- "The kid ran into something, and it wasn't just the cold."
- ―Han Solo, referring to Luke Skywalker's wampa attack
Wampa ice creatures were carnivorous predatory reptomammals indigenous to the remote Outer Rim Territories ice planet Hoth. The bipedal beasts stood over two meters in height with shaggy white fur constantly stained with the gore of slaughtered prey. Wampas were armed with jagged yellow teeth and deadly claws. Primarily solitary hunters, wampas occasionally hunted in packs, preferring to ambush their prey from the camouflage of Hoth's snow banks and blizzards. Stunned victims were carried back to the creatures' lairs, typically large ice caves, where the wampas ate at their leisure. The planet's omnivorous tauntauns formed the bulk of the wampas' prey, although they would attack anything they encountered. The Alliance to Restore the Republic's Echo Base on Hoth came under constant wampa assaults in 3 ABY.
While rarely seen away from their remote homeworld, wampas were known to have participated in illegal gladiatorial combat venues. They were highly valued among big-game hunters for the challenge that came with hunting the creatures, as well as for their pelts, stuffed heads, and other miscellaneous souvenirs that commanded high prices on the black market. Wampas were later protected under legislation to prevent endangered species from falling into extinction by the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances.
- 1 Biology and appearance
- 2 Behavior and intelligence
- 3 History
- 4 Wampas in the galaxy
- 5 Behind the scenes
- 6 Appearances
- 7 Sources
- 8 Notes and references
- 9 External links
Biology and appearance
Covered with shaggy white fur, standing at heights of up to three meters, and weighing an average of 150 kilograms, Hoth's wampa ice creatures were lethal predatory beasts. They possessed long, powerful arms, razor-sharp claws capable of carving layers out of ice, and a fanged maw. Aided by an acute sense of smell and a well-camouflaged coat of thick fur, the carnivorous wampas roamed Hoth's icy plains preying on near-helpless animals. Wampas ranged in height from 2.2 to three meters, with an average height of 2.5 meters, weighed up to and occasionally exceeding 200 kilograms, and had eerie yellow eyes. Adult wampas possessed short, jagged, curving horns, which were an indication of age. The horns began to appear at the onset of puberty and continued to grow larger as the wampa aged. Wampas' horns were similar to those of Hoth's native tauntauns, though the two species were entirely unrelated. Wampas had a single heart within their thoracic cavity.
Wampas were classified officially as reptomammals, creatures combining the best defensive characteristics of reptiles with the more adaptable physiologies of mammals—specifically, they were linked to primates. The species shared multiple physiological traits with the similarly named trompa, and most xeno-biologists speculated the two species were cousins. The wampa physiology was well adapted to conserving heat in the extreme cold. Beneath their protective fur was a layer of blubber for greater insulation. They were also physiologically equipped with a self-regulating metabolism. Wampas comprised 11 percent of Hoth's total indigenous animal population.
The wampa reigned at the top of the Hoth food chain as the planet's most violent alpha predator. With their strong sense of smell, coat of thick white fur, which blended in perfectly with the icy landscape of Hoth, and brute strength, wampas made excellent natural hunters. A single powerful blow from a wampa's forearm was enough to neutralize the largest prey, while the creature's bite was deadly. Very rarely were wampas themselves the victims of predators—in fact, the creatures had no natural enemies except for other wampas. Wampas typically traveled on two or four legs, preferring four except during an attack. The creatures stalked their prey until reaching close enough proximity to make a rush attack. A wampa would take a final sighting of its target by rising on its hind legs and then springing forward in a deadly pounce with claws outstretched, though it could only swing one claw at a time due to their massive size.
In terms of the creature's diet, wampas subsisted primarily on Hoth's many varieties of omnivorous tauntauns, although they also hunted lumbering icetromper herd beasts, antlered mammals called rayboo, and other, smaller unwary creatures—as well as attacking anyone or anything else they encountered that might seem to be a source of food if particularly hungry. The powerful wampa required large amounts of food to sustain itself, and a single tauntaun was enough to nourish one wampa for a considerable period. Wampa family groups, in particular, required a substantial supply of meat, since a female wampa could birth up to three cubs at once. However, the competition among wampas for Hoth's relatively small number of prey animals formed a limit to the numbers of the creatures existing on Hoth, keeping the wampa relatively scarce.
Wampas were particularly sensitive to high-pitched noises, sounds that were similar to those made by a female in search of a mate. While wampas were naturally well-insulated against the Hoth elements, as a result of their dense fur, they were made almost invisible to most standard life-form sensor scans, which is how they managed to avoid detection by Republic xeno-biologists for so long.
Wampas were even said to possess, at least in one case, the capacity to retain long-term memory. During the Rebel Alliance occupation of Hoth during the Galactic Civil War, Jedi Luke Skywalker was attacked by a wampa while patrolling the planet's ice wastes, but he escaped the creature's clutches after slicing off its arm with his lightsaber. Almost a decade later, during a return visit to Hoth, Skywalker re-encountered the same wampa whose arm he severed years before. Skywalker claimed that the one-armed beast remembered both him and his lightsaber.
One male wampa, named Ku-Kak, had a rare, natural affinity for the Force. Another, the giant wampa Unkajo, towered at a height much greater than the species' average height of 2.5 meters. Still another giant wampa creature, larger than ordinary wampas, lived on Hoth during the early portion of the Galactic Civil War. This giant wampa possessed a freezing breath as a natural weapon.
Subspecies of wampa were found on other worlds, clearly transplanted there from Hoth, though scientists were unable to determine the exact method by which this occurred. These subspecies included the cliff wampa, a beast bioengineered by the Galactic Empire and used as a sentinel on the rocky Outer Rim Territories moon of Gall, and the swamp wampa of Dromund Kaas.
Swamp wampas were identical to the Hoth wampa in almost every way, prompting scientists to theorize that they were directly descended from them. Though the exact nature of the swamp wampa's development was unclear, it nevertheless indicated a strong adaptability of the wampa species. There also existed Tatooine Howlers, colloquially named "desert wampas" for their strong resemblance to wampas. Although their appearance, with heavy fur and tusks, was similar, genetic testing proved no relation between the Howler and the wampa.
Behavior and intelligence
- "We thought they were dumb brutes—all teeth and claws, and no brains—but we were wrong."
- ―Burrk, a former stormtrooper turned big-game hunter
Hunting patterns and ice cave habitat
- "The lair was a foul place. I could smell the blood and entrails in the snow."
Wampas were typically solitary hunters. They wandered the frozen wastelands of Hoth in search of food, often stalking their prey for some time before finally taking the victim by stealth and surprise due to their natural white-fur camouflage. Wampas hunted both by day and, at shorter range, during Hoth's bitterly cold night. Although the tauntaun, a wampa's primary source of food, was relatively plentiful on Hoth, the scarcity of available wildlife on the planet meant that a single wampa had to cover a territory of more than a hundred kilometers when seeking prey. However, wampas learned to adapt to this necessity. They emitted a very faint scent, preventing tauntauns from detecting a wampa's approach. Their white fur, blending perfectly with their environment, enabled wampas to attack their prey without prior detection. As such, wampas rarely engaged in extended chases. Icetrompers, however, proved something of an exception—their multiple set of eyes made sneaking up on the giant herd beasts a difficult proposition for even the stealthiest wampas.
