The Jedi Order is a monastic peacekeeping organization of magic wielders who use their magical abilities to serve as the self-proclaimed guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy. An individual member of the Order is known as a "Jedi Knight."
There has been a belief in magic among the sentients of the galaxy for as long as there have been sentients in the galaxy. The belief in this extradimensional force transcends cultures and species and worlds and with time the great thinkers of the galaxy came to the understanding that every aspect of the galaxy, living or otherwise, is touched by this power in some way. To the sentients of the galaxy, it is something of superstition, it appears to shift their fiction in unpredictable ways, it bends the laws of physics, chemistry and biology. It allows the impossible to happen. Somewhere along the way, sentients realize that this malleable nature of magic goes both ways. It can manipulate their reality, and they can manipulate it right back.
Those groups throughout the galaxy who began to dedicate themselves to studying the phenomenon of magic and learning how to master it were labeled as witches, wizards, sorcerers and mystics. Some cultures worship magic, others fear it. Through the ages, it has been given countless names: mana, chi, tao, essence, akasa, ethereality, ley lines and thousands of other appellations. No matter how it is named, only one thing matters... magic is real. To those who master it, magic is a powerful weapon, a sure defense and a finely crafted art.
Some of these early magic wielders would revel in their discoveries and live out their lives without passing on their knowledge, others would seek to use their knowledge to obtain riches or power, still others, use it to become respected village shaman, priests of their religions, or leaders of their people. This last group would take on apprentices and teach others how to be aware of magical forces, and how to tap into them and use them for their own purposes. Their knowledge was passed on and incorporated into their culture and religions, where it became encoded into mythologies and cultural behavior.
Eventually, the hyperdrive engine was perfected. With this technological wonder, the galaxy became a much smaller place. Travel that once took centuries could now be accomplished in a matter of weeks, days, or even hours. As the physical borders disappeared, cultures clashed. Some were destroyed or assimilated, some forged uneasy alliances with each other and exchanged information. The worlds in the galactic community that were aware of mystical powers realized for the first time that they are not alone and the best and brightest scientific, religious and philosophical groups from dozens of worlds collectively started "comparing notes" on what they'd learned. Many were excited to discover common findings about the source of the phenomenon that is called magic. It was realized that a sentient being is able to perform magic by mentally accessing and controlling certain energies and entities from universes of non-Einsteinian physics that are congruent to our universe. Different skills derived from the manipulation of these energies and entities began to spread throughout the magic using community. The revelation of the nature of magic came as a shock to many because various worlds had long since forgotten of magic's true existence and simply regarded it as fantasy. Planets where this had happened include Earth.
After combining all known information, what they realized was that because these other universes possess physical laws that are tremendously different from our universe, magic wielders are able to defy the conventional laws of physics and alter many aspects of reality on a fundamental level by using the extra-dimensional energies and entities to manipulate both the space-time continuum and the fundamental forces of nature (gravity, electromagnetism, strong nuclear force, weak nuclear force). Simply put, magic is the use of powers from other universes to reshape ours on intrinsic levels. Although compared to the scope of the entire universe, it is within a relatively microscopic and localized area.
After much study, meditation, communion, debate, and experimentation, the groups gathered on Earth to merge and found a new society dedicated to the study of the use of magic. A member of this new society was to be called a "Jedi," a word that means "sorcerer" in an ancient Twi'lek language. This name was chosen by the Wookiee delegation of the new group, who were the organizers of the gathering.
Further research by the Jedi revealed that the sentient mind affecting magic works because the brain is nothing more than an organic, biochemical computer. Its functions and operations change with chemical imbalance. It can be affected by outside influences and the environment. Mind affecting magic often targets specific sections of the brain and uses thermal variations, pressure variations, magnetic fields, electromagnetic radiation, electric impulses, sound waves, gravity manipulation and the introduction of foreign biomolecules. A magic wielder, therefore, can use potions, talismans, and spells that incorporate one or a combination of these phenomena to alter the perceptions of the mind, allowing them to summon an extradimensional force to override the usual laws of nature. The incantations of a spell are mathematical in nature, encoded equations of sorts. It's an exotic form of mathematics that is completely incomprehensible to anyone who has not studied magic. Even a simple spell may involve several pages of these complex arcane equations and encoded mathematics. Very powerful and sophisticated spells may fill dozens of pages. The greatest spells known to the galaxy may fill an entire book each.
