violent shock of the alien invasion of the New Republic. Cutting the scene into static-washed fragments was Jason’s idea, and I really like the result.
Vergere’s agenda is a mystery that fans still debate, and I deliberately DON’T want to speculate on the answer, or on how much she’s deceiving her apparent allies here. (After all, Vergere’s most famous line is “everything I tell you is a lie.”) I don’t want to spoil all the surprises of the novels for fans who’ve not read them all, either. But I do want to suggest that Vergere was involved in schemes and plots we never really saw on the page - so her linkage to Mezhan Kwaad and her presence on Yavin 4 are new continuity. There are other questions raised by this piece, as well, which might sneak up on readers who give it several re-reads - for example, just who is monitoring the conversation?!
Organic Weapons: This builds on the scene before it, showing some of the effects of Tahiri’s torture (yes, you’re meant to feel uneasy) and describing the disturbing weirdness of the invaders’ weapons, while starting to make them disturbingly “comprehensible” by framing their technology in the clear, recognizable context of military tactics and technology. Rostek Horn is a very old, very cunning Corellian spymaster - a good guy, but also unquestionably a dangerous man with a lot of secrets, a characterization that gives a nod to the moral complexity introduced in the New Jedi Order. His behind-the-scenes inclusion here builds on a mention of him in Dark Tide II: Ruin, where he was applying his knowledge of genetics to the problem of Yuuzhan Vong biotech.
Yuuhan Vong Warrior Castes: A third “setup” section, this brief summary of the invaders’ military organization is also designed to function as a portrait of Yuuzhan Vong society in general, and as a depiction of how their leadership takes control of living resources and twists them into tools to serve its own ends. It was fun to be able to finesse details like the nature of the Praetorite Vong, who have been portrayed in slightly differing ways in different sources.
The main new continuity in this section (indeed, arguably, in this whole chapter) is in the handling of the Slayers. The description of their officers as Intendants as well as Shapers is new, designed to round out the roles of the four castes within their organization (just as the officer/warrior distinction also embodies the gender difference). The idea that the Slayers are Jedi clones is ultimately based on an oddity in their introduction in The Unifying Force - they’re compact packages of “Darth Vader,” “Luke Skywalker” and “Jedi Knight” tropes, both overtly and in subtext, and while all this could just be designed to set them up as alien Jedi-equivalents, they’re definitely a little short for Yuuzhan Vong warriors. When the scientists who created them are confronted with this, they answer that the faster metabolism of stocky warriors was useful for their grafted armor and weapons, but this is completely the opposite of what should be the case - stocky guys as a rule have slower metabolisms - and that provided an opening to develop the idea that something else was going on here. It also helps, from a narrative perspective, to “characterize” the Slayers more, to clearly differentiate them from the other Yuuzhan Vong elite cadres, and to continue the theme of the bad guys warping Jedi heroism for their own purposes.
The Yuuzhan Vong Invasion: Paul did an awesome job on this section; my only contribution was to cloud the authorship, a touch I think made it even more intriguing.
For the general reader, the requirement here was to produce a summary of the New Jedi Order saga that retained a clear “military” focus without losing a coherent narrative structure. For the fans who’ve read the books and know the story well, the challenge is to keep that summary interesting. To achieve both ends, I decided to tell the story from a new perspective, carefully framed as a document of unreliable origin, and designed to provoke several different reactions. Different fans have different views of the New Jedi Order, and I wanted to play to that with this.
There’s only one statement in this narrative that I think could be called strictly inaccurate, which is that the Battle of Ithor was fought by “the Imperial Navy… with Bothan and Jedi support.” Sien Sovv legitimized the New Republic deployment there, and was present in person at some point; but even that statement is true from a “certain point of view,” since the defense of Ithor was the result of front-line cooperation between the Imperials, the Jedi, and the Bothan commander Traest Kre’fey. The portrait of Sovv and Brand’s war plan (and A’baht’s opposition) is based on the high-level military meetings we see in James Luceno’s Agents of Chaos novels, as well as the scramble by his trusted aides to fit out new fleets in Star by Star, and the methodical training and “tempering” of new troops in Destiny’s Way. Even if you disagree with the level of critique that the narrative point of view levels at Sovv, I think the underlying analysis of what the New Republic commanders were trying to do is broadly borne out by the novels.
It’s not very Jedi, or very Rebel, is it?
For readers who are surprised that this narrative places all three Solo kids on Yavin 4, the reference is to the scene implied towards the end of Edge of Victory: Conquest, where Karrde’s fleet touches down to rescue the vast number of slaves liberated from the concentration camp. It’s also a reference to the final panel of the Dark Empire 2 comic, where Luke sees the bright future of the Jedi Order: the three Solo kids full grown, with Jedi cloaks and drawn lightsabers, and with typically “boxy” Rebel-style ships coming in low behind them. We never really saw that anywhere else in canon, and I knew that I wanted to fit it in somewhere.
Vonak is a new system. It was inspired by the glimpse of Arbeloa and Cilare in the first issue of Star Wars: Invasion — at the time, it wasn’t clear that we’d see them again or that they’d get on-the-page names, and I wanted a random name to represent that sort of system. Commodore Brand’s first name is also a new addition — it falls somewhere between the nickname of “Mustapha” Kimmel, the U.S. commander at Pearl Harbor, and the name of the Truk Lagoon, the opposing Japanese fleet base. Another of those weirdly complex subtexts that just pops out of my mind fully-formed. The genesis of the name of Sovv’s defensive position, the “Northern Line,” is more straightforward — it’s the name of one of the major subway tracks in London.
Coralskipper: I didn’t know if every Sensor Profile would get an associated image, so I tried to include some form of narrative description of the vehicle in each piece, and I really like how the text and image complement each other in this one. The Slayers’ coralskipper variants in The Unifying Force are shaped to look like voxyn, which seemed out-of-place in a technical description, especially since the arc of this chapter was to make the Vong seem increasingly comprehensible as the reader read on; so instead, their appearance inspired the “rumor” — nothing more — of Force-sensitive fighters; they are, after all, a dark counterpoint to the Force-tinged Sekotan cutters acquired by the Jedi in the same novel.
Yuuzhan Vong Warships: Extensively synthesized out of the New Jedi Order novels. The impressive armament and firepower of a Yuuzhan Vong frigate, for example, is based on the depiction of the captured Kstarr, which features in Star by Star, Dark Journey, and especially Destiny’s Way. There’s very little that’s truly new here, but the final line identifies the mighty Baanu Rass from Star by Star with the unnamed “Domain Lah worldship” in Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream: Both are massive prestige ships of the same class, and both are important bases for rear-area military development located in the Myrkr system, so it made sense to identify them with each other.
(On to Pt. 16)
Here’s Part 14 of endnotes for The Essential Guide to Warfare.
CHAPTER 18: END OF AN EMPIRE
Thrawn’s Strategy: Much of the geography of the Thrawn trilogy was worked out in the Essential Atlas, which also began the discussion of the Grand Admiral’s “stateless” strategy. Among the new things here are the relationship between Thrawn and the rump Empire (which is really tricky continuity) and the details of the combatants’ fleet strengths at Bilbingi.
War Portrait: Grand Admiral Thrawn: What I hope is an entertaining revisionist take on Thrawn. I liked being able to incorporate the material from Outbound Flight and the New Jedi Order, and the use of “Mothmatist” as a slur.
