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gem helper

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  1. I am a huge, huge fan of Exile 2, and kind of a partisan of the original series (one of my primary games growing up was Blades of Exile, after all), but I have been cautious about recommending it, or the Exile series, to friends. I do find the mechanics more generally satisfying, and absolutely have a powerful aesthetic affinity for the old graphics.


    But I've had to recognize that the way I came to know and love the series was wholly contingent on how I first encountered it. Me and the first boy I had a crush on bonded over playing Exile 1 together (and in retrospect we were completely terrible at it, constantly starving to death). What I read of its dialogue and events stuck with me hard, and Exile 2 was an improved version of that experience. It hit me at the exact time I was capable of understanding the plot and themes - 10 or so. Having gotten the demo on AOL, I was served an old 1.x version rather than the 2.x versions with the updated graphics set. (This separates me from even a lot of other people who grew up thinking of E2 as one of the best games they'd ever played. And that's fine!)


    There's a primal magic to all of it, a sort of itch being scrached, that wouldn't be there for my friends even if the version I played could be trivially delivered to them. (It's a hell of a jury-rig.) They're not children figuring out what spells and items work best from trial and error, or PC-exclusive kids stepping into a slightly foreign and strikingly pretty visual dialect. The combat is liable to be confusing and clunky, the graphics crude and dark.


    But genuinely I think there are things to these games beyond childhood nostalgia. The writing is fantastic; the setting and plot are both pretty outside the beaten path, treating themes and including people that video games even now are kinda uncomfortable with. I think those things shine just as well in the remakes, and there might be a twinge of regret and an odd sense of loss to it, but they're what I recommend to friends. I am excited about the A2 remake because it is bringing something that I loved, something that was a big part of me being the person I am, to people who would not otherwise have played it.


    That's kinda cool, you know? A part of me wishes the people I recommend A2:CS to - or the modern 10-year-olds saving coins and doing odd jobs to buy it - could cross the same river I did, but that's not really possible. The river they get to cross is still pretty nice.

  2. tbh i don't even like the forum greeting much, i wish it'd at least be kept to General rather than the game forums because it feels sorta weirdly dismissive to me for someone to be greeted like that when their first post is asking for help with a game, but this is General and you asked nicely so there you go


    it feels a little mean in any context really, and a bit of a relic of a time when non-bottom-feeder internet culture was more casually ableist


    (not an accusation or anything, just an extended sigh)

  3. I'm not really sure how what the situation would be where it isn't racist, really. My family didn't get to the US until around 1905ish and didn't have a thing in the world to do with slavery before they moved here. Forgive me if I don't immediately see the need to apologize for being white just because other people, who were also white, exercised cruelty over those without the power to stop it.

    uhhh... 1905, aka what historians call "the nadir of american race relations"? a time at which a massive flood of immigrants attempted to integrate into white supremacy in a foreign and xenophobic country by positioning themselves as agents of violent racism, stepping through a groove cut into the white american psyche by the late history of slavery? sharecropper times, jim crow times, grandfather clause times?


    and let's not even get into the fact that american railroad and steamer companies of that time put out massive advertisement campaigns in europe promoting the ready availability of good agricultural land under laws which were set up to dispossess natives, sometimes straight-up referring to it as "good indian land". for many central european nationalities, this promise, directly or indirectly, is the entire reason a population exists in america.

    the homestead infrastructure supporting this was a direct outgrowth of the tension over slavery and an attempt to construct a counterproject to plantation slavery without redefining what america was about.


    or, like, the fact that your family immigrated into a country that was in the process of shooting civilians and looting their resources in the philippines? this is also a thing.


    i guess i just wanna say this is a really morally reckless claim and you should be careful about making it.

  4. my primary goals right now are to escape my suffocating house and power through gatekeeping for access to surgery and vital documents; for things to stop feeling like a nightmare i'm too weak to wake up from.


    the only true goal in life, though, is to becoming a perfect and perfectly self-contained goat

  5. I'm rewatching Boardwalk Empire because the last arc hit me like a ton of bricks and recontextualized a lot of the first three seasons pretty hard. It's okay.


