Darkness Beyond Darkness
An analysis of the power of Emperor Palpatine
Perceptions of the character of Palpatine have changed enormously throughout the past four years. At one time, the popular perception was that he was among the weakest of the Sith Lords in the mythos. As the years went on, Palpatine began to climb the ranks of strength and skill in the public’s eye until, as of 2009, many believe that he is the most powerful dark side practitioner in the whole of Star Wars canon. The quotes, accolades, and achievements to Palpatine’s name have long been researched and discovered by Publius, Lightsnake, and myself, but given the controversy of certain individuals (read: Nebaris and Janus) still questioning Palpatine’s place in the hierarchy of Force users, I have decided to draft a comprehensive essay of the character’s many strengths relative to Force use and combat. Hopefully, by the end, the reader will be convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Emperor Palpatine is not just the most powerful Sith Lord in the mythos, but the most powerful Force user in general, bar none.
Special thanks to Stardestroyer.net members Publius and Illuminatus Primus, KMC members Faunus, Darth Sexy, Elite Hunter, Enyalus, and Captain Valerian for scholarly example and Lightsnake for changing a forum.
The most powerful Sith Lord ever?
It should be noted that, aside of the wealth of accolades and feats to augment his status relative to his Sith peers, Palpatine is the only character who has been declared the most powerful Sith Lord ever. Popular alternatives such as ancient Sith Lord Marka Ragnos and former Jedi Darth Revan have only ever been proclaimed the strongest of their time. The only other character that has been deemed the most powerful of his or her kind ever was the Jedi Grandmaster Yoda. The statements, the sources, and an analysis of each are below:
“Yoda went after Palpatine in the empty Senate chamber, but could not defeat the most powerful Sith Lord in history.”(The New Essential Chronology, page 84)
It has been contended by skeptics that the adjective ‘most powerful’ is in reference to Palpatine’s political ascension. In a manner of speaking, this is correct; Palpatine’s ascent to Galactic Emperor gave him an unprecedented political stranglehold on the galaxy, an office that no other Sith achieved nor would ever achieve again (false Sith Lords Darth Caedus and, after him, Darth Krayt would proclaim themselves rulers of the galaxy; however, their legitimacy to the Sith title is nonexistent and both ruled only roughly half of the galaxy during their respective reigns). In practice, however, this contention is demonstrably false. The context of the situation was not a political debate or an election, but a battle to the death between the Dark Lord of the Sith and the Grandmaster of the Jedi, eliminating all possibilities that it is a reference to political acumen.
It should be noted, however, that the statement is from an in-universe source. The New Essential Chronology is actually written by Voren Na’al and the Galactic Alliance Historical Council, not a source from the out-of-universe omniscient narrator. What does this mean? That, simply put, this source alone cannot be used as conclusive evidence that Palpatine is more powerful than any other Sith Lord in history. That said, it is a credible and well-written chronology, drafted by the historical council of a galactic superpower with access to nearly unlimited resources; a far cry from an unsubstantiated or dubious claim made by a fallible individual. Though it cannot be used singularly, it is credible enough to function as a supplement to the rest of the argument.
“The Emperor had known it would be thus, of course [that the Rebel Alliance would be troublesome]; the resistance had not been a surprise to him. The Emperor was completely in concert with the dark side of the Force. He was the most powerful Sith who had ever existed.” (Death Star, page 76)
This statement, far more than the last, is unreliable. An analysis of the excerpt and its subsequent remark—“As would Vader be, someday”—reveals it to be the inner musings of Darth Vader, the third of Palpatine’s Sith apprentices. Though a well-informed and mighty Lord of the Sith, Vader is ultimately a fallible source. The fact that upon his death he remained weaker than his Master would disprove this musing as binding.
“Vader imagined the power that could be his if he crushed Palpatine and established his own rule over the Empire. But first, he would need his own apprentice. By himself, he could not hope to defeat the most powerful Sith Lord the galaxy had ever known.” (Vader: the Ultimate Guide, page 19)
The final proclamation of Palpatine’s status as the strongest dark sider in history is the most valid of all. Written from an out-of-universe visual guide, it is a blanket statement that is thoroughly and utterly binding. From the perspective of most with any sort of regard for the Lucasfilm canon policy, one would naturally conclude that the debate would be over.
