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Kelandon thinks things about Avadon 3

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Following on topics like this for Avadon 1 and Avadon 2, I'm posting spoilerific thoughts about Avadon 3 based on my first playthrough.

 

WHAT I DID

I played on Hard with a Tinkermage main character. I followed a path similar to what I did in my second playthrough of Avadon 2 (detailed in the link above): Tinkermage primarily relying on Shaman and Tinkermage companion support, heavily using turrets and summons to distract enemies while the Tinkermages and Shaman took them out at range. For most characters, I boosted Dexterity, but for the Shaman and Sorceress, I boosted Intelligence. I always focused on range attacks and Efficiency Skills, but I avoided Turret Craft for the Tinkermages. For most of the rest of the characters, I boosted the Utility Skills to get summoning and buffs, but for the Sorceress, I boosted Battle Skills to get direct-damage spells. In general, this played pretty well; it's probably not optimal, but it was close enough to optimal that I had very few difficulties with all but the very hardest combats, even on Hard.

 

For the most part, I told people to their faces what they wanted to hear. I told Redbeard that he was the true Keeper and should be harsh to everyone, but I also helped all my companions, gave Dirran the hair, etc. It was a little bit of a weird path, because it was overtly two-faced, but no one ever called me on it. Eventually, I decided to fight Redbeard and become Keeper.

 

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS

Everything good that can be said about most Spiderweb games can be said about this game. The writing is engaging throughout. The engine adjustments — being able to see where you're going to walk and how many steps that is — are welcome, as always. It's a good game.

 

That being said, it's not a great game, and I was expecting a great game. I think it suffers from the weight of the earlier games. There isn't enough in the plot or characters of this story that is genuinely new. At times, it feels like a rehash — a good rehash, but nonetheless a rehash, without anything that we haven't seen before.

 

PLOT/CHARACTERS

If you had asked me to list the most memorable characters from Avadon 1 and Avadon 2, I would list nearly all the repeated characters in Avadon 3: Nathalie, the Corruption, Gryfyn, Dheless, etc. But all we do is tie up loose ends with respect to each one. None actually does anything new or interesting.

 

Consider the Corruption, which I think is probably the most interesting part of Avadon 2. Compare what happens in Avadon 2 to what happens in Avadon 3. In Avadon 2, we see (for the first time) the collapsing Monitor Bases. We see the monsters inside the Corruption. We chase Miranda there and see her descend into madness. We wander through the Core and see multiple origin stories. In Avadon 3, the Corruption barely does anything. It asks for you to finish off Miranda, and maybe Miranda's sequence in Monitor Base C would be interesting if we hadn't heard nearly all of it before. The only new moment is when Redbeard gets infected with the Corruption.

 

It seems like almost every repeated element has the same problem. I loved Nathalie in Avadon 1, but her presence in Avadon 3 is just confusing. Why did she revert to level 1? Also, she lacks the spunk and humor that made her so engaging in Avadon 1. Instead, she just seems to seek power and hate everyone. I was interested to see how the Gryfyn story finally plays out, but it becomes just one boss battle after a dialogue that basically doesn't reveal anything new. I wanted to know why Dheless could come back to life in Avadon 2, and I wanted to get more of his character, but his role became essentially the same as the Wayfarer's role in Avadon 1 — which was fine in Avadon 1, but we've seen that before by Avadon 3.

 

The non-repeated characters (e.g., most of the companion Hands) were not terribly interesting. It didn't seem as though we had a Nathalie or Alcander this time — which was weird, because we had Nathalie again, but without any of the interesting aspects from Avadon 1. But Rudow, Silena, and Botan didn't do much for me. Velusa was probably the most interesting new character, but that was such a brief interaction that it hardly counts. Maybe that was part of the issue: the most extended interactions were with repeat characters (Redbeard and Dheless, mostly), and there weren't very many of them anyway.

 

Avadon 2 felt like a different game from Avadon 1: the scout romance, the Corruption, the direct interactions with Dheless and the Tawon Empire, etc. were all different from Avadon 1. Avadon 3 just feels like a repeat of Avadon 1 and Avadon 2.

 

COMBATS

Everything seemed pretty reasonably balanced. A few fights were easier than I was expecting, most notably fighting Redbeard. Redbeard was so tough in Avadon 1 and Avadon 2 that I thought that I would have to reload a bunch of times to figure out the best way through the fight in Avadon 3, but I managed to get through on the first try. On the other hand, I had some issues with the High Lord Golath fight. Maybe it would have been easier if I had known that it was coming, or if I had fled and changed out characters and restocked consumables — I don't know.

 

I never actually hit the level cap. My party was level 29 (except the companion Tinkermage, who was level 30) at the endgame. That's the first time in Avadon that I haven't hit the level cap, which was surprising to me. I was planning my skills for what would happen when I hit level 30, so I never got to see the full payoff.

 

Just like the rest of the game, the combats seemed competent but not truly memorable. I'm not sure that there is a fight that struck me as particularly exciting, like the final circling dungeon in Avernum 1, the Ornotha Ziggurat in Avernum 2, the final Solberg sequence in Avernum 6, etc. Maybe the crystal-placing sequence?

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Unfortunately, I think this game suffers from the same basic problems that made Geneforge 3 not as popular as the preceding Geneforge games. You can get away with the novelty of the setting and series concepts for a game or two, but by the third game, you have to do more to make the game feel fresh. Avernum 3 worked because it introduced a new mystery (who's behind the monster plagues?) and a new setting (the surface), and almost none of the characters repeated from the previous two games. Geneforge 3 suffered from being too similar to the preceding games, and I think that Avadon 3 has the same problem.

 

Don't get me wrong: I liked the game. I just thought it was going to be better. I liked Avadon 1 and Avadon 2 more, I think. But maybe I'll feel differently on a replay — I've always liked Avadon games better the second time than the first.

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I concur, Avadon 3 is like Avernum 4, both direct sequels to prev. game and follow closely same plot as prev. game. Both are more like 2.5/3.5 than 3.0/4.0.

 

No mention of what happened to prev. game's hands (nothing unusual in SW games), most likely Redbeard excecuted them.

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The overall writing for some places was better, but some characters were generic. Too many places you are forced to do some things or die especially when telling Redbeard the truth. Parts of the game show Jeff's exhaustion in writing new material.

 

Some scripted fights required a few reloads to figure out how to survive especially on torment difficulty. The interesting thing was sometimes the easiest way wasn't what Jeff had planned for you to do. Killing Velusa was one example where there are different ways to win, but at least it isn't at the end of a long dungeon crawl. High Lord Golath requires replaying the whole zone if you don't have the right equipment at the end to win.

 

Reaching the level 30 cap depends upon quest order and when you read the codexes. The less experience at higher levels makes saving most of the codexes for the end more useful to reach level 30 before the final solo mission.

