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  • Sympathy for the Doyen

    Those who have humoured me in the past may have gathered i have an intense distrust of the Doyen. The Trinity era 'secret boss' aliens sometimes referred to as 'Benefactors' in hushed tones.
    We can point to very little hard evidence of their activities with what little there is subject to extreme secrecy and routine cover-ups, often performed by the Psi-Orders. Among the few things we can attribute to them is their creation/supply/inception of the Prometheus Chambers and to a lesser degree the Biotech 'Templates' (Fauna, Flora, Bacterial, Plasmoid) that are used in all Trinity era biotech (probably borrowed from the Qin or another species, just as Chromatic tech was borrowed from humans).
    They appear most prominently in the Chromatic Invasion arc, but i'd argue that this appearance was atypical of their approach to humanity. None-the-less, this most unusual Doyen encounter is all we really got to characterize their entire species. Was this an acceptable first contact in terms of doing the mysterious Doyen justice? Is there, in fact, a much more sympathetic approach to our psychic, alien overlords?

    We know Taint is anathema to them, the Psi-Orders clearing out the earth's Taint was very likely an indirect Doyen action. The literature suggests that Taint is thought to more or less be a permanent problem going forward, but much is made of the Taint being cleared up faster than was expected/forecast. Beyond this, the Noetics TFR postulates that Taint has a constricting and self-propagating presence in the Sub-Quantum medium, making it safe to assume it's an even more frightening prospect to aliens (presumably) existing in an entirely psionic (read: sub-quantum) state.
    I imagine that a type of rapid-spreading, malignant force/energy corrupting the medium of my universe might be a decent handhold for some sympathetic xenology in the setting. A fellow poster made this suggestion during digressions concerning Babylon 5:

    Originally posted by Drazosh View Post
    A Kosh-like ambassador would probably do a lot for making the Doyen factions feel less monolithic.
    Now, Kosh and the Vorlons are probably a little too close for comfort - plus, they're getting dated by now (all due respect to JMS). But, it has left me wondering (for a while now) about a more sympathetic portrayal of the Doyen and the cosmic role of Taint in the greater sci-fi universe. How would it be done? Are the Doyen the only species who took notice, or just the first to arrive? What role do the Doyen play in this greater scale? Have they done this kind of thing before, or is this a first for them too? Is it even worth trying to figure out?
    Ideally, i'd have a solid idea of what the Doyen are before fitting a role about them, but because of the secrecy, we don't really know anything about them as a life-form. It's easier to ascribe motivations and goals to minerals, since at least minerals have form and substance.
    I repeat for clarity: The Doyen may have nothing to do with life or matter as we know it. Try sympathizing with that...
    The idea that the Doyen once had physical forms and ascended somehow was done by the Vorlons (iirc), and honestly feels like a cop out in 2015+. But this almost inevitably leads to a kind of sub-quantum 'umbra' however abstracted - something that has been hinted at in the teleportation flavor text.

    So, in lieu of getting out AE: Invasion and DR: Ascent into Light for page referenced quotes, i thought i'd throw it out for discussion if anyone is interested.
    -smile-
    Last edited by Nihilist; 09-07-2015, 03:33 AM. Reason: ing.. ING! not ion!

  • #2
    I've working my way through those modules and I've got this to say as someone who knew about the Doyen ahead of time from reading fan sites and such over the years. They are an intentional mystery, so ultimately I'd say their use should be up to the GM. Myself I firmly believe in a spectrum rather then simply binary descriptions. I admit when I read about how the Doyen looked I immediately thought about the Sparks from Transformers.

    Sympathy for me isn't hard and I think its something Trinity encourages, the narrative of the Trinity'verse has never changed but my perspective has over the years, back when I only had the quickstart booklet I could only imagine (I was also a teenager at the time) the hostile and alien menace of the Aberrants and the nobility of the Psions fighting against this Grand Menace!(tm)

    Naturally now I've matured considerably and enjoy the moral complexity of Aeon's story. You have people with powers and they all went different ways, the Doyen are reacting to those powers in as possibly as sane a fashion as they could conceive. One additional thing I would like to know is what is the effect of Taint's beyond biology? From what I've seen its only an issue to organics, what exactly does it DO to the information layer of the universe? My own guesswork has been that it "corrupts" it somehow causing information to bleed over between psion particles.

