Welcome to the upgraded sterlinghershey.com. Take a look around and click here for details on the site update. Last week's Star Wars Rebels episode Legends of the Lesat featured a story heavy in background and Lesat culture. Spoiler alert for those who haven't seen it yet.
This episode is the first to reveal significant secrets of Zeb's past, and the first to reveal he isn't the last Lesat. It features the Lesat's view of the Force, which isn't Jedi or Sith. The idea that other cultures viewed and interacted with the Force in different ways has been around for a very long time in the old EU stories. We saw the Nightsister's version in The Clone Wars. In Star Wars RPG Saga Edition, we regularly featured "non-Jedi Force traditions" in various sourcebooks, of which I created a few. Usually, I took the approach that these other cultures had their own takes on the Force, but that it essentially operated the same way even if they new a trick or two the Jedi didn't.
It's always interesting to see how such traditions are handled. In The Clone Wars and now in Rebels, they tend to have a more obvious magic-like quality to their manifestations. The Nightsisters have always had this idea built into their archetype. With the Lesat, the use of prophesy is far from new territory, but Zeb's interaction with the Force using his weapon to directly control a starship is quite a leap. The notion that Jedi can use the Force to help fly a ship or navigate hyperspace has been around a long time, but I typically envisioned this ability in the "Force controls your actions" realm of operations.
Zeb essentially reconfigures his weapon in the "old way" (or something to that effect) and it directly takes over the ship's controls. Zeb isn't trained in the Force, nor is he apparently Force sensitive, but that doesn't hinder his efforts (much). It could be the staff weapon has some technology built into it to interface with the ship, but I'd be surprised if that were the case, given the focus of the episode. It will be interesting to see if anything is revealed about the staff weapons. Do they all have this ability, providing a way to Lirasan to those who know how to do it? Or is it just Zeb's staff, or is he the only one who can use it this way due to the prophesy? There have been items with similar magic-like qualities before. I think that keeping them mysterious in their use and creation also enhances the mystical nature of the Force. This episode's Rebels Recon talks more about some of these themes.
In the RPG, such a device is useful in many ways to the story. It is an item to be discovered, researched, inherited, lost, searched for, and fought over. However, the GM should be careful to use too many or grant too much power, lest it become indistinguishable to a magic item in D&D or other fantasy realms. Such elements tend to be better suited to wilder ancient eras such as the Tales of the Jedi, the Krath, and so on. Those stories are regarded more as legend than reality.
The episode also includes a great audio track that is featured on starwars.com. You can't download it, so it falls into the mysterious realm of Rebels music that is available to listen to for free online, but with no way to download it for offline listening, or buy it directly.
One final note: FFG released Star Wars Age of Rebellion Lead by Example this past week.