The Rakata (also known as the Builders) were a humanoid species with distinctive amphibian features. They were a technologically advanced race that developed early in galactic history, even developing some early hyperdrive technology. Long-term use of the dark side of the Force corrupted their society and turned them into a race of merciless warriors. The Rakata used their potent Force-powered technologies to conquer and enslave every other species they came across throughout their known galaxy. During the reign of their Infinite Empire, they were characterized by their cruelty, savagery, and arrogance. They were known to strip entire planets of their resources, terraform worlds to fit their own shifting needs; to kill entire slave workforces; and to eat and defile the bodies of slain enemies and even members of their own species.
Biology and appearance
- "In all of our travels, never had we encountered a species that lived only to conquer and destroy. The Rakata cannibalized their own."
- ―Master A'nang
In appearance, Rakata were smooth skinned amphibian-like humanoids that had tall craniums along with eyes that protruded from each side of their heads on short stalks. These bipedal beings had three digit hands that were tipped with claws for digging through packed dirt. As a species, they were uniformly lean and close to the same height. Outsiders had some difficulty in distinguishing between individual Rakata although females tended to have a more slender build. The dentition of Rakata, consisting of a multitude of sharp teeth, reflected the carnivorous habits of the members of this species, even known for eating members of sentient species, including other Rakata.
Skin tones amongst their kind tended to be gray or gray-brown. Almost all Rakata had gray or reddish-gray skin, though this was a trait of the dominant lineage of those that survived the ancient plague that thinned their numbers. Among the more rare specimens were the near extinct breeds which included the blue skinned Droot, red striped Ikalik, and black Bukesek. The Rakata were originally a Force-sensitive species, though they became blind to the Force as a result of a plague that afflicted their race.
Rise of the Rakata
- "The Rakata are a pestilence upon the Galaxy that, to our shame, we, the Kwa, unleashed."
- ―Master A'nang
The Rakata species originated on the planet Lehon, a temperate terrestrial world in the Unknown Regions. Many years before 36,453 BBY, the Kwa—a Force-sensitive reptilian species from the planet Dathomir—arrived on Lehon, the homeworld of the Rakata species, via their Infinity Gate technology that allowed the Kwa to travel instantaneously across the galaxy. As they had done on many worlds before, the Kwa became the Rakata's benefactors, teaching them about the Force and giving them advanced technology. Around this time, the Celestials, themselves the backers of the Kwa and then the dominant galactic power, also made the Rakata one of their slave races. However, the Kwa were horrified to realize that Rakata were a cannibalistic race that ignored the Kwa teachings of balance, drawing only on the dark side of the Force. Pairing their aggression and desire for conquest with the Kwa technology, the Rakata expanded out from Lehon and began to conquer other worlds in the Unknown Regions. The establishment of their Infinite Empire was centered on their homeworld of Lehon, and they used Force-based hyperdrives to travel to worlds with strong Force signatures.
The Infinite Empire, as the Rakata called themselves, targeted worlds that were rich with the Force, which they conquered and then enslaved their populations. The Rakata developed technology that allowed them to induce fear and hatred in Force-sensitive beings, and they used the Force-sensitive slaves among the populations they conquered to fuel their warships and technology by placing them in machines that converted the slaves' dark-side emotions into energy. Desiring the Kwa's Infinity Gate technology, they turned on their benefactors when the Kwa refused—and in the resultant battle on Lehon, many Kwa died holding off the Rakatan warriors so that they could destroy the gate on Lehon.
Though the exact circumstances of the Infinite Empire's rise to dominance were lost by 0 BBY, Pre-Republic specialists like Doctor Insmot Bowen generally accepted that the Rakata made war upon the Celestials and fought to exterminate them. Building an enormous space station known as the Star Forge over the star Abo in the Lehon system—a factory powered by the dark side that produced warships and technology for the empire—the Rakata spread out over the Unknown Regions and into the eastern galaxy by 35,000 BBY.
