is a series of Turn Based Strategy
games for iOS
consisting of Ravenmark: Scourge of Estellion
(2011) and Ravenmark: Mercenaries
(2013). The games take place in a Medieval European Fantasy
setting in the world of Eclisse. The titular Empire of Estellion
(whose people are called Tellions) is the largest and most powerful nation in the world. It's notable that, according to the in-game Codex
, the Empire was founded on the principles of meritocracy, where any commoner could, through many years of military (22 years) or administrative (36 years) service, attain temporary nobility (no more than 2 generations), and any family able to maintain their noble status for 10 uninterrupted generations would be granted the permanent status of a noble House. Another major power in Eclisse is the neighboring Commonwealth of Esotre
, whose inhabitants (called Sotrans and composed of humans and dwarves
) prefer a rational approach to things and promote science and Magitek
. Both nations are constantly being raided by the wild Lyri tribes
Battles are turn-based. The player is able to give no more than 6 pre-battle orders per turn, although behavior orders from previous turns (e.g. Advance West) continue to take effect. However, computer players are not limited to 6 orders per turn and are able to give orders during the battle phase
. Most powers use small-units called Daggers that take up 1 square. Usually, Daggers can be joined with Daggers of identical unit type to form two-Dagger formations called Deuces and three-Dagger formations called Trines. There are usually bonuses for Deuces and Trines, but, unlike Daggers, they can be flanked and must be facing the enemy to attack. Commanders (usually key story characters) are attached to specific Daggers and usually have certain abilities. In the first game, units don't earn experience. In the sequel, squads earn experience for successfully completing contracts or winning battles.
The first game has a deep and rich storyline revealed through a series of campaigns. The focus of the campaigns is on a newly-discovered threat that has been lying in wait for centuries. The nation of Kaysan has been hiding in the impassable Cardani swamps amassing their human and elven
forces in order to strike at the unsuspecting Tellions. The Kaysani humans are descended from the exiled Carsis nobles who used to rule the lands that now make up the Empire and are burning for a chance to take them back. So, when the Kaysani, armed with flamesoul
magic, and their rat-like elven hordes form the Reconquista and suddenly invade the Empire, very few can do anything to stop them, especially since the Empire is currently undergoing a Succession Crisis
following the death of Emperor Sergius Corvius and, in fact, there may be Kaysani allies in the Imperial court itself.
The sequel takes place six years later but doesn't feature much of a story beyond a basic setup, as the game is primarily focused on multiplayer. Basically, after the events of the first game, the Empire is no longer as powerful as it was, controlling only a fraction of its former lands. The alliance between Estellion and Esotre has evaporated, and both nations now view each other with hostility. The remaining Kaysani forces have retreated to East Isle and have joined with the rebellious tribes of the Faiths to form a new nation called the Varishah Federation opposed to both the Empire and the Commonwealth. This three-way conflict forms the setting of the second game. The player is put in command of a group of mercenaries out of the Twin Cities (a former Imperial city) and can take out various contracts or engage in small-scale battles for money.
The game contains examples of the following tropes:
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Kaysani are determined to strike back at the Empire for exiling their ancestors to the Cardani swamps. Not only do they manage to briefly take the two key Tellion cities, the Twin Cities (social and cultural center) and Atium (the capital), but they also nearly take Silvergate, the capital of Esotre for being friendly with the Tellions. East Isle is taken by the Kaysani and remains in their hands well into the sequel. Not that the people who live there mind it much, as they would rather be working with the Kaysani than be under the Imperial boot. In fact, by the sequel, East Isle becomes the capital of the new Varishah Federation.
- Amazon Brigade: Las Monjas del Sol is an all-female Kaysani Inquisitor cavalry unit, whose uteri were ritualistically destroyed in order to ensure their undying loyalty to the Sun-Father Kayes. Also, Braccian Peltasts are female javelin-throwers who organize themselves into "bitch" packs in order to hound enemy forces from afar.
