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This article is about The Architects in Below Zero. For the related article on the Subnautica Wiki, see Precursor Race.
The Architects is the name given by Alterra to a species of highly advanced and ancient space-faring beings that arrived on Planet 4546B approximately one thousand years ago, searching for a cure for the Kharaa Bacterium. Most information surrounding them is currently unknown. Though a living member who goes by the name Al-An is present in Below Zero.

Biology

Prior to being uploaded to Data Hubs, members of the Architects were non-bipedal (whether this refers to a quadrupedal mode of movement or another kind of movement is yet to be seen) and were approximately 50% larger than the average human, putting them at around 9 feet tall by today's figures. They are also seemingly able to transfer consciousness' through multiple bodies without any ill effects. According to Al-An, his kind are able to see beyond the physical realm, but are not above it.

Architects were most likely composed of both organic and mechanical parts, given that they were infected with Kharaa, and the bacterium was "uploaded" to their core worlds. The term of "seed" used in their description could refer to an organic seed, or possibly one inside a computer. Al-An claims that "My kind navigates spacetime in conjunction with bio-mechanical vessels, altered and evolved over time to serve our needs", which implies that the Architects were biomechanical in nature and had actually augmented their species to suit their needs, with bodies being easily replaceable. Al-An states that his kind had a original form which they threw away because it was hardly useful. This comment also confirms that they are part mechanical.

They are known to have had an extremely long lifespan, as evidenced in a data bank entry by the mention of a ninety-six year old Architect being considered very young. The same individual was near 700 Earth-years old (born 1,708 Earth-years ago) when its body became infected after the Kharaa outbreak and the consciousness was stored in a data hub. It is unknown if this lifespan is naturally long, or augmented like Paul Torgal’s, who had expected to live to the age of 160. Most likely it is a combination of the two.

Story

Sector Zero (Story events of Subnautica: Below Zero)

The Architects had a presence in the planet's arctic regions as well as the crater, and Architect structures will be present in Subnautica: Below Zero. At least three bases are known in the region as well as a conscious member of the race known as Al-An.

During the course of the game, Robin must build Al-An a new body using the discarded parts of other Architects.

Crater Events (Story events of Subnautica)

Around 1000 years ago, after exploring a planet for routine expansion, the Architects came across the Kharaa Bacterium, and, most likely discovering it's lethality and indirectly causing it to infect their species, go to various planets in order to develop a cure. One of the outposts they set up for research was on 4546B, and there, the Architects installed the Disease Research Facility, Alien Thermal Plant, and Quarantine Enforcement Platform to assist them in their research. The Disease Research Facility serving as a means to test the bacterium on native creatures and to construct and repair their enforcers, the Warpers. The aforementioned creature was a biomechanical creation of the Architect, having taken a creature and augmented it. Their purpose was to keep the bacterium's spread to a minimum. During the construction of this facility, it is likely the Architects discovered the Gargantuan Fossil and the Ancient Skeleton, with the Architect setting up a laboratory near the remains of the latter.

The Alien Thermal Plant served to power the remaining Architect Bases. The Architects had discovered 4546B's natural thermal energy, and installed the plant within the Lava Castle as a means of utilizing it. The Quarantine Enforcement Platform was constructed to prevent any unauthorized ship from landing or leaving. Among the bases, the Architects built three Sanctuary Caches in the Deep Sparse Reef, Northern Blood Kelp Zone, and inside a meteor crater within the Dunes. These Caches served as a failsafe should the bacterium be unleashed onto the planet. Inside the Caches, the Architects installed Data Hubs as a means of keeping them alive when their physical body could no longer be used.

After testing on multiple creatures, the Architects discovered a Sea Emperor Leviathan specimen that was immune to Kharaa due to a unique digestive enzyme it produces, dubbed Enzyme 42. The Architects then constructed a fourth base, the Primary Containment Facility in the Lava Lakes biome in close proximity to the Alien Thermal Plant for the sole purpose of containing a Sea Emperor Leviathan specimen for research. They obtained a 1600-year old Sea Emperor Leviathan that had recently laid seven eggs, implying they must have ambushed the creature when it came to lay its eggs. Through unknown means the Sea Emperor was transported to within facility's aquarium. However, it is revealed to them that their captive is too old to produce a stable variant of the enzyme, the weaker enzyme produced by it only capable of causing remission of Kharaa. The Architects then turned to its eggs, deducing that the young Emperors would produce a more stable enzyme. However, they could not figure out how to make the eggs hatch. The Architects then took one of the eggs and dissected it, although this resulted in the death of the fetus and it was unable to produce the enzyme. The Sea Emperor Leviathan tried to communicate with the Architects using its own telepathy, attempting to tell them that it's children could not be forced from their eggs, and they must hatch when ready. Despite the Architects themselves using telepathy, they were unable to hear the Sea Emperor Leviathan's telepathic speech. At some point a second egg was removed from the seven and placed within the facility's egg lab.

