gehn's 233rd age

Unbeknownst to Atrus, Gehn has been successful in linking to another age, although it took him 29 years to do so. It was a harsh and desolate world, but Gehn decided it would be suitable for his purposes, and so, in his usual manner, he designated it as his 233rd age . He figured that he would be able to study it in order to assist him in creating his new age for the villagers. He then set up an office and living quarters there so he could conduct his experiments233 in safety and without distractions. Once he had set up his linking books, he then also had immediate access to all five of Riven's islands.


If you look really closely at the medallions on the covers of Gehn's linking books you may notice some extremely small D'ni text. This text is impossible to read in-game, but with the help of Richard Watson we know that it actually says 'ilais'. Ilais is a D'ni word meaning to "charge" or "power up". Why exactly it's written there is unknown but one possibility is that Gehn put this on these Books to distinguish them from Linking Books which didn't require a power source. Also on these medallions can be seen a small D'ni number one symbol. Why this is there is even more perplexing than the D'ni text above it.

trap bookDid you ever wonder why Gehn was so eager to use what he thought was the linking book back to D'ni. He would have to be fairly stupid not to be somewhat suspicious about it, especially if you hesitated to use it yourself. This is an explanation from Mark DeForest of Cyan...
Yes, Gehn is an intelligent man, but he is also desperate. This scenario is much like a poisoned glass of wine. If you offered Gehn a glass of wine he suspected was poisoned, he would ask you to drink it first. If you drank it without hesitation then he would think that it might not be poisoned and if it was something he really wanted (such as a linking book out of prison), then he might take a chance. Admittedly, if you didn't use the trapbook until the third time, Gehn should be a little more suspicious than if you used it the first time he held it in front of you. But this is hard for you to see while you are trapped in the book. And actually, there was suppose to be a much longer delay before Gehn uses the trapbook after you use it to represent that many days have past. But because of gameplay reasons, we couldn't leave the screen black for very long or else people would reset their machines thinking the game crashed (Doh!).
trapped If you pay attention to the sequence where Gehn prepares to use the book, you may notice something slightly concerning. Gehn certainly hasn't mended his ways as he'd have you believe. Watch closely and you'll see that Gehn is holding his gun and fully intends to take it with him when he links. Perhaps he only intends to use it for self defence or as a form of insurance, but the more likely scenario is that he intends to either shoot Atrus, or at the very least, threaten him with it.

d'ni numeralsMany people seem to find the D'ni numeral system a little confusing. To be perfectly honest, the first time I played Riven, I was numbered among them (no pun intended). It wasn't that I couldn't figure out the numerals, the thing I didn't get was why Gehn had written 'rd' after the numerals for his age. Now that I'm a little more knowledgeable on the subject, it all makes sense. Unlike our number system, which is base 10, the D'ni number system works on base 25. While the numbers Gehn wrote were '9' and '8', this doesn't mean that it was his '98rd' age. That doesn't make sense. In base 10, a nine in the second column means (9 x 10 = 90). In D'ni however, the number in the second column is a multiple of 25. So in this case (9 x 25 = 225) plus the 8 in the second column (225 + 8 = 233), making this his "233rd' age. Which makes perfect sense.

gehn's writing desk

Gehn has set up a desk in his new age with all the utensils and ingredients he needs for writing ages. Gehn has based this desk on his father's in D'ni. He has meticulously placed all the objects in the places his father would have. In the centre is the pen, the instrument of creation. In the jar to the left is the special ingredient used to activate the ink, the lifeblood of the ages. To the right is his golden beetle inkwell, it's shape symbolising the ink's source. Finally, in the front is the Kor'nea, or blank book.

writing desk canopy

Gehn's writing desk has been ornately decorated. So much so that it almost resembles an altar. Around the canopy of the desk are a number of 'stars', under which is some D'ni text.

