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Young fool. Only now, at the end, do you understand.
Force Lightning was a well known, Force ability most often used by practitioners of the dark side of the Force, especially the Sith. Because of this association, the ability was commonly referred to as Sith Lightning.
Some possess raw elemental power; they can unleash storms of lightning from their fingertips…—Darth Bane, Darth Bane: Rule of Two
Force lightning was a purely offensive, energy-based attack that channeled Force energy down the user's limbs, hurling arcing bolts of electricity from the wielder's fingertips or palms; Force lightning could be executed with either one or two hands. Powerful discharges would branch out into dozens of smaller forks; thus, skilled practitioners could target several foes at once.
The intensity varied based on a number of factors. A skilled user could render a target unconscious with only a short burst. A single, powerful blast was sufficient to kill a person instantly. Darth Bane's lightning, for example would often electrocute his opponents to death on contact.
The fact that it caused not only severe physical damage but also unbearable agony to the victim's emotions and spirit led to it being widely used as a form of torture. Palpatine, at the Battle of Endor repeatedly assaulted Luke Skywalker with the lightning.
Depending on the level of intensity, Force lightning could ground itself on an ignited lightsaber, with no apparent ill effect on the lightsaber's operation. Powerful light-siders were sometimes able to resist the attack, or even block the lightning completely. Mace Windu, with his lightsaber combat form Vaapad, could reflect the lightning back to its source with a "superconducting loop". It required tremendous effort on the reflector's part, however, as seen in Windu's battle with Palpatine; Windu was seemingly able to overcome Palpatine's lightning, however it may have simply been a ruse by Palpatine.
Force lightning could also be absorbed and redirected by a Jedi of sufficient skill; Yoda demonstrated this ability by both deflecting and absorbing the dark power during battles with Count Dooku and Emperor Palpatine, using nothing more than his own two hands. Galen Marek was also able to block Palpatine's lightning with only his bare hands and keep walking towards him at the same time. Luke Skywalker attempted this, and succeeded for a short amount of time, before the Emperor's attack overwhelmed him.
There existed an advanced version of Force lightning which may have been used by the Jedi Exile and Revan in the Jedi Civil War. Its destructive potential was legendary; the apocalyptic power was known as Force Storm. Marek used this power on the giant sarlaac during his fight with Shaak Ti.
Effect of Force lightningEdit
The attempt on my life has left me scarred and deformed. But, I assure you, my resolve has never been stronger!—Palpatine, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Though the short-term effects of Force lightning are obvious, the sheer power invoked by its use could have insidious long-term effects, both on those subjected to its power and those who would wield it. Prolonged exposure to intense electrical fields (such as a sustained current of Force lightning) caused most humanoids to experience sudden and massive calcification of their skeletal system; the abrupt drop in blood minerals provoked muscular microseizures all over the victim's body.
Telltale symptoms included generalized muscle aches and double vision. A blood test or bioscan could be used to confirm the diagnosis.
Unless the victim received complete bed rest and appropriate medical treatment, the disorder would become chronic, lingering for years (barring timely bacta immersion). Luke Skywalker, who was diagnosed with the disorder by 4 ABY was confined to a hoverchair for his trip to Bakura during the Ssi-Ruuk invasion, mere days after his near-fatal encounter with Palpatine.
It is thought that very intense use of Force lightning could drain the user physically, and possibly result in severe facial and body deformations. The deformities Palpatine displayed after unleashing a barrage of Force lightning on Mace Windu, only to have it reflected back upon him by the Jedi Master's lightsaber may be an example of this.
Palpatine comments, however, that the scarred visage he has is his "real" face, and that his former look was a mask.
Besides draining the user's energy, Force lightning had the added drawback of occasionally charring the hand of the person who used it. When Jacen Solo flew into a rage underneath the ruins of the Jedi Temple on Yuuzhan'tar and attacked his Yuuzhan Vong pursuers with Force lightning, he later found that the blasts had burned charred holes in his palm.
Unlike other users of Force lightning, Jacen was untested with the ability, and it is possible that Force users more experienced with the technique can prevent this. It is also possible that the sheer intensity with which Jacen lashed out at his attackers caused the power to exceed his capacity to restrain it, which might also explain his sudden subsequent unconsciousness.
Use by JediEdit
Force lightning ability was not restricted to dark-siders. Jedi and other light-siders who were strong of will and character could learn this power without falling to the dark side—but its use was viewed as inherently corrupting, and most Jedi Councils forbade its use.
Some Jedi nonetheless refused to dismiss the natural power of this ability. Plo Koon used this ability (which he called Electric Judgment) to subdue a criminal named Pommel, who had taken a hostage. Koon used Force lightning to knock Pommel out, yet claimed to have no plans to experiment with it in the future.
Some members of the New Jedi Order such as Kyle Katarn and Jaden Korr also used Force lightning (colloquially known as "Emerald Lightning"), but it remained very controversial. Other Jedi practitioners of this power have been Jaina Solo, Jacen Solo, and Luke Skywalker.
