Quantifying Banite scaling

Introduction

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It has often been suggested that Banite scaling - the idea that each of Darth Bane's successors became successively more powerful each generation - is too vague to have anything beyond "X > Bane" concluded from it. This is far from the truth, as is revealed when one examines the empirical data, as well as the individual cases we have available for study.

Firstly, let us establish the groundwork from which the concept itself is founded. Each member of the Order of the Sith Lords grew more powerful than their predecessor.

"Over a millennium woven with shadowy conspiracy, their dark powers grew, teetering the Force into imbalance." - Databank: Sith Vengeance

"When the apprentice becomes more powerful than the Master, he destroys his Master and chooses an apprentice of his own." - Sith Wars

"Never again would there be more than two Sith Lords at one time, but members of the order continued expanding their dark powers without the knowledge of the Jedi, waiting for the opportunity to seize control of the galaxy." - The Official Star Wars Fact File #1
"As they gained knowledge of the dark side of the Force, their powers increased with each generation." - Episode 1: The Phantom Menace Scrapbook

"For a thousand years, we continued to follow Bane's Rule of Two, existing in the shadows, biding our time, growing in power, feeding our hatred." - Insider #88

"Ultimately, Bane's plan produced more powerful Sith Lords with each generation." - Force and Destiny
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Darth Bane, Book of the Sith

"That it is why we must seek out radical separatist groups, identify the ones that have the potential to become true threats, then encourage them to strike before they are ready. We must exploit them, playing them off against the Republic. We must let our enemies weaken one another while we stay hidden and grow strong."

Darth Bane: Rule of Two

--Darth Bane

Of all the Sith Masters, only Bane had understood the inescapable futility of this cycle. And only he had been strong enough to break it. Under his leadership the Sith had been reborn. Now they numbered only two - one Master and one apprentice; one to embody the power of the dark side, the other to crave it.

Thus would the Sith line always flow from the strongest, the one most worthy. Bane's Rule of Two ensured that the power of both Master and apprentice would grow from generation to generation until the Sith were finally able to exterminate the Jedi and usher in a new galactic age.

That was why Bane had chosen Zannah as his apprentice: she had the potential to one day surpass even his own abilities. On that day she would usurp him as the Dark Lord of the Sith and choose an apprentice of her own. Bane would die, but the Sith would live on.

Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil

"The Jedi believe the Sith are extinct," she began. "But you can plainly see by my presence that the Jedi are wrong. The Sith still exist, but now we number only two: one Master, and one apprentice. One to embody the power of the dark side, the other to crave it."

"So you want to increase your numbers," Set reasoned. "You're seeking recruits to join your cause and rebuild the Sith armies."

"That is the path to failure," Zannah replied. "The history of the Sith has proven that in greater numbers the Sith will always turn their hatred against one another. It is inevitable; it is the way of the dark side.

"The only way we can survive is by following the Rule of Two. Our numbers can never grow beyond this. The Master will train his apprentice in the ways of the Sith, until one day she must challenge him. If she proves unworthy, the Master will destroy her and choose a new apprentice. If she proves the stronger, the Master will fall and she will become the new Dark Lord of the Sith, and choose an apprentice of her own."

Set felt like things were becoming clearer now. "You are the apprentice. You think it's time to challenge your Master. And you want me to help you defeat him."

"No!" she snapped, causing Set to flinch in his bed. "That is the old way. Lesser followers would unite their inferior skills to bring down a strong leader, weakening the Order. This goes against everything the Rule of Two stands for.

"If I am to become the Dark Lord of the Sith, I must prove myself by facing my Master alone. If I am unworthy, then I will fall:but the Order will remain strong under his leadership.

"Do you understand?"

Set understood all too well. "The Rule of Two guarantees that each Master will be more powerful than the one who came before. It culls the weak." Good for the Sith as a whole, but not so great if you're the one getting culled.

Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil

"With patience and cunning, we are laying the seeds of our ultimate victory. Generation after generation our power and influence will grow until one day we will destroy the Jedi, and the Sith will rule the galaxy."

Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil

--Darth Zannah

The missions to Lianna, Saleucami, and Abraxin were still fresh in his thoughts. On a philosophical level he understood why the generations of Sith Lords that had preceded him had trained apprentices, to whom they had bequeathed their knowledge of the dark side of the Force in anticipation of an eventual challenge for superiority.

Darth Plagueis

"How often you said that the old order of Bane had ended with the death of your Master. An apprentice no longer needs to be stronger, you told me, merely more clever. The era of keeping score, suspicion and betrayal was over. Strength lies not in the flesh but in the Force."

