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Video Game / Champions of Norrath

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Champions of Norrath is an 2004 Action RPG on the Playstation 2 set in the world of the EverQuest MMO series, roughly three hundred years prior to the original EverQuest. This would make it a Prequel, except that this game is an Alternate Continuity that only loosely takes concepts, characters, and settings from the main series.

Its plot involves an alliance of orcs and goblins, once enemies, laying siege to Faydwer, the continent of elvenkind at this point in Norrathian history. Leithkorias, King of the Wood Elves, calls out for champions to defend the land. You (and whatever people you're playing alongside if you've selected multiplayer mode) heed this call as one of five customizable race/class choices, each of which are highly customizable. The available choices are Barbarian Warrior, Erudite Wizard, High Elf Cleric, Wood Elf Ranger and Dark Elf Shadowknight. The game is separated into five chapters, and takes a major twist after the first, which culminates in your first encounter with the orc general, Pelys, who isn't what he seems. EQ's Series Mascot character, Firiona Vie, later shows up as a prominent part of the storyline. Other than Kelethin and the Faydark Forest, the entire game takes place in a portion of Norrath that doesn't exist in the main games. The final level is part of EQ, but In Name Only, as it's visual settings are completely different.

Champions of Norrath also received a 2005 sequel, Champions: Return to Arms, in which your character (along with other players) is called into the outer planes by Firiona Vie, champion of nature goddess Tunare, to defend the cosmos against an alliance of evil gods attempting to resurrect Innoruuk, the God of Hate who you killed in the first game. You have the option of importing characters from the previous installment and it seems as if the game was designed with the assumption that players would be doing this, despite claims to the contrary. This game differed from the original in that it allowed you to defect to the evil side early on, although this changed surprisingly little in regard to gameplay or storyline, the only notable variables being which final boss you fought and which side you're on in an optional dungeon in one of two Norrath-bound regions in the game. The game was released in 2003, fresh off the heels of the Planes of Power and Gates of Discord expansions in EQ. As such, most of the game takes place in the Planes of Power, and the Berzerker class was inspired by the same axe-throwing class that was added in as well.

Return to Arms was notably rushed as compared to its predecessor. Many of the dungeons recycled graphics from the previous games and the two additional character choices, Vah Shir Berserker and Iksar Shaman, lacked the amount of customization options that other choices had and even the ability to play female characters of said races (Where-as the 5 classes from the previous games received new abilities and more customization to add onto). The story also suffered, what little there was resting primarily at the start and the end of the game with only sparse developments in-between.

See also Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance; it was made by the same company before they switched publishers.

The games contain examples of:

