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"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. When the ritual ended, Nathema was no longer a world. It was a husk sucked dry. Lord Vitiate sacrificed millions, stealing their life force to make himself immortal."
―Darth Nyriss[src]

The Ritual of Nathema was the name given by historians of the reconstituted Sith Empire to the event in 4999 BBY, in which the Sith Lord Vitiate performed a dark ritual that stripped the Force itself from the entire planet of Nathema. While Imperial historians saw it as one of the greatest achievements in the history of the Old Sith Empire, the Ritual was actually the result of Vitiate's mental enslavement of over eight thousand Sith Lords. He forced them to participate in the Sith magic that killed every living thing on Nathema and rendered himself immortal.


"But in the aftermath of the war—after our defeat at the hands of the Republic and our flight to escape the massacre of our people by the Jedi—he emerged from his solitude to call a great council of all the Sith Lords who remained."
―Darth Nyriss[src]

In 5000 BBY, the Sith Empire was destroyed by the Galactic Republic in the Great Hyperspace War, and the people of the Empire were terrified that the Republic and their Jedi protectors would not stop until the entire Sith species was wiped out.[1] Supreme Chancellor Pultimo was in the process of orchestrating a purge of the remnants of the Empire,[5][6][7][8] and the Sith Lord Vitiate chose to take advantage of the people's fear. Broadcasting speeches across the Empire that described how the Jedi would not rest until the Sith were destroyed, Vitiate stoked the Empire's terror and then offered them hope:[1] arriving on the planet Korriban,[4] Vitiate sent out a call for all of the remaining Sith Lords to meet with him on his world Nathema, where he promised to lead them in a powerful ritual of Sith magic that would ensure the Jedi Order's destruction. However, Vitiate ordered his scientists and researchers to locate a world upon which the Empire could rebuild without fear of the Jedi following.[1]

The Ritual[]

The surface of Nathema after the devastation

"He turned them into slaves to his will, forcing them to participate in the most complex ritual of Sith sorcery ever attempted. Calling on the dark side, Lord Vitiate devoured them. He fed on their power, absorbing it into himself, utterly obliterating all traces of his victims."
―Darth Nyriss[src]

In 4999 BBY,[2] not long after he returned to Nathema,[4] Vitiate was informed by the head researcher that they had discovered a hyperlane connecting Korriban and the long-lost colony world of Dromund Kaas. Three days later, Vitiate announced the commencement of his ritual,[1] and eight thousand Sith Lords answered his call,[4] including the surviving members of the Empire's ruling Sith Council.[2] However, as each Sith arrived at his palace, Vitiate dominated their minds and bound their wills to his own, placing their strength at his disposal. He then began the ritual itself, which took ten days to perform.[1] To achieve his goal, Vitiate used the central computer of Zildrog, an ancient superweapon from the artificial world of Iokath that specialized in the transfer of life energies, to empower himself at the cost of consuming the life force of every living thing on the planet.[3] The combined power conferred immortality upon Vitiate, granting him immense strength in the Force at the expense of the entire world.[1]


"He lured many Sith Lords here before consuming them in a dark ritual that wiped out all life on the planet."
―Lord Dramath[src]

The only species on Nathema that survived the cataclysm were the voreclaw, semi-sentient insectoid bipeds who lived underground. The voreclaw hive mind was obliterated by the ritual, leaving their colonies nothing more than groups of mindless individuals, who eventually emerged onto the surface driven by the hunger. In the utter absence of any other food, the creatures turned to cannibalism, attacking and eating each other until Vitiate captured the few remaining survivors and stored them in carbonite beneath the Sanitarium.[9] As a result of the Ritual, Nathema was left entirely devoid of the Force, and the physical environment of the planet itself was warped. Color seemed to have leeched from reality to those who stood on its surface, and the planet's orange sun appeared to be a dull brown when viewed through the atmosphere. The newly immortal Vitiate shed his mortal identity and took on the title of Sith Emperor, blaming the devastation of Nathema on the Jedi. He then proceeded to gather the younger generation of the Empire's people before embarking on a twenty-year odyssey from Korriban to Dromund Kaas. After reconstituting the Empire on Dromund Kaas, the Emperor purged all navigation data relating to Nathema in order to ensure that no one discovered the truth of Nathema's fate.[1]

However, members of the Empire's ruling Dark Council eventually discovered the planet's existence and history over a thousand years after the Ritual, and they began a conspiracy to unseat the Emperor and ensure he would never commit such an atrocity again. The conspiracy was destroyed,[1] however, and by the time of the Great Galactic War with the Republic three centuries later, the Ritual of Nathema was celebrated by Imperial historians as a great achievement. The historians were unaware of the actual events of the Ritual, believing that the other Sith Lords had willingly sacrificed their strength on the Emperor's behalf.[4] The Sith Lord Scourge, who had visited Nathema and learned the truth of the Emperor's rise from the conspirator Darth Nyriss,[1] dedicated himself to preventing the Emperor from performing the Sith ritual on a galactic scale during the Galactic War between the Republic and the Empire, and he informed the Jedi High Council of the Ritual's history in order to convince them of his sincerity.[10]

