The Darksaber was an ancient, black-bladed lightsaber. Unlike most other lightsabers, the Darksaber's blade was nearly flat, thin, and curved to a point more typical of a metallic sword. The black core of the blade appeared to draw in all surrounding light and color, leaving a faint white, electrical aura along its edges, it hummed with a higher-pitched whine than its more common lightsaber counterparts when the blade was active, and made a sound like a whistle when it was swung. Once held by the Jedi Order, during a period of collapse in the Galactic Republic's power, the Darksaber was stolen by members of the Mandalorian warrior clans. Over time, the black lightsaber was passed down through generations of the Vizsla clan, and when Tor Vizsla founded the radical Mandalorian splinter group known as the Death Watch, he chose the Darksaber as the symbol of his authority as the sect's Secret Mandalore.
Upon Tor Vizsla's death, the ancient blade was entrusted to his clan kinsman Pre Vizsla, the current leader of Death Watch, and reigned as the Secret Mandalore well into the pan-galactic Clone Wars. Early in the war, the Darksaber was brought against the Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi in a duel on Mandalore's moon, Concordia. Though Vizsla's skill with the black blade was such that he could fight evenly with Kenobi for a time, the ancient lightsaber could not defend Vizsla from the Jedi Master's Force powers. Only the timely intervention of Vizsla's Death Watch troops ensured their leader's victory by forcing Kenobi to retreat. After Death Watch was banished from the Mandalore system, Vizsla led his people to the planet Carlac. There, the Death Watch leader came into conflict with the Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano whom Vizsla attempted to kill with the Darksaber. After a short but heated bout, the young Jedi fled from Vizsla, and escaped the world with her life.
In 20 BBY, Vizsla led the Death Watch into an alliance with the Sith Lords Darth Maul and Savage Opress, assembling a criminal army with which they were able to bring down the leaders of the pacifistic New Mandalorians. When Vizsla betrayed the Sith in the wake of their victory, Maul challenged the Mandalorian soldier to single combat for leadership, and upon killing Vizsla after a fierce struggle, Maul claimed the Darksaber as his own, and with it leadership over Death Watch. Only weeks later, Maul was forced to use the Darksaber in a duel against his former master, the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Sidious, who sought to bring the renegade Sith Lord back under his control. Despite wielding the Darksaber alongside his own red-bladed lightsaber, Maul was defeated and subdued by Sidious.