Might and Magic is a Science Fantasy cycle of first person party-based PC RPGs, later spawning some spinoffs such as the Heroes of Might and MagicTurn-Based Strategy games.Jon Van Caneghem created the first game in 1987, and it became the first series to seriously compete with the Wizardry and Ultima franchises amongst role-players. The first five games were introduced under his New World Computing company, before they were bought out by 3DO and Executive Meddling began.The games' definitive trait has always been Science Fiction elements beneath the surface of an otherwise Standard Fantasy Setting gamenote Up until X, which, due to taking place in the standard fantasy setting of Ubisoft's Heroes, is by the developers' statements prohibited from veering from the canon by having science fiction elements.. Usually, the climax reveals that ancient Precursors are responsible for lots of what is going on in the world, and the Big Bad is a robot or an alien. Indeed, as it overlaps with HOMM universe, it turns out that Devils from HOMM3 are actually aliens. How Unscientific!.The first game of the series had a rather non-linear plot for its time (though it lacked most elements of the modern Wide Open Sandbox). Its maps were flat areas made of discrete tiles, and all movement happened in the four cardinal directions, one ten-foot "step" at a time. The engine used sprites to simulate a 3D view, and combat was turn based.In the first two games, the action was set on flat, square worlds orbiting in space. The third moved the action to a "round" (actually toroidal) planet. M&M 4 and 5 were set on XEEN, another flat platform, with a twist: the world of M&M 5 was Darkside of XEEN, literally the flip side of the world from number four. All these games have the player pitted against Sheltem, a Planetary Guardian constructed by the Ancients, who went rogue and decided to protect his homeworld by blowing up all other worlds. Sheltem is finally defeated in M&M 5, bringing an end to the whole plot arc.M&M 6 started a new story arc in the series. It switched to a different kind of graphics: instead of flat tiles it became a true 3D world, with 2D sprites for characters and monsters, and the option of real-time combat. (Think Doom, but with large outdoor areas.) The setting moved to the world Enroth, where HOMM2 had taken place, joining the continuity more tightly with that of Heroes of Might and Magic.The plot of this one concerned an invasion of the world by Devils. Said Devils turn out to be alien enemies of the Ancients, and defeating them involved unearthing some of the Ancients' Lost Technology. Along the way this plot traded points back and forth with the HOMM games. For instance, Archibald Ironfist, evil mage defeated in canonical ending to HOMM2, was freed in Might and Magic 6, returned in Might And Magic 7 and helped free a character who then showed up in an addon to HOMM3.Might and Magic 7 was effectively more of the same and was tied very closely to Heroes III and Might and Magic II. So did Might and Magic 8. But you could have dragons in the party in 8, so this makes it cool.Might and Magic IXalmost happened, but what we got instead was such that many fans wish they hadn't even bothered. The same goes for a number of failed spinoffs, such as the action-RPG Crusaders, the King's Bounty remake Quest for the Dragon Bone Staff, and the Counter-StrikecloneLegends.Heroes of Might and Magic V represented a complete reboot of the series after Ubisoft bought the rights from the bankrupt 3DO, with a new developer (Nival Interactive), and taking place in a new, purely fantasy-based universe with no ties to previous games. Dark Messiah of Might and Magic is a first-person hack & slash action game that takes place in the same world as HOMM5.Heroes of Might and Magic V was eventually followed by Gaiden GameClash Of Heroes and Might & Magic Heroes VI, but were no further RPG Might and Magic games in the new continuity in the style of Might and Magic I-IX...at least, until mid-March 2013, when Might and Magic X: Legacy was officially announced. The game was officially released in January 2014 with mixed-to-positive reviews.Another Gaiden Game, Might And Magic Duel Of Champions was released in 2012. An Allegedly FreeTrading Card Game that uses the mythos and factions.
This video game series contains examples of the following:
Ascended Extra: In the opening sequence of VI, the heroes are rescued from Sweet Water by a wizard named Falagar; he plays no part in the story from that point (although, you can visit him in his cottage near New Sorpigal if you like) and he is not in any other game untilX, when he reappears somehow, and plays a vital role in the plot.
Any other game here means 'in the Might and Magic series itself'. Falagar originated from Heroes of Might and Magic, as one of a number of non-plot-mentioned heroes (as a a Warlock), so his appearance in VI is also this.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Not just Sheltem, he's just the worst example. If you see a robot or computer in this game, rest assured it's an evil thing that's going to try to kill you. Unless its name is Corak. Or Meliannote The apparent Guardian of Enroth. He is a stationary computer, and damaged when we meet him, so he is less active on the good front than Corak. Escaton plays around with it: he does exactly what his creators want him to do, and it's not a case of Gone Horribly Right — but due to the details of what that thing he is to do is, that makes your world collateral damage, and he can't go against that part of his programming no matter how much he wants to. A number of other, less sapient, robots met across the games are simply doing what they are meant to do — guarding places against persons without the proper security clearances (which you do not have, thus them trying to kill you).
Absurdly Spacious Sewer: There's one in just about every game that doubles as a dungeon. How important it is to the main storyline depends on the game.
Archibald in Might and Magic VII. It probably helps that he does something approximating a Heel-Face Turn: personally helping free his brother from the Kreegans and bringing him back to his wife, despite the fact that Archibald knows full well that Catherine Ironfist wants him deadnote He was probably - and correctly - gambling on Roland interceding in his behalf... but, of course, if he hadn't brought Roland back himself he wouldn't have been in a position to be executed by Catherine in the first place, and that the last interaction the two brothers had was Roland sentencing Archibald to be transformed to stone for some future generation to take mercy on. He ends up promising to stay peaceably on his little island off the coast of Avlee, and apparently kept that promise, as that is the last we heard of him.
The Warlocks of Nighon are pretty friendly too, even to those who choose the Light path. Their leader even apologizes for not being able to train you if you ask for a Warlock promotion while on the Path of Light (other Dark promoters tend to insult you instead). Assuming they're truly evil at all, despite being creepy; when you travel from Stone City to Nighon through Thunderfist Mountain, you encounter a large battle between a horde of Gogs and the dwarves of Stone City and the Warlocks, where the dwarves are Warlocks are clearly allies. (They only attack the Gogs, not each other and not you, unless you attack them.)
All There in the Manual: Before the Final Battle in VI, you are told that you need a spell called Ritual of the Void before you storm the Hive (if you don't, destroying it will destroy the world in the process, resulting in the bad ending). If you talk to Nicolai, he says that his uncle - as in, Archibald - knows that spell, but releasing him from the curse that turned him to stone requires something called the Third Eye, and he doesn't know where it is. Fortunately, Roland's letter in the preface to the instruction manual mentions it's "in the well". (There are actually four wells around Castle Ironfist, but checking them all shouldn't take longer than five minutes. Note that the Third Eye isn't actually there until you ask Nicolai obout it.)
You can do this in an early part of VII. Outside of Harmondale, there's an open-air goblin outpost with some magical cannons that shoot powerful fireballs. If you manage to get onto it (the goblins sometime fry themselves by accident by aiming at targets that are too close) about two dozen more goblins surround the place, at which point you can commandeer the cannons and use them yourself. (It's not only an easy way to get rid of them, it's downright fun. So long as you don't aim at a target that's too close, like ones on the fortress did who were already dead when you got there did...)
If one looks into the chests there, one can find a letter that says the goblins having the outpost is itself a result of this — apparently, it was originally built by Harmondalians, but was overrun by goblins some time ago.
This might happen to your castle in the same game, depending on your actions. In the beginning, a member of the Mercenary Guild offers to give you a Wand of Fireballs for free in exchange for a "favor to do later". If you accept this offer (and the Wand does make the scavenger hunt easier) then the Guild calls you after you choose a Path and tells you that the favor is to steal a tapestry from whoever you've allied yourself with. If you refuse to do this, Harmondale - and your castle - is invaded by goblins and swordsmen in two weeks. (Actually, it's better to refuse and let the attack come, because if you do steal from your allies, it will take two years game time or a jail sentence for them to forgive you, and there's almost no reward from the Guild; on the other hand, fighting off the attack earns you gold and experience.)
The Alliance: The mid-game portion of VIII is helping to arrange this trope, as part of an attempt to avert the destruction of the world. Three of the members are set (the Dark Elves, the Minotaurs, the Ironfists of Enroth), two are choosen by you (the Dragons or the Dragon Hunters, the Clerics or the Necromancers). It works, incidentally, the destruction of the world occurs for an entirely different reason than the threat in VIII, although it is later revealed that the whole ordeal of the game has removed an energetic warding called "The Dome" from the planet, which made the later world-destroying accident possible to occur.
Arbitrary Headcount Limit: A maximum of six main characters in the original DOS-era games (I to V), exactly four main characters in VI, VII and IX, a maximum of five in VIII. Several of these offer two additional slots for hirelings; these are for most purposes full-blown characters in III, but serve other purposes in the games from VI on.
VI, VII and IX all provide reasons for why those four characters stick together: in VI and IX, they are childhood friends that grow up in the same village, while in VII the driving force of the plot for a good chunk of the game is a shared noble title the four got in the prologue. VI and VII fail to explain why you can only hire two Hirelings, however.
In X you are also only allowed two hirelings, but an added limitation makes it more difficult. With some quests, the Quest Giver has to tag along with you, taking up space as a hireling — quest-related characters could tag along in VI and VII as well, but did not count against the hireling limited. (All of the quest NPCs, thankfully, provide some kind of benefit.)
VI and VII established Archibald Ironfist as this by implication — the first game had him be one of the world's greatest experts in magical rituals, while the second made him an expert in necromancy (despite not being a Necromancer according to Heroes II — he was a Warlock, the only class that could randomly learn Necromancy), and the manual reveals that he had defeated the former leader of the Necromancers' Guild to become the leader of the Necromancers himself.
Gavin Magnus is the Light equivalent to Archibald in VII, and Thomas Grey (who trains your Wizard characters to become Archmagi themselves) probably qualifies as well.
The Atoner: In VII, one of the warlocks you meet on Warlocks of Nighon that you talk to admits that they and the Kreegan were allies during the evens of HoMMIII, something they deeply regret, not just because they realized what the Kreegan's true goal was, but because the Kreegan army abandoned them and left them to die after their plan failed causing their numbers to be decimated. (Quite possibly, this is why they are more approachable than the other "dark" folks in the game.)
A Winner Is You: II pointlessly gives you 2 million experience for finishing the game. Thankfully, most of the others had satisfying conclusions.
IV plays with this trope; completing the main quest rewards you with "One Million Experience!!" It veers a couple different ways thanks to the sequel. First, it's actual useful XP for your characters to bring into the sequel, and second... well, if you have both IV and V you can travel between the worlds at will, and there are low level quests in V's starter town that give more XP than that.
In the opening sequence of VII, the story is told by the point to both Archibald - by his Mooks - and to Gavin Magnus by the elves who fought Archibald's mooks. Archibald's men are clearly lying about their version (they claim they bravely slaughtered the elven soldiers who ran in fear, when it's obvious that the opposite is true) but Archibald obviously doesn't believe them anyway.
Adira (a Justicar angel) in X (with the The Falcon and the Unicorn DLC) strictly speaking can't lie, but falls here by just how bad she is at using Exact Words and metaphorical truths, not only presenting an obvious evasion when asked a question by the Empress, but having to struggle to produce even that. This is in stark contrast with her angel colleagues in Heroes VI, who smoothly manipulated everyone using those two methods, and almost got away with it. The Narrator says in the beginning that Uriel was notorious for doing this too, saying "Angels cannot lie, but no-one every said they always have to tell the complete truth.)
