- "When a Gotal gets closer to its intended target, he can sense the animal's electromagnetic aura…These same sensory abilities have made Gotal some of the most sought after hunters in the galaxy."
- ―Voren Na'al
Gotals were a species of tall, hairy humanoid sentients native to the moon Antar 4. Their most distinctive features were the twin conical horns growing on the top of their heads, which acted as highly responsive electromagnetic sensors. These head cones were sensitive enough to pick up subtle changes in another being's electromagnetic emissions from emotional changes, making Gotals natural empaths. The unique nature of these sensors shaped Gotal culture, and helped individual Gotals carve niches in galactic society ranging from bounty hunters to diplomats, the former making a large use of thermite grenades.
Gotals were part of galactic society as far back as the early days of the Galactic Republic. During this time, Gotals served the Republic as Jedi and as Antarian Rangers. In the Republic's later years, however, their relations with other cultures became troubled. Conflicts such as the Duinuogwuin-Gotal conflict and the Separatist Crisis resulted in the Gotals taking the losing side in the Clone Wars. Distrusted by and distrusting of the Galactic Empire, the Gotals returned to the mainstream as part of the New Republic and later, the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances.
Biology and appearance
Gotals possessed cranial horns as receptors to sense electromagnetism and other energy emissions. These nerve-ending filled cones could sense the natural electromagnetic fields produced by Antar, Prindaar, and Antar 4's magnetite-rich crust, allowing the species to operate even in total darkness. Their senses also picked up the electromagnetic auras from other life forms. Gotal hunters could sense their quarry from up to ten kilometers away, and could track herds of quivry for weeks. While hunting, a Gotal could determine the amount, species type, and level of sickness of animals by relying on their cones alone. When close to their target, they could ascertain information on its mood, awareness, and state of mind. As such, Gotals numbered among the most sought-after hunters in the galaxy.
Gotal cones could detect another being's emotional state and intentions. Gotal horns were even sensitive enough to pick up such indistinct signals as neutrino emissions. Electronic devices could also be sensed by Gotals: in fact, most droids gave off enough electromagnetic emissions to at least annoy a Gotal, and at worst to seriously disorient the horned beings. Consequently, the species was notoriously distrustful of droids. Gotals relied heavily on their cones, with their eyesight and hearing being quite weak, and their sense of smell almost completely absent.
At least some Gotals were able to sense the Force with their cones. Nevertheless, standard reference works such as the Catalog of Intelligent Life in the Galaxy were silent on the subject, and the writings of Mammon Hoole described this as a rumor which had "yet to be proven." Other sources indicated that both the Jedi Order and the Galactic Empire had conducted inconclusive research which attempted to train Gotals to sense the Force. The records of the Gotals themselves were split on the issue. Those sources which did describe Gotals sensing the Force varied in their descriptions. Some sources described it as an intense, overwhelming sensation, while others treated it as a mere "indistinct buzzing." At least one Jedi Knight, Luke Skywalker, believed that sensing the Force could cause Gotals headaches. Any ability to sense the use of the Force with their cones did not hinder Gotals who were Force-sensitive in the conventional sense from learning to use the Force, however.
Gotals had flat, elongated faces with reddish, heavy-lidded eyes, small, flat noses, and a wide, downturned mouth full of blunt, yellow or white teeth. Their eyes varied in color, with individuals sporting shades of red, orange, yellow, gray, green, and black. Coarse, shaggy fur covered most of their bodies with the exception of the face, chest, and abdomen. Gotals were classified as mammals. Their overall body plan was humanoid, with proportions generally similar to Humans. Some Gotals had four fingers and a thumb with short, conical claws on each digit; others had only four or three digits per limb with much longer claws making up a large portion of each finger. Their skin color varied from gray-brown to black, and their fur came in white or shades of brown or gray. While male Gotals typically had a thick fringe of hair around their cheeks and chins, this was absent in female Gotals. Gotals shed their fur and most Gotals learned to control this process. Under extreme stress or nerves, however—as when surprised or frightened—Gotals could lose control of this process and begin shedding large clumps of fur. Gotals' natural body odor was similar to the smell of mildew and old sweat. Gotals were resistant to the venom produced by members of the Killik species.
