By ShootingNova 13 Comments
These two members of the Sith Triumvirate are, as often perceived by the community, among the most powerful and potent of any Sith in history. However, their powers and poetic descriptions come with dubiousness.
Let's start with Darth Sion - the Lord of Pain. Sion is less overrated by the community, but the assessments of his powers and abilities are a bit exaggerated, in my opinion. Sion is most famous for his one and only feat - his extended longevity and quasi-immortality in which he uses his anger from his pain to fuel himself and sustain himself even after he has suffered tremendous wounds. Taking this to an extreme, you could consider him to be invincible - after all, he was only defeated by Dun Moch. However, this is just a no limits fallacy - let's take a look at what Sion has actually endured. The following is a security log left behind on the Harbinger:
"Checking the survivor from the Sith vessel - I'm not sure whether he's alive or dead, or what's even keeping him together. His flesh is cracked and scarred, and I'm registering several thousand fractures in his skeleton, as if each bone was repeatedly splintered over time... then put back together. Judging from the scar tissue, I believe these wounds took place before his death. If so, he must have been in constant pain. I have no idea what's been keeping him together."Source: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
So he has sustained a tremendous number of puncture/fracture wounds, but there's nothing to indicate that if his limbs or other bodily portions were torn apart and thrown about, that he could reassemble himself from that state, so he wouldn't really be truly invincible. And considering the fact that he was repeatedly "killed" or harmed to such a degree, this would only be indicative of lackluster combative traits - and indeed, Sion has no feats at all to warrant himself as any sort of significant individual. He was repeatedly bested by Meetra Surik, even in the Trayus Academy, where he would have been amped by the ambient dark side energies of Malachor V in general.
Darth Nihilus, the Lord of Hunger, is vastly more powerful than Sion, and for that matter, there was some cut content in which he literally casually incapacitated Sion with just his Force powers, which is simply further evidence of Sion's own lackluster abilities. Nihilus is more powerful, but this tends to lead him to be overrated. His power has been described numerous times - by the likes of Visas Marr, Kreia, and Colonel Tobin, and in the two respect threads that Viners have created for him, these poetic descriptions are included as well:
However, the descriptions would indicate his powers are certainly very extensive, but are rather ambiguous and very likely exaggerated. To examine his few feats, which more or less encompass everything Nihilus has in his arsenal of Force powers, we can see that he may not really be that powerful. He was able to utilize Concealment so as to prevent himself from being detected by roughly a hundred Jedi - give or take a few - and a colony of Miraluka, which is an impressive feat, and he was able to utilize Stasis/Stun on the Exile and his party, which is decent but not necessarily that impressive.
His most famous ability is his Drain - which he used along with Sion to sap Darth Traya's powers, and which he attempted to use on the Exile but failed due to the Exile's status as a Wound in the Force. However, his most famed feat is the Devastation of Katarr, in which Nihilus sucks dry all life on the entire planet:
This feat is more or less exaggerated in its description, just as Visas sings out all her hyperbolic descriptions of his power like poetry. By all means, it could be biased, especially since the writing and even the art seemed to take place from her perspective. Nihilus killing an entire world with his speech is not supported by anything except a single sourcebook entry, but even then, we have seen him speak more than once and nobody was killed from his speech. Canderous was there with Meetra and Visas when the trio challenged Nihilus aboard the Ravager, he froze them in place and spoke to them, but Canderous was not killed and did not suffer any ailing effects that Nihilus's speech is claimed to be capable of afflicting to others.
Also, there are two other things to consider, which are revealed in sources beyond KotOR II and Unseen, Unheard. Firstly, Nihilus draws power from his ship, the Ravager:
For the best results, tell her to block the flow of power Nihilus absorbs from the Ravager; this stuns him for a few seconds.Source: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: Prima Official Game Guide
Secondly, Nihilus makes use of his flagship, the Ravager, to unleash orbital bombardment on the planets he Drains, which is proven not only by the following quote, but the fact that buildings are destroyed in Unseen, Unheard, which is obviously not the result of Drain, which can only affect living beings:
In the meantime, Darth Nihilus led his Sith forces from his flagship, the Ravager, drawing more and more power from worlds that he blasted into ruin.Source: The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
These are rather interesting points. For one, Nihilus actually absorbs power from the Ravager, suggesting it's also a nexus (whether it inherited this from its protracted state of ruin on Malachor V, another nexus, is questionable, but regardless, Nihilus derives power from it) and Nihilus actually "blasts worlds into ruin" before making use of his powers. As such, it is likely that even when amplified by the power of the Ravager, Nihilus cannot simply kill all life on Katarr with "just a word", more than likely, he instead ordered orbital bombardment to destroy the surface of Katarr, and then devour the life forces of those below as they perished.
Regarding Nihilus's presence corrupting those around him, this never really happened either. He was never shown to have a corrupting aura, especially since the likes of Visas and again, Canderous, were not affected by his presence. The men on the board seemed to have withered, but then, this may have been Nihilus feeding off them for limited and temporary sustenance, which we know he needs. If they were corrupted (which, again, the chances of are somewhat dubious), then Nihilus's corruption aura would never be applicable in a fight because it would have to take an extended period of time (perhaps as long as years) for this to come into effect. His power levels are just really oscillating depending on what you believe - the reality of his inability to affect or kill defenseless characters like Canderous, or the exaggerated, hyperbolic and poetic descriptions ascribed to him by others. The unreliability of the latter is rather evident when one considers that it outright contradicts the reality in which we do not perceive that level of potency at all - so all of that is just unreliable lip-service, not factual evidence to structure an argument relating to his powers.
