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Video Game / Lusternia

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One of several MUDs developed by Iron Realms Entertainment (of Achaea fame), Lusternia was released in 2004 and combines elements of fantasy, sci-fi, planar travel, steampunk, and cosmic horror stories.

Long ago, there was nothing but a presence called Yudhe. Lonely and bored, he conjured two daughters for company: Magnora and Dynara, who became, respectively, manifestations of Destruction and Creation. For many eons, Dynara would create planets, stars and galaxies for her own amusement; Magnora would follow behind and eat the result. The only thing Dynara could not truly create was life. Though she did manage to beget intelligent beings, they were soulless and hideous, existing only to eat. Magnora either devoured these monsters, or kept them as playthings, feeding them scraps and making them ever-more monstrous. All this changed when Yudhe begat a son. This nameless, formless son taught Dynara the secret of true creation — splitting off pieces of themselves, the two siblings could create lesser forms of life.


Dynara loved these intelligent, many-varied creatures very much, and refused to let Magnora devour them, disrupting the natural order and enraging her sister. Consumed by anger, Magnora ate the Nameless Son of Yudhe, and he vanished from existence. Both Dynara and Magnora were overcome with sorrow, for they were both part of Yudhe, and he was much affected by the loss of his son. Together, they struck out to find him, departing the universe in their quest, never to return. Only their children were left behind. While the older, Soulless Gods sought only to consume, pervert and destroy, the younger gods (dubbed 'Elders' by the half-formed Gods who, without Dynara, would never grow to full potential) sought to populate the world with plants, animals, nature spirits and life. The Elder Gods were drawn to the First World, Lusternia, to make it whole with their efforts: the Soulless Gods, further out in the cold Void, were drawn to the First World to eat their siblings and destroy the universe.


And so a great war fought between the Soulless Gods and the Elder Gods decimated the land. Many Soulless and Elders died in the skirmish, until only the five mightiest Soulless Gods remained: Illith the Leviathan, Crazen the Greedy, Great Muud, Zenos the Silent Death, and Kethuru the Almighty. The remaining Elder Gods either fled into the void or "sharded" — the Gods that 'sharded' died, but also created the mortal races, which retained qualities of their 'parent' God. The mortals fought, and ultimately imprisoned the remaining Soulless after many years of conflict. They built a mighty empire in the intervening years, and all was prosperous...

... but the civilization grew stagnant and proud. Their quest for ever greater power inadvertently released the mightiest of the Soulless, Kethuru, from his prison, and his tainted effluence transformed many mortals into undead monstrosities before he could be re-sealed. The Empire fell apart, numerous new animosities (and old ones long forgotten) were sparked, and war began. Even the return of the Elder Gods didn't change things: the flawed deities, remembering their old animosities, became patrons to favoured mortals and began to fight amongst themselves. There has been conflict ever since between the chief organizations of Lusternia:

And that's not even the worst of it. Remember the five sealed Soulless? They cannot be destroyed even with the return of the Elder Gods; they've devoured too much of reality, and are now an integral part of the universe. Kill them and you kill everyone and everything else. That wouldn't be so bad if their prisons were foolproof, but, well, they have a habit of breaking free. Once a generation, at least one of the horrors will slip through the cracks and the boldest adventurer of the time must ascend to divinity to reseal them once more.

Notable for a rich, intricate history and dynamic player-run politics, it can be played via browser at

Lusternia provides examples of:

  • Action Survivor: Lolly Pringle in the histories, who was present at the outbreak of the Taint. He survived into old age, and even managed to beat up Emperor Ladantine!
  • The Alcoholic: Kalikai. Extra points for being a Drunken Master of strategic warfare.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Soulless Gods, naturally.
  • Alien Geometries:
    • Bound to happen when H. P. Lovecraft is a main inspiration. Notably, the cosmic plane of Continuum exists in multiple dimensions on one axis. It makes mapping it without 3D-imaging a pain in the ass.
    • Also, the Gaudiguch nexus world. In some locations, you can squint forwards a few rooms to see yourself.
  • An Adventurer Is You: Players and NPCs are distinguished by the terminology "adventurer" and "denizen", respectively.