Some hypotheses over the hyperspace turbulence west of the Galactic Core that later stopped Republic exploration of the Unknown Regions claimed that it was created by the Celestials in an effort to hold back the upstart Rakata. Despite the best efforts of the Celestials, in time, their influence declined at the hands of the Rakata. The ancient grimoires of the Gree Enclave recorded that the Rakata, whom they identified as the "Soul Hunters," unleashed curses on the Celestials, which they called the "Gray Swallowing" and the "Faceless Mouths," and further referred to them as the "Hollowers of Beings" and the "Eaters of Worlds." By 33,600 BBY, the Celestials had vanished from the galaxy, and the Infinite Empire had taken center stage.
The Infinite Empire
- "I am Rakata—it is the name of my people. Eons ago, our Infinite Empire ruled this world and so many others."
- ―The Imprisoned One
At its zenith, the Infinite Empire linked over five hundred Force-rich worlds all across the galaxy. Their extensive civilization was spread across countless star systems and was much larger than later-era empires. Through the use of dark-side-fueled technologies such as Force-powered hyperdrive, the Builders' Infinite Empire dominated known space for thousands of years. Many of the most prominent worlds of the galaxy were included in this empire, such as Corellia, Honoghr, Generis, Hijarna, Xo, and Dantooine. However, their hyperdrives could only visit worlds possessing strong Force signatures, resulting in huge voids between their conquered worlds. The haphazard nature of their empire allowed numerous other civilizations to flourish, and loose confederacies of other civilizations developed in the spaces between Rakatan worlds through the use of dangerous as well as unpredictable hyperdrive technology.
Being a warlike and cruel race, the great danger posed by the Rakata was the fact that they were strong in the Force along with being technologically advanced. They were known to enslave or wipe out every civilization they encountered. They were also known to have had been both cruel and manipulative masters of those they enslaved. At its height, the Empire's population numbered ten billion Rakatan warriors and one trillion slaves. Among its conquests were the Selkath of Manaan, Wookiees of Kashyyyk, Kumumgah of Tatooine, Noghri of Honoghr, Humans of Coruscant, and the natives of the Corellian sector. By transporting these slave species to new worlds, the Rakata were believed to have inadvertently seeded swaths of the galaxy with sentient life. Furthermore, they made use of Coruscanti workers and Corellian slaves to create weapons of colossal scale. On Mygeeto millennia ago, beautiful crystal formations were shaped by slaves of the Infinite Empire to commemorate a long-forgotten victory. At its peak, nearly five hundred conquered worlds paid tribute to the Rakata Infinite Empire.
The forest world of Kashyyyk was one world captured by the Empire, and the Rakata installed a terraforming computer on the planet to manipulate Kashyyyk's wroshyr trees. However, the computer lost contact with the Rakata in 33,598 BBY, and over two hundred years later it malfunctioned, causing a hyper-acceleration in the growth of the wroshyrs. When the Rakata encountered Dathomir, the homeworld of the Kwa, they brutally subjugated the world in revenge for the Kwa's destruction of their Infinity Gates across the galaxy, and as a result the Kwa eventually devolved into the simpleminded Kwi lizards. According to the beliefs of the Nightsisters, the usage of the Kwa Infinity Gates created unnatural voids and wounds to Dathomir that saw the Spirits call the Infinite Empire to the planet. Their arrival decimated the Kwa who were transformed into an animal state by the action of the Spirits.
Intrigued by the enormous rancors native to Dathomir, the Infinite Empire transported a number of them back to Lehon as curiosities, and they also succeeded in driving the Gree—another spacefaring species at the time—all the way back to their home cluster. The Infinite Empire introduced a rancor to the planet Gamorr, where it became a mythological creature in the culture of the native Gamorreans. The Infinite Empire turned the planet Belsavis into a prison world, using stasis technology to entomb monsters, warlords, and other powerful entities. The first prisoner of Belsavis—and the reason the prison was constructed—was the World Razer, a mysterious being whose hunger supposedly consumed a thousand worlds. According to inscriptions in the Tomb, which was the Galactic Republic's term for the primary Rakatan prison complex, it took the entire Infinite Empire to subdue the World Razer.
