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Video Game: Exile
Exile was a series of Fantasy RPGs created by Jeff Vogel of Spiderweb Software. They remain available as freeware for older computers running Mac OS Classic or 32-bit Windows. (Exile III was also ported to Linux by a third party.) The four games were later remade as an isometric 3D series called Avernum, which added a fifth, sixth, and seventh installment.

The eponymous nation is a vast network of caves to which the surface world banishes its criminals, dissenters, and misfits. In each game, you play a team of Exiles swept up in conflicts between the people of Exile, their nonhuman neighbors in the caves, and the cruel Empire that rules the surface.

  • Exile: Escape from the Pit (released in January 1995)
  • Exile II: Crystal Souls (released in November 1995)
  • Exile III: Ruined World (released in January 1997)
  • Blades of Exile (released in December 1997)

Not to be confused with the third installment of the Myst series, or a completely different Exile created in 1988 for the BBC Micro.


This RPG series displays the following tropes:

  • Actually Four Mooks: Wandering monsters (and occasionally non-hostile guard patrols) are represented this way on the map.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Averted for the Slithzerikai, Nephilim and Vahnatai - there are plenty of good members of each race, and there are even a few friendly Undead spirits. Played straight with Daemons, who are always evil, though some do help you for entirely selfish reasons. Subverted with the Troglodytes and Giants - they are always your enemies, but then again it was the humans who virtually exterminated them in the first place, so they have good reason to hate you.
  • The Archmage: Several. The Triad mages, the ruling trio of the Tower of the Magi in Exile, are the most prominent examples. They have a very important role in the plot of the entire series - more important than the royalty, in fact. It is explicitly stated that the greatest mistake the Empire made was sending several powerful mages to Exile.
  • Artifact Collection Agency: The Cult of the Sacred Item.
  • Asteroids Monster: Slimes and Doomguards.
  • Automaton Horses: Only appear in Exile III and Blades. They are utterly invincible and require no food. On the other hand, you can't take them indoors or into dungeons.
  • Anti-Magic: From Exile II on, Anti Magic fields make an appearance. These provide complete protection against most spells and also against "breath" type attacks.
  • Anti-Magical Faction: The Anama. A cult on Valorim that considers all Mage magic to be evil (they allow - even encourage - the use of Priest magic, though).
  • Bag of Sharing: Averted. Everyone has their own inventory (limited by number, rather than weight as in Avernum), and you have to be adjacent to pass stuff along in combat.
    • Exile III introduced the weight mechanic.
  • Bandit Mook: Gremlins steal your food.
  • Beneath the Earth: Exile itself, an enormous underground cavern large enough to house several human and non-human nations, as well as vast expanses of wilderness.
  • Bonus Boss: In the first game, there are six dragons, and one of them has to be killed in order to beat the game. Each of the others tells or gives you something that is also necessary to beat the game. Once they've done that, though, you're free to kill them and take their loot. (Later in the series, Motrax does die, but it wasn't the player who killed him.)
  • Bury Your Gays: The Empire considers homosexuals to be "misfits" and sends them to Exile. The nation of Exile, however, is much more tolerant.
  • Cat Folk: The Nephilim. They're more nimble than humans and good archers, but not as organized, and thus serve as low-level antagonists in the first two games.
  • City Guards: And extremely powerful ones to boot.
  • Collection Sidequest: The seven crystals, the five (or four, but that's not as good) brooches, the four syllables of the password, the six pieces of mold to get into Erika's tower free—and that's just Exile I!
  • Crapsack World: A globe-spanning totalitarian empire that summarily dispatches the "eccentric" and "awkward"... into a violent penal colony where a nasty death lurks around every corner!
  • Cult: The Church of the Anama, which believes that Mage spells are an ultimately evil force that humanity should abandon in favour of divine magic and alchemy.
    • There's also some very weird ones, such as one that worships magic items, or one that takes martial arts a bit too far.
