1st Avernum Trilogy

Well, just spent the past 2 weeks playing Avernum 3: Ruined World from Spiderweb Software (I played Av1 & Av2 over my Christmas break). This is the updated version of the third game in the first Avernum Trilogy (which is itself a remake of the original Exile Trilogy from 1997 - yes, I own the lot). Very retro in style and feel (although the graphics have improved steadily over the years).

The premise of the games is that you are a party of Avernites - Avernum is an underworld used as a dumping ground by the Empire who send all disruptive elements through a portal into Avernum.

Avernum 1: Escape from the Pit. Sentenced to Avernum, you vow to escape. The main missions are to find an escape route to the surface, assassinate Emperor Hawthorne (of the Empire) and slay the demon Grah-Hoth.

Avernum 2: Crystal Souls. A disaster has overtaken Avernum - magical barriers have appeared blocking trade and the Empire has invaded and taken over part of Avernum. It's up to you as soldiers of Avernum to find out what is happening and get things moving again. The main missions are to retrieve the 3 Crystal Souls for the Vahnatai (who think all humans are the same), kill the Empire mage Garzahd and destroy the Empire Portal.

Avernum 3: Ruined World. Here Avernum is cautiously exploring the surface; but the surface world is under attack from various monster plagues. You need to stop each plague in turn, find out who is responsible for the plagues and stop them.

You can play each game as a party of 4 or less, and it is entirely possible to play as a singleton (I usually do). Player races are human, slith (a sort of aquatic reptile man), or nephil (cat-like humanoids). There are various NPC races as well; some on good terms with Avernum, others are pests, and others are just plain weird - giant intelligent friendly spiders anyone? The game is set up as a class-based system, but it is possible to play a custom character (which you have to do if you're playing as a singleton). There is a level cap in the system - you get improvements every level up to 30, then every 5th level to level 60. Av1 & Av2 you can hit level 60 about 2/3 of the way through the game; Av3 I finished on level 36 (I suspect Av1 & 2 apportioned XP between surviving party members, whereas I think Av3 doesn't).

Each of these games is open-ended; there's no fixed order to do things, although there is an overarching meta-plot which builds up through the game.

The games are available on Mac or PC, direct from Spiderweb or Steam (I usually support by buying direct), and on the iPad (Av3 will be out sometime soon). There is a second Avernum Trilogy, but I don't like them as much - they're a lot more linear for a start, and the game feels much smaller in scale. Av6 is available on iPad; I don't think there's any plan to update Av4 or Av5.

To be confusing, Spiderweb have also published a trilogy of games called Avadon. I don't like these as much as you have to play as an utter b*stard. Yes, I own pretty well everything Spiderweb have released, including Blades of Exile (which I always thought would be a good engine for a computer Glorantha games). Most probably don't work on the Mac anymore with the discontinuation of Rosetta support.

I do recommend these games if you like an old-school computer RPG.


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You can also get them from https://www.gog.com/, which is a great place for all kinds of old-school games, as well as some newer ones. The first two Avernum games are on sale there at the moment. The company does a terrific job of adapting old games so they will run on modern operating systems. They are also the people who introduced me to the Witcher adventure games, the third of which is one of my all-time favourite computer games ever.
I notice that the original versions of Avernum 1-6 + Blades of Avernum is £2.29 for the lot: https://www.gog.com/game/avernum_the_complete_saga, as is Geneforge 1-5: https://www.gog.com/game/avernum_the_complete_saga

Geneforge is odd - I've played the first 2 games and stalled on the 3rd (I mucked up). It's more like Avadon in that you are an arrogant s-o-b, but you don't have to be unremittingly nasty. You play as a single character but you create creatures to fight with you. (I got the lot as a freebie on HumbleBundle as few years back- I must copy the installers across to the shiny and see if they install.)

Avadon 1 and Avadon 2 are £1.59 each, but 3 is £7.59 (still 50% off though).