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Some Simple Suggestions for not Sucking at A4


Synergy

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Woo hoo! So far, the Mac users have full crack at Avernum IV at last, and I know many of you are quick out the gate to give it a whirl. Do buy the game if you like the demo...it’s well worth it, and the game is huge. Help put little poo-bomb Princess Cordelia Krizsan Vogel’s next meal on the table.

 

There are no significant spoilers in this post, but some HINTS/MILD SPOILERS have been bulleted off if you want to avoid them (••).

 

SOME OF SYNERGY’S SIMPLE SUGGESTIONS FOR NOT SUCKING AT AVERNUM IV

 

I've fully played the game twice now, and partially several more times, so I thought someone trying to get used to all the changes in Avernum IV might appreciate a few tips from some testers to get off on a decent foot. Here are some of my tips and observations so far.

 

PARTY SIZES: Forget playing as a SINGLETON. I doubt it's possible to win a game with one unless you are a serious glutton for punishment, mind-numbing tedium, multiple reloads, and crippled leveling up early on leaving your singleton way behind the level-up curve. Jeff designed A4 for a party of four in particular. Jeff’s word on this matter was that playing A4 as a singleton should be like playing Civilization campaigns with nothing but phalanxes. This challenge of course will only prompt someone to prove that it can be done. More power to you. Let’s hear how you did it when you pull it off......you deranged lunatic. If you are going to try it, a Divinely Touched slith with Natural Mage is probably the way to go.

 

Invulnerability potions no longer protect you 100% from damage...more like 90% now, so you can still get poisoned and whittled away at while "invulnerable". This will add up quickly if you are surrounded by nasty foes as a singleton hitting you for 7-10 points damage each once to three times per turn, and perhaps poisoning you at the same time.

 

A party of THREE should be readily doable for skilled players, but it wll start becoming very tough with only TWO. One reason for this is a plethora of very tough foes and the threat of being frozen, terrified, or charmed at various points. Another reason is that to get in many doors or past traps you need high enough Tool Use, which is hard to afford with only a couple PC’s to consider. You really need a pooling of strong and diverse skills in your party to meet the varied challenges throughout the game successfully. Kind of like real life.

 

PC SPECIALIZATION: Yes, do yourself a big favor and specialize specialize specialize your PC’s. Your available skill points are going to feel much more miserly in Avernum IV, and not just because you only get five more to work with per level up. You will really have to focus skills on each PC to be effective, rather than making them broadly but shallowly skilled. For your fighters, focus weapons skills, Strength, and Quick Action, the latter of which begins to become very useful at around level 4 or higher for getting frequent second blows. Don’t have hopes of winding up with priests or mages with full carrying strength of 10 by the end of this game. You might never get your magicians past 2-5 strength if you want to make them properly effective. Specialization does mean sacrifice. Do make your mages and priests powerful with Intelligence and Spellcraft. Start your mages and priests off with at least 5 in their respective magic levels. There are some good non-encumbering armors and garments to put on your magicians to spare weight or spellcasting interference for mages—even with Natural Mage, you will hit encumbrance issues if you don’t level up appropriate skills to counter encumbrance.

 

•• [MILD SPOILER] When you get the special skills Magery and Magical Effficiency boost these instead of Intelligence, and perhaps Magery instead of Spellcraft. I think Spellcraft and Magery are more effective at boosting spell strength than spending too many points on Intelligence in the long run. You can probably stop adding intelligence anywhere from 8-12 and focus on the other skills. ••

 

TRAITS: Don’t be afraid to select positive traits and pile them on sliths or nephils. My first game I balanced my human mage and priest with Brittle Bones along with Natural Mage and Pure Spirit respectively, which effectively gave them a penalty/bonus of 0%. But without level up penalties, you will actually much earlier hit monster kill Experience Point washout in your party, even in a party of four. If you have 30-45% or even higher penalties due to sliths, nephils, and positive traits throughout your party, don’t worry that it will put you too much behind. You will be getting more experience points from monsters a bit into the game to balance out the difference. Load ‘em up to your satisfaction. Elite Warrior and Divinely Touched both give a great bundle of advantages and special traits, especially useful if you are playing with less than four PC’s. I like a Elite Warrior slith with a pole and Strong Will for my front meat shield fighter. Also, I find almost none of the negative traits worth the drawbacks or sacrifice of choosing positive traits in A4, personally.

 

POLE WEAPONS: Pole weapons rock in A4, and there are several great ones to wind up with ultimately, including at least one familiar old friend. Don’t hesitate to make two or three pole fighters in your troupe if you especially enjoy creating carnage while speaking softly and carrying a big stick. Poles are throughout the entire game more powerful than any melee weapons you will get your hands on, but there are none you can wield with a shield in hand, and there are some impressive shields to be had eventually. Impressive armor can make up for the lack of relatively minor shield help however.

 

•• [HINT/MILD SPOILER]: If you want to find iron spears early on, there are two to be had near Fort Monastery. There is one south of the goblin caves near the fisherman by the river. It is in a sinkhole by a body you will find in that pit. Be sure to examine that body and do what seems obvious. It will be significant in some way later on. You will have to fight past goblins, rats, and bats (oh my!) to get all the way down there, but nothing you can’t handle, you big powerful brute, right?

 

A second iron spear can be found on another body in another pit, this one in the nephil camp just to the NE across the bridge from Fort Monastery. You will have to fight some nephils to get to it, and then something even more nasty down in the pit, so be prepared to hack your way to this one. It’s quite doable right out the gate of Fort Monastery if you constructed your party well, and the quickest one to get to, especially if you don’t want to buy bronze spears at the Fort. These two iron spears are the best weapons by far anyone will have in your party for a while. ••

 

MELEE WEAPONS: You are going to have to really focus strength and melee skills on a melee fighter to make him powerful. This is harder than for a pole wielder, especially a slith. But there is good use for at least one melee fighter in any party. There are a diversity of very cool melee weapons throughout the game, many of which will add traits and bonuses to your PC not necessarily useful just for inflicting damage offensively.

