Revan is introduced in the background of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Prior to the game's setting, he was a prodigious Jedi Knight and hero of the Mandalorian Wars who, for unknown reasons, turned to the Dark Side of the Force, establishing his own Sith Empire and calling himself Dark Lord of the Sith. Just as it did when he was a Jedi, Revan's charisma would win him many allies, and the power of his empire would grow to overwhelm the Jedi Order and the Republic.
Revan took his fellow Jedi and close friend Alek as his Sith apprentice, rechristened as Darth Malak. Their victory over the Republic seemed assured until their fleet became ensnared in a Jedi trap. Bastila Shan led a strike team of Jedi aboard Revan's flagship to engage him in combat, but they were interrupted by Malak, who seized the opportunity to kill the Jedi and betray his master, so that the Sith Empire would be his alone. Malak's flagship fired upon Revan's, bombarding the vessel and wiping away Revan and the Jedi. Malak then took over Revan's title of Dark Lord of the Sith and leader of the Sith Empire.
It is heavily speculated that Revan wasn't his birth name, just the one he assumed after seizing the mantle of Dark Lord of the Sith.
He was born on one of the distant planets on the outer rim, and it is thought, by his former teacher Kreia, that this may have been what called him back there later in his life.
Revan started off his life like any other Jedi trainee. He was taken away from his family and inducted into the order. From childhood, it was noted that Revan had an unusually strong affinity with the Force. It was said that he was also extremely hungry for knowledge and went through many teachers when it became obvious that they could teach him no more. Whilst at the academy at the level of Padawan, he meet another young trainee Jedi by the name of Alek Squinquargesimus. In Alek, Revan found a kindred spirit; someone who was as eager to learn as himself. Revan and Alek were renowned amongst the order for being brash and, at times, not cautious enough, but this was put down to their youth and inexperience.
Some time later, as Revan and Alek were achieving the rank of Jedi Knights, the Mandalorians began a brutal campaign against the Republic worlds on the other rim. Suffering heavy losses in those areas, the Republic immediately launched its forces to meet the Mandalorian threat. These, however, were unable to stop them. The Mandalorians were a warrior peoples whose main purpose, was combat. As hard as the Republic forces tried, they could not overcome the Mandalorians strategic prowess, or their thirst for battle. Soon, whole worlds began falling to their oppressors as the Mandalorians showed no mercy for the non-combatants and crushed all resistance. It was at this time, that the Republic appealed to the Jedi council to aid them in this war. It was determined by the highest generals that, if the Jedi could not be persuaded to join the war effort, the Republic would fall.
It was at this time that Revan, now a Jedi Knight recognized throughout the order for not only his great power as a master of the force, but as a charismatic leader, decided to intervene. Revan, along with his friend Alek, traveled to meet various Jedi Masters and members of the Jedi Council, as well as traveling to worlds devastated by the Mandalorians, to try and convince them to join the war effort. However, the Jedi were reluctant to change their decision. They reasoned that, after the war with Exar Kun, they could not afford greater losses. They also believed that there was a greater threat looming beyond the outer rim which was behind the scenes of the Mandalorian War and stressed that Revan was far too headstrong and not cautious enough to see it.
After realizing he could not sway the Jedi Masters to his ideals, Revan, along with Alek, began seeking out Jedi pupils who were strong in the force and still young and idealistic, and convincing them he was right. Revan, through his campaigning on behalf of the Republic, by this time, was highly recognized and respected and this made it easier for him to coerce the young Jedi.
At some point, as it seemed all was lost for the Republic, as the Outer Rim planets had all but fallen, as the Mandalorians were on the brink of invading the core worlds, Revan and Alek, disillusioned by the council's resolve and unwillingness to help its allies, broke from the Jedi Council and refused to acknowledge its hierarchy. They quickly joined the Republic army and were given control of small forces. Revan quickly showed himself as an extremely capable leader, strategist and tactician. Up till then, the Mandalorians had won every campaign against the Republic. Revan and Alek won every campaign they were in charge of. Through their victories, Revan and Alek rose swiftly through the ranks until Revan himself was in charge of more than one third of the entire Republic fleet. Alek himself proved to be an unparalleled warrior. He was renowned for his conviction and readiness to plunge himself into battle against his enemies. As Revan gained more and more victories, more and more Jedi joined him in their renouncing of the council and joining in the war. Soon, the order was completely divided in support of the war and of the council.
