Friday, February 27, 2009

The Complete Guide to Giam Part 2

So for this part I am going to walk through the map of Giam. I drew this map in high school. Most of Giam took shape in high school during study halls. Most people slept, and I either read sci-fi/fantasy books or created my own little world in my head. During my Senior year, I even created my own Role Playing Game system based in Giam called New Legends (and despite my best efforts to look multiple times I could not find the file anywhere). As I explain the various places in Giam, I will be explaining them as they are in what I previously referred to as the "time of legends." I apologize about the size of the map, it will probably be hard to read.

Starting on the western side of the continent is the city of Gull. After the fall of the dark lord Gull was reduced to a city-state, but the city has begun to reestablish itself as a proper kingdom. Even though Gull is on the edge of the known world, it is where the world comes together. Goods from the Northern lands come to Gull as do exotic goods from the south. A steady trickle of traveling merchants bring goods from the rest of Giam down the great road. Thus, the market of Gull is something of a wonder of the world. Gull is essentially ruled by an oligarchy. The throne of Gull has been vacated since the height of the dark age, and there are several noble families who want it for themselves. They are always trying to earn favor and position. Every decade a new steward is elected from the noble families to sit on the throne. This election is often corrupt, and the noble courts of Gull are a place of much intrigue and back-stabbing.

To the North of Gull are the Northern Lands. These lands are controlled by a vast array of barbarian tribes. Think Conan the Barbarian with a healthy dose of Braveheart and you get the idea. Each tribe no matter how small has their own territorial land. The only place not controlled by a tribe is the city of Noroun. Noroun is essentially the "United Nations" of the Barbarians. Each tribe has representatives, and diplomacy is done here. Of course, Barbarian diplomacy often inolves duels and tests of might.

To the south of Gull is the Aran Desert. I have never thought to much about what is there. South of that is the Henten Jungle. On the outskirts of the jungle there are human settlements of tree dwellers. Deep in the jungle one of only two elf civilizations still exist. The plague of the dark lord was especially harsh on the elves, as was the resulting anarchy. In response the elves became insular and extremely xenophobic. Elven culture has degenerated into almost savagery. Yet they, still remember stories of the golden age, but they have forgotten how the fall from that age was led by them. Thus, the elves are prideful and mean. East of the jungle is the Southland mountains. It is in these mountains that the greatest of the Dwarven kingdoms lie. South of that is the wasteland. A Desert of Rock, tar pits, and other unpleasantnesses. Wastelanders, which are essentially orcs, roam this area. There is a haven of decency and verdant civilization carved out of the wasteland though and that is Fanastia. Here elves and humans have intermingled to create the world's only half-elf civilization. Fanastia is very prosperous and very remote, thus most of Giam thinks the place is a legend. In the ocean is the island of Vesterou. This is an evil place that is eternally terrorized and ruled by a vampire. Vampires in this world are people who have made deals with demons. In exchange for eternal life they have to exist on the blood of others.

Going Back to Gull and heading East there is the great road. During the golden age this road ran from Gull to Valaxen, but that last leg from Bren to Valaxen has been swallowed by time. The great road is what keeps Giam still unified as information and goods travel between the two great kingdoms of Gull and Bren. Along the great road there are multiple small kingdoms, commonwealths, and free towns. There are only a few parts of the road that are wild and truly dangerous to travel. North of the Great Road and East of the North lands are lots of hills that slowly become more steeper as they grow into the Draglok mountains. There are human settlements in these hills, but these hills are one of the only place in Giam where the gnomes live. These gnomes are the "travelocity" variety. They are whimsical, peace loving creatures. In the steeper hills live the Dark Dwarfs. These dwarfs have skin that is a very dark gray in color. Dark Dwarfs are opportunists and are consumed with greed. In the Draglok mountains, dragons can be found as well as the lesser Dwarf kingdoms.

In the middle of the world is Meduka, which has you gathered is now a place of evil. Essentially if there is a monster it comes from Meduka. The areas immediately surrounding Meduka are home to evil civilizations. To the east are savage gnomes. To the North-west Cyclopeans, To the North East Centaurs, and to the North are the Wyerms. Further north of Meduka are the shirelands. This area is essentially like Germany in the late middle ages before unification, a patch work of small duchies (or in this case shires). Of these two free cities have emerged, Vasten and Lakeshire, which are slowly developing into proper kingdoms. East of Meduka is the Great Plain and this is home to the Three Peoples: The Sucroi, Yenoi, and Bedoi. The Three peoples all have Native American influences. The Sucroi are more or less akin to a Native American plains tribe. The Yenoi are a mix of Native Americans and Japanese, while the Bedoi are more like Bedouins.

