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Video Game / Iter Vehemens Ad Necem

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Iter Vehemens Ad Necem (Violent Way to Death in Latin, often abbreviated into IVAN) is an open source Roguelike, whose earliest dated release was version 0.40, back in 2002. As of 2019, the game's latest release is 0.57, created after years of inactivity from the original creator and the development moving into the hands of the community from 2015. You can learn more here.

The story has you taking on the role of a slave working on a banana plantation who has been entrusted with an important letter by his master. For the early part of the game, that's just about as far as the story goes, but it begins to unravel itself if you can progress far enough. It keeps its graphics simple, like many other Roguelikes, but the game is notable for having a set of well-developed systems in the game engine, like body parts, prayer, and simple yet intuitive combat.


This game provides examples of:

  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Shopkeepers will sell items to you for four times the price they'll buy it for.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with the Black Market, which contains a wide variety of powerful and rare items, albeit at four times the price of the other shops.
  • All There in the Manual: Literally: "the Morgo's magnificient manual of materials" contains the stats for every single material in the game.
    • Played straight with a good part of the lore; it's found mostly on the wiki or forum.
  • Ancient Tomb: The Tomb of Xinroch, and to a lesser extent, the catacombs beneath the Attnam cathedral.
  • Ancient Order of Protectors: The dark knight templars, tasked with guarding the depths of the Tomb of Xinroch.
    • According to Lady Decora the shining knight of Legifer (a hidden NPC in Attnam), the Shining Knights are the equivalent for the lawful gods.
  • Anthropomorphic Food: In a literal manner - you can find golems which are made of food, i.e. banana or carrot.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The game will typically warn you before you perform an unwise action (such as stealing or attacking townsfolk. There are a few exceptions: namely, wishing for items from a genie or scroll of wishing does not ask for any confirmation as for what you really wanted; however, wizardmode does add one.
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  • Armor of Invincibility: The Shirt of the Golden Eagle; it has an AV(Armor Value) of 40. It's been stolen by Oree the blood demon king. Getting the "Knighthood" or "High Priest" ending requires that you retrieve it.
  • Artifact of Power: Very rare named items which usually boast incredible power and a unique gimmick, as well as also being able to sell for a fortune, a good few are shout-outs as well.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Ommel bone/tooth equipment is very strong, but eventually rots into nothingness like with food. Amulets of haste and phasing work similarly (you can't even change their material).
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: Generally averted, but zapping a [[Necromancer wand of necromancy]] will move your alignment towards being more chaotic.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Happens quite often, to both the player and also enemies. Zig-zagged, as it can transform you into anything from a puppy to a veteran dark knight and beyond.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: A friendly genie or a wishing scroll can give you weapons or armor that attracts far more trouble than it's worth.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with the genies: sometimes, they won't even grant you a wish, and just attack you from the get-go. They wield an Arcanite Two-Handed Scimitar, and will most likely kill an unprepared player before they can react.
  • Black Market: An entirely separate location on the map. To gain access you'll need to buy or steal, and then read a (surprisingly cheap) map from the Dungeon Shop. It consists of two levels, the first containing many high-level monsters, although they're benign (for now), while the second is the actual shop floor, containing a plethora of valuable items, as well as Crooked Sam the black marketeer (sic).
  • The Blacksmith: Ikiros the smith in Attnam will be able to fix any of your broken or rusted metal items, for a price. Mirvo the tailor functions similarly, for any item made of cloth/leather/feathers.
  • Body Horror: Getting infected with a mind worm results in your brain being blasted with psi attacks until you die, unless, of course, you are wearing a helmet or cap made of tin.
    • To a lesser extent, eating spoiled/rotten food can result in you getting infested with tapeworms, which will result in messages of "something violently churning through your intestines.
  • Bonus Boss: While most bosses are related to some ending or another, a good few randomly spawn in dungeons. The most notable two are Iscaldirh the dark archmage and Sherarax the mistress queen , only spawning once you reach certain thresholds of power.
