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Speculation! [Evidence-based]

Started by ArtDrake, August 04, 2015, 02:12:43 PM

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What makes you so certain they're mechanical? The "skin" of the construct looks like bone marrow to me, and I'm not sure where you're getting the idea the hand is just covered by a gauntlet -- the claws and hand look pretty seamless to me. The left figure in 03 is the only one that looks mechanical to me.

But yes, it does seem odd that shadowlings would use such organic forms -- bone is a recurring theme in these pictures, and bone is a pretty quintessential essence of organic life. Going off your theory that these pictures are in-universe propaganda, perhaps shadowlings are rarely seen, and these are artists' depictions? It would make sense that artists would assume alien creatures are humanoid, rather than floaty smoke ball things.

Personally, I'm pretty interested by the bone horse, particularly the detail of the flies. It looks like they're flying towards the horse, possibly even making up its components? Very strange.

On another note, the rebar in 04 is very interesting... I wouldn't be so quick to assume it disqualifies this from being in the Telepath universe, though. Wikipedia says that rebar was used as early as the 1400s, and Cera Bella's technology is actually pretty modern, so I wouldn't be too surprised by its existence in the Telepath universe. It might denote a future era, but not a far future one. It would fit if this was a century or two after the events of TRPG2.


I'm getting most of the 'mechanical' hypothesis from the fact that it looks like the material is black iron. If you look closely at the chest, you see the color of rust, which could just be dried blood, of course, but then a little to the left of that, you can see the gentle gradient from where the surface interacts with ambient light in a way that screams "metallic". Its spikes don't look like bony protrusions -- they look like blades, just like what look to me like metal blades in the background.

Bone doesn't naturally have those kinds of holes in it. Knives like this one do:


As for the idea that the hand with claws is actually a clawed gauntlet -- I don't really believe that's the case, but I'm noting that a hand could fit inside that shape. The fact that the hand and claws flow seamlessly together doesn't contradict this; a clawed gauntlet would be made of one material.

Really, if we're pursuing the shadowling connection, I'd think it'd be more plausible to suggest they were updated Phantom Armors. I don't see anything organic about them, apart from bone, and I'm not sure where you're getting bone marrow.

And the horse? I got the impression the flies were buzzing hungrily after the last little scraps of burning, rotting meat off this horse's skeleton. Or they just symbolize decay.




[spoiler=Overview and Setting]Wow. There's a lot to take in here. The scene is what looks to possibly be a parlour, with a well-dressed man in matching suit and pants, wearing what look like loafers of some kind -- he's holding a cigar in one hand, and a brandy glass (or cognac or bourbon glass, depending on how you look at it) with some kind of green liquid in it (though perhaps that's just the light) -- sitting on a leather(?) sofa. On the side table next to him, a green vessel (either a glass bottle or a painted metal flask, potentially) that probably contains more of the alcoholic beverage he's drinking. On the table in front of him, hundreds of gold coins, though I see no markings on them; they could be generic pieces, or a form of unmarked bullion, or maybe the lighting just forbids seeing the markings. Either way, this guy is stacked. Oh, and he seems to either be a cyborg or an artificial human -- note the seams in the skull that indicate he's made of components, and the mechanical eye.

Between the style of the suit, the style of the scrollwork of the wood above him, and the shape of the flask, I'm going to peg this scene as being (though of course anachronism of styles can occur in alternate settings like the Telepath universe) from no earlier than 1870, give or take. Naturally, this scene could be found even in a contemporary setting, because styles don't disappear. Note also the cigar that's incredibly straight -- it looks machine-made. However, I'm more interested in the lower bound on date that this scene can establish, because other pictures (02 and 05, especially) are better at establishing an upper bound. I'm pretty confident that this is a post-Industrial scene, though, of course, we know that in the Telepath universe, the Mechanics and Helenites are busy having a little Industrial Revolution of their own during what for everyone else is arguably late medieval or early Renaissance, depending on whom you ask.[/spoiler]

[spoiler=Drink and Flask]What's he drinking? It's definitely either a brandy or a whiskey. If it's a form of bourbon, then that places us in the second half of the 19th century again, though if it's cognac or another brandy, that doesn't help as much. It looks green, but it may in fact be brown/gold, with just a trick of the light giving the greenish impression. In the former case, perhaps it's a pear brandy (serious possibility) or a kale whiskey (not-so-serious possibility). In the latter, it could be anything. Similarly, the green of the bottle might indicate its contents, or be simply a decorative feature. I'm not even really clear on whether it's a bottle or a flask. It's too circular for most flasks, but too angular for most bottles. As such, I'm leaning towards a metal flask, which have no restrictions on their shapes in the way glass bottles do.[/spoiler]

