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Headscratchers for Mass Effect.

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    Elcor Hands 

  • Exactly what do the Elcor use for hands?
    • Their hands are used for hands. The elcor forearms have long fingers that they use to manipulate tools. Their arms are just long enough that they can use them as another pair of legs as well. I imagine it would be similar to how gorillas use their hands.

  • Why does the game measure planetary info relative to Earth? For instance Cyone has a gravity of 0.95 of Earth's. Gravity is measured in Newtons with Earth's as 9.8.
    • Earth is what we're familiar with, so it's the baseline we use to judge other planets. We do the exact same thing in real life. For example, distance between a planet and its sun is measured in Astronomical Units (AUs). One Astronomical Unit is the average distance between Earth and Sol.
    • Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure.
    • Fridge Brilliance sets in when you realize that you're reading the human version of the Codex. Reading the Turian or Asari translations probably would have different measurements.


  • Something that occurred to me last night. Why does anyone care about death anymore? Cerberus managed to resurrect a corpse, and depending on your choices, the leader of that little project is still out there. So if Shepard dies in the destroy ending, you bring him back again. Mordin sacrifices himself? Dig the body out and jump start it. Wrex, Eve, the Virmire survivor, Tali. Anyone who dies could conceivably be revived as long as they have some semblance of a body. Sure, it cost 2 billion credits at the time, but that could be attributed to a terror group running R&D testing. They've got the formula down, and could conceivably adapt it to any species.
    • A valid point, but during Mass Effect 3, a little problem called the Reapers that everyone is worried about, so not a whole lot of focus on a then-experimental procedure that MIGHT work. Of course, with the Reaper threat over at the end of Mass Effect 3, that could probably be researched.
    • Actually, it cost way more than two billion credits, and more than two billion credits is a lot of money. Shepard him/herself essentially says that "you could have trained an army for what you spent on me." No one's going to have the money to spend on resurrecting a single person because its bloody expensive as fuck and they've got to rebuild all of civilization.
    • The cloning facility also gets attacked in the opening to 2, and with the casualties among the staff coupled with the loss in data it might be set back even further.
    • To clarify, it's likely that the majority of the expenses went into actually figuring out how to resurrect someone. And between all of the people who died in the Reaper invasion and how pretty much every organic has a personal stake in this type of medicine, it wouldn't be too hard to drum up support. After all, billions of credits won't do you much good when you're dead.
    • The are several problems that . 1) They didn't have the technology or knowledge to do it until they tried to bring back Shepard (several of the medical/technological breakthroughs were discovered for the first time while working on Shepard) 2) The process was time-consuming as it took over two years to bring back Shepard; time the Reapers wouldn't give them 3) Due to Wilson's betrayal, the station was attacked with most of the people killed and equipment destroyed so the knowledge was somewhat lost 4) The process relies on recovering the body with the brain intact, which obviously is not always possible in a war, especially since the Reapers would try to turn the bodies into husks 5) It's possible not everyone would take being brought back as well as Shepard did.
    • Even Shepard speculates that large parts of his cognitive functioning are a VI programmed to think it's Shepard. This has precedent, as the American President Christopher Huerta was resurrected after death in this manner.

