Super Powered Characters: The Real Apocalypse

March 8, 2012 at 9:14 am | Posted in Opinion, Star Wars: The Old Republic | 5 Comments

Star Wars is home to many different types of characters. From the films to the Expanded Universe, we have seen a plethora of humans and aliens, Force users and non-Force sensitives, good guys and bad guys. Lately a new type of character has become apparent: the superhuman. The superhuman doesn’t actually have to be human, and they can be good or bad. The defining characteristic is that they have powers beyond anything we have seen before in the EU. When looking at this new class of character, one example jumps out above all the rest.

*** Note: The Old Republic: Revan spoilers follow ***

Lord Vitiate, aka Tenebrae, was born in 5,113 BBY on his homeworld of Nathema. As of the time period of The Old Republic game, this makes him around 1,472 years old. Keep in mind that he’s not a member of some long lived alien race. His normal lifespan should have been around 200 years tops. How did he accomplish this? Well, he accomplished this impressive little feat with a little help from the dark side.

Vitiate’s long life, however, is rather insignificant compared to the process he used to gain his immortality. Remember when Darth Vader said that the Death Star was insignificant to the power of the Force? Well Vitiate showed what it’s like to one up the Death Star. After the Great Hyperspace War, he tricked the remaining Sith Council and around a 100 Sith Lords to come to Nathema. There he enslaved them with the Force and used them in a ritual which killed every living thing on the planet. With all the animals, plants, and people dead, Vitiate absorbed their lifeforce and became immortal. Unlike the Death Star, he did not destroy the planet.

Now keeping tally here: Vitiate is more or less immortal, and can wipe out an entire planet of all life. He is also able to enslave full blow Sith Masters. Not only is he able to bend the will of a Sith Master, but he can bend the will of a hundred Sith Masters at the same time. This is a guy who enslaved his whole village around the age of six, killed his Sith Lord father at the age of 10, and in between slaughtered thousands in his rise to power. At age 13 he was made a Sith Lord and controlled the entire planet of his birth.

Let us think about that for a moment. Anakin Skywalker was 9 years old in The Phantom Menace. Imagine if he was already Darth Vader at this point and was so powerful he could kill other Sith Lords like Darth Maul and Dooku. Keep in mind that even Yoda had trouble with Dooku, and it took two Jedi to kill Darth Maul. Vitiate, on the other hand, was well on his way to ruling an entire planet while at the same age Anakin was still dreaming of winning a podrace.

Let us fast forward to the time of The Old Republic game. Vitiate is the ruler of the Sith Empire and plans to wipe out the entire galaxy. The entire galaxy. The Death Star can kill a planet. The suncrusher can kill an entire system. Vitiate, it seems, can wipe out the entire galaxy.

Nearly immortal and all powerful, Emperor Vitiate is without a doubt the most super powered character in all of Star Wars. So far he hasn’t even died. The argument here is that this makes Vitiate the perfect example of why such characters do not belong in Star Wars. To kill something so powerful, you would logically have to have an opponent of equal power. With two super men in the Galaxy Far, Far Away, the questions then become: where does it stop? How do you top the last guy? Do we really want to see Force users who are so powerful they can wipe out the entire galaxy and can live forever?

There is no doubt that Star Wars is escapist fiction. Whether it’s books or video games, the fans are seeking an adventure that takes them away from their mundane lives. Yet there is an aspect of canon to Star Wars that tries to bind video games and books. It may be fun to crash Star Destroyers into planets using the Force in a video game, but in novels such a thing is a bit farfetched. Typically readers expect the novels to be more realistic than the video games. Vitiate, however, seems to be completely beyond realism. Taking Star Wars characters to this extreme is very dangerous. It opens up the doors to super powered characters capable of unbelievable feats. Surely Luke Skywalker, the most powerful Jedi in the galaxy during his time, can accomplish feats equal to Vitiate. After all, Luke is the offspring of the Chosen One. If Vitiate can wipe out all life in the galaxy, then Luke could save all life in the galaxy.

The problem with super powered characters is simple: the next time Luke fights a really tough enemy, do you want him to carry on as usual, or instantly squash them with his limitless Force powers? By staying away from these overpowered characters, readers can continue to enjoy a more believable story where the good guys still have to struggle against villains and vice versa. If the villains become so powerful that Jedi demigods are needed to slay them, what will happen to the Han Solo’s and Wedge Antilles’ of the GFFA?

