Video Game / Embric of Wulfhammer's Castle
Embric of Wulfhammer's Castle
is a fantasy Role-Playing Game
done with RPG Maker
2003. If the official website is down, it can be downloaded at the mirror
From the game's manual, The Duchess of the fair land of Elstwhere comes by carriage to the Marque of Wulfhammer, presumably to marry its lord, Embric of Wulfhammer. Embric, however, is nowhere to be found. The Duchess, not being the sort to sit around idly, embarks on her own quest to get to know the body of the eccentric populace of Castle Wulfhammer, among them the ladies and dwarves of the Awesome Fellowship, those rescued on the Fellowship's grand adventures, a bevy of mysterious townsfolk, monsters, nobles, demons, and devils, waitresses, clerks, clerics, and more.But there is something strange about this castle and its people. As the mysteries begin to unravel, and the real lives and futures of the people of Wulfhammer come into question, who can rescue those who are so used to doing the rescuing?
Primarily a comedic and heavily Yuri
story (having originally been released to the /u/ board of 4chan), the object of the game is not to fight monsters with a band of heroes to save the world from some cataclysm, but to explore the stories of the people of Castle Wulfhammer. There is almost no traditional combat and the game is packed
with scenes and endings, and lots and lots of characters.
A sequel is in the works entitled "A Marquess of Notoriety" which involves the next generation.
Tropes found in this game include:
- Abusive Parents: He was her uncle, but Greyghast's "training" of The Duchess. Likely sexual abuse, we see him walking to her in a memory when she couldn't move.
- Affably Evil: Carmina seems really nice and friendly for how evil she is, from treating the townsfolk of a Dark Elf city well in a flashback to her relationship with the Duchess.
- All Just a Dream: Every ending except the last ending has the Duchess "waking up" in her room. The Final Ending has you traveling through a developer's room with character descriptions for everyone. Then you "wake up" with the Awesome Fellowship led by "Ember", an Embric/Alice fusion rescuing child-Duchess (who looks different from the memories) from being raped by Greyghast. Then it goes to the main screen.
- The "Alice" Ending also points this direction. If you defeat ZEALOT and choose not to marry Embric or Louni AND you haven't done the Carmina route; you're back at the Duchess's Empty Castle with Alice. The Duchess wonders what she's going to do; but she tells Alice that she loves her and tells her her name. Then Alice tells her that her name isn't really Alice, it's Ember. BRRRRZT; flashes of Embric and the Awesome Fellowship killing Greyghast; and then a brown haired girl is talking to Embric where the Duchess and Alice usually talk after dreams; and they turn back into the Duchess and Alice.
- In the new Deluxe Edition, it is revealed that The Duchess has Precognition. The events of the game are her childhood self envisioning the future; however; these visions are being influenced by her being possessed by a devil who is feeding on her despair.
- Always Check Behind the Chair: Just click on everything. You'll either get something important or funny.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: The Duchess isn't, but Bad King Greyghast the Terrible and Duke Thermin are happy to take up the slack.
- Beauty, Brains and Brawn: Falwithwier, Louni, and the Good Dwarf the girl one, anyway for the Fellowship, Arugula, Duchess, and Alice for "Rugie and her Happy Friends".
- Black Comedy Rape: Downplayed most of the time (in that it's typically not really rape), but one example stands out in that the Duchess can get attacked by demonically possessed, love-crazed zombies and if they catch her, the Duchess wakes up the next morning covered in... mysterious fluids.
- Bodyguard Crush: Alice towards the Duchess.
- Boss Subtitles: Parodied with The COW.
- Broken Bridge: At one point; the Duchess finds a boulder in the path of the Lost Woods. She's absolutely delighted at finding such a cliche and calls Alice over and they make fun of it.
- Can't Hold His Liquor: The Duchess gets drunk really easily.
- Canon Ending: So far according to the demo of A Marquess of Notoriety, it's mostly a combination of Iron Duchess+ with some aspects from the others.
- Cast Full of Gay: The Duchess is bi, most other female characters are bi or lesbian. For the male characters, it's not really known since they make no mentions in regards to their preferences.
- Chainmail Bikini: Elven Chainmail Bikinis are even better.note
- The Chessmaster: Vecnathrax when he does what Louni tells him. The True Duchess in the Natural Twenty Ending is also a schemer.
- Child Prodigy: Grettel is less than 10 years old, but very smart and learns new things easily. Various endings have her in some form of strategist or other advisor role.