    Asari technological superiority 

  • Is it just me or is the supposed technological and scientific superiority of the asari nothing but Informed Ability? What are exactly the asari's technological contributions to the Citadel Space anyway? The quarians created the geth, an entire race of AIs (though the lack of AIs is due to the restrictions on AI research imposed by the Council, and it wouldn't a big surprise to me if it were the asari who came up with these restrictions too). The humans created medi-gel and managed to "resurrect" a person who would otherwise be considered dead. The salarians created the genophage, the modified genophage, and the cure to it. Meanwhile, the asari can't even cure a genetic disorder like the Ardat-Yakshi. In fact, it seems that the whole Ardat-Yakshi story exists for no other reason than the Rule of Drama - despite what Samara says, it won't take "magic" to cure the disorder. The Codex specifically states in ME1 that the humans have already managed to cure most of their most dangerous genetic disorders through screening and gene therapy - why won't the asari do the same thing? Samara says the AY disorder only becomes incurable after the symptoms manifest during adolescence, so there is plenty of time to diagnose it before that. The natural biotic abilities of the asari are no achievement of theirs - as far as I can remember, anything born on Thessia has biotic abilities due to eezo permeating everything on the planet. Their "telepathic" reproduction is probably due to Prothean influence. So, once again, what exactly did the asari achieve?
    • They pretty much built the Citadel society and economy from the ground up. They're the foremost experts on biotics and mass effect technology in general. They've got the largest economy and population in the galaxy. While the examples you mentioned of other species' technologies are notable, those are for the most part just singular examples of those technologies. The fact that the asari maintain an unquestionably superior economy and political presence int he first place indicates that while other species have their achievements, the asari have a general technological, cultural, political, and economic advantage over everyone else in the majority of typical technologies. The fact that they haven't cured the Ardat-Yakshi genetic issue is not an indicator of lacking genetic capability. Humans haven't been able to cure Vrolik's Syndrome, Garrus' mother does suffer from an unspecified disease that hasn't been treated yet, the drell have not been cured of Kepral's Syndrome, no one's found a way to improve vorcha lifespans, etc. There are plenty of examples of diseases that have not yet been cured in the setting, so a particular genetic disorder remaining untreated is not inconsistent with the medical technology of the setting.
      • Actually, the modern economic system was set up by the Volus, who have a lot of experience with trade (pre-contact they had no experience with war, because they acquired what they needed by trading peacefully with each other instead). The galactic economy was considered very unstable before then. [1]
    • Re the AY cure; Samara also mentions that it isn't possible to diagnose an Ardat-Yakshi before puberty, at which point it's too late to do anything about. It's not that the Asari haven't tried.
    • In the first game, the Infinity-1Sword and Infinity+1Sword level biotic amps and omni-tools you can get are if the asari made Savant brand. The next best ones to those are also the asari made Prodigy and Nexus brands. The reason why their weapons aren't top of the line is because fighting isn't their hat. And even then, the most powerful advanced dreadnought was the asari Destiny Ascension. In the second game too, the asari Illium colony is where you can get the highest number of omni tool and biotic amp upgrades. As well as the place where the most credits can be obtained. In the third game, the Acolyte and Disciple are actually well conceptualized weapons tailor made for a biotic Magic Knight whereas every other weapon interferes with the use of powers. Even in War assets, the asari provide the most among the three council races, slightly edging out the turians by about 60. That is what their technological accomplishments are.
    • A lot of this was probably intentional. The asari had gotten complacent with their slight technological advantage and never pressed harder. They even had a functional Prothean beacon (kept illegally since that tech must be handed in according to rules they wrote) but only used it to stay a bit ahead of the curve. Their long lifespans and culture made them wait things out and take their time too much. One asari points this out and starts pushing to make changes, force young people to get their act together early, make mass relays of their own. The proposal is laughed out if the room.

    Rarity of Garrus's markings. 
  • In Mass Effect 3 we find out Garrus was born on Palaven, so we can assume his markings are Palaven markings. But if that's the case, why don't we see a single other turian with the same markings?
    • Because there's trillions of turians and we run into at most several hundred unique turians over the course of the series? Also, just because a turian is wearing facial markings it doesn't mean that they're the markings of their planet. Also, the markings are generally used by turians who were descended from colonists, not the homeworld. There's no reason to assume that Garrus' markings are Palaven-specific.
    • Perhaps the markings are somehow related to lineage of some sort? Military unit, clan, something like that? Like a wearable version of the Japanese mon?

    Zoo Hypothosis. 
  • So the current iteration of the galactic community has existed since the human Neolithic period, and in that time, throughout all the wars and colonizations, human astronomers or stargazers never saw hints of extraterrestrial activity? Is there a canon explanation for this?
    • The galactic community has only existed in its current state since around 500 BC, not the human Neolithic era, which would much, much further back. The galaxy is also enormous and the mass relay network means that until you find a relay that opens into that part of the galaxy, it's effectively cut off from the rest. Furthermore, the Citadel has only explored <2% of the entire galaxy with automated probes and fly-by survey ships. Humanity was only able to detect stellar-scale radiation for only about two hundred years before making first contact, and with the vast majority of Citadel and other colonized galactic space being more than a few thousand light years away, we wouldn't be able to detect any transmissions (and those transmissions would be incredibly weak and virtually undetectable). With the Charon Relay frozen, there's no way for any alien life to enter the Solar System. tl;dr: Humanity didn't detect any signs of extraterrestrial life because space is fucking huge.

    Geth Ships 
  • Why would the Geth design their ships to look like giant bugs? That demonstrates a concern for aesthetics that seems unusual in a species that considers windows to be an unacceptable structural weakness.
    • As long as the aesthetics of the ship don't affect the practicality of it, it doesn't matter. Also, the ships are basically bigger Geth platforms, so they use a familiar shape from the default platforms. The ships are basically the biggest types of the Geth gestalt, having exponentially more Geth runtimes running the platform. When the Geth use the ships, they don't go inside it with their platforms; they transfer themselves into the ship platform itself, only transferring themselves to the default "mobile" platforms on need basis, whether it be defending or boarding another vessel. They make it to be similar to their normal platforms, since they have already mastered them, which is the optimum method for their type of space travel.
    • Geth do have what looks like some kind of aesthetic preference for those sorts of shapes. There's no apparent reason for them to continue using platforms that resemble quarian body structures, but they insist on doing so.
    • There are no insects on Rannoch, and I'm pretty sure there aren't any on the Migrant Fleet either. Which means that insects are something alien to the quarians. And organics fear what they don't know. This makes the very design of Geth ships a weapon of intimidation aimed at the quarians.