 

•• [HINT/MILD SPOILER]: Pay attention to the knife you pick up at the goblin altar near Fort Monastery. It is easy to carelessly sell off if you aren’t paying attention, and I think your Priest or Mage might really enjoy having it. It may seem like quite some time before you really begin to find any great melee weapons. You’re going to only have bronze and iron swords for a while, so get used to feeling wimpy with a sword early on. ••

 

ARCHERY: It’s very useful in this game, really! Bows for everyone are well worthwhile. There are numerous highly worthy bows to be acquired in time, and not necessarily just because of the direct physical damage they will inflict. There is no more bother of buying and carrying around arrows...your bows are always happily loaded and ready to deliver for you. The difference in bow damage is caused by the type of bow itself and your Strength, Dexterity, Bow skill level, and whether you have Sharpshooter skill. The trait Deadeye gives you Sharpshooter from the get-go, and is of course ideal to give an archer, but can also be fun to give a mage or priest. Make your archer powerful if you have one designated. A strong archer can do very effective damage and there are many times in this game where you will want or need to do ranged assaults, and—mind you—sometimes only physical damage will prevail in a fight, and additionally, at times you’d rather not touch someone you want to kill. I give all four of my PC’s around 4-5 Bow skills fairly early on, which is plenty to make even a glass cannon priest helpful at contributing some decent bow damage from a distance. Even bow skills of 2-3 seem to make a mage or priest able to hit most of the time. I sometimes like to make a good archer/thief nephil PC with Nimble Fingers and Deadeye traits to capitalize on his native Dexterity.

 

•• [HINT/MILD SPOILER] Speaking of thieves and archers, the first and only Yew Bow you will see early on can be stolen from a house SE of Fort Monastery by the swamp. It is well worth equipping your archer with this right off the bat as there is virtually nothing standing between you and it except your flimsy conscience, you shamelessly sneaky mercenary, you. ••

 

THIEVES/ROGUES: Hooray! No more pesky lockpicks to worry about, just your Tool Use best we can tell so far. It is very useful, and all but necessary at times, really, to have a good thief/rogue of some kind in your party. You are not going to be able to unlock doors magically for some time, and there are doors and traps of difficulty 7-10 in the beginning area of the game, which are well worth your bother getting past. Unless you want to come back to get items and loot of diminished value much later in the game, starting one PC with Tool Use of 7-8 and bumping it up to 10 quickly is very helpful. You’ll need Tool Use of 15 total for traps ultimately. There are some doors with difficulty levels of 25-35, two of which I have never yet been able to get open, even with a fairly powerul mage with Unlock Doors level 3 spells. Note also that a mage’s ability to magically unlock doors is actually improved by the mage possessing Tool Use skill. Has someone found a way to pump up some combination of Tool Use, Dexterity(??), and spell abilities to open that level 35 door? If so, do tell.

 

Also, you thieves might take note that in any zone or town you can actually steal some number of times right in front of anyone’s eyes before they will turn on you and string you up. Generally, to the minor degree I have pushed this envelope, it appears to be that typically three strikes and you are out, but it varies depending on how friendly and forgiving the environment is to begin with. Experiment at your own peril. But this means when you see something in someone’s lockbox you just can’t live without, and that person is standing behind you, you can probably steal it and no one will stop you. So choose carefully what you covet most in each area before committing to committing a crime.

 

MAGES: It will be difficult to play A4 through with no mages due to the need to dispel barriers, though there are a scattering of piercing crystals throughout the game. Has anyone successfully played a game with only priest spells? Early in the game, and for quite some time magically, Icy Rain rules as a frequently very effective area spell (yay, area spells!). Your priest will not have any damaging area spells until he acquires Divine Fire a long way down the road. If you make a mage strong enough early on, say with 6-8 level Mage Spells and one or two Spellcraft and 4-5 Intelligence, he alone will make mincemeat of goblins and nephils from the start. If you have two mages with Icy Rain at the start, you are going to kick ass for a while. A party of all magic users could be a fun challenge too, because there are foes that basically require physical damage to beat, especially later on. You may want to add some pole, melee or strong archer ability (cheapest) to your magicians later on, if you have lots of them.

 

PRIESTS: Note the cheaper priest spells than mage spells. Be sure not to overlook the new Pure Spirit trait designed just for your priest. A strong priest is your best friend to bring along to the party. Don’t neglect your Repel Spirit skills. There seem to be plenty of nasty undead variants lurking around, and I’m not talking about hordes of simple mindless zombies to dispatch. Note also that Repel Spirit is NOT an area spell at any level. Two PC’s with priest abilities can be very useful in a party. I usually give my meat shield fighter one level of priest skills so he can heal, cure, or bless himself a bit. Hold on to all your herbs collected. They are light and eventually most of them will be useful in one way or another. It is quite possible to do just fine without using any wands or scrolls and most potions. You can afford more spells and special gear if you sell off things like wands and scrolls instead of hoarding them all.

 

This concludes Some of Synergy’s Simple Suggestions for not Sucking at Avernum IV at this time. I am sure other players will have plenty to offer, modify, or correct hereafter, including myself, as there is much more that can be said.

 

EDIT: Fixed my “Divine Warrior” to “Elite Warrior.”

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Yes, it does. Nephilim get bonuses to Dexterity. Nimble Fingers boosts Tool Use. Note that as far as I can tell Dexterity doesn't help your Tool Use at all, so a highly dextrous character can still be hopeless with traps.

 

—Alorael, who has a longer comment to post. Edit coming!

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Yeah, I'm finally trying a nephil-mage-rogue with Nimble Fingers, Natural Mage and Unlock Doors at whatever level I can get it. It'll be interesting.

 

EDIT: One big tip: Do not neglect the power of Daze. It can really buy you much-needed time.

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Jeff told me in a long argument in email that the tool use skill and unlock doors have no bearing on each other. A mage with tool use will not help unlock doors the spell. Jeff made this clear to me.