Badass in Distress: King Roland in both VI and VII. Shortly after the Night of Falling Stars, he's captured by the Kreegans, and while the Player Characters never find him in that game, they find journal entries written by him that give them clues to the Kreegans' plans; the game ends with his fate left ambiguous. In VII, the heroes are able to rescue him.
Balance Between Good and Evil: The third game mildly involved this. The plot involved the Big Bad disrupting the balance between Good and Evil. However, the alignment of your party members was not really all that relevant. At one point you have to choose between an evil king, good king, and neutral king, and the choice turns all your party members into that alignment. This, again, has no effect on gameplay.
Bag of Spilling: the end of the first game is the titular Gate To Another World that brings you to the second (and you can import your save in the second game). But, doing so resets your level to 7 and wipes all your equipment.
Beef Gate: This is pretty much a staple in most games of the franchise. You can go wherever you want, at the beginning (though forests and mountains act as Broken Bridges until you learn the fairly easy skill to get them), though in some cases you need an access key to enter specific dungeons or towns. However, if you go off the beaten path (the main roads in II, the Western Continent in III, into the dungeons in IV or anywhere in V) too early in the game, you will find yourself in the middle of monsters you can't handle. For extra irony, The Very Definitely Final Dungeon in V is accessible right from the start of the game. You don't need anything special to enter except a death wish.
This policy is mostly eliminated in X where the game and story are more linear, but there is one rather sadistic example early on. The Cursed Ruins are accessible to your party very early, but if you try to go there, you'll likely get slaughtered by the two specters at the front entrance. Not only does nothing in the game discourage you from doing this, it actually tempts you; there's a merchant nearby that sells scrolls for Burning Determination and Water Flows Freely, which, in theory, could protect you from their paralyzing attacks. (Save your gold until you're strong enough to survive the actual damage they do.)
Big Bad: Sheltem in games I, II, and V, Xeen in IV, and the Kreegan in games VI to VII as well as Heroes of Might & Magic III. The third game doesn't really have a big bad; while the villain is still nominally Sheltem, he doesn't really make an appearance at any point other than the opening movie.
The Kreegan are borderline in VII: we are told they are a threat, and the chronologically next game, Armageddon's Blade, backs that up, but in the game itself they don't actually do much of anything. Kastore and his faction of Terrans, on the other hand, take an active hand in ordering minions to do Bad Deeds, especially if the Lords of Harmondale are their minions.
In X, it's Erebos the Master of Assassins, the greatest warrior of the Faceless, mentioned only briefly in the background story.
The expansion, The Falcon And the Unicorn, has Duke Owen, an ambitious noble who seeks to use the chaos Erebos caused in the main campaign to make a bid for the Imperial throne. Far more subtle than Erebos, his long-term Evil Plan is to woo Empress Falcon, marry her, become her royal consort, and once an heir is born, arrange for an "accident" to befall her. However, he has to get rid of "complications" first, like the ones who got rid of Erebos... This is actually a back-up plan. The original plan was to take advantage of the situation in the Agyn Peninsula to discredit the Empress politically ( Duke Owen is the leader of the nobles opposing the Empress' reform plans, which is how he intends to make her marry him — by framing it as a reconciliation move), with some minor help to one of the bandit groups in the Peninsula to help keep the situation unstable, but then a certain group went and managed to get the situation resolved, and the Empress turned out to have arranged it...
King Roland Ironfist in VI and VII (sort of; he's missing in action and the ambiguous nature of his fate only inspires the heroes to Save The World (if that is their goal in VII). He's a playable character in the Heroes series.
Empress Gwendolyn Falcon in X is likely the straightest example of this Trope in the franchise, as she is directly sponsoring and supporting the heroes and they don't even know it until late in the game.
Bigger Bad: Sheltem in IV; he is Lord Xeen's boss, but doesn't play an active role in the game's events: he's on the Darkside at the time.
Also in V, if you make too many puzzle mistakes in the Temple Of Bark, Barkman will be released to kill you. He has nearly as many hit points as the MegaDragon— though he turns out to be much easier at high level (or at a lower level if you know the trick), because he lacks that instant-death attack or any ranged attack at all; this can be taken advantage of.
VI has an area called the Temple of Snakes, which contains some medium-level enemies and a lone Gold Dragon. But if you know about the secret panel or are unlucky enough to accidentally hit it, you find a small alcove with a few treasure chests and a fat peasant named Q. He has approximately 8 times the HP of the next toughest monster in the game, and continuously casts Finger of Death against you, eradicating a character when it hits. (If you defeat him, there's a treasure in this room that's worth the effort: the Horn of Ros. The strategy guide described it as "A horn that doesn't seem to work". Oh,it works all right. It shows you the numerical HP remaining when you view an enemy's health bar, which is very useful. (Buff up beforehand, and hope he doesn't hit your cleric with it. Besides his Finger of Death, which has a low hit rate, he doesn't do anything noteworthy. He just has a crapton of HP, so it will take some time to get him down. But he is not remotely difficult, especially when compared to the MegaDragon of MM V.)
Theoretically, the MegaDragon from MM 2 counts if you choose to fight him yourself.
The Megadragon makes a third appearance in VII, where he is once again easy to miss and completely optional. He's a lot weaker than he is in previous games, but still exceedingly tough - he's basically a red dragon with extra attack power and a chance to eradicate anyone who he hits.
There's something like this very early in VII. When you go to the Temple on Emerald Isle at the start of the game (the only place to get the Floor Tile, needed for the Scavenger Hunt), there's a guy named Sal Sharktooth and another guard. At first, both seem friendly, like the other guards. However, if you take the Fancy Hat in the next room (another item you need for the Scavenger Hunt), and then talk to Sal, he tells you to give him the Hat; if you refuse, he and the other guard attack you. Sal is tough given your likely level, and you can avoid the fight simply by giving him the Hat (there's another way to get one) or just not talking to him at all. But if you fight him and win, he's worth a lot of XP.
Also in VII, if you find and access the Strange Temple, you fight a Blaster Guy "C", who is much like Tolberti or Robert the Wise, who you fought before.
The Fortress of Crows could probably count, seeing as it was created using fan feedback and polls, but the player doesn't need to do anything special to enter it.
The Dream Shard dungeon is the second one, only available to players who purchased the Early Access beta version.
The Supreme Temple of Meow is available with the Deluxe Edition, and is unlocked when you complete Act IV.
Finally, there is Limbo, the Joke Level of the game, also available after completing Act IV. (See below.)
Boss In Mooks Clothing: Any time a Gold Dragon appears in one of the later games, it qualifies. These things are tough, and they'd likely qualify as actual Bosses if not for the fact that they weren't unique.
In X, you can access two "Dangerous Caves" very early in the game; most Dangerous Caves in the game have actual Bosses, but one of the two you can access early (the one which has a convenient warning outside telling you that there's a grumpy cyclops inside) just has a very powerful monster that might just count as an Elite Mook. Nonetheless, it really best not to go in and fight it until you're Level 17 or so.
Bow and Sword, in Accord: Just one possible combination. Everyone can learn to use the bow in addition to their primary weapon (with other weapons being very class specific, the primary weapon is often something other than a sword).
In X, not every class can learn the bow, but it seems that at least they can all learn the crossbow.
Bragging Rights Reward: There's something like this in VI. The second-to-last mission requires you to go to the Control Center to get the Blasters and the even stronger Blaster Rifles to use to destroy the Hive in the Final Battle. There are four Blaster Rifles in the complex but getting the fourth one is incredibly hard. The strongest monsters in this dungeon are Terminator Units, and they not only have over a thousand hp, high defense, and powerful attacks, their attacks have a change of Eradicating your character if they hit. Usually, these things are found singly, or occasionally in pairs, but in the room you have to enter to get the fourth Blaster Rifle, there's a dozen, along with a lot of other robots. Trying to get past them to get the fourth one is probably a bad idea, and you really don't have to (you can probably destroy the Hive with three Rifles and one normal Blaster) but if you actually manage to do it, there's a scroll with the fourth Blaster Rifle that gives each member of your party the title of "Super Goober". This even shows up with your list of Awards and completed tasks. This dubious title doesn't bestow any benefit or cost you anything, but it does signify that you won what was likely the hardest battle in the game.
Broken Bridge: X uses this feature, though in the first example it gives a logical reason why the quest solves it: you can't leave Sporpigal because, as the guard tells you, an investigation is underway over the disappearance of townsfolk. Your first quest is to solve that problem. Once you succeed, he gets out of your way. Why the bridge to Seahaven from Portmeyron isn't cleared for debris until you investigate the elven presence in the Elemental Forge is another matter.
Call Back: X is full of them to older games (not just in the Might & Magic series itself, it also calls back to older Heroes games). Allowing for plot importance to be to side-quests, it even calls back to the mid-90s novelsand in the process heavily implies that Ashan actually is in the old universe after all.
Came Back Wrong: a word of advice: asking a necromancer (from the "evil" temples in VII) to revive your dead teammates is a bad idea.
Canon Discontinuity: In MMVII, the devils are long armed spiky alien things. In HoMM3, which takes place at the same time, the devils are... pretty much your standard red skinned black robed horned humanoid devils. There is no explanation even attempted for this.
At least, not in VII or Heroes III. VI (which takes place at the same time as Heroes 3, slightly earlier than VII) implies 'caste system' is the answer for some discrepancies (it also features — prominently in the intro movie — devils that are long-armed spiky alien things with horns and red skin).
In X Erebos is this in spades. Not only is he called "the Master of Assassins", he loves that title, telling you how much he just loved murdering Michael and corrupting Uriel right before the Final Battle starts.
In VII, William Setag's title literally is Villain, and if you join the Path of Dark he'll train your characters to be Villains too (in exchange for helping him kidnap the fairest lady in Erathia, just for the sake of it). Unlike him, however, there's no need for you to blatantly act like one.
Chekhov's Gunman: Xenofex, the Kreegan king, is like this. In VI, he only appears briefly, in the cinematic opening scene, and you do not encounter him in the game at all. Also, the PCs start the game with a letter from him that they have to give to a guy at the nearby inn for some strange reason. (The Final Boss is the Hive Queen, another powerful Kreegan.) Xenofex doesn't appear in-game until VII, when the heroes do actually fight him when they rescue Roland from the Kreegan. (Unfortunately, the Kreegan aren't as vital to the plot this time around.)
The Chessmaster: In X, Erebos is the Man Behind the Man, manipulating both Markus and Montbard in his genocidal plan of revenge, and even the Player Characters out of his demented desire for a Worthy Opponent. His only flaw is that Empress Falcon is a far-more benign Chessmaster, manipulating the heroes too in order to counter his moves, eventually making a brilliant checkmate.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: You often find barrels of colored liquid in these games, and drinking the stuff always does something. It's a good idea to take note of the color before you have a character drink it, and then take note of what it does. It will come in useful when you find more of these barrels. (You don't want a Knight to drink the stuff that increases Intelligence; that's better for the Wizard.) And by the way, leave black liquid alone.
