Life in The Old Republic #4: Oh, the places you’ll go!

Hello, it’s Andrew Halliday with another post in the EUCantina.net exclusive column, Life in The Old Republic.  This week, I’m going to discuss the planets, moons, space stations, and other locations featured in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  TOR offers a wide variety of locations to visit, some of which are quite familiar to us, while others are entirely new.  Others we have experience with in the modern EU, but because of the the particular time period in which TOR takes place (roughly 300 years after Knights of the Old Republic, over 3,600 years before the films), the planets are portrayed differently from the ways we know them.  I will briefly describe the planet’s terrain and history leading up to the game (ignoring post-game EU in most cases).  Unless otherwise specified, figures come from screenshots while playing as Tarahl or Lenahra.

Starter Worlds

When you create your character, he or she will start on one of four planets, which are called Starter Worlds.  Starter worlds are exclusive to the faction it spawns.

Jedi Knights and Jedi Consulars begin their journey on the forest planet of Tython, ancient homeworld of the Jedi Order.  Tython became the home of the Je’daii Order, the first society of Force users in the Galaxy, when the mysterious Tho Yor pyramid ships traveled the galaxy, collected Force-sensitive beings, and transported them to that world.  In 25,783 BBY, the Je’daii Order fractured between those serving the Light (Ashla) and the Dark (Bogan), causing the Force Wars.  The Light Followers, renaming themselves Jedi, won the Force Wars, but following their victory moved from Tython to Ossus, and then to Coruscant.  Tython remained a Republic world for millennia.  After the Great Sith War, Sith survivors experimented on local wildlife to create Terentateks and unleashed them on Tython (and elsewhere in the Galaxy), requiring intervention from the Jedi.  Hyperlanes to Tython collapsed shortly thereafter, but new ones were created by Jedi Master Satele Shan after the Treaty of Coruscant was signed and the Jedi were exiled off the Republic capital.  The Order relocated to its ancestral homeland and began to replenish the numbers it lost during the Great Galactic War.  In the game, which begins somewhere around 3,641 BBY, the Jedi are exploring the ruins of their world, and incurring the wrath of Tython’s natives, the Flesh Raiders.

Figure 1A: The Jedi Temple on Tython

Smugglers and Troopers begin the game on Ord Mantell.  A rocky world, this planet was settled around 12,000 BBY by Corellian colonists, as one of the Republic’s Ordnance/Regional Depots (hence the “Ord” name).  It was originally a military outpost for the ever-expanding Republic, but wealthier worlds nearby, with better hyperspace access, caused Ord Mantell to lose its strategic significance.  It therefore became more of a free port and a hub for smugglers and other fringe elements.  At the end of the Great Galactic War, corrupt admirals sold off the fleet protecting Ord Mantell and the Republic military abandoned the planet, leading to extreme lawlessness.  Corrupt politicians remained loyal to the Republic, but the people resented the military’s betrayal, leading to a separatist movement.  By the time of the game, those separatists were well equipped and fighting a full-scale civil war, hoping Ord Mantell could secede from the Republic and become independent.

Figure 1B: The Separatist outpost at Mannett Point on Ord Mantell

Sith Warriors and Sith Inquisitors start on Korriban.  Korriban was the ancient homeworld of the Sith species.  In 27,700 BBY, Korriban was invaded by the Rakatan Infinite Empire, but the Sith won the day under the leadership of King Adas.  But the battle was costly; Adas was killed, and Korriban’s ecosystem was devastated, leaving a bright red, rocky desert.  The Sith relocated to Ziost, but Korriban remained their sacred homeworld and graveyard.  In 6,900 BBY, at the end of the Hundred-Year Darkness, the surviving Dark Jedi were exiled away from the Republic, where they stumbled upon Korriban and amazed the Sith with their use of the Force.  They became the first Sith Lords and created the Sith Empire, ruling from Ziost, with Korriban serving as tombworld for deceased Dark Lords.  In 5,000 BBY, Korriban was visited again, by hyperspace explorers Gav and Jori Daragon.  The Sith under Dark Lord Naga Sadow viewed this as an opportunity to expand the Empire, and invaded the Republic using the hyperlane the Daragons uncovered, starting the Great Hyperspace War.  This conflict ended quickly with a military intervention led by Empress Teta of the Koros System, who forced the Sith Empire away from its worlds.  The Sith remained in hiding for centuries, and liberated Korriban from the Republic as part of the first campaigns of the Great Galactic War.  As of game time, Korriban is being used as an academy to train Sith apprentices, this new Empire explores the ruins of their original homeworld and uncover secrets of the Ancient Sith.

