Vampires Dawn is a series of German independent games by Alexander 'Marlex' Koch. The first installment, developed on the RPG Maker 2000 and released in 2001, is one of the most popular German RPG Maker games. Its English translation was finally released in 2012.The series comprises these installments:
Vampires Dawn: Reign of Blood: An RPG developed on the RPG Maker 2000 and released in 2001.
Vampires Dawn II: Ancient Blood: An RPG developed on the RPG Maker 2003 and released in 2005. It's a direct sequel to Reign of Blood.
Vampires Dawn: Elemental Mage: A Puzzle Game for mobile phones.
Vampires Dawn: Battle Towers: Another mobile phone game released in 2008.
The Vampires Dawn Browser Game
Vampires Dawn: The Crimson Realm: In September 2012 a crowd funding project was kicked off to fund the development of Vampires Dawn III. It ended up raising less than a third of the required money and has been put on ice for the moment.
A Novelization of Reign of Blood was published in October 2013. Marlex has since announced his plans to use his share of the profits to create a prototype of The Crimson Realm to submit to publishers or use for a second crowd funding project.
In a World where vampires used to roam the land freely and prey upon humans, a brave priest by the name of Vincent Weynard united humanity in a Holy Crusade, driving the bloodsucking monsters to near-extinction.Reign of Blood starts 400 years later with a young warrior named Valnar. His girlfriend Aysha gets captured and butchered by a mysterious stranger. Awakening from unconsciousness later, he is out for revenge. This makes him an easy target for the vampire Asgar, who seeks the blood of a human who slept with a vampire in order to revive the love of his life, a woman named Alaine, as a vampire with the help of a dark ritual.Valnar soon wakes up as a vampire himself. Asgar and Alaine introduce the fledgeling bloodsucker to his situation as one of the last remaining vampires in the world. Still dedicated to finding and avenging Aysha, Valnar convinces them to help him find out what really happened. And so, the three vampires venture forth into a world filled with monsters and strange people, solving mysteries and unraveling a net of intrigue and manipulation that goes far beyond the bizarre murder of Valnar's girlfriend.Depending on the player's choices regarding Valnar's nature and relationship with Alaine, the game provides four different endings.Ancient Blood picks up on the first game's Canon ending. It once again stars our Power Trio, but also features a new human protagonist, a young woman named Nyria, who was confronted with vampires at a painfully early age. Asgar ends up being possessed by a ghostlike being that was sealed inside an ancient spellbook. He is then forced to perform an immensely powerful World Sundering ritual which transforms the world into the state it was long before the Holy Crusade.The three vampires, now weakened, find themselves engaged in a three-way war over the dominance of nine castles in the world, whose dungeons each house one piece of a stone tablet that could create the most powerful spell in the world. Forced to either hire an army of mercenaries or create new vampires, they have to face both the Elras Mages, who created the tablet in the first place, and their eternal enemies, the Holy Clan Warriors, who attempt to prevent the tablet from being used. Meanwhile, Nyria is found by one of the Clan's warriors. Again, many questions are to be answered throughout the story and a net of betrayal and manipulative schemes make it difficult to trust anyone.The English version of Vampires Dawn: Reign of Blood can be downloaded for free here.Find the official German website here.
Tropes present in all Vampires Dawn games:
100% Completion: Checking the menu will tell the player how many secrets are hidden inside the game and how many have already been found. Even a hidden item inside the drawer of an NPC's house counts as a secret. Good luck finding all of them without a guide or the RPG Maker.
A lot of great equipment, including some of the Vampire Weapons, is available in forests, mountains, dungeons or several other areas that are accessible from the world map as soon as you get the Bat Spell. If the enemies there didn't cut you to pieces you'd be able to get some of the strongest weapons in the game very early on.
Similarly, the red Elras Chests are non-combat Beef Gates. One Vampire Shield is hidden in a chest in Asgar's own castle, but you're unable to open the chest until you have much higher intelligence stats.
