Author Topic: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?  (Read 16690 times)

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Offline Luis Dias

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Re: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?
Dune is about predicting the future and how the protagonist is able to not only see different "time landscapes" of possibilities, but to direct them towards some key unstable points... in order to blind his enemies and be able to get victory. You gotta read it.

 

Offline An4ximandros

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Re: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?
 I think Luis gave the best summary of the Dune franchise in his post.
--------

Shambhala could be a way to hide from the Shivan's multiversal simulations. The ability to be unseen by an omnicidal god that purges everything which defiles its law. A place where humans will live in harmony and brotherhood in happiness, safe from the harrowing truths of the eldritch nature of the cosmos.

This would tie into the Nagari Firewalls and the usage of the Federation's Nagari space we "see" on the Dreamscape. The Vasudan Imperium might even be turned into an example of what happens when you use Nagari carelessly, given their gate seems to symbolize a far larger imprint left on the network. And it could also be why the Vishnans are so interested in the Federation: they want to be free of the Shivans, to whom they can only pretend to be equal to.

Just my current thoughts.

 

Offline Luis Dias

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Re: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?
This is all interesting. Your idea of this slightly crazy variation where the Vishnans are still a young species trying to get by (at least comparing to the Shivans) could tie into the GTI's efforts in the great war of controlling the Shivans. The terrans were able to control partially the shivans due to the lack of a higher anima mind close by, but just like they were able to do so in this smaller scale, so would the Vishnans be able to partially control or manipulate the Shivans in a higher scale, perhaps even to the scale of a few anima. At least "regionally", although I'm very blind to what the size of this word "region" could entail.

This would give a nice reinterpretation of both "Universal Truths" in AoA and WiH, wherein the Vishnans are trying to hack into the regional Shivan's anima and manipulate them in order to let the 14th go back to their home dimension.

The reasons why the Vishnans did all what they did in AoA are still unclear. Thematically speaking, AoA was about a failed attempt by a Godlike species to bring an epiphany of peace and understanding to a warring species before they would commit a grave mistake. In WiH so far we are left with the impression that given such failure, the Vishnans called for a cull to the human species as a whole. This might mean that the Vishnans regarded humans as embedded with a big potential to do "something", but realizing they couldn't manipulate them they called the experiment a failure.

Meanwhile, the Elders and their Shamballa project was the very thing that made the Vishnans interested in the first place, or the means by which they were going to execute their unrevealed plans. The fact that the GTVA was only mildly traumatized by AoA's events and were mostly not manipulated means the experiment has gone haywired. Then they try to hack regional shivans to do the culling for them. This hacking process was identified and stopped by a Shivan process, which is also interested in these events. Enter Ken. Ken is bringing shivan's attention to this problem.

I identify here a possibility that Ken identified the potential in the project and recognizes the fundamental "unmanipulative" nature of human beings. Thus, far from this project being a benefit for Vishnans, who would have in humans a kind of vassal beings doing their bidding, we are in the verge of an uncontrolled "singularitarian" explosion in Sol. Basically, we are ants who have shown the ability to flee the vishnan laboratory. With the fire of Prometheus, no less.

There are higher concerns here of metaphysical natures. The Vishnans try to communicate a concern with things like "Harmony" and "Preservation". Gives me the idea of control freaks who are worried about these annoying smaller species who try to transcend their little niches of comfort. It's all about "knowing your place", holistic philosophies, maintaining the status quo. Shivans are an upper level of unintelligibility. They are more chaotic and random. Revolutions and destruction is part of this randomness.

Lastly, it is also clear that albeit the Shamballa project might be "for the good" against this Vishnan manipulation, we should also be aware of the Sanctuary being able to make it to this universe. This ship might well contain a Vishnan Trojan horse that has penetrated deep circles inside the Shambala project. This possibilty scares the hell out of the GTVA's higher ups and makes the Morpheus contingency so much more interesting in that regard.

Ken might think the exact same thing that Steele thinks about Shamballa and the Sanctuary, etc. However he may well be in possession of certain pieces of information or planning a certain kind of action that profits more from the finalization of the project, while Steele's idea might well just be about destroying the project altogether and finish off any further intrusions from Vishnan's manipulating attempts.

This means the focus of the narrative, the tension is about whether if the project is finalized or not, and while factions believe the war is about Earth (the Mcguffin), the real players know the factions are fighting for either the killing of the project or its conclusion.

