In many senses, the UrExample/[[TropeMakers Trope Maker]] for the computer RolePlayingGame.

''Ultima'' is a [[VideoGameLongRunners long-running]] series of computer {{RPG}}s created by Richard "Lord British" Garriott, which includes the following:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Main Series]]
[[index]]
* ''Akalabeth: World of Doom'' (1980)
* ''[[VideoGame/UltimaI Ultima]]: The First Age of Darkness'' (1981)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaII: Revenge of the Enchantress'' (1982)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaIII: Exodus'' (1983)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaIV: Quest of the Avatar'' (1985)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaV: Warriors of Destiny'' (1988)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaVI: The False Prophet'' (1990)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaVII: The Black Gate'' (1992)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaVIIPartII: Serpent Isle'' (1993)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaVIII: Pagan'' (1994)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaIX: Ascension'' (1999)
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Expansions]]
* ''VideoGame/UltimaVII: Forge of Virtue'' (1992)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaVIIPartII: The Silver Seed'' (1993)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaVIII: Pagan Floppy Disk Speech Pack'' (1994)
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Spinoffs]]
* ''Ultima: Escape from Mt. Drash'' (1983)
* ''Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire'' (1990)
* ''Ultima: Worlds of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams'' (1991)
* ''Ultima: Runes of Virtue'' (1991)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaUnderworld: The Stygian Abyss'' (1992)
* ''Ultima: Runes of Virtue II'' (1993)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaUnderworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds'' (1993)
* ''Lord of Ultima'' (2010)
* ''Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar'' (2012)
* ''Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues'' (In development)
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Compilations]]
* ''Ultima Trilogy I·II·III''
* ''Ultima The Second Trilogy IV·V·VI''
* ''Ultima I~VI Series''
* ''[[VideoGame/UltimaUnderworld Underworld Series]]''
* ''The Complete UltimaVII''
* ''Ultima Collection''
* ''Ultima Complete''
[[/folder]]


[[folder:Ultima Online]]
* ''VideoGame/UltimaOnline'' (1997)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaOnline: The Second Age'' (1998)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaOnline: Renaissance'' (2000)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaOnline: Third Dawn'' (2001)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaOnline: Lord Blackthorn's Revenge'' (2002)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaOnline: Age of Shadows'' (2003)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaOnline: Samurai Empire'' (2004)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaOnline: Mondain's Legacy'' (2005)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaOnline: Kingdom Reborn'' (2007)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaOnline: Stygian Abyss'' (2009)
* ''VideoGame/UltimaOnline: High Seas'' (2010)
[[/folder]]
[[/index]]

[[folder:Cancelled]]
* ''VideoGame/UltimaIV Part II''
* ''Multi-player Ultima''
* ''Multima''
* ''Mythos: Caribbean Pirates and Legends from Greece''
* ''Unnamed Pencil and Paper Ultima''
* ''Arthurian Legends''
* ''VideoGame/UltimaUnderworld III''
* ''VideoGame/UltimaVIII: The Lost Vale''
* ''Ultima Online 2'' A. K. A. ''Ultima Worlds Online: Origin''
* ''Ultima X: Odyssey''
* ''Ultima Reborn''
* ''Ultima Resurrection''
[[/folder]]

The ''Ultima'' series more or less invented or defined all the classic computer role playing game tropes. Though the series was computer-based, its general mechanics became likewise imprinted on the console {{RPG}} market thanks to its influence on the mechanics of the FinalFantasy and DragonQuest series.

The ''Ultima'' saga begins, it is generally considered, with a primitive ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons''-inspired game called ''Akalabeth'' (and which Garriott now refers to as "Ultima 0", though this title has never been made official), which introduced the character of Lord British, king of a pastiche medieval/high fantasy type world.

Originally titled "D&D28b", as it was Garriott's 28th game, ''Akalabeth'' was also heavily influenced by Creator/JRRTolkien's ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'' books; the name ''Akalabeth'' itself derives from Akallabęth, the fourth part of ''Literature/TheSilmarillion''. The game was hand-coded entirely by Garriott in Applesoft BASIC.

This world was fleshed out to form "Sosaria", the world of ''[[VideoGame/UltimaI Ultima]]'' (later subtitled ''The First Age of Darkness''). The EvilSorcerer Mondain is stopped by TheHero.