Behind the Black: The characters should have no problem seeing the entrances of secret passageways in walls. But because it's a top-down RPG the player needs Valnar to cast a certain spell (in Reign of Blood) or develop a skill (in Ancient Blood) to have arrows indicate the entrances.
Being Evil Sucks: While playing the game as a total bad guy is a lot of fun, don't expect to get any satisfying ending out of it. Unless you're playing Ancient Blood on Hard Mode.
Being Good Sucks: A few quests are longer and more troublesome on the good route, more importantly, it means missing out on all the practical and financial goodies that evil players get, as well as some of the game's best lines.
Black and Grey Morality: While Good Valnar can try to keep human casualties limited, the vampires aren't exactly hesitant when it comes to killing or abusing humans. Asgar in particular loves it. Their enemies are usually worse, though. The Elras are an evil group, while the humans have a bit of a Knight Templar attitude.
Black Comedy: Asgar's favorite kind of humor. He even goes so far as to casually rank and criticize his victims' begging for their lives and screams of terror for originality or lack thereof.
Blood Magic: Though it is a subcategory of magic, technically, ALL vampire magic is this, since they cast it from their blood pool.
Broken Bridge: While the progressively stronger enemies from dungeon to dungeon may seem like Beef Gates, practically every chapter of the storyline has a point where you simply can't progress unless you've done everything in order.
You can enter Shadow Forest as soon as you've eavesdropped on the knight in Uruya's brothel, which can be done as soon as you get the Bat Spell. But you won't be able to open the door in the cave before you get the key in Tradan.
Given enough grinding and listening to the old couple in Limm, you could fight your way through Abraxas's lair in the mountains as early as you please. Only to be stopped by a magically locked door, the key for which you only obtain after fighting Molona.
You'll never be able to meet the cult in Asdion before talking to the vampire on the jungle island. The cult leader then provides you with the item you need to find Abraxas's tower – which you weren't even able to see before, let alone enter.
Boring, but Practical: Never underestimate the damage done by the simple "bleeding wound" effect that is caused by the basic, 0-blood-cost "Bite" attack on enemies. It stays the whole fight and the damage it inflicts scales with the target's HP, so even on high levels, it's a great way to bring down an enemy, particularly those with great offensive power that leave you little time for anything but healing.
The Cameo: The main characters of Dunkle Schatten, a previous Marlex game, show up briefly in Reign of Blood, and have a bigger cameo in Ancient Blood where The Hero of that game and his girlfriend celebrate their wedding, attended by the rest of the game's party members. Also, the protagonist of Unterwegs in Düsterburg has a cameo appearance in Thyrik in Ancient Blood.
Cannot Dream: Vampires don't dream. Ancient Blood turns this into a plot point when Valnar has strange visions at night.
Convection Schmonvection: The heroes aren't affected by fighting Molona in a cave full of lava at all, only noting once that it's getting warmer. Justified by them being vampires, as the issue is brought up much later in Ancient Blood again, where they once again visit a volcano and outright state that only their vampirism is keeping them from dying right then and there.
A sidequest in Ancient Blood requires you to rid one of roaming skeletons.
Cursed with Awesome: Vampirism is pretty awesome in this universe. If you're lucky to be part of the first, second or third generation (as our heroes are), there's pretty much none of the typical vampire weaknesses to fear, not even sunlight. See Our Vampires Are Different below.
The awesomeness soon vanishes from the fourth generation onward, though.
Damage Over Time: Walking in any desert without a cloak will have the characters lose HP every step they take.
Daywalking Vampire: All the earlier generations, as are our protagonists. As a third-generation vampire, Valnar finds the sun unpleasant, but can otherwise handle it. The fourth-generation vampires that show up in Ancient Blood can still survive it, but suffer a lot more under it, and it just gets worse from there on.
A Fate Worse Than Death: Vampires who die end up in the realm of Blood Wraiths, essentially an equivalent of hell specifically for blood-suckers where they suffer incredible physical pain just by being there, plus isolation, regret and madness for all eternity Well, until they are sucked up to become a power source for Elras magic, anyway. Asgar sums it up like this before killing the first game's Big Bad:
Asgar: You know what they say. Death is the end. But for a vampire, death is just the beginning... of eternal pain! *slice*
Good Is Impotent: The Royal Knights in the first game, the Holy Warrior Clan from the second.
