Mass Effect 2: Mordin Solus Part 2

By Shamus
on Sep 1, 2010
Filed under:
Game Reviews

So, the history of Mass Effect. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up:

The Rachni invaded the galaxy and it was bad. They were winning and nobody could figure out how to make them go away. Then the Salarians discovered the semi-primitive Krogan, handed them space-age weapons, and threw them at the problem.

The Krogan… in Space!

me_krogan_in_space.jpg

The Salarians discovered the Krogan and introduced them to the world of interstellar travel and galactic future toys. With space age guns and armor they were more powerful than ever, and their natural aggression made them want to fight the Rachni. All the Salarians had to do was equip them and give them a lift, and they had an almost endless supply of fearless bloodthirsty badasses to throw at the Rachni problem.

This was a very Salarian solution. You can probably see the unintended consequences coming, but the idea had a clever simplicity about it that let the Salarians defend the galaxy without putting their fragile butts in direct combat.

For the Krogan, it was the ultimate dream: An epic galactic war which depended on their unique talents. A chance to face a truly powerful foe using weapons they’d never even dreamed of. Their warrior culture drove them to fight, expand, conquer, and destroy. And here was a seemingly endless supply of enemies for them to chew on and numerous worlds for them to grab. It would be like if Yahtzee Croshaw was transported to a galaxy where there was an evil alien armada that could only be defeated through creative swearing. You can bet it would take him a long, long time to get homesick.

It was the perfect solution, right up until the moment the Krogan pushed the Rachni all the way back to their own homeworld and then killed them, right down to the last bug.

The Rachni vs. The Krogan

me_rachni_war2.jpg

The Krogan were correctly hailed as saviors of the galaxy. While it’s tough to prove what would happen in the road not taken, just about everyone agreed that the Rachni would have supplanted all sapient life the galaxy if not for the Krogans. The Rachni never cared for diplomacy and never seemed to have any goals beyond “kill everyone else”. They didn’t just want to conquer, they wanted to exterminate. You could argue that the Rachni genocide was wrong (the game allows your character to adopt this position, although I can’t think of anyone outside your party that thinks this way) although it’s tough to see how they could ever peacefully co-exist with other races. Whatever their problem was, it was something innate. If they wouldn’t sue for peace even on the brink of their own extinction, then there was probably no set of circumstances where they would ever live peaceably. Their race was defective in the sense that it was 100% incompatible with other sapient life.

Since they seemed to be able to travel through space without the aid of technology, it wasn’t even possible to strand them on some sort of “nature reserve” planet. You couldn’t contain them and you couldn’t reason with them. They were trying to kill us, right up until the moment the Krogan stepped on the last Rachni and ended the war.

End of the Rachni Wars

me_rachni_war.jpg

But this debate over the genocide of the Rachni is moot anyway, because nobody was strong enough to hold the Krogan’s leash. They were driven to fight. The Rachni were driven to fight. The two of them were going to fight until one of them exterminated the other, and the rest of the galaxy couldn’t do much more than watch. Maybe the Citadel races could have tried to pull the Krogan back into line by cutting off their high-tech supplies. (I think it’s safe to assume that the Krogan never had the expertise to fabricate the fuel, ammunition, and other crucial supplies needed to keep their forces going.) But this would just leave them with the original problem of what to do with the unstoppable Rachni. (And the Krogan might have turned on them as well.) There was no way the Citadel races had the strength to stop the conflict on their own terms. Once the Krogan genie was out of the bottle, there was no going back.

I suppose you could argue that the Citadel could have throttled back on the Krogan supplies just enough to try and prevent one side from prevailing over the other. Although, “precariously balanced war unending” isn’t really any more appealing than either of their other two alternatives, which were death or Rachni genocide.

After the war, the Krogan were given the conquered Rachni planets along with other colonies for their help. But since these worlds were all far more hospitable than the Krogan homeworld Tuchanka, the Krogan numbers exploded.

The Krogan are innately aggressive and fearless. It’s a feature of their race, and the reason they survived in an environment that would have driven any other species to extinction. But without the hostile forces of their homeworld to hold them in check they were breeding like crazy. Pretty soon they filled the worlds they controlled.

Krogan Rebellions

me_krogan_rebellion.jpg

Perhaps colloquially known to historians as, “Shit, we should have seen this coming.” This was when the Krogans finally got sick of sitting around and breeding and wanted a little room to grow. So they started grabbing whatever planets were at hand. Even those belonging to the Citadel races. And if this sparked a war, then so much the better. They were restless and itching for a fight.

You could argue that the Krogan simply weren’t sophisticated enough to live in space. They were a tribal species that had never known anything more than an endless fight for day-to-day survival. Now they were living in space and needed a lot of new tools. They needed a way to balance their birth rates and a way to direct and control their aggression. Humans devised birth control, organized sports, and other social structures to slowly hammer our warrior culture into something civilized-ish. The Krogan might have made similar adjustments if they’d ever been able to stabilize life on the homeworld and make their own way into space over the generations. It takes a fantastic amount of brainpower and cooperation to get into space, and so this sort of cultural taming would normally be a prerequisite for getting there.

If you plucked some primitive humans off of Earth and gave them some future toys, you’d probably see a lot of the same senselessly destructive behavioral problems. The Krogan problem was so much worse because they were just so dang strong.

The Salarians had simply replaced the Rachni problem with the Krogan one.

The Krogan didn’t try to overthrow the galaxy because they were evil meanies. They did so as a result of the countless political and evolutionary forces that had put them into a situation where that was the only thing they could have done.

But now we needed a new short-sighted solution to fix the problems caused by our last short-sighted solution. Which means this was another job for the Salarians…

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  1. Kel'Thuzad says:

    I thought the rachni issue was more Reaper indoctrination, considering the “sour yellow note” that the rachni queen talks about in ME1.

    • Shamus says:

      It’s possible. Although “sour yellow note” could mean a lot of things.

      If I were the writer I wouldn’t go this route. The Reapers should NOT be portrayed as incompetent goofs that have failed time and again. It nerfs their whole “inevitable” thing they have going. Adding failures to their past makes them less of a threat now.

      EDIT: Just about re-wrote this comment. Proofing is for sissies! (No, it isn’t.)

      • jdaubenb says:

        As if there was any problem in the Mass Effect Universe that cannot be directly traced back to Reaper or Prothean meddling.

        EDIT: I think the current writer has proven that “sophistication” and “forethought” are not exactly high on his list of priorities. (to quote ME2’s ending: “BOOM! ZAP! KAPLOOOYIEI!”)

        • Shamus says:

          I resisted the urge to reply in the form of another edit to my previous comment.

          You are right. I think Krellen mentioned at one point that they changed writers going from ME1 to ME2, but I’ve never looked up who they were. Also the odds are good that ME2 was just written by Cliff Blazinski using a pen name.

          • jdaubenb says:

            I would have gone for the less classy Michael Bay quip, personally.

            @guy The whole thing does undermine the Reapers’ credibility to some degree.
            If the Rachni were under Sovereign’s control that means the Reapers have a *horrible track record in picking the organic they want to enslave.

            Overall this just goes another step towards painting Shepard – and all of humanity to some extend – as incredible super-badasses who can kick more ass than even the allmighty Krogan. All other races failed in containing the Collector threat and Commander Schwarzenegger murdered them in passing, basically.

            • Jabor says:

              Actually, the Rachni are a pretty awesome choice for a species to drive to war. As far as is known, the only potentially “better” choice would have been the Krogan, and trying to tech-feed them would likely involve a significant risk of being found out (or at least, it being found that someone is pulling the strings).

              • jdaubenb says:

                Sure, they were a good idea on paper, but in the end they failed.
                The Reapers haven’t really succeeded yet. Sure they wiped out a few million/billion people and assaulted the Citadel, but overall nothing much was accomplished.

                I guess you could argue, that the Rachni were just used to cull the weaker races out of the galactic “stock”, but that assumes that the whole Terminator plot was already conceived during Mass Effect 1.

                • thebigJ_A says:

                  The Reapers haven’t succeeded? The whole plot of ME hinges on the fact that they’ve succeeded EVERY time. Countless times. The Protheans being the latest.

                  They still haven’t failed THIS time. They’ve been delayed a little, yes, but Reapers think in the long term. It took them, apparently, years/decades to wipe the Protheans, and that was an almost unqualified success. (The only qualification being those few Protheans who locked themselves away, and left the message you find in ME1.)

                  I do agree that making them responsible for the Rachni lessens them as enemies. It also makes little sense. Having the universe wiped before they get there by a race that doesn’t seem to use much technology? Their whole schpeel is waiting till the Galaxy gets sufficiently advanced, then harvesting it, or whatever it is they do.

