View Full Version : Justifying Alderaan

27 July 2002, 05:46 PM
My PCs have just found themselves dropped into the Rebellion era (when they went to the planet surface it was 1 year pre AotC, when they came off-world they were 26 years later. Don't ask). They've been picked up by the Imperials, who want to give them their side of the history of the past 25 years in an attempt to convince the PCs that the Empire is "good" and the rebellion are treasonous, murderous terrorists. And I'm having a bugger of a time figuring out how the Empire would "defend" the destruction of Alderaan.

I've got the standard "we discovered the royal familyof Alderaan was behind the Rebellion," "there was a large stockpile of weapons there," etc, but none of that seems like "justification" enough.

I realize that the Empire probably wouldn't even feel it needed to justify destroying Alderaan - it was a demonstration to incite fear. But if you were an Imperial Intelligence officer trying to bluff some Rip van Winkle types into joining the Empire, what would you say?


Colin Jaed
27 July 2002, 05:55 PM
Hmm, perhaps take a page out of Shadows of the Empire. In the story a section of the Falleen homeworld was vaporized/sterilized by Vader when some kind of bio-agent or contagen was accidentally released. Maybe "an incurable plague popped up on Alderaan, and in order to contain it and prevent it from spreading throughout the Galaxy, the Imperial Navy had to sterilize (Base Delta Zero) the planet.":( Through the sacrifice of the Alderaanians (sp ?), and the quick, efficient and effective action of the Navy, the Galaxy was saved.:)

Just an idea.

27 July 2002, 07:14 PM
The problem is that the players know better out of character, and that sorta thing tends to be hard to get through. I can understand if one or two of your players are good RPers and can get passed that, but I am willing to bet some will still be hesitant, so you would have to make it a doozy.

It would ahve to be something the galaxy knows at large. The plague idea by Colin isn't bad, however by now I am sure the Empire has exhausted it and everyone knows there wouldn't have been weapons research on Alderaan (the empire would have a very hard time convincing the galaxy otherwise.) weapon stockpile is semi believable, research not so much, especially chemical weapons nor would it justify the use of the deathstar when anti-biotics or a quarantine (sp?) would work just as well. I just realised that this could become a major conversation topic. oops.

I think a good bet would be to sit and think about how the empire would have phrased those standard excuses. Or go the other way, that the deathstar was an asteroid reclamation project that was captured by the rebel alliance and used to destory one of the Empires best supporters who where well known for their peace loving nature. heh, sorry, sudden flash of one of the excuses I read in one of the books. but I think it might work. Since these characters don't seem to have had any contact with anyone else but the Empire, they might believe it, especially since they didn't see the rise of the Empire and the fall of the Jedi.

28 July 2002, 10:05 PM
The Death Star's purpose was, supposedly, to break away the crusts of dead planets so their metal core could be accessed and process for materials. The Empire could say that's what the Death Star had been made for, but Rebel terrorists infiltrated the station, posing as Imperials. While in orbit around Alderaan, making a routine stop to trade goods and give troops some well-earned shore leave, the Rebel terrorists took over the firing controls and destroyed Alderaan, attempting to frame the Empire for a heinous crime.

That would be the story I'd give, if I were with Imperial spin control.

29 July 2002, 05:38 AM
I seem to recall the "official" line the Imperials used was that Alderaan was stockpiling weapons (including weapons of mass destruction) for the Rebellion, when there was an "accident" which detonated the stockpile. Not that the story was necessarily believed by many.

In one of the X-wing books, the Alderaanian weapons ship (or its escorts) is/was recovered. That combined with the fact that the Alderaanian disarmament seems to have been "recent" could be used to convince the sleepyheads that the Empire was innocent in the destruction.

Personally I don't think there would be many justifications that one could use for justifiably destroying a planet. The Imps would be better to shift the blame elsewhere.

Jim Williams
29 July 2002, 05:45 AM
Go with the rebel highjacking in an attempt to pin a heinous crime on the Empire.

Or it was a Rebel Death Star courageously destroyed by the Empire...Lord Vader personally led the attack from a small Imperial outpost on Yavin-IV. Scratch that...a vital, secret military research facility on Yavin IV.

