Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ad Astra vs. Star Wars Remixed, Part I

AD ASTRA is specifically a repurposing of my STAR WARS REMIXED setting into a new setting that is "generic"; i.e., Star Wars without the Star Wars I/P.  It'll migrate in time even more away from what is already a pretty divergent interpretation of the Star Wars canon, but in the meantime, it makes sense to draw some very specific parallels; what will eventually be AD ASTRA setting elements that started out as STAR WARS REMIXED setting elements before being renamed and gradually evolving into their own things entirely.

It's helpful if you're familiar with the STAR WARS REMIXED setting a bit.  Let me first link to my Star Wars m20 document.  Let me second, cross post some portions of the STAR WARS REMIXED setting description here.  In Part II, I'll then label many setting elements with all new AD ASTRA labels.

I had thought that I'd described the STAR WARS REMIXED setting here before, and while I have, here and there, it's a bit out of date, and poorly organized, and not conducive to simply being linked, so I thought it worthwhile to copy and paste the setting portions from the m20 document right here.

Setting Intro
STAR WARS
Episode n
OUT OF DARNESS
More than a thousand years after the prophecy of the CHOSEN ONE was fulfilled, the galaxy is emerging from the chaos of a lengthy DARK AGE. The old governments and institutions are gone and new ones struggle to find their place as they rise from the ashes of the old.
 
Emerging superpowers, many with their own traditions of knights who use the mystic power of THE FORCE threaten to break the tense peace of a brooding cold war, and the looming threat of TOTAL WAR casts its shadow across the stars. In this tense environment, feisty bands of independent entrepreneurs, including budding force talents that belong to no standard knightly tradition, emerge on to center stage of the galaxy, caught up unawares in a political gambit where they will find themselves pawns of the nefarious SITH LORDS and their allies the Nightsisters to bring the Revanchist Republic and the long-standing Bern Monarchy to war...
So… as the opening crawl above states, “my” Star Wars setting is fairly far removed from the movies in time, much as the Old Republic setting is far removed from the movies in time. Knights of the Old Republic—the original game is what gave me the idea. It’s not a unique idea; as I was developing my first pass at this setting several years ago, Dark Horse announced Star Wars: Legacy, and I picked up Issue #0, only to see that they’d either (1) totally used the same idea I had, or (2) totally come up with better ideas than I had! So, I took the former as confirmation that the ideas were good, and the latter as opportunities to improve my own setting.

But there are a number of key factors that are significantly different from what Legacy did that need to be addressed.

  • I’m way farther out in time than Legacy. Wookiepedia makes a big deal of the fact that the Legacy comic books take place 125 (or so) years after Jedi whereas mine take place a good thousand years later. There is no living memory of the events of Jedi anymore, and much of what happened has passed into legend, which means that truthful details have often been lost in favor of fanciful or politically expedient ones.
  • Jedi vs. Sith is, of course, the core conflict of any canonical Star Wars story (with the exception of some of the more scoundrelish stories, of course) but I’ve expanded that conflict greatly. My original idea was that the Jedi Order had something happen to it much like what happened to the Christian Church, where it went from centralized and common to splintered by something not unlike the Reformation. Stealing the idea of the Imperial Knights as one of the most important of the factions, I still went with the notion of more independent and varied traditions of Force and lightsaber wielding Knights. More conflict always makes for more drama and fun, after all.
  • Although Star Wars is famous for being pretty black and white, the prequels really changed that (frankly, the original trilogy had a bunch of that going on, but it was on slow simmer back then.) The Jedi were not really always portrayed as being wise, just, and good—although I think that sometimes the lack of that portrayal was accidental and based on George Lucas’ weakness as a storyteller rather than because he was really trying to introduce moral complexity to the series. My version of the story will tread a middle ground between black, white and grays—not unlike the Old Republic games, I’d think, except hopefully less corny.
  • The Star Wars franchise has, at various times, had different feels and tones over time. I’m aiming mostly for the feel and tone of the first movie or two—Flash Gordon swashbuckling space fantasy, with some of the darkness and conflict of Empire but not the attempted (and failed) seriousness of, say, the prequels. More action and swashbuckling, less philosophy and self-righteous preachiness. More handwavey and fast-paced rather than hard science fiction and thoughtful. Star Wars is, after all, the “science fiction” that introduced parsecs as a unit of time (instead of distance in space) and referred to “hydro-spanners” (water wrenches?)
  • Legacy had to account for Expanded Universe stuff. I don’t. I actually take a perverse pleasure in watching stuff like the Clone Wars or Rebels cartoons skewer EU material (and then, curiously, have EU custodians bend over backwards to try and retcon the Clone Wars into the EU without changing it, even when it makes no sense whatsoever. The treatment of Mandalorians, Rodians and Dathomir in particular are subject to this problem—the Clone Wars clearly went a totally different and incompatible direction on those than the EU, but the EU tried to digest the Clone Wars without changing. The result is satisfying to no one.) For my purposes, canonical material is the theatrical release movies (counting the Clone Wars pilot theatrical release), the Clone Wars and Rebels cartoon shows, and as a junior tier (and therefore more subject to change at my whim), the Old Republic material from the three computer games with that name. In reality, none of that really matters all too much, because by setting the game 1,000 years in the future from the older material, I’ve removed it sufficiently that I don’t have to explain why any detail doesn’t show up—after all, it’s 1,000 years later and lots can have changed.
  • Rather than the open warfare of the Galactic Civil War, I’ve got more of a Cold War environment with lots of players—the Monarchy, the Revanchist Republic, the Sith Empire, the Hutt Cartels, the Mandalorian Confederacy, the Corporate Conglomerate, etc. Again, this is more about giving me lots of opportunity to set up conflict, and the ability to make it a bit more varied than just Rebels vs. Stormtroopers and Jedi vs. Sith all the time. This also a bit of a noirish bent to Star Wars normally—organized crime has played an important role in the franchise from the very beginning. And much of it has to feel like a wild and wooly Old West in space—certainly Mos Eisley, that “wretched hive of scum and villainy” comes across that way.

