Campaign of the Month: January 2012
Star Trek Late Night
Witches of Dathomir
“Never concede to evil.”
The Witches of Dathomir (also referred to as either Dathomirians or Dathomiri) were a group of Human Force-sensitives native to the planet Dathomir. They were also known as the Daughters of Allya in honor of the wayward Jedi Knight Allya, who was banished to the planet around 600 BBY, and who they regarded as their ancestress. By the time of the Galactic Empire, Allya’s descendants had divided into female-dominated clans that were named after regional landmarks. Each clan had a unique set of rules regarding Force usage, but all the clans held one rule above all others: “Never concede to evil”.
Around 600 BBY, a Jedi Knight named Allya arrived on the wilderness planet Dathomir, apparently a rogue exiled by the Jedi Council to meditate on the Force in enforced solitude. On her arrival, however, she encountered other Human exiles. Linguistic evidence suggests that elements of the planet’s Human population had been largely isolated from the wider Galaxy since the days of the Paecian Empire, in 3,000 BBY or earlier, while later Dathomiri tradition claimed that the inhabitants Allya found had been exiled for producing illegal battle droids; what is not clear from available evidence is whether the earlier settlers had arrived in a single group long before Allya’s time, or if in fact Dathomir had been used more continuously as a penal colony over the millennia.
One other factor in Dathomir’s past that may be relevant, but seems to have been forgotten to future generations, is the existence of a Sith academy on the planet in the final years of the New Sith Wars, shortly before 1,000 BBY. This was one of the more prestigious training establishments of the Brotherhood of Darkness, ranked with the Iridonia Academy second only to the newly-founded center on the ancient capital of Korriban, and trained the Sith equivalent of Jedi Knights: but it is not known how long it lasted for, or if it left any permanent legacy on the planet.
What is clear is that by the time of Allya’s arrival, the Human population had become prey for the dominant sentients at the apex of Dathomir’s native food-chain: the rancors. But when Allya assumed leadership of the population, events were set in motion that would lead to the development of a unique Human culture on Dathomir, founded on the enslavement of the male population to Force-sensitive female warriors, the transformation of the rancors from predators to allies, and the authorship of the Book of Law.
Native accounts sometimes attributed the shaping of Dathomiri society entirely to Allya, presenting her as a lone woman among a rabble of helpless men, mere snacks for herds of hungry rancors until they became her willing slaves. These traditions insinuated that Allya reduced the population to willing subjugation in a single lifetime, with the few who did not follow her becoming food for the rancors; among her followers, favored slaves were offered the chance to become mates, in the knowledge that if they fathered sons, they would be fed to the rancors. The boys were raised by other slaves to become slaves themselves, whereas the daughters of Allya were raised by her and trained in the ways of the Force.
This account claims that Dathomiri society was forged in a single generation, and traces the ancestry of every Human on the planet to a single mother and her daughters—the eldest of whom was said to have been just sixteen local years old (about twenty standard years) when her Jedi mother died. But while this version was largely accepted as accurate by the New Republic, it is likely to be at least partially legendary. The linguistic influence of Paecian in the Dathomiri language shows that the Human population had been established for rather more than two millennia when Allya arrived, indicating the existence of a viable breeding population; and even under the New Republic, the Singing Mountain Clan remembered others who had not been ‘daughters of Allya’, and who had gradually faded as distinct groups over subsequent generations.
Nevertheless, it is likely that the key event in the forging of Dathomiri society was Allya’s discovery that she could tame the rancors using the Force, with the resulting symbiosis between female rider and mount dictating subsequent social patterns. The attribution of the Book of Law to Allya is probably also correct: a codification of the moral and ethical laws that she wished for her daughters to follow, written down shortly before her death. The final entry of the Book of Law was the same as Allya’s last words to her daughters: “Never concede to evil”.
The Nightsisters, one of the numerous Dathomiri clans. Over time, the Dathomiri divided into a number of distinct clans, a process sometimes framed in retrospect as a power struggle between Allya’s elder daughters. These clans were named after regional landmarks, and although they shared a common tradition, each clan eventually developed their own set of laws about Force usage around the common core of inherited teachings, with the text of the Book of Law diverging into several distinct clan versions. The clans raided each other for mates, with low-level conflict being entered into cheerfully by the warrior women.
The number of clans fluctuated somewhat over time: in 8 ABY there were more than a dozen clans, but by 12 ABY, the number had been reduced to nine. Perhaps the most prominent of these groups was the Singing Mountain Clan, due to the contacts it established with the New Republic and Hapes Consortium, while others were located at the Frenzied River, Misty Falls, Red Hills, Dreaming River and Great Canyon.
