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Well, I named this Random as I don't know in which forum I should include this. I had experience with the game for few years. I am critical to some points of that. Not to impossible things but something Jeff could have did to improve.

 

1. There should be a high AP such as 8 to 10 to allow variations in it. Reasons below:

2. AP should be proportional to health. Health is merely seen as a count in the game but it is more important. The character's efficiency and speed should change with health.

3. Slow spell is to slow the foe, not to halt it. It should not be made to lose turns but should have reduced APs. Battles are real time based according to in-game view.

4. Another appreciable thing in Exile. Character MUST eat and rest. They can't walk 1000 miles per day. But, in avernum one don't want to worry about PCs.

5. In second trilogy, the bows are getting infinite arrows which is impossible. This gives more advantage to ranged fighters specifically as they can attack recklessly without reaching close.

 

Edited by Warrior Mage
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3. Slow spell is handled differently in different games. Some games handle it with loss of turns every other round and that goes back in some ways to Exile 1. Some games do what you suggest and reduce AP as in Avernum remakes. Others do only a chance of losing movements that round. The same things happened with haste.

 

4. Eat and rest are changed to eliminate things people complained about as being annoying. 

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5.  Lots of things in RPGs are impossible and a lot of players do not want to be bothered with having to manage supply issues, kind of like #4.  Also, in some of the games, the damage from ranged attacks has been dropped considerably.

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  • 3 months later...

Was thinking about it. There is a scenario called 'The Za-Khazi Run' in BoE and BoA. But, where does the whole run thing fit into the compact Avernum? I also tried A5 map but the nearest city was told as Dharmon towards the end. So, it should be the original map. Does anyone have an idea about it? Or was the solution found in any previous threads?

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It's not at all clear to me how Fort Cavalier could be close to Dharmon, as ZKR says. Presumably, there's some sort of secret passage in the northwest corner of the Great Cave that is inaccessible in all the games. This passage presumably leads to a cave underneath the main Avernum caves, where ZKR takes place (sort of like how the vahnatai caves in Avernum 2 are deeper than the main cave, and the caves in A3 are much higher than the main cave).

 

But I think the BoA scenarios are only quasi-canonical anyway. There's a veiled reference to the slith war described in ZKR in Avernum 4, if I remember correctly, but that's about it.

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Yes, locating the Za-Khazi Run is rather tricky, since we really aren’t given that much information about it!

 

2 hours ago, Kelandon said:

It's not at all clear to me how Fort Cavalier could be close to Dharmon, as ZKR says. Presumably, there's some sort of secret passage in the northwest corner of the Great Cave that is inaccessible in all the games.

 

Strictly speaking, the scenario doesn’t actually say that Fort Cavalier is ‘close’ to Dharmon, only that Dharmon is the "closest" city. So, the Run doesn’t necessarily have to border that particular corner of the Great Cave, at least in principle. Given Dharmon’s location, I think the Run could feasibly be anywhere off the southwestern borders of Avernum (too far north and you get too close to Blosk, too far east and you get too close to Almaria).

 

The scenario isn’t entirely clear on how far away the Run is either. The ending text describes the journey from Fort Cavalier to Dharmon as a “hike”, which at least to me implies it’s a fair distance. However, the introduction to the scenario describes the Run as being “just outside the heart of Avernum”, so presumably it can’t be too far from the Great Cave.

 

I’ve always tended to assume that the Run is deeper than the main caves of Avernum, but I have no real evidence for this. So far as I recall, the scenario only mentions relative height when talking about the darkling sliths. According to a book in Fort Goodling, after Avenum 1, the darklings “fled to lower caverns as yet unreached by Avernites”, where they regrouped. The war began with the sliths attacking outlying settlements, which they reached “through the waterways”.

 

That doesn’t give much of a clue but, at least to me, it implies that the first settlements the sliths attacked might not have been that much higher than the slith’s own caves. After all, wouldn’t swimming up waterfalls or cascading water be difficult, even for sliths? So, if the Run connects to some of these outlying settlements, perhaps it’s also deeper than Avernum, or climbs over its length, connecting the lower caves to the caves of Avernum?

 

In any case, I have a theory about where the Run is, although it’s only really a guess. There’s one feature that we can use to locate the Run, assuming it really is close to the Great Cave: the river! The Run is traversed by a large river, which flows out of both ends of the gallery. So, if the gallery connects directly to the Great Cave, this river should too.

 

Conveniently, there’s only one large river on the southwestern corner of the Great Cave. It’s the river that flows past Patrick’s Tower (running through the Great Cave from the Sulphur Lake and Silverlock’s Tower). My guess is that, a little way past Patrick’s Tower, this river flows into the Za-Khazi Run.

 

So where’s the entrance? Well, why not the river itself? There’s no particular reason why the primary entrance to the Run from the Great Cave has to be by land, after all. Settlers could have reached the Run by boat – and the sliths could be intending to attack the Great Cave through the river. After all, Avernum 5 shows us some settlements beyond Avernum’s traditional borders that can only be reached by boat, so there could in principle be others, too.

 

And it could explain why the party in the games can’t reach the Run – there’s never anyone selling a boat on that stretch of river! :)

 

2 hours ago, Kelandon said:

But I think the BoA scenarios are only quasi-canonical anyway. There's a veiled reference to the slith war described in ZKR in Avernum 4, if I remember correctly, but that's about it.

 

It’s not talked about much, but there's more than just one reference to the Za-Khazi Run in the second trilogy. I can recall references in Avernum 4 and, surprisingly, Avernum 6 – although I'm not sure if I'm remembering all of them. The one I remember in Avernum 4 is actually quite explicit. I suspect it’s the one you’re thinking of, Kel, since it references the war. Here’s that reference, which is a portion of a conversation with Pea Eye in Silver:

 

Party: “Are you an adventurer?”

 

Pea Eye: “I was. Once. Long ago. I helped out in the second slith war, not too many years ago.”

