Know your lore: Zaalbar

Zaalbar (pronounced /’zɑlbɑɹ/), also nicknamed “Big Z”, was a male Wookiee who aided the former Sith Lord Revan in his quest throughout the galaxy to find and destroy the Star Forge superweapon . Originating from the Mid Rim Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk, Zaalbar was the son of Wookiee Chieftain Freyyr, but had been exiled from his homeworld. Zaalbar was considered in Wookiee culture to be a madclaw, a title of dishonor, as he had attacked his brother Chuundar with his climbing claws, violating a Wookiee code of conduct. Despite his brother’s deals with slavers, which had led to their fight, Zaalbar’s father did not believe his accusations against Chuundar. Leaving Kashyyyk, Zaalbar traveled to the planet Taris where he encountered and befriended the Twi’lek orphan Mission Vao. Zaalbar and Vao traveled everywhere on Taris together. The two protected one another in the absence of any other companions and a close bond was forged between them. Also, the duo affiliated themselves with the Lower City gang known as the Hidden Beks.

When the amnesiac Revan traveled to the planet alongside Republic soldier Carth Onasi and began a search for the Jedi Knight Bastila Shan, whom they needed to find to aid the Republic war effort against the Sith Empire, they encountered Vao and Zaalbar. After Zaalbar was captured by Gamorrean slavers and held prisoner in the sewers of the Undercity, Vao turned to Revan and his companions for help in rescuing the Wookiee. With their combined abilities, Revan and his party were able to do so. Escaping Taris with Revan and his companions after the orbital bombardment of the planet that resulted in the destruction of Taris, Zaalbar agreed to travel around the galaxy with Revan and his companions to search for the ancient Star Map artifacts which would lead them to the Star Forge. As one of the Star Maps was located on Kashyyyk, Zaalbar returned to his homeworld with Revan in search of it. With Revan’s help he cleared his name and liberated his homeworld from the slaving operations of the pan-galactic Czerka Corporation. He parted ways with Revan after the defeat and death of Sith Lord Darth Malak.


Early life
A son of the Wookiee Chieftain Freyyr, Zaalbar was born on the Wookiee home planet of Kashyyyk prior to the Jedi Civil War. Zaalbar’s tribe came under the attention of numerous slaving organizations across the galaxy, such as the unscrupulous Czerka Corporation. After Zaalbar discovered that his brother, Chuundar, was making deals with slavers to sell Wookiees to them, he went mad with rage and attacked Chuundar. During the fight, Zaalbar broke an important Wookiee code and used his claws as weapons. Though Chuundar survived the attack, Zaalbar was consequently branded a madclaw and exiled from his village, Rwookrrorro, and Kashyyyk as a whole.

During his exile, Zaalbar traveled to the planet Taris. Upon his arrival, the Wookiee got into trouble in Taris’ Lower City; a few gang members of the Black Vulkars, a swoop gang of Taris, began trying to fight the lone Wookiee. Although Zaalbar did not allow himself to be goaded into fighting, a young Twi’lek orphan, Mission Vao, who was observing the altercation, believed Zaalbar to be in danger. Vao attacked one of the Vulkars, but he knocked her down. Big Z retaliated by grabbing the Vulkar who had done so by the throat, scaring the others off. After that, Zaalbar and Vao became inseparable, traveling everywhere together. Zaalbar’s strength allowed Vao to gain physical protection against swoop gangs and local thugs, while Mission’s abilities to break open locks, as taught to her by her brother Griff, were able to benefit the Wookiee. Zaalbar and Vao then affiliated themselves with the Hidden Beks, a gang based around the swoop racing sport popular on Taris at the time.

When the amnesiac Jedi Knight and former Sith Lord Revan served on the Republic ship Endar Spire, the ship came under attack by the forces of Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Malak. After the Sith forces overpowered the Endar Spire, and the Republic was forced to call an evacuation order, a multitude of Republic escape pods fled to the planet’s surface. One of the pods contained Revan and Republic soldier Carth Onasi. Upon landing, they searched the planet for Jedi Knight Bastila Shan. Shan was another refugee from the Endar Spire, and Shan was considered an important asset for the Republic in battles, due to her ability to use the Force power battle meditation. Zaalbar encountered Revan and his companion when Zaalbar was part of the Hidden Beks. Zaalbar and Vao first saw Revan in Javyar’s Cantina. In the cantina, Zaalbar was scaring off a group of Black Vulkars who were harassing Vao.

Zaalbar and Vao ignored Revan upon first meeting him and his companion. Later, however, Zaalbar was captured by Gamorrean slavers, and taken to the Undercity sewers on his way to be sold on as a slave. Vao enlisted Revan’s help to rescue Zaalbar from the Undercity sewers where he was being held. Revan proceeded to enter the sewers and subsequently attack and kill a number of the Gamorrean slavers, liberating Zaalbar from his confines. Zaalbar, during his imprisonment, had not been fed, and the only nutrition had received was when he had bitten a piece out of one of the arms of one of his Gamorrean oppressors. In the wake of his rescue by Revan, Zaalbar swore a life debt to the former Sith Lord, a Wookiee vow which meant he pledged his life to the protection of Revan. As a result, Zaalbar became a member of Revan’s crew and joined him in his quest to find the Star Maps, maps that would lead to the superweapon called the Star Forge. Wherever Zaalbar went, Vao swore she would follow, so she joined Revan’s party as well.