            • Binks says:

              “If the Rachni were under Sovereign’s control that means the Reapers have a *horrible track record in picking the organic they want to enslave.”

              That’s assuming the Reaper’s goal was to have the Rachni win against the other Citidel civilizations rather than, say, dealing with a threat early. I prefer to think Sovereign just stumbled upon the Rachni at some point and realized that letting the Citadel civilizations have an insanely good and fast breeding warrior race would hurt the Reaper’s plans.

              If you assume the Reapers were trying to conquer the galaxy with the Rachni (which is very OOC for them, if they were trying to complete the cycle, shouldn’t the goal have been to take the citadel with the Rachni, rather than trying to wipe out a bunch of other worthless locations?) then it makes them look weak. If, on the other hand, you assume they were getting the Citadel species to wipe out one of their best chances of stopping the Reaper’s plans by causing a genocidal war between them it fits their character more and makes them look more awesome IMHO.

              • jdaubenb says:

                ((I am rapidly running out of things to say about this topic.))
                True.
                Right now the subplot can go both ways – the Reapers could have used the Rachni to test whether the galaxy is ripe for the taking, as a way to remove lesser/weaker races from the big picture or to remove a potential asset. At the same time their reasoning might remain unexplained beyond ‘the Reapers did it’ which is decidedly less “awesome.”

                • Raygereio says:

                  At the same time their reasoning might remain unexplained beyond ‘the Reapers did it’ which is decidedly less “awesome.”

                  It would be the first time they did that, remember that whole “the reapers are beyond mere human comprehension” thing in ME? That was just another way of saying “We couldn’t come up with a good motivation for the main villain, so we’re going to attempt to hide that with shitty writing”.

                  Edit; yeah, we may get a good explanation in ME3. But that scene in ME1 is still incredibly stupid.

                • acronix says:

                  @Raygereio: You mean, the scene in which Shepard talks with Sovereign? That´s the only one I remember about having the “we are beyond your comprehension”. If that´s the one, I thought they did it well. The reapers are prideful jerks who are sure they are better than everybody else, so it makes sense to Sovereign to say such a think. “I´m too cool and I do cool stuff that you uncool people cannot understand it´s cool because you are so uncool!”, basically.

                • 8th_Pacifist says:

                  It wasn’t just Sovereign. That Prothean hologram on Ilos said the exact same thing, and it’s even more annoying. It doesn’t even try to speculate about their motives.

                • Michael says:

                  That Vigil uses the exact same phrasing as Sovereign is hilariously messed up. But, ME2’s reveal is definitely within our understanding. So the protheans were just incredibly dense?

                • Nyaz says:

                  @Raygereio: Hey, I’ll take “beyond mere human comprehension” over the final boss of Mass Effect 2.

                  Urrrhh, that did not happen, did not happen, did not… *rocks back and forth, mumbling*

                  Also, what idiot decided to replace the awesome robot-dudes (Geth) as main villains over boring bug-people (“Collectors”? Seriously? What kind of name is that?!) that I have no relation to? That guy should get slapped in the face.

                • krellen says:

                  “That Guy” is named Mac Walters.

              • Moriarty says:

                while we don’t know why the rachni were indoktrinated (if they were at all) I like to think they awakened Sovereign by accident and it went something like:

                “What? Who are you bug guys? I just want to sleep for a couple more centuries *yawn* go leave me alone, attack the citadel or something.”

                • Will says:

                  Yeah, everyone seems to have immediately decided that the sour yellow note was a deliberate Reaper machination; what if it was an accident. Sort of like collateral damage or bleeding over from Sovereign.

            • Will says:

              Nah, it wasn’t Michael Bay. Say what you will about the man’s lack of storywriting ability, but he knows how to make a good explosion. The explosions in ME2 are nice, but they don’t have that epic flair that Bay pulls off.

          • krellen says:

            Drew Karpyshyn created the Mass Effect universe and wrote the first game. He was (I believe) moved over to the Old Republic MMO, and the second game (while still having Drew’s name on it since he created it) was actually written by Mac Walters.

            Drew is a writer with a clear track record; he was lead writer for both KOTOR and Jade Empire. I have no idea what, if anything, Mac Walters has done before.

            • Michael says:

              As I recall his prose borders on unreadable, and his dialog skews towards lobotomized, so… how could it get worse with him gone?

            • Rick W says:

              Karpyshyn wasn’t the lead writer for Jade Empire, that was Luke Kristjanson and Mike Laidlaw. As for Walters, his only other credits at IMDb are as a writer on Jade Empire and the first Mass Effect.

            • Danel says:

              It doesn’t necessarily follow that you can divide the blame and the credit that easily. The Mass Effect novels still have Karpyshyn’s name on them, and it was in one of them that the Cerberus retcon first appeared, before ME2 was released. The most recent novel draws upon and seems happy with a lot of the more dubious aspects of ME2’s story.

              Similarly, Mac Walters is surely the one who can take the credit for the character stories of ME2 that are its strongest element, not just the segments of the story featuring the Collectors.

              • krellen says:

                Only if you agree that the “character stories of ME2” are strong and good, which I don’t agree with. Mordin Solus is the only one with a strong, good story (and his introduction is still seriously weak). The rest of the characters are barely characters, and more-or-less crap.

                Both Ashley and Kaiden have far better development, and ME2 completely ruins that with their inexplicable reaction to seeing Shepard again on Horizon (or whatever that planet was). (Liara was always weak, and didn’t get much better.)

      • guy says:

        I’d be inclined to say that it doesn’t really effect the argument about the morality of the rachni genocide, because either way they were fanatically murderous and uncontrollable. Indoctrination would mean that the eggs should have been left intact once the last living rachni died, but no one could have known that at the time.

        Personally, the rachni wars being caused by sovereign doesn’t hurt the narrative for me.

        • Jabor says:

          I’m in agreement with this, pretty much.

          The only thing the indoctrination-or-not factor really affects is whether wiping out the rachni again after they’ve essentially been bought back from extinction is morally conscionable or not.

          Personally, I think it’s a nice way of introducing that particular moral dilemma, and doesn’t really mess with the backstory significantly.

      • webrunner says:

        They already went this route. If you save the Rachni queen, in ME2 you get a message delivered via random Asari saying the Rachni believe Shepard is fighting the enemy which ‘soured the song’ of the Rachni, referring to the Reapers.

        It also proves that the Rachni are not uncontrollable, as this particular Asari was saved by them, and the Rachni pledge support to Shepard in the future.

      • Albeit they’ve kind of portrayed the Reapers this way anyway. But I got more of a feel from ME1 that the Rachni weren’t racially insane more than they were simply incapable of communicating with/understanding the other races at the time. Since they have a sort of shared consciousness, their interactions with the individuals of other races could be analogous to a human interacting with bacteria. You don’t attempt to communicate with infectious bacteria, you just mobilize an immune system response to deal with it. And if several of your limbs are gangrenous, you may be in so much pain that you’d be incapable of communication even if the bacteria were then to attempt it.

        Besides, the council races don’t exactly have a great track record of dealing with new races in a diplomatic fashion. Look at the whole organic/inorganic war–or the human/turian war that kicked off basically the first time humans encountered turians. You’d think that if a vastly more advanced and populous cosmopolitan species encountered a brand new, obviously intelligent just-gotten-into-space species, even if the new species was just plain RUDE and STUPID the reaction would be more along the lines of “all right children” and less along the lines of “bomb the shit out of them”. The human’s first attempts at space travel (let alone space weapons) can’t have been much compared to what the turians had available to them. It is fairly obvious that the Mass Effect races (including humans!) are paranoid and violent xenophobes rather than properly civilized people.

        • krellen says:

          While it took an entire Terran fleet to take out one Turian battle group, I’m not sure I’d really characterise it as the Turians having the Humans massively out-gunned. Humans were using tactics and implementations of existing Prothean technology the other Council races had not considered, and the Turians were flabbergasted that the Humans could even muster the force to take out the battle group they did.

          It would be as if you stepped on a few ants to keep them from getting in your house, then suddenly getting pummelled and murdered by ant-missiles and ant-bombs. Would your family react in “Okay, little ant children” style, or would they react with “KILL THE ANT MURDERERS!”?

          Mass Effect follows the Humans Are Special Trope (NOTE: Link to TV Tropes. You have been warned,) so Humans presented something new and wonderful. Salarians of course wanted to study them, and the Asari wanted to mate with them (sure, they painted it another way, but that’s the central reason behind Asari diplomacy; they’d much rather make love (literally!) than war,) so the other races reigned in the completely justified Turian freak-out response to the new killer ants.

