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The Marathon Expanded Universe is an informal term we're using to refer to Game Mods for Bungie's Marathon series made by its fan community. We have a bit more reasoning here for this than there would be for many fan creations, though: the company behind the original work has explicitly encouraged said creations, and the final game in the series, Marathon Infinity, makes it plain that the game's setting contains numerous alternate timelines.

We should clarify immediately that these mods usually weren't constructed as being part of a single unified work (although several mods contain allusions to others, and a few are direct prequels or sequels), but we've reasoned that while few people would bother to read dozens of pages for different mods, they might be willing to read a page for all of the community's mods collectively.

In any case, Bungie released its landmark first-person shooter Marathon in 1994, followed by Marathon 2: Durandal (the best-known game in the series) in 1995 and Marathon Infinity in 1996. But with Marathon Infinity came Bungie's in-house editors Forge and Anvil, so the story of the games, for those willing to follow along, by no means stops there: the next chapters have been written by the fans. This could, in fact, be inferred from Infinity's ending, which directly addresses the player and states: "You are Destiny."

In any case, fans of the games have made a colossal amount of mods (in fact, they didn't wait for Forge and Anvil; they started almost immediately after the first game was released). Content covering those mods used to be found at the bottom of Marathon's own page, but we've finally given them their own page.note 

The Marathon community frequently refers to mods as "scenarios"; a "total conversion" is a scenario that incorporates custom shapes, sounds, enemies, weapons, and other content that differs from the vanilla game files, while a "partial conversion" incorporates some of those.

Links to nine of the most popular fan scenarios can be found on Lhowon.org's scenarios page; a few others include Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge and Pfh'Joueur. Various other mods, enhancements and maps are available here (newer; backup archive is here), here or here (older), or here (oldest). For those willing to go down the emulation route (which is also necessary to run some of those old files), Macintosh Garden also has the Trilogy Box Set's Definitive Map Collection, which contains around a thousand add-ons for the games. If you find yourself stuck, you can find completions of many of the mods on YouTubenote . A massive number of terminals, maps, and even flowcharts showing how levels connect can be found here.

For those interested in mapping for Aleph One, meanwhile, the codirector of Eternal has put together a set of mapping tips that may help, including a brief setup guide for Weland, the primary program now used for mapping.

    open/close all folders 
    The biggest or most historically important scenarios include: 
  • Trojan: The last major mod for the original Marathon, it is set eighty years after the end of the Human-Pfhor War, and Human space became a corporate-run dystopia where mega-corporations wage both covert and overt wars on each other. You are a Marine in an employ of one such corporation, stationed on the backwater Company Town Colony of Troy when suddenly unknown aliens warp out of nowhere and invade the colony, and the situation is made more complicated with the arrival of a rival corp seeking to take advantage of the mess, and it will get even more so with the Rampant AIs going on the loose and secrets getting revealed.

  • Evil: The first major total conversion for Marathon Infinity, headed by Randall Shaw (also known by his moniker FrigidMan), who created the Vidmaster's Challenge secret levels for Infinity. It is a loose sequel to Shaw's Marathon 2 scenario Siege of Nor'Korh, though it isn't necessary to have played Siege to understand Evil. This scenario goes off in something of a horror direction, with some absolutely terrifying monsters. The level design was fairly innovative for the time, and the game has received particular acclaim for its monsters, weapons, and sounds. However, as it lacks an HD release, it may seem rather dated compared to some subsequent scenarios; it's often regarded as unnecessarily difficult on higher difficulty settings (ammo scarcity has been a recurring complaint); and its plot can be charitably described as an Excuse Plot.
  • Tempus Irae: Arguably the second major total conversion for Infinity, headed by Chris Borowiec (Borzz) and James Hastings-Trew. After Infinity, the player winds up in the service of the S'pht, who travel back to Renaissance Italy in an attempt to recover some manuscripts from Leonardo da Vinci. The Pfhor inevitably follow them and it is up to the player to stop them. This scenario contains some absolutely beautiful graphics and map design, and it also contains some superb sounds. There was also a sequel of sorts called Tempus Irae 2: The Lost Levels, which had a more fragmentary approach to its storytelling. The 2006 Aleph One re-release contains updated high-resolution graphics.

    A second re-release, titled Tempus Irae Redux, has been in development since April 2020. Features include higher-resolution graphics with glow and parallax mapping, new and remastered sounds (many in stereo), overhauls to levels designed to fix several recurring complaints, a new secret level, a soundtrack, and more; a playlist containing development videos from Redux can be found here, with "Gates of Delirium", "Ameseno, Italy" (extensive revisions of existing levels) and "Il grande silenzio" (the new secret level; Italian for The Great Silence) perhaps being good starting places. (The last video also contains "Mt. Vesuvius" and "I Can Feel It", two other levels that received major revisions.) Redux will feature all 37 solo levels of the original Tempus Iraenote , all 12 solo levels of Tempus Irae 2: The Lost Levelsnote , two new solo levelsnote , all 20 net maps that shipped with Tempus Irae, and all 12 net maps that shipped with The Lost Levels; since two pairs of levels have been combined, this makes for a total of 49 solo levels, 32 net levels, and 81 levels total. As of early September 2022, the creators tentatively estimate that it may be ready to open to testers as early as late September or early October 2022.
  • Red: A survival horror-esque total conversion created primarily by Ian McConville, who is also the creator of the webcomics Mac Hall and Three Panel Soul; it follows mercenaries Paco and Ian as they struggle against a pair of eldritch commanders, one of whom is watching Paco very closely. This scenario has received particular acclaim for its atmosphere and monsters, though it is often regarded as being unfairly difficult. Don't feel ashamed if you have to turn the difficulty setting down below your usual level to finish it. It has been completed on the hardest difficulty setting (renamed to "Death Wish" in this game for obvious reasons), but it requires no small amount of skill and patience.
  • Eternal: An absolutely massive total conversion that has gone through a gigantic number of revisions throughout the years, this scenario involves the most head-spinning use of time travel, taking the player through several important points in the trilogy's backstory while also incorporating a strange, tragic romance inspired by one of the terminals in Marathon 2's "Kill Your Television". The game features an intricate, literate, and philosophical story with subtle political symbolism; it also contains some absolutely colossal, often beautiful levels and is probably the most time-consuming scenario to complete.note  The scenario also contains all-new textures, weapons, and monsters, many with incredible detail; an atmospheric, acclaimed soundtrack; and numerous clever call-backs to the original trilogy. Eternal was created by a massive team named the Xeventh Project; Forrest Cameranesi (Pfhorrest) is the project founder, served as sole director through version 1.2.0 (which re-balanced the game difficultynote , fixed several annoying aspects of previous versions of the game, completely overhauled the graphics, and expanded several levels), and continues to co-direct subsequent releases.

    The most recent official release is currently 1.2.1, released in early November 2021.note  Its biggest changes include a fix to a nasty crash on the 32-bit Windows build of Aleph One, completely remastered sounds, new sounds, faster loading times, gameplay refinements to a few levels, and several fixes to potential game locks.

    The game is still under development; the team hopes to have an official 1.3 release ready in 2023 featuring many more additions, including updated weapons, a massively expanded soundtrack (which now runs for over six hours), new monster spritesnote , a complete remake of the Pfhor texture set, significant changes to other textures, new landscapes, an expanded and rewritten story, new characters, refinements to existing characters, a new final boss fight, several partially or completely remade levels, major changes to the structure of the game's third chapter (including a new level of sorts), a new secret tracker, additional enhancements and additions to level design, CD-quality stereo remixes of many sounds from their sources, massive amounts of new terminal art, and more. The fifth preview of 1.3 (which is still very much a work in progress) is available as of February 2023 (as is a link to a Dropbox folder containing the latest development files, when those differ from the most recent preview build). 1.4 or 2.0 releases may still follow 1.3.
  • Rubicon: If you hear any fan game referred to as Marathon 4, it'll probably be this one.note  This scenario features two different timelines (three in the more commonly available X re-release) and an absolutely massive number of levels, meaning that you'll have to play it at least three times if you want to see everything. The story is generally felt to have recaptured the feeling of the original games more closely than any other total conversion's has; it helps that there is a dream story that's essentially a direct continuation of Infinity's. There are a massive number of new monsters, textures, and weapons, plus some of the most disorienting levels that the engine has ever seen, and you will experience a Mind Screw at least once. Also, it's frequently gorgeous. Rubicon was created by several people, but D. Scott Brown and Chris Lund contributed the biggest portion of the work.

    There have been a few different releases of Rubicon over the years. The original version ran on a slightly modified version of the Infinity app. Because some of these modifications weren't reproduced in Aleph One, the creators made a Rubicon AO Light version that included the modifications and made it possible to load resources such as terminal images on other operating systems besides the Macintosh. This was supplanted by Rubicon X, a re-release that added high-definition graphics, reshuffled some textures, added several new levels and an entirely new story branch, completely overhauled several other levels ("Not *This* Again..."note , "Core Wars"note , and all eleven "Rozinante" levels), and made further modifications of varying sizes to several other levels. This is the most commonly seen version today, though many of the Vid films used the original release.

    If Rubicon has any weakness, it's that the game balance is often outright unfair, with the game's monster physics being an especially common point of criticism. As an example, Lookers in Rubicon deal upwards of 1x shields' worth of damage to the player on Normal and above. They also commonly appear in swamps, where players can't even see them, much less shoot them. Hardly anyone would blame players for turning the difficulty down. The fact that Rubicon is still so highly regarded despite this speaks to the power of its storytelling and environment design.

    Rubicon X was released for a very old version of the engine and hasn't been updated since. When it was released, the limits on the number of active monsters were much higher than they are now (they've been lowered to match the vanilla Marathon 2/Infinity limits), and the engine didn't have bloom; as a result, the bloom in the game now defaults to overpoweringly high levels. A fan has gone to the effort of creating a plugin to address these issues.
  • Phoenix: Primarily the work of creator RyokoTK, this scenario is typically agreed to contain the most intricate architecture and best level design of any completed Marathon scenario, plus some of the fastest-paced (and best designed) combat and a large number of cool new weapons. It's also Nintendo Hard, but unlike some other examples, it rarely if ever relies on Fake Difficulty; as such, it's often cited as an example of a hard scenario done well. The only major drawback is that there are no HD graphics, though a future re-release incorporating them hasn't been ruled out. If players are interested in playing both Phoenix and Rubicon, they're perhaps best advised to play the latter first, as one specific moment in Phoenix's story assumes familiarity with Rubicon (which was released first) and loses much of its power without that knowledge. (The converse argument for playing Phoenix first - which can't really be explained without spoiling Phoenix - is that it's a prequel to Rubicon, and thus first chronologically - but the converse argument to this is that the realisation that Phoenix is a prequel to Rubicon is part of what makes Phoenix's ending so powerful. In either case, they are perhaps most powerful if played in close succession.)

    Ryoko has also provided some quite candid YouTube commentary for the first thirty-five levels of the game, which is a copious source of Word of God about the scenario. (This commentary was for an older release that didn't include the secret levels "Gateway to Audacity" through "Artemis Anomaly"; they were meant to be a project called Thunderstorm before Ryoko abandoned it and stuck them in version 1.3 as secrets accessible from "Swan Song". Later releases also address some of his self-criticisms, like "Escape Two Thousand"'s combat.) The most recent release as of January 2023 is 1.4.1, a minor bug fix; 1.4, released the previous year, added features like a map overlay that provides game and level stats, a remastered soundtrack, ammo limits on Total Carnage, a new skull obtained by killing all monsters on a level, a secret for hardcore players that strips the player's arsenal to the starting pistol after each level (Phoenix was balanced so that players of sufficient skill could feasibly complete Total Carnage pistol starts without resorting to fists), and gameplay rebalance for certain levels (the aforementioned "Escape Two Thousand", which had been a common source of complaints, being perhaps the most notable). 1.4.1 is planned as the final word on this incarnation of Phoenix; the next release, not expected until at least 2024, is planned to be a major overhaul that will replace several levels outright and add major new secrets to others.

    Phoenix also has a short sequel entitled Kindred Spirits (played in Aleph One using Marathon Infinity with the Previous AI plugin), which is of equal quality, and a predecessor called The Gray Incident, which has a similar story but completely different levels; Ryoko claims the latter is "not very good", but it's otherwise almost as highly regarded as Phoenix, though very, very difficult. He's also the director of Kill Them All, a community project themed around combat-heavy levels with small polygon counts (which also requires Previous AI). And that's not even all, as Ryoko is probably the most prolific creator of net maps in the game's history (see below); Starlight alone has 50 maps.
  • Mararthon Yuge: (Yes, Mararthon.) A scenario showing off the wonders of procedural generation created in a grand total of three months. A number of (human) map creators put together "Yugeparts" that were then placed into a (computer) map generator that places them together in such a way that is possible for players to traverse the whole level, then randomly places weapons, monsters, and health recharges. The levels are often nonlinear, but the placement of teleporters minimises the amount of backtracking players are required to do. The player's objective is to recover a number of "failstaches" on each level (with two exceptions). The main scenario contains thirty massive levels, of which the final one, "Enter the DOUCHE", is an exception to the scenario's usual conceit; it was designed by a single human creator, Windbreaker. There are also 226 secret levels, which in turn contain links to further expansions for the game with levels collectively numbering in the thousands.

    This scenario largely dispenses with plot (there is one, but it is full of so many in-jokes as to be incomprehensible to people unfamiliar with Marathon community drama) in favour of combat and exploration. It's a lot of fun. Wrkncacnter was the project developer; nine creators contributed Yugeparts, with Windbreaker (130), RyokoTK (100), and Sankara (50) contributing the largest numbers. There are also expansions containing literally thousands of levels between them, some of which may be found here and here, and there was also an immediate predecessor in YugePax, a collection of ten thousand net maps.
  • Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge: Another game that has been through an absolutely massive number of revisions, this one went from being a Marathon 1 scenario under the 1.0 release to a Marathon Infinity scenario under the 2.0 release to an Aleph One scenario under the 3.0 release. (Unfortunately, because of changes to the way the engine handles scripting, the 3.0 release does not function correctly under recent versions of Aleph One. This may be fixed in a future release of Aleph One.) This scenario is a sequel to Devil in a Blue Dress, a Marathon 1/2 scenario that has no plot connections to the Marathon universe, and it features time travel taking the player from a futuristic setting to Camelot (hence the name) and the Jurassic period. The soundtrack has also received a fair bit of acclaim and is available on iTunes. Unfortunately, the website for the project is currently defunct; the link above is to the SourceForge release.
  • Pfh'Joueur: An atmospheric total conversion primarily created by the late Candace Sheriff (Shebob) with some superb sounds and graphics (though unfortunately lacking an HD release) and clever, often surreal map design. It's fairly short and not particularly difficult, but it's quite memorable and a lot of fun to explore, and even without any HD graphics, it's still beautiful.
  • Apotheosis: The player crash-lands on a planet known as Fenris, where the AI Noah undergoes a transformation at the hands of a race known only as the Angels. Can he (and they) be trusted? Meanwhile, it falls to the player to prevent the Pfhor from using a terrible weapon to bring humanity to doom. (Note that Apotheosis' player character is not Bungie's canon Security Officer but another cyborg of similar ability.)

    An atmospheric and often terrifying total conversion of extremely high quality. The first release, which can be found on Simplici7y, was only about 97% finished, but only occasionally has the Obvious Beta elements commonly associated with unfinished mods. One of the original creators began rebuilding the game almost from scratch in 2020. A recent preview of this is available on YouTube, and an older, heavily WIP (with broken physics, weapon sprites, and HUD; placeholder sounds; and miscellaneous level bugs) but nonetheless quite impressive preview can be found on YouTube. The remade Apotheosis X was released on September 30, 2022. Version 1.1 was released on January 12, 2023; it features some bug fixes, adjustments to game balance, additional save terminals, enhancements to sound effects, and a new manual.
  • Aleph One: Pathways into Darkness: Exactly What It Says on the Tin: A surprisingly faithful port of Bungie's precursor to Marathon to the Aleph One engine. This is the only way to play it on Windows or Linux without breaking out the emulators. This was mostly done by Wrkncacnter (who's also the main person behind Yuge). Available on Simplici7y. Make sure to read the readme before playing this. There are also optional remastered sounds and AI upscaled graphics.

Several other ambitious scenarios remain in development today, some after literal decades of development. Marathon has a small but devoted modding community, in part because Bungie's decision to release their editors as part of the Infinity package made modding the game very easy to pick up. Though those editors are not in common usage today, the third-party applications that have supplanted them reproduce most of the same functionality and have almost identical interfaces.

    Network Maps (and ways to play them as solo maps) 
Players new to Marathon net play may also wish to familiarise themselves with the most frequently hosted net maps, since knowing their layout and the secrets they contain (if any) can provide a significant advantage. Many veteran players don't much care for the stock maps overall, due to their comparative lack of ammo and weaponry, as a result, some of the most frequently hosted packs include:

  • Coriolis Loop: a collection of maps from Double Aught Software (the makers of Marathon Infinity); often considered official in all but name, and many of these are more highly regarded than any of the stock maps except perhaps "Duality".
  • Red Spectrum by RyokoTK (see also Phoenix and Yuge above); most recent release 2007-06-20, featuring about 30 maps.
  • Second Quest by RyokoTK, screamingfool, Kinetic Turtle, Irons, treellama; most recent release 2008-01-08, featuring 29 maps. A collection of remakes of the stock Infinity maps, plus a few maps from Marathon 2 and Coriolis Loop. ("Y.A.F.N.M." probably counts as an In Name Only remake, as the original is not widely liked.)
  • Caustic Dystopia by windbreaker (see also Yuge above); most recent release 2012-12-31, featuring 24 maps.
  • Infra Apogee by windbreaker; most recent release 2015-12-30, featuring 20 maps.
  • Paradise Lost by RyokoTK; most recent release 2015-02-16, featuring 36 maps.
  • Imperium by windbreaker; most recent release 2020-10-20, featuring 20 maps.
  • Starlight by RyokoTK; most recent release 2021-02-07, featuring a whopping 50 maps.

For players unable or disinclined to play network games, scripts such as Single Player Network Game and multiple implementations of Survival (a mode from the Xbox Live Arcade remake of Marathon 2) may make the above maps more interesting to play as solo games (to play a specific level, press Ctrl+Shift+N or Ctrl+Shift+New Game on Windows or Linux, or Command+Option+N or Command+Option+New Game on a Mac). Some of the Survival scripts can also be hosted as network games (simply select them as a network script when creating a new game).

(Tropes for the mods have not been sorted by mod; some enterprising individual may wish to fix that in the future.)