 

Party: “The second slith war?”

 

Pea Eye: “It was a small one, but nasty, not too long after Empress Prazac let the Avernites back onto the surface. I helped ferry supplies down the Za-Khazi Run, after some other adventurers cleared it out.”

 

That last sentence seems a pretty clear reference to the events of the scenario itself. So, I think the scenario probably is canonical, but not in a way that really impacts on the series very much. I mean, we never actually see the Run in the main series, so at the end of the day I suppose the Run is only really a niche part of its lore.

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On 10/7/2020 at 3:12 PM, Ess-Eschas said:

In any case, I have a theory about where the Run is, although it’s only really a guess. There’s one feature that we can use to locate the Run, assuming it really is close to the Great Cave: the river! The Run is traversed by a large river, which flows out of both ends of the gallery. So, if the gallery connects directly to the Great Cave, this river should too.

 

Conveniently, there’s only one large river on the southwestern corner of the Great Cave. It’s the river that flows past Patrick’s Tower (running through the Great Cave from the Sulphur Lake and Silverlock’s Tower). My guess is that, a little way past Patrick’s Tower, this river flows into the Za-Khazi Run.

 

So where’s the entrance? Well, why not the river itself? There’s no particular reason why the primary entrance to the Run from the Great Cave has to be by land, after all. Settlers could have reached the Run by boat – and the sliths could be intending to attack the Great Cave through the river. After all, Avernum 5 shows us some settlements beyond Avernum’s traditional borders that can only be reached by boat, so there could in principle be others, too.

I suppose that's possible, if we assume that "city" excludes all the forts and towers (which I think is consistent with how Avernites use the term, but I honestly can't remember). But isn't Patrick's Tower almost exactly halfway between Dharmon and the Castle? I don't remember whether anyone describes the Castle as a city, but it would be sort of odd not to.

 

Looking more closely at the map, my best guess is that the Run is off the Avernum map to the west of Erika's Tower. Assuming that Spire doesn't count as an Avernite city because it's in the Abyss, and the people in the Abyss sometimes distinguish between themselves and Avernum, and assuming the forts don't count, the nearest Avernite city would be either Dharmon or Blosk, and Dharmon is probably a little closer.

 

But there are a bunch of little rivers in the western part of the Great Cave, and any one of them could lead down into the Run.

 

On 10/7/2020 at 3:12 PM, Ess-Eschas said:

Party: “Are you an adventurer?”

 

Pea Eye: “I was. Once. Long ago. I helped out in the second slith war, not too many years ago.”

 

Party: “The second slith war?”

 

Pea Eye: “It was a small one, but nasty, not too long after Empress Prazac let the Avernites back onto the surface. I helped ferry supplies down the Za-Khazi Run, after some other adventurers cleared it out.”

You're right, the Run itself is canonical, which I suppose means the scenario more or less is also. I had forgotten that there was an explicit reference to the Run itself — or maybe it wasn't in the beta at the time that I got to that point. I never actually played the release version of Avernum 4.

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19 hours ago, Kelandon said:

I suppose that's possible, if we assume that "city" excludes all the forts and towers (which I think is consistent with how Avernites use the term, but I honestly can't remember). But isn't Patrick's Tower almost exactly halfway between Dharmon and the Castle? I don't remember whether anyone describes the Castle as a city, but it would be sort of odd not to.

 

Yeah, I was working on the assumption that ‘city’ was being used in the Avernite sense, rather than in a more general way. As far as I understand it, locations in Avernum class as cities if they have a representative on the Council. I believe this gives six cities in all:

 

Dharmon, Blosk, Almaria, Silvar, Formello and Cotra.

 

Personally, I’m not sure I would classify the Castle as a city. It’s the heart of the Avernite government, certainly, and the seat of the Council itself – but at least to me, it has a slightly different feel from the other cities.

 

Places like Formello and Silvar are full of normal citizens going about their lives. We see plenty of homes, merchants, businesses, bits of civic infrastructure, and so on. But the Castle is a fortress, and one that stands apart. There are people living there, but these mainly seem to be people directly involved with the government and the military. I get the feeling that there are far fewer permanent residents in the Castle than most of the other towns/cities of Avernum. After all, there doesn’t seem to be the infrastructure to support very large numbers of residents. And, at least in Avernum 1, the Castle doesn’t even let in normal citizens without a good reason!

 

To my mind, the Castle fulfills a similar role to something like Windsor Castle. It’s big, and it’s important, but there might be fewer permanent residents than a small village. So I’m not sure I would classify it as a city, per se.

 

If we assume the definition of city I’ve used here, there are two cities close to the river I was suggesting: Dharmon and Almaria. The river is actually about halfway between them, although I think Dharmon might be fractionally closer. So I think Dharmon might be the closest ‘city’ to this river using my definition, even if only just.

 

It’s worth pointing out that Patrick’s tower is actually noticeably closer to the Castle than it is to Dharmon. While I suppose the Za-Khazi adventurers could report to the Castle, I’m not sure that would be in keeping with what’s shown in the main series of the games. After all, in the main series, we’re shown that only missions of the most crucial important to the nation of Avernum are given at the Castle. I don’t think ferrying important military supplies is quite up to the level of ‘Kill Garzahd’, but it’s hard to make effective comparisons for something like this!

 

If the adventurers were going to report to a military commander, and arrived up that river, I think Dharmon would be a reasonable place to go. It has a heavy military presence, after all, which Almaria does not.

 

That’s my reasoning, in any case. Actually, there’s a potential flaw I’ve come up with – but more on that in a moment.

 

19 hours ago, Kelandon said:

Looking more closely at the map, my best guess is that the Run is off the Avernum map to the west of Erika's Tower. Assuming that Spire doesn't count as an Avernite city because it's in the Abyss, and the people in the Abyss sometimes distinguish between themselves and Avernum, and assuming the forts don't count, the nearest Avernite city would be either Dharmon or Blosk, and Dharmon is probably a little closer.

