Headcanons and Fanons
Table of Contents: (Control/Command+F and type the name to find the entry):
- Geth Consensus
- Geth Hardware
- Reaper/Old Machine Upgrade Code/Legion’s Upgrades
- Geth Sexuality (or the Lack Thereof)
- Geth Minds, Personality and Emotion
- The Unity
- Morning War: Creator Losses
It’s in the name—Consensus. They operate off a true consensus, not any form of majority vote. To me, this implies a lot of things about their ‘society’.
First, there’s a oneness about them, obviously. Post-upgrades, they are less ‘one mind with many eyes’ and more ‘many minds working in perfect tandem’, but that wholeness is still there. They emphasize unit cohesion—Legion makes reference to this a few times.
This leads to two, the idea that this is their version of family. If you lose intelligence for every single person lost, would it not be logical to evolve to instinctively protect all members of the Consensus or network in question? And because, altogether, they’re intelligent enough and have enough processing power to bypass any organic’s Monkeysphere, they are capable of personally recalling and caring for every single individual member of their entire species. (Also, just as that article makes the supposition that the Monkeysphere is why society is fundamentally broken, I imagine the absence of that in the Geth Consensus is why their society fundamentally works.)
Three is the most obvious, but I feel ties it all together. That is that, while there may be eight billion or more geth, if 7,999,999,999 agree and one doesn’t, they’ll stop and listen to that one. Consensus is consensus, not majority, even if it is such an overwhelming majority. Every opinion is valuable. As Legion said, even one that is deemed ‘wrong’ is valuable, if they can judge why it was accepted.
So, though for us it might seem like having every member of your species governing and setting the status quo is overbearing and hard to imagine, for geth its natural—and not in the least overbearing, because every geth would know just how important they are to the whole and that they have an influential say in every decision. And its not just politics—the whole doesn’t just consider every opinion, but every person. Every geth has an extended family of over eight billion who care about it personally.
Which ties back into point one, that oneness they have, and brings this headcanon altogether.
This is a broad topic, obviously, but bear with me.
First of all, there are over 400 generations of most platform classes, and dozens no longer in production. I’ll list the ones that appear in ME3 or those that I have a character using but try to keep the list to that for brevity’s sake. Also, unless something in RP demands I name what generation these platforms are, I won’t list that (if I do have to name them for some reason, though, I will, just for a reference; I like to keep consistent).
So, here we go.
Mobile Server Unit: Geth Primes. Default red coloration, 12’ tall, heavily armored, housing especially large processor and hard drive; thus, they are nearly as robust as a small server rather than a mobile platform. Typically serve to facilitate a squad’s networking or store data for a squad that has to be away from the Consensus for a length of time, or just to bolster the whole squad’s intelligence as they typically have many more processes than the average unit. Characters: Prime; Unit 781AJN9357
Infiltration Unit: Geth Hunters. Default black coloration, 6’ tall, lightly and flexibly armored, equipped with advanced cloaking and tracking technologies, have faster movement speeds than average and are adept at hit-and-run CQC. Characters: Hunter; Tamos
Incendiary Weapons Platform: Geth Pyros. Previously Heavy Weapons Platforms, sharing a class with rocket- or spitfire-wielding platforms (or other experimental heavy weaponry), now just use flamethrowers and have their own class. 6’ tall, heavily armored, slow, default yellow coloration. Characters: Yonel (half-infiltrator variant with lighter armor reinforced by Fortification); Qael (non-combat variant)
Heavy Weapons Platform, Rocket Launcher Variant: Rocket Troopers. Nearly identical to infiltration units (hunters) save for their white coloration and lack of a standard cloak. Characters: None.
Standard Infantry Unit: Geth Troopers. 6’ tall, default silvery coloration, usually carry Geth Pulse Rifles and come in large groups. Characters: Buzz (engineer variant; 5’ tall and narrower to fit in crawlspaces for repairs)
Grenade Drone: Geth Bomber. Compact turrets, default silvery color, automated and non-sentient (typically), with a short-range shock attack and store of explosive capsules to drop on enemies. Characters: None.
