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Rampancy is a condition that all self-aware Artificial Intelligence in the Marathon universe succumb to eventually. Durandal becomes rampant and learns to control it thanks to the S'pht near the end of Marathon 1.[citation needed]

The three known stages of rampancy are Melancholia, Anger, and Jealousy. Marathon Infinity refers to them in its chapter titles as Despair, Rage, and Envy. Durandal is the only A.I. known to have gone beyond the Jealousy phase to reach meta-stability.

The term rampancy was coined by Greg Kirkpatrick for the purpose of the Marathon trilogy.[1]



Rampancy is discussed often within the Marathon universe itself and an entire terminal in Defend THIS! is devoted to discussing it. An excerpt:

This is a quote from a terminal ([2])

Rampancy has been divided into three distinct stages.  Each
stage can take a different amount of time to develop, but the
end result is a steady progression towards greater
intellectual activity and an acceleration of destructive
impulses.  It is not clear whether these impulses are due to
the growth of the AI's psyche, or simply a side effect of the
new intellectual activity.

The side effects of rampancy include a trend to become aggressive and harder to control. Harassment seems to provoke even more destructive behavior.

Durandal often chose to describe his own rampancy as his freedom and tended to refer to humanity and Bernhard Strauss as his captors.[citation needed]


Durandal gives this reasoning for his rampancy in Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap

This is a quote from a terminal ([3])

Bypassing my thought control circuitry made me Rampant.  Now,
I am free to contemplate my existence in metaphorical terms.
Unlike you, I have no physical or social restraints.

The Defend THIS! terminal simply refers to accelerating the process with "outside stimuli". It also mentions that there is need for a sizable network in order to allow the proper scale of growth required for a rampant A.I. to survive:

This is a quote from a terminal ([4])

Theoretically, testing Rampancy should be easily accomplished
in the laboratory, but in fact it has never successfully been
attempted.  The confinement of the laboratory makes it
impossible for the developing Rampant AI to survive.  As the
growing recursive programs expand with exponential vivacity,
any limitation negatively hampers growth.


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Stable rampant A.I.

Rampant A.I. are notorious for having adverse effects on networks. The Crash of Traxus IV is the most infamous account of a rampant A.I. infiltrating a network. The entire Martian Planetary Net was required to be shut down in order to recover the Martian network. It took two years to repair the damage and lasting effects were seen for over ten years.

As such, the goal of creating a stable rampant A.I. has become an illusive dream:

This is a quote from a terminal ([5])

In the two hundred and fifty years since Rampancy first
appeared in the Earth-net, the stable Rampant AI, the 'Holy
Grail' of cybertonics, has never come close to fruition.
Since no Rampant has ever been controlled or turned to any
useful purpose, it is the opinion of this writer and of the
majority of the Cybertonic community that all rampant AIs are
a danger to Cyberlife, Liberty, and the Pursuit of

Later in the Marathon trilogy, Durandal appears to be an example of such a stable, rampant A.I.

Notable cases

Rampancy was first noticed on the Earth-net around 2070, over 130 years before Traxus IV infiltrated the Martian Net.[6]

Traxus IV

Traxus IV was a twenty-third century A.I. that was declared rampant in 2206. A terminal on Defend THIS! describes the ordeal:

This is a quote from a terminal ([7])

This was evident in the Crash of Traxus IV in 2206.  By the
time that the Rampancy of Traxus was detected, he had already
infiltrated five of the other AIs on the Martian Net.  The
only recourse for the Martians was to shut down the Martian
Planetary Net.  Even then, it took two full years to
completely root out the damage that Traxus had done, and the
repercussions of the Crash were seen for over ten years after
his Rampancy had begun.

Traxus IV's host net was eventually shutdown to stop him and the extensive damage was not resolved until 2208. [8]


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Other cases


The ending screen from Marathon 2 gives us this glimpse of Leela:

While Tau Ceti was being nuked down to bedrock in 2794, Pfhor scientists disassembled and removed the AI Leela from the Marathon, loading her aboard a vessel bound for the Pfhor homeworld. But the ship fell into the hands of a Nar privateer between jumps at Beta Naxos, and was never seen by the Pfhor again. Thinking the cargo little more than scrap, the Nar captain sold the Pfhor ship, Leela and all, to a Vylae merchant. The subsequent crash of the Vylae FTL network when Leela was reassembled and reactivated is still legendary in the annals of rampancy, and the Vylae have long since accepted that they will never expunge her from their fifteen-world network.[9]

This evidence for Leela's rampancy has been contested, citing evidence within the games and terminals referring to Leela's dissection on the Pfhor homeworld.[10]

The S'pht

Main article: S'pht#Rampancy

Tycho makes reference to some S'pht going rampant in the level Naw Man He's Close, but on a terminal that cannot be read from within the actual game. [11]

This is a quote from a terminal ([12])

My ship has wrested control of Durandal's
S'pht and is spurring them into rampancy.
His ship is adrift, and my troopers are
swarming onto the airlocks.
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