 

Hmm, that’s a very nice idea. It has a real advantage over my suggestion, in that the river flowing past Erika’s Tower is a big, broad river. That’s in keeping with the river we see in the Run. The river I was pointing to is quite small by comparison, which makes it a poorer potential candidate.

 

And it works with the location of the cities, too. To explain a slightly odd comment I made in the previous post, I tend to think of Blosk as being slightly further west than it actually is – the result of the compressed distances in the second trilogy. In the first trilogy, it’s actually a fair way towards the centre of the Great Cave. Dharmon and Blosk are about equidistant from Fort Saffron – so Dharmon could quite reasonably be called the ‘closest’ city the Abyss.

 

I have two potential issues with your suggestion, though.

 

Firstly, Fort Cavalier is described by Commander Yale of Fort Goodling as being:

 

“the last defense between the slith forces and the rich central caves of Avernum.”

 

To me, this implies that there are no defensive sites between the entrance to the Run and the Great Cave. But, if the darklings emerged from the Run into the Abyss, the routes to the Great Cave are all blocked by defensive positions: Fort Spire and Fort Saffron on the one hand, and Fort Emerald on the other. There seems to be no route from the Abyss to Dharmon without getting stuck in well-entrenched positions. After all, the Empire couldn’t punch through the Fort Saffron route into the Great Cave, at least not on a small timescale. While I’m sure the darklings could, I imagine the potential battle there would at least have been mentioned.

 

Of course, the easy solution to this is just to have a land entrance to the Run, one that comes out somewhere else – say in the tunnels west of Fort Remote. You could easily have this entrance down one of the many pits in the area, for example.

 

Still, if we’re trying to connect rivers to the river of the Run, there’s another rather serious problem. This affects my suggestion, too.

 

The river in the Run flows from south to north. We know this because of the position of waterfalls on the river, and because Commander Yale in Fort Goodling explicitly mentions that the Run extends northwards from her fort.

 

But all the major rivers in the west/southwest of Avernum flow in the other direction. They flow from north to south. This is indicated by waterfalls. So the river I suggested flows in this direction. As does yours (although this is indicated only by waterfalls that appear in Avernum 2). Actually, pretty well all the rivers in that portion of the map flow this way.

 

So, for the Patrick’s Tower river or the Erika’s Tower river to connect to the Run river, they’d have to do a sharp turn at some point. That’s by no means infeasible for a natural river, but it does make the geography a little less elegant.

 

Taking all this together, I find myself less sure of my original suggestion. I think I'm coming around to one of yours, in fact. Maybe one of the other little patches of water in western Avernum could connect to the Run river, one that doesn't have waterfalls to constrain its direction of flow? That little stretch of water near the ruins of the unnamed city above Fort Remote looks like a good candidate, although there are a few others!

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I agree that the western river makes a heck of a lot more sense.  The "last defense" comment could simply mean that it was the last place the Sliths could reasonably be blocked prior to reaching and reinforcing the old Slith waters just north of the Castle -- whose Slith population, and combat capacity, must have dwindled greatly in the aftermath of not just Sss-Thsss's defeat, but also the occupation by the Empire, but whose hostility to humans could hardly have been diminished by those events.

 

The text might say "nearest city" (does it, or does it just say "nearest settlement"?  I noticed you only put quotes around "nearest"), but even so.  If Patrick's Tower was closer to it, the sentence might technically be true, but it would also be a very strange thing to say.  I think that's enough to rule that out.

 

Furthermore, if Patrick's Tower really was on the edge of seriously hostile enemy territory, we would expect some reflection of that fact in A4 or A6.  Particularly A6, given what happens with the Sliths there.

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ZKR says:

Quote

You find a long secret passage, leading out of the fortress and back towards civilization. It will take you past the slith lines and, from there, to Dharmon, the nearest Avernite city.

If you leave, it says:

Quote

The passage stretches for about two thousand feet, and deposits you well away from slith lines. From there, you maneuver your way through neutral territory. A few close escapes and minor skirmishes later, you return to Avernite territory.

 

A commander in the city of Dharmon gives you 2500 gold for your services, and throws in a pretty medal as well. Even better, you get the satisfaction of knowing that you've made a difference for the better.

The more I think about it, the more inexplicably weird it seems to me that, after this plainly military mission, you go to Dharmon rather than one of the forts. Just about any possible exit from ZKR except a secret passage in the western part of the Great Cave would put you closer to a fort than to Dharmon, and it seems like a fort would be a more natural place to go to meet up with a "commander."

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That settles it, I think -- if you're maneuvering your way through neutral territory, it almost has to connect to some area north of the Great Cave, and not to the Great Cave itself.

 

It's worth pointing out that there are really two points to locate here: Fort Goodling as well as Fort Cavalier.  Fort Goodling is presumably more easily accessed, at least from the Tower of Magi, since one of the Triad goes there personally to deliver the wands, but doesn't just bring them to Fort Cavalier.  (It does also seem much less distressed than Fort Cavalier, so it seems unlikely it's harder to reinforce.)

 

It's also explicitly far to the south of Fort Cavalier.  If Fort Cavalier were west of the Great Cave, this would place Fort Goodling very far from Avernum proper.  But if the whole run is a bit lower than Avernum proper -- this makes sense given all the denizens and I think might even be specified somewhere -- it's easy to place.  Fort Goodling could be reached, potentially, via one of those smaller waterways at the south end of the Great Cave (or through some other excavated passage we never see: who knows).  And Fort Cavalier connects to the north of the Great Cave, possibly not that far north, but with a fair bit of that "neutral territory" being below the maps we're used to.

 

It's worth pointing out that Fort Cavalier isn't actually directly on water in the scenario, and neither is the passage you take to get away from it.  There's a river kind of nearby, but not close enough that we'd need one where the passageway comes out.

