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Video Game / Betrayal in Antara

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From left: William, Aren, and Kaelyn
Betrayal in Antara is a computer Western RPG developed and published by Sierra in 1997. It is a Creator-Driven Successor to Betrayal at Krondor. It is based on the same game engine, but Sierra had lost the rights to use Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar world, so Antara takes place in a new world.

Outside of a small village, Aren Cordelaine, the son of an innkeeper, fishes, dreaming of far-away lands and adventures. Suddenly, he hears a strange noise, and rushes down to the beach to investigate, where he sees a noble trying to fight off a griffon while another man lies on the sand. Trying to help out, he ends up accidentally blasting the monster to ash. The dying man presses a strange medallion into the hand of the noble, and says his last word, "Consort." The noble introduces himself as William Escobar, youngest son of Lord Escobar. He offers to take Aren to his hometown so that he can apprentice under the family mage and learn how to control his newly-discovered magic. Aren agrees. Soon after, they help Kaelyn Usher fight off bandits in the woods, and she joins the other two to settle her debt with them as they try find a teacher for Aren and discover what has put the Imperial Consort in danger.

Like Krondor, Antara takes place over nine chapters. The game has a first-person perspective while exploring the 3D world, and a third-person perspective during battles. Combat is turn-based and takes place on a hexagonal grid. At the beginning and end of each chapter, there is a voiced cutscene which is told through text and pictures in a book.

As it is based on Krondor's engine, Antara keeps many of the gameplay mechanics. There are no experience points or levels; instead, characters gain points in a skill by using it. For example, a character improve the melee skill by using melee weapons. Spells do not use MP; instead, any spells cast use their caster's health/stamina points, although unlike Krondor, spells are studied over time instead of being learned through scrolls. In addition, the game utilizes some unorthodox RPG elements, such as day/night cycles, including simulation of light levels, puzzle-lock chests, and even a food system.

It can be picked up at GOG - along with ''Krondor'' - for $5.99.

Betrayal in Antara provides examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Aren, Kaelyn and Khorus on the Aerith side, William and Scott on the Bob side.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Which hand a weapon is held in depends on which way a character is facing.
  • Anti-Grinding: Practicing skills raises their values, but only up to a certain cap. This cap increases in later chapters. One-time raises can increase a skill beyond the cap, but practice cannot.
    • A subtler version exists in battle as well. While characters can level multiple skills in a single battle, each skill can only gain one skill point per battle. No matter how much you practice a skill you will not be able to raise it after that first skill gain in the fight. Of course, considering the length of most fights and the tendency to try to end them quickly before enemies escape, it's hard to notice this unless you're intentionally trying to grind. Keep in mind there are a limited number of battles per chapter, so it's not always easy to just go find another fight to grind at.
      • It's still possible to grind multiple points from a given opponent, though it's kind of a cheat. If you retreat from a battle, the opponents you ran from will still exist in the world. You can then re-enter the battle you just retreated from and have it count as a new battle. Grind a point, retreat, renter the battle, and grind another point. Rinse and repeat. Still, about the only trait that anyone could possible have reason to want to grind like this is spell accuracy if they went half the game without using it, only to realize all their new powerful spells require it and their aim still sucks.
      • Both of these Anti-Grinding tricks were put in due to the ease of grinding in the spiritual predecessor Betrayal at Krondor. In that game you could theoretically go from 1 to 100 in any skill in a single battle. Find a foe that won't retreat, weaken him to lower his accuracy, and then defend for 30 minutes while he fails to hit you and your defense will be high enough to make you untouchable for a large section of the game. It was pretty easy to trivialize combat with even a little grinding effort.
  • Arranged Marriage: William, for political reasons. Neither he nor the bride is very enthused about the idea.
  • Bag of Sharing: Averted. Only money and food are shared between companions.
  • Betting Mini-Game: In some of the inns and taverns, you can find gamblers. Your chance of winnning depends on a character's gambling skills, and if your luck is good (or you save and reload a bunch) you can clean the gambler's purse out.
  • Big Bad: Silver Hawk, a.k.a. Fellich Marr, the head of the Church of Henne and one of the Emperor's closest advisors. Seeing the Imperial Consort, Prince Farril of Chail, as an opportunity to assassinate the Emperor and install his daughter, Princess Aurora, as a more malleable ruler, Silver Hawk sent his trusted agent, Petrov, to manipulate two others into doing the dirty deed - Selana Sheffield and the Sheffield court mage Calvert Bryce. With the help of the Shepherds, Selana kidnapped the Consort and and plotted to ransom him back to Chail as one of her misguided attempts to keep the Sheffield family afloat. Using this window of opportunity, Bryce placed a Wraith within the Consort. This Wraith remained hidden until the Consort was face-to-face with the Emperor, at which time it rose out and attacked. Unfortunately, the Princess interposed herself between the Wraith and her father, causing her soul to be stolen instead.
