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What's New in Mutagen, Plotwise? [Spoilers]


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Hi, all! I got Mutagen over Christmas AND I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I really hope that Jeff is able to remake the other four games. That sounds like many years work, but I hope there's enough interest in the fan base for that to happen. All the new NPCs, in particular, are fantastic.

 

However, it's actually been a really long time since I played Geneforge 1, so I'm not entirely sure what's new and what isn't! There is lots of information about the new game mechanics; this thread is more about other stuff. Apologies if this thread already exists, and if so, please link me to it. This is for new plot elements, changes in lore, new quests, new characters.

 

Here's what I've come up with so far:

 

* Drayks are not Barred creations as in the original, but require a license which is hard to get;

* The concept of inutile serviles has changed the dialogue for quite a lot of characters, especially the more isolated serviles in the Junkyard and the Winding Road;

* There are four new areas which all have to do with the new Ascended plotline, namely the Inutile Village, the Ascended Labs, Barrens Research and Barrens Bunker (and there is new dialogue pertaining to them);

* The Cockatrice, obviously, is a new creation;

* Thrackerzod and his people in the Eastern Docks are new,  and correspondingly all the dialogue referring to them, and the two new questlines issued by him and Arixy (I'm slightly horrified she's going to want me to kill Rydell, but I haven't got to that bit yet);

* The two upgradeable items and the four underground or overground areas (Pentil Woods, Quiet Marshes, Central Labs, Diarazad)  where they can be upgraded are new;

* I'm pretty sure Janus on the top floor of the Arena is new (he may be my new favourite minor character, sad and disturbing and also really funny; I hope we see more of him in future games, as unlikely as that may be).

 

Also all the canisters seem to be in different places, and as we know, it's necessary to take one canister in this game, which it wasn't in the original.

 

Anything else?

 

 

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A relatively minor lore change: dialogue in the Eastern Docks indicates that Wingbolts already exist; in the original games, they are said to have been invented in-between Geneforge 3 and Geneforge 4. They still don't appear in-person in Mutagen, though.

 

A bigger lore change- maybe: Toivo and his entire "Servile Origins" questline are new to Mutagen. Relatedly, I believe some of the game's pre-existing text about the origins of the Shapers and the Serviles has been changed to be somewhat less definitive and more ambiguous, probably because it's a bit odd to frontload such important revelations into the first game of a big series. (The original Geneforge was, I guess, intended as a standalone game rather than to start a series, and so it had no problem tucking such important worldbuilding secrets into it.)

 

All the extra above/below-level mini-areas are new, geographically- including the ones associated with the upgradable items, the Shapers in the Eastern Docks, Janus, and Toivo's quest. I'm not sure if this was something the original engine couldn't do, but it's certainly something it was never used to do in the original game.

 

Not exactly new: the "Quiet Shade" and "Strange Roamer" scripted encounters in the first map of the game were apparently late additions to the original Geneforge 1; they only appear in the Mac version of the original, and, oddly, the WildTangent Windows version. So these have been around for a while, but probably most players of the original Geneforge 1 won't have seen them before.

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16 minutes ago, googoogjoob said:

A relatively minor lore change: dialogue in the Eastern Docks indicates that Wingbolts already exist; in the original games, they are said to have been invented in-between Geneforge 3 and Geneforge 4. They still don't appear in-person in Mutagen, though.

 

This is a really good spot!

 

16 minutes ago, googoogjoob said:

A bigger lore change- maybe: Toivo and his entire "Servile Origins" questline are new to Mutagen. Relatedly, I believe some of the game's pre-existing text about the origins of the Shapers and the Serviles has been changed to be somewhat less definitive and more ambiguous, probably because it's a bit odd to frontload such important revelations into the first game of a big series. (The original Geneforge was, I guess, intended as a standalone game rather than to start a series, and so it had no problem tucking such important worldbuilding secrets into it.)

 

I'm pretty sure Toivo was in the original game, but you're right, I have no recollection of that questline.

 

16 minutes ago, googoogjoob said:

 

All the extra above/below-level mini-areas are new, geographically- including the ones associated with the upgradable items, the Shapers in the Eastern Docks, Janus, and Toivo's quest. I'm not sure if this was something the original engine couldn't do, but it's certainly something it was never used to do in the original game.