    Alliance organization 
  • Why would the Alliance already have a large fleet of interplanetary military before the First Contact War? This isn't just space police either, they're supposed to have several dreadnoughts already before they encounter the Turians. Against what threat are these supposed to be deployed? Was it just a "well, just in case we ever find aliens, we better have a huge fleet ready to meet them" thing?
    • Pretty much, yes. They already had confirmation that intelligent alien life existed by that point. As far as they knew at that time, these “Protheans” probably were still out there.
    • Yeah, the relays are pretty obviously artifical structures, and they had found and reactivated several prior to the First Contact War, so the knew that other intelligences existed (or at least had existed) somewhere. (This is actually the reason the turians attacked; randomly reactivating relays is dangerous and against Citadel law.) [2]

    Alliance military overrated 
  • Let us examine the Alliance Navy's stated capability in the Codex and compare it to its actual record
    • Shanxi - Draw as everything returned to status quo antebellum. Would have actually been an embarrassing loss had all 35 dreadnoughts of the Turian fleet ganged up and attempted to capture or obliterate Arcturus (whose poor defensibility is examined in Mass Effect 3/Fridge Brilliance) and Earth. An overly cautious council allows it to eke out a draw from eventual defeat.
    • Mindoir - Loss, as the fleet could do nothing to prevent the entire colony from being massacred or enslaved.
    • Elysium - Win if War Hero Shepard existed. Not sure if it was a win otherwise.
    • Torfan - Win but a very inept win if 75% of forces were lost achieving that victory.
    • Eden Prime - Loss. Beacon was used before Shepard could get to it, priming it for destruction. An entire division was annihilated and the colony almost got blown up.
    • Feros - Three out of five possible outcomes result in the colony being lost outright, so a narrow Loss.
    • Terra Nova - Win, but would have been a devastating loss if Shepard hadn't shown up.
    • Freedom's Progress, Ferris Fields, new Canton - Losses
    • Citadel - Win, but would have been a huge Loss if Sovereign hadn't ASSUMED DIRECT CONTROL of Saren and lost its shields.
    • Horizon - Loss as it was Cerberus who saved the colony and used that as political capital.
  • With this record it seems to be incredulous why the Council races consider the Alliance as so strategically important. Their fleet was at heart a paper tiger and only "won" due to Shepard's presence. The third game gives us two more examples of Alliance blunders - if Shepard didn't rescue Kenson, half a marine division is lost accomplishing the same task. And another Alliance black ops raid on the Batarians turned so bad they had to cover it up. And that info still leaked out to a weapons dealer. Turian Blackwatch was twice as strong as the Alliance's Delta team which is supposedly filled with N5 and N6 types. In all games Turian made weapons are more powerful than anything made by the Alliance. The Council could have just unleashed the Turian fleet in its entirety whenever Goyle or Udina got Uppity and come out of it none the worse for wear.
    • Several of those "losses" - Freedom's Progress, Ferris Fields, New Canton, and Horizon - are explicitly outside the Alliance's jurisdiction. Elysium was a victory regardless of Shepard's presence, as Pressly explicitly talks about how he was in the relief fleet that destroyed the pirates. Feros is not an Alliance loss, as the Exogeni security on the planet were actively suppressing attempts to call for help even after Shepard disabled the geth jamming. Torfan is up in the air; losses were specifically so high because Ruthless Shepard pushed his troops to extreme ends to achieve victory. I wouldn't count the Citadel either way, as the Citadel fleets also lost that engagement, and Sovereign was a fleet unto itself.
    • It should also be noted that the attack on Eden Prime in the first game has no indication of a space battle, which is fairly standard for Alliance doctrine (park fleets at strategic bases, not scattered over every colony), and, even if they had ships in orbit and the geth on the planet all arrived on Sovereign, nothing less than a full battlefleet with dreadnoughts would actually be able to bring Sovereign down, whether it was the Alliance doing the fighting or not.
    • Now, comparing the Alliance to the Turian Hierarchy is disengenious. The turians have been spacefaring for literally over a thousand years. Of course they have a leg up on the humans in terms of numbers and quality. Why the Council considers the Alliance strategically valuable is due to several factors: the Alliance is positioned to secure the Attican Traverse, and the Alliance has, in less than thirty years, managed to eclipse another Citadel power - the Batarian Hegemony. Yes, the Alliance is behind most of the Citadel in terms of raw numbers and power, but they've literally only had element zero technology for forty years, and in that time they grew so swiftly that they completely outcompeted an established, existing nation to the point that it actually quit the Citadel and went rogue. Balak even explicitly states that the Alliance is too strong for the Hegemony to challenge. That's plenty of reason for the Council to be interested in the humans.
    • Why would the Council need the Alliance a middle power at best to stabilize and control the Traverse? Why couldn't the Turians with their sheer military might, stabilize it already? And yes, the Alliance had in a short time eclipsed another nation, but that too was another middle power associate race. Sure, they could have eventually advanced to the point where the Alliance is on even keel with the other Council races, but already considering them when they were in actuality miles away from reaching such a level seems to be a panicked jump the gun type of reaction at best. Even the Volus and Elcor have to share an embassy while the Alliance gets a prominent one all for themselves right from Revealation. A far more prudent action would have been to make the Alliance share an embassy and dangle an exclusive embassy as a potential prize instead of a Council seat. And if they scream and yell, park a few dreadnoughts in the Exodus Cluster.
    • The turians already have to deal with patrolling the rest of Citadel space as it is. Far better to let a new, expanding power that is willing to move into the area do the work of colonizing an unstable and distant frontier than to move turian fleets that are patrolling the closer borders with the Terminus into undeveloped areas, especially undeveloped areas that Citadel members aren't really willing to colonize (considering that they have literally billions of star systems in their own territories to deal with).
    • Splitting this off from the previous point because it deserves its own entire bullet point: this idea of the Council moving turian ships into human space is colossally idiotic and completely out of character for the Citadel as a whole. The humans are allies. You don't send warships to threaten allies because they're raising a stink, and the Council itself doesn't have the authority to move warships like that anyway. The turian navies are under the control of the Hierarchy's Primarchs, not directly under the Council's control, and the Primarchs would never pull warships and send them against their allies over a minor diplomatic squabble. And if they did, other Citadel associates would quickly begin pulling out simply because suddenly the Council and/or the turians are throwing dreadnoughts around at minor political squabbles. If the Council somehow managed to get the pull to park dreadnoughts in human space as a threat, the humans would immediately withdraw from the Citadel and there would be a massive political shitstorm within the Citadel over a gross and blatant misuse of force against its own membership. Not to mention the turmoil that would result within the Council species; the massive asari e-democracy alone would go utterly batshit at the idea of resolving political disputes by gross abuse of force instead of reasoned diplomacy.
