The Massassi were the subspecies of the ancient Sith race that was enslaved by the exiled Dark Jedi on Korriban. Massassi were fearsome, loyal, and formidable warriors, and as such comprised the warrior class in the Sith caste system. They lived solely to serve their Sith masters, but when on their own, dedicated themselves only to whatever life they chose.
Biology and appearance
- "They really are amazingly malleable, the Massassi."
- ―Ajunta Pall
Like the rest of the Sith, the Massassi subspecies were native to the planet Korriban, within the isolated Stygian Caldera in the Outer Rim Territories. They, like the few other creatures that inhabited Korriban, derived sustenance directly from the dark side of the Force, in part of a natural symbiotic relationship where Sith—like the Massassi—fed on the dark side, and empowered it in turn. Thus the entire Sith race, including the Massassi, had such a high rate of Force-sensitivity that they were considered a naturally Force-sensitive species.
Phenotypically, Massassi were quite similar to the rest of the Sith species. Common to all Sith, Massassi skin was red, ranging from florid crimsons to lighter pinks. Massassi had fierce, predatory profiles, and sharp bone spurs protruding over their bodies in various locations—especially the elbows. Other facial features included a pair of tendrils that hung from their cheekbones, and cartilaginous eyebrow stalks that covered their eyes. They also had simian mouths, small noses and ears, and a slightly receding chin. Like other Sith, Massassi had three digits on each of their hands and feet.
Exclusive to their subspecies however, Massassi possessed large glowing yellow eyes. Unlike mainline Sith, the eyes of Massassi did not display details such as pupils or whites of any sort—instead the yellow seemed to cover the whole of each eye. Massassi were also taller, larger, and more hulking humanoids than the species they hailed from, reaching between two and three meters in height, and an average weight of ninety-five kilograms. Massassi senses were very acute compared to those of Humans—particularly their hearing. Massassi also had an extremely tough skin; powerful cauterizing agents such as cyanogen silicate were needed to provide Massassi with medical assistance. Nothing weaker was capable of corroding their resistant hides.
Relative to other species, Massassi were quite short lived. The typical Massassi childhood lasted ten standard years, with the next three standard years constituting young adulthood. Massassi adulthood typically began at around fourteen standard years of age. Middle age started after twenty-five standard years of life, and old age after thirty-five years. Any Massassi over the age of fifty standard years were considered venerable.
The Massassi under the command of Naga Sadow that relocated to Yavin 4 after the Great Hyperspace War underwent alchemical alterations under the supervision of Sadow. These individuals and their descendants became more hunched and monstrous than the original Massassi species, and were gradually considered more like savage brutes than the warriors they once were. At this point, they became large creatures with sharp claws and grotesque fin-like growths on their head and back.
Also while on Yavin 4, Exar Kun enslaved the Massassi' to build temples. When a mournful Ulic Qel-Droma turned on him, he destroyed the Massassi and trapped his and their spirits in the temples to live forever.
Society and culture
- "They failed to learn the lesson of humility. The grander their works, the more they ached for the power that still seemed so far out of reach. They gathered these stones for the Sith in a vain effort to touch the face of their god. And they pursued the dark power of the Sith in a vain effort to become like gods themselves."
- ―Luke Skywalker's view on the species after reading the Books of Massassi
The Massassi were fearsome, ruthless, and efficient soldiers. Though the Massassi engaged in supposedly primitive practices such as sentient sacrifice and held a strong caste system, their civilization was quite sophisticated; they saw these acts not as cruel or barbaric, but simply basic aspects of existence. The Massassi language may have been related to the Sith, and they also made use of hieroglyphs which were written on their artifacts as well as structures. During the reign of Exar Kun, the race had largely devolved into mindless brutes that followed the commands of their master. There were notable elements within their culture, however, such as the presence of priests and elders.