Revan's strategies were flawless, and his abilities as a general were unparalleled. It was not long after he had taken command, that the Republic began pushing the Mandalorians back and liberating worlds that they had taken over. The Mandalorians even began fearing and respecting Revan for his unwavering logic of battle, sometimes even sacrificing entire worlds to the Mandalorians as decoys or baits. His feats earned him, among his troops, the nickname of The Revanchist.
Eventually, Revan fought the Mandalorians to the edges of the known galaxy till only a handful of worlds remained under their control. There he came across a barren planet, named by the Mandalorians as Malachor V. After finding out that the Mandalorians feared the planet and would not occupy it, Revan went to the surface to see why. Immediately after walking on the planet, Revan was attacked by Dark Side energies however, Revan's power was so great, that he managed to twist the energies to his will and feed off of them. He quickly discovered an abandoned Sith Academy; a place left behind by the ancient Sith Empire.
It is unknown exactly what Revan found there, but it is indicated that he came across knowledge of the existence of the old Sith Empire still existing outside the reaches of the known galaxy. With this knowledge and fear, he absorbed and learned all he could of the dark side powers from the academy, believing that, only with the strength and knowledge of the Dark Side itself, could he defeat those Sith who wielded it. It was then, that Revan adopted the title of Darth Revan and Lord of the Sith. Alek, being the weaker of the two, reluctantly adopted the title of apprentice and was given the name Malak by his master.
It was while on Malachor V, that Revan hatched a plan to destroy the Mandalorian thread once and for all. He had one of his engineers, an Iridonian by the name of Bao-Dur, construct a new super-weapon he had devised called the Mass Shadow Generator. This weapon was through to cause the artificial creation of a huge amount of gravity at a set point. This device was tied into the planet of Malachor V. Revan kept this part of his plan secret to all but a few of his most trusted compatriots. Among these, were Bao-Dur himself, and a Jedi General whom Revan trusted highly. He placed these two upon his flagship just out of range of Malachor V. Next, Revan assembled a huge fleet in orbit of the planet, and a large army on the planet itself.
This provided bait to large to resist for the Mandalorians, who longed for great battle. Revan initially joined the battle, only to defeat Mandalore The Ultimate, the leader of the Mandalorians. Revan not only killed him, but took his mask, the ritual sign of the Mandalore thereby denying his people from choosing a new leader. Revan then promptly left the surface. As the Mandalorian fleet and the Republic fleet fought in orbit and on the surface of Malachor V, the Jedi General, under the guidance of Revan, ordered Bao-Dur to activate the Mass Shadow Generator. Immediately, the forces engaged in fighting on the surface were crushed in the grip of the planet. The titanic fleets in orbit were also dragged down to the planet and crushed. Even the planet itself was fractured down to its very core. With this ruthless tactic, Revan had wiped out most of the Mandalorians at the cost of sacrificing a huge number of Republic soldiers and Jedi.
Revan quickly rounded up the remaining Mandalorians and destroyed their weapons, ships and armor and condemning them to a menial existence of bounty hunting and mercenary work, a tormentuous fate for a once proud military people. Back in the Republic, people cheered Revan's name and he was heralded as the savior of the Republic, meanwhile the Jedi Order earned much scorn and ill repute for their refusal to accept Revan's way. Revan did not however return to the republic as was thought he would. Instead, he took the part of the fleet he commanded outside of known space.
He sent a message back that he was taking his soldiers to hunt down the remaining Mandalorians outside known space. It would be around five years before the Revan would openly return to Republic space. It not know if this was when, or perhaps it was during the end of the war, Revan and Malak returned to the planets of Dantooine, Tatooine, Korriban, Manaan and Kashyyyk. These planets were noted in the academy on Malachor V, as being waypoints to a cache of dark side power, from an empire that predated the Republic. It was at these planets, that Revan discovered artifacts of the dark side known as Star Maps. Each one displayed a partial route to an unknown destination where the cache was.
After traveling to each of the worlds, the location was revealed to Malak and Revan and they traveled alone to its location, leaving the fleet behind to await their arrival. Upon arriving at the location, their ship became disabled and crashed on the only planet in the star system. Upon landing, they were attacked by the Black Rakata, a faction of the Rakata species. They easily dispatched these people with their force powers. After this, the Black Rakatan leader sent an invite to the Sith to join him in his temple. Revan used the Force to rip their language out of their heads and into his whilst drilling Galactic Basic into them.
