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What did my "thought crystal" do? (massive endgame spoilers)

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Well, I finally finished the game to the final fight (haven't waited around for the Tower of Magi "fun event" yet; I just mean the Rentar Irhno fight). I brought with me two special items which I had twigged as important to that fight: Erika's amulet and a "thought crystal" which was prepared for me apparently at the cost of the lives of most of the people in the Bunker, though they never explain exactly how or why. RIP. :( Erika's amulet activated to quite obvious and devastating effect. Also RIP. But I can't figure out what this thought crystal did, if anything.

 

I picked the thought crystal up rather late; I was part of the way through Footracer Province before I did, and now I wonder if it was supposed to do something earlier in the game than the final fight and I missed it because of my tardiness, or whether I just wasn't paying close enough attention and I missed how it helped me out. It just feels kinda crappy that I got a bunch of people killed for this thing and  I don't even know if it worked.

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The thought crystal makes it easier to deal with the 4 Crystal Souls under the Keep of Tinraya.

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Which, IMHO, is not worth getting the poor Bunker guys hurt over at all. The fight that the thought crystal simplifies is nothing special, and you can largely avoid it anyway by running away.

 

I'd say that the Wyrmslayer, which you'll get if you think that the dragons are responsible for the plagues, is the overall most useful Bunker item, even though you have to pick one of the "wrong" options to get it.

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IIRC Avernum 4? One of the later Avernums. Retcons it that everybody in the Bunker is ultimately okay.

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When I fought the 4 Crystal Souls, I had a telepathic conversation with one of them and it told me it was having second thoughts and that I should run away. So I did that. Is that what the thought crystal does? Lets you communicate with them?

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I was wondering what happened if you DIDN'T have the thought crystal. I was disappointed that you didn't get to fight the crystal souls that were supposed to be there. Toast, I had the crystal and Rentar-Ihrno simply teleports them away after they fall asleep (that's apparently what it does, it makes them go dormant). You don't get to fight them if you have it, I guess. I THINK I recall in Avernum 3 that if you don't have it you fight them and Rentar-Ihrno teleports the remainder away after you kill one of them, but I could be making that up, or it could have happened in Exile 3?

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Welp, I guess I absolutely did pick the crystal up too late and got all the Bunker residents killed for nothing. I'm a monster! :D

 

Yeah what happens is the crystal souls go nuts on you, summoning an insane amount of tough critters and blasting you with magic, and you get all geared up for an Epic Battle, and then one of the souls in the crystal telepathically says "yeah I dunno, I was thinking about it, and... maybe we SHOULDN'T follow this deranged vengeance plan and kill all the humans??" and you're like "so maybe stop trying to kill me right now, then?" and the soul is like "eh I mean I'm on board but I dunno about my buds here, you should prolly just skip town, it's not like we can follow you or anything lol." And then you just... leave the room and there's no epic battle at all and it feels weird.

 

Or, I suppose in some other playthrough that isn't mine, you stay and murder all the crystal souls and live with the knowledge that you have destroyed the holiest of all Vanahtai figures and basically torpedoed their opinion of you even further?? IDK man! The adventuring life is filled with tough choices!

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To be honest, I found the whole endgame somewhat anticlimactic - the enemies (including the crystal souls) are pretty weak at that point since you're high level, there are no large set piece battles like the Ornotha Ziggurat and you don't even get to fight the final boss directly - just push a few buttons and the game ends. I suppose it makes sense in the context of the story - Avernum 4 is where you get to finally deal with the Vahnatai threat, but it still feels disappointing. I preferred the endings of Avernum 1 and 2 where you have a clear antagonist and you actually get to fight and defeat them directly.

 

Also, do you guys think Jeff intentionally made bosses in Avernum 3 easier after possible complaints about Avernum 2 bosses (with their whole increasing damage over time mechanic)?

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I think it's probably hard to balance endgame content bearing in mind that not everyone is a completionist. Probably most of the people who go post on a game's official forum are going to be the people who care about finding every secret, optimizing everything, etc., but not everyone is like that and I think it's quite possible to blast through this game on the required path and finish it with a much lower level and less sweet lootz than you or I had at that point. There are whole swathes of continent that I explored just because it was there and I wanted to, the game's main plot never sent me there. So a final battle that kicks the ass of someone whose party is level 33 and decked out in every piece of magical swag is going to be very uncool for the Required Path Only crowd. I imagine it's a hard design problem in an open world game.

 

And in a certain way, I respect the artistic choice to take most of the power out of the player's hands in the final battle. It's both utterly consistent with Erika's character for her to butt in the way she did, and rather poetic that her monomaniacal and destructive quest for vengeance ends only when it clashes with someone else's. It also makes some sense that an incomprehensibly powerful and alien foe like Rentar-Irhno could only be defeated by turning her own destructive creation against her.

 

But that said, yeah... I did find the endgame very anticlimactic in terms of how it challenged my skill as a player. I steamrolled everything past the Golem Factory. The Alien Beasts were about as threatening as mosquitoes, and finding Demonslayer right before you end the game by pressing a button is some next-level trolling by Jeff. So yeah, chef's kiss for artistry and sad trombone for challenge. But I guess next time I play, I'll know when I should turn the difficulty up to the next level. (And when to pick up the dang thought crystal...)

 

Actually, this makes me wonder... what happens if you don't accept Erika's amulet? Does she still crash the party at the end?

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Posted (edited)

I also couldn't help feeling rather disappointed by the final "fight". It is understandable if you can't actually beat the bad guy(s) for story purposes, but the final battle of any game should still be interesting and climactic. Here, you can just use Adrenaline Rush, Blink next to the control panel, and trigger the ending by pressing the buttons, all within a single turn.

 

Furthermore, it makes Erika's heroic entrance, battle against Rentar-Ihrno, and eventual demise appear unintentionally hilarious, when all of that somehow happens in the blink of an eye (no pun intended).

Edited by Sade

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Well, you could "kill" Rentar-Ihrno by bringing her health down to 1, knowing that if she wasn't invincible that she would be dead. That's what I did. She doesn't even have more health than Sulfras (who I actually did kill). After that I pressed the buttons and won. And Erika's "epic" fight wouldn't be epic either way, because all I saw her do was summon garbage and cast weak spells like icy rain. Rentar-Ihrno did that most of her turns, too. That's not epic, that's boring. 

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Toast, I've been wondering the same thing.  I also wonder if Erika always appears during this battle (if you take her amulet).  I swear I don't remember her showing up in my first playthrough.  I just finished the second playthrough, and sure enough here she came. . . I was kind of sad when she got fried by the sun.  And, btw, who is the mage with Prazac who rescues you from the final explosion? 

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What are y'all talking about saying the people in the bunker in New Cotra being killed?  I never went back there after I got the secret weapon. . . and I had no idea what the secret weapon was.  I just used it when the dialogue prompted me.

 

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