Know your lore: Darth Nihilus

Darth Nihilus was a Human male who reigned as a Dark Lord of the Sith during the era of strife following the Jedi Civil War. Before becoming a Sith, he lost everything during the Galactic Republic‘s war against the Mandalorian Neo Crusaders. He survived the activation of the Mass Shadow Generator superweapon during the war’s final battle at the planet Malachor V, which surrounded the planet with a destructive spacial phenomenon known as a mass shadow that obliterated almost everything and everyone on and around the planet. The experience of the shadows made him “hunger” for Force energy, and the affliction began to ravage his body. In his pain he became a wound in the Force and was found by a seeker of such things, the Sith Lord Darth Traya. She told him that she could teach him to feed his hunger. He accepted her offer, becoming Traya’s apprentice at the Trayus Academy on Malachor V. Over time, he became one of three concurrent Dark Lords of the Sith.

Together, the three formed a triumvirate with Traya at its head and her other apprentice, Darth Sion, as the third member. The trio chose individual names for themselves and Nihilus became the Lord of Hunger. The apprentices grew in strength during their training and eventually overpowered their Master. Sion defeated Traya, while Nihilus sapped her energy, before the two Sith exiled her and combined their powers to sever her ties to the Force. Nihilus’s affliction developed to the point where the Dark Lord was forced to call upon the dark side of the Force to encase his spirit within his mask and armor to stay alive. Nihilus and Sion then became the main perpetrators of a Jedi purge, causing the virtual extinction of the Jedi Order. Nihilus was responsible for the devastation of the planet Katarr, killing and absorbing the Force energy of the Jedi at the Conclave on Katarr, along with every other living thing on the world, save one Miraluka woman named Visas Marr. Nihilus took Marr from the surface and made her his Shadow Hand.

One year later, Nihilus sensed a growing presence in the Force, and sent Marr to investigate and destroy it. The presence was a female Jedi, known only as the Exile, who was on a quest to find the remaining Jedi Masters who had survived the Purge. When Marr attempted to assassinate the woman, the Exile defeated her and convinced her to turn to the light side of the Force in the process. Although Nihilus returned to lurking the fringes of known space, the man was eventually tricked by Traya into initiating the Battle of Telos IV in an attempt to absorb a Jedi Academy without any actual Force-sensitives aside from the Jedi Master Atris. At Telos, the Sith Lord met a large fleet comprised of Republic and Mandalorian forces. In the carnage, his flagship Ravager was secretly boarded by a small force consisting of the Exile, Marr, Mandalore the Preserver, and his Mandalorians. The trio successfully killed Nihilus and destroyed the Ravager. Four millenia later, Nihilus’ holocron was in the possession of the Dark Lord Darth Krayt, the founder of the One Sith Order and Emperor of his Galactic Empire.


The Human male who would one day be known as Darth Nihilus was alive at the conclusion of the Mandalorian Wars, a galaxy-wide conflict between the Mandalorian Neo-Crusaders and the Galactic Republic. Amidst those battles, he was said to have lost everything, including his friends, family, as well his will to live. During the final battle of the war, which took place on the planet Malachor V, a human female Jedi General gave the order to activate the Mass Shadow Generator. The Generator, a superweapon conceived by the Zabrak tech specialist Bao-Dur, killed almost everyone on the planet’s surface and in orbit nearby.

This man survived the superweapon’s destruction of the surface of Malachor and in his grief over his losses during the war, he assumed a dark persona, in part as a means of survival. He was trapped on the planet by the artificially-created mass shadows along with the bulk of the two fleets that filled space around the planet—where the Mandalorians had committed all of their forces in a last attempt at defeating the Republic—and suddenly took ill due to the shadows’ effects. An emptiness swept over the man’s idle body and it soon began to “hunger” intensely. Without intent, he drained the life-force of another survivor. The act was an unpleasant experience for him, but for a brief moment the hunger ceased. The emptiness, however, came back more relentless and intense than before. He indulged in absorbing the energy of other survivors, but the more he fed, the shorter the hunger was appeased and the more relentless it became.

