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What is known about the Rivenese? Their culture and longterm history

#1 User is offline   tbr 

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 05:57 AM

The Rivenese culture always felt like one of the least fleshed out aspects of Riven. A somewhat cliché image of a "primitive culture" which, unlike the D'ni civilization, had no very interesting features or any real identity.

I don't get the impression that the designers ever really sat down and thought through what the history and culture of the Rivenese really was. What did they believe, what did their society look like pre-Gehn, what was their history? Did they have any sort of technology, knowledge of advanced mathematics etc? That they were able to build the animal stone ring says they must have had some elaborate machine building skills. I haven't read Book of Atrus, but I understand that it at least partly takes place in Riven. Does it, or any other sources I don't know of, elaborate on these things?

Also: do we know anything about the stability of the world before Gehn came there? Or did it start to deteriorate only then? Otherwise, is it possible that the world/civilization was much, much larger in the past, but over generations, islands have split, sunk and disappeared?
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#2 User is offline   Talashar 

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 07:55 AM

The Book of Atrus doesn't tell us a lot, as the focus pretty much remains on Atrus and Gehn. We do know that the Rivenese practiced metallurgy, but little else (excluding the aspects of society that Gehn introduced).

It's possible that Riven suffered the effects of its instability before Gehn arrived, which could explain the Age's name (assuming that Riven is an English translation of a D'ni translation of a Rivenese original, and not just a coincidence).
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#3 User is offline   A'Reandal 

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 09:15 PM

I understand your frustration.

Most of the sparse information about the Riven inhabitants is in the journals from the game. But, you knew that.

The journal Atrus hands you before you link to Riven states the Age was unstable when Gehn wrote it and only got worse. He made it sound like it was doomed to fall apart from the beginning. Catherine’s journal mentions the same thing and that the 5 islands were one land mass before Gehn first visited Riven.

Gehn gives a very slanted view of the inhabitants of Age 5, as he calls it, in his journals but you probably took much if not all of those opinions with a grain of salt. He also gives no information about them before he arrived and subjugated them.

Catherine gives no real pre-Gehn information about the Rivenese society in her journal.

I know of no other sources of information on the Rivenese other than the journals and The Book of Atrus. And it’s been so many years since I read it I don’t remember most of that info. But I always listen to Talashar. If he says there is no real information in The Book of Atrus, you can believe him.
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#4 User is offline   Talashar 

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 06:12 AM

View PostA, on 03 January 2013 - 09:15 PM, said:

But I always listen to Talashar. If she says there is no real information in The Book of Atrus, you can believe her.


Now I need to check the book again to make sure I haven't overlooked anything! (He and him, though, not she and her.)
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#5 User is offline   Capella 

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 08:08 AM

All of the Myst books lens very closely on Atrus' family's experiences and give us very little of the broader cultural contexts; while we know more about D'ni than Riven, I've always been upset at the fact that Book of Ti'ana gives limited insight into anything that isn't two privileged guildsmen. But basically, Talashar and A'Reandal are correct, and anything we know about Riven pre-Gehn is mostly inferential. That said, it could be fun to sit down and try to figure out as much as we can! I've included two minor speculations below.

-Their religion likely contained animist elements, given things such as the importance associated to many of the local animals and the building of totems to the feared wahrk.

-Their subsistence pattern was likely fishing and possibly minor horticulture. We have evidence of the former in the forms of the hanging drying fish, and while we don't have direct evidence of the latter, many island societies take to growing what they can where they can to supplement their diet and gain more control than just random gathering can give. I'd be interested if knowing any of the jungle plants had food or medicinal uses, and if so, were they allowed to grow wild or deliberately cultivated?
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#6 User is offline   A'Reandal 

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 08:52 PM

View PostTalashar, on 04 January 2013 - 06:12 AM, said:

(He and him, though, not she and her.)


"she"? "her"? Did I type she and her? um. hmmm. Yes I did. :um:

:: Tries to compensate by editing the above post and then slinks into a dark corner of the Library::
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