What ifStar Wars as we know it didn't exist, but instead the plot of the movies was being made up on the spot by players of a Tabletop Game?Well, for one, the results might actually make a lot more sense, from an out-of-story point of view...Darths & Droids is a webcomic created by The Comic Irregulars (David Morgan-Mar and seven of his friends from work), following the footsteps of DM of the Rings(found here), which used a similar premise for The Lord of the Rings. However, while DOTR featured a railroading GM herding a bunch of bored Munchkin players with an iron fist, Darths & Droids has a more tolerant GM, who's willing to let the players get Off the Rails and contribute to the development of the setting, if that's what it takes to have a fun and interesting game. Indeed, the very plot of Star Wars, with all its inconsistencies and bizarre leaps of logic, comes about because the players constantly force the GM to improvise.And that's not all; the Irregulars seem to be taking perverse pleasure in actually changing things from how they happen in the movies as much as they can while still being constrained by actual screencaps. This ranges from the ultimately minor "Lost Orb" side-quest, all the way to Darth Maul being a hired bounty hunter who's, at worst, Chaotic Neutral. Even Palpatine seems like a good guy.In the blurb for each comic, there are often links to This Very Wiki, and there are even comics named after tropes, as well.The comic is being translated into a variety of languages, including: German, French and others. Notably, some of the translations are pure Gag Dub, including: Pirate, poetry, Zero Wing-esque mangled English and tlhIngan Hol (Klingon). Nearly all strips from Episode I appear in German.The players from the original 3 movies correspond to the five basic RPG Player Archetypes, although Morgan-Mar claims it was unintentional.
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The Brain: Ben, playing Obi-Wan Kenobi during the prequel trilogy, and once he dies in Episode IV he takes over Chewbacca. He prefers to think rationally before acting, comes up with sane plans, but is quick to resort to fast-talking the GM if nothing else works. Also points out the unlikelihood of situations they run into. At some point since Episode III he stopped coming to game sessions, but he eventually returns for Episode IV.
The Loonie: Sally, playing Jar Jar Binks in Episode 1. By the time the Episode 2 campaign started, she decided Jar Jar was stupid, and bounced around several characters before mainly settling on C-3PO and Yoda. She's Ben's kid sister, who he once brought to a game session when their parents weren't home. Many of the wacky elements of the setting, such as the Gungans (including her own character), Toydarians, and an elected 14-year-old queen, are products of her wild imagination; the GM seems to have largely left the task of designing settings and alien races to her, in acknowledgment of the fact that she is more creative with such things than he is. Sally is also pure awesome in a can, given that she was able to accomplish the flat-out impossible feat of making Jar Jar Binks likable.
The Munchkin: Pete, playing R2-D2. He joined after Jim told him about the game and designed his character in advance using Min-Maxing, resulting in a verbally-challenged non-humanoid robot with insane mechanic skills. For a short time, he filled in for the GM "due to some family emergency or whatever". His style of doing this seems to be...different. He has something of a soft spot for Sally, which makes a lot more sense once she sticks with C-3PO for Episode IV.
The Thespian: Annie, initially playing Shmi Skywalker but soon switched to Anakin rather than shoehorning Shmi into the adventuring party. As of Episode IV, she's Leia (though that name is a secret and she's publicly known as Princess Organa - yes, "Princess" is her name and not a title). She's also continuing to play Anakin as Darth Vader, though initially she did it through the GM as a proxy. Ben told her about the game in drama class. Her unfamiliarity with typical RPG player behavior results in amusing misunderstandings, such as her mistaking Qui-Gon for a robber when he attempts to search Shmi's house for loot. Her roleplaying tends to be filled with Hidden Depths and moral ambiguity, which sometimes screws with the more straightforward mindset of the other players. As a joke, she plays what is considered to be the worst acted character from the prequel trilogy.
The Sixth Ranger: Corey, joining the group in Episode IV and playing Luke (named Luke Amidala in this case; with the aliases "Adam Lars" and Luke "Starkiller"). He's Pete's nephew, being just a little older than Sally. He got interested in the group after hearing Pete talk about it, but was stunned to find it wasn't an role-playing video game. Nonetheless, he seems to be getting the hang of things pretty quickly.
The Game Master: No Name Given, playing everyone else; mostly NPCs but he also plays a part in the Episode IV adventuring party as Chewbacca until Ben takes over the role. He too often sees his carefully written campaigns get shot to pieces by the players going Off the Rails, but knows better than to try Railroading and usually doesn't do any more than make a sarcastic comment in response. More often, he just rolls with whatever the players come up with. He also tends to differentiate NPCs with Just Some Stupid Accents, and he enjoys playing authority figures that get to call the PCs on their shenanigans.
Darths & Droids provides examples of the following tropes:
Accidental Misnaming: About half the time Jim says anything, he gets its name wrong. Sio Bibble is "Bubble", Jedi knights are "Cheddar monks", Sebulba is "Sir Bulbar", etc.
Taken to absurd lengths when Jim gets to name Padmé's entire family, then says the wrong names later.
Adaptation Distillation: Some of the... less popular elements of the prequels are reworked into some of the most memorable parts of the comic.
Adaptational Heroism: Several villainous characters are reimagined into being heroic characters who are going against the party due to their rampant insanity. Notable examples include Darth Maul and Jango Fett.
