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Author Topic: Sith and Jedi sects  (Read 758 times)

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Offline Sotekh

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #15 on: 01/22/18, 08:20:50 PM »
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I'd say that's a pretty accurate reading karmic. and we're actually at least 2000 years before The new Sith Bane's people came out of.   the transition between them and the original Sith Empire have yet to be defined.

 it should be noted that in the Great Hyperspace war comics and other source material predating Vitiates reign, the Sith not only had rival houses under each Darth, but also a pureblood caste system of priests and Massassi Warrior slaves.  The Massassi in particular seems to have been alchemically altered at various points and functioned as super soldiers.  Emporer Naga Sadow managed to secure most of their loyalty such that the slaves on each ship turned on the other Lords at a critical point in the battle just before Sadow fled  the Republic to Yavin.  The Massassi  who came with him formed their own tribal Society and retained Force priests but no apparent true Sith until Exar Kunn came and claimed some of their forces. There were also other splintered pureblood factions that went into Exile after the Republic Conquest, such as the Lost Tribe and Sorcerors of Tund  who survived into the era of the movies. the game also acknowledges a bunch of hidden exiles but then has you kill all of them off in the red Reaper Flashpoint which I always found a pretty stupid self genocide from the Empire perspective  as a big pure-blood fan.

I play a Sith  of one of the last surviving Massassi houses  who is a bit of a zealot for the old ways7

Aren't the Red Sith we have access to more of the Kissai type, both in appearance but also in role?  I suppose you could play a body type 3 or 4 Red Sith as a Massassi, but even then, the ridges and spurs don't seem (to me) to be prominent enough.  I could see it, though.  Definitely not the Type 1 or Type 2 bodies, however.

Ironically enough, the Lost Tribe bred out/then killed off all their Purebloods by the time of Sidious' Galactic Empire.
Now is the Pillar established in the Void; now is Asi fulfilled of Asar; now is Hoor let down into the Animal Soul of Things like a fiery star that falleth upon the darkness of the earth.

Offline SquigglyV

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #16 on: 01/22/18, 09:03:34 PM »
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For heresy to exist, there must be orthodoxy.  What is orthodoxy, from the Sith point of view?  How out in right field do you have to be to be considered a heretic?  What beliefs qualify one as a heretic?

Let me just get out the Inquisition handbook real quick...


Heresy is basically just literally anything Tyria dislikes being light-sided or treasonous. It's like a synonym for treason, except more poetic and fun to say.

Orthodox is being dark-sided and not treasonous, or treasonous in a way that lets you pin it on someone else, or a way that lets you not get punished for it, or just killing everyone who tries to punish you for it, or being on good terms with everyone who would try to punish you, or being on good terms with someone who outranks the people trying to punish you. Technically that's all heresy too except for the first part, but who's gonna stop you? The civil guard? Not bloody likely I say.

Aren't the Red Sith we have access to more of the Kissai type, both in appearance but also in role?  I suppose you could play a body type 3 or 4 Red Sith as a Massassi, but even then, the ridges and spurs don't seem (to me) to be prominent enough.  I could see it, though.  Definitely not the Type 1 or Type 2 bodies, however.

Yep! Technically most modern Sith (and humans too in the Empire!) are descended from alchemically modified kissai Sith and various near-humans, mostly actual humans. It's not infeasible that some of them would have direct blood ties to the massassi tho, it would just be really diluted with kissai and human (and maybe zuguruk) blood to the point where it wouldn't be super noticeable unless they're lucky.

Considering how posh purebloods are, I bet they'd find a way to be smug about having that blood no matter how inconspicuous it is tho. :P

Offline Sotekh

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #17 on: 01/23/18, 03:22:55 AM »
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I've been beat to the punch! Others have pointed out several Jedi sects, but I'll offer my own take on what the Jedi get up to. As for the Sith, I'll defer to other folks!

First off, a few famous sects have already been mentioned; the Corellian Green Jedi probably being the most widely-known. They have some differences in philosophy, orthodoxy, and doctrine, though most of the core ontological views are pretty much the same.

So why is that? There are a few good reasons.

One is that the supernatural elements of Star Wars that these religions are based around (the Force) have been handed down pretty authoritatively. Debates and interpretation rage out of universe, but I don't think anyone can really deny that Yoda was laying things out pretty solidly in Empire Strikes Back. There's no debate that the Force is energy created by living beings which binds the galaxy together, despite the in-universe objections of the occasional cynic. That so much of these religions' basis is empirical, objective fact as laid down by George Lucas naturally limits those religions' ability to form wild new interpretations, heresies, and epistemological beliefs -- the only Cathar you're likely to find in Star Wars are cat people, rather than quasi-Christian gender-fluid apocalyptic cults.

Lacking much wiggle room for ontological shenanigans, instead, much of the natural point of disagreement on the Force lies in moral philosophy itself. This is what gives us the great schism of Jedi and Sith -- not a disagreement over ontology (which is largely irrelevant to the story of Star Wars), but over morality (which is the point of Star Wars!). Sects like the Green Jedi differ slightly in a few small details of moral interpretation, such as the permissibility of maintaining a family, which leads to another reason why heresy and sectarianism are less common in Star Wars.

