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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:04 am 
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Just tonight I finished a re-read of the Book of Ti'ana, which always sparks all kinds of Myst-related thoughts, and one of those occurred to me just now. But first, something of a history lesson. Possible spoilers ahead.

When Garternay, the home of the Ronay, ancestors of the D'ni, was found to be unstable for their civilization, a mass exodus to countless Ages was organized to find new homes for the people. Most went to worlds of peace and plenty, like Terahnee, while one young Writer named Ri'neref guided his following to the familiar Cavern we know today. Ri'neref's following was based on a more fundamentalist view of the Art, which refused to take advantage of its power and instead used it only for the glory of the Maker. To ensure his people would not be guided to destructive excess as the Ronay perhaps had been, he deliberately wrote the Book of Earth to link to the Cavern, knowing it would humble his people and promote a life of simplicity and patience. Even with the vast tracts of fertile, still-pristine land on the surface, no effort at those times was made to leave the Cavern except by those few maintainers who reputedly went missing when the ventilation fans were installed. This Cavern was to host an advanced civilization of immensely powerful people for nearly 8,000 years, unprecedented by the human race. Despite the fall, one can say that D'ni as Ri'neref envisioned it was a great success, linking to thousands of Ages while promoting peace and order in its own people and all those of the Great Tree.

Fast-forward to Atrus, heir to the D'ni, struggling to find his scattered people and restore something of what they lost some thirty or forty years before. His initial plan was to collect the D'ni from their refuge Ages and rebuild the Cavern to once again support the D'ni civilization, but he realized that sifting through the ashes of what was would only belittle those who remained. Perhaps it was his visit to Terahnee, where the excess and power-lust of the Ronay was left to roam free in a paradise world, which inspired him to Write a new Age where the D'ni could grow again. But as we see at last when the Bahro are freed from the Tablet, Atrus' Age of Releeshan would seem identical to the description of Terahnee, with the camp of New D'ni nestled in a fertile valley under a gentle sky.

Could it be that the gathered D'ni and Ahrotantee, given a world where there is a natural bounty for all, will follow the path of the Ronay and be driven to a bloated, wounded culture? Or might they simply dissipate, living as loose tribes and bands, gathering their sustenance from the land? After all, they are the heirs to what is arguably the greatest power a civilization could have - the power to go anywhere at the blink of an eye for any need that may arise. This power was checked by the natural restraints of the Cavern, by the need for both resources and security for the D'ni, but on Releeshan it becomes secondary to life, a mere curiosity more than a necessity for survival. Is it possible that Atrus, in attempting to save the D'ni and give them a home where all could be as one again, has sown the seeds for their eventual destruction or dissipation?

I meant this as a thought experiment, not a debate over canon, so please keep thoughts "in-cavern" and free from denial on the charge of no evidence. That said, please do tell me what you think, or if you think I'm wrong and foolish for saying such a thing. :P

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:55 am 
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As I recall, we were told that the Bahro War had reached Releeshahn, but that the D'ni there were in no danger - yet. Of course, one has to wonder how news from Releeshahn reached the DRC. Is Phil Henderson also living on Releeshahn, and, if so, was/is he in communication with, say, Dr. Watson?

Sooner or later, all Empires crumble and fall. Some take longer than others (witness China), but it does happen. The Bahro War is the wild card in the D'ni saga. We may have our answer sooner than expected.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 6:53 am 
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I was revisiting the ages of Myst III recently. In-game, Atrus gives you the journal he kept while planning and writing Releeshan (this happens in the first several minutes of play so hopefully this isn't a big spoiler to anyone.)

[Reveal] Spoiler: Within the journal Atrus gives several clues about the design of Releeshan
Remember He first considers basing Releeshan on Energy, fuel for motion. He reconsiders, thinking nature would form a better base, promoting mutual dependance. Not wanting his age to spur too stagnant a society, Atrus looks to Dynamic forces as a base with the goal that these forces will spur change. (To anyone who played Myst III these should be familiar from the three lesson ages.)

The Following is an excerpt from Atrus' journal about what he finally decides as a base for Releeshan.

