Game Canon

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Out of Character (OOC)
This entry is written in an Out of Character (OOC) perspective. It references real-life concepts and persons, or it reveals information that cannot possibly be known by an inhabitant of Ermarian. To maintain an authentic atmosphere of the Encyclopedia as a work compiled by loremasters within Ermarian itself, entries like these should be kept to a minimum.


This page lists several essential quotes drawn from the context of the Spiderweb game series that establish important facts about Ermarian.

Exile Series

Exile I - Escape from the Pit

Introduction

  • Screen One:
The trial was completed, and the sentence was passed. There was no appeal. There was no need. It wasn't as if it was considered a terribly awful sentence, anyway.
After all, you had not committed one of the hard crimes. You were not thieves, or pirates, or murderers. Sentences for those offenses were harsh and generally fatal. Hard miscreants inevitably died.
No, your crime was one of not fitting in. Of rebelling, or being peculiar in some way, or speaking out against the crown. And for those "soft crimes", the punishment was considered just, appropriate, and, most of all, lenient.
Well, at least it was considered lenient by those who fit in with society, those who got to live the rest of their lives above-ground.
Living in the light of the sun, however, was a privilege that had just been stripped from you. All of you were taken to a portal, a one-way, permanent teleporter, and thrown in.
  • Screen Two
You come to in a giant cave, unlike any you have ever seen before. Green, luminescent fungi on the ceiling show you how high it goes - hundreds of feet.
The cave goes on for what seems like miles in all directions. One of its walls stretches up ominously nearby, and in the other directions it goes on far beyond the range of your vision in this dim light.
It is especially difficult to see things about the cave you are in because you are "indoors". As your eyes adjust, you see you are in a fort. Walls and buildings surround you, made of large blocks of stone crudely mortared together.
There are people too, thin, pale people, going about their business. Most pay little attention to you, but one, a small man, watches you carefully from a little ways away.
  • Screen Three
Welcome to Exile.

Exile II - Crystal Souls

Introduction

Exile is a state of being. An Exile is a person who has been expelled from his or her country. To exile someone is to declare that person an undesirable, a person who must leave and can never return.
Exile is also a place. It is an enormous network of tunnels and caverns far below the surface world. For years, the Empire, undisputed master of the surface world, has used these caverns as a dumping ground for the unwanted.
Men and women, skilled and unskilled, elderly and young children alike, were sent through a one-way teleporter into the caverns below. There, they survived, endured, and formed a society.
They waited, and bided their time.
They desired to return to the surface. They desired revenge.
And they struck back.
The Empire made the mistake of sending into Exile several powerful mages who had become too inconvenient to keep around safely. They were a great help in building the nation under the world, and waited for the chance of vengeance.
Then, they had their chance. The strongest of them all, Erika, managed to teleport a group of adventurers to the surface, where they assassinated Hawthorne, the powerful and brilliant King [sic] of the Empire.
The others used their skill to help the Exile army defeat the sinister Slithzerikai, a race of vicious lizard men. Exile was now safe from threats in the underworld.
The Empire realized, overnight, what a brood of vipers they had given birth to. There were two reactions. The first was sudden. Nobody else was teleported below. The misfits of the surface were kept in prisons, rather than caves.
The second reaction came five years later, after it became clear that Exile was surviving just fine without fresh people from the surface.
The Empire invaded.
Soldiers, priests and mages were teleported into the underworld, slowly at first, then faster. The exiles have waged a vicious guerilla war against them, but little by little, the denizens of the caves are being wiped out.
Your band was part of one of the last groups sent into Exile. After Hawthorne was killed, you were hired into the Exile army as adventurers - a small band designed to take care of jobs calling for small, stealthy groups.
You have just arrived at Fort Ganrick. You are there to help the garrison there fight a tribe of Nephilim, fierce, feline humanoids. You are in your quarters. Cecile, the captain there, has told you to go see her after settling in.
So do what you can. But remember. Every day, the Empire invaders carve up a little bit more of your home. One by one, your people are being put to the sword. The question - what are you going to do about it? What can you do?
Welcome to Exile. How long do you plan on staying?

