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Romans are wimps in Nethergate
Member # 6979
Profile #0
Having played through the demo on both sides (I am still debating whether I should buy the upgrade) I must say I think the Romans are wimps. Note that I have played all Spiderweb games on at least hard difficulty and never had problems.
In terms of spells, obviously, they are supposed to be weak, and they are, bigtime. They are unable to cast spirit spells at all and unable to get the higher level beast/craft spells. This is a huge blow. In addition, the spell point cost of getting just war & healing spells up to level 8 is 48 points more than for the Celts, enough for the Celts to raise Craft, Beast and Spirit up to 5 levels each! All my Celts start with at least 2 levels of healing & war spells for a mere 6 points, which enables them to buff themselves before every combat and heal themselves afterward, which is huge. To do the same with Romans would cost 18 points, which is prohibitive. Worst of all, my Romans start out with less than half the spell points than my Celts; even my warriors with no intelligence and 2 druidism have more SP than my dedicated Roman mage. Since I have to constantly heal my warriors, I use up my points just healing them
But Romans are much better fighters, right?
Wrong. Roman have Roman Training, which starts at 2 skill points and raises the damage every other level (and helps to-hit, if I weren't always at 95% anyway). Celts have Beserker which starts at 1 skill point and raises damage every level, so Celts actually do MORE melee damage than Romans,even without all the extra buffs Celts can give themselves, and they get mind resistance in the bargain.
In terms of missiles, again Romans stink. True, RT increases missile weapon damage, but the weapon of choice, the javelin, is now mostly useless. Unlike the original, in NR javelins disappear when thrown (where do they go?) As a result, it is simply not realistic to carry enough javelins to get very far in a dungeon, so my troops end up mostly using slings, despite having invested SP in javelin skill.
Armor is the only real advantage Romans have, and it isn't a big one. For the same skill point investment, Romans have 2-3 more armor use than Celts, which is nice but hardly a big deal. Being able to wear plate mail may help a little at the end, but through most of the game you can do fine with chain.
But Romans have tool use, right? Actually, this is a disadvantage! Instead of having enough spell points to simply use pass portal spell to open everything easily, they have to invest a bunch of precious skill points in a skill that is completely unnecessary for the Celts.
And Faerie Lore, while not cheap, opens up some of the best spells in the game, gives good resistance, and helps in special encounters. There is no equivalent for Romans.

I am not saying it is impossible to win with romans or that you can't do well, but I am saying that the game heavily favors the Celts.

Some suggestions:
1. Javelins should be recoverable after a battle
2. Melee, Spears, Slings and RT should be cheaper for romans
3. Berserker is overpowered
4. Weapons skills and RT should increase damage every level.
5.Maybe there should be a class of weapons that only romans can use
6. Get rid of TU, or find some way of making it regularly do something beneficial that Pass portal can't (or combine first aid with TU and have it Roman-only, and cheap.)
7. Make war/healing start at 2SP for romans.
8. Give Romans much (i.e. 2x) more health points
9. Give Romans the same number of spell points per level!!!!
I have some other issues with general gameplay, but I will save those for a different topic.

And finally, I want to say that while I have plenty of criticisms, I have throughly enjoyed Jeff's work since Exile.
Thanks, Jeff!
Posts: 7 | Registered: Friday, March 31 2006 08:00
Maximizing Skill Point Investment in Avernum 4
Member # 6979
Profile #14
You are wrong about parry being weak. Have a high parry, and not only will you not get hit by melee much at all (and have a chance at parrying magic and bows) but all damage you take will get dramatically reduced. Actually, parry is overpowered, IMHO.
And, I strongly think that the most fun, at least the 1st time through, comes from playing things naturally, generally without reading the boards at all, and not trying to "optimize." The 2nd or 3rd time, if you want to power play, go for it.
Posts: 7 | Registered: Friday, March 31 2006 08:00
The new armor system. (50% + 50% = 75%!?!?) in Avernum 4
Member # 6979
Profile #3
Thanks for the explanation, Jeff.
I agree that the posted percentages should reflect reality; if only 75% of damage is being deflected, it should say that. If luck doesn't help armor, it shouldn't look like it does.
Does this way of doing things work for armor, too? It certainly seems like my tank with 96% armor took hardly any damage, ever, at least from melee attacks.
And, finally, I also think it should be true for traits, as well, which could allow you to go back to allowing multiple traits on one character.
Posts: 7 | Registered: Friday, March 31 2006 08:00
a4 is the best game yet in Avernum 4
Member # 6979
Profile #38
A couple things. First, I often hear people extolling "non-linear storylines" as a good thing. I disagree. Most people agree that A2 and Neth were his best works; these are also his most linear plotlines and the fewest possible endings. A very good story needs plot twists and surprises; these are hard to do if it is non-linear.
Second, I wanted to add my 2cents to A4. I like the new death system. However, as it went along, I died less and less. This is because of the % damage reduction which is additive. At first, armor is almost worthless (unlike earlier games, where it would block a number of points, and have value from the beginning.) Once my tank was >98% resistance to everything PLUS high parry PLUS high dodge PLUS riposte, he was completely unkillable. Unfortunately, he was otherwise somewhat useless, since melee was both weak and dangerous. I also loved the new unlimited arrows and used them all the time (though it makes nephils too good!)
Some semi-technical questions:
Jeff-why did you go from the exile system where 50% reduction + 50% reduction = 75% reduction to the more recent system of being 100% reduction? (This applies to traits as well). I think the old system works better.
I also find the level barrier (having XP depend on relative levels) to be frustrating. I much prefer getting the same experience for the same monster, and just having each level require more experience (or what would be the same, having the amount of experience you get be reduced based on your level alone, and not as compared to the monster's level.) When I went through really fast and killed a bunch of high-level monsters, then came back to kill the weaklings, I ended up with a lot less experience than if I had killed them in the "right" order. It also makes people not want to take negative traits. Same monster, same experience.
Finally, I was sad to see you have been discouraged about experimenting. I hope you will consider a new franchise, even if it is another "sword and sorcery" type of thing. Discovery of new things is much of the enjoyment, so I look forward to trying any new works you do!
Anyway, they're your games, do what you want. I've always bought and enjoyed them, and probably will continue to, but figured I'd give my 2.3 cents.
Posts: 7 | Registered: Friday, March 31 2006 08:00
Restarting or continuing? in Avernum 4
Member # 6979
Profile #11
I am not convinced that having a mage-thief is best. I had one archer-thief with tool use of 16 largely from having the trait. He did all my traps. My mage put 4 skill points to get 3 TU before equipment, which was probably unnecessary. I was able to get so much SC/magery with my leftover skill points that I could easily open every door in the game without any problems. I don't know which is best, but this worked great for me.
Posts: 7 | Registered: Friday, March 31 2006 08:00
Changes for Better or Worse? in Avernum 4
Member # 6979
Profile #44
As a longtime member since E1, I have mixed feelings about the changes.

