It's probably hard to believe, but something as simple as a few weeds growing here and there can add a huge amount of realism to something. When rendering some places, particular near the linking cage on temple island, something seemed to be missing. Of course it was the weeds, so Cyan decided to throw a few around, and you can see the results.

moiety scout

During the opening movie the Moiety scout hammers something into the lever to keep the cage from closing again. On closer inspection you cansickle see that it is a Moiety dagger.
Also notice the instrument he uses to hit the dagger. It is a Rivenese sickle probably originally used for harvesting fruit etc. from the forest, now used as a weapon.

choWhen You first arrive on Riven you are confronted by a bumbling little man. This man is one of Gehn's guards, affectionately known as 'Cho' (because it's the first thing he says). 'Cho' certainly isn't the brightest of sparks to be found on Riven. Accordingly, he has been given one of the dullest jobs, to guard the linking cage. The cage itself has been slightly disguised though.

Gehn is unaware of the state of the gateway image in the Riven descriptive book, and knows that if Atrus saw a cage at the linking spot he would never be silly enough to link there. To this end, the cage appears to be a simple structure made to protect the linking site, a common practice for the D'ni. The floor of this structure however is a pressure plate which raises the bars into place when you link in. Cho hears the bars go up and comes to investigate, but because of the Moiety's recent escapades, he assumes it's just another false alarm.

Cho has also been told by Gehn to carry out a couple of tasks if someone were to link in. First he has to recite a few D'ni phrases, however, Cho has been watching the cage for a LONG time and doesn't expect to ever see anyone link in. When you appear he is so excited to see someone he starts talking to you in Rivenese. He then remembers he has to say something in D'ni. Failing that he comes over to take the book. At this stage he is once again darted by a rebel (the same thing happened when Catherine linked in).

Cho actually stuffs up the D'ni lines he was given by Gehn quite badly. Here's what he says, and what he's meant to say:

What Cho says:
tahg-em-ah... re-ko-ah (stutters) tah... tah... tah...tahg-em-ah b'soo re-ko-ah
trap book
What he's "supposed" to say:
tah-ge-mah b'zoo ah re-kor
give-you(command) to-me the-book

which is:
"Gimme that book!"


Here you can see Gehn's guard, 'Cho', lying unconscious on a rock shelf. After the Moiety scout darts 'Cho', he drags him across here and 'throws' him off the edge of the cliff. If you come back later you'll find that 'Cho' has recovered and returned to report yet another failure to Gehn.

The object lying next to him is daggera ceremonial dagger. Receiving this dagger is a customary last rite-of-passage for young recruits who are joining Gehn's elite guard. It is a symbol to the villagers of their authority (not to mention the fact that it's also quite a handy weapon).

pen nib

pillarsThe Gateroom is like a worship room to Gehn and the Art. This weird looking thing coming out of the Gateroom ceiling is probably meant to represent a pen nib, with which Gehn created the age of Riven. The five pillars holding up the roof were constructed from whole tree trunks. The trees are the source of the paper used for the books. The beetles sitting on the trees were the source of the ink.

back doorThe dagger at the base of this door wasn't in the original plan for the game. When the game was in beta testing almost no-one clicked to go under the gate. They clicked on the door once, saw it was locked, then went away thinking they needed to find a key, and never came back. The dagger was added to cut down on frustration levels.


The daggers that can be found in various places in Riven were written in by Catherine before the battle to trap Gehn on age 5. Of course Gehn, in his usual manner, has twisted the story to his own advantage. He claimed he was responsible for the daggers, and that he had placed them around the island as a reminder to the villagers of their failure. He then told the villagers that the daggers marked the beginning of a period of restitution, after which, if they had proven their devotion to him, they would be delivered unto a new and better existence.

There was once a fifth dagger in Riven as well. In 'The Book of Atrus', before Gehn was trapped on Riven, he had a large wooden hut. Since Gehn had already set himself up as a god on that age, the hut was used as a worship temple to him. It contained "luxurious furnishings, marvellous tapestries and statuary, and silver-poled banners lining the walls." During the final sequence when Atrus and Catherine escaped to Myst, a dagger fell into this temple destroying it. Atrus caught a glimpse of this dagger jutting from the ruins.


This icon shows how Gehn, in his all powerful position as a God, defeated Atrus by casting him into the star fissure. The reality of the story is that after destroying all other linking books from age 5, Atrus jumped into the fissure as he linked to MYST island, letting the last linking book fall after him, thereby effectively trapping Gehn in Riven.


This icon signifies the five mock guilds that Gehn has set up on Riven. At the top is Gehn, he who lords over all. Below him are the five Grand Masters of his guilds. Below that are five images representing the guilds. The guilds are, from left to right:
The Guild of Builders
The Guild of Educators
The Guild of Maintainers
The Guild of Surveyors
The Guild of Bookmakers

super domeWhile Gehn may have been quite a smart man, he definitely wasn't a minimalist. He had a small problem with the linking books he made on Riven. They didn't work! :o) But instead of correcting the problem at it's source, he blamed it on the "impure" wood of the Riven forest and proceeded to engineer a cumbersome mechanical remedy - a complex series of domes - to heal his books inherent flaws. One of the consequences of this crude solution, however, was that the domes demanded huge amounts of energy. This energy is supplied by the Super dome.

