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Every Spiderweb Character Ever, Ranked From Worst to Best


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It's explicitly stated throughout X3 that Khoth was forced to serve the Empire. As he himself puts it: "I despise humankind, especially the clump of petty monkeys that calls itself the Empire." Khoth is pretty much amoral, and appears to be less capable of sympathy for Avernum than even Athron or Sulfras, but I think the rumours that he was conspiring with the Empire can be dismissed as just that.

 

(Also, since he appears in X3 as well as The Za-Khazi Run, he definitely wasn't killed.)

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While I'll admit Exile probably did more to shape my views on what dragons should be, more and more in retrospect I find it hard to respect them in the face of their arrogance.

 

Like... dude, Khoth? Your superiority complex became clown spooning-ly ridiculous around the time those "petty monkeys" obliterated your entire race minus the tiniest handful, and made you their dog for a good many years. This is why I find myself respecting Athron the most - she has a firm grip on reality while her fellows live in abject denial.

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Despite your boredom, you gave pretty high ratings! Lots of 10's and very few low ratings. I'm definitely intrigued. A few ratings that diverge a lot from what other people thought, too. Nothing wrong with having different ideas, of course.

 

I'm curious in particular what's behind your high ratings of Carol Hamer, Ahonar, Learned Pinner, and Bennhold.

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You gave a 10 to litalia. And a 7 to khyrik? I am officially intriged. If you could shed a bit of light on that one.

But i agree trying to rate the characters has us anylise them and when we analyse we find flaws. Some of my liked characters had low ratings when i realised they were bad-ish

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I'm a little bored by Jeff's style; there are so many people who could have made this list if they weren't just fancy-titled Bobs. And some, in my opinion, who made the list despite being the very same. Nevertheless, I still evaluate each character on their own merits. And Jeff definitely has some great ones.

 

To answer people's inquiries:

 

Calor Hamer - I think what I like about Carol is that I can see myself in her in a realistic way. It's hard to put a finger on, but she's an early character that really sets the tone for the common Avernite. She's caring, hardworking, and healing. She may be entirely superfluous to the games, but she makes the caves seem a lot more real to me.

 

Ahonar - Okay, to be fair, I'm somewhat using Ahonar as a stand-in for the Anama writ-large. But only barely. His ability to negotiate power with the Governor of Shayder, his sermons and refreshing ideology, and his

 

Learned Pinner - This one was mostly based on the dynamic changes between G1 and G2. While the Awakened could be described as a hippy tribe in both games, I see Learned Pinner take bold action to actually be able to defend that ideal. Plus, Learned Pinner has a lot of great worldbuilding information that I highly value.

 

Bennhold - Bennhold is one of the greatest loose ends to the Geneforge series. He gets two provinces of build up (admittedly, the bandit quest in the Mera-Tev was basically identical to the one in the Storm Plains, but still) and then comes out as actually representing a different strand of narrative that's built through the game, too. The natives of Terrestia, those who the Shapers conquered centuries ago, are really unexplored. So to have a fully fledged native from the Dera Reaches, leading a gang of native nomads, be the king of the criminal underworld of Terrestia is extremely fascinating. There's so much more about Bennhold I want to know, even though his screen time is already so packed.

 

Litalia - Litalia is the only character who is on three different sides of the war. She wiped out the Takers as a Shaper, created the (human) Geneforge as a Rebel, and saved the Trakovites from the brink of extinction. She starts as a common Jeff trope - the power-hungry mage who sees all others as inferior - and transforms slowly back into a more human form. She learns to smile; she abandons Shaping. She's probably the most dynamic of all of Jeff's characters.

 

Khyryk - I'm actually revoking my rating of Khyryk, since I haven't played G3 all the way through and I know that's where he shines. I wish I could have seen him in G5, though.

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Who do you think should have been on the list, or shouldn't be on it? (Still willing to add if there's a good argument.)

 

It's interesting to see how different people interpret "character." Based on the above, Goldengirl seems to look at them a lot in terms of their function, whereas some others like me are more likely to look at their persona. The last line about Litalia really points to this difference: I would never think to consider her dynamic because while we see her in three very different states, we never see her in the process of changing. But there's no question that she fulfills three very different functions across the series, which is dynamic in its own way.