The comfort zone for a wampa seeking prey was limited to Hoth's frozen plains and the cooler regions of the planet's subterranean caves. Often, Hoth's scaly tauntauns would gather among warmer cave areas heated by bubbling pools as a defensive measure, areas that wampas found to be uncomfortably hot. Nevertheless, if hungry enough, wampas were known to ignore their extreme discomfort by venturing deep into these cave systems at night and during Hoth's blizzards. They would utilize cunning methods to draw the scaly tauntauns out of their sanctuaries, sometimes rushing into the heated areas to scare their prey out into the cold where they might be cornered. Other times, wampas would simply stalk their prey by waiting in the colder regions between these heated tunnels until the tauntauns ran from one tunnel to another.
Wampas rarely killed their prey outright and never hunted when they were hungry. Because they preferred fresh meat, wampas instead always tried to stun their prey, keeping their victims unconscious, but alive, until ready to feed. After disabling their prey, wampas hauled the still-breathing victims back to their cave dwellings and, through different methods, secured them in the ice for later consumption. For some, wampas used their hot breath to melt the ice around a victim's legs and then coated parts of the body in saliva, placing them against the ice ceiling of their caves so they would freeze in place. The saliva also served as an anesthetic in the victims, which helped to keep prey comatose until the wampa was ready to eat. Alternatively, for larger creatures, such as the tauntaun, wampas frequently impaled them through the ankles on overhanging icicles or stalactites to keep them immobile. At times, several fresh victims were stored in this manner.
Hanging their still-living victims from the cave's ice ceiling allowed wampas to keep their food in good condition and then snack at their leisure—tales existed of victims taking some days to die as the wampa slowly devoured them. This storage method also allowed wampas to return to the ice fields to continue hunting while the hostile Hoth weather held. Wampa lairs often housed huge amounts of food, a testament to how deadly a single beast could be.
The creatures typically made their homes in one or more ice caverns, created by digging out a huge lair beneath Hoth's ice surface large enough to nest and store food in. Still, wampas rarely wasted their own energy hollowing out their own caves. Instead, they usually found a pre-existing lair or former tauntaun-dug site to occupy, sometimes ejecting the original inhabitant. Wampas would also sometimes make enlargements to these caves, especially when raising young. Nesting wampas typically shed their guard fur, which was gathered and used to line their caverns with, though opinion was divided among zoologists whether this actually amounted to intelligent behavior or merely animal instinct. The dense guard fur lining made wampa caves almost invisible to standard scans.
Wampas, solitary by nature, were nomadic in the sense that they rarely stayed in one cave for very long, unless they were with young. They regularly relocated to new lairs both out of the need to follow migrating tauntaun herds, and of the necessity to find cleaner dwellings. Wampas, males in particular, were remarkably messy animals, and their caves were constantly scattered with half-eaten corpses, decomposing entrails, and other bloody, rotting remains. Even nursing females, aside from their fur-lined nests in which cubs were born, lived in gore-filled caves. This rotting mess quickly made wampa caves uninhabitable, forcing the creatures to find new abodes.
Reproduction method and societal characteristics
- "They worked together, in coordinated attacks, probably to defend themselves from what they perceived as an invasion of their territory."
- ―Rebel Alliance historian Voren Na'al
Wampas mated during the warmer months of the Hoth yearly cycle, during which time they gathered in regions where game was plentiful, to search for companionship. While the females remained together and waited, the males would go off in search of prey. After making a kill, the male wampa would commonly smear the blood of his victim across his chest and return with the dead animal to show the females, thus demonstrating his ability to care for a mate. Sometimes the males would spar with one another for a particular female's companionship. The winners of these bouts chose their preferred mates. They were then considered the alpha males of that region until the following mating season.
In terms of their reproduction methods, wampas could be considered marsupials. Their cubs were born live, but very underdeveloped, closely resembling a miniature worm small enough to fit on a caf spoon. After mating, female wampas would birth up to three cubs per litter. These infants, after birth, would crawl to their mothers' pouches, where they nursed, grew, and developed over a period of roughly three months—after which time they left the pouch with a full set of teeth, needle-sharp claws, and an innate attitude of invincibility. Mothers would produce milk to nurse their young until the cubs were able to sustain themselves on meat alone. Wampa mothers were extremely protective of their offspring, and during the nursing period even males didn't risk the consequences of coming between a mother and her cubs. As they grew, young wampas were taught how to hunt, survive in the cold, and how to care for game from their mothers and fathers.
Wampas were extremely territorial creatures, fiercely guarding their hunting grounds against any invaders to their domain, and often engaging in bouts to the death with other wampas encroaching on their land. The scarcity of Hoth's wildlife meant that a single wampa required a large hunting ground in order to survive, which was believed to be the primary reason why the creatures lived alone or in small family-based groups. Because of the substantial amounts of food required to sustain a wampa, they often extended their territory over enormous areas. Upon reaching maturity, younger wampas set out to claim territory of their own, competing with other wampas, including members of their own family, for territorial control, which contributed to keeping the species relatively scarce.
Despite the cutthroat intra-family competition that existed among wampas for territorial control, the creatures nevertheless possessed a strong affinity for kinship. Galactic scientists discovered that wampas were very protective of their own and mourned their dead with great intensity. In the instance one was slain, the creatures would fly into destructive rages directed at the killer. If the death was natural, wampas would instead vent their rage on their surroundings, sometimes smashing cave walls or ripping apart anyone or anything within reach. Reports told of some wampas, in their bouts of hysteria, unwittingly causing avalanches and underground cave-ins, causing only more deaths. When the grieving wampas' energy finally subsided, they would bury their dead in the snow, keeping guard over it for several days to make sure nothing ate the remains. If a wampa was injured, the rest of its pack would band together to repel the threat.
Although they primarily hunted alone, some wampas occasionally hunted in packs, banding together to attack a threat to the local wampa community, such as a Human settlement. During the Cold War, for example, amidst the combined Galactic Republic–Sith Empire occupation of Hoth, many wampas of all ages gathered in different series of subterranean ice caves. Many years later, during the Galactic Civil War, the Rebel Alliance occupation of Hoth drove many wampas to convene in and inhabit a large secluded valley surrounded by rocks and ice. The valley floor was littered with the remains of creatures who ventured into the wampas' home, never to escape. Outside of mating season, however, the detection of a common threat was the only time wampas grouped together. By coordinating their hunting actions, wampas demonstrated a rudimentary level of intelligence and cunning, particularly in the capability to scout and determine their enemies' location and strength before formulating an attack. The wampas' aptitude for massively coordinated attacks made the species one of the most cunning killers in the galaxy. However, despite wampas demonstrating some intelligence and social development, most respected scientists nevertheless doubted the species' sentience.
Wampas were capable of emitting a terrifying hunting roar that could compete with Hoth's howling winds. Their howl was one of their greatest natural gifts, for it could blend in almost imperceptibly with the winds. Only the creatures themselves could tell the two sounds apart. Thus, the howl provided wampas with a highly efficient form of communication that often proved lethal to disoriented prey. In one unique instance, the Force-sensitive wampa Ku-Kak was trained to naturally understand the Chevin.
During the Republic occupation of Hoth in the Cold War, a group of Talz established a supply cache in a large cave that many wampas had overrun. However, the wampas within the cave did not show hostility toward the Talz, a species of white-furred beings from the frozen planet Alzoc III, due to the physical similarities between the two, for the wampas believed themselves and the Talz to be one and the same.
- "Hey! Steady, girl. Hey, what's the matter? You smell something?"
- ―Luke Skywalker calms his nervous tauntaun before a wampa attack
Cold War encounters
- "How many wampa-filled ice caves are you willing to search through?"
