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An atlatl, energy ball atlatl or Gungan atlatl was a Gungan throwing stick used to launch energy balls a longer distance than the naked arm could achieve. The ball's outer layer broke on impact, releasing a plasma and electric shock that damaged the target. Atlatls were sometimes used as blunt force weapons. Atlatls were carved from a naturally isolating wood, so that the wielder would not be affected should the ball break while on the atlatl. As such, the wielder could use the atlatl as a club in melee combat, breaking the ball on contact with an enemy. The atlatl had a shorter range than other similar Gungan tools to throw energy balls, like the cesta, but it was much more precise and, being a one-handed weapon, allowed the warrior to hold an energy shield for protection in the other hand. In addition, atlatls could be used to fish.

Militiagungs in the Gungan Grand Army were trained in the use of atlatl in the times before 32 BBY, even though the Gungans had spent many years without a war. When the Trade Federation threatened the Gungan civilization in 32 BBY, the Gungan Grand Army used atlatls and other traditional weapons in the Battle of Grassy Plains. Years later, Jango Fett used an atlatl to teach fishing skills to his child, Boba Fett.


The atlatl,[8] energy ball atlatl[4] or Gungan atlatl[9] was a non-conductive hardwood utensil naturally shaped as a short throwing stick with a cradle in one of its ends.[1] While the item itself was organic, growing naturally as a single piece with its peculiar shape,[8] it was still carved out of the trees growing on the planet Naboo.[1] Those woods had natural isolating properties that the atlatl kept.[8] Traditionally, the owner fashioned an atlatl with personal motifs.[1] A finished, ready-for-use atlatl weighed a total of 1.5 kilograms.[3]

Gungan droid

A Gungan warrior prepares to use a booma-laden atlatl on a B1 battle droid

The atlatl was a traditional weapon for the Gungan sentient species,[3] Gungans used grenade-like projectiles known as energy balls,[1][8][10] booma[8] or boomers,[10] that were thrown against a target. Breaking the shell on impact, the booma released a liquid-like plasma and an electric shock that damaged both organic and technological targets.[1][8] The shape of the atlatl was optimal to place on its cradle one—and only one—energy ball of the right size,[1][10] a small energy ball.[9] Then, an individual—commonly a Gungan—could launch the ball from the atlatl,[7][11][12] with a longer range than the naked arm would achieve.[3][8]

The specific length of the atlatl handle provided the additional strength and speed, and the cradle released the ball in the algid moment of the throw.[8] With a maximum range of 100 meters, and an optimal range of 30 meters, the atlatl was very precise in short distances,[1] and it could be used with only one hand.[2][7][9]

Being a throwing stick,[3][9] it could also be used as a simple club in melee combat[3] should the user feel cornered[1] or in a desperate situation.[9] If the atlatl was holding an energy ball and the wielder used the atlatl as a club, the energy ball would explode when hitting the target, but the isolating material of the atlatl would protect the wielder from any harmful effect. For the same reason, the wielder would also be protected should the energy ball accidentally explode while still on the atlatl.[8]

Gungan weapon technology had different tools to throw energy balls, at varying range and precision.[7][13] The Gungan catapult had a much greater range than the atlatl and used much bigger energy balls, but it had a much slower firing rate.[8] The cesta, a longer, staff-like version of the atlatl,[1] had a greater range[3][9] but was far less precise[1][3][9] and required two hands to manipulate.[1] As the atlatl was more compact than a cesta, a warrior could wield an atlatl in one hand and protect him- or herself with a personal energy shield in the other hand.[1][2] When not using it, the warrior could attach the atlatl to the belt or the backpack,[1] with the latter being preferred for easier transport.[2]

Another version of the atlatl, the Pocker LJ, could be used to fish. The fisherman aimed with a laser sighting unit that adjusted automatically for the refraction in the water, then prepared a projectile. By turning the handle, a barely visible but very strong line was formed between the fisherman and its fish. The fish could be outright killed while still in the water, or it could be hit in certain areas to leave it defenseless.[14]


The Gungan sentient species, evolved on the planet Naboo, had a military tradition to adopt organic technology to protect its submarine civilization.[15] Through the history of the Army, Gungan foot soldiers were known to carry atlatls, cestas, electropoles,[16][17] and some other cultural weapons, with battle wagons being used to carry the energy balls.[17]

By 33 BBY, the Gungans had not had a war in many years, but they still kept a professional Gungan Grand Army mostly for ornamental purposes, and for protection against natural, aquatic predators.[15] At that point, in the city of Otoh Gunga, the Otoh Gunga Defense League[1] built the so-called Otoh Gunga standard-issue atlatl to be used by the Grand Army. Gungans in the army were trained to use atlatl and cesta in ranged and melee combat. Rumor said that Otoh Gunga had warehouses with enough supplies to provide one atlatl to each of the soldiers—or "Militiagungs"—in the Army.[2]