- Animal Motifs: The mythical raven Corvii is central to The Empire's culture. The path to nobility is called Ravenhood. Those who take the path are called Ravenborne. The Emperor's throne is called the Obsidian Perch (it looks like a normal throne, though). The royal dynasty is called House Corvius ("ravens" in Latin). The Kaysani, though, see the darker side of the same bird and refer to the Tellions by the derogatory term "crows". The Tellions are also known to use "crows" as a swear. The Crowseers are members of the Court of Shadows, who dedicate themselves to rooting out the enemies of The Empire, i.e. crows.
- Battle Couple: Reiht Commanders Quintus Talsius and Cierra Montepulciano are married and are often seen side-by-side on the battlefield, fighting the enemies of the Empire.
- Bears Are Bad News: Aconites, one of the Lyri tribes, go into battle riding large grizzly bears and wielding scythes. These warriors are called Maulers.
- Big Bad: Alejo de Porres, the leader of the Kaysani Redeemer faction definitely fits the bill, as well as his counterpart in the Kaysani Inquisitor faction, Heliodore de Moreno.
- Bling of War: The honor guard of the Kaysani Inquisitors are Las Monjas del Sol ("Sisters of the Sun" in Spanish), an all-female cavalry unit fully armored in gold, as are their horses. In fact, the gleaming armor often gives them an edge in battle, blinding enemies. This is an exception for the Inquisitors, however, who hate pomp.
- Blood Magic: Only Crowseers (members of the Court of Shadows) are allowed to use this type of magic in order to improve their reflexes.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Unlike human players, the computer is not limited to the "6 orders per turn" rule. Also, the players can only give orders prior to the battle turn, requiring one to think ahead and anticipate enemy movements. The computer is somehow able to know exactly what your units will be doing during the battle turn and act accordingly.
- Dirty Coward: Ovidius Corvius, son of Gratian Corvius, barely even know which end of the sword to hold much less how to lead an army into battle. His portly shape means that he barely fits into his armor and prefers to spend his days eating and drinking himself senseless. When convinced by his cousin Phoebe Corvius to personally lead the Invocati, Gratian's private army, against Rook Vidius Harper and the other three Queens (including Phoebe's mother), he has no idea what to do and just yells to the actual commander of the Invocati to destroy the "rebels". His in-game ability is actually called "Coward Lord", allowing his parent unit to avoid damage.
- The Dragon: Usun Motare is a young but brilliant Kaysani field commander. He is the nephew of Alejo de Porres and commands the Redeemer forces at his uncle's blessing.
- The Empire: The Empire of Estellion was founded on the principles of meritocracy, where even a lowly commoner can become a noble after a lengthy period of service. At the same time, it is a true empire, expanding its control over nearby lands whether the locals want it or not. This becomes a plot point when their most recent "acquisition", the East Isle, decides to take their chances with the Kaysani instead and joins their Reconquista against the Empire.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Sotrans try to give things simple and descriptive names. Even the name of their nation comes from the "esoteric" experiments they run. Their capital Silvergate is named so because its most distinctive feature is a giant silver gate protecting it.
- Eyepatch of Power: Reiht Commander Cierra Montepulciano wears an eyepatch in order to better aim with her crossbow and to prepare her other eye for night fighting.
- Fantasy Pantheon: The people of the Faiths worship a pantheon of eight gods: Deverra (the crone and wisdom), Matre (the mother and fertility), Eos (the young girl and innocence), Prisma (resilience), Serci (purity and beauty), Tersa (luck and chaos), Ayas (the gardener), and Nox (night). Interestingly, the Faithmen don't worship the gods equally. Each aspect (possibly, a clan) belongs to one of the eight temples. The Kaysani worship the sun god Kayes, so it was fairly easy to integrate them with the Faithmen by including them in the Ayas temple, since "Ayas" is likely derived from "Kayes" and shares the same position in the pantheon. Many other peoples of the world Eclisse have the same mythology, which is rooted in the world's heavenly bodies, but don't necessarily worship them as gods. The Kaysani are known for their "sunsoul" magic, allowing them to use deadly fire on the battlefield and even create eclipses on a whim. The Tellion people, for example, primarily revere Corvii, the sun god's prized pet raven, and instead use wind magic as a counter to sunsoul magic.