The text reads:
.kehneht tsahvahn t'mahrntahv
Which translates to:
We are immortal in creation

animal skeleton

When looking through the windows of Gehn's office you may notice a skeleton. Unlike in Myst, this isn't a human's but some sort of animal's. It kind of looks like a type of crocodile or alligator that perished in that age's harsh atmosphere. You can find it just behind Gehn's writing desk.
However this may only be an illusion due to rock forms combined with an over active imagination (or maybe I've been staring at the screen too long :o)

rock formationsThe rock formations littered throughout Gehn's 233rd age may look very majestic but they also seem a little too fanciful. Could formations like this occur in real life? Well actually there is some easily explainable, totally natural, geological history behind them. Gehn's 233rd age is a highly caustic environment. Sometime in the past the seas were at a much higher level than they currently are. When they were at this higher level, the acids etc. in the water ate away at the submerged rock, while leaving the rock exposed to the air untouched. Now the seas are at a much lower level and are no longer caustic. How exactly this drastic change in sea level happened, I have no idea.

roof dish

The dome on the roof of Gehn's office appears as if it were made to focus the sun's rays to provide power for his books. While it does perhaps help in 'firing' up the boiler inside his office, it's main purpose is much more menial, simply to collect rain water. Gehn's 233rd age is a desolate and dry place so he needs as much water assink possible, and transporting enough from Riven would be a difficult task. The collected water is channelled down to his bedroom for use in his sink.

book power 'stove'

When Gehn was making his books on Riven they were still fairly crude and needed to be powered to make them work. The giant dome was Gehn's first power system. It wasn't very efficient, and he doesn't use it much any more. (Which is why you've got to start it up...)
As his Bookmaking recipe and skills got better, less power was needed to compensate for their problems. Accordingly his power source didn't need to be quite as elaborate. The stove on Age 233 supplies plenty of power for the linking books back to Riven.

marel-obeAlthough Gehn is portrayed as quite the sadistic person in Riven, he does in fact have a more mellow side. In his spare time, when he's not sacrificing villagers to the Wahrk or generally acting like a god, Gehn likes to play his favourite D'ni instrument, the Marel-obe. Although Gehn himself has admitted to not beingcannen all that talented, he does believe that he derives great strength and inspiration from playing his instrument. Gehn's Marel-obe can be found hanging in his bedroom below ground.
Gehn has also gone about recording some of his performances. In order to do so he had to recreate a D'ni recording device called a Cannen. He then placed this Cannen in his office so he had something to listen to while writing. In one of his diaries Gehn writes: "...a certain meditative clearness seems to descend on me while smoking and listening to the Cannen. Immediately following this meditation, my writing becomes much more fluid and effortless." I tend to think it might be caused by the Ytram extract in his pipe. :o)

keta's portraitGehn has had respect for only two people in his life. Unfortunately they are both dead. The two portraits hanging on the wall in his bedroom are these two people. Firstly, the one on the left is his wife Keta. Keta died while giving birth to Gehn's son Atrus. The inscription on the photo reads "To Gehn, my husband and my salvation. I dedicate myself to the love that rescued me."
On the right is a portrait of Gehn's father, Aitrus. Before Aitrus died, he drew a map that led Gehn and his motheraitrus's portrait Anna out from D'ni after the collapse. Of special note in this picture are Aitrus's eyes. Like all of the D'ni, his irises are a very pale, almost white, colour.

keta in imager

After the fall of D'ni, Gehn and his mother Anna, lived on the surface of the earth for quite some time. Gehn met Keta (then known as Leira) and married her during that time. When Keta began having problems during her pregnancy with Atrus, Gehn turned to Anna. Anna could do nothing to save her but, and she eventually died immediately after giving birth.
One of the few things that Gehn has left to remember his wife Keta by is a simple imager message. When you activate the imager in Gehn's bedroom it will play this message for you. Keta is speaking in D'ni and some of it is hard to understand. The message seems to be a pledge of her love for Gehn.

gehn's journalOne of the most moving parts of Riven can be found in Gehn's 233rd age diary. This next passage gives the reader a rare glimpse into the very core of Gehn's heart. If you can read it without feeling some compassion for the man, then there might be something wrong with you. :o)