I cannot believe I did not see it before! All this time I have been struggling to describe the perfect Age for the D'ni. I have considered and then rejected several underlying concepts which I felt might best set the course for their future - as if I alone should determine how D'ni civilization will grow! In my own way, I have become as egotistical as my father!

In truth, I owe this realization to Catherine. Sensing my indecision about the new Age, she led me on a walk around D'ni. Salvaging efforts were well underway, with teams of people scouring the ruined harbor district. As I watched my D'ni kinsmen deciding which parts of their culture to retain, I realized they do not need me to determine their future. They are quite capable of setting its course by themselves, regardless of what Age I write!

This realization has opened my eyes to the best way of approaching my task. I no longer need to worry about which underlying concept—energy, nature, or dynamic forces—I should make prevalent in the Age. Rather, I must strive to include them all. I must write a balance of systems into the descriptive Book, enough so that the D'ni people will constantly be challenged to attain their ultimate potential. As Grandmother often pointed out to me when we spoke about Ages back on Myst, balanced systems stimulate civilizations.


Despite the seemingly beautiful setting we see in Myst V, with a balance of systems, hopefully Releeshan will provide the future motion, mutual dependance, and change needed for a civilization to prosper. Perhaps there are harsh seasonal differences such as drastic winter snow or high spring flooding which challenge the area. Perhaps the age has very few mineral resources available or maybe very small oasis of abundance in an otherwise desert planet. I don't know, but from the sound of the journal, it did not seem like Atrus was writing a pristine paradise just like Terahnee.

You would have thought he had learned Terahnee's lesson after his visit there...


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 8:33 pm 
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You must remember that the tehranee and the D'ni are vastly different people.

Both were survivors of a cataclysmic event. However, the nature of those events are vastly different. The Tehranee survived the natural destruction of their word, while the D'ni were destroyed by a madman and a man full of false pride, jealousy, and anger. That difference spells a vastly different reaction and resulting attitudes.
The reaction of Artus and his companions in Tehranee speak strongly to this.

We must also remember that the teachings of Ri'neref are still very much a part of the D'ni, even at the end. I seem to remember a resurgence of belief in his original teachings near the end.

I think under the leadership of Atrus, and Yeesha (who, while she's a little loony, certainly understands what led to the downfall of the D'ni, and herself), Releeshan has the hope for a bright future.

However, as Atrus himself pointed out, a society must change over time or it will die. And who can say what changes the next 8000 years will see.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 9:09 pm 
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I was always fascinated by the fact that D'ni and Tehranee seemed to follow a similar 'predestined' path.

According to the Book of D'ni, When Atrus first arrived in Tehranee, and revealed that the D'ni civilization had been destroyed by a plague, the Tehranee were relieved to the point of celebration--- because they had read ancient prophecies that predicted a terrible plague that would destroy an empire, and they feared this prophecy was referring to Tehranee. Consequently, they were relieved when they became convinced that this ancient prediction must have actually referred to the fall of D'ni and not to their fate.

But later, a plague DID destroy Tehranee...

And then there was an uprising of their former slaves... but the slave uprising, rather that empower the former slaves, caused them to faction...

...in much the way the Bahro civil war is a war between former slaves who have become factions in opposition.

It suggests some kind of pattern, or else a shared destiny that followed ALL the Ronay into whatever world they inhabited.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 28, 2013 6:32 am 
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That is a very interesting observation. I hadn't seen that before. Both civilizations took an eerily similar path of destruction. However, history shows that many civilizations take similar paths that eventually leads to their doom. There are a lot of parallels of D'ni and Rome for example.

I would suggest that this cycle is easily explained by their common root culture. Although the D'ni rejected many of the tenants of the Ronay culture, it could not be completely removed. In fact, not long after Ri'neref died, beliefs in his teachings were token at best, and many other belief systems arose. Some of those likely were more similar to the Ronay culture than anything else.

But that is all in the past. We're talking about the few survivors of those events. Having experienced all that, would they be doomed to repeat the same failures as their ancestors?


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:24 am 
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This isn't exactly on-topic, but close...

I wonder if any D'ni (or other Ronay for that matter) actively colonized other ages. I know that the Ronay settled into the cavern and Tehranee, but did they expand out into other ages? I don't mean just visiting or working, but living there, raising a family, building a civilization, etc.