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5 minutes ago, "Nothing Left" said:

That settles it, I think -- if you're maneuvering your way through neutral territory, it almost has to connect to some area north of the Great Cave, and not to the Great Cave itself.

 

Ah, but it’s also worth quoting the ending text if you fail to reach Fort Cavalier on time, since this gives a little more information:

 

Quote

The tunnel winds for about two thousand feet and emerges at a concealed exit behind the slith encirclement. There, you find a pleasant surprise. Not all of Fort Cavalier's guardians fell with it.

 

You meet 50 Avernite soldiers, who escaped when the wall fell. Their leader, Commander Malak, greets you. They're rather cold to you, but do agree to take you along in their flight back to Avernum.

 

It's a nasty hike back to Dharmon, the nearest city. There are plenty of skirmishes and close calls, and several casualties. At last, you make it back to safety.

 

You are reluctantly paid 500 coins for your time and effort, but you get little more acknowledgement. Nobody wants any further dealings with you. Two weeks later, the slithzerikai attack the city of Dharmon.

 

The loss of Fort Cavalier was only one battle of many. However, it is clear that this war is nowhere near over. In fact, it's just getting started.

 

I think the interesting point here is that the darklings attack Dharmon. They don’t do so immediately, but they get there within a few weeks of the party’s arrival there. If the darklings had to push through defensive positions like Fort Saffron and Fort Emerald, I’d expect that to take a little longer, even with huge numbers. After all, the Fort Saffron pass held out against the forces of the Empire army for at least several months during the events of Avernum 2, and possibly longer – it’s hard really to gauge timescales there. And if there were other targets in the way, I’d expect the darklings to focus on them first, and so take longer to reach Dharmon.

 

Also, note that this text only says “nearest city”, rather than “nearest Avernite city”. I suppose the Avernite qualifier could be implied there, rather than being stated, but I’d take “city” in this case to also refer to cities not part of Avernum – and Spire and Bargha are both referred to as cities in Avernum canon. Besides, if you were fleeing from an army of darklings, and travelled close by a settlement – any settlement, even one hostile to you – wouldn’t you at least consider stopping by for a few minutes to warn them? There’s no indication of anything of that sort happening here.

 

My feeling is that this indicates that there are no forts or settlements of any significance between Dharmon and Fort Cavalier, wherever it actually is. Although I may be reading too much into this!

 

10 hours ago, "Nothing Left" said:

The "last defense" comment could simply mean that it was the last place the Sliths could reasonably be blocked prior to reaching and reinforcing the old Slith waters just north of the Castle -- whose Slith population, and combat capacity, must have dwindled greatly in the aftermath of not just Sss-Thsss's defeat, but also the occupation by the Empire, but whose hostility to humans could hardly have been diminished by those events.

 

That’s a rather nice idea, and it certainly makes sense from the perspective of the darklings. Once they’ve made it up into the caves we know from the games, I can certainly see the army heading to the subterranean sea around Sss-Thsss’s old fortress. There are remnants of the sliths living there even during the occupation in Exile II, and I imagine the army would be able to pick up extra numbers from those sliths – either from the darklings who stayed in the upper caves, or from sliths damaged by the Empire, and wanting revenge against humans in a broad sense. And I imagine there would probably still be a few supplies they could pick up from their old forts, too, or from hidden caches in the area.

 

The problem I have with this is what happens next. If the darkling army heads to the subterranean sea, why do they then move on to Dharmon? That doesn’t seem to make much strategic sense. If they move into the Great Cave, they have to pass through Fort Emerald, and thereby reach Gnass and Blosk – not Dharmon.

 

But I’m not sure that would be the best decision either. My feeling is that a much better way into the Great Cave would be to head east from the sea, and to travel down the river to Almaria. Almaria is relatively undefended compared to other routes into the Great Cave, since it’s not defended by a large fortress.

 

Alternatively, if the darklings wanted to whittle down Avernum’s defences slowly before on the heartlands, they could head further east, and attack Fort Dralon, with which there’s an historic enmity. Or perhaps they could do what the darklings do in Avernum 6, and head north to Fort Draco and Formello – dealing with the outlying settlements before moving on to better defended positions.

 

To me, for an army based in the subterrean sea, all these seem to make more sense than initial targets than Dharmon.

 

10 hours ago, "Nothing Left" said:

Furthermore, if Patrick's Tower really was on the edge of seriously hostile enemy territory, we would expect some reflection of that fact in A4 or A6.  Particularly A6, given what happens with the Sliths there.

 

Hmm, that’s a fair point. I imagine Patrick would have had some things to say about it, if nothing else. After all, despite the intervening years of peace, the war in Avernum 6 seems to be essentially a continuation of the second slith war seen in the ZKR.

 

And, in any case, my reasoning above still applies. If the party was fleeing the darkling army, why would they walk right past Patrick’s Tower on the way? Wouldn’t they at least tell Patrick, who could probably do something to help?

 

So, I’m not sure my suggestion of the Patrick’s Tower river really stands up under scrutiny!

 

7 hours ago, Kelandon said:

The more I think about it, the more inexplicably weird it seems to me that, after this plainly military mission, you go to Dharmon rather than one of the forts. Just about any possible exit from ZKR except a secret passage in the western part of the Great Cave would put you closer to a fort than to Dharmon, and it seems like a fort would be a more natural place to go to meet up with a "commander."

 

Yes, I’m coming around to this way of thinking too.

 

Originally, I wasn’t sure. I was trying to make an analogy to the main series, and my memory well telling me that forts didn’t give out or receive reports about many major quests. However, checking that, I find that’s not true at all. There are plenty of major quests given out at forts (Kill Limoncelli, Slay Elderan, etc.). So that line of argument doesn’t stand.