After the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Malak was killed by the former Sith Lord and redeemed Jedi Revan at the Jedi Civil War’s end, the Sith Empire became divided and its followers turned on each other, with many factions rising to stake claim to what little power could be garnered. The man was eventually discovered by the Dark Lord Darth Traya, who had sensed him as a wound in the Force. After locating the man, Traya explained that it was the Force that fueled his hunger and offered to train him at her Sith Academy on the planet to devour entire worlds to help appease the hunger. He followed her to the Trayus Academy and learned the ways of the Sith. The man apprenticed under Traya during this time, along with another prospective Sith. Traya’s hungry pupil and her other apprentice each honed different aspects and skills of the dark side of the Force, until they both became Sith Lords. The man took up the name Nihilus, while the second apprentice became known as Darth Sion. The three Sith joined in the creation of a Sith Triumvirate. In addition, the three each took a unique title, with Nihilus electing for the “Lord of Hunger.”

Darth Traya perceived Nihilus’s hunger for the Force as detrimental to the goals of the Sith. Nevertheless, she taught him how to harness that hunger to make him stronger for a time, as she had promised. Nihilus consumed entire planets on several occasions, caring only to appease his hunger. The dark side consumed him more and more each time, causing his hunger and power to grow dramatically. His power eventually grew beyond what Traya could match. Their views on how to destroy the Jedi also became divided, with he and Sion wanting to destroy them outright while Traya desired a more subtle and time consuming approach. This strained the Triumvirate’s already fragile alliance to the breaking point. Nihilus and Sion combined forces to challenge Traya, confronting their teacher in the center of her own Academy. Sion and Nihilus entered the Core from two separate doors and closed in on Traya while igniting their lightsabers; Traya followed suit by igniting hers. Nihilus Force-pushed her into a tooth-like feature of the platform, causing the woman to drop her lightsaber as she slumped against it. Meekly, Traya attempted to reach her lightsaber with the Force but failed as Sion slammed her head into the tooth, then beat her to the ground. Sion combined his power with Nihilus to sap Traya’s Force energy. In the process, they also cut her off from the Force and cast her out into exile.

With Traya gone, the Sith were left with no defined leadership and her followers fractured once again into many factions, all seeking to take what little remained. Nihilus and Sion, having been the ones who defeated Traya, took control of the fractured Sith. The two united the numerous Dark Jedi who had followed Traya and had vied for her power themselves. The Dark Lords took control of these groups and focused them on a single common goal: the elimination of the Jedi Order, leading to an extensive assassination campaign against the Jedi, although both Sith Lords had different vehicles for achieving this. On the one hand, Sion killed as many Jedi he could find, dying many times along the way, only to be resurrected by his own anger and will to live fueled by the dark side of the Force. On the other, Nihilus traveled the fringes of known space with a large fleet of ships that he had ripped from the mass shadows surrounding Malachor V. He made one such vessel, the Ravager, his flagship, and led his flotilla to the largest deposits of Force energies he could find, whereupon he sated the ever-growing hunger within him and further increased his power. Both Nihilus and Sion were successful in their pursuits and brought the Jedi to the brink of extinction.

Eventually Nihilus became so absorbed by the dark side of the Force and his hunger that his physical body began to erode. Knowing that he would succumb to death if he did not act soon, Nihilus ripped his spirit from his body and encased it in the armor he wore, thus allowing the dark side to consume his useless body. Using the Force, the Sith Lord was able to keep his robes, armor and mask together, giving him some form and allowing him to use his Force powers as well as a lightsaber. Apart from that, however, he no longer had a physical form and became simple, primitive intent.

