"For over a thousand generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic, before the dark times, before the Empire," Obi-wan Kenobi explained to a young Luke Skywalker and the audience for the first time in Star Wars: A New Hope. This started the never-ending quest of finding out what exactly it means to master the seemingly limitless power of the Force. On that life-transforming statement, we begin in this week's Hyperspace Beacon.

The Jedi Knight places Star Wars beyond every other science fiction story in world. The mix of science and mysticism takes us to a place that challenges not only our mind but our spiritual beliefs as well. The Jedi Order asks us to, "unlearn what you have learned," and to, "do or do not. There is no try." Then, as if to defy greater logic, they brandish a sword made completely of light.

Let us take a few moments to rediscover these lightsaber-wielding wizards, find out a little of how they came to be, examine what differences arose over the thousands of years they existed, and investigate what you can expect from the Jedi in Star Wars: The Old Republic.


Not much has ever been told about how the Jedi Order was formed. Some say it started with an order of Bendu Monks studying the mathematical pillars of the universe. Others believe it sprung up out of the legends of the the martial artists, Followers of Palawa. Daniel Erickson, the lead writer for Bioware, said in a GameSpot interview, "Lucas has always given their authors a lot of freedom to expand the universe." So Bioware's writers have taken some of that freedom and created a beginning for the Jedi Order.

A group of scholars settled on the world of Tython to study the mysteries of the Force. Due to yet-unknown circumstances, a Force War erupted, and survivors were forced to flee the planet. Possibly because of the issues leading up to the war, the scholars created guidelines to govern themselves, thus creating the Jedi Order.

The Jedi Order most are familiar with is the one from movies -- Star Wars Episodes I, II, and III. The Order was some 25,000 years old by this time. To give you perspective on how old that actually is, let me relate that to Earth history. Around 25,000 years ago, a giant glacier covered most of the earth, and humanity had not even learned how to farm. We've only had writing for 6,000 years! Just as a lot of things changed on Earth in 25,000 years, a lot of things changed with the Jedi Order.

By the time of the Clone Wars, the rules of the Jedi Order had become extremely strict and, frankly, over-bearing. Although the Order did allow for great freedom of study and discovery, there was very little room for personal enlightenment. Obi-Wan Kenobi said in Revenge of the Sith, "Only the Sith deal in absolutes," but little emphasis is placed on self-discovery beyond discipline and heeding the Jedi Council's requests.

This by no means made the Clone Wars-era Jedi bad, but it did lead to their downfall. After several thousand years without conflict, the Order had become arrogant. They believed they were untouchable. Because they disallowed studies into ways other than their own, they forgot the deceptive power of the dark-side. Darth Sidious was able to capitalize on this ignorance, infiltrate the Galactic Senate, seize dominion over the Jedi Order, and ultimately annihilate them.

After the Galactic Civil War and the Star Wars movies, Luke Skywalker formed an enclave on Yavin 4, which would ultimately become the New Jedi Order. It consisted of hundreds of Jedi from many worlds, those new to Force and even some from the old Order. By that point in time, nearly all archives had been destroyed, and Skywalker had very little disciplined training. However, he was very powerful and in-tune with the Force.

Skywalker said in the Young Jedi Knights series, "I don't believe the training of a true Jedi comes from listening to lectures. I want to teach you how to learn action, how to do things, not just think about them." As you can imagine, the New Jedi Order trained with very little self-discipline and formality. The young Jedi learned by exploration -- trial and error, if you will. In stark contrast to the former Order, self-exploration was pivotal to this Order's training. Although there were a lot of massive failures with this group, ultimately, they were stronger.

Most interestingly, the Knights, during the time of Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars: The Old Republic, are seemingly a mixture of both the Clone Wars Jedi and the New Jedi Order. There seems to be a great deal of formalized training, yet self-exploration seems to be encouraged, as well. Although control is important, Jedi are allowed to have strong emotions towards what they are doing and towards each other. It is understood, however, that this should never get in the way of their duty to the Force.

This could mean a lot of things in the way of storytelling. A very interesting point is made by Erickson, in the SWTOR community forums: "In the time of The Old Republic it is permissible to have children and even to marry within the order but only with direct permission from the Jedi Council. To be granted permission the Jedi must prove a perfect detachment and serenity, basically that he or she does not care more about their prospective spouse or parent of their child than they do about any other Jedi." They speak of romantic encounters on several occasions, which suggests greater realms of personal character development beyond the flat, two-dimensional Jedi sometimes seen in the first three episodes of the Star Wars movie series.

Members of the Bioware development team have said several times that there will be a Light Side/Dark Side point scaling system. I believe this will be used not only to literarily control your companions' actions, but also to divine your place in the Jedi Order. For instance, I believe if there is a scenario in which you have to choose between a Republic Official and a companion who is your lover, saving your lover will have a negative effect on your place in the Jedi Order, possibly giving you some Dark Side points.

What are some of your thoughts? Where do you believe the Jedi of the SWTOR fit in the grand scheme? What types of character exploration do you believe are opened up?

Next week, I would like to gather some of your questions and comments to see if there is anything I can dig up regarding this and last week's article: Empires Strike Back. Comment here or send an email to larry AT massively DOT com, and maybe I can find the answers for you.

Star Wars: The Old Republic is finally here, and the Force is with Massively! We've prepared a Hutt-sized feast of class introductions, gameplay guides, lore roundups, and hands-on previews to help you navigate the launch period and beyond. And don't forget our weekly SWTOR column, the Hyperspace Beacon!

This article was originally published on Massively.