Recapping KOTOR’s story in light of the movie news.
There was once a period of the Jedi Order’s history before the dark times that was only hinted at in the decades following the release of Star Wars. There were rumors of thousands of Jedi Knights as peacekeepers, traversing the galaxy to root out and stop the spread of evil. It wasn’t until the 2003 release of the PC/Xbox game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (known by fans as KOTOR) from LucasArts and BioWare that Star Wars fans got a firsthand look at the Jedi at the height of their power—and be one of them. It’s the game that put BioWare at the top of many gamers’ list of favorite studios, and KOTOR has been commonly considered a classic story of the Jedi Knights in the years since.
And now we might see it come to life on the big screen after a report that Lucasfilm has selected a writer for a potential KOTOR film.
Here’s everything you need to know about the first Knights of the Old Republic game to give you an idea of what we might see in the film rumored to be in development.
Warning: Major spoilers are included in this rundown of the game. Read at your own risk!
A Long Time Ago…
Knights of the Old Republic begins 4000 years before the Skywalker Saga. The classic opening text crawl tells us that a Sith Lord, Darth Malak, former apprentice of the malevolent Darth Revan, has been waging a war against the galaxy. His relentless attacks have weakened the Jedi and even brought some of them over to his cause. While the Jedi Order begins to decline as a result, it is a time when the numbers of both the Jedi and the Sith are still at one of their highest points.
The Story Explained
The Jedi who would become Darth Revan and Darth Malak originally parted ways with the Jedi Order so that they could fight on behalf of the Republic in the Mandalorian Wars. (Jedi Knights do not traditionally fight in wars.) After the end of the war, the two shocked the Order by returning as Sith, and Jedi Knight Bastila Shan was part of the mission to stop them in their conquest of the galaxy. When the Jedi confronted Malak, he turned against his former master and attacked both Revan and Bastila before escaping.
The game begins some time later in the skies over the planet Taris in the Outer Rim, where the player, a soldier of the Republic, wakes up on the Endar Spire as it comes under attack.
It’s not long before the player crosses paths with Bastila and gets swept up on a journey across the galaxy that takes them to familiar planets like Dantooine, Tatooine, and Kashyyyk to find pieces of a star map that will lead them to the villainous Malak. But the big threat is more than just Malak — it’s a superweapon known as the Star Forge, though this thing is a little more complicated than the planet-destroying Death Star. The ancient weapon once served as an energy source to produce ships and technology, powered by a nearby star, but was corrupted by the malevolent aspects of its mysterious creators and became a weapon of the Dark Side of the Force. Any who use it will be distorted by the Dark Side and fall under the sway of the semi-sentient weapon, including Darth Malak, who learned to harness the dark energy to boost his own powers and strength.
To stop Darth Malak and save the galaxy, the Star Forge must be destroyed once and for all.
Who’s Who in the Old Republic
Bastila is a loyal Jedi Knight given the task to find and capture Darth Malak. She strictly follows the Jedi Code and wields a double-bladed yellow lightsaber. Her specialty is battle meditation, a rare skill even among the Jedi that boosts the morale, coordination, and strength of a large number of her allies in combat. This ability is so powerful that it can turn the tide in a conflict and help them win even large-scale battles in a war.
One of the Republic’s best pilots and a respected veteran of the Mandalorian Wars, Carth assists Bastila on her mission. He lost his family when Malak and Revan turned against the Jedi, and he vowed revenge against the admiral who carried out the attack on his planet—his former commanding officer in the war. As the story continues, the group gains their own ship, the Ebon Hawk, which Carth expertly pilots.
A young Twi’lek girl, who is close friends with a Wookiee named Zalbaar, she lived on the streets of Taris before crossing paths with the player. Mission is a master at sleight of hand and slicing.
A Mandalorian mercenary who surrendered to the Jedi during the Mandalorian Wars, he is working on Taris for a crime lord when he meets the player. He seeks honor through combat and is a loyal, hardened fighter and ally. In time he brings the Mandalorian clans back together and works to restore their former glory.
A utility droid from Taris with formidable code-breaking and slicing skills, T3 has a personality all his own.
Arguably the most beloved character to be featured in KOTOR, HK-47 is a deadly assassin droid with a wry sense of humor. He has a tendency to call all lifeforms “meatbags” and dislikes being beholden to any master. HK-47 was originally constructed by Darth Revan.
A former Padawan who once battled the powerful Sith Lord Exar Kun (a character that debuted in some of the earliest Expanded Universe novels by Kevin J. Anderson), Jolee exiled himself for years until he meets the player and their companions. He left the Order before achieving the rank of Jedi Knight but is considered to be a prime example of “Gray” Jedi who don’t claim allegiance to one side of the Force or the other.
Former apprentice to Darth Revan, Darth Malak and the Sith declared war on the Order in a conflict that would be known as the Jedi Civil War. Once he found the Star Forge, he turned on his former master and became a Dark Lord of the Sith intent on bending the galaxy to his will.
A Jedi who defied the Council by joining in the battle against the Mandalorians, Revan and his apprentice Malak fell under the influence of the leader of the Sith Empire. Malak fired on his former master’s ship in an act of betrayal and Darth Revan vanished from the galaxy.
The Revan Revelation
Ready for the big twist?
Ultimately the player learns that Bastila saved Darth Revan’s life years before, changed the Sith Lord’s memories with the help and approval of the Jedi Council, and gave Revan a new life as a Republic soldier in the hopes of finding Malak. You guessed it—that Republic soldier is you.
Once the truth is revealed, the player must decide how their past as Darth Revan affects them, either embracing the Dark Side or returning to the Light. Both paths take them on a journey to confront Darth Malak, but it’s all up to the player’s choices that dictate how the story ends.
If Revan chooses the Light, Malak is defeated and the Star Forge is destroyed. Revan and his companions are granted medals similar to the ceremony at the end of A New Hope, and deemed heroes of the age.
The Dark Side ending brings Revan to reclaim the title of Dark Lord of the Sith, and a few of his companions follow. Together they destroy Malak and begin their own conquest of the galaxy with the Jedi Order in tatters.
But Is It Canon?
Ah, the question you can never escape from when you’re talking about Star Wars. While Knights of the Old Republic is considered part of the “Legends” expanded universe that was removed from Star Wars canon in 2014, there are hints that certain story elements have survived into the current continuity. The planet Taris is represented by a senator sympathetic to the Rebellion in Rogue One, Tynnra Pamlo, and a Jedi war against the Mandalorians is mentioned briefly in Star Wars Rebels.
Only time will tell if more elements from the KOTOR games are added to the canon Star Wars universe with the development of the Old Republic era stories. Either way, there’s never been a more exciting time to be a fan of Knights of the Old Republic.
Kelly Knox is a freelance writer who also contributes to StarWars.com, Marvel.com, Nerdist, and more. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox.