A Padawan’s Journal, Entry #18: Force Sensitives Great and Small

I used to think that only Jedi were Force sensitive. I guess I thought of the Force as something with an ON/OFF switch. You were either a one or a zero—sensitive or not. Jedi/Sith or mundane. End of story.

When I began to immerse myself in the culture of Star Wars, I realized that there was a lot more to it than that. Since the Force is something elemental that flows through everything, it also flows through all sentients and a person’s potential for it, was measurable in midichlorians. This took the Force from the realm of magic into the realm of science.

220px-cloakofdeception_qjWe found out, for example, that one needed to have a certain level of midichlorians in the blood to be able to be considered for training as a Jedi—or to be chosen for it. This led to the exploration of some particularly emotional consequences, which we see first in The Phantom Menace when Qui Gon Jin removes Anakin Skywalker from his mother’s care with unforeseen results.

Michael Reaves found the consequences of midichlorians fascinating enough to base six novels on them. In Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, we watch the protagonist, Lorn Pavan, struggle with the results of his son Jax having an abundance of those precious little lifeforms. When he loses the two-year-old Jax to the Jedi Academy, his entire  family unravels. He loses his wife as well and develops a deep distrust of the Jedi while his son becomes a Jedi Knight.

Later, in the Coruscant Nights series, we see the effects on Haninum Tyk Rhinann, Darth Vader’s Elomin underling, of not having a enough of the right stuff to give him Force abilities. This lack, and his inability to feel like anything more in Vader’s presence than a muggle (if I may borrow from another fictional universe), rises to the level of an obsession and drives the poor dear to distraction.

kitgeonosisBut while any sentient might have a bit of talent—enabling them to sense moods or predict reactions in battle—there are certain species of aliens (I prefer to think of them as “other races of men”— orms, for short) that are more sensitive to the Force. Take Nautolans, for example. An amphibious race, the Nautolans are Force-endowed enough to sense the emotions of other beings. This works best for them underwater, but it does work on dry land (or in space). Which poses some interesting scenarios for a writer in the Galaxy Far, Far Away. There was at least one great Jedi Master from the Nautolan race, according to the lore. That was Kit Fisto, who was a  rebel general during the Clone Wars and a member of the Jedi High Council.

Togrutans are also said to possess a natural Force connection, and feel it most profoundly when they are in contact with the surface of a planet. For this reason they prefer to go barefoot when dirtside. There’s potential for some psychological exploration there—what happens to Togrutans who live for extended periods in space? Do they carry containers of dirt from the homeworld around with them? Then there are the Witches of Dathomir, who are on the books as natural Force sensitives, though no Jedi has ever come from their ranks … that I know of…hmmm.

Every once in a while, too, individuals of mysterious origin arise in possession of some Force ability. The assassin Aurra Sing comes to mind. Sing was half human, but what the other half was has never, to my knowledge, been revealed. (Note to self: Look into that, would’ya?)

Terra incognita is a favorite playground for writers. Writing Kajin Savaros for Patterns of Force was a challenge, because in him we (and our characters) were dealing with a completely unknown quantity: a child with extreme Force ability that had lain dormant until puberty—then exploded. In a way, he was the flip side of Rhinann. The Elomin was consumed by desire for the Force, the young human consumed by the Force itself, with no idea of how to channel it. Kajin rather exemplified Master Yoda’s  ironic question: “Judge me by my size, do you?”

While it’s fun to write about characters who can leap tall buildings in a single bound and dance on the head of a pin, doing so raises some unique challenges for a writer. Which I plan to chat about in my next blog.

Next time: Challenges in writing when the Force is with you.

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A Padawan’s Journal, Entry #18: Force Sensitives Great and Small — 13 Comments

  1. The Dathomir-Witch fact isn’t not that right. Tenel Ka was the daughter of a Dathomir Witch and was a Jedi herself, also Kirana Ti (Jedi Master) and her niece Salona Ti (Knight)

  2. I didn’t love the movie “Watchmen” (haven’t read the graphic novel), but one thing I found fascinating about the storyline was how it followed Dr. Manhattan, a mortal man caught in an experiment that made him super-human.

    He stopped being able to “feel” what mortal men felt and started to slip away from his former reality. It was interesting to see it on film, and I’m sure it’s very interesting to write about.

    The same concept would be true of your analysis of the Jedi. How does one cope with super-human (or super-alien) behaviours? How would it change them? How can they remain “in-touch” with those not as sophisticated as they?