The Dark Empire: I love the Dark Empire series, which I’ve long defended as a big-hearted continuation of the Skywalker clan’s struggles with family and the Force. But Dark Empire has always been a pain in the butt continuity-wise, hard to integrate with the story other sources tell about the Empire’s fragmentation and decline. I did my best here to cement it more believably in the chronology, letting the reader witness Imperial task forces disappearing into the Deep Core before Thrawn’s campaign gives New Republic Intelligence more clear and present dangers to worry about.
I saw one discussion of Warfare in which folks wondered about the derivation of the name of the Super Star Destroyer Whelm, the linchpin of Azure Hammer Command. Someone proposed that it was a corruption of “Wilhelm,” which is a very smart guess … but that’s not it. The Whelm dates back to Coruscant and the Core Worlds, and was another tip of the cap to Jack Vance. In Vance’s loosely connected Alastor novels, the Whelm is the military force that answers to the ruler known as the Connatic. You don’t mess with the Connatic, and you don’t mess with the Whelm.
After I created her, the Whelm became an object of some curiosity among Star Wars fans, who understandably wanted to know what had happened to her and why she had never been mentioned again, let alone played a significant role in the defense of the Imperial Core. (Memo to self: Be less cavalier about creating new SSDs.) Nobody else had cleaned up my mess and come up with an answer by the time Warfare came along, so I decided it was my job to finally supply one.
Note that I say “her” when I refer to ships – this is a real-world tradition I’ve always liked, and have carried on in my Star Wars work whenever possible.
I like to think I’m not a diva about most things, but I am passionate about word choices and style. In the Atlas, Dan Wallace and I borrowed water imagery for hyperspace lanes, which seemed to us like rivers. So, for instance, we have ships decanting from hyperspace and routes emptying into regions. We came around to this terminology relatively late in the book, so it’s done in a bit of a scattershot way – which I once regretted but now think was lucky, as a little goes a long way with such things.
The water imagery did give me an excuse for declaring authorial war on my least-favorite Star Wars figure of speech: the subbing of “backrocket” for “backwater.”
I groan when things are made “spacey” for no good reason – whether it’s space fantasy or some other genre, imaginary worlds work best when they depart from our own world in as few fundamental ways as possible. This makes it easy for us to imagine stepping into the protagonist’s shoes, which causes us to invest in the character and care what happens to him or her. When it comes to characters’ hopes and dreams and daily lives, you want to keep things familiar.
For this reason, I won’t willingly entertain retcons that speed up or slow down local calendars – when Luke looks at Uncle Owen and objects that “it’s a whole ‘nother year,” we understand his despair because we know or can imagine or can remember what a year feels like when you’re a teenager. If a year on Tatooine is only 100 days, the scene doesn’t work — and if you’ve made a key scene in A New Hope not work, you’ve accomplished the opposite of what a Star Wars author ought to be doing. (The EU says a Tatooine year is 304 days, which I dislike but is at least in the right ballpark.)
And I do mean days – don’t talk to me about “planetary rotations.” STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO BE SPACEY?
Updating this rant a bit: Spacey for an interesting locale/situation/society etc. encountered by characters can be fun, no question. And spacey around the edges is fine. But spacey for the fundamental surroundings/narrative of a protagonist we’re meant to identify with and care about is a gamble I’d be very wary of taking.
Take the iconic shot of Luke and the sunset. The scene works because we’ve all been there, or know we will be, and we have an instant empathy for Luke that carries into the scenes that follow. The twin suns are a spacey touch, but not enough of one that we’re thrown off. Now imagine one sun’s blue and shooting up in the sky like a ping-pong ball while the other one is setting slowly. Now we’re distracted and the scene stops working. Same if Luke’s bounding around in near-weightlessness, or wearing a spacesuit, or if we know a year only lasts 100 days….
Cloaking Devices: Paul Urquhart writes: “Another of those pieces that plays with words to create a cohesive narrative and avoid puzzling the reader with the more-complicated details. The major retcon that continuity-minded fans might notice is the statement
that Thrawn didn’t use the hibridium design he was developing in Charlene Newcomb’s stories in the Adventure Journal. There are several reasons for this, but chiefly, the ‘truly practicable’ design that Thrawn eventually used was only found on Wayland at the start of Heir to the Empire. Authorial intent here is that hibridium cloaks are not double-blind.
“The Xi Char are notable designers of elegant military equipment, though the association of them with cloaking devices is new, as is the enigmatic reference to ‘aesthete corsairs.’ The banning of cloaking devices in 19 ABY is designed to explain their absence in most subsequent stories.”
World Devastators: Paul writes: “Another ‘statblock and context’ precis, based directly on the Dark Empire comics, the endnotes in the graphic-novel version, and numerical information given in the New Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels. The only strictly new continuity is Commander Klev’s rank of general, though I’m not sure if there’s been such a straightforward statement of the concept of the Devastators as the centerpiece of a fully self-sufficient and predatory regime, or the logic behind the control codes. I was absolutely wowed when I saw Stephan Martinere’s darkly awesome illustration to go with this piece.”
The Defender and New Class Programs: I thought of calling this section Continuity Hell, but figured Erich Schoeneweiss wouldn’t like that. Lots of retcons in here, along with some cool new art from Ansel Hsiao that I think honors the spirit of the old West End Games takes on these ships while being, ahem, more pleasing to the eye. I was happy for the chance to tie this narrative in with Dark Empire and other events, creating what I hope is an interesting tale about the New Republic and how it changed its mind about creating giant capital ships as the Empire had.
The Battle of Orinda and the Imperial Remnant: First of all, Modi’s maps here are fantastic. I tried to make sense of a confusing, perhaps overly crowded period of Star Wars history by seeing it as the story of Pellaeon slowly realizing that his search for an effective leader of the Empire will only end when he looks into the mirror and stops kidding himself. I also saw a chance to elevate Orinda as a setting and tell a story in
which the New Republic is nearly undone by its own internal conflicts – the kind of problems a ragtag rebellion never had to face. Plus a few capital-ship odds and ends get accounted for, hopefully in a satisfying way.
Update: Last week’s endnotes about Admiral Nantz sparked a lively conversation, one in which it was noted that a distinctive-looking, unnamed officer from “Lando’s Commandos” might make a good Nantz. I ran the idea by Lucasfilm’s Leland Chee, who blessed it. So Nantz now has a face.
(On to Pt. 15)
Here’s Part 13 of endnotes for The Essential Guide to Warfare.
CHAPTER 17: AN EMPIRE IN FRAGMENTS
Imperial Fragmentation: The heavy lifting continuity-wise here was filling in details about how Pellaeon wound up in charge of the Imperial fleet at Endor — that’s well-established continuity, but hard to reconcile with Pellaeon’s likely rank and experience at the time. Plus it was intriguing figuring out what the Empire might have left in terms of capital ships and how the ranking officers might have quarreled over what to do. I think the reader ends the section understanding Pellaeon’s frustration.
Mon Mothma’s decision to devolve control of the Planetary Security Forces to their sectors came to me as a powerful way to explain how the fledgling New Republic could have survived against the fragments of the Empire, particularly since continuity dictates that it soon went to war with the Ssi-ruuk, Nagai, and Tofs. To my mind, Mothma’s decision would have bred further warlordism and effectively sidelined lots of sectors, significantly reducing the number of enemies arrayed against the former Rebellion’s battered forces. Though note that her decision also plants the seeds of the New Galactic Civil War a couple of decades later.