As of February 21st, 2009, it is not. Fortunately, there is much more than a simple blanket statement to reinforce this position. The rest of this essay will explore the facets of Palpatine’s command of the Force.
Serving Darth Plagueis
According to the Core Rulebook, Palpatine’s Sith alter ego, Darth Sidious, had been “plotting the destruction of the Jedi for decades” by the time of the events of the Phantom Menace, which would suggest—though not require—that Palpatine ascended to Sith Mastery at the age of 30. The audience discovers during the Revenge of the Sith the existence of a Sith Lord called Darth Plagueis, who is the subject of a “Sith legend” that then-Chancellor Palpatine uses to plant seeds of doubt within the mind of Anakin Skywalker. The movie’s novelization and official Star Wars databank confirm that Plagueis was Palpatine’s Sith Master.
Plagueis is the subject of much speculation within the mythos. Though this essay is not about him, it is through his philosophy and teachings that Palpatine would gain the tools necessary to achieve galactic domination. To understand Plagueis is to understand the foundation of Palpatine’s entire being.
Darth Plagueis was “a mystic obsessed with eternal life,” according to the New Essential Chronology and both the official databank and Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia declare that he was “a master of arcane and unnatural knowledge.” Palpatine claimed (and seemed to thoroughly believe, if his thoughts in Dark Lord: the Rise of Darth Vader are to be trusted) that Plagueis was powerful enough to manipulate midichlorians to create and prolong the life of another being (the Complete Encyclopedia confirms the latter claim to be true). The New Essential Chronology and Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia both speculate that the birth of Anakin Skywalker, a human male whose potential for Force use was the greatest in history, was the product of Plagueis and Sidious’s experiments for eternal life. Indeed, such remarkable examples of obscure power ensured Plagueis’s own status as “one of the most powerful Sith Lords” (the Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia).
This career of deep mysticism and power would end with Darth Plagueis being the unfortunate victim of betrayal: at an undisclosed period of time, he was murdered by Darth Sidious in his sleep.
Even without the numerous accolades and feats of strength that surround Palpatine, an informed debater can quickly grasp the depth of Palpatine’s command of the dark side of the Force simply by gazing upon his countenance.
According to both the Dark Side Sourcebook and Palpatine’s own entry in the Telos Holocron, there is a paradox to the dark side—“the more successful the dark sider, the more quickly that dark sider’s body decays.” The more powerful, prominent, and skilled a dark sider is, the more rapidly his body pays the penalty for dark strength.
According to the Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, “so powerful was [Palpatine] in the Force that the very essence of the dark side ravaged his form,” stating quite clearly that his ravaged, decaying body is an absolute indication of utter power. The official databank further indicates that “the very source of Palpatine’s strength was killing him.” Unable to implement Plagueis’s knowledge himself, Palpatine was forced to seek alternatives for immortality, which included a stock of able-bodied clones and constantly draining the life essence of the 20 billion inhabitants of his throne world, Byss.
Some skeptics have contended that this would suggest a connection to the Force surpassing any other character in the mythos—including Anakin Skywalker, who, according to George Lucas, would have been “twice as powerful” as Palpatine had he achieved his full potential. The Complete Encyclopedia, page 285, concludes thus:
“The Jedi Knights discovered that the Force was accessible to all living beings through the presence of midichlorians in their cells. The more midichlorians inhabiting a being’s cells, the more the being was able to connect to the Force. However, a high concentration of midichlorians did not guarantee a being control of the Force. Only through intense study and dedicated training could one become more proficient in harnessing the power of the Force.”
Though Anakin’s midichlorian count (over 20,000 per cell) was the highest on record and thus granted him a connection to the Force exceeding even the likes of Palpatine, his comparative study and training were relatively lackluster. An analysis of Skywalker’s career reveals that he had never been much of a scholar, relying on innate strength and impulsive combat skills to excel. Furthermore, his relatively low rank of Jedi Knight limited his access to the vast library of arcane Jedi knowledge (the Revenge of the Sith novelization), blunting his chances for great Force mastery. In contrast, Palpatine’s study of the Force consisted of at least six decades and the knowledge of millions of worlds.
Though an overview of Darth Sidious would likely result in the conclusion that he was more of a schemer and manipulator than an actual fighter, a deeper analysis reveals that even if one were to disregard his nefarious intellect and prodigious command of the Force, the Dark Lord of the Sith is among the most dangerous combatants in the mythos.