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Avernum 4 is pretty hugely different from Avernum 3. There's some egregious plot regurgitation in one major respect, but outside of that... I mean, A3 is open-ended, set on the surface, where you are a pale spy in a foreign land, with a world map, and a completely different engine. Also, it was written 8 years before the story of A4, so the circumstances of A4's creation are pretty different too.

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Warning: this post is a bit long, and also obviously spoilery.

 

A major problem with the Avadon games is that the world is very finite, and it's all basically sketched out in the first game- most of the codex entries are simply grandfathered into 2/3 from 1. By the end of game 2, you've already seen every major region of the world except Svorgald. You've already encountered all the exotic cultures of this world. You've already done great deeds all over.

 

So in 3, you get what are very close to reruns of episodes from the earlier games: the waveringly loyal Khemerian village that must be dealt with (again). Delving into the Corruption to stop Miranda (again). Going into the Warborn lands to storm a big Titan fortress (again). (Though this time you don't get the option to betray your allies.)

 

In each game you have to descend into the depths of the dungeons of Avadon (though for different reasons), and the essential layout doesn't change. The Eternal Prisoner is always there, and you can always free him, but he's always back again in the next game, with most of his dialogue copy-pasted but with the date changed. You always repeatedly encounter a recurring character whose motives are doubtful and who tries to get you to undermine the Pact (Tarkus, the Scout, Dheless/his crystal). The climax of each game is your choice whether to kill or remain loyal to Redbeard (but again, he's always back again anyway in 2/3).

 

Maybe it'd've been better to have a larger world? Or to be more stingy with how much of it you see over the first two games? I don't know. Maybe it'd've been better to keep Miranda's betrayal back until the second game? Or to move the start of the war forward (as Jeff suggests he should've done in the manual)? There are so many ways this could've gone differently and I suppose it's pointless to speculate.

 

Another major issue is the character writing. Jeff Vogel has always been a top-notch worldbuilder, and he's always been able to write memorable, funny characters, but he didn't start really trying to work at character development and character drama until Avernum 5/Geneforge 4. He's gotten better since then, but I think he's still not quite mature at it, and it's still a weakness. It's perfectly fine to have minor characters you only see briefly be memorable caricatures, but even the characters who get the most development- your companions- have a tendency to lapse into caricature. Maybe he spread his effort and skill too thin by trying to do 4-5 character arcs and character developments per game? I don't know.

 

Redbeard and Miranda are the NPCs (besides your party) who receive the most development, and in the first game it really is pretty interesting to learn more about these people. But both gradually devolve into one-note caricatures: Miranda becomes a revenge-obsessed monster and Redbeard becomes, as he himself describes it, a force of nature, single-minded and paranoid and obsessed. Both of them could've made for fantastic tragic figures (Miranda ruined by her inability to put the Pact above her personal life; Redbeard ruined or near-ruined by his lack of empathy that drives the Farlands into a rebellion on his watch, that he is too late to stop). So many possibilities.

 

In the end I think Avadon (as a work of narrative fiction) is good but not great (as a series of games it's obviously really good). It's like a pulpy high fantasy novel trilogy from the 70s or 80s. I think maybe after the next new Spiderweb game comes out, it might be seen retrospectively to be a transitional work, wedged between the high concept, high fantasy earlier Spiderweb games and whatever comes next. (At least, I hope it's a transitional work, rather than the mold any new games will follow. I'd still play the games even if they were all formulaic generic-fantasy romps, because I like the game rules, I like the writing, I like the creative settings, etc. But I'd much rather see Jeff advance and mature as an artist/writer as well as a programmer/designer, and do new and interesting things.)

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*nod nod nod*

 

Maybe it'd've been better to have a larger world? Or to be more stingy with how much of it you see over the first two games?

I don't think this was the problem. Exile/Avernum 1 and 2 provide the perfect counterexample. Exile 2 reused maybe 80-85% of the first game's geography, while perhaps half of its towns, dungeons, and characters were also repeats. And in that case, it was great.

 

The difference was the level of detailed thought that went into it. In Exile 2, it was clear that somebody had spent a long time thinking about all the nuances of the Empire's response, all the wrinkles of its invasion. When Cotra is destroyed, even though it's offscreen, you get so many viewpoints and connections to the rest of the story: the fort that launched the attack, the involvement of the eyebeasts, the conscripted adventurer trying to deal with the ruins, the attack's precipitation by the removal of the barriers, the reactions of the other mayors, the refugees and their tribulations. Lots of people talk about it, and it isn't announced to the player in a cutscene with the dude who advances the main plot -- you hear about it randomly, in some conversation, when you aren't expecting it. This feels like a real world.

 

In contrast, it took me a month to even realize that the Goldcrag whose ruins we visit in Avadon 3, was the town we visited in Avadon 1. Its destruction also happens offscreen, but we hear about it in a required scene with Redbeard, and it's not connected organically to anything else.

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By the end of game 2, you've already seen every major region of the world except Svorgald. You've already encountered all the exotic cultures of this world.

I was hoping for something out in Svorgald, really, for this very reason. But I guess part of the issue here, as Slarty sort of pointed out, is that the world was complicated but not deep; it consisted of a ton of things, but they each could be described in a few sentences — or even just a few words — and once you had met everyone and seen everything the first time, there was nothing more to them.

 

I'm struggling to think of anything that I learned about a major character that I didn't already know from a previous game. If Avadon 3 was going to be so much about Redbeard — as it ended up being — then we needed to hear more of his backstory than we did. How did he get to be so harsh? Who was he before he was Keeper? We get bits of answers, but he mostly avoids the questions, and I think there is essentially nothing new. This should have been Star Wars Episode 3, but it wasn't even that.

 

And I want to emphasize again that this is all mostly nitpicks of a generally enjoyable game. I thought it was good. I just thought it didn't live up to its potential.

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Jeff had admitted to exhaustion from writing 11 different factions. It's the same in the end of Geneforge 5 where there were only 6 factions, but different versions of the same quest depending upon the faction.

 

Some parts were well written like Camp Nightshade, the Green Refuge, Miranda's story, and Goldcrag. But the others were repeats or just filler where you hoped for more, but never got it. The Wyldrylm could have been mostly taken from the first two games and you wouldn't notice. Silena wasn't as good as Alcandar. Nathalie and Khalida didn't have much new material.

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I was hoping for something out in Svorgald, really, for this very reason.

 

You meet those Svorgaldi settlers in Botan's sidequest... which isn't really the same, but was actually one of my favorite parts of the game because it showed a group of people with human concerns in a setting not stereotyped by their nationality.

 

I was really disappointed by the lack of more development on Redbeard in 3. The entire series is essentially about him: Miranda's betrayal, the Farlands war, the spiralling internal disputes inside the Pact, are all kind of his fault, stemming from his black-and-white view of the world and lack of empathy. And yet, at the end of the series, it's hard to say you know more about the man than you did at the start.

