- "It is an emptiness, a slice of the universe where there is no light and no heat, but also no cold and no dark. Light moves around it but does not come into its grasp. It doesn't want the light. It wants the Force."
- ―Darth Rivan, on the Darkstaff
The Darkstaff was a powerful, sentient Sith artifact that was one of the most dangerous objects in the galaxy. The staff was created by a member of the Sith Order thousands of years before the Clone Wars and eventually came into the possession of the reconstituted Sith Empire, who placed the relic into storage aboard the space station repository known as the Arcanum. However, around 3638 BBY the artifact was stolen from the facility by the Sith Lord Tagriss, an agent of a group of renegade Sith known as the Dread Masters.
The staff was later transported to the planet Oblis, in the Cularin system, where it fell into the hands of the Oblee species. The staff began to manipulate the Oblee; it summoned a shadow creature, a type of energy-based being that fed on emotions, to the atmosphere of Oblis, and influenced the Oblee into viewing the creature as a threat. The Oblee were determined to use the Darkstaff to power a weapon that would force the shadow creature away from their world, but when they activated the machine, the Darkstaff used the power that it absorbed to destroy Oblis. The remnants of the planet eventually settled to form the Cularin system asteroid belt, and the Darkstaff came to be located within the asteroid I-9. Years afterward, the Sith Lord Darth Rivan was drawn to the Cularin system by the Darkstaff's power, and he sought to gain control of the artifact. During a pivotal battle against the forces of the Jedi Order, Rivan gained possession of the staff and it generated a hyperspace wormhole that transported him hundreds of years into the future, to one of the battles of the Ruusan campaign.
In about 31 BBY, the Force-sensitive criminal Len Markus traveled to I-9 and seized the Darkstaff for himself. However, as Markus departed from the asteroid belt with the artifact, a kilometers-long bolt of Force lightning was fired from Darth Rivan's fortress on the planet Almas, which struck the Darkstaff and created a time vortex that transported the Cularin system ten years into the future. The lightning bolt damaged the staff, so Markus made a deal with the slaver Phylus Mon whereby Mon would repair the artifact. Mon took the staff back to the Cularin system, where the artifact regained some of its strength by feeding on several Force essences that Mon had trapped inside a crystal pyramid. However, the Heroes of Cularin, a group of freelance agents that operated in the Cularin system, boarded Mon's starship and shattered the pyramid before the Darkstaff could fully repair itself.
The Darkstaff returned to Len Markus, who aided the artifact in pursuing its new goal: the destruction of the Cularin system. The staff planned to consume the Force essence of the Eye of the Sun, a Jedi-created artifact that was concealed on the planet Cularin, then use the power that it gained from the Eye to lay waste to the system. After learning the location of the Eye, Markus took the Darkstaff to the ch'hala Heart Tree, where the Jedi artifact was hidden. However, he was confronted by the Heroes of Cularin, and in the ensuing battle, one of the agents channeled the light side of the Force into the Darkstaff and obliterated the Sith artifact, ending the threat that the staff posed to Cularin.
- "Whoever possesses this item—this 'darkstaff'—can, I believe, control the thoughts and actions of any living creature."
- ―Len Markus
The Darkstaff was a powerful, sentient Sith artifact that was one of the most dangerous and unpredictable objects in the galaxy. The rod was brown in colorone meter in length and four centimeters in diameter, and it was crooked at one end, with a blue shining light at the other. Though the staff was created to feed off the Force, the relic was not itself a Force-imbued object. All light that passed near the artifact was consumed by the Darkstaff, which was able to produce black, smoky tendrils that allowed it to suck the Force essences out of living individuals and to drain energy from Force artifacts. However, the staff was unable to consume the Force essences of individuals who freely sacrificed their lives as a result of compassion and love. The staff used the energy that it absorbed to strengthen itself; if it absorbed a large enough quantity of Force energy, it gained the power to destroy an entire planet. For protection, the staff could create an area around itself that was devoid of the Force. It could teleport itself to a different location, although it was unable to transport itself in such a manner when it was located within one kilometer of the Eye of the Sun, an artifact that was imbued with the power of the light side of the Force. The staff was immune to the effects of all Force powers and to all forms of energy damage, including lightsaber attacks.