Against the Warlords: This section was a ton of fun to write, letting me trace various New Republic campaigns, incorporate years’ worth of asides about battles, and give New Republic officers well-known, obscure and heretofore unknown some time in the spotlight. In hindsight, we probably should have done a map….
There are a blizzard of minor characters in this section whose origins I’ll run down for the uninitiated. (I really wish I’d kept more orderly notes.) First off, our task was made easier by the fact that the Essential Atlas had already mapped out the territories and fates of seven major post-Imperial warlords: Kaine, Zsinj, Teradoc, Delvardus, Prentioch, Lankin and Harrsk.
Airen Cracken is a well-established West End Games character, since retconned as a gunner aboard the Millennium Falcon in Return of the Jedi. Betl Oxtroe is from the Dark Empire Sourcebook, identified as an advocate for peace with the New Republic. Kermen is from Adventure Journal #7. Grand Moff Selit is from the Imperial Sourcebook.
Nantz first appeared in Shield of Lies, the middle book of Michael F. Kube-McDowell’s Black Fleet Crisis trilogy. The trilogy doesn’t get the attention some other books from this period do, perhaps because the plotline about Luke’s supposed mother has been overwritten by the prequels (not the author’s fault), or because there’s admittedly a lot of Lando and Lobot at center stage. I love a bunch of its elements, though, from Luke’s isolation to Admiral Ackbar’s characterization to the awesome setpiece in which New Republic agents explore the wreck of the Gnisnal. I also like that the trilogy goes beyond the usual suspects when it needs alien species, planets or ships — the galaxy of the Black Fleet Crisis feels big where some Star Wars stories feel cramped because you get the usual parade of Rodians, Whiphids and Sullustans piloting X-wings, Star Destroyers and Carracks above Tatooine, Corellia and Bespin.
Anyway, perhaps my liking for Black Fleet Crisis led me to elevate Nantz into a major character in Warfare, giving him a prime role in a number of battles, good quotes and something of the caustic character of William Tecumseh Sherman. Hopefully Nantz will catch on with authors and fans until people start clamoring for a picture of him. (Update: That didn’t take as long as I would have suspected. See bottom of this post.)
Back to the rundown. Tyr Taskeen is a major character in the videogame Force Commander. Darcc is from another videogame, Galactic Battlegrounds, while Peccati Syn showed up in The Essential Chronology and got a full bio in Insider #66. Decipher made one of the background Mon Cals from Return of the Jedi into Verrack, while his ship (the mundanely monikered Maria) is from the old X-Wing videogame. Voon Massa is a new character. Hiram Drayson is from Dark Force Rising. Kalback is from Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor. Nammo is from X-Wing Alliance. Ragab is from the X-Wing: Rogue Squadron novel, as is Horton Salm, who gets more ink in the X-Wing comics.
Banjeer is from Crimson Empire, with his family called out as a prominent Navy clan in Coruscant and the Core Worlds. Veertag is from Marvel #65 — I worked with Leland Chee and Pablo Hidalgo at Lucasfilm to get him a retconned place on the riser in A New Hope’s medal ceremony, as noted in Insider #133. Sien Sovv is a major character from the New Jedi Order. Wilham Burke is from the MMORPG Galaxies. Okins is from Shadows of the Empire. Chel Dorat is from Adventure Journal #4. Brenn Tantor is the star of Force Commander. Rogriss is from the novel X-Wing: Solo Command, while starfighter ace Turr Phennir is from the X-Wing comics.
Some characters got callouts because their roles in key battles had already been defined by various novels, comics and other stories. So what was the process for picking characters to fill the remaining roles? It was similar to how Dan Wallace and I assigned geographic coordinates to some systems in the Atlas: I started with Wookieepedia lists of New Republic admirals, Rebel generals, Imperial moffs and so forth, which yielded a list of candidates, then eliminated candidates by checking their bios and the primary sources, then made notes about characters’ reputation, species, etc. That led to some matches; where I still had multiple candidates for a given role, I tried to spread the wealth among novels, comics, and videogames — one of the purposes of “non-fiction fiction” like Warfare is to knit Star Wars sources and stories together.
As for assigning characters first names, one thing I’ve tried to do is reuse established monikers: Just like you probably know lots of Johns and Davids, there would be common names in the galaxy. So you’ll see a number of Firmuses and Arhuls in my work. This idea could be taken further — there should be Lukes and Hans with other last names, along with Skywalkers and Solos with different first names. But there are limits to verisimilitude in fiction: It’s not a good idea to make your main characters less distinctive.
War Portrait: Ysanne Isard: Paul Urquhart writes: “The idea that there was a Lusankya facility before there was an Super Star Destroyer hidden there is new; the phrase ‘dagger and fist’ is designed to suggest a less subtle and more violent form of deadliness than the traditional ‘cloak and dagger,’ one in which an opponent is disoriented and defeated through a simultaneous attack by two separate, overt, and dangerous threats — Isard is the dagger, her brute squad are the fist. ‘Brute squad’ itself is a Princess Bride homage. Armand’s fall from power is covered in the novella ‘Interlude at Darkknell’ (collected in Tales From the New Republic), but its position in continuity is complicated because it’s one of several contradictory stories built around the Rebels learning about the Death Star, so the context is simply alluded to obliquely in the reference to the ‘new-generation Imperial projects.’ I also took a moment to clarify Isard’s relationship with the Ubiqtorate (though Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor also suggests that at least one of them was also overseeing her); her role in organizing the reconquest of Coruscant in 10 ABY hopefully fits well with her activities.
“The idea of Isard being imprisoned on Lusankya at the end is a homage to a very old fan theory, though one that resurfaces with some regularity. It’s not intended to be canonical reality, but it was hard to resist the image.”
War Portrait: Zsinj: Paul writes: “Most of this is established canon. The reference to Zsinj commanding the ‘largest fleet’ extrapolates from a statement in Cracken’s Threat Dossier that his oversector and command ship gave him the most ‘raw power’ of any claimant to Palpatine’s vacant throne; making Crimson Command the basis of his forces fills a gap in the history of that fleet, and ties in with his extensive use of Victory-class ships.
“The new details in this piece are Zsinj’s alliances with Tavira, Pasiq, and Teubbo. Tavira was a logical choice: she fits perfectly with his policy of giving Imperial legitimacy to pirate gangs, her base at Axxila fell into his territory, and after his reign, she ended up working for the warlord on the far side of his territory, taking over the bulk of his fleet. Pasiq is from the Evasive Action web comic, a Force-sensitive of unspecified origin who ends up as an Imperial Inquisitor; her Dathomiri backstory is new, and is designed to hint at how Zsinj knew to find her planet. Teubbo is a new character; on one level, the image of a Hutt intellectual matches the eccentric image of Zsinj’s regime — but underneath that, the ruthless logic of supply-side economics and the kajidic patronage network of the Hutts both connect with elements of Zsinj’s own approach to power.”
