Revealed to be in-game last month, Ilum is the sixteenth announced planet in Star Wars: The Old Republic. The HoloNet reveals that a recent Imperial surprise attack displaced the Jedi from Ilum, leaving players to discover the how and why. But what do we currently know about this mysterious planet the Jedi kept off the star charts for thousands of years? Read on after the jump to find out.
Ilum was first discovered by a Jedi pilot who could feel its strong connection to the Force almost 20,000 years before the setting of The Old Republic. It is located deep in the Unknown Regions and is traditionally kept off all star charts, requiring a Force-sensitive navigator to find it. Exploration of the planet following its discovery unearthed the Crystal Caves, a vast network of caverns covered with powerfully resonant Adegan crystals, which are ideally suited for use in lightsabers.
The presence of the Crystal Caves on Ilum ensured the planet's importance to the Jedi, and it wasn't long before young Jedi began making pilgrimages to the planet to obtain crystals for their lightsabers. The Jedi erected temples and began to carve the history of their order onto the walls of the Cave. Inside the Caves themselves, Force visions are common for those searching for lightsaber crystals. Force based classes exploring the Caves may even be able experience challenges or gain insights from these visions, such as those Teneb Kel experienced in Act Two of Blood of the Empire.
However, the Force isn't the only presence on this ice covered planet. Hazards are rife on Ilum; the climate is brutally cold, and much of the planet is home to a dangerous species of snow beast called Gorgodons. These large mammals are formidable foes that are known to blind their prey with a thick saliva before killing their targets with constriction and suffocation.
The most interesting question surrounding Ilum at the time of The Old Republic is what the Empire wants with it. The crystals found in the Crystal Caves are almost entirely blue or green, and though the HoloNet implies they may be harvesting crystals, the Sith tend to favor synthetic crystals for their sabers. A star map on the Dark Horse website shows Ilum to have no close neighbors, though Csilla, homeworld of the Chiss; Iridonia, home of the Zabrak ; and Lehon, also known as Rakata Prime and once the seat of the Infinite Empire, are nearby. It is possible these neighboring systems will have something to do with the Empire's interest in Ilum.
Ilum is another example of a planet without much preexisting lore in the time of The Old Republic, leaving BioWare freedom to expand a story of their own. By combining a planet with a deep connection both to the Jedi and to a mysterious Sith plot, they create a story more than sufficient to draw players from both sides of the faction divide.