tl;dr version: This has nothing to do with game mechanics. Instead, this is a lore post -designed to track down the storyline behind RO, and hopefully motivate some fanfiction writers.
Purpose: To discuss and share lore.
Administrative stuff: Still cleaning up grammar and thoughts and whatnots.
Updated on April 20th: Thanatos Tower, a little to the bottom of this page.
Actual post: Yes. You heard me right. RO has a story. Gravity created one entirely by accident - a story that rivals everything from L2 to WoW to [insert other MMO here]. This is mostly ramble, speculation, and a lot of in-depth analysis that probably should have been spent on better things such as hunting gear or you know, playing the game.
If, on the other hand, you would like to have your mind blown by what Gravity has subtly hidden, then ... read on. I'll probably be updating periodically after sorting through screenshots and making some sense of the notes I've taken while playing the game.
Section I: The Rekenber Corporation.
As some of you may know, I hang out in Lighthalzen. In game, the city-state is pretty much entirely driven by the Rekenber Corporation. In order to sort out the mysteries behind this particular corporation, we need to look at what the game actually give us in terms of plot.
Let's start with the Einbroch murder quest. Even though the only thing we've seen inside that lab is a broken (albeit, artificial!) Heart of Ymir, we know from the Airship quest that the Heart of Ymir is pretty RO's equivalent of nuclear fission. We know that the Heart of Ymir underneath Yuno supplies enough power to float an entire city, in addition to allowing our players to reborn. So, at the very least, we know that the RKB is involved in its research given what we know from the Murder in Einbroch and the President quests.
We can therefore also infer the following details: when it comes to the Heart of Ymir, the RKB Corps is involved in structural analysis and research, while the Einbroch labs are responsible for its applicative research. This conclusion is reasonable. The Heart of Ymir acts as a powerful energy source that could be used for ... just about everything.
However, given that the Heart of Ymir is a vital energy source, the security around the laboratories is unusually lax. Even given the author’s familiarity with a research setting (in which the casual atmosphere is purposefully maintained), it seems a little suspicious that even the headquarters could be broken into with a simple disguise. This goes far beyond with what one would expect from a realistic corporation.
Another mystery to add onto the pile is the quest NPC Ghalstein. We learn that in his 20s, he was the assistant of the one of the pseudo-legendary founders of the RKB corporation. There is one little problem here. That particular scientist joined the corporation nearly one hundred and fifty years ago. Either RO has a distinctively different system of aging, or something fishy is going on.
So, what is the true purpose of the RKB corporation? Here is what we do know. We know that it is a vital aspect of the Schwartzwald Republic. All of the kingdom’s industry is concentrated, more or less, in Einbroch and Lighthalzen. We know that its primary venue for revenue comes from piloting the airships, mining and refining ores, and also exploring ancient ruins. Other than that, its function seems to be similar to the Kafra –
An interrupted note here. It is amazing how a corporation could grow so rapidly. In less than two centuries, their power rivaling that of the Kafra, which more or less has been around since forever*
*A note. On the official Chinese servers, they’re also responsible for distributing the cash-mall items. While cash mall, obviously, have no bearing on the plot, it is amusing to think of the RKB has fourth-wall breaking abilities.
So, from the surface, we can’t really see anything wrong with the corporation. All of their businesses seem to be legal.
Seem, right? Let’s see of all the places the RKB has become involved in.
- Abandoned Coal Mines (Mjolnir): Only dead miners here.
- Doll Factory (Kiel): We cannot say for sure whether or not this place was due to RKB’s direct influence, but we definitely know that the RKB played a role in it.
- Thanatos Tower: I really, really don’t need to comment on what went on here, right? Monsters got unleashed, bad things happened, people died.
- Ruins of Juperos. Same as above.
- Lastly, Somatology Labs.
Biolabs, as the Somatology Laboratory is more commonly known, is probably the most obvious one. What we can see from the quests that involve the RKB corporation is downright chilling. Anyone who is close to the center of the corporation or is deemed suspicious will be dead. Examples include the old man in Einbroch Murder Quest, that one guy who died in the Friendship quest, the killer who committed suicide in the Lovers quest, and Shinokas, your spy in the first part of the President’s quest… the list goes on.