Vitiate meanwhile continued to use Nathema for his own purposes, as unknown to the Sith and the Dark Council he also secretly built another empire, the Eternal Empire on the Wild Space planet of Zakuul under the name Valkorion.[11] Vitiate maintained a Sanitarium on Nathema, in which powerful Force-users who opposed him could be experimented upon, unable to draw on the Force to escape or resist.[12] The Sanitarium was guarded by Nathema Zealots, a secretive group of powerful Force-sensitives able to withstand the horrors of the void in the Force through a regime of daily and intense rituals and meditation.[13] Vitiate kept the holocron with the essence of his father Dramath in the vault beneath the Sanitarium,[11] while another vault under an ancient Sith temple housed Zildrog, whom Vitiate had deactivated after the ritual.[14] Vitiate lived for over thirteen hundred years by moving his consciousness between the host bodies,[15] but around 3630 BBY[16] his spirit was finally destroyed by the combined efforts of the Commander of the Eternal Alliance and Valkorion's biological children, Arcann and Vaylin.[17] His death had a profound effect on Nathema, as the previously lifeless world was miraculously revitalized within a short time. Force-users no longer felt the unsettling "wrongness" upon setting foot on the planet, the air had become fresher, and the weather more dynamic. Most importantly, vibrant plant life from seeds left in the soil had not only taken root but flourished, dramatically altering the planet's once-desolate landscape.[18] Escaped experiments from the Sanitarium gave Nathema some semblance of animal life,[14] while surviving Zealots began settling in the abandoned wilds.[19] Though Nathema had returned to life, experts were unable to determine any precise environmental mechanism that could have brought about such an abrupt change.[18]

Behind the scenes[]

The Ritual of Nathema was first described in Drew Karpyshyn's 2011 novel The Old Republic: Revan, though it was not given a proper name until the release of the BioWareLucasArts video game Star Wars: The Old Republic later that year. One of the in-game Datacrons, holocron-like devices that grant players permanent stat boosts, can be located in the Gorinth Canyon region on the Empire's version of Balmorra, and the corresponding Galactic History entry for the in-game Codex describes the Empire's account of the Ritual of Nathema.[4] The Ritual is also mentioned in the Jedi Knight class mission "An Unthinkable Alliance" during the game, though Lord Scourge does not identify the planet's name.[10]

The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural, a reference book released alongside the game, features Jedi Master Gnost-Dural's investigations into the history of the Emperor, though he was unable to determine exactly what occurred on Nathema.[20] The 2012 reference guide The Essential Reader's Companion mentioned the event during its summary of Karpyshyn's novel,[21] and the Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia also featured a mention of the Ritual.[2] Nathema was later featured in the game's Knights of the Eternal Throne expansion, in which the story of the Ritual was relayed once more by Force spirit of Vitiate's father Dramath.[11] An update set after Vitiate's final death revisited the planet in "The Nathema Conspiracy" flashpoint, which added to the backstory of the Ritual by revealing Zildrog's involvement and showed the void in the Force dissipating and the planet returning to life, indicating that the effects of the Ritual were not irreversible, but lasted only for as long as Vitiate continued to draw his power from Nathema.[14]



Notes and references[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 The Old Republic: Revan
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia
  3. 3.0 3.1 SWTOR mini.png Star Wars: The Old Republic—Codex: "Zildrog"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 SWTOR mini.png Star Wars: The Old Republic—Codex: "Galactic History 31: The Ritual of Nathema"
  5. SWTOR mini.png Star Wars: The Old Republic—Codex: "Galactic History 30: Rise of the Sith Emperor"
  6. Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia
  7. The Essential Atlas
  8. The Essential Guide to Warfare
  9. SWTOR mini.png Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne—Codex: "Voreclaw"
  10. 10.0 10.1 SWTOR mini.png Star Wars: The Old Republic—Jedi Knight Mission: "An Unthinkable Alliance" on Tython
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 SWTOR mini.png Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne—Chapter VII: Into the Void
  12. SWTOR mini.png Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne—Codex: "The Sanitarium"
  13. SWTOR mini.png Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne—Codex: "Nathema Zealots"
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 SWTOR mini.png Star Wars: The Old Republic—Flashpoint: "The Nathema Conspiracy"
  15. SWTOR mini.png Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire—Codex: "Valkorion"
  16. According to SWTOR mini.png Forums: Dear Story Team, What Year Are We Currently In? on The Old Republic's official website (backup link), the events of Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne and Game Updates released in 2016 can be placed in 3630 BBY.
  17. SWTOR mini.png Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne—Chapter IX: The Eternal Throne
  18. 18.0 18.1 SWTOR mini.png Star Wars: The Old Republic—Codex: "Nathema Reborn"
  19. SWTOR mini.png Star Wars: The Old Republic—Codex: "Zealots Without a Master"
  20. The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural
  21. The Essential Reader's Companion
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