Part 25: The Great Map Update (1)Update 022A The Great Map Update and Things Missed 1
Hello everyone! I'm going to take a break from the story for a couple updates worth of missing maps and things I've missed.
I'll be honest here, maps are a chore. Back in Exile 1, every map outdoors or indoors was 48x48 squares, and the map display window was sized to fit it nice and neatly. This made mapping in the first game fairly easy. Take a shot of the window and make a copy to annotate. Easy!
Then Exile 2 came around, and they introduced multiple map sizes. I'm not going to complain about that, as the size of 32x32 for the 'small' map was simply a matter of more trimming, it was the larger 64x64 maps that became a problem. You see, the map window didn't get any bigger, but some maps the larger cities and dungeons grew out past the edge of the map window. That meant that I had to take four pictures per map, and stitch them together.
So, here's what I would have to work with:
This normally wouldn't be a problem as it was only the occasional large map that came up that needed the extra work.
And then Exile 3 came along.
And the vast majority of maps are now 64x64. Random town? 64X64! Outdoors? 64x64. And they're ugly. I liked the simple clean lines of the maps in E1 and E3. The full colour maps in E3? Ugh.
I'm starting this update with 173 map images to process. I have to edit sets of four like above down into a single image, including annotations. The things I do for my love of the game, and you guys.
Welcome to Fort Emergence! This particular map can be divided into four quarters. The upper-right is the Unspecified Services quarter, where we start the game, and get training. The lower-right is the Mage's Quarter, where we can talk to Barra about the evidence we find. In the lower-left is the Army Quarters, and we can pretty much ignore that except for the item storage room. Which I'm actually planning on using this time! The upper left is the administration quarter, and is where we communicate with Anaxiamander and deal with our major quests.
Not noted on this map and many others are where you can find wandering NPCs. Because they'll never be where I point.
The Portal Fortress is a transition map, marking a point from Upper Exile into the Tower of the Magi. Most of this map is empty space, the huge central area and the large room to the south the worst offenders. The Garbage includes the traditional fight against rats that I didn't really show off. The Armor is a set of Bronze Chainmail just lying on the ground, a freebe to reward people who explore around a town rather than just diving in. The woman handing out the quest to get her amulet from the Tower is in the upper-right.
Lastly, the ??? in the lower right is a place I haven't gone yet. And missed on my Things Missed run through.
The Tower of Magi is just as big as it was in Exile 2, and marks as far into Exile proper that we can go in the game. The outbound portal from E2 has been fixed to Upper Exile, and can no longer be used to get around. I made a mistake on the map though, the room in which Solberg is, and where I placed Peregrine are reversed. The lower-left '???' is probably the meeting room for the Triad, I just haven't broken in there yet.
On the right side, the Stores have this huge section of space joining them together. Normally, I would complain about that, but the Tower has always had sufficient space issues in the past that I'm not going to gripe here.
The Vahnatai portal is broken, and unusable, which is odd because there is indications that there is still a connection somewhere. I can only assume that once the state of emergency was resolved the Tower and the Vahnatai moved their respective ends of the portal to a less sensitive location.
And X is still in his library. We'll be visiting him soon-ish, as well as making another crack at the places I haven't seen yet here in the Tower.
The first dungeon most players will encounter if they're willing to take the hint, the Goblin Warrens is actually not that easy. Mostly because it's so damned big! Here, I will complain about the size inflation of the maps, and this particular dungeon is the first real problem. The river is a space guzzler, and the spiders (which I get in Things Missed) are a total near-waste of space. The entire upper-right of the map could have been folded into the left side, reducing the 'prison' area, or the walled off room in the lower left corner.
And behold! The first non-stitched together map. The Wolf Pit is a far more efficient use of space, and the enemies are actually a little bit more easier to handle thanks to choke points and the Wolves not having poisoned weapons. I sorta like how it connects the Goblins and Thieves, as that's the sort of thing that hasn't happened before in Exile but will happen again. There's a plot dungeon later on that can only be accessed by going through either of two distinct dungeons first.
I suspect that this place was built with the bandits in mind, due to the secret entrance to the treasure chest that holds the Vahnatai Statue.
You know, I'm not that annoyed by the size of the map here. The switch-backed secret hidden passages to enter from the front is a neat use of space, It's a very open map, but it doesn't feel wasteful at all. The forward barracks separated from the rear support building and officer's quarters makes this place feel a bit more natural in design, even though it's developed enough to have access to the Wolf Pits, and separate garbage disposal.
