Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Second Thoughts

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The founders of our country included the right to bear arms in the Constitution's Bill of Rights. That 18th century decision has serious, often tragic, and too-frequently horrific repercussions in the world we live in today. It is past time to consider the text, meaning, limitations, and implications of an amendment that, for better and worse, still has its hold on us today.

It was included as a bulwark against tyranny, as protection against internal and external powers that threatened the fledgling Republic. The founders were suspicious of standing armies and, having just won a war with them, felt that the individual states' citizen militias were indeed necessary for the security of a free country.

Beyond authorizing state militias, the amendment states that "the right of the people to keep and and bear arms shall not be infringed". Keep. This implies ownership and that the 2nd amendment confers rights upon individuals as well.

On first consideration, the 2nd amendment appears to be quite broad in scope, and specifies a sincere restriction on governmental gun control. On further inspection, we can see the limitations.

We relied on armed militias at the nation's founding. But things have changed. The stated premise of the amendment is no longer relevant or true. Armed, citizen militias are not necessary to the security of the state. More often they are a threat to it. The US has a substantial and very well equipped standing army that is perfectly capable of protecting the nation and projecting power abroad. The old state militias have been folded into a National Guard that is funded, armed, deployed by, and effectively under the control of the federal government. It is no longer the case that a well regulated militia is necessary to have a free country.

Even if the premise is no longer valid, the amendment can still have force. It's text still holds meaning. It confers a right but, like all Constitutional rights, it is subject to limitation.

There is already a consensus agreement that citizens do not have the right to own any weapons they may desire. Explosives, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and all manner of military equipment, are banned from private ownership. It is illegal to own these things because we recognize that there are obvious, practical limitations to the 2nd amendment. Allowing everyone to access the means of mass murder and wanton destruction is a threat to a free society. It is not required by our constitution. There is ample precedent for restricting weaponry simply because of its lethality and destructive capacity.

There is also precedent for controlling not only what weapons are available, but who may have them. Guns are designed for the purpose of killing other people. We can lawfully attempt to keep them out of the hands of dangerous individuals. Felons, fugitives, and convicted domestic abusers are currently prohibited from owning guns. This list could be expanded. People are rightfully aghast that someone being investigated for terrorism ties can still lawfully purchase a semi-automatic rifle.

The Bill of Rights was intended to place limitations on the powers of the federal government. Typically, its restrictions apply to the states as well. Freedom of speech is protected against actions by both state and federal legislatures. The 2nd amendment is the exception. And the exception is written into the amendment itself. The militias were state entities. The amendment plainly states that they are to be well regulated. It's a straightforward reading of the text to see that it does place limitations on federal regulation of firearms. It is also clear that the amendment confers not only the right, but the obligation of the states to regulate access to weapons. Mental gymnastics are required to read the phrase "well regulated" and conclude that it means unregulated. The 2nd amendment gives states the authority to regulate firearms as they see fit.

The second amendment prohibits the federal government from fully disarming the states and their citizens. It does not prohibit a national ban on military weapons that can be used to commit murder on a massive scale. It does not stop us from enacting stronger background checks and keeping deadly arms out of the hands dangerous and unstable people. It does not mean that the states can not regulate guns to any extent that they desire, including creating a total ban. We can create gun-free states.

Honoring our constitution does not require inaction after each horrific slaughter. It is not true that there is nothing we can do. That is our choice. We can make a different one.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Breeding a Love of Board Games

I’m an avid gamer. So, with my own children, I launched a concerted and sustained effort to impart my love of board and card games. I wanted to make them into good gamers. That effort has yielded spectacular results. Here is my proven system for getting the most out of playing games with children.

Start Early

You can start very early. As soon as my kids could speak we were playing games. At age 2 we got plastic holders that little hands could use to hold a hand of cards. We played many games of Loot and other simple games.

