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Seeking assistance with converting Avernum to pathfinder

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Hello everyone.


Let me get right to the point. I have loved the Avernum setting ever since I got a shareware disc back in the 90s with the original exile trilogy on it. The setting has always been something I've wanted to try doing in a tabletop format.


I know a lot of people have tried to hash out Avernum as a setting for d and d or other games, but it seems no one has managed to pull it off (or at least if they did I couldn't find any information about it)


So, I have decided to give it a try. I was wondering if anyone had any info or work from previous attempts etc? Anything would be awesome.


As to how I plan to run it I am thinking of using a kingmaker like hex map that the players will explore. Thinking of setting it around escape from the pit.


Anyway thanks in advance.

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People have TALKED about making a tabletop RPG of Exile / Avernum for years. And usually when they do, they ask if there's any extant work or other useful info from previous attempts. :p I don't recall ever seeing anything of the sort, however. If anyone in past actually did get further than just talk, then I don't think it's ever shown up here on the forums in any substantial way.

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If it helps, http://homebrewery.naturalcrit.com/ is an amazing online tool to make your own D&D style sourcebooks.  I've been using it for my own home-brew D&D campaign.


I know it's not exactly what you were looking for, but it may help you keep things organized and looking professional, which is pretty helpful for me, at least.  Good luck!

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I've actually tried doing similar myself a bit over the years. Has anyone ever produced random encounter lists from Avernum (or the prior remakes, or Exile?)? Might make at least some work easier, since you know, you can provide random encounter lists for the Eastern Gallery, etc etc. Most of the other information you might need to run a campaign in an Avernum-based setting (maps, items, races, etc) are already easily accessible from the game itself or the online maps.

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There used to be just such an RPG on this forum... Text based, though....... 


But I digress. 


Anyways, if you're on roll20 I"ll happily play test/bounce ideas around/etc. with you. Sounds like a great idea and shouldn't be TOO hard if you can convert the walkthrough into it. 

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Are you looking to build your own Avernum-styled classes and monsters in the Pathfinder system, or are you looking to play existing Pathfinder content in an Avernum-like setting?

Creating a lot of custom content might seem really neat at first, but often ends up being really limiting in scope versus the standard classes and such. I would recommend thinking long and hard about what really makes Avernum unique and just re-skinning a few things here and there to fit the flavor you are going for.

Some key points I would focus on:
The 3 unique races, Nephi and Sliths and Vahnati have their own cultures and attitudes

Most monsters differ slightly from standard D&D/Pathfinder, note the differences and play up the uniquenesses
The gaunt, pale, and for the most part, sickly appearance of the Avernites

The camraderie (spelling?) of Avernites, and how each individual contributes to the whole in unique and unconventional ways

How broken, roughshod, and jerry-rigged most things down here are and the contrast between Empire-built structures

Use optional rules for piecemeal armor and be liberal with lightly-enchanted parts

Mayors being major questgivers

Lots of secret doors, levers, and switches

Having Sages that identify items and will sell obscure knowledge

Bandits and Thugs are a thing, and they love to build castles and fortresses

Severely limit the learning of spells of 3rd or 4th level and above, make them feel like treasures to be found

Flesh out different religions, especially the Anama Cult
Option for Mages to have studied in the School of Magery or Tower of Magi

I guess give all characters an optional background in something unique to Avernum, like the Scimitar
*Mushroom Beer
*Don't ever let them catch a wandering herd of cave cows, even if they are resourceful and innovative enough to take down a fully-grown dragon

*Only let them have Swords and Spears, tell them bows are underpowered frequently

*Encourage them to play casters or caster hybrids

*Nobody can swim, boating is an option though


Take all entries marked with * with a grain of salt

I guess I kinda went overboard

I just love this series so much!

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Years ago, I made rules to convert Avernum to MERP/Rolemaster 2nd edition and later also RMFRP. The most problematic thing about that was the magic system: Rolemaster magic system doesn't feel like it fits for Avernum. In Avernum just about everybody can some learn magic with ease and there are no spell fumbles in the games.


I can check later if I can find my notes.


I agree with Vydaera's list though. Here's a short list of features to be considered:


1. Campaign time

Consider that as the time goes onward, more and more humans are born in Avernum and have lived there for their entirely lives


Avernum 1

- All races are in war with each other in Avernum.


Avernum 2

- Some Nephilim and Slitherikai have allied with Humans allowing mixed race parties

- Vahnatai reveal themselves, not very suitable for PCs though due to their demeanor at this time


Avernum 3

- Outside world possible to be explored by Avernites


I haven't played Avernum 4-6 :( though I read their backstories, I have no specific insight on those


2. Race


- No special features

- Originating from the surface: skin increasingly pale with the amount of time spent in Avernum



- Nimble and fast, good with bows

- Originating from the surface



- Sub-race of Nephilim

- Stronger than Nephilim but infertile



- Big and strong

- Their physique allows them to wield large weapons with ease

- Fire-resistant

- Indigenous to the caves



- Smart, able to craft magical crystals and extremely sharp weapons

- Attuned to living deep underground

- (Not very suitable for PC races due to being ancient and alien)


Some monster races of Avernum:



- Small, weak, stupid, typically hostile


Intelligent spiders

- Friendly ones: Silly, simple, quirky, typically no magical powers

- Aranea: Evil, magic-wielding



- Like insane fey-folk with razor-sharp talons


Ogres and giants

- Big, strong and usually stupid

- (But I can't remember, are there giant mages?)