Contractual Immortality: You have this in a few later games. If your entire party is killed, you're brought back to life at the starting point of the game. There is a price, however. You lose all your gold, and you have no Spell Points, and only one Hit Point per party member. (This is why the banks were introduced; depositing your money kept it safe from this. Of course, Save Scumming is a much easier option.)
They appear to get rid of this feature in X however, where you have to reload from the last place you saved if it happens.
Corrupt Church: In the first expansion to X, The Falcon and the Lion, it is revealed that much of the Holy Inquisition is in Duke Owen's pocket, including at least one Angel.
Dark Is Evil and Light is Good: In VII, good characters can learn light magic and evil characters can learn dark magic. (Anyone can cast both types of spells from scrolls, however.)
Dark Is Not Evil and Light Is Not Good: Some of the spellcaster hirelings in Might and Magic VI talk about Light and Dark magic, and they point out that despite the stereotype that light is good and dark is evil, magic is only as good or evil as the use to which it is put. Also, see Grey and Grey Morality below.
Day Old Legend: Several of the games feature ores of various quality which can be found and brought to craftsmen to make equipment. It's possible to craft items in this way that are not only allegedly ancient, but even unique and legendary. The sixth game also contains the "antique" modifier which multiplies an item's value by ten, and it's possible to enchant your own items into being antiques.
Deader than Dead: It is possible to not only be killed in battle, but to have your body completely destroyed (eradicated). Getting this problem taken care of is a bit more difficult, to say the least.
Actually, this Trope doesn't truly fit. If a character is Eradicated, his body is destroyed, but not his soul. It is hard to reverse the process yourself, but most temples can do it easily. (It's expensive, but it isn't hard. In fact, restoring a character that has been turned into a zombie - a condition you cannot reverse yourself that can happen in some games - is even more expensive.)
Death by Irony: When you finally confront Erebos in X, he gloats about his victory over Michael, calling the Celestial "pathetic", and saying that the reason he helped you is because he wanted a Worthy Opponent. The irony is, to defeat him you have to read the discarded notes from the commanders of Michael's army, gather the pieces of the Solar Sigil and use them to activate the ancient weapon that Michael intended to use against Erebos. In a way, Michael does help vanquish him, at least in spirit.
It probably helps that your involvement wasn't that central - the tensions between Kastore and Archibald was there before you showed up - especially not in the Light path, and that if one did the Dark path, one also helped arrange Archibald's back-up plan in case he was deposed. Unwittingly.
Devil in Plain Sight: In X, The first NPC you meet is a seedy guy named Dunstan; clearly he's a criminal (he even admits it) but he seems generous enough, and you really wouldn't expect him, of all people, to be the Big Bad, Erebos the Master of Assassins, which he is. (Well, truthfully, the real Dunstan and his fellow Raiders except one were killed at the hands of Erebos' minions while exploring the Tomb of a Thousand Terrors years ago; Erebos was able to assume his appearance and personality as a result.
Disc One Nuke: An exploit from World of Xeen: start game, go to the Darkside right out the gate, make a new party. They'll start at Level 5. Take this party back to the Cloudside and start emptying the world into your loot sack.
If you know where to look you can acquire a low level (but nontheless extremely powerful) Dragon and a level 50 Dark Elf very early in Might and Magic VIII. The Dragon especially becomes significantly more powerful then his peers over time, because you can distribute his skill points as you see fit.
Doomed Hometown: In VI, Sweet Water, the hometown of the Player Character is destroyed during the Night of Falling Stars when the Kreegan invade and your characters are forced to flee with the aid of the warlock Falagar during the intro. Much later, at the climax of the game, it turns out the Kreegan's main Hive has been built outside the ruins of Sweet Water.
The Dragon: Lord Xeen in IV, who serves Sheltem of V. Xeen himself also has a Dragon (both literally and figuratively) in the form of his pet.
Dunstan at first seems to be this to Erebos in the main campaign for X(but in truth, he Dunstan is Erebos in disguise, having killed the real one years earlier), while Adira is this to Duke Owen in The Falcon and the Lion.
Dug Too Deep: A Side Quest you can take in VII features an odd twist to this Trope. The dwarves of Stone City have an infestation of troglodytes on the lower level, but not because they Dug Too Deep, but because a bunch on evil wizards called the Nighon Warlocks did, and left them to deal with it. (The Quest Giver, naturally, offers you a reward if you get rid of them.)
Played straight, however, with the Red Dwarf Mines in the same game. The dwarves broke into a lair of medusas who petrified most of them, and as part of the main quest you have to rescue the dwarves. (The first Archer promotion quest also involves shutting down the only elevator to the lower levels to rectify the dwarves' mistake.)
Dude, Where's My Respect?: Played pretty much straight in all of the games. Particularly bad in VII, as your party actually rules the town where your own subjects treat you like dirt. The latter is somewhat justified by the town's complete lack of faith in your ability to rule being a central plot point, but their attitude doesn't improve as much as one might expect after you have clearly asserted your authority. Their dialogue does change after you've cleared out and renovated Castle Harmondale, but you can't put the last of their doubts to rest until you choose a new arbiter and end the war.
The problem is, in most games, you have a Reputation Score people are mean to you if it's low, and it's much harder to raise it than it is to lower it. (The bad things you do stick out in people's minds longer than the good things, which makes sense, sort of.) One example: In VI, one of the first available Side Quests you have is from the first NPC you meet in the game, who asks you to get a candelabra from the abandoned temple outside of town. It's not required, but you probably should, because it's an easy job, and a good way to get some fast gold and experience, which you kind of need early in the game. Unfortunately, seeing as the candelabra in question belonged to some evil cult, it lowers your Reputation Score, and the townsfolk aren't going to like you right off the bat.
Even worse, having a bad Reputation Score can sometimes require you to do things that make it even worse. Some important or even mandatory quests require you to find and recruit NPCs, and if you have a bad reputation, they won't listen to you when you talk to them. Threatening them usually works, but that lowers your Reputation Score even more. (You're going to end up as Heroes With Bad Publicity before winning these games, most likely.)
In X, the heroes likely wouldn't expect much respect, being Raiders, a type of adventurer with a shady reputation that few people trust. However, much of the first part of the game is spent earning that trust, and you do so rather quickly.
Due to the Dead: Grave robbing is bad in this franchise. Looking a sarcophagus or selling human bones and other remains in most games is considered evil, and will damage your reputation. (Of course, taking other stuff in tombs is all right, for some reason.)
This is also the original motivation of the heroes in X. They first come to Sorpigal-by-the-Sea to take the cremated ashes of their mentor to another town, which they cannot do because of a royal edict that makes it off-limits due to the political turmoil.
Dummied Out: VII has quite a bit of it. There are unused NPC portraits and voices found in the data files, there are three Manticore type monsters that were fully coded but who don't have sprites. There's a door in the Temple of Light blocked off by a fallen pillar.
Thanks to the programmers failing to completely dummy out the Manticores, their presence in the files but lack of sprites can cause a bug: they can spawn in the Arena, but due to being spriteless they are invisible, hit-detection is iffy and the game crashes if you right-click on them. Hottip: If you encounter manticore types in the Arena, use the A key (or whatever key you've rigged to auto-attack) to overcome hit detection issues. Just don't try to loot their corpses afterwards, because that too will crash the game.
Dump Stat: Intellect/Intelligence (the name varies from one game to the next) has no effect on classes lacking elemental spellcasting abilities (or learn Master Learning, which requires 50 Intellect in addition to the usual prerequisites), while personality is useless for classes that can't cast self magic (or learn Master Merchant). This makes at least one of the two a dump stat for every class except Druids and Rangers. In fact, this also means that the Insane condition (which increases Strength but cripples Intelligence) is actually a benefit to some classes, like the Knight.
Earth-Shattering Kaboom: generally encountered whenever the series needs a radical change in the setting (see Armageddon's Blade, the titular artifact of a Heroes 3 expansion of the same name).
For a milder version, refer to the dark magic spell, "Armageddon".
Occurs as a bad ending for VI, if you didn't free Archibald to get a protective spell.
Elaborate Underground Base: The final dungeon in several of the games is one of these, being the sci-fi corridors beneath the fantasy world.
Elemental Plane: The old universe had (at least) four Elemental Planes (the classic Fire, Water, Air and Earth). While an important background element right from the start of the franchise (as the Ancients' method of world/ Nacelle-creation involves manipulating both elemental energies and the four Elemental Lords), the planes themselves only play an important role in VIII (portals to them have opened, and they're preparing an invasion for reasons at first unknown) and Heroes Chronicles: Masters of the Elements, where the main character has to sojourn to the planes in an attempt to stop an invasion (motivated by entirely different things than the one in VIII).
Elemental Powers: Magic in these games is divided into schools based on elements. The basics are Air, Water, Fire, and Earth, while Dark and Light is more advanced magic (which, in later games, can only be used by players that are Evil and Good, respectively). Each player also has six Resistance scores, measuring how well he can resist each form of magic. (It starts at zero, but magic and items can increase it.) Monsters use attacks based on these elements too, and also often have Resistances (some have two, and some very powerful ones have several). Energy is a special seventh form that usually only comes into play late in the games; this cannot be resisted. Blaster weapons cause Energy damage, and so do some of the most powerful monsters.
X adds another type of magic called Primordial, which also seems to be a type of advanced magic.
Empty Room Psych: IX was loaded with these, due to the game being largely unfinished at the time of release.
In X, the Blackfang Marauders are a group of brutal highwaymen who ambush and rob travelers, and you'll likely grow to hate them before you get to Karthal. However, once you do get there, they prove the lesser evil, and you have to form an alliance with them to liberate the city from the revolutionaries.
They help you again (well four of them go) in the Falcon and the Unicorn scenario, where four Blackfangs with almost as much influence in the prison as the guards sell you supplies and tell you where to find Rosalie, so long as you do them a favor by getting rid of an inmate they don't like.
Also in X, there's a small group of Dark Elves whom you meet in the Tomb of a Thousand Terrors who is willing to help you - one of whom is an assassin who claims she would kill you if someone had paid her too - because they have an enemy in common.
Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Mamushi, a demonic, snake-like Boss Monster you fight early in X curses you for "siding with [his] mother's slayer" before the battle starts. (And you are, but more than likely, his mother was just as evil as he was.)
Even Evil Has Standards: Archibald may be a tyrant, a usurper, and a bad brother, but he does not like what the Kreegans do to Roland. It probably helps that his own position as king of Deyja was usurped by Kastore by the time you get around to rescuing Roland.
A fairly subtle example, but when you complete the Villain and Assassin promotion quests, your reputation in Deyja gets worse. The people of Deyja may be necromancers, but they apparently don't like villainy or assassination. (Maybe the fact that the Villain promotion quest requires you to kidnap a defenseless maiden while the Assassin one involves killing one has something to do with it; that is kind of rotten.)
Everything's Even Worse With Sharks: You have no idea. In VII, the obligatory Elaborate Underground Base is actually an Elaborate Underwater basenote allowing for that to mean a backup spaceship parked underwater, with the security systems turned on, and to get to it, you have to fight your way past some nasty sharks. Stat-wise, these monsters aren't much worse than anything else you've fought at this stage at the game, but in this underwater terrain, you and handicapped in more than one area. You can't use any weapons except Blasters (which you likely aren't very skilled with at this point) and you need to wear special clothing that resembles wetsuits here with prevents you from wearing any armor at all. (The suits themselves provide no protection whatsoever.) You can still wear magical rings, so the best thing to do is plan ahead. (And cast a Lloyd's Beacon when you finally get to the place, so you can come and go without having to swim to it.)