  • An Adventurer Is You: The character class system.
  • Badass Boast: Vanarhost the vampire lord gives a good one, although it's undercut a bit by coming after you've defeated him, and his dipping a bit too far into Evil Gloating provides Sylea with the opening she needs to backstab him.
    Vanarhost: You think you can best me!? I am Vanarhost, lord of vampires! I have watched centuries die, not even the sun can slay me. I have slaughtered armies with my bare hands, fed on the bloodlines of kings, drained countless races into extinction, and I will drain countless more until all Norrath is drained of blood! And I will make sure you are there to see it. I will see your corpse march into battle with my legions of the undead. I will see you...
    Sylea: ... betrayed.
  • Barbarian Hero: One of the class/race combinations available.
  • Beneath the Earth: The Underworld in Chapter 2 of Champions of Norrath
  • Big Bad: Pelys, seemingly, but turns out to be just The Dragon to Innoruuk, God of Hate.
  • Black Knight: The Dark Elf Shadowknight but whom doesn't get to be truly evil until the second game in the series.
  • Bonus Dungeon: Kelethin in Return to Arms, where you either help fend off Orc invaders or assist said invaders in taking the city, depending on which side you chose at the start of the game. There is also a large quantity of bonus dungeons in the same game that are unlocked whenever you complete whatever objective you were sent into a new region to carry out. Completing all of these areas gives you the means to obtain the Infinity +1 Sword, the Sword of Zek for Warriors, Rangers, Shaman, Berzerkers, and Shadowknights; and the Fist of Innoruuk for Clerics and Wizards.
  • Boss Rush: The above-mentioned bonus area for the Plane of Nightmares features a boss rush mode at the end of the level, where you fight most of the bosses in the game, one room after the next. Including Innoruuk from the first game.
  • Convection Shmonvection: The Blackdelve Lava Fields. You will die if you touch the lava, but the fields themselves consist of you walking around on narrow stone pathways that only stand a couple inches higher than the lava.
  • Chainmail Bikini: Female Warriors, Shadowknights, Clerics, and especially Rangers can invoke this with their armor designs, specifically with Chainmail and Epic armor sets.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: In the first game, the Dark Elf Shadowknight is forced to help the forces of good simply because the plot says so. They can choose either the good or evil storyline in Return to Arms, as can the Iksar Shaman. Ditto for Sylea, who pulls double duty as a very creepy Dark Elf Vampire who otherwise tries to fight against her nature and assists the Player Character.
  • Death by a Thousand Cuts: One ability that most classes can put skill points in is a chance to reposte and attack while blocking. Basically, an enemy takes damage while you block an attack. The Clockwork Behemoth at the end of the Plain of Innovation can be That One Boss because it is constantly shooting a barrage of arrows at you, making it difficult to even get near it. You can always just hold the block button and let it destroy itself. All you would have to do is make sure you take out the exploding mooks that sometimes run after you.
  • Diamonds in the Buff: It is safe to say that Sylea counts as this. She wears a golden necklace-shawl with two large gold medallions that cover up her breasts, along with armbands, earrings, rings, and bracelets. In fact, the only piece of clothing that she is wearing is a loincloth, and even that is adorned with gold.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Innoruuk, Cazic-Thule, and Rallos Zek. Mithanial Marr for the evil path.
  • The Dragon: Pelys in the first game, your character in the second installment if you choose to undergo a Face–Heel Turn.
  • Excuse Plot: The sequel is very light on the story, and the stakes are less compelling: You're on a Fetch Quest through the planes to either prevent or facilitate the resurrection of the first game's Final Boss. Dialogue is curt, interactable NPCs are sparse, and none of the antagonists have the presence Arc Villains Pelys and Vanarhost did. Even Vanarhost himself, whose role in the sequel is little more than a Call-Back to his fate in the original. There's a lot to like about Return to Arms, but narrative is clearly not where the focus went.
  • Face–Heel Turn: There is no given explanation why this happened to Natasla in Return to Arms. Your own character can do this as well if you choose to defect from Firiona Vie's side.
    • The Iksar race serves the God of Fear, Cazic Thule. A good Iksar shaman will be fighting to stop Cazic Thule from using the Shards of War to bring back Innoruuk.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: She may look like a shoe-in for The Vamp, but Sylea is actually this. She prefers to quench her thirst for blood on the bloodvine flower rather than by feasting on mortals and she helps the Player Character once he/she retrieves the flower for her.
  • Furry Reminder: The cat-like beast-man Vah Shir Berserker has some... interesting idle speak.
    Vah Shir: I could really use a magic ball of string right now, or a friendly minotaur.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: An optional boss at the end of Return to Arms, the Trakanasaurus, has a bug where Barbarian Warriors may just spontaneously die when meleeing it. Just an unfortunate oversight that slipped past the testers.
  • Godiva Hair: Kerriel the Mermaid.
  • Heel–Face Turn: In Return to Arms. The Vah Shir of Ever Quest are a race of anthropomorphic cats that are almost always good or at least neutral, described as selfless and more focused on "the good of all". It's also possible for a Vah Shir Berserker to betray Firiona and side with evil on the first field.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: Die to Innoruuk and you are treated to a monologue of the end of the world.
  • "Instant Death" Radius: Good luck trying to take any of the bosses with a pure melee class.
    • It's a little better in sequel, where a melee class can take on a boss with a bit of strategy. It is still a shame though that the heavily armored classes go down in one or two hits against bosses.
    • The bosses are never impossible to defeat in melee. Even Innorruuk is possible to go mano-e-mano, albeit harder than all hell.
