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The Empire Strikes Back


Goldengirl
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Imperial Inquiry  

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  1. 1. Shapers vs The Empire

  2. 2. Shapers vs The Pact

  3. 3. Empire vs The Pact

  4. 4. Shapers vs The Empire vs The Pact



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Absent-minded wondering, but it is a fun thought experiment. In each of Jeff's games, we've seen the nations at war. In a cross-series battle between Avadon and Geneforge and Avernum, who would win?

 

I've included a poll, but it's more of a jumping off point. There are too many political entities to list out in ten short questions, and far too much nuance (time period, leadership, geography, etc.) to cover in a poll at all. Are we thinking of the Empire under Garzahd or Dorikas? Do the Shapers have the newly researched creations from the war with the Rebels, or are they restricted to the classical ones? Is the Pact fighting in Linneaus or abroad?

 

I like to think of this beyond just martial prowess. Who is best at magic and magical research? Which economy is the most powerful? Who has the fairest laws? There are many comparatives possibilites, which only get more exciting when we start adding in the Kingdom of Avernum, the Vahnatai, the Rebels/Sucia, the Barzites, the Farlands...

 

I've decided to exclude Nethergate; the Roman Empire is too real to enjoy the speculatives here, I think.

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I would have to vote EMPIRE in each case where it's an option. The sheer size and military might (and corresponding economic resources needed to sustain that might) seem to dwarf anything the Shapers or the Pact could offer (especially once the Shapers misplace an entire continent ;) ). Besides talking about raw quantity, The Empire displays an ability to efficiently deploy resources into war that neither other empire has shown. And then there's magic. My impression is that the magical wonders and powerful spells of the Empire's mages easily outstrip those of the Shapers and the Pact. This is especially true if we go back before the Avernum remakes to when mages were allowed to summon more than two creatures ( ;) ). For the sake of the discussion, I'll specify the Garzahd-led Avernum 2-era Empire as the basis for my impression of the Empire. Garzahd's leadership is also critical; he comes across as much more effective than either Hanvar's Council or the Shaper Council.

 

The more interesting question is that of the Pact versus the Shapers. I'd guess that in a fight, a Shaper could defeat multiple Pact soldiers. And the Pact is governed by the not-terribly-decisive-or-efficient Hanvar's Council; at least most of the members of Shaper Council are powerful mages. But the Shapers are notoriously slow about recognizing and understanding threats, and regularly ineffective at neutralizing such threats. Whereas the Pact has Avadon. For all its deficiencies seen in the games, I can easily see Redbeard identifying the Shapers as an existential threat to the Pact and launching a highly effective campaign to assassinate Shapers before the Shapers finish deciding what do. Avadon's access to teleportation magic might be key to this campaign. By the end, the Shapers' empire might be essentially intact, but so many Shapers would be dead that it would end up breaking down. The remaining Shapers would be too few in number / too intimidated to seriously consider continuing to invade the Pact.

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Agreed about the Empire. Prazac seems more capable than the either other council, too, if only because she can act autonomously on her own. Redbeard has ingenuity that the Empire lacks, but it really does seem that the Empire's magic would be a decisive advantage, and from what we've seen of demons in Geneforge, the Empire's could certainly stand up to an army of Wingbolts and War Tralls.

 

I'm not convinced about Redbeard eliminating the Shapers, though. The Shaper Council is slow, but so is Hanvar's Council, and there is not much evidence that individual Shapers are quite that slow. The highest Shaper leaders also all display a paranoia regarding self-preservation that is not so far from Redbeard's. The fact is that much of Avadon's power is soft power that depends on the perception of everyone around it. I don't think they could handle an army of Glaahks, much less Wingbolts and War Tralls.

 

Also, thanks, Goldengirl. This has given me some inspiration...

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Totally agree that in the event of a full-scale Shaper assault on the Pact in general or Avadon in particular, the Shapers would win. If there's a way the Pact can come out ahead, the outcome would turn on Redbeard acting cunningly and decisively to weaken the Shapers.

 

Hmm...now I'm trying to think like Redbeard and figure out how to defeat the Shapers. Do you think there's any chance Redbeard would find a way to stir up rebellion among the serviles? I suspect actually fomenting enough unrest to substantially undermine the Shaper war effort would take far too long; the Pact would be defeated before such plots would make a difference. Perhaps a more fruitful path would involve sowing dissension among the Shapers? Finding a way to bribe some Shapers for aid, or manipulate others to withhold support for the war, or even seek to engineer some kind of Shaper civil war?

 

I still think assassination is the way to go (in terms of Redbeard's strategy). Think how many prominent Shapers (Lord Rahul? Councilors Taygen and Astoria and Alwan and Rawal?) the Geneforge PCs are able to assassinate. The PC does typically have some advantage in being a Shaper, but is also typically a relatively inexperienced figure with no special background in assassinations. If Redbeard has experienced, skilled assassins available, I think he would have a fair chance of at least knocking out a fair number of Shaper leaders. That leads to confusion and chaos, and the more confusion and chaos reign, the more opportunities for Avadon to manipulate the situation.

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Spoilers abound.

 

I already hinted at this, but the really interesting scenario to me is actually not listed in the poll - the Shapers versus the Vahnatai. Specifically, I'm thinking Rentar-Ihrno led Shapers.

 

The reason that it is so interesting to me is that, essentially, Rentar-Ihrno's plagues were acts of Shaping, in the broad sense - the magical creation of life. The Shades are a little more complicated, but even then it's not entirely beyond what the Shapers can do. So, with the Vahnatai, we have a relatively small group of highly powerful magicians, who wage war through magic. With the Shapers, we have a larger empire of less powerful magicians, who also primarily wage war through magic.

 

I classify Vahnatai magic as more powerful based on two things. First is quantity - the Vahnatai have a greater access to different kinds of magic, namely teleportation and portals, whereas the Shapers are one trick ponies, so to speak. Second is quality - I think the Vahnatai are better at creating life than are the Shapers, somewhat. In X3, we see Rentar conducting huge swathes of Shaping, essentially on her own. She has laid siege to a continent, although to be fair, she has done so with a huge amount of stealth and deception, and done so in a way that was entirely self-perpetuating. (I think this has interesting implications for a Shaper vs. Empire battle, which I might get into more later)

 

The Shapers, though, can actually control their creations, which doesn't really seem to be the case with the Vahnatai. To use a Geneforge metaphor, the Vahnatai are more like Shaper Monarch, in that they just create lots and lots of rogues without any real discipline. Shaper Monarch was hard for the Shapers to deal with, but not impossible.

 

The next question, I think, is whose creations are stronger. Giants and troglodytes are probably equivalent (and I think probably weaker) to war tralls. Golems are a weapon used by both sides, though moreso by the Vahnatai. That said, I think the Shaper golems are hardier. Alien beasts are probably the strongest creation, but kyshakks could probably hold their own against them. The Shades are difficult, but the Shapers aren't without magic that could hurt them. I think wingbolts would be especially pertinent, and they have the added advantage of flight. That could do a lot.

 

The Shapers, moreover, are just a bigger economy. They have Serviles and a huge amount of commoners to work on the logistics side of things. They have a huge military apparatus, with corps of foot soldiers, mages, and elite warriors. The Vahnatai go into hibernation every few years because they sap their ecosystem, and they can't overcome perpetual issues with chitrachs. While the games distort our vision, I think the general picture of the Shaper Empire is one that is mostly rogue free.

 

In conclusion, I think the Vahnatai are stronger person-to-person, but crucially speaking, not by much. I don't think that Rentar-Ihrno's plagues would overwhelm Terrestia the same way they did Valorim, as Shapers are really good at bunkering down and sending out their own swarms of creations. At the end of the day, the Shapers are pretty good at the Vahnatai's own game, and they have a massive economic and military apparatus besides. The Vahnatai would put up a good fight, but in the end, they would not be able to defeat the Shapers.

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I personally would agree, in that taking the chief leadership out of the equation the Vahnatai and the Shapers would likely be the most powerful empires and hardest to defeat. The former has sheer raw power and potential behind them, being the most powerful mages around (although physically they ARE somewhat frail... get some warriors in there and they could start crumbling.). The Shapers, on the other hand, have versatility on their side. Do remember, the Kyshaaks, Wingbolts, and War Tralls all came out of the Shaper Rebellions. If need be, the Shapers could likely, given a couple months, come up with creatures to counter most enemies they face. Not only that, this versatility gives them an edge as it forces enemies to be versatile to deal with constantly-shifting forces.

