Facts from Dreamwright

The role-playing games (I-X) that started it all and the various spin-offs (including Dark Messiah).

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Facts from Dreamwright

Postby GreatEmerald » Dec 12 2011, 22:23

So, I just got to the interesting part of The Dreamwright, and holy cow is it a gold mine of information about the Ancients and all. It seems that it's not much of public knowledge, though, as I got the impression that the MM books were generally regarded as very loosely based in the MM universe. So anyway, I want to highlight these (rather long, but most definitely worth to read) paragraphs (also, spoiler warning):

"The problems being faced by your Wheel are being du­plicated in isolated regions all over the world," Amonwelle told them without preamble. "Until a successor to the Dreamwright is found, we can only conjecture as to the current magnitude and exact location of the troublings, but we are quite certain as to their cause. The Shadowsmith is attempting to subvert the energies of the Wire to his own uses by establishing a new and separate link to its bound­less power."

The Wire. Hitch had heard it mentioned before, in the re­fectory at Paddifraw's Repose.

Amonwelle scanned the blank faces before her with a sigh. "I see that I must add my own brief history lesson to the one that Pomponderant has already delivered," she said. She settled one knee against the edge of the green couch and wiped grease from her fingertips with a tattered rag. "Humans have been on this world for a long time—yet our earliest traditions tell us that we did not originate here, but were brought as a gift from somewhere else. The Elucidaries state that a vast flower lay floating in the darkness above the worlds at the beginning of Time, releasing small seeds that drifted far on a wind warmed by the stars them­selves before they found their new homes." She gave a small smile. "I suspect a much more prosaic tale of coloni­zation falls closer to the mark, but beauty deserves its place in memory. Suffice it to say that when I was born, the world was still ruled by the Guardians, powerful beings claiming descent from the ancient folk who had ferried hu­mankind here, by whatever seed or vessel, from our distant home. The Wire connected us with that home, and leashed us to it, an intangible conduit of incredible power that both nourished and dominated us. During the time of my late youth a war was fought that shook the very roots of the world. At its conclusion, humanity found itself free for the first time to do as it would upon this world—still blessed with the ability to wield the Wire's vast energies, but no longer fettered by its chain of control and obedience to far-off masters.

"New guardians came into being among the rebels. As time flowed by, the power of the Wire allowed the Wielders to alter their minds and their bodies, to lengthen their life spans and bring forth children that were also gifted with marvelous abilities.

Instrumentation was developed and put at their disposal that enabled them to harness ever more po­tent energies. We were idealistic in those days, dedicated to serving others with our power . . ." A shadow fell on the small woman's features as she paused in reflection of a by­gone age. "With the passage of time," she continued, "some among the Wielders chose to marry themselves ir­revocably to these instruments, becoming from that day for­ward part machine themselves and no longer fully human. One of these was called Dubiel, and it was ever his way to drink too freely from the Wire's well of might. Once drunk, his thirst was never slaked. And so it happened that not long after his melding with the machines, he became cor­rupted.

"In those days the forces of the Wire were available to all of the Wielders, to be shared equally and employed to the benefit of all humanity. Dubiel quickly grew dissatisfied with the portion allotted him. In an attempt to draw more power to his own being, he mounted a secret war against the other Wielders, destroying fully half our number through deceit and treachery before those of us who re­mained could unite against him and drive him back to his foul hole in the utter South." Amonwelle's eyes smoldered with cold fury. "He festered there," she went on after a mo­ment, "wounded but alive, cowed but not beaten. Twice more the Shadowsmith—as he was now called by the heart-darkened men and women who were drawn to his service— made war upon his former comrades, and each time he was defeated, though at a heavy cost to both sides of the battle. Ages passed in relative calm. The remaining Wielders grew apart from one another, each concerned with private goals, and humanity was left to prosper or wither as it would. With access to the Wire forbidden him as judgment for his many crimes, the Shadowsmith's energies began to dwin­dle, until at last his sinister might had been reduced to the stuff of children's tales.

