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Video Game / Book of Mages: The Dark Times

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A flash game from Nob Studio, Book of Mages: The Dark Times is the sequel to Book Of Mages The Chaotic Period. Like its predecessor, The Dark Times casts the player in the role of a gifted young mage from one of six clans, each specializing in a different form of Fire or Water magic. The mage clans are bound together in a loosely-organized and rather turbulent society under the rule of the Great Mage, who won his position by being the strongest mage of all. However, the current Great Mage is an evil man, and he has created an organization known as the Black Robes who go around murdering any mage who speaks against him. In response to this tyranny, several leading mages from the Great Sea and Burning Hill clans formed the White Robes to resist the Great Mage and protect mages from the Black Robes' tyranny.


A major subplot in the game revolves around the Book of Mages: a book that serves as a pecking order and ranks the strongest hundred mages in the world. As might be expected, this is seen as a big deal by most mages, and many spend their lives challenging each other to duels so that they can move up in the ranks.

Book of Mages: The Dark Times provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: The Six who created the Book of Mages are mentioned if you defeat the Mysterious Hermit, but this plot doesn't go anywhere.
  • Affably Evil: Witchthorn is a thief, a murderer and a Card-Carrying Villain, but he doesn't hold grudges; he respects you if you defeat him and spare his life, and he is particularly impressed if you decide to kill both Windsailor and Witchthorn to steal the Great Sea Orb from their bodies.
  • All-Powerful Bystander: The Mysterious Hermit mostly just tells you where to go to improve your ranking in the Book of Mages. He's actually one of the Six who created the Book of Mages, and is over twice as powerful as the next strongest mage (not counting the PC). Nonetheless, he has no ranking in the Book of Mages, nor any interest in the struggles of the Robes.
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  • Always Chaotic Evil: Averted. While certain clans are iconically associated with the White or Black Robes, there are heroes and villains in all clans, and the main difference is in magic style, not morality. That said, you won't find any major good guys in Poison Water unless your PC is one.
  • An Ice Person: Ice Land magic, obviously.
  • Anyone Can Die: To an extent; the protagonist has heavy-duty Plot Armor and won't die even if you're actively trying to get him killed, but pretty much everyone else is fair game. The only non-PC characters who don't die in at least one plotline are Shiverhorror, Silverkin, Burnstorm, and Darklove - all four of whom are among the top ten mages in the world and smart enough to stay out of the warring Robe factions. If you join the White Robes and don't succeed in getting a cure for the poison you can kill more than half of the named population of the world in the (pre)final battle.
  • The Archmage: The Great Mage, or anyone who reaches the top of the Book of Mages. At the start of the game, these are the same person, but you can usurp either or both spots. The Great Mage is actually not the most powerful mage in the world by a long shot.
    • The Mysterious Hermit really is the strongest mage in the world, being one of the Six who created the Book of Mages. Unless you're stronger, of course.
    • In the Legendary ending, you defeat the new Great Mage in a duel, but do not take the title, instead choosing to live apart from mage society as a hermit.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: When the Great Mage dies, the new Great Mage is traditionally chosen by a series of challenges until there's only one mage left standing. This rule goes completely to hell in the ending, as the White Robes and Black Robes each elect their own candidate without a proper election. This causes several powerful neutral mages to get involved and try to force the Robes to hold a fair election.
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Shiverhorror, Clan Leader of Ice Land, is number two on the Book of Mages, and is in fact far more powerful than Great Mage Battlebeard. He also wants nothing to do with any of the malarkey that the Robes are getting up to (and unlike most mages, is strong enough to make that position stick), until the two Robe factions try to break the rules regarding the Great Mage election. Then he and the other neutral mages get involved, including two more who are in the top five and possibly including the PC. This is not good news for either Robe faction.
  • Beam Spam: The standard mage attack is up to twenty fireballs or water-balls. Chaos Desert gets the prize here, though; they can fire up to thirty shots when they're on the attack.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The Black Robes are pure evil, but the White Robes do some questionable things and aren't averse to bribery and cheating to get their way, and the neutral mages' group are strict adherents to Honor Before Reason and only care that a Great Mage is chosen by a proper election, regardless of whether he's good or evil. A Black Robe PC will be evil by dint of being a Black Robe, but a White Robe PC can be almost as evil, if he so chooses.
