Thursday, March 28, 2013

Jedi Knight: The Costuming

The KJO: Allowing nerds like me
to dress up like a Jedi Knight
since 2007...
  This week I return to my work on the Jedi Knight...okay, maybe not the Jedi Knight Career that I made for the Edge of the Empire system.  No, I mean a Jedi Knight costume.

I really wish this was a progress post on my Jedi Shadow costume, but it isn't.  My recent, major setback (in that I've misplaced a box that contained 40% of the costume and over 30 hours of work) has derailed the costume significantly and sapped my motivation to complete it. It's going to be difficult to find the right material for the robe again, and the skirt had over 30 Mylar-thread-embroidered aurebesh runes in it. The thought of doing it all over again (or rather, ask my wife to do it all over again)...well, I'm just not ready for that.

We also made the discovery this week that the wife's good Fiskars shears were in the box too...bollocks.

Changing, Eras

Corran Horn makes
green Jedi robes look good...
I'd really like to get a Jedi done and approved in time for the 5-Year anniversary of the Knights of the Jedi Order group (they're the Jedi "detachment" of the Rebel Legion). I'd also like to finally have a soft costume for the Rebel Legion, so I don't always have to "Represent!" covered in hard, restrictive plastic. So, I've shifted focus for now from the Jedi Shadow and will be working on a generic Jedi costume.

Now, I wouldn't say I push the envelope of approvable costumes and color design, but I certainly want to be unique and interesting in my outfits. Most Jedi are in earth tones, more specifically various shades of brown.  Brown is fine for leather and desert camouflage, but I want something with a little more style.  I'm thinking green, mostly to match the lightsaber hilt I made.  While I don't want to make a pure-green "Corellian Jedi" outfit, I was intrigued by a shade of green I found at the local fabric store. A nice, deep hunter-green that had a darker tone to it.

That's going to be the fabric for the tabards and the obi. Don't let the flash fool you, I swear it's got more earthy tones to it. It's green, but not the GREEN! that the photo presents. It's one of the things that really gets to me about digital photography, and that's how a lot of casual photos (like these) don't really grab colors right. 

My 3-years of college-photo classes is screaming at me to fix it, but I don't have the time for that.  Besides, back then, we worked with this archaic stuff called "film". 

The outer tunic is going to be this fine material. 

It looks like its brown-grey here, but the fabric has a faint mint-green tinge to it (again; stupid digital flash photography).  The pieces have been mapped out, and cut out, based on the recommendations by KJO temple master Roger Allen.  My wife actually drew them out by hand right onto the fabric.  No need for this "tissue paper pattern" tom-foolery for us!  We did a placement fitting of the pieces last night.  The tunic will come down to just above my knee, and the shoulder tabards will come down just beyond that.  I'm designing the shoulder tabards to tapering down to points, so when they're together they make a chevron.  It's a little more style than just having them end at a right angle like a scarf.

The Other Stuff

I have a pair of khakis for my jedi pants (yes, that's what most people wear for Jedi pants.  Works just fine).  I've got the Preacher boots I mentioned last week.  I've got the leather belt, it just needs a fresh coat of dye to make it closer to the boots in the shade of brown.  I think I only need to get the belt accessories (pouches, food capsules, commlink; I need two to get the Formal rating, I believe).

I will eventually make a cloak for this, but that's going to be a little ways off.  Besides, summer is coming.  Last think I want is to put on another layer of clothing.

Lekku Master Molds by Twi'lek Pam

I'm also doing research to get a pair of lekku to be a twi'lek Jedi when the opportunity allows. We keep seeing all these human Jedi in the various bases, and I feel we need more aliens represented. Not a huge fan of a full latex mask, I'm opting for the less-prosthetic wearing alien races. I might also want a set of zabrak horns too, because with my frequently-shaved scalp there's a lot of real estate up there for some good zabrak horns...

Elegant Weaponry For An Elegant Era

It dawns on me that I have yet to talk about my lightsaber.  No, not the double-bladed one I got from Ultrasabers for my Jedi Shadow, I mean my own, custom lightsaber that I mostly built for myself with parts from The Custom Saber Shop.  Back in the summer I decided I wanted to really get this custom lightsaber thing going, and build my own saber.  After all, you can't be a Jedi Knight until you've built your lightsaber.

