“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”
As long as there have been taxes and illegal goods, there have been smugglers. Anyone who illegally moves goods in order to avoid taxes and/or regulations can be called a smuggler. Within the Star Wars universe however, the smuggler has become much more. They are part hot rod mechanic, part lady killer, part brash risk-taker, part crack-shot, and part ace pilot. They are lucky and street-smart, armed with quick wits, a blaster or two, and a silver tongue.
The smuggler’s livelihood is derived from being able to outrun and outmaneuver anyone and everyone. As such, smugglers are some of the best pilots in the galaxy. Their ships are highly modified to be the fastest and toughest around.
Smugglers by definition must operate outside of normal society. They need to be self-reliant, smart, and capable. The danger inherent in smuggling means that they also need to be willing to take extreme risks. In addition to danger from law enforcement, smugglers make attractive targets for pirates, given that they can call for help only from other outlaws. It is a very dangerous profession, and one that requires immense skill and almost supernatural luck. And a little talent with a blaster never hurt.
In SWTOR, the Smuggler is a Republic class which can fill a number of roles: they can be a stealthy, close-range damage dealer; they can be a long-range, cover-using, human barrage of blaster bolts; they can be a master of explosives and AOE damage; they can even be a medic, channeling their knowledge underworld medicine to support their comrades. They are subdivided into the Gunslinger and Scoundrel advanced classes, and further divided by skill trees to fill the above-mentioned roles.
There are many smugglers in the extended universe, but Han Solo is the one we are most familiar with and is definitely one of the primary influences on the Smuggler class in SWTOR. In their preview of the class, mmorpg.com describes the Smuggler storyline as feeling like it was ripped from Han Solo’s biography.” Being the most well-known and popular smuggler in the lore, I think it “is safe to say that the Smuggler’s storyline is drawn largely from Han, but the class story will likely expand to include aspects of many other known characters while also adding wholly new material to the smuggler archetype. Bioware is known for their skill with storytelling, and all reports so far have been good.
One of the challenges for Bioware is making the Smuggler fit in with the Republic. It seems counter-intuitive for a smuggler to be associated with any government, favoring instead whoever offers the most credits. There are however several reasons why the Republic is better suited to a smuggler’s lifestyle than is the Sith Empire.
First, while smugglers by definition operate outside of the law, under the Republic they tangled more frequently with the law enforcement of individual star systems than with the greater Republic. The Sith Empire’s totalitarian governing methods impose much stricter control, making the smuggler’s job that much more difficult. The Republic is not perfect for the smuggler, but it certainly suits them better than the Sith Empire.
There is also reason for the Republic to have a certain affection for these clandestine traders: the breaking of the blockade of the Hydian Way. In an Empire-orchestrated attack, the Hydian Way was blockaded by the Mandalorian warrior clans united under Mandalore the Lesser. This blockade choked the Republic of both civilian and military goods, effectively stymieing their war efforts. However, Hylo Visz and a fleet of smugglers she assembled saw an opportunity for profit and, with some assistance from the Republic Navy, broke the blockade, reinvigorating the Republic and providing them with much-needed supplies. She may have only been pursuing the jackpot of credits she saw in the situation, but the Republic deemed her a hero nonetheless.
Smugglers are a diverse and exciting class. There is a well-defined smuggler archetype to draw from and build upon, and it promises to provide an engaging and unique story. I, for one, can’t wait.
If you are interested in more information about the class, head on over to the official SWTOR Smuggler class page and be on the lookout for more Smuggler-related articles coming to Force Junkies soon.