His telekinesis is also commonly brought up - he did Choke Visas at one point, but that is hardly worth mentioning. What is often mentioned, is his supposed resurrection and sustenance of the Ravager.
Colonel Tobin: This ship... is it his weakness? It should not exist, yet it cruises the darkness between the stars. He tore it from the mass shadows of Malachor, along with his fleet... that is a measure of his power.
Canderous: Hnh. This ship is barely holding itself together. The structural damage should have destroyed it long ago.
Colonel Tobin: He holds it together.Source: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
As a feat, this would seem to be indicative of tremendous power and potency - certainly one among the upper echelons of Force users, but then, this is an ambiguous feat that is both off-panel and apparently circumstantial. Identifying the circumstances surrounding this rather crude telekinetic feat and comparing it to his lack of successful applications of TK in other situations (which I will explain in further detail later), we can find that this is also a rather inconsistent and once again, not indicative of his standard showings.
To examine the circumstances, it should first be noted that Colonel Tobin did note that there was a potential link between Nihilus and the Ravager, which may have and probably would have had made it easier for Nihilus to accomplish this feat. Can we say conclusively that there was a link between Nihilus and his ship? No, because there is no direct or conclusive evidence. However, there are other circumstances to consider.
Malachor V is a potent nexus of Dark Side energies, as Kreia has explained:
"There is a place in the galaxy where the dark side of the Force runs strong. It is something of the Sith, but it was fueled by war. It corrupts all that walks on its surface—drowns them in the power of the dark side. It corrupts all life, and it feeds on death."Source: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
In fact, Malachor V is exactly where hundreds/thousand of Jedi and Mandalorians died and had all their life and Force energies simultaneously bled dry from them. This is synonymous with places like the Ruins of the Jedi Temple, which afforded Lord Nyax the ability to throw around capital ships and the Valley of the Jedi, which could install Force sensitivity in non-Force sensitives. You can see a very strong link in Malachor V and the Ruins of the Jedi Temple, as both were the sites of the deaths of countless Jedi. As such, there should be no reason for the strength of the Force nexus on Malachor V to not be as potent as that of the Ruins of the Jedi Temple, an ambiance of monumental potency sufficient to manipulate capital ships.
So then, under the knowledge that Malachor V would possess a Force nexus potent enough to manipulate capital ships, Nihilus's feat is simply not applicable unless he is placed in another similarly-amplifying circumstance, so in the typical battles forum fight, he would not be able to utilize this level of telekinesis.
And, for that matter, this is not just the matter of him requiring amplifications to utilize TK to this extent, but there are other traces of evidence which detract from the case of Nihilus's powers being this extensive. Again, when Canderous, Meetra and Visas fought Nihilus aboard the Ravager, Nihilus would have only been somewhat weakened by his failed Drain attempt (and we know he had already fed on some planets beforehand), but he could not outright kill them with TK. Meetra and Visas have no feats or indications to warrant that they would be able to protect themselves, but even if they did, Canderous, a completely non-Force sensitive being, should have been directly and immediately killed, but he wasn't. Nihilus's failure to utilize his supposedly capital-ship level TK to kill an indefensible being like Canderous is particularly detrimental to the cases being made about Nihilus being able to resurrect the Ravager on a whim.
There should be no difficulty in concluding that Nihilus's ability to resurrect the Ravager is not indicative of his standard power levels and cannot be accomplished within the parameters of a typical battle forum fight. His inability to successfully utilize that level of telekinesis anywhere else, and the fact that Malachor V is an extremely potent miasma of dark side energies, is particularly detracting from the case that is often made in favor of Nihilus's own telekinetic potency.
There is also something else worth discussing, which is the notion that Nihilus can be attracted by a stray thought across the galaxy, as Kreia seemed to suggest. We know Nihilus's Force Senses are advanced enough to reach across the breadth of the galaxy to some extent, but we also know that he was incapable of deciphering what the "disturbance in the Force" was, and required Visas Marr to decipher that it was in fact the Exile. Kreia telling the Exile that even a stray thought could draw Nihilus is rather hyperbolic and unreliable - as Kreia would not necessarily know this (and she did say the word "may", which detracts from the certainty of this being the case). That, and Kreia is hardly one to look for when you want to uncover how powerful a character is - her hyperbolic accounts of other characters like Revan and the Exile are telling enough to indicate that her descriptions are fly-by-night and undependable.
So honestly, Nihilus's only real combat-applicable abilities are TK (which he can use to Choke beings, but not anybody of substantial power), his Stasis, which can be used to Stun others but again, cannot be used on beings of substantial power, and his Drain, which will work but there are a number of characters who are immune to it. What often proves detrimental to Nihilus in battles is his lack of combat and speed showings, as well as his typical mindset which involves a rather slow regard for others which he deems beneath himself, and thereby dragging down his already wanting reaction speed levels even further.