Knight Orders

Gray Marshals: The personal agents of King Maddav Bern, the Gray Marshals are famous for their devotion to the Monarchy. They operate with a great deal of independence in their role, and often can be seen on their own. Only fully trained Marshals are allowed in the field, so there’s really no good reason for a squire (called padawan by some other orders) to be out on assignment. While on duty, and not incognito, Marshals are famous for their black flight suits and their silver or white lightsabers.

Jedi (Orthodox): The goal of the Orthodox Jedi is to recreate the old Jedi Order from before the Purge. Seeking out clues and lingering evidence of how the Order used to operate, the Orthodox Jedi are too involved in their own concerns to be overtly political, as other orders are. Orthodox Jedi usually travel in their errands by twos—a knight and a padawan together. Although not required, most Orthodox Jedi use blue lightsabers, whereas Skywalkers prefer green. But that’s merely a preference, not an absolute.

Jedi (Skywalkers): Rejecting the rigid dispassion of the original Jedi Order, the Skywalkers believe that the compassionate and activist stance of Anakin and Luke is the way to balance the Force. They take their name as well as their approach from the order founded by Luke following the Battle of Endor. Closely associated with the Revanchist Republic, the Skywalkers are famous as do-gooders throughout the galaxy. They’re infamous for doing so with smugness, self-righteousness and a heavy-hand all too often, however. And a closely guarded secret of the order is the large number of Skywalkers who fall to the Dark Side…

The Cyborg Order: Knights who supplement their fighting abilities with cybernetic augmentations, as did the Chosen One himself, or so they imagine. In reality, these Knights tend to more closely resemble General Grievous than Darth Vader. They are loosely associated with the Corporate Worlds and their combat droid armies, making their resemblance to the erstwhile general even more pronounced, although not deliberate. Because of their location in the galaxy, they can more easily access yellowish lightsaber crystals, which grow naturally on Yuggoth, an icy planet in the Corporate Sector, making yellowish lightsabers more common amongst the Cyborg Order.

The Nightsisters and Nightbrothers: This insular and secretive order has grown tremendously since its days of isolation on Dathomir, where Count Dooku nearly destroyed them overnight during the Clone Wars. Now, a galaxy-wide cult who settle in isolated enclaves and cells throughout the galaxy, Nightsisters and their odd relationship with the Nightbrothers, can be found on many wild and often inhospitable planets. Many are allied with the Sith Empire, although the Sith obviously have their own order of knights as well. Nightsisters and Nightbrothers do not typically use lightsabers, although some of them have discovered the ancient secrets of making darksabers, and more and more this antique-style weapon is showing up in the hands of Nightbrothers in particular.

Sith: After the disastrous risk to the order was revealed if the apprentice kills the Master and doesn’t ascend to his place (i.e., the death of Darth Sidious) those who have attempted to follow in the footsteps of the old Sith order have looked much further back to the ancient Sith Empire rather than the more recent age of the Rule of Two as their model. The master/apprentice dynamic is still important to the Sith, but many such pairings exist throughout the galaxy, reporting loosely to a Dread Council of Arch Heretics, and the Sith Emperor himself. The Sith are infamous for their red lightsabers, made of synthetic crystals. However, because synthetic crystals are often easier to come by than natural ones, seeing a red lightsaber is not necessarily a clue that you’re looking at a Sith Knight anymore.