Chapter I - The Barriers

Exile III - Ruined World

Introduction

This text's format derives from its placement as subtitles below an introductory animation.
  Exile (verb) 
 -To banish or expel ...
  from one's native land.
  Exile is also a place 
 -many miles of caves and tunnels,
  far below the world's surface.
  The Empire rules the surface totally.
  When they discovered Exile,
  they had the perfect use for it:
  a prison.
  Everyone who didn't fit in:
  the rebels,
  the antisocial,
  the disliked.
  They were teleported to Exile ...
  forever.
  The Exiles were not inactive.
  They built subterranean cities.
  They learned to fight.
  They studied magic.
  They built their strength,
  and when they were ready ...
  they got their revenge.
  The archmage Erika made her own teleporter. 
  Emperor Hawthorne ruled the Empire. 
  He was brilliant ...
  ... and ruthless ...
  and hated totally.
  Hawthorne: WHAT?
  Garzahd: Oh Hell.
  Garzahd: Takos?
  Takos: Yes?
  Garzahd: It is time to deal with Exile.
  Takos: Yes, Garzahd.
  Exile struck down the Emperor.
  Four years later ...
  ... the Empire invaded.
  Exile was outgunned ...
  ... and outnumbered.
  The Empire War was thought lost ...
  ... until Exile found an ally.
  The alien Vahnatai joined you ...
  ... and turned the tide.
  The Empire was expelled.
  Exile won the Empire war.
  Five years passed.
  Nothing was heard from the Empire.
  The Exiles decided ...
  ... that it was time to return ...
  ... to the surface.
  They built a teleporter ...
  ... and formed Upper Exile ...
  ... a new series of caves ...
  ... just below the surface.
  They then selected someone ...
  ... to explore the surface ...
  ... for the first time:
  You.
  Your testing was extensive ...
  ... and very painful.
  Your briefing was considerable ...
  Instructor: This ...
  Instructor: ... is a TREE!
  Adventurer: What's it for?
  ... and confusing.
  You were sent up to Fort Emergence 
  in Upper Exile. 
  You are to go see 
  someone named Anaximander to get your 
  orders, and then go up to the surface.
  All Exile waits on you.
  All wait to see what you'll find.
  They want to return to the surface.
  You carry the dreams of your people.
  Good luck.

Avernum Series

Avernum I - Escape from the Pit

Introduction

  • Screen One
You are never going to see sunlight again. You will never breathe fresh air, or be warm, or feel safe.
That is your punishment. For your crimes, you are to be thrown into a magical portal and banished to Avernum, never to return. What was your crime? Not what you might think.
Not murder, or arson, or crimes against other people. No, your crime was against the Empire, ruled by the cruel Emperor Hawthorne. You spoke out against an unjust law, or you angered some politician, or you may have just been a misfit.
Not being able to fit in is a crime in the Empire. Thus, you are being sent to Avernum. It is not a different land. After all, the Empire controls the entire surface of the world. All four continents have completely submitted to its rule.
No, Avernum is a series of caverns, far below the surface of the world. It is a dark, subterranean prison, a place where exiles like yourselves spent the rest of their lives, far from the light.
  • Screen Two:
What is it like there? Nobody on the surface knows. All they know is that it is dark, and unpleasant, and that it is a place to be regarded only with fear.
Some people believe that there is no air, warmth, or food, and death comes with merciful speed. Others believe that there is enough food to enable Avernites to endure a miserable, wormlike existence. Until, of course, the monster get you.
And a few believe that Avernum is a paradise. A subterranean land of pleasure and relief, and of freedom from the Empire's iron rule. People mad enough to believe Avernum is paradise soon end up there themselves.
They don't really know what it is like. Nobody on the surface does. But soon, you will. There is no appeal to the judge's decision.
  • Screen Three:
Early one morning, in a low stone building far from any city, you are taken to the teleporter. You breathe clean, fresh air one last time.
Then they throw you in...

Stagnant Tunnels (Waterfall Warrens)

  • Entering
The tunnel opens up on a section of river long cut off from the tumult of rapids outside. This water in here has long been still and stagnant, and a foul smell pervades the place. You have to fight to keep from gagging.
In front of you, you see several human skeletons, surrounded by the mostly rotted wreckage of some small boats. A large group of people met an unpleasant fate in these caves.
  • Well
In the middle of this small room is a well. A moist wind bearing a foul, unsettling smell wafts slowly from it. You shine your light into it, but can't see a bottom. You throw a light into its depths and listen, but you don't hear it hit.
The sides of the well are far too steep to climb down. A very interesting geological feature, but there isn't much you can do with it.
  • The site of Thralni's death
This cave has been a scene of intense destruction. A tunnel leads out of the cavern to the east. Apparently, someone set off a magical trap down there. The flames from the resulting explosion poured into this room.
Most of the supplies on the bodies have rotted or rusted away. A few items do remain, though, a final testimony to the quality of the armor workmanship of the Empire army.
The most interesting thing, though, to your greedy adventurers' eyes, is the glint of light in the southeast corner of the cave. There's something shiny back there.

