Anger. Fear. Hatred. These lead to the Dark Side.
Using the Force while in the grip of such emotions will swiftly corrupt a force-sensitive – greatly amplifying such mental patterns and eventually burning them into the user’s consciousness as reflexive patterns – an effect known as “Falling to the Dark Side”.
The Dark Side can be overcome – but it requires immense self-discipline, long effort, and constant wariness lest you fall back into the patterns of the Dark Side. Once such habits are burned into the mind, they will pop up at any unguarded moment.
According to George Lucas, in the commentary for Episode II: Attack of the Clones, the dark side is more powerful; “We’re cementing [Anakin’s] determination to become the most powerful Jedi. The only way you can really do that is to go to the Dark Side because the Dark Side is more powerful. If you want the ultimate power, you really have to go to the stronger side, which is the Dark Side.”
Why is that?
It’s an old, old, reason. Bodies and Minds normally operate within their safety margins. After all, you don’t want to injure yourself if you can avoid it.
When it’s a fight-or-flight situation – a choice between winning, escaping, and dying – the limits go right out the window. If it’s a choice between death and injury, guess which one your body and mind are genetically programmed to choose?
That’s why the Dark Side is more powerful – and why overuse of it can be physically damaging, as demonstrated so dramatically by Palpatine. You generally don’t see any normal Jedi overloading their bodies to the point where they start withering up.
Can positive emotions also cause feedback loops or grant power?
Of course they can. They won’t normally override the mind and bodies safety mechanisms – but they can serve as a focus and motivation for pushing pretty hard when you have too. Of course, backing your use of the Force with such emotions can burn them into your consciousness almost (since it involves somewhat less power) as strongly as backing the Force with negative emotions.
Thus you can indeed “Fall to the Light Side”. Running around using the Force to back Love, Compassion, and Forgiveness is all very nice – but reacting to everyone and every situation, including your opponents, with unconditional love and forgiveness makes for saintly religious leaders, inspirational stories, and lovely martyrdoms, not for effective player characters. In the end, it’s usually weakening anyway, simply because time spent comforting the distressed and loving everyone around you is time you aren’t spending developing your skills.
We won’t be spending a lot of time on Falling to the Light Side. Player characters are virtually never vulnerable to this, it’s boring, and – since the process is slower than falling to the Dark Side – it’s correspondingly rarer even for untrained Force-sensitives.
Besides, who’d notice? A perpetually nice person who helps out everyone around them and is simply soothing to have around is a local blessing, but they really aren’t likely to attract attention on the galactic scale. If the game master wants to keep track of “Light Side Points”, I suppose it’s possible; a player character who is too dedicated to compassion, love, and healing may eventually “Fall to the Light Side” and become incapable of violence, hostility, or anger – and gain a bonus to his or her Force skills (Perhaps Light Side Points/3) – but is that really likely?
So; to use the Force safely, without altering your consciousness, you must pretty much avoid emotion, remain detached, and exercise patience, self-discipline, passivity, humility, inner peace, self-awareness, and setting aside your feelings. You must trust in the Force rather than placing your confidence in physical things. (After all, if you’re trusting in physical things, you don’t have the confidence in the force to use it all that effectively). The occasional outburst or small failure won’t be too big a problem as long as you refrain from making a habit of them or going completely overboard – and thus allowing the power of the Force to burn such patterns into your mind.
In other words, if you want to use the Force without allowing it to alter your consciousness, you have to alter your consciousness yourself – and in some pretty profoundly unnatural ways. Emotions are a pretty fundamental part of consciousness for most sapient beings.
So if you’re going to be altering your consciousness anyway, why not do it the easy way? Why take risks when you can pop a pill? It works for vitamins…
Thus we have the “Hedi Order” (also known as the “Hed Cases” and the “Hippy Jedi”) – as well as all those “failed Jedi” who hang around in bars getting morosely drunk (and thus damping their unwanted force sensitivity). You don’t want your emotions seizing control? You want peace, a vague and abstract fellowship with the world, and to be so mellow that nothing upsets you?
Pretty much every race has access to substances that will do that. Of course, they tend to cause other problems – but which is better? Being able to have a fairly normal (if somewhat incompetent) life while pleasantly self-medicated, a near-certain spiral into the Dark Side, or having to abandon any pretense of having a life outside of your monastic self-discipline?
Quite a lot of force-sensitives opt to join the Hedi – even if they’ve never heard of them and there isn’t an actual Hedi organization. After all, no formal training is required.
You want to be a Hedi?
Here are the rules:
Start self-medicating. This is Star Wars. Go ahead; name whatever-it-is you’re using.
Take a basic -1d6 penalty on EVERYTHING you do.
Take an additional -1d6 penalty on the use of Force skills.
Take an additional -1d6 penalty on EVERYTHING you do for every two full Dark Side points you have. If you want to overcome embedded habits like that, you’ll need to up the dosage.
You CANNOT gain Dark Side points, no matter how you use the Force or act up. Neither, however, can you summon up the hostility to use any Force power that would normally result in an automatic gain of one or more Dark Side points – and, if you act out of character (anything other than being mellow and a bit vague), the GM is free to assume that you’ve stopped taking your medications and penalize you accordingly.
You must take care not to run out of, or stop taking, your drugs. If you do, you will lose your immunity to gaining Dark Side points – but your penalties will only go away at a rate of 1d6 per week thanks to the withdrawal symptoms. In addition, going “Cold Turkey” will almost certainly result in gaining a Dark Side point anyway.
If you wish to wean yourself off your medications without gaining a Dark Side point, you’ll need medical assistance to gradually taper off and to spend 10 experience points re-learning the emotional control and self-discipline you’ve allowed to atrophy – and you’ll be back to being a normal force-sensitive.
Unlike many of the other orders, the Hedi don’t have a “uniform” – even if they do have a distinctive look of their own. It comes of not caring much about what they look like or about social conventions. They tend toward scurfiness, eccentric modes of dress, and color combinations that would make a normal person wince – simply because they choose them based on what appeals to them when they look into their wardrobe or go clothes shopping, and they’re all doped up at any given moment.