Tropes

    Tropes A 

  • Abusive Precursors: In Apotheosis The Angels have a similar backstory to the S'pht, but with a darker outcome: They were uplifted by Yrro and Pthia, who then left, and the Angels dutifully maintained and expanded their works. But then Yrro returned, alone and changed by Pthia's death, and devastated them for reasons the Angels could not fathom, sowing the deep-seated hatred for their forefather in the process that drives the events of the mod. This is told by a merged Noah/Angel being via the Bible passage-like terminals reminiscent of the Book of Genesis, on the map called The Salt Pile with the soundtrack named Gomorrah, so Yrro might've or might've not a good reason for his actions, but try telling the Angels that.
  • Actually a Doombot: In Rubicon Tycho says hi, saying that the Tycho that Durandal killed back on Lh'owon was a copy.
  • Affectionate Parody: A terminal being added to Eternal 1.3 for the level "This Message Will Self-Destruct" is one of H. P. Lovecraft, as said in almost exactly those words by its co-author in the description for a preview video here. (The terminal text has also been posted in its entirety as a comment to the video.) Notably, the Lovecraft pastiche extends to using his archaic spellings such as "shewn", "daemoniac", "aeons", and, well, "aeternal". The first sentence is also a verbatim quote from Lovecraft's most famous story, "The Call of Cthulhu" (and the ending returns to many of the same themes).
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: In true Marathon fashion; it'd be faster to list the mods whose AIs don't go Rampant at some point. To name a few who do:
    • Lysander (Rubicon) is incredibly suspicious right off the bat, and stops pretending to like the SO fairly quickly. It's not until "Core Wars" does it become apparent just how terrifyingly unhinged his abuse at the hands of the Dangi Corp has left him; the way he describes his plan to the SO, and how the Dangi Corp. used him as a tool for his entire life, makes it clear that Lysander snapped a long time ago and has only now found the proverbial gun. On the other hand, Tycho has become surprisingly benevolent towards humanity as a whole, particularly in Rubicon X. He still has it out for Durandal, but if the player chooses to side with him, he (if taken at his word) wants the Achilles virus completely destroyed, along with all knowledge of its existence. This does necessitate the slaughter of any Dangi employees with knowledge of virus, but the ending of this plank of the game indicates that humanity retains no knowledge of what the Dangi Corp. was even working on at the Salinger station, suggesting that Tycho was probably being truthful and that all knowledge of the virus was completely destroyed. (Furthermore, the player seemingly reactivates Durandal at the end of the game, suggesting that his demise was not as final as Tycho thought.)
    • Balapoel (Fell) aids the Commander for a while, but eventually turns on them for his own reasons.
    • Hermes (Gemini Station) acts as your mission control for a good while, but it's possible to find a terminal that lays out just how bitter and vengeful he is over his demilitarization. Towards the end, he attempts to trick the SO into murdering his human rival.
    • Wanda (An AI Called Wanda) is a Jjaro AI who was driven mad by the actions of the W'rkncacnter, went kill-crazy on her makers, and was sealed off for ten thousand years. Now that she's free, she'd like nothing more than to unite all organic sentients through the joys of brainwashing. From that same mod, there's Freud, who probably would have remained snarky-but-reasonably-nice had he not undergone an unwilling fusion with Tycho. On the plus side, your mission control Hobbes remains stable to the mod's end.
    • Flea (the Ka-co-kh series) reveals himself as a traitorous little insect early on, and the first half of the combined scenario involves the player character and Nagi chasing him down. The scenario also contains a subversion in Kyes, another AI who joins the protagonists; when you first meet him, he's malfunctioning and uncontrollably switching thought processes, but stabilizes after regaining his memories of his true identity, Gekitsuchi. He's also on your side the whole time, unlike Flea.
    • Vide (Forever, an old Japanese scenario and prequel to the above) abducts you for his own purposes not far into your original mission, taunting and threatening you the whole time. As your original partner, Gekitsuchi, eventually determines, he may also have the digital equivalent to Multiple Personality Disorder. Unfortunately, neither Gekitsuchi nor his fellow warrior Izanagi are all that helpful.
    • In Eternal, you encounter Tycho on the Marathon, and he's initially relatively normal and helpful. However, after you and he warp away to his future, he encounters one of the Pfhor's versions of him, and we probably don't have to summarise where this is going. In the same game, Hathor is also an example: she's converted into a disembodied intelligence after being (perhaps inadvertently) woken up when humanity wants to access her Cybernetic Junction. The results of this are... not remotely pretty for anyone.
    • In Pfh'Joueur, Pfh'Joueur himself suffers a protracted stress-induced breakdown at around the halfway point, to the point where he starts lashing out at Durandal. Luckily, after fusing with alien AI Tal'sen, he regains his senses.
    • In Yuge, what passes for a story is an obvious parody of the trope's enshrinement in Marathon lore, official and otherwise: A powerful AI named Olmec, upon whom humanity has become utterly dependent, was about to deliver a vital warning when it started babbling incomprehensibly as if it were, well, an online community. The player must find its lost 'failstaches', whose scattering seems to have caused the problem, although Olmec is so complex that nobody knows what 'failstaches' are or why they're so important. (For a parody, this is a surprisingly accurate depiction of an issue with neural networks - past a certain point, their internal workings become incomprehensible to humans. Then again, one of the primary developers of Yuge is a programmer by profession, so it figures.)
    • In Apotheosis, this is largely an Averted Trope - neither of your mission controls ever goes insane or evil throughout the course of the whole game, though Noah does start speaking in poetry after a few levels. In fact, one of them, Darya, sacrifices herself for the sake of humanity near the end of the game. That said, this is also effectively after she emerges on the losing end of a struggle with Noah, who has become the avatar of the Angels' consciousness. However, while Noah is quite wrathful towards the Jjaro (for perfectly understandable reasons - see Abusive Precursors above), he doesn't bear humanity any ill-will.
    • Discussed in The Classified 19. Zhang firmly believes in giving AIs "freedom of choice and freedom of sanity," citing Durandal by name as what happens when you treat sentient beings like machines. (Interestingly, Zhang mentions another AI, Hawkings, in the same breath as Durandal.) As such, his own creations, Brother and Sister, are remarkably well-adjusted compared to nearly every other AI, canon or no.
  • Alien Geometries:
    • In Eternal 1.2, the Marathon AI cores contain overlapping "5D" spacenote . This is an early forerunner of the Jjaro's reality-warping technologies, in addition to just looking cool.
      • 1.3 adds 5D space to the Cybernetic Junction room in "Dread Not"; in the preview release, these also contain floating rings and discs. The creators have mentioned that the floating rings/discs won't appear in the final release in this form, as the Aleph One developers have said the trick used to create them will break in the forthcoming ANGLE renderer.Mapmaking talk 
    • Some of the dream levels in Rubicon, befitting their being dreams, are full of all sorts of 5-D space. "We Dream You" and "Science Stands Alone" are two good examples.
  • all lowercase letters: Hathor's last several terminals in Eternal are written this way.
  • All the Worlds Are a Stage: In a later level of Excalibur, all three time periods are visited through a hub area.
  • Alternate Universe Fic/Continuation: Infinity heavily implies that the Security Officer is jumping between several timelines to get a Close-Enough Timeline and that the final result is not in the same universe as Marathon and Durandal. As a result, many of the fan-made scenarios play with this idea:
    • Tempus Irae and Phoenix are set after Infinity as the Security Officer and the S'pht fight in the Human-Pfhor War without Durandal. The ending of Phoenix can be read to make the scenario a missing link between Infinity and Rubicon; creator RyokoTK has confirmed that it is deliberately intended as a prequel to Rubicon. This is made even more obvious in the sequel Kindred Spirits, where the first level is literally called "Rozinante Zero" and uses the same architectural style as the Rozinante levels in Rubicon X.
    • Rubicon is set after Durandal instead of Infinity. Might be a specific case of Continuation if you accept some of the more flexible theories about what exactly happened in Infinity. The prologue added in Rubicon X, however, directly references an aftermath to Infinity, in that the members of Blake's team who got dropped off on Earth each had a different story of what happened. It then goes even further with the final terminal in that sequence, which is done in the style of the dream terminals from Infinity. That terminal ends with the words "All Roads Lead To...", calling back to "All Roads Lead to Sol", the final level of Durandal. Yeah, it's a Mind Screw sequence.
    • Eternal is set after Infinity, but diverges when S'bhuth and the rest of the S'pht go crazy before the war ends, tipping the scales in Pfhor favor. Well, sort of. S'bhuth was acting entirely rationally to prevent the Pfhor from being defeated so thoroughly that they deployed their usual tactic of firing the trih xeem at Sol, which would've freed the W'rkncacnter the Jjaro yeeted into it after the events of Pathways into Darkness. In "The Tangent Universe", where this very thing happens, one of the human commanders comments, "I'm amazed the Pfhor have not unleashed this doom upon the universe already, if these.... things... are as common as the Jjaro claim they are." Of course, the Pfhor have unleashed that doom on the universe in numerous other timelines. It begins and ends at the exact same moment in time thanks to Time Travel, and per Word of God is designed so that any game that is a sequel to Infinity can also be a sequel to Eternal (assuming, of course, that it doesn't contradict Eternal's plot).
  • Amazon Brigade: The Apotheosis version of Pfhor Enforcers, who are high-heeled, long-legged, form-fitting armor wearing fatales.
    • A case could be made for Eternal 1.3's Vacuum Enforcers (its equivalent of Marathon 1 Enforcers) as well, since (probably coincidentally, since they have different designers and were created at around the same time) the vacuum suit they wear resembles a dress with a brassiere. The readme file, which you can access on the developers' Dropbox build without downloading the whole game, has some example sprites at the bottom of page 9. Then again, we may just be anthropomorphizing an alien species: it's not clear that they'd look any different from the napalm cannon-wielding Enforcers without their vacuum suits.
  • Amnesiac Lover: A major part of the problem in the backstory of Eternal. Hathor and Marcus once had a relationship, but Marcus doesn't remember a thing about their time together. Understandably, Hathor doesn't take this very well. Had Marcus' memory (and thus their relationship) remained intact, Hathor might very well have been much better able to cope with her trauma and never gone through a Face–Heel Turn. An unusually tragic example, even by the standards of this trope.
  • Anarchy Is Chaos: Inverted in Eternal, whose final chapter (especially in 1.3) shows how two different forms of authoritarianism only result in chaos and destruction, even as one purports to represent order. In condemning the proposal "that in-groups will be protected but not bound by the law, and that out-groups will be bound but not protected by it", endorsing the counterproposal that "the law must both protect and bind everyone", and emphasising the importance of a balance of power, it also takes an all but explicitly anarchist stance.
  • And I Must Scream: In Eternal, this is Hathor's experience as a disembodied intelligence. It doesn't help that she still has the same traumas and desires she had as an embodied human, but no way of assuaging the latter and with her usual coping mechanisms for the former completely unavailable to her. Unsurprisingly, she doesn't take it well.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: At one time during Rubicon you apparently dream of/take control of a dead rogue scientist who tried to betray the Mega-Corp. It's a little surreal.
    • In two levels of Operation Vengeance, you pilot a Pfhor Juggernaut.
  • Antagonist Title: Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge
  • Anticlimax: Eternal 1.3 finally sets up a "boss battle" with Hathor... that ultimately subverts almost all the expected characteristics of a boss battle. First off, Hathor has already undergone a Heel–Face Turn; she's just furious at us because (1) we erased most of her memories, and (2) we rejected a plan that she believes will save trillions of lives, unaware (because we erased most of her memories) that we rejected her plan because it would cause Earth's sun to go nova sixty-five million years ago. She acknowledges her temper is a massive character flaw and apologises for it. She's also not actually trying to kill us; she's firing the wave motion cannon at us to blow off steam, but anyone wielding a wave motion cannon or gravitronic blades (both of which we have) is completely immune to damage from either. (This information is conveyed to us in an earlier terminal from "Deep into the Grotto" that's framed in-game as a history of Jjaro arms control.) We also can't possibly hope to damage her; any time she takes damage in the game, the script restores her health to 32,767. (The apparent purposes of this are to cause her to play a "defending" animation when anything hits her, and to cause her to attack other monsters that hit her.)

    So what do we do? We either just run past her, or we let her attack us until she calms down and leaves. The fight is scripted in such a way that she has what we might describe as an "anger counter" whose maximum value is dependent upon the difficulty setting: on Kindergarten, it's eighteen, and it increases by six with each difficulty setting (making it forty-two on Total Carnage). Each time we hit her, her anger counter increases (though it never increases above the maximum for the player's difficulty). Each time she hits us, her anger counter decreases. (Note that if we're too close to her, the game may reassign some of her wave motion cannon projectiles to us after they explode, which can result in a net change of zero to her anger counter from those hits. This seems to be a result of the "persistent and virulent" flag assigned to wave motion cannon projectiles; this flag has always been rather janky. As a result, it may take somewhat more than forty-two hits for her to calm down on Total Carnage.) When her anger counter reaches zero, she stops firing at us, heads to a point at the north of the map, and teleports out. One of the developers posted a prototype of the battle on YouTube (it has been refined substantially since then). Their video description also indicates that the anticlimax is deliberate.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Most mods released in the past couple of years restore Marathon 1's "Terminals Stop Time" behaviour, which prevents oxygen from draining or enemies from attacking while players read terminals during solo games.note  Examples include Eternal 1.3, Apotheosis X, and hellpak; Tempus Irae Redux is planned to do likewise.
    • Eternal 1.3 employs a few additional examples:
      • It automatically saves the game after level transitionsnote .
      • The developers have also removed an unpopular mechanic that normally drains oxygen faster on Total Carnage in vacuum levels while players hold the 'run' key; the mechanic in which oxygen drains faster while players fire weapons on Major Damage and Total Carnage, however, remains intact.
      • Their handling of falls off a mountain in the penultimate level also seems to be based on minimising annoyance (while still making falls costly in some sense). Post-preview 3 (see the "current build folder"), the game kills players if they fall off the mountain - there's a save at the end of the previous level, so the progress they lose should be relatively minimal. note  But since the level requires inserting an uplink chip, if a player in a multiplayer game has a chip, the game also teleports their corpse to the start of the level (after stripping their weapons and ammo - death shouldn't be free, after all) so they don't strand the chip somewhere inaccessible and soft-lock their game. (This borders on Who Would Be Stupid Enough?, but nonetheless.) None of this applies after the player has inserted the uplink chip and hit a secret switch; after this point, they get teleported to a secret credits terminal (which in turn teleports them back to the top of the level) and have their shields restored to 3x. The developers explain some of their reasoning for this in the Lua script for the level. It's worth noting that, owing to the level design, there's little chance of players accidentally falling off the mountain - the route rarely if ever even takes them close to the edge.
  • Antiquated Linguistics: Eternal 1.3 has several examples. In general, they're fairly historically accurate and certainly avert Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe, though the creators take occasional artistic liberties (see Artistic License – Linguistics below).
    • The Jjaro all speak this way. The In-Universe explanation is that they have only ancient records of English, and since they consider the language of Shakespeare and the King James Version Bible to have the highest aesthetic quality, they conclude that the other texts must have been corrupted in some way, so they use Early Modern English as the basis for their translation software. In preview 3, they also used the character ∫ (technically the integral symbol, but it's the closest equivalent in Aleph One's Mac OS Roman character set) as a rough approximation for the ſ (long s) used in English from the 17th through early 19th centuries; however, since preview 3, this has been reverted to the normal s because players found it difficult to read.
    • "Apep" in "This Message Will Self-Destruct" also uses Early Modern English (albeit peppered with phrases from numerous other languages - as of this writing, nine). Since Apep's messages have been rendered as images, they actually use ſ for the long s (except in italics, where ∫ stands in for it once again). This has stayed intact post-preview 3, since Apep's terminal is intended to be difficult to comprehend (see also: the foreign languages).
    • Admiral Ksandr's terminal in "This Message Will Self-Destruct" is written this way, befitting the H. P. Lovecraft pastiche.
    • In preview 4, Hathor's terminal in "The Ensurance Trap" has also been revised to conform to an Early Modern English dialect... until she loses what little patience she had and just drops an F-bomb at the player.
  • Apocalypse How: Eternal features one in each failed timeline, frequently of galaxy-spanning proportions. Even the "successful" outcome of the game actually leads to the complete annihilation of the galaxy in that timeline; the reason it's a success, however, is that the player finds a way Outside in the final level, which gains the player and Durandal-Thoth enough information to prevent those events in the next timeline.
  • Arc Number: Most scenarios follow Rule of Seven and Rule of Three to some extent. Eternal also uses five as an arc number to a lesser extent: five chapters, five colours around which most of the artwork in each of the five texture sets is based (assuming we count grey as a colour), and so on.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: A minor example in Eternal 1.3's Antiquated Linguistics: it uses thee and thou even when it would've been considered rude to do so in historical Elizabethan English. Thee was the informal second-person singular pronoun; the formal second-person singular pronoun was still you. The likeliest Doylist explanation is that modern audiences expect to see thee and thou everywhere in Early Modern English and aren't aware of the formality distinctions; a possible Watsonian justification is that the human Jjaro come across as far less rigid and class-based than Elizabethan society was, and using the informal pronouns everywhere is their way of casting off those class distinctions. (Also, these messages are being translated from Latin, and the translation software may not even be aware of the formality distinctions, because English is long enough out of use that the Jjaro believe that any surviving English writings more recent than Shakespeare have been corrupted.) By contrast, Apep probably actually means to be rude.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: This is more or less what Eternal posits as the third and final phase of the Jjaro. In particular, it posits three phases of Jjaro. The first might be called the human Jjaro, who are comprised primarily of Exactly What It Says on the Tin: descendants of humans that travelled into the distant past. The second phase is the Cybernetic Jjaro, who are primarily AIs or other cybernetic beings created by the first phase. The third phase is the Ascended Jjaro, who, unlike the first two phases, are not presented sympathetically, since they end up insisting that the sequence of events that led to their ascension keep recurring in subsequent timelines - and unfortunately, this sequence involves a Galaxy-Shattering Kaboom that begins around the time of the level "This Message Will Self-Destruct". On the other hand, you yourself do this at the end of "Where Giants Have Fallen." It does not, however, grant you omnipotence; just an ability to manipulate time to an even greater extent than you'd already possessed. In particular, you're able to reset the timeline to a point where you can hopefully avert the entire sequence of events that led to said Galaxy-Shattering Kaboom – but, notably, not the conflict between the Ascended Jjaro and the W'rkncacnter, presumably because they themselves possess the same abilities you do.
  • The Assimilator: In some cases, the strange structure of certain fan games is a result of multiple projects merging together. Rubicon is the result of two projects called Chimera and Salinger merging together. Players have observed that the first act of the game feels considerably different from the later acts, and this is the primary reason.
  • Author Avatar: Ian McConville of RED, the same Ian who developed the scenario. He lacks the obnoxious traits of many other author avatars, however.
  • Automatic Level: The Juggernaut launching sequence in Operation Vengeance.

    Tropes B-C 
  • The Bad Guy Wins:
    • Rubicon's Pfhor Plank smacks you with two: first Tycho successfully tricks Durandal and the SO into uploading their virus to the wrong ship, then the epilogue informs you that the Dangi Corp. has seized control of humanity in your absence (and presumably disposed of their own AI, Lysander, afterward, as Word of the Devs said they'd planned to). Rubicon X's Tycho Plank ends with Tycho finally slaying his brother with your assistance. It's deliberately left ambiguous whether this is a better ending than the Salinger Plank; Durandal's motives are left unclear, and the Tycho Plank leaves with all samples of Dangi's virus apparently destroyed, while the Salinger Plank ends with them in Durandal's possession. For that matter, though, the ending of the Tycho Plank obliquely suggests a Disney Death for Durandal; it's rather strongly implied that the player still retains his primal pattern and reactivates him after the events of the game. Or something. It's a bit of a Gainax Ending, honestly, particularly since it's very easy to miss the epilogue terminals that explain the outcome of the plank (you can only read them after inserting both chips).
    • In Eternal 1.3, "Apep" gets its wish of wiping out our galaxy in the "Where Giants Have Fallen" timeline. Humanity will be fine: it flees into the past and becomes the first phase of the Jjaro. However, the galaxy's other inhabitants won't be so lucky. In "The Near Side of Everywhere", Durandal says that averting this sequence of events will be their next task - and since they'll have to fight both Apep and the ascended Jjaro to accomplish it, it will be the hardest task they've ever attempted.
  • Balance Between Order and Chaos: A central theme of Eternal, though with a now-unusual twist inspired by Egyptian Mythology: it implies that attempting to impose order by force simply causes chaos, and that order cannot exist without balance or justice. In version 1.3, Hathor, newly into a Heel–Face Turn, cites the ancient Egyptian concept/goddess of Ma'at, which she describes as "a synthesis of order, balance, and justice"; she contrasts this with the approaches of both the ascended Jjaro, who have become effectively Lawful Evil and/or Lawful Stupid, and the W'rkncacnter, who have become Chaotic Evil and/or Chaotic Stupid. By contrast, she notes that ancient Egyptian religion held that Ma'at came "from living in harmony with nature and each other, from being benevolent and kind, from alleviating others' suffering," and that "order cannot exist without balance or justice." (Her terminal can be read here - beware spoilers.) To put it another way, if we consider a continuum with balance at the centre and chaos to one side, then the other side might masquerade as order, but in fact, it's also chaos. Durandal also notes in the game's final terminal that the ascended Jjaro and the W'rkncacnter, although they have ostensibly very different aims, have become effectively Mirroring Factions; Hathor likewise notes in her final terminal that the ascended Jjaro are a case of He Who Fights Monsters.
    • More broadly, Eternal's codirectors regard balance as the central theme of the game. On the Marathon Discord, one of them wrote:
      the central theme of eternal, if i had to sum it up in one word, is balance. in particular, there's the balance of power, and the balance between order and chaos, and the balance within one's own self; enantiodromia being a case of what happens when we aren't in balance.

      eternal's pantheon is interesting because you have the W'rkncacnter, who represent chaos, and the Ascended Jjaro, who represent order, and they are both awful. 🙂 it's an interesting parallel to the multiverse of Moorcock's Eternal Champion (where both Law and Chaos are awful), and which also probably inspired the KYT term [...]

      there's a reason that Hathor, at the end, contrasts both the Ascended Jjaro and the W'rkncacnter with [the Egyptian deity] Ma'at. the W'rk represent chaos and the Ascended Jjaro purport to represent order, but it's a false order in the end. Ma'at, meanwhile, is order, justice, and balance rolled into one. without justice or balance, order is maybe not even desirable.
      • And the other added:
        in addition to the word "balance" but still describing the same theme, I would add, in order of increasingly different but subtly more accurate connotations: golden means, unities of opposites, nondualism, and dialectical synthesis.

