Goody’s Guide To The Galaxy! – The Lightsaber
So The Chief (Our sites mad blogging editor) and I created this new Archive Topic in an attempt to help improve everyone’s (those of you who read our site) education of Star Wars culture. We will have articles about all the lovely facets of Star Wars ranging from Characters, Ships, Weapons, Species, Worlds, and Culture. Now, we will not be limiting ourselves to just the new official Disney Canon, we’ll include the “Legends” timeline as well. So, with that brief explanation out of the way… Off to the podraces we go!
The lightsaber that you all know of today is known as the primary weapon of the Jedi or of their arch nemesis the Sith. This extraordinary and yet simple and elegant weapon takes incredible skill and force attunement to properly wield. Ya, anyone can swing a bat or club, but if you wanna do proper damage or defend yourself in any professional manner you’re going to have to practice quite a bit. But, what most people don’t realize is that the current lightsaber is a great ancestor of what was originally called a Forcesaber. When I say “great ancestor” here I mean the original Forcesabers were constructed over 36,000 years before the events in Star Wars 4 – A New Hope. Ya, that’s a long time folks and they weren’t always as cool as they appear to be today.
The original sabers were designed by the Rakatan Infinite Empire and it took their force-sensitive warriors known as Force Hounds to craft them. Back then they weren’t so much as the small handled sabers you commonly see today but a bit longer and the Rakatan themselves sported what is more commonly referred to as a lightsaber pike. The big difference between the current technology of sabers is that these sabers were powered by Dark Side Energy. So to wield a traditional forcesaber you had to also harness the power of the dark side. During this very early period in the Star Wars continuum the founding Jedi Order, known back then as the Je’daii Order, didn’t have this technology yet. Now, just like today, many saber colors were utilized, but we’ll get into that later on in this article.
Skipping forward a bit in our history portion of the article, we come to the Je’daii Order. The Je’daii were exposed to the Forcesaber technology, but being an order that was dedicated to studying the light side of the force, they examined the basic principles of the dark sided sabers and began experimenting in reproducing their own versions. The early sabers, commonly referred to as protosabers, were very crude, unreliable, and not practical by any means. These versions didn’t have a small internal power source to power the plasma energy blade. So the wielder had to wear a small power pack on his or her belt with a cord tethered to the users saber handle. This gave the saber a limited power supply since once the blade was powered on it began to deplete the battery pack and of course mobility. I would think it would have been very difficult to duel with another person wielding a saber since you’d have a cord in the way, plus you’d be scared stiff if your opponent managed to cut your cord! These sabers were more commonly used as a ceremonial tool more than anything.
With the advancement of technology through the years the protosabers were improved upon continuously. At approximately 15,000 years before the battle of Yavin (Episode 4 – A New Hope) an improvement to the energy system of the sabers was greatly improved. The researchers were able to focus the energy of the blades so that they arced in a circumferential path back to its source, creating a controlled energy circuit and leading to the first portable high-energy blades. The drawback to these new generational blades was how they consumed far more energy causing the power packs to overheat quickly, thus making the sabers still more of a ceremonial device.
The modernization or last main evolution was in thanks to the Sith Empire. It was the Sith who were responsible for developing power cells that could be inserted into the hilt of the lightsabers.
How a lightsaber works can get pretty technical. So first, here’s the simplest way to describe it’s mechanics. The highly efficient energy blade is built around a continuous recirculating power system, the only time the saber actually expends energy is when it’s blade cuts or comes in contact with something. Simple right? So, a wielder only needs to recharge their sabers power cell is if he or she is actually doing serious battle for an extended period of time. It also gives off no heat until the blade comes into contact with an object.
You want a more precise description of their mechanics? What, are planning on building one? Well, here it is anyways. All of the device innards rest typically within a metallic handle. How the outside is designed or decorated is up to the individual wielder building the saber. The innards included power cells, crystals (i’ll list the different types later), focus lenses, energizers, power insulators, discharge energy cell, modulation circuitry, blade emitter, and a superconductor. There, that’s everything you’ll need from a parts store, get going.
