The Lore of Star Wars: The Old Republic

The hotly anticipated MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) from BioWare has only just been announced, but they've already given us a clear picture of the game's setting and a bit of the lore as well. From what we can tell, you won't need to be a die-hard fan of Star Wars to appreciate the title, which is good news as there's a daunting amount of Star Wars canon out there. That said, it'll certainly help to have at least some grounding in what's going on in Star Wars: The Old Republic. To that end, Massively's put together a brief primer on the lore of SWTOR.

Who is this written for? People who've seen the films but may not necessarily have played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KotOR) on PC or console, and especially those who haven't read the novels or various comic book lines released over the years. Read on, and we'll introduce you to the backdrop and factions of Star Wars: The Old Republic.

In terms of where game is set in the vast expanse of thousands of years of Star Wars canon established across the six movies as well as the aforementioned games, novels, and comics... it's perhaps easiest to relate the setting to the films and to the Knights of the Old Republic (KotOR) series of games.

In relation to the films, Star Wars: The Old Republic takes place 3500 years before Darth Vader was even a glint in a midi-chlorian's eye. For those gamers who are familiar with KotOR, to get a more complete picture of where Star Wars: The Old Republic fits into the expansive timeline, SWTOR takes place 300 years after the events in the KotOR RPG. But for those who aren't familiar with KotOR, the game is set roughly 4000 years before "A New Hope".

At the conclusion of KotOR's Jedi Civil War, the game's Jedi protagonist, Revan, left to seek out the growing Sith Empire. Although Revan did not return, the Sith Empire certainly did centuries later, and in great numbers. Conflict between the Sith and Republic raged for decades, but a tenuous armistice has held open warfare between the factions in check. However, the tensions and events which are occurring in SWTOR now threaten to trigger war once again. And that's where you, as the players, enter into the story. Pretty simple, right?

This establishes the basic premise of conflict between the main factions in the game: The Galactic Republic, the Jedi Order, the Sith Empire, and their masters, the Sith Lords.

The Galactic Republic

Well-known from the Star Wars films, the Galactic Republic is headed by the Galactic Senate, comprised of hundreds of representatives of planets throughout the known galaxy. Their seat of power is the capital planet of Coruscant. The Republic, with its twenty thousand year history, represents a lasting ideal for peace and prosperity, but their very existence is now threatened by the Sith.

The Sith Empire's attack on the Republic and Jedi had dire consequences on the 'good guys' of Star Wars, who -- by signing the Treaty of Coruscant -- agreed to surrender many star systems to the Sith, in turn withdrawing their support of a number of allies as a condition of the truce. The Republic has fallen on hard times, both economic, political, and perhaps even moral. However they hope to one day repel the Sith, using their newly trained squads of Republic Special Forces, which help to fill the vacuum left in the wake of the Jedi Council's bitter departure from Coruscant.

The Jedi Order

As the quintessential peacekeepers, diplomats, and guardians of the Galactic Republic, the Jedi Order saw thousands of their own numbers cut down by the Sith Empire during the war, including six Masters of the Jedi Council. The Galactic Republic has lost faith in its former guardians, while the Sith have begun to seek out Force-sensitives throughout the galaxy to sway to their own cause. Fallen from grace, the Jedi guardians have left their base of operations in Coruscant for their ancient homeworld of Tython.

There, the Jedi Order hopes to re-connect with its guiding principles and restore balance to the galaxy in these turbulent times. As they train the next generation of Padawan on Tython, the Jedi Order hopes to find its way back to prominence.

The Sith Empire

Though their past is shrouded in secrecy and myth, the Sith hail from the inhospitable, red planet Korriban. While they were content to exist on Korriban, they came under the corrupting influence of Dark Jedi exiles thousands of years ago. The society and culture of the Sith changed dramatically, evolving into a civilization driven by burning ambition and power drawn from the dark side of the Force. Led by the Dark Lord of the Sith, Naga Sadow, 1500 years ago, they fought the Republic in the Great Hyperspace War. Ultimately, the Sith were defeated by the Jedi Order and their Korriban civilization was destroyed. Naga Sadow survived, however, and used dark rituals to pursue immortality and enhance his power. The present conflict with the Galactic Republic is essentially the Emperor's revenge. For reasons as yet unknown, the Emperor has become reclusive, and has left the war efforts to his Dark Council of Sith Lords.

The Sith Lords

When the Emperor inexplicably left to pursue his own goals, he also left behind a power vacuum that the smartest and most brutal Sith have been all too eager to fill. As they plot against one another, the true Sith Lords rise to increasingly greater levels of power in the Empire. The Sith are ruled by the 12 members of the Sith Dark Council, who are well aware of the potential threat the surviving members of the Jedi Order may pose in the future. In preparation for the final conflict, they've begun a campaign to recruit or convert new acolytes to their cause and have established a Sith Academy on Korriban.

While some do not survive these trials, those who are fit to survive and one day rule are inducted into the power structure of the Sith Empire. Collectively, they are dedicated to a single ultimate objective -- the extermination all remaining Jedi in the galaxy.

This is the state of the galaxy that you, as a player, will soon be immersed in as you fight for either good or evil in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Hopefully, BioWare has found a way to strike a balance between keeping hardcore Star Wars enthusiasts happy with Star Wars: The Old Republic's lore, while making the title accessible to gamers who are less familiar with the extensive body of Star Wars canon.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is here! Bioware has finally unveiled Star Wars: The Old Republic, their new MMO! Massively's got you covered on all the details -- from liveblogging the announcement to screenshot galleries and more. Join us in the Galaxy far, far away!
This article was originally published on Massively.