Ryloth was the harsh, rocky homeworld of the Twi’leks, an Outer Rim Territories world located on the Corellian Run and forming one endpoint of the Death Wind Corridor. One side of the planet perpetually faced its sun and the other remained in darkness, a phenomenon known as tidal locking. The dayside was referred to as the Bright Lands and the night-side was known as the Nightlands. The planet was orbited by five moons, which had subtle tidal effects on the planet’s liquid core and underground springs. It had little or no surface water except for patches of water ice on the night side.
It was a planet of extremes: dry, rocky landscapes of deserts, mountain ranges with mist-covered peaks, shadowy valleys, alternated with snowy wastes, joined by lush temperate bands which concentrated much of its population. Because of its unusual day-night rotation period, atmospheric conditions on Ryloth’s surface were characterized by turbulent seasons and extremely high winds (reaching 500 kilometers per hour) scouring the surface and sculpting the landscape and unpredictable bursts of heat called heat storms, which could reach 300 degrees Celsius. The more extreme heat storms sometimes moved across the terminator and reached miles underground, making caves near the surface temporarily uninhabitable, before eventually dying out on the night side.
Along the terminator lay a thin habitable border, a twilight realm between the two extremes. Along this narrow strip were the series of caverns where some of the Twi’leks decided to build their underground cities, blockaded with thick blast doors and portcullises to keep out the vicious monsters that prowled the Bright Lands, especially lyleks.
The Floating Rock Gardens of Ryloth were a natural wonder and tourist attraction, well known throughout the Outer Rim, where strong winds blew among the tunnels, causing rocks to float gently through the air. Over the years the gardens became filled with rare and dazzling stones. Visitors were allowed to rearrange the stones to their liking, but were encouraged to seek meaning in the natural configurations.
Kala’uun was a permanent city located within the Lonely Five mountain range, boasting a large underground spaceport.
Ryloth in the Republic
Ryloth was represented in the Galactic Senate by Senators Connus Trell and Orn Free Taa, who succeeded the controversial Chom Frey Kaa. Senator Free Taa, a strong Loyalist, kept Ryloth under the Republic’s protection by supporting most of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine’s decrees, including the Military Creation Act.
The Clone Wars
During the Clone Wars, Ryloth was invaded by the Confederacy of Independent Systems and was used to house a large droid reclamation facility under the eye of Wat Tambor.
“For the Republic! For the Twi’leks!”
―Ima-Gun Di, leading his troops into battle on Ryloth
At first the Republic Garrison, under the command of Jedi General Ima-Gun Di and Clone Captain Keeli fought the droids alongside Twi’lek freedom fighters under General Cham Syndulla to protect the refugees. Unfortunately, supplies were running low and the droid army was closing in on their position.
“Let’s make the end memorable!”
―Master Di to Captain Keeli during their final stand
When a Republic fleet under Admiral Dao failed to make it past the Ryloth blockade, General Ima-Gun Di decided to sacrifice himself and his command to buy the Twi’leks time to escape. Though General Ima-Gun Di and his command perished, supplies sent from Toydaria reached the refugees. After the droids took control of Ryloth, the Twi’leks were taken captive and some were used as human shields for the droid army. The seizure was officially protested by Senator Orn Free Taa, and public opinion on Ryloth itself was bitterly divided. The battle was short, but Ryloth’s towns were left heavily damaged by droid bombers. Eventually, the planet became the site of a battle in 19 BBY during the Outer Rim Sieges.
During the reign of the Galactic Empire
The anti-alien prejudice of the Galactic Empire was clear to the inhabitants of Ryloth. Human High Culture thought little of aliens, but Ryloth shrewdly played the role of loyal servant to the Empire, while quietly and unobtrusively aiding the Rebel Alliance. These were dark times for the Twi’leks, however, as even members of the most influential clans were enslaved, losing all their property and influence to entertain and see to the needs of Imperial bureaucrats and governors.
In 5 BBY Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin established a refueling outpost on Ryloth, using Twi’lek slave labor, and recruited native Twi’lek Tol Sivron to administer the outpost now called Maw Installation.