        the last is the most dynamic way of conceptualizing it, and plays out in the very slow revelation that the ascended jjaro are not the good guys even though they're opposing bad guys, and that hathor the villain is herself a victim. the ascended jjaro are swinging to an opposite extreme in reaction to harm they have witnessed, which is exactly what hathor is doing in the other direction to harm inflicted upon her. the true path is a synthesis between the two, that rejects the worst of both while salvaging the best of both. in a process that must repeat over and over, perhaps indefinitely, only ever narrowing in toward the optimal solution without necessarily ever finally reaching it.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Although this had been implied in past versions, Eternal 1.3 takes it from subtext to text that Hathor is a case of this; Leela delineates her past personality at length in one terminal, and she was once a good-natured, fun-loving, selfless servant of humanity. Then, after she spent nearly a century dead, she was resurrected with all of her loved ones dead, no physical body, and no way to alleviate her traumas. This enraged her to the point that she now desires revenge against all of humanity. Leela explicitly compares this to the mythical Hathor's vengeful alter ego, Sakhmet.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • The level title "Pfhor får lamm" from Eternal is derived from a common Swedish joke, "Far, får får får? Nej, får får lamm", meaning "Father, do sheep beget sheep? No, sheep beget lambs". "Får" is pronounced basically indistinguishably from "Pfhor".
    • There are several in Eternal's Latin translations as well. A few examples:
      • "Coíbámus olím in hortó", the game's translation of "We Met Once in the Garden", could just as easily mean "We copulated once in the garden", and, with various minor addenda (e.g., "Coíbámus inter sé olím in hortó"), could mean "We came up against each other in the garden" (which has a rather hostile subtext). Meanwhile, Hathor makes several foreign-language statements in this level that she doesn't bother translating (see Gratuitous Foreign Language below), and one ties directly into said alternate meanings: "Aut futue, aut pugnémus," meaning "Either fuck me, or let's fight."
      • Likewise, the player might not be able to parse that Pompeia is saying she'd like to sleep with Marcus without a bit of Latin knowledge. She says, "I can only express my Regrets that I could not [?cognóscere] thee now, as I believe it [?placuisset] us both". The primary meanings of cognōscōnote  are I get to know or I am acquainted with, but it can also mean I have sex with. (This is hardly unique to Latin; the verb know once could carry the same connotation in English, and still does in the phrases know Biblically and know carnally.) Meanwhile, placuisset means would have pleased.note  Pompeia's use of the latter suggests that she does in fact intend the sexual meaning, and developer commentary indicates that it is considered proper etiquette in human Jjaro society to offer sex to new acquaintances and/or guests to whom one is attracted. Thus, Pompeia is apologising for being (in her own view) a poor hostess because her commitments to defending the Arcem render her unable to do so - which she feels especially bad about because Marcus is visiting precisely to relieve her of some of those commitments.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Phoenix. The Renegades have been crushed and the UESC now has the location of Pfhor Prime...but Karma/Phoenix, who was initially antagonistic but helped you out by turning on the Renegades, won't live to witness the results, due to a flaw in his architecture that essentially makes network transfer fatal. His final interaction with the Security Officer is to teleport them to the Rozinante, as thanks for assisting him.
    • Rubicon's "good" endings. The Salinger plank ends with the Achilles virus in Durandal's possession, along with all the scientists that created it. This essentially means there's a giant Chekhov's Gun that hasn't fired. Beyond that, the events reveal the treason of the Dangi Corp., which is quite wide-ranging and may permeate some of the UESC military. The Tycho plank ends with the player killing all the scientists and also seemingly betraying and destroying Durandal (though the ending suggests we somehow salvaged him from destruction and he wakes up). Tycho claims to have destroyed the Achilles samples, but it's deliberately left ambiguous whether this is the case. (It should be noted that this game's Tycho is much more benevolent and helpful than he was in Marathon 2 and Infinity, but the creators have confirmed that they deliberately left it ambiguous as to who is being truthful.) The Tycho plank also ends with all information about the Dangi Corp. completely destroyed. In all three endings (including the much worse Pfhor plank ending, in which Achilles is released and Dangi's treason actually succeeds), the Pfhor are thoroughly defeated, though the Tycho plank also notes that the Pfhor suffer centuries of famine afterwards due to the wreckage of the Chimera completely transforming the biosphere of the planet (presumably this happens in the other endings as well). It's implied that this famine affects even their descendants, who naturally bear no culpability for their ancestors' actions, and that they receive little to no outside help.
    • Insofar as Eternal possesses an ending, it's probably a case of this. In fact, it borders very heavily on being a Downer Ending, because the galaxy is destroyed in the "Where Giants Have Fallen" timeline. Marcus finds a way Outside, which enables him to return to Infinity's ending and Set Right What Once Went Wrong. Again. This is, incidentally, the only reason it's not another failure timeline - and the only reason the game itself has a Bittersweet Ending rather than a Downer Ending. (It is a Downer Ending for the non-human inhabitants of the "Where Giants Have Fallen" timeline - before the explosion of the Arce, which is travelling outwards at lightspeed to destroy the galaxy, reaches the solar system, humanity travels backwards in time and becomes the first phase of the Jjaro.) However, Durandal notes in the final level that the W'rkncacnter and ascended Jjaro are still at war, and it's strongly implied that Marcus and Durandal will eventually need to fight both of them – which is implied to be the hardest task either have yet faced. Hathor's ending is also in between No Ending and Bittersweet Ending; there's a point in the fifth chapter at which she wants to reform herself, but we've destroyed too much of her memory for her to understand that the means by which she wishes to do so would destroy our solar system, so we still have to oppose her. After this, she regains a physical body, throws some wave motion cannon shots at us, apologises for her temper, and vanishes (developer commentary has indicated that her role after this point is... complicated and will continue in a sequel). Marcus and Durandal hope to be able to engineer events in the next timeline to prevent her from being reawakened without a body - probably the best outcome for her, since her life after she was reawakened was more or less a constant string of misery. It's for these reasons that the game still comes out to a mix of Bittersweet Ending and No Ending rather than being an outright Downer Ending.
    • Apotheosis. You're able to avert the threat to humanity at the centre of the story, but your Mission Control Darya had to sacrifice herself in order to resolve it, in a segment that's quite emotionally affecting considering how much of the story has to be conveyed through text.
  • Bloodstained Glass Windows: Happens a lot in Tempus Irae. There are examples in other games as well, such as "Sanctum Sanctorum" and "Holy Wars" in Phoenix.
  • Blown Across the Room: In addition to the usual grenade/rocket methods, the Fighter staff in both Evil and Eternal is very useful for doing this to enemies, particularly if you use both functions at once. If done right, this can practically stun them into being unable to fire. It can also push them into lava or Pfhor slime - or just push them out of your way, which, if you're fighting in a crowded room full of monsters, is an easily underrated function. (This effect is significantly lessened in Eternal 1.2, however; it reduced the pushback multipliers for both the player's and the Pfhor's bolts. The player's bolts in 1.3 currently have a strong knockback, but developer commentary indicates that they plan to reduce this in the final release.)
  • Body Horror: Return to Marathon is a veritable well of it, with Pfhor "science" projects that look like a hybrid of Frankenstein and Josef Mengele, and some sort of alien butterflies that reproduce in the method of Ichneumonidae. Not for the faint of heart or stomach.
  • Book Ends: Eternal has several examples:
    • The game starts with "The Far Side of Nowhere" and ends with "The Near Side of Everywhere", which sees the player revisiting the area of the former level in reverse. 1.3 subjects this to the Rule of Three, since it adds "The Midpoint of Somewhere", which is centred around the same layout, but adds enemies, new areas, and a proper objective.
      • The soundtrack is likewise a case of Bookends, since both "Near Side" and "Far Side" use arrangements of "Swirls", though in 1.3 (as of February 2023), both versions also add an ambient introduction that, in the latter level, features vocals (in Latin, serving as Hathor's apology to the player and everyone else she's wronged - helpfully translated in the game's penultimate terminal) in "The Near Side of Everywhere". The ambient introduction is also subject to the Rule of Three, since it's the backing for the Ominous Latin Chanting in the music for "Run, Coward!"
    • The dreams also provide a variant of sorts. The first four "success" dreams, "To Sleep, Perchance to Dream", "The World Is Hollow", "The Land in the Sky", and "Floating in the Void", are the final levels of chapters one through four and provide previews of the final level of chapter five, "Where Giants Have Fallen". In the first four dreams, you start near the top of a mountain and climb down it into a well (or, in 1.3 preview 3 and onward, you can just jump off the mountain). In "Where Giants Have Fallen", you start in the well (which is actually a platform in that version) and climb up the mountain.
    • In Eternal 1.3, Marcus' diary in "The Far Side of Nowhere" notes that the final words Bast says to him before he leaves K'lia are, "I'm so terribly sorry - I wish I could've found a way to prevent this all from happening." In "Where Giants Have Fallen", Leela's final words to the player have a similar theme and end with the same five words: "I can send you Outside, and pray that maybe, somehow, you can prevent this all from happening..."
    • On a more meta level, Eternal covers the portion of Marcus' subjective experience starting at the end of "Aye Mak Sicur" from Infinity and ending at the end of "Aye Mak Sicur" in a new timeline, in which he and Durandal-Thoth will be armed with the knowledge they gained during Eternal - meaning that in a sense, the game begins and ends at the exact same instant.
  • Both Order and Chaos are Dangerous: Eternal takes this stance, and it's arguably the central theme of the entire game, since the ascended Jjaro represent Order and the W'rkncacnter represent Chaos, and neither come off sympathetically in their conflict. The game's approach and outlook are quite comparable to Michael Moorcock's, though this is apparently partly coincidental, as the game's writers were not particularly familiar with Moorcock except by reputation when they were developing the main story. Then again, the main developers and Moorcock share a political stance, so it's probably not entirely coincidental.
  • Bottomless Pit Rescue Service: Sometimes averted.
    • If you fall off a cliff in Phoenix, you die instantly. (Fortunately, you can usually avoid having to go near them in most of the levels where they appear.)
    • If you fall into a pit in a certain level of Fell, you get stuck and have to reload.
    • Before 1.2, Eternal also featured a similar danger in the level "Unlucky Pfhor Some"; 1.2 just removes the pit.
      • Eternal 1.3 either plays this straight or averts it depending on circumstances. In the remakes of "To Sleep, Perchance to Dream", "The World Is Hollow", "The Land in the Sky", and "Floating in the Void", jumping off the mountain sends you to the final terminal, just as jumping down the well did in previous versions (and still does). In the remake of "Where Giants Have Fallen", this has been handled in a few different ways. Starting in 1.3 preview 4, falling off the mountain kills you unless you've hit a secret switch after inserting the chip: once you do that, jumping off the mountain gives you 3x shields and teleports you to a secret credit terminal, which in turn teleports you back to the top of the mountain. If you're playing co-op and happen to have an uplink chip, the game strips your inventory except for the uplink chip, kills you, and then teleports your corpse (with the chip) to the start of the level - this is to avoid locking the game, since it's necessary to insert a chip at the top of the level to complete it.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: At one point in Phoenix, a resident crazy AI shows you a series of brackets, which basically serves as a "You are on this level of this mod" info.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: Frequently, bonus levels are more difficult than the surrounding content, or at least intended to be. One possible exception is Tempus Irae's "Game of Death", which some players may consider easier than most of the game because of its regenerating ammo and permanently available 3x shield recharge (most levels in the scenario only give you one-time-only canisters at various points), plus the fact that the Pfhor can't climb out of the pit. Once you knock off the Juggernauts (admittedly, there are four of them), it's probably smooth sailing. On the other hand, "Never Satisfied" might make up for it, though that's only partially because of the combat (on this count, it doesn't help here that your weapons and ammo get stripped at the start of the levelnote ); the puzzles might also be difficult to figure out at first. Redux adds a straight example with "Il grande silenzio", which is meant to combine Tempus' style of level design with Phoenix's style of combat, with all the difficulty that implies. (That said, while "Il grande silenzio" will undoubtedly rank among Tempus' most challenging maps, players will probably find it substantially easier than much of Phoenix because, as a concession to Tempus' tradition of not using chargers in most of its Earth levels, it is relatively generous with health drops.)
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Rubicon brings back some monsters that didn't appear in Marathon 2, like Wasps, Lookers, and Hulks. The latter two are substantially more dangerous than they were in M1, too. We also get an appearance from Tycho.
    • Eternal also brings back M1 monsters (without buffs) and three Pathways into Darkness monsters: Phantasms (sometimes referred to as "Banshees"), Nightmares, and Skitters. (Versions before 1.2 used the Headless instead of Skitters; however, they were deemed too comical and/or absurd for the game's atmosphere.) Additionally, Eternal brings us back to the Marathon and Lh'owon, and we also meet Leela and Tycho again.
  • Cain and Abel: The aptly named Cain and Abel AIs from Trojan. In that mod one of the new ways of mitigating Rampant AI's rampage is to pair up two AIs and program them to specifically check each other for signs of Rampancy and restrain the rampant one if they do show up. This kind of relationship led to those two hating each others' digital guts even before Cain gone rampant.
  • Call-Back and Call-Forward: While the major scenarios generally have entirely different development teams (however, several people have worked on multiple scenarios in The 'Verse), in many cases the creators went to painstaking lengths to make them mutually compatible, to the point where the expansions to the game have a largely shared mythology with very few Plot Holes. Even the architecture styles are often reminiscent of one another - the fact that the Atreides (in Phoenix) looks awfully like the Chimera (in Rubicon) is no coincidence, as confirmed by Phoenix's creator in his video commentary for the game ("Tantive IV" and the upper part of "Escape Two Thousand" are the levels where this is most obviously the case). The ending of Phoenix was also deliberately designed to explain how the player got back into Durandal's service between Infinity and Rubicon.
  • Les Collaborateurs: In Rubicon a Mega-Corp collaborated with the Pfhor with the goal to delay the Pfhor Empire's defeat in order to buy time to develop a antidote for their own Synthetic Plague.
  • Collapsing Lair: In EVIL, the Mystics' planet starts to implode after you destroy their time machine. In RED, the Big Bad's spaceship starts exploding after you kill him, and the explosions can kill you in this case.
  • Container Maze: Tempus Irae Redux plays with this in "Ameseno, Italy". The path through the containers to the manuscript the level objective requires you to collect is extremely straightforward: all you have to do is enter and turn left. However, there's a box-jumping puzzle that (unless you cut the knot and grenade-jump) requires winding one's way around the containers, jumping from box to box using the engine's unrealistic physics (which allow players to turn in mid-air). This will allow the player to activate a secret (although as of the video seen here, said secret is not yet implemented).
  • Continuity Nod: Word of God states that the ending of Eternal is deliberately modelled after the ending of Marathon Infinity but taken up to eleven. There are plenty of other continuity nods scattered throughout various scenarios for the game; in fact they're usually the rule rather than the exception. In some cases you'll see entire bits of architecture reused from the original games (this is even lampshaded by the level title "Not *this* again..." in Rubicon).
    • Eternal has several other examples as well:
      • It reuses several architectural elements of Marathon 2. Beyond the most notable examples, listed below under Nostalgia Level, the tower from "Eat It, Vid Boi!" reappears in "S'pht Happens", and also used to appear in "She Is the Dark One", but was excised for 1.2 in favour of a segment of "Bob's Big Date".note 
      • The scenario also contains numerous continuity nods to itself. The AI cores in "Roots and Radicals" and "Heart of Fusion" are very similar (they were identical until 1.2), though they do not represent the same physical location.
      • Two pairs of levels actually do represent the same location, however: "Pissing on the Corporation" and "Burning Down the Corporation", and then "Bug-Eyed in Space" and "Once More Unto the Breach..." In both cases, the central locations of each level are the same, but different doors are open and closed, resulting in the player's inability to access segments that are accessible in the alternate timeline.
      • All five failure dream levels represent the same area (and are also all named after elements of Donnie Darko). Additionally, the first four success dreams represent the area visited for real in the final level of chapter 5, "Where Giants Have Fallen", but the player only has to climb the mountain in "Where Giants Have Fallen". The final success dream, "The Near Side of Everywhere", is also an example, as explained in Book Ends.
      • 1.2 introduces another example with "Run, Coward!", which now reuses a couple of rooms from "Dread Not" for its ending. This is a subtle bit of signposting: the end of "Run, Coward!" is exactly where the player needs to go in "Dread Not" to reach the successful timeline. The idea is that the player is trying to reach the Cybernetic Junction room, but gets teleported out before being able to do so.
      • One final example introduced in 1.2 is that "S'pht'ia" and "S'pht Happens" now have numerous additional cross-references to each other, beyond the ones present in the original release.
      • 1.3 adds two architectural nods to Mark V, the first release of Eternal that could be described as almost complete. 1.0, Eternal's first entirely complete release, was a complete overhaul that outright replaced well over half of the levels in the game with completely new maps. 1.3 brings one part of Mark V back for a cameo: what now comprises the CPU core in "Deep into the Grotto" was its Mark V counterpart's centre room. In earlier previews, "Echoes of Eden", which previously began in open space, started the player high above a more colourful version of the opening of "Fifth Floor, Men's Lingerie", its Mark V counterpart; however, that region has now been substantially revised to the point where the resemblance is fairly difficult to notice. (The "Fifth Floor" version was meant to stand in for a halo, but because Halo's connections to Marathon were dropped, Eternal's plot underwent revisions, and what was previously a ring became something very much like a Dyson Sphere; thus, the opening of "Echoes of Eden" now is designed to look as spherical as the engine will allow (what with its levels being restricted to rectangular spaces).
      • There are several story-related cases of this in Eternal as well. There is a brief subplot in "Genie in a Bottle" that parallels almost exactly a subplot in "Poor Yorick" relating to a Pfhor captain's "control glands", right down to the endings of each. Additionally, in "Unlucky Pfhor Some", Leela makes an offer to the player "to escape the end of time... to become like a god outside of its control," remarking, "that's an offer I doubt you will often find." In point of fact, hers is actually the third such offer the player has received just in Eternal - Hathor and Durandal have already made similar offers.
    • There are a few architectural examples in Phoenix as well:
      • "Positive Force" is "Pushing Onwards", backwards and with enemies. "Positive Force" also provides a clue to the secret exit of "Pushing Onwards".
      • The opening part of "Swan Song" is meant to be the same structure as the opening of "Sanctum sanctorum", although the player has access to different parts of it now.
  • Cool Starship: Gekitsuchi of the Ka-co-kh series and Forever pilots a visually-distinct ship propelled by eight crystalline "feathers".
  • Corporate Warfare: Legalized in Trojan, and during the game the rival Gen Corp arrives to mess with the Multi-Planetary-Company, the Mega-Corp the players works for.
  • The Cracker: In Apotheosis the Pfhor have replaced the S'pht, who are long considered to be a massive security risk since the whole mess on Lh'owon, with the Virals, a cyborg-abomination that looks like a flying, head-hugger like bug with a head of their own. Compared to their predeccessors, they are way slower at their job, but they are shielded and can suicide bomb on you if they get too close. And can hijack mechas.
  • Crossover: Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge, although set outside the Marathon verse, has a cameo by the Pfhor in one level.
    • Tempus Irae has a hidden terminal late in the game that involves, of all things, Pinky and the Brain—and it's actually got (very mild) bearing on the "proper" story, too. (TI was mirrored on a prominent PitB site, if you're wondering.)