"Then this past year fiery winds and heaving ground, as well as other troubles of the air and earth, were reported— not only at the Wheel, but scattered far across the land. The Dreamwright watched and noted and slowly a pattern began to emerge. Always when the earth trembled or the clouds rained fire, it was near a place which in the ancient days had been a repository for the great flow of power from the Wire. Now in olden times each Guardian had a talisman, an instrument through which the energies of the Wire were channeled. But all such instruments were lost long ago, and without them the building of a new connection has been all but impossible. Still, the Dreamwright and I began to suspect—hoping always that we were misled by our own fears—that the Shadowsmith had gained some new source of weaponry and strength, and that he was once more striv­ing to establish his own link with the Wire. The recent grievous attack upon the palace of the Dreamwright itself served to confirm our worst apprehensions. The workers you have seen since your arrival have been engaged for weeks in a feverish attempt to fortify the power of the Un­seen Wall, in order to prevent the success of another such attack. Indeed, we seek to magnify the scope of the Wall's protective boundary so as to include the town filled with supplicants that wait at our doorstep, lest they be crushed by the blow that is aimed at us."

"And what is this new source of weapons and might?" muttered Welleck the wagoneer, drawn into the discussion in spite of himself.

"An ally," Amonwelle replied bitterly, "of most unex­pected origin." She turned to lay her hand upon one of the twinkling panels that leaned in above the green couch. "Lit­tle more than a year ago, the Dreamwright recorded an event of unparalleled significance to the inhabitants of our world."

The great walls had continued to flash in a riot of color and mad images; now a grouping of half a dozen disks cleared abruptly, combining to present a dim view of a steamy, swamplike landscape through which dark figures prowled. As they watched, the dark lurkers came upon a pool of shadowed water, where they halted, gesticulating. A cone of dull black metal protruded upright from the steam­ing muck. It loomed huge in comparison to the human fig­ures who stared up from the floor of the swamp, towering the height of a large hostelry, and its exterior was blazoned with unreadable crimson symbols. Attached to the front of the cone and suspended some twenty feet above the murky surface was a smaller structure, this one a black cylinder perhaps twice the height of a man.

Hitch's eyes and mind strained to make some sense of the odd design. A shelter of some sort, definitely—but to what purpose in those swampy depths? As he watched with the others, the lesser cylinder split evenly down its upward length, the two halves peeling slowly backward to reveal the crouching image of a humanlike figure silhouetted blackly against a blaze of licking flames. The figure stepped forward and gestured sharply with the black staff it clutched in its left hand. Abruptly the image faded from the disks and the wall swirled into madness again.

"The black and red object fell to earth not far from the lair of the Shadowsmith and was met by his agents," Amonwelle said. "That much we know, but little else. Since the events which you have just witnessed, the Dreamwright has remained blind to an ever-growing region of the south, with this swamp as its center."

"Fell to earth," Hitch echoed. "Fell from where?"

Amonwelle's ruddy countenance darkened. "From an­other sun, or so we must assume, one where human folk also strive—for the object was a vessel for traveling be­tween the worlds, and its occupant wore a form not unlike that of a human being."

Hitch glanced at Welleck, standing close by his side. Both turned to inspect the silver-clad figure posed still as a statue by one of the flaring metal arches.
Amonwelle followed their gaze. "Pomponderant has told me of your hatchling and his golden egg. For some reason still unknown, his own arrival on our world was neither ob­served nor recorded by the Dreamwright. Though some connection between the two newcomers seems inevitable, we cannot yet say what it may entail. Assuming his unre­sponsive state is unfeigned, we have no means to judge whether the hatchling be friend or enemy to the thing that now allies its might to the dark goals of the Shadowsmith."

Hitch looked back at the hatchling once more, his ex­pression broadly skeptical. "Anyone can see he's not the sort to promote an evil cause," he murmured to Welleck. "What breed of monster almost expires during his first few minutes on the world he plans to conquer—all because his flying egg falls into the lake and he doesn't know how to swim?"

"I have a question for you." Diligence had been standing off to one side during Amonwelle's impromptu lecture. Now she peered up along one curving leg of the sleek sculpture. "Why are the little lights only shining on the sil­ver portion of the device?" Her voice was cool and flat. "By comparison, the three remaining sections appear life­less."

"That is because they are," Pomponderant responded. He moved to Diligence's side and pointed upward. "The instru­ment is divided into four discrete parts—four chambers, if you will, like the human heart. The silver chamber is in use with the activation of the primary Dreamwright function— the retrieval of images anywhere in this world."