 

Part of the problem is that he's a profoundly static character: almost all of the time he's just slouching around in his current bunker and waiting for you to take the initiative. You don't get to see him interact with other characters enough- how would Redbeard treat a nominal equal or superior (eg, a council member) to their face? How does he cut the deals that lead to the deaths of innocent people in return for political favor? How does he keep going so intensely for so long? (And "magic" is a pretty unsatisfying response to this.) What does he do in his off hours? Where did he get the apparently unique magic he uses to stay strong and youthful? We never get to see any of this. We don't even actually see Redbeard interact directly with Miranda except briefly in 3- and the relationship between them is one of the main threads of the series.

 

Also w/r/t the world getting exhausted: the super-linear nature of the Avadon games and the immediate series of tasks you're ordered to do means that you basically get railroaded through most of the areas of Lynaeus, and it's hard to get much more impression from them than a name, a biome, and an unusual local cultural quirk that the local elder/leader/commander can explain to you. Further, since you travel directly to flashpoint areas by portal, the world feels claustrophobic and small. (You don't use portals so much in 3 but the point holds true because the levels are spread in-universe hundreds of miles apart on the overworld map.)

 

Each area is too homogeneous as well. There's supposed to be a temperate northern reach of the Kva, but we never see it- just the cactus-strangled desert hellscape of the south. The Tawon Empire is meant to have great marble cities filled with rich, cosmopolitan citizens- but all you see is a lot of swamp and some remote temples and a provincial village. It's a shame.

 

Semi-related: I think part of the problem with Avadon's characterization, contrasted with Exile/Avernum's, is that everyone has to be part of a "faction". Nobody gets to have really unique desires other than your companions, and everyones' needs are framed by their faction... It's very genericizing. Exile/Avernum, on the other hand, has a world full of dissenters, rebels, oddballs, weirdos, etc, each of whom has their own angle. It makes for less macro-scale drama, obviously, but allows for more and more interesting micro-scale drama.

 

In Exile/Avernum: That woman in the fort at the start of the first game wants to know if her sister is okay and where she is. The Nephil bartender guy whose name I also forget sometimes has issues with racism from humans. Blacksmith man has a nonfunctional copy of Demonslayer as a conversation piece, and dreams of one day seeing the real thing.

 

In Avadon: Some shamaness woman wants you to fetch her some comfrey seeds, because she's a nature woman and of course she does. Other shamaness woman wants you to remove squatters from a magic stone circle... because of course she does. OTHER shamaness lady wants you to stop a local drake from upsetting the balance of the Green Refuge... because of course she does.

 

I still like and enjoy the Avadon series... just a lot of the time it feels like a lower-budget Bioware RPG.

 

(Sorry for the long aimless post but I gotta lotta thoughts to put down here.)

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Yup. The aim has to be for quality over quantity. Micro-scale over macro-scale.

 

SW has oscillated back and forth between those targets over time. After the detailed world-building of Exile 1 and 2, we got Exile 3, which was enormous, but felt more like a sketch -- it had perhaps thirty completely forgettable towns (populated by merchants with literally identical dialogue). Then it was followed by Nethergate, the smallest SW game ever made -- and without a doubt, one of the best written. There were only five traditional towns, but they include some of the most memorable towns from the Spiderweb corpus.

 

The needle's been stuck on quantity for a while now. I think the strictly linear nature of every newly written title from G3 onward is responsible as much as anything. It means that the game has to involve a parade of characters rather than a patchwork of them. It's just harder to tie the threads together when you have to keep them all in a certain sequence.

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While not disagreeing (or agreeing) with anything said above, I do think that there was a major difference in this game over the other two Avadon games. In this game, I felt off balance and threatened (which is a good thing). The lack of an actual home base (due to shifting from Nightshade to Green Refuge to Zethron's lair) to me made a difference and was noticeable. In Avadon 1 and 2 you had a room with your name on it in Avadon. Here you are running around with a rebel. In the previous two games I never thought that Red Beard was actually going to kill me. Yes there was Miranda's story and the eternal prisoner, but he never seemed that crazy to me until this game. I think that while Jeff might not done a lot with the dialogue he did do a lot with the tone this time.

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In the previous two games I never thought that Red Beard was actually going to kill me. Yes there was Miranda's story and the eternal prisoner, but he never seemed that crazy to me until this game. I think that while Jeff might not done a lot with the dialogue he did do a lot with the tone this time.

 

I haven't quite finished the game yet, but that's the biggest difference I've noticed so far from the others. Being the forum-common-enough Torment masochist, I've always had to replace Redbeard just to have done it, because it's a hurdle that's... *there*. If you don't spank Redbeard, don't beat Melanchion, didn't do the optional torture/challenge areas, "you didn't beat the game"... but the general feeling about meta-gaming to put down the ginger tyrant changes drastically from Avadon 1 and 2. Redbeard finally loses enough control that the player can SEE what everyone from the first two games is complaining about. He loses enough of his inspiring and amicable personality traits that he goes from "slightly abrasive but generally reasonable and pretty cool dude with a lot of power" to "barely tolerable nutjob whose destructive talents and authority need to be used as a tool until I can save the world from his inevitable hurricane of craziness". While I never doubted Redbeard's intentions (or rather, I never doubted that he *believed* his intentions), I definitely started to question whether his leadership was worth the cost. Because of Avadon 1 and 2, his descent into nutjobbery doesn't feel forced either, because the player can see it coming from literally two games away. No matter how much sanity or ability he lost, I never wanted to see Solberg go... but I finally *want* to kill Redbeard, and I'd say that's a job decently well-written.

 

I do think part of what Avadon's missing (personally liking almost all the other Spiderweb games more) is the parade vs patchwork thing Slarty mentioned. It's... kinda the difference between being told a story and experiencing a story

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No matter how much sanity or ability he lost, I never wanted to see Solberg go... but I finally *want* to kill Redbeard, and I'd say that's a job decently well-written.

 

 

For me, it was also a matter of the war being resolved....in games 1 and 2, it seemed to me we needed Redbeard or someone very like him...at the end of game 3, you've crushed the major threats to the Pact or at least trimmed them back to manageable levels, and can start to be a lot choosier about who leads you and what he can get away with. But I greatly enjoyed the whole experience -- for me, I didn't really need a whole new tangent or setting so much as a good resolution of the tensions from the first two games (as I'd gotten in Geneforge 5), And that, I got with this,

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In this game, I felt off balance and threatened (which is a good thing). The lack of an actual home base (due to shifting from Nightshade to Green Refuge to Zethron's lair) to me made a difference and was noticeable. In Avadon 1 and 2 you had a room with your name on it in Avadon. Here you are running around with a rebel.

I think that's true and significant. I felt a sense of progression and movement in Avadon 3 that I had not felt in the previous two games as we moved from home base to home base. This could have created a really cool effect if where we were progressing and moving to was somewhere new or startlingly different. But because it was just hopping around to tie up loose ends in places we'd already been, it lost a bit of its effect.

