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Garrus Vakarian in Mass Effect

Garrus Vakarian

(Profile #1 - Mass Effect)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Mass Effect was a landmark video game trilogy released from 2007 to 2012. It included multiple ties-in such as novels, comics and an animated movie. Further games will follow in 2016 and beyond, although they will form a separate storyline.

It is a science fiction story, of the starships and space aliens kind. Most of the action takes place in a military context, as an apocalyptic threat against the galaxy emerges. It’s one of my favouritest games ever.

Writeups.org offers extensive Mass Effect coverage. The core articles are setting for Mass Effect 1 and the setting for Mass Effect 2, plus the profiles for the heroine – Staff Commander Mandala Shepard.

Unless you are highly familiar with Mass Effect, we recommend reading these articles first.

This profile is the first in a series. It continues in our .

More context

  • This profile only covers the first game, Mass Effect:Homeworlds #3 and the Shadow Broker files from Mass Effect 2.
  • Mass Effect 2 includes information that clarifies or contradicts data from the first Mass Effect – but these will be covered in Garrus’ ME2 profile, not here.
  • This entry doesn’t quite include spoilers, but some may prefer to discover this information in-game.
  • This profile assumes a specific video game playthrough – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.
  • This profile features tabletop RPG mechanics about the video game’s gameplay – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.
  • This profile features non-canon hypotheses about in-game events and mechanics – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.

Background

  • Real Name: Garrus Vakarian
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Solana (sister), mother (name unrevealed), father (name unrevealed).
  • Group Affiliation: Former C-Sec detective, now an associate of Commander Shepard.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile aboard the SSV Normandy SR-1.
  • Height: 6’2” Weight: 235 lbs.
  • Eyes: Grey-blue Hair: N.A.


Powers and Abilities

Like many Turians, Garrus is a trained soldier with years of experience, a high level of resolve and courage, and a strong work ethic. He’s also an impressive sharpshooter with superior hand-eye coordination and gunfighting experience, proficient with most things that can be used to shoot people.

Though he prefers to downplay it, he was once selected as part of a program to identify the best future military operatives in the Turian military.

Garrus is also an experienced police detective, who worked the teeming and exotic corridors of the Citadel . Though he preferred action to the dreary realities of everyday police work, he was presented by the police chief as an excellent detective.

Presumably, Vakarian got enough results for his boss to put up with his discipline issues to an extent.

Combat engineer

Garrus has some sort of engineering training. It’s the kind that can be put to good use by a commando – such as electronic warfare and intrusion. He’s also proficient at vehicular maintenance and fine-tuning, heavy weapons and naval-grade weapons system.

Garrus pointing a Predator pistol

It is unclear whether these technical skills are military or from the civilian education system; assuming that the difference even exists in a Turian context.

In either case, Garrus keeps fiddly vehicles and large guns (like the M35 Mako and its 155mm cannon) working smoothly. He also knows all sort of ways to make enemy equipment using the Mass Effect conk out by using his libraries of attack programs — and excels at defeating security systems, electronics locks and the like.

He can also calibrate the stuffing out of all sorts of things.

Turians are roughly as adept physically as a Human of the same size – meaning that by Council species standards they are pretty strong. Their lean physique features bone plates protecting their organs. Though this asset is negligible when shot by modern weaponry, we’ve assumed in our game stats that it would be handy in a bar brawl or unarmed duel.

Heterochirality concerns

Turians and Quarians are the only two major races with dextro-rotatory amino acids-based physiologies. That is, essential biological building blocks of theirs are organised differently than the norm for, say, Earth life forms. This difference in biochemical chirality has important consequences when sharing an environment with aliens.

For instance their organism cannot process amino acids organised in the opposite direction (laevo-rotatory amino acids). Food that comes from animals and plants with the opposite chirality will not provide any proteins. Turian and Quarian organisms cannot secrete peptides to form proteins out of this stuff.

Fats and carbohydrates can presumably be digested normally, but a Turian or Quarian cannot live for any significant length of time on Human, Asari, Salarian, etc. food.

Garrus in Colossus armor

This is the best case, as it assumes that such food wouldn’t be toxic to them. Strongly bioactive compounds such as steroids are quite dangerous if they have the opposite chirality to one’s biology. Thus, many bacteria with a laevo-rotatory biochemical chirality can induce severe anaphylactic shock  in dextro-rotatory organisms, and vice versa.

This means that water in habitats shared by heterochiral species has to be thoroughly purified. Intercourse between heterochiral species also has to be handled with great care, for instance when it comes to ingestion of secretions. It is also possible that heterochiral species must use different kinds of medi-gel, though this is not mentioned in the game.

Presumably, the Normandy stocked up on Turian military rations and bottled water when Tali and Garrus joined. Plus portable toilets – and disposable high-efficiency water filters for Garrus to take showers.


