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Thaluikhain

E3: Dealing with evidence

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So, E3 is about monster plagues, and when you defeat a plague you can find something there pointing to one of 3 suspects/factions behind them.  And you can go get a relevant magic thingy made if you guess correctly which of them it is.

 

My question is, if you didn't already know, how obvious would it be which of the 3 was behind it all?  All 3 have the motive and presumably the means to create monster plagues.

 

I guess you could say that crystal magic was used in both the golems and trog/giant one, whereas the rune and the scales were just left behind for the slimes and the roaches (and there is a wave blade in the Filth Factory).  But it still seems very vague to me.

 

(Also, can you go to the bunker and give an answer you've not found evidence for?)

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Hello Thaluikhain,

 

Yes, you can ask the Bunker to make a weapon against a group you've not found evidence for in Exile 3. This is something that was changed in the Avernum remakes, I suspect because the engine moved from one based on typing in responses to one that used pre-programmed dialogue options. In the Exile engine, you can guess!

 

When I played the game for the first time, I didn't know who was causing the plagues. I didn't really base my suspicions on the big pieces of evidence (at least until the clincher near the end of the game), but rather on some smaller indications:

 

Spoiler

I suspect this might all just be coincidental, but there are little pointers to the vahnatai in every one of the monster plagues.

 

The golem, giant and troglodyte plagues all involved impressive crystal magic, which might have been created by them (as stated in-game).

You mentioned the Wave Blade in the Filth Factory. There's also writing in a language that the party is unable to read at first, but then shifts and adjusts itself so that it can be understood. This is exactly how the Exile 2 party reads the vahnatai language after they've performed the Ritual of Welcoming.

As for the Slime Plague, there's a Vahnatai Cloak in the lower level of Agate Tower. This is a small thing, but it's hard to explain how it could have gotten there without the vahnatai themselves being on the surface. No Exiles set foot on that portion of the surface until your party arrived, and no-one from the Empire went the other way. It also seems unlikely that a simple cloak would have been taken as spoils from the Empire war and then made its way all the way to a remote corner of a remote, mostly wild province. It was this Cloak, of all things, that made me suspect the vahnatai, right up until finding the creature creating the golems. (It's also still there even in the new Avenum 3, which makes me happy!)

 

 

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Hmmm, true, not really familiar with E2, and didn't think much of the cloak, though I vaguely remember it.  But if they kept it for A3, I guess it's a clue.  I thought it was just random loot, like the magic waveblade in Hawke's Manse which, AFAIK, has no explanation for being there.

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Posted (edited)

It's entirely possible that the Cloak, and the other items, were randomly placed, even if they've carried over into the remakes! I like to think of it a subtle clue, but it could be either way.

Not all vahnatai items can be easily explained that way, as you say with the Alien Blade in the Manse. There are a few items around on the surface, and some of them could have come from other sources – such as the vahnatai crypt in northern Valorim. This also reminded me of the second, secret Alien Blade stuck in the quickfire machinery in Dellskeep in Footracer Province. Now that I think about it, that Blade isn't very well known about at all. How did it get there? :)

Edited by Ess-Eschas
Adding some emphasis

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Erika got her revenge in the first two games against her major enemies with Hawthorne and Garzhad. The Dragons seem to be waiting for their time since they have longer lifespans. Of course both are good at misdirection and wouldn't admit to anything before their plans were complete.

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Athron is perhaps the least likely character in any Spiderweb game to ever leave her lair in order to launch an offensive against anybody.  And it's hard to imagine Khoth caring enough to bother.  Sulfras, maybe -- but such a time-consuming and indirect approach as to develop a race of magically enhanced roaches that spread disease?  Not her.

 

Erika -- I mean, it simply doesn't fit her motivation.  Unlike the Dragons, she felt personally wronged, by specific people, rather than by humanity as a whole.  Her revenge in the previous games was specifically targeted and, as Randomizer notes, successful.  She didn't try to revoke her many crucial gifts from the Exiles when she left the Tower; why would she want to make the surface uninhabitable for them?

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I agree that neither the Dragons nor Erika come across as all that likely to be the driving force behind the plagues. As you say, Erika has no desire to attack the surface en masse, and the plagues just don't seem to be in the Dragons' style. I can't imagine Sulfras attacking the Empire from the shadows like that – it's not exactly what happened at his lair in Exile II.

 

However, I do think you do the Dragons a disservice, Slarty, and especially Khoth. I think it very likely that the Dragons would enact some kind of revenge against the Empire. It wouldn't take this form, but I think it would happen. And Khoth would be very much a part of it. After all, he was captured by the Empire in Exile II, and I imagine they didn't leave his impressive library in tact. Do you remember how cross he got in Exile I with the theft of one scroll? How about hundreds? I suspect that Khoth's pride was also quite substantially wounded in the process, too.

 

As for Athron, she's busy with her brood. But the other Dragons seem to think she'll come around when her children become independent.

 

The Dragons have some interesting things to say on this. Here are some words from Athron:

 

"My siblings, Khoth and Sulfras, wish to do battle. The Empire captured them both and used them against Avernum. They will not admit this to you, but it drives them to get revenge. I do not believe their revenge has begun yet, but it will bring doom upon us for sure. [Khoth] is the most learned of our kind, but the Empire humans forced him to aid them in the war with your people. The hatred that came from that overpowers his mind."

 

Sulfras says much the same:

 

"Khoth's wisdom is infinite, and his hatred of the humans is almost as great as mine."

 

In fact, Khoth even hints at a possible plan of action:

 

"Well, if we were going to strike out at the Empire, we would do more than this. Our blow would be much more decisive, and aimed at the highest levels."

 

Here's a rogue thought. Perhaps one original plan for Avernum 5 involved not just the assassination of the Empress, but also more widespread political destruction caused by the Dragons? I've always thought it a bit of a shame that we never saw the revenge the Dragons were planning.

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3 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

I think it very likely that the Dragons would enact some kind of revenge against the Empire. It wouldn't take this form, but I think it would happen.

No, I agree with this -- I was talking specifically about this form.  What I can't imagine Khoth caring enough about is making the surface uninhabitable for the numerous citizens of the Empire who had no part in doing him harm.  Khoth is indifferent, not malevolent, towards those he has no dealings with.

 

Keep in mind that Khoth is the one Dragon who DID make a canonical appearance post-E3: in the Za-Khazi Run.  It's been a long long time, but I don't remember him being preoccupied with vengeance there, was he?

 

As for Athron, though, Sulfras may want her to "come around" but she was just as reclusive in E1, when she had no clutch, so I'm not convinced.

 

4 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

Here's a rogue thought. Perhaps one original plan for Avernum 5 involved not just the assassination of the Empress, but also more widespread political destruction caused by the Dragons? I've always thought it a bit of a shame that we never saw the revenge the Dragons were planning.

That would have been interesting.  Certainly a departure from the sorts of plots Jeff was writing at the time... it could have worked, though; it's not hard to see how attacks by dragons could be exploited for political gain by hardliners like the Darkside Loyalists.

 

It might have been hard to reconcile with the role Jeff gave Melanchion, though.

