- "Nathema? I've never heard of it."
"Once it went by another name, but that name has long been forgotten… just like the planet itself. The Emperor erased Nathema from the history books and the astrogation charts to hide all evidence of his crimes."
- ―Scourge and Darth Nyriss
Nathema, originally known as Medriaas, was a fertile agriworld located in the Nathema system of the Outer Rim Territories' Chorlian sector during the time of the Sith Empire. The planet's Sith ruler, Lord Dramath, was deposed in 5103 BBY by his own illegitimate son Tenebrae at the age of ten, and the child received the title of Lord Vitiate and rulership of Medriaas from the reigning Dark Lord of the Sith, Marka Ragnos. Renaming the planet Nathema, Vitiate kept his world isolated from the power plays of his fellow Sith over the next century, and his isolation spared Nathema from the Great Hyperspace War in 5000 BBY. The following year, Vitiate summoned the eight thousand remaining Sith Lords to Nathema in order to save the crumbling Sith Empire, but the powerful Vitiate dominated their minds instead and proceeded to use their strength in a complex ritual of Sith magic that granted him immortality while stripping the Force from the entire planet.
With only one exception, every living thing on Nathema other than Vitiate was instantly killed by the Ritual of Nathema, and the planet became a barren wasteland devoid even of droids and technology as Vitiate, now known as the Sith Emperor, hid his past and the hyperspace routes to Nathema from his newly reconstituted Empire. Nathema's rediscovery and the revelation of what he had done to the world sparked a plot among the members of the Empire's ruling Dark Council to unseat their Emperor and prevent him from repeating the ritual, but the destruction of the conspiracy once again erased knowledge of Nathema from the mind of the Empire. However, the memory of Nathema inspired the Sith Lord Scourge to betray the Emperor over three centuries later, causing him to ally with the Jedi Knight known as the Hero of Tython in order to stop the Emperor from repeating the ritual on a galactic scale.
Though he kept the planet a secret from the Sith Empire, Vitiate nonetheless made use of it for his own purposes, sending powerful Force users to the blighted world to be experimented upon by his servants in the Sanitarium. The Sanitarium was maintained by the Nathema Zealots, strange Force-sensitives that survived the planet's Force void through daily rituals and intense meditation that left them utterly dependent upon it for survival. The ritual's sole survivors, a species of semi-sentient insects, mutated into the mindless creatures known as voreclaws, which Vitiate saved from extinction to use as guards for the vaults of dark side artifacts he kept beneath the Sanitarium. Vitiate's daughter Vaylin was imprisoned in the Sanitarium as a child to contain her powers, and when she returned to Nathema years later, she had the Sanitarium bombarded into ruin, leaving Nathema once again a barren and lifeless world.
- "He was born almost a thousand years ago, in the decades before the Great Hyperspace War with the Republic. He spent his childhood on Nathema, a lush and vibrant agricultural world on the far fringes of the Empire."
- ―Darth Nyriss
A lush and fertile planet located in the Nathema system, a star system on the edges of the Sith Empire in what would later be known as the Outer Rim Territories's Chorlian sector, Medriaas served as a productive agriworld for the Empire in the centuries before 5113 BBY. Medriaas orbited a bright orange sun and possessed a Type I atmosphere that was breathable for both Humans and Sith. The terrestrial planet's agricultural fields were dotted with dozens of farming villages, though by the time of the Great Hyperspace War in 5000 BBY Medriaas—which, by that point, had been renamed Nathema—had at least one city. Medriaas possessed oceans which separated at least two continents on the planet's surface, and the northern continent was considered to be remote in relation to the Sith Lord Dramath's seat of power.