The Massassi warriors who had accompanied Naga Sadow in exile had come to regard the gas giant Yavin Prime as a fearsome but fascinating deity they called Yavin. The warriors felt humbled by their new god's all-dominating presence. As they could not withstand their own hubris, the Massassi made a vain attempt to achieve godly status by assembling temples and monuments for their worldly masters.
As with the Sith, war and violence were just as much a part of the natural order of life as peace or serenity for the Massassi. They were not only fearsome, but both loyal and formidable warriors that were dedicated to their Sith masters. In addition to the focus on war and fighting, the Massassi were also loyal and organized. They were bred to blindly follow orders and to live for the glory of battle. Even though they were not extremely intelligent, they could be trained well enough to carry out complex battle plans and maintain their equipment, starships, and weaponry. The Massassi also used alchemically hardened armor and a more primitive version of the Sith lanvarok which could also be used as a battle axe; this variant was known as the Massassi lanvarok.
In battle, the Massassi typically had a keeper who watched over them as these nasty lumbering bipeds were normally prized by the Sith as instruments of terror on the battlefield. As such, they were known as pliant and obedient warriors but answered more to force rather than words.
Also while on Yavin 4, Exar Kun enslaved the Massassi' to build temples. When Jedi Master Vado-Siosk Bass turned on him, he destroyed the Massassi and trapped his and their spirits in the temples to live forever.
- "Eventually all of the Sith…especially their Massassi warriors…lived only to serve their new masters."
- ―Ajunta Pall
As a subspecies of the Sith race, the ancient Massassi presumably originated on Korriban because of the other Sith subspecies originating from there. Since Sith society lasted as such for hundreds of centuries—from roughly 100,000 BBY to 7000 BBY, it is presumed that the Massassi also had an ancient history. Around 27,700 BBY, they along with the priest caste were resettled from their homeworld to the Sith Empire's capital of Ziost.
Around 7000 BBY, Dark Jedi exiles fleeing from the Galactic Republic after their defeat in the Hundred-Year Darkness, established themselves as "divine" rulers over their native Sith, uniting the world once again and created a new Sith Empire, this time under the rule of a Dark Lord of the Sith. Over the generations, the Sith interbred with the Human Dark Jedi through a practice of the intermixing of Human and Sith bloodlines which became known as Sith Alchemy. The new Dark Jedi masters found the Massassi useful and used them as their tools of power for the Sith Empire. Much of the Sith Empire's military was composed of Massassi.
During the Great Hyperspace War in 5000 BBY, the Massassi proved to be formidable and savage warriors that fought against the Galactic Republic on behalf of the Sith Lords. Some Massassi were aboard the Omen and were stranded on the planet Kesh. Something in Kesh's atmosphere eventually killed them all though. Despite the fury of the Massassi, the Sith Empire was defeated and forced to return to Sith Space where they were pursued and attacked by the pursuing Republic forces. In order to survive, the Dark Lord Naga Sadow commanded his loyal Massassi to give their lives and delay the Republic so he could escape. This resulted in the Massassi assassinating their Sith Lords on board Sadow's fleet and engaging the Republic thus giving their master the chance to flee the battlefield.
- "The beings who dwell here are called Massassi…primitive…brutal…the descendants of the Ancient Sith."
- ―Freedon Nadd
Sadow fled to the jungle moon of Yavin 4 along with a contingent of Massassi followers to escape the pursuing Jedi and the Galactic Republic. There, Sadow committed cruel experiments on his own Massassi warriors which resulted in them becoming dark side wielding savages. Despite these abuses, the Massassi treated Sadow as a god, building huge temples and palaces to honor their Lord. Eventually the Massassi on the moon devolved into a primitive hunter-warrior society. At some point during the construction of the Massassi Temple's, they created the Yavin Vassilika that contained a key to one of the more strategically important temples.