    DS9 is pretty great too. I liked Hannibal enormously but I feel gross about the end of the second season. I've not been loving Better Call Saul so far, but it's something to watch.


    If I had to point to the best thing on TV right now it'd be Steven Universe. The way my friends have been talking about it has used the phrase "positive subversion" a lot and I feel that pretty strongly.

  6. Zombies don't seem to serve much of a metaphorical purpose anymore. These days, it's all about how desperate people are bad. You could mostly replace zombies with any natural disaster without it meaning anything different.

    *small voice* you ever wonder if the zombie genre making a huge comeback in the US after bush gutted the federal emergency infrastructure and especially after hurricane katrina might mean something

  7. Hey! If you have cool or good rocks or crystals or stones or anything else you want to share post them here. Please! The forums need this.




    This is a cube made of shungite that came for me in the mail! I don't know why or how. The cut is actually pretty far off from cubic but it's still a cube in my eyes and I am proud to call this amorphous mineraloid my child.

  8. so Faceless Void is a Nerd? LOL

    carries are nerds by definition. as someone who is inherently buff and strong despite having almost no money, i enjoy being a feckless nerd who thinks she's real tough hiding behind a vlads and bkb. like a little vacation from being cool :cool:

  9. wow i never thought i'd see the day when you of all people would speak ill of crystals

    As I've said a thousand times, my policy is that if a crystal wants to go along on an adventure with me and my squadron of murderous gay thieves it will signal this by being inherently worth money.

  10. Already did this, except instead of putting them in a folder they're stored right inside the saved game.


    The first two are easy, though can you give me an example of why you'd want the second? For the third, how is that different from just reducing the item's value?

    For the second, let's say I'm having the party choose between good mundane weapons versus mediocre and common 1-handed weapons specially designed to do damage to unprincipled blobs: an easy way to do that would be to throw Giant Slaying on it and make all unprincipled blobs Giants (and nothing else the party encounters a Giant). Throwing a "special removed on scenario end" flag on that would ensure I didn't just ruin some other designer's day. Alternative possibilities: a platinum ring of fire resistance whose power can't survive the light of the sun, etc. I guess I mostly was thinking about it because the specific ways specials were removed or not removed between scenarios imposed design considerations on authors.


    For the third, there's a lot of other things you could do with it than that. "Traders pay 200% of normal, charge 100% of normal" would mean, for example, that buyer NPCs pay an item's listed cost - think of this as something like being presented with the opportunity to buy exotic reagents at a magic bazaar, or being offered ore by a miner at less than cost to save her the danger of hauling it downriver, or a junk merchant not understanding the value of everything they're selling. The opposite situation - "traders pay 100% of normal, charge 200% of normal" - might describe an item like an heirloom sword, a cursed stone of greed, something like that.


    We could even envision combining the two - "traders pay 10% of normal, charge 50% of normal; special removed on leaving scenario" for, say, orichalcum dust and ingots for a scenario in the area of an orichalcum strike.


    In other words, this would allow you to engineer situations where the party can buy things for much less than they're worth anywhere but where they're currently buying them. Selling for 200% of normal would also make the player's expected return for a received item the same as the listed price, instead of half as much. (That's a little annoying, I think.)


    This is all stuff it's feasible to do (or kludge like you've done) with specials right now, but it'd basically add flexibility and portability to those mechanics.


    If that were to be added, what would you say is a good default icon? Mainly for importing old scenarios where there's no icon specified, though it could also be used for new special items in the editor.


    Maybe the default "special encounter" dot, or an exclamation point, or a question mark?

