So, I've decided to ask these questions publicly, to get some feedback. First, quick background: for several years now, I've judged plenty of writing competitions, graded tests of wisdom, advanced tests of wisdom, and judged character histories. Sometimes I've done all of these things at the same time, and other times I may have only been doing one of these things.
Without fail, there are a few things that come up in well over 50% of character backgrounds in the various forums I mentioned above. I'm wondering why so many people have chosen them. I'll take theories, or comments from those people with such characters. But, it is at a point where I could probably predict half the character histories before I read them.
No, I'm not trying to humiliate or be derogatory. I'm just trying to get an understanding. So, without further ado, here's the short list of repeated background issues:
1. Races: There's a lot of Chiss, Zabraks, and, as of late, Miraluka running around the DB these days. In addition to that, many of the people have taken the primary example of each race and based their character off them. Chiss are often modelled after Thrawn; Zabraks after Darth Maul, and Miraluka, well, Jerec I suppose. We'll have to see as more join.
2. Professions: Bounty Hunting is the big one here. Assassins used to be a big one, but I've not seen that many in recent times. The bounty hunting issue comes up when people claim to have been successful at bounty hunting, yet they are now joining the Brotherhood. Why do so many people want to be bounty hunters? Why would they want to leave a lucrative job for something where they lose everything (Sarin thanks them for their "donations")?
3. Jedi Family Killers/Killer of Jedi: These two go hand in hand 95% of the time, but they may be separate as well. N00b A writes his family is slain by a Jedi (for no reason, mind you) and he then goes off and kills the Jedi, or maybe several Jedi, without any sort of training or such. Why do so many appear to want the Jedi to be the bad guys in their story? Are they that desparate for an enemy, or to make themselves seem like the good guy in their story?
Those are some of the big ones. You'll note that I left out two big things, though. Under races, I didn't list humans. The reason is simple: though many members have human characters, there is a wide variety of backgrounds and they rarely model themselves after one specific character. Under professions, I did not list fallen Jedi because, while I think it unoriginal, fallen Jedi have almost always accounted for a large percentage of Dark Siders.
So, anyone have any ideas?
Another one (which I know can't really be implemented) is living for hundreds of years (bleh!). I used to do bio checks on another SW website and I found some crazy ones (e.g. "I was trained under Darth Revan and then with his help I put myself under a stasis only to be woken up by Palpatine, who needed my help to do Order 66, and then I used the force because Palpatine taught me Plagueis' power and then I kept myself young forever and now I am here . . . sooooo . . . can I be a Kouncil Memba and part of the Sith Lordz bcause I think you guys are awesome and you will need my pwning powers?").
I chose Ithorian because nobody uses them.
I put myself as an explorer/artifact collector.
And my family was recently killed on Ithor by the Yuuzhan Vong.
To answer the best that I can here are my reasons for the questions you asked.
1. Chiss, Zabrak, and Miraluka make up the majority besides humans, because those are the races in the movies, and video games that make the most powerful dark siders for the most part. Not to many people get more then moderatly into the EU and learn about all the other races to be able to come up with a character that is origional. Also some races are more closely related to the light side/rebel alliance. No very many Bothans, Ithorians, Gungans are known to be on the dark side. Also some races are just far to ugly and not very intimidating looking so I for one would not want to be one of them.
2. For the bountyhunter side, the only reason I think this is chosen so often is Boba/Jango Fett. Everyone here wants to be all powerful, and since he was a kick ass non force user most people I would assume think all bounty hunters were that awsome too. The time period we are currently in makes some of the other common professions from the movies hard to hold without having to be old. I wanted to be a former Tie Pilot, and also be young so had to state that I helped the Imperial remnants.
I think you also need to mention way to many people trying to Mandalorian also. And those that try and claim being Mando, all have the same outlook thinking that all Mandos were kick ass ont he battle field. Sadly there were some not fit to fight, and stuck in the background as cooks, mechanics, supply clerks etc.
3. Jedi killer/family killed by Jedi that has always been just a stupid story in my book. But in those peoples defense, form the our point of view, jedi are evil. Being a Dark Jedi does not mean you aimlessly destroy things and kill people for fun, it is all a matter of how you use the force, and I use it for what I view as a greater good. I use it to protect family, and members of my clan all while making our lives better. I do not assassinate people unless they threaten me. When a Jedi trys to stop a Dark Jedi, I would view that as evil and try to kill him/her.
