Roots of the Force
The Hundred-Year Darkness
7 millennia before Luke Skywalker, and 2 thousand years before Revan, the Republic was thrown into chaos by a civil war amongst the Jedi. This war stretched on for a hundred years, and drained the Republic of nearly all of its resources, leaving weak and struggling for centuries after.
And yet, during this time of war, the Jedi flourished. The Jedi Council (what we would think of as the Jedi Order, though the two bodies were VERY different) comprised 100,000 active members. Indeed, so many Force-users were born that the common wisdom was that the war was representative of the galaxy having some sort of cosmic struggle. Some Brown Robes consider the war an extension of the Cosmic Force undergoing some kind of turbulence.
For nearly ninety years, the Republic has been under constant assault by an organized group of terrorists. These so called "Dark Jedi", hide in shadows, raising armies of twisted mutations to terrorize and rule. When brought to direct conflict, the forces of darkness melt away against the might of the Jedi Council, but they seem to regroup again and again. The public is exhausted from living in a constant state of fear, and resources across the Republic are stretched thin. It seems clear that things can only continue this way for so long before something snaps . . .
The Jedi Council
The Jedi Council of 7,000 years ago is not the Jedi Order we are familiar with. While dedicated to the Light Side of the Force, the Jedi Council believes in action over contemplation. Jedi are expected to be involved in Galactic affairs, not meditating in caves.
In fact, the Jedi of this era are so involved that they wield considerable political authority. Jedi may be granted permission to hold public office (and may be strongly encouraged to pursue such ambitions by their superiors). They may be granted the right to marry, the right to own land, the right to start and run a business . . . all for the ultimate benefit of the Jedi Council, and of course the Republic by extension.
Jedi Councilors are legal officials of the Republic, and hold official ranks and responsibilities as such. They are treated as a combination of ambassador and galactic marshal, with many local authorities simply giving away before them rather than face the inevitable consequences of interfering in Jedi matters.
However, being involved in worldly affairs comes with a cost, and from time to time Jedi find themselves on different sides of conflicts. The Council is not nearly as uniform in cause and ideal as the Jedi Order will one day become.
Becoming a Jedi
One is not born a Jedi, and the Jedi of this time period have no qualms about someone's age when they begin their training. While it's more common for new apprentices to be young, it's not unknown for some to discover their connection with the Force late in life and begin the training balding and stooped. In their war against the ever present Dark Jedi, the Council takes them all.
Early training for Jedi includes large classes of students learning to meditate, self-defense (and sometimes military) training, and the basic Jedi philosophy.
Calm passion to form the blade of serenity.
Pierce ignorance to find the light of knowledge.
Illuminate chaos to find the path to harmony.
Walk the path to find the Force.
From there students break into smaller groups, each with a particular Master, who instructs them in the basics of the Force. Though friendships often form during this period between student and Master, it is not the familiar relationship between master and student of the later Republic.
Once they have a basic understanding and control of the Force, Jedi are encouraged to pursue a journeyman period in their training. They are essentially released by the Council to pursue their own ends. In fact, they are not required to return from this period, though exceedingly few choose to live an ordinary life with available entrance to one of the elite classes of the Republic.
Journeyman often act as adjuncts to Jedi engaged in the war against the Dark Ones, or assist some local authority in it's struggle to maintain order and stability in a time of chaos. Some simply take up a trade and earn their keep. All are expected to be meditating on the skills and lessons they've learned in their training, and observing how they apply to real life.
Most Jedi remain journeyman for a year, though some remain such much longer. Choosing to return to the Jedi means undergoing the Trials, and that can be a daunting experience.
The Jedi Trials
The mysterious Jedi Trials take place in the Temple of Lothal, one of the seven Jedi Temples scattered throughout the galaxy. None know exactly what occur during the Trials, but they are said to be the ultimate test of one's ability to connect with, and submit to, the Will of the Force. It's said that none escape the Trials unchanged, and some do not escape at all. Those who emerge, however, are greeted as full Councilors of the Jedi.
The Jedi Council's main focus for nearly nine decades has been pursuit of a war against an unpredictable and devastating military. As such, the Jedi Council, while maintaining the nomenclature of it's philosophical roots, is very much a hierarchical structure.
Apprentices are Force sensitives who have chosen to join the Jedi Council, but have not yet passed the Trials. They have no authority within the Republic, and only leave the Jedi Temples when accompanied by full Councilors.
It is against custom for Jedi to interact with Journeyman while they are away from the Council. As such, journeyman take no part in Jedi affairs, and have no rank in either the Jedi or the Republic, unless otherwise earned.
The rank and file of the Jedi are referred to as Councilors. They are welcome to participate in the public debates in the Temple forums, and are expected to join an Order and pursue a Calling within the Council. Councilors, as part of their Calling, are permitted to apply for various rights not usually extended to Jedi, such as marriage, running for political office, or owning land.
Magistrates are responsible for maintaining the administrative realities and conflict resolution required for each of the Jedi Temples. Magistrates are typically Councilors who are exemplars of their Order, and inspire others with their actions. They are expected to lead rather than punish, and organize, not manage. Often war heroes of the highest order, Jedi Magistrates command respect in whatever room they enter.