I don’t think I’m alone when I say the GFFA will be a far lesser place without them.

By Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.
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5 Comments »

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  1. Well, Palpatine is more powerful than Vitiate. Also, Vitiate’s power could be like a 12 year old girl going through puberty early, developing while her friends are still little girls. They however, eveantually catch up.

  2. [...] blogside. Roqoo Depot’s Skuldren speaks out against super-powered characters in video games and the EU. In my book, that’s a very big reason why certain streams should no be crossing… [...]

  3. Ugh, it seems that Star Wars has devolved into Dragon Ball Z.

    I have to admit I am biased against this character in particular because he represents. He is in my opinion the current culmination of Star Wars authors trying to one up each other by creating the real”greatest threat the galaxy has ever known”. In my opinion they do this because their protagonist is designed to be an author self insert. The authors seek to prove that the protagonist (the self insert character ) , is the greatest Jedi that the galaxy has ever seen . In order to do so they have to create the most overpowered sith possible for their hero to overcome.

    Vitiate is basically a regurgitated Darth Nihilus but with out the weaknesses. Up until this point Darth Nihilus was basically the sith with the most overpowered feat in the Star wars mythos as he was the first sith we know of to use the darkside to drain all life from an entire planet in order to satisfy his hunger. Vitate does the same thing, but unlike Nihilus, he does it without the harmful side effects and gains immortality in the process .

    He is established as being all powerful, even as a small child smiting his first full flugged Sith Lords with a thought at the tender age of ten and later on is able to grant immortality to other sith as well . He is able to do this all with no formal instruction whatsoever. This doesn’t make any sense in the context of the mythos. Anakin Skywalker who canonically had the potential to become the strongest force user ever can do nothing of the sort. He barely won a podrace for crying out loud. I have a feeling that had Vitiate been in the same situation he would have probably thrown all of the competition into space and teleported himself to the finish line. Such characters do not make for an interesting story because they are simply all powerful and never have to struggle. Struggle is what produces substance and depth in a character as we watch them grow accordingly. Some one like Darth Bane would have made an excellent villain character for this game instead. He was certainly born strong in the force, but even though his potential exceeded that of his peers he still had to cultivate it through training and cunning before he became able to overcome even the weakest of the trained sith of his era.

    Vitate breaks the mythos by doing the same thing that Darth Sidious does and overshadowing him greatly in the process. The old republic makes everything in the movies irrelevant in the grand scheme of things by comparison. He’s got the same title of Sith emperor, a similar outfit, the little red guards with the staffs, and even his own pet uninspired Darth Vader / Malak clone (I’m looking at you Darth Malgus) .

    They both share a penchant for spamming force lightning, but vitiate does it with the power to destroy legions while sidious can barely kill an already injured Darth Vader (going by movie portrayal alone). He could mind control sith lords. If Sidious could do this I am sure the Jedi council would have become the Sith council by the end of Episode 3.

    Too often the authors go so far out of their way establish how strong and badass their characters are that they forget to give them the most vital element of any character, a personality. Vitiate and Nihilus are great examples of this, our sole source of information about them comes from supporting, characters who tell us how great they are despite the fact that we rarely see them do anything noteworthy. When you finally confront Nihilus it is supremely underwhelming, and only time will tell if the same will be true of Vitiate. However they both come across as being extremely 1 dimensional. To me Vitate appears to be an over powered child having a tantrum who is evil for the sake of being evil and must wipe out the Jedi for some reason that is never well explained.

    Vitiate is not the first overpowered character in Star Wars and likely will not be the last, (we haven’t yet met the self insert jedi who kills him afterall) but this is where the line needs to be drawn before these narratives deteriorate even further. If it doesn’t then eventually someone will assert that their character was really the chosen one instead of Anakin and use this as a starting point to launch the next massive installment in the Star Wars saga intentionally crafted to overshadow the rest.
    To address the article the answer is no I do not want more characters like Vitiate. In fact I think he along with Nihilus, Starkiller, and several others are in serious need of a Retcon.

  4. One thing to keep in mind with Vitiate is that he was created by the TOR team and inherited by Drew. If you check out our interview with Drew Karpyshyn at CVI, you can hear his thoughts on Vitiate and over powered characters in Star Wars.

  5. I that case I suppose I shall have to take a look, thanks for the compelling article.


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