Evil Counterpart: In an many ways in the games where you have to choose the Dark or Light Path, your party seems to be an Evil Counterpart (or Good Counterpart) to what your party would be had you chosen the other path, and the reasons become obvious when you compare the quests in each path. While the plot is changed in a big way, there are many instances where the Quests you take are only different in terms of cosmetics and what your motives are. One example: If you're on the Light Path in VII, your superior is Robert the Wise, and an enemy you have to kill near the end is a guy named Tolberti. If you're on the Dark Path, the opposite it true. As far as the actual Boss Battle goes, the two are the same character in every way except cosmetically. Another good example: For the Crusader to Villain Promotion Quest (which is recommended for Paladins on the Dark Path) you have to kidnap a maiden named Alice; for the Promotion Quest that Paladins take on the Light Path, you have to rescue her - from the guy who would have told you to kidnap her, had you chosen the Dark Path.
The Fair Folk: The Faerie King in VII and his unseen subjects. Some human characters are scared to death of him, while the elves are cautious of him (insisting they're "only distantly related"). When you actually meet him - two quests require this - he seems to be a borderline case who likes playing jokes on mortals, but is more-or-less harmless.
Fake King: Alamar is Sheltem. He does it again in V, but it's a bit of a subversion as "King Alamar" is obviously the Big Bad from the get-go.
Flunky Boss: Actually it might be easier to list the Bosses that don't qualify. Most have at least a small mob of normal monsters helping them, and a few have dozens.
This doesn't seem to be the case as much in X, however. A few bosses have minions, but many fight alone. Of course, the bosses in this game are tough; a monster even has a special benefit simply for being a Boss that seems to make it immune to status effects or attacks that don't damage it directly.
Fluffy the Terrible: In VII, Queen Catherine of Erathia keeps griffin as pets; they won't hurt you unless you cause trouble around the city. (This leads to a rather big problem for one side quest if you take the Dark Path; it requires you to kill every griffin in both Erathia and Bracada, including them, meaning you'll have to pay a fine of 25,000 gold for Catherine - who's you're ally - to forgive you if you do; since the reward for the completing this quest is only 5,000 gold, it might be best to skip it.)
Frame-Up: The Falcon and the Unicorn opens with your party being arrested for a combination of the crimes Erebos committed in the main campaign and things you technically did, but which were done under orders from the legitimate authorities and in circumstances that paints what happened in a different light.
You are not the only victim. In your bid to escape, you find Rosalie, the NPC who gave you one of the first quests in the game, who knows what's really going down.
Game Within a Game: VII and VIII featured Arcomage, a card game that was sort of like a tabletop CCG that you could play in taverns. (An early quest in VII resulted in you getting the deck you needed to play it.) Each tavern had its own House Rules. 3DO actually marketed Arcomage as a title of its own.
Gilded Cage: Nicolai fells like he's in this situation in VI; that's why he "convinces" the PCs to take him with them. (In fact, it is strongly implied that they actually did kidnap him because they felt pity for him, even though it required no action on the player's part.
Get Back Here Boss: The Boss of the Battle of Karthal stage in X, the boss is Markus Wolf, who flees when he sees you. You have to fight your way past an army of Mooks and two other Bosses before you finally corner him; when he finally fights you, he'll collapse with one hit, and your mission is completed.
Gladiator Games: Most games in the series have an Arena you can go to where you can fight monsters to win gold (and in some cases, experience). The rules vary depending on which game, and the monsters are chosen at random, although you can usually pick the level of difficulty. (Although the difficulty levels often get more difficult overall as your own experience levels get higher.) Sometimes you have to pay a fee to enter, and other times you can only go on certain days. In at least one game, a promotion quest depends on going there.
Grail in the Garbage: Yeah, you can find some powerful stuff in these games lying around in unlikely places. Very early in many games, if you check out the stables in the towns you have easy access to, you're likely to find horseshoes. Of course, a stable is a place where you'd expect to find horseshoes, most likely, but in these games, horseshoes increase your Skill Points by 2 when you use them, making them incredibly valuable.
Starting in VII, you can't sell artifacts you find, and if you pick up any that you can't use, you may have to throw them in the garbage. And there's more than you might think. Many can only be used by a specific Player Character race, like the sword Elfbane (only a goblin can use it, assuming he's a class that can use a sword), or can only be used by Good or Evil characters (Ethric's Staff is useful for your wizard if you're on the Path of Dark, but worthless if you're on the Path of Light, and if you are on the Path of Dark and find Taledon's Helm, you have the opposite problem.) Also, any character can wear the Cloak of the Moon or the Cloak of the Sun, but because the first augments Dark spells (which you can't learn if you're on the Path of Light) and the second augments Light spells (same problem if you're on the Path of Dark) one of them isn't going to be any good. The only way to get rid of these priceless artifacts - other than just stash them in your castle - is to throw them away.
Grey and Gray Morality: The Necromancer-Church of the Sun War in VIII is surprisingly nuanced, given how Necromancers and Light-aligned Clerics are presented in the other games; the Necromancers' Guild of Jadame is fairly live-and-let-live, or at least not out to conquer the continent anymore, and the Church's Jadamean branch has some pretty strongly implied tendencies towards Corrupt Church.
It's not only implied, it's explicitly mentioned by Dyson Leyland (a plot-critical hireling). Then again, he hates both sides, so probably doesn't care who you end up with.
Another good example: Lady Loretta Fleise (note the name) is Roland's vassal in charge of tax and tariff collecting in VI. (That means she's supposed to be with the good guys.) However, the task she wants you to do before she gives you her approval for the main line quest is go to all the stables and have them jack their prices. She's basically telling you to do this so no-one can rightfully accuse her of price gouging in order to rip travelers off. (This originally lowered your Reputation score a full level, but this was a bug that was fixed in the 2.0 version.) Still, this is likely the easiest of the council quests, so it's hard to complain.
The other nobles don't seem to like her much either. In one quest, when you recover an important document (from a dungeon in her jurisdiction) she tells you to go to Lord Anthony Stone to get your reward. (Apparently, she feels it's his problem because the document involves a criminal he was looking for.) If you do that, Stone calls her a "greedy witch", but he does reward you for it.
Guide Dang It: The identity of the "missing brother" in Might & Magic III could be one of these, or else an example of Viewers Are Geniuses. (Hint: The other brothers are named Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Zeta.) (Answer: Epsilon.)
That's actually a Bilingual Bonus. If you know the Greek alphabet and have met the other brothers, the solution is pretty obvious, since the missing brother is the letter between Delta and Zeta.
When holding the Element Orb in II, all entrances to the dungeon are sealed and you are unable to use any teleport spells. The only way to successfully remove the Orb from the dungeon is to actively abuse game mechanics: Give the Orb to a hireling and dismiss them, instantly sending the hireling and Orb to the nearest inn.
The location of the replacement arbiters in VII. They make it perfectly clear in the game itself that Judge Fairweather is in Bracada and Judge Sleen is in Deyja, but not where in Bracada and Deyja. They're in the taverns.
The obelisk puzzle in VII is probably this. "Pirates five, one survive, hide the gold under the sand. White flower, witching hour, bloom upon a haunted land." There are several haunted lands in Might and Magic VII, although the only one with any connection to pirates is Evenmorn Island. And there IS a patch of sand on that island... but that's not where the white flower appears at midnight. So where is the buried treasure? In a stone circle that isn't anywhere close to any sand.
Guns Are Useless: Blasters in VI and VII do fairly low damage that cannot be increased by your Might score or your skill in Blasters, and Blaster Rifles aren't much better. Also unlike other weapons, they cannot be enchanted. However, they do have an extremely high rate of fire, so at least you can deal Death of a Thousand Cuts with them, especially when you fight in the real-time mode. Another advantage they have is that they do Energy damage, a form of damage which no monsters have any resistance to, meaning a successful hit always does full damage.
Hell of a Heaven: If you choose the Path of Light in VII, you gain allies in Celeste, a city among the clouds fully of angels and beautiful temples and palaces (not to mention merchants that sell some really good stuff, which becomes cheaper if you don't upset your allies). It seems like a great place, but it's dangerous. If you take a wrong step and fall off the streets, you'll plummet to the desert below and likely be killed in the fall (unless you prepare and use Feather Fall). To make this worse, a lot of the folks there jovially tell you not to "have a falling out while you're here!" You have to wonder just how many visitors "got" the joke the hard way...
If you're on the Dark Path, then Celeste is instead a Bonus Level of Heaven, as the folks there are your enemies the times you have to go there. (As if the danger of falling wasn't enough, the Angels and Rocs are tough.)
In V, Corak lacks the power to defeat Sheltem by directly attacking him. His self-destruct system, however...
In X, while you are dealing with the revolutionary army in the Battle of Karthal stage, your ally Crag Hack hunts down and confronts Erebos on his own, knowing that he has nothing to lose because he's dying from a lethal curse anyway. As the cutscene shows, Crag dies at the villains hands, but he does so on his own terms, and manages to wound the demon as he does so, making him vulnerable and possible for you to destroy him.
The Hidden Hour: A puzzle in VII has a flower that only appears in "the witching hour".
Hijacked by Ganon: II. The manual leads you to believe that Gralkor will be the Big Bad. Actually, saving King Kalohn from Gralkor's Mega Dragon is the penultimate quest, while Gralkor himself is just an elemental plane guardian and not even the most powerful. The actual final enemy is Sheltem, who resides deep within Square Lake Cavern and will be a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere if you haven't played the first game.
Hive Queen: The Kreegan Queen, the final boss of Might & Magic VI.
It is entirely possible to do this to yourself by using the artifact Splitter in VII. Artifacts and Relics are supposed to differ by Relics having drawbacks, which is technically true... but Explosive Impact doesn't count as a drawback, despite the fact that Splitter is a melee weapon, and there is no way to completely protect yourself from Fire damage.
The Regnans in VIII first are infiltrated by the heroes by means of a Regnan submarine the party hijacked while on a supply run. Then the party uses a Regnan prototype super-cannon to sink a good chunk of the Regnan fleet.
Hollywood Genetics: Neither Roland nor Catherine has black hair, but their son Nicolai does. (Technically, it's blue.)
Hopeless Boss Fight: In V, trying to face Sheltem in combat gets you automatically pwned. The only way to win is to recruit a more powerful ally and watch an awesome cutscene battle. The MegaDragon from II is also supposed to be a hopeless fight, though it can be defeated by insanely over-leveled characters using powerful spells.
There's something like this early in VII. There's a cave on Emerald Island, where you start the game, where there's a Red Dragon, which is likely far too strong for you to defeat. However, when you first enter, it will be preoccupied with some rats before it sees you. (The idea is for you to grab the two items you need and get out before it manages.) Note that it is possible to kill it, as as this guy proves.
In X, the Final Battle is like this; if you attack him directly, reducing him to about half his health Erebos will drive him away for a little while; he'll always return after a few rounds, fully healed. (Driving him away and killing his faceless and dark elf minions - who are much easier - does give you time to rest and heal, however.) To win the battle and truly kill him, you have to gather all the Solar Sigil Pieces in the huge arena and put them into the machine, which kills Erebos forever if you are successful.
The villains in The Falcon and the Unicorn DLC have a corrupted version of it called Hour of Justice, which is far more brutal.
