Ryloth, also known as Twi'lek, and Twi'lek Prime, was the harsh, rocky homeworld of the Twi'leks, an Outer Rim Territories world located on the Corellian Run and forming one endpoint of the Death Wind Corridor. One side of the planet perpetually faced its sun and the other remained in darkness, a phenomenon known as tidal locking. The dayside was referred to as the Bright Lands and the night-side was known as the Nightlands.
Ryloth, the second planet in the Ryloth system, possessed a thin, but breathable atmosphere. The planet was orbited by five moons, which had subtle tidal effects on the planet's liquid core and underground springs. It had little or no surface water except for patches of water ice on the night side.
It was a planet of extremes: dry, rocky landscapes of deserts, mountain ranges with mist-covered peaks, shadowy valleys, alternated with snowy wastes, joined by lush temperate bands which concentrated much of its population.
Because of its unusual day-night rotation period, atmospheric conditions on Ryloth's surface were characterized by turbulent seasons and extremely high winds (reaching 500 kilometers per hour) scouring the surface and sculpting the landscape and unpredictable bursts of heat called heat storms, which could reach 300 degrees Celsius. The more extreme heat storms sometimes moved across the terminator and reached miles underground, making caves near the surface temporarily uninhabitable, before eventually dying out on the night side.
Along the terminator lay a thin habitable border, a twilight realm between the two extremes. Along this narrow strip were the series of caverns where some of the Twi'leks decided to build their underground cities, blockaded with thick blast doors and portcullises to keep out the vicious monsters that prowled the Bright Lands, especially lyleks.
The Floating Rock Gardens of Ryloth were a natural wonder and tourist attraction, well known throughout the Outer Rim, where strong winds blew among the tunnels, causing rocks to float gently through the air. Over the years the gardens became filled with rare and dazzling stones. Visitors were allowed to rearrange the stones to their liking, but were encouraged to seek meaning in the natural configurations.
Ryloth had several native non-sentient species, most of which were fierce and predatory for survival on a planet with such a harsh environment. The lylek was easily the most dangerous predator native to Ryloth, with their hard shelled insectoid bodies and sharp limbs and extremely strong tentacles. They were one of only a few creatures able to withstand the extreme temperatures of the Bright Lands.
The doashim was another fierce predator that inhabited the dark subterranean caverns of Ryloth. They were horned, red-eyed, sharp-clawed and fanged creatures reminiscent of demons from the lore of many different sentient species across the galaxy. The gutkurr were fast, two-legged creatures with hard-shelled carapaces with spines protruding from their backs. They were predatory creatures feared by the Twi'leks.
One of the few non-aggressive creatures of Ryloth was the rycrit, which were short-furred quadrupeds kept as herd animals by the Twi'leks. They were raised for their hides, which could be used for clothing, and for their meat which was often used in rycrit stew.
Ryloth was originally discovered by Old Republic explorers approximately 10,000 years before the onset of the Clone Wars and was one of the first worlds discovered in the Outer Rim. Located at one end of the Corellian Run, it was one of the few worlds of the galaxy further from the Galactic Core than Tatooine.
Civilization on Ryloth at the time of its discovery was not particularly advanced. Twi'leks integrated windmills and turbines to power their homes and industries carved out of the mountains. The cultivation of fungi and molds provided nourishment for the populace, as did the rearing of the domesticated herd animals rycrits for meat. Twi'leks never developed space travel, but instead expanded throughout the galaxy by trading with the Republic, variously negotiating, charming, or seducing their way to the stars.
Life of enslavement
The slave trade had been an everyday part of life on Ryloth for millennia and persisted long after its contact with the Republic sometime in 10,000 BBY. Dancing girls were especially prized, and as Twi'lek communities were established throughout the Republic and elsewhere, they found numerous eager markets. The slaves were often sold by 'contract,' as a feeble way of evading antislavery laws.
Female Twi'lek consorts and companions soon became a status symbol among the rich and the decadent throughout the Galactic Republic and eventually the Galactic Empire. The slave trade remained profitable all throughout Ryloth's history, and though the early slavers were Twi'leks, over the years many alien crime lords migrated to Ryloth for a piece of the action.
Twi'leks of all professions eventually became a common, even ubiquitous, sight all over the galaxy, as businesspeople, servants, bodyguards, majordomos and slaves. Their near-Human appearance made them less a target of anti-alien prejudice than others during the Imperial era.
The Anx crime lord Graxol Kelvyyn had his headquarters on Ryloth shortly before the onset of the Clone Wars. He was known for having a vast slave-trading network that covered the Outer Rim and even reached Kidiet Olgo in the Galactic Core.
The major export of Ryloth, and the product which sustained its early trade, was the mineral known as ryll, a potent spice, discovered in 4800 BBY, which was mined and originally distributed for medicinal use. Ryll was found in 'blooms' in the rock rather than veins, typical of most ores. Miners placed their mines underneath the blooms and drilled up. Ryll's highly addictive nature and hallucinogenic properties also made it a favorite recreational substance among the scoundrels and decadent nobles of the galaxy. A particularly popular and addictive mixture was glitteryll, a synthetic mixture of ryll and glitterstim which had a strong numbing effect on memory. Ryll and glitteryll were outlawed on most Republic worlds, but the demand was great enough to sustain a healthy black market. Crime lords and slavers turned their attention to ryll smuggling operations and began competing with legitimate miners. By the time of the Jedi Civil War, most legitimate ryll mining operations were gone, leaving only the smugglers.
The exclusive distribution rights to ryll were temporarily seized by the Neimoidians around 4800 BBY. Though it was thought this might end the perilous illegal ryll trade, it had quite the opposite effect. Irresponsible distribution of the drug eventually led to the Gank Massacres.
