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Lit The 12 thefts of the Death Star Plans: How a Continuity error wasn't actually an error.

Discussion in 'Literature' started by TheMastersSkywalker, Nov 1, 2022.

  1. TheMastersSkywalker

    TheMastersSkywalker Jedi Padawan

    Registered:
    Jan 5, 2020
    Well it wasn't 12 it was really only 7. Though actually it was only 1. What I mean by that is their has only ever been one canonical story of how the Death Star plans Leia receives were stolen in Legends with everything else being either non-canon or an addition *to* the existing story. And it revolves around the phrase "Operation Skyhook"

    **TLDR: Operation Skyhook has been around since the origional Audio Drama. Dark Forces came before Rebel Dawn and are connected by a lore book released the same year. The only two canon games that followed have the plans stolen but not make it to the Tantive IV (Battlefront II) or have the character not be looking for them and end up finding them but not sending them off (Lethal Alliance). So in universe their was always the plan to try different routes for the plans and out of universe everything fits because of a 1998 lore book.**


    So the start of my journey into the first usage of "Operation Skyhook" appearing in relation to multiple ongoing attempts by the Rebellion to steal the Death Star plans started with A Guide to the Star Wars Universe (2ed, 1994) which is a really interesting book in its self. Its a early version of the Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia that came out in 2008. Given its age its based on information mainly from the RPG books, galaxy guides, and what few novels and lore books were out at the time. Its honestly amazing how close to what we ended up getting in the PT the entries for things like Palpatine, Anakin (mention of molten pit), and the Republic are. Its also got things that would later on be considered non canon like the old Marvel comics or the red bacta I've mentioned before. but its a really interesting look at the beginning of the EU. Boba Fett has a unknown connection to the Mandalorians who aren't a race but just a group. Bevel Lemelisk and Despayre and Topwara are all mentioned as well as references to things from the audio drama and other bits of info that had Padme going with Leia to Alderaan before dying. The Audio Drama is really important as it was considered to be up there with the movies in importance and added a lot of things, like the Rebels on Toprawa beaming a message to Leia on the Tantive IV while its under attack. A plot that gets used again in Rogue One.

    But the one thing it doesn't have is Operation Skyhook. Wook just puts any mention of the Death Star plans being stolen as being a mention of the operation so this isn't it. However the Toprawa entry does say it was " The Alliance's initial hiding place for the Death Star's technical readouts. These plans were stolen by Rebel forces during a raid on an Imperial convoy that was taking them to a secret Imperial storage base" and is taken from the National Public Radio Dramatizations which is marked with the rebellion symbol which denotes coming from a original lucasfilm source (as opposed to the NR symbol that indicates its from officially licensed sources) So on to the next section. I know the word Skyhook isn't used till Dark Forces but I wanted to see what stuff predating the game said.

    Second stop is Star Wars Encyclopedia (1998) which has a really nice forward by Zahn and a nice opening by Sansweet that talks about canon levels, publishing making sure everything fits together, and that the book is set as a in-universe text. Its always nice to be reminded that even back in the early 90's publishing was doing its best to make a interconnected universe that built off each other instead of over each other. Pablo even gets a mention in this book though he's just a WEG author at this point. By this point the timeline given matches up exactly with the movies. Dark Forces has been out for three years so the word Operation Skyhook has been used in it. The book was also published two months after Rebel Dawn where we see the troops on Toprawa sending the DS plans to Leia. Given the date and the small info on PT era stuff I think their might have been some top down notes about not saying much that would be changed in a year. This book has some really nice art and interesting entries. Also we for Boba have it giving his concord dawn background but just saying that Jaster could have been his birth name or an identity he took on. Even the "since the clone wars" comment isn't wrong since we see Boba do so in TCW. But we're off track again.

    So the entry for Kyle Katarn connects his game to the Toprwara mission by saying that the information he stole on Danuta was sent to Toprawa where it was beamed to Leia's ship. No mention of Operation Skyhook but it connects the Rebel Dawn and Dark Force Rising story. The entries for Danuta and Toprawa also say the same thing. But then we get to the word Skyhook and we have found it. "Skyhook: A code-name, it stood for the secret Alliance operation that sent the Tantive IV to retrieve the technical readouts of the Death Star Battlestation." And its credited as being from the radio drama.