The leader of the Black Rakatan quickly offered a deal to Revan. If Revan destroyed the Elders, another faction of the Rakatan, the leader would use their knowledge to drop the shield blocking a temple on the planet that held the controls to the disruptor field that took down their ship. Realizing that the Black Rakatan did not have the knowledge to help him, he lied, telling them he would kill the Elders, when really he intended to make a deal with the Elders themselves. Upon arriving at the temple of the Elders, Revan impressed them with his control over the Force. The Elders taught Revan of their history, and of how their Species created the Infinite Empire using incredibly advanced technology which fed off of the dark side of the force. He learned that, when the Infinite Empire was thriving, the Rakata enslaved all worlds in their domain and rule through cruelty.
The pinnacle of their civilization was achieved when the created the Star Forge, a huge facility which fed off the Dark Side and used it’s power, in conjunction with the power from the star it orbited, to create warships. The Rakatan were confident that they would be able to control the dark side energies which the Star Forge gave out and used. Instead, not only did the Star Forge absorb the dark side energies of its creators, but it reflected it back into its creators causing them to become more cruel and more twisted by the dark side which eventually led to their downfall, as their hatred was soon turned on each other when there were no more worlds left to conquer.
This civil war destroyed their empire as the enslaved planets all rebelled when they sensed their weakness. All technology of the Infinite Empire was powered by the Rakatan’s innate ability to control the force, however, owing to a plague that emerged at the end of the Empire, they had lost all force sensitivity. As a result, they could not destroy the Star Forge, the device that caused their downfall. The Elders broke a deal with Revan; they would allow him to access the central temple which controlled the disruptor field if, when he returned to his ship, he would travel to the Star Forge and destroy it.
Revan accepted but asked the leaders to allow his apprentice Malak to enter the temple with him. The elders were, at first, reluctant as their rituals stated that only one could enter the temple at any time. Eventually, Revan convinced them to let Malak enter. Upon entry to the temple, Revan figured out how the disruptor shield worked and shut it down from a console at the top of the temple. Revan and Malak then returned to their ship and headed for the Star Forge. Upon entry, they both felt the power of the dark side on the Star Forge.
Revan saw the Star Forge as merely a tool with which to produce a huge fleet with as he recognized that bathing in its energies would eventually lead to full corruption from the dark side that not even he would be able to resist. Malak saw the full potential of the Star Forge and believed he was strong enough to tame it however, he followed Revan’s instructions, knowing that one day, he would take Revan’s place as Lord of the Sith and then he would get his chance to rule the Star Forge.
Revan used the power of the Star Forge to turn all the Jedi that had joined him, to the dark side. When his fleet had been fully amassed, Revan and Malak returned to the Republic and began conquering it. Revan’s plan was not to crush the Republic as the Mandalorians had tried to do. Instead, he wished to wash away the leadership and all those loyal to the Republic, leaving the key infrastructure of the planets in place so that, when he took over, he would have to do very little to solidify power and the defensive and governmental systems would still be functional. Revan used insidious means to eliminate threats to his new rule. He employed Sith assassins to remove key political figureheads and opponents. At the same time, he set up his own academies which inducted force sensitives to the dark side. Revan also had force sensitives kidnapped and trained to be dark Jedi. As a former hero of the Republic, Revan had the respect of many and so, he was able to broker deals with various interplanetary organizations and powers further allowing him to avoid conflict.
The Jedi, now allied with the Republic, were desperate. Many amongst them had fallen to the dark side, many others had been killed by the Dark Lord’s assassins. It was at this time, that a young Padawan emerged with an extraordinary new talent. Her name was Bastila Shan. She possessed the power of Battle Meditation. This allowed her, whilst in a deep trance, to turn the tide of a battle by increasing the morale of one side whilst decreasing that of the other side. In addition, it would improve the leadership and strategic ability of the commanders of the side she favored whilst adversely affecting the other side. This allowed the Republic to pull off military victories, but the Jedi masters saw no way to win the war. As a last resort, the Jedi set in motion, a daring plan.
They leaked information of a small fleet of republic ships hiding in a remote star system knowing that Revan would see this as an easy opportunity to eliminate Republic resistance. Once Revan and Malak began their assault against the fleet, a Jedi strike team, accompanied by Bastila, boarded Revan’s ship. The Jedi managed to fight their way to Revan who seemed unsurprised by them, nor worried. Instead Revan calmly prepared himself for battle, however, after only pulling out his lightsaber, Malak ordered his ship to fire upon the bridge of Revan’s Flagship.
