Using Darth Vader

Hey, all,

I’m wondering wheter anyone have attempted to use Darth Vader as a plot device and scaring-the-bejeezus-out-of-the-players-device in their games? If so, how did you pull that off? I’m tempted to have Vader show up in my campaign, looking for the “Jedi” outlaw (i.e. one of the PCs) rumored to be causing trouble in the Kathol Sector, but I’m a bit worried. First of all, Vader will probably destroy the PC or capture him, which will throw all kinds of wrenches into the plot; how would you avoid these two scenarios? Secondly, once Vader has arrived to check out the Forcy PC and NOT destroyed/captured him, why would he then later just leave the sector and forget all about the “Jedi”? I see huge potential in using Vader, but at the same time, once he enter the picture he quickly dominates the story and I can’t quite figure out a good reason for him to exit the story.

Any ideas for pulling this off?

(We’re somewhere in the first half of 1ABY)

1 Like

I should probably also mention that we’re playing Age of the Empire and we’ve got one wannabe Jedi in the party (Outlaw Tech + Force Sensitive Emergant, and Sentiel/Sentry).

I very much shy away from using a character like Vader directly.
The Seyugi in my Party was separated from his master and over the course of the campaign has been getting visions of his master being turned into an inquisitor by vader.
That was a nice touch but using Vader directly, while probably fun will likely result in all kinds of problems and or logic / plotholes.

I dont know if there are way’s to pull something like using vader directly work, but I would rather avoid it.
The problem with vader as an adversary is, he is relentless in his pursuit of jedi / force sensitives and he is incredibly powerful in relation to most pc’s.

Have your pc’s encountered the Inquisitorius yet?
Maybe you could build up a dangerous inquisitor and use them for this kind of narrative?
Inquisitors are a bit easier to handle since they are not as big of a shot but still incredibly dangerous.

All in all, with the Inquisitorius I’m still careful, my pc’s will have their first encounter with purge troopers soon since they have been a little bit careless with force use in a battle against imperials.
How they handle that encounter will then dictate when and how soon they will encounter some of the Inquisitor’s lackeys (Force Assassin comes to mind).

For better or worse, that’s my opinion.
Using characters like vader indirectly can be fun though, my Party has heard rumours of the Emperor’s enforcer and recently seen holo footage of him at a battle which they nearly took part in which prompted them to look for things to do on the other side of the galaxy for now (not quite the intended outcome, but it was a fun surprise and really grounded the force sensitives in my group back in reality).

On a sidenote: I am considering using Vader in a rebellion oneshot though ^^
(But since it’s a oneshot, the repercussions arent as profound).

1 Like

My problem here is the timeline. We’re in about 1.5 ABY, and there are no Inquisitors anymore. They all disappeared sometime before the Battle of Yavin, so I can’t use them. (Although, Inquisitors DO figure in the backstory of my campaign).

Had there been Inquisitors around in the 1 ABY, I’d have a lot less problem with using Vader as he could simply swoop in, barely fail to catch the Forcey PC, and then send an Inquisitor to pick up the pieces. (Just like the plot in SW:Rebels season 2). The problem now is that there ain’t no Inquisitors left, so once Vader gets involved one has to figure out another reason for the Dark Lord to eventually drop the case and storm off to handle something more important. (I was toying with having the “Son of Skywalker” be the plot point that draws Vader away, but in 1 ABY that’s a bit tricky, and… convaying it to the players even trickier still)

Also, I don’t particularly need reasons to NOT use Vader as I can figure out those myself. What I’m looking for are learning about people’s sucessful use of Vader and/or hear suggestions about how to pull it off in my game. If it can’t be done, that’s all right, but if someone has any ideas… [presses PLAY on the Imperial March]

It might also be useful to mention that I’m somewhat inspired by video games here, like SWJ:FO, where characters like Vader can show up for dramatic story beats and thematic reasons, and I would like to explore ways to do something like that in an RPG, too. The way I see it, Darth Vader, like anything else in Star Wars, are mighty storytelling tools you can use to tell powerful tales, and I’m looking for help to make that work… if that makes any sense.

I of course do not know your campaign and your players.
But why not have Inquisitors still?
(Canon reasons really do not make much sense to begin with).
But that’s just me ;)

In regards to using Vader, I would use him more focused on “something” not “someone” if that makes sense.
Maybe the pc’s gain possession of something that Vader needs to retrieve or wants.
If he then discovers that one of the pc’s is Force Sensitive maybe they are either too weak (in relation to him) to be of long term interest or maybe he see’s potential in them to use them as a tool in a ploy or some such (with or without their knowledge / consent).

Or maybe the encounter isn’t so much about the players vs. vader and more like running into him while trying to achieve X.
Then he would more likely just deal with them then and there and likely not care too much about them escaping bruised and battered.

Reasons for him being called away / letting the pc’s off the hook could be numerous, but some examples come to mind:

  • Simply bigger things at stake, like a major battle against the rebellion is in need of him. (You could pull alot from Legends here if you need inspiration since there’s alot going on)
  • Maybe Skywalker has been sighted en route to some important place? (after all vader is still out to get Luke at this point)
  • Again, maybe Vader see’s potential to leverage / manipulate the pc’s or their existence to his advantage, either for politics or power (if going by canon, Vader is in the process of getting his standing with the emperor and the military leadership back since being demoted and embarassed following the destruction of the death star);
  • Danger of being overwhelmed (probably not by the players but maybe a large regiment of rebels is on their way?) - True, this one is a bit hard to convey since Vader has been known to decimate whole platoons of rebels by himself… so I dont know ^^

I know these are pretty vague ideas, but maybe they can help.