    So BAM there it is. Its not a retcon created after the plans were stolen fifteen times. But instead something that was from the Radio drama and was used the year Rebel Dawn was released to tie it and Dark Forces both to the movie. So this long running "Continuity Error" isn't really an error I guess lmao.

    But what about the ones that come after that. Well obviously we can all connect them to this one lore book here but I'm still interested in seeing where else it was stolen and if those events are mentioned anywhere outside the games. First off a short refresher on canon levels Leland Chee, known as the Keeper of the Holocron, has stated that the "Story is S [canon], but locations, characters, and technology are C [canon]." with S canon being things that are only considered canon if mentioned elsewhere while C canon is assumed canon no matter what. So in other words unless a book, comic, movie, or tv show references the story elements of a game or RPG book its not considered to have actually happened. Which will be important in a moment.

    In 1993 X-Wing came out. Great game with a lot of interesting lore and ships and missions that would later be mentioned outside the game. However its mission to steal the death star plans (Which takes place in space and deals with attacking a Imperial convoy and taking the plans to the Tantive IV) was never mentioned outside of the game and wasn't considered canon by any other work. So this part of the game is just fun little thing for fans to take part in. Much like in the 2006 Empire at War game which has a number of fun missions that cant actually happen even just based on the movies themselves. Though interestingly it has had parts referenced in the NEU. So those two are out.

    In fact the 1993 X-wing game and the 1993 Rebel Assualt games are both interesting for having plots where the PC is the one to blow up the Death Star and having a lot of stuff wrong with them story wise but still end up contributing a lot to Legends and Canon by way of ships, locations, and flavor text.

    Next up we have two RPG game missions. Now RPG Guides are never canon, not then and not now, things may be taken from them but the events aren't canon just because they are in the guide. Which means the events in the Kyle Katarn's Tale and Jedi Dawn are not canon. Though interestingly the main character in Jedi Dawn does get added later on to be one of the troopers at Toprawa. Kind of like people do with Rex and Nik Saint. So that's another two down.

    That leaves us with three events left. Two of which are canon and one which is non-canon. The non-canon one is Battlefront Elite Squadrons for the PSP/NDS. Its main characters and whole story are never mentioned anywhere outside the game itsself. The game came out in 2009 so how much is due to the buy out and how much is due to the games lack of popularity is unclear. But as far as the lore books that came out between then and the sale it never happened.

    The other two are Star Wars Battlefront II 2005 where a group of Rebel troopers attack the Death Star to free some prisoners and during that escape with a set of the Death Star plans and are tracked to Polis Masa and are killed. The Rebels are able to send off the data but to where and if it was connected to the Tantive IV are unclear. This mission is also mentioned in the Death Star novel so it is canon.

    The second one is in Lethal Alliance in 2006 where a Twilek Bounty Hunter who ends up chasing down the Death Star plans to Danuta. it is stated in the game that the plans that appear there are the updated plans that the architects on Danuta requested. So not the original plans, and the game doesn't end with her sending the plans to anyone.

    So yeah when we look at it its a pretty clear line. The Radio Drama gave the background for Operation Skyhook which was used in Dark Forces and Rebel Dawn for its plotline and were connected to each other in a lore book released that same year. Then we have the addition of a group of rebels in BFII trying to rescue prisoners and steal the plans and they get killed with it being unclear if their plans got to the troopers. And finally we have Lethal Alliance where the main character was hired for a job by Kyle Katarn and isn't even hunting for the Death Star blueprints to begin with.

    **TLDR: Operation Skyhook has been around since the origional Audio Drama. Dark Forces came before Rebel Dawn and are connected by a lore book released the same year. The only two canon games that followed have the plans stolen but not make it to the Tantive IV (Battlefront II) or have the character not be looking for them and end up finding them but not sending them off (Lethal Alliance). So in universe their was always the plan to try different routes for the plans and out of universe everything fits because of a 1998 lore book.**
     
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  2. CosmoHender

    CosmoHender Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 2, 2016
    There are still contradictions though.

    The Death Star novel has the plans being stolen from Danuta and Princess Leia being captured before the destruction of Desparye, while in Lethal Alliance Rianna Saren contacted the Princess after the destruction of Desparye and informed her about the plans being held on Danuta.
     
  3. SheaHublin

    SheaHublin Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Feb 15, 2008
    The classic Mercenaries game has the Death Star Plans as one of the hidden collectables:

    https://eeggs.com/items/48067.html

    ...I remember getting such a kick when I happened upon them in the game!
     