    And to a certain extent, that is no doubt what makes becoming a Sith more enticing…the conquering of the universe.

    Cool post, Maya. Interesting stuff.

  3. Just a comment to Daritha – I didn’t say it was a fact that there were no Dathomir Jedi. I just said that I didn’t know of any.

    I’d be interested in knowing what book(s) Tenal Ka was in – she’s not mentioned in the official Jedi Guide and the Encyclopedia only comments that: “…Isolder (ahem) had … decided to marry a commoner, a ­Force-­sensitive Nightsister from the planet Dathomir named Teneniel Djo. Though not royal, she was strong, and the marriage produced a baby girl, Tenel Ka, who grew up imbued with the Force.”

    I’ll have to track the book down, because I find the Witches fascinating.

  4. Tenel Ka was first introduced in the Young Jedi Knights series by Kevin J. Anderson. Since then though she has grown into a bigger character in the EU. She is mentioned through out the NJO and is a main character in the legacy of the force series. The Courtship of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton has the most information on Teneniel Djo and the Nightsisters.

  5. I’m not sure that Tenel Ka was really a Witch though. Her mother was, but I thought Tenel Ka grew up on Hapes.

    Kirana Ti definitely was Witch of Dathomir who went on to become a Jedi. She was introduced in Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy Trilogy and also appeared in Darksaber, as I recall.

    Both of these characters are from books after the sequel trilogy, however. If we’re talking from the time of the prequels then nope, no Dathomiri Jedi.

  6. btw I recommend Wookieepedia for catching this sort of thing. It’s understandable if you don’t want to rely on it. But, for example, the witches of Dathomir entry gives you Tenel Ka’s name, and from there you can look her up in the Encyclopedia. Many authors use it as a quick jumping-off point.

  7. Tenel Ka, Kirana Ti and Sanola Ti all trained as Jedi under Luke after Endor. I hope that’s not a spoiler.

    In the Prequel era, Dathomir is known to the Jedi, but largely quarantined, in a “don’t let them have spaceships” sort of way. A rogue Jedi was exiled there around 600 BBY and turned the locals into a feminist Force-using warrior civilization; then the Jedi lost a training ship there some time in the fourth century BBY and Yoda’s Jedi rescue team got their butts kicked when they tried to recover it.

    There is one Dathomiri who MAY be a Jedi in the Prequel era, “Ros Lai” who teamed up with Jedi Quin Vos on a mission just after Episode I, in the “Infinity’s End” comic. She seemed about to begin her training on Coruscant at the end of the story. She showed up in the recent Clone Wars computer game “Jedi Alliance”, too – but glancing at spoilers, she may NOT be any sort of Jedi there.

    Also, Dathomiri continuity is a horrid, horrid mess. Originally, Dathomir didn’t have any organized “bad” Force users until the Imperial era (the tribes were sometimes flawed, but their #1 rule was “never concede to evil”). However, later stories have kept focusing more and more on the “Nightsisters”, originally a specific Imperial-era group who couldn’t ride rancors and went all Palpatine-wrinkly with excess Force-use, and turned them into a long-term, vampish, rancor-riding presence.

    Sorry that’s far too long an explanation.

  8. Nice blog entry. I have grown to love the biological/scientific look at the Force that midi-chlorians represent. I think Coruscant Nights II and Death Star gave midi-chlorian counts for non-sensitivity and mild sensitivity, as well as normal human levels.

    My question is, as an author, have you been provided the counts of movie characters for reference? Is that something you can inquire about?

  9. While it is true that Tenel Ka is the offspring of a Dathomiri Witch (Teneniel Djo), the fact that her father is a Hapan Royal, and that she (Tenel Ka) herself is the Hapan Queen Mother, means that she is not truly a Dathomiri Witch Jedi. She is a Hapan Jedi (which is still a bit of an oddity given Hapes historical hatred of the Jedi).

    • Ha! I am vindicated!

      I may just have to explore this whole Datomir Witch Jedi thing…

  10. …Sheesh. I gotta say, as much as I love my fellow Star Wars fans, our tendency to nitpick every little fact and detail can be a bit overwhelming even for me. I can’t imagine what it’s like for newcomers to our community, or people on the outside.

    On the one hand, it is nice that there’s such a push to keep everything continuity-accurate. But on the other, sometimes I think we lose the forest for the trees.