locking deviceGehn soon realised that if he were somehow able to supply the books with a power source of sufficient magnitude, he could suppress the variance enough to facilitate a solid link. Most (if not all) of the machinery on Riven is steam powered or hydraulic. There are pipes that channel steam from the underground lava heated water to most of the devices. He also realised that it was doubtful that these geothermal cap generators could provide such an enormous surge of energy, and that perhaps he could adapt the fire-marbles. He was fire marble domeeventually successful in modifying the fire-marbles to generate enough power and was then able to link to a new age, his 233rd age to be exact. He then put his new technique into use in the form of the "waffle-iron" above the superdome.

waffle ironThis new type of fire-marble, more appropriately referred to as "power-marbles" were extremely volatile. Gehn had tampered with them so that instead of gradually releasing their energy over time in the form of light, they released almost all of it at once. In other words they explode. :o) All that was needed to trigger this explosion was for them to be 'hit' with something (or if you were clumsy, dropped). In order to actually use them he had to create some sort of containment device for the energy, and then a method of distribution. The 'waffle-iron' was the most effective way of containing this massive surge of energy as well as a way to set the reaction off. With the marbles placed in their correct positions the locking device can be lowered onto the plate, at which point you'll notice 20-foot long locking pins slide into place, designed to hold everything down when the marbles explode. power distribution deviceNow move back and press the start button. Five tiny pins located above the correct marble positions then drop down, striking the marbles full force, causing an almost nuclear reaction in the confined spaces. This explosion forces a surge of plasma to gush down into the distribution device just below it in the dome, which then directs all the plasma to each of the "Fire Marble Domes" throughout Riven and powers them up. You are now ready to link.

At appointed times the villagers would come to the temple to give offerings to the great Wahrk. Gehn would watch them arrive in the MagLev through the portal, then open the door. As they lay the fruit and flowers, Gehn's image watches them from the imager as he barks his commands or approvals into his microphone.

temple imagerIf you leave Temple Island and then return in the MagLev you'll notice that the door to the temple has been closed. As you approach, the door opens to reveal Gehn's face in the imager. Obviously he's broadcasting from the small room up the hall from the temple, unfortunately you can't catch him, and I have no idea how he escapes so quickly.

raising the bridge

It's always nice to see something from a different angle. So how about watching the stairs leading up to the top of the super dome raising from below. Just push the lever up before you turn the power on from below. This is also the case for the drawbridge into the super dome from Book Assembly Island.



Many people don't realize that the lift that leads to the fire-marble dome on Temple Island, can be operated from below while your not on it. If you do so you'll find a drain underneath. Some people have commented that they were disappointed by this fact, expecting to find a secret passage or such. I prefer the fact that there isn't, and I feel this drain adds more realism to Riven.

starsNot much is known about the star fissure. Appearing during the battle to trap Gehn on Riven, its nature is as mysterious as its origins. It is not known whether it was a by product of Catherine's alterations to the age 5 book or a direct result of what she wrote. What is known about it is that it can support life. Atrus describes it as "a gentle space, as hospitable to life as a flowing river." Atrus cast himself into the fissure to trap Gehn, but when he linked, his MYST book continued falling. Somehow this book made its way to Earth, where you found it at the start of MYST. It is because of this that Atrus lets you fall into the fissure, believing that it will also return you to Earth.

telescopeGehn however doesn't have this knowledge. He saw the linking book fall into the fissure, but didn't know what became of it. In order to find out, he set up an elaborate telescope to view the fissure's stars. He then cast villagers - alleged transgressors of the law - into the fissure to see what happened to them. Because of the limitations of Gehn's telescope it is not known what became of them. My suspicions are that they ended up somewhere in Papua New Guinea, unable to integrate with the natives there, they started their own culture, keeping only their native Rivenese dialect. :o) (for those that didn't get that joke, you may be interested to know that the language that the Rivenese speak is actually a real-life dialect spoken by natives in parts of Papua New Guinea.)

opening the star fissureThere are many times in Riven where the player must make some crucial decisions. In some cases these decisions can have dire consequences. The correct moment to open the star fissure is one of these times. If you haven't completed all the tasks Atrus has set out for you, the ending will be far from happy. Apart from the 'good' ending where Gehn is trapped and Catherine is free, there are three other 'bad' endings to do with opening the fissure at the wrong time. I highly recommend you see these in game for yourself.

The first occurs if you open the fissure before you get the trap book back from the Moiety. 'How is this possible?' you ask. 'You get the combination for the fissure cover from Catherine's diary the same time you get the trap book back!' Well there's always the chance you might open it through blind luck :o). Alternatively you could just restore a saved game from the beginning after you've found out what the code is. This ending is the dullest of all since the only thing that happens is that the fissure opens and you fall in. Nothing else at all.

showdownYou'll get to see the second 'bad' ending if you open the fissure before you trap Gehn in the book. Atrus links in and runs over to you. Asks about Catherine and looks in the empty trap book. It's at this point that Gehn appears. A VERY brief conversation occurs in which Gehn disowns Atrus then promptly shoots him. After taking the linking book, he thanks you for 'freeing' him from Riven, then leaves you alone with Cho, who shoots you.

AtrusThe third and final 'bad' ending at the fissure occurs if you open the fissure after you trap Gehn but fail to release Catherine. Atrus links in, sees you have the trap book with Gehn inside but is mystified (no pun intended) why you haven't released Catherine. "I don't understand! You've captured Gehn but... why did you signal me? There's no time left. The age is collapsing." What follows, as you fall through the star field, is a sombre soliloquy where Atrus laments the collapse of Riven and the loss of his wife Catherine.

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

All Riven images 1996, 1997 Cyan, Inc. All rights reserved Riven Cyan, Inc.