Gungan warrior

An Otolla Gungan armed with an atlatl and boomas

Around that time, most Gungan warriors carried atlatl and cestas in their patrols. Captain Roos Tarpals was known to carry several traditional Gungan weapons,[11] including a cesta and an electropole.[6] Sergeant Mokem, whose five-Gungan cavalry patrol protected Lianorm Swamp from strangers, carried with him a cesta, an atlatl and an energy shield, while each of his subordinates had to choose between a cesta or an atlatl.[5] Non-military Gungans also had access to atlatls: Several Gungan mystics that ministered the people of Otoh Gunga had atlatls as their weapons of choice.[3]

In 32 BBY, when the Trade Federation invaded Naboo and captured the Human cities, the Gungans patrolled their swamps with their atlatls and cestas ready.[5] Soon afterward, the Gungans allied with the Naboo against the Federation. The Gungan Grand Army gathered in the plains to fight the Federation army, mostly composed of B1 battle droids. Several Gungan officers, including Captain Tarpals[6] and General Jar Jar Binks, were armed with atlatls,[4] as were many of the soldiers.[7] The atlatl's quick firing rate was useless in the conflict due to the weapon's short range.[8] The battle ended when the droid army was unilaterally deactivated.[7]

Later, Gungan General Ceel built a training center on Scrumma Jawbone, an arm of Lake Paonga, for the Militiagungs to train in the use of atlatl, cesta and other Gungan weapons. The center used floating bull's-eyes, bobbing targets and methane gasbags; it was avoided by the local fauna.[1]

In 22 BBY, the Mandalorian bounty hunter Jango Fett trained his clone Boba Fett in the use of ion-burst-powered atlatl for fishing purposes on the planet Kamino.[14]

In 21 BBY, during the Clone Wars, the Gungan Grand Army was sent to help the Mon Calamari against the Confederacy of Independent Systems and its allies on Dac. The Militiagungs used atlatls and other traditional arms in their attack, with the atlatls being effective against the Confederacy-aligned bioweapons called Hydroid Medusas.[18]

Soon afterward, the Gungans allied with the Confederacy and the Militiagungs readied their atlatls and other weapons to attack the Human city Theed on Naboo along with Confederacy battle droids. Just before the battle, the Gungan leadership, having discovered foul play, decided to oppose the Confederacy instead: The Militiagungs deactivated the droids and then attacked the Confederacy commander, General Grievous, using their atlatls as ranged weapons. The atlatls successfully damaged Grievous' cyborg body and, along with other attacks, helped in Grievous' eventual capture during the skirmish.[19]

Behind the scenesEdit

The atlatl first appeared in the movie Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace (1999) as an unnamed prop used by computer-generated Gungan soldiers. The action figure of "Kaadu and Jar Jar Binks" creature set (1999) included a representation of the atlatl that was identified as "Energy Ball Atlatl," giving a name to the item. The later figure "Captain Tarpals & Kaadu" from the Star Wars: Power of the Jedi series (2001), also featuring the item, called it "Atlatl with Energy Ball Hand-Held Weapon."[20]

A real-life atlatl is a tool used for throwing spears farther. This tool has been in existence for over 25,000 years.[21]

Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars Roleplaying Game featured the atlatl with roleplaying game stats in both Star Wars Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook (2000) and the later Secrets of Naboo (2001), but with inconsistencies between the versions: Core Rulebook values the item at 50 credits and considers that the club's damage was of two four-sided dice, or two eight-sided dice when throwing an energy ball.[3] Secrets of Naboo specifically says that atlatls are not sold, reduces its melee damage to one six-sided die and increases its ranged damage to two eight-sided dice plus two,[2] even though fixed modifiers to the damage ("plus two") were supposedly applied only to melee attacks.[22]

The video game Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds features Gungan soldiers using unidentified traditional weapons that might or might not be atlatls. If they could be identified as such, then that would mean that atlatls were in use as early as 3000 BBY.[23][24]



Atlatl WotC

Atlatl with booma

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 The New Essential Guide to Weapons and Technology
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Secrets of Naboo
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 Star Wars Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Star Wars: Episode I toy line
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 WizardsoftheCoast "Peril on Naboo"—Secrets of Naboo
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Databank title Captain Tarpals in the Databank (content now obsolete; backup link)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
  8. 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 The Official Star Wars Fact File 11 (GUN2, Gungan Weapons)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia (atlatl, Gungan)
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Star Wars: Power of the Jedi
  11. 11.0 11.1 Star Wars: Episode I Insider's Guide
  12. Star Wars: Episode I The Visual Dictionary
  13. The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia (Energy ball)
  14. 14.0 14.1 Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones novelization
  15. 15.0 15.1 Databank title Gungan Weaponry in the Databank (content now obsolete; backup link)
  16. The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia (Gungan)
  17. 17.0 17.1 The Essential Guide to Warfare, p. 69
  18. TCW mini logo Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Gungan Attack"
  19. TCW mini logo Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Shadow Warrior"
  20. Rebelscum review of the figure
  21. the World Atlatl Association
  22. Star Wars Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, page 130, "Strength Bonus"
  23. Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
  24. The Essential Atlas
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