South of the Great Plain is Bren. Bren is the premier kingdom in Giam. During the dark ages the throne was not lost and the same blood line that has always ruled still sits on the throne. Bren is both the high point of Giam civilization and its protector, as the Eastern areas of Bren are mostly uncivilized. Sout of Bren is the City State of Ravensport. Ravensport is Bren's constant rival despite being dwarfed by the kingdom. Ravensport is also a place with dark secrets. Black Magic is readily practiced in its alleyways and many of the aristocrat families have long standing deals with devils.

The Eastern part of Giam is mostly uncivilized wilderness. The biggest standing city in this part of Giam is Keysmit, which is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. The peninsula of Seaina is very much haunted and it also is where tribes of people who are more beast than human in their demeanor live. North of Keysmit. There are a few bright spots of goodness in the form of all small cities and their protectorate, but most of this area is the domain of petty warlords and aggressive warrior tribes. One of these tribes has taken up residence in the ruined city of Valaxen, and they essentially function as land based Vikings. North of Valaxen is a great forest. Deep in this forest is where the former elves of Valaxen reside. Like the elves of the jungle these elves are insular, prideful xenophobes. The forest is also home to intelligent wolves who can speak like humans and minotaurs. To the west of this forest is a mountain range that is more like the Appalachian mountains than the Rockies. At the heart of these mountains is a series of big valleys connected by passes. This area is home to the Hidden Kingdom. The Hidden Kingdom has always been a secluded place where Dwarfs and humans live in mutual peace. During the anarchy that followed the fall of the dark lord the hidden kingdom shut itself from outsiders so that now the outside world has all but forgotten about it, and the hidden kingdom has all but forgotten about the outside world.

So that is the world of Giam. The only thing left to talk about is how magic work in Giam, because all good fantasy worlds have to have some sort of magic.

The Complete Guide to Giam Part 1

In the 25 Random Things list that I posted about a month ago I mentioned the fantasy world of Giam. I originally created this world in third or fourth grade after seeing part of Clash of the Titans. When I played by myself I pretended I was a character known as the hunter. The hunter roamed the land of Meduka in Giam. Meduka was the land of monsters, and the hunter hunted them. The hunter was half monster though. He had red eyes and the ability to become invisible. The hunter's main goal was to kill the Medusa. From there the world slowly developed. This world has a whole lot of random influences that have been taken and synthesized together. Here is a mostly complete list of where I remember influencing ideas that were incorporated into this world: Battle Cards, Hero Quest, Middle Earth Role Playing Game, Unlimited Adventures video game, Magic: The Gatering CCG, Star Wars, R.A. Salvatore (specifically The Woods Outback and The Crimson Shadow series), Gladius video game, Mortal Kombat, and the Bible. For a while I have wanted to put down in words what I have developed about this world, so I might as well share it instead of keeping it to myself.

First a brief world history. I never created a creation story for the world. The world's history picks up during the "Golden Age". During this time the elves were the leaders of great kingdoms ruled by "god-kings." Never established if these kings were angels or just blessed with extremely long lives and divine wisdom. Essentially, the elves are a bit like the Israelites, in that they are God's chosen people. During the golden age the elves led the good people in an era of kindness. The elves, over time became arrogant and selfish and the great kingdoms began to diminish. While this happened, evil, greed, and fear grew. After several centuries of this slow fall, the Dark Lord rose. It was never defined who or what the Dark Lord was, but the dark lord was essentially evil incarnate. Based out of the fallen kingdom of Meduka the dark lord gathered evil creatures and began to conquer the world. In the cliche epic fantasy way, there was a big battle and the dark lord was defeated, but when he was he unleashed his greatest spell. Meteors rained down over all of Giam completely destroying the great cities. In addition to that a plague was unleashed that decimated the entire world's population, and Meduka became forever tainted with evil. All of Giam descended into anarchy and a dark age. 400-500 years after this event the world is beginning to emerge from this dark age, and it is in this time that many of the stories of Giam take place, and this time is the time of legends. This has probably gone on long enough, so part 2 I will post the map of Giam and go through what constitutes the world. I hope reading this has been half as fun for you as it has been for me to write it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Future Reading List

Coming up next week I have a meeting that is a REALLY big deal. This meeting will also involve a lot of waiting time. So in preparation for this event I got a new book to read. I realized while looking around the book store, that I have mentally piled up a good sized list of books I want to read. Now none of these books will be found on that BBC list that is making the blog/facebook rounds, but that does not matter much to me. I am pretty much ok with the fact that my literary taste effectively to pop corn movies. What follows is all of the books that I hope to read this year, with a bit about why.

