Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Dark Forces Manual

SUBJECT: Reliability of Kyle Katarn
I understand there are questions regarding our continued use of Kyle as a freelance agent both because of his background in Imperial service and his continued status as an occasional nonaligned mercenary rather than committing to regular service for the Alliance.
It's easy to see how certain individuals who either encountered him during his time with the Empire, or lost friends during operations he commanded, could harbor such doubts. In fact, though, it is precisely his experience in Imperial service that has turned him solidly against the Empire, and will, I believe, eventually convince him of the necessity of the Alliance. I think you'll agree when I fill in more of his personal history.
Kyle came from Sulon, the moon of Sullust. Like many of our outworld recruits, he came from farmer stock, with a warm, close-knit family background. He adored his father, an agricultural machine salesman and mechanic with personal ties to the rural community he served. Kyle sought training at the Academy only to better follow in his father's footsteps when he returned home.
At the Academy he discovered a natural gift for cybernetics systems theory and information engineering. The time spent on his studies, exctra-curricular martial arts and target-shooting classes left little time to worry about political rumors or changes in curriculum and policy, as the Empire consolidated its hold on the Academy. His quiet student existence was shattered when he received Imperial notification that a Rebel ambush had killed his parents during an Imperial rescue operation. The final blow came when the
academy refused to extend funeral leave.
At the time Kyle had no reason to doubt what was clearly an Imperial cover-up. Overwhelmed by pain and a burning hatred for the Rebels who had supposedly killed his parents, he accepted a commission in the special operations division of the Imperial Army. It was here that he learned the true face of the Empire.
I first came to know him several years later, when I was working s a mole and double agent within the Imperial Intelligence Corps. Repeated contacts with Kyle showed me the scars he hid beneath a veneer of quiet competence, and his growing disillusion with the Army and all it represented. I saw to it that reports detailing the real story of the Imperial raid on Sullust came his way, and our friendship continued to deepen.
When my cover was blown and I was taken prisoner, Kyle ended his service in the Imperial Army by engineering my escape from torture and helping me get off the planet to a Rebel base. He joined me there a few days later on his way to the rim worlds, where, in the company of smugglers and pirates, he was to acquire the further skills of sabotage and subterfuge that have since made him so valuable to our cause.
I knew then, when we said good-bye, that he was not ready for a full commitment to the Alliance. The emotional manipulation he endure at the hands of the Empire has hardened hi against causes and made the idealistic, trusting young man into a deadly efficient saboteur whose loyalty must be earned rather than bought.
One thing is certain. He may not totally trust the Alliance, but he will never forgive of forget what the Empire has done to him. Yes, he saved my life and is perhaps the most effective covert agent we have, but it is this hatred of the Empire that will insure his reliability to us. It is sad but true that ongoing Imperial atrocities and disregard for life continue to provide our best hope for recruits. - Jan Ors
Here is the latest data on opponents you may run into at various Imperial installations. Some, such as stormtroopers, you are obviously familiar with, but the updated information may still help you out of a tight scrape. Obviously there will be a few things out there that we don't have data on yet. And, I don't have to remind you that if you disable and enemy, their weapon may be added to your personal arsenal.
Stormtroopers. You know them, you hate them. The assault soldiers of Imperial power. They're not overly clever, they're armed with only a standard issue laser rifle, but they're fanatically loyal, doggedly persistent, and the Empire seems to have an endless supply of them.
Imperial Officers. The average Imperial Officer prides himself on not stooping to carrying a melee weapon, but, as you well know, their accuracy with the pistol more than compensates for this.
Imperial Commandos. These are, of course, drawn from the Officer corps, and so have the same aversion to melee weapons. Their laser rifles give them a longer range of fire than the average Officer, and their intensive physical training means they can generally move faster as well.
Gun Turrets. Stationary, but capable of firing high-powered laser bolts in a complete circle.
Probe Droids. Do not be taken in by the slow floating movements of these nasty pieces of Imperial technology-their laser blasts pack as much punch as the standard rifle. These babies go out with a bang when disabled, so keep your distance when finishing them off.
Interrogation Droids. The more deadly "cousin" of the probe droid. This comes equipped with not only a stun device for "target motivation" but with a power blast for escape-minded prisoners.
Remotes. These small droids carry a relatively mild laser blast, but their speed, both in straight-out acceleration and direction change, is considerable. They're mostly a painful annoyance.
Trandoshans. These reptilian bounty hunters have been known to do the occasional odd job for Darth Vader in the past. Knowing Vader's obsession with efficiency, Bossk's continued existence probably means he's very good at what he does. His usual preference in weapons is a concussion rifle.
Gran. These scoundrels have long been attache to the court of the infamous crime boss Jabba the Hutt. You can't miss them-they've got three eyes. They're skillful hand-to-hand fighters, but first you have to get past the thermal detonators they usually have up their sleeves.
Gamorrean Guards. These pig-like creatures are incredibly tough and skillful with primitive weaponry {like the axes they usually carry}. Nothing a blaster of laser rifle can't handle. Just don't let them get too close.
Dianoga {sewer creatures}. Long thought to be figments of the the imagination of drunken maintenance workers, these all-too-real predators strike swiftly form below the surface at anything that moves, so, if you're lucky enough to spot one before it sees you, stay well back and shoot fast. It can also swim submerged and come up in your face, so keep your wits about you. Remember that your shielding can't help with the dianoga!
Boba Fett. We've both run into this joker before. His skill as a bounty hunter is legendary, s is his ruthlessness and knack for escaping tight situations. He's fast on his feet, and his jet pack adds to his mobility.
As you know these missions can take an agent into areas most folks wouldn't go near. If it looks dangerous or deadly, it probably is. The best strategy in most of these situations is strict avoidance. Remember, that all he shielding in the galaxy won't protect your form a bad fall or a close encounter with some industrial machinery. Here's a few things to watch for:
QS100 Welding Arms. Though not designed as weapons, these tools can be extremely dangerous, so try to keep your distance.
Mines. Pretty straightforward. You get too near them and they explode. Just keep your eyes open and watch the floor.
Chemical Gas {not pictured}. The Empire is not known for its responsible handling of industrial waste. They tent to handle these hazards by simply storing gas masks somewhere in the vicinity. The trick is finding a mask.
Chemical Storage {not pictured}. Once again the Empire tends to have a surplus of industrial waste. A mask won't help you here, though.
Power Generating Units {P.G.U.}. Keep an eye out for these during a fire fight. A stray laser can have a devastating effect {and can therefore work for or against you}. These P.G.U. are often left around starship maintenance facilities.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Pilot or Gunnery Crew?

