Star Wars is one of the most expansive sagas of all time, but the history, background, and dynamics of the universe are much more expansive than what’s shown in the movies. Diving into the Legends canon as well as the official Star Wars storyline, this series hopes to flesh out the Star Wars galaxy and augment any effort to delve into it, whether it be for game masters, tabletop role players, or fan fiction aficionados.
One of the most contentious periods in Star Wars history is the New Jedi Order era, or NJO. Beginning a full 25 years after the Battle of Yavin, this era pits the New Republic and its Jedi protectors against a threat never before seen in Star Wars: extragalactic invaders named the Yuuzhan Vong.
The Star Wars galaxy is surrounded by a vast distortion field, a disturbance in hyperspace that prevents most travel between galaxies or to other locations outside of the principal one. This disturbance is thought to be more or less impenetrable, explaining why the denizens of the galaxy far, far away have never thought to swing by. The Yuuzhan Vong, however, discovered a breach in this disturbance, treacherous to pass through as it may be, and sought to bring devastation to the galaxy.
The Yuuzhan Vong are a dreadful and formidable people, celebrating ritual scarification, self-mutilation, and the abhorrence of technology. Believing technology to be a corruption of life and an unacceptable perversion of the natural order of things, the Yuuzhan Vong despise everything artificial, and especially hate droids of any kind.
The Vong’s hatred of technology extends to those that use it, viewing the users of advanced science to be weak and dependent, effectively servants to the very technology that serves them. It is this hatred that the Vong etched into the face of the galaxy at large during their invasion, using their biotech to overwhelm and slaughter New Republic military forces, civilians, and anyone else in their way.
The Vong’s biotechnology existed in a league of its own. Rather than shields and laser cannons, the Vong used miniature black hole generators and lava hoses; rather than transparisteel and metal, the ships of the mighty Vong fleet were made of yorik coral. Using this biotech and their robust – yet devastating – terraforming technology, the Yuuzhan Vong swept across the galaxy in a scourge of fire and blood, their finest warriors time and again slaughtering the defenders of the galaxy before themselves being destroyed. This tremendous conflict rapidly became one of the most devastating in galactic history, and virtually completely changed the collective face of the known universe.
Further adding to the momentousness of the Vong invasion is the fact that the Yuuzhan Vong do not exist in the Force as it is understood by the galaxy’s denizens. The Vong, due to a very drawn-out reason culminating in the end of the series, were essentially exiled from the shadow of the Force, and as such neither appear nor are mentally affected by the Force. This presented to the Jedi – and can present for tabletop players – a significant challenge.
Opportunities for tabletop campaigns in the New Jedi Order era are tremendous, especially for players that are more interested in the waging of warfare and the discovery of new and unknowable threats. The Vong, even midway through their war against the galaxy, constituted a mysterious and unfathomably alien force, meaning that game masters would be able to generate threats only limited by their own imagination. The ways of the Vong are so unknown as to make their very presence an existential threat, meaning that players with moral issues could feel assuaged by the conflict; on the other hand, the Vong are a complete culture in and of themselves, meaning that players interested in exploring peaceful solutions or a better understanding of the foe have their own opportunities.
The Vong’s brutal warrior society means that military characters have plenty of room to explore, but the Vong’s tendency to infiltrate target societies means that more tactful, diplomatic, or espionage-oriented characters can also be given a chance to shine. Lastly, the Vong’s fleet and “vehicles” are alien enough to mean that starfighter pilots and research experts have virtually infinite opportunities to experiment and explore their new foe.
In the end, the New Jedi Order era presents a highly unique and compelling way to approach Star Wars roleplaying. The unknowable nature of the enemy and the sheer lack of any comparable precedent unite to make a powerful and robust setting for a tabletop campaign.