The Concept Spotlight are a series of articles highlighting the probabilities and the role of a particular character concept and theme. Here we talk about what it is, what it does and how it exists in the roleplay setting. From civilians to warriors, the Concept Spotlight intends to touch on every theme in your Star Wars roleplay galaxy. Eventually.
The Civilian role is often mistaken for being a mundane one, though whether this is true depends on who they are and the life that they lead. Living an average life void of adventures isn’t necessarily the boring one, but it does permit you to be awed by the adventures and adventurers around you, if you did so happen to engage them in conversation.
Roleplay, by many, is defined as a method of storytelling and often to emphasize the stories in our community it is required that someone smaller, by some standard, look up at them with genuine awe and to be moved by these grand and heroic adventures, or they may simply reject these stories as pure fabrications invented with the sole intentions of self flattery. It’s easy for us, as players, to forget that our more talented characters are something powerful and awe-inspiring from the civilian perspective in this fictional universe, and more often than not, contrast is the key method to putting something into that perspective. It’s somewhat rewarding when this happens. I’ve discussed the contents of this article with a friend of mine, who emphasized me this: “If everyone is a hero, nobody is.” Which is wholly compatible to the contrasting perspective one should hope to achieve.
Who are the civilians?
Bartenders, students, scientists, mechanics, school teachers, gardeners and the like. They’re every day people like you and I, save for the fact that in this context they exist in a fictional universe. Civilians are a natural majority in most established societies, but this doesn’t fully distance them from heroes and their adventures. In fact, the civilian may supplement your adventures with their common trade and your adventurous characters may benefit the civilian by coming to their aid in hard times. The contrast between these concept groups are an absolute gold mine to be exploited for the creative, but be mindful that some players don’t desire their civilian characters to be elevated from that status or favoured in such selfless extravagance that they come out uplifted from their difficulties in long-term, because sometimes these difficulties are a vital part of the character.
Business Owners or Business Fronts
It’s natural that a civilian should be a part of the economy and thereby have a or several jobs to put food on the table and to pay those cursed bills. You contribute to society and get rewarded, but sometimes the economy is unkind and that there is a source of interest to play around. A character on the prowl for a better job may come to involvement around the community - you may find a civilian post in a greater organization or simply introduce the character to a new position you feel fitting for them.
A good method of playing a civilian in a position where from they may readily interact and exchange with other characters is to have them involved as business owners or on the business fronts; either through selling goods or providing a direct service for other characters. It may be basic, but the work has the potential to invite conversation and relationships with these customers, not to mention an immersive familiarity or recognition for your trade. In doing so, you also bring yourself out into the community at large.
Some minor jobs worked by civilians are largely off-screen and let’s face it - we simply cannot portray every second of our character’s lives, there will always be a good portion left to assumption. Given an understandable lack of interest to portraying an average factory worker in the factory, it almost goes without saying that your character’s work is going to be almost wholly off-screen. However, this doesn’t mean that their work has absolutely no place in your roleplay as it may serve as a source of conversation and the environment may impact on your character’s mood.
After a hard day’s work the typical civilian usually seeks distraction. This either takes the form of casual relaxation or excitement; keep in mind that we all have our fancies. Remember that the Civilian doesn’t necessarily work their dream job and that they may practice or enjoy that activity as a hobby or a diversion in hopes of becoming proficient enough to get a job in that field. Some may venture into the local cantina to wind down with a drink and look for conversation, and see where that gets them.
In this way, playing a civilian pushes players to pay some more thought to their characters’ casual interests beyond their roles in the galaxy. Quirks and hobbies are an endless source of in-character conversation and subjects to roleplay around. Every character needs interests aside from the activities that you most often see them doing in roleplay, and often these things come out in dialogue unless it’s some kind of questionable hobby they’d rather not share. A passionate hobby may be a significant part of a character in a way that it has the chance to reflect a lot about them.
Creativity is the key to keep roleplay flowing and there is always the danger of an absence of topics to discuss as a Civilian in particular, because your life just isn’t as intricate as the heroes’ and your adventures not as numerous. As a solution to this, one might put some thought to their character’s work environment. Perhaps they are having trouble with a co-worker and want to discuss it, it could be that they had a good day or that there’s a new caf machine in the staff lounge. They might have been robbed at gunpoint on their way home or they might have a crush on someone at work. Create topics to entertain a social environment and your roleplay will be abundant.
From Zero to Hero(or Villain)
In traditional stories, the hero begins his journey as a nobody, someone living an ordinary life before making the transition toward some greater purpose. Playing a civilian does not mean that you will forever be stuck in that mundane loop of Ordinary Joe’s average lifestyle. Some characters have the potential to become fit and motivated beyond that stage, and may develop into something larger than they were as a civilian. Starting from zero may be that crucial element that defines where your character’s potential lays and determines their incentive to pursue it. A character may even come to a point in their life when they’ve simply had it with the way something works and in turn wants to wreak havoc and destruction for their suffering.
The Civilians We Never See
Remember that the setting around you will operate on the backs of NPCs, and though we may look at a public setting in game and see no other player characters it is naturally fair to assume that the presence of civilian non-player characters would be present. These civilian NPCs fill the gaps in our roleplay, and are purposed into roles where player characters aren’t present or roles which players have no interest in portraying, or simply cannot be present at a time to play this role. With this in mind it cannot be said that, because there are no people characters portraying local security that no security ought to be there in that setting; That because there is no player character behind a bar counter that the bar is attended by nobody.
Regardless, it’s completely understandable why someone would choose not to portray a civilian in Star Wars. After all, Star Wars stories are traditionally focused around heroes and villains, the Force and conflict between good and evil. In Star Wars media the civilian lifestyle is rarely explored and when they are, it usually carries the character beyond the life of a civilian. Being at the bottom doesn’t keep you from the top and sometimes civilian level progress can be equally as rewarding as besting the antagonist in your plot. Civilians’ obstacles are simply different in nature and can be equally as entertaining to overcome. As with all roleplay, creativity is the key to opening its bountiful gates. Anything can be interesting if we make it so.