The Reapers are a highly-advanced machine race of synthetic-organic starships. The Reapers reside in dark space: the vast, mostly starless space between the Multiverse. They hibernate there, dormant for fifty thousand years at a time, before returning to the multiverse. These giant machines are ancient; their true name is unknown. "Reapers" was a name bestowed by the Protheans, the previous galactic power fifty thousand years before, the geth refer to them as the "Old Machines" and the Combines refer to them as "Kilaizik". In the end, the Reapers spare little concern for whatever labels other races choose to call them, and merely claim that they have neither beginning nor end. The Reapers are the original creators of the Citadel and the mass relay network. These massive constructs exist so that any intelligent life in the galaxy would eventually discover them and base their technology upon them – all part of a scheme to harvest the galaxy’s sentient life in a repeating cycle of purges that has continued relentlessly over countless millennia. they were wiped out by the Combines, their long and feared enemy, during their invasion of the galaxy
A Reaper is essentially "billions of organic minds, uploaded and conjoined within immortal machine bodies." In terms of physical design, Reapers bear superficial resemblance to a cuttlefish or squid, with a bulky semi-cylindrical body, a tapering plate over the rear and five tentacle-like "legs" or arms extending from its front end, in addition to six jointed legs extending from its body. The rear-most of the larger legs have crescent-shaped extensions. Colossal in size, Reapers are known to range from 160 meters to over 2 kilometers in length.
The core of any Reaper is constructed in the image of the species that was harvested to create it, while the exterior follows a standardized design that is most efficient for their purpose. When the Reaper fleet is revealed in dark space, they are shown to all share the same basic design, but with great diversity in limb number, shape and orientation, some with extended heads and others having multiple glowing lights. This may illustrate the variety of Reaper subtypes, as it is revealed during the Reaper invasion of the galaxy that several different varieties of Reaper exist.
While the outward appearance varies between subtypes, all of them retain features of their forebears the Leviathans, an ancient aquatic race that dominated the galaxy in ages past. The largest known Reaper ships essentially copied the Leviathan form while the smaller ones diverge to varying degrees.
There are several varieties of Reaper, which vary significantly in size, purpose and firepower.
- Harbinger: The first Reaper ever created, Harbinger appears to be of a unique subtype; System Alliance intelligence identifies it as being the largest Reaper in the armada, and its design differs notably from the Capital Ship subtype, having only four main legs and multiple glowing "eyes". Exactly how much more powerful it is than a normal Reaper capital ship is unknown. Many have now theorized that their were more Harbinger-class Reapers before it came into contact with the Combines, but following the Combine-Reaper War, many were simply destroyed and the few that remained went into hiding
- Capital Ship: Also known as Sovereign-class, the two-kilometer-long Capital Ships are the most well-known Reaper subtype. Their main weapon is a spinal mounted "magnetohydrodynamic" cannon with a yield of 132 to 450 kilotons of, which dwarfs the main gun of an Everest-class System Alliance dreadnought. No known ship, not even a dreadnought, has been known to survive a hit from this weapon. Capital Ships are also armed with multiple cannons in their "tendrils" capable of shearing through most opposing vessels in a single hit, a point defense system (similar to the GARDIAN systems favored by organics) for anti-fighter and anti-projectile purposes, and are capable of unleashing swarms of Oculi drones to engage fighter-sized craft. They are extremely durable, capable of taking the continuous and simultaneous fire of four dreadnoughts before they start to lose their kinetic barriers.
- Troop Transport: Troop Transports vary in length between 200 meters and one kilometer and are used to transport husks to worlds and bring victims to Reaper processing centers. They lack sentience and are remotely controlled by the Reapers.
- Processor: Mobile centers for mass DNA harvesting. Like the Troop Transports, lack sentience and are controlled remotely by the actual Reapers.
- Destroyer: Destroyers are only 160 meters in height, but possess a formidable capacity for destruction despite their reduced stature, with their main gun easily capable of destroying cruisers in seconds. Unlike Capital Ships, they have four main legs, along with five jointed appendages encircling their "head". The frontal plates of a Destroyer can fold to the sides, exposing a powerful beam weapon. They are used to escort the capital ships, destroying smaller targets such as frigates. On the ground, they are capable of unfolding their legs and walking to support the husks, becoming extremely powerful heavy walkers. They are nigh-immune to ground vehicle fire and not at all fragile in space, but a cruiser is noted to be able to take out a Destroyer fairly quickly.
also see Indoctrination for more info
Reapers and their technology have been observed to exert a disturbing influence on organic beings. This mental manipulation is known asindoctrination. Put simply, any organic being who is in close proximity to a Reaper or certain Reaper artifacts for too long comes to believe the Reapers are correct in their goals, and will do anything to serve them. Gradually, the mind is eroded until the individual becomes a mindless slave no longer capable of independent thought.
