The hosts for this episode are GM Chris and GM Phil. This transcript starts at 51:01 in episode 151.
Chris: For those not familiar with the Jedi Service Corps, then this and ... several other episodes are going to be just for you. We are going to talk about the Service Corps in a four-part episode series, each one devoted to one of the unique branches of the corps and how you can take a Saga Edition character down one of these specialized paths. We think you'll find that this can open up a whole new avenue of character design and creation for your PCs [player characters]--one that, frankly, is really rarely considered--and it can provide one of the most meaningful roleplaying experiences in the game. Tonight, we're going to give you an overview of the corps itself and then devote our discussion to the first and largest of its branches: the Agricultural Corps. So grab your trowel and your moisture vaporator and walk to the fields with us as we grow up and into the Agri-Corps.
...Before we begin, we need to set the stage.... Just what is the Jedi Service Corps? ...
Phil: Well, they were created during the era of the Old Republic, and the Service Corps was a branch of the Jedi Order. It was created to allow members of the order to serve the order and the galaxy in an alternative way, compared to the more traditional capacity of the Jedi knight, using the Force in a Light Side-centered capacity....
Chris: The corps itself had four branches, yeah?
Phil: Yes. It had what we're going to be talking about today, the Agricultural Corps, members who were devoted to the production of healthy crops. There was also the Medical Corps, whose members devoted themselves to the arts of healing. There's also the Education Corps, which was filled with scholars devoted to the preservation of lore and the instruction of others, and another one, the Exploration Corps, whose members dedicated themselves to the exploration of the far-flung reaches of the galaxy....
Chris: Now, what I really like about the flavor of the corps ... is all about how one goes to join the corps to begin with, and the reason why. As far as joining the Service Corps, membership in the Jedi Service Corps was, first and foremost, entirely voluntary, but for some members of the Jedi Order, it was really the only alternative to leaving the order. Talking about the members of the Service Corps, the first thing we have to talk about--and this is wonderful roleplay fodder--is the stigma of the washout. The vast majority of Service Corps members were Jedi initiates (which is the proper term for younglings) who reached adolescence--you know, 11, 12, 13--and were unable to become padawans, as no Jedi knight or master would take them as an apprentice. Now, Phil, that could be for several reasons.
Phil: Right. Usually it was because the individual did not pass some of the lower trials, like the initiate trials, either due to an inability to embrace the Jedi code or a weaker-than-expected connection to the force.
Chris: Exactly. And don't get me wrong; when we say "failed to embrace the Jedi code," that doesn't mean they're Dark-Side-leaning, evil people. That means that the Jedi Code demands some very strict things of its members. No attachments. You need to forsake deep friendships and love to a very strong degree, and somebody who has a serious problem doing that--you know, the council could very well say, "You've memorized the code. Congratulations. But we don't feel you're living it."
Phil: Maybe they've got a short temper.
Chris: Yeah, it could be something as simple as that. There's a lot of reasons. The guy could be really annoying, and there's no master or knight that [will say] "Yeah, I'm going to take that on for the next six years. I want to deal with that every day."
There's numerous reasons, another common reason being that their connection to the Force just flat-out wasn't strong enough. Now, think about this. If you're a youngling and you've been raised in the order, your earliest memory is in a Jedi temple. The inability to become a true padawan basically now means that you've got two options. You can leave the order, which, for such a person that's lived their entire life in a Jedi temple, that's a pretty frightening thought: "Where do I go? What do I do?" You can either leave the order, and the Jedi would allow you, or you could go and become a part of the Service Corps.
Phil: Sadly, though, most of the galaxy and other Jedi sort of consider the Service Corps members "washouts" of the order, despite the fact that many were skilled in the Force.
Chris: That's very true, and it's an interesting thing to play up. They talk about it in the EU a lot, where it's like, "Oh, Service Corps--you're a washout." It's sort of a stigma they had to live with and learn to live with. They're still Jedi. They're just not Jedi knights. But the thing is, though, this touches on a great point: to join the Service Corps and to remain a part of it requires a commitment to a very dedicated path, because you have to realize, although the majority of corps members were "washouts," for lack of a better term, many full-fledged, trial-tested Jedi knights and masters chose to serve with the corps. They just found that their unique talents and abilities were much better suited to that role. You could have a remarkable healer that is powerful enough and is disciplined enough and embraces the philosophy of the order enough to become a full-fledged Jedi knight, but she says, "That's not where my strength is. I'm a healer, and I could better serve the order in the Medical Corps."