- Complacent Gaming Syndrome: Discussed In-Universe in the D&D Ending. Duchess is played by a guy who always plays a Fighter named Embric and wanted to Play Against Type.
- Crapsaccharine World: Sure, it's a lighthearted romp through lesbian sex and fourth-wall-breaking Dungeons & Dragons references. Until you start discovering horribly dark backstories involving exposing children to death, rape, brutal and explicit murder, an Eldritch Abomination or two...
- Cute Bruiser: Alice doesn't have levels in Barbarian for nothing.
- Descriptiveville: The Duchess comes from the land of Elstwhere. Where is Elstwhere, and what is it like? Who cares? It's just somewhere away from the story.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Early in the game, climb the cliffs and look at the castle. The Lich Vecnatrix walks up and makes conversation. If one immediately selects "Shove", the Duchess pushes him off the cliff and gains "disproportionate experience" for "defeating" him. "I have heroic exploits to talk about at parties! How thrilling!" (No, it didn't destroy him.) Other choices result in running away or getting temporarily captured.
- At one point, also fairly early on, Alice punches out Ecanecia, who is an Eldritch Abomination taking the form of a young lady.
- Distressed Damsel: Deconstructed; the Duchess is constantly being kidnapped and imprisoned whenever she leaves the safety of the castle, but she's been kidnapped and imprisoned all her life and has gotten very good at it; the Fellowship doesn't band together to help her and when Louni rescues her, she finds it just as annoying as most gamers do when being forced to rescue the hero's love interest.
- Decoy Damsel and Becoming the Mask: Duchess, in the Black Duchess path.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Avoided like the plague with Falwythwier; she's a Jerk Ass, and she stays that way. The best the player can hope for with her is grudging acceptance.
- Double Entendre: Duchess muses that male lords prefer large water jugs over small ones, which are more convinient and easier to carry.
- Dream Apocalypse: What happens in the Bonus Dungeon.
- The Dulcinea Effect: Lord Embric and the Duchess are to be wed despite never having met. we play as the female party in this arrangement...
- Dungeon Maintenance: Our heroine can get to an empty treasure chest before the government official responsible for refilling them. She's outraged at this lapse in standards.
- Emoticon: All of the guards "speak" in Emoticons, but the Duchess (and just about everyone else) understands what they are saying. It's even parodied when the Duchess finds a guardsman who doesn't speak in Emoticons, calling him an imposter!
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Bad King Greyghast The Terrible has some form of love towards his niece, the Duchess, but it's not nearly enough to prevent him from abusing her.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Subverted. The Duchess is just that, a Duchess, and very few things are improved with the presence of Princess Arugula.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Nobody asks what the Duchess' name is. At the end of her romance path, Louni asks, but Duchess is interrupted— she does tell Carmina. The Good Dwarf is called the Good Dwarf because no one can pronounce his Dwarven name. And nobody realizes there's more than one; each with their own name.
- At one point, a villain challenging the group to a riddle contest and asks them the Duchess' name. None of them can recall it, and they all get captured as a result. This includes a potential love interest and a friend she's had since childhood.
- And Alice's name isn't really Alice...
- Eyes Always Shut: For a very, very, good reason.
- Fantastic Racism: Elves, and Falwythwier Windgrace in particular, are appallingly racist (not that this is unusual), and they're even worse against Dark Elves. Granted, most Dark Elves are Always Chaotic Evil, so at least some general distrust is justified.
- Fisher King: Sovereign Oaks only grow leaves when a good ruler sits on the Throne. They're all dormant...
- Foreshadowing: "Awaken without Saving?" She hasn't been saved yet.
- Embric's portrait is quite similar to Alice's.
- At one point in the game, you can end up kidnapped by Vecnathrax — the Duchess comments that on the way home she felt like she was Embric of Wulfhammer. In the D&D ending, this turns out to be more or less literally true — she's played by the same person as Embric, who decided to play her this time instead of his usual tactic of bringing in an essentially-identical relative of Embric when his latest iteration of Embric died. It's also somewhat applicable to the usual interpretation of the Alice and Final Endings — Embric is simply a product of the Duchess' drug-addled imagination, in which she split the real Ember into two different characters: Embric and Alice.
- The manual establishes that it's not actually certain that the Good Dwarf is male — people assume such because he/she looks like a short bearded man, but no-one in Aeresland actually knows enough about dwarves to tell the difference. It turns out that there are 7 Good Dwarves, one of whom is a female — since no-one knows enough about dwarves, they can't tell them apart, or even tell that the female dwarf is female when she's wearing a beard.
