Here’s Part 4 of endnotes for The Essential Guide to Warfare.
CHAPTER 4: WARS WITH THE SITH
The Great Hyperspace War: From ace co-author Paul Urquhart: “This section was cut down heavily, and one thing I was sorry to lose was the precise dating of the invasion, which showed up in earlier drafts (though it never got vetted by Lucasfilm): 3rd of Fifth Month, 5,000 BBY. Fans who think about these things too much often frown at the round-number gaps between the eras of Star Wars, but I thought it would be nicely nuanced if Darth Sidious’s unveiling of the Death Star (and perhaps some of the other dates hung on century marks in between) were timed to coincide with the anniversary.
“The biggest challenge in this section was having to juggle the very different perspectives on the Sith Empire and the ancient Republic that show up in different parts of canon. The comics that first explored this era showed a distinctly ‘medieval’ society, with lots of edged weapons and beasts of burden co-existing inexplicably with hyperdrive-capable starships. More recently, notably in the BioWare games, things have looked much more like the movies — even when stories are set in the same places explored by the comics.
“My solution (at least inside my own head) was to envisage a tension between powerful capitals and outlying sectors: People who migrate to the frontier often hope to escape the pressures of metropolitan society and rediscover a simpler past, but at the same time, the strength and size of powerful places ensures that the frontier settlements can’t compete with them. The difference is that in Sith space, this contrast is expressed through naked brutality, where princes hoard high technology in their treasure-houses and secret workshops, and respond to any threat to their power by keeping people down with violence, forcing the dispossessed out to plot revenge on the frontier — and the pattern of mutual destruction eventually drags the whole empire down into the gutter.
“The asymmetry of the Republic, on the other hand, is economic: The scattered settlers on the average rimworld can’t compete with the billions-strong factory workforce on Coruscant, and thus they’re priced out of developing even a primitive industrial economy, let alone a high-tech space-fantasy one. But in return for necessary exports (ore supplied from Koros, or immigrant workers sending back part of their paycheck to their family), they retain limited access to technology based on dirt-cheap mass-produced imports more advanced than we can possibly imagine.
“Thus, the two sides of an interstellar society produce a combination of spears and hyperdrives, and which side you emphasize depends on how you’re looking at it.
“All this also helps explain the narrative for the Great Hyperspace War: Several sources have established, more or less in passing, that Naga Sadow and the leaders of the Republic were well aware of each other’s existence. Part of the reason the Sith feel so threatened is because cheap Republic imports — including ideas of freedom — have the potential to flood their empire and undermine their power. But you can also look at the leaders on both sides as competing representatives of the centers, clashing shoulders as they extend their control over the resources of the outlying systems.
“All of which, in one way or another, is really a continuation of warfare by other means.”
War and the Mandalorians: Dan Wallace and I were almost finished with the Essential Atlas when we learned the Clone Wars TV show would shake up everything we thought we’d known about the spur-jangling warriors and nomads of the galaxy far, far away. Working quickly, I consulted with Pablo Hidalgo and Leland Chee at LFL to adapt the existing backstory to accommodate Satine and the New Mandalorians, and explain (at least for the most part) how swathes of the planet were turned into wastelands of fine white sand.
Dan and I wanted to do more: Originally, the Atlas was going to include a “Closer Look” at Mandalorian Space, with a local map and write-ups for its major systems. With Mandalorians taking center stage for a number of Lucasfilm projects, that idea was discarded — until Warfare gave me a chance to fill in a gap or two.
I started with more detail about the Taungs and their conquests, showing that their technology was a grab bag of things borrowed, acquired or stolen, though always improved. I also made them responsible for eliminating several species, sharpening the threat they posed to the Republic. (The Tlonians sound like they had it coming, though.)
Mandalore the Ultimate’s story ushers in the era of human Mandalorians. He’d be a remarkable figure to know more about — a leader who arguably ensured the survival of his way of life, but at the expense of his own species’ place in the galaxy.