Darth Plagueis

--Darth Sidious

He sometimes wondered: Was he a level behind? Two levels behind? Such questions were precisely what had driven generations of Sith apprentices ultimately to challenge their Masters. The uncertainty about who was the more powerful. The need to test themselves, to face the definitive trial.

Darth Plagueis

The Banite line contained 30 individuals as of Darth Plagueis' time.

“Descended from Darth Bane, we are the select few who refuse to be carried by the Force and who carry it instead - thirty in a millennium rather than the tens of thousands fit to be Jedi.”

Darth Plagueis

--Darth Plagueis

Notable individuals from the Banite line include Darth Bane, Darth Zannah, Darth Cognus, Darth Vectivus, Darth Gravid, Darth Gean, Darth Ramage, Darth Tenebrous’ Master, Darth Tenebrous, Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious.

The task before him was at once invigorating and daunting, and in the eye of that cycloning storm he could hear the faraway voices of all those who had laid the groundwork of the Sith imperative - the Grand Plan; those who had enlivened the hurricane with their breath and lives: Darths Bane and Zannah, and on down through the generations that had included Cognus, Vectivus, Ramage, and Tenebrous.

Darth Plagueis

Contrary to the opinions of some, the Banites’ generational power increase did not stop at Darth Gravid’s rampage. His apprentice Darth Gean still overpowered his Force barriers and defeated him with her bare hands despite her being far his inferior in Force knowledge, proving that the Banite Sith did not stop growing after Darth Gravid.

Barricaded within the walls of a bastion he and his Twi’lek apprentice, Gean, had constructed on Jaguada, he had attempted as much, and was thought to have destroyed more than half the repository of artifacts before Gean, demonstrating consummate will and courage, had managed to penetrate the Force fields Gravid had raised around their stronghold and intercede, killing her Master with her bare hands, though at the cost of her arm, shoulder, and the entire left side of her face and chest.

[...]

“Your thoughts betray you,” Plagueis said. “Do you think that Malak’s powers were weakened by Revan’s lightsaber? Bane by being encrusted in orbalisks? Do you think Gravid’s young apprentice was hindered by the prosthesis she was forced to wear after fighting him?”

Darth Plagueis

Method of Quantification

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According to Darth Sidious, the last Banite master, Bane's power passed from master to apprentice throughout the generations:

"Bane's power has been passed down for a thousand years. I vow to be its last recipient." - Darth Sidious, Book of the Sith

While it would be a straightforward and simple interpretation to conclude this conferring of power happened during the apprentice's training - after all, for the apprentices to equal and defeat their masters they would have had to have Bane's power - the source material itself implies something different. We can witness this phenomenon of Bane's power being transferred to the apprentice at the time of their masters' deaths on three separate occasions:

Even from a distance, she had sensed an incredible burst of power - the same power she had sensed in Bane himself. She didn’t know how it was possible, but it almost seemed as if the Dark Lord’s life energy had burst free of his physical form in one glorious instant, releasing itself upon the material world. Then, as suddenly as she had sensed the presence, it was gone, vanishing like an animal gone to ground.

Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil

Awake in the oppressive heat, he replayed the events of the previous day, still somewhat astounded by what he had done. The Force had whispered to him: Your moment has come. Claim your stake to the dark side. Act now and be done with this. But the Force had only advised; it had neither dictated his actions nor guided his hands. That had been his doing alone. He knew from his travels with and without Tenebrous that he wasn't the galaxy's sole practitioner of the dark side - nor Sith for that matter, since the galaxy was rife with pretenders - but he was now the only Sith Lord descended from the Bane line. A true Sith, and that realization roused the raw power coiled inside him.

[…]

With 11-4D deep in processing mode, Plagueis withdrew a vial of his own blood and subjected it to analysis. Despite the recent amplification of his powers he sensed that his midi-chlorian count had not increased since the events on Bal'demnic, and the analysis of the blood sample confirmed his suspicions.

Darth Plagueis

A tremor took hold of the planet.

Sprung from death, it unleashed itself in a powerful wave, at once burrowing deep into the world's core and radiating through its saccharine atmosphere to shake the stars themselves. At the quake's epicenter stood Sidious, one elegant hand vised on the burnished sill of an expansive translucency, a vessel filled suddenly to bursting, the Force so strong within him that he feared he might disappear into it, never to return. But the moment didn't constitute an ending so much as a true beginning, long overdue; it was less a transformation than an intensification - a gravitic shift.