  • Dialogue Tree: Of the hyperlink variety, in Exile III and Blades. The first two games had you input keywords (of which the game ignored all but the first four letters). This led to bugs, like being able to say "divulge" to the talking statues long before you'd met Erika, and "Icarus" to the Scimitar before you knew to say it. The later games have the same input system and the same potential for abuse, but obvious conversations can happen faster by clicking on text.
    • This led to NPCs having a stock response for keywords they didn't have a response for. Each town had one that all its inhabitants (except for some notable exceptions) used, although some pairs of towns had the same one. (In Exile I, for example, Fort Exile's was "I don't know about that", and Fort Duvno's was "You get a questioning look". In the Tower of Magi, it was "You receive a blank stare", consistent with the apprentices not being allowed to speak. The GIFTs? "You're silly!")
  • Difficulty Spike: The Golem plague in Exile III. They are much nastier than anything you faced before, being tough and having powerful magical projectiles that ignore armour. In addition, their lair is one of the nastiest dungeons in the entire series.
  • The Empire: What the surface world is called.
    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.
  • Enemy Summoner: Introduced in Exile II. Enemy spellcasters can summon additional creatures to help them.
  • Event Flag: "Stuff Done Flags".
  • Fantastic Drug: Skribbane.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Empire hunts down damn near everything that isn't human, and has succeeded in wiping out at least one race of sentient humanoids. They have pretty much cleared the entire surface world of non-humans, save for a few isolated groups deep in the wilderness.
  • Fantastic Slurs: There are various derogatory nicknames for the non-human races, plus the human residents of the Empire, Exile, and the Abyss who all hate each other.
    • Those in the Abyss, who are basically Exile's truly dangerous criminals, call all other Exiles voles. Empire jerks do so love to call Exiles worms, though.
  • First Time in the Sun: The beginning of Exile III.
  • Flower from the Mountaintop: A quest given by a dryad in Exile III.
  • Game Maker: Blades of Exile. Now open source.
  • Giant Spiders: They're also intelligent, friendly, talking and have cute, high pitched voices.
    • In the third game, there are Giant Cockroaches, too.
  • Golems: Only the classic rock version in the first two games, but many new types are introduced in the third game.
  • Goshdang It To Heck: In the first game, there's a sound effect shouting out "darn" or "dang!" if you fail to pick a lock.
  • Hellfire: Quickfire.
  • Inconveniently Placed Conveyor Belt: The golem factory in Exile III is a maze of these.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: Features a lot, especially for minor vendors. Because of how the game stored NPC conversations, it was a lot easier to have one conversation come up all the time. If a vendor or similar character wasn't inexplicably identical, it was a good, though by no means infallible, clue that they had special wares and/or plot significance.
    • Humorously justified for one particular set of IIIs in Exile III: evidently, they're all siblings, all trained by their parents in the same craft (toolmaking), and all named "Merry" because their parents were horribly uncreative.
      • There's a few other "generic" traders who are also justified in ridiculous and humorous ways in Exile III, such as a fletcher who apparently keeps forgetting everything except his trade, but has an inexplicable gift for "fitting in" wherever he goes. There's also a guy who owns a chain or near-identical shops, and who personally runs one of them every day - hilariously, it will always just happen to be the one you've just entered.
  • Invisible Monsters: Guardians and Black Shades. Both can attack from a distance, making them even more annoying.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: The Goblins. They're so stupid and uncultured that only thing they can do is banditry, but they're so laughably weak it's quite possible you'll feel pity for them. Bonus points because they're often bullied or enslaved by other races, especially the Nephilim.
  • Involuntary Group Split: Used occasionally, and can be quite nasty since it always involves just one of you characters splitting off from the other five.
