BioWare and LucasArts in coordination with DK Publishing have published a new commemorative book focusing on Star Wars: The Old Republic recently. The aptly named Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia features 352 pages worth of facts and details about almost anything and everything leading up to and including the events found in the SWTOR game world. The book was put together by multiple authors, all of whom played a part in writing for the game - Ian Ryan, Charles Boyd, Hall Hood, Joanna Berry, Zach Bush, and James B. Jones. Join us after the jump as we take a look at what is inside.
With a book this big, the layout and format is important. Fortunately, the SWTOR Encyclopedia does a good job with this. A detailed table of contents at the front of the book gives readers an immediate feel for the different chapters and sections. Notes from the authors discussing spoilers (yes, the book includes many and so does this article) and “How to use this book” also help make it seem less intimidating. In the back, there is a full index of every person, place, or thing covered and their page numbers as well. The top right corner of each page also has a colored square with the chapter name. This simple feature makes flipping through pages looking for a particular section fast and easy.
The content layout can be broken down into four main sections: Timeline, Factions, Species and Planets. The bulk of the information is contained in the factions section, including overviews of all the playable classes, information about important characters in the SWTOR setting, and story related details.
The book begins with a detailed timeline, recapping the events leading up to and including what happens in SWTOR. Fans have been trying to piece together the timeline of these events based upon the comics, timeline features on the official site, cinematic trailers, and other clues. The Encyclopedia gives us the definitive answers.
- 3,950 BBY – Revan Seeks Out The Emperor
- 3,681 BBY – The Great War
- 3,653 – 3,640 BBY – Peace
- 3,640 – Return to War
Overall, it gives a good indication of when key events took place. The events found in Drew Karpyshyn’s Revan novel occurred in 3,950 BBY. The Great War that was ignited by the return of the Sith Empire as depicted in the Return cinematic trailer began 270 years later, in 3,681 BBY. While the Encyclopedia does not give an exact date, it does mention the Battle of Alderaan. This skirmish, as depicted in the Hope cinematic trailer, seems to have occurred at least ten years after the start of the war. The Sacking of Coruscant, as portrayed in the Deceived cinematic trailer, transpired in 3,653. The Sacking pressured the Republic into signing the Treaty of Coruscant, bringing about an unsteady peace after almost 30 years of war. That period of peace lasted for 14 years, until open war erupted again in 3,640. Therefore, the events found in SWTOR take place in 3,640 BBY.
The numbers given here and the contents of the Encyclopedia answer another question that was debated for months: How old is Satele Shan? The answer is clear. A section detailing Satele states her current age as 59 years old. That puts her at 18 years old during her appearance in the Return trailer and approximately 30 years old when she battles Darth Malgus in the Hope trailer. The age of Darth Malgus also appears here as well, noted as 60 years old, just a year older than Satele.
The Factions section makes up the majority of the content. Not only are there chapters dedicated to the Republic and Sith Empire, but separate sections specifically dealing with the Jedi Order and Sith. Additional factions covered include the Mandalorians, Underworld, and Hutt Cartel.
The content within each individual faction’s section depends on the faction itself. For the Republic and Sith Empire, there is a good amount of detail provided regarding their military operations. This includes military ranks, uniforms, political leaders, and faction specific involvement in key events. The Force based factions include profiles on notable leaders, a look at the Jedi and Dark Councils, and information regarding the beliefs and teachings of both sides. The Mandalorians, Underworld, and Hutt Cartel chapters cover less information, as these factions do not have the broad infrastructures and military forces the Republic and Empire possess.
The following table shows the factions covered within the Encyclopedia and a sample of the content found in each chapter:
- The Republic – The Republic Fleet, Havoc Squad, Republic Trooper, SIS
- The Jedi Order – Redemption of Revan, The Jedi High Council, Jedi Knight, Jedi Consular
- The Sith Empire – Imperial Military, Imperial Reclamation Service, Imperial Agent, Imperial Intelligence
- The Sith – The Sith Emperor, The Dark Council, Sith Warrior, Sith Inquisitor
- Mandalorians – Forged By War, Allies, Culture of Combat, Mandalore
- The Underworld – Organized Crime, Smuggler, Bounty Hunter, The Great Hunt
- The Hutt Cartel – Masters of the Underworld, Karagga the Hutt, The Three Families, Huttball
Each playable SWTOR class has a section in the Encyclopedia devoted to their appropriate faction as noted in the table above. The sections give an excellent overview of each class. This includes specifics concerning the advanced classes, armor and weapons available to them, and a look into the specifications of their personal starship.