  • Blatant Lies: (Almost) Every story in the Liar's Festival. Picking any of the storytellers as the most impressive liar in town gets you the props of their story as a reward. One of the prop sets is the best shield and second best sword (which never degrades in quality) in the game.
  • Bow and Sword in Accord: Both William and Kaelyn.
  • Breakable Weapons: Not quite. Weapons (except staves and one specific sword) and armor degrade with use, becoming less effective. They can be repaired with whetstones, beeswax, and armorer's hammers, depending on the kind. Shields, however, cannot be repaired.
    • Except as a possible reward for a sidequest that's so early in the game that it doesn't matter.
  • Broken Bridge: The bridges aren't so much broken as blocked by guards or protesting masons.
    • And in one incident, blown up.
    • However, in a way this trope is often quasi-averted. Most broken bridges are actually represented by the main characters saying something along the lines of "we don't have any business that way" and refusing to travel any further away from their goals, removing the need to justify broken bridges with assorted thin justifications for why they physically couldn't travel that far.
      • Though limiting the characters to a large section of the game world at a time brings in a bit of Fridge Logic. Why are the characters willing to travel a few weeks in the wrong direction to go to one out of the way town, but then arbitrarily refuse to travel any further in the same direction? They are surprisingly willing to take the scenic route for people who complain about having a mission to complete.
  • Cast from Stamina: Being the Creator-Driven Successor of Betrayal at Krondor, there's a similar system of stamina and health points in place, with mages casting from stamina until they are forced to switch to Cast From Hitpoints. However, the game goes a step further by making in-battle healing via resting or magic healing only restore stamina, not health. This really doesn't help Aren's Squishy Wizard tendencies.
  • Cheat Code: A couple. Among the most notable: entering "whyamisodull" buffs all of your stats in addition to giving access to some of the game's best items, and using "somecallmetim" in battle instantly kills all the enemies.
  • Chess Master: Silverhawk. He manages to keep his very existence secret until the last chapter.
  • Deadpan Snarker: William, mostly, though Kaelyn gets some pretty spectacular one-liners too.
  • Disk One Nuke: One of the earliest spells Aren can learn is a lightning bolt that is guaranteed to hit anyone wielding metal. It does almost as much (or more) damage as the best early ranged attacks but for a fraction of the health cost, and unlike the rest it doesn't miss. Most players will find themselves eagerly utilizing this shockingly effective spell often in the start of the game. Sadly, since it does a set amount of damage, its utility drops a little later in the game where 40 damage just isn't as impressive.
    • Overreliance on this ability can come back to hurt you, as it will prevent Aren from increasing his spell accuracy during the early game, you know, since it always hits. In the later part of the game the ranged attack spells are much stronger, but if you never leveled Aren's accuracy in the early game, your powerful range spells will miss often.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Bryce abetted in the attempted murder of the Emperor in order to publicly embarrass the Shadows, who ordered him to cease his dangerous experiments into magical travel within Etherea.
  • Drunken Song: There are three different drinking songs, each of which has four verses. You can find people singing one verse of one song in many of the taverns/inns in the game.
  • Enemy Scan: The characters can see what spell effects are on the enemy and how high some of their skills are. How many skills they can assess at once depends on their Assessment skill and how far away the enemy is.
  • Expy: Aren - the blond, inexperienced, apprentice magician kid who's a foil to an older and more cynical character - bears more than a passing resemblance to Owyn Beleforte from Betrayal at Krondor.
  • Fantastic Racism: Against the Grrlf, and two-way with the Montari, Mehrat, and Chuman.
  • Flaming Sword: Done with lit oil, and it only lasts for one battle.
  • Foreign Queasine: At one point, you meet a mole-man NPC who likes raw lizard guts. When the PC expresses disgust, the NPC counters that he finds unfertilized bird embryos (eggs) equally disgusting.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Averted. If your allies step on an area-of-effect spell cast by you, they are affected as well. Both the player and the computer can accidentally shoot an ally who is in front of or behind an enemy.
  • Gambit Pileup: The overall story.
  • Grid Inventory: The grid is invisible and automatically moves things around to make room.
  • Guide Dang It!: How to obtain a Circlet of Senaedrin (which helps heal poison): Obtain an emerald. Remember from one of the puzzle chests you did hours ago that the founder of the empire had both a 'sapphire' and 'emerald' eye. Don't sell your emerald at Ormede, the town before Ravenne, even though it's one of the few gem stores in the game and you're tired of them cluttering your inventory. In Ravenne, go to the museum and notice that the bust of the founder of the empire has only a sapphire eye, and use your emerald on it. This reveals a secret compartment with the Circlet of Senaedrin. Good luck figuring that out without a guide.