 

The Empire is powerful, yes, and I believe its constant campaigns of monster-exterminating would give it an edge in versatility, as they would be able to figure out how to kill Monsters relatively quickly. However, as shown in the Avernum campaign, the wrong location can put them on edge, giving them problems. That said, they're not unskilled, and would probably put up a fight.

 

The Pact.... I can't say anything about. I haven't played the Avadon games yet, beyond the demo for the first one.

 

I'd also like to toss Avernum and the Rebels into the mix. Avernum itself doesn't have as strong of an army as any of these other Empires, true, but instead focus their strength in smaller, guerilla tactics, alongside small bands of adventurers doing great damage. I think of it as the Empire is more of a large hammer while Avernum functions more like a finely-wielded scalpel. Other empires defeat with overwhelming force, while Avernum just knows right where to poke, while giving an occasional whittle here or there. In the right situation they could stand fast against a lot of enemies.

 

And finally the Rebels. Shaper rebels, that is. They have the power and versatility of the Shapers, and more due to their use of the Geneforge and general lack of restraint. In fact, they might be one of the most dangerous empires simply for that reason. For all the plagues that Rentar-Ihrno released onto the surface it was still just that: A plague of roaches, a plague of slimes, a plague of golems.... dozens of each of these creatures would decimate and destroy cities. But the Rebels? All they needed was to release a single Unbound, and the city's defenders would be hard-pressed to repel it. Two Unbound, and the City would likely almost fall, being lucky if they survived. Three, and loss of the city was almost a certainty. Granted, this generally meant that the Rebels would be unlikely to get that location BACK from anyone without significant force themselves, but on a general slash-and-burn campaign they were quite effective.

 

All in all it depends on several things. Who is on offense? Who is on defense? What is the landscape like? How deadly are the combatants willing to go?

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Since all three factions are extremely powerful in an organized fight, I suspect it comes down to how well one faction can exploit the divisions and tensions inside the others.

 

All three factions face internal resistance or strife. The Pact especially, since it's a frayed alliance of nations who would be at each other's throats if they weren't forced into cooperation by common enemies. The Shapers are pretty cruel toward their creations. The Empire (under Hawthorne/Garzahd), of course, has a whole penal colony full of enemies.

 

I suspect that once again The Empire Always Loses, because it's too rigid and paranoid to play that game. The Shapers and the Pact both employ small, highly independent groups that can work behind enemy lines; the Empire distrusts and exiles people like that. If they can stir up some resistance in remote areas, sow some conflicts, in the case of the Shapers maybe create a few monster plagues a la Rentar-Ihrno, then the Empire soon has a lot of fires to put out. Get some of the Empire's many enemies on board (eg. the dragons, the Vahnatai, Avernum) and it gets even worse. I don't think the Empire could be destroyed as a state, but it could probably be forced into some significant concessions.

 

Between the Pact and the Shapers, it looks somewhat fuzzier. I suspect that the Pact is more vulnerable - it's liable to disintegrate completely if the central authority (Avadon) was defeated and certain conflicts broke out at the same time.

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Perhaps a more fruitful path would involve sowing dissension among the Shapers? Finding a way to bribe some Shapers for aid, or manipulate others to withhold support for the war, or even seek to engineer some kind of Shaper civil war?

I doubt it. Most Shaper leaders are quite loyal when things are going well; it isn't until the war has been raging for a long time that we see the fractiousness of G4 and G5. Even getting to the point of G4 was only possible due to Rebel access to creations stronger than anything the Shapers had.

 

I still think assassination is the way to go (in terms of Redbeard's strategy). Think how many prominent Shapers (Lord Rahul? Councilors Taygen and Astoria and Alwan and Rawal?) the Geneforge PCs are able to assassinate. The PC does typically have some advantage in being a Shaper, but is also typically a relatively inexperienced figure with no special background in assassinations.

Strong disagree here, not least because PCs in other games are also able to assassinate the leader of the Empire and defeat the leader of Avadon -- multiple times, in both cases. PCs in general and their meteoric rises in power specifically are completely implausible unless we accept that they are truly exceptional people (or, in the case of G4 and G5, have secret background powers). And indeed, those were all "brute force" assassinations -- nothing involving a carefully sniped arrow to the heart at a vulnerable moment, or poisoned food, or anything like that. Maybe it's Redbeard's best option, but that doesn't make it a functional one.

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Fair points, Slarty. I think I must concede the Shapers have better odds against the Pact than I initially gave them credit for.

 

Goldengirl, I'll have to strongly disagree with your assessment of Vahnatai military potential. :D I think you've unfairly conflated "Rentar's strategy / capabilities" with "Vahnatai strategy / capabilities." Sure, Rentar has this thing with wars of attrition through magically engineered monster plagues. The Vahnatai as a whole have other potential that is worth considering, though. Most notably, the Vahnatai seem to be the greatest masters of long-distance teleportation seen in any of Jeff's worlds. Now what happens when you take a major Shaper stronghold, seal it off with magic barriers, and then teleport a Phoenix Egg inside. And wash, rinse, and repeat with as many such Shaper bases as necessary. Hey, you don't even need Phoenix Eggs - just seal off Shaper cities; even if they shape new food sources and don't starve, you completely cut off leaders and armies into convenient, bite-sized chunks. The Vahantai's magic leaves everyone else in the dust, as best I can tell, and I think that if the Olgai tribe as a whole were to go to war, they could devastate most anyone. They are awesomely powerful in A2, and that's with hardly any working infrastructure, only a small portion of their people even awake from hibernation, and off-balance from Empire's initial surprise attack. I'm pretty sure there's even a comment that Rentar is not the most powerful of all Vahnatai mages, but only happened to be the most powerful mage already awake. Who knows what they are truly capable of? I agree that Rentar's monster-plague approach is not the most effective strategy, but that by no means proves that Vahnatai would lose to the Shapers.

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In A2, one person comments that Rentar is the most powerful Ihrno currently awake, implying that she is not the strongest ever. However, nobody says that in A3 or A4; it seems likely that her power-grabbing spree changed things. And in A4, it's not clear if the limited resources Olgai sends to help deal with her are because they don't want to deal with her, or because they aren't strong enough to.

 

The Vahnatai certainly have some unique mastery of magic, including telepathy, and the creation and transformation of living things. I'm not sure about the long-distance teleportation, though. They can clearly do it under the right circumstances, but they do it very rarely, which leads me to believe that either those circumstances are very particular, it takes an incredible amount of power to make happen, or both. And while hey-here's-a-Phoenix-Egg might work once or twice, I think any of the powers on the list would adapt and come up with some kind of a defense.

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There's a relevant case study: the Great Portal. In X3, it's stated that Avernum's portal was developed using Vahnatai technology; what that implies to me is that the portal is basically the height of Vahnatai teleportation magic. That said, it is an impressive portal. It seems that it can teleport anywhere. But it's an expensive and expansive project.

 

We know that it requires huge amounts of power. Giant crystal spires that have to be absolutely perfect, or the whole thing will explode. All of the air around the Portal Fortress is electrified. We also know that it requires a high degree of technical mastery, with any slip up potentially ripping the user into bits. Lastly, we know that there's only so much work it can do, even as massive as it is, and as such it needs a "cool off" period.

 

So, as a military tool, I think teleportation isn't a trump card.

 

As for phoenix eggs, it's my impression that there aren't really a lot of them. They may be hard to produce or aren't created very often due to a risk of catastrophic malfunction. The only one I can remember was the one that destroyed the roach factory in X3. That said, I haven't played through all the games. Even then, though, I don't think it's unreasonable for the Shapers to be able to adapt to them; they're used to working with highly dangerous magical conditions as well, in basically all of their labs. I even think that charged creations would probably thrive under those conditions.

 

Even then, though, my point was never that the Shapers are better magicians than the Vahnatai (though I do think that the Shapers are better at their specialized brand of magic). I think that the Shapers are good enough at magic that they can drown the Vahnatai in numbers. Crystal souls, teleportation, necromancy, and the like may be able to put up a good fight, but the Shaper Empire is logistically superior and individual Shapers are a massive threat all in their own. "Each Shaper is an army" makes the threat of infiltrators quite dangerous. And unlike Rentar's plagues, it doesn't take nearly as much time and infrastructure to start Shaping creations.

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I think you have to take in mind the size of these conglomerates. The Empire, if from what I recall, was spread over four continents (I"m not sure if that was verified in game or not) and you only see HALF of Valorium which was supposedly the least settled of the continents (Again, I'm not sure I'm mixing fan lore and game lore or not so feel free to correct me). The Shapers have one continent (in game, somewhere in the saga, it mentions there are two continents but Jeff retconned it out of existence in some thread). The Pact is also only one continent as far as I know, and only most of it, not all. That gives the Empire a huge advantage in manpower.