Avernum II - Crystal Souls

Introduction

  • Screen One
Avernum is the underworld. It is a series of hundreds of miles of caves, far below the surface of the world. The land is kept alive and fruitful by powerful magic and the heat and energy of natural steam vents and hot springs.
Avernum is also a nation. It is a land of people exiled from the surface world. The surface is ruled by the Empire, an all-powerful nation who disposed of unwanted people by banishing them to Avernum.
They formed a new nation, far from the eyes of the Empire. Some, however, were not satisfied with safety and peace. They wished vengeance. Adventurers, aided by the archmage Erika, slew Hawthorne, cruel leader of the Empire.
The Empire was stunned. They realized that there was a den of vipers threatening their sole control of the globe. They had no other possible response.
They invaded.
  • Screen Two:
The power of the Empire completely dwarfed that of the Avernites, but it had great difficulty teleporting troops to the underworld. They arrogantly thought that Avernum could be subdued with a few hundred elite Empire troops.
They were wrong. The dirst few hundred soldiers sent down had great success, at first. But, after the surprise wore off, they found out that the Avernites were brave warriors, with powerful magicians on their side.
In addition, they had advantage of familiarity. They were used to living and fighting in caves. The Empire wasn't. The Empire soldiers were fought to a bloody standstill.
The Empire sent more troops down, but the brave army of Avernum kept them at bay. The Empire grew frustrated and angry, and then it turned to terror and atrocity. An, slowly, it ground away at Avernum's defenses.
Little by little, cave by cave, it won victories against Avernum. Then, when things looked like they couldn't get any worse, a new disaster occurred.
  • Screen Three:
Magical barriers appeared all over Avernum, splitting it into small sections and blocking the roads. Communication was difficult and carrying supplies was impossible. Nobody knew who made these barriers.
Maybe the Empire made them. Or maybe not. Just as the barriers appeared, you arrived at your first posting. You have just joined the army of Avernum, eager to join the good fight.
Your dreams of heroism were short-lived. You were, much to your disappointment, sent to Fort Ganrick, a tiny outpost in the far northeast corner of Avernum.
You dream of great battles, of great victories, of doing the deeds which turn the tide and save your homeland. Instead, you are supposed to report to Captain Vidican and learn about some tiny uprising in some unimportant caverns.
Your dreams of heroism are dim, now. It's hard to imagine anything that could happen which would enable you to strike a mighty blow against the Empire...

Avernum III - Ruined World

Introduction (incomplete)

[Caves]
Legends tell that Avernum
is the gateway to the underworld,
from which the dead never return.
Avernum is also a real place.
It is many miles of caves and tunnels,
far below the world's surface.
[Portal appears]
The Empire rules the surface totally.
When they discovered Avernum,
they had the perfect use for it:
[Man appears in the portal]
A prison.
Everyone who didn't fit in:
the rebels, [Mage appears]
the antisocial, [Soldier appears]
the disliked. [Archer appears]
They were teleported to Avernum ...
forever.
The Avernites were not inactive.
They built subterranean cities.
They learned to fight. [Soldiers duel]
They studied magic. [Mage casts Bolt]
They built their strength
and, when they were ready,
they got their revenge.
The archmage Erika
made her own teleporter. [Man steps into portal]
[Throne room, Hawthorne, Garzahd, Howar]
Emperor Hawthorne ruled the Empire.
He was brilliant
and ruthless
and despised.
[Assassin appears]
Hawthorne: WHAT? happen*?
[Assassin casts fire spell, Hawthorne dies]
[Assassin disappears]
[Garzahd casts bolt where the assassin no longer is]]
Garzahd: Oh dear.
[They face each other]
Garzahd: Howar?
Howar: Yes?
Garzahd: It is time to deal with Avernum.
Howar: Yes, Garzahd.
[Back to caves]
Avernum struck down the Emperor.
Four years later ...
[Teleport three times]
...the Empire invaded.
[Battle scene]
[Avernites get asses kicked]
Avernum was outgunned ...
... and outnumbered.
The Empire War was thought lost...
... until Avernum found an ally.
[Vahnatai appear]
The alien Vahnatai joined you...
[Vahnatai kick the Empire around]
... and turned the tide.
[Wizard disappears]
The Empire was expelled.
[Fade to black]
Avernum won the Empire war.
Five years passed.
Nothing was heard from the Empire
The Avernites decided
that it was time to return
to the surface.
They built a teleporter,
and formed Upper Avernum
a new series of caves
just below the surface.
...
to explore the surface
for the first time.
You.
Your testing was extensive
[shot by arrow]
[hit with sword]
[hit by fire spell]
and very painful.
Your briefing was considerable ...
Instructor: This...
Instructor: ... is a TREE!
Player: What's it for?
... and confusing.
You were sent up to Fort Emergence
...
All Avernum waits on you.
All wait to see what you'll find.
They want to return to the surface.
You carry the dreams of your people.
Good luck.