At some unknown point, the Infinite Empire came under threat from a marauding horde of aliens known as the Esh-kha. These aliens raided world after world where they destroyed their inhabitants before continuing their campaign. Such actions led to the loss of several Rakatan slave worlds to the Esh-kha before the Infinite Empire assembled its military might to challenge this threat. The Rakata hated the Esh-kha and referred to them as a plague on the galaxy due to their actions. The resultant conflict engulfed the entire galaxy and led to the near extinction of the Esh-kha. Only a hundred thousand survivors lived by the time the Infinite Empire won the war with these remaining Esh-kha being imprisoned on Belsavis where they were placed in stasis. The technology preserved the species but left them conscious with the Rakata believing that such a punishment would teach the Esh-kha the error of their ways. The reputation of the Esh-kha led to the Infinite Empire even imprisoning Hallow Voice and his peaceful Esh-kha followers on Belsavis. The great victory achieved by the Infinite Empire led to the Rakata creating a monument on the planet Hoth that contained an interactive hologram that spoke of their victory over the Esh-kha.
During their period of expansion, the Rakata encountered the Sith species of Korriban. At first, the Rakata were wary, and they pretended to ally themselves with the warlord Adas, going so far as to show him how to construct the pyramidal Sith holocron. In time, Adas learned that the invaders were bent on conquest. Unifying the Sith, King Adas led a revolt against the Rakata invaders and subsequently acquired their technology as well as that of Holocrons. When the two species went to war, he managed to lead the Sith to victory and drive the Rakata from Korriban, but at the expense of his life. Though defeated, the Rakata had devastated Korriban, which led to the Sith's relocation to Ziost. The actions of the Infinite Empire led to the Sith truly embracing the dark side, and their conflict prompted the pureblooded Sith to form a splinter cult that became convinced by their interactions with the Rakata that all sentient species were Force-sensitive. At some point, a Rakata called Soa formed his own empire that was based at Korriban that served as his throne. However, the Infinite Empire later imprisoned him in the Eternity Vault on Belsavis, where he became known as the Infernal One.
The height of the Rakata was reached around 25,793 BBY, when their Infinite Empire had reached its zenith. By that time, they had meddled in the ecosystems of many of the worlds under their reign ranging from Kashyyyk to Tatooine and Vagar Praxut. The surface of Kashyyyk was specifically terraformed by the Rakata for agricultural purposes. In contrast, worlds such as Duro and Morseer were stripped bare during the height of the Infinite Empire. At some point, they took control over the planet Byss, which became their stronghold for exploring the forbidden reaches of the Deep Core. It was here that they discovered a powerful world deep in the Core that was thought impossible to reach.
Encountering the Je'daii
- "My Hound, Trill, claims she has sensed a Force-rich world within the Deep Core."
- ―Predor Skal'nas
At the Infinite Empire's peak, the Rakata used slaves trained as Force Hounds. They were beings trained in the dark side meant to locate planets strong in the Force. Such was the case of Tython, located by Xesh, the servant of Predor Tul'kar. In this time the Force Hound Trill claimed to have detected a world incredibly strong in the Force, but that it was impossible to reach from the twisting lanes caused by the black holes and stars. Xesh was sent to reach this planet by Predor Skal'nas. Tython was an isolated planet with a population of trained Force-sensitives calling themselves Je'daii. The Je'daii strove to balance their actions between dark and light, lest they ignite massive Force Storms across the entire planet. Xesh made it to Tython, but his dark presence shifted the balance of the planet, causing an intense planet-wide storm. This storm both alerted the Je'daii and damaged the ship, resulting in its crash and destruction on Tython. The servant of the Rakata was the lone survivor and immediately was confronted by Je'daii.
