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Ages of Riven

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What follows is a list of Ages visited or alluded to in the game of Riven.

Riven ("Age 5")

Riven Age

A path on Riven's Temple Island

Creatures:Ytrams (frogs), Wahrks, Sunners, Beetles and other animals, also several species of fish.
Geography:Once an island, now broken to a group of five islands. Four of the five are inter-connected using magnetic levitation ('mag-lev') vehicles; steam pipes also distribute energy between them. The fifth island, on which stood an enormous tree, has long since floated away from the others.
Inhabitants:Humanoids, known as Rivenese
Vegetation:Tall trees, grass, flowers, forming tropical jungles.
Written by:Gehn

Named the Fifth Age by Gehn, as it was the fifth he had created in the ancient Art of crafting worlds through novels, Riven was probably Gehn’s best age, as far as size, technology, and stability went. Even still, it had several flaws in its writing, as all his ages did, and was in a steady state of decline. Gehn had never fully mastered the Art of crafting ages, as all were said to deteriorate and eventually collapse over time. Atrus trapped Gehn in this age for 33 years in an attempt to put an end to his crusade of systematic conquering, and destruction of Ages.

During this part of history, the island split into five (due to its inherent instability) separate ones. Gehn claimed and restricted four of those to himself and to his close personnel. The native villagers were limited to one of these islands on which their huts resided. Gehn initially used bridges to connect his islands, but later after having developed the technology in these primitive conditions (which also includes a steam generated power source), he moved to a “mag-lev” network comprised of single-seat cars. (cf. Richard Watson (RAWA)'s page explaining the east path) Gehn used one of his claimed islands to make and develop the proper books and inks in order to attempt to revive the Art of crafting ages in order to escape his prison world. Gehns ultimate goal was to create another habitable world or Age to move to before Riven became too unstable and collapsed, as well as obtain a way of getting to D'Ni, his home world. On another he built a temple and the Age’s source of power, utilizing exotic 'fire marbles' he discovered on Riven. On a third he constructed a large comples map which detailed the islands' topographical features and locations of his mini-domes in which he housed his linking books to his '233rd Age' which was his first new success at creating a new Age. The fact that is his 233rd Age shows how many tries it took him to create one. On the smallest island he created a prison for Catherine whom he had captured (Catherine is the aforementioned Atrus' wife). Gehn’s prison was actually where Riven’s great tree once stood. It had once towered over the island, but Gehn cut it down when Atrus trapped him there, and built a prison out of the stump.

Because of Gehn's forced occupation of Riven, it's native inhabitants were split between those who followed Gehn and those who rebelled against him and came to believe Catherine was their mesiah who would deliver them to a better place due to her amazing and heroic actions alongside Atrus which were witnessed when they succeeded in trapping Gehn on Riven, and removing his only doorway out - a linking book to D'Ni - by throwing it into the Star Fissure. The Star Fissure is seemingly a tear in the fabric of the world/Age due to Gehn's flawed writing of it. It is a fissure in which stars (outer space) were visible and which Atrus fell into as well, it is oddly enough capable of supporting life because Atrus survived his fall through it. Later Gehn (along with the forced labour of the natives) sealed the Star Fissure with plates of iron. Atrus managed to return to D'Ni and proceeded to make constant improvements and adjustments to Riven's texts in order to delay it's decay until a time when he could somehow rescue his beloved wife. The final collapse happened when a mysterious friend of Atrus (the player in the Myst franchise of computer games) succeeded in trapping Gehn in a modified D'Ni linking book which acted as a one man prison. It trapped him in the link between both Ages in eternal darkness. The mysterious friend then proceeded to free Atrus’s wife Catherine and then moved all of the people of Riven to 'Tay', Gehn's 234th Age (which was discarded by him as a failed attempt but subsequently retrieved by Catherine and repaired to functionality as an Age by her). After this, the stranger proceeded to reopen the Star Fissure in order to signal Atrus to link back to Riven (from D'Ni) with a real D'Ni linking book as an escape for them, but the reopening also triggered Riven’s end.

Temple Island

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Also known as Dome Island or Allatwan in Rivenese, it is consisted of two smaller isles. The Link-in point of Riven is on this island, and it contains the Dome that redirects energy to Gehn's Linking Domes, the Star Fissure, and the Beetle Room with prayers to Gehn. The other isle contains the Temple. Gehn would transmit images and messages from a chamber on this island. Upon entering the temple for the first time, you will catch a fleeting glimpse of his image.

