Re: Star Wars Episode 7 - 2015
No Emperor. No Vader (outside of a force ghost appearance).
The best way to go is do something similar to the Thrawn Trilogy with the growing Republic facing off against the remnants of the Empire while Luke is off doing his Jedi training crap.
"Who are you?! And how did you get in here?!"
"I'm the locksmith. And... I'm the locksmith."