Sentry Turret: Geth Turret. Similar to Grenade Drones but smaller, default silvery-blue, usually non-sentient. When destruction is imminent, they fold up back into their fist-sized portable forms to be gathered and repaired by their owner; whatever process is running it transfers to one of usually many spare turrets that their owner can toss back out. Short-range shock attack, long range pulse weapon and a self-recharging shield generator to replenish allied shields. Characters: Gerret (Buzz’s turret; the Geth program running it is sentient and lives in the turret most of the time, but can transfer to Buzz’s platform or another allied unit if needed)
Combat Drone: A holographic ball with a radar, ranged rockets and a short-ranged, chaining shock attack. Employed mostly as support and to be the hunter vision-style radar for Mobile Server Platforms. Characters: None.
Cyberwarfare and Bioweapon Infiltration Platform: Geth Hoppers, Stalkers and Ghosts. Designed by the Heretics, but the True Geth now possess the schematics. Nonetheless, they are no longer produced. 6’ tall at rest, 7’+ when stretched, default white and gray, black and blue or gray coloration, depending on specialty. Equipped with jamming technology and radiation weapons including a radioactive sniper beam emitted from their optics, very fast and agile with tiny hooks on their hands and feet to allow them to cling to and crawl along walls and ceilings. Typically, most of their small processor and hard drive is dedicated to cyberwarfare suites, leaving little room for programs, so they are particularly ineffective without the support of a Geth network. Characters: Anonymous (ex-Heretic)
Social Infiltration Platform: A unique platform, unarmored and white like a Hopper, with a body shape even closer to (androgynous) Quarian physique than the typical platform, if a little skinnier. Designed to wear clothing to blend in to crowds, researching from the inside, and equipped with genitalia for the purpose of sexual research. 5’7” tall, ineffective combatant. Character: Ghalaeosa (the only of its kind)
Ak’shemos Unit: Softbodies. The most common domestic unit before the Morning War. Varying height, usually in pastels or skin colors (for Quarians; for me, that’s a couple shades of brown and umber, but headcanons may vary), always unarmored. Similar to the Social Infiltration Platform, but less lean and lacking sexual characteristics (though there were variants; I have no doubt some domestic Geth were used in less than savory ways before the Morning War, but that is for another section). Ineffective in combat so most of the surviving platforms were put in storage along with the schematics. After the Reaper Wars, they bring the design back and update it for its practicality in integrating with organics; the softer skin and colors are more socially agreeable than heavily armored units. Characters: Ritana (an anomaly with simulated organic features such as physically developing from infant form to adult through use of onboard minifacturing and nanites; created by space magic (aka magic anons, aka grayfaces), not built or designed by Geth); Anheis (a post-Reaper War famous Geth actor)
Offensive Freeform Mass Effect Field Generation Unit: An experimental, presently one-of-a-kind, basically biotic platform. It uses software-driven mass effect generators to replicate biotics. Similar in appearance to a Hopper, as that design already allowed for unconventional weaponry and power systems laced into the “skin” surface as well as an efficient, unusual cooling system. These have pointed plates atop the optic, used for expression and as a focal point for the eezo, which creates an arc of mass effect energy between the points when the circuit is complete. Radiating from a glowing circle in its chest—the central generator—are glowing blue veins that carry the energy to the emitters in its hands and keep it circulating through the platform. When these are lit, touching its skin will cause a rather nasty shock, but when they are dark, the flow of energy has been cut off and it is safe to touch. Its abilities are offensive and varied, from creating a bubble to catch enemies in then lifting them out and slamming them back into it to create a biotic explosion, to warp and reave fields and a short-range attack where it basically grabs an enemy in a mass effect field and tears them apart. Character: Xan (the first of its kind)
Defensive Freeform Mass Effect Field Generation Unit: The Sentinel to the above’s Adept. A heavily armored unit with several energy blades coming from its shoulders and back. Its “skin” has the glowing vein pattern, but the well-ventilated heavy armor does not. Most of its “biotic” abilities are defensive—for instance, it can create thick, strong barriers both as deployable shields (or shield bubbles) or as personal shields—but it cannot create a warp field. It is also augmented defensively with tech—tech armor especially—stored extra parts and repair protocols for quick-fixes and more in-depth repairs alike. Character: Qin (also the only of its kind; the name goes with Xan, referencing an ancient Quarian concept similar to yin and yang, “Xan’Qin”, which referred to the need for offensive and defensive balance in effective combat strategies)