 

I wasn't sure about this, thanks! I guess that includes the random artila attack below Vakkiri (and Coale's laconic dialogue about it, which is hilarious) and the upstairs area in one of the Roamer areas, as well.

 

16 minutes ago, googoogjoob said:

Not exactly new: the "Quiet Shade" and "Strange Roamer" scripted encounters in the first map of the game were apparently late additions to the original Geneforge 1; they only appear in the Mac version of the original, and, oddly, the WildTangent Windows version. So these have been around for a while, but probably most players of the original Geneforge 1 won't have seen them before.

 

I actually played Geneforge 1 on the Mac originally, so I remembered these. Is there ever any explanation for them?

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So, here's a question. The dialogue in Mutagen is massively inconsistent about how long Sucia Island has been abandoned. Most sources say a century, but others say two. Is this a lore change? Janus definitely says one, and he's a new character; did anybody say one in the original?

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2 hours ago, KoalaLumpur said:

I'm pretty sure Toivo was in the original game, but you're right, I have no recollection of that questline.

 

You're right- he is in the original.

 

2 hours ago, KoalaLumpur said:

I actually played Geneforge 1 on the Mac originally, so I remembered these. Is there ever any explanation for them?

 

No. I think they're just in the game to provide more atmosphere and foreshadowing before you reach Vakkiri.

 

2 hours ago, KoalaLumpur said:

So, here's a question. The dialogue in Mutagen is massively inconsistent about how long Sucia Island has been abandoned. Most sources say a century, but others say two. Is this a lore change? Janus definitely says one, and he's a new character; did anybody say one in the original?

 

I think this is less of a lore change and more of an oversight. Word of God (that is, Jeff Vogel has said in an email) is that it's one century, though this isn't meant to be totally clear early in the game. But there's still stuff in the game (eg the dialogue with the Servant Mind in the Ruined Docks) indicating that it was about two centuries. This may or may not result from incomplete editing of the original game script- I'd have to compare every instance where it says one/two centuries to be sure.

 

Two centuries actually makes more sense, and one century creates other continuity problems. Sage Clois is described as being over a century old, and later games establish that Serviles regularly live to be over 100 years old. But the Shaper inhabitation of Sucia Island is clearly not in the Serviles' living memory at the time of Geneforge 1- I don't believe any Serviles mention having known Shapers directly, the name of the first Servile to blaspheme the Shapers is forgotten, etc. When Geneforge 1 was first made, the later games hadn't yet established that Serviles regularly live to great ages, and "one century" probably seemed like enough time for the Shapers to have passed out of the living memory of everyone except for some Drayks and Servant Minds.

 

This would not be the first timeline mishap in the Geneforge games: Drayks are established as normally living for centuries. The Drayk Isss-Ta is presented as newly created in Geneforge 2; but by the time of Geneforge 4 (which can't take place more than perhaps 50 years after 2), she's presented as extremely old and decrepit. Then in 5 she's somehow a Drakon, or at least her name is reused for a nonspeaking Drakon.

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11 hours ago, googoogjoob said:

Two centuries actually makes more sense, and one century creates other continuity problems. Sage Clois is described as being over a century old, and later games establish that Serviles regularly live to be over 100 years old. But the Shaper inhabitation of Sucia Island is clearly not in the Serviles' living memory at the time of Geneforge 1- I don't believe any Serviles mention having known Shapers directly, the name of the first Servile to blaspheme the Shapers is forgotten, etc. When Geneforge 1 was first made, the later games hadn't yet established that Serviles regularly live to great ages, and "one century" probably seemed like enough time for the Shapers to have passed out of the living memory of everyone except for some Drayks and Servant Minds.

 

Clois is supposed to be beyond the designed maximum lifespan of a servile (that's in her description), but you're right, she should remember the Shapers if they've only been gone a century. Maybe we can assume this is rounding down, and they've been gone 120-140 years? Janus says 'over' a hundred years. I think it's also possible that modern serviles live a little longer than the Sucia Island serviles. But, yes, basically I agree with you. Thank you for your careful thoughts.

