So, to sum up the intro really quickly. Our party has committed some petty crimes (if you can even call them crimes at all) and got chucked underground for it. Really far underground too. We’re making hipsters jealous, that’s how underground we are right now.
Clearly the Empire’s judicial system could use a little tweaking. Sadly bringing up the idea is a surefire way to end up down here.
Anyway, the good news is we’re still alive, so it seems the theory that you die instantly is wrong. The bad news is this is worst paradise I’ve ever seen. It’s dark down here. Though thankfully not pitch black, as the cavern is lit by glowing fungus growing on the ceiling.
Opening the door, we can smell smoke and hear talking somewhere off in the distance. People?
Meet the Nephilim, they’re cats and they hate us. This would also explain why you can only play as humans. If the Nephlim here are any indication, then the Empire in it’s infinite wisdom has decided to start a genocidal war with any non-human race it encounters. There’s probably been all sorts of interesting species stuffed down here, each one with a grudge and an axe to grind against anything human. Like say… us. Good times!
So welcome to combat in Avernum. all fights take place directly on the map and use a simple AP system. Each character can move up to so many spaces and take an action, like attacking or casting a spell, that ends their turn immediately. Right now there’s not much to combat. all of my characters started with some basic armor and a short sword, So fights boil down to rushing the enemy and attempting to stab them to death before they can do the same to you.
That said my two spellcasters did start with some spells such as these handy fire bolts on my sorcerer Cordelia. They do decent damage for now and only cost 1 energy (The game’s version of MP) to cast, so it’s fairly safe for me to throw one out every turn.
The cats are easy enough to deal with, though we soon run into giant rats around the next corner. Fortunately my priest, Mycroft has a smite spell. It’s similar to the fire bolt, though it costs 4 energy. I’ll mostly keep the priest on stabbing duty for now. I have a shield spell, but enemies here are weak enough that I don’t need it right now.It’s also worth noting to be careful with positioning in combat, as your party members can’t pass through each other. A screw-up in positioning got my soldier, Aldous stuck in the back. This is alright though as it enemies can enter battle from a ways off. While I was fighting the rats up ahead, another one hiding out of sight around the corner below charged at our backs.
Still it’s easy enough to deal with. Once that dead end’s clear however, the other path leads to a cave split by a pool and…
“You are an Avernite?”
He laughs, a grim, raspy sound. “I Would not say that. I don’t think that the Avernites are very fond of me right now.”
“Are we the only people here?”
“No. There are a few others in the Arrival Caves. That’s what the Avernites call these chambers Though they didn’t control them as well as they should have.”
“What do you mean?”
He points at something hanging around his neck. It’s a key. “These caves are where all the new human arrivals are supposed to end up. Then the Avernites, noble beings that they are, find you and bring you out and help you. …”
“But then I stole this key. I came down here and locked the gates behind me. now you are all stuck down here with me and my helpers.”
“Why did you come back down here?”
“For wealth and weapons. For the first pick of the goods the Empire sends down from time to time. And, of course, for hostages.”
“When we are ready, we will trade your lives for our escape, and we will seize our own part of the caves!” He lets out a long, shrill laugh. Perhaps he is not entirely sane.
“Why are you doing this?”
“Because we are free! Don’t you understand? The Empire holds us down no longer! Now, at last, the strong can survive and flourish and make our own, new land! Do you think you are tougher than me? Because if not, you will serve us!”
“And what do you think you will get from me?”
“Just intelligence. now I know how many of you there are and how you are armed. Now my servants will be prepared.”
He gives you one more little bow, lets out a harsh laugh, and turns to leave.
“I will not answer to scum like you.”
He stops for a moment. Then he nods. “I expected that. You don’t have the look for a weakling, or a thug. I suspect you have something in common with the Avernites above. Too much.”
“No, There is something I want from you. Prepare yourself. I will take it soon.” He turns and walks quickly into the shadows.
Well. He didn’t immediately try to kill us, so that’s an improvement. Nind he’s planning to kill us later so it’s not much of an improvement. but with how things have been going so far we’ll take what we can get.
He wasn’t kidding about the hostages either. Here’s a bunch right down the hallway. Most don’t want to talk, they’re a tad too busy being terrified. Thought the woman watching over them seems willing to explain things.
“How did you come to be here?”
“The Others?” She looks at the three cowering in the corner. “I don’t know. They are barely able to talk. As for me, I suppose that I was disloyal to the Empire.”
“How were you disloyal?”
She winces. “I Refused to give one of the mayors my favor. He decided to take his own petty revenge. And … I would not speak of it further.”
“Will they be alright?”
“Perhaps, if we can get out of these caves and get them a moment’s safety.”
“I have another question. Do you need my help?”
“I … I would not beg a stranger for aid, except that our situation is desperate. There is a cretin down here. His name is Lagran, and he has a pack of brigands and thugs to help him.”
“We can’t escape this basement while he blocks the exit. I can’t fight him off. I need your help.” Can you give it?”
“I will free you from these caves.”
She nods and looks at the others. For the first time, they look up at you, emerging a tiny bit from the catatonia. “I thank you. I knew, from the moment I saw you, that you were a warrior with honor. We will wait here.”
She returns to standing guard and watching over the others.
I probably could of asked for pay to save them. But I didn’t want to and besides, I’m pretty sure the local thugs already took anything remotely valuable.That said, they did give me a couple of healing potions.
Not long before we find more brigands. These are likely the ones Lagran had waiting for us.No point trying to talk. I end up surprising the group by skipping the usual banter and/or pleading and simply attacking.This time I decide to have a little fun. I have Cordelia cast cloak of curses, a group spell that causes my attacks to have a chance to curse enemies. Rolan’s brilliant plan to stand front and center with everyone behind him means he doesn’t last too long.He’s first to hit the floor when the fighting start.
“No! I still have the key! I can start again, once .. you are dead. I won’t let them throw me into this Abyss! Come on!” He charges you. his warriors, seeing no other option, regretfully follow him.
Lagran must of taught Rolan how to fight, because here we see him making the exact same mistake of standing out in front, alone. The cloak of curses spell is still active from the last fight, and Cordelia gets lucky with the daze spell that leaves all of his buddies stunned.
To his credit he’s a lot tougher than Rolan. I even have to have Mycroft drop a minor heal spell at one point. The fight likely would of taken awhile, but once I get him down to about half health…
With Lagran gone the remaining thugs are easy enough to mop up, and explore what looks like a sleeping area off to the side. Throughout the cave I’ve manage to pick up some odds and ends, A couple bits of armor, an extra weapon or two, some coins, a bit of food, and some valuable I can sell later. Useful, but nothing extremely interesting.