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purism (no canisters) in GF1 in Geneforge
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #3
Yeah, I know the Council doesn't like you using the Geneforge. I only mentioned it in order to recognize that if you used no canisters but did use the GF then the Council would still hate you.

So my question is still unanswered. Is there a purist ending to GF1?

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It is not enough to discover how things seem to seem. We must discover how things really seem.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
2 questions in Geneforge Series
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #3
If you're an Agent or a solo Guardian, you can collect enough energy and hostile effect resistance boosters to keep the Crystal Mine damage down to just a few points every now and then. Grounded items, spectral items, the Static Band, and the Draykskin Tunic that Wyx bequeathes are all good.

This is an obvious point, really, but I mention it because it took me a while to realize that even though any one protective item has little effect, enough of them together do make a dramatic difference.

You'll still probably want to be in combat mode most of the time, though, to get the drop on the shades.

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
2 questions in Geneforge 2
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #3
If you're an Agent or a solo Guardian, you can collect enough energy and hostile effect resistance boosters to keep the Crystal Mine damage down to just a few points every now and then. Grounded items, spectral items, the Static Band, and the Draykskin Tunic that Wyx bequeathes are all good.

This is an obvious point, really, but I mention it because it took me a while to realize that even though any one protective item has little effect, enough of them together do make a dramatic difference.

You'll still probably want to be in combat mode most of the time, though, to get the drop on the shades.

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It is not enough to discover how things seem to seem. We must discover how things really seem.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
cryoa? in Geneforge Series
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #3
You can also lure Sharon's garden creatures into her house, where she and her Stinging Clawbug will help you out. Sharon herself casts a mean blue spell, and is astonishingly tough. Her firepower is effective on everything up to the Experimental Gamma, which it barely tickles; but even the Gamma needs two hits to kill her, so at least she helps distract it.

If you try this with the Gamma, try not to let the Vlish outside Sharon's front door get involved! They are utterly useless against it, but I succeeded in slaying the Gamma with Sharon's help once, only to find her two Vlish blocking the doorway afterwards. They would not budge, and attacking them made Sharon hostile, so I had to restore and do the tricky Gamma battle over again.

You can also lure them into her storeroom and then run out and shut the door on them. If you then exit the map and come back they will be forever gone. That's fine if you're just trying to get to the Purified Essence, but you won't get experience and your Fanged Bracelet will never improve.

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
cryoa? in Geneforge 2
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #3
You can also lure Sharon's garden creatures into her house, where she and her Stinging Clawbug will help you out. Sharon herself casts a mean blue spell, and is astonishingly tough. Her firepower is effective on everything up to the Experimental Gamma, which it barely tickles; but even the Gamma needs two hits to kill her, so at least she helps distract it.

If you try this with the Gamma, try not to let the Vlish outside Sharon's front door get involved! They are utterly useless against it, but I succeeded in slaying the Gamma with Sharon's help once, only to find her two Vlish blocking the doorway afterwards. They would not budge, and attacking them made Sharon hostile, so I had to restore and do the tricky Gamma battle over again.

You can also lure them into her storeroom and then run out and shut the door on them. If you then exit the map and come back they will be forever gone. That's fine if you're just trying to get to the Purified Essence, but you won't get experience and your Fanged Bracelet will never improve.

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It is not enough to discover how things seem to seem. We must discover how things really seem.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
purism (no canisters) in GF1 in Geneforge Series
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #0
Last year the question was raised here whether you would get a better ending to GF1 for using fewer canisters. One respondent was apparently trying the 'purist' challenge first set in GF2 by Mike Montgomery, of winning the game without using a single canister. But this person never told us what their results were.

So, does the Shaper Council like you any better if you destroy the Geneforge without using it, and without having used any (or too many) canisters?

I think GF1 would be much harder for a purist than GF2: you can't buy training in creations or spells. A GF1 purist Shaper wouldn't be able to do anything; there'd be no point to being a Shaper at all. A purist Agent could get Firebolt from the Ruined School mind, but good luck Firebolting your way through the Inner Crypt; you'd probably have to avoid it, and rely on trickery instead of violence in the other tough places. A purist Guardian would still have no creations, but might not do too badly, since in GF2 the solo Guardian works great. He might not be as successful in GF1, though, because in GF2 he relies on a high Parry skill for defence.