Felinx-and-Rodus at Brentaal: Paul writes: “In essence, this is a summary of the classic In the Empire’s Service story arc from the X-Wing comics. The only new continuity is the idea that Fel was being considered by the fleet as a possible leader. There’s a scene in the comic where Fel’s wingman raises the idea of turning against Isard and Pestage, and authorial intent here is that this should be read as a sounding-out on behalf of the admirals. On the other hand, as some early online reaction has noted, it’s debatable whether Isard’s plan was as sane as it appears here — and it’s also possible that she was simply paranoid about Fel as a possible rival. That makes this a good example of a piece that is designed to be read ‘straight’ by the average fan, but veteran fans will find May Contain Subtext™. Jason very sensibly cut an overcomplicated reference to Isard’s assassin Graina from the original draft.”
War Portrait: Wedge Antilles: Wedge is such a familiar Expanded Universe figure that I didn’t want to spend pages rehashing him, and none of my attempts to capture his character through another character’s words seemed to work. In the end, I went for something short and I think a little sad, an account that hopefully adds depth to a well-known character. By the way, I like Wedge’s pale-blue R5 unit in Jason Palmer’s painting. If memory serves I chose the color. Does that mean Hasbro will send me one gratis? Or at least make the parts for him available at Tatooine Traders?
The Taking of Kuat: Here’s a story I’d always wanted to tell, and figured I’d never get the chance – the downfall of one of the Empire’s major fortress worlds. I was amazed when Warfare rolled around, nobody had tackled it yet, and I realized I’d get my wish. And then I was stressed out, because I didn’t want a big fleet action or starfighter heroics — I wanted something nobody would see coming. If the New Republic’s stratagem sounds familiar, you might be a Jack Vance fan — Ral’Rai Muvunc’s plan is an homage to The Face, the fourth book in Vance’s superb Demon Princes series. [Update: That’s now TWO homages to the Vance novel in the GFFA. It’s also referenced by Paul Chadwick in the first issue of Darklighter.]
Vance will reappear next week. Stay tuned!
(On to Pt. 14)
Here’s Part 12 of endnotes for The Essential Guide to Warfare.
CHAPTER 16: SHOWDOWN AT ENDOR
Showdown in the Outer Rim: The makeup of the Imperial forces we see at the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi is one of the strongest arguments for the so-called minimalist point of view, discussed earlier in these endnotes. As far as the Galactic Civil War is concerned, Endor is the whole shooting match: Sidious has woven a trap meant to simultaneously destroy the Rebellion and turn the Jedi’s last hope into the Sith’s ultimate triumph. So why does Palpatine use only the Executor and a relatively paltry task force to pin the Rebels at Endor?
It’s a good question. Unless you want to wish away the entire EU (which you’re free to do, though please remember your humble author was not), it’s clear that the Empire has lots of Executor-class dreadnoughts, some number of battlecruisers and thousands and thousands of Imperial Star Destroyers. So why are the still-vulnerable Death Star II and the Emperor so poorly guarded?
Late in the writing of Warfare, I decided that question deserved an answer that would fit within the philosophical framework I’d worked out for the book. So here it is: Palpatine had two massive invasion fleets elsewhere, waiting for his signal to ravage Mon Calamari Space and Chandrila. And of course plenty of warships were needed to keep rebellious worlds pacified, guard the frontier against external menaces Sidious had known about for decades, and so forth. Throw in a bit of the usual mustache-twisting overconfidence that every villain’s master plan needs and I think the explanation seems plausible.
How I Won the Battle of Taanab: West End Games’ Han Solo and the Corporate Sector Sourcebook has a number of amusing as-told-to pieces starring Han and Voren Na’al. For Warfare, I knew early on that I wanted Lando explaining the Battle of Taanab, in inimitable Lando style. This draws on the account from the Star Wars Adventure Journal #5, with a few touches of my own. “Mama Tried” is a Merle Haggard song (“one and only rebel child/from a family meek and mild”) that I thought would make a perfect name for one of Lando’s ships.
B-wing: Paul Urquhart writes: “The B-wing is simply an over-the-top stat block, but it can also be read as the result of Rebel experience with the X-wing and Y-wing, completely surrendering dogfighting for formation attack; and because it’s designed to destroy big ships without using big ships, it’s designed to make the Empire (and the people of the galaxy) question the very concept of a Star Destroyer fleet.
“The claim that the power core is the ‘same as that used by the Millennium Falcon’ is intended to illustrate the power of the design, and references the fact that both have been attributed to the same manufacturer, and so can be envisaged as having a lot of common components. But it shouldn’t be read as indicating that they use identical drives with the same serial number and completely interchangeable parts. For comparison, the USS Zumwalt, the U.S. Navy’s major new surface warship, uses what’s technically the same engine as the Typhoon fighter jets of the British Royal Air Force - but obviously, the version that turns propellors and drives a 500-foot destroyer up towards 40 mph is very different from the one that jets a small aircraft past the speed of sound.”
Manufacturer: Mon Calamari & Mon Cal Star Cruiser: Paul writes: “The Rendili connection is based on the fact that Mon Cal use Rendili dock modules, as well as the visual resemblence between the Dreadnaught Cruiser and the Providence. The idea of the Providence as a lengthened and modified Dreadnaught is based on the resemblance between their forward hulls (particularly obvious if you remove the galley-style ram bow seen in The Clone Wars TV version). For all I know, the connection may even be deliberate; be that as it may, this was pretty much the first thing I knew I wanted to propose for Warfare. The other was a 10-mile-long Hutt dreadnought with an axial superlaser….
“The three phases of the MC80 class are designed to correspond with the three VFX models we see in the movies: the big, leviathan-like Home One, which has been established in obscure corners of canon as a relatively old starfighter carrier; the elegant winged Liberty, which has regularly been identified explicitly as the ‘cruise liner’ design derived from a specific prototype ship; and the simplified ‘wingless’ variant of the same design, interpreted as a later development of the better-documented Liberty. That said, because every Mon Cal ship is meant to be unique, that typology shouldn’t be interpreted too strictly. Other liner designs could easily be wingless, for example.
“The cruise operators Kaliida & Rimward are new continuity, with the name an homage to ‘Pacific & Orient’ or P&O.
“The difference in the size of the Viscount and her sister ships is designed to resolve a contradiction in existing canon, but it also pokes fun at fanboy debates about the sizes of Mon Cal Star Cruisers and Super Star Destroyers, while tying in with the ‘every ship is individual’ philosophy of Mon Cal design, and a long-established canon principle that Mon Cal and SSD class designations cover ships of wildly differing sizes.
“The contrasting roles of the Krakana and the Bounty are inspired by the roles of battleships in World War II. For the Krakana, think Yamato; for the Bounty, a major inspiration is the Russian battleship Marat, which was in dock at Leningrad when the Nazis arrived, and was used as a super-heavy artillery platform during the resulting siege. The reason the Vong were able to destroy Krakana when they didn’t dare attack the Bounty is simple: On her run from Mon Cala to Kuat, she was outside the system-based air cover that could defend against a massed fighter attack.
“In hindsight, it might have been a good idea to identify the MC80B and the Republic-class Star Destroyer as the same ship under different names. But I guess we can’t fit everything into 246 pages.”