Gorn: As much of it as possible in an RPG-Maker game. Well, it is a game about vampires.
Gradual Regeneration / Regenerating Health: As long as a character has at least one HP left, they will regenerate some HP every few seconds. How fast this happens depends on your healing rate, which can be increased by items or ghosts.
Reign of Blood allows you to learn summoning magic which lets you summon skeletons, golems and even a demon.
The fourth slot in ''Ancient Blood can be filled with any Redshirt serving in your army, i.e. a human mercenary, a vampire (out of six types), or a werewolf.
Haunted Castle: Used as the party's base of operations in both games. Asgar obtained it a long time ago by killing all the nobles within and turning them into undead guardians.
Healing Factor: Common to all vampires. As long as they have enough blood, it even works when they have fallen into torpor. In-game, this translates into regaining a few HP for every step you take. In Reign of Blood, Valnar could find some ghosts in the game that would improve the speed of this ability.
In Reign of Blood, the Demon Summon counts, but it is anything but a Bragging Rights Reward, being immensely useful for only the last few battles in the game.
The Doomblade is given to Valnar very early in Ancient Blood. It barely has more strength than a rusty sword, but thanks to its Magikarp Power, it can be upgraded by finding special runes all over the world, eventually becoming more powerful than the Vampire Blade once all runes have been installed.
Karma Meter: Humanity. It can be raised by doing quests and prevented from sinking by only feeding on bottled blood, animals or in battle, while doing lots of evil stuff like stealing people's souls, turning them into objects, sucking them dry or turning them into vampires decreases it.
If an NPC sees you attacking another NPC you can't leave the area until you've killed them.
Abraxas averting this trope by letting Valnar live after their first encounter becomes a plot point in Reign of Blood.
Level Grinding: Present in both games. It's generally expected to level the party up a bit more before going after the next plot objective. However, it's not quite as bad since doing quests also gives a lot of XP. Particularly the second game has a fairly steady level curve that reaches all the way to the level cap due to providing quests for all level groups and pointing out which level they are best approached at in the questlog. Of course, you can still attempt them earlier and possibly even succeeed if you understand the combat mechanics well enough.
Mana Meter: Works in typical RPG fashion. In these games, mana represents the vampires' blood. Casting spells costs blood points, and if they suck an enemy for blood their mana meter fills up accordingly. If their mana/blood points fall below a certain percentage they will go berserk.
The Masquerade: People think vampires are extinct since the Holy Crusade. If you do anything obviously vampiric in public, the game will not let you progress until you kill all witnesses. In the second game, if you do that on an open street, bounty hunters will be put onto you. In addition, vampires have several abilities to help them stay unnoticed lore-wise, such as an illusionary aura that makes them seem warm to the touch, hides their fangs etc.
Multiple Endings: Reign of Blood provides five different ones, depending on whether or not Valnar had a high humanity score and how nice he was to his would-be Love Interest. The fifth ending depends on whether or not a certain sidequest was finished and is basically a Sequel Hook version of the canon ending. Ancient Blood had six endings; one for good and one for evil for each of the three difficulty levels. Obviously, the descriptions below include heaviest spoilers!
Reign of Blood:
Evil/Alone: Being the last vampire in the world, Valnar decides to become an Evil Overlord and conquer the world. His attacks are deadly and efficient and the resulting despair causes humans to rally behind a brave young man who declares a new Holy Crusade against vampires.
Evil/With Alaine: Valnar and Alaine become a couple. Being the last vampires in the world, they decide to make new vampires and rule over humanity. However, eventually a conflict breaks out between them and they kill each other.
Good/Alone: Valnar, as the last vampire in the world, decides to commit Heroic Suicide to wipe out vampirekind once and for all, believing humanity to be better off for it.
Good/With Alaine: The canon ending. Valnar and Alaine become a couple and settle down among humans, following a Friendly Neighbourhood Vampire philosophy. They turn a girl named Jaina into a vampire to become their "daughter". If Strife the thief is alive by this point, this creates the plot bridge to Ancient Blood.
