Avernum Hints

I have been playing Spiderweb games for years. I started with Exile and went on to Avernum which I really enjoy. I have also played Nethergate which (except for the ending) I liked. I tried Geneforge but never really got on with it. Pehaps I am just too old fashioned – I like the old Dungeons and Dragons type of Games.

Once when my grandson was visiting me he found the adult conversation rather boring. So I showed him Avernum 3. He liked it so much that I bought the whole trilogy for him for Christmas. I wanted to tell him where I had found lots of hints about the games on the Web but I discovered that the wonderful Avernum Annotated Maps had disappeared. So I decided to try and produce a few hints and tips myself for people who still play these fabulous games.

After three months work I had nearly finished the hints for Avernum 1, only to find that the “Annotated Maps” had been resurrected. I have nevertheless decided to make these tips available to the Avernum Fan Community.

Many of the Hints come from what I remember of the Annotated Maps. Naturally many are straight out of the Hints Books. I have also used other sites in the link list as a source of information.

Navigation: the games (first trilogy, second trilogy, further games, Avernum reworked ), general hints, further links

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The Games

The trilogy now has six members and actually consists of two trilogies. The games in the two series use different engines and have a completely different look and feel. Spiderweb has also produced some other games like Geneforge, Nethergate or Avadon and recently reworked versions of the first trilogy (Avernum: Escape from the Pit, Avernum2: Cryatal Souls, Avernum3: Ruined World).

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The First Trilogy (Avernum 1, Avernum 2, Avenum 3)
Avernum Avernum 1
This game is a remake of Exile and as such is well thought out. There are three Great Quests and four Major Quests as well as many minor missions. You find many puzzles, some of which are difficult to solve without help, and lots of jokes. All Spiderweb games have been devoloped on Macintosh and the transfer of Avernum 1 to Windows resulted in an annoying bug. Navigating with the left mouse button sometimes results in moving two spaces. It is possible to navigate with the number pad, but this is not exactly easy. There is however a work around: the right mouse button does nothing other than work as the left one should – it moves you exactly one space and not as you would expect give further options or information.
I have finished these notes. Please email me about any mistakes or omissions.
Avernum 2 Avernum 2
The exploits of Adventures have resulted in severe repression by the Empire which has decided to eradicate Avernum. This game starts out where Avernum 1 finished but has some interesting new twists. The tranfer from Mac to Win has worked much better this time.
I have started collecting information for this game. Chapters one (The Barriers) and two (The Dark Waters) are finished. I have started on the Vahnatai lands and the Eastern Province is more or less complete .
Avernum 3 Avernum 3
With this immense game which continues the saga of the Avernites, a people condemned to a life underground, Spiderweb reached a zenith in the production of RPGs. The transfer from Mac to Win has been mastered brilliantly. Most of the action takes place on the surface but for the final showdown you have to descend into hostile caverns and fight many dark creatures.
Since Rache has produced a detailed description of all towns and quests in this game, I do not intend to duplicate his fabulous work. If I ever get around to it, I will however make a few notes on points where I do not agree with him.
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The Second Trilogy (Avernum 4, Avernum 5, Avenum 6)
Avernum 4 Avernum 4
This game uses a new engine and has a completely new look. The blurb says that “all the stuff that caused busywork and confusion has been ruthlessly pared away”. Be that as it may, I have had some difficulty getting into the game. The transfer from Mac to Windows has been done very badly. It stores saved games along with the program files. In order to play it as another user on XP you have to alter the file rights of the directory called “data”. There are only 16 slots for all users to store saved games. The engine reads directly from the keyboard rather then using the proper driver. This means that if you are using a keyboard with a layout other than the American standard the keys are interpreted wronglz (that is what I get with my German keyboard). The Engine also annoys me: no differnce between towns and outdoors; the curious method of moving around sometimes makes combat difficult, because the characters do not always take the route I expected.
Perhaps I will one day write some notes about this game, but this is very unlikely as I have no intention of buying the game.
Avernum 5 Avernum 5
The keyboard is still read wrongly. At least the saved games are stored correctly in the user's home directory, but still only 16 slots. It was so nice in the first trilogy to be able to use the native file system to store as many saved games as I wanted to.
Perhaps I will one day write some notes about this game, but this is very unlikely as I have no intention of buying the game.
Avernum 6 Avernum 6
I once started this game but soon got fed up with it. There is nothing to explore! I just found myself being sent upstairs and back into the cellar without any choice of my own. The start of the game is so linear that it is boring. The charm of Spiderweb games is that they are not linear and that you have to explore everything.
At last the keyboard is right. Saved games are also stored in the user's home directory but this time with a different structure from A5!
Perhaps I will one day write some notes about this game, but this is very unlikely as I have no intention of buying the game.
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Further Games (Geneforge, Nethergate, Avadon, Avenum EP)