Independents: In addition to these major (and many other minor) Knightly orders, there are a great many individuals who can use the Force as their ally, and who carry lightsabers or similar weapons. Some have trained with an Order, but turned their backs to its traditions, while others have sought out solitary masters who follow esoteric codes or traditions, and some very few are even self-taught. Because of this, there is no way to generalize what an independent knight looks like, thinks like, or what his philosophy may be, but they are indeed varied and often strange.

Political Groups

The Bern Monarchy: Following the Battle of Endor and the subsequent rise and fall of the First Order, the Empire was dealt what appeared to a be a mortal blow, but things are never, of course, so simple. Much of the Imperial citizenry—especially the military—saw themselves as the heirs of a glorious tradition stretching back thousands of years into the age of the Old Republic. If Palpatine and Snoke were bad seeds, well that didn't invalidate generation after generation of tradition. Surrendering to barbarians, anarchists and malcontents—as they saw the Rebel Alliance—or the traitors who colluded with them in the old Senate and elsewhere, was never going to happen. Seeing themselves as heirs to the Old Republic through the unfortunate hiccup of the Empire and then the First Order respectively, this ancient tradition evolved into the Monarchy. While not nearly as vast as during the heyday of the Old Republic, the Monarchy is still one of the largest and strongest of the superpowers in the galaxy. Protected by the Gray Marshals, paramilitary agents capable of standing toe to toe with Sith or Jedi, the Monarchy is well-provided for with its own Force and lightsaber wielding Knightly tradition.

  • Capital: Raxus Secundus (former capital of the Separatist Confederacy, seen in the Clone Wars episode "Heroes on Both Sides."
  • Leader: Maddav Bern, King
  • Military: Stormtroopers and others, fleets of thirteenth generation Star Destroyers, Gray Marshals
  • Alliances and Enemies: The Monarchy sees the Sith Empire as its primary rival for power, and the Republic as its primary ideological rival. It has a relatively friendly relationship with the Mandalorians.
  • Galactic Control: Between direct control and allied systems, about 15% of the galaxy owes some degree of allegiance to the Monarchy.
  • Cultural attitude towards Knights: The Gray Marshalls are an enshrined, official organization. Because of their tradition of strong loyalty to the Monarchy, they are viewed with a great deal of respect throughout the Monarchy's territory. Other knights are viewed with suspicion or outright hostility, especially the Jedi. Echoes of the ancient perception that the Jedi betrayed the Republic and carried out the Clone War in defiance of the will of the people remain strong.

The Revanchist Republic: The direct heir to the New Republic established by Mon Mothma, Leia Organa, and the rest of the architects of the Rebel Alliance, the Republic has had many generations of hardship. While many of the Rebels and later the Resistance were well-meaning idealists who wanted nothing more than a restoration to the way things were before Palpatine, it was clear that too many in both groups were little more than scoundrels, pirates, and other opportunists who took advantage of the chaos of the Galactic Civil War to line their pockets with what plunder and pillage they could. Following short periods of relative peace, the Republic was plagued by periods of violence and anarchy, not unlike an extended comparison with France following the overthrow of the Bourbon monarchs. After being reduced to a mere handful of Core worlds, the Republic finally got its act together and started aggressively retaking former territory, "liberating it" from whatever "tyranny" might have been occupying it. This revanchist policy has been adopted officially as its new name, the Revanchist Republic, an emerging, feisty superpower—-not really a rival yet to the Monarchy or the Empire, but a growing power nonetheless.

  • Capital: Coruscant
  • Leader: Mon Organa, Supreme Chancellor
  • Military:"Freedom" troopers, and Calamari built fleet, association with the Skywalker Knights
  • Alliances and Enemies: the truculent and often self-righteous approach of the Republic has won them little in terms of friendships, but they have cool alliances of convenience at times with the Monarchy, the Hutts and the Mandalorians. The Republic sees the Monarchy as a continuation of the Empire that they claim responsibility for overthrowing many generations ago, and the Sith are greatly disliked for obvious reasons.
  • Galactic Control: Was down considerably, but as the revanchist movement gains some ground, about 10% of the galaxy owes some degree of allegiance to the Republic, albeit sometimes somewhat grudgingly.
  • Cultural attitude toward Knights: The Jedi (both varieties) and some independent Knights keep a low profile, but are usually viewed favorably, if a bit warily. The Republic hates Sith knights, with the belief that the Sith overthrew the Old Republic, of which the Revanchist Republic claims to be the true heir.