Now, I want to admit something straight up I didn't do Erika's Tower and Ghikra at this point, mostly because I wanted to save Erika's Map for later when I explore her tower in more completeness, and Ghikra because half the town is inaccessible at the moment, and I can't be arsed to cheat my way into there at this point. Besides, I have a couple more GMU's to do in the future, so I'll catch it in the future.
The map of Upper Exile is massively incomplete. Once again, I skipped over Erika's Tower at this point, and the current point in the story will take the party into the empty space on the left side of the map and north. There's not a lot of places in this section of the map though. It's still the early game, and unlike Exile 2's massive amount of places to visit inside the Barriers, Upper Exile doesn't have the same level of development.
I think I'll save my final opinion about this region for after we've explored it all.
Don't think too hard about the distance between the Goblins and the Bandits on the overworld map when compared to how far you travel through the connective dungeon.
Welcome to Krizsan, capital of the province of the same name! This is typically the first major city the player will encounter due to them being channeled southward by the mountain range to the north, and the river headed south. Here, and in Fort Emergence, we get everything the budding party needs to keep going.
Important locations here include the Mayor's office, for starting the Slime Quest officially, the south-eastern Inn to get the location of Jordan's Tower, and the Job Board first of its kind!
Other than that, the major point of interest is all the background information to be found here. For the longest time, we are given the impression of the monolithic control the Empire wields over the world, and yet here we get the very edge of civilization and that lack of control is something that people aren't used to experiencing. The Job Board, the quests being handed out these would normally be taken care of by the Empire, but they're not around any more.
Now, I'm not about to complain about the Inn of Blades at all. Yes, it's a boring place, yes the NPC's only give out one minor quest. Yes, it's wide open, and you can skip it without missing anything.
But that misses the real purpose of the Inn of Blades. If you take too long to resolve the Slimes, and the cities in the Krizsan province get damaged or worse yet, destroyed then vital NPC's travel to the Inn so they can be found and help the party still. While many other towns only have 3-5 iterations as time advances and they degrade, the Inn has over a dozen versions as new people show up. Therefore, the Inn of Blades gets a pass.
Delan is an interesting town. It's close enough to Krizsan that any services it offers is redundant, but also is needed to fill the space between Krizsan and Delis. Also, what's with the names? Delan then Delis! Did someone name these towns after people who were related or something?
Delis, source of food, a working Nephil, and the target of a quest issued in Pergies. Other than that, it's just another space filler of a town. But it does serve a larger purpose in the wider world, being the nearest port to Pergies, allowing them to ship their stores of minerals and metals out faster. It just lacks the warehouses to hold items until they are loaded or after they are unloaded.
I'm also writing these descriptions out of order, so forgive me if my impressions of towns bounce around.
Pergies is Exile 2's Fort Draco without the importance or utility. The only thing of note here is Paulo and his quest to Delis to retrieve his Herbs, but other than that, there is nothing of note here. Merry is redundant, and I never did find the shopkeep for the food store.
Of note, the town is blocked off from the North, but on the world map, you should be able to access it from all directions. Perhaps the town got moved at some point, or the town was designed with 'up against mountain' in the design document, but that note was not read when it came time to place it.
Wait, this isn't the town south-west of Fort Exile. This is a new town! Silvar is one of many, a very generic name as I addressed in the narrative when I first got here. It's also an important jumping off stop as the next safe town to the east is in the next province over, and their problems are far more violent than the Slimes.
The presence of the
Colchis ... warning to players of what happens should you fail in your mission. The Slimes will eat and devour their way through the cities, displacing the people until there is no where left to run, caught between plagues.
The reconciliation of the spirit in this city and the names of the first expedition up to the surface is purely me adapting the information from Avernum 3 to this game. And the equipment that the nameless spirit directs you too is actually pretty good the Helm of Alertness is practically end-game equipment!
Farpoint is the jumping off point for Bigail from Krizsan, but the most important location here, from a gameplay perspective, is the woman in the forge who can augment your weapons, the first (or nearest) such location in the game.
In terms of background and lore, the woman renting out a room to make ends meet while her husband is in the army is a sad case, and the mage providing identification services is one last chance to be introduced to the Anama in a time and place not on their terms.
Completely optional, the Pit is our first introduction to the Giants, and some of the more powerful enemies we could encounter. Helping the Dryad nets a nice reward, and if only the Airy Stone wasn't bugged out. Still, worth it to visit sooner rather than later.
What's this? A Dungeon that isn't oversized! Yes, I know I'm beating this into the ground, but the exceptions are fare more impressive than the rule.