Good/Easy: Valnar resists possession by Morlon. Our vampire trio defeats the Elras and, after some hesitation, they use the stone tablet. The spell returns them to their own world and basically fixes everything that went wrong, such as bringing Nyria back home. Asgar forsakes his claims on Alaine and instead surrounds himself with a harem of vampire ladies in his castle, while Valnar and Alaine return to live among humans.
Evil/Easy: Valnar is possessed by Morlon and sides with the Elras. Alaine and Asgar defeat the evil trio, but fall into a conflict over whether or not to use the tablet. The tablet is broken and the two become warlords, creating new vampires and taking up positions in castles, warring each other for all eternity. Meanwhile, Valnar is stuck in the realm of Blood Wraiths with Jaina.
Good/Medium: Valnar resists possession by Morlon. The vampire trio kills the Elras, but while Alaine and Valnar decide not to use the tablet, Asgar wants to, forcing them to kill him. Thinking it's not worth the risk using it, Valnar and Alaine return to Asgar's castle and live there from then on. However, Morlon within Valnar has survived and as Valnar's willpower weakens, the Elras within him awakens one night and he beheads Alaine.
Evil/Medium: Valnar is possessed by Morlon and sides with the Elras. They completely wipe out vampires and the remains of the Clan. The Bad Guy Wins. Using the stone tablet, the Elras turn the entire world into their mad laboratory, hoarding humans like cattle to kill them in crazy experiments or just for fun. And yes, this involves the phrase: "Well, do we still have some infants left we could blow up?"
Good/Hard: Valnar resists possession by Morlon. The vampire trio kills the Elras, but Asgar cannot accept Valnar and Alaine's love for one another and tries to kill them, being subsequently slain himself. The two attempt to use the tablet to return to their own home. If Nyria is still alive by this point, she will attempt to stop them, being killed in the process. Valnar and Alaine arrive back in their own world, but Morlon is still strong within Valnar and he falls into a coma, struggling against the ghost. Alaine brings him home to their village house and refuses to feed so she can stay at his side until he wakes up. Days and weeks pass and eventually, Alaine's vampiric body falls into a blood frenzy, she slaughters and burns the whole village. Deciding she can only be with Valnar Together in Death now, she sets their house on fire, then lies down next to him in their bed. Naturally, Valnar does awaken from his coma the very moment before the burning roof comes down, killing them both.
Evil/Hard: Valnar is possessed by Morlon and sides with the Elras. They kill Asgar and Alaine. Except Valnar wasn't really possessed. He just allowed Morlon to take control because that allowed him to bypass the rule that vampires cannot kill their sires, allowing him to take revenge on his two "friends" for turning him into their vampire-slave. He forces Morlon out by sheer force of will and kills the Elras leaders. He then attempts to use the tablet. If Nyria is still alive, she will attempt to stop him and die. The tablet sends Valnar back in time during various events. He meets Asgar just as he is about to turn him into a vampire and kills him. Time is sent further back to a feast in his hometown where he first met his vampire-girlfriend Aysha/Molana. He shoos her away this time and meets a nice young woman on the feastgrounds who becomes his future wife. This eventually results in The Reveal that this variant of Valnar became the Grandfather telling the story.
Aysha would've been fine in Reign of Blood had they just removed the sword and waited for her to regain consciousness. But since Valnar demands Asgar's spell, they end up having to kill the Ax-Crazy monster she becomes.
Turns out that simple iron bars aren't enough to keep one of the three Elras leaders imprisoned in Ancient Blood. Or to keep him from rampaging inside your castle afterwards, killing your trusted servant.Great idea, you three!
A rather literal example is the stone tablet in the second game. It broke, when Aaron tried to use it, and the whole world broke, when Ustra tried it again.
Off with His Head!: The only trustworthy way a vampire can be killed permanently. Everything else, he will just fall into torpor until his body has fully healed him, provided he has enough blood. Being Impaled with Extreme Prejudice in the heart is instantly paralyzing, though.