"And the others?"

Amonwelle made her way around the end of the empty couch. "This instrument is extremely old and extremely powerful. It is from the time of the original Guardians. The second chamber turns the wall-eyes into portals, similar to the mirror in the cavern of the green moths, but restricted to this planet. By employing this chamber, one may simply step through to whatever location is depicted in the image." She ran her hand along the machine's blue iron flank, moved on. "The third chamber, long unused, brings images of other worlds."

"The fourth?" Diligence breathed.

"The power to visit them, as the ancient Guardians did freely, and as the insect scholar did eight hundred years ago through his hidden mirror."

"Does it still function?" Hitch asked. "Could you truly walk to other worlds from this room?"

"Once you could have, long ages ago," Amonwelle told him. "Now only the first chamber is operational. The third and fourth chambers were rendered inoperative by consen­sus of the Wielders shortly after the rebellion against the Guardians. As for the second chamber ..." She walked out from beneath the twists and curves of metal to regard the distant ceiling. "The attack that devastated the crystal pal­ace represents only the second occasion in two millennia that the enemy has successfully breached the protections of the Unseen Wall. The first time, Dubiel and his creatures actually gained entrance to this room for a brief time and attempted to comandeer the instrument for their own em­ployment. Dubiel was defeated, but that victory was so nar­row that it was decided to restrict the functioning of the machine to that of observation post in an attempt to prevent control of its more powerful attributes from ever falling into the hands of the Shadowsmith. Over the centuries the activating node for the second chamber was misplaced or stolen. Now, when its power might prove the deciding fac­tor between our victory or utter defeat, we have reason to fear that the Shadowsmith may have obtained the node, and that he seeks to re-enter the Hall of the Dreamwright so that he may ultimately find the way to spread his black do­minion to other worlds. And that is the chief reason why we work night and day to fortify our Wall against the next attack, which we know must come soon ..."


So, what I don't really understand is what happened to the original Guardians. A war? Against what? The Kreegans? The local humans? Why are they called rebels? How come the rule of the Ancients is referred to as a "chain of control and obedience" - after all, from what we know, their rule was always the Time of Wonders, and not a form of slavery (although HC:WOTW shows Bracaduun as rather tyrannical as well, but I'm not sure they are the same as the Guardians here, those wizards look more human to me).

By the way, try not to spoil things for me, I'm still reading the book, you know! :)

P.S.: Wow, this forum sure is also a gold mine of discussion about the MM universe of all sorts! While searching anything related to the Dreamwright posted on this forum, I ran into some really awesome discussions about lots of things related to this, like:
http://www.celestialheavens.com/forums/ ... php?t=8158
http://www.celestialheavens.com/forums/ ... php?t=7773
http://www.celestialheavens.com/forums/ ... php?t=8569
http://www.celestialheavens.com/forums/ ... hp?t=11680
http://www.celestialheavens.com/forums/ ... hp?t=11350
It's awesome to revisit old threads like that, they still have a lot of insight to offer (and Cepheus's insistent Colony terminology :P ).

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Postby Corlagon » Dec 12 2011, 22:58

It's awesome to revisit old threads like that, they still have a lot of insight to offer (and Cepheus's insistent Colony terminology :P ).


I don't endorse the term "Colony" any more. I've seen the light :P.

By god I am such an arrogant jerk in those old threads. A sincere retroactive apology to all those affected. Chalk it up to continual exam-related stress, I suppose.

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Postby MMXAlamar » Dec 13 2011, 1:48

Cool stuff!!

The "vast flower" from paragraph 3 seems to be an interpretation of a CRON, which presumably had 100s (my estimate, could be more, could be less) of VARNs, the "small seeds" within it.

I don't know much about the "golden egg," but it's definitely some sort of spacecraft that hasn't been explored in the M&M games. It's not a VARN to my judgment, because the VARNs are pyramid-shaped, not egg shaped.

Does anyone have any insight on the black and red object?

