- Unreal: RTNP
- Unreal II
- Unreal Tournament
- Unreal Tournament 3
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- Unreal Championship 2
From Liandri Archives
The Skaarj are a powerful, imperial race with aims of subordinating or destroying all other species, under the justification that the Skaarj are naturally superior to all others.
Skaarj typically stand between seven and nine feet tall (8 feet on average) and weigh around 385 lbs.; they have reptilian scales ranging in color from dark and light green to blue or yellow. They have an overhanging forehead with glowing eyes burning underneath, short, curved tusks, and, in the case of the Warrior caste, long, braided, scaly, dreadlocks arcing off the back of their heads. Most Skaarj have thick tails, though this feature seems to become increasingly reduced the farther along the Trooper caste a Skaarj progresses.
The Skaarj have been officially described by Epic as "sophisticated savages" and references are made in-game to their apparent high level of technological development in contrast to their brutal and barbaric nature.
The Skaarj are capable of extensive space travel, and seem to be focused around a giant Mothership that houses their Queen. Their technology is noticeably superior to that of humanity. They move about the planet via Skaarj Skimmers, relatively small anti-gravity fighters that the player encounters twice throughout Unreal and RtNP, but is never able to operate. The Skaarj engage in extensive and bizzare experiments ranging from genetic manipulation to energy-based experiments, seemingly aimed at creating super-soldiers of one sort or another. A fair portion of the weapons in Unreal are of Skaarj origin, including the Minigun, Hunting Rifle, Razorjack, and to an extent the Stinger.
Architecture and symbols
The official symbol of all the Skaarj is the Razik blades (see the picture at the top). This design also inspired the main logo of Unreal. Skaarj prefer green color, as it is the usual color of their skin. Skaarj motherships have panels shaped as the Razik and the inerior of the ships are usually decorated with various accents of green color. Different clans prefer slightly different colors - the Skaarj in Unreal prefer metal gray, brown and green, while the Skaarj in Unreal Tournament 2004 prefer black and green.
The Skaarj usually build structures out of metal. They also use different forms of force fields and other energy items, although a lot less commonly. All of their motherships are usually made of metal and powered by energy from Skaarj generators. The generators are usually heavily defended and are the main, but not only sources of power. Skaarj panels are usually holographic and are capable of creating 3D holographic shapes. When Skaarj decide to build a structure on the surface of a planet, they usually design them just like the spaceships. These buildings don't contain anything organic other than the creatures inside and often plain metal is displayed. Special decorations are very rare, but if there are any, they are colored green. Their light sources, although usually white, are sometimes green as well. This is most easily seen in the map CTF-HallOfGiants, where the Skaarj have illuminated all of the area with their green lights.
There are many items that are of Skaarj origin, and they are usually colored green or have the shape of their Razik. For example, the UDamage has absolutely the same form as the Skaarj symbol. Panels and switches are often decorated with their symbol or their writing.
The Skaarj presence on Na Pali is separated into two main castes: Warriors and Troopers. Skaarj serve to protect their Queen, and presumably follow the orders of the War Lord.
Skaarj Warriors are the first caste of Skaarj the player encounters. They typically wear light armor which facilitates their brutal, agile, martial-art style fighting techniques. Their primary weapon is a device which later in the series became known as a Razik: a wrist-mounted weapon bearing, in this case, two long, jagged, retractable blades and a projectile energy blaster. Up close, Warrior caste Skaarj will stab and slice with these blades, executing either a swift one-two jabbing attack or a more dangerous spinning slash attack. At range, they will either fire energy bolts from their Razik, two at a time (since they wear a Razik on each wrist) or lunge through the air with their claws extended, ready to shred the player to bits. This attack not only does severe damage, but allows the Skaarj to suddenly be within melee range, where it can use its more deadly attacks. A Skaarj can execute several leap attacks in a row if so desired. All Skaarj are intelligent, but the two castes have different methods of dealing with incoming fire. Warriors are extremely agile and will somersault and dive to avoid incoming fire, or even to move out of the line of fire of a hitscan weapon such as the ASMD or Rifle. They will adjust their tactics depending on the weapon that is being used against them.