A welter of voices, near and far, present and from eons past, drowned his thoughts. Raised in praise, the voices proclaimed his reign and cheered the inauguration of a new order. Yellow eyes lifted to the night sky, he saw the trembling stars flare, and in the depth of his being he felt the power of the dark side anoint him.

[…]

The dark side had made him its property, and now he made the dark side his.

Breathless, not from exertion but from the sudden inspiration of power, he let go of the sill and allowed the monster to writhe through his body like an unbroken beast of range or prairie.

Had the Force ever been so strong in anyone?

Sidious had never learned how Plagueis's own Master had met his end. Had he died at Plagueis's hand? Had Plagueis, too, experienced a similar exultation on becoming a sole Sith Lord? Had the beast of the end time risen then to peek at the world it was to inhabit, knowing its release was imminent?

Darth Plagueis

While this sort of apotheosis is not confirmed to have happened every time, these three instances nonetheless do lend credence to the idea that Bane's power would have seeped forth from the Master to their pupil at their deaths - to confer the mantle of Dark Lord. Once is a fluke and twice is a coincidence but thrice is a pattern; it's not like the quote specifies Bane's power was passed down during the training either - in fact there's zero evidence of this. Even the catchphrase of the Rule of Two implies the opposite: "Always two there are: a master and an apprentice. One to embody the power, the other to crave it." Perhaps even more literally than symbolically, the master does indeed embody the power; the power of the power of the Sith Master; the power of Darth Bane. When the master dies at the hands of the apprentice, the latter the becomes the embodiment of that power by having it transferred to them, after which they select their own apprentice to crave it in turn, and the cycle continues.

So with this, we have an obvious method of quantification: the apprentice already equals their master during their fateful confrontation, and after the deed is done they gain a Bane of power (Bane being a unit of measurement I devised to more conveniently ascertain the Banite Sith's power; the definition of the unit being that a single Bane is equivalent to the power wielded by Darth Bane at his peak in Dynasty of Evil) on top of their current level. This would have happened every time, to the result of, at the bare minimum, Tenebrous having 29 Banes, Plagueis 30, and Sidious 31 Banes of power at their command. The method is solid, simple, and exact.

Individual Instances

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Beyond quantitative methods, we have individual instances to demonstrate the vastness in between the beginning and the end of the line.

Darth Cognus

Before even beginning her apprenticeship under Darth Zannah, the Huntress - as she was known then - was already strong in the Force. So strong in fact, that she was able to threaten the reigning champion of the dark side Darth Bane with just her inborn talent with the Force. Indeed, she had no training, no prior knowledge of the Force, yet she was rivalling Bane with just her raw, instinctive use of the Force:

As he did so, he felt something fighting him. Some power was trying to block his ability to call upon the Force to shield himself. It wasn't strong enough to stop him, but it did hinder his efforts just enough so that a flicker of energy passed through the barrier.

[...]

He sprang back to his feet, simultaneously drawing his lightsaber with his right hand as he sent a blast of lightning out from the fingertips of his left hand. The violet bots should have incinerated all four of his targets on the balcony, yet again the strange power interfering with his ability to draw upon the Force hindered his efforts.

[...]

He came down with a heavy thud, the inexplicable power that still impeded his connection to the Force robbing him of a graceful landing.

[...]

The soldiers were nothing to him; it was the Iktotchi he was interested in now. She was the only opponent who posed any real threat.

[...]

Her achievements were even more impressive when one considered that she had never been given any formal training in the ways of the Force. Everything she did came from natural ability. Pure instinct. Raw power.

[...]

Her ability to disrupt the Force in others only gave further testament to her strength. She had never been trained in this rare and difficult technique; she simply unleashed it against her enemies through sheer force of will: crude but effective.

Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil

Given how each successive member would have more potential than Cognus, it should then not be a stretch to suggest some of the later Sith would have been Bane's superiors even while children and untrained neophytes. 17-year-old Sheev might in fact one-shot Bane.

Darth Gean

Gean overpowered the Force barrier her Master Darth Gravid had raised around their stronghold, proving herself his better in the Force, after which immediately besting him in single combat with just her bare hands, while he was armed with a lightsaber. This happened while she was still in training, not having learned even half of what her Master had to teach, yet she still demonstrated herself to be significantly more powerful and combatively able than Gravid. If she had learned all the Sith Archives had to offer at the time, the gap between her and her Master might have been outright enormous.