    Whatever the case one can see the Doyen's perspective, if the Aberrants had not fled to the stars the problem would have been contained to Earth but now the whole galaxy, possibly even the whole universe is at risk from the Strange Matter the Aberrants create (which is another idea I had for what Taint is).

    Doyen are not quick thinkers by nature so having them in a situation where they talk to people feels like a bad idea. Also it makes them very alien, these creatures who can't cope well with sudden changes to their environment, it would suggest a very different sort of evolutionary history.


    Man's unfailing capacity to believe what he prefers to be true rather than what the evidence shows to be likely and possible has always astounded me. We long for a caring Universe which will save us from our childish mistakes, and in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary we will pin all our hopes on the slimmest of doubts. God has not been proven not to exist, therefore he must exist. --Academician Prokhor Zakharov

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    • #3
      Using the Vorlon theme for the Doyen as a base line for this discussion; Kosh died and was replaced with Kosh. The Doyen are split as a race some seek to use Humanity against itself others sought out other Noetic using races to destroy the source of the disruption to the subquantum environment Humanity. The Doyen should be viewed in the current Aeonverse as both the Shadows and the Vorlon.

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      • #4
        Of course Kosh was not the same as Kosh and didn't necessarily have the same goals as Kosh for interacting with the younger races.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Galaxy Master Zhad View Post
          I've working my way through those modules and I've got this to say as someone who knew about the Doyen ahead of time from reading fan sites and such over the years. They are an intentional mystery, so ultimately I'd say their use should be up to the GM. Myself I firmly believe in a spectrum rather then simply binary descriptions. I admit when I read about how the Doyen looked I immediately thought about the Sparks from Transformers.

          Sympathy for me isn't hard and I think its something Trinity encourages, the narrative of the Trinity'verse has never changed but my perspective has over the years, back when I only had the quickstart booklet I could only imagine (I was also a teenager at the time) the hostile and alien menace of the Aberrants and the nobility of the Psions fighting against this Grand Menace!(tm)
          I agree, the Doyen, like Mercer's time-travelling - were never intended to be too deeply explored by the original creators. But therein lies the difficulty with sympathy - there has to be some level of understanding for sympathy to be valid. We all instinctively try to sympathize, but when faced with something as completely alien to us and our experience as the Doyen - it's much more likely we're falling prey to anthropic blinders by using instinct rather than logic to find common ground.
          -shrug-
          I very much sympathize with an evolving view of the game - been playing this universe for so long i've grown up with it to a degree.
          -smile-

          Naturally now I've matured considerably and enjoy the moral complexity of Aeon's story. You have people with powers and they all went different ways, the Doyen are reacting to those powers in as possibly as sane a fashion as they could conceive. One additional thing I would like to know is what is the effect of Taint's beyond biology? From what I've seen its only an issue to organics, what exactly does it DO to the information layer of the universe? My own guesswork has been that it "corrupts" it somehow causing information to bleed over between psion particles.
          Going from the Noetics fan-book, taint restricts the flow of the sub-quantum medium - potentially forming seperate sub-quantum universes/mediums/dimensions(?) cut off from the rest of the sub-quantum universe, or simply retarding natural communication between regions of psion particles and others - resulting in the breakdown of traditional physics or even more insidious domains, like the effects the medium is ascribed to have on living creatures. While poorly defined, the result is deeply inferred to be bad news for nature as we knew it. Who knows how the Doyen Perceive this (or anything for that matter), but if they are as comprised of sub-quantum as we might presume then it might be safe to say they are shitting themselves (or whatever the appropriate doyen vital-function may be).

          Whatever the case one can see the Doyen's perspective, if the Aberrants had not fled to the stars the problem would have been contained to Earth but now the whole galaxy, possibly even the whole universe is at risk from the Strange Matter the Aberrants create (which is another idea I had for what Taint is).