  • Chummy Commies: Ivan. Found on the eighth level of Gloomy Cave along with his colossal mutant bunny Vladimir, he makes quick friends with the player. He wields his family's Hammer and Sickle.
  • City Guards: Attnam has veteran guards near the shops, and stronger patrol guards that - you guessed it - patrol around the edges of the map.
  • Cool Sword: Several of them, in fact, and not just swords.
  • Courier: The first part of the game involves delivering a message from Richel Decos to Petrus. You can also deliver it to the necromancer imprisoned in the Attnam cathedral's cellar, for the alternative Tomb of Xinroch quest.
  • Crazy Cultural Comparison: Enforced by Richel Decos. "Huang Ming Pong" the sumo wrestler mentions that his real name is actually Albert. He likely enforces the same image about the rest of New Attnam, considering the tourists also have this impression of the village, despite the villagers actually being smarter than them.
  • Crystal Landscape: The hidden "crystal cave" dungeon level beneath Underwater Tunnel 2. It's necessary to visit if you want to visit the spider nest to fight Lobh-se and free Tweraif.
    • The levels in Gloomy Cave after Elpuri, but before Oree, also apply, but they don't have crystals jutting out of the ground like the previous example.
  • Darkness Equals Death: Not even having night-vision eyes and ESP will alert you to all the dangers. Having a source of light at all times is crucial.
It's dark in here!
  • Deadly Gas: While you can find dwarven gas grenades and gas traps throughout the dungeons, only two in particular are dangerous: mustard gas and ominous red gas. Mustard gas slowly dissolves you like acid, except it can't actually be resisted, unlike normal acid. Ominous red gas is much like raw vapourized magic, except it will only apply negative effects.
  • Determinator: Even after losing all of your limbs, your character will still be able to move as just a wiggling torso and head - unlikely, though, as with no Leg Strength, you'd need to drop practically, if not literally, everything in your inventory to actually move.
  • Divine Birds: Kaethos mentions that ostriches used to be kings of the sky with huge wingspans, until one of them discovered levitation and promptly they all became lazy.
  • Dominatrix: Mistresses. They come in three different levels: normal mistresses, mistress torturing chiefs, and mistress whip champions.
  • Dungeon Shop: Merka's shop can be found in the first few levels of Gloomy Cave. There's an equivalent shop in the Tomb of Xinroch.
  • Earthquake Machine: While not literally machines, reading a scroll of earthquake or praying to Silva will cause an earthquake to shake the level you're on. This is more beneficial than you might expect, as not only does it not harm you, it sets off all the land mines and gas traps on the level, which means you no longer have to search a few times every tile you move.
  • Edible Bludgeon: Inverted (in the sense that the item was a weapon before it became edible); if you pray to Loricatus with negative relations, odds are they'll change the material of your weapon into banana.
  • Elemental Crafting: Taken Up to Eleven as of the latest update, with hundreds of different materials. There are three main stats: Hardness, Flexibility, and Density; though other aspects such as flammability and edibility can be considered too. Hardness determines the damage or armor value of most items. Flexibility applies mostly to armor, and having low flexibility will penalize your Dexterity or Agility depending on the item worn, while Density just determines the mass of an object depending on its size. Taking into account the large variety of magical materials, the trope is played straight.
  • Enslaved Elves: The residents of Tweraif, with the good old 'evil white slaver' element.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: From plants and puppies to ghouls and an entire pantheon of gods. And as if that weren't enough, to get the best ending you have to survive being attacked by an entire town.
  • Evil Colonialist: Richel Decos. Converts the temple of Silva into his mansion, lies to the government about his profits,
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The game's title translates to "A Violent Road To Death"; play for about five minutes and you'll understand why.
  • Exclusive Enemy Equipment: Almost completely averted. However, Petrus is the only one who has Valpurus' Justifier. And you also can't wish for it (outside of Wizard Mode), as a divine voice will say "No, mortal! This will not be done!"
    • Justified in the two cases where bosses hold the necessary items to complete a fetch quest; Oree is the only enemy with the Shirt of the Golden Eagle, likewise, Xinroch's ghost drops the [[Intangibility shadow veil.]]