 

11 hours ago, googoogjoob said:

 

This would not be the first timeline mishap in the Geneforge games: Drayks are established as normally living for centuries. The Drayk Isss-Ta is presented as newly created in Geneforge 2; but by the time of Geneforge 4 (which can't take place more than perhaps 50 years after 2), she's presented as extremely old and decrepit. Then in 5 she's somehow a Drakon, or at least her name is reused for a nonspeaking Drakon.

 

The transformation into a Drakon isn't impossible, right? I'm pretty sure that that's what happened to Rhakkus, more-or-less. This is a good spot on inconsistency, though.

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46 minutes ago, Mechalibur said:

In general, the codex entries for creatures are new and give information that wasn't in the originals. Like roamers are descended from wolves, apparently.

 

Ah, good point! Yes, these codex entries are really fun. I hope this carries on in the rest of the remakes.

 

46 minutes ago, Mechalibur said:

The term "commons" also seems to be new, referring to non-shaper humans.

 

I  think that's right, too. Is this meant to be reinforcing the heavily caste-based nature of Shaper society?

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1 hour ago, KoalaLumpur said:

I think it's also possible that modern serviles live a little longer than the Sucia Island serviles.

 

Sure, compare it to real world life expectancy.  As knowledge of medicine, nutrition, other fields related to health grow/become more common knowledge, life expectancy has gone up.  There's no reason to believe that as the Shapers/Rebels grew more knowledgeable/experienced with manipulating DNA that every creation (unless designed otherwise) wouldn't have a longer lifespan.

 

('rounding down' is a good theory too)

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1 hour ago, KoalaLumpur said:

Oh, I didn't spot this. What's the change?

The changes were to fix being in the Western Ocean if Sucia Island was northeast of the continent. There were conflicts  with information below:

 

The Ashen Isles of G3 are far north of Terrestia. This is stated in
the Alwan ending of G5. As for Sucia island it is stated that the
mainland was not far off and you spoke to the council so it is most
likely not far off to the west of Terrestia.

Actually, in the Geneforge 1 ending texts, it indicates that Sucia
Island is near Dillame.

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6 hours ago, KoalaLumpur said:

The transformation into a Drakon isn't impossible, right? I'm pretty sure that that's what happened to Rhakkus, more-or-less.

 

AFAIK- and I might be misremembering- Drakons cannot actually reproduce naturally, and must reproduce either via new Drakons being Shaped, or via Drayks being re-Shaped into Drakons; all the original Drakons were transformed Drayks. So it's not impossible, but it'd be radically out of character: in Geneforge 4, Isss-Ta is shown as de facto leader and representative of the Drayks, who are in conflict with the Drakons over their treatment and the leadership of the rebellion. It wouldn't really make sense for her to willingly become a Drakon. Very probably her name was just reused for a Drakon in error.

 

6 hours ago, KoalaLumpur said:

Oh, I didn't spot this. What's the change?

 

Explaining this in detail gets kinda involved.

 

The geography of the original Geneforge games is sort of weird and contradictory, and reflects that it was made up on the fly as the games went on. At the beginning of Geneforge 1, the protagonist is said to be en route to a Shaper academy (IIRC) for further training. Then, in the ending, the protagonist makes landfall near the town of Dillame. Geneforge 4 shows that Dillame is in the southeast of continental Terrestia, implying Sucia is a ways offshore nearby. This is problematic in that eastern Terrestia is much less densely settled than western Terrestia, and if the academy the protagonist was travelling to was the one in the Ashen Isles (shown in Geneforge 3; said in Geneforge 4 to be north of eastern Terrestia; presumably this is where the protagonist was going, as there don't seem to be any other Shaper academies in the eastern half of Terrestia, and there'd be no reason for them to be travelling so far out to sea if they were going somewhere else on the mainland anyway), there's no reason for them to be travelling around the southeastern corner of Terrestia. It's also problematic in that Geneforge 1 demonstrates that the ancestral proto-Shapers came to Terrestia from Sucia Island- but Geneforge 4/5 establish that the proto-Shapers made landfall, set up a new civilization, and began their conquest of Terrestia, from the western coast of Terrestia, which makes no sense if Sucia is to the east of Terrestia.