The staff was able to possess the minds of individuals, which allowed it to use people as vessels through which it could communicate, speaking with a dark, rough-sounding voice. It could control non-sentient creatures, although animals could be released from the Darkstaff's influence by an application of the power Force Light. Furthermore, the staff had the ability to transform creatures into Sithspawn, dark side–influenced mutants, and could be used to animate corpses, to create dark side–using zombies. Cadavers that were exposed to the Darkstaff for extended periods of time were sometimes mutated by the staff's power in a manner that caused them to be strengthened, rather than weakened, when attacked with energy-based weapons.
As a result of an effect designed by the Darkstaff to interfere with the concentration of those around it, beings in the presence of the artifact felt an uncomfortable sensation, as if the air around them were thick, oily, and unpleasant. However, individuals could prevent the staff from affecting them in such a manner by entering a Force-induced trance. The staff had the power to drive those around it into insanity, and could prevent people whom it wounded from using the Force to heal themselves. The staff could imbue those who wielded it with some of the powers of the Sith battlelords, warrior leaders who were connected via the Force to the troops that they commanded. These properties allowed those whom the staff imbued in such a manner to bond themselves via the Force to other individuals, with any wounds inflicted onto the staff bearer being transferred to the bonded individuals, which rendered the staff bearer invulnerable to all attacks while the bonded individuals were still alive. In addition, the artifact's powers prevented anyone who wielded it from being disarmed during combat, and it could also enshroud its bearer in a cloak of shadows that concealed their appearance. In some circumstances, use of the Darkstaff by a Force-sensitive individual resulted in the staff bearer being rendered unable to connect to the Force.
Interaction between the Darkstaff and large amounts of dark side energy sometimes could generate a time vortex capable of causing an entire star system to disappear and travel into the future. As a side effect of such a vortex, shifts in the galaxy's time stream occurred, causing some of the individuals affected by the vortex to develop timeshadows, versions of themselves that existed in an alternate timeline. The Darkstaff could be used to generate a Force storm that was capable of creating a hyperspace wormhole and transporting an individual across time and space to a different location. The staff had the power to alter the area around itself, and if it had access to sufficient amounts of energy, it could remake the part of the galaxy nearest itself into a larger version of the staff. When on a planetary body, the staff could alter the surrounding environment, by infusing the dark side into the area around itself. Byproducts of the Darkstaff's effects sometimes caused the light and dark sides of the Force to struggle against each other in the area adjacent to the staff, which generated a disturbance in the Force and prevented large pieces of technology from working when within the affected area.
- "It wants energy, power. It wants to destroy. It wants to end lives. It wants—and that, by itself, is the most disturbing aspect, the reason that I fear it and desire it and seek to destroy it."
- ―Darth Rivan, on the Darkstaff
The Darkstaff thrived on the suffering of others, and its primary aim was to cause destruction wherever it went. It was ambitious and it wished to gain power, to end lives, to consume energy and in particular, it desired to consume the Force. The staff was deceitful, and it used others to achieve its own ends, preferring to be viewed by those around it as an object of desire that they wanted to use. To achieve that, the artifact played on people's emotions by appealing to their senses of greed and ambition. The Darkstaff always ensured that it was discovered only by those by whom it wished to be found, and when someone wielded it, the staff aimed to warp the mind of its user and used its powers to make it extremely difficult for the artifact to be taken from its owner. The staff tried to keep itself at a safe distance from those who wished to destroy it.
Viewing itself as powerful, the Darkstaff believed that it had the right to choose when to end the lives of sentient beings, considering it acceptable for the strong to make decisions for the weak, because it judged that some beings were never destined to be anything other than slaves. When communicating with sentient beings, the Darkstaff did not like to be interrupted and became angered if someone spoke over it. The Darkstaff did not think of itself as being insane, because it thought that insanity was merely a word invented by weak individuals to explain why the strong held power over them. The staff was unable to comprehend the concepts of compassion and self-sacrifice.
Agent of destruction
- "I now believe it was created by one of my forebears, though the generations that have passed since its creation I cannot count. I also have trouble fathoming why the thing would have ever been made, and I have come to conclude that it was an accident, a byproduct of some strange experiment that could not be undone—and that ultimately was the undoing of its creator."
- ―Darth Rivan, on the Darkstaff
The Darkstaff was created several thousand years before the Clone Wars, by a member of the Sith Order. The staff's creator regretted making the artifact and the Sith Lord Darth Rivan later speculated that the staff was the result of an experiment that had gone wrong. However, the Darkstaff's creator was eventually killed by the artifact before having a chance to unmake the staff, and the Darkstaff subsequently lay dormant for many years.