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18 hours ago, TGITG16 said:

No, I agree with this -- I was talking specifically about this form.

 

Ah, fair enough! I was being a little too hasty in interpreting what you said here. Thinking about it, I think it might be possible to make an analogy between Erika and Khoth, at least in terms of how they might approach revenge against the Empire. Like Erika, Khoth seems to want to attack only very specific targets – presumably powerful people who were directly involved in his capture.

 

Khoth's behaviour in the Za-Khazi Run always struck me as slightly odd. I'm not sure if it's just me, but he seems to be a little different there compared to his other appearances. I'm not sure I can put my finger on exactly why, though. Perhaps it's his sudden reclusiveness and the huge amount of protection that he's built around his (very isolated) lair, something that only really Athron has ever done before. It's a huge escalation from the couple of golems that defend his lair in Exile I, or the lack of any protection at all in Exile III. He also seems to be far more mercenary than he's ever been before, but that not's entirely out of character.

 

In any case, even here Khoth expresses a desire for vengeance against the Empire, although somewhat dulled compared to Exile III:

 

"[The Empire] drove dragons from the surface! They stole from us and harassed us and even enslaved me for a time. Me! I will never pass up on a chance to harm the Empire. Never."

 

18 hours ago, TGITG16 said:

That would have been interesting.  Certainly a departure from the sorts of plots Jeff was writing at the time... it could have worked, though; it's not hard to see how attacks by dragons could be exploited for political gain by hardliners like the Darkside Loyalists.

 

It might have been hard to reconcile with the role Jeff gave Melanchion, though.

 

It would have been nice if Jeff had gone down this route, since I feel it's a bit of a shame that the three Dragons essentially disappear from the narrative. I think you could probably wangle Melanchion into the plot too, at least at the level of Avernum 5. Consider this:

 

The story of Avernum 5 plays out much as it does in the version we know, but with more serious destruction of the Empire's political systems. However, when meeting the Darkside Loyalists, you discover that they are actively being aided by a powerful creature, one the party has already met: Melanchion. The other dragons are too careful for there to be any hint of their involvement, but Melanchion is young and headstrong, and actively going against the advice of his mother. He has been brought up in an environment where he was constantly taught to hate the Empire, so I don't think it would be overly surprising if he went out on his own and tried to hurt the Empire by aiding the Loyalists directly. The final fight of the game, assuming you don't join the Loyalists, would not be against Dorikas, but instead against Melanchion himself. The party then discovers the orb which Athron uses to communicate with her son, and Athron learns of her son's death. She is furious, and vows revenge. At the same time, the party learns that Sulfras and Khoth have been behind the attacks on the surface, which presumably stop while the dragons regroup. The ending is somewhat dour.

 

Cue Avernum 6, where the Empire (and perhaps Avernum simultaneously) are being attacked, this time openly, by all three Dragons.

 

It's a bit of a hack, granted, but I think it would work. Of course, you do lose the nice imperial Melanchion of Avernum 6. I always thought that was a good touch.

 

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Yeah.  I mean the depiction of all the dragons has always been a little inconsistent, displaying very different levels of subtlety in different games.  Khoth being a knowledge mercenary is right in line with what we saw of him in the first game, anyway.

 

Actually, now that you bring up that Khoth-Erika alignment, she sort of seems to have a piece of all the dragons in her.  The strength and pride of Sulfras, the sagacity and precision of Khoth, the reclusive misanthropy of Athron, and even, for a time, the benevolence of Motrax.  Okay, okay, not Pyrog so much -- or maybe Pyrog represents the curse Garzahd laid on her.  I'm amused at this idea.

 

(This, of course, contrasts with Rentar-Ihrno, who has a piece of all the plagues in her.  The patience of the slimes, the indirectness of the roaches, the might of the Giants, the principles of the Troglos, the cold inhumanity of the Golems, and the, ah, warped nature of the Alien Beasts.)

 

--

 

Your plot is very interesting but I don't understand why the Dragons would want to aid the Darkside Loyalists -- even if they want to cause chaos, surely they would use some other mechanism than to support the group most virulently in favor of the extermination of non-humans; the group most opposed to Avernum (which the Dragons ultimately found much less annoying than the Empire); and certainly the group most likely to slay Athron's clutch, grown or not.

 

1 hour ago, Ess-Eschas said:

The party then discovers the orb which Athron uses to communicate with her son, and Athron learns of her son's death. She is furious, and vows revenge.

This admittedly has a nice symmetry with the discovery of that orb used to communicate with Garzahd in X1.

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On 7/22/2018 at 1:16 AM, TGITG16 said:

Actually, now that you bring up that Khoth-Erika alignment, she sort of seems to have a piece of all the dragons in her.

 

Hmm, I rather like that idea. It seems fitting, too, since Erika seems to be the only human who merits a sort of respect from most of the dragons. I’d argue that Erika merely gets her strength from Sulfras, but that her pride and confidence comes more from Pyrog. After all, unfortunately, it was ultimately pride that caused the demise of both of them. Pyrog’s pride didn’t allow him to acknowledge that adventurers might be able to slay him. Erika’s pride, meanwhile, didn’t allow her to acknowledge that Rentar-Ihrno might be able to defeat her through underhanded tactics. So the pride is still linked to the curse! I would also say that Pyrog is nothing if not confident, something the other dragons tend to attack him for later on. Erika is much the same.

 

You know, I think Pyrog tends to get a bit a bad rep. After all, besides attacking adventurers, aren’t his methods and ultimate goal not entirely dissimilar to Melanchion’s?

 

That’s a nice little comparison with Rentar, too. Thinking of her as an artist, it stands to reason that she might unconsciously create art that develops from her own character traits and personality.

 

On 7/22/2018 at 1:16 AM, TGITG16 said:

Your plot is very interesting but I don't understand why the Dragons would want to aid the Darkside Loyalists -- even if they want to cause chaos, surely they would use some other mechanism than to support the group most virulently in favor of the extermination of non-humans; the group most opposed to Avernum (which the Dragons ultimately found much less annoying than the Empire); and certainly the group most likely to slay Athron's clutch, grown or not.

 

Oops. That's embarrassing! It's been a little while since I've played the second trilogy, so I'd forgotten how vehemently opposed to non-humans the Loyalists are. As a fiction-writer, I'm not sure I want to let that stand, so I'll adjust the plot slightly as a matter of principle:

 

Take everything as before, but this time have Sulfras and Khoth kill the Empress and destroy the higher levels of power in the Empire – and then do nothing more. Their vengeance is sated. The Darkside Loyalists take advantage of the confusion and suddenly grow in strength, manipulating events so that one of their number can be crowned as the new Emperor. Unfortunately, they are not entirely successful, and in the political chaos Dorikas flees to Avernum. The Avernum 5 party is sent after them, and the game happens. As before, Melanchion aids the exiled Loyalists, and is the final boss of the loyal plotline. He is killed at the end, enraging Athron. However, the reasoning is different.