  • He Knows Too Much: Selana and Bryce respectively send pirates and a griffon to eliminate Gregor once he learned about Selana's link to the Shepherds and a plot against the Imperial Consort. Although Gregor was eventually killed, he managed to pass Selana's Shepherd amulet and the word "Consort" to William, beginning the story. Ironically, both Selana and Bryce become targets of this trope themselves after the plot to murder the Emperor is derailed.
  • Improbable Use of a Weapon: Well, you can use a rapier to hack and slash, if you want. It just won't work very well.
  • Impoverished Patrician: The Sheffield family. Lord Caverton's entry into the local salt trade gradually pushed the Sheffields to the brink of bankruptcy. In a desperate attempt to restore her family's fortunes, Selana secretly resorted to crime including granting pirates safe harbor in her father's name and kidnapping the Imperial Consort with the help of the Shepherds.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Averted. The chests are explained to have been dropped when traveling parties died of illness, or have bandits or pirates defending them.
  • Informed Equipment: The player characters appear to fight in their street clothes, though the sound a blow makes changes depending on the armor the character is wearing.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: The clock is based on movement - advancing forward advances the clock.
  • Karma Houdini: Silver Hawk. Apart from the loss of some of his agents, he gets away with his scheme completely unscathed.
  • Magic Knight: While Aren is introduced with clear Squishy Wizard feel, the ability to develop any skill in the game means the player can develop Aren into a competent physical warrior who also happens to have magic. Admittedly, the limited damage that Aren's staff can do means that while Aren may graduate to Magic Knight level of melee competence he will never be as strong a physical fighter as his allies.
    • The game encourages players the use of Aren as a Magic Knight too. While Aren's magic may be more powerful, especially later in the game, he can only cast spells if there isn't an enemy attacking him, which interrupts his spell casting. Since the enemy AI is wise enough to realize that leaving a mage free to cast the spells that make the peoples fall down is unwise, they will often try to harass Aren to prevent him from casting spells. Aren will often be forced to either defend from physical attacks until his allies can come aid him or take up his staff and bludgeon his foe to death himself.
  • Magikarp Power: Most ranged magic can be seen as this. Ranged Accuracy is a skill that needs to be developed, and starts out low. This can be a problem since your allies tend to be standing right next to your enemy, meaning a reasonable chance of wasting Aren's hp only to roast your own ally. Considering that *very* early in the game you get a spell that is guaranteed to hit and does as much damage as the beginning ranged attack for far less health cost, there is little reason to cast the usual ranged attack spell. Unfortunately, the only way to get the accuracy high enough to hit someone is by using ranged spells, and at the end of the game the 40 damage lightning spell just can't compete with the more powerful ranged attack spells of late game. A novice player can find themselves regretting that they didn't develop their accuracy earlier in the game.
    • Then again, considering the late game Game-Breaker comes in the form of damage shields that can be cast without worrying about spell accuracy, it's not too problematic. It's entirely possible for even skilled players to beat the game with minimal spell accuracy rating, considering the pain of leveling it early on and the fact that there is usually a more viable spell than ranged damage.
  • Never My Fault: Bryce blamed the Shadows for his crimes, which include accidentally releasing several dangerous Wraiths and willingly abetting in the attempted murder of the Emperor. In Bryce's view, he could have gotten the support he needed for his Ethereal travel experiments had the Shadows not forbidden his experiments in the first place.
  • Nice Guy: Aren's a real sweetie.
  • Prophet Eyes: A prophet that can be found in one town has these.
  • Pun:
    • To a locksmith's apprentice: "Good lock!" for "Good luck!"
    • "We've been seeing these old locks lately -" "-said the man, to the seller of last week's fish..."
    • Talking to Misha, a whore:
      "How's business, Misha?"
      "It comes and it goes..."
  • Regenerating Health: Using the 'rest' command in battle regenerates a little stamina each turn. This is actually quite useful for Aren. If he is far enough from an opponent that he is unlikely to be attacked and didn't have any spells worth wasting HP on, resting would allow him to restock his stamina for later spells. Combine with a damage shield that would deflect all damage, and would last long enough per cast that resting could completely recover the cost of casting it, and you have a mini Game-Breaker.
    • This could also be exploited to save resources if you really wanted to min-max. Once a battle is mostly won, playing with a weakened opponent while resting can help regenerate some health and save you from having to waste food recovering out of combat. Though you need to be certain you can kill the enemy before he can escape if he tries to retreat; don't want to lose a lootable body!
  • Regenerating Shield, Static Health: In a manner of speaking. While the use of the rest command in battle can restore stamina, it can not recover health. If using the rest command often, particularly with Aren, it can start to feel like this trope is in effect.
