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Geneforge Tips and Tricks

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Hello, all. I'm sure that some of you have, at some point, been frustrated by particularly obnoxious parts of Geneforge (cough podlings cough), whether you're playing the original or Geneforge 5. Keeping that in mind, I have some valuable tips and tricks to help you bamboozle your way to Geneforging success.

1. Bypassing mines and pylons and just about everything else.



Pylons are well known in later Geneforge games for providing a nice, shiny way for you to instantly kill yourself. Mines are encountered in every Geneforge game, and can be extraordinarily annoying to even experienced players. Keeping that in mind, some tips. To bypass mines of many sorts, as well as pylons, there exists a generally successful technique called 'spamming the escape button'. Due to the way the timers in Geneforge work, by telling your character to move through pylons or past a mine trigger, you can continually press escape to pause and unpause the game, thereby bypassing the game triggering the pylons. This may not always work, and seems to not work fairly consistently in specific areas (for example, one mine trigger in the sea caves in Geneforge 4). This technique also works on a number of mines in earlier Geneforge games, including those kinds which must be disabled with a spore baton. However, if you end up in combat mode because of a nearby enemy... well, you're dead.


Another tactic to bypass the spore baton mines, in earlier games, is to create a Thahd. Some mines (possibly only those not able to disabled by other means) will trigger when a Thahd walks over them. Since the cost to make a Thahd is 7 or 8 essence, it's a very cheap way to get rid of your explosive issues.


In Geneforge 1 and 2 (and possibly 3, though I have not played it in a while), mines which you can disable trigger when you walk too close to them, instead of being connected to a trigger. You can make the most of this by going into combat mode, running up to them, waiting a couple seconds for the game to tell you that you've triggered them, and then run behind a corner. You don't risk being hit by the explosion (especially with the greater movement distance available in the early games), and you can use this tactic to really ruin an enemy's day if you're clever.


I have also found that this method prevents enemies from seeing you and thus engaging combat, which may provide a viable alternative to stealth than using combat mode. However, it does prevent the map from updating and so is of questionable use for exploration.


2. Stealth (the right way).



Many areas of the game have insanely overpowered enemies that are probably intended to be snuck past. The answer to this problem is "combat mode". If you are in combat mode, enemies will not notice you until it is their turn. You can use this to your advantage by going into combat mode and waltzing right past an enemy and back out of its view. The speed spell, prior to Geneforge 5, greatly augments your ability to do this. I have myself successfully used this technique to explore the Turabi gate area and sneak past Unbound in Gorash-Kel. Anywhere that you want to sneak past enemies, you can do it like this.



3. Lava pads.



Drawing from the previous tip, the 'proper' way to handle lava pads is to enter combat mode and run past them (on the edges) as best as you can. You will take a good bit of damage, but you should be able to heal and continue on if it's not absolutely insane (I'm thinking of the path of 6 or so lava pads from Benerii-Uss). Energy resistance is probably your friend here, since most lava pads of which I can think claim to do magical damage.



4. Kleptomania (and creation stealing in Geneforge 3).



First of all, creation stealing. In Geneforge 3, the best thing ever was added. You could now hide in a corner and have creations pick up items for you, and nobody watching your creations thought "Oh, those creations/party members just stole something". This rendered concerns of picking up items moot. You see a steel broadsword, or a powerful pack of spores sitting there? Hide and let your creations pick it up, and you won't get in trouble at all. Unfortunately, this wasn't possible before Geneforge 3 and was 'fixed' in Geneforge 4.


Second of all, stealing in general. Remember, "it's not a crime if you don't get caught." You can pick up items up to, usually, 4 or 5 times before people get really mad at you. Naturally, this can vary a lot: if you're in Kazg in Geneforge 1, you'll probably make the entire town hostile if you pick up a single item. If you're pro-rebel in a Shaper town, crime tolerance may also be lower. Often, characters don't stand entirely still; they move about. If you can't creation steal (perhaps you're not in Geneforge 3, or you need to steal something from a box), then you should send your creations away so only you have line of sight to other things. Once nobody is in view, steal away. Also, another point of consideration is neutral characters. Neutral creatures don't count as seeing you steal items. For example, in the Geneforge 1 Junkyard, you can steal whatever you want around the serviles there because they are neutral, even though it's marked as 'not yours'.