[Edit: misspelled Mike's name]

[ Thursday, August 05, 2004 10:15: Message edited by: Student of Trinity ]

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
purism (no canisters) in GF1 in Geneforge
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #0
Last year the question was raised here whether you would get a better ending to GF1 for using fewer canisters. One respondent was apparently trying the 'purist' challenge first set in GF2 by Mike Montgomery, of winning the game without using a single canister. But this person never told us what their results were.

So, does the Shaper Council like you any better if you destroy the Geneforge without using it, and without having used any (or too many) canisters?

I think GF1 would be much harder for a purist than GF2: you can't buy training in creations or spells. A GF1 purist Shaper wouldn't be able to do anything; there'd be no point to being a Shaper at all. A purist Agent could get Firebolt from the Ruined School mind, but good luck Firebolting your way through the Inner Crypt; you'd probably have to avoid it, and rely on trickery instead of violence in the other tough places. A purist Guardian would still have no creations, but might not do too badly, since in GF2 the solo Guardian works great. He might not be as successful in GF1, though, because in GF2 he relies on a high Parry skill for defence.

[Edit: misspelled Mike's name]

[ Thursday, August 05, 2004 10:15: Message edited by: Student of Trinity ]

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It is not enough to discover how things seem to seem. We must discover how things really seem.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Naming Creations in Geneforge Series
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #50
I don't see the aesthetic appeal in naming creations. You're not their little buddy: you're a Shaper, and if they don't get killed you're just going to reabsorb them when you upgrade your army. (Keeping a Fyora into the endgame means never being nearly as powerful as you could be, and that'll get you voted off Sucia Island.) But there is some actual utility in naming creations, because it can help you keep track of (for example) which of your six Terror Vlish are valuable veterans and which are expendable recent replacements. So I give the senior ones names like 'One' and 'Two', and leave the newer ones generic.

[ Tuesday, July 27, 2004 07:53: Message edited by: Student of Trinity ]

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Naming Creations in Geneforge
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #50
I don't see the aesthetic appeal in naming creations. You're not their little buddy: you're a Shaper, and if they don't get killed you're just going to reabsorb them when you upgrade your army. (Keeping a Fyora into the endgame means never being nearly as powerful as you could be, and that'll get you voted off Sucia Island.) But there is some actual utility in naming creations, because it can help you keep track of (for example) which of your six Terror Vlish are valuable veterans and which are expendable recent replacements. So I give the senior ones names like 'One' and 'Two', and leave the newer ones generic.

[ Tuesday, July 27, 2004 07:53: Message edited by: Student of Trinity ]

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It is not enough to discover how things seem to seem. We must discover how things really seem.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
VoDT - hidden rooms in Blades of Avernum
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #2
In general there are really a lot of secret rooms in VoDT, many of them containing Piercing Crystals. Since most barriers in the scenario can actually be bypassed, you can really stock up. There are also several Shattering Crystals, and although there are several areas that can only be entered with them, few if any of these areas contain anything worthwhile, let alone worth more than a Shattering Crystal. So you can stock up somewhat on SCs as well.

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
VoDT: Steal the waveblade? in Blades of Avernum
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #12
Okay, so the waveblade is better because a lot of enemies are immune to the fire damage, and the price differential is due to the market's magic fetish. Thanks. It's weird that these Vahnatai don't want their cool stuff that much. Or is the whole race notably mellow?

I think maybe I failed to learn those spells because my fighter was doing the talking. I assumed that conversations involved the whole party but maybe this isn't so.

Where is this Assassin's Dagger? I'd hunt around for it myself, you know, but I'm almost through VoDT for the second quite thorough time and I'm just not up for combing the whole place yet again looking at every dagger.

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
VoDT: Steal the waveblade? in Blades of Avernum
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #0
Do the Vahnatai mind at all if you steal the waveblade, cloaks, or razordisk from their trunk?
I tried it just to see how good a 'fine waveblade' might be, and was surprised that I got no 'your crime was noticed' warning, nor did the three Vahnatai sitting right there seem to mind in the least. But will they still save my bacon when the time comes?