Early on, you’re really just introducing the concepts. Wait for your turn. Take your turn. Participate in a structured activity. Understanding the concepts of rules and restrictions. You don’t need to worry about strategy or who’s winning. That’ll come soon enough. Start by getting them used to playing games, participating, and having fun.

Don’t Emphasize Winning and Losing

Playing games means winning games and losing games. Playing lots of games means winning a lot and losing a lot. These things should be treated as inevitable parts of playing games for everyone. The important thing is not the winning or the losing but that you have fun playing. Like so many things, you’re better off modeling this truth than explaining it.

Have fun playing. Get in character. Provide color commentary. Praise the clever play. Recognize when you’ve been outmaneuvered. Engage in some good-spirited gloating when they’ve fallen into your trap. Cherish the tension of the tight game when the outcome hangs in the balance.

When it’s over, you can acknowledge who won and who lost. But it should almost be an afterthought. The play's the thing.

Games should be fun. Part of making a game fun is being gracious in victory or defeat. For children who have trouble with either, make it clear that good sportsmanship is a requirement. If they want to play games with you, they need to do their part to make the game fun for everyone during and after the game.

Play to Win. But Level the Field.

When I taught my kids to play chess I started by taking away my own rooks and my queen. Then I played to win. Early on, I taught them useful lessons about protecting your pieces and the power of a promoted pawn. It wasn't long before I really needed to be in top form or a blundered move would cost me the game. Soon after that I was reintroducing my pieces to avoid certain defeat. When my son reached kindergarten he became a competitive member of the 5th grade chess club.

Kids should earn their victories. But playing games where they are at a huge disadvantage isn't fun for anyone. Start by choosing games that involve a lot of luck, or that rely on skills like pattern recognition, or memory - where adults don’t have a clear advantage. When you go for the strategy game, stack the odds in their favor to make sure your victories are well-earned as well.

Don’t Explain the Rules

With most adults it’s considered unfair to start a new game until everyone is familiar with all aspects of the rules. Often this will lead to lots of context-free explanation of arcane and unfamiliar systems. This often concludes with an agreement to “just start playing and figure it out as we go”.

With kids your best bet is to skip to the just-start-playing part. Give an overview of the point and very basics of the game. Then deal out the cards. Go first. Play with an open hand. Explain what you’re doing, and why, as you do it. When it’s the next player’s turn, explain their options. But let them make their own choices. Until everyone gets the hang of it, don’t worry about optimal plays and good strategy. Make a “bad” play if it helps introduce a new rule. Your focus is on getting players to understand the game. Dive in, and have fun. Cutthroat can come later.

Come Prepared

If you’ll be introducing a new game, make sure you come to the table prepared. Read the rules. Make sure you understand them. Think about how you’ll be teaching the players to play.

If a question comes up during the game, you can spend a few seconds looking it up in the rules. But if you don’t find it quickly, make a ruling. You can come up with your ruling by consensus, by your best guess off the designer’s intention, or by giving the younger player the benefit of the doubt. But make a decision. After the game you can look up the real rule (returning to the rulebook or looking it up online). Make sure to explain if you ruled incorrectly and how you’ll handle it next time.

If you’re less comfortable with your own game-design skills then stick with the rulebook. But experienced gamers can consider modifying games for younger players. Many games can streamlined, simplified, or rebalanced to make it a better game to play with little kids. If you’re going to do that, make your modifications beforehand, and explain any changes to players before you begin.

Choose New Games

Monopoly is not a good game. Chutes and Ladders is not good. Battleship is OK. Clue has some really clever bits and some pointless, tedious bits. Stratego is still great.

Over the last 15 years or so there has been a renaissance in board and card game design. There are now ridiculous numbers of games you can choose from. There are game appropriate for every taste and age group. Game designers have learned a lot of lessons about the different means and mechanics to create a fun experience. There are more games available today. There are better games available today.

