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OOC Mass Effect 4: The FAQ/OOC/Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Role Playing Resource' started by Saintheart, Dec 3, 2012.

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  1. spycoder9 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 23, 2008
    star 4
    I think I'm gonna go Red. Less people have posted CS's there, and besides, the character I have in mind is a darker one.
  2. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    Also, what's your take on biotics?
  3. HanSolo29 Manager Emeritus + Official Star Wars Artist

    Member Since:
    Apr 13, 2001
    star 6
    This has been on my mind all day and I think I'm going to give this a whirl.

    Do you have any recommendations for a newbie in terms of choosing Red or Blue?
  4. TheSithGirly Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2007
    star 3
    I would say Red is less building on the plot of the games, as the Reapers are gone. But that´s just my feeling. My proto-CSes and Sirak´s have been send in and we´re so crazy to try and do both games.
  5. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 6
    Blue's basically got a giant, plot-dependent Sword of Damocles, whereas Red had all of its horrors already unleashed. Hard to say, really, although there's always the ME Wiki if you get really befuddled.
  6. BLemelisk Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 19, 2003
    star 4
    Last edited by BLemelisk, Dec 5, 2012
  7. TheSithGirly Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2007
    star 3
    So decision made, Sirak and I will be in both . . . with the same characters. Well, if Saint agrees and approves, of course. And they will both be reprisals from ASHEN.
  8. Mitth_Fisto Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 5
    Well. This isn't confusing. . .so those mood lamps are actually an alien race?

    Nope, not confusing at all.
    HanSolo29 likes this.
  9. TheSithGirly Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2007
    star 3
    The Reapers were an machine race who came to the universe in cycles to wipe out all organic life. Mass Effect basically showed Commander Shepard becoming aware of the danger, fighting it and finally uniting the galaxy against it, when the Reapers arrived and began an all out apocalyptic war against everybody. If that was your question. If not ignore my answer. :p
  10. Jedi_padawan_leigh Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 13, 2003
    star 4
    I thought Mitth was refering to the Hanar :p
  11. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Well, since it's freeform rather than mechanical I tend to think it can work similarly to how we'd handle freeform Force powers in SW games. As a general rule, if your character is biotic -- and outside the asari they're pretty rare if not feared -- then pick two biotic abilities, one of which you're better at than the other, and use them judiciously. Time and investment in character building can result in others as the game goes on.

    Or has it? [face_devil]

    Next up: brief summary of the Mass Effect universe, starting with the races first.
  12. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    For those of you new to the franchise, the Mass Effect series of games is basically the story of our galaxy's struggle to defeat the Reapers, an extracosmic threat intent on wiping out all life in the galaxy. On a smaller scale, it was much more about the struggles of the protagonist -- Commander Shepard, a human male or female at your choice -- to unite the galaxy to stand against the Reapers, and the moral choices s/he had to make to reach that goal. The games took place literally across the fully length of our own Milky Way galaxy.

    But let's talk about the races of the galaxy first.

    Turian: A military-based, hierarchical species based loosely on clans with a strong sense of community service. Solid fighters, not quite as nutty as Mandalorians or as elite as, say, the Noghri, these guys basically have the biggest military in the galaxy and consequently make up the backbone of the galaxy's peacekeeping forces. Best way of thinking of them is as a Space Roman Empire. Humanity has somewhat chilly relations with the turians, mainly because when we first blundered into galactic society, we wound up fighting a war against them. Tend to believe in overwhelming military response as their default strategy.

    Salarian: Basically, the dirty tricks nerds of the galaxy. High speed metabolism, photographic memories, resemble stretched-out frogs in essence. They don't have a big military, so what they lack in numbers they make up for in espionage, dirty tricks, special forces teams (the STG), and scientific acumen. They're the pre-eminent researchers and inventors of the galaxy. Perhaps their "greatest" invention was to first technologically elevate the Krogan species ... and then engage in near-genocide by creating a genetic sterility plague called the genophage when the Krogan proved impossible to control.

    Asari: Hot blue-skinned female alien fanservice. All right, it's a bit more complex than that. The asari are monogender (appearing female) and are well known for their eloquence and diplomacy. They can mate with any other species (yes) and in fact must do so given their particular form of reproduction. They're one of the oldest species in the galaxy to have spaceflight, and go through three distinct maturing phases: Maiden, Matron, and Matriarch, all with different characteristics. Oh, and most of them have biotic talent (read: Force; space magic, we'll get to that).

