See also: Eras of Play
22 to 32 Years before A New Hope
A campaign set in this Era focuses on the slow decline and corruption of The Republic. As The Phantom Menace comes to an end, the future for the galaxy looks bright. The charismatic and popular Palpatine has been elected as Supreme Chancellor, The Trade Federation has seemingly been dismantled, and the Jedi Knights are at their peak of power and influence. However, there's a sinister shadow creeping across the galaxy. The vile Sith have returned. Crime is on the rise. Politicians continue to bicker and look after their own petty interests. Nothing is as it seems.
The Phantom Menace unfolds with a galaxy torn asunder by strife, hatred, and greed. Led by a charismatic Separatist named Count Dooku, thousands of worlds have broken away from The Republic. This "Confederacy of Independent Systems" wants to free itself from the yoke of the corrupt Senate, unaware that their galactic insurrection could spell the rise of an even greater evil.
As war foments and erupts between The Republic and The Separatists, plenty of opportunities for adventure present themselves. Heroes working for the Supreme Chancellor, The Jedi Council, or Count Dooku might undertake assignments to stem the tide of decay that grows stronger with every passing year. Remember that no matter what you or your players may think they know about Chancellor Palpatine, most people living in this Era consider Palpatine a good, fair leader and the best hope of The Republic. His true machinations have yet to reveal themselves. Similarly, Count Dooku seems to have the best interests of the galaxy at heart. Under his august leadership, he seeks a galaxy restored to order and prosperity. No one suspects that this former Jedi Master has fallen to The Dark Side of The Force.
During the Era, all Species are equal. For every Human senator, there are many more alien Species on the Senate. Some Species from later Eras haven't been encountered yet (Such as Ewoks), and some have made only cursory visits to the galaxy (Such as the advance scouts from the Yuuzhan Vong). The order of the Jedi Knights is held together by the Jedi Council, and some ten thousand Knights roam the galaxy as the defenders of The Republic. Many more Force-sensitive beings train in Jedi Academies throughout The Republic, each hoping to be selected as a Padawan Learner. Those who aren't selected for advanced training use the skills they have acquired to help The Republic in some other way. Some, for example, become farmers in the Agri-Corps or healers in the Medi-Corps.
Corrupt officials, various criminals, evil corporations, assassins, petty warlords, and dark Jedi abound in this time frame. New worlds still await discovery, and new alien Species are encountered all the time. Any of these topics can become the seeds for great adventures. Remember also the Jedi Council wants to learn more about the new Sith menace. From it's chamber high atop the Jedi Temple in Coruscant, the capital world of The Republic, the Jedi Council quietly directs key members of the Jedi order to investigate incidents that might somehow be tied to the Sith. Although the Sith started as an empire controlled by corrupt Jedi, eventually Darth Bane altered the nature of the Sith forever. He dictated the rule of the new Sith order: there could only be two Sith at any time, a Master and an Apprentice. This doesn't limit the number of followers and lackeys The Sith could utilize, just the number of actual Sith.
In Revenge of the Sith, Chancellor Palpatine reveals to Anakin Skywalker that he is, in fact, the Sith Lord Darth Sidious. By this time, he has already lost two Apprentices (Darth Maul and Darth Tyranus) battling the Jedi. However, he creates an apparent crisis that encourages the senators of The Republic to vote him permanent powers, making him Emperor of the galaxy. Darth Sidious strikes down the Jedi with with his new clone trooper army; and takes Anakin Skywalker as his new Apprentice, Darth Vader. His victory nearly complete, Darth Sidious sets Darth Vader on a path to hunt down the remaining Jedi while he sweeps away the last vestiges of The Old Republic. Heroes of this time might be Jedi on the run, or fledgling members of what will eventually become The Rebel Alliance.