The Sith Empire: Centered on the ancient capital of Dromund Kaas, the Sith Empire may be the most powerful polity in the galaxy—although that often works to its disadvantage when no other group trusts them, and they are often "ganged up on" both diplomatically and militarily by wary other governments who find tenuous alliance in restraining the ambition of the Sith. But the Sith are patient in their ambition to rule the entire galaxy, and are seemingly content to hold strongly to their existing territory and advance slowly over their opponents over the course of generations. Black-garbed Sith soldiers bring a measure of order to the galaxy, or at least so say the Empire's apologists. And drawing from the ranks of both Sith acolytes as well as their allies the Nightsisters and Nightbrothers, the ranks of Force-using knights who serve the Empire's interests is considerable.

  • Capital: Dromund Kaas, the ancient Sith capital during the Old Republic age, reclaimed and re-established again.
  • Leader: The Sith Emperor, name unknown
  • Military: black or chrome garbed Sith troopers, a powerful Armada, sometime alliances with Nightbrother and Nightsister warriors, and Sith Knights, the most feared "face" of the Empire.
  • Alliances and Enemies: Occasionally allied with the Mandalorians, the Sith, as the biggest guys in the galaxy and the most feared, infrequently find common cause with any of the other superpowers.
  • Galactic Control: Some 20% of the galaxy either belongs directly to the Sith Empire, or is part of a somewhat looser protectorate puppet government
  • Cultural attitude toward Knights: Knights are viewed with fear and great respect. Citizens tend to believe that Jedi, Gray Marshals and other knights are not unlike Sith knights, except in their politics. In this, they understand little of the differences between the light and dark sides of the Force.

The Corporate Sector: In the chaos of the Dark Age, many large corporations were more stable and less corrupt than most governments. And in a large reach of the Inner Realm worlds, the corporations essentially became the government. Providing a high quality of life to those citizens willing to combine civil service and their careers together, the Corporate Sector has beat back all attempts by traditional governments to integrate them fully. Protected by vast droid armies and loosely allied with the many knights of the Cyborg Order, the Corporate Sector may indeed be mercenary—by definition even—but that doesn't mean that they're more corrupt or heavy-handed than any other government. The watchword of the Corporate citizens is professionalism in all aspects of life.

  • Capital: various regional capitals, but the artificial planet known only as HQ is often seen as the center of Corporate policy
  • Leader: various CEOs and Presidents, but Lord Alfram Roole is the most important and charismatic face, who frequently speaks for the entire Corporate sector
  • Military: both militia troops and vast hordes of battle droids, often led by allied Cyborg Order Knights
  • Alliances and Enemies: Rarely overtly aggressive, the Corporate Sector groups often have a tangle of alliances of various types with all of the powers. They are among the most likely to do business with the Sith
  • Galactic Control: Some 10% of the galaxy owes some form of allegiance to the Corporations
  • Cultural attitude towards Knights: Knights are viewed warily, although some come to be seen as trustworthy and able advisors or consultants, particularly those of the Cyborg Order.

Hutt Cartel: Infamous as making up the dark tentacles of a seedy underworld throughout much of the rest of the galaxy, there also is a patch of the galaxy where the Hutt's rule as undisputed masters continues as it has without change for millennia. Rather than strong traditional military, the Hutt's have relied on each Hutt master's private militia, often consisting of eclectic and unusual companies of mercenaries. This disunity might be seen as weakness, and certainly seldom have the Hutt's engaged in overt acts of conquest or military adventurism, in reality the Hutt's maintain a strong enough presence that their place has not been seriously threatened in generations.

  • Capital: Nal Hutta
  • Leader: Various, but the Hutt Council of Lords speaks for the entire group
  • Military: private militias of various Hutt Lords, accompanied by purchased battle droids and mercenaries
  • Alliances and Enemies: a long association with the Mandalorians has dwindled somewhat in recent years, but the Hutts find their most likely common cause still with them. They occasionally engage in Machiavellian alliances with the Sith as well.
  • Galactic Control: About 5% of the galaxy owes allegiance to the Hutt space.
  • Cultural attitude towards Knights: Knights are viewed with respect for their abilities. Knights that are strongly associated with one of the political groups are viewed warily, but not because they are knights, but because they are so strongly associated as agents of their government. A number of independent knights, belonging to minor orders, or even no order at all, operate here as mercenaries, bounty hunters, and other types of fringers.