          • That battle was hardly first contact, though. How did hostilities even get started? The typical response to real first contact probably looked more like this:

            Turian Comm Officer: “Hey, got what looks like an unidentified energy signature here. Looks like a ship drive.”
            Turian Commander: “Hail em.”
            Turian Comm Officer: “They’re not responding to standard hailing frequencies.”
            Turian Commander: “Try broadcast.”
            Human Comm Officer: “OW! Sir, we just got hit with a mass spectrum energy broadcast. Wait, it’s going back to microwave transmission. It . . . might be a hail of some kind.”
            Human Commander: “Put it onscreen.” (ha ha star trek ha)
            Screen: GARBLE GARBLE WOAAAAAH GARBLE
            *Human Comm Officer desperately messing with settings*
            Turian Commander: “Who the hell are you and why are you in this system?”
            Human Commander: “ZOMG ALIENS!!!”

            Where the does “shoot them” get involved in this kind of thing? I mean FOE identification is a BIG BIG DEAL in the military and NOBODY takes it lightly. For the first interaction between species to be war means that one or both species are uncivilized douchebags.

            • Michael says:

              The turian task force came across the Humans activating a mass relay. And given the turian’s fanatical nature and their last experience with opening up relays at random, the turians went ballistic.

              I know it’s kinda idiotic, but that’s what comes up in cannon.

              • krellen says:

                Yes, exactly. Humans were opening an uncharted relay, Turians destroyed Humans. Moved battle fleet to occupy colony (thinking it the Human homeworld). Human fleet shows up, kicks Turian battle fleet butt. Turians gear up for war/genocide, Council reins them in and starts diplomacy.

            • Stranger says:

              This sounds like the start of Timothy Zahn’s “Conquerers” Trilogy. Humans find an unidentified alien race and send their first-contact radio package. Aliens immediately open fire, THEN start blasting escape pods.

              The whole trilogy then becomes both civilizations assured each other is a bloodthirsty and unstoppable killing machine which won’t stop unless they’re utterly destroyed. It’s pretty decent reading.

              • Falco Rusticula says:

                I thought of that one too! One thing that made it interesting was that the humans had no idea that radio waves of all things were harmful to the Zhirrzh, and the Zhirrzh had no idea that anyone couldn’t know about the effect radio had on them (and in fact it’s strongly suggested that they conquered several other space-faring races based on exactly this misunderstanding). If a Zhirrzh Elder hadn’t been accidentally captured and figured it out, humans and Zhirrzh would probably have blasted each other down to bedrock.

      • Xakura says:

        If we assume that the reapers motivation for “everything” is to cultivate the ultimate biological race, for them to build the next generation reapers, then it makes sense. The reason for sending the Rachni on the galaxy is not to exterminate it, that’s the reapers job (hence the name), but to harden it. To cull out the weaker elements, and observe how the different races handle hardships of that magnitude.

        To recap; the reapers did not wish for the rachni to win.

        So what we are moving towards here is that the reapers agree “humans are awesome”, use them as “inspiration” for the new models, and wipe the slate clean. So to speak.

      • swimon says:

        The Rachni was hardly a failure they filled their function perfectly. If the reapers are hiding a lot of stuff in the galaxy, which I’m guessing they are, then they want to keep the citadel races from exploring too much. Solution: put something really scary at the end of one of the relays.

        If this was the plan for the Rachni then it worked perfectly. The reason for the Human/Turian conflict was that the human were exploring (as you do) and the Turians freaked out since they learned how dangerous that can be from the Rachni conflict. Really the Rachni are the only proof we have that the Reapers are in any way competent.

        If Bioware changed writers between ME1 and ME2 it really shows. ME1 explores political relations between creatures that are biologically and psychologically different set in a world that is surprisingly well researched and except for external threats it’s almost utopian. ME2 on the other hand is a mediocre sci-fi action story set in a really clichéd dystopian world that happen to have some really well done characters. It really shows in the codex which ME1 filled with interesting stuff about the setting and ME2 had what? 5 interesting codex entries? It was a pretty good game but as a sequel it really disappointed.

      • [d20]thegrinner says:

        About the “sour yellow note”: I wonder if it’s simply something the young, new queen misunderstood. Maybe she(?) is averse to the path the rachni originally followed – it doesn’t necessarily imply reaper control.

        • Aldowyn says:

          someone mentioned above that, if you saved the queen, you got a message saying something about you fighting those who “soured the note” or whatever. So yeah, it was the Reapers. For some reason.

        • Good theory, you are implying that the old Rachni took the same path as Saren, believing that serving the Reapers was the better path to survival.

          Question is if the Collectors was the same (though genetically created by the Reapers as they where, they still served the Collector generals (who was following orders or directly controlled by a Reaper)).

          As such it is not the Reapers failing, but the organics that do their bidding.
          The only Reaper that failed was Sovereign,
          not in his defeat (defeat by numbers is always a possibility due to miss-calculation)
          what Sovereign failed in was not opening the “wormhole” for the other Reapers.

          And that only happen due to Sovereign getting personal with Shepard in 1-to-1 combat, allowing Normady to attack a weak spot at a certain moment.

          And the reason the reapers seem so interested in humans could e that humans has the most potential to become the new or math the reapers in the future, humans certainly has that evil reaper streak in them for sure.

      • Slothful says:

        Well, if you think about it, it’s Sovereign who’s doing all the “Take over Citadel” schemes. The Reapers are just used to coming in and killing everything in the blink of an eye. This whole “slowly sneak in and reactivate the trap” business is new to them.

        Heck, Sovereign probably isn’t even the best of the Reapers, since he’s the one that they felt they could do without and left behind while the rest of the Reapers are out in deep space having all their Reaper parties and playing their Reaper games.

        So basically, Sovereign is either the Reaper equivalent of a farmer, or he’s just that loser who picked the short straw.

        • Sovereign was just a sentry, and possibly the 2nd one.
          After all the was that scorched planet (from a super weapon) and that damaged Reaper ship Shepard found, which could have been the sentry before Sovereign.

          The sentry was supposed to activate the citadel by remote, so yeah, “sneaking in” was truly a new concept for the reapers.

          I’m wondering though, the Reaper controlling the Collectors, is that a 3rd sentry or a “remote” control from one of the frontline reapers slowly advancing towards the citadel?

          • krellen says:

            The derelict Reaper ship is old enough that it is explicitly from a cycle before the Protheans. It’s evidence that the Reapers are not flawless, and Sovereign’s defeat at the Citadel was not the first time the organics won a battle (but they’ve still inevitably lost the war every time).

            • Will says:

              You would have thought the Reapers would have salvaged that ship. Seriously, that ship is one of the really big plot holes in ME2. Most of the problems are plot stupids, but a couple, like that ship, are genuine holes.

    • Vegedus says:

      I can’t help but think that Sovereign looks LIKE a rachni. And given that all Reapers are made of/looks like organic species… Well, the similarity is more “both look like insects” rather than “exactly alike”, but I’m just putting that out there, in case it turns out to be true, so I can rub it in people’s faces.

  2. Nasikabatrachus says:

    This reminds me of that one Simpsons episode. Bring in the mongoose horde to kill the snake horde, then gorillas to kill the mongooses. How do we deal with the gorillas? Well, eventually winter will come along…

  3. Jarenth says:

    Counterpoint: You claim at one point that

    I think it’s safe to assume that the Krogan never had the expertise to fabricate the fuel, ammunition, and other crucial supplies needed to keep their forces going.

    but I always assumed the Salarian uplifting of the Krogan was more or less exactly thát. Not just hauling them off-world to fight interstellar bugs, but actually úp-lifting them, turning them into a space-capable modern species.

    Are there sources on what exactly the uplifting wás? If so, I’d be grateful if someone could link them.

    • GeekKnowledgeFailure says:

      There is evidence to support this, actually.
      I recently bought this game, so I’m still in the poking around stage right now. I found myself in a system next to the Krogan’s home system, and I found an interesting codex/planet description there. It was the planet closest to the star, if I remember correctly, and it described how the Salarians had helped the Krogan build a massive solar collection array, to take advantage of the star’s massive output, and turn the system into a fuel manufacturing site.
      It also mentioned that during the Krogan Rebellions, the solar array itself was destroyed by one or more Spectres. It made mention that the plants and such on the worlds are still mostly intact (though in disrepair), but that lack the array to power it, and that the Krogan lack the ability to rebuild the array.

      Might be a few errors in there, it was sometime last week that I found it, and my reaction was something along the lines of “Oh, that’s interesting. Strip-mine the system.”

      • jdaubenb says:

        You can also gain some insight into Krogan science by talking to the “Lord High Researcher” on Tuchanka during Mass Effect 2. He serves as a good example for the average Krogan scientist.
        The Krogan are still unable or unwilling to research ways to improve their plight and instead prefer to build bigger things that go boom.

        • acronix says:

          So…a Krogan wrote ME2 ending/main plot?