- ―Smuggler "Guss" Tuno
Wampas roamed Hoth's frozen surface as early as 3643 BBY, during the final years of the Cold War between the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire. Prior conflict in the Hoth system between the two sides left the planet a graveyard of downed starship wreckage, which attracted salvaging pirates and, eventually, both the Republic and the Empire to return to reclaim their war machines, bringing with them renewed hostilities to Hoth's surface—and encounters by all with the planet's native ice creatures.
Hoth's alpha predators proved a surprisingly intelligent peril to the planet's newcomers, especially unwary travelers wandering too close to unexplored ice caves. Multiple combat patrols disappeared after seeking shelter in a cavern thought to be unoccupied. Horror stories of men swallowed whole by towering wampa ice creatures made the rounds among new arrivals to Hoth. According to reports during that era, wampas numbered among some of Hoth's most hostile wildlife to call the Clabburn Tundra home during the war. Disturbed by the occupiers' encroachment on their habitat, wampas preyed on entire squads of soldiers. Wampas also roamed among Hoth's Whiterock Wastes, Highmount Ridge, and Glacial Fissure areas.
The Hailstorm Brotherhood, a radical tribe of wilderness survivalists, were one of several pirate groups to gain purchase on Hoth. Republic forces on the planet first learned of the brotherhood from scouts who, while investigating a massive ice spire sculpture that the pirates had erected, reported encounters with half-naked warriors wearing wampa furs as they charged into combat. Master Sav, leader of the brotherhood, was once stranded and left for dead in wampa territory by Imperial forces, only to strangle one of the beasts with a tauntaun femur and skin it with one of its own claws, eventually making his way back to safety three weeks later. Sav's wampa ordeal made him a legend among his pirate brethren.
During the war Shai Tenna, a Weequay leader of the White Maw pirate organization, ran a sizable pleasure den within Hoth's Highmount Ridge, connected to which was an ice cave in which Tenna had trapped more than two dozen wampas of all ages as his "pets." After the Republic's Havoc Squad, sent to Hoth on a mission to acquire one of the Empire's enigmatic Umbra encrypters, made a failed attempt to infiltrate Tenna's group, the Weequay pirate had them thrown into the cave to be fed to the wampas. However, Havoc Squad fought its way through the wampa onslaught, defeating the creatures and making it out of the cave to freedom.
While seeking refuge from Hoth's brutal elements, a Republic Talz commando unit and a group of wounded Republic soldiers fell under attack from wampas in their area. The Talz escaped from the attacking beasts, but the wampas dragged the Republic soldiers back to their den. At the behest of Kuthak, one of the Talz commandos, a Republic agent located the wampas' den, defeated the beasts inside, and rescued the wounded Republic soldiers from the wampas' clutches. To ensure no Republic soldier met the same fate again, the agent proceeded to kill the remaining wampas in the cave.
Wampas again attacked a Republic reconnaissance squad that was investigating nearby caves and the took the scout team back to their den. Concerned both for his missing men and whatever may have attacked them as a looming threat to other Republic forces on Hoth, Gavon Kroan assigned a Republic agent to help the scouts. The agent successfully rescued the Republic scout team from the wampa den.
A legendary wampa called the White Terror prowled Hoth's wastes during the Cold War, stalking whatever prey the conflict brought its way. While hunting for food, the White Terror once encountered the Jedi Kaiya Stas, who recognized that the wampa's path was taking it straight toward a colony of Ortolans. The White Terror wounded Stas in a failed attempt to stop the creature's approach. She later asked a Republic agent to destroy the wampa, warning that if the creature discovered a convenient source of food in the Ortolans, it would not stop its rampage until it wiped out the entire colony. The agent found the White Terror in the same den where wampas had previously taken the team of Republic scouts, and drew the wampa out from its lair by activating a sonic agitator. The agent then killed the White Terror, saving the Ortolan colonists.
One of the Sith's weapons on Hoth during the war centered on a Beast-Lord of the planet Onderon named Brutann, whose mastery of the dark side of the Force enabled him to control Hoth's most vicious predators, including the wampa. Brutann gathered an army of Hoth beasts aimed to destroy the Republic forces on the planet. Tasked by Jedi Master Heljus and his Padawan learner, Elsor, to stop Brutann, a Republic agent traveled to the Jagged Plains Cavern, where the agent defeated the Beast-Lord and his Force-dominated wampa, among other creatures.
Another group operating on Hoth, a collection of ex-Mandalorians called the Terror Brigade, became known among the Republic forces for their efforts to find new and wild combat thrills, which included wrestling wampas. The Terror Brigade captured Imperial Moff Yoren and offered to hand him over to the Republic on the condition that someone could survive their so-called "Onslaught," a series of combat trials against progressively powerful opponents, both animal and humanoid. A Republic agent undertook the task of going up against the Onslaught within their compound, battling and defeating the Terror Brigade and the wampas they kept as part of the trial, among other combatants. In the challenge's final trial, the agent engaged in an extended battle with a large wampa named Ujooku, killing the beast and defeating the Onslaught.
In another wampa assault, the Imperial Agent "Cipher Nine" journeyed to a large cave system in the Hoth glacial fissure known as the Bone Pits on a mission in conjunction with the Imperial-allied Chiss to perform surveillance on the rogue Imperial Admiral Layek Davos, who was meeting secretly with a group of pirates for his own ends. Cipher Nine found the Bone Pits to be filled with nearly two dozen adult wampas clustered in the cave. Cipher Nine's spying of Davos's meeting with the pirates was interrupted when two of the beasts suddenly charged the agent's position, but Cipher Nine defeated both wampas. The agent proceeded to complete the surveillance mission and eliminate the largest wampas still remaining in the cave, before then slipping back out.
A number of Republic Talz set up a supply cache of ordnance, food, and medical equipment within the Ice Behemoth Cave, which was also overrun by many wampas both young and old. The wampas inhabiting the cave, however, displayed no aggression toward their Talz occupiers, believing the white-furred aliens to be wampas themselves as a result of the species' shared physical attributes. Upon discovering the site of the Talz supply cache, Imperial Commander Tritan tasked a group of agents with destroying their supplies in order to force the aliens into an assault, in which they could be destroyed. However, Tritan warned the agents of the danger in reaching the cache among the wampa cave and suggested that they not weigh themselves down when going against the ice creatures. The agents proceeded to kill many of the wampas en route to destroying the Talz cache.
During the Battle of Hoth in the Great Galactic War, which precipitated further conflict on the planet during the Cold War, the Empire lost an ancient Sith holocron thought to be destroyed, but which resurfaced years later in Hoth's starship graveyard, within the den of a hulking wampa. In a mission managed by Imperial Captain Kanen, an Imperial agent entered the den and recovered the holocron from the wampa after killing the creature.
An Imperial engineer named Soleks could not complete a mission to set up warning beacons around a massive Hoth sinkhole in the Clabburn Tundra because his work area turned out to be a wampa hunting ground, driving him away. Soleks instead handed the duty off to an Imperial agent, who cleared the Clabburn Tundra area of wampas and successfully installed the warning beacons. Wampas also mauled a response team sent by Imperial Captain Viatar to stop Republic sappers from destabilizing the icy foundations of an Imperial garrison on the planet.
At some point an Imperial agent also killed up to five wampas in Hoth's Glacial Fissure sector.
Around 3638 BBY, several wampas were affected by a Seed of Rage, a Sith alchemical artifact planted in the northern reaches of the Glacial Fissure region, and they underwent significant physical changes. The infected wampas developed grey-black growths on their bodies, while their eyes turned red and their fur became black and gray.
Kyrisa, wampa master
- "I thought they only hunted when they were hungry?"
"They do what that Nightsister trains them to do."