    • In Mass Effect: Revelation Ambassador Goyle flat out threatened to go to war with the Council if some very damaging sanctions weren't lifted. This wasn't a "minor diplomatic squabble" not by a long shot. At that point, the Council would have been well within their rights to call Goyle's bluff by sending a fleet of Dreadnoughts to human space and say "So you want to go to war with us? Just try it." This was in essence how JFK diffused the Cuban Missile Crisis and ensured that the USSR never projected power like that ever again. And by doing that they could have made sure that the Alliance progressed to possible Council status on their terms, not on humanity's terms as we see in the trilogy. Why the Council just gave in to the bluster is what is surprising. They certainly had a lot more spine during the Krogan Rebellions. Instead in this case they cave in to an actually weak military power and allow it to advance swiftly.
    • No. What Goyle did was basic brinkmanship negotiation. The Council threatened severe sanctions. She refused to accept the sanctions the Council was handing down for illegal AI research, and Sparatus was actually the one who suggested the possibility of war - but only the possibility, and Goyle immediately admits that the Alliance will lose. Followed by her pointing out exactly why the Alliance is valuable at that point in time: they're stabilizing a distant and dangerous area of space and are a major trade partner with several other species. She uses audacity to make a stand that shows she's willing to hold her position, and then she turns around and willingly accepts reduced penalties when the Council asks what the Alliance would accept without withdrawing from the Citadel. This is nothing like what JFK did in the Cuban Missile Crisis because at that time, the US and USSR were engaged in a cold war and the Crisis revolved around one side getting a severe and completely unacceptable strategic advantage over the other. They were not official allies. The Council and Goyle were negotiating, and neither side wanted war, because, again, they are allies. The comparison to the Krogan rebellions is also disingenious. The Council actually allowed the krogan to forcibly seize multiple colonies before they officially demanded they be returned. Only after the krogan refused did they go to war. In other words, the Council allowed a member state to repeatedly invade and annex allied territory before they finally went to war.
      The Council does not go to war lightly. If they're willing to let the krogan seize multiple colonies before turning to hostilities, there is absolutely no way they would go to war just because the humans balk at sanctions over failed AI research. Whether or not they would win is completely immaterial. The Council has consistently shown that it prefers peaceful negotiation over military conflict.
  • Another point to keep in mind is that from the Council Races POV, humans are looked at rather like a sleeping giant. They have progressed further in decades then some races have in centuries. The 'sleeping giant' part comes in when you realize their military is already on par with any other in the galaxy save the Turians, while only having ~10% of their overall population actively serving in it. The Turians by contrast have mandatory military service for everyone and their entire culture is built around military pursuits. The Council is wary of what might happen if some threat galvanized humanity enough to have them start throwing even more resources into their military.
    • Also having the turians patrol the frontier is a TERRIBLE idea. The turians only comprehend total war. If any pirates attack, or a Terminus power invaded Citadel space, they would be culturally and psychologically obligated to destroy them till they were no longer a threat. This would immediately led to escalation and war with the Terminus system. The First Contact War was started by a ship commander falling into this veiwpoint.
    • There's also the possible hesitation of the other Council races to hand the turians too much power. Asking them to secure the Terminus would have them control the largest space empire in the galaxy, and take control of vast sums of resources. At the same time, it's a service to the Council that would qualify them for political favors that would give them even more influence. Having another, less advanced, less established race do it instead makes the balance of power a bit more complex, but doesn't totally upend it.
     No assault rifle training for Infiltrator Shepard 
  • There are five snipers you encounter in all of the trilogy - Ashley, Garrus, Legion, Thane and Zaeed. Other than Thane who is more like a mob hit man than a soldier, all of the other snipers can use assault rifles. In 3 Shepard can use any weapon but it seems odd to me in the first two games that only a soldier Shepard who snipes can use assault rifles. The infiltrator by default is woefully bad with an assault rifle. How can a military sniper attain that skill while being such a poor shot with an assault rifle? Makes absolutely no sense, when you consider that Garrus and Legion who are also infiltrators in the traditional tech/combat hybrid sense are proficient with assault rifles. In Real Life snipers have to qualify as above average Expert with assault rifles and be designated marksmen in their squads before they can become eligible for sniper training. Why that logic is eschewed here is truly head scratching.
    • To be quite blunt, its game balance. Soldier Shepard's entire specialization is that s/he can use all guns equally well. The Infiltrator sacrifices assault rifle training for tech powers, which are among the most useful utility abilities. If it really does bother you that an Infiltrator has no assault rifle training, then you can just unlock the option during character creation by completing the associated assault rifle achievement.
    • Also, remember that this is the Alliance Military. Perhaps they've differentiate the training. EG, Infiltrators are selected early on, either voluntarily or due to exceptional marks, and are trained entirely in cyberwarfare and marksmanship. Alenko notes that he was specifically shipped off to a dedicated installation, as are Jack's students. Maybe the Alliance simply specializes immediately.
      • A rifle is a rifle is a rifle. To fire an assault rifle accurately requires the same breath control and aiming biomechanics to compensate for kickback you will need to fire a sniper rifle accurately. Sniper rifles are just higher powered single shot versions of assault rifles. Even if the Alliance shuttled someone into sniper school from the start, that person would easily be able to accurately fire assault rifles as well.
      • A modern rifle is a rifle is a rifle is a rifle, true. But Mass Effect sniper rifles and assault rifles are vastly removed from that in terms of sheer technological sophistication. Remember that a mass accelerator rifle uses advanced computers to shave off, shape, and accelerate rounds off of blocks of mass to accurately hit targets; it is entirely possible that a mass accelerator sniper rifle and a mass accelerator automatic rifle require distinctly different technical expertise to operate because of that level of sophistication. In this case, it would be less like saying a rifle is a rifle is a rifle and more like saying a Jeep is a tank is a hovercraft. Shepard might be able to fire the weapon but Shepard doesn't necessarily have the understanding of the software and technology inherent to that class of weapon to be able to operate it effectively.
    • In universe it's likely Shepard has training in all the available weapons and the restrictions are simply them choosing not to use certain guns in certain scenarios. Why carry around heavy, useless guns you're never going to use? Infiltrator Shepard is clearly prepared for long range combat, leaving mid to close range combat for their allies.