Society and culture
Head cones in Gotal culture
- "Head cones are marvels of the universe. Through their sensory vibrations I can track anyone down. Now I know, and every Gotal knows, that the size of the cones doesn't affect one's prowess, but on Antar IV, where I come from, those cursed with undeveloped cones frequently resort to falsies. (chuckles) It's sad, but true."
- ―Feltipern Trevagg
- "Potion, sir. Love potion for your lady friend? Go from friends to lovers before you can say 'space'."
"Why, madam, with cones like these, what do I need with your chemical elixirs?"
- ―Female vendor and Feltipern Trevagg
Horns were the primary physical feature Gotals found attractive in one another. In fact, while smaller cones could be just as energy sensitive as large ones, small-horned Gotals frequently enhanced their appearance with larger false cones. Some Gotals became romantically attached to non-Gotals, but they only seemed to be sexually attracted to other creatures with cones or horns on their heads.
In addition to sensing energy emissions in their environment and the presence of their prey animals, Gotals used their cones to monitor subtle changes in one another's electromagnetic auras. This ability to quickly and easily judge another Gotal's emotional state was fundamental to their culture. For example, Gotals were able to avoid angry members of their species, share in the joy of happy ones, and seek out depressed ones to cheer them up. Gotal communities were considered among the most harmonious civilizations in the galaxy. They had difficulty interpreting the emotions of other alien species, however, often mistaking basic emotions such as affection or anger for extremes such as love and murderous intent. Sufficient exposure to the galactic community could help them overcome this, however.
Gotals formed intense bonds with one another upon first meeting, and love at first "sight" was the norm among Gotals, whose empathic nature made the elaborate courtship rituals of other sentients unnecessary. Gotal would mate for life, and would bear young as soon as their lifestyles permitted it. Gotals only spoke to each other to relay abstract information, since they had no need to vocally express their emotions (ironically, since Gotals spoke in a non-inflected monotone, they seemed emotionless to Humans and other non-Gotals.)
Young Gotals often had trouble assimilating the information arriving from their cones, and were in a constant state of agitated confusion until they learned to filter unwanted signals after about one standard year. Even then, it took them until the age of twelve to attain emotional maturity, and they could sometimes be nearly psychotic until then. Despite this, Gotal parents were devoted to their children, and young Gotals would have children as soon as they could manage it. Mature Gotals were generally calm and peaceful individuals.
Gotal sensory cones allowed them to keep their emotions to themselves. They tended to keep a calm and restrained demeanor when dealing with others, speaking of emotions only abstractly. This led some non-Gotals to assume the species lacked emotion entirely, and many species to be uncomfortable around and mistrustful of Gotals. Some felt that they were at a disadvantage when dealing with Gotals and their sensitive head cones, and other, more superstitious species, were wary of what they saw as the Gotals' supernatural powers. Nevertheless, the quirks of Gotals made them effective diplomats, mediators, businesspeople, and gamblers. Unless they sensed evil intentions, Gotals were generally diplomatic and polite when interacting with members of other species.
The ruthless Imperial era financier Sarlim Gastess was among the few Gotals whose cones were non-functional. Perhaps because of his inability to sense emotions, this "blind" Gotal was a fearsome psychopath by his people's standards.
According to Gotal myth, their head cones could detect evil.
Government and society
- "The Gotals have developed one of the few societies which exists in peaceful anarchy."
- ―Obo Rin
Since their natural empathy made them instantly sensitive to the feelings of others, Gotals had little use for government or laws on their homeworld. This resulted in problems when dealing with non-Gotal societies. For example, no central authority figure could speak for Antar 4 as a whole in a crisis, and no organized Gotal military or police force could act on their behalf. The Gotal Foreign Affairs Commune, a group which existed circa 22 BBY, did act as spokespeople for the Gotals during diplomatic crises, but their role in Gotal government is otherwise uncertain. Though they had little government of their own, Gotals did send representatives to participate in galactic-level governments, and Gotals living among non-Gotals even worked in local government bureaucracies. Other species respected the Gotals for their discretion and restraint, but some individuals feared interacting with the horned beings for fear of having their emotional state revealed to others.