  • Angels, Devils and Squid: The resident angels range from pacifistic hippies to avenging crusaders. The resident demons range from hedonistic, semi-human revellers to powerful, hulking monsters. However, both camps can be bargained with and worshipped; the real demons of the setting are the Lovecraft-inspired Soulless Gods.
  • Animal Eye Spy: Trackers can see and hear things through their bonded canines. Illuminati can do likewise, courtesy of a visceral little creature called a ribbachi.
  • Apathetic Citizens: The longer you play, and the more Apocalypse How scenarios you see, the more jaded you will become.
  • Apocalypse How: Class X-4 will happen if the Soulless break free of their prisons.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The updates on Project Cosmic Hope devolve into this.
    The prophets who were standing around the Stone have fallen! A black smoke is pouring out of the Stone now [...] The prophets are slowly getting back up but they're [...] (garbled) [...] Sweet Light, it's moving fast! We've got to get out of here! Run! RUN! [...] (garbled)
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Omnipresent in Magnagora, where aristocrats happen to be The Undead and cannibals.
  • ASCII Art: Try smoking weed or drinking absynth. Smiley faces ahoy!
  • Asskicking Equals Authority:
    • In game, it's very common for players which are skilled at the incredibly complex combat system to be prime candidates for political positions. This is more marked in the more recent IRE games.
    • Also invoked with the elected Champion of each guild. It's their duty to train up the rest of the guild, and take the front in any combat situation.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Wiccans can transform players into toads, and Gods can turn players into giant maggots if sufficiently pissed off.
  • Beast Man: Loboshigaru (pack-based dogmen); Furrikin (little furballs that can look like anything from raccoons to bears); Tae'dae (big-ass bears, natch); Aslaran (solitary, noble catmen)... even Taurians (racist, berserking bull-men). The game is basically a paradise for furries!
  • Beneath the Earth: The Undervault, a subterranean continent featuring two warring races: the insectile, matriarchal Kephera and the soulless, ego-vampiric Illithoid.
  • Beware My Stinger Tail: A special ability of Nihilists.
  • BFG: The members of The Institute get one of these in the void blaster, and they wield it one-handed.
  • Big Bad: Kethuru the Almighty, dead but dreaming. The other Soulless (Illith the Leviathan, Crazen the Greedy, Great Muud and Zenos the Insubstantial) count, too.
  • Blood Knight: The Second Circle of Elder Gods is a whole pantheon of these. Shikari is regarded as a Blood Knight even by their standards, though, prolonging fights and playing with his prey for the pleasure of it.
  • Bolt of Divine Retribution: Elder Gods can do this to impudent mortals, in two varieties. First up is a warning shot intended to terrify the target into compliance; if that doesn't work, well...
  • Booze-Based Buff: Drinking can dull damage. Certain races (particularly dwarves — natch) can handle their beer way better than others. And Brewmeisters can handle it better still, in addition to brewing their own magical draughts. Consequently, a drunken dwarf Brewmeister is a force to be feared.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Par for the course in all IRE games.
  • Call to Adventure: An interesting take: adventurers must venture through the Portal of Fate to be marked by destiny. It's implied that people who don't do this squander their potential and remain as NPCs.
  • Came Back Wrong: Orlachmar's the poster boy for this trope. A case could be made that every undead created by The Taint Came Back Wrong, considering how megalomaniacal and cruel the scientists of Project Cosmic Hope became following their exposure to it.
  • Came Back Strong: The initial influx of Taint started in Magnagora, killing everyone in the city. They came back stronger and almost immortal.
  • Chain Pain: The Ninjakari guild: stealthy, potentially psionic assassins... whose weapon of choice is enormous bladed chains.
  • Character Level: With the reward of Titanhood at level 99, and Demigodhood at 100. Endgame content for Demigods is sparkly indeed.
  • Chess Motifs: Fain's aesthetic is a mixture of this and a Masquerade Ball.
  • Chronic Back Stabbing Disorder: Every player-run organisation has had these moments.