Or, to borrow the plague idea, it was a Rebel-designed plague researched on the loyal planet of Alderaan tragically unbeknownst to the citizens of Alderaan. Sadly, when the foolish rebels allowed the plague to escape their shoddy facility, it was so virulent the Empire had no choice <sniff>but to exterminate the planet.

You could always twist your campaign and make the Empire the good guys. My, that would blow your PCs perception of reality right out of the water.

In the end, the Empire had to have some lame excuse...the Death Star's intended purpose was to generate fear of its use. Once it was used, and then destroyed, it failed in its purpose and the Empire took a hard defeat. Tack on the destruction of the planet Alderaan, and they would have to do something to keep the Empire together.

Although I'm sure an off-camera result of Alderaan's destruction was an increase in the support of the Rebellion once the truth leaked out.

29 July 2002, 06:37 AM
i like Jim Williams comments-

however, i'd go further to mess with your players. the players know the truth, but the characters wouldn't. Have one of the imperial techies who would be running tests on these "temporal survivors" suggest that they could have shifted dimensions as well, similar to what happens in hyperspace. Only you the GM know what really happened- that would take away a lot of the 'real world' knowledge of the players, or at least give them a big anvil of doubt falling from the sky.

Steven Snyder
29 July 2002, 01:32 PM
Think back to 9/11 days...

Think back to that time when it seemed perfecly reasonable to nuke Afghanistan into oblivion.

Portray the rebels as terrorists who kill civilians and then use populations as a shield. It wasn't an easy choice to destroy Alderaan, Tarkin never quite recovered from that operation and some would say committed suicide days later by allowing the rebels to destroy the Death Star with him aboard.

If you really want to demonize the rebels, show the players the darker side of the rebellion. Such as rebels blowing up restuarants that are frequented by imperial officers, poisioning food stocks and spreading around word that the imperials are 'starving the population' on purpose, killing the families of men and women who join the imperial forces as an example...

The rebels are not nice people when you think about it... Ben Kenobi lied through his teeth to get Luke to join him against his father. What would have happened if Ben told Luke that Darth Vader was his father in the beginning?

Jim Williams
29 July 2002, 01:55 PM
I guess we would have to find sources as to just how dark this Rebellion was. While I'm sure there were elements that fought the Empire with equal savagery, I never took it to mean that the Rebellion resorted to anything nasty. I've always seen them as the true good guys...or considering we're talking the Rebellion, I should say "the good beings".

I personally also wouldn't buy into any plausible deniability on the part of Mon Mothma. I imagined her a "no-nonsense, keep information coming to me and above the table" type of person.

To me the Rebellion (to steal Jeff Daniel's lines from Gettysburg) truly was an army formed to "set men/beings free."

The darkest thing my PCs ever saw the Rebellion do was a General who micromanaged a resistance on a backwater planet, funneled them supplies and false hope, and convinced them to fight the Empire to the last. They stopped him, of course, and he got into lots of trouble.

But hey! have those rebel scum put on their grey hats!


Master Dao Rin
29 July 2002, 06:10 PM
You've got a perfect line right from AotC: the Rebellion are the Separtists, the bad guys, cohorts of the Trade Federation, the Techno Union, and all the other greedy fat cats.

The Empire IS the Republic, and all those pesky rebels are separtists trying to break up the union! 8o

30 July 2002, 08:31 AM
Player: Really? They blow up space stations, with women and children on board? They murder hard working officers of the government? They use hatred to educate the young, to brainwash them to become suicide bombers and keep their members cloistered from the News Media?

Lt. Commander Mikhail: Yup. They do all that. The rebels are terrorists and seperatists, trying to take power through terror. Our benevolent and wearied Chancellor Palpatine has offered concession after concession and all they do is take. You can't give them an inch. The only thing they understand is force.

Player: I see what you mean Officer Mikhail. Say, how do I join up with the Empire? I want to protect the good people of this galaxy from terror, fear and aggression. These terrorists need to be snuffed out so Justice can reign in the galaxy!

