Jump to content

The Empire Strikes Back


Goldengirl
 Share

Imperial Inquiry  

24 members have voted

  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



Recommended Posts

The Shapers have a distinct aerial advantage. Wingbolts can definitely fly. Vlish and Gazers can sometimes fly. Drakons can theoretically be made to fly (G2 Awakened).

 

The Shapers definitely have an advantage of staying power. Creations are ultimately completely disposable, and can be created constantly and quickly, with possibly no resource expenditure, but certainly less than what it takes to make a fighting human being. Even if the Empire has five continents worth of manpower at its disposal, they have to deal with all the logistical difficulties of training, arming, transporting, and placating soldiers, which the Shapers do not. And the Shapers still have two continents of their own, anyways; five continents isn't so insurmountable in the first place.

 

Creations have physical capabilities exceeding those of an armed and armored human. I mean, Battle Alphas are like nine feet tall and strong enough to kill armored men with their bare hands. Golems are about as tall, twice as thick, and made of solid stone. Controlled creations are as capable of disciplined formation fighting as humans. A lot of creations have some sort of pseudo-magical elemental attack, while the Empire relies on its wizards(which are very explicitly a tightly-controlled, low-population resource, and very difficult to replace) for all of that. On a basic man-to-monster basis, it looks like the Shapers have the advantage again. The Empire has elite troops, but even high-tier creations are ultimately totally disposable, while a Dervish or a wizard takes years and years to produce. The Empire will run out of elite troops. The Shapers will not. Shapers don't need to put themselves in nearly as much risk as a wizard does to use their powers.

 

The Empire's wizards are more destructively powerful than the Shaper Empire's wizards. They're probably on average more destructively powerful than Shapers, or even most Agents. But, again, they're severely limited in number, and the Shapers have many expendable creations with magical or pseudo-magical abilities. And the Shapers, I think, have superior support magics: healing and mental magic surely, but possibly also buffing magic, at least when you're thinking in terms of applying these effects to a large fighting force. The Empire has, in the past, sometimes been willing to work with Eyebeasts, Rakshasas, undead, and other monsters, but this is after a long period of eradication. I'm not sure how significant their numbers are, either, but it can't be that many. In the general area of "tactically-applied magic", I'm leaning towards giving a moderate edge to the Shapers.

 

I'm not sure either side would have a strategy or tactics advantage. They're both totally uncontested hegemonic empires that have not had to fight many wars in earnest for a very long time. If anything, the Shapers would seem to have the advantage again: the Rebellion was way more significant of a conflict for the Shapers than Avernum was for the Empire. They probably learned more. The Empire's troops seem to have kept up their effectiveness in the protracted peacetime, but their generals never really display any special genius. The Shapers have obviously superior foraging, guerilla, and harassment capabilities, and know how to use them.

 

The Empire is tied to its civilian population in a way that Shapers really don't seem to be. I mean, Shapers must need to eat. Creations must need to eat. But every Empire soldier recruited and every Empire soldier killed is one less civilian working to support the Empire and the Empire's armies. Every Battle Alpha created and every Battle Alpha killed involves no real opportunity cost as far as I can see. And creations don't need equipment, morale, training, beasts of burden(they are beasts of burden!), they don't need to be coerced into joining an army, and they don't need to be born or grow up. The Shapers are capable of operating an arbitrarily large army without significant tradeoffs, and replacing troops is a breeze. The Empire is huge, and has tremendous resources, but they are ultimately limited in ways that the Shapers just aren't.

 

Navally, it looks way in favor of the Shapers. Your derpy little transport raft in G1 destroys a three-masted Sholai ship in a single hit. It's not a combat vessel. It's not a warmachine. There's very little in the way of naval force shown in any Spiderweb game, but from this single data point, I am willing to project total Shaper domination.

 

In terms of infrastructural magic, both the Shapers and the Empire have significant capabilities, just directed to different purposes. Large Shaper installations seems to be dedicated to either research, extreme long-range remote control of creations, producing lots of creations very quickly, or power generation. Large Empire installations seems to be dedicated to either research, power generation, demons, or teleportation. Ultimately, I don't think this amounts to much of an advantage for either side. The Shaper's installations reinforce their existing strengths, and the Empire's teleportation is too limited to decide much of anything. Demon summoning is questionable - it's very clear that Geneforge demons and Avernum demons are two different things, at any rate. Garzahd used them to significant effect, but even his capabilities were way more limited than a Shaper creation-making installation would be. But then, the average demon seems to be moderately more formidable than the average Shaper war creation. But demons are much more dangerous to the user. And the Empire doesn't seem to have much truck with demons now that Garzahd's gone, anyways. . . let's call it a wash.

 

In a stand-up, man-to-man-to-creation fight, I favor the Shapers. In dispersed, guerilla action, I favor the Shapers. In a war of decisive battles, I favor the Shapers. In a war of attrition, I heavily favor the Shapers. The Shapers could lose their entire fighting force and just make another, just as good. That just cannot be overstated. It's the stuff of military fantasy. The number of pre-industrial nations historically capable of losing a single battle and not just instantly capitulating is vanishingly small. And I'm not saying that the Empire is like that, but they are vulnerable to attrition where Shapers just transcend it.

 

I really can't see the case for anyone but the Shapers winning, guys. It keeps coming back to how easily Shapers can produce highly diversified, responsive, variable armies, compared to the Empire. The Shapers' ability to completely shortcircuit questions of manpower and equipment and morale is totally decisive on its own, even if their creations weren't scary magical monsters far more formidable than human soldiers, even if their non-Shaping magic wasn't generally comparable or superior, even if they really needed their civilian population to be producing tchotchkes, even if they were tactically identical. But they have all those advantages too! So what on earth is the Empire gonna do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While my reasoning is simpler than some of the other posts here, I think that the Shapers would most likely triumph against all others, aside from a few cases I'll go over.

 

First off, if they got rushed out or lost control early on, which is something they've struggled with before, they'd lose ground.

 

Complacency made the Shapers lose the entire eastern half of their continent throughout the Geneforge series, but they likely would've never faced a dangerous rebellion had Sucia Island be dealt with sooner.

 

If we're talking about the forces at their peak, and not at the canonical endings of their series thus far, I'd say that the Shapers would very easily win eventually through attrition against foes, provided that they do not get infiltrated too much. Their power lies in tradition and secrecy, which can be used against them by the right foe. The Empire's figurehead was hard enough for the strongest mage Avernum had to deal with, and its complete superiority over the surface through numbers might just be enough to overwhelm the Shapers, whom have only their magic to rely on. The Pact probably would be easier to beat than the uniform Empire, but they're also a lot more diverse, by what I've seen, and might be able to rush Shaper armies down.

 

When it comes down to everything, I guess it depends on how you use the strongest traits you have. The Shapers have a lot, and I believe that using what they have at their disposal the most intelligently, they'd likely triumph against the other two easily. Having a guarded tower full of relatively frail Shapers pumping out a stream of creations for major warfare against highly trained soldiers who have trained for years and have equipment, time, and money invested into them would slowly result in victory if the sides do not adapt.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Shapers have a distinct aerial advantage. Wingbolts can definitely fly. Vlish and Gazers can sometimes fly. Drakons can theoretically be made to fly (G2 Awakened).