- A man mentions how Alice looks just like a female Embric when you're traveling with her in Everbrook.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: The Duchess gets stripped all the time, but she always has all her equipment, including her dress!
- Fal will still deride the Duchess's combat abilities when they are about the same level. And at most other points in the game, the game will ignore the Duchess' combat abilities. In one ending, though, this is subverted; in the Fleeing ending (which can only be gotten very late in the game), Alice will point out that the two of you are actually probably strong enough to take on the Fellowship by now.
- Gilded Cage: The Duchess's life when Greyghast was still alive.
- Gag Boobs: Countess Knockersdale, and they're big enough to cover a noticable portion of her portrait. Lady Backmore, meanwhile, has a Gag Butt. The former's name is also lampshaded by Fal during a party; she just doesn't want to believe the Duchess that "Knockersdale" really is her name.
- Gainax Ending: Many endings are just weird in some way, and they almost always end with the Duchess waking up from a dream, still dressed in the clothes she wore during the respective ending.
- Game Maker: Made in RPG Maker 2003, and cited by several players as being a prime example of what can be done with the program with time and effort.
- Guide Dang It!: A common reaction from players.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: At one point, Duchess calls some bundles of sticks "fags" (which is what the word orignally meant, and while it can also refer to cigarettes, it is typically meant as a nasty anti-homosexual slur nowadays).
- Harping on About Harpies: Alice was kidnapped by them as a child. They're obsessed with shiny things and not very bright, and had Alice polish mud.
- Hidden Depths: Countess Knockersdale, of all people, saves Cathrine from revealing her seer capabilities and counsels her on using them in one of the final endings.
- Hopeless Boss Fight: Two fights that seem pretty hopeless (and might be if you take them on without a lot of leveling) are actually winnable. First is the evil Lamia, which grants you a Diamond Ring for the Duchess (only outclassed by the Wedding Band from a certain ending) if you win; Fal will save you if you lose. Then there's Xing and company's ambush during the date with Louni.
- Hot for Student: Raine has the hots for the Duchess. The Duchess has to make it clear that Grettel is hands-off!
- I Did What I Had to Do: Lady Falwithwier's excuse for how she imprisons Carmina. Carmina could easily break free and kill them all with her magic if she were physically fit.
- Presumably this is the True Duchess's motives in the Natural Twenty ending.
- I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Alice; she only comments on how she loves the Duchess the most in a No Fourth Wall Developer's Room.
- I Know Madden Kombat: Whenever the Duchess has to actually fight, her combat style involves much of what gets her through aristocratic life. Most of her "weapons" are rings; her "armor" categories include dresses, undergarments, and perfume; her "accessories" are her acquired titles, and her special techniques reek of non-combat.
- I Know Your True Name: The Duchess forces a Devil to fail a Question test ala Monty Python and the Holy Grail by asking her for this; the one thing it will not tell her. The Duchess mentions that telling Carmina her true name would give her power over her; but she tells her anyways.
- She does this again after beating the same devil in the Bonus Dungeon; after presumably a successful Diplomacy check; the devil gives her name in hopes of seducing her. The Duchess uses the True Name to command the devil to initiate the Dream Apocalypse.
- Infinity +1 Sword: The Burst Flame Sword is just lying around in a crate. Ironically, nobody in the party can equip swords. Double Irony: Examining the game code shows that it really does have the strongest stats of all the weapons in the game.
- Insurmountable Waist-High Fence: Given a thourough lampooning in the forest with a small boulder that blocks the path. Duchess even calls out to Waysthi, Goddess of Contrivance upon discovering it. Considering how roundly mocked it is, it's a wonder she and Alice weren't lightning-bolted by her...
- Jerk Ass: Lady Falwythwier, full stop. It's hard to feel bad for her when Carmina leaves her a greasy stain on the pavement in one of the endings.
- King Incognito: Stew, one of the residents of the castle. He gets a character portrait when it's revealed, and ends up hooking up with Arugula.
- Lady Land: The areas the game takes place in do have men in them, but most of them exist as threats to the main character's safety or are laughable, useless idiots; even the man the Duchess has been seeking the entire game turns out to be a woman. It's a Lady Land with Man Hazards.
