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Star Wars: The Old Republic Column: The Treaty of Coruscant

By Michael Bitton on January 26, 2011

This week’s Star Wars: The Old Republic shifts a bit to something I haven’t really covered much of: the lore. For a game so focused on story, I’m actually surprised I haven’t written too many articles on the lore of the game, but one recent post by Bioware’s Principal Lead Writer Daniel Erickson intrigued me.

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Last week, Daniel responded to a thread discussing why the Sith Empire signed the Treaty of Coruscant when they’d successfully sacked the Republic capital in a sneak attack, taking out the Supreme Chancellor and the Jedi Temple, among other things.  Before we get into the theories, let’s sum up Daniel’s response:

Prior to the signing of the Treaty, the Sith Empire actually held the stronger hand in terms of military power, which is why the Republic found themselves a bit perplexed as to why the Sith Empire desired peace with the proposal of a treaty.  Suspicious of the proposal, the Republic called upon its best Jedi to join them at the meeting, which was to take place on Alderaan, and this left many systems undefended as a result, opening Coruscant up for a sneak attack that the Sith Empire had clearly planned years in advance.

Given the situation, the Sith Empire confidently sacked Coruscant and held the fate of the Jewel of the Galaxy in their hands, forcing the Republic to sign the Treaty as is without any deliberations or debate. You might say this was a pretty brilliant move by the Sith Empire, but the Treaty as it was originally drafted wasn’t really that harsh on the Republic,  as it basically called for peace and left the status of Republic and Sith Empire territories unchanged, with the exception of several small fairly inconsequential starsystems changing over to the empire.

This is where it gets peculiar and has a lot of people scratching their heads, including the fictitious Republic and Sith Empire. The Republic were left wondering why the Treaty of Coruscant wasn’t harsher given the Sith Empire’s massive upper hand, and the Sith Empire troops couldn’t make heads or tails of why they were called to withdraw after achieving the greatest victory in their empire’s history.

So, why the heck did things pan out the way they did? Daniel’s lips are sealed on the subject, though he mentioned that the upcoming novel Deceived, which focuses on the story of the newly anointed Sith Lord Darth Malgus, will shed some light on the situation.

Of course, fans aren’t going to wait on the release of some novel to speculate on what went on here, and so naturally the SW:TOR forum community is abuzz with theories on the reasoning behind the terms of the Treaty of Coruscant.

One user suggested that the move was a Hail Mary of sorts, asserting that the Sith Empire basically wanted to end the conflict without having to haggle over the particulars. I don’t really agree with this as it suggests a much less sinister motivation for the Sith Empire, which as Daniel noted held the upper hand militarily. This theory also doesn’t explain why they didn’t go for more in their treaty as they clearly had leverage in basically taking Coruscant hostage. The theory suggests the Sith Empire was simply pragmatic, and wanted to end the war without wasting unnecessary resources in continuing to fight the Republic.

Another user suggested the reason the Sith Empire pulled back when they did and accepted peace was similar to the reason one would agree to a short peace treaty in the Civilization games even when you’re knocking on their doorstep. Forcing poor terms on the loser of the deal allows you to weaken them without force while allowing time to build up a greater force for an even larger scale attack later. This theory is a bit more plausible, but again, if this were true, why didn’t the Sith Empire make the treaty more punishing in order to weaken the Republic further?

While the two above theories don’t really answer the question, I do think that the Sith Empire is definitely planning on a larger scale attack later, and I rest most of that on the seemingly inconsequential starsystems they collected as part of the deal. We don’t know what these systems are and so it is difficult to speculate too much, but given the obvious cunning of the Sith Empire, which was of course clearly evidenced by their ability to handily sack the Republic capital, I think it is safe to say these small starsystems will be of great tactical significance down the road.

So, what are your theories on the Sith Empire’s motivations with the Treaty of Coruscant? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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