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Postby GreatEmerald » Dec 13 2011, 4:38

Yes, I also believe that the flower is a CRON and the seeds are VARNs. Which makes me imagine CRON as something like this:
http://images4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb2 ... base_1.jpg

Also, it says tha the VARNst "drifted far on a wind warmed by the stars them­selves", which makes me think they ran on either solar sails or solar batteries. I think something like that was mentioned in MM3 manual or such, too.

The golden egg is some sort of a shuttle. I assume that it will be explained later on in the book, where I haven't got to yet. Same thing with the red and black object.

Oh, and a few more interesting facts I've noticed in the book are the explanation of how a wagon works, and the fact that there was a chamber with a computer in the alter exchange point.

Here's a quote of the wagon explanation:
"A caravan of marvels. And the wagons! One of these could make a comfortable home for a brood of ten back at the Falls. I never realized till we stopped that they're all roped together." He gestured to the stout black cable that ran from the rear of his car to the front of the one behind it. "But who does the pulling? I noticed the great creatures that followed us, but we were too far back in line to see what was occurring up front. Is there another team?" He surveyed the ring with a low whis­tle and a disbelieving shake of his head. "They must be mighty beasts indeed to haul all this weight of wood and passengers."

Diligence was watching him with a look of renewed ap­praisal. "Pomponderant was right," she said. "You really did climb down from some far-off mountaintop. And here I'd thought the Rooted would find our ways dull and earthbound." She grinned at his expression. Then she pointed to the sky above their heads. "It's the sun that does the pulling—or the pushing, rather. The sun pushes everything, so Pomponderant says, urging the world to ceaseless motion." She ran her hands along her bare forearms as gooseflesh erupted in the wake of a sudden gust of wind. "But the sun's cage hangs far away and her urgings are gentle. Only the very sensitive feel the prod and few of them respond to it."

"Is that why we mostly take our rest at night—or in dark corners?" Hitch wondered aloud. "Because when the sun is hanging in the sky above us we're excited to restlessness and movement?"

"Perhaps." She gave a judicious nod. "I do know that we of the Wheel are less subject to the effects of the prodding, for we happily choose to keep ourselves in motion. You Standing Folk are not so tractable, and I've heard your vi­tals suffer for it." Diligence had unconsciously assumed a didactic stance, setting her right fist against her hip as she gestured to the roof of the cook's wagon with her other hand. "As you can see, each car is crowned with a tesselation of red-brown tiles. The Makers introduce a sub­stance during the fabrication of the tiles which heightens their sensitivity to the presence of the sun and renders them far more amenable to her suggestions than ones composed of ordinary clay."

"The sun encourages the tiles to motion and the tiles are affixed to the wagons ..." Hitch digested the information, shading his eyes with one hand as warm amber sunlight be­gan to stream down through a widening gap in the se­quence of high clouds. He surveyed the ring of colorful vehicles in the evaporating shadows. "Why then do the wagons sit here unmoving, though the sun shines brightly on them once more? Will she not take offense at their stub­bornness?"

"Aha." Diligence waggled a finger in the air. "A sound question from the youth in the crimson overblouse. Hidden beneath the tiles, you see, are tiny roots which grow down between the inner and outer walls of the car. The roots lead below the floor to a brace of sturdy metal hands mounted in such a way as to grip the axles. You can see them for yourself, should you care to lie down upon your back be­neath the car." Enjoying her role as instructor, Diligence had begun to pace in a measured circle as she spoke. She paused to indicate a small furze of purple-black leaves with the toe of her sandal. "Now you know that water is com­monly induced to travel upward through a root in order to slake the thirst of a patch of ovengrass. Well, in the case of the wagons, it's the impulse of the tiles toward motion that must traverse the roots downward to the clutch of metal hands. The hands turn the axle and the axle propels the wheels." She curled her fingers around an invisible bar and twisted forward. "When the marchmaster wishes to halt the caravan, he exerts pressure on a lever in the lead wagon, thus causing a temporary separation between the tiles and their roots. The tiles lie mute, the impulse is lost, and the metal hands fall into idleness. As an obvious consequence, the cars come to a stop." She opened her hands and spread them wide. "There. A simple explanation for a simple feat."


Sounds like a solar-powered machine to me! The tiles are solar panels, and the roots are cables.

