In ME1 what we know of the Geth comes from the information we get from the pause menu, and more personally from Tali. She tells of how the Geth drove her people from her home world, and how they (the Quarians) had to defend themselves. It is disturbing how that Geth asking philosophical question lead to the war.

In ME 3 we have our first and last look at the Morning War. It did start as Tali said, a Geth unit asked a question based on whether it had a soul. This DID lead to fighting, but what Quarians leave out was that it was not a war between them and the Geth, but a war between those who wanted to shut down the Geth and those who wanted to nurture the Geth. It was Quarian against Quarian until the Geth made a consensus to defend those who were protecting them.

So my question up above still haunts me. When we arrive on Rannoch, how come we do not see mask less Quarians working with the Geth? There is no way the Quarians that escaped in the Migrant Fleet killed Every Single Geth sympathizer, and the Geth would have no reason to attack the Quarians who wanted to defend them afterwards.

  • @Raj Quarians did not evolve on the Migrant Fleet. I didn't play ME3, but the question is, why were there no Geth-Sympathizing, maskless Quarians on Rannoch? The Geth wouldn't seemingly have any reason to kill them and since they would never have joined the Migrant Fleet, they would still have their immune systems.
    – Ryan_L
    Mar 30 at 20:08
  • There's no statement about how many quarians sided with the geth, but the implication was that there weren't many, and that they were being wiped out; the first geth shown picking up the sniper rifle to fight back (heavily implied to be Legion itself) did so after the quarian with it was killed. It's entirely possible that the geth only rose up when the very last holdouts in the civil war were defeated and captured and/or killed. May 19 at 2:39

Mass Effect 3 does not properly explain this, so we have to speculate to some extent.

In general, a population must have a certain minimum size in order to be viable in the long run. Otherwise, excessive inbreeding is required to continue reproducing at the replacement rate. A straightforward answer to this question would be that the vast majority of quarians did leave Rannoch, and the small number left behind were unable to maintain a stable population for the 300 year period between the Morning War and the events of the game. This explanation has the advantage of being relatively straightforward, not requiring too many assumptions, and not depending on how the quarians and geth interacted with each other after the Morning War.

As another point, by this stage in their evolution, the quarians were not all living on Rannoch in the first place. They had colonized a number of planets, according to Tali in Mass Effect, and the order to shut down the geth "went out" simultaneously in all of these places. It's possible that the quarians were actively and deliberately migrating people from Rannoch to their colonies, perhaps in order to prop up the legitimacy of their claimed territories, but also scattering their population, and making it less able to recover from the sudden loss of such a large number of people all at once.

Finally, the question arises of how these renegade quarians are feeding themselves. Their population has just gotten dramatically smaller, and the geth are no longer providing them with slave labor. Somebody has to go out and till the fields, and for the time being, the quarians are probably doing that by hand. Perhaps the geth would choose to provide them with volunteer labor, as some sort of gesture of goodwill, but we see no evidence of this in Mass Effect 3. As a result, they might struggle to reproduce at the replacement rate anyway, due to scarcity. It's even possible that they lost the practical ability to engage in interstellar trade due to a severe reduction in specialized labor (a prerequisite for any kind of space travel).

Out of universe, it's obvious that Bioware did not want to create a "maskless quarian" game model; they even show masked quarians in the flashback quest, where they make little logical sense. If the player pursues a romantic relationship with Tali, she provides an image of herself without her mask, but it's just a photoshopped stock photo.* This problem has impacted Mass Effect before:

  • We never see female turians before Mass Effect 3: Omega.
  • The first time we see an elcor walking, it's from a great distance in Mass Effect 2, and only in a scripted cutscene.
  • Urdnot Bakara wears a thick set of veils, making it difficult to discern what she actually looks like. For all we know, her model is otherwise identical to, say, Grunt's. We never encounter any un-veiled female krogan until Andromeda.

* In Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, this image has been replaced, and to my eye, the new image looks like it was made from scratch. But it's still just a 2D image, not a 3D in-game model.

  • Arg I really don't want to accept those answers, but the more I think about it the more I agree. I want to believe that the Geth saved enough non-Migrant Fleet Quarians from slaughter, but mentioning Population size and inbreeding I can't help, but think that that eventually Quarians could slowly die out. I almost don't agree with you about the Geth not helping NMF Quarians due to how ready they were to help after the defeat of the Reaper on Rannoch, but theis was many years after the conflict. Did they really do that with that Getty image? But they had good concept art for them already
    – Limbo123
    Apr 6 at 11:26

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