  • Faceless Eye: More of a nuisance than a creep-out, though: it'll put you to sleep if you try to directly attack it (most times), and has a tendency to get in the way.
  • Fetch Quest: It can be legitimately argued that 3/4ths of your game time is basically spent trying to complete a very hazardous fetch quest, depending on the ending you're looking for. The head of Elpuri for "Freedom", and the Shirt of the Golden Eagle for "Knighthood" and High Priest. For the Tomb of Xinroch quest, your original objective is to bring the [[Intangibility shadow veil to the necromancer in Attnam's dungeon.]]
    • To complete the Slave Liberation, You must venture into the spider nest underneath the underwater tunnel to retrieve a sapling of Silva from Lobh-Se.
  • Flaming Sword: Well worth looking out for.
  • Flesh Golem: Can be found throughout the dungeons. You can even use ``one of your own limbs`` to make a golem using a scroll of golem creation, though this is an incredibly impractical use of such a rare item.
  • Gorn: A few game days' worth of combat can leave a dungeon level strewn from one end to the other with blood, bodies and severed limbs/heads. And they don't just vanish when you leave the room, either. There have also been contests to see who can die with the most complicated and/or dreadful death message.
  • Golem: Common enemies, with later levels having golems made of stronger materials. Notably, one of the post-Elpuri Gloomy Cave levels has a room filled with dangerous golems, with a valpurium golem in the center. Experiment ZQ-29 is a bonus boss golem made of spider silk and is invisible.
    • Dark mages can also summon golems, with Iscaldirh the dark archmage being able to summon ones made of strong materials such as Arcanite or Octiron quite frequently.
    • You can also make your own, out of any item in your inventory (or your own limbs, as mentioned above), using a rare scroll of golem creation.
  • Guardian Angel: If you have enough favor with a god, when you pray or offer something to them, they will sometimes send an angel, or even their deity-specific archangel, to assist you for a time. The equipment for normal angels depends on the god's alignment, while the archangel has equipment unique to each deity.
  • Groin Attack: Boy howdy.
  • Harmless Electrocution: Zigzagged, depending on how much electricity resistance you have.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Two main examples. The enner beast will make a noise that sounds like a yell whenever it does the same, which can be heard throughout the whole level. Kamikaze dwarves also make a slight laughing noise whenever they offer up a prayer, which also can be heard throughout the whole level, though it's not as loud (nor as damaging) as the enner beast's.
  • Holy Is Not Safe: Even if you're otherwise lawful, praying to Valpurus at less than Champion relations causes him to hit you on the head with a hammer.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Justifier. It has a permanent +16 enchantment, is extremely light, and gives permanent Haste, ESP, polymorph control, teleport control, and infravision. Petrus has it, and he will use it on you if you attack him.
    • Played for Laughs with the flaming valpurium +10 sword that rarely spawns. It's a mirrored item, which means that it automatically vanishes after a short time, and cannot be sold to shops
  • Instant Sedation: Eating kobold flesh instantly puts you to sleep.
  • Invisibility: Can be inflicted on yourself in a variety of ways: a wand of invisibility, a rare ring of invisibility, or the Invisibility Cloak mentioned below. Most useful for sneaking past monsters without ESP or Infravision, especially kamikaze dwarves.
  • Invisibility Cloak: A rare magical variant of cloak that can spawn.
  • Invisible Monsters: Invisible stalkers, as well as mystic frogs, both light and dark. Experiment ZQ-29 the spider silk golem and Sherarax the mistress queen are invisible bonus bosses.
    • Even worse in ZQ-29's case, as being a golem, you cannot use ESP nor infravision to detect them, as being a golem, they have no mind and no body heat, respectively.
  • Karma Meter: You start the game as Neutral, and your alignment changes towards Lawful or Chaotic (or remains at Neutral) depending on which deities you prefer to pray to.
  • Killer Rabbit: Every single "carnivorous mutant bunny" in the dungeons is out for your blood. Ivan's pet Vladimir takes this Up to Eleven.