On its own, Jordan's Tower would be a generic 'Bandit Camp led by a Wizard' style dungeon, but what makes this a cut above the chaff is what is under it. Jut remember that going to the right of the entrance takes you to the trap door dropping you down, and going left leads to a quartet of archers who are just Fireball bait, and allowing you further into the dungeon. Going south takes you downstairs in a more controlled fashion.
This is the first real, serious dungeon on the Surface that most people will encounter. Coming down from Jordan's Tower proper, the PCs are dumped in a position where they have to fight their way out.
The top half of the map is optional to explore, but still needed to pass though. You can go to the west, and head through the temple to get at Jordan's Lab that way, or you can go right, head through the other barracks, get the boat, and approach the Slime Pit from the rear. Just don't forget to browse Jordan's library after you kill him to get the map to the final dungeon for this quest!
Welcome to the end of the Slime Quest or at least the first half of the end. Your goal here is to use the central control panel to open up each of the five paths down in any order, go down and destroy the Slime Pit. Really, take them in any order, but I suggest finishing or at least approaching the Alien Slime from the upper-rightmost entrance. Not only does it have the shortest distance to the Alien, but also has the restorative pool right outside.
Don't worry if you see things listed I haven't covered the Things Missed Update will take care of that.
And here is the lower level. Five distinct paths, all of which converge on the Alien Slime itself. Kill it, and grab the evidence before you leave. Just take it slow and steady, and even if you finish on day 11 or even 12 you'll be fine and Kriszan Province won't take much damage.
And here we have the totality of the Krizsan Province. Nearly the size of the Great Cave back in Exile. And about 1/4 of the total overworld from north to south, and 1/2 of the map east to west.
I also want to apologize I neglected to take several screenshots, including filling out that white spot west of Guhkbar's Pit, and the rest of the road leading up through the Troglodyte Passage. As I mentioned at the start, I was working with 170 images to start with, and I missed a few.
Those places marked in a Yellow Circle either require the Orb (or Flight) to gain access to, or will requires poking for hidden passages along the water. I know I get to a couple in the next update, but I can't recall which at this point.
The defining feature of this Province is the massive mountain range that divides it north and south. The south side is far more developed, though civilization is advancing in from the east along the coast as well. Thankfully there are several ways through the mountains, especially important when you're running for the Isolated Hut.
Isle of Bigail
I start the Isle with its Capital Shayder. The home of the Anama Church. I didn't grab a shot of the upper floor of the Church itself I want to save that for when I rob the place.
As for the town itself, it's decompressed, but it's not wasteful like other cities. That's mostly due to the set piece of the Church itself, and a good chunk of the outer wall filled in by residences and the gates. This map is a good use of space between the open areas and the buildings. I like the layout, I just wish it wasn't because of the Anama.
This tiny map is, in my opinion, simply a means to get some XP while in Shayder, and to be rewarded with the gear from the dead bodies and the Wand of Fireballs. I find the fact that one of the boats in inaccessible without a boat to be hilarious.
The Point of Contemplation is a small map that at first seems fairly useless as a dungeon. After thinking about it though, I suspect that at some point during the design for Bigail that the party was supposed to arrive at Shayder first and that there would have been a quest of some sort to point you at the Point. That way, you would encounter the Roaches in a 'dungeon' where your level wouldn't have the chance to drive them away, and you're given a free Disease curing point to make sure you're not punished for not having anyone with Priest 3 or higher.
However, that is just conjecture on my part, and what we're left with is a bit of disconnected combat in a place no one talks about, or mentions at all. But hey, at least it isn't an oversized map!
I completely disavow any knowledge of criminal activity at this location. Instead, the source of Piercing Crystals is something I will need to pay a bit more attention to I should have given what I missed out
The most likely point of entry into Bigail for the average party, Port Townsend shares the same spacing problems of the other small towns around the edge of the Isle have a quarter to a third is taken up by the regular barracks for the displaced Anama members and dedicated kitchen/mess.
Except that's the problem. You see the same set of 4 barracks in many towns, and you start to think that this isn't really a refugee crisis the Church is handling. The organization is too regular for it. Four barracks in exactly the same shape and size, always on one side of the town, and the support building beside them on the north side of town.
And then Bavner only has 3 Barracks rooms, putting paid to my sweeping global statement. Probably because the space for the fourth is taken up by a decorative fountain. If the map looks a little odd, it's because I didn't want to edit in the rest of the water
What makes Bavner more than just another place to say 'Yes' to the Anama is the presence of the Training room and the alternate location for the one 'free roam' priestess.
Thank you Kuper, for wasting half your map space! Literally the entire left half of the map is irrelevant! And the right half only has the Anama Church and the dock to Kneece for things! SO WHY WAS THIS MAP 4 IMAGES BIG?!?!?!?!?!
