Thera: Legacy of the Great Torment
is a conversion mod for Medieval II: Total War: Kingdoms
that creates an entirely new campaign map with a number of new and modified factions.Thera
was once a world much like our own: a world of vast forests and windswept plains, with mighty civilizations and rich, extensive cultures. The Great Torment
happened. The ground heaved and shuddered, swallowing entire cities and cracking continents. Vast storms swept over regions for weeks, months, and in some places years. Frigid blizzards iced over many of the lands, and what wasn't frozen suffered famine and plagues. The civilizations of the world broke and scattered, with only the hardiest surviving the disasters that ensued. Some civilizations turned to warfare to survive, others to science, others to religion.That was two hundred and twenty-two years ago.
The seas have calmed, the storms have passed, the plagues have ended, and the fields are green again. The survivors of the Torment have banded together into a number of small civilizations, separated by vast lands of wilderness and hostile brigands. With stable food and a growing population, the leaders of the nations of Thera have begun to look outwards from their borders, with spies, diplomats, and armies mobilizing to see what remains of civilization and what they can seize for themselves.
As a campaign, Thera
places emphasis on careful empire management, intermixed with the proud Total War
tradition of finding someone to beat the snot out of and crushing them in tactical battles. The player starts out with a substantial war chest and a large number of unaffiliated rebel settlements bordering their territory, encouraging rapid expansion and buildup early on before real war erupts between the various nations. There is a wide variety of factions to choose from, some of them being modified original factions from Medieval II
while others are entirely new, with completely new character models. Though at first glance the mod looks
like an alternate Earth, there's a lot of deliberate anachronisms and some Low Fantasy
elements (primarily in the form of the bestial Uruk Dominion).
The fourth version of the mod was released in late 2012, expanding on and rounding out many of the factions, as well as adding more fantasy elements.
Provides examples of:
- Affably Evil: Jarl Bluetooth of the Men of Valhalla. According to his opening speech, he made good friends with a fellow jarl, listened carefully to what he had to say, sat down next to him, thanked him for his wisdom, and then cut his throat and made a cloak out of his skin.
- After the End: A major point. The world has been destroyed. Its up to you to take your particular nation and rebuild it.
- The Alliance: Several:
- The various Christian nations have a loose alliance, mostly held together by the fact that they're surrounded by pagans and Islamic factions and the Inquisition is there to slap them on the head like recalcitrant children.
- The Warriors of Kukulcan are an alliance of tribes and warriors from multiple parts of the Mesocala landmass, unified in both their worship of Kukulcan and hatred for anyone who doesn't. Their unit roster consists of troop types from both the Paynal Empire and Sycorax Nations.
- Povos Hispana and the Tahar Caliphate are also tribal alliances made primarily to resist Christian attack.
- The Uruk Dominion combines this with The Horde, as they are a society of former slave creatures and gladiators, coupled with the oppressed peoples of the Demos region on the southernmost continent, unified to fight against domination by the Romuli Empire.
- The Gaelic Nations are an alliance of pagan tribes on the island of Tethra united to fight against the Christian powers of Avalon and the Merevangi and Teutonic Order.
- Alternate Universe: According to Word Of God, the world of Thera is "kind of" like the real world, but has its own particular history.
- Anachronism Stew: Tech and cultures vary wildly. You've got everything from the Late-Renaissance Faustian Reich with their pikemen, musketmen, and cannons to the Paynal Empire, an Aztec-like civilization that hasn't invented the wheel, to Romuli, which is basically Ancient Rome (which can develop gunpowder, letting them field legionaries in lorica and wielding muskets and cannons). As the game progresses, you'll likely end up recruiting regional or mercenary troops to supplement your regular forces, resulting in even further anacronisms. It is entirely possible to have companies of musketeers, cannon, ballista, and rocket elephants bombarding an enemy line while being protected by Mesocalan natives wearing wooden armor and fighting with stone tomahawks, obsidian-tipped spears, and shortbows.
- Attack Animal: Some of the factions have access to special units of attack dogs. They're somewhere between cavalry and light infantry in terms of speed, and work best for ripping up archer units or disrupting infantry formations. They do have the disadvantage of the fact that, once let off the leash, you have no control over the hounds, which will rampage around the battlefield attacking anything not on your side once they get done with their initial target. Fortunately, casualties among the hounds are automatically replaced after every battle, so as long as the handlers don't take any casualties, you won't have to replace them, making them ideal for being the first unit through a breach or to intercept a cavalry charge.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Royal bodyguard units, as with vanilla Total War, are very powerful units, and they only get meaner and more powerful when it's a faction leader or faction heir involved. A faction leader's bodyguard can destroy a majority of the enemy army's units if used properly, especially when you start stacking artifacts. Generic, trainable general's bodyguards are less potent but still powerful and often disproportionately strong for their size.