-- *Sorry.

Books

The Life of Empress Prazac

The Life of Empress Prazac, by Flotno Boerheis

Our blessed Empress and ruler, Prazac the Kind and Just, was born in Y.E. 5420. Her royal parents, Hawthorne and [censored], waited nearby, anxious and loving.
It is said that angels appeared and the sky opened up in holy light on the eve of her birth. Eyewitness accounts prove this story true in legally enforceable ways. This was a great harbinger of the wondrous works she was later to achieve.
The Story of the Troglodytes

We know not where we came from. One day we were not. The next day, we were. We know we were once a mighty people. Then we were not. Now again we are. But the generations between are gone. We have ancestors, but no fathers or mothers.

They who brought us back again are called by us the Glowing Ones. They brought us to get our vengeance on the humans who took us from the world. This was good to us! Great, we said, would be the flow of blood that we would bring forth! But then, curse the Glowing Ones, they brought back the giants to fight with us as well! The giants, the great enemy! We remember little, but we remember that! The Ones connected our castle to that of the giants by a tunnel. What a gift!

We charged through the tunnel, and they charged back. The Glowing Ones, curse them, were angered! We must fight humans, they said! So they closed the tunnel with the Great Barrier, and the giants were far from us. But our foes exist, and we will feed on them yet. One day the barrier will come down, and our war may be resumed. Until then, humans will be our meat. But we live by the Great Dream.

The Lands of the Empire

THE LANDS OF THE EMPIRE - The Empire, blessed power over us all, controls the four known continents. Aizo, the oldest, is the birthplace of the Empire, although the ruling seat is now on the continent of Pralgad. Vantanas is the smallest continent, but in many ways the richest, with its hot climate, fascinating fauna, and rich stores of gold and diamonds. And finally, there is the recently settled Valorim, which has a wild(though controlled) spirit.

Blades of Avernum

Chapter 2: The World of Avernum (Manual)

The surface world is ruled by the Empire. That's what it's called. The Empire. Not the Empire of Something, or the Something Empire. Just the Empire. It's understandable. There's no need for elaborate names when there's only one game in town. And, like all such nations, it grew arrogant in its power.

For many years, the Empire banished everyone who didn’t fit in. Eccentrics, petty criminals, malcontents, all were regarded as undesirable by the Empire. And, for many years, these unwanted citizens were sent into Avernum.

According to mythology, Avernum is a gateway, the portal leading into the underworld. Avernum is also an actual place. It is a network of hundreds of miles of caves and tunnels, forming an enormous, weblike labyrinth of warrens under the surface of the world. Kept lit by magic, fed by fungus, and populated by the unending stream of humans (and humanoids) from the surface, the people of Avernum struggled by as best they could for many years. Generations of exiles lived and suffered in the underworld for their entire lives.

When Avernum was established, however, the Empire, complacent and arrogant, made its greatest mistake. It sent down several powerful mages, who were on the wrong side of a political struggle. The winners, Emperor Hawthorne and the archmage Garzahd, were confident that sending down these archmagi would not be a problem. They even thought that maybe their skills could later be harnessed, once they were beaten down by several years rotting in the sunless lands.

Avernum Strikes Out

They could not have been more wrong.

Some of the Avernite wizards, like Rone, Solberg, and Patrick, were content simply building a better life for their fellow prisoners. One of them, however, was named Erika Redmark. A harsh and vindictive incantatrix, she enlisted a band of adventurers, made tough by their years below, in a wild, dangerous, and eventually successful scheme. She wanted to assassinate Hawthorne, brilliant Emperor of the surface world.

Erika created a magical portal and recruited a group of adventurers to help her. She intended to use her portal to drop these warriors directly in front of Hawthorne so they could strike before he could react.

Her plan worked perfectly. Hawthorne was killed in his own throne room.

The Avernum War

The response was immediate and vicious. First, the portal into Avernum was closed. Nobody was to be sent through. Second, other portals were created, able to send people on the surface into remote areas of Avernum. Soldiers were sent down there, the finest soldiers in the Empire’s army. They had one mission: Vengeance. Not one citizen in this subterranean den of vipers was to escape alive.

In launching this invasion, however, the Empire made their critical mistake. They discovered a new, bizarre, humanoid race living even farther down in the caves - the vahnatai. These creatures were highly intelligent and resourceful, and very skilled in the use of crystals to perform powerful feats of magic. The vahnatai have the ability to take the spirits of their ancestors and bring them back in crystalline form. These new beings, the Crystal Souls, were their spiritual guides and the most revered beings among their people.