Our Souls Are Different: Every enemy, no matter what kind, leaves a soul when he's defeated. In the first game, they can be traded for status upgrades, in the second for magic spells.
Our Vampires Are Different: A vampire's strengths and weaknesses depend on their generation. Valnar is a vampire of the third generation and automatically weaker than his Vampire Dad Asgar, who's a vampire of the second generation. The creation of the first generation of vampires is a major plot point in Reign of Blood.
They don't need to sleep in coffins, but it helps them regain health faster. They aren't affected by crosses, daylight, running water, rules of hospitality, and can choose whether or not to turn a human into a vampire when they bite them. A stake through the heart will "only" instantly paralyze them.
Serious downsides do exist though. If they lose all their blood (which translates to mana points in-game), they go berserk. If they lose all HP, they don't die but go into torpor instead until they're fed blood and start regaining HP again. The only way to kill a vampire permanently is to chop off their head. They then suffer A Fate Worse Than Death in the realm of Blood Wraiths where they're in constant agonizing pain.
Random Encounters: Played straight in the first game, averted in the second for most of the world, where enemies are visible on the map, but played straight for the World Map.
Red Eyes, Take Warning: All vampires gain red eyes upon transformation. The red part increases in size if they are possessed by Shadow Ghosts.
Re Write: One of the rules first established by the Grandfather, that a vampire's mouth must be filled with garlic after they're decapitated or they'll resurrect, is completely ignored after that establishment scene for the rest of both games.
Save Game Limits: Vampires Dawn is rather infamous for making saving possible only at certain plot moments or with one-use Saving Stones, presumably to prevent Save Scumming. However, an infinitely durable Saving Crystal can be obtained in both games, in the first it is the reward for the New Game+, in the second, it can be obtained with a special code at the "cheat tree" in the castle garden (or by choosing Easy difficulty).
Spider-Sense: Vampires have a neat little ability that manifests in skulls appearing in the corner of the screen. It tells them when enemies in a region are too strong for them and can also warn them of particularly strong individuals (i.e. bosses).
Standard Status Effects: Blindness, silence, berserk, confusion, sleep, petrification and poison work pretty much the way you expect. Additionally, bleeding makes the vampires lose blood/mana points every turn, sickness has them lose HP and blood both inside and outside of battle, and curse halves all of the character's stats and can only be healed when they enter one of the few churches in the game.
When the Crypt of Tradan starts collapsing, an invisible timer starts running and unless the party makes it out of the dungeon in time, it's game over. Luckily, the dungeon isn't a complicated maze and the timer doesn't count down during battles.
After getting the spell from Alyda at the beginning of Ancient Blood, Asgar must hurry back to the cave where Valnar and Alaine are Taken for Granite before a passerby smashes them to pieces.
Also in Ancient Blood, Alaine has a limited amount of time to return to the starting point of the realm of the Blood Wraiths before her soul is assimilated.
Unstoppable Rage: Vampires who don't have enough blood anymore will fall into a frenzy. Subverts the actual trope in that they don't become much stronger. They also can't be controlled by the player anymore and only attack with the default weapon attack command.
Vegetarian Vampire: Vampires can survive on animal blood. Most of the vampires who survived the Holy Crusade did exactly that to remain hidden. Unfortunately, human blood tastes a lot better.
Video Game Cruelty Punishment: A few. The more villagers you kill in Ancient Blood, the less taxes you receive. Also, early on, bounty hunters will probably tear you apart if you're seen. Most importantly, there's only a single evil ending in the series that could be called satisfying.
Voluntary Shapeshifting: All vampires eventually learn to turn into a bat and a wolf, though the wolf form was absent from the second game. Asgar also was born with the ability to turn into mist, which he was unable to regain in the second game.
Blatant Lies: When the narrator says that Asgar and Abraxas have never met before.
Boring, but Practical: "Time Distortion" isn't a flashy spell that helps you fight enemies. But it's incredibly convenient not having to wait for nightfall to see ghosts or suck humans for blood.