 
Re: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?
This is all interesting. Your idea of this slightly crazy variation where the Vishnans are still a young species trying to get by (at least comparing to the Shivans) could tie into the GTI's efforts in the great war of controlling the Shivans. The terrans were able to control partially the shivans due to the lack of a higher anima mind close by, but just like they were able to do so in this smaller scale, so would the Vishnans be able to partially control or manipulate the Shivans in a higher scale, perhaps even to the scale of a few anima. At least "regionally", although I'm very blind to what the size of this word "region" could entail.

This would give a nice reinterpretation of both "Universal Truths" in AoA and WiH, wherein the Vishnans are trying to hack into the regional Shivan's anima and manipulate them in order to let the 14th go back to their home dimension.

The reasons why the Vishnans did all what they did in AoA are still unclear. Thematically speaking, AoA was about a failed attempt by a Godlike species to bring an epiphany of peace and understanding to a warring species before they would commit a grave mistake. In WiH so far we are left with the impression that given such failure, the Vishnans called for a cull to the human species as a whole. This might mean that the Vishnans regarded humans as embedded with a big potential to do "something", but realizing they couldn't manipulate them they called the experiment a failure.

Meanwhile, the Elders and their Shamballa project was the very thing that made the Vishnans interested in the first place, or the means by which they were going to execute their unrevealed plans. The fact that the GTVA was only mildly traumatized by AoA's events and were mostly not manipulated means the experiment has gone haywired. Then they try to hack regional shivans to do the culling for them. This hacking process was identified and stopped by a Shivan process, which is also interested in these events. Enter Ken. Ken is bringing shivan's attention to this problem.

I identify here a possibility that Ken identified the potential in the project and recognizes the fundamental "unmanipulative" nature of human beings. Thus, far from this project being a benefit for Vishnans, who would have in humans a kind of vassal beings doing their bidding, we are in the verge of an uncontrolled "singularitarian" explosion in Sol. Basically, we are ants who have shown the ability to flee the vishnan laboratory. With the fire of Prometheus, no less.

There are higher concerns here of metaphysical natures. The Vishnans try to communicate a concern with things like "Harmony" and "Preservation". Gives me the idea of control freaks who are worried about these annoying smaller species who try to transcend their little niches of comfort. It's all about "knowing your place", holistic philosophies, maintaining the status quo. Shivans are an upper level of unintelligibility. They are more chaotic and random. Revolutions and destruction is part of this randomness.

Lastly, it is also clear that albeit the Shamballa project might be "for the good" against this Vishnan manipulation, we should also be aware of the Sanctuary being able to make it to this universe. This ship might well contain a Vishnan Trojan horse that has penetrated deep circles inside the Shambala project. This possibilty scares the hell out of the GTVA's higher ups and makes the Morpheus contingency so much more interesting in that regard.

Ken might think the exact same thing that Steele thinks about Shamballa and the Sanctuary, etc. However he may well be in possession of certain pieces of information or planning a certain kind of action that profits more from the finalization of the project, while Steele's idea might well just be about destroying the project altogether and finish off any further intrusions from Vishnan's manipulating attempts.

This means the focus of the narrative, the tension is about whether if the project is finalized or not, and while factions believe the war is about Earth (the Mcguffin), the real players know the factions are fighting for either the killing of the project or its conclusion.

quoted for monkeytruth
The good Christian should beware of mathematicians, and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell.

 

Offline Luis Dias

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Re: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?
A minor addition to the points above. Ubuntu is an ideology that has pervaded throughout Sol, with its most strong infectious symptoms on Earth. Mars and Jupiter haven't yet fully commited to these politics. Consider this, a monolithic ideology focused on peace, understanding and harmony, clearly tinkered and manipulated by the Vishnans themselves.

Consider also the in-game clues we have of the somewhat (locally perceived) inefficiency that this ideology brings into what is actual infighting. Laporte starts having real psychological problems with killing other human beings. The reason she is so effective at it is due to Ken's influence. Then she is brought into the fold of Al-Dawa and the Fedayeen. Al Dawa is founded on a shivan corpse technology, and we know how utterly nihilistic and without moral compromises (as if without any conscience at all) this little group really is. This group stands aside from the larger federation's mottos and it's clear by now why. Feds are compromised morally by the Vishnans, while the Fedayeen are by the Shivans.