The Empire, seeing how strange and powerful the Crystal Souls were, kidnapped three of them. The vahnatai, appalled by the magnitude of this crime but unsure of the identity of the perpetrators, attacked Avernum.

Fortunately, aided by the peaceful vahnatai Bon-Ihrno, a group of bold Avernites were able to infiltrate the Empire controlled areas of Avernum, steal the Crystal Souls, and return them to their rightful owners. In return, the vahnatai joined forces with Avernum and used their mighty magic to slaughter the Empire troops. The Empire War finally ended, bloody but victorious for Avernum.

Returning to the Surface

Aided by Erika Redmark and their new vahnatai allies, the Avernites built a mighty teleporter, a magical machine able to instantly send people from the caves to the surface. Avernum slowly and secretly built Upper Avernum, a new network of cave cities just below the surface of the continent of Valorim. The plan was for the Avernites to emerge, in force, and find a way to take from the Empire a chunk of land to use as their own. And they did.

A small band of Avernite spies emerged onto the surface and found a world wracked by war, tormented by plagues of vicious and cunning monsters, created and sent by unknown foes.

These spies investigated and discovered that the monsters had been sent by the vahnatai, a mission of vengeance for the Empire’s theft of their prized Crystal Souls. These adventurers met Prazac, the new empress of the Empire, and offered to end the plagues in return for the Avernites being able to return to the surface. Then they found and challenged Rentar-Ihrno, wizard lord of the vahnatai, and destroyed her fortress. She escaped, but the monster plagues ended.

Peace, and Discord

The years since then have been quiet. The vahnatai sulked and planned in their warrens far underground. Some Avernites returned to the surface, while others stayed in their new home.

Empress Prazac continued to solidify her control over the Empire. However, the death of the harsh Emperor Hawthorne emboldened many who wanted to throw off the total control of their Empire masters. Small rebellions and resistance groups began to break out.

The forces of magic continued to create instability in the world. Magical races, like the slithzerikai and the drakes, continued to reappear, despite the Empire’s constant efforts to wipe them out.

In this peaceful age, there is still a constant need for adventurers, mercenaries who can travel to remote lands and solve problems too small to merit sending in the army. This is your job. You are troubleshooters, solving problems for the Empire and Avernum for pay.

You have just ended your training. You have stepped out into a large, unpredictable world, filled with mighty cities, great wealth, temporary peace, and occasional chaos and danger. Your job is to help to keep calm and order.

And, hopefully, become rich and famous. Or at least not dead.

Avernum Second Trilogy

Avernum 4

Chapter 2: The World of Avernum (From manual)

The surface world is ruled by the Empire. That's what it's called. The Empire. Not the Empire of Something, or the Something Empire. Just the Empire. It's understandable. There's no need for elaborate names when there's only one game in town. And, like all such nations, it grew arrogant in its power.

For many years, the Empire banished everyone who didn’t fit in. Eccentrics, petty criminals, malcontents, all were regarded as undesirable by the Empire. And, for many years, these unwanted citizens were sent into Avernum.

According to mythology, Avernum is a gateway, the portal leading into the underworld. Avernum is also an actual place. It is a network of hundreds of miles of caves and tunnels, forming an enormous, weblike labyrinth of warrens under the surface of the world. Kept lit by magic, fed by fungus, and populated by the unending stream of humans (and humanoids) from the surface, the people of Avernum struggled to get by as best they could for many years. Generations of exiles lived and suffered in the underworld for their entire lives.

When Avernum was established, however, the Empire, complacent and arrogant, made its greatest mistake. It sent down several powerful mages, who were on the wrong side of a political struggle. The winners, Emperor Hawthorne and the archmage Garzahd, were confident that sending down these archmagi would not be a problem. They even thought that maybe their skills could later be harnessed, once they were beaten down by several years rotting in the sunless lands.

Avernum Strikes Out

They could not have been more wrong.

Some of the Avernite wizards, like Rone, Solberg, and Patrick, were content simply building a better life for their fellow prisoners. One of them, however, was named Erika Redmark. A harsh and vindictive incantatrix, she enlisted a band of adventurers, made tough by their years below, in a wild, dangerous, and eventually successful scheme. She wanted to assassinate Hawthorne, brilliant Emperor of the surface world.

Erika created a magical portal and recruited a group of adventurers to help her. She intended to use her portal to drop these warriors directly in front of Hawthorne so they could strike before he could react.

Her plan worked perfectly. Hawthorne was killed in his own throne room.

The Avernum War

The response was immediate and vicious. First, the portal into Avernum was closed. Nobody was to be sent through. Second, other portals were created, able to send people on the surface into remote areas of Avernum. Soldiers were sent down there, the finest soldiers in the Empire’s army. They had one mission: Vengeance. Not one citizen in this subterranean den of vipers was to escape alive.