GM: Delivered to this dark, dank den of despair, you discern a disarray of disheartened, disfigured, and dismembered droids. Pete: You've been practising that sentence, haven't you? GM: Definitely.
Also, the title of this and all the other one-shot comics mentioned under Alternate History.
Affably Amoral: The clone troopers. To a man, they are friendly, helpful, and enthusiastic about their jobs — to the point that when it comes time to execute Order 66, they are both surprisingly eager to do the deed (a fact Palpatine comments on), and unfailingly complimentary and sympathetic to the Jedi they're gunning down.
All Girls Like Ponies: Sally enthusiastically declares that Jar-Jar "has a face like a pony!" and later decides that Gungans all ride on dinosaur ponies.
In strip 24 they said they "had to resist very strongly the urge for Sally to say that Otoh Gunga was full of ponies", saying that "at some point in this wonderful fantasy world Sally is building, the GM has to step in with something that requires more response than the players just marvelling at stuff.
Jar Jar: Dis meaning war, wesa needs to have a stronger leader! Mesa suggests Chancellor Palpatine gets emergency powers! Palpatine: What?!
Especially in the case of Palpatine, when he saves Obi-Wan Kenobi. They turn the whole reasoning behind the eventual start of the Jedi/Empire conflict upside down; instead of Palpatine slowly corrupting Anakin until he's prepared to attack Windu in Palpatine's defense, it's Anakin playing both sides, eventually convincing Windu that Palpatine is a sleeper agent before showing up when they fight and attacking Windu, ostensibly to defend Palpatine against his unjustified attack. They even manage to make Palpatine's killing of Windu into a fairly awesome moment for Palpatine.
Logic Bomb: Since Futurama doesn't exist in the world of Hypnotoads and Hyperchickens, "Billy West is known (barely) for doing voiceovers for poorly selling computer games..." until he appears inthe first Futurama movie.
Anti-Hero: Weirdly enough, Palpatine so far. Throughout most of the series, he's been portrayed as a Reasonable Authority Figure, and he even saves Obi Wan during the escape from Grievous' ship, but it turns out the Peace Moon really was a weapon. However, he only made the plans to act as a deterrent, like MAD in the Cold War.
In a Class 4 example, how did Mustafar become a molten volcanic planet? It was originally Naboo. The Trade Federation took over the planet and moved it into the orbit of a nearby gas giant, causing increased tidal activity and, in turn, volcanic activity, all so they can smelt it and build the Peace Moon. However, ultimately it turned out that most of the population survived, Theed was protected by a force field, and the planet itself was liberated offscreen by Jar Jar, who then moved it back to its original orbit.
And then in #744, the moment you've been waiting for for the entirety of Episode IV: the Peace Moon blows up Naboo.
Obi-Wan: Let's see. You stole the plans for a symbol of peace. You're allied with (a) a known megalomaniacal warlord and (b) a criminal sociopath. You have not one, but two, armies at your disposal. You've captured me — unfairly — and are holding me with no means of escape. And you're monologuing. Count Dookû:Iam monologuing?!
Asteroid Thicket: Lampshaded- Jim (a geophysicist who has spent two years studying space geology) rightfully points out that the asteroid field in Episode V shouldn't actually exist, which prompts Annie to call it "A massive region of randomly moving, closely packed, enormous giant space rocks."
Avenging the Villain: Jango Fett's reason for opposing the PC's, though the person he is trying to avenge, Darth Maul, wasn't exactly evil.
Awesome, but Impractical: When going through Luke's character sheet, "Survival: Snow" is one of his skills, along with "Survival: Desert", "Survival: Forest", and "Survival: Swamp". Annie (playing Leia) questions how a character who spent his whole life in the desert ever learned to survive in a snowy climate, not to mention that he wouldn't need it there.
Badass Boast: On a meta level, the Comic Irregulars' reaction to Disney announcing Episodes VII - IXnote though, considering that they managed to redeem Jar-Jar, it's probably entirely justified.
"The good news is: We should be finished with Episode VI around then, and will be able to move smoothly on to parodying Episode VII. If the new movie sucks, we will redeem it. On the other hand, if the new movie is awesome, it will be awesome. You can't lose."
Bad Boss: Grievous, who kills his own minions just because one of them interrupted his monologue. Also Darth Vader, who kills any troops or officers that fail him even in the slightest. It even goes to the point that after capturing the Rebel Hoth base, he has his troops call in an orbital bombardment on themselves.
Bait and Switch: In the fourth campaign, Jim mentions that his next character would be named Greedo, leading to expectation that his Greedo would be killed by the NPC Han Solo. As it turns out, "Greedo" murders "Han Solo" and takes his place.
Beard of Evil: Spoofed. Jim immediately assumes Sio Bubble is evil just because he has a goatee. Jim's suspicion of the GM pulling this trope continues into the second game, and has expanded to include Senator Organa, of all people, in this strip.
Vader gets a subdued one when he learns from Obi-Wan that his son has allegedly been killed then impersonated by Luke.
Corey (who plays Luke) gets one when Ben (Obi-Wan) doesn't even roll the die and lets himself get killed by Vader.
Corey and Sally do it simultaneously upon the equally simultaneous realizations (a) by Luke that Vader is his father and (b) by Yoda that Anakin is still alive.
Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics: Subverted; Qui-Gon cannot use blasters to shoot other blaster shots out of the air. Please note that this actually happens in Coruscant Nights, one of the Star Wars novel series.
When the group returns to the Gungans and the bongo is mentioned to Annie, Jim calls it a fishing lure. Remember the fish?
During the senate scene in Phantom Menace, Chancellor Valorum complains about the frailty of organic bodies and says he wants to set up a committee to investigate turning people into cyborgs. At the time, it looks like one of many oneoff statements from a bored Cloudcuckoolander politician. But guess who General Grievous turns out to be.
But He Sounds Handsome: Yoda (the character Sally mostly settles on playing) regularly talks about how smart and competent Jar-Jar (Sally's original character) is (despite her pretty much disowning him by the time the campain gets to Attack of the Clones). Also, Jim has nothing but praise for his characters bothin- and out of character.
Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": Since this is an universe where Star Wars is just a tabletop campaign, the weapons only have normal names with, as Jim puts it, "techy words in front"; hence, lightsabers are only referred to as Laser Swords.
An impressive 800-page callback joke occurred in episode 1058, where Han mentions the extremely implausible-but-canon destruction of the Republic Library's memory orbs by dogs that came up in episode 258. The joke started in 257, regarding the destruction of the Republic Library's books by dogs.
Calvinball: The rules of the system are very unclear, but this is intentional, as they've said that they're not using any established system. Based on analysis from several strips, it appears to combine the following aspects:
The basic d20 mechanic from any d20 system (d20 + modifier versus target number to beat).
A Merit/Flaw system (Pete's Short and Mute flaws for extra skill points).
A reputation system, probably similar to the Wizards of the Coast Star Wars d20 system. For instance, Pete got a Periscope for -2 to Reputation.
Force Powers and other skills, including combat skills (Parry), appear to need investment with skill points, and it operates like any standard d20 mechanic (see above).
Card-Carrying Villain: Most of the villains from the films are actually anti-villains or even anti-heroes. In Episode III, however, this trope is played horribly straight by General Grievous.
Celebrity Paradox: Explicitly acknowledged, and lampshaded the heck out of it; one annotation goes further on to imagine this hypothetical world without Star Wars, even including a strip, cast page, FAQ and episode list from a fake Harry Potter equivalent of the comic. Taken a level further when we learn that in the hypothetical world of the Harry Potter comic, the equivalent is a comic based on The Sound of Music. That world in turn is shown to have its comic equivalent be based on the first X-Men movie, and more.
Cerebus Syndrome: Arguably. The early strips mostly derived their humor from the absurdity of RPG tropes being applied to a setting meant to be serious, and players transforming it into the whimsical setting of The Phantom Menace just by being themselves. Later, the metaplot got more serious, focusing on interpersonal relationships between the players in more detail and noting how it affects the plot of the in-universe campaign.
Chekhov's Gag: In Darth Maul's Flashback, we see a droid on the trade federation star ship asking the hologram Palpatine if he wants a drink, which looks like a gag. In Jango Fett's flashback, it's revealed that that was actually Jango giving a code phrase to Maul.
Chekhov's Gun: The morale bonus Pete gives because watching R2 fly is just that cool. It later comes back to throw a wrench in his Killer GMing.
The reason why the Senate boxes are shaped like Frisbees.
The butler droid on the Trade Federation ship, who is actually Jango Fett in disguise. He is Darth Maul's partner.
Chancellor Valorum, who later reappears as General Grievous.
Chekhov's Skill: The impossibly awkward scene where Anakin gets thrown off the shaak on Naboo was him practicing his Riding skill. It comes in handy in the arena on Geonosis.
Luke has survival skills for all sorts of terrain on his character sheet — even snow, which is noted as implausible on a desert planet. Luke visits planets with each of those terrains in the movies. Even better, they may have even been set up as such in-universe by the GM — Corey obviously isn't acquainted enough with roleplaying to set up his own character sheet, so the GM may have given him things planned to be useful down the road and justified it with Luke being raised by Crazy Survivalists.
Coming In Hot: Aside from the crash of the Invisible Hand in Episode III, there is a parody of the trope here.
Jim (as Han): Chewie! Hit the... uh... forward! Chewbacca: "Forward" engaged. Pete: Match the rotation! Match the rotation! Chewbacca: Rotation zero radians per second: matched. Han: We're coming in too hot! * Millennium Falcon slowly lands on the Peace Moon* Clone Trooper: Wow. Slowest landing ever.
Composite Character: Some things from the movies get merged in this telling: Chancellor Valorum and General Grievous, Naboo, Mustafar, and Alderaan. A lesser version is at the beginning of Episode IV, where random Rebel Troopers are used to represent Captain Antilles until the scene where the real Antilles appears, getting throttled by Vader.
Could Have Avoided This Plot: During his duel with Yoda, Palpatine points out that if the Jedi had some ethical concerns with his leadership, they could have just talked to him about it. And apparently Sally ended up agreeing with him, as she decided to sort everything out with him after saving Obi-Wan.
Cranial Processing Unit: Mentioned with reference to how strange it is that C3PO still works when his head is grafted onto a battledroid.
Cross Player: Sally (as several characters), Annie (as Anakin), and formerly Jim (as Padmé). In other words, exactly half the cast. Take into the account that Pete's character doesn't really have a gender, and we're left with exactly one player who has a character that was consistently the same sex as he is. Averted so far with the roles they play in the original trilogy.
