Some ‘Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic’ Characters Came From James Ohlen’s Tabletop RPG Days

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is one of the most popular video game series in the world, a franchise that is enduringly popular with Star Wars fans around the world. Based on the world created by George Lucas, the original Star Wars mastermind, Knights of the Old Republic, known in the fanbase as KotOR, is an RPG series under the umbrella of LucasArts Entertainment.

Over the years, many artists and creators have put their own personal touches on the legacy of KotOR, including James Ohlen, the lead designer on the game. A 2019 book dived deep into the history of the game, revealing just how Ohlen created some of the greatest characters in the history of Star Wars

Who are the primary characters in ‘Knights of the Old Republic?

Fans wave Star Wars lightsabers
Fans wave Star Wars lightsabers | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for MTV

Knights of the Old Republic is best known as the video game franchise that helped to introduce the idea of different classes of Jedi Knights. Formerly, fans primarily knew of Jedi and Sith, the two branches of the Force, and the orders that represented the light and the dark. KotOR introduced the idea of the Gray Jedi, Force users who tend to follow their own path, not ascribing to either the dark or the light.

Fans also met Revan, a Sith Lord who is assigned a new identity as a member of the Republic army. Cursed with a mysterious past, Revan tends to follow the light side but has become known to many fans as a Gray Jedi, due to his tendency to trust his own inclinations, rather than the whims of any one order. Another key character in KotOR is Bastila Shan, a Jedi who defeats Revan only to later align herself with him. Over the years, the dynamic between Revan and Bastila Shan has become two of the most brilliant and beloved characters in Star Wars, with legions of fans writing fanfiction and creating elaborate storylines for the characters. 

James Ohlen based some characters from ‘Knights of the Old Republic’ on his RPG days

The nuance and level of depth to the characters in Knights of the Old Republic have helped them to become an enduring part of the Star Wars universe. As it turns out, lead game designer James Ohlen turned to interesting sources when taking inspiration for characters like Bastila Shan and Revan. According to a 2019 book, Ohlen based some of the game’s core characters on ones that he had created for a tabletop RPG that he ran with his friends: “I’d done that with the Baldur’s Gate series, too, because it takes a long time to create characters sometimes.”

Revan was built into the game from the start, with his hidden history added to many story elements throughout the game, but some other characters, like HK-47, evolved naturally as development went on. 

Have the ‘Knights of the Old Republic’ characters appeared in other ‘Star Wars’ properties?


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Knights of the Old Republic became bigger than any other video game in Star Wars history, and in the years since it was first released, characters like Revan and Bastila Shan have become an important part of the larger Star Wars universe. They have been written into multiple comic books and novels — and with rumors that a brand-new series is in development for Disney+ that could feature many of KotOR’s fan-favorite characters, there might be even more opportunities to catch the iconic video game characters in the coming years. Stay tuned to Showbiz Cheat Sheet for all the latest entertainment news!