For those who aren't aware what Aurebesh is, I will explain briefly. Obviously, since Star Wars happens a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the language is not going to be the same as ours. The accepted history of the "language" starts in 1993 when a graphic designer for West End Games, Stephan Crane, wanted to add some extra flavor to the Star Wars Miniatures Battles Companion. So based on symbols seen in Dark Forces and monitor readouts from Return of the Jedi, he created one corresponding Aurebesh letter for every English letter. And the name Aurebesh, like the English word alphabet, is derived from the first two letters: Aurek and Besh. (Alphabet is from the Greek letters Alpha and Beta.)
This week we dive into the messages hidden within the Biography pages and into a bonus screenshot that may give us some insight into a PvP mechanic. Follow me after the break to help me unravel these mysteries.
The Biography pages contain the histories and personality traits of some of the more notorious characters you will meet in your travels across the SWTOR universe. This includes people like Grand Master Satele Shan, Grand Moff Kilran, and Mandalore, or some of your possible companions like Vette, Bowdaar, and T7-O1. Just like every other page on the holonet, the pages also contain Aurebesh phrases, and just like the planets from the last article, there are some that are easy to figure out and some that are not.
We will start with an easy one. Mandalore's pages, like every page, has "welcome to the holonet" at the top, and hidden within the text are three phrases. Mandalore's three phrases are Mandalore the Vindicator, Champion Needed, and Jedi merely first. Each Mandalore has a "the" title after his name to signify something about his reign. The previous Mandalore came to be known as Mandalore the Lesser, probably because he was a puppet of the Empire. Although the meaning behind the name is unclear, the current Mandalore, Artus, is known as Mandalore the Vindicator. The other two phrases revolve around the Great Hunt. This sport was started by Mandalore the Lesser as a way of energizing the clans. Artus is apparently continuing the tradition, so the Hunt needs a champion. The Jedi actually started the Great Hunt centuries before as a way to exterminate Sith followers and the creatures the Sith had created. Yet the tradition continues -- will you be the champion needed by Mandalore the Vindicator?
The next one is less obvious but certainly more fun: Satele Shan. Her phrases are Jedi exiled her mother, Blood of Revan, and A secret son. The latter two are obvious. Apparently, she is the scion of Revan and Bastila Shan (which in and of itself is awesome), but she also has a son whom no one apparently knows about. How does he fit into the world arc? The first phrase got me thinking (and this is total speculation): What if there is extreme significance to her mother's being exiled? The timeline is still fuzzy, so I don't know whether it's possible. But her mother could be the Jedi Exile from Knights of the Old Republic 2, if Revan and Bastila had a son. Canonically, the Jedi Exile is female, so who knows?
As usual, I do not have all the answers, so perhaps you can help me out with a few of these mysteries and their significance.
Nem'ro the Hutt
Betrayed Skadge -- Who is Skadge, and why is he important?
Houk and Rattataki bodyguards -- We know Rattataki are a playable species; does that play some role in the bounty hunter class story?
A Gift from Lord Haras -- Does this mean Vette is a slave?
Risha's Sister -- Risha is the first planet in the Rishi System, but I doubt that is what is this phrase is about. Who is Risha?
Star of Kala'uun -- Kala'uun is a large city on Ryloth. If she is the "star" of this city, does that mean she was famous as an entertainer?
Great Feastmaster's Collateral -- This holds no significance to me.
Karssk's Pre -- Is this phrase cut off?
Good Luck Redhead -- Does this mean anything to you?
Flesh Raider Collectable -- Collectable is spelled wrong, I guess, unless she is referring to a specific item and not some random collectible.
Ando Prime -- This planet is a frozen world that is home to famous pod races during the time just prior to the Clone Wars. It is also the home of the Bendu Monks, an order that predates the Jedi. What is the relationship between this planet and this Republic general?
Yablari, Trandosha, Kalee -- I am not sure what Darth Malgus has to do with any of these planets, are you?
First Contact -- Was he the first official contact the Republic had with the Empire?
As a bonus, I would like to include this screenshot from the smuggler class, which was released late last week. The picture shows the smuggler (scoundrel advanced class) scolding a red-skinned Zabrak. In the background, you will notice a sign with what looks like a list of some sort in Aurebesh. But it's not Aurebesh. I first noticed this non-Aurebesh writing in the screenshots of Nar Shaddaa. What is this writing if it's not Aurebesh?
Prior to writing, I was a graphic artist with web design and print-page layout being my focuses. During this time, I had accumulated a multitude of fonts, and being the pack rat I am, I kept them all, especially my Star Wars-related fonts. After skimming through all 10,000 (not an exaggeration), I noticed a font that I had dismissed as not being a real Star Wars font because I had never seen it in any Star Wars art. The font is called Galactic Basic. It is a collection of upper and lowercase letters that resemble Aurebesh, yet is not Aurebesh. When I compared this font to the lettering in the Nar Shaddaa screenshots, they actually spelled words.
Although there was nothing important spelled out in the Nar Shaddaa picture, the smuggler screenie was quite the opposite. After decoding, the smuggler's picture said this (laid out as close as I can to the actual layout):
dead or alive [in smaller text]
For those who are not so familiar with Star Wars, "BHG" is obviously Bounty Hunters Guild. My speculatory mind went crazy. My fanboy got excited. Wouldn't it be incredible if this were a hint at open-world PvP and the names on that list were actual player names? There are multiple ways these names could appear on the list. Maybe they do something to tick off an NPC, or perhaps PCs can place bounties like they can in Star Wars Galaxies. But no matter how those names get there, are they a hint to future gameplay? Personally, I hope so.
Until next week, may Kikalekki's blessings be upon 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!