- «During the collapse of the Rakata Empire, the warlords unleashed weapons of terrible destruction that threatened to drive our species to extinction.»
- ―Rakatan Elder to Revan[src]
After generations of galactic supremacy, the Infinite Empire began to fracture and by circa 25,200 BBY the Rakatan empire imploded. Constant tensions between internal factions suddenly erupted into a devastating civil war caused by the Star Forge's corrupting influence. Already weakened by warfare, the Rakata were suddenly struck by a deadly plague that spread rapidly through their ranks and decimated the species. It was later theorized that the disease was created by a slave species because it had only infected the Builders themselves. The virulent plague nearly exterminated the Rakata and brought the Infinite Empire to its knees, yet the worst was yet to come. The Rakata suddenly and inexplicably began to lose their connection to the Force. Worse, they were unable to uncover the source of their failing sensitivity. Rakatan scientists came up with numerous speculative hypotheses to explain their worsening condition, but in the end, all of their guesses proved incorrect. In time, it would be revealed that a mysterious mutation in the plague had caused it to strip the Builders of their powers.
Thus, the rapid expansion of the Rakata came to an abrupt end when this strange plague swept through their species. Millions died as a result and those that survived had lost their connection to the Force. As the Force users were culled from the overall population at an ever increasing rate, the Rakata lost their ability to manipulate their own technology. Soon, they were forced to rely on inferior devices that were not dependent on the Force. Sensing weakness, slave species rebelled in large-scale insurrections on many member worlds and stemmed the total collapse of the Infinite Empire in 25,200 BBY. As a result of this vulnerability, the Rakata were unable to suppress the massive outbreak of violent slave rebellions and uprisings against their rule. The nearly decimated Rakata could do nothing but abandon their conquests and retreat to the safety of their homeworld of Lehon. Some Rakata castoffs survived the fall of the Infinite Empire in the Tion Cluster as late as 25,100 BBY, allowing Tion Humans access to their Force-sensitive technology.
The loss of the Force combined with facing near extinction led the Rakata to retreat to their homeworld. By this point, the Lehon system was protected by a disruptor field that could disable any incoming ship's communications and navigational systems. The field, operated from the summit of a Temple on the surface of Lehon, was originally constructed to protect the Star Forge, but it was now used to protect the Rakata themselves. On their homeworld, Rakatan civilization rapidly faded into obscurity and barbarism. On Lehon, a few thousand Rakata survivors seemingly represented all that remained of the Infinite Empire who remained on their hidden homeworld, where they descended into barbarity. Their infighting amongst themselves brought the remains of their civilization to even further ruin. After the global war ended, all that remained were a number of barbaric tribes. These savage Rakata dominated their isolated homeworld for the next twenty thousand years. Some of the tribes lived contently alone deep within the jungles whilst others aggressively expanded and conquered the other tribes in an effort to unite the world under a single warlord. However, each time this occurred, a revolt would erupt among the subtribes, and the cycle of conquest repeated itself again and again. Warlords devastated the surface of the planet with weapons of mass destruction, and the majority of the Rakata were forced to flee underground. Years later, when the Rakata resurfaced, they called themselves Black Rakata, such as The One and his people. Only the descendants of the Priest Caste, the Elders tribe, remained on the surface protected by their ancient temples and enclaves. They were called Red Rakata by the other Rakata tribes. They alone retained full knowledge of the potent technology and turbulent history of their species.
In the following centuries, the Builders were purposely erased from the records of their slave subjects, and the Infinite Empire slipped from the pages of galactic history. In time, the liberated worlds destroyed the Rakata's creations and records so that all trace and knowledge of them was wiped from the greater galaxy. A number of Rakata tribes in the Unknown Regions were known to have stolen whatever they were capable of carrying from the storehouses of the idle Star Forge before fleeing in advance of the nuclear war that emerged between the warrior and priest classes. These refugees would later settle a region of space that became known as the Rakatan Archipelago. A small group of Rakata remained on the prison world of Belsavis, where they created an artificial intelligence called the Mother Machine which created entire species in a desperate attempt to recreate the lost Rakatan Force-sensitivity. With the collapse of the Rakata Empire, reverse engineering began on the Rakatan hyperdrives, which led to a second wave of colonization that enveloped a small patch of the Core. In 12,293 BBY, an expedition to Tandun III led by Doctor Beramsh encountered a planet that was studded with ruins of ancient population centers. Beramsh posited that these structures were built by the Rakata.