  • Invulnerable Horses: Played perfectly straight because horses are treated like vehicles rather than creatures.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: You. But NPCs only care about some items.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: Any hit that would reduce you to under zero HP first reduces you to zero and plays a "coughing up blood" sound. The Luck Stat also gives you a chance to avoid otherwise fatal blows.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Somewhat subverted: The warriors are weaker later in the game, but the most effective use of a mage or priest's spell points is buffing the warriors - a blessed, hasted warrior can usually do more damage than a single fireball.
  • Living Statue: Some serve as "concealed" enemies, others can offer important information, but you often need to tell them a password of some sort.
  • Lizard Folk: The Slithzerikai. They are both stronger and smarter than the humans, but their vicious ways prevent them from obtaining allies. They are the major mid-game antagonists in the first two games.
  • Luck Stat: Put points in it and you have a chance of "lucking out" of death. Max it out and you will essentially never die. And there's more: each point of luck will reduce damage from most sources by one point - it's not much if you have 1-2 points in Luck, but if you have say 9-10 it can make a huge difference.
  • Mage Tower: The Tower of Magi.
  • Minmaxer's Delight: The Ambidextrous trait. It allows Duel Wielding without penalty. Incredibly powerful and the experience penalty for taking it is mild.
  • Money Spider: Yes, but "gold" isn't standard currency. Instead, "gold" represents all sorts of valuable stuff you're lugging around.
  • Monster Town: You get to visit a Demon Fort and an Empire outpost in Exile II, and most of the locals aren't hostile.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle
  • Nephilim: In Name Only, they're a race of Cat Folk.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Try opening a certain portal in Exile II and "forget" to close it before leaving. The entire northwestern part of Exile will collapse, killing your party and many, many other people. On the bright side, most Empire troops were stationed in the northwest, which means Exile wins the war... at an enormous cost.
    • There are a few more: For example, try killing King Micah or Erika.
  • Nostalgia Level: The Tower of Magi is pretty much the same (and very awesome) in every game. Until it gets destroyed by demons in Exile III.
  • Oddly Shaped Sword: Waveblades. And they're the most powerful 1-handed swords in the games.
  • Our Liches Are Different: The classical robed, spellcasting skeleton type.
  • Our Wights Are Different: Basically stronger versions of skeletons that can drain your experience if they hit you.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Quickfire.
  • Party in My Pocket: Outside of combat, your party is always represented only by its leader, or a boat, or a figure on horseback.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: In Blades of Exile, the password to enter a cave full of giant gnats is... "gnats".
  • Penal Colony: Exile is where the Empire dumps its misfits and petty criminals. There's also the Abyss, a sort of "Exile within Exile".
  • Petting Zoo People: The Nephilim, Nepharim and the Slithzerikai to name a few.
  • Planet of Steves: The Giant Intelligent Friendly Talking Spiders are all named Spider.
    • At one point in Exile III, you need to drop the name of a GIFT chief to get access to him. As mentioned, they're all named "Spider". This, depending largely on how fast it took you to twig to it, was either a brilliant or horrid idea.
  • The Rashomon: Different NPCs who have been in Exile since early on in its history tell you different stories about those early years. Notably, Erika claims to have invented the light-giving fungus on the cave walls, whereas actually it was just there when they arrived.
  • Reforged Blade: The Demonslayer, the strongest sword in the games. You can reforge it in Exile I, and can obtain it in Exile II, but you can only get it in Exile III by cheating.
  • Riddle Me This: Exile II has a dungeon that is supposed to test your mind. In addition to several puzzles are many riddles.
    • Which were omitted in the Avernum II remake in favor of more "normal" puzzles that fit directly into the gameplay.
  • River of Insanity / Inevitable Waterfall: Exile II has a section where your party must cross over a series of underground waterfalls, each one taking away some of your food. Eventually, a really big waterfall will make you lose all your remaining food, forcing you to scavenge (usually fighting off monsters along the way) or face starvation. It's also worth mentioning that there are no shops or training avaliable along the way, and no way to identify the items you find (and you probably won't have enough space to take everything you find). Oh, and the caverns you pass are full of dangerous monsters...