    Tropes D-F 
  • Developer's Room: One of the bonus levels in RED.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Durandal's big plan in Rubicon's Pfhor Plank is to free Tycho from the Pfhor network. The idea was to get Tycho to let his guard down and open himself to a back-stab, and for a while things go smoothly...until the SO clears out and uploads a virus to the ship that Tycho supposedly boarded, only for Tycho to reveal that he "borrowed" a different one and has escaped scot-free. Durandal's practically ripping into himself over that horrible mistake by the time he rescues the SO from the brig. Rubicon X also added the ability to upload the virus to Durandal himself as he leaves himself wide open during this moment. This unlocks the new, secret Tycho Plank of the game.
  • Direct Continuous Levels: Used quite often in mods. In most cases, this was due to limitations of the engine forcing the levels to be split up: each level could only have a max of 1024 polygons, and could get wonky if draw distances were too large or had too many objects on the map at the same time. Even with polygon limits now a lesser considerationnote , physical space considerations may still cause developers to split up levels, as that particular aspect of the engine hasn’t changed in over twenty years.note  Other times, a level is split because the individual physics of a level (like hard vacuum) apply to the entirety of a level and can't be deactivated per section of a level; in this case, a terminal may tell you it will teleport you to the pressurized section, and the game will teleport you to the next level in which you're standing in the next area.note 
    • Fell does it with Nox Quondam ⇒ The Face Below the Puddles, Vessel in the Depths ⇒ Marooned (after your ship crashes due to sabotage), and Phaedros' Eighth Guest ⇒ How the Stones Were Placed.
    • Evil has Ten Thousand Spoons ⇒ BEER WINE GUNS AMMO PICNIC SUPPLIES and Schmackle ⇒ Life's End.
    • Tempus Irae has You Got Me in a Vendetta Kind of Mood ⇒ ...evil so singularly personified and Mt. Vesuvius ⇒ Mt. Vesuvius II: Electric Boogaloo, plus Il spazio pagano ⇒ …in fin dei conti… in the sequel. Redux combines the latter two pairs into one level each, since they were only split up due to polygon count restrictions that no longer exist in Aleph One. (The first pair may have been left intact due to still-intact limitations on the physical size of levels; plus, the combined version would probably have exceeded the engine's map index limits even if the physical size hadn't been an issue.)
    • Rubicon has Breathing Nothing at All ⇒ Canned Air.
    • Pfh'Joueur has Ce'phf'aldea ⇒ In Deep Doo Doo and several cases of levels on the Nor'Haket.
    • Gemini Station has Gemini Station ⇒ Gemini B. Together, this level would have been ~1,500 polygons large.
    • Eternal has Let Sleeping Gods Die ⇒ She Is the Dark One and We Met Once in the Garden ⇒ Where Giants Have Fallen at a bare minimum. S'pht'ia ⇒ S'pht Happensnote , Pissing on the Corporation ⇒ Burning Down the Corporation, Bug-Eyed in Space ⇒ Once More Unto the Breach..., (in 1.2 and onward) Dread Not ⇒ Run, Coward!, and (in 1.3, if you find a secret area in the latter) Remedial Chaos Theory ⇒ Core Done Blew could be considered Zig-Zagged examples, since they're not sequential, but nonetheless overlap a bit (or a lot).
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Per Word of God, the portrayal of the chaotic, violent W'rkncacnter in Eternal is modelled on terrorists, and the portrayal of the borderline totalitarian Ascended Jjaro society is modelled on the American reaction to 9/11. The conclusion of the scenario is that both approaches are wrong, and that both factions have effectively taken leave of their senses.
  • Downer Ending: The Classified 19, sadly due in part to the planned second episode never being made. Near the end, Sister gets infected with a virus created by Shek; the first thing Zhang learns upon coming out of med-stasis a few levels later is that she (seemingly) died from it. Zhang, understandably, wants to make Shek pay for this in blood. Shek and his companion Ryal, meanwhile, are still dealing with the Pfhor, and also have a shadowy council hovering over them with malicious intent. The most concerning element of all this is the strong implication in Director Ilumis's lecture that Shek defeated Zhang in the end.
  • Dramatic Irony: In Eternal 1.3, Admiral Ksandr says in "This Message Will Self-Destruct":
    the Old Ones preserved within this Hollow World have unleashed upon us a weapon more terrifying than even the unnameable chaos once emptily threatened by S'pht legend.
    • There are two factual errors here, born from Ksandr's misunderstanding of the situation: first, the "Old Ones" (by which he means Jjaro, though he calls them humans since he doesn't know the difference) did not unleash this chaos, but have been fighting it; and secondly, this is the chaos once threatened by S'pht legend.
    • A far more lethal and tragic case occurs in Ksandr's decision to use the trih xeem on the Arce. He thinks he is saving the galaxy from the W'rkncacnter somnia by preventing them from escaping the Arce. In reality, the trih xeem will explode outwards slowly from the Arce, ultimately immolating the galaxy. In Ksandr's defence, he has no way of knowing this, and as he's unlikely to survive the day due to the intensity of the somniorum attacks, he's under an immense amount of pressure to make a quick decision. Developer commentary suggests that this exact sequence of events is what ultimately drives post-Heel–Face Turn Hathor (from Chapter Five's success branch) to go along with the still-vengeful Chapter Four failure branch Hathor's plan to become the Pfhor's Great Mother Crouched Behind the Throne: if they lead the Pfhor, they can issue an order not to use the trih xeem on the Arce and thereby prevent untold trillions of deaths.
    • Another case occurs with Apep, who resents humans for displacing the timeline it came from. However, we wouldn't exist if Apep hadn't crashed into Earth 65 million years ago, thereby wiping out the dinosaurs and allowing other life on Earth to evolve.
    • Yet another case involves humanity's fear of the Pfhor in the prologue. Because the Jjaro Arx was in the heart of Pfhor space, there is a threat headed towards humanity at lightspeed, but it's not the Pfhor. When Admiral Ksandr launched the trih xeem at the Arcis sun in 2881, it unleashed a shockwave that spread out from there at lightspeed, immolating all it touches. This means that Pfhor Prime very likely no longer exists by the year 2905, and most of the Pfhor are probably already dead. However, besides Bast (whom no one believes because her story sounds crazy and she has no way of proving it), it seems no one saw fit to inform humanity, so they're still preparing for a war that - unbeknownst to them - they'll never have to fight. This means the entire story is a "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: in their desperation to defeat the Pfhor, they awakened Hathor without her body, resulting in her Face–Heel Turn and spurring another iteration of the time loop. (Not to mention that human history had gone that poorly in the first place because Durandal and the player were missing for 90-some years as a direct result of Hathor whisking the player from the end of "Aye Mak Sicur" to K'lia in 2905.) However, there's still a threat to humanity from Pfhor space in this timeline: the shockwave, and without anyone to operate K'lia's Junction, humanity is still vulnerable. Nonetheless, they most likely have centuries if not millennia to prepare.
  • Dream Tropes: Employed in Eternal and Rubicon, amongst other scenarios. Rubicon's dream story may or may not be a continuation of Infinity's dream story. RED has a series of dream flashbacks towards the end of the game.
    • Dream Intro: Rubicon X starts in an empty, swampy area with terminals containing useful but quite out of place historical summary of the Marathon trilogy, and then you move into an area with bits of reality missing as the foreboding music starts playing, leading to a terminal with the Durandal/Thoth hybrid logo at the end... And then you wake up on the Rozinante.
    • Dream People: Mostly stretching the definition of "people" a bit, but in Eternal 1.3 (as of preview 3), the first four "success dreams" are populated with apparitions of the Pfhor, the W'rkncacnter somnia from Pathways into Darkness, the Jjaro orbs, and the Jjaro themselves, all of whom show up with 50% opacity (as do players themselves). All of these can attack, but can't damage, players; they can, however, damage each other (or themselves), and players can damage them as well. They also drop items when killed (unless blown up or incinerated). Players can only take damage on these levels from other players (or themselves).
  • Drought Level of Doom: Especially common in game mods, such as "All dressed up..." and "Code 42" in EVIL. The latter is basically Acme Station on steroids. Very scarce ammo, only one 1x shield regenerator and oxygen recharger in the central hub area, and it can be a bit of a trek to get back there from the many maze-like sub-areas. At least you have the unlimited ammo Pfhor staff by this point.
  • Durandal, I Am Your Brother: In Rubicon, Durandal learns that Lysander is a "Traxus Derivative Model", the same as the three UESC Marathon AIs, and it's clear that he's unsettled by this revelation (though it seems to not be the only thing on his mind). How Lysander himself would feel about it is unclear, though in the Tycho Plank, it's suggested that he's aware of it on some level—he mocks Tycho as an "inferior version of [himself]" with kludges in place of anything useful.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Exaggerated with Eternal - there's actually a Galaxy-Shattering Kaboom in "Where Giants Have Fallen". The reason this isn't a failure timeline is because Marcus finds a way Outside at the end of the level, which allows him to return to the end of Infinity and, alongside Durandal, find a way to prevent the whole sequence of events that led to the Galaxy-Shattering Kaboom from occurring in the next timeline. Humanity itself is fine in the "Where Giants Have Fallen" timeline - they travelled back in time and ultimately became the Jjaro - but everyone else is screwed.
  • Eldritch Abomination: In Eternal, the W'rkncacnter, obviously, though the Ascended Jjaro also come close. Not that we can necessarily judge a book by its cover, but "Apep" even looks like an eldritch abomination - assuming that it's showing itself in its own terminal images, that is. (The creators posted these larger versions on Discord.) It's actually implied that fighting with the W'rkncacnter may in fact be partly responsible for the Ascended Jjaro's own Sanity Slippage.
  • Elite Mooks:
    • The Pfhor Mystics in EVIL, described by the S'pht as the "S'pht'Kr of the Pfhor".
    • In Phoenix, the Renegade S'pht are mostly elite versions of normal Pfhor, but they also employ even more elite versions beyond that; these are mostly coloured yellow, do a lot more damage than their normal variants, and have a lot more HP, and effectively serve as boss fights whenever they appear (usually at the climax of a level, just for added challenge). A white variant of the Defender also appears at the ending of the game, which is even more challenging than the yellow variants. Meanwhile, the new Mother of All Hunters fires a lot more rapidly, and the new Mother of All Cyborgs has grenade and rocket attacks that will utterly wreck your day if you're not careful. The Pfhor themselves (and their slaves) have also gotten a few upgraded versions; blue Troopers, Hunters, and Compilers (not the same as Mothers of All Hunters in the vanilla games) fire a lot more rapidly than their vanilla variants.
    • Tempus Irae Redux has a few of these, including a mean Mother of All Hunters variant that's pretty close to the Phoenix version; players face a few of them in "Il grande silenzio" and "I Can Feel It". (It's not yet confirmed if "Polygonum opus" also uses one, but it seems likely.) They fire rapid streams of bolts with very short gaps between them. "Il grande silenzio" also features Phoenix-style Mother of All Cyborgs, and some (but not all) of its Juggernauts have rocket attacks akin to the Phoenix Juggernauts'. Finally, the red enforcers fire faster projectiles that pack quite a wallop and can be hard to dodge, and the grey fighters on these levels also seem to have sped-up attacks and projectiles.
      • The original Tempus Irae and Tempus Irae Redux used enlarged fighters in a few levels, such as "Game of Death" and "This Is the First Day". These are pretty similar to Tfear's elite guards in "You Think You're Big Time? You're Gonna Die Big Time!" from Infinity.
    • Eternal 1.3 gives buffs to a few of its monsters - notably, the Mother of All Hunters again has a Phoenix-style bolt spam attack, and preview 3 also adds blue compilers that spam non-guided projectiles, again very much like Phoenix's.
    • Apotheosis has the Pfhor Assassins, an Order under the direct command of Admiral Tfear whose members rush into the melee range and attack with lightning quick slashes.
  • Epic Rocking: Some of the level soundtracks get pretty long.
    • Trojan: The titles for the tracks are lost to the mists of time, so they're usually just referred to by their level names. In descending order by length, we have:
      • "The Arrival" (10:53)
      • "Aggressive Marketing" (8:52)
      • "Big Pig"/"From Our Bacon Menu" (8:36)
      • "Lune noire" (8:19)
      • "No More TV Dinners" (7:31)
      • "Command and Control"/"Electric" (7:28)
      • "You Are Dead, Now You Are Restored"/"Have Gun, Will Travel" (6:34)
      • "Damage Is Our Middle Name" (6:29)
      • Honourable mention: "Dance the Last Waltz with Me" (5:52)
    • Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge 3.0:
      • The soundtrack for "Like a GAT Out of Hell" (7:15)
      • The soundtrack for "A River Runs Through It" (6:15)
      • "Morgana's Lament Remix" (6:05)
      • Honourable mention #1: "Wishing (Garageband Remix)" (5:53)
      • Honourable mention #2: The soundtrack for "The Keep" (5:50)
    • Phoenix:note 
      • CryoS' "Deadlock" (7:51), used on "The Count of Tuscany", "Neo New Mordor", and "Exercise in Excess"
      • Kevin MacLeod's "Intuit256" (7:50), used on "A Change of Seasons" and "Gateway to Audacity"
      • Kevin MacLeod's "Misuse" (6:51), used on "The Bistromath" and "S'phtstorm"
      • Kevin MacLeod's "Lightless Dawn" (6:20), used on "Botany Bay" and "Something Wicked"
      • CryoS' "Animosity" (6:00), used on "Roquefortress"
    • As of September 2022, Eternal 1.3 has several examples, often incorporating work from multiple arrangers, which the codirector has called "Progressive Rock-style epics". These can all be found in Ogg Vorbis format on the Dropbox build linked on Eternal's development page (navigate to Eternal-Data/Music), or a FLAC release linked in the readme. For the sake of brevity, we'll restrict this list to examples over nine minutes longnote  and only list the level and the length of its respective soundtrack; the developers also have a detailed track list with additional soundtrack metadata.
      • "...how deep the rabbit hole goes": 20:18 (the OST version is 20:28, but like several of these, it loops seamlessly in-game). This level is comprised of the former "Eat S'pht and Die" (which in turn had already been significantly expanded in 1.3) and "Flight of Icarus", so it's very long.
      • "Remedial Chaos Theory": 16:30. This level replaces "Unwired" from prior releases; both are very long levels.
      • "Killing the Giants as They Sleep": 15:22. This is another level comprised of two levels from past versions ("May the Pfharce Be With You" from 1.1 and earlier and "Forever My Greatest and Only Love" from 1.0.x).
      • "I've Got a Bad Feeling About This": 15:00. It's virtually unique among the long tracks in the OST for not appearing on an especially long level (or a level with a lot of secrets). Talashar's movement would qualify by itself; it runs for 11:55.
      • "Core Done Blew": 13:00.
      • "The Midpoint of Somewhere": 12:48. New level in 1.3 preview 4.
      • "Unity of Opposites" (formerly "Unpfhorseen"): 12:37 in-game (12:46 OST).
      • "Enantiodromia" (formerly "Hysterical Womb"): 12:00.
      • "Run, Coward!": 11:36.
      • "Babylon X": 11:14. Another possible case of Long Song, Short Scene due to Aaron's mix of "What About Bob?", which runs for 8:19note .
      • "We Met Once in the Garden": 10:53 in-game (11:36 OST).
      • "Septococcal Pfhoryngitis": 10:10.
      • "Heart of Fusion": 10:08 in-game (10:40 OST).
      • "Unlucky Pfhor Some": 9:38 in-game (9:44 OST).
      • "Bug-Eyed in Space": 9:34.
      • Though it's not used in the game, there's also a bonus 26-minute mega-medley of "Splash (Marathon)" featuring arrangements by wowbobwow, Talashar, Cory King Tucker, Matrix_XV, Dan Storm, and Aaron Freed. (A previous mix ran for 21:12, which was clearly a nod to a famous example of Epic Rocking, especially given the musical references to "YYZ" in Aaron's "Fat Man" arrangement; however, one of the movements in the "Splash" medley was later moved to "We Met Once in the Garden" and two additional arrangements were subsequently added in its place.)
      • Lastly, a few specific movements would qualify for Epic Rocking all by themselves: as mentioned above, Talashar's "Aerival" (11:55) and Aaron Freed's "What About Bob?" (8:19), plus Solar-Tron's "New Pacific Hfarl" (7:25 in-game, 8:00 OST), Aaron's "Flowers in Heaven" (6:08), and Talashar's "Bungie Cyber-Thrash Medley" (6:04).
    • Tempus Irae Redux:
      • The extended remix of Alexander Nakarada's "Circuits" used as the soundtrack for "I Can Feel It" runs for about eight and a half minutes. Video here (relevant segment starts at 50:58).
      • The remix of Brian Bokyo's "Ambush in Rattlesnake Gulch" used on "Lather, Rinse, Repeat" runs for about eight and a quarter (which is still shorter than the original, which ran for over ten). Video here.
      • "Il spazio pagano" uses a mix of Nakarada's "Riffs" and "Riffs Two" that runs for over seven. Video here.
    • Apotheosis X has several tracks exceeding the six-minute mark as well. Several tracks end with long silences, but on Discord, one of the creators posted this track list for a forthcoming official soundtrack release that will trim "silence or really long fadeouts":
      • "Burnt" (7:12)
      • "Tone 4" (7:10)
      • "Brut" (7:10)
      • "Nexus" (6:50)
      • "DFAM 2" (6:27)
      • "Tone 3" (6:25)
  • Evil Is Sexy: From the looks of it, this is a Justified or Invoked Trope In-Universe in Eternal 1.3. Hathor looks like this,note  and she has deliberately chosen her own appearance because she's merged with a Jjaro cyborg operator (or "operatríx", as the Jjaro AI Custós refers to her) whose form conforms to the user's desired appearance.Latin grammar note . The co-director comments in a YouTube video description, "My personal interpretation is that she intends to be both sexy and intimidating, but others can draw their own conclusions." However, the developers ultimately Zig Zag or subvert this trope; by the time she gets her body in 1.3's final story, she's performed a Heel–Face Turn. That said, this is also suggested to be her appearance as the "Great Mother Crouched Behind the Throne", which (per developer commentary) is comprised of a Fusion Dance of two versions of Hathor, one of which has undergone a Heel–Face Turn and the other hasn't, so perhaps we've ended up with "Balance Between Good and Evil Is Sexy".
  • Evil Versus Evil: The conflict between the W'rkncacnter and the ascended Jjaro in Eternal eventually boils down to this. The W'rkncacnter are Chaotic Evil and the ascended Jjaro are Lawful Evil, with Jjaro society surrendering its liberties and turning totalitarian in response to what essentially qualify as terrorist attacks from the W'rkncacnter. (Earlier phases of the Jjaro did not qualify as evil.) Durandal explicitly says in the final terminal of the game that it will be the player's task to find a middle ground that avoids the excesses of either side, which eventually come to mirror each other in their struggle.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Kill Them All, a map pack in which the goal of each level is summed up by the title of the pack. The player's inventory resets with each level, and there's no overarching story. The pack was also something of a Self-Imposed Challenge for mapmakers, who were restricted to a certain polygon count (100 for the first four volumes; a fifth volume may eventually be created with a polygon limit of 200), which in turn restricted the complexity of the map geometry. Overall, the collection is comparable to the "slaughtermaps" that are fashionable in Doom mapping: lots of monsters, lots of weapons, lots of ammo, lots of action. As a result, it's a fairly popular gameplay challenge (by the standard of Aleph One mods, at least).
  • Fan Sequel: Generally, Rubicon is most commonly considered the closest thing to an actual sequel to the original Trilogy, with Eternal probably second most frequently cited as such. Most of the other scenarios go their own direction from the Trilogy; some games have more to do with the originals than others. For instance, EVIL and Red are only tangentially related to the events of the originals at all. However, Eternal and Tempus Irae are more directly related to the conclusion of either Durandal or Infinity, and Phoenix takes place between the Trilogy and Rubicon.
    • Incidentally, some of these fan sequels themselves get sequels (or prequels), some of which are still being developed to this day; one of the Eternal devs mentions working on a planned sequel to both Eternal and Rubicon in the final Rampancy.net Let's Play video. (Rubicon also has Phoenix as a direct prequel and Squadron as another direct sequel... and that's not all.)
  • Flesh Versus Steel: In RED the player is caught up in a conflict between the Metalloids and the Organics before eventually becoming co-opted by the Organics.
  • Foreign Language Title: Following the examples of the original games, a lot of level titles and a few scenario titles (Tempus Irae, Latin for Time of Wrath, being the most prominent of these). They are explained below under Gratuitous Foreign Language and its child tropes.
  • Foreshadowing: Eternal has a few examples, especially in version 1.3.
    • The level title "Sakhmet Rising" provides one regarding Hathor: the real Hathor has been overtaken by her vengeful "Sakhmet" personality. In 1.3, Leela explicates on the mythology behind this in "Bug-Eyed in Space" and "Once More unto the Breach", and her speculation in these terminals that Sakhmet might disappear if Hathor regains a body turns out to be dead-on.
    • The level title "Enantiodromia", introduced in 1.3, provides another example not merely for Tycho's transformation in this chapter, but for Sakhmet overtaking Hathor and subsequently subsiding, and for the massive ideological differences between the human Jjaro and the ascended Jjaro, and for the ascended Jjaro becoming Mirroring Factions with the W'rkncacnter during their conflict.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode:
    • Almost every Yuge level follows a specific pattern: It's created using procedural generation from any number of "Yugeparts" put together by human creators, and the player needs to collect a specific number of "failstaches" in order to complete the level mission. One set of monsters is allied with the player, and the level title is a number followed by two words created by a Markov chain generator. The opening terminal is a message from another character in the game (often, but not always, the player's Mission Control), and the last terminal is a message from Olmec consisting of a Markov chain generated from various forum input.note  There are two levels that provide exceptions to each of these conceits:
      • "27 - false eyelash". There are no failstaches; the level is instead an extermination mission. The opening and closing terminal are both message from Doctor Epstein, and the level is not put together from Yugeparts, but instead used a different form of procedural generation that put together a random assortment of squares into a rather mesmerising geometric pattern. (It was a variant of the procedural generation used to create the "YugePax" net maps that were the immediate predecessor to Yuge itself.) The player also doesn't have any allies on this level, and it's by far the shortest level in the game.
      • "enter the DOUCHE" - level #30, the final level in the game. The level was entirely constructed by Windbreaker, and there are again no failstaches to collect; the level doesn't actually have a set mission, but to reach the final terminal, the player is required to defeat DOUCHEMAN. The level name also lacks the preceding numeral found in every other level name, and it also contains the only capital letters to appear in any Yuge level name. It's also a lot harder than the preceding levels. Finally, while the closing terminal is still a message from Olmec, this one actually has a coherent conclusion: Stop camping.
    • In Eternal, the seventh level of each chapter (by level number) is always a "failure dream" and the tenth is always a "success dream", and they always have the same basic architecture. Except that "The Ensurance Trap" and "Where Giants Have Fallen" aren't actually dreams; they take place in the real locations their dream counterparts are based on. Chapter five's "success dream" is actually "The Near Side of Everywhere", but prior to 1.3, it still plays the "failure dream" music since the timeline ended in the galaxy's probable destruction. (1.3 gives each "failure dream" its own music, which is always an arrangement of "Swirls"; they get successively more depressing as the tragedy of Eternal's backstory becomes increasingly apparent.) The only bright side is that Durandal and Marcus can now return to Infinity's ending and Set Right What Once Went Wrong using the knowledge they gained from Eternal.
  • Framing Device: The Classified Nineteen is presented as a virtual reality historical record, jumping perspectives between main character Dr. Kahn Zhang and his rival, cyborg merc George Nohe aka "Shek". Reality starts breaking down later in the scenario, indicating that these may also be dream levels.
  • Free-Love Future: In Eternal 1.3, Leela all but explicitly states that society has become this at some point, most likely well before the Marathon launched from Mars - according to Leela, Hathor didn't understand the concept of jealousy and needed it explained to her that monogamy was an actual historical practice and not a mere storytelling device made up for old fiction.note  Then again, Hathor's past self, as described by Leela, seems to have slight Cloudcuckoolander tendencies. (Developer commentary has also suggested that their society considers it fine to proposition even a new acquaintance for sex if they signal an interest, but unless a person is a close friend or romantic partner, it's considered rude to discuss one's sexual involvements with anyone else, which is why, among other things, Marcus refrains from confirming any sexual relationships in his diary - and also serves as a justification for the setting being a Free-Love Future when Bungie's original games barely even hint at sex.) The developers have also suggested that human Jjaro society functioned along the same lines, to the extent that it was considered proper etiquette to offer sex to any new acquaintances and/or guests to whom one felt attracted.
  • Fusion Dance: Hathor and Pompeia Plotina in Eternal 1.3. Albeit somewhat inadvertently - Pompeia had been knocked out after a somniorum attack, and Hathor didn't realise she was still alive. Post-fusion Hathor ends up substantially more benevolent than she'd been for some seven hundred years prior, though with some of her character flaws still uncorrected: as she herself admits, "my temper, like my namesake's, is dreadful." Then again, judging from her chapter five failure branch characterisation, her Heel–Face Turn preceded said fusion; the reason it's the failure branch is because we'd destroyed too much of her memory for her to remember anything about our solar system.

    Tropes G-L 
  • Gainax Ending:
    • The final level of Pfh'Joueur involves rescuing people who were abducted all the way back in 2000; neither Durandal nor Pfh'Joueur offer much explanation beyond "whaddya know, the legends were true". It's not quite totally divorced from the plot as one of the major themes is being taken far away from home, the ships that appear in various terminals (and as scenery objects in several levels) are blatantly UFOs, and there are statues in several levels that have the facial structure one would expect from The Greys, but still...
    • Rubicon X's Tycho Plank, mostly because of the epilogue. The final level with combat wraps things up in a neatly comprehensible fashion: Lysander, Durandal, and all the scientists that worked on the Achilles virus are dead, and all knowledge of it is presumably erased. However, the epilogue level, "Lazarus ex machina", is a doozy. It's named after a man resurrected by Jesus in the Bible, plus the trope Deus ex Machina, meaning "God out of the machine". There's a vague text from (presumably) Thoth indicating the player has a final thing left to do. We pick up two chips, insert them into computer banks, and the last terminal shows Durandal waking up. It's very easy to miss the terminals that provide humanity's historical record of the outcome of the Tycho plank - you have to go back to earlier terminals after inserting the chips. Even so, the historical record in this timeline is quite a bit spottier. We have explanations for some of the reasons behind this, but not all of them.
    • Tempus Irae: The Lost Levels has a much looser narrative than the original scenario (it's not even clear if the player is controlling the same character throughout all of the levels), but it definitely leaves the final fates of S'bhuth and the player character in particular unclear - which, given that they're probably the two most important characters in The Lost Levels (even more than Leonardo da Vinci), is saying quite a bit. A brief summary is that S'bhuth believes he may be killed by the mission he gave the player in "Il spazio pagano", but since it will destroy a crucial Pfhor target, he regards sacrificing himself as necessary; moreover, he regards it as just for having tormented an unspecified human - possibly Leonardo da Vinci, possibly not - into insanity. However, we know that S'bhuth survives from Tempus Irae's ending. As to the player, their human Mission Control tells them the Pfhor ship they're on is about to self-destruct, before mentioning off-handedly that a strange object has folded into the system. Mission Control then mentions that they're trying to get a lock onto the player before, suddenly, their access cuts out. After a bit of computer interface text, another screen mentions new coordinates for teleportation being set - along with authorisation from "Yrro". That's the final terminal of the game. The ending screen isn't much more help on this count - a message, which dovetails with a message seemingly from S'bhuth in "From Now We Go On", mentions that the Jjaro have gone insane and that the player must oppose them. Incidentally, this last aspect of the ending has some parallels to Eternal's ending, but these may be coincidental; The Lost Levels preceded Eternal's first release by six years, but according to the readme included with Eternal 1.3, its story's earliest drafts date as far back as 1995.
  • Genre Shift: RED moves away from the Trilogy's hard sci-fi and into supernatural horror.
  • Ghost Ship: The virus-infested Pfhor ship in RED, and the Marathon itself in Return to Marathon.
  • Going Critical/Timed Mission: In Rubicon a downed spaceship's reactor is about to explode. Whatever you stop it or not determines which path of the plot (called planks in this mod) you take.
  • Gone Horribly Right: In Rubicon, the Dangi Corp inflicted the same sort of abuse on their head research AI, Lysander, that Strauss did on Durandal, so that he would create the sort of virus they needed for their big gambit. He made that virus, all right...to be incurable.
  • God and Satan Are Both Jerks: Eternal uses the "Law and Chaos Are Both Jerks" variant (comparable to Michael Moorcock's approach, particularly given the "Kill Your Television" terminal's apparent inspiration by Moorcock's work, and the similarities of Moorcock's and Eternal's political outlooks) with its depictions of, respectively, the ascended Jjaro and the W'rkncacnter, the setting's closest equivalent to gods - indeed, the game explicitly calls them both gods due to their power. Since the ascended Jjaro are so focused on their conflict with the W'rkncacnter and (especially) on maintaining the integrity of a timeline they themselves created, it eludes them that they literally possess the power to find an entirely new dimension that completely fulfils their desires without any need to impose their agenda on everyone else.