I poked around with TCSS's java-based saber design program, that utilizes the parts from their "Multi-Hilt System".  It's a fun little program and quite a time sink for making a million lightsabers with.  After some debate I came up with this design.

For six months I had been picking up various parts from TCSS.  As my ebay sales would complete, I'd occasionally pick up a piece of the hilt, or part of the electronics.  I ended up going with a larger pommel, and the switch box is a trapezoid, not a rectangle.  My wiring diagram was poor, and I couldn't get anything to work.  I feared that I fried the sound-card, and the speaker.  Fortunately a trip to my local sabersmith helped me discover that the wiring was wrong, but the sound card and the speaker were fine.  We got it set up and working like a champ.

After throwing the electronics into the hilt, it ended up looking like this...

It's a serious beast of a hilt; almost 16" long.  A bastard sword of lightsabers, it begs for the less flashy styles of sabercombat like Ataru and Makashi, and more for the beatstick end of the spectrum like Djem-so and Juyo.

It's at this time that you can scream "NEEEEEERD!"  It's okay.  I get it a lot.
Serious Fat Nerd is Serious

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Clones, Clovers, and Costumes

It's Thursday, so it must be time for another update to the "Fragments from the Rim" blog.  Much like last week, this week is going to be a varied discussion topic.  I'll be jumping from subject to subject, interest to interest; try to keep up.

One Sore Trooper

The Rebel Legion and 501st Legion prepare to take on Southie

I'd like to say that my sore back and legs are from the monumental troop that is the annual South Boston St. Patrick's Day parade, but I'm sure that digging out my driveway from another foot of snow on Tuesday is a large contributor as well. 

This year's St. Pats parade with the Rebel Legion and 501st was much different from last year.  In 2012 we had temperatures in the 60s, little police presence that I noticed, and large horse droppings to dodge for most of the route.  This year, we had temperatures in the 30s, a large police presence, and all the horse droppings were pretty well scooped (or at least given a good try).  We had more to fear from South Boston's lack of road maintenance than Boston's Finest Pony Patrol; seriously, some of those potholes could have eaten a jawa (and we had a few marching in the parade!)

The one part of the parade that I dislike the most are the drunks.  They're everywhere, and all ages.  They all want to see "Daath Vayda!" and ask "Wheah's Chewie!?".  They want us to pretty much stop the parade so they can get their drunken duck-face photos with a stormtrooper or a rebel pilot.  We try to tell our people to "stay in formation" and keep marching, and only tempt fate to walk the crowds when we've stopped, but some of our number just didn't care for that, and would constantly get left behind as we marched on without them.  I nearly ran over one of our members several times because she would stop short and pose.  This is the one time of the year that the TV "reality" show Southie Rules is accurate; it's the one time when many in South Boston actually do act like the moronic pricks that show portrays folks from Southie to be. 

Even so, the main reason we were there, the kids, loved us.  We got them jumping out of their chairs and off the curb to see us.  They lit up when we came into view, and went nuts for us as we passed.  I love that part of the parade, and as long as those kids are there and respond like that, I'll keep coming back year after year.

Rites of Passage

The St. Patrick's Day Parade holds another place in the hearts of the New England contingent of Star Wars Costumers.  For years, the mentality has been "you haven't trooped until you troop St. Pats".  It's four miles in weather that could be sunny and warm one year, to near blizzard conditions the next.  The only time we haven't trooped it was the year it rained.  A lot.  Vader doesn't react well to heavy rainfall, neither does any other costume.  You're in-costume from 11am to about 4pm.  That's a long time to be in armor, without many chances to even take off your helmet.  You come out of St. Pats appreciating the Library events, where you stand around in armor.  Stadium events where you can pose for 20 minutes and then take a break for another 20.  Heck, even other parades later in the year where you think "Hey, it's 45 degrees out, and only a mile and a half long.  With a slight drizzle.  This is nothing."