     Thermal clips for sniper rifles 
  • Thermal clips are intended to mitigate weapon cool down so that a high rate of fire can be maintained almost uninterrupted. And that makes sense for assault rifles, pistols and submachine guns, which you fire and keep firing in order to bring someone down. It makes sense for shotguns too, since the shotgun is being used for Close Quarters Combat where if you don't take down the clump of enemies you charged into, quickly, they will focus fire and kill you. However, the sniper is a long range One-Hit Kill specialist. Firing one shot and letting the weapon cool down is perfectly fine with them, since it normally takes time to properly line up the next target for a Boom, Headshot!. And since they are at range, they don't have to worry about maintaining fire on an enemy to keep him from killing you. So, there should be absolutely no reason why rifles like the Mantis or Widow should need thermal clips.
    • Heat management. Not to speed up fire rate, but to enable the weapon to fire more powerful shots without damaging the weapon. We know that the entire reason why the weapon shuts down when it overheats is to prevent damage to the weapon, and we also know that more powerful ammunition types such as high-explosive or hammerhead rounds generate far more heat. An ejectable heat sink would actually be a good way to get around the heat-based limitations on muzzle velocity and ammunition type. Instead of firing a single shot whose effectiveness plateaus because it generates too much heat and could damage the gun, you can instead increase the power of the shot and dump that waste heat into an immediately-ejected thermal clip to carry the heat away from the rifle's sensitive innards. We know that post-thermal clip sniper rifles are often much more effective at damaging targets compared to pre-thermal clip weapons that weren't loaded with high-explosive or specialized anti-organic or anti-synthetic rounds.
     Grenades in the first, but not in the second 
  • The grenades are awful in the first game because you never find a situation to use them (cool though they are) aside from the end of Feros. Aside from then, you're either in the Mako, wasting mooks at distance, or using powers at close range. In the second game, there's a bunch of situations where those grenades would have been worth their weight in gold. Why the change? (In the third, they do come back as a perfectly serviceable power.)
    • Inferno and flashbang grenades are a thing. Shepard deploys them like hand grenades. The more explosive powers like Incinerate and Overload are also deployed like direct, line-of-sight grenades as well. Also, don't forget the first heavy weapon you get is a RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) launcher.
     Shepard's armor 
  • Just what is Shepard's armor made of? In Mass Effect 3, partially survives a glancing blow from a Reaper beam. A direct hit from that beam can slice an Alliance Crusier in two, and Shep's armor just melts from a glancing blow by this same weapon? To be fair, most of it melted away, still, what is it made from?
    • According to the codex, fabric armor over kinetic padding, underneath extremely durable ablative ceramic.

