Difference between revisions of "Riven"

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== References ==
== References ==
{{Riven navbox}}

Latest revision as of 07:06, 27 November 2020

For the game by Cyan, see Riven (game).
Author Gehn
Connections Age 233, Tay, the Cleft

Riven was the fifth Age written by Gehn. It was probably one of the better Ages he Wrote, in terms of size, technology, and stability. Gehn was extremely devoted to this Age and its well-being—perhaps unusually so, given his callous disregard for his other Ages and their inhabitants—because Gehn maintained a number of very powerful misconceptions about the power of the number five, especially as it pertained to D'ni culture. However, despite this fact, Riven still had many fatal flaws in its writing, as all of Gehn's Ages did, and it was in a state of steady decline. Gehn had attempted to convince his son Atrus to fix the Age's instabilities for him, but ultimately his plan backfired. Atrus managed to trap Gehn there for 33 years, keeping him from writing and affecting more Ages.

Riven's inhabitants ended up splitting into those who followed Gehn and those in rebellion against him, the Moiety. Atrus wrote several improvements into the Age, but it was only a matter of time before Riven collapsed completely. Riven's total and utter collapse happened after an unnamed friend of Atrus's had trapped Gehn and freed Atrus's wife Catherine, who had been trapped there. After all of the villagers had been safely moved to Tay, Atrus's friend opened the Star Fissure, which signaled Atrus but also triggered Riven's final collapse. Riven's dead Descriptive Book was kept in Atrus' study in Tomahna until the return of Saavedro; after the fire in the study, its condition and whereabouts are unknown.


Temple Island (known to the Rivenese villagers as Allapo, "water pool", and to the Moiety as Allatwan, "pool of stars"): the primary link location for Riven's descriptive book, Temple Island was visually dominated by the Golden Dome and features a small number of other structures including the Gate Room and Gehn's temple. It was on this island that the age's instability was most overt, due to the repaired Star Fissure and adjacent telescope.

Jungle Island: the one properly populated island, containing the entirety of the Rivenese population within its village. The island consisted of a lush forest and large lagoon, the latter of which was navigated by way of a small, railed submarine in order to access the schoolhouse and other village amenities.

Book Assembly Island (also known as Crater Island and Boiler Island): one of the three islands strictly forbidden to the Rivenese and used solely for preparing various bookmaking materials and compiling Gehn's research on the age.

Survey Island: arguably the most menacing of the five islands, as it was flanked by rows of wahrk tusks and huge spires of stone. Gehn used this island to survey Riven's deterioration by way of a Map Room, though the island had alternate uses considering the monumental Wahrk Throne Room found on the lower level.

Prison Island: accessible only by linking to it from Age 233, Prison Island was what remained of Riven's Great Tree. Gehn used the single structure on it as a prison, though who would have been kept within it before Catherine's arrival and capture is unknown.

Plant life[edit]

Riven's botanical potential was seen best on the aptly-named Jungle Island. While the coasts were dotted consistently with short, rounded palms, the island's interior consisted of a lush rainforest made up of ferns, huge mushrooms (some notably phosphorescent), and both red- and white-barked trees. Several of these were fruit-bearing, as piles of fruit could be found in both the schoolroom and on Temple Island, and, while it was not easy to connect each fruit with its parent plant, it is known that the five-lobed star fruit was harvested from the jungle's mushrooms.

Riven also hosted underwater vegetation such as colourful lichen, algae and seaweed, all of which seem to comfortably adapt to Riven's atypical water supply in both the lagoons and surrounding islands.

The red- and white-barked trees were also odd in nature. They had large white-barked ridged "bases", similar to the trunks of many northern Earth tree species, that end abruptly at about a sixth of the way up. From there, these bases curve inward like the layers of the trunks of certain mushrooms, forming a sort of "lip". What appears to arise out of the bases is a smooth red/white trunk similar to that of a birch. These trunks end at roughly the same height, giving way to branches that extend horizontally which again, end at roughly the same height, capping the tree. When looking into Riven's jungle, one could literally see a "tree line" which separated the sky from the jungle.

Animal life[edit]

Though they are not all seen upon exploring the age, the standing stones used to access Tay suggest that Riven hosts (or did at one time) a wide array of creatures. Two of the Age's larger creatures could be observed easily enough, the sunners when coming down the steps of Jungle Island and the wahrk in Gehn's massive underground chamber on Survey Island. Other animals, such as the elusive ytram and scarab beetle, could also be found with enough patience and exploration.


Main article: Rivenese water

The water of Riven exhibited strange properties due to, according to Gehn's premature studies, a small, unicellular bacterium residing within it. The bacteria seemed averse to higher temperatures, and so the water could be shifted and molded according to well-placed heat sources (as it was used for the 3-dimensional island maps on Survey Island) or boiled to become potable. Digesting Riven's water in its natural, unboiled state results in choking and stomach trouble, and so the Rivenese villagers developed a powder to neutralize the effect.


The original composition of the Age allowed inhabitants to merely cross the entire big island merely by foot. Later, as the five segments started drifting away from each other, in to their own smaller islands, connecting bridges were created (most notably the East Path),[1] but as the drifting continued became clear that a more flexible means was necessitated.

This led to the construction of the maglev system, a set of trams and stations, with only cabling (which was flexible, and easily replaceable) needed for connection.

Gehn's influence[edit]

Having grown up during the fall of D'ni, Gehn was obsessed with the concept of reviving its traditions and practices no matter the cost. Because of this, several of Gehn's ages, including his Thirty-Seventh Age and Riven, were used as training grounds to teach book-worlders the Art. Gehn had already established the skeleton of a 'Guild of Writers' on Riven, teaching Rivenese natives (most notably Catherine) how to write in D'ni and construct Ages of their own.

During the battle with Atrus, Catherine wrote five giant daggers into the Age which fell on the island and remained ever since (one fell on Gehn's temple). The shape of the one found near the Star Fissure was adopted by the Moiety as their symbol. Other daggers could be found in the Jungle and the Plateau Island. Upon being banished to Riven by his own son, Gehn proceeded to take his place as a god amongst the Rivenese people and began shaping and constructing the age to his own liking. While he was successful in achieving a position of godly power, he managed it only by way of terror and brute force. Petroglyphs and inscriptions around the age give evidence of this.

Riven's collapse[edit]

Among the numerous instabilities of Riven were "the structure of the tectonic plates beneath the planet's crust, the type and strength of the oceanic currents, fluctuations in gravitational fields, and the composition of the crust..."[2] The world's moon was also in a low enough orbit that great tides would eventually drown the island, and in the long run the two bodies would collide. The most severe flaws were corrected by Atrus temporarily, but his fixes began to fail around the time of Catherine's return and captivity.

The final demise of Riven came about upon the reopening of the star fissure. Atrus had been keeping the Age together with his writing and let it die when the people of Riven were evacuated to Tay. The Age began to collapse at last, exacerbated by the fissure's pull.

Remnants of Riven can be found near the Cleft, having fallen through the Star Fissure.

External links[edit]

  • Calyxa's Cartography, with detailed maps of the islands of Riven.
  • Another map of Riven that came with Prima's Secrets of the Games' Riven: Strategy Guide (1997).


  1. RAWA, "What happened to the East Path?", The Pages of RAWA, accessed on December 1, 2019.
  2. Book of Atrus, chapter 21, paperback edition p. 352–353