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Ages of Dragons


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While I was looking up the Linda/mages question, I started looking at my EE notes from years ago, and I did some more searching through game dumps and scripts. Up till now, the biggest chronological discrepancies we've noticed have been (1) when the First Expedition took place, and (2) when the important mages were banished. Those can be sussed out at least somewhat by looking at which claims are more consistent and more prevalent.

 

We also knew there were wild inconsistencies in the gender of the dragons. But I've now noticed a discrepancy that looks harder to sort: how old are the dragons?

 

The answers are all over the place. Options include:

 

1000 years or so - Motrax in X1*

800-900 years - Ostoth in X2

500 years or so - Athron in X2

100-200 years - Athron in A2:CS

 

*X1 being the notation used when E1 and A1 have the same information, etc.

 

Some of those answers make more sense depending on whether you think the dragons met the Vahnatai before the Resting or not -- that's hinted at differently in different games. The last answer seems pretty out of place, and is one of many great arguments for not giving preference to what the remakes say, when there is a conflict of information.

 

There are further discrepancies about their heritage. Though widely referred to as siblings, the most explicit statements are:

 

All from the same brood - Athron and Sulfras in X2; Athron in A1

Siblings, but different broods - Book in X3

Not related, 'siblings' is friendly term - Motrax and Khoth in X1 (but contradicted by Khoth in ZKR)

 

And there are yet further discrepancies about whether Motrax was born in the caves (A:EFTP), came to the caves on his own before the other dragons had to flee the Empire (X1), or was "banished" there, presumably in flight from the Empire (A2:CS). The especially silly thing is that all three conflicting stories come from Motrax himself.

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Maybe what we can take from all this is that dragons are habitually secretive and constitutionally incapable of giving accurate information about themselves. Given their history with the Empire (probably), it makes a little bit of sense.

 

—Alorael, who also imagines that remembering your exact relationship as little nestling might get hard somewhere between one and ten centuries later.

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Hahahaha. This is almost as bad as Litalia's backstory! At least with her, one can imagine the character is deliberately spinning her own tale. As Alorael says, though, maybe the dragons are also deliberately obfuscating.

 

It will be interesting to see if the dragons say anything in the A3-remake that would clarify whether the A2CS age was a mistake or a deliberate retcon (i.e. will Jeff double down on the short lifespan or revert to original numbers?).

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Sort of as Alo suggests, I kind of got the feeling that some of the continuity "errors" in the Avernum series were intentional. Erika claims that she created the light-emitting mushrooms and the food mushrooms, but I'm pretty sure someone somewhere else says that she didn't really — the impression that I got was that it was credit-claiming and ego. A lot of the other archmage inconsistencies strike me as being in a similar vein, and perhaps the dragon inconsistencies are deliberate obfuscation as suggested above.

 

You probably can't account for everything in this fashion, but it probably gets a lot of it.

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Erika claims that she created the light-emitting mushrooms and the food mushrooms, but I'm pretty sure someone somewhere else says that she didn't really — the impression that I got was that it was credit-claiming and ego.

 

IIRC, Solberg credits Erika with making all the useful plants EXCEPT the luminous fungus, which he says predated even the First Expedition.

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Yeah, for that kind of error, where you could imagine an actual dispute, I think that makes sense. However, I don't think Erika can be blamed here. It appears to be a very deliberate Exile/Avernum change. To wit:

 

Solberg, X1: "It was her that created the strain of mushrooms that grow quickly and are so nourishing, and other special plants as well... She created the trees that grow in stone, so we could have a meager supply of wood. She summoned down several plants from above, and changed them so they'd grow down here. The one thing she didn't make was the glowing fungus on the cave ceilings. It's amazing, magical stuff, and was already here when the Empire found these caves."

 

Erika, E1: "The mushrooms down here, that are edible, nourishing, and grow with only the slightest light? I created them! The worms down here should worship me! They owe me their lives! But do they appreciate me? No! The insects!"

 

Erika, A1: "These passages wouldn't even be lit if I hadn't created the fungi that emit light, and I don't even get credit! And don't get me started on the mushrooms!" She sighs... "The mushrooms down here? That are edible, nourishing, and grow with only the slightest light? I created them! The pathetic specimens down here should worship me! They owe me their lives! But do they appreciate me? No!"

 

This seems to have been a conscious change, since Erika herself notes the discrepancy in credit. But E2 vs A2 provides the real evidence here:

 

Patrick, E2: "It is their magic that created the glowing fungus that gives us light, and thus life."

Patrick, A2: "It is our magic that created the glowing fungus that gives us light, and thus life."

 

There are also these two lines, added in A2:

 

Description, A2: "The massive cavern is lovely, in an austere sort of way. You can see clearly in the green light cast by the glowing lichen on the ceiling. The lichen was created by the Tower of Magi years ago, using strange magics. It makes life in Avernum possible."

 

Description, A2: "This room contains gardening supplies and tools. One of the Tower of Magis primary claims to fame is that most of the plants that help Avernum survive, including the glowing fungus on the cave walls, were created in the gardens here."

 

Erika isn't especially humble, but she does strike me as someone who values truth and accuracy. One likely compromise, which I favor, is that the glowing fungus did already exist, but in a dimmer, sparser form -- notably, several descriptions note that it is dimmer in the lands of the Vahnatai than in Avernum. So Erika might have modified it to improve visibility. That means that she didn't create it from scratch, but she did create a new strain of fungus, which -- I mean, isn't that what create means in this context anyway? I can't imagine anyone just casts Summon Fungus and gets a fully-formed athena-shroom. They aren't Shapers.

 

It does seem unlikely that it was completely nonexistant prior to her arrival given that Micah reports some human organization even before he came down.

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Erika isn't especially humble, but she does strike me as someone who values truth and accuracy. One likely compromise, which I favor, is that the glowing fungus did already exist, but in a dimmer, sparser form -- notably, several descriptions note that it is dimmer in the lands of the Vahnatai than in Avernum. So Erika might have modified it to improve visibility. That means that she didn't create it from scratch, but she did create a new strain of fungus, which -- I mean, isn't that what create means in this context anyway? I can't imagine anyone just casts Summon Fungus and gets a fully-formed athena-shroom. They aren't Shapers.

 

Her reactions to the Vahnatai in E2/A2 also seem to suggest an awareness that goes beyond what the rest of Avernum knew at that time... perhaps there's a connection.

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