 

Oh, that's a really big advantage, yeah.

 

When it comes down to everything, I guess it depends on how you use the strongest traits you have.

 

Good point. Not just the strongest traits, though.

 

The Empire has serious competency issues. In E3, for example, each of the 5 monster plagues was being mishandled badly until the Surface Explorers turned up. The Dervish in Kriszan wasn't mch concerned with the Slimes, the Anama in Shayder were sorta on the ball, but were busy dealing with the symptom and had alienated all the wizards, including the one whose help is needed to deal with the cause. You have to bribe an official in Sharimik to get the Troglodyte mission. They've got a successful Empire general fighting the golems, only the officials in Gale won't have anything to do with him and just hide in their city.

 

If they were properly led, they could have done with those plagues themselves (not sure about the Alien Beasts, they might have tried their best with that one). Of course, then there would not have been a game, but the mismanagement of the Empire seems to be a big, long running theme. Now, I might be being unfair, and the set up was just impossible to run well (due to various reasons that aren't specified), but in any case, serious problem for the Empire.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Obviously this kind of exercise is going to rely on a lot of extrapolation based on what we know from the games, but I think there are just too many unknown moving parts here, including some critical quantity comparisons that can't be extrapolated because all the games are deliberately ambiguous about them. The in-game descriptions make the Empire sound more expansive than the Shaper realms, at least to me, but how much more expansive? Does it have twice the population, ten times the population? This makes a big difference in evaluating the sort of questions brought up above.

 

There are other factors that we have information about, but it's unclear which set of information we should use. Specifically, when is this happening? That matters a lot for the Shapers: if it's pre-Sucia, their strongest creations are Ur-Glaahks, Vlish, Battle Betas, and maybe Plated Clawbugs -- but they are unified. If it's war-era, they have Wingbolts, War Tralls, and maybe Eyebeasts -- but their military power is taxed to the limit handling the existing war. Post-war they could get the benefits of both -- but only for one or two of Geneforge 5's many endings, which means we're going into serious maybe-universe territory. (And if we want them to be using Drakons, that places further rather specific demands on the resolution.) The Empire doesn't have that problem -- the Darkside Loyalists, aside from being less of a threat than the Geneforge Rebels to begin with, would be unlikely to attack the Empire while it engaged in a war with foreign, magical creatures and their makers -- something that lines up perfectly with DL ideology. And saying "Avernum war era" would hardly handicap the Empire -- they'd drop the war in Exile to deal with the real threat, and they'd get the full benefit of Garzahd and his demons. (And the Vahnatai would not be involved either unless the timing is incredibly specific, namely, in the six years between the theft of the Crystal Souls and the vanquishing of the Plagues.)

 

Some things we do know about and those mostly don't point to a clear victor either way. I disagree with the evaluation of Empire magic above. Shapers are perfectly good healers, and they can toss fire around just fine, but their buffing skills are limited. Sure, they can energize and haste their creations, but Empire wizards can do that plus slow their opponents; and they can put up shields and wards that specifically protect against elemental attacks, like creation breath weapons. (This is true in every game, although the precise form can vary.) They are also rather more portable combatants as they do not require essence pools or pods in order to replenish their abilities between battles, just rest. Finally, there's the summoning, including of undead and demons; whatever the official stance of the Empire, we see Empire wizards engaging enthusiastically in that pursuit in every single game (and JV-authored scenario) that features Empire wizards.

 

It's certainly interesting to imagine what might happen when these forces fight, but let's not forget that that's the key word here. The evidence is the games is very, very far from conclusive, and it depends on all sorts of decisions you make about the state of the world(s) that are new determinations and do not follow from the existing canon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is unfair to the Empire. The shapers also were incapable of solving their problems until you come along. They did a terrible job by simply leaving Sucia, they mangled the purification of all forbidden articles twice, allowed the rebels to kick their rearends for months if not years before they kicked into high gear and started really pushing them back in G4. The Shapers were so arrogant they couldn't imagine losing until it hit them in face and they keep on underestimating 'rouges' becuase of it and getting punished for it.

 

I think people over estimating Shapers ability to summon new creations on the fly. Considering that it always takes trip back to town to restore essence, we can assume that it takes a full nights rest to recover to full power. Yes, there are essence pools, but they're slow and the shaper can only begin to create after one his old creations die.

 

Let's make a calculation. We see about a hundred or so shapers in game and we know that they are few in number. I think we can peg the amount of full fledged shapers at about a thousand, maybe closer to two. The Empire has four continents so we can easily imagine an army of a million. Let's say every Shaper can sustain seven high level creations at a time, after all the main character can only do about that much and he kills everyone else. That means you have an army of barely ten thousand versus an army of a freaking million! Spread it out on various fronts, let's say ten, and you have an army of a thousand vs an army of 100.000! The Shapers stand no chance. Add in ,admittedly limited, teleportation for quick assassinations behind the lines in mid-battle and the Shapers go down fast!

 

Edit: Slarty, I agree with you in essence. They're are a lot of variables in war itself and a lack of clarity on the specific capabilities of the two combatants makes it hard to say for sure. I merely postulate that FROM WHAT WE KNOW that the Empire would win.

 

btw, there's only one shaper continent. The sholai have no interest in Shapers' wars as the messenger in G3 says.

 

Second edit: Wow, that first edit as really stupid. What I meant was that, true, we don't know either sides full capabilities or how they would mesh in a fight, but we extrapolate from what we know simple things from the games like, shapers aerial advantage, the Empires greater numbers, Jeff's awesomeness, to figure out who would probably win.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it's fair to take both the Empire and the Shapers at their fighting peak and restrict the fighting to just those two participants, Violence Island-style.So, the Empire doesn't have to worry about Avernum or Darkside Loyalists or Vahnatai, and the Shapers have the full creation roster at their disposal.

 

Shapers have two continents. This, I state.

 

I disagree with the evaluation of Empire magic above. Shapers are perfectly good healers, and they can toss fire around just fine, but their buffing skills are limited. Sure, they can energize and haste their creations, but Empire wizards can do that plus slow their opponents; and they can put up shields and wards that specifically protect against elemental attacks, like creation breath weapons. (This is true in every game, although the precise form can vary.) They are also rather more portable combatants as they do not require essence pools or pods in order to replenish their abilities between battles, just rest. Finally, there's the summoning, including of undead and demons; whatever the official stance of the Empire, we see Empire wizards engaging enthusiastically in that pursuit in every single game (and JV-authored scenario) that features Empire wizards.

 

That's fair, though I do think you're not taking into account the superior mental magic of the Shapers. It is the optimal way to play in many of the games. :p

 

I still question how decisive the limited number of Empire wizards can be. The Shapers have no shortage of magical capabilities from their creations. Most of them are not so versatile, but there are a lot, and many of them quite powerful, or with additional status effects. There will simply be a lot more magical firepower coming from the Shapers than could possibly be returned to them, and the sources of that magic are going to be largely disposable and replaceable. Many creations have innate elemental resistances, as well! Certainly more able to resist magical assault than the average Empire soldier.

 

I think people over estimating Shapers ability to summon new creations on the fly. Considering that it always takes trip back to town to restore essence, we can assume that it takes a full nights rest to recover to full power. Yes, there are essence pools, but they're slow and the shaper can only begin to create after one his old creations die.

