Geneforge 5 Protagonist. Who are they? We are never explicitly told. But I do think there is enough evidence to provide a flawed but plausible and convincing argument that you are the future version of the heavily altered, mentally deranged, protagonist of Geneforge 3.
Disclaimer: Please, I know that this topic has been the cause of much debate on these forums in the past. So rather then directly creating up another thread saying "lets open up this wasp nest again". I instead am creating a thread here to present an idea to those who are interested and like me, irked that there was never a final verdict. Lets keep in mind that these games contain plenty of flaws, so to speak, in regards to details of the story and as such nobodies theory will be %100 accurate. These are just my ideas, I have zero authority over the facts of what is or isn't "true" in this universe of games. If my theory doesn't align with yours, keep in mind it's possible Jeff deliberately made multiple options possible as a fan service and too promote discussions, which, undoubtedly, he has succeeded in doing. With that said I have been playing and revisiting these games for a decade now and have tried to keep everything accurate as I can, so enjoy the read.
During the events of Geneforge 3:
The players school is attacked by Litalia who kills your peers and your teachers. You fight your way out of the school with Alwan and discover that the one teacher that survived the attack, Master Hoge, is acting suspiciously. You then leave the school and are faced by Litalia who tells you of the war raging on the mainland and across the Ashen Isles. All the player knows at this point is that she has killed their teachers, classmates, and destroyed their school. Litalia then leaves and the player, who goes on to meet with Greta, who joins them on their quest to avenge their school. The three contact Fort Kentia, and it is here that the player first comes into contact with canisters. Desperate for the power to avenge their school and knowing that their training is incomplete, they use the canister and upon doing so "feel a strong urge to find more of them". The three destroy the spawner making rouges that harm the island, and the player discovers and uses more canisters left by Litalia as they go.
They then travel to Harmony Isle where the player helps the Shaper in command by destroying the network of spawners ravaging the island. Along the way the player, now facing greater threats, continues finding and using canisters, and slowly the side effects begin to show. A fact not unnoticed by Greta*. They are asked by a group of rebels to bring them a canister granting their leader great power but the player refuses, leaving the rebels to deal with the shaper in command now that his island is secure.
Note* There are two reasons I've included this. Greta becomes a rebel, for years and years, she spends time in the forts of drakons and in many battles. And yet, she shows no sign, ever, of canister use. I think the reason is that she witnessed what happened to her friend and was put off them as a result. Although that is unimportant to the theory.
They continue to Dhonal's Isle where they meet the traitor Master Hoge who is going mad due to excessive canister use and he attacks them. The three of them drive him back and corner him where he disappears and flees. The player, still accompanied by Greta and Alwan, remains true to their mission of going after the destroyer of their school and destroys the massive spawner left on Dhonal's Isle. When they go to leave the island however Greta tells them that she does not believe in the justice of the shapers and leaves them*. Much to the pleasure of Alwan who dislikes Greta for her lack of conviction to the shaper cause.
Note* This lines up with what Greta tells the main character in geneforge 4. She says that she traveled from island to island, fighting the rebels, until she decided she'd had enough and, "doing the unthinkable", left them.
The player continues with Alwan on to Gull Island where they are immediately attacked by servile rebels, but due to the player's continued use of canisters: "When you see that these creatures are challenging you, something strange happens. You are suddenly overwhelmed with a powerful feeling of hatred and disgust for them."; "You have to struggle to control the urge to lash out and instantly destroy them for challenging you". (taken from the scripts of gf3). The player and Alwan then continue on where they come face to face with Litalia. They say that they will kill her but she freezes them, just like outside the school on their first meeting, with a spell. During the conversation with Litalia the player comments on her glowing skin, she replies by telling the player "I can see it, the blessing of the canisters. You should use a mirror. Your skin has the radiance as well." The player also asks her why she decided to join with the rouge creations and rebel against the shapers. She replies saying that she believes the ways of the shapers are cruel and outdated. However, her voice is hollow and she is described as not being concerned with the cause anymore, she is evidently only concerned with gaining power. She then leaves.