 

As far as Rentar's shaping vs the Shaper's shaping I don't think you give the Shapers enough credit. They COULD'VE made plagues like Rentar did, but they didn't because it would be insane to let dangerous plagues loose in their own land. You see plenty of plague like spawners in the series, like Monarch and the Creator from G3, that could easily match up to Rentar's stuff in done on a larger scale. Rentar had no reason to hold back the viciousness of her plagues because they took place in the Empire's land, not hers.

 

I wonder how you presume these entities will meet. I'm assuming that the Empire discovers the Shapers' continent a hundred miles off the coast of Valorium, but it could also be that the two are thousands of miles apart divided by the sea. That would drastically increase the length of the war (portals are a horrible way to wage war as we've all seen) and give the Shapers a huge leg up because the Shapers are the most adaptable and inventive of anyone and that even with their strict rules governing their powers. We see them invent new creations and spells in a short time to match the threat they face but we haven't seen that with the Empire or the Pact.

 

I personally think the Empire would win, but given a long war, the Shapers could stand a chance.

 

Oh, and Empire VS Shapers crossover game? Jeff make it happen!!! (Sorry Avadon fans.)

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Magic seems to ben far more powerful in the Avernum world than it is in the Shaper World (granted I have yet to play 4 or 5)

 

I wonder how you presume these entities will meet. I'm assuming that the Empire discovers the Shapers' continent a hundred miles off the coast of Valorium, but it could also be that the two are thousands of miles apart divided by the sea.

They're not on the same planet. A3, at least from what I played in the demo, made it pretty clear that the empire owns the entire planet-- not just a single continent, but the entire world. Valorim, the continent that A3 takes place on, is considered a "frontier" continent, and sparsely populated compared to the rest of the world.

 

Compare this to the Shaper world- where there are many continents that are not within Shaper control, including the Sholai lands. Terrestria and Sholai would have to be pretty large-sized continents, probably around the size of Valorim. There just aren't enough unexplored places on the surface for the Geneforge world to exist there.

 

So this would mean that they are two different worlds (note that easter eggs in the games do not count as proof that they're on the same world)

My impression is that, like the Ultima series, magic does not work the same way on different worlds. So who wins depends on which world they're on.

Shapers would have zero chance on the Empire planet, because it doesn't look like shaping works there, and summoning is a crappy alternative. They could still magically engineer creatures like they do in Avernum, but they wouldn't be able to create or bombard creatures with essence.

 

OTOH, on the Geneforge world, teleportation magic is very dangerous and ineffectual (unless you use a bunch of canisters, you can only travel short distances *e.g. Agatha* and if you're not careful, you'll kill yourself) Portals simply do not exist in the Geneforge world-- if it did, then we would see weaksauce ones pop up naturally like they do in the Empire/Avernum world.

 

The Empire still has a shot on the Geneforge world, even though they would not be able to transport large numbers of soldiers at once.

 

Also, it seems like magic itself isn't as powerful in the Geneforge world (again, still haven't played the last two games yet) It seems like what takes a huge amount of resources/energy in Geneforge takes far less to get the same result in the Avernum world. I can't picture something like The Spiral being possible, nor can I imagine something like the event at the Tower of Magi that supposedly could have blown up the entire underworld.

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And while hey-here's-a-Phoenix-Egg might work once or twice, I think any of the powers on the list would adapt and come up with some kind of a defense.

 

How would they know what had hit them, though? People would just walk to a fort and discover everything has been destroyed by fire. Wouldn't be immediately obvious what had happened.

 

Personally, I think teleportation is a game winner, but not as a weapon. It eliminates the need for supply trains, and allows you to attack wherever you want whenever you want. Point at a map and choose where you want the front line to be, and you have all the logistics you need. Bypass enemy fortresses, don't bother with roads, and have all your forces in place before the enemy knows they are under attack. Sure, once you spread out the old fashioned way from where your teleported you run into the old problems, but you've got a serious headstart that way.

 

As an aside, in E3, as well as the big teleporter to Upper Exile, there was that wizard near Fort Emergence that could teleport you to the main cities, and in Sharimik, a bunch of troglodyte commandos teleport in and attack a supply room, IIRC. Not to mention the Cult of the Sacred Item.

 

While we are onto Vahnatai shaping, can't they do it anonymously again? Don't declare war, just have a convenient monster plague attack your enemies? For that matter, Erika was a suspect for that, could she have actually done it?

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Magic seems to ben far more powerful in the Avernum world than it is in the Shaper World (granted I have yet to play 4 or 5)

 

I wonder how you presume these entities will meet. I'm assuming that the Empire discovers the Shapers' continent a hundred miles off the coast of Valorium, but it could also be that the two are thousands of miles apart divided by the sea.

They're not on the same planet. A3, at least from what I played in the demo, made it pretty clear that the empire owns the entire planet-- not just a single continent, but the entire world. Valorim, the continent that A3 takes place on, is considered a "frontier" continent, and sparsely populated compared to the rest of the world.

 

Compare this to the Shaper world- where there are many continents that are not within Shaper control, including the Sholai lands. Terrestria and Sholai would have to be pretty large-sized continents, probably around the size of Valorim. There just aren't enough unexplored places on the surface for the Geneforge world to exist there.

 

So this would mean that they are two different worlds (note that easter eggs in the games do not count as proof that they're on the same world)

My impression is that, like the Ultima series, magic does not work the same way on different worlds. So who wins depends on which world they're on.

Shapers would have zero chance on the Empire planet, because it doesn't look like shaping works there, and summoning is a crappy alternative. They could still magically engineer creatures like they do in Avernum, but they wouldn't be able to create or bombard creatures with essence.

 

OTOH, on the Geneforge world, teleportation magic is very dangerous and ineffectual (unless you use a bunch of canisters, you can only travel short distances *e.g. Agatha* and if you're not careful, you'll kill yourself) Portals simply do not exist in the Geneforge world-- if it did, then we would see weaksauce ones pop up naturally like they do in the Empire/Avernum world.

 

The Empire still has a shot on the Geneforge world, even though they would not be able to transport large numbers of soldiers at once.

 

Also, it seems like magic itself isn't as powerful in the Geneforge world (again, still haven't played the last two games yet) It seems like what takes a huge amount of resources/energy in Geneforge takes far less to get the same result in the Avernum world. I can't picture something like The Spiral being possible, nor can I imagine something like the event at the Tower of Magi that supposedly could have blown up the entire underworld.

 

I don't think they're on the same world. Obviously they are not. But for the purpose of our discussion we have to know the logistics. An overseas war is the most easy way to imagine a clash between the two. A somewhat more realistic option would be a portal between both worlds but then the portal itself becomes a huge variable. How big is it? Does it need a cooldown period? Is it random or can it be set to certain places? Everything could hinge on how the portal works and less on the respective countries.

 

Shaping has to do with person not the world. I can't see why it wouldn't work in the empire, unless your saying that they would change pysicaly on a different world.

And Maybe both of them can do the same magic but their methods of learning magic are different so they have different spells. That's why the Empire has teleportation and the Shapers have shaping. Nowhere does it say they can't teleport. Maybe they simply don't know how.

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How would they know what had hit them, though? People would just walk to a fort and discover everything has been destroyed by fire. Wouldn't be immediately obvious what had happened.

 

Quickfire is pretty obviously not normal fire to anyone watching it burn and expand rapidly. At the same time, given a fort full of people, I have a hard time believing that at least one person wouldn't manage to escape. And then tell others what happened. The in-game evidence is that Quickfire expands at about the same speed that people move, not faster.

 

Personally, I think teleportation is a game winner, but not as a weapon. It eliminates the need for supply trains, and allows you to attack wherever you want whenever you want. Point at a map and choose where you want the front line to be, and you have all the logistics you need. Bypass enemy fortresses, don't bother with roads, and have all your forces in place before the enemy knows they are under attack. Sure, once you spread out the old fashioned way from where your teleported you run into the old problems, but you've got a serious headstart that way.

Teleportation isn't free. It takes immense energy and magical exertion. The only examples we've actually seen of anything being teleported in large numbers have involved (1) truly immense expenses, (2) laboriously constructed, fixed teleportation apparatuses at both the entry and exit points, and (3) fragile apparatuses that are easy to damage, and can cause catastrophic damage if they do. It's not even remotely as simple and flexible as it is painted above.

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Shapers vs the Empire

 

To begin with, I'd like to detail the strengths and weaknesses of each.