Lt. Commander Mikhail: Ah, here is a brochure. [Hands over "So you want to join the Imperial Military?"]


The Admiral
30 July 2002, 09:25 AM
The Imperial line on the destruction of Alderaan is that Viceroy Bail Organa was stockpiling weapons, and destroying the planet was the only solution to avoid a greater evil as the Alliance unleashed it's terrorist war.

Worth bearing in mind that the Empire never intended to keep the Death Star a secret, nor it's capabilities. How can your rule through fear of something who's existence is unknown?

As far as the Empire is concerned, the Death Star was a military battle station that was used as a last resort against terrorist factions with weapons of mass destruction.

It's loss, and the loss of Tarkin are attributed to seditious elements of that same terrorist faction.

The cover story for it's creation was as a mining tool, but that cover was only for the creation.

How do you sell it? Most Imperials would not know the 'real' reason for the destruction of Alderaan, they'd be subject to the exact same propoganda as the rest of the Galaxy. Imperial forces would quite genuinely believe that Organa was about to unleash something truly horrible, and they were quite justified in taking that admittedly extreme action they did.

My main question would be why in the Force's name would Imperial troops be bothering? You've got a few people who have mysteriously popped up from the past, who haven't got a clue as to what's transpired in the last twenty five years, who probably haven't heard about the destruction of Alderaan anyway. What possible motivation would Imperial troops have to just indoctrinate some random confused people?

"Sarge, this wanna know if the clone wars have started yet,,,"
"Do they indeed? Well, obviously they're insane, why don't you just run 'em down to room 7b and give 'em a dose of conditioning, Brian. Soon sort 'em out."

31 July 2002, 07:00 AM
Originally posted by The Admiral
My main question would be why in the Force's name would Imperial troops be bothering? You've got a few people who have mysteriously popped up from the past, who haven't got a clue as to what's transpired in the last twenty five years, who probably haven't heard about the destruction of Alderaan anyway.
When they looked at a map of the current galactic space, one of them noticed the absence of Alderaan. Probably a bad move on my part as a GM, but there you have it.

What possible motivation would Imperial troops have to just indoctrinate some random confused people?
When the group went missing 25 years ago, they were on a mission from Chancellor Palpatine, looking for something (what they found moved them 25 years ahead). The Imperials were still looking for this thing. If the characters have info on something the Emperor has been looking for for 25 years, they are valuable. Their back-story has been confirmed, so they know these guys aren't just insane when they say "what Empire? We serve the Republic!" (although there was the customary mistaking them for Rebel scum at first). And the local Imperial Intel officer prefers to win people over rather than use torture. At first at least.


The Admiral
31 July 2002, 07:37 AM
Right, well, they shouldn't have any problem then. Alderaan was a terrorist nest. Had to go. Palpatine's kept the galaxy safe for over 35 years, he's great. Say, why don't we all take this doohickey back to Coruscant? I've got this fab ship,,,

31 July 2002, 09:54 AM
If they truely have no clue, you could just chalk it up to a comet or the sun going supernova. Otherwise, I would think that Imperial propaganda would try to hide the fact that Alderaan was destroyed for as long as possible, possibly by modifying the universal hyperspace routes to no longer be able to go to Alderaan due to some sudden anomaly. Anyone who tries to go to Alderaan using the old routes is never heard from again (i.e. blown to smithereens by a strong Imperial contingent at Alderaan). When hiding no longer works (or when the computers finally calculate new routes that bypass the anomaly), you can always go to the comet impact (or some other natural disaster) that happened while the anomaly was causing problems.

The Admiral
31 July 2002, 10:58 AM
That might work if Alderaan were a backwater hick world no one had ever heard of, but Alderaan is right at the centre of the galaxy and a major league Core World.

As an analogy;

The US Government destroy San Fransisco, then publish thousands of maps indicating that the area is a barren land that was never deemed suitable for habitation because of the earthquakes. They set up Apache helicopters to total anything heading down a freeway to 'Frisco, F-16s intercept any aircraft headed that way whilst 688 subs sink any shipping. Simultaeneously, DEA agents raid all media companies, and remove any recording featuring San Francisco. NSA create a very specific worm virus that wipes out any website, or information stored on a PC which references San Fransisco. FBI remove printed media from every school, library, and government building.

