The Rakata (also known as the Builders) were a roughly humanoid species with distinctive amphibian features. They were a scientifically advanced people that developed early in galactic history. Long term use of the dark side of the Force corrupted their society and turned them into a race of merciless warriors. The Rakata used their potent Force-powered technologies to conquer and enslave every other species they came across throughout the known Galaxy. During the reign of their Infinite Empire, they were characterized by their cruelty, savagery, and arrogance. They were known to strip entire planets of their resources, terraform worlds to fit their own shifting needs, kill entire slave workforces, and to eat and defile the bodies of slain enemies.
The Rakata's rise to power was fueled by a range of advanced devices that married the Force to high technology. The Builders were rumored to have been one of the first species to develop energy shield's and were credited with the invention of the earliest form of the interstellar hyperdrive. The Rakatan drive, however, was a severely limited device due to the fact that it relied on the Force itself to function. It was only capable of perceiving and traveling to worlds with a significant Force signature (ie. a high degree of native life). As such, the number of worlds under the Rakata's thumb was limited, though diverse and far flung.
Star map's were placed on conquered worlds as a lasting monument to the power and scope of the Infinite Empire. Like many Rakatan technologies, the Star maps were self-sustaining and capable of regeneration. Terraforming machines were also frequently used to modify a conquered world's climate, geology, flora, and fauna to meet the Builder's needs. In so doing, the Rakata transformed entire worlds and greatly influenced the development of native species. One of the Rakata's most interesting inventions was a "mental prison", a peculiar box that trapped the mind of its victim. The only way for a prisoner to escape it was to take over the body of the next being to foolishly open the box. Revan very nearly suffered this fate after playing with one such device, but after winning a game of riddles with the Rakatan captive, he was released. Unfortunately, he could not figure out how to save the prisoner from bondage.
The Infinite EmpireEdit
Five thousand years before the formation of the Galactic Republic, Rakatan civilization was at its peak. Through the use of dark side fueled technologies, the Builders had formed the Infinite Empire which dominated known space for thousands of years and enslaved numerous developing species including the Duros and Humans. By transporting these slave species to new worlds, the Rakata were believed to have inadvertently seeded swaths of the galaxy with sentient life.
At its height, the Empire governed 500 worlds and its population numbered ten billion Rakatan warriors and one trillion slaves. Among its conquests were the Selkath of Manaan, Sith of Korriban, Wookiees of Kashyyyk, Kumumgah of Tatooine, Noghri of Honoghr and the natives of the Corellian Sector. The powerful, force-wielding Rakata may have even displaced the most advanced species of that time period, including the Killiks of Alderaan and the Sharu of the Rafa system, during their meteoric rise to power.
After generations of galactic supremacy, the Infinite Empire began to fracture. Constant tensions between internal factions suddenly erupted into a devastating civil war caused by the Star Forge's corrupting influence. Already weakened by warfare, the Builders were suddenly struck by a deadly plague that spread rapidly through their ranks. Later, it would be theorized that the disease was created by a slave species because it only infected the Builders themselves. The virulent plague nearly exterminated the Rakata and brought the Infinite Empire to its knees, yet the worst was yet to come.
The Rakata suddenly and inexplicably began to lose their connection to the Force. Worse, they were unable to uncover the source of their failing sensitivity. Rakatan scientists came up with numerous speculative hypotheses to explain their worsening condition, but in the end, all of their theories proved incorrect. In time, it would be revealed that a mysterious mutation in the plague had caused it to strip the Builders of their powers.
As the Force users were culled from the overall population at an ever increasing rate, the Rakata lost their ability to manipulate their own technology. Soon, they were forced to rely on inferior devices that were not dependent on the Force. Sensing weakness, slave species rebelled in large-scale insurrections on many member worlds and stemmed the total collapse of the Infinite Empire in 25,200 BBY. The nearly decimated Rakata could do nothing but abandon their conquests and retreat to the safety of their homeworld of Lehon.
The Rakata system was protected by a disruptor field that could disable any incoming ship's communications and navigational systems. The field, operated from the summit of a Temple on the surface of Lehon, was originally constructed to protect the Star Forge, but it was now used to protect the Rakata themselves.
On their homeworld, Rakatan civilization rapidly faded into obscurity and barbarism. Warlords devastated the surface of the planet with weapons of mass destruction and the majority of the Rakata were forced to flee underground. Only the descendants of the Priest Caste, the Elders tribe, remained on the surface protected by their ancient temples and enclaves. They alone would retain full knowledge of the potent technology and turbulent history of their species. In the following centuries, the Builders were purposefully erased from the records of their slave subjects and the Infinite Empire slipped from the pages of galactic history.
According to The New Essential Chronology, the Rakata were the original creators of the hyperdrive. The Corellians, Duros, and various other civilizations adopted and modified it for their own needs after the fall of the Infinite Empire. However, it is notable that the book refers to the mysterious Architects, separately from the Rakata.