        • Kale says:

          I haven’t played all of ME2 yet, so I don’t know just how many Krogan researchers you find, but if it is just the one guy, then we get a balance of one weapon scientist to the one breeding cure scientist from ME1. That leaves the judgement of which is typical to us and our beliefs about the average krogan.

          • Avilan says:

            You have two Krogan scientists in ME2. One an actual scientist that you meet on Tuchanka, who laments that he has to do medical research instead of building things that goes Boom Better.

            The other one is the Warlord you are supposed to recruit. He doesn’t have the title of scientist, but he has been running a genetics lab for several years trying to build his “pure” Krogans.

        • Nyaz says:

          I suspect that they know how to make other things than Things That Go Boom, they just don’t really have any interest in those things.

          At least they seem to know how to make ammunition, guns, bombs, etc.

    • Klay F. says:

      There is actually a quote from Wrex in ME1 to support Shamus’ claim. When you ask Wrex why there aren’t any Krogan trying to find a cure for the genophage, he says:

      “Ask any Krogan, would he rather work on a cure for the genophage, or would he rather fight for credits, that Krogan will fight for credits every time.”

      That puts in all into perspective I think.

  4. Robyrt says:

    Does anyone else get a strong Ender’s Game vibe from the rachni? Evil space insects with a lone surviving telepathic queen who turns out not to hate all intelligent life after all. The main difference is that they are dispatched by Klingons rather than wonder children.

    • Psychoceramics says:

      Evil space insects are a pretty common sci-fi race.

      • It’s pretty common in fantasy too (albeit with out the “space” part). Orcs, anyone?

        • FatPope says:

          In what way are orcs insects?

          • GeekKnowledgeFailure says:

            Indeed, that comparison more fits kobolds or goblins.
            But even then, it doesn’t fit, because you’re compairing something that’s still similar to a human mind.
            The Geth have more in common with the various bug examples then most any fantasy race you’d care name.
            Hive mind. No (or very limited) concept of individuality.
            And, to continue the trend of spacebugs… Zerg.
            Or Tyranid, if you’re looking back a couple more decades.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              How about illithid then?A race of space cthulhus with a hive mind that wants to use every other race either as food or slaves.True,they do communicate with others from time to time,but would usually pick enslavement over negotiation.And even though they are space aliens,they do come from a fantasy setting.

              • Will says:

                The Illithid are Time Travellers, not Space Cthulhus. Important difference. They freak out the Aboleth so much because the Aboleth don’t remember the Illithid evolving, they just appeared one day. The reason for that is that the Illithid existed in the future; they’re the dominant species at the end of the universe. They decided they didn’t really like the whole ‘heat death’ thing, so they went back in time to take over the past.

                Also, the Illithid aren’t hive minds; they communicate telepathically with each other, but they’re all individuals, and the Elder Brain in each cabal is an individual too. It’s more like a Psychic Monarchy; the Elder Brains even hide all sorts of information from the Illithid; like how the Illithid believe they become one with the Elder Brain when they die and their bodies are thrown into it’s pool. In reality the Elder Brain just feeds off their decaying flesh.

                2nd Edition D&D had two Hordes of Alien Locusts that i can remember; the Witchlight Marauders and the Clockwork Horrors. I don’t think either group made it into 3rd edition though, and i can’t think of anything that really fits the bill in 4e or even any other fantasy world i can think of.

                There are often ‘alien’ minds in fantasy, but they tend to be of the singular super-powerful mysterious mentor type rather than the hive swarm type.

            • Soylent Dave says:

              And Tyranids are lifted from (sorry ‘inspired by’) Starship Troopers, which goes back even further.

              (so are Space Marines, incidentally)

              • Will says:

                The Tyranids are inspired by both the Aliens from the Alien franchise, and the Bugs from Starship Troopers, it’s suggested that the early incarnations of the Tyranids served as a source of inspiration for the Bugs in the Starship Troopers movie (the only one), which gives you an idea as to how creativity works.

          • Michael says:

            I think he means WH40k Orks, and they’re not insects, they’re fungus.

      • Nathon says:

        See: Starship Troopers.

      • acronix says:

        And tyranids and zerg. Really, I* wonder if there´s some sci-fi that doesn´t have space bugs on it.

        *Doesn´t have much sci-fi knowledge.

        • asterismW says:

          Oh sure. I don’t think there was a single space bug in Issac Asimov’s universe.

          • Irridium says:

            And I don’t think there was one in Star Wars.

          • Peter H. Coffin says:

            Cheap example, there. Most of Asimov’s universes didn’t even allow for aliens. Very human-centric and I think even all Earth-originated. Even though he wrote an essay working out that it was statistically unlikely that there WEREN’T alien civilizations, in our own galaxy, with the means and technology to both detect and be detected by us. (IIRC, he estimated seven races other than us in the Milky Way with means and interest to make social calls at least a la Voyager and beaming Leave It To Beaver into space.)

            • asterismW says:

              Cheap example? I’m sorry, I thought we were talking about sci-fi in general, not just alien sci-fi. How about Sphere, then?

            • Will says:

              If i remember correctly, Asimov has stated that statistically it’s almost certain that there are other alien races in the universe, but that the chances of us ever actually meeting them are remote at best. The universe is biiiiiig.

        • PurePareidolia says:

          Firefly. Nothing but humans.

          • Aldowyn says:

            @Peter 90% of Asimov’s own work can feasibly fit into one universe. Everything from I, Robot to Caves of Steel to Foundation. In fact, it’s proved that those later two ARE in the same universe in Foundation and Earth.

            @PurePareidolia They’re only in one system, too. Believe it or not…

            Zerg=ultimate space bugs. Sorry.

            According to TV Tropes, There’s two types of Orcs: Tolkien, which are chaotic evil, and Blizzard, which are a Chaotic neutral “Proud Warrior Race” (At least after the blood curse wears off.)

            • Will says:

              Those are the two most common types: Orcs usually end up the Chaotic Evil barbarian hordes, or the Proud Warrior Race Guys.

              There are exceptions, of course, but they are few and far between.

    • MogTM says:

      I think the analogy is even stronger than “evil space insects,” which I agree can be pretty common. But Mass Effect and Ender’s Game both feature “not-really-evil-but-horribly-misunderstood bugs that have to be totally eliminated because we can’t find any way to communicate with them; except they really aren’t totally eliminated because there is one Queen left for the protagonist to find and save in a way that is portrayed as morally good but not supported by the rest of the galaxy.”

      So yeah, I got an Ender’s Game vibe. A lot.

  5. Factoid says:

    +5 for princess bride opening.

  6. Raygereio says:

    The whole Krogan vs Rachni reminded me of something out of Warhammer 40k. An Inquisitor managed to divert a Tyranid hivefleet into Ork space.

    The result made everyone go: “Oh, poop” and duck for cover.

    • Igen says:

      I remember that, There were reports later of variations of both species (mainly tyranids, a few stealer infested veteran orks.) wandering from that conflict into other sectors. It didnt end well for any one else.

      • Will says:

        Yeah, as a solution to a problem goes that one is arguably worse than the Krogan thing. If the ‘nids win that fight they’re going to incorperate Ork DNA into their biomorphs which will be nightmarish, and if the Orks win, well, they’re Orks.

  7. UtopiaV1 says:

    Man, an unending finely-balanced war between two super-powerful alien races with bloodthirsty natures and the coolest space weapons ever would have been SO AWESOME!!!

    If they were worried about the cost of it all, the Counsel should have just turned the whole thing into a reality TV show, would have made a fortune! Plus, I bet the Krogan would have been just fine with that all, they always want to fight and so do the Rachni. Everyone wins… except those hippy pascifists who want everyone to have ‘peace and love’ or whatever. Damn those commies! The rest of us want to see intergalatic war between creatures of being we don’t care about, dagnammit!!!

  8. asterismW says:

    Forgive my naive question. I’ve never played Mass Effect, but I find this series fascinating. My question is: why, after the Krogans killed off all the Rachni, didn’t the Salarians just take away all their toys and maroon them on a few worlds? Or just let them keep what they already had, sans any means of space transport? If, as, you say, “the Krogan never had the expertise to fabricate the fuel, ammunition, and other crucial supplies needed to keep their forces going,” then they wouldn’t have the knowledge to maintain or create new weapons/armor/ships, right? The Salarians couldn’t strand the Rachni, but why couldn’t they strand the Krogans?

    • jdaubenb says:

      Ethical concerns.
      Mordin (the guy this series is about) explains that after the Rachni wars the Salarians felt responsible for the Krogan.
      That, combined with the whole ‘hailed-as-the-saviours-of-our-culture’-business with the other Citadel races would have made it a bit awkward of dumping them in some hell hole to let them rot.

