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Let's talk about Ancients


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Before this thread begins I'd like to say that what you're about to read is not written from a condescending 'I am better at making lore and design decisions than Klei'-point of view but rather; writted by a fan who wants to see this game be the best that it can be. In this case - about the Ancient's lore and potential future.

Alright, let's begin

So, it's been confirmed that we're getting Shadow Rifts in the caves, an opposite of sorts to the Lunar Rifts. And given the ending of the Taking Root trailer, it's safe to assume that Charlie upgrading the Ancient Gateway will be responsible for those rifts. And what is the ancient gateway related to? That's right, the Ancients! Which means that there's a good chance that we might be getting some new ancient lore, items, mobs etc.

And thus I feel like now is a good time to talk about things that bother me in Ancient's lore and Ruins, which I believe Klei should address.

1. Ancients' apperance:

Metheus murals and murals found in the atrium make it pretty clear that Ancients begun to change their appearance due to nightmare fuel exposure. This makes sense as we already know that NF can corrupt creatures: Ancient Guardian and Splumonkeys. Here, I've made my own interpretation of the ancients' design shown in the murals. Yes, I gave myself some artistic freedom. Excuse me, if the quality is not too great:

Spoiler

ancients_forum.thumb.jpg.f0068a1c94df48be31dccb8f7d6405b7.jpg

Now, as you see I've attached murals but also the atrium statue. The reason why I didn't attach the ruins statue is because I believe that it is simply outdated. 

Why am I talking about this? Well, over a year ago we got the Forgotten Knowledge update, which added Ancient Archives and in that place we can find the lunarune statue, which...

image.thumb.png.2a8e5473ea5d4ffa6f2efc3308096827.png

...looks like the corrupt ancients' design. This... basically breaks the established lore. Murals show Ancients changing once there was too much fuel, in-game murals talk about them shedding their skins and looking different- this doesn't refer to the Ancients becoming Terrorbeaks as the next murals talks about the Ruins in their prime. And I doubt that Terrorbeaks would build the ruins. And this statue, depicting corrupted ancients, is found in the Archives - the only remaining area of the ancient-er ruins build before the civilization discovered NF.

Since Klei has yet to present us with an explanation, I'm choosing to view this as a mistake, as an artist using the atrium statue as a reference for Ancients' apperance while making the lunarune statue. And I see no reason why Klei would choose to retcon one of the more structurally-sound pieces of the ds/t lore, just so that they don't have to redesign this one statue.

2. Why leave the Lunar Ruins?:

Ever since the Forgotten Knowledge update I've been wondering 'Why would the ancients leave their already-build underground base, just to end up "hungry and scared", as the murals describe them?'. This feels like a real plot hole, an unexplained one at that. But I think that there's a neat, simple way to patch it up. Ahem, ahem:

The iridescent gem was Ancients' only way of brining lunar magic to the caves, since Alter cannot affect the underground. The gem basically acts as a magical battery, storing the magic/power of eldritch beings. Created when a regular gem is exposed to large amounts of said energy. But it also has its capacity and will be drained, with time. And so, as years passed and the lunar ruins were thriving the first out of many iridescent gems broke; shattered as the last of Alter's energy left it. While the gems were strong and working, lunar magic filled the ruins, basically creating an ambient shield, which prevented shadow magic from influencing that area. But as more and more gems broke, that ambient magic begun to fade and shadows begun to invade. Not in an intrusive shadow creatures, nightmare ramparts-way but simply by influencing the mind: whispering to the ancients, telling them that their homes are crumbling, that they need to leave. Soon enough the civilization left and the lunar ruins were left to crumble through the eons... except the archives where dust moths took care of things. Then it was smooth sailing for the shadow forces: wait for the ancients to discover NF, make them forget about the 'moon' and lunar ruins (which would explain their absence in the murals) and the rest we know.

3. What drove them underground:

This isn't necessary a big issue for me or in general but I'd be nice if Klei made it so that Gnaw was responsible for Ancients leaving the surface. It'd block them from Alter and start turning them into merms. Imo a great explanation and also some cohesive world building.