- "The few surviving Rakata declined to leave their ancestral home, and their numbers were insufficient to maintain a viable gene pool. Within a few generations, the long, slow extinction of their species was finally complete."
- ―From the official Republic threat dossier regarding the planet Lehon
The surviving Rakata devolved into barbarism and eventually forgot how to operate their own technology. More than 20,000 years after the fall of the Infinite Empire, most Rakata had only just begun to reemerge onto the surface, yet the Elders Tribe still thrived within their secluded compound. After millennia of solitude and contemplation, the Elders desired to destroy their great factory so that they could finally put their bloody past behind them, but there was a problem. They could no longer enter their own Temple of the Ancients, the nexus of their collected knowledge and the key to accessing the Star Forge, because the Force was lost to them.
Darth Revan and Darth Malak's timely arrival in the system gave the Elders a perfect opportunity. Promising to destroy the Star Forge, Revan entered the temple, but he betrayed the Elders' trust and took the space station for himself. Around 3959 BBY, he harnessed the full power of the Star Forge and began a massive military invasion of the Galactic Republic that would culminate in the Jedi Civil War. Meanwhile, the Rakata were forced to watch their species' actions repeat themselves through Revan, powerless to stop it. Their Temple and Star Forge became the dwellings of dark-side users once more. Yet Revan returned, unlooked-for, three years later and redress that betrayal. A redeemed Revan ended the Sith occupation of the Rakatan temple and deactivated the planet's disruptor field so that the Star Forge could be destroyed by a Republic fleet. He also aided the Rakata's efforts to regain their lost Force sensitivity, which they believed would eventually allow them to rejoin the galactic community.
Following the destruction of the Star Forge, these Rakata joined the Galactic Republic leading to some leaving their homeworld along with their brethren behind on Lehon in order to rejoin a technologically advanced society. These travelers spread stories about their ancient society though few believed or took notice of them. By this age, there were still surviving Rakata, but the secrets of their ancient forebears and question on the collapse of their empire remained a mystery. Some believed Revan had uncovered a great deal about the Rakata, but his knowledge became lost when he departed known space. Because all records of the Infinite Empire were lost to time, some were skeptical of the notion that the seemingly primitive beings had once ruled hundreds of worlds and dominated the galaxy. Lehon's planetary population would continue to dwindle in time. This led to the Rakata of Lehon slowly dying out, as there were too few to maintain their species, but the few colonies they founded on other planets after their rediscovery managed to survive. By 1000 BBY, the Rakata on Lehon died out and became extinct, leaving the refugee-started "Rakatan Archipelago as the only survivors".
Legacy of the Builders
- "You think this is plausible? I thought half of that stuff was a myth. I mean, the Rakatans?"
- ―Khedryn Faal to Jaden Korr
Though seemingly extinct on Lehon, the legacy of the Rakata still had an impact on the galaxy in later years. Scientists considered the belief that the Rakatan Infinite Empire being part of fringe science at best though some noted their similarity to the machinery located within the Kashyyyk Shadowlands. In the Cold War, numerous attempts were made at uncovering Rakatan relics with an Imperial Reclamation Service effort on Tatooine discovering an archaeological mission conducted by Czerka Corporation. They in turn had recovered the prison that contained the mind of The Imprisoned One, who was accidentally released. This Rakata intended to begin the age of a new Infinite Empire through the advanced technology available to him until he was defeated.