 

The Empire has a huge advantage in terms of size. They control four continents to the Shaper's one. They have a massive military apparatus that is functionally endless, with high quality soldiers like dervishes and sharpshooters backing up the foot soldiers and guards. Their logistical machine is startling - a huge economy based on moving things from continent to continent, giving the Empire huge budgets while also providing them with lots of raw materials. Soldier-to-soldier, they could dwarf any political entity, and in regards to their actual soldiers training, a dervish would probably only be matched by a Guardian (or Hand from Avadon).

 

The Shapers, on the other hand, are strong magicians. The Empire censors magic harshly and build their military might more on traditional combat and strategy. The Shapers military is the opposite - primarily magical, with regular soldiers backing it up. Of course, the Empire has a few archmages like Garzahd around, but the Shapers have a far strong magical economy. And these magicians are strong, with magic-less Rebel soldiers consistently being defeated in battles with Shapers. Moreover, their logistics are basically built around supporting this magic. While there is a tight rein on Shaping, general magical studies are more liberalized, with people being more or less free to pursue training in basic spells and alchemy.

 

I also think, personally, that the Imperial Navy is not very strong. While the Shapers have no strong navy to speak of either, they did for a time control the seas of Terrestia during the Rebellion. We know from the beginning of Geneforge that drayk boats can wreak havoc on regular ships, and we also know that wingbolts can travel over sea to harass shipping lanes. I wouldn't put it past the Shapers to develop more marine creations if need be.

 

So how do these forces stack up? The closest case study is Rentar's plagues on Valorim. I've already explained why I believe that the Shapers are far better at Shaping than the Vahnatai. So, what did we see when Valorim was basically covered in rogues? Footracer Province was left in ruins, the Imperial Army was brought to its knees, and the entire continent was quarantined. Cities and towns started to be eaten up by creatures as simple as slimes, just because they came in unrelenting waves.

 

Now, obviously, the Shapers wouldn't do it that same way. Rogues are forbidden. However, that doesn't mean a similar situation can't erupt. I have two scenarios. First, the Shapers establish a few heavily fortified positions, akin to the Line, Rivergate Keep, or Stormhold. With the use of scrying crystals, the Shapers could then have constant creation patrols of the surrounding forty miles (based off of a conversation in Stormhold). Without scrying crystals, it would be harder, but still possible. Second, the Shapers send in infiltrators, such as we saw in Burwood Province in G4, to wreak havoc as mobile Shaper armies, under the idea that a single Shaper is an army. Either way, the Shapers could cause massive logistical interruptions, which would mitigate a lot of the sheer size of the Empire.

 

Getting to this scenario is the hard part. The Shapers would be hard pressed to take over a fort, and a lot of people would die in the assault. A surprise attack would, of course, mitigate this, but that can't be how it happens every single time. That said, once the Shapers do have a position, they are basically impregnable. The Line in G5, the Barrier Zone in G4, Turabi Gate, the Western Morass, the passes into the Nodye Coast and Lethia Province... all demonstrate that the Shapers are extremely good at occupying territory.

 

So, in my final evaluation, I think that the nations are at a stalemate. Terrestia would be nigh impossible for the Empire to conquer, due to the Shapers abilities to just create more and more creations to fight back against a logistically burdened Imperial Army. The Empire, similarly, is going to be hard to fight. The Shapers could harass shipping lanes and disrupt logistical flows, they could even maybe capture footholds of territory, but they would be too stretched thin to launch a sustained invasion. After all, there are only so many Shapers, and without Shapers occupying territory the Empire would likely be able to quickly recapture land held if it was only occupied by regular Terrestia soldiers; I still believe that the regular soldiers of the Empire are stronger and more well-trained than the regular soldiers of the Shapers.

 

So the Shapers manage to hold onto territory, perhaps the Isle of Bigail or some other "frontier" territory in Valorim or Vantanas. Alternatively, the Empire manages to get a foothold on Terrestia through sheer size of army, before being stuck at one of the many natural bottlenecks in the Shaper Empire. I think, in the end, the Shapers would be better able to defend Terrestia and harass the Empire than would be the opposite. While not being an existential threat, they could take advantage of any potential overstretch and force a concession, most likely after years and years of attrition.

 

Tentatively, then, I'll say that the Shapers have a slight edge over the Empire.

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The Shapers don't have an edge over the empire at all. You are forgetting one very important fact: sheer numbers. The Empire has an entire planet under its control, with Valorim, more heavily populated than Terrestria, being considered "frontier" and "sparsely populated"

The Shapers only control a large continent and some islands. This means that the Empire has an entire PLANET worth of resources and conscripts. The only advantages the Shapers hold over the Empire is their creations, healing/essence pools, and a Shaper-Sholai alliance-created domination of the seas-- whiuch admittedly are pretty huge advantages. However, only a minority of elite shapers can control their creations over a mile or more. This is less of a problem during an invasion of Valorim, but in Terrestria they simply can't risk losing control of their creations. The Empire's advantages are heaps more resources, an exponentially larger population than Terrestria and Sholai COMBINED, and more elite specimens/generals/etc. as opposed to the Shapers who tend to have few people with outstanding qualities, and even then they don't stack up to the Empire's elites. So the Empire has elite scouts, generals, and mages, while the Shapers are much more cohesive and take greater advantage of strength in numbers. Magical items are also stronger on the Empire/Avernum world than in the Geneforge one-- You don't hear about elite warriors/rebels/shapers with a magical sword that makes them exponentially more deadly than they already were. Nor is there anything in the Geneforge world that compares to the Demonslayer (note that I am talking EXCLUSIVELY story/plot-wise, and not game mechanics wise) Granted, the Shapers have elite creation specimens, but they still don't compare to the Empire's elites and magical artifacts.

Also, regarding the limitations on magic, my understanding was that Solberg, Erika, etc. were already archmage-level powerful before they were banished.

 

 

So how do these forces stack up? The closest case study is Rentar's plagues on Valorim. I've already explained why I believe that the Shapers are far better at Shaping than the Vahnatai. So, what did we see when Valorim was basically covered in rogues? Footracer Province was left in ruins, the Imperial Army was brought to its knees, and the entire continent was quarantined. Cities and towns started to be eaten up by creatures as simple as slimes, just because they came in unrelenting waves.

Not a good example. Valorim is frontier land. Had the plagues occurred in the settled continents, they would not have gotten far. Sure, they might be pretty devastating, but in more of an economic depression + social unrest level rather than apocalyptic-- empire dervishes are plentiful, and a much more populated continent means fewer places to hide the factories (which will also be discovered much sooner)

 

And Maybe both of them can do the same magic but their methods of learning magic are different so they have different spells. That's why the Empire has teleportation and the Shapers have shaping. Nowhere does it say they can't teleport. Maybe they simply don't know how.

We learn in the Avernums that portals can sometimes occur naturally in high-energy areas. The lack of such things in the Geneforge world suggests that it is simply impossible there.

 

Nowhere does it say they can't teleport. Maybe they simply don't know how.

When you fight Khyryk in G3, we are told about how dangerous and limited teleportation magic is-- the text, as I recall, specifically stated that he would still be in the tower somewhere.

Also, if you kill him, after dealing the death blow, a text comes up which states that he tries to teleport again, but wasn't careful enough or his injuries were too severe for proper concentration, and his body was basically torn apart or something to that effect.

 

Agatha's teleportation doesn't count since she used so many canisters.

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Quickfire is pretty obviously not normal fire to anyone watching it burn and expand rapidly. At the same time, given a fort full of people, I have a hard time believing that at least one person wouldn't manage to escape. And then tell others what happened. The in-game evidence is that Quickfire expands at about the same speed that people move, not faster.

 

True, but sealing everything in with magic barriers was specified.

 

Teleportation isn't free. It takes immense energy and magical exertion. The only examples we've actually seen of anything being teleported in large numbers have involved (1) truly immense expenses, (2) laboriously constructed, fixed teleportation apparatuses at both the entry and exit points, and (3) fragile apparatuses that are easy to damage, and can cause catastrophic damage if they do. It's not even remotely as simple and flexible as it is painted above.

 

Sure, only, transporting an entire army, plus supply trains across entire continents isn't simple either. As an aside, presumably Rentar Ilhrno teleported all the stuff to make the monster plagues up to the surface.

 

I'm not thinking of suddenly deciding to throw an army at people, rather, if Fort Emergence or the Slime Pit were the beachhead for an invastion. It'd take massive amounts of preparation, sure, but could be done, and be very useful.

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Don't forget about Averforge!

Oh my God, this whole thread is talking about Averforge! Think about it! Empire versus Shapers? It's perfect!

 

Though if time-wise it takes place after all the games are done chances are the Empire would win simply because the Shapers would be coming down from a devastating war of their own...

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True, but sealing everything in with magic barriers was specified.

