I am blown away by Thane Krios, but not necessarily for the reason(s) you might think.
Yes, Thane is handsome and has that other thing going on. Yes, he’s an amazing match for fem!Shep, and yes, I cried bitterly at the denouement. But the thing that really gets to me about Thane is not his charisma, or his tortured acceptance of where his life will end up; it’s his religious practice that continually rocks my world.
Amonkira, Lord of Hunters,
Grant that my hands be steady, my aim be true, and my feet swift.
And should the worst come to pass, grant me forgiveness. – Thane Krios, Mass Effect 2.
While it is the relationship between fem!Shep and Garrus Vakarian (GARRUS!) that keeps me playing Mass Effect 2 and 3 over and over again, Thane’s storyline and interactions with fem!Shep are a close second.
I’m not new to religion in video games (not by a long shot!), and I’ve written before about using gaming to work through aspects of my personal religious practice. The Divines and Daedra; Yevon; Andraste and the Chantry – I’ve happily mulled them over and applied their concepts to my own practice without crossing the line that so many people have between “fantasy” and “reality”. And yet, when Thane came along and spoke of Amonkira, and Arashu, and Kalahira, I paused to reconsider. These three deities have weight behind them, and I found myself going through Thane’s prayers and dialogue and the codex entries for drell religion over and over again. And the more I went over it, and the more I thought about them, the more I wondered about whether Thane’s beliefs had anything for me.
“You still haven’t told me what a siha is.”
“One of the warrior-angels of the goddess Arashu. Fierce in wrath. A tenacious protector.”
fem!Shep and Thane Krios – Mass Effect 2
If we take what is in the codex at face value, Thane is polytheistic, as were the drell as a people before being exposed to other ways of thinking about their place in the universe. Three gods are named by Thane in Mass Effect 2 – Amonkira, Lord of Hunters, Arashu, Goddess of Motherhood and Protection, and Kalahira, Goddess of Oceans and Afterlife. There’s a hint of more in the way he speaks, though…at least, to me. Thane also believes, as do the drell (again, according to the codex), that body and soul are separate entities but act in concert in a Whole Person, and that death is a departure from the body.
Kalahira, mistress of inscrutable depths, I ask forgiveness.
Kalahira, whose waves wear down stone and sand –
Kalahira, wash the sins from this one,
And set him on the distant shore of the infinite spirit. – Thane Krios, Mass Effect 3.
There are a couple of things that strike me about the religious system. First, it is clearly only partially described and while I am sure this is because the writers/creators of the universe didn’t want to delve any deeper it feels like documentation was lost rather than never present. This feeling of mine appears to be corroborated in a couple of ways: (1) the drell home world was destroyed by over-industrialization and is now a cemetery planet; the population that did not die out was mostly evacuated; (2) reference is made to a drell speaking as the priests do when he prays, which reminds me of the lack of non-priestly documentation available for modern Kemetics.
Kalahira, this one’s heart is pure,
But beset by wickedness and contention.
Guide this one to where the traveler never tires,
The lover never leaves, the hungry never starve.
Guide this one, Kalahira,
And she will be a companion to you as she was to me.
– Kolyat Krios and fem!Shep – Mass Effect 3
Second, the way that Thane invokes the names of his deities leads me to believe that they were gods of the people, despite the apparent lack of documentation. Lord of Hunters; Goddess of Motherhood and Protection; Goddess of Oceans and Afterlife – all are epithets that (to me) connect deity to daily life. To a people on a desert planet, pre-industrialization, what makes more sense than to ask the Divine for aid with the tasks of daily life? What could be more inscrutable than the depths of the ocean to the same people?
Third, no matter the lack of hard documentation and the (apparent) reliance on UPG, Thane’s gods have evolved and remain relevant. Amonkira can be invoked in the name of a different kind of hunt; Arashu continues to oversee parenting and protection of the weak; Kalahira can be extrapolated to not only encompass the oceans, but space – she is the Space Between and it is this particular thing that draws me to her. Oceans/Space as Afterlife rings true for me – primeval waters from which we are born and to which we return. In fact, if I can get past the hurdle in my brain, it is likely I’m going to start exploring Kalahira as Lady of the Stars.
“Kolyat? Why did the last verse say “she”?”
“The prayer was not for him, Commander. He has already asked forgiveness for the lives he has taken. His wish…was for you.”
fem!Shep and Kolyat Krios – Mass Effect 3
I am forever changed…and this can only be a good thing.