After the Ritual of Nathema, the planet was completely devoid of all life; every living thing regardless of size was consumed by the Sith Lord Vitiate's ritual, and the planet's surface was left a barren wasteland. Even droids and other technology were destroyed by the ritual, and the very fabric of the environment seemed to be leeched of color—leaving everything sickly shades of brown or gray. The atmosphere was warped as well, as Nathema's sun appeared a pale brown instead of its actual orange color, and sound waves were twisted to become flat and dull. The surface was dotted with the inanimate remains of Nathema's inhabitants, as the ritual had not consumed its victims' clothing or belongings, and the lack of natural scavengers left everything in exactly the same condition it was on the day of the ritual. Force-sensitive individuals felt the ritual's effect most of all, as the complete absence of the Force left those who visited the world nearly physically ill. The Jedi Meetra Surik was forced to fight the void, as those who encountered the phenomenon termed it, to retain her sense of self and prevent it from filling the vacuum with her own energy. In the centuries after the ritual, time gradually wiped away all traces of intelligent life on the planet, to the point where the sole structure that remained was the Sanitarium, a prison for Vitiate's enemies. Fashioned out of gray rock, the Sanitarium was home to the Nathema Zealots and the Keepers, who kept watch over the facility's prisoners. The bulk of the structure was located underground, where Vitiate kept vaults of dark artifacts.
- "Now orphaned by his own hand, he made the others in his village bow down to him. Those who refused, he tortured and killed through the Force. Over the next few years his reputation and influence spread to nearby villages, and he amassed legions of both fanatical and terrified followers. He killed thousands during his rise to power. Many died just to feed his insatiable appetite for suffering, tortured for days in public executions so he could savor their agonizing ends."
- ―Darth Nyriss
Medriaas had already been discovered and settled by the Sith Empire in the centuries before 5000 BBY, and by the year 5113 BBY, the planet was ruled by the Sith Lord Dramath. Around that time, Dramath had an affair with a farm woman on the northern continent, and he promptly forgot about the woman and the son she bore him when he left the region. In 5107 BBY, the child—who had been named Tenebrae—began to exhibit signs of Force-sensitivity, which meant he was a member of the planet's ruling elite. Tenebrae's adoptive father confronted his wife over the fact that neither of them were Force-sensitive, but Tenebrae used his father's own anger to kill the man when he attacked the six-year-old's mother, and Tenebrae tortured his mother for months before killing her in response to her infidelity. He then proceeded to take control of his village, torturing and killing with the Force those who refused to submit to his authority. He then proceeded to conquer the northern continent over the next four years, amassing legions of followers and eliminating thousands during his rise in order to feed his appetite for pain and suffering.
Dramath believed the rumors of these events to be beneath him, and it was not until 5103 BBY that the Sith Lord decided to visit Tenebrae and determine whether to kill him or make him into a servant. But to Dramath's surprise, the ten-year-old stripped his father of the Force and drove him insane before killing him. Over the next three years, Tenebrae continued his conquest of Medriaas and eliminated every Sith challenger who tried to oppose him. In 5100 BBY, he claimed the throne of Medriaas, while his half-brother Dramath the Second fled in fear of his sibling's power. Now the undisputed ruler of the world, Tenebrae presented himself before Dark Lord of the Sith Marka Ragnos, the ruler of the Empire, on the capital of Ziost, and an impressed Ragnos granted him official rule of Medriaas and the title of Lord Vitiate. The teenage Sith Lord returned to his world and renamed it Nathema, building himself a palace on the site of his childhood home and spending the next century studying the depths of the dark side of the Force.
Marka Ragnos' death in 5000 BBY sparked a struggle for succession between the Sith Lords Naga Sadow and his rival Ludo Kressh. Vitiate refrained from involving himself or Nathema in the political infighting, and Nathema continued under his isolationist policy even when Sadow's exploits as the Dark Lord of the Sith brought the Empire into contact with the Galactic Republic and their Jedi protectors, beginning the Great Hyperspace War. As the Empire crumbled under a Republic assault after the Sith offensive was turned back, Vitiate remained engrossed in his studies, thereby sparing Nathema from the devastation of war. But in the aftermath of Sadow's defeat at Korriban, Vitiate emerged from his seclusion and began to manipulate the Empire's fear. Broadcasting speeches from his palace that described how the Republic would pursue them and massacre the people of the Empire, he drove Nathema and the rest of the Empire into a terrified and desperate frenzy before he offered them hope.
The Ritual of Nathema
- "When the ritual was ended, Nathema was no longer a world. It was a husk sucked dry."