The Gotals spoke both Basic and Gotal, their native tongue. This language lacked vocabulary to express emotional states, and even their version of Basic avoided such terms and context. Some Gotals spoke Basic with a bleating cadence. Non-Gotals were incapable of mastering Gotal because so much of the language relied on unspoken cues sensed with head cones. Gotal naming customs varied. While many Gotals had a first name and a second name, such as Abav Ghart, Kith Kark, Mnor Nha, and Pari Not-goth, others went by single names like Lishma and Tuuve. Other Gotals used names such as To-yel or Mahk'khar, which may have been either single names or a first and second name joined together as one word. At least one Gotal, Toalar Yalom Yalom, was known by a three-part name.
The Gotal species evolved on Antar 4, the mineral-rich fourth moon of the gas giant Antar in the Prindaar system. As the moon of a gas giant, Antar 4 was a world with a complex day/night cycle. Sometimes, one side of Antar 4 would be illuminated by the sun Prindaar, while the other received almost the same amount of light from the highly reflective surface of the gas giant Antar. At other times, Antar would block all sunlight to both hemispheres. As light was not always available there, Antarian animal life could not rely on sight as a primary sense. To compensate for this, the ancestors of the Gotals evolved cranial horns as receptors to sense electromagnetism and other energy emissions.
Although they were easily disoriented around devices that produced high levels of electromagnetic interference, the Gotals managed to develop quite sophisticated levels of technology. Using chemical reactions where other species would use electronics, the Gotals managed to colonize four of Antar's other five moons, and set up mining operations on the fifth, even before Galactic Republic explorers contacted them.
The Gotals joined the Galactic Republic between 25,000 and 22,000 BBY, becoming one of the first species to send representatives to its newly formed Galactic Senate. Kith Kark, a Jedi killed during the Freedon Nadd Uprising, is the earliest known Gotal to make his mark on galactic history. Goethar Kleej and his son Aubin came to prominence during the Mandalorian Wars a few decades later as swoop-duelists on the space station Jervo's World.
In later centuries, one of their most notable contributions to Republic society was the Antarian Rangers, founded in 620 BBY to assist the Jedi. Co-founded by the Human Jedi Master Marus Timpel and the Gotal businessman Kaskutal, this organization grew to become a major non-Jedi paramilitary auxiliary, working alongside the Jedi Order to protect the Galactic Republic.
In the Republic's final years, however, the relationship between the Gotals and the rest of the galaxy became increasingly strained. The Duinuogwuin-Gotal conflict was a short, but intense struggle which required the intervention of the Jedi Masters Jorus C'baoth and Tra's M'ins to bring to an end. Tensions between the Gotals and the rest of the galaxy continued over the next decade, however.
During the Separatist Crisis of 22 BBY, many Gotals supported the Gotal Assembly for Separation, or its more violent splinter group the Roshu Sune. After Roshu Sune terrorists set off bombs in Antarian Ranger chapterhouses, the Jedi and their Antarian Ranger allies invaded Antar 4 in retaliation. During the Battle of Antar 4, the Jedi and the Antarian Rangers took heavy casualties. They used electromagnetic pulse weapons in desperation, even though such weapons caused immense pain and disorientation for civilian Gotals caught in the crossfire. The Jedi response turned the Gotals, and the people of thousands of other worlds, against the Republic. After the battle, many Gotal refugees fled to Atzerri, leading to the Gotal hostage standoff. During this crisis, the Roshu Sune militants captured a commuter hopper that had 25 passengers, one of whom was Nathanjo Nirrelz. A taskforce of Jedi led by Sarrissa Jeng attempted to negotiate with the hijackers, but when blasterfire spooked the militants, they executed some of their hostages. The Jedi forced their way into the hopper and killed the Gotal militants. Gotal Foreign Affairs Commune leader Shagrad Loset castigated the Jedi for their "lightsaber diplomacy," asserting that the Gotals should have been allowed to solve the crisis themselves. Although a poll conducted by HoloNet News showed that a majority of respondents believed that violence was inevitable in the crisis, the events provided the impetus for the Clone Wars that engulfed the galaxy for the next few years. During the Clone Wars, Antar 4 was conquered by the Confederacy of Independent Systems. The Gotals did not benefit from the war, and were greatly impoverished during the Confederate occupation. Around this time, a Gotal team was entered in the Cularin Classic swoop race on the planet Cularin and was represented by the racer Arum Oru.
