When someone thinks of a Dark Lord of the Sith, one of the first few characteristics that comes to mind is a thirst for control and power. The key to any good antagonist (or in the case of The Old Republic, your possible protagonist) is character depth. It is not enough for Sith Lords to be evil and ruthless. The character must consider these vile acts necessary or rationalize his actions to be for a greater good.
Fans familiar with the Star Wars Expanded Universe often agree that the overall story arcs can be similar at times. Whether you are talking about pre-Episode 1 or post-Episode 6, the EU is littered with the idea of government in turmoil and a Sith or group of Sith trying to gain ultimate control.
While many of these story arcs can be similar, the antagonists who attempt to carry out these treacherous acts vary in personality. At first glance, a Sith Lord might seem like a cookie cutter of his predecessor because of their ultimate aims. When you dig just beneath the surface, many Sith in positions of great power have personal goals, variations of how to carry out their plans, and lead their followers in different ways.
The most famous Sith of all-time is, of course, Darth Vader. His all black armor and the sound of deep, chilling breaths intimidated those around him. We as the audience knew deep down he had a soft spot for family. Before Force Choking his beloved wife in a fit of rage only equaled by a five year old denied of dessert, he attempted to sway her to the Empire. He promised her they could rule the galaxy and she turned him down. "I am more powerful than the Chancellor I can overthrow him. And together you and I can rule the galaxy." Darth Vader said to Padme.
Some 20 years later, he made the same offer to his son. "With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy." Darth Vader said to Luke Skywalker.
It was not pure, ultimate power that drove Darth Vader's ambitions; it was the idea of ruling together, ruling as a family.
Darth Vader's grandson Jacen Solo, also known as Darth Cadeus, also let the Dark Side of the Force warp his mind. Jacen endured torture and slavery at the hands of the Yuuzhan Vong for months before it broke his mind. The first time he touched the Dark Side was during his trek along Coruscant, or Yuuzhan'tar, as it had become. His entire view of the Force changed not only during his captivity but also during the final confrontation with Yuuzhan Vong Supreme Overlord Shimmra and his familiar Omini.
Throughout the ensuing years, Jacen would fall to the Dark Side with the help of a mentor named Lumiya. Jacen rationalized to the point of actually believing the evil acts he was doing were for the good of the galaxy, and specifically for his daughter Allana. Knowing that his legacy was forever tarnished, he rationalized his commitment to make the galaxy a safer place as a sacrifice he was undertaking. This particular moment from "Revelation" stands out: "He was alone now, rejected even by his daughter, Allana. That . . . that was my sacrifice."
He continued down the dark path, fueled by his rationale until his death at the hands of his sister, Jaina Solo.
Darth Sidious was the last in the line of Darth Bane's Sith lineage, "Rule of Two. Unlike Darth Vader and Darth Cadeus however, to our knowledge Darth Sidious never knew what it was to care or to love someone. He saw people and things in a what can they do for me' mentality."
He was part of a master plan for the Sith to one day rule galaxy, set forth a millennium before his birth. It was his cunning and his lust for power that set off major events around the galaxy that eventually led him to be leader of the despised Republic. For centuries the Sith lay in the backdrop, keeping their existence a secret from the Jedi. Sidious had the gall to sit in front of the most powerful Jedi of the age and use his immense power of the Dark Side to cloud their vision.
Sidious as a Sith and as an antagonist is the personification of not only the ultimate evil but of arrogance and cleverness. "Unlimited Power" said Darth Sidious as he killed Jedi Master Mace Windu.
By the end of his reign as Emperor, his arrogance had reached an all-time high, believing that his apprentice would never choose family over the Dark Side.
Believe it or not, some Sith are just content to rule what they already have control of. A prime example is Ludo Kressh who appears in the comic book series, "Tales of the Jedi". After the death of the Marka Ragnos, Ludo Kressh believed he was the rightful heir to the throne of Dark Lord of the Sith. His nemesis Naga Sadow, who more resembled the Sidious archetype of Sith, challenged him for the title.
