Tales of Middle EarthMaj'Eyal is a Roguelike with a long history, stretching back at least 10 years. Originally titled Pernband, it was a variant of the classic Roguelike Angband with Pern influences — although all Pern influences were removed following a Cease and Desist letter in the late 90s. It was then renamed Tales of Middle Earth, the various Tolkien elements refined and perfected, and development continued on it off and on for a decade.Like its parent game and other games in the genre, TOME revolves around the player character delving into a dungeon with limited resources. What separates it from other Angband variants is its scope — whereas most Angband variants have a single dungeon and small town at the top, TOME contains an entire world map based on Tolkien's Middle Earth, complete with multiple towns and dozens of dungeons, all with different themes. In addition, the game has a quest system, giving the pointless dungeon crawling some actual point.Another thing that differentiates TOME from early Angband variants (with the possible exception of Zangband) in the genre is the sheer number of classes, races, and subclasses — wish to play as a Vampire Troll Druid? Ok. Barbarian Kobold Monk? Done. Spectral Dwarven Axemaster of Tukas? Go for it. Each character class / race / subrace has its own ups and downs, and creating interesting combinations is part of the fun.An attempt to recreate the game from scratch, avoiding some of the development problems of the 2.X line, started and stalled out. In the meantime, the author and primary developer got married and vanished off the face of the planet, leaving development of the new TOME 3 in doubt. Around the same time, a script kiddy broke into the forums admin account, wiping the forums clean of 10 years of posts — with no backups.However, in 2010 development was restarted after the Author returned, resulting in TOME 4 — a complete rewrite of the game. Moving away from "Tales of Middle Earth" to "Tales Of Maj'Eyal" to avoid the possibility of a second Cease and Desist letter, as well as making the High Fantasy elements (fireballs and teleportation spells) make more sense, the game is currently going through a development version of Wiki Magic.An expansion pack focusing on the Orc Prides is currently in development. Taking place after the events of the main campaign, the Orcish Prides are in complete disarry following their decimation at the hands of the main campaign's hero, and the Sun Paladins are slowly but surely chipping away at what's left of the Pride's defenses. As one of the few remaining Orcs, you must fight your way through the Sun Paladins and locate Kruk's Pride, a tribe of Orcs that was untouched by the Maj'Eyal PC and Aeryn's campaign. However, this will not be easy, as a new threat lies between you and the Clork Pennisula where Kruk's Pride awaits: The Atmos Tribe, a group of technologically advanced Steam Giants that are determined to keep interlopers out of their territory.In August 2014, a "mini" expansion titled Ashes of Urh'Rok was announced. What we know so far is that it will involve a demonic invasion of Maj'Eyal, and it will add new quests, classes and enemies. A release date has not been determined yet, but it has been confirmed that it will be released before the Orc expansion.It can be downloaded here.
Tales Of Maj'Eyal provides examples of:
Adventurer Archaeologist: Technically speaking, you. The world is recovering after a 10,000 year old dark age, and there are all kinds of shiny objects hidden in those dungeons.
Already Undone for You: In the alternate layout of the Ruins of Kor'Pul, a bandit tribe moves into the ruins and kills the Shade of Kor'Pul before you can...only for the Shade to possess the bandits' chief.
Anti-Grinding: TOME does its best to employ this, despite being part of an infamously grind-heavy subgenre of roguelikes. Monsters don't respawn, XP gains hit diminishing returns extremely quickly, and anything that can be fought multiple times either gives no XP or scales up into unbeatableness. The sole exception is the Sher'tul farportal, which sends you to randomly generated otherworlds with the usual sanity checks on random generation turned off — using the portal is a lot like playing Russian Roulette with your character.
Antimagical Faction: The Ziguranth oppose the use of arcane forces (though not other sources of power).
Apocalyptic Log: Once per dungeon, you find the records left behind by some previous explorer. Typically, the final record either ends abruptly after a reference to the boss (and has bloodstains on it), or describes how the writer was corrupted or hypnotized into allying with the boss.
Archer Archetype: Unsurprisingly, the Archer class. Includes unusual abilities such as Piercing Shot (which hits all enemies in a row) and Rain of Arrows.
The Atoner: It's implied in the unlock texts that classes that are normally inherently evil in-universe (Cursed, Reavers, etc.) have become this when they're player-characters.
Author Avatar: Linaniil of Angolwen is a recurring character of the developer DarkGod.
Ban on Magic: Arcane magic used to be forbidden across Maj'Eyal, with even those who sympathized with spellcasters being burned at the stake. Now, the only ones who still care are the Ziguranth, though that's partly because the true mages are all in hiding for one reason or another.