Redbeard finally loses enough control that the player can SEE what everyone from the first two games is complaining about. He loses enough of his inspiring and amicable personality traits that he goes from "slightly abrasive but generally reasonable and pretty cool dude with a lot of power" to "barely tolerable nutjob whose destructive talents and authority need to be used as a tool until I can save the world from his inevitable hurricane of craziness". While I never doubted Redbeard's intentions (or rather, I never doubted that he *believed* his intentions), I definitely started to question whether his leadership was worth the cost. Because of Avadon 1 and 2, his descent into nutjobbery doesn't feel forced either, because the player can see it coming from literally two games away. No matter how much sanity or ability he lost, I never wanted to see Solberg go... but I finally *want* to kill Redbeard, and I'd say that's a job decently well-written.

I think this is also true. Redbeard seemed far more out of control in Avadon 3 than in Avadon 1. In Avadon 1, when you tell him that you think the reason that he is telling you one of his long-winded stories is that he is advanced in years and that leads to rambling stories, he laughs uproariously. In Avadon 3, when you say anything even a little bit doubting him, he flies into a rage and thinks less of you.

 

But I wish we delved a bit more into that in Avadon 3. Redbeard is such a mysterious figure: where did he come from? Why does he care so much about preserving Avadon and the Pact? Who is this guy, really? We don't get quite enough of that to make the plot really work, I think.

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That's a good point. Imagine if the plot of Avadon 3 had been a quest to unravel the secrets of Redbeard's identity and past, because they were in some way critical to the Pact's survival? That would justify all the travelling, and there'd be a real sense of intrigue. It fits perfectly with everything hinted at about Redbeard's alter egos (and alternate families) in different locations. And it would be a truly fitting way to cap off a series inspired by Bluebeard's Castle: now, finally, we open the doors, and discover the truth behind Redbeard!

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Miranda was oldest who knew Redbeard and even then Redbeard had been keeper long time, some vague memory says that Redbeard had destroyed all evidents about his origins.

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Can i just say that i think jeff focused a bit too much on user feedback? It was a first i ever experienced of a developer engaging with the users. And it was nice but... I feel some of what we wanted was implemented but at some cost in detail and writing, like with geneforge games some parts seem simply copy pasted. I was *very* disappointed to see redbeard again. But to me it seemed like a well balanced game, with good mechanics, some very good battles(though both the redbeard fight and the dragon fight in a2 were better than the equivalents here(imo, redbeard in a3 was all over the place and not very challenging)) I can't say that the culmination of it should be much different, a good part of the game's flaws come from the setting. Only trully interesting thing in it is the corruption, the franchise itself brings nothing new to the genre and this one, brings nothing new to the franchise.

 

I actually was very surprised he didn't do the g4 take on things and have us play on the opposite side in the beginning. I was sorta hoping to get farlands warriors.

 

But yah, Jeff seems to slacked on the writing a bit. On the good side we done with the ugly baby series of sw for good. Now we can go back to remaking already good games!

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That's a good point. Imagine if the plot of Avadon 3 had been a quest to unravel the secrets of Redbeard's identity and past, because they were in some way critical to the Pact's survival? That would justify all the travelling, and there'd be a real sense of intrigue. It fits perfectly with everything hinted at about Redbeard's alter egos (and alternate families) in different locations. And it would be a truly fitting way to cap off a series inspired by Bluebeard's Castle: now, finally, we open the doors, and discover the truth behind Redbeard!

 

AVADON 4: you play as a young man/woman toiling at a dead-end job in an obscure corner of Lynaeus... then you get attacked by assassins seemingly at random! and find out you're one of Redbeard's children!!! Then it turns out that the bad guy... is Miranda's son/daughter who she mentioned in passing once!!! And you gotta travel the world seeking out Redbeard's other secret families, and your half-siblings!!! And team up with them to save the Pact again, or something.

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AVADON 4: you play as a young man/woman toiling at a dead-end job in an obscure corner of Lynaeus... then you get attacked by assassins seemingly at random! and find out you're one of Redbeard's children!!! Then it turns out that the bad guy... is Miranda's son/daughter who she mentioned in passing once!!! And you gotta travel the world seeking out Redbeard's other secret families, and your half-siblings!!! And team up with them to save the Pact again, or something.

 

I don't know if it's intended or not, but I smell Baldur's Gate all over that one. Swap Redbeard and Miranda's child for Baal and Sarevok and it's pretty darn close, including eventual combat between half-siblings and sometimes working with them. And somehow, even as cool as Redbeard can be, he's no match for the Lord of Murder and Destruction. If Dheless fanned the flames of war in an attempt to weaken the Pact and Avadon and eventually overthrow Redbeard and become keeper, you'd have an exact copy of Sarevok.

Maybe you eventually find out the only reason Redbeard tolerates Protus is that Protus is a bastard child and even he doesn't know it. That'd be a wonky "huh!?" moment

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Jeff likes vagueness in his games. So not finding out Redbeard's past allows for us to fill in the gaps and Jeff doesn't have to think about them.

 

After all the PC could be Redbeard's child and that's why you are chosen. Then you really have a grudge since he's neglected you in order to "protect" you.

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I agree with the general idea that the Avadon world holds many more stories. I would play Av4 for sure. But my understanding is that Jeff will be starting an entirely new series after the A3 remake and I will play that too.

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I disagree with the general idea that avadon has more stories to tell. The world isn't charming and it seems too tied to redbeard which is a person i don't like.

 

The only true mystery remaining is the corruption.

I do think however that avadon world has great prequel value. Consider Telera's founding of it(though would be too similar to a3) or better yet; you're Redbeard. Tells the story better than just reading and it gives you insight on what decisions you had to make to become him and how different he would be as a person if he made different decisions.

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Ugh, no. If we've learned anything from Avadon, it's that random factional fighting isn't interesting unless you can really feel for the different factions or nations. In Geneforge at least it was possible to sympathize with one or another perspective on shaping and on the shapers, so the ideologies of the Awakened and Takers and etc could feel personal. But in Avadon it's really just "well, these are different countries and different ethnic groups and they just do things a little bit differently, and there is a rebellion basically because people can't agree on who should control power, not actually because any ethical principles are at stake." Telera and the founding of Avadon would just be more of that.

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I've yet to finish Av3 but I'll throw my opinion in regardless and reiterate my thoughts. This has been the least interesting of the Spiderweb game series that I've played. Kinda fun, some good positive steps but the player feels too removed. Slarty made a good point above with regards to the fact that these are just different countries doing things a bit differently. I, as a player, have no connection to any of them so can't really empathise at all.

 

This style might have worked a bit better if there had been a first game where I played entirely within one of the countries so I could actually feel a part of that 'tribe' rather than being an outsider the whole time pretending to care about their silly squabbles. I won't say I regret buying but I certainly would not have bought if I didn't feel some sort of emotional connection to the spiderweb community in some way.

