An Imperial Agent can be many things, and can be them on command. Suave, cunning, intelligent, or possibly just detached, aloof, and businesslike. Can you ever really be sure you are talking to a persona or the person inside? Not if they are doing their jobs correctly.
Today’s article explores the Imperial Agent and some of the inspirations you can take when roleplaying this sort of character. This is also the most unorthodox article, as we’ll be exploring characters outside the Star Wars universe. Bioware has stated outright that some of their inspiration for this class came from outside the established lore, and in general it is good not to restrict yourself to one set of influences when building a character. Click past the cut to enter the shadowy world of the Imperial Agent.
Starting in the Star Wars universe, Grand Moff Tarkin was a ruthless, militaristic man whose vision of an orderly galaxy mattered more than the lives of billions of innocents. The planet Alderran comes to mind. Born of a wealthy family in the outer rim, Tarkin found that his ambition rose far beyond his family’s business and even his planet. Using his position as leverage, he managed to gain the favor of Palpatine during his reign as Chancellor. This move put him in a prime position when the Galactic Empire rose into power.
Tarkin was the kind of man who put business and ambition over everything else in his life. He did not marry, sire any children, and his only affair barely went further than pleasant conversation. No one could say he wasn’t good at what he did, commanding others through sheer force of personality. This was a man who could give commands to Darth Vader and openly disagree with Emperor Palpatine without fear of reprisal, and without any connection to the Force to speak of. As an Imperial Agent, you will deal with the likes of Sith Lords quite frequently, and often they will consider your character beneath them. Like the Grand Moff, any Agent can prove they stand equal or above the highly praised Sith by their actions alone, without using the Force as a crutch.
In 1962, one of the most iconic movie quotes was first uttered on the silver screen; “Bond. James Bond.” A sweet-talker with women, a cold-blooded killer and the worst man to have chasing you down, James Bond captured the imaginations of movie goers for decades. Spy movies have never been the same, and this hyper-masculine figure stood at the center of it. Though arguably not as qualified in stealth as other spy candidates, Bond’s strengths lied mainly in his charisma, his aim and his ability to get the job done despite extreme circumstances.
Regardless of your character’s gender, a lady-killer or a black widow style may suit you well. Many problems can be solved without conflict, and a charming personality can only help that along. Or perhaps your Agent seeks the thrill of adventure, willing to dive to the ocean’s depths, dog-fight in space or have a daring shoot-out in the cantina to complete your mission. You may be a secret agent, but that hardly means you need to be discrete. There will always be an occasion to blow a secret laboratory sky-high, and your Agent may be the type to prefer that sort of extravagant work.
Bioware had one spy in particular they noted as being an influence in the creation of the Imperial Agent, and his name was Sam Fisher, the protagonist of the Splinter Cell series of video games and of a long running series of Tom Clancy novels. He is a secret operative for the NSA (National Security Agency) and is our stealth-focused example. Unlike Bond, Fisher specialized in stealth and infiltration techniques. As an operative for the U.S. government he was sent out to handle anything from terrorist organizations to criminal organizations that could threaten America.
Despite his dedication to his job and to his ideals, Fisher was consistently cynical about the nature of his work. He distanced himself as much as he could from the red tape and political maneuvering that went on around him. He does what he believes is right and will even blatantly ignore orders to do so. As an Imperial Agent (and a member of the Empire in general) your character may have a skewed version of what is right, but that may be enough to keep them from engaging in the sadistic power trips their superiors and colleagues indulge in. Fisher’s quote from the trailer for the game Chaos Theory may perfectly encapsulate this mindset:
“… I take the lives of a few to protect the lives of many. I commit acts of war to preserve the greater peace. I take no joy in killing, but make no mistake; I’ll do what needs to be done. Because it’s my job. It’s my duty”
With the SWTOR launch date approaching fast, many roleplayers may already have character concepts ready to go. Whether your Agent is a suave, charismatic individual with the flair for the extravagant, a ruthless officer whose ambition rivals that of a Sith Lord, or just a simple person using their skills to do what is right, you will find many stories and adventures for you waiting in The Old Republic. Keep an eye out for next week’s article on the final class: The Jedi Consular.