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To be honest the litalia case is relativelly simple. Rebel without a cause, even if on g3 she appears power hungry. Something other than power tipped her to the rebelion. In all honesty all i see is a woman with strong potential and great fire that needs to activelly fight for something. At points its even relatable. But i can't like her, nor really respect her much. She has no honour. Which is a good thing really as a leader bent on winning. But i cant respect it.

So there's a chance Golden Girl is not *just* looking at the characters fuction. Else miranda would have a lower rating and ghaldrin a higher.

 

I think we all vote at least partly on how much we like a character.

 

On another note for the exact same reasons you wrote i strongly dislike benhold. First because he is a desert nomad seems weird that he would rule the underworld of all other areas outside dera. But i suppose italians at least to a degree held the underworld in american eaat coast so... Second the game doesnt explain the previous inhabitants and their cultures. Benhold only serves to further fustrate me on that aspect. Lastly I'd much rather see the natives going for something other than banditry. Some partisan movement for instance, self defence corp, etc... Benhold had potential but fell short. I guess if it started on g4 there could be a decent buildup.

 

Learned Pinner, hmm i have mixed feelings about her. Mostly varying from pitty to admiration.

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Oh, I don't think there's anyone I'd necessarily change on the list at this point. Anaximander was the character I was thinking about in terms of someone who might not be important, but he manages to do more than just be a Bob, so I'm not worried.

 

re: dynamic characters. I understand what you're saying, but the in-game narratives she gives about how she changes fill in the gap enough for me.

 

What am I looking at in terms of my ratings? Function, good writing, character development, the memory test, and some degree of how much I liked them or not. The question of likability can only help, though, not hurt. I like Carol and Tor, which helps them. I don't like Jennell, Shima, or Nathalie, which doesn't hurt them.

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Finally remembered who Kyass is, but still disappointed that he's basically just a copy-paste libertarian.

 

A thought I had on High Councilor Shema: he's always spoken of as the wise leader of the Shaper Council. He's also very old. I get the impression that he's been the leader of the Shaper Council since G1. So, I find that he's actually supremely incompetent, botching the Sucia Island cleanup, somehow missing Drypeak, conducting genocidal policies, promising to turn the world into a "husk" as long as they still rule it, and failing to negotiate an earlier peace when it became clear that total victory was far from sight and very uncertain concurrent with the ongoing destruction that tore most of Terrestia to shreds and created a huge refugee problem.

 

Time and time again, the Council under Shema proved to be profoundly ineffective. Wise leader, indeed.

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Thanks everyone who participated! We now have 10 sets of rankings which I think is a good number to pause at. I'm going to do some maths and will be back later with analysis, and some initial top and bottom lists for particular categories. The main list I may try for daily posts counting up or down later this summer.

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The main list I may try for daily posts counting up or down later this summer.

 

So you'll dispense tiny bits of meaningless user-generated information in a series of small daily increments to keep us gullible readers slavishly returning again and again to read your clickbait and boost your ad revenues? #SlartyDoesBuzzfeed

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I was hoping more for 538, but I guess I'll have to settle for that. So, let's start with some basic info about the ratings themselves.

 

Mean ratings fell between 5.0 and 5.7 for for most raters, though one made it all the way up to 6.9.

 

There were relatively minor differences in average ratings between the different series. In general, Nethergate and Geneforge characters received slightly higher ratings, while characters from Avadon and those first appearing in the Second Avernum Trilogy received slightly lower ratings. Several raters gave much higher ratings (1-2 points higher on average) to Geneforge characters than to characters from other series.

 

For all of these differences, because no one was forced to rate all characters, it is hard to know if they reflect an overall difference in opinion, a different use of the rating scale, or rather a difference in what characters they chose to rate. For example, many raters might have been more likely to rate characters they had positive memories of than those who didn't leave much of an impression. In at least a few cases, these differences do not align with public proclamations about who likes what games. For example, of all raters, Tyranicus gave the lowest average ratings to Nethergate characters, while I gave lower than average ratings to characters that originated in the First Avernum Trilogy. Again, there are many possible explanations for why we might see that.