It also soon became apparent that the "arcane arts" are not an easy path to tread. Few people possess the mental faculties to grasp even the most fundamental arcane concepts. Fewer still could possibly go on to become a successful Jedi. For most races only one in ten thousand have the necessary genetic traits to become spell casters of any appreciable skill and only one in a million have the potential to become truly great Jedi. And even then it requires a vast intellect, raw talent, a great deal of patience, endless study, a serious commitment of time, attention to detail and a sufficient teacher. Just a few years after the Jedi Order was formed, an edict was issued that declared that they would only accepted those within the one in a million range to join the Order.
Over time, the Jedi also discovered that younger beings have an easier time of learning the techniques required to touch and control magic, so they eventually developed a system that actively sought out and identified beings with the correct genetic potential while they were in infancy. With the permission of the parents, the Jedi would take children by the first three years of life. These are the most important and dangerous years during development, because at this time, the mental and physical connections in the brain are made. If these connections and thought patterns are already developed, it becomes much harder to re-train the brain and remove undesirable attributes. By approximately ten years of age these characteristics and personalities are firmly set in place. Children that old were often unable to complete the necessary training, and were deemed too wasteful of Jedi resources.
Eventually the hyperspace lanes allowed multiple star systems to form the Galactic Republic, a democratic union uniting a vast number of diverse species. As centuries passed, a natural evolution took place within the ranks of the Jedi Order. As a society dedicated to research and study, the Jedi found it in their best interest to promote peace, using their abilities to encourage the growth of civilization. In time, the Jedi evolved from advocates of civilization to defenders of it. Their society took a more active role in protecting peace and justice. When armies of tyranny, such as the Legions of Lettow, tried to carve empires of fear and hatred from the civilized systems of the galaxy, the Jedi opposed them.
At some point, a Jedi scientist discovered that a powerful plasmoid-like substance could be generated and held in place by a rod-shaped containment field. The field could be set so that the plasmoid-like substance could not escape, but other objects could pass, to be consumed by the deadly energies within. This created a deadly blade of light which could slice its way through almost any substance, leaving a very thin cut with signs of a burn. The very nature of the field meant that one field was thoroughly opaque to another. The field could be maintained almost indefinitely if linked to the generating device. These blades could block one another, and the best defense against a blade, was another blade.
Thus the lightsaber was invented. A powerful and noble weapon, the lightsaber gave the advantage in hand-to-hand troops who (with high-density armor and even personal repulsor shields) were impervious to primitive slugthrowing weapons.
Eventually, advances in the science of field technology allowed for a self-sustaining bubble of containment to be generated. A plasmoid could be generated and detached from its generator and flung out at an opponent for quite some distance before it finally dissipated. This gave way to the invention of the blaster. Only the most supremely skilled lightsaber-user could take advantage of the fact that a lightsaber can deflect a blaster bolt. Due to their magically enhanced reflexes and agility, the Jedi Knights became the most prominent users of the lightsaber.
During this period, the Jedi were far less organized than they would later become, but the heart of the Jedi Order has always remained unchanged. Thanks to the Order's efforts, the Galactic Republic expanded and prospered.
However, no group as powerful as the Jedi can ever exist without suffering temptation. Most magic is relatively neutral--it can be used for bad or good. Some magic, however, is evil in it's intention through and through. This "dark side" of magic involves summoning and using malevolent entities to do harm to others. The use of dark side magic happens to be easier than the use of conventional magic and its use is also addictive. The addiction to dark side magic will eventually twist and even destroy the moral character of its user.