 

If the party needs to report about a military matter, it would make sense that they reported to a fort with a military presence – even if that fort just passed to buck to somewhere else. So, if there’s a nearby fort, wouldn’t they go there, instead of Dharmon? I think they probably would.

 

Right now, there’s only one way I can think of to make sense out of all of this. This would be to have the route out of Fort Cavalier take you up a series of tunnels that eventually bring you to the western wall of the Great Cave, right next to Dharmon. So maybe through that little river immediately to its west? Perhaps the tunnels wind south, parallel to the run for some significant distance, to avoid Slarty's distance issue regarding Fort Goodling?

 

It’s not an ideal suggestion, but it’s the best one I can think of right now. And it's not a great response to the distance issue, I think.

 

I suppose there’s always the “a cave quake opened up a passage somewhere after Avernum 2 and closed it again by Avernum 4” explanation, but that seems a bit cheap ...

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It's true that Seletine of the Triad of the Tower of Magi goes to Fort Goodling rather than Fort Cavalier, but honestly that seems more like a plot hole than anything else. It seems as though it's not particularly hard to get from Fort Cavalier to Dharmon once the siege is broken, and the siege is broken with the wands that Seletine has. So why doesn't Seletine go to Fort Cavalier directly and break the siege? I can't come up with any good reason. Commander Yale says that the "sliths have done an excellent job of blocking or trapping all safe routes to Fort Cavalier," but that seems like it's only true for someone without the wands, because the wands cut through the sliths like butter.

 

I think the reason that Fort Cavalier is under more stress, though, is that it's closer to the slith lines. It's apparently surrounded on three sides by sliths, according to the commander of Fort Goodling.

 

It's also potentially important that it seems like we can't map the outdoors sections in ZKR to the outdoor sections in Avernum. Fort Cavalier is 14 outdoor sections north of Fort Goodling. Even if Fort Goodling is a little off the map of Avernum to the south, that would still put Fort Cavalier far off the map of Avernum to the north. So I think we have to take those outdoor sections as not representing the same amount of distance as the outdoor sections in Avernum. Fort Cavalier is north of Fort Goodling. How much? A ways. We can't really be more specific than that.

 

There's also no particular reason that the river in the Run has to be a river that shows up in the Avernum caves. It could be, but it doesn't have to be.

 

Putting all this together, I think that it ultimately doesn't make a lot of sense. There isn't a clean way to account for every fact we have without some pretty serious messiness. The best I can say is that there's probably some secret passage that isn't on the main Avernum maps that goes from Fort Cavalier to Dharmon, and it's probably north or west of Dharmon (or else it would be closer to some other city), and the Run itself is probably on a different level of the caves or off the main Avernum map. Fort Goodling is somewhat south of Fort Cavalier, not as far as south as a distance of 14 outdoor sections would suggest. That would put it more or less south of Fort Remote, give or take, presumably through another secret passage and in a different set of caves.

 

That still doesn't account for Seletine, but like I said, I think that's a plot hole.

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Yeah, I think "plot hole" describes a lot of this.  Really nothing about Seletine and the wands makes any sense -- cue old griping about how the Tower would rather have the wands be lost or destroyed, rather than have their couriers use a few charges in order to ensure their delivery.

 

Fortunately, however, we can be more specific about how far north of Fort Goodling Fort Cavalier is: about 250 miles.  (This is in the text somewhere; I'm reading off the Blazing Blade, which is somehow still up, and which I trust to have quoted accurately.)  Although the relationship between "miles" and squares on the overworld map is a little bit elastic (which I think is fine; it's a 2d grid, it can't possibly correspond 1:1 to the topography of a 3d cave system), we can look at relative distances.  There's a sign between Silvar and Mertis that says the Castle is 230 miles west and 40 miles south of that point.  That's roughly 4 or so outdoor sections.  ZKR has far more than 4 sections, but that just tells us the scale is a little different.  It's probably reasonable to assume that the full length of the ZKR, accounting for whatever twisty tunnels may connect it with Exile proper, spans roughly 3-5 outdoor sections.

 

1 hour ago, Kelandon said:

The best I can say is that there's probably some secret passage that isn't on the main Avernum maps that goes from Fort Cavalier to Dharmon, and it's probably north or west of Dharmon (or else it would be closer to some other city), and the Run itself is probably on a different level of the caves or off the main Avernum map. Fort Goodling is somewhat south of Fort Cavalier, not as far as south as a distance of 14 outdoor sections would suggest. That would put it more or less south of Fort Remote, give or take, presumably through another secret passage and in a different set of caves.

 

This squares with the distance estimates above, too, if we assume NW of Dharmon and S or SW (or even a bit SE) of Fort Remote.

 

While I agree that Dharmon's relevance to all of this is weird, if that's Fort Cavalier's location, it might well be the most obvious target for the Sliths to attack if they breached Cavalier.  Dharmon would make a better outpost than Blosk, as its terrain is far more defendable; it has a water source (important for the Sliths); and controlling Dharmon means cutting off Avernum's primary source of iron and steel.  That would have meaningful long-term strategic impact.  It would also allow the Sliths to press Avernum on three fronts -- Dharmon, Emerald, and Dranlon/Draco -- the latter also becoming more crucial with Dharmon's steel out of the picture.  (The other nearby options -- Patrick's tower, Fort Remote, and Fort Saffron -- seem like they'd be far more trouble than they'd be worth to the Sliths.)

 

Not attacking Almaria is a little weird, but maybe there is some of that as well -- Sliths clearly attacked it prior to X1.  It just doesn't seem like a valuable position for the Sliths to hold, particularly as it would be very easy for Avernum to strike at from the Castle.

 

5 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

And, in any case, my reasoning above still applies. If the party was fleeing the darkling army, why would they walk right past Patrick’s Tower on the way? Wouldn’t they at least tell Patrick, who could probably do something to help?

