The Force, along with the powers it gives, has always been a key part in the Star Wars Universe. Through the Force, people can jump unnatural distances, see things before they happen and shoot Force Lightening from their hands. A gifted Force-user can influence or control the minds of one or many people. Wielders of its power can heal or destroy, comfort or torment. So it is no surprise then that the Force plays a huge roll in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Here’s my guide to Force Alignment in SWTOR and how to influence how Light- or Dark Side you are. I have also given some space to discussing why non-Force users have an alignment score.
Here is a list of specific sections and questions – simply click/tap the link below!
- What is Force Alignment?
- How Do You Influence It?
- Story Affected by Alignment and Decisions
- Dark Side Corruption
- How to Keep Neutral Alignment
- SWTOR Titles Based on Force Alignment
- Alignment Restricted Gear
- Why do Non-Force Characters have Force Alignment?
In its simplest form, Force alignment is a measure of how close you are to the Darkest and Lightest extremes of the Force. Everyone in SWTOR’s galaxy will be somewhere on that scale, which includes Non-Forcies. From the moment your character begins their adventures in SWTOR, your alignment will be affected by everything you do.
Although you can decide your “Force focus“, with the Dark/Light Switch, all characters start at Neutral. So it doesn’t matter how evil your wanna-be Sith Lord looks, or how angelic your white-robed Jedi is, you start neutral! The rest is in your control.
To see where your character is on the Light to Dark scale, pull up the character panel (Default: C key). To the left of your avatar in that window, you can see a curved bar showing bright blue at the top, to dark red at the bottom. Hover over this to see your current score.
How Does SWTOR Calculate Your Score?
Your total alignment score is simply calculated as: Light Side Points minus Dark Side Points.
A positive number means you’re leaning towards the Light Side, with a negative number indicated Dark Side tendences. This is consistent with turning someone to the Dark Side being referred to as ‘falling’.
There are three ways you can influnce your Force Alignment in SWTOR:
- The Dark/Light switch in your UI
- Decisions made in story cutscenes
- Companion Crew Skills Missions
The reason I said above that your alignment is affected from the start is due to the Dark/Light switch. Years ago we did not have this switch, so alignment was only affected by conversation choices. However that changed after a special Dark vs Light Event, which led to the switch.
The Dark/Light switch has three effects:
- Every enemy you defeat will contribute points towards the side of the Force selected.
- Every time you complete a mission, your alignment is adjusted. This is based on which side is activated on the switch at the time you accept mission rewards.
- Whenever your companions return from a Crew Skills Mission, you’ll see your score being changed.
So, when you create a new character, you need to decide what the general alignment of your character is. By default your Republic characters start as Light-focussed and Empire characters begin as Dark-focussed. Both will start as having no alignment (i.e. neutral).
It has always been true that certain choices you make in cutscenes affect your alignment. Do you kill the Tython Flesh Raider who wants to become a Jedi, or do you send him to the Temple for training? Should you tell the Imperial Guard on Korriban his son died bravely in the ruins, or that his life was a miserable flop? Are you a kill-all-the-things Bounty Hunter, or do you freeze some in carbonite?
There are Often Neutral Choices
Not all responses or decisions have a Light or Dark option. Some may have one and not the other, or have no effect whatsoever. Not every decision in our offline lives have moral implications, after all (called ‘amoral’ decisions).
Alignment Changes Vary
Depending on how ‘good’ or evil’ your choices, you could be awarded 50 to 150 alignment point in your chosen focus. You can see which options impact your alignment when you hover over conversation choices.
Show or Hide Alignment Gain Options
You have two options to decide how much information you can see in conversations:
- Showing or hiding alignment gain on mouseover and
- Displaying or hiding alignment gain next to conversation choices
Here are the screenshots to help you find these options:
Sending your companions out on gathering missions will also have an effect on your Force Alignment.
You’ll need to read the mission text and work out if the mission appears to be a ‘good’ or ‘evil’ approach.
The story-writing in SWTOR, especially in the class stories, is so good that you can affect your future story by present choices. I’ll try to explain some options without spoiling them for any newer players that may be reading this:
- If you save the lives of some enemies in the Jedi Knight story, they may turn up again later.
- The Agent story is way too complicated to explain! But the end of the class arc is impacted by both the choices and the alignment at certain points. In fact, certain decisions even in Chapter 1 have repercussions into Chapter 2.
- Although you don’t get them as wearable titles, the Dark Council grants the Sith Inquisitor a title based on their alignment at the end of the class arc: Darth Imperius, Darth Occlus and Darth Nox. If memory serves, I believe you are referred to by this title when you begin Rise of the Hutt Cartel.
- Satele Shan has some interesting comments at the end of the Jedi Knight and Consular stories that depend on whether you’re Light, Neutral or Dark.
So that’s a flavour of things. Once you get out of your class arc and into Knights of the Fallen Empire and beyond, you literally save or destroy people’s lives with your decisions. So Force Alignment is not a cosmetic preference, with it you impact your character, story and those NPCs around you too.
If you choose to take your character down the path of the Dark Side, it affects your eyes and skin. While this is barely noticeable at Dark I, the further down the Dark Side gauge you are, the greater effect it has.
- Your skin (or fur) becomes paler and and etched with lines.
- Your eyes gradually become redder
It is optional whether you want to show this corruption to yourself and other players, however. If you think about it, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine did not become more Dark Side after his duel with Mace Windu. He simply had no reason to hide it any more.