Here is where the Biolabs come in.
The first floor seems to be very … normal. There are things like podiums, stairs, carpet, and things like that. If we explore the lab further, we notice that other than some artificial lawns and a boatload of security-esque checkpoint like doors (and the hordes of angry, vengeful firefighters and 1-1 classes), the place is normal. It makes the player go "Huh, you know, people could've lived here, or used the spaces here. And people can probably still do."
In comparison, the second floor shows signs of obvious fire damage. The lightning grows dimmer. Half the vats are overturned or broken. There are a lot less firefighters here, and, in addition, it has one thing that is prevalent in many, many creepy sci-fi mad science labs: nutrient tanks, which seems to be absent on the third floor. Makes you wonder just exactly what was going on - or perhaps the tanks in the third floor has been destroyed?
In the third floor, the whole place seems to have been destroyed. The lighting is chilling, and this does not look habitable at all - in fact, the players emerge from what seems to be a pile of rubble. Again, charred remains of various kinds of lab equipment lie strewn about, and most of the area has signs of fire damage. The only reasonable conclusion (and an obvious one): one really big fire. The fire, then, seems to have started on the 3rd floor, and spread out towards the second, then the first.
Hmm. Nutrient tanks. What did the RKB study before? The Heart of Ymir, only this world’s most powerful energy source?
You put two and two together, and it is very reasonable to conclude that the true purpose of the Somatology (literal meaning “body) Laboratory is to forcefully infuse the power of the Heart of Ymir into living creatures, circumventing the training they would have needed regularly, and creating a monstrous clone army. This is obvious, and I'm certain most other players have already thought of it before I posted. As for what the hell do they want to do with it? Beats me. But remember: the leveling process in Ragnarok represents an adventurer becoming stronger and stronger. It seems to be that the RKB is simply trying to accelerate that process… with some curious results.
Wait, you say. This doesn’t explain why or how there are monsters present. If there was a giant fire, shouldn’t everything have burned up instead?
Not quite. This brings us to our second point of discussion: The biological weapon quest. In the first line of the introduction of the biolabs quest, they tell us that the research specialization of the lab is viruses and biological enhancements. So, it’s pretty damn obvious, then: the Somatology lab is also researching biological weapons.
From a real life biologist-in-training’s perspective, viruses are very difficult to isolate. Special protective materials are necessary. It wouldn’t be a stretch to guess that the fire may have destroyed whatever protective vessel that held the viruses within. With the Heart of Ymir fragment acting as a huge power source, and the Medicine/Biological Weapon quests hinting at the virus originating from the Heart of Ymir, we could reasonably infer that the virus itself was a highly infectious agent, located in the third floor. As the fire occurred, destroying the vessels containing them, the following may have happened.
- Due to the laws of diffusion, the virus is at the highest concentration on the 3rd floor, followed by the second, and then the first.
- Removers are firefighters who were either reanimated or infected by the virus. The lack of Removers on the third floor is due to the concentration of the virus: they would not have had a chance to fight the fires on the third floor as they would have been infected the second they entered the lab.
- The fires on the third floor burned out naturally, which explains the extent of damage.
- As for the actual fire itself, there is no way of knowing what started it. If the virus is indeed from the Heart of Ymir (related quests), or the Heart of Ymir acts as the power source that is used to create powerful biological weapons, then it may be that the RKB corporation itself lost control of their agents, and the fire was caused by the RKB in an attempt to stop their own weapons from turning on them.
- The humanoid mobs are reanimated by the virus (if dead), or infected by the virus (if still living). Either way, the Heart of Ymir grafted onto their bodies may confer special resistance, which explains why they aren’t turned into undead, unlike the normal firefighters (Removers).
A clue is further given with the mob distribution. Since we know that a large fire has occurred in the lab before, we could reasonably infer that the monstrosities created here do not yet meet whatever standards the RKB has. In addition, we know from pilfering the lab notes in the quest that the experiments themselves seem to involve purifying the Heart of Ymir, and artificially replacing the heart within an individual. It is likely that a large degree of unfortunate people died gruesomely here, with those who may survive being transferred onto the second floor.
