Video Game: Unterwegs in Düsterburg

You wake up outside, in a forest, with no memory of what happened. The only things you know are your name, the name of your dog and that you came through that eerie fog bank right behind you. After walking around for a bit you arrive at a house and find an old man. He tells you his life story of having been thrown off his throne as a duke by a vampire.

Implausible, you say? Not if you're playing Unterwegs in Düsterburg (On the road in Düsterburg), a German RPG Maker 2000 game released in 2003. While its plot is relatively clichéd, it ties its elements together neatly, and is prized in the German RPG Maker community for its production values, witty dialog and atmosphere.

Largely due to the RPG Maker engine, the game displays a mix of Western and Eastern RPG elements, being vaguely set in the European Middle Ages with vampires, orcs etc., but also featuring Magitek, a turn-based battle system and relatively linear progress.

A remake for RPG Maker VX Ace is in the making since 2012. Among other things, it's intended to include an English translation.


Unterwegs in Düsterburg provides examples of:

  • And Then John Was a Zombie: In the final boss battles, Tarius comes back as a vampire. However, if your Relationship Values with Malthur are high enough, he will pull a Heroic Sacrifice to return him to normal.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: After the defeat of the Dark God, Duke Dankwart adopts Grandy as his heir and successor.
  • Battle Couple: Grandy and Libra.
  • Beef Gate: Some of them, like the demon guard in Düsterburg, look like Broken Bridges but can be defeated by a sufficiently overleveled party.
  • Big Bad: Wahnfried.
  • Broken Bridge: Some of them look like Beef Gates, for example Harkon Lukasz. If you actually manage to defeat him, you'll get a Game Over anyway.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: Sir Roland eventually ran out of ink, finding that his blood would at least have one final use now that he was locked in his own room...
  • Cute Mute: Tarius begins speaking again as he regains his memories.
    • Also Sarah, a little girl you meet in Königsberg.
  • Dark Is Evil: All over the place. The trouble began when Wahnfried dethroned Duke Dankwart and caused a permanent solar eclipse. And of course he did it to further his plan of summoning the Dark God to this realm.
    • Dark Is Not Evil: The Dark God's son Malthur, on the other hand, has renounced his ties to his father and began traveling the world to atone for his sins.
  • Dead Guy Junior: In the finale, after everything is said and done, Grandy and Libra name their child Taria or Maltha depending on who didn't survive the Final Boss. Of course, The Stinger subverts this by showing that said person is alive after all.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything:
    • If you use the RPG Maker cheat mode to reach inaccessible places and take the items placed there, your EXP is reduced or you may even go Game Over.
    • There is a way to either please or piss off just about every faction in the game (Orc clans, Werevolves, Medusas etc.) which slightly influences the ending cutscenes.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: In the end, Grandy, Libra, and Tarius/Malthur defeat the Dark God and save the day.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Dark God, which manifests through Wahnfried's corpse.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: The trap level of the escape tunnel.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Malthur, centuries before the game starts.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: If the "Malthurmeter" is high enough, Malthur will fuse his mind with Tarius's to save the latter's soul at the former's expense. However, this is ultimately subverted in The Stinger.
  • Killer Rabbit: The dreaded "Killerkarnickel" (literally "killer rabbits") are usually the first pair of enemies you encounter in the game.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Inflicted by Wahnfried upon the Battle Couple protagonists before the game begins, explaining the brief Ontological Mystery.
  • Lovecraft Lite
  • Magitek: Dankwart's machines are this.
  • Money Spider: Averted, as you generally only get items from enemies.
  • Nominal Importance: Averted, each and every NPC has a name and most are involved in at least one side quest in one way or another.
  • One Size Fits All: Averted. It's quite difficult to find good equipment for some party members.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. In the jail in Düsterburg is a prisoner named "Burger der Würger" (Burger the Strangler), and on castle Rabenstein is another man named Burger.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: Rather rude and brutal simpletons, but intelligent enough to argue, trade and even form alliances with.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Wahnfried and his sires are the typical viral, high-class kind and fill out many of the tropes commonly associated with them (most prominently their weakness to the sun).
  • Party in My Pocket: Likely due to the engine. It requires some extra scripting to make the other party members visible with RPG Maker 2000.
  • Pamphlet Shelf:
    • If you walk up to a bookshelf, the hero reads the titles, but not the books themselves.
    • Averted in that there are several books with much more than one page, mostly lying aroung on tables.
  • Random Encounters: Averted. All enemies are visible on the game map.
  • Relationship Values: The "Malthurmeter" which can change how the Final Boss Battle plays out. Generally, good acts raise the meter while dickish acts lower it.
  • Save Point: You are allowed to save anywhere on the outside, but as soon as you enter a building or cave, saving is disabled and only possible at a few save points that can often be used only once.
  • Shout-Out: Plenty.
    • The Castle Düsterburg is full of portraits and NP Cs referencing classic vampire stories along with those of some other monsters.
    • Meanwhile, Wilhelm von Junzt's estate is filled with references to the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear: When Dankwart leaves the party without any previous notification.
    • Zig-Zagged with Roncarlo, whose equipment you eventually can get back, and Tarius, who can rejoin the party with the same equipment he had at his departure.
  • Standard RPG Items: Basically renamed versions of the default RPG Maker Items, which in turn were probably "inspired by" Final Fantasy VI.
  • Talk to Everyone: Several times, especially in the town of Düsterburg.
  • Team Pet: Julie, the dog.
  • The Cameo: Too many to count..., most of them are part of the German RPG Maker community.
  • There Are No Tents: But there are some opportunities to get a bed for free.
  • You All Look Familiar: Averted, each NPC has a different sprite.

Alternative Title(s):

Unterwegs In Duesterburg