  • Lag Cancel: If you hold press the block and attack buttons at the same time while holding a 1-handed weapon, the block will cancel out the attack animation, allowing you to rack up damage very quickly.
  • Large Ham: Natasla in Return To Arms.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Inverted. The Wizard class, on top of already being physically and defensively weak, can only strengthen the damage of thier spells through skill points when leveling up. Each spell can only have 20 skill points put into them, making the Wizard severely underpowered and unable to become stronger at higher difficulties. The Warrior class on the otherhand, grows to be more powerful than any of the others. The same applies to the Cleric, Ranger, Shadowknight, and Shaman, but they are all better suited for melee, and don't need their spells to survive. The Vah Shir Berzerker falls into this to a lesser degree. Part of the class's strengths is the ability to summon throwing axes. Their damage eventually caps out at 20 skill points as well. Fortunately, they also have straight melee attacks to fall back on.
  • Looks Like Orlok: Lord Vanarhost.
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: Pelys tricks you into retrieving an artifact for him in Chapter 3 of the original game by disguising himself as one of his own oppressed citizens from a village that his search has brought him to.
  • Magic Knight: The Dark Elf Shadowknight character choice.
  • Magical Land: The outer planes.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Innoruuk, to Pelys in Champions of Norrath.
  • Min-Maxing: Return to Arms has a new set of items called figurines which provide bonuses to your stats depending on the type of figurine so long as they're being carried in your inventory. The way to make the absolute strongest character possible, regardless of class, isn't to spend points in areas your class would normally use, but rather to simply pump every single one of your stat points you get at level-up into strength. With all of your stat points going into strength, not only do you hit harder physically but you're also able to carry more, meaning you can then collect tons of perfect-type figurines and get a higher number of overall stat points than you would have if you'd spread out your stat growth. Yes, the best way to get make an Erudite Wizard with a huge intelligence score is to boost his melee damage and carrying capacity so he can lug around tons of perfect owl figurines.
  • Mook Maker:
    • Clerics can summon a Hammer of Unswerving Faith, which automatically chases after enemies and can't be destroyed. Since Clerics aren't suited for melee combat as well as the Warrior or Shadowknight, an effective strategy is to summon the hammer and "kite" your enemies by running around and staying out of attack range while the hammer finishes them off. Combined with their healing and mana regeneration abilities, this becomes quite effective, if time-consuming.
    • Shadowknights can summon skeletons, although they can be destroyed by enemies.
    • Shamans can summon badgers. Like the skeletons, they can also be destroyed.
  • Multiple Endings: In Return to Arms, there is a separate ending for both Good and Evil story routes.
  • Narrator All Along: Lord Vanarhost is narrating the story of the first game.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: Sylea betraying Vanarhost. It isn't so easy to slay a vampire of his stature, and you're encouraged to run far away, as when he inevitably comes back you'll both be marked for death.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: According to official EverQuest lore, the Gods created the races that inhabit Norrath, including the player races. This is played straight with the Dark Elf Shadowknight in the first game, because they will have to fight Innoruuk, God of Hate, and creator of the Dark Elves.
    • In Return to Arms, Good Iksar Shamans will end up having to fight Cazic Thule, God of Fear, and creator of the Iksar, and Evil Barbarian Warriors will end up fighting Mithanial Marr, God of Valor, and creator of the Barbarians.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Even though they fight on the side of good in the first game and can continue doing so in the second, the Dark Elf Shadowknights voice a lot of morbid ideas.
  • Sore Loser: Rallos Zek, the God of War, doesn't take defeat very well. He tries to remain composed, but you can tell he's not happy that his pride has been bruised when you defeat him.
    I tire of you like a tasteless meal! *angrily storms off*
  • Stripperiffic: Firiona Vie and Natasla's outfits. Also, several of the female class choices go this way if you unequip their armor in the inventory screen. (Actually, you have the option of playing the game with the female barbarian, for example, wearing little more than a bikini, albeit the lack of armor makes it difficult.)
    • Sylea takes the cake though. For a Dark Elf Vampire, she has no qualms against wearing two round gold medallions hanging from her neck shawl to cover up her breasts.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Averted, as Vanarhost learns with a dagger through the back.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: As the Barbarian, activate Critical Hit and Ancestral Cry, then use Slam. In Return To Arms, adding the Avatar buff to this combo makes the Barbarian Warrior class severely overpowered to everyone else.
  • Tyke-Bomb: Pelys, given the blink-and-you-miss-it revelation that he's Innoruuk's first child.
  • Useless Useful Spell: The Dark Elf's "Harm Touch", which is supposed to be his Ultimate Attack which takes up so much Mana and makes you wait a few seconds to cast something else, ends up being surpassed by your standard attack. The problem is that it's a set amount of damage; it never changes due to your strength. Also, the pets are pretty useless as well.
  • The Vamp: Natasla and Kerriel the mermaid. Surprisingly, despite being scantily clad (Kerriel is actually topless, though her hair covers her), both possessed large breasts, and played rather sensually by the voice actresses and animators, this was not enough to trigger a sensuality warning on the ESRB T rating.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The "orc" chieftan Pelys is an unimaginably tough nut to crack as the Disc-One Final Boss. His rapid attacks drain your hitpoints so quickly even through blocking that if you play as anything other than a fighter, you'll have a tough time surviving for very long.