Check with your friendly local game store for suggestions. Here are a few of mine:

Loot by Gamewright. - Loot is my-all-time favorite game to introduce to little kids. It’s got simple rules, fun artwork, a jolly pirate theme, supports most any number of players, and has enough depth to make it fun for all ages. The publisher GameWright is also my favorite publisher of games for kids and their catalog is good pace to look if you’re looking for a new game.

Survive: Escape from Atlantis! by Stronghold Games :  The object of Survive is have member your little tribe escape on the last boats from an ever-shrinking island. You want strand your opponents in the hopes that the ground will disappear beneath their feet and you can send sharks to devour their little people. Good family fun for all ages.

Forbidden Island - Gamewright again! Another game about about escaping from a sinking island. Unlike the cutthroat Survive, Forbidden Island is a cooperative game. Everyone is working together to escape with the loot and their lives. Co-op games can also be a great way to play games with kids. The trick is to work together while still letting younger players makes their own choices rather than playing the game for them.

Villains and Vigilantes Card Game - Superhuman Games - Ok. Villains and Vigilantes isn’t really designed for young children. It was designed by me. My kids were the lead playtesters and really enjoy it. But it is a “gamer’s game”. When you’re ready for some superheroic action, with a little complexity, check it out.

Be Careful What You Wish For

These days it seems like every room in our house is overrun with gaming paraphernalia. Dinner-time conversation inevitably revolves around the merits of some obscure card. Our Sunday afternoons are spent at Magic: the Gathering tournaments. “Dad. Do you want to play a game of something?” is a constant refrain. I don’t get together with my friends as much since I get more than enough gaming at home.

Once the seed is planted it may grow beyond your control. Enjoy.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Obamacare Before and After

For a long time we didn't get health insurance from our jobs. I purchased health insurance for my family on the individual market. Last spring, I switch to a new employer that does provide health insurance. If we hadn't switched, I expect we would have been one of those families being told that because of Obamacare, we would be losing our health insurance plan. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that our previous insurer is no longer selling individual insurance in New Hampshire.

But that's OK. We didn't like our plan. We didn't care if we could keep it.

I didn't like the sign up process. The price quoted to me online was totally misleading. I couldn't sign up on online at all. I had to contact an independent broker to actually navigate the process. The actual price was much higher than the one quoted on the website.

I didn't like the fact that they wouldn't insure my entire family. They would insure some of us, but they would not sell a policy to cover my son - who is a generally healthy, normal kid. He was born prematurely with a low birth-weight. Preexisting condition. For him we had to buy a separate, more expensive plan. From a different insurer.

They wouldn't cover maternity. That would be too risky given our history. We aren't planning to have more kids. But I didn't like the idea of a for-profit health insurance company making that decision for us. Whether or not to have children is the kind of decision we should be able to make for ourselves.

We didn't really like having a $5,000 per-person deductible. The insurance didn't end up covering much of anything. If we had more than one incident in a year we could be out $10,000+ in addition to the money we were paying in premiums. That didn't happen every year. But it did happen.

We contacted the insurance company when the law changed and they could no longer reject children due to preexisting conditions. They waffled, delayed, and refused to quote us a new price for a policy that covered our entire family. When they finally relented, they jacked up the price so much that we were better off sticking with the separate plans. I didn't like that.

One time my wife had knee surgery at our local hospital. We were informed that the hospital was in-network. But the anesthesiologist in the hospital was not in the network. So, we were supposed to pay for that. We appealed that decision and won. But the insurance took the novel approach of simply never, ever paying the money they agreed to pay. I didn't like being told a dozen times, over many phone conversations, over several years that this would be taken care of. I didn't like collection agents calling us to demand the money that the insurance company had promised, but never paid.

We did not like our insurance plan. But we kept it. We renewed that plan year after year, ever as they kept jacking up the premiums. We kept our plan because there is no way we would take the risk of going without health insurance. We kept our plan because the alternatives were worse. Other options had ever more strict underwriting requirements and wouldn't sell  us policies at all. Or they were ever more expensive. Or provided even worse coverage.

