I need to tell you how I came to be standing on a strange oceanic planet, being asked by a complete stranger to murder people all around the galaxy. And why I had a smile on my face.
"Get over it," I told Mission, the 14-year-old Twi'lek who had joined my party. She was confiding in me about the horror of her home planet being utterly destroyed. The Sith had completely obliterated the population of Taris, countless millions had been slaughtered, and everything she had ever known or loved, beyond one Wookiee, was gone. Move on, whiny child.
Continuing my mission to play through BioWare's Knights of the Old Republic making only the most awful, spiteful and abhorrent choices available at every turn, letting a kid know her concerns over mass genocide were of no import whatsoever was now second nature. My character, Simon Evil, had an alignment deep in the red. A character screen, detailing your current levels and abilities, shows an image of your Jedi against a background that reflects their position within the Force. You begin with a white glow of neutrality, shifting toward either blue or red depending upon your actions and behaviour. Simon was already standing against a deep red after just one planet. He had already done some terrible, terrible things. Dismissing Mission's grief - whatever.
So far it had been remarkably difficult. My conscience, refusing to accept the, "But it's just a game, what you do doesn't matter" logic, had been screaming in horror at some of the imaginary actions and words I'd been using against these imaginary people. But so far I'd only been on one planet, and it was now time to unleash Simon on the rest.
After the destruction of Taris, Bastilla, the Jedi in the party, insisted that I travel to Dantooine, where a Council of Jedis wished to speak to me. Simon, it appears, is extremely strong in the Force, and during the continuing conflict with the Sith they're keen to train up whoever they can get.
Dantooine isn't just a Jedi training camp. It's home to many people to screw over in some pretty elaborate ways. But training comes first, and Simon was quick to pass the (rather silly) qualifying tasks. He becomes a Jedi "Guardian". With a display of stupidity comparable to handing out whiskey and guns in a prison, Simon Evil was given a lightsaber.
Actually, there's one detail that needs to be highlighted about the Jedi training. One of the tasks given to me was to investigate the source of a Dark corruption that was causing the nearby wildlife to viciously attack the locals. Most of the way through the Jedi training dialogue, you're very limited to giving goody-two-shoes responses. This particular trial was Simon's opportunity to express himself properly. Exploring the surrounding countryside I eventually found an enclave occupied by a frenzied, rogue Jedi, Juhani. The source of the corruption, she needed to be dealt with somehow. I can't remember how this worked the first time I played through the game, back when I was a shining force for the Light, but I think she might have tragically killed herself. No such chance this time. At the slightest sign of her showing remorse, I took my chance to declare I was going to kill her for no given reason.
There's a weird flaw in KOTOR that's highlighted when you play this way. The two members of your party you've chosen to bring with you will splurt and bluster their disgust at your behaviour, but when it comes to the battle itself, they join in with gusto. The simpering idiot Rebel soldier, Carth Onasi, will throw his moral weight around until the game enters combat mode, and then his regular battle barks appear. "You asked for this!" he shouts at the weak, miserable Jedi who's only desperate for help. I put this down to my corrupting influence. There are two far more awful things I did on Dantooine, however, far beyond murdering Juhani and then successfully lying to the Council about it. First was the woman with the droid.
Before I started this project, this was the moment I was thinking about. I remembered some of the options I'd never have dared to pick before, and as I was installing the game I was thinking about this moment. This woman, Elise, has lost her husband. After his death she has been distraught, grieving, and unable to move on. Unable in a really creepy way. Her husband built droids, and had created one in particular to look after the family. One who had now gone missing, only exacerbating her grief. She explained that he vanished from the home without any signs of a break-in, and she's convinced he's been kidnapped. First she loses her husband, and now her only companion.