 

Melanchion aids the Loyalists because he believes he will be harming the Empire. He has grown up with dragons who strongly to wish to harm it, and he feels that dealing the Empire his own blow will earn him some respect from the other dragons, along with showing his mother that he is independent and capable. The Loyalists are fully aware of this desire, and paint a rosy picture of themselves to him. They make no mention of their distrust of non-humans, and put aside that distrust temporarily due to the dire circumstances in which they find themselves. In essence, the Loyalists manipulate Melanchion into helping them. This might seem naïve on Melanchion's part, but he's very, very young in Avernum 5. I think it entirely plausible that he would not yet be wise enough to figure out that the Loyalists were playing him.

 

This motivation of the Loyalists has a nice touch, too, in that Melanchion could also die in the traitor plotline, too. If the party defects, and the Loyalists attack the Empure forces, they could arrange it so that Melanchion is killed in the assault. That kills two birds with one stone: they get the end-goal they want, and the dangerous loose-end of a dragon is also dealt with, one they inherently despise working with. Either way, Athron is infuriated, and becomes the antagonist of Avernum 6.

 

On 7/22/2018 at 1:16 AM, TGITG16 said:

This admittedly has a nice symmetry with the discovery of that orb used to communicate with Garzahd in X1.

 

:)

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2 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

I’d argue that Erika merely gets her strength from Sulfras, but that her pride and confidence comes more from Pyrog... Erika’s pride, meanwhile, didn’t allow her to acknowledge that Rentar-Ihrno might be able to defeat her through underhanded tactics. So the pride is still linked to the curse!... You know, I think Pyrog tends to get a bit a bad rep. After all, besides attacking adventurers, aren’t his methods and ultimate goal not entirely dissimilar to Melanchion’s?

 

Pyrog is described, I think by multiple other people/dragons, as "cruel".  Killing adventurers is forgivable; even Motrax does that when they are rude.  Pyrog, however, enslaves the giants.  He's actively sadistic.  I forget who it is that says "No one will miss him" (and Aran's site is down, so I don't have my dumps handy) but I want to say it was one of the Vahnatai in X2.  Pyrog is the one Dragon whose gender and pronoun inconsistency (a trait that affects all but Motrax) includes "it", used in the way one might when talking about a monster who doesn't talk or have a personality to begin with.  Sulfras's pride OTOH is actively discussed, particularly in X2 when she is enslaved by the Empire.

 

As far as Erika's pride, though, I really think it's an aspect of her personality and not a flaw that causes her death.  It makes her hard to collaborate with and drives her to far side of Exile, but it doesn't drive her to do stupid things.  (And as far as that exile goes, it's worth keeping in mind that of the six wizards whose names come up most (besides Erika) from the early days through X1, it was the three well-adjusted ones -- Aimee, Patrick, and Rone -- who also left the Tower.  The ones who stayed?  Linda (nuts), Solberg (nuts), and X (possibly not nuts but definitely not easy to work with).

 

Regardless, I don't think she underestimated Rentar-Ihrno.  If she was confident in her combat ability, well, the narrative of the fight backs her up; and if anything, Erika was one of the few characters who was truly worried about Rentar-Ihrno during X2.  Her death doesn't feel like a character-flaw death out of Greek tragedy; it feels a lot more like a sacrifice, whether or not it was one she anticipated or made willingly.  No, it wasn't pride that led her to show up there, but a desire to preserve, for the lesser masses she was so unfond of, the one thing that she herself could never have.

 

That is I think as close as you can get to the exact opposite of Pyrog enslaving said lesser creatures.

 

2 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

Take everything as before, but this time have Sulfras and Khoth kill the Empress and destroy the higher levels of power in the Empire – and then do nothing more. Their vengeance is sated. The Darkside Loyalists take advantage of the confusion...

 

Either way, Athron is infuriated, and becomes the antagonist of Avernum 6.

Hmm.  I like this better -- and Athron would, without a doubt, make by far the most interesting antagonist of the series.  I still have one big plot hang-up: why would Sulfras and Khoth kill the Empress, specifically?  By all indications, she is the least set on murdering non-humans (or anybody, really) of probably any Empire ruler in memory.  But maybe they attack the army, specifically; that strengthens the appeal of the Darkside Loyalist campaign to Make the Empire Great Again, and they in turn assassinate Prazac.  (Edit: this also gives us a very nice echo of what happened between X1 and X2, but this time it's between A4 and A5.)

 

Also, I think in order to make Athron work as an antagonist against Exile, it needs to be Exile's fault that Melanchion dies.  And I can think of one way for that to work with A5: Gladwell.

 

Also, while we're making things better, Starrus needs to never have existed.  I think there's a fitting and actually somewhat plausible replacement at hand, though -- who fits with the same narrative about the Council wanting someone they can push around, but who might actually demonstrate some personality and some ideas of his own.  I'm talking, of course, about somebody who knows just about every Avernite.  Tor Gunston for King of Avernum!

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On 7/24/2018 at 12:57 AM, TGITG16 said:

Pyrog is described, I think by multiple other people/dragons, as "cruel". He's actively sadistic.

 

I mentioned my doubts about Pyrog because it’s something that was on my mind when playing through the new Avernum 1. I agree with you in that I think the party is supposed to think of him as a cruel monster. After all, as you pointed out, Jeff refers to Pyrog partially in the neuter in order to dehumanise (dedraconise?) him. I don’t think killing Pyrog is supposed to be a moral quandary, especially as it’s necessary to get the best ending. Still, I couldn’t help thinking about whether Pyrog was actually a monster.

 

Here are my thoughts. In X1, Motrax refers to him as ‘cruel’. Athron sings his praises in X1, but then oddly changes her mind and calls him cruel in X2. Those, I think, are the only actual references to cruelty. Otherwise, Pyrog is heralded as a strong dragon, but criticised as being foolish for dealing with lesser beings and/or being killed by them. If the idea of cruelty stemmed from Motrax, is it not possible that he was mistaken, or at the very least biased against how Pyrog dealt with other species? More on that in a moment.

 

The vahnatai do indeed say that ‘no-one will miss him’. This is said by Glantris-Bok on the quest to claim the Crystal Souls. It’s a vague statement, though, and all it really says is that Pyrog wasn’t much liked. That could be for any number of reasons, and doesn’t imply that he is cruel. Perhaps the vahnatai disliked him because he coveted their lands near his lair?

 

In the game itself, there are giants who work for Pyrog. The party can talk to these giants, and they come across as strong and confident. They show no signs of fear towards the dragon, nor any signs of mistreatment. The dragon provides them with ample living space, a huge larder chilled by the dragon’s magic, and even a little temple. Granted, it is possible to treat slaves well, but I’m not convinced these giants are slaves. To me, they come across as servants – giants who work for Pyrog because they respect his might, and have their living needs met in payment. In essence, they are like Melanchion’s Drayssa – but freer, perhaps, since there is no sign of mental control here. Here’s what Pyrog has to say about them:

 

“Strong. Worthy of respect. And useful as well.”

 

Those don’t sound like words said about slaves.