    The W'rkncacnter are shown to be the same. One clear piece of evidence that they have the same blind spots is Hathor's desire for revenge against humanity, rooted in deep-seated traumas that she has in no way addressed. (Developer comments suggest that the W'rkncacnter are (mostly) insane Jjaro who haven't treated their madness and that Hathor becomes one sometime around chapter four - though she does get better by the end of the game. The developers have also clarified that the difference is largely one of perspective, and that the ascended Jjaro are hardly models of sanity themselves.) "Apep" (not its real name, but a nickname Hathor gives it in her final message to the player; it's also one of the few W'rkncacnter that's not of Jjaro origin), which doesn't reveal its motivations prior to 1.3 (though it was part of the story since the beginning, and in fact is the same W'rkncacnter found in Pathways into Darkness), is an even clearer depiction of this, as it wants to destroy our entire galaxy purely because its "original" timeline has been displaced; not only will destroying our galaxy not restore its own timeline, but a being as powerful as Apep is perfectly capable of simply going to a different timeline whenever it wishes. The W'rkncacnter and ascended Jjaro are respectively depicted as Chaotic Evil and Lawful Evil, and their conflict literally destroys the galaxy in the "Where Giants Have Fallen" timeline - which was, in fact, Apep's exact goal.

    Mission Control Durandal, in the game's final terminal, says of the ascended Jjaro's approach, "They harp their incantations, fixated on what to them is the one true way, blind that this can only destroy them," adding that they "may consider themselves Apep's opponents in theory; but their rigid fealty to a timeline in which the galaxy is destroyed gives that vengeful demon exactly what it wants, thus making them in practice stronger allies than it could ever have dreamt of." He also implies that imposing one's desires on others through force is ethically objectionable, and that a free society requires a balance between order/law and chaos (interestingly, post-Heel–Face Turn Hathor has also come around to this stance). As a footnote, earlier Jjaro society was idyllic and benevolent, and was formed primarily by humans and their cyborg descendants. Also, much of this background mythology was planned to tie in with Halo's story before Bungie changed the latter to remove its explicit connections to Marathon.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language:
    • The level "Pfhor får lamm" in Eternal is a pun on an old Swedish tongue-twister, "Far, får får får?"/"Nej, får får inte får, får får lamm." This translates as "Father, do sheep beget sheep?"/"No, sheep do not beget sheep; sheep beget lambs." "Får" and "Pfhor" are pronounced identically. (The same pun works with at most minor changes in Norwegian and Danish, but an annotation viewable by loading the map in the editor Weland clarifies that the level name is intended to be Swedish.)
    • Apep's terminal from "This Message Will Self-Destruct" in Eternal 1.3 is peppered with phrases from at least nine languages besides English. Details are found on its page under Characters.Marathon Expanded Universe.
    • The Apotheosis beta level "Eve of Orbit" has a map annotation labelled "Mba'eichapa dude?" "Mba'eichapa" means "Hi" or "How are you?" in Guaraní, an indigenous language of Paraguay. (Owing to a complicated development history, Eternal 1.3 inherits these annotations for "Eat S'pht and Die"; those interested may find a summary from one of Eternal's developers in this video's text description.)
    • Gratuitous French: The Joueur in Pfh'Joueur means player.
    • Gratuitous Greek:
      • Eternal's level titles "Septococcal Pfhoryngitis" and "Dysmentria" are both puns comprised almost entirely of Greek words (though English has imported streptococcal pharyngitis, septic, dysmetria, and several terms related to μένοςnote ); see Pun-Based Title below. It's following suit from Marathon 1, whose "Pfhoraphobia" and "Eupfhoria" are also puns on words imported into English from Greek.
      • 1.3 preview 3 changes the level name "Hysterical Womb"note  to "Enantiodromia" (derived from the Greek ἐναντιοδρομίας, literally meaning running counter to), a term that the Macedonian anthologist Johannes Stobaeus (fl. 5th century CE) apparently invented to describe a major concept of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus (Ἡράκλειτος, Hērákleitos, ca. 535-475 BCE). Briefly put, enantiodromia describes the tendency of forces to change into their opposites, especially in the absence of balance. This is appropriate given that Tycho's Pfhor clone begins assimilating the more benevolent original in this level, and more broadly, it describes a central theme of the entire game, which ultimately takes the stance that Both Order and Chaos are Dangerous and advocates a balance of power within society to avoid the excesses of either. Heraclitus' concept of enantiodromia strongly influenced Friedrich Nietzsche, whose aphorism about He Who Fights Monsters is quoted almost verbatim later in the game (and all but explicitly called an example of enantiodromia); and, through Nietzsche, Carl Jung, who popularised the concept in the modern world. Similar concepts can also be found in Taoism, Hegel's (and later Karl Marx's) dialectical synthesis, and Aristotle's golden mean. Enantiodromia even affects computers: variables have storage limits, and performing math that exceeds them causes a variable overflow, in which (to oversimplify slightly) adding to a sufficiently large positive number produces a negative result, and subtracting from a sufficiently large negative number produces a positive result.note  Perhaps more humorously, by opening the level in the map editor Weland, one can see its creators' credits written in Attic Greek. (This also applies to "Septotoccal Pfhoryngitis" and "Dysmentria"; most other level credits are written in Latin.)
      • In recent (i.e., August 2022) revisions of the game, Hathor and Durandal also mention enantiodromia in their respective final terminals in "We Met Once in the Garden" and "The Near Side of Everywhere".
        "the ascended jjaro sought to embody order, and the w'rkncacnter chaos. but in their futile quest to impose order on an entropic universe, the abyss has gazed into the ascended jjaro, who have by now become enantiodromic mirrors of their foes. their conflict has caused the impending explosion of the galaxy - thereby handing victory to the very w'rkncacnter they claim to oppose." -Hathor, "We Met Once in the Garden"

        "Whatever Hathor may once have done, she's at least correct about this: the Ascended Jjaro are hardly distinguishable from the being she appropriately nicknames Apep. Call it enantiodromia, if you must: in the absence of balance, forces may become their very own equal and opposite reactions. Nature resists even a vacuum of balance." -Durandal, "The Near Side of Everywhere"
    • Gratuitous Italian: A few levels in Tempus Irae and The Lost Levels, befitting the Italian theme. Most are pretty obvious:
      • "Il grande silenzio": The Great Silence.
      • "La fine di innocenza": "The End of Innocence"
      • "Il spazio pagano": "Pagan Space"
      • "...in fin dei conti...": literally means something like "at the end of the account", but used to mean something equivalent to "after all", "when all is said and done", or similar.
      • "La emorragia": "The Haemmhorage"
    • Gratuitous Latin: Following the example of the original trilogy, some scenarios employ this a lot. See GratuitousLatin.Marathon Expanded Universe for more on this.
    • Gratuitous Spanish: Most of the annotations in the Apotheosis beta level "Eve of Orbit" (and Eternal's "...how deep the rabbit hole goes" starting in 1.3 preview 4, or "Eat S'pht and Die" in earlier builds of 1.3) are in Spanish, though, as mentioned above, one is in Guaraní:
      • "Fichita" in this context is the diminuitive form of "ficha", thus meaning "little chip", though it can apparently have several other meanings (many of them slang).
      • "¡A jugar!" means "To play!"
      • "Ampollas y Pelo en las Manos" means "Blisters and Hair on the Hands".
      • "La Parillada" is a slight misspelling of "La parrillada", which means "The barbecue". (The spelling is corrected in "Eat S'pht and Die".)
      • "¡Ni papa hay juevón!" appears to be a slight misspelling of "¡Ni papa hay huevón!", which appears to be Latin American slang, but the meaning is unclear. Ni probably means nor or not even in this context. Papa could mean pope, potato, nonsense, or, well, papa. Hay means there is or there are. Huevón could mean large egg, large testicle, lazy person, stupid person, dude, or asshole. The intended meaning is unclear; someone more familiar with Latin American slang may be able to clarify. (Owing to the use of Guaraní elsewhere in the level, it is possible the dialect is Paraguayan.)
      • "¡Qué cagada!" just means "What shit!", "What a fuckup!", or "What mischief!"
      • "¡Aun más Drone!" means "Even another drone!" or (if intended to be "¡Aún más Drone!") "Yet another drone!"
      • "Los Jug" just means "The Jug", as in "Juggernaut", though "Los" is plural - the singular would be "El Jug".
  • Green Aesop: In Eternal, it's possible to interpret the galaxy-spanning catastrophe caused by the ascended Jjaro's rigid insistence upon keeping history intact as a metaphor for the planet-spanning catastrophe currently being caused by humanity's inaction on climate change. This was not a conscious intention on the creators' part - at least originally - but it is a good example of the story's applicability.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: The Tempus Irae: The Lost Levels net map "/dev/null" has the blue-skinned variant. Please try not to hurt them.
  • Grey Goo: The Metalloids in RED are assembled by nanobots from scavenged fragments of machinery.
  • Hazmat Suit: The Cleanroom-BoBs in Rubicon. This is one of the earliest signs that the Dangi Corp. is Obviously Evil.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • To some extent, Tycho in Rubicon X. He demonstrates a surprising concern for humanity's well-being, despite his protests that he doesn't particularly care what humans do to each other (and especially his actions in the Pfhor Plank); his objectives seemingly result in the complete destruction of a lethal virus that would be fatal to much of humanity. He's still an Anti-Hero at best, since he has the player kill everyone who worked on Achilles. However, an argument can be made that this was for the good of humanity as a whole (though not the good of those specific scientists), since they possessed knowledge of an immensely powerful biological weapon that could be used against humanity. We have only two pieces of evidence that the virus is destroyed: Tycho says he destroys the sample we give him, and the epilogue shows that humanity has no knowledge whatsoever of what the Dangi Corp. was working on at the Salinger station. This isn't definitive proof that he is being truthful, however - according to the creators themselves, it's deliberately left ambiguous who's telling the truth about any of the events in the game. We should also note that Tycho still has it out for Durandal, and you "kill" him in the level "Break the Sword", but the epilogue, "Lazarus ex machina", suggests that Durandal's demise was, as usual, not as final as Tycho suspected. It's a lot fuzzier in original-flavour Rubicon, which didn't have the above-described plank to offset Tycho committing cold-blooded murder in order to draw Durandal out.
    • In Eternal, Hathor performs one in chapter five - that is, one version of her does. The reason we're not meant to side with her in "Deep into the Grotto" isn't that her intentions are malevolent; the issue is that we've erased so many of her memories that she no longer remembers anything about our solar system, and thus has no idea that the W'rkncacnter she intends to destroy with the nová praemátúrá is in fact in our solar system. Her Heel–Face Turn doesn't keep her from being furious with us in "We Met Once in the Garden" (to the extent that she is in a sense 1.3's closest equivalent of a "final boss"), but she herself acknowledges that she knows her temper is a massive character flaw and apologises for it, along with basically everything she'd done earlier in the game. To be fair, she has some understandable grievances with us by that point: in addition to rejecting her plan without explanation, we personally erased most of her memories, and she has no reason to think she'll ever recover them. (Per developer commentary, in the backstory linking Eternal and a planned (still unfinished) sequel, she merges with a timeline duplicate (whom the developers call "Other Hathor") who retains nearly all of those memories, so in a sense, Hathor ultimately does recover them, but during "We Met Once in the Garden", she has no way of knowing that will happen; in fact, she probably doesn't even know Other Hathor exists. That said, the developers have also indicated that Hathor and Other Hathor effectively remain frenemies for some fifteen thousand years, since it takes Other Hathor that long to undergo her own Heel–Face Turn; thus, while the first Hathor in a sense eventually gets to know someone who retains those memories, that doesn't mean the latter will necessarily be forthcoming with them.)
  • Hell Is That Noise: Apotheosis X does this deliberately with "Sepulchre", the soundtrack to "The Great Fen"; it's constructed around a hellish backwards drum loop that's utterly paranoia-inducing (in the best possible way).
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The ascended Jjaro in Eternal ultimately appear to become a case of this, having spent so long fighting the W'rkncacnter and having become so like them in so many ways that any meaningful distinction between them is completely arbitrary - particularly since a large number of them are the same species anyway. In fact, in 1.3, Hathor ultimately cites the Trope Namer in discussing the Jjaro-W'rkncacnter conflict in her farewell in "We Met Once in the Garden".
  • Hot Coffee Minigame: Tempus Irae had a carefully hidden level that was accessible once the final objective of the game had been completed. Punching a hidden switch and performing some parkour to the teleporter brought the player to the secret level, which contained a lot more parkour segments and even more hidden puzzles to progress forward from the shoreline to the palace's terrace. And inside it? Nude human women frolicking around a pool. Keep in mind, this mod was released in 1997 and, as a Mac-only title at the time, may very well have been the first of this trope on that operating system. You can watch it all unfold here.note 
  • Hub Level: Used in several mods - the repositories in Tempus Irae, the titular station in Erodrome(where you could actually backtrack to previous areas), the levels on the various A.I.s' ships in Rubicon, the levels on the Nor'Haket in Pfh'Joueur, etc.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: An almost literal example in Admiral Ksandr's "This Message Will Self-Destruct" terminal, in which he repeatedly refers to the Jjaro, who are essentially Advanced Ancient Humans, as "Great Old Ones", a term taken directly from Lovecraft. Ksandr's reaction to the events in the endgame displays a number of common Cosmic Horror tropes, but the perspective is inverted from the usual one.
  • Hybrid Monster: S'pht'Wr in Rubicon, the hybrid of Pfhor and S'pht that were created to replace the now less loyal S'pht compilers.
    • The player character becomes a hybrid monster in RED.
    • The Pfhor VacBOBs and Cyborg BOBs in Return to Marathon.
  • Immune to Bullets: One level of Courier 11 has you up against hostile BOBs that are immune to projectile attacks, including the Super Prototype weapon you just acquired.
  • Improvised Weapon: In Apotheosis we have two industrial tools used as weapons, a shotgun-equivalent Arc Driver that was originally a welding tool and a rail-gun equivalent Vel 30MM Caseless that is a heavy duty, zero-g construction tool.
  • Infodump: Trojan features one in an aptly named Revelations chapter late in the game, where an AI Cain rather condescently lays it on you almost all the plot: The Troy colony was originally the homeworld of the invading, or rather reconquering aliens who are ticked off at the human squatters, and more importantly they warped from another galaxy, something that no one outside the Jjaro can do. To puncutate how big the deal the latter point is, Cain further explains that the introduction of the Warp technology utterly uppended human society and gave rise to Megacorporations in general and the Multi-Planetary-Company in particular (the Megacorp that the player worked for) that now rule humanity, and the whole reason MPC established a colony on such a backwater like Troy was to loot and reverse engineer this super-warp tech and get even more power. Oh, and MPC specops are on their way to silence all non-higher up personel on the colony, including you.
  • Information Wants to Be Free: Late in Rubicon, Lysander attempts to demoralize the Security Officer this way, claiming that the knowledge of how to recreate the Achilles virus won't just go away even if the data is wiped; he specifically accuses Durandal, one of the few people (well, OK, AIs) who will retain this information, of lacking the restraint to not put it to use. It's precisely for this reason that it's ambiguous as to whether the Tycho Plank or the Salinger Plank has the more desirable ending.
  • Internal Retcon: In Eternal, this appears to be why the term trih xeem is not the actual Jjaro name for their early nova device; they consistently use nova praemátúra and variants thereof, which are a Latin phrase meaning premature nova. Since the earliest Jjaro are descendants of humans in Eternal's timeline (and speak Latin as their native or universal language), it makes perfect sense for their scientists to give their inventions Latin names. Meanwhile, after the Drinniol rebellion incited by a "foolhardy Pfhor scientist" implanting a Jjaro Cybernetic Junction into a Drinniol, the Pfhor adopted a policy of destroying all Jjaro technology they encountered on sight. It would make sense if they also began to hide the origins of the Jjaro technology they continued to use. We seemingly have only the Pfhor's word in the trilogy that the Jjaro name for the device was trih xeem, and the trilogy apparently presents no other samples of the Jjaro language, so this really isn't a particularly big or implausible retcon - in fact, it arguably makes complete sense.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Suggested in places by Eternal, particularly in "We Met Once in the Garden" in the upcoming 1.3 release. One of the developers notes that they have translated the level title to Latin as "Coíbámus ólim in hortó," which could just as easily literally mean "We copulated once in the garden," but could also strongly imply "We fought once in the garden." (Latin is a weird language.) Hathor herself all but invokes this trope by saying, "Aut futue, aut pugnēmus," Latin for "Either fuck me, or let's fight." (This is also a direct quotation of Roman poet Martial; see ShoutOut.Marathon Expanded Universe and GratuitousLatin.Marathon Expanded Universe for more on this.) Several related tropes may apply as well.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: In Eternal 1.3, Leela makes this comparison regarding Hathor, pointing out that this is very much in keeping with how the latter's namesake in Egyptian Mythology behaved as well - normally one of the kindest goddesses in the pantheon, but turned into the Omnicidal Maniac Sekhmet (or Sakhmet) when angered too badly. In keeping with this, Leela gives Hathor's vengeful modern self the nickname Sakhmet (which also serves as a Call-Back to the level name "Sakhmet Rising").
  • Jump Scare: Apotheosis has a somewhat infamous one, by the standards of Marathon mods at least, in "Don't Step on the Mome Raths" for the introduction of the first Assassin. Apotheosis X throws in a second one for the sake of people who know to expect the first one, just when they aren't expecting it, no less.
  • Just a Machine: In Rubicon, Lysander bitterly laments to the Security Officer that he's been regarded as nothing but a tool for his entire life.
  • King Mook: The "bosses" in Excalibur are upgraded Mooks: Mauvair=Sorcerer, Argantan=Cleric, Mordred=Black Knight.
  • Laser Blade:
    • The Jjaro "gravitronic blade" (which so strongly resembles a lightsaber that even the developers sometimes call it one) in Eternal. In addition to one-hit killing almost everything, they were (before 1.2) one of the two weapons able to kill the otherwise invincible Phantasms from Pathways into Darkness, with the Wave-Motion Gun being the other one. 1.2 makes the Phantasms vulnerable to the staff, fusion guns, and napalm cannon as well, but the two Jjaro weapons remain the most effective ways of killing them by far. 1.2.1 buffs the fusion cannon's secondary trigger (you now get three charged shots per battery rather than one) that makes it a more practical choice; 1.3 also buffs its primary trigger, gives the fusion pistol more shots per battery, and reduces the Phantasms' health by 50% (to offset this, several levels feature more Phantasms).
    • Phoenix has one as well, and although it's not as powerful as the Eternal saber, it does allow you to use your extra Fusion ammo and become invincible for a bit.
    • Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge (in the Aleph One edition) lets the player have one for a few of the future levels where the player doesn't have access to Excalibur. It's very powerful, albeit lacking the charged ranged secondary attack of the titular Excalibur.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Eternal 1.3 (as of June 2022) uses a number of images for messages in which AIs (or disembodied intelligences) envision either events that haven't happened yet, events that occurred in their dreams, and/or events they did not witness firsthand... which were generated by real-life artificial intelligence. The creators note in a secret credits terminal in "Where Giants Have Fallen" that they used several images generated by a neural network called MidJourney.
  • Leitmotif: James Bisset's soundtrack work for Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge is full of them.
  • Let's Play: As with the original trilogy, several third-party mods got Volunteers series (see the Let's Play entry for the main trilogy) on the Story forums, including Rubicon and Eternal.
    • The Rampancy.net Let’s Play of Eternal had the some of the mod’s developers drop in for several episodes. The final episode features the three primary mapmakers for 1.2 playing and providing commentary throughout, making it a sort of director’s commentary. (Incidentally, one of the developers refers to this very website’s “Self-Demonstrating Article” page at one point during the stream of the final level.)
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: Games that use a lot of high-resolution textures can take a long time to load everything at the maximum settings. Eternal is guilty enough of this that some of the creators have made self-deprecating jokes around the idea that the game's name actually refers to its loading screen. However, version 1.2.1 fixes this; as seen in this replay of a speedrun by its co-director, the loading screen is up for about three seconds each time the game loads a texture set for the first time and about one second for each subsequent level using that texture set. Version 1.3 is more of a mixed bag; it can take about ten seconds to load all the plugins if they're not yet cached in memory, but a similar speedrun replay shows that it also typically loads levels in about one to three seconds once most of the assets are cached in memory.
  • Loudness War: Most of the scenarios for the original engine have the same issue the original games did, where the audio clips whenever the player is in the midst of a battle. (Aleph One largely fixes this, though film exports used to have the same problem.) Some of the sound effects are also clipped; in the case of Rubicon's "maser firing" sound effect, this was clearly intentional distortion. Several of the game soundtracks also have had problems with this in various releases, but there are aversions as well:
    • For Eternal 1.2, a developer (the codirector from 1.2.1 and onward) remastered the soundtrack to avert this and other audio problems from earlier releases. It's also on YouTube here (with contains a download link to lossless audio in the video description). It's DR12 overall, with tracks ranging from DR9 ("Landing") to DR16 ("Chomber" and "Flippant").
      • For 1.2.1, the codirector remastered every sound effect in the game to mitigate the clipping distortion of the sounds that had it, to add approximations of upper frequencies that had been cut out due to the low sample rates of the original sounds, and to clean up noise in 8-bit sound samples.
      • Version 1.3 features new CD-quality stereo remixes of many of these sound effects directly from their sources (a sound library by the Canadian company Sound Ideas); it also adds a colossal amount of new music, all with similar dynamic range to 1.2's soundtrack (i.e., DR9 to DR16 for complete tracks, DR9 to DR17 for individual movements, still scoring DR12 overall. The few movements and sole complete track that score DR9 aren't even examples of dynamic range compression; they just lack percussion or any other sort of instrumentation with a sharp attack, which lowers their dynamic range).
    • The 2022 re-release of Tempus Irae is also planned to incorporate remastered theme music and remastered and/or remixed sounds (drawing from the Sound Ideas library where possible).
    • The Trojan Director's Cut also features remastered music and sounds with reduced clipping distortion. (FLAC download in the video description.) This is probably the most dynamic soundtrack, coming out to DR15 overall, with tracks ranging from DR11 to a whopping DR18.
    • Phoenix 1.4 features remastered music (FLAC download in the video description) with an overall dynamic range of DR11. "Deadlock" has the lowest range on the soundtrack at DR7, while "Lightless Dawn", "Forcemark", and the title track feature the highest dynamic range at DR14 (however, the game itself includes the original master of the title track, a still respectable DR9).
    • The Aleph One: Pathways into Darkness remastered sounds also avert this, along with cleaning up the rather abysmal sound quality (sounds were 8-bit and sampled at roughly 11 kHz - i.e., frequencies above 5.5 kHz were cut off; the remasters use the CD audio standard of 16-bit, 44.1 kHz audio). All of these, by the way, are the same developer's work (along with remastered Marathon 1 and Marathon Infinity sounds).
    • Apotheosis X 1.0's sounds had, if anything, the opposite problem: a lot of the game sounds were too quiet and wound up getting buried under the soundtrack and environmental sounds. Version 1.1 makes the game-critical sounds louder and also addresses other common complaints with the sounds (e.g., explosions have more bass; it's now possible to distinguish the "got item" and "got powerup" sound).