Here’s the process of how they work from the initial press of the power button; High levels of energy generated by a high-output power cell was unleashed through a series of focusing lenses and energizers that converted the energy into plasma. The plasma was projected through a lightsaber crystal or a series of crystals that lent the blade its properties and allowed for the adjustment of blade length and power output. The ideal number of crystals was three, though only one was required. A power insulator was installed on the hilt to protect the wielder from any energy discharges. Once focused by the crystals, the plasma was sent through a series of field energizers and modulation circuitry within the emitter that further focused it, making it into a coherent beam of energy that was projected from the blade emitter. The blade typically extended about a meter before being arced by the blade containment field back to a negatively charged fissure ringing the emitter, where it was channeled back to the power cell by a superconductor, completing the circuit. This containment field also caused the blades to make contact with other lightsabers blades without passing through like other forms of energy. This trait is seen when lightsaber wielders can block and parry other lightsaber blades. Did you get all of that? Well, if you can make it work, let me know! HA!
The simple version was better right?! Ya, I thought so too!
There are a wide variety of crystals, pearls, and gems available for use. Here is a very brief list of them. It should be noted that there are a lot of different types as well as custom gems that have been made over the years.
Adegan – found in the Adega System
Eralam – a type of crystal once mined on the third moon of the planet Erai.
Krayt dragon pearls – concretions that could be found in the bodies of Krayt dragons.
Lambents – were the fruits of a certain Yuuzhan Vong plant. Anakin Solo used one.
Lignan crystals – were powerful crystals crafted from Lignan ore which enabled the blade of a saber to burn hotter than normal crystals.
Hurrikaine crystals – were deep blue to violet crystals from the planet Hurikane admired for their unparalleled beauty. When used in a saber, they created blades that were very good at penetrating defenses. Prime example would be Mace Windu’s Lightsaber.
Synth-crystal, is a type of crystal that is artificially created, rather than naturally formed by geological processes. Most Sith preferred these so that during the creation process they could imbue them with their dark side powers. It should also be noted that Luke Skywalker made and used one of these when he constructed his first lightsaber.
There have been so many colors recorded in varies databases over the years that it would be impossible for me to list them here. So far, I’ve been able to dig up over 75 various colors, that’s more than a box of crayons! So, i’m only going to list the basic ones. Also, within the earlier days of the Jedi Order each color represented a specific duty or station of a Jedi Knight or Master, i’ll include those in each description.
Blue – Typically reserved for a Jedi Guardian, Jedi who used the Force on a more physical level.
Green – Typically reserved for a Jedi Consular, Jedi who preferred to reflect on the mysteries of the Force and fight the dark side at its heart.
Yellow – Typically reserved for a Jedi Sentinel, Jedi who honed their skills in a balance of combat and scholarly pursuits.
Red – Typical color used by the Sith. Most crystals that have been imbued with dark side energy will turn red.
Exotics – The purples, magenta’s, silver’s, and oranges were also used by the Jedi, they were just rare and uncommon.
Darksaber – This type of saber produces a black blade. The blade isn’t your typical rounded saber, but in fact extends from the hilt in a flat pointed blade.
I could tell you all about design, but you’d probably be here for a few days just reading this section alone! The design is always custom, there is no set way to design a lightsaber. It’s all about the needs, wants, desires, and usefulness in how a force user constructs their individual saber hilt. Instead, i’ll give some pictures of various hilts, some famous, some not. Enjoy!
I’ll actually summarize by quoting Obi-Wan Kenobi who said “This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster; an elegant weapon for a more civilized age”. Truly a wonderful and yet deadly weapon. It should be noted that the information in this article has been condensed down A LOT!! If I hadn’t then we all would have been here for a few weeks reading, lol!
I hope you enjoyed this article, I look forward to any and all comments. And as always, blessings and cheers to you all!
The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia