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Delving Deep Into Bahssikava in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #0
This is for Kel, since I'll wager he's curious what I think of his celebrated scenario after my savage shredding of Canopy. I'm not done with Bahssikava yet...Phaedra just joined me and I'm just going in to face the demon infestation. But I have some comments for you in the meantime before I forget. Don't be scared. :)

I'm enjoying this one. Nice use of characters, background, story, sense of progress. Nice balance of combat and challenges and some breathing space. It feels thoughtful.

I read reviews and knew there was going to be a shortage of places to buy and sell things. My archer has been out of arrows for most of the scenario. I finally used the character editor to give him back some of those stored bolts I lost in Canopy. I'm still getting used to leaving loot behind as the plot pulls me forward in various add-on-scenarios, but it seems to work without too much frustration here, though I do seem to have left behind a nice cache of items I had been pulling out of the caverns under Bahssikava. Best I can tell, when it came down to it, one only gets to the place to unload it by going through the Doors anyway, so pick and choose carefully. Being a high-level game, I already have most of what I want or need, so the focus isn't on acquisition so much anyway.

I really liked the original quest at Bahssikava in Avernum 1, though that was actually nearly the only quest I never successfully finished in that game. I couldn't find the last triangle I think, then never made it back to try again. I liked that dungeon and envionment though. A nice revisitation and expansion. I like levels that delve deeper and deeper down.

My verdict is still out on the somehow fusion of vahnatai history with the sliths, but I have yet to see where it is going. At first, when hitting another laser/mirror puzzle I recoiled in horror, but managed to figure out what I needed to do without referencing any hints and managed to pull it off even without much annoyance. I still don't like lasers and factories in a fantasy world at all, but that is beside the point. This was a well-made puzzle and for a change it was nice to go somewhere that wasn't simultaneously infested by monsters too (Tower of Zkal, bleah). All in all, relatively painless.

I can see why Kel garnered top prize with this one. It has a nice overall flow and feel so far. I hope some legitimate fletchery is to be had at some point here.

Nice use of scripting sequences so far too...the origin of the Prophet, the fate of the temple, following Kass through the secret passage while having a conversation, fording the river, etc.

[ Monday, September 19, 2005 20:49: Message edited by: synergy67 ]

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
It Must Be Magic in The Avernum Trilogy
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #0
Some of the discussion of magic use in Canopy has left me thinking more about how Avernum uses magic in general and how we might like to see it changed or improved and why.

I never played D&D or any other role play game besides Ultima IV and Civilization until I discovered Avernum a year back. I like the fantasy environment in general though. Regardless of the game type, whether Hexen, Diablo, or Avernum, what I consistently seem to encounter in these games is too many kinds of weapons and/or magic to choose from, with not enough actual differentiation or necessity of use. Typically I end up settling on a few pet favorites and can ignore most the rest.

In Avernum we have both priest and mage spells which seem to overlap unnecessarily. Fireblast or Divine Fire...does it really matter which to use? Lightning Spray or Arcane Blow...is there really much difference besides mana cost? Smite or Ice Lances...different only in number of targets? I keep wondering how others might imagine a more streamlined or specialized magic system to operate. I like spells like Spray Acid, but wish they had a more specifically useful and satisfying function....maybe on statues and metallic constructions, for instance. I wish priests and mages were more truly differentiated. Divine Fire being a priestly way to charbroil a foe vs. blasting your foe with your mage's Fireblast seems like a difference in semantics only. I like the idea of priests only being able to perform magics truly associated with health, life, and death. I don't even like resurrection. It means there really is no ultimate death in the world. Couldn't anyone be resurrected at whim? Why aren't they then?
Other games just normally have us go back and redo something to avoid dying anyway.

I know there were area spells and others not carried over from Exile. What would be a good finite and sensible set of spells for a mage or priest ideally? Especially, what would be most useful and fun?

Also, what are some thoughts about wands and potions? I could do without wands and most other magic-storing devices entirely, and be forced to create and manage my magical PC’s more effectively instead. I like augmented armor and rings, etc. to find and accumulate over time.

I also like the idea of herbs and making potions ok. Seems like there are too many of them potions though. About half of them I never use. I use healing, energy, and invulnerability potions primarily. I kind of wish knowledge brews didn’t even exist, heh.

Also, if I ever created a game like this, or just a scenario, I think I would greatly minimize the finding of magical items of most kinds. They'd really be more rare and speical and hard-won. I really like the less is more approach.

Thoughts and ideas?