History

Garrus is a Turian from Palaven, the home world of his species. He’s apparently from a hot place with tropical vegetation.

The signification of the blue markings on his face was not indicated, but they are known to be important in Turian cultures. They probably mark the community or place of origin. This hypothesis is vaguely reinforced by a flashback featuring Garrus’ father sporting similar, but not identical, blue facial paint.

Vakarian senior, part 1

Garrus’ father is famous policeman, who went to work for C-Sec. Citadel Security is the police force that keeps order on the immense space station at the heart of galactic activity.

From dialogue, one gets the impression that the elder Mr. Vakarian was the C-Sec’s equivalent of Jim Gordon just before he became Commissioner Gordon. He was a superior detective who cracked numerous high-profile cases, was reputed for his uncompromising ethics and respect for the law, and had a lot of seniority and influence within the department.

In one flashback, Garrus’ dad works in the same office occupied by Captain Bailey in Mass Effect 2. This may mean that he commanded Zakera Ward, one of the five “arms” of the Citadel.

Vakarian senior, part 2

When Garrus was a boy, Mr. Vakarian still lived on Palaven. He taught his son to shoot a rifle that was too heavy for a boy of Garrus’ age. That was Vakarian’s way to teach his son the value of persistence, effort and doing things right.

Garrus drawing by Stacie Ponder

When Garrus was in the equivalent of early high school, his father had already left for Citadel. Garrus had unspecified projects to go study abroad, but as his shuttle was about to leave to take him to his new school he heard that his mother had been shot in a hit-and-run attack.

Garrus rushed to the hospital ; though his mother was not seriously wounded Garrus decided to stay with her since his father couldn’t return to Palaven to be with her. This meant the loss of his foreign scholarship, and Garrus decided to do what his father obviously wanted him to – he’d be a cop after his service.

Military service

As with most Turians, Garrus entered the military service at 15. He was selected by a project evaluating recruits to determine the highest potentials among them, presumably during boot camp. One of the goals of the program was to select a future candidate for the Special Tactics and Reconnaissance (SPecTRe) branch, the very best enforcers of the Council.

Garrus’ dad was furious at this prospect. He despised Spectres, as these super-elite agents operated above the law and were seldom held accountable.

Garrus dutifully dropped out of the program to please his dad, so he’d never become a Spectre. The rest of his military career is undocumented, but his skills set is not unlike that of an Alliance infiltrator. He presumably was some sort of scout-sniper specialising in assassination, sabotage and intrusion.

SGarrus is very knowledgeable about the workings of military vehicles and large weapons systems. It is thus possible that he received extensive technical training with those so he would also know how to sabotage them. His in-game skills set projects the impression that he was some sort of Special Forces operator.

Sound of da police, part 1

After his military service — which, by Turian tradition, can last well into one’s 30s — Garrus enlisted with C-Sec. He became a detective. He proved a successful one, his intelligence and resourcefulness giving him a high success rate on his cases. Whether he was a good cop, on the other hand, is debatable at best.

Garrus was a man of action even by Turian standards. He grew increasingly frustrated by procedures, rights and regulations. His methodology became increasingly fast and loose, and his presence increasingly came to signify police brutality, violent interrogations, violations of civil rights, reckless endangerment of civilians and the like.

Mr. Vakarian (presumably Captain Vakarian at this point) was aware that his son was taking liberties with regulations. He once had to release a pusher whom Garrus had arrested due to evidence tampering, witness coercion and assault against the suspect.

Garrus, who was struggling hard against drug trafficking, was furious. He and his father stopped talking. From context, one gets the impression that Garrus then arranged to be transferred from the Ward his father was running to the Presidium, the core of the Citadel.

Sound of da police, part 2

However, tension appeared with the police chief, Executor Pallin, who ran the Presidium force. Garrus nearly quit on several occasions. Though he presented himself as a strictly principled man, Pallin was apparently reluctant to fire Garrus.

Garrus with a sniper rifle, using his omni-tool

The main reason was presumably that Garrus got results. Respect for the Vakarian name and Turian politics also likely played a role, since firing somebody from C-Sec reflects badly on their species. On his end, Garrus seemed to have little idea of what he could do with his life if he left the police, and stuck with the job.

At an unspecified point Garrus’ mother became very sick, suffering from a rare disease with no known cure and expensive treatments. Later dialogue indicates that most of the pay of Garrus and his sister Solana was spent on medical bills, as they had to contract Salarian research clinics for investigation into their mum’s unusual ailment.

Presumably, Garrus’ father was also helping with his wife’s medical bills.

(If solely playing Mass Effect, one can easily get the impression from dialogue that Garrus’ father died, but they are simply estranged.)

’til I wake your ghost

In 2183, Humans made grave allegations about a Spectre, a Turian named Saren. Garrus also suspected Saren of malfeasance, being almost certain that he was involved with criminal networks on the Citadel.