It wasn't only the GTVA beyond Delta Serpentis that was afraid of Ubuntu's influence (and whose dangers were more than upgraded when they learnt the Vishnan influence behind it), it was also the Vishnans who were afraid of the GTVA beyond the gate and the "flood" of so many non brainwashed terrans throughout the gate, polluting and utterly compromising their actions.

They needed a "zombified" peace loving brainwashed population for their ends. When they were unable to manipulate the whole of the 14th, they decided the war was over, GTVA would win given the psyche's differences between the two people. The Fedayeen, Laporte, Carter and some others might well disprove Vishnans' predictions with the help of Ken and the Shivans.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2013, 10:38:31 am by Luis Dias »

 

Offline crizza

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Re: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?
About the Sanctuary:
It could be also possible, that the Shivans let the Sanctuary survive to get some pretty crazed and non-brainwashed people into Shambhala, these people were frozen when Earth was about to be destroyed. Maybe the sleeper are the Trojan hose of the Shivans....
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Offline The E

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Re: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?
About the Sanctuary:
It could be also possible, that the Shivans let the Sanctuary survive to get some pretty crazed and non-brainwashed people into Shambhala, these people were frozen when Earth was about to be destroyed. Maybe the sleeper are the Trojan hose of the Shivans....

That would require an amount of planning that Shivans usually do not engage in (seriously, count the steps involved: 1. Let the Sanctuary survive, 2. Wait for someone from the Universe in which Shambhala is developed cross over, 3. Harass them, but do not destroy them until they've managed to get back, 4. Hope that some of the Sanctuary survivors will get near the Shambhala project). That's somewhat more byzantine than Shivan plans usually are.
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Offline Luis Dias

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Re: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?
I have some deep thoughts about the nature of "animas", how they come to be, how the Shivans build them and the kinds of uses they have for these.

And I started thinking on neat interactions between these anima and the great psyche of the Vishnans. From there it is somewhat straightforward to see what they were trying to accomplish in Sol and with Shambhala. Consciousness as a useful tool for the Shivans regarding regional strategic thinking.

Now to square these thoughts with the common problem of the Great Darkness is less easy. Shivans are consciousless species that apparently use other species' consciousness in jolts and in particular problems here and there, the Vishnans seem a lot more conscious, and the Great Darkness seems like the third big species, sitting in the opposite table to the Vishnans -> anti-consciousness. While the shivans are consciousless, the GD is actually anticonscious.


I have absolutely no idea what this monster is about. Does seem like the perfect lovecraftian terror, but I still can't quite grasp it. In order to suss the puzzle out of what Shambala is, we need to understand what the GD is.

(e: I use "deep" in the chess jargon, that is, within a variation following a very sharp line ahead)
« Last Edit: December 20, 2013, 11:34:39 am by Luis Dias »

 

Offline An4ximandros

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Re: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?
You know, that makes me think about the GD description in the tech room.

And gives me the following idea:

What if the "Brahmans" sought to trump their "realm" of the cosmos, and tired to bridge it towards others through what is referred to as the Nagari network?
They made a mistake, they though they had all the variables of existence... they didn't. And they could only see it once it was too late to stop a reaction from their "counterparts."

EDIT: We need more to give their own perspectives in this thread, dang it!

 
Re: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?
What if the "Brahmans" sought to trump their "realm" of the cosmos, and tired to bridge it towards others through what is referred to as the Nagari network?
They made a mistake, they though they had all the variables of existence... they didn't. And they could only see it once it was too late to stop a reaction from their "counterparts."

boring; and therefore, wrong
The good Christian should beware of mathematicians, and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell.

 

Offline Luis Dias

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Re: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?
There are some hints it might have some truth in it though. There was some reference to an ancient "holocaust" (apocalypse? I can't remember the actual word used) by the time of the Brahmans.


(But I couldn't agree more with the criteria you use! :D)

 
Re: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?
Well I specifically mean the part about them trying to 'bridge' to wherever. It's been done, and I'd prefer something more conceptually interesting than a banal landgrab.
The good Christian should beware of mathematicians, and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell.

 

Offline An4ximandros

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Re: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?
Think of the bridging in a more symbolic stance: Expanding their knowledge of existence.

Remember, an apocalypse (one has already occurred) is the uncovering/revelation of something.

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?
Lotta really good posts in this thread.