5. Powergaming (Barzahl 2.0)



Geneforge is an RPG. Naturally, that means munchkins like us me like to figure out how to get all the best goodies. There are a number of ways to maximize your return in the game.

One, fence-sitting and faction hopping. In Geneforge 1, you can get a good deal of stat boosts from joining a faction. The best tactic is to join all of them: for example, join the Obeyers, use Learned Dominic to become pro-servile, join the Awakened, and then finally go join the Takers. In Geneforge 2, you get, at the very least, a good deal of experience from joining a faction. Again, you can faction hop to gain all of their benefits (you generally want to start as part of the Servants). In later games, by fence-sitting between Shapers and rebels, and through some highly questionable narrative choices (i.e. repairing Moseh and killing Eliza and Shaftoe, then giving papers to the rebels in the Fens of Azirpah), you can gain almost all the benefits of both sides. This means that you can get some seriously good gear, better than you could by helping one side exclusively. 


A second consideration is how you can maximize experience you earn. In Geneforge 1, you don't get any XP from doing mechanical things, like disarming mines. However, starting in Geneforge 2, there are entire zones FILLED with mines, acid sprayers, and the like, and you can get XP from all of them. Furthermore, leadership. Many encounters can be defused by leadership, which tends to net you a decent amount of XP. However, many of these encounters are with disgusting bandits or rogues, or are with things for which there is no consequence for killing. You can talk your way past a group of enemies, and then immediately kill them (one at a time if they are neutral, in fact). One excellent example is Saltmarsh in Geneforge 2, the area immediately before the secret tunnel. If you talk down the servile Taker, all creations in the area become neutral. You can now attack them all at your leisure, one at a time, with practically no danger to yourself.


Finally, canisters. Oh, the lovely, shiny, beautiful canisters... my preciousss... Sorry.

In some games, canister abuse will merely alter the ending. In some, it's practically irrelevant (think Geneforge 1 and 5). In others, it may alter encounters with NPC's, leading to violence where none was necessary. If you're mindful of your game ending, canister moderation is extremely important. A good benchmark on a limit in games is no more than 6 canisters. At that point, you don't have any ending modifications or, I believe, special encounter differences (in Geneforge 2, you'll get a dialogue event when you enter a town after using 6 canisters, but it's otherwise fine). Planning out canister usage is, then, an important aspect of character design. A good idea is to, if possible, use 3 canisters for a tier-5 creation (if you can't be trained in it) or in rothgroths (and tier 4 creations in Geneforge 2 and 3), and then use 3 canisters for important spells or stat boosts. For example, in Geneforge 2, you can only get certain spells as a loyalist through limited canister use - aura of flames, kill, and essence armor being particularly important examples.



6. Combating Hostile Forces or "Vlishforge 3"



There are a number of methods by which you can kill everything. My favorite involves 7 eyebeasts and aura of flames. Unfortunately, this is usually not feasible.


One way to kill off enemies, if you have an essence pool nearby, is to flood them with cheap creations. Vlish would make a fairly ideal meat grinder, being able to stun enemies (and later curse them), as well as being able to poison them in close combat. Vlish are fairly cheap in essence, as well. Pyroroamers, as suggested by Randomizer, can also really ruin an enemy's day. Create a whole bunch of them (17 or 18 essence for each) and rush them at an enemy. If you can get a solid chain reaction going, you could likely take out a swarm of clawbugs or other weak enemies. Unfortunately, often enough, you'll only find essence pools very occasionally, and you'll be lucky to even have the sorts of enemies against whom such an attack would work.


If you are an Agent (infiltrator), Guardian (warrior) or Servile, you'll often find yourself alone, without the delicious meatshields of Shapers and the like. However, you usually do ludicrous amounts of damage. The best tactic with them, then, on higher difficulties, is to make sure that you have high initiative (through dexterity, luck (I believe), or quick action), run near them until you enter combat mode, and run away behind a corner. USUALLY, only one or two will come after you. This makes it easy to pick them off one at a time. Do NOT attack one from the edge of a group, because that will end up attracting the entire group, again, usually, to come and murder you. 


Finally, bottlenecking is always a good tactic when it's possible to pull off. Remember,


Then again, they aren't really good role models.

Most classes can afford to pull off at least one excellent singular meatshield. Agents will probably prefer the Glaahk, and sometimes the Battle Alpha, while Shapers may find better luck in Drayks or, in later games, Kyshaaks. Once you have a whole crowd of enemies really riled up, run away through a door. Have your meatshield creation hold off the enemies, even though it may only last a few rounds. You, from behind it, will supply the heavy firepower. Either heavy batons (submission batons especially will increase your meatshield's longevity) or heavy firepower (essence orbs is always good, and acid rain can serve you well too) will supply the death-dealing to your enemies.



Edited by TheKian
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This is very cool.  I like that you clarified what works in each game -- that is easy to forget for those of us who played all of them a decade ago!


The mine/pylon "escape" thing is an exploit that is very system-dependent, since the game's timing is system-dependent.


For attacking neutral enemies -- it might be worth including a word of caution to make sure that they are actually neutral and not friendly.  Sometimes leadership abilities cause enemies to actually become friendly -- and then, attacking them will cause all friendly NPCs in the zone to become hostile.  "Why is friendly NPC X suddenly attacking me?" is one of the most common questions we get here, so I think people do this a lot.

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Indeed. However, that's not always the case.


For example, recently, I was replaying Geneforge 5 to test Alhoon's warrior mod. In the foundry core, I calmed the turrets with my leadership abilities and then (they were friendly) I proceeded to attack them one at a time. Once, I failed to kill one within my turn, and they all turned hostile. However, they didn't when I one-shot them (or, at least, killed them before the other turrets' turns). Similar 'everything becomes hostile' events can also occur with neutral creatures as well.


Basically, you just need to quicksave before murdering stuff to make sure that you don't ruin everything by doing so.

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2 minutes ago, Randomizer said:

Jeff never fixed some game exploits since they were rarely discussed.


You left off the pyroroamer assassination method of creating them and then for a safe distance take back your essence so they explode. Useful for killing NPCs to loot the area.

Unfortunately, that's a very conditional method of combat. You kind of need an essence pool or oodles of essence pods to reasonably do that. Takes about 18 essence to make a controllable pyroroamer, I believe, and each of them is only going to do about, say, 40 damage total (10-20 explosion damage, in my experience, and probably a single hit before getting killed in a massive chain reaction)? However, it could be useful in some areas. I'll add it to the list.

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7 hours ago, alhoon said:

Is this thread spoiler-free \ spoiler-light?

Before reading anything from what I assume would be a nice collection of hints, I would like to know.

There are references to specific parts of the games, but those are either early on or irrelevant to the story.


The only potential spoiler is for the zone immediately before the secret tunnel in Geneforge 2. So, you know, nothing that isn't super early on.

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Ahhh...  "Step on the mines my Thand\Fyora friend. And remember: You'll be missed" tactic: I have indeed used it. I felt bad about it, but just for a bit. I don't like to use creations as expendable trinkets, like walking crystals. But... I would have to say I have used a similar tactic for another thing:

Sending a creation past some mines or those fields that cause damage to use the "get item" scam that allows me to pick things near my creations. Sure, the good things are usually inside chests or nests. But you could grab a baton or crystal or coins off the floor.


Stealth: in some cases (Gorash Kell among them) I don't think there's another way until the very late-game. :) It can be frustrating though but you're rewarded for the 10+ loads you may have to do.


Kleptomania: Once a wandering person near stuff I want to steal is away, I use my several creations to block his or her path back. Properly placed 3-4 creations can cut away the person's return route very easily so you can steal. He's not far enough?

Remember fidgeting is like random walk. So when the person of interest takes a few steps away, rush your creations to block his way back. Not far yet? Wait a bit. He moves a few more steps away. Block again.

Just don't let him or her get too far away or the "return to origin" will kick in.


Essence pools and flooding them with enemies: The Shaper way. I regretfully admit I have done that and didn't consider it as bad as setting a fyora to get blown to pieces or a battle alpha to slowly cook so I could creation-steal things from the floor. I call it the "Moseh way" since I first encountered it by Moseh (started GF games from GF4). Hadn't met Monarch yet. He was the ultimate master of "Quantity has a quality of its own" swarmozerg tactics.

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