Most of the classes in Star Wars: The Old Republic are strongly represented in both the movies and the Expanded Universe. However, the Imperial Agent is a mysterious anomaly; they work in the background and rarely make their presence directly known. While BioWare did not invent the concept of Imperial Intelligence agents, they are the first to explore this role as part of a dedicated storyline. Last week we examined that Bounty Hunter, now join us in taking a closer look at the spies and snipers of the Sith Empire.
Little is known about the history of Imperial Intelligence, due to the secretive nature of the organization. Yet, while many of their exploits remain undiscovered, there are some records of their activities prior to the Galactic Cold War. In the years leading up to the Treaty of Coruscant, Imperial Agents manipulated several key factions into siding against the Republic.
After blocking the Republic's attempts to gain allies among the Hutt Cartels, Imperial Intelligence set its sights on the Mandalorians. Once they successfully infiltrated the ranks of the Mandalorians, Imperial Agents masterminded the rise of Mandalore the Lesser.
Agents take their orders from Imperial Intelligence, an organization within the Sith Empire that handles intelligence gathering and covert paramilitary operations. Codenames are frequently used in Imperial Intelligence; Agents report to mid-level officers known as Watchers, who in turn report to a man known as Keeper, who oversees all field activities within the organization. Other notable figures include Darth Jadus, a Sith Lord who favors the use of Imperial Agents over other Sith, and the Minister of Intelligence, who represents the top level of Imperial Intelligence.
The most successful field agents go on to become Cipher Agents. For those not born with Force sensitivity, becoming a Cipher Agent is the pinnacle of advancement. They embody the principles of loyalty and professionalism within the Empire, and carry out the will of the Sith with ruthless efficiency.
Imperial Agents are skilled in the arts of infiltration, seduction and assassination, and receive extensive training in various fields to polish these skills. Every Agent studies marksmanship, and those who specialize as Snipers are regarded as the most elite sharpshooters in the galaxy. Imperial Agents have also demonstrated deadly proficiency in close-quarters combat, even holding their own against Mandalorian gladiators. These Operatives receive training in the use of advanced experimental technology, such as personal cloaking devices, energy blades and medical systems.
While the Imperial Agent has no clear counterpart in the movies, the organization itself is parroted by Imperial Intelligence, an agency existing behind the scenes in the era of the Galactic Civil War. The function of the organization is similar, though with increased bureaucracy due to the work involved in overseeing the legitimate government of the galaxy. It focuses on intelligence gathering for the Empire, with a rival organization known as the Imperial Security Bureau (ISB) handling internal security. Much like the Imperial Agents, members of this group who work in the field are capable combatants, and receive instruction in Echani combat techniques as part of their training. There are many branches of Imperial Intelligence, with the most powerful being the Inquisitorius - a secret division of Force-sensitive agents who report directly to Emperor Palpatine.
The most renowned field agent of the Empire during this time period was Mara Jade. Though she was a Force-sensitive, and one of the Emperor's Hands, her duties were nearly identical to those performed by Imperial Agents. She was described as highly skilled in the use of blasters and hand-to-hand combat, even without relying on the Force. Her training allowed her to perform high-level intelligence gathering and assassination missions on behalf of the Emperor.
Other prominent figures in Imperial Intelligence included Ysanne Isard, an ambitious field agent who threatened the authority of her father, the Director of Imperial Intelligence. After he sent her on a suicide mission, she survived to bring charges of treason against him, resulting in his summary execution and her subsequent promotion to Director. Many years later, a woman named Morrigan Corde became Director of Imperial Intelligence, manipulating the Imperial Moffs into allying with the Sith, intending to place her chosen candidate on the Imperial throne. When the Sith took power for themselves, she began quietly working against them behind the scenes, undermining their efforts to enforce their rule across the galaxy.
In addition to these important figures in intelligence gathering throughout Star Wars, BioWare stated that the Imperial Agent was directly connected to two very different characters: Grand Moff Tarkin, and Zam Wesell. While these two individual characters may seem an odd pair, they each represent a specific aspect of this unique class. Tarkin's remarkable intelligence and military presence is an intricate part of the Imperial Agent class out of combat, while Zam's combat skills and deceptive tactics are integral to their performance in combat.
Both a patchwork of iconic character and an ever present background entity, the Imperial Agent represents a rarely seen area in the greater Star Wars story. This unfamiliar territory gives BioWare the freedom to craft a unique and interesting story that is free of the trapping of lore and history surrounding the other classes.