At the war's end, the Gotals became subjects of the Galactic Empire. The Imperial military refused to let Gotals serve in the military, believing they were too apt to empathize with their enemies. Only a minority of Gotals were willing to work with the Empire in any case, since their empathic sense led them to distrust the promises of Imperial diplomats.
During the time of the New Republic, Gotals were one of the nonhuman races targeted in Warlord Zsinj's plot to destabilize the New Republic. The operation was able to brainwash certain individuals to attempt to assassinate major leaders in the New Republic. Three of the targets included Wedge Antilles, Admiral Ackbar, and Mon Mothma, whose intended assassin was Tolokai, her trusted Gotal bodyguard. The intent of the operation was to breed distrust between Humans and prominent nonhuman races of the New Republic. The operation was ultimately foiled. By 9 ABY, the New Republic had liberated their homeworld, together with the rest of the Inner Rim Territories. At the end of the Yuuzhan Vong War, Antar 4 became a part of the Galactic Alliance. Gotal senator Ta'laam Ranth served on the Alliance's High Council as Minister of Justice. Circa 25 ABY, Antar 4's population was between one and ten billion. During the Yuuzhan Vong War, the Antar system was attacked by the Yuuzhan Vong. At some point during the New Republic's existence, the Shi'ido anthropologist Mammon Hoole included an entry on the Gotals in his publication The Essential Guide to Alien Species.
In 130 ABY, at least two Gotals were involved with the new Sith Order: an unnamed Sith who took part in the Massacre at Ossus, and the spy and information broker Attatag Gosem. By 137 ABY, the Antar system fell within territory controlled by Darth Krayt as part of his Sith Empire, and Gotals were still active in the galactic community.
Gotals in the galaxy
- "…it is rumored that the finest gamblers in the galaxy learn to bluff by trying to trick Gotal acquaintances."
- ―Obo Rin
After joining galactic society, Gotals could be found on almost any planet with a significant non-Human population, including Berchest, Centares, Engebo V, Horn Station, Teyr, and Vaced. They were among the most common space-faring species. A Gotal in a brown robe was present at Chalmun's Spaceport Cantina on Tatooine in 0 BBY on the day smuggler Han Solo shot and killed the Rodian bounty hunter Greedo. A Gotal named Kerru was another regular patron of Chalmun's cantina.
Gotals tended to avoid the city-planets of the Core Worlds due to the disorienting effects of the many droids and electronic devices on such planets. The most sensitive Gotals even avoided the relatively low-level emissions of Antar 4's city centers, preferring to live in remote wilderness areas. Some of these took up the life of scouts, as this work allowed them to spend more time in less developed regions.
Nevertheless, some Gotals made their way to such technological hubs, including planets such as Aargau, Riflor, and Coruscant. For example, a Gotal speeder bike rider nearly collided with the Gungan Jar Jar Binks when the offworlder ran through a busy street on the planet Coruscant in 32 BBY, and in 27 BBY another Gotal visited the Twirling Twi'lek bar on Coruscant bar. In 22 BBY, a Gotal worked as a traffic controller on Atzerri; meanwhile, at least one Gotal ran into trouble with immigrations officials while trying to disembark on Coruscant that year. Other Gotals were present when the droids C-3PO and R2-D2 scoured the lower market districts for jogan fruit. A few years later, in 19 BBY, a Gotal was among the evacuees of the Senate Apartment Complex during the Battle of Coruscant. A Gotal lived in the slums of Coruscant in the early stages of the Yuuzhan Vong War. Some time after that conflict, some Gotals began wearing cone socks to muffle electromagnetic interference in energy-rich environments. Though these were expensive garments at first, they quickly grew in popularity for Gotals traveling in galactic society.