  • Land Mine Goes "Click!": Downplayed; while you hear "a faint thump" whenever you step on a mine or gas trap, it still sets off immediately.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Averted. While all monsters larger than one tile (such as Elpuri or Lobh-se) destroy any terrain they move into, this has no negative effect on the dungeon as a whole.
  • Low Culture, High Tech: Inverted. The natives of Tweraif are quite intelligent (all of the banana growers you can speak to mention being a professor or some other cultured profession), but since they are generally provided for by their worship of Silva, they have little need of technology.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: The enner beast found on Gloomy Cave level 5, to the extent that when you're close enough, it will severely damage you even through excellent armor. Enner Children can also be found halfway or so through the Tomb of Xinroch.
  • Magic Wand: Averted. Magic wands produce magical effects, but do not actually require any magical ability to use. Dark mages and necromancers wield quarterstaffs, but those are more for self-defense than any sort of casting implement.
  • Matter Replicator: Wands of cloning and mirroring (the difference being that mirrored items disappear after awhile). Horns of plenty also apply, producing food when used.
  • Mirror Self: Quite literally, if you zap yourself with a wand of mirroring. Iscaldirh can summon hostile mirror images of you.
  • Multiple Endings: Four of them.
    • Freedom: You bring Elpuri's head back to Petrus, who grants your freedom.
    • Knighthood: You bring back the Shirt of the Golden Eagle. Petrus knights you.
    • Avatar of Chaos: Kill Petrus (and likely the rest of Attnam as well, as the game will not let you leave an area with nearby hostiles) and take his left nut out of town. Mortifier takes you in as his second-in-command.
    • High Priest: Kill Petrus, become the champion of Valpurus, and sit on the golden throne with the Shirt of the Golden Eagle on.
  • Native Guide: Kaethos the village elder was forced to be this after he lost his leg, due to being unfit to collect bananas.
  • Necromancer: Can be found later on in the various dungeons.
  • Noob Cave: Quite literally.
  • Oh, Crap!: The PC will be stricken with the "panic" status (preventing you from attacking unless surrounded, and forcing you into a run) upon sighting a monster with ridiculously higher stats. Monsters can have a similar reaction if you wound them enough (or use a horn of fear). This can be prevented by anything that causes the "Fearless" status.
  • Off with His Head!: Decapitation is not uncommon. Strangely downplayed with Elpuri, while Petrus demands his head, no matter which way you kill him his head will always drop as an item.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Downplayed. While the dwarves mentioned in lore play this trope straight, the only ones you encounter in-game are religious fanatic kamikaze dwarves.
  • Plague Zombie: Zombies can give leprosy to the player.
  • Praetorian Guard: It might seem averted at first - but that's because Petrus' elite guards, as well as Sir Haedlac Galladon VII, are all invisible (unless, of course, you have infravision and/or ESP).
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: There exist "bones" files - occasionally, when entering a level that a past game ended on (except if it's Underwater Tunnel level 1), it will instead load that floor exactly as it was when you died. Including your ghost that will try to attack you. These can range from very helpful to very harmful, as while you can recover your old equipment to augment your current ones, monsters can also do the same.
  • Powerful Pick: A few of the shopkeepers wield mithril pickaxes that are perfectly capable at preventing theft.
  • Raised by Wolves: Parodied. According to Kaethos, you were found having been seemingly raised by hippos since birth.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Used extensively.
    • Rings of teleportation or polymorph will do more harm than good without their corresponding "Control" effect.
    • Wands of lightning or thunder hammers are just as likely to send their bolts back at you, which necessitates electricity resistance.
    • While you can stand safe from wands of fireball, the mace named Turox has a chance to cause an explosion when you attack with it - remember the fire resistance in this case.
    • To get the High Priest ending, you need to have the secondary power of being a champion of Valpurus, in addition to having the Shirt of the Golden Eagle.
  • Ring of Power: Many varieties. The more common types offer elemental resistances, or cause teleporting/polymorphing statuses, while the rarer varieties offer powerful status effects such as (but not limited to) Tele-Control or Poly-Control.
  • Schmuck Bait: Notably, wands and certain enchanted weapons.