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Blowing the lid off the Canopy in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #15
Oh, and P.S., even with all my gripes about Canopy---and I was expecting some of them going in from the get-go, having played Mad Ambition---it's like looking at a car crash at the side of the highway. Half of me hopes to see something gruesome, the other half hopes not to, but either way I'm compelled to look and see what's there in the wreckage.

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Blowing the lid off the Canopy in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #14
A bit of followup on Canopy now that I’m not all fired up coming right off a scenario which repeatedly annoyed me:

I would have posted my “review” at the Lyceum site, but didn’t feel like signing up for a new site at the moment when I was writing it. I just wanted to pound out my thoughts on the scenario and also hear thoughts from others about it.

README’s in the scenario folders...sometimes I remember to look for one and sometimes not. Having to change applications and pulling up a text file to remind me of the function of numerous custom wands with nearly unpronounceable and indistinguishable titles in the heat of battle is highly inconvenient coming from someone like TM who clearly is masterful at manipulating all the elements of the programming. I didn’t find that acceptable. I did manage to use the tiger summon and two of the wands to defeat bosses appropriately, btw, sometimes only because the hint list pointed toward the correct wands to use.

I think it’s fine, even great to manipulate and alter game and combat rules. You just gotta give the player the cues, clues, and warnings about what to expect from an altered universe. I hate playing games by trial and error where I can’t use my natural intuition or logic to figure things out to a reasonable degree. I think a truly good game makes it possible to collect information and make strategies and adapt to situations to find ways to stay alive in real time. The whole fantasy genre, by nature, is difficult at best to concoct in such a way, because, like sci-fi, we are dealing with an unfamiliar universe in many ways with new rules.

I guess I’m a sucker for things that feel real, vital, and compelling underneath it all. Just making things difficult in weird new ways doesn’t generally achieve much of that by itself. TM’s a very clever guy, no denying it. I found his unexpected, wry ending to Canopy highly amusing, though I had such a hard time believing that it was the intended outcome, that I had to attempt all options before finally submitting to my fate. I have plenty of praise for TM on a technical, creative, and inventive level. I enjoyed a good bit of Mad Ambition quite well. Put all together though, the aggravation added up more than the pleasure for me in Canopy, despite all the bells and whistles.

And all that said, I’m glad TM is making scenarios. I’m not trying to be elitist or suggest that the way I want things to be is the way they should be or that others want them to be. They’re just my observations and opinions for whatever they are or are not worth. Allrighty then...

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Blowing the lid off the Canopy in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #1
Forum leader, in the interest of saving bytes, please delete this useless post.

[ Monday, September 19, 2005 20:16: Message edited by: synergy67 ]

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Blowing the lid off the Canopy in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #0
Slightly revised version:

How do I loathe and detest the dark shroud of a scenario known as Canopy? Let me count the ways. Firstly, in its favor, TM, while orginating from some vile and violent planet not yet specified, never fails to demonstrate his/her/its technical prowess and creativity. Apart from that, the malignant world of Canopy descends rapidly into a philosophical and linguistic morass in which one’s own beloved, nurtured PC's are possessed and forced to dance like marionettes to the fantasy fascist drumbeats of TM's deranged plot devices.

TM takes Canopy to a new height in an endless barrage of new unspecified spell wands and magical artifacts which one can barely comprehend or carry at the rate they manifest. Upon cleaning out the Sud guard tower, one can never return to cash in on all the dropped loot, and if one does not carry out exactly what is of value the first time, it will be forever beyond one's clutches. Elements like this which unpredictably take any real sense of control out of my hands hacked me off to no end. I even lost a nice clutch of arrows I had set down in the marketplace and never got a chance to retrieve before the ignoble ending.

The worst offense by far, and the point at which my enjoyment of Canopy shifted dramatically toward antipathy was encountering the invisible bug-bear warriors who curse all your PC's, make reaccumulating spell points impossible, continually teleport around so you have to keep determining their locations, and deal out dual 100 point blows per turn. These did not strike me as clever or sensible challenges in any way. They struck me (while striking me often) as the intentionally Vogel-violating invention of a designer who wants to come up with the most impossibly challenging adversary, as if this was somehow inherently fun.

That the primitive bug-bears have somehow learned to personally teleport around repeatedly at will when all the mages and wizards of the Empire and Avernum are required to build tricky, expensive transporteres to teleport anyone is simply insulting, nonsensical, and inane. Never mind that they have found a way to become invisible at the same time as well. It is designed only as the most annoying challenge a warped mind can conjure. Personally I need something more rational and believable out of a game, than this kind of perfidy.
TM simply violates the rules and spirit of Avernum at every turn and drags us through the aggro-gothic mire of his own savage, adolescent fantasies.