  11. The caves were survivable. They had air, they had some light, and they had some edible fish and lizards and maybe even fungi. What they definitely did not have was enough of anything, or enough of anything cultivatable, to support the human settlements. It's likely that sliths have both different dietary requirements and lower metabolisms. Maybe they lived happily on fish that wouldn't support humans.

    eh: you can buy food from sliths, and a party of sliths doesn't seem to eat any different. i'm willing to accept a handwave over that as a gameplay element, but nothing really suggests that sliths have any inherent edge over humans in living in exile except being amphibious (or well-adapted to water) and thus being less endangered by the caves' cold, vicious lakes and rivers. they live in the wettest parts of the caves, and they're the most threat to human settlements along the water.


    if i had to headcanon something up to explain the discrepancy you're pointing to, it'd be cultural. humans are still, after generations in exile, pretty squeamish about eating a lot of meat sources that don't seem to be poisonous or vile. humes and nephs also use weapons which are objectively worse for the conditions in exile - swords and bows, not exactly great for a dark and twisty place with little metal.


    incidentally, it'd be worth thinking about that a common strategy for cold-blooded animals without easy access to consistent temperature conditions within their comfort range is eating more...



    I'm not sure what xenocide you're talking about. The Empire didn't, in any obvious way, intend the exiles to wipe out anything. They were just dumped. The only thing really worth targeting was the sliths, and they came very close to wiping out the Avernites. Someone on the surface sent down some cows, probably just as aid. What other surface megafauna is there in Avernum? The lizards, the major beast of burden and food animal, are native. And the dragons weren't, according to most sources, banished. They came down on their own long before the Empire knew the caves were there.

    i always got the impression they were banished, but other people have said that was more of a "pushed to flee by human aggression" situation.


    also, i think i was unclear - i didn't mean they sent things down to exile to be killed by the exiles, i meant they sent things down there as a way of leaving them tantamount to killed (much like the exiles themselves), presumably in the hope the caves themselves would kill them. or else the other things they sent down there would. i expect it's not a humanitarian thing but a cost/effort thing.


    the lizards are likely native. (there's giant lizards in valorim, but also in the vahnatai caves. who knows?) less clearly native, still possibly so: basilisks, gazers/eyebeasts, giant rats, giants. nativeness indeterminate or stated both ways: gremlins, goblins, ogres. categorically not native: humans, human domestic animals besides lizards, nephilim and nepharim. not native but not from the surface either: sliths, vahnatai, chitrachs, null bugs. who can say: giant spiders (esp. GIFTS), slimes, giant bats.


    undead don't breed and hence don't really count, but isn't it interesting that there are no new forms of undead in valorim?


    —Alorael, who at the very least notes that Motrax was there to greet the First Expedition, which was the Empire's presumable first foray into the caves. It's not like they tossed in giant, magical, fire-breathing reptiles, waited a long time, and then thought to send in some adventurers to see what happened.

    i'll confess when you put it that way it sounds silly, but it's not hard to imagine a situation where the teleportation magic requires a valid target (i.e. not into solid rock, magma, a giant nephil smiley face, etc) and all they knew about it, before the first expedition confirmed where it actually was, was "straight down a few miles and far away". in that scenario we can assume they'd have thought they more or less sent the dragons to hell - maybe literally - but found to their displeasure that the dragons (perhaps along with other nasty things they gated away as part of the campaign to clean up the surface world of dangerous nonhumans) still lived somewhere it was possible to walk.



    I don't think that's true except maybe with quite a great emphasis on 'theoretically'. The mages aren't the only ones who talk about how critical their magic was not just for repelling hostiles but for allowing daily necessities to be available daily. And there are plenty of old people around who aren't affiliated with them or with Micah; surely someone would say "nahh we were fine, we just needed their help with the sliths and demons" if that were really the case.

    i mean, that is what the old-timers emphasize about micah and the mages! i'm not gonna go out on a limb and say no one from the early days credits the mages with exile being human-habitable, but nothing about the tower of magi or any of the other mages' abodes or bodies of work screams "agricultural engineering". (patrick, a little? maybe?) the closest any of them get to obvious magical research into apparently mundane things is erika, and i think if we can agree on nothing else it should be that if anyone's lying about their contribution to exile and getting away with it because they're powerful and deranged, it's probably her.


    the long and short of it for me has always been that the party is roughly as capable of surviving in the vahnatai lands, and in their unreclaimed outlands, as they are in exile. erika or the triad sure musta been prescient to fill the dark waters with luminous and edible fungi, eh?