Figure 2A: The Valley of the Dark Lords and Sith Academy on Korriban

Bounty Hunters and Imperial Agents start out on Hutta.  Originally called Evocar, the Hutts landed on the planet following the destruction of their homeworld Varl in 15,000 BBY.  They slowly but surely bought the entire planet from the native Evocii, terraforming the planet into a Hutt paradise of stagnant marshes and muddy bogs and renaming Nal Hutta (Glorious Jewel in Huttese).  The natives were turned into slave labour on Hutta and on its moon, Nar Shaddaa.  Over time, Hutta became a haven for smugglers and other unlawfuls working for the clans.  The Hutts remained neutral during the Great Galactic War, and so Hutta was spared destruction at the hands of the Republic and Sith.  In 3,641 BBY, Hutta is divided by warring Hutt clans, who compete for the resources of their world and the slave population.  Hutta is likely also the location of the end-game Operation called Karagga’s Palace.

Figure 2B: Nem’ro the Hutt’s palace on Hutta

Capital Worlds

Each faction also has its own Capital, which is where the government of the Republic and Empire sit.  Like Starter Worlds, the Capitals can only be visited by individuals loyal to that faction.

Coruscant is the capital world of the Republic.  Once known as Notron, Coruscant was the original homeworld of Humans in the Star Wars galaxy.  Coruscant is an ecumenopolis; the entire planet is covered in artificial structures, built on top of each other, thousands of levels tall.  In 25,053 BBY, the Galactic Republic was founded, with Coruscant as its capital.  Due to its political importance, Coruscant was attacked by numerous parties during conflicts such as the Duinuogwin Contentions, the Alsakan Conflicts, the Great Hyperspace War, and the Great Sith War.  The Jedi built their temple on Coruscant following the loss of Ossus in 3,996 BBY.  At the end of the Great Galactic War, the Sith Empire attacked Coruscant directly, destroying the Jedi Temple and holding the planet hostage during the peace negotiations.  This became known as the Sacking of Coruscant.  At the time of the game, Coruscant is still trying to rebuild itself, as well as hold the Republic together politically, despite the machinations of the Sith.

Figure 3A: The Senate Tower and cityscape of Coruscant

Dromund Kaas is the capital of the Sith Empire.  In the ancient past, it was a Sith colony, though it was somehow lost and forgotten.  Following the Great Hyperspace War, the Sith Emperor Vitiate led a fleet through 20 years of random hyperspace jumps, in an effort to avoid the Republic forces that were annihilating the previous Empire.  These jumps led them to the rainy jungle world of Dromund Kaas, where Vitiate reconstituted the Sith Empire.  Kaas City was build to serve as the Imperial Citadel, housing the Emperor and the Dark Council.  Dromund Kaas remained the capital of the Sith Empire into the Great Galactic War, the Cold War, and into the start of the game.

Figure 3B: Unfinished Colossus on Dromund Kaas

Game Worlds

After your character acquires his ship, he is free to travel to any world in the game (except for the starter and capital worlds of the opposing faction).  Each planet is designed for people within a specific level range; players above that range will not get much of a challenge, and players below the suggested range might find it too challenging.  Planets can be visited in any order, but the story guides players through the “correct” order to maximize level progression, while occasionally traveling backwards to worlds visited before (for example, the last events of Chapter 1 for the Sith Warrior take place back on Hutta).  The order is not precisely the same for Republic and Empire.