    Quarian: Quarians can be summed up as "Battlestar Galactica ripoff". About 300 years ago, the Quarians did something rather silly: when their machines started to gain consciousness (asking, in particular, "Does this unit have a soul?") they tried to destroy them. As James Cameron always reminds us, this was a bad idea. The Quarians lost the resulting war to their machines -- which called themselves the "Geth" -- and were forced to take to a roaming, vagabond fleet of 50,000 ships or so. In that time, the Quarians evolved such that they could no longer leave their environment suits -- exposure to naked atmosphere invites death to a Quarian because their immune systems have been compromised from living so long in sterile ship environments. (By the time of our game, ME 4, they've got their homeworld back.) They're genuises with technological and synthetic intelligences, though.

    Geth: See above about Quarians. A race of networked artificial intelligences. When you see a Geth walking around, it's actually more like 1,760 sentient programs in the one body - if not more, since all Geth are linked to a sort of communal mind. By the time of Mass Effect 3, though, they've discovered individuality and been the subject of a devastating civil war over whether or not to support the Reapers -- who are themselves machines, but much, much older.

    Krogan: Remember how I said the turians aren't combat freaks? That would be because these guys are. Krogans are basically bipedal crocodiles, combat-mad frontline fighters who love to kill things. And they're very, very good at it mainly because of an incredibly tough physiology. Shoot them in the lung, and you only have to get three more before they stop breahting. Skitz out their nervous system, and you have to figure out how to similarly skitz out theoir backup one. There's a long story to why these guys haven't already overrun the entire galaxy, but in summary it was because (a) they didn't have spaceflight until the salarians intervened and (b) after they got it and won the Rachni War with it, the salarians and turians responded with a sterility plague called the genophage that kept the krogan under control. Of course, in the Blue Thread ... there are rumours the genophage has now been cured.

    Hanar: Space jellyfish. Really that's about as far as one needs to go. They also worship an extinct species -- the Protheans -- which they call the Enkindlers. Intensely polite when speaking, and do a lot of their communication nonverbally by bioluminescence. Notable for sheltering the Drell (see below).

    Drell: Reptile-like humanoid race rescued from their dying homeworld by the Hanar and transplanted to the Hanar homeworld of Kah'je. The Drell are fiercely loyal to the Hanar as a result, and do a lot of the physical work that Hanar find difficult or impossible. Notable for eidetic memory, meaning they remember everything they ever did with perfect clarity and can relive it as if they were still there.

    Volus: Basically, "short, fat merchants who wheeze a lot in full-body suits and are there more or less for comedic value."

    Elcor: Space elephants, although one intriguing item in their makeup is that because their emotional states are so subtle and depend on nonverbal cues, they tend to communicate with others by prefacing their remarks with the emotion they are feeling at that point. For example: "With barely controlled terror: very well, intimidating human. You may have a discount at my store."

    Rachni: You won't see these guys as characters. Essentially, they're a ripoff of the Buggers in the Ender's Game series - an insectoid hive race which is fiercely destructive in battle and which couldn't be communicated with because nobody knew how. By the time of the Mass Effect games, they're presumed wiped out, exterminated. Indeed, the Rachni are the reason the Krogan were elevated technologically -- unlike turians, salarians, or asari, the krogan could withstand the brutal environments of the Rachni homeworlds, so not for nothing is it said the krogan won the Rachni War for the galaxy. No known Rachni worlds exist.

    Vorcha: Space goblins, more or less, played more or less like space rats or scavengers. Their signature ability is that they can regenerate wounds quickly, but otherwise they're not a terribly smart or enlightened civilisation - sort of like the Krogan but less genteel. No specific space or homeworld as such.

    Batarians: In summary, space goons. Six eyes, obviously, and a tendency to take and sell slaves a lot. Humanity's often warred with the Batarians since we apparently occupy the space next door to their own worlds. For whatever reason, in the Mass Effect series the Batarians seemed to wind up as Shepard's bitch a lot - culminating in him being responsible for actually obliterating one of their colonies with 300,000 Batarians present. (Well, not him as such - rather, by the expedient of crashing an asteroid into a mass relay, which basically set off a supernova-level explosion.)

    Collectors and the Yahg: Irrelevant to our current exercise. Also much more fun if you know nothing about them before playing Mass Effect 2.

    Human: Take a look in the mirror. There's one! Basically, humanity is seen with some distrust or trepidation by the galaxy at large, even in spite of Shepard's role in saving the galaxy from the Reapers. In essence, humanity in the Mass Effect universe is somewhat similar to the krogan in that when we discovered (a) ruins on Mars of a vanished civilisation, i.e. the Protheans, and then (b) discovered that Charon was in fact a hyperspace gate called a "Mass Relay", human progress was fastforwarded a good 150 years or so. Humans are respected in the galaxy as dangerous rather than civilised - after all, humanity won, or at least prevailed, in our first war with the turians, which was our first with an alien race and against the strongest military of the galaxy to boot. Humanity is usually referred to as "The Alliance", said alliance being the alliance of Earth and all the various colony worlds under one banner.