          Doyen are not quick thinkers by nature so having them in a situation where they talk to people feels like a bad idea. Also it makes them very alien, these creatures who can't cope well with sudden changes to their environment, it would suggest a very different sort of evolutionary history.
          I think i can 'infer' the doyen perspective at best - but you are right, the Ultimatuum and exiles is the point that it hit the fan for the 'benefactors'.
          Strange may only be the beginning of it, depending on whether you ascribe to super-symmetry or multi-verse theories; Aberrants may expand the standard model to near completion or into complete ruins decades before the discovery of the sub-quantum noetic sciences. The sub-quantum realm may have its own mysteries parralleled by modern tachyons, strange and dark matter.
          I seem to remember the slowness of action is canon Doyen information, although i can't think where right off the bat. So, perhaps you have a good point about difficulties in communicating with a species operating on a different experience of time. But, as to environment and evolutionary history? I think that's the root of the question, if we can address that - then the rest may fall into place, I had a discussion with Wolfgar that toyed with a purely noetic environment in the Trinity universe cosmology - but that's a lot of work just to 'get' a villains motivations.

          ...

          Originally posted by lncbill View Post
          Using the Vorlon theme for the Doyen as a base line for this discussion; Kosh died and was replaced with Kosh. The Doyen are split as a race some seek to use Humanity against itself others sought out other Noetic using races to destroy the source of the disruption to the subquantum environment Humanity. The Doyen should be viewed in the current Aeonverse as both the Shadows and the Vorlon.
          I prefer to expand that notion to a pure-quantum species, just as a thought experiment - because i can more easily wrap my head around Fermi's paradox that way. A total war between forces unable to seek diplomatic recourse - but are naturally inclined on a sub-atomic level toward opposite fundamental requirements. It was my space-opera chip, i never actually got to play it - but that's informed my view of it for years.
          Because the Dooyen were so hard to wrap my head around, they might have had to take a back seat after some token 'Kosh-like' introductions to a greater galactic community of elder forces. But, that doesn't prevent me from attempting some earnest sympathy - despite the physiological obstacles. Maybe it's closer to say the Doyen are the Shadows, and the yet-unknown quantum inversion just wants to bring the universe into an age of post-scientific wonders...
          -shrug-

          Thanks for the belated replies all, i had given up on this thread drawing any interest - and that hurt a little.
          -smile-

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          • #6
            Yeah it sucks when folks don't join in a discussion but as I have seen some fans of this game don't much care for or don't see any reason at all to discuss certain elements. It happens. At least you didn't get a backlash to this. So that's good.

            Lots of Doyen related information can be found in the Darkness Revealed Trilogy.


            Man's unfailing capacity to believe what he prefers to be true rather than what the evidence shows to be likely and possible has always astounded me. We long for a caring Universe which will save us from our childish mistakes, and in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary we will pin all our hopes on the slimmest of doubts. God has not been proven not to exist, therefore he must exist. --Academician Prokhor Zakharov

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            • #7
              Don't get me wrong, i've been stumped on these questions myself for a long time, any discussion could jar something loose or make a connection i didn't previously see. At least now i'll have a thread to link to when i inevitably get side-tracked on Doyen lore again...
              The Doyen are quite purposefully inscrutable, i myself was willing to accept this for years - but it's been a decade and a new edition has brought us all to these forums. Some re-evaluation of dramatic purpose couldn't go astray - are they meta-plot deus-ex-machina or potentially sympathetic allies against aberrants or maybe the coalition too after the furies are developed? What motivates them outside of taint and psi? Are they part of our physical universe/dimensions or do they actually retreat into something else in between manifestations? What were the factions described in the Darkness Revealed saga aiming to accomplish in the end? By what authority did they speak for their race?
              Does any of it even matter? I was toying with the idea of process 418 sealing them off from interacting with the universe anyway - leaving them as a mystery for the future to contend with.
              As you can see, i need little reason to publically question the Doyen.
              -smile-

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              • #8
                Process 418 can only propagate at the speed of light, I believe, please correct me if I am wrong. Even so it should spread out into nothingness beyond a few LY from Earth. Given that the Doyen only reacted to the Aberrants after the Exodus we know that they are a largely interstellar species. Furthermore they should work within the same noetic framework as psions so their awareness of the cosmos should be directly connected to stuff they observe/is noetically "interesting." See Stellar Frontiers for a better idea on what noetically interesting might imply. I would imagine their society something like the Ents from LOTR actually. There is a lot of overlap between the Doyen and the Ents actually, come to think of it.