The only ones actually working to fight against them are the Rhaloren, wicked elven renegades led by the Grand Corruptor, and they're only doing it so that there'll be nobody left to stop their own ambitions.
Beware the Nice Ones: Linaniil just wants responsible magic users to be able to operate openly. Back during the Spellhunt, she was notorious for slaughtering Ziguranth kill-squads to rescue other mages and acquired a reputation as a fireshrouded demon. These days she's stronger than the final bosses, only somewhat weaker defensively than the bonus boss and has the strongest offense in the game.
And her active days were BEFORE she stole the power of a dead god - and stayed sane and herself. There is a reason she has six prodigies when the player can only get two.
Blood Magic: Wielded by Defilers. Vim magic is regenerated through bloodsucking and murder.
Body Horror: The vast majority of the enemies in the Deep Bellow are this. They used to be a dwarven expedition which got corrupted by the presence of Amakthel. The boss is the transfiguration of the foreman's mouth.
Oozemancers seem determined to do this to themselves. Mitosis causes you to generate ooze escorts when you suffer damage. Which suggests that a piece of your body fell away from the wound to become this ooze. And then there's Indiscernible Anatomy, which reduces all enemies' critical chances and lets you resist more status effects. How? Your organs are melding into each other. The skill descriptions in general suggest that Oozemancers become "closer to nature" by becoming oozes themselves.
Bonus Boss: There's Bill, who used to be an outrageous Wake-Up Call Boss before was replaced by Prox and moved to a secret optional level, the giant golem boss, which is level 70 and you need to go out of your way to fight it, and the second bosses, which are level 40-50 bosses who appear in several low-level areas after returning from the other continent.
Bow and Sword, in Accord: While you can technically do this with Bulwarks, Berserkers, and Archers (they have access to both missile and melee skills...if you're willing to spend a skill category point for it, anyway), Temporal Wardens are the resident lords of this art. Not only do they have default melee and bow categories, Celerity lets them switch weapons without using up a turn.
Burn the Witch!: Very common during the Age of Dusk, when mages were thought to have activated the Spellblaze intentionally. They did, although they were only expecting the orcish armies to get blasted, not everyplace with a leyline running through it. Not to mention thought to one and all be necromancers and warlocks. One document from the time says that this is a pretty ineffective way of ridding yourself of a warlock—like they wouldn't think to ward themselves against this—but still likes it for setting an example when magic sympathizers are killed this way.
Card-Carrying Villain: The Master. Unlike most villains, who act for their own power or some twisted ambition, the Master is a stereotypical necromancer who lives up to the role For the Evulz.
Cast from Hit Points: Corruptors can use a talent to do this temporarily, while Solipsists invert this: their resource bar also doubles as a second health bar, and they take damage to it based on their Solipsism talent.
Chekhov's Gunman: Potentially at the very beginning of the game, you can purchase (for cheap!) Linaniil's Lecture on Humility in Angolwen. At the beginning, she refers to her worry over two promising students who'd had enough of Angolwen's strictures on what can and cannot be done by archmages, and fled the coop. At the end of the game, you meet the Big Bad Duumvirate trying to bring about The End of the World as We Know It—and their descriptors speak of them as renegades from Angolwen. You don't suppose they got in an argument with Linaniil about constraint, do you?
The Chosen One: Averted. At the start of the game, you're just an adventure who's out to explore the various ruins, forests and dungeons of the world in search of treasure and adventure. It isn't until you clear the first half dozen dungeons that you stumble upon the plot.
Not hardly, seeing how the Anorithil regard a light-darkness balance as vital to the world's well-being. There is an inherently evil element out there, still; it's called "blight".
Black Magic exists, and it's rather hard to be a nice person when your powers (and in some cases, your physical form itself) are fueled by murder, when your necromantic abilities draw whispers into your mind from the depths of Hell itself, or when you exude a paralyzing, debilitating gloom composed of hate. However, this setting lacks any objective standard or judge of morality, and there's nothing stopping someone with these powers from using them for good, or at least using them as weapons against people who need to be killed anyway.
Deal with the Devil: How to become a Doomed in three easy steps: 1. Make one of these. 2. Suffer the inevitable betrayal of your demonic ally, who takes a good chunk of your powers with it. 3. Declare vengeance against all of creation.
Difficult but Awesome: Oozemancers. They are Zigur-aligned by default, meaning they can't use a good amount of otherwise very useful items, and they actually lose hit points per level rather than gain them, but they are nigh-unanimously considered the biggest Game Breaker class due to their summoning abilities and the relatively low cost of using them.