Despite the best intentions of the Jedi instructors to keep young apprentices away from the dark side, some of those who were taught the arcane arts were not worthy of the trust they had been given. A few simply succumbed to the temptations of quick and easy power the dark side offers. These so-called Dark Jedi, fallen Jedi, and rogue Jedi formed their own magic-using traditions and eventually came into conflict with their parent Order. During this earliest era, a group of Dark Jedi rose to challenge the Jedi Order. These Dark Jedi were driven from the Republic after a century of battle, eventually resettling on an uncharted world already occupied by a species known as the Sith.
Over the course of many centuries, the Jedi realized that they not only wielded a limitless source of energy, but they also held a social responsibility to wield it in the service of civilization - and to ensure that this power was never abused. Although they suffered their share of setbacks, in time, they became the Republic's first lines of defense against entities that sought to tear it apart.
This era marks the expansionist age of the Galactic Republic. Explorers were still mapping new hyperspace lanes and encountering new species. Colonies became commonplace. The Core Worlds were settled and exploration began pushing into the Inner Rim and Expansion regions of space. During this time, the Jedi Knights became the accepted peacekeepers of the galaxy. Individual Jedi Masters ran schools where they took in students they deemed worthy and taught with whatever methods they had found most effective. The Jedi Order was a loose collection of equals tied together by a sense of respect and camaraderie among different Jedi Masters.
These bonds between Jedi were matters of honor and tradition, not law. A fully trained Jedi Knight was free to travel whatever path he chose. Not even the most respected Jedi Master would consider refusing to allow a Jedi to undertake a course of action he was set on, even if the Master foresaw catastrophe at the end of the path. Similarly, the governments of the Republic were free to ask individual Jedi for aid. Such requests were usually honored, but no law bound the Jedi to the Republic's service. Despite the formal nature of this system, the Jedi and the Republic successfully overcame countless minor threats, working together to unify and protect the galactic government.
Unknown to the Jedi, the ousted members of their Order had fled to live among the Sith. They insinuated themselves into Sith society and developed their own powerful magical traditions, practices steeped in the hatred and anger of dark side magic. When a pair of Republic hyperspace mappers arrived in Sith space, the malevolent Sith Empire saw an opportunity for great conquest and expansion. Naga Sadow, Dark Lord of the Sith, followed explorers back into Republic space and ignited the Great Hyperspace War.
The Republic was ill prepared for the massive assault of the Sith, and it was first unable to stem the tide of the Sith invasion. Dozens of Jedi soon flocked to the defense of Republic worlds, managing to win victories at Primus Goluud and Kirrek. The most vicious fighting occurred on Earth, where the Sith's Massassi troops came close to overwhelming the Republic forces of Empress Teta and her Jedi advisor, Memit Nadill. The valiant sacrifice of Jedi Master Ooroo turned the tide of the battle. As a Celegian, Ooroo was dependent on a life pod flooded with deadly cyanogen gas. When he broke open his life pod in the midst of the Sith army, the oxygen atmosphere killed Ooroo, but the dense cyanogen gas of his life pod wiped out the Massassi troops. Following that victory, Republic ships followed the defeated Sith fleet back to the Sith Empire. With a barrage from the Republic starships, the Republic ended the Sith threat - at least for a time.
Though the Republic was victorious, the conflict had not been without cost. Many Jedi turned away from their previous role of warriors, seeking peaceful ways to aid and protect the Republic. Jedi Master Odan-Urr, having lost his own Master in the fighting on Earth (the capital world of the Galactic Republic), built a great library and center of Jedi learning on Ossus. There he taught his interpretation of the Jedi Code, encouraging Jedi to seek nonviolent solutions to problems wherever possible. Odan-Urr believed that any emotion, even positive emotions such as love and loyalty, could lead a Jedi to the dark side of magic. His teachings have influenced how Jedi act and receive instructions for eons.
As the Republic recovered from its terrible war with the Sith Empire, the Jedi began to deal with the repercussions of the existence of a group as devoted to using magic for evil as they were to using magic for good. Though the Sith were defeated, the call of dark side magic had not diminished. The Sith left behind treasure troves of scrolls and artifacts seething with the knowledge and power of the dark side. Jedi Knights who studied such relics were tempted to explore dark side magic's mysteries. Those who fell to temptation would later use the weapons and teachings of the Sith against the Republic, their former Jedi brethren, and even the Jedi Masters who had instructed them.