During the attack on Belsavis, the Eternity Vault was pierced, leading to combat with the Infernal One, Soa. Warden Gorshaa was a Rakata still alive in the deep levels of Belsavis, where he encountered a Sith Inquisitor and offered the Sith knowledge on controlling their capabilities on the condition that the Imperial submitted their genetic material to the Mother Machine. Another Rakata still alive was Lhunu, who intended to repent for his people's crimes by freeing the Esh-kha Hallow Voice and his followers with the aid of the Scorekeeper's Herald. The Rakatan machinery in the Deep Prisons was also being sabotaged by the Esh-kha, who attempted to free more of their kin which led to Rakata holographic interface requesting travelers in repairing the machinery. The Sith in the meantime attempted to recover Rakatan memory cores in order to discern the technology used to create the prison in order to duplicate the feat so that the Empire could build their own prison world. Around this time, Revan sought the destruction of the Sith and marshalled the Order of Revan cult to serve him. Their actions saw them use Rakata technology to create the powerful cyborgs of the Infinite Army with the Revanites establishing a base on Rakata Prime. A number of the native savage Rakata served Revan and battled those forces seeking to stop his plans.
By the time Darth Bane arrived on Lehon in search of Darth Revan's Sith Holocron, the planet was completely devoid of sentient life. The Sith Lord Darth Plagueis was known to have collected the ancient history of the Rakata and remarked to his Sith apprentice Darth Sidious that they had made the Force subservient to their will whilst never pronouncing judgment over their works.
Among the only survivors of this race remained within the Unknown Regions in the Rakatan Archipelago. No Republic surveyors ever located this area of space, whilst many of the local species were abused by this pocket civilization. The other powers of the Unknown Regions were largely unaware and ignorant of the threat of these Rakata, though the Rakata themselves would avoid the Vagaari when possible. The few Rakata that remained in this space consisted of a scattering of planets where these Rakata tribes continued their ancient struggles. While most tribes were primitive and were restricted to a single planet, some had rediscovered the secrets of space flight; two tribes had even begun construction on small (half-kilometer) orbital factories similar in function to the Star Forge. Other tribes had wiped themselves or each other out with weapons they no longer understood, leaving worlds wastelands. It was believed that if any of these Rakata found a way of restoring their primeval technology, then they may have brought about the rise of the Infinite Empire once more.
Agents of the One Sith discovered Rakatan ruins in the Unknown Regions and pillaged Mindspears from them at some point before 41.5 ABY. Lessons about the Rakata were taught to students of the Jedi academy, where it was known that their Infinite Empire collapsed as the result of some great catastrophe. In that time, Jaden Korr encountered a structure that Marr Idi-Shael believed may have been Rakatan in origin. They later confirmed its ties with the Rakata and encountered the entity known as Mother.
The Rakata remained as one of the most important species for professors in the fields of planetary archaeology and xenoanthropology as they held a link to a long-ago past that changed the galaxy forever. By later eras, there were only a few scant ruins of their civilization which were scattered around the galaxy and provided a source of interest for archaeologists and historians.
- «The Rakata are by nature a cruel and savage species.»
- ―Rakata computer to Revan[src]
By nature, the Rakata were conquerors, with many agreeing that they showed outward signs of malice, and their violent cores erupted to the surface if pushed. Enraged Rakata were incapable of being reasoned with and ignored their own injuries in their desire to destroy those they believed to be their enemies. Their species had shown a methodical malice in their interactions with other races. Later-era Rakata, though often primitive, knew they were once much more powerful and so were driven by a great desire to restore their species to its former glory. These Rakata were seemingly at a disadvantage in galactic society due to their primitive upbringing though their intelligence allowed them to learn to use advanced technology.