- Fantastic Rank System: All Tellion soldiers start in the Earthbound Corps (i.e. NC Os), with the "Earthbound" being the rank of a common soldier. A Militum is in command of a Dagger. A Signum is a staff-level Earthbound and has the authority to operate without Ravenborne (officer) supervision. The Ravenhood is the officer corps composed of Ravenborne graduates on their track to nobility. A Decurion can command Dagger-level operations such as scouting or raiding. A Centurion is a mid-level officer in command of an infantry Trine or a cavalry Deuce. A Magister is a support rank given to caster-type officers, which sits lower on the hierarchy than a Centurion. A Legate commands a Mark (a medium-sized force). A Rook is in charge of 5 Marks (AKA a Bannermark), and is also a Fantastic Honorific equivalent to a Lord. The Altus Rook is in command of all the Bannermarks in the Empire answerable only to The Emperor. Given that Estellion is a meritocracy (specifically created by the first Emperor in order to avoid the pitfalls of the overthrown Carsis feudalism), any commoner has the option of attaining a noble rank through the practice of Ravenhood, which requires a term of service in the Mark of no less than 22 years (or 36 as an administrator). Once one has achieved Ravenhood, the title holds for 2 generations before it must be earned again. If a family has managed to hold the title for 10 unbroken generations (very rare), it becomes a noble House. The eleventh generation's firstborn inherits the title and becomes a Rook.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: While there are no direct parallels, some of the nations have obvious origins in Real Life cultures. For example, most Imperial names have a Latin sound to them (e.g. Sergius Corvius, Calius Septim), and the Tellion capital city is called Atium (meaning "view" in Latin). Like the Romans, the Tellions revere a bird (although it's a raven in the game instead of an eagle). On the other hand, the Kaysani have a number of Spanish-sounding names (e.g. Alejo de Porros, Heliodore de Moneo) and their religious fervor is reminiscent of the conquistadors and the Spanish Inquisition (one of the Kaysani factions is called the Inquisitors). Then there's the fact that their campaign to retake their lost lands is called the Reconquista. Esotre is a little difficult to narrow down, although many names sound French (e.g. Lorraine D'Artim, Cyril F'Ourier). Their scientific advancements, though, have a more Italian Renaissance feel.
- Strangely, the Cardani elves have definite elements of Japanese culture, although they largely avert this. For example, several Cardani weapons look very much like katanas and naginatas (swordstaffs). The Tenguko commanders wear samurai armor and tengu masks.
- In the sequel, the people of the Faiths are desert-dwelling tribes for whom religion is very important. Does that sound like an ethnic group from Real Life?
- Forbidden Zone: The deepest parts of Deepwoods are forbidden to the Lyri. No one knows why, although the Sotrans are determined to find out, digging a tunnel under the forest to this area. While they could quickly reach it using explosives, the Lyri would know something is strange. Instead, the tunnel is dug the old-fashioned way.
- Functional Magic: Various types of elemental magic are present. The most prevalent type of magic in the Empire is Wind magic. The Kaysani favor flamesoul (i.e. Fire) magic. The Sotrans, being miners, use Earth magic. The Ardites, living in mountains, use Highweather and Water magic.
- Friendly Sniper: The Greyjackets (when they're on your side) are an elite Sotran unit, officially known as 1st Rifles. Their accurate weapons allow them to stun an entire enemy formation, and they are primarily employed as guerrilla troops.
- Also, Reiht Commander Cierra Montepulciano, who is deadly with her crossbow.
- Frogs and Toads: The Cardani elves have managed to tame the giant Hallow Frogs living in the swamps, even making armor for them to use against Tellion forces. One of those frogs is able to swallow a Dagger whole. The Cardani worship the giant frogs as living gods. One frog in particular, named Croaker, is several thousand years old and has attained a level of sentience. Seeing that the Kaysani campaign in Estellion was failing, he crushed his handlers and left for the hearest swamp with scores of Cardani following his "godlike" presence. By the second game, Croaker has formed a mercenary brigade called Tabula Rasa and works for the highest bidder.