 

I personally have never seen unlock doors work the whole way through the beta. Since you have to crank tool use well in to the 20s to 30s to open certain doors, chests, and traps, there is absolutely NO need for unlock doors. The whole beta through, I have never seen unlock doors do anything, because when I click on a door, I had the tool use to unlock it. And since there are so many locked objects that require high tool use, unlock doors is fairly useless. When you do come to a door that tool use can not open, unlock doors wont open it either, because it is something that Jeff clearly intended to be opened with tool use. I know exactly which doors you are talking about I think. On my second finish, I had tool use of 26. It was not enough. And neither was unlock doors with crazy levels of magery, spellcraft, and mage skill. Unlock doors had no effect on this door.

 

Drove me bloody crazy and Jeff I think became quite angry with me over the course of maybe a dozen emails trying to hash out the logic of having two skills in competition with each other that in the end does nothing but cancels out one of them making it near useless.

 

I personally could never open Athron's door in the Honeycomb and some of the doors in the final areas.

 

Tool use starts costing 10 or 11 points for each level of skill at higher levels. I seriously doubt it is possible to have a functional character and get the required levels of tool use to open every door in the game.

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Originally written by Delicious Vlish:
Jeff told me in a long argument in email that the tool use skill and unlock doors have no bearing on each other. A mage with tool use will not help unlock doors the spell. Jeff made this clear to me.
What? But, but...
Quote:
Avernum 4 Instructions.pdf:
Unlock Door (Min. Mage Spells skill 6, Costs 12 spell energy) - Attempts to pick the locks on nearby doors. The higher the skill with this spell, the better the chance of success. Increasing the caster’s Tool Use skill also makes this spell more effective. Effect: Improves the caster’s Tool Use skill by about .75 plus .75 per point of spell strength.
Are you saying he just outright lies in the manual?
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Swords/Spears: I have exactly the opposite reaction to spears. They do slightly more damage in the beginning, but by the end they're more or less indistinguishable from swords in damage. You'll encounter stronger swords sooner and in greater quantities, and some of the abilities on swords are easily worth the extra damage on spears. Then there are shields, which provide some very nice skill bonuses in addition to defense. Basically, I'm not a fan of spears at all.

 

Casting: Intelligence is now the only way to raise your maximum energy, but I think that's all it does. Spell bonuses come from the appropriate mage or priest skill and spell, Spellcraft, and Magery. (I don't know how Magery and Spellcraft compare, though.) Magical Efficiency sometimes lowers the energy cost of spells, but it's too random to be dependable and didn't seem worthwhile.

 

Armor: I never had a problem with over-encumbered mages. Mages in melee were practically dead even in the heaviest stuff they could wear. I put them in whatever would boost their casting abilities instead, which was always leather or lighter.

 

Traits: Most traits give you a bonus to one or more skills at first level, but the bonuses increase as you gain levels. Although these bonuses don't help you get special skills any faster, they can dramatically reduce the cost of skills. Natural Mage means you'll spend either fewer skill points to get an equivalent mage or the same number to get a more powerful mage.

 

Specifically, I consider Elite Warrior (it's not Divine Warrior) almost essential for any fighters, Natural Mage necessary for mages, and Pure Spirit necessary for priests. Because I had only mage/priests, that gave me my two traits for both characters, and they work in a nicely complementary fashion. Nimble Fingers is excellent for your lockpicker and trap disarmer mostly because it saves skill points.

 

Races: Nephil is okay, but I found myself quite underwhelmed by sliths. In my second game I created an entirely human party and I am quite satisfied with it.

 

Dual Casters: Because you don't get the same cumulative energy effects from boosting mage and priest ability, there's no longer a compelling reason to have a mage/priest. I still found it very useful, howerver, as many skills now stack: Magical Efficiency, Magery, and Spellcraft apply to both, and of course Intelligence is useful only for casters.

 

Fighters: Quick Action can double your damage output quite often with even a minor investment. It's probably the best skill for righters as long as they have enough other skills to hit things. Alternately, because there are many enemies you don't want to hit, high defenses are excellent. If you can parry (Elite Warrior!) and have Defense and Hardiness at moderate levels, you can often safely form a human wall between enemies and casters, who blow up your foes. Bows are also very useful for shooting those pesky critters that you don't want to touch, but it's not too hard to hit enemies even with no points in archery.

 

I think it's impossible to complete Avernum without mages. You need to dispel some barriers and Piercing Crystals can't dispel the more difficult barriers.

 

[Edit: Okay, I lied and this actually became a new post. I did manage to get a few doors open by the end of the game with Unlock Doors that I couldn't get with Tool Use. None were important. I Unlocked the door to Athron's Lair right before heading off to the final battles, but then learned that there's a key. Oops.]

 

[Edit 2: Immobile Enemies: When fighting fungi, note that your archers and casters have a longer range than the fungi by one space. Kill mobile enemies and then have a field day with sitting ducks! Some others are slightly more difficult, but if your fighters move before the immobile enemies and your casters move afterwards, you can blast with spells and then have your fighters move everyone back out of range by swapping.]

 

—Alorael, who has only one more tip, which will contain some mild spoilers. Some of the best equipment available in A4 is surprisingly close to the beginning, although it requires competence in difficult combat. Keep an eye out in the Honeycomb and two eyes out west of Fort Dranlon.

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Hmm, interesting discovery, Vlish, on the separation of Dexterity from Tool Use in A4. Unlock Doors by mage does seem minimally useful, unless you never bothered to give anyone Tool Use of over 15 which I didn't. See the end part for what my mage WAS able to accomplish with Unlock Doors.

 

Jeff told me there are some doors never meant to be opened in this game, and some doors (the ones that say they are too intricate to be picked and you don't have a key) probably only open by key or quest reward. I can think of at least two doors I couldn't open which he probably meant never to open, and they are both in the same room nearby rubble which may imply the doors go nowhere anyway and are blocked.

 

There is a door in Patrick's Tower I can't open (L35) and a door upstairs in the Castle that never opens or seems openable—if it does open, I think only a quest could do it, but I didn't miss any, even after having read the hint book. There is a door in a hideout near the end of the game with L28 which I couldn't quite get to open, and I am guessing it houses a spellbook.