- ―Imperial Security Bureau Captain Jeffren Brek's team discusses Kyrisa's trained wampas
Circa early 2 ABY, the Force-sensitive Dathomiri Nightsister Kyrisa took refuge on Hoth after being exiled from her homeworld of Dathomir. Kyrisa, strong in the Force power of beast mastery, soon gained command of a pack of the ice planet's native wampas through mind control. Cut off from her home and her family on Dathomir, Kyrisa depended on one of her wampas for physical and emotional warmth. Aside from beast control, Kyrisa also dabbled in genetic engineering, through which she eventually produced a gigantic wampa of unnatural size, Unkajo.
Kyrisa used her mind-controlled wampas to devastate nearby installations and to steal supplies. However, as complete control as Kyrisa had over her pack of wampas, her beast mastery quickly attracted the attention of both the Galactic Empire and Jedi sympathetic to the Rebel Alliance, who hoped to either harness her knowledge or remove Kyrisa as a threat to Hoth's local population.
Imperial Intelligence leader "Blackhole" had his own ideas how to employ Kyrisa's beast mastery and dispatched a team of Imperial Security Bureau agents, led by Captain Jeffren Brek, to capture her. During their search for Kyrisa on Hoth, Brek's team encountered two of the Nightsister's trained wampas, as well as the giant wampa Unkajo, who towered over its smaller brethren, prompting a skirmish between the Imperials and Kyrisa's beasts. Brek's team killed both of the two smaller wampas, before hamstringing and, as they believed, finally killing Unkajo as well, although the wampas knocked at least one of Brek's men out cold. After the skirmish, the Imperial agents collected the wampas' teeth and claws as souvenirs.
Only moments later, Kyrisa herself appeared before the Imperial agents, surrounded by another pack of obedient wampas, like an army of trained soldiers. Enraged at the loss of Unkajo, Kyrisa ordered the wampas to kill the Imperial team. However, the second battle turned out little different than the previous, with many more of the trained wampas being slain, before Kyrisa slipped away, with the surviving wampas of her group covering her escape.
Simultaneous with the Imperial mission, the Twi'lek Jedi Knight Rachi Sitra, along with another Rebel agent, embarked on her own mission to capture the dangerous Kyrisa from Hoth. At some point, Sitra ran into one of Kyrisa's trained wampas as well, although her combat skills served her well in the fight with the attacking beast. The Rebel agent party to Sitra also encountered Kyrisa herself and two of the exiled Nightsister's trained wampas. Enraged at the Rebel agent for having previously killed another of her bioengineered beasts, Kyrisa ordered the two wampas under her command to kill the agent. The two wampas, well-trained, fought to the death to defend their master, but the Rebel agent eventually won the battle and drove Kyrisa away for the time being.
Ultimately, the Dark Side Adept Namman Cha convinced Kyrisa to join him in service of Emperor Palpatine. He, too, however, had his own bout with Kyrisa's wampas while searching for her on Hoth before enlisting her as the Emperor's newest prize.
The attack on Echo Base
- "Had we remained longer on that frozen world, I have no doubt we would have had more nights filled with their horror."
- ―Voren Na'al
The Rebel Alliance established its secret headquarters on Hoth during the Galactic Civil War following the Battle of Yavin, in a series of ice caves that came to be known as Echo Base. Hoth's wampas soon enough became a serious threat to the Rebels, repeatedly attacking the base and its personnel.
In 2 ABY, as Echo Base neared completion, a group of Rebels were tasked with clearing caverns of wampas so that the base could expand into that area. Required to contend with Hoth's treacherous icy caverns with seemingly bottomless chasms, the Rebels at first encountered and neutralized single wampas. They eventually discovered a large wampa lair, eliminating the creatures' presence from the area.
During a bivouac while scouting the expanses of Hoth shortly after the final construction of Echo Base was completed, Rebel Major Kem Monnon, head of the Alliance Corps of Engineers responsible for the base's construction, and an outfit of men heard the howls of wampas in the night—one of the first encounters, albeit indirect, between the creatures and the Rebels of Echo Base.
The Alliance Survey Team Theta at some point found on Hoth the personal logs of a smuggler named Jonox Forb, who inhabited the naturally formed ice caves before their conversion into Echo Base. Although the fate of Forb's smuggling band remained unclear, the Rebel survey team reportedly recovered the logs from an abandoned wampa lair. The content of Forb's logs were not publicly revealed until the release of former Echo Base General Carlist Rieekan's personal historical records, which detailed the Rebellion's time spent on Hoth, during the later years of the New Republic.
As a measure of security, the Rebel Alliance's Standard Operating Procedure at Echo Base included scouting the barren wastes surrounding the facility. Initially, the Rebels detected only passive lifeforms, and there seemed to be very little danger on the remote ice planet. The first sign the Rebels saw that they were not alone was the discovery of a dead tauntaun just outside the base. When the dead animal was brought before 2-1B, the base's chief medical droid, he determined that the tauntaun's neck had been snapped. Knowing how strong the stubborn animals were, the base's personnel found the thought that some creature was strong enough to do such damage more than frightening. 2-1B also assisted in an Echo Base investigation that led to the discovery and capture of several wampas from a nearby cave.
Soon thereafter, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo were on a routine mission to place sensor beacons around the perimeter of the base. Solo informed Skywalker that he had encountered an animal carcass, which he believed to be a recent wampa kill, and urged Skywalker to be on guard before he headed back to Echo Base. Solo later told base personnel that he had discovered some wampa kills out in the snow. Skywalker, however, failed to report in from his scouting work, as he was attacked by a male wampa while astride his tauntaun. The wampa landed a crushing blow to Skywalker's face with a swipe of its powerful claw, knocking him unconscious and opening up a gash on the side of his face. His tauntaun was killed instantly with a crushing grip that snapped its neck. When Skywalker awoke, he found himself hanging upside down, his feet frozen to the ceiling of the creature's cave, and another wampa eating the corpse of his mount. Skywalker was able to escape the cave using the Force to pull his lightsaber into his hands, cutting himself down from the ceiling, then cutting off the creature's arm with his lightsaber just as it was about to attack him.
After Skywalker revived from his medical treatment inside a bacta tank, he confirmed the Rebels' worst fears. He described being attacked by a large creature three meters in height with deadly claws. Although he had only knowingly seen one of the beasts, where there was one, the Rebels reasoned, there was likely to be more. As a result, the base immediately stepped up its security measures.
Echo Base sent out a few patrols to locate the creature that wounded Skywalker. Although they failed to find Skywalker's one-armed attacker, they did encounter another wampa. After stalking the Rebels for some time, the wampa finally attacked the group from its cover beneath a snow mound, surprising its prey. The wampa continued to make hit-and-run attacks at the Rebels, trying to take its prey one being at a time, unwilling to allow such a significant amount of food to get away.
The evening after Skywalker's recovery, Echo Base came under attack. It started with the sound of howling, a noise not unusual to those in the base, who were accustomed to Hoth's howling winds. Still, this noise was louder and angrier. Shortly after the howling started, the base's command center received a brief comlink call from Bervin, a perimeter scout, which was abruptly cut off by a bellowing inhuman roar and a horrified, distinctly Human scream. Major Bren Derlin, head of security at Echo Base, and others in the command center rushed to Bervin's post. There, they found only the signs of a struggle, but no sign of Bervin himself. Blood was splattered against the far wall of snow, where a large cave-in had occurred. The blood trail followed the shallow trench where Bervin's body had been dragged out of the post and into the icy night of Hoth.