I did not originally intend to write notes about the other Spiderweb games. They do however deserve mentioning and for some of them I have produced some hints (actually I intend to write them).

Nethergate Nethergate: Resurrection
This is a nice little game which I enjoyed playing. It uses a modified version of the Avernum 3 engine (actually the engine from Blades of Avernum).
I will write some hints if I ever get time!
Geneforge Geneforge
Geneforge is a role-playing game with a science fiction twist. Here you are free to choose what your overall goal is, and you can seek after it with your own horde of deadly, mutant monsters. There are in the meantime five games in this series. I tried the first game but never really got into it.
I have no intention of completing any of the games in this series and certainly not of writing any hints.
Avadon Avadon Trilogy (The Black Fortress, The Corruption, The Warborn)
In these games you will serve the keep of Avadon, working as a spy and warrior to fight the enemies of your homeland. As a servant of the Black Fortress, your word is law. I bought the first game of this series and worked through it to the end. I found it rather disappointing: there were lots of quite difficult fights and the game was rather linear. There is a series assignments which have to be completed sequentially. Although there are numerous side quests you cannot get into the next area of the world until you have completed the current assignment. This is not like most other Spiderweb games, where you can go anywhere more or less wherever and whenever you like. All in all: too much fighting and too little humour.
I will not try the other games and will write no notes on this game.
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First Avernum Triology Reworked

Spiderweb games are developed on Macintosch and are later transfered to Windows and iPad. The original Avernum engine took some time to get right on Windows: there was an annoying bug in A1; A2 was better and it was only in A3 that the engine really worked optimally. Then came Geneforge with a new engine. I have not played this game very much, but the same (or a similar) engine has been used in the second trilogy. The implementation of A4 on Windows was a catastrophe: none of the Windows-specific features functioned correctly and, although things improved a bit in A5 and A6, the situation is still far from satisfactory.

In the reworked triology the basic requirements are satisfied: the game is installed so that all users can access it and the settings and saved games are stored in the user's home directory. There are still only 18 slots for storing games. It was so nice in the original trilogy, that the native filing system was used, so that one could store the game as many times as one wanted and also where one wanted.

There are a few other idiosyncrasies: cumulitive statistics are gatherd and stored separately. They are used for awarding “medals”. These statistics seem never to be reset, even when you start a new game. Saved games can only be removed by deleting the contents of the appropriate directory of Spiderweb Software in the users private documents. (I do not know what these files are called on English Windows implementations because I have only used the German operating systems.)

Navigation is a pain on Windows! A double-click is ignored and the right mouse button does absolutely nothing, the Control Button only works with ^S or picking thing up: CTRL-click transfers an item directly into your “Junk Bag”. The lack of a right mouse button is particularly annoying. The graphics in these games are most confusing. There are sparks and shooting stars the whole time on the screen so that I often miss important events like something sneaking up on me. There are so many irrelevant details like shelves or tables or things lying around in towns and dungeons. Outside there are groups of creatures that I would like to identify. In A3 I could use the right mouse button to identify these things. In these games I must get right up to them and if I am lucky (or unlucky) I find out what it was meant to be. Indoors the situation is even worse. There are so many irrelavent details in the graphics, that I cannot tell what is a useful item and what is just graphical decoration that I am forced to look around (the letter i, the pickup-button Pickup or the letter g) at almost every step I take.