(Note: This section will not discuss Palpatine’s command or knowledge of the Force, but strictly limit itself to an analysis of his mastery of lightsaber and melee combat.)
There is no known depiction of Palpatine’s martial skills, aside from his Force-enhanced speed, reflexes, and acrobatics. However, as the sole instructor of his three Sith apprentices, we can conclude with reasonable logic that he possessed many of the physical skills that they have demonstrated.
Darth Maul, Sidious’s first known apprentice, was—more so than even the terrifying Darth Vader—a physical specimen. According to the Complete Visual Dictionary, Darth Maul “is one of the most highly trained Sith in the history of the Order.” The same source indicates that Maul’s training pushed “his physical and Force-assisted abilities to the utmost.” The Ultimate Visual Guide mentions that “Zabraks”—Maul’s species—“are renowned for their mental discipline, and have a natural ability to withstand physical suffering,” but that “Sidious tested Maul’s endurance to the very limits during his training.” Maul was a master of Juyo, a lightsaber form that required its user to be “a high level master of multiple forms,” according to Fight Saber and the Essential Guide to the Force, indicating that Palpatine himself was one such master. The Emperor’s simulacrum depicted in the Telos Holocron would claim to have “trained [Maul] in esoteric martial arts,” accrediting Sidious a level of great skill in combat. In Episode I Journal: Darth Maul, Darth Sidious demonstrates the ability to “move faster than [Maul’s] eye could follow,” and wielded a lightsaber with such preternatural precision that he traced his apprentice’s body with its blade so closely that “one flinch, one involuntary twitch of a muscle” would have killed him.
Revenge of the Sith depicts the majority of events that require Palpatine to lift his Sith blade against an enemy in his long career. But those few occasions are enough to cement his level of skill firmly within the realm of prodigious. After the siege of Coruscant by Confederacy forces and the deaths of Count Dooku and General Grievous, then-Chancellor Palpatine was confronted in his private office by four Jedi Masters: Mace Windu, Kit Fisto, Agen Kolar, and Saesee Tiin. They had been informed of Palpatine’s dark alter ego by a shaken Anakin Skywalker and intended to arrest him.
Contrary to the beliefs of some skeptics and most casual fans, Windu’s entourage consisted of three of the Jedi Order’s finest duelists. The Complete Visual Dictionary cites them all as “a trio of celebrated swordmasters,” and Windu himself refer the assembled team as “four of the best [Masters].” The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia mentions that “Kolar was a tough combatant, and diplomacy was not his strong suit,” and that “Tiin was known for his foresight and ability to see the future,” and proclaims Fisto “a mighty warrior.” Indeed, Star Wars: the Clone Wars television series depicts Kit Fisto overpowering Confederacy strategist and feared Jedi killer General Grievous in single combat, despite Grievous’s mastery of all seven forms of lightsaber combat and personal training by Count Dooku. Despite these accolades and the facts that the Masters were armed with knowledge of Palpatine’s Sith allegiance and they had the advantage of having ignited their lightsabers and assumed combat stances, Darth Sidious brandished his own lightsaber, hurtled over his desk, and butchered Masters Tiin and Kolar within three seconds. Soaring headlong into Fisto and Windu, he sparred with both Masters for a few more seconds before bisecting the former and “forcing the mighty Windu back,” according to the official databank. Windu’s mastery of Vaapad and the shatterpoint charism were enough to eventually yield an advantage over the Chancellor, and the duel ended with Windu disarming the Sith Lord as Anakin Skywalker rushed into the office.
It should also be noted that Palpatine’s lightsaber had been secluded in a statue within his office, laying in darkness for over a decade (Revenge of the Sith). This, combined with Palpatine’s increased responsibilities as Chancellor—and Count Dooku’s musings that Sidious didn’t need to bother with lightsaber tutelage (Labyrinth of Evil)—indicates that Palpatine was approximately 13 years out of practice when he squared off against the Jedi in 19 BBY.