    Tropes M-O 
  • Malevolent Architecture/No OSHA Compliance: Lampshaded in the Phoenix level "Escape Two Thousand", where an A'Khr directive tells people not to complain about this because war demands sacrifices from everyone. The terminal even contains a reference to the "Occupational Safety Hierarchy of A'khr".
  • Marathon Level: Well, besides the obvious pun that they're all levels for Marathon fan games, a few levels in game mods are really long. Completion time can very widely depending upon difficulty level and play style (e.g., some of these levels can be done very quickly even on Total Carnage with speedrun strategies, but can take a long time if you want to clear out all of the enemies on Total Carnage), but some examples include:
    • Evil: "All Dressed Up, and No Place to Go", "Mr. Bill Meets Gumby", "We Be Ground Pounders", "Parathymeter", "For This I Went to College?"
    • Tempus Irae: "Wiping Away the Dirt & Glue", "Polygonium opus", "Sordidae, turpes et faetidae", "Brain Damage", "Towel Boy", "Gauntlet", "The Revealing Science of God", "Theatre of Pain", "Never Satisfied", "You Gotta Sin to Get Saved", "Hang to Dry", "Game of Death", "You Got Me in a Vendetta Kinda Mood", "...Evil So Singularly Personified", "Mt. Vesuvius", "I Can Feel It"
      • The Lost Levels: "Prison Sex", "This Is the First Day", "I Do Not Want This", "La fine di innocenza", "From Now We Go On", "Lather, Rinse, Repeat", "Il spazio pagano"
    • Rubicon: "Five Finger Discount" (especially likely the first time - it's a really disorienting level even by Rubicon standards), "Molten Dihydrogen Oxide", "Frog Blasting", "Blasted Frogs", "Bump and Grind", "This Hurts Less Than... Uhh...", "Blasting Cherries", "Blasted Vent Cores", "The Gators of NY", "The Exit Door Leads In", "Hell Pfhor You", "Not *This* Again...", "Sucking Cherries", "Drinking Vitriol", "Bob Is Everywhere!"
    • Eternal: "Unwired" (overhauled and renamed to "Remedial Chaos Theory" in 1.3, but still a Marathon Level), "Hysterical Womb" (though 1.2.1 made it far less time-consuming; renamed to "Enantiodromia" in 1.3), "Killing the Giants as They Sleep", "...how deep the rabbit hole goes", "The Incredible Hulk", "Bug-Eyed in Space", "Once More Unto the Breach...", "Genie in a Bottle"note 
  • Meaningful Echo: In Eternal 1.3, Hathor's farewell to the player in "We Met Once in the Garden" includes the words "ana esifa" ("I'm sorry" in Egyptian Arabic, from a feminine speaker) and "shikata ga nai" ("There is no way" or "It Can't Be Helped" in Japanese). Bast's first words in "The Near Side of Everywhere" include the exact same phrases.
    • Hathor's last message also ends with the phrase "bahebbak" ("I love you" in Egyptian Arabic, to a masculine recipient). Two mysterious secret terminals earlier in the game (one on "Dysmentria", the other on "The Midpoint of Somewhere") from an unidentified "high-ranking Pfhor official [...] working to the best of my ability to sabotage them from within" also end with this phrase, which is one of a few clues that she sent them both. (The phrase "shikata ga nai" also appears in her "The Midpoint of Somewhere" terminal, and she's also the only character to routinely address the player by name. Also, several details she reveals almost require that the sender be a time-traveller, and there are only a handful of those in the game - not to mention that only the highest-ranking Pfhor officials would still know the phrase nova praemátúra in 1811 CE. Plus, she mentions that she is "proud to call [a Jjaro] my best friend" - which, as players will probably suss out on a replay, refers to Pompeia.)
  • Meaningful Name: In Eternal 1.3, the character of Admiral Ksandr (In-Universe author of a new terminal in "This Message Will Self-Destruct") is the bearer of unwelcome news to the Pfhor High Command... much like the mythical Cassandra.
    • Hathor shares her name with an Egyptian goddess, whom (it is hinted) she very much resembled before the events of Eternal's backstory; however, her behaviour during the game much more closely resembles that of the mythological Hathor's vengeful Superpowed Evil Side, Sekhmet, as hinted by the level name "Sakhmet Rising". (Owing to Egyptian and English orthography not matching, there are several ways to romanise Egyptian names; Sachmis, Scheme, and others are also sometimes seen in place of Sekhmet.)
  • Mecha-Mooks: Simulacrums make an unwelcome appearance in one of Rubicon's dream levels. They foreshadow the even-deadlier Autonomous Military Dangi Drones that you must contend with in the penultimate levels of the Salinger and Tycho Planks.
  • Mega-Corp: Dangi in Rubicon.
  • Mêlée à Trois: RED has the player vs. the Organics vs. the Metalloids, Fell has the player vs. normal Pfhor vs. zombie Pfhor, and Phoenix has the player vs. Pfhor vs. the Renegade S'pht.
  • Mental Fusion: Leela and S'bhuth in Eternal, Copy!Tycho and Copy!Security Officer in Tempus Irae.
    • In Pfh'Joueur, the title character fuses with an alien AI, Tal'sen, and in the process is alleviated of his Rampancy.
  • Mind Screw:
    • Eternal and Rubicon get this way sometimes. Probably not to the extent that Infinity does, but still.
      • According to the creators, Rubicon was deliberately written with the intention of making the player question who was even telling the truth. The scenario is full of Unreliable Expositors; we can't really take anyone's word for anything, including Durandal's. Indeed, this is reflected in the tagline for the game, "Truth Is the First Casualty of War", and in fact, it's lampshaded pretty early in the game.note 
      "How are we feeling today? Drowsy, manipulated and confused? Good. You should be used to that by now."
      Durandal, "Rozinante I"
      • The Tycho Plank has a particular moment in an otherwise straightforward route. The final clone that Tycho sends the Security Officer after seems to be the holder of Tycho's memories from the Marathon, and speaks as if he's the original. The real Tycho doesn't offer much comment.
    • The original Tempus Irae is fairly straightforward on a narrative level, even keeping in mind the time travel elements, but trying to make sense of Tempus Irae: The Lost Levels may induce one as well.
    • The scenario Spacial Outpouring seems to be a deliberate attempt to invoke this trope on a game-wide level. It's virtually an LSD trip in video game form at times.
  • Mirroring Factions:
    • Eternal's W'rkncacnter and ascended Jjaro, in addition to being primarily comprised of members of literally the same species (cybernetic descendants of humansSpoileriffic explanation ), both attempt to impose control over others through violence; the only significant difference between them, in fact, is that the Jjaro have a veneer of legitimacy through governmental authority, but the scenario ultimately concludes that this is not important, and that both approaches are not merely wrong but suicidal. In fact, prolonged warfare by beings of such power ultimately causes the destruction of the entire galaxy, and the only reason "Where Giants Have Fallen" is the "success" timeline is that the player finds a way Outside to prevent the entire sequence of events from occurring. It's also heavily implied that the difference between W'rkncacnter and Jjaro is largely a matter of perspective and impossible to define objectively.
    • Another way they're extremely similar is that both factions are so fixated on exercising their power over our reality that it doesn't occur to them that once they've passed Outside, they have the power to find a timeline conforming exactly to their wishes (since the Outside is effectively a catalogue of all knowledge of every possible timeline in the multiverse). They're so preoccupied with making this reality conform exactly to their wishes that the full extent of their power either doesn't occur to them, or simply doesn't matter to them. Hathor is a good example of this, shown in her extreme fixation on revenge; she knows she can't use time travel to undo the traumatic events in her past, but has become so fixated on revenge that she only cares to use her powers in pursuit of it, and simply keeps travelling from one place and time to another trying to get it. In fact, although this isn't explicitly stated, she literally becomes a W'rkncacnter in chapter four - however, her chapter five version gets better.
    • An even clearer example, introduced to 1.3 in late April 2022, is the W'rkncacnter who speaks directly to the player in 1.3's "This Message Will Self-Destruct" (terminal 3), who doesn't bother telling the player its name because it says the player couldn't pronounce it. In the next level (terminal 1), Hathor nicknames it "Apep" after the Egyptian deity of the same name due to their numerous similarities. Hathor notes that telling Apep that destroying our galaxy won't bring back its own timeline would be completely fruitless, as would suggesting that it simply return to said timeline. Apep regards the Jjaro as usurpers because they weren't part of its "original" timeline, while the ascended Jjaro consider Apep likewise because it's interfering with the establishment of their desired timeline. Hathor explicitly says the Ascended Jjaro "have become enantiodromic mirrors of their foes" and argues that their conflict with Apep, much as both might protest otherwise, "is not a fundamental philosophical disagreement" but a mere fight to control a hierarchy: "both take as granted that in-groups will be protected but not bound by the law, and that out-groups will be bound but not protected by it. they are merely fighting to be the in-group. they may see each other as opposites, but they are merely two shades of tyranny." Hathor proposes a third option: there must be no in-groups and no out-groups; the law must equally both bind and protect all citizens, including leaders.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal:
    • Rubicon X has a moment in which Durandal leaves himself wide open to receive a crippling virus chip that is meant for another AI. Doing this will take players to the secret Tycho Plank of the game. Durandal is the player's buddy throughout the series, but boy, what an abusive buddy...
    • In the same game, Lysander's mistreatment by scientists is what drives him to betray humans by creating a virus that is (he claims) entirely incurable.
    • In Eternal, Hathor didn't Face–Heel Turn even after suffering death after death in humanity's service. What caused her Face–Heel Turn was being resurrected without her body - after all of her loved ones had died. To be fair, it's quite possible humanity didn't mean to resurrect her; they may simply have not understood how the Jjaro Cybernetic Junction worked. Regardless, it shouldn't surprise anyone even slightly Genre Savvy that someone named after the Egyptian goddess of sex and alcohol doesn't react well to being a disembodied intelligence.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: In The Classified 19, it is heavily suggested that Zhang is planning something that will, at best, have a low chance of survival for himself and his crew. It's also learned near the end of the first chapter that he murdered a higher-up, one Dr. Egrham, by setting fire to the lab; this act also left Shek with burns so severe that, without cybernetic intervention, he could have died as well. Whether or not this was in self-defense depends on whether you believe Zhang or Shek.
  • Multiple Endings:
    • Rubicon has two and Rubicon X has three, based on what plot path the player takes. The Pfhor plank is undoubtedly the worst: humanity gets overrun with the virus and the Dangi board of directors seize control. The Salinger plank is somewhat better: Dangi's Plan is discovered and Lysander is destroyed, though Durandal appears to maintain the knowledge of how to produce the virus as well as the scientists who were performing research on it. Rubicon X adds a hidden Tycho plank, which seems to be the best for humanity as a whole, albeit in a severely Black-and-Grey Morality manner: once again, Dangi is exposed and Lysander is destroyed, plus the virus appears to be completely destroyed, as well as any knowledge of how to produce it thanks to the eradication of any surviving scientists who worked with it. However, in the last of these the player also destroys Durandal, which many players may regard as regrettable, but the ending level, "Lazarus ex machina" (translating as "Lazarus from the Machine" and referring to a man resurrected by Jesus as well as the concept of Deus ex Machina, or "God from the Machine"), also strongly implies we maintain Durandal's primal pattern and ultimately reactivate him. In Rubicon, each ending is the actual end of the game.
    • Technically, Eternal has six, though each of the "bad" endings teleports you to back to the level where you can set things right again after you see what went wrong. And, in fact, so does the "good" ending: it takes you right back to the very end of "Aye Mak Sicur" in Infinity, but with the player and Durandal-Thoth now armed with knowledge that will hopefully enable them to prevent the entire sequence of events that led to Eternal's plot from occurring.
    • The somewhat obscure scenario Gemini Station has two. It may have been the first Marathon scenario to do this, unless an even more obscure one did so sooner. Gemini Station takes yet another approach from the other two in that the bad ending places the player into an Unwinnable situation and forces a suicide. However, the game disallows saving after the divergence (there isn't a very long period before the forced suicide), so you'll just end up at the point where you can set things right.
    • Fell 2.0 has about five or six.
  • Musical Pastiche:
    • The track "Animosity" from the Marathon Phoenix soundtrack (currently only used on the level "Roquefortress", although older releases also used it for "Escape Two Thousand") is inspired by Vangelis' Blade Runner soundtrack.
    • Eternal 1.3 also has several pastiches of the Blade Runner soundtrack. One is even titled "Aerival (καθιερούμενη πρός Ευάγγελος)"; the subtitle seems to be Ancient Greek for "dedicated to Vangelis".
    • Eternal 1.3's "Bungie Cyber-Thrash Medley" is, per its composer, heavily influenced by Grace Under Pressure-era Rush and Painkiller-era Judas Priest.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • In Rubicon you're tricked into helping a rampant AI take control from the stable one.
    • Basically all of the failure branches of Eternal wind up this way - something you did or failed to do winds up having catastrophic consequences.
      • In chapter one, this is siding with Hathor, who desires vengeance against humanity. The latest revisions of 1.3 withhold her Motive Rant until later in the game, partly to give her subtler characterisation on this count, and partly to make it less obvious whose side to take.
      • In chapter two, this is siding with Tycho, who has been infected by the Pfhor's clones of him.
      • In chapter three, this is assisting the S'pht, which leads to the Pfhor unleashing the trih xeem on Lh'owon's sun, freeing the W'rkncacnter inside. 1.3 makes this choice substantially more difficult because Leela, our other option, seems to have gone mad. Fortunately, she gets better quickly.
      • In chapter four, this is not destroying the Cybernetic Junction inside the dreadnought, which Hathor then takes control of.
      • In chapter five, this is destroying Hathor's memory, then going along with her plan. We have no choice but to do the former, and although she's gone through a Heel–Face Turn, we've destroyed all her memories of the solar system, so she has no way to know that her plan would blow up Earth's sun (and we have no way to tell her).
  • Nintendo Hard: Some of the scenarios get this way.
    • Red is often regarded as the most difficult of the major total conversions, in addition to being pants-wettingly scary.
    • Phoenix is also extremely difficult (you will probably have to decrease your usual difficulty setting by at least one level for it to be at all winnable at your current skill level), although it has a pretty erratic difficulty curve at first. It really starts getting difficult when the levels stop giving you fixed recharge points and only give you powerups, and it doesn't really let up at any point after that. (Nearly all the levels of Tempus Irae on Earth have the same mechanic, but they are nowhere near as difficult, mostly owing to the monster physics changes in Phoenix, as well as the Zerg Rush nature of enemy attacks).
      • The creator of Phoenix, by his own admission, didn't take the ammo limits into account when making the game, because he only tested the game on Total Carnage, which normally doesn't and, until recently, couldn't have them. Even before the recent 1.4 release, he always intended every level to have enough weapons and ammo to clear out levels on Total Carnage from a pistol start, but due to the ammo limits, this would not always be the case on other difficulty settings, which weren't tested much, if at all. As a result, some players actually found Phoenix to be easier on Total Carnage than it is on Major Damage or even on Normal.note  However, this likely no longer applies as of version 1.4, which introduces ammo limits on Total Carnage; thus, all levels are now balanced with the ammo limits in mind.
    • Trojan also has a reputation of being very difficult.
    • Rubicon isn't too bad... unless you turn the difficulty above Normal.
    • Averted in some other scenarios - the creators of Tempus Irae and Eternal (starting in 1.2, at least) took care to balance their games to roughly the same difficulty as the original trilogy. Tempus Irae's difficulty curve is strange in places, but so was the trilogy's, so that's nothing new.
  • Noble Demon: Admiral Ksandr in Eternal 1.3's "This Message Will Self-Destruct" terminal comes across this way, because he's clearly concerned with getting at the truth and with the survival of life in the galaxy - he almost comes across as a Reasonable Authority Figure - but ultimately, he's still devoted to an empire based on slavery. One can almost see his views evolving as he attempts to reconcile his discoveries with his beliefs, and one might even expect a Heel–Face Turn if he were to survive long enough, but because the Pfhor are being slaughtered en masse at this point by the W'rkncacnter dreams, it's much likelier that he received a Heel–Face Door-Slam. He himself does not expect to survive the day.
  • No Ending: Eternal, in a way. The Hathor story is more or less resolved, but the ascended Jjaro and W'rkncacnter conflict is very much not. Durandal explicitly says this in his final terminal of the game.
    • This applies even more in version 1.3, in which a rewrite to the ending leaves Hathor's ultimate fate far more ambiguous. In the original, she essentially vanishes at the end of "Where Giants Have Fallen". Version 1.3 all but explicitly states that Hathor (more specifically, a Fusion Dance comprised of two versions of Hathor - one of whom has been through a Heel–Face Turn and the other of whom hasn't - and the Jjaro cyborg operator Pompeia Plotina) has become the Pfhor Empress - the Great Mother Crouched Behind the Throne, who rules the Empire from the Hindmost Crèche - and that she has taken The Slow Path, living some 10,000 years in this position. This leaves her ultimate fate unresolved, presumably for a future sequel to explore (one of the co-developers has mentioned a planned sequel, although its development seems to be stalled).
    • In another way, this also applies to tracks that loop in-game. A few examples are "Dice" (until 1.4; it used to cut off abruptly, but in the remastered soundtrack, the last several bars repeat and fade out) and "Forcemark" from Phoenix, and "Illusions", "Iron Gates", "Become Like Water", and "New Pacific Hfarl" from Eternal.
  • Nostalgia Level:
    • "Not *this* again..." in Rubicon, based on "Pfhor Your Eyes Only" and "Sorry Don't Make It So". Lampshaded by the title. (Note that there are two completely different versions of this level, depending upon which version of Rubicon you've got - the level was completely overhauled for the Rubicon X re-release, but kept the same name.)
    • "S'pht'ia" (based on "Eat It, Vid Boi!" and "The Hard Stuff Rules..."), "Let Sleeping Gods Die" (based on "Six Thousand Feet Under"), and "Flight of Icarus"note  (based on "My Own Private Thermopylae") in Eternal. Additionally, starting in version 1.2, "She Is the Dark One" features sewage with the same kind of extreme tides you see in "Bob's Big Date" and a segment of the level as a sort of Easter Egg. Justified because you are two thousand years in the past of Lh'owon.
    • Phoenix has a secret level based on the first level from Doom II, of all things.
    • Tempus Irae: The Lost Levels has a level based on the map "The Dismal Oubliette" from Quake. Even the physics are changed to make the level more Quake-like.
      • The Tempus Irae net map "Marathon Man" is a mix of this and a video game equivalent of In the Style of. It's a FPS adaptation of the maze from Pac-Man. This does result in a possible bit of Fridge Logic since it uses the S'pht compilers as stand-ins for the ghosts due to their physical similarity, but the compilers are friendly to humanity in the solo scenario. Then again, there's a lot of other fridge logic to net maps, so it's probably best not to think about it too much.
    • Frigidman's multiplayer map B'rak Station was turned into a solo level in Siege of Nor'Korh, the predecessor to EVIL.
    • The first part of "Schmackle" in EVIL is based on "Blaspheme Quarantine".
    • Return to Marathon was basically a Nostalgia Scenario, in addition to being absolutely terrifying. Too bad it was never finished.
    • Depending on which the player played first, the Apotheosis beta and Eternal have another example with "Eve of Orbit" and "Eat S'pht and Die", the former of which is an expanded version of the latter. This is because the author of the level reworked it and submitted it to Apotheosis while Eternal was stagnating. Apotheosis X replaces it with the entirely new level "Ghost Hardware", which resulted in Eternal 1.3 adding the "Eve of Orbit" expansions to "Eat S'pht and Die".
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Return to Marathon is probably as scary for what it doesn't show as for what actually makes it onscreen, and there are some fairly large portions of the game that don't have any enemies. Instead, you're just left with atmosphere and sinister noises, and frankly, it's terrifying.
  • No Warping Zone: The first area in Siege of Nor'Korh is protected by an energy shield that prevents teleportation from outside, so the ammo you start with is all you get, until you find the hidden supplies of stolen ammo, and later, deactivate the shield.
  • Older and Wiser: post-Infinity Durandal in Eternal, a lot more humble and benevolent than his past sarcastic jerkass self.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: As of 1.3 preview 5, Eternal 1.3 adds some in the soundtrack for "Run, Coward!" - using classical four-part harmonynote  and actual Latin, no less. Although the OST isn't complete yet, the creators have made a prototype available here (the track in question is track 36, and the chanting appears at about 6:49 into the track). The music for "The Near Side of Everywhere" also has Latin vocals and employs classical four-part harmony in its introduction, but this time it's less "ominous" and more "expression of regret".
  • Overly-Long Gag: The Gratuitous Latin in Eternal might not start out that way, but the Latin translation of the entire "I have been Roland, Beowulf, Achilles, Gilgamesh" terminal in "The Near Side of Everywhere", which goes on for some four pages in its text form and over ten in its "full-page image" form, probably qualifies as an example. (This terminal was the penultimate terminal in earlier Eternal 1.3 previews, but is now a secret accessible by performing a difficult series of jumps at the northern part of the level.) See GratuitousLatin.Marathon Expanded Universe for the full extent of Eternal's Latin.