Aga Awaud is a new character — I wanted another transitional figure, one who would be remembered by Mandalorians of many political stripes later, and celebrated by them. (His story would be an interesting one as well.) We get more detail about the conflict between the Republic and Jedi and the Mandalorians – a conflict I called the Mandalorian Excision. I wanted a cold, clinical name — one that clearly expressed the Republic’s attitude about Mandalore, and that would ensure Mandalorian hatred and resentment. I also wanted to show where the New Mandalorians came from — that their roots were in an effort to engage with the Republic (though on Mandalorian terms) and avoid war. Finally, I tried to make clear that individual clans are rarely of one mind about what’s best for their planet or people: There are Ordos, Vizslas, Kryzes, Fetts and others on every side of every Mando argument.
Beyond all this, though, Mandalorians are just really fun to write about. If you have the chance, why wouldn’t you give them center stage?
The Army of Light: I really like Paul’s exploration of this period – in a galaxy where central order is crumbling, it makes sense that Jedi Lords would emerge as protectors of civilized pockets of space. It’s another play on the theme of what the Jedi should do when the Republic they serve is no longer worthy of that service. I also think this fits nicely with the Sith satrapies brought to life by John Jackson Miller.
From Paul: “The Ruusan campaign is a continuity minefield — and fans of the setting will know that this is made worse by the continuing clash of contrasting perspectives. Darko Macan’s Jedi vs. Sith comics portray Ruusan as a medieval-style setting of edged weapons and peasants, while Drew Karpyshyn’s novel Path of Destruction makes it feel much more like some place in the movies, or the modern world. For me, at least, that’s all just part of the attraction.
“I took the cue from something I learned reading Tim Zahn’s novels, a trick I think Karpyshyn also used several times in Path of Destruction — if you choose the right phrasing, the text can step around a contradiction, deliver subtle retcons and make the clued-in reader think, but without disturbing the average audience member one bit. Take Lord Farfalla’s flagship: In the comic, it’s a flying wooden ship built like a sailing galleon, whereas the novel turns a blind eye to that strangeness and describes his fleet as a pack of gunships. In tying the two sources together, I offered an explanation that hopefully makes the ‘wooden spaceship’ make sense … without mentioning the crazy way it looks like a sailing galleon. I was also influenced by the Antarctic exploration ship RRS Discovery, which I saw as a kid: It’s a wooden ship built in the age of ironclads, because the flexible strength of oak and elm could survive the steady, crushing grip of polar ice when steel would shatter.
“Calling Farfalla ‘half-Bothan’ was another of those little tricks. There’s just a whisper of a hint there that his people might be the product of Sith breeding experiments, and I’m simultaneously nodding, without defining anything, to Leland Chee’s statement that all humanoids with pointy ears are probably descended from the Sephi.
“On a completely different level, thought, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to say here. I’m a medievalist by training, and so I just let rip with a full-on crusading vibe. I hope that the emphasis on the ideals of the knights and their way of life makes the stories told by Darko and Drew more poignant — but I also wanted to suggest that Lord Hoth’s idealistic crusade wasn’t an inherently self-destructive idea, so I tried to find a narrative voice that acknowledges the fate of Ruusan without compromising the ideals of the Army of Light.”
War Portrait: Lord Hoth: Paul says: “A lot of fans will recognize Hoth’s given name as a reference to the Mandalorian warrior and reluctant Jedi ally Rohlan Dyre from John Jackson Miller’s Knights of the Old Republic material, but Rohlan Dyre is, in turn, named to evoke the hero Roland of medieval epic. I like the idea that Rohlan might have become a hero for Jedi troubadors.
“We weren’t sure about linking Lord Hoth explicitly to the Hoth system, since it already appears a lot for a place that was supposedly unknown and uninhabited when the Rebel Base was established there in The Empire Strikes Back. But the decision to include it in The Old Republic tipped us in favor of doing so, and led to John VanFleet’s awesome image. That also enabled me to pay quiet homage to one of my very earliest Star Wars memories: The title Return of the Jedi made me imagine, at the age of four, that the Jedi Knights had been hiding out on Hoth and would come riding out of a blizzard on Tauntauns to save the day.
