Wednesday, August 4, 2010

3678 BBY: The Old Republic: Blood of the Empire

Blood of the Empire is an intriguing web-comic produced by Star Wars: The Old Republic. Written by Alexander Freed and penciled by Dave Ross, Blood of the Empire is intriguing because its function is more than that of a comic. Not only does Blood of the Empire reveal something of Star Wars history and lore, but its intended audience is (mostly) future players of the Star Wars MMO. With that in mind, the game also reveals something about how the MMO will function for players, and in its pictures and dialogue reveals aspects of game-play.

The story is about Teneb-Kel, a Sith acolyte looking to prove his worth in the Empire. He is asked by the Dark Council to hunt down and kill the emperor’s former apprentice, who has apparently gone rouge and is feeding vital strategic information to the Republic. As of today, the story is only half-way completed, so with regards to a brief plot-synopsis, I’m going to stop there.

The story, thus far, is interesting, and I’m really enjoying the art of Dave Ross. This is the second web-comic produced by SWTOR, the first being a source I will get to shortly, The Threat of Peace.

I don’t want to delve too deep into this source right now because it’s still incomplete. I will come back to this post and edit it after I have engaged with Blood of the Empire in its entirety. But there are a couple of things I want to talk about. I’d like to briefly go into detail about aspects of the game which I think are revealed in this comic, and comment on the characterization of the emperor, since that is something I’ve latched onto in my other posts regarding this time period.

Some aspects of game-play which I think the writers of Blood of the Empire are alluding to are combat and weapons. A hand-to-hand combat form mentioned in the early pages of the comic is Treas Kasai. This form of combat has precedent in the Star Wars universe, first coming to light, I think, in the Shadows of the Empire novel, and then later adapted as a combat form in the first Star Wars MMO, Star Wars Galaxies. This combat form is famous for non-force users to use against force users, as it has the ability to level the playing field – in that a non-force user can compete with a force user in a more equitable manner. When I played Star Wars Galaxies, my bounty hunter was also a Master or Teras Kasai, and hand-to-hand combat was how I took down my Jedi bounties.

Also at the beginning of the comic, weapons like “cacophanizer shells” are referenced, perhaps indicating a type of weapon that will be used in the game that is not a traditional energy weapon. The Jedi cannot block or otherwise deal with weapons which militarize the use of sound, as was demonstrated in the movie Attack of the Clones, and the Geonosian’s use of sonic blasters. Also, in Star Wars Galaxies, I myself was fond of using the Geonosian sonic blaster, and used the weapon as I was closing the distance to my target. A great quote with regards to sonic weapons can be found on wookieepedia and the entry ’Geonosian sonic blaster’. Poggle the Lesser says of them: “Let the Jedi come. Our weapons will melt their eardrums and make their hearts explode.” Awesome.

So after some speculation as to the character of the Sith emperor in my previous posts, we are privy to his actual appearance in this comic. And his appearance only raises more questions and speculations. He is shown in a young body, and his voice is not his own, as it says in Blood of the Empire’s pages: “The voice does not belong among mortals. To speak in its presence seems heresy”. This may lend credence to the idea that the Sith emperor is an ancient Sith spirit, who possess bodies to keep himself in the material world. If we know anything about the darkside of the Force, is that it consumes the flesh, and the closer one gets into its depth, the more frantic is its consumption of the body. I wouldn’t be surprised if we discover that the Sith emperor is none other than Ludo Kressh, considering the vehemence with which the Sith emperor destroyed the tomb of Naga Sadow, as was presented in the timeline Peace for the Republic. Kressh and Sadow were known enemies. Anyway, I’ve fallen into speculation at this point. Needles to say, the figure of the Sith emperor is highly absorbing.

I’m going to halt my examinations of this piece for the time being, and return to it when it is complete. For my next post I’ll be looking at the 5th timeline record by SWTOR, titled The Battle of Bothawui. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

October 5th 2010.

