Interview with Drew Karpyshyn, Author, “Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan”


Out today is Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan, the eagerly-anticipated story of the fallen-Jedi-turned-Sith-turned-back whose story was featured in the video game Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel. In addition to authoring this novel, Drew Karpyshyn also serves as a writer on BioWare’s upcoming massively-multiplayer online roleplaying game The Old Republic. He also previously wrote the Darth Bane trilogy of Star Wars novels. To accompany your purchase (or pre-order delivery) of Revan today, I asked Karpyshyn a few questions about his past, current, and future work.

You’ve also written novels based on the videogame franchise Mass Effect. Do you consider yourself an avid gamer? If so, what other games do you enjoy?

Over the last decade I haven’t had much of a chance to play video games. Between my work at BioWare, my novels and my golf game, I just don’t have enough free time. I’ve probably only played a half dozen games in the last 5 years.

Revan is the only Jedi-turned-Sith to turn back to the Light Side. How did you approach the task of writing such a complicated protagonist, one whose changing allegiance speaks to the appeals of two competing philosophies?

The thing I like about Revan is that he rejects the extremism of both philosophies. He tries to walk a path between the light and dark, taking the good and bad from each. While I was working on the Darth Bane series, I wanted to portray certain elements of the dark side as positive – things like the importance of the individual and the quest for reaching one’s ultimate potential. Of course, pushed to the extreme these things become twisted and, for want of a better term, evil. But you could say the same thing about certain Jedi philosophies. Trying to remove emotion from your life, trying to be completely rational in all things, can lead to someone become cold, distant and aloof. Revan is a character who wants to pick and choose from both sides to create his own moral code; I think that’s what makes him so interesting.

Do you want to return to the story of Darth Zannah and Darth Cognus someday?

I’d love to continue the series, and those who’ve read the Bane novels know I left a couple small dangling threads in the story. Currently there are no plans for another Bane or Zannah novel, but the series was popular, so down the road I wouldn’t be surprised if we decide to pick it up again.

Can you reveal anything about next TOR novel you’re writing, currently set for a Fall 2012 release?

I can’t really say anything right now, other than that it will take place after the events of the game.

One of the criticisms of The Old Republic, based on the cinematic trailers we’ve seen, is that the technology is too similar to that of the Original Trilogy. What do you think about that? Should the technology used 4,000 years before A New Hope be extremely primitive compared to what we see in Episode IV?

It’s an established convention in the Star Wars universe that they’ve reached a technological plateau. They’ve had hyper drives for 20,000 years, and that’s probably the most difficult/significant technological achievement a society can develop. So if you can travel between systems in days or hours, anything else – weapons, vehicles, etc. – is probably already going to be as advanced as it can get. Things might get slightly faster or more efficient, but the overall technology isn’t going to change very much.

Which arrangement do you think is more interesting, the Brotherhood of Darkness or the Rule of Two?

Obviously I’m a little biased, but I like the dynamic of the Rule of Two. With the Brotherhood of Darkness, you have a fairly typical “army” or organization. It feels like I’ve seen it before. The Rule of Two is something unique, because the Master’s whole goal is to find an apprentice strong enough to defeat him or her and take over. It introduces an element of self-sacrifice to the philosophy of achieving personal potential, and I find the tension between these two competing aspects fascinating.

Could you elaborate on the following passage from Revan?

“The Jedi Order opposed emotional attachments, believing they were a stepping- stone to destruction. They taught that love begat jealousy, which led to the dark side. But Revan had seen its redemptive powers firsthand. It was his love that had brought Bastila back to the light; their emotional bond had wrought salvation for both of them. Revan believed Jedi could be taught to use positive emotions like love and happiness to strengthen their connection to the Force in the same way that hatred and anger gave power to those who followed the dark side.”

The Jedi have a lot of restrictions on relationships and personal attachments, which to me seems like an unrealistic standard. As I’ve mentioned earlier, it can lead to individuals who are cold and unsympathetic. In Empire, Luke is told by Yoda that he has to ignore the suffering of his friends and continue his training. But Luke ignores the advice and rushes to the aid of his friends and ultimately they end up defeating the Emperor… largely because of the emotional attachment Vader has for his son. So I can’t help but wonder if Yoda was giving him bad advice. If Luke hadn’t rushed off to help his friends and given in to his emotion, who knows how the whole saga would have ended?

Darths Bane and Revan were originally supposed to appear on The Clone Wars in the Season 3 episode “Ghosts of Mortis.” They would have been guiding the actions of a Dark Side being called Son. How would you feel about that? What do you think about the general idea of Bane and/or Revan appearing in Clone Wars-era material (or even later eras)?

I’d love to see Bane and Revan make an appearance in other works. I know everyone involved in the Star Wars franchise is respectful of characters they didn’t create, so I don’t have to worry about them being misrepresented. Instead, they’ll be exposed to some fans who aren’t familiar with them, which may lead people to want to learn more about these characters, and obviously I think that’s a good thing.

What would Darth Bane think of Darth Sidious and his stewardship of the Sith Order?

My completely unofficial opinion is that he’d be disappointed in Sidious. I got the feeling the Emperor wasn’t really interested in finding someone strong enough to take his place; he was more interested in ruling forever. He also violated the Rule of Two several times – he had Darth Maul working for him while Dooku was his apprentice, and when Vader was his apprentice his focus was on using Vader to recruit Luke. Add in some of the extended universe information and you find out that Sidious had all sorts of people he was grooming and training in the dark side – he twisted the Rule of Two into something Bane wouldn’t even recognize. If you ask Bane, he’d probably say that’s why the Emperor lost.

I’d like to thank Drew Karpyshyn for his time and congratulate him on today’s release of The Old Republic: Revan!