I seriously can't wrap my head around the plot twists, contingencies and the multiple vectors of each faction and sub-faction, all behaving with more knowledge than the player himself (that is us), and this tiny annoyance is repeated ad nauseam throughout BP ("You still don't know what is happening") which gives the series its own detective feel (each chapter giving one more piece of the puzzle for us to suss out), but at the same time continues the Freespace tradition of "**** you you're only a pilot you operate on a need-to-know-basis" shtick.

Which is fine, I don't mind it, with the proper caveat: that the underlying plot actually makes sense and is not filled with holes patched with ever increasing laborious and convoluted writing (creating ever more holes, etc.), only letting the reader / player notice this at the end when all the increasing complexities actually never successfully mesh together up to a concise intelligible narrative. IOW, a kind of a "LOST" problem.

I have high hopes this won't happen. My instincts warned me from LOST in the very first episode where I could smell the lack of any actual plot beneath all the (rather impressive) smoke and mirrors thrown at the audiences. The same instincts tell me that BP will deliver.

Having said all this, I am still shocked at the very high number of weaves and threads that this plot is multiplying at this point, with the many apparent contradictions still afoot and unexplained. If there is a damned criticism I can make against BP at this moment is that it communicates to the player (at least to chapter 3 of WiH) an unnerving feeling of unexplained urgency to do something you don't understand for reasons you weren't told, at the same time you are told to behave nihilistically and amorally because said objectives require such monstruosity of dedication and focus.

It's difficult to have it both ways like that. I can see a player trying to figure out what the hell is going on but maintaining his moral compass of a sort. I can see a player going full "beyond morals" nihilistic fashion "for the greater good", but that requires this "greater good" to be damned well explained and clear in the player's mind (a simple "I'm telling you you either do this or Earth gets it" doesn't cut it, you really have to understand the situation properly).

At the end of WiH chapter 3 I'm left with a lot of confusion in my brain. What the hell is going on? It's clear it's about humanity's own survival, but what the hell is the right course after all? Should we really defeat the GTVA? Sould we believe in Ken? Should we believe in the Elders instead? This confusion is not a bad thing at all, but I fear that the 4th chapter can start with the wrong impression that the only thing the player needs to do at this point is to follow orders by a badass faction.

Seriously guys, watch that thing. If chapter 4 starts like that, my reaction would be numbness. Why should I follow these orders if I don't even know if they amount to something directed to what's good or not? Should I just mindlessly kill anything on sight because I belong to a killing clan and not the other killing clan?

This is a really cogent and well-thought out post. As I'm sure everybody knows, we always planned to ship Act 3, 4 and 5 together. We've known what happens through the end of BP3 for a long time now, so I can assure you that it's not a Lost situation, and we're not trying to patch together an ending to a narrative Ponzi scheme that buys a sense of mystery and engagement by answering every question with two and a half questions.

But you're completely right that the ironically named 'Universal Truth' copped out on one thing - it's not explicitly clear what Laporte's mission is or why it's so urgent and vital. The narrative has told us that humanity's destruction is coming unless Ken's bargain is carried through, but we don't know why, when, or how, and in what way Laporte's actions might help avert it.

In retrospect, I wish we'd provided one more piece of information. The notion that Laporte is a deniable asset for the Shivans to use against the Vishnans is thrown out there, but we don't get her ultimate target. She's still a heads-down payload responding to guidance she doesn't understand.

We wanted to draw the narrative focus at the end of Act 3 back to the war, since Act 4 is very focused on the military situation rather than the metaphysics. But I can make two promises:

First, the story going forward is not going to be purely about vast incomprehensible ultraminds manipulating the player. Now that Laporte and her Fedayeen allies have hard information, they can start exerting agency in this game of civilizations. Of course the Vishnans and Shivans are enormously intelligent, and it'd be ridiculous to 'trick' them - but their own capabilities are constrained by each other, which leaves the little players some wiggle room. Blindsight this isn't.

Second, by the end of BP2, we'd like the motives and ultimate goals of each factions to boil down to a couple easily described sentences, and hopefully we can present those goals - no matter how cosmos-spanning - in an easily digested fashion. Obstructionism, portent, and allusion are powerful tools in constructing mood, but in the end we do want players to know pretty much what's going on in the broad scheme of things.

