- "I know not what this 'Plaque of Victory' is. Is all this strife over a simple metal ingot, or is there some greater force at work?"
- ―Kastays, from his recordings, as translated by Imperial scientist Grigor Tansad
The Plaque of Victory was a triangular-shaped metal ingot, containing an entity that fed on the life-force and emotions of other living beings and existed solely to bring about the destruction and downfall of those with whom it came into contact. While not being capable of actively harming a living being—being an inanimate object—the Plaque was able to manipulate and influence individuals around it, causing them to experience heightened feelings of aggression, suspicion, and paranoia toward one another. The resulting feelings would culminate in increasing levels of violence and homicidal behavior.
The Plaque of Victory was first discovered on the planet Aaris III, located in the Kathol sector of the Outer Rim Territories, several thousand years before the Galactic Civil War, although it was not native to the planet. The Plaque's influence caused civil unrest among the planet's inhabitants, the Aaris, and the Plaque was hidden by a scholar called Kastays in the hope of negating the Plaque's influences. The plan did not work, and the Aaris descended into civil war. Their civilization fell to ruins, and the Plaque remained hidden for several millennia.
In 8 ABY, an Imperial science team, MS-133, began excavating the ruins on Aaris III. They rediscovered the Plaque of Victory and fell victim to its manipulations until the last two survivors, Lancer Brunou and Solla Deremot, were rescued from the planet by the New Republic CR90 corvette FarStar. Aboard the vessel, the Plaque attempted to spread its influence to the crew; however, the FarStar's personnel realized the cause of their problems and jettisoned the Plaque into space, freeing themselves from the artifact's manipulations.
The Plaque of Victory was a flat ingot made of a metal that was unknown to Imperial science by 8 ABY. Roughly triangular in shape with rounded edges instead of sharp corners, it was heavier at the base end than the apex. The Plaque was around one to two inches thick, increasing as it reached the base, and was a quarter of a meter in length. The base end was pitted, and it emanated a low level of energy. The Plaque was light enough to be held by one person, but large enough to be held by two people at once.
While the Plaque appeared to be an ordinary artifact, it was, in fact, a sentient lifeform. Although not technically "alive" as defined by standard scientific classifications, the Plaque was inhabited by an entity that fed off the life-force and emotions of individuals within close proximity. Its goal was to destroy anyone whom it came into contact with by manipulating the perceptions of those around it, influencing them to act in paranoid and homicidal ways toward one another. Those in range of the Plaque's influence also felt a deep desire to possess the artifact, claiming that it spoke to them. They obsessed over it constantly, believing that they were the "guardian" of the artifact. The entity itself eventually went insane after spending several millennia isolated on Aaris III, a planet in the Kathol sector of the Outer Rim Territories.
Catch a falling star
- "Many who revered it claimed to hear it speak to them. But now that it's in my possession, it speaks not to me. It only shows me things—roiling clouds seeming to enter my chamber and assault me, shadows of doubt rearing their gaping maws from the darkened corners, images from the corner of my eye which seem to threaten…"
- ―Kastays, from his recordings, as translated by Imperial scientist Grigor Tansad
An ancient artifact, the Plaque of Victory arrived on the planet Aaris III in the Kathol sector millennia before the Galactic Civil War. It had come from a distant place, and had traveled through space before arriving at the world by chance. Caught in the planet's gravitational field, it descended to the surface. To the indigenous species—a bipedal reptilian race known as the Aaris—it appeared as if a comet was streaking through the sky. The Plaque was discovered by a military legion from an outpost located several days' travel from a major city; the soldiers took the artifact to the city, placing it in a gushaz—a place of reverence within the Aaris culture. They called it the "Plaque of Victory."
Within the city walls, the Plaque began to have an effect on the populace of the city, manipulating their feelings and whispering to them. Violent crimes began to increase significantly, often resulting in the death of one or more participants. The violence escalated, causing companies of the city guard to turn on both one another and the city's civilian population. The common link in all cases was the Plaque; those affected by its nature claimed that the Plaque had spoken directly to them, and that they had been chosen to be its guardian. As the civil unrest grew, one of the factions that had arisen in the city took the Plaque from its place in the gushaz and relocated it to a tower that was part of a governmental building. This tower was watched over by the noted Aaris scholar Kastays, and it was hoped that by placing the artifact high above the city its effects would be countered.