 

Otherwise, Pyrog takes offerings, presumably from the other giants living nearby. There’s no sign that these offerings are enforced, or that the dragon actively attacks those who don’t pay him. I interpret this as the giants in the area who live independently offering tribute out of respect for the dragon’s might. I expect Pyrog doesn't discourage them.

 

I don’t see any signs of cruelty, or sadism. So far as I can see, besides attacking trespassing adventurers, Pyrog is behaving just as Melanchion will a century later. Interestingly, although it has no bearing on this, their lairs are practically on top of one another. However, it’s entirely possible there’s something obvious that I’m forgetting, and that there's some cruelty that I've overlooked.

 

On 7/24/2018 at 12:57 AM, TGITG16 said:

As far as Erika's pride, though, I really think it's an aspect of her personality and not a flaw that causes her death.  It makes her hard to collaborate with and drives her to far side of Exile, but it doesn't drive her to do stupid things.

 

Briefly, since I’ve already been rambling a bit, I agree that Erika’s pride is a part of her personality, and that it almost never causes her to make mistakes. However, I do think the way the fight with Rentar ended was a mistake born of over-confidence. As for the fight itself, I agree that it was entered nobly and selflessly, and that Erika has every reason to be proud of her ability during it: Jeff makes it clear that she is somewhat stronger than Rentar.

 

However, the actual killing blow is one that should be easily preventable by someone of Erika’s power. She could plug up the shaft as it was forming with a Force Barrier. She could teleport out of the way. Hey, she could even set the ceiling on fire, and use the ash to prevent sunlight coming in from any possible hole. But she doesn’t anticipate that Rentar will use such tactics. Since she’s more than clever enough to think of such things, I feel that she doesn’t in this case because she is over-confident of her ability, and that that over-confidence is born of pride.

 

Of course, this is somewhat moot, as you say. Erika’s death, from a narrative perspective, is a sacrifice, something to give the adventurers time to save the day. Still, with the greatest respect for Erika, I can’t help but feel that her death came about because hubris caused her to make a mistake.

 

On 7/24/2018 at 12:57 AM, TGITG16 said:

Hmm.  I like this better -- and Athron would, without a doubt, make by far the most interesting antagonist of the series.  I still have one big plot hang-up: why would Sulfras and Khoth kill the Empress, specifically?

 

This was deliberate on my part. My reasoning is that a big part of these two dragons’ anger against the Empire is what happened to them during the Exile/Empire war. At this time, Prazac was the Empress, and therefore ultimately accountable for the actions of the Empire. Of course, it’s entirely likely that the war was driven by the commanders of the army and Garzahd himself, and that Prazac had little input on the war itself. She was probably grieving for her father for a while, in any case. Still, I’m not sure the dragons would grant Prazac this relief. She commanded the Empire when they were abused and, regardless of her actions since, I feel that they would think that she had not paid for that transgression.

 

However, your interpretation does allow for the plot of this new Avernum 5 to be closer to that of the older, and that’s no bad thing.

 

You make a good point about needing incentive for Athron to attack Exile, and adding Gladwell into the mix is a nice touch. After all, Melanchion is holding one of Athron’s new eggs, and Gladwell would almost certainly wish to claim it. No doubt he would be interested in a dead dragon as well. It seems only natural that he would appear on the scene of Melanchion’s death. Perhaps the party chooses to spare Melanchion after he agrees to flee, and then Gladwell teleports in and kills him anyway?

 

On 7/24/2018 at 12:57 AM, TGITG16 said:

Tor Gunston for King of Avernum!

 

This made me laugh when I first read it, but it’s actually a great idea! Tor is known personally to most of the powerful, older people in Exile, and will be known by reputation to the younger ones. He would make an excellent figurehead, and has enough gumption to make decisions himself. It also avoids that unusual addition of a previously unmentioned character: Starrus.

 

One problem is that he’s quite old by the time of Avernum 4, but that’s not the end of the world. He’s shown as still working, doing some quite complicated work at that, and I imagine he’d be more than capable of being king.

 

This could lead into something nice in the new Avernum 6. Say that Tor dies suddenly a short way into the game, a death resulting from stress and his old age. This leads to some political turmoil, since he has no heir, right in the middle of a war waged by a furious dragon. This is eventually solved as in one of the routes of the original game: Gladwell takes over. As probably about the worst person to lead the Exiles at this time, he launches counter-attacks against Athron, causing serious damage to the caves in the process. It also allows a final showdown of sorts between Gladwell and Athron, giving the player some choices about who ends up victorious. I vote Athron!

Edited by Ess-Eschas
Cleaning up the text slightly

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You make some fair points about Pyrog.  Perhaps we can agree that we don't actually have a lot of concrete information about him, so we're forced to extrapolate.

 

4 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

However, the actual killing blow is one that should be easily preventable by someone of Erika’s power. She could plug up the shaft as it was forming with a Force Barrier. She could teleport out of the way. Hey, she could even set the ceiling on fire, and use the ash to prevent sunlight coming in from any possible hole. But she doesn’t anticipate that Rentar will use such tactics. Since she’s more than clever enough to think of such things, I feel that she doesn’t in this case because she is over-confident of her ability, and that that over-confidence is born of pride.

 

I think there are some assumptions here. 


The reality is that Rentar's method was quite unorthodox.  I don't think most players saw it coming, and I'm not sure why Erika should have.  She'd spent the past FIFTY-SEVEN YEARS living so far underground that such a method would be impossible.

 

But let's look at how the game describes things:

 

160-072_exile3LP_259.jpg


"It happens far too quickly to react."

 

What you're asking is that Erika anticipate this possibility, and find a way to pre-emptively protect against it, while still retaining enough attention and magical power to best Rentar in their duel.  Setting the entire ceiling on fire?  Yeah, not gonna happen.  (Also, rock and dirt, not the easiest things to set to flames.)

 

Even reacting to Rentar flinging the bolt upwards, before it hits the ceiling, seems impossible to do in a way that matters.  Force barriers are not instantaneous, nor unlimited in range -- and given that the shaft of light is clearly magically guided, to target Erika so precisely, it might be able to circumvent one she sets right above her anyway.  As for teleporation, it's VERY limited in the First Trilogy, particularly in the earlier games, where blinking did not exist.  Instant teleportation, without portals or other preparation -- not a thing.

 

Rentar-Ihrno herself might not have been certain the method was going to work.  How sensitive was Erika's curse, how quickly would it act?  Hell, maybe part of the curse actually draws sunlight towards her.  That fits with the nature of the curse's effect (instant combustion), and after all the laying of wards, curses, and enchantments was one area in which Garzahd specialized, in-story, beyond other mages.  (see dialogue from Enla and in the Empire Archives, both in E2.)  This wasn't just a case of "let me cast ARUB and then forget about it."

 

The fact is that in X2, Erika was one of the few humans who expressed any real recognition of the extent of Rentar's power.  I don't think she marched in there assuming she would win, with her guard let down.  She knew there was real risk, if not in this form then in some other form.  Erika was a calculated risk-taker, not someone who always charges ahead.  And I think her calculation here was: this is dangerous, but this is also a time that it really matters.

 

She was willing to take the risk, for something that would benefit everyone but her.  That's not pride -- that's humility.