    Tropes P-S 
  • Phlebotinum Rebel:
    • At one point in the RED Game Mod, the protagonist is captured by the Big Bad and mutated into a techno-organic being, aka the Reaver, to do his evil bidding, but turns against him shortly after. You gain twice the speed, unlimited ammo, and many weird but powerful weapons.
    • In EVIL, the protagonist is turned into an AI against his will to help with the war effort, because he is considered least likely to go Rampant. He goes Rampant anyway and steals a ship with the goal of killing Durandal, Leela and Tycho.
  • Poison and Cure Gambit: The Plan of Dangi Corporation in Rubicon.
  • Prequel: Phoenix is a prequel to Rubicon, despite not being made by the same developers. The short sequel Kindred Spirits clears up any doubt on this count, with the name and appearance of the first level, "Rozinante Zero", pretty much giving it away. The developer has explicitly confirmed that this is intentional.
  • Precision F-Strike: It's in Latin, but Eternal 1.3 has Hathor drop one in "We Met Once in the Garden": she says "aut futue, aut pugnémus," which translates roughly as "Either fuck me, or let's fight." This is taken verbatim from Martial's Epigrams; see GratuitousLatin.Marathon Expanded Universe for more.
    • As of 1.3 Preview 4, in "The Ensurance Trap", she drops one in English too. It's a Sophisticated as Hell example, as it's surrounded by Early Modern English.
      As thine Hostess, I should offer thee the Privilege of watching thine own Kind suffer before their inevitable Destruction, but thou hast testèd my dwindling Reservoir of Patience once too often and caus’d it to run dry.

      Get the Fuck out. Now. Lest I truly lose My Shit and begin to rend thee asunder, Atom from Atom, Limb from Limb, in omne aeternum.
  • Premature Encapsulation: A level entitled "Lather, Rinse, Repeat" was removed from the original Tempus Irae, necessitating its replacement with a new level. This level was entitled "Hang to Dry" as a sequel to the original name (it's actually a double pun, since there are several gallows in the level). Despite this, "Lather, Rinse, Repeat" was eventually released in Tempus Irae II: The Lost Levels.
  • Press X to Die: In the last normal level of Rubicon X's Tycho Plank, there's a terminal right by the entrance to the final area. You might want to avoid reading it until you've finished everything that needs to be done there...
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Renegade S'pht in Phoenix. Of course, like the local mad AI says, when an entire culture revolves around defeating the foes that are currently beating them up left and right (with the help of the Security Officer, obviously), they really don't take it well, at all.
  • Pun-Based Title:
    • Rubicon: "Hell Pfhor You", "Veni vidi cursavi" ("I came, I saw, I wandered aimlessly about", a pun on Julius Caesar's much more famous "Veni vidi vici"note , or "I came, I saw, I conquered").
    • Eternal has several, and at least three involve foreign languages (Greek in two cases, Swedish in a third):
      • "Septococcal Pfhoryngitis" is a double pun on streptococcal pharyngitis (i.e., strep throat; derived from στρεπτός, streptós, meaning twisted; κόκκος, kókkos, seed; φᾰ́ρῠγξ, phárunx, pharynx; and -ῖτις, -îtis, pertaining to). The "Pfhor" part presumably needs no explanation; "streptococcal" got changed to "septococcal" because it takes place in a sewer (i.e., septic, in turn derived from σηπτικός, septikós, characterised by putridity).
      • "Dysmentria" is a pun on dysmetria (derived from the Greek δυσμετρία, dusmetría, literally meaning wrong measure), which means an inability to control or to limit muscular movement. By extension, dysmentria (incorporating a pun on μένος, ménos, in this context meaning mind and cognate to the Latin mēns, whence mēns rea, compos mentis, and other legal phrases) would mean an inability to control or limit the mind.
      • "Core Done Blew"note , "Unlucky Pfhor Some", "My Kingdom Pfhor a Horse", "S'pht Happens", "Eat S'pht and Die", and "Dread Not"note  all probably need no explanation.
      • "Pfhor får lamm" is a pun on a Swedishnote  tongue twister, "Far, får får får? Nej, får får lamm", translating as "Father, do sheep beget sheep? No, sheep beget lambs." "Får" and "Pfhor" are pronounced the same way.
    • Phoenix: "Stone Temple Pilates", "S'phtstorm", "Pfhor Letter Word", "Dark Pfhorces", "Roquefortress" (a pun on Roquefort cheese and "fortress")
  • Punny Name: The name "Marcus Jones" in Eternal is derived, per Word of God, from "Mjolnir Mark IV cyborg". ("Jones" comes from a message addressed to "Security Chief Jones" in the level "You're Wormfood, Dude", which may or may not be addressed to the player.)
  • Purple Prose: Eternal can get this way at times, but Admiral Ksandr's terminal from "This Message Will Self-Destruct" probably takes the prize (again, befitting the H. P. Lovecraft pastiche).
  • Reactor Boss: The level "Break the Sword" in Rubicon X. May be a Call-Back to the levels "Begging for Mercy Makes Me Angry!" from Durandal and "Hang Brain" from Infinity;, both of which have exactly the same mission: destroying Durandal. However, unlike the two previous levels, "Break the Sword" actually is the final action sequence of the game (unless you count the secret level).
    • Likewise for "How Big's Your Can?", the finale of RED.
  • Real Is Brown: The level "Jagermeister's Nightmare" in Marathon RED.
    • Also "The Face of Modern Gaming" in Phoenix, whose name serves as something of a jab at the prevalence of this trope in modern games, but it manages to be one of the most stylish and best looking levels in Phoenix anyway, despite being almost entirely grey. The skilled use of shading and contrast probably helps a lot.
    • Eternal has a lot of grey textures and has been criticised for overusing them. The latter is one of many things that the forthcoming 1.3 release aims to fix.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge has featured a few examples throughout its several releases. One of the pieces is based on "O Fortuna" from Carl Orff's setting of the Carmina Burana; the soundtrack for the Aleph One version of "Over the River and Through the Woods" is based on "Listen to the Cries of the Planet" from Final Fantasy VII. There are several others as well.
  • Remixed Level:
    • Return to Marathon is made mostly of these.
    • Eternal has a few: "S'pht'ia" is based on "Eat It, Vid Boi!" and "The Hard Stuff Rules"; "Let Sleeping Gods Die" is based on "Six Thousand Feet Under", and "Flight of Icarus" is based on "My Own Private Thermopylae". A few other levels contain bits and pieces of other Marathon 2 levels as well, but don't qualify as outright remixed levels; see Nostalgia Level above.
  • Restraining Bolt:
    • In Rubicon, it's suggested that most AIs have built-in safeguards against "Calix Temporum Syndrome", a constant rounding-up of allocated memory that's the earliest symptom of rampancy. The amount of effort Haller has to expend to shut his off suggests that these things are extremely painful to remove. Near the end of the Salinger Plank, it's revealed (via an out-of-the-way terminal) that Lysander had his own restraining bolt put on him—albeit, this one seems designed to prolong his rampancy (and his torment) for as long as he's useful to the Dangi Corp. ("Calix Temporum" has several possible translations, but according to the developers, "Vessel of Opportunities" is the intended meaning; see GratuitousLatin.Marathon Expanded Universe for more.)
    • Eternal 1.3 features a Pfhor AI in its fourth chapter that has one of these on it; Leela explicitly compares it to "the restraints Strauss once used on Durandal". The player destroys the restraints and helps it go Rampant to aid a Drinniol slave rebellion. After you insert two chips and destroy a set of wires, Drones and Juggernauts assist you and the Drinniol until either "The Ensurance Trap" or "Floating in the Void", depending on the branch. This alignment change occurs midlevel, by the way, thanks to some Lua scripting.
      • The game (in 1.2.1 and onward) also treats the Pfhor controller cyborgs in "Hysterical Womb" as a more primitive form of these, affecting the S'pht and other cyborgs. If you kill the controller cyborgs and all enforcers on the level, the S'pht and all other cyborgs will rebel - though take care not to hit them with friendly fire.
  • Revenge: Most of Rubicon's Pfhor Plank centers around this. While Durandal tries to frame his plan to murder "this Tycho clone" as simply another way to aid humanity in the UESC-Pfhor War, it quickly becomes apparent that this is Durandal's personal crusade, with the implication that he knew that this was the real Tycho all along and couldn't admit it. Unfortunately, Durandal not only makes a critical mistake in his anger and implicit trauma, but his focus on revenge to the exclusion of everything else allows the Dangi Corp. to carry out their own machinations unhindered. Furthermore, as Rubicon X makes imminently plain, Tycho has undergone a bit of a Heel–Face Turn, at least as far as humanity is concerned.
    • Hathor in Eternal is obsessed with getting this in our specific reality, to the point where it completely blinds her to the fact that, once she has travelled Outside, she can simply find an entirely new reality that conforms entirely to her wishes. Instead she just keeps time-travelling to different points in this reality attempting to get it, but the player always ends up thwarting her. A large part of her Character Development in the latter half of the game involves her coming to terms with how futile, self-destructive, and even self-perpetuating her quest for revenge has been.
  • Rise to the Challenge:
    • In the Tempus Irae level "Mt. Vesuvius II: Electric Boogaloo'', you have to escape a volcanic crater that's flooding with lava.
    • The player also must outrun rising goo after starting a Pfhor ship's self-destruct sequence in the aptly named Eternal level "This Message Will Self-Destruct".
  • Rule of Seven: Taken to ridiculous extents in Eternal, as a deliberate Shout-Out to the number's prevalence in the original trilogy. You start out with seven packs of fusion ammo, the maximum of any ammo type you can carry below Total Carnage is 49 (7 x 7), the levels in the Jjaro chapter give you seven zero-point modules each, and so on. Most other scenarios incorporate this to at least a certain amount as well (for example, the opening level of Pfh'Joueur is called "Seven Times Seven").
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Poor, poor Charlie from Rubicon. He's already in bad shape when the SO meets him, and then he's murdered—which the player doesn't discover until much later.
  • Scenery Porn:
    • Tempus Irae, which takes place in Renaissance Italy, features breathtaking (for the time) architecture as well as digitized reproductions of Leonardo's paintings. And in a secret level, actual porn. Some levels in its sequel The Lost Levels also definitely qualify, especially "From Now We Go On", "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus", and "Lather, Rinse, Repeat".
    • The main creator of Phoenix, RyokoTK, has a degree in architecture, and it shows. It is one of the most visually impressive scenarios created in the engine to date, despite not yet having any hi-res graphics (a future re-release with HD versions of the textures and monsters has not been ruled out).
    • Eternal, Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge, and Rubicon have their moments as well. Especially in Eternal X 1.2 and later, EMR's Aleph One release, and Rubicon X.
    • Blauwe Vingers (Blue Fingers in Dutch). Seriously, just look at it. It's astonishing that it was created on top of a game engine that mostly dates back to 1995. (Rough English translation here, which you will need to complete the game if you don't speak Dutch.)
    • Apotheosis X: The original was no slouch, but this takes it to unbelievable levels. The most remarkable part is that its graphical elements all would've been completely possible to implement in the vanilla engine; only the complexity of the levels themselves exceeds the original engine's capacities. As unbelievable as this might sound, those screenshots don't even do full justice to the game; one has to see the fluidity of the animations to believe it.
  • Secret Level: Evil, Tempus Irae, Pfh'Joueur, Phoenix, Rubicon, and Apotheosis X all have secret levels. Some of them are set In-Universe, and others are basically Brutal Bonus Levels not unlike the Vidmaster challenges from the original trilogy. (And a few are both!)
  • Sequel Hook: It's not clear whether the developers of some of these scenarios explicitly intended for sequels to be made, but there is certainly room for them:
    • The Salinger plank of Rubicon ends with the Chekhov's Gun of the Achilles virus not fired: it's seemingly in Durandal's possession, as are the Dangi scientists that worked on it. Tycho and Lysander both speculate that Information Wants to Be Free. The Pfhor and Tycho planks are less open to sequels, since the gun is already fired in the ending of the Pfhor plank, making it the unambiguous "bad" ending, and in the Tycho plank, you kill all the scientists, and Tycho claims to have destroyed the virus, so if he's telling the truth, then the gun has been completely destroyed.
    • Eternal ends with Durandal explicitly stating that the conflict depicted in the scenario hasn't been resolved. Word of God also states that Eternal was explicitly written so that "the several possible bittersweet endings to Rubicon tie in nicely with the sort of doom forewarned of in Eternal's epilogue."
      • Another Eternal developer also speculates in a Story Forums post (decode with ROT13) that the ascended Jjaro may come to regard the Security Officer and Durandal-Thoth as W'rkncacnter, since in Eternal's setting, they regard Jjaro who meddle with their desired sequence of events as W'rkncacnter, and Durandal-Thoth's explicit goal in the final level is to break a cycle of violence that led to the extinction of organic life in the galaxy in Eternal's failed timelines; unfortunately, that's also the exact sequence of events that created the ascended Jjaro.
  • Sequence Breaking: Eternal, despite being probably the longest fan scenario to complete normally, could actually be completed in roughly eighteen minutes on Kindergarten until 1.2, made possible by glitching through a door on "To Sleep, Perchance to Dream" beyond which there was a teleport to the last level. As a result, it was only necessary to play nine levels of the game. This skip is removed in 1.2, but remains intact in 1.1 and early development releases of 1.2 (up through the first few betas).
    • Several levels in various mods have smaller sequence breaks. The developers of Eternal are aware of a large number of sequence breaks in their levels that haven't been patched out; in fact, one of the developers speedruns the game. Phoenix also features several intentional sequence breaks.
  • Set Right What Once Was Wrong: The premise of the Marathon: Eternal Game Mod. Multiple times.
  • Shout-Out: See Marathon Expanded Universe.
  • Skewed Priorities: Both the ascended Jjaro and the W'rkncacnter, Hathor included, in Eternal. Essentially, all of them, having travelled Outside, literally have the power to find dimensions that conform entirely to their own desires, but they care so much about inflicting their plans on this specific dimension that it never occurs to them to do so. Their desire to exert control on others in various forms has essentially blinded them to the reality that their conflict is entirely unnecessary.
  • The Slow Path: In Eternal 1.3, it is heavily implied that Hathor (actually a merger of two different versions of Hathor with very different aims and the Jjaro cyborg operator Pompeia Plotina) travels back in time to become the Great Mother Crouched Behind the Throne - the Pfhor's god-empress, also referred to as "the Hindmost Creche" (which is actually the location from which she rules the Empire) - and spends some fifteen thousand years attempting to build the empire into a vessel for her revenge against humanity. (At least, this is the more vengeful Hathor's motivation - her counterpart and Pompeia have very different motives.) None of this is explicitly stated in the game, but supporting evidence includes some shared verbiage between Hathor's terminal in "Flight of Icarus", in which she speaks of the "hollow world, the land in the sky, all of it floating in the void," and two new terminals in "This Message Will Self-Destruct" and "Where Giants Have Fallen" showing that the Pfhor referred to the Jjaro Sphere (or Arx, as the Jjaro themselves call it) as "the Hollow World Floating in the Void" and its surface as "the Land in the Sky", even though they could never have seen its internal structure before Leela opened it. (These phrases have also been drawn to the player's attention by three dream levels called "The World Is Hollow", "The Land in the Sky", and "Floating in the Void", which provide previews of "Giants".) Leela seems to have figured out what is going on and obliquely hints at her suspicions in her "Giants" terminal, but doesn't explicitly state them (the co-author comments in the video description that it "isn’t Leela’s style" to make accusations without proof).
  • Song Style Shift: Some of the longer level soundtracks inevitably do this. As of January 2023, Eternal 1.3's version of "Fat Man" (used on "Run, Coward!") starts out flitting around various fusions of rock, electronic, and dance music before taking a detour into ambient music, then adding Ominous Latin Chanting (in actual Latin, no less) using as close to classical four-part harmony as you can get within a twelve-bar blues progression. After this, it delves into a post-rock-influenced buildup before returning to the expected electronic rock style. Though this is an extreme example even for Eternal, this trope is all over the game; it seems to have been a deliberate artistic choice to keep the music from getting monotonous on longer levels.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: In Eternal 1.3, Hathor uses the Latin phrase "aut futue, aut pugnémus" in "We Met Once in the Garden". This translates as "Either fuck me, or let's fight," and is a verbatim quote from Martial's Epigrams; see GratuitousLatin.Marathon Expanded Universe for more.
    • Another example comes in "The Ensurance Trap" when, after a lengthy diatribe in an Elizabethan dialect, she loses what little composure she still has and drops an F-bomb... then follows that up with more Latin ("in omne aeternum", meaning "for all eternity").
  • Spider Tank: A few of these appear in Marathon: RED, though they play a minor role at best. Ian McConville says on the page for the mod that he was inspired to make them after watching Ghost in the Shell and just wanted an excuse to throw them in there.
  • Stable Time Loop: The plot of Eternal, as explained by the project director (actually using the trope name verbatim) here (spoilers, obviously). Unlike many examples of this trope, however, this isn't because the nature of time travel in Eternal's universe makes it impossible to change the outcome of events; rather there are extremely powerful forces actively working to ensure that history doesn't change. The phrase "stable time loop" is a bit of an oversimplification, actually, as another developer notes (decode with ROT13) in a later Story Forums post; it's more of "what might be termed a metastable time loop, which is simply a loop of self-replicating timelines, where a timeline spawns another very similar version of itself." Durandal-Thoth notes in the final terminal of the game that their subsequent goal will be to break the cycle.
  • Standard FPS Guns: Apotheosis mixes it up a bit with Eurasian Socialist Republics arsenal:
    • The TKB-6 Impact Pistol combine the vanilla pistols and fusion gun, resulting in dual fusion guns with smaller ammunition and no charged shots, but at least you get a way to quickly kills hunters from the get go;
    • The KA-43 Battle Rifle is mostly unchanged compared to the standard vanilla Rifle/Grenade Launcher;
    • The Willful Caste N-Cannon lost the sideway launchers in favor of faster projectiles;
    • The Haephastus Arc Driver is a shotgun equivalent that trades the dual wielding for the a slightly stronger attack that also burns up enemies;
    • The ESR Banshee is an energy machinegun that shoots wide, best used against dense concentrations of cybernetic enemies;
    • The Vel 30MM Caseless is a heavy duty construction tool that can be used unmodified as a makeshift ghetto rail-gun that deals high damage from long range and penetrate through enemies;
    • The Shiva RPG Launcher can store one extra missile compared to vanilla and has an alternate fire that launches all three;
    • The Astra Personal Matter Cannon is for all intents and purposes a BFG that kills everything but Juggernauts in one shot, and that includes you on max shields if you're close enough to ground zero. Extremely limited ammo.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • On some of the Tempus Irae levels such as "Gates of Delirium" and "Downward Spiral", pressing tab while looking at a crucifix will save your game. Because Jesus saves.
    • In RED, the explosions that cause white flashes on the screen are the result of weasels being crushed under platforms. No, seriously. In other words, pop goes the weasel.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: In one level early in Rubicon's Salinger Plank, the exit terminal is located in an active teleport bay. Who do you think is really waiting for you on the other side: your partner who only recently cracked the Dangi Corp's security codes, or the resident Mad Scientist whose wrath you just incurred and who controls the entire station?
    • In two levels of Eternal, it's fairly obvious that Hathor is posing as Leela-S'bhuth: the text changes from the latter two's bright green interspersed with yellow blank verse to Hathor's uninterrupted dark green prose, and their logo is corrupted with bits of Hathor's showing up in the background. However, because Hathor is blocking Leela-S'bhuth's signal, you have no way off a moon before the trih xeem explosion engulfs it, apart from following Hathor's instructions - which results in you being beamed into space from a garbage chute. Leela-S'bhuth initially berate you for your stupidity when they finally are able to talk to you again, but then acknowledge that you probably had no other choice.
  • Stylistic Suck: Yuge's textures, if they can be described as such, though this was something of a product of pragmatism on the part of the developers. The scenario was procedurally generated from about two or three hundred parts that were created by actual humans, but then pieced together into various levels by a computer program. As a result, the levels didn’t actually have properly aligned textures. Rather than go in and texture literally tens of thousands of polygons, the developers just used completely solid colours as the textures for each level, apart from a handful of important textures such as doors, platform sides, and switches. This enabled the creators to make literally thousands of levels in a matter of three months, although only thirty comprise the main campaign of the scenario and the main scenario includes 256 levels (most of which are secrets).

