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I mean, in the old days, the ancient Sith could achieve incredible feats, such as eliminating all life on a planet or triggering a solar flare. While in the New Republic era, none of this can be accomplished by the most powerful Force user. Even for Yoda, it is laborious to lift a small X-Wing fighter.

So does the strength of the Force change with time?

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    Which specific incidents are you referring to? If they're the ones I'm thinking of, the short answer is that the Sith cheat. (Also, Yoda was about a berjillion years old. Everything is laborious for him.)
    – Cadence
    Jul 24, 2022 at 14:42
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    Are we counting Legends here? Canon? Both? Dragging a Star Destroyer out of the sky might seem to count as an "incredible feat", for example. As is sending a physical manifestation of oneself across interstellar distances to engage in lightsaber combat, or literally anything the Bendu was able to do to the Empire in Rebels. Jul 24, 2022 at 14:57
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    I would object to the statement that lifting the X-Wing was 'laborious' to Yoda. He was nearing the end of his life, and he did it without shuddering or breaking a sweat. It was a smooth, even motion. Yes, it was slow, but that's because he didn't want to break the ship by suddenly yanking it out of the muck. Jul 25, 2022 at 4:00

3 Answers 3

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I am answering with taking into account Legends, as there are not a lot of canon sources I know regarding this and you mentioned Legends sources (Darth Nihilus).

The studies of the Sith, since the introduction of the Rule of Two, were more covert compared to those you named. You named the feat of Darth Nihilus of consuming the force on a planet:

Nihilus was responsible for the devastation of the planet Katarr in 3952 BBY, killing and absorbing the Force energy of the Jedi at the Conclave on Katarr along with every other living thing on the world save one Miraluka woman named Visas Marr. Marr was collected from the surface and Nihilus began to train her as his Shadow Hand.

From the Fandom article on Darth Nihilus

One other remarkable feat of him: lifting a starship. From aforementioned article:

Nihilus could also use the Force to lift starships, as he did on Malachor V with the Ravager.

It is a comparable feat to Galen Marak, also known as Starkiller, who brought down a Star Destroyer:

As for Darth Nihilus feat of consuming the force of an entire planet, it was matched by Darth Plageuis feat of controlling life:

According to Darth Sidious, Darth Plagueis was a powerful Sith Lord who was able to use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life, a power that was reportedly to be extremely rare for one sensitive to the Force to possess, and could even be used by certain Sith Lords to prolong or even cheat death. Utilizing this ability, Plagueis was able to conduct unnatural experimentations in his bid to discover immortality.

From the Fandom article on Darth Plageuis

So, the Sith did not become less powerful but more covert. As for Jedis, Luke's powers where comparable:

In 43.5 ABY, Skywalker learned the "lightning-rod" technique Ayna-seff, which he use to safely travel through the Kathol Rift. After spending time with the Aing-Tii, Luke was taught the Fold space ability which allowed him to teleport objects vast distances.

From the Fandom article on Luke Skywalker (Legends)

So, it's not that the Force became less potent and more that knowledge was forgotten.

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    Movies: We can lift and push stuff with our mind that we could lift and push normally; heavier if we really focus on it. Books: lol, stars go boom. There's a massive gap in the canon here in these portrayals that make all the books and such feel like a teenager's overeager fanfiction. Jul 25, 2022 at 1:29
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    @zibadawatimmy its the typical problem of escalation - the movies have the issue with ships, the books have the issue with Force abilities. X is this big/strong/powerful, so its successor mcguffin needs to be even bigger/stronger/more powerful.
    – Moo
    Jul 25, 2022 at 3:32
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    @zibadawatimmy Plus, the films have to consider the viewer. It's easy and impressive to display a Jedi lifting stuff around with his mind. It's less impressive watching a Sith consume the force from an entire planet... you need to visually display how to force is transferred, but that's not how the force works.
    – Shade
    Jul 25, 2022 at 6:38
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    @Shade: Alternately, you can just have someone narrate/explain what's happening... but "telling" is generally less interesting than "showing".
    – V2Blast
    Jul 26, 2022 at 2:23
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    @Shade That's an easy thing to display, and season 6 of Clone Wars did it several times. And lots of visual media have portrayed "sucking the life force out of things" before, giving lots of standard tropes that everybody will understand; plants rapidly wilting, animals/humans rapidly aging (or at least dehydrating) and becoming dust, etc. We've had succubi doing that for centuries. Jul 26, 2022 at 6:14
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An extract from an answer on Reddit:

The Ancient Sith possessed a much deeper understanding of the Dark Side than the Cargo Cult Sith did, because their civilization was dedicated to studying it, whereas the Dark Jedi were mostly just picking through the ashes. It's the Cargo Cult Sith that Kreia is referring when she speaks of "modern" Sith.

The New Sith are tricky to rate in terms of power relative to the previous groups.

The Banian Sith were by far the most powerful Sith organization in the galaxy's history, eventually resulting in Darth Sidious, who is canonically the most powerful Sith Lord ever in both Canon and Legends.

While according This video : The modern sith weren't able to get as strong as the ancient sith as they were plagued with inner turmoil- that is all the siths were fighting for their own personal motives and acted as more of warlords while the ancient sith spent all their time in studying the ways of the dark side and hence became more powerful.

The Subreddit that I Mentioned

Overall according to me - The modern Sith were more power hungry andweren't exactly pure sith, while the ancient sith were more determined to learn the ways of the force and explore the dark side and hence learnt new tricks along the way. (This is my personal opinion)

As for the Jedi, you mentioned Yoda but I guess his age and the numerous years in exile play a factor in him having problems lifting a x wing

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The Force never changes.

The Force is the same within time. Past, present and future.

"The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together." ~ Obi-Wan Kenobi

The manifestation of the force through physical vessels (like Jedi and Sith) shall depend on the devotion and understanding of those force sensitive embodiments in order to develop skills and manifest its pure essence and power which is infinite.

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