Difficulty Levels: Five general difficulty settings and three extra life settings, plus a tutorial, make up for a whopping sixteen difficulty levels. The general difficulty settings are:
Easier: Suited for more casual players or those who want to learn the game before tackling higher levels. Damage done to the player and the duration of detrimental effects are both reduced significantly, while player healing is boosted. However, achievements are not granted when playing this difficulty.
Nightmare: A hard mode of an already hard game, zone levels are increased and creatures's talent levels as well. As a minor boon, the player levels up faster and gets better loot, but often not enough to compensate without showing some great skills and knowledge.
Insane: Compare Nightmare to Normal. Take the result and compare it to Nightmare. Calling this setting Nintendo Hard might be a slight underestimation. You must win the game (on any difficulty/extra lives setting) to unlock Insane mode.
Madness: Basically, it's Nintendo Hard taken Up to Eleven and beyond. Compare Insane to Nightmare and apply the result to Insane. It's so difficult that even given all the knowledge and resourcefulness of the most veteran players, only eight Madness wins (out of over 5000 attempts!) were ever recorded since the introduction of this difficulty in 1.1.0 (as of July 24 2014).
Disc One Nuke: Bill's Tree Trunk. Assuming you're able to beat Bill and the RNG is in a good mood when you do and it drops, it's one of the best two handed weapons in the early to mid game.
Dual Wielding: Favored by Rogues, Shadowblades, Marauders, Reavers, and Temporal Wardens. Reavers are unusual in that whereas the other dual-wielders can only use a dagger for the main-gauche, Reavers can use any one-handed weapon for the purpose.
Eldritch Abomination: It shouldn't be much of a surprise that the Horror super-class of monsters is this. The noteworthy part is that the fabled Precursors, the Sher'Tul, were themselves Eldritch Abominations created by Amakthel expressly to conquer the world.
Elite Mooks: The monster tiers. You have Critter, which is basically cannon fodder; Normal, which is your average enemy; Elite, which is fairly dangerous and has similar stats to you; and Boss, which is a seriously major enemy you need to be prepared for.
Escort Mission: Somewhere between "Escorting suicidal chipmunks" and "Leeroy Jenkins".
You: "Wait a moment.."
Injured NPC: "NO, WE MUST HURRY!!!" *runs off and fights a grizzly bear*
As of b41 the random escorts now will try to run away from monsters if they see one.
Now they run away from the grizzly bear toward Wrathroot instead.
Even Evil Has Standards: Tren-method necromancers use all manner of stratagems to avoid being corrupted by infernal presence. The Beinagrind-method necromancers, on the other hand, welcome this corruption, which they instead see as perfection of the psyche. The author of the necromancer primer wonders in-print why this "perfection" always seems to result in Beinagrinds becoming Omnicidal Maniacs. The Tren, on the other hand, see no need to go beyond "lots of obeisance, respect, and fear".
Evil Is Visceral: At least when you're a Defiler. Sanguisuge (i.e. bloodsucking), plague, bone, blood...you get the idea.
Fantastic Racism: Not a major plot of the game, but it exists. Halflings and yeeks are old enemies—especially since the halflings originally enslaved the yeeks (and the first orcs, too!)—and everyone hates the Shaloren (especially their Thaloren kin). In the Back Story, halflings and humans were enemies, but since the marriage of Toknor and Mirvenia, they've been allied together.
Many old halfling texts show heavy racism towards humans, whom they believe are intellectually inferior, with one mad scientist gleefully (and very brutally) experimenting on humans (and yeeks). Shaloren tend to think that non-elven races are inferior as well. Higher humans are very racist towards other humans, claiming a superior bloodline; complete with superior intellect and better looks, and generally avoid mating with non-higher humans. All races are, unsurprisingly, highly racist towards orcs and most people seem to have no remorse for wiping the orcs out of existence though unbeknownst to all but the dwarves, they did not actually wipe out all of the orcs. On that note, the orc texts, even less surprisingly, reveal racism towards all of the other races; as well as massive contempt for the hostile attitudes that other races have towards orcs.
Fate Worse than Death: According to the text blurb, dying against High Tempest Ukris results in him using your still living body in his mad electricity based experiments.
The Master is even worse. He takes great enjoyment of using slain adventurers as new ghouls and skeletons and ghasts and spirits to wander his halls for all of eternity (well, at least until another adventurer comes along and slays them). He enjoys tormenting his victims ruthlessly. He tortured a dwarf to find out where the dwarf's companions were, even though he admitted that he could have simply used divination magic. He chased a halfling around his halls for weeks for pure enjoyment, and only ended up killing the halfling (and raising him as a skeleton) when he got bored of watching the halfling pathetically eat his own feces to survive. It's implied that he tempted a human into betraying her companions for power (or perhaps he used some form of mind control). Instead, he tore out her soul and forced her to wander his halls as a spirit.