Each Dathomiri clan was based in a fortified village at or near its eponymous landmark. Women served as warriors and leaders, with leadership typically held by the eldest in a clan. Matriarchs aged a century or more were not uncommon, and in exceptional circumstances (as with Rell) they could be to close to 300 local years old (four centuries standard). Men were used only for breeding and slave labor, clad in nothing more than leather aprons or scanty tunics, and neither they nor the women seem to have realized that they retained latent Force potential. Typically, warriors were expected to find mates by capturing runaways or slaves from other clans, but the leading clan sisters could purchase men from each other, and if a mate could not be persuaded to love his owner, the equivalent of an amicable divorce could be enacted by selling him to another woman. The only way a man could go free was if he saved the life of a woman in his clan.
As a warrior society, the Dathomiri Witches trained daily in the art of war, and used both their muscles and the Force to aid them in combat. They wore their hair in elaborate braids (sometimes with a helmet decorated with mementos) and lizard skin armor. Over time, the Force powers of the Witches came to be largely defined in the form of ‘spells’, where they chanted a specific set of words and the desired effect was produced.
Crimes were punished by exile, particularly the use of the dark side; this was often thought of in terms of ‘night spells’, but punishment was also applied when a sister used anger to fuel an otherwise permissible Force power. If a warrior wished to return to the clan, she had to undergo a period of exile for purification purposes before she would be allowed back, often extending to several years; but some, known as Nightsisters, remained in exile, and these exiles sometimes banded together to form a clan of their own, or occasionally took over an existing clan, although no more than one Nightsister clan is known at any one time, and they were always opposed by the rest of Dathomir.
The Witches lacked space technology but off-worlders would visit Dathomir in order to select suitable individuals as assassins or enforcers. Even during the planet’s membership in the New Republic, the Witches selected to maintain their natural lifestyle.
In 340 BBY, the Jedi training vessel Chu’unthor crashed on the surface of Dathomir. The now-numerous warrior-women attacked the vessel, and three Jedi Masters, Gra’aton, Yoda and Vulatan, were dispatched to rescue the stranded passengers. The Jedi’s attempts to rescue their comrades and recover the ship were repelled with the death of fourteen of their number, but Yoda made a return visit to negotiate a settlement with a young Witch named Rell. In exchange for releasing the stranded passengers, Yoda gave Rell a box full of information on Jedi teaching methods, and told her to safeguard it until a Jedi Knight and his apprentice arrive to save Dathomir from the dark side using Witch clan calling themselves the Nightsisters.
A few years before the outbreak of the Clone Wars, a Nightsister clan which had gained access to some off-world technology attempted to activate the ancient Kwa construct known as the Infinity Gate, but this was foiled by Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos, and Dathomir subsequently remained dissociated from wider civilization until the Galactic Empire discovered the planet in the course of their war against the Drackmarians. In 0 ABY, Palpatine ordered a new penal colony to be constructed on Dathomir, but when he discovered the power of the new Nightsisters leader Gethzerion, he ordered all the prison’s starships destroyed, stranding the Imperial garrison and the convicts. The Nightsisters took the stranded Imperials as slaves and plotted ways to leave the planet, although a pair of Star Destroyers prevented the arrival or departure of any spaceships.
- Singing Mountain Clan
- Frenzied River Clan
- Misty Falls Clan
- Red Hills Clan
- Dreaming River Clan
- Great Canyon Clan
- Raining Leaves Clan
- Broken Columns Clan
- Bright Sun Clan
- Red Mud Potters Clan
- Blue Coral Divers Clan
- Scissorfists Clan
- Augwynne Djo (Leader of the Singing Mountain clan)
- Charal (Nightsister)
- Damaya (Jedi Knight)
- Gethzerion (Leader of the original Nightsisters)
- Kirana Ti (Jedi Knight)
- Lomi Plo (Nightsister, Queen of the Gorog nest of Killiks, and Sith Lord)
- Darth Maul (Nightbrother, brother of Savage Opress, first Sith apprentice to Darth Sidious)
- Mighella (Nightsister, bodyguard to Alexi Garyn)
- Mother Rell (mother of Augwynne Djo)
- Silri (Nightsister, a member of the Zann Consortium)
- Teneniel Djo (Queen Mother of the Hapes Consortium)
- Tenel Ka Djo (Queen Mother of the Hapes Consortium and Jedi Knight)
- Tamith Kai (Leader of the resurrected Nightsisters)
- Asajj Ventress (Orphaned Dathomiri Nightsister raised on Rattatak, Padawan to Jedi Knight Ky Narec, Sith apprentice to Count Dooku)
- Savage Opress (Nightbrother, brother of Darth Maul, made a Dark Acolyte to assassinate Count Dooku)
- Mother Talzin (Mother of Nightsister Clan during the Clone Wars)
- Karis (Nightsister)
- Naa’leth (Nightsister)