- Lampshade Hanging: Too many instances to list here. Suffice to say, most of the characters are very aware that they're in a D&D style world. Especially Fal.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Uttered by the Anti-Paladins regarding one of them to Louni. She blows it off. There's a fair bit to support it, in any case: they definitely share a nationality, a language, and a natural hair color. Louni swears she doesn't remember even having a sister, though that doesn't stop her from antagonizing Xing in Everbrook while Hiding Behind the Language Barrier. For her part, Xing asserts that they are sisters even when there is no point in lying.
- Man Behind the Man: Vecnathrax is the oft-spoken of Arch-Enemy of the Awesome Fellowship; a very old Lich. It turns out, he's actually quite senile. The person who is really behind his schemes is Louni; who is finding all of his old plans back when he was competent and firing them up and seeing how the Awesome Fellowship handles it. For the Artistic Value.
- Male Gaze: Unsurprising in a game about lesbians written by a guy, it's all over the place, but especially notable for Fal and Carmina. Fal's bathing sprite is drawn with an exaggerated rear end, and Carmina uses illusion magic to make it look like she has an ideal body when she would otherwise be weak and emaciated, but it doesn't occur to her illusion up any clothes.
- Mind Screw: The Alice ending and the Final Ending. Was it Time Travel? Alternate Universe? Some kind of prophetic call for help into the future?
- Mind Screw Driver: Invoked and Inverted, the new "Final Ex" ending explains it more. And the Natural Twenty ending gives more questions.
- Mind Rape: Carmina rapes the Duchess in a dream.
- Ms. Fanservice: The Duchess, who can and will end up in her undergarments at the drop of a hat (or a drop down a well). It's also a game mechanic; at least one story path requires her to be in her underwear before it will progress. Her fanservice is especially apparent when she dons her evil dress.
- Also Carmina, who usually appears naked and sumptuous— in actuality she's emaciated and sick from being kept imprisoned and malnourished, but she uses illusions to satisfy her vanity.
- Money for Nothing: Played with. For the Duchess, funds are tricky to come by. For the Awesome Fellowship; it's nothing; and Falwithwier accidentally over-donates a church so much (enough to buy a county or collapse an economy according to the Duchess) they become the Church Militant.
- Multiple Endings: Getting one ending does not end the game, you start over again right before choosing the final choice that ends the game. This often opens up other options.
- The Final Ending lacks this option, however; once it's over, you end up back at the main menu.
- Ninja Maid: Alice is a barbarian maid, rather. Ecinacea is also not to be underestimated, but for completely different reasons.
- Noble Demon: The leader of the anti-paladins is this taken to almost ridiculous extremes, especially compared to the utterly amoral Awesome Fellowship.
- "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: The Duchess is only temporarily miffed at Carmina; she even wrote the entire thing in her dream diary for Alice to... enjoy.
- Odd Job Gods: Everything has a deity associated with it. One of the more plot-relevant ones is the Goddess of "strawberries, chocolate and, secretly, illicit sex".
- Only Mostly Dead: The plot goes into quite detail what it's like in a world where anyone can get resurrected for a price. Only one person really dies permanently not including the endings; mostly due to him being a Butt-Monkey and getting eaten by a spider. It's implied even then that if anyone cared; they could do a full Resurrection. As it is, you have the option of shelling out money to reincarnate him as a dog.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Deconstructed, the dwarves are so identical that the Awesome Fellowship did not realize that their dwarf was eventually replaced by seven different dwarves playing the original one, even when they all have different hair colours and one of them isn't even a guy.
- Pamphlet Shelf: Lampshaded when the Duchess picks up the "Manual of Brevity" in one of the libraries — fittingly, it has only one page.
- Permanently Missable Content: Annoyingly, some scenarios are no longer available after a certain point.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Word of God is that Carmina is really, really unrepentantly evil. She's also more than intelligent enough to know it's not in her best interest to push it; and she does love the Duchess as evidenced in one ending where she actually cries when the Duchess dies of old age.
- Punny Name: Lady Backmore and Countess Knockersdale are named for their... assets and huge tracts of land, respectively.
- Really Gets Around: The Duchess is quite open-minded. Very, very open-minded.
- Rescue Romance: A few of the plotlines result in this.
- RPGs Equal Combat: Almost completely averted. Physical combat opportunities aren't available for much of the game and are rather incidental, so much of the Duchess's EXP gain actually comes from her attempts to interact with and integrate into the Marque of Wulfhammer and the Awesome Fellowship (and perhaps also shoving a lich off a cliff once). What few battles there are are introduced by the message, "Negotiations have failed!" In this respect, it's rather more like a tabletop RPG than a videogame RPG - which makes sense when you consider how familiar the game's creator appears to be with the latter.