Of all the mystics and shamans and Jedi and Sith that have been portrayed in the mythos, there is no individual whose knowledge of the Force comes close to registering to that of Darth Sidious. The Dark Empire Sourcebook states that, upon his ascent to Galactic Emperor, Palpatine “gathered the greatest works [of Force knowledge] from over a million worlds” and “studied the Force in all its guises throughout the galaxy, whether it was the shamanism of the Jarvashqinne or the tales of the Tyia,” and that he had “long ago gone beyond any knowledge to be found in the recovered teachings of the Krath and Heresiarchs.” The New Essential Guide to Characters mentions that Palpatine had studied the Sorcerers of Tund prior to their destruction, particularly the adept Rokur Gepta. Many may be unfamiliar with these four esoteric Force cults, so a brief overview shall be provided.
The Jarvashqinne and Heresiarchs are easily the two most obscure references. The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia states that the Jarvashqinne is “a term that described both a religion that worshipped individuals who had mystical powers, as well as the shaman-like priests who wielded those powers, which were much like the control of the Force,” and that the Heresiarchs were “one of the many religious sects formed on the basis of Sith lore and teachings.” The same source concludes that the Krath was “a secret society founded by dark side dabblers and spoiled aristocrats Aleema and Satal Keto some 4,000 years before the Galactic Civil War in the Empress Teta star system,” and that it “developed into a dark side magical sect” before “being destroyed by several Jedi Knights.”
The Sorcerers of Tund was a “mysterious and ancient sect once based on the planet Tund,” that “traced their origins back to the Sith Empire,” according to the Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia. The New Essential Chronology and the Essential Guide to the Force conclude that the Sorcerers’ teachings were based on “archaic interpretations of original Sith doctrine,” which served to attract Emperor Palpatine’s interest. Though the extent of the Sorcerers’ power has not been explored, the Essential Guide to the Force mentions that they were frequently visited by Jedi recruiters and periodically asked to join the Order, “but the sorcerers—some of whom demonstrated powers at least as great as those of the Jedi recruiters—declined.” During his reign, Palpatine enjoyed an “amicable relationship” with the last of the Sorcerer’s of Tund, Rokur Gepta. The Emperor allowed Gepta limited autonomy in a sector called the Centrality and a token Imperial defense force, leading New Jedi Order historian Tionne Solusar to conclude in the Essential Guide to the Force that Palpatine “had some degree of respect” for Gepta, who would later meet his end at the hands of Lando Calrissian.
During his many decades as the reigning Sith Lord, Palpatine acquired an unimaginable wealth of knowledge. Star Wars: Complete Locations mentions that his headquarters within the Chancellor Palpatine Surgical Reconstruction Center contained “archives, Sith holocrons, and other artifacts,” an “environmentally controlled display case for Sith scrolls,” and a “massive Sith holocron uncovered on Korriban.” After the execution of Order 66, the Jedi Archives on Coruscant were “raided by Emperor Palpatine and his Dark Side Adepts,” according to the Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia. The Dark Empire Sourcebook mentions a “full library of Dark Side texts” within Palpatine’s Citadel on Byss and the Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia’s entry on the same Citadel reveals that it was home to “libraries of dark side tomes” and “dark side alchemical laboratories.”
According to the Complete Star Wars Enyclopedia, page 51, a holocron was “a recording device used by the ancient Jedi Knights and Sith Lords to hold the teachings and lore needed to maintain the Jedi and Sith Orders.” The same source states that Emperor Palpatine “collected all manner of holocrons—both Sith and Jedi alike—in order to garner new information about use of the Force.” Palpatine’s subsequent raid of the Jedi Archives yielded the “restricted holocrons” which contained the deepest secrets of the greatest Masters of the Force,”—the ones desperately sought by Anakin Skywalker shortly before the rise of the Empire, which he intended to use to save his wife, Senator Padme Amidala, from inevitable death.
One of the notable holocrons in Palpatine’s clutches was the Tedryn Holocron (referred to by the New Jedi Order as “the Jedi Holocron”), which Palpatine claimed had been given to him by Jedi Master Ashka Boda, who was murdered by the Emperor at the end of the Clone Wars. This holocron would be stolen from Palpatine by Leia Organa Solo during the events of Operation Shadow Hand and subsequently destroyed by the spirit of ancient Sith Lord Exar Kun (The Essential Guide to the Force).