I supported the ACA and was very much looking forward to being able to purchase insurance on the health care exchange. We started getting insurance through my new job before the exchanges were launched. But it's instructive to compare what's available now compared to what we were going through.

The insurance exchange in New Hampshire is far from ideal. We're part of the federal exchange and have had to deal with the complications that came with that. What's worse is that there is no competition, and not much to choose from within our exchange. Currently, there is exactly one insurance company that offers policies through our state exchange.

The good news that the sole insurer is the biggest, most reputable insurer in the state. They can no longer pick and choose among members of our family. They don't get to decide if we're allowed to have more children. And getting an accurate quote from the web site was quick and easy

Under our old plans, we were paying a total of $832 per month for multiple plans, each with a $5,000 per person deductible. On the exchange today, a comparable plan would cost us $730 a month. Even without subsides, we could save over $1,200 a year. Or we could pay what we're paying now for superior coverage, fewer hassles, and a more reputable insurer.

I've been a supporter of health care reform. I didn't support that effort because I wanted everything to stay the same. I recognized that system was terrible. The whole point of the reforms was to change it.

That's not a promise that was broken. It's a promise that was kept.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Stopping Gun Violence in America

The goal ending gun violence in general, and horrific mass shootings in particular, is one that is shared by most all Americans.

It is also true that a great many Americans own weapons and keep and use them responsibly. We have a strong traditions of gun ownership and guns are tightly intertwined with our history, our politics, our entertainment, our mythology, and in many cases, our sense of self.

This combination had made ending gun violence very difficult in America. But I wonder if we can find some common ground and move towards a solution. Ideally we should all seek a system that preserve our traditions and allows for continued gun ownership while keeping these uniquely lethal capabilities out of the hands of criminals and psychopaths.

My proposal goes like this:

  • Existing regulation regarding the purchase of firearms is left unchanged. No additional restrictions are added on who can purchase guns or what people can do with the weapons they already own.

  • A federal law would make it illegal to sell any firearm ammunition to individuals for private use.

  • During phase 1, there would be no new restrictions on ammunition people already own or purchase before the law goes into effect.

  • Licensed gun ranges, gun clubs, and similar operations would be authorized to purchase and sell ammunition in most any type and volume. 
    • All of this ammunition would have to remain on and be used on the premises.
    • These gun clubs would be given a very wide latitude in terms of the their scope, size, and the variety of tactical, recreational, and sport opportunities they offer.

  • Whenever a valid hunting license is purchased, the individual would also be able to purchase a small quantity of ammunition appropriate the weapons they will be hunting with and the game being hunted.

  • After 10 years, phase 2 would go into effect. At this point private ownership of firearm ammunition would no longer be legal. 
    • The penalty for owning ammunition would be minor - more like a speeding ticket than a jail sentence.

The goal with this proposal would be to immediately limit access to lethal capacity to new gun purchasers. People could keep their guns and get new ones. But, over time, the intent is to move the capacity to use them as lethal weapons out of peoples homes, out of the hands of criminals, and into more controlled settings. This would preserve the use of guns for hunting, sport, and recreation. It would also bring about a fundamental shift in the unrestricted availability of deadly force and end much of the tragedy that comes with it.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Way of the Gun

When my son Isaac (age 12) wrote his Christmas gift wish-list this year it consisted of:
  • Nerf gun. 
  • Nerf gun. 
  • Nerf gun. 
  • Money. 
This year we had also had a 14-year-old French cousin joining us for Christmas. So, when my mother called in search of gift suggestions, I had the bright idea: Nerf guns for everyone!  I figured a big, plastic firearm was the quintessential American gift and envisioned much merriment with all of us boys - I included myself in this plan - blasting away at one another.