A Song of Ice and Fire
The book I got this week is A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. It is book one out of four and book one on its own is just over 800 pages, so this whole high fantasy saga might take a good while to get through.

Halo: The Cole Protocol
At this point I have read five Halo books and thus far played three games (with the fourth one a week away). I don't know a whole lot about this book, but I really like the Halo universe.

Mass Effect: Accession
As far as stories go across all medias, Mass Effect is one my absolute favorites. I read the first Mass Effect book, and I am looking forward to reading the second.

Star wars: Darth Bane-Rule of Two

This is the first of three Star Wars books on the list. This book is about Darth Bane, the sith lord who established the rule of two. This is the type of Star Wars book written for the most hardcore of star wars fans.

Star Wars: Coruscant Nights III-Patterns of the Force
I have read the first two Coruscant Nights books, and I liked them a lot. This series is suppose to be a Noir infused Star Wars story. The mystery aspect thus far has been a bit week, but I really like these books because how they fit into the Star Wars universe. These stories have utilized minor characters from the movies and secondary characters from other books. If you are looking for a series of good Star Wars books, then I recommend this one (but not as much as the next one).

Star Wars: Order 66
Order 66 is the final book to the Republic Commando "series". This is a series in that the characters are the same and the character development continues from book to book, but they some what stand aloneish. In my opinion, the Republic Commando books are some of the best Star Wars books ever. They are especially awesome as they give a Clones perspective of the Clone Wars. I have been waiting for the paperback copy to come out, and it does so in May.

The Rising
As I mentioned before, Left 4 Dead has put me on a bit of a Zombie kick, and my wasting time on Amazon has revealed this to be one of the better Zombies books. It does appear that the zombies in this book are the Marvel Zombies style (maintain some sort of intelligence)as opposed to the Romero-eque shamblers or the Left 4 Dead/28 Days later infected, so that is a bit of a setback.

Ender's Game
I know that this is a Sci-Fi classic, and it is one that I need to read.

After the Downfall
A couple of years ago I read the Sci-fi/historical fiction Guns of the South. It was a little slow, but I liked it well enough to Give Harry Turtledove a second chance. After the Downfall is about a Nazi Officer who finds himself fighting in a fantasy world. I am very intrigued by the concept.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Seriously. I want to read it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Official List of "Us" Things

So it was my original hope to post this list on Valentine's Day, because then it would have been all cute and what not. But that didn't happen, so at this point I suppose it is better late than never.

I could be wrong about this, but I think that all couples (at least married/serious couples) have their own "us" things. I do not know how to fully explain what I mean by this, so I hope you know what I am talking about. If not, then my best stab at it is these are things/places/etc that Abigail and I share a mutual affinity for. Moreover, when I think of this thing I immediately think of Abigail as well, thus increasing the thought of whatever it is being a "us" thing. Like I said, hard to explain. Anyway, here is the complete list of "us" things:

1. Waterfalls
I honestly do not remember how this became an "us" thing, but it has been for a long time. On our honeymoon we purposely went to see a waterfall. We did the same thing the next year, and in Scotland as well. Actually, every time we have had the opportunity to see a waterfall we have done so. For whatever reason, this tops our list of "us" things.

2. Skee Ball
I think it is a commonly known fact that I am very competitive. A very little known fact is that Abigail is as well. I discovered this while we were dating, as I ignited this competitive spirit over miniature golf and then Skee ball. She eventually gave up on keeping a competition up with miniature golf, because her win-loss record against me was borderline embarrassing. However, Skee Ball is something that we are very equal in and healthy competition abounds. On more than one occasion we have taken dates to Chuck E. Cheese to eat pizza and play Skee Ball. Now though we have our own Skee Ball game so we can play when ever we want :)

3. McDonald's Ice Coffee
Neither one of us drink coffee "regularly", nor do we particularly care for it, but we are both really big fans of McDonald's ice coffee. Once I joked about how Abigail, secretly gets one every day on her way to work, which she swore was not true. So I countered, well then you must do it at least one a week. That at the time was not true, but it now is. We recount that to each other often, and it is still funny. Though I realize, while typing it that it probably is not funny to read, which confirms this is an "us" thing.

4. 24 and the Amazing Race.
I got completely out of the habit of watching TV during the college, and I really don't miss it. However, these are two shows that I watch with Abigail. The Amazing Race is probably my favorite TV show, and watching it with Abigail is half the fun. 24, we started watching on DVD and we tended to watch the episodes in marathon sessions. ALL of the fun in watching 24 comes from Abigail's responses to the ridiculous situations and decisions that Jack makes.

5. The X-Files
We are bad X-Files fans. We have had two seasons on DVD for five months and another two for two months, and we have only watched a hand full of episodes. However, this get a spot on the list, because it was X-Files that drew us together. The one TV show that I did not want to give up watching was X-Files, and since I did not have a TV my freshmen year I went to Abigail's dorm and watched it with her every week.

6. Champions of Norrath
The last few items on the list show my influence on Abigail as I have pulled her ever closer to the "dork side". Like X-Files, this is on the list for posterity, since the last Champions of Norrath game came out four years ago. This is a hack and slash RPG that Abigail got into and we played together. We played through the original two or three times, and the sequel came out close to Valentine's day in 2005, so we both took off work and played together all day. Best. Valentie's. Day. Ever.

7. Rock Band
This is our current video game of choice. We have spent hours playing Rock Band together. When ever we hear a song somewhere that is from Rock Band we just look at each other and smile.

8. Board Games
We have always played games together, but both of us have gotten a bit more into it in the past few months, so that a few weeks ago Abigail agreed with me that playing board games together is officially an us thing. It was that declaration that led me to think of the other us things and make this list.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Zombies Make Everything Better

Since November I have been on a shambling zombie kick. This is all because of the awesomeness that is Left 4 Dead. Zombies might be the one thing that gets me to read Jane Austin. See someone took Pride and Prejudice, the whole thing, and then added extra scenes and chapters to include the living dead. It sounds crazy but you can't make this stuff up. Check out Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for yourself. I am sure for a true literature lover this idea is heresy, but I like the idea of adding Zombies to the classics. In fact I have five other books that I think would really benefit from this treatment.

5. Little Women
I don't know anything about this book, other than that if you are a female there is like a 33% chance that reading this book becomes a defining moment in your life (yeah, I made that up). All I do know, is the only way I am ever reading it is if there are Zombies in it.

4. Great Expectations
I am fairly sure that forcing high schoolers to read this steaming pile of literary crap violates one of the rights guaranteed by the UN Declaration of Human Rights. About the only thing that could redeem this work is if Miss Haversham is a Zombie and eats Pip's brain.

3. Lord of the Flies
Ok the rest of these are much more serious suggestions, where adding Zombies could actually create an interesting story or augment what is already there. Any serious piece of Zombie story telling will investigate how humans fall apart when civilization falls apart. Heck this is the entire premise of the excellent Walking Dead. Incidentally, this is also the major theme of Lord of the Flies. The kids tear themselves up as it is, so it would be interesting if adding Zombies would further the anarchy or be able to bind the boys together for a common good.

2. All Quiet on the Western Front
This books already has an oppressive air of hopelessness. Adding Zombies would just change the war from a pointless fight for national pride to a desperate and hopeless fight for the very struggle of humanity.

1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Adding Zombies to this one would just be flat out awesome. Huck is already running away, so adding the undead would give him further reason for his travels. The Living Dead would add a sense of dread to his surreal adventures on the Mississippi.

Friday, February 06, 2009

In Defense of the Clone Wars

Alright! I made it to post #3 in a week. So the movies are all done (though in about six years I would not be surprised if we start seeing special editions for the prequels), and the live action Star Wars TV show seems to be a pipe dream. Thus, the only place to watch new Star Wars stories is on cartoon network's the Clone Wars, and the overall fan reaction to The Clone Wars (especially "the movie") has been negative. This comic strip sums up the reaction fairly well:

So other adult Star Wars fans, here is the thing about the Clone Wars: It is not made for you. There is a good chance that if you are reading this and you consider yourself a Star Wars fan (not a "I like the movies" fan, but a "I know what you are talking about when you drop references like IG-88, Mon Calamari, and Dantooine" fan) then you probably found yourself loving a galaxy far, far away when you were a child (or possibly a pre-teen/teen). The Clone Wars is made for kids, and it does a great job of meeting their target audience. When I saw the Clone Wars in the theater there were several children, and while waiting for Abigail to use the restroom it was cute to see these kids tell their parents why they thought what they just saw was so awesome. Over Christmas listening to my 2nd (at least I think it is 2nd) cousin talk about how much she likes the Huttlet ("stinky" if you want to use its name)further confirmed who the target audience is for the Clone wars. For stories made for children, they are actually fairly good. Since getting cable I have been watching the Clone Wars on TV, and they are not bad. The stories are a little simplistic, but extremely competent and genuinely entertaining. I am fairly sure that the plot and story telling is better than the cartoons I watched growing up.