Another notable holocron that found itself in the Emperor’s grip was the Telos Holocron, recovered by the New Jedi Order during the so-called ‘Second Galactic Civil War’. This holocron in particular was of interest to the Jedi, due to the fact that Palpatine himself was the ‘gatekeeper’—the personage who functioned as the holocron’s archivist. Subsequent analysis of the Telos Holocron included a tour of the dark side, with Palpatine’s simulacrum functioning as a guide to the holocron’s audience, featured within the New Essential Guide to the Force. Within included entries from relatively obscure Sith Lords such as the ancient Ajunta Pall and Brotherhood of Darkness disciple Seviss Vaa to the more infamous and notorious Sith Lords such as Darth Bane and Darth Revan. Palpatine would periodically offer addendums to his predecessor’s work, correcting them or offering corroborative observations. The New Essential Guide to the Force also confirms many details about the Emperor’s knowledge of the Force and locations of Force relics.
An entry by Seviss Vaa conclusion that “many prominent Sith worlds—including Ziost, Khar Delba, and Khar Shian—went the way of Ashas Ree, as all were largely stripped of their relics by Republic forces after the Great Hyperspace War,” inciting this rebuttal from Palpatine’s simulacrum.
“Regarding Seviss Vaa’s descriptions of the worlds in Sith space, I can only assume he either lied about his visits to Khar Delba and Khar Shian or that his powers of observation were sorely lacking, as I discovered valuable relics on both worlds.”
Curiously, the Emperor does not mention the Sith home world of Ziost, which was once the heart of the Sith Empire. Despite this, Ziost was a resource utilized by Palpatine during the Empire, as he “sequestered” Emperor’s Hand and self-proclaimed Dark Lady of the Sith, Lumiya, on the planet for her training (the Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia).
“The Sith temples he mentioned in the Thule and Thurra systems are on Thule and Dromund Kaas, respectively, and were relatively easy to find despite Vaa’s cautions.”
Dromund Kaas was a site of battle during the New Sith Wars and became the home of a Sith cult known as the Prophets of the Dark Side (the Complete Star Wars Enyclopedia). According to the Essential Guide to the Force, the Prophets were founded by Darth Millennial, a “three-eyed mutant” who “rejected the Rule of Two for Lord Kaan’s philosophy of Rule by the Strong.” Fleeing his master, Darth Cognus, “Darth Millennial meditated on Sith teachings and combined them with the theories of early and pre-Republic thinkers such as Plaristes and Dak Ramis to create what he called the Dark Force.” The Essential Guide to the Force goes onto note that Millennial “hailed himself as a prophet chosen by the will of the Force, and attracted many Force-users across space.” This would include future Emperor’s Hand Cronal, who (in a twisted parallel of Rokur Gepta) infiltrated the cult in order to obtain its secrets. In reality, Cronal was an acolyte of the Sorcerers of Rhand, an obscure cult operating deep within the Unknown Regions that Cronal believed to have possess powers and influence beyond the scope of the Jedi or the Sith (Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor). It is unknown if Palpatine was aware of Cronal’s private allegiance and origins, but after Cronal’s disastrous attempt to achieve galactic conquest during the Mindor campaign, the wayward and scheming Emperor’s Hand found himself once again in the service of the Dark Lord of the Sith, recently reincarnated on Byss (The Dark Forces Saga, Part 5: Two Peas in a Pod).
The Essential Guide to the Force states that “the most powerful members of [the Prophets’] order were adept at using the Force to predict the outcome of future events.” According to the Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, shortly before the Clone Wars, Darth Sidious journeyed to Dromund Kaas and “caused the Prophets to ally with his grander plans for the galaxy and assisted in the training of his various dark side minions.” This partnership was not to last, and shortly after Palpatine departed for the Endor system to prepare for the planned final defeat of the Rebellion, the Prophets fled Coruscant (the Essential Guide to the Force).
The Emperor’s simulacrum revealed his knowledge of the works of “an ancient Jedi consular named Kla” who “turned to the ways of the Sith and became the gatekeeper for a most enlightening Holocron, which found its way into [his] possession.” He would go onto accredit Kla with “an encyclopedic knowledge of the Sith Empire under Naga Sadow,” and “although [Kla] didn’t always cite his sources, some of his knowledge may have been gained from a Sith Holocron kept by the Jedi Master Odan-Urr on Ossus,” indicating that Palpatine had acquired relics from the Jedi headquarters there.