I suppose this happened to some extend after the plague hit the cavern. However that was more out of necessity, the few survivors fleeing to whatever safe havens they could. What I am thinking of is more along the lines of the Pilgrims or Pioneers. I imagine there would have been be a few D'ni, especially among the lower classes, who would be willing to emigrate to a different age for the prospect of a better life, more freedom, etc. As well, with more individuals scattered on more ages, the chances of a single cataclysm wiping out the entire civilization would be a lot less, the whole eggs in a basket idea.

Since it seems like this didn't happen, why? Government control of population movement? Or perhaps social mindsets that discouraged colonization? Something to think about.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:42 am 
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If they colonized ages, they would have gone to uninhabited ones, because they had "something" against ahrotahntee (non-D'ni/"outsiders"). Question is what qualifies as colonization. Teledahn and Er'cana have been used for agricultural purposes.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 12:01 pm 
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dgelessus wrote:
they had "something" against ahrotahntee (non-D'ni/"outsiders").
It was simply xenophobia and the belief that they were better than other races because they could write linking books.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 2:34 pm 
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Which could be a sign of better hope for Releeshan as it is founded by a mixed group of D'ni and non D'ni. So perhaps racial purity will not be such an issue. (to get all real world, what am I saying? I live in one of the mongrelest states in one of the mongrelest nations ever and we have plenty of racial prejudice)

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:05 pm 
Or they would remember that it was that prejudice that caused D'ni to fall.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 1:29 am 
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Shorah everyone,

Guybrush Threepwood wrote:
This isn't exactly on-topic, but close...

I wonder if any D'ni (or other Ronay for that matter) actively colonized other ages. I know that the Ronay settled into the cavern and Tehranee, but did they expand out into other ages? I don't mean just visiting or working, but living there, raising a family, building a civilization, etc.

I suppose this happened to some extend after the plague hit the cavern. However that was more out of necessity, the few survivors fleeing to whatever safe havens they could. What I am thinking of is more along the lines of the Pilgrims or Pioneers. I imagine there would have been be a few D'ni, especially among the lower classes, who would be willing to emigrate to a different age for the prospect of a better life, more freedom, etc. As well, with more individuals scattered on more ages, the chances of a single cataclysm wiping out the entire civilization would be a lot less, the whole eggs in a basket idea.

Since it seems like this didn't happen, why? Government control of population movement? Or perhaps social mindsets that discouraged colonization? Something to think about.

Here's some food for thought:

When the D'ni first linked to the Cavern roughly 10,000 years ago (7656 BCE or 9669 BP), humans on the surface were wandering hunter gatherers in the process of adapting to the end of the last ice age. The once prolific megafauna of the ice age that weren't already extinct were in the final throes of extinction (such as mammoths, mastodons, saber-toothed cats, and giant sloths). The global climate was changing dramatically and humanity's traditional way of life had to change as well.

Here in New Mexico, it wasn't a desert yet, but a wetter grassland at the lower elevations with pinon, juniper and oak woodlands covering the mountain terrains. This is the local surface world awaiting the D'ni upon their arrival. Although they are only legends today (which I think is likely deliberate on the part of the D'ni, to obfuscate this bit of their early history), it was rumored back then that some of the Maintainers who vetted the ventilation shafts breached the Terran surface and remained there. This happened little more than a century after the D'ni first arrived in the Cavern.

I think this legend is likely a true bit of D'ni history simply because it would explain a great deal. Although we can only speculate about how well-equipped these D'ni might have been to live on the surface back then (how many tools of the Art they had with them, how much collective knowledge and wisdom they had between them), it seems to me they would have taken such a step with forethought and reasonable preparation.

During the following millennia, humans became much more sophisticated and developed what we think of today as "civilization". Even if these D'ni were reduced to walking everywhere (at least until they could Write and secure a network of Linking Books), they had plenty of time to explore the surface world, teach some rudiments of civilization to the locals and set themselves up for a life as gods. Of course, it helps to live nearly ten times the number of years that the local humans do (keep in mind that our longer life spans today were rarer that long ago most probably because life in general was more hazardous--disease, accident, etc.).