 

I have weighted the final averages slightly to soften the impact of outlying ratings. This is not because I think the input of outlying ratings should be reduced, but rather because our sample size is very small; a larger sample size would likely include a greater variety of outlying ratings coming from a greater variety of viewpoints. So, I have homogenized the results slightly, although the impact of this was quite low -- averaging 0.0 to 0.1 per character, and never greater than 0.5.

 

In addition to these averages, I also calculated unweighted average deviations to get an idea of the degree of disagreement or controversy for different characters and groupings.

 

Average Rating for All Characters: 5.51

 

In terms of specific games -- and keep in mind this sorts characters according to the game they first appeared in, which is not always the game they had the greatest presence in (Garzahd sorts into A1, Learned Pinner to G1, etc.) -- the rankings look like this:

 

AVERAGE RATINGS BY GAME OF FIRST APPEARANCE

 

TOP

1. Geneforge 2 (6.54)

2. Geneforge 1 (6.34)

3. Avernum 2 (6.04)

 

BOTTOM

1. Avernum 4 (4.65)

2. Geneforge 5 (4.81)

3. Avadon 1 (4.82)

 

DISAGREEMENT BY GAME OF FIRST APPEARANCE

 

MOST DISAGREEMENT

1. Geneforge 5 (1.12)

2. Geneforge 3 (0.95)

3. Avadon 1 (0.91)

 

LEAST DISAGREEMENT

1. Avernum 4 (0.42)

2. Avernum 5 (0.47)

3. Avernum 2 (0.63)

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Now let's take a quick look at the categories and flags I used.

 

AVERAGE RATINGS BY CATEGORY OR FLAG

 

TOP

1. Servile (6.33)

2. Vahnatai (6.28)

3. Shaper (6.08)

4. Faction Leader, Joinable (5.90)

 

BOTTOM

1. Clerical (3.66)

2. Drakon (4.90)

3. PC (5.06)

 

 

DISAGREEMENT BY CATEGORY OF FLAG

 

MOST

1. Faction Leader, Not Joinable (0.99)

2. Clerical (0.96)

3. Shaper (0.84)

 

LEAST

1. Vahnatai (0.51)

2. Backstory Characters (0.57)

3. Servile (0.59)

4. Drakon (0.61)

 

These were not too interesting and may reflect the narrow selection of major characters for, e.g., serviles and vahnatai more than anything. It is probably not a coincidence though that clerics do so poorly.

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New argument! Who is your favorite character not included on the list?

 

For me, it's the boatmaker in Cotra in E/A1 who talks like a pirate and wears an eyepatch, but when confronted, admits that he wasn't actually exiled for piracy.

 

(Note that this isn't an argument for including faux-pirate in the rankings. I can't even remember his name, so he's not very noteworthy to the series overall. I just remember him fondly.)

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New argument! Who is your favorite character not included on the list?

 

Oh, lots of very minor characters in Jeff's games are interesting; despite having no real gameplay or plot significance, there's some little hook that makes me curious to know about their lives. The first one that comes to mind is the shaper working with the Awakened in G2...Carnelian, I'm pretty sure her name was (I remember because after meeting her I thought "Oh! So those gloves belong to YOU!"). She's not a plot figure like Tuldaric, but still a real shaper who decided to defect and aid the Awakened. How did she come to make that decision? And so on, from Pentil to Formello to Shadow Valley Fort.

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My answer is probably Iglit, the Vahnatai ponder in Avit (and later, ZKR) who comes up with the legal loophole that allows you to see the Olgai Council. The Exile series was all about smaller, weaker figures finding ways to outmaneuver mainstream society in the service of their idealistic values. Iglit's "trick" exemplifies this, and it perfectly sets up the Exile-Olgai relations that follow -- the friendly ones in X2, but also Exile's pivot to defend Valorim in X3, that ends with Exile, the weakest of the three nations, having outmaneuvered the others. Also, Iglit paces while philosophizing, which I can identify with.

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