The Darkstaff went on to destroy entire worlds and kill millions of people. The artifact was eventually recovered by the Sith Empire, who deemed the staff dangerous but too powerful to destroy, so it was placed into storage within the Arcanum, a space station commissioned by the Sith Emperor as a vast storehouse for holding similarly dangerous and powerful artifacts. The staff was cataloged within the repository under ID number 426-609-19752 and contained within a reliquary in the Arcanum's Specimen Storage Complex, and a warning message on a plaque next to the reliquary directed that the artifact was not to be interacted with, either physically or mentally. Around 3638 BBY, the Darkstaff was liberated from the Arcanum when the Sith Lord Tagriss raided the facility on the behalf of the Dread Masters, a group of powerful Sith who had split from the Sith Empire. Penetrating the Arcanum's Specimen Storage Complex, Tagriss found the Darkstaff and removed it from its reliquary, but was pursued by operatives loyal to either the Empire or the Galactic Republic. With the artifact in his hand, Tagriss ascended to the complex's upper levels and used the Darkstaff to free the Dashade Shadow Killer Akriss Veng in order to stall the agents while he fled the station with the relic. Tagriss took the Darkstaff to the Dread Guard Sanctum on Belsavis. The operatives loyal to either the Empire or the Republic traced Tagriss to Belsavis, and when they entered the Sanctum, they encountered Dread Guardsman Varrow, who used the Darkstaff to fight them. While the Darkstaff granted him immunity from many attacks and other powers—the ability to animate stone statues and to resurrect long-dead Sith from the sarcophagi in the chamber—he was unable to control the power of the Darkstaff; midway through the battle it turned on him and drained him of life. After Varrow's death, the Darkstaff vanished into thin air with a fiery explosion.
Sometime afterward, the Darkstaff fell into the possession of a wandering trader, who transported the relic to the planet Oblis in the Cularin system. There, it passed into the hands of the Oblee, the planet's native sentient species. The staff was studied by the scientist-philosophers, the ruling Oblee caste, who recognized that the artifact possessed great power. The Darkstaff planned to destroy Oblis, so it began to manipulate the Oblee, using its energy-draining abilities to draw a shadow creature—a type of energy-based being that fed on emotions—to Oblis. The shadow creature settled into the orbit of Oblis and began to meld itself into the atmosphere of the world, growing in size. As a result of the staff's influence, the Oblee began to view the shadow creature as a threat, and the scientist-philosophers planned to use the Darkstaff to power a weapon that would allow them to send the shadow creature away from their world. The Priests of Nether, an Oblee religious sect, suspected that the Darkstaff was manipulating the Oblee, but despite their concerns, work on the construction of the weapon went ahead.
To power their machine, the scientist-philosophers created three focusing crystals and placed them at strategic locations around Oblis; the Oblee all channeled their hopes and fears into the crystals. The species situated their weapon inside a great hall on top of a mountain; there, a scientist-philosopher inserted the Darkstaff and one of the focusing crystals into a covered tray at the side of the machine, then activated the device. The Darkstaff immediately absorbed energy from the three crystals and created a blue-colored energy beam that burst through the ceiling of the hall and struck the shadow creature, hurling the being away from the system. However, the Darkstaff triggered a chain reaction that caused Oblis to explode seconds later. The Darkstaff and the focusing crystals were left unharmed by the cataclysm, while the Oblee were transformed into incorporeal beings that became known as "shadow lurkers," trapped in a shadowy realm that was created when the staff destroyed their world. The Darkstaff continued to draw power from the shadow lurkers via the three focusing crystals, which forced the lurkers to take in energy from anything that they could reach in order to prevent themselves from being completely absorbed by the artifact.
The remains of Oblis formed into the Cularin system asteroid belt, and the Darkstaff eventually came to be located within a chamber inside the asteroid I-9. The shadow lurkers made it their mission to hide the Darkstaff away, to protect the galaxy from the artifact, so they put in place six shadowy entrances to the chamber containing the staff, only one of which led to the staff itself. As a further defense, the disembodied Oblee installed incorporeal guardians inside the staff's chamber, which were tasked with challenging anyone who attempted to take the staff. At some point, a creature entered the staff's chamber and had its life sucked out by the Darkstaff, and over time the long exposure of the creature's remains to the Darkstaff mutated them, so that they became stronger when hit by energy weapons. The dark side of the Force sought to destroy the Darkstaff and began gathering on I-9, so the staff created a void in the Force around itself as a defense. Unable to enter the staff's chamber, the dark side built up its strength and waited outside the room for years, biding its time.