- Full Boar Action: Boar Chargers are Sotran units who go into battle atop enormous boars, who have been grown to 7 times the size of a horse using alchemy. One of the most famous Chargers is Allister Huntsworth, whose boar Daisy is, probably, the largest of them all. One of their abilities is Frenzy that does damage to all surrounding units.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Phoebe Corvius, the Queen of Hearts, is the head of the Court of Affinity. In The Empire, Queens are not sovereigns but, effectively, department heads, made up of worthy women of House Corvius. Out of the four Queens, Phoebe is the only one who sides with Gratian Corvius's (her uncle) grab for power. Phoebe is not only a smoking hot blonde whose dress shows a lot of cleavage but also extremely cunning and capable of any act (including incest) if it will increase her power. After Gratian's plot fails, Phoebe flees Atium with her loyal soldiers and forms a mercenary battalion called Her Devoted. Her mission becomes to get rid of the Scarlet Empress and take the throne.
- Also, the Scarlet Empress (Livia Corvius) in the sequel.
- Averted with the other three Queens in the Courts of the Pales: Adrise Corvius (the Chimney Queen, head of the Court of Industry and Phoebe's mother), Anifer Corvius (Queen of the Quills, head of the Court of War), and Jycquin Corvius (Queen of the Harsh Hammer, head of the Court of Law).
- Good Is Not Nice: Lieutenant Lorraine D'Artim, commander of a Sotran outpost in the Deepwoods is constantly frustrated that Thaddeus L'Eclin is more concerned with the well-being of a servant girl named Cloe than the fact that his nation is at war and that his duty is to protect his nation. At least once, she threatens to shoot Cloe if Thaddeus puts her well-being ahead of that of her men. Finally, she crosses the line when she has her people hold Thaddeus, so that he doesn't rush to Cloe's aid, as the Lyri are about to kill her.
- Guns vs. Swords: The Sotran front-line troops are primarily armed with single-shot muskets with bayonets attached, although they use pike formations as well. This puts them on par with Imperial troops still dependent on swordsmen, pikemen, and archers.
- Heroic Bastard: The Court of Shadows (formerly House Cordance) is made up of bastard children of the royal House Corvius. They are trained from a very young age to be the best spies and assassins in the Empire, serving their legitimate cousins.
- The Horde: The Lyri are savage tribes who live in the Deepwoods to the East of Estellion and constantly raid Tellion lands and Sotran outposts. On the other hand, they understand tactics fairly well and employ Daggers like the "civilized" powers. The Cardani elves, on the other hand, rush into battle using their big Swarms to break the enemy with numbers.
- Hover Tank: The most destructive invention of Cyril F'Ourier is the Rath Platform, an artillery platform floating on constant gunpowder explosions.
- 100% Completion: Each mission in the first game is rated on completion with 1-3 circles/stars. On Easy difficulty level, only one circle can be earned. On Normal, two are earned upon completion of main objectives. On completion of secondary tasks (usually, something along the lines of "defeat the enemy within X turns") on Normal, three circles are earned. However, beyond the satisfaction of doing that, the game offers nothing extra. No bonus content, no extra missions.
- Kill It with Fire: The Kaysani are masters of flamesoul magic and can even put it in containers to be used for explosives. Cardani Sunsouls are suicide troops that rapidly move on bouncing stilts and carry large glass balls filled with compressed flamesoul magic. They slam into enemy formations, breaking the glass and releasing a large explosion. After being taken prisoner, Alejo de Porres chooses to explode in a similar manner, trying to kill the newly-crowned Empress Livia Corvius as a final act of defiance, resulting in Livia being scarred and her lover Calius Septim being killed by the flames.
- The Kingdom: Technically, the Commonwealth of Esotre is ruled by a King, with the King's Hand overseeing the day-to-day activities. However, the King is not hereditary and is actually elected by a group of ministers every 5-6 years, along with the Hand. Being the head of state, the King is usually human, while the Hand is usually a dwarf due to their natural attention to detail.
