- "The reptilian marauders work together in a powerful military fashion to bring terror to the Ewoks and cause damage out of sheer spite. How could we not like them?"
- ―Pfilbee Jhorn, about the Sanyassan castaways of Endor
The Sanyassans were a reptilian, humanoid species from the stormy world of Sanyassa IV, located in the Inner Zuma Region. They had ape-like faces, scaly skin, and a tall stature that averaged two meters in height. They engaged in piracy as the scourge of their native Moddell sector since ancient times. In the wider galaxy, the sentients had the reputation of being fierce fighters with short tempers and minimal intelligence. They were sometimes employed as bodyguards or mercenaries, and at least one of them, Tun-Badon, pledged allegiance to a Sith Lord. When the Shi'ido anthropologist Mammon Hoole wrote his Essential Guide to Alien Species at the height of the New Republic, little was known about the Sanyassans, despite their occasional and discreet presence in broader galactic affairs. At the time, the whole species was simply referred to as "Marauders" by most scientists, and few knew of their home planet.
On their homeworld, the Sanyassans had only achieved feudal-level technology by the time of the Galactic Civil War, having at least developed a writing system. However, in the distant past, they had been a more advanced civilization, before the Din supernova turned into a pulsar around 5000 BBY. According to the neighboring Ayrou species, that event may have drastically altered the Sanyassans' way of life. Following the cataclysm, they established a complex social hierarchy, in which pecking order was determined by might. Like the rest of the Moddell sector, the people of Sanyassa IV were excluded from galactic politics for most of their history.
In the first century before the Galactic Civil War, a large group of Sanyassan criminals known as the Marauders crash-landed in the forests of the moon of Endor. As they were unable to get off the moon, the Sanyassan Marauders established a colony in the Dragon's Pelt savanna, under the leadership of King Terak. In 3 ABY, the Sanyassans of Endor suffered a terrible defeat against the native Ewoks, and their numbers decreased over the years. When the New Republic was established, the government's scouts who were sent to the forest moon found no trace of them.
Biology and appearance
- "The marauders have greasy, thick strands of hair, usually pale, sometimes dark, sprouting from the crown of their flat heads, occasionally from the skin on their faces. Heavy protective brow ridges thrust like hoods over glittering eyes; pug nose-holes give the marauders a skull-like appearance."
- ―Pfilbee Jhorn
The Sanyassans were a sentient species with reptilian traits. They were humanoid in form, with four limbs: two legs and two arms. They had two-toed feet, but the number of fingers varied, with Sanyassans having three, four, or five digits per hand, including an opposable thumb. Members of the species had powerfully-built frames. They could grow tall, between 1.6 and 2.5 meters, with an average of 2.0 meters. Sometimes, a congenital disorder resulted in nanism, as exemplified by the General Yavid, who stood only 1.1 meters tall. The Sanyassans had tougher hides than most humanoids, which made them more resistant to physical or energetic damage. Their skin was both leathery and scaly, and its variety of coloration included gray, brown, green, and yellow. Though much rarer, some pink- and purple-skinned individuals were known to exist.
According to Human observers, the Sanyassans' simian faces were skull-like in appearance, with the skin pulled tautly over the bones, the nose merely two pug-like holes, and their deep-set, forward-facing eyes crowned by jutting brow ridges. Some members of the species exhibited cranial ridges on the parietal bones, and the males often sported tiny spiky growths on the temples. They had high foreheads and relatively small mouths with very thin lips. The fearsome-looking Sanyassans had straggly manes that fell to the shoulders of some specimens. Others were bald, cut their hair short, or wore a single strand of hair styled into a top-knot. Occasionally, hair also grew from the skin of their faces, in the manner of a mustache or a beard, but the Sanyassans had no eyebrows or eyelids. The species usually had Human-like ears, but some individuals had pointed ears akin to those of the Sephi species from Thustra.
The species had two sexes: male and female. Sexual dimorphism manifested predominantly in the presence of pronounced breasts in females. Sanyassan women also tended to have smoother skin and did not grow facial hair. Considered children until the age of eight, Sanyassans attained young adulthood when they turned thirteen. At fourteen, they grew out of adolescence and lived out their adulthood for twenty-five years. At forty, a Sanyassan was considered middle-aged, and he or she was viewed as elderly beyond the age of seventy. However, super centenarians were not uncommon, and Sanyassans could maintain their warrior prowess even into their latter years; the Sanyassan Marauders who shipwrecked on Endor around 96 BBY were still alive a standard century later.
Society and culture
- "Wh-what have you done with my friends the Ewoks?"
"Why, they're my special guests. In my dungeon, that is."