4. The future:

Form the get go I'll say that, personally, I'd like Klei to never show us a live Ancient. I don't know what future updates will bring, so this might not even be a justified concern. Still, I think that any apperances of the ancients/ruins in their prime, etc should be shown to us through murals, statues, etc. If we were to interact/talk with a member of the civilization, they should be a shadow being that looks nothing like the ancients, or a possesed object, same as Fuelweaver does it.

I strognly believe that the ruins and ancients should be something that is in the past and that we only see their remnants and are left to connect the dots ourselves.

Another thing is: if ruins/their lore are to be given a bit of the spotlight, it'd be cool if Klei were to redesign the mage and head statues. Let's be honest, they are a bit outdated, having been designed in, like, 2013. Imo the mage statue could be simply changed to look like the corrupted ancient (that is: get rid of the head and give its back the terror beak spines) and the head statue could be turned into the mask of the ancient king.

Well, that's it from me. Like I said, the next update will most likely be related to the Ancient Gateway and the cloak shown in the spoiler suggests that we might be able to craft items that might've been used by the civilization... but are more powerful than the pseudo science station ones. And so now was a good time to get these things off of my chest

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33 minutes ago, Dextops said:

the dst lore would be so much less confusing if wortox told us what he knew.

Wortox lore quotes are basicly Klei writer if they could be a playable character.

I swear to Lord, Wortox teases us so much in his quotes, knowing whats going on but never telling what. Even that girl from my high school years wasnt such a tease 

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The DST lore would be so much less confusing if... there was an animated series that lays out the whole story for anyone and everyone to enjoy.

Love seeing the enthusiasm for the lore @Szczuku I was literally just drafting a post about this topic and will be dropping it soon... because I think a LOT of people would enjoy getting to know the full story behind the mythos of DS/T... it's way more interesting than what the Mario Brothers are doing in their latest movie.

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6 hours ago, MrMNWorm said:

The DST lore would be so much less confusing if... there was an animated series that lays out the whole story for anyone and everyone to enjoy.

Love seeing the enthusiasm for the lore @Szczuku I was literally just drafting a post about this topic and will be dropping it soon... because I think a LOT of people would enjoy getting to know the full story behind the mythos of DS/T... it's way more interesting than what the Mario Brothers are doing in their latest movie.

There used to be games where the entire plot was in the instruction manual, here you might find a tiny scrap on a distant isolated clickable, if the character you've chosen is interested in it. By the way let's build a skeleton, jump down tentacles, then rebuild it. It will help us ... make 1 hat ...

 

Although with bones and a heart, I'm beginning to think fuelwear is less related to the ancients than I assumed

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Don't expect much, OP - DS/T's "lore" was an after-thought.

You had the initial concept/idea of "managing a pig village" (mobile game version). Then the Survival component was added and focused. Followed by "what if difficulty increased more and more, episodically, at player's choice to initiate it" Adventure Mode. And the single player's bleak conclusion: they (the characters) were all pieces on a proverbial chess board, at the mercy of "occulta daemonia" entities. Or perhaps Eldritch God-like cosmic monstrosities (Alter and its Shadow/Pure Horror counterpart) - as later additions (DST's murals puzzle) hint at. Rest of - or current - DST lore has a hefty retcon dose. And probably (judging from all the conceptual art, often almost-finished one, that got cut out of final product seemingly "on a whim" - quite the number of elements from Lunar Grotto Biome for example - or direction that abruptly changed - Body-Horror Hounds & Pengs, Ocean and Lunar Arc) this "after thought" lore is subject to sudden/abrupt change too, likewise apparently "on a whim". When you do things on-the-go there's a high chance mistakes, plot holes and the like happen. Would be nice if somewhere in future KLei "tweaks" it all to form a coherent story. Else.. just enjoy the mad ride, you'll be entertained in-game anyway I reckon.

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I don't think the Archive Statue's are necessarily an error.

The Atrium Statues are pretty much just moss(?)-ridden. Which makes it a bit goopy. The main take-away is the lack of face (and arms in the mural)—don't forget that's exactly what the Woven Shadows are (hands and faces).

The Archive ones do seem to lack faces (we only get what looks like a mouth), but I think that's more of an artistic choice than anything else. If we're talking the bulky face from the classic ancient statues, I've always interpreted that like/as the mask the Staff Wielder wears. I take the usual ancients faces to be much smaller (like prawns), and more than capable of curling up under the chitin of their back.