After leaving Coruscant, Taris is the first planet visited by Republic players at Level 16-20.  Taris was a massive city-planet that rivaled Coruscant, but over the centuries became a cultural wasteland.  Crime was rampant, especially in the Undercity.  Taris was also the de facto homeworld of Rakghouls, non-sentient creatures whose bite could transmit a virus, causing the bite victim to transform into one of those beasts.  Taris was captured by the Mandalorians during their invasion of Republic space, and again by the forces of Sith Lord Darth Malak.  In order to stop a single Jedi from escaping his clutches, Malak ordered a Sith fleet to destroy Taris’s entire cityscape with a massive turbolaser strike, killing billions.  At the time of the game, the Republic is attempting to settle and rebuild Taris, but the Empire is trying to prevent them from succeeding.  Imperial players visit Taris fifth, when they are between Level 32 and 36.  To keep players separate, Taris is separated into two instances: one for the Republic, and one for the Sith.

Figure 4A: Taris’s destroyed cityscape

Balmorra is the first planet visited by Imperial players, also at Level 16-20 (Republic visit it when Imperials visit Taris, fifth, at Level 32-36; like Taris, it is instanced.)   Balmorra was a hilly world and a haven for weapons and droid manufacturers, and thus was a strategic target in the Great Galactic War.  The Sith Empire invaded Balmorra, and the Republic did its utmost to prevent it from falling to their enemy.  This fighting continued for many years, until the signing of the Treaty of Coruscant.  In TOR, the Sith Empire is fighting against an insurgency by Balmorra’s human population (many of whom believe the Republic abandoned them, but who do not want to live under Imperial rule).  That insurgency is being surrepticiously and illegally supported by the Republic.

Figure 4B: Okara Droid Factory on Balmorra

Nar Shaddaa, the moon of Hutta, is the second planet visited by Republic and Imperial players.  It is designed for players at Level 20-24.  This is the first planet where Republic and Imperial players can interact and, if flagged for PVP, fight.  When the Hutts relocated to Nal Hutta in 15,000 BBY, they exiled the native Evocii to Hutta’s moon, Nar Shaddaa.  The Hutts enslaved the Evocii and forced them to build spaceports, and in a relatively short time, the entire moon was urbanized, with structures stretching into orbit.  The Evocii were freed after the work was complete, but the population dwindled and became mindless savages in the lower city.  Meanwhile, Nar Shaddaa prospered and became one of the wealthiest ports of the Galaxy, and a haven for the underworld (it became known as the Smuggler’s Moon).  Both the Republic and Empire had influences on Nar Shaddaa during the Cold War, but as the Hutts remained neutral in the Great Galactic War, the moon was never a military target.  I assume that Nar Shaddaa is also the site of the Warzone Huttball, a brutal sport resembling Capture the Flag.

Figure 5A: The cityscape of Nar Shaddaa

Players visit Tatooine next, at Level 24-28.  Once a lush world, Tatooine was bombarded by the Infinite Empire millennia ago, and reduced to a desert wasteland.  Though numerous space battles took place over Tatooine, littering its surface with debris, the Republic did not discover and settle it until 5,000 BBY.  Tatooine has two indigenous populations, the violent Tusken Raiders and the technologically-apt Jawas.  Corporations, such as Czerka Corp., began settling and mining Tatooine before the Jedi Civil War, but also took advantage of the planet’s remoteness to develop secret weapons.  In the game, the Republic and Empire both have outposts on Tatooine, and the Sith are searching for Czerka’s lost weapons.  Tatooine is also home to the Outlaw’s Den, an open-world PVP area where players may attack any other player (even those on their own faction).