Whole companies, with armor and air support. Then he goes and singlehandedly destroys their FOB. True story.

@Angelman, I agree with Fl1nt on this. There isn’t a good way to involve Vader in something like this without a whole host of problems for the campaign ongoing. Vader especially does not like failure, and so I believe he’d be unlikely to just let them go when they escape him.
However, you could do what Rebels did (to a certain extent), where he shows up, they barely escape with their lives, then he disappears for a time having accomplished his objective, only to reappear later and chase them off again.

However, this requires you to walk a tightrope, and if your players don’t do what you’re expecting/need them to, your whole campaign could go off the rails, or your canon could end up with a dead Darth Vader (never underestimate the players’ propensity to bring planetary-scale weapons to bear at unexpected times).

But I believe that if you use Vader, his objective should not be “kill them.” He has to have a strategic objective he can accomplish without the PCs’ demise. That allows you to allow them to escape to fight another day without leaving them scratching their heads. Then if they ever poke up their heads too much or start messing around with the wrong things, they hear some amplified breathing coming from a dark corridor…


You can have him chase your party, with them always one step ahead of him, without every really catching up to them, but with the threat of one little screw up changing that to a “Vader ignites his saber and engages the party in combat” scenario. They did this throughout the entire original trilogy.
Also, maybe Vader wants to capture them instead of just plain killing them, which gives them opportunities to escape his wrath, even if Vader does prove to be victorious.

1 Like

I ended up realizing there were additional problems with involving Vader as there existed other things in the plot that he should notice once he entered the picture, so… in the end… having Vader show up didn’t quite work for this campaign.

That said, I did find a way to use Darth Vader as a historic threat to the PCs! There once was an Inquisitor active in the sector (well-defined in the campaign background), who died years before the campaign began. However, the Forcey PC in the group has the Foresee Force Power so I found a way for him to have a vision of the past that showed the long-dead Inquisitor recording a holo-net message for Vader on Mustafar, only that the local holo-net antenna had been damaged by a resident survivor Jedi, preventing the message from being sent. So, the PCs basically discovered a queuing holo-net message waiting to be sent to Vader years ago, informing Vader about local stuff and suggesting he might want to personally investigate the sector. All it would take was for the local gov to finally repair the holo-net dish and the warning to Vader would be sent. Once they found out, chills went down the players’ spines when they realized how close they were to Vader taking interest in their home sector…

1 Like

Has the force-sensitive encountered any inquisitors?
We see in Rebels that Vader only takes notice of Ezra and Kanan because they defeated his best inquisitor. So if I were you, I’d make an officer realize that the force-sensitive can use the force, then send a weaker inquisitor after him.

1 Like

Yeah I really see no reason to cling to the canon “fact” that there are no inquisitors anymore.
Having more than 1 team of five weak-ass inquisitors makes alot of sense to me atleast.

1 Like

We know that there were at least 10 inquisitors, but the canon reason for their “extinction” is no longer having a need for them, and so the elimination of the remainder. Add to that attrition, and that they’re killing the few people who could conceivably replace them. Inquisitors weren’t trained from birth, but were young Jedi who could be turned into faithful servants of the Empire. You have a finite number of those, and even fewer when you send yours to kill the others.

The behind-the-scenes reason for their extinction is probably that they didn’t show up anywhere in the OT, and that needed justification (though there are other possible explanations as well).

That said, I have a game timed after Hoth, and still intend to include an inquisitor because it’s fun. I may figure out another niche or way of integrating that particular adversary that does not fall under the Rebels-era Inquisitorius, but I have not given it that much thought yet. Most likely, I will simply do away with the canon end of the Inquisitorius, and he will be one of the last two or three in existence.

1 Like

Yeah, we’re not breaking canon. It’s all good that people don’t feel bound by canon, but for us it is an important aspect of the game. In our game we’re playing in the same universe as depicted on the screen, and should we deviate from that (more than required to make the sometimes self-contradicting canon work), we’re no longer playing in that same universe. That’s how it is for us; canon is important for SW, while for a supers game canon would be pretty meaningless, for example.

(I wouldn’t have sought advice on how to pull this off within canon, if keeping it within canon was not a requirement, if that makes sense?)

1 Like

One way that I’ve seen GM’s use a direct interaction with Vader without really screwing anything up is to have Vader need the players in question alive for some reason. Perhaps the players and Vader are fighting a common enemy that would give Vader a run for his money if he tried to face it alone. Then after the fight have some way that the party and Vader are separated so that way Vader is unable to kill the party. This allows for you to throw in a very cinematic moment, like after the combat or what not something happens that causes a large ravine to open up between the players and Vader allowing the party to escape Vader for a time. This tie in for Vader allows you as the GM to really show the strength of Vader without directly threatening the party’s lives. I would not recommend having Vader actively searching for one of the party members as this most likely will lead to direct combat. Having some event where the party runs into Vader by happenstance or similar goals is more malleable. If the party can flee Vader without too much worry of Vader actively seeking them, allows for more believability and can introduce a good amount of paranoia in the party.