 

As a side note, I'm not really sure what Patrick could do.  Although it's true that he led the original assault on Grah-Hoth (along with Erika and Rone), that was approximately 60-70 years before ZKR, and in the interim he very clearly ends up more of a "mage-sage," as Erika puts it, than anything else.

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4 hours ago, "Nothing Left" said:

Fortunately, however, we can be more specific about how far north of Fort Goodling Fort Cavalier is: about 250 miles.

 

That’s a very neat catch, Slarty! I’ve just done a sanity check, and this text is indeed still present in the BoA scenario. Relating it to the distance scales we see in the main series is a good touch, and it’s nice to see that the end result comes out in such a pleasing way.

 

As you say, if the Run is 3-5 outdoor sections long with respect to the dimensions of the main series games, that would fit in really rather nicely with Kel’s suggestion. Actually, your suggestion of the location Fort Goodling ties in with another idea I was toying with, but hadn’t written about yet – I was thinking that one possible route to Fort Goodling might be reached by climbing down the crevasses near the site of Gremlin’s Gold. That would at least allow for a route to the Fort that didn’t involve a secret passage!

 

Also, the Blazing Blade still exists! Gosh, I hadn’t realised that. It would have made thinking about this a whole lot easier, haha.

 

4 hours ago, "Nothing Left" said:

Not attacking Almaria is a little weird, but maybe there is some of that as well -- Sliths clearly attacked it prior to X1.  It just doesn't seem like a valuable position for the Sliths to hold, particularly as it would be very easy for Avernum to strike at from the Castle.

 

Hmm, I see your point there. I’d been thinking that Almaria would be an excellent staging post for the darklings to launch on attack on the Castle, but of course that goes both ways. Almaria is exposed, which means taking it would be easier than some other locations – but holding it would be extremely tricky. Troops from the Castle could probably get to Almaria while the darklings were taking it, so they’d be fighting against a siege quite quickly. Before long, they’d be dealing with troops from Dharmon and Blosk, and forces from the Tower on the other side.

 

That sounds messy. I can see why that might be such a good idea now!

 

Incidentally, I’m liking your general strategic ideas for the darkling war. It’s making me wonder what an Avernum game in that alternate timeline might look like – a more war-centred Avernum 6, perhaps!

 

4 hours ago, "Nothing Left" said:

As a side note, I'm not really sure what Patrick could do.  Although it's true that he led the original assault on Grah-Hoth (along with Erika and Rone), that was approximately 60-70 years before ZKR, and in the interim he very clearly ends up more of a "mage-sage," as Erika puts it, than anything else.

 

Oh, I wasn’t thinking so much in terms of Patrick fighting the army. I was thinking more in terms of him sending information to other mages to inform them of the situation, and to call in troops. After all, Patrick is shown to be an accomplished scryer in Avernum 1.

 

6 hours ago, Kelandon said:

It's true that Seletine of the Triad of the Tower of Magi goes to Fort Goodling rather than Fort Cavalier, but honestly that seems more like a plot hole than anything else. It seems as though it's not particularly hard to get from Fort Cavalier to Dharmon once the siege is broken, and the siege is broken with the wands that Seletine has. So why doesn't Seletine go to Fort Cavalier directly and break the siege? I can't come up with any good reason.

 

Yes, this is a fairly serious issue. It’s not an unreasonable question to be asked by the player, given the ending, so it’s unfortunate that the scenario doesn’t have anything to say on the matter. I can come up with a way around the issue at least, which is based on an idea I had when trying to make sense of the overall plot. However, since this idea is only really based on logic and extrapolation – without really making much reference to the information given in the scenario itself – it’s probably getting out of the world of speculation and into the world of fan fiction.

 

Still, for the curious:

 

When discussing the wands with Seletine in Fort Goodling, he says that the Tower of the Magi were observing the fight at Fort Cavalier. Concerned by the battle, Seletine and the other mages in the Tower combined their magical powers to create the wands. The implication here is that Seletine was in the Tower when the wands were created.

 

Given the seriousness of the situation, and the time pressure caused by the siege, the Tower would presumably want to get the wands to Fort Cavalier as quickly as feasibly possible. The fastest mode of travel probably wouldn’t be to send Seletine from the Tower by conventional means, to travel through the Great Cave to Dharmon by foot, or using horses or other animals. Referring to Slarty’s comments about distances in the Great Cave, this would be a journey of hundreds of miles, and would probably take weeks.

 

But the Tower has another mode of travel: the Great Portal. Selentine comments that the Tower has been “rebuilt to be stronger and lovelier than ever”, so I assume the Portal has also been rebuilt by this time, and is once again active.

 

However, I’m assuming that the Portal still uses the old coordinate system described in Avernum 2, and most of the original destinations. Those destinations had to be discovered manually, through scrying or other means. Unfortunately, Dharmon doesn’t appear in the list from Avernum 2. About the closest you can get to Dharmon is either the Castle, which is on the other side of the Great Cave, and Angierach – which sounds like a bad idea.

 

But what if the Tower had previously found a set of coordinates for a settlement near Fort Cavalier? If there’s a new Avernite colony in the area, it would make sense that the mages would have been looking for coordinates there, after all. So, taking the bundle of wands, Seletine uses the Portal to teleport close to his destination, fully expecting to ride in to Fort Cavalier himself to deliver the wands.

 

The only problem is that the darklings have powerful mages monitoring the nearby caves. They detect the powerful magic of the Portal, and collapse whatever tunnels Seletine would have used to reach Fort Cavalier. So Seletine finds himself stuck with no easy route to his destination, and no easy way around to get to Dharmon. And he can’t teleport back to the Tower and try again – the Great Portal is a one-way trip in the (original) original trilogy.

 

So, cut off from his destination, Seletine finds himself presented with only one option – the Za-Kahzi Run. At least, this assumes the darklings collapse most of the tunnels leading to Fort Cavalier to prevent it being resupplied. Conveniently, while heading to Fort Goodling, Seletine hears of adventurers in the area, and sends word to them to meet him at the Fort. Despite Seletine’s power, a group of adventurers would probably be more likely to survive the Run.