Chekhov's Gun: The inability of vampires to attack their sires is used as the reason Valnar can't defend himself against Asgar. It comes back later when the trio fights Asgar's sire Abraxas.
Collapsing Lair: One of the main storyline dungeons, the Crypt of Tradan, starts collapsing and your party must flee before an invisible timer runs out.
Curse: One sidequest in Uruya involves a witch who cursed a man with eternal loneliness.
Cutscene Power to the Max: Asgar's ability to read minds and walk through walls could probably become handy to the player. He only uses it in a few cutscenes. The latter is justified by saying that he'd have to leave the other two behind. There's no excuse for his lack of mindreading.
Difficulty Spike: The Crypt of Tradan can provide this if the player goes there as soon as the story allows it, without doing any sidequests or exploring other parts of the map. Especially since this is the first storyline dungeon where none of the random encounters can be sucked for blood. Blood potions become a necessity to not run out of mana points.
Disproportionate Retribution: While exploring the Lava Cave in Shadow Forest you encounter a group of royal knights trying to open a locked door. For the heinous crimes of interrupting them and being kind of rude they try to kill you. Just look at the dialog.
Knight: What are you doing here? We are doing a knight's investigation right now... Go away!
Asgar: Well, we are also looking for something...
Knight: That doesn't interest me in the least! Get lost, or we are going to execute you in the name of the king!
Valnar: In the name of the king? We don't care about the king!
Alaine: YOU should better get lost!
Knight: That's it! In the name of King Gerald, we are now imposing the death penalty on you!
Really 700 Years Old: Most vampires of course, but Reign of Blood provides the special twist that this applies to Alaine as well, despite the fact that she became a vampire at around the same time Valnar did.
A Real Man Is a Killer: A real vampire, according to Asgar anyway. He forces Valnar to face a "baptism of fire" in Melsan.
Summon Magic: Vampires in the first game have the ability to temporarily summon a creature in exchange for souls. This includes Dem Bones, golems and a demon. They usually stay in the team just long enough for one fight.
Unproblematic Prostitution: The brothel in Uruya looks like a quite enjoyable place. With the exeption of some obvious sexism, but Uruya isn't the worst place for women in the Vampires Dawn world.
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: You get a spell which allows you to instantly teleport to your castle and back. Not one NPC notices it, even if you do it right in front of their eyes. Nobody seems to care about the sudden nightfall or sunrise your Time Distortion spell causes either. Of course, there are regular mages in this world, so it's not like it proves you to be a vampire or anything.
Near the end of the game, this becomes ridiculous if you use the spell before the fight against the Big Bad who normally punishes you for trying to run away.
0% Approval Rating: Averting this trope is the reasoning behind conquering the castles in not the corresponding cities. The people in this game aren't Apathetic Citizens and you need calm and happy tax payers after all.
A Taste of Power: Nyria's first playable fights have her around level 20, while the vampire trio is still somewhere around level 5. There is also the fact that Valnar and Alaine start the game off at level 50 and with a few spells, but you never get into any fights before they lose those powers.
Chekhov's Gunman: At the beginning of Ancient Blood, the Elras talk to an entity called Morlon several times without making it clear who they mean. In the end it is revealed that it is the third Elras leader, whose Shadow Ghost has been lying dormant within Valnar.
Children Are Innocent: Alaine refuses to let you turn kids into vampires. Killing them is just fine, though.
Coldblooded Torture: That torture chamber in Asgar's castle isn't just for decoration. Conquering some of the castles results in getting a prisoner who you're required to torture in order to get valuable information on Plot Coupons and secret locations.
Curb-Stomp Battle: The Holy Warrior Clan doesn't stand a chance against the Elras and loses their castles in a very bloody fashion.
Demonic Possession: The three leaders of the Elras Mages magically modified their souls to become "Shadow Ghosts" so they could travel freely and possess new bodies. They can only leave their host when it dies, though. Which makes vampires ideal hosts, since their bodies already are dead, so they can leave at any time.
