Everything You Wanted To Know About Chewbacca But Were Afraid To Ask

Taken from The Star Wars Encyclopedia, by Steven J. Sansweet, Ballantine Books, 1998

 

Who Is Chewbacca?

Loyal even at great personal risk, strong as a gladiator, and as savvy as the brightest Academy graduate, the two-meter-plus tall Wookiee is a true hero of the Rebellion as well as a good friend of its leaders.
 
 Born on the tree-filled planet of Kashyyyk, the more than two-centuries-old Chewbacca has seen life as a slave, a smuggler, and a top-notch pilot and mechanic. Through it all, he has remained the true conscience of those around him. That doesn't make him a pacifist. He can tear the limbs off of most creatures barehanded. His weapon of choice is a bowcaster, a handcrafted crossbowlike weapon that shoots explosive packets of energy. A bandolier slung from Chewbacca's left shoulder contains enough extra firepower to take on a squad of stormtroopers. But sometimes his terrifying growls and roars- the basis of the Wookiee language- mask his fear, especially of the unknown.
 
 Chewie, as he's known to his friends, left Kashyyyk at the age of fifty standard years to explore the galaxy. Things seemed to go fine for the next 140 years, until he was captured by slavers and sold to Imperial forces. Unbeknownst to him, his planet had been subjugated years before. Severely mistreated at a hard-labor camp, Chewbacca was saved from certain death by a young Han Solo. Saving Chewbacca's life resulted in a "life debt" from the Wookiee, and Chewbacca became first the protector and then the best friend of the Corellian. He served with Solo as he embarked on a smuggling career, aided by the swift Millennium Falcon, which Solo won in a game of sabacc.
 
 At one point, Chewbacca revisited his homeworld and married a female Wookiee named Mallatobuck, who had been looking after his father. Malla later gave birth to their son, Lumpawarrump, or Lumpy for short. 
 
On one spice-smuggling run, for which they had been hired by crime lord Jabba the Hutt, Solo and Chewbacca had to dump their cargo before being boarded by Imperials. They had to face the music- and Jabba- back on Tatooine. But before visiting Jabba the Hutt's palace, they encountered the somewhat odd Ben Kenobi in the Mos Eisley cantina. He had a job for them that promised a payment big enough to calm Jabba; all that was required was transporting two humans and two droids to Alderaan. Little did the smugglers know but the chance encounter was to change their lives. Within a short time, the partners had helped rescue a princess, blown up the Empire's top-secret battle station, and been declared heroes by the Rebel Alliance. 
 
That was just the start of many adventures and missions for the Wookiee, who became close to Luke Skywalker and to Princess Leia; in fact, after she and Solo married, he helped guard and raise their three children. Chewbacca also helped put a quick end to the return of slavers to Kashyyyk, aided in a truce with Imperials at Bakura, and took part in many rescue missions after his friends had gotten into trouble. He and Solo had a close call themselves after being imprisoned to work at the spice mines on Kessel. 
 
When Chewbacca found out that his honor brother, Han Solo, had been taken hostage by the Yevetha, he disobeyed Princess Leia's orders to go to Coruscant and instead headed directly for the Koornacht Cluster, where Han was being held. With the help of his cousins Jowdrrl, Dryanta, and Shoran, and his son, Lumpawarrump, he rescued Han from the Yevethan ship Pride of Yevetha. 
 
Some two decades after he first met Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca helped him by bringing him a new student for his Jedi academy, his nineteen-year-old nephew Lowbaca. In recent years, Chewbacca had more time to spend with his real family, but his adopted family remained a true force in his life.
 

 [Addition: Chewbacca's death came about in the story Vector Prime, as he was saving Solo and Leia's children on the planet Serpidal.] 

 

What is Kashyyyk?

a green and brown jungle planet covered with kilometers-high wroshyr trees, it is the homeworld of the fierce but loyal Wookiees. Various ecosystems exist on each tree, with every level growing progressively more deadly the farther one travels towards the planet's surface. (Dangerous webweavers, for instance, set traps in the lower levels.) The Wookiees inhabit the highest levels in huge cities that are naturally supported by the thick tree branches, because wroshyr branches grow together when they meet. 
 