     Elcor Eating 
  • They don't have mouths, how do they eat?
    • The do have mouths, they're just weirdly shaped.
    • They're probably filter-feeders like baleen whales, since that's pretty much all a mouth like that would be good for.

     The Cipher and the Council 
  • If Shepard can receive information about the cipher from Shiala on Feros, and pass that information to Liara, why can they not give it to the Asari councilor, who could then pass it to the rest of the council? It would convince them without a doubt that the Reapers are real and are on their way. While the general sense of Head-in-the-Sand Management might still be a problem, they could at least not claim Shepard was wrong.
    • This question has been asked often. The simple answer is that no asari but Liara has studied the Protheans to such a degreethat they would actually be able to understand what Shepard picked up from the Beacons. If Tevos was to try to synch up with Shepard to read his/her mind, all she would get is nonsense gibberish.
      • Then just have Liara participate in the meld. If she could help make sense of the beacon's message for Shepard, there's no reason she couldn't do the same for the Council.
      • Except that would mean nothing. Liara is the one who could interpret what the beacon's message contained. Tevos would still have virtually no idea what any of the context surrounding it would mean, and by the time you're at the point where you can personally report to the Council about Liara's findings, with actionable information about where Illos is, the Council and the Alliance have already grounded Shepard and will not be willing to listen any further.

     Lack of a Southpaw option for Shepard and Ryder 
  • Admittedly, I don't know exactly how common being left-handed actually is. However, does it strike anyone else as odd that Bioware didn't give us the option to make our respective avatar such? I happen to be left-handed in most aspects myself (broke my left arm right before I started writing and using a computer, but in all other areas I'm at least functionally ambidextrous) and was wondering why the option isn't there.
    • To create a left handed option is a lot of work for a very small benefit. If we go whole hog and make Shepard truly left handed, that means creating animations for everything. Shepard does a lot of reaching, grabbing, touching, gestures, etc, both in and out of cut scenes; To create a left handed Shepard would necessitate making twice as many cut scenes and animations. That would rapidly bloat the game to an absurd degree, and require twice as much work spent on animations. Not all that feasible for a tiny benefit.

    Asari Biology 
  • It is established and solidly reinforced throughout the series that Asari are not only able but culturally required to mate with individuals of other species to produce offspring, which are always asari but sometimes bear features of the other parent. The cultural requirement comes in with the fact that asari/asari pairings increase the likelihood of Ardat-Yakshi, a mutation that causes the asari to kill her sexual partners. This seems to be a pretty specific genetic quirk for an entire species to have, and not exactly one conducive to the continuation of said species. This raises the question of whether asari developed in the company of other sapient species without exception, or if the Ardat-Yakshi mutation is simply a more extreme form of inbreeding-related insanity.
    • Ardat-Yakshi is just an extreme mutation resulting from asari biology. We know as of Mass Effect 3 that the asari have a "spectrum" of Ardat-Yakshi mutations and that most people who fall on the spectrum are perfectly functional asari who won't kill their partners. The majority of asari pureblood births don't result in anyone even falling on the Ardat-Yakshi spectrum at all.
    • We have Real Life species of lizards and fish that are all-female and need males from other species to mate. Of course, they mate within the same genus and from life forms of the same planet, but that's a whole different can of worms. In any case, IIRC asari can reproduce by parthenogenesis if no male is available.
  • I have a question that's been bugging me since day 1: can the Asari breed with animals?
    • Probably, with the way asari reproduction works they can likely trigger their reproductive abilities with anything alive enough to mind meld with.
    • The Asari were partially uplifted by the Protheans, up to and including giving them biotic abilities. Seeing how Asari reproduction is deeply linked with said biotics, it's clear that they used to reproduce in more conventional ways before they got genetically changed by an already-spacefaring civilization, who primed them to adapt really well to interstellar life. The Ardat-Yakshi mutation was probably either an unintended side effect (but not catastrophic enough to keep them from surviving only with Asari matings until they developed space travel), or developed naturally over time when the Protheans stopped meddling with their genetics.