The role of the Jedi Order within the Republic continually developed as new traditions grew. A group of trusted Jedi Masters gathered regularly in a Jedi Assembly, discussing the state of the galaxy and ways the Jedi could improve it. In many ways, the formation of the Assembly was a reaction to the discovery that the new Sith society had its roots in the Jedi Order. Jedi hoped that the Assembly would not only keep track of renegade Jedi but also oppose any further splinter groups that sought out the dark side of magic. To maintain vigilance throughout the galaxy, the Jedi Assembly encouraged Jedi Masters to accept stewardship over new systems, thereby maintaining a Jedi presence in all civilized areas.
One such Jedi Master was Arca Jeth, who accepted stewardship over the Onderon system. He initially sent his three apprentices to keep peace in the system, but Queen Amanoa soon overpowered them. Amanoa had learned Sith secrets from a dark side spirit named Freedon Nadd, the instigator of the Naddist movement. Master Arca traveled to Onderon to defeat Queen Amanoa personally, but he could not end Freedon Nadd's powerful influence. For two years following Amanoa's defeat, a shadow sat over Onderon. To end the darkness, Master Jeth decided to move the sarcophagus containing Freedon Nadd's remains to Onderon's moon, Dxun. The spirit of Freedon Nadd later guided a Nadd cultist, King Ommin, to attack Master Arca and recover the sarcophagus. To stop Ommin, a fleet of Republic ships and Jedi moved en masse to Onderon.
The spirit of Freedon Nadd realized that King Ommin would fall to the Jedi, so he switched his support to a group of bored aristocrats who had found a few ancient Sith artifacts. Calling themselves the Krath, the aristocrats were easily manipulated into believing they were great Sith sorcerers. Although the Jedi successfully moved Nadd's remains to Dxun, the Sith spirit had a strong enough connection to the Krath to continue influencing the galaxy.
Even as the Jedi restored order to Onderon, another Jedi named Exar Kun began to feel the first seductive touch of dark side magic. A student of the famous Vodo-Siosk Baas, Kun had not entirely conquered his pride. It still surfaced repeatedly - invariably bringing anger with it. Rejecting Master Vodo's instructions as too slow and too limited, Exar Kun declared himself a Jedi Knight and went in search of ancient Sith lore. In his pride, he believed that he would be able to resist the pull of the dark side. He was wrong. The dark side consumed him.
Shortly thereafter, four Jedi - Ulic and Cay Qel-Droma, Nomi Sunrider and Tott Doneeta - wrestled with the emergence of a new dark side cult founded by Aleema and Satal Keto, the spoiled children of the ruling family in the Empress Teta star system. In their boredom, Aleema and Satal had begun researching the mysteries of the dark side of magic. Their quest for knowledge had introduced them to King Ommin shortly before his defeat. Ommin gave them Sith tomes and relics, and the Ketos took these treasures with them back to their homeworld to overthrow their parents and wage war on other systems. Nomi, Tott and the Qel-Droma brothers were assigned to stop them.
The darksiders launched a counterattack aimed at a convocation of Jedi on the planet Deneba. Reprogrammed noncombat robots (aka droids) armed with weapons attacked the Jedi, providing a diversion while hundreds of war droids touched down in landing pods. Dozens of Jedi were killed, including Master Arca Jeth. Gripped by despair, Ulic Qel-Droma executed his plan of infiltrating the darksiders to defeat them from within. Infected by Sith poison, Ulic instead became one of them - though he still clung to the belief that he could walk away from the dark side when he was ready to do so.
As Ulic fell to corruption, Exar Kun delved deeper into the mysteries of the Sith. With the air of the dark side spirit Freedon Nadd, Kun located a storehouse of Sith treasures on the fourth moon of Yavin. He quickly used them to make himself powerful in the use of dark side magic. Sensing the presence of more Sith acolytes on , the capital of the Empress Teta system, Kun brought a small army of alchemically altered Massassi slaves to eliminate the competition. While Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma battled, spirits of ancient Sith Lords observed the contest. The Sith spirits saw the battle would ultimately end with both men dead; therefore, it would be of no use to the Sith if the fight continued. They immediately stopped the battle and declared that Kun and Qel-Droma would be the new Dark Lords of the Sith. Together, they would establish a new Sith Empire.
