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House Unshaperlike Activities Committee in Geneforge 4: Rebellion
Member # 7727
Profile #46
Maybe it's a matter of definition -- and I'm not sure the game text itself is 100-percent consistent in this regard -- but I think there are some distinct categories that sometimes get blurred here.

Essence: a kind of life-force, mana, "the Force." An all-pervasive but subtle and immaterial aether that exists at the root of ALL being (like the Hindu concept of Brahma), though it may not be perceived by the non-enlightened, and the ability to manipulate it is the special province of the initiated adept.

Magic: the broad discipline of using the power of mind ("Intelligence") to channel and focus Essence in order to accomplish specific tasks. Grouped in general categories -- Healing, Blessing, Battle, Mental -- magic seems to be regarded in the Geneforge universe as morally neutral, capable of being used for good or ill.

Shaping: a form of genetic engineering. It is closely analogous, but not identical, to the "hard science" version of GE that exists in our world (in which genes are physically manipulated in order to create novel life forms). This is shown by such things as shaping "tools" and "laboratories," and those quasi-scientific devices in GF2 that you could peer into and see tiny objects that sound a lot like chromosomes. Yet the version of GE that exists in the Geneforge universe seems more closely akin to magic (as defined above), in that it appears to involve a focusing or channeling of essence, not physical genes.

Shaping could, in this view, be regarded as a kind of offshoot or discipline -- or heretical deviation, if you prefer -- of magic in general. Or it could be regarded as a kind of parallel tradition, like the different kinds of Yoga identified by Shiva in the Bhagavad Gita, each of which is valid and powerful, all of which draw upon the same universal essence or Brahma, but each of which also is quite distinct.

On this basis, I think you could legitimately take a position that is opposed to Shaping, specifically, but not to magic in general. One might even argue that magic is too diffuse, manifold and ubiquitous to oppose -- that it is an innate power of consciousness, human and non-human. One may object to specific magical operations or "spells," such as Aura of Flames, yet not to others like Heal. (The Geneforge universe seems to recognize such distinctions, as in the high-level spells of GF2 that could not be learned unless the character is "changed.")

But for all this, I think the game text is somewhat blurry. For instance the term "shaper" is used in earlier games to refer to ANY character, whether or not he or she has learned or utilized any shaping abilities. Elsewhere, however, there is a clear and consistent line drawn, i.e. "Teach me magic" as opposed to "Teach me shaping."

I'm only halfway through GF4, but I'm feeling some Trakovite sympathies. And in that sense I agree with the sentiment of the topic title, because I do think this makes me suspiciously "unshaperlike."
Posts: 4 | Registered: Saturday, December 2 2006 08:00
Strategy Central -- Links to Useful Information in Geneforge 4: Rebellion
Member # 7727
Profile #7
"Done. Nothing fancy, and it could get messed up if the board is pruned, but hopefully it'll work for now."

Oh dear ... is the board likely to get pruned? I'd be pretty much lost without this body of strategic wisdom.
Posts: 4 | Registered: Saturday, December 2 2006 08:00
Trainers in Geneforge 4: Rebellion
Member # 7727
Profile #0
Has anybody compiled a list of where Trainers are to be found?

I'm in the midst of my first game, and trying to hold back on using too many canisters.

Posts: 4 | Registered: Saturday, December 2 2006 08:00
Storyline and Endings in Geneforge 4: Rebellion
Member # 7727
Profile #16
Originally written by Servile Synergy:

I'm not quite sure how to put my finger on it, but the endings are the one part of the game that isn't satisfying to me.


I know what you mean, though I can't quite put my finger on it, either.

Maybe some aspect of this -- a sense of lacking fulfillment or something -- is an inherent part of being "trapped" as a character in somebody else's story-universe. I mean, ideally, you want to feel that you're a protagonist, not a mere bit player, and that you are somehow you've got free well, you're in control of your own destiny. But what meaning can "free will" possibly have when, in reality, "you" are just making a series of allowable choices, plotting a track through a finite field of game possibilities, each of which leads to a programmed outcome?

The closest I've been to feeling satisfied, I think, was aligning with the Awakened in GF2, and winning the game with no canisters. There was a line toward the very end of the final "outcome" script to the effect of: Your life is hard, but you have the satisfaction of knowing that you did the right thing. (Or words to that effect.) When I read that I thought, Okay, I can live with that.
Posts: 4 | Registered: Saturday, December 2 2006 08:00