 

 

4 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

This was deliberate on my part. My reasoning is that a big part of these two dragons’ anger against the Empire is what happened to them during the Exile/Empire war. At this time, Prazac was the Empress, and therefore ultimately accountable for the actions of the Empire. Of course, it’s entirely likely that the war was driven by the commanders of the army and Garzahd himself, and that Prazac had little input on the war itself.

 

Not only is this entirely likely, it's explicitly stated.  Prazac was a small child at the time.  (A veritable poo-bomb.)  Even randos in Exile knew she had nothing to do with the war.  And keep in mind that Athron was a serial long-distance-scryer; Khoth, given his desires and location, surely had contact with Aimee; and it's a likely conclusion, from what they all say, that all three of them had occasional contact with Erika.  That's a serious cluster of sagacity right there.  I find it hard to believe that they wouldn't know Prazac was so removed from the war -- or, for that matter, that they wouldn't know she was less inclined to aggress against them.

 

 

This is a great discussion.

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21 hours ago, 20th-level shepherd said:

This is a great discussion.

 

I'm pleased that my not-particularly-helpful pool of trivia about Exile is going to some good use! :)

 

21 hours ago, 20th-level shepherd said:

She was willing to take the risk, for something that would benefit everyone but her.  That's not pride -- that's humility. 

 

I think I'm almost ready to concede to you on this one. You make some very good points and, honestly, I prefer your interpretation. I like Erika as a character, and if her death was the result of a calculated risk on her part, rather than an avoidable mistake, then I would be happy with that. There's something quite fitting about her death being an act of humility. It feels like great character progression, actually.

 

I particularly like your comment about Garzahd's knowledge of wards. Given his expertise in this area, it seems very likely that he would be able to place a curse on Erika in such a way that it could not be warded against. I think that makes narrative sense, too. If the curse could simply be defeated by applying appropriate wards, it would not nearly be as potent. Even if a strong ward was needed to beat the curse, it would still allow Erika to stand on the surface, even for a little while. That would be at least some comfort. From what Erika says about her curse, it seems clear that that is not the case. So, I think it reasonable that Erika can't ward herself against the effects of curse. No magic parasols here.

 

As for anticipating it, I buy your suggestion that she's been underground long enough not to anticipate such a move on Rentar's part. I'd also forgotten just how quickly the move happened. So that doesn't seem to be possible, either. Just as an aside, I believe it is possible to set rock and dirt on fire if you get its temperature high enough (and quickly enough in this case). That's what I'd envisioned there. Perhaps that could have worked, but only if Erika had anticipated Rentar's action.

 

So, what's my hangup? I'm still wondering about teleportation. You mentioned that instant teleportation without portals doesn't happen in Exile. I disagree. There are quite a few examples that I can think of. For instance, Aydin teleports himself and Josie out of the Empire Archives once you free them in X2. Garzahd's minions teleport out of his throne room when he is defeated. The Cult of the Sacred Item teleport out of Fort Emergence without a teleporter (even though they used one to get in). The party itself is teleported out of Rentar's fortress at the end of the game. And, while not really relevant to this particular case, the party can cast Word of Recall or use the Amulet of Rapid Returning to travel huge distances.

 

But the example I had in my head while thinking about this was something that Erika herself does. In fact, this is something she only does in Exile; it's written out by the time Avernum comes around. If you attack and defeat Erika in X2 – apparently I was uncharacteristically ruthless when playing through the game back then – then you're presented with the following text:

Erika decides she’s had enough, and disappears. As you start looking for her, her final trap activates itself. Flames roar through her chambers, reducing you to ash.

 

Now, there are several ways to interpret this, but I've always read it as saying that Erika teleports away. I suppose she could have cast something like Sanctuary on herself, but that seems self-defeating if she then fills the room with fire. If Erika can teleport away as a failsafe, why not do it when fighting Rentar? At least if she flees she can work on some sort of backup plan while seeing how the party deals with the situation. If nothing else, she can pass on the location of the vahnatai to Exile and the Empire, allowing others to continue the work.

What I have in mind here is something slightly different to what Erika does above: a failsafe device. To me, it seems like a natural reaction to being cursed with death when coming into contact with something. Even if there was very little chance that I would actually come across that dread something, I'd want to have at least some protection in place, just in case. For example, think of a magic orb that detects the closest source of sunlight. By 'closest', I mean in terms of something like the optical path length: a measure that takes into account both how far away the light is, and what material is in the way. When this value is low enough, the orb automatically teleports the user away. Detecting nearby materials isn't too much of a stretch – this is what spells like True Sight and Magic Map do. What is effectively a machine could react far faster than a human would – it would detect when the hole was getting close to the surface and teleport Erika away before it even broke through. My feelings were that not having such a failsafe on hand was foolish, the result of overconfidence. Erika would have had plenty of time to devise such a device. I'm sure she would have thought about it at length while in Exile and, even if she had not, she would have had days while the party travelled to and through Footracer to come up with something. Even if she hadn't thought of sunlight during the battle with Rentar, she might have done so beforehand – she knew the party was travelling close to the surface, after all.

However, even as I write this, I concede something I hadn't thought of initially. Teleportation magic can be prevented against. Going back to Aydin, he was prevented from teleporting out of the Empire Archives by a type of ward. Perhaps Rentar's Fortress is warded in this way. Maybe Erika did indeed try to teleport out, but was prevented from doing so. It's not infeasible. Rentar could then lower the ward when she teleports out at the end of the game, paving the way for the adventurers to escape too. Actually, that's nicely fitting now that I think about it. Rentar ends up inadvertently saving the aventurers by her own actions.

 

So, Erika could have been foolish in not having a teleportation failsafe in place, but there's no way to be sure. So why not just say that she did? There's no need to say that Erika died out of hubris. Okay, I've convinced myself of your argument even as I write. Huh. Hooray for Erika!

 

22 hours ago, 20th-level shepherd said:

Prazac was a small child at the time.

 

This, I'm not so sure about. So far as I'm aware, there are only two references to Prazac in X2. These are both statues, one in Harston and the other in Fort Dranlon, both inscribed with 'Empress Prazac - Long may she reign'. The one in Fort Dralon has some further description:

This is a statue of a young, smiling woman, looking almost touchingly innocent. Strange.

 

Now, this doesn't sound to me like the statue of a baby, or even of a child. By my reading, this would be someone at least in their late teens, and probably in their early twenties. I would argue that, if Prazac were a child, there wouldn't be any statues of her around at all. If you're trying to assert your dominance over the Exiles in Harston, proudly displaying images of your supreme commander as a small child doesn't seem like the best way to go about it.

 

Also, the time that passes between X2 and X3 is quite brief. It's either 4 or 5 years depending on what pieces of text you believe. When the party meets Prazac in Valorim, no mention is made of her age at all. If she looked young, I would expect the party to at least comment on it. If she had been a small child during X2, she would be at best a young teenager by X3. Wouldn't that be commented on? The fact that her age isn't mentioned makes me think that she's middle-aged here. This fits in with my reading that she's in her early twenties during the Empire war. If she was in her early twenties, then she would be more than capable of seeing what the Empire was doing and understanding the consequences.