The colony of tigers I did find an amusing and enjoyable reprieve from the otherwise ubiquitous wickedness that saturates this alien world of TM's deranged conjurations.

Why are we offered Invulnerability and Protection potions to buy in this scenario when so many bosses I faced in battle rendered them magically useless without either explanation or warning? Most battles were reduced to finding some way of having my primary fighter physically hammer the main adversary(s) long enough to kill him while using my mage/priest to somehow keep both of them alive, along with using the appropriate, but entirely non-intuitive magic wand.

The fact that the multitude of new souped-up wands collected through the scenario have no in-game description of their function hardly aided my efforts or my shortening fuse. If you are going to modify artifacts, please identify their function within the game itself.

I left more things behind than ever on this level because the plot kept seizing my characters and pushing them forward. I don't like being pushed when playing a game when it means I can’t really feel finished with an area I have just conquered. If I have one general criticism of many of the add-on levels I have played so far, it is that often they propel me forward on auto-pilot and I have little feel at all like the world of exploration and free will that Jeff is good at creating. I know that takes a lot more thinking and work to achieve.

Despite the apparent inventiveness and competency of the creator, Canopy continually annoyed, infuritated, or insulted me. Even simple aspects like the location of the solitary means to identify items forcing me to run through a very circuitous and rather nonsensical route into the main castle greatly decreased my enjoyment from the get-go, considering how many unique unidentified items one finds in this scenario. There is a conveniently constructed marketplace in the second town, but no I.D.ing there, and the exchange rate is also a kick in the behind, being Exorbitant as the only possibility. TM seems to take perverse pleasure in manipulating, irritating, and violating his puppets, er, victims, er players.

I'd sure like to see more in the way of clever plot and character construction in scenarios, and not merely showing off scripting sequences or finding new ways to make fights impossibly difficult in many situations (like for those having a party of two). Here is a lot of malignant adolescent fantasy and a lack of light-heartedness or humanity to offer balance. Maybe Canopy is gratifying if you’re a pissed off twenty year old anarchist male?

All my contentions aside, I am impressed with much of the inventiveness and pushing of parameters TM and others have demonstrated with their scenarios. TM does construct some very cool environments, that I can surely give him/her/it.

Bahssikava...here I come. Got my fingers crossed for something I can sink my teeth into, and not feel I have had someone else’s teeth sunk into me.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled deprogramming.

[ Wednesday, September 21, 2005 14:42: Message edited by: synergy67 ]

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Druids of krell help in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #12
Well, thanks for the suggestion. I'll poke around with the editor and its directions and see whether or not it is intuitive enough for me to at least be able to start plonking down some outdoor graphics. I think I could have great fun making a scenario world if it isn't overly complicated getting started.

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Druids of krell help in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #10
Don't beat yourself up, Ephesos. All in all, it's a nice little scenario you've made here with some very creative design work. Yeah, it has some minor quirks and bugs mostly of the sequencing sort, but I'm guessing it's probably pretty impressive for only three weeks to pull it off.

I'd love to try a hand at building a scenario myself, but get the impression it's a huge learning curve to learn to use the editor and I suspect I have neither the time nor the patience.

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Druids of krell help in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #9
All done now. I have to admit I enjoyed the long "movie" which comprises the last third of this scenario, even though I kept waiting to actually do something myself. I thought I was going to take on that drake lord! Or the lizard army...

I liked the city/temple design at the end.

Canopy, prepare to be boarded.

P.S....is there nowhere in all of Druidland to actually I.D. any items? By the end of it, I must have had ten to fifteen unidentified items.

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Druids of krell help in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #7
I've already resolved this...apparently, I had to talk to the smith AFTER first getting into the Sanctum. Now how was I supposed to figure that one out besides random rendundant poking about? No cues or hints about that route at all. The logic wholly eludes me. Oh well...let's see what ol' Oakleaf has up his druid sleeves now....

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Druids of krell help in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #6
Thralni, I'm right at the same place you are. I believe I've done all the "good" and the quests for the towns, but Oakleaf ignores me in the Sanctum. I am wondering what I've missed to trigger a response from him again.

Even more odd....if I walk to a spot along the valley wall in the SE I get a message from Oakleaf (while in the outdoors still) saying to go get the relics from the druids before we can leave the valley. Oakleaf appears to be in two places at once and talking from the future in one of them. I'd be happy to fulfill his demands at the Sanctum for now.