- ―Darth Nyriss
At the same time, Vitiate had a team of historians and researchers search for a long-lost Sith colony world named Dromund Kaas, to where he planned to retreat in order to avoid the Jedi. When the lead researcher finally presented him with their successful findings, Vitiate immediately sent out a call to all of the remaining Sith Lords within the Empire. Nathema's ruler promised to lead them in a great ritual of Sith magic that would bring about the Empire's salvation, and more than eight thousand Sith Lords answered his call from Korriban. Three days after Vitiate's researchers informed him of their success, he publicly announced the commencement of the ritual, and the Sith who had come to Nathema gathered in Vitiate's palace. But to their surprise, the scholarly Sith turned on them and dominated their minds, binding all of them to his will and feeding on their strength as he began the ritual. At that point, Nathema's entire government came to a halt, as the Jedi Meetra Surik was unable to find any electronic records after Vitiate's announcement. The ritual itself took an entire week, but by the end of that week the entire planet was stripped of the Force. Vitiate absorbed the life force of every living organism on the planet, leaving behind piles of dust as Nathema's inhabitants, wildlife, and flora simply disintegrated. Cities, villages, vehicles, technology, and all other inanimate objects remained behind, though the ritual destroyed almost all of the planet's technology as power was ripped from the circuitry.
The ritual transformed Vitiate, making him immortal and granting him immense power in the Force, and he shed his title to become known only as the Emperor. The Emperor blamed the destruction of Nathema on the Jedi, driving the people of the Empire further into a panic while also offering them hope once again. Gathering the remnants of the shattered Empire, especially those of the younger generation, the Emperor boarded a small fleet with them and departed for Dromund Kaas on an exodus. However, the Emperor ensured that the journey took them twenty years to reach the planet—which none but the Emperor knew was their destination—so that the people would come to rely on him as their savior. He also erased all mention of Nathema from history beyond the name of the Ritual of Nathema, which Imperial scholars celebrated as one of the greatest achievements of the old Empire. He also ensured that any data on hyperspace routes back to Nathema were destroyed, ensuring that no one would ever discover the truth of Nathema and how he gained his power.
- "You feel the chill of the Void. The Force is energy; it gives heat to our emotions and our minds. But here it has been stripped away."
- ―Darth Nyriss
However, members of the reconstituted Empire's ruling Dark Council eventually rediscovered Nathema's existence and how to reach it, as the Dark Councilors Darth Nyriss and Darth Xedrix had both been to Nathema at some point before 3954 BBY. Upon learning the truth—that the Emperor wished to start a new war with the Republic in order to perform his ritual again—Nyriss, Xedrix, and several other Councilors formed a conspiracy to unseat the Emperor. The conspirators named the phenomenon of the absence of the Force as "the Void." In the year 3960 BBY, the Jedi Knights Revan and Malak ended the Mandalorian Wars at the Battle of Malachor V, in which Revan defeated the Mandalorians' leader Mandalore the Ultimate in personal combat. As Mandalore lay dying, he revealed to Revan that he had been influenced by the Sith to go to war against the Republic, and gave the Jedi information on how to locate the Sith now that his mind was no longer under their influence. After the battle, Revan and Malak followed Mandalore's information to the ice world of Rekkiad, where they discovered Dramath the Second's tomb, as well as a datacron with the coordinates of Nathema. Leaving the Republic ships that had accompanied them behind, the two traveled to the desolate world and witnessed what the Emperor had done. Learning of Nathema's history and the location of Dromund Kaas from what was left of the government's archives, the two Jedi journeyed to Dromund Kaas to confront the Emperor, but they were instead turned to the dark side and made into Sith Lords. The two were sent back to conquer the Republic in the Emperor's name, though they broke free of his control, and Revan was eventually returned to the light side of the Force after Malak turned on him and tried to kill him. Revan defeated Malak and ended the conflict known as the Jedi Civil War in 3956 BBY, though his amnesia prevented him from pursuing the Sith Empire out in the Unknown Regions.
In 3954 BBY, Revan eventually decided to follow his broken memories to Rekkiad and then to Nathema in order to discover the threat which he could not remember, and he took his ship, the Ebon Hawk, to the Nathema system. Around the same time, Darth Nyriss inducted the Sith Lord Scourge into the conspiracy after he proved that he was worthy to join their cause, and Nyriss took Scourge to Nathema in order to show him what the Emperor was capable of. Scourge was horrified by the planet, though as the two were leaving, they sensed Revan's arrival in the Force and attacked the Ebon Hawk with an ion cannon. Losing control of his ship, Revan was unable to stop the Hawk from crashing to the surface of Nathema, where he was captured by Scourge and Nyriss. The two Sith missed Revan's utility droid T3-M4, however, and T3 spent the next three years rebuilding the damaged Hawk with the materials he could find on the planet. T3 intended to return to Revan's wife Bastila Shan as per his instructions, but he and the Ebon Hawk were caught up in the conflict known as the Dark Wars, and the droid became the companion of Revan's former ally Meetra Surik. Finally, in 3950 BBY, T3 was able to explain Revan's disappearance to Surik and Shan, and Surik decided to follow Revan to Nathema while Shan stayed behind with Revan's son Vaner.
