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Old 10-28-2007, 04:51 AM   #1
Malthaussen
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Default Old-School CRPG: Avernum.

Want to play a good, old-fashioned CRPG? http://www.spiderwebsoftware.com/ is the place you want to go. I have just (belatedly) discovered this indie publisher, and I want to tell you all that the Avernum series is a true gem. Here are the vital stats:

Party-based CRPG: Up to four PCs. Roll your own, or you may pick up chars in the towns.

Skill-based CRPG: The system is very similar to Fallout. Basic stats plus skills, with special abilities like the "perks" in Fallout. Fewer skills and perks than Fallout, however, about a dozen of each. You may have up to two special abilities per character, but each one will slow levelling by reducing earned experience (OTOH, you can give a char a flaw, with a concommitant addition to earned experience).

Huge, open-ended campaign world with many cities and dungeons. "Over eighty" in Avernum 1. I've only played the demo so far, and it has kept me occupied for well over twenty hours of gameplay, and the demo is only 1/4 of the whole game. Unscripted, open-ended map: go where you want to go, do what you want to do. With wandering monsters! Hooray!

Easy, straightforward, no bugs at all so far. The layout is clean, simple, and even intuitive. Your characters can advance up to about level 40; my demo party characters are right around lvl 10 at the end of the demo.


Caveats: The graphics are old. Avernum I was published in 2000, and even for then the graphics were not standout. Think Jagged Alliance 2. 2D, few animations. If glitter is your goal, pass this one up. Similarly, there is very little artwork (although the tital screen is attractive), no music or dialogue. There is no "character interaction," romances, or other plot elements to your party. There is an overall game story, naturally, but you are free to rove as you will. You'll have to invent your own character background and interaction in your imagination, the game's designers won't do it for you. Also, veterans of CRPGs may think that the battles are "too easy," at least at the default difficulty level. With a little thought, you can make your party pretty tough at the beginning of the game, tough enough that most roving encounters should be fairly simple meat. OTOH, there are many ways you can handicap your party, if this is a problem for you. Some of the set-piece encounters are truly challenging, however.

The demo for Avernum I is only 7 mb, making it a reasonable download for even a dialup connection. And if you like the demo as much as I did, you can get Avernum I-III on a single CD for 45.00 USD. That is a thief's bargain, and this month you can even get another 10% off. And once you buy the game, you can get the unlock code immediately via email. How much more customer-friendly can you get?

The publishers also have a number of other games available. Avernum is up to #4 in the series (the latest d/l is still only 18.6 mb). There is also "Blades of Avernum," which is a construction kit with several scenarios. This allows for user-created content, and there are several user-created adventures out on the 'Net. Get in on the action now!

If, like me, you've never heard of these people, hear of them now. This is great, simple, old-school adventuring. If you want to go out and kill things, get treasure, and save the world in the process, without caring about bells and whistles, fire up your modem now. You won't regret it.

Oh, and lest I forget: the game comes in both Mac and PC versions, compatible with Win XP or even Vista.

-- Mal
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Old 10-29-2007, 09:07 AM   #2
Iron Greasel
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Default Re: Old-School CRPG: Avernum.

I remember playing the demos. The character generation system really did remind me of fallout, with its hand-drawn images representing the skills and abilities. I even thought of buying one or some of them. Might still do it, if I had any money.
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Old 10-30-2007, 01:09 PM   #3
Gnarf
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Default Re: Old-School CRPG: Avernum.

I've played the demo of the first Avernum some, but not gotten around to buying any of those. Did buy Nethergate: Resurrection though, which I figured had a slightly cooler setting, and odds are I'll get that Avernum trilogy sometime later.

They're nice games. They're a bit old school, and are about crawling some dungeons, building some characters and getting some loot. There's a bit of story, but it doesn't get in the way. They're not Diablo clones, yet they don't try to redefine the genre so that it looks like something Will Wright could've come up with. That's almost unique these days and I rather like it
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Old 10-30-2007, 01:47 PM   #4
Firestormalpha
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Default Re: Old-School CRPG: Avernum.

Good Games, I have #4 myself and the entire Geneforge series. Played the crap out of them. Simplicity is good for a change.
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Old 08-18-2008, 09:13 PM   #5
Shadow Stranger
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Default Re: Old-School CRPG: Avernum.

The series is now up to Avernum 5. This features a new graphics scheme based upon the Geneforge series. Broadly the format of the game remains the same.

Avernums 1 thru 3 I rather liked.
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Old 08-27-2008, 06:26 AM   #6
Stratos
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Default Re: Old-School CRPG: Avernum.

I've heard about Avernum but never tried them. Perhaps I should...
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Old 08-27-2008, 09:37 PM   #7
Shadow Stranger
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Default Re: Old-School CRPG: Avernum.

You can play the demo part before deciding whether to buy. This is about the first fifth or whatever of the game.

You may need the Compatibility Wizard if you are using Windows.

You have four basic series of games here:

Exile 1,2,3 and Blades of Exile
Avernum 1,2,3,4,5 and Blades of Avernum
Nethergate, and its remake Nethergate: Resurrection.
Geneforge 1,2,3,4. Geneforge 5 is planned for this December.

Now the first three Avernum games are remakes of their Exile counterparts. They occur in the same game world. There are no Exile 4 or 5.

Blades of Exile and Blades of Avernum are purpose - built "modding" games. What these games call a "scenario" would be called "mod" on these boards. The two games are fairly simple to design with.

Nethergate takes place in a part of a magical Britain, around the year 60 or 61 CE.

Geneforge games emphasize the creation of servant monsters. Here you have one permament PC and several expendable creations that are part of the party.
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