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Pilot or gunnery crew? (uncertain):
- long gloves;
- black cloth cap;
- no belt boxes;
- single-breasted jacket;
- white shoulder emblems.
These men may be pilots, gunners or another kind of specialist. It is even possible that they may be a kind of officer rather than non-commissioned personnel. Refer to Imperial Military Uniforms for further discussion. Their uniforms seem identical to those of naval gunners or TIE pilots, except that the helmets and armour are removed and replaced by semi-dress uniform caps. E. Moody reports inspecting one of the uniforms at close range, and reports that they have pilot comlinks on the left sleeve (white, ROTJ; silver ANH).

If it is a semi-dress uniform for pilots then it seems to contradict the representation of the pilot officer deck uniforms in the TIE Fighter computer games and X-Wing comics, which portray olive uniforms similar to those of navy and army officers. Alternatively, this may be a semi-casual uniform for pilots on standby duty, or it may be for support personnel in a related service.

Traffic Operations

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This is part of the opening scene in Return of the Jedi, where three Imperial Naval Troopers are at a computer console directing traffic into the Second Death Star. All three are wearing the typical "cockroach" helmets. The two in back are wearing black jumpsuits with the Imperial emblem on the shoulders, whereas the one in front is wearing a double-breasted tunic (no rank plaque). The man in the double-breasted is the only one who talks during the scene, which compells me to infer that he is of slight seiniority.

Imperials in Blue??