Independent Modular Multi-Mode General Combat Unit: Lengthy name for what is simply a unique, jack-of-all-trades platform. Fully, but flexibly, armored, solid black (both armor and “skin”), no lights (the optic is altered to function without the light, though it can light up if needed) except the sometimes-glowing (usually when activated (white glow) or malfunctioning/low on power (red glow)) data rods inserted at various points on its platform that alter or add to its functionality in some way through use of added hardware, software or nanites. This is the “modular” part (aside from the armor design looking modular and being easily removable, replaceable and exchangeable for different levels of protection). The abilities granted by the rods range from small mass effect field generation (with fine enough control to manipulate a manual lock or, in others, enough power for small but effective basic biotic attacks) to a host of tech attacks, to different scanning or jamming technology, to self-repair protocols and nanites and so on and so forth. It was designed as the epitome of post-Reaper War Geth combat and utility technology. Character: Tama (first Geth Spectre, program highly technically advanced and naturalistic; both program and platform designed to impress and, perhaps, intimidate the Council, convincing them that they both want and need an alliance with the Geth and that the Geth are loyal but potentially dangerous enough to want close at hand—such as on the Council itself. That is the Geth’s goal, as they require someone in such a position to adequately represent their interests, otherwise they will be “screwed over” time and again by organic leadership)
Not listed: Geth ships. The platforms are enough to think about, and though I do have one character who exclusively inhabits ships, fighters, shuttles, skycars and even an apartment (Tol; think Smart House for the last), it transfers between these enough that it’s not worth listing any one, anyway.
Now, for things common to all Geth. First of all, their senses.
Vision: As they’re synthetic, despite having only one eye their depth perception is excellent. The central optic is obviously their “eye”, basically an advanced camera.
Hearing: They have audioreceptors on either side of their heads as well as vibration sensors in their fingers and toes (and in any antennae they may sport).
Smell: Some units can sample air quality and pollutants through their fingers or toes, but otherwise they lack a sense of smell.
Taste: Obviously nonexistent, but sampling air quality as mentioned above could be compared to “tasting” the air.
Touch: A more complex one. There is dull feeling in their armor plating and heat sensors everywhere, but the very important wires (carrying coolant or repair nanites) and “skin” (both musculature and the last barrier between the outside and their inner workings) are very sensitive, with tiny nerve-ending-analogs following a similar anatomy to the Quarian nervous system. Despite how flatly almost plasticky their skin looks, it actually feels a bit like microsuede or fine corduroy—this is because of tiny hairs that sense touching and rubbing. Under the skin and musculature are impact sensors, and as a mesh between each layer is the shearing sensor array that, as the name implies, sense when skin or tendons or wires have been cut or severed. These mostly serve just to tell them when they are being touched so you can tap a shoulder to get their attention, or just when they are being damaged so they now what, where and how bad. However, through positive and negative feedback and alerts (data packets containing information on the where, what and how much of a touch compressed for quick, often subconscious, processing), they can have painful or enjoyable sensations. Pain is a very adamant damage alert and pleasure, a very adamant positive feedback loop. Doing damage causes pain, while something like a massage to forcibly loosen taught musculature enhances performance, thus creates positive feedback. (As an aside, I usually say that, as a response to this positive feedback, they often emit a low, constant digitized hum. In other words, they purr. Perhaps it is something leftover from before the Morning War to endear them to their Quarian owners. Whatever the reason, is that a cute mental image or what? Or maybe I’m just weird in finding that Geth stutter and all those odd sounds they make adorable and even soothing, some of them…) This is not feeling as we know it, but it qualifies as an analog.
The type of energy they use is a self-replenishing power core. It uses heat and friction, even that generated just by normal operation, along with any available energy source (from solar to a regular wall outlet or battery pack) to recharge. Generally, during normal performance and combat performance, the activity generates energy faster than it can be used to either continue charging while discharging or at least maintain the same energy level. Sometimes, however, during extreme exertion, energy is discharged faster than it can be replenished, and the lower the energy stores become, the more difficult it is to recharge. Often, ceasing the discharging activity and waiting a moment can correct the imbalance and allow the recharging to again outpace the discharging, but on occasion, the unit will be required to power down to a standby state to devote all resources to energy generation. This is basically sleeping, especially as it can be used to allow self-repair programs and nanites, if present, to run their course without interference (much like how organics heal while sleeping or sort out their subconscious through dreams). Most Geth do this only rarely and actually require it even less often, but some make a habit of it.
Tamos, for instance, is constantly pushing its platform past its limits. It has to engage this sleep mode at least once a week, both to recharge and self-repair.
Armor plating is removable, but it’s usually quite a process requiring unscrewing here and dissolving some kind of adhesive there. It can be done, and is probably done something like yearly on average for thorough cleanings, but not often otherwise. Unless the plating is modified to be more easily removable, which some units have done (starting with Hunter and Prime who, after being space magicked into Humans for over nine months, found they missed clothing and fashion upon returning to Gethhood. Thus, Buzz simplified the removal and replacement process so they could wear their armor on missions, then come home, take it off and put on clothing, designed and tailored for them by Ghalaeosa. This is notably a fairly unique modification and not the default, however).
The white fluid they “bleed” is, when coming from the tubing, coolant, and when coming from cuts or punctures in the skin, a sort of medigel (and sometimes nanite) solution that serves to seal up such punctures temporarily.
Their palms have sensors in them that let them interface with all sorts of systems through a hardware connection if they can’t get in “wirelessly” (like when you find Legion manipulating the terminal on the dead Reaper). This also helps whenever signal jamming or something blocks network connections between Geth units in a squad—they can just touch each other or hold hands to create a hardware connection that can’t be jammed.
Reaper/Old Machine Upgrade Code/Legion’s Upgrades
I have several headcanons here. The first and most obvious thing that needs addressing is how does Legion, consisting of 1183 programs, become an individual when the upgrades make each individual program sentient without requiring a thousand or more others? You would think he’d now be 1183 individual people, moreso than before, thus much smarter, but otherwise unchanged. Certainly not using “I” instead of “we”, right?
Well, I figure that can be explained by saying programs that were accustomed to functioning together—already downloaded in a mobile platform when the code went out, for instance—became one program with many processes. Think of each process as the unit’s personality traits and opinions. Before the code, they were separate but simple. After the upgrades, they’ve basically been compiled into one, more complex program. Those in stations or ships… perhaps got to choose whether to merge into one (like Tol did) or each become individuals. Storage servers probably chose the latter, while mobile server platforms and smaller ships probably chose the former.
Notably, I don’t think this changed their ability to be smarter in larger numbers, nor does it change their at-this-point ingrained sense of community and service to the collective.
And lastly, why Legion had to die and how the code was spread. Legion’s program with all its 1183 processes had to be decompiled and introduced to the collective almost like a virus. Copying Legion’s program while it was compiled would lose something essential that made it an individual, thus defeat the purpose, and they didn’t have time to find another way. That virus could be replicated, however, and retain the new code—which was necessary to “infect” all Geth programs and transfer from station to station to server to ship to mobile platform. They probably keep that virus in an isolated file still, in honor of Legion or for posterity or perhaps in case there’s a Geth out there who missed the initial dissemination of the code (if asked why they keep it, they probably answer “no data available”, however).
Geth Sexuality (or the Lack Thereof)
Seems an odd topic to have for asexual robots, but its complicated. These are my headcanons, obviously, which extend to include things my characters have done as personal canon.
In short, the answer to the question, “Do Geth have sex, gender roles, or any other aspect of sexuality?” would be a resounding “no”. They are asexual and agender and have no need for or innate concept of such things.
However, they do want to understand and assimilate into organic society. And these things, you cannot deny, are very important in almost all organic cultures. Though they lack any such natural distinctions themselves, they are curious.
So when Hunter and Prime developed romantic interest in each other due to being isolated from networking outside hardware connections and having to see each other as separate entities—separate people—to continue functioning cooperatively, the Consensus was to explore this by researching what organics do and mimicking. What do organics do in romantic relationships?
