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Analysis / Dark Forces Saga

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Kyle Katarn as an Ideal Badass

When attempting to Write a Badass, most authors run into a dilemma: how to make a character consistently awesome without turning them into a boring Invincible Hero with all the personality of a brick? Well, here are a few lessons to be learned from the creators of Kyle Katarn:

  • A badass does not look for trouble. Instead, trouble always finds Kyle Katarn, whether it's a secret Imperial project, a fallen Jedi coming after his family's secret, or simply a particularly accident-prone student. Meanwhile, all Kyle wants to do is to live in peace, work an honest job, take care of his friends, and maybe pass on some of his life experience to the next generation.
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  • A badass knows that talk is cheap. At no point will you hear Kyle boasting about his powers and accomplishments, nor will you ever hear him talking too much — he is a Deadpan Snarker, at the very most. Kyle knows the value of each word he utters.
  • A badass has a utilitarian approach to weapons. Note how even in games focused on lightsaber combat, Kyle never attaches any sentimental value to it. He still keeps his Hyperspace Arsenal within reach and, even as an NPC who would reasonably be expected to only be coded to use a single weapon, knows to use it when it's the more effective option. Furthermore, he sees both Light and Dark Force powers as neither good, nor evil by themselves, and he is definitely not above bringing some Good Old Fisticuffs into a lightsaber duel.
  • A badass is not invincible. Kyle regularly gets the crap beaten out of him, fails his loved ones and his students, and has his stuff taken away from him. However, that never stops him for long — he always gets up and continues the fight (unless he falls to The Dark Side, see below).
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  • A badass does not seek authority. He rejects any special treatment from his students and doesn't try to supplant Luke Skywalker — though the respect the Jedi Grandmaster has for him is glaringly obvious. And if the Vjun mission is any indication, Kyle prefers to let his students lead, while he has got their backs, rather than the other way around.
  • A badass keeps his emotions in check. Kyle learned that the hard way from his brief forays into The Dark Side and from that one time his impulsive decision almost destroyed the Jedi Order. It's not that he doesn't have any strong emotions, he just expresses them with pinpoint accuracy and control — be it through a well-timed snark or a Force Lightning to the face.
  • A badass has his limits. There are things that will make Kyle lose his composure (like harming the woman he loves) and things that will make him quit (like nearly falling to the Dark Side). He knows when to back down and is not above asking for help if that happens.

"I'm no Jedi. I'm just a guy with a lightsaber and a few questions."

That line from Jedi Outcast serves as the page quote for the entire series because it captures the very essence of Kyle's character. It also reflects many of the above points: it downplays the power and authority of the speaker and demonstrates peaceful intent, a pragmatic approach to weapons, and a tinge of that subtle self-deprecating humor that makes Kyle so likable.