The Mandalorian Arm: Following the disastrous collapse of Duchess Satine's well-meaning but foolishly naive pacifist regime, the Mandalorians looked more to their glorious and storied warrior past on which to model their society. Death Watch themselves were still seen as an equally dangerous extreme as Satine's pacifism, yet the evolving Mandalorian society grew to resemble Death Watch more than many realized. Initially allied strongly with the Hutts, the Mandalorian Arm—so known because its territory is centered on one of the spiral arms of the galaxy—has grown in power and prestige so that it can treat with the other Great Powers as an equal. Although some Mandalorians are born with the genetic predisposition to be Knights (as are most groups in the galaxy), there is no real tradition of force-user training amongst them. Rather, a fully trained and equipped Mandalorian supercommando can fairly be considered the equal of any Knight in combat without using the Force—a point of pride for Mandalorian soldiers.

  • Capital: Mandalore
  • Leader: Jerec Vizsla, of the ascendant Viszla clan
  • Military: Both regular troops and fleet, as well as the elite supercommandos
  • Alliances and Enemies: The Mandalorians are at open war with no one, but their tendency to deal more with the Hutts and Sith than anyone else will has made them somewhat untrustworthy in the eyes of the Republic and the Monarchy. Still, supercommando mercenary groups, while not officially part of the governmental military (their first allegiance is to their own clan) can be seen across the galaxy in the employ of many
  • Galactic Control: About 5% of the galaxy recognizes some level of sovereignty of the Mandalorians, although in some cases that's a very loose client or vassal arrangement.
  • Cultural attitude towards Knights: Knights are respected for what they can do, but Mandalorians take great pride in their ability to match a knight in one-on-one combat without using the Force at all (replacing Force abilities with technology in their supercommando battle-armor, usually, as well as intense training.) Mandalorians are generally tolerant of knights who are not acting overtly as agents of another super-power, however. Many independent knights make their homes in Mandalorian space, where they are less likely to come into unnecessary conflict with others.

Independents: The largest plurality of worlds in the galaxy belongs to none of the super-powers at all. Certainly, some smaller multi-system polities exist, like the Chiss Ascendency, or others, but all of them are small enough that they do not control an appreciable percentage of the worlds cataloged in the galaxy. Some of these are able to maintain independence by virtue of their own strength, either diplomatic or militarily, such as Umbara and the Chiss. In many ways, these independent governments are like smaller versions of the Mandalorians or the Hutts. Others have managed to eke out a precarious neutrality because their neutrality is valuable to one or more of the super-powers. These systems are living on borrowed time, however, if the Cold War erupts into a hot war, in which case the treaties that guarantee them their neutrality will likely be ignored by aggressors. And finally, many worlds manage to hold on to neutrality simply by virtue that they are small and unimportant enough to fly under the radar of the superpowers. If they lack any significant strategic or tactical benefit, and don't have any resources that are vital, they can manage to stay neutral, and can even hope to do so in the event of a greater war.

  • Galactic Control: About 35% of the systems in the galaxy are not allied with any super-power at all.

Locations 1,000 Years after Return of the Jedi

A list of a few select locations in the Star Wars canon, including what's happened to them in the 1,000 years since they were last seen in the movies.

Coruscant: Coruscant currently is the capital of the Revanchist Republic. Like a modern day Jerusalem, its significance to various political groups is huge. To the Bern Monarchy, it rankles that Coruscant doesn't belong to them, since they see themselves as the unbroken continuation of the Old Republic through the Empire and into the Monarchy. To them, it is naturally their home planet as well. About 300 years ago, Tiranos Bern, a distant ancestor of today's king, Maddav Bern, declared a Crusade to liberate Coruscant from the hands of the Republic, which was at that time weak, riddled with corruption, and political infighting. The Monarchy held it for twenty years even, although the insult of losing their capital finally united the Republic into a semi-cohesive whole. With the recapture of Coruscant, they officially became the Revanchist Republic, and their revanchist agenda took off, putting them at open war with the Monarchy and the Empire both. It's to their credit that they were even able to survive that time at all, much less thrive and grow, until peace settled again uneasily over the galaxy.

Coruscant remains a world rife with political division, class and social division, and more. Dissidents, terrorists, activists, and other malcontents lurk under the surface, and the grim and overcrowded underworld of Coruscant is still an easy place in which to get lost, either on accident or on purpose. The bright and classy world of the surface is a different world altogether from the dingy and anarchic underworld, which is patrolled insufficiently by law enforcement to be little better than a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Criminals, political malcontents, and spies make up a shocking percentage of the population.

The Senate still remains in power, and their rebuilt Senate building strongly resembles the former one. The Jedi temple is now a public park, though. The Skywalker Jedi operate frequently on Coruscant, but have smaller, more modest temples scattered throughout the planet. Orthodox Jedi also live here, and some even tend the old temple, although they have been unsuccessful in their attempt to sue for its return to their order.