In 3997 BBY, Exar Kun elevated himself to the status of a god and enslaved the Massassi members on Yavin IV. He then forced them to construct a great complex of temples that were used in arcane Sith ceremonies and rites. He also experimented on his slaves and created the Golden Globe that trapped the children of the Massassi and allowed him to drain their energies for his own purposes. During the Sith War in 3996 BBY, Exar Kun sapped the life out most of the Massassi on Yavin 4 so that he could free his soul from his body in order to escape the pursuing Jedi. Some of the Massassi survived Kun's ritual, one example was Kalgrath. In addition, there were Massassi living on other worlds. For example, there was at least one Massassi living on Korriban in 3993 BBY, and reports of isolated villages of both Kissai and Massassi on Korriban and Tund.
Though nearly annihilated, some Massassi had previously been taken off world which meant that the species was not largely extinct at the time. Some of its members, however, quickly went into the service of the new Sith Empire that had formed during the Jedi Civil War. Some also remained neutral as they were resentful of the treatment done to their race by the Sith. These Massassi either decided to continue a life where they could live in peace while others stayed in the fringes of society and sought revenge against the Sith.
In the years before the Great Galactic War, the True Sith hiding in the shadows of the galaxy began dispatching their infiltrated agents in the Jedi Order such as Barel Ovair to remove any threats posed by ancient dark side spirits such as that of Naga Sadow. To that end, he travelled with his Padawan Eison Gynt to Yavin 4 to study the temple there though Gynt was unaware of his master's true allegiance. Upon arriving, they were attacked by the native Massassi who had survived the events caused by Exar Kun, and overwhelmed Ovair and Gynt to the point that they fled to Sadow's tomb. From the encounter, only Master Ovair emerged and returned to the Jedi Council. Seven years later, Gynt emerged wearing Massassi warrior robes and had been possessed by the dark side spirit of Naga Sadow from the tomb. Gynt attacked master Ovair in broad daylight with all the Republic watching, and although a formidable opponent with Sadow's powers, Ovair was able to defeat the possessed Gynt.
Around four hundred years before the Battle of Yavin, the Kushiban Jedi Master Ikrit discovered the Golden Globe in the ruined Palace of the Woolamander and since he was unable to free the Massassi from the swirling golden sand within the globe, placed himself in hibernation for centuries, until the right being or beings arrived. Many scholars believed that the species had gone extinct by the time of the rise of the Empire though it was possible that some managed to survive on forgotten Sith worlds or had devolved into predatory savages on distant worlds. Finally, in 22 ABY, Jedi trainees Anakin Solo and Tahiri Veila freed the trapped spirits from the swirling golden sand of the globe, and in the process befriended the mysterious Ikrit. By this point, the Massassi were largely extinct with many archaeologists as well as linguists attempting to learn more about the mysterious race. It was known that the last known member of the species known as Kalgrath departed to Ziost, one of the former strongholds of the Sith Empire but little else was known about his fate.
Behind the scenes
In Kevin J. Anderson's Dark Apprentice, Luke Skywalker has a nightmare involving Massassi workers straining enormous stone blocks. In his dream they are grayish-green humanoids with smooth skin and "large lanternlike eyes" rather than red-skinned humanoids with sharp features, which stands to reason as there is no evidence Luke has ever encountered an actual Massassi.
Notes and references
- Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide
- Tales of the Jedi – Dark Lords of the Sith 4
- Evil Never Dies: The Sith Dynasties
- Tales of the Jedi – The Fall of the Sith Empire 5
- The Written Word: A Brief Introduction to the Writing Systems of Galactic Basic
- Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi — The Golden Age of the Sith
- Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi — The Fall of the Sith Empire
- Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi - Dark Lords of the Sith
- Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force
- The Essential Atlas
- Tales of the Jedi Companion
- Jedi Academy Training Manual
- The Essential Guide to Alien Species
- Lost Tribe of the Sith: Precipice
- Lost Tribe of the Sith: Paragon
- Before the Storm
- Underworld: The Yavin Vassilika
- The Dark Side Sourcebook
- Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
- Tales of the Jedi: Dark Lords of the Sith audio
- Star Wars: The Old Republic
- Star Wars (1977) 25
- Star Wars (1977) 26
- Star Wars (1977) 27