- "You will guard them and they will hate you for it. Whenever there are no Sith to fight, the galaxy will do its best to forget how much they need you. And that's good. We need to stand apart from them, even if they have to push us away to make us do it. That is the only way we can ever make the hard decisions."
- — Varys Blackthorne
The Guardians of the Force were originally founded by Varys Blackthorne, around the time of the conclusion of the Great War 3,500 years before the Battle of Yavin. Harboring a more controversial approach to the Force than the Jedi Order's, it was often seen as an outcast faction lead by a vagabond Jedi. Nevertheless, the Guardians were staunch supporters of both the Jedi Order and the Republic, and were strong and trusted allies.
Taught unique principles and values, the Guardians of the Force were be seen by many as mere Jedi, but Varys taught that the concept stood for something more. Guardians of the Force were instructed in various ways of the Force, taught to embrace the Force as a whole, not just the Jedi philosophy. This was a dangerous and controversial path to take, and the result of a fall from it often resulted in eternal condemnation. As such, Guardians were very careful about whom they accepted into their ranks.
The organization was based from Tython, headquartered at the Temple on the Mount, where they had continued their dedicated mission of seeking out the dark side of the Force to destroy it wherever it stood. Upon Order 66, however, they withdrew their presence from the known galaxy and re-consolidated on Tython, to preserve their order and keep the Sith and its Empire from discovering the Jedi homeworld.
In 18 ABY, Aaralyn Blackthorne visited the world, where the troubled fallen Jedi was taken in by the Guardians and taught their unique ways of the Force, in an attempt to help her redeem herself from her sins. During this time, she became an inducted member of the Order, and alongside her new master, Lok Tarkis, became an ambassador and public figure to the Guardians for the Jedi Order.
- "We are an ancient organization of warriors of exceptional ability who have dedicated ourselves to fighting the dark side throughout the galaxy. The Temple on the Mount is where we were founded, by our ancestor Varys Blackthorne, shortly after the end of the Cold War."
- — Anaron Blackthorne to Aaralyn Blackthorne
The Guardians of the Force were first founded by Varys Blackthorne, who named the group after his informal title granted by the Jedi Council of the time, at some point between the waning years of the Great War and the beginning of the Cold War. The organization started out small, but as the war raged on they began to attract members. Over the course of their beginnings, the Guardians became one of the Jedi Order's forefront strike forces against the Sith Empire, and participated in many battles against them.
At the end of the Great War, they, in contrast to the Jedi Order, retained their wartime purpose, and Varys made a decree that they would continue to root out the dark side no matter the cost. This brought some great concern from many in the Order, especially the Council, in that they feared he was following an all-too-familiar path seen in Revan and, to a much lesser extent, Varys's brother. They could not publicly support the Guardians, though internally allowed them to operate on their own. They became less formal members of the Order and more affiliates, despite still receiving recruits from their parent organization.
Generations went on, and the Guardians remained steadfast with their mission, participating actively and on the front lines against any rise of Sith presence in the galaxy. For some time, they were known for their leadership and strong membership found in the Blackthorne Family, a fact that became less apparent as the centuries passed and the Blackthornes grew detached from the organization.
By 18 ABY, the numbers of the Guardians were few, contained strictly to their Temple on the Mount. Cathal, the leader at the time, opted late in the year to allow Aaralyn to return to the Jedi Order as an ambassador to the Guardians, accompanied by Lok. Together, he hoped, they would create a new relationship between the two groups.
The Guardians of the Force were commanded by the First Guardian in the Temple of the Mount, and consisted of a system of semi-autonomous branches lead by a local commander. Though there was a hierarchy, in practice the "pecking order" was frequently defined by seniority (decided by time of Joining) in the order.
At the time of the Shadow War, the strength of the Guardians was reduced to a few dozen total members.
- "We Guardians have our own specific mission to uphold, Master Jedi, which requires from us to look beyond the face value of our decisions."
- — Anaron Blackthorne to Ember Rekali
Should they needed to, the Guardians of the Force may demand that any individual be drafted into their ranks. However, this was done sparingly for fear of political reprisal. Further complicating matters, the Guardians didn't accept just anyone. Only the best and brightest were invited. In addition, the fact that the Joining ritual was so dangerous meant that the draft may have turned out to be a death sentence to some.
Despite the risks, there were those that tended to be eager to volunteer for the Guardians of the Force, as they recruited regardless of race or social standing and serving was considered by many an honor. Jedi were traditionally recruited based more off of the individual's willingness and, unless there was dire need, the blessings from the Council, and the recruit served as a Guardian their entire life from then on. All members, regardless of their history and their skills, were given great respect and importance in the order. Their facilitation of the Joining ritual was essential.
A distinctive example of the Guardians exercising this ability, regardless of consequences, was when they recruited Aaralyn into their ranks shortly after the Bombardment of Onderon.
- "Join us, brothers and sisters. Join us in the shadows where we stand vigilant. Join us as we carry the duty that can not be forsworn. And should you perish, know that your sacrifice will not be forgotten. And that one day we shall join you."
- — The traditional words that began a Joining.
To become part of the Guardians of the Force, a recruit must first go through a ritual called the Joining.