Bane of Darth Rivan
- "I could not wield it. I would not. It would not make me more powerful; it would destroy me. And so, I want it gone, erased from the galaxy. Nothing that has the power to destroy me should be allowed to continue to exist, no matter how sweet the promises it makes, no matter how dark the night would be if I held it. It must be destroyed."
- ―Darth Rivan, on the Darkstaff
At some point between 1417 BBY and 1167 BBY, during the New Sith Wars, the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Rivan learned of the existence of the Darkstaff. The Sith Lord desired the artifact and was drawn to the Cularin system by the Darkstaff's power, going so far as to construct a fortress on Almas, the system's fifth planet. However, Rivan soon learned that the staff had the power to destroy him, and he became determined to nullify the artifact and eliminate the threat that it posed. However, he refused to directly search for the staff, because he believed that it planned to use him to help it leave the sector and that its release would cause great damage to the galaxy. The Sith Lord experienced dreams in which he utilized the Darkstaff for his own ends and to suck the Force out of his enemies, but he chose not to act upon these visions, believing that they were caused by the Darkstaff itself. Instead, he recorded his thoughts on the nature of the object in his personal journals and worked with a holocron to search for information that would allow him to better understand the staff.
During a pivotal battle in the Cularin system against forces led by members of the Jedi Order, Rivan finally gained possession of the Darkstaff. However, the artifact created a Force storm, which generated a hyperspace wormhole and eliminated Rivan's army of Sith battlelords. Caught in the eye of the storm, Rivan was transported hundreds of years into the future to one of the battles of the Ruusan campaign, a series of engagements that were fought on the planet Ruusan at the end of the New Sith Wars. The effects of the Darkstaff left Rivan bereft of the Force; in his weakened state, he was slain during the battle. The Darkstaff itself remained in the Cularin system, and at the same time the Ruusan campaign was being fought, a group of Jedi Masters created a Force-imbued artifact known as the Eye of the Sun on the planet Cularin. The Eye had the power to shield Force users from detection. Such properties concealed the Darkstaff, preventing the Sith artifact from being sensed from outside the Cularin system. It acted as a light side counterpoint to the Darkstaff, preventing the staff from sucking the life from all living things in the Cularin system. The Jedi Order eventually recorded everything that they could ascertain about the Darkstaff in the Jedi Archives, but they knew little about the history and location of the artifact.
- "Translations of glyphs throughout the Belt reference what I believe is, roughly, 'the darkstaff.' It sounds like an object of great power."
- ―Len Markus
Nearly a thousand years after the Ruusan campaign, during the waning years of the Galactic Republic, the Force-sensitive criminal Len Markus stumbled across a record that made reference to the Darkstaff, and he became determined to locate the artifact. Markus followed a trail of evidence that allowed him to track the staff to the Cularin system, but once there, he was unable to pinpoint the artifact's exact location. He settled in the system, became an associate of the Oblee crime lord Nirama, and spent several years fruitlessly searching for the Darkstaff. Markus' fortunes changed when he came into contact with the renowned information broker Sot-sirc, who traveled to the Cularin system and helped Markus research the artifact.
Over a period of several months, Markus studied inscriptions located in the Cularin system asteroid belt, and circa 31 BBY, he deduced that the artifact was located on I-9. However, Markus' research was flawed as a result of errors in his translation of the inscriptions, which gave him the impression that the Darkstaff granted its wielder the power to affect the minds of other individuals, even those with a natural resistance to such Force-based influences; in fact the inscriptions actually referred to the staff's ability to warp and destroy the minds of those around it.
Markus planned to retrieve the Darkstaff from the asteroid belt and then to use it to supplant Nirama's control of organized crime in the Cularin system. Markus covertly set out for I-9, and he summoned a number of members of the Red Fury Brotherhood, a local pirate group, to meet him on the asteroid and assist him in his search. On arrival, the pirates soon were driven insane by the power of the Darkstaff, but Markus was able to make his way into the heart of the asteroid. There, he seized the artifact, which allowed itself to be taken by him. However, Nirama suspected that Markus was plotting to betray him, so the crime lord hired the Heroes of Cularin, a group of freelance agents who operated in the Cularin system, to find Markus. The agents tracked Markus to I-9, and they arrived on the asteroid shortly after the Force-sensitive had taken the Darkstaff. Markus boarded his personal starship with the artifact and contacted the freelancers via a holoprojection, showing them the Darkstaff, while taunting them and claiming that his possession of the artifact made him the most powerful person in the universe.