One such city, Rwookrrorro, is more than a kilometer wide and built on a flat platform of meter-thick spongy material. It features two- to three-story buildings and a landing platform made from the stump of a wide limb. The most prestigious homes are built on the trees themselves, and nursery rings for young Wookiees are built in the tops of the very highest wroshyrs. The kshyy vines that grow among the trees cannot be cut with blasters and are strong enough to support liftcars. Wookiees use imported banthas for transportation and as beasts of burden. Glowing gnatlike insects called phosfleas are lured into mesh lanterns and used as nighttime illumination. Colored searchlights found in the cities help attract native birds called kroyies, a prize food. 
 
Wookiees have easily incorporated modern technology into their society and even can accommodate visiting starships, though they sometimes prefer to opt for archaic tools like their traditional quarrel-firing bowcasters. Wookiee customs include the life debt, which obligates Wookies to repay a person who has saved their lives, and the honor family, of those people to whom a Wookie feels a particular bond of friendship. Wookiee adolescents undergo dangerous rites of passage into adulthood, including harvesting silky strands from the heart of the carnivorous syren plant.
 
 The Wookiee species was treated as slave labor by the Empire and many were forced to toil on various Imperial construction projects. Many Wookiees still resent all humans because of the actions of the Empire. Leia Organa Solo hid on Kashyyyk until discovered by a team of Noghri commandos, who made an unsuccessful attempt to capture her.
 

 Nineteen years after the Battle of Endor, a Second Imperium assault team led by the Dark Jedi Zekk and the Nightsister Tamith Kai, raided Kashyyyk to capture guidance and recognition codes for New Republic ships from a vast computer fabrication facility in one of Kashyyyk's tree cities. They used holographic disguises that made them appear to be Wookiees and got into the planet's control tower to bring down the orbital defenses. It was during this assault that TIE bombers flew in to attack the city, and before they were repelled, Zekk and his troops even persued several young Jedi Knights into the deepest levels of the forest.

 

 What is a Wookiee?

A tall, completely fur-covered species native to the planet Kashyyyk, Wookiees are widely known as ferocious opponents and loyal friends. The average Wookiee grows to more than two meters tall and lives several times the lifetime of a human. On their homeworld, Wookiees live in cities built up high in giant wroshyr trees. Although they appear to be primitive, Wookiees are comfortable with high technology. Their language consists of grunts and growls, and while they can understand other languages, their limited vocal ability makes it impossible for them to speak anything other than their own language. They also have regenerative powers that let them heal more in a day than a human would in Two weeks. 

From the early days of the Empire, Kashyyyk was placed under martial law and Wookiees were enslaved as laborers. It wasn't until after the Battle of Endor that the Alliance was able to finally set the Wookiees free. 

 

What is the Wookie Honor Family?

 A special bond of friendship that joins one Wookiee with a group of other Wookiees or even with members of other species. The honor family is made up of a Wookiee's true friends, who pledge to lay down their lives for each other and their extended families. 
 
What is the Wookiee Life Debt? 
A sacred Wookiee custom, a life debt is pledged to anyone who saves a Wookiee's life, forming a bond that can never be broken. A life debt is a sacred act of honor, designed to repay that which is without measure. 
 
What is a Wookiee Rite Of Passage? 
This test calls for an adolescent Wookiee to perform a feat that is both dangerous and difficult. The male or female Wookiee can attempt the feat alone or with friends. If successful, the Wookiee will emerge with physical proof of bravery that can be worn or carried as a trophy. 
 
What is a Wroshyr Tree? 
Giant trees of the jungle world of Kashyyyk, their separate branches meet to form one interlocked branch, which then sprouts new branches of its own. These reach out in all directions to find other branches to join with. This tendency toward unity makes wroshyr trees stronger, and is a natural symbol for the Wookiee concepts of honor and family. The wroshyr trees in the Rwookrrorro city grouping are actually a single giant plant with a unified root system.

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