A Jedi Master is the instrument of the Force in the Republic. They are able to requisition capital ships, obtain discretionary funding from the Senate, or lead major peace negotiations between stellar empires. A Jedi Master wants for nothing, but wants nothing. Even Magistrates answer unquestioningly to the Jedi Masters.
The Grand Masters
Each of the 7 Jedi Temples has a Grand Master of it's Order. Those Grand Masters sit on the Jedi Grant Council and steer the affairs of all Jedi in the Republic. For the majority of the last century, they have also steered the Republics efforts in the war against the Dark Jedi. As such, the Grand Masters command galactic authority on the level of the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic.
Each of the Jedi Temples is centered around one of the six Orders of the Jedi, with the exception of the Temple of Lothal. The Orders essentially serve as the political and ideological parties of the Jedi, and few Jedi join the Council without also joining one of the Orders.
The Order of the Robe
Common Name: Brown Robes
The Order of the Robe centers itself around non-violent solutions to problems. The third smallest of the Orders, the Brown Robes are where Jedi who believe that direct action is not always the best course find their way. To a Brown Robe, violence, while occasionally necessary in situations of self-defense, represents a failure to achieve balance in the Force. Though often criticized by other Jedi as being indecisive and obstructionist, they are the first summoned when negotiations are to begin.
The Order of the Book
Common Name: Librarians
Librarians are the second smallest Order of Jedi, and the least politically influential. They concern themselves with the protection and propagation of the knowledge the Jedi Council has collected over the last 10,000 years, which they call The Record. The Order of the Book concerns itself more with the well-being of people who will live generations from now than with the current Republic. Indeed, leaving a library or other collection of knowledge to do anything other than seek more knowledge is considered a wasteful extravagance to them. The other Orders are more than content to allow them to stay in their temples and forget about them.
The Order of the Crystal
Common Name: Guardians
The Order of the Crystal dedicates it's efforts primarily to the preservation of the Galactic Republic. The Guardians are the conservative base of the Jedi Council, cautious and slow to move. Their support for direct Jedi participation in the government of the Republic is hesitant at best, and hinges entirely upon the war. They are the least likely of any Order to hold a title, or office. Guardians hold fast to Jedi traditions, rarely marrying, and even more rarely having children. This is not to say that Guardians are close-minded, however. They simply prefer the weight of evidence and experience to blind idealism.
The Order of the Light
Common Name: Seeker
Temple: Vrogas Vas
The Order of the Light prides itself on finding success in the impossible. They are proponents of maverick new approaches and quick decision making. They are not careless, however – most Seekers spend so much time in forward thinking preparation that when the moment to move arises, they are ready to instantly strike. They are also relentless in their pursuit of the Dark Jedi terrorists that plague the Republic – their involvement in politics is informed not as much by the war as by the knowledge that the Dark Jedi may lurk behind the robes of a Senator. Though not the most impressive combatants, or the most skilled Force users, more Dark Jedi have met their end from the lightsabers of the Seekers than any other Order. The smallest Order, those of the Order of the Light are often treated as heroes by their fellow Jedi, because the know a Seeker must surely have sought and probably found combat with the Dark Jedi and lived.
The Order of the Sword
Common Name: Warriors
The Order of the Sword is the body of the Jedi Council. It stands at slightly over half of all Jedi in the Republic, and by far produces the most generals, counts, and Senators of any Order. The Warriors are the Jedi represented as a military. Entire special units of Jedi troops are deployed on battlefields around the Republic, and the vast majority of them are Warriors. It is widely acknowledged among the Jedi that the Force has guided many Jedi to the path of violence because of the war, and many of the Order of the Sword feel as though they are making a necessary sacrifice by walking that path until the war is ended. The Warriors firmly support active Jedi involvement in galactic affairs, thus sealing the Jedi to that course.
The Order of the Hand
Common Name: Shadows
The Order of the Hand originated and is the most vocal supporter of active Jedi involvement in the Republic, however they number few amongst the elite. The Shadows pride themselves on immersing themselves in the day to day of the Republic, such that the Jedi always maintain an understanding of the common people. They eschew accolades and publicity, regarding such things as distractions, and value results over promises. Their longstanding close ties with the Order of the Sword has made the Hand the most politically powerful Order amongst the Jedi - a common Jedi phrase is "The Sword follows where the Hand leads." The Shadows are commonly found in the business and labor sectors of the Republic, both in legal and occasionally quasi-legal endeavors.
Each Jedi is expected to pursue a Calling – essentially a vocation or a job within the Council. But, even more than a profession, the Calling is how a Jedi pursues knowledge and mastery of the Force – they are pursuing the path the Force is calling them toward. Jedi typically change Callings several times over their lives as they grow and their interests change.
The Calling of Battle
Common Name: Soldiers
Jedi that follow the Calling of Battle pursue the arts of war. Their goal is not simply proficiency in combat, however. These Jedi seek to end large scale conflicts quickly via military means in order to reduce the number of lives lost and damage done to galactic affairs. They number generals, commandos, and even diplomats. The Calling of Battle represents the conflict found within the Force itself, and the resolution to wage a never-ending battle against the Dark Side of the Cosmic Force that will one day take the Jedi's life – the first principal of the Calling of Battle is sacrifice.