- ―Cindel Towani and the Marauder King Terak
At one point in their history, the Sanyassans were thought to have had an advanced society and culture, but those days were long gone by the time of the Galactic Civil War—a conflict fought between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance. In its better known form, the Sanyassan society was divided into clanic structures—united groups of households tracing descent from a common ancestor. The Sanyassans observed no law prohibiting them from preying upon others. There existed a form of aristocracy, but social standing was gained by force, rather than birthright. The Sanyassan upper class consisted mainly of the strongest and tallest individuals and showed strong social prejudices against dwarfs.
Their culture was brutal, based on warfare and exploitation of the weak. The species seemed unforgiving, ruthless and calculating to outsiders. In the wider galaxy, these fierce brawlers were renowned for their bad tempers and low intellectual performance. Despite their aggressive nature, the Sanyassans were social beings and did not feel comfortable while alone. They preferred to be in large groups, as when marching out to raid. When not fighting, they enjoyed having arm-wrestling contests, playing cards with each other, feasting in banquet halls, and drinking alcohol while clinking their cups together with loud guffaws.
On Endor, most Sanyassan commoners wore makeshift armor and ragged clothing, usually brown or cream in color, adorned with scavenged items and patches of animal fur. Some higher-class individuals possessed more elegant attire, with golden plate pauldrons and forearm guards, flowing bluish-grey capes, quilted vests and cloth belts. The Endorian Sanyassans typically wrapped their feet in rawhide or cloth and tied that on with laces for foot covering.
Technologically primitive by galactic standards, Sanyassans formed a feudal-level civilization, with a crude hieroglyphic writing system. They never developed the secrets of space travel for themselves, but stole it from others. They had a rather rudimentary grasp on technology, which caused more harm than good when they tried to use it. For instance, one of the Sanyassan Marauder King Terak's goons once poured water over an electrical device, which caused the machine to burst into sparks. As the Sanyassans never achieved space travel themselves, they relied on poor instinctive piloting skills when piloting stolen ships. While they managed to keep their blasters functioning, many were battered and rusted. However, the Sanyassans were proficient in sword-fighting and unarmed combat. Despite their poor intelligence, most Sanyassans could speak a broken form of Galactic Basic Standard, in addition to their native Sanyassan. Sanyassan names were typically one word, with examples including Dranjat, Jorak, Krenna, Kresho, Luryk, Maygo, S'Zingo, Terakaya, Urkreg, Vortek, and Zaykul. Other known names included Bar'injar, Indar, Macchbraus, and Yavid.
Sanyassans displayed a grim and sadistic sense of humor. King Terak once referred with irony to his Ewok prisoners as his "friends" and "most honored guests," to which his henchmen all laughed in unison. Members of the species fed off suffering and misery, to the point of falling off their chair, laughing, when they witnessed other people's pain.
- "The long-lived marauders originated off-planet and crashed nearly a century ago on the Forest Moon."
- ―Pfilbee Jhorn
The Sanyassans evolved on the world of Sanyassa IV, a temperate planet located in the Moddell sector, one of the three galactic subsectors that made up the Inner Zuma Region of the Zuma sector in the Outer Rim Territories. Like the rest of the worlds in the sector, Sanyassa IV was ignored by the wider galactic community for most of its history, as it was considered a part of the Unknown Regions until the last centuries of the Galactic Republic. Millennia before the Galactic Civil War, the original Sanyassans were a much more advanced society than their descendants. Through time, the Sanyassan culture devolved into a might-makes-right kleptocracy. According to the Ayrou, a peaceful species from the nearby world Maya Kovel, that devolution may have been the consequence of the Din supernova that blew up and turned into a pulsar around 5000 BBY, a cataclysm from which the Sanyassans never fully recovered.
For most of their recorded history, the brutal Sanyassans were renowned in their native sector as raiders and pirates. In the first century before 0 BBY's Battle of Yavin, one such band of Sanyassan criminals known as the Marauders crashed on the Forest moon of Endor. As their ship was damaged beyond repair, the Marauders settled on the moon. The name "Marauders" was later used as a generic name to describe the entire species, even amongst xenobiologists.
Sanyassans in the galaxy
- "Because their true name is unknown, this species is referred to in scientific circles simply as Marauders."
- ―Mammon Hoole
In the fourth millennium before the Battle of Yavin, a male Sanyassan known as Bar'injar joined the Crucible, a slave-trading organization founded many years before by Ieldis—a Sith Lord of the Old Empire. During the later stages of the Cold War, an ancient credit chip coming from the treasure hoards of a long-departed Sanyassan warlord was found. That discovery prompted certain galactic citizens to use their slicing skills in hopes of tracing the chip back to the rest of the treasure.