  • Church Of Evil: The Nihilists are the priesthood of Magnagora, and they are about as sunny as you'd expect. Their task includes the worship of five demon lords, and a hefty chunk of the members are liches.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: Nifilhema, the Queen of Insufferable Cruelty, a demon of pain and lust. Her followers are also encouraged to become this — in fact, to even reach her dwelling requires jumping down a deep pit and entering an iron maiden, both of which can and will kill unprepared players.
  • Combat Tentacles: Kethuru has these. They're detachable and independently sentient.
  • Combos: Monks specifically, though the entire PvP system is based on chaining synergistic attacks together.
  • Continuing is Painful: Dying saddles you with a hefty XP loss. Fortunately, many skills can mitigate or outright avoid death. Once you reach level 100, you become a Demigod, and XP is replaced with essence. You need to buy your neat endgame Demigod abilities with essence, and it takes an awful lot to get all the ones you want: however, you lose essence when you die, so you always need to keep a reasonable buffer up. Because if you die and lose all your essence? Booted back to level 99. Level 99 and 50%, which is a huge amount at that level. Oh, and all those neat abilities you may have bought — they won't be retained if you reach level 100 again. You have to re-buy them all.
  • Convection Schmonvection: You can walk right up to a pool of lava without taking damage. In fact, a newbie quest requires you to do so, in order to drop a stone in said lava. And then you pick it up, only wearing gloves. Gaudiuch also deserves special mention, being the city of fire, although it is justified by being founded by dracnari, who have an innate resistance to fire and heat.
  • Costume Porn: Trademasters can periodically submit a number of cartel designs. The result is extreme customization of everything from robes to platemail to furniture. Your character can be as richly (or as drably) attired as you desire.
  • Council of Angels: Five extradimensional angelic beings (Supernals) are worshipped by the Celestine Guild: Shakiniel the Defender, Raziela the Pure, Methrenton the Crusader, Japhiel the Wise, and Elohora the Noble.
  • Crapsack World: It's not wholly without hope, but between the world-devouring monsters, the Jerkass Gods and the many mortal villains, things aren't exactly optimistic.
  • Critical Hit: These can range from the standard 2x damage, to a whopping 32x damage.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: Hallifax all the way. Extra points for many of the denizens being made of crystal themselves.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • The Vernal deity Urlach, who used The Undead as shock troopers against The Soulless. This brought him into conflict with other, more idealistic Vernals.
    • Gaudiuch is the city of chaos and fire, and it shows, but talking to its NPC inhabitants reveals that it does, in fact, have a few laws to protect the basic rights of its citizens (such as freedom of speech). Rather than being a free-for-all, Gaudiuch has the rule that you may do whatever you want as long as you don't impede someone else's freedom.
    • Of course, there is also nothing stopping players from being decent people regardless of race, so it's entirely possible to play as a kind and humble viscanti or illithoid.
  • Death Is Cheap: You only die permanently by killing off your own character. You can't even do that if you've purchased credits.
  • Decadent Court: Magnagora. A city full of power-hungry, vain aristocrats — what could possibly go wrong?
  • Death World: The Astral Plane, the outermost layer of existence (that mortals can reach), and the one closest to Kethuru and The Void. It's populated by grotesquely mutated animals and much of the plant-life is sentient and malevolent. Just spending time there gradually erodes the players Sanity Meter and low-level players are killed within seconds by the inhospitable environment.
  • Deity of Human Origin: With enough grinding, eventually you will ascend to the role of Demigod. There are also some other paths to take.
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils: Five extradimensional Demon Lords are worshipped by the Nihilists Guild: Nifilhema, patron of pain, lust and torture; Gorgulu, Body Horror-riffic patron of greed and madness; Ashtorath, patron of wrath and vengeance; Baalphegar, patron of fear and knowledge; and Luciphage, patron of ambition, patience and dominance.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Every so often, an admin-controlled event will cause one of the Soulless Gods to be released, forcing the (normally warring) player organizations to work together and defeat them.
  • Dream Weaver: Dreamweaving is a skillset available to mages. In the histories, Emperor Ladantine was an accomplished Dream Weaver, and used the skill for purposes of espionage and reconnaissance following his Face–Heel Turn.
  • Dual Wielding: The specialty of two Warrior subsets, as well as two Monk guilds.
