The Old Republic was the Republic of legend, greater than distance or time. Before a cruel and ruthless Empire supplanted it, the Old Republic was the democratic union that governed a galaxy for thousands of years. Those who lived in it knew it as the Galactic Republic, or more simply, the Republic.
Ruling the Republic was the Galactic Senate, a governing body comprising elected or appointed representatives from across the galaxy. From within that Senate, a Supreme Chancellor was elected. Justice and peace in the Republic was protected by the Jedi Knights, a noble order of Force-sensitives.
As the Republic grew more and more powerful, many of the bureaucrats and Senators that ran the government grew increasingly corrupt or complacent. The bureaucracy that had grown and festered over millennia choked any attempt at proactive government. Furthermore, partisan politics and personal agendas also hampered effective governing.
Into this mire stepped the ambitious Senator Palpatine from Naboo. His homeworld was under siege by the greedy Neimoidian Trade Federation, as protest to increased tariffs and taxation to outlying trade routes. Despite the full-scale invasion of the planet, the call to react was tied up in procedure. When Queen Amidala -- the elected leader of the sovereign system of Naboo -- spoke before the Senate, calling for action, she also called for a Vote of No Confidence in the leadership of the Republic.
The well-meaning but politically clumsy Chancellor Valorum was voted out of office. In his place, Palpatine was elected Supreme Chancellor. Despite promises of bringing order and compassion back to the Republic, the first decade of his term was blighted by great political upheaval. A separatist movement, led by the charismatic Count Dooku, began splitting the Republic, and it was all the Jedi could do to maintain order.
This chaotic political climate precipitated the dark times that overcame the galaxy. The Republic crumbled and was rebuilt in the guise of the New Order.
When stationed on Hoth, the Rebel Alliance modified T-47 airspeeders to become snowspeeders, fast flying conveyances for patrol and defense of their hidden base. It took some doing to keep the crippling cold from permanently grounding their airforce, but Rebel ingenuity overcame the relentless Hoth elements.
The T-47 airspeeder is a small, wedge-shaped craft with two forward-facing laser cannons. In its rear arc is a harpoon gun fitted with a heavy-duty tow cable. The snowspeeder is a two-man vessel, with a pilot and rear-facing tailgunner.
The main Alliance snowspeeder unit at Echo Base was Rogue Group, led by Luke Skywalker. This unit was tasked with delaying the thundering Imperial invasion force long enough for Rebel command to evacuate Echo Base.
The Imperial taskforce consisted of AT-AT walkers. The snowspeeder laser cannons were ineffective against such heavy armor, and Luke Skywalker turned to a tactic of desperation. He ordered his pilots to employ their harpoons and tow cables to ensnare the walkers' legs. Wedge Antilles and his gunner, Janson, were the first to successfully entangle a walker. With its legs roped, the walker's raw strength brought it crashing down, where the Rebel snowspeeders were able to get a clear shot at its weaker neck column.
The bone-chilling cold is not the only danger that awaits a traveler on the Hoth plains. Despite standing over two meters in height, the wampa ice creature is nonetheless a stealthy predator. Its white fur is the perfect camouflage, and the howling Hoth winds mask its approach until it is too late. With a crushing blow from its clawed hand, a wampa is strong enough to snap the neck of even a hardy tauntaun.
Wampas live in caves carved from the Hoth ice. It is here that the ice creature drags its prey. It suspends its victims from the cave ceiling until it is ready to feast.
The Rebels were plagued with wampa attacks when they erected their hidden base on Hoth. Commander Luke Skywalker was savagely attacked by a wampa while on scouting duty. Skywalker narrowly escaped becoming a meal and dying in a Hoth blizzard. Despite bacta treatment administered by the skilled medical droid 2-1B, Luke still bears scars from that encounter.
Just prior to the evacuation of the Hoth base, the Rebels had to deal with repeated wampa attacks. The first indication that was something amiss was the discovery of a dead tauntaun, its neck mysteriously broken. Attracted to the sound of astromech droids, several wampa ice creatures penetrated deeper and deeper into the Alliance caverns. The Rebels were able to capture at least one wampa in a pen before having to abandon Echo Base altogether.
Located in the Hoth system is a chaotic asteroid field filled with dangerous swarms of colliding rocks. Stray bodies from the field get caught in Hoth's gravity well, and enter the ice planet's atmosphere, becoming meteorites.
If the threat of being crushed by massive asteroids is not enough to deter the most foolhardy pilot, the asteroid field is also home to dangerous lifeforms. At least one unbelievably huge space slug has made a home out of one of the larger asteroids. Furthermore, the field is infested by mynocks, leathery-winged energy parasites that attach themselves to passing ships and then chew on the power cables.
The odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field are approximately 3,720 to 1. Han Solo, never being too concerned with the odds, recklessly plunged the Millennium Falcon into the field to escape Imperial pursuit after the Battle of Hoth.
On the outskirts of Mos Espa was an immense venue for watching the popular Boonta Eve Classic Podrace. Over one hundred thousands beings filled the Mos Espa Grand Arena to capacity during the annual event. They filed into the grandstand seats, crowded into broad viewing platforms or clustered into the upper tiers to catch a glimpse of the high-speed spectacle. For a modest fee, spectators could rent hand-held viewscreens which displayed images recorded by fast-flying Podrace holocams tracking the race. From a distance, the arena's seats looked to be a flowing tapestry of color, as race-fans from all throughout the Outer Rim Territories congregated. Alien food vendors roamed the crowds, offering exotic wares, bands both amateur and professional tootled race themes and popular melodies to cheer on their favored pilots, fans brandished flags bearing their racer's emblems.
The wealthier of Mos Espa's residents and guests could afford private viewing boxes separated from the rest of the rabble. The Toydarian junk-merchant Watto hosted viewing parties for his friends and gambling partners. The most opulent of viewing boxes was reserved for the ruling Hutts, particularly Jabba the Hutt, who hosted the Boonta Eve Classic.