:deep breath: Alright, let's take stock here. There's the psycho Empire Soldier who will attack you at the end of the conversation in the lower-left. Anything else...?
Nope. Still nothing. On to Kneece!
Now, Kneece is a lot better as a half-dungeon. There's enough stuff here that's recognizable as a functioning town to make you wonder what really happened here. And once you talk to Purgatos, you start to get a better idea of what that is. And the lizards around, including the 'boss' Drake are a hint as to the nature of the hidden dungeon on the other side of the island (spoilers!)
And Purgatos deserves some props for being one of two mages on the island who hasn't been driven off by the Anama even as he's expecting the hammer of doom from the Empire any day now.
Fenris is a nice place, with everything needed or wanted for people coming to Bigail from the East and not from the South like I did. (People arriving from the North wind up in Shayder actually.)
Oh, and it's Steel Weapons at Exorbitant Prices, not Iron ones.
Just be careful checking out the empty rooms some of them have Roaches. Which one? Well, I'll leave that as a surprise.
Northpoint Lighthouse is another small little place. What makes it interesting is the presence of the Necromancer maintaining the facility. And he's not evil! Except there is a certain Undead I am going to encounter in the next update ...
Hectar... Hectar... What is there to say? It's the closest town to the Filth Factory, and it already shows some of the damage involved. There's a Fletcher's here, but they don't sell bolts for Crossbows. I think I'm not going to find any place that sells those for some time now.
Oh, Spiders. Shoehorned into this game. And just another point on the arrow pointing across the Isle to the Factory. And they're occupying old ruins which just reinforces the point that the Anama were no where near the first group on this Island. The Iron Bars aren't really worth hiking back to civilization though.
... And this one is small. And literally the only thing in here are a half-dozen distinct roaches, and the alternate location to find the map to the Filth Factory. Not that I'm looking at this in retrospect, this dungeon is almost ... gratuitous. And I've even talked to people who didn't even remember this place existed that you went from the Spiders to the Factory then to pick up the Pheonix egg.
The Filth Factory represents the end of your primary quest time on the Isle, and the only required dungeon. Under Shayder, the Point of Contemplation and the Spiral Crypt are all optional. Because of this, it's actually fairly easy as dungeons go due to the fact that it's considered to be a 'starter quest' in terms of the plot, on the same level as the Slimes.
It helps that this dungeon is actually very linear in nature, and you can't access the centre. This encourages you to go around the map where you discover for yourself the extent of the facility. Our mysterious culprits have established a developed research lab and production line, then sabotaged it on the way out to prevent an easy shutdown.
There are a lot of little treasure rooms I missed on my way through, mostly containing other monsters like Shambling Moulds and sometimes even actual treasure! At this point though, it's not worth it to go back and get them there's nothing special.
The second level of the Factory is where the work is done. After breaking in on the right side, and breaking out by sabotaging the sample barrels, you are teleported into the lower left corner. Unlike my note during the update itself, the teleporters in the four corners connect in a counter-clockwise manner, and do not provide an exit from the second floor.
Just beware, this particular dungeon has a very high spawn rate for all types of Roach, and they will come from all directions once you get in the Trash Pit itself. Working your way around, just be careful that you're not ambushed on the corners.
Lastly, don't do what I did with my playthrough and miss the Dragon Scales. Unlike the Slime Pit, the Filth Factory is removed from the map once you detonate the Egg and escape. There's no second chance to recover the evidence unless you either wade through a sea of Quickfire or cheat. Which I did.
I apologize for that missing sliver just west of Bavner, I'll catch it next time.
What to say about the Isle? The more I think about it, the less there is to say. It seems like it was designed as a whole thanks to the Anama Church. There are a lot of towns, but not a lot of combat, as I mentioned in the Filth Factory. Therefore this entire Island doesn't see a lot of action.
I suppose some effort was made to alleviate this with fixed enemy encounters with Roaches, and the Bears near the Southern Lighthouse. (spoilers: Bandits start showing up about a week after the Roaches go away). But still, this is a very combat-light, and exploration-heavy section of the world, and I think it suffers a little bit for that.
The two ??? are places I can't go yet the location North East of Kneece is a hidden dungeon I haven't gained access to yet, and the Island is a place I can't reach yet I'll need the Orb of the Flight Spell.
And here is the complete, non-annotated map of the explored Surface. We've explored about a quarter of the Valorim Province at this point, and the next major axis of surface exploration will be to the east of Krizsan along the coast. After that, we'll sweep north to the region east of Bigail, then who knows?