  • Dumb Is Good: Played with. Raziela, the Supernal of Love and Peace, is not outright stupid, but she has the mind of a twelve year old, making her incredibly naive and trusting. She's also one of the most powerful mobs in the game (even stronger than her fellow Supernals), and her counterpart in the Demon Lords is a horribly mutated blob with little reasoning left.
  • Emotion Eater: The Illithoid, kind of. Their target has to be dead to be fed from, and the corpse is destroyed by their feeding, but it does boost their psychic potential exponentially as a result. Also played straight with a number of player abilities that allow you to drain mana/ego from other players.
  • Emotions vs. Stoicism: Respectively Gaudiguch VS Hallifax.
    The Gaudiguch Gossip: "With her scales glowing with the absolutely fabulous new range of emerald powder (recently imported from Newton), Scuchi caused quite the stir when she set the robes of Professor Lars, the Hallifax Ambassador, on fire (accidentally, I'm sure!) after the stone-faced lucidian was overheard to say, "Gaudiguch is a cesspool of illogical extremism." Go Scuchi!"
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The consequence of losing against the Soulless.
  • Evil Feels Good: The Taint, all the way.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: The Tainted. Justified by the fact that many Tainted are also The Undead; liches in particular can cloak themselves in a cold aura, which passively freezes their enemies.
  • Evil Is Visceral: The Taint once more. Many viscanti are malformed mutants, and Gorgulu (one of the demi-deities they worship) is an amorphous mass of mouths and tentacles, which lives in a cave covered in fleshy outgrowths.
  • Evil Sorcerer: The Nihilist Priesthood is a whole church of them. They worship extradimensional Demon Lords, practice Necromancy and wage a veritable war against the Three Fates (since the Nihilists regard predestination as slavery, and undead immortality as the path to freedom from it). Ironically enough, the Nihilists once worshipped the Fates, but forsake them when they didn't lift a finger to save them from becoming... well, what they became.
  • The Fair Folk: Glomdoring's take on Fae include redcaps, barghests and slaugh. Their native race, Shadow Faelings, are a cross between The Fair Folk and Dark Elves.
  • Fantastic Racism: Several races are discriminated against in all the major organisations. Merian and Viscanti (the native races of Celest and Magnagora, respectively) deserve special mention for looking down on everyone — especially each other.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The chief organizations have a lot of basis in real life countries. Magnagora is much like WW2-era Germany, with their emphasis on racial purity and extreme nationalism; Hallifax, meanwhile, is a clear take-off of Communist Russia, right down to their aims being laid down in "The Collectivist Manifesto". Celest represents a declining British Empire, with their emphasis on nobility coupled with their increasingly vestigial nature. You could also make a case for Gaudiguch being America: freedom-loving party animals engaged in a Forever War with the communist Hallifax.
  • Fish People: The Merian race. They are decidedly non-human in appearance, being scaled, hairless, blue and finned, but are a highly attractive, intelligent and noble race with a proud history of scientific accomplishment. Interbreeding with humans has resulted in a few crossbreeds, some even having hair — but however diluted the Merian genealogy, all "real" Merians can breathe underwater.
  • Foil: All of the major organizations have a foil: Celest V Magnagora, Gaudiguch V Hallifax, and Serenwilde V Glomdoring.
  • For Science!: A common attitude in Hallifax, and the sole reason for being of the Institute. Also apparently the governing philosophy of the Holy Celestine Empire's science department, thus the sheer number of screwed up failed projects littering the world.
  • Fridge Brilliance: Why are the lucidian and trill races so close to each other? Because Xyl and Trillilial were lovers. Why are the tae'dae and furrikin so close? Because Tae and Bollikin were best friends. Why were Urlach and Klangratch so effective at working together, comparative to the other Vernals? Because Orlachmar and Clangorum were good friends. Pieces of God explain an awful lot in this game.
  • Fuel Meter of Power: The most powerful abilities available to players are cast using this. You can only carry a limited amount, and running out necessitates a return to your hometown to recharge. Even if you're inundated with the stuff, it takes time for your powerful abilities to recharge, adding a strategic element to combat.
  • Fusion Dance: Performed by the the Council of the Nine, the last Vernal Gods, during the Vernal War versus the Soulless. The result was Avechna the Avenger, the only entity in existence consistently able to re-seal the Soulless.
