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I have a few questions about the lore in the world of Avernum (and the Empire on the surface). I've been replaying this game, and some things have hit me (or in atleast one case, always puzzled me).

 

First, especially in Avit, the Vahnatai mention how Sliths are invaders as well. But the Slith are native to Avernum, aren't they? Why would they be considered invaders, unless the Slith (especially the ones who weren't exiled- ALL the Slith, both peaceful and otherwise, were exiled from their original lands) are just so far away from Vahnatai lands.

Second, is there any relationship between Grah-Hoth and the Vahnatai? Or was he summoned by the exiled Slith?

Third, there are also a tribe (or maybe something a little smaller) of Vahnatai on the surface. You deal with a quest with them in Avernum 3. What's the story with them? Also, did those Vahnatai (especially if they were exiles) suffer the same disorienting effects that dwarves in Dragon Age suffer from? Rather than having a cave ceiling above them, they see only open sky. Some dwarves (even ones like Oghren) for a few moments (others don't fully get over it), are afraid of "falling" into the sky. I wonder if those surface Vahnatai felt the same way?

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The Sliths are from a different group of lower caves and you get some history in Gnass and Bahssikaiva. They are exiled, but Jeff never went into the details. Keladon did a series of Blades of Avernum scenarios looking into their lore.

 

Grah-Hoth is in the Avernum caves from before the Empire's First Expedition. Since these caves are above the Vahnatai Lands, they don't interact as much with his demonic horde. There were some demons that you encounter in Avernum 2 on there level in the remote regions. Another case of Jeff not going into details.

 

The mystery of the Vahnatai on the surface isn't dealt with in the lore. You explore their area and meet some that are looking there, but why they were there isn't covered. They were in a cave so maybe they didn't suffer from disorientation or became acclimated to it.

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4 hours ago, Randomizer said:

The mystery of the Vahnatai on the surface isn't dealt with in the lore. You explore their area and meet some that are looking there, but why they were there isn't covered.

 

I thought (or more likely assumed) that they were essentially reverse humans, up on the surface doing some exploring/on a quest for item/knowledge 'x'.  It's been a while but weren't they in that particular cave trying to get further into it (to get to the dungeon/loot further in?  But them being there also raises the question about just how they got to the surface.  I doubt that they were able to sneak an entire exploration party through Ft. Emergence/made it those hundreds of miles north without being noticed.  So there's another exit 'somewhere' (the same 'alternate exit' theory also applies to the dragons - & it would have to be a pretty big hole/exit to get them out & up to the surface - perhaps they blasted the exit from A1 east of Sulfras wide open...)

 

The Sliths also had significant territory in A5.  Above/deeper sections at the same level as Solberg's territory (if we're assuming that the river flows down/deeper).  The Vahnatai were much lower & miles further away (below Muck)

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The Dragons and the Vahnatai both have top-tier magic capabilities, including portals.  Olgai sets up a very precise portal to the Tower of Magi without having even been there, and we've seen Athron use portals as well.  So it might also be possible that they merely got close to the surface, and then magicked their way out somehow.

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Lore questions are fun! And, a lot of the answers are speculation, which is also fun! Allow me to curb my enthusiasm at this point...

 

As of this point, I am only familiar with the original Avernum trilogy, so bear that in mind. However, speculation on the Slith and the Vahnatai is a really interesting subject to delve into. I assume the statement on the Slith being invaders has something to do with them being "new arrivals" into caves which the Vahnatai consider being their territory. Note that while the Slith are known to the Vahnatai, humans and Nephil are a bit more of a mystery to them. So, there seems to be a certain level of interaction between the two species, but the nature of that interaction is unknown.

 

...If you want start speculating, a good question to ask is when the violent Sliths were first exiled from their caves. I know Encyclopedia Ermariana has some dates pertaining to that event, but I'm not sure how much of that is canon. If none of it is canon, and the violent Sliths were forced into the Lands of Exile - what were then Vahnatai lands - just prior to the beginning of the last Resting Period, then that is an interesting scenario to consider.

 

OR, perhaps in general, the Slith and Vahnatai do not always get along well together. This makes sense, of course. Why would either species need a martial culture (which they both clearly have) if there is not the occasional scuffle between members of their own species as well as other species? Of course, there are other hostile creatures down in the caves, but look at it this way: you can argue that spears (which the Slith employ almost exclusively) are utilitarian arms for all circumstances, but a sword is not an ideal implement for dealing with beasts - it is a distinctly martial arm which is made to be used against martial targets, if you will. There's definitely room for some interesting stories on that front.