Difficulty Levels: Easy, Normal and Hard. Of special note because of how many things they affect. It's not just the difficulty of fights, but also how saving is possible, blockades for spending skill points, riddles and hurdles...some quests might even have an entirely different course depending on the difficulty level. For instance: At one point, the trio find themselves in front of a secret door that won't open. On Easy, Valnar will simply fiddle with the door a bit more and it will open automatically. On Normal, they find a special spot that could open the door if some long object was inserted. So you explore the cave they're in a bit and find a long stick that can be used to open the door. On Hard, the slot is still there, but there's no stick in sight. Instead, you find a miniboss in the cave, whom you have to beat in order to use his trident to reach the spot.
Dirty Coward: Several humans once you make your intentions clear.
Disk One Nuke: You can find a magic sword in the very first cave you enter. Subverted since Asgar destroys it the instant you meet him again.
Disposable Sex Worker: The girl in the brothel near Ghardon Valnar has sex with to get the blood for a spell they need to perform.
Drama-Preserving Handicap: The protagonists only create relatively weak 4th generation vampires for their army instead of the much more powerful 2nd generation vampires they could create if they wanted to, since the former present a lesser threat to their masters and the world.
Easy-Mode Mockery: Bizarrely inverted. The endings tend more and more to the cynical side as difficulty increases, with the Good/Easy ending being happy to the point of appearing like a Fix Fic, while the Good/Difficult ending is downright depressing. (Actually, most of the endings are. As seen under Multiple Endings above, Good/Easy is the only one where none of the four main characters die.)
Played straight however, in that the Evil/Difficult ending is a Crowning Moment Of Awesome, featuring The Hero soloing and backstabbing everyone, then travelling back in time to prevent him ever becoming a vampire, then followed by The Reveal.
A really odd example occurs early on in the same game, where Asgar and Nyria team up. Surprisingly, they work rather well together. What makes it unusual is that they don't know yet that they're enemies.
Kill the Ones You Love: A recurring theme of Ancient Blood. Valnar has to kill Alaine to allow her to investigate the realm of Blood Wraiths, Alaine has to kill Valnar if he is possessed by Morlon, Raron has to kill his best friend in self-defense...
Knight in Shining Armor: What the Holy Warrior Clan sees itself as. In particular Nyria's supposed Love Interest Asmos. True to the world's dark tone, they all end up helplessly butchered by vampires and Elras.
Level Drain: Justified. The vampires start the game at the max level of the previous game and with a set of spells. Then a possessed Asgar drains Valnar and Alaine of all their power to fuel his ritual. When that isn't enough, he does the same to his own body as well.
MacGuffin: The stone tablet. Everybody wants it, it drives the plot forward, the heroes assemble its pieces, but the spell that's engraved in it doesn't have any bearing on the plot or its outcome. At all. The effect of the spell even changes from ending to ending.
Mistaken for Junkie: Three citizens of Melsan survived the World Sundering. Their talks of a white light and an unknown city lead everyone to believe they've consumed mushrooms and they're put into prison in Rynik.
Modular Epilogue: Small snippets of the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue describe the fate of every quest-giving NPC you encountered. Some of them have more than four different possible versions, depending on whether or not you completed the quest, killed the character before or after completing the quest, killed one of their loved ones or let everyone live.
No Man Should Have This Power: Some people believe that the ancient Elras tablet needs to be destroyed for this very reason. For example, this attitude is what gets Asmos's father Agaleo killed by Sir Aaron.
No Peripheral Vision: The skeletons which protect Asgar's castle in the interactive prolog only detect an intruder when he moves in or out of their line of sight.
One-Hit Kill: Nyria's signature move is a knife throw targeted at enemy vital spots. Unlike typical examples, it has an awfully good hit rate and no disadvantages other than that you'll have wasted a turn if it doesn't hit, since Nyria has no mana or blood points to begin with. It actually works pretty damn well in battle, so it's anything but a Useless Useful Spell.
One True Sequence: Despite its openness and the fact that it doesn't have nearly as many Broken Bridges as the first one, the game still expects you to explore the dungeons in a certain order, usually from easiest to hardest. It's not quite Sequence Breaking, as it doesn't allow you to skip parts of the game, but in some scenes the characters might apply knowledge which they only learn in a later cutscene.
