Overrated Sith Lords - Vitiate

Vitiate, the Sith Emperor of the TOR timeframe, is an influential character on the TOR multimedia project and thus attracts extensive attention. His further marketing through the timeline videos and The Old Republic: Revan made him more famed, especially the latter product, which gave him his backstory, but more importantly (to the battles forum) established a number of feats that many people have been using and, for the most part, overexaggerating or blowing out of proportion on some level. The Revan novel was not necessarily a good product, but it was attractive to many people due to the popularity of the titular character, Revan, which automatically promoted the novel. As a result, many people bought the product and became exposed to Vitiate as a character. His showings, from the novel, from implications in the timeline videos, and from the MMORPG video game The Old Republic itself, the initial source of the entire multimedia project, have been repeatedly used to suggest he is one of, or the, most powerful Sith Lord/Force user in history. While the former proposition may, but not conclusively, have merit, the latter proposition is completely false. I may make a blog to address the most powerful Sith Lord later, but the more pressing issue at the moment is Vitiate himself - the character, and how his feats are heavily misconceived by the majority of users on these (and other) forums, leading to misconstructions which can be found in almost every thread pertaining to the character.

At an initial glance, the nature of Vitiate's feats occur on a vast scale (I am referencing planetary scales), or within the parameters of his young age, or are simply seemingly impressive (perhaps built off a chain of other misconstrued concepts). The reality, however, is that the vast majority of his feats occurred within favorable circumstances. The obvious retort would be - he's a Sith, and like all other Sith, he would play within the most favorable circumstances for himself. However, this is not the same breed of "favorable circumstances" I am referring to. What I am referring to, is amplifying circumstances. Nearly all of Vitiate's feats occur while he is amped, or supported by multiple other Force users, or both. A large number of feats are also accomplished with prep. Few of his feats are accomplished by virtue of his own power (I will address these feats last of all).

And for the record, since this tidbit of information doesn't belong anywhere else, Vitiate is not even a lightsaber user. All of his feats are Force-related, and he has not only no feats with a lightsaber, but doesn't even wield one. In the Revan novel, he picks up Revan's lightsaber but doesn't really appear to know how to use it. In the TOR game, it appears he finally utilizes a lightsaber, although this is never shown in a cutscene and therefore is only game mechanics. His illusions did utilize a lightsaber, but they are just that - illusions. To be fair, you could argue they were duplicates of him, but even then, he is not a notable lightsaber wielder by any stretch of the imagination. No feats, no accolades, and logically, he is not a warrior.

Returning back to the main issue of Vitiate's manner of feats, a strong majority of these are accomplished through prep, support from multiple other Force users, or while he is simply amped. First addressing the ritual on Nathema, which is often brought up because it seems very impressive and even eclipses Nihilus's Draining of Katarr, the ritual was under extensive preparation and not done under his own power. there were no amps to speak of, but there was prep and also over 8,000 other Sith Lords supporting him. Now, somebody who has read The Old Republic: Revan may be quick to point out the Nyriss claimed it was only a hundred Sith Lords, not 8,000, but more recent sources claimed that it was eight thousand Sith. Not only that, but Nyriss herself only lived more than a millennium later, so she would not have the most reliable account. On the other hand, objective sources from a third-person perspective have suggested it was eight thousand Sith Lords, and those sources, covering the events as though through an omniscient perspective, would be more reliable. It is also revealed this ritual took place over the events of ten days - more than a week.

Lord Vitiate takes command of the Sith Empire, now in shambles following the Great Hyperspace War. He executes the Sith Council and consumes the life force of thousands of Sith Lords in a terrifying ritual that extends his life and vastly increases his capacity as a practitioner of the Force.

Source: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia

Eight thousand Sith Lords gathered on Medriaas and agreed to partake in a ritual that would bind the Sith together as an ultimate dark side weapon.

The ritual lasted ten days. Lord Vitiate orchestrated the sorcery and the planet Medriaas was consumed by the largest dark side nexus the galaxy would ever see.