      • Peter H. Coffin says:

        Or even a nice place to rot. Which would (by the overbreeding talked about in the main article) quickly become an overcrowded, resource-starved, crapsack planet.

    • Raygereio says:

      The Salarians had no reason to do that. The rebellion didn’t immediately start after the Rachni were defeated. It took around 400 years after the Rachni wars for the Krogans to expand enough to start annexing colonies from the citadel races.

      And the Krogans did have the tech to create new weapons and ships. If the Krogans depended on the Salarians for everything, the whole Krogan rebellion thing would have been a really, really short affair.

      • Nyaz says:

        Plus it doesn’t seem like the easiest thing to ask the race of warriors with a culture built entirely around “killing things” and “surviving” to give up their new, shiny weapons.

        It would be like trying to take all the art away from a race built entirely upon creativity and fine culture. Except they can’t shoot you in the face with the paintings you’re trying to take away from them.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Krogan arent really stupid.They did manage to reach nuclear power and bomb their homeworld into nuclear winter on their own.They maybe lack scientists in the fields of ecology and such,but when it comes to weapons,they are quite smart.Once introduced to these new toys,simply taking them away was not an option.First because they wouldnt give them up without a fight,and second because they are able to replicate them.

      • swimon says:

        Well the Krogan that reached nuclear war weren’t really the same Krogan that live in the galaxy during the game. They were far less violent since only the psychopaths survived the war (I believe 10% had the “blood rage” before that).

        Other than that I think you’re entirely correct, the weapons couldn’t just be taken back and if I remember correctly the Krogan outnumbered all other council races combined. That said the Turian would probably have won the war since they had superior fire-power in space which is what really matters but it would have been really costly war.

      • “Krogan arent really stupid.They did manage to reach nuclear power and bomb their homeworld into nuclear winter on their own.”

        I find that statement (possibly unintentional) absolutely hilarious.

        And totally true.

        “How do we know they’re not dumb, sir?” “Well, they invited a really complicated bomb and blew themselves up.” “I…I’m not sure that really counts.”

        Sort of like the “How do we know monkeys aren’t as smart as we are?” “Well, they haven’t built cities and guns and bombs and microwaves and political extremists. They just sit around eating bananas, picking lice, and having sex.” “Yeah, that sounds awful.”

    • Aldowyn says:

      No one’s mentioned the fact that it’s entirely possible they couldn’t. As in instead of giving the Krogans guns and spaceships and saying “Go shoot,” they tried to teach them to become an actual spacefaring race, only the Krogans weren’t ready for it.

    • cassander says:

      But it seems that space war is going to depend a lot more on industrial capacity than population growth. All the armies int he world are useless if they can’t get off planet. The Krogan backstory is extremely cool, but it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you think about it.

      Also, I’m confused about the whole nuked krogan prime bit. Some of the background seemed to indicate that the Krogans nuked themselves before they Salarians got there, some that they nuked themselves after, and some that they were nuked by the Citadel to end the rebellion. Which is it? Of course, neither should really matter if the krogan are also living on a bunch of non-nuked ex rachnii worlds…

  9. guy says:

    It seems like the citadel races could have tried to fix the krogan problem by opening a ton of mass relays and throwing the krogan at the stuff on the other side. If there was no giant horde of spacebugs or murderous robots, they could hand the empty planets to the krogan.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      You know,that might have actually worked.But instead,they were so frightened by the rachni that they simply decided to ban anyone from opening new mass relays,which seems like a bad decision.If they used krogan scouts,they would have a way to both amuse them,and to purge anything hostile they might encounter.

      • Kale says:

        The problem with that would be that the krogan would constantly be given, or taking and refusing to share, the fresh new planets that are ripe for colonization. Then they would have even more worlds to fuel their growing numbers, while the other races use up the resources of the worlds they had while never getting new places, unless they get the system without using a hoard of krogan. I suppose if a new system is found to have opposition they might eventually figure out how to fine tune how many krogan they send in, but that seems unlikely with all the possible levels of tech the enemy might have.

        • Clearly you don’t have a lot of experience with the dangers of exploring virgin territory. Advance party very frequently dies to the last man. (Lewis and Clark expedition a notable exception. Most of the American colonies/expeditions only made it AT ALL due to the presence of FRIENDLY natives.) It’d be retail Krogan extermination (while having them serve a useful purpose) rather than wholesale.

          The only problem would be that you’d be pretty much guaranteed an instant war with whoever the Krogan discovered, and they wouldn’t be too inclined to look fondly on the council after that.

      • Cookie Of Nine says:

        Sending the “itching to get in a fight” Krogan as scouts into unknown territory would probably result in a lot of low tech races being wiped out in the “they’re coming right for us” South Park way.

      • cassander says:

        It’s a really terrible decision, seeing as there is nothing really stopping anything nasty on the other end of a gate from opening it at their end….

  10. Vegedus says:

    So, are you actually gonna talk about Mordin next time? I don’t mind, but it’s peculiar how much time you spent repeating and interpreting the codex.

  11. daemon23 says:

    I also have yet to play a Mass Effect game, but I’m always interested in pseudohistories, don’t ask me why. A few things are starting to ring a little untrue about the whole situation, though.

    (1) Okay, so tribal space primitives have saved the galaxy and are given whole planets to populate. Now, not only do they fill their planets, they organize up to start hitting other ones. How the hell did they manage that level of cooperation and organization? Why weren’t the planets hives of incessant warfare which prevented them from even caring about what lay beyond the atmosphere? I thought they were aggressive and loved war–how do they manage to be so picky?

    (2) Going with the assumption that they’re too primitive to manufacture their own goods, why didn’t the Salarians give the Krogan weaponry which simply disabled itself given a specific signal? I’m also assuming the Rachni didn’t have the ability to reverse engineer the Krogan weaponry and couldn’t build their own signal transmitters.

    • Jarenth says:

      How about:

      (1) Because fighting Krogan day in, day out gets boring? They finally had a chance to fight against something new. They could go back to fighting each other after, you know, wiping out every other sentient life form in the galaxy.

      (2) Good question. I’m filing this as support for the ‘The Uplifting was more than just airlifting Krogans into new combat zones’.

    • Retlor says:

      1. Mostly sheer numbers. On their homeworld, something like 99 in 100 children wouldn’t live to adulthood. On nicer planets, the rate is much more favourable. They have the technology to get to other worlds, and the wanderlust and desire for territory to do so. There were almost certainly incessant brutal, bloody wars between them for this territory, but in the end someone has to get it. I never got the impression that the Krogan were united during the Rebellions, but it was more the population pressures of trillions of Krogan expanding haphazardly. In addition, the Krogan may be warlike, but they’re still a sentient species capable of diplomacy, research, intelligence and co-operation with each other (and other species, but that doesn’t really apply here I suppose).

      2. They may have initially had limited technology (although see above re: reaching the nuclear age by themselves), but they were intelligent enough to adapt and build new examples of existing technology that they had. Again, the Krogan are still “people” so-to-speak, and it doesn’t help to think of them in terms of barbaric savages. In addition, they are blessed with extreme lifespans when not killing each other (one in the sequel is over 1000 and doesn’t appear to be old or decrepit, I’m not even sure if they DO die of old age). That sort of age should lead to SOME sort of intelligence or wisdom.

      • Avilan says:

        Not 99 out of 100. 999 out of 1000. We find out in ME2 that the pre-industrialism death rate for Krogan children was 999 out of 1000.

      • Aldowyn says:

        Patriarch, the Krogan you mentioned, was old. I’m fairly sure he was barely able to fight at all, and he’d certainly lost his spirit. (Though that may be attributed to Aria instead of age. In fact, probably.)

        • Retlor says:

          I was talking about Okeer actually :P

          The dossier TIM gives you on him mentions that he has a millenia of combat experience.

          As I recall Wrex himself is fairly ancient, certainly several hundred years old based on a comment about who last slew a Thresher Maw and when.

          As for Patriarch, maybe he wasn’t as spiritually broken as you thought, depending on what you advise him to do!

          Either way, Krogan live a very long time, and are active for as much of it as we’ve seen.

      • daemon23 says:

        They have the technology to get to other worlds, and the wanderlust and desire for territory to do so.

        I’m not sure I buy this working for a truly tribal society, though. How may Krogan does it take to put a spaceship together? If it can be fabricated, fuelled and crewed by a few hundred, I could see it working, but much more than that and you’re straining the boundaries of that kind of society.

        • Retlor says:

          Well the Normandy (your ship in the game) seems to have a visible crew of maybe a few dozen.

          The largest crew known is for the Asari Dreadnought Destiny Ascension, which has a crew of 10,000.

          So ships vary greatly. The Codex does mention, however, that Krogan territorial instincts mean that they can’t share quarters, even on the smallest of ships.