 

If Prazac was an adult, then my feeling is that the Dragons would think her accountable. Even if she didn't push for the war, even if she had nothing to do with its details, or with the capture of the Dragons, by not acting against it, she was implicit in her support of it. Regardless of the strength of her commanders, and of Garzahd, she is the Empress. A word from her could have stopped the war, even if that word was a difficult one to get out. She could have stopped the war that abused the Dragons. But she didn't. I think the dragons would want to call her to account for that, even if they were aware that the war was not her idea.

 

I'm not even convinced that the Dragons would know much about Prazac's actions after the war. After they left for the surface, it seems to me that they broke off all ties with Exile. This includes Erika and Aimee. That leaves Athron as the only Dragon shown to have the skill to really effectively scry the Empire. But why would she? She has no interest in her siblings' war, or in the Empire itself for that matter. She's concentrating on her brood. I think it entirely reasonable that Sulfras and Khoth would not know that Prazac has a much kinder stance to non-humans. The two Dragons would need to do some scrying of the Empire to plan for their attack, but they're not going to be paying attention to the detail of Prazac's mentality while doing that – all they'd need to know would be where to best attack her and her main officials.

 

Just one final comment on Prazac's age. Something I really hope is deliberate on Jeff's part is this: Prazac's year of birth is given in X3. However, no other event in any of the games in given using that dating system – so it's not possible to determine how old she is. I hope that's some wry humour showing its face.

 

On 7/24/2018 at 12:57 AM, 20th-level shepherd said:

Aran's site is down, so I don't have my dumps handy

 

I was checking something, and actually came across these dumps by accident. It looks like they're back up!

 

http://stuff.ermarian.net/slartucker/dump/

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The X3 party is removed from Rentar's fortress at the end by Empire wizards based on the cut scenes in the later remakes.

 

Teleportation exists in the game separate from the portals, but most cases are limited distances. The longer the distances and the more people that need to be moved, then the more power is required and wizards needed.

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19 hours ago, Randomizer said:

The longer the distances and the more people that need to be moved, then the more power is required and wizards needed.

 

Yes, I do agree that teleportation gets more difficult with distance. If that wasn't the case, then the Exiles could simply have teleported out of Exile after being banished! However, I get the feeling that the distances have to be really quite large for them to become a problem – larger than most distances we see in the games.

In this case, I don't think distance is a limiting factor. Erika teleports herself all the way from her Tower to Rentar's Fortress without even working up a sweat. Thinking solely about the distance travelled, I don't see why she shouldn't be able to just teleport back. This also isn't the first time she's done something like this. In X1, she easily teleports from her Tower to the Teleportation Augmenter and back again, all while maintaining enough power to teleport the entire X1 party to the surface. As for the party, there is a cut scene in Exile III too. This shows the party being teleported out by only a single wizard, rather than a small group. Whilst I'm sure this wizard is powerful, it shows that one person could indeed have enough power to teleport out of Rentar's fortress if needed.

However, I think the greatest example of this for me is Word of Recall. A single party member can use this to teleport an entire party of six over any length of distance seen in the games – across the whole of Exile, across the entire length of Valorim, even from places where the Amulet of Rapid Returning fails. This is all without a portal. If distance is a limiting factor in teleportation, I think it has to be over a much larger range than the distance from Erika's Tower to Rentar's Fortress.

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On 7/26/2018 at 6:16 PM, Ess-Eschas said:

Just as an aside, I believe it is possible to set rock and dirt on fire if you get its temperature high enough (and quickly enough in this case). That's what I'd envisioned there. Perhaps that could have worked, but only if Erika had anticipated Rentar's action.

 

Or maybe not.  I don't think we can assume that natural elements can counteract a spell.

 

 

On 7/26/2018 at 6:16 PM, Ess-Eschas said:

So, what's my hangup? I'm still wondering about teleportation. You mentioned that instant teleportation without portals doesn't happen in Exile. I disagree. There are quite a few examples that I can think of. For instance, Aydin teleports himself and Josie out of the Empire Archives once you free them in X2. Garzahd's minions teleport out of his throne room when he is defeated. The Cult of the Sacred Item teleport out of Fort Emergence without a teleporter (even though they used one to get in). The party itself is teleported out of Rentar's fortress at the end of the game. And, while not really relevant to this particular case, the party can cast Word of Recall or use the Amulet of Rapid Returning to travel huge distances.

 

did not say that.  I said:

 

"Instant teleportation, without portals or other preparation"

 

1) Aydin and Josie were fairly paranoid and very competent, and could easily have made preparations for this sort of thing in advance.

 

2) Do Garzahd's minions actually "teleport out" or do they simply disappear?  Is there any evidence that they removed themselves, rather than being recalled by some other demonic power?

 

3) The Cult of the Sacred Item teleportation out of Fort Emergence -- that happens offscreen.  We have no idea what preparations were involved in it.  I don't think anything specifically calls it instantaneous, either.  For that matter, they could easily have been recalled by their original sender, just as Erika recalls the party at the end of X1.

 

4) Word of Recall and that amulet are both completely irrelevant, because neither can be used in combat.  There is nothing to suggest that either effect happens instantaneously, and in fact I think some of the games have descriptions of how it takes a little while and you feel queasy.

 

5) Erika (or any wizard) having a failsafe possibility in their lair is quite different from having one that can be used anywhere.  This is presumably part of the reason that paranoid wizards, of which Exile has no shortage, are so fond of building towers and then never leaving them.

 

Finally, note that even the blink spells of later games likely have a casting time associated with them -- whether incantations, mental invocations, or somatic components.  RPG combat is abstracted, and while to us the experience may be "press blink, pick target square, you move" that's obviously not the reality of it, because in reality everyone else doesn't stop moving while you take your action.  It presumably takes a round of combat to get even a blink spell off, and it is unclear, at best, if that much time elapses between Rentar shooting the bolt upwards, and the shaft of light striking Erika.

 

As far as creating "a magic orb that detects the closest source of sunlight" and keeping it with you at all times goes... yeesh.  I mean you're in the realm of things that, I guess, are theoretically possible, but... they're kind of out there.  There are no doubt lots of really obscure, unusual ways that Rentar (or whatever powerful mage) could attack Erika (or whoever), that could be prevented in very specific ways that are not useful for anything else.  I have a hard time calling it "pride" to not spend all your time focusing on those.  That sounds more like, in modern parlance, "letting the terrorists win."

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On 7/26/2018 at 6:16 PM, Ess-Eschas said:

This is a statue of a young, smiling woman, looking almost touchingly innocent. Strange.

 

Now, this doesn't sound to me like the statue of a baby, or even of a child. By my reading, this would be someone at least in their late teens, and probably in their early twenties. I would argue that, if Prazac were a child, there wouldn't be any statues of her around at all. If you're trying to assert your dominance over the Exiles in Harston, proudly displaying images of your supreme commander as a small child doesn't seem like the best way to go about it.