Though that's just my take.

===============================================================

In regards to the Ancient Murals, they seem to be fairly 1 to 1 in relation to the Metheus ones. There's five murals (one being unreadable), and four visible murals so that always seemed like the logical conclusion. However, I think this is wrong. Technically there are five pictures if we include the wide full-wall one.

This is actually what I think the fifth one is: the past.

They're not fully integrated into the caves, and yet they still have a shining city. It makes a lot of sense if the fifth is actually separate from the others altogether. Once the shadow looms over and they start molting, everything falls apart. There's not really a time window that makes sense for the fifth to proceed chronologically.

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Maybe I'm missing the part where they inhabited the Archives first, but it could have been a post-Nightmare Fuel base for surviving moon-worshippers, seeing as they have made it well-lit and the Sentrypedes can hit shadow creatures.

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1 hour ago, Popian said:

Maybe I'm missing the part where they inhabited the Archives first, but it could have been a post-Nightmare Fuel base for surviving moon-worshippers, seeing as they have made it well-lit and the Sentrypedes can hit shadow creatures.

The only comment supporting this is from Wickerbottom who can only guess, examining an item in the ancient archives.
 

It should be noted that this area is suspiciously advanced compared to what the ancient murals might have indicated.

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5 hours ago, Zeklo said:

The Archive ones do seem to lack faces (we only get what looks like a mouth), but I think that's more of an artistic choice than anything else. If we're talking the bulky face from the classic ancient statues, I've always interpreted that like/as the mask the Staff Wielder wears. I take the usual ancients faces to be much smaller (like prawns), and more than capable of curling up under the chitin of their back.

Though that's just my take.

I once had a silly little theory that these masks were actually the Ancient's interpretations of Maxwell. The old boy seems more than familiar with their history, after all, so it wouldn't be much of a stretch to suggest he'd witnessed at least some of their downfall for himself.

The Ancient Fuelweaver popping up in Maxwell's short kind of muddles the whole thing up, but in fairness to myself, I was never quite sure if they were actually supposed to be one of the ancients themselves. Seems a bit weird for a bug person to have a cow skull if you ask me. Or a skeleton at all, really.

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6 minutes ago, YouKnowWho said:

Seems a bit weird for a bug person to have a cow skull if you ask me.. Or a skeleton at all, really.

I don't think the original owner of this skeleton was ever a member of an ancient civilization. It simply provided a physical body that allow the Ancient King who became shadow creatures could possession and control it easily.

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40 minutes ago, YouKnowWho said:

I once had a silly little theory that these masks were actually the Ancient's interpretations of Maxwell

Doesn't Maxwell have an examination quote that goes 'They were all dead once I got here'?

Edit: Just checked his quotes, apparently he doesn't. I suppose I must've imagined it

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So from my intepretation of the ancients regarding their design is that you got it backwards regarding their appearance.
Let's start with them before the fuel. That was their appearance before they were met into the hands of the fuel, when they were praising Alter. And we have not much reason to believe otherwise, they were more primitive and had only just discovered their language and their potential in Them. as Wickerbottom describes it is their established area before the fuel.


Now, the atrium is still following along the same lines of their established lore. How? Well, the atrium is a place where they praised the fuel. 
The statues in question is commonly believed to be them changing into shadow creatures which is not the case, it is a reference to when they were having their first transformation that turned them into what they look like in the metheus murals. Which is why they look like they're praising the fuel, they're telling their story of how the fuel changed them for the better (this obviously doesn't follow their downfall yet which is where metheus murals come into place)  image.png.b5762746fbf2367be6b58a5193f6c71f.png       image.png.9804e10cd1decf78d03b5d04022deaee.png 
Notice how sad they look when there is no fuel                                                                      Notice how they're praising the fuel. Helding it high 
the murals in the atrium tell the same story. They wouldn't be praising the fuel if it were hurting them at this moment, no they're happy. And that's what the atrium is telling us. they were happy when they found the fuel, and its powers they could use after being down in the gutter before with their dying civillization. And it changed them for the better physically and literally.