Final Death: Averted in some of the difficulty modes, but those lock out Achievements. Also, unlike most Roguelikes, Maj'Eyal allows you to immediately restart the game upon death, either as your original character with the same initial stat allocations, or as a new character.
Final Solution: Toknor ordered this upon the orcs after his halfling queen and their unborn son were nearly killed, the capstone for him of all the marauding the orcs had done towards everyone else during the Age of Pyre. The Orc Prides who were safe in the Far East aren't taking this lying down.
Flash Step: The Skirmisher's Tumble ability basically works like this; it's an instant, short range "teleport". As a bonus it gives you a boost to your critical hit rate immediately after using it.
Flunky Boss: The Mouth, boss of the Deep Bellow. Nothing hurts it. What you have to do is wait for it to use Gift of Amakthel (and duck behind a plant in the meantime to avoid Call of Amakthel and Drain) to generate a Slimy Crawler and kill that, which will result in the Mouth suffering about 1000 damage. You'll need to take down 10-12 Crawlers to finally do in the Mouth.
Glass Cannon: Any race-class combination with a life penalty tends toward this. It's particularly common among yeeks.
Gravity Master: Paradox Mages can become this if you so choose. The Gravity powers lack raw damage but work together well and give you lots of control and positioning options.
Guide Dang It: The Derth Stormcloud quest. See Unwinnable below. Also, many of the requirements for unlocking classes and races.
Half-Human Hybrid: The King of the Allied Kingdoms is the son of King Toknor (a Higher human) and Queen Mirvenia (halfling). He appears completely human, however, and he is the first known example of this happening.
Have a Nice Death: When you die, the death message is customized to the kind of weapon or element that killed you, from the mundane (e.g. "skewered", "frozen") to the not-so-brief ("slowly cooked", "grandfathered" for dying to temporal damage, "treehugged" for dying to nature damage, etc.). In addition, if a boss kills you, a very special fate is added to the message. The Mouth: "turned into a shrieking drem bat". Prox the Mighty: "eaten raw". Subject Z: "bloodily smeared across the walls". Bill the Stone Troll "(method) to death (yetagain) and cooked into stew". And so on.
Note that in later versions, these always have "to death" somewhere in them, usually at the end ("frozen to death," "skewered to death," etc.) This can get quite weird, e.g. "replaced with a temporal clone (and no one ever knew the difference) to death."
He Who Fights Monsters: The document that doesn't think burning warlocks is good for much more than making examples of sympathizers does have a deeply recommended way of definitively dispatching mages. When you read it, you'll find yourself wondering how they managed to miss the sheer sadism of the method...
In one of the loading screen blurbs of the first RC, it's mentioned that the Ziguranth were founded by escaped test subjects of the Conclave. Guess who ultimately became the resident KnightsTemplaragainst magic.
Hive Mind: The yeeks have one in the form of The Way. This is the first version of a Hive Mind, where it's just a case of all the minds being in constant contact. Their aqueous cousins the yaech want nothing to do with it.
Hobbits: Maj'Eyal halflings are mostly common farmers, but that's because most people are common farmers. In the past, the Halfling race created the first great empire of the Age of Allure by military force and magical Mad Science, enslaving and experimenting on humans and yeeks, and halflings retain their militaristic traditions even in the modern era. The Allied Kingdoms, the dominant power in Maj'Eyal, were formed by a union of the Human and Halfling kingdoms.
Humans Are Average: The Cornacs fit the trope to a tee, being the baseline race and having no particular racial abilities, but having an extra category point allows them to unlock other ability trees much more easily. Highers avert the trope.
Human Subspecies: The Highers are the purebred descendants of humans who were experimented on by halflings during the Age of Allure. They're longer-lived and gifted with great magical potential, but don't advance as quickly as Cornacs and lack their versatility.
Improbable Aiming Skills: Skirmishers' Called Shot skills let them do various special things with their slings. Kneecapper: snare an enemy. Kill Shot: do more damage to more distant enemies. Noggin Knocker: stun an enemy, or keep them stunned longer. The "Improbable" part comes from the fact that you get to ignore enemies between you and your actual victim—and sling shots don't normally deal in arc shots.