Before long similar calls began to come into the command center. Attacks all along the base's perimeter were reported. All described the same: a lone sentry, attacked and dragged off into the night. Efforts were made to ready the base's T-47 airspeeders, but there was no need. The creatures came to them, crashing through the carefully carved ice walls of the facility. The base was soon filled with a horde of attacking wampas. The personnel of Echo Base were ready to protect their fortress, however. They held off the beasts with concentrated artillery barrages, while the wampas outside the base were similarly repelled by the Rebels' blaster fire. The creatures inside the base were rounded up with the help of the droids C-3PO and R2-D2. At the heart of each attack was one commonality that had gone unnoticed until the droids brought it to the attention of Major Derlin. They noticed that the high-pitched beeps of the base's astromech droids drove the wampas into rages. The Rebels were able to use recordings of astromech droids to drive the creatures out of their dark, icy crevasses. They stunned the wampas into incapacitation, and stored them in heavily shielded pens in less vital sections of Echo Base. The pen doors were marked with yellow and orange warning signs, nicknamed by those in the base as "do not disturb" signs. The Rebels believed that the wampas had attacked the base to defend themselves from what they perceived as an invasion of their territory. Additionally, research later revealed that the astromech droids' high-pitched beeps and wails were similar to the sounds made by females in search of a mate. This further explained the wampas' rampages, with males having discovered pieces of metal machinery after thinking they had discovered a new companion.
Battle of Hoth
The Galactic Empire discovered the Rebels' hidden Echo Base in the immediate aftermath of the wampa assault on the ice facility through the reconnaissance efforts of a remotely deployed Arakyd Viper probe droid. While performing its reconnaissance work of the ice planet prior to detecting the Rebel presence on Hoth and transmitting its accompanying sensor data back to the Empire, the probe droid discovered a large mound of snow in the Hoth wastes. Upon the droid probing the mound with a low-powered laser beam, a large wampa emerged from the snow pile, having been sleeping there. The probe droid quickly regulated the potency of its high-powered laser cannon and disintegrated the beast with a single blast.
While hunting a herd of grazing tauntauns, another wampa also encountered and attacked another Imperial Viper probe droid scouting the planet. After a short clash between blaster and claws, the wampa defeated the droid and dragged it back to its ice cavern, where it suspended the machine in the icy ceiling above the skeletal remains of former prey.
During the desperate haste to escape Echo Base in the face of the Imperial invasion during the Battle of Hoth, C-3PO came upon one of the pen doors while trying to catch up with Solo, Princess Leia Organa, and the Wookiee Chewbacca on their way to the Millennium Falcon. Knowing an advance group of snowtroopers was directly behind him, Threepio tore off the door's warning label and proceeded to disappear around another bend in the corridor. The pursuing troopers reached the door. Their leader punched the controls to slide it open, knowing it would take more than locks to stop an Imperial advance. The group marched into the pen with military efficiency, only to be slaughtered by the caged wampas. Once Darth Vader reached the room, all he saw were piles of blood-stained snow, a cave-in exposing the pen to Hoth's daytime sun, and some of his most seasoned, well-trained troops dead on the ground.
In the chaos during the battle, the primary entrance point the wampas used to infiltrate and attack Echo Base, a small room off one of the main corridors that had been sealed, was uncovered. The entrance point opened to a small tunnel that led to the large valley where many of the wampas lived and, consequently, where the attacking wampas had originated. As the battle raged, a visitor to Echo Base followed this tunnel into the large snowy valley, where, in a nearby camp, he found one Professor Blainekie, a Rebel researcher investigating the wampas in the vicinity. Blainekie required assistance with defeating the valley's wampas, including the giant wampa Unkajo. The Echo Base visitor complied and successfully brought down the towering creature.
While attempting to escape from Hoth late during the battle, mercenary Dash Rendar encountered several of the Rebels' caged wampas throughout the bowels of Echo Base. After witnessing the havoc wreaked upon the base by the wampas, the Empire in turn bioengineered the cliff wampa to guard Imperial interests on the Gall moon.
Hunting wampas for sport
- "There's a huge black-market price on wampa pelts, you know."
A certain subclass of big-game hunters existed who specialized in the "sporting" hunt of large predators like the wampa. They often traveled to the remote Hoth system to hunt wampas. Poachers and hunters had been tracking wampas for decades prior to the onset of the Clone Wars, though their mortality rate often exceeded the creatures themselves. Wampa pelts or stuffed heads were prized trophies among hunters, and a black-market fur-trading operation that involved wampas existed in the Outer Rim at some point before 33 BBY. Wampa "souvenirs" and even clothing made of wampa fur had been known to command high prices at galactic trading posts by the early years of the Galactic Civil War. Wampa meat was also served in some corners of the galaxy—as of 31 BBY, a serving kitchen within the space station Darkside on an asteroid in the Cularin system asteroid belt had twenty kilograms of ground lean wampa meat stored in a freezer. By 1 ABY, the sporting hunt of wampas was illegal, though hunters were still able to sell their wares on the black market for high gain. Wampas were later included in Galactic Federation of Free Alliances legislation to protect endangered species from extinction.
In one well-known case, the wampas' ability to organize coordinated attacks was well demonstrated. A group of failed stormtrooper cadets established a business as guides leading these big-game hunters in pursuit of Hoth's wampas. Initially, they met with great success due to their advanced weaponry. However, by the fourth expedition the wampas had learned their enemy's secrets. The hunters landed and set out in search of their quarry. Meanwhile, the wampas found and destroyed the expedition's starship. Over the course of the next several nights, the wampas circled the camp, howling madly. The frightened hunters wasted their ammunition shooting at shadows until the wampas attacked. The beasts dragged away just one hunter with each assault. Finally, the last two survivors killed one another rather than allowing themselves to fall prey to the wampas. This was one tale typically told by big-game hunters; some circles doubted the validity of the tale, pointing to the loophole that if there were no survivors, no one could have lived to report what had happened.
Skywalker later re-encountered the wampa he wounded with his lightsaber nine years later during a subsequent journey to Hoth with the Jedi Knight Callista Ming. There, they discovered a group of stranded wampa poachers, including a former stormtrooper named Burrk, and two Cathar brothers. The three had set up a business taking hunters to Hoth to hunt what they termed "the biggest game in the galaxy." The group found success after two hunting rounds, collecting the pelts of several creatures and killing numerous others. But on their third trek into the Hoth wilderness, the poachers met with disaster. They returned to their starship to find their pilot slaughtered. Trying to investigate the cause of death, the group was attacked by a group of wampas, killing a guide and three clients. The surviving five members found shelter in the abandoned Echo Base.
When Skywalker and Ming arrived on the planet just days later, the two Jedi and five survivors were once again attacked by an army of wampas who had grouped together under the leadership of the dismembered beast, who recognized Skywalker's and Ming's lightsabers as a threat. As a coordinated group, the wampas displayed enough intelligence to ruin the flight controls of the Jedi's ship, as they had with the poachers, to prevent escape. After the wampa horde chased the group back into the confines of Echo Base, the beasts created a diversion by banging on the base's closed shield doors until they could break through the icy walls of the facility. Skywalker and Ming were able to reach their damaged ship with the stopping power of their lightsabers—Skywalker killing the one-armed beast for good in the process—and escape the planet after rigging their vessel to restart through an alternative power source, but not before the remaining poachers were killed. Skywalker later remarked that he believed the one-armed wampa recognized him personally and that they consequently possessed long-term memories.
