The force is an energy field created by all living things, it surrounds us, it penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together
And so it does. In ways much more fundamental than simpler forces like gravity.
- It transcends the boundaries of time and dimension, to perceive events within possible futures.
- It acts at a distance, ignoring action-reaction and a wide variety of conservation laws, to manipulate matter and energy.
- It transfers and interacts with the mind, the life force, and the spirit – independent of physical bodies – lending help, transferring and translating thoughts without respect for differing neurology, and allowing disembodies consciousnesses to persist after the death of the body.
Why are skills so universal across the galaxy? How do so many wildly different life-forms manage to eat each others food and breathe each others air? How can so many of them interbreed? How can people make devices work better simply because they’re THEIRS?
In Star Wars the life-force triumphs over time, space, physics, mechanics, and biology. It is deeply interwoven with time and probability. The force binds the galaxy together in the face of divergent time and probability – and can be manipulated by a determined and sensitive living mind.
So what happens when a mind focuses on severing the bonds of the force? On driving the myriad elements of the galaxy apart? Defying the mandates of consensus?
Welcome to the Codex.
Why is knowledge of the Codex so rare and hidden?
The force is inherently life-supporting. The worst it will normally do if misused is to promote mental positive feedback loops – burning channels into the mind using it that amplify it’s own power at the expense of the users sanity. “The Dark Side” is not a monolithic thing; force-users can fall to anger, to vengeance, and to many other emotions, including to feelings that are – in moderation – normally considered good. No matter it’s focus, obsession is rarely pretty.
The Codex is quite another matter. In severing links with the force, you set aside it’s life-affirming defenses. Persistent misuse of the force can drive you mad. A single ill-judged use of the Codex can leave you – and sometimes many others – very, VERY, dead or (if you are quite incredibly lucky) merely forever exiled from your home universe.
Still, just as every living thing can – in extremis – tap into the force, living beings tap into the Codex on the same instinctive level when the consensual reality of the force is leading to their personal doom.
As with the force, there are three basic skills involved in using the Codex:
- Phasing is the art of breaking your links with physical reality – moving most of your body out of normal space. Its most basic survival function is to evade injury, either allowing the user to let an attack pass through themselves with greatly reduced effect, or allowing the user to pass through normally-solid obstacles.
- Unfortunately, this cannot be perfect; breaking your links with physical reality entirely equates to simply dropping out of your universe and into a random location in the multiverse – almost certainly into empty space (unless you are lucky enough to fall into the space left by an alternate version of yourself phasing out). Ergo, phasing can offer a good deal of protection – but over-using it is quite dangerous.
- The unskilled use of Phasing is apparent when characters – somehow – manage to escape injury from attacks that they had no method of withstanding or evading, escape from bonds which should have held them, and when people occasionally manage to disappear entirely in the face of some overwhelming attack, leaving no body or other traces.
- Skilled use can simply allow the user to add his or her phasing skill rating to his or her strength rating when resisting injuries – although there’s always a chance of an injury, since at least some part of the user must remain where it belongs. Sadly, the more dice you add to your roll to resist an injury, the greater the chance of a mishap – and the more dice you’re using to resist injury, the harder it is to affect the universe beyond yourself.
- Phasing mishaps range from scrambled equipment (thanks to random atoms, not being held in place by the user’s internal force energies, winding up elsewhere) on through peculiar injuries and disturbances (losing the contents of your digestive tract, accidently re-materializing while partially within an object or person, or being unable to recover some portion of your own body mass), on through vanishing entirely.
- Phasing is incompatible with the Inner Control skill, since it focuses on evading external interactions – and places enough strain on natural internal ones already. It is also ineffective at protecting the user against spacefields – such as light-sabers, variable-stars, gravitation (one reason why you need to maintain enough control not to phase through the floor), and shields. They force the user to choose between either losing his or her connection with reality as the affected molecules are scattered or to suffer the full effects of such distortions. Gases and such are another problem; while the user can affect his equipment and a layer of atmosphere around his or her body, he or she must allow gas exchange at the borders of his or her effect or risk running out of air. A life-support outfit is very useful to those using Phasing extensively.