Cultural Translation: Frequently a necessity when the fans translate the comics into various languages.
Daddy DNA Test: Vader learns that Leia is his daughter by having her DNA analysed and by having her blood tested for midi-chlorian count.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: Gunnery Captain Bolvan knows that just because an escape pod doesn't have any life forms in it doesn't mean it shouldn't be shot down. Too bad for him that Pete disabled guns before leaving.
Dramatic Irony: In-universe and out; because of Ben's commitment to the line between in-character and out-of-character actions and knowledge, he and the audience know that Anakin would have left Obi-Wan to die, but Obi-Wan does not. Ben doesn't hold it against Annie because it's in-character for Anakin, but notes that there might be trouble in-game if Obi-Wan found out.
Drinking Game: Pete is playing one; drink every time a cliché shows up! invoked
Everyone's Baby Sister: Ben's little sister Sally is initially brought to the group because he's forced to baby-sit her, but she quickly gets integrated into the game as Jar Jar Binks (and singlehandedly makes the character enjoyable.) In the early strips when she was young, the GM and players tended to be protective of her, cheering her on and giving her extra chances at failed dice rolls.
Evil Chancellor: Subverted; Jim's suspicions of Sio Bibble have no basis in fact or reality. Also, Chancellor Palpatine (possibly).
Bizarrely enough, if Sally's comments in Episode 704 are anything to go by, the Imperial Senate may be taking this role towards Emperor Palpatine, basically flipping the situation in the movies on its head.
Evil Plan: Annie's grand scheme in Episode III is to play the Jedi Council, Palpatine, and Ben/Obi-Wan against each other, making each of them think the other is Sith, with the ultimate goal of standing atop the resulting chaos and gaining complete control of the galaxy as The Man Behind the Man. Jim and Pete are left slack-jawed in admiration. The gambit ultimately fails when Palpatine takes the Left for Dead Anakin and sticks him in a robot body designed to place him under Palpatine's control.
Fleeting Passionate Hobbies: Sally during Episode III; every session she has a new interest that she pours her heart and soul into, but come next session she's decided that her former interest was stupid, and now she has a new and much better one.
The relationships between the players, reflected in-game by their characters, is slowly fracturing in much the same way as the original Star Wars characters did. And Revenge of the Sith didn't exactly end well.
Pete goes on an extended rant as he demands something more science-fictiony, such as space dreadnoughts bristling with atomic missiles. Then at the end of Episode 2, Pete suggests "a massive battle involving space dreadnoughts bristling with atomic missiles" (Annie: "As long as we're the ones with the dreadnoughts") and the GM takes notes. Remember how the Episode 3 movie started?
Palpatine: And who shall judge who is wicked? Who else is to die? Anakin: Anyone who disagrees with me, for starters. Palpatine: I disagreed with you just now, Anakin. Anakin:Well obviously not you, Chancellor.
And another one, again if the comic lasts long enough to cover Jedi:
Palpatine: This is fun; perhaps I should install a huge bottomless pit in my quarters for no apparent reason.
And then comes a piece of dialogue from Anakin/Annie about Padme/Jim. Considering how much development Annie plans out for her character and how involved she gets into them, this could be both, either, or neither foreshadowing or in-character anxiety.
Anakin (describing an in-character dream): You die in childbirth.
Framing the Guilty Party: Category 2. In Episode III, Annie as Anakin has been casting suspicion between the main characters, trying to turn them against each other at various times suggesting dark motives for Palpatine, Yoda, Obi-Wan, and Mace Windu. Upon The Reveal that Mace Windu is a brainwashed sleeper agent for the Trade Federation she seems genuinely shocked that one of the people she was trying to cast suspicion on was actually guilty of something.
Gender Flip: It's more for pronoun purposes, but in Darths & Droids, C-3PO is referred to as female.
Genius Ditz: Jim is a real ditz in RPG, genius otherwise. See here to see him put the GM in his place when the GM uses the word "vergence" wrong, because he's doing Ph.D in geophysics. And later, he even works out the insane conditions that would make a planet like Naboo physically possible to patch up the GM's overlooking basic physics in the earlier strips. But lest we forget the second half of this trope:
R2-D2: It's tough holding a grudge against someone who doesn't even notice.
Genre Savvy: All the players — except Sally and Annie, at least in the first movie.
Luke:I've been fed lies my entire life! Every person I've known for more than two days is dead!
GMPC: Temporary example with R2-D2, when the regular GM has a family emergency and lets Pete fill in because he has the most GM experience.
Chewbacca was an example, joining the group as PC Jim's eloquent sidekick, specifically designed to excel at all his dump stats (like diplomacy. Later became an ordinary PC due to the death of Obi-Wan aboard the Peace Moon.)
Gone Horribly Right: So, Anakin, you want to corrupt Palpatine and become the power behind the throne? Sure, why not. Just be certain that you've not corrupted him enough to consider you a loose cannon and turn you into a cyborg so he can control you. Oops.
Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Maybe it's because Sally's in the group, but "frakking" is the harshest the language ever gets.