The Dark Side Sourcebook cites “Sith alchemy” as being a practice that only the most powerful adepts can master. Palpatine’s simulacrum makes reference to the teachings of Naga Sadow, “one of the most powerful Sith alchemists” of the Sith Empire, “who left detailed records of his Holocron [Palpatine] came across some years ago.” Palpatine would later conclude that Sadow was “far too generous with his knowledge.”
The Dark Empire Sourcebook makes mention of the Emperor’s Dark Side Compendium, which the Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia defines as “an encyclopedia of dark side lore that was being written by the reborn clone Emperor.” The same source mentions that the Compendium, when completed, would have spanned several hundred volumes. The Emperor managed to complete only three before being destroyed by Luke Skywalker and his fledgling new Jedi Order in 11 ABY.
Given ample analysis of the various characters throughout canon, the only obvious conclusion is that Emperor Palpatine’s knowledge of the Force far exceeds that of any other being in terms of scope and scale. There is none who come close. Indeed, the Dark Empire Sourcebook provides an assessment of Darth Sidious’s knowledge in just two sentences:
“Palpatine has spent decades studying the most arcane and esoteric Jedi disciplines. It is believed that he has mastered nearly all the known powers, previously unknown powers, and devises new ones at his pleasure.”
In addition to his vast knowledge of the Force, Darth Sidious demonstrates a command and power over the energy field that is just as peerless. As stated before, the first and most obvious indication of Palpatine’s power is the state of his body; the Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia mentions that “so powerful was [Palpatine] in the Force that the very essence of the dark side ravaged his form,” with the qualifying phrase ‘so powerful’ an indication that the physical corruption was a sign that the Force was strong enough to destroy his body; the analogy being that the brightest, most powerful stars burn the quickest.
The most interesting and powerful demonstration of Sidious’s abilities is the one that took place throughout the backdrop of the prequel trilogy: the so-called “shroud of the dark side.” In Attack of the Clones, Jedi Master Mace Windu mentions to Grand Master Yoda that the Jedi should “inform the Senate that [the Jedi’s] ability to use the Force has diminished,” with the rise of the dark side of the Force. As the official databank’s entry for Mace Windu notes: “Something was clouding the future, and the order’s very connection to the Force was weakening. That a Sith Lord existed in the galaxy was not in doubt, but could this shadowy villain really bring this much imbalance to the Force?”
The answer is quite simply a resonant “yes.” As per George Lucas, the Sith, specifically Palpatine were the imbalance to the Force. Labyrinth of Evil notes that “for two hundred years prior to the coming of Darth Sidious, the power of the dark side had been gaining strength, and yet the Jedi had made only minimal efforts to thwart it.” The same source notes that “the Battle of Naboo had revealed that the Sith were back in the open, and that a Sith Lord was at work somewhere. The Sith Lord: the one born with the power needed to take the final step.” In addition, the Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia notes in the entry concerning the Jedi Knights that “the nature of the Force was considered to be a constant, but this belief changed some 200 years before the Battle of Yavin, when Jedi Masters began to find that their connection to the Force had become nebulous or darkened. This change culminated with the ascension of Emperor Palpatine to power, when the Sith were finally able to gain complete control over the galaxy.” The entry on Chosen One similarly states that “the Force was in balance due to the rise of the Sith orchestrated by Darth Sidious.”
Indeed, so powerful was the shroud of the dark side that Palpatine had placed on the Force that it clouded the capabilities of Windu’s shatterpoint charism; an ability to detect weaknesses and “see how people and situations fit together in the Force, to find the shear planes that can cause them to break in useful ways, and to intuit what sort of strike would best make the cut” (Revenge of the Sith), as demonstrated by the following statement in the novelization: “Though [Windu] could not consistently determine the significance of the structures he perceived—the darkening cloud upon the Force that had risen with the rebirth of Sith made that harder and harder with each passing day—the presence of shatterpoints was always clear.”
The result was that Windu was able to sense Palpatine’s significance within the Force—“On the day of Palpatine’s election to the Chancellorship, he had seen that Palpatine himself was a shatterpoint of unimaginable significance: a man upon whom might depend the fate of the Republic itself”—but not the source of the significance.
Palpatine’s second known Sith apprentice, the great former Jedi Master Count Dooku, was in a position that is further telling of Palpatine’s abilities in the Force:
“Powered by the dark side, Dooku’s perception took the measure of those below him with exhilarating precision.