Also, how come you can't learn Capture Mind or Simulacrum from them, either? I tried with a mage skill of 10, and was refused both for not having high enough skill, even though the Info page says that Capture Mind needs only skill 9 to cast.

Finally, how does the fine waveblade compare to the flaming sword? I think it's about the same, since the base damages are 5-30 versus 3-18 + 8 fire. But the flaming sword is supposed to be worth 2-1/2 times what the fine waveblade is worth; what's with that? Is Vahnatai style passe this year? Is it just so handy to be able to heat up your dried meat without having to gather wood?

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Cave south vodt in Blades of Avernum
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #15
Are you sure the trees actually block you? I seem to remember I could get past them by going diagonally.

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Article - Why? in Blades of Avernum Editor
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #28
Personally I'm very impressed with the artistry in the Spiderweb products I've tried, but am also very interested in efforts to raise the bar still higher. I just don't understand what I detect as a continuing thread of resentment at Jeff Vogel. Our hobby is his business. He must be honored to have such a discerning core of afficionados, but I doubt that hard core scenario designers number in the thousands, and so I doubt Spiderweb can live on their shareware fees alone.

On the original topic, a point from my experience as a pen-and-paper RPG gamemaster, which might perhaps carry over to BoA scenarios:

You can sometimes go one better than just making sure that an answer exists for every Why, and revealing the answers in the course of the game. You can reward the players, with power and success in game terms, for assuming that everything really does make sense even when it doesn't seem to. You can make it a winning strategy for players to ask Why, come up with answers, and act upon them. So the Good Wizard does hire the neophyte party to attack Lord Evilmancy, without any good explanation for why he didn't look for more experienced heroes ... but if the players regard this as a mystery and try to investigate it, they will discover great things. If you can pull something like this off, you are doing something which is truly a union of story and game that is more than either alone, in that major plot twists will be driven by player initiative.

The hard part is that the extra oomph comes from leaving it up to the players to perceive the inconsistencies as mysteries, rather then poking them in the face with immediate dialogue boxes. And it's never going to seem worthwhile to players to take the trouble to think this way, if their experience indicates that there will be inconsistencies in the scenario due to mere designer incompetence. In a pen-and-paper campaign, I could undertake in advance to improvise remedies for any inadvertent inconsistencies, so players had insurance against giving my world more credit than it deserved. In a self-contained product like a BoA scenario this would obviously be a lot harder. But perhaps if you do well enough in following Drakefyre's rules, you can eventually earn the right to bend them to additional effect.

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Article - Why? in Blades of Avernum
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #28
Personally I'm very impressed with the artistry in the Spiderweb products I've tried, but am also very interested in efforts to raise the bar still higher. I just don't understand what I detect as a continuing thread of resentment at Jeff Vogel. Our hobby is his business. He must be honored to have such a discerning core of afficionados, but I doubt that hard core scenario designers number in the thousands, and so I doubt Spiderweb can live on their shareware fees alone.

On the original topic, a point from my experience as a pen-and-paper RPG gamemaster, which might perhaps carry over to BoA scenarios:

You can sometimes go one better than just making sure that an answer exists for every Why, and revealing the answers in the course of the game. You can reward the players, with power and success in game terms, for assuming that everything really does make sense even when it doesn't seem to. You can make it a winning strategy for players to ask Why, come up with answers, and act upon them. So the Good Wizard does hire the neophyte party to attack Lord Evilmancy, without any good explanation for why he didn't look for more experienced heroes ... but if the players regard this as a mystery and try to investigate it, they will discover great things. If you can pull something like this off, you are doing something which is truly a union of story and game that is more than either alone, in that major plot twists will be driven by player initiative.

The hard part is that the extra oomph comes from leaving it up to the players to perceive the inconsistencies as mysteries, rather then poking them in the face with immediate dialogue boxes. And it's never going to seem worthwhile to players to take the trouble to think this way, if their experience indicates that there will be inconsistencies in the scenario due to mere designer incompetence. In a pen-and-paper campaign, I could undertake in advance to improvise remedies for any inadvertent inconsistencies, so players had insurance against giving my world more credit than it deserved. In a self-contained product like a BoA scenario this would obviously be a lot harder. But perhaps if you do well enough in following Drakefyre's rules, you can eventually earn the right to bend them to additional effect.