  • Gender Bender: Players can do this with the help of an artifact.
  • Gentle Giant: The Tae'Dae and Igasho races.
  • Global Currency: Justified: it's probably a holdover from the Holy Celestine Empire days.
  • The Gods Must Be Lazy: When the current reality is threatened via the Wheel of the Goloths, Avechna doesn't do anything since his domain is the Soulless, and Estarra does shit all because only that reality is threatened, not creation, so it's not her problem. Some of the Divine of Glomdoring, Shikari and Nocht do take the fight to Xynthin when he tries to destroy the Basin and overrun it with the Wyrd (Glomdoring's forest) but they end up being catapulted to the near future halfway through the battle allowing Xynthin to continue his plans. It flip-flops on whether Divine step in to help mortals or not. See also Heroic Sacrifice for a tragic subversion.
  • Godzilla Threshold: When a Soulless appears (Usually Kethuru).
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: The Dread Lord of Contagion, a Recurring Boss that swiftly moved into the realms of parody in the minds of the players. Even Magnagora considers him a bit much and joins in to defeat him when he appears.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Spending time on planes that imprison Soulless Gods, such as Astral and Muud, will slowly drive players insane, causing them to see, hear, and do bizarre things.
  • If a Supernal leaves their room on Celestia, they will start to go insane, and one of them actually did when she got stuck in Muud.
  • Good Wings, Evil Wings: Celestines have the former; Nihilists have the latter, appropriately.
  • Gray-and-Gray Morality: All the player-run organizations, despite their underlying themes, are only as good or evil as the individual characters that dwell there.
  • Guide Dang It!: Most quests can be figured out with a little common sense, but some of the longer, more involved quests may take repeated trial and error. Fortunately, these quests typically provide players with honor lines in their profile.
  • Have You Seen My God?: Many characters search for their missing Patron God; they tend to be trapped somewhere, sometimes as part of an event.
  • Healing Factor: Many, courtesy of magical abilities, but the Loboshigaru deserve a special mention for their innate Healing Factor.
  • Healing Hands: Healers get these, allowing them to heal others by drawing their wounds and afflictions into them, or purge themselves of wounds at the cost of ego.
  • The Hecate Sisters:
    • Directly referencing the Moirae of Greek mythology, no less: Clotho, the maid (who spins the threads of life), Lachesis, the mother (who measures the threads) and Atropos, the crone (who cuts the thread upon death). They govern the destinies of all mortals who are marked by the Portal of Fate — namely, every Player Character.
    • Lisaera also takes on the form of the maiden, mother and crone as she wishes (though she is referencing the fae of the Moondancers rather than the Fates).
  • Hermetic Magic: Highmagic, which specifically references the Kabbalah: each spell corresponds to a Sefirah sphere.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: When Kethuru uses Hallifax's time and energy generators to try and break through via a rift, Elostian turns himself into energy to increase Hallifax's strength and close it, leaving his Order devastated.
  • Horror Hunger: Fain and his followers devoured Soulless essence to gain their powers during the Elder Wars. The Dark Side Will Make You Forget, though, and they began devouring other Elders too...
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: We're apparently from a different dimension, and are implied variously to be descended from a powerful divinity. (Or just refugees from Achaea.) Either way, we're regarded as one of the strangest of the mortal races.
  • Humans Are Special: Humans start out as one of the weaker races, with no strengths and no weaknesses to speak of. However, they earn experience significantly faster than everyone else, and at level 50 they begin evolving, their eventual statistics dependant on their class. A high-level human, therefore, is good for anything. Also, they are the only race that can mate with every other race.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Illithoid, the only known race to have descended from a Soulless.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: All of the factions claim this about the morally questionable things they do, from using the Taint, to having inquisitions, to torture, to releasing one Soulless God from its prison so that it would devour another, smaller Soulless. This ended about as you'd expect.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place:
    • Magnagora and Gaudiuch are known as the City of Evil and the City of Chaos, respectively. Gaudiuch subverts it though, as it isn't actually such a bad place to live. That is, if you don't mind the fire.