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Grah-Hoth in Exile I. There are also a few other demons you can release, the vast majority of which will immediately attack you.
  • Shareware: "Suddenly, the Shareware Demon appears!"
  • Shoplift and Die: Shoplifting is considered a crime equal to murder, apparently.
  • Shout-Out: Exile III has towns populated with Trainspotting and Babylon 5 characters.
  • Solo-Character Run: The maximum party size is six, but slots can be left empty as the player sees fit. (In fact, the instructions suggest that you try making one "really powerful character" and seeing how far you can get.)
  • Sssssnaketalk: The majority of the Slithzerikai.
  • Stock Sound Effects
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: The Vahnatai.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Averted. Monsters can flee unwinnable battles, but they do so only rarely, usually when you hit them with a fear spell.
  • Super Drowning Skills: You can't swim, and if your five steps of hovering run out when you're above water, you drown. (But you can walk on lava!)
  • Swamps Are Evil: They can poison you just for walking on them.
  • Take Your Time: Very, very averted in Exile III.
  • That One Disadvantage: Pacifist in Exile II. Such a character cannot attack the enemy in any way whatsoever, and can't even cast most spells that would indirectly lead to an enemy being harmed. Even worse when you realize that, since most experience is gained by killing stuff, your character will lag behind despite the massive experience bonus he gets by taking this disadvantage. Still, some players use it as a challenge.
    • Also, Sluggish. It wasn't worth much in XP savings, and a game like this requires perfect rationing of action points to succeed. A character with less-than-stellar action points will easily be left behind when everyone else advances on the enemy, and also left to be ganged up on and eaten alive when everyone else is fleeing. Furthermore, the Haste spells (critical in the late game) only multiply action points; someone who can barely move before Haste can still only move a little better after it.
  • Thriving Ghost Town: Played very straight. A typical town will have around 4-5 shops, all catering to adventurers, an inn, a mayor's officer, the barracks, and maybe 4-5 residential homes. The guards will frequently outnumber the other residents of the town.
  • Translator Microbes: In Exile II, the party acquires this (or the equivalent) by completing a Vahnatai initiation ritual. This makes them able to understand and read Novah, and makes random Vahnatai stop attacking them.
  • Updated Re-release: The first two games were redone to incorporate graphics and mechanics from the sequels.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: In the first scenario of Blades of Exile, you visit towns that are being devastated by a curse. The water is undrinkable, crops are being wiped out, entire generations of children are dying, and life in general is a living hell. Feel free to ransack their houses of everything they have left.
    • In Exile III, you can let the monsters ravage Valorim as much as you want - the game will never become unwinnable (though it will be harder as you lose access to certain quests, shops etc.).
  • Video Game Remake: The Avernum series. And now the first part of that hexalogy has been given a remake...
  • The Wall Around the World: In Blades of Exile, if the player reaches the boundary of a custom scenario in the overworld, they will be unable to go any further, and a message will tell the player so.
  • Warp Whistle: The Amulet of Returning.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's mentioned in the first game that the Nephilim were sent down through another portal, but you can't find it in-game, and it's never explained what happened to it by the time Exile II starts. You'd think it would be important, since it's another potential entry point for the Empire.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: Food rations are required as your party eats periodically.
  • You All Meet in a Cell: Or a colossal subterranean prison realm, anyway.
    • Subverted somewhat. It's at least implied that your party met shortly before being thrown in. You meet everyone else in a cell.


EversionFantasy Video GamesAvernum
Wandering HamsterFreeware GamesEpic! The Humorous RPG
AstebreedIBM Personal ComputerFairy Bloom
Escape VelocityUsefulNotes/Apple MacintoshAvernum
ExhumedVideo Games of the 1990sExtreme Pinball
Excelsior Phase One LysandiaWestern RPGAvernum

alternative title(s): Exile
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