With their power united, Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma waged war on the Republic. Kun turned twenty Jedi Knights to the dark side, while Ulic raised armies and stole hundreds of ships from the Republic. He attacked Earth itself, but was soon captured. Exar Kun liberated his ally before slaying his old Master, Vodo-Siosk Baas, on the floor of the Republic Senate chamber. Encouraged by this success in the very heart of the Republic, Exar Kun sent his Dark Jedi converts to attack their former Masters, with terrible results.
By this time, Aleema Keto had become one of Exar Kun's lieutenants. Her cousin, Satal, had died at Cay Qel-Droma's hands. Girding herself for war, she used ancient Sith technology to augment her dark powers, wrenching the core out of a star in the Cron Cluster and dropping it in the midst of a Jedi battle group pursuing her. In an instant, the resulting supernova incinerated many Jedi Knights, including Qrrrl Toq, Dace Diath and Shoaneb Culu.
The world of Ossus, the location of the Jedi Order's great library, was threatened by the blast. Even as the Jedi hurried to rescue several millennia worth of artifacts and documents, Kun and Ulic launched their attack; intent on claiming those treasures themselves. In the fray, Ulic Qel-Droma fought his own brother, Cay - and slaughtered him. In his grief over this act of treachery, Ulic offered no resistance when Nomi Sunrider used her Jedi powers to block his ability to use magic. It was a fitting punishment for someone who had used the dark side to ravage half the galaxy.
No longer able to wield magic, Ulic Qel-Droma offered to lead the assembled Jedi army to Exar Kun's headquarters on Yavin 4. Kun escaped their wrath by using his Sith alchemical machines to convert his being to pure spirit, even as the Jedi generated a wall of magical energy to cleanse the presence of dark side magic from the gas giant's moon. Once again, the Sith threat had been stopped and the Republic would have peace.
Ulic Qel-Droma had no peace. Wherever he went, he was reminded of all that he had done and all that he had lost. He wandered the galaxy, searching for a place where he could live out his days in isolation. Ten years after losing his magical abilities, he settled on the world of Rhen Var, a planet just emerging from an ice age. There, he hoped to live in peace. Meanwhile, Vima Sunrider, daughter of Nomi Sunrider, had grown old enough to want Jedi training of her own. Her mother, now head of the Jedi Order, had no time to provide it. Vima sought out Ulic and begged him to teach her the ways of the Jedi. Even though he himself could no longer use magic, he eventually agreed. Under his tutelage, Vima learned much - so much so that when her mother arrived to bring her home, Vima refused to go.
While Nomi and Vima discussed her training, others arrived: the Jedi Knight Sylvar, whose mate Crado had been slain by the supernova; and Hoggon, the tramp freighter pilot who had brought Ulic to Rhen Var in the first place. Sylvar attacked Ulic, but her enemy understood better than anyone else did that Sylvar's sense of vengeance had led her down the dark path. By refusing to fight her, Ulic showed her that it was possible to return from the brink of the dark side. Sylvar relented, allowing him to live. Moments later, the smuggler Hoggon shot Ulic, hoping to make a name for himself. With his dying breath, Ulic asked Nomi to forgive him for all he had done. She did indeed forgive him and in her eyes, Ulic Qel-Droma died a Jedi.
The story of Ulic Qel-Droma and Nomi Sunrider served as a shining example to the Jedi for over two millennia. Though the dark side of magic had been dealt a crippling blow by the loss of its Dark Lord of the Sith, Exar Kun, its use could never be completely eradicated. Other Jedi would eventually turn to dark side magic to revive the Sith way, giving rise to a new empire of darkness - one carefully hidden from the Jedi.