I also think that the Clone Wars is one of the better ways that the Star Wars mythos is currently being expanded. The current major book series, Legacy of the Force, is not a good move in my opinion. At this point, the established Star Wars story line has been moved 40 years after the original Star Wars, which puts Luke, Leia, and Han all in their 60s (well technically, Luke and Leia would be 59, but whatever). Several of the comic series are good, I especially like "Empire" and "Dark times", but "Legacy" which takes place a couple of hundred years after the battle of Yavin is garbage. In my mind right before the New Jedi Order the Star Wars story ends with "and they lived happily ever after." I suppose this was a bit of a side tangent, but the point is that I don't mind the Clone Wars as a way of expanding the Star Wars story.

From the Star Wars geek standpoint, I am a little concerned with what the series will do to the the already established Clone Wars stories. Since Anikan already has his scar, I assume that this series takes place after his fight with Asaj Ventress in the original Clone Wars shorts. Also, since The second series of shorts leads right up to Episode 3, I assume those all still part of the Expanded universe chronology. However, the comics filled in much of the middle of the Clone Wars and it seems like that is going to be "erased" and the TV series will become official chronology.

The Clone Wars maybe kiddish, but that is the target audience. Instead of complaining about that, uptight Star Wars fans should really let go of their entitlement and realize that the Clone Wars is transporting a new generation to the same galaxy far, far away that they love.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Top Ten Songs from Star Wars

Alright, it is Tuesday and I am already making Star Wars post #2! I might actually reach my goal. One of the things that makes the Star Wars movies so good is the music. With the exception of the highly questionable Star Wars Christmas album, I have all Star Wars music available. So here is my list of what I consider to be the best Star Wars music.

10. Catina Band (ANH)
I bet that after the Main theme this is probably the most recognizable music from Star Wars. This is the song that that is being played in the Catina when Luke and Obi-wan walk in to find Han Solo.

9. Across the Stars (AotC)
This song is a decent love theme. Overall, I probably like the one for Han and Leia from Empire Strikes back a bit better, but I have to include this because this song was actually played at my wedding as one of the prelude songs.

8. Tie Fighters Attack/"Here They Come" (ANH)
This is a scene from the movie where the music alone conveys the images and emotions of the movie. Don't believe me? Just watch the clip with only the music and no other sound:

7. The Seduction of Princess Leia (Shadows of the Empire)

In the mid 90's a Star Wars book, Shadows of the Empire, was published. This book filled the gap between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. It also had its own soundtrack, and this is by far the coolest song from that soundtrack. Since most people have probably NEVER heard this soundtrack, you should give this song a listen

6. The Asteroid Field (ESB)
One of the (many) scenes that I really like from Empire Strikes Back is the one where the Millennium Falcon tries to escape tie fighters by flying into an asteroid belt. Like "Tie Fighters Attack" the music fits the images on screen perfectly

5. Throne Room/End Title (ANH)
This is the music played at the end of A New Hope after the death star is destroyed and medals are being given out. In my head every time I accomplish something big, this music plays. Which is why I really wanted it to be the music Abigail and I walked out to at our wedding. I still can't she agreed to it!

4. Battle of the Heroes (RotS)
This is the music from Obi-Wan and Anikan's fight in Episode III. To give it a listen, watch the clip from the Top Ten Star Wars Moments list.

3. Duel of the Fates

The single best thing to come out of Episode I was this song that was in full force throughout the fight with Darth Maul. I appreciated how this theme was used throughout the prequel movies.

2. Main Theme
Well of course this song has to be on the list and it has to be way up there. Nothing can transport me to a galaxy far, far away like hearing this iconic masterpiece.