Jim: And that stuff about Pete being the Archangel Gabriel, where did that come from? Annie: Yeah by that stage I was just making up the stupidest things I could think of. ... Jim: They were vampires! You can't make vampires good! They're evil, they have to be killed, that's all there is to it! [...] And vampires do not sparkle in the daylight!!
It's also slowly revealed that Jim's campaign was derailed into the plot of Airplane!, with Pete playing Leslie Nielsen.
Honor Before Reason: Sally challenges Dookû to a contest of lifting things with the Force as a way of capturing him without needing to risk killing him, relying on the idea that Dookû will be honourable to agree to it.
Yoda: I don't want to kill you. Settle this with a Force Arm-Wrestle we will! Dookû: A... what? Yoda: Whoever lifts the biggest thing wins! Dookû: Zis is ridiculous. Raise your sword. Yoda: But this is how honourable Jedi settle things. Are you honourable? Dookû: Ah begin to regret zat Ah am...
Also the reason (in this universe) for the reason for the lightsaber duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan. The rest of the party is going evil (except Sally), but Ben refuses.
Ben: I wrote "Good" on my character sheet and I jolly well meant it! Unlike some people!
Obi-Wan has his moment when he jumps off a window after a droid in the Attack of the Clones arc.
Idiot Savant: Jim may be as dumb as he can in the game, but he's a Geology student, and a very good one if his Lampshade Hanging of the implausibility of the height of Coruscant's buildings is any indication.
Lampshaded again later on. Obi-Wan states the movie line about blast points being too accurate for Sand People - but then adds "It can't be clone troopers either. They're rubbish."
And then demonstrated by Jim, who decides to take the Ork method of marksmanship and hose down the pursuing TI Es with full-auto fire. Naturally, he misses despite having to roll a big bucket of dice. Corey, being an experienced FPS player, actually applies lead and smokes his targets with single well-aimed shots.
In Medias Res: The players' Episode IV campaign starts three sessions before we start seeing it - and Jim has had a character die in each one.
Insane Troll Logic: The solutions to the challenges Pete set during his brief tenure filling in for the GM. Usually, as well as being completely out there, the players had to make punishingly precise rolls to actually succeed (as it stood, they managed to survive without figuring out Pete's solutions, on blind luck alone).
Also the part where the players are assisted by a group of NPC pilots, speaking several languages while 3PO translates. The NPC lines are all Blind Idiot Translations, because the GM isn't multilingual and is relying on machine translation.
Intergenerational Friendship: Sally develops this sort of a relationship with the other players fairly quickly over the course of the first episode. Particularly of note is her relationship with Pete, who takes her under his wing and mentors her in how to best use Jar Jar's (and later 3PO's) abilities to her strategic advantage.
Also, there are several lines of dialogue taken straight from the movies — with Character A saying Character B's lines, and Character B saying Character A's lines.
It Was His Sled: An in-universe example of sorts: the destruction of Naboo is supposed to be a shocking revelation to the players' characters, but the players themselves already know it happened. Jim even gets a bit sarcastic about it.
Jerkass: Pete's stat-obsessed, railroading, and killer GM attitude is quickly turning him into this. And he can't even understand why the other players are starting to hate him. He does apologize afterward, and admits he genuinely enjoys playing with the team.
Ben: You buy stuff at full value, you sell at half. Pete: First Law of Equipment Trading. Corey: So all these traders out there are making 100% profit on every transaction? You'd think they'd have banded together and taken over the galaxy by now. Pete: What, like some kind of... Trade Federation?
Kill and Replace: The human character Greedo shoots and kills the green Rodian named Han Solo in the Mos Eisley cantina, and takes over his identity (and ship).
Killer Game Master: Pete, as substitute GM, is the one who comes up with the droid factory scene from Attack of the Clones. He even laughs at Annie when she initially fails a roll.
Made even more evident when the original GM shows up and takes a look at the place, saying "Wow, I don't think anyone can get through this," making Annie and Jim's passage through the factory SHEER LUCK — for instance, the chance of Anakin getting through those blades was approximately 0.5% (admittedly, before Anakin increased his chances with Force Abilities).
The Rant usually includes tongue-in-cheek advice for DMs for running a fun campaign - often at the expense of the players.
Ponda Baba: What the hell are you doing? I was just messing with the kid! That arm's gonna take me hours to grow back! Obi-Wan: Uh... I'm sorry... but... Ponda Baba: Nah, just kidding. It's gone forever. And it hurts a lot.
Marty Stu: In-Universe, R2-D2, Pete's character, during Pete's run as the temporary GM. Pete constructs the entire factory scene in Episode II, making it particularly dangerous to the other PCs, for the sole purpose of having R2 fly in and save the day. This is made most obvious in this strip.
"Are you calling me <something undesirable>?" "Are you?" "Are you?" "Maybe."
Lampshaded a second later. "It also causes deja vu."
Meaningful Name: Ben, Annie, and (until he takes over Padmé) Jim. In-universe, Annie's case is a coincidence because the GM named Anakin before she came aboard.
Pete is another, though far more subtle example. It comes from the scene in A New Hope where a Jawa shoots Artoo. After he keels over, the Jawa calls for his friends with this line: "Utini... Umm PETE!"
Most Gamers Are Male: There are two girls out of five (later six) players, which is still a higher percentage than normal. Both Sally and Annie come to the campaign as newbies and Pete, at first, clearly thinks most gamers should be male.