          Bear in mind also, that when we say tribal, we are talking about tribes millions strong in some cases. In the present era the largest Warmasters put together bands up to about 1000 strong, but in earlier eras they were much (MUCH MUCH) larger.

    • Zombie Pete says:

      Yeah, agree with (1). It’s fairly unbelievable that they could get an entire planet of those suckers to agree on anything (I mean, look at US), let alone several systems worth.

      The Krogan solution also brings to mind the Alan Dean Foster series “The Damned,” only in that WE are the badasses recruited to save the galaxy. Other intelligent races (known collectively as the “The Weave”) are aghast to find us surviving on this ‘shattered’, volcanically active world, speaking hundreds of different languages, and engaging in unending war as matter of course. And the fact that considerable numbers of humans are willing to fight and die while assisting them in their galactic struggle for something as meaningless as money, makes the other races view us nothing short of insane.

      • LintMan says:

        In Fred Saberhagen’s classic Berzerker series of books, it is also only humans that have the gumption to really put up a fight against the Berzerker menace. It’s not necessarily that humans were overly warlike – the other races just didn’t have the same level of drive.

    • guy says:

      Because the Rachni aren’t quite that stupid. Sending people into battle with weapons that can be remotely deactivated is just asking for the enemy to shut them down at the worst possible moment after they figure out the shutdown code.

      Also, I am inclined to side with the idea that the krogan were given control of factories. It’d help explain why the citadel races didn’t just build a whole fleet run with simple combat robots like the security mechs and use that. That’s frankly the biggest hole in the story for me, although some potential explanations spring to mind.

    • swimon says:

      It’s not like the Krogan attacked immediately after the Rachni war they were citizens a long time before rebelling. Disallowing the Krogans to have weapons would probably spark a civil war directly that the rest of the galaxy was hoping to avoid. Besides they saved the world, you don’t treat someone like a 2nd class citizen after they saved your ass that’s just rude.

    • General Karthos says:

      So in response to #1, there are still functional (if only barely) groups on Earth still organized in tribal format. Afghanistan, for example, was a tribal society. During the Soviet occupation they were able to resist and drive the Soviets out. Of course, the U.S. gave them more advanced weaponry, and other technology so that they could more effectively deal with the unstoppable red menace. (Allegorical anyone?)

      Anyway, perhaps every Krogan planet was inhabited by a single tribe, or perhaps a single tribe eventually dominated every planet. (You have to figure they fought over resources once they began to run out.) In any case, you’ve got a planet with a population of say… 20 billion Krogan, a single tribe comprises maybe… oh 100 million adult Krogan. And as this was before female Krogan were too valuable to have fight. So you have 100 million soldiers, and you have ships and technology comparable to the rest of the races. This is a problem.

      For #2, consider Wookiees in the Star Wars universe. They didn’t develop space flight on their own, but they’re perfectly capable of adopting, adapting, and improving their technology, even if they’re somewhat aggressive by comparison to the other races in the Star Wars galaxy.

      And the Salarians didn’t really foresee the problem of the Krogan Rebellions. Even if they did, they do only live 40 years. They could deal with it “later”. Before you know, it’s seven generations down the line and they’ve forgotten about it.

      ———-

      Problems with the plot aside, I really like the future history of the Galaxy. It seems a lot more plausible than some future histories I’ve read. And yes, I have found and read, every… single… codex entry in both games.

      (For other “First Contact” wars… well, there’s a lot of them. Often people attack what they don’t understand, and sometimes people provoke attacks because of what they don’t understand. One good example would be Babylon 5, Humans and Minbari, both perfectly reasonable races, who wound up at war over a misunderstanding.)

      • daemon23 says:

        “Anyway, perhaps every Krogan planet was inhabited by a single tribe, or perhaps a single tribe eventually dominated every planet.”

        This doesn’t really make sense. Tribes tend to be familial/social groups, and a tribe which grows too large will splinter into new tribes. Having one tribe dominating a continent is pretty silly, much less an entire planet. A tribe of a hundred million doesn’t really fit the social dynamics of a tribe at all; a species would need much better social cooperation skills than a human to achieve this, which suggests they would be significantly less warlike than humanity, not more.

    • Krogan love to fight. They love to fight new and interesting things even more.

      Think of it like a D&D game. You have a room of infinite orcs, and you have a room next door with a dragon. People will almost always go and fight the dragon eventually – killing the same orcs over and over again gets boring at some point, and you want to go and fight newer and bigger things.

      Krogan are kinda like that. Plus, they don’t really hate each other. I think given the choice between violence that will kill them off and violence that will kill someone else off, they’ll often pick someone else.

      And as mentioned elsewhere, they can always kill each other later.

      • daemon23 says:

        “You have a room of infinite orcs, and you have a room next door with a dragon. People will almost always go and fight the dragon eventually – killing the same orcs over and over again gets boring at some point, and you want to go and fight newer and bigger things.”

        And a good GM would have those infinite orcs go swarm the stupid players from behind. :P

  12. Georgius Rex says:

    “… we needed a new short-sighted solution to fix the problems caused by our last short-sighted solution. Which means this was another job for the Salarians.”

    This made me realise something. With the Salarians having such short lifespans, perhaps it changes their perspective; what’s short-sighted for anyone else is long-term for the Salarians. If ~40 years for them is equivalent to 100 years for us, then, to them, the 400-odd years between the Krogan uplift and the Krogan rebellions, is a millennium to them; those events would be, from their perspective, so far apart that it would be like blaming Christopher Columbus landing in America (in 1492) for the U.S. invasion of Iraq (in 2003).

    Just a thought.

    • Soylent Dave says:

      Yeah.

      This is why the Salarian attitude towards ‘quick fix’ solutions makes sense. Not only is the long term for them still pretty short term, but they (as a short-lived race) probably don’t really thing in terms of consequences anyway.

      Because any consequences will come up long after the current generation (and probably the subsequent generation) are dead. Compare with modern day humans and our attitude towards climate change – whether we’re causing it or not, whether we can change it or not, anything we do today only impacts future generations – so most people find it hard to genuinely care.

      It’s one of the best bits of Mass Effect writing, creating the Salarians and using them for this purpose.

      • Well, yeah, except we’re still ignoring it and the consequences will be severe while most of us are still alive. We have much less excuse than the Salarians.
        Arguably, if you wrote some of what real humans have done as science fiction happening to other races, everyone would be all “Oh, come on, how plausible is it that they would do something that stupid?”

        • Deoxy says:

          You’re assuming it is caused by humans… or even happening at all. There are very significant reasons to doubt both. If you look at the last 100 years of scientific news, abotu every 20-30 years, there’s a big freakout about the environment… and it goes back and forth between warming and cooling.

          Major newspaper articles from the 70’s about global cooling are really quite funny to read. Major science magazine articles about global warming from a couple of decades before that make the modern stuff look recycled.

          And no computer model yet created can take the historical data we have up to 10 years ago and predict the next (known) 10 years with anything remotely accurate (even in the aggregate), so they are all useless BS.

          So yeah, it’s pretty rational to ignore it, thanks.

    • swimon says:

      I agree to some extent but it’s not like the Salarians weren’t backed by the other races that live a lot longer. Really I don’t think it was all that short-sighted it was their only option really. You can see the flaws in the plan but they had little choice, it was that or extinction in their eyes (there might have been a third way but they nor we know about it so it really doesn’t matter).

  13. Spider Dave says:

    You’re making it hard for me to wait for my girlfriend to arrive before I watch the Princess Bride.

  14. Interesting synopsis in general. I have to say, though, I find some of the commentary about the problem being the abruptness of Krogan “uplift” unpersuasive. I don’t see any real signs that our long climb towards civilization has in fact reduced the level of human violence. With hunter-gatherer tribes you often had warfare involving stuff like “Everyone lines up on opposite sides of the field and chucks spears until someone gets hurt”, or counting coup, or various other very limited war concepts. Not always, to be sure; there do seem to have been some quite nasty wars right back to prehistory.
    Nowadays we have warfare involving bombing the crap out of villages of noncombatants, killing old people women and children and calling it “collateral damage”. WW II was just sixty years ago, Iran-Iraq war thirty, there’s fair amounts of warfare going on right now, also piracy, regions of lawlessness and banditry, dictatorial oppression, capital punishment differentially applied by race . . . I don’t really see that we’ve gotten less violent relative to less technologically advanced people of the past (or present–Kalahari bushmen don’t cause much trouble compared to the rest of us, neh?). And that’s not even getting into the subtler forms of violence, like arranging for masses of people to starve to death or die of disease so your salary will be $11 million this year instead of $10 million.
    So yeah. I think if the Krogan were violent it’s because the Krogan were violent; more time to develop their civilization and make it more sophisticated likely would just have made the problem worse. If anything the galaxy may be lucky they got unleashed on the star lanes before they really had the whole “civilized approach to violence” thing worked out.