However, despite their occasional presence abroad, the Sanyassans were not well known outside their native Moddell sector: millennia later, during the height of the New Republic, Senior Anthropologist Mammon Hoole was still researching the species. Although his notes on Sanyassans were far from complete, Hoole felt they were worth mentioning in The Essential Guide to Alien Species, a guidebook based on his collected data. In his sketchy notes, Hoole used the nickname "Marauders" for the entire species, as he claimed their true name was unknown, even in scientific circles. Hoole also made no mention of which planet it was from which the Sanyassans hailed.
Members of other species knew how to take advantage of the Sanyassans' cruel nature. The brutish humanoids were armed with the latest weapons and employed as shock troopers or petty thugs. During the Republic Dark Age, the male Sanyassan Tun-Badon commanded a battalion in the mercenary group Rusher's Brigade, under the banner of the Sith Lord Daiman. Centuries later, "Plug-Eye" Maygo, was hired as a bodyguard by the Kintan Gunrunners, a group of Nikto smugglers. When working on their own, Sanyassans typically became scouts or soldiers, though some exceptionally cunning individuals became scoundrels.
Around 96 BBY, the Marauders, a large group of space pirates that consisted of several dozen members, hijacked a spacecraft and struck out to scour the Moddell sector. Unable to operate their advanced vessel, they crash-landed on the Forest Moon of Endor. There, they built themselves a gloomy fortress, ruling over a section of the Endorian plains known as the Dragon's Pelt savanna. Those Sanyassans armed themselves with poorly maintained blasters and more conventional weapons. The arms gave the Marauders a technological advantage over most other species on Endor. Amongst the castaway Sanyassans were Terak, the fightmaster Jorak, the scholar Szingo, the smooth-skinned Indar and the diminutive Yavid. Some of the stranded Sanyassans, like Macchbraus, chose not to pledge their loyalty to their fellow Marauders. They were marginalized, and some of them went to live in the Orphaned Marauder's Cave, located near the Mertuen Forest. All in all, the number of Sanyassans on Endor never made up more than one percent of its sentient inhabitants.
The Sanyassans of Endor domesticated local creatures such as horses and large reptilian blurrgs to use as beast of burden or mounts. The Marauders' leader was the self-appointed King Terak, who ruled over the others by virtue of his size and strength. He was assisted by Charal, a rogue Dathomiri Nightsister who could turn into a raven thanks to her magic ring. The commander of the Marauder troops was General Yavid, a dwarf Sanyassan who formulated the battle strategies that kept the Marauders' lands from being overrun. The Marauders were perpetual enemies of the diminutive Ewoks, a species native to Endor whose villages the Marauders frequently raided. At some point, they were also enemies of other local species like the Phlogs and the Duloks. They clashed with Morag the Tulgah witch, although Yavid orchestrated a tentative peace with her at some point.
Around the year 26 BBY, the Marauders captured a shipwrecked humanoid scout named Salak Weet. They misunderstood Weet's references to the power generator for his ship, thinking he was talking about a mystical power source that could make them rulers of the galaxy. The Marauders imprisoned and eventually killed Weet in an attempt to learn the secret of "the Power." Some time after the Battle of Hoth, Sergeant Pfilbee Jhorn of the Galactic Empire was requisitioned for Emperor Palpatine's second expeditionary mission to Endor. As records officer, Jhorn reported all of the scouting team's discoveries, including their encounter with the Marauders, who tortured the Imperials. Jhorn's report was one of the most thorough accounts of the Sanyassan Marauders, albeit filled with Humanocentric bias. One year later, during a raid on the Ewok settlement known as Bright Tree Village, the Marauders captured many Ewoks including Wicket Wystri Warrick. They also captured a young Human named Cindel Towani, and killed the rest of her family, who were themselves castaways on Endor. The Marauders also stole the crystal oscillator from the Towanis' damaged spaceship. Warrick and Towani soon escaped, finding their way to the cottage of Noa Briqualon, Weet's Human partner. Warrick and Briqualon's friend Teek, a member of the Teek species, helped the two stranded Humans defeat the Marauders, retrieve the parts needed to repair Briqualon and Weet's spaceship, and kill Terak. With her ring destroyed, Charal was trapped in her raven form. In the resulting power vacuum, General Yavid tried to take the Marauder throne, but he was not able to match Terak's feat of keeping order over such a rabble, and the Marauders turned on one another, foiling Yavid's bid for power. Yet that civil war was not the end of the Marauders: Terak's son, the physically similar and equally brutal Zakul, eventually emerged victorious, reestablished order, and became king.