By 27 BBY, a Shi'ido Changeling impersonating the former Twi'lek Jedi Knight-turned-pirate Reess Kairn had set up a lumni-spice mining operation on Hoth using the planet's wampas as food-collecting servants. He fitted several of the creatures with a type of bio-stimulant brain implant, making them more docile and able to understand and respond to the Shi'ido's verbal commands. They were instructed to retrieve tauntauns and bring them back to his subterranean cave, where they were taught to skin them in preparation for his consumption. Hoping to collect a posted price on Kairn's head, the bounty hunter Aurra Sing infiltrated the cave draped in the skinned hide of a dead wampa. She was able to neutralize the Kairn impersonator while simultaneously killing many of his wampas in a manufactured cave-in. The rocky collapse awakened a large dragon slug, which also crushed one of the wampas in its massive jaws.
The Balti smuggler Bingo Mehndra possessed a captured pet wampa in a secret Hoth base of his. When the Hutt crime lord Jabba Desilijic Tiure sent his musical retainers, the Max Rebo Band, on a covert assassination mission to Hoth to kill Mehndra, the smuggler threatened to feed the musicians to his wampa if he suspected a trick. The participants of Jabba the Hutt's demolition games later encountered a single wampa while competing on Hoth shortly before 4 ABY.
On a mission to Hoth in 14 ABY, Jedi Master Kyle Katarn and his apprentice, Jedi student Jaden Korr, encountered several rogue wampas around the perimeter and inhabiting the ruins of Echo Base. Korr found one wampa in particular attacking a tauntaun within the base.
Wampas in the galaxy
Knowledge of the wampa throughout the galaxy was limited. Of those aware of the creatures' existence, understanding typically came by way of overhearing big-game hunters speak of what they considered legendary quarry on account of the wampas' violence and formidable claws and teeth. Indeed, hyperbole and rumors of the wampa's fearsomeness abounded. The planet Hoth was synonymous with the wampa—in the rare instances the planet was mentioned in conversation, it was common to hear the wampa mentioned in the same breath.
Many believed that wampas possessed at least rudimentary intelligence. Through extensive research into the records of other creatures appearing similar to the wampa, evidence had been found suggesting mass coordinated attacks made by the creatures. In some cases, these attacks laid waste to entire outposts of colonists on other worlds. This was later substantiated by the Rebels of Echo Base.
Wampas were one of several "trophy" animals smuggled onto the planet Coruscant for the pleasure of its citizenry. As with their smuggled counterparts, these wampas were quickly discovered to be too dangerous to handle and were either released into the environment or escaped on their own, labeled from that point as "fugitive animals." These renegade wampas instinctively migrated to Coruscant's cooler polar regions to eke out an existence. Wampas also existed on the Outer Rim ice world Rhen Var.
As of 41 BBY, the Galactic Republic prohibited the transportation of wampas throughout the galaxy. The Jedi Master Tholme and his Padawan, Quinlan Vos, were assigned to track a felonious dealer of interdicted beasts to the planet Ryloth, where they suspected their target was connected to the Twi'lek Clan Secura. Unbeknownst to the Jedi, the Hutt crime lord presiding over the slave trade on Ryloth held a captive wampa—one of the interdicted beasts—in the name of personal security, sold to it by Pol Secura. The wampa managed to break free of its restraints during the Jedi's visit, killing the Hutt and several others nearby. The young slave girl Aayla Secura was able to reach out telepathically through the Force to call to Vos for help during the confusion. He soon arrived at her side but found himself overmatched by the large beast after first naively trying to reason with it. On the brink of death within the wampa's grasp, Vos, with the assistance of the young Secura, called his lightsaber to his hand via the Force and put an end to the wampa's rampage. With Secura's sensitivity to the Force realized, she was taken to Coruscant to be trained as a Jedi.
Around 32 BBY, the crime lord Gargonn the Hutt ran an enterprise shipping exotic beasts around the galaxy, operating the Circus Horrificus, a gruesome traveling show of alien monstrosities, out of the bowels of the moon Nar Shaddaa. Wampas listed among the many beasts included in Gargonn's animal smuggling ring.
Cog Hive Seven
- "You weren't supposed to survive your match with the wampa."
- ―Sadiki Blirr, to Darth Maul
The space penitentiary known as Cog Hive Seven ran an extremely lucrative yet illicit gambling operation a decade and a half before the beginning of the Clone Wars. By forcibly pitting its inmates against each other in gladiatorial combat and betting on the matches using an elaborate algorithm to predetermine the winner of each bout, the prison made a fortune at the expense of the galactic gambling community. Cog Hive Seven eventually obtained a wampa from a couple of freelance bounty hunters, who delivered the creature to the prison from an abandoned spaceport in the Anoat system. Believing the wampa to have previously fought in illegal gladiatorial contests, the prison's administration planned to match the beast against its own inmates. The wampa was yet infected with a disease that greatly affected its physiology.
In 33 BBY, Darth Maul, apprentice of the Dark Lord Darth Sidious, infiltrated Cog Hive Seven on a mission for his Master by masquerading as an inmate, though he was forbidden to call upon the power of the Force or reveal his true identity as a Sith Lord. Cog Hive Seven's algorithm soon matched Maul against the prison's wampa, a fight that Maul was calculated to lose, with the majority of offworld gambling combines betting that the odds were in the beast's favor. The wampa stood nearly three meters in height, with a battered physical appearance indicative of previous combat, including a filthy, blood-stained pelt that had been ripped away in spots along its chest and abdomen, and a cranial horn that had been partially snapped off. The fight began with the wampa slashing Maul twice with its claws. Maul retaliated but quickly came to the realization that there was indeed something profoundly wrong with the creature after driving his elbow into the wampa's skull with a force that should have broken its neck, to no effect. The disease that infected the wampa enabled it to continue fighting even after Maul shattered its skull with a subsequent head-butt, but Maul put an end to the match by driving his arms through the soft tissue of the wampa's torso and crushing its heart between his hands.
Wampas were occasionally found participating in illegal gladiatorial games on a number of Outer Rim worlds. Early during the Clone Wars, Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress faced a wampa, among other opponents, in the Cauldron, an infamous gladiatorial arena on the rocky planet of Rattatak. She hoped to persuade Count Dooku to accept her as his Sith apprentice by displaying her combat abilities. In similar fashion, the Jedi Master Luminara Unduli faced off against a wampa in gladiatorial style combat while in the Arena of Doom, a gladiator stadium owned by Mondo-Mod the Hutt, who had his wampa contestant shipped in directly from Hoth. Without using her lightsaber or Force abilities, Unduli defeated the beast by jumping, grabbing its horns, and flipping it. She attributed her victory to simple physics. For her victory over the wampa and subsequent opponents, Mondo-Mod revealed to her the location of a Separatist Droid Army factory on the planet Diorda.
The Rodian Onaconda Farr, senator of the Doldur sector, possessed a wampa-skin rug during the Clone Wars. Farr kept the rug, comprising a stuffed head but bereft of appendages, within his retreat on the planet Rodia. Warm wampa-skin rugs of high quality immediately showed visitors to one's home that one was an individual of refined taste and class.
On a tactical screen within a Republic ground base command center commanded by Anakin Skywalker at some point early during the Clone Wars, Aurebesh lettering described a sort of wampa attack taking place. Also present within the base's command center was a chest with the Aurebesh lettering "HOT-." A Low Altitude Assault Transport/infantry with a picture of a snarling Wampa on the front saw service with Republic forces during this period, and it was given the nickname Wampa Runner.
