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Avadon's lack of retirement options


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The Black Fortress has a lot of issues with the way it works. Arguably, the ruthlessness and concentration of power seem to serve some purpose in the world, because the countries of the Pact appear to behave like rabid wolves that would just as happily tear each other apart as the ogres. Also, the Pact army is oddly useless without Hands around.


Setting that aside, Avadon appears to have one fundamental issue that seems to cause a lot of problems for it- no retirement. Once you're in, that's it, kiss your life goodbye forever. There doesn't seem to be any sensibly structured time off, either. This is, clearly, terrible for the mental health of all Hands, Eyes, and Hearts. I'm thinking Miranda didn't betray Avadon entirely because of some fifty year old mega grudge. I'm thinking that one day, after going through the endless stack of reports, assignments, and enduring the same back to back grind for most of her life, she couldn't take it anymore.


Imagine if you had spend the last forty or fifty years of life working at one corporate job, perhaps with brief pauses, in the same building complex, with no possible retirement in sight. Anyone, even the most devoted person, would go mad.


I'm thinking Redbeard went a bit nuts also not just because of the betrayal, Hanvar's council being singularly unhelpful, and suddenly not having one reliable Heart around (more paperwork for everyone else)- but also because he had basically spent a good chunk of his life staring at the same rooms with the understanding that his only option of quitting was to get murdered (In Avadon 3, if you killed Redbeard and picked dialogue options that you planned to leave after some time, in the ending text it says you try, but the Hearts stop you before you actually can leave. Stay or die, basically).


Then there's all the conscripts. That's fun. You have a nice life, somewhere, perhaps starting to become a more accomplished tinkermage, or you've taken to swords and seem to do well among your peers. Then, out of nowhere, some Hand arrives, shenanigans happen, and you suddenly find yourself forcibly recruited for the rest of your miserable life. Oh, and forget about your love life. Your love is your job. Your career options are to advance into the marginally less odious position of Eye, or what appears to be an inevitable descent into madness, a Heart (again, not surprised the eternal prisoner did what he did). Your other career options are to die, or, if you have extra [censored] luck, the dungeons.


I'm thinking an optional retirement after 20 years would solve at least some of the issues... Keeper succession is still up in the air, but perhaps it doesn't have to be a fight to the death, just a fight. What about all the ex-Avadoners running around? It can't be worse than the already disenfranchised and demoralized lifers.

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Compensation seems to be another issue.  A big part of a hand's compensation package seems to be what they can extort from various people, often ones who are in great need.  If the Hands were being well compensated and held accountable then bribery would be at least a lot more expensive.

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Posted (edited)

TL;DR: Lots of opinions on things, Avadon sucks.


Oh, certainly. Avadon is a wretched hive of scum and villany.


- A lot of decisions done at the whim of one person, like employment, killing a bunch of probably innocent people in horrific raids, and directing where a ludicrous amount of funds is spent.


- No recourse from said decisions. Whether you're enjoying a lovely tour of the dungeons, newfound life as a attack dog, or now six feet under because you had the temerity to be born on one side of a border, that's it. Have fun.


- The entire structure is bascially abuse. The Hearts get abused by the Keeper, Eyes and Hands get handed down their share, then all of them go on to abuse the rest of the world... and the Keeper sort of has to be a ruthless monster or they invite getting killed by the next guy.


So you either learn to be as corrupt as everyone else and blindly follow orders, or die.


As for my original comment:  my idea of retirement was less as an ethical improvement on how it works, but more of one thing that would allow for the (terrible) status quo to continue longer.


In my opinion the entire place is irreedeemable in an ethical sense. It will be terrible regardless of what is done. I do agree some things can be... better, though.


- As Unflappable Drayk has stated, compensation would go a long way, too. Less extortion, petty theft, and bribery.


- This ties into fund redistribution. Less giant Keeper halls, more money for equipment and training.


- The retirement bit. Someone can eventually leave instead of blowing up.


- Better pairing of Hand personality and mission parameters. Don't send the borderline pacifist newb to go raid a town, send Nathalie. Don't send the testy, disgrunted, sour tinkermage to do any kind of negotiations.