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Postby Avonu » Dec 13 2011, 8:34

GreatEmerald wrote:Yes, I also believe that the flower is a CRON and the seeds are VARNs. Which makes me imagine CRON as something like this:
http://images4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb2 ... base_1.jpg


I didn't read quotes from that book yet (I will do it later), so if I miss something, correct me.

If you remove "pylons" between "Cron" and "Varns" it should be very good image of Seedships.
I don't think Varns had stationary connection to Cron - more like they are orbiting it holding by some sort of tractor beam or field. Each Varn is separate world (and no, they are not pyramid shaped) with own fuel (as Sheltem was unable to gather enough fuel from VARN4 for his ship to return to Terra and must wait on Varn until it reach it destiny).

Also I don't think solar sails are Varns/Cron propulsion - Ancients are advanced race and Iam pretty sure they used some sort of "gravity" populsion (no sails or other visible "engines").
Hint: overthruster oscillator from Lincoln. ;)
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Postby GreatEmerald » Dec 13 2011, 8:59

Avonu wrote:If you remove "pylons" between "Cron" and "Varns" it should be very good image of Seedships.
I don't think Varns had stationary connection to Cron - more like they are orbiting it holding by some sort of tractor beam or field. Each Varn is separate world (and no, they are not pyramid shaped) with own fuel (as Sheltem was unable to gather enough fuel from VARN4 for his ship to return to Terra and must wait on Varn until it reach it destiny).

Also I don't think solar sails are Varns/Cron propulsion - Ancients are advanced race and Iam pretty sure they used some sort of "gravity" populsion (no sails or other visible "engines").
Hint: overthruster oscillator from Lincoln. ;)


I don't think there is enough evidence to suggest either way. Earlier I also thought they were orbiting, but then CRONs are usually said to be carrying VARNs. It's impossible to tell if they meant that they are simply the central axis or if the VARNs are actually being dragged by the CRON, however. The fact that they have their own fuel is not an indication - of course they must have their own fuel due to the fact that they have to perform a planetary landing when a world is seeded, and perhaps have an auxiliary power supply in case the CRON is damaged and has to be evacuated (think shuttles/roundabouts from Star Trek).

About the method of propulsion, it's rather confusing for me... Generally the Ancients are a supercivilisation, so they should have some pretty nice propulsion. However, I believe that it takes a few years for CRONs to transfer from one place to another either way, so their propulsion is either not that fast after all (only impulse speed or something like warp 1) or the planets are very far away from each other. Which would bring us to a question of why the need seedships to begin with - why not go the Federation way and just send a few people to colonise the world? It would be faster that way. One possibility would be that it takes a very long time to get to those planets, and they are not ideal for living, so a complete biosphere is being introduced to an otherwise lifeless planet.

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Postby Avonu » Dec 13 2011, 9:27

Well, habitable planets are not so common in galaxy after all unless it's Star Trek or other sci-fi. ;)

And another hint about Crons and Varns - read their full names, it should suggest something.

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Postby GreatEmerald » Dec 13 2011, 9:31

Avonu wrote:Well, habitate planets are not so common in galaxy after all unless it's Star Trek or other sci-fi. ;)

And another hint about Crons and Varns - read their full names, it should suggest something.


Yes, that's true. Although it makes me wonder how the Ancients missed the civilisation on Terra...

That doesn't really reveal anything, just that they are flying objects used for research (although seeding is hardly research). And the Central part of CRON could also mean either.

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Postby Avonu » Dec 13 2011, 13:13

GreatEmerald wrote:Yes, that's true. Although it makes me wonder how the Ancients missed the civilisation on Terra...

I think they didn't. It was Sheltem who sunk some Varns and therefore destroyed this civilization. His rebellion started when he still was on seedship.

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Postby Corlagon » Dec 13 2011, 14:56

The second book answers most of the questions posed in this thread. I could spoil it but you asked for me not to. ;)

I believe Alamar has a NWC developer's quote on what the CRONs look like?

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Postby GreatEmerald » Dec 13 2011, 15:08

Corlagon wrote:The second book answers most of the questions posed in this thread. I could spoil it but you asked for me not to. ;)


Ah, all right, I'll keep that in mind :)

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Postby MMXAlamar » Dec 13 2011, 17:55

Corlagon wrote:I believe Alamar has a NWC developer's quote on what the CRONs look like?