  • Robbing the Dead: Rifling through dead bodies is the main source of money, supplies, and equipment, as it is in many similar games, but in this one they lampshade it the first time.
    Aren: I don't know, William. I never thought I'd be stealing from a dead man. That's no better than what a common cutthroat would do.
    William: We're just being practical, Aren. Look at it this way: Nothing he's carrying can help him anymore, but it might be able to help us.
  • Sequel Hook: In the epilogue, Aren figures out who Silverhawk is. But there's nothing the heroes can do about it, as they have no proof (in fact, they even ended up destroying the only proof they had that there was a mastermind behind the overall scheme in the first place). William states that he's planning to keep an eye on the man in case he decides to come up with another scheme (in the next game). No sequel ever came out.
  • Shop Fodder: Aside from the secret mentioned under Guide Dang It!, gems are only useful for selling at the occasional jewelry shop for money.
  • Shout-Out: Upon knocking on one house's door, William is driven away by Phoebe and Louie, her Smelly Cat. Phoebe reassures her cat that it's not his fault.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Gregor dies in the story introduction, but not before handing a Shepherd amulet to his rowing boat companion, William, and whispering the word "Consort". This sets William and his companions on a trail to uncover a plot against the Imperial Consort and, later, the motives behind the plot.
  • Squishy Wizard: Aren, full stop. Doesn't help that his magic is taken out of HP. And since early in the game at least, he'll be the only one who can do 25 guaranteed damage points a pop... God help you if you lose him early in a battle.
    • Though the ability to raise Aren's individual scores as the player sees fit means that Aren could develop his defense attribute to be equal to his allies, and he can equip the same armor. Aren will never be able to wield a shield, which has a slight chance of blocking any physical attack, and will have lower health then William, but close to that of Kaelyn. However, he can still manage to be only slightly more squishy then his allies in theory. The casting from hitpoints will still make him feel like a Squishy Wizard though, even if he has near equal defense.
  • The Storyteller: Scott the Joyman.
  • Tactical Withdrawal: Most enemies will retreat when low on health, Lost most of their enemies, or simply spent gone long enough without managing to do any damage to the party. Of course if they retreat they don't leave a corpse to loot, and your out on money and supplies you could have looted.
  • Trauma Inn: As in Krondor, characters can also heal by sleeping outside but only up to eighty percent of their maximum health. In an inn, they can regain all of their health.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Averted. The enemies use the same sorts of equipment that your party does, so you can loot their weapons/armor/rations and use them yourself.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: If a certain Plot Coupon is with the wrong character when the party splits up...
    • Actually not unwinnable, just slightly harder. A second copy of the Plot Coupon may be found. Asking the right questions of a certain individual will have him reveal that he had hidden another version of the Plot Coupon in a town a little ways away. It's possible to travel to the town and find the (well-hidden) second Plot Coupon . So while you're punished for sending the plot token to the party that clearly would not want it, ultimately the game ensures you can go on.
    • If you fail to obtain rope before the last chapter, you're SOL. It's required to move around and there's nowhere to acquire it.
    • If you fail to have a strength potion in a certain chapter, you can't impress an NPC in an arm-wrestling contest, preventing you from advancing the story.
      • The strength potion can be purchased in a town a ways away. It can be a little expensive though, so in theory, at least, it could be unwinnable if you're unusually low on money.
    • The game can become unwinnable simply by playing poorly. Resources are limited to what you can get from enemies you defeat or find in chests or towns, and battle related skills usually can only be raised in battles. There are a limited number of enemies per chapter, so play poorly enough and you can reach a point where you have no resources, poor skills, and no way to increase either. Theoretically you can eventually starve to death as late as the last chapter of the game, though it takes a certain degree of 'skill' to do so poorly that you end up that broke.
  • Videogame Cruelty Potential: Most enemies will retreat when low on health or clearly outclassed. You could allow them to run away, ending the fight with no more blood shed. Or you could break break out some extra magic to make sure you kill them before they get away so you can loot their bodies for cold hard cash. Guess which one people often opt for?
    • In our heroes' defense, almost every fight with humans is against opponents who clearly were planning to attack the first random stranger and loot their stuff. Just because they got more of a fight then they expected doesn't mean they wouldn't be happily killing the heroes for cash if they could. Ridding the world of such danger is a civic duty! The loot is just an added bonus....
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Silverhawk, the High Priest of Henne.
  • Wallet of Holding: Money (like all items) is weightless, but it is stored in a separate limited-space inventory.
    • Oddly enough, the Wallet of Holding also stores food. If you're really rich you may have to decide rather you want to toss out all your money or carry so little food you may starve to death.
  • We Buy Anything: Averted. Every store specializes in some subset of items.