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Some of the Imperials in the scene where the Emperor visits the Second Death Star are wearing uniforms like I've never seen before. It appears they're standing amongst the Imperial Navy people... right alongside the shuttle and adjacent to some Naval Techs/Crewmen.

What's really weird is their uniform is blue, which struck me as very odd. They're wearing shiny black "cockroach" style helmets like the Death Star Troopers', except the backs are rounded off more instead of tapering to a point (they're shaped like the ones that Rebel Technicians wore in ANH). They have black goggles and a black chinstrap. They have very loose-fitting, baggy jumpsuits that are most definitely blue. No belt, no fancy gloves.

On another note, after that I realized that in one of the cutscenes in the TIE Fighter game, when Admiral Zaarin is presenting the new TIE Advanced model to Lord Vader, his uniform also appears to be blue! The picture's kind of messed, but you can see it a lot better in the game. In comparison, his uniform is cut different; blue double-breasted tunic, blue officer's cap, epaulets, cuffs, and a belt; probably with belt boxes. He is back is turned for the whole time so you can't see the front of his uniform.

Here I am sure he is wearing a blue uniform. The colors turned out kind of irregular because I had to manually take a picture of the screen with my digital camera - the game doesn't allow in-game screen captures. You'll notice that Vader has a slight blue tint.

So I got to thinking, being sure to put on my thinking cap of course, maybe the two are related in the same way? For an example; olive seems to be one of the indicative "colors" of the Imperial Navy, the Fleet(s) in particular. The TIE Fighter Pilot's noncombat uniforms are olive as well. This compels a lot of us to believe that the Starfighter Forces are part of the Navy (or at least have a "dotted line" relationship). Well, if we can follow that train of logic, if these weird blue Imperials are wearing blue and appear to be in the Navy, and Zaarin is wearing blue and is obviously in the Navy, then there must be a relationship between the two.
(Click to enlarge)

Let's think some more (put those caps on). The guys in the blue jumpsuits really seem to have the uniforms tailored to function over form. I mean, look at what they're wearing! The fact that they're wearing simple jumpsuits, hardly anything to look at, coupled with the fact that they aren't even spared the commodity of shiny black belts, means that they are obviously engaged in some form of hard labor. They have no gloves, which means that they probably do some fine-tuning type work where gloves would only inhibit your fingers' dexterity. Also, they have helmets. Not only does this mean that they may be in danger of stuff falling on their heads, basically dangerous work conditions, but also that the helmet looks like it hugs their heads pretty snug means that they might be confined to tight working spaces.

Now. In this cutscene when Zaarin is exhibiting the technical advantages of the new TIE model, he's wearing this zany blue tunic. In every other appearance he makes he has the regular grey tunic on.

What gives? Well, I've analyzed everything as best as I could, and the conclusion that I draw from all this is that this whole blue thing is associated with like maybe elite, prototype starfighter work. The nitty gritty worker uniforms would be perfect for assembling and tuning up new TIES, and that would explain why Zaarin was wearing that particular blue uniform for his demonstration.

It's all I can think of, and the more I ponder it the more I like it. I can't think of anything else that would be even feasible. I have found only one mention of this mystery on the internet, and that was at the Star Wars Technical Commentaries.

Enlisted (unclassified)
- Blue-black overalls.
- single-breasted top.
- Black open helmet, cockroach brim absent or not clearly visible.
- Black belt with silver buckle and holster, no utility boxes.
- Long-sleeved black gloves.
- No rank badge or code cylinders.

Images: [Standing at attention, left of Lord Vader.]
These men probably aren't regular naval sailors, guards or technicians, because those uniforms are already identified. They must specialists of some kind, or have mildly dangerous working conditions, otherwise they wouldn't have helmets. They don't work in vacuum, otherwise the helmet would be sealed. Since the next two types of servicemen on this side of the bay are naval (black-capped technicians, then gunners) I tentatively guess that the mysterious men are also in the Navy.