C-Sec was tasked with investigating the Humans’ accusations. These were about Saren’s alleged role in a major geth raid on the Human colony world Eden-Prime, and the murder of another Turian Spectre, Nihlus Kryik.

Garrus' first appearance

However, as with his previous investigations of Saren, Garrus couldn’t get anything solid since all Spectre activities were classified. Executor Pallin cut the investigation short as a waste of time. Garrus was now certain that Saren was a menace, but Pallin thought it very unlikely that proof of misconduct would ever be found.

Garrus was then approached by Humans still trying to prove Saren’s culpability. He recognised one – the charismatic Marines Special Forces war heroine, Staff Commander Shepard. Not knowing much about the Citadel, Shepard wanted to share leads with Garrus.

A Quarian vagabond

As it turned out, the Citadel underworld was in a state of upheaval. Saren was offering a huge reward for a Quarian vagabond, and greed caused shifts in loyalty and gangland warfare.

Garrus searched for the mysterious Quarian, seeking to know why Saren wanted her dead. As he did so he ran into a group of mercenaries interrogating a doctor who had treated the vagabond. This degenerated into a hostage crisis. At this point the Human marines, who were looking for Garrus, stumbled upon the scene.

Garrus seized the occasion to shoot the hostage-taker dead. This prompted a firefight during which the heavily-armed marines swiftly overrran the rest of the mercenaries. Shepard then chewed off Vakarian for endangering the hostage’s life.

Seeing that the Humans were determined to get proof of Saren’s culpability no matter what, Garrus took a leap of faith. He quit C-Sec and asked to join them so he could have a stab at Saren without the restrictions that come with a badge.

After insisting that she didn’t want any more cowboy stuff on his part, Commander Shepard agreed to let Garrus join.


Description

It is difficult for Humans to tell Turians apart. But Garrus’s blue facial marking help (most Turians have white markings). Garrus also wears a distinctive, customised marksman’ visor whenever possible. He seems very attached to it.

Though Turian sexual dimorphism is slight, one can tell Garrus is a male since the crest on his head is much longer and heavier than a female’s. Female cranial bone structures are called a fringe, though it’s unclear whether any female Turian appears in the first two games.

Garrus maintaining the Mako in the Normandy's bay

Garrus has a distinctive baritone voice, with a sort of metallic aftersound caused by his Turian voicebox and/or lateral mandibles. He generally speaks quietly and calmly.

Turians have often been compared to birds and dinosaurs. They are also described as “cat-birds” by Humans due to the feline shape of their mouth, combined with their cranial crest that loosely evokes plumage.

Unless he wears the red-and-black Colossus body armour equipping Shepard’s tactical team, Garrus still wears his blue C-Sec uniform/armour.


Personality

Garrus is generally calm, professional, businesslike and hard-working. He’s a man of action, and he likes getting results through decisive moves.

A product of Turian culture, Garrus is very dedicated to the greater good and public service, preferably with a martial slant. Given his talent for combat and his intelligence, that he would become a soldier or a cop was presumably never in doubt.

Garrus is not a typical Turian in his relationship to authority, though. He doesn’t reflexively accept norms and rules. Still there are limits to this independance, and if the rules are supported by a charismatic authority figure like his father or Shepard, Garrus will immediately accept their validity.

However, Garrus also deeply wants justice – to arrest and take down criminals who are preying upon the populace. It’s a burning need, and he cannot tolerate to see somebody he knows to be guilty still free and damaging society.

Conflicted

By the time he met with Shepard, he was practically a vigilante with a badge. He beat up suspects and recklessly endangered civilians as he obsessed over getting his man to the exclusion of everything else.

Garrus' head and his visor

However, Detective Vakarian is certainly not happy about being such a man. He greatly respects his father, who is dead-set against the sort of gung-ho methods his son came to employ. Garrus thus knows that what he’s doing is wrong. But he cannot accept the consequences of playing by the rules if that means letting the guilty go.

From dialogue, there were apparently many C-Sec officers feeling the same way. Garrus usually received help in ignoring the law, endangering people and trampling rights, so he could carry on. But he knew that he was doing things his father hated, and he took the first credible way out of this situation.

Enter the dragon

Garrus greatly respects Shepard, like he would any charismatic leader. But this soon ran into a snag as he realised that she was much like her father – and insisted on having things done in a proper and civilised manner unless there was no alternative.

In his head she came to occupy much the same role as his dad. This somewhat ironic given how the elder Mr. Vakarian hates the unaccountable Spectres. This also leads to the odd situation of a deadly Turian commando and super-cop upholding a 5’7” Human woman who is slightly younger than he is as a second father figure.