    • The cosmic plane of Nil, which is directly tied to Magnagora, houses five demon lords whose lairs have appropriately ominous names as well.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: A special ability of Necromancers permits this. A particularly Squick-laden version is found in Glomdoring, where druids of Crow devour flesh then regurgitate it to construct their nests.
  • Improbable Weapon: The Ninjakari wield giant bladed chains. To maximize their potential, they have to build up momentum by keeping them constantly in motion. Chainblades, yo.
  • Inhumanly Beautiful Race: Faeling tend towards this. Even — especially — the Drow-esque shadow faeling, despite their ashy complexion and crimson eyes.
  • Intangible Man: Zenos the Insubstantial. Also the Vernal God/dess Vestera, who became particularly vulnerable to Zenos as a consequence.
  • Involuntary Transformation: One of the many side-effects of the Taint.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: An hour in the real world is a day in Lusternia. Each Lusternian month is twenty five days long, and there are twelve of them, so a year is around twelve and a half days real time.
  • Item Crafting: Each player can choose from one of eight main trades, from standard MMO fare like Enchantment and Forging, to the more obscure, such as Brewmeistery and furniture making. Trademasters can submit a certain number of new designs each in-game month, meaning there's a lot of clothes and armour floating around.
  • Jerkass Gods: Virtually all of the Gods have an agenda of some sort. Some of them, like Elostian, are relatively benign; others, like Eventru, are more aggressive; still others, like Fain, veer into God of Evil territory.
  • Kill It with Fire: Pyromancers can throw fireballs, make it rain fire and can surround themselves by a ring of fire. And then Astrologers manage to top it all by summoning huge, burning meteors on their enemies.
  • Level Grinding: Good lord. When you reach level 99, it takes the same amount it took you to reach that level to reach 100.
  • Lizard Folk: The Dracnari, native race of Gaudiguch. Unusually for the trope, they're an intelligent and proud race, instead of the traditional evil mooks.
  • Magitek: Aetherwave communication is basically radio crossed with psychic powers crossed with the internet. Magic is used for all sorts of mundane utility.
  • Masquerade Ball: Fain has an aesthetic that mixes Masquerade Ball and Chess Motifs. Appropriately, his appearance is an extended Shout-Out to "The Masque of the Red Death", right down to his title ("The Crimson Masque") and his lack of a costume.
  • Massive Race Selection: Twenty playable races, running the gamut from tiny fair folk to hulking sasquatch-men. There are even more unplayable sentient races, primary among them the gnomes and the centaur.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Six player-run organizations that all have their own reasons for wanting to beat on the other five.
  • Mind Screw: The formation of Estarra, which is never fully explained. Basically, Dynara and Magnora (the personifications of creation and destruction, respectively) had a tiff when Magnora devoured the son of Yudhe. Since they were both children of Yudhe too, they were filled with sorrow and teamed up to rediscover him, leaving their children (The Elder and Soulless Gods) behind to do so. This is the simple part. It's implied — though never confirmed — that Yudhe's son somehow ended up in Achaea, where he became the Unnameable Horror of lore and raped the creator Goddess Maya, creating humans. The fact that when Estarra returns, she does so with a bunch of humans in tow, supports this theory. Whatever happened, Estarra re-emerged in Lusternia as the blending of Dynara and Magnora, with all the power that implies.
  • Minigame: Plenty to go around. Figurine battles, battlechess, arena combat (in duel, free-for-all and wargame varieties), aethership combat...
  • Money Spider: Pretty much every NPC has the ability to drop gold, directly based on how powerful they are. So generally you get less gold for killing humanoid foes than Astral critters.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: All of the Soulless Gods have titles such as "Illith the Leviathan" and "Crazen the Greedy". In-universe there's the Glomdoring forest, which in the tongue of the fae means "the forest without mercy".