Figure 5B: A spaceport on Tatooine (from Wookieepedia)

Alderaan is available to players at Level 28-32.  Alderaan is a planet of evergreen forests and beautiful snowy mountains, reminiscent of the Pacific North-West or South-Western Alberta.  Alderaan is the homeworld of the Killiks, an insectoid race that built massive hives in the millennia before the formation of the Republic.  Most Killiks left Alderaan before Alderaan was colonized by Humans from Coruscant.  Alderaan’s Humans developed a society of peaceful coexistence with nature; they were one of the founding members of the Republic.  During the Great Galactic War, the Sith Empire invaded Alderaan and inflicted heavy damage to the planet’s society, but the Sith were fought off.  Peace negotiations between the Republic and Empire were held on Alderaan.  As a result of the turmoil following the Treaty of Coruscant, Alderaan withdrew from the Republic and was embroiled in Civil War, which is the way the player finds the planet in the game.  The Republic and the Empire each back a set of houses (House Organa and House Thul, respectively).  This planet is also the site of the Alderaan Civil War warzone.  When the player finishes his/her Class Quests on Alderaan, they have finished (or are about to finish) Chapter 1.

Figure 6A: The Palace of House Thul on Alderaan

Planet number five is either Balmorra for the Republic, or Taris for the Empire.  This is where players begin Chapter 2.

Following Balmorra/Taris, players at Level 36-37 travel to Quesh.  Unlike most other worlds in the game, Quesh has never been featured in Star Wars films or the EU.  Quesh is a rocky, grassy world with a highly poisonous atmosphere.  The Republic discovered it during the Great Galactic War, and abandoned it due to its toxic atmosphere.  But later surveys revealed an abundance of chemicals closely resembling “Hutt Venom”, a substance necessary for the manufacture of adrenals (drugs that temporarily make a soldier stronger, faster, and smarter).  The Republic did its best to keep Quesh secret from the Empire, and recruited the help of three Hutt clans to transform “Quesh Venom” into military-grade adrenals.  The Empire soon learned of Quesh, and forced the Hutts to declare those clans collaborating with the Republic as traitors to Hutt neutrality.  The Sith invaded Quesh, and through the Cold War, the Sith and main Hutt clans work to unseat the Republic and their Hutt collaborators from Quesh.  Due to its toxic atmosphere, players get a safety injection from a Quest Giver on Quesh’s orbital station before they can land on the planet’s surface.  This Quest Giver is limited to players above Level 33, and so the planet is locked to players below that level.

Figure 6B: The Imperial garrison on Quesh

Level 37-41 players pay a visit to the ice world of Hoth.  During the Great Galactic War, a massive space battle took place over Hoth, and the debris was scattered across its ice-covered surface.  During the Cold War, Hoth became a site of contention between the Republic and the Empire, as both looted the debris in search of military technology and intelligence.  The Republic made extensive use of Talz mercenaries, who could brave the cold more easily than Humans.  Players can find soldiers from the Republic, Empire, and pirate groups searching through crashed spaceships.  Hoth is the last planet visited before the conclusion of Chapter 2.

Figure 7A: Volcanic activity in a valley on Hoth (from Wookieepedia)

At the start of Chapter 3, players visit Belsavis.  They should be Level 41-44.  While considered wholly unremarkable by early explorers, during the Great Galactic War scientists located an ancient Rakatan prison under the planet’s surface.  Considerable resources were needed to maintain the Belsavis prison, and so the Republic posted a permanent base there, and made use of the prison facilities to hold the worst criminals and prisoners of war in the Galaxy.  They tried to keep the prison a secret throughout the war, but during the Cold War the Empire learned of its existence, and began to secretly incite prison riots and attempt breakouts.  When the player lands on Belsavis, they must help free Imperial POWs who could greatly contribute to the renewed conflict with the Republic.  Belsavis is also the site of the Eternity Vault Operation.