Tatooine: Once famous as a semi-lawless place, far from the bright center of the galaxy, and ruled by the Hutts and other gangsters, Tatooine has undergone quite the transformation in the last 1,000 years. Oh, it's still harsh desert, with the Dune Seas covering much of the surface, and the Jundland wastes cover other large areas. And it's still lawless. If anything, it's in fact quite a bit more lawless than it was under the Hutts.

As the home world of both Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One himself, and his son Luke, who redeemed him and together brought balance to The Force, Tatooine has become a major pilgrimage site for knights, historians, and more who all want to see what makes this hot wasteland so special. Indeed, some have developed philosophies that the harsh environment is what led to the strength and fortitude of the Skywalkers, and would-be utopian communities of various stripes dot the surface here and there. Some of them thrive, after a fashion, butmany more wither and die as their philosophical fervor fades and they move on to other things, or fall prey to sand people... or worse.

Many of those who now live on Tatooine either serve the needs of the pilgrimage tourist trade, or parasitically feed on it. Tatooine is still a dangerous place, and one haunted by mercenaries, bounty hunters, criminals and worse. While the Hutts gave up on the planet in disgust rather than fight Jedi pilgrims over such paltry resources as the planet afforded, the only powers to fill in the void left by their departure have been regional and highly unstable. One does not ask which crime lord is ascendant on Tatooine, one asks which crime lord is ascendant today.

Raxus: Two planets make up this system. Raxus Secundus was once the Separatist Confederacy capital. Although abandoned at the end of the Clone Wars, the Monarchy later appropriated and renovated Raxus Secundus, and the Separatist government buildings now make up the bulk of the official buildings of the Monarchy's bureaucracy. The Bern palace is even located on Raxus Secundus, which in spite of being the home of such bureaucracy and the seat of so much power, remains a somewhat rural locale, with rolling plains unspoiled by over-development, by tradition. The Bern monarchs in general have decreed that it be retained as a kind of garden or preserve world, and the current monarch, Maddav Bern, has reiterated that policy.

Raxus Prime, on the other hand, remains an industrial wasteland, a dumping ground filled with junk and sludge. However, the remains of ships and droids means that Raxus Prime is an important source of resources, and salvage crews and salvage droids scour the surface of his planet with regularity. In the past, Raxus Prime was quite lawless—following the fall of the Separatist Parliament, the entire Raxus system fell into disfavor. Now, being so close to the capital of the Monarchy, the Bern's would not tolerate Raxus Prime as a lawless junk world, however. Security remains fairly tight on Raxus Prime.

That said, it is only lightly inhabited and insufficiently patrolled to be completely foolproof. Raxus Prime remains a beachhead for the seditious, smugglers, and more.

Dathomir: Dathomir was the original home of the related cults of the Nightsisters and Nightbrothers. When Mother Talzin and Nightsister Asajj Ventress meddled in the affairs of the Sith Lord, Count Dooku during the Clone Wars, they incurred his wrath. He sent General Grievous with an invasion force to wipe them out, and nearly succeeded (although Mother Talzin, Ventress, and a few others did escape the initial massacre. See Clone Wars season 4 episode "Massacre" for details.)

This ended up not being the end of the Nightsister and Nightbrother cults, however. The Nightbrothers were untouched by the massacre, and given the low numbers of the sisters after the massacre, the Nightbrothers were able to start dealing with them from a position of greater strength. The subservient position of the brothers relative to the sisters started to change.

Also, after the near massacre, the cults decided to establish new cells throughout the galaxy, rather than be grouped together all in one location. Today, the Nightbrothers and Nightsisters cults are relatively common, and knights from both can be seen throughout the galaxy. Although the cults have largely grown together into a single cult, they still retain the formal distinction for tradition's sake. The sisters are more likely to be the sorceress-type archetypes, while the brothers, following in the example of Darth Maul and Savage Opress, are warrior knights, wielding traditional red lightsabers, or more likely, darksabers. Although occasionally uneasily allied with the Sith, the Nightsisters and Nightbrothers remain completely separate cults from the way of the Sith, and in general do not acknowledge the superiority or authority of the Sith Dread Council or the Sith Emperor, except politically.

Despite this spread of the Nightsibling cults, Dathomir remains their home planet, and many make pilgrimages there at some point in their careers. Thriving colonies of Nightsisters and Nightbrothers remain still on Dathomir. Their allies, the Sith, are occasionally welcome, as are—on rare occasions—knights of other orders. But the cults have become wary of other knights, and avoid or attack them most often, rather than deal with them.