Hulk Speak: Orcs in X (both PCs and NPCs) talk like this, occasionally. (Maximus, the garrison in Sorpigal, is surprisingly articulate; in fact, he says that's the reason the other orcs in his village kicked him out.)
Hell, M&M6 also reversed the names of the Enterprise crew to use as passwords.
In Name Only: Heroes of Might & Magic V and Dark Messiah of Might & Magic are a complete reboot of the series, taking place in an entirely different universe, with none of the Science Fantasy plot elements of the original series.
Pretty much every M&M title released following the fall of 3DO has tended towards this, actually. Don't even get me started on the recent DS title.
In Spite of a Nail: For obvious gameplay reasons, the world of Might & Magic II is not dramatically changed if you alter the world in the past and save King Kalohn from the Mega Dragon. The only difference is that he, not his daughter, rules in Luxus Palace Royale.
Informed Ability: Happens a lot. Many quests require you to kill a Boss Monster who's supposedly a leader or king of a group of common monsters, but when you actually fight the guy, he's really not much stronger than a typical member of the species. (For example, in one game you have to kill Ethric the Mad, who is supposedly "the first - and thus most powerful - lich" but he's really just the same as any other Power Lich. (Not that Power Liches are pushovers, of course, but Agar and the Lich King are liches in the same game that are stronger.)
Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: X seems to use this, unfortunately. In Sorpigal, a lot of buildings are inaccessible at first due to obstacles that would seem incredibly easy to bypass, like the exit being too narrow or a rope barricade that seems no more secure than a closeline.
Invulnerable Civilians: Monsters and townspeople simply ignored each other in Might & Magic VI. This was corrected in all later games, where the two would fight if they crossed paths. (This isn't always the case. In the Bracada Desert, the Griffins ignore the civilians and the Golems who act as the constabulary, but do attack the Player Characters, while in Deja, the Harpies and Zombies leave the peasants alone, but not outsiders. Mt. Nighon is kind of a strange case. The Warlocks in the town act as the town watch and won't attack you unless you cause trouble, but the ones outside of town are more malignant.)
Of course, this caused other issues. Namely that great fun could be had in VII by luring monsters back to town for the sole purpose of watching them slaughter the inhabitants.
Not the sole purpose. If they killed the man trying to give you a fireball wand for a future favour, you could take the wand for free. Also, civilians have gold.
Most of the time. Some civilians in Might and Magic 8 don't have gold. Although they tend to look quite ragged, so...
Interactive Narrator: The unnamed female narrator in X tells the story of your characters in past tense, as you play it.
Joke Level: VI has one. In Dragonsand, there's a hidden teleporter that takes you to the New World Computing Dungeon, a place which, in theory, is built to resemble the office of New World Computing (at the time). The place isn't much of a challenge if your party is strong enough to be in Dragonsand (the only monsters are a couple of goblins and lots of peasants, all of them named after NWC employees, and there isn't any useful treasure) but it is kind of cool.
Actually, there's a way to get there early on, when the items inside are quite helpful: There's a Flight scroll hidden in the west wall of the bank in New Sorpigal. Cast it and fly to the north end of the Buccaneer's Lair, and click on the wall. It will teleport you to Dragonsand, just outside the Shrine of the Gods. Save before trying it, because there are twenty or so dragons waiting for you and it may take a few tries to get inside the shrine without dying. Click on the obelisk to have 20 stats permanently added to each character, and then click on the left wall of the shrine and it takes you to New World Computing. Unfortunately, the only way to get out is to go back outside and let the dragons kill you, which will land you back in New Sorpigal with no gold, so don't bother picking up the gold in the dungeon and put your money in the bank before you start.
Actually, it is possible to get back without dying, so long as you first have 2,000 gold; it's possible to hire a Gatekeeper in New Sorpigal who can cast Town Portal once per day. (The cut this hireling charges is 50%, however, in addition to the initial 2,000, so the actual profit might not be worth it.
In VII they have the "Strange Temple" which is another version of the NWC Dungeon, which is reached by using a model-temple-in-a-bottle found in sunken ship. Unlike the version in VI, his has a pretty dangerous Bonus Boss in it, called a "Blaster Guy C", who's much like a boss that was fought previously.
In X, there is Limbo, which is like the previous ones, a dungeon resembling the Ubisoft offices, but also resembling a space station, a Call Back to the science fiction levels of previous games. There are a lot of odd monsters there named after the dev team (who you can actually talk to in this case), and your mission is to defeat the six "Ubimancers" who have invaded the place. Once you do, a guy tells you they can safely start work on the next Might & Magic project.
Justified Tutorial: the scavenger hunt in VII served as both a tutorial of sorts, as well as an introductory stage to set up the plot for the remainder of the game.
Karl Marx Hates Your Guts: Played straight, but avoidable. The rule applies, but if the character you use to deal with a merchant has ranks in the Merchant skill, you get a better deal both when buying and selling, and the better the character is in the skill, the better the deal. When the character gets the highest rank in the skill, he both buys and sells at the fixed price. (Naturally, it's best to max out this skill on the character who can use it best, and have him deal with merchants exclusively.)
Knight Templar: Uriel, who was so obsessed with wiping out the Faceless that he was willing to plunge the world in bloody, genocidal war just to accomplish this. The villains of The Falcon and the Unicorn seek to finish what he started.
La Résistance: This seems to have caused the crisis in X, and it's a villainous example. After the chaos that Uriel caused in the war prior to the events, the young Empress Gwendolyn Falcon of the Agyn Peninsula introduced a set of reforms to stem the unrest (first and foremost, separating the authority of the church from that of the state, seeing as blindly following an angel was a mistake that caused the war) that many of "the more conservative" nobles objected to, causing political upheaval and threats of succession, possibly leading to outright insurrection judging from the state of things currently. (In Sorpigal, you hear both sides of the issue, some citizens supporting the Empress, and others supporting the dissidents.) As it turns out, the resistance is a side effect of the true threat, and their are two separate resistance movements, both led by an Unwitting Pawn of the true threat. The leader of the first, less potent one is an officer who was driven mad by witnessing the true evil behind the plot, and believes that Gwendolyn has been replaced by a demon and that the faceless are ruling the Peninsula; he even thinks your characters are demons when you confront him. His dying words when defeated and a journal you find give you a hint at the true evil behind it. The second, more organized revolutionary is Markus Wolfe, the leader of the Blackguards; by the time you get to Karthal, he will have controlled the city, and the heroes mission will be to ally themselves with loyalists and liberate it before focusing on the true evil behind it.
Larynx Dissonance: Mostly unintentional, due to many NPCs often being assigned the (ambiguously) incorrect gender. Don't even get me started on that... thing who runs the Mind Guild in VII. When talking to peasants and other NPCs, a voice will say "Hello" or an equivalent greeting, and if you don't know that it's the voice of your currently active character (not the voice of the NPC he/she's talking to), it can seem like this as well.
Let's Play: A rather well-done version of the first two games by Thuryl can be found on the Let's Play Archive. Thuryl mercilessly points out how obscenely broken the second game can be if you do things right.
The Fallen Angel Uriel in the backstory of X, a psychotic Knight Templar who tried (and nearly succeeded) in plunging the world into genocidal chaos.
The villains in The Falcon and the Unicorn DLC qualify too, all of them using Light magic; the Inquisitors talk like members of a crazed Corrupt Church while goading you. Probably because The ultimate mastermind behind the scheme is a Justicar angel who's just as bad as Uriel was, and has the potential to cause just as much of a disaster.)
Lost Colony: The apparent fantasy world setting of each game is typically revealed to really be one of these towards the end.
Played with in the first five games, in that the settings strictly speaking were not lost, but rather deliberately retarded (the Ancients apparently do keep an eye on them, just not a close one). VI to VIII varied the theme by making it clear from an early point that the world in question was a Lost Colony (the inhabitants themselves are perfectly aware of it, and in fact base their dating system on when the colony became lost). IX bucked the trend by never explicitly revealing it.
It's still there you just have to empty the chest and open it again. Out of nowhere the missing items will appear.
Played straight with anything on Emerald Isle in VII, seeing as once you leave, you can't go back. (Of course, there's really nothing useful there that you can't get anywhere else.
Seriously played straight in The Falcon and the Unicorn DLC. Your gear is all confiscated when you're arrested, and you can't get it back until you defeat the boss at the top of the Fortress and get the Storeroom Key; if you don't get it, you can't. (Fortunately, the guy who arrives to rescue you warns you that he can't take you back and recommends that you take one last quick look around. Also, each area has a multiple save file, so if you saved after winning the Boss Battle, it's easily fixed.)
Lost Technology: In the case of the first five games, possibly deliberately lost, to keep people from messing up with the experiments by the worlds' creator that explain why these worlds have names that are written in all Capital Letters. From a certain point of view, Shelthem is himself a piece of malfunctioning Lost Technology. For the settings of Might & Magic 6, 7 and 8, The End of the World as We Know It resulted in a collapse of civilization bringing them down from energy-weapons to Medieval technology, but some pieces of what was before are still around, and when a crisis occurs...
Loveable Rogues: In VII, William Lasker, the Master of Thieves, who lives in the Sewers in Erathia, obviously qualifies. You hear from some townsfolk that Queen Catherine could likely arrest him any time she wants, but turns a blind eye because she approves of his actions. When you actually meet him, it's clear the rumors are true; first he gives you this first Thief promotion quest (which helps you get even with the guy who conned you in the beginning by robbing his house) and later, he proves to be on the side of the Path of Light by giving you the Rogue to Spy Promotion Quest. (Assuming you pick the Path of Light.)
The heroes play this part in X, being Raiders, a type of shady adventurer which many folk believe are lawless folk who refuse to pledge loyalty to any formal authority (both the government or the Dragons), and are Only in It for the Money. This is true to a certain extent - the eight rule of their ten-part code is "Treasure is treasure", meaning that if something is valuable, you should take it, and not judge what it was used for. However, a lot of the code does deal with honor among allies and comrades, the first rule being "Life is worth more than gold", meaning that nothing is so valuable that you should risk the lives of your companions to get it. (The second rule is, if a Raider violates the first rule and lets a comrade die to gain wealth, he is a traitor who deserves death, and a true Raider's duty is to deliver that punishment.)
Made of Explodium: Gogs. Also, less notably, golems and light elementals, and Boulders, as well as arrows when fired from bows with the "of Carnage" enchantment.
Kreegan burst into flames when they die too, leaving no corpse behind, but that's no threat to you.
Mama Didn't Raise No Criminal: This is the motivation for the Justicar Eileen giving you the "Lost Lambs" quest, with a twist. She knows her sons are criminals, actually, having been kidnapped years ago and corrupted into such a life, but as their mother, she can't bring herself to make the decision whether they deserve forgiveness or death; she wants you to make the decision after finding them. It's up to the player what the Raiders do when they encounter each, but it's clear that each of the three brothers have different attitudes towards what they are. Luke is the only one who genuinely seems sorry for everyone he's hurt, and there is one witness who can back that up; Kirk admits to being a murderer, and while he is sorry for the fate of his victims, he is not sorry he had to do so. Ripley, on the other hand, is a cruel man with a great deal of blood on his hands. (Even the Narrator says "He deserved to die" in the epilogue should you choose not to spare him.) There seems to be no real consequences of each choices (except possibly your score at the end) each time, and Eileen doesn't blame you should you kill them. (But she does mourn and pray for them.)