  12. Normal crystals aren't even really valuable enough to justify cluttering inventory space - their value is comparable to candles and such, and iirc they don't stack.


    Piercing Crystals (Dispel Barrier), Shielding Crystals (invulnerability), and Mist Globes (one of 3 effects, not random but not visible to the player) are all usable, and look sorta like crystals, but I think have a different pre-ID name.


    Rough diamonds are mostly there to make you compulsively examine rocks; they sell for a lot, but E1/E2 doesn't have the same sort of clutter items and money is plentiful in E3.


    There's two different kinds of sapphire in E1, which sell for different values. One stacks and the other doesn't. I forget if they're both usable for Magic Map but I wanna say no.

  13. Last time, younger age correlated pretty noticeably with Geneforge appreciation, which surprised me.

    really? that seems perfectly reasonable to me. spiderweb's main audience (and to some degree, consciously, its target demo) is weird middle school kids. my intuition would be that people favor the best game from the engine and story ideation that was current when they entered that demographic, which would make geneforge's core fanbase slightly younger.


    i think nethergate and blades would be the main games to buck that trend, with the former being targeted at a slightly older audience (and being the only utterly sui generis thing in jv's catalogue so far) and the latter having way more content made by a lot of different people for a lot of different reasons

  14. It's only the faction following Rentar-Ihrno that releases the plagues upon the Empire. It's revenge for stealing the crystal souls.

    Stealing is putting it lightly. The crystal souls are their honored elders and living gods, and while they're capable of defending themselves from certain things, they're physically helpless without magic. The Empire kidnapped these people, imprisoned them in their own inert bodies, and experimented extensively on them; they're all seriously traumatized, one of them to the point of permanent disability.


    They do use the word "stealing" to refer to this, but it's genuinely something much, much worse. It's kidnapping, torture, and blasphemy. It's hard to exactly contextualize the magnitude of the crime in human terms, but it's easy to take away the impression that what was done was inexcusable and the only real debate is over who bears moral responsibility for it. Rentar just takes the position that everything in the Empire does, from Garzahd not just down to its lowliest citizen but down to the trees on its soil and the birds in its skies. Certainly that's a little extreme but it's not hard to understand where it comes from.

  15. Buying wine, ale, etc doesn't have any positive effect.

    it sometimes opens up dialogue, but i don't think it's ever necessary to use the dialogue if you have the keyword for it. tiresome little minmaxer i am, i've never really done it that much, but it's pretty easy to get 30,000 gold in E3 so i did it a lot in my last playthrough, and a few neat things show up dialogue-wise.

    plus if horrid old grognards have taught me anything, it's that if you're gonna roleplay magickal jocks you might as well get them drunk in high fantasy dive bars

  16. Linda wasn't part of the original set of exiled mages. Erika is the only one who is consistently mentioned in connection with altering the fungus for food, though there are conflicting statements as to whether the luminescent fungus was her doing, or that of the Vahnatai.

    i like to think that erika and the tower of magi mages all claim partial or total responsibility for exile being habitable because they're from a society where people with power casually rewrite history and get away with it. who can say what if anything the vahnatai did to contribute to that, but the balance of evidence points to the caves being theoretically habitable by humans before the first expedition. sliths have similar requirements to humans, after all, and they lived there for at least a little while by then.


    also, my memory of A1 is hazy and i've only played part of E1 but my memory from the later games is that a lot of the macrofauna of exile were introduced by the empire as part of the xenocide, which i've always assumed included the six (as of A1) remaining dragons. presumably there were other than humanitarian concerns in doing this - all there really needs to be for this to make sense is a ritual of (Mass) Teleport Other which competes favorably with spending a platoon of soldiers and and a half a dozen mages and priests trying to kill whatever it is outright.