The nature of the Force lends itself to creating a universe with a harsh, stark dichotomy to it (as discussed at great length here -- long, but essential to understanding the moral consequences of a universe with the Force, IMO).  It is an exaggeration and polarisation of the real world, 'bleaching' out the fuzzy, often incoherent moral actions of real people and reducing them to their fundamentals: do you choose to do good or do you choose to do evil? Nothing actually forces us to make this choice in real life, resulting in reality's messy line between good and evil, but in Star Wars the Force enforces (hyuck hyuck) this duality. If you use the incredible power of the Force to do bad things, i.e., allow yourself to be corrupted by the power you wield by misusing it, that manifests in very physical and very tangible ways.

While I'm going to explain the problem with using Western religious analogies in a moment, I'm going to use one here for the sake of ease of understanding. You can liken the Good/Evil dichotomy imposed by the Force to the sort of apocalyptic visions in many Western religions' mythology, especially Christianity. If you choose Good, you sprout silver wings and become an Angel. If you choose Evil, you sprout horns and cloven hooves and become a Demon. In our hypothetical world of Angels vs Demons, you could probably spend uncounted hours pouring furious energy into worldbuilding a complex Angelic society with many different Angels and the different ways our Angels interpret Good... but at the end of the day, they're still all bewinged Angels. Likewise for our Demons.

In that context, I think you'd expect genuine heresy and sectarian differentiation to be uncommon relative to the real world. Not necessarily unheard of -- just relatively uncommon. An Angel is an Angel is an Angel, and a Demon is a Demon is a Demon*. You might have fallen Angels or rebellious Angels or unorthodox Angels, but they're all still Angels in at least some senses of the word. Thus sectarian difference becomes less distinctive, and therefore less relevant than the overarching duality of Angels vs Demons.

Apply this to Jedi and Sith, and you can see why something like the Corellian Green Jedi is both uncommon and doesn't really diverge from the main Jedi orthodoxy all that much.

There's a third problem with sectarianism that's more one of out-of-universe expectations. Namely, the natural assumptions of someone who grew up in Western civilisation. If you grew up in Western civilisation, it's a safe bet you're pretty familiar with Christian theology, worldview, and philosophy, whether you're Christian or not. Christian philosophy inundates Western civilisation and has helped shape its thinking for 1500 years. And while some elements of this thinking are certainly present in Star Wars to large degrees, the actual in-universe religion of Star Wars is more akin to traditional Eastern thinking than Western. The Force and the Jedi's inspirations are pretty well understood to be rooted heavily in Zen Buddhism and Taoism -- hence the focus on spiritual mysticism rather than gods and heaven and hell. If you do bad things in Star Wars, you don't go to some afterlife Hell to burn for eternity... rather, you soil your own spirit. It's much more introspective, and not focused on external motivators like a God or a Devil.

So, comparing the Jedi or Sith to Western religious sects is inherently flawed. Instead, you have to look at the more spiritual religions like Buddhism if you want to make valid real-world comparisons. Now, Buddhism et al do have divisions within them, certainly, but remember that for the Jedi and the Sith, there are few, if any, questions about ontology or epistemology, which naturally cut down on the sort of sectarian divisions that might otherwise arise if you try to compare directly to Buddhism.

tl,dr; We've been handed the keys to a universe which very authoritatively stated the empiricism of its spiritual elements. Much like a fantasy world with obvious gods with obvious divine power, where if you stray from your temple's teachings your god literally stands before you, slaps you, and says 'Knock it off,' there is simply much less room for radical interpretation of your religion. There's not no room, but there's less room, so cults and sects are much less common. That wiggle room is almost entirely a moral dimension, framing the essential moral conflict of the Star Wars galaxy, which in turn is given something of a Zen Buddhist flavour rather than the Dante's Inferno most of us are inherently more familiar with.


*This is why I generally refer to Zakuul, its Knights, Valkorian and his family, as well as Snoke and Kylo Ren as Sith, even if they're never explicitly referred to as such or specifically indulge in traditional Sith philosophy. If it walks like a duck...

First, thank you for the thoughtful reply.  I appreciate it.

Second, I'm told I can sometimes sound combatative in text when I don't mean to, so please bear that in mind.

Now, then:

The fact that the Force is an objective phenomenon does not, I submit, limit debate or variant beliefs about it or its nature at all.  Witness the White Current Adepts of the Fallanassi, or the Aing-Tii Monks, for examples of Force traditions that diverge significantly from the traditional Jedi/Sith dichotomy, not just along the moral axis, but in terms of the powers that they wield and their understanding of the mechanics of those powers. 

