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Video Game / Anvil of Dawn

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Anvil of Dawn is a Western RPG for PC, developed by DreamForge and published by New World Computing in 1995.

The plot is simple: the armies of the evil Warlord have overrun the world of Tempest, and you are being teleported behind the enemy lines from the last besieged castle of the Lady, ruler of Tempest, on a desperate mission to kill the Warlord or destroy the source of his power, before the last bastion falls.

The game contains examples of:

  • And I Must Scream: The game seems disturbingly fond of this trope.
    • The people from the Underground City angered the Warlord by trying to defend themselves. As a punishment, their blood was drained out and turned into non-humanoid blood golems, and the rest of their bodies mutated into pools of body parts crawling along the floor that attack wielding their own bones as clubs. It's hinted that they're mindless monsters, although it's possible that they went insane from the experience.
    • The monks of the Temple of the Moon were fused into monsters of Flesh and Void magic. The main body is composed entirely of their faces constantly screaming in anguish. When it attacks, the faces stretch even more grotesquely.
    • The Gorge Keep commander got a relatively mild fate of being frozen in a giant cube of ice... awake and fully aware of his condition, mind you. You can free him by thawing the ice with a magical ember.
    • Then, there's some random Tempest soldier who was brought to Iron Titan and enlarged to giant size inside a tight space to serve as a living door for three stories. Every time the Warlord's men wanted do get past, they would temporarily shrink one third of his body, a process that is apparently very painful. A big puzzle of the area is how to free him.
    • There's also a player-inflicted variant. At one point you need a hero's soul to craft the coffer to contain the Dark Slag, and the only way to carry this soul is by trapping it in a mystical inescapable prison called a "ghost house". It's mandatory to trap one ghost, and two if you want the best armor in the game, but you can trap three if you feel like being a prick.
  • Back from the Brink: At the start of the game, the forces of good are holed up in the last castle, and it's already under siege. By the endgame, the bad guys are completely beaten back and in full retreat, thanks in no small part to the sheer amount of their ranks that the player slaughtered.
  • Came from the Sky: That's how the Dark Slag arrived in the Desolation, as shown in the introduction.
  • Cave Behind the Falls: "Waterfall Hidden Cave" is a very small location halfway through the game, a Breather Level. Here you can rest or store items (some locations crash if you carry too many). Also, there's an NPC of minor importance that teaches you a spell.
  • Crapsack World: Judging by all the death and misery, Tempest ruled by the Warlord isn't exactly a nice place to live.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: If you play with any character other than Brice, halfway through the game you'll meet Brice crucified like St.Andrew — on an X cross. He tells you he failed the mission and dies.
  • Despair Event Horizon: the other heroes, if they aren't killed outright, end up broken by the events and renounce their quest.
  • The Dragon: The Castellan is Dragon to the Warlord. Since you don't fight the Warlord, the Castellan is more or less the Final Boss, despite being one dungeon early.
  • Evil Overlord: The Warlord, who serves as the Big Bad of the game.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Clansmen wear kilts and have distinct Scottish accents.
  • Faux First Person 3D: Inside locations (like cities and dungeons), where you spend most of the game. The roads connecting them use single prerendered images, and the ability to turn varies — the directions aren't necessarily orthogonal, and often there's fewer than four.
  • Fisher King: According to the intro, in the lands conquered by the Warlord, "rivers turn to mud, grass withers, trees bend and the dead rise to fight against [the good guys]". It's explained by his possession of the Dark Slag, an artifact that twists and corrupts everything around it.
  • It May Help You on Your Quest: around the midway point, a character will offer his help in the form of an item. Said item is the Hallowed Wreath of Elder Leaves, which... transports the wearer's corpse to a safe place upon death. As the player character snarkingly puts it, this is only useful to not give your enemies a head they could put on a pike. Turns out it's necessary, in conjunction with Soul Link (an auto-revive spell) to achieve the best ending, since the player is required to jump into the Anvil of Dawn, which destroys anything that drops in it; the Hallowed Wreath takes the player's body out of the Anvil so he can be revived.
  • Mini-Boss: The Messengers function as field commanders for the Big Bad, and they're a cut above the rest of his forces even later on. You fight about seven throughout the game. There's also a tougher, recolored Wither Priest guarding the key to the Castellan's hall.
  • Multiple Endings: The game has four endings:
    • Bad ending: If you decide to join the Warlord, he kills you on the spot. It's more of a glorified Game Over than anything.
    • "Sad" ending: If you jump into the Anvil of Dawn while holding onto the coffer without prior preparation. You die, but the Dark Slag is destroyed, the Warlord is defeated and a monument is erected in memory of all five heroes, as no one knows which of them was you.
    • Good ending: If you cast Soul Link and equip the Hallowed Wreath of Elder Leaves before jumping, the Dark Slag is still destroyed and the Warlord is defeated, but you survive, meet back with the Lady's forces, and are proclaimed the greatest hero in the history of Tempest, while the Warlord and what remains of his forces beats a full retreat.
    • "Fail" ending: If you just throw the coffer into the Anvil of Dawn, it lands on a rocky ledge, the Warlord teleports it back to his fortress and then kills you on the spot. Again, more of a glorified Game Over than a proper ending.
  • Multiple Head Case: Jinks and Bertol, a two-headed and three-legged giant guarding a bridge connecting the reed plains to the rest of Desolation. Jinks is stupid and pleasant while Bertol is smarter and surly. After Bertol aggravates Jinks enough, the latter ends up knocking the former unconscious; this has no effect on Bertol's side of the body.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Daganoth, one of the selectable characters, is a member of the Always Chaotic Evil race of mirelurks, and the only one of them who doesn't serve the Warlord.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Zig-zagged.
    • Averted early on: while trying to get past the gargoyle in the basement of the Dark Lantern, you can point out that the mage who summoned him as a guardian is now dead. The gargoyle says he's pleased to hear that, but he's still bound by the summons, which you have to break yourself before you can get past him.
    • Played straight in the ending: after the Dark Slag is destroyed, the damage done by the Warlord is reversed.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: The Braid Stone enemies, as said in the manual. They're not evil or even sided with the Warlord, but they're very territorial.
  • One-Man Army: The Player Character clears out entire sections of the map by him/herself. By the end of the game, you're likely to have annihilated the Warlord's entire occupation force, including an entire regiment that was winning a fight in the Barrier's frontlines.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Almost to the degree of exaggeration. No matter how long you take adventuring and tearing his entire army asunder, the Warlord doesn't lift a finger. No reinforcements to areas you haven't yet gone to, no personal appearances, nothing. He only appears at the very final area, and even then he won't do more than attempt to convince you with a lame "I'm invincible" spielnote , which if you do the obvious and don't give in to, he won't even try to fight you. We are talking about a warrior that can One-Hit Kill the player regardless of level or equipment here, as shown if you do give in to his bullshit.
  • Stat Grinding: You improve your abilities by using them and casting spells. Using spell figurines counts for magic grinding.
  • Static Role, Exchangeable Character: "Protagonist". At the start of the game, you pick one of five heroes to play. You meet the other four at various points, struggling to complete the same quest as yourself.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: The Black Gnarl suddenly starts to sing while crafting the coffer. It's a catchy one, too.
  • The Unfought: You don't actually get to fight the Warlord in the end. Either you give up the fight and he instakills you, or he doesn't even move to fight you if you stay determined to destroy his source of power, the Dark Slag.
  • We Can Rule Together: At the very end of the game Warlord offers to make you his general if you return the Dark Slag and pledge loyalty to him. Accept it, and he just kills you.