The Let's Play Archive


by M.c.P

Part 21: Extras - Prison Book Bad Endings

BAD ENDS – I’ve got a prison in my pocket

Alright ladies and goons, today we’re going to look at some more bad endings we can blunder into in Riven.

The theme of the day is the prison book. As a reminder, this is a one-use trap that puts anyone who puts their hand on the panel in a black void. If anyone else touches the panel, they swap places with anyone who happens to be inside.

It’s dangerous, and Riven does not stop you from doing some pretty stupid shit with it.

Ending Five

You may remember, you get the prison book from Nelah when you get to Tay.

From this point on the prison books sits in your limited inventory, and can be opened and observed at any time.

So yes, you can immediately open the prison book and slap your hand on the panel.

It ends as well as you’d expect.

After a bit of blackness, you get treated to the following scene. The Moiety fellows speak in muffled Rivenese, but the context makes the conversation clear.

It starts with this goggled fellow staring intently at the you, or the panel you’re stuck in. The flickering light makes it clear that right behind you is a fire.

He starts to reach out for the panel, but his friend smacks his hand with a stick.

They have an unintelligible conversation. One imagines the seated fellow is saying that it looks like a perfectly normal linking book.

This friend then likely explains that Catherine said it was a trap, and the little figure seen in the picture is the idiot who slapped his hand on the panel and got himself trapped. Especially since he vanished from a locked room leaving nothing but the book behind.

Point made, the first guy gives you one last look,

And then he shuts the book, presumably shortly before throwing the book on the fire.

The end, roll credits.

The Moiety, rightfully so, didn’t want to mess with the dangerous one person trap, especially since you just demonstrated you can’t really be trusted with it. But hey, you kept it out of Gehn’s hands, right?

Ending Rank: Yep, it works.

Ending Six

Now that’s if you trap yourself in a moiety controlled area. But most of the game is under Gehn’s dominion.

Let’s use the lovely lakeside dock near the village for this next demonstration.

Crack open the prison book, slap your hand on the panel…

And let’s see where we end up next.

The book opens up to Cho, Gehn’s personal lackey.

He’s giving the book a very concerned look, but Gehn can be heard offscreen, speaking in D’ni. He’s urging Cho to do something.

It becomes clear soon. With a fair bit of trepidation, Cho puts his hand on the panel.

You pop out in front of Gehn, holding the book.

Gehn is, naturally, skeptical.

He doesn’t waste any time though. He steps back, grabs his gun, and shoots you. Presumably in the gut because he talks for a while as you bleed out in front of him.

Hey, at least someone’s happy here.

"I see you found the book. Thank you for returning it to me.”

“It seems, however, that circumstances have changed.”

“I'm afraid my reunion with Atrus will have to wait.”

At this point your vision and hearing fades as you get closer to death.

“I'd so been looking forward to seeing him.”

The last thing you hear, muffled and distant, before you pass on is the following.

“Well, there's still time."

The end, roll credits.

Well, on the bright side Gehn doesn’t have access to D’ni and the multiverse. You’re dead as hell though and Catherine is doomed. And, more importantly, Cho is stuck in the prison book forever, so this is truly the worst end possible.

Ending Rank: Cho, we hardly knew ye

Ending Seven

Now, those are the two possibilities of what happens if you trap yourself.

But what happens if you open the prison book up after you trap Gehn?

The book is still in your inventory, and it looks like Gehn is sitting pretty in D’ni. Riven certainly won’t stop you from putting your hand on the page.

Let’s let him out, shall we?

Gehn opens up the book soon afterwards.

“I don’t know exactly why you released me, but you realize of course that this must be the end for you.”

“I can’t take the chance that you will… change your mind again.”

“It may provide you with some solace to know that, with this act of self-sacrifice, you have secured your place in history.”

“The D’ni culture will be reborn, and the lives of millions will be purified. Thanks to you.”


Piece said, Gehn close the book.

The end, roll credits.

It could be that Gehn keeps the book around, even opening it up every once in a while to say ‘hi’. And with the way Atrus made this book, you can’t even communicate back. Not that that’s ever been an obstacle

Ending rank: At least he thanked you.

Ending Eight

Okay, letting him go is bad. But what if you released him someplace where he wasn’t in control?

For example, Tay.

You have to be really trying to get this one. You get the prison book from Tay, after all, and there’s no reason to come back here afterwards, especially after you trap Gehn.

But if you do…

You get a good look at Gehn, all kitted out for a fight. Nice of him to have a word with us before he started.

“It appears that the Moiety and I will finally be able to discuss our differences face to face.”

“I don’t know why you released me, but you realize this must be the end for you.”

It’s the exact same speech from here though.

He thanks you for your service, and then closes the book.

I don’t know exactly how much success he expects as a single armed man against a society… but you are right in the cave leading back to Riven. One can only assume Gehn grabs a posse and, ah, pacifies the resistance.

Ending Rank: Imagine a boot stamping on a face forever.

Ending Nine
There’s one more mistake you can make in Riven. It still relates to the Prison book, but only tangentially

It involves Gehn and him wanting you to go first into the prison book. You’ll recall that the first time around he mentioned he’s a very busy man and to be certain if you call him on the bell.

Let’s waste his time.

We hesitated the first time around in the LP proper, but here’s what he would have said if we sat on our hands during our second visit.

“Here, I shall follow you directly.”

Wait around and he gets more insistent.


He eventually loses patience and backs off while giving you a fantastic skeptical eyebrow.

“You’re free to go.”


“I think you should not come back, unless you are willing to use the book.”

He leaves without another word.

Menacing stuff. Let’s bother him again.

Gehn goes straight to the table the third time.

“Alright then, once more.”

He’s definitely tired of you by now.

“The only path open to you now is through this book.”

“Take it.”

Wait long enough, and Gehn probably starts to suspect something.

Which is why the next thing he does is pick up his gun and shoot you. It’s another slow death. Gehn likes to talk, after all.

“You see, I have changed.”

“There was a time when I might have let you live.”

“I made that mistake with Atrus once.”

“It’s a pity you decided not to give me a second chance.”

“Well, there’s still time.”

The end.

Ending Rank: Tyrants enforce the penalties they want.

Thank you very much everyone. This has been a fun LP to write, though I admit I was struggling with a very buggy port and lots of hard crashes near the end. Thank you for taking an interest in this LP, and I hope this has presented this two decade old game in a way that was understandable and interesting.

Now, to see if I can get Exile to work.