Mundane Made Awesome: Pete at least appears to see rolling his special custom die as the mostepic thing in the history of gaming. He even asked Sally to film the roll because he was too excited to hold the camera steady.
There are a few scattered references to the Star Wars Expanded Universe, specially in Episode IV (prior gameplay sessions include the opening level of Dark Forces, and Jim also mentions the incident on which the plans were retransmitted to Leia aboard the Tantive IV).
In episode 741, when the group tries to come up with a fake surname for Luke, Corey suggests "Starkiller" which was Luke Skywalker's name in early drafts of the original Star Wars script.
Ben's Chewbacca refuses to accept a medal until the war has been won. This is in reference to Chewbacca not getting a medal in the actual film because Carrie Fisher wasn't tall enough to hang it on him.
In order to win the pod race, Jim (still playing Qui Gon Jin) injects Anakin with his blood, giving him midi-chlorians and thus Force abilities. That's right. To rig a race, Jim creates the character that will later become Darth Vader.
In the pod race arc, Jim is also responsible for arming the Tusken Raiders and causing them to be hostile.
Jim, as Padmé, helps to instigate the Rebellion, which in Darths & Droids canon may well end up being villains.
One for Ben (with an extra bit of help from Jim). Trying to conceal Luke's identity from Vader ends up making the latter chase Luke, but for revenge.
By ignoring their original mission, they end up mistaking allies for enemies killing Darth Maul who was helping them obtain the Peace Orb. And Jango Fett was his partner, leading Fett to try to obtain vengeance against Ben a decade later in game.
Noodle Incident: The Sashimi Incident. Each Episode also involves references to a Noodle Incident that happened in the interrim since the last one, always involving a non-Star Wars campain that's eventually revealed to be based on another famous movie:
Episode II: Pete's mad about something that happened in a low-fantasy campaign. It was The Princess Bride, and Pete was Vizzini; meaning his character was poisoned and the other players left him for dead.
Episode IV: The group played a dramatic campaign run by Jim, which went better than it sounds. Or rather, he meant for it to be dramatic but the players found it ridiculous and ran with it. The result was Airplane! Also, there were three prior gameplay sessions of the episode itself where Jim's character died each time, one of which resulted in him not being allowed to have a laser sword anymore. (In this case it's eventually revealed that the first thing his character did with a laser sword was cutting his own hand off with it.)
Episode V: A crime-fighting campaign, this time run by Ben (though he claims that it being Darker and Edgier wasn't intentional). Pete was a superintelligent martial artist with Extra Lifespan, and he freed a bunch of NPCs who fought and took damage for the players.
Some other Noodle Incidents:
For the two-year skip between Episodes III and IV, Ben walked out of his life to do some soul-searching due to his arguments with Sally during Ep. III; we're not sure what he did during that time.
In #787, Han and Chewie talk about a "raid on Orron III" where they were captured and held prisoner for six months, but eventually got out and made a tidy profit.
In #849, Ben says he told his parents he was no longer going into medicine and was looking at other career options. Pete is impressed that Ben stood up to his dad, and Sally remarks:
Sally: And dad'll get over it soon. Ben: You think? Sally: We needed a new kitchen table anyway.
No OSHA Compliance: Lampshaded and inverted. Ben observes that there are railings for 2 meter falls, but not for bottomless reactor shafts.
Obfuscating Stupidity: While that's always been a part of his overall character (he's intelligent but roleplaying is his brain's off-time) Jim turns out to have been specifically doing this in with his character in Episode IV. The other players, after a whole lot of complaining about how dumb his ideas are, realize that he's coming up with dumb ideas intentionally because his character has a low intelligence rating.
Obligatory Joke: Defied; fans eagerly anticipated seeing what the "Han Shot First" scene would be, but the creators knew early on they didn't want to make that joke. They did pick the low-hanging fruit with the "less than twelve parsecs" line, though.
The wacky plotting of the prequel trilogy is "explained" as the PCs wreaking havoc upon the GM's original story.
This comic references a campaign Annie ran between Episodes 2 and 3 which went off the rails when the guys decided to attack the vampire and werewolf NPCs who Annie insists were friendly. At that point she said "what the hell" and ran with it.
Omake: The aforementioned bonus "alternate universe" comics.
Only Sane Man: Amazingly, Jar Jar Binks of all people is portrayed as this within the game. Yoda even lampshades it, noting that Jar Jar is the only one who isn't acting like a fool. Outside of the game, the GM is this.
Opening a Can of Clones: The comics and rants in Episode II note how the movies wasted the potential of having clones and shapeshifters. Later taken advantage of in Episode IV by making the original Han Solo a shapeshifter, allowing Jim's character to get away with impersonating him (for now, anyway).
Our Monsters Are Different: In Annie's supernatural campaign between Episodes 2 and 3. The other players didn't appreciate how she wound up messing with their expectations.
Annie: For the last time, you weren't supposed to kill those NPCs. Pete: They were vampires and werewolves! What else do you do with them?
The "X leads to Y" gag in 137, which becomes relevant to the plot later (see Call Back).
