Join Date: Jul 2011
Current Game: SWTOR, Skyrim
As I see it, there are several things to consider when picking who you think the most powerful Force-user could be, Sith or otherwise. Many of these have been mentioned in this discussion already.
1. Indirect Power - i.e. Military/economic/political. I'd say Revan takes top spot here. Charismatic and brilliant, he's basically Thrawn with Force powers. Palpatine's a close second, because of his skillful political manipulations, plus the war machine of the Empire he ruled. After that comes Darth Krayt, simply because of the Imperial military he controlled. Next comes Lord Hoth, because he built a massive Jedi army to take on the Brotherhood of Darkness and led them to victory.
2. Skill with the Force - How many things can they actually do? I'd have to say Jacen Solo/Darth Caedus. He had training from several sects: Jedi, Sith, Aing-Tii, Fallanassi, Theran Listeners, etc., and demonstrated several amazing abilities, including long-distance eavesdropping, timedrifting, amazing precognition, Sith battle meditation, Force obscurity, etc. Of course, after he became a Sith, he grew stupid and stopped using a lot of those powers.
3. Potential Force Power - How much potential does he have, for example, midi-chlorians? Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, of course, has the highest midi-chlorian count ever, and Lucas has stated Luke has the same amount. Of course, Kyp Durron was demonstrated as having more potential than Leia (and presumably Luke her twin) in "Jedi Search", but I'm not sure how valid that is, since Luke and Anakin were supposed to, in Lucas canon, be the most potent. Also, Jaina and Jacen have at least Leia/Luke's potential, and Zekk and Anakin Solo have been demonstrated as having more potential than the twins. So it's kinda murky. Yoda, of course, is pretty high on the list, too.
4. Demonstrated Force Power - How BIG are his powers? Bastila was so good at Battle Meditation she outstripped her masters and could lead entire fleets to victory. Darth Nihilus was effectively an immortal spirit in the shell of his armor and was able to wipe out all life on a planet of Force-sensitives which included a council of nearly all the Jedi Masters in the galaxy. He was only defeated when the Exile confronted him, whose unique "hole in the Force" status meant there was nothing in her he could absorb. Palpatine in Dark Empire had his Force storms, vast storms of energy (sometimes said to be dark side power, sometimes side to be hyperspatial energies) that effortlessly wiped out star fleets. Darth Plagueis could supposedly create life and make people immortal. Exar Kun survived for 4000 years; the Sith Emperor for half that long at least. Galen Marek telekinetically moved a crashing Star Destroyer. Qui-gon Jinn discovered how to live as a spirit beyond death. Luke Skywalker has the most impressive list of accomplishments far beyond anyone else, however. Look at star wars wikia for it. However, no single one of them outdoes the others in this paragraph.
5. Lightsaber Skills - Yoda, Mace Windu, Palpatine, and Luke Skywalker probably head this list. Palpatine was able to pretty effortlessly strike three or four Jedi Masters with his saber, where Mace Windu and Yoda were able to match him. Luke skywalker, in his later years as a Jedi Master, has done some pretty darn impressive things with a lightsaber, particularly if you look at the NJO era and beyond. Also on this list would be Galen Marek, Kyle Katarn, and Darth Revan, though how they compare to the first four I don't know.
6. Accomplishments - Power, skill, resources, and such are all fine and dandy, but maybe it's what you actually achieve that matters. Luke Skywalker, Darth Revan, Lord Hoth, Darth Bane, and Darth Sidious shine here. Luke, of course single-handedly rebuilt the Jedi Order and fought off multiple threats to the galaxy. Again, see his list of accomplishments at Wookieepedia. Revan was singlehandedly responsible for unifying the Republic fleet and pwning the Mandalorians. Hoth defeated the Brotherhood of Darkness with an army he raised and led himself. Darth Bane re-established the Sith Order that lasted for a thousand years and succeeded in his stated long-term goal of overthrowing the Jedi and the Republic. Of course, it was Palpatine who actually achieved the goal and ruled over the mightiest war machine in galactic history for two decades; plus, he ruled over the entire galaxy, as opposed to the ancient Sith empire.
7. Writer Bias - It must also be taken in consideration that different writers have different views. As far as George Lucas is concerned, no one outstrips Anakin and Luke. Writers such as Dave Wolverton, Tom Veitch, Kevin J. Anderson, and whoever wrote "The Force Unleashed" have the opinion that the Force is just that powerful; it's less the power of the particular person, and more the power of the Force that any Force-user could tap into. Timothy Zahn and Michael Stackpole, on the other hand, consider the Force more subtle.
A final note - nearly all the greatest Force powers are always attributed to "ancient" Jedi and Sith. It's never the villain or hero of the day that developed it. Sever Force and Battle Meditation, two of the Jedi Order's greatest tools? In "Golden Age of the Sith" and "The sith War", the earliest recorded uses of those abilities, they are referred to as ancient techniques. The thought bomb? Kaan got it from Bane who got it from Revan who got it from an unnamed ancient source. Nihilus learned his Force-draining abilities from Kreia, who presented them as an ancient Sith technique. Sith alchemy? Originally developed by the Jedi Exiles who became the Dark Lords of the Sith, who are by and large unnamed and undeveloped. The exceptions are Plagueis (who himself discovered the secret of life) and Palpatine (who himself developed Force storms).
So maybe the most powerful Sith are the ones who actually developed these potent, ancient techniques?
And of course, if we discount the EU (since many people have issues with the EU, it seems), it'd have to be Palpatine. Yes, even he said that Darth Vader/Anakin could be greater than either him or Yoda, but Vader never achieved that potential. Palpatine, however, took over the galaxy and decimated the Jedi Order right under their noses and defeated Yoda in single combat.
And if we include the EU, I would still say Palpatine. He fits most of the criteria I gave above: indirect power, lightsaber skills, demonstrated Force power, original development of powers, actual accomplishments. We have no idea what his midi-chlorian count is, of course, so we can't say how he goes for sheer potential (and in Lucas canon, at least, no one outstrips Anakin and Luke). Also, while he had many arcane Force skills, he never demonstrated the sheer breadth of skills that Jacen did in the Dark Nest trilogy.
Also, to address the "Plagueis" issue: yes, a lot of it is speculation based on a couple lines from RotS. But it was stated that he could sustain and create life. Creating life seems impressive - but perhaps this is similar to the Sith alchemy used to create monsters by the ancient EU Sith lords? Or it could be something as amazing as the speculated "virgin conception" of Anakin Skywalker.
And for sustaining life - is it possible that's where the technology needed to construct Vader's suit came from? Is it possible that knowledge is partially where Palpatine's knowledge of consciousness transference came from?
Finally, I believe the most powerful Sith of all was never a Sith. But if he HAD become a Sith (or darksider in general), he would have taken top spots in all the criteria above.
His list of accomplishments, powers, and Force techniques is already impressive. Imagine what would happen if he actually set out to increase his personal power and take control of the galaxy?
Bwahahahaha, Darth Lukas.
Last edited by Al_Ciao; 08-02-2011 at 04:56 PM.