In launching this invasion, however, the Empire made their critical mistake. They discovered a new, bizarre, humanoid race living even farther down in the caves - the vahnatai. These creatures were highly intelligent and resourceful, and very skilled in the use of crystals to perform powerful feats of magic. The vahnatai have the ability to take the spirits of their ancestors and bring them back in crystalline form. These new beings, the Crystal Souls, were their spiritual guides and the most revered beings among their people.

The Empire, seeing how strange and powerful the Crystal Souls were, kidnapped three of them. The vahnatai, appalled by the magnitude of this crime but unsure of the identity of the perpetrators, attacked Avernum.

Fortunately, aided by the peaceful vahnatai Bon-Ihrno, a group of bold Avernites were able to infiltrate the Empire-controlled areas of Avernum, steal the Crystal Souls, and return them to their rightful owners. In return, the vahnatai joined forces with Avernum and used their mighty magic to slaughter the Empire troops. The Empire War finally ended, bloody but victorious for Avernum.

Returning To the Surface

Aided by Erika Redmark and their new vahnatai allies, the Avernites built a mighty teleporter, a magical machine able to instantly send people from the caves to the surface. Avernum slowly and secretly built Upper Avernum, a new network of cave cities just below the surface of the continent of Valorim. The plan was for the Avernites to emerge, in force, and find a way to take from the Empire a chunk of land to use as their own. And they did.

A small band of Avernite spies emerged onto the surface and found a world wracked by war, tormented by plagues of vicious and cunning monsters, created and sent by unknown foes.

These spies investigated and discovered that the monsters had been sent by the vahnatai, a mission of vengeance for the Empire’s theft of their prized Crystal Souls. These adventurers met Prazac, the new empress of the Empire, and offered to end the plagues in return for the Avernites being able to return to the surface. Then they found and challenged Rentar-Ihrno, wizard lord of the vahnatai, and destroyed her fortress. She escaped, but the monster plagues ended.

Peace, and Discord

The years since then have been quiet. The vahnatai sulked and planned in their warrens far underground. Some Avernites returned to the surface, while others stayed in their new home.

Empress Prazac continued to solidify her control over the Empire. However, the death of the harsh Emperor Hawthorne emboldened many who wanted to throw off the total control of their Empire masters. Small rebellions broke out and resistance groups appeared.

The forces of magic continued to create instability in the world. Magical races, like the slithzerikai and the drakes, continued to reappear, despite the Empire’s constant efforts to wipe them out.

It was a peaceful age. Brave adventurers roamed the land, mercenaries who could travel to remote lands and solve problems too small to merit sending in the army. Slowly, methodically, goblins and bandits were purged from the lands.

A massive teleporter was built, enabling trade and travel between the Empire and Avernum. Once again, invaders from the Empire came to the underworld. This time, however, they came for exploration, or business, or even tourism. The cities of Avernum, destroyed by war, were rebuilt.

King Micah passed away. After much mourning, power peacefully transferred to Starrus, his chosen successor. And, except for the occasional skirmish with savage slithzerikai or brigands, the time of prosperity continued.

During this period, the vahnatai stopped communicating with Avernum. This was not seen as a real cause for concern. After all, your people had long ago stopped trying to comprehend the alien creatures of the lower caverns.

Your New Career

You came of age during this happy time. Young, talented, and ambitious, you decided to risk all for fame and wealth. And for those young Avernites with bravery but not the patience to ascend in business or the bureaucracy, there was only one route: adventuring!

You have just ended your training. You traveled to the cities of Avernum to learn the martial skills that will hopefully keep you alive. In the forts on the borders, you learned to use blades and bows. In the ruins of the Tower Colony, you explored the secrets of magic. And in the shrines of the great cities, you learned to channel your concentration and summon forth holy energy.

Then you sought employment. Avernum is always eager to hire adventurers. After being tested and paid a small stipend, you were hauled out to the remote regions of northern Avernum. You are stationed in Fort Monastery, at the far edges of settled lands. You are to do, well, whatever the commander needs.

It’s not a prestigious assignment, and it’s not well-paying. But it is a start. And, each night, you dream of the day when you can truly prove your worth. You hope and pray that, one day, fortune will shine upon and give you the chance to brave unspeakable horrors and danger and fight the foes of King Starrus and Avernum. And defeat them, or die trying.

Unfortunately, your luck is about to change. Your wishes are about to come true…

Avernum 5

Chapter 2: The Official Empire History of the World of Avernum

The surface world is ruled by the Empire. That's what it's called. The Empire. Not the Empire of Something, or the Something Empire. Just the Empire. Considering its unquestionable and lasting might, it is the only name that seems appropriate.