Even with all that, how the heck are you suppossed to make that work? I mean, the number of people who know the city's name if nothing else has got to be at least a billion.

Factor all that up to Star Wars scale, and I just don't see it working.

Besides, if they really want the characters to work for the 'Imperial Republic' they'd have to bank on the 'real' reason turning up (That Alderaan was stockpiling weapons) and wouldn't really want to risk engendering distrust for no real gain.

1 August 2002, 11:39 PM
Alderaan, a staunchly Imperial-world, was destroyed by Rebel terrorists to make a statement to the galaxy. That statement was one of hatred and evil, for they mean to murder the benevolent Palpatine, and take control of the galaxy, ruthlessly subjugating all races as servants and slaves. Alderaan would not join their cause, they wanted to remain with the Empire, siding with peace and justice. Frustrated, the Rebel terrorists captured an Imperial mining station, renamed it to the Death Star to strike fear into the hearts of those that would oppose them. As the station neared Alderaan, they gave an ultimatum; serve the Rebellion, or die. Alderaan bravely chose to stand their moral ground, and they were destroyed.

Outraged by this crime, Palpatine immediately organized the finest pilots in the Empire into a single fighting unit, led by the courageous Darth Vader. They found the "Death Star" in orbit around Yavin, the site of an Imperial survey and exploration team. The Imperial ship in orbit had already been destroyed, and it was obvious the Death Star was preparing to destroy Yavin IV, including all the precious wildlife on it, not to mention the scientists and explorers down on the surface, doing nothing more than mapping the world and doing harmless geographical surveys. Acting quickly, Vader and his team exploited the station's only weakness, thus destryong the Death Star, avenging Alderaan, and saving the lives in the Yavin system.

Sadly, the great Imperial commander, a very kind and generous man, Moff Tarkin, had been a captive onboard the Death Star. Tortured and abused, starved and dehydrated, he was nearing death. Bravely, he would not allow himself or his will to be broken, and he died when the Death Star blew up, but he died a hero to the Empire.

Palpatine declared that the day Alderaan died to be a galaxy-wide day of mourning, to be remembered and honored for all time. Tarkin had a newly colonized planet named for him, and he would be proud of the colonists, who are doing quite well. Vader, for his troubles, was promptly made Palpatine's second in command, helping him take care of the galaxy.

Palpatine, being the wonderful man he is, still wishes to forgive the Rebels, and accept them back into the Empire. But the Rebels are determined that they will win or die, they will not repent. They seek nothing less than total domination of the galaxy, and Palpatine's head on a silver platter.

5 August 2002, 01:27 PM
The last time I looked on a map for San Fransisco, it was in the same place it was relative to Phoenix as it is now (give or take a bit due to seismic shift). However, Alpha Centauri is not in the same place. I assume that the Empire controls most of the supercomputers in the galaxy that compute hyperspace routes, and I know that the Empire controls Holonet, the most effective means of distributing the current hyperspace routes to the ships of the galaxy. These factors and the amazingly vast size of space give the Empire a pretty good amount of control over the information needed to get to Alderaan. There are certain to be some cases where ships arrive by using non-Empire controlled supercomputers, but very few would be able to evade the blockade that the Empire already set up at Alderaan (as we have seen even the Falcon fall to it for a time). And in a galaxy so vast, this is not likely to be the first time a planet has been completely obliterated. That, combined with the fact that no one could imagine a weapon so powerful, would keep the great majority of people content.

The Admiral
5 August 2002, 02:17 PM
The last time I looked on a map for San Fransisco, it was in the same place it was relative to Phoenix as it is now (give or take a bit due to seismic shift). However, Alpha Centauri is not in the same place.
Actually, proportionally, San Fransisco moves a lot more relative to Phoenix than Alpha Centauri does to the Earth. (Even factoring in the Earth's orbit of the sun) San Fransisco will have moved 1% of it's current distance from Phoenix in approximately 1.5 million years. In the same amount of time, Alpha Centauri's relative position will have changed by less than .7 percent.
But perhaps a moot point.