They don't provide much text of value or theorize what these men might be. They describe the uniform as blue-black overalls with a single-breasted top. While I agree with them being blue, bordering dark violet, they can stand alone on their statement that they wear long black gloves. And also, before, I believe I said they wore jumpsuits but that might not be. Since most of the jumpsuits worn by the Imperials are made of a semi-reflective synthetic type material and have huge pockets on the sleeve and pant leg. Since these features are not easily apparent on this blue uniform, I retract that statement and agree that they're actually single-breasted cloth tunics like some black ones worn by other Imps in the same scene. Sorry about that.

At any rate, it's exciting to know about these mysterious uniforms. It really goes to show how rich in detail the Star Wars movies are. Also, the notion that them and Zaarin could be intertwined in some way excites me because it might be a completely new division of the Imperial Navy untapped by EU or anything really. Who knows what might happen? And if someone has any more leads, let me know.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

How Big is the Imperial Naval Fleet?

This question in particular has never been answered, or at least formally. Part of the problem is that no one really knows exactly how big the Galaxy is. No one knows exactly how populous the Galaxy is, and no one really has any good leads to use to look into this interesting problem. So let's get started! : )

I'm going to work this out for myself, approaching it as systematically and professionally as possible. Keep in mind though that I'm working with many approximations. Bear with me now! : )
OK, Let's Get Started

In Tales of the Bounty Hunters, Fett muses that there must be "100 billion star systems." And Dark Empire gives us the number of 12 million inhabited systems. So you can see, an awfully large bulk of the galaxy is made up of uninhabited worlds (this is also why planets like Coruscant can harbor such large populations; virtually infinite natural resources and places to drop your garbage). So the ratio of uninhabited to inhabited systems in the Galaxy is very, very large. If you do the math, you'll realize that it is more than 8,500:1.

Here's the catch. First of all, the novels are by no means accurate. To me though, the numbers seem legit for a galaxy about the size of our own. And if no one has any better guesses, than what I say goes. : ) Right then. Now realize (and this is crucial) that the systems' size depends on pure geography. The number of planets orbiting a sun, ya know?? The number of planets in each system may vary. Also, the number of inhabited planets per system will vary too, and this is what you need to know: an Imperial Commodore's Star Destroyer Squadron will be bigger in more populous systems and smaller in less populous systems!

Dead end, right. Yah. Let's start over. Instead of using systems, let's work with sectors. Sectors are as you recall, divvied-up regions of Imperial space controlled by a Moff. The size is not dependent on geometry or culture; but for administrative purposes only! The size can range from hundreds to thousands of systems. I'll make a logical assumption here and say that sectors in the Outer Rim are larger than the ones in the Core. Think about it. If "Moff Bob" controlled x amount of systems in the Outer Rim and his buddy "Moff Joe" in the Core controlled the same amount of systems, Joe would be more powerful cause he gets more people to lord over. Make sense? So then, presumably, if lesser-populated sectors are larger in size than more populated sectors, then the SIZE OF THE IMPERIAL FLEET MUST FOLLOW THE SAME SET OF PRINCIPLES. Now we're getting somewheres.
Number Crunching

The Fleet Admiral (Ozzel, Piett, etc.) commands his fleet (duh) which patrols throughout a particular sector. Now, with a little number crunching, we can determine that the mean fleet would have 4,800 capital ships. Now, in a galaxy comprised of, oh, between 300 and 400 sectors, we can surmise that the total number of ships patrolling the galaxy at any given time is 1,680,000. Accounting for ships undergoing refurbishment/repairs, and also assuming that about one tenth of this total force is held on reserve in the Deep Core, I'd make out our final number to be one million nine hundred thousand. 1,900,000 Star Destroyers. Many more smaller capital ships.

Let's backtrack a moment. According to the STAR WARS Roleplaying Game Second Edition (p.126) there are "nearly fifty million systems." Doing the number crunching all over again, we come up with the number of two hundred million. It all falls apart; calculating by system, you see?
Seem Too High?

My final answer is 1,900,000. Does one million nine hundred thousand sound outrageously high? Not necessarily. You have to remember that this is an entire galaxy we're dealing with here. Modern physics dictates that if you were to travel at the highest speed physically possible (that of light), it would take you ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND YEARS to journey from one edge of the galaxy to another. That is indeed a long time. Even with the benefits of hyperspace (faster than light speed), you're still talking about years of travel time.