Jungle Island

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Also known as Village Island and Riven proper, here is the only surviving Village, where the vast majority of the surviving Rivenese population is concentrated. Access to all other islands (with the exception of Temple island, for ceremonial purposes) was forbidden to the Rivenese by Gehn. The island contains a lagoon, with an underwater railway, where the school is located, as well as the Wahrk gallows where Gehn punished disloyal Rivenese by feeding them to the Wahrks of the lake. The game explains the bizarre holes in the lagoon by way of a bacterium that increases surface tension in response to heat. Many trees have been cut down to be converted into paper for Gehn's books at Boiler Island. This is also the island with the five wooden eyes, each eye bearing different animal shapes and sounds, crucial for the solution of an important puzzle of the game.

Crater Island

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Boiler Island as seen from Temple Island

Also known as Boiler or Book Assembly Island, a boiler for making paper and books is found here, as well as Gehn's original headquarters. The island is a dormant volcanic crater with a large lake inside of it. In the middle of the lake is a pump with a turn-lever on it that powers a few of the island's devices. One of the devices was a trap that Gehn used to capture ytram, whose bodily liquids were used for poison darts. Trees cut down on Jungle Island are placed in a mine cart that is shipped all the way to Boiler Island, where they are dumped down onto a slide that leads to a crushing device that turns the wood into shavings, which are then placed in the boiler, which is heated to remove the fibers from the wood. After this, it can be pressed into paper. Interestingly, a paper press behind the boiler area was originally in the game but was scrapped in the final version because the press's presence confused many testers. A glimpse of the paper press can be seen from at least one game location, and its movies and images still exist on Disc 1 of Riven.

Plateau Island

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Also known as Map, Survey, Spike, Garden or Matrix Island, it has a wide plateau with a miniature map of the Riven islands. Gehn used this island to study the deterioration of the Riven Age. It likely also served a ceremonial role, as Gehn surrounded the island with Wahrk tusks. This island is the only known place in Riven where you can find the magnificent Wahrk. When you reach a certain point in the basement of the island, you can see a glass tank holding a large amount of water – and when a combination of lights is turned on, the dangerous Wahrk comes forth!

Prison Island

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Once holding the massive Tree of Riven, after Gehn had cut the tree down for his Books, it now served as the prison of Catherine. The Prison Island had drifted far away from the other islands and was only reachable through Gehn's Age 233. In fact, it was so far away, it couldn't even be seen from the other four islands.

Age 233

Age 233

Age 233 terrain

Written by:Gehn
Creatures:None known.
Geography:Once many islands in a caustic sea, whose level was lowered revealing the corroded bases.
Inhabitants:Gehn
Vegetation:None known.

This Age was the first relatively stable Age Gehn wrote as he was trapped on Riven with no way out. His previous attempts had all failed either because of his flawed Writing, or the lack of a power source for his Books. He called it his "233rd Age", sometimes referring to it as his "Office Age". As with all the Ages that came from Gehn's writing, this too was an unstable one.

The strange formation of the mountains in the Age are due to the sea, in the Age's history, being at a much higher level and very caustic. Over time it lowered, producing the "Upside-Down Mountain" landscape.

Gehn himself had to wear protective clothing whenever venturing out into the Age from his office built into a mountain, as it was very harsh. A large device atop his Office, somewhat resembling a dish antenna, was actually used to collect the sparse rain water that fell in the Age and then funnel it to a sink in the small bedroom that sat under his office.

Gehn's Age 233 served as a nexus for the Age of Riven, containing Linking Books to the various islands.

Age 234

Gehn's Age 234 is only mentioned in passing in his journal, and is never actually seen.

Tay (Moiety Age)

Tay Age

Tay Hive from front

Written by:Gehn (originally), Catherine/Katran (later)
Creatures:Large Bird-Like creatures.
Geography:A large tree in the middle of a lake, surrounded by mountains.
Inhabitants:Moiety rebels, originally native to Riven.
Vegetation:None known apart from the tree.

Based on a discarded failed Age by Gehn, Catherine salvaged the Book and managed to write a stable Age. Originally it was merely a hideout place for the Moiety rebellion of the Rivenese, but Tay later became the refuge of the entire Rivenese population, aside from Katran / Catherine. It was meant to resemble the Great Tree of Riven when it was still intact.

At the End of Myst IV Atrus says that Catherine took little Yeesha to Tay for a while, signifying that Atrus has a linking book there.

D'ni

D'ni, or to be more exact, the island of K'veer in the D'ni caverns, are where the intro movie of the game takes place. K'veer was the D'ni noble Veovis' home before the downfall, and was where Gehn lived after the fall. The lower level was a large prison, where the book of Riven was originally kept. Atrus is constantly writing changes to his father's work, trying to delay the inevitable collapse of Age 5.

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