 

It feels a bit like drinking one of those micro-brew beers that tastes bad but deserves support for trying new things. (As opposed to the Geneforge series which genuinely felt to me like a new and wonderful take on things - that got me genuinely excited).

 

TL;DR - the whole thing was too complicated and too distant for me to care about anything, at all.

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I don't know if it's intended or not, but I smell Baldur's Gate all over that one.

I had the same thought.

Jeff likes vagueness in his games. So not finding out Redbeard's past allows for us to fill in the gaps and Jeff doesn't have to think about them.

This totally works if the game is just about open-ended exploration not focused on any particular character. But Redbeard is so central to Avadon 3 — to the whole Avadon series, really, but especially Avadon 3 — that it's problematic not to do anything with his character. He changes from Avadon 1 to Avadon 3, but in changing, he loses depth, and I have trouble being interested in him unless there's something else giving him depth (such as a backstory).

 

Again, I think it's the GF3 problem: war has now broken out and what was interesting subtext has now become text, so your options narrow and characters are more directly forced to choose sides and take simpler paths. But at the same time, that sort of game has to be handled a little differently so as to keep everyone from becoming a caricature of themselves.

I, as a player, have no connection to any of them so can't really empathise at all.

I wonder how different it would have been if the player had been given a background in one of these countries (i.e., in Avadon 3, you're from Dharam and actually have a family, a past, etc.). To some extent, the companion Hands are supposed to simulate that, but I felt really distant from the other Hands in Avadon 3 (more so than in Avadon 1). Maybe because they travel with Redbeard without you? I'm not sure.

 

But in Avadon 1, I might have cared more about the Free Roads if I had actually been from the Wyldrylm (or whatever — insert your favorite conflict here), and if some of the plot had revolved around that (going back to family and friends and having to choose between carrying out Avadon's orders and doing what my people wanted). I don't think it was as badly needed there, but it might have helped in Avadon 2, and I think it would have helped in Avadon 3.

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Thinking about this some more... being explicitly part of a particular country and having some backstory there could have helped, but only if it meant the story were presented in a more ethically compelling way. In Exile/Avernum, the first plot point of the series is that the Empire doesn't tolerate people who fail to conform, and exiles them to a dangerous underground cave system. In Geneforge, you have the literal enslavement of whole species to fight against, and/or the world-destroying misuse of shaping power to protect against -- and let's not forget Shanti!

 

In Avadon, though there are certainly egregious abuses of power, nothing really rises to those levels; nor is there a Grah-Hoth or Monarch style threat to all visible civilization. I don't think it's possible to for the Free Roads to ever really make me feel good about the rebellion. But suppose the game's first quest ended with your mentor Daum sacrificing himself in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the execution of Geert in front of Chief Tilla? Suppose Khalida joined you just prior to the events with Xenophon, and she was actually permanently removed from your party when she is taken to the Avadon dungeons?

 

Nuance is good. Multiple factions are good. But every faction needs some kind of serious ethical credibility (however narrow) or it just looks like petty, squabbling warlords. I want to invoke the old scenario Nephil's Gambit here: every faction needs some character about whom the PCs can stand up and declaim: "I back the charms of the fair priestess Karolynna!"

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There was alcander with family and past and when he goes to dharam theres that girl that recognised him. Dredric had that but not as well done. I do remember i was better able to empathise with the companions in A1 and A2 than in A3. They didn't seem stale. And honestly had i had family in wyldrim i'd still have disliked the obsessive drama. I mean, i understand their situation but i just don't care. You could have evil colonialist foreigners slaughter my family and i still wouldn't care. Nor think its worth the fuss. There is something fundamentally wrong with how it was presented.

Bring me to dragon age. The plight of the elves and of the mages somehow get to you(I guess having to choose yo kill or help "helpless" kids does make you care more on your decisions) . You get to witness both sides of the story on all lights. Here you only ever hear the wyldrim whinning about their land. No one who actually goes there and demolishes circles and forrests to build a trump tower. Even when talking about the rebelion outlanders seem to treat it more as a headache than as something serious.

 

You are better able to empathise with the farlands than your own people. Even then by a3 i only managed to give a hoot about the warborn. Everyone else is like... Meh.I suppose its because their artful show of revolt was pointless completely. And all the bad that comes, they had it coming. But again you don't really get to feel the tawon as well as in a2(cept for poor brasula) the khemerians its pretty light compared to avadon 1 and to add insult to injury you actually get to choose to spare them? I mean... The stead in A1 did nothing really worthy of that much destruction. Whoever ever cared about the rebels? Now the warborn on the first avadon were not portrayed as trully intelligent beings. More so a rowdy rough bunch that lived for pillage and loot also mercenary services(honestly lord svarl striked me as the honestly smartest of the bunch) here you're presented with people you're able to reason with. People that are smarter and have more sense than many around you.

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might have cared more about the Free Roads if I had actually been from the Wyldrylm

 

suppose the game's first quest ended with your mentor Daum sacrificing himself in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the execution of Geert in front of Chief Tilla? Suppose Khalida joined you just prior to the events with Xenophon, and she was actually permanently removed from your party when she is taken to the Avadon dungeons?

Nuance is good. Multiple factions are good. But every faction needs some kind of serious ethical credibility (however narrow) or it just looks like petty, squabbling warlords.

 

That's part of the issue I've seen with a lot of the Avadon series... it's obvious that there are lots of reasons for the upset of most parties, but few of them really seem to matter, or said reasons aren't stressed enough to become important to the player.

 

I realize the whole Free Roads/toll thing is only part of the Wyldrylm rebels' issue, but it seems like a problem small enough that it shouldn't lead to rebellion. Problems with the Free Roads leading to settlers moving in and slowly disrupting the shamans' nature magic is an issue, as is the perceived "intrusion" that comes with it, but somehow it doesn't seem to have enough impact on the culture to have incited rebellion (beyond maybe some pride or unwillingness to find some sort of compromise or different methodology for the rebellion). Can't remember who, but somebody said "any country willing to give up a little freedom for a little security will lose both and deserve neither", and the Wyldrylm seems to have taken that WAY too seriously. Maybe if the effects on nature were much more apparent and much more... culturally abhorrent than just tradition, and the Free Road/settler thing had much bigger effects on the land, maybe if it were more apparent that the rebels had tried many different things, even extremes, for hundreds of years (in an attempt to find a compromise) and been repeatedly punished for trying to be reasonable... and their gripe was entirely with Avadon's enforcement powers because of it, rather than the Pact's laws as a whole...