Edited by Thaeris
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34 minutes ago, Thaeris said:

If you want start speculating, a good question to ask is when the violent Sliths were first exiled from their caves. I know Encyclopedia Ermariana has some dates pertaining to that event, but I'm not sure how much of that is canon. If none of it is canon, and the violent Sliths were forced into the Lands of Exile - what were then Vahnatai lands - just prior to the beginning of the last Resting Period, then that is an interesting scenario to consider.

I don't think there are firm dates in the games given for the exile of the violent Sliths. IIRC the leader of the violent Sliths into exile, Sss-Thoss, is said to be father or grandfather of the present Slith leader, Sss-Thsss. Again, we don't really have firm numbers for how long Sliths live, but this'd presumably put the Slith exile within the past few centuries at the outside- well after the most recent Olgai Resting began.

 

34 minutes ago, Thaeris said:

Why would either species need a martial culture (which they both clearly have) if there is not the occasional scuffle between members of their own species as well as other species?

The only Sliths we see in the games are members of the fractious, violent group of exiled Sliths, or repentant splinter groups thereof. I don't think we can confidently say that the original Slith society has a martial culture; if they do, the version we see in the games is absolutely exaggerated and perverted relative to the original. Any knowledge the Olgai Vahnatai have of the Sliths would be of their original, non-demon-worshipping society.

 

Further notes:

 

The Nephils are said to have potentially taken part of Demonslayer when it was broken, so they must've been in the cave well before any humans were- though this is the only evidence of it, and everything else indicates that Nephils are native to the surface and only appeared in the caves upon being exiled there by the Empire; in any case they appeared in the caves after the latest Olgai Resting began..

 

Potentially relevant facts established by the second Avernum trilogy:

While implicit in 2-4, 5 establishes explicitly that the Olgai tribe is just one of many Vahnatai tribes, widely geographically dispersed, and not necessarily in contact with each other.

The caves are much, much more extensive than we ever actually see in the games. The remnants of the dark Sliths who are defeated in Avernum 1 (and again in the Za-Khazi Run scenario of Blades) retreat to unseen caves, and are able, by the time of Avernum 6, to reassemble a horde capable of challenging the Kingdom of Avernum.

Edited by googoogjoob
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As an interesting aside regarding martial culture and the Sliths, consider again the spear as a utilitarian weapon. We know the Sliths enjoy fish and are good swimmers. Slith spears, on that note, are rather comparable in design to fishing spears. It's possible this was an active design decision by Jeff, though Jeff might offer up that he in turn borrowed the idea from somewhere else. The latter is fine and happens in fantasy all the time, but regardless of the origins of that design decision, it kinda works out - and, if you take to that idea, it says a lot about the Sliths (and it's not bad, either!).

 

Great notes on the speculated dates, by the way - I really should work on firing up the games once more! Regardless, it's again rather clear from Avernum 2 that Sliths were known to the Vahnatai, at least those of the Olgai tribe.

 

The note on the Nephils in the caves at the time of the first expedition is interesting, and it ties into some of my other musings in the Cave Fauna thread (Original Avernum Series Board). I get the impression that the caves were always hard to get into, but they were never cut off from the surface until there was an active push to do so. So, various groups (like people, even) could go down there if they were so inclined. I like to imagine that the uppermost caves on Ermarian are not unlike caves on Earth, and follow the same general "zone" patterns and life cycle patterns as we are familiar with. Crossing an extended "dark zone" would be dangerous and quite challenging, but it would certainly be possible. Eventually crossing into what could be considered Exile would probably be quite a surprise - suddenly, there's somehow some semblance of light (I don't buy into the "Exile used to be dark before people" bit), and there seems to be this transition from no light and life to just the opposite. Think of it like reversing the cave zones - kinda - after a really long and treacherous walk:

 

https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/biology-fields/cave-biology2.htm

 

...So, if there were Nephil down in Exile during the time of the First Expedition, they or their ancestors would have had a good reason to make that trek: the Empire was certainly busy killing them off at that time. That concept alone would make for a great story: the Nephil tribe that risked everything fleeing into an endless cavern or face extermination at the hands of the Empire.

 

Other creatures would have also been able to make that journey if you take to that idea: bats, rats, goblins, etc. However, there is also something to the idea of the Empire sending down pests... just to make the Avernites all the more miserable (with the sick twist of potentially also keeping them fed).

 

 

Edited by Thaeris
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