On the whole last paragraph you wrote about humans not modeling themselves after one specific person, you are partially correct. I see alot of Han Solos, Senator Organas, Palpatine pre emporor, and Fetts running around.
Mandalorians (and Sith) used to be a big issue, but they've died off in recent times, at least with what I have observed in character histories and tests of wisdom. Of course, since none of these things are currently required in the Brotherhood (as they once were), people never have to go through any type of approval process. That, and character histories are a one time approval: after that, you could edit it however you wish.
On the human angle, there is still a much more diverse background, though you are correct Yeldarb when you say that there are some model characters. You may also have hit on the very issues that lie at the heart of this matter. I've had the same thoughts myself, but it keeps coming up, and so I finally wondered if there was something more to it. There may be; there may not be.
And, of course, this is part of a poorly hidden plot to raise awareness of this issue in general
When I was creating my history, I tried to be as unique as possible, while still incorporating a common link with other dark siders. For example, I am really into the EU, and I found Mandalorian culture very interesting, but I'm also a huge fan of Corellia. Since the Mando'ade are widespread, I wrote that I was adopted by my Mando'ad friend's family after leaving my parents house when I was younger, and to make a common link with other Dark Jedi I wrote that my brother was killed as collateral damage from a Jedi mission on Coronet. I was reading a Legacy of the Force book the other day, and there were explosions abound in a busy city when the Jedi were trying to catch up with someone, so it seamed feasible to me. I didn't plan on being another Boba Fett, but I like the Mando'a language and the discipline their lives provide, as well as their views on family, which I thought would translate well here.
I had a thought for you just now, Anshar.
What about revamping the initial entrance tests so they "learn" about some of the less-used races, and maybe a couple of the more common ones (like humans), and then have to answer questions about the various natural skills and such of each race? Maybe part of the problem is, people don't get into some of the other races because they don't know enough about them?
Go play KOTOR 2, and one of the group characters is the female Miraluka, who has some pretty cool abilities. People might be getting inundated that "Miraluka = wicked Force powers" there. Thrawn, big name, big skills, people want to be equal to him, they choose Chiss. Zabrak, people geek out on Darth Maul.
So, seriously. Maybe we need to focus a little more on getting people interested in diversity right off the bat?
That would be awesome. Perhaps you could also make a test that people take that would end up suggesting which species they should be?
That's a decent idea, Dralin, though the sheer number of potential species, even the major ones, does make a test difficult. It would certainly be long, kind of like those tests you take in high school and then say "you might like jobs in this field."
And Sith, a bit of education might be a good idea. I am also going to try and write up a short blurb for Sil or Jac to put up before the character history page, kind of like the SI/SoF requests page.
Well, maybe you could make categories of species, and link to pages that give details on the species in that category.
A Category:Species or whatnot would be cool on the wiki. But now I must go back to Rogues and hide.
I choose Sakiyan because they arenít tank characters, can have black skin, pointy ears and uber leet senses. That and who else can stick it to the Hutt's ?
My background I choose ascetic monk because I wanted him to be twisted without being tragic.
The ACC has a species list, how bout incorporating that into the thing?
I read through the complete list of species and made my choice of an Omwati whose parents *might* have engineered the Galaxy Gun.
I don't see why new members should make their choice just like that. I suggest pointing them to the ACC species list as well the wiki/character histories of a number of older members with a well-written history. That way the new members would be fired-up to create their own unique history.
Yeah, the ACC list is a bit limited, at least for the moment. But, it can be helpful for those who don't want to go out and do research.
I'll admit I was even a tragic abuser of the popular garbage that people throw in their histories - so much that I had to wipe out the history completely and rebuild from the ground up. At one time I had the Ex-TIE Pilot angle, the Mandalorian angle, Ex-Bounty Hunter angle, and even the samurai angle.
Now I'm a Fallen Jedi Clone of a wanna-be Bounty Hunter.
Fallen Jedi is the easiest way to explain why he isn't a light sider, and if you make it through the description on the wiki you'll see it was all a misunderstanding.
I chose clone, mostly because I wanted this character to have been around for a period BBY and not incredibly old for our current timeline.
The wanna-be bounty hunter was more about bridging the old character to this current clone. His only goal was to avenge his brother. He more or less tagged along with an actual bounty hunter and picked up a skill or two but was in no way able to make a living from it.