Basically, there is no corrupt ancient appearance, their corrupt appearance is their shadow forms. But the version we see in the archive, and the atrium is their original old forms, before the fuel. In every version we see them having heads, using staffs and other things alike, there is always usage of the fuel and the cane one of the ancients used. 

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2 hours ago, PunkShark said:

Basically, there is no corrupt ancient appearance, their corrupt appearance is their shadow forms. But the version we see in the archive, and the atrium is their original old forms, before the fuel.

Then how come head-having, red ancients are all we see in the murals when shown Ancients living on the surface, moving to the caves?

Spoiler

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Not to mention that the corruption idea fits in nicely with the common belief that during their downfall, the Ancients became Terrorbeaks. First fuel changed their physical apperance and then their new forms "transcended" into existance of pure fuel, still retaining somewhat of their original (corrupted) apperance. Otherwise it is a really strange coincidence that the atrium statue has almost the same back spikes as Terrobeaks do.

When it comes to the 'praise the fuel' pose- I kind of always regarded it as some sort of religious 'pain will set us free' symbolism for the Ancients. Kind of how some catholic images depict people/holy figures in pain, dying etc but that's the point, that's supposed to show us sacrifice and the reward it will bring... or something like that, I'm not really an expert on religious symbolism in art. Sorry if I got off track.

Point is:

I think that the atrium statue is this symbolism. Praising the fuel causes them physical pain, their mouths stretch in a silent scream, fuel bursting from their insides. As Wendy states 'A tortured soul'. The message? 'This is the price we pay for this technology, for our lives in comfort and safety. We will endure this pain, to carry on'. This would mean that the corrupted apperance is part of this 'price'.

That's how I've always interpreted this statue.

And I choose to believe that I'm correct (duh, obviously...), as the archives' statues (despite their, imo, incorrect ancients' design) depict Ancients praising the 'moon'. How? By lifting it up high, to the point that their back are bending and their faces take on a strained look of gritted teeth. Once again: 'We put ourselves down, we are below you, we will pay any price for your magic'-type symbolism

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3 hours ago, PunkShark said:

the murals in the atrium tell the same story. They wouldn't be praising the fuel if it were hurting them at this moment, no they're happy. And that's what the atrium is telling us. they were happy when they found the fuel, and its powers they could use after being down in the gutter before with their dying civillization. And it changed them for the better physically and literally.

If Ancient Mural is recorded in chronological order, the ancients became shadow creatures first and then had shiny cities. So I think there is another explanation: the transformation into a shadow creature is seen as sublimation rather than injury, like the "mechanized transformation" often seen in science fiction and games. Flesh is weak, but by becoming an supernatural magical beings they gain immortality.

Some of the more morally ambiguous characters, such as Maxwell and WX, accept that transforming into a shadow creature is a sublimation.

 

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On 5/22/2023 at 2:00 PM, Szczuku said:

-snip- 

EDIT: rewritten to make it sound less factual.

The metheus murals doesn't follow the same murals we hear the survivors talking about in the atrium ones. in my eyes they're a continuation of the murals which makes it more fitting in a chronological order. 

They're living in conditions under the influence of Alter - afterwards for unknown reasons they're living in terrible conditions - something that happens is scrawned out, lost to time - they get overflowed by nightmarefuel and change their physical appearance - they built a massive technological city - somehow combined both powers to take control over the gateway with both the energy from lunar and the fuel from the gateway to harness its powers to create mass amount of technology, food, gems and whatnot else they used - which evidently caused their downfall by overusing the fuel at the end. as a quick summary of course. 


The mural depictions we have seen in metheus is after they have found the fuel. We can see in this picture that the gateway is in the middle with the staff-bearers staff next to it, indicating this is in the middle of their fuel usage. Their city expanded both on the surface and in the caves. With very little moon related activities or depictions there isn't much to go by that this is before the usage of their fuel. as all of the metheus murals are fuel related (who metheus is shadow related as well) i really don't think it can be considered anything but that. Maybe one day we'll get more knowledge of their moon phase.
image.thumb.png.6c254918dd8058c315d951c04c3365ce.png
 

My take is that the ancients were not changed into corrupted versions of themselves at first. They were changed to be more humanoid and wise, like an evolution, not a de-evolution. which is how they became such a proud race with a dazzling city 
The fuel isn't all bad once you start off with it. it happened to maxwell and he became an entirely different person. Same thing happened to the ancients. 