War Portrait: Admiral Ackbar: Paul writes: “This one practically wrote itself. I just went all-out with the Ackbar’s heroism and leadership - the tone is set by the awestruck attitude towards him in books such as the Black Fleet Crisis trilogy and Destiny’s Way. Giving him a first name was one of those things we weren’t sure we should risk, but it was the enthusiasm of fandom’s greatest Ackbar fan, test reader AdmiralNick22, that kept that little detail in the final draft. The name is borrowed from that of the heroic Mon Cal Senator Gial Gahan — who is now, in a sort of continuity paradox, named after Ackbar.”
A Soldier’s Story: Death in the Woods: I was proud of how this section came out (and think Chris Scalf’s savage Ewok picture is a great accompaniment), so will risk self-indulgence by exploring the elements I think make it work for both casual and hardcore fans.
First off, of course, you need to anchor Hume Tarl’s account in the action of Return of the Jedi. So the reader gets touch points for that story: the Emperor’s arrival, the missing scout troopers, Luke’s surrender, Vader’s arrival, the space battle.
Casual fans will also recognize phrases from the other movies, or at least sense the echoes. Tarl thinks Luke is a little short to be an infamous Rebel (A New Hope), refers to Luke’s laser sword (The Phantom Menace), has an officer remark that they’ll remember the day the Rebellion ended (A New Hope, again), and angrily tells Cindel Towani that his fellow troopers were slaughtered like animals (Attack of the Clones). This meshes Tarl’s story more deeply with the rest of the saga, without being too obvious about it — the language rhymes rather being a direct lift.
You also want to give the story depth — Tarl is a veteran of Tempest Force, an established Imperial unit. He’s served in battles that are a mix of existing locations and new ones, which ensures the galaxy feels big. He mentions Annaj, a system near Endor from the EU. His references to holo-thrillers and the New Republic bring the story forward in time, letting us imagine a retired trooper still fuming about having been on the losing side of history. Hardcore fans will know and appreciate some of the specifics; more casual fans will register the various names as color and move on.
Next, a different point of view helps keep what’s very familiar ground for Star Wars fans interesting. There are two such points of view here: Tarl’s and the overall narrator’s. (They’re not quite the same, though we only hear one voice.)
Tarl’s language tells us he’s not a nice guy — he blithely declares that most native species beg or steal, is chillingly casual about when and why the Empire wipes them out, and makes assumptions about Cindel’s background that a hardcore fan knows are unfounded. We don’t trust him and shouldn’t trust him — but at the same time, his account of the Ewoks’ tactics is so detailed and specific that we sense its truth.
This is where the POV blends with the overall narrator’s, and we get a nastier version of Return of the Jedi, one we can imagine seeing if the cameras had stayed on a while longer, or been aimed at slightly different places. (And didn’t you always wonder why more of the Ewoks didn’t use blasters?) A whole book of such stuff would be a downer — I always keep in mind George Lucas’s warning about fans who want their Star Wars grim, “like Terminator” — but I think it works in small doses, and this was a logical place for such a dose.
Finally, Cindel Towani is of course an established character, from the Ewok movies. I think the best Easter eggs are the ones hidden in plain sight. A casual fan takes Tarl’s assumption that Towani’s unfamiliar with Endor at face value and still gets a good tale, but a hardcore fan knows Cindel spent years on Endor, and gets a deeper story — he or she can’t help imagining Cindel’s reaction as Tarl rants and raves. What, if anything, did Cindel say? That’s up to the reader; I like to think she furrowed her brow like Natalie Portman and muttered to herself, “You assume too much.”
(On to Pt. 13)
Here’s Part 11 of endnotes for The Essential Guide to Warfare.
The Rebel Military: Paul Urquhart writes: “Sharp-eyed fans will recognize details from old RPG material and flight-sim computer games - the Airam Clans, Commander Harles, ‘rogue’ squadrons in the plural. These are interspersed in the narrative to suggest some depth to the casual reader.
“The opening statistics are extrapolated from RPG sourcebooks, but designed more to give a ‘feel’ of the numerical weakness of the Rebellion than to serve as hard numbers. The basic concept here is that the inability to challenge the Empire head-to-head dictates how the Rebels have to win; shifts of emphasis between various stories have been interpreted to show how their way of waging war evolved - sometimes painfully - over the course of the war. Hopefully, this ties the various conflicting perspectives involving Mon Cal into a relatively pretty knot!
“The disastrous Domino campaign is from the Rebel Alliance Sourcebook, though I think its code name is something I made up. It’s a clear homage to the Domino Effect, the Vietnam-era idea that the loss of one government to revolution will increase the vulnerability of several neighbors. The sense of the well-handled Rebel fighter force and fleet as a sort of psychological superweapon, a heroic counterpoint to the Death Stars, helps explains why the Empire is so obsessed with destroying it. This was developed further in narratives of the battles of Yavin and Endor that, unfortunately, didn’t make it into the final version.”
Death Squadron and the Navy Resurgent: I think this section is a good example of what I hoped to do with Warfare, and how that approach was different than what would have been dictated by a focus on numbers and tactics. The discussion here is about how the destruction of the Death Star returned the Navy to its dominant role within the Empire, yet left the Empire vulnerable — the Emperor eliminated the Senate because he had the Death Star to keep rebellious star systems in line, but now the Death Star was gone and the destruction of Alderaan had ignited the fires of rebellion all over the galaxy. So how did the Rebels exploit that? And how did the Empire respond? Warships, battle stations and battle plans are all part of that answer, but the broader picture is what’s most interesting.
Digression Time: Here’s a discussion I should have included earlier in the endnotes, but better late than never: Think of the Death Star as the Empire’s attempt to combat the “stateless” strategy employed by those who would contest galactic power. Military force is limited by the speed of hyperspace travel and the enormous size of the galaxy, which gives the stateless strategy its effectiveness, but fear is not so constrained — provided that fear is existential. Hence Grand Moff Tarkin’s Doctrine of Fear, and the battle station that embodies it.
Along those lines, Warfare’s cut material included an in-universe profile of Tarkin. As you might have guessed from the earlier discussion of Romodi, I’m fascinated by the Death Star briefing scene in A New Hope, and by Tarkin and his relationship with Darth Vader.
I love West End Games, but I think they erred by mischaracterizing Vader and the role he plays in A New Hope. WEG bills Vader as the Emperor’s representative, looking over the shoulder of the technocrats — Galaxy Guide 1 describes him as “the epitome of the Emperor’s New Order. He is the tangible evil that the people of the galaxy can see and fear.”
I think that’s a good summary of Vader’s role in the popular imagination, but a poor summary of his role in Episode IV — and unfortunately, that summary shaped the portrayal of Vader and key events in the Expanded Universe, closing off a number of very interesting storytelling possibilities in favor of more obvious fare.
Vader is a faintly pathetic figure in Episode IV, and indeed in the entire classic trilogy. Trapped in an ambulatory iron lung, he’s “more machine than man,” his Jedi acrobatics decayed into clumsy hammer blows, his very existence mocked by sneering careerists like Motti. And Tarkin treats him like an underling — he calls him “Vader” and orders him around.
Now, recall that when A New Hope took shape, Emperor Palpatine was more a Nixonian politician than a Sith Lord, out of touch and controlled by bureaucrats, and the Star Wars novelization says Tarkin’s ambition is to be Emperor. Now we can see Vader’s more likely role: With the Emperor shut away and out of touch, he’s been sidelined as a Sith relic and is trying to ride Tarkin’s coattails back to power. Tarkin sees Vader as a useful henchman, but clearly hasn’t made him any promises, which is why Motti feels free to challenge him so publicly and brazenly.