Barricaded within the walls of a bastion he and his Twi’lek apprentice, Gean, had constructed on Jaguada, he had attempted as much, and was thought to have destroyed more than half the repository of artifacts before Gean, demonstrating consummate will and courage, had managed to penetrate the Force fields Gravid had raised around their stronghold and intercede, killing her Master with her bare hands, though at the cost of her arm, shoulder, and the entire left side of her face and chest.

[...]

“Your thoughts betray you,” Plagueis said. “Do you think that Malak’s powers were weakened by Revan’s lightsaber? Bane by being encrusted in orbalisks? Do you think Gravid’s young apprentice was hindered by the prosthesis she was forced to wear after fighting him?”

Darth Plagueis

If a less-than-half-trained Gean can murk Gravid unarmed, then one can only imagine what those with even superior potential and superior actualized power and knowledge could do to Gravid. Granted how big even a generational increase is, most likely the likes of Tenebrous and Plagueis would already be capable of one-shotting Gravid, who himself could probably one-shot Bane.

Darth Tenebrous

While merely an apprentice, Tenebrous went far beyond the Force studies his own Master imposed on him, deeming them as "simplistic." If Tenebrous thought his Master's command of the Force was "simplistic" compared to his own before even taking the title of Sith Master, then it kind of boggles the mind how powerful he would become after disposing of his Master, an act that, by the way, Tenebrous carried out with his "customary efficiency," implying no great deal of difficulty:

More than a century before, when Tenebrous had been but a Sith apprentice himself, the magnificent computational power of his Bith brain had led him far beyond the simplistic Force studies imposed on him by his Master.

[...]

He had exterminated his doddering Master with his customary efficiency, and had embarked immediately on a decades-spanning quest for an apprentice of his own.

The Tenebrous Way

It does not end here, however. Tenebrous continued to grow for more than a century after the deed. In fact, he would probably only have been 20 years old or less given how most Biths aren't known to live past 85, yet Tenebrous had been the Sith Master for over a hundred years at the time of his death, which isn't factoring in the time he would have spend as an apprentice. Anything more than two decades is rather unbelievable considering Tenebrous would even then be over 120 at the time of his death, a bonafide statistical anomaly among his people. Given this, we can now factor in him far surpassing his Master in just two decades and multiply that by five to get the amount of growth he would have undergone as a Sith Master, and I honestly find it very, very hard to believe he would not one-shot his Master at his peak.

Ultimate Alien Anthology
Ultimate Alien Anthology

We have even more evidence, though. During the years of his apprenticeship, Tenebrous and his Master experimented to create a virus that would sever the Force connections of Jedi upon infection, although the project ended in failure. Decades later, Tenebrous would revisit the idea, and actually succeed in developing said virus with the same effect of cutting off Force users from the Force. He would take it even further, however, by limiting the severance to specific Force abilities, and by transforming the midi-chlorians into undying maxi-chlorians, and finally by coding the virus with his own consciousness. In a nutshell, apprentice Tenebrous and his Master fail at creating a far more simple virus than what peak Tenebrous creates solo. The implication here is that Tenebrous in his prime eclipses the power of his apprentice self and his Master combined.

But his apprentice carried the imperative forward, and each successive Sith Lord improved on it, Tenebrous and his Master most of all, though they wasted years attempting to create a targeted virus that could be deployed against the Jedi, separating them from the Force.

Darth Plagueis

As though midi-chlorians somehow embodied the principle of life itself, they vanished as life fled. Plagueis had more than once speculated that they somehow migrated from dying cells and returned to rejoin the Force from which they had sprung - more evidence of the apprentice's muddy thinking and pathetically romanticized mysticism, but no matter. The delusion of the student had proven an inspiration to the teacher, and the concept of midi-chlorian migration - flawed though it was - became the key to Tenebrous’ master stroke.

Amidst the billions upon billions of individual midi-chlorian deaths in Tenebrous' cells were a tiny fraction of midi-chlorians that were not dying.

That would not die so long as they inhabited a living host. These especially tenacious midi-chlorians - Tenebrous had privately labeled them with the jesting sobriquet maxi-chlorians - had been altered. Improved. It would not be an overstatement, in Tenebrous' opinion, to use the word perfected. These maxi-chlorians would indeed migrate, but not into the Force.

They would migrate into Plagueis.

To detect this infinitesimal percentage would require the precision of a Bith; it was far beyond his apprentice's limited perceptions - and indeed, Tenebrous had gone to considerable trouble to ensure it would always remain so.