Shortly afterward, Markus departed the asteroid field and flew his starship toward Almas. However, the dark side of Force still wanted to destroy the staff; in an attempt to obliterate the artifact, it fired a burst of dark side energy out of Darth Rivan's fortress on Almas, generating a kilometers-long bolt of Force lightning that emerged from the fortress and struck the Darkstaff. The bolt cracked the Darkstaff, weakening the Sith artifact, and the interaction between the staff and the dark side energy created a time vortex that engulfed the entire Cularin system. The event forced the system to disappear and to transport ten years into the future to about 21 BBY. The upheaval destroyed Markus' starship and removed Markus and the Darkstaff from the Cularin system.
The Darkstaff possessed Markus. Under its influence, he rose through the ranks of the Believers—a Sith cult that Markus had founded in the Cularin system many years earlier—and eventually became their leader. At some point after the Cularin system's re-emergence, the Heroes of Cularin prevented the Believers from dispersing a deadly virus on the planet Caarimon, and a celebration was held on Dorumaa, the moon of Almas, to commend the agents' actions. During the festivities, a fallacious rumor circulated among attendees that a member of the Tarasin, a sentient species that lived on Cularin, had discovered the Darkstaff and was planning to use it to kill all of Cularin's non-Tarasin residents. Around the same time, a team of Jedi researchers discovered some of Darth Rivan's journals inside the Sith fortress on Almas and published on the HoloNet a section of the tomes that detailed Rivan's thoughts on the Darkstaff.
The Heroes of Cularin eventually returned to the Cularin system asteroid belt and interacted with the shadow lurkers. The lurkers feared that their spirits would soon be fully absorbed by the Darkstaff, and that once they were gone, the focusing crystals installed by the scientist-philosophers would funnel the Force essences of all life in the asteroid belt into the Darkstaff. Thus the phantom Oblee urged the agents to destroy the three focusing crystals. Via its connection to the shadow lurkers, the Darkstaff learned of the freelance operatives' plans and urged Len Markus to take action to protect the crystals. At the staff's behest, Markus dispatched a group of Believers to go to the asteroid belt and stop the operatives from destroying the crystals. However, the Heroes of Cularin defeated the Believers and shattered the focusing crystals, which destroyed the Darkstaff's connection to the shadow lurkers and caused the Oblee to be resurrected to their physical form.
Phylus Mon's repair attempt
- "Mortal life is fleeting. Ignore your foolish notions. Leave my ship now."
- ―Alianda, while possessed by the Darkstaff, to the Heroes of Cularin
To repair the damage that was inflicted on the Darkstaff when it was struck by the bolt of Force lightning from the Sith fortress, in around 20 BBY Markus made a deal with the Chevin slaver Phylus Mon. Markus granted Mon access to the Almas fortress, and the slaver planned to travel to the Sith stronghold and search for the secrets of the creation of Sith battlelords, then use the battlelord rituals to manipulate the Force essences of some living beings to allow the Darkstaff to feed off the essences and use them to regain its strength. Markus gave the staff to Mon, and the Chevin traveled with it to the Cularin system aboard the Animiasma, his personal starship. Accompanied by a group of his slave servants and his ally, the Human Dark Jedi Karae Nalvas, Mon overcame the Sith fortress' Jedi guards and headed into the depths of the facility.
The spirit of Darth Rivan's apprentice Darsin was angered by Mon's possession of the Darkstaff and harried the slaver's entourage, but Mon used the staff to ward the spirit away. After discovering a tome that detailed the steps involved in the creation of Sith battlelords, Mon placed the Darkstaff on a stone altar and performed the battlelord rituals, attempting to bind four of his slaves and two captive Jedi to himself and Nalvas via the Force. However, the ritual was unsuccessful due to the Darkstaff's presence; instead, the staff melted the altar and caused the Force essences of Nalvas, the slaves, and the Jedi to be ripped from their bodies and transferred into a large crystal pyramid. The Darkstaff then began to feed from the Force essences trapped inside the crystal and used them to strengthen itself.