The roles played by Vader and Palpatine evolve and change as the classic trilogy evolves — by The Empire Strikes Back Palpatine seems clearly in charge and has some connection to the Force (a development I found startling as an 11-year-old), and Vader is much more influential. But the basic throughline of their story is still there. Vader
tries to betray his master by playing a double game in The Empire Strikes Back. He does betray him — though for very different reasons — in Return of the Jedi. So why assume he’s loyal in A New Hope?
Which makes both Tarkin’s characterization and the context of the Death Star briefing more clear: Tarkin burns to be Emperor, and the meeting he’s convened comes very, very close to being a gathering of coup plotters. Motti is all but drunk with power, Tagge’s doubts stem more from logistics than loyalty, and the others are either aides or non-entities. (Well, there’s Yularen, but in 1977 he was just the guy in white.) The Death Star is now operational, and the Senate is gone, removing a check on the power of governors such as Tarkin. (The radio drama, indeed, has Motti urging Tarkin to supplant the Emperor.)
So there’s Tarkin, a proud son of the backwater world of Eriadu, in control of “the ultimate power in the universe.” What does he do with that power? He doesn’t destroy what he thinks is the headquarters of the Rebel base. Instead, he incinerates a major Core world. On whose orders? And if Tarkin hadn’t been distracted by infiltrators carrying the plans for the Death Star, where would he have taken his battle station next? My guess is Coruscant, for a showdown with Palpatine.
Now think about the other questions this raises. How does Vader go from an unwelcome henchman aboard the Death Star to the terror of the Imperial Navy? Is there a reckoning between him and Palpatine? How much does Palpatine know of the desires of men such as Tarkin and Motti? And how did the Death Star plans get to the Rebels anyway?
In that, I contend, there’s a great Star Wars tale that’s been partially obscured but could still be told — a marvelous story of ambition and betrayal, calculation and overconfidence. Maybe someday!
The Executor: A lot in here for fleet junkies to chew on, from the mysterious Mandators to the various-sized Executor prototypes to the refit of the slang term “Super Star Destroyer” and the debate within the Empire about the right mix of capital ships to police the galaxy. I left the exact number of Executor-class ships vague on purpose, and hope the discussion of black budgets and intelligence uncertainty makes that seem like a convincing in-universe assessment rather than a cowardly out-of-universe punt.
If you’ll forgive a moment of fan pique, I still think the Lusankya erupting from underneath the cityscape of Coruscant might be the goofiest thing in the entire EU – the only way it could be goofier would be if her bridge crew were Jaxxon, Reist and Waru. I mean, really – how would any of that have worked?
Battlecruisers: The battlecruiser class was both interesting and perilous. It was introduced into canon by Revenge of the Sith: Incredible Cross-Sections, though the members of this class can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The way I imagined it, the battlecruiser was neither fish nor fowl, lacking the versatility and cost-efficiency of the smaller, ubiquitous Star Destroyer and also lacking the psychological impact of the Empire’s biggest dreadnoughts. Battlecruisers exist, but relatively few were built. Having said that, it was fun to reach back to Marvel to show one – Admiral Giel’s previously unnamed flagship, based on early production art of the Executor.
Note that a Star Cruiser is defined here as a battlecruiser at the smaller end of the class – an idea suggested by Tzizvvt78, one of our TFN test readers. I liked that approach because it accounted for the reference in continuity to Star Cruisers, but did no damage to how the old, well-established WEG cruiser class was incorporated into the new Anaxes system. My idea for explaining why Luke asked C-3PO and R2-D2 if they were on a Star Cruiser wound up on the cutting-room floor, though.
The Grand Admirals: Note the quick reference to the Grand Generals. I didn’t do more with them because frankly I think the more these ranks get populated the less interesting each individual becomes.
Duty Squadron: Rogue Squadron: Unlike with Red Squadron, I had a lot more leeway here. Get your continuity caps on and let’s go: Luke, Dak, Zev, Wedge, Janson and Hobbie are of course from The Empire Strikes Back. Kit Valent is from Inside the Worlds of the Star Wars Trilogy. Kesin Ommis is from Star Wars Insider #79. Tycho Celchu’s role in the Battle of Hoth is from X-Wing: Rogue Squadron. Samoc Farr is from Tales of the Bounty Hunters. Nala Hetsime is from Decipher’s Jedi Knights game. Zev Kabir is from
the old Star Wars Kids magazine. Tarrin Datch and Tenk Lenso are from Galaxy Guide 3. Dash Rendar got added (somewhat awkwardly) to the battle in the Shadows of the Empire video game. Tarn Mison is from Decipher, referencing an extra played by ILM’s Michael Pangrazio, but his role in the battle is new. Cinda Tarheel is from Marvel #64, the immortal “Serphidian Eyes,” after which she was never seen again. Stevan Makintay is from Star Wars Adventure Journal #8. Barlon Hightower is from Marvel #78, the equally immortal “Hoth Stuff.” Vigrat Pomoner, Stax Mullawny, Hosh Hune and Jek Puglio are all new characters.
(On to Pt. 12)
Here’s Part 10 of endnotes for The Essential Guide to Warfare.
CHAPTER 14: THE ALLIANCE STRIKES
The Age of Superweapons: The “stateless” strategy — and the idea of the Death Star as an attempt to counter it – was first developed in the Atlas.
The Death Stars, the Tarkin and Other Superlasers: As you might expect, weaving the many, many Death Star tales into a coherent narrative was an exhausting continuity slalom. The parallels between the Death Star’s early troubles and those of the Malevolence are there on purpose. In retelling the Battle of Yavin, I stripped events down to what we see in the movie, plus Blue and Green squadrons – whose fighters get a mission I think makes sense.
Why didn’t I mention the various other elements added to the Battle of Yavin in assorted videogames? Because, to be frank, I think they’re great games but not so great storytelling. I think Rookie One’s exploits and the Imperial ground raid muddy the drama of the attack we see in the movie, while additions such as the Death Star’s support fleet and communications satellite lessen the power of the stark contrast between tiny fighters and a massive battle station. If you like those elements, you’re perfectly welcome to use them to fill in the blanks in Warfare’s narrative. Same goes for IG-88 getting ready to run the show from inside the Death Star II, I suppose.
OK, that was a cheap shot. But surely we can all agree that giving R2-D2 his due was a good way to end the section.
BTW, big tip of the cap to Stephan Martiniere for his awesome painting of the Tarkin.
X-wing Fighter: Paul Urquhart writes: “Another piece that tries to tell a story out of what are basically stat blocks. The big sensor package has appeared in X-wing blueprints over the years, though I don’t think its tactical implications have been treated so directly before. The ‘Lightspeed Panthers,’ with their snazzy nose art and devastating kill ratio, are a direct reference to the Flying Tigers of World War II — like the X-wing, the P40 was a pilot-friendly multi-role fighter that used toughness and tactics to rout a far larger enemy air force armed with faster and more maneuverable planes.”
Y-wing Fighter: Paul writes: “The Y-wing’s appearance in The Clone Wars TV show has complicated its story: obviously, older material can’t take the new series into account, so this Sensor Profile has to give a prominent nod to the vehicle’s earlier appearance, and combine the different sources neatly.