Ilum: Ilum was the traditional place where Jedi found their lightsaber crystals during the Old Republic, and up through the Clone Wars. Following the Jedi purge, Emperor Palpatine had the Jedi temple on Ilum destroyed. Luke Skywalker was, in fact, unaware (or at least unable to travel to) Ilum when he had to create his own lightsaber. Because of this, Jedi following in Luke's footsteps and tutelage were much more likely to use synthetic crystals, given that natural crystals were very difficult to find or use.

Synthetic crystals also led to a wide variety of color variation, although many Orders of knights eventually tried to settle on a color that was "theirs", in particular to try and separate themselves from other Orders.

Today, most of the major orders have settled on a crystal color. The Orthodox Jedi, though, in accordance with their stated goals of recreating the entire process and practices of the Jedi Order prior to the Purge, have reclaimed Ilum, and in fact have their primary temple and headquarters located in the ruins of the old temple, which they've largely renovated and repaired. The Orthodox Jedi tend to have blue crystals, most of the time, but they strongly dislike using synthetic crystals, and Ilum is their preferred crystal location.

Other orders are not typically welcomed on Ilum, and that lack of welcome often manifests as outright hostility.

Hoth: As a major battlefield of the Imperial era wars, Hoth gained a bit of notoriety many centuries ago, and it's now no longer a world that is greeted with a blank stare or a shrug when mentioned. That doesn't mean that much in the way of valuable resources have been found here. Hoth has a few small communities, that mostly cater to smugglers or other ne'er-do-wells, much as Admiral Ozzel believed the rebel base to be. But a few hardy gas miners have discovered that chemical reactions deep under the ice have produced stores of tibana gas, and other useful gases that can be converted to fuel. There isn't exactly a Tibana Rush on the planet, but a few solitary, independent types manage to eke out a reasonably comfortable living on Hoth even so.

And occasionally rumors will float about that some independent knight has discovered crystal caves where lightsaber crystals grow naturally on Hoth, as they do on the ecologically similar Ilum. This has never been officially confirmed; if any knights are finding crystals, they're keeping that find close. But knights do occasionally arrive here to scout out the planet, and occasionally come into conflict with each other. The locals often look at the arrival of a knight as if it were the arrival of a potentially dangerous and notorious gunfighter in an Old West town. They are respectful, but try to encourage them to move on as much as possible. and prefer to keep them from coming into conflict with each other as much as possible too.

Mandalore: The domed, glass-like cities of Mandalore have continued to grow. The ruined ecology of the planet, and the white, sterile sands of areas like the Sundari Wastes, continue to dominate the planet, but slowly... ever so slowly... it has started to make a comeback in small pockets. Plants, imported from Concordia, have started, first as carefully tended private gardens, and finally growing into self-sustaining preserves.

Mandalore today is the capital of Mandalorian society, but no longer its single locus. As the power and influence of the Mandalorians grew, so too has the area which they claim. Colonists, encouraged by cultural and governmentally induced incentives, have spread rapidly, procreated wildly, and Mandalorian culture is now "native" to dozens of nearby systems. Many other systems have sworn vassalage to the Mandalorians, and collectively this entire area is known as the Mandalorian Arm of the galaxy. The vassal states are not truly considered Mandalorian themselves, at least not by Mandalorians, who are very particular about their cultural and ethnic purity. Although there have been some conversions of non-Mandalorians into Mandalorian culture and mixed race marriages, by and large the original Nordic Mandalorian ethnic group remains as it was during the Clone Wars. Quasi-religious cultural traditionalism has enforced an extraordinary level of cultural stability into the Mandalorian way of life in a way not unlike that of the Ashkenazi Jew.

Many of the Mandalorian vassals or clients have taken to imitating many aspects of Mandalorian culture, including developing their own traditions of battle-suits and mercenary military service. These clients are careful not to copy the Mandalorian template too closely, as the Mandalorians are very zealous about the uniqueness of their battle-armor, and dislike too open imitation as disrespectful and gauche.

A curious fact is that the descendants of many clones, decommissioned after the Empire was defeated at Endor, have made their way to this area. Although not per se part of Mandalorian society, they see somehow a connection (through Jango Fett, a shadowy historical figure who the clones look to as an ancestor, and who the Mandalorians look to as an imitator and source of some shame.) The relationship between the ethnic Mandalorians and the ethnic clone descendants is somewhat strained on occasion, yet remains an interesting dynamic, as they number at least as many as the Mandalorians themselves in Mandalorian territory, and have their own traditions of martial excellence. While outside of Mandalorian society proper, they still retain a somewhat favored position as a largely pluralistic segment of society that cannot be ignored, and who have, by tradition, maintained a military cohesiveness that rivals that of the Mandalorians themselves.