    this sorta helps explain why there's overlap between valorim and avernum, between the vahnatai caves and upper avernum, and between avernum and upper avernum, but little between upper avernum and valorim and none between valorim and the vahnatai caves.


    so, basically, chitrachs and hydras would have been the largest animals in the original avernum ecosystem, along with a lot of animals occupying niches like birds and rats and so on. everything else should be assumed to have been introduced in the last century. that's what i think, anyway. dragons would just be the biggest and most impressive example of that.


    Australia was established as a colony first, and the use of convicts for labor was convenient. You'll note England didn't stop executing people for capital crimes! The Empire doesn't either; it's the incovenient in-betweeners who they don't want around but can't really justify killing who get sent down. But unlike Australia, Avernum isn't a colony. It gets no desirables, has no harbor, and any resources extracted can't be sent home.

    in point of fact, there were limitations on transportation (first to america, later to australia and always to a few other places) but it wasn't something like a capital crime / less-capital crime divide. it was a form of leniency which was commonly available for most of the many crimes that carried a death sentence, such as stealing a pound of silverware, murdering a man in cold blood, or being a homosexual. (which exile/avernum is pretty much unique in terms of "evil carceral empire" stuff i've encountered in, you know, acknowledging.) i'm no expert but the question of who gets transportation and who gets the rope seemed to be more procedural than ethical, in which respect avernum sorta-but-only-sorta mirrors real life.


    and to muddy the matter a little further, transportation was mostly a way of shipping unfree labor to free landowners and capitalists, wholly unlike the situation in avernum (altho the Abyss has a loose parallel in pirate republics and maroons and so on, kinda)

  17. I also think you're overstating the racism: sliths were among the few sent up to Upper Avernum and seem to do fine. They're respected, and even part of the highly secret Bunker. The fact that they don't appear in large numbers is probably more due to the fact that they're simply aren't very many sliths as part of the Kingdom of Avernum. But what evidence is there that the ones who are are treated as second-class citizens?

    i feel like we might have different ideas of "doing fine"! the sliths there complain about having no choice but to work under terrible environmental conditions as part of a political project that everyone involved has ambiguous or negative feelings about. the bad environment is exacerbated by the slith workers not being a priority for firewood (despite needing it way more than humans).


    on top of that, though, the sliths and humans seem to have two different ideas about what the sliths should be doing. the sliths use their traditional construction methods, and the humans (including some of the leadership of new formello) are angry and exasperated with their using time and materials on "useless" statues. (surely if the point of the shared construction is proving sliths and humans can live and work together, there's nothing "useless" about integrating slithzerikai traditions into building a settlement shared between humans and sliths -- but try telling the avernites in new formello that.)


    the sliths face disrespect and cruelty, and official neglect and hostility. them even being there is written as the gnass sliths, after decades of friendship between gnass and the avernum, still being treated as having a lot to "prove". even playing along with that, they're not given an opportunity to do so without having the rug pulled from under their feet.


    (and when unspecified services makes a secret weapon, the human mage lives and the slith blacksmith dies - coincidence, maybe, but still unfortunate.)


    in conclusion, we can debate "racism" per se (i didn't use the word!), but i think it being a raw deal they are dealt is hard to debate...


    The First Expedition couldn't turn conqueror because they expected no one to conquer. They weren't colonizers because the caves were not a fertile, welcoming land. If they'd found something amazing down there maybe they would have been followed by someone else, but just disappearing confirmed the Empire's opinion that this was a bad place and perfect for dumping bad people.

    the first expedition went to exile knowing that exile was habitable, and knowing they'd encounter demons plus whatever the empire had previously banished there. (the dragons come from the surface, remember.)

    that's a minimum case based on what the games talk about the empire knowing about pre-1E. i think it's rational to infer that, as slarty said, they were armed to the teeth for a reason. the apollo missions didn't carry guns. (one of the soviet programmes did. for hunting. really.)


    the first expedition was basically the empire invading hell. the guys who went along with that were exactly as cocky and doomed as that suggests, and i think everyone who lived in its shadow knew that.