In the aftermath the Sandy Hook shootings, the thought of pointing guns, even bright plastic ones, at children filled me with nausea and dread. I had second thoughts. But my always-agreeable mother had already gone ahead with my plan. So it came to be that a substantial Nerf arsenal awaited us under the Christmas tree.

Christmas morning came. The Nerf guns were a big hit. Of course. As soon as they were opened and unboxed, with piles of sparkly presents still sitting unopened under the tree, we ran outside to shoot blue darts at one another in the fresh snow.

The Nerf guns was hardly the only firearm-themed Christmas gift received. Our favorite toys, computer games, board games, card games, television shows, movies, and books all feature guns and lots of them. The depiction, recreation, and immersion in imaginary gun violence is one of my, and now my son's, major preoccupations. Blowing holes in a wide variety of zombies, mercenaries, aliens, and assorted "bad guys" is a near-daily staple and a welcome source of temporary escape from the basic banalities of modern life.

For all my indulgence in firearm fantasies I've pretty much kept my distance from the real thing. I've rarely held, and never fired an actual weapon. I don't own a gun and don't ever intend to. But I can see the appeal. I understand the powerful  pull, and the mythic aspects of guns. In spite of that, and in some ways because of it, I wouldn't want an actual weapon in my home or in my life.

For a great many Americans their relationship with guns is much less distant. Around 45 millions households in the US own a total estimated around 270 million firearms. The vast majority of these weapons are kept perfectly safely and securely. They are used for sport, hunting, collected, and used responsibly for fun or recreation.

But these are weapons. They are designed to do damage. With weaponry that powerful, and access this easy, it takes only a tiny percentage of dangerous individuals to cause horrific damage. Every year there are thousands of firearm deaths in the US. Thousands of murders. Thousands of suicides by gun. Every few months we receive news of another shocking mass shooting. It is too often, too regular, to easy for a psychotic individual to go on a shooting spree in an office, a movie theater, or a school. Each time we are appalled, we grieve, we shrug, and we go on.

Here in the US, the guns have always been here. And the tragedies have come with them.

I wonder if we aren't ready for a change.

There are multitudes of guns owners in the US. They are also citizens, parents, colleagues, businesses owners and community members . The horrors of gun violence reach the guns owners and those without alike. We should be unified in our desire to prevent gun violence. We should share the objectives of reducing violent crime, and stopping the terrible killing sprees, while preserving lawful, safe, responsible, and even for-fun firearm use.

In my next post I'll propose a plan to do that.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Obama: Still the Best President Ever

Back in December of 2009, before Obama had completed his first year in office, before he signed health care reform into law, I wrote a post proclaiming that Barack Obama the best President in my lifetime. I also predicted that he is likely to be a better President than any successor I will live to see.

Three tumultuous years later, I am pleased to see that President Obama has lived up to my expectations. I am proud to stand by my initial assessment. I will enthusiastically cast my vote for his re-election on November 6.

We have a tendency the mythologize our presidents. But the office of the presidency does not come with the powers to shape the nation in accordance to your will. There is no enchanted staff, bestowed on inauguration day, that can be wielded to shine the blessing of full employment upon us all. Even the Hollywood-tale of the spellbinding statesman able to unite us, cow the opposition, and win the day with unimpeachable logic and soaring rhetoric -  is largely a myth.

Ultimately, inevitably, the President of the United States is just a person. The office itself is a job. The chosen individual is either good at it, or not.

By this basic, honest, standard Barack Obama has been an exceptional President of the United States. Over the past four years, day after day, on issue after issue, he has demonstrated an uncommon combination of wisdom, patience, competence, compassion, and leadership. He is good at this.

There are number of areas where the actions of this President have had a positive impact. On education, the environment, financial reform, immigration, the war on terror, clean energy, killing Bin Laden, foreign policy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, marriage equality, equal pay for women, women's reproductive rights, disaster relief, student loans... the list of positive achievements is long and impressive.