Jack of All Stats: In races, the Cornac and Higher. In classes, the Temporal Warden and Mindslayer. The Temporal Warden plays with the precept in that it has a couple of skills that use your Willpower to calculate your Strength and Magic, meaning you don't have to spread your stats out as much as you'd think.
Jerkass Has a Point: While the Ziguranth do actively encourage members to kidnap innocent mages or mage sympathizers and send them to Zigur for torture, magic does not have a good history in this setting, and evil mages are almost completely impossible for anyone else to control.
Knight Templar: The Ziguranth have not left behind the magic-phobia that permeated the Ages of Dusk and Pyre. You can't even get in there on your own volition if you have any kind of arcane ability, and if you're brought there, you're in for a round of torture followed by death. If you believe"The story of my salvation," though, they do have some standards. According to that narrator, the Ziguranth actually saved her from a Torches and Pitchforks mob, despite her being an alchemist; she may have been involved in using minor arcane magic, but she wasn't evil, and she wasn't what the Ziguranth were looking to destroy. They're also very sympathetic towards those whose involvement with the arcane isn't their fault, as with Melinda being tainted with demonic power during the failed attempt to sacrifice her.
Light Is Not Good: Amakthel created the sun for one purpose — to lay claim to everything its light fell upon. Read: the entire world.
Linaniil of Angolwen is also a survivor from the Age of Allure.
Living Shadow In particular, the Necromancer and Shadowblade classes. They both have abilities that can literally summon a shadow of themselves to fight alongside them. Another mention is the Doomed class, which can summon shadows to flit around and attack enemies.
Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: Most notable for the Bulwark and the Sun Paladin, who each have a number of shield-based attacks and abilities. Other classes (like Wyrmics and Curseds) sometimes will use shields as well. The new Skirmisher class specializes in using sling and shield at the same time, and uses Cunning as the requisite for the shield. This results in a halfling with 18 Strength carrying around a shield bigger than he is.
Magic A Is Magic A: There are at least seven forms of magic in Maj'Eyal, all of which channel different forces and operate on completely different principles.
Standard magic (also known as "arcane magic," but that descriptor also applies to chronomancy, vim and celestial magic), which relies on Mana. Includes Necromancy and Alchemy among its many forms. Those who specialize in magic use can regenerate mana naturally, but others need to find items that help them with mana regeneration if they want to use it.
Chronomancy, the ability to effect changes in the fabric of space, time, matter and energy. Not limited by Mana, but meddling with the timestream creates Paradox, which simultaneously makes a Chronomancer's abilities more powerful and increases the chance that the magic will backfire.
Celestial magic, which draws on The Power of the Sun, the Moon and the Stars to invoke miraculous effects. Positive and Negative energy decay over time and do not regenerate naturally, but are refilled by using certain abilities. A lost art in Maj'Eyal, best known in the Far East.
Vim, used by Defilers. A nasty form of magic that does not regenerate naturally, but is refilled by bloodsucking and murder, and is used to damage people's bodies directly.
Wild Gifts, which draw on nature. These are limited by one's Equilibrium, a measure of one's harmony with nature; if someone gets too far out of balance, their powers will cease to work. The specialty of the Ziguranth.
Psychic Powers, most commonly found among the Yeek race. Psychic energy naturally regenerates slowly, but can be regained quickly by conversion of other energy (such as the kinetic energy of an attacker's blow) into psi.
The Power of Hate, weaponized by the Afflicted. The Afflicted suffer from various curses, but through their own hatred and rage, they can turn their curse outward and use it against others instead.
There are also devices powered by "unknown forces" and about the only thing we know about them is that they're not any of the others, that they're not any kind of arcane magic (at least so far as the Ziguranth can tell), and that the Sher'Tul made extensive use of them. It's unclear whether these are all the same kind of magic or whether it's a catch-all for "magic we don't understand."
In many different types - about one for each of the (numerous) power types. Arcane Blades channel regular old magic though their melee attacks, Wyrmics use the power of nature to emulate dragons to things like breath fire/sand/ice/lightning, Reavers use demon magic to give people diseases and then hack them apart, Sun Paladins sustain themselves through the power of the Sun, Cursed sap their enemies' will to fight with their hate, Temporal Wardens use Chronomancy to achieve a high-speed, high-mobility combat style, and Mindslayers use Psychic Powers to enhance their abilities and fight with telekinetically-wielded weapons.
Make an Example of Them: One piece of lore, written during the period where mages were actively persecuted, suggested that those who sympathize with mages who "mysteriously vanish" (as mage sympathizing technically wasn't illegal at the time) can serve as this.
Mind Manipulation: A specialty of the yeek and yaech races. There's a gang of land-dwelling yaechs that use it to run a slaving ring.