Skaarj Warriors come in several variations, each delivering a slightly different experience:
- Health: 180
The weakest of the Warrior caste, the Scout is a dark yellowish-green with a dull red chest. Its armor consists of dark gray greaves, anklets, a belt with a crotch plate and thigh pads, and a Razik on each wrist. Moderately aggressive and decently quick, these are good beginner Skaarj that should be used to learn the basic Skaarj patterns. Scouts, like most Skaarj, are not above running away if they become too injured.
- Health: 210
Bearing the same name as his caste, this is the most common Skaarj the player will encounter. Colored a light green with a gray chest and no apparent armor, this class is stronger than a Scout, and tends to be a little more aggressive. The absence of even the typical Razik on this class suggests that the claws and energy bolts may also be part of the Skaarj's natural physiology, a trait that is partly supported, and modified, by the Unreal Championship 2 incarnation of the Skaarj.
- Health: 320
These terrifying Skaarj stand as the tallest and largest of all standard Skaarj classes. They are similar in color to a Scout, but more pronounced, bearing a deeper red-brown chest and darker scales, as well as the same armor loadout, but the similarities effectively end there. While most Skaarj will fight with a degree of tactical care, Skaarj Berserkers will attack pretty much anything on-sight, and will close with their target as swiftly as possible. Their large size allows them to take and dish out significantly more damage than regular Skaarj, and allows them greater speed, making them extremely hard to evade. The Berserker's extreme aggressiveness can be used against it, as two Berserkers will almost automatically engage each other, which can allow the player to either slip away, wait it out and pick off the victor, or ambush the two with heavy firepower while they're distracted. Other than Berserkers, these can attack any type of enemies around, with the sole exception of Pupae, unless these ones are bothered. Berserkers are semi-rare and are usually presented as specific encounters, as opposed to regular enemies. In The Darkening, Prisoner 849 will fight a very large, blue-hued Skaarj warrior that effectively behaves like a Berserker. It appears to be a Skaarj that has undergone some kind of cryogenic treatment, and is among the strongest and most aggressive Skaarj the player will meet.
- Health: 220
A more disciplined Skaarj Warrior, Assassins are yellow in color, and wear a full-body armor suit that has a slight blueish hue. They are smarter and have faster reactions than a typical warrior. They remain fairly rare until late in the game, and can be hard to distinguish from Lords. Their armor allows them to take more damage than a typical Warrior.
- Health: 320
Like an Assassin, but larger, bolder, and darker. A Lord's armor loses the Assassin's blue hue in favor of a more black look, but their slightly larger size and bolder attack strategies,as well as their increased health, will be the primary distinguishing factors.
- Health: 210
A very rare type of Skaarj. They are alternate versions of normal Skaarj Warriors, possessing a blue skin and wearing a grey armor suit. The final Skaarj of The Darkening is technically a Skaarj Berserker that uses the Ice Skaarj texture. Ice Skaarj have an immunity to the Frozen damage type (in Unreal, this is caused only by Nitrogen pools.) They are found in Watcher of the Skies and Gala's Peak only on Easy difficulty.
- Health: from 340 to 500
These are experiments that the player will fight while exploring the Skaarj Mothership after destroying the main Generator and plunging the ship into inky blackness. They are translucent, and glow either blue or green, which makes them visible in the blackness of the ship. They are strong and aggressive, but ultimately not too much different from regular Skaarj in terms of tactics. Blue ones are more rare, and tend to be the weakest from this group. The green ones are like these latter, but with higher durability. There is also a larger, red/orange one that the player will meet while exploring the Skaarj Mothership Labs. Luminescent Skaarj also appear from the Trooper caste.