Silent sojourn
The Trayus Academy continued producing legions of Sith Lords, assassins and marauders, with Sion and Nihilus at its head. They spread death throughout the galaxy and turned many other Force-sensitives to their cause. What his followers experienced while simply being in Nihilus’ vicinity allowed them to leech off other Force-sensitives’ Force energy, increasing their own power. He also taught them how to sense their prey across the vastness of space.

In 3,952 BBY, the Jedi Master Atris, organized a large gathering of Jedi on the Miraluka colony world Katarr, which most of the remaining Jedi were expected to attend. After organizing the event, she then leaked the location as a ploy to lure a dark presence that she had sensed through the Force so that she could destroy it. Atris’ plan worked, drawing Nihilus toward Katarr. When Nihilus neared the planet, however, he spoke, his voice a great hunger that the Miraluka could see and feel through the Force. The Sith Lord’s hunger overwhelmed them and obliterated the surface of Katarr, wiping out the entire colony and anything else touched by the Force. Nihilus destroyed much of what remained of the Jedi Order, including the Jedi Masters Zhar Lestin, Dorak and Vandar Tokare; Atris herself did not actually attend the conclave, though she was reported to have done so.

As he walked on the surface of Katarr, Nihilus found only a single living being, an injured Miraluka woman named Visas Marr. He put her in a deep sleep, and brought her aboard his ship. Days later, Marr awoke, completely healed aboard the Ravager, and approached the Dark Lord. When she asked him why the wave of death had spared her, the Sith Lord did not speak. Instead, he showed her a vision of the galaxy as he saw it through his senses: beings on other planets unable to feel the Force, disconnected from one another and lost in the crush of humanity, a chaos to which he brought order. The vision crippled her ability to see through the Force and carved out the flesh of her vestigial eye sockets. Marr became the Sith Lord’s Shadow Hand, and developed a powerful Force bond with Nihilus that strengthened both and allowed them to support or weaken each other in battle.

In another part of the galaxy, the human female known as the Jedi Exile returned to Republic space after being banished from the Jedi Order for following the Jedi Knight Revan to the Mandalorian Wars. She had begun to re-establish her connection to the Force, which had been severed during the Battle of Malachor V. The Exile became a factor in Republic politics when Atris, intent on using her as bait for Nihilus, arranged for her return in 3,951 BBY aboard the Republic warship Harbinger, and broadcast knowledge of her presence through the core ward databases. When the Peragus Mining Facility was destroyed, as a result of Darth Sion‘s pursuit of the Exile there, the Telosian Restoration Project, a pilot program for all potential restorative efforts in the wake of the Mandalorian Wars, lost its main supply of fuel and the Republic secessionist movement on planets such as Onderon increased. The Exile came under the tutelage of Nihilus’s former Master, who had forsaken her Sith identity of Darth Traya and retaken the name Kreia following her exile. Kreia now planned to use the Exile against the Lords of the Sith to achieve her revenge.

Nihilus commands Marr to seek out the Jedi Exile.

Nihilus eventually felt a disturbance in the Force that only his apprentice could identify. As a result, Marr was sent to defeat its source, the Exile, and bring the woman before Nihilus so that he could consume her. When the Exile defeated Marr instead, the Miraluka began to question her conclusions to what her Master had once shown her. She was then swayed to serve the Exile against Nihilus, the slayer of her people.

Alliance with General Vaklu
Nihilus allied himself with General Vaklu, the leader of the Onderonian separatists and cousin of Queen Talia of Onderon, just before the Exile’s return to Republic space. He wanted to aid Vaklu in breaking away from the Republic so the planet would fall under his influence and become a staging ground for the Sith. Colonel Tobin, Vaklu’s second-in-command, became Nihilus’ contact. The Sith Lord also established a base on Onderon’s moon, Dxun, inside the tomb of Freedon Nadd, an ancient Dark Lord of the Sith. The tomb was filled with a dark energy Force nexus, which Nihilus he hoped to feed upon and where his underlings were to perform a dark side ritual and influence the coming events, the instigation of an Onderonian Civil War. Nihilus’s plans for Onderon failed when the Exile, with help from Mandalorian leader Mandalore the Preserver, intervened in Nihilus’s plans. The Exile joined forces with Mandalore’s clan, which were secretly living on Onderon’s moon. The Mandalorians and the Exile were unaware of the presence of Nadd’s tomb until the Exile received a warning about them from Kreia, who sensed the preparations for the dark side ceremony. A member of the Jedi Exile’s team was put in charge of an assault on Nadd’s tomb aimed at halting the Sith’s plans and two more of the Exile’s companions accompanied this leader as well a squadron of Mandalorians. The ritual inside the tomb was successfully interrupted by the strike team and stopped upon their defeating the Sith Lord’s stationed there.