In which case it's also a much harder task. Magical barriers are not effortless to create, not even for the Vahnatai; and this task would require creating barriers over a very large space, in a short period of time, with rather greater precision than the Avernum barriers required. Furthermore, not all magical barriers can survive Quickfire, as we know from the original Crystal Souls, so economizing on barrier strength might not be an option.

 

Also, you're assuming that there are no mages in the fort with the ability to dispel barriers. That's certainly possible, but probably not a given.

 

I'm not thinking of suddenly deciding to throw an army at people, rather, if Fort Emergence or the Slime Pit were the beachhead for an invastion. It'd take massive amounts of preparation, sure, but could be done, and be very useful.

Years of preparation, yes. If you're talking about a conflict where one side and only one side has years to prepare offenses before the other side even knows they're being attacked, then yes, sure, that could be done. But the Empire can do the same thing. Don't doubt that -- they are the only nation in this thread that actually has constructed a functioning mass teleporter.

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And Maybe both of them can do the same magic but their methods of learning magic are different so they have different spells. That's why the Empire has teleportation and the Shapers have shaping. Nowhere does it say they can't teleport. Maybe they simply don't know how.

We learn in the Avernums that portals can sometimes occur naturally in high-energy areas. The lack of such things in the Geneforge world suggests that it is simply impossible there.

 

Nowhere does it say they can't teleport. Maybe they simply don't know how.

When you fight Khyryk in G3, we are told about how dangerous and limited teleportation magic is-- the text, as I recall, specifically stated that he would still be in the tower somewhere.

Also, if you kill him, after dealing the death blow, a text comes up which states that he tries to teleport again, but wasn't careful enough or his injuries were too severe for proper concentration, and his body was basically torn apart or something to that effect.

 

Agatha's teleportation doesn't count since she used so many canisters.

 

I agree with your first point but I disagree with the second. Khyrrk and especially Agatha prove my point rather than disprove it. As long as we see that it's possible to teleport there's no reason we can't assume that the Empire is simply more advanced in that area.

 

And Slarty? It seems implied from E/A2 that the Empire can't build an Mass Teleporter without it being extremely unstable and potentially dooming the universe in a case of complete failure. I'm not the Empire wants to go make another one of those again especially without a onyx scepter in hand. Could be a MAD (mutually assured destruction) option I guess.

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Absolutely. But there's nothing to imply or suggest that anyone else, even Egli, can build one that can teleport large quantities of things at a non-snail pace, without being unstable and unsafe. In other words, I don't think this is a capability anyone has, but to the degree that it is, there's no evidence the Vahnatai can do it any better than the Empire can.

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The Shapers don't have an edge over the empire at all. You are forgetting one very important fact: sheer numbers. The Empire has an entire planet under its control, with Valorim, more heavily populated than Terrestria, being considered "frontier" and "sparsely populated"

The Shapers only control a large continent and some islands. This means that the Empire has an entire PLANET worth of resources and conscripts.

 

Conscripts don't tend to make good soldiers. More importantly, though, you missed a huge point I developed; the Shapers style of warfare would be ideal to disrupt the logistical lines of the Empire. And with four continents worth of resources to juggle, there's a lot of places where disruption can happen. A single infiltrator can turn a secure territory into a war zone overnight, and while this may just amount to a nuisance rather than a serious security concern, it could very well prevent the full strength of the Empire coming to bear.

 

Rebels vs Rebels (Avernum vs Sucia)

 

What strengths does Avernum have? First of all, they are highly magical; more so, I would argue, than the Empire. They're a lot more lax and liberal about who can conduct magic, and the Tower is outside of the direct control of the government. Next, they have a high degree of adventurers. I know that this is true of every game in every series, but I think Avernum's wild frontier and harsh conditions create a system that cultivates adventurers more than anyone else. They have a highly developed technical expertise with portals and teleportation, with the Great Portal being a vital piece of infrastructure. They also definitely have the home turf advantage in the caves, which none of the other powers (besides the Vahnatai) can really come close to. And lastly, though I think this is sporadic and unreliable, they tend to have a great proclivity for finding allies - the Vahnatai, the Slithzerikai, the Dragons, etc. They don't have the best equipment (besides a few notable legendary items) nor the best economy (besides crystals), but they are self-sufficient and still have strong industry and agriculture.

 

What strengths does Sucia have? First, it's important not to understate how powerful the Drakons are. They are physically gargantuan and magically talented. Moreover, Sucia is a highly magical nation itself, with a similarly liberal and lax attitude towards who can learn and use magic, including Shaping. And, an important element we learned during the Rebellion, they are willing to go to extremes to win, with a disregard for (enemy) civilian life. They make extensive use of scorched earth tactics. This is their greatest advantage, which carried them through the Rebellion. Of course, they are prone to madness (from Geneforges, from canisters, from Servile cultist magic), which makes them more insular than the fairly nationalist Avernites. The economy of Sucia is a mystery, since we only ever see the battle lines, but I assume it mirrors the pre-war economy - gathering magical herbs, mining crystals and ores, growing food, the like.

 

How does the conflict take place? I think it is pretty unrealistic to imagine Avernum invading anyone; there is not a huge expansionistic drive. So, I presume that Sucia would be invading Avernum, for whatever reason. This negates one of Sucia's big advantages in the Rebellion, namely their "fight-to-the-death" attitude, since Sucia would in all likelihood be just fine even if they lost the war. It also places Avernum in a strong position of having extensive cave lore in general, and specific knowledge of their own caves. It's an uphill battle for Sucia.

 

That said, given the long history of monsters in Avernum, I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that the Sucia rebels would be able to establish some sort of stronghold. Dungeons and fortresses conveniently crop up all the time in each Avernum game, from Rentar's Basalt Fortress and Dorikas' hidden castle to Sss-Thsss occupying the central islands. So, we get some sort of Drakon fort ending in -Uss, which is relatively impregnable, and from which the Sucia invaders can conduct experiments. I say that this fort is impregnable because Shaping is ideal for trench warfare, holding land and not giving it up. We can also assume that Sucia is sending some infiltrators or something to mess with the Avernites, creating hordes of rogues before moving on to the next spot.

 

The Avernite response is capable, however. There are a lot of monster hunters in Avernum who are willing to claim bounties for glaahk hides. The infiltrators are also at a disadvantage, since they're operating in caves. Perhaps they get lost for a while. Perhaps they stumble into an ambush. Who knows. I don't think it's unreasonable to assume, though, that these Lifecrafters could be found and killed a lot easier than if they were hiding in the forests of Terrestia. In the same vein of logic, I don't think that any sort of Unbound would be nearly as effective for similar reasons.

 

The tie breaker, then, is in who can figure out the necessary magical tools first. Avernum's major weakness, which we say in A6, is its incredibly delicate ecosystem. I would not at all be surprised if Drakon researchers were able to exploit this fact, being masters of the magic of life. A blight that destroys the mushroom crops and starves out the Avernites. A virus which kills the glowing fungus and plunges Avernum into darkness. Avernum's most capable response, though, is its own magical specialty, teleportation. We aren't talking cross-continental stuff here, we're talking about a portal that plops a team of skilled adventurers into the middle of a Drakon fortress to sabotage, assassinate, and just generally wreak havoc, before being withdrawn or killed. With the right timing, major Lifecrafters and Drakons could be killed without alerting the whole fortress, thus effectively cutting off the head of the Sucia expedition. It's just a matter of which happens first, which I definitely think is going to be contingent on how successful the Lifecrafters are at creating hordes of rogues and spawners.

 

A wild card is how the other nations of the underworld react. Do the Vahnatai lash out against the Sucia task force, since Shaping is too close to their own expertise? Do the Drakons and Slithzerikai form a reptilian alliance? Do mages defect, fascinated by the power of Shaping? Do Lifecrafters see in the Avernites a similar plight to their own and thus switch sides themselves?

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More importantly, though, you missed a huge point I developed; the Shapers style of warfare would be ideal to disrupt the logistical lines of the Empire. And with four continents worth of resources to juggle, there's a lot of places where disruption can happen. A single infiltrator can turn a secure territory into a war zone overnight, and while this may just amount to a nuisance rather than a serious security concern, it could very well prevent the full strength of the Empire coming to bear.

 

You're forgetting something that I mentioned before-- infiltration is more difficult in Empire lands (save Valorim) than Shaper. The Empire is heavily populated-- sure this gives the advantage of being able to more easily blend in, but the disadvantage is that there are fewer places to hide, and if the Empire did a military sweep of any and all buildings and hiding places...