I’m not really sure how to conclude my post on Blood of the Empire. The first thing that comes to mind is Blood of the Empire was better than Threat of Peace. I thought it was a good little narrative of the evolution of a Sith. As readers we were privy to the promotion of Teneb-Kel to the dark council where he took on his new moniker Darth Thanton. He defeated the Sith emperor’s apprentice, and in the process gained some new insights into the nature of his dark master.

It’s these insights he offers to the dark council to secure his spot among them. The question remains though, what is it that he knows of the emperor’s plans for the future?

I think the focal point of this thought centers upon the idea of the emperor’s children – the roots of which I think inevitably lead us to Darth Andeddu and his knowledge of the essence transfer. I know I’m making a large assumption here (assuming Darth Andeddu and the essence transfer has anything to do with the emperor’s children), but I’m still sort of trying to get my bearings straight from the realization that I completely misread the end of the Darth Bane trilogy. I incorrectly thought that Bane was successful with the essence transfer. As one poster on the swtor forms pointed out to me, it was Karpyshyn’s intent to demonstrate the essence transfer failed. An authorial intent lost on me it seems.

The saving grace in this matter is that Karpyshyn admits that it could be interpreted as Bane being successful (and I think I made some strong arguments for this point of view), but it was not his authorial intent to present it as such. He eventually comes out and says “Zannah won. Bane tried to possess her but failed”. Ultimately it does not matter to me who won. I just like to know who did. But I am irritated that I interpreted events so poorly, and I’m irritated that Karpyshyn thinks he was being clear, when it is obvious that many of his readers read the ending as I did. I want to invoke at this point the literary theory of reader-response and Roland Barthes, and the idea that the authority or intent of the author is irrelevant to a work’s meaning. Basically in reader response theory Karpyshyn’s intent is irrelevant if the community reading his text all interpreted it in the same manner. It’s at this point his authorial authority is thrown out the window. But I think such an argument would only be interesting to those interested in hermeneutics.

As is it, I was attempting to connect some dots between the Sith emperor, and the wisdom gained by Bane through Andeddu’s holocron, but alas, there may not be any dots to connect. At the end of the day the questions to the Sith emperor’s longevity is hinted at (the use of his “children”) but a concrete answer still alludes us. As the emperor’s apprentice says” I was supposed to be his apprentice. Instead he poured his thoughts into my mind and made me the first of a thousand salves! To be the emperor’s heir is one thing. To be his pawn is another….” . It seems the emperor’s intent was to possess his apprentice, but interestingly she says she was “the first of a thousand slaves”. I wonder how true or accurate this is. If this is the case, the questions still remains, how has the emperor managed to live for so long?

I think I’m going to leave the source Blood of the Empire there, and move on to completing my studies of the Bane period with an examination of what is found in the source Jedi vs. Sith. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.


  1. Regarding whether the Emperor might be Ludo Kressh, it might be possible. But it might be important to note that Kressh wanted to preserve the Empire as it was during Marka Ragnos reign (AKA The Golden Age of the Sith) Ludo thought an invasion could possibly destroy the empire, and that they should instead reinforce what they`ve got. But what do I know, he might have chanced since then.

  2. Yeah, Kressh was defiantly an inward looking ruler, more afraid of destabilizing the status quo than expanding the Empire. What is more, he was also concerned with protecting Sith bloodlines and the Sith species. As he said to Seelah Korsin before the Great Hyperspace War 'I've seen the future of the Sith Empire, and the future looks like you'. A derogatory comment to her, implying humans are not worthy of carrying the Sith legacy.

    I myself am not totally convinced it's Kressh, but I still think it's a possibility, considering how vehemently Sadow's tomb was destroyed. In order for the Sith Emperor to be Kressh however, his Sith spirit would need to have undergone a change of philosophy regarding Sith expansion. I neat idea I think if it is him.