1. Imperial March

The main theme is good, but Imperial March is better. I already talked about this in my top ten moments, but the Imperial March conveys the dread the Empire should impose really well. In watching the prequel movies, every time a bit of the Imperial March crept into the soundtrack I smiled.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Top Ten Star Wars Moments

So here is the plan. This week I intend on making three blog post (3 in one week? Crazy isn't it, usually I am lucky to get three in a month). All three of these blog posts are going to be about Star Wars. Why? Because that is how I roll.

A good while ago (like Septemberish, Star Wars Insider ran a top ten list of the best "Star Wars moments". At the time I thought I should make my own list, but that didn't happen then, but here it is now. So here is my list of the top ten moments from all these Star Wars that best capture what makes Star Wars so awesome.

10. Darth Maul vs. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan (TPM)
This is the token Episode 1 entry. It really pains me, but Episode 1 is not very good. I appreciate the subtle plotting of Palpatine and I think that Qui-Gon Jinn is a very cool character. However Jar-Jar Binks, Jake Lloyd's atrocious acting, and an over-reliance on CGI was one sin to many. That being said, I think nearly all of us left the theater upon seeing the movie for the first time completely "wowed" and that is primarily because of this fight. Until this moment it had been sixteen years since a lightsaber fight and this fight fulfilled all nerdgasm fantasies. To bad it was stuck at the tail end of The Phantom Menace.

9. Imperial March (ESB)
This short scene is one of my favorites. In Empire Strikes Back, the first time the Imperial March is played, the scene begins with a Star Destroyer. This Star destroyer is slowly covered in a shadow. The camera pans out to reveal the HUGE Executor Super Star Destroyer. The music continues to grow as the camera cuts to the bridge to see Darth Vader staring out into space, and that this point The Imperial March has reached its high point. It is hard to describe but this short scene cements the fearful power of the Empire.

8. Battle of Genosis (AotC)
I like Attack of the clones. There are some rather embarrassing acting performances, and few script missteps, but the pay-off of this battle is worth it. The Jedi fight in the arena is cool, but I really like after that when the clones and droids face off.

7. Battle of Yavin IV (ANH)
I feel guilty putting this scene so low on the list, as it is quintessential Star Wars. The Battle of Yavin is probably one of the few scenes I actually like more in The Special Edition than the original release. The Computer graphics really allowed for more dynamic shots of the X-wing vs. Tie Fighter dog fights.

6. Battle of Hoth (ESB)
The battle of Hoth finishes out this battle trifecta. There was a time when every single Star Wars video game made featured a Hoth level, and for good reason. It is awesome! The music complements the fight perfectly. The high point of this battle is when Wedge takes out the AT-AT with the tow cable.

5. Binary Sunset (ANH)

Binary Sunset is the name of the song that goes along with this scene from the original Star Wars. It is hard to explain this scene, so watch the video. In my opinion there has never been a movie soundtrack that so perfectly captures the image being displayed as this scene:

4. Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker (RotJ)
This is another scene where the music really makes it. Darth Vader taunts Luke till he attacks. The music swells as we see silhouettes of Darth Vader and and Luke Skywalker fight with lightsabers clashing. Finally Luke Skywalker beats Darth vader and cuts off his hand. At this point he remembers his own cybernetic hand. The Emperor comes down clapping and orders Luke to kill Vader. Luke controls his anger and throws his lightsaber away proclaiming he will never join the dark side. At this point the Emperor is alive and the death star is a threat, but the Star Wars saga has reached its hight point and good just won.

3. "I Know" (ESB)
Empire Strikes Back is my favorite Star Wars movie, and this is my favorite scene from it. Han Solo is about to be frozen in Carbonite and Princess Leia proclaims "I love you". As he is being lowered to his fate Han simply tells her "I know." I have never been able to put my finger on why, but this scene is one of the most emotionally powerful ones from the history of cinema. ever.

2. Mos Eisley Catina (ANH)
As good as the Star Wars story is, I honestly love Star Wars much more for the universe it is set in, and no scene capture the feel of that universe more than the Catina scene. When watching it one gets a sense that many of these aliens present have a story to tell, and Star Wars lore has ran with it. Nearly every alien shown in the Catina scene has a name and a back story. Sad but true, at one point in my life I knew them all.

1. Obi-Wan vs. Anikan (RotS)
It is my opinion that the fight between Obi-Wan and Anikan on Mustafar is the scene that best captures what makes Star Wars awesome. It has lightsabers. It has an epic battle. It takes place in an exotic, alien environment. It is emotionally charged. And finally it has an epic soundtrack. Seriously watch it, it is awesome: