The Let's Play Archive


by M.c.P

Part 16: Entry 16 - Solving the Dome

Soundtrack – The Red Cave

This grid… it has dark lines, and the shapes they’re in, I think I’ve seen them before.

I think they’re the five different islands. This dome is connected to a smaller dome on each of them. This might be a grid representation of Riven.

After all, Catherine said it all used to be one island, right? The pieces would fit together before they broke apart.

There was a place to look at a map, the water and metal pin contraptions on the Map Island. The other side of the Age, sure, but it gave me time to think.

First through the Gate Room, rotating the room around once more to take the other path…

- These buildings are meant to power the books. That’s their purpose, and this grid is supposed to represent that.

Next through the insides of the Great Golden Dome and over the massive footbridge to Bookmaker’s Island…

- So what do the marbles represent, along with their placement on grid? Perhaps the locations of something important.

Through Gehn’s workshop, hitting the Tram button on the way, and to the Tram stop…

- For Gehn, the important thing would be his books, each of which is housed in a smaller dome.

Take the tram (Which had become increasingly pedestrian) to the Map Island and follow the path. The water still shimmered in the sunlight from when I last played with it.

- So that’s what the marbles represented, the domes for each island. I had to place the right marble in the place where each dome is on the map.

Thankfully, Gehn’s own lackeys had their map of the island. Cartography isn’t my strong suit.

The map had been left on Temple Island, and it took just a moment to find the Dome, nestled on its own pillar of rock.

A large grid of 5x5, with each square subdivided into 5x5. A 25x25 grid altogether.

It was a quick job to find the other domes and their locations.

The dome on Bookmaking Island was underground, of course. But the crater on top of it was still shown on the map.

With a little mental numbering I had something I could put in the big grid. Now to deal with the colors.


Of course I had a better idea about the colors of the domes. And fortunately it was on the same island.

I just had to turn the tram around and take a short elevator ride.

The giant survey room had given the information. It had been made to monitor the village and the pipe connections underwater, but it was also information on the color symbols

It just took a little playing around to remind myself of them.

Unfortunately, the last light had been broken, but it should do as a place to start.

The domes themselves had a symbol to open each one. So I just need to figure out the symbols and the colors. Fortunately I recorded the symbols. Going back to check each one would be even more time consuming.


This worked out less well than I thought.

The Dome on Map Island had a broken viewfinder, so I don’t know its symbol. I don’t think there’s any earthly way of getting to the island with the giant tree stump, so I don’t know that symbol either. And the color light for the Bookmaking Island’s symbol is broken, so I don’t know that color. 3 unknowns, with a spare color makes for far too many permutations.

Looking at the colors I do have, process of elimination might not be out of the question though.

The grid had 6 colored marbles after all, and the only one missing is… purple.

I think I can work with this.


It felt like my last trip around Riven as I headed back to the Great Golden Dome. I’d seen so much of this Age in my time here. Most of it had been so barren, but the few people I saw were scared. They had reason to be, so much of this Age was falling apart at the seams.

But I had one last obstacle between me and Gehn. The trap book weighed on me, lying in my pack with my pens and journal. It would be used soon.

First I placed the marbles I was sure of. The Village Island Dome, high in the treetops, gated off from the villagers that lived beneath. The Bookmaking Island dome, placed behind trick doors in a cave on Gehn’s private island. The Temple Island dome, standing on a pillar of rock and dwarfed by its enormous brother right next door.

I placed two more marbles in the right locations, though I wasn’t sure of their colors. The Map Island dome, lying in a placid lake ringed by the tusks of dead whales. The Tree Island dome, the last place on Riven I had yet to see, a tombstone for this dying Age.

I backed up down the corridor. A conspicuous switch was planted in the wall here.

Trying the switch lowered the press onto the grid. Each movement accompanied by the sound of metal and steam. They echoed loudly in the corridor.

The switch moved and revealed a button. I pressed it firmly.

It clicked, and nothing happened.

I gave it a couple tries, but clearly I got the colors wrong.

I flipped the switch to raise the press and tried again.

Perhaps switching the colors of orange and yellow would work?

It didn’t.

I think that 2 spaces with 3 mutually exclusive colors works out to 6 different possibilities. It wouldn’t be too much of an issue to simply try all the permutations.

I took out the blue marble and swapped it with yellow.

No luck.

A quick switch of the colors…

And a step back to try the switch again.

With a sudden jolt, the piston slammed upwards, sending a booming sound echoing around the islands. The dome immediately began to hum.

I’d done it.

I turned around and rushed to the nearest Dome, the Temple Island dome.

It was the work of a moment to enter the code. 2, 13, 14, 20, 21.

The dome slammed shut around me. I could hear the grinding of machinery as it began to rotate around me.

The linking book for Gehn’s 233rd Age was still there. But when I opened it this time…

The linking panel came to life.

A flyby of an impossible landscape. Mountains stacked on mountains underneath a red sky. The landscape was so alien I wondered if anyone lived there.

Eventually it circled in to rotate on a single building, perched on a mountain. Gehn’s home away from home, no doubt.

I’m writing these words inside this spinning dome before I put my hand on the panel. There’s a chance these are the last words I’ll ever write.

Gehn is ruthless, extremely knowledgeable, and has the resources of 2 Ages at his call. But he is also desperate. So much of his ambitions have been stymied by being trapped here, if he even had an inkling of hope that he could return to D’ni, he may seize it.

But he’s also, perhaps rightfully, paranoid. Locked doors, hidden passages, secrecy and obfuscation surround everything he does. He won’t trust me, and he might not trust my ‘Linking book’.

Hopefully I can talk him into it.