“Lord Kaan’s first name is a tip of the cap to Shere Khan, the Tiger King in the Jungle Book. The two characters share a penchant for suave, beard-stroking villainy and seductive manipulation of their followers.
“Lord Berethon is a new character, whom I originally came up with to explore an idea that there wasn’t room for: If you had hereditary Jedi Lords, you’d get people who inherited their command roles by accident, even if they weren’t very good at being Jedi, either technically or doctrinally — and that, incidentally, is why he didn’t get gubbled by the Thought Bomb.”
The Ruusan Reformations: Lots of historical crunch here for folks who like that stuff. I tried to set up compelling reasons for the Republic’s standing military to be abolished (while not really going away), for the limits on local forces (note that the restrictions are meant to fit with the old West End Games capital-ship classes), and for the rise of companies such as Kuat Drive Yards and tensions between the Rim and the Core. Set what you have here in motion and wait a few centuries and you’ve got a corrupt mess that’s ripe for exploitation.
Incidentally, those who point out that the plural of “Governor-General” is “Governors-General” and that “general” has nothing to do with a military rank are of course correct. I didn’t know that at the time, and so accidentally wound up creating a class of warlords. (Warlords who would eventually take over the Senate, as explored in the Atlas.)
At least in this case, it really is all my fault. So in for a dime, in for a dollar: Governor-Generals aren’t Governors General. Rather than being governors with broad responsibilities, they’re generals with governing powers. If anyone needs me, I’ll be hiding from the grammarians.
CHAPTER 5: DECLINE OF THE REPUBLIC
The Planetary Security Forces and the Judicials: I know some readers wanted a lot more information about these groups, but “Planetary Security Forces” just doesn’t summon up the John Williams music the way “Imperial Navy” does. Still, I did want to sort through some of the information about the PSFs and the Judicials, and give them their due.
There’s an idea here I wanted to explore a little more thoroughly, but left fairly undefined because things were getting way too dense for all but the most hardcore fans. To oversimplify a bit, the best of the PSFs become the Republic Navy, while the Judicials’ ground forces become the core of the non-clone Army and eventually the non-stormtrooper Imperial Army.
Love the bunny droids serving drinks over there in Darren Tan’s painting. What can’t those guys do?
Ranulph Tarkin and the Rise of the Militarists: Paul and I collaborated here. My mission was to smooth out the narrative of Rogue Planet and show how the Militarists did an end run around the Ruusan Reformations. I think this section also ties in with the later prominence of Eriadu, and with Grand Moff Tarkin’s ambitions.
Paul says: “My main contribution was identifying the technology we see in John Ostrander’s Acts of War comics and equating it with stuff that has been mentioned but not illustrated in the novels and other prose canon: So the fighters Plo Koon leads become A6 Interceptors from the Jedi Apprentice novels, the Stark forces use Kaloth battlecruisers, and Senator Tarkin’s infantry are Special Missions troops, the precursors of the Imperial Army’s crack commandos. It was also fun to try and make some sense of the shifting loyalties and double games that all the characters were playing. The concluding line came out of that process — as I read and re-read the comics to try and work out the real patterns of everyone’s agendas, I got a very subtle sense that Sidious was manipulating everything and everyone off-screen.”
D’harhan and the Cyborg Warriors: One of my favorite sections of Warfare, from a trilogy that I think has some fantastic elements: the christening of KDY warships, Gholondreine, Kud’ar Mub’at and Balancesheet, and above all else the wonderfully tense showdown between the bounty hunters and the Shell Hutts. D’harhan is such a great character – mysterious, frightening, alien and tragic. (I tried hard to fill in some of the backstory without spelling everything out, which would have made D’harhan mundane.) I wrote this section and then kept my fingers crossed that nobody else would beat me to publication with a wholly different backstory. Whew!
I laughed when I read Leland Chee’s reaction to Chris Scalf’s painting: “I want my D’harhan action figure.” Me too! How about it, Hasbro?
Manufacturer: Corellian Engineering: So that’s what Han meant when he boasted of outrunning “the big Corellian ships.” A hopefully satisfying little retcon that only took 35 years to be born.
(On to Part 5)