 

Geneforge 1: Mutagen juggles the text such that in the ending, the protagonist now makes landfall near Poryphra, which is on the northern coast of eastern Terrestia; Sucia Island is now, thus, presumably somewhere off the northeast coast of Terrestia, between the mainland and the Ashen Isles- so it makes much, much more sense for the protagonist to be passing Sucia en route to the academy.

 

The geography is still problematic in that it doesn't quite make sense for the proto-Shapers to have travelled halfway around the continent to settle on the west coast, rather than just settling in the reasonably friendly environs of what would eventually be Burwood Province. But now it at least makes sense for the protagonist of 1 to have been in the neighborhood to begin with.

 

The Shapers are also said to rule two continents in the original early Geneforge games, before this is abruptly retconned to one continent in 4/5. Mutagen scrubs any references to a second continent from the script of 1.

 

5 hours ago, TriRodent said:

There's no reason to believe that as the Shapers/Rebels grew more knowledgeable/experienced with manipulating DNA that every creation (unless designed otherwise) wouldn't have a longer lifespan.

 

I don't think this is especially relevant to Serviles, as very, very few Serviles are actually Shaped- almost every Servile in the games was born naturally of Servile parents, and in any case the Servile "pattern" seems to have been unaltered since ancient(-ish) history. I think one could reasonably argue, though, that the Sucia Serviles might have a lower life expectancy than Serviles in more developed areas, just because they live in a much more hostile environment, have a harder time obtaining food (especially the Takers), and don't have access to Shaper medicine. The Sucia Serviles Clois and Amena both live to extremely advanced ages, so I don't think there's likely to be anything about their genetics making them live shorter than other Serviles.

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Here's a minor thing: the function of the Discipline Wand has changed. In the original, it did damage; in Mutagen, it casts Daze. I admit this feels like a little bit of a downgrade, given what a big deal is made of the wand and how early the Daze spell is available. If it Stunned, that would be more impressive.

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Yeah, the Wand of Discipline change is really unfortunate. It's not an awful item, but it's a weird thing for everyone to draw attention to when it's not really that powerful. Like it could let an underleveled shaper assassinate Ellhrah and escape the keep. In Mutagen, a daze effect isn't going to be enough to let a low level character kill him.

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On 1/21/2022 at 8:02 PM, KoalaLumpur said:

So, here's a question. The dialogue in Mutagen is massively inconsistent about how long Sucia Island has been abandoned. Most sources say a century, but others say two. Is this a lore change? Janus definitely says one, and he's a new character; did anybody say one in the original?

In the first Geneforge, Learned Primer in the first village said "We do not know. Your kind left two centuries behind" there are lots of other refrences to more than a century and aa few of probably two.

 

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  • 2 months later...
On 1/22/2022 at 4:00 AM, KoalaLumpur said:

 

I actually played Geneforge 1 on the Mac originally, so I remembered these. Is there ever any explanation for them?

I do not know why but I first thought the shade you encounter in the first area was sent by Groettsch to spy on you. Furthermore, I have no idea who have sent the roamer in the first area. If there is no explanation, then it's probably just a rogue creation that has wandered off.

On 1/22/2022 at 4:22 PM, Mechalibur said:

In general, the codex entries for creatures are new and give information that wasn't in the originals. Like roamers are descended from wolves, apparently.

 

The term "commons" also seems to be new, referring to non-shaper humans.

 

Yes, I believe in previous games they were only refered to as "outsiders".

 

On 1/23/2022 at 12:14 AM, googoogjoob said:

 

AFAIK- and I might be misremembering- Drakons cannot actually reproduce naturally, and must reproduce either via new Drakons being Shaped, or via Drayks being re-Shaped into Drakons; all the original Drakons were transformed Drayks. So it's not impossible, but it'd be radically out of character: in Geneforge 4, Isss-Ta is shown as de facto leader and representative of the Drayks, who are in conflict with the Drakons over their treatment and the leadership of the rebellion. It wouldn't really make sense for her to willingly become a Drakon. Very probably her name was just reused for a Drakon in error.

 

 

Explaining this in detail gets kinda involved.