Mind Rape: The mind damage type does this to enemies.
Monty Haul: The amount of treasure behind the sealed doors in Dreadfell and the guaranteed gigantic equipment stash in the Vor Armoury mean that you seriously won't have to upgrade your equipment ever again. If, that is, you can put up with the ultra-powerful goons in there, seeing how these are the equivalent of Angband's greater vaults.
Multiple Endings: Upon defeating the Big Bad Duumvirate, you will have multiple choices on what to do with their evil portal. If you were able to interrupt the ritual at the Charred Scar, that's that, but if they were able to finish that ritual, you will be forced to choose whether Aeryn or yourself performs a Heroic Sacrifice to close it. Also, if your character is a Yeek, you have an additional option to sacrifice yourself to use the portal to forcefully convert the rest of the world to The Way. Later versions of the game add a second ending option for Yeek characters, where you succeed in stopping the Sorcerers' ritual at the Charred Scar, and at the end allow yourself to be killed by Aeryn to prevent The Way from taking over the world.
Not Using the Z Word: Most fantasy worlds give necromancers zombies and skeletons for their expendable goons. Here, it's ghouls and skeletons. Probably justified on account of ghouls being known for their endless hunger for humanoid flesh; that's not something voodoo zombies (i.e. the source of the word "zombie") were known for, but very much so for the original ghuls of Arabian and Persian lore, even if they were demons rather than undead.
One Bad Mother: Tragic example in the Orc Breeding Pit. After the Orc Pride was nearly obliterated at the close of the Age of Pyre, the last remaining orcish medical sciences expert came up with the idea of turning a good chunk of the remaining orcish women into comatose baby generators. Which involved imbuing them with blight-corrupted blood, causing them to generate multiple generative/sexual organs, and produce and bear young at a frankly ridiculous rate. When the clinician put one of the Orc Mothers out of her coma to check on her mental situation, her sheer agony, from both her monstrified form and the pain of the new generative organs squashing up all her other organs, brought home the enormity of the act to him, and he was Driven to Suicide. The military captain who came to check up on him, sadly, failed to understand what had horrified him—the plan was an astounding success for the Pride, after all. And as for the Mothers' pain...well, a doping infusion should fix that, right?
Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Pretty much. One quirk, however, is that the dwarven kingdom (the Iron Throne) is one of the rare factions that openly uses both natural and arcane magic equally, and the only class to wield both is the Dwarven Stone Warden.
Our Elves Are Better: They come in High Elf (Shaloren) and Wood Elf (Thaloren) varieties, but only the Rhaloren (Shaloren renegades) actually act like they're better. The rest of the Shaloren mostly try to keep their heads down to avoid another crusade.
Our Orcs Are Different: Maj'Eyal's Orcs are essentially Tolkienian, though they're of human intelligence and very capable with magic (in particular, Blood Magic was an orcish invention). They're believed to have been wiped out in the Age of Pyre, but survivors occasionally pop up from time to time in Maj'Eyal. They actually control most of the Far East, and have also seized the Dwarven citadel of Reknor in Maj'Eyal.
Oxygenated Underwater Bubbles: There are a few underwater levels with stationary (and depleteable) bubbles that you have to travel between to avoid suffocation if you don't have a way to just breathe water outright.
Pet the Dog: One piece of lore details how the Ziguranth once saved the life of an Alchemist accused of poisoning her town's elder.
Plague Master: Reavers and Corruptors can develop a set of disease talents which inflict damage over time and stat debuffs.
Protection Mission: Unlocking the yeek race; you have to defeat Subject Z (but not as a halfling) without letting the Yeek Wayist die. Then you have to do this as a yeek to unlock the mindslayer class.
Then again, according to Word of God, the real reason most of the Sher'tul decided to go on a deicide spree was that, being the creations of Amakthel, they had a measure of his dominant personality traits. Namely, pride, arrogance, powerlust, and a general unwillingness to have any peers or superiors, only subjects. The only divinity they spared was a sea goddess who had no interest in terrestrial dominion. Note: She's not Amakthel.
Quirky Bard: Paradox Mages' abilities are weird, and no other class can match them in controlling the battlefield or performing trick plays. But their defenses are subpar, their escape abilities limited, and while they can do decent damage when they finally attack, their attack spells won't carry the game for them. Players can and have won with them, but they're not an easy class to win with.
Taken to a whole level with The Wondrous Emporium in Last Hope. If you save the shopkeeper in an early optional quest, then get to Far East and back, and then pay a hefty sum in gold, the shopkeeper will create a randomly generated item of the basic type of your choice (axe, gloves, armour, slingshot, you name it). This item is always top-tier and, unless the RNG is really generous later, one of the best items of its type you'll find in one game. The gold price is really high though - in most games, you can afford no more than two such items throughout the whole game.