Worlds strong in the Force were sought out by Force-sensitives called Force Hounds. Once located, these worlds were explored by the Rakata and as many natives as possible enslaved through the use of technological show of force. Following the planet's capitulation, the Rakata used the same equipment to strip-mine the planet of its metals, ores, compressed gasses and radioactive plasma. Their ships typically arrived on rich unspoiled biospheres, and thus the Rakata seldom had to deal with advanced civilizations. At the height of the Infinite Empire, political and military maneuvering was a bloody game. Predor Tul'kar had an incredibly powerful Force Hound and would kill any who dared to claim his services, including a superior like Skal'nas, and even killed and ate his spies when they were too obvious about their treachery. As such Skal'nas had spies in his ranks and was known by his own people's standards to be brutal, having risen through the ranks by sheer will and determination. Predors laid claim to the planet they conquered, both the honor of conquest and the spoils that came with it; and they were particularly defensive and aggressive about keeping their claims, willing to challenge their superiors in order to remind them who had the claim.
The species was divided into numerous classes with the ruling group being their priest class, the members of which wore long robes with electronic control devices on their forearms and were responsible for deciphering dead texts. In contrast, members of the warrior class typically wore angular plastoid armor and carried shocklances. Those born in more primitive tribes tended to wear armor made of wood and twine, often brandishing fire-blackened spears. This division between thinkers and soldiers existed even among the most backward planets under Rakata rule. Warriors tended to be darkly suspicious of the priests, whom they saw as harnessing powers beyond comprehension, whilst the priests in turn were wary of the warriors, who they believed possessed great physical strength yet lacked brains.
As a result of the ancient plague that decimated the species, Rakata of later eras were all Force-blind. They longed to restore their Force-sensitivity and felt this loss on a spiritual level, describing it as a black hole in their chests that consumed their life, contentment and happiness. The priest class adopted a more practical approach, as all their ancient technology operated to its fullest potential by way of Force aptitude which meant they could no longer fully control their own technology. This led scientists from the priest class to experiment on living beings in an attempt to discern the Force's essence. These experiments took the form of dissection of animals and grafting of tissue into prisoners' bodies. The crimes of these vivisectionists did not go unnoticed, and as such these Rakata in the Unknown Regions had a monstrous reputation for brutality. This reputation was the reason many indigenous populations fought fiercely against their Rakatan overmasters.
Rakatan society was organized into a tribal structure with each tribe following its own goals. Some were obsessed with finding new ways to try and reconnect to the Force, while others disregarded their past and as a result became more primitive. Within some worlds in the Rakatan Archipelago, priests and warrior classes united to wield the wondrous inventions of their ancestors. Among these enlightened worlds, the day-to-day bloodshed was lessened though the urge to reclaim their lost glories was powerful. On other worlds, the schism between the two classes led to open conflict, with the warring factions using weapons they barely understood that left the landscape pitted and glowing with radioactivity. Among these were barbarous tribes that believed their worlds represented all of creation and made war against other native species.
The Rakata spoke their own native tongue known as Rakata. Despite this, they were intelligent enough to pick up new information, including other languages, quickly. This was especially true of members of the priest class, who were more likely to understand the speech of outsiders.
- «Surely you know the glory of the Builders and their Infinite Empire. The fury of their weapons surpassed even my own might.»
- ―The World Razer[src]
Ancient Rakata relied upon Force-powered technology to conquer many worlds. The Rakata's rise to power was fueled by a range of advanced devices that married the Force to high technology. Amongst these wonders of their forebears were planetary disruptor fields, builder droids and skipships. They were considered one of a dozen ancient races that had developed self-aware automata. In fact, the Infinite Empire did not see the Force and technology as being concepts at odds with one another. They were known to have built self-aware machines powered in part by Force energies. It was recorded that the Rakata had at some point used mechano-organic technology elements that was infused with the dark side. Their prison facility on Belsavis made use of teleportation technology that allowed a quick means of transportation from one site to another. In addition, they developed a form of stasis technology that left individuals immobile though conscious of events and preserved them for centuries, a technology they used as a means of imprisonment. Furthermore, they were able to generate massive power cores as seen on Belsavis that drew energy from hyperspace and, if overloaded, were capable of destroying an entire star system with the effects spreading to nearby systems. The Builders were rumored to have been one of the first species to develop energy shields and were credited with the invention of the earliest form of the interstellar hyperdrive. The Rakatan drive, however, was a severely limited device due to the fact that it relied on the Force to function. It was only capable of perceiving and traveling to worlds with a significant Force signature (i.e., a high degree of native life). As such, the number of worlds under the Rakata's thumb was limited, though diverse, and far flung.