    Huge Guns 
  • Why are guns in the Mass Effect universe so enormous? Aside from shotguns and maybe SMGs, every gun seems to be several times larger than its (for lack of a better term) real-world counterpart. Even the smallest pistol is roughly the size of a Desert Eagle. And yes, I know that these are magic sci-fi guns and they don't have to conform to real-world gun aesthetics. I'm not an idiot. But my question is why did the developers choose to make the guns so big? They could have made the guns as big or as small as they wanted, but they went with big.
    • Because bigger guns are visually distinctive and have a stronger appeal to players, particularly pistols. This is a no-brainer, really.
    • Except there are plenty of other scifi games with more reasonably-sized pistols. And I strongly contest the idea that big guns have a stronger appeal. The handguns in particular look ridiculous.
    • That's an entirely subjective opinion, and it doesn't really fit with market demographics. Larger weapons do in fact have a stronger appeal; one merely has to look at real-life gun advertisements to see why. The entire appeal behind "tacticool" weapon attachments to the civilian gun owner market is not that they're practical, but they make the weapon larger and more impressive. Larger, longer, and heavier guns do sell better, for obvious reasons. And for similar reasons, Shepard is wielding a large, heavy pistol on the covers from both the second and third Mass Effect games.
    • The Mass Effect universe is explicitly inspired by the Sci-Fi operas of the 1980's. Among other tropes, Our Weapons Will Be Boxy in the Future was included.
    • In-universe, almost every weapon is a railgun, and the fact that they are man-portable is incredible. Every single weapon needs to house the coils , the power supply, the ammo block, the targeting computers, the thermal clip system, and all the other parts that also need to be spaced out far enough so they won't overheat when firing, so the size isn't too implausible. Besides, almost every weapon sold is reaching a market of dozens of species, with different physiologies requiring accessibility considerations, like the extended trigger guards or tall iron sights.
    • And I guess there's an in-universe Headscratcher in here too. Are there no small, concealable handguns in the ME universe? I can't imagine anyone stuffing a Carnifex down the back of their pants.
    • Most guns can collapse down to a very small size. Carnifex pistols aren't intended for concealed use, but many weapons, particularly submachine guns, can collapse into much smaller shapes. In the first ME novel, for example, Anderson is able to sneak an assault rifle into a guarded refinery by collapsing it and wrapping it in a towel.
    • In addition, while bulky, many Assault Rifles are actually carbine-length rather than full-length rifles; comparable to the M4 carbine rather than the M16 rifle. Both designs used in ME1 are also ones that couldn't possibly be bullpup-format, as are some of the designs from MEA (the X5 Ghost and Sandstorm being prime examples).
  • The Predator Heavy Pistol, a decent weapon in its own right, is about the size of modern day guns, if a little boxy. The potential unwieldiness is compensated by the advanced materials.
    • All of the pistols are labeled "Heavy Pistols." Heavy pistols. The pistols available are military-grade or above, so they need to have the large electric coils, power supply, and ammo block of something that's able to punch through the advanced armor of the 23rd century. It's incredibly probable that there are smaller "holdout" or personal defense pistols, but because they would be designed for unarmored targets in emergencies and probably don't even use mass effect technology, they aren't practical enough for Shepard to bring them into combat.
      • Indeed, the M-11 Suppressor, one of the smallest gun designs in the series, is particularly noted for packing a heavy punch for a weapon of its size after Shepard collects it from the Cat-6 mercenaries. So the existence of smaller but weaker holdout weapons that aren't ever shown in the game proper is certainly not unreasonable.
      • On a personal note, I tend to like to assume that the weapon that Shepard uses in the Destroy ending of the third game is one of these holdout guns that, for game design reasons, just uses the skin of a Carnifex pistol. Explains where it comes from if Shepard goes into the final battle without one, at any rate...