The Red Mage: Anorithils. They use both light and darkness-based celestial magic, giving them amazing healing and defensive capabilities along with nuclear-level attack capabilities once they get going. They have a very simple playstyle (barrier of light, blasts of darkness, heal when weak), but suffer from a lack of utility powers or trickery.
Regenerating Mana: The game has a number of different resources. Stamina and psi points always regenerate on their own, albeit slowly. Mana points, however, only regenerate naturally for certain classes; otherwise, you need to get lucky with equipment drops or rely on the Level Up Fill Up. The other resources don't regenerate; you have to fulfill their particular esoteric requirements to get more of them.
Rising Empire: The Allied Kingdoms. Ever since the Orcs were rendered extinct in Maj'Eyal, and the human and halfling kingdoms united under Toknor and Mirvenia, the Allied Kingdoms have been rebuilding from the Age of Pyre, exploring the ruins of the past, and rediscovering the power of magic.
Screw You, Elves!: The Shaloren Elves suffered a massive drop in popularity after the Spellblaze. The Thaloren Elves are more tolerated due to their preference to nature over magic, but most of the other races are still suspicious of them.
Serial Killer: The Cursed in a nutshell. For the most part (like the one slaughtering lumberjacks, who you have to stop in order to play Cursed yourself), they're Hedonistic-thrill. Presumably, your Cursed are either instead or additionally Mission Based.
Schmuck Bait: Go ahead, give the Master's staff to the Apprentice Mage and see what happens.
Squishy Wizard: Played with. In general, every spellcasting class has ways of averting this, and any successful player will go out of their way to do this. In the early game, or without taking advantage of your defenses, wizard classes do tend to fit this. And shields or not, nothing's going to keep a Yeek Archmage or Paradox Mage from fitting this trope.
Prior to 1.2.0 Archers could choose to concentrate on sling talents. You lose some of the AOE talents of bow archers, but gain some extra control in the form of Eye Shot (which blinds an opponent) and Inertial Shot (a handy knockback). Slings use Cunning for their damage instead of Strength, and therefore can be especially useful for Halflings or Yeeks.
1.2.0 added Skirmishers, who use slings in tandem with shields. Slings use Cunning for their damage instead of Strength, and therefore can be especially useful for Halflings or Yeeks.
Surrounded by Idiots: If the signs are anything to go by, the Master of Dreadfell feels like this a lot.
Teleport Spam: Paradox Mages can engage in this, including moving their opponents around with Banish and Wormhole.
The Power of Hate: The source of the abilities of Cursed and Doomed characters. If you're Cursed, your hatred oozes out of you in a constant debuffing cloud. For Doomed characters, their hateful mind lashes out at their enemies.
Timey-Wimey Ball: Paradox Mages' powers don't even obey the rules of sanity, let alone causality. For example, one spell lets you call a future self of yours back in time to help you, and the future self can be killed without affecting you...and at the end of the spell, you're pulled back in time, and you can let your past self be killed, and that also doesn't affect you. And yes, both your future self and past self can die in the same casting of the spell, while you continue to exist.
Incidentally, guess how you unlock Paradox Mages in the first place? Well, if you're playing a Temporal Warden and explore the Daikara, you encounter your future self and have to fight him. You unlock the class by being killed by your future self. The event nullifies itself, kills your future self, and creates a temporal rift as the universe divides by zero.
Turned Against Their Masters: The writer of the necromancer primer anticipates this to happen to the would-be rulers of the Blighted Ruins. If you play a ghoul or skeleton, you actually bring it about — you start out inside a broken summoning circle with a terrified (but hostile) necromancer shouting orders at you, and it all goes downhill from there.
Turns Red: The Rat Lich, boss of the Forsaken Crypt Bonus Dungeon. Once you kill it once, it immediately resurrects with double health, the ability to summon an infinite amount of rat minions, and tons of high level spells.
Unlockable Content: Most classes and a few races start out locked, and must be unlocked by completing in-game achievements. This is for three reasons: to avoid an Interface Spoiler before players have learned enough of the game's lorenote For example, the fact that mages still exist is kind of a secret in-universe, so the Archmage class is locked until you discover Angolwen, to provide a sense of accomplishment to players who unlock them, and most importantly, to keep new players from being overwhelmed by the sheer variety of possible race/class combinations, each of which plays completely differently.