Jedi Knights on Ryloth
In 44 BBY, Jedi Master Tholme and Quinlan Vos were sent to Ryloth under orders to stop illegal animal smuggling. There they met a Force-sensitive infant Twi'lek named Aayla Secura. She was taken and later trained by Quinlan Vos.
Later in 32 BBY, Vos and Aayla, now his Padawan, discovered an illegal glitteryll smuggling operation masterminded by Pol Secura (Aayla's uncle), Bib Fortuna, and Senator Chom Frey Kaa, using energy spider eggs taken from Kessel. Using the mental abilities of the Kiffar Asanté Vos and large doses of glitteryl, Pol Secura wiped their memories and kept Aayla as a dancer in his estate. Eventually, Vos recovered his memories and returned to Ryloth to retrieve his Padawan.
Ryloth in the Republic
Ryloth was represented in the Galactic Senate by Senators Connus Trell and Orn Free Taa, who succeeded the controversial Chom Frey Kaa. Senator Free Taa, a strong Loyalist, kept Ryloth under the Republic's protection by supporting most of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine's decrees, including the Military Creation Act.
During the Clone Wars, Ryloth was invaded by the Confederacy of Independent Systems and was used to house a large droid reclamation facility under the eye of Wat Tambor. At first the Republic Garrison, under the command of Jedi General Ima-Gun Di and Clone Capt. Keeli fought the droids alongside Twi'lek freedom fighters under Gen. Cham Syndulla to protect the refugees. Unfortunately, supplies were running low and the droid army was closing in on their position. When a Republic fleet under Admiral Dao failed to make it past the Ryloth blockade, Gen. Di decided to sacrifice himself and his command to buy the Twi'leks time to escape. Though Gen. Di and his command perished, supplies sent from Toydaria reached the refugees. After the droids took control of Ryloth, the Twi'leks were taken captive and some were used as human shields for the droid army. The seizure was officially protested by Senator Orn Free Taa, and public opinion on Ryloth itself was bitterly divided. The battle was short, but Ryloth's towns were left heavily damaged by droid bombers. Eventually, the planet became the site of a battle in 19 BBY during the Outer Rim Sieges.
The anti-alien prejudice of the Galactic Empire was clear to the inhabitants of Ryloth. Human High Culture thought little of aliens, but Ryloth shrewdly played the role of loyal servant to the Empire, while quietly and unobtrusively aiding the Rebel Alliance. These were dark times for the Twi'leks, however, as even members of the most influential clans were enslaved, losing all their property and influence to entertain and see to the needs of Imperial bureaucrats and governors.
For a time, roughly the same year as the Battle of Yavin, the Rebellion operated a base on Ryloth. It was located by Viper probe droids, prompting an attack by an Imperial task force, which infiltrated and wiped out the installation, despite strong resistance from the Rebels and even from immigrant Jawas.
In 2 ABY, Tyneir Renz, Padija Anjeri, Nikaede Celso, and Drake Paulsen brought the crystal skull of Twi'lek Jedi Newar Forrth to the Rebel base on Derora. Renz presented the skull to the Nercathi clan on Ryloth to persuade them to join the Alliance.
After the Empire
Following the Battle of Endor in 4 ABY, Ryloth became a member of the Alliance of Free Planets. However, after it was liberated from the Empire, Ryloth chose not to join the New Republic right away. Later, Wedge Antilles and Winter would journey to Ryloth in search of a fugitive Twi'lek, and had to compete with a group of Imperials in a rigged race.
After Rogue Squadron went to Ryloth in 6 ABY to get ryll to help heal the Krytos virus, Twi'lek pilots joined Wedge Antilles and former pilots of Rogue Squadron in fighting Ysanne Isard in the Bacta War. Due to their ryll kor scams against the New Republic, the Shak clan was discredited.
Shortly after that, the Twi'lek Nolaa Tarkona engineered a revolution that overthrew the ruling clans. She then assumed control of Ryloth and founded the anti-Human Diversity Alliance. However, in 24 ABY, the Diversity Alliance's efforts to launch a war against Humans was foiled. Following that, the planet was represented in the New Republic Senate by Kur and later by Cola Quis. During the Yuuzhan Vong War, the planet was a valuable member of the New Republic and the subsequent Galactic Alliance. During the Second Imperial Civil War it was part of the Galactic Alliance Remnant.
Behind the scenes
The PC game Star Wars: Rebellion mistakenly places Ryloth in the Orus sector, which is actually a sector located in the Inner Rim. Additionally, Rebellion's in-game encyclopedia entry for Ryloth erroneously states that most of the planet's inhabitants live in perpetual darkness on the side of the world that eternally faces away from its sun.
Despite Ryloth's lack of rotation in earlier portrayals, the Ryloth story arc in the first season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars instead shows day and night on the planet, as well as a mention of its "planetary rotation." This was later confirmed as a retcon rather than an error in The Essential Atlas, although the planet was still mentioned to have harsh environmental conditions.
The Twi'lek cities built within caverns have been compared to real-life locations such as the Anasazi people ruins of Mesa Verde National Park in south-western Colorado, which were discovered by two cowboys in 1887.
Notes and references
- Star Wars: Empire at War: Prima Official Game Guide
- Geonosis and the Outer Rim Worlds
- The Essential Atlas
- Lords of Nal Hutta
- Star Wars: The Old Republic—Bioanalysis Crew Skill mission: "Aboreal Armageddon"
- Galactic Campaign Guide
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars Character Encyclopedia
- The New Jedi Order: The Final Prophecy
- The Essential Guide to Planets and Moons
- Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption
- Oblivion's Kiss
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Supply Lines"
- Star Wars Kids 20