After discovering the possible relation between the Sea Emperor Leviathan species and Sea Dragon Leviathans, the Architects took an egg from a Sea Dragon Leviathan and planned on studying it, hoping to discover how the Sea Emperor Leviathan eggs hatched without losing more of their precious Sea Emperor eggs. However, the parent of the stolen egg tracked it down to the Disease Research Facility, and rammed into the base's support cables, causing severe physical trauma to the Sea Dragon Leviathan's head and causing major structural damage, killing the seven Architects within and indirectly causing the previously contained Kharaa Bacterium to be released into the ecosystem. This attack caused the Architects to initiate an emergency quarantine. This act also forced the Architects to lock down all Arches leading to the Primary Containment Facility. The Sea Dragon Leviathan died of its injuries nearby the base.

Despite their best efforts to minimize the bacterium's spread, it is unsuccessful and Kharaa rapidly infects 4546B and themselves. Facing extinction and unable to make the Sea Emperor Leviathan eggs hatch, the Architects decide to preserve their consciousness' in Data Hubs, although there is only direct evidence of a single Architect doing this. Soon afterwards, it can be assumed that the Architects went extinct, with only their research and structures to be found in the future.

Contact With Other Species

The Architects are known to have scavenged technology from other races. All but one of the relics held by them were taken from other races, some of these races even more ancient than themselves. One of the relics is a sword from Earth, showing that the Architects visited the planet and possibly even made contact with humans at some point. Inside the Sparse Reef Sanctuary the PDA notes similarities between Architecture architecture and old Earth religious iconography. This may be coincidental, however it may indicate that the Architects had an influence on the formation of ancient human religions and societies. If this is true then it is also likely that some ancient Earth languages were based on the language of the Architect; the PDA is capable of translating it without ever having encountered the language before, if the language was from a language family completely foreign to any on Earth then translation should be impossible. Their written language bears slight resemblances to Hebrew.

Their language can be heard from the deactivation terminal within the Quarantine Enforcement Platform, after Ryley attempts to disable, and after he successfully disables. The PDA is able to translate the former

Data Bank Entries

Research Notes
v·e

LIL: While other teams have been pursuing more debulous approaches to awakening the Architects, I've tried to take a more practical approach.

LIL: We know these part-organic, part-digital beings stored what they thought of as themselves on computers within their sanctuaries. And we know efforts to 'wake' or communicate with them in situ have been in vain.

LIL: My theory is that to make first contact, these digital ghosts must first be recombined with an organic componant. As Doctor Kas Slaney's classic study noted, we know they had means to grow cybernetic bodies, and to transfer their data patterns between them.

After studying these sanctuaries we believe they had means both to grow cybernetic bodies, and to transfer their data patterns between them.

LIL: If I can just present the right vessel... I do think we will be successful.

Source: PDA in Outpost Zero.

Al-An

My kind navigates spacetime in conjunction with bio-mechanical vessels, altered and evolved over time to serve our needs.

In case of disaster we can download our data patterns from the current vessel to a sanctuary site for later retrieval. Storage in this fashion is safe provided consistent power supply, however the unique perspective and traits which arose from the interplay with the original vessel are lost. It is like a factory reset.

It is recommended they be restored to a freshly constructed, compatible vessel as soon as possible. Such hollow vessels may be fast-grown from seed at an appropriate facility, using specialized blueprints and materials.

Addendum: I believe that you became impolite because I threatened you."

Trivia

  • The Architects were previously referred to as "The Almanac" during earlier stages of development for Below Zero.
    • During the development of Subnautica, The Architects were referred to as "The Precursors," though this name was restricted to object IDs and development material, with the in-game texts simply referring to them as “aliens”.
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