The series continues with ''[[VideoGame/UltimaII Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress]]'', as space-time distortions threatening Earth are BestServedCold by Minax, the [[strike:jilted]] widowed lover of the last game's dead villain. TimeTravel is required to save the day.

The series started to find its legs in ''[[VideoGame/UltimaIII Ultima III: Exodus]]'', in which the evil robotic child of the previous two villains wreaks havoc across Sosaria. This game started laying the foundation of RPG elements such as towns, overworld, dungeons, and monster encounters in the way many video game [=RPG=]s came to emulate. It has been cited for inspiring ''VideoGame/DragonQuest'' and ''Franchise/FinalFantasy''.

But when people speak of the ''Ultima'' series, its tropes and mechanics, they tend to think of the next three games in the series, ''Ultima IV'', ''V'' and ''VI'', collectively called the "Age of Enlightenment". In these games, "the Avatar", another visitor from our world (By Ultima IX, he appears to be a middle-aged park ranger) becomes a key player in upholding Britannia's virtue and keeping the world safe.

With the unification of Sosaria under the rule of Lord British -- a visitor from "our" world, the place was renamed "Britannia". After the fairly cataclysmic events which ended ''Ultima III'', the whole world was largely rebuilt, and its geography and culture would remain more or less unchanged for the rest of the series history. (As a result, the cloth maps given out as {{Feelies}} for some releases of the games can be used for any game in the series.)

''[[VideoGame/UltimaIV Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar]]'' sets the player out on a quest, essentially, to bring virtue and general goodness to the land -- the main objective of the game is, quite simply, to live a virtuous life. In ''[[VideoGame/UltimaV Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny]]'', the Avatar must once again journey to Britannia, to reclaim Lord British's throne from a usurper. The last game of this era, ''[[VideoGame/UltimaVI Ultima VI: The False Prophet]]'', deals with some of the long-term consequences of the events of ''Ultima IV'', as the Avatar must save his own life from the gargoyle race, whose ancient and infallible prophecies tell them that he will one day destroy their race (also, they're pissed off that [[strike:he]] the Council [[NiceJobBreakingItHero stole the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom two games ago]]).

The third age of Ultima, "The Age of Armageddon," is a mixed bag, despite considerable technological improvement. In all three, the Avatar battles an other-worldly being called "The Guardian." ''[[VideoGame/UltimaVII Ultima VII: The Black Gate]]'' pitted the Avatar against a cult seeking to allow the megalomaniacal "Guardian" into Britannia, and is often considered the best game of the entire series. ''[[VideoGame/UltimaVIIPartII Ultima VII Part 2: Serpent Isle]]'' featured the Avatar returning to one of the lands from ''Ultima I'' that is now a [[LostWorld separate world]]. Each of these games had an expansion pack that added new sub-quests and locations to the game.

''VideoGame/UltimaVIII: Pagan'' follows on from ''Serpent Isle''. The titular "Pagan" is a very different world from Britannia, to which the Avatar has been banished by [[DimensionLord the Guardian]]. Pagan lacked the Britannian virtues, and while there, the Avatar found himself forced to violate them as well, eventually sacrificing that entire world. Between the loss of virtue and the drastic changes in gameplay, this is where most claim the series [[JumpingTheShark jumped the shark.]]

''VideoGame/UltimaIX: Ascension'' is the last canonical Ultima game (though [[FanonDiscontinuity fans say otherwise]], for [[TheyJustDidntCare a good reason]]). It changed things even further, replacing the traditional tile-based top-down (later isometric) display with a standard 3rd person 3D view, and made numerous deviations from the canonical series history. The Avatar was summoned one final time to Britannia, where the Guardian has resurfaced and totally corrupted the hearts and minds of the people (not to mention [[ObviousBeta the code of the game]]), perverting the traditional virtues.

A number of other ''Ultima'' games exist: the ''VideoGame/UltimaUnderworld'' sub-series were first-person [=RPG=]s set in the Ultima universe. Two games based on the ''Ultima VI'' engine, and outside of the primary continuity, were called ''Worlds of Ultima'', one based on a prehistoric land, the other on [[SteamPunk Victorian space travel]]. A Britannia-based MMORPG, ''Ultima Online'' was the first large-scale MMORPG success. There were also two aborted [=MMOs=] that would have followed: ''Ultima Worlds Online: Origin'' and ''Ultima X: Odyssey'', the latter of which was intended to be a direct continuation of the storyline of Ultima IX and [[http://www.gamestooge.com/2009/01/19/the-mmo-that-never-was-ultima-x-odyssey/ among other things]], was to have incorporated the Virtues of Ultima as a significant gameplay mechanic.