- Awesome But Practical:
- Rocket crossbows/archers. The Lao Che and Uruk Dominion get access to archers who shoot explosive arrows, which wreak inaccurate but extreme havoc on enemy troops, especially when bunched together. Watching half a dozen companies of these archers unload is also a spectacular sight.
- Faustian Stormtroopers. Most gunners are the kind you'd ideally want to keep from getting tangled up in-close, but Stormtroopers are utterly devastating both at short-range shooting and melee.
- Rohan in Version 3. The old kingdom may have collapsed, but it certainly wasn't because of the weakness of their troops, and the mercenary Rohan soldiers you can recruit from the northernmost provinces of Norselund are among the best mercenaries in the game. Aside from being cheap to recruit, their upkeep is surprisingly low, allowing you to field heavy infantry units able to match anything short of faction-specific top-tier heavy infantry units at a third of the upkeep cost. They also have cheap heavy cavalry archers and foot archers with range and punch to match Avalon's elite longbowmen, and Rohan's archers are also nearly as effective in melee as their heavy swordsmen. Their two-hander Nobles and Guards are also more powerful than most faction-specific equivalents. The only downsides are that Rohan has no spearmen, and there are only two provinces in the entire game where you can recruit Rohan troops, so you can't retrain them unless you cycle back the experienced units all the way across the map and constantly bring in reinforcements from the homeland.
- Rohan in Version 4 has been replaced by Ysmir, a nation of hardened viking warriors who make for powerful mercenaries and provincial units. Norselund's provinces also allow you to recruit Jotnarr frost giant troops, who can utterly devastate enemy armies with giant boulders and massive longbows.
- Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Uruks and Ly Kan can interbreed with human females; the male offspring of such unions are Uruks or Ly Kan, while the female offspring are human.
- Bling of War: As the campaign progresses, your generals will accumulate a substantial collection of powerful items, ranging from artifact weapons to legendary unit banners to helmets and armor to miscellaneous artifacts. Generally-speaking, each faction has two, possibly three artifacts, each of which has an "spiritual home" settlement (i.e. Excalibur's spiritual home is Castle Avalon). Any general who is in that settlement has a chance to gain that artifact, assuming that no other general has claimed it.
- Blood Knight: The Men of Valhalla believe they will go to join the Norse gods in Valhalla if they die a good death, and thus pitch themselves into battle for its own sake. The Duchy of Dracule also features a unit called Blood Knights, as well as battelfield stealth units called Vampyres that terrify opponents.
- The Chosen One: Several cultures have "chosen" ones who they venerate who held their cultures together during the Great Torment. Avalon has King Arthur, and the Lao Che Khanate has Lao Che.
- Cool Sword: Most of the factions have at least some form of special artifact weapon that can boost their effectiveness in combat, ranging from ancestral swords like Excalibur to the Axe of Odin to the Holy Lance.
- Cool Versus Awesome: Romans vs. Vikings! Pirates vs. Mongol Samurai! Wolfmen, Uruk Hai, lizardmen and Spartans vs. pikemen, cannons, and Renaissance swordsmen! King Arthur vs. Mesoamerican tribesman! Scottish swordsmen versus Spanish conquistadores!
- Disc One Nuke:
- The Ducado and the Faustian Reich start out with the ability to field Carracks with cannons. Everyone else still has cogs, longboats, galleys, or dhows. Naval battles with the Ducado and Reich early on are....one-sided. The only faction that comes close to matching them are the Privateers, with their startlingly powerful Pirate Ships.
- The Uruk Dominion starts with ten companies of Uruk Hai warriors, though a bit scattered around their territory. These speedy, hard-hitting troops will mow through just about any early-period army they encounter, with some archery/light cavalry/spearman support.
- Some of the provinces in Syrianna allow you to hire a Monster Bombard mercenary unit. They cost a whopping amount of money to maintain, but in the face of an elephant-sized artillery piece, there's not much a fortress' defenders can do but wait for the walls to collapse and the enemy to storm the castle.
- Some provinces (Lao Che starting provinces particularly) allow you to hire elephant mercenaries, including elephants with cannons and rocket launchers, and building caravan stops lets you hire them directly. Against early-period armies, these elephants are decisive. The Sycorax provinces allow you to hire mammucs, which are huge hairy elephants, and while they don't have the artillery, they're still massive and have a very low upkeep cost relative to the mayhem they can inflict.
- Fantastic Racism: All of the bestial species in the Uruk Dominion were slaves of Romuli. Once Romuli's control of Demos slipped, they began to return the favor.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: For the most part, every culture has a rough counterpart historically. Only the Teutonic Order is entirely unchanged from its Kingdoms incarnation.
