Masters in Exile is an ongoing series of articles where I will present fully fleshed out characters to fill the roll of master for the Jedi in your party. These profiles will include plot hooks, game stats, optional house rules, personality traits, sample quotes, and character development paths. It is my hope that these characters will serve as set pieces that a GM can dropping into their game, fully-formed and ready for play.
Everyone enjoys something different about the gaming experience: tactical combat, roleplaying, solving puzzles, story crafting, etc. As a PC, I love a good mystery and as a GM, I love crafting one. If you are tired of Clone Wars survivors and Force Ghosts, let me try to sell you on giving your Jedi hopefuls something with a little more mystique:
The Anonymous Benefactor
The anonymous benefactor is something of a staple in fiction, but I am fascinated with applying it to the role of Force Instructor/Jedi Master. I see the potential to give your PCs a truly unique experience fraught with intrigue, risk, and danger. Another strength is that this sort of master does not necessarily need to be a Force Wielder themselves (I’d go so far as to say it’s more interesting if they are not). Rather than spell out one such benefactor, I am going to pose what I see as the major questions in designing one and some possible answers to serve as idea seeds to build off of:
How did they learn about your party/PC? Even if you discuss this option in advance with your player and they start with the instructor already in play, it had to start somewhere. This is a great place to tie in your PCs’ backgrounds, motivations, and especially Obligations or Duty. Did they display a Force power at an inopportune time and get a bounty posted on them? Are they famous in the Alliance as a Jedi Symbol?
- Perhaps it is someone that the PCs already know/are close to, but they are not willing or able to reveal their knowledge publicly.
- This person has been monitoring the PC for a long time in secret. Perhaps they are a slicer who developed an algorithm that mines data from personal records and evaluates specific criteria to profile possible Force-Sensitives. (Maybe this is a new take on the Empire’s “Project Harvester”?) Such a person could have used their slicing skills to unlock secret Imperial archives containing copies of what was salvaged from the Jedi Temple Libraries.
What is their motivation? This is perhaps the most compelling question. What do they want and why do they need to be anonymous?
- The Master could be a wealthy and influential criminal or corporate figure who is slowly leaking the apprentice information from their personal antiquities collection in return for services/work so they can have their own private Force wielder at their disposal. The missions that the PC must complete in order to receive their payment should be cryptic as well, adding to the mystery.
- The flip side could be an influential senator (or loyal Republic officer or even Clone trooper) who had good relations with the Jedi and helped to save some Jedi artifacts or datadisks immediately after Order 66. They could be working in secret to rekindle the flame of the Jedi for the Rebellion.
- An Inquisitor or another acolyte of the Emperor could be secretly training an apprentice to help them improve their station in the Empire. They could be training the apprentice to serve as a weapon to eliminate their rivals or be training a “Jedi” to gain access to the highest echelons of the Rebellion. The PC would rightly think they were working against the Empire the entire time!
How do they have access to knowledge of the Force? This one might be as simple as “they are a Force Wielder” but, even then, there are a variety of Force Traditions to choose from. And if they are not wielders, you may want to consider what tradition is the source of their information.
- They could have stolen or preserved old Jedi records and artifacts from the old Republic. Perhaps they have a number of data crystals that were salvaged from torched Jedi temples and outposts around the galaxy, and a damaged holocron that will play them. The Master could gift the holocron, but withhold crystals if they are attempting to manipulate or use the Apprentice.
- Ancient Jedi texts, such as those seen in The Last Jedi, could be held by a scholar of ancient Jedi lore or collector who wants to help bring Jedi back into the galaxy but knows his career and even life would be endangered if he was caught with the information. He cannot just hand over the books to the student because they need to be laboriously translated from “the old tongue” (as Ahsoka called it).
- The Master could be a part of a cult or religion that venerates the Force, but perhaps does not have mastery of it in the same way the Jedi and Sith do (The Guardians of the Whills or Bando Gora are some examples). The master could provide legends, teaching, and prayers that all contain secrets to mastering the Force and centering oneself buried deep within them. The PC might even resemble or have performed some action that bears many striking similarities to a character from the religions ancient prophecy.
How do they contact/train your party/PC? Remaining anonymous while providing resources, information, and training can be a tricky endeavor, and is worth putting some thought into in advance. Dead-drops and communication via the Holonet or voice-only comlink call are the obvious choices, but we will look at a few others:
- If the master has significant resources or technical skills, he could communicate to the PCs via a droid or multiple droids. This droid could be fitted with a custom override switch that allows the master to communicate directly through it, or if the master has sufficient technical skill, he could hijack different droids each time to deliver information. Perhaps the master has dug up or found an old Jedi training droid to help the PC develop their Lightsaber skills.
- The master could have a network of flunkies who deliver datapads and other resources directly to the PCs. These could be a series of homeless individuals paid by a stranger to make the delivery or in the case of the cult or religious leader, a group of fanatics who would die before giving up any information about their leader. It could also be a series of Corporate interns or even just hired couriers who have no idea what they are delivering and don’t care in the slightest.
- Perhaps the PCs just occasionally find a datapad lying on their bunk with no explanation whatsoever. The master could be making the drop themselves or using one of the methods above. PCs will likely try to use ship cameras and such to figure out who it was, so be prepared for that.
Master Benefits: You can apply the normal reduced cost for Force powers, but if your Master is looking for leverage, you may want to reserve the right to withhold this reduction until the Master delivers study material. If you don’t like the idea of a non-Force Wielder granting this bonus through study materials, perhaps grant the holocron skill bonus instead.
Hopefully, this has gotten some creative juices flowing – feel free to add your own ideas on this vein in the comments below! If you still aren’t sold and are looking for something a little more archetypal, check out the failed Jedi, Ephaan Kenzon, and his School from my previous Masters in Exile articles.