Now my thoughts on what you presented:
As stated, certain races are seen as excellent, so they're used more. Basically - it's all people 'know' is what they've experienced in games or books. They connect with the essence of the character who happens to be that race and want to reflect what they like about that character into their own. As someone already said - Thrawn was cool, so APP Newguy wants to be just as cool.
Professions is kind of a difficult one to really slap people around with. Sure - Bounty hunter is getting stale, but what else were we really presented with that looked like it was awesome? Junk dealer, senator, diner owner, smuggler, galactic gangster... Ok that last one was a bad example, but anyway, nothing is as 'glorified' as the role of Bounty Hunter. Think about it - bad ass Jango/Boba Fett and his 'do whatever I freaking want' profession of killing/capturing people for cash.
On the topic of Jedi killers, this is just insane. No, Jedi do not just kill people randomly. I find that as about the weakest way to make sure your character hates the Jedi one can come up with. I can fully accept Dralin's reasoning. There was not a direct interaction between Jedi and accidently killed relative.
On that note, I think we also need to address another common issue - Orphans. I guarantee you can fire up 10 histories and you'll not find one that has living relatives. In my own defense, Kaine's relatives - well, no one knows what happened to his mother (yet). His father died from illness late in his life. His brother was killed - oddly enough - by a bounty hunter. Not a Jedi, because his brother was a Jedi...
Well I know a bunch of people are or were bounty hunters not to be cliche, but instead to pay homage to their days in the Bounty Hunters Guild, another Star Wars club.
That said, fallen jedi just seems like it is the first thing most casual Star Wars fans go to because of their exposure to just the movies. I, for example, know quite a bit about the EU, so I would be able to put things on my profile like "major shareholder in Sienar Fleet Systems" or something similar.
I'm still sticking with the ex-TIE Pilot because that's what I spent a fair few years pretending to be and I don't want to give it up.
I'm also human, a [Expletive Deleted] and I've moved my character into being a bit of a 'Starscream' wanting to take power for myself while working with the clan. That's not too original but I've always been pretty open about who I am in real-life so I have my character reflecting that (yes, even the being a [Expletive Deleted] part).
It's worth noting that I think that people tend to choose the same things because of two things. First of all they don't have the limitless knowledge some of the nerdier members of the club have so they go for the obvious since that is all they know. Secondly, it takes a certain kind of person to join a club like this so it can't be too surprising that there is little variation between what people want to be fictionally in this club.
I think the reason alot of people fit into one of those three catagories is because they have been the most visible in the SW movies. That and well I think everyone has delusions of wanting be the Darkside Bounty Hunter wanting to kill the Jedi who killed their family.
Seriously though when I first joined my Bio was a member who was taught the ways of the Dark Side by his parents who was trained by Vader.
As I grew older I decided to reach out from the norm and change that. As of now I am an ex-CorSec officer on the run after joining the Tie Corps, also instead of the normal full on rage and anger Dark Sider, I am a "Grey Jedi". Using both sides of the Force as I see fit. Yea I catch alot of crap about it, but its semi-original.
"grey jedi" we have dozens of them here =)
Shhhhh dont tell em that.
One reason for the large number of orphans might be that most of our family lives are dull and monotonous. I for one joined the DB for excitement and to live out a fantasy life, and frankly thinking about including a family wasn't part of the plan. And separation from family is a big part of Star Wars, and religious life in general. Luke didn't know his parents, and his aunt and uncle, and Obi-Wan were killed off in IV. Anakin had to leave his mother. When starting a new life, you have to say goodbye to the old one, becoming an orphan in spirit if not in fact.
This topic kind of influenced my sudden need to re-write my character and his history.
There are a lot
of Mandalorians, so it's not that cool to be one. You kind of get lumped into a crowd.
Waiting for mine to be accepted, hoping its original enough, Starts as a slave then becomes a slaver, ironic eh?
I guess that many new members join the DB having watched only the movies or TV series or comics, which narrows their knowledge quite a bit. Many comics also try to make their main character seem the coolest, so that will influence their history as well.
When these new members are more inclined towards fiction than gaming, the first thing that they can lay their hands on is their character's history. Because of this, they will often write it based on the limited information they have acquired of the Star Wars Universe. This knowledge will come from the same sources (like the movies) as the other new members, so this might be one of the reasons why so many histories look the same.
Perhaps, to improve this, new members should be encouraged to leave their character history for later. They should be kept busy with training for advancement that does not include developing their character until the last three or four Journeymen ranks, when they are more likely to have a wider knowledge of Star Wars and thus a wider choice of ideas and sources to pick n' mix.