 

What strengths does Avernum have? First of all, they are highly magical; more so, I would argue, than the Empire. They're a lot more lax and liberal about who can conduct magic, and the Tower is outside of the direct control of the government.

 

I already went over the Avernum advantages over the Empire, but the unfamiliarity with foreign environment is a disadvantage shared by both sides-- the Avernites are not familiar with the surface, and unlike the Empire in Avernum (there are plenty of more recent exiles in A2 for dark-skinned Avernites), Avernites, excepting those aforementioned recent exiles (which are limited in number thus there are few adventurers to choose from), cannot blend in with Empire citizens. Also, their population is small compared to any on the surface. They cannot produce a standing army with large numbers.

The best they can do is rely on subterfuge and assassination. I could be wrong, but I don't think that assassination alone is as devastating to the Shapers as it is to the Empire OR The Pact, as the Shapers are the most cohesive unit of the three.

 

I think this is sporadic and unreliable, they tend to have a great proclivity for finding allies - the Vahnatai, the Slithzerikai, the Dragons, etc. They don't have the best equipment (besides a few notable legendary items) nor the best economy (besides crystals), but they are self-sufficient and still have strong industry and agriculture.

 

Yeah, which I covered above. A huge advantage over the Empire AND Shapers, and a key reason why they won the war. Whereas the Empire and Shapers cannot accomplish this due to their arrogance and rigidness (also, the Empire likes to genocide any non-human sapients)

 

 

How does the conflict take place? I think it is pretty unrealistic to imagine Avernum invading anyone; there is not a huge expansionistic drive.

 

Now, your Sucia comparison I think is a good one-- the Avernites are not large in number and thus could not produce a large standing army compared to any Empire.

 

So, I presume that Sucia would be invading Avernum, for whatever reason.

 

Sucia wouldn't stand a chance. They would only make large gains short-term. They would establish a stronghold, but only because the Avernites wouldn't realize what was happening and would be unfamiliar with Drakons and Serviles. Such a stronghold would be short-lived, however. Once the Avernites realized what was happening and mounted a response, the Sucians would be quickly wiped out. Remember what I said above about The Empire. For all their power and superior numbers, look at how impotent they were in the invasion.

They did a comparitively poor job at sweeping through Avernum. This is solely because of the unfamiliar territory. Sucia's limited numbers would put them at a far greater disadvantage.

 

Conscripts don't tend to make good soldiers.

 

Wasn't detrimental to the Imperial invasion in A2-- and were it not for the dark, alien environment, the Empire would have swept through Avernum like a wildfire. The Empire's superior numbers cannot be emphasized enough. Not only is The Empire (save Valorim) far more densely populated than Terrestria and Avadon, but they also span an entire plant-- remember in A3, we are told that the Empire spans the entire surface world.

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It can go onto the To Do List with Avernum 7, Avernum Prequel, and Geneforge 6. Maybe "Blades of Avadon" or "Hands of Avadon."

No way, man. First off, Geneforge 5, despite the incomplete endings/open questions-- from what I understand, is rather complete, as is Avernum 6. An Avernum prequel would admittedly be pretty sweet, although I'm not sure how that would work as the first explorers would have a problem with finding towns and outposts. An Avernum 2 prequel would be awesome, though (you play as the folks who assassinated Hawthorne or Redmark or whichever the A1 dictator's name was) It would be resource and programming-intensive however as the Empire world is heavily populated. It would also be a bit bland-- the vast majority of enemies would be human and animal, with the third most common dungeon enemies being undead. Though definitely a key point would be enlisting help/making alliances with the small hidden pockets of remaining Nephil, goblins, drakes, etc. (they couldn't possibly have all snuck out from Fort Emergence in A3, right? But then again it's been a few months since I played the demo.)

 

Now, if we're talking about a pre-A1 Avernum game-- I just can't see how that would work. Mainly because the Vahnatai haven't been discovered yet, the majority of Slith are in The Horde, and there wouldn't be any towns or shops beyond the starting outpost-- and no spirals to and from said outpost.

 

Why wouldn't a Sholai series be at all likely, though, for the next game series? The Sholai are outsider mages, they would have a different magic system than the Shapers (though still following the same rules of that world regarding teleportation and strength/scope of its power) In addition, they are sea explorers, so we'd get to see a more ocean-based adventure series, and the shapers as a minor/cameo plot point. An ocean-based SS series! That would be awesome! It would make the series unique and stand out above the other three series.

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In which case it's also a much harder task. Magical barriers are not effortless to create, not even for the Vahnatai; and this task would require creating barriers over a very large space, in a short period of time, with rather greater precision than the Avernum barriers required. Furthermore, not all magical barriers can survive Quickfire, as we know from the original Crystal Souls, so economizing on barrier strength might not be an option.

 

Also, you're assuming that there are no mages in the fort with the ability to dispel barriers. That's certainly possible, but probably not a given.

 

Fair enough...I wasn't saying I necessarily thought this would be a good approach, just that the method as given by the poster seemed to leave no witnesses.

 

As an aside, what defences can you have against Quickfire, and how easily could they be implemented? Because you'd need to put them everywhere to stop this method of attack, which might cost you more resources than the actual attack does, assuming the enemy to be capable of this.

 

Years of preparation, yes. If you're talking about a conflict where one side and only one side has years to prepare offenses before the other side even knows they're being attacked, then yes, sure, that could be done. But the Empire can do the same thing. Don't doubt that -- they are the only nation in this thread that actually has constructed a functioning mass teleporter.

 

Well, I was thinking of something like the Normandy Landings in WW2, planned for years in advance, everyone knew an invasion was coming sooner or later, just not exactly when or where, only if the Allies had been able to invade Germany instead of France. Even if you know your enemy is building a teleporter, if it's far from the front lines (as it should be), it can open a new front sooner or later. Failing that, just being able to move resources through your own territory quickly would be a lot better than marching soldiers across a continent.

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As an aside, what defences can you have against Quickfire, and how easily could they be implemented? Because you'd need to put them everywhere to stop this method of attack, which might cost you more resources than the actual attack does, assuming the enemy to be capable of this.

Well, for starters, you can just go in a room the fire hasn't gotten into, and close the door. Or better yet, duck into the basement. So speaking of WW2, I guess it's a bit like an air raid.

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Let's be honest here. The only reason why the Avernumites 'won' the war with the Empire was the exact same reason the United States 'won' against the British. The British could have steamrolled the Americas if they wanted too. They had the numbers and the training. The reason they 'lost' was because the war was too much of pain to fight a thousand miles across the sea for years on end. Basically the only thing America had to do was put enough of fight that the British said, "Forget it, you can have it."

 

It's the same with avernum and the Empire. All Avernum did was put up enough of a fight that the Empire finally said, "Forget it, keep your dingy caves. We didn't want them anyway."

 

Now that I think about it, there's a lot of parrels between the two. The United States are the Avernumites, originally belonging to the Empire but developed their own identity. Britain is of course the oppressive Empire, with king George as Hawthorne himself. They fight a long war over a thousand miles away over seas rather than a thousand miles down. America 'wins' by being a pain in the rear and the Empires leaves in a huff. In the end, years later, they become good friends.

 

Guess that makes the French the vahnhati. :)

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Well, for starters, you can just go in a room the fire hasn't gotten into, and close the door. Or better yet, duck into the basement. So speaking of WW2, I guess it's a bit like an air raid.

 

True, was thinking more of defending a town by putting secret doors around everywhere or something to limit the spread, or diagonal walls. Actually, that'd be easy to implement in a game, to make a town with Quickfire defences stand out a bit.

 

(Doors quickfire burn wooden doors? I mean, in the game it doesn't affect terrain (that I've seen), but does it work like normal fire, or like magical fire that only burns animals?...and Filth Factories, I guess)

 

Now that I think about it, there's a lot of parrels between the two. The United States are the Avernumites, originally belonging to the Empire but developed their own identity. Britain is of course the oppressive Empire, with king George as Hawthorne himself. They fight a long war over a thousand miles away over seas rather than a thousand miles down. America 'wins' by being a pain in the rear and the Empires leaves in a huff. In the end, years later, they become good friends.

 

Guess that makes the French the vahnhati. :)

 

Well, the British Empire wasn't nearly as oppressive (to the European settlers in the US) as the Empire, or as it is often made out to be.

 

OTOH, while everyone remembers the British sending prisoners to Australia, it's generally overlooked that they also sent them to what is now Georgia in the US, but had to stop after the War of Independence.

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I have a question-- what is the Empire's stance towards summoning creatures and creating undead during battle? So we see this during A2, either plot or game-mechanics-wise?

 

Well, for starters, you can just go in a room the fire hasn't gotten into, and close the door. Or better yet, duck into the basement.