Phil: Right. Someone who is absolutely fascinated by biology, botany, goes into the Agricultural Corps, because that's where his interests lie.
Chris: "I'm a bookworm. My best time ever in the temple was spent in those tomes, in those archives, studying and reading. I hate talking to people. I just want a good book." Well, or Education Corps.
Phil: "I want to go and explore the galaxy. I want to be out there on the Outer Rim, finding new worlds, hitting the jump drive and not knowing where I'm going to end up."
Chris: "I'm a stick junkie. I've gotta be behind a cockpit at all times." The Exploration Corps is there. It's not just washouts--although it often is.
Now let's talk about the end of the Service Corps, because this is important, especially when we start (depending on the era you're playing in) mustering your PC's background.
Phil: Well, as was mentioned, despite its long history, the newly appointed Emperor Palpatine dissolved the Service Corps, along with the rest of the Jedi, in year 19 before the Battle of Yavin. Now, what they did not know--"they" being the galaxy at large--is that the Emperor actually secreted most of the Service Corps members to the secretive world of Byss in the deep core. He did this to break them and turn them into Dark Side acolytes. Unfortunately, he had a great deal of success.
Chris: Yeah, he really did. If you get into the EU, the Emperor has all these Emperor's Hands that start popping up, and all these Dark Side acolytes, and these specialty guards, and it's like, "Where the hell did he get these people from?" Most of them were Service Corps members.
From an EU perspective, the Dark Side is the quick and easy route to power, so just think about this for a second. This is not too hard to conceptualize: "I am a Jedi. I'm a true Jedi. I've been raised order all my life, but for whatever reason, I couldn't become a Jedi knight. I couldn't even become a padawan. My connection to the Force just wasn't strong enough. I struggled to do good deeds and help the galaxy and follow my teachings, but even my own peers regarded me as a washout." That's got to harbor some kind of deep-seated resentment, and Palps was able to turn that into a little bit of anger and then say, "Oh, you're not very strong in the Force? Well, let me show you this! You call upon the Dark Side and now you're strong in the Force, because that's what it does."
Phil: And that's what he did.
Chris: And that's what he did!
Phil: You also have to figure that, okay, capturing and trying to turn a fully-trained, combat-ready Jedi knight? Difficult. Better just kill the guy. Some dude who's really good with plants? No lightsaber? Capturable, easily. So that's what it is.
Chris: I find it in stark contrast, though--one of the problems I have with the Service Corps and how it ended, with Palps doing that, is--everything we've described makes perfect sense to me. But we've talked about how most Service Corps members have this pretty hardcore dedicated path. I find those two to be at odds somewhat.
Phil: How so?
Chris: Well--okay, staying a member of the Service Corps, as we said earlier, was a choice for most of these people, right? It was a true calling that many of them felt. Swinging your saber is great and all, but using your gifts to feed starving people and heal the sick with a touch? That is a calling that can create deep emotional bonding in what you do, and I always found it difficult juxtaposing that attitude that I think many Service Corps members most likely had with the resentment and the fear that Palpatine used to turn them to the Dark Side.
Phil: Well, here you can just look at a series of numbers. I mean, yes, the majority of the Service Corps probably had that attitude that you were just talking about. But there were a fair percentage of them that pretty much saw the corps as their only means to stay in the Jedi Order and stay with the life that they at least grew up with. If there were ten thousand Jedi in the galaxy, I don't think it's too unreasonable to think that there were probably an equal number of members in the Service Corps, and of those, call it ten thousand, maybe a hundred of them were resentful and were able to be turned like that.
Phil: So, yeah, absolutely, if you were in the corps, this is the mentality that you've got. Because not everyone has the proper mentality for combat either. Not everyone can get over their fear of combat and fear of dying in combat, and that would lead to the Dark Side. But they're strong in the Force, so they want to go and use their abilities, use their powers, and help the galaxy at large, so they go into the Service Corps. And then there are some Jedi who, that's their only choice, for whatever reason. Maybe they're resentful to it, but they don't want to leave--and those are the ones that Palpatine was able to corrupt.
Chris: So what we're seeing is a real interesting conclave of personality types, and what this is, ultimately, is character fodder. Bottom line. But we'll come to that. So let's move on. Now that we've had this overall look at the corps itself ... let's talk about the Agricultural Corps, yeah?
This transcription ends at 1:04:42. To be continued!