    Phew! Next time: the Reapers, the Mass Relays, the Citadel, and the Protheans.
    Last edited by Saintheart, Dec 5, 2012
    DarthXan318 likes this.
  13. Reynar_Tedros Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 3, 2006
    star 6
    Noooooo. I don't want to turn this into a debate, but I have to totally disagree here. If you want play the Mass Effect games, start at the beginning. Jumping in with 2, while doable, would be doing yourself a disservice (and contradicts the stance of easing players into the universe). The original has aged just fine and is easily my favorite of the trilogy. (Note: ANH is my favorite Star Wars movie)

    Just my two cents! :D
  14. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Almost missed this one -- yes, a C-Sec officer would still fit in there. The Citadel's still in Earth orbit, and galactic society is still functioning... :)
  15. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Right, let's get onto the second tier of stuff...the enemy. Or, rather, the Reapers. Before we get there, though, some explanation of how things work in the galaxy...

    Round, round, get around, I get around...
    There are two main ways of getting from one star system to another: FTL drive, or the Mass Relay system. Both rely, however, on the same core concept: the (dum te dum dum) Mass Effect.

    Basically, you take a lump of a substance called Element Zero, or eezo. (Or, really, handwavium. Or Unobtainum.) When you pass electric current through it, Element Zero causes the mass of objects to be altered, up or down depending on whether the current is positive or negative. Now, since Einstein's famous E = mc squared has that little item 'm' in it representing mass, if you take mass right down to zero (or beyond) you can thereby travel at faster than the speed of light. This is what the civilisations of the galaxy call the Mass Effect.

    Normal FTL drives do precisely this, the "hyperdrive" in question being called a ship's Mass Effect Core, but either way the travel is still slow: you're looking at months to get between stars on conventional drives. So how does galactic civilisation hold together?

    The short answer: the Mass Relay system. See, when civilisations started using spaceflight, close to their homeworlds they would invariably run into big manufactured constructs hanging in space that looked like this:

    [IMG]

    In Earth's case, one was discovered as being Charon. These are the mass relays, basically a sort of hyperspace subway system for the galaxy. Each one of these things, through technology that hasn't been fully worked out, allows a ship to get slingshot from one mass relay to another in a matter of seconds (or indeed through a linked line of mass relays in a matter of seconds, rather like staying on the Downtown Line for a number of stations until you get off at the one you want.)

    They function on the mass effect principle, but at a truly gargantuan scale. And (until the Mass Effect series) nobody knows precisely when or who built them. Each mass relay is partnered with another, or at least believed to be, and they can be found across the entire galaxy at suspiciously convenient locations - as in, a hop, step, and a jump from the home planets of most of the galaxy's current species.

    Also, a large number of mass relays tend to dump one out in the Serpent Nebula, a massive cloud towards the middle of the galaxy, and pretty close to another massive construction hanging in space: the Citadel.

    [IMG]

    A massive space station, 44 kilometres wide and again built by persons unknown to galactic civilisation, the Citadel naturally became the hub of galactic civilsation by virtue of its position at more or less the centre of the mass relay network. This all happened thousands of years ago, needless to say -- earth has only been aware of galactic civilisations for 30 150-odd years at the time of the series. As one salarian puts it, indicating the scale of the society involved: "You humans have been transmitting your digital data to the stars for about one hundred years. We've been sending communications to and from the Citadel for two thousand."

    It's a TRAP!
    This is where the Reapers come into it. The Reapers, as SithGirly said, are a machine(ish) race that comes to the Milky Way every fifty thousand years or so to wipe out all advanced sentient life -- i.e. all starfaring galactic civilisation -- and allow it to begin again from the ground up. It is a cycle that has repeated itself literally for millennia, and without any species ever catching on -- mainly because the Reapers have become exceedingly efficient at daisycutting entire galaxies of civilisations.

    The Reapers themselves are massive, two-kilometre long sentient vessels, Cthulhu-esque ships made of the most durable stuff imaginable -- and conventionally unbeatable in battle. The Reapers have been doing this for at least three hundred cycles, so for at least millions of years. And at the opening of the Mass Effect series, they're about to do it again.

    At the end of the Mass Effect series, Shepard has indeed achieved his aim of stopping the Reapers: by either finding a way to control the Reapers themselves (the "Blue Thread"); by finding a way to destroy the Reapers (the "Red Thread") or taking a third option (which we won't be doing) of combining all synthetic and organic life in galaxy at the DNA level, thus ascending all life to a higher phase of evolution.