  4. Noash_Retrac

    Noash_Retrac Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 14, 2006
    So, only the radio drama, four novels and Lethal Alliance really would be considered the Legends canon events and not the games which, while great for fleet junkies and fighter jockey wannabes, were somewhat contradictory when it comes to Luke Skywalker's role in these events?
     
  5. ColeFardreamer

    ColeFardreamer Force Ghost star 5

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    Nov 24, 2013
    Interesting analysis but it feels... off. Discarding sources because they are games. Sure canon levels and all, but it also lacks to mention some other related stories about the Death Star plans. So I'd they this study is incomplete and rushes to a conclusion that is interesting but only supported by some, not all material.

    But thx for reminding us of some interesting details and going back to original sources rather than wook. Definitely some good intel in there about the games and who/what mentioned what else that one easily forgets in a heavily retconned world.
     
  6. RogueWhistler

    RogueWhistler Jedi Knight star 3

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    Aug 9, 2021
    Video game stories were a part of continuity, just not when they conflicted with higher canon. The events of X-Wing and Rebel Assault did happen, but neither Rookie One or Keyan Farlander destroyed the Death Star. I don't think there's any reason to throw out Jedi Dawn or Kyle Katarn's Tale, either - they're heavily based on the radio drama and Dark Forces, so any contradictions in them are a part of continuity anyway.

    The theft of the Death Star plans seen in X-Wing actually is mentioned in the endnotes for The New Essential Chronology, which ties it in to the battle of Toprawa. The details don't match up, since X-Wing''s plans are delivered by shuttle rather than beamed aboard, but there was some effort to make them fit.

    The Danuta-Toprawa connection comes from the first Dark Forces novella, and ties together the radio/Rebel Dawn and Dark Forces versions of events reasonably well, but my understanding is that Death Star and Lethal Alliance caused more problems by referencing other stories in a way that didn't actually fit their events.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2022
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  7. Chris0013

    Chris0013 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 21, 2014
    Looking at Legends you can't help but wonder how many sets of plans were floating around out there.

    And how many times the crew of the Rand Ecliptic mutinied.
     
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  8. CosmoHender

    CosmoHender Jedi Master star 4

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    Dec 2, 2016
    Regarding the Rand Ecliptic munity, I believe there are only two conflicting versions of the event: the short story "Munity on the Rand Ecliptic" and the comic story arc "Darklighter".
     
  9. Calbar

    Calbar Jedi Padawan

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    May 23, 2020
    I looked up this quote from Leland Chee. It can be found on the Rebel Assault Wookie page, where it states that this is in answer to the question "Does this include Star Wars: Episode I: Racer/Battlefront I". It is not how EU canonicity was applied to broadly videogames. It is in response to a question about one game whose scenarios are clearly apocryphal (Anakin was not racing around the galactic podracing circuit) and a game with no storyline, that features battles that are arena representations of much larger battles.

    And in fact, according to the Wookiepedia page on canon, the stories of videogames are c-canon, and it is only the game mechanics that are not. Therefore, you cannot dismiss the stories of videogames if they throw up inconvenient contradictions.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2022
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  10. Chris0013

    Chris0013 Jedi Grand Master star 4

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    May 21, 2014
    I could have sworn there were more than the two.
     
  11. RogueWhistler

    RogueWhistler Jedi Knight star 3

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    Aug 9, 2021
    It's only those two, but the short story version also made an appearance in the X-Wing Rogue Squadron comics.
     
  12. TalonCard

    TalonCard •Author: Slave Pits of Lorrd •TFN EU Staff star 5 VIP

    Registered:
    Jan 31, 2001
    It's worth noting too that Operation Skyhook is mentioned in Dark Forces itself, in the message from Mon Mothma headlined "Operation Skyhook: Phase Two"--the more explicit retcon comes from the Soldier for the Empire novella, but I suppose it must have been there from the beginning to acknowledge the radio drama events in a handwaving sort of way.