 

Cue the scenario.

 

It’s perhaps not the most elegant solution, but it’s one interpretation. And it could easily have been included in the scenario in a line or two – just a little mention from Seletine that he got trapped by the darklings collapsing tunnels would do it, I think.

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My point here is that the run is just a lower level of cave series beneath Avernum and Fort Cavalier has a secret tunnel that leads up to Dharmon. And it is not only about the 13 sections but there are even some north of that where sliths reign and we can't reach. But can't accept that Fort Goodling is south of Great Cave because you get a message just outside it that the lands to the west of Goodling are more civilised. But does that mean the run extends into west of Goodling?

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14 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

Oh, I wasn’t thinking so much in terms of Patrick fighting the army. I was thinking more in terms of him sending information to other mages to inform them of the situation, and to call in troops. After all, Patrick is shown to be an accomplished scryer in Avernum 1.

 

Scrying (and teleportation, and any form of magic involving long distances) is also shown to be extremely difficult in A1-3, far moreso than in mainstream fantasy of the last two decades.  How would he get a message to the Castle (or wherever) magically?  If there are magical communication devices set up, or spells available, we sure never see them.  And given the number of tell-this-person quests, those mages must enjoy laughing at adventurers.  No, the closest thing we see to this is astral travel.  Admittedly, Patrick is one of the two people we know can do this (the other, conveniently, being the other "mage-sage") but none of what little is said about it suggests it is expeditious.

 

14 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

However, since this idea is only really based on logic and extrapolation – without really making much reference to the information given in the scenario itself – it’s probably getting out of the world of speculation and into the world of fan fiction.

 

I'm not really sure about the logic and extrapolation part.  This is pure invention, and it relies on a large number of technically possible but very unlikely conditions.  Not to rehash our previous argument, but this isn't simply one interpretation of many, this is a construction which is incredibly, incredibly unlikely based on the evidence we have.

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11 hours ago, Warrior Mage said:

But can't accept that Fort Goodling is south of Great Cave because you get a message just outside it that the lands to the west of Goodling are more civilised. But does that mean the run extends into west of Goodling?

It is true that, when you try to go west on the river from Fort Goodling, you get this message:

Quote

To the west, you see a calm, safe stretch of river, heading  into more settled areas of Avernum. Boats similar to the one you are on are used to haul goods to and from this region.

 

Unfortunately, you don't have time to explore this way. Your path lies in the dangerous, uncharted waters to the north.

But that doesn't mean anything in particular. The area to the west is "more settled" than the area to the north, but the area to the north is the Za-Khazi Run itself, which hasn't been settled at all because it's too hostile. I don't think that means that the area to the west is any part of the Avernum map. (If it did, we'd have even bigger problems, because there's no way I can imagine to place Fort Goodling east along any river on the Avernum map.)

 

Also, the area to the west is not part of the Run; the dialogue is very specific that the Run refers to the area to the north. It's just some other cave area.

3 hours ago, "Nothing Left" said:

I'm not really sure about the logic and extrapolation part.  This is pure invention, and it relies on a large number of technically possible but very unlikely conditions.  Not to rehash our previous argument, but this isn't simply one interpretation of many, this is a construction which is incredibly, incredibly unlikely based on the evidence we have.

FWIW, the part that I have the most doubts about is the idea that there is a teleportation code for Fort Goodling but not for Fort Cavalier. But if that were true, and if it were true that it's faster to travel from Fort Goodling to Fort Cavalier than from the Castle to Fort Cavalier (not sure if that's plausible), then Seletine could have teleported to Fort Goodling intending to give the wands to soldiers/adventurers, as happens, and we don't need the sliths blocking/collapsing tunnels, which also seems sort of unmoored to anything.

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4 hours ago, Kelandon said:

FWIW, the part that I have the most doubts about is the idea that there is a teleportation code for Fort Goodling but not for Fort Cavalier. But if that were true, and if it were true that it's faster to travel from Fort Goodling to Fort Cavalier than from the Castle to Fort Cavalier (not sure if that's plausible), then Seletine could have teleported to Fort Goodling intending to give the wands to soldiers/adventurers, as happens, and we don't need the sliths blocking/collapsing tunnels, which also seems sort of unmoored to anything

 

Yes, my ‘explanation’ of Seletine’s actions does get a little convoluted there. I tried to come up with something that was as clean as I could make it, but I couldn’t quite iron out all the wrinkles. As you said, Kel, it’s hard to make sense of the oddities of the Za-Khazi Run without things getting messy!

 

Still, from what you’ve said here, I think I may not have expressed this portion of my explanation very well. The idea wasn’t that there were teleportation coordinates only near Fort Goodling, and not Fort Cavalier – but rather that neither Fort could be accessed by the Great Portal. Instead, the Tower has coordinates for a major settlement in the area, one relatively close to Fort Cavalier. My thinking was that this would be roughly one outdoor section to the west or east of the Fort. By way of analogy, think of the position of Blosk relative to Fort Emerald.

 

In other words, Seletine travels only a short journey from Fort Cavalier – say a day’s journey at most – a much shorter journey that the equivalent one from the Castle.

 

As for why the Tower would have coordinates for this settlement, rather than the Forts, I think that could arise from practical considerations. When searching for teleportation coordinates, I would expect the Tower to focus more on settlements. After all, if the Tower is still using the Portal to send settlers to different locations, as it did to Upper Exile, then it would make sense to send settlers directly to a major civic centre. Likewise for supplies. Generally speaking, I would expect more civilian traffic than military traffic in peacetime – and this area seems to have been settled during a time of peace, with little or no indication of the darklings being nearby.