Return to Kashyyyk
When Revan and his companions arrived on Kashyyyk—where Zaalbar’s brother Chuundar had seized power from their father—Zaalbar was imprisoned by his brother for not honoring his exile as a madclaw. Revan learned that Chuundar had sold a number of his fellow Wookiees as slaves to Czerka Corporation, but only a few in the tribe knew this fact; the rest saw Chuundar as a great hero. Chuundar asked Revan to kill another madclaw Wookiee exile who had taken up residence in the Shadowlands, the dangerous area beneath the planet’s trees, in order for them to be allowed to leave with Zaalbar. Revan, having seen in a vision the location of the Star Map on the forest floor, agreed, as he felt he would be able to search for the Star Map at the same time. After journeying to the Shadowlands, Revan and his companions discovered that the exile was Freyyr, father of Zaalbar and Chuundar.

Instead of killing Freyyr, Revan helped the old Wookiee retrieve Bacca’s Ceremonial Blade, a vibrosword of great importance to the Wookiees, which had been embedded in the skin of a terentatek beast. Freyyr then led a revolt against Chuundar and Czerka Corporation, resulting in Chuundar being killed. In the wake of Chuundar’s death, Freyyr resumed his position as chieftain of the tribe, giving Bacca’s Ceremonial Blade to his son, Zaalbar. This indicated, in Wookiee culture, that his son would succeed him as chieftain. Zaalbar accepted this gift, but told his father that he had to honor his life debt to Revan, and follow him on his quest around the galaxy. Zaalbar told his father that he would return to Kashyyyk when their quest to find the Star Maps was complete, and the Star Forge destroyed.

After the Star Maps led them to the uncharted planet Lehon, Carth Onasi was able to give the location of the Star Forge to Republic Admiral Forn Dodonna. Dodonna brought her ships to Lehon, triggering the Battle of Rakata Prime. Zaalbar, Revan, and the rest of Revan’s companions had been led to Lehon after finding Star Maps on the planets of Dantooine, Tatooine, Manaan, Korriban and Kashyyyk, with the maps directing them toward Lehon in order to find the Star Forge. A team of Jedi alongside Revan and his companions, including Zaalbar, boarded the Star Forge. Under Sith resistance, including that of the captured Bastila Shan, who had turned to the dark side and was aiding Malak, Revan‘s party eventually reached Shan and redeemed her. Subsequently, Revan defeated and killed Malak, before destroying the Star Forge. Following the destruction of the Star Forge, Zaalbar was given a medal, the Cross of Glory, by the commanding Republic officer Admiral Forn Dodonna, along with the rest of Revan’s crew. Afterward, Revan left the galaxy for the Unknown Regions, leaving Zaalbar behind with the rest of his former party.

Personality and traits
Zaalbar was a shy Wookiee of few words, preferring to let the street-smart Mission Vao do most of the talking. He was very protective of the young Twi’lek, and would sacrifice himself for her without hesitation. Still, even as he trusted her, and trusted Revan, he found it difficult to express certain aspects of himself and of his culture, feeling they were private and not for outsiders to know. An important trait of Zaalbar’s was his loyalty, and a strong sense of Wookiee honor and tradition, as shown by his dedication to his life debt. Zaalbar also maintained keeping his past life secret from even those he trusted most, as he found it painful to discuss and share it.

Zaalbar also appeared to have a low opinion of himself. When asked by Revan if he could help him with a problem, Zaalbar expressed his belief that he would be of little use unless, of course, he needed something to be bashed open.

Zaalbar also took care of his appetite. During his capture on Taris, he was so hungry that he even tried to bite off a Gamorrean guard’s arm. When the Ebon Hawk”s food supply started getting low, he was the first one to notice it. Revan might have suspected him at first, of stealing and eating the supplies, but it turned out to be a young girl who had sneaked on board. Vao was also constantly teasing Zaalbar about his bad breath and appearance.

When Zaalbar discovered that his companion was in fact Revan, he showed indifference to who Revan had once been and pledged to continue his life debt, believing Revan to be a changed man.

Talents and abilities
Zaalbar’s skills lay in physical combat, and a strong constitution. Zaalbar was a dedicated warrior and fighter, able to wield a number of weapons including melee weapons, such as vibroblades, to the weapon called the bowcaster, which was favored by Wookiees. Dangerous when angered, this was demonstrated by Zaalbar’s choice to tear a chunk out of the arm of a Gamorrean slaver who was keeping him prisoner with his bare teeth. Zaalbar was also a strong guardian, protecting the young Mission Vao in the Undercity of Taris. Zaalbar’s strength was also evident from his ability to easily pick up foes, as he did with those who were attacking him when he first met Mission. He was also able to do this on Tatooine, where he was able to pick up Tusken Raiders.

Zaalbar terrorizing two Tusken Raiders on Tatooine

In terms of abilities of construction, Zaalbar was capable of making grenades for Revan and his party, doing so on numerous occasions. His personal possessions included a custom-crafted bowcaster and later, the sacred Bacca’s Ceremonial Blade after the Wookiee rebellion on Kashyyy In terms of linguistic skills, Zaalbar was able to understand the languages of Basic, Ryl, Huttese and Shyriiwook, being able to speak the latter.

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