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Video Game / Knights of the Chalice

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Knights of the Chalice is a retro-styled tactical Western RPG from indie developer Pierre Begue, released for Windows in 2009 on his website Heroic Fantasy Games. Combat is turn-based, and uses Dungeons & Dragons 3.5e D20 Open Games License. The developer has cited Temple of Elemental Evil and Dark Sun: Shattered Lands as being major influences, while the plot is mainly based on classic Dungeons & Dragons modules Scourge of the Slave Lords and Against the Giants.

You begin the game by creating a 4 character party, by choosing one of three races (human, half-elf, and half-dwarf, chosen by the author as animating them would require fewer resources) and classes (fighter, wizard, and cleric), which can then be further customized through attributes and feats later on. You are initially tasked by the eponymous Knights of the Chalice to find one of the missing members, but the plot is mainly there as an excuse to kill things as you go from dungeon to dungeon. The game is combat-focused, and there is little in the way of non-combat related skills and dialogue choices only affect gameplay in certain cases. The game's focus lies on varied combat encounters with a generally intelligent AI, often requiring a more tactical approach to combat, with a big emphasis on using correct positioning and the environment.

Although it has mostly fallen under the radar, it has been generally well received by those who have played it.

Knights of the Chalice 2 started development almost as soon as the original game came out, although the developer took a break to release Battle Of The Sands Real-Time Strategy game in the meantime. However, his determination to create an Even Better Sequel led him to expand the number of playable classes from 3 to 22, with corresponding increases in the number of skills and skill-related dialogue options, as well as an increased number of monsters, equipment, location tiles, etc.

This growth in complexity had protracted the development to almost a decade in length, and also led to a controversial Art Shift to a strict top-down perspective, where every character is represented by nothing but round tokens. As of 2019, the first module of the game, Augury of Chaos, is finished, and Pierre Begue is about to start a Kickstarter for the rest. The trailer is here.

This game contains examples of:

  • All Deaths Final: Averted, as there's a True Resurrection spell. There's also a Raise Dead spell, but it's not something you would normally want to use.
  • Breath Weapon: Dragons obviously possess these, which differ based on their color. While "normal" red dragons blast out fire, for instance, black dragons contend themselves with Weakening, which drains 1d6 Strength points.
    • Iron Golems have a Cone of Electricity as their Breath Weapon, and it works even if they are silenced. Luckily, they might accidentally hit their allies with it as well.
  • Counter-Attack: Happens if a defending character spent their the remainder of their preceding turn to get "ready versus" an attack. Spellcasters can even get ready to counter-spell.
  • Critical Hit: Present if you get a lucky roll.
  • Dialogue Tree: Present, and having certain skills will regularly unlock extra options in them.
  • Elemental Weapon: Present in the hands of friends and foes alike. During the late-game "ambassador" ambush, for instance, Mul warriors will have minor Shock damage enchantments on their weapons.
  • Excuse Plot: The game starts with a kidnapping and and attack on your order's keep, and an bigger evil plot is uncovered as the game progresses, but that's mostly an excuse to go explore dungeons and fight monsters.
  • Fantasy Character Classes: 3 standard D&D classes are used.
    • The fighter is the basic fantasy warrior whose main purpose is to take hits and attack with either melee or ranged weapons. Usually wears heavy armor.
    • The cleric is the main healer, who also provides buffs and a few offensive spells, being particularly effective against undead foes. Usually wears heavy armor.
    • The wizard is the main offensive spellcaster, with a range of available spells that can cause other effects. Wears no armor.
  • Flaming Sword: Giant Balor monsters carry these.
  • Flash of Pain: Dying combatants flash red for a couple of seconds before disappearing.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Averted, for both attacks on your side, and those on the enemy's.
  • Giant Mook: Plenty of them, like Trolls, Golems, Balors, etc.
  • Giant Spider: Present, and they can be very powerful. If you mind-control one in the same encounter where it's next to black dragons, their attacks will often inflict no damage on it, after accounting for its shell and damage reduction.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: It's possible fight in this manner. The main advantage of unarmed combat is that it enables grappling.
  • Grapple Move: Can be done by the unarmed characters, friend and foe alike, and prevents the target from attacking or escaping unless they manage to break free. Large creatures like Balors can also do it if they have just one hand free. However, their targets will get saving throws, like with nearly every other attack.
  • Item Crafting: Wizards can craft wands and scrolls.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: Your party members can do this with the Dominate Monster spell.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: There's a Sound Burst "spell-like ability", though while it has a good area of effect, it only inflicts scratch damage compared to what proper fireballs and the like can do.
  • Morale Mechanic: Exists, and can be both lowered through debuff spells, and raised by Clerics' Bless. (Which can also be used by their equivalents, like Troll Shamans).
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: A giant red dragon worshipped by a cult is named Tyranixxus.
  • Life Drain: Vampires' attacks drain levels from their enemies, while giving them HP.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: A bad attack roll on a shield-bearing character can lead to a message "attack hits shield, does no damage".
  • Luck Stat: Present amongst friends and foes alike. Spellcasters on both sides of the aisle can give "Lucky" condition to their allies through Prayer.
  • One-Hit Kill: Finger of Death amounts to this, unless the target is protected by Death Ward. There's a Silenced variation, too!
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same:
    • Although the "mul" has the typical dwarven strength bonus and dexterity penalty, they aren't your typical dwarves, being crossbreeds with humans, They were borrowed from the Dark Sun setting.
    • While not available as player characters, regular dwarves are encountered in the game, most prominently in an underground cave, where you can help overthrow their king who has gone mad.
  • Plot Tunnel: There are several dungeons in the game where you end up having your exit blocked when reaching a certain point, and the only way to proceed is by beating a specific encounter.
  • Psychic Powers: A range of these, which are distinct from spells in that they are called "spell-like abilities" and are not affected by Silence. For instance, Thri-Kreen humanoids can attack at range with Mind Blast, while still carrying good melee weapons.
  • Regenerating Health: Trolls possess this.
  • Sizeshifter: Enlarge Person spell allows your knights to go toe-to-toe with trolls, golems and other giants.
  • Spin Attack: The Whirlwind attack.
  • Summon Magic: There's a "Summon Fire Elemental" spell, usable by both your spellcasters and the hostile ones.
  • Status Buff: Being based on D&D, several buff spells exist that produce effects such as increasing your attributes, increasing defenses against certain types of attacks, increasing your speed, etc. Unlike many other Western RPGs, you aren't able to "pre-buff," and can only use healing spells outside of battle.
  • Talking Animal: Giant Spiders can talk, and will even give quests to the party.
  • Taken for Granite: There's a Flesh to Stone spell. It can even be cast defensively: i.e. automatically in response to attacks.
    • There's also a defensive variation with Stone Skin spell.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifter: There's an optional battle near the very end of the game, where your characters agree to escort Knight Commander Karef to a meeting with the ambassador of a southern Kingdom of Numidia, waiting outside the fortress. As soon as you exit the gates, the ambassador shapeshifts to his true form - a Giant Spider - and lifts the spell of invisibility from a whole horde of its allies, including similarly powerful creatures like a Medusa, an Iron Golem and a Troll Shaman.
  • Weapon of X-Slaying: There are several kinds of slaying arrows that instantly kill an enemy of the appropriate type that fails its save, and is not guarded by Death Ward. Watch out for your enemies deploying humanoid slaying arrows!
  • You All Look Familiar: There's only one sprite for each of the monster types.