“As with the X-wing, there’s an emphasis here on how the right tactics can make a seemingly underperforming plane a winner (I’m a big fan of the Douglas Dauntless from World War II, the nearest real-world equivalents to the Y-wing, and of the Fairey Swordfish biplanes whose attack on the battleship Bismarck inspired its Clone Wars appearance), but in contrast with Dodonna’s brilliant use of the X-wing, the Y-wing is misused by less-skilled commanders attempting to ‘compensate’ for its perceived weakness — the BTL-A4, the product of these attempts, is the single-seat version we see in A New Hope. Grisserno and Salm, on the other hand, are two of the Rebellion’s key proponents of the type, and it seemed sense to make them into a mentor-and-pupil team. What goes unsaid in all this is that even the most successful Y-wing missions will often be accompanied by heavy casualties.”
Manufacturer: Incom: Paul writes: “Being able to make up a story that Incom, designers of the legendary X-wing, was founded as the ‘Torranix Inertial Compensator Company’ is the sort of random continuity innovation that gives the fannish writer a silly satisfaction, and that I hope entertains the more continuity-conscious reader, too. For the average fan, it hopefully just feels natural.
“The FreiTek part of the narrative is an effort to finesse existing canon, but lining up Longspur, Incom, Bespin Motors and Tendrando is motivated by their shared connections with Cloud City. It seems a little absurd that the place should be the base of more than one notable repulsorcraft manufacturer.”
Duty Roster: Red Squadron: This was another section I was really excited to tackle. Note that Red 12 finally gets a name, chosen after sorting through a number of candidates. They were Naeco (original X-wing game), Captain Ernek Marskan (same), Fin Danglot (Galaxy Guide 1), Travis (a blonde woman from Marvel’s retelling of A New Hope back in the Droids kid’s comic – how’s that for obscure?), and Talos Merkin (Captive to Evil).
I liked the idea of using Travis, as I thought it would be fun to add a female pilot to the ranks and tip the cap to a really obscure EU tale. In the initial draft Travis was Red 12, but then Leland Chee and I saw an opportunity to address a continuity flub in A New Hope: When Red 10 gets shot down, the pilot we see die is someone else – a previously unseen male pilot with a helmet that looks like Janson’s in The Empire Strikes Back. That pilot, we decided, should be Red 12. That decision took Travis out of the running, and as Plan B we chose Naeco to be the lucky (or unlucky) pilot, with Leland supplying “Puck” as a first name. Fin Danglot got a shout-out as a consolation prize, as did Travis. Her first name – Milar — was chosen as a respectful doffing of the flight helmet to Star Wars authors Karen Miller and Karen Traviss.
War Portrait: Garven Dreis: I wrote this as if it were a missing page from Alan Dean Foster’s A New Hope novelization – fans of that book will recognize Foster’s startling line about pilots likely becoming particles of frozen meat. It was great fun to imagine a hotshot farmboy pilot’s reaction to Anakin Skywalker, to partially restore the now-edited-away reference to Red Leader having flown with Luke’s father, and to give some depth to the briefly, nicely sketched friendship between Red Leader and Gold Five, AKA Dave and Pops.
(On to Pt. 11)
Here’s Part 9 of endnotes for The Essential Guide to Warfare.
CHAPTER 12: IN THE EMPIRE’S SERVICE
The intro here is one of the more tactics-focused sections of the book, helped immeasurably by Paul Urquhart and resurrecting material from the Imperial Sourcebook. I was happy that the end result discussed tensions between rival camps of Imperial strategists, particularly with regards to the proper role of starfighters and carriers, and explored the technological thrusts and parries of the Galactic Civil War. That was a lot to pack into two-thirds of a page, but I think we pulled it off.
Armory: TIE Fighters: Can I just say how irritating it is that T.I.E. fighters and TIE fighters are different things? Speaking of which, we capitalized TIE/LN, TIE/AD etc. to eliminate the confusion between ln (el-en) and In (eye-en). Stop thinking about all that and look at Bruno Werneck’s awesome painting of Rebel forces in a whole mess of trouble.
More seriously, it was fun to trace the evolution of the TIE from the basic model through Vader’s prototype to the TIE interceptor, with a nod to the ancient Sith and their designs. Note here that the TIE’s evolution after Episode IV becomes the latest iteration of the aforementioned ideological clash within the Imperial military about the value of fighters and how best to use them.
War Portrait: Baron Fel: Fel’s one of the more interesting EU characters, and I struggled with how to do justice to him, worried that a recitation of his career would be flat and dull compared to Dark Horse’s X-Wing #25, which I think is one of the greatest tales of the EU. I cracked the puzzle – or at least I hope I did — with the by-now-familiar tactic of taking a step back and seeing him through other eyes. Wedge was the logical choice to tell Fel’s story, as he’s not only a fellow pilot but also a fellow Corellian.
Han Solo’s Military Service: This section was one of the first things I knew I wanted to write once Warfare became my project — as a sucker for Navy pomp and circumstance, I always loved the scene in which Han gets his saber broken and his dress uniform shredded. (It’s in The Hutt Gambit, though the first references to it are way back in Brian Daley’s awesomer-than-awesome Han Solo at Stars’ End. Plus I seem to recall it’s somewhere else too.) Anyway, Warfare’s account of Han’s career is woven together from multiple sources, with a few retcons and some new material I hope will be a treat for Solo fans. It’s also something of a bookend to the explanation of the sometimes-tortuous Academy system. It was fun trying to capture the voice of Voren Na’al, narrator of many a West End Games sidebar. Dean Wyrmyr is indeed a reference to the despised authority figure from Animal House, but I can’t claim credit: The gag dates back to the Dark Empire Sourcebook.
By the way, I know Han’s said to have graduated at the top of his class, but I’ve never felt it was right for the character – Han’s no fool, but he’s far more likely to impress you behind a stick than behind a desk. (For a time-lapse look at how Chris Scalf’s awesome illustration came to life, go here.)
Fighter Pilot Slang: A mix of existing EU lore, real-world pilot slang given a Star Wars twist, and stuff I made up. I used a liberal helping of this stuff in “The Guns of Kelrodo-Ai,” the Shea Hublin story in Star Wars Insider #132.
War Portrait: Shea Hublin: Ah, there he is. I was always intrigued by Hublin, who appears briefly in the old Russ Manning comic “Princess Leia, Imperial Servant” bearing the ominous title of the Rebel Destroyer. For the Insider story, I wanted to accomplish two things: 1) have the protagonist be a bad guy who doesn’t know he’s a bad guy; and 2) tell a story where pilots can only succeed by flying slowly.
Here’s the rest of Hublin’s tale — the story of a man whose reaction to being shunted aside was to compartmentalize his disappointment and stay loyal to those who’d been loyal to him. I can imagine him putting on his old medals, kissing Eris goodbye and hopping on the Eriadu-Phelarion shuttle. He settles into his seat, sighs, and hopes this fete of Lady Tarkin’s isn’t as boring as the last one.
CHAPTER 13: THE ORIGINS OF REBELLION
The Formation of the Rebellion: There’s a story here that hasn’t really been told – of an early, armed rebellion against the Empire that was fought conventionally and crushed, setting the stage for the clandestine revolution we see in the movies. I also liked the way the ruin of the Secession Worlds sets up the never-ending tensions between Mon Mothma and other Rebel leaders, as explored in the EU.