 

Athron's door opens with a key you acquire somewhere. Feel free to email me if you want to know what you missed specifically. You weren't the only one who did, by the way. It's a little roundabout happening on the means to getting that key. You WANT what is to be had in Athron's Lair though, trust me. It's worth the bother, and it is a bother once you get in the door too. wink

 

HINT/MINOR SPOILER:

 

There are two magical items which when combined can boost your Tool Use by +3 later in the game. If you can get your TU to 25, you can open the L28 door. This is achievable. I know Ephesos was nearly there, but he didn't have both magical items to quite do it either. I don't know if the L35 door is possible. You'd have to get TU to 32.

 

I have had my mage near the end of the game able to open doors of level 25 with magic, though it took more than one try. His stats with which he did it are below, and are essentially his ending stats in the game:

 

POSSIBLE ENDING STATS FOR MAGE SPOILER:

 

Tool Use 0

Dexterity 5

Intelligence 12

Spellcraft 7

Magery 11

Magical Efficiency 9

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Originally written by Synergy67:
a door upstairs in the Castle that never opens or seems openable
Jeff told me that door never opens.

I had no trouble finishing the game and unlocking almost all doors — I guess I missed a few, but almost all doors, anyway — with a Tool Use of only 13 or 14 (boosted to 16 with items).
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Originally written by Spidweb:
"A mage with tool use will not help unlock doors the spell."

This was probably a misunderstanding of one of my E-mails. Tool use spell DOES help a mage's Unlock Doors spell.

- Jeff Vogel
All those emails and you didn't make that clear?

**Tears out hair**

eek

I asked you... We... There was some serious tension over those emails. mad

Well thank you good sir, for finally clearing that up. I believe that finally solves several of my questions. :p

I look forward to the next beta test.
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Originally written by Alorael of the myriad pseudonyms:
Swords/Spears: I have exactly the opposite reaction to spears. They do slightly more damage in the beginning, but by the end they're more or less indistinguishable from swords in damage. You'll encounter stronger swords sooner and in greater quantities, and some of the abilities on swords are easily worth the extra damage on spears. Then there are shields, which provide some very nice skill bonuses in addition to defense. Basically, I'm not a fan of spears at all.
Yes, one will be just fine going with either or both weapons in A4, and there are plenty to choose from for each. There are spears with some impressive “extra ablities” as well. I never got my melee ability up to par with my pole use. I suppose it’s how you concentrate your skills. I still think it takes more of an investment to make a good melee fighter than a good pole fighter. Note that the strongest pole weapons outpower the strongest melee weapons by +12 hit points, if I recall all my weapons correctly. Pole weapons will be more potent for a good while into the game or at least much more affordably so, though I suppose someone could beef up a melee figther with nothing else but strength and melee skill and get close.

Bottom line: go with which you enjoy more. I think you’ll be happy either way.

Quote:

Armor: I never had a problem with over-encumbered mages. Mages in melee were practically dead even in the heaviest stuff they could wear. I put them in whatever would boost their casting abilities instead, which was always leather or lighter.
It happened to me in a recent experimental game. Heavier armor (basically anything heavier than leather) cut off my mage casting abilities entirely. [EDIT] NOTE that this was on a mage with no Natural Mage ability, as it turns out. But I also seem to recall it happened to my Natural Mage (cutting off all but spells 1-3) when using seriously heavy plate mail toward the end of my second game before I boosted his strength or dexterity a bit, and I think it was actually strength that fixed it. He was very low on strength...maybe 3.

Quote:
Races: Nephil is okay, but I found myself quite underwhelmed by sliths. In my second game I created an entirely human party and I am quite satisfied with it.
My first party was all human because I was focused on minimizing experience penalties, and it did quite well too. Basically, things seem pretty balanced so you can pick and match whatever combinations please you without inordinately advantaging or disadvantaging your party as long as you specialize appropriately. Because experience penalties really aren’t too bad over the whole run of the game, best I have checked so far, loading up a slith won’t be a huge disadvantage, just as making a human with two negative traits is not going to give you any real net advantage either. He’ll level up too quickly and start getting 0-1 experience points per kill and then be hampered by his disadvantages more than anything.
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Originally written by Synergy67:
If you can get your TU to 25, you can open the L28 door. This is achievable. I know Ephesos was nearly there, but he didn't have both magical items to quite do it either. I don't know if the L35 door is possible. You'd have to get TU to 32.
I really should've gone back to get some more knowledge brews before writing that one off...

Actually, after finally getting my rogue to 28 levels of Tool Use (I think I used all of my herbs on Knowledge Brews from Craftmaster Shrine), I found that I can't get back in to (EDIT: major spoiler deleted) that one spot with the level 28 door. The wall just won't open. Anybody know of a way to get around this? I really want to get past that freakin' door.
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Sliths make excellent priest characters.

 

Hear me out.

 

Early game, priests have Smite. Which they can cast once or twice and that's it. Fun is over. And while archery is all fine and good... Some times, you need to stick something. And you want that something to die when you stick it.

 

Sliths get that wonderful polearms bonus, which means you never need to waste skill points on a Slith priest. You can get away with a few points in bows, and not feel guilty about wasting precious skill points. Every few levels, pole arm skill goes up. I start my Slith priests off as follows.

 

Str 4

Dex 4

Int 4

End 5.

 

One point in quick action, 3 levels of priest skill, give them the Pure Spirit trait to bring them to level 5 for priest skill, and left over points go in to spellcraft, arcane lore, nature lore, defense, hardiness, and first aid.

 

What you have, with a small skill investment, is a character that can wear some armor, do quite a bit of damage because he can buff himself with his skills, and the ability to run up and skewer something and see it die should the situation demand it. A few points here and there in to quick action and some archery, and you have a well rounded character that can dish out some serious hurt, either physically or magically. Once he gets Divine Retribution and the Jade Halbred, he becomes the unstoppable Godzilla monster. Enduring Armor, Steel Skin, etc, all good to cast on self.

 

Sliths make nice mages too... But are kind of wasted in that role. Mages have all kinds of spells for blowing stuff apart, and all the spear does is gather dust.

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Originally written by Spidweb:
"A mage with tool use will not help unlock doors the spell."