Source: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia

What is known is that following the flight of Naga Sadow, the Emperor came to Korriban, gathered the remaining lords of the Sith and took them back with him to Nathema. There they conducted a ritual that extended the Emperor’s life at the cost of the lives of more than eight thousand Sith Lords.

Source: The Old Republic: Codex Entry 31: Galactic History: The Ritual of Nathema

So the ritual is not indicative of Vitiate's own power, and he cannot accomplish it within his own power, and it cannot be used as a suitable argument in the battles forum. Knowing this ritual is an impressive feat of esoteric dark side knowledge, but it is frustrating to see this being used as an argument for Vitiate's power. He required more than eight thousand Sith Lords to support himself in a ritual that took ten days, and then, at last, did he perform the ritual. It is not a showing of his power by any stretch of the imagination.

The next feat which is not noted nearly as often but I occasionally hear it being mentioned - the rituals that Vitiate used, the catalyst for the raging thunderstorms on Dromund Kaas. However, this, too, is not applicable in combat. We know it was some level of ritual - probably not the extent of the Nathema ritual - but still, not indicative of his power and not applicable in a battles forum situation. In fact, this showing was not just one ritual, but multiple rituals:

He is said to have conducted many dark side rituals and experiments that affected the planet itself, leaving Dromund Kaas storm-wracked to this day.

Source: The Old Republic: Codex Entry 33: Galactic History: Dromund Kaas

There is one last ritual also used as an argument for Vitiate, which is the one from TOR in which he would have consumed the galaxy, conquered death, etc. However, this, as an argument, is the worst one that could be made for Vitiate. This ritual required incredibly preparation and circumstances - it was not ten days worth of preparation, but centuries worth of preparation, as Lord Scourge reveals in The Old Republic (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFd4aoTQt_Y):

"The Emperor has manipulated events for centuries towards one goal: performing an even greater ritual that will destroy this galaxy. But the ritual requires a great sacrifice to begin: billions of simultaneous deaths."

Source: The Old Republic

As can be seen, the ritual required centuries of preparation, as well the initial starter of billions of simultaneous deaths. This will not be afforded to him in a typical battles forum fight, so why people bring this up as an argument is beyond me. Moreover, when the Emperor failed this ritual and his plans were foiled by the Jedi Knight protagonist, the Emperor was literally weakened from that sheer effort of even attempting, and the ritual never succeeded at all anyways because the billions of simultaneous deaths never occurred. This, too, is revealed by Lord Scourge as the player nears the end of Act III (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oH2mGY0Azk0):

"Don't be foolish. We have surprised the Emperor, but he will recover quickly. We cannot grant him time to gather his power."

Source: The Old Republic

The Jedi Knight protagonist (The Hero of Tython) also notes the same thing:

"His efforts against us have weakened him. Our enemy is vulnerable."

Source: The Old Republic

So again, the ritual is a good showing of esoteric dark side knowledge, but that's it. It is, once again, not indicative of his power level, or his potential power, or anything of that manner.

However, it is not only the ritual feats of the Emperor that are misconceived. A number of his feats in general just operate while he is amped. All of his feats in The Old Republic: Revan take place on Dromund Kaas, a planet saturated with a dark side aura:

The powerful electrical storms were a physical manifestation of the dark side power that engulfed the entire planet - a power that had brought the Sith back here a millennium before, when their very survival had been in doubt.

Source: The Old Republic: Revan

In the TOR game itself, at the end of the Jedi Knight's Act III in his finale battle against the Emperor, the fight also takes place on Dromund Kaas. The Emperor has a feat which he never demonstrated before: forming Illusions that were duplicates of himself, which is a decent feat. In any advent, people would be quick to note that, as I said earlier, Vitiate was weakened by his failed attempts at the aforementioned ritual, however, this does not mean Vitiate was actually weakened during the fight. Again, the fight takes place on Dromund Kaas, so Vitiate would be automatically amped. Not only that, but this also takes place within the Dark Temple, another prodigious dark side nexus:

Hundreds of years ago, the Sith Emperor ordered the construction of the Dark Temple as a burial place for his dead and defeated enemies, "to aid them in becoming one with the Force." Little is known of what rituals the Emperor performed there, but the Dark Temple has become a nexus of powerful dark side energy, and a place where ancient weapons and ancient secrets of the Sith lay sealed away in cavernous chambers.