Avernum: Escape from the Pit Avernum: Escape from the Pit
This is a reworking of Avernum, which itself was a rewrite of Exile: Escape from the Pit. Although the story is the same so that most of my hints for A1 apply to this game, there are some nice extensions: job-boards in many towns and a new settlement the “Freehold of Kyass”.
I have finished these notes. Please email me about any mistakes or omissions.
Avernum: Crystal Souls Avernum2: Crystal Souls
In this reworking of Avernum2 the saga is continued. I downloaded the demo and was rather disappointed. Everything is very restricted. In particular boats cannot be used which not only means that your possibilities in the starting region are limited but also that you cannot start on the journey through the “Dark Waters”. In the demo for A2 you could complete this boat trip and even explore a bit of the Vahnatai lands.
If I can bring myself to buying this game, I will write some notes on it.
Avernum: Ruined World Avernum3: Ruined World
The demo version of this Avernum 3 rework is even more ristricted than ever! If I only had this demonstration and did not know Exile 3 or Avernum 3 and the other games, I certainly would not buy it. A demo should give you a feel for the game and stop where it starts to get interesting, but here I did not get any proper impression of the game – just a few rather uninteresting towns and one dungeon complex in Upper Avernum. I did not even get a view of the surface world.
If I can bring myself to buying this game, I might write some notes on it.
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General Hints

In all three of the Avernum games in the first trilogy there are a few guidelines that always work. How far these hints function for the new trilogy I cannot say as I have not played these games much

The first thing is to create a good party. It is always better to use custom characters rather than the predefined ones. I tend to use the standard setup of two frontline warriors (one mêlée and one pole weapons), a mage and a priest. Tool use is necessary fairly early on and I usually give it to one of my warriors. I give my mage a few priest points and vice versa. It is also very useful if the second warrior can cast Haste or Healing. I find the third magic caster a boon, particularly in Avernum 2 and 3, where you can pick up a Slith priest who has good pole weapon skill and can be used as a second warrior. This is especially noticable when you encounter undead and have three people who can cast Repel Spirit. This is also useful when you meet Gazers, who suck up spell points. If you have a spell caster up front who can also fight they will (particularly in A3) concentrate on him leaving your priest and mage with the ability to heal. In Avernum 1 it is the Mung Demons which suck up your spell points and dumbfound you.

In all three games there are Non Playing Characters (NPCs) who will join your party. It is usually worth picking these characters up as they generally have better statistics than your normal party members.

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Stucture of the Hints Pages

There is an introductory page which contains notes about building a party, the major quests, and the stratagies I have used to get through the game. I have divided Avernum into areas (Valorim is in A3 already divided into provinces). There is a list of towns, dungeons and important outside encounters odered by area or province with short descriptions of the place. For reference there is an index of the same places odered alphabetically and also by the numbers or letters in the hints book. I have also made lists of the important shops and people offering services like training, identification, teaching etc. needed to get through the game.

For each town there is a description with map. I have listed all people you need to talk to (and also most others, who only contribute colour to an otherwise dull background). All important or useful items and encounters are mentioned in these town descriptions.

Although almost everything is described here somewhere, I have deliberately refrained from writing a blow by blow walkthrough, firstly because that spoils the fun of doing it yourself and secondly because my walkthrough is certainly not the only or the best way of getting through. I have written these pages with two goals in mind:

  1. to serve as a quick reference when you get stuck; (e.g. I cannot get out of the Ancient Crypt.)
  2. to make sure you have found everything that is hidden in a particular town (have you for instance found the secret room in Cotra).

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This link list is not exhaustive. It just contains sites I have used to get tips about the games.