Monday, November 16, 2009

More on Enhanced Coordination and the Empire

I've already discussed my mixed emotions on the 'Enhanced Coordination' Force power—and the modifications I had to implement to make it playable. In doing so, however, I came to the realization that the original source of the power really made no sense.

As a quick recap, 'Enhanced Coordination' was a Force power suggested by Timothy Zahn in the Heir to the Empire trilogy. Essentially, he stated that the Empire was victorious and effective because 'behind the scenes' the Emperor's will was driving them on—helping to coordinate their activities to destroy all enemies of the Empire. This was achieved by a low level telepathic link to thousands of his soldiers across the galaxy—even if he was in another starsystem or sector.

The more I thought about this, the less it made sense.

First of all, just what large scale enemy did the Empire ever face? None. At worst it had to put up with a rebellious planet or group of planets. The Rebel Alliance was not able to face them in open combat (at least not for any length of time). The Emperor built up a gigantic military that could crush any direct opposition. Why then would he even NEED to 'drive them on with his will' in a personal sense. Unless, of course, he had a personal involvement in a specific battle, I'd think the Emperor would have other things he may want to do than to coordinate a few thousand of his BILLIONS of soldiers.

Secondly, if the Emperor DID step in personally on occasion, then it didn't really seem to help him. At least not based upon what we saw in the movies. Maybe you can chalk the Hoth victory up to some unseen 'dark will' driving the troopers on, but to me it just looked like a well coordinated and overpowering attack. But even THEN, they failed to achieve their primary objective and destroy the Alliance. Then you look at the battles of Yavin and Endor and you see two complete routs, with incredibly outnumbered Rebels carrying the day.

I think the main reason Zahn made up this ability was to give some explanation as to why the Imperial fleet fled Endor rather than staying to wipe out the Rebels—as they likely could have, considering the state of the Rebel fleet. There are (in my opinion) a lot of other reasons for this that do NOT involve the loss of the Emperor's 'Will to Win', however:

1) Breakdown in communications. Within the last few minutes of the battle, the Imperial forces lost their command ship, the deathstar and their base on the planet. Considering how centralized their command structure was, this would cause a lot of confusion.

2) Breakdown in morale. The trap that was supposed to destroy the enemy suddenly turned very bad. An emotional response at all of this is likely to be extreme. Even if fear and panic were set aside, when commanders get a bloody nose, the natural inclination is to fall back and regroup.

3) Politics. It has been stated (and shown) that the Emperor kept his underlings in line by fear and by pitting them against each other so none would become powerful enough to threaten him. When you remove the Emperor (and Vader) from the equation, you find yourself with a fleet full of hyper-competitive, backstabbing, power-hungry officers and nothing to keep them in line. Odds are that before the first of the Death Star debris impacted Endor, half the officers in the fleet were jockeying for position—thinking about the possibility of their own rise to power.

When you put all of these things together, you have a really good reason why the Imperial fleet decided to cut and run—and all of it without a Force power to explain it away.

Oddly enough, it is in the prequels where you see a more likely use of this power—in the form of the Jedi generals. I could totally see Enhanced coordination working in these more limited forms, with Jedi in the field using low-level communications to help them better command their troops.

Anyway, just some thoughts on the subject.

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