     So... biotics 
  • On paper biotics are one of the best-thought-out ways of having telekinesis in a hard sci-fi setting. You change the relative mass of objects, they therefore get lighter or heavier. So how does it extend to so many other powers, like Reave (sucking out the life force) or Dominate (apparently dazing people with mind control)? For that matter, shouldn't biotics be able to, I don't know, change the gravity currents around an object to distort light and make it invisible? Or cancel their own relative mass entirely an turn intangible?
    • I think that Reave is less about sucking out life force and more as a sort of feedback loop from using the powers. You create a biotic field to hurt the enemy but at the same time the way you're manipulating the element zero nodes in your body reduces pain. It should be noted that only asari on the Ardat-Yakshi spectrum seem to be able to do this (and Kaidan, but when he brings it up in Citadel everyone considers it bullshit). Gravitic lensing probably requires far too fine a control over gravity and mass to render an object invisible (not to mention requiring an absurd amount of gravity to begin with to control light), and completely canceling your mass to make you intangible would just make your entire body dissipate completely, since there wouldn't be anything holding you together anymore.
      • That's only because he'd previously only been able to use basic biotic abilities. Since biotics don't get stronger over time (aside from an actively feeding ardat-yakshi) it's very unusual for an established biotic to suddenly be able to use much more advanced abilities. Kaidan only manages it because he wasn't trained to use his full potential so there was room to improve, most biotics learn everything they can right away.

     Light years and history 
  • So the Protheans died out 50,000 years ago, and now researchers such as Liara are trying to learn all they can from their ruins, beacons, etc. The thing is, the Milky Way is larger than 50,000 light years across. Why can't Liara, or anyone else, hop into a ship, jump 50,000 light years away from a star system with Prothean ruins, and look through a high-powered telescope or something to actually observe them? They might have even gotten some hard evidence about the reapers that way if they happened to be the right distance away to see something from the right time frame. People could also do research about the Rachni, or the Geth/Quarian Morning War, or any sort of historical event observable from space. One might argue that they don't have any telescopes that powerful, but if the Andromeda initiative is able to pick out planetary details from Andromeda (which is 2.7 million light years away) then they clearly have technology to pick out something only a few thousand light years away.
    • The telescope used by the Andromeda Initiative was made by the Geth using a trio of Mass Relays and some sort of Reaper tech, which the Initiative briefly managed to co-opt. It's quite clearly not a normal telescope available to the Citadel Species.
    • The most advanced telescope used by the Citadel races was a multi-system set of sensors that was used to map star systems in the Terminus. The Andromeda Initiative's telescope was geth tech that they can't replicate. More importantly, light scatters over great distances and makes it very hard to measure precise details of objects and events that are far away. You can't just point a telescope at something thousands of light years away to observe ancient events, since the light will have scattered too much to make out complex or precise details. We can determine general details, i.e. that a planet or star is at X location, it's orbital period is Y, it's type is Z, and careful analysis of the light and orbital pattern and gravity behavior we get off of it can reveal useful spectrographic information regarding elemental composition, atmosphere, etc. But at a distance of thousands or tens of thousands of light years, it's impossible to make out complex and fine details like space battles or starships. The light has scattered too much.

     Citadel cityscape 
  • In all three games, whenever we visit the Citadel, we can see each of the 5 arms is covered in what appears to be a rather extensive and impressive “Manhattan-esque” cityscape. Is it ever established who built these skyscrapers on the Citadel? Were they built by the Protheans? Or by a preceding cycle? Or were they built by the races of this cycle (Asari / Turians / Salarians / etc.)? The architecture of these skyscrapers doesn’t look like any Prothean architecture we've seen elsewhere in the games, and I don't think a skyscraper would last 50,000 years without regular maintenance (unless the Keepers were the ones maintaining it).
    • The Keepers likely built it.

     What Happened to the Internet? 
  • In the 21st century, internet is a critical part of our daily lives. We use it for all sorts of things from work to school to categorizing common occurrences in media. I find it hard to believe that changed between now and 2148 when Humanity discovered the Mass Relays and the wider galaxy. Presumably soon afterwards (probably after the whole Human v Turian thing was sorted out) we switched to using the Extranet that the rest of the galaxy uses for obvious reasons. But then what happened to the internet? Did we somehow combine it with the Extranet or did we just abandon it all together and some poor sap had to rebuild TV Tropes from scratch?
    • Judging by how everyone never even mentions the internet, I would guess they combined it with the Extranet. The Shadow Broker's files show that it basically functions the same (except it seems you can download it in massive packets of data for personal viewing later) considering we have Anderson casually ordering videos and alcohol like we would today. Or how Grunt basically goes on a Wiki Walk that lands him on dinosaurs.

     Normandy Interior Size Relative to Exterior 
  • In other words, is the Normandy bigger on the inside than the outside? While I'm willing to believe that the SR1's interior could maybe fit inside the ship, the interior of the SR2 seems much bigger than the ship appears from the outside.
    • Videogame interiors rarely match their exterior proportions.

Alternative Title(s): Mass Effect Fridge Logic