Your armor can take a lot of abuse during St. Pats.  Aside from the drunks who try to take home souvenir shoulder bells and thermal detonators, marching four miles can put stress on seams and edges of armor.  My Commander Fil suit got some extensive repirs after Celebration VI last year, but looking at the armor after the parade has me worried.  I'm missing chips from the shin-guards.  My thigh plates are missing pieces too.  The cod and butt plates are trying to stay together along their seam, but storing them the way I have been has not worked well.  I need to permanently afix the two together, since that's how they're stored.

They're made of HIPS (High-Impact Polystyrene), as opposed to ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene).  What's the difference?  To my understanding; detail.  HIPS holds detail a lot easier and better when used in a vaccuform machine.  ABS is a bit stronger, but shows less detail off the mold.  Having made a clone with each type, I can say I was more pleased with the look of the HIPS over the ABS.  It was easier to work with too.  The issue is that the HIPS is starting to wear out, and break down.  Fil is two years old now, and may need replacement parts soon.  Thankfully, the molds are still being used to make suits, so matching replacements might be available.  It's just that it means more money into the suit.

A Softer Choice

I really need to make a Jedi.

I know, I have a SWOTOR Jedi Shadow in the works, but the writing on the wall tells me that costume is likely to sit in it's current state for a while.  In the meantime, I have several items that work for a generic Jedi:
    "Preacher" Boots
    Jedi often preach, right?
  • A pair of boots that Rebel Legion costume judges think will be fine for a more traditional Jedi
  • A pair of khaki pants that I bought specifically to use for a generic Jedi
  • Jedi-style undertunic from a LARP costume
  • Jedi belt that has been stripped of weatherproofing and is ready for dye to match the shade of the boots more closely (was a more natural-leather color)
  • A rack of lightsabers begging to be used for more than just wall art.
The only parts I'm missing for generic Jedi approval in the Rebel Legion is the outer tunic, tabards, obi, and belt accessories (pouches, food capsules, and/or Jedi Communicator).  Theoretically the costume parts of that could be done in a weekend; I'd just have to find the cloth to do it.  The trick is finding it in the color I want.  I'm thinking of a forest green-to-olive shade for the outer tunic, and tan tabards and obi.  I just need to find the fabric. 

Oh, and room in my house to work on it.  That would be spiffy too. 

All Wings Report In

So Erich Shafer and I have been chugging right along with the official Rebel Legion Podcast, All Wings Report In. Seriously, if you're into the Rebel Legion or Star Wars costuming at all, I highly recommend giving it a listen.  You not only get to hear about the Rebel Legion and what we're doing, but we've also started getting more "tips and tricks" segments into the show.  Also, we occasionally get to do interviews with folks in the Star Wars family, like the one we just had with Dee Bradley Baker.  Dee is the voice of the Clones for the entire run of The Clone Wars, and it was a privilege to talk to him the other day.  We split it off from the main episode run, so you can grab the 13 minute interview on it's own if you just want to listen to that.

Otherwise, the show seems to be going well, has a good following, and is continuing to evolve and grow.  Now if only some other folks from the Clone Wars would respond to our interview requests...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pot-Luck Update

Ever have one of those weeks when you find yourself juggling many things all at once?  I'm in the middle of one of those weeks now.  Allow me to elaborate.
  • Got a super-sekrit writing project with Fiddleback from the D20 Radio Forums
  • Got another super-sekrit project I'm working on for April
  • I've come up with a plotline idea for my Another Longshot campaign's series of preludes
  • I'm waiting for a closer weather report to see if I'm wearing the Scout or Commander Fil in this year's South Boston St. Patrick's Day parade. 
  • I got interviewed on Tuesday by a Boston Globe writer along with several other members of the local 501st and Rebel Legions. 
  • I might have a Fragments from the Rim piece to record if the boys are taping the Order 66 Podcast this Sunday. 
  • I definitely have an episode of All Wings Report In that I'm taping this Saturday, and for that I've sent out a bunch of emails with requests for interviews.
  • Oh, and I'm supposed to write something here, that's vaguely Star Wars-y. 
I'm swamped!