Figure 7B: Imperial Outpost on Belsavis

Players at Level 44-47 travel to Voss.  Like Quesh, Voss is a new planet, original to TOR.  In the ancient past, a group of Sith arrived on Voss and enslaved the native Gormaks.  Shortly thereafter, a group of Jedi arrived and formed a Gormak resistance against their Sith oppressors, and as a result created a group of mystics that, over time, evolved to become a distinct species, the Voss.  When the Sith and Jedi left Voss, the Gormaks saw the Voss as aberrations of nature and sought to wipe them out, causing an endless war.  The Voss, while fewer in numbers, managed to use their mysticism to survive.  The Voss foresaw the arrival of both the Republic and the Empire shortly after the end of the Great Galactic War, and used their foresight to stop the invasion force.  Both the Empire and the Republic have embassies on Voss, hoping to curry favour with the natives of the same name and fight off the Gormak hordes, who continue to view the Voss as unnatural.

Figure 8A: Landscape near the Imperial outpost on Voss

The last stop for players before experiencing end-game content is Corellia, at Level 47-50.  Corellia is a world of grassy hills, forests, and farmland.  Corellia was one of the founding worlds of the Republic, and was essential in the construction of hyperdrive technology.  Corellia’s urban centres are built in harmony with nature, and wide stretches of parkland are maintained deep in the heart of Coronet City, the planet’s capital.  Corporations have always had a heavy role in Corellia, making the planet incredibly wealthy (most notably from shipbuilding), but also led to severe corruption among politicians.  Corellia has been the site of Republic shipyards since at least the Mandalorian Wars and well into the Great Galactic War.  Though always loyal to the Republic, the Empire has managed to influence Corellia during the Cold War, and shortly before the game, all communications between Corellia and the Republic are suddenly cut.  Video feeds of burning buildings seemed to imply terrorist attacks and other such chaos.

Figure 8B: Outside the Coronet Spaceport on Corellia

Endgame content for players at Level 50 is featured on Ilum.  Another snow-bitten, icy world, Ilum is a powerful nexus of the Force.  Jedi were drawn to it millennia ago, and it has become the site of many pilgrimages for powerful Jedi Knights and Masters.  The crystals of Ilum were perfectly suited for lightsaber construction.  Ilum was a secret of the Jedi Order for centuries, but during the Great Galactic War, the Sith learned of its existence, and conquered it with extreme prejudice, moving significant war matériel to its surface, far more than would be warranted for cultivating and protecting lightsaber crystals.  The secrets of Ilum are explained in the Flashpoints The Battle of Ilum and The False Emperor, which constitute end-game content that I do not wish to spoil for readers.

Figure 8C: The landscape of Ilum

Fleet

Both the Republic and the Empire have a location called “Republic (or Imperial) Fleet”.  This is the gathering area for the warships of each faction.  The Republic Fleet is composed of Carrick Station and the Valor-class ships Gav Daragon and Telos.  The Imperial Fleet is composed of Vaiken Spacedock and two Harrower-class Dreadnaughts, the White Nova, and the Ziost Shadow.  In both cases, the space station is the hub of player activity.  Players meet here to learn crew skills, recruit guilds, queue for PVP matches, and access guild banks.

Figure 9: The Republic’s Carrick Station. Ostensibly named for Zayne Carrick, a hero of the Mandalorian Wars (from Star Wars MMO Leveling Guide)

From the Fleet, players may access most of the Flashpoints and Operations of the game.  Flashpoints and Operations are launched from either the dropship launch hangar of the Fleet Station or from one of the capital ships nearby.  In groups of 4, 8, or 16 (as appropriate), players take a shuttle from the Fleet to another planet or a target in deep space to perform the Flashpoint or Operation mission.  The planets visited in Flashpoints or Operations (not specified elsewhere) are Athiss, Cademimu, Taral V, Colla IV, Kaon, Zadd, and Denova (Denova is also the site of the Novare Coast warzone).

Space!