 

Eh, even the other disputes feel the same. Almost all the conflicts like the Beraza Woods feel like "squabbles" over little to nothing, just ignorant and prideful people being idiots for the sake of creating factions so there can be conflict. Now perhaps if, for example, the Free Roads and loss of tolls controlling traffic were crippling the entire region and increased settlement disrupting nature had somehow actually *caused* the Corruption and was making it worse, and there were other similar problems with other factions, I could see the storyline falling into place nicely. The Corruption (and other disputes) could become a mysterious Grah-Hoth, something that could actually be fought and worked against, something worthy of saying "No! We won't stand for this any longer! Redbeard/Avadon/whateverfaction get outta mah house!" As things are, it all feels like murder over a misplaced plate of pancakes. Maybe there's too many factions for any of them to really matter, seems a common-enough sentiment. The amount of writing that would be required to do all that is enough that I don't even want to imagine what it would take, much less actually do it... can't blame anyone for not going that far.

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Bring me to dragon age. The plight of the elves and of the mages somehow get to you(I guess having to choose yo kill or help "helpless" kids does make you care more on your decisions) . You get to witness both sides of the story on all lights

 

At first, I was all for siding with the mages, and despising the religious feel of the literally-religious Chantry probably helped with that... but as you play through the games, it becomes an extremely complicated set of issues. Maybe there's actually merit to some of the religious views, not just in belief but in actual fact. Maybe persecution of the magically-inclined isn't fair, but life isn't fair, and people are terrified of what happens when human nature combines with power. Sure, a little boy accidentally setting someone's hair on fire isn't a reason to lock up entire populations in a tower, but the fact that mages actually *do* attract spirits and demons and such might be. That human nature combined with enough magical power *did* actually lead to such a catastrophe that it created a religion and actually created the main evil race of the first few games and warped reality forever might just be a good reason to see things from the other side. Even some of the most powerful mages spend their lives controlling other mages and lobbying for more... "governmental" or institutional control of their kind, because while they can't change what they are they've *seen* the damage that can be done by even a few mislead people.

 

And then you combine fearful and sometimes-unreasonable persecution with human nature, people who feel they should be exempt, those who don't believe or don't know the reasons behind their own persecution have a solid foundation, you get rebellion. Several entire games revolve around that single mythology, that conflict between two or three factions and their splinter groups, and it pays off. You may still never be convinced that your initial feeling about a group was wrong, but there's so much information and atmosphere and philosophy (and atrocities here and there) that maybe your dedication wavers now and then.

 

To me, that seems to be part of what the Exiles and Geneforges had that Avadon sorta slipped up on... the world got too big and too petty and too complicated for the player to get lost in the minutia of the lore. "Reach beyond grasp" comes to mind, and Jeff sorta said as much. Somebody needs to clone him a few times and drop copies of his brain into the extra bodies to increase his grasp, we need more Jeffs to actually flesh out the ideas he's got, remove the time and effort restrictions on his vision

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At first, I was all for siding with the mages, and despising the religious feel of the literally-religious Chantry probably helped with that... but as you play through the games, it becomes an extremely complicated set of issues. Maybe there's actually merit to some of the religious views, not just in belief but in actual fact. Maybe persecution of the magically-inclined isn't fair, but life isn't fair, and people are terrified of what happens when human nature combines with power. Sure, a little boy accidentally setting someone's hair on fire isn't a reason to lock up entire populations in a tower, but the fact that mages actually *do* attract spirits and demons and such might be. That human nature combined with enough magical power *did* actually lead to such a catastrophe that it created a religion and actually created the main evil race of the first few games and warped reality forever might just be a good reason to see things from the other side. Even some of the most powerful mages spend their lives controlling other mages and lobbying for more... "governmental" or institutional control of their kind, because while they can't change what they are they've *seen* the damage that can be done by even a few mislead people.

 

And then you combine fearful and sometimes-unreasonable persecution with human nature, people who feel they should be exempt, those who don't believe or don't know the reasons behind their own persecution have a solid foundation, you get rebellion. Several entire games revolve around that single mythology, that conflict between two or three factions and their splinter groups, and it pays off. You may still never be convinced that your initial feeling about a group was wrong, but there's so much information and atmosphere and philosophy (and atrocities here and there) that maybe your dedication wavers now and then.

 

To me, that seems to be part of what the Exiles and Geneforges had that Avadon sorta slipped up on... the world got too big and too petty and too complicated for the player to get lost in the minutia of the lore

 

Im quoting the whole thing. With D.A. i feel like its too big a world to be able to adress everything so they really tried to focus on a little each time in d.a.2 that actually worked out well but then they got not all good reviews on that one so they tried to go big again but missed what made the first game iconic. Which even being *HUGE*(Seriously by the time you get into orzamar you think its almost done but then the deep roads, by then you're "let me fight the scary dragon already!" But then there is denerim and a whole load of stuff there. Plus side quest and stuff) managed to get you a feel of things like all of the factions(i do remember starting over just to get bellen in power) idk what went wrong in inquisition but still a great game. I do assign all the blame on my lack of zeal on anders. And orsino.

 

Buuuut. I disagree, for one we have the solas plot twist thing, its not petty. And he himself says almost exactly what you said here. You can still pretty much dive into that world and its a good trip.

 

On the other side i suppose having too many choices to make, makes them have less value.

 

Anyway i have too many feelings and opinions on the franchise to be able to coherently express them without going waayyy off topic.

 

But my point is, you care in D.A. You care in Geneforge and you also care in avernum. Even by the end of them you do. But avadon from the start you dont care.

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But my point is, you care in D.A. You care in Geneforge and you also care in avernum. Even by the end of them you do. But avadon from the start you dont care.

 

Sorta what I meant, perhaps the things I said were misread. I'm the kind of person who'll play Mass Effect games and I bother to read all the codex entries and say everything that can possibly be said in different playthroughs to experience the characters and their philosophies and interactions. I'm the kind of person who'll install literally hundreds of mods in Fallout:NV and spend 500 hours on a complete playthrough, more than once. One of the first birthday presents I ever actually wanted was the Exile Trilogy on CD, something I discovered on some random collection of shareware ADHD silliness with like 150 different games. I still make fun of people who care too much about graphics by showing examples of the old Exile stuff and saying it's just fine "because story reasons". Most of Jeff's games are fantastic and even iconic to people who've played them, an "example for all" that awe-inspiring technical feats don't mean anything compared to good writing.

 

Personally, I tried to play the original Dragon Age (and ended up uninstalling it and reinstalling it 4-5 times in disgust and frustration) because I *hated* the gameplay, it was awful. Eventually the gameplay and my own determination to see what the fuss was about grew on me and it quickly became one of the few games I've ever played through more than once, even becoming one I've played through 3-4 times (much like most of the Exiles and Geneforges and their rewrites). Once I simply accepted the gameplay and learned to deal with it, the story and lore took over. Part of why people generally disliked DA:II was a drastic change in gameplay and storytelling that was so different from what people got used to that it was... abrasive. The only thing that really made up for DA:II's failures was continuity of lore and how much I love Eve Myles' voice. The Avadon series suffers from some of the same issues, drastically simplified character creation and party assembly (and changed world exploration) that works against what Spiderweb fans are used to. People don't like change once they find something they like or get used to, and trying to be "new and better" can be dangerous for that reason.