[spoiler=Cybernetics]His mechanical eye is green, and his face and skull come in several presumably detachable parts. Despite the sheer novelty of this detail, it doesn't really tell us much about the setting, apart from the existence of construction of humanesque machines (if the rest of him is artificial, too) or the reconstruction of lost parts with technology (if he's just cybernetic in some way). I mean, there could be a third option that shows I'm completely wrong, but those are the only two possibilities obvious to me. It fits with the existence of steampunk technologies in the previous games -- I'm very much up for seeing a bit of post-Industrial cyberpunk.[/spoiler]

And the coins just tell us he's loaded. It could be evidence of gambling, since they're stacked like poker chips, in which case this is probably a small haul for him and he's even richer than this; or it could be money put forward to entice, as part of a business proposition (with the person he's currently smiling at?), designed to impress upon this person the means of their potential backer.

Oh, and his thumb is bandaged, it seems. Some ideas as to the significance of this come to mind, but none of them are really worth discussing in the absence of more information. Something something insulin monitoring after major surgery.

[Also, I did a thing where I upscaled the image to a higher resolution so it'd be easier to get a really close look at all the details present in the picture. These things were present before, but it was just hard to zoom in close enough for them, and the pixellation was off-putting; it's nicer to look at closely now.]




[spoiler=Overview]No enhancements necessary on this one. I'm definitely calling symbolism here. "The mind is an open book" ... to Psys? To modern science? The hand is glowing, so I'm leaning towards the former. Not sure about the embers flying everywhere. Maybe it's to put a negative spin on the whole thing, with a bit of alarmist sentiment thrown in: "They read your mind like an open book!" Not sure what the person being Scanned(???) is wearing -- looks fancy. I can't see that they have hair, either.

The real significance of this picture is that it lends far more credibility to the thoughts that 04 and 06 are also merely forms of symbolism, and similarly, also possibly alarmist propagandization. See also 02 on that note.[/spoiler]

[spoiler=General Speculation]On a separate note, if I didn't know better, I'd say that looking at the possibly Russian coastline barely visible beneath the clouds in 04, the Russian-looking facial features and dress of the soldier(?) in 02, and the contrasts between the abject poverty of the peasants(?) in 05 and the wealthy in 09 (who are currently emulating post-Industrial Western culture), plus the overriding themes of (Christian, but not Catholic, therefore possibly alt-universe Orthodox??) religion we see in 01 and 05 (and its borrowed apocalyptic imagery in 06), and partially 03...

I'd be tempted to say this game took place in a Telepath-universe version of Russia. That's probably my craziest theory to date. ><[/spoiler]


Veeery interesting. I think this image provides the best evidence that this is in the Telepath universe after all.

As for where I'm getting bone marrow, the creature's skin has the same spongy, porous texture. Perhaps more importantly, the pattern is irregular: something that is ubiquitous to organic tissue, but virtually nonexistent in standardized technology. The blades do look clearly mechanical, but I wouldn't be so quick to conclude that these creatures are 100% mechanical construct. Armor or exosuits seem more likely.


If if weren't for the smooth and metallic right shoulder, I'd be more likely to see it as potentially organic. That and the way the head under the skull looks rotationally symmetrical, as opposed to any organic heads I know of, which tend to be bilaterally symmetric when on the shoulders of a bilateral creature (e.g. anything humanoid).

However, I will note that the hand looks like it has some kind of webbing between its fingers, which looks more organic than the rest of the thing.

But nah, I haven't concluded anything. My running hypothesis is that it's not organic or even shadowganic (like the shadowlings), but I'm not convinced there's not someone in there. I will say that the armor or carapace or exosuit -- whatever it is -- looks incredibly sinister, and there's rarely room for moral absolutes in Telepath games, so that's my rationale for supposing it might easily be propaganda; propaganda is where anything can look evil in a world where evil is within everyone or no one.



Well, drat. Turns out the art pieces were by nature surreal, thus defying any kind of literal interpretation. Serves me right for making assumptions, I guess, but I knew the risks -- if you're going to speculate, you have to at least assume that all the data derives from the same canon, and try to fit it together as best you can, until some information arrives that dictates that you shouldn't.

That information has arrived. I hope you at least got a chuckle out of this.


Not to worry--I most assuredly did. :D