This was probably a misunderstanding of one of my E-mails. Tool use spell DOES help a mage's Unlock Doors spell.

- Jeff Vogel
Augh! Another restart!
Oh well. I didn't even get out of Fort Monastery this time. wink
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If your slith priest had mage spells, you'd be loving the smell of Bolts of Fire in the morning instead of wasting your time with pointed sticks. Also, while sliths have some skill with spears, they have no special ability to not get clobbered, which would be a problem for any priest properly focused on the mystic side of making things die.

 

—Alorael, who needs to plug Enduring Armor, Steel Skin, and Augmentation here. It is entirely possible to take a lackluster front line and turn it into an impenetrable wall. It also allows even those hapless priests to survive a round of clobbering, and then the Minor Heals can keep them alive forever.

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Actually, I have made a couple of Slith Battle Priests and all have survived combat just fine. It's all in how you play really.

 

They are not a front line fighter, nor are they meant to be a front line fighter. Their job is really very simple. Run up and give somebody or something The Big Poke™. With a little anatomy (Easy to get since your int will be raised a good bit, and you can spare a few points in to polearms) a little blademaster ability, easily gained from who knows how many items, a little blessing, and so on and so on, you can run up to one singled out enemy and deliver The Big Poke™

 

When done right, it should swiftly deliver well over 100 points of damage, and, with luck, you will get a double swing.

 

Even it's somewhat less famous cousin, The Painful Prodding™ can be done rather early in the game, and still be quite damaging.

 

For example. Skunky Joe and his band of Miscreants. The Nephil archer and the front line fighter engage Skunky's cronies. The mage slows Skunky once or twice. Skunky is now prone, somewhat helpless, and there is the golden opportunity for The Painful Prodding™ You may or may not have a blessed spear at this point... But you should have a good Slith spear. Good enough. With a well buffed Slith, you dart past Skunky's bandit buddies, and, being the loving caring healer that you are, you see Skunky is obviously sick and you go to take his temperature. POKE! Skunky is now half dead... Slithkind have no bedside manner and their medicinal practices are quite brutal.

 

Still with me? Skunky is now half dead, slowed, stunned, and prone to be laid low. His buddies are still tied up with your other fighters, dazed, etc, the mage is busy freezing the balls... Er, right off of the Christmas trees with Icy Rain.

 

Another poke and poor Skunky dies.

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I find that slith mages work just fine... that way, when there's something that lunges at the back of your team (where the mage habitually is, in my case), they can whack it with a spear. Particularly if it resists magic damage... that's just nice, to have a versatile PC like that.

 

In fact, my attempt at an all-magic-user party had a human priest-fighter (using a sword) as the offensive focus until the slith mage surpassed her damage limits.

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Originally written by Ephesos:
my attempt at an all-magic-user party had a human priest-fighter (using a sword) as the offensive focus until the slith mage surpassed her damage limits.
You used that in past tense, Eph...does that mean you gave up on that game? I was curious how it went for you and whether or not it was sastisfying.
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No, the dream yet lives. I just meant that the game originally had a focus on a knife-wielding human for the fighter, but the slith with the stick quickly overtook her in damage.

 

Needless to say, any member of that party is pretty much dead if they get any serious combat damage thrown their way. And yet I persist.

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I second Alorael's comment on sliths.

 

In one game I had a human elite warrior and a slith as my front line fighters. These are both equivalent in terms of XP penalty and they were, thus, at almost identical levels throughout the game. From the middle to late-middle of the game the slith just couldn't cut it because his defensive skills weren't sufficient. Even with insane buffing from augmentation and enduring armour my slith had a nasty habit of dying regularly.

 

Corollary: Parry - learn it, love it, use it.

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My Slith priests have quite a bit of parry. Usually from items. I don't remember what though.

 

Also, you can give them items to make them have some serious hostile effect resistance.

 

Since everybody seems to be missing it... I do not use them as front line fighters. Has anybody caught on to this yet? There are certain specialised uses, usually involving mages, that it is good to be able to rush up to something and give it a good poke. And usually, when I do this, they are not particularly in a lot of danger. Well, that is relative, they are in mortal danger if everything goes wrong.

 

A good example is any of the big battles where there are a lot of heavy hitters... Melee types. And there is usually a mage behind them. I'll send my main tank forward, engage, and pepper them with arrows from my archer. Then, when I feel confident that it is safe to do so, since mages tend to be highly magic resistant, I send the lizard forward for The Big Poke™. For everbody missing it here, the Slith is not on the front lines. He is sneaking past the nasty tangle of battle and beelining for the annoying mage that causes pain.

 

Now, should something go wrong, and stuff does go wrong, you summon up some shades. Like a Vengeful Shade or something. And then you duck back out of there.

 

The Slith is clearly not designed as a damage sponge, but a damage dealer. And later in the game, his beginning stats have been raised a bit, through items or whatever, and he is quite capable of holding his own should the crap hit the fan. Using this design of mine, when the worst does happen, and it does on occasion, the Slith is typically the last one standing when the dust settles.

 

I had memorable battle with Dorikas that involved my Slith being the last one standing. He was able to get to a room, hide, and restore party members.

 

All I am saying is, try it. smile

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Well, you guys are right in the facts, though my slith was typically always doing more damage than my melee man. Conversely, and I haven't figured out why for sure yet, my human melee fighter had much more consistent Quick Action double strikes than my Slith pole fighter.

 

The thing about Avernum IV that seems especially poignant this time 'round is that any choice you make in your party makeup and skill-spread is going to mean sacrificing something else, and leaving a weakness of some kind. It is fun to experiment with and try different possibilities.

 

There are a lot of great swords and shields in this game, and at least 2-3 excellent pole weapons and a couple more quite good ones. Having a pole fighter means passing up a good shield possibility for that PC. If you are an especially aggressive offense-oriented kind of player, then a spear-user will probably be more gratifying through most or all of the game, though he will likely die more often too. If you are going to play on Tricky or Torment level difficulty, the better defense with swords and shields may be more effective.