The Man Behind the Man: The Falcon and the Unicorn reveals that Luke's bandit clan, which was a major source of problems in the first act of X, was part of Duke Owen's plot to destabilize the Peninsula.
Meaningful Name: In VI you can find Artifacts and Relics at random from high level monsters. Artifacts are special, very strong items named after characters from the King Arthur saga (like Lancelot, Galahad, Parcival etc.), while Relics were even more powerful but almost always had an additional drawback. Relics are named after characters from the greek mythology (like Ares, Hermes, Minerva) etc. The properties of the relics were related to those of their patrons, like the Ares mace having additional fire damage, or the Hermes boots increasing your speed.
Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All: In The Falcon and the Unicorn DLC, in order to escape from Fort Laegaire, you need help from another inmate named Neela, one of the Blackfangs. Neela and her three henchmen have almost as much influence in the place as the guards, having almost complete control of the supply lines and access to information outside via their Naga allies. One of her henchmen predicts that in a year, Neela will own the place in all but name.
Paradise Valley in VI. While monsters can waltz right into most towns in this game and no one minds, this one, which is far away from most of the others, seems to owned by Titans, and they'll attack you if you stay on the streets. (The folks indoors are friendlier. Here's a tip: Meteor Shower and Starburst are two spells that useful against the Titans, but only if you manage to trick them into grouping together, and it's tricky.)
Of course, the Pit definately counts. Aside from the goblins, the population consists of vampires, liches, ghosts, and death priestesses. (Whether those last ones are human or not is debatable.) You're safe here if you're on the Dark Path (in which case these things are your allies and won't attack you unless you do something stupid) but if you're on the Light Path, this city is a deathtrap, and the quests that take you here are best done by turning yourself invisible.
Mythology Gag: In Might and Magic VI, the archbishop Anthony Stone asks you to find the Prince of Thieves, who has been consorting with some unwholesome temple. He mentions "Moo," "Yak," and "Bark," which are references to temples found in preceding Might and Magic games.
Nature Hero: If you have an orc character in your party in X, his or her dialogue sometimes suggests this; they complain a lot when they're in towns, but are rather exuberant when outdoors, praising "Mother Earth" and "Father Sky".
Neglectful Precursors: The Ancients seem to have vanished from the face of the galaxy, leaving the inhabitants of their various artificial worlds to deal with the likes of Sheltem and the Kreegan.
In their defence, they did send Corak (a Corak, anyhow) after Sheltem... though they apparently didn't bother to check-up after he failed to return with Sheltem on schedule. And as VIII makes clear, they are fighting the Kreegan... they just don't have the resources to save their lost colonies and experiments from the Kreegan most of the time ( or, for that matter, to destroy most infested colonies), what with the ongoing galaxy-scale war.
Nigh-Invulnerability: Lord Xeen in IV can only be killed by the XEENSlayer sword. In Swords of Xeen, the final dungeon enemies require one of six specific items to defeat.
Nintendo Hard: The earlier games in the series embody this, due to the general high difficulty of RPGs of that era (when finishing a game was considered a major achievement, not a given). IV averts this, mostly because it's essentially the first third of a whole game.
No Canon for the Wicked: The first expansion of Heroes of Might and Magic III was going to continue the story from the Evil ending of MMVII (with Kastore completing the Heavenly Forge). Because the Science Fantasy elements of Might and Magic had been hitherto absent from the Heroes spinoffs (and because the Heavenly Forge was definitely Science Fantasy), the developers scrapped that idea and instead made the Good ending of MMVII canon (and in AB they didn't mention the Gate that Resurrectra completed in the Good ending anyway).
No-Gear Level: The first part of the Fort Laegaire stage of the The Falcon and the Unicorn DLC is like this. (And when you do get gear and are able to fight, it's makeshift stuff; you can't recover your regular gear until you leave the place.)
Not So Different: As if the Tomb of a Thousand Terrors in X wasn't scary enough, the true Nightmare Fuel comes if you use the Dream Shard found on Dunstan's body to experience what actually happened to him and his friends long ago. (This is a Bonus Level, and while still a challenge, the true point is showing his origin.) Dunstan was a Raider and treasure hunter just like your party, with the exact same goals, and what happened to him could have happened to any Raiders searching for adventure or treasure. The Player Characters were luckier, or depending on the player, smarter.
In Might and Magic VIII, the Plane of Air is just pale blue, empty void during the day, and a black, empty void at night. Even the Torchlight spell doesn't work there, because there are almost no surfaces to illuminate.
X has the Sacred Grove and the Fortress of Crows. Both are dark, creepy places that seem to have no monsters at all. However, in both cases, triggering an event causes them to appear.
Also in X Enigma Tower is a creepy place that doesn't seem to have any monsters, and it really doesn't. However, it does have some lethal booby traps that can kill you quickly if you don't watch your step.
Not Just A Tournament: This is the Player Character of VIIstart their adventure, which starts with the them being granted the titles of Lords of Harmondale - complete with a free castle - after winning a scavenger hunt. It soon becomes obvious why this prize was so easy to get; not only is the castle a wreck and infested with goblins, Harmondale is in disputed territory, and its lords rarely survive long. The heroes quickly have to resolve a war between their two disputing neighbors in order to be recognized as serious rulers, and even worse, have to choose between the Paths of Light and Dark, a choice that can change the fate of the world.
Not Quite Flight: Levitation in III to V. You can float over pit traps and hover over clouds, but you're not flying, and in IV, V snd VII, you can't levitate in the sky without a cloud to hold you up (requiring you to use other methods to reach certain Floating Continents).
Obvious Beta: Might and Magic IX was cited by the developers themselves as being "pre-alpha at best".
In X, it's hard to imagine that Erebos is anything but when you finally confront him.
Old Master: In the first game (if not the entire series) a character grows a year older for every level of experience they train up to, so a player's entire party could be pushing 60 or 70 by the end of the game. This carries its own risk, however: once a character hits a certain age, they'll die in their sleep every time you visit an inn.
There are fountains of youth to fix this, of course. There are also curses of aging, too, so watch out.
Old Save Bonus: Might and Magic II allowed you to import characters you used in the first game. The feature was dropped in subsequent installments though. Might and Magic V however introduced another feature: If you had both Might and Magic IV and V installed, you could combine them into one massive game called World of Xeen which allowed you to travel between the two sides of the titular world featured in each of the stand-alone games, as well as introducing some new content and an exclusive new ending.
Omnicidal Maniac: Sheltem's main M.O. involves crashing planets into their suns.
In V he wants to move the world of Xeen like a vehicle, so he can return to Terra. The fact that everyone on the planet will freeze to death in deep space is a nice little bonus.
Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Badass Beards? Check. Tough guy attitude? Check. Good in character classes that reply on fighting and heavy armor? Check. In games where you can use them in your party, they fit the bill.
X compromises this a little, with the Rune Priest, a class available to dwarves who breaks tradition slightly by being able to use powerful Fire magic; still, they're otherwise much like other dwarves.
Our Liches Are Different: Actually, the ones presented as enemies aren't much different at all (as far as RPGs go). However, in games where you can choose a Dark path, wizards in your party actually become liches after completing the second Promotion Quest, complete with the Soul Jars that liches tend to use. This grants a few immunities along with enhanced stats, but it actually does not grant them any special form of immortality. (I'm not even sure if this technically makes them undead; if you're killed after becoming a lich, a spell that raises the dead revives you, as a lich again... Kind of weird, really...)
Outlaw Town: The Crag in X is a Wretched Hive where pirates and orcs live; not all of them are bad, actually, and your mission is to convince the Pirate King to ally himself with the governor. (It's easier than it sounds, as the Pirate King is actually the governor's estranged father, who everyone assumed was dead until you speak to him. The hardest part is traveling there.)
Palette Swap: In M&M7 they didn't even swap palettes, they just re-tinted the already animated sprites. A fan made patch later corrected this.
If you use Hardware Accelerated 3D video setting, they don't appear to be of different colors. But if you change the video setting to Software 3D, the sprites are recolored much more realistically.
In most games, here's how monsters work: Each monster has a small, medium, and large variety (in terms of how powerful they are) and the only real physical difference is color. (Of course, the three varieties of a monster tend to be found together.) Boss Monsters are sometimes exceptions, but many of them are just Palette Swaps of common monsters.
Planet Heck: The Pit in VII is an underground city that resembles a Fire and Brimstone Hell, although it has mostly necromancers and undead beings rather than demons; Archibald rules Deyja from here, and it's full of bad things. (Even if you're on the Path of Dark; if you're on the Path of Light, it's best not to come here except when you have to.)
Plot Tunnel: A situation like this arises in VI. The first time you speak to Roland's son, Nicolai, in Castle Ironfist, he joins your party (you do not get a say in this) and the first time you rest, he runs off (again, there's nothing you can do to stop him). Unfortunately, this means you cannot enter Castle Ironfist until you find him, because it is put on emergency shutdown, because they think he's been kidnapped (and it's probably for the best that you don't enter, because technically, you kidnapped him). Because this means you can't complete any important quests, you really have to find him. The worst part is, it's kind of hard. His constant begging to go to the circus should tell you where he is, but the circus only appears on certain months and in only three locations, and one of those locations is a place you really shouldn't go, given your likely current level. So this could take a while. Worst part is, Nicolai doesn't give you any tangible reward for this, except that he owes you a favor, which comes in very useful much later.
You get an XP reward for it in the 2.0 version.
This happens a lot in X, where the plot is very linear. For example, after foiling the attack on the governor's castle, he asks you to go to the Elemental Forge to investigate an elf raid, and until you do that, you can't progress to Seahaven.
Point of No Return: X has three situations like this; fortunately, in two of them, you get a warning first:
The first time is when You enter the Tomb of Ten Thousand Terrors, an action that starts Act IV of the story. The entrance locks behind you, and there's no way out until you find the exit. (The storyline implies that this was a trap.)
The second time Is before the Battle of Karthul stage. Once it starts, you cannot return to the Ayran Peninsula until you complete this stage and the next, in which you defeat Erebos. Fortunately, an NPC gives you a warning first, and there is a merchant you can buy supplies from after the battle.
The third and most brutal time is the final part of the Falcon and the Phoenix DLC, where Rosalie takes you to Empress Falcon's Summer Palace to warn her. She does tell you that you won't be able to return once you leave, but there are no merchants, healers, or any other facilities here; other than what you bring, you have to rely on treasure you find to heal yourself.
In VI, Artifacts were safe; Relics, however, had drawbacks. They usually raised one or more stats tremendously, at the cost of greatly reducing one or more others.
In VII, the distinction becomes even more pronounced. There are unsellable rare items often obtained as parts of quests, Artifacts and Relics. Artifacts again do not have drawbacks, while rare items and Relics do. From the first category: The Cloak of the Sheep that you find in the Temple of Baa might be useful, but not to everyone (it renders the user immune to status conditions, at the cost of reducing his Intellect and Personality by 20). There's also Mash, a Relic mace that has drawbacks that might not even be worth the benefit. (It increases your Might by 150, but decreases your Intellect, Personality, and Speed by 40 apiece.)
In VIII, the game no longer displays "Artifact" or "Relic" when you find a rare item, instead a regular class of the item is displayed, like "Longsword" or "Leather Armor", for example. There is still a distinction like in the previous games, though, with some items being priced at 15-20k and having no drawbacks and ones being priced at 30k and having drawbacks. There are also a few unsellable rares, but much less than in the previous games.