Instead of actually training his doltish apprentice, Tenebrous had flattered Plagueis' mysticism while pricking his insecurities, sending him off on one useless, doomed-to-fail mission after another. In turn, Tenebrous had invested every available second of the freedom this afforded into designing, creating, and deploying the one weapon that Plagueis would never suspect.

Could never suspect. His own prejudices about the Force ensured Plagueis wouldn't believe such a thing was possible.

Tenebrous created a retrovirus that could infect midi-chlorians.

Midi-chlorians were, after all, merely symbiotic organelles that contribute to the organic processes of the living cells they inhabit. Due to their role in Force interactions, altering them was singularly challenging - they had an unsettling tendency to spontaneously express unexpected and unfortunate side effects - but by applying the full analytic prowess of his vast Bith brain and the preternatural power of his Bith senses to detect and resolve sub-microscopic structure, he eventually succeeded in creating a retrovirus that would transform normal midi-chlorians into long-lived maxi-chlorians.

But that was only the beginning.

With the patient, painstaking attention to the slightest, most insignificant detail that was his hallmark, Tenebrous had encoded his custom retrovirus with his most potent weapon: his own consciousness.

Once completed, Tenebrous had released the virus into his own bloodstream. It had spread throughout his body, infecting midi-chlorians in every one of his cells with gratifying alacrity. Not all his midi-chlorians, though, as the infected maxi-chlorians no longer fully functioned; to infect them all would have cut off his own connection to the Force. A partial severance of this connection was a necessary sacrifice, however, and through an extended process of trial and error, he was able to fine-tune the effect and confine it to the one sector of his Force powers he no longer needed - his ability to sense the motion of the future.

Of what possible use was the ability to see a future he already knew?

The Tenebrous Way

At this point I find it very unrealistic to suggest that Tenebrous would not be capable of one-shotting his Master. The former already considered the latter a troglodyte before going on to quintuple in power in the decades leading up to his prime. The evidence is there, and it's just very obvious to me. Tenebrous one-shots his Master, who could probably one-shot Gravid honestly, who in turn would one-shot Bane.

Darth Plagueis

Tenebrous disposed of his mortal shell when he entered his maxi-chlorians, existing only as an intangible consciousness afterwards. As a side-effect he found his connection to the Force to have increased to levels "more intimate than he had ever believed possible," and that his power had "multiplied":

Now, dead at last, he could begin to enjoy the fruits of his lifelong labor. In the Force, he could feel that his body had already suffered irreversible brain-death, yet his consciousness remained, fully aware, fully functional, and connected to the Force in a manner more intimate than he had ever believed possible. Freed now of the crude biological processes that mark the passage of time, Tenebrous found he could perceive the measured tick of each individual nanosecond while simultaneously comprehending the entire sweep of galactic eons.

[...]

With all his multiplied power, he yanked his maxi-chlorians back out from Plagueis' body in a spray of Force energy from his eyes, his mouth, the wound and every other cell.

The Tenebrous Way

The reason I do not believe this is Tenebrous' combative prime is because I see no evidence he could have sustained his spirit without an earthly tether to attach it to (the only Sith to have pulled this off was Emperor Palpatine, the strongest of them all), and most likely he would always end up trapped in a time loop since he was bound to his maxi-chlorians, so I don't think his spirit state could be used in a versus scenario. It does, however, open a new door for Plagueis, who as per Banite scaling grew more powerful than Tenebrous had. And seeing as Tenebrous' spirit is still Tenebrous, I see no reason not to take his incorporeal power levels into account when gauging Plagueis. By all accounts, they should elevate Plagueis to far greater heights than physical Tenebrous was capable of - Plagueis' power is literally Tenebrous' power "multiplied" to a grander level than Tenebrous "had ever believed possible." He might not one-shot Tenebrous, but the gap is very vast nonetheless. He definitely one-shots Tenebrous' Master, though, who in turn one-shots Gravid, who one-shots Bane.

Closing Words

I could have done a subsection explaining Sidious too, but he has a vast abundance of material beyond any other Banite covering his growth, so it would needlessly extend this blog when the point is clear enough as it is. Not to mention he doesn't really need Banite scaling to be universally respected, wanked, and loved; his own feats do that for him, and while that is true for some of the others here too, Sidious is the most self-sufficient of the bunch by a countrymile.

But regardless, I feel like I have done my duty here. The Banite gap is ginormous, and the benefits granted by the scaling equally so. There's little denying it. The Banites are supreme.

May the darkness of Sheev be with you!
May the darkness of Sheev be with you!

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