And there are two issues in particular that have touched us directly.

I've spent my career working for technology start-up companies. It has often, and recently, been the case that these small and new companies do not offer health insurance coverage with the job. Shopping for insurance for my family has given me an all-too-close perspective on the dysfunction of the current system and the urgent need for reform. We've been denied coverage, had family members rejected due to pre-existing conditions, and seen huge premium increases year after year. Even for people with money and good jobs, the system is broken. It hasn't worked. It especially hasn't worked for small businesses. My experience has left me with zero sympathy for anyone who has opposed health care reform and immense gratitude for this administration for seeing this through.

Everyone should be able to afford health insurance for their family. Thanks to this President that is will soon be a reality. It is inconceivable to me that anyone would want to throw it all away and return to the costly, nightmare, unstable system we've been force to live with.

The second issue is the economy. Our family has been fortunate enough to have weathered the Great Recession with relatively little personal hardship. But it's not hard to remember what things were like four years ago, when the financial crisis hit. I remember walking by the empty storefronts on my way to work. I remember wondering who was going to close next, and how this business or that new restaurant was going to survive. I remember personally laying-off one new hire and putting off on others while we cut back to see what would happen.

Are we better off now than we were four year ago? We absolutely are. I've recently left my job and signed on with a new one, not because I had to, but because there were new opportunities to pursue. In my little corner of the world, new businesses are opening.  New companies are hiring. Existing companies are seeing new opportunities. Entrepreneurs are dreaming and scheming once again.

Part of the recovery comes from the natural rhythms of the business cycle. But no small amount of credit is due to President Obama and his administration. They pushed through the stimulus bill that invested in roads, bridges, clean energy companies, and saved million of jobs. They provided assistance to the states to close budget gaps and keep workers on the job. They cut our taxes and put more money in our pockets. They supported an aggressive monetary policy that saved our financial system and insured banks were there with the capital and credit that businesses need to survive and to grow.

The last four years have not been easy. We have been cursed to live in interesting times. But we have been blessed to have Barack Obama as our President for the last four years. I am proud to support him for another term.

All people, all politicians, all Presidents are imperfect. But this one is as good as they get. We are lucky to have him. He has earned our support, our respect, and our vote.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Star Wars: A New New Hope

Not so long ago in the galaxy we call home, the assumption was that there would be no more Star Wars movies. Now we discover that a whole new trilogy is in the works. What do the Disney Star Wars movies have in store for us?

My imagination runneth over...

And so I offer you (and the Walt Disney Corporation) my vision of a new Star Wars trilogy.


After the fall of the empire, the galaxy struggles to avoid spinning into chaos. The first new generation of Jedi, lacking the mentors of the Jedi of old, struggle to harness the ways of the force and to avoid the temptations of the dark side.


Set about 20 years after the end of Episode VI., the New Republic is still in its infancy. The galaxy is more chaotic than ever with a multitude of squabbles among the member planets.

The old the Imperial Navy is now under the control the New Republic. Much of it is under the command of master strategist Grand Admiral Valorum . Valorum also controls Kamino, the cloning facilities, and the stormtrooper army. Valorum is a hero of the New Republic, but is fiercely anti-Jedi. He sees the history of the galaxy as a series of destructive wars and enslavement brought on by the eternal struggles between the Jedi and Sith.

Luke continues to struggle with the temptations of the dark side and has left it to Leia to form the new Jedi Academy. The academy struggles to create a new generation of Jedi with no capable mentors to lead them.


Luke: Luke is the galaxy's last trained Jedi. But he is well aware of the Skywalker legacy. Shortly after the fall of the empire, Luck formed a new Jedi Academy. It was quickly struck by tragedy. Assassins hired by Valorum, attempted to kill Luke. They killed a number of young padawan instead. Wracked with grief, Luke no longer feels fit to train Jedi. He grows beard and becomes a hermit.