In X, Relics have no drawbacks, but in order for them to reach their fullest potential, they have to gain levels, just like your characters do. This is done by your characters using them in battles.
Also in X is a non-artifact example: Most of the Skill instructors who teach the Grandmaster rank require something else other than money. Some costs are very easy, like the Water Grandmaster teacher, who only requires you to walk a hundred steps on water. (If you have the Blessing of the Water Deity, you can do it in five minutes without leaving that town.) Others are a little debilitating; the Dark Grandmaster teacher is a vampire and will only teach you if you let her drink your blood (if you're brave enough to agree, each of your characters lose one point of Vitality, but she keeps her end) and the Dagger Grandmaster teacher is similar, demanding one point of each character's Spirit. (She's a dark elf who claims to collect such things.) Some are very difficult, like the Warfare Grandmaster teacher. (Once you agree to his terms, you have to fight three waves of monsters, goblins and plunderers first, dreamwalkers and jaguar warriors second, and finally, two cyclopses. Fortunately, you also get some XP for some of these tasks.
The Arcane Discipline Grandmaster teacher is tricky, because she gives you a Secret Test of Character. If you ask for training, she tells you to come back the next day. If you do, she tells you she isn't ready, and tells you to come back in a week. If you do that, she says she still isn't ready, and tells you to come back in a month. (The narrative on the screen tells suggests she might be putting one over on you, but mentions that her mask and stoic voice make it impossible to tell.) If you do come back in a month, she agrees to train you, saying that the waiting was actually the first test: patience.
The Power of Love: III has something like this. Visiting the nymph in Thorn Blossom Orchard "inflicts" a status condition on all male characters in your party called In Love that increases all his stats by 1, and then continues to increase it as time goes on. Unfortunately, the nymph never reciprocates the love, and if the bonus ever reaches a +10 bonus, it turns into a negative aliment called Heartbroken, which is like Weakness, except it cannot be cured except from a Temple.
Powers That Be: In X, the gods worshipped in the Agyn Peninsula are the Dragons, gods who seem to represent Elemental Powers. They are depicted as robed, hooded figures with angelic wings, holding swords. The lesser Dragons are named; Elrath, Malassa, Sylanna, Arkath, Ylath and Shalassa. at various parts of the game, you have to visit the Elemental Forge and solve puzzles to gain the blessings of each Dragon, giving you abilities that let you access areas you weren't able to before. There is also a seventh Dragon named Asha, worshipped as a Creator Goddess and believed to be the mother of the other six. There are altars depicting her three incarnations (the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone) dotted around the Agyn Peninsula. If the Player Characters pray before the Maiden, their Stats and offensive scores improve; the Mother increases their Destiny Scores; and the Crone cures all negative status ailments.
Precursor Heroes: In M&M7 you learn the mysterious Visitors from the Stars that most of the plot centers around are in fact the heroes from the first three games, who never managed to catch up with Sheltem and ended up crash landing on Enroth instead. The party ended up splitting up between the Good and Evil members, with the Good members wanting to build a Stargate to find the Ancients, and the Evil members wanting to use Ancient weapons tech to carve out a galactic empire.
Predecessor Villain: In X, the political crisis that has befallen the land is the result of a Great Offscreen War started by a Fallen Angel named Uriel, explained by the Narrator in the cinematic opening sequence. Uriel actually is dead, so far as the game indicates, and the main villain wasn't exactly inspired by him, but does indeed use (relatively, and on a smaller scale) similar methods and espouses similar beliefs. Both of them want the Elder Wars between Angels and Faceless to begin anew, and both manipulate human politics towards that end — Erebos just happens to be one of the few Faceless with that goal.
The Quisling: In the letter from King Roland seen in the instruction manual for VI, he says that he suspects there's someone like this among the ruling class of , a traitor working for the Kreegan. And there is, Regent Wilbur Humphrey's representative on the council, Slicker Silvertongue. (Honestly, with a name like that...) One quest you're required to do exposes him. (You'll meet him again later in the game, and you can kill him if you want; He's a wimp.
Rainbow Pimp Gear: Somewhat lampshaded in-game, as the item descriptions for a lot of the uglier equipment often tends to describe how awful it looks.
Really 700 Years Old: Kalohn in II is over 300 years old as of the battle with the Mega Dragon, and is alive 100 years after that if he wins the fight.
In X there's the Cult of the Wrecker; according to one NPC, this cult worships a dark and twisted aspect of one of the Dragons (most worshippers of that Dragon are benign). We can only assume that much for now, as only one faction of the cult has been seen in the open beta.
The Remnant: The Cult of Baa in VI is a powerful and influential religion that worships the Kreegans and are the major antagonists for most part of that game. However in VII, after the Kreegan's defeat in VI and Heroes 3, they're pretty mcuh this. When you enter their only temple in Erathia, the descrption mentions that it's in a decayed state as if to mirror what happened with the cult, and you can read a letter from Xenofex telling the remaining cultist to regroup and go into hiding, hoping that maybe in the future they can recover from their loses.
Ret Gone: The Pirate King Crag Hack in X is suffering from a curse after insulting an undead sorcerer, which is supposed to do this to him; the doctor who examines him says it will not only kill him, it will cause him to disappear, and make everyone forget he ever existed. The heroes embark on a quest to gather ingredients for a cure, but it fails to work. Still, Crag has the last laugh on the sorcerer; in the Final Battle, he engages Erebos alone, dying on his own terms and wounding the demon enough for the players to kill him. Not only is Crag Hack remembered, he is remembered forever as a hero.
Riddle Me This: X has lots of these. A lot of treasure chests have to be opened by answering riddles, and several challenges require solving puzzles in order to proceed. Quite frankly, these are everywhere. (And some are very hard, especially because you have to type them out. The answer to one chest-riddle is Palimpsest; the answer can be found by listening to the gossip in Seahaven, but it isn't obvious. Many fans who figured it out swore it was a made-up word, but as you can see here it is not.)
Right on the Tick: These games use a clock and a calendar, and quite a few important tasks you have to do depend on certain dates and times. One of the worst is the Druid promotion quests in VI (which, fortunately, are really only necessary if one of your characters is a Druid). The quest for promotion to Great Druid requires you to go and pray at a holy site. Simple enough, right? The Quest Giver requires you to do it on an equinox or a solstice. Four days in a year where you can complete this. (The place isn’t hard to get to, but when you do but watch the date.)
The Great Druid to Grand Druid quest is even worse You have to pray at another holy site on midnight on the night of a full moon. (Twelve days in a year you can complete that one.) The “catch” is, this holy site is in a dungeon full of monsters, and you must do it exactly at midnight. (You should probably make sure to clear out the monsters first.)
Royals Who Actually Do Something: Notably played straight in VII, where your party inherits the kingdom of Harmondale after the first quest (somewhat enforced by the fact that you inherited it by winning a tournament, and as it turns out the only reason it was put up as the prize was that the place is politically volatile (several wars have been fought over the place, and the only reason why Erathian rulership is not contested by Tularea at the moment is the toll the wars have taken on Harmondale) and Castle Harmondale itself is a goblin-infested ruin).
In addition to the campaign of Heroes II, where you take control of either Archibald or Roland in the final scenario.
Save Scumming: The games make it very easy, for the most part. Land a good hit, save, opponent misses, save, something bad happens reload, and with patience you can beat things you have no business trying to fight. There are a few exceptions, though - for example, saving in the Arena in M&M7 actually saves you to outside the Harmondale stables on Monday, so you have to win on one try.
This was particularly abuseable when it came to looting, as there is a bug in VI thru VIII that will occasionally cause a just-looted corpse to remain in the game where you can loot it again with exactly the same loot tables. By repeatedly saving and loading any time this bug doesn't cause the corpse to remain, you can outfit your party several times over (with Artifacts and Relics, too, if you're looting a strong enough enemy) and get a ton of gold as a bonus (especially if combined with periodic trips to town and back to the corpse when your inventory fills). Of course, this is really only worth doing on enemies that drop good loot in the first place, like the dragon on the starting island in VII that you can beat by running around it in circles so that its fire breath never hits you...
This is also very useful when you have to deal with monsters like Ghosts that cause magical aging. Simply put, this is something that's hard to reverse, and you're going to have to deal with things like this sooner or later. For example, in VI, you have to go to Corlagan's Estate to do the Wizard to Archmage promotion quest (not required, but highly recommended if you have a wizard) and it has lots of Ghosts. The only ways to reverse magical aging is that game a black potion (which reduces all of your stats in the process) and a magical fountain on Hermit's Isle which you won't be able to access until much later. So save often when you go to this place.
Science Fantasy: M&M games commonly start out as apparently pure fantasy world, but towards the end it is revealed the world is actually a Lost Colony, and Lost Technology is brought into the plot. Later games would introduce the Science Fiction elements earlier; Might & Magic VI and VII, for example, allowed you to mow down Liches with your blaster pistols.
Or be a lich. With a laser pistol.
IX never got around to having any explicit Science Fiction elements, leaving them to a few references that people that played the older games would recognize as not actually being fantasy after all. X isn't allowed to have explicit Science Fiction elements, being set in Ubisoft's Ashan setting... Explicit being the key word there. Two quests heavily implies that Ashan is in the old setting after all, one of them featuring what appears to be a character from the mid-90s novels... a character that happened to have been an undercover operative for a post-Silence interstellar state.
Script Breaking: a particularly glaring example is often encountered in VII, due to a rather poorly thought-out triggered event. When you first travel to the Land of the Giants, a dehthroned Archibald Ironfist telepathically contacts you and begs for your help. The problem is that you will very likely trigger this event long before Kastore overthrows Archibald Ironfist. The game will continue normally and the latter event will not come to pass until properly triggered by the storyline, rendering the former event somewhat nonsensical and contradictive.
Sealed Evil in a Can: Archibald's statue for the majority of MMVI, until you have to unseal him to get his help containing a greater evil.
Sealed Good in a Can: Corak, the Planetary Guardian created by the Ancients for the purpose of stopping their previous, rather defective Planetary Guardian, Sheltem. Promptly ends up stuffed inside a small box by Sheltem, with the player's main goal to unseal him in games II and V.
In one scene in X. If you speak to a guy in a tavern, he tells you he's trying to develop a card game that sounds a lot like Arcomage (see Game Within a Game above) but he's not having much luck finding interest and doesn't even know what to call it. (Ubisoft had nothing to do with Arcomage, and in fact, could not have used it in X even if they had wanted to for copyright reasons. Whether this is a straight example of Self-Deprecation or a Take That depends on your point of view.)
The Forbidden Saga quest, also in X, which is about finding nine books the Inquisition has deemed heretical and wants to burn, but which the quest-giver wants to preserve. The books are poetic retellings of the first nine game in the series (the ninth ends with a comment about it being 'obviously unfinished') written by a Lord Caneghem...
Self-Destruct Mechanism: Might and Magic VI and VII, as well as Heroes of Might and Magic III deal with an alien invasion. It turns out that the ancients who originally colonised the world also made a robot who would go to worlds attacked by the aliens and eliminate the threat at any cost. In VIII, he has arrived and his programming kicked in and started the self-destruct mechanism of the entire world, even though you already defeated the aliens.
The endgame of V: Corak initiates his own self-destruct to (finally) take down Sheltem. It works.