Paul Rattner wrote:I remember imagining it as a cylinder with multiple floors, big enough so people living inside would be unaware they were on a spaceship. This was before my time--I started designing on MM4--but we made up a lot of lore to explain earlier writing. Jon liked the word nacelle because it was used to describe the cylindrical engines on the Enterprise from Star Trek. That's why the CRON was supposed to be cylindrical.


Front: http://trekazoid.files.wordpress.com/20 ... le-cap.jpg
Back: http://trekazoid.files.wordpress.com/20 ... le-aft.jpg
Cross Section: http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb2 ... raphic.jpg

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Postby GreatEmerald » Dec 13 2011, 18:15

Except that everyone would be irradiated to death in actual ST nacelles :P But I can see where they got that idea from. Unfortunately, it doesn't say how CRONs connect to VARNs.

So if it's cylindrical, then a CRON could be similar to the traditional starbase design:
http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb2 ... _ships.jpg

Though it makes me wonder why the lands of VARN and CRON don't scroll on one axis...

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Postby MMXAlamar » Dec 13 2011, 18:19

GreatEmerald wrote:Unfortunately, it doesn't say how CRONs connect to VARNs.

Yes it does, the VARNs were on the "multiple floors" in the CRON.

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Postby GreatEmerald » Dec 13 2011, 18:26

Oh, I misread that. In that case, it's odd that the land of CRON and its VARNs are not circular.

...but then again, if the multiple floors are VARNs, it makes no sense again. VARNs are nacelles just as well, therefore they are cylindrical. And therefore they can't be the multiple floor parts. And where would they get sunlight from, if they are inside an enclosed cylinder? Unless it's being projected artificially?

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Postby Corlagon » Dec 13 2011, 18:30

Thanks a lot Alamar - now I recall these details. Glad I wasn't just imagining them as I feared :D
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Postby MMXAlamar » Dec 13 2011, 18:30

Actually the VARNs don't have to be cylindrical just because the CRON is. You could have it something shaped like this: ([]) with the VARN inside the CRON.

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Postby GreatEmerald » Dec 13 2011, 18:48

But they are both nacelles, therefore should have the same basic form. If we would look at the nacelle oriented like in Star Trek, then yes, it could hold 8 half-sized nacelles inside of it, with a rectangular land. But then CRON itself wouldn't have any land, and there would be no multiple levels (unless VARNs stacked on each other count as floors). And it would have to have artificial lighting, too (which could be a nice thing explaining why there is no day/night cycle in MM1, I guess).

And there is also XEEN. It uses real stars as a light source, and, apparently unlike other nacelles, has two sides. Though I can imagine it being open and constantly revolving to create such an effect (although I can't think of a reason why other nacelles couldn't revolve like that).

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Postby Corlagon » Dec 13 2011, 19:00

As far as I interpret it, it's multiple VARNs (slabs) stacked on top of each other like shelves. Keep in mind the scale of the thing we are talking about here - it houses multiple worlds worth of land. The thing referred to as the Land of Cron (MM2 gameworld) is in fact just the "main" VARN, and it, VARN 4, VARN 6 and others are all within the cylinder known as the CRON Vehicle. Paul's description corresponds well enough with how the Shikbath Zera is seen in MM3.

Since characters keep describing the VARNs' sun as red in hue, perhaps it does use artificial light sources.

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Postby GreatEmerald » Dec 13 2011, 19:25

So yea, that's basically what I'm thinking right now, too. The only real problem with that is lighting. Also, I wonder what makes the main VARN of CRON the main one... If it is at the centre, then it means that a CRON has to have at least 21 VARNs to have it lain out as compactly as possible (7x3) with one of the VARNs being in the actual centre of a CRON. It would also mean that a CRON is at least 3 times as big as a single VARN.

I guess one way to think about it is that normal VARNs are all encapsulated and have no real contact with the outside world, with all the lighting being created by the dome that encapsulates said VARN (perhaps in order to create the light, the generators are stored on the other side of the nacelle, and so it can't have two habitable sides), while XEEN, being experimental and all, is not encapsulated (well, only by the atmosphere) and has direct contact with outer space. That would also explain why you can jump out in the void on XEEN but not on any other VARNs.


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