- La Résistance: Centuries ago, the corrupt kingdom of Carsis ruled the lands now belonging to The Empire. The feudal Carsis nobles were corrupt and decadent, enforcing their superiority with their religion based on worshiping the Sun-Father Kayes. Eventually, one of their priests named Phaestus began preaching meritocracy drawing inspiration from Corvii (Kayes's pet raven, who always strives to fly closer to the Father). Feronia, a peasant girl with powerful wind magic, was a follower of Phaestus's teachings. Then a Carsis noble raped and murdered her sister. Feronia unleashed her power and killed the lord. During her trial, Phaestus (initially agreeing to testify against her) condemned the corrupt nobles of even worse crimes, triggering Feronia's magic once again. The peasants followed Phaestus, who proved himself a brilliant tactician, forming a rebel army against the Carsis, using wind magicians against the Carsis flamesoul magic. After exiling them, Phaestus created the Empire of Estellion, becoming the first Emperor Corvius with Feronia as his queen.
- Mad Scientist: Cyril "Madmachiner" F'Ourier, the director of the Royal Army’s Research Facility, is a brilliant but crazy Sotran scientist and alchemist. His latest inventions include mechanical walkers called Jabberwockys and the Rath Platform, a hovering artillery piece.
- Magitek: The Sotrans value knowledge and advancement. As such, their alchemists use Earth magic to build various contraptions and create an equivalent to gunpowder.
- A Mech by Any Other Name: The Madmachiner Cyril F'Ourier creates "chicken-walker" mechs based on the mythical creatures called Jabberwockys. They can run faster than any horse and spew molten lava.
- Medieval European Fantasy: A pretty standard example, although Sotrans depart from this by having Magitek.
- Mêlée à Trois: For many centuries, the nations of Estellion and Esotre were allies, and this continued during the Kaysani invasion, when the Sotrans sent their war machines to support the final Tellion strike against Alejo de Porres. Unfortunately, the brutal reign of the Scarlet Empress has significantly cooled this relationship, and the way she treated a rebellious town has forced the current Sotran King to send military aid to the rebels, sparking hostilities between the two nations. With the rise of the Varishah Federation, the three powers (Estellion in the North, Esotre in the Southwest, and Varishah in the Southeast) are locked in a never-ending three-way conflict. This results in the situation of Ravenmark: Mercenaries, when the now-independent Twin Cities become a haven for mercenary brigades that lend their services to the warring powers.
- Mysterious Waif: Cloe, an orphan who is found near Dorton Hall and brought in, becoming a quiet servant girl until Dorton Hall is taken by the Kaysani. When she is found by Thaddeus L'Eclin, several Kaysani soldiers who were harassing her are found impaled by a Deepwood tree that appears to have sprouted there in an instant. Since then, Thaddeus has vowed to protect Cloe.
- No Campaign for the Wicked: Averted with the Kaysani, who get their own campaign. Played straight with the Lyri, although they are hardly central to the story. The campaigns are not contradictory, though, maintaining a single storyline.
- One-Hit Kill: Armored Hallow Frogs, tamed by the Cardani, are ginormous man-eating frogs who are able to swallow a Dagger whole. Luckily, this ability has a 10-turn cooldown.
- Additionally, the Rookguard are an elite Imperial heavy cavalry unit. They have the Eradicate ability that completely wipes out an enemy element whose morale has been broken. While, normally, only heavily-damaged Daggers/Swarms lose morale, there are ways of doing that to Daggers/Swarms at full strength. In the first game, this ability requires two Rookguard Daggers in a Deuce formation. In the sequel, a single Dagger is enough.
- Our Elves Are Different: The Cardani elves are as far removed from Tolkien's elves as one can get. They are short, rat-like beings who breed like rabbits and prefer We Have Reserves tactics. Their lives are focused on greed and tend to be fairly short. One of the key characters, Taraka, is noted as being weird by Cardani standards because he actually has some restraint and has lived to be 40.
- Praetorian Guard: The Reiht are an elite unit (also a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits) created by Emperor Sergius Corvius as his personal guard.