Their electromagnetic senses often led them to employment as trackers, soldiers, and bounty hunters. Gotal hunters and soldiers were difficult to ambush or trap, and easily saw through most attempts at camouflage. They prided themselves on tracking difficult targets, referring to the Gotal proverb "What is easily achieved is easily lost." Some Gotal hunters had developed their empathic skills well enough to accurately and quickly anticipate their enemies' moves—these were referred to as "precogs". During the Clone Wars, two Gotal trackers were employed by the Human Tendir Blue to capture Ratri Tane, a defector from the Techno Union who had sensitive information about his former employer. The Gotals tracked Tane to the Homestar cantina in Coronet City, on the planet Corellia. When a pair of Jedi—Aayla Secura and Ylenic It'kla—showed themselves in the cantina, the Gotals escaped with Tane after a brief skirmish. When the Jedi tracked the Gotals to Blue's headquarters, their captive revealed himself to be another Jedi—Nejaa Halcyon—and overwhelmed their enhanced senses and killed them. Another Gotal bounty hunter active during the Clone Wars partnered with the Rodian Greedo to kidnap the Pantorans Chi Eekway Papanoida and Che Amanwe Papanoida for the Trade Federation. After capturing the targets on Coruscant, the Gotal brought Amanwe to a cantina on Tatooine. However, his bounty was spoiled by Greedo, who was forced by the captives' father, Baron Notluwiski Papanoida, to bring him to the cantina, where he freed them, allowing the family to fight off the Gotal and his partners. During the Galactic Civil War, some Gotal soldiers—including Terrlarn—became mercenaries and bounty hunters; while others joined the Rebellion or its successor, the Alliance of Free Planets. The financier Sarlim Gastess, who headed the Imperial-aligned corporation Gastess' Finance, Inc., the "precog" bounty hunter Glott, and the Tatooine bureaucrat and part-time bounty hunter Feltipern Trevagg were among the few Gotals who served Imperial interests. Another team of Gotal hunters and trappers pursued non-sentient prey along the Rryatt Trail on the planet Kashyyyk. They set up camp in the Shadowlands on the planet's surface. The rival hunter, the Rodian Tressk, hired a group of adventurers to kill eighteen members of the Gotal hunting party.
Some Gotals operated along the galactic fringe as assassins, scoundrels, and criminals. For example, in 33 BBY, a Gotal guard protected the entrance to the fortress of Alexi Garyn on Ralltiir until he was dispatched by the Sith apprentice Darth Maul who was on a mission to assassinate the Black Sun vigos meeting inside. Around that same time, a Gotal guard worked as a sentry outside the headquarters of the murderous dictator Uda-Khalid. Another Gotal served as a member of the outlaw organization known as the Nebula Front. He participated in the failed assassination of Finis Valorum, Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic, during a trade summit on Eriadu. Another Gotal at this time was a member of the Raptors, a gang that operated in the undercity of Coruscant. In an skirmish with the Jedi Padawan Darsha Assant, the Gotal lost his hand and weapon to the Force-user's lightsaber. Another Gotal impersonated a Jedi Knight on the moon Nar Shaddaa in an attempt to capture the amnesiac Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos. When the Devaronian Vilmarh Grahrk warned Vos that the Gotal was not a Jedi as he claimed, Vos dispatched the imposter. During the Clone Wars, the Gotal Noric Gestal
led a pirate and slaver gang on the planet Ryloth. During a raid at the Fungus Pit cantina Gestal was killed. Also during that conflict, a group of Gotal ruffians worked for the Moogan smuggler Tee Va. They performed heavy labor for their boss, at one point unloading large quantities of a toxic chemical known as slabin on the planet Mandalore. When Duchess Satine Kryze investigated the Moogan smuggling, she and her personal guards attacked a warehouse where the Gotals were working, killing several in the ensuing skirmish. Other Gotal toughs worked for Mandalore's Prime Minister Almec, helping him secretly funnel foodstuffs into the black market; these Gotals were caught on holocam by a group of young cadets at Mandalore's Royal Academy of Government. Others were present at Jabba the Hutt's palace on Tatooine when the bounty hunter Cad