 

That's one fun aspect of the game...there are some significantly different ways to strategize and specialize and still be able to succeed just fine.

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Syn, you are correct.

 

Strategy wise, you can make a Slith a paper tiger with very little effort, and send them forward to destroy select targets with out putting themselves in much danger, so long as you control the crowd. The classic sword and shield set up is so much better for the lead guy, along with Elite Warrior as a trait. Once you get that shield that gives a point in Gymnastics, you start having a dependable tank that can go toe to toe with out to much trouble.

 

And if the situation goes completely bad, summons. Lots of summons. A Slith priest leading an army of shades in to battle is quite effective, and good roleplaying to boot. It becomes a numbers game. Sure, you might get tagged, but if you have a couple of shades, they might get tagged.

 

For me, it came down to having your classic sword and shield set up as the front guy and not having anybody to use the Jade Halbred.

 

When I restarted, a built a Slith that I was unsure of the design, but I had a general idea in the role playing sense of a Slith priest that could, if he had to, do what Sliths do best. A Slith priest wouldn't be some helpless twit that hides from conflict. Sliths are to proud and to noble for that. They would get their hands dirty if they had to.

 

Instead of a glass cannon priest, which I had done a few times... I had my self a real monster. They usually had about 7 or 8 strength. Through a belt if I could. Dex was about 6, so I could get parry. A level or two in parry plus some from items. My real concern was endurance, there wasn't as much as I would have liked, but when Augmented, they shot to well over 300 hit points, so it was enough. I did not pump the priest skill level to maximum. I let the Pure Spirit trait carry me past the 18 required mark. I pumped pole arms to the level needed to get anatomy, and put a few points in there, which seemed like a good idea because it helps first aid. From a role playing sense, this was a good idea... A Slith priest would know anatomy. Where to jam his spear in to an enemy to hurt them or how to bandage a friend to save them.

 

It worked quite well. So well infact, that I am using my knowledge gained from previous prototypes to create the Slith priest that is going to get me through my Torment game.

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Yeah, I like your Slith priest idea. The priest is the one PC who can most affordably spare some points to be a bit of a figher too, as the priest has cheaper spells/faster priest spell level up due to the Pure Spirit trait. The top is 17, not the 18 it was in A3 as I recall, at least to cast all spells. Mages take more to power up, and really need some potency for Lightning Spray in the mid-game, speaking of which...yeah, it can be kind of unpredictable which three foes are going to be the recipients of your lovingly bestowed electrical greeting. I have had Lightning Spray go literally straight forward and 180 degrees to each side if those were the only three targets nearby. LS only hits three targets for the entire game, in case anyone is wondering.

 

I think that my next game may employ a slith priest, and I will makeone or two meat shield melee fighters, probably one fighter/archer and one fighter/thief. I keep wanting to make a fifth PC for this game so I can have: one melee, one pole (or second mage), one mage, one priest, and one archer/thief. It is always a strain to cover all these skills with only four PC's.

 

The mage suffers if you make him your thief or archer, but I don't like sacrificing one whole fighter just to be an archer or thief, especially to be as good a thief as I want to try to make, to get in that L35 door. You know, it's probably not worth pumping up the thief that much for one or two doors in the game. Like I said, my mage opened a L25 door magically. I'd just like to know what's behind those L28 and L35 doors.

 

Hey Ephesos, why don't you use the cheat code to pump up your powerful thief to level 35 and tell me what's behind the door in the library in Patrick's Tower?

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Vlish et al.

 

I recognise your arguments but my question is then - why a Slith? What does the Slith give you that you don't get from your tactics alone. Why a Slith priest rather than a human priest with pure spirit? (being approximately equivalent XP penalty wise)

 

The Big Poke? I much preferred repeated and inexorable application of spells that hit the target's weakness. Why walk towards them for the Big Poke and run when in the same time you would have hit them with four or five applications of the damage dealing spell of your choice - Smite, Bolt of Fire, etc...

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...which gets me thinking. Why would not a nephil priest be better?

 

The Slith advantage is pole weapons skill which requires melee. But a slith is not inherently able to be a full-time melee player without significant enhancement of melee skills. A nephil still has the weapon specific bonus to deal significant physical damage when required but doesn't require the physical buffing necessary for a slith (at the expense of magical training lets not forget).

 

I think the reason is that people have a romantic attachement to the D&D style cleric who can muck in when required... not because there is something inherently obvious about the Slith and Priest combination (unlike, let us say, the Dwarf and Priest combination of all the D&D ilk).

 

For your consideration.

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Another good way not to suck.

 

Give your front line fighter Strong Will.

 

It is very likely that this character, above all others, will have his or her brains scrambled, and frequently. Strong Will can protect you from all kinds of mental conditions... Nothing is a sure thing, but it kicks in enough that it is noticeable, and very much so, especially when combined with a few luck raising items. It's a free chance to resist any hostile mental effect. Charm, daze, being frozen, being terrorised, all those conditions that take you out of the action, or worse, make you a supreme danger to your team mates. Nothing is worse than having your own fighter turn around and cut you to shreds.

 

Quick Strike is your friend. You want this skill. Some dex and some weapon skill. Once you start adding points to this, you start adding a chance to get one or two extra action points at the start of a round, plus, it allows you to act first, which is critical. You don't want monsters acting first. Especially the endgame enemies. You want to fight the game on your terms.

 

Keep your priest stocked with speed potions, so he or she can run away to a safe spot. Instead of reloading, and having to start the whole fight all over again, it is now possible to retreat, raise the dead, and return to hand out the beat downs. Your priest should have a good pair of running shoes, and if need be, the ability to carve him or her self an exit. While glass cannon priests are nice, and can cast a lot of spells, having a priest that is capable of surviving a lot of abuse and dishing out as good as they get is more important now. (Especially so on torment I am finding) I have found that I don't do much offensive holy magic on torment. I tend to conserve all my spell points for healing and such, because I do a lot of it. So it's important for them to be able to look after themselves.

 

Let the enemy come to you, and pepper them with arrows and missiles. Starting combat, and having one fast character creep forward to taunt the enemy, and then leading them back to party waiting to ambush them is a good idea.