Kastays locked the Plaque away in his floor safe, in case his tower was overrun by invaders, and then sealed himself in with it. Alone, Kastays recorded the last days of the Aaris civilization as the Plaque's manipulations caused the population to fall into civil war. Eventually, Kastays succumbed to death, and the Plaque remained hidden beneath the floor of his chamber.
Isolation and rediscovery
- "Today we made our most ground-breaking discovery since we arrived here two months ago."
- ―From Lancer Brunou's journal
For millennia, Aaris III was left alone, untroubled by the galaxy at large. Nature claimed the ruins of the Aaris civilization, while the primitive descendants of the once-proud race lived in squalid conditions. As the thousands of years passed, the Plaque remained hidden. Isolated, the entity within the artifact went insane.
In 8 ABY, the Plaque was discovered by members of an Imperial science team, MS-133, who were conducting an archaeological dig on the planet on the orders of Moff Kentor Sarne, the Imperial warlord who ruled over the sector. Upon finding the Plaque within the hidden floor vault, it was examined by the expedition leader, Doctor Lancer Brunou. After finding that it was constructed of no metal known to Imperial science and that energy was emanating from it, he decided to send it to the planet Kal'Shebbol—capital of the Kathol sector—for further analysis.
Rediscovered, the Plaque began to influence the members of the science team. Tensions began to rise within the base camp as individuals began to report feeling ill at ease, and feeling like they were being watched from the jungle surrounding their dig site. Over the course of the next several days, the primitive descendants of the Aaris caused the death or disappearance of several members of the expedition, as well as the destruction of the shuttle that had ferried the team to the planet. The base camp also came under almost nightly assault from the Aaris. Brunou, still in possession of the artifact, did not understand what was going on as he believed that the Aaris civilization was long-extinct, and sent a distress signal to Kal'Shebbol, pleading for extraction from the planet.
The distress call was received by the FarStar, a New Republic CR90 corvette. On Captain Kaiya Adrimetrum's orders, the ship diverted to the planet, rescuing Brunou and one other survivor, a research assistant named Solla Deremot. The pair were taken aboard the corvette, and Brunou took the Plaque of Victory along with him. Brunou had become extremely possessive of the artifact, and Deremot also felt an attraction to it. The pair argued over who should possess the artifact, resorting to violence in the end. With the Plaque aboard the vessel, it began trying to manipulate and influence the members of the FarStar crew. Crew members started to feel uneasy and paranoid, and tensions rose all over the ship. Eventually, they realized that there must have been a common cause to their feelings and reasoned that the artifact that Brunou had brought aboard was to blame. Separating him from the Plaque, members of the crew managed to jettison it out one of the corvette's airlocks, sending it into deep space and breaking its hold over them.
Behind the scenes
The Plaque of Victory was introduced in the RPG adventure Artifact of Aaris that was part of The DarkStryder Campaign, published by West End Games in 1995. The Plaque played a significant role in the adventure, and its attempts to influence both the Imperial science team MS-133 and the crew of the FarStar serve as both the backstory to the adventure and the current predicament that the player-characters have to face and solve.
The images of the Plaque of Victory included in the adventure are drawn to be triangular in shape. However, an entry from Lancer Brunou's journal concerning the artifact indicates that it is "roughly round." This article presumes that the graphical illustration is the correct interpretation of the artifact.
The adventure implies that, under the Plaque of Victory's direction, the members of MS-133 turned upon each other, resulting in multiple deaths and the destruction of the shuttle. However, The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, published in 2008 confirmed that the team came under attack from the remnants of the Aaris civilization.
- "Artifact of Aaris"—The DarkStryder Campaign (First appearance)
- "Artifact of Aaris"—The DarkStryder Campaign, Deluxe