Okay. Note from me. It is this part, and what happens next, that ties my whole theory together. The Shaper you play as in GF 3 fights for the shaper cause*. But their enemies are many and mighty. So they partake in excessive illegal shaping (canisters) so that they can gain enough power to fight and kill Litalia. A classic case of doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. After there meeting with Litalia, as the theory goes, the player is shaken and enraged. After all they have done and all the power they have tried to amass, Litalia can still render them paralyzed with a wave of her hand. So the player takes it up a notch, and now reckless due to their deteriorating mental state, actively searches for and uses as many canisters as they can get their hands on.
*Note, as stated by Greta, GF4
Now. The following is my theory, not directly stated. Read on.
From here the shaper and alwan find and meet with khyryk. They sneak around his back halls, the player still searching for the power to destroy Litalia when they find a console controlling some machinery. The player then has a powerful insight. They have witnessed firsthand the power that Litalia possesses, and they know that they are not strong enough to crush her. So in the moment the player realizes, despite all they have done to fight the rebels , they need their help, and the players mind has been so polluted by their now reckless and animal hunger for and use of the canisters that their judgement is twisted. In that split second the player sabotages the machinery, causing an explosion that injures khyryk. The player, with the help of alwan who is so full of shock he is unable to think about his actions and is consumed by the heat of battle, strike down khyryk. In the moments before his death khyryk attempts to teleport himself away, but the spell fails and is unstable. the energy engulfs and vaporizes him.*
Note*. I know that khyryk is alive in GF4. However this is a case of a flaw in the narrative, as no matter what the player does in GF3 to aid the rebels prior, they still demand the death of khyryk. And we know that the rebels win the ashen isles conflict. For the sake of the story we can say that when khyryk attempts to teleport away but loses control of the spell you get a "red skull-tessaract" situation* where he is teleported far away (even though it appears he dies).
From here the player takes the key they get of khyryk's body to the docks in Khors depths and use the boat to travel to the stronghold of rebel power in the ashen isles: The Isle of Spears. But not before they encounter Hoge, their traitorous teacher who has been maddened by canister use and kill him. Alwan, who already had doubts about the player due to their canister use and increasing madness, says: "I'm sorry, Shaper. I can travel with you no longer. I had my doubts, but I thought that you fought for your cause. But then I saw you ... saw you murder Khyryk. Strike him down, in his own home. I was sickened._"; "_Now I see that you are lost to our kind. I need to go offer my services to fight the rebels, and maybe even fight you. It is the only way I can be true to my beliefs. Goodbye._";. Alwan then leaves the player alone on the docks of Khors Depths.
Note from me: This theory sets up Greta and Alwans recounts of their experiences perfectly.
Greta says in GF4 that she traveled with them, fighting the rebels then left them.
Alwan says in GF4 this: From his journal in his room in rivergate keep: "Oddly, a lot of the journal has been crossed out. It appears that Alwan spent most of his journey in the company of a Shaper. However, for some reason, most of the references to this person have been removed." Then when you ask him about it: "Alwan looks suspicious. _How did you know that?_ Hopefully, he won't realize that you read his journal."; "He leans close and whispers, _I do not wish that fact to be known. Association with that Shaper resulted in ... in problems. I am not responsible, but some won't realize that. So, if you are wise, you will keep very quiet._"
See? Seems like we get conflicting information in GF4 from the two of them. Unless this theory is correct.