These sections also contain story related information, which can be a huge source of spoilers for those who have not played a particular class; each section breaks down their personal story into brief summaries for each act. Reading these summaries gives a solid overview of how the class stories unfold within the game.
In the sections appropriate for each class, companions also receive mention. Descriptions for each companion give a general idea of who they are, what their personality may be like, their strengths and weaknesses, and some background information. A few of these companion descriptions seem to contain a bit of new background information on the companion, but for the most part they just recap information the player already learns during the course of play.
Important figures in the Old Republic story receive dedicated sections within. These often give biographic information like home world, age, major achievements, and known allies and enemies. It also includes some background information on key people. While some of the information will not be new to readers, the book gives greater context to the story.
Satele Shan’s HoloNet page on the official SWTOR site hinted that the Jedi Order had exiled her mother. The Encyclopedia further reveals that Satele’s mother was a Jedi Knight named Tasiele Shan who was indeed exiled to an unknown planet because she challenged the Council’s negative views towards marriage. When the Council returned to the planet years later, Tasiele was nowhere to be found. However, they did find several journals she had written which the Council turned over to Satele.
The Dark Council likewise has its own section. In it, the authors not only explain the role and inner workings of the Dark Council, but also list each current member of the Council at the time of SWTOR and the “sphere of influence” each presides over:
- Darth Marr – Defense of the Empire
- Darth Vengean – Military Offense
- Darth Decimus – Military Strategy
- Darth Jadus – Imperial Intelligence
- Darth Thanaton – Ancient Knowledge
- Darth Vowrawn – Production and Logistics
- Darth Ravage – Expansion and Diplomacy
- Darth Mortis – Laws and Justice
- Darth Acharon – Biotic Science
- Darth Mekhis – Technology
- Darth Aruk – Sith Philosophy
- Darth Rictus – Keeper of Mysteries
Other key figures have detailed sections as well, including the Emperor, Darth Malgus, Jace Malcolm, Master Oteg, Grand Moff Kilran, and Nem’ro the Hutt. The characters profiled span across personal class stories, the world story arcs, and the overall SWTOR saga.
The species portion is broken up into three sections – sentients, non-sentients, and droids. For each species, the encyclopedia provides details such as home world, distinctive features, cultural status, biological traits, and notable members. Sentients cover not just the character playable species but almost every intelligent species encountered within the game, including some of the less conventional ones such as Colicoids, Esh-kha, and Gree. The non-sentient species cover many, but not nearly all, creatures encountered within the game. Lastly, the droids are also covered and feature a wide variety found throughout the galaxy. Protocol, astromech, battle, and the HK-series are among the droid variations covered in this section.
The chapter on planets contains sections for each of the 17 currently found in SWTOR. (Unfortunately, there is no mention of the upcoming planet Makeb.) For each planet, the book provides information such as allegiance, status, population, key facts, and notable locations. Important people and places are also included in these sections, such as a profile of King Bouris Ulgo in the Alderaan section and information about the Eternity Vault in the Belsavis section. There is also a description of current events and background information for each planet, which gives a greater context to the story.
The book ends with an interesting page entitled “An Uncertain Future” which sums up the current state of things as they exist right now within SWTOR. It explains how with the Empire in disarray due to recent events, the Republic has an advantage and is ready to claim victory. However, the final paragraph hints at what comes next: “But hope still burns in millions of Imperial hearts. Darth Marr steps forward from his Dark Council seat to guide the Empire’s resurgence. Aliens join the Imperial ranks, as Sith recognize the wisdom of Darth Malgus’s inclusive ideals. Loyal Sith and patriotic soldiers fight to repel the oppressive Republic, not knowing that the key to the Empire’s victory is close at hand…”
The SWTOR Encyclopedia is exactly what any diehard fan can hope for. A beautiful comprehensive book that accounts the events within Star Wars: The Old Republic and documents important aspects with an incredible amount of detail. Not only does the book include all the facts and details mentioned here, but also each page includes amazing artwork that complements the information. The accompanying art includes concepts, pieces borrowed from other sources, stylized paintings, and in-game footage. For players who have enjoyed the game up to this point and want a tangible piece of its history to remember it by, the Encyclopedia is the perfect addition to their home library.
Images used herein are from the trailer produced for the encyclopedia.