  • Nature Spirit: Every nature commune has two: a patron animal and an aspect of the earth. Serenwilde has Mother Moon and White Hart, Glomdoring has Mother Night and Mighty Crow, and Ackleberry had/has Sister Lake and Brother Bear.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Empire of Magnagora. While nominally democratic, their aristocracy consists of a Decadent Court, with backroom politics, assassinations and smear campaigns regarded as valid methods of advancement. They are highly racist towards elfen and merian, and are ideologically devoted to The Taint. Their ultimate goal is to conquer and Taint the known world and murder all merian and elfen — fantasy Nazism, through and through.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: All of the Soulless are functionally indestructible thanks to eating so much of reality that they're now an integral part of the universal infrastructure. (Estarra could kill them, but doing so would necessitate recreating the entire multiverse from scratch.) Notably, they're all a slightly different flavour of Nigh-Invulnerability: Kethuru and Zenos are intangible, Illith is The Juggernaut, Crazen's a Blob Monster and Muud has a Healing Factor.
  • No Fourth Wall: The last edition of the Elder Wars acknowledges the existence of Player Characters, referring to them as "Others".
  • Noob Cave: Newton Caverns, home to the eminently disposable Gnomes and Finks. Players of level 21 or over are not allowed.
  • Not a Mask: Fain, a result of the Soulless elixir. He thinks it was worthwhile.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Hallifax is a city of this, to almost parody levels.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The Soulless, of course.
  • One Size Fits All: If your nine-feet tall sasquatch buddy is done with that plate armour, you — a four-feet stocky dwarf — can take it off his paws and wear it, no problem.
  • One-Word Title
  • Order Versus Chaos: Hallifax's bureaucracy versus Gaudiguch's hedonism
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Lampshaded. The Dwarves were originally called Clangoru (descended from the Elder God Clangorum), but when the humans arrived from a different dimension, they immediately started calling the native Clangoru Dwarves, and it eventually stuck. That's because the Clangoru were indistinguishable from the dwarves of the other dimension.
  • Our Liches Are Different: Lichdom is the ultimate skill in Necromancy. The Necromancer dies, but rises again as an archlich — with increased strength and intelligence, a freezing aura, and the ability to bestow a lesser version of lichdom upon non-Necromantic allies. Nihilist priests fit the Evil Sorcerer mould and like the idea of immortality: elite ur'Guard troopers are mainly in it for the increase in power, becoming Death Knights in the process.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The Illithoid race: purple Humanoid Abomination Emotion Eater's.
  • Perpetually Static: Invoked in most quests, which eventually reset, but some of the bigger quests (such as Mount Dio) do not automatically reset, and require a counterquest to return things to normal. Also averted in alliances and warfare between the six player-run organizations. The politics constantly switch around, based on what the leaders consider to be more advantageous at the time.
  • Pieces of God: How most of the mortal races were created, courtesy of (some of) the Elder Gods fragmenting their consciousness in a desperate attempt to overpower the Soulless. (It worked.)
  • Player Versus Player: Not just combat, but swaying NPCs to the side of one's faction involves a separate PvP system just for debating other players.
  • Power Crystal: The Researchers love these and their unique skill, Harmonics, is built around utilizing them. In twelve different flavours of gemstone.
  • Precursor Heroes: The Council of the Nine, the Vernal Gods who originally sealed away the five great Soulless. They stand sentinel today as Avechna the Avenger, and are periodically reawoken if a Soulless manages to seep out of its prison.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Every administrator is an ex-player, save the two head developers.
  • Psychic Powers: Psionics, which mages and monks can take. Kephera and Illithoid deserve a special mention for their innate psionic abilities, though.
  • Psycho Serum: The Soulless Elixir pioneered by Fain and company during the Elder Wars. It made them exponentially more powerful, but more aggressive and megalomaniacal. Ultimately, they began devouring other Elder Gods and were banished to the Void. A certain quest within the game also drastically increases your power reserves, at the cost of driving the player temporarily insane due to parasitic infestation.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Furrikin. Bipedal little fuzzballs, they can look like anything from a panda bear to a raccoon to a sheep, but don't let their appearance fool you — they're smarter than humans and very fast. And not all of them are peaceful, either. Not to mention their links to the Tae'dae...
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: During the Taint Wars, Ackleberry Forest, the former third Commune of Lusternia and homeland of the Furrikin, responded to the various nightmarish circumstances, including seeing one of the other Communes distorted by the Taint and having one of their leaders kidnapped and offered up to the Taint, by deciding to vanish from existence. It's known that it still exists and the Nexus that was located there is