On 5/22/2023 at 2:30 PM, Cassielu said:

If Ancient Mural is recorded in chronological order, the ancients became shadow creatures first and then had shiny cities.

It is a common theory that the atrium murals depict the ancients turning into shadow creatures, and most of the time used Wolfgang's quote to confirm that is the case. But in my eyes it doesn't make sense of what the other survivors say compared to Wolfgang. Wolfgang is not a very smart man so he takes things at a very basic, face value of what he sees happening. What he sees in his eyes is that the ancients are bursting monsters out of themselves. 
image.png.6cc0cdce33f6d1d4437a67f23f1eb7b1.png
But the other survivors have the better idea of what is happening;

Spoiler

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So my take is this: They're changing their skin. Like an insect shedding its skin, or better said; like a prawn molting their shell. Although taken to an extreme level of course. Which explains their more.. humanoid appearance in the later murals visually.
a physical reaction when the fuel overflowed their city. Not only did this change them physically, but mentally as well. and thus is the reason why the last mural ends with a big, technological city is because of their discovery of the fuel and the physical reaction they had from it. Which would explain why there are 2 versions of their appearance. Their shadowy fate would only happen much later which is where metheus murals ensues where they overused the fuel and caused their own demise. 
 

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Noticing a couple posts stating things as pure fact, and just wanna state a usually unsaid rule of theorizing:
Always use words like "I think", "the way I interpret", "my take", etc.

There are very very few things that we know for 100% concrete fact, and framing them as such is misleading as well as tends to dissuade conversation, since you'd basically be saying "you're wrong". Which is very rarely the case with theorizing, because we simply don't know that. If we had a correct answer, we wouldn't be here!

Just something to keep in mind, so the discussion remains fun and productive.

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On 5/21/2023 at 5:29 PM, MostMerryTomcat said:

Don't expect much, OP - DS/T's "lore" was an after-thought.

You had the initial concept/idea of "managing a pig village" (mobile game version). Then the Survival component was added and focused. Followed by "what if difficulty increased more and more, episodically, at player's choice to initiate it" Adventure Mode. And the single player's bleak conclusion: they (the characters) were all pieces on a proverbial chess board, at the mercy of "occulta daemonia" entities. Or perhaps Eldritch God-like cosmic monstrosities (Alter and its Shadow/Pure Horror counterpart) - as later additions (DST's murals puzzle) hint at. Rest of - or current - DST lore has a hefty retcon dose. And probably (judging from all the conceptual art, often almost-finished one, that got cut out of final product seemingly "on a whim" - quite the number of elements from Lunar Grotto Biome for example - or direction that abruptly changed - Body-Horror Hounds & Pengs, Ocean and Lunar Arc) this "after thought" lore is subject to sudden/abrupt change too, likewise apparently "on a whim". When you do things on-the-go there's a high chance mistakes, plot holes and the like happen. Would be nice if somewhere in future KLei "tweaks" it all to form a coherent story. Else.. just enjoy the mad ride, you'll be entertained in-game anyway I reckon.

You do realize that a lot of games have the gameplay developed first before the story? And with good reason? Not to say DST doesn't have plot holes, but the nature of game development is one of flexibility. This just comes off a little belittling towards the writers, who I think have woven a very compelling story.

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Are we sure the ancient civilization lived underground? I believe Maxwell said something along the lines of the ruins were all that was there before he came along, so maybe he layered the caves on top of it to seal it up with thulecite, then layered the surface on top of that for extra protection.

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I will leave here my recent theory of  evolution of the "ancients"

sketch-1681804566991.png.18ba1acbe243541ff75a652072c80e79.png

On 5/21/2023 at 3:23 PM, Szczuku said:

This isn't necessary a big issue for me or in general but I'd be nice if Klei made it so that Gnaw was responsible for Ancients leaving the surface. It'd block them from Alter and start turning them into merms. Imo a great explanation and also some cohesive world building.

If they did, Wurt's quotes about the lost greatness of her race would "sparkle with different colors" (as they say in our homeland.) (this means that her quotes would have a deeper meaning).

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