Han and Lando: Han and Lando are now elder statesmen in the New Republic. Both are frustrated with the bureaucracy, chaos, and responsibility and long for the scoundrel days of old. They have inherited C-3PO and R2-D2.

Leia and Chewbacca:  Leia and Han are married with children. After Luke's grief-driven withdrawal, Leia has taken it upon herself to try and form the new Jedi Academy. She knows she is incapable of instructing Jedi, but is desperate that the next generation of force-sensitives, including her own children, receive proper instruction in the force. Chewbacca has joined her in trying to help form the academy.

Grand Admiral Valorum: This hero of the rebellion now commands much of the old imperial forces. The admiral feels that all Jedi and Sith are a threat to the galaxy and works to exterminate any force-sensitive beings.

Talaya Secura: A middle-age, Twi'lek woman. Talaya was a young padawan in the final days of the Republic. She escaped the purge of the Jedi and was able to remain in hiding during the dark times. As the only available Jedi with any formal training, she is the main instructor of the new Jedi Academy. She does not feel up to the task and struggles with her own darkness.

Jedi Academy Students: A mix of ages and species, including the Solo/Skywalker children. This force-sensitive group struggles to inherit the mantle of the Jedi Knights. They are much less disciplined than the Jedi  of old, have different aptitudes within the force (precognition, starship piloting, telekinesis, acrobatics, mind tricks). They don't yet have, or know how to construct, lightsabers. The Jedi Academy students are the protagonists of the trilogy.

Episode VII:

Open with the attack on Luke by Valorum's assassins. This leads the the death of the padawan and Luke's grief.

Then queue theme and the crawl.

Jump forward several years. Leia recruits Talaya and struggles to set up the academy. We meet the new students and see their training. Meanwhile, Han struggles to deal the formation of the New Republic. The new padawan struggle to learn the ways of the force. They want to have adventures and serve the New Republic, like the padawan of old, but are constantly held back.

Valorum sends out another set of assassins after Leia and Luke. They succeed and kill them both.

Talaya, Chewbacca and the students hunt down the assassins. They catch and defeat them. But are bloodied in battle. The students learn that Valorum was behind the attacks, and as they are drawn into the conflict and thoughts of revenge, they are also drawn closer to the dark side.

Episode VIII:

Open with a stormtrooper assault on the Jedi Academy. The students survive but the academy is destroyed.

This leads to a split in the students. Talaya leads the group that will become the Dark Jedi. They construct lightsabers and head out to take revenge on Valorum. The Light Jedi suspect the revenge mission will lead to the dark side. They stay behind to complete their training and avoid temptation. The Solo/Skywalker kids are split between the two groups.

The Dark Jedi hunt down Valorum and infiltrate his command ship. They overcome his assassins and stormtroopers and kill Valorum.

The Dark Jedi learn that in his quest to eradicate the Jedi, Valorum had amassed an archive of Jedi knowledge. This includes instructions on finding the lost Jedi/Sith training grounds on the planet Korriban.

With the death of Valorum, Talaya also assumes command of the stormtrooper army. The Dark Jedi prepare to travel to Korriban to rebuild the Jedi Order.

Episode IX:

The Dark Jedi overcome local authorities and take control of Korriban where they establish their new Jedi Order.

When the New Republic sends an armada to investigate, their ships are defeated. It is clear that the new Jedi Order has gone to the dark side and is a threat to New Republic.

The students of the Light Jedi led by one of the Solo kids, construct their own lightsabers and head out to confront the Dark Jedi.

The final confrontation pits the groups of students against one another. Some of the students are redeemed and return the light side. Others are killed. Ultimately, the light side is triumphant.

After the battle they reform the new Jedi Order, but first they destroy their lightsabers. They will neither serve the New Republic nor subjugate it. Rather than bringing peace to the galaxy the new order pledges to stay out of the fight and seek inner peace.