    Why the Reapers do what they do is a matter of a lot of rotten tomatoes being thrown at Bioware debate. The official line is that the Reapers harvest and preserve galactic species to forestall synthetic lifeforms eradicating organic life in the galaxy. The Quarian/Geth conflict is a microcosm of this: the Reapers believe synthetic AIs will always rebel and destroy their creators, so the Reapers must harvest all organic life in the galaxy to prevent a full extinction of organic life altogether in a cataclysmic organic/synthetic war.

    (Yes, I know it sounds counterintuitive. Needless to say there has been a massive chunk of bandwidth consumed over the years as people try to unscramble this Gordian Knot of a logic problem, but possibly the best rationale for this mad logic is to say the Reapers are, or were, operating on a continuous loop which the creators did not intend.)

    In essence, the mass relay system and the Citadel are, or were, a giant trap for the sentient civilisations of the galaxy: when the Reapers detect that the Mass Relay System was being used, and that the Citadel has become the hub of the galaxy, they know the time for reaping has come again and they engage in their standard plan: the entire Reaper fleet jumps in from the dark space between galaxies via a mass relay to the Citadel, smashes the centre of galactic civilisation, and from there branches out to exterminate every civilisation in the galaxy.

    The Protheans
    Where the Protheans come into it is that they were the species in the cycle prior to ours. 50,000 years ago, they were the dominant galactic civilisation, and the Reapers eradicated them - but unlike most other species, the Protheans had a bit more success against the Reapers. For one thing, they figured out the Reapers existed and how the cycles worked. They also managed to buy enough time for themselves to cast figurative "messages in bottles" to future generations they knew would arise after they were gone - warnings about the existence of the Reapers, warnings that Commander Shepard managed to comprehend in time to do something about it. Prothean ruins can be found all across the galaxy. It is generally believed - mistakenly - that the mass relays and the Citadel were Prothean constructions. Nothing could be further from the truth: they are Reaper constructions, part of the galactic trap the Reapers created for sentient life in the galaxy.

    Making sense so far?
    Last edited by Saintheart, Dec 5, 2012
  16. Mitth_Fisto Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 5
    Enough that I do not feel like I am about to go bald from this.
  17. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Here's a picture of the various species. I see I forgot a race or two, but we'll get to them - they're not significant (and I've never heard of a space cow, I must say.)

    [IMG]
  18. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    One last big-ish subject, and that'll do for now.

    Basically, the term biotics. It's the Mass Effect universe's equivalent of space magic or telekinesis in essence.

    How it works is like this: because eezo allows you to lower mass and generate fields in which mass behaves differently than it otherwise would, exposure to Element Zero before birth sometimes causes eezo to be embedded within body tissues. Since the body's central nervous system is electrical in nature, it is therefore possible to pass a current through the eezo in the body, thus generating a small mass effect field - which, if amplified with certain equipment, can then be used for things like telekinesis and the like. Asari are unique in the cosoms in that all of them have biotic ability though not all go on to develop it. All other species have exceedingly rare ratios of individuals with biotic abilities, and still fewer who can access them: among humans, only one in ten eezo-exposed infants will develop biotic abilities, and then those abilities are not permanent. That's if you leave aside the fact that eezo exposure is generally unharmful, but in "other-than-general" cases can cause brain tumours or horrific physical mutations. Not all measures intended at raising biotic abilit in humans in particular have been ethical, to say the least.

    Biotic abilities fall into three general categories: Telekinesis, the use of mass-lowering fields to lift or hurl objects; Kinetic Fields, mass-raising fields to immobilize objects (in combat, usually enemy projectiles or enemies themselves); and Spatial Distortion, the creation of shifting mass-effect fields which rip apart any objects caught within them. Biotic abilities are activated using a technique called "physical mnemonics", in which the biotic uses a physical gesture to cause neurons to fire in a certain sequence, sending an electrical charge through their eezo nodules and creating the desired effect.
    Last edited by Saintheart, Dec 5, 2012
  19. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
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    TAKE A SHOT!
  20. Skywalker_T-65 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2009
    star 6
    ...
    ...
    ...

    Whelp...if I didn't already know most of this it would definitely be useful. And still is useful, since it gives me a model to work with if I ever get around to a Stargate game :p


    (also, working on a CS...still not sure on joining, but I want to be prepared if I do jump in ;) )
  21. Penguinator RPF Modinator and Batmanager

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    Dude, join or don't join, it's that simple.
  22. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Or not-don't join, or not-not-join. It's as simple as that.

    :D :D
  23. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    Dude, we're first order, ~(~p) <=> p <=> ~~p.
  24. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
  25. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    That's painfully obvious, Mr. Dog - everyone knows you should keep beverages a safe distance from any equipment in a wet chemicals lab.
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