    • Samopsa says:

      I think most people you know have never encountered death by violence themselves during their lives. In tribe-like cultures (like the Krogan are portrayed in ME), the standard punishment for, well, everything is death. You sleep with my wife? Die. You killed my brother for sleeping with your wife? Die. And so forth.
      The scientists/missionaries living among New-Guineans (about the only place in the world where such groups live anymore) report again and again that almost all people die of murder by enemy or friendly tribesmen. A very small percentage dies to disease/animals/accidents, and almost nobody dies of “old age”.

      I think it’s impossible not to see that our current society is A LOT less violent compared to the old tribe-structure.
      If you want to read more about this, read the book Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. It answers questions like this. Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guns,_Germs,_and_Steel

      • krellen says:

        Thus how Hammurabi’s “Eye for an Eye” code was actually the first step towards civilisation.

      • Michael says:

        Also, worth remembering, the krogan homeworld is psychotically hyperactive. The original codex entry had this gem on them: “Before the invention of gunpowder, the leading cause of death for krogan was death from natural predator. After the invention of gunpowder it was death by gunshot.”

        That implies they retained a tribal structure while still generating some technological advancement.

      • Aldowyn says:

        I just read that for my World History summer assignment.. Interesting book. :)

        Point is very, very valid. Not all societies are like that, though. Like the Mariori (misspelled, I’m sure.) that got wiped out by the Maori because they essentially un-developed violence.

        • Samopsa says:

          Nah, they got wiped out because the other Maori adopted gunpowder weapons from the first settlers, and used that to either conquer or destroy opposing tribes. Tech advantage, but no civ advantage.

    • Civilization and violence are antithetical, which is why the barbarically violent people worldwide are still living in “third-world” squalor.

      What gets really nasty, however, is when you have a technologically-advanced people who either arm primitives or themselves regress to a philosophy of tribal savagery. THEN you get Islamic terrorists and Nazis–mindless brutes with weapons of mass destruction.

      Always export the civilized philosophy FIRST, THEN the technology. The other way ’round has BAD consequences.

      • Raygereio says:

        “Civilization and violence are antithetical, which is why the barbarically violent people worldwide are still living in “third-world” squalor.”

        Ah, yes. Because we enlightened individuals, living in our ivory towers in this shining first world never sully our hands with this violence thing.

        History taught us that civilizations thrive on violence. As long as the majority of that violence is being channeled outwards to possible threats.

        • Aldowyn says:

          Starship Troopers, again.

          One of the lectures, I think in OCS, mentioned the whole “violence never solves anything.” Ended up with a particularly interesting quote concerning Hitler, Hannibal, a few other people and several extinct animals.

          … another mostly unrelated quote. “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” Salvor Hardin, in Asimov’s Foundation.

        • cassander says:

          What civilizations thrive on isn’t violence, but competition. Competition is what keeps us sharp. Without it, our institutions (government, corporate, etc) get fat and lazy and incompetent. Violence is just a form of competition, and one that is at best 0 sum. Now, capitalism on the other hand, that’s competition I can get behind.

      • “Civilization and violence are antithetical, which is why the barbarically violent people worldwide are still living in “third-world” squalor.”

        Wait. When did Americans start living in third world squalor? I mean, I know the economy’s not doing well, but for most people the third world squalor hasn’t arrived–at least, not yet.

      • NotYetMeasured says:

        Interesting subthread here. I was going to take issue with Shamus’s: “If you plucked some primitive humans off of Earth and gave them some future toys, you’d probably see a lot of the same senselessly destructive behavioral problems. ”

        Define “primitive!”

    • cassander says:

      Modern wars look a lot bloodier because absolute populations are higher, but in per capita terms the amount of violent death in the modern world (especially in the west) is vastly lower than in primitive societies, literally several orders of magnitude. The amount of violence in the pre-industrial world would absolutely stagger you. Read Steven Pinker or Jared Diamond to get an idea of the numbers involved.

  15. Vekni says:

    I’m glad to see someone else appreciates Yahtzee’s ability to put profane words together in new ways.

  16. Jonathan says:

    The entire Krogan plot sounds like someone has been reading Larry Niven. It’s almost an exact take-off on the (pacifistic, technical, merchant) Jotok finding the (violent, primitive, fierce, 4x as large) Kzinti and thinking “Wow, these will be good mercenaries…”
    The only difference is the Kzinti actually were organized to start deliberately enslaving other species, and carnivorous enough to enjoy eating them.

    Too bad for them that they ran into us. One FTL drive development (really purchase) later…

  17. Goliathvv says:

    “If you want a problem shot, ask a Turian. If you want a problem talked about, ask an Asari. If you want to make a problem worse, ask a Salarian. If you want a problem solved, ask a Human.”
    -Commander Sheppard

    I would only add “If you want a problem bashed until it’s reduced to dust, ask a Krogan.”

    • Aldowyn says:

      A: It’s Shepard, not Sheppard.

      B: Bad Renegade Shepard! Don’t you go hating on the Salarians! They’re the most complicated, interesting races in the entire series! How many races can you think of that can come up with both Captain Kirrahe (“We will hold the line!” Maybe 3rd or 4th most epic moment in ME1) and Mordin Solus?

      • Swimon says:

        Also the Salarians, Asari and the Volus seem to be the only creatures that are actually competent at anything except war (namely science, diplomacy and finances). The humans don’t really fix anything in the ME universe they just seem to increase xenophobia and antagonism in the council races. I guess they dabble in fixing things but most of the time they seem about as useful as Elcor, Krogan or the Hanar.

  18. RCN says:

    The only thing that one can say for sure about Mass Effect is:

    The Salarians sure as hell are awesome.

  19. Zanfib says:

    I disagree with the assertion that Sovereign was stupid. Everything that went wrong for it, was something that it had no way of predicting.

    It had no way of knowing that the citadel races would find the Krogan and without their help, the Rachni would have won.

  20. WoodenTable says:

    Yahtzee Croshaw…? Shouldn’t that be either Yahtzee, or Ben Croshaw? (Or Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw?)

    Although you haven’t really cultivated any nicknames, isn’t that a bit like calling you Pixelthief Young? I’m not exactly up to date on internet naming conventions, but it seems like an odd way of combining the two.

    • Aldowyn says:

      Everyone calls him that… Ben Croshaw just sounds weird (no one but his family calls him by his first name, I think), Yahtzee sometimes doesn’t get the point across, so thus Yahtzee Croshaw.

  21. Joush says:

    I mentioned this before, but again: The game mentions Rahnci scout-ships being spotted and the Ranchi queen was found in an egg on a disable starship. The Ranchi queens know how to build ships and can teach their young, but they can’t travel in space without building ships. They rely on tech.

    And Krogan weren’t really primitive. That wasn’t the problem.

    The problem was that Krogan were atomic age.. and had nuked the shit out of themselves. The use of atomic weapons on their home world had reduced the population to Krogan that were hard enough to live in the post-nuclear wasteland. They are Mad-Max, Fallout style survivors.. given galactic technology.

  22. Aldowyn says:

    I really like the Reapers, at least in Mass Effect 1. (WTH end of ME2…) The only reason they ended up using the Geth and Saren was because of complications– the convenient-seeming Keepers on the citadel locking them out. Of course this messed everything up…

    The conversation with Sovereign happens to be epic. At least to me, the “we are beyond their comprehension” seems like a valid part of the story, and quite true, not a crutch. He also happens to be awesome.

    Following this portrayal of the Reapers, and can pretty much guarantee you that they would be doing EVERYTHING themselves after they beat the Council races.

    ME2’s portrayal of them makes no sense. WHY, exactly, do we need the Collectors, when we have already established that we DO NOT TRUST the abilities of organics? WHY do we need organic tissue to reproduce? WHY do we even need to reproduce? WHY, assuming we do need to reproduce, do we make them in the form of our enemy? (Especially a form so ill-suited to space as it is.)

    More on-topic, I’m pretty sure the Krogan were “uplifted” in the sense that they became a spacefaring species of their own. As has been said above, Krogan can be intelligent, and they aren’t so simple-minded that they’ll just take the guns and ships and attack whatever they’re told to attack.

    Wow, that ended up long. Plus half a dozen comments above… *shrug* it’s ME, to be expected with me…

    • Swimon says:

      I too really liked the Reaper’s in the first game and that conversation you have with Sovereign is pretty awesome ^^. Especially when you consider that they must be post-singularity. Actually that’s a gripe I have with the setting, both the Reapers and the Geth should be pretty much infinitely intelligent. Yet the council races are able to keep up with the Geth in combat and while it took a lot humanity did kill a Reaper, that makes no sense imo. They’re still cool though ^^.