The player did go from island to island helping the shapers, but their lust for power lead them to madness. They betrayed the shapers then joined the rebels so that they can get more power. But then they see Icy End. They see the ways the creations are living in relative harmony together in freedom from the shapers. This inner conflict, combined with their increasing insanity. Leads them, like Litalia, not caring about the cause anymore and getting lost in a pursuit of power. The protagonist aids the rebels by killing Lord Rahul on Dohnals Isle and Akhari-Blaze uses the Geneforge. The player then uses a boat to travel to the mainland and goes to a shaper town and ends the game, if not their story, with the following ending abbreviated courtesy of Preferential Depletement:
"You reach a Shaper force, and tell them about everything that happened in the Ashen Isles, to scare them. You are locked up due to your actions. During a successful Rebel attack, the Shaper commander comes in to deal you a mortal wound, but is instead decapitated by a rotghroth. By Akhari Blaze's pronouncement, you are given a command of those servile cultists who choose voluntarily to serve under you. You participate in the ravaging of Terrestia, and you keep fighting."
Now. What happens to the Geneforge 3 character between now and Geneforge 5? The answer requires a degree of speculation but as my theory goes:
As the G3 Protagonist continues fighting the war against the shapers they also continue in their new quest: Satisfy their lust for power. They continue using canisters until it's all that matters anymore. Then, at some stage they agree to become an experiment. The rebels develop an early version of the geneforge in G4 for humans. You volunteer as a early test subject. It doesn't work. The process is agonizing, it drains your powers and wipes your mind. Having no further use for you the Drakons throw you out into the wastes of Gazak-Uss.* Either that or you go mad and flee.
Note* Gazak-Uss is geologically very, very close to the drypeak mountains, the location where you are found and captured before you are brought before Rawal. Here.
See it? Ghaldring knows about your memory loss. Seems small but Jeff felt the need to include it. Maybe its a clue to help us fill in the gaps between what happened to you between GF3 and 5. Maybe not. Either way its interesting.
From there you are captured by the Shapers, and brought to the foundry. Evidence from the prison in stormhold (in spoiler):
And from there you work as a laborer. That is until you wake up. And Geneforge 5 ensues.
EVIDENCE FOR MY THEORY IN GF5:
Alwan Geneforge 5: Alwan recognizes you
Greta recognizes you, but presumably lies about it. Maybe because she knows that if you find out the rebels took your mind, you could be angry, and not help them:
She seems to be faking a warm innocent demeanor. And when she says "soon enough" it's as if she knows more then she is letting on or at least, more about what she expects you to do.
There are 2 pieces of evidence that are the most significant that back up my series of events in Geneforge 3.
1st) Sage Lara of The Dera Reaches (in spoiler):
See it? "where you a hero? A villain?".. Hard to see" - You where a hero, until - "You were changed. Warped. Changed yourself ... Too much. Warped you. Changed your face, your nature. Took ... Took years for your mind to connect with your body.". This supports my narrative in multiple ways. First she is confused as to your role, this makes sense if your role was both as a noble avenger and then as a power hungry madman. Second she says you where a linchpin and that your actions changed the course - changed the fate of the Ashen Isles perhaps? Even if no then this still wipes out any theory that you are Jared or Pol or something. You where a protagonist. Then, you warped and changed yourself too much, it even changed your face. this explains why Alwan and Greta don't recognize you right away, and also why they say you look vaguely like someone they once knew.
This (IMO) is the most solid evidence that supports my theory as being correct. It is a conversation held with Litalia when you discover her in the Trakovite Lair:
1) Litalia seems to recognize you.
2) You once bore a great grudge against her.
See? "For all you know you bore a great grudge against her once".
This is the story of GF3. A student who seeks revenge at any cost on the woman who killed their peers and teachers. A person who in the process of trying to gain the power to enact justice, lost their way and their mind. Someone who (according to sage lara) committed crimes - Murdering Khyryk and Lord Rahul. Someone who "changed themselves too much" and who's actions changed the course of history. And who is that person? "for all you know you bore a great grudge against her once". It's you.
The final piece of evidence I have is what Litalia says to you if you kill her:
"I am sorry". Why would Litalia feel the need to apologize in GF5 to you?
Because in GF3 she destroyed your school, killed your friends and classmates and threw your life into turmoil.