- Shifting focuses on the manipulation of probability – essentially trying to force a chosen future timeline to be the one chosen by consensual reality. It’s most basic function is to permit its users to beat near-impossible odds – profiting from twisting the normal flow of events down a most improbable channel.
- Sadly, there’s only so far that any individual can drag the galactic consensus. Attempting to cause small, mildly unlikely, events is easy enough. Trying to force large-scale unlikely events is all too likely to send the probability-shifter – and perhaps an area around him or her – off onto their own private timeline. That’s not in any way fatal, but finding yourself virtually alone in a galaxy that lacks sufficient life-forms to provide the force to bind it together will get pretty lonely.
- The unskilled use of Shifting is readily seen in the occasional flukes of fortune and wild coincidence which abound in the Star Wars universe. If the normal rules of probability were in effect, would you really be likely to run into old acquaintances when you arrive on a random planet in the galaxy? Yet, in Star Wars, this sort of thing happens all the time.
- Skilled use of Shifting can quietly tip the odds in the user’s favor; the user may simply roll to cause unlikely events – or add dice to his or her die rolls. Want that guard to be distracted by some minor event for a few minutes? To fumble and drop a weapon? To lean back and accidently hit the “door open” switch? All pretty simple – as is using it to help make an unlikely shot, or to control a coin flip.
- Shifting mishaps usually come in the form of backlash; consensus reality tends to resist too many wild strokes of fortune – so fumbling a Shifting check, or pushing it too far, or simply using it too often tends to lead to almost-equally wild strokes of bad luck. The ultimate shifting accident is, of course, splitting off your own private timeline – but that generally takes pushing far, far, past the limits of your abilities.
- Shifting is incompatible with force Manipulation; when you’re trying to select a timeline, anchoring yourself to one in particular is counterproductive. While there are no particular technological limits, or weapons, which are particularly effective against Shifting, more probable items are harder to manipulate – and it has no power whatsoever over anything which has already happened; if you’re wounded, Shifting may help you find medication or ignore an infection, but it won’t do a thing about the injury.
- Time is only important to living things – and, even then, only when it varies. When it does, however, time is the most valuable resource for any species. Time to live, to breed, and to spread. Life, in its constant push for more time, for more experiences, for more events, drags the entire galaxy with it into the future.
- Tempus focuses on breaking the connection between the user and consensual galactic time. Without the drag of the unliving (or at least very slowly and un-competitively living) mass of the galaxy, Tempus allows its users to move at incredible speed – or, if little is happening, to let the consensus flow of galactic time greatly exceed their own as they drop back down towards the basic timerate of the universe – minuscule compared to the time demanded by living things.
- The unskilled use of Tempus is all too common; who has not experienced moments when the rest of the world seems to slow to a near-halt in an emergency? They have – for a moment – stepped partially outside of the normal flow of time, and acted with incredible speed and without multi-action penalties.
- Skilled use of Tempus can use the characters dice in Tempus to counteract multi-action penalties, to travel at enormous speed – and to accidently set fire to things, since the interface zone has some rather odd properties and it’s effective temperature varies with the difference in timerates. Perhaps fortunately, when you try to interact with someone else, you wind up partially dragging them along at your timerate by the very act of trying to interact with them. That’s why you can negate multi-action penalties rather than simply running about slaughtering opponents by the hundreds.
- Tempus mishaps are often very inconvenient. Being stunned while in Hypertime can drop you back into basic galactic time (near stasis), as will falling asleep. A bit of a control slip-up on the interface can easily set fire to the area around you, or leave you severely frostbitten. Truly major slipups can generate time-bubbles and distortions or leave you suddenly aged.
- Tempus is incompatible with Force Sense. Breaking the links between yourself and the galaxy this way prevents you from using the force to explore it – and if you start using the force to do that, you’ll anchor yourself back into normal, consensual, time.
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 50b (ruscumag.wordpress.com)