 

Part of the "let me fight the big scary dragon already" isn't just an impatience for endgame or conclusions to plot pieces, but a subconscious need to close the story, to get things over with. It's... kinda boredom, and DA:II had that problem for a lot of its gameplay. If you're paying enough attention to the lore, enjoying the experience, like to figure things out and explore your options, you almost don't want to fight the big scary dragon; it becomes a mission to understand the big scary dragon, figure out what it wants and why it's doing what it does how it feels and how it sees the world, figure out whether killing the big scary dragon is worth the time and effort and what effects it might cause within the lore and the world you've been presented. Done properly, you kinda feel sympathy for whatever you're about to destroy and see the merits of whatever decisions it's made, but decide that the path you've chosen is better for yourself or for all (depending on how munchkin you go in your gameplays). You can't really be forced to care about something, and human nature is to rebel against anything that feel forced (we want to be our own people). The slower an idea is introduced, the more details we have, the more urgently a situation seems to need a fix, the more reasonable an action seems, the more we want it to happen and the better we understand it, empathize with it.

 

Something about the Avadon games falls a bit short of that effect when it comes to storytelling. Maybe it's the parade of characters and issues vs the patchwork/exploration of them, maybe it's the sheer number of issues and lack of details, but it's there. They're still fun games and are good for a many-houred playthrough that consumes far more of our lives than we'd like, but something is missing that some other games have. There's a *spark* that just... doesn't happen. The attempt at Avadon's world is probably too big for the amount of work that could have feasibly gone into making it happen, and it suffers a bit because of it.

 

And to clarify, I still love you Jeff. Don't take any of that as derogatory, you still introduced me to the kind of game I've always loved most

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Nuance is good. Multiple factions are good. But every faction needs some kind of serious ethical credibility (however narrow) or it just looks like petty, squabbling warlords.

 

I had this problem a lot with the games. It's like reading about something like the Seven Years' War or the War of the Spanish Succession: the issues at stake are so remote from my experience in the present, the alliances are so arbitrary, the causes so nakedly realpolitikal and self-interested that, while maybe interesting intellectually, I can't really bring myself to identify with either side, or to root for either, or even just to think one side is more "right" than the other.

 

The Pact doesn't really have any ideals it stands for. It's just an entity desperate to preserve its imperial hegemony over the Farlands. Some of the constituent nations are maybe more admirable than others, but on the whole they're all in it out of self-interest. You aren't just fighting to defend the Pact nations, which would at least be sort of sympathetic; you're also fighting to restore the overbearing, nearly master-colony relationship between Pact and Farlands. Redbeard is a man with a powerful vision, but it's a very short-sighted vision incapable of inspiring.

 

And then the ending straight up says that nothing you fought for mattered in the end, anyway: maybe you bought another few decades before the Pact tore itself apart for good, or maybe you made it happen a few decades sooner. Whatever.

 

It's hard to care about the internal disputes of the Pact nations either... the Beraza Woods thing is like viewing the Alsace-Lorraine issue as an American: who cares? Why should I care whether the semifeudal mageocracy or the clannish, feud-ridden tribal collective gets this terrible forest?

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And then the ending straight up says that nothing you fought for mattered in the end, anyway: maybe you bought another few decades before the Pact tore itself apart for good, or maybe you made it happen a few decades sooner.

 

SPOOLERZS ZOMG U RUIN MEH LEIF

 

"like viewing the Alsace-Lorraine issue as an American: who cares? Why should I care whether the semifeudal mageocracy or the clannish, feud-ridden tribal collective gets this terrible forest?"

Yeah, that. All my long-winded nonsense in a few words. "Why should I care? Oh, I don't... but I won the game, I guess"

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I realize the whole Free Roads/toll thing is only part of the Wyldrylm rebels' issue, but it seems like a problem small enough that it shouldn't lead to rebellion. Problems with the Free Roads leading to settlers moving in and slowly disrupting the shamans' nature magic is an issue, as is the perceived "intrusion" that comes with it, but somehow it doesn't seem to have enough impact on the culture to have incited rebellion (beyond maybe some pride or unwillingness to find some sort of compromise or different methodology for the rebellion).

 

 

I see it very differently...I suspect one of the inspirations for this was the conflict between English settlers and American Indians in the colonial and post-colonial period...there were a lot of efforts to solve the issue (Henry Knox, a Revolutionary War artillery commander, was especially prominent in them), but the fundamental problem was this: agriculture gave the white settlers a lot more population density; the government wasn't strong enough to stop them encroaching on Indian lands, no matter what treaties said; and that meant, in the end, they were going to be driven off all of it. The Wyldrylm is kept to a low population density, not because they aren't up to agriculture, but because they need the low population density for their magic. Once you start letting more "built-up" outsiders in...it's inevitable that the Wyldrylmers themselves are going to lose their land and way of life. They're farsighted enough to see that, especially if their main defense is magic that will go away if too many people move into their lands. That's why they're trying to nip it in the bud, and why they're so melancholy when they lose.

 

 

Can't remember who, but somebody said "any country willing to give up a little freedom for a little security will lose both and deserve neither", and the Wyldrylm seems to have taken that WAY too seriously.

 

It was Ben Franklin...quote was "Those who would give up some of their Liberty, to obtain a little temporary Safety, deserve neither." (Blxz and I chatted about it in his Let's Play Geneforge 5 thread.) Interestingly, Franklin was using the saying to praise Pennsylvania frontiersmen who refused to do this. (He was trying to persuade the legislature to provide them with more arms and ammunition against Indian attacks instead of calling on troops to be stationed there, if I remember.) But for my reasons above I think they legitimately see it as an issue with their long-term survival.

 

 

It's like reading about something like the Seven Years' War or the War of the Spanish Succession: the issues at stake are so remote from my experience in the present, the alliances are so arbitrary, the causes so nakedly realpolitikal and self-interested that, while maybe interesting intellectually, I can't really bring myself to identify with either side, or to root for either, or even just to think one side is more "right" than the other.

 

 

 

Now for me, the War of the Spanish Succession is a fine example of what makes this sort of thing interesting. (In fact, I found the Avadon alliances less "alien" and more like the world I know than the ones in Geneforge.) The point was pretty simple: if one king rules both France and Spain, France becomes hugely powerful by itself, and can start dictating terms to other European powers in trade or colonial squabbles, or even in effort to obtain more land. The solution is to nip it in the bud.