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Gotta get outta the Crescent Valley in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #5
OK, all done. It took about five aborted attempts of "Would you like the doll?" for the alternate reply to show up...this was with 55% mental resistance and 100% mental resistance from my two PC's.

Oh, and I'm sure glad I kept my alternate weapon to Demonslayer considering Terra isn't too keen on me keeping it on the way out. Kind of a red herring, even putting it in this scenario, doncha think? Though I did experiment with invulnerability potions and killing the succubus and the efreets. She drops some jewelry, but nothing too special or worthwhile, plus you get one of those "You wonder if there was a better way to resolve this" messages aftewards.

On to the Druids of Krell...

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Gotta get outta the Crescent Valley in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #3
OK, now I don't feel so stupid. Can't say I'm a big fan of semi-random, non-intuitive solutions like this though. I have a duo...one a fighter with low intelligence, though due to accumulated magical artifacts like the radioactive green plate mail (TM sure is generous!), my fighter has good mental resistance....maybe 50%, and the mage/priest has even more. If the check is expecting a total willpower from four PC's, then it would be hard for two to add up enough. I'll play with it some more and see if victory is forthcoming. Thanks for the quick reply!

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Gotta get outta the Crescent Valley in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #0
I'm right at the end, trying to deliver the doll to the demon dame. I understand it's not necessary to end the game fighting or killing her, but I can't find any way for anything else to happen but my PC's trying to sleep with her and then of course getting slaughtered. I'm a logical guy...can't come up with any likely elements I'm missing at this point. I just want to finish this thing and move on. All I could think of as remotely relevant was to give my PC's resistance potions and see whether that might affect their vulnerability to the succubus, but I doubt this is even possible. I believe I've tried every possible sequence of dialogue. Even more disconcerting, it seems anyone else who has played this thing found a way to end it successfully. I feel really stupid at the moment.

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Getting mad at Mad Ambition in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #2
I already figured out how to kill Chika...that wasn't the problem. It was being unable to kill the rest of the horde after her. However, I tried again, and somehow didn't wind up cursed this time and was able to whittle them down.

Now I'm stuck on the next battle in the pit with the suit of armor with the insane hit points. I had to take nearly 100 damage just to get into the pit to flip the lever to the right. Now the suit is laying waste to me. I don't have the brute capacity as a fighter at level 17 to beat this guy. I can't keep up with the damage he inflicts and healing myself with potions. I miss most of the time I try to hit him . I wonder what am I missing now. It doesn't seem like it's meant to be a simple one-on-one battle which I am miraculously supposed to win, 'cuz I can't.

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Getting mad at Mad Ambition in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #0
OK, I give...I'm at one of those rare moments in Mad Ambition where I actually get to fight and direct my own actions...the fight with the replicant of my dead sister. I figured out the puzzle aspect all right eventually, even though with four nephil priest/mages continually healing her every turn, I had to find ways to take them out in order for her to actually die.

Here is the problem though. My PC#1 is just a fighter with no magic. Right off the bat, someone casts Curse on my fighter and he simply can't hit a thing. I have gone through MANY rounds of combat keeping him alive with healing potions and using up two wands to take out four priest/mages, but can't actually hit anything to progress any further in this fight. I'm typically boxed in and can't even go anywhere.

What am I missing here...anything? Or is it just an example of faulty design: a situation in which a fighter cannot possibly win the battle. There is no way I can uncurse myself. I was rather enjoying the weirdness utnil this point.

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Is my Karma my member rating? in General
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #0
I couldn't find it in the FAQ, but I'm assuming that's what the karma stars represent? So, if I'm new and have a five star rating does it mean someone gave me five stars, or do I start out with five stars by default?

Just curious,

Doug

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Level & arm up using only add-on scenarios? in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #8
I just noticed something along the lines of what you're saying, Imban...I accidentally cast unlock doors (instead of picking it) with 4 intelligence and a mage level of 8 or 9 on a non-magically locked door and my spell opened the door nonetheless...difficulty 4-8....somewhere in there.

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Level & arm up using only add-on scenarios? in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #7
Well, I couldn't wait to figure out the "Perfect Party" and wanted to get into some add-on scenarios, so I'm trying a fighter/thief and mage/priest combo. I gave the magician brittle bones and natural mage and the fighter strong will and sickness prone. This gives both a +5% level up rate.

I played The Cave of No Return and A Perfect Forest today so far. I liked some of the clever programming that went into the latter. I am left thinking all the more I'd like to build my own scenario some time. The question I wanted to ask scenario builders is how difficult a learning curve is it to use the builder/editor? I'm no programmer, just a guy who's decently competent with his Mac.

