The Knights’ Watch – our first faux-commentary piece on the Old Republic Paint Adventures, covered by Darth Snow, Dork Lord of the Bith and Teline. In this article, we’ll be diving into the comic’s humble beginning, the introduction of our first two heroes and how it all works.
Darth Snow: “So when I first sat down to reread this, I honestly wasn’t expecting much to do in terms of writing a review… ‘A prologue and a chapter? There isn’t going to be anything substantial here!’ That tune changed pretty quickly though when I realized how well these first handfuls of panels laid out the groundwork for the entire comic.”
Teline: “I know, right? It’s amazing to me just how much of the comic’s later themes and character beats are hidden in the first couple of chapters. We keep coming back to it, and every time we do, we stumble on something we missed or something that we now see in a new light.”
Darth Snow: “Like Doop’s complicated relationship with the Force?”
Teline: “Yes! Exactly. Surface level, it’s a joke; understand its context, though, and the way you perceive it suddenly takes a whole different meaning.
What did you guys think about our protagonists’ names?”
Dork Lord of the Bith: “I find Mr. Skychafer’s name pretty self-explanatory. You can tell from first glance that he’s not a character in the market for an honest living. It didn’t take long for the people to give him a Toydarian set of skills in order to bring his noble goals of enrichment to fruition.”
Teline: “So, he’s kinda the opposite of Saber? What you see is what you get?”
Dork Lord of the Bith: “Yes, very much so. He is dishonest about his intentions, but he is quite honest about who he is.”
Teline: “Do you think there’s room for change in Doop’s heart?”
Dork Lord of the Bith: “I doubt that Doop’s persona will change in ways that would completely turn him away from a life of debauchery and mischief, although I could see him learning to discern actual opportunities from unnecessary risks, thus keeping a lower profile at some point down the hyperroute.
As far as Darth Saber goes, personally, it is the catchiest of all the names the comic has. It is such a plain, bland, and embarrassing title for such a multilayered and awkward young Sith Lord. A perfect comedic fit for many a fan’s favorite character.”
Darth Snow: “Absolutely, I think both names are perfect fits, and to me – the right sounding name is essential, because the wrong name has potential to be so distracting to the point of breaking immersion. While at first glance it’s a transparent parody of a certain Tatooine farmboy turned Jedi Master, the name immediately and perhaps subconsciously establishes some character traits.
Doop begins to do exactly as his name suggests: he dupes others out of their hard-earned credits for an easy score, and he also puts the “chafe” in Skychafer, as he is often in a pretty sour mood. As for Darth Saber, well you said it: it’s so perfectly awkward and simple that it just rings beauty. I can’t stress enough that the instant draw I felt to this comic began with these two hilariously named and well designed characters.”
Dork Lord of the Bith: “One character, who is not player-controlled, but surely deserves a mention here is Grand Admiral Snote of the Chiss Ascendancy. I won’t get into too much of his psyche at this moment, since we really are too early for a deep discussion on the topic. However, I will highlight that a simple choice in the very prologue of the adventure brought about his introduction, which in turn shaped the plot in profound ways, such as giving us a completely different third protagonist, pushing the Chiss into the spotlight of the story, and setting the political stage of the entire adventure. As the story moves forward, we will see him affect our protagonists in unexpected, personal ways, and for every answer he provides us with, two new questions emerge.”
Teline: “One thing that we can talk about is his Force Sensitivity, right? The Chiss Ascendancy in the Old Republic era that we find is one that’s strikingly different than the one from Thrawn’s time. For one, they still have the rank of Grand Admiral as opposed to a naval council. Two, they seem to have a distrust and distaste for Force Sensitives, preferring instead to rely on technology and conventional ingenuity over the spiritual. Alamact went on record stating that this was done by intent, so one of the things I’m looking forward to is seeing how we go from this Ascendancy to one that uses Force Sensitive children to scout the Unknown Regions.”
Darth Snow: “Probably with a time skip the comic won’t cover.”
Teline: “Yeah, probably, but a girl can dream.”
Dork Lord of the Bith: “Seeing as this is the first dive we take into reviewing ORPA, I figure it is as fitting a time as any to discuss a bit about its core mechanics. There is something fascinating about taking part in an ever-expanding narrative shaped directly by your choices and indirectly by your personal agenda. I’m not going to lie, one of my goals is to get each and every character as high up the food chain as they can get, using whatever tools they can acquire throughout the adventure.