The Jedi Order enjoyed two thousand years of peace and growth, evolving from scattered remnants to a great power. That peace ended when a rogue Jedi Knight rejected the Jedi Code and broke away from the Order. In secret, he studied the lost Sith arts. Over time, he drew more and more Jedi students to his side. He became the new Dark Lord of the Sith, and his followers were called the Brotherhood of Darkness.
For a millennia, they stayed mostly in the shadows, battling Jedi only when the option of flight was denied to them. When the Jedi order uncovered the Brotherhood's heresies, they sent the Jedi master Hoth to capture the leader of the Sith. What started as a small exchange between Master Hoth's forces and the Dark Lords of the Sith became a full-blown war that went on for years, culminating in an all-out war on the pastoral world of Ruusan. Jedi fighting for justice died in Hoth's "Army of Light," but Jedi who gave in to anger and despair lived on in the brotherhood of Darkness. The Jedi Order grew weak, not only because of a lack of Masters to train new students but also from internal squabbling over the best way to end Hoth's war. In desperation, the Jedi Order took to recruiting magic-capable children and sending them directly to the battlefield. It was a grim time for the Jedi.
The Sith had their own difficulties. As their leaders died in battle, several ambitious Sith warriors declared themselves the new Dark Lords of the Sith at the same time. Internal strife intensified. The sect's latest leader, Lord Kaan, declared that all the Sith's various leaders were Dark Lords, and therefore equal. Kaan hoped to avoid further infighting, but Darth Bane viciously opposed him. Lord Kaan responded by poisoning Bane - one of the last of the "legitimate" Sith Lords - in his own bid for power.
After finding a cure for the poison coursing through his body, Darth Bane returned. In revenge, he declared Kaan unworthy of his title. Rather than fighting for dominance, Bane merely advised the other Sith Lords on more effective ways to win the war against the Jedi, showing them how to combine their power to lay waste to the entire battlefield at once. Many so-called Sith Lords suspected that Bane was just using their life energies for his own ends, and thus rejected his advice.
Lord Kaan sensed the scope of Bane's strategy. Kaan had been driven mad by his greater glimpse of dark side magic's true power. He declared that the Sith would use what Bane had taught them to unleash an energy wave empowered by dark side magic: a "thought bomb". The tactic was horrifically effective. Thousands of Jedi and Sith died in moments. Only a handful escaped. Darth Bane was among them.
Bane found a young girl named on the battlefield. She was untrained in the use of magic but possessed great magic-using potential. Bane took her, as his apprentice, beginning a new Sith tradition--there would never again be more than two Sith Lords at a time, a master and an apprentice. As the next thousand years unfolded, the Sith codified their teachings, meditated on the dark side, and planned in isolation ways to once again strike at their hated enemies, the Jedi.
The Jedi rebuilt their order after the Battle of Ruusan, incorporating the lessons they had learned from their latest conflict with the dark side. To convince the Galactic Republic that they would not become a conquering army, the Jedi Knights abandoned their battle armor, renounced all military ranks, disbanded their armies and placed themselves under the supervision of the Republic's Judicial Department, under the office of the Supreme Chancellor. No longer would they spread their training centers across the galaxy. When academies were isolated, Jedi who began exploring the dark side of magic could proceed unnoticed and undisturbed. Instead, the Jedi Order built a temple on Earth, the center of galactic civilation. To remove the danger of unsupervised students delving into forbidden Sith knowledge, it became a place where all young Jedi could train and learn under the watchful eye of their Masters. In order to further lessen the chance of a Sith resurgence, the Jedi redoubled their efforts to find youngsters capable of becoming truly great magic wielders. Masters now insist that students begin their training before they can become too wrapped up in the material world, with all its temptations and strong emotions. The Jedi Order will not allow one of their own to resurrect the Sith Empire again.
However, unknown to the Jedi, the Sith have not gone away. They have merely slipped into the shadows while the Jedi Order has spread across the galaxy, protecting the Galactic Republic and watching over its many systems. Legendary throughout the stars, the Jedi Knights battle interplanetary criminals and settle cosmic disputes. They are known as scholars, warriors, and philosophers. The Jedi are all these things – and much more.