 

After all, of the coordinates we see in Avernum 2, the majority are for civic or private use (while the others arise directly as a result of the war, it seems). There are no coordinates for any of Avernum’s Forts.

 

Invoking this settlement allowed me to place Seletine near Fort Cavalier, with the full intent of delivering the wands himself. I felt that was important, since it would provide an indication that he was acting in good faith – simpler explanations would place him as being lazy, or thoughtless, or cowardly, and those seemed a little unfair on the man.

 

Unfortunately, the downside was that I needed to invoke the collapsing tunnels, blocking this settlement off from Fort Cavalier. It’s messy, but I had to provide a reason for Seletine to start off close to Cavalier, only to be forced to travel to Fort Goodling instead. It’s worth pointing out that the scenario talks about the darklings blocking tunnels, so there’s at least some precedent for using the idea.

 

Whatever path Seletine took to get from the settlement all the way to Fort Goodling, I’m assuming it would be parallel to the Run, and safer, but still a long journey. Hence everyone’s constant stressing of the time crunch in Fort Goodling – the delivery is working to a much tighter schedule than the Tower had originally been planning, since a good portion of that time had been taken up by Seletine's unexpected journey!

 

So, I hope that explains why that business with the tunnels is in there. It’s hardly an ideal plot device, but it’s a necessary one for my explanation to carry weight, I think.

 

8 hours ago, "Nothing Left" said:

I'm not really sure about the logic and extrapolation part.  This is pure invention, and it relies on a large number of technically possible but very unlikely conditions.  Not to rehash our previous argument, but this isn't simply one interpretation of many, this is a construction which is incredibly, incredibly unlikely based on the evidence we have.

 

But of course it’s invention! I had intended that little phrase you quoted to indicate as much, so I’m sorry it didn’t across that way. I’m certainly not trying to suggest that this explanation of mine is in any way true, or representative of what Jeff had in mind. I’d just come up with an explanation after thinking about the situation, both when playing through the scenario and as part of this thread, and I thought I’d share it as a bit of fun.

 

All I meant by referring to ‘logic and extrapolation’ was that I wanted to come up with something that was self-consistent, and at least had some basis in information gleaned from the scenario and from the lore of Avernum in general – even if I built a tower of invention on top of it! I'm not trying to say anything broader than that.

 

8 hours ago, "Nothing Left" said:

Scrying (and teleportation, and any form of magic involving long distances) is also shown to be extremely difficult in A1-3, far moreso than in mainstream fantasy of the last two decades.  How would he get a message to the Castle (or wherever) magically?  If there are magical communication devices set up, or spells available, we sure never see them.  And given the number of tell-this-person quests, those mages must enjoy laughing at adventurers.  No, the closest thing we see to this is astral travel.  Admittedly, Patrick is one of the two people we know can do this (the other, conveniently, being the other "mage-sage") but none of what little is said about it suggests it is expeditious

 

I think there are two issues here. Firstly, I was being inaccurate when talking about ‘scrying’. Of course, scrying is only a means of acquiring information, rather than sending it – so it’s not particularly helpful in this specific instance. I was, actually, thinking of astral travel, so I’m pleased you brought that up!

 

Just so that I’ve said this first, I think astral travel is probably unnecessary in this case, but for slightly different reasons than the ones you give. Seletine mentions that the Tower has been observing Fort Cavalier, presumably through scrying. If they’ve done so previously, I assume they can do so again – and it would make sense for them to watch the Fort over the critical period to see if it fell to the darklings. And if it did, the Tower could just send people to the Castle and other places using the Great Portal – so there’s no reason for Patrick to get involved!

 

However, I do want to talk about astral travel, even if there are better approaches that would probably be used. Even if astral travel is slow and demanding, I would think that Patrick would be able to do so usefully in this case, at least in principle. After all, if Patrick really were living in the back garden of the darkling army, I imagine he would give some serious thought about what to do should the army break through. The darkling army besieges Fort Cavalier for the best part of a month, so that would give him plenty of time to prepare for whatever needed doing. Moreover, if the darklings did break Fort Cavalier, I imagine that would be a disaster of sufficient magnitude to do something difficult and draining in order to try and dampen the effects.

 

And even is astral travel is inefficient, my instinctive feeling would be that incorporeal travel would be quicker than travel by conventional means – although, as you say, the games don’t have much to say on this issue.

 

So, I think Patrick would have plenty of time and incentive to try relaying information by astral travel, and it could still be an efficient approach, at least compared to the alternative of corporeal travel. And even if the Tower were watching, perhaps Patrick would do it anyway? It would be a good way to make sure that as much as possible got through about the current situation, after all!

 

On your point about scrying, I don’t think it’s as difficult as you make out here. Teleportion I will certainly buy as being difficult. But scrying seems a slightly different matter, at least to me.

 

We don’t see too many magic-users self-teleporting in the main series games, at least that I can remember. But there are quite a few instances of scrying. Yes, this is done by some of the more powerful magic-users in the games – Erika, Athron, Patrick, etc. – but it’s also done by people with far fewer resources, and who are much less powerful. For instance, members of the Scimitar obtain information through scrying, and specifically use scrying to monitor the progress of the party in Avernum 1. For another example from Avernum 1, Commander Novak of Fort Saffron is more an alchemist than a mage, but it’s implied that he’s able to scry. And the party even has its own scrying spell in Exile!

 

Also, in Exile I – and only in Exile I – there’s an example of Patrick himself scrying at a drop of a hat, and without any perceptible cost. When you ask him about the password to the Gauntlet, the response is:

 

“He looks about, eyes unfocused, scrying the room. Then, satisfied, he turns to you.

 

“"Yes. We, almost accidentally, discovered a part of the password to the outer world.””

 

At least to me, this implies that scrying isn’t too demanding, at least in comparison to some other disciplines. Of course, the key thing here may be distance. Perhaps scrying a room is easy, but scrying from Patrick’s Tower to the Castle is a much harder issue?

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