A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
It’s not much of a secret that Virsune (and Xeulo, and Jayce, who I might also do this for) got their start in the MMORPG Star Wars: Old Republic. As mentioned in last Sunday’s post briefly, Virsune was originally my Jedi Consular character who I played as an adaptation of Solas from Dragon Age: Inquisition into the Star Wars universe. So much of who he has become has actually been shaped by those two things, from his bald head and cleft chin to the ways in which being part of a Space Opera setting has defined him.
He started out as another character, though, so the ways in which he’s changed over time, the choices he might have made and the way he would be likely to interact with the world, have all changed. With that in mind, I decided to take him back through the game and live everything over again, leaving no stone unturned, sometimes to comedic affect considering Bioware’s infamously deceptive dialogue wheels.
Below the cut there are spoilers, potentially for my novel, but also for SWTOR. If you don’t want to be spoiled, this isn’t the post for you.
Virsune’s original story was played side by side with a character of my friend’s. Of the three main character’s romances, this is the only one that did not make it into my canon because it was originally supposed to be Solas and Female Lavellan’s Space Romance. And I have to admit, Vir did start out as Solas. I really played him with a kind of comparable backstory and he certainly spoke like Solas, just on the wrong side of condescending and fantastically formal. This time, however, I was playing him as the character he became, the character who grew such an intricate backstory that it was a shame to leave him in the Star Wars universe.
Virsune’s “rather talk than fight, leave no man behind” attitude was originally a result of him deliberately applying the Jedi Teachings to his life after leaving behind the Sith Empire in an attempt to change himself. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Star Wars Legends lore, the Sith were a species of red tendril-y Dark Side users who came into contact with the Dark Jedi at some point and were bred into a belief system/hybrid race using alchemy. Virsune was a descendant of those Dark Jedi and the original Sith, bred in a place where hatred was power, who left that all behind because of a failed slave rebellion and fell in with the Jedi because he had nowhere else to go.
On this play through, his attitude became more of a reflection of why he wasn’t welcome among the Sith in the first place, and everything he had to pretend to be in order to survive, rather than a result of his Jedi training. Virsune is a very naturally moral person, the sort of person who is unusual in his worldview, especially for someone raised in a place where hatred and anger are considered powerful tools to dominate others. I believe this change is primarily due to his canon, where he spent most of his 30s and 40s attempting to actively push through reforms for the peace and prosperity of the Galaxy. I can’t really see him ever being the sort of person willing to make sacrifices, which was the very thing that caused him to withdraw from the war as an active combatant — in both Star Wars and in his canon.
Another thing I never really realized was as influenced by Star Wars as much as it was is Virsune’s overwhelming desire to study every ancient artifact in existence, as long as it pertains to his area of interest. I had actually forgotten how much the acquisition and preservation of historical artifacts and documents tied into the Jedi Consular story line, and how that eventually translated into Virsune becoming an archeologist in his canon. Admittedly, it is one of his Autistic Special Interests, and thus something he knows absolutely everything about. I found myself picking every single academic/knowledgeable option this time whereas last time I focused on being diplomatic and obedient, on playing a Sith trying not to show off and adhere to this strange and alien Code which he must now apply to his life.
This time, Virsune’s natural interest in history really came out. It made no sense for him not to display something he clearly knew because, well, he knew it. If he had already put the pieces together, why should he not tell his Master, Yuon Par (that name is a pun and I laugh every time)? What was the point of false modesty and deference when he was hardly bragging by stating the answer outright and then taking credit for his accomplishments?
Virsune is not shy about what he can do, even as a Sith Sith turned Sith Jedi struggling to find his place in that Galaxy Far, Far Away.
But then again, he was never a very good Sith in the first place, and in some ways he’s an even worse Jedi, as much as his morality aligns with their sense of justice.
I don’t really think he’d phrase the sentiment in such an extreme way (the dialogue wheel said something more like “I don’t back down”, another case of Bioware Why), but this is actually something I’ve come to realize about Virsune over time. Having not played this flashpoint in any semblance of canon order last time, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from him other than “he saves everyone on the ship and refuses to sacrifice the lives of others for the sake of the whole”. I don’t think I was expecting him to say this, but now that I think about it, Virsune is pretty willing to throw down when he absolutely has to and when there’s no other alternative available.
As much as he is absolutely a pacifist by nature, he has killed before in numerous ways and for various reasons. He seems very soft on the surface, very warm and caring, and he certainly is, but there’s a depth to his character that I want to add in subsequent drafts of my first novel. Virsune will kill if he has to, and when he says to stand down or he’ll attack, he isn’t bluffing. His desire to save every life he encounters doesn’t somehow negate his fiery determination and single-minded passion when it comes to doing just that, and woe be to the person who stands in his way.
I guess in that way, he very much is a Ryll. In my canon, his people are known for their desire to throw down with anyone who threatens the things they deem important. As much as he is mild-mannered and cultured, Virsune remains proudly and adamantly Ryll in his bearing.
Another thing he displayed this time that he didn’t so much the last time around is this all encompassing desire to talk back to people in positions of authority. Solas, who inspired a few key things about him, can certainly be sarcastic, but only in positions where he is being directly spoken down to. Virsune, on the other hand, is just 100% concentrated salt who does not care who he is sarcastic to. I played him as more reserved, eventually even shy, on my last run through of the game, but this time it was impossible to contain his sass.
As much as he reached out to help other people, like Nalen Raloch, his opponent from Tython who was attempting to use an ancient holocron to destroy the Jedi and the Flesh Raiders and lead the Twi’lek Pilgrims there to a new era of prosperity, he is not afraid to tell them when they’re being stupid. I think part of it is the fact that he uses sarcasm as a defense mechanism against people in power, especially in his canon, where his unique position gives him immunity from most major Galactic Figures of Power. The other part, though, is that he seems to just genuinely enjoy upsetting people who he thinks are nasty and rude, if they appear to be repeat offenders.
His sense of humor is indisputably sarcastic, and sometimes self-deprecating, but usually pretty well timed. More than anything, though, I think this displays his defiant and rebellious streak. Virsune is a deeply independent person who won’t do something if a good argument for it has not been made, both in Star Wars and in Wild Core. Even if he’s playing politics for the good of whichever Galaxy he’s in at the time, even if he’s acting dignified and polite, he’s always willing to call someone out for bad behavior. Such is his passion for the innocent people of the Galaxy.
Moving on to Courscant, I find myself amazed by how far Virsune has come. Sure, there are still darker aspects of his character, one’s that I’m sure to end up touching on in future installments of Virsune’s (Re)Adventures, but he’s gone from someone who was a mesh of a setting and a character into his own, unique person. He stands out as someone with his own personality who makes his own decisions, someone who always puts his ideals and other people before his own happiness. He is a selfless server of people, deeply private, and intensely passionate.
He’s become much less a product of a culture struggling to no longer behave as someone from that culture would, and much more an outsider among a people he loves who was nonetheless informed in subtle yet profound ways by that culture. Uniquely himself, proudly Ryll, I look forward to seeing where he takes me, be it in Star Wars or in our time together writing Wild Core.