Mon and his slaves returned to the Animiasma with the Darkstaff and the crystal, and he hid the ship deep inside the Cularin system's asteroid belt. As the staff increased in strength, it slowly began taking over the area around the vessel, draining energy from a cylindrical region surrounding the ship that gradually began to be transformed into a larger version of the artifact. In a move that the staff had not predicted, the Heroes of Cularin and the Jedi Oden Malksch boarded the Animiasma, seeking to destroy the Darkstaff and free the Force essences that were trapped inside the crystal pyramid. To delay the agents from reaching the part of the ship in which the staff was located, the artifact manipulated the ship's environment and crew to lure the freelancers into entering a part of the vessel that contained Phylus Mon's private zoo, a collection of unusual sentient beings that the slaver had captured. As the agents progressed through the zoo, the staff made a further attempt to neutralize the threat they posed to it by possessing the Human Alianda, a slave of Phylus Mon. Through her it spoke with the freelance agents, offering to give them anything that they desired if they relented their assault and vowing to destroy them if they did not cease their attack. The Darkstaff then withdrew itself from Alianda, teleported away from the Animiasma, and continued to draw strength from the trapped Force essences. Phylus Mon frantically searched for the artifact but was accosted by the Heroes of Cularin. The agents destroyed the pyramid and freed the Force essences contained within it, which prevented the Darkstaff from using the essences to fully repair itself.
Showdown at the Heart Tree
- "Events were beginning to unfold in Cularin that required I remove myself from them, to research them more thoroughly. I knew Markus was returning with his "darkstaff," and I knew that I must do my part to stop him from doing the will of that thing. It must be destroyed."
- ―Nirama, to the Heroes of Cularin
Len Markus re-gained possession of the staff, and in about 19 BBY, he returned to the Cularin system with it. By that time, Markus had been driven insane by the staff, but he still had delusions that he was in control of the artifact, and he moved around as if in a dream, doing the staff's bidding and moving closer to the artifact's new goal: the destruction of the Cularin system. To achieve that end, the Darkstaff planned to locate the Eye of the Sun and consume the Jedi-created artifact's Force essence, the power of which would make the staff the most powerful object in the galaxy. The staff could then use the energy it had taken from the Eye to cause the planet Cularin to explode, with the detonation hurling the system's other planetary bodies into Cularin's two suns and causing the Darkstaff to spin out into space to wait to be rediscovered again. The artifact did not share with Markus the full extent of its plans and instead, it led him to believe that it wished to use the power of the Eye of the Sun to suck out the Force essences of all life on Cularin. The Darkstaff imbued Markus with some of the powers of a Sith battlelord, allowing a Force bond to be created between Markus and his Gamorrean servant Kluuus.
Shortly after his return to the system, Markus met with a group of Believers while holding the staff, and he tasked the cultists with attacking a conference on Cularin that was to be attended by the system's leaders. Later, the staff was used by an enshrouded being in a raid on the Five Masters Academy, a martial arts school on Cularin that was affiliated with the Wookiee Liberation Front. Using the staff to project a cloak of shadow around itself, the assailant attacked the Academy's students and instructors, and the staff massacred them by draining their life forces. Soon, only the Master in Violet, a Zabrak adept of the martial art K'thri, was left alive, and she used a songsteel staff to parry her assailant's attempts to strike her with the Sith artifact. However, Barnab Chistor, a pupil of the Academy who had been absent during the early stages of the incursion, ambushed the shadowy being and fired an experimental weapon at it. Wounded, the assailant was forced to retreat, and it used the Darkstaff to resurrect the corpses of the deceased students and set them upon Chistor and the Master in Violet.
Suspecting the return of Markus and the Darkstaff, Nirama searched for a way to destroy the Sith artifact. He discovered that the Twi'lek academic Klide was close to discovering the location of the Eye of the Sun, and the Oblee came to believe that the Eye could be used to vanquish the staff. Nirama lacked the capacity to take action against the artifact on his own, so he hid himself in his former base, inside the Cularin system asteroid belt, and sent out a message to the Heroes of Cularin requesting that they come to Red Sector to help him strike against the staff. However, Len Markus intercepted the transmissions and headed for Red Sector with the Darkstaff and a team of mercenaries. He captured Nirama and communicated with the Heroes of Cularin via a holographic transmission, the agents having traveled to the base in response to Nirama's summons. During the conversation, the staff caused Markus to openly flaunt his insanity, as a demonstration to the agents of the extent to which it controlled the man.