I find it interesting (if not suggestive), that human civilization and the D'ni presence on Terra began at roughly the same time. Our ancient legends of visiting gods, the old traditions of god-kings and the later related obsession with "royal bloodedness" might even be a legacy of these ancient D'ni and their influence; our human adaptation of their cultural traditions. If these Maintainers had become somewhat disillusioned with Ri'neref's brave new world (or had even been fairly young opportunists who had never known Garternay), they would have found a vast and diverse world here populated by relatively ignorant inhabitants. Why Link to and exploit a known D'ni world when the one just a few miles above is easily available and is sure to be left alone by the Cavern inhabitants?

The really interesting bit in all of this... is that we *all* may carry D'ni DNA by now. So we may share their tendency toward self-destructiveness (whether it's a genetic tendency, learned cultural values, or both) and may be heading toward a similar fate. If we look at ourselves as a planet today, we seem fully capable (and heading rapidly toward) our own version of a D'ni disaster. We have already done so repeatedly before (e.g., Rome as Magic88889 has already noted), but we are now in a position to do so on a grand scale.

So the question can become "are *we* doomed to fail as well?" Could our deepest flaws as a race be a legacy of the early D'ni?

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:34 am 
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I love it when a game discussion can turn to current events. And I've had more than one of those experiences with Myst (that's part of why I love this game so much).


Ainia, I think you could be right. If the early D'ni did make it to the surface and interacted with the human population it would explain a lot of our early history, and why there was a sudden rapid development that nobody has been able to explain as far as I know.

As any Sci-fi fan knows, any person with superior technology will look like a god to primitive peoples (this even plays a role in Myst). And the similarities of many early cultures and religions (even modern religions for that matter) could also be explained by this if the originators of human society and culture were all descended from the D'ni.

What that technology could look like we don't know. Not much is known about the Ronay. The only possible hint is the Tehranee, but 10000 years later, who knows what they were really like.


The only possible hole I see in this theory (even the report of D'ni leaving the cavers) was their extreme xenophobia. They hated anyone who wasn't D'ni. They felt like they were a superior species. It's a large part of why Ti'ana was so disruptive to their society, and triggered their downfall. However, I will concede that perhaps that didn't set in till later in their history. It's possible the Ronay, and thus newly arrived D'ni, didn't have this distrust. It could be that the Ronay didn't have this problem, but rather viewed those lower species as slaves, or worshippers, or whatever. Ri'neref's teachings did involve going to a simpler life. Perhaps part of that was not exploiting primitive people like the Tehranee do.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 2:27 pm 
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Shorah Magic88889,

Glad you find the idea interesting!

I don't necessarily see the D'ni tendency toward xenophobia to be a huge issue here. Even if the D'ni had taken on that cultural value in their earliest days here on Terra, there are cultural values and then there are individual tendencies. We can see throughout the known history of the D'ni in the Cavern that there was a great deal of divergence from "tradition" within their local culture over the millennia (witness the surging and waning of cults).

For instance, the Teledahn slave trade speaks to their tendency to break their own rules. And if we believe Esher's account of Laki'ahn, then we have a clear example of an Age where the D'ni "civilized" the locals for the purpose of the watching them slaughter the Laki within the arena. Their version of the old Roman circus.

So I think it very likely that although the majority of the D'ni held to their cultural values at any one time, there always were individual D'ni who behaved otherwise. Which is why I think it very likely that the D'ni suppressed the early history of emigration to the Terran surface. It would have represented an early failure of Ri'neref's founding principles of their new world here.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 3:21 pm 
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There was a time when the majority of Americans thought themselves superior to the native Americans and African Americans, but a few individuals viewed them as equals, interacted with them, and even married with them (just as Aitrus did with Anna and Gehn did with Keta). Now, the majority is more enlightened and interaction and inter-racial marriage is common. I like to think that this is exactly how it happened with the D'ni and we're their descendants.

Magic88889 wrote:
If the early D'ni did make it to the surface and interacted with the human population...
Not "if," but "when." It's a fact or "the called" wouldn't exist. If you have doubts, you might want to read the 'We the D'ni'- Puzzlers Presentation #2.

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