 

When I say that Shapers can replace their creations, I do not mean literally instantly, though I suppose they can do that in an emergency. See the next section. I mean that they can do so in a matter of days. It takes at least sixteen years and a whole lot of work and a whole lot of money to make human soldiers, and that's if you're okay with green bananas. The Shapers' ability to avoid that investment entirely is not a capability to be taken lightly. Their armies are without end.

 

Let's make a calculation. We see about a hundred or so shapers in game and we know that they are few in number. I think we can peg the amount of full fledged shapers at about a thousand, maybe closer to two. The Empire has four continents so we can easily imagine an army of a million. Let's say every Shaper can sustain seven high level creations at a time, after all the main character can only do about that much and he kills everyone else. That means you have an army of barely ten thousand versus an army of a freaking million! Spread it out on various fronts, let's say ten, and you have an army of a thousand vs an army of 100.000! The Shapers stand no chance

 

These numbers are baseless and I do not accept them. It is pointless to speculate towards hard numbers except in the vaguest of terms. What is seen in gameplay cannot be taken as strictly, literally true.

 

This addresses the previous quote as well: The Shaper PC is doing a different kind of Shaping than most of the other Shapers. This is clear, just from how many creations other Shapers have, Shaper equipment like vats, and how NPC creations behave. It's never been canonically addressed, but it has been speculated on these boards that the instant out-of-thin-air Shaping that the PC does is not reflective of most institutional Shaping, precisely because of essence limits and control range. Other Shapers are capable, with the use of equipment in their labs and other installations, of creating arbitrary numbers of creations and commanding them through verbal instruction over arbitrary ranges, rather than through the limited-range direct control the PCs seems to have. Magical devices are shown to allow for that direct control over long distances as well. They can be given to non-Shaper human caretakers, or to more intelligent creations, or simply set loose. Creations made in this way do not seem to detract from a permanent essence pool the way PC creations do. Specifics, unfortunately, are not available.

 

Add in ,admittedly limited, teleportation for quick assassinations behind the lines in mid-battle and the Shapers go down fast!

 

No they don't. Teleportation is, as you say, limited, both in range and number of passengers. Shapers don't need to be anywhere near a battle, and either way will definitely be guarded. Shapers are also formidable combatants all on their own. Teleportation is also not particularly given towards assassination - the Empire isn't playing Dishonored, here, there are big flashes of light and you have to do a whole magic words spell and [censored]. Teleportation is an asset the Empire has, but it does not allow for the kind of advantage you're imagining.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Taking everyone at the height of their power and without situational limitations that exist at that height is an acceptable premise, but it IS a premise and we need to acknowledge it as such; it's not a footnote to what we're doing, then, but something that is an integral part of all conclusions; and it means that those conclusions do not hold for any other premise. I'm not sure everyone in this thread is taking that premise as a starting point, either.

 

Furthermore, doing that means the Empire gets all of Garzahd and company's various high end magickal works... including the demonology. We *have* seen demons in Geneforge, and they stack up rather well compared to creations, especially considering that there are demons with every flavor of elemental immunity.

 

(I admit, though, that the image of Garzahd being minddueled to death by a vlish is pretty compelling. Especially if it's a diptych and the other side depicts Alwan's dead body, frozen in stasis by a haakai lord's breath.)

 

Re the "superior mental magic" of the Shapers... first, Shaper mental magic is designed to be most effective against creations, for obvious reasons. Second, pretty much the same set of mental spells appear in both games. Third, the Empire gets magical defenses against mental magic, and easy mental health spells -- both of which are much rarer in Geneforge. And demons, again are immune to it, as are a few Shaper units (like Gazers, IIRC). Not sure that's super relevant.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No they don't. Teleportation is, as you say, limited, both in range and number of passengers. Shapers don't need to be anywhere near a battle, and either way will definitely be guarded. Shapers are also formidable combatants all on their own. Teleportation is also not particularly given towards assassination - the Empire isn't playing Dishonored, here, there are big flashes of light and you have to do a whole magic words spell and [censored]. Teleportation is an asset the Empire has, but it does not allow for the kind of advantage you're imagining.

 

Hmmm...in E3, there is that wizard near Fort Emergence that, by himself, can teleport your party to the gates of any of the 5 major cities on that continent.

 

IIRC, there is also a supply room in Sharimik that when you go into it, gets attacked by a bunch of troglodyte commandos who teleport in.

 

Of course, the obvious problem with that is that Sharimik and rooms within it don't move about, whereas a Shaper might not be wherever you aimed your teleporter when you use it. Also, can you teleport out again? Word of Recall might be handy, I guess.

 

However, a system of teleporters would massively help communications, you'd not have to have people acting as couriers walking all over carrying letters anymore, which the Empire used a lot in E3 (but maybe for less important stuff).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm pretty sure that the demons in Geneforge are not the same demons as are in Avernum. Other than that, I can just repeat

 

Garzahd used them to significant effect, but even his capabilities were way more limited than a Shaper creation-making installation would be. But then, the average demon seems to be moderately more formidable than the average Shaper war creation. But demons are much more dangerous to the user.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm pretty sure that the demons in Geneforge are not the same demons as are in Avernum

Perhaps, but I'm pretty sure that the everything in Geneforge is not the same as it is in Avernum. If you don't want to make rough comparisons between vaguely similar but not identical things, this whole endeavor is impossible.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it's a fair concession to say that there are a lot more bland demons in Avernum, but that isn't still to say that there aren't really scary ones either. Adze-Haakai and Grah-Hoth both come to mind, for instance, and they've been responsible for a lot of extremely devastating events in Avernite history.

 

On the question of numbers, since this has come up a lot.

 

First, it's more or less canon that there's only one Shaper continent. In G3, they mention another one, but Jeff later came on record to say he'd forgotten about that and that Terrestia is the only one.

 

Second, on the question of the Empire's population. Of course, we don't know anything for sure. However, we do know that two of the continents (Vantanas and Valorim) are relatively less settled, while the other two (Aizo and Pralgad) are more densely settled. We also know, however, that these are pre-industrial civilizations. Aizo isn't full of cities like Beijing and New York; there are hard caps from agricultural limits. Also, though, which I think we all need to think about more carefully, is the massive logistical problems that confound the Empire. Even with teleportation (which we already know is extremely difficult), portals going across the world can't be easy to build or maintain. The entirety of the surface world is a huge distance to travel, and magic isn't going to be a perfect fix to this. So, we have a lot of (hopefully sail) boats that are moving around as fast as they can, but they aren't going to be enough to artificially support huge populations.

 

My idea, then, is that yes, the Empire is huge, but it isn't unfathomably huge. And, more importantly, this hugeness is abstract; the logistical lines make it functionally impossible for the Empire to successfully bring together a wide array of forces from each continent. Trying to drown their opponents in numbers is just as likely to cause the Empire's own generals and military machine to drown in numbers trying to manage and transport everyone.

 

Third, and this is just me, but I think all the "easy" teleportation in A3 (the amulet, the wizard by Fort Emergence) was purely for gameplay reasons and contradicts what the rest of the entire series said about how difficult and unstable teleportation is.