Nal Hutta: This slimy swamp is the home world to the Hutts. They keep it as a kind of preserve, though, and have strict immigration controls. Much of the planet remains in a state of greenish-yellow swamp, overcast and undeveloped. A few cities still remain, including Bilbousa, and it remains the capital of the Hutt Cartels.

However, following the fall of the Hutts—albeit not for long—to Darth Maul and Death Watch’s so-called Shadow Collective, the Hutts have diversified to protect themselves. While most Hutt Lords maintain palaces on Nal Hutta, few stay there permanently, and many have spread throughout much of Hutt space, to make the Hutt Cartel as a whole less vulnerable to potential attack. The Hutts, when on Nal Hutta, maintain a strong presence of mercenary bodyguards and militia, including—if they can get them—Mandalorian supercommandos and fallen or independent knights.

Other than in the heavily armed Hutt palaces, however, Nal Hutta remains a relatively lawless place, with little in the way of government oversight. Because of this, it prospers, but gangsters and organized crime remain a significant deterrent to ever truly expanding its trade and commerce base beyond items that are otherwise illicit or illegal throughout much of the galaxy. Slave trading cartels, spice trading cartels and more make up much of Nal Hutta’s import/export business.

Nar Shaddaa: Nar Shaddaa remains much as it ever was; a kind of Monte Carlo, Las Vegas, Bangkok and Tortuga of the galaxy, all rolled up into one and under the control of the Hutts. As a side note: much of the EU material, or Star Wars Legends canon, as its now called, calls Nar Shaddaa a moon of Nal Hutta, the galaxy map of Star Wars Insider #65 shows it as an independent planet, which is how I’ve chosen to treat it.

Nar Shaddaa is a hotbed of political intrigue. While it’s in Hutt Space and is loyal to the Hutt Cartel, it plays no favorites, and the Hutt’s famous general trend of neutrality between the three superpowers means that embassies and espionage from all three are commonplace in the dark streets of Nar Shaddaa. It still has the same reputation as a wildly dangerous place that it’s always had, but now one with a particular partisan bent, as shadow wars rage in the streets between proxies. All parties are careful to keep this activity at least marginally discrete, however, as the Hutts’ are only laid-back hosts to the degree that their own interests are not threatened.

Moraband: While an important planet to the Sith for historical, archeological and cultural reasons, in reality there is little on the planet to tempt the Sith today, and they maintain it more as a curiosity than for any other reason. Many Sith knights make pilgrimages to the planet as part of their training, but few remain. The ruins that once dominated the Valley of the Dark Lords are mostly stripped clean of any artifacts of interest or note, and many of the ruins toppled or defaced.

The Sith tolerate a few unusual features about Moraband, however. Several pirate and smuggler operations are here, known to the Empire, but not molested. The inhabitants of these enclaves are particularly vicious and paranoid, as might be expected, since few of them know of the official tolerance for their activity, and they feel that they may be rooted out by feared Sith Knights and their black-garbed troopers at any time if discovered. In truth, it’s not clear what the Empire tolerates them for, although it may be as simple as the fact that the harshly competitive meritocracy of this environment has been a good source of potential recruits for them; force sensitive pirates are trained as apprentice Knights, and those who are not become highly skilled agents-provocateurs for the Empire, often drafted into dangerous yet important missions on behalf of the Empire.

The Sith also tolerate several villages of Nightbrothers and Nightsisters on Moraband, including some of the most important and centralized points of the cult. While the Sith cult and the Nightsiblings cult have usually enjoyed friendly relations, it is not clear why this particular tolerance is allowed on what is a site important to the Sith cults’ heritage. It is observable, however, that the Nightsiblings cult on Moraband has gradually migrated more and more into being one that resembles the ancient Sith cult itself. It is believed by a very few who are aware of this phenomena that this tolerance may actually be part of a long-term conspiracy to draw the Nightsiblings cult directly into the Sith cult itself and merge the two. The whispering of the Dark Side and the ghosts—rather real or echoed—of past Sith Lords who still wander the blasted badlands of Moraband may be instrumental in bringing this to pass.

Dromund Kaas: The capital of the Empire is the ancient capital of Dromund Kaas. It is much as it was during The Old Republic in many ways, although Kaas city has grown to encompass much of the surface area of the planet. Very little of the old jungles remain.  In general, Dromund Kaas can be seen as a darker and much more militarized mirror of Coruscant as it was.

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