After Jinnai explains how to use runes to create spells, he tells you about the magical barriers to the dungeons and the keys you need to unlock them. But you can conquer Castle Ardos and capture one of their mages before that. If you torture the mage, the vampires will request the location of the keys despite not knowing about them yet.
Similarly, the plot expects you to visit the pyramid before you torture Gorgoth. During this torture scene, the vampire trio talks about how they know that vampires make perfect hosts for shadow ghosts. If you visit the pyramid after this scene, this piece of information is suddenly a shocking revelation.
The Only One: After losing their castle and surviving the World Sundering Valnar and Alaine decide they need to stop who's responsible for this on the basis of being the only ones who can.
Ontological Mystery: Definately takes the series into such a direction, with the heroes stranded in a strange new world, a much deeper exploration of vampirism and the reasons behind many of its curious traits, as well as a segmented reveal behind the backstory of the world and the events of the first game.
Parents in Distress: Nyria's mother had to be saved from a vampire by her daughter, who was just a girl at that time.
Production Throwback: In Thyrik in Ancient Blood, Valnar and Alaine can come upon a couple of portraits in one of the houses. They laugh at the silly, deformed artstyle, but also find it kind of cute since it reminds them of themselves. What do these portraits show? Their in-game map sprites from the first game.
Psychological Torment Zone: Valnar gets trapped inside his own mind and tries to escape the maze in front of him. At almost every intersection he's confronted with a tormenting vision of his regrets and worst fears. This includes Aysha telling him she never loved him, and Alaine returning to Asgar's side.
Quest for Identity: A small but significant portion of the plot is devoted to Alaine's quest to find out who she was before her memory loss and what kind of person she used to be.
"Rashomon"-Style: The cutscene of the Elras losing the tablet and eventually getting killed is shown many times in flashback, but the story is told by a different character each time. The versions differ, to say the least.
Samus Is a Girl: The thief the trio chases from Syrahs to Mesdor wears a hood and is always referred to with male pronouns. "He" turns out to be female.
Sealed Evil in a Can: The three Elras leaders's Shadow Ghosts were sealed into their own magic book by Pharaoh Ustra.
Ship Tease: Nyria has some with Asmos, and maybe a little bit with Asgar during their strange little teamup.
Skill Scores And Perks: The party can use souls to develop a set of 18 skills, such as picking locks, getting a better Healing Factor, improving the blood yield when biting people and monsters, receiving more tax money, or learning ancient languages. Every skill can be upgraded twice, so there are 54 skills points in total. On Normal and Hard Mode though, the number of skill points than can be distributed is limited. However, by finding one of the very hidden Children of the Apocalypse leaders, the vampires can gain access to a magical device that lets them create more skill points by spending gathered souls.
So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear: During the short period Nyria and Asgar work together, you can equip her anything you have in your inventory. Since the segment is near the beginning, that isn't much on a normal playthrough, in New Game+ however, you can equip her with some of the best gear the game has to offer (which she normally has no access to), making it easy to rush through her story parts.
Taken for Granite: Valnar and Alaine early in the second game. They get better thanks to Asgar.
Time Travel: Averted. Even though the world changed to how it was several hundreds or thousands of years ago, it's clearly stated that it's still the present.
Unstable Equilibrium: Mercenaries are a lot cheaper when Valnar's level is below 10, so a player who starts buying mercs and conquering castles very early receives even more tax money, buys even more mercs and conquers even more castles. Leveling up too fast will increase mercenary prices exponentially, make conquering castles harder and you'll receive less taxes which makes it even harder to buy mercs, especially on hard mode.
In New Game+ you usually can conquer the whole world as soon as the castle fight becomes available, leaving you with even more money through taxes.
Weapon of Choice: The mercenaries and vampire companions one can pick up have weapon preferences. Mercenaries use sabers, the Vampire Warrior uses swords, the Vampire Mage uses staves, the Vampire Lord uses maces. Werewolves use their claws.