Notice the drops of the Biolab mobs – Research Charts (A chart, written in a language you can't recognize, that details the history of research) and Handcuffs (A pair of metal restraints which still seem to smell of blood), and it is not a far stretch to assume that the Heart of Ymir does something to its users, which provides power (reborning, perhaps?). Those who survive the experiment is transferred into the 3rd floor, and further experimented on.
Given the statistics of the normal 1-1 mobs, they were likely failures as experiments. Even so, their strength is far beyond what a normal human (player)’s power would be at those levels. The disproportionately large number of bodies needed for these things probably comes from the slums nearby, where the residents are cajoled, kidnapped, or lured into the lab to be experimented on. We’ve got the NPCs from the slums to back up this particular claim.
This explains why all the NPCs who ended up finding out about the lab or the core of the research group are murdered. You simply cannot let a secret like this out – it’s against the morals of the RO world, and it’s probably going against the way of the gods as well. The proof to the RKB’s ability to silence individuals is that until the player is involved, the higher-ups of Lighthalzen has no idea at all as to what was going on in there. The experiments, as we have discovered in the biolab quest, has been going on for at least fifty years.
But that isn’t all. Let us finally turn our attention towards the mobs on the third floor – the transcendent classes. Out of the six individuals present, we should begin to see some patterns.
- Howard Alt-Eisen: People who did the Sign Quest should recognize the name – or some aspect of it. The NPC who repairs the Sign is, incidentally, also named Howard. Engel Howard. Notice the similarities. Then note that in a particular dialogue, Howard (the living Smith) tells you that his father disappeared some years ago, leaving him to take the family trade…
- Kathryne Keyron: The old Wizard Job Change Quest text has the girl on top of Geffen Tower introduce herself as Kathryne. Incidentally, they shared a similar hairstyle. Of course, whether or not they’re the same person is another story…
- Margaretha Sorin: Redemptio Quest. Sister Linus tells you her story. Young nun who was prompted to High Priestess after saving her party’s life and discovering Redemptio in the process. She left a few years ago on a mission to Lighthalzen, and hasn’t been heard from since. Her name? Priestess Sorin. High Priestess Margaretha Sorin. I am personally convinced that this is the strongest evidence for the RKB's experimentation, and for all we know, the MVP could, quite literally, be her.
- Seyren Windsor: Part of the God items Quest, and you’ll meet him as one of the NPCs on the Megingard quest.
- Cecile Damon: Archer job quest, that huntress you meet? Yeah, same person.
- Eremes Guile: Out of the six Biolabs NPCs, this is the only person that I cannot uncover any information. Perhaps I missed someone somewhere along the way, but …
If the other mobs are simply clones of the original, then it is reasonable to infer that the MVPs in Somatology Labs 3 are the people you’ve either met or heard of in the game, and that they are probably the prototypes for whatever twisted thing that the RKB came up with. It is interesting to see that the LK and SinX is no longer Demi-Human, but Demon.
Why Demon? Perhaps Seyren and Eremes are the ones who were experimented upon first, and thus, their infections and mutations are more complex. Or that when the researchers were about to turn on the other four, that fire occurred, rendering the lab useless and halting the experiment. Without the equipment keeping the Heart of Ymir, the biological weapon, and their powerful research subjects in check, experimentation has to be stopped.
So, then, the humanoid mobs found in the Biolabs are either still-living, but infected by the agents, or that they are dead but is kept in a stage of unlife by that biological weapon that the RKB was developing. While the official description explains it as “angry, vengeful spirits of the people experimented on,” it makes one wonder why they didn’t try to take over Lighthalzen or at least extract revenge on the people who likely caused their death in the first place.
One possible interpretation may be that they are truly dead – but the biological agent keeps them “living.” Given that the virus is contained inside the laboratory, they simply cannot step out of it because the lab is self-contained. So they're almost like zombies in that regard.
Coming up next: City Politics. Hugel, Rachel, and more plotting.