I'm not sure that either can be shoe-horned into your angels and demons analogy.  I suppose it's easier to do so with the White Current Adepts, but the Aing-Tii would seem to be, in my opinion, modrons in your world of celestials and infernals.  They don't walk like/quack like either Jedi or Sith, in my view.  The Aing-Tii's abilities to teleport things via the Force, and their flow-walking (time travel/clairvoyance) certainly are problematic within the view of the strict dichotomy, but their ability to teach these (and other) Force powers to non-Force sensitives places them squarely outside of the Jedi/Sith dichotomy, I would argue.


As to Jedi and Sith being closer to Buddhism:  I took that as a given.  However, as a Buddhist, I'd like to point out that even with an empirical system of exercises as its basis and a disdain for supernatural beliefs (cf. The Parable of the Arrow), it didn't take long for sects to arise within the Sangha.  Mahayana and Theravada hold many beliefs in common, but are still distinct enough that they're not easily mistaken for each other.  And Vajrayana (Tibetan and Nepalese Buddhism) is distinct from either of those. 

Whereas Mahayana and Theravada have differing beliefs regarding the timing and availability of enlightenment, which doesn't really translate well into the Star Wars universe since, as you pointed out, the Force is readily observable, there are some areas that might serve similar roles and provide a basis for disagreement.

For instance, Jedi teach that upon death, living beings become "one with the Force."  But some Jedi can survive as Force spirits for a while.  *Should* they, though?  Is that contrary to the intended course of the cycle of life and death?  And what about Sith spirits?  What are the implications of powerful Sith lords such as Naga Sadow, Exar Kun, and Marka Ragnos surviving as spirits for millennia?  What does that mean for the Jedi view of how things work?

The Aing-Tii had deities, as well.  And if the Father/Son/Daughter that Anakin encountered in the Clone Wars weren't deities, I'd argue they were certainly close enough that ordinary people would regard them as such (Wookieepedia tells us that they were, in fact, worshiped as deities).  How does one reconcile their existence with the generally non-theistic Buddhist and Taoist belief system that Star Wars inherited from Akira Kurosawa?



Edit:  also, see: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Immortal_gods_of_the_Sith
« Last Edit: 01/23/18, 04:27:26 AM by Sotekh »
Now is the Pillar established in the Void; now is Asi fulfilled of Asar; now is Hoor let down into the Animal Soul of Things like a fiery star that falleth upon the darkness of the earth.

Offline Iaera

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #18 on: 01/23/18, 10:18:19 AM »
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Well... I'm not sure I have much of a response to that. Clone Wars/Rebels kind of exists in its own little world, one I have never really been inclined to follow, so I can't speak much to that point.

As for the weirdo Force cults of the 90s EUs, that's a whole other kettle of fish. That stuff was all written prior to even the Special Editions and was increasingly spun off the initial work of WEG, Tim Zahn, et al, so it's my general recommendation to take that stuff with an Action IV bulk freighter's worth of salt. A few of your questions are, I think, answered by the video I linked to, so I'll point to that again.

Several of the questions you raise are interesting, but it's my view that that sort of thing is good fodder for actual IC debate and RP potential. It seems a bit like a magician explaining how the trick is done to try to answer them here, when they're really the sort of questions our characters should be answering. I never said there were no divisions or dissent within the Jedi... only that they are naturally less common, and that the mechanics of the universe pare down the debate.

Edit ~ To offer a little bit more, take a look at something like The Jedi Path (if you can find a copy). It's a rare glimpse into what an actual in-universe Jedi text might look like, and is chock full of implied references to in-universe philosophical debate.
« Last Edit: 01/23/18, 10:21:25 AM by Iaera »
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Offline humanelf

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #19 on: 01/23/18, 10:36:24 AM »
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Edit ~ To offer a little bit more, take a look at something like The Jedi Path (if you can find a copy). It's a rare glimpse into what an actual in-universe Jedi text might look like, and is chock full of implied references to in-universe philosophical debate.

The sith version of the Jedi path book has some notes on others in the universe that study the force too.
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Offline Sotekh

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #20 on: 01/23/18, 01:31:49 PM »
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Edit ~ To offer a little bit more, take a look at something like The Jedi Path (if you can find a copy). It's a rare glimpse into what an actual in-universe Jedi text might look like, and is chock full of implied references to in-universe philosophical debate.

The sith version of the Jedi path book has some notes on others in the universe that study the force too.

Neat! I'll start looking for those.  Thanks to both of you!
Now is the Pillar established in the Void; now is Asi fulfilled of Asar; now is Hoor let down into the Animal Soul of Things like a fiery star that falleth upon the darkness of the earth.

Offline Sotekh

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Re: Sith and Jedi sects
« Reply #21 on: 01/23/18, 01:33:17 PM »
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Several of the questions you raise are interesting, but it's my view that that sort of thing is good fodder for actual IC debate and RP potential. It seems a bit like a magician explaining how the trick is done to try to answer them here, when they're really the sort of questions our characters should be answering.

Just so; trying to narrow down a few IC points of view related to such things, more than anything else.  Thanks for your comments!
Now is the Pillar established in the Void; now is Asi fulfilled of Asar; now is Hoor let down into the Animal Soul of Things like a fiery star that falleth upon the darkness of the earth.