Reapers can control the rate of this process. Optimally, the subject is led to believe it is still acting on its own convictions. Indoctrination can drive people mad outright, and people deemed useful by the Reapers are given just enough free will to remain competent at their tasks.
This indoctrination is permanent, almost impossible to subvert, and is one of the most insidious weapons of the Reapers. Entire civilizations can be delivered into the Reapers' hands by the indoctrination of a few influential individuals. During the invasion of Earth, the Reapers inviting diplomats into their holds to negotiate, where they would then presumably be indoctrinated.
A Reaper's indoctrination field can remain active even if it is largely disabled and incapable of action. A Cerberus science team was indoctrinated by being inside a Reaper that had otherwise been floating derelict for 37 million years, its only obvious activity being mass effect field generation.
Even without their indoctrinating influence, Reapers are immensely powerful warships and their technology is devastating, at least to civilizations within the Kiz'ro, Tiz'ro, Piz'ro and Riz'ro. One armament common with the various subtypes is a powerful "magnetohydrodynamic" weapon which ejects a stream of molten metal at a fraction of the speed of light, capable of tearing through a cruiser in a single sustained burst, though not as powerful as toborlasers or Dark Energy Plasma. The gigantic spinal-mounted gun of capital-class Reapers is able to rip through the hulls of even the largest of dreadnought-class ships with ease, effortlessly penetrating their kinetic shields of the Riz'ro, Tiz'ro, Kiz'ro and Riz'ro universes. Reaper defences include powerful shields that could block the projectiles of an entire fleet, along with an incredibly strong hull.
Though they are sentient machines, the Reapers have habitable interiors that can transport a crew, either to help spread their indoctrinated slaves or to allow these slaves to tend to them, probably both. Speculation in the Codex suggests that each individual Reaper has a massive element zero core which, coupled with the likely enormous quantities of energies at its disposal, allows it to generate the staggering mass effect field needed to land ships of their size on a planet.
However, the Reapers are not invincible. When the Reapers go into states of hibernation between cycles, they are vulnerable. By taking refuge in dark space, the Reapers ensure they will not be discovered by accident and destroyed while they wait for their vanguard to open the Citadel mass relay. A concentrated effort by the fleets of organic races could also destroy a Reaper even if it is at full power.
Reapers recognize each other through a complex Identify Friend/Foe system. Reaper interrogation signals do not simply look for a friendly transponder code, they look for a friendly intelligence. If other races attempted to steal the IFF for themselves, the IFF comes with a virus that can potentially disable any system it's hooked up on. The virus can be countered; one of the known ways is to set an unshackled artificial intelligence upon it.
Aside from their formidable firepower and indoctrination, Reapers are also capable of mustering up their own ground forces to attack their enemies: husks. Husks are aggressive, mindless drones, created from organic beings who are exposed to Reaper technology, such as dragon's teeth, resulting in their organic bodies being consumed by cybernetics. Husks are used as shock troops and swarm enemies in waves. Occasionally, to bolster husk defenses the Reapers will employ devices known as Barrier Engines that cocoon individual husks in a durable biotic barrier. For long-range offensives they usually outfit their husks with integral weaponry, although Reapers have been known to also manufacture handheld weapons like the Reaper Blackstar.
Because of the Reapers' technological superiority, the galaxy's factions actively studied or reverse-engineered what they could from them. Known products of such research include the Thanix cannon, the M-597 Ladon, and parts of EDI's AI.