- Health: 650
For lack of a better term, this enormous Skaarj Lord appears only once at the end of the RtNP level Bounds of Foundry as a surprise boss fight. The Skaarj have a history of genetic experiments, ranging from the Luminescent Skaarj to the Brutes and possibly beyond, which makes it reasonable to suppose that this beast is the work of Skaarj experimentation. The Giant Skaarj behaves like a typical Skaarj Lord, except that it is about 15 feet tall and fills half the room. It is a memorable, if bizzare encounter.
Partway through the game, the Trooper caste is introduced. Skaarj Troopers share some tactical similarities to Warriors, but have they are more militaristic than the perhaps more traditional Warriors, and they employ some different tactics and equipment. They wear a different style of armor, have short, stubby tails, and have discarded the Razik for the same weapons employed by the player. Up close, Troopers use the same animations as the Warriors, but they lack the brutal claws, so they appear to beat and pummel the player with their fists instead. All Troopers carry a personal energy shield that absorbs nearly all incoming damage, and will tend to huddle behind it when under fire from hitscan weaponry. They may stay hidden behind this shield for some time, peeking out only momentarily to fire a few shots at the player. They will tend to rely on their adept dodging skill to avoid projectile weapons. The Skaarj Trooper was also available as a playable multiplayer model, complete with a larger collision box and 130 health.
- Health: 170
The second weakest of the caste, this class also shares its name. Troopers are roughly on par size-wise with a Scout (7.5-8 feet) but are yellow in color, and wear light gray/white armor, consisting of shoulder pads, knee-height boots with knee-pads, a pointed helmet, bracers, a light chest-plate and a belt with crotch plate. Their default weapon is a Dispersion Pistol, though they may ultimately be found wielding any of the game's weapons.
- Health: 170
Infantry look exactly like Troopers, but generally carry Stingers, making them significantly more deadly opponents. They follow the same tactics and should be dealt with in roughly the same way, keeping in mind that they tend to carry more deadly weaponry than Troopers.
- Health: 170
A startling cyan in coloration, and wearing slightly less coverage in terms of armor, the Gunner is a heavier set Trooper class that typically wields a deadly Eightball rocket/grenade launcher, making him a significant threat especially in close-quarters. Luckily he's not an overly common enemy.
- Health: 140
Occurring very rarely, this deadly class carries a Skaarj Hunting Rifle by default, but has also been seen wielding a GES Bio-Rifle. They appear as thinner Gunners, and are the weakest of all Skaarj classes.
- Health: 200
Rivaling a Lord in size, the Officer wears a full-body armor suit sporting a bright light-blue and reddish coloration. The few areas where its scales are exposed reveal its yellow hue. Officers are the strongest and most aggressive of the Trooper class, and, by default carry a Razorjack, though they can also be found with Hunting Rifles and other weapons. Officers have the potential to be the most deadly of the Skaarj classes, so hit them hard and drop them fast.
- Health: from 1100 to 1595
At the top of the militaristic side of the Skaarj presence on Na Pali is the WarLord. The WarLord towers over even a Berserker, wears a full-body armor suit with a dark green and black color scheme, wields a large, heat-seeking missile launcher, and possesses the ability to fly with a pair of large, bat-like wings on his back. The WarLord is as agile in the air as other Skaarj are on the ground, avoiding incoming fire and dodging out of the line of fire of instant-hit weapons before you even fire at him. His missiles do significant damage, and their ability to track the player makes them a formidable attack. Up close, the WarLord will bash the player with his launcher, a surprisingly clumsy seeming attack from such an agile race. In Unreal, you will have a teaser fight with the WarLord in a lava-filled cave beneath the Nali Castle called Demonlord's Lair and finally finish the battle inside the Skaarj Generator inside the Skaarj Mothership.