After stealing the coordinates of the Eye of the Sun from Klide, Markus journeyed into the jungles of Cularin with the Darkstaff and some mercenaries to the Eye's hiding place near the Heart Tree, a large plant that was at the center of an interconnected network of ch'hala trees that grew all across Cularin. En route, the staff made Markus use the artifact to transform a group of Mulissiki, local non-sentient reptilian scavengers, into Sithspawn, granting them the ability to shoot acid or lightning from their mouths so as to kill or weaken anyone who pursued Markus. The Force Adepts San Herrera and Nia Reston sighted Markus and trailed him, hoping to capture him to protect Cularin from his deprivations. However, Markus attacked them and used the Darkstaff to suck out their Force essences and transform their mummified corpses into dark side–wielding zombies, which he left behind to attack any pursuers who made it past the mutated Mulissiki.
On arrival at the Heart Tree, the Darkstaff sensed the Eye of the Sun's presence, and Markus ordered his mercenaries to start digging around the tree to search for the Jedi artifact. The Darkstaff twisted the jungle surrounding the tree by infusing it with the dark side of the Force, hoping to overwhelm the tree and stop it from shielding the Eye's location. The artifact's exertions caused a disturbance in the Force in the surrounding region, an anomaly that made the air crackle and prevented large pieces of technology from working near to the tree.
The Heroes of Cularin traveled to the Heart Tree and confronted Markus, aiming to thwart the Darkstaff's plot. Markus immediately used the staff to summon twelve Kilassin, large, non-sentient lizards that were native to Cularin, to fight for him, then engaged the freelance operatives in combat. Feeling petulant, the staff decided to deny Markus the ability to use the Force to heal himself during the fight. Markus used the Darkstaff to deflect the operatives' attacks, and he attempted to use the artifact to drain their Force essences. However, the agents defeated Markus' mercenaries, and the Heart Tree summoned a gigantic Kilassin to aid Markus' opponents, countering the imbalance that had been created when the Darkstaff had summoned the lesser Kilassin. At the battle's climax, one of the freelancers volunteered to be struck by the Darkstaff, which allowed the individual to channel the light side of the Force into the artifact and attempt to nullify the staff. The Darkstaff panicked and ordered Markus to get it away from the agent. Markus did his best to break the individual's hold on the artifact but failed; through the agent's willful self-sacrifice, the Darkstaff was obliterated. As the artifact was destroyed, the jungle around the Heart Tree shook, and a loud cracking sound ripped through the air, while the agent became one with the Force, the individual's body disappearing to leave behind only clothes and equipment. The artifact's demise permanently severed Markus from the Force and the hand in which he had been clutching the staff was reduced to a mass of blackened flesh.
The leaders of some nearby Tarasin tribal groups sensed the staff's destruction through the Force and held a celebration next to the Heart Tree to celebrate the artifact's demise. However, the Tarasin Dariana suspected that the annihilation of the staff would bring unwanted attention to Cularin, so she began making plans to hide away the children of her species.
Behind the scenes
The Darkstaff was created by Morrie Mullins and Christina Nichols in 2002 for Philology, the third adventure in the Below the Belt trilogy of the Living Force campaign, a supplement to the Wizards of the Coast Star Wars Roleplaying Game. In Philology, the staff caused the Cularin system to disappear for ten years, serving as a plot element that allowed the setting of Living Force campaign to be moved from the time period of the film Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace to the time period of the film Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones. The fates of Len Markus and the Darkstaff went on to become a recurring theme in the campaign, and the artifact's origins and history were further developed in 2003, in the Living Force module Recursion and the Wizards.com article The Darkstaff. In 2006, the staff appeared in The Hand and The Eye, by Morrie Mullins and Jae Walker, the last two adventures in the Living Force campaign, which portrayed the Darkstaff's fate. The staff later received an entry in the 2008 compendium The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, and it was mentioned in the 2009 sourcebook The Clone Wars Campaign Guide. The staff later went on to appear in the 2013 game Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Hutt Cartel, an expansion pack to the MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic which became the first source to provide a visual depiction of the artifact.
Sources are inconsistent with regard to the capitalization of the term "Darkstaff"; some such as Philology, Recursion and The Eye, spell it "darkstaff," while others, such as No Place Like Home, Echoes of the Jedi and Living Force: Last Stand spell it "Darkstaff." As both The Complete Star Wars Encylopedia and The Clone Wars Campaign Guide, the two most recently published sources in which the staff is mentioned, both spell its name as "Darkstaff," this article assumes that that is the correct capitalization of the term.
