In the original Star Wars trilogy, and in the Prequel trilogy, there are no direct references to a light side of the Force.
The dark side is mentioned once in A New Hope, and several times in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
The closest we get is in Empire when Luke asks Yoda:
But how am I to know the good side from the bad?
The Prequel trilogy also has several references to a prophecy that states that Anikan will ‘bring balance to the force’.
But even though the dark side is explicitly referred to, there are no direct references to the light side.
The Sequel trilogy breaks with this.
Han refers to ‘the dark side and the light’. Kylo Ren says he feels a ‘pull to the light’. Maz tells Rey that the feeling of the light has always been there. Leia tells Han that there is still light in Kylo Ren. The Force Awakens’ trailer also mentions ‘the dark side and the light‘.
But if we ignore the mess that is VII-IX, and if we ignore the countless references to the light side of the force in video games, novels etc. then we reach a reasonable conclusion.
There is no light side of the Force.
How can there be a dark side and not be a light side?
The original alignment system in D&D was threefold
From the release of Basic D&D in 1977 (the same year that the first Star Wars movie was released), a two-axis system was preferred. Characters still fell on the lawful-chaotic axis, but now fell on another three part axis
Combining them leads inexorably to these alignment chart memes
I propose that the Star Wars Force alignment chart should look like this:
The light side of the Force
- The Force
- The dark side of the Force
The Force occupies a position of neutrality, maybe even true-neutral in dndspeak. This matches with the dialogue in movies I-VI and also fits with the way that the Jedi act in the prequel movies. Their dogma and rules get in the way of their ability to do good. And it fits with the idea that Anikan’s love (for his mother, and later for Padme) leads him to the dark side.
And, like rhyming poetry, it fits the ideas from Return of the Jedi, where the Emperor wants Luke to strike his enemies down. He wants him to stray from the neutral path of the Jedi. Killing in anger, even killing someone who has done bad things, really bad things, is not the Jedi way. Luke argues with Yoda in Empire – Good Luke wants to go and save his friends, even if it is a trap, whereas Neutral Yoda believes that fear-of-loss is a path to the dark side. In fact he told Anikan as much in Phantom Menace.
The challenging part of the ‘no-light-side’ interpretation of the Force is that it feels skewed and off-balance. We expect there to be a good/evil dichotomy (maybe with neutral in the middle).
I’m fine with that.
But what does that mean for D&D alignment?
What would a setting look like if it was devoid of certain cosmic alignments? Or if there were no Good deities? Or no Lawful ones?
Sidenote: The best alignment system
The Magic: The Gathering colour pie is the best alignment system.
In fact, excellent settings have been built just from tinkering with the colour combinations.
Ravnica is fuelled by this
What does an organisation look like if it is red/green? A wild clan obsessed with raw and primal nature.
A green/blue organisation? Biomancers, playing God whilst creating hybrids and mutants.
Green/black? A death cult living in the sewers, fungus and necromancy and questionable food for the masses.
And so on.
2 thoughts on “There is no light side of the Force”
Nobilis 2nd has a rather nice alignment system. So does D&D4 in form of the gods. They use the same idea of 3 rules that are open for interpretation.
Or for another take With Great Power where you only have one axis, but you can change it per adventure arc. That is, maybe you have Human vs. Alien in one game and then choose Cape vs. Hood in another.
Hmm… so, there are multiple ways to fuck up, but only one true path? Sounds like a very… “absolute” position to take! 😀
It does make a lot of sense though. There are many ways to mess up power, and one of the *only* safe ways to use it would be the recapture/execution of those that break the rules.