Satkia Wayne, née Beltrak, is the first character I created when joining SWRPG in July 2008. There was no hesitation that she would be a Jedi looking like Gillian Anderson and Mara Jade (Anderson’s character Dana Scully in the X-Files and Mara Jade have both been role models for me when I grew up and are still strong inspirations to me even now). Satkia could be considered a Mary Sue by some, because the fierce redhead who can steal traits from her writer goes back to my first novel, a dark fantasy piece still unpublished to this day. I had carried this character with me for a long while and it naturally led to Satkia be my first character on the board. Satkia eventually got a third claim associated: Marvel’s Black Widow.
The irony is that the only other – and very brief – attempt at roleplaying that I did – in the Farscape universe – was with a character named Satkia Telkis, also using Gillian Anderson. She was a ruthless Peacekeeper officer. While the character didn’t last long under this guise, it eventually served me to create another Star Wars roleplay character, my Empress Tatiana Renkl.
Why I think that Satkia Wayne isn’t a Mary Sue is because she always had defects; and even as I conceived her, I wanted to give her things I don’t. Do I have a strong connection to this character who has remained some kind of main alt after six years? Of course, but seeing the connection stem from both how her development fascinated me and how she stole elements from me without a warning at times (which happened with many of my characters), made the process extremely organic. This is why I don’t consider Satkia a Mary Sue and yet don’t mind if some people who know me well think of her like that, because she is a very layered character. I personally believe that incorporating elements of our own self as writers in our characters is something extremely natural, either on a conscious or unconscious level. To me a problem only arises if a potential Mary Sue becomes too perfect and too annoying, but this phenomenon doesn’t even require an actual Mary Sue and can happen through different types of characters.
Wanting to write a Jedi was kind of common choice. I had always played my character light side in Knights of the Old Republic, and she was called Satkia, which is where the name comes from, while Beltrak originates from another of my original stories. Beyond the name and face, there were a few things that were at the core of the creation process. I didn’t want her to come from a fancy planet and was drawn to Nar Shaddaa, the shady world controlled by the Hutts. I loved the idea of showing that beyond the general ideas and cliché, there were good people on this planet, who didn’t necessarily chose a life of crime. Even now that she is a Jedi Master, Satkia still has a great fondness for the planet.
Another planet normally not associated with positive elements that is very special to Satkia is Mustafar. She has always felt that this planet protected her. Not only did she make peace with her twin sister’s death there, through a vision, but twice she faced lethal threats and survived.
I had no idea when I started her that she would eventually become one of the sword masters of the Jedi Order, with proficiency in all forms, including Vaapad, nor that she would wield regular lightsabers, dual bladed ones and even light whips. She didn’t develop a strong inclination for this until she was a Jedi Knight. She very much surprised me with this, just as her love for elemental skills did, with her predilection for fire. She always was into mechanics and flying ships but she wasn’t lightsaber oriented. I still don’t understand why some of my characters love becoming combat experts when this is the most difficult type of writing to do for me.
Limb losses are a common pattern in Star Wars, which is why I am careful not to overdo it with characters and go for different health problems or grave injuries if I choose them to have some. In Satkia’s case, she had part of her internal organs upgraded after heavy battles, inducing permanent alterations to her diet for example. She also suffered from fertility issues cause by two different set of wounds, and even with technology and Jedi healing, she had little chance to conceive a second child, though it will eventually happen – which causes a risky pregnancy.
With Satkia learning and teaching so much about lightsaber combat, I now can demonstrate (things that doesn’t require the Force to exist at least!) a lot from the different forms, which isn’t a skill you put on a resume, but that makes me feel somewhat (and nerdily) accomplished, just as I enjoy knowing the Force skills Jedi can learn on this forum by heart! Satkia is one of my two primary teacher roleplaying characters and I know that it taught me a lot about adjusting to students, besides my writing craft. She has trained or mentored more than thirty pupils and it has been quite challenging! I find it fascinating when writing also spread out to other skills both because of research and actual writing.
While I don’t pretend that my characters can’t have a “larger than life” dimension, I find it important that they have weaknesses. For Satkia, it was her blatant lack of healing skills. Given that this is an emblematic skills for the Jedi Order, I found this all the more interesting to give this to her. Between that, her fierce personality and how she had ties to Dark Siders (and some former ones) most of her life, it made it enjoyable to have her never stray from the light side, despite when some other characters (or writers) believed that she was a solid candidate to be tempted by the dark side. She never even flirted with darkness. It wasn’t the kind of conflict that interested me to her, not the kind that felt right. She had to juggle with the loss of her twin sister, their mother wishing that it had been said sister who had survived, and several other losses. Finding her strength in these dark hours and how she could keep going was more fascinating to me than having her turn dark. She could have been a great villain, but it never was the suitable choice for her, though I understand what she could have been.
I support the term of “strong women” because I believe that this label is still needed and that there are many forms of strength, that don’t necessarily go rely on the physical. I consider Satkia a strong woman, but not simply because she has become a combat expert. She was this way before this development and is strong for many reasons. She is a teacher, a leader – who also supported the now reformed alliance between Jedi and New Republic, a mother and much more: she is her own person. She stood up for her conviction no matter whether captured by high ranked imperials or when deciding not to apologize for having found love with a former Sith Master who still held that position when they turned a long friendship into something different. And this strength also resides in admitting when she was wrong and that she still has things to learn, no matter the rank she holds. Just as the Jedi Code says: “Ignorance, yet knowledge.”
- How can your role models influence your character creation process?
- How much of yourself tends to be found in your characters? Do certain elements tend to show up more than others, no matter the type of characters?
- What do you think about strong female characters?