Unwinnable: This can happen if you kill Aerwyn the Sun Paladin before she tells you about the slime tunnel. You need to go through the tunnel in order to reach the final dungeon.
If you do the following, the special quest where there's an electric storm cloud above Derth becomes impossible to finish.
Pick up the quest.
Get Antimagic at Zigur, so you can't get help from Angolwen to dispel the cloud.
Kill their leader, so you can't get help from Zigur to dispel the cloud.
Complain that it's impossible.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Ziguranth seek to protect the world from the dangers of magic (and they have a point, since reckless use of magic led to the Spellblaze), but they are very indiscriminate in who they attack. The Rhaloren seek to end the oppression and bigotry that the Shaloren have suffered since the Spellblaze...by subjugating the rest of the races.
Tannen is another, seeking to run all sorts of unethicalexperiments with the full knowledge that his peers and society at large wouldn't approve; his justification is that adherence to experimental ethics prevented study of the Sher'Tul farportals, contributing to the Spellblaze, and someone needs to catalogue the risks, hazards, and applications of taboo subjects before desperation pushes someone to toying with them anyway. The problems arise with his guiltless abduction of new test subjects, and when the hero's existence threatens to cut off his funding, jeopardizing his experiments...
Worthless Yellow Rocks: The Sher'tul fortress needs to be powered up by dumping objects in its reactor core. This produces useless gold as an undesirable byproduct, and is thus given to you to dispose of as you see fit.
Yin-Yang Bomb: The Anorithil use both Positive and Negative energy.
Anti-Grinding: Completely averted. Want to spend a few decades loitering around at the bottom of the Sandworm Lair, looking for potions that will get you additional stats and spellbooks that you need for progression? Not only allowed, but encouraged. You do have a time limit in the name of food et all, but this is averted due to the ease of teleporting in and out of dungeons.
Bonus Dungeon: Several. Only a few dungeons are actually required for the main game, the rest are optional but have bosses with set drops of varying use. Playing the trope more straight is The Void, a huge dungeon with enemies that are scaled (somewhat unfairly) to your own level, and with no air — finding an item that makes it so you don't need to breathe is a major part of the early postgame.
Excuse Plot: Averted. The 2.X series follows the Tolkien worldverse somewhat closely, having the character go through the quest of the ring, ultimately destroying it on Mt. Doom — or dooming the world by putting it onnote Who did you think you were? Bilbo? It instantly corrupts you if you as so much as touch it once. There's a Playable Epilogue after destroying the ring that involves you finding your way into the Bonus Dungeon to kill Mograth's soul itself.
Final Death: There is a rare one shot item called the Blood of Life that will bring you back to life — once — if you die; and ultra-high level Necromancy can do this, but other than that, once you die, you're dead.
Good Old Fisticuffs: A combat option for Loremasters. Monks specialize in it, but Loremasters and Possessors can do it as well. Gives bonuses to dodging as long as you avoid heavy armor, but also scales very well and avoids the problems (and benefits) of weapons. In addition, Possessor forms such as, say, Dragons are technically unarmed, meaning that a Possessor with Barehand Combat skill an fight just as well in Dragon Form as Humanoid Form.
Lost Forever: By default off, but you can disable the system that protects unidentified artifacts from being lost, causing them to be lost forever if you leave a dungeon floor with them on (the tradeoff is that you are told, explicitly, that an artifact exists on a floor you enter). In addition, any artifact that is IDed and later lost is lost for good, even with this option on.
Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Part of the charm of the 2.X series — the sheer number of class / race / subrace / skillpoint build combinations are nearly endless. Some are incredibly powerful. Some... aren't.
Randomly Generated Levels: Everything not a town or special level. Dungeons do have themes, however — for example, the Orc Caves are, well, caves; the Sandworm Lair is a long twisty dungeon of nothing but sand (easily dug through). The "Ironman" option changes the engine to always generate "interesting" rooms — interesting as defined by special rooms filled with instant death.
Randomly Drops: Very very random, although traditionally the best loot is found either on the floor of vaults or on Dragons (which can be scummed from Quylthulgs later in the game). "RandArts", randomly generated artifacts, are also worth a mention, as they can be based on any basic item in the game and have a rather large number of stats.
Warp Whistle: Scrolls of Word of Recall, as well as the various spell versions. Required for any dungeon dive past a few floors. Bring extras, cause they're not fireproof. (Unless they are.)
Yet Another Stupid Death: Lots. Getting paralyzed by an eye is one of the top early ones, however, leaving you to slowly starve to death as the eye paralyzes you over and over again. Later on, anything that uses water attacks — as there is no water resistance in the game.