Garrus treats Shepard’s observations as the word from on high. His superior intelligence means that he recognises the logical value of her arguments about the lack of sustainability of his quasi-vigilante stance. He sees her points about the difference between justice and retaliation, and accepts that she is right even though that goes against his instincts.

However, the instincts are still there. He could easily become an all-out vigilante were he separated from Shepard.

Though Garrus probably could become a Spectre-like operative on his own, he sticks with Shepard as his sensei and rabbi . She makes it easier for him to handle his inner conflict about justice and results. While this prevents his potential from fully blooming as he is under Shepard’s wing, it also turns him into a better person – and less of a potential Punisher-like menace.


Quotes

“Fighting a rogue Spectre with countless lives at stake and no regulations to get in the way ? I’d say that beats C-Sec.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Garrus

Dex: 05 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Justice
Int: 05 Wil: 05 Min: 05 Occupation: Former detective, former soldier
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 014 HP: 035

Powers:
Skin armour: 01

Bonuses and Limitations:
Skin armour is limited to blunt and unarmed damage.

Skills:
Acrobatics (Climbing, Dodging): 03, Charisma (Interrogation): 05, Detective (Legwork, Counterfeit recognition): 05, Detective (Identification systems): 09, Gadgetry: 04, Medicine (First aid): 04, Military science (Camouflage, cartography, danger recognition, demolition): 04, Thief (Stealth): 04, Thief (Locks & Safes, Security systems): 09, Vehicles (Land, Water): 04, Weaponry (Firearms, heavy): 07

Bonuses and Limitations:
Gadgetry is limited to maintenance, repair and power user operations.

Advantages:
Expertise (Military protocols and equipment), Familiarity (Zero-G combat), Iron Nerves, Language (Council Trade and presumably a Turian language), Lightning Reflexes.

Connections:
Crew of the SSV Normandy (High), Citadel Security (Low), Citadel Street (Low).

Drawbacks:
Debt 1 (Supporting his very sick mother).

Equipment:

  • Marksman’s Visor [BODY 02, Data storage: 05, Detect (Lie): 02, Detect (Mass Effect field): 04, Life sense: 03, Telescopic vision: 07, Targeting 2, Limitation: Detect (Lie) only vs. the main Council races].
  • HMWA Master Spectre Assault Rifle [BODY 05, Projectile weapon: 10, Range: 07, Telescopic vision: 01, R#02, Advantage: Autofire, Targeting 2, Drawback: Overheat, Limitation: Projectile weapon has No Range, use the listed Range instead].
  • HMWSR Master Spectre Long Rifle [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 11, Telescopic vision: 04, R#02, Advantage: Targeting 2, Drawback: Overheat].
  • HMWP Master Spectre Pistol [BODY 05, Projectile weapons: 07, R#02, Advantage: Targeting 2, Drawback: Overheat].
  • COLOSSUS MEDIUM BODY ARMOUR [BODY (Hardened) 11 /BODY/ 04, Cling: 05, Cold immunity: 02, Flame immunity: 03, Hardening: 02, Lightning immunity: 04, MEK3 Shield: 18, Radio communications (Booster): 03, Sealed systems: 12, Shade: 03, Skin armour: 04, Medicine (First aid): 04, Recommended STR 02, Limitations: Cling only works on metallic surfaces and reduces movement speed to 0 APs, Medicine (First aid) is Self Only, but works automatically, Skin armour only against Sharp Impact]. This suit was built to be worn by Turians, who represent a large market for body armour.
  • OMNI-TOOL [BODY 01, Data storage: 16, Fabricate: 01, Radio communication: 15, Superspeed: 02, Limitation: Fabricate is limited to Doodads (but those are permanent, and unlimited in number given enough omni-gel), Superspeed only for tasks involving processing information using the omni-tool]. This is a high-end omni-tool. Beyond these basic functions, Garrus uses his omni-tool for the following specialised roles :
    • Regeneration: 05 (Linked with Medicine, Usable on Others, Ammo: 07).
    • Neutralise (Mass Effect-based firearms): 12, Bonus: Area of Effect 1 AP, Neutralise is its own AV ;Limitation: the effects of Neutralise can be eliminated by rebooting the weapon, which takes three Phases but only requires one Automatic Action to launch).
    • Neutralise (Biotic powers): 08, Bonus: Area of Effect 1 AP, Neutralise is its own AV ; Limitation: the effects of Neutralise can be eliminated by recentering, which takes three consecutive Phases and costs an Automatic Action for each Phase.
    • MEK Shield Disruption: 11.
    • Bomb: 05, Bonus: Normal Range, can be Combined with a Neutralise or a MEK Shield Disruption), Limitation: Requires a Mass Effect field generator (artificial or natural) at ground zero.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Mass Effect video game trilogy.

Helper(s): Stick figure illustration by Stacie Ponder from her blog .

Writeup completed on the 9th of March, 2012.

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