A sizable community of wampas lived on Asuin, a planet deep within Hutt Space besieged by fierce ice storms, during the Clone Wars. Jedi Generals Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker landed on Asuin during the war while pursuing valuable stolen data containing the location of the Confederacy of Independent Systems' hypermatter generators. Upon touching down on Asuin's surface in dropped speeders, Kenobi and Skywalker quickly fell under attack by a large group upwards of ten wampas. The Jedi escaped the beasts by leaping to the far side of a nearby ravine, leaving the wampas to push Skywalker's speeder into the deep chasm separating the two parties. Kenobi, specifically, recognized the creatures and referred to the wampas by species name.
At some point during the Clone Wars, the Chevin slaver Phylus Mon kept a single male wampa named Ku-Kak as a personal bodyguard in addition to several other retainers. Mon discovered the wampa on a distant ice-covered world and selected the beast into his employ due to its unique ability to wield the Force. Ku-Kak's training under Mon included understanding and being able to respond to his master's commands in the Chevin language and also to identify and attack Jedi, for whom Mon held a strong dislike. The wampa identified Jedi by the fact that they carried lightsabers, and because he differentiated them from Mischa Vorfren, a male Anzati soldier also in Mon's employ who carried a lightsaber that Ku-Kak had collected as a trophy and given to him, and whom Ku-Kak considered an ally. To combat Jedi, Mon provided Ku-Kak with a Sith sword that he had picked up during his travels; the wampa proved very adept at wielding the sword, which augmented his powers in the dark side of the Force. Additionally, Ku-Kak, like the other slaves under Mon's command, was outfitted with an explosive device in his heart programmed to detonate in the instance that Mon died and the Chevin's own heart stopped beating. Although this provided Mon's lieutenants with the motivation to fight for him, the wampa lacked full awareness of what had been implanted inside him.
Mon traveled with an entourage of enslaved creatures wherever he went—his so-called "zoo"—to which the wampa belonged. The wampa accompanied Mon during his attack of the Sith fortress on the planet Almas in the Cularin system, where the Chevin stole the darkstaff, a powerful Sith artifact, and during which multiple Jedi were killed. A team of Cularin heroes attempting to end the threat that Mon posed encountered Ku-Kak after infiltrating the throne room of Mon's starship, the Animiasma, within the Cularin system asteroid belt.
During the Clone Wars, some clone troopers were known to dress up in special wampa suits for special occasions. For Halloween, some were known to have dressed in a purple fur wampa suit and for Life Day there was a simple white suit.
Galactic Civil War and beyond
- "That wampa on the wall was my kill!"
By 2 BBY, among other lethal creatures, including an acklay and a krayt dragon, the Imperial Captain Ozzik Sturn displayed the head of a wampa in a trophy room he maintained in his personal quarters on the planet Kashyyyk. Sturn, a big-game hunter, collected the heads of his prey during hunts.
Six months after the Battle of Yavin, the Shi'ido Senior Anthropologist Mammon Hoole shape-shifted into a wampa while he and his nephews, Zak Arranda and Tash Arranda, were attacked by a horde of zombies in the Crypt of the Ancients on the planet Necropolis. Hoole was able to manhandle the zombies in his transformed physicality. In 1 ABY, Darth Vader and a stormtrooper detail arrived at the Jedi Enclave on the planet Dantooine, where Vader discovered a clone of himself. While the two engaged in a Force duel, a similar clone of Hoole in the transformed shape of a wampa neutralized one of the stormtroopers.
Circa early 3 ABY, Crazy Larry's Galactic Getaways, a travel agency, featured a still image of a wampa in its advertisement for a vacation to Hoth. The advertisement warned potential customers that interaction with the planet's native wildlife occurred at their own risk, citing the wampas' history of attacking landing starships and other vehicles.
While in pursuit of the bounty hunter Boba Fett late in 3 ABY, Dash Rendar encountered the Imperial-bioengineered cliff wampa in Smuggler's Canyon near the Cadavine Sector Fleet Imperial Enclave on the moon of Gall. Mara Jade encountered the swamp wampas of Dromund Kaas on a mission to that planet in 10 ABY.
Wampas also held an element of cultural significance for many. The forces of the space pirate Gir Kybo Ren-Cha flew stolen TIE Fighters emblazoned with their trademark red wampa skull signet in the years prior to the Battle of Yavin. By 1 BBY, Holgurn, a Gamorrean messenger in the employ of Jabba the Hutt, was familiar enough with the creatures to compare the inexperienced Rodian bounty hunter Greedo to the inconspicuousness of a wampa, while an Imperial TIE/LN starfighter pilot went by the nickname "Wampa" during the Galactic Civil War for icy precision in battle. Also during the Galactic Civil War, wampa stuffed animals offered denizens the soft and cuddly aspects of the creature without the danger of being mauled and eaten.
In later years, Rogue Squadron Colonel Gavin Darklighter designated an enemy starship as "Wampa" during the Battle of Sernpidal in 26 ABY amidst the Yuuzhan Vong War. A Jedi Initiate training clan of the New Jedi Order—the Wampa Clan—was named after the Hoth creatures. The martial arts form Teräs Käsi consisted of two combat techniques named after the wampa—the Charging Wampa and the Slashing Wampa. The city of Pons Ora on the planet Abafar hosted a business known as Adopt-a-Wampa, though exactly how one could adopt one of these highly dangerous creatures, or why they would want to, was unclear.
Behind the scenes
- "We knew, for instance, of the scene where a wampa actually broke through into Echo Base and mauled a tauntaun…The wampa filmed in this shot looked absolutely hilarious with a big fluffy face and metallic round eyeballs. We saw the picture in a Kodak shoebox Photo CD Lucasfilm Ltd. provided us with some time ago."
- ―Jon Knoles, discussing Lucasfilm Ltd.'s contributions to creating Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire for Nintendo 64
From concept to creation
The wampa ice creature was created for George Lucas's Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back and first appeared in Donald F. Glut's novelization of the film, just prior to its theatrical debut.
The creature may have been based on the cryptozoological phenomenon of the "Yeti," or the "Abominable Snowman," a humanoid beast believed to live in the Himalayas. Notes from early concept meetings suggest that the wampa, like the Yeti, may have supernatural powers as well. In early story discussions, the wampa was described as a fishlike beast capable of swimming through the snow, and the creatures were intended to be inside the base where the Rebels were hiding, creating chaos when Vader is approaching to begin his attack on the base.
In the winter of 1977, Mark Hamill was in a serious car accident that left him in need of reconstructive facial surgery. Many believe that the wampa attack on Skywalker was included in the film to explain Hamill's residual scarring and slightly altered facial features.
Some of the earliest production drawings of Echo Base's interior from May 1978 include call-outs indicating where a "Yuzzem" is to break through the ice walls of the base, as seen in The Art of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. The concept of the Yuzzem creature was introduced into Star Wars Legends in Alan Dean Foster's novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye, published on March 1, 1978, before the production drawings were created. This suggests that the creature that came to be known as the wampa was first referred to as a "Yuzzem," until Foster adapted the name for his story.
To create the wampa's roar, sound-effects artist Randy Thom recorded the noises made by an elephant in the Oakland Zoo. Sound designer Ben Burtt and the film's sound team then recorded the cries of a sea lion at Marineland of the Pacific public oceanarium and mixed that with the elephant recording to produce the final effect.
Originally the wampa was to be portrayed by actor Des Webb wearing a giant suit made of sheepskins on location in Norway, where the Hoth scenes were shot. The costume, which required the actor to stand on stilts, proved too unwieldy, and it was too heavy and hot, causing Webb to suffer heat exhaustion. All of the shots of the life-size wampa were eventually cut from the film. Creature designer Phil Tippett later built a small wampa hand puppet, visible in a quick close-up as the creature attacks Luke Skywalker.