    • The Attnamese cathedral is Schmuck Bait Central. Walk through the treasury and talk to the harem all you like - but you better not touch! Downplayed because you get a clear warning that says it's prohibited whenever you try to pick anything up in there.
    • There is also a guaranteed Dwarven Minefield that will spawn somewhere in the first few floors of the Gloomy Cave, which contains many valuable items. Downplayed, as you can eliminate all the mines with a single prayer to Silva, or use of a scroll of earthquake.
  • Shoplift and Die: If you're invisible (or there is vision obstruction, such as from an earthquake or wand of door creation) you can steal from shopkeepers...but the locals will all somehow instantly know about it and come after you.
    • This also goes for the underground shops.
  • Suicide Attack: Kamikaze dwarves.
    • Even worse? Veteran kamikaze dwarves. They survived the first time, and are determined to correct their mistake. Their suicide bombs are so powerful they reduce a fair chunk of the nearby cave to rubble.
Veteran kamikaze dwarf of (god name): (sobs) I've lost all of my friends and self-esteem because of the failure.
  • Slave Liberation: At any time, you can go back to New Attnam and kill Decos and his goons. (Be careful not to attack the slaves, as then they will be hostile to you as well.) After killing all them, as well as the tourists, you can talk to Kaethos to get a new quest: to slay Lobh-Se and retrieve a sapling of Silva herself, and then plant it where the banana dropoff was, ensuring the village's safety from any future invading Attnamese forces.
  • Stock Gods: The 12 gods present in the game fall into this pretty clearly:
    • Top God: Valpurus, the Great Frog, the faith of Attnam. Will not do anything for you until you reach Champion status, which is also required to obtain the "High Priest" ending, at which point granting you a valpurium long sword and/or valpurium shield.
    • God of Order: Legifer, the right-hand man to Valpurus. Interesting to note is that when you pray and cause an explosion, the archangel mentioned is Inlux, who is the archangel of Valpurus.
    • God of Good: Atavus. His symbol is even that of a wrapped present. He can enchant your armor at random, but when your favour is high enough, he can bestow upon you an arcanite armor of great health, which can be very useful.
    • Love Goddess: Dulcis. Excels at charming things, as you might expect, which is very handy when your Charisma isn't high enough to do so and/or you lack scrolls of taming/a lyre of charm.
    • Food Goddess: Seges. Will ensure that you always remain well-fed, in addition to being able to cure you of diseases and expunge poisons.
    • God Of Knowledge: Sophos. Will often just teleport you randomly (even bypassing teleport control); however, (most of) the materials he is aligned with are among the best in the game (i.e. arcanite, octiron, etc.), while not requiring Champion level of worship like Valpurus or Mortifer, making him a solid choice for acquiring absurdly powerful limbs.
    • Nature Goddess: Silva, the original faith of Tweraif before conquered by Attnam. Will summon earthquakes, which is very useful for dealing with mines without tediously searching every time you move, but also will cause rain to pour on you if you're on fire, feed you if you're very hungry/starving, or summon tame wolves if you're in a town.
    • Ultimate Blacksmith: Loricatus. Will repair your weapons and armor, and can even harden the material of your weapons rarely.
    • Wealth Power: Mellis. Will "trade" the empty bottles/cans in your inventory for ones filled with random food/liquids, as well as granting knowledge of unknown gods and occasionally giving "pocket change".
    • Messenger God/Trickster God: Cleptia. Will grant you haste and/or invisibility, or slow nearby enemies.
    • [[Plaguemaster Plague God]]: Scabies. Mutates you, or will vomit acid on enemies nearby.
    • Evil Love Goddess: Nefas. Will either give you a bottle of vodka, seduce(confuse) nearby enemies, or spawn a random kind of mistress, a skilled whip-wielder who finds pleasure in pain.
    • Wizard God: Infuscor. Will grant you ESP or polymorph control, or viciously set fire to nearby enemies.
    • War God: Cruentus. Will enchant your weapons, or cause nearby enemies to panic by sounding divine war drums.