There was also ''Ultima: Escape from Mt Drash'', which came out between Ultima II and III. Richard Garriott had nothing to do with this game; Sierra just slapped the Ultima logo and the words "Mt Drash" (a location from Ultima I) onto a pretty awful RPG in an attempt to boost sales. They did this without Richard Garriott's permission; as a result, he fell out with Sierra and left to found his own company, Origin Systems Inc.
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!!Major tropes and elements of the ''Ultima'' series include:

* AuthorAvatar: Lord British, the ruler of the kingdom, very heavily based on Richard Garriott himself. Lord British is always asking you for favors and is NighInvulnerable. Clever players amuse themselves by finding [[LordBritishPostulate creative new ways to kill him]].
* AwesomeButImpractical: [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt The Armageddon spell, which destroys the entire world]]. It doesn't kill [[NighInvulnerability Lord British]], though.
* ButtMonkey: Lord British wasn't originally this, but after the rise of the LordBritishPostulate players trying to murder him in innovative new ways became a beloved series tradition. One game even features an EasterEgg in which the player can drop a plaque on his head to kill him and get away with it.
* CreateYourOwnVillain: The Avatar is indirectly responsible for the problems of every game in the series except I and IV.
* FlatWorld: In ''Ultima IV'', ''V'' and ''VI'', surrounded by an ethereal void. Ambrosia, the land of the Gargoyles, was the flip side of the world in ''Ultima VI''. (In ''Ultima IX'', it is a domed underwater city instead.)
* In ''Ultima III'', ''IV'' and ''V'', a separate and distinct interface for combat than the usual world map (see FightWoosh).
* MagicAIsMagicA:
** A consistent spellcasting system (in ''Ultima IV''-''VII''), where spells consisted of incantations built up from individual semantic atoms (thus, the common "Help" spell was "Kal Lor", literally "Invoke Light"; noting which constructions were spells in a previous game, and what their requirements were, sometimes allowed a player to access high-level spells early in the next game), and were powered by alchemical formulas (more-or-less consistent across games) which had to be mixed.
** In ''Ultima IV'' and ''V'', magic spells had to be explicitly mixed before use, requiring the player to look up which reagents were needed and, frequently, do all this in the heat of battle. In ''Ultima VI'' and ''VII'', reagents were mixed automatically, so long as the player had enough on hand. By ''Ultima IX'', reagents were only needed once for each spell, as a "binding ritual" allowed the player to cast the spell whenever he liked afterward.
** In ''Ultima VIII'', much of the story and gameplay revolved around the Avatar achieving mastery over not one, but five exotic magic systems, each of them manipulated differently, themed upon the five (western) elements.
* [[Characters/{{Ultima}} A recurring cast of NPCs]], especially those who (from ''Ultima IV'' through ''Ultima VII'') join the player's party, most of whom are [[WriteWhoYouKnow based on Garriott's friends]].
* AnAesop: Themes about the evils of totalitarianism.
* Bizarre anachronisms (especially in the first two games).
* OldSaveBonus: The ability (in some games) to import character data from an earlier game.
* Perhaps one of the most memorable notes in ''Ultima VII'' was the extended TakeThat against Electronic Arts. The company devoured Origin quite soon after, implying a win for [[spoiler: The Fellowship]], which proved rather prophetic considering the states in which ''VIII'' and ''IX'' were released...
** Pretty obvious once you notice that [[spoiler: the Guardian's blackrock generators looked like the shapes in EA's logo at the time.]]
* An UrExample of the DigitalAvatar with its deeply customizable characters
* DarkerAndEdgier: ''Ultima VIII'' was DarkerAndEdgier than ''Ultima VII-2'', which was DarkerAndEdgier than ''Ultima VII'', which was DarkerAndEdgier than ''Ultima VI'', which was DarkerAndEdgier than ''Ultima V'', which was DarkerAndEdgier than ''Ultima IV'' (that was pretty idealistic).
* SequenceBreaking: Parts IV-VI had you converse with [=NPCs=] by typing in keywords. A good chunk of quests had you follow the chain of a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who has what you need. If you knew who the final link in the chain was, you could skip right there and type in the keyword. From VII onwards conversation options were set to match what your character knows.
* SpiritualSuccessor: ''VideoGame/ShroudOfTheAvatarForsakenVirtues''.
* VideoGameCrueltyPotential (And VideoGameCrueltyPunishment) in spades.
* WideOpenSandbox: ''Ultimas V'' to ''VII'' offer a fully interactive world that carries on with or without you. [=NPCs=] follow their own schedules (sleeping at home at night, going to their place of work, then to the inn for lunch), and almost everything can be interacted with - shear a sheep for wool, spin the wool into thread, etc. Even before ''Ultima V'' the game was completely non-linear and you were free to travel through the world. That changed in the second part of ''VII'', ''Serpent Isle''.
* YearInsideHourOutside: Not only does time on Earth flow ten times slower than in Sosaria[=/=]Britannia, but people from Earth age ten times slower than natives even when living in Britannia.
* YeOldeButcheredeEnglishe -- Everything was written in this style: dialogue, room descriptions, the manuals, ''everything''.
* YouKeepUsingThatWord -- There are "gremlins" in the series that are little critters that steal food. In Ultima VIII they're shape-shifting creatures with a mocking laugh. Neither of those descriptions even remotely matches the concept of a gremlin.