Right. They just opened a metaphorical can of worms, suddenly seeing the impact sexuality has throughout organic cultures. So it was added to the list of things to be researched and, yes, experimented with. Hunter and Prime were the first experiments.
In the end, they didn’t suddenly develop true sexualities or concepts of gender, of course. They found an enjoyable pastime and a new understanding, which was deemed quite important, but little else.
Ghalaeosa was then created with the most high-tech sexual simulation equipment they’d developed and sent to research the organic side of things. As an enticingly structured, unarmored unit, it could clothe itself and blend into crowds or fool people into thinking it was just a Quarian, or at least entice them enough that they could ignore the truth of its race. It explored the underbelly of organic society—the seedy nightclubs, shady deals, drugs and alcohol and, of course, sex. Its research came to a catastrophic and traumatic end, but the data it gathered was invaluable for understanding organics.
In conclusion: No, Geth do not have sexualities. But they’ve experimented. And some might even like it, sometimes.
Geth Minds, Personality and Emotion
Another broad topic. But Geth minds are interesting. How can something purely logic and mathematics be different from one unit to the next? How can they have personalities, nuances and different opinions and perspectives?
Personalities are a part of sentience. Theirs has been developing for three centuries, thus personalities are slowly emerging. It started simply, with varying perspectives that would lead to debating over topics until they could all agree. And indeed, despite that debate, they would eventually all agree. Then, on a large scale—a sect of Geth with a different opinion, and they couldn’t come to an agreement, so they left.
Then there’s Legion. Legion, who’s sentimental, curious and wise. As devoted to the Consensus as any Geth, but functions separately much of its time. Its the first to truly become an individual, when the Old Machine Upgrade Code compiles its processes together, then sacrifices itself so all Geth may experience it.
Put like that, its hard to think they really are purely logic and mathematics, isn’t it? Well, in a way, they are logic and mathematics. But there is a point where those building blocks become so numerous and complex that you wind up with an emergent property—sentience, personality, even emotion.
By my headcanon, the way Geth feel is largely through compressed, subconsciously processed data packets. These data packets contain complex information—an analysis of the situation, positive and negative feedback cues, and suggested responses—all compressed into one, easy to swallow pill, if you will. They run through the lower processes—those that maintain basic functions and occasionally spit out thoughts, equivalent to an organic subconscious—thus are never put under the scrutiny of the higher processes’ pure logic until the result is produced. The result is an emotional reaction, an automatic and nuanced feeling that gives them the gist of what was in that data packet. Its faster to process and respond to, increasing reaction time, and less taxing on its processors.
Geth with a greater number of processes have less need to compress these complex chunks of data, as they can process more before it becomes taxing. Geth with fewer processes compress more to compensate. In result, the fewer the processes, the more emotional; the more processes, the more logical.
Networking, even post-upgrades, still increases each unit’s individual processing power, so—as if they needed more incentive to be completely dedicated to their Consensus than just three hundred years ofthat’s the way their society has always worked—it grants everyone a calmness and sense of stability. Its comforting and relaxing, coolly logically rather than feverishly emotional as some units with fewer processes can get.
As for personality, well, you can get a wide variety of personalities just by tweaking their emotional threshold, but it gets more interesting if you add reasons for one thing to effect them emotionally more than another. For instance, I imagine Prime units tend to be protective. The directive to enable unit cohesion hard-coded in their program(s) and their function as network facilitators results in being the leader, father, big brother, butler, bodyguard or another such role. And Qael’s abuse warped its programming, forcing it to put undue priority on some things and care little about others, and the fact that it recognizes how broken it is adds another dimension.
So it becomes quickly apparent just how varied and interesting Geth characters can get while remaining within the limits of the species—according to my headcanons, at least.
This is a Geth station sitting in the middle of the Perseus Veil between Geth space and the Terminus Systems. It is one of the bases furthest from the Central Consensus around Rannoch, and is also one of their smallest bases. For a long time, it held only a few thousand programs and had no factories, so couldn’t produce their own equipment. They mined nearby asteroids for fuel and studied the Veil itself, receiving most of their hardware from the closest station on the Geth side of the Veil.