- The Invocati are troops loyal to Gratian Corvius and are created as a replacement for the Reiht, whom he judges unfit to be his guard (and way too loyal to his late father).
- Reasonable Authority Figure: The late Emperor Sergius Corvius was this, as well as a good number of Corvius emperors before him, starting with Phaestus, who established the Corvius line.
- Religion of Evil: The Kaysani worship the sun god Kayes and use their flamesoul magic to burn anyone who they consider to be a heretic. They are supposed to be the Expy of the Spanish Inquisition, especially since their army is called the Reconquista, and their leaders are named Alejo de Porres and Heliodore de Moreno.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Rook Vidius Harper and Rook Delvinius Cato. Both experienced generals and noblemen and personally lead their troops into battle. In fact, a good number of the royal House Corvius have served in the Imperial Mark at one point or another. The late Emperor Sergius Corvius is particularly known for leading his troops on a successful campaign to the northeast, which is what earned him the throne. In the final campaigns of the first game, the Queens of the Twin Cities (female members of House Corvius who act as department heads) also prove themselves to be tough warriors.
- Sins of Our Fathers: The reason why such a promising officer like Lieutenant Lorraine D'Artim is assigned to a dead-end post in the Deepwoods? One of her ancestors is believed to be guilty of attempting to assassinate an archduke, although Lorraine maintains that her ancestor is innocent. Nevertheless, the incident was striken from all records, and only a select few higher-ups know about it, constantly remining Lorraine that it will take a lot of effort to cleanse the D'Artim name.
- Start of Darkness: The end of the first game is this for Livia Cassianus/Corvius. By the time of the sequel, she is known as the Scarlet Empress for her deeds.
- Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: Infantry -> polearms -> cavalry -> ranged -> infantry. Support units are neutral to all other types. Also, some mounted units may be classified as ranged and not cavalry. Cavalry units typically have the Charge ability, meaning they get a free attack if they move at least one square before attack. Some units, especially polearms have counters to these, such as Brace or Scatter, which give the free attack to the defender.
- Taking You with Me: This is how Alejo de Porres chooses to go, using flamesoul magic to create a huge explosion, wounding Livia Cassianus and killing Calius Septim, among others.
- Teleport Interdiction: One mission of the Sotran campaign involves the Kaysani invading Silvergate and doing damage to key areas of the city, including the main portal hub. The player has to not only battle Kaysani forces but also destroy the rubble blocking the arrival sites (and, given the game mechanics, the rubble fights back) in order to allow reinforcements to arrive.
- Teleporters and Transporters: The Sotrans have perfected the use of phylacteries for teleportation to a pre-determined point. Specifically, each phylactery contains earth from the desired location and a stone with Ardite runes inscribed on it. When a phylactery is snapped, the seal on the earth is broken, resulting in its contact with the runes. This creates a sphere that instantly shifts everything inside it to the place from where the earth came. Naturally, this is one-way only, and the phylactery is used up in the process, but more can always be made. A Portal Network of sorts has been established in the capital city of Silvergate with manned control towers rerouting incoming teleports to available sites. Since Tele Fragging is a real possibility, all arrival sites much be kept clear of any objects.
- Vestigial Empire: At the beginning of the first game, Estellion is the largest and most powerful nation in Eclisse, having been steadily expanding for centuries, and with corruption being kept in check by the meritocratic nature of the Empire. By the second game, Tellion territory has drastically shrunk as a result of the Kaysani invasion and the local peoples' desire to be free of the Imperial rule. The Imperial Mark is a shadow of its former self, and very little is left of meritocracy in Estellion with the Scarlet Empress hell-bent on destroying her enemies no matter the cost. The Twin Cities, the cultural and economic core of the Empire, have seceded. Estellion is now engaged in a never-ending stalemate with Esotre and the Varishah Federation.
- We Have Reserves: The Cardani fight this way. While everyone else uses small units called Daggers that can be put into larger formations called Deuces and Trines for bonuses, the Cardani use large Swarms that rush enemies with little regard for tactics.