 

Sure, game-wise. We're also talking plot-wise, here (if not primarily). As far as plot/fluff-- quickfire realistically would not be blocked by wooden doors. Sturdy metal doors, maybe-- though that depends on whether it's fire or electric-based quickfire. Also, ducking into the basement, plot/physics-wise would be the worst possible choice, thanks to gravity.

 

Wait, speaking of, is quickfire ever fire damage, or is the term a misnomer, with it always being electricity-based and inflicting magical damage?

 

Let's be honest here. The only reason why the Avernites 'won' the war with the Empire was the exact same reason the United States 'won' against the British. The British could have steamrolled the Americas if they wanted too. They had the numbers and the training. The reason they 'lost' was because the war was too much of pain to fight a thousand miles across the sea for years on end.

No, that is incorrect. I already stated the reason why they lost. It wasn't due to distance, it was due to unfamiliar territory, which is stated outright in the game (at least in the original + remake demos, which is as far as I've gotten) to be a huge disadvantage. Empire soldiers are not familiar with the hazards of Avernum. They are not accustomed to fighting in caves. Their eyes have not adapted to years/decades/a lifetime of living in dimly-lit caverns. Were it not for this, then the Empire would have swept through Avernum like quickfire.

The Empire did not "tire" of the war any more than the Union and Confederates tired of the Civil War. Once it got underway, it went from being about preserving the Union/secession to (at least among the majority of soldiers) being all about blood feud. Read the history. I don't know about A2, but in A3, the blood feud aspect is emphasized strongly.

This is what always happens, or at least used to happen before the advent of modern media.

For reference, this is what a blood feud is:

(A blood feud is a cycle of retaliatory violence between anywhere from two immediate families to entire clans/tribes, in retaliation for a member of one group being wronged or esp. killed by a member of the other. It can last for generations. Though technically not considered a blood feud, the same phenomena can occur on a nation-wide scale. The American Civil War is a prime example of a blood-feud-like phenomenon. After 2 years, *the typical amount of time for retaliatory sentiment, hatred, bitterness, and dehumanization of the other side to develop in a war* it went from being about secession/preserving the Union to being about revenge for fallen comrades and dehumanization of the opposing side. The advent of modern media in the 60's and 70's brought an end to widespread blood feud sentiment in industrialized nations *though still prevalent among American soldiers in 'Nam, it nonetheless was exponentially reduced percentage-wise from previous wars* and the development of smart/precision bombing in the 80's was a direct result of the anguish and mental scarring suffered by Vietnam soldiers over indiscriminate bombing of villages. Today, American sentiment is more about justice (or in some cases, vengeance) against enemy combatants and fighting to protect the innocent in the country that the war takes place in.)

 

Okay, enough yammering, back to the subject. We see the blood-feud sentiment alive and well in A3 (and possibly A2? Only played the demos), and it would have been more than enough to fuel the war against the Avernites. Let's not forget, also, that the Avernites include Nephil and the indigenous Slith-- creatures that the Empire hates-- this serves to increase the hostility, disgust, and dehumanization towards human Avernites even more.

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I have a question-- what is the Empire's stance towards summoning creatures and creating undead during battle? So we see this during A2, either plot or game-mechanics-wise?

 

Well, for starters, you can just go in a room the fire hasn't gotten into, and close the door. Or better yet, duck into the basement.

 

Sure, game-wise. We're also talking plot-wise, here (if not primarily). As far as plot/fluff-- quickfire realistically would not be blocked by wooden doors. Sturdy metal doors, maybe-- though that depends on whether it's fire or electric-based quickfire. Also, ducking into the basement, plot/physics-wise would be the worst possible choice, thanks to gravity.

 

Wait, speaking of, is quickfire ever fire damage, or is the term a misnomer, with it always being electricity-based and inflicting magical damage?

 

Let's be honest here. The only reason why the Avernites 'won' the war with the Empire was the exact same reason the United States 'won' against the British. The British could have steamrolled the Americas if they wanted too. They had the numbers and the training. The reason they 'lost' was because the war was too much of pain to fight a thousand miles across the sea for years on end.

No, that is incorrect. I already stated the reason why they lost. It wasn't due to distance, it was due to unfamiliar territory, which is stated outright in the game (at least in the original + remake demos, which is as far as I've gotten) to be a huge disadvantage. Empire soldiers are not familiar with the hazards of Avernum. They are not accustomed to fighting in caves. Their eyes have not adapted to years/decades/a lifetime of living in dimly-lit caverns. Were it not for this, then the Empire would have swept through Avernum like quickfire.

The Empire did not "tire" of the war any more than the Union and Confederates tired of the Civil War. Once it got underway, it went from being about preserving the Union/secession to (at least among the majority of soldiers) being all about blood feud. Read the history. I don't know about A2, but in A3, the blood feud aspect is emphasized strongly.

This is what always happens, or at least used to happen before the advent of modern media.

For reference, this is what a blood feud is:

(A blood feud is a cycle of retaliatory violence between anywhere from two immediate families to entire clans/tribes, in retaliation for a member of one group being wronged or esp. killed by a member of the other. It can last for generations. Though technically not considered a blood feud, the same phenomena can occur on a nation-wide scale. The American Civil War is a prime example of a blood-feud-like phenomenon. After 2 years, *the typical amount of time for retaliatory sentiment, hatred, bitterness, and dehumanization of the other side to develop in a war* it went from being about secession/preserving the Union to being about revenge for fallen comrades and dehumanization of the opposing side. The advent of modern media in the 60's and 70's brought an end to widespread blood feud sentiment in industrialized nations *though still prevalent among American soldiers in 'Nam, it nonetheless was exponentially reduced percentage-wise from previous wars* and the development of smart/precision bombing in the 80's was a direct result of the anguish and mental scarring suffered by Vietnam soldiers over indiscriminate bombing of villages. Today, American sentiment is more about justice (or in some cases, vengeance) against enemy combatants and fighting to protect the innocent in the country that the war takes place in.)

 

Okay, enough yammering, back to the subject. We see the blood-feud sentiment alive and well in A3 (and possibly A2? Only played the demos), and it would have been more than enough to fuel the war against the Avernites. Let's not forget, also, that the Avernites include Nephil and the indigenous Slith-- creatures that the Empire hates-- this serves to increase the hostility, disgust, and dehumanization towards human Avernites even more.

 

It is incorrect to say that the whole thing hinged on merely the Avernum's knowledge of the cave system, while an important factor, it is abundantly clear from the entirety of A2 that the Empire did have a big problem teleporting troops down. That's what they were trying to fix with massive teleporter. And the Empire did give up. I'm pretty sure it says so at the beginning of A3 and pretty much indicates so at the end of A2 in that you don't end the war as much as severely inconvenience the Empire. I mean, come on, the Empire could've killed one of avernumite for ten of themselves and still easily come out on top. In fact, they already decimated nearly half of Avernum in A2. It was just a matter of the top brass saying, "Yeah, this isn't worth our blood and time," for the fight to really end. That's what killing Garzad did. Prazac took over she said enough is enough.

 

And yeah, it isn't a perfect comparison but comparison are fun.

 

And I don't mean to delegitimize Avernum's victory in any way. Unlike strategy games have taught us, real wars do not necessarily end with one side conquering the other. In fact, most wars don't. Avernum most certainly won the war, no question. It just that its objective in the war, to keep the Empire out of their land, was different than the Empire's, which was to conquer it. Avernum achieved its objective with flying colors. Bit if you flipped their two objectives with Avernum trying to conquer the Empire's land, its completely obvious who would've won that war.

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No, that is incorrect. I already stated the reason why they lost. It wasn't due to distance, it was due to unfamiliar territory, which is stated outright in the game (at least in the original + remake demos, which is as far as I've gotten) to be a huge disadvantage. Empire soldiers are not familiar with the hazards of Avernum. They are not accustomed to fighting in caves. Their eyes have not adapted to years/decades/a lifetime of living in dimly-lit caverns. Were it not for this, then the Empire would have swept through Avernum like quickfire.

 

Er, in the intro to E3 it says "Exile was outgunned and outmanned. The Empire War was thought lost until Exile found an ally. The alien Vahnatai joined you and turned the tide. The Empire was expelled".

 

Possibly later games have retconned this, though.

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From an in-universe perspective, Avernite historians may have downplayed Vahnatai contributions after the events of A3. The Vahnatai were really good allies at the time - the Avernites even trusted them with a permanent outpost in Upper Avernum (which they might have helped discover and settle in the first place, given the teleportation magic involved), before Rentar-Ihrno effectively betrayed them by going on a private genocide mission and sabotaging the peace process.