Alliance Command: A mix of government stuff from the Rebel Alliance Sourcebook and military stuff made coherent by Paul. Note the nod to The Clone Wars TV show and its Separatist parliament, used here as a part of the explanation for why Mothma rejected the idea of a government-in-exile. Throughout Warfare, I tried to stay aware of how the Rebels were or weren’t like their Separatist predecessors. Imperial propaganda would have hammered on any similarities between the two, creating repeated political traps for the Rebel leadership.
War Portrait: Juno Eclipse: A section added very late in the project, at the insistence of super-editor Erich Schoeneweiss, over my objections. As usual, Erich was correct. Imagining it as a conversation between Admiral Ackbar and his niece unlocked it for me: Ackbar’s experiences and our knowledge of Jesmin’s fate give it a sorrowful resonance that I think a straight retelling would have lacked.
Separatists, Imperial Defectors and Other Rebels: A lot of material along these lines got cut from the book, but I’m glad this piece survived – as I mentioned above, the likely links between the Separatists and the Rebels have long struck me as an intriguing subject. I think the sharply different positions and philosophies of Mothma, Organa and Bel Iblis are all believable and consistent with their characterizations elsewhere. Most of the former Separatists here are new creations, though the tensions between Rebel leaders are well-established, as is the bloody fighting in Atravis sector. On further review, the Navy generationals who became Imperial defectors or “benign neglectors” really deserved their own section.
Debriefing: Rebel Troopers: The discussion of the Rebels’ outfits and those of Alderaan’s defense troops is a mild retcon, my attempt to walk back any idea that they were one and the same. In-universe, that would have been a political disaster for Alderaan, for which the Empire was quite literally an existential threat; out of universe, I’m bothered by things that make the Star Wars galaxy seem smaller than it should be. I hope the ironic note about the Empire effectively outfitting Rebel irregulars elevates this from a crabby retcon to something more intriguing.
(And on to Pt. 10)
Here’s Part 8 of endnotes for The Essential Guide to Warfare.
CHAPTER 11: EMPIRE TRIUMPHANT
From Clone Troopers to Stormtroopers: The GeNode clones are from Steven L. Kent’s “Pax Empirica,” a short story from the strategy guide for Galactic Battlegrounds. It’s a cool story, but I didn’t think its depiction of clones was a good fit with what we’ve learned since then about the Clone Wars, and it had pretty profound implications that had never been explored in other Star Wars tales.
Sometimes that happens in Star Wars: A bit of continuity with potentially large implications is established but rarely or never referenced again, and becomes an outlier over time. (Examples off the top of my head: the trampling of sentient rights in the Expansion Region, the account of the Imperial attack in the Jedi Academy Sourcebook, Kashyyyk’s Wookiee scouts being the custodians of hyperspace routes.) I rejected the idea that the GeNodes were a major source of clones for the Stormtrooper Corps, but I did want to acknowledge them – and, I hope, honor the spirit of an intriguing story.
Debriefing: Stormtroopers: It was fun running down all the crazy stormtrooper variants seen over the years. I decided to be vague about whether or not the Royal Guard wore crimson stormtrooper armor, though. The danger of guides is that they wind up draining a setting of all its mystery – as fans we want to know, but we also like some spaces on the map that say HERE BE DRAGONS. In the Essential Atlas, for instance, Dan Wallace and I left the Empire of the Hand alone, and left a couple of geographical features undefined – the Noopiths is the one that sticks in the mind. What are the Noopiths? Dunno. Did the Royal Guard take the field in crimson armor? Dunno.
A Female Stormtrooper Remembers: The femtroopers you see at cons are serious fans and work as hard on their costumes as anyone else does. Check out the work of Sith Vixen: Yes, she looks amazing in femtrooper gear, but she also looks great as Maul or a Kaleesh warrior, costumes that demanded an enormous amount of work.
That said, midriff-baring stormtrooper armor always struck me as a bit unlikely in-universe — I figured the Empire had female troopers, but I was pretty sure they weren’t wearing armor that looked like that. With this in mind, “female stormtroopers” was one of the first things I wrote down when beginning to work on the outline for Warfare.
I worked hard to think of an unromantic, plain-as-mud name for Warfare’s female trooper, then salted the rest with trooper slang drawn from everything from Han Solo and the Lost Legacy to the Dark Forces novellas. I love the moodiness of Drew Baker’s suiting-up shot. By the way, the original title for this section was “No Separate Barracks,” but the audience at New York Comic Con giggled, thinking it was some kind of slash fiction. That’s getting changed, I decided there and then.
Debriefing: The 501st: As I wrote in the acknowledgments, thanking both the 501st and the Rebel Legion, “Star Wars couldn’t ask for better ambassadors, and authors couldn’t ask for better friends.” I know I’ve found one of my book signings because there are stormtroopers outside, with kids gawking at them in giant-eyed awe. (The driver’s usually flabbergasted when I point across an acre of cars and storefronts and calmly say, “over there.”) What those gawking kids don’t realize is how hard it is to see in those outfits, or how hot it gets inside. I’m always amazed at how 501st and Rebel Legion folks stay calm and friendly while the sweat starts to pour.
Anyway, it wouldn’t have been Warfare without the 501st, who get an overview here, including quick references to a couple of new engagements and campaigns. For my own story of being a stormtrooper for a day, check this out.
War Portrait: General Romodi: Yes, there are still characters in Star Wars who haven’t had every inch of their backstory explained. Well, OK, now there’s one fewer. I’ve always loved the Death Star briefing scene in A New Hope, and so I jumped at the chance to give names to the two guys at the table who didn’t have them yet. One became Romodi, restoring the character from the A New Hope novelization; the other one got a name and title, but the section got cut.
AT-AT: Paul Urquhart writes: “This one was a lot of fun to do. The AT-AT is one of those things that seems to be designed the way it is purely because it looks cool up there on the movie screen, but Warfare needed to come up with a rationale to fit it into a believable military context — and it turned out to make more sense than I had expected.
“I was also really pleased with the way the pre-movie backstory fell together — it seems to be a linear narrative of steadily larger mecha designs, but it gets much more complicated in the details. Xim’s war-robots are probably the most iconic hardware of the distant era of the timeline, while their very cool-looking Hutt equivalents were introduced in the obscure but awesome RPG module called Tempest Feud. (Which just got novelized as Scourge.) The ‘pachyderm cavalry’ are a nod to the Sith war beasts referred to earlier in the book, suggesting the Sith subversion implicit in the Imperial system — as well as squaring the circle by referring back to the real-world inspiration for the AT-AT.”
Dark Troopers and Droid Stormtroopers: A whole bunch of sources show up here, with Marvel alongside the Dark Forces videogames. (Kligson! Represent!) I always thought the story of Dark Trooper Phase Zero — from The Force Unleashed Campaign Guide — was creepy and awesome, and a great retcon to boot. Bruno Werneck’s moody, threatening Dark Trooper painting is one of my favorites in the book.
Quick note: In Pt. 7 I missed another Ansel Hsiao design that’s been canonized by Lucasfilm. It’s the Vigil-class corvette, and its length is 255 meters.
(On to Pt. 9)
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.)