The author's notes under 50 describe how the players' universe differs from our own and how the lack of the Star Wars franchise affects its pop-culture. The last line says; "The Comic Irregulars exist and are making a screencap comic based on Harry Potter", and if you click on it, it will take you to a fake Comic Irregulars site with an one-shot comic about Harry Potter... and an author's note with a variation on the original and pointing at yet another fake site with an one-shot comic on The Sound of Music, which has yet another variation of the author's note with yet another link at the end, which points to another fake page and so on and so forth. What makes this truly fascinating is the dedication to details: every single fake page has its own logo, color scheme, and tweaked FAQ, Cast and Archives pages. Oh, and every one-shot gag comic is actually hilarious with its own RPG aesop to boot.
Painting the Medium: Whenever an action scene occurs, the borders become angular and irregular, giving a sense that something frantic is happening.
This one does a pretty good job of reflecting the sense that while there is a pattern, the characters are having trouble following it, much like the reader may have difficulty with the page layout.
And when Pete becomes a temporary GM, resulting in the entire droid factory sequence, the titles for strips 333 to 353 switch from short and punny to extremely long and formal, reflecting the change in GMing style and mood. At least a few of them double as attempted defenses of the contrived Ass Pulls Pete was pulling to try and kill everyone else and make R2-D2 seem cooler. invoked
The GM's descriptions of the surroundings were initially written into the comic, but eventually the writers settled on a convention where they'll occasionally just show the scenery and have you assume that the GM (or Sally) is describing it. It works surprisingly well. (See Take Our Word for It below.)
In his usual fine form, General Grievous directs his hamminess at the audience in this comic's title.
Leia: R2, decrypt the coordinates [to the Rebel base]. Authorization code 1-1-A. R2-D2: That is a terrible, terrible code. I didn't even try any codes less than eight characters! (beat panel) Not that I seriously tried decrypting it.
Pimped-Out Dress: Mentioned in the context of what armor class they have, their street value, and thinking they are laundry for the trade federation armada to wash.
The regular DM is fairly good at avoiding this, though his reactions to the PC's decisions make it very obvious when they veer off the path he had hoped they would follow... which is more often than not.
GM: Can I see your skill level in Not Taking a Hint? I think you must be cheating.
"Real Life" Writes the Plot: At the start of Revelation of the Sith, Annie is having relationship issues with Jim, which seems to be influencing the way she plays Anakin. Of course, since this is Annie, she has managed to stay completely in-character.
Jar Jar as well, coming up with brilliant tactical plans in Episode I, giving Palpatine emergency powers with a brilliant political maneuver in Episode II, single-handedly liberating Naboo in Episode III, and being the designated recipient for the Peace Moon plans in Episode IV until the Peace Moon blows up Naboo with him on it.
Retirony: Maul's last words are, of course, "And to think... I was gonna retire after this case..."
The Reveal: A few happen. Besides the cases under Luke, I Am Your Father (of course they had to include some), there's Darth Maul being a private detective, Jango Fett being his partner seeking revenge, Mace Windu being manipulated by the Sith...
Subverted in the case of General Grievous - it's Ben who figures out, and states, that he is actually ex-Chancellor Valorum in a cyborg body.
Right for the Wrong Reasons: Corey on occasion. As noted under Wrong Genre Savvy, he's more familiar with video games and their tropes, but their roots in tabletop rpgs and the GM's flexibility put him in this trope from time to time.
Romantic Plot Tumor: In-Universe — the impossibly awkward love story between Anakin and Padmé in the films is replaced by an impossibly awkward relationship between Annie and Jim, which spills over into their characters.
Rousing Speech: Sally seems to specialize in these: one with Jar Jar, and one with Yoda.
Palpatine finishes his address to the Senate with a rousing speech in episode 591
Summon Bigger Fish. A variation involves Jim deciding to cast Summon Bigger Fish, the GM giving some semi-logical reason for why he shouldn't do it, and Ben yelling "That's your reason for not letting him do that?"
A minor one involves the various ways the "Peace Moon" could be used for an attack.
Shown Their Work: The creators occasionally show in the rant that they really know their Star Wars lore; explaining stuff like the existence of two Greedos (father and son), what exactly Palpatine is watching in that opera house, and the history of the "less than twelve parsecs" line.
Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness: As great as this webcomic is, it tends to go back and forth a lot on whether it's making fun of the Star Wars movies, or it's showcasing the strained friendships of a group of roleplayers who blur the line between fantasy and reality.
In this strip, the red astromech droid (R5-D4) is represented in-game by a red four-sided die.
Here, we have "Two PIEs are squared away!" "The circle is now complete" (emphasis added).
Stock Scream: Referenced to in this comic, (And for those familiar with the movies, that's an exact time it's used in film as well.) One of the Stormtroopers in the scene is even called Wilhelm, after another name for the scream.
Sure, Let's Go with That: Half the plot is based on this, thanks to the GM's free hand with his players' inventions. It's used verbatim when Qui-Gon comes up with a patently ridiculous explanation of the Force involving midi-chlorians, and when Sally invents, off the top of her head, The Dark Side. Conversely, it's used by Jim when the other players assume Padmé is pregnant after some very vague roleplaying.
Many descriptions of creatures (mainly from Sally) and terrain (from Jim, who's a geologist) also happen this way.
Jim: Large ring objects imply a very young planet. Barren, with rugged topography. And volcanoes! GM: O-kay... *scribble scribble*
Jim, as Padmé, puts a hairpin in his mouth in-character. When Ben applauds his idea to pick the lock, Jim notes that's a better idea than his (which was faking a medical emergency, of course).