however, as many have noted, the Reapers weaponry is stagnant in regards to their effectiveness towards civilizations that are more advanced then the Mass Relay based civilizations. As it should be noted that the weapons main guns can destory a shields of a Star Destory, however, that's mainly due to overheating of the ships' shields then simply going though it and it causes minimum damage to the Ships' hale, but in regards to Star Dreadnoughts, however, it's takes to Reapers, namely Capital ship class, to overheat the Ship shields and twice as much time to destroy it as well, but in regards to the Combines, many have noted that it's five, Harbinger class Reapers to take out just one Duke-Class Light Dreadnought. However, that's still far fewer then most other civilizations though, in comparison, it took ten Star Dreadnoughts to destroy a single Duke-Class Light Dreadnought
First Reaper War Cycle Edit
Combine-Reaper War Edit
Later Reaper War Cycle Edit
The Prothean Counterattack Edit
The Vanguard Edit
The Reapers and Collectors Edit
Final Reaper War (Riz'ro) Edit
Final Reaper War (Kiz'ro) Edit
Final Reaper War (Tiz'ro) Edit
Final Reaper War (Piz'ro) Edit
The Cycle of War and Extinction Edit
Vendetta explains on Thessia that the patterns concerning the development of galactic civilization and the cycles of extinction are too regular and repetitive to be coincidence. According to the VI, the galaxy experiences the same paths and conflicts during each cycle - "the same peaks of evolution, the same valleys of dissolution" - expressed in different forms. It infers that the Reapers are servants of this pattern, not the creators of it. The Reapers' true master and motive, however, remained largely unknown until Commander Shepard's meeting with the Catalyst itself.
The Reapers leave no evidence of their conquest, nor of their existence – only desolate, barren ruins of those who came before. Extant information on them is so scant that they are known merely as "boogeymen" at best in many cultures' ancient legends.
The trap created by the Reapers was simple. A sentient species would develop an FTL drive, but would still be limited in its speed. By leaving a network of relays capable of instant transport across the galaxy that led to the impressive Citadel, the Reapers ensured that it would become the center of galactic civilization. Further, Sovereign implies that the presence of the mass relays would lead the sentient species down a predetermined route with regards to weapons and armor technology (both of which are based upon element zero technology for the Citadel races). As Sovereign explains, "By using it [mass relay technology] your society develops along the paths we desire." The relays also serve to reduce the amount of time it takes for galactic civilization to advance, thus shortening the time between the Reapers' harvests.
Once the sentient races have established themselves on the Citadel with the aid of the keepers, a lone Reaper vanguard stationed within the galaxy sends a signal to the Citadel, instructing the keepers to activate the station’s hidden mass relay. This opens a path between the Citadel and dark space. The Reapers then flood through, killing the leaders of the assembled species before branching out and harvesting all spacefaring life around them.
Because the Reapers first enter the galaxy at the point that they have ensured will be the center of galactic politics, information and finance, they are able to cripple any resistance almost before the Citadel civilizations have any idea that they are under attack. The Citadel also gives them control of the relay network, cutting off star systems from each other and destroying communications.
The Reapers then use their control of the Citadel and its data to begin the most sinister phase of their attack. Records allow them to track down every settled planet and attack them, harvesting their populations or enslaving them through indoctrination.
Once they have harvested the galaxy, the Reapers wipe every trace of their existence from record and retreat back into dark space.
During their invasion at the end of each cycle, the Reapers gather and "process" vast numbers of individuals from each of the galaxy's sentient spacefaring races. Victims who cooperate with or are captured by Reaper husks are rounded up into "camps", where the husks select individuals deemed fit for processing; it is believed that the husks use scent or chemical receptors to analyze the genetic composition of victims. Those who are deemed unsuitable are turned into more husks.
Individuals who are determined to be suitable for processing are loaded onto Reaper Processors, where they are ushered into single-person pods. Like a slaughterhouse, the interior of the Processor is designed to prevent any visual or auditory contact between individuals being processed. Once in the pods, the victims are dissolved into a raw genetic "paste" for ease of transport. This paste will then be used in the construction of a newborn Reaper, with the victims' minds being preserved to form the Reaper's gestalt consciousness. The only known facilities used for Reaper construction are located on the Citadel and within the Collector Base in the galactic core.
Available information suggests that a single race is harvested during each cycle to produce Reaper Capital Ships; it appears that other space-faring races harvested during the cycle are used to produce Destroyer-class Reapers. Exactly how or why this distinction is made is unknown.
The rate of killing during a harvest is staggering - during the invasion of Earth, at least 400 Processors were present, and the number of humans processed each day was estimated at 1.86 million. At such a rate, the entire planet would be depopulated in a decade.
As a "back up" option, the Reapers are capable of using the Collectors - a slave race genetically engineered from the Protheans - to gather genetic material in their stead. The Reapers are only known to have used this option once, when they used the Collectors to conduct mass raids on human colonies as part of a plan to create a human-based Reaper.