And then there was Palpatine, of course: he was beyond power. He should nothing of what might be within. Though seen with the eyes of the dark side itself, Palpatine was an event horizon. Beneath his entirely ordinary surface was absolute, perfect nothingness. Darkness beyond darkness. A black hole of the Force.” (Revenge of the Sith)
Lastly, Palpatine is directly attributed to the darkness within the Force in the Revenge of the Sith novelization. The book makes constant references to Palpatine the man as “a shadow” and, prior to his duel with Mace Windu, the novelization notes that: “The darkness in the Force was no hindrance to the shadow in the Chancellor’s office; it was the darkness. Wherever darkness dwelled, the shadow could send perception.”
Darth Sidious was able to—from the planet of Coruscant, home of the Jedi Order—manipulate the Force on such a level that it diminished the connection, senses, and capabilities of ten thousand Jedi Knights for thirteen years in what is truly an unparalleled display of control over the Force.
The comic Sithisis depicts Palpatine “[conducting] Sith rituals on Coruscant that radiated unnerving ripples in the Force, which caused anxiety among most Jedi throughout the galaxy, but also served to increase Anakin Skywalker’s hunger for power” (the Ultimate Visual Guide). This particular feat is interesting to note because it is one of the major ones that puts the scope and scale of Palpatine’s powers into proper perspective; in short, the ritual he conducts manipulates the Force on a galactic scale—affecting the thousands of active Jedi across the galaxy—including the powerful and noted Jedi Grand Master Yoda.
The last of Palpatine’s truly large scale manipulations of the Force is his manipulation of his private Imperial throneworld: the planet Byss. According to Byss and the Core Worlds, Byss was once a “lush and fertile planet that was used as a lure to attract willing followers to settle in the Core. Over time, the Emperor’s dark side energies slowly corrupted the world and transformed it into one of the most powerful dark side sites in the galaxy.” This is interesting to note for several reasons. Byss was a failsafe throneworld; Palpatine’s primary seat of power was always Coruscant, from the beginning of his rule in 19 BBY until his death at the Battle of Endor in 4 ABY. The Ultimate Visual Guide notes that Palpatine, upon his ascendance to Emperor, “rarely left the Imperial Palace.” This would mean that either Palpatine had manipulated the Force on such a level that he could transform a “lush and fertile planet” into “one of the most powerful dark side sites in the entire galaxy” from lightyears away, or those few trips he made to the planet—for apparently brief periods of time—were enough to corrupt it. Either way, Palpatine is directly crediting with completely changing the alignment of a planet in less than two decades, creating a second Korriban or Ziost—planets that were corrupted only after centuries and millennia of housing the spirits of countless Dark Lords of the Sith.
In addition to corrupting the planet itself, Palpatine would eventually allow the planet’s population to reach almost 20 billion; almost three times the population of Earth. Byss and the Deep Core notes that “slowly but steadily, he used his dark Force powers to enslave the people on the world and drain their life energies to fuel his own vile experiments.” The article goes into further detail, elaborating on the depth of Palpatine’s control over Byss’s people, stating that “Almost mindless under the oppression of the Emperor’s dark side influence, the people of Byss find their life energies constantly leached off during the Emperor’s evil machinations.”
The last of Palpatine’s large scale manipulations is the effect his death has on the Force itself. Three instances are to be noted, the first and most obvious of them is that the Emperor’s demise is the act that balances the Force. The second and third are not nearly as impressive on the grand scale, but in the proper perspective, powerful demonstrations of the Force.
During his reign, Palpatine used the Force to manipulate the minds of the Imperial Fleet throughout the galaxy. During the Battle of Endor, Palpatine orchestrated a trap for the Alliance to Restore the Republic; when they arrived at the presumably incomplete and inoperable Death Star, they found a massive Imperial battle group encroaching upon them. In a subsequent conversation with Captain Gilad Pellaeon, who was a survivor of the battle, Grand Admiral Thrawn revealed the pervasive control Palpatine inflicted upon his military, comparing them to slaves to his will. The Emperor’s death at Endor embodied this theory; the Imperial fleet outnumbered and outgunned its adversary, and though they attempted to fight on after their Master’s demise, found themselves systematically being pushed back. The Return of the Jedi novelization notes that this was because of the tyrant’s death: “For the Emperor was dead. The central, powerful evil that had been the cohesive force to the Empire was gone; and when the dark side was this diffused, this nondirected—this is simply where it led. Confusion. Desperation. Damp fear.”