- Health: 65
All these Skaarj have to come from somewhere, though. Halfway through the game, the player meets the Pupae form of the Skaarj species. A relatively small (about 6 feet long, but only a foot or so tall) insect-like creature that behaves almost more like a spider than a Skaarj, though it still possesses the leap attack, the tusks, and the general face-shape. Pupae are fairly weak, but in groups they can tear an unwary player apart in seconds. They have a tell-tale hissing sound, and will tend to scratch around on the ground, which can alert the player to their presence before any pupae are actually seen. Pupae tend to congregate in groups, and live, like spiders, in store-rooms and darkened, abandoned areas of Na Pali. They may be hiding in crates every now and then. They can hide on walls and ceilings, and drop down for surprise attacks. They will also hide underneath stairways and other objects, waiting to ambush unwary prey. The Skaarj Mothership has a few Pupae breeding areas that the player can become locked in for a time, and the final arena, The Source, is crawling with them throughout the final fight. Some levels that were cut from the final release, known as Soledad, Morose and Nexus, are a subterranean Pupae breeding facility that employs a translucent purple fluid to feed the Pupae. This fluid is not seen in the final game, however, so whether it is still a factor in Pupae development is unknown. Pupae start to appear from The Sunspire.
- Health: from 1500 to 1800
The Source is the hive of the all-important Skaarj Queen. The Skaarj have an insect-like social structure, all centered around serving and protecting the Queen. The Queen herself is a towering beast, roughly 20 feet tall, with six limbs, the ability to fire several energy projectiles in sequence seemingly from her breasts, conjure an impenetrable energy shield, and teleport at will (capable also of Telefrag). The extent of her power is unknown, and she appears to meditate when not engaged in combat. A degree of the Mothership's structural integrity may be held together simply by her will, since the ship begins to collapse and explode once she is killed (although, her lair isn't found in the Skaarj Mothership, but deep in Na Pali's ground). She is highly angered by the death of any of her children, and will scream loud enough to shake the room when any Pupae are killed in her presence. She is faster than the player, though her large size makes her a little cumbersome. The player's main advantage is a pair of unlimited Jump Boots which allow enough mobility to evade the massive Queen. The Queen stands on her rear legs, which appear avian in structure, and balances on a pair of less developed secondary legs which appear very insect-like. Her main arms are humanoid. The Queen as a whole is not entirely humanoid, but rather has a slightly centaur-ish look resulting from her avian or theropodian hindquarters and massive tail. Her design is elegant, slender and dark. She is almost beautiful, and captures very well the techno-gothic look that characterizes Unreal. A wonderful and memorable boss fight, ranking right up there with the Cyberdemon of Doom fame.
The Skaarj's Role
The Skaarj return for a less central role in the sequel to Unreal, Unreal 2: The Awakening. The plot of the game centers around a set of mysterious artifacts that several races and corporations are fighting for possession of. The Skaarj are among the forces involved in the conflict, and appear as the main enemies for the first two missions, and then play a central, if maybe not fully intentional, role in key events near the end of the game. The Skaarj are among the races experimented on by the Drakk, a race of self-aware machines, and a significant portion of the final hybrid created by them that the player has the option to face, deep in the Drakk Hive.
It was announced early on in Unreal 2's development that the Skaarj would be divided up into clans that would be fighting amongst themselves for control of the artifacts, but this feature did not end up making a substantial appearance in the final release. Nonetheless, the clan-based element expanded the Skaarj societal structure in a way that was later expanded upon in UT 2004 and Unreal Championship 2. The Krall, the Skaarj's enslaved hunting partners and guards, are replaced by the insane Izarians, suggesting that the Skaarj Empire has a diverse well of species to draw assistance from, and that various clans prefer different assistants.
Skaarj dropships appear briefly at the end of Unreal 2, resembling sleeker versions of the Skimmers from Unreal. It is possible that they serve double-duty as fighter craft, as well. A new Skaarj weapon, dubbed the Shock Lance by Isaac, is based upon ASMD technology, indicating that the Skaarj are even now not above stealing and adapting alien technology for their own uses. After a limiter has been applied that reduces the weapon's power, the Skaarj give it to the Izarians, who use it as their primary weapon. It appears as a high-tech trident or pitchfork which fires purple energy bolts, or a powerful EMP ball. Later on Isaac is able to remove the limiter and the player's Shock Lance becomes more powerful.