This nearly killed Revan who lay near death. Bastila, holding fast to her Jedi ideals, or perhaps realizing the usefulness of the information that Revan held, used the Force to preserve Revan’s life, accidentally creating a force bond between herself and Revan. Then She escaped with Revan. Malak, basking in the glory of having trumped his best friend and now former master, believing him to be dead, took command of the Sith fleet. Malak, unlike his master, did not take a subtle approach to conquest. Instead, he began a brutal campaign against the Jedi and the Republic, destroying any who he felt to be weak.
The Jedi Council was initially divided on what to do with Revan. The Jedi do not believe in executing prisoners, but they could not risk Revan waking up. The Jedi however, were still baffled as to how Revan was able to construct such a large fleet without them noticing, so they decided to revive Revan, but not before erasing his memories and giving him new, synthesized memories. The Jedi then planned to team him with Bastila as her force bond with him would allow her to coax out memories from his previous life. Revan was transported aboard the Endar Spire, a Republic vessel, along with a team of Jedi to protect her and help keep Revan’s identity a secret.
It was at this time that Malak, seeing the only threat to his power as Bastila’s Battle Meditation, sent his fleet out to hunt her. They were able to find and catch up with her whilst the Endar Spire was orbiting the planet of Taris. When the ship was boarded, Bastila, fearing allowing herself to be captured by Malak and her powers used against the Republic, fled in an escape pod to Taris. Trask, a solider of the Republic aboard the Endar Spire, found Revan and woke him up and armed him, in an effort to get him to help find Bastila and escape.
The ship’s commander, a decorated war hero by the name of Carth Onasi, contacted the two and informed them that Bastila had escaped, and that it was only a matter of time before the Sith discovered this and would have no more use for the Endar Spire. Whilst fleeing, the two bumped into Malak’s new apprentice, Darth Bandon. Trask selflessly ran to fight Bandon, sacrificing himself to give Revan a chance to escape. Revan managed to fight his way through the few Sith soldiers between him and Carth. Upon uniting with him, the two took an escape pod down to the surface of Taris.
Revan awoke after having a vision of him fighting Bastila in his dream. He awoke in an apartment in the upper city of Taris after apparently having been knocked out by the rough landing in the escape pod. Carth suggested that they search for Bastila so that together, the three of them could escape Taris. Malak, after destroying the Endar Spire, sent Sith agents down to Taris to locate Bastila. Carth and Revan quickly discovered that Bastila was being held captive by a street gang called the Black Vulkars.
They were able to come into contact with her by associating with the Black Vulkars’ rival gang, the Hidden Beks. Once they were in contact with Bastila, she broke free of their custody and escaped with the help of Revan. By this time, Canderous Ordo, a Mandalorian mercenary working for the local crime lord Davik Kang, had noticed the capabilities of Revan and offered him the chance to escape the now blockaded planet. In return for assaulting the Sith base to steal the Sith launch codes (a transmission code which would stop the auto-firing sentries in the blockade from firing on them), Canderous would introduce Revan and his companions to Davik as potential employees where they all would attempt to steal Davik’s ship, the Ebon Hawk.
This plan came together just as Malak became impatient with the search for Bastila and ordered the an aerial bombardment of Taris. Revan, Carth, Bastila and a few of their comrades (a female Twi’Lek by the name of Mission Vao, a Wookie named Zaalbar, Canderous the male Mandalorian, and a small utility droid called T3-M4) managed to steal the Ebon Hawk, but only after killing Davik himself, whom showed up in the hangar bay together with his enforcer and bounty hunter, Calo Nord just as the party were about the hijack the ship. Calo was not technically killed in the ensuing battle, but were buried under debris and a large metal beam which fell when the Sith bombardment managed to hit the area surrounding the hangar.
After escaping Taris, Revan and his party traveled to Dantooine where there was a Jedi Enclave. Upon arrival, Bastila and Revan shared a dream vision of a Star Map on Dantooine. The Jedi council here deliberated on what to do with Revan in light of Bastila revealing his identity to them. It was determined that they would train him as a Jedi and he would investigate the ruins where the Star Map was supposedly hidden on Dantooine.
Revan wore a signature mask that became his most recognizable symbol. He had claimed it from a Mandalorian woman during the Mandalorian Wars, vowing not to remove it until the war had been won, though he wore it all the way up until his capture by the Jedi Order.
From a pure character design standpoint, Revan's baggy robes were meant to conceal his gender, as the player could choose Revan to be a man or a woman, though canonically he is male.
Besides gender, the player is also able to choose Revan's general appearance, including race. Star Wars: The Old Republic was the first game to debut a canonical physical appearance for Revan. He is a Caucasian man with brown hair and brown eyes.