For the Special Edition release of The Empire Strikes Back in 1997, George Lucas decided to expand the wampa scenes. In order to do so, Industrial Light & Magic artist Howie Weed constructed a more mobile version of the costume, without the stilts, which he wore in the film. The new shots were filmed within a scaled-down replica of a cave to create the illusion that the wampa was much larger than a normal Human.
Wampas originally played a much more prominent role in early versions of The Empire Strikes Back. In the treatment and the first draft, wampas storm Echo Base shortly before the arrival of the Empire. In the original shooting script, a tauntaun was killed when a wampa stormed into Echo Base. Shots of a wampa breaking through one of the walls of the complex and attacking Rebel soldiers were filmed but ultimately dropped from the final version of the movie. In addition, the wall did not crumble properly and the shot was never successfully achieved. Final versions of the script depicted a mass-coordinated wampa attack on Echo Base. There were several scenes shot for the film that showed this incident, as well as a sequence involving C-3PO tearing a warning sign off the door of a wampa pen, followed by a group of snowtroopers entering the pen only to be attacked by the wampas inside. However, these scenes were later deleted and did not make the final version of the film.
Marvel's Star Wars comic adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars 40, released in October 1980, was the first Star Wars source to discuss the deleted wampa scenes in an in-universe context, in which references are made to the fact that wampas are being held captive at Echo Base.
The creature's on-screen ferocity made its appearance in The Empire Strikes Back a popular candidate for recreation in several video games, including The Empire Strikes Back for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Star Wars Trilogy: Apprentice of the Force for Game Boy Advance, and LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy.
Other releases have sought to expound upon the wampas' attack on Echo Base, depicting their captivity by the Rebels. The Nintendo 64 release of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire was the first visual representation outside of filmed footage to show the wampa pens. The game's designers were specially provided with images of deleted scenes of the wampa by Lucasfilm Ltd. The subsequent Star Wars Trilogy Arcade recreated the escape from Echo Base, in which the player must defeat wampas in an attempt to reach the Millennium Falcon.
Video games and other appearances
The wampa has appeared in several other video games. In the computer game Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, the wampa is one of many wild creatures that cannot be built or harvested for food, and who will attack any unit it comes near. In Star Wars: Battlefront II, a group of wampas battles a variant force of Rebel infantry outside Echo Base on the planet Hoth and also on Rhen Var. Wampas can be encountered on Hoth in Star Wars: Empire at War and the expansion Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption. The game Star Wars Galaxies created a new scenario as part of the "Chapter 11: The Battle of Echo Base" expansion module in which wampas, including the giant wampa Unkajo, inhabit a valley outside Echo Base and must be defeated during the Battle of Hoth.
LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy features an ice-skating wampa, one of several humorous elements interjected into the game. It is possible to play as a wampa and a cliff wampa in the "Escape from Echo Base" and "Gall Spaceport" levels, respectively, in the video game Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire.
The Star Wars Cookbook: Wookiee Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes provides a recipe for "Wampa Snow Cones."
The Game Boy Advance game Star Wars Trilogy: Apprentice of the Force depicted Wampas as enemies within the Echo Base level during the Battle of Hoth, one in particular also single-handedly attacking several stormtroopers before focusing its attention on Luke.
There remains a discrepancy between the nature of the shielded pens that held captive several wampas inside Echo Base, as well as the number of wampas caged. The West End Games sourcebook Galaxy Guide 3: The Empire Strikes Back implies multiple such pens holding several wampas. The video game Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire confirms multiple pens and depicts the wampas as being held behind reinforced cages inside the pens. However, the reference book Star Wars: Complete Locations, which offers an extensively detailed cross-section of the base, includes only one such wampa pen without interior cages. In this small illustration the wampas are seemingly left to roam free within the small pen, while in the close confines of one another.
The 2001 reference book The Wildlife of Star Wars: A Field Guide and a 2009 trading card from the The Nightsister's Revenge expansion of the Star Wars Galaxies Trading Card Game stated that wampas are reptomammals, but the 2006 reference book The New Essential Guide to Alien Species states that wampas are primates.
The wampa makes several non-canonical appearances.
The Great Golden C-3PO Hunt tells of the search for the rogue C-3PO following the First Battle of Tatooine. During the hunt a group of four stormtroopers are eventually led to Hoth, where an Imperial Army pilot in the cockpit of an All Terrain Scout Transport informs them he has seen a wampa, among other things, but no golden droid.
The wampa makes three non-canonical appearances in the Star Wars Tales comic series. The short story "Hunger Pains" revealed that the wampa that attacked Skywalker did so because her children were hungry, while Chewbacca retrieves the bracelet of a dead girl from a wampa cave in "Ghosts of Hoth." In "The Secret Tales of Luke's Hand!," Luke Skywalker's hand, severed in the duel with Darth Vader on Cloud City, returns to Hoth to discover the similarly severed arm of the wampa that was maimed by Skywalker. Just as Skywalker had done years before, his hand uses the Force to grab a nearby lightsaber and finishes off the wampa appendage.
The comic Star Wars Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back retells of Skywalker's wampa attack and subsequent escape from the creature's cave; however, he dies on the Hoth wastes before he can be rescued by Han Solo. Marvel's Star Wars comic Star Wars 78 describes how pilots Wedge Antilles and Wes Janson survived the Battle of Hoth, but were unable to escape and found themselves stranded on the ice planet for months. There, they fended off numerous wampa attacks.
In the young-reader novel Choose Your Own Star Wars Adventure: The Empire Strikes Back, the reader can opt to let Skywalker die at the hands of the wampa and instead choose to return to Echo Base.
In the video game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition, the Emperor's apprentice, Lord Starkiller, the dark side persona of Galen Marek, encounters many wampas throughout the subterranean ice caverns of Hoth while infiltrating the Rebels' Echo Base during a non-canonical version of the Battle of Hoth. Within the ice caverns, the wampas impede Starkiller's approach by hurling giant balls of ice at him, as well as delivering powerful blows with their claws. Starkiller must also battle his way through several more wampas within the interior of Echo Base itself, where the creatures find themselves the targets of the base's defending Rebel troops as well. The climax of the Echo Base level features a lightsaber duel between Starkiller and Luke Skywalker. At one point during the duel, Skywalker, having fallen to the ground, uses the Force to break open the sealed door to one of the base's wampa pens, unleashing three of the creatures on Starkiller as a quick diversion. Starkiller must eliminate the freed wampas before pursuing Skywalker. Before finally catching up with Skywalker in Echo Base's main hangar, Starkiller is confronted by several more wampas whom he must dispatch, including another group that burst out of another of the base's holding pens.
Star Wars (1987 game)
In the Japanese game released in 1987, a creature who looked like a Wampa possessed shapeshifting abilities, and briefly took the appearance of the Sith Lord Darth Vader. Luke confronted it when trying to rescue his allies on Hoth.
- Jedi Academy (Mentioned only)
- Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan
- LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (Appears in cutscene(s))
- LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Appears in cutscene(s))
- LEGO Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles – "Clash of the Skywalkers"
- Star Wars: Tiny Death Star
- The Great Golden C-3PO Hunt (Mentioned only)
- "Hunger Pains"—Star Wars Tales 20
- "Ghosts of Hoth"—Star Wars Tales 17
- Star Wars Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back
- Choose Your Own Star Wars Adventure: The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars: Yoda Stories
- Star Wars 78
- The Return of Tag & Bink: Special Edition (Mentioned only)
- "The Secret Tales of Luke's Hand!"—Star Wars Tales 8 (Arm only)
- William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed video game — Ultimate Sith Edition