 

The geography of the original Geneforge games is sort of weird and contradictory, and reflects that it was made up on the fly as the games went on. At the beginning of Geneforge 1, the protagonist is said to be en route to a Shaper academy (IIRC) for further training. Then, in the ending, the protagonist makes landfall near the town of Dillame. Geneforge 4 shows that Dillame is in the southeast of continental Terrestia, implying Sucia is a ways offshore nearby. This is problematic in that eastern Terrestia is much less densely settled than western Terrestia, and if the academy the protagonist was travelling to was the one in the Ashen Isles (shown in Geneforge 3; said in Geneforge 4 to be north of eastern Terrestia; presumably this is where the protagonist was going, as there don't seem to be any other Shaper academies in the eastern half of Terrestia, and there'd be no reason for them to be travelling so far out to sea if they were going somewhere else on the mainland anyway), there's no reason for them to be travelling around the southeastern corner of Terrestia. It's also problematic in that Geneforge 1 demonstrates that the ancestral proto-Shapers came to Terrestia from Sucia Island- but Geneforge 4/5 establish that the proto-Shapers made landfall, set up a new civilization, and began their conquest of Terrestia, from the western coast of Terrestia, which makes no sense if Sucia is to the east of Terrestia.

 

Geneforge 1: Mutagen juggles the text such that in the ending, the protagonist now makes landfall near Poryphra, which is on the northern coast of eastern Terrestia; Sucia Island is now, thus, presumably somewhere off the northeast coast of Terrestia, between the mainland and the Ashen Isles- so it makes much, much more sense for the protagonist to be passing Sucia en route to the academy.

 

The geography is still problematic in that it doesn't quite make sense for the proto-Shapers to have travelled halfway around the continent to settle on the west coast, rather than just settling in the reasonably friendly environs of what would eventually be Burwood Province. But now it at least makes sense for the protagonist of 1 to have been in the neighborhood to begin with.

 

The Shapers are also said to rule two continents in the original early Geneforge games, before this is abruptly retconned to one continent in 4/5. Mutagen scrubs any references to a second continent from the script of 1.

Yes, I remember in the previous games, Geneforge 1, 2 and 3, or at least one of those, it was mentioned that Terrestia was the second continent the Shapers have conquered. It was so long ago since I've played the first 3 games that I might no longer remember the exact details or wording. However, in the following games this continent was never mentioned again.  I remember thinking back then that the rebels did not stand a chance against the Shapers. Can you imagine whole another continent full of them?

 

I've just finished playing Geneforge 1: Mutagen again and the player character does indeed land in Poryphra. Poryphra is a city on the northern coast of eastern Terrestia (GF4). This city is fifty miles (80 km) off from Sucia Island. The player character left from the eastern docks and must have sailed south to reach Poryphra. At least I believe so, because in the tombs on southern Sucia Island (the Shaper Tomb where you can find a servile playing his lute underground), you get a text stating that if you look hard enough to the south you can see the mainland (Terrestia). The Sholai came from the west; Western Sea (which for them would be the Eastern Sea). As they were approaching Terrestia a huge storm forced them to land on Sucia Island. It must have been a storm of continental proportions if they landed on Sucia Island while they were approaching from the Western Sea. They've sailed past the Nodye Coast, the Whitespires, Okavano Fen and maybe even Burwood Province because of this storm to reach Sucia Island. As Sucia Island must be located somewhere north of North Eastern Terrestia. The Sholai landed on the Eastern Docks of Sucia Island because of this storm. And I believe one of them said "they could see Terrestia" as the were approaching from the Western Sea but  they landed on the Eastern Docks of Sucia Island because of the storm. I still find it very confusing if not inconsistent. I wish there was a huge map where we can see where the different landmasses are actually located. Then it would be easier to imagine what has actually happen.

 

Furthermore, for the shapers to have completely settled in western Terrestia first, coming from the direction of Sucia Island, then they must have sailed past Burwood Province, the Okavano Fen and the Whitespires to land on the Nodye Coast (the first province settled by the Shapers). Unlikely if you can see the outline of Terrestia south of Sucia Island. An explanation could be that they've landed in Burwood Province and kept it pushing west till they've reached the Nodye Coast. I think that is improbable.

 

I do not like these inconsistencies as it breaks the immersion of the game. I've always loved fantasy world geography.

Edited by Wizard Orcasus
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