A minor one in VI; if you aren't paying attention and forget to pick up a vital scroll before going to the demon hive to destroy it, the resulting explosion destroys the planet in a rather well-done cinematic.
In the spinoff Swords Of Xeen, you need to use the mechanism to destroy the alien spaceship. One spell lets you teleport outside, since the timer is linked only to attempts on exiting the spacecraft.
If you choose the Light Path in VII, the first Main Line quest you have to do (in order to gain Light Magic) is one where you have to enter the front door of the Walls of Mist and exit the back door - without harming any of the monsters inside even once. Unfortunately, they will attack you, they are very powerful, and the Walls of Mist is a complex maze that requires finding three keys to complete. (And it you leave out the front door, you have to start over.) Turning yourself invisible is probably the best idea.
This strategy is not mandatory but highly recommended for a few other situations in the same game. For example, any time you got to the Pit (if you're on the Path of Light) or Celeste (if you're on the Path of Dark) it's best to turn yourself invisible and sneak your way through, seeing as the monsters in the city will be hostile and some of them can summon other monsters, meaning you'd be facing a huge army in a matter of seconds if you try. Also, when you approach Colony Zod late in the game (which you have to do regardless of the Path you're on) it's best to both turn invisible and fly to get there, unless you can fight your way past the army of over a hundred Kreegan surrounding it. (Many of which can drain your SP if you try.)
Shout-Out: Oh so deliciously many. For instance, in VI the passwords of the spaceship are 'krik', 'kcops', and 'yttocs', and from the found journals you can deduct that the ship could have been...
After you complete the Black Knight promotion quest in Might and Magic VII, if you go back to visit the guy who gave you the quest, he'll say "None shall pass!"
The grandmaster of Unarmed fighting in VII is (Chuck) Norris, and the default human male character portrait kinda looks like him. You can achieve grandmastery if Body Building from a troll named Evander Holifield. The grandmaster of Mind Magic is (Professor) Xavier. Mastery of the Disarm Trap skill can be learned from a crazed redneck named Leonard Skinner. Several NPCs are named after posters on the 3DO forums. The list goes on.
Also, the person who trains to become a Villain is called William (Bill) Setag (read it backwards)
Might and Magic II's game world is basically a collection of shout-outs, from the many-colored Bishops of Battle to a familiar starship captain running a transport service. Basically any time there's text in the game, it's a reference to something.
In one rather poignant Side Quest in X, an inquisitor tells you to spy on Lord Haart (the mayor of Seahaven), claiming he has suspects he's hiding a dark secret. If you find out what the secret is, it's rather scandalous; his lover is a dark elf who saved his life years ago. (Dark elves are universally thought of as evil in these games.) He does nothing to discourage you from exposing his secret at all, and whether you tell the inquisitor the exact truth or manipulate the words a little to make his actions seem legit is up to you. (Lord Haart is also the primary Grandmaster trainer of the Sword skill, so reporting him to the inquisitor means you have to get training from a different and harder to find NPC.)
This is also the whole point of the Fortress of Crows side quest, also in X which takes place in a dungeon created by fan surveys on the Uplay website. An Evil Sorceress has cursed the restless spirits of two lovers, keeping them apart eternally, and the heroes' mission is to defeat the villain and reunite them.
Super Drowning Skills: in most of the 3-D games, water acts as little more than a flat surface that drains your life when you stand on it without the aid of a Water Walk spell or potion. This is particularly jarring, as it is entirely possible to walk on water without the aforementioned spell - your only penalty is listening to your characters yell "ow! that hurts!" repeatedly while the water slowly eats away at their health.
IX was the first (and only, unless you count that one stage from VII) in the series to give characters the ability to actually swim (i.e., to go down beneath the surface of the water instead of treating it like solid ground). Due to other issues, however, this ability was completely worthless for a lack of any reason whatsoever to go swimming.
There's was also the 'plane of water' from VIII.
Take Your Time: The game warns you that the world will end in the year 1000 (you start in the year 900), and your characters can age, but rejuvenating your characters at least is trivial. Oh, and if you play through 100 years... nothing happens.
Similarly, in World of Xeen, one of the options in the starting town (at least on Darkside) is to spend a week as a laborer for a bit of cash. Combine this with the compound interest the banks provide, and you can spend a century or two before you do anything just accumulating cash. Not to worry, though... apparently XEEN steers and/or accelerates like a tub, because there hasn't been any noticeable climate change yet.
Taken for Granite: Archibald's punishment at the end of Heroes II. You have to release him in VI (well, you can choose not to, and you are warned that doing so is risky, but if you don't, you get a bad ending).
Theme Naming: Every game starting with III has a temple with some animal-related name: Temple of Moo (III), Temple of Yak (IV), Temple of Bark (V), Temple of Snakes (VI), Temple of Baa (VI and VII), Temple of Honk (IX), Temple of Meow (X)
Archbishop Anthony Stone in Might and Magic VI even makes a Mythology Gag on the first three names.
VIII had the Grand Temple of Eep, the Chapel of Eep and the Church of Eep, all part of a quest to find rare cheese - the followers of Eep are wererats.
Every "trainer" in Might and Magic VII is named after a Roman emperor.
There Are No Tents: You can rest outside of an inn, but if a place is too dangerous to do so, you can't (a message onscreen will tell you so, and you won't be able to.) And even if a place is considered safe, you might be attacked in your sleep. (The inns, however, are always 100% secure, and it also doesn't deplete your rations, which camping in the wilderness does.)
The Three Certainties in Life: Some NPCs state that there are only three certainties in life: Death, Taxes, and that you'll hear the comment about death and taxes sooner or later.
Too Dumb to Live: In VII, during the War Over Harmondale quest, you get an opportunity to betray both Erathia and Avlee. You can then confess your betrayal to the respective rulers. Said rulers promptly have you executed. (What makes this especially dumb is, so long as you just keep quiet about it, they'll never suspect a thing and you'll get away scott free.)
You never fight Archibald at all in the series (although you do in Heroes, where he appears originally) even if you're on the side of Light in VII where he's technically your enemy.
Two examples of this in X, both of them in The Falcon and the Unicorn DLC. You never actually fight Duke Owen, the antagonist in the plot who set you and Rosalie up who is planning to take over the kingdom by wooing Empress Falcon. (He gets his, however; once you win the game, the Empress has him and the other conspirators hauled off to jail.) You do confront him, however, the final true enemy of the game, Owen's partner the Justicar Angel Adira leaps to defend him, and while you do fight her as a Boss Battle (and a rather difficult one) it isn't finished; when you reduce her to about half her health, Falcon orders her to stop so that she can hear what you and Rosalie have to say. (So while the fight occurs, it is left unfinished.)
Within five minutes of starting a new game in VII, you can "encourage" a swarm of vicious dragonflies to slaughter an entire town... and get away with it totally blameless. And get an awesome item AND save quite a bit of money by taking stuff you'd ordinarily have to buy from the peasant's corpses.
The Armageddon spell in games VI-VIII would cause massive damage to anything in the current outdoor map, if it was not immune to magic or darkness damage. This meant that, while weak enemies and civilians would be instantly killed by one casting of the spell, stronger enemies and the party would generally take multiple castings. And yes, the party *was* vulnerable to the spell it would cast. The cruelty potential comes from the fact that the spell was the quickest way to get the worst reputation, if used on the innocent. The reputation was needed for ranking up in Dark Magic and being able to cast Armageddon more times each day.
Fortunately, you could undo all your butchery just by using the Dark spell "Reanimate" on the slain peasants, as long as you hadn't looted their dead bodies. This should have turned them into zombies, I suppose, but they showed no obvious sign of it and didn't seem to mind. Bringing the dead back to life didn't fix your reputation, though... putting a few shillings in the church poorbox was the quick fix for that.
Even as early as the second iteration you could commit genocide, though it was limited to enemy races. Specifically, it was possible to find peaceful goblin villages and wipe them out.
One quest in the second game requires you to go look for a couple of lost artifacts for Lord Haart. One, the +7 Loincloth, is worn by a peaceful barbarian shaman and can only be acquired off his dead body.
Video Game Geography: Type 1. In III, the world is a toroid, and in I, II, IV and V it's flat. (Actually, only the setting of 3 is set on a planet at all; the others are spaceships.)
Villain Protagonist: You become this in a couple of games if you choose the Dark Path. Of course, even though this causes you to be an accomplice in a few very evil things, whether you truly act like a villain is up to you.
Weaksauce Weakness: In X, monsters with the Demonic Lineage trait (like orcs, goblins, and other monstrous humanoids) tend to be tough, but they are very vulnerable to Light magic. (Oddly enough, orcs in the Player Character Party also have a racial trait called Demonic Lineage, but they don't have this vulnerability; rather, it gives then bonuses when fighting demonic creatures.) Consequently, monsters who use Light magic (which includes most enemies in The Falcon and the Unicorn DLC) are very vulnerable to Dark magic.
What You Are in the Dark: There's something like this in X if you talk to the ghost outside the Fortress of Crows and agree to take an amulet to "her" inside (he doesn't say who it is). When you go there, a mysterious woman meets you at the entrance, warning you of danger inside, and offering you "riches beyond imagining" if you give her the amulet and turn back. If you do that, she gives you 33,000 gold and the quest ends, but this is the easy way out; she's actually the Evil Sorceress who is keeping the spirit of the ghost outside and that of his lover separate. If you insist on going in, and then speak to the female ghost, the sorceress and her undead minions will do her best to try to make sure you don't leave alive, but the reward is much greater if you succeed.
Wide Open Sandbox: The first three games don't really tell you where to go. You're expected to explore the game until you pick up enough clues to stumble into the real final quest. Most egregious in II, where the backstory in the game manual is almost entirely a Red Herring and the real villain is a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere unless you've played I.
In all games, there's far more material in the sidequests than in the main quest, and often, the difference between sidequest and main quest can only be determined in hindsight.
The exception is X, where the game is pretty linear, and even divided into four Acts. (There are still a few sidequest you can do at any time, however.)
Wild Card: There are some rare items you can find in some games (Deck of Fate in VI, Genie Lamp in VII) that can give you bonuses to abilities, Skill Points, gold, or food. However, the bonuses they give seem random, along with how much of the bonus they give, and sometimes if you use them, they can turn the user to stone, kill him, or even Eradicate him. In truth, these effects are not random at all, but depend on dates. Each month grants a different type of boon, using them later in the month gives you more of that month's boon, and something bad happens if you use them on certain days of the week. Unfortunately, these things are so rare, that you either need to combine trial and error with Save Scumming or use a cheat sheet to find out when to best use them.
You All Look Familiar: In most games, encountering a shopkeeper or dungeon doorman will display a nifty animated shot, but shops of a given type use the same art.
You Call That A Wound: NPC hirelings in the early 3D games were entirely immune to whatever perils the rest of the team was facing, even though they were always standing right there with you. Though it is possible for your characters to use a dark magic spell that would sacrifice an NPC hireling to restore that character to full health.
You Shouldn't Know This Already: one of the puzzles in MM 5 is figuring out the true name of the big bad (who calls himself Alamar). It is conveniently written on a dungeon wall somewhere, but if you've played MM 1 or 2 you will already know this.
And by "written on a dungeon wall somewhere" we mean "there's a dungeon which you have to map out, then take a look at your map to realize that the walls form the words 'I am Sheltem'." Ego, much?