Force lightning usersEdit
I've become more powerful than any Jedi. Even you.
Force lightning required a living conduit for the energy to be channeled; thus Darth Vader, despite being an immensely powerful Sith Lord, was never able to properly employ this ability, as all his limbs were prosthetics.
There is, however, one case where Vader did use Force Lightning. When Vader was in close proximity to the presence of the Kaiburr Crystal on Circarpous V, the amplification effects of the Force caused his affinity with the dark side to expand. As a result, Vader was able to utilize this power, a feat normally impossible for him.
Vader's cybernetics, as well as his artificial life support system, made him much more vulnerable to the damaging effects of Force lightning. This vulnerability would eventually contribute to his death.
Darth Sidious was a master of the technique. He used Force lightning to punish Luke Skywalker for his refusal to join him, beginning with an agonizing but non-lethal quantity and working his way gradually upwards toward lethality. When Anakin Skywalker turned on the Emperor, Sidious used the lightning at a much higher intensity, yet Luke's father was still able to endure it long enough to hurl his master into the second Death Star's reactor shaft, perhaps because as the Chosen One, he may have still been far more powerful than Luke in order to bring balance to the Force.
Darth Tyranus used the technique to incapacitate Anakin Skywalker during the Battle of Geonosis. He also attempted the technique on Obi-Wan Kenobi, who was able to block it with his lightsaber, and Master Yoda, who managed to reflect and dispel the energy with his bare hands. In addition, Tyranus utilized this power to stabilize the heartbeat of General Grievous after the Kaleesh's body was mangled in a shuttle crash.
Jorak Uln, the former headmaster of the Sith Academy on Korriban who hid in the Valley of the Dark Lords during the Jedi Civil War, would sometimes kidnap and torture Sith students. One of his favorite games was testing his captives on Sith philosophy, punishing their failure with Force lightning, often until they were killed.
Galen Marek, the former apprentice to Darth Vader, also used this power, even after his conversion to the light side of the Force. His mastery of this ability may have even rivaled that of Darth Sidious, as he was known to employ lightning in ways that had not been seen before. Marek could strike someone with a short burst of lightning and then cause it to magnify in their body, exploding and killing them. He would also Force grip an opponent and then electrocute them with a short burst of lightning, and then drop them on the ground, which would increase the electricity's lethality.
Other Force-sensitives known to have used the power or its variants include:
Variants of Force lightningEdit
Power! Unlimited power!—Darth Sidious, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Force Shock was a Force power that allowed the user to create an energy spark that would track and damage the nearest enemy. The shock could be thrown at an opponent to stun and injure them, or could be set loose to track an opponent until it dissipates. The shock would not last more than five seconds or so before disappearing into a tiny burst of heat, but it was a useful technique for Sith apprentices.
Force Storm was a Force lightning variant. The user would raise his palm upward and would create, through the Force, an explosion of electrical energy directed at all foes in the vicinity. It was used by both the Sith and Dark Jedi during the Jedi Civil War. It also appeared as a tornado of energy which created a great disturbance in the Force. Jedi could also join together to create a Force storm, though its use was frowned upon by more orthodox Jedi.
Unlike the Force lightning, Force Storm was not limited to attacking enemies in one direction, as it affected all foes within a certain radius from the user. Revan and the Jedi Exile may have mastered this particular power. Darth Bane and Darth Sidious were also notable users of this power; Bane being able to call upon a nearly uncontrollable Force Storm shortly after having been taught the basics of Force Lightning by Githany, who herself had only learnt the power the same day from Qordis.
Chain Lightning was a variation of Force lightning with the difference being that the lightning was able to strike one person and then move to another or several others. As it was more powerful than the standard lightning, it required a greater amount of discipline and concentration to project and sustain the stream of lightning. The only confirmed users are the Force apparition known as Dark Mara and Galen Marek.
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Notes and referencesEdit
- ↑ Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
- ↑ Star Wars Empire: Betrayal
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
- ↑ Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi novelization
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 7.9 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
- ↑ Truce at Bakura
- ↑ Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
- ↑ Traitor
- ↑ Star by Star
- ↑ Revenge of the Sith: The Visual Dictionary
- ↑ The Eyes of Revolution
- ↑ Star Wars: The Old Republic, Threat of Peace Act 1: Treaty of Coruscant
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
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- ↑ Dark Heart
- ↑ Star Wars Legacy 22: The Wrath of the Dragon
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 Darth Bane: Path of Destruction
- ↑ Inferno
- ↑ 21.0 21.1 Star Wars Legacy 1: Broken, Part 1
- ↑ Star Wars Legacy 13: Ready to Die
- ↑ Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
- ↑ Star Wars Legacy 2: Broken, Part 2
- ↑ The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader
- ↑ Tales of the Jedi: Dark Lords of the Sith (audio)
- ↑ Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
- ↑ Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 34: Vindication, Part 3
- ↑ Star Wars: Darth Maul
- ↑ The Dark Side Sourcebook
- ↑ Twilight
- ↑ 32.0 32.1 Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
- ↑ Invincible
- ↑ Star Wars Republic: Darkness