 

Fourth, I don't think that the kind of Shaping the PC does is unique at all. In pretty much every battle with a Shaper, they Shape creations more or less instantly. They may not be the best creations, and the Shapers may not be able to have a lot of control over them beyond the immediate battle field, but that's not really an issue. I'd cite examples, but I can't even think of a single counter-example, I'm pretty sure this is universally true in every fight with a Shaper (or Lifecrafter).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For demons, there are two ways to look at that. You can assume the game mechanics are comparable, in which case the Geneforge demons really are scarier -- but that literal interpretation of mechanics also means that elite Empire troops come in a nearly unending supply and outclass most creations. Or you can assume that similarly described things are comparable, in which case the demons are similar and Shapers are just worse at dealing with them (presumably because they encounter them so rarely, there was no need to adapt their spells and defenses for demons).

 

Fourth, I don't think that the kind of Shaping the PC does is unique at all. In pretty much every battle with a Shaper, they Shape creations more or less instantly. They may not be the best creations, and the Shapers may not be able to have a lot of control over them beyond the immediate battle field, but that's not really an issue. I'd cite examples, but I can't even think of a single counter-example, I'm pretty sure this is universally true in every fight with a Shaper (or Lifecrafter).

I'm pretty sure that they didn't actually have the ability to do that (in-game, I mean) until G4. I remember thinking "wow, that's new" during the early fight with a general (Crowley?).

 

I believe it's been suggested that most creations can be shaped either for quick use or for longevity, and that all the PC's have for whatever reason only learned how to do the latter. Perhaps quick battle shaping is a specialty. Perhaps the lack of training that the PC's in at least the first four Geneforges had, was responsible.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

 

Doesn't the average Empire unit encounter typically contain something like 2 to 4 melee fighters, 1 or 2 archers, 1 priest, and 1 mage? (I'm not even talking about the ones with dervishes, just the average unit you encounter in the demo, alone) The Empire has more ranged strength than you are remembering, unless I am the one who is misremembering and simply thinking of brigands. I know the most basic unit has at least one powerful mage, though.

 

 

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.

 

In other words, percentage-wise, the losses are about tied-- as far as forces, there are probably 10 to 20 times more empire soldiers than there are Shapers + outsider soldiers. I don't understand why I have to keep emphasizing this. The Empire spans an entire planet, with partial exception to Valorim. AN ENTIRE PLANET. The Shapers only span a single continent + a few tiny islands. Even with a (very likely) Sholai alliance, that probably wouldn't make up more than two thirds of the planet-- and the Geneforge world is sparsely populated compared to the Empire.

 

Second, on the question of the Empire's population. Of course, we don't know anything for sure. However, we do know that two of the continents (Vantanas and Valorim) are relatively less settled,

 

Valorim is not just "less settled". It is described as "frontier land". And correct me if I'm wrong, but Valorim is at least as populated as Terrestria, if not moreso, isn't it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh...the Mutant Giants the Empire has, are they evidence of some sort of shaper like magic used by the Empire? In of itself they aren't important (an individual Mutant Giant is pretty nasty, but they seem to be very rare in the scheme of things), but it means that the Empire has some understanding of that sort of magic, which might be useful when dealing with a culture that uses it so much.

 

In other words, percentage-wise, the losses are about tied-- as far as forces, there are probably 10 to 20 times more empire soldiers than there are Shapers + outsider soldiers. I don't understand why I have to keep emphasizing this. The Empire spans an entire planet, with partial exception to Valorim. AN ENTIRE PLANET. The Shapers only span a single continent + a few tiny islands. Even with a (very likely) Sholai alliance, that probably wouldn't make up more than two thirds of the planet-- and the Geneforge world is sparsely populated compared to the Empire.

 

Er...are there actual numbers for how big the continents are, and how many people live in each, though? Otherwise, this is just speculation, isn't it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My, my, my, it's been such a long time since I've seen a thread that truly caught my eye like this one! Reading all of your interesting theories, I figured I might present my own.

 

To begin with, when you say "Shapers", which group do you mean? The loyalists or the rebels? And, even then, you've got the human rebels and the creation rebels.

 

Anyhow!

 

The Empire vs. The Pact:

The Empire. Don't get me wrong, I think there would be a good fight, but I also think the Empire would completely overwhelm the pact. There's just too many of them. The only chance the pact would have, I think, would be getting a portal pylon (I believe that's what they're called in the Avadon games, it's been a bit since I've played them) literally directly inside of the current leader of the Empire. It seems too implausible. Not impossible maybe, but very, very implausible.

 

The Pact vs. the Shapers:

This depends on which side you're looking at it from. Are the Shapers attacking the pact, or is it the other way around? Maybe the rebels trying to make a foothold on new land?

 

If the Pact up and out of nowhere decided to attack the Shapers, they would be decimated. Destroyed. Blasted and burned and melted and electrocuted. The Shapers would most likely start out with that maritime nation all the way to the west that I can't remember the name of and spread their forces from there, gradually either assimilating the remains of the Pact or destroying it.

 

On the other hand, if the Shapers decided to attack the Pact, they may have a chance to retaliate. The Pact has, quite possibly, the most knowledge of portal and transportation magic. If they could transport assassins into a few major Shaper strongholds, the Shapers would be left leaderless and confused.

 

Rebels are a different story, though. In the case of the Rebels vs. the Pact, I have a feeling that the nations of the Pact would, quite literally, be razed to the ground, regardless of who attacked who first. The drakons would unleash maybe a score of Unbound, spread across the continent, and, barring any miracles, the Unbound would do their work astonishingly well.

 

And so it comes to the Empire vs. the Shapers. Personally, I don't know if the numbers would matter so much in this one: it IS true that the Empire has significantly more warriors at their disposal, but at the same time there are several hundreds, if not thousands or tens of thousands, of Shapers: and each Shaper is an army. What it would come to, I think, is who has a better understanding of magic. The Empire would win, I think, just because they have basic understanding of teleportation magic: which, though it exists in Geneforge, is so unpredictable and difficult that the Shapers have more or less given up on it. The Shapers are better at Shaping. That's it, though. They're more or less one trick ponies. And that, I think, would be their downfall.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Empire vs. The Pact:

The Empire. Don't get me wrong, I think there would be a good fight, but I also think the Empire would completely overwhelm the pact. There's just too many of them. The only chance the pact would have, I think, would be getting a portal pylon (I believe that's what they're called in the Avadon games, it's been a bit since I've played them) literally directly inside of the current leader of the Empire. It seems too implausible. Not impossible maybe, but very, very implausible.

I can't picture The Pact putting up THAT much of a fight. In addition to being a single continent, there is too much infighting and division among nations. Too many individuals, clans, families, brigands, etc. would be willing to assist The Empire.

Also, maybe I'm wrong, but can the mages of Avadon actually create a portal that takes them half-way around the world? Because that is essentially what would be required, here. Unless Avadon is a Pangaea/Panthalassa, it consists only of one continent.

 

 

If the Pact up and out of nowhere decided to attack the Shapers, they would be decimated. Destroyed. Blasted and burned and melted and electrocuted.

No disagreement, there.

 

On the other hand, if the Shapers decided to attack the Pact, they may have a chance to retaliate. The Pact has, quite possibly, the most knowledge of portal and transportation magic. If they could transport assassins into a few major Shaper strongholds, the Shapers would be left leaderless and confused.

Again, can they create a portal that reaches all the way to the other side of the planet?