"I vow never to hurt you. Ever. I won't be jealous, or arrogant, or manipulative towards you." That's going to turn out well.
R2-D2: I'd be half-way to taking over the Republic by now: I'd add a backdoor control mechanism, outsource production to three independent contractors on Kamino, ensure the Senate are distracted by some meaningless invasion somewhere, and cover my tracks with fake blueprints. beat R2-D2: What?
And from Jim:
Padmé: Yes. I will help you bring Anakin to justice. After all, you are the only thing standing between Anakin and complete domination of the galaxy. On his own, obviously, without me faithfully by his side. Seeing as I'm Good. Obi-Wan: Indeed. Padmé: I'll just go and talk to him in advance and make sure he's not ready for you.
Take Our Word for It: When the GM is describing the Coruscant Sunset, we are treated to the picture, but we don't hear the words. Similarly, we never read the words Sally uses to describe the clone factory, just the pictures of it. But it's apparently enough to really impress Ben and the GM.
Pete's 'perfect' die, which is rolled by Annie against Ben in Revenge of the Sith. We can't see it, but it must be carried in a special case, it must be rolled on a steel tray while everyone watching wears safety goggles, and is too dangerous to roll indoors (apparently because it bursts into flames).
Take That: Many, directed at the original films, especially when the GM suggests that Annie take over the role of Anakin when he enters the pod race:
Annie: Um, okay... Let me just get into the right mindset. Qui-Gon/Jim: With my mini-chlorines in your blood, you can't lose. Anakin/Annie: Yippeee! Annie: Sorry, wait. That line doesn't work at all for this character.
They Killed Kenny Again: This has been happening to Jim's characters. First Qui-Gon, then Padmé (though she was able to last a full two campaigns before passing). In Episode IV he's went four-for-four, including Kyle Katarn and Captain Antilles, and they teased a fifth when Jim decided to name his new character "Greedo" until it was revealed that "Greedo" was Han Solo by a different name.
Thirteen Is Unlucky: At one point, R2-D2 (Pete) and Chewbacca (GM) play a game within a game, and R2 backstabs Chewbacca's character to loot his corpse. He finds 13 gold coins, and a cursed item which forces him to pay for the resurrection of Chewbacca's character.
This Means War!: Sally of all people says this when Palpatine first force lightnings Yoda (her character).
Padmé: (To Obi-Wan) Did you throw away a perfectly good blaster?
Time Skip: Attack of the Clones takes place after two years of "real time". There's another two-year time skip between episodes II and III, and presumably there will be more two-year time skips between the other episodes.
Too Clever by Half: Even after being filleted and sauteed by Obi-Wan, Anakin has convinced Palpatine that he's a loyal friend who can be trusted; but then he makes the mistake of asking for control of the entire military, even in the aftermath of everything that's gone before, revealing just how power-hungry he is and leading Palpatine to instantly lose all trust.
Too Many Halves: In this strip, Jim improvisationally describes Wookiees as being "kind of half-ape, half-dog, half-yeti hybrids." Pete notes that this makes them one-and-a-half times as big as you'd expect.
Waxing Lyrical: When Padme and Anakin are on their way to their fate in the arena in 0358, they start slipping into a mix of "At the End of the Day" and "Do You Hear the People Sing" from Les Misérables and Peter Gabriel's "Don't Give Up". The GM is suitably confused:
Anakin: Do we hear the people sing? Padmé: Is it the song of angry bugs?
Webcomic Time: Every session takes approximately 25 strips, which equates to six weeks of real time for one week of story time, not counting the Time Skip between episodes. This isn't a hard-and-fast rule, however; the first session took only 17 strips, and the session breaks are not always made explicit in the strip.
Every film/campaign so far starts two years after the end of the previous one. And since every film/campaign so far has taken a year and a half to get through, if anything, Webcomic Time ends up being inverted.
We Can Rule Together: Darth Maul tries this to Obi-Wan. It might have worked if he hadn't just killed Qui-Gon.
Women Are Wiser: Annie spends most of her time rather closer to Terra Firma than the rest of the group. It's later revealed that outside of the group, she's not quite as reasonable and completely together as it might seem. The fact that Ben is slightly more reliable than she is, both in character and out, helps balance it out as well.
GM: The hovercar arrives at an overlook giving you a magnificent panoramic view of the desert all around, and in the valley far below you the cosmopolitan bustle of... Mos Eisley Spaceport! Ben (as Obi-Wan): You will never find a more Wretched Hive of scum and villainy. Pete: I thought that place where Anakin lived was the hive of scum and villainy? GM: All of the Mos'es are wretched hives of scum and villainy. It's just that Eisley is the most wretched. Sally: Or that the ones that are even more wretched are so well-hidden that we'll never find them. GM: It's the most scummy too. Also, villainous.
Corey. He understands fantasy and sci-fi to an extent but is heavily conditioned by tropes specific to video games. Thanks to an experienced flexible Game Master and the relationship between video game rpgs and their tabletop roots, Corey ends up being right for the wrong reasons fairly often.
When it gets to the first force-choke scene, Motti is complaining that they've had to replace half the work-force over the past six years due to Vader killing anyone he doesn't like. Vader decides that he has a point...and from now on he'll just choke all the incompetents half to death.