 

 

Something similar happened a few times in the history of the Roman Republic...the empire of Alexander had split into separate kingdoms. On one occasion, the king of Syria (Antiochus) managed to defeat the king of Egypt (Ptolemy) and so start building an empire that could've grown strong enough to conquer Rome....so Rome sent messengers to Antiochus with a simple ultimatum: disgorge Egypt or we march. He disgorged. On another occasion, the Syrians took some territory in Greece and Rome did march...not because the Syrians were massing troops on the Roman border right then, but because they didn't want them to get strong enough to do it. I call this sort of thing "a war about the nexl war" -- i.e., you are fighting now because you can win now, not because of your casus belli. (And I think World War I was an especially awful example, but also very understandable.) Machiavellian? Sure...but it's how you stay alive in a dangerous world.

 

 

The point is, if you want your empire or even your wealthy republic to survive in a world like that, you can't just think about your immediate causes or grievances...you have to look at future trends, and who can hurt you later, and what you have to do to stop it now. Redbeard is good at that sort of thing...both domestically and in foreign affairs...as successful dictators often are. When you've got enemies on all sides, it's distasteful, but he's just the kind of man you need to deal with it. Unlike the real world, the world of Avadon gets a "happy ending"...almost all the threats are on an island, you can reduce them to non-threats for a long time, that doesn't leave a new set of enemies ready to join against you to stop your new power....and that safety means you can start to be choosier about your leaders.

 

 

(Though the ending text suggests that new dangers come along anyway, in the future, just as they always seem to really do.)

 

 

Plus, the Tawonites are revanchist imperialists of the worst kind, and I can only suppose that a successful Dhelessian conquest would be far worse and more humiliating for the Pact nations. In the Pact itself, Avadon rules but it's small. If Tawon takes over, we're all paying tribute to them, and they can eat a lot more tribute than the Black Fortress. And as the Tawonites would have an interest in keeping the Pact nations weak and divided to stop rebellions, giving them more incentive for tyranny than Redbeard has. So for me, not only are Redbeard's ways understandable for all their harshness (through the first two games) but the enemy is very much worth fighting even if his rulership is the price.

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Now for me, the War of the Spanish Succession is a fine example of what makes this sort of thing interesting. (In fact, I found the Avadon alliances less "alien" and more like the world I know than the ones in Geneforge.) The point was pretty simple: if one king rules both France and Spain, France becomes hugely powerful by itself, and can start dictating terms to other European powers in trade or colonial squabbles, or even in effort to obtain more land. The solution is to nip it in the bud.

 

This is true, but what I mean is that the concerns of that war are so remote from today's concerns (in our postimperial world) that it's difficult to relate to them immediately: if a Bourbon personal union of France/Spain had happened, the consequences would've surely meant a lot to the people of the time, but in retrospect it's hard to say things would've been very different. The everyday lives of the average non-noble people of Europe wouldn't've appreciably changed, unlike they did during the Napoleonic Wars or World War II. Things would only have changed on a grand scale, in a system that is now essentially irrelevant.

 

Same with Lynaeus, mostly: the Tawon ruled most of the continent once before, and there's not really any indication that they were particularly cruel or demanding overlords. They certainly didn't accomplish much in the way of eliminating local national identities. If they conquered much of the world again, what should that matter to the player? Why should it matter to the player which overlord the people of the Kva pay homage to- their king or the Tawon emperor- unless they have an anachronistic belief in the rightness of an order of nation-states?

 

Essentially what I mean is that the stakes in the Avadon series are much too high: that is, on too high a scale. You never get any idea of what's at stake on a personal, immediate, sympathetic level, so the conflicts become cold and intellectual.

 

In Avernum 2, it's clear that what's at stake is the Avernites' fundamental rights to dissent and creativity and individualism. If the Empire conquers them, they'll be lucky to survive as slaves, and even if they were given amnesty and allowed to return to the Empire, it'd be a return to the stifling conformist political order that ejected them in the first place.

 

I think the Geneforge games (mainly the earlier ones) have a similar problem: you just don't get to know enough people to care about the issues on anything but the most abstracted level, like a philosophical thought experiment. Only with 4/5 do you really get a feel for the personalities behind the issues.

 

In Avadon, the personalities behind the issues are essentially Redbeard and Dheless; Redbeard gets shallower rather than deeper over the course of the series, and you spend like ten minutes with Dheless and all he gives you is some vague national revanchist pride stuff. Maybe Redbeard's methods are justified; maybe Dheless's rebellion is justified; but we just don't get enough information to make this decision.

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Sorta what I meant, perhaps the things I said were misread. I'm the kind of person who'll play Mass Effect games and I bother to read all the codex entries and say everything that can possibly be said in different playthroughs to experience the characters and their philosophies and interactions. I'm the kind of person who'll install literally hundreds of mods in Fallout:NV and spend 500 hours on a complete playthrough, more than once. One of the first birthday presents I ever actually wanted was the Exile Trilogy on CD, something I discovered on some random collection of shareware ADHD silliness with like 150 different games. I still make fun of people who care too much about graphics by showing examples of the old Exile stuff and saying it's just fine "because story reasons". Most of Jeff's games are fantastic and even iconic to people who've played them, an "example for all" that awe-inspiring technical feats don't mean anything compared to good writing.

 

 

 

Something about the Avadon games falls a bit short of that effect when it comes to storytelling. Maybe it's the parade of characters and issues vs the patchwork/exploration of them, maybe it's the sheer number of issues and lack of details, but it's there. They're still fun games and are good for a many-houred playthrough that consumes far more of our lives than we'd like, but something is missing that some other games have. There's a *spark* that just... doesn't happen. The attempt at Avadon's world is probably too big for the amount of work that could have feasibly gone into making it happen, and it suffers a bit because of it.

 

And to clarify, I still love you Jeff. Don't take any of that as derogatory, you still introduced me to the kind of game I've always loved most

 

Yah i misread. But true i only very lightly read the Avadon codex. I suppose its good that avadon is significantly shorter than than the rest. It would be a pain to go through something im not passionate about.

On the gameplay i actually prefered da origins rather than d.a. 2. Its like, i was always a fan of strategy games. Aoe, geneforge, avernum etc, and they all allow for like view from top. Allows for better notion of the battleground and control over whats going on. Not so in d.a.2 but i think like the first was made for pc in mind and the second with a game console in mind.

 

Also

something about not knowing if Redbeard or dheless are justified. [/Quote]

Yes we do, the treatment of the farlands is the main reason the rebelion happened. And we have a very good pararel in real life with that with the treatment of Germany after ww1 by the league of nations. Huge and ridiculous reparations, disbandment of their army(taking away their right to self defence), constant humiliation and ridicule, ostracism etc... That is the main reason hitler got in power. And why even though Germany's crimes in ww2 were much greater in scale and number, it still wasn't treated that way. And mind you tawon did nothing wrong exactly, it used to contri dahram and kelemdriel dharam had a problem with the sovereign thing. Kelem im not even sure what it wanted. Anyway. It wasn't a cruel overlord. Just a generic one. Seriously one thing is winning a fight another is adding insult to injury. It shows lack of honour. And its as childish as t-bagging.

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