 

Yes, which is exactly why you would depict her as older than she actually is.  As that random book in X3 about Prazac demonstrates, the Empire is quite happy disseminating false but uplifting myths about their leaders.

 

On 7/26/2018 at 6:16 PM, Ess-Eschas said:

Also, the time that passes between X2 and X3 is quite brief. It's either 4 or 5 years depending on what pieces of text you believe. When the party meets Prazac in Valorim, no mention is made of her age at all. If she looked young, I would expect the party to at least comment on it. If she had been a small child during X2, she would be at best a young teenager by X3. Wouldn't that be commented on? The fact that her age isn't mentioned makes me think that she's middle-aged here. This fits in with my reading that she's in her early twenties during the Empire war. If she was in her early twenties, then she would be more than capable of seeing what the Empire was doing and understanding the consequences.

 

It's ten years, actually.  This is one of the parts of the Exile/Avernum timeline that is most clear, from compiling all available evidence.

 

https://encyclopedia.ermarian.net/wiki/Timeline_of_Ermarian#Interregnum

 

I suppose I'm exaggerating a bit with the small child poo-bomb bit.  But there are some obvious historical analogues here.  Tutankhamun became pharaoh around 10, and as one might expect, was heavily influenced by his advisors.  I always assumed the case with Prazac was somewhat similar.  Maybe she was 7 or 8 when Hawthorne was killed, which makes her 12 or 13 when the war began -- certainly young enough that it would not be hard to convince her to leave it in Garzahd's capable hands.  That puts her at 22 or 23 when the party meets her in X3.  And I doubt very much that she (or her advisors) were unaware of how problematic it is for an Empress to look young and naive, so I would assume that they take some care with her personal presentation, as it were, to make her not look so young that the Surface Explorers would go "who's this teenager?"

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Hmmm...one thing about Erika's motivations.  Ok, yeah, it seems that she went in for heroic reasons, and when you talk to her she says she opposes destroying the surface in revenge for what was done to her (but then she is under suspicion of monster plaguing, which is a good reason to say that.  Even if she is innocent).

 

However, IIRC, she only teleports in if you have her amulet, and you only get her amulet if you go talk to her, and you only do that if you've found her rune and gone around telling people that Erika's rune was in the slime pit.  And she was not happy with being framed.  She has a purely personal reason for getting involved.  Though, personally, I think she was going for a heroic intervention, but I could see an argument made that way.

 

In retrospect, framing Erika wasn't a bright move.  Not sure who would be better, though.  Stick a few demons in there and frame Linda?

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Actually, in the original version, Erika teleports in even you don't have her amulet!  I had forgotten this, but it's true.  The amulet is still useful, because she teleports in much sooner if you have it, saving you from having deal many annoying waves of Rentar's minions.

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4 hours ago, Thaluikhain said:

In retrospect, framing Erika wasn't a bright move.  Not sure who would be better, though.  Stick a few demons in there and frame Linda?

 

Also, heh, this is totally true.  Framing Linda would have been a great idea -- she couldn't be the mastermind, of course, but the conduit through which Grah-Hoth reaches out to claim the surface?  Disturbingly plausible.

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5 hours ago, Thaluikhain said:

Stick a few demons in there and frame Linda?

 

Hmm, I like this too! I'm finding it hard to come up with a decent motivation for her attacking the surface, but that didn't stop Rentar when framing the others! :)

 

On 7/28/2018 at 3:58 PM, 20th-level shepherd said:

did not say that.

 

Sorry about that! I am not always entirely clear in the thrust of my arguments, a bad habit I still fall into every now and again.

 

Before I say any more, Slarty, I want to make it clear that I’m agreeing with you here. I just want to clarify a few points.

 

The idea I was trying to put forward was that the sort of emergency teleportation I had in mind for Erika was not entirely uncommon in Exile. I tried to put forward some examples of this. I was focusing more on the ‘without portals’ side of things, mainly because I thought that the idea of ‘preparation’ was less of an issue. In coming up with some sort of emergency teleportation technique, I would (and did) argue that Erika has had plenty of time to prepare. She has been cursed for decades, and I feel that she would have put something in place during that time, just as a precaution. I would also argue that, if Aydin and Josie could make preparations to teleport back to their tower from a dangerous place, why might Erika not do the same?

 

In terms of Garzahd’s minions, yes, they do teleport out:

 

As his anguished dying scream echoes through the halls, you hear his few remaining servants teleporting away.

 

It’s vague, but I would interpret that as the minions actively choosing to teleport, rather than being dragged away by another power.

 

As for the Word of Recall sorts of teleportation, I was trying to use those more as an indication that teleportation over large distances can occur without using too much power. As you rightly point out, and as I tried unsuccessfully to imply, these exact spells cannot be used. The games state that Word of Recall is limited – not just in combat mode – but in town, because of the difficulty of controlling teleportation through twisty little passages. I hope it’s not unreasonable to use this spell as an indication of what a more powerful magic-user, and one who is more adept at controlling their magic, might in principle be able to do.

 

However, you make a very good point in the amount of time teleportation takes to take effect. This isn’t clear, but it’s quite reasonable to assume that it’s by no means instantaneous. That would be crucial for the sort of battle situation being considered. Since there’s doubt there, and there’s further doubt in my idea that Rentar might block any teleportation out of her fortress anyway, it’s hard to argue the Erika can escape simply through teleportation. And, if that’s the case, there’s no basis for ascribing reckless pride to Erika. You have your argument, I think!

 

On 7/28/2018 at 4:10 PM, 20th-level shepherd said:

It's ten years, actually.

 

This was a genuine mistake on my part. I simply misread the text when I was checking the passage of time. The four/five year window occurs between Exile II and the nation deciding to go to the surface. Presumably, this predates the discovery of Upper Exile, the building of its towns and the shuttling of people up to Fort Emergence. That would take many years. If anything, 10 years sounds like almost an underestimate.

 

With that part of my argument gone, I can’t really place any stock on the party’s experience of the Empress in Exile III. Enough time has passed that I feel she could be a wide range of ages in Exile II and not elicit comment for her age in the sequel.

 

I think that leaves the Empress’s age as a problem of interpretation. There just doesn’t seem to be enough evidence to come to a really valid conclusion, much as in my thoughts about Pyrog. The Empress might have been a young teenager, and you give a nice explanation of events given that. But I don’t think it disproves my thoughts about the Empress being a little older, either. If I was was being particularly adversarial, I could even come up with exactly the opposite argument: the Empress is actually already into middle-age by Exile II, and the statues deliberately make her look younger and more innocent than she really is. After all, a leader who is a young adult comes across as a better figurehead (and there are plenty of historical allegories for this type of artistic treatment). I could even argue that this older Empress deliberately shoves the responsibility of the war onto Garzahd – it keeps her hands seemingly free of the blood spilled in the war, and gives an easy scapegoat if (as it did) it happens to go wrong. Is this a stretch? Yes. But does it contradict the facts in the Exile trilogy? I’m not sure it does.

 

As it is, I’m not convinced it’s possible to give the Empress a definitive age. Perhaps the Dragons might assassinate her, or perhaps they wouldn’t. Either way, the plot of this new Avernum 5 would still be valid, just with some differences in detail!