- Royally Screwed Up: The Duchess is ever quick to correct people when they call her a princess. She states:
"Seventh-In-Line for the Throne is great. Close enough for priveliges, but too far away for casual assassinations."
- Schrödinger's Gun: Many of the endings imply or state contradictory elements about the overall setting. A character lampshades this in her endings; stating that she doesn't really take anything to be real unless she encounters it stated three times in different instances. Incidentally, there are at least 3 endings with her as a romance possibility. There are also at least 3 Carmina endings...
- Word of God is even the Betrayal ending where the Duchess turns out to be a spy for the Anti-Paladins is possible; because nothing to that point contradicts it.
- Shout-Out: Has its own page here.
- Smarter Than You Look: The nameless, faceless people on the castle grounds only speak short Welcome to Corneria lines because they're scared of the Duchess. When she earns their trust, they speak long Welcome to Corneria lines. One of them even works in the fields so he has lots of time to think deep thoughts.
- Sorcerous Overlord: Defied. The Duchess states at several points that a noble who learns magic fotefits their title immediately.
- Spock Speak: The Duchess, with the excuse that she was conditioned that way in childhood.
Duchess: Who is a delightful little nereid? That is correct! It is you!
- Spoiled Sweet: Princess Arugula. She may not be pretty, and she may be dumber than a box of remedial hammers, but The Duchess is her best friend and she'll face down an angry mob to protect her.
- The Duchess herself his a more low-key version (not that a childhood in Greyghast's castle is anyone's idea of being spoiled). She may not know how to "make chore upon a cow", but she's certainly willing to learn.
- Stock Shout-Outs: The Tabletop RPG tradition of referencing Monty Python is continued here. However, it's the Ministry of Silly Walks sketch that gets referenced instead of Holy Grail as usual.
- Stripperific: Duchess tends to lose her clothes a lot and end up in her underwear— which includes panties, a brassiere, gauntlets and footwear, though it's hard to tell whether they're socks or boots or stockings because of graphic limitations.
- Take That!: The library contains a copy of both Call of Cthulhu D20 and The Collected Works of RA Salvatore. Falwythwier is dismissive of the latter and outright hostile to the former.
- Talking Is a Free Action: Mentioned word for word.
- The Fog of Ages: Vecnathrax is rather senile, which makes sense as he's a thousand years old skeleton.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Most of the pairings that The Duchess can end up in.
- Underrated and Overleveled: Possibly the only game where this happens to the main character. The Duchess gains experience and levels up over the course of the game's events, almost none of which are remotely related to fighting. By the time she actually ends up in combat, she's likely to be capable of fighting on the level of the Awesome Fellowship, who've presumably spent a long time accruing much more relevant experience.
- The Unfought: Vecnathrax. He's not really a threat by himself, though. Duke Thermin. The Grey Elves. All possible Sequel Hook.
- Also Tsograleeg/Ecinacea. She may never be fought, though, since she promises not to obliterate any part of the universe The Duchess will miss.
- Verbal Tic: Wilhelm. Mmhm, quite. It eventually rubs off on The Duchess, which he finds rather endearing.
- The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The dialogue just before you enter a certain tomb certainly gives the player this vibe. Final it is, dungeon it is not.
- Villains Act, Heroes React: Inverted. ZEALOT is an Evil Self-Defense Force.
- Villain Shoes: Well, Anti-Hero Shoes in her case; but when The Duchess and Fal are at Duke Thermin's party, we get to see how Fal perceives social events with humans. It's not flattering for either party, but it is hilarious.
- Visions of Another Self: Arguably the entire cast, though it is most prominent with Alice/Ember.
- Welcome to Corneria: A limitation of the system. The dialogue's longer and funnier than most games, except when the Duchess needs to HangALampshade on it.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Carmina is sealed inside a magic prison cell, kept naked, chained up, and starved to prevent her escape, and any of the Fellowship could just kill her whenever they felt like it. Considering how much EXP she's probably worth, one wonders why the Awesome Fellowship didn't collect on it. However, it is eventually stated that while Embric wanted to spare her, Fal naturally wanted to kill her, so the imprisonment was a forced compromise.
- Yuri Genre: The Duchess is supposed to marry a guy (Embric), but most of her adventures inside the bedroom and out involve other women.