When I read some of the fantastic speculation here, especially the more metaphysical stuff, I actually worry about disappointing people when we provide answers that are merely political, merely comprehensible - 'Ah, I clearly see how this plan functions and what its intended goals are' as opposed to 'I tremble before the awesome scope of this universe-spanning design'. But unlike the writers of Lost, I don't think we feel that awe and grandeur can only be maintained by mystery.

 

Offline leoben

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Re: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?
I'm still not sold on the idea that AoA is a failed Vishnan experiment. What would the optimal outcome have been if the experiment had succeeded? The 14th turning against their GTVA masters? Joining up with the Buntus? Would that have stopped the war? Or only delay it? Wouldn't that still be 'failure' from a Shivan perspective?

The questions I'd like to get answered in the remaining acts are:

What is the nature of the relationship between the Vishnans and the Shivans?

I still think we don't have the full picture here, as much good guesswork I read in this thread and others so far. I'm sure most of you have done some reading on Hinduism, specifically the relationship between Brahma (supreme god of creation), Vishnu (god of maintenance of life) and Shiva (god of destruction and transformation). I have no idea how much the BP story is based on Hinduism - if it's only the names, or some of their attributes as deities. Ancient texts say that sometimes, Shiva comes forward as a god of not just destruction, but with the role of the other two as well (creator and maintainer as well). Some texts say something similar of Vishnu - namely it was responsible for the cycle of life and death of all living things.

Again - I have no idea how much of this is or will be reflected in the coming acts of BP. How were the Vishnans able to 'banish' the Shivans from a realm? Were they left 'in charge' after the Brahmans died? And now the Shivans think they 'went off the reservation'? Do the Shivans think that  what the Vishnans are doing to the humans, they're dangerously close to releasing GD? Is that what the Terminal Protocol is all about? Is that what happened during the First Apocalypse?

Going back to AoA for a second - do we really think the Vishnans were stupid and careless enough to rely on a few thousand humans and their ships (14th) to turn the whole process around of the humans attacking other humans and thereby sealing their own fate? By manipulating a few Nagari sensitives into doing their bidding? Now that's one hell of an assumption that is a showstopper for me. I don't buy that.

Or if it really is the case, then why would we say the experiment had failed? They got a lot of extra resources to beef up the Shambhala project no? Wasn't that the goal? In that regard, it was very successful. If their objective was something else, something that is on a larger scale by order of magnitudes, you would think that manipulating the 14th was not their only option to achieve whatever they're trying to do. I don't know.

I also want to know (as I'm sure everyone else here) what the deal is about that Bosch struck with the Shivans, what is that one thing that that anima wants to achieve using Noemi that the Shivans can't?

- Get rid of the GD once and for all?
- Get rid of the Vishnans once and for all?

What is it the Shivans want above everything else, but can never do?

A lot of raw thought here, some of it may be completely flawed. What are the questions you guys want answered the most in BP?
« Last Edit: December 26, 2013, 09:01:32 am by leoben »

 

Offline leoben

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Re: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?
Even more so - 'subversion of nooshpere under way'. By whom? GD? Humans?

And how is this an acataleptic event? What is termed 'acatalepsy' by the Shivans?

 
Re: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?
I also want to know (as I'm sure everyone else here) what the deal is about that Bosch struck with the Shivans, what is that one thing that that anima wants to achieve using Noemi that the Shivans can't?

Well one of the big things the Shivans can't do is think.
The good Christian should beware of mathematicians, and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell.

 

Offline leoben

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Re: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?
Can't they? And why would they need a human weapon to be able to think?

 
Re: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?
A lot of raw thought here, some of it may be completely flawed. What are the questions you guys want answered the most in BP?


What i want to know is how the Vasudans fit in this cosmic stage. We know that vasudan survivors from "Good Luck" are integrated to Fedayeen, Khonsu's playing a balancing act, and the HOL has aided Fedayeen and got purged for their troubles.

But in the larger scheme, how do they fit? How do the vishnans and shivans view them? There's this Jester Nabirasul guy, whose visions left him psychotic.
What's his story? All communications with the vishnans and shivans in both campaigns rarely mention the vasudans, and does not mention him at all.

What role will the vasudans play?

(also "nabi" and "rasul" are Arabic for "prophet" and "apostle", respectively. Coincidence? :p)
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Offline crizza

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Re: [Spoilers] What is Shambhala?
The VAsudans are preparing to fight the oncoming apocalypse, so I guess Shivans and Vishnans won't like that attitude.
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