There are other planets that we get to visit in TOR only in the context of Space Missions.  In these missions (available from the time we get our ship; the end of the Prologue, when we leave the Capital, roughly Level 16), you fly your starship along a set path (a “rail”) and destroy targets such as enemy starfighterrs and hardpoints on capital ships, usually with some specific planet or moon in the background.  Republic Space Missions take place over Fondor, Javaal, Balosar, Makem Te, Archenar, Syvris, Llanic, Kovor, Pakuuni, an unnamed star system along the Hydian Way, Drexel, Kalee, Zosha, and an unnamed system in “The Impossible Sector”.  Each Space Mission has a near-identical partner for the Empire, taking place at Jabiim, Saleucami, an unnamed planet in Hutt Space, Nez Peron, Sarapin, Ezran, Taspan, Mugaar, Skaross, Polith, Sullust, Aeten, Vondoru, and an unnamed system along hyperspace route to the Chiss Ascendancy.  Some of these worlds are new, though most come from the EU.  Some of them, such as Polith and Taspan, use the name of the star system, though the planet is known by another name in the EU (in the provided examples, Thyferra and Mindor.)  These planets are only seen from orbit.

The last places we visit in TOR are random sites in deep space throughout the Galaxy.  These might be ships (derelict or intact) or space stations that you fly to for a specific mission.  These are always related to your Class quest.  For example, Lenahra, my Trooper, needed to visit a ship in deep space to take down a former member of Havoc Squad, who had taken a Senator hostage.  Another example is the one-off planet Uphrades, which is briefly visited by the Jedi Knight as part of his campaign.  Several Flashpoints take place on ships or space stations, including The Esseles, The Black Talon, Hammer Station, Mandalorian Raiders, Boarding Party, The Foundry, Maelstrom Prison, The Red Reaper, and Directive 7.  Last, the Warzone “Voidstar” takes place in deep space; both the Republic and the Empire simultaneously discover the derelict Imperial dreadnought Voidstar in deep space, and fight for the secrets within her computer core.

In other news

Game Update 1.3: Allies went live earlier this summer, and it added several new features to the game.  The GroupFinder greatly facilitates forming parties to perform group missions, like Flashpoints, or Operations.  Adaptive gear ensures that social items (such as armor pieces and weapons, designed less for function and more for appearance) will properly level up with your character.  The Augment system is unlocked, allowing players to purchase an “Augment” slot on crafted gear (Augment slots were previously only available when you crafted an item with critical success.)  The Hutts have taken over the Galactic Trade Network (the in-game market), making it neutral, which means that Republic and Imperial players may buy each other’s wares.  Lastly, Legacy Perks allow players to pay additional in-game money to facilitate gameplay in certain ways, such as by unlocking Item Repair Droids, the ability to fly a speeder at Level 10 (normally Level 25), or by maximizing the amount of Experience points earned through specific gameplay styles (for example, if I really enjoy Warzones, I can buy the perk to get more Experience playing Warzones).

Tip of the Week: Explore every nook and cranny of every planet you visit.  You gain experience by opening areas on the map, and if you visit landmarks, you sometimes also get experience by unlocking Codex entries.  Areas on the map that can be explored are differentiated from unexplorable regions in that the lines dividing the hexagon blocks obscuring the map are white instead of black.  When all explorable areas have been unlocked, all hexes disappear, you see a clean map, and get an additional experience bonus.  And it’s fun! Look for Game Update 1.4: Terror From Beyond to hit the game soon.

Editor’s Note: Andrew will be taking a break from his regularly scheduled columns, but you’ll still hear from him from time to time.

About the Author

Andrew Halliday contributes to EUCantina as a writer. He writes our column "The Star Wars Dissection," published every second Monday, and also reviews episodes of The Clone Wars television show. He began writing in 2010, sending letters to the SoloSound.net podcast The EU Review, using mathematics to look at certain trends in Star Wars content. These monthly analyses were expanded into his column in 2011. He has a degree in biology and a love for all things science and math.