  18. The Heretic/Hexen series was really weird. It started out as pretty much just a swords-and-sorcery-flavored Doom (and I loved Heretic, don't get me wrong, but that's all it really was) and evolved into some kind of weird mix of RPG and puzzle game. I liked Hexen aesthetically but it frustrated me to no end as a kid, and trying to play it as an adult it still does.

  19. there are a lot of things extremely wrong with me and i struggle to live by my own lights and resist a lifetime of abusive training to be normal and functional and existing in general on other people's terms. having control over my behavior and environment has been important to me and only partially possible under the best of circumstances. the best thing i've been able to do for myself has been to live with, make friends with, and love people like myself, not in spite of what we are but because of what we are; not in the hope of getting better but in the hope of being happy together, and safe together, and alive together.


    this hasn't really meant shunning diagnosis or treatment, just decentralizing them from how i live and not seeing myself or people like me, even people like me as i am at my worst, as broken, as lost, as incomplete - as in need of things outside of ourselves and one another.


    this and my similar/linked attitude towards trans stuff makes interacting with doctors... a little excruciating. a lot excruciating, to be honest. it's something i've managed to survive for a little while, though, and don't expect to stop surviving any time soon

  20. They're unwelcome in Avernum because the majority of the sliths start interacting with humans by massacring the First Expedition and continue in that vein until the death of Sss-Thsss. And then, well, the sliths of Gnass don't really have much to do besides collaborate with Avernum. Their numbers are tiny, they're still unwelcome in their homeland, and Avernum at least tries, sometimes, to give them a fair shot.


    —Alorael, who could try to draw interesting parallels between the Empire's age-old official policy of wiping out nephilim and the intermittent slithzerikai impulse towards wiping out all the humans. Maybe it was just murderousness that made them assault the First Expedition, but maybe they got a very accurate view of what the Empire would do and have a firm belief that it's better to do than to be done unto.

    iirc, unless the second trilogy retcons events pretty heavily this isn't really how things went with the first expedition - in motrax's approximate words, "they were arrogant and they were slaughtered".

    and that's someone who liked humans! the evidence is that they were imperious jerks and the expedition was a comedy of errors by smug magic conquistadores and not much in the line of earnest first contact gone tragically wrong.


    and really, counting that as a reason for "humans" not to trust "sliths" is a little silly. even the avernites seem to see the first expedition more as a stupid and doomed imperial project than to look back on them nostalgically as their predecessors. avernum history seems to date back from the first struggles between the newly-exiled tower of magi clique and the haakai. and sss-thsss's people are on the other side of that (even then there are sliths who aren't!), but that's something that ends with the events of avernum 1. ten years and a shared fight against a genocidal foreign invasion later, the people who were never part of that at all are still held collectively responsible. it's a little ugly, isn't it?

  21. out of all the first trilogy races i always feel like the sliths got the rawest deal. they're all allegedly descended from exiles from slith country; they're unwelcome in avernum from the get-go, and even as allies in the empire war they never exactly secure the friendship or loyalty of avernite humans.


    unlike the nephilim, who have as much business trying to go back to the surface as the humans, it's hard to even say whether the sliths would want part of valorim as a new home.


    unlike the olgai vahnatai, who have their own priorities and leadership, or the nephilim, who are apparently a leaderless internal colony (and to be fair, it seems like the avernum government treats assassinating independent-minded nephil leaders as a serious policy goal), the sliths have leaders who seem to be pretty willing to follow avernum anywhere, and it doesn't seem to do them any favors.


    in conclusion, i love the slithzerikai and i'm married to all of them

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