In spite of the Marauders' presence, Emperor Palpatine chose to build the shield generator for his second Death Star on the Forest Moon. A few months later, in 4 ABY, the Rebel Alliance destroyed the battle station and defeated the Empire above Endor. Following this decisive Alliance victory, the famed Star Tours travel agency sought to capitalize on the Moddell sector's sudden fame by offering to take passengers to the Forest Moon aboard their brand-new StarSpeeder 3000 transports. During one of such voyages on Endor, the spacecraft team was assaulted by two green-skinned Sanyassans. One of them threatened the Star Tours employees while the other kept a lookout, armed with a blaster pistol. However, when agents of the New Republic—the democratic government established by the Alliance—were sent to scout the Endorian forest, they found no trace of the Sanyassan Marauders.
At some point after the rise of the New Republic, a white-bearded Sanyassan merchant sold blurrgs in the Coruscant Livestock Exchange and Exhibition, the largest livestock fair in the galaxy. He was seen bartering with a Quarren potential customer, trying to convince the customer not to buy another merchant's banthas, with a Twi'lek and a Dathomiri witch beside him. The merchant wore fine clothes that were similar to those of the warlord Terak. His likeness was reproduced in the annotated field journal of Lyrre T'enna, a famous zoologist.
Behind the scenes
- "The second [Ewok] film took a darker turn, as a band of deadly Marauders—aliens marooned on Endor—kills Cindel's family, leaving her with no one except her Ewok friends."
- ―"Ewok Adventures" on StarWars.com
The Sanyassan species was created for the 1985 made-for-TV film Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. They were designed by the American director and artist Joe Johnston, based on an idea by Jim and Ken Wheat. Johnston first envisioned the brutish Marauders as three-fingered and completely hairless, but the design was changed later in pre-production, and the costumes used in the actual movie had four-fingered hands and manes of greasy hair. However, many of the early Sanyassans concept sketches were reused in the Endor chapter of The Illustrated Star Wars Universe in 1995, thus bringing the bald and tridactyl Sanyassans back into canon.
The Sanyassan Marauders of Endor also appeared in the now defunct Star Wars-themed massively multiplayer online role-playing game Star Wars Galaxies. Their in-game appearance was designed by character artist Jason Temujin Minor. The Sayormi from the Dead Forest of Kashyyyk, another race that appeared in Star Wars Galaxies, closely resemble Sanyassans—not only do the Sayormi share the same character models as the Sanyassans, but they also have the same type of martial culture. Nevertheless their exact relationship has not yet been explored. Galaxies developers originally considered adding a Marauder "Heroic Encounter" to the game, which would have involved King Terak. A painting of Terak would have been added as a redeemable decorative item for completing the encounter. However, that part of the game was never implemented, although the painting could still be found in the game files.
In the early years of the Expanded Universe, the species was only known as the "Marauders." The name "Sanyassan" was first coined in Endor and the Moddell Sector, an article published in Star Wars Gamer 9 on March 1, 2002. From that moment on, the use of the term "Marauders" has been restricted to the group of Sanyassan pirates who crash landed on Endor. The Essential Guide to Alien Species, which was published one year before the first occurrences of the name "Sanyassan," still listed the species' true name as unknown, even in scientific circles.
The 1993 book Monsters and Aliens from George Lucas contained the wanted poster of a criminal known as the "Marauder of Endor," described as a "known associate of Terak." The Marauder of Endor greatly resembles a card-playing black-mustachioed Sanyassan who appeared in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. The poster featured many jocular statements, including a mention of Thanksgiving. The wanted Marauder was said to have "mushrooms lining eyebrows," "shaved dimples on both elbows" and a "hologram of his third mother on the right forelock." The concept of "third mother" would imply Sanyassans had a different kinship terminology than Humans. However, Leland Chee, arbiter of the Holocron continuity database at Lucasfilm, indicated that information from this book is considered non-canonical unless reused in later publications.
The Illustrated Star Wars Universe and the Ultimate Alien Anthology are in conflict on how old Sanyassans could get. While the former source stated that the Marauders were already adults when they crashed on Endor one hundred years before the Galactic Civil War—making them supercentenarians—the latter gave an average lifespan of only seventy years.
Throughout the Expanded Universe, minor inconsistencies appeared regarding the Sanyassans' number of digits and shape of the ears. While sources usually portray Sanyassans with four fingers on each hand—following Ewoks: The Battle for Endor— "Plug-Eye" Maygo was shown to have five-fingered hands in Race for the Tessent, an article in Star Wars Gamer 9. In the reference book The Essential Guide to Alien Species, a Sanyassan was depicted as having elf-like ears, akin to those of the Sephi species from Thustra, while all the Marauders in the movie had Human-like auricles.
- Knights of the Old Republic 44
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: Destroyer
- Knights of the Old Republic 48
- Knights of the Old Republic 49
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Hutt Cartel (Mentioned only)
- Knight Errant
- Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided
- Race for the Tessent"—Star Wars Gamer 9 "
- Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (First appearance)
- Ewoks: The Battle for Endor book-and-record
- The Ring, the Witch, and the Crystal: An Ewok Adventure