                Man's unfailing capacity to believe what he prefers to be true rather than what the evidence shows to be likely and possible has always astounded me. We long for a caring Universe which will save us from our childish mistakes, and in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary we will pin all our hopes on the slimmest of doubts. God has not been proven not to exist, therefore he must exist. --Academician Prokhor Zakharov

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                • #9
                  Since part of this started with one of my off-hand comments, I'll have a go.

                  Truthfully, despite my distaste for any fictional species that seem to present a unified (or two) front, it's easy to have some sympathy for the Doyen. Fact is, they were most likely attacked, in their own homes (or psychological equivalent thereof), and harmed by something that might otherwise be assumed to be incapable of it. Think of how most humans respond to finding a wasp nest anywhere near their homes, then consider the fact that a significant number of the Doyen opted to find solutions that did NOT involve spraying us with poison and stomping us flat (although the Chromatics may have qualified as that). They're manipulative, certainly, but they're helping humanity deal with a threat we share with them, regardless of their intentions. Rather Vorlon, certainly, but it's a very natural response to fear from a thoughtful, if somewhat arrogant, species. In fact, it's likely a bit more kind than it could be.

                  Humanity will eventually need to stand a little taller on its own, though, particularly given the themes of adventure and evolution that power the Continuum. In the end, the Doyen will need to get out of the way, either at our side or otherwise. Personally, I'd be a lot more inclined to believe the former if they're presented in a less unidirectional way.
                  Last edited by Drazosh; 11-07-2015, 10:21 AM.

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                  • #10
                    The Doyen?
                    Don't like them... never did.
                    The bastards created the psi orders. Good for them I guess.
                    But they also enslaved the founder of the chibs in the process.

                    They could have come forward at any time, but chose not to.
                    Instead they set up humanity to fight unwittingly for them - because I doubt that the founders of the orders - were initially in on it.

                    Them being split about humanity made sense.
                    Some wanted to lash out and erase the perceived threat against their kind.

                    The way they were setup they appeared to embark on a great experiment that catched them by surprise.
                    I don't think that they had an overarching plan - beyond erasing Aberrants, Quantum and the Taint - in the works and I doubt that they would have shared their exalted place with upstarts.

                    My sympathy is also very limited with a faction that either wants to erase humans or considers enslaving them ok.
                    Because let's face it with their supposed powers it would have been easy to convince some humans to work with them together.

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                    • #11
                      Well . . . they didn't kill us in the wake of the Aberrant War . . . and they probably could have. Earth was in ruins - the OpNet was gone, major countries destroyed, shell-shocked survivors trying to rebuild . . . If the Doyen had simply lobbed a giant asteroid at us (a la the dinosaurs), they probably could've killed everything . . .well, except maybe the cockroaches

                      Heck, such a tactic probably would've worked against the nova colony at Eden. Even with nova abilities, a colony doesn't just spring into existence. Fields have to be planted, buildings raised, industry established . . . there's a lot to get done, before you even think of defenses. And while they're powerful, "asteroid blocking" isn't exactly a normal nova power . . .

                      One good smack with an asteroid, and the handful of remaining novas off-world instantly become an evolutionary dead end They could be hunted down, or simply left to die of old age.

                      Or the Doyen could've conquered Earth . . . but didn't do that, either. Instead, the Doyen turned up, and helped rebuild Earth. Heck, they went above and beyond the call of duty. They didn't have to share their biotech, or the secrets of the Prometheus effect - but they did.

                      Originally posted by Nihilist View Post
                      . . . We know Taint is anathema to them, the Psi-Orders clearing out the earth's Taint was very likely an indirect Doyen action. The literature suggests that Taint is thought to more or less be a permanent problem going forward, but much is made of the Taint being cleared up faster than was expected/forecast. Beyond this, the Noetics TFR postulates that Taint has a constricting and self-propagating presence in the Sub-Quantum medium, making it safe to assume it's an even more frightening prospect to aliens (presumably) existing in an entirely psionic (read: sub-quantum) state. . .
                      Its worth pointing out that "Taint" means very different things to a nova/aberrant and a noetic (whether psion or Doyen). From a noetic perspective, any use of nova abilities is a form of "Taint", because it disrupts the subquantum universe. Black tech, nova powers, the M-R node . . . none of these "should" exist (in the eyes of a Psi user), and only do because some "aberrant freak" has "twisted" the fabric of the universe into an "alien" format . . . and are thus "Tainted"

                      To a nova (or regular human, during the Aberrant-era), "Taint" only refers to involuntary expressions of nova abilities. Anima banners, involuntary mutations, odd side effects . . . those are manifestations of Taint. Regular nova abilities are perfectly natural, a sign of human evolution.