On Nathema, Surik and T3 were able to activate what was left of the government's records and learned what had happened to the planet, and they followed Revan's and Malak's first journey to Dromund Kaas in order to find Revan. Surik rescued Revan with the help of Scourge, whom Revan had convinced to help defeat the Emperor, and the three attempted to kill the Emperor. However, Scourge's Force visions led him to kill Surik and betray Revan, as he realized they would fail in their mission and he needed to stay alive in order to aid the Jedi who could kill the Emperor. Made immortal and appointed as the Emperor's Wrath, the Emperor's personal executioner, Scourge served the Emperor for three centuries before he betrayed his master to join forces with the Jedi Knight known as the Hero of Tython—the Knight from his vision. Explaining to the Jedi the history of the Emperor and Nathema, Scourge helped the Hero and the Knight's crew prevent the Emperor from performing the ritual again on a galactic scale. With Scourge's help, the Knight was able to halt the Emperor's plans and finally defeat the immortal ruler in battle, though the Sith survived their encounter and went into hiding in order to heal.
In the centuries following the ritual, Vitiate brought groups of Force-sensitives to the planet, forcing them to brave the Force void in an effort to create an army of incredibly powerful but utterly subservient Force users. However, his efforts were only partially successful; the final result was the Nathema Zealots, a group of Force users who survived contact with the void through a daily regime of rituals and meditation that focused their power while also diminishing their free will. The disadvantage of such a process was that the Zealots became actually dependent on the void for their survival, becoming catatonic if they left the planet's surface. Nonetheless, Vitiate repurposed the Zealots as guards for the Sanitarium, Around the same time, he sent his daughter Vaylin to Nathema so that she might be controlled, and her power contained. After years, her brother Arcann took her back to Zakuul. The process weakened her and rendered her weak to the phrase "Kneel before the Dragon of Zakuul", but also had severely traumatic effects on her mind, leaving her mentally unstable.
Breaking the Bonds
In 3630 BBY, Vaylin returned to Nathema after becoming Eternal Empress, hoping the scientist Jarak that had created her "conditioning" had found a way to break it. Unbeknownst to Vaylin, she didn't know that the Outlander had followed her, hoping to stop her. As the process began, it proved to be highly unstable, resulting in corruption leaking through the sanitarium. The Void Corruption was impossible to contain, and spread like wildfire, draining and killing anything it came into contact with. Even Valkorion, a Force entity, was not immune to its effects. Aided by the scientist, the Outlander and his companion fled the Void Corruption to a vault the Emperor had stored ancient relics in. The presence of powerful dark side imbued items was enough to keep the Void Corruption at bay, but also posed its own threats. While trying to activate the vault's backup generator, the Outlander and Lana Beniko discovered a holocron containing the spirit of Lord Dramath. Dramath explained the history of Nathema and his own connection to Valkorion, before revealing that his holocron could help destroy Valkorion once and for all. The Outlander entrusted the holocron to Beniko to ensure that Valkorion remained unaware of their possession of the artifact. Soon after, a trio of voreclaws were thawed from carbonite and attacked the intruders, killing Jarak in the process, but were in turn killed by the Outlander and Beniko. The pair then escaped the Sanitarium as Vaylin overloaded the facility's generators with the Force from her flagship. 
Return to Nathema
Theron Shan decrypted the holomap depicting the location of a superweapon that belonged to the Sith Emperor and it was located in Nathema where Theron is annoyed for returning to the last place he had hoped for returning.
- "Every man, woman, and child on Nathema died that day. Every beast, bird, and fish; all the insects and plants; every living being touched by the Force was consumed. […] Lord Vitiate sacrificed millions, stealing their life force to make himself immortal."