Cheers,

Doug

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Dynamic Duos? in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #2
Would you care to elaborate on how you allocate points and tasks to this duo? I'm guessing your fighter/priest is much like the singleton slith fighter/priest you like to use.

Does the mage/priest accumulate Tool Use? Does he/she carry a bow? I take it that for the fighter you pump up the pole use, then enough melee to get Blademaster, then pump that up. At any point is it possible to switch the slith over to a melee weapon or will he always be behind in melee? Of course he has the natural pole weapon bonuses to begin with, so it would seem less efficient. I know that the sword gleaned from, what is it...Canopy(?)...is very powerful.

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Singletons? in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #4
(oops)

[ Tuesday, September 13, 2005 12:43: Message edited by: synergy67 ]

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Singletons? in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #3
quote:
Originally written by Drakefyre:



My favorite singleton is a Divinely Touched fighter/priest.

Hi Drake. I did note by digging through the archives yesterday that you have described using a slith fighter/priest solo PC successfully. You mentioned how you allocate skill points initially and work with War Blessing and Smite largely early on, using Divine Aid when necessary.

You mentioned Hasting as well. Do you tack on a bit of mage skill in order to get Hasting or are you describing higher levels of War Blessing which also haste the PC?

You didn't mention Tool Use at all. Do you pump that up for traps and doors, and if so, at what point? If not, what do you do about traps in particular?

Do you typically enter combat mode to fight? I assume yes if you have Fast on Feet, but maybe often not if you chose Strong Will instead, in order to negate Slow spells.

Do you build up potion-making skills in this singleton or largely ignore potions?

And lastly, for a first attempt at a fighter/priest singleton, would you recommend Fast on Feet wtih Divinely Touched or Strong Will? I can imagine not using either actually, so maybe you'll simply say it really doesn't matter.

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Musings of Maddening Mazes in The Avernum Trilogy
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #6
Thanks, I believe you folks are correct, and I'm already delving into plans for a run through some BoA add-ons starting today, if I can successfully recreate a party of something more interesting and challenging than the usual four I have normally used so far. I have another question for you scenario designers I'll drop over there.

Cheers,

Doug

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Level & arm up using only add-on scenarios? in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #3
I’d already poked through all the archives to find what I can on one, two, and three-member party ideas to date and gotten some intriguing and wildly ranging ideas. I’d like to see some of the latest thought and consensus (yeah right) on each party size up to three as a specific focus, especially in the context of using them for BoA. I apologize if one topic for each seems unnecessary. I thought it would be nice to keep different number party ideas unmixed from each other, but I’ll be happy for the info any way anyone wants to dish it out.

I was surprised to not really find much in the way of archived threads on how best to go about just trying a singleton, for instance. I like the idea and challenge of a loner, but having tried it briefly a couple times before with Avernum 1 and VoDT in Blades, I found it too frustratingly difficult early on and gave up, maybe just because I didn’t know how to best allocate skill points for a lone PC yet. Meanwhile, I’m so far leaning toward trying a two-member party of some sort, but haven’t decided yet how to compose it exactly. I want a good challenge with the streamlining and simplicity I get with fewer members.

With two or three members, it seems one can do entirely(?) without a mage and focus on fighters/priests or some combination of archer with those. I like the idea of giving the party members each two weaknesses rather than any advantages which will ramp up the level gain rate, though the opposite idea of maxing advantages to slow the level gain as much as possible is a curious idea too.

For duos, what are reasons to have a mage/priest combo with a fighter as opposed to a more powerful priest or priest/archer/thief combo? I’m also curious where potion-making fits into the mix if at all. Can that be dispensed with entirely to little detriment? Without a mage, I presume someone needs very high tool use for opening doors and you just have to learn to live without far sight. Can a priest afford the high tool use or does the fighter get it? I also like the idea of a mage/priest combo for the second of two PC’s, but can I really afford all those pricey priest, mage, intelligence (and possibly potion) points required in one such PC?

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Terrific Trios? in Blades of Avernum
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #0
Following in the vein of my previous two posts, what are some good possible and workable triad character parties I could use with BoA add-on scenarios? Or for Avernum games in general? Is it reasonable or even possible to go through BoA add-on scenarios and work my way up to Bahssikava with a trio character party? I want to start at level one and work my own party up without replaying the main four quests of BoA if at all possible. What might be a good sequence of add-on scenarios to achieve level 30+ with the necessary skills and gear to take on Bahssikava?

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00

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