- "The Basilisk war droid is the epitome of weapon technology. State of the art weaponry, armor, and maneuverability."
When the Mandalorians conquered the Basiliskan homeworld, Basilisk, around 3,997 BBY and subjugated the intelligent Basiliskans into simple-minded Lagartoz War Dragons, they also seized the designs of the droids and continued to manufacture them. The droids gained infamy during the Mandalorian Wars, when Mandalorians using the droids as mounts terrorized a large swath of the Galactic Republic.
The original Basilisk was a large animal-like droid created by the Basiliskans in their own image, though outside commentators would remark that it resembled a combination of a Zalorian rock lion and a Karren beetle. When the Mandalorians began producing them, they included a dorsal control mechanism with which a mounted rider could control the droid in battle. Despite this, the droids retained a large amount of artificial intelligence. It was said that a Mandalorian and its Basilisk shared a common bond, almost like a friendship. If the droid was destroyed in battle, its pilot would give it a warrior's funeral before sending it into a star. Mandalorian tinkering eventually spawned countless customized variants of the droid, some departing dramatically from the original design. Later versions included closed cockpits, larger wings that served as S-foils, and the virtual elimination of animal-like features, giving the droid an appearance closer to that of a starship.
- "The doors opened in front of me and the air was sucked out of the drop bay, scattering crystals of frozen vapor across my path. I can't describe what it feels like to look directly down at a world, falling continuously as you circle it, with barely fifteen centimeters of armor plate protecting you. When the magnetic locks disengaged on my droid I plunged out of the drop bay towards the battle that waited below."
- ―Canderous Ordo, to Revan
The Basilisk war droid could operate in both atmosphere and vacuum, and readily participated in fleet engagements. Space combat would require a Mandalorian rider to wear a pressurized suit into battle. If the tide turned and help was needed planetside, the droid could even plunge down from orbit to participate in ground battles. It was armed with Pulse-wave cannons, shatter-missile launchers, shockwave generating rods, which released a devastating plasma burst that could puncture starship hulls, and heavy brawling claws, though some variations omitted the heavier weaponry in favor of performance. The pilot could even secure his own weapons to the droid, such as Mandalorian flash pistols or axes in sealed compartments. When attacking large space installations or garrisons, two Basilisks often towed an atomic compression bomb between them and catapulted it into their target.
After the Jedi Civil War, Canderous Ordo's Mandalorians on Dxun used a modified Basilisk capable of holding three people. During the Second Battle of Onderon, such a vehicle was used to bring the Jedi Exile from Dxun to Iziz, the capital of Onderon, much to the fear of the locals (and the armies of both the Royalist-Republicans and the Vakluist Separatists), having seen this droid in action many times during the recent war with Mandalorians.
Chop'aa Notimo used a Basilisk on Cloud City when confronted by Galen Marek in 2 BBY. During the Galactic Civil War, the Basilisk, especially later derivations, influenced MandalMotors' StarViper-class attack platform design, and in 40 ABY, a new Mandalorian starfighter was named the Bes'uliik-class Assault Starfighter in honor of the ancient war-droid mounts.
Behind the scenes
There is a discrepancy between the Basilisk Canderous describes in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and the actual appearance of the vehicle in the sequel. Canderous indicates that the vehicle is a small, open-aired mount, whereas its sequel portrays a closed fighter, looking remarkably like Prince Xizor's Virago. This was a conscious decision by the developers, who attempted to bring the more "ancient" look of the comics to the more modern, plausible, look of the movies. However, both designs are canon, and references have subsequently been made to the older version, so this difference may have been implicitly retconned as a difference between varying models of the war droid type.
Dustin Weaver, the artist of Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic: Flashpoint seems to have made an effort to reconcile the design variations, depicting Basilisks with both the body of the traditional mount-type droid and the wings and details of the Virago-like KotOR II design.
There is also some ambiguity about the origins of the war-droid's name: when first introduced in Tales of the Jedi: The Sith War, the name was given with no explanation, and might be presumed to be a reference to the basilisk of real-world myth; in The History of the Mandalorians, Abel G. Peña implied that it was connected to the name of the planet Basilisk and its Basiliskan inhabitants, whereas Karen Traviss, in developing the Mando'a language, made it a calque on the term bes'uliik, which means something like "iron steed" or "iron beast" in the native language of the Mandalorians. There is, as yet, no canonical explanation of the apparent homonymy of the name of the planet and the Mando'a term, though various solutions are possible.
- Tales of the Jedi: The Sith War (First appearance)
- Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic: Flashpoint
- The Taris Holofeed: Invasion Edition (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 22: Knights of Suffering, Part 1
- Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 24: Knights of Suffering, Part 3
- Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 28: Vector, Part 4
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (video game)
- Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption (Mentioned only)
- Sacrifice (Mentioned only)
- Revelation (Indirect mention only)