So, Monster Hunter takes place post-collapse of a highly advanced society.
Speculation about the Ancient Civilization is a rather common topic, and not without reason. It's an interesting thing to think about, especially in what ways this might be influencing the modern times we seen the games.
There are a lot of text-less tidbits we've seen over the years, countless ancient ruins, sunken yet still functional Dragonators, and still standing structures like the Tower.
An enormous building found within the vast expanse of the Jungle. A relic of a different age that pierces the sky. Who? When? Why? All of these questions remain unanswered.
While the existence of the Tower was mentioned in ancient texts, it took a special hunter gathering the pieces of a long forgotten map and the cooperation of the Elder Dragon Observation Center to finally make the long rumored tower's location known to all.
As far as text, there is a fair bit more.
It is very important to keep in mind that the text is written from the perspective of the modern era, meaning their ability to understand ancient technology is limited, and much is treated almost with superstition.
One of the more provocative bits of text is the Artian set, likely an ancient automaton salvaged into armor.
A few others include:
A blade of unknown origins. It has an inscription, but what could it mean?
The Epitaph Blade's final form. Based on the work of a scholar who deciphered it.
A musical device they say once foretold the future. Modern tech has given it new life as a weapon.
An ancient military Hammer, restored. Its inner core of dragon's breath still burns.
On to the main topic, the image that has spawned a thousand fan-theories. The Equal Dragon Weapon Do note that this image is from the first Monster Hunter Illustrations art book, not a game. This means that the image is concept art, and its status as canon is by no means beyond reproach.
The Equal Dragon Weapon was discovered in some ruins, an ancient storage facility. It is possibly the only remaining weapon of war from the age of the Great Dragon War. This man-made dragon was pieced together from parts harvested from over thirty mature dragons.
However artificial, the Equal Dragon Weapon boasts a might comparable to any living dragon. Its physical strength, endurance, and firepower are said to have posed the most relevant threat to the dragons during the ancient war.
The technology behind crafting an Equal Dragon Weapon reached its pinnacle during the Great Dragon Wars, but that technology, along with the great dragon hunters of the day (ancestors of the modern day monster hunters), were not destined to last. The humans engaged the dragons in a war of epic scale, with both sides fighting valiantly and viciously until they were simultaneously brought to the brink of extinction.
This text is main bit of insight we have into the ancient world. Most of what you hear about it is based on this text right here. Now that we all can see it, lets go over exactly what this does, and does not say.
What it does say
- The text is unclear/contradicts itself by saying the Great Dragon War singular and Wars plural. It is unknown if this was a single war or a conflict that erupted multiple times.
- The EDW was “the most relevant threat” to the dragons, meaning it was the most effective weapon to use against them, better than the ancient hunters.
As a direct result of the conflict(s), both sides were brought to the brink of extinction. We can safely say that it was this/these wars that caused the apocalypse level rest of technology.
The actual combat of the war primarily consisted of human dragon hunters fighting dragons.
“…behind crafting an Equal Dragon Weapon” implies this process was done multiple times, not just once.
“This man-made dragon”. The EDW can be entirely credited to human technology.
Now on to what this text very much does not say.
The reason for the war. Nothing indicates who declared war on whom or why.
That the dragons were sapient. We know the other side of the conflict had a fighting force primarily consisting of dragons, not that they were led by them.
Exactly in what ways the Ancient Civilization was technologically advanced.
The Wyverians, and other races. How they factored into the war is entirely omitted.
A few other tidbits before I present my own speculation.
The Epitaph Blade has text that was eventually translated. As text directly embedded within the weapon, it can be concluded that this text is from the Ancient Civilization. All across the series the Guild references ancient texts and prophecies, and 4U featured this directly by unlocking hunts with Ancient Scrolls. These ancient scrolls, when translated, revealed the locations of various dangerous monsters. The implication is that there was once means by which to predict the location of monsters far, far into the future.
The Artian Mail set was designed after Humans, having the correct number of fingers, foot shape, and being sized closely enough to be hollowed out and worn as armor. This reinforces the idea of Humans, not necessarily other races, being technologically advanced.
To keep this Big Wall O’ Text as short as possible, here’s where I’m going with this.
Most times I have heard people talk about the ancient war, it’s about how the war was VS dragons. IMO, the evidence we have actually points the finger in a different direction. More than likely, the war was Humans VS Wyverians. While at the moment I don’t have the means to dig through text dumps of the games to catalogue all the places where the modern day interracial tensions are shown, I do have one more piece of evidence to present on this front. Please note that this is a secondary source, coming in the form of a blogpost by GaijinHunter.
Wyverians (竜人族, literally “Dragon People Tribe”) are probably my favorite race in MH (although the cats are hard to resist, not gonna lie.) If troverians are the dwarves of MH, then wyverians are the elves. They have long pointed ears, 4 digits on their hands and feet, and have extremely long life-spans, possibly to the point of immortality, although that is not confirmed. (The only confirmed age for a wyverian that we have is Treshi, from MHF2 and MHFU, who is 350 years old and still kicking.) All of this stems from the fact that they are evolved from wyverns, despite their rather human-ish appearance. Some of them are depicted as still having scales on their hands and feet, and as having sharp, black, claw-like nails. Although most have light skin, wyverians with darker skin do exist.
The post does go on, but what I want to focus on is just those four words. Literally Dragon People Tribe. Gaijin Hunter, as someone fluent in Japanese and living in Japan, has been a key resource for the community for a long time. Knowing that when literally translated, Wyverians mean “Dragon People”, this reframes the text shown in the Equal Dragon Weapon rather drastically.
TL;DR: The ancient war was between the Humans and the Wyverians. Humans using their tech-enhanced hunters and some bio-weapons against the Wyverians use of dragons.
© Post "The Equal Dragon Weapon, Great Dragon Wars, and the Ancient Civilization: What we know" for game Monster Hunter World.
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