Meanwhile, the Exile and two companions headed to Iziz to support Queen Talia and keep Onderon in the Republic. There, the Triumvirate’s Sith Lords and Dark Jedi had joined the separatists in a march on the Iziz Royal Palace. The Exile battled Vaklu’s forces until she reached the Royal Palace’s throne room, where she helped end the war by defeating Vaklu. With the defeat of the separatists and Vaklu, Nihilus’s plans for Onderon were thwarted; Queen Talia subsequently decided to have Vaklu executed by a firing squad.

Assault on Telos IV
Afterwards, Nihilus was informed by Colonel Tobin, Vaklu’s second in command, that there was a Jedi Academy on the planet Telos IV. This was actually a ruse by Kreia in an attempt to draw her former pupil there while she traveled to reclaim her academy on Malachor. When Nihilus’s fleet arrived near the planet, the Republic Navy was there to meet him, working with the Mandalorians who were there to assist the Exile and their Mandalore. This began the Battle of Telos IV, a large conflict with fronts on both Citadel Station, the large station orbiting the planet, and in space. Nihilus realized too late that there were actually no Force-sensitives in the Academy, yet his ravaging hunger drove him to attempt to consume Telos anyway.

Dark energy stems from Darth Nihilus’s body as it fades away.

Nihilus’s ship was assaulted and boarded by the Mandalorians in a coordinated final strike against Nihilus. Mandalore led his troops to and aboard the Ravager, while covered by the Republic forces, to assist the Exile and Visas Marr in their advance on the warship’s bridge. Four proton bombs were set in strategic locations throughout the ship along their way, the fourth being obtained from the missile bay after a premature detonation risked putting the entire plan in jeopardy. Colonel Tobin, however, met the Exile one last time, though his body was twisted by the dark side from exposure to Nihilus’s dark powers in the time since Kreia saved him. Though at first Tobin was hostile towards the Exile, the Jedi informed him that it would only be a matter of time until Onderon would meet the same fate as Telos if Nihilus was to succeed. Tobin, an Onderonian patriot, agreed to help the Mandalorians detonate the charges.

During his confromtation with the Exile, Marr, and Mandalore, Nihilus attempted to absorb the Exile’s Force energy, however, he failed and exhausted himself. This was due to the Exile’s ability to draw on the Force energy of those around her, as a result of her tie to the Force being cut at the end of the Battle of Malachor V. They engaged in a brief duel, with the Dark Lord seemingly too strong to defeat. Then, the Exile learned of his aversion to her Force energy signature and turned the tide against him. Marr entered a trance and tried to disrupt the link with her former Master, undermining his connection to the Force through their Force bond. Nihilus was eventually defeated by his three opponents. Before making for the orbital shuttle she and her companions had used to board the ship, Marr felt compelled to remove the Dark Lord’s mask, wanting to see the face of the one who had wounded her. Nihilus’ body then dissolved in an aura of dark side energies as the trio left the bridge. Shortly thereafter, the bombs aboard the Ravager exploded and the rest of the Sith fleet was decimated by the Republic.