    I don't think it's quite correct to say that RPG guides were never canon in Legends; I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss Jedi Dawn either. It's not an RPG guide; it's more of a choose-your-own-adventure prose narrative with some RPG elements, so it has more in common with a novel than a guidebook. It also adds to the Toprawa narrative as presented in the radio drama; it's not a completely contradictory version of the Death Star plan events. The whole story is set on Toprawa. The plans that the hero is out to steal here are for the superlaser, and are said to be a necessary addition to the plans already seized from the Imperial convoy in the radio drama. This battle is seen early on in the adventure by Havet Storm, though at a distance as he is on the ground at the time.

    And to clarify, the reason we know Havet Storm, the main character, is one of the troopers at Toprawa is because at the end of the adventure the dialogue between Havet and Leia is the same as the dialogue between Leia and a previously unidentified voice on the other end of the Toprawa transmission in the radio drama--the retcon is from Jedi Dawn itself showing the other side of the radio conversation, not a much later (headcanon) retcon as seems to be the case with Rex and Nik Saint.

    Yep. Depending on how you interpret this, it could mean that the events on Danuta in Lethal Alliance have to occur during ANH; Kyle Katarn just stuck around on Danuta and was still there to help Rianna in her mission to secure the updated plans. Not sure if that makes it less or more complicated. [face_laugh]

    So the endnotes say "The convoy assault that secured the Death Star plans over Toprawa was playable in the computer game X-wing (1992, LucasArts), and like many player accomplishments in that game, that victory is attributed to the proxy character, Keyan Farlander." I don't recall any mention of Toprawa in the game itself, was that attached to a previously unspecified convoy mission? I was under the impression that the only source to actually show the battle of Toprawa was Jedi Dawn (again, at a distance.)

    (That's long been a pet peeve of mine, that while contradictory stories about the Death Star plan theft continued to be told, the original theft of the plans at Toprawa took place entirely offscreen, which means literally any character or story an author or game designer cared to invent could have been directly inserted into the preestablished event.)

    That's true. Death Star suggests that the plans on Danuta (from Dark Forces) were sent there in secret by one of the characters in the novel, as it was an out of the way station he used to work at and maintained a secret database there to store interesting Imperial data. It's not explained in the novel how the Rebels even found out about the plans in this scenario, since he didn't intend for them to fall into Rebel hands.

    The Soldier for the Empire novel and RPG materials depict the Danuta facility as one involved in the Death Star's design, so if you take both sources at face value the Death Star character randomly sent the plans to a facility that he used to work at and was now by, by complete coincidence and unbeknownst to him, involved in designing the same battlestation he is currently stationed on.

    It then went on to state that the Danuta plans were sent to Darkknell and finally to Toprawa. The Toprawa reference is okay, since it's assumed that's where the Danuta plans ended up anyway. (However, the convoy mission to secure the other set of plans from the Radio Drama goes unmentioned.) The Darkknell reference is tied to the earlier short story Interlude at Darkknell, which featured some unspecified Death Star related data, heavily implied to be the Death Star plans. The Essential Chronology had already retconned this data into the location of the Despayre construction site, so its inclusion here was unnecessary. Not long after the Death Star novel came out, The Force Unleashed necessitated moving Interlude at Darkknell to a time period during the game or earlier anyway, further muddying the waters. :p As TheMastersSkywalker points out, the novel also referenced the events of Battlefront II, but in a very dismissive way that doesn't touch on that game's version of the theft.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2022
  13. RogueWhistler

    RogueWhistler Jedi Knight star 3

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    Aug 9, 2021
    It's not entirely clear to me what Wallace is suggesting. Keyan Farlander identifies and defends the Tantive IV as the DS plans are delivered to Leia by shuttle in Ops 11 and 12 of X-Wing's second tour of duty. I don't think the location is specified, so it could be Toprawa, but there's no sign of a "convoy assault". In the game, the plans were intercepted by a satellite in the Cron Drift (which is nowhere near Toprawa, right?) a few Ops earlier with no involvement from Farlander, or any combat at all.

    It's definitely strange that so many DS plan stories ignore the "Rebel spaceships". Like Toprawa/Scarif being the Alliance's first victory, it sort of got brushed under the rug despite being one of the very first things established in the saga.
     
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  14. ColeFardreamer

    ColeFardreamer Force Ghost star 5

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    Nov 24, 2013
    I do wonder how one can string together a flightpath for the Tantive IV to go from Scarif to Tatooine via several stops to intercept more transmissions/shuttle/plans. All while hunted by Vader and the Devastator, defended by Rebel pilots here and there, etc.