There are a number of inconsistencies regarding the Darkstaff in The Eye, one of which relates to a passage of the adventure that recounts some events from Philology in which a skeletal creature was reanimated on the asteroid I-9. Philology states that there was only one such creature and that, while the creature had been infused by the power of the Darkstaff, the creature's remains were reanimated by spirits put in place by the shadow lurkers, not by the staff. However, The Eye mistakenly states that in Philology the player characters encountered multiple skeletal creatures and that the creatures were re-animated by the Darkstaff itself. Due to the fact that The Eye retells the events from an out-of-universe perspective, recapping what happened to the player characters during Philology, this article therefore assumes that the events as described in The Eye are in error.
The Eye includes another discrepancy, in relation to the Eye of the Sun. The adventure states that the Eye of the Sun was created concurrently with the Battle of Ruusan and completed two years after the battle, and that when Darth Rivan first arrived in the Cularin system, he was able to sense the Darkstaff through the Eye's shielding effect. However, it had previously been established in the Wizards.com article The Sith Fortress that Rivan had died during the Battle of Ruusan, a fact that was confirmed in the roleplaying adventure Echoes of the Jedi. Therefore, Rivan must have arrived in the Cularin system before the Battle of Ruusan and before the creation of the Eye, so this article assumes that the Eye of the Sun was not shielding the Darkstaff at the time of Rivan's arrival. A third inconsistency in The Eye relates to the diameter of the Darkstaff; while the article The Darkstaff established that the staff was 4 cm in diameter, The Eye claims that the staff has a diameter of 6 cm. The entry for the Darkstaff The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia supports the former measurement, so this article assumes that the staff was 4 cm in diameter.
The appearance of the staff in Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Hutt Cartel introduced an additional discrepancy regarding the staff's color. Whereas the artifact is consistently described within the Living Force campaign as being black in color the game depicts the staff as being brown-colored. This article describes the staff as it is portrayed in Star Wars: The Old Republic.
The players of the Living Force campaign roleplay as the Heroes of Cularin, and during the adventures in which the Darkstaff appears, their choices can influence the actions of the staff. In Philology, the species of the skeletal creature that has been infused by the power of the Darkstaff varies depending upon the roleplaying experience tier of the player characters; for characters in the lower tier, the creature is a massiff, for player characters in the medium experience tier, the creature is a nexu, and for players in the upper tier, the creature is a gundark. Due to these different possibilities, the "History" section of this article does not specify the exact variety of creature that the staff empowered.
In the adventure Recursion, the player characters have a number of choices regarding what they do with the focusing crystals that link the disembodied Oblee to the Darkstaff. The players can opt to call upon the dark side and use the Force to allow the staff to absorb the spirits of the Oblee; alternatively, they can either allow the Oblee to transform into the Force or be resurrected into their physical form, severing the Oblee's connection to the Darkstaff. However, the Wizards.com article The Oblee confirms that the spirits of the Oblee were given physical form by players, thus making that the canonical outcome.
During A Mon Alone, when the Darkstaff speaks to the Heroes of Cularin through the possessed slave Alianda, the staff offers to give any character that leaves the Animiasma their heart's desire. If a player attempts to comply with the staff's request, the Darkstaff does not fulfill its promise and instead incapacitates the individual. The adventure advises that the gamemaster, the person directing the roleplaying adventure, portray the staff with a voice similar to that of James Earl Jones, the actor who voiced the character Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy.
In The Eye, when the player characters confront Len Markus at the Heart Tree, it is possible for Markus to attempt to use the staff to turn the giant Kilassin into Sithspawn, although if he tries this, he does not succeed. It is possible for the staff to drain the life out of some of the player characters. Either one or several of the player characters then destroy the Darkstaff by channeling the light side of the Force into the artifact, and if Len Markus is still alive when the artifact is vanquished, the staff's destruction causes him to be permanently cut off from the Force.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Hutt Cartel (First pictured)
- Philology (First appearance) (Appears in hologram)
- No Place Like Home (Mentioned only)
- Open Aarms (Mentioned only)
- Paarty On! (Mentioned only)
- Excursion (Mentioned only)
- Recursion (Vision)
- (Mentioned only)
- A Mon Alone
- (Indirect mention only)
- (Mentioned only)
- A Hero Seeks Not Vengeance (Mentioned only)
- (Mentioned only)
- (Mentioned only)
- The Heart (Mentioned only)
- The Hand
- The Eye
- (Mentioned only)
Notes and references