Shapers would still decimate The Pact. The Pact is much too divided. I cannot emphasize this enough. Too many people would either go neutral or look for some strategic way to get the Shapers to kill Redbeard with minimal damage to Avadon's civilization. On top of that, you have an entire province of rebels. Rebels with a vendetta/Blood Feud against The Pact.

 

Rebels are a different story, though. In the case of the Rebels vs. the Pact, I have a feeling that the nations of the Pact would, quite literally, be razed to the ground, regardless of who attacked who first. The drakons would unleash maybe a score of Unbound, spread across the continent, and, barring any miracles, the Unbound would do their work astonishingly well.

Prettymuch goes for any side, regardless of any and all circumstances. OOOOOOOOOHHHHHH EVEN WORSE. IF (and that's a massive if) the Unbound have any problems with an expedient takeover, they could get their hands on Empire/Avernite necromancy, so any that are killed... Man, Unbound Shades, wouldn't that be a nightmare. An Unbound Lich? Forget about it, the world is over (and they definitely WOULD get their hands on Empire/Avernite necromancy once they decimate it)

 

The Empire has serious competency issues. In E3, for example, each of the 5 monster plagues was being mishandled badly until the Surface Explorers turned up. The Dervish in Kriszan wasn't mch concerned with the Slimes, the Anama in Shayder were sorta on the ball, but were busy dealing with the symptom and had alienated all the wizards, including the one whose help is needed to deal with the cause. You have to bribe an official in Sharimik to get the Troglodyte mission. They've got a successful Empire general fighting the golems, only the officials in Gale won't have anything to do with him and just hide in their city.

This is not an entirely fair assessment. The plagues occurred in Valorim, which is frontier land with a limited number of Imperial soldiers. We're more or less told (not in exact terms) that the Empire is stretched, incompetent, and indifferent on Valorim, which makes it an easy place for free spirits to live in (relatively speaking, of course), and even mages can study in peace, without government approval, in out-of-the-way places. (Had this not been true, then the story of A3 would have ended very early)

Granted, I have only played the Demo (won't be getting the first trilogy until Christmas, probably) so I only know of the Slime and Roach ones. Krizsan had the needed scouts, but the Slime Pit was hidden in the mountains (behind a fake wall, game wise). It's possible (if not likely) story-wise, that the Avernite scouts were only able to find The Slime Pits due to their familiarity with caverns. Of course, you can also find The Slime Pits via the directions of that mage in the Amber Tower. The bandits were not a high priority for the scouts nor the Imperial soldier commanding them (and then there was that useless imperial soldier at the bar)

In the case of the roaches, they lacked the manpower needed to scout for the Filth Factory-- the sickness had overwhelmed them (in a way, it was a good thing-- illness was the only thing preventing the imperial soldiers of Bigail from killing the Avernites on the spot)

 

Also, while working on the up-and-comping bullet-point comparison, I realized something with quite nasty potential.

In order to make crystal spirals, as well as shaped and puresteel metals, the Shapers need to purify them in chemical plants with highly toxic persistent environmental pollutants (likely culprits including arsenic and mercury, along with other heavy metals and caustic chemicals)

Disposal is a serious issue in the series-- we see poorly ventilated areas with stacked, leaking drums all the time.

Finally, these plants (at least in G1 and 3) are built over/next to rivers. There is some serious potential here for sabotage. We see in G1 just how devastating a leak can be (though in this case it was more like a meltdown)

Considering that the plants seem to be located in inland locations close to rich mineral sources, upriver, and considering that large towns and cities are typically located at or near the mouths of rivers... Well, you see where I'm going with this. Handling of this toxic material over long distances would not be necessary due to the reasons I listed.

You could also have someone sabotage the plant, with G1-level devastating results (this would require a lot of planning mind you-- the staff at the plant would have to be stretched thin, for one)

 

I'm working on a bullet-point run-down of the advantages vs disadvantages on the Empire and Shaper side, BTW.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Empire has serious competency issues. In E3, for example, each of the 5 monster plagues was being mishandled badly until the Surface Explorers turned up. The Dervish in Kriszan wasn't mch concerned with the Slimes, the Anama in Shayder were sorta on the ball, but were busy dealing with the symptom and had alienated all the wizards, including the one whose help is needed to deal with the cause. You have to bribe an official in Sharimik to get the Troglodyte mission. They've got a successful Empire general fighting the golems, only the officials in Gale won't have anything to do with him and just hide in their city.

This is not an entirely fair assessment. The plagues occurred in Valorim, which is frontier land with a limited number of Imperial soldiers. We're more or less told (not in exact terms) that the Empire is stretched, incompetent, and indifferent on Valorim, which makes it an easy place for free spirits to live in (relatively speaking, of course), and even mages can study in peace, without government approval, in out-of-the-way places. (Had this not been true, then the story of A3 would have ended very early)

 

True, I was judging the whole Empire by Valorim there.

 

Also, while working on the up-and-comping bullet-point comparison, I realized something with quite nasty potential.

In order to make crystal spirals, as well as shaped and puresteel metals, the Shapers need to purify them in chemical plants with highly toxic persistent environmental pollutants (likely culprits including arsenic and mercury, along with other heavy metals and caustic chemicals)

Disposal is a serious issue in the series-- we see poorly ventilated areas with stacked, leaking drums all the time.

Finally, these plants (at least in G1 and 3) are built over/next to rivers. There is some serious potential here for sabotage. We see in G1 just how devastating a leak can be (though in this case it was more like a meltdown)

Considering that the plants seem to be located in inland locations close to rich mineral sources, upriver, and considering that large towns and cities are typically located at or near the mouths of rivers... Well, you see where I'm going with this. Handling of this toxic material over long distances would not be necessary due to the reasons I listed.

You could also have someone sabotage the plant, with G1-level devastating results (this would require a lot of planning mind you-- the staff at the plant would have to be stretched thin, for one)

 

Ah, this could be an issue, yeah. Though, don't know how much mercury or arsenic in the water is a real problem...it'd be more than we in the 21st century like, but in places like Victorian London the people would drink from very polluted water and the city still worked.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is not an entirely fair assessment. The plagues occurred in Valorim, which is frontier land with a limited number of Imperial soldiers. We're more or less told (not in exact terms) that the Empire is stretched, incompetent, and indifferent on Valorim, which makes it an easy place for free spirits to live in (relatively speaking, of course), and even mages can study in peace, without government approval, in out-of-the-way places. (Had this not been true, then the story of A3 would have ended very early)

Granted, I have only played the Demo (won't be getting the first trilogy until Christmas, probably) so I only know of the Slime and Roach ones. Krizsan had the needed scouts, but the Slime Pit was hidden in the mountains (behind a fake wall, game wise). It's possible (if not likely) story-wise, that the Avernite scouts were only able to find The Slime Pits due to their familiarity with caverns. Of course, you can also find The Slime Pits via the directions of that mage in the Amber Tower. The bandits were not a high priority for the scouts nor the Imperial soldier commanding them (and then there was that useless imperial soldier at the bar)

In the case of the roaches, they lacked the manpower needed to scout for the Filth Factory-- the sickness had overwhelmed them (in a way, it was a good thing-- illness was the only thing preventing the imperial soldiers of Bigail from killing the Avernites on the spot)

 

Maybe you should play the game first. One could just as easily draw the conclusion that the power and competence of the Empire is habitually overstated and it's successful purely due to a lack of real competitors. When a real competitor - Rentar-Ihrno - shows up, the Empire is unable to deal with it. The plagues exist for months. They overrun Empire cities and fortifications. The Empire is unable to gather an army to address that crisis. They quarantine the entire continent and fix nothing, and it's not because they don't want to. The Empress herself physically moves to the quarantine border! You can't just say that that doesn't count. It's reflective of the Empire's ability to mobilize and deploy its armed forces.

 

Also, while working on the up-and-comping bullet-point comparison, I realized something with quite nasty potential.

In order to make crystal spirals, as well as shaped and puresteel metals, the Shapers need to purify them in chemical plants with highly toxic persistent environmental pollutants (likely culprits including arsenic and mercury, along with other heavy metals and caustic chemicals)

Disposal is a serious issue in the series-- we see poorly ventilated areas with stacked, leaking drums all the time.

Finally, these plants (at least in G1 and 3) are built over/next to rivers. There is some serious potential here for sabotage. We see in G1 just how devastating a leak can be (though in this case it was more like a meltdown)

Considering that the plants seem to be located in inland locations close to rich mineral sources, upriver, and considering that large towns and cities are typically located at or near the mouths of rivers... Well, you see where I'm going with this. Handling of this toxic material over long distances would not be necessary due to the reasons I listed.

You could also have someone sabotage the plant, with G1-level devastating results (this would require a lot of planning mind you-- the staff at the plant would have to be stretched thin, for one)

 

Environmental sabotage wouldn't accomplish anything, though. Shapers, unlike the Empire, don't rely on a healthy ecosystem to produce armies. The Empire could do it, just to be dicks, and it might hurt the civilian population of the Shaper lands, but it wouldn't do anything to the ability of the Shapers to make war. It's irrelevant. A Shaper-engineered plague on Empire lands, on the other hand, could be as effective as we are willing to imagine it being. Doesn't even have to be a dramatic flesh-eating virus or something. A new variety of locust could create devastating famine. The Empire doesn't have the ability to create that kind of weapon, and the Shapers are naturally resistant to logistical damage anyways.

 

If the Pact up and out of nowhere decided to attack the Shapers, they would be decimated. Destroyed. Blasted and burned and melted and electrocuted.

 

On the other hand, if the Shapers decided to attack the Pact, they may have a chance to retaliate. The Pact has, quite possibly, the most knowledge of portal and transportation magic. If they could transport assassins into a few major Shaper strongholds, the Shapers would be left leaderless and confused.

 

What? In what world is the side on the offensive the side that is more likely to be destroyed? That's nonsense. If the Pact has the initiative, prepares, strikes first, then they are going to be much more effective with any strategy than if they're the ones on the defensive. How you think it could be otherwise, I don't know.

 

It doesn't matter, regardless. The Pact is the clear underdog in everything, and would be destroyed.

 

Rebels are a different story, though. In the case of the Rebels vs. the Pact, I have a feeling that the nations of the Pact would, quite literally, be razed to the ground, regardless of who attacked who first. The drakons would unleash maybe a score of Unbound, spread across the continent, and, barring any miracles, the Unbound would do their work astonishingly well.

 

And yet the Shapers can combat the Unbound. The Unbound are an effective weapon, yes, but they do not necessarily win the war. The Shapers fight and can defeat the Rebels. It's an honest struggle between the two. Their relative power is at least roughly comparable.

 

Prettymuch goes for any side, regardless of any and all circumstances. OOOOOOOOOHHHHHH EVEN WORSE. IF (and that's a massive if) the Unbound have any problems with an expedient takeover, they could get their hands on Empire/Avernite necromancy, so any that are killed... Man, Unbound Shades, wouldn't that be a nightmare. An Unbound Lich? Forget about it, the world is over (and they definitely WOULD get their hands on Empire/Avernite necromancy once they decimate it)

 

I don't think you understand how Shaping works or what the Unbound are.

 

 

 

You guys are seriously overestimating the ability of any side to systematically wipe out any other side's high-value targets by teleporting assassins at them. As far as I can remember, teleportation is only ever used that way once, to kill Emperor Hawthorne in A1. And that's Erika doing that, explicitly the most powerful mage in the world, and it's a major production she can only do once. Teleporting ninja assassins is simply not something that anyone has. The Empire cannot teleport dudes with impunity. The degree to which they can do it at all when there isn't a fixed installation at both ends is highly questionable. Teleporting assasins are not of strategic relevance. You will note that the Empire doesn't do anything like this when they're fighting Avernum.

 

 

I think the Empire's teleportation ability in general is being greatly overstated here. They teleport troops to Avernum, but the number of troops they can do this with is very explicitly very limited and very explicitly contains an abnormally high concentration of the Empire's wizards. The teleportation of troops to Avernum is a logistical necessity for the Empire, not a great advantage in strategic or tactical movement. They cannot get to Avernum any other way. They don't go on to teleport straight to the Castle. There's a bottleneck front north of Dharmon, for chrissakes! If the Empire was seriously able to teleport with impunity, it would have been doing so.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What? In what world is the side on the offensive the side that is more like'y to be destroyed? That's nonsense. If the Pact has the initiative, prepares, strikes first, then they are going to be much more effective with any strategy than if they're the ones on the defensive. How you think it could be otherwise, I don't know.

 

It's just the fact that the Pact is so much weaker than literally every other group, I believe. Regardless of preparation, unless the Pact would manage to seriously cripple the Shapers in the first move, the Shaper's retaliation would be devastating. It'd be like... Hawaii, for example (ONLY Hawaii, not the rest of the US) going to war against a major power like China. Not counting a mass-nuking of the entire country (Which the Shapers would likely even be able to manipulate to their advantage via charged creations and the like) or a mass assassination of almost EVERY political/military leader, I think the tiny group of islands wouldn't stand a chance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's not just that The Pact is weaker. Their infighting and lack of unity is a MAJOR factor as well, that I think perhaps you aren't taking into consideration. (unless you are including disunity in your "weaker" label). No offense.

You have an entire province full of rebels, just for starters. Whereas both the Shapers and the Empire are a unified, cohesive, well-coordinated group.

Too much disunity, too many people who hate Redbeard, who, despite the Empire's brutality, would see the invasion as an opportunity to get rid of Redbeard once and for all, or for a power grab/fame/etc. (or both) if they cooperate with The Empire.

One of The Pact's best assets is the dragon(s), who aren't exactly going to tolerate an invasion by an empire whose goal is to extirpate them. Eventually they'll join in active combat. While this would make a considerable difference, the dragon(s) won't be nearly enough to repel The Empire-- for one, they probably wouldn't join the battle until it's already too late. Second, they would become victims to The Pact's disunity just like Redbeard-- along with those who covet his treasure.

 

Not counting a mass-nuking of the entire country (Which the Shapers would likely even be able to manipulate to their advantage via charged creations and the like)

No way. The Shapers don't have that level of destructive power, shaping or spell-wise. They do have the technology to unleash an armageddon of toxic and caustic gas, particles, and chemicals, however. (Though this would require the laborious building of a resource-intensive installation *purification plant* on the Avadnian continent) The Empire, however, does have the ability to do this (as do the Avernites), but this would require the same-- in addition to all of that magic being detectable from miles away.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For the first bit, yes, I did mean to include the fighting between the nations. Sorry if I caused confusion there!