 

Mages are typically resistant to just about everything. They are best dealt with at spear point. Or sword point. Turning them in to a pin cushion works too... But it's best to have somebody right in their face so their AI will make them run away, and they will get slowed when they run away, which means next turn, not enough action points to cast spells. Hammer them.

 

Anatomy is noticeable. And it is a must have. Training a few levels of it is worth it. It is possible to do a whole lot of hurt with the right weapons and even just a few levels of anatomy. And near the end of the game, there are many enemies effected by anatomy. It is much easier to chop them down when you know how to impale them properly.

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Originally written by Skippy the bush kangaroo:
Vlish et al.

I recognise your arguments but my question is then - why a Slith? What does the Slith give you that you don't get from your tactics alone. Why a Slith priest rather than a human priest with pure spirit? (being approximately equivalent XP penalty wise)

The Big Poke? I much preferred repeated and inexorable application of spells that hit the target's weakness. Why walk towards them for the Big Poke and run when in the same time you would have hit them with four or five applications of the damage dealing spell of your choice - Smite, Bolt of Fire, etc...
Bolt of Fire and Smite are just about useless against mages, gazers, and many other enemies. Poking them works.

Spears do a lot of damage. Sliths get free pole arm skill levels. Quite a few over the course of the game. This is free damage.

A nephil could work in this capacity, but... Bows do not do as much damage as a spear. The Jade Halbred is insanely powerful. There is also the Slith Blood Spear which does crazy amounts of raw physical damage. Also, bows do not get an anatomy bonus. It is very, very easy for a Slith priest to get anatomy as a skill, seeing as how they must pump the two compatable skills required to be effective, and having anatomy will also make your priest more effective in first aid, which is a nice side effect.

Bows are better weapons for thieves, who are going to need every last skill point they can scrounge up for tool use and their own survival skills. Tool use, as mentioned, starts costing 10+ skill points at the higher levels. That's mage like dedication to a skill.
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No, I agree on the nephil mage and I'm a bit sorry I didn't think of it myself. Maybe it's my fondness for glass cannons, but I'm definitely in the sword-and-shield camp. The importance of my fighters was really in providing a barrier and mopping up the almost-dead. The firepower came from my casters. Against larger groups (several ogre fights come to mind), area spells are simply more effective. Against single enemies or small groups fighters hold their own, and then the casters can hang back to buff and heal. Any caster getting close enough to poke means something has gone wrong and a gamble is needed.

 

I spent a lot of time having my casters with no points spent on archery take potshots at enemies. Actually, I purchased some dirt-cheap archery skills (take note!) specifically for this purpose. Against weak enemies Bolt of Fire and arrows were quite sufficient, and against tougher foes I didn't want to try poking. Parry, riposte, or simply missing are too likely to cause death. So if I was already using my casters as archers, and if I was already working with sky-high experience penalties, why not a little bit more for some very nice archery bonuses?

 

I'm just not convinced that slith bonuses with polearms are worthwhile. I put exactly the same number of points into sword and spear skills for my human fighter and my slith fighter, so the slith had much higher skill and the stronger weapon, and they still did approximately equal damage. Maybe at higher levels it pays off more, since I concentrated more on defensive skills, Quick Action, and Quick Strike, but I'm not convinced.

 

—Alorael, who also isn't sure about Strong Will. He's still searching for good fighter traits (Good Constitution has proven mostly worthless). On the other hand, even going to extravagant lengths to raise mental resistance hasn't helped at all, and he still just shells out the energy for Unshackle Mind as necessary (and avoids Haste). There seem to be any number of choices that look good in numbers but have little or no effect on gameplay.

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My human swordsman had Strong Will and my slith pole fighter did not. The slith definitely got charmed or terrified more often, though I didn't do a careful analysis of stat comparison, so it will take more experience and report to get a better grip on how useful it really is. Intelligence doesn't help a whole lot, that's for sure. Not really worth the investment as just pointed out.

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Originally written by Synergy67:
PARTY SIZES: Forget playing as a SINGLETON. I doubt it's possible to win a game with one unless you are a serious glutton for punishment, mind-numbing tedium, multiple reloads, and crippled leveling up early on leaving your singleton way behind the level-up curve. Jeff designed A4 for a party of four in particular. Jeff’s word on this matter was that playing A4 as a singleton should be like playing Civilization campaigns with nothing but phalanxes. This challenge of course will only prompt someone to prove that it can be done. More power to you. Let’s hear how you did it when you pull it off......you deranged lunatic.
Bring on the windows version! laugh

Seriously, I can't imagine it would be that hard. Jeff's combat is really easy.
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I keep bogging down in Torment.

 

Which I find annoying.

 

I have found that I can get through the first area well enough, start having some slight trouble around Formello, and then once I move in to the Eastern Gallery, I am dead meat.

 

It's very embarassing having my tentacles handed to me time after time.

 

Edit.

 

I think more archery is needed. Somehow. Four characters is just not enough. I really need five or six.

 

I believe dealing with Torment will come down to avoiding going toe to toe with monsters at all costs at some point.

 

Bugs are bad mmmkay?

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OK, I posted in the Hidden Skills thread what I was finally able to find behind that pesky L35 door we've been bantering about. I think it would be good to keep this thread free of spoilers, so the new gamers can get tips here without ruining the fun of discovery.

 

Here is some resulting advice from my experimenting with Tool Use and Unlock Doors, also now knowing what is behind the two most difficult doors in the game.

 

Giving a mage Tool Use skills definitely does help his magical ability to open doors, so you might want to consider making a Mage/Thief PC, though this will cut into his overall magical strength somewhat. For traps in the game and many doors, Tool Use of 15 is adequate. If you don't want to give Tool Use to your mage at all, any reasonably strong mage by the end of the game can open a difficulty 25 door, of which there is at least one not otherwise opened. If you want to conserve all possible Tool Use points, you can acquire items by mid to late game which will add +3 to your Tool Use, so conceivably, you could stop at 12 Tool Use to get by all traps. There is a slight possibility that there is a trap of 16 difficulty, and if someone determines so, please let us know.

