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Hyperspace Beacon: Enter the Mandalorians


Welcome, fans of Star Wars and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Some would say you cannot be a true Star Wars fan unless you are a fan of Mandalorians. Followers of these space-Spartans bury themselves deep in the warrior culture. The bearers of the iconic T-shaped visor have inspired costume after costume, scores of fan sites, collections of comic books, and bunches of books. The author of many of those books, Karen Traviss, created a whole independent language called Mando'a.

The Mandalorians' history starts with a species called the Taung, who were renowned throughout the galaxy for their amazing conquests and advanced war technology. Calling themselves Mandalorians after their leader, Mandalore the First, these crusaders conquered all of what would be known as the Mandalore Sector, assimilating the native species into the culture of war and honor.

The depth of the Mandalorian culture cannot be covered in one article, but I would like to take a few key figures from the culture, study them, and contemplate their role in shaping Star Wars: The Old Republic. Let us explore this together after the break.

Ib'tuur jatne tuur ash'ad kyr'amur!

Canderous Ordo, who would later be known as Mandalore the Preserver, started his career as a commander under Mandalore the Ultimate in the Mandalorian Wars, about three centuries before the time of SWTOR. Ordo was among the soldiers in the Battle of Malachor V. This battle was a devastating blow to the Mandalorians, and they surrendered. Mandalore the Ultimate was executed by Revan, and the rest of them were stripped of their armor and honor.

Like most of the surviving Mandalorians, Ordo became a mercenary. He ended up on Taris working as an enforcer for the Exchange. This was the second time he met Revan, under the guise of a soldier for Bastila Shan. He would eventually help Revan and company off Taris before it was assaulted by Malak. From there he traveled with Revan to hunt down the Sith Lord. After Malak's defeat, Ordo and the rest of Revan's companions received the Cross of Glory award from the Republic.

When Revan left to find the true Sith Emperor in the Unknown Regions, he left instructions for Ordo to unite the Mandalorians, and prepare for the coming war. Ultimately, Ordo failed. For centuries after Ordo's passing, Mandalorians would be without a unified leader until Mandalore the Lesser.

Mandalore the Lesser, whose real name is unknown, is not remember for great leadership, as Ordo is, but rather he is known as being a servant of the Sith Empire during the Old Republic times. The Mandalorians had been without a leader for centuries at the time they accepted him as Mandalore. He asked for all the Mandalorians to unite against the Jedi and the Republic, and all the clans came to his aid. His blockade of the Hydian Way trade route made him infamous throughout the galaxy, also secured him as the Emperor's pawn. Although the blockade was eventually defeated, it had left a disastrous mark on the Republic.

Mandalore the Lesser had been working for the Empire long before the Hydian blockade. In fact, the Empire was responsible for his rise to power; Imperial agents assisted him by rigging Geonosian arena fights, in which he was a participant, thus helping him rise to the top very quickly. Mandalorian culture praised these fights and shows of physical strength. It is no mystery why the clans united behind him.

After the Mandalorian defeat at the Hydian Way, Mandalore the Lesser offered up to his people a challenge he called the Great Hunt. A man named Artus was crowned champion, then subsequently challenged Mandalore the Lesser to a duel. Artus won, killing the Mandalore and taking up the title Mandalore the Vindicated.

Not a lot is known about Mandalore the Vindicated, but we do know he was a supporter of the Sith Empire. When Jicoln Cadera rose up against Artus, claiming they should follow the ways of Mandalore the Preserver by joining the Republic, Cadera's Mandalorians were attacked and defeated. Artus secured the Mandalorians as cautious allies of the Emperor.

Some fans call Boba Fett the worst example of what it means to be Mandalorian. Yet without him appearing on the Star Wars Holiday Special or capturing Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back, there would be no Mandalorian fan following (Fandalorians). His T-shape helmet gave a cold, heartless stare which begged the audience to find out more. Who was this masked man? Fett's perplexity and prowess prompted nerdcore rapper MC Chris to write, "I'm a question wrapped inside an enigma; Get inside the slave one. Find your homing signal; From Endor to Hoth, Ripley to Spock; I'll find what you want, but there's gonna be a cost."

Even though he may have been a poor Mandalorian, he was one of the best bounty hunters in the galaxy. He worked for some of the biggest names in the galaxy. As seen in A New Hope (Special Edition) and Return of the Jedi, Jabba the Hutt hired him to capture Han Solo. Darth Vader also employed him on occasion. The Dark Lord's knowledge of Fett's tactics prompted Vader to order, "No disintegrations."

As Boba Fett aged, he became less self absorbed and more focused on the preservation of his people and his culture. And even though he was a clone, the Mandalorians accepted Fett as Mandalore. He would eventually lead the Mandalorians in the Yuuzahn Vong War and beyond.

Boba Fett's suit of gadgets, grappling hooks, and flame throwers clearly inspired the Bounty Hunter class in SWTOR, but what other influences can we find? In a developers blog about the Bounty Hunter class, Daniel Erickson (who seems to get a quote in every one of my articles) says, "As a Bounty Hunter you are, and always will be, your own person. You start with nothing and work your way up, make a name for yourself and eventually travel in circles with Darths and Moffs, intelligence officers and governors, but you never become one of them." That statement is a pure call back to Boba Fett. He was and will always be portrayed as a loner doing things for his own reasons.

I also believe we will find other influences of Mandalorians throughout the stories of SWTOR. I mentioned Jicoln Cadera because I believe his influence will play a role, if not in the Bounty Hunter class story, then in other class stories. I would not be surprised at all if the player were given the choice to do something for supporters of Mandalore the Vindicated or for supporters of Mandalore the Preserver.

As I said before, there is no way to fit the depth of this culture into one article, but I hope I got you thinking. What role do you believe Mandalorians will play in the stories and themes of SWTOR? Where will they fit in your character's story? What are your thoughts? I want to hear them.

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!

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