    One hell of a journey!

    Or are we to assume it took on already partial plan sets before Scarif and before being towed into the cruisers hangar for repairs due to that previous journey?
     
  15. CosmoHender

    CosmoHender Jedi Master star 4

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    Dec 2, 2016
    I think the former may be more likely, especially if we take the events of "Resurrection" (from Star Wars Tales) into consideration.
     
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  16. TOD-UK

    TOD-UK Jedi Grand Master star 3

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    Mar 4, 2002
    So I’ve been working on my timeline in this era for a while now, and although I’m away from my notes right now here are some interesting points:
    Chapter 7 of Soldier For The Empire is explicitly stated to be 6 days after chapter 6. Enough time for Kyle to be sent in his first mission, essentially delivering a mission brief to Rianna on Coruscant?
    There’s also a 5 day trip to Danuta mid way into chapter 7 that also gives us a bit more space to play with.
    In Jedi Dawn, if you choose a path that allows for a couple of ‘sleeps’ then the whole story takes place over 3 days (less than that seemed a lot of action in a short space of time to me), with the plans being transmitted on day 3
    I’ve also got the destruction of Despayre as happening within the timeframe of ANH, but I haven’t finished working my way through Lethal Alliance yet so haven’t got to the Despayre cutscene
    I’ve recently broken down every piece of medium in this era. Games- level by level, comics-page by page, books- chapter by chapter (sometimes paragraph) to really try to nail down the most definitive timeline of ‘seen’ events
     
  17. TalonCard

    TalonCard •Author: Slave Pits of Lorrd •TFN EU Staff star 5 VIP

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    Jan 31, 2001
    Nice! I'd love to see that breakdown!

    There's also this obscure comic from the UK, which has a slightly different version of events involving Red Squadron and a Rebel Spy. Could be worked into either Jedi Dawn or Battlefront II's version of events, though I doubt all of the story points here went through official channels for approval.
     
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  18. RogueWhistler

    RogueWhistler Jedi Knight star 3

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    Aug 9, 2021
    I've seen that strip before, is it officially licensed?
    Fitting it with Jedi Dawn might be tricky, since "Havet Storm" is seemingly killed. Did Red Hand Squadron have any starfighter elements?
     
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  19. TOD-UK

    TOD-UK Jedi Grand Master star 3

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    Mar 4, 2002
    Havet definitely doesn’t die during Jedi Dawn
     
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  20. TOD-UK

    TOD-UK Jedi Grand Master star 3

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    Mar 4, 2002
    I think with that strip it’s easier to split the two narratives. The main x-wing panel could actually refer to the earlier attack on the Death Star, while still at Despayre, that happens in the DS novel (although that wasn’t a victory), while the bottom left panel could refer to Operation Skyhook
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2022
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  21. TOD-UK

    TOD-UK Jedi Grand Master star 3

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    Mar 4, 2002
    I’ll drop you a PM, it’s not ready for a general release yet
     
  22. TalonCard

    TalonCard •Author: Slave Pits of Lorrd •TFN EU Staff star 5 VIP

    Registered:
    Jan 31, 2001
    Ooh, interesting suggestion there. I also think there's no particular reason why Red Squadron couldn't have offered support during the Battle of Toprawa before escaping to hyperspace as shown here and suggested in Dan Wallace's endnotes (although this seems to have its roots in a misinterpretation of the X-Wing levels.) I think the Rebel spy who is killed here may match Havet's contact Vermillion in broad strokes; IIRC Havet stepped in at the last minute to transmit the plans after he was killed in at least one version of the story, so between panels here.

    I have no idea of the licensing situation there; it seems like there must have been some kind of approval as it was in a pretty high profile UK magazine with lots of publicity for the film.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2022
  23. Lord Sith Harloxzz

    Lord Sith Harloxzz Jedi Master star 4

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    Jun 27, 2016
    For me Kyle Katarn and Rianna Saren stole the Death Star Plans in Legends
     
  24. QuinlanSolo

    QuinlanSolo Jedi Knight star 1

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    Jun 17, 2019
    Pardon the OneCanon framing, but do we have to choose? ;)

     
  25. TOD-UK

    TOD-UK Jedi Grand Master star 3

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    Mar 4, 2002
    So I’ve just got to ‘that’ scene of Lethal Alliance, and j just can’t see any way to make it work
     
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