"It's late and I cannot sleep. I've lost so much in my life. My people, my father, my son, and you my wife - Keta, you were the only true kindness I have ever known. Watching you flicker in the imager. . . . I sometimes wonder if you were real. If I could restore your life with my pen, I would do so in an instant, and leave the rest of the world to their own wretched fate."journal entry

handwritingThere are a couple of other things in particular to note about this entry. Firstly you should look closely at Gehn's handwriting compared to the other entries. Usually it is very precise and elegant, but when he wrote this it was late at night and he was in a very emotional state. Secondly, look closely at the very end of the entry. There is a little round water stain.tear drop Gehn must have been crying as he wrote this, a rare occurrence indeed for a 'god' that will recreate the D'ni.

open timepieceThe timepiece sitting on Gehn's bedside table is a unique device. Given to him by his mother Anna, it is one of the only authentic pieces of D'ni craftsmanship still in Gehn's possession. It displays to the user both the surface time and the D'ni time alongside. Gehn has somehow interpreted this fact as being a reminder to him that he is part human as well as D'ni, his problem being "the impurity of my mother's blood."
Although it isn't known with anyclosed timepiece certainty, Gehn seems to believe that the etched continents on its surface represent Garternay: birthplace of the Art.

torn linking book

When you free Catherine from her prison she runs off to tell the villagers of Gehn's capture, and to offer them refuge in the Rebel Age. To do so, she must take a detour through Gehn's 233rd age. While she's there she goes about ripping the page containing the linking panel from four of his linking books. This effectively prevents you from linking to those four islands and focuses you on the task at hand, ie. opening the fissure.
In addition to this the walkway inside the super dome has been retracted, and the button to call the MagLev to Jungle island has mysteriously malfunctioned.

Some of the most interesting of Riven's multiple endings take place in Gehn's 233rd age office. These have to be seen in game to be fully appreciated, but I have documented them here anyway.

fade to blackThe one most likely to be seen by the player shows Gehn's impatient nature. When you first link to the 233rd age with the trap book, Gehn will ask you to use it first as a sign of your good will. If you refuse he will let you leave and explore the islands some more until you make up your mind. The second time you return and refuse he becomes slightly more impatient with you. However he does let you leave, albeit with a warning... "I think you should not come back unless you are willing to use the book." That warning should be taken very seriously, for if you return a third time and refuse to use the book he will shoot you. As the screen fades to black... "You see, I have changed. There was a time when I might have let you live."

gloweringIf the player has been convinced by Gehn's speech and feels remorse for trapping him, they can release him from the book. If you do so in his office you'll see this next 'bad' ending. Now that you are trapped in the book all you see is darkness. The cover is opened to reveal Gehn glowering down at the book. "I don't know exactly why you released me, but you realise of course that this must be the end for you." He then goes on with his speech about how with this act of self sacrifice you have secured you place in history and that the D'ni culture will be reborn.

The last two endings are similar in ways but reflect slightly different circumstances. Both occur if you use the trap book somewhere in Riven, but one happens if you've already seen Gehn without out it and the other if you haven't yet visited the 233rd age. Using the book you become trapped.cho The next thing you are presented with is a view of Cho through the book. He is trapped inside the linking cage in Gehn's office, much like you might have been had you linked there before using the book. Gehn orders him to place his hand on the book. As he links into the trap you are transported into his place inside the cage. Gehn is in front of you holding up the trap book. This is where the two endings differ.

shootIf you haven't yet seen him, Gehn will immediately pick up his gun and shoot you. It seems he subscribes to the 'shoot first, ask questions later' school of thought. After which he introduces himself... "Forgive me, I don't believe we've met. I am Gehn." In the other version he acknowledges the fact that you have been there before without the book. "I see you found the book. Thank you for returning it to me. It seems however, circumstances have changed." He still shoots you though. I guess he must believe that his actions are justified, but who knows what's going on in that man's mind.

Since a lot of the information I have put up here is based on my own interpretations, some of it may be incorrect. If you think there is a problem with anything here, please fill out this form, and send it to me. Or, if you have anything that you think I should add, also please fill out this form. Thank you.

Last update, 26-oct-1999 author:Stewart Bradford
temple island
jungle island
book assembly island
survey island
prison island
tay (rebel age)
gehn's 233rd age
misc. information
easter eggs

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