Friday, March 9, 2012
Fair warning, there isn’t a lot of ‘meat’ to this post, just some observations.
I had been curious about Dantooine since the first time I saw Star Wars, back in 1977. Even then, at age six, I wanted to know MORE about this world than what was presented in the movies. Of course, at the time, there wasn’t a lot to be known. The very thought of an ‘expanded universe’ hadn’t crossed anyone’s mind. Dantooine in particular seemed to be doomed to obscurity.
The first mention of the planet outside of the movies was (as I recall) in the Jedi Academy novels (which came out in 1994). There, the planet is described as being inhabited by primitive ‘cavemen-like’ Dantari tribesmen. It was also used as a place to house refugees- who were subsequently killed by Admiral Daala. Other than that, not much was revealed about the planet. It remained kind of ‘generic’, much to my chagrin.
It wasn’t until Knights of the Old Republic (released in 2003) that Dantooine really came into its own. Here we are (in true Star Wars fashion), shown a planet dominated by one over-arching terrain type. Tatooine was a desert world, Endor was a forest world, Yavin a jungle world, etc.. Dantooine, we discover, is a world of endless, rolling plains. This gave it a distinct look- a ‘hook’ I could really buy into. It was no longer generic.
Now, coming from South Dakota as I do, I grew up on the Great Plains. I couldn’t help but draw parallels between Dantooine and my own ‘homeworld’. There is something truly remarkable about those plains, a sense of expanse and scale you just don’t get anywhere else. For this (admittedly subjective) reason, Dantooine has become one of my favorite planets in the Star Wars galaxy. I especially love the way it was portrayed in the KotOR video games and even the Clone Wars 2D Animated series- with a scattering of farmsteads and small towns nestled away in the rolling plains.
Though I was never that thrilled with the native Dantari tribesmen as an original concept, I can’t help but draw more parallels between their presence and the presence of ‘Native Americans’ in South Dakota. I grew up on an Indian Reservation in South Dakota. I could easily see this kind of social situation on Dantooine as well: with the native tribes ‘displaced’ by new colonists centuries (millennia) ago and still struggling to adapt to the new situation. Suddenly, the Dantari have a depth to them (in my mind) that they never had in the way they are ‘officially’ presented.
Dantooine is made even more interesting by the fact that it contains the ruins of several very important places. Many thousands of years ago (according to Knights of the Old Republic), it was part of the Rakatan Infinite Empire. There are still incredibly ancient ruins on the planet, including one in which Darth Revan began his career as a Sith Lord. Though this ruin was explored, there may be others, with their own secrets, still hidden beneath the rolling plains.
Dantooine was also home to a Jedi Enclave. For a time (during the events of Knights of the Old Republic), this was actually the headquarters for the entire order. It was subsequently destroyed by Darth Malak, but the ruins themselves could still exist. In fact, it was retconned that the Rebel Base mentioned in Episode IV was actually built near the ruins of the enclave.
So you've got unique terrain, interesting social dynamics, ancient ruins...but that's not all. Dantooine also has a selection of creatures to threaten and wonder visitors.
Kath Hounds are perhaps the best known- in fact, during the Old Republic, vicious and or tenacious beings were referred to as "Kath Hounds". Then there are the truly alien (but neat), flying manta-like creatures (Brith), seen slowly plying the skies above the plains. There are the vicious laigrek and kinrath (both insectoid types). And though never seen in the games, there are various herd animals as well- the antelope-like Iriaz and the large Thune herd beasts. All in all, a nice cross section of critters to help make the place more unique.
For something that began so ‘generically’, as just a name, I have really enjoyed the way Dantooine has developed over the years, even if a lot of that is only due to my own ‘take’ on the world. Dantooine is the closest Star Wars equivalent of South Dakota, and that gives me all kinds of ideas on how to use it in a game should I ever decide to.