    • cassander says:

      The problem with uplift is that it isn’t all that simple. You can’t simply give people technology that requires a sophisticated industrial base and have it just work. Imagine taking giving say, a modern Toyota factory to a bunch of American Indians circa 1500. It would be completely useless without an electrical grid to power it, mines to produce raw materials, transportation networks to move the raw materials to the factory, other factories to make the machines and parts the Toyota factory needs, mechanics to keep it all running and, most difficult of all, the societal infrastructure to allocate all those resources in an efficient manner.

      The way it had to work is basically colonialism. The Salarians showed up and used Krogan labor operating under Salarian direction. Over time, as the Krogan got more used to an advanced society, they took over more and more of the management. Then they start to take on the rest of the galaxy, start wining, and get their newly modern society utterly shattered by the genophage. Think modern India, but with a horrifying ending…

  23. RJ says:

    I realize that billions of sentences are written in English on the internet every day, but I think you won sentence(s) of the day with: “It would be like if Yahtzee Croshaw was transported to a galaxy where there was an evil alien armada that could only be defeated through creative swearing. You can bet it would take him a long, long time to get homesick.” Nicely done.

  24. Deoxy says:

    But now we needed a new short-sighted solution to fix the problems caused by our last short-sighted solution. Which means this was another job for the Salariansgovernment

    There, fixed it for you. Just to head off at least SOME of the political rancor that could cause, notice that I did NOT attach any party name in there (I think it applies more to one party than the other, but that’s only a matter of degree, and not a large one at that).

    • I really have no argument. I have to admit that the private sector would not create a new short-sighted solution to fix the problems caused by the last short-sighted solution. The private sector would just conclude that since any kind of solution was a public good there was no way to make those who benefited (i.e. everybody) pay for it, and so the rational thing to do would be leave the problem unsolved.
      If anything, the private sector would actively oppose any government spending money on a solution, short-sighted or otherwise, as this would cut into profits.

  25. The background story of the Mass Effect universe is amazing and rather fresh, I’m sure that after ME3 there will be more novels, the odd comic, and more games (another trilogy maybe?) based in the universe. This is BioWare’s “own” Star Wars in a way.

    ME1 was the legend/rise of the hero, and his relation ship with some of his/her first companions.
    ME2 was the beginning of his alliances and increasing releationship with even more companions.

    ME3 well, depending on how many survived the last mission in ME2, the hero basically have a small troop by now, and depending on choices done in ME2 (and the odd choice in ME1 maybe? i.e. Rachni) the beginnings of a small fleet.

    So we’ll see what the end of ME3 brings, but the hero has the potential, loyal followers and enough allies to be a major force in the galaxy. The hero may not end up ruling the galaxy, but will at least be seen as a leader by many in the galaxy which will probably be the culmination of the trilogy’s story.

    With the hero either going their own way (side with nobody and just vanish), or taking the place as the new head of the council (by guess on the canon ending of the trilogy, and the side with galaxy/all life choice), side with the Reapers (evil choice?), side with Cerberus (greed choice?), side with Earth (racial choice?), die (loose choice?).

    I’d be happy with a canon ending of the hero sitting at council lead with Tali(whomever at their side, the hero kinda deserves that after all the crap he/she has had to do (and go through, death/rebirth sucks) for others. But I also hope there are interesting alternative endings in ME3 too.

    As ME3 is the end of the trilogy (and they have a canon ending planned) they can literally go way out there on the alternative endings, which I really hope they do, heck maybe they’ll even do a WHAT?! ending (in silent hill this was the UFO ending, in Mass Effect I guess it would have to be Shepard ascending to goodhood or something, aka the WHAT?! ending).

    • Retlor says:

      I really really really hope that doesn’t happen. Mass Effect drew me in because it was a well-realized, plausible and internally consistent setting that tried to give a reasonable explanation for things happening.

      That kind of got thrown out in ME 2 to an extent in favour of some things being “just because” (do you ever find out why the Collectors can see through the Stealth Systems on the original Normandy out of interest?) but there is still nothing explicitly supernatural going on.

      • Aldowyn says:

        If you look at it, the series has a distinct Dragon Age feel to parts of it. You’re going around the galaxy getting people to trust and respect you, so they will help you fight the inevitable war with the reapers. The differences are there’s no way you can actually FIGHT the reapers, and you’re not doing it on purpose, it’s just kind of happening. (Let’s see… Rachni, Krogan, Quarians, one more that’s a major spoiler… did I miss any?)

        I’ll be annoyed if Shepard ends up on the Council. He doesn’t belong there, he belongs in the field leading a squad, much more so than the Warden. (Squad, not army.)

        I wouldn’t be surprised if they did have much more varied endings, though. The whole there’s a sequel thing kind of limits that.

        • Retlor says:

          I’ll second the “don’t want Shepard to become a galactic leader thing.”

          I kind of hope that the Reapers aren’t defeated like they were in ME2 as well. I hope you don’t board one and pump enough metal into a big glowy orb (which inexplicably lets it’s guard down every few seconds) until the entire thing blows up.

  26. Taelus says:

    Wow I’m late to this party, but here it goes:

    1) On the topic of the Rachni, there’s nothing wrong with the Reapers driving them to attack the other races. If the Reapers hold to form and rely on other races using their technology, it is plausible that the council races would react by using as much of the most powerful technology they can find as they is available. As that tech is largely Reaper driven, this only helps the Reapers.

    2) On the topic of the Krogan, like virtually all of these honorable yet brutal races, they don’t really hold up in simulation. Shamus nailed the part about their environment. If it were as deeply barren as they make it out to be, the race couldn’t possibly survive in any numbers. Also, in order to function when there is a heavy warrior inclination, a caste system has to evolve (Spartans, Older Japan, etc.). The “lower” caste ends up farming and doing all of the work to keep the warriors fed and healthy. The Krogan seem to almost completely lack for any kind of “support” caste and without that, they would once again have died out or at the least remained a very long way from constructing buildings and building the technological infrastructure to create nuclear power.

    Anyway, all of that said they didn’t do a bad job with background generation for the galaxy. Several things don’t make much sense, but they have notably fewer holes than most science fiction stories. Still gets a thumbs up in my book.

    • Zombie Pete says:

      Not knowing anything about the setting, except from what I read here, perhaps the Rachni were the Reapers’ version of the Krogan — a race they lifted up to deal with a problem, that then got out of hand themselves. Maybe the Reapers just pointed them at the rest of the galaxy to get rid of them?

    • Avilan says:

      But if you go to Tuchanka in ME2, it is evident that although most Krogan you run into are despising weak outsiders, there are several that upholds different jobs than “warrior”.

      In that one square you enter, you meet:

      One Shaman
      One ambassador from another clan
      One sad and worried father that just discovered he has a son, and he is not allowed to spend time with him
      One ambassador from the female camp
      One car mechanic
      One store owner
      One scientist

      It is obviously clear that although all Krogans fight well, not all of them are of the Warrior caste / profession.

      • Aldowyn says:

        I’m thinking it’s an even older social structure. There are hunter-gatherer societies where EVERYONE is a warrior (native americans come to mind), and everyone contributes for food.

        As I mentioned above, I don’t believe Tuchanka was deficient ecologically, but in minerals. They didn’t have the materials necessary to develop high science.

        • cassander says:

          Hunter gather societies did not have everyone fight. To get the number of fighters you have to exclude women, children, the old, and enfeebled/crippled. At best you’re talking about 20ish percent.

          Once you get past the hunter gather stage the numbers drop even more. For most of the last 10000 years, something like 90+ percent of human energy has been devoted to farming.

        • Avilan says:

          Not really; since they could buy skyscrapers and nuclear weapons before the Salarians found them.

      • Passerby says:

        I agree, but I have to point out that the diplomat was a warrior before he chose his present role. In the old DnD terms, the diplomat class would be one of the prestige classes of the warrior class.

  27. Nyctef says:

    .. and that’s why we have the Prime Directive :)

  28. […] linked to the previous installment of Shamus Young’s discussion of Mass Effect. This one is also good. Science Fiction is a wonderful lens through which […]

  29. Tullis says:

    Actually, it’s not that the rachni were some horrific murderous race that couldn’t be reasoned with. Aside from any Reaper indoctrination, the rachni are a massively territorial hive species; the queens sent their soldiers out to fight while they remained in their nests, which were on inhospitable worlds that the Citadel races couldn’t survive on.

    The rachni soldiers weren’t intelligent to negotiate with, and the Citadel couldn’t get to the rachni queens to use diplomacy. Only the krogan could survive those planets, and they went there with a pack of nukes instead of a diplomat.

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