  • Blood Magic: The specialty of the Dark Wood clan. Chaos Desert also has a blood-spell to remove status effects.
  • Bonus Boss: The Mysterious Hermit.
  • But Thou Must!: The game is usually pretty good about averting this, but if you side with Battlebeard during the Black Robe internal dispute, you cannot let him retire; the game forces you to betray and kill him.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Most Dark Wood special magic. Also, Chaos Desert's Remove Effects ability.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Played with. You can curb stomp most mages in the Great Sea War without actually fighting them if your mage rank is high enough, but if you're strong enough to do that, you're strong enough to hammer them in a fight anyway.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: The canonical ending for The Chaotic Period is that Wilson, the protagonist of the first game, lost the Great Mage election and the evil head of Chaos Fire/Chaos Desert Clan became Great Mage.
  • Dark Horse Victory: A Neutral victory is this, since the Neutrals weren't even a faction until both Robe factions held separate elections in defiance of the rules.
  • Deflector Shields: Defensive bolts, and Burning Hill's Mana Shield spell.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Dark Wood's Trade Life and Blood Bath spells. Trade Life swaps HP with you opponent ( Duh ) and Blood Bath does up to 30 points of unblockable damage to both of you. Assuming you can survive, waiting for your foe to whittle you down into the latter's range then swapping can easily take down an enemy that can't outright one shot you.
  • Elemental Powers: The Fire and Water superclans each use their respective element to make "fireballs," with each clan's specific style determining the exact form. (This is purely cosmetic, though; all the clans' basic magic is functionally identical, and the actual differences between the clans are in their advanced magic.)
  • Everyone is a Super: Non-mages are not mentioned at all.
  • Evil Pays Better: Back and forth, but this is broadly true. The evil path usually gets you more and better items than the good path, though being nice to good mages can earn you a lot of extra magical training.
  • Explosive Leash: The Potion of Great Power contains a deadly poison that can be activated at will by whoever holds the proper spell. A major plotline revolves around finding the mage who has created an antidote.
  • Face–Heel Turn: You can make one if you join the White Robes and later turn your robe. If you don't, Flamier does.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: If the White Robes win under an evil leader, the epilogue mentions that people saw no difference between them and the Black Robes that they replaced.
  • Greek Chorus: The gossipmongers in the bar, who you can overhear kibitzing about you in the bar. Also a source of some of the game's Funny Moments.
  • Green Thumb: The Dark Wood clan's fireballs are implied by the graphics to contain plant matter.
  • The Hermit: Several mages exist who want nothing to do with mage society, instead living on their own in the wilderness. Chilldream is the archetypal example. The Mysterious Hermit resides in the clan bars, but still doesn't participate in the mage conflicts. And in a couple of endings, the PC can end up as a hermit as well.
  • Heroic Neutral: Your role in the Neutral storyline; you occasionally have to fight off Black Robe mages trying to make you join them. In the ending, you can decide whether to avert this or continue playing it straight as Shiverhorror's clique decide to interfere with the Great Sea War.
    • Neutral No Longer: A neutral mage can decide to stand against the Black Robes' campaign of murder, even if they don't support the White Robes' rebellion.
    • Hired Guns: ...or, they can work for the Black Robes in their murder campaign. (Or they can fight for neither or both sides.)
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: You're not supposed to beat the assassin who comes for you shortly before the Young Mage Competition. If you somehow pull it off (usually by cheating, although there are a couple of very specific builds that allow you to win), he'll call for more assassins, who will beat you down without a fight. Don't worry, you're not dead afterward.
  • 100% Completion: Unlocking all titles (a task that requires several games) awards you with the ability to automatically win or lose any battle you choose in subsequent playthroughs, to make it easier to explore any remaining paths not traveled.
  • Kamehame Hadoken: Combined Bolt attacks, which combine all of your attacking and defending bolts into a single massive strike. The particular specialty of Burning Hill and Great Sea clans, but anyone can learn the skill.
  • Karma Meter
  • Klingon Promotion: Possible in the Black Robes, so long as you have cleansed yourself of the Potion of Great Power.
  • La Résistance: The White Robes.
  • The Lost Woods: The Dark Wood Clan live here.
  • Magical Society: The Clans function as training organizations, and mage society itself is loosely organized through the institution of the Great Mage.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Corpsedusk is controlling Battlebeard through the Potion of Great Power.