For many years, the Empire banished everyone who resisted its just and fair rule. Eccentrics, petty criminals, and similar malcontents were all understandably regarded as undesirable. And, for many years, these disruptive elements were sent into Avernum.

According to mythology, Avernum is a gateway, the portal leading into the underworld. Avernum is also an actual place. It is a network of hundreds of miles of caves and tunnels, forming an enormous, weblike labyrinth of warrens under the surface of the world. Kept lit by magic, fed by fungus, and populated by the unending stream of humans (and humanoids) from the surface, the people of Avernum struggled to get by as best they could for many years. Generations of exiles lived and suffered in the underworld for their entire lives. Sadly, they did not take this opportunity to learn the virtue of obedience.

When Avernum was established, the Empire also made one of its few mistakes. It sent down several powerful mages, who were on the wrong side of a political struggle. The winners, Emperor Hawthorne and the archmage Garzahd, were confident that sending down these archmagi would not be a problem. They even thought that maybe their skills could later be harnessed, once they were beaten down by several years rotting in the sunless lands.

Avernum Lashes Out

They could not have been more wrong.

Some of the Avernite wizards, like Rone, Solberg, and Patrick, were content simply building a better life for their fellow prisoners. One of them, however, was named Erika Redmark. A harsh and vindictive incantatrix, she enlisted a band of adventurers, made tough by their years below, in a wild, dangerous, and eventually successful scheme.

She wanted to assassinate Hawthorne, brilliant Emperor of the surface world. Erika created a magical portal and recruited a group of adventurers to help her. She intended to use her portal to drop these warriors directly in front of Hawthorne so they could strike before he could react. Her plan worked perfectly. These vile regicides slew Hawthorne in his own throne room.

The Avernum War

The Empire’s response was immediate. First, the portal into Avernum was closed.

Nobody was to be sent through. Second, other portals were created, able to send people on the surface into remote areas of Avernum. Soldiers were sent down there, the finest soldiers in the Empire’s army. They had one mission: Vengeance. Not one creature in this subterranean den of vipers was to escape alive.

In launching this invasion, however, the Empire made a critical mistake. They discovered a new, bizarre humanoid race living even farther down in the caves - the vahnatai. These creatures were highly intelligent, resourceful, dangerous, and skilled in the use of crystals to perform powerful feats of magic. The vahnatai have the ability to take the spirits of their ancestors and bring them back in crystalline form. These new beings, the Crystal Souls, were their spiritual guides and the most revered beings among their people.

The Empire, seeing how strange and powerful the Crystal Souls were, kidnapped three of them. For once, the Empire’s habitual mistrust of the non-human races did not act to its benefit. The vahnatai, offended by this action but unsure of the identity of the perpetrators, attacked Avernum.

Aided by the vahnatai, a group of Avernite rogues were able to infiltrate Empire lands in the underworld, steal the Crystal Souls, and return them to their previous owners. In return, the vahnatai joined forces with Avernum and used their magic to aid in savage and cowardly assaults on Empire troops. The Empire’s army in Avernum, troubled by the difficulty of sending reinforcements to the underworld, were forced to temporarily withdraw from the lands of the savages.

Returning To the Surface

The vahnatai, being a vindictive and alien race, then began to avenge themselves upon the Empire for the theft of their Crystal Souls. Even though these objects were returned, the vahnatai, led by their mad wizard Rentar-Ihrno, afflicted the Empire lands with plagues of enchanted monsters.

Even though the vahnatai were too weak and cowardly to face the Empire in fair battle, their creations did succeed in doing a fair amount of damage to the undeveloped continent of Valorim.

At the same time, aided by Erika Redmark and their new, bizarre vahnatai allies, the Avernites built a mighty teleporter, a magical machine able to instantly send people from the caves to the surface. Avernum slowly and secretly built Upper Avernum, a new network of cave cities just below the surface of the continent of Valorim. The plan was for the Avernites to emerge, in force, and find a way to steal from the Empire a chunk of land to use as their own. And they did.

The Avernites sent spies out into the devastated land of Valorim. There, these spies discovered the source of the monster plagues. To curry favor with the Empire, they hunted down and drove off Rentar-Ihrno, narrowly outracing the Empire agents sent to perform the same task.

These adventurers met Empress Prazac, the new, wise, and just leader of the Empire. In return for their aid, the Empress gave them a small parcel of land in Valorim to use as they saw fit. The Avernites were unable to actually slay Rentar-Ihnro, however, instead allowing her to flee.

