- Jason Dietzel
Force organizations: Keetael
Many know of the Draethos Jedi Master Odan-Urr. He was an ancient Jedi who fought during both the Great Hyperspace War and the Great Sith War. His time with the order spanned over a millennium, during which time he established the Great Jedi Library on Ossus and profoundly impacted the teachings of the Jedi by penning its famous Code that stood for thousands of years.
However, what isn’t well known is his species has its own Force tradition, known as the Keetael. Little is known about the foundation of this Force group, but it can be assumed it grew with the Draethos species on their homeworld of Thosa (also known as Draethos) and had been established for eons prior to Odan-Urr’s induction into the Jedi Order circa 5,000 BBY.
Primarily present during the Old Republic era, the Keetael were briefly encountered during the Jedi Civil War as part of the Knights of the Old Republic campaign guide to Wizards of the Coast RPG. During the Jedi Civil War, a Zabrak Jedi known as Acaadi traveled to Draethos to learn from the Keetael. When he later became a Sith Lord, the organization felt betrayed and sent one of their own, Darok-Tho, to hunt him down before he could use their teachings to corrupt others.
Darok-Tho was able to defeat the Sith Lord but following this temporary incursion into the events of the greater galaxy, the Keetael slipped back into obscurity, their fate becoming as much a mystery as their beginnings, as the Draethos are a very isolationist and xenophobic species.
The Keetael’s philosophy mirrored their race’s cultural traditions. The Draethos, despite being a mysterious and isolationist species, were known for being superb hunters and warriors. As a result, the Keetael traditions evolved from these cultural practices. The Keetael used their connection to the Force to hone their hunter and warrior skills, learning to control their powers in small training hunts known as Ube-tel.
Ube-tel were ritual hunts that could last for weeks. Keetael masters would organize hunts of up to a dozen initiates, leading them on trails through the harsh wildernesses of Thosa. Initial hunts would help these adepts discover their inherent abilities, while the advanced hunts would focus on enhancing, controlling and efficiently utilizing their skills in the Force.
While on these hunts, initiates were also taught the history and customs of the Keetael; and once their training was complete, they were awarded a disc signifying their membership. On one side was the symbol of their order and on the other side held the signatures and symbols of the masters and initiates who helped with their training. However, it was not required for the Keetael to brandish this token of membership, and many chose to keep this allegiance secret from the larger Draethos society in order to gain an advantage over their opponents while in combat.
The Keetael acknowledged both the light side and dark side of the Force but did not adhere to either side exclusively. Instead, they used both to enhance their fighting and hunting skills, primarily focusing on honing their talents in Force Tracking. The group also focused on manipulating the Force secretly, without the need for gestures. This made it difficult for other Force-users to sense their interactions with the Force. They were also very adept at sensing the surroundings of their target, as well as directing their ranged weapons to their targets and enhancing their strikes on their opponents.
The order viewed too much alignment with either side of the Force to be detrimental to the individual and to society. Practitioners who followed the light side too closely were seen as pacifists and excommunicated from Draethos warrior society out of fear that their skills could lead to a costly defeat in battle. Members who followed the dark side too closely were viewed as threats, who put their vengeful and selfish whims before those they were sworn to defend, and thus were hunted down and destroyed before they could do any damage.
Not much is discussed about Jedi Master Odan-Urr’s early life, but it is known at some point he was exiled from the Draethos warrior society because he placed intellect and scholarship above the physical attributes of combat and the hunt. It is unclear if it was the Keetael whom exiled Odan-Urr from Thosa, but it is clear that the order did not approve of his views. And, as mentioned beforehand, the Keetael would return to obscurity in the wider galaxy following the events of the Jedi Civl War.