  • Multiple Endings: Numerous endings exist (with numerous minor variations among them), depending on which Robe faction you joined (or, alternatively, if you stayed neutral), how high your ranking in the Book of Mages is, who you killed and who you befriended, how many sidequests you completed, etc.
  • Mutant Draft Board: The Black Robes have a rather aggressive recruitment policy. The main neutral mages are only neutral because they're all in the top ten and stronger than any mage the Black Robes could send to recruit them.
  • My Kung Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: The point of the Book of Mages is to determine whose kung fu is strongest. Constant meditation in the Mana Cave and challenges against rival mages are needed to build up one's magical strength to become the baddest mage around.
  • Passing the Torch: The White Robe leaders do not seek election to the post of White Mage, but instead put forward the names of the Talented Mages of the younger generation to lead.
  • Poisonous Person: The attacks of the Poison Water Clan...are poisonous.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Darkskin of the Dark Wood clan.
  • The Resenter: Flamier thinks he's the best choice for White Mage, and he isn't happy when nobody agrees with him. This triggers his Face–Heel Turn.
  • Retcon: The names of the clans in The Dark Times are different from those in The Chaotic Period; they're based on the location of the clan, instead of being variants on "Fire" and "Water."
  • Retired Monster: Battlebeard wants to become one, being an old man who's tired of being the Great Mage. Corpsedusk isn't interested in letting him retire, however.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: The Black Robes hold a Great Mage election but don't invite non-Black Robes.
    • Appeal to Force:
      • It's a rigged contest; Corpsedusk has control over the poison in all the Black Mages' bodies, and uses it to force the Black Robes to lose the election to him.
      • It's possible to avert the election entirely by going with Battlebeard's plan, which ironically plays out in a similar fashion as a proper election. Instead of a formal series of challenges, everyone just brawls it out until you're the last candidate left alive and with control of the poison.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: The White Robes elect their White Mage by a democratic vote instead of through challenges, because they don't want to see another Great Mage like Battlebeard.
    • Screw the Rules, I Have Plot!: If you lose this election, which is very difficult to do, you're allowed to fight it out with Soundinghorn anyway, and if you win, he'll accept you as leader. Flamier does not challenge you if you win, he just runs off and joins the Black Robes.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: If you deliver the antidote to Darkskin, he and several other mages abandon the Black Robes.
  • Standard Status Effects: Each clan, except for Chaos Desert, has a status effect they can attach to their bolts (Chaos Desert doesn't have a status effect, but can drain enemy Special points). Poison Water poisons, Great Sea causes a Mana Leak, Ice Land freezes (reducing defense), Dark Wood curses (reducing attack), and Burning Hill causes the Burnt status effect, increasing the damage of later bolts.
  • The Starscream: You can be this to the Black Robes if you choose, assuming you've freed yourself of the poison.
  • Swamps Are Evil: The Poison Water Clan, which is broadly speaking the darkest of the clans and has no important heroic characters to its name, live in a swamp.
  • Took a Level in Badass: All of the mages who participate in the Young Mage Contest are significantly stronger if you fight them after the Young Mage Contest, but special mention goes to Silverkin, who has become the fifth-strongest mage in the world by the second time you see him.
  • Torture Technician: The assassin who tries to kill you before the Young Mage Tournament is an expert in torture. If you give up your vendetta against him, he'll teach you all about the vulnerabilities of the human body (in game terms, you'll get more skill points).
  • Tournament Arc: Two examples: the Young Mage Contest and the Great Mage election. The first is a tournament held every five years to showcase up-and-coming talent and win honor for the clans. The second is subverted; no proper election is held, though the Black Robes hold their own tournament if you don't prevent it, and instead a war breaks out.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The War of the Robes has little to nothing to do with the Book of Mages; the first is the main storyline, while the latter is essentially a sidequest, though being Number 1 allows you to curb stomp most mages during the Great Sea War instead of actually fighting them.
  • Unequal Rites: Part of the history, when the six clans fought over whose magic style was the best. The first Great Mage ended this, and when the Book of Mages was created and conflicts between mages started up again, it was on an individual rather than clan basis.
  • The War Sequence: The Great Sea War between the White Robes and Black Robes. Assuming you've joined either side, you win it by both outnumbering the other side and having more total levels. If you're on the Neutral team, you can wait until both sides are exhausted, or you can rush in to beat everyone down and thus save some lives.

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