Although the Dark Temple grounds have always been a dangerous place for the weak-willed (the expansion of the Kaas City power grid into tunnels beneath the temple drove a thousand slaves mad), the temple itself remained sealed until recently, when an expedition of power-hungry Sith Lords and their servants breached the gateway.

Source: The Old Republic: Codex Entry: The Dark Temple

As can be seen, the Dark Temple is still an incredibly potent nexus in of itself, capable of driving a thousand slaves mad. So while Vitiate was significantly weakened by his ritual failure, he was also significantly amped by being on Dromund Kaas, and by being in the Dark Temple, a miasma of energies prodigious enough to incite insanity in a huge congregation of slaves. Ultimately, this would probably cancel out, so Vitiate would have been neither amped nor weakened, making this one of the few "neutral" feats he accomplished. Casually producing three illusions of himself, pushing back the Hero of Tython, and, while mortally wounded, collapsing a portion of the Dark Temple are good feats for him, especially considering the lack of amplifications he had at this point.

With respects to a few of his other feats, Vitiate's TP is often mentioned. His feats are impressive with it, but his Mind Control is confirmed by Drew Karpyshyn to be only the product of prep, meaning that without preparation, he cannot accomplish these. In an email to another user on this site (who then scanned the email), Karpyshyn indicated that he could only accomplish these provided he had the time to focus and prepare beforehand:

No Caption Provided

Now, Karpyshyn also said that his answer was non-official/non-canon, but then, it would be unwise and an appeal to ignorance to ignore this without referencing an example where he didn't have prep. Against Revan and Malak, they were already falling to the dark side, and it is heavily implied the Emperor prepared this anyways because they were revealed to be walking into a trap, which indicates that Vitiate planned this. That said, they eventually broke out of his influence anyways. He failed against Revan in the novel, as well, when he was surprise attacked and had no preparation beforehand. He did it to the Jedi strike team in TOR, but he may had prep, and they were all already defeated anyways, so that is not translatable to Vitiate actually winning a fight with TP in the battles forum. Regarding him possessing one of his Children across the galaxy, he seems to only be able to influence one at a time, and even then, this is the result of him having already established prior connections through some unidentified amount of prep:

Infants of every species across the galaxy were secretly visited by the Hand and brought before the Emperor, where he sunk his insidious barbs into their malleable minds.

Source: The Old Republic Encyclopedia

So that disproves the notion of his TP being an instant win as well.

Now, since I spent the entire blog disproving misconceptions about the Emperor and undermining a vast majority of his feats, I do want to credit him for what he has actually done. He should still probably be within the top 10 Sith Lords, but where he fits is still debatable, for me (probably between Vader and Tyranus, or above Vader but below Tenebrous). As a note for his actual feats, as a child, he stripped a Sith Lord of his power and his mind, and slowly killed his mother, as well as snapping his adoptive father's neck. By thirteen, Marka Ragnos was capable of recognizing his power and potential, and again, in TOR, he produced Illusions and hurled the Hero of Tython backward, as well as collapsing a portion the Dark Temple (since the temple itself seems to remain intact after you see the Hero of Tython leave). In terms of esoteric knowledge, he has utilized a number of abilities which would make him an extremely knowledgeable practitioner of the dark side, especially in regards to sorcery on the account of him knowing a variety of rituals. There is also an accolade which proclaims him the most powerful Dark sider up to and of his time:

The Sith Emperor, history's most powerful dark side master, performed a ritual of incredible scope to consume the life energy of every being on his homeworld.

Source: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia

However, Vitiate is not the most powerful dark sider of all of history, since the encyclopedia uses an in-universe perspective and only describes events up to and of TOR's timeline, meaning it doesn't go not beyond that timeframe. Therefore, there is certainly the room for others to be more powerful.