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Exploring Lynaeus


Merteuil

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I just wanted to make a small comment about the world of Avadon in comparison to the other games. In my limited exposure to the three worlds, Avadon is the least interesting, it presents nothing new or fundamentally creative at any point, it's also been an amazing pleasure to explore in comparison to the others. Geneforge you move from zone to zone, clearing them out, occasionally back-tracking for super-hard dungeons or to turn in a quest. It's extremely linear to say the least. Avernum isn't linear in the slightest of course, but you still don't really back-track or look upon areas again in a way more substantial than Geneforge's precedent. These things aren't the case in Avadon, I've spent an absurd amount of time exploring, and re-exploring, and re-searching the Kva Lands alone that I laugh at how short I thought this game would be with 20 or so zones. In order to full explore a land I have to spend seeing if things have changed and seek work, multiple times over. While far from efficient it was extremely immersive and once I set out from Avadon to do some work in the outside lands, I knew I wouldn't get to come back for days. To busy trying to find that one more odd job, or explore that one more nook with a bit of loot. It really was an extreme pleasure, and still is as I continue through the game.

 

On a un-related note I want to also commend the morality of the game. In Geneforge the vast majority of it was a ethical quandry, but ones that boil down to your sense of "right" and "wrong". In Avadon right and wrong isn't even part of the equation, it's all politics in which you know not what you do. You can't gauge the consequences of your actions because the world is too complicated. Everything that might cause bloodshed might not, you can't tell. It's guesswork almost, and I find that really thrilling. If I had all the facts and knowledge of outcomes it wouldn't be a hard decision anymore. Of course I also am allowed to simply be a jerk, which to some characters I've enjoyed.

 

I don't suspect Jeff would read this, but if he does I wanted to show how much I enjoyed some of these differences from his other games.

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Always glad to get an opinion!

 

I also like the revisiting aspect of Avadon. The game is linear in plot but not in space, and I prefer it to the "never go back except for a few locked doors or barriers you couldn't pass" that's prevalent in most other Spiderweb games.

 

—Alorael, who also thinks there's a good point about morality. A major part of Geneforge is taking sides and fighting for the right one, depending on your preferences, along with stomaching compromises and no clear-cut good and evil. Avadon is about how difficult it is to even know what the sides are or when you're choosing. It takes a fair amount of agency from the player, which can be alienating, but it fits the story.

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I'd argue that Avadon's world is actually the most creative of Jeff's, so far. Geneforge got by on how cool Shaping is; everything you explore is tied to Shaping intricately, from the servile villages, farmlands, and metropolises to the abandoned laboratories, dusty warrens, and battlegrounds. Avernum had the interesting duality between Surface and Exile culture, but within those two areas the cultures are largely homogeneous. Even given that the various tribes of giants, nephil, etc. all have distinct cultural patterns, the culture in the Empire and Avernum is actually pretty similar (not surprising, given the latter was created by people from the former). Nethergate, clearly, has two very distinct cultures.

 

Avadon, on the other hand, has a diversity of cultural backgrounds. Just present in the game, there's the stratified (meritocratic?) society of Holklanda, the aristocratic (feudal?) society of Kellemderiel, the more rigidly feudal Khemeria, the egalitarianism enshrined in law in the Kva, and the military finesse of Avadon itself. I'm not sure how to describe society in the Wretch Lands, but it too is different, a more tribal and less formalized version of Khemeria. These are just the lands we get to visit; the Codex describes further the societies of other lands - most intriguing to me being the democratic society of Dharam. Democracy has been notably limited in Jeff's previous games; the Shapers have (what seems to be) non-democratic means of electing a Council that then has equal voting rights among the Councillors. Avernum experimented with democracy in the Council and also the Triad, but both of those bodies didn't seem to be democratically elected. They also, of course, were later abolished by the king. Nethergate, appropriately enough for the historical setting, didn't feature democracy either. Therefore, I'm excited by the mere existence of Dharam. I hope we get to visit in Avadon 2.

 

Due to the radical diversity of very distinct cultures present in Avadon, I feel comfortable in saying that it's Jeff's most maturely crafted world yet. Avernum started out as a pretty generic fantasy culture that was morphed by its unique geographical condition. Geneforge was not generic at all, but it was also largely homogenized around the centrality of Shaping to the culture; the hints of previous cultures and other ways of doing things are never explored thoroughly. With Avadon, one can explore a multitude of cultures, moreover seeing their minute evolution due to the revisiting process.

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