 

Bottom line: The 28 and 35 difficulty level doors aren't hiding anything to die for, and for everything below that difficulty, any decent mage or a very strong thief will be able to open it. A thief with Tool Use of 15 can also serve as a decent fighter, archer, or mage no problem.

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Originally written by Skippy the bush kangaroo:
Quote:
Originally written by Ash Lael:
Seriously, I can't imagine it would be that hard. Jeff's combat is really easy.
Expand your mind and be a bit more imaginative - it can be that hard. Particularly if you can't level up...
Why would I not be able to level up?
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Originally written by Ash Lael:
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Originally written by Skippy the bush kangaroo:
Quote:
Originally written by Ash Lael:
Seriously, I can't imagine it would be that hard. Jeff's combat is really easy.
Expand your mind and be a bit more imaginative - it can be that hard. Particularly if you can't level up...
Why would I not be able to level up?
If you look closely at what has already been said about that very issue, you would know.

A single character will hit the experience cap way to early, and just when they really need experience, they will only be getting 1 experience point per kill.

As it has been stated many times now, you will be penalised for trying to play a singleton.

It is just not possible.
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Someone will attempt and eventually succeed at being a singleton, I expect.

 

I think what will happen is this: you will level up thrillingly fast until level 8 or so. By level ten, around Fort Draco, you are getting 0 or 1 point per kill (this is how far I took a singleton game). Completing quests still gives you unknown amounts of XP which your singleton will gobble up.

 

At some point, you will be behind the level up curve for a normal party and will again begin to get decent points per kill. But I believe that by that point, you will be far too behind in skills to match the strength of your foes and will have a very hard time killing anything. I am looking forward to hearing how it goes. I know I don't presently have the patience or masochistic tendencies to follow through with it myself.

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I seriously doubt that any Singleton will survive the Tower Colony encounter.

 

Froze = Dead.

 

Edit.

 

With Strong Will, there is a small chance of resisting the freezing assault and keeping your senses. I can not discount that as a possibility.

 

But I would seriously doubt that anybody playing a Singleton would take that as a trait, seeing as how some sort of natural mage, pure spirit, elite warrior, or divine blood trait combo is far more likely, none of which will do you any good the first time you are dazed or frozen.

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Caught out. Yes, I'm guilty of not reading the thread properly. Sorry about that, but there's only so much tactical discussion of a game I can't play that I can find interesting. :p

 

Anyway, levelling up problems likely won't be much of an issue. "Be tougher than the other guy" is an effective tactic, but I don't use it too often. I'm more a fan of "Don't get hit".

 

Okay, I'll stop flexing my e-muscles now and just wait for the windows version so we can see how it goes.

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You might make that a bit more cryptic, Vlish. That kind of one-liner will read as an immediate spoiler in the "active threads" header, and I think we should keep spoilers in Kel's thread or the Skills thread.

 

But I have a very hard time imagining a singleton enduring many fights. Yet, some whacked die-hard will find some painful way to pull it off.

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Originally written by Ash Lael:
Caught out. Yes, I'm guilty of not reading the thread properly. Sorry about that, but there's only so much tactical discussion of a game I can't play that I can find interesting. :p

Anyway, levelling up problems likely won't be much of an issue. "Be tougher than the other guy" is an effective tactic, but I don't use it too often. I'm more a fan of "Don't get hit".

Okay, I'll stop flexing my e-muscles now and just wait for the windows version so we can see how it goes.
Trust me. You will have all of the toughness of a wet kleenex in this game. I don't care if you are a peanut or a brazil nut, there are enemies in this game armed with nutcrackers for whatever type of nut you are.

I look forward to your reports of having your tail kicked. laugh
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Is playing A4 singleton seriously that much harder than playing Diplomacy With The Dead level 1, fully disadvantaged, and with no magic?
Ever seen that movie Starship Troopers?

Avernum is swarming, SWARMING with bugs now. There are also ogres, capable mages, archers that hide behind well defended murder holes, more bugs, assassins with absolutely deadly poison attacks and insanely high levels of quick action that will pump you full of poison, undead that you must allow to hit you first before you can damage them, and they hit hard, more bugs, demons, insane necromancers, power hungry necromancers, insane power hungry necromancers, gazers, eyebeasts, giants that will overrun you in swarms, terror wolves that will chomp your bones, drakes, crocolisks, basilisks, mutant lizards by the dozens, liches, more bugs, and let us not forget the pylons. LOTS of pylons. Pylons that fire mind control terror rays, death rays, freeze rays, burning rays, pain pain pain!

Oh, and more bugs.

Remember to bring your bug spray. You are going to be cleaning out many bug infestations. People's cellars are infested with bugs, various caves, a hive, oh geeze there are bugs everywhere.

Edit. Also forgot.

Muggerers, buggerers, murderers!

That's Hedley!
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Originally written by Delicious Vlish:
Quote:
Originally written by Ash Lael:
Is playing A4 singleton seriously that much harder than playing Diplomacy With The Dead level 1, fully disadvantaged, and with no magic?
Ever seen that movie Starship Troopers?

Avernum is swarming, SWARMING with bugs now. There are also ogres, capable mages, archers that hide behind well defended murder holes, more bugs, assassins with absolutely deadly poison attacks and insanely high levels of quick action that will pump you full of poison, undead that you must allow to hit you first before you can damage them, and they hit hard, more bugs, demons, insane necromancers, power hungry necromancers, insane power hungry necromancers, gazers, eyebeasts, giants that will overrun you in swarms, terror wolves that will chomp your bones, drakes, crocolisks, basilisks, mutant lizards by the dozens, liches, more bugs, and let us not forget the pylons. LOTS of pylons. Pylons that fire mind control terror rays, death rays, freeze rays, burning rays, pain pain pain!

Oh, and more bugs.

Remember to bring your bug spray. You are going to be cleaning out many bug infestations. People's cellars are infested with bugs, various caves, a hive, oh geeze there are bugs everywhere.

Edit. Also forgot.

Muggerers, buggerers, murderers!

That's Hedley!
I'll take that as a no.
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