Jedi Consulars

Alas, poor Jedi Batlemaster.  I hardly finished yee...
I have to write about a project that's been in the works on and off again fro over a year now.  Many readers may remember that I've been trying to do the costume from the Jedi Consular video.  Sometime between August and now, a box that contained the skirt and blue inner robe has gone missing.  The plan is to tear the house apart this week to try and find it.  I'm skeptical, as I feel we've already looked everywhere it could be.  The Girl is more optimistic, saying "It has to be somewhere".  My fear is that it got taken by someone else by accident at a build day that occurred in September, or worse; left at the in-laws and was thrown out.

Half of what you see here? Gone. 
Photo taken in June of 2012

Honestly, if the skirt and robe can't be found, I'm thinking about killing the project.  I've just lost momentum at this point.  It had so many deadlines that came and went last year; Pax East, Boston ComicCon, Granite State ComicCon, Celebration VI.  I'm a little fed up, frustrated, and just get reminded of missed opportunities when I look at the outfit.  I also look at the work done and feel that it could be better.  I hate the sandals and leg wraps I did, the arm wraps aren't dark enough so they blend in with the shirtsleeves.

 Maybe I'm just getting over critical because the project is late and over budget, and now we may have to rebuild the most tricky and annoying part; the skirt.  The Girl poured 15 hours of work into the bottom hem, embroidering in 26 runes 6" high in Mylar thread.  We blew through...10 spools of the thread?  At $5 each?  And now we may have to do that again, never mind the cost of materials for the skirt and inner robe?  And all those runes we did on the hem of the inner robe have to be done again as well.  Fun.

Yeah, getting snarky and frustrated and put off by the whole thing.  So I don't know, maybe the box will turn up.  Maybe it won't and I kill the project.  Maybe we'll keep it going, given what we have still going right now.


New Beginnnings

The one calming, happy thing that occurred last Thursday (which was why I posted last week's update on Wednesday0 is I married my sweetheart of eight and a half years.  It was a small ceremony, mostly due to the fact that we blew all our wedding budget on home buying and home repairs last August.  We didn't want to wait another year, so we decided to just get married on a day we liked.  3/7/13 has a neat look to it, is easy to remember, so we took it.  Plus that means the first and second anniversaries fall on a Friday and Saturday, so a weekend of marital debauchery can abound!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Forceful Addictions: The Jedi Knight, Part 5

You may have noticed a lack of blog-posting last week.  I went on a much needed vacation with my impending wife-to-be and her son to the land of The Mouse.  I started writing this post on Sunday the 24th at 4:45am in Logan Airport while waiting for my plane to take off.  I thought I could get it done and ready for your enjoyment on the 28th.  Clearly, I was mistaken.

Sorry about that.  Better a week late than not at all, though.

So two weeks ago I wrote about seven of the thirteen Obligations your Jedi could have for an Edge of the Empire campaign.  This week, I'll finish off the list of my suggestions.  Once again, I will be tapping into the resource and additional suggestions presented by Sterling Hershey.  His own blogpost a few weeks ago gave us some great suggestions for Obligations for any character, and helped clarify what could be a minor Obligation and what could be a major one.

Tricky Jedi

We're starting to get into the realm of Obligations that might not be such an obvious fit for a Jedi, but as I wrote in my last post any of these Obligations can work, and work well if you're willing to be a little creative in what the Obligation means.

Addiction: Jedi are typically known for their purity of body and mind.  The idea of a Jedi addicted to a substance isn't a typical one, but it not outside of the realm of possibility.  What's more likely, and dangerous in the long run, is that the Jedi is addicted to something more ethereal.  He could have a compulsion to being a hero, so he will constantly try to leap into danger a every opportunity he can to display his heroism.  He could be addicted to Force use, and will use the Force to solve just about any and every problem he encounters.

She doesn't look so evil with green blades...

A 5-point addiction is one that will come up occasionally, maybe the Jedi can control his urges better and only succumbs if he feels he hasn't had a good opportunity to be heroic.  A 15-point addiction means the Jedi is constantly being bold to the point of recklessness, or using the Force for trivial matters.  The strain from this comes from withdrawals, and from the Jedi's superiors expressing their concern and caution against the Jedi's actions.