The Calling of the Duel
Common Name: Duelists
The Calling of the Duel is dedicated to the development and perfection of lightsaber combat. More of an athletic and philosophical club than a Calling prior to the beginning of the war with the Dark Jedi, Duelists are now the vanguard in confronting and destroying the Dark Side users. Testing themselves relentlessly against one another, the Calling of the Duel requires the utmost dedication to both learned technique and Force intuition.
The Calling of Service
Common Name: Minister
Jedi following the Calling of Service commit themselves serving the citizens of the Republic by participating in the political process. Though no Jedi has ever been elected Supreme Chancellor of the Republic, many have served as Senators and aides. These Jedi can be found in civic buildings across the galaxy, participating in public works projects and battling the inevitable corruption bred by a government millenia old.
The Calling of the Quest
Common Name: Knight
Jedi that follow the Calling of the Quest put down no roots, instead wandering the galaxy searching for problems they can fix. The perception of the Jedi held by most of the galaxy is that of the Jedi Knight following the Calling of the Quest – indeed, more than half of Jedi pursue the Calling of the Quest sometime during their life, ensuring that the Calling easily remains the most common amongst the Council. As their duties require many skills in different situations, Jedi Knights are among the most creative, well-rounded, and tough members of the Council.
The Calling of Life
Common Name: Healers
The Calling of Life calls for the protection and care of life in all of its forms. These Jedi are so dedicated to the preservation of life that they only consume artificially created foods that required no harm to come to a living being. Doctors, healers, researchers, and even sanitation workers pursue the Calling of Life.
The Calling of the Force
Common Name: Hermits
The Calling of the Force is the smallest of the Callings, only pursued by at most a few hundred Jedi at any time. Jedi that folllow this Calling commit themselves to understanding and developing knowledge of the Force. They often pursue this through isolation and deep meditation, eschewing the social comforts offered by the Council in order to seek out places strong with the Force. Prior to the breakout of the war, Jedi that followed this Calling were revered both for their skill with the Force and for their wisdom. However, since the war, pursuing the Calling of the Force has been discouraged, and has taken on a social stigma in the Council.
To most Jedi of this time period, a lightsaber is a simple tool. It is effective for it's purpose, but has no metaphysical meaning beyond it's utility. Lightsabers are often built by mechanically inclined Jedi for the less adept, or simply purchased from Windu Technologies – a Jedi owned company that is the only licensed producer of lightsabers in the Republic.
The exception to this are the Jedi that pursue the Calling of the Duel, and Jedi that pursue the Calling of the Force. These Jedi are much more reverent of their lightsabers, believing that each Jedi should construct their own, forging a connection between the Force, the Jedi, and the blade.
While the Powers of Foresee, Influence, Sense, and Move are common amongst all Jedi, the other Force powers are generally passed from Jedi to Jedi as each so chooses. This tends to create unofficial hierarchies within the Council, as Jedi skilled in unusual powers sometimes develop small cults of followers. The Jedi Magistrates at each Temple are also charged with monitoring and restricting the teaching of Force Powers, so that students do not attempt to reach for more than they are ready for. It is rumored that there are a few select Force Powers that require permission from the Grand Council to learn.
Each Jedi Temple is constructed around a great forum, where the Jedi gather to discuss the relevant questions of the day. Acceptance to the Jedi Council grants a Jedi full access to the Forums, and for most Orders, at least some amount of participation is expected. The common topics of the current Forums are:
- The Republic Question – Simply, the Republic Question is 'How much direct involvement should the Jedi Council have in the governance of the Galactic Republic?'
- The War – All manner of ethical, logistical, and strategic discussions are held daily in the Forums regarding the war with the Dark Jedi.
- Family – The simple need for numbers drove the Jedi Council early in the war to issue a blanket permission for Jedi to have family. Some Masters even encouraged their students to have as many children as possible, sensing the need for many Force users to represent the Light side in the coming years. However, an increase in the number of Jedi who have fallen to the Dark side has caused the Council to re-open the debate.
- Politics – The Jedi are not always a united front, especially when ideals split them over galactic politics. The Forums are often a place of political combat between Jedi, and occasionally through those Jedi, another political battleground for the Senate.
- Internal Disputes – Each Order often resolves its internal disputes in their own Forum, though occasionally these internal disputes boil over to the other Temples to become widespread discussion points. The decision to allow the first Jedi to run for the Galactic Senate began as an argument in the Order of the Hand's forum on whether a thing would even be possible for a person pursuing knowledge of the Force.
- Criminal Proceedings – By Galactic law, only Jedi may preside over Jedi in criminal trials. Therefore, a few times a year, each Forum meets to decide the fate of any Jedi of their Order who have committed crimes. Though all Jedi Councilors are welcome to attend the criminal proceedings (and many do), only Magistrates are allowed to speak and pass judgement. Particularly serious offenses may instead be referred to the Jedi Grand Council, who handle such things on a case by case basis.