- The Inquisition is a beefed up version of the Papal States, complete with their own secure island.
- The Kingdom of Avalon is medieval England with elements of King Arthur, and the Bons Chevaliers/Royame de Merevangi are medieval France. The Grand Duchy of Dracule is a combination of Lithuania, Poland, and Transylvania under Vlad the Impaler's rule. The Holy Order of the Pale Knight is a stand-in for the Kingdom of Antioch.
- The Men of Valhalla are obviously Vikings, while the Men of Wotan are a fusion of Vikings and medieval Russia.
- The Vashta Sultanate, Barkar Caliphate, and Tahar Caliphate are Turkey, Egypt, and the Moors, respectively.
- Povos Hispana is a pagan version of Portugal, while the Ducado de Sangre Valiente is renaissance Spain/Aragon. The Faustian Riech is a fusion of Renaissance Holy Roman Empire and Italy. The League of Privateers is a mixture of various pirates and coastal Italian cities.
- The Gaelic nations are a fusion of Welsh, Irish, and Scottish cultures. Naturally, they smack headlong into the England-equivalent of Avalon.
- Romuli is obviously Ancient Rome, while the Uruk Dominion is a combination of Isengard, Sparta, and a heavy bit of Spartacus. Lao Che is a fusion of the Mongols, medieval China, and feudal Japan.
- Final Boss: For the non-Christian nations (and likely the Christian ones too at some point), the Inquisition, which is Thera's equivalent of the Papal States. They have no less than six full-sized stacks of elite troops on two small, well-fortified islands. Tackling them will take a lot of men and a lost of casualties and will likely only happen after you've conquered most of the other Christian nations. You don't have to fight the Inquisition, but they are likely to be the last thing standing between you and total domination of the entire map.
- Gladiator Revolt: Essentially how the Uruk Dominion was founded.
- Glass Cannon: The League of Privateers as of Version 4. Their gunpowder units are capable of shredding entire ranks in a single volley, but they have very few armoured units, so things will quickly turn against them if they get swamped in melee. Using native auxiliaries as meat-shields for your fragile gun-toting troops is a small remedy.
- Grey and Gray Morality: There is no faction that is a clear-cut "good guy" but even the most brutal factions have reasons for their distrust and hate of other factions. Depending on the faction, this can stray into Black and Gray Morality and even Evil Versus Evil.
- A good example of this is the Uruk Dominion. Their primary drive is to secure freedom for their oppressed and brutalized people - a noble goal, as they're the only nation where Uruks, Ly Kan, and Reptarri are actually free instead of slaves. However, they also breed stronger warriors in breeding facilities using human women - mostly captured and enslaved human women from regions they've invaded.
- The closest faction one gets to a true "good guy" is Avalon, which places the protection and prosperity of the people above all else and emphasizes the rule of law over all citizens, including the king. On the other hand Avalon is closely tied to the Inquisition and its fairly backward views on things like scientific development.
- The Horde: The Uruk Dominion is made of several bestial species formerly used as slaves by Romuli: the monstrous Uruks, the canine-like Ly Kan, and the lizard/frog/fish-like Reptarri. They also include humans who served either as gladiators or hoplites as auxilliaries and militia.
- The Warriors of Kukulcan are a Mesoamerican version of this, consisting of many tribes united in worship of Kukulcan and hatred of anything else. Their human sacrifice rituals round out the horde-ishness.
- The Men of Valhalla, especially once they start fielding units of Jotnarr.
- The Gaelic Nations have become more horde-like as of Version 4, replacing firearms with longbow units and having a number of brutal "barbarian"-style units, including Morrigan's Sworn and Caladoni Swords.
- Hoist By Their Own Petard: Sycorax specialize in using enemy technology against them. They're the only Mesocala "native" faction have access to horses, guns, and elephants.
- The Kingdom: The "chivalric" Christian nations (Avalon, Bons Chevaliers, Grand Duchy of Dracule, and the Teutonic Order) most strongly adhere to this, sticking to a medieval-level culture of knights, men-at-arms, and archers and possessing a close connection to the Inquisition.
- Lightning Bruiser: Knights in general, as well as Uruks and Ly Kan warriors and foot-based general's bodyguards. Mounted general's and royal bodyguards move pretty quickly as well and hit like freight trains, especially when the general's got artifacts and has a lot of experience. Mounted gunners like Faustian Pistoleer Cavalry and Sycorax Mounted Thunder Braves also hit with a hell of a punch and are incredibly fast.
- Low Fantasy: There are fantastic elements in the setting, mostly in the form of the nonhuman creatures on the southernmost continent. There are also artifacts of tangible power (i.e. the Holy Grail, the Book of Morrigan, etc.) and some indications of magical prophecies in multiple factions' backgrounds. Version 4 add smore fantastic elements, such as raptor-riding Paynal cavalry, undead warriors being summoned by Dominion priests, and frost giants called Jotnaar roaming around Norselund.