Buying down this Obligation means that some of the Master's concerns are sinking in, and the Jedi starts acting more responsibly.  If the Jedi doesn't work to reduce this Obligation, he could incur an additional Dutybound or Responsibility obligation, or possibly a Betrayal one if they get expelled from the Jedi Order because of it.

Betrayal: This is the first Obligation that gives me pause; it's a tricky one for a Jedi to have, but not impossible.  What if the Jedi was an heir to a noble title and land, like Count Dooku.  If the character's family lost their standing because of the character joining the order, there may be relatives who blame the Jedi and wish to extract some form of revenge.  The Jedi could have informed on a fellow student who was doing dangerous things, like trying to access the Sith Holocrons in the Jedi Temple.  The student could have been expelled from the Jedi, and is now looking for some payback.  What if the Jedi's former Master betrayed the Jedi and left the Order, and now the PC is trying to make amends for their masters actions and working to bring their Master to justice?

I'll never forgive him for killing Mara...

Blackmail: Someone has something on your Jedi.  Maybe you engaged in an illicit affair with someone, and someone else found out about it.  That sort of thing could get you a reprimand if it's a small obligation, or expelled from the Order if it's a severe Obligation.  Your Jedi could have a nasty track record of Using the Force to get his way, through improper use of Mind Tricks or a tenacity for Force Choking people.  What if someone like a holonews reporter recorded it, and now wants to use you to get inside information on the goings on in the Jedi Temple?  The reduction of this Obligation could be the Jedi doing something that cancels out the obligation, or destroying the evidence the other party has.  They could even reveal their secret, thus removing the Blackmail obligation and replacing it with another.

 Bounty: One of my favorites, because it will inevitably and likely lead to someone in heavy body armor and a jetpack rocketing in out of nowhere and opening fire on the Jedi.  This is also a step up from the "Crime" obligation from last post, where not only has the Jedi offended some local personage or law, but so severely that they now have a bounty on their heads.  It could also mean that the Jedi is so good at her role as Protector of the Republic that some criminal organization has decided they'd be better off without her as a foil to their enterprises.

Debt and Favor:  These two almost go hand in hand, so I'll cover them both at the same time.  A Jedi rarely needs money, but you could be stuck on some Outer Rim dustball with a broken hyperdrive, and maybe your attempt to bet on the local podrace went not as expected.  Or perhaps you cut out the preamble of gambling and borrow the funds needed on credit. 

Depending on the Era, a Debt Obligation might not last very long before turning into some other obligation.  If the Jedi Council is still around, they might be able to wipe out the debt entirely, with the cost being the placement of additional obligations on the character.  If the Jedi Council isn't around, or isn't as economically solvent as they are during the Golden Age of the Republic, a Debt obligation could stick around for quite some time, or quickly turn into a Favor obligation if the Jedi cannot pay.  You're much more likely to get a Jedi to honor their debts by exchange for services rather than get credits out of them, but sometimes getting a Jedi to look in on your issues can be worth the debt.

High Obligation, Low Obligation

Edge of the Empire says that a low party obligation means that criminals might not talk to you, but reputable people will, and a high party obligation means the opposite.  How can this be explained by a Jedi in the party factoring into this matter?  It might not have to.  I could see a Gm granting a reduction to the effective Group Obligation total of 10 or 20 if the person trying to do the talking is the Jedi.  I could also see it not working differently at all.  A Jedi with a high Obligation party may be seen as too fanatic to the Order (Dutybound or Responsibility) or too much of a politically liability (Crime, Bounty, Betrayal).  Criminal elements may be intrigued why someone with the Jedi's reputation wants to speak to them, or feel the Jedi possesses qualities they can exploit, which explains their willingness to speak to Jedi groups with a high Obligation.

Just about finished...

This might be the last post for the Jedi Career until the Edge of the Empire core rulebook comes out, rumored to arrive sometime in April.  Then I'll go back and update the Talent Trees if need-be based on what changes FFG made to the talents.  Until then I've got some costuming to do and a special project I'm working on with my former podcasting co-host, Fiddleback.  Should be an interesting and exciting spring!