Ex Cathedra

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Ex Cathedra
Scenario Marathon 2
Level # 7
Author Doug Zartman
Level Stats
Gametype Solo
Environment Water
Mission {{{mission}}}
Attributes Repair
Monsters Drone
Previous We're Everywhere
Next Nuke And Pave

Ex Cathedra is the first level of Garrison, the third chapter of Marathon 2.



Ex Cathedra has a major impact on the storyline because it paves the way for the next couple of levels. In Ex Cathedra, you fight your way into and through a Pfhor temple filled with Troopers and Drones to access both Durandal's chip and the Pfhor uplink location. Once you've achieved these two locational goals, inserting the chip into the uplink location causes all the Drones to fall under Durandal's control and revolt against their Pfhor masters.

This in turn paves the way for your renewed assault on Nuke And Pave, where you take advantage of the mass confusion and chaos in the Pfhor ranks.


To complete this level, you have to do a number of things. First, you have to find the water-filled section of the level. As you enter the temple for the first time, turn right, right again, then walk around the large water pool you see to the small corridor in back. Dropping down into the pool of water you find there and navigating the underwater maze will lead you to the large underwater portion of the level. Once you've found that, you need to find the blatantly differently textured wall. Trying to 'use' the wall reveals that it's a door, and smashing the breakable panel behind it will open not only the temple doors but also a shortcut back to the temple part of the level.

If you swim around to the left as you're coming out of the hidden doorway, you'll see a white ledge above the water. Using the momentum of rising out of the water to lift you up onto it, you should be able to open the inset door and return back into the body of the level. From there, on the left wing of the temple (you just used the right wing to access the water pool), there's a 1x recharger set into the wall, should you need it. Once you feel you're sufficiently prepared, the center temple doors are now open, and you can walk inside to find a whole ton of Troopers waiting for you. Once you've wasted all of them, you'll find a 2x health charger on the right side of the temple (facing the altar) and Durandal's chip on the altar itself. Use both.

From here, if you return to the water pool on the right wing that you just walked around earlier (not the one you dropped into!), continue walking around it to find the entrance to the outside on the back wall. After a brief fight with more Troopers and Drones, you will find a circular well of water with steps leading up to the side. If you dive it, the middle of three extensions to the well (found half-way up in elevation) will contain an uplink point. Insert Durandal's chip, then exit the well and return to the altar room. On the left side of the central temple (again, facing the altar from the back), the elevator will take you up to a narrow passageway behind the wall, where you'll find yet another elevator. After fighting a few Troopers, you can drop down the continuously-moving elevator (beware of this, because it will crush you!) to find a tiny room with a whole ton of Troopers. This is probably the hardest point in the whole level because of the confined space. Once you waste these Troopers, the exit terminal is just around the corner. Read it and continue to Nuke and Pave.


  • This level is filled to the brim with Troopers, and those who haven't had the practice to learn to deal with them yet should start doing so now. Using the water to your advantage (Troopers and Drones won't fire underwater) helps you to avoid a lot of damage, and being on top of the water is generally not too advantageous; you can't see where the ledges are. Also, though defeating the drones quickly may be tempting, avoid using the fusion pistol on the underwater section of this level.
  • Outside of the temple, there's a stairway that will take you to a cliff near where you started. On top of the cliff a small ammo and oxygen stash will teleport in.
  • If you follow the right wing all the way to the back, you'll find another entrance that connects to the wing in a rather disjointed corner. On one of the walls in that corner, you'll find a secret door that opens to reveal an alien weapon and a switch that activates the main temple doors, completely bypassing the water section of the level.
  • In the water maze itself, right before you emerge from the water on the other side, there's a small niche in which a F'lickta lies in wait. After killing it, if you 'use' the wall that it was guarding, you'll find a shortcut out to the water section of the level, bypassing the room with the short ceiling that makes it hard to pistol-snipe the Trooper guarding the switch door. Also in the water maze, you'll find oxygen canisters, 2x canisters, a switch that opens an elevator back up to the water pool you walk around twice in the walkthrough, and a whole ton of F'lickta.


X-nil 37.9@cjl1//vck3
I've discovered an area where the Pfhor's
communication lines are exposed and have
coded a virus to attack their defense
programs through this weakness. The attack
will be aimed at subverting the Pfhor's
defense probes, which are controlled
remotely by a central computer, and turning
them against the Pfhor.

This area is used by the Pfhor as a temple
in their pathetically boring religion.
Maybe they think that sanctity will protect
I will teleport the virus package onto the
main altar in the temple. You will
retrieve the instrument of their demise
from there and insert it into the
underwater control panel I have marked on
the map at left.

After you arrive, the Pfhor will likely
close the doors to the temple. You should
be able to open them by destroying their
power supply, which is located behind a
door in a nearby grotto. You'll probably
have to do some swimming to get there.

My virus isn't very selective, and will
likely disable this terminal soon after you
install it. There is another terminal in
the temple; I'll try to contact you there.
X-nil 37.9@cjl1//vck3

e.thra 3-cab<783.7*78>
The virus is working as planned, and I have
successfully assumed control of the Pfhor's
defense probes. The berserk drones are
causing great panic among the remaining
Pfhor defenders.

We must press the attack before they
0e.thra 3-cab<783.7*78>


  • Doug Zartman designed Ex Cathedra after a cathedral in Durham, England. The difference both in context (real-world architecture) and in general mapping style (Doug did it) is very apparent. The small, twisting, organic feel of the level (short ceilings and everything) is very true to life; not all spaceships need vaulted ceilings to function. The relative lack (though it's still present) of differential shading, and the way secrets are indicated also differ from Jason's and Greg's methods of doing so.
  • Lighting is done room-by-room, unlike in many other levels, where polygons are deliberately made to obstruct light sources and cast shadows, to show off the abilities of the Marathon 2 engine. Ambient sounds are also somewhat unused (though still present), which set it apart from the atmospheric masterpieces like Kill Your Television and the like.
Doug Zartman designed "Ex Cathedra", the only solo level not created by either Jason or Greg. Doug explained the creation process:
"My only scenario level was partly inspired by the third-party Marathon map 'Villa Banzai'. At E3, a Marathon fan suggested I check out this map. I did and thought it was great - beautiful realization of what was obviously an attractive real-world structure. Though I had done levels based on real-world structures before (i.e., my house, the office) I had never thought of doing one based on an architectural plan, much less of a building that was good looking. So I spent some time looking for plans, and found one of a cathedral in Durham, England that looked cool, but easy enough to replicate. I spent an enormous amount of time on it, about 4 from-the-ground-up revisions, maybe 80 hours over a period of 3 months (since level design wasn’t my job, it was mostly done at home)."
Doug designed "Ex Cathedra" before swimming had been implemented in Marathon 2, which served to illustrate the perils of making content for an unfinished engine. Doug described what happened:
"When I began this level, there was no swimming in the M2 engine and so the watery Grotto was filled with dead ends and traps, like underwater pits. To reach the key room that opened up the rest of the level, you had to make it past a series of jumps between ledges that you couldn’t see below the water - tricky stuff. Then swimming was enabled and suddenly the player could simply swim past the traps and tricks. There’s a secret door set in the wall of an underwater pit in the Grotto that was originally a big time-saver; after swimming, it was useless and I’m sure few people have found it."
Also worth noting is the name. Ex Cathedra, in Latin, literally means "out of the chair," but because of the Roman Catholic Church evolved to mean, "because of one's office, position, or rank." It can be further extended to "from the cathedral", describing an announcement that is taken to be true without question. As we're in a Pfhor temple, it's appropriate to speak of cathedrals.

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