This statement is particularly interesting. It notes that Palpatine was the cohesive force to not just minions in close proximity to him, or to the Imperial Fleet, but to the Empire proper. This is a perversion that goes beyond political influence, for the novelization makes this statement while the Death Star is still functioning; no one knew of the Emperor’s death until the battle station’s destruction, and yet the effects are immediate. And the statement also notes that upon his death, the dark side was “diffused,” suggesting that Darth Sidious himself was a living focusing mechanism for the Force.
The most powerful destructive ability demonstrated by Palpatine was the ability to create hyperspace wormholes called Force Storms. The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia defines a Force Storm as “a tornado of energy created by great disturbances in the Force.” The Dark Empire Sourcebook states the following:
“This is perhaps the single most destructive Force power known. This power allows [Palpatine] to twist the space-time continuum to create vast storms of force.” It mentions that Force Storms are powerful enough to “swallow whole fleets of spaceships and tear surfaces off worlds.”
Palpatine’s control over the Force Storm technique was such that he was able to transport Luke Skywalker from Coruscant and place him within a Lictor-class dungeon ship. When he turned his power to kill, however, Palpatine was able to obliterate a New Republic fleet—powerful ships with shields capable of resisting gigatons of damage—before the combined power of Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa Solo, and her unborn child, Anakin, disrupted Palpatine’s control of the Force Storm—causing it to rebound and devour his flagship, the Eclipse, which is the most powerful capital ship in the mythos. The technique of Force Harmony is described by the sourcebook as “manifesting the power of the Light Side.” It took the combined, latent power of the three powerful Skywalkers to sever Palpatine’s control over this storm.
The last of Palpatine’s large scale manipulations of the Force was also a post-mortem effect. The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia defines a dark side nexus as “any unusual localization, or vergence, of dark side Force energy. These strange locales emanated the dark side of the Force, and were considered focal points of power for dark side users.” It goes onto say that:
“Known dark side nexuses included […] and a ‘stain’ of dark side energy that hovered over Endor following the defeat of the Emperor.”
During the Thrawn Crisis, a pregnant Leia Organa Solo was in orbit over the exact spot of the Emperor’s death—and a wave of Force energy overpowered her and knocked her unconscious. Sometime later, Grand Admiral Thrawn brought former Emperor’s Hand Mara Jade to the same spot, whereupon she admitted that the feeling “wasn’t pleasant.” Likely, due to her formal training, she was able to resist such overwhelming nausea.
His knowledge has exceeded that of any other source, including the likes of Yoda, Odan-Urr, and Traya. His expertise in lightsaber combat has placed him on par with the veritable giants such as Luke Skywalker, Mace Windu, and Yoda. His command of the Force in terms of feats and combat prowess is, overall, in excess of any character; only in certain aspects does he have rivals; such as Luke Skywalker and Darth Nihilus. The conclusion of this piece is that an objective, proper accounting of the evidence yields only one result: Darth Sidious is the most powerful and accomplished Force user within the entire mythos.
Registered: Apr 2011
Location: Hollywood, Hiding from fame
Sith Emperor wins.
Forcibly conquering the Republic's capital and having the Jedi sign armistice with their bitter enemies >>>> Order 66 and being elected to power.
Eating whole galaxies without side effects >>>>> Force storm which, if you stop to think about the view outside, eats you.
He keeps legions upon legions of Sith under his feet whom he encourage to plunder and revitalize Sith lore and knowledge >>> having one crippled has-been Sith ignoramus and some other Dark Side goonies totally in the Dark
He keeps Revan in a prison and presumably pokes him with a fork when bored >>>>> Making Luke "Immafarmboy" Skywalker submit to you in his younger less-uber days.
I think this is concluded. /thread.
When Galactic enters his ultimate BS pimp mode, they call him Marka Ragnos.
The Sith Emperor appears to be as close to a force god as possible, although he still doesn't appear to be on the level of the Imprisoned One or Abeloth. He's Nihilus without the side effects. Also, Revan is awesome for spending 300 years in a mental battle with him that he did not lose.
what part of star wars canon do these characters come from please? If we disregard parts of the TCW original cartoons because they seem to be on a different kind of force scale, then where do parts of these... sources seem to fall?