3. Culture/Origin for humans


Surface dweller

- You were a human who was, rightly or wrongly, exiled to Avernum

  - Possibly longing back to surface

- Need background options on what they were doing before and why they were banished



- Possibly naturally attuned to living in caves

- Who were your parents? Were they exiled to Avernum? (do you know) Why?


4. Class


I'm unfamiliar with Pathfinder's class system. I've only dabbled with DnD 5th Ed. Of DnD5 classes, I would omit Monk because in my opinion unarmed combat does not fit the setting of Avernum.

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I accidentally posted before I was done. A bunch of additional things of note:


4. Class


In addition to Monk, I would also omit Druid because they don't fit Avernum setting.

Warlocks could have as their patron fiends (demons) or perhaps even powerful Vahnatai elders or dragons.

Sorcerer does not totally fit Avernum setting, but since there's a talent for Natural Mage, they are not entirely implausible, at least for a few levels.


5. Equipment

Vydaera's notes are great. Typically, the Avernum-made equipment is makeshift, made from poor materials. Metal is rare and steel is even more rare, so thus is heavy armor and good quality weapons. Cavewood is not particularly suitable for bows, so they are generally of low quality. Surface-made equipment is generally of better quality and highly sought after.


6. Languages

- "Humanese", the language of the people from the Empire (surface world)

- Slitherikai likely have their own language

- So do Vahnatai

- Aranea have their own written language


7. Magic and Spells


- Low-level spells (maybe 0-3 or 0-4) are pretty common. Even they are treasured and sold by only few libraries.

- Mid-level spells (~4-7 or so) are likewise highly valued. They are only available at Tower of Magi or in guarded individual libraries.

- High-level spells (8-9) are extremely valuable and guarded. They can only be researched by powerful and knowledgeable individuals or possibly be taught by them (Erika, some Vahnatai; example of a special individual would be the one in Kyass' town)


Certain spells are guarded vehemently because of their special power. These include at least the power to:

  • Create or dispel magical barriers
  • Bound crystal souls (initially only Vahnatai know about this)
  • Move mountains/large land masses (potentially dangerous in a cavern system like Avernum)
  • Resurrection of the dead


Also, take a look at the spell list of Avernum (both the new and the old version) and why not Exile as well. See if there are any spells not covered by Pathfinder's magic system and create the bunch.


Note that Erika and pals are said to have created the glowing magic mushrooms in the ceiling, so there exists magic to create/evolve/manipulate fungi. Therefore, the magic of Avernum potentially has the power to alter many properties of living creatures. This allows for potential story hooks involving genius alchemists creating revolutionary (or potentially catastrophic) new substances or creatures.

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Hi folks. I made an account just to post on this thread, because I've been toying for several years with the idea of making custom rules to play Pathfinder in the Avernum setting. (I've played and loved Spiderweb games since I got the original, shareware version of Exile: Escape from the Pit on a disc in the MacCube shareware collection in 1996-ish.) My ideas never really got anywhere, though, so I don't have anything concrete to share, just some brainstorming.


So, idea: In order to help reflect point #7 by @Twistor , make metamagic versions of lower-level spells learnable/available as rare, hidden treasures, without spending feats on them. Possibly also do this with higher level spells. This could give the sense that, like in Avernum, the greatest mastery of any individual spell, from the lowly Fire Bolt to the most powerful Divine Host, is a learnable secret, guarded jealously by those who know it.

Re: #4. Classes. Monks are rare, but not absent, in the Avernum world. See, for example, the Monastery of Madness, a dungeon in Exile/Avernum 3 inspired by cheesy kung fu films and populated with terrifyingly powerful unarmed and unarmored enemies. Classes in general ought to be much more flexible and easily blended in the world of Avernum than they are in Pathfinder or D&D, but in general at least the Base Classes all seem pretty on-theme and would fit well into the world of Avernum, with the one exception being shapeshifting Druids. I can't recall any shapeshifting magic being used in the world of Avernum.

The Anama would be interesting, as they would shun any and all Arcane magic, but wholly embrace Divine magic. I would probably give them a background Trait of some kind, but they would mostly just be a roleplaying thing; being Anama shouldn't gain you any significant benefit over someone who isn't, save that the order might allow a powerful member to learn some high-level spells in their vaults.

I hope this isn't too much of a necro & others are still thinking about this :) Good luck, @Malkavianmadman!

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