There’s a lot bubbling beneath the surface of this lava planet.
In the far reaches of the Outer Rim, a small, smoldering planet silently traverses its orbit in the Atravis sector. Caught between the planets Jestefed and Lefrani, the molten world is covered in volcanoes and rivers of lava. But don’t let the seemingly barren landscape of the planet of Mustafar fool you. It’s a hotspot in the history of the galaxy, and not just because of the searing lava bubbling in explosive bursts across its acrid plains.
From ancient Force secrets, to its hidden native inhabitants, to a certain Dark Lord of the Sith, the lava planet has a long history waiting to be discovered. With Halloween season upon us, this seemed the perfect time to investigate one of the galaxy's most haunting locales.
1. The planet was once green and lush.
Mustafar is small -- slightly smaller than Mercury in our own solar system -- and eons ago the surface wasn’t scarred by lava fields and toxic gasses. The verdant world was stripped of life when Lady Corvax, a Force-sensitive ruler of Mustafar, misused an ancient artifact for personal gain, unleashing destruction on the planet. The planet transformed into a wasteland.
If you’re already intrigued, you’ll uncover even more about the planet’s secret history in ILMxLAB’s Vader Immortal virtual reality experience -- available now for Oculus and PlayStation VR.
2. Vader’s castle was designed by an ancient Sith named Lord Momin.
In a quality rare for a Sith, Momin preferred to use the Force to create rather than destroy, desiring to invoke primal fear and true pain with the things he made. In the years before any hint of rebellion, Emperor Palpatine gave his apprentice, Vader, Momin’s helmet as he embarked to claim Mustafar for his own. Momin’s spirit inhabited the artifact and would soon make itself known to Lord Vader.
The ancient architect designed Fortress Vader, or Vader’s castle, on top of a Sith cave. Beyond serving as a place for Darth Vader to meditate and heal, the fortress on the Gehenn Plains had a secret purpose: to harness the powerful dark side energies of the planet. But a Sith should never be trusted…
3. Native Mustafarians live under the planet’s surface.
While we’ve seen the two races of Mustafarians working as lava miners on the surface in the Darth Vader comic book series and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, we’ve never seen the planet’s inhabitants living in the dark caves below -- until Vader Immortal. These clans survive in the massive caverns below the fiery lava fields. A loremaster and priestess serve the Mustafarians below, and they’re well-versed in their planet’s history. These Mustafarians have a hint of Vader’s true motives, but they’re going to need some help to stop him.
4. The surface of Mustafar isn’t completely lifeless, even long after Darth Vader is gone.
Not only are there native sentient inhabitants, the lava and cooled magma surface hide other creatures, as well. There's sparse vegetation, but extremophile organisms live in the lava. Most surprisingly, the planet is home to a menacing creature called the Eye of Webbish Bog, charged by Lord Vader to guard an ancient Sith Wayfinder.
Kylo Ren confronts the Eye on his quest to find the Wayfinder among the ruins of his grandfather’s castle. The giant creature is hairless, and “draped over its massive bald head and across one shoulder was a second creature with long spidery tentacles.”
Meet the Eye of Webbish Bog and learn more about its mission in the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker novelization by Rae Carson.
5. Cult colonists called the Alazmec protect the forest of Corvax Fen and the memory of Darth Vader.
The bog of ash and ironwood trees where Kylo Ren unleashes his fury in The Rise of Skywalker is known as Corvax Fen -- yes, that Corvax. The bog is said to be soaked in Lady Corvax’s tears. One sect, the Alazmec of Winsit, stands in Ren’s way; they’ve sworn to protect the ruins of Vader’s castle and the ground near it. Kylo Ren strikes them down without mercy.
Bonus fun fact: Mustafar was first created during the concept art stage of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, designed by Ralph McQuarrie.
McQuarrie, working on designs for the second Star Wars movie in 1977-1978, devised a dark castle on a lava planet. The concept was later refined by Doug Chiang for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
“Ralph McQuarrie actually drew quite a few small thumbnail sketches [of Vader’s castle] that were very intriguing. They were kind of angular versions of a tower, and I saw the potential of where he was going, and I just exaggerated that quite a bit,” Chiang told StarWars.com.
The design team built upon the idea of a Sith cave beneath the fortress that McQuarrie had also devised years ago. “[We] took that idea and thought, ‘Okay, well, maybe on the lower levels of Vader’s castle, there’s a more ancient part. That he actually built this castle on a foundation of an ancient structure.’”
For a ghoul-actic collection of articles, crafts, and more, check out StarWars.com’s Halloween hub…if you dare!
Kelly Knox writes features and DIYs for StarWars.com. Her writing can also be seen on Marvel, DC Comics, IGN, and more. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox to talk Star Wars, games, and crafts.
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