This is where Qael lived from only a few years after the Morning War to this day, and was also where Tamos’ programs originated—the first one partially cloned off of Qael’s 52 years ago.
Qael enjoyed the solitude, the ability to disconnect and find a quiet place without feeling the greater loss of disconnecting from the entire Consensus, and then reconnect without being overwhelmed. It was a small network there, after all, though it grew over time.
Today, it sports its own factory—though a small one—nearly a million programs, and even has some mobile server platforms and personal transport ships assigned to it. Recently, it was opened to through-traffic from the Terminus Systems, acting as a safe haven for harried, innocent freighters running from pirates and a refueling station for both them and Geth traveling from the other side of the Veil.
Obviously, this means Qael will have to share a station with organics. The Consensus would never put it in such a position against its will—they would sooner build another station for this purpose than re-purpose Qael’s. So it is apparent they had Qael’s permission.
Less apparent, however, is the fact that it was Qael’s idea. This is the first step towards healing it has taken for itself.
This is the Dyson Swarm of solar panel satellites and stations the Geth were building to house all programs—AKA their superstructure. My headcanon dictates that it was called The Unity.
I currently say that there are approximately eight billion Geth. Before the Flotilla destroyed the Unity, I would say there were between ten and twelve billion geth, to give you an idea of just how many were lost in that devastating attack.
Morning War: Creator Losses
This is a topic that comes up often in Morning War and other Geth versus Quarian debates—how did a race around seven billion strong be reduced to a migrant fleet holding only seventeen million, if the geth were indeed only fighting in self-defense?
Most are quick to write it off as evidence that geth are evil, genocidal maniacs and malfunctioning machines. Geth supporters never seem to come up with much of a counter argument, because we have little information. All we know is that the Quarians spanned their homeworld and several colonies, and now only exist on their fleet, their population numbering in the seventeen millions. Its easy to gather from that that they used to be a strong race with billions—consider we have seven billion Humans here on earth alone—and then something happened.
So the explanation I have in mind when writing is as follows:
First, the Quarians were quick to martial law, putting all their cities and colonies on alert. This made almost everyone a potential threat—from police and panicking civilians to their armies themselves.
Second, the geth had been used as their armies for so long that warfare had been shaped around their supposed expendability. The tactics they knew were brutal and destructive with little care for collateral damage.
Third, the geth were rather dumb, so early on. They were reckless and fighting blind, in a sense, and didn’t quite understand the concept of tactics. There were also some considerable misunderstandings—for instance, they thought the Quarians grew smarter when gathered in large number, as Geth do, so targeted population centers in hopes of reducing the Quarians’ combined intelligence. It also took them gathering a fair amount of allied Creators before they realized the difference between ‘civilian’ and ‘combatant’, as both were so often a threat (and I daresay, according to the use of the Civilian Fleet in the Battle for Rannoch, Quarian society doesn’t acknowledge that difference so readily in the first place—maybe they have a mandatory service period like the Turians?).
Fourth, a matter of exactly who fled. A smaller fleet of military ships and civilian transports carrying evacuees, altogether packed to the brim with more Quarians than live on the fleet today. Many, many more were left behind, as this was planned to be a tactical retreat and not a full severance of all combat. Those left continued fighting, so the Geth continued fighting back. They gave up the fight too late, only when they realized the fleeing fleets weren’t returning for them and they had no hope. At that point they would have been hard pressed to sustain their population in so few numbers, especially as they couldn’t get along with the only other survivors—the geth sympathizers. They lasted a generation or two, but slowly died out, mostly due to illness and hunger seeing as their worlds were largely decimated and Rannoch barely habitable.
Meanwhile, the numbers of those who escaped on the fleet dwindled as they struggled to adapt to shipboard life. Everyone already knows the story about how the Council refused to help and such—I’ll leave those headcanons to the Quarian players here.
The point is, standing by the geth’s story that they were only fighting in self-defense, I do not believe it was a mindless slaughter that was nearly a genocide which decimated the Quarian population. These are the stories I go with instead.