There is also an official number of 100 quadrillion beings living in the Galaxy, which in itself an absurdly low number given the amount of populated worlds we're dealing with. But it still serves you an example of the scope we have. So... I hope that helps at least a little. 1,900,000 Star Destroyers. And again, as much as I'd like to close this case, that number is no more than an approximation. Though I'd bet it is reasonably close to the actual #.
Considering SD's Construction

Now giving the galaxy infinite resources (considering how vast it is), I think it is indeed possible for the Empire to construct such a large amount of Star Destroyers. I just can't stress enough how large the Galaxy is. Finding resources will not be a problem. Almost all of the uninhabited worlds have mineral resources, so the Empire will be able to easily get enough raw ore for building. If there's something the Empire wants on populated worlds, I'm sure they will have no problem taking it.

Manufacturing parts is a chinch too - there are well more than enough heavy industry worlds in the Galaxy to meet requirements. Labor isn't a concern either; we all know how the Emperor feels about non-human life. Entire races can be enslaved and literally worked to death, they're merely disposable resources in the eyes of the Empire. Then assembling the parts into Star Destroyers; HUGE shipbuilding facilities, more slave labor, not a problem.

Since such colossal #'s of resources and manpower are required, it's important that the man heading the operation (Palps himself) not concern himself with the needs of his workforce or care much about ecology. Any "lesser" man would have second thoughts of stripping worlds bare and working slaves to their death.

But you're right, he might not have been able to do much without a pre-established foothold. Obviously he had a bit of an army to start off with when he formed the Empire. A brilliant plan really: be elected Chancellor (with no recounts either!), then slowly grow an army and when it's strong enough, seize key positions and build a huge army large enough to whip a galaxy into submission. And finally, since it is truly the largest force belonging to a single faction in the recorded history of the Galaxy, he might have had a bit of luck on his side. Or at least a lot of patience.
Endor's Effect on the Fleet

Now before I go, let's think of WHY the Battle of Endor was such a crushing defeat for the Empire. Obviously the Death Star was a big whammy, but what bearing did it have on the Fleet itself? Well, first off, the Rebels did kill the Emperor and Vader. Plus, a number of high-ranking officers perished on the DS2 when it blew. Others died when their SD flagship was destroyed (one or two Grand Admirals if memory serves me right)

Equally important is the demise of the SSD Executor. Remember, it was Piett's Flagship, one of the best out there. It was often considered the fast-track for promotion by the young men stationed there; an offer to work on the ship could not be refused. Basically, these guys had skill. In Heir to the Empire, Captain Pellaeon wished that that his ship wasn't staffed by such inexperienced young officers and men; all of the *good* ones died on the Executor (paraphrasing). And come on, if you saw the flagship of Vader's personal fleet plummet into the DS in a superhot explosion, how would you feel? In essence, the defeat at Endor left the Empire without a leader, without experienced men, and had a very demoralizing effect.
The Fleet's Fate

So what about the rest of the Imperial Fleet; surely they could have killed off the New Republic in its early stages? Yes. Did they? No. What happened is the ambitious "Moff Bob" thought, "I could be the new Emperor but if only 'Warlord Jim' wasn't there to stand in my way. I'll kill him, I will." So instead of fighting the New Republic, the leaderless Fleet Admirals and Moffs fought amongst themselves.

It wasn't until Grand Admiral Thrawn emerged from the backwaters of the Outer Rim and regrouped the shattered remnants of the Fleet did the New Republic have much trouble with the Imperial Remnant. But eventually he too was finally taken down.

Believe it or not, the unifying Galactic Empire's strict, no-nonsense policies kept extra-galactic invaders like the Vhussan Vong away from the galaxy. Yeah but when it collapsed, they saw their chance for a piece of the pie. That's probably mentioned in the novels at some point, but not having read the books I don't know.

And that's MY feeling on the matter. : ) Just for clarity's sake, I'll run that number past you one more time. 1,900,000.