 

But for that second part, I didn't mean that the Shapers would be the ones dropping the bombs, so to speak, that would be the Empire. Rather, I meant that if there /were/ nuclear weapons used /against/ the Shapers, I think the Shapers would make creations that would thrive in the fallout, either cleaning it to make the lands hospitable again or twisting it around to make the creations more powerful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As far as I can tell there are two main arguments here:

 

1: Spell or ability X, if used in exactly the right way, is so powerful or undefendable or otherwise amazing that we can judge the whole conflict just based on that. (Repeat for various flavours and permutations of X.)

2: No.

 

At a certain point, isn't this sort of like asking if Zeus or Odin would win in a fight? We can try to imagine it, we can interpret it in different ways, invoke mythological references, dig up historical information, hell, look for some Marvel comic where they fought (there must have been one) -- but ultimately, these are two different entities that neither share a common context nor anything quantifiable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it's fair to take both the Empire and the Shapers at their fighting peak and restrict the fighting to just those two participants, Violence Island-style.So, the Empire doesn't have to worry about Avernum or Darkside Loyalists or Vahnatai, and the Shapers have the full creation roster at their disposal.

No, they wouldn't. They were at their peak pre-G3, so they wouldn't have any kyshakks or wingbolts. Unless you are speaking purely power-wise without consideration of manpower-- in which case we have no way of determining that since we know nothing of any possible magical or technological advancements on the surface after A3.

 

Another rule I think we should adhere to:

When it comes to magic, we should limit it to story/plot-wise magic/power, and not game mechanics.

One of the exceptions of course being encounters/battle formations/units/etc. That and the availability of bows/arrows in the Geneforge world (they are replaced with the superior but more resource-intensive batons. I say superior because story-wise, they appear to be used, and have similar properties to handguns/bullets.) In comparison, I would not use the lack of polearms in the Geneforge world as an argument (helmets don't exist as items, either, but we are plainly told that characters do wear helmets, and it's also shown in the art)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

 

I don't recall who says that, but having recently played through the remake of Avernum 2, I can say that Rentar herself certainly doesn't buy it. She sees herself as obviously the most powerful mage alive and maybe the most powerful who's ever lived.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I see that in the free-for-all, Shapers vs. Empire vs. Pact, I am the only person that voted for the Pact. I think the Pact stands a better chance in that kind of free-for-all than it does against a single major enemy (which after all is what Dheless represents, and A3: Warborn is gonna be all about that struggle). Avadon is used to fending off multiple foes; that's what Avadon thrives on. Roust 'em out, lock 'em up, invade their minds and send 'em home broken forever. Honestly who in the Empire or in Shaper lands is scarier or more righteous than that Eye in the Avadon dungeon who oversees the torture sessions? She's like a medieval inquisitor.

 

And suppose they get some captured Shapers into the dungeon and learn Shaping secrets? The whole war could turn on that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh yeah... but there's nothing in what he says that implies that someone else can top Rentar. There's no subtext that the uber-duper arch mage is gonna wake up later. He's just conveying info because it's his job. Rentar is powerful; Rentar is awake.

She.

 

So, I'm guessing you haven't read Iglit's actual dialogue.

 

Iglit's words very clearly state that Rentar-Ihrno is the most powerful Ihrno awake. This is in Avit, a newly awakened city, where people talk about the Vahnatai yet to reawaken. The context is pretty clear.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

She.

 

So, I'm guessing you haven't read Iglit's actual dialogue.

 

I read the dialogue when I played the game. I don't have the dialogue in front of me right now, cuz I ain't playing it.

 

Iglit's words very clearly state that Rentar-Ihrno is the most powerful Ihrno awake. This is in Avit, a newly awakened city, where people talk about the Vahnatai yet to reawaken. The context is pretty clear.

 

I don't agree. As I said, her words, as I recall, are quite factual. The impression I received was she's merely giving you the current state of affairs with no illuminating context beyond.

 

One could of course say that the Vahnatai don't want you to know anything they don't tell you, and so we could speculate that there's someone greater than Rentar out there. But there is no evidence for any such person.

 

And if there WERE such an arch-mage, Rentar would know it. And Rentar doesn't, or she wouldn't so casually and Muhammad Ali-like tell you that she's the greatest.

Edited by eaintree
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mea culpa: it's actually not Iglit who says that, it's Oth-Ihrno. "Rentar is the greatest of the Ihrnos awake." Of note is that Oth-Ihrno is also an Ihrno, and works several rooms away from Rentar-Ihrno, so he's speaking on a subject he has expert knowledge of.

 

However, I'm still not sure how to read that without interpreting "awake" as a delimiter. Consider:

 

1) Texas is the largest U.S. state.

Factually incorrect.

 

2) Texas in the largest U.S. state in the 48 contiguous states.

Factually correct.

 

3) Alaska is the largest U.S. state.

Factually correct.

 

4) Alaska is the largest U.S. state outside the 48 contiguous states.

Factually correct, but awfully misleading, as absent a (highly) specific context, it clearly implies there is a bigger state within the 48 contiguous states.

 

If Rentar is actually, at that moment, the strongest Ihrno period, it means that Oth-Ihrno is being misleading, as statement #4 above, on a subject he has to know as well as anyone. I find that a lot harder to swallow than the possibility that Rentar grows tremendously in power in the years of her obsessive vengeance-seeking after A2.

 

I'm not sure why we would expect Rentar to talk about any Ihrno who rivalled her in power, and who hasn't even been awakened yet, given her obsessive focus on other things.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oth-Ihrno's line gives me pause. However I would expect Rentar to mention any rivals she has among the Vahnatai mages, and for a simple reason: she's the kind of committed zealot who believes that everything she does is for the good of her people; all the destruction she causes in the later Avernum games is all for the greater good of the Vahnatai no matter how many corpses it takes to get there. And she clearly has that attitude already in A2 (the remake is what's fresh in my mind, I played the originals like 10 years ago but I recall her dialogue being much the same). She's entitled to her massive arrogance because only she can do what's needed. If someone else could do it, she would have to acknowledge them and say so.

 

In any case: although the other Ihrno's line can be seen that way, it doesn't change the fact that there's no Vahnatai mage greater than Rentar who plays any role in any Avernum game. So she is, de facto, their greatest mage. If someone wanted to write fanfic where someone out there is the One Vahnatai To Rule Them All, that would be cool, but it isn't germane to the question of who would win a war between the 3 game worlds. In the game world that Jeff wrote, there's no one beyond Rentar.

 

And there doesn't need to be, does there? Rentar is plenty powerful on her own and could do plenty of damage to the Shapers and the Pact without someone behind her to play Sauron to her Melisandre, if you will.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In any case: although the other Ihrno's line can be seen that way, it doesn't change the fact that there's no Vahnatai mage greater than Rentar who plays any role in any Avernum game. So she is, de facto, their greatest mage.

Um, no. She is their greatest mage that appears in a game. The evidence from A3, and even moreso from A4, would suggest that at those times she might well be their greatest mage, period. But years pass in between games -- about 10 between A2 and A3, and about 22 between A3 and A4 (those are from in-game sources). So, they do not dictate the state of things in A2. And while there is plenty of evidence in A2 that she is very strong, there is no evidence that there is nobody stronger. Almost nobody addresses the possibility one way or another, and the person who does so most directly, Oth-Ihrno, clearly implies that an unawakened Ihrno might shift the rankings.