I assume that the Empire controls most of the supercomputers in the galaxy that compute hyperspace routes, and I know that the Empire controls Holonet, the most effective means of distributing the current hyperspace routes to the ships of the galaxy.
Hyperspace travel routes are maintained by BoSS, which is a completely autonomous and independant entity from the Empire. Also, the Empire shut down 99% the HoloNet.

These factors and the amazingly vast size of space give the Empire a pretty good amount of control over the information needed to get to Alderaan.
I disagree. Han Solo didn't need any Imperial help getting to Alderaan. I've read no evidence in either Canon or Offical, sources to indicate that the Empire had any control whatsoever over who could fly where.
When ever they wanted to stop people going to a planet they invariably blockaded it with Naval assets.

Either way, my point i that trying to hide a capital planet from the masses under any circumstances simply couldn't work.

That, combined with the fact that no one could imagine a weapon so powerful, would keep the great majority of people content.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, why do people have this bizarre notion that the Empire kept the destruction of Alderaan by the Death Star a secret?

TARKIN: The regional governors now have direct control over territories. Fear will keep the local systems in line. Fear of this battle station.

TARKIN: Princess Leia, before your execution I would like you to be my guest at a ceremony that will make this battle station operational. No star system will dare oppose the Emperor now.
LEIA: The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.
TARKIN: Not after we demonstrate the power of this station. In a way, you have determined the choice of the planet that'll be destroyed first. Since you are reluctant to provide us with the location of the Rebel base, I have chosen to test this station's destructive power...on your home planet of Alderaan.
LEIA: No! Alderaan is peaceful. We have no weapons. You can't possibly...
TARKIN: You would prefer another target? A military target? Then name the system! I grow tired of asking this. So it'll be the last time. Where is the Rebel base?
LEIA: Dantooine. They're on Dantooine.
TARKIN: There. You see Lord Vader, she can be reasonable. Continue with the operation. You may fire when ready.
LEIA: What?
TARKIN: You're far too trusting. Dantooine is too remote to make an effective demonstration. But don't worry. We will deal with your Rebel friends soon enough.

Destroying Alderaan is quite deliberately a demonstration of the Death Star's ability to destroy a planet in order to cow other systems to Imperial rule. How are they suppossed to do that if they hush it up?

"Fear the wrath of the Empire!"
"Fear what exactly?"
"Oh, if only you knew! Honestly, it's REALLY terrifying! I wish I could tell you but I'm under orders, but seriously, FEAR the EMPIRE!"

I say again, the Death Star was publicly a battle station, the destruction of Alderaan by it was public knowledge, it was never intended to be otherwise. In fact, the entire Death Star project ONLY works on it's being public knowledge. The only variable factor here is what the Empire choose to tell the rest of the galaxy vis a vis the reason it fired on Alderaan, and that's quite simple;
"They're terrorists, rebelling against the Empire, so we shot them. Blew their planet up. You'd better not consider rebelling or we'll come and blow your planet up too."

Jim Williams
6 August 2002, 04:28 AM
You have to consider whether the Empire took responsibility for the destruction of Alderaan before the Death Star was destroyed. Tarkin and others might not have had time to arrange a press release or confirm an eye witness report on the destruction of Alderaan.

In your campaign, if that's how the Empire did it, that's fine. I certainly agree with you that the Empire is a political entity rarely seen in our history, and with that much power, they would not give a darn about public sentiments. Except that they are afraid to rebel.

I assume they didn't get around to the bells of whistles of announcing that they destroyed Alderaan. I assume Tarkin wants to double whammy the galaxy---Alderaan and the Rebel Command.

If the Empire took responsibility for Alderaan before it was destroyed, we're talking a propaganda nightmare.

Rebellious ex-senator: We must join the Alliance to protest the outrages of the Empire!

Regional governor: Are you mad? We'll destroy you!

Rebellious ex-senator: With what exactly? the Dead Star?