Peace, and Discord

As Empress Prazac continued to solidify her control over the Empire, she changed the laws to create a stronger, more just land, marked by its tolerance for both non-human races and the Avernites. Some weak and misguided forces, angered by these changes, fomented small rebellion. These were, of course, rapidly crushed.

In Avernum and on the surface, it was a time of peace. Brave adventurers roamed the land, mercenaries who could travel to remote lands and solve problems too small to merit sending in the army. Slowly, methodically, goblins and bandits were purged from the lands.

A massive teleporter was built, enabling trade and travel between the Empire and Avernum. Once again, envoys from the Empire visited the underworld. This time, however, they went for exploration, or business, or even tourism. The cities of Valorim, destroyed by war, were rebuilt.

Eventually, the Avernite failure to slay Rentar-Ihrno was punished. The vengeful vahnatai returned and plagued Avernum with hordes of hostile, magical monsters. This appears to be her solution to every problem. A band of Avernite soldiers were able to find and decisively slay Rentar-Ihrno, leaving little doubt that she will never return in any form to plague humanity again.

Looking Ahead

Avernum is now a land of great value to the Empire. Empress Prazac’s policy of rewarding obedience and punishing disrespect has enabled the surface people to utilize their eccentric cave-dwelling cousins to full effect. Avernum is now a prime source of gemstones, crystals, slime of alchemical value, and other resources.

All loyal citizens of the Empire should be proud of Empress Prazac for bringing this unruly neighbor to heel and utilizing it for the good of our people.

Avernum 6

Chapter 2: The World of Avernum (Kept only the new parts)

The Time of Shades Alas, Avernum’s problems with the vahnatai had not ended. Rentar-Ihrno was still in the underworld, still lusting for vengeance upon humanity. She converted herself into a crystal soul, abandoning her body and adopting the form of the immortal spirits of her kind. And then she attacked Avernum.

As before, she assaulted her target with magical constructs. Enormous beasts swam through the rivers and lakes, destroying all boats they saw. Powerful shades roamed through the cities, clouding the minds of the residents. And, in the chaos, hordes of monsters emerged from the low caverns.

Happily for Avernum, heroes once again emerged to fight the attackers. With great courage and skill, the shades were repulsed. Rentar-Ihrno was tracked down to her volcanic lair and finally destroyed. An uneasy peace with the vahnatai was restored.

A New Emperor

In the Empire, things were also less than tranquil. Not all of the warriors on the surface approved of their nation’s new, tolerant policies. For some, hate for Avernum burned strong. This new generation of rebels formed a secret society called the Darkside Loyalists, determined to overthrow the Empire and put a new strongman in charge.

And thus, they assassinated Empress Prazac. Their leader and killer, Dorikas, fled into Avernum. He hoped to hide from the Empire’s wrath. He did not succeed. A small group of agents sent by the Empire tracked him down and killed him.

In the chaos, a member of the Redmark clan rose to take power. Emperor Manfred Redmark seized the crown. Fortunately, he, like the empress before him, was a friend of Avernum. And thus, peace returned. For a time.

The Blight and the Horde

Avernum has always had a precarious existence. It has always been difficult to find enough food in the caves to keep its people alive. And yet, in these prosperous times, more and more treasure seekers came to the underworld, stretching its resources. Something had to give.

Then the Blight came. It was a noxious disease that devastated their mushroom crops, a staple of the Avernite diet. A single magical door, the Great Portal, linked the underworld to the surface. Food could be brought through it, but not nearly enough for everyone to survive. In a matter of months, famine and starvation was a real threat. Avernum’s citizens fled to the surface as fast as the portal could take them.

Then Avernum’s old enemy, the savage slithzerikai, saw in the chaos a chance to strike. They emerged from the low tunnels and rivers to the north. The weakened Avernite army was no match for them. In only a few months, all of northern Avernum was lost. The army of the Slith Horde waits at the edge of the Eastern Gallery, ready to swoop out and destroy the rest of your homeland.

Your New Career

You came of age during this unhappy time. Young, talented, and ambitious, you saw that the only way to be sure of your next meal was to join the Avernite army.

You were trained quickly. You traveled to the cities of Avernum to learn the martial skills that would hopefully keep you alive. In the forts on the borders, you learned to use blades and bows. In the ruins of the Tower Colony, you explored the secrets of magic. And in the shrines of the great cities, you learned to channel your concentration and summon forth holy energy.

And then you were sent to the Castle Food Depot, far from the war, to use your martial skills against those who would steal from the meager remaining food supplies. You have not yet had to use your deadly skills against Avernum’s own people, but all fear that that day might come.

It is a good post, as these things go. Calm. Safe. Well-fed. Far from the front. And yet, circumstances will have a way of quickly propelling you into the center of the action...

External Links

Complete text dumps of the Exile/Avernum games