                      And to a mundane human, there's no practical difference between nova and psion powers. Quantum or Psi, biotech or black tech, nova or psion . . . they're all the same, to a baseline human. Neither are inherently harmful to them, and a latent can be triggered to either.

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                      • #12
                        I have only ever run the Doyen trilogy once in a Trinity game, rarely came up as an interesting story for my players. I always approached the Doyen as a cowardly diplomat with poison and gifts. They fear humanity as a whole, and after the Aberrant Taint issue is resolved I expect them to pull the psi-chambers and to chemically sterilize the entire human population (not spray them all, rather pull the Aberrant trick of putting the components in food and detergent and when the two mix they person slowly becomes sterile).
                        The Doyen find ending a life traumatic, but will kill a human that is threatening it without hesitation, at the same turn it will give lavish gifts to a human to endear them and gain their loyalty. Especially since they will most likely be the last (or second to last) generation of their species​.

                        Not cannon, but how I ran them, indifferent to human suffering (curious), but never cruel to the aliens, they approach humanity like mosquitos, they selected a less aggressive branch and modified them to out breed and to attack the other group of bugs. Once the "Maleria carriers" (Tainted) are dead, they will sterilize the modified group and make the universe a healthier place for their kind. Nothing personal, just managing the ecosystem for their advancement.

                        I found sympathy for them by viewing the Doyen diplomats as 19th century scientists in the middle of an African jungle trying to save their species from malaria, noble scientists, sacrificing much to make the "world" a better place. and since we could not keep our "illness" on earth, we have to be managed. When they are returned to their home world of aristocratic Britain, their modified specimen are observed with curiosity and condescension, but manners must be observed at all times.

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                        • #13
                          As an aside on the subject of the Doyen having material bodies or not, there's this file about the Psi Orders' Proxies having received "Doyen genetic material".

                          Yes, considerinf it's the Wikia i would suggest taking this affirmation/sentence with a grain - or whole spoonful - of salt, but could mean one can find actual citations in the books and so would suggest looking for it on them to any parts interested on the subject of Doyen (lack of) physiology or not.

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                          • #14
                            Excellent suggestions Gideon, the comparison to malaria carriers is a useful grab-bag of psychology to explore Doyen motives through. Your perception comes close to my traditional perspective - that while the Doyen might be justified and noble from their side of the issue, but from the human side they are a target for the Chromatic-dubbed black-war for survival. It may be a tragic case of the galaxy/local cluster/universe/timeline not being big enough for the two of us and one way or another, some old fashioned xenocide must ensue. It just seems a waste of one of the settings most curious mysteries to not have an element of Doyen 'abolitionists' or something present some seeds for hope in future relations between them - surely some of their promises are real and earnest - i know that isn't how things generally work between two powers in a similar balance, but one of the setting's keywords are "Hope". The Doyen and their chambers really reek of exploitation and control already - a sympathetic/relateable impending xenocide isn't really what i had in mind.
                            But, on a personal note - your 'intellectual, academic' vision is one i've more or less aped in my own limited uses of the species. Scientists untroubled by moral horizons and driven to act out of animal survival.

                            ...

                            Huh.
                            Well, genetic material certainly constrains the possibilities a bit - there is something physical to draw genes from - that would go a long way to making the Doyen more easy to grasp. But i might have assumed Doyen consisted largely of memetic materials. I do remember the Prometheus chamber messed with Psion genes - but i (perhaps erroneously) don't recall the genetic changes being tied back to Doyen physiology. I'll have to keep an eye out for that detail.

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                            • #15
                              Truth be told, this insertion of Doyen genetic material seems to be something specifically tied to the Proxies and the fact they possess capabilities beyond the pale of most, if not all, Psions.

                              And on the matter of genetics constraining possibilities and potential alieness - take for example the (loaded for a number of reasons) trivia that the average human being shares about 98-99% of the same genes with chimpanzees or about 50% of then with bananas. There's considerable room for deviation, variance and weirdness.
                              Last edited by Baaldam; 04-13-2016, 08:00 AM.

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