 

4 hours ago, 20th-level shepherd said:

Actually, in the original version, Erika teleports in even you don't have her amulet!

 

This is going to sound like I'm being deliberately contrary, but I'm really not. Are you sure? I have a distinct recollection that she doesn't teleport in without the amulet, and I can't seem to find anything in the game's text that talks about Erika appearing in that situation. Annoyingly, though, the saved games I have for the end of that playthrough are lost, so I'd have to play through the entirety of Footracer again in order to find out for myself. That's not a quick test!

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59 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

The idea I was trying to put forward was that the sort of emergency teleportation I had in mind for Erika was not entirely uncommon in Exile. I tried to put forward some examples of this. I was focusing more on the ‘without portals’ side of things

Which is fine, but again, I said "without portals or other preparation."  It's a conjunction, "portals" and "other preparation" are both objects of the same preposition, so you can't split it apart and take just "without portals" :)  All your examples involved other preparation of some sort and you didn't say anything about that, so it seemed necessary to bring up.

 

1 hour ago, Ess-Eschas said:

I think that leaves the Empress’s age as a problem of interpretation. There just doesn’t seem to be enough evidence to come to a really valid conclusion

I am almost sure that Prazac was described as a "child" or at least "very young" at some point in X2.  I don't think this is some idea the community came up with and that just became conventional wisdom.

 

1 hour ago, Ess-Eschas said:

This is going to sound like I'm being deliberately contrary, but I'm really not. Are you sure?

In A3:RW she won't come without the amulet, and I believe in regular A3 the same thing is true.  I'm not sure about E3, but I have found enough references to it happening -- and no references to it not happening that predate the existence of A3 -- that it seems likely.  Not totally sure.

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22 hours ago, 20th-level shepherd said:

I am almost sure that Prazac was described as a "child" or at least "very young" at some point in X2.  I don't think this is some idea the community came up with and that just became conventional wisdom.

 

This does seem to be a fairly common idea, and it would stand to reason that it stemmed from content in the games themselves. However, much like with Pyrog's cruelty, I think it is possible that this might have become lore without any real basis. Essentially, the problem I have is that I can't find any reference whatsoever to any comments that say that Prazac is a child during Exile II. I don't remember any from when I've played through the games before, and checking the games and the text dumps doesn't reveal anything either. Of course, I may be missing something, and I wouldn't mind being proven wrong!

So far as I can see, the only references are the two statues in Exile II, which describe her as a 'young woman'. Now, I know we've discussed the accuracy of these statues before. However, for a bit of fun, I thought it would be interesting to see the types of people Jeff describes as young women in the games. There are actually quite a few in Exile II. One of them is Nance. One of them is Linda. Now, meaning no disrespect to Linda, she doesn't seem to be a teenager by the time of Exile I, let alone Exile II. Also, here's some text describing Julie the fletcher in Dharmon:

There is a surprisingly young woman sitting behind the counter - only in her late twenties.

Now, this is hardly proof that the statue – taken at face value – shows someone in their late twenties. But I think it casts some doubt on the idea that Prazac is a youngster.

If Prazac is a child during Exile II, I don't think I am convinced based solely on these two statues. I need more evidence from the games, and I can't come across any. If there is some text in the Exile series that describes Prazac as being a child, then show me! I'm happy to be proven wrong!

 

22 hours ago, 20th-level shepherd said:

In A3:RW she won't come without the amulet, and I believe in regular A3 the same thing is true.  I'm not sure about E3, but I have found enough references to it happening -- and no references to it not happening that predate the existence of A3 -- that it seems likely.  Not totally sure. 

 

If I have the time, I'll see if I can test this. Hopefully, zipping through Footracer again won't involve huge amounts of work, although dealing with Rentar probably will!

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13 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

However, much like with Pyrog's cruelty, I think it is possible that this might have become lore without any real basis.

Pyrog's cruelty isn't lore, it's just one aspect (that many people consider the most obvious one) of a character with very little description.  I mean the games actually do explicitly call him "cruel" on two occasions in two different games, which is a lot for a one-shot character.  (What might qualify as lore, if it were actually commonly repeated, was my idea that he had enslaved the giants.  "Cruel" is in the games.)

 

On Prazac, according to you, the only description of her age in any of the First Trilogy games in the statue in Fort Dranlon described as "a young, smiling woman, looking almost touchingly innocent".  I'm not convinced that's it (and if Aran's site ever comes back up I'll look), but even if it is, de-age her by six years (plus however many years the Empire's sculptors added to avoid making it look like they are ruled by a child) and that's her age when she ascended the throne.

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9 hours ago, 20th-level shepherd said:

On Prazac, according to you, the only description of her age in any of the First Trilogy games in the statue in Fort Dranlon described as "a young, smiling woman, looking almost touchingly innocent".  I'm not convinced that's it (and if Aran's site ever comes back up I'll look), but even if it is, de-age her by six years (plus however many years the Empire's sculptors added to avoid making it look like they are ruled by a child) and that's her age when she ascended the throne.

 

I still think it's problematic to try to get anything too concrete about of this one statement. Your idea that the sculptors made the Empress's statue look older than she is is perfectly valid, but it's an extrapolation. My counter-idea that they made the statue look younger than her is equally valid and, like yours, has a basis in human history. I can't see that there's any way to distinguish between the two ideas based on what the game says.

 

However, all is not lost! Your text dumps are alive and well. So far as I can see, all of Aran's webspace is back up, and has been for a little while, I think. Here's a link to the text dumps:

http://stuff.ermarian.net/slartucker/dump/

Have a look and see if you can find something I missed!

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Hmm, it's still not working for me.

 

Also, you yourself said that your "they made the statue look younger" idea was "a stretch" when you introduced it.

 

Let's split the difference and say she's really just a rakshasa.

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, 20th-level shepherd said:

Let's split the difference and say she's really just a rakshasa.

 

Yes! But did you know that this rakshasa was also magically pretending to be Pyrog in Exile I? And that she initiated an emergency teleportation to the surface after the party ‘defeated’ the ‘dragon’? After all, Prazac and Pyrog are never in the same game. Their names even start with the same letter! Coincidence? I think not. :)
 

17 hours ago, 20th-level shepherd said:

Hmm, it's still not working for me.

 

I thought it was unusual that you didn’t comment on the link the first time. I wonder what the problem is? Maybe it's something odd with the permissions? In any case, to get around it, I’ve downloaded the files and uploaded them elsewhere, briefly. Here they are for your perusing delectation:

 

https://we.tl/526MBGlLhz

 

Edited by Ess-Eschas
Clarifying the humour

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2 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

Yes! But did you know that this rakshasa was also magically pretending to be Pyrog in Exile I? And that she initiated an emergency teleportation to the surface after the party ‘defeated’ the ‘dragon’? After all, Prazac and Pyrog are never in the same game. Their names even start with the same letter! Coincidence? I think not. :)

 

This is honestly pretty tame compared to a typical TM surprise-it's-a-rakshasa RP.

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