After Nihilus’ death, the Jedi Exile traveled to Malachor V to find Kreia, who had taken back her former identity of Darth Traya, along with the Academy. The Exile entered the Academy and Darth Sion ordered all the students in the Academy to attack her. She fought through the halls and found Sion defending the door to the Trayus Core. The two dueled, with Sion regenerating when injured. The Exile convinced Sion to let go of the anger keeping him alive and he succumbed from his lifetime of injuries. Proceeding into the Core, the Exile found Traya meditating. The Jedi reluctantly dueled her former teacher but, after defeating her, refused to strike Traya down. Traya attacked the Exile again but was defeated a second time, dying of her injuries.

The Sith lived on after the fall of the Sith Triumvirate. At least one Dark Lord of the Sith rose and succeeded Nihilus, quietly ruling as the Republic began to thrive anew. By 3,681 BBY, the Sith would once again threaten the galaxy in a Great War that pit the Republic and the Jedi against the mysterious Sith Emperor and the resurgent Sith Empire, which was thought defeated during the Great Hyperspace War.

At some point during his life, Darth Nihilus created a holocron that eventually fell into the hands of Dark Lord Darth Krayt, the founder of the One Sith Order as well as Galactic Emperor from 130 to 137 ABY. Several millennia after Nihilus’s death, the Sith had reclaimed the galaxy for the first time since the fall of Palpatine’s Galactic Empire. During the last year of his reign, Krayt traveled to the Sith homeworld of Korriban and accessed this holocron along with those of Darth Andeddu and Darth Bane, seeking their advice on how to stop the Yuuzhan Vong creatures from consuming his body. The only response he received from Nihilus was a statement in the Sith Lord’s language, which his comrades did not attempt to translate.

Powers and abilities

Darth Nihilus wielded a self-built lightsaber containing a red crystal, and fought in an aggressive, one-handed style. He had learned some of the greatest of the Sith teachings, but such practices took the form of dependence. They would make him stronger, but only for a time. Force-sensitives and worlds rich in the Force would draw him and the Miraluka colony of Katarr was one such place. His reach in the Force eventually extended to a point where he could feel Force users throughout the galaxy, cleanse entire planets, killing everything that was touched by the Force. Prolonged use of this power made him a threat to all life, as his hunger grew as well. The hunger controlled him, not the other way around. He was a wound in the Force, his mere presence casting echoes that would slowly kill all around him, feeding him. This ability was similar to the Jedi Exile’s, the reconvened Jedi Council in the Jedi Enclave on Dantooine inferred that the Sith had somehow learned this ability to feed on the Force from her. Nihilus’ very speech caused pain and death to all who heard it. The ones who served him, in time, like his crew on the Ravager, became utter slaves.

Darth Nihilus was adept in many aspects of the Force. He used his dark variant of the Sever Force ability to strip the Force from Darth Traya and, together with Darth Sion, betrayed her and cast her out of the Sith Order. Nihilus could also use the Force to lift starships, as he did on Malachor V with the Ravager. He tore it from the mass shadows that surrounded the planet and kept it together even though it had suffered extensive structural damage. Through the Force, Darth Nihilus was able to escape death by containing his consciousness in his armor—an ability that Darth Krayt would inquire of Nihilus’s holocron millennia later. He was also proficient in Dark rage, Farseeing, Force lightning, Force Resistance, Force Scream, Force Whirlwind, among others such as a dark variant of Force Healing called Dark Healing. Nihilus was aware of some secret powers of the dark side such as devastating power, used to increase the power of an offensive Force technique either by half of its power or to double its power, and distant power, which gave him the ability to increase the range of a Force power to anywhere in the star system from which it originated. His knowledge also extended to Sith alchemy; during the second battle of Onderon, Nihilus’s sect of Sith followers used techniques that would bend tame beasts to their will.

The Star Wars universe is an expansive universe. You’re playing the games, you’re watching the movies, you know the how, but do you know the why? Each week we make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind Star Wars: The old Republic
This article uses material from the “Darth Nihilus” article on the Star Wars wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.