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
scenario criticism in Blades of Avernum
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #16
I probably don't really disagree with anybody in this thread. I'm sure there are many truly excellent and creative BoE scenarios, which demonstrate that there can be far, far better things than VotDT.

The reason I've made more than one post here, though, is that in making that point, several people seem to have set up as a standard the idea that every single thing in a scenario ought to be tightly connected. Is this really what people believe? Or is the point more that the editor makes it easy to slap in pre-fab elements, so if you're not quite careful about just how you do this, the result gets a 'glued on' feel?

If the latter, I would think that there must be a wider range of options, in avoiding 'glued on', than the single strategy of 'wire everything to the main plot'. Aren't there any good ways of incorporating disparate elements -- character actors and cameo bits -- in a scenario?

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
scenario criticism in Blades of Avernum
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #11
Those are good rebuttals. I agree you can make a chain of quests where the links all make sense, instead of being arbitrary, and that up to a point this is better. In fact, it's not so much a matter of doing something better, as of doing something well versus not doing anything. The point (which I do get) is whether there is continuity between the different scales of the story, from the overall scenario theme down to individual battles. I am not really trying to defend VotDT as a great scenario, except as a sort of devil's advocate trying to elicit the sorts of examples that have now been given.

I think that a scenario can be too tightly scripted, though. There should be some loose elements, the odd settlement of ogres who just happened to set up camp because there are ogres in the world and that's what ogres do. A certain level of randomness gives the feeling that you are exploring a small part of an enormous and complicated world, rather than taking one role in a five-act play.

So for example I don't see it as a problem that the gremlins in VotDT are there for no reason connected to the player. Gremlins are magical creatures, the School is an abandoned magical facility, so gremlins infest it. It isn't always about you.

The point of the Bafian five star system is that five stars does not mean 'perfect'. It's a matter of saying what league a piece is playing in. Beyond this, a short review is almost always helpful, although for the best things it is hard to write a spoiler-free review that explains what's so great.

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
scenario criticism in Blades of Avernum
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #8
So people say that actually the reviews are mostly not that bad; the Valley is fine; but that there are indeed some really outstanding BoE scenarios out there. And from reading Drizzt's insightful piece linked to by Boots, I think my genre conjecture is substantiated. The 'chain of quests for dungeons' scenario is such a durable mainstay of RPGs that I really think it deserves to be considered a respectable genre. People have been happily playing this kind of thing, in various media, for decades now. Like all genres it has a lot of conventions, which get stale with overexposure. But saying you've played too many of the genre isn't saying that it is inherently bad.

Genre-busting can be great, of course. But I suspect that really hard core Blades players and designers may value novelty more than the average newbie, who really would enjoy the secret doors. I think the 'raters for the ages' should bear this in mind.

I wonder whether a five star rating system (with no half-stars), like that used in Baf's Guide to the Interactive Fiction Archive, might be more useful than the ten point scale. It makes less attempt at precise evaluation, but there is so much comparison of apples and oranges involved that I think greater precision may be spurious anyway. Baf's rougher ratings seem to be extremely accurate, in the sense that everyone seems to agree with them. And they tell you all you want to know when you're trying to decide whether to play something.

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
scenario criticism in Blades of Avernum
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #0
I've looked at the scenario ratings site, and
I'm a bit surprised at how critical people seem to be about these things. The Geneforges and Valley of the Dying Things seem fine to me; I'm still excited just to find a secret door. On the one hand I wonder whether all critics are taking genre into account. There are a lot of very different styles of RPG scenario, any of which can be great if one is in a particular mood, and it isn't fair to criticize an orange for being a bad apple.

On the other hand, the toughness of the audience here would also be explained by the existence of many truly amazing Blades of Exile scenarios, which might have raised high expectations. I wouldn't know, since I've never played any other Exile or Avernum games, and I probably won't even register BoA because I really can't afford the time to play more of these things.

But I would still be really interested if some of the folks who have complained about shortcomings in the currently available BoA scenarios could give examples, from BoE scenarios, of things that would have made them happier.

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00

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