- ―Darth Nyriss
Before the Ritual of Nathema, the planet was home to millions of Sith, many of whom were farmers. Nathema's inhabitants lived in villages and cities across the planet, and they were ruled by an autocratic government headed by a single Sith Lord with many subordinates. The world was also home to a wide variety of creatures, including birds, fish, insects, and land animals, and its agricultural fields supplied a large amount of foodstuffs for the Empire. However, the ritual killed almost every living thing on the entire planet, leaving Nathema barren and lifeless. Only one thing survived other than Vitiate: the voreclaw, a type of semi-sentient, bipedal insect that possessed a rudimentary hive mind. However, their hive mind was obliterated by the ritual, leaving their underground colonies nothing more than groups of mindless individuals. When the voreclaws, driven by hunger, finally emerged onto the surface, radiation from their planet's sun ravaged the insects, burning their exposed flesh and their chitinous shells. In the utter absence of any other food, the creatures were forced into cannibalism, attacking and eating each other until only a handful remained. Vitiate captured the few remaining survivors and stored them in carbonite beneath the Sanitarium, using them as guards.
In the centuries following the ritual, the only permanent inhabitants of the planet were three groups, all of whom lived within the Sanitarium. The first were the Nathema Zealots, a group of Force-sensitives who survived contact with the Force void through daily rituals and meditation that left them completely subservient to Vitiate, but also caused them to become catatonic if they left the planet. The second were the Keepers, specially-trained Abyssin who maintained day-to-day order in the Sanitarium, and the third were the prisoners: powerful Force users who angered or opposed Vitiate, and were sent to Nathema as punishment. Vitiate's own daughter Vaylin was imprisoned in the Sanitarium for a time, as her power was unpredictable and Vitiate felt she was far too strong to be left uncontained.
Behind the scenes
Nathema was first introduced in Drew Karpyshyn's 2011 novel The Old Republic: Revan, which revealed much of the backstory of the Sith Emperor and his Empire. The novel set up much of the plot for Act III of the Jedi Knight storyline in the video game Star Wars: The Old Republic, which was released by BioWare and LucasArts about a month after the tie-in novel. Nathema is mentioned by Lord Scourge in the beginning of Act III while he is describing the history of the Emperor, though he does not mention the planet by name. The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural, an in-universe reference guide released with the Collector's Edition of the game, mentions Nathema in the chapter where Gnost-Dural investigates the history of the Emperor. The Essential Reader's Companion and the Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia, both released in 2012, also mention Nathema, and the regular updates of the Online Companion to The Essential Atlas placed Nathema and the Nathema system in the Chorlian sector of the Outer Rim, in grid square S-4.
The fifth expansion for The Old Republic, Knights of the Eternal Throne, includes Nathema as one of the two worlds new to the game that are involved in the expansion's storyline. Nathema is the setting of Chapter VII: Into the Void, and is identified as the place where Vaylin was imprisoned as a child. Vaylin's imprisonment, and therefore Nathema, was first visually depicted in "Betrayed," a cinematic trailer that was released in advance of Knights of the Eternal Throne.
- The Old Republic: Revan (First appearance)
- (First pictured)
- Star Wars: The Old Republic (Mentioned in-game; Codex entry)
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne
- The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural
- The Essential Reader's Companion
- Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia
- Star Wars: Force and Destiny Core Rulebook
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 2.32 2.33 2.34 2.35 2.36 2.37 2.38 The Old Republic: Revan
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Planets of the Galaxy, Volume One
- ↑ 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne—Chapter VII: Into the Void
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne—Codex Entry: "Voreclaw"
- ↑ Betrayed
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne—Codex Entry: "The Sanitarium"
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 Star Wars: The Old Republic—Codex Entry: "Galactic History 31: The Ritual of Nathema"
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Star Wars: The Old Republic—Jedi Knight Mission: "An Unthinkable Alliance" on the Emperor's Fortress
- ↑ Star Wars: The Old Republic—Jedi Knight Mission: "Doomsday" on Dromund Kaas
- ↑ Star Wars: The Old Republic—The Emperor's Absence from Servant One of the Emperor's Hand
- ↑ Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne—Chapter VII: Into the Void
- ↑ Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne—Codex Entry: "Nathema Zealots"
- ↑ The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural
- ↑ The Essential Reader's Companion