The Skaarj are divided, like most of Unreal 2's characters, into three weight classes: light medium and heavy. The War Lord and Queen make no appearance in Unreal 2.
- Health: 150
Bearing a resemblance to the classic Skaarj Warriors, these are the smallest of the Skaarj classes, and wear no armor besides their Razik, which are now more fully depicted as wrist-mounted devices. The claws on the Razik appear smaller, though not by much, and are no longer retractable. The braided dreadlocks appear to take on a finer, more hair-like texture, and appear to be fixed through a series of diamond-shaped objects, giving the dreads their classic shape. The Skaarj in Unreal 2 are a little more heavy-set than their classic counterparts, and tend to be noticeably more aggressive. They retained their agility and will still dodge and leap to avoid projectile fire, but, if fired upon with a rapid-fire, instant hit weapon like the Duster Assault Rifle, they will block the shots with their claws and continue moving forward, an ability which counters the previous Skaarj's weakness to the original Minigun. Light Skaarj are fairly weak, and can be dispatched fairly easily, but, due to the player's significantly slower movement rate in Unreal 2 compared to Unreal, they can still be a respectable threat.
- Health: 150
These slightly larger Skaarj wear a fair amount of armor, including boots, thigh pads, a full chest plate, and shoulder pads. Spikes adorn the top of the boots and chest plate, and curved blades follow the countours of the thigh and shoulder pads. The armor appears a little more clumsy and impractical than that of the classic Skaarj, which would seem to suggest a difference in combat style and priorities among Skaarj clans. Beyond appearances, Medium Skaarj behave like Light Skaarj, but are able to withstand and deal out more damage. When killed, their armor gives off a latent energy charge that the player can absorb to add to his own energy shielding level.
- Health: 600
Heavy Skaarj seem uncharacteristic of what one would immediately expect a Skaarj to be. They are entirely encased in heavy power armor, and as a result move slowly and deliberately, favoring ranged attacks over melee. The melee attack they do have throws the player back out into proper ranged attack distance. At range, they fire either a volley of smaller energy bolts or a larger charged-shot that will track the player. The Heavy class appears once at the end of the first mission in a small pit, and later several Heavy Skaarj appear in various circumstances on the second to last mission. They can withstand and dish-out a significant amount of damage, but lack any real dodging capabilities, making them easy targets, providing the player can find cover from the powerful energy blasts. Like the Medium Skaarj, Heavy Skaarj also give off a latent energy shield charge once killed.
Skaarj in the Tournament
A number of Skaarj have fought in the Liandri Grand Tournament.
By 2291 (the time period of UT) the New Earth Government, inspired by the Skaarj's abilities in the Human-Skaarj War, had developed the Human/Skaarj Hybrid, meant to be used as a leading force in ground based ops. To test the Hybrids, the NEG entered two teams: Red Claw and Iron Skull into the Tournament.
In 2303 (the time period of UT2004) a team of pure Skaarj from the Iron Skull clan enter the Tournament. It is unknown how they are related to the Hybrids who fought under the same name in the earlier Tournament. What is known is that the Skaarj Empire holds them responsible for the loss of the Skaarj Mothership during the Human-Skaarj War in 2216.
Later in that Tournament, the two brothers Mekkor and Skrilax of the Black Fist Clan enter the Tournament to test their new cybernetic armor, which replaces entire limbs lost in battle. Because of this they are referred to as MechaSkaarj.
One of the Tournament's Assault matches centers around the destruction of a Skaarj mothership attacking Earth at the end of the Human-Skaarj War in 2216. The mothership and the Skaarj Black Scorpion spacefighter are recreated.
During the time period of UC2, Torgr and his tribe enter their slave Szalor in the Nakhti Ascension Rites, a qualifying round for the Tournament, hoping to watch an entertaining death. Torgr himself enters hoping to win and prove himself worthy of being consort to the Queen. His wish is to unify the Skaarj and their slave races and conquer the galaxy.