 

Anyway, this doesn't mean the Vahnatai did everything - they just turned the tide in a war of attrition. Avernum might have lost without Vahnatai assistance, but it would have been a pyrrhic victory for the Empire.

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Anyway, this doesn't mean the Vahnatai did everything - they just turned the tide in a war of attrition. Avernum might have lost without Vahnatai assistance, but it would have been a pyrrhic victory for the Empire.

 

Possibly, though that's not my reading of it at all.

 

As an aside, how secure was Avernum against local problems like hostile sliths/hephils et all at the time? If the Empire was smarter and better informed, it could have weakened Avernum's ability to resist them, rather than trying to do the work itself. If it was really o the ball, it'd actively court them as allies, though this isn't something they are ideologically in favour of. Alternatively, depending on where they invaded they could potentially cut chunks of Avernum off from each other, and leave them to fend for themselves, but this doesn't seem to be part of the plan.

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It is incorrect to say that the whole thing hinged on merely the Avernum's knowledge of the cave system, while an important factor, it is abundantly clear from the entirety of A2 that the Empire did have a big problem teleporting troops down. That's what they were trying to fix with massive teleporter.

As I've only played the demos, I did not know that.

 

 

As an aside, how secure was Avernum against local problems like hostile sliths/hephils et all at the time? If the Empire was smarter and better informed, it could have weakened Avernum's ability to resist them, rather than trying to do the work itself.

The Empire hated Nephil and Slith even more than it hated the human Avernites. The hostile Slith and Nephil (the vast majority, anyhow) would hate the Empire too much to ally with them, and they're not stupid enough to wait until the Empire turns on them, next, to fight them. Esp. the savage Nephil, who have not forgotten about the Empire's genocide on the surface.

 

"Yeah, this isn't worth our blood and time," for the fight to really end. That's what killing Garzad did. Prazac took over she said enough is enough.

Does Prazac have a different and more peaceful personality than Garzad, though? If so, then "this isn't worth our time" would not factor in as much as you think, and in that case the change in leadership is what shifted the Imperial war plans.

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Er, in the intro to E3 it says "Exile was outgunned and outmanned. The Empire War was thought lost until Exile found an ally. The alien Vahnatai joined you and turned the tide. The Empire was expelled".

 

Possibly later games have retconned this, though.

 

Really? I thought it said the line was 'the Empire left.' Nuts. Still, it doesn't really say how they were expelled. It could just mean that they packed up and left of their own initiative when they saw how bad things were getting with Garzad dead and the vahanti joining the Avernumites.

 

And yeah, the change in leadership caused the end of the war. But it was the fact that the new leadership said it wasn't worth the effort that ended the war. Prazac was a great leader and she was the one who forged the peace treaty between Avernum, but she didn't come across to me as a Dove. Had the cost of continuing the war been reasonable, I'm she would've stuck with it to the end.

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As an aside, how secure was Avernum against local problems like hostile sliths/hephils et all at the time? If the Empire was smarter and better informed, it could have weakened Avernum's ability to resist them, rather than trying to do the work itself.

The Empire hated Nephil and Slith even more than it hated the human Avernites. The hostile Slith and Nephil (the vast majority, anyhow) would hate the Empire too much to ally with them, and they're not stupid enough to wait until the Empire turns on them, next, to fight them. Esp. the savage Nephil, who have not forgotten about the Empire's genocide on the surface.

 

Have all the Slith and Nephil groups met the Empire, though? I had thought they were a collection of separate and fairly isolated groups.

 

In any case, without an actual alliance, it would be in the Empire's interest to weaken or isolate an area of Avernum under threat from Nephils/Sliths or others.

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Have all the Slith and Nephil groups met the Empire, though? I had thought they were a collection of separate and fairly isolated groups.

 

All of the Nephil have. They are not indigenous to Avernum-- all are exiles or descendents of exiles from the surface-- the few lucky ones (or unlucky, depending on your PoV) not to be exterminated by the Empire on the surface. We are told time and time again in the games that the Nephil remember these crimes, or the story was passed down generations. The savage Nephil blame (and hate) all humans for what the Empire did to them. Considering their hatred of Avernites, what do you think will happen when they actually run into Empire soldiers? No, the Empire would find no allies among the Nephil, save the ultra-rare leader, shaman, or brigand who sells his soul (figuratively) for some magical trinkets. There is no possible way that the Empire would be able to enlist the help of more than a scant few tribes (enough to count on a single hand)

The only way what you propose would work is via false flag attacks (a false flag attack is when one group-- e.g. a gang, military, or organization, commits a crime and frames another group. In this case, the Empire would kill some savage Nephil and make it look like the Avernites did it)

 

It is unlikely that the Empire could play their cards right with the civilized or even savage Slith, but as I've only played the 1~3 demos, I could easily be wrong. Their freak-out over encountering the Slith for the first time (as they are indigenous to Avernum) would create a rather poor impression on the tribes, and result in a blood feud. Granted, as with the Nephil, you would have a scant few who would sell their souls for some goodies. I can picture an alliance with a few Slith tribes much more easily than I can picture an alliance with savage Nephil, however. Hell, I have no idea how those rogue Vahnatai even managed to approach/negotiate with the Imperial soldiers before being gutted on the spot.

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So, I thought of this another way to analyze it, and I think I figured out a way to show that the Shapers would likely end out ahead.

 

Let's put the armies of both sides onto a field. What do their armies bring to the table, and who is likely to win?

 

First, the Empire. The armies they bring out are fairly standard. They have a large force of soldiers, likely primarily bladesmen and archers, with a couple archers and perhaps battle priests to provide support. There may be a few Dervishes mixed in there as well to lead the groups, while if they're lucky an Archmage leads the mages. Either way, a strong, disciplined force, ready to charge the enemy lines.

 

Then we have the Shapers. While they likely would only have a couple dozen shapers in the fight, with perhaps a couple Guardians to protect them, they bring Monsters. War Tralls, Wingbolts, and Kyshaaks stand at attention, ready to bombard the enemy with magical assaults.

 

The end result will likely have the Empire losing the battle for a couple reasons. One: The Shapers have a STRONG ranged advantage. The Empire's forces would need to charge into melee range to take out the Shapers, and during that charge they're being pelted by fields of lightning from the Kyshaaks, magical bolts from the Wingbolts, and stones from the Tralls. Any swordsmen that survive would then have to face the Tralls themselves, beaten and weakened, and Tralls are nothing to sneeze at. And even then, they may need to deal with the Guardians as well, each one on par with a Dervish, who may be the only real threats the Shapers would need to deal with.

That's not all though. Every Empire soldier that dies is a casualty, while every creation killed is replaced almost immediately by the Shapers. Not only that, but the Empire, disciplined as it is, still has morale that will eventually break, resulting in fleeing soldiers. The Shaper creations, meanwhile, will continually charge to the slaughter, never wavering as the Shapers keep their control.

 

At the end of the day, the Empire will have lost hundereds of men, if not thousands in a particularly large fight. The Shapers, meanwhile, will have losses in the dozens, if that much. When it comes to straight up battles like this, the Shapers have a massive edge due to their ranged superiority, magical strength, and ability to release reserves with great speed.

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Don't think the Empire's soldiers are anything to laugh at. There's no reason to assume they're any less than the non-shaper warriors on Terrista and we seen plenty of very tough warriors on Terrista capable of taking on higher tier creations. Sure, I wouldn't pit one against a Drakon or gazer or maybe even a wingbolt but the Empire has more than dervishes, archmages, and highpriests to even the odds out in simple skirmishes. For all that the Empire has restrictive laws on magic, they have no end of mages and priests as can been seen from A2. We probably saw more mages and priests in A2 than bona-fide Shapers in the entire Geneforge Saga. While it in of it itself proves nothing, we can extrapolate from it that the Empire probably has a whole lot more magic users than the Shapers have Shapers. Sure, Shapers outmatch Imperial Mages or Priests but they're pretty frail in actual close combat and they're few in number. A loss of a mage to the Empire means a lot less to them than a loss of a Shaper to the Shapers.

 

The Imperial soldiers are extremely tough and they got a crazy amount of numbers. They are also extremely well disciplined. We never see the Shapers leading whole battalions or that they are even capable of making a large amount creations function as well and smoothly as a human would so we can safely assume given equal strength of the respective armies that the Empire will win with superior battefield tactics. In a more strategical sense, they'll know better how to move their armies around to maximize their effect and their armies will be far far larger and numerous. Definitely they'll have to learn early on to have a very strong offensive strategy, otherwise the Shapers will just replenish their forces every skirmish, but that shouldn't take too long to figure out.

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