Avernum: Escape from the Pit [13] – Final Thoughts and Advice

As you might know, I’ve completed Avernum a while ago. Since then, I haven’t written much about it, but I did play it for a little while longer. I decided I want to finish up some of the simpler, quicker achievements and simply wrap up some loose ends.

Shovel Master

One of the achievements requires finding at least 40 of the various hidden caches scattered around the underworld. It took me a while, but I managed to find the 40 I needed. I’m not sure if there’s more than 40 in total, but the achievement requires no more than that, so the map I created on my search should help others with the game. So here it is, the map with locations to 40 hidden caches across the caves.

Avernum: Escape From the Pit, Treasure Locations

The map of Avernum, with treasure shoveling locations.

Gameplay Tips

Since I have the entirety of the game behind me now, I can also give you some quick tips on character builds, skills, and various other things. The game is not to difficult, so no amount of power play is needed, but for those who prefer to play that way, or even for those who are just slightly interested, the following advice might be helpful.

First of all, don’t worry about class choice if you’re playing on the normal difficulty. As long as you play remotely smart, you’ll do just fine with any class and any reasonable build. It’s only on higher difficulties that this becomes important.

If you  prefer to play on the higher difficulties, or if you just want to feel powerful, here are some tips:

  • Archer’s are weak. Seriously, ranged classes are the weakest characters, no matter the build. They will be good enough for normal, but you should probably not be taking them on hard unless you want a bigger challenge.
  • Two melee and two spellcasters is the way to go. Spellcasters are by far the more powerful, but with more than two, you might have trouble getting enough money to learn all the important spells.
  • Dual wield is better than a two handed weapon or a sword and shield combination. You will do more damage and you won’t lose so much on defence that it becomes a handicap. Likewise, melee weapons are superior to spears and ranged weapons.
  • Teach some basic healing spells to one of your melee characters. It can help a lot to be able to throw an extra heal every now and then. It’s in no way essential, though.
  • Get Adrenaline Rush for everyone. Each of your characters should pickup enough base weapon skills to get this discipline. It seriously boosts the power of your mages and can end most fights before the enemy even has a chance to act. Use training NPCs and items for those couple of extra points.

Skills

There are three different utility skills in game, which allow you to find more items, learn spells and get past certain points:

  • Tool Use – You need an 8 minimum to actually finish the game. 11 is enough to get all the good and useful items. 13 is needed to escape from a dragon in late game and 14 is needed to get the loot in the final dungeon. I recommend you get to 14 on your first run, to get and see everything, but 11 is enough for all the future runs.
  • Cave Lore – This one isn’t really needed at all. It’s required to get the hidden caches and 10 is enough to get all of them. This is why I recommend 10 points on the first run, and no points at all for future runs.
  • Arcane Lore – Required to learn spells from books. 12 points is needed to be able to decipher every tome in the game. 10 is more than enough for future runs. Be sure to make use of the feat Sage Lore, which lowers the Arcane Lore requirement by 3 per point invested.

There’s plenty of combat skills in the game, but not all are as effective, so be sure to prioritize increasing the better ones first.

  • The Melee Weapons skill is needed for everyone to get Adrenaline Rush, but especially needed for your fighters. However, you can learn two levels of each other weapon skill (Spear, Bow, Missile) at a trainer, so there is no need to invest more than 10 points here.
  • Likewise, the Bow skill is needed by your archer, if you really want to use one. While both archers and missile weapon specialists are weak, bows are slightly better than missile weapons. I still recommend not using an archer, though.
  • Hardiness should probably be maxed out for most characters by the end of the game. Fighters should do it sooner, of course.
  • Increase Parry last, only if you have maxed out all of your other skills.
  • For offensive skills, Blademaster is strongest, followed by Lethal Blow and Dual Wielding. Increase them in that order.

As for magic skills, you won’t have as many here, but for those you do, max all of them out.

  • Mage Spells should go to 17 in order to get all the important ones. Priest Spells should go to 6-16, depending on which spells you would like. Of course, you should get them higher on first run, in order to be able to get the achievements.
  • Spellcraft should be maxed out soon. Put points into it while still increasing your Mage/Priest Spells skill.
  • Resistance is almost as good as Hardiness, so everyone should max it out eventually.

Traits

There are many different traits/feats available, but most are not worth taking. The notable ones are Improved Strength, Ambidextrous, Mighty Blows and Dual Blade Mastery for your fighters. You should probably prioritize taking all of those. For your magic users, get some Sage Lore, but prioritize Improved Intelligence. Your mages especially should get Elemental Focus, which is even better than Spellcraft.

Everyone should take a point in Negotiator as soon as it’s available (at level 8, I believe). This improves your income significantly. A good idea for power gamers would be to delay selling anything until level 8. As for other utility traits, Negotiator can be useful, but not much else. Good, Robust and Perfect Health traits are a must for all your characters.

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