Star Maps were placed on conquered worlds as a lasting monument to the power and scope of the Infinite Empire. Like many Rakatan technologies, the Star Maps were self-sustaining and capable of regeneration. Terraforming machines were also frequently used to modify a conquered world's climate, geology, flora, and fauna to meet the Builder's needs. In so doing, the Rakata transformed entire worlds and greatly influenced the development of native species. Temples were built on several worlds, such as Honoghr, Dantooine, and Lehon. The purpose of some of these temples was to house the Star Maps. The purpose of the Honoghr temple was unknown. One of the Rakata's most interesting inventions was a "mind prison," a peculiar box that trapped the mind of its victim. The only way for a prisoner to escape (a flaw discovered by a Rakata imprisoned for an exceptionally long time) was to take over the body of the next being to foolishly open the box. Revan very nearly suffered this fate after playing with one such device, but after winning a game of riddles with the Rakatan captive, he was released. Unfortunately, he could not figure out how to save the prisoner from bondage without imprisoning a replacement.
A virtually endless stream of supplies was needed to expedite the expansion of the Rakatan empire. This led to the creation of their greatest achievement that was needed to build anything its creators desired. To this end, the Rakata created the Star Forge in 30,000 BBY. The Star Forge was the centerpiece of the Rakatan empire and the most advanced of their technological innovations. It was a massive space station fueled by the Lehon system's star and built for the mass production of war hardware. It alone was capable of meeting the entire Empire's demand for starships and war droid construction, yet such efficiency came at a terrible price. The Star Forge was, in part, powered by the dark side of the Force and was, therefore, highly corruptive. Rakatan scientists and engineers allowed the Star Forge to have access to near-limitless supplies of energy because they believed that they could control it, but they were wrong. As a semi-living entity, the Star Forge gorged on dark-side energies, and with time, it began to feed itself by manipulating its own creators. Later historians grew to believe that the Rakata had not invented the hyperdrive, but had taken it from the technology of the Celestials, who had predated their Empire by several millennia.
Behind the scenes
The Rakata were created for the game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Before that, there were references to (unnamed) aliens who, according to Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, gave hyperspace technology to Humans. According to The New Essential Chronology, the Rakata were the original creators of the hyperdrive. The Corellians, Duros, and various other civilizations adopted and modified it for their own needs after the fall of the Infinite Empire. However, the book refers to the mysterious Celestials separately from the Rakata.
In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, the player can find a Rakatan Band which has a description that reads:
"This simple device improves the wearer's ability to perceive the reality of their surroundings. The origin behind the item's name is unknown, but rumor has it that these bands were constructed as a defense against an ancient species of alien deceivers, who made absurd claims of dominance concerning their role in the galaxy. It is said this species of lying primitives went so far as to take credit for almost every major event in galactic history since the discovery of the hyperdrive."
The statement above obviously implies that the Rakata made some contact with the greater galactic community between the games Knights of the Old Republic (3956 BBY) and Knights of the Old Republic II (3951 BBY).
The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia claimed that the Rakata and their culture were completely wiped out by the Galactic Republic. While this can be partially true, the book The Unknown Regions later established that remnants of the Rakata had fled to the Rakatan Archipelago.
The Rakata's origins are revealed in Supernatural Encounters: The Trial and Transformation of Arhul Hextrophon by Joseph Bongiorno. They were bred from Ongree abducted from Skustell and Gungans captured on Lehon, the Rakata (meaning “those who strike”) were reared to be rigidly hierarchical, cannibalistic, and intelligent. The Rakata took over Lehon from the Gungans, who escaped to Naboo.