As of Update 6.0, the option to find Dark Side Corruption was moved slightly.
- Click the ‘Appearance Options’ button. This is above your avatar in the Character Panel, next to the outfit numbers.
- A panel then appears at the bottom where you can toggle Dark Side Corruption on or off.
If you want your character to be Force-Balanced, Grey or Neutral, you need to think a bit more about that. Because the Light/Dark switch is constantly updating your alignment will every kill, you need extra awareness. I have a separate blog post about Neutral Alignment in SWTOR, but a few points are relevant here.
Don’t Change Your Decisions (Maybe)
Whether you’ve chosen your Sith or Jedi to be ‘Grey’, or you want your non-Forcie to not have an alignment, then it could affect your decisions. However, SWTOR is an RPG. So I suggest you continue to answer questions in conversations based on what your character stands for.
Use the Switch… a Lot
The range for Neutral alignment is really restrictive: from -3000 to +3000. So you will need to keep an eye on your alignment bar on the character panel and periodically switch the focus to remain within this range. But it is do-able.
As you progress towards the Light or Dark, you will be granted titles at each ‘level’. As your alignment fluctuates between ranks, you will only have the appropriate title available.
- Light V: The Pure
- Light IV: The Benevolent
- Light III: The Honorable
- Light II: The Upstanding
- Light I: The Respectable
- Dark I: The Vicious
- Dark II: The Sinister
- Dark III: The Destructive
- Dark IV: The Loathsome
- Dark V: The Malevolent
There is no title for being Neutral Aligned, probably else everyone would start with a title that may not, ultimately, be relevant for them!
Free-to-Play (F2P) players will need to purchase (either with money or with Free Cartel Coins from a Security Key): Display Character Titles. This costs:
- 50 Cartel Coins for one character
- 200 Cartel Coins for all your character on your account.
You can only equip some weapons and armour if you hit certain alignment criteria. A specific piece of gear may require just being Light 1 or Dark 1, or a specific level of Darkness or Lightness. You may find such items dropping as loot, or on GTN. But there are two other main sources, which I discuss below.
The key to understanding if you can equip an alignment-restricted piece of gear is the item’s tooltip:
An effect of the Dark/Light switch we have not discussed is this: when you earn Dark Side or Light Side points, they contribute to the (im)balance of the Force in the Galaxy. You are not impacted by this until you begin to use the Galactic Command system at Level 70. Your character will earn Dark and Light Side tokens, based on which side of the Force is stronger when you increase your Command Rank. These can be traded at the Galactic Command Token vendors on Imperial and Republic Fleet.
Interestingly you can however, make outfits using these components. If your character then becomes ineligible to equip it, you may still use the outfit.
There are specific Dark and Light Side vendors on fleet, offering gear and other rewards to players of various levels. If you equip a piece, however, and then your alignment no longer meets the criteria, that item will unequip itself.
As of Update 6.0 the these vendors appear next to their DvL Token Vendors on fleet.
While not everyone in the Galaxy is Force Sensitive, playable characters are far outweighed in SWTOR by NPCs. Granted some of these are Force Users, but there are NPCs you don’t interact with – Republic and Imperial Soldiers, Politicians, general citizens etc. So maybe, having a rating acknowledges that playable characters are ‘special’. People in the Star Wars universe may be Force Sensitive, but are never discovered, or are found ‘too late’ to begin training. Maybe they never had the inclination. For example, Imperial Agent companion Raina Temple is Force Sensitive.
However, she has to hide it in case she is killed by the Sith, or escorted to Korriban for training. So it is possible your non-Force using characters are Force Sensitive.
A far more likely, though albeit more boring, explanation is that ‘Force alignment’ for non-Jedi/Sith is simply a ‘moral compass’. It does not take religion (e.g. Jedi or Sith) for people to perform great acts of goodness, or terribly evil ones.
So, as your character progresses through their life, ‘Light Side’ and ‘Dark Side’ are simply gauges of how good, or evil they are. Naturally what is ‘good’ or ‘evil’ depend on certain points of view.
In all likelihood, because MMOs have to bend the rules slightly to make a game appealing and unbiased, equality of opportunity was the reason. Gear, achievements and titles can depend on certain levels of Force Alignment. So it would be unfair on players to be locked out of certain rewards, simply because they didn’t want to roll a Sith or a Jedi. If this was the only reason, you’ll have to reconcile what ‘Force Alignment’ means to your character.
In my tweet announcing that this post had been published, another Twitter user made a very valid point. The Force affects all living things.
The Force touches all living beings in the Galaxy. Everyone, and everything, is part of it, and influenced by it, even those not strong enough in the Force to actually feel it.— Jim (@JamesFHJ) September 5, 2019
This is consistent with Star Wars lore.
Obi-Wan tells Luke Skywalker that the Force is
…an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together
I’m not sure that this is enough to justify a non-Force User having a Force Alignment per se. But it could be an indication of how much your actions and decision affect to balance, or imbalance the Force. Which is a solid enough reason on its own.
TL;DR Understanding Force Alignment in SWTOR
Whether you’re a believer in the Force or not, its references in SWTOR are unavoidable. With the tools given to you in-game you can impact your character’s Force Alignment; whether that’s to Light, Dark, or Neutral. SWTOR have done a great job in writing stories that change depending on your choices. Force Alignment – or morality – is not simply an identity, it affects the world around you. Enjoy the choices, complexities – and the risks and rewards of those!
May the Force Be With You – Or Not!
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