    • God of Evil: Mortifer. Like Valpurus, he will only answer your prayers at Champion level, bestowing upon you the unholy mace Neerc Se'Ulb, which has a life-stealing effect.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Word of God states that magic wands are the result of dwarven research into magic.
  • Techno Babble: With sufficiently high INT and/or WIS, you can engage in conversations with certain NPCs and friendly monsters that effectively amount to this; they're a reliable way of further increasing those stats.
Example: You dive into a brief but thought-provoking debate about neolithic sick literature with Kaethos the village elder.
  • Teleport Interdiction: Inverted with the "teleport control" status. Normally, teleports send you to a random location on the level you're currently on; however, with this status effect, you can choose where you end up (unless you are teleported by Sophos, as detailed above), with the range that you're allowed to choose based on your INT - pick a space beyond that, and it'll go back to being randomized.
    • Played straight with amulets of dimensional protection.
  • The Many Deaths of You: 'Nuff said.
  • There Are No Good Executives: An optional sidequest is to liberate your homeland from slavery by killing a dual-whip-wielding capitalist and his cronies. The Attnamese leadership is also shown to be benevolent tyrants at best.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Unfortunately, the player is usually on the receiving end of said overkill.
  • The Usurper: Petrus became High Priest by killing his predecessor. You can do the same to achieve the High Priest ending.
  • Torture Cellar: The basement of the Attnam cathedral is both a prison and this. Richel Decos' brother is the resident Torture Technician.
  • Tragic Monster: Lobh-Se the behemoth spider. According to Kaethos, they are the bastard child of Scabies and Nefas, and have acquired every single disease in existence and have been bitten by every single poisonous creature. If you try to talk to them in their nest, they will simply cry.
  • Unobtainium: Three different very hard-to get ones, in fact. [[Downplayed]] in the sense that if you train your INT high enough, you can simply use a Scroll of Change Material to get them.
    • Valpurium: The most well-known, very light and also very hard. The above Justifier is made of it, however, you can get your own weapons without INT boosting by becoming a Champion of Valpurus; he will bestow upon you a valpurium long sword and/or valpurium shield.
    • Golden eagle feather (GEF for short): What the Shirt of the Golden Eagle is made of, this is technically stronger than valpurium, but very ill-suited for weapons, instead being used for armor.
    • Psypher: An interesting variant in that there are no natural forms of it (outside of the artifact "cursed pickaxe of Kharaz-Arad"), it is even harder than valpurium or GEF, but somewhat moredense by a decent amount. It also costs a ridiculous amount of INT to transform: whereas valpurium and GEF cost 50, psypher costs '150'.
  • With This Herring: Played to the ultimate. Since you are a slave and your boss is a cheapskate to rival Ebenezer Scrooge, your entire inventory at the beginning consists of just the scroll you must deliver. The early stages of gameplay are mostly spent trying not to become monster chow before you can sufficiently arm, clothe, and feed yourself with whatever you can find lying around.
    • Pushed even farther when you deliver the scroll: the recipient sends you on a fetch quest that is a hundred times more dangerous, for which you are given nothing more than a location on your worldmap.
  • Villains Out Shopping: If you befriend an enner beast, it mentions that it loves to fish. The splash screen that you can see before entering its level shows it carrying a fishing pole and a bucket.
  • Wizard Beard: All dark mages have one, but Petrus' (and the player's, if you get your WIS stat high enough) takes the cake. Iscaldirh's, too, but it isn't quite as bushy as the former two.
Sir Haedlac Galladon VII the master guard: My great-great-grandfather, Sir Haedlac Galladon IV, once told me a tale from his own grandfather, that when Petrus first led the Revolution, his beard was only one foot long. Not that I would believe such outlandish claims.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: Downplayed. Hunger is an important part of the game, but there are several means of obtaining arguably infinite food.
    • Praying to Seges will usually result in becoming Satiated.
    • Mellis will "trade" empty cans and bottles (and even banana peels) into ones that are filled with random things. For cans, this usually means food.
    • The aforementioned horn of plenty can provide infinite food with a cooldown.


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