It was Sadow who wanted to use two nave hyperspace travelers to infiltrate the Republic and announce that the Sith were still a force to be reckoned with.
Kressh proclaimed to his followers that Sadow was a warmonger. Kressh was happy with each Sith Lord ruling a small sector of planets and didn't want to risk the Jedi discovering them and coming to Korriban and surrounding Sith-controlled planets and wiping them out.
Some might even see Ludo Kressh as cowardly rather than content, at least when you compare him to other Sith throughout history. However, he is not alone. While some Sith Lords wish to pass their knowledge along so that the teachings are never lost, there are those that are more selfish and wish to keep it all for their own. Take for example the paranoid Darth Andeddu who fled for Prakith after his dethroning as Dark Lord.
Darth Malgus looks the part of a Sith Lord and is possibly the most heralded character thus far in the back story of Star Wars: The Old Republic. While his armor and physical appearance is certainly inspired by other Star Wars characters, his personality and reasoning are all his own.
Paul S. Kemp's novel "Deceived, released on March 22. In it, we get another example of how very different a Dark Lord of the Sith can be.
(Do not read further if you don't wish to read spoilers from the already released chapters)
We first see Malgus walking on the streets of Coruscant, on a mission to deal a strategic blow to not only the Jedi but to the Republic, he converses with his companion, Eleena.
It is here where we see Malgus' theory on not only the Jedi and the Sith Empire, but the Force itself in this passage from Deceived. "I fight because that is what I was made to do and the Empire is the instrument through which I realize my purpose. The Empire is war made manifest. That is why it is perfect.
As the conversation continues, Malgus reminds Eleena that while he might not always treat her as a servant, she most certainly is. Malgus then proceeds to kiss her as a husband would his wife to prove the point that she does not know him as well as she would like to think.
Whether Malgus' theories are correct or not, he certainly perceives himself as a student of the Force. He revels in the knowledge that he knows something about the Force that the Jedi just refuse to understand.
There are many types of villains and on the opposite side of the spectrum there are many different flavors of protagonists. As player characters in The Old Republic, do we select the obvious light side choice because "my character is supposed to be light side or is there more to your rationale?
BioWare has promised a story experience inside of an MMORPG as we have never seen before with Star Wars: The Old Republic. Whether you play a Sith, a Jedi or a non-Force using class, a major part of the game will be based on choice and the morality of your character.
Imagine someone watching you play your character, jotting down the major events in your character's life. Would it read as a simple video game review or would it be the next Star Wars blockbuster movie or novel?
Many fans are familiar with how you build up a character in other MMO's. You quest, gain the appropriate level and then acquire the most powerful armor in the game. While these mechanics will be present in The Old Republic, many will prefer to think of building their characters through his or her story.
Even if you are not role-playing in the fashion that others think of it, you can be playing along in your head. Note each intricacy, following along, as if it is your favorite movie or book.
So that begs the question: How will you play?
Perhaps you have always role-played or maybe you are like a large majority of MMO gamers who just don't see the appeal. If you are one of the people on the outside looking in when it comes to role-play, do you anticipate BioWare's extensive story to sway you? Do you see immersion and role-playing as two factors that don't have to co-exist?
If you are indeed ready to let The Old Republic envelop you into its fourth pillar, remember the aforementioned Sith Lords, no matter what class you intend on playing.
Will you be the Trooper who has a family on some distant planet, standing up for the good of the Republic to make the galaxy a better place for them, all the while ignoring romantic entanglements with companions? Perhaps you are a Smuggler who was just going to "do it once before getting caught up in the adventure and excitement of the profession." Or are you the noblest of all the Jedi, negotiating over drawing your sword whenever possible? Then again, maybe you are just looking for, as Sidious said, "Unlimited POWER"