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Imperial Ranks
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Wajeb Deb Kaadeb

Joined: 07 Apr 2017
Posts: 1452

PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:22 pm    Post subject: Imperial Ranks Reply with quote

I've been looking around, and it seems there is no rhyme or reason to the rank tabs that the Imperial wear.

In Rogue One, I noticed that Director Krennic wore six red tabs in a single line on some uniforms, and in other uniforms, wore two lines of tabs, six red above six blue.

The Imperials have a rank system (at least the symbols for those ranks) that is unconventional. I was reading The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary, and it seems with the First Order, the ranks are based on well known heroes from history. Thus, if you see an officer with Patton written around his sleeve, then he's a 3 Star General. If you see MacArthur, then he's a 5 Star General.

We can't read Aurebesh (at least, I can't), so the rank system would seem unintelligible to someone who didn't know the First Order's methodology.

Which makes me think out of the box a bit on the Imperial Ranks. Maybe color has nothing to do with rank at all. Maybe that's more about station (like Star Trek's colored shirts) or position.

Since Krennic only had one row--the top row--on his uniform in some scenes, it makes me think that the top row is more important--probably the actual rank--than the bottom row. And, the bottom row might be just supporting information.

I'm not convinced that the security cylinders are part of the rank system, but they may be.

Looking at the tabs, I wonder if they're akin to Roman Numberals? Where we are adding and subtracting to find a final rank?

For example, Krennic has six red on the top. This makes him an Admiral (for argument's sake).

Tarkin has six blue. Maybe Blue's are half steps. So, six blue would mean a half step above six Tarkin the higher rank.

There seems to only be three colors used: Red, Blue, and Yellow (Gold or Orange?).

What if Red equals a whole step. Blue equals a half step. And yellow equals a quarter step?

Or, maybe, the colors have an order. Yellow is the highest, followed by blue, followed by red. So, Four red and two yellow is a step below three red and three yellow.

Just thinking out loud.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 1:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, the Imperial rank insignias are all over the place. Except for in TESB, there's no rhyme or reason to any of it. It's been commented on before numerous times. I even tried to take a crack at deciphering it and comparing it to the Rancor Pit's own post/rank badges but to no avail. I don't think George even bothered to think that hard about which insignias denoted which rank, especially when everyone and his mother in ANH gets addressed simply as "commander" no matter what their putative rank really is. Hell, in the beginning of ANH, Darth Vader calls Nahdonnis Praji (the guy who tells Vader about the droids' escape pod) "commander" and in ROTJ, addresses Moff Jerrjerrod, the guy in charge of the second Death Star, as "commander" as well (to state just two examples).

And all this doesn't even take into account that the weird combinations of all the insignias makes for dozens of possible combinations, far more possible ranks than any sort of conventional military would ever need, even assuming that the insignias account for both enlisted and officer ranks.

Don't waste brain cells trying to figure this out, Wajeb. It's not meant to make sense, so there's no point in trying.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In a lot of ways, I think Star Wars was an anomaly, coming out when it did.

While VCR existed when it came out, they weren't the ubiquitous home appliances they would become a decade later. If you saw Star Wars, you were going to see it a few times in the theater, and then maybe at film festivals, on TV, or something... most people weren't going to be able to see it again and again and again. Heck, even Star Trek, with its possibility of syndication, was more likely to be watched repeatedly and with an eye for detail.

And so, you have things like rank insignia. Some folks will naturally come up with a logical system of rank insignia... something that someone can learn, even if they don't understand it immediately, or guess its full impact.* Others will come up with something that "looks good", but doesn't necessarily make a lot of sense if closely examined. And, if you're working under the expectation that no one will have a chance to closely examine it, maybe you save some time and slap some rank tabs on a background character so they have SOMETHING (because not having anything will be more glaring), and the end result is that the rank structure doesn't make any sense, because it wasn't built with care.

And, so, you wind up with stuff like the rank tabs of the Imperial Navy. You aren't going to have tons of people watching it with a pause button, taking notes, because that sort of thing isn't common, yet. So you don't worry too much about it if you have an ensign wearing a grand moff's tabs.

*For an example, look at US Military rank insignia. If you're dealing with enlisted and NCOs, the rule of thumb is pretty easy: Whoever has the most stripes is in charge. There's a lot of nuance, there, that's missed by such a simplistic reduction, but chances are, if you go with the person who has the most stripes, you're going with the highest ranking person. Officer insignia, however, are weird. One gold bar gives way to one silver bar gives way to two silver bars gives way to a gold leaf to a silver leaf to a bird to an increasing number of stars; usual cultural progression of the value of metals would say that a gold bar or leaf is higher than a silver bar or leaf, but that's not the case.
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