- Handing of prisoners in the dungeons also seems like it could use a lot of improvement, if only for security reasons. Let's assume we completely do not care about any ethical aspects.


- Actual social life. Hey, we have this place people from all over the Pact come together... I don't know, cooking competition? Decorate the dining hall together? Game night? Heck, happy hours? Even major corporations aren't this soulless.


Those could probably be done without fundamentally restructuring the entire way Avadon works.


Which... would be nice.  An elected Keeper. Elected Hearts. Integration with the Pact army, not an entirely separate entity. Quality training and equipment. Sensible recruitment practices. Sensible oversight and punishment for breaking Pact laws. Maybe even organised tours to show people in the Pact how Avadon looks like. Sigh.

Edited by dse6223
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What is not really clear from what we see is how many staff Avadon actually has.  In Avadon 1, if I recall correctly, there is only enough space for half a dozen hands and three or so Hearts.  The quality of the hands seems really poor (common RPG problem where the PC is the best option there is) with the brand new recruit/draftee being the only one who can do anything, which seems to be part of the problem with assigning completely wrong personalities to the missons

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You only see explicitly-marked rooms in Avadon for a few Hands in the game, but there are dozens, at least, of off-screen Hands out on missions, and many more are recruited over the course of the series. Similarly, you only interact with a few named Hearts (Miranda, Protus, and later Callan is a Heart), but there are a bunch of unnamed "Heart of Avadon" NPCs bustling around Redbeard, and presumably more elsewhere monitoring different aspects of Avadon's operations.


W/R/T Hand competence and temperament- in Avadon 1, Miranda deliberately manipulates things so that your party is made up of the most troublesome Hands, and that you're sent on the missions with the greatest potential to radicalize the protagonist and their companions against Avadon. In 3, you're partnered up with whoever Redbeard could grab, rather than the most appropriate or skilled Hands. In extra-game terms, it's just more interesting for the player character to have conflicted, idiosyncratic companions than blandly competent superhumans.

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Posted (edited)

Seconded on the much larger amount of staff than the game shows. In Avadon 2, monitor Yutsua says she is in command of the first lance of Rockridge Keep. A lance is a hundred soldiers, or ten blades. Rockridge Keep at the time has eight lances, or two less than a force of ten lances- due to the losses from fighting rebels. Therefore, Rockridge Keep itself has at least 800 soldiers.


In real life, there were castles that could have a garrison of as many as 2000 people (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krak_des_Chevaliers). Based on the above, I assume Avadon has at least a few hundred Hands, Eyes and Hearts put together.


In game we only see a tiny sliver of the quarters, servants, and portals leading to various places all over Lynaeus.


As for the unfortunate Hands- true, Miranda in 1 manipulated the placements. In 3 clearly Redbeard was just grabbing anyone and everyone.


My theory on why we're saddled with the troublesomes in Avadon 2 is because commander Odil is so vocally against Avadon. Avadon can't outright remove him, but they can send sub-par Hands. Hand Esme herself says it outright, that she's probably been assigned there because she's not great. Added to that, Protus was not so subtly gunning for Keeper himself, so he wasn't interested in improving the roster either.


Still, Yannick is very clearly vehemently against killing. The had to have been a less bloody job for him- heck, Alcander's boring post in the castle. Alcander sure has no qualms against the body count. There's also helping with the defenses (which they even used prisoners for), or assisting Craftmaster Nicodemus, because Yannick could probably actually learn something there.


And in 3, Protus had previously assigned Hand Botan to, ah... do what Avadon does best to Svar's Pennisula. We can thankfully resolve it peacefully, but I assume the intended outcome had been to... remove the offending interlopers. Botan is quite clearly very uncomfortable with the entire situation. Meanwhile I'm fairly certain Nathalie would be chomping at the bits to fry a few more things.


Edits: adding information and reformatting for better clarity.


As a side note, Protus definitely seems like a better choice. I'd say he's a nicer coat of paint plastered over the same wretched institution.


Side side note, I'd rather die than ever work for Avadon... (it goes without saying I'd much rather die than end up in it's dungeons).

Edited by dse6223
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