Despite all that, you’ll often still see me make suggestions purely on a comical premise – which doesn’t necessarily mean they stray away from pursuing my main goal. Now we multiply this by the comic’s rather large userbase and we’ve got sort of an AI collective going on that strangely functions well and keeps on improving itself as the story goes along; with the author’s helping hand and restraint, of course.”
Teline: “I noticed that as the adventure went on, people started becoming more conservative with their choices. They’re no less funny, but there this unshakable feeling that people genuinely care about their heroes and don’t want to recklessly rush them into a death trap. After all, the author can only justify keeping them alive for so long. Me? I’m all about giving Saber some happiness. The poor guy deserves it. I feel like we’ve made some good progress there but the story is a fickle one, with the right amount of twists and turns.”
Darth Snow: “I’m not afraid to admit that I was actually pretty nervous making my first post to the comic. You aren’t kidding, it is really awesome to see your suggestions come true. The author does a great job of picking out some little bits from most of the users’ suggestions. Sometimes it’s word-for-word dialogue, sometimes it’s just a couple words; and sometimes, your suggestion won’t make the cut… but you might still see it appear randomly 2 months from now, when even you yourself had forgotten about it! Like a sly old elephant, the author never forgets, for better or worse.”
Teline: “One of the most popular anecdotes from the comic is that allegedly, Act II’s Corellia plot started over an offhanded remark by one of the readers. “Choices Matter” is something the comic loves to lampoon, but let’s not kid ourselves here. They definitely do.”
Darth Snow: Speaking of user suggestions, we’d like to pull in another ORPA regular, MadsLad, the man responsible for naming Darth Saber and the very first reader of the comic. Mads, it almost feels silly to ask the inspiration behind Saber – but what was your line of thought there? Perhaps the better question is: why did you think it would work?”
Mads: “Honestly? It sounded dumb. The good kind of dumb. The right kind of dumb. It sounded like a hecking franchise, gosh darn it.”
Dork Lord of the Bith: “Picking a main character’s name obviously has quite the impact on the series as a whole, even more so when said name affects the way they’re perceived and developed by the community to begin with. Upon initially coining the term, did you end up laughing as much as we all did? And did you think it had serious potential to make the comic?”
Mads: “I feel guilty it got picked! The other names were rating so much better than mine at the time, but I guess Alamact saw the potential. I suspect his line of thinking was longevity, you know? The other names were funnier in their own right, but he was able to take mine and twist it into so many different jokes later on.”
Darth Snow: “In your opinion, how much of Saber’s personality is derived from his name? Is it the man who makes the name, or is it the name that makes the man?”
Mads: “The man makes the name, especially in this case. Darth Saber is everything you don’t expect from a Sith Lord, that’s his magic and his main appeal. However, I can’t say that his name didn’t also define the man himself in some way. It reminds me of that Johnny Cash song, “A Boy Named Sue”. Saber’s own name has caused him so much suffering in life, but he has also grown so much because of it. When he finally confronts his master, and you just know he is blazing a path towards that moment, I think [he] is going to be proud of the man his former apprentice has become.”
Darth Snow: “That is a great parallel to draw, and I would love to see this comic’s equivalent of Sue confronting his dad! So, what does it feel like knowing you’re the man behind the name of one of the most loved characters in the comic? It’s gotta feel good, right?”
Mads: “It feels great! But… I also don’t feel anything special. A name is just a name and we all made him together. It just happens that the first layer of his persona was the one I suggested.”
Dork Lord of the Bith: “As a last comment, do you think there are any specific factors that have contributed to the Sith Lord’s popularity? Additionally, in what way do you see his personal conquests progress down the line as a side-effect of this phenomenon?”
Mads: “I think the reason Saber is so popular is because he is unlike any other Star Wars character we’ve seen yet. Sith who follow the light side aren’t a new concept, but the way it’s handled here is simply awesome and a lot more nuanced. I feel like he’s going to die alone, without love and without something to fight for, but damn does the guy just try and you can’t help but root for him to make it, even if he probably won’t.”
See you guys and gals next time on the review of Chapter 2: Taking Out the Trash and Chapter 3: Severe Punishments, where we return to Doop’s journey on Nar Shaddaa; get introduced to a street gang of Imperial Rattataki army deserters turned scavengers; as well as acquaint ourselves to our third protagonist, the lovely-yet-haughty Chiss scientist, Missy.