The combat is improved, especially with area spells.

First aid is good (though I have been finding it seems less useful as I am relying on more costly spells to get through the battles; perhaps a percentage of HP/SP might be better?)

Mixed on feelings on losing the secret areas

Mixed feeling about outdoors. Some areas like Formello or the Silvar/Ft Avernum/Cotra metropolis seemed too close together, other areas felt fine.

Didn't like the cave system under the Great Cave. Felt like at least the Eastern Gallery had a weak reason for it, and the honeycomb was always supposed to be a pain, but the Great Cave tunnels were annoying, for the most part.

Didn't like the creature imports from GF; all the artilas and worms and things didn't feel like they fit in the E/A world.

Love unlimited arrows.

Liked the ? marks on the maps. Relied on them too much occasionally, like trying to find the people in Mertis. Good, though.

I really miss the puzzles. I feel like every game since E1 has been successively "dumbed down" (just contrast E1 and A1 to see what I mean.) Puzzles can be annoying, but the reward of figuring them out is real. One of my favorite Exile memories was the "One tells truth, the other lies, pierce them both to get the prize" puzzle. I spent an hour on that before finally figuring it out; very satisfying once I did! (I also miss Bach's "little fugue" in E1, but that's just because I like that piece of music ;)

I miss plot. I'm glad you will put more plot in the next games, Jeff.

The skill point system: I have been frustrated since G2 how it becomes increasingly difficult to strengthen your characters. I preferred G1 (though there were too many canisters) and Nethergate. In A4 you usually end up having diminishing returns from skill points as you get stronger, as well as slower leveling, which is just frustrating.

In addition, having the XP penalty be based on the highest-level character really penalizes players who like characters with penalties along with characters with beneficial traits. In fact, I am not a fan of a significant XP penalty based on level; it should be based on experience. That would make penalties potentially worthwhile (and DT a real penalty).

I also don't like getting to a trainer and finding out I can't train in a skill because I already did. You have to cheat by reading the walkthroughs to know which skills to buy; it makes much more sense, to just buy 1 level per person per skill separate from the training. You don't want to penalize the non-cheaters.

Finally, I would encourage you to come out with a completely new idea. The sense of discovery with E1, E2 (the vahnatai), Nethergate, and GF1 was tremendous; with each sequel the sense of discovery diminishes.

Thanks a lot for some great games; I definitely enjoy them!

Ancalagon The Black, who now that he is posting for a second time felt a need to get a whole bunch off his chest at once... :)

[ Tuesday, April 04, 2006 12:09: Message edited by: AncalagonTheBlack ]
Posts: 7 | Registered: Friday, March 31 2006 08:00
Avernum V in Avernum 4
Member # 6979
Profile #195
Going back an earlier part of this thread, I wanted to comment on Jeff's statement about the Vahnatai. As a registered spidweb fan since E1, I have to disagree that one major reason for the Vahnatai's coolness is their alienness. For me, in A2 (the only one where I have liked them at all) they were similar to Tolkien's elves. Ancient, wise, powerful. Human, really, just nobler and wiser. Rentar-Dumbo (that's my favorite of her "titles") I always thought was annoying. In E2/A2, she was an isolated weirdo who never talked to anyone. Thinking that she would be the dominant figure in Vahnatai politics for the next 50 years is almost unbelievable. Anyway, E3 disappointed me deeply with the plot twist, and A4 hasn't changed that (though I'm only to Dharmon, so far). I really hope with A5, the noble side of most of the Vahnatai in E2/A2 reasserts itself.
anyway, Jeff, I have much enjoyed your games over the years. Thanks.

--I have now gotten to the point that I realized that Jeff agrees with me about at least some of the above. Should have waited before posting...

[ Monday, April 03, 2006 05:07: Message edited by: AncalagonTheBlack ]
Posts: 7 | Registered: Friday, March 31 2006 08:00