 

If you want to say that, in general, she's the greatest Vahnatai mage we know of -- based on the evidence in A3 and A4 -- fine. But at the time of A2? The evidence doesn't support that claim.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This thread is about an intergame war. We can't use someone we don't know about in that war. And I don't see Oth-Ihrno's single line as evidence. There's no conversation option to ask him what he means when he says that, so there's no implication beyond the bald statement.

 

"I can build weapons greater than hydrogen bombs." Okay? If I say that and never elaborate in the slightest, you have no reason to give what I said any credence.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's no reason to suspect Oth-Ihrno of lying. What he says is perfectly plausible given what we know, unlike a hydrogen bomb claim. On the other hand, there is literally no evidence that what he says is incorrect. The only thing I've heard you cite is a very disputable interpretation of what Rentar-Ihrno doesn't say. If you're not willing to admit Oth-Ihrno's straightforward comment as evidence, you certainly can't treat your subjective interpretation of something that simply isn't mentioned in the course of Rentar's fairly short dialogue tree as evidence, either.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fine, there's no evidence either way. There *might* be someone more powerful than Rentar. There might not be.

 

I suppose if we wanna apply Occam's Razor - "all else being equal, the simplest explanation is likely true" - the simplest explanation would be that Oth-Ihrno means that some unawakened mage is more powerful than her. If all else were equal, that would be the answer. But the value of what Oth-Ihrno says and doesn't say vs. what Rentar says and doesn't say is totally subjective. In the end, my gut feeling is that I don't buy it that there's someone above her. Subjective impression.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For what it's worth, in A2:CS even Rentar-Ihrno only claims to be the strongest mage in her own lands:

 

"Of course. Our kind is spread all throughout the deep parts of the world. We have many lands. I only know that I am the strongest mage in these lands. I am only probably the strongest vahnatai mage of all."
Link to comment
Share on other sites

That quote contradicts itself? "I am only the strongest around here / I am probably the strongest of all." What's with the weird placement of "only"?

 

Anyway, I don't think the Rentar question is really hugely interesting vis-a-vis the overall question of who wins the game-world war. Which to my mind, the only way to really resolve would be for someone to write a good fanfic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That quote contradicts itself? "I am only the strongest around here / I am probably the strongest of all." What's with the weird placement of "only"?

 

She's saying the only thing she knows for sure is that she's the strongest mage in her lands, so (in her opinion) it's only probable, not certain, that she's the strongest Vahnatai mage anywhere.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rentar is egotistical, with a high opinion of herself. Clearly everyone knows she's powerful, but that doesn't mean everyone agrees with her assessment of it. Based on Oth-Ihrno's statement, he does not. He did not say "the strongest Ihrno in our tribe"; he said "the strongest Ihrno awake," which is a different delimiter entirely, considering how much of the Olgai tribe appears to be not yet awakened in A2.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, he disagrees. Sure, there might be a bigger shark than Rentar somewhere out there in the wide, wide world. But this cannot be proven. Your reading of that single line is understood, I think, by all.

 

Might I suggest that it would be more fun if you took your point for granted and proceeded to tell us about this mystery mage and how they might take part in an Avadon-Pact-Shaper war?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm sorry. I didn't want to say this. Truly, I didn't. But you've forced my hand with your relentless logic, and I needs must reveal all, politics be damned...

 

There is no Vahnatai mage beyond Rentar. There never was. Oth-Ihrno is just a lackey; he talks a good game, but he doesn’t walk the walk. NO ONE is beyond Rentar, and when she learns what I've done, she will scream for my head. I fear it, yet I must speak...

 

Last night, you see, I couldn’t sleep. And finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to know the truth.

 

I teleported to Vahnatai lands and made a mad dash to each of the caves, awakening the sleeping Vahnatai mages whether they were ready or not. Risky? Oh yes. But if you want truth, you gotta put some skin in the game.

 

Once each mage was awake and had had some coffee, I sat them down and showed them The Matrix. And then I asked each of them a simple question:

 

“Is Rentar The One? Or are YOU The One?”

 

Vahnatai, as you know, cannot lie about something of such import as this. And each mage, although they tried to make their case – and I heard each of them with steel-minded impartiality – finally gave it up: none of them can match Rentar’s magical prowess, her ideological fervor, her hot-blooded and chilling passion, entwined with her self-proclaimed destiny to lead her race into a new era.

 

Once I had transcribed their reports, I went directly to the council at Olgai, confronted them with the evidence. You would not BELIEVE how they tried to hedge, tried to sit on their hands, tried to refer me to this or that fine point of Vahnatai jurisprudence. But my resolve never wavered: I HAD TO HEAR THEM SAY IT!

 

And finally, they did. It was very enlightening to see how deeply Rentar is distrusted, even hated by those she claims to place beyond all moral considerations. The council begged me to keep my findings private. Glantris-Bok tried to bribe me, but when I showed him that I already had 30,000 gold, he knew it was pointless. Prossis-Bok – I admit it! – she nearly got me. She got down on her knees and wept. She wept tears of crystalline black that sparkled in a thousand colors as they fell, splashing on the ground and dividing each into four separate smaller crystalline tears, all of which were Hasted, and they surrounded me, dozens of them, jabbing me with their disturbing, symbolic logic, its edge as jagged and ruthless as any waveblade. Those that could not squeeze in simply waited beyond the ring, hitting the space bar each time their turn arrived…

 

Methought then I saw a distant madness on the edge of my vision, and felt the tug of echoing unreason their crystal-souled kin had suffered in Garzahd’s the Noob’s far-off fortress…

 

…but then I came back to myself. I am stronger than that, I said, silently: I am of the Black Fortress! Gripping my scarab tight, its claws embedded so deeply within my skin that we might have been lovers in another life, I uttered a prayer to those twin, clashing forces that guide my lifeblood: the Gods of nature and of the Hunt…

 

…My eyes cleared, and I looked about me quickly. The Olgai council, white-knuckled gripping the walls, stared at me as at some Infernal they had struck with their mightiest weapon, only to see it inflict naught but one single point of damage. Prossis-Bok lay prostate on the floor, sobbing helplessly: the sound, I tell you, bespoke a misery which would have rent any human heart asunder… and there was melody in the misery, too; a stately, musical march which would have turned Beethoven seven shades of purple with envy.

 

It was a sound we were never meant to hear, my friends. But I'd dived deep within, and prevailed, and been granted immunity to her keen wails for twelve, nay, fifteen rounds…

 

I stood tall, and faced them. “Our peoples cannot live together in this world,” said I, “with such misdirection as this in the midst. My people must know whom they face. You may not trust me today… but your children will thank me. And please know that I do this not for myself, for your children’s children will ne’er even know my name, because in the sequel everyone will have forgotten it because come on, we can’t name the previous game’s PC; that would be totally unfair to everyone who ponied up their 20 bucks for Jeff instead of illegally downloading it for free.”

 

As they puzzled over my strange words, I seized the moment, leapt into the portal, and arrived here and now, escaped only and alone to tell the tale…

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...