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''Akalabeth'' was first self-published by Garriott, then picked up California Pacific Computer; ''Ultima'' was originally released by California Pacific; ''Ultima II'' and subsequent re-releases of the first ''Ultima'' (retitled ''Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness'') were published by Sierra On-line. ''Ultima III'' through ''Ultima VII'' were released by Origin (a company formed by Garriott after he became dissatisfied with Sierra), and the remaining games were released by Electronic Arts (which bought Origin).

While Garriott no longer owns the rights to the games, and is no longer with EA/Origin, he does still hold copyright on several of their characters, and therefore future Ultima games can only be made if EA and Garriott can be persuaded to get along with each other. In July of 2012, Creator/BioWare [[http://forever.ultimacodex.com/2012/07/12/bioware-mythic-announces-ultima-forever-quest-for-the-avatar/ announced a new Ultima game]], ''VideoGame/UltimaForeverQuestForTheAvatar'', to be released later in the year. It will be a freeware multiplayer game for the PC and [=iPad=], based primarily on ''Ultima IV'' with a few changes (for example, Lord British is now a woman since Garriott didn't give them the permission to use the character.) Meanwhile, Garriott himself has announced plans to produce an MMO SpiritualSuccessor, ''Ultimate RPG''. He's also expressed possibly buying the rights to the series back from EA and releasing it as an actual ''Ultima Online 2''. Garriot eventually turned to Website/{{Kickstarter}} to fund ''VideoGame/ShroudOfTheAvatarForsakenVirtues'', a SpiritualSuccessor to both the classic single-player ''Ultimas'' and ''Ultima Online'', and [[http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/portalarium/shroud-of-the-avatar-forsaken-virtues-0 closed with a respectable $1.9M]].

Recently, Origin released ''Ultima IV'' as a freely-distributable download on the internet. A free version updated for modern systems [[http://xu4.sourceforge.net/ exists]].

All nine games of the main series (with the first six bundled into two trilogy packs) and both ''Underworld'' games are available from Website/GOGDotCom for a quite reasonable price. Both of the ''Worlds of Ultima'' games are also available from [=GOG=] for free as well.

There's also a widely praised FanRemake of ''[[http://www.u5lazarus.com/ Ultima V]]'', done with the ''VideoGame/DungeonSiege'' engine. Featuring lots of added content like extended side-quests, an optional, alternate main quest for evil-inclined players, and an improved class and skill system.

Finally, there's Exult, a reverse-engineered reimplementation of the ''Ultima VII'' engine that can either use the data from the original games (''Ultima VII'' and ''U7-2: Serpent Isle'') or can be used with Exult Studio to create new games. It was originally written to allow ''Ultima VII'' to be played under Unix, but it's now cross-platform and adds some new features, both cosmetic and gameplay-affecting.

In 2013 Richard Garriott successfully funded a SpiritualSuccessor, ''VideoGame/ShroudOfTheAvatarForsakenVirtues'', with Website/{{Kickstarter}}. It remains to be seen whether it will live up to its pedigree.
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