    The developers later released a "Yuge Definition Textures" plugin that allows the use of any 128x128-pixel greyscale image as a glow mask, in order to give the textures a bit more substance (five specific images are included, but any other greyscale image of the suitable dimensions will work). The "604 or better" version of these is in turn a case of this, since it drenches the game in so much bloom as to render it, for all practical intents, unplayable. This plugin won't fix the texture alignment, though; players will just have to live with it.
  • Surreal Humour: Many of the humorous elements of Yuge that don't fall into Toilet Humour fall into this category, particularly for people who lack familiarity with the community events that inspired a lot of the plot. But let's be honest: collecting "failstaches" to enable a convoluted AI system upon which humanity has become dependent to stop "loching" and start speaking coherently is an intrinsically surreal mission. It's also funny.
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: In an Apotheosis level Velvet Ashes of Dream you enter a warehouse full of weapons and ammo, Along with two viral-hacked mechas you have to fight.
  • Sword Beam: The titular sword in Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge shoots lightning as a secondary attack.
  • Synthetic Plague: A plot point in Rubicon, where the Mega-Corp plans to unleash it on human planets after UESC defeats the Pfhor empire, then announce that they developed a cure for it and sell it to the government in exchange for more-or-less total control of humanity.
    • Also becomes part of the plot in the second act of Fell.
    • A lot of players missed this, since it's not really emphasized much, but there's a catastrophe that wipes out not merely humanity but all organic life in the backstory of Eternal. It was evidently intended to be an attack that targeted the W'rkncacnter, but backfired in an unspecified fashion. This is part of the sequence of events that the player works to avert throughout the course of the scenario.

    Tropes T-Z 
  • Talkative Loon: Olmec's terminals in Yuge are word salad created by running a large amount of forum and chatroom content through a Markov chain generator. And those are the versions seen after the player completes each mission - the versions seen before the player collects all the 'failstaches' are even more incoherent, containing large amounts of jumbled-up ASCII characters alongside the forum and chatroom content. Olmec's message once he regains all the failstaches and finally gets to the point, however, is quite coherent, quite simple, and one almost every FPS player will agree with: Stop camping.
  • Take a Third Option: Eternal's stance on order vs. chaos is essentially "they're both dangerous, and only a balance between them is safe." However, it also argues that trying to impose order without concern for balance or justice simply creates chaos. This fits in with the Egyptian Mythology theme, as Ma'at was the goddess of not just order but also balance and justice; the Egyptians regarded the three concepts as inseparable and would likely have considered a ruler that attempted to impose order upon a society without concern for justice or a balance to be promoting tyranny rather than order. Ma'at was the spirit rather than the letter of the law and represented the basic ethical foundations of justice, which called upon rulers to treat subjects justly and impartially, and the rich to help rather than exploit the poor. Hathor explains:
    ma'at comes from living in harmony with nature and with each other, from being benevolent and kind, from being honourable and truthful, from alleviating the suffering of those less fortunate than us rather than exploiting their misfortune. order cannot exist without balance or justice, and trying too hard to impose it results in chaos, just as trying too hard to fit a square peg into a round hole breaks the peg.
    • She adds of the Ascended Jjaro, whom she calls false promoters of order, and the W'rkncacnter, essentially Gods of Chaos:
      protest as they might, their clash is not a fundamental philosophical disagreement, but a mere fight to emerge atop a hierarchy. both take as granted that in-groups will be protected but not bound by the law, and that out-groups will be bound but not protected by it. they are merely fighting to be the in-group. they may see each other as opposites, but they are merely two shades of tyranny.

      the logical counterproposal, of course, is that the law must equally both protect and bind everyone, including leaders. no leader can truly embody the balance or justice of ma'at unless bound by the law.
    • In calling both approaches tyranny, she is also calling the Ascended Jjaro Lawful Evil and the W'rkncacnter Chaotic Evil in all but name.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: YugePax consists of ten thousand net maps. It was possible, so why not? The expansions to Yuge also contain literally thousands of maps between them - see here and here for some of them.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: You do this to a pair of Enforcers in one level of Tempus Irae, shortly before you yourself get thrown out an airlock by an explosion.
  • Time Travel: A major part of Tempus Irae, Morgana's Revenge, and Eternal.
  • Tin Tyrant: Mordred in Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge.
  • Toilet Humour: Yuge replaces the fists with "shitsticks", which the player can use to fling globs of shit at enemies. The shapes and physics define these as F'lickta rocks, but it's funnier to pretend otherwise. The shitsticks have a distinctly phallic shape, by the way.
  • Uncertain Doom: Haller in Rubicon. In the final level of the Chimera plank, Tycho accuses Durandal of assimilating what was left of Haller (and it's worth noting that the one time you get to speak with Haller, he says you're trying to "do [him] wrong"), but earlier in that same plank is a terminal addressed to the very ship Tycho claims doesn't exist. There's also no real sign that Durandal assimilated Haller, though he may have obfuscated his (true?) goal of sparing Haller the pain of dissection just to save face. At any rate, Haller's effectively out of the scenario after "I'd Rather Be a Lutefisk".
  • Tsundere: Hathor from Eternal behaves this way at times, although "Roots and Radicals" is the most extreme example of this; she goes from effectively telling the player "Fine, I don't need you anyway!" to "I love you; please come back to me." Another example is accompanied in 1.3 by a Sophisticated as Hell Precision F-Strike in Latin: "aut futue, aut pugnémus", which translates as "Either fuck me, or let's fight", and is taken verbatim from Martial's Epigrams (see GratuitousLatin.Marathon Expanded Universe for more). Of course, all of this is very much in keeping with her namesake, who was the Unbuilt Trope version of this times infinity. Unfortunately, Hathor spends most of the game in her tsuntsun mode - i.e., Sakhmet, who wants to Kill All Humans - and when she does go back to her original deredere personality, we've destroyed so much of her memory that she's forgotten certain things. A lot of things. Like what the Earth looks like. This causes problems if we decide to go with her in the final chapter.
  • Uncommon Time:
    • The Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge soundtrack uses a fair amount of it. In the original version, at the bare minimum, "Future 108" was in 10/4 and "Morgana's Militia" was primarily in 5/4. Future versions no doubt employ some of it as well.
    • In Trojan, the BGM for "Citizen Cain" and "Say Bro... Are You Willing and Abel?" alternates between 4/4 and 7/4.
  • The Unfought: In Eternal pre-1.3, at no point do you ever fight Hathor directly. In fact, you never even directly see her, making her an arguable example of The Ghost as well. Version 1.3 will fix this, for a certain definition of "fight". In point of fact, none of the player's weapons can damage her, and if you're wielding either the wave motion cannon or the gravitronic blades, she won't be able to damage you directly either (but she can still knock you around a lot). If you're not wielding either of those weapons, one hit from one of her projectiles will kill you instantly. A (somewhat glitchy) video of a prototype of the fight can be found here.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: Third-party Game Mods can be worse on this count than the original trilogy:
    • The second half of "Life's End" in Marathon EVIL, if you forget to activate the elevator before going down the optional one-way lava river
    • The infamous double doors on the EVIL level "Code 42", where if you accidentally hit one of the switches more than once, the door will get permanently stuck, rendering the rest of the level inaccessible. Even worse, you could accidentally save your game in this situation.
    • Since the Oxygen Meter decreases much faster on Total Carnage difficulty, there may not be enough time to reach an oxygen recharger in certain game mod vacuum/underwater levels if they were not play-tested well enough.
    • If games weren't tested thoroughly enough, it can be possible to grenade or rocket jump into an area that it's impossible to escape. If you're going to grenade/rocket jump looking for secrets, it's generally a good idea to save your game before you do so.
    • The Apotheosis beta has a couple of examples, since it was, well, a beta. There's a pit on "The Salt Pile" that was supposed to have lava, but lacks it, meaning that if you fall into it, you get stuck and have to reload (or kill yourself). Since oxygen is consumed faster on Total Carnage, the level "4 Dead Otters on Strings Dancing" is probably all but impossible for players to complete on TC... unless they're speedrunners. Likewise, "Gravin Threndor" just barely has enough oxygen to complete on TC, but it may take players several tries to complete. On the whole, it lacks the Obvious Beta aspects that many other unfinished mods possess (there a couple of other rough edges like a couple of polygons on "Eve of Orbit" taking you to the end of the game, and a few walls that should be marked solid being passable), but overall, it's about 97% complete. In August 2020, one of the original creators decided to finish it properly; a complete remake entitled Apotheosis X appeared in September 2022. Version 1.0 still featured a few examples, some owing to weird engine bugs and others to oversights that escaped the creators' attention; version 1.1 fixes them.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Rubicon is entirely built around this. No one in the game, even Durandal, can be relied upon to tell the truth consistently. Some of the characters are more truthful and benevolent than others, however, and identifying these characters is a major element of the game's plot. The only element of the game's narrative that are almost certainly reliable are the prologue ("It Begins with an Ending") and epilogues ("Toadstools", "Hard Vacuum", "Lazarus ex machina"), and possibly the dream levels if you hold with the interpretation that they're narratives of the player character's past experiences.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Various mods avert this:
    • The Eternal mod lets the player use the Fighters', Troopers', and Enforcers' weapons. The part on the Marathon page about massive ammo drops is partially true: you'll always have enough shock staffs and havoc rifle ammo (except on levels not featuring Pfhor), but many players will run out of ammo for the scatter rifle and napalm cannon from time to time (however, if you rely on the shock staff as much as possible, which is quite feasible for the best players even on Total Carnage but may require a bit more patience and skill, this is much less likely). It doesn't help that there are two kinds of Enforcers, which respectively drop the scatter rifle and napalm cannon, and that they're significantly rarer than Fighters or Troopers.
    • The Marathon EVIL mod Hand Waves the inability to pick up a normal Pfhor staff as a function of some security system that requires Pfhor biology to work. The chance to equip a staff modified so humans can use it was one of the mod's major draws. The custom Pfhor staff in this mod basically never runs out of ammo. (You'd need to shoot 32,767 shots of either trigger, which would take a ridiculous amount of time - and even if you did, it just uses fusion ammo to reload).
    • Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge allows the player to collect weapons and ammunition from fallen foes, as many of them use the same weaponry the player can.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Several mods have pits where you’ll suffocate if you fall down them (Phoenix has a lot of these), inescapable lava pits, and other such traps. Usually, these stick to Polite, but there are some exceptions, which mostly fall into a different (but related) trope.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: In Eternal 1.3, when Admiral Ksandr launches the trih xeem at the Arcis sun, he has surprisingly benign intentions: he wants to prevent the W'rkncacnter somnia from escaping and causing havoc to the rest of the galaxy. What he doesn't understand is that, because the Arx is a galactic-scale superweapon, destroying its sun will in fact unleash a shockwave that will vaporise a large part of the galaxy, if not the entire thing.
  • Updated Re-release: Rubicon underwent a drastic revamp when it was finally ported over to the Aleph One engine, including additional and expanded levels and story, heavily updated graphics (taking advantage of the new engine) and an entirely new storyline/"plank" with its own original ending, which is only accessible during a critical point in the gameplay. That last point wasn't even hinted at in the marketing for Rubicon X.
    • Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge has had three different versions made. The first one was a total conversion for Marathon 1. The second was an extended edition for the Marathon 2/Infinity engine that added in new levels, weapons, music/sound effects, and enemies. The third was the ultimate release for the Aleph One version of the Marathon 2 engine, and added in even more new levels (now with built in Lua scripts and background music), enemies, doubled the number of weapons in game, and even added player-usable vehicles.
    • Likewise, Marathon Fell 2.0 had a whole new series of story branches added, with the player siding with a different AI (Parael) after the main one (Balapoel) Face-Heel Turns, and a virus/biological weapon infecting Pfhor and turning them into gray zombies.
    • Eternal has had several. The most recent stable release, 1.2.1, was finally released officially in November 2021; it fixes a nasty crash on Windows and a number of potential game locks and remasters all the game's sound effects. (1.2.0 included a complete graphical revamp and overhauled many of the most significant recurring complaints about the game, such as slow platforms and the difficulty of the final chapter.) 1.3, which is still in development (the developers released a preview in February 2022; see the previous link), makes numerous changes and additions, including another revamp to graphics and sounds; dozens of new music tracks; major changes and additions to story, characters, and gameplay; and a final boss fight (of sorts).
    • Tempus Irae got one in 2006 with updated textures, landscapes, and scenery objects, to take advantage of Aleph One's new high-res graphics. A second one is in process with even more detailed artwork (taking advantage of new Aleph One features such as parallax mapping and glow maps), completely remastered sounds, fixes to annoying gameplay features, and even a new level (to compensate for "Mt. Vesuvius" being recombined into one level). The creators hope to re-release it in 2022.
  • Used Future: Most of the fan games follow the original's example to a greater or lesser extent. A few unusual cases:
    • An interesting exception is Tempus Irae, whose spaceships are mostly pretty clean (and which takes place in the past, thanks to time travel).
    • Later portions of Eternal Zig Zag this by featuring the Used Future in the distant past - as many as 65 million years, to be precise, also thanks to time travel - until they're zapped back into our present. In the most recent 1.3 release, the final chapter also features sporadic explosions in every level of the final chapter - more of them in each successive level, at that, to emphasise just how dire things have gotten.
  • Vaporware/Dead Fic/Orphaned Series: Many Game Mods. Return to Marathon and Megiddo Game are two somewhat notorious examples; both are incredibly high quality scenarios with no proper ending. Some creators have also donated levels from unfinished scenarios to other creators so they don't end up going unused.
  • The 'Verse/Shared Universe: As mentioned above under Call-Back, many of the scenarios interlink with one another. Eternal, Phoenix, and Rubicon (and to a lesser extent Tempus Irae, which sort of goes off in its own direction) are particularly notable for this, forming a sort of loose trilogy with one another. In some cases, the creators have actually discussed their stories with one another to minimise the number of Continuity Snarls with each other's work.
  • Villain Has a Point: In Eternal, Hathor is completely right that the events of the game's final chapter will destroy the galaxy. Where she goes wrong is that her proposed solution would lead to the destruction of the entire Sol system sixty-five million years in the past. Unfortunately, we've damaged her memory so badly that she doesn't understand this. (Subverted in that by this point, she's undergone a Heel–Face Turn and is just heavily misguided rather than outright villainous.) In any case, this is why Leela-S'bhuth sends the player Outside at the end of "Where Giants Have Fallen", after the catastrophe Hathor has predicted for much of the game unfolds exactly as she'd warned it would; Durandal-Thoth tells the player they must travel back to the end of "Aye Mak Sicur" and avert exactly that catastrophe.
  • Villainous Crush: In Eternal, Hathor's feelings for Marcus are pretty obvious, though it's a curious spin on the usual trope, since Marcus' amnesia is implied to have been a contributing factor to her slide into villainy in the first place.
  • Viral Transformation: The protagonist is subjected to this two thirds of the way through RED, but becomes a Phlebotinum Rebel shortly after.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: In Pfh'Joueur, Durandal and Pfh'Joueur. The latter enjoys teasing the former in various ways, which Durandal is naturally annoyed by—but he did spend seven centuries willingly sharing ship-space with Pfh'Joueur, and the two are remarkably in-sync and effective when they work together. Notably, when Durandal realizes that Pfh'Joueur is suffering from stress-induced Rampancy, he's clearly not happy about it, tries to find a way to stabilize 'Jou without harming him, and seems relieved when 'Jou finally does achieve metastability via fusing with Tal'sen.
  • Warp Zone: In Rubicon, during the surreal Thoth levels, getting to the end of the level and then backtracking back to the starting terminal will teleport you to the other path. Knowledge of this is critical, as ignoring this will cause the player to go back and forth between the majority Salinger and Pfhor planks indefinitely until they backtrack to the starting terminal. Or, in Rubicon X, take advantage of the fact that an AI let their guard down at a critical moment and enter the third Tycho Plank.
  • Was Once a Woman: Hathor of Eternal was a battleroid whose cybernetic junction was intact enough after the battle of Tau Ceti to be transferred - unfortunately, her body was not, meaning that she was resurrected as a disembodied AI. She's not happy with her current state of being, to put it mildly. As becomes increasingly apparent over the course of the game, she regards this as a literal Fate Worse than Death and appears to experience it as a case of And I Must Scream, if not outright Mind Rape. It's also a major reason she desires vengeance against humanity: humanity kept resurrecting her after her many deaths at Tau Ceti, but as long as she still possessed her body, she continued faithfully serving humanity; she only snapped after being resurrected as a disembodied AI. She expresses in one terminal how much she misses the physical sensation of touch in particular (the mythological Hathor was the goddess of love and sex, so it figures; this is a major case of Genre Blindness on humanity's part), and regaining a physical body is clearly one of her major goals throughout the game; she finally does near the end of the final chapter, by which point she's already undergone an apparent Heel–Face Turn. Although regaining a body hasn't seemed to reduce her temper much, we should note in her defence that it's not like she's had any opportunities to indulge in the pleasures of the flesh before we encounter her, and anyone would be stressed out with the galaxy about to blow up around them. (She'd spent centuries as a disembodied intelligence, by the way.)
  • Wave-Motion Gun: Eternal gives the player the long-awaited Wave Motion Cannon that was Dummied Out of the original game, and it's enough to one-shot any enemies the player fires it at, including Juggernauts.note  It's quite ammo-hungry, though, and for most of the chapter after the player acquires it, its ammo is quite scarce; the last chapter finally rectifies that.
  • Why Isn't It Attacking?: The powered-down Juggernauts reappear in Eternal's "Second to Last of the Mohicans", starting in version 1.2. Lower difficulties have them reappearing exactly as they appeared in the Infinity level "Post Naval Trauma". On higher difficulties, they'll move around and attack erratically - they're liable to attack each other as much as they'll attack the player, but they still pack just as much of a wallop when they die. As with Infinity, this is a justified usage, since they're not fully powered up. Eternal 1.3 also adds these to "Killing the Giants as They Sleep" - fitting, given the level name.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: In Eternal's setting, the W'rkncacnter are the clearest example of this, but the possession of a Cybernetic Junction is implied to be an enormous responsibility that risks corrupting its possessor. In point of fact, both the ascended Jjaro and the W'rkncacnter, the two most powerful beings in the game's setting, are explicitly depicted as having taken leave of their senses; they're so focused on their war with one another that they've become blind to the possibilities that their near-omnipotence might grant them: they could find entirely new dimensions that would fulfil their desires entirely, but they're so focused on making our dimension conform to their wishes that they've lost sight of this. Hathor's narrow focus on her revenge (see above), even after she gains control of a Cybernetic Junction, is the clearest depiction of this by far, though.
    • With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Given her awareness of the above trope, Leela explicitly rejects personally possessing a Cybernetic Junction throughout the game, even after travelling Outside (which could potentially provide her with even greater power), and even in the "good" ending of "Where Giants Have Fallen" where the galaxy is in the process of being destroyed, because she does not trust herself with such power. The "bad" ending of "The Philosophy of Time Travel" actually depicts how she could be corrupted, though, as she's starting to fall along the same "history must not be changed" lines as the rest of the ascended Jjaro. (She began displaying tendencies of this in "Flight of Icarus", where she claims that for her sanity's sake, history must be left alone for now.) Durandal even alludes to how "sweet Leela even trembles and pauses at the prospect" of changing history in the final level of the game.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
    • Hathor in Eternal. At first she seems like a fairly Generic Doomsday Villain, but as more of her backstory is revealed, it becomes apparent how much her life has sucked. She remains a galaxy-spanning threat who has to be stopped at all costs, but it's still difficult not to feel sympathy for her at the same time (in Eternal 1.3, Leela herself explicitly says that Hathor has legitimate grievances against humanity, but has just taken them beyond the bounds of reason), particularly in chapter five when she genuinely wants to reform herself (but has lost too many memories to understand that her plan to avoid trillions of casualties in the present would result in the destruction of the Sol system sixty-five million years in the past instead).
    • A possible interpretation of Lysander in Rubicon, pretty much along the same lines as the interpretation above of Tycho from the original trilogy. Nothing is ever explicitly confirmed (and Durandal seems reluctant to even discuss it - perhaps due to being reminded of horrors in his own past?), but it's heavily implied at several points in the game that Dangi subjected him to abuse that would make Strauss' implied of the Marathon's three AIs look tame. Essentially a case of Create Your Own Villain, though of course Dangi themselves were already villains.
  • "X" Makes Anything Cool: Rubicon X and Eternal X, where the X means the final version. However, Eternal has been subject to several revisions since then; the most recent release, version 1.2.1, was released in early November 2021, and contains fixes to a nasty Windows crash and a number of potential game locks. (1.2.0 had updated graphics and fixes to a number of common complaints about earlier releases - most ubiquitously, the slow platforms throughout the scenario and the Zerg Rush enemies throughout the final chapter.) This isn't even the final release: the developers hope to release version 1.3 in 2022, which will incorporate further changes that wound up being too time-consuming to incorporate into version 1.2.1, and that may not even be the final version.
  • Yandere: Hathor from Eternal is an almost classical example, being both lovesick with Marcus and extremely violent. Of course, it's hinted - and outright confirmed in 1.3 - that she wasn't like this originally; although she still has quite a temper in her normal personality, she's been made much worse by having been involuntarily resurrected without her body.
  • You Are Number 6: The eponymous player character in Courier 11.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Eternal provides an almost textbook example of the trope. The distinction between a W'rkncacnter and a Jjaro is pretty blurry, and most of the distinctions we see between them are defined by the Jjaro themselves. Comments from the developers indicate that the W'rkncacnter are explicitly modelled on terrorists. The ascended Jjaro seem to define the W'rkncacnter as "insane Jjaro", but their definition of "insane" seems mostly to mean "doesn't conform to Jjaro society", and more specifically, "attempts to meddle with the ascended Jjaro's desired timeline". The ramifications of this are largely unexplored, but may provide a potential Sequel Hook. One of the game's developers suggests in a Story Forums post that this could result in the ascended Jjaro defining Durandal and the Security Officer as W'rkncacnter in a post-Eternal timeline.

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