- The Mario: The Gaelic Nations in Version 3 are best described as being competent in just about every area of military and technological prowess, without excelling at any one area. They've got good light cavalry but not the best, as the Islamic/Norse nations are better overall. They've got solid heavy cavalry but the heavy cavalry specialists like the Christian kingdoms will beat them. Their heavy infantry is good, but the heavy specialists like the Christian kingdoms, the Uruks, and the Romuli Empire are superior. They've got solid archers, but the Mesocalans, Lao Che, and Avalon are better overall. They've got firearms, but Faust and the Privateers have better. The thing that separates the Gaelics is that they have all of this, while the other factions specialize and are lacking in another areas, allowing the Gaelics to be very adaptable and hit another faction where they are weakest.
- Less so in Version 4, where the faction has a lower-tech, more barbaric design focusing on aggressive rushes with large numbers of lighter infantry, and has to rely on mercenary/provincial units for musketry. Dracule or Romuli are the closest to this trope now.
- More Dakka: The Faustian Riech's entire battle stratagem is best summed up by this trope, right down to the point that their bodyguard units are pistoleer cavalry. Other factions can come close (the Ducado and the Privateers in Version 3 are very gun-heavy, for example) and some factions get tremendously nasty rapid-fire weapons like the Monster Ribault. The Privateers give them a run for their money in Version 4, being nearly as shooty.
- The Musketeer: Many gun-equipped units are just as nasty in melee as they are at range. Faustian Line Infantry and Stormtroopers, for example, are adept at both shooting and holding the line, and the latter are intended to assault cities and fortifications. Romuli also get the Praetoriani Arcebusarii, which are the Praetorian Guard, but armed with firearms on top of being fully-armed and armored Praetorians.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The random name generator has some intimidating/downright silly names, for example: Herekles Tiberius or Medusa Hades.
- Our Giants Are Bigger: The Jotnarr in Version 4, a race of frost giants living in the mountains of Norselund. If you see them in a rebel army, chances are you're going to see massive casualties on your side, particularly if there are any Rok Man units in their ranks.
- Our Orcs Are Different: The Uruks are the most blatant example, basically being a Captain Ersatz for The Lord of the Rings Uruk-Hai. The Reptarii also have shades of this trope.
- Pirates: The League of Privateers, a loose alliance of pirates, thieves, brigands, criminals, and outcasts all brought together in a coalition whose primary goal is to conquer, loot, and pillage.
- Public Domain Artifact: A number of specific faction artifacts, such as Excalibur, the Holy Grail, the Book of Morrigan, and so on.
- The Remnant: Several factions' backgrounds involve them defeating corrupt or weak governments and driving them out during or after the Great Torment. For example, the Senate Legions for Romuli, or the Otterbach for the Faustian Reich. Generally, finishing the remnants of these factions is the first step on your path of conquest. A few other vestigial or collapsed kingdoms are present in the setting, whom you can still recruit troops from after taking over, like the kingdom of Rohan in the far north.
- Rock Beats Laser: Or at least, rock beats Renaissance plate armor, cannons, and muskets, if you're taking the Paynal or Warriors of Kukulcan and pitching them against the technologically advanced armies of the Ducado, the Faustian Reich, or the Privateers.
- Science Is Bad: The Inquisition is extremely suspicious of scientific development, and this is why the Faustian Reich is under scrutiny and suspicion by the Grand Inquisitor. Conflict between the two is likely as the campaign progresses.
- Back and forth with the Dracule, as of Version 4. In Version 3 the Dracule were the most outdated of the Chivalric nations, even having a quote from Vladav himself saying that a "We have no need of new technology, we have the Blood Knights!" As of version 4, however, Dracule has nearly as many gun-toting units as the Faustians, and their quote has changed to "We have new technology, and the Blood Knights!"
- Shout Out: Countless. Everything from faction leader names to settlement names to artifacts can include references, ranging from the subtle to the obvious.
- Slave Mooks: Many factions use slave soldiers; the Romuli and Uruks use slave gladiators as auxilliary troops, and the Barka and Vashta use professional Mamluk and Jannissary troops raised from slaves.
- The Undead: In Version 4, the Dominion has access to Necromongers, which are skeletal warriors wielding giant clubs, summoned by the priests of Callisto.
- Vestigial Empire: Romuli once dominated most of the southernmost continent, and the Paynal Empire controlled most of Mesocala. The northernmost continent includes the collapsed kingdom of Rohan (Ysmir in Version 4), which happens to have some of the best mercenary units in the game.