Bane delivered the plans of the Galactic Senate to Jabba. One Gotal fringer worked beyond the bounds of the civilized galaxy during the Clone Wars, reaping the opportunities provided by the war. Another such was Jauxson, a Gotal pirate captain who ran a pirate gang on the Bith homeworld of Clak'dor VII at some point during the Galactic Civil War. Jauxson terrorized several Bith cities until he was finally stopped by a group of offworlders. Also during that war, the Gotal Abav Ghart led another pirate gang, the Void Demons, from their base on the moon Isen IV in the Isen system. Another group of Gotals maintained a pirate base in the Kashyyyk system. The Gotal Dakk worked as the armorsmith for the Hutt Borvo in Kaadara on the planet Naboo. Gotals were among the crew of the pirate leader Drek Drednar. One Gotal smuggler was captured by the Empire. Darth Vader then used the Dark side of the Force to burn his mind, transforming him into a feral beast, driven by fear, and used him as a fanatical guard. Many years later, in 12 ABY, Han Solo and Chewbacca encountered the Gotal on Belsavis in the underground catacombs. During the reign of the New Republic some years later, Mahk'khar, a Gotal bounty hunter, rose to become a prominent crimelord of the Corva sector. Mahk'khar obtained a powerful dark side relic, which he traded to the dark Jedi Durrei on the abandoned planet Jandoon. Later, a Gotal worked on Atzerri as a guard for Joreb Goss, a drug addict.
Other Gotals found legitimate work. During the Death Seed crisis of 14 ABY, a female Gotal captained the Quarantine Enforcement Cruiser Lycoming, which belonged to the Coruscant Institute. She was accompanied by a Gotal Chief medical officer. Upon responding to a distress call from the Empyrean, the Captain discovered a group of Gamorrean scavengers led by Ugmush, and subsequently arrested them. She later arrested the investigative journalist Yarbolk Yemm and ordered him thrown out an airlock to protect the Loronar Corporation, which was behind the Death Seed outbreak.
Thanks to their empathic abilities, they also worked as nobles, diplomats, counselors, and even professional gamblers. This sort of employment gave rise to the erroneous belief that Gotals were telepathic, a misconception which made some people uncomfortable and suspicious when dealing with Gotals. In fact, the opposite was often true—Gotals with little experience dealing with non-Gotals frequently misunderstood their emotional states, mistaking moderate anger for imminent violent intent, and mild affection for love. Many Gotals joined the Jedi Order; as Jedi Knights, their natural empathic abilities supplemented their ability to use the Force.
Behind the scenes
The Gotal alien design was created for A New Hope's cantina scene by conceptual artist Ron Cobb. Either Cobb or makeup artist Laine Liska sculpted the Gotal masks and hands used in the film. Cobb's concept illustrations feature biological notes, describing the species as a "High Tundra" creature. High Tundra became the characters' on-set nickname.
Although the proper name for one of the characters was initially Dratun, later Expanded Universe sources beginning with Troy Denning's Galaxy Guide 4: Alien Races (First Edition) identified the species name as Gotal, and one of the characters seen in the Mos Eisley Cantina as Feltipern Trevagg.
The various Star Wars roleplaying games have presented Gotals as a species players may choose to portray in their games. Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game from West End Games was the first game to describe the Gotals. In addition to the sensory abilities from the head cones, West End Games sourcebooks presented the Gotals as slightly stronger and potentially more perceptive and dexterous than human characters, but generally less adept with technological and knowledge-based skills. The Saga Edition of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game from Wizards of the Coast presents them as equivalent to most species in most respects but allows them to sense the emotional state of those within six meters. The game allows these targets to resist the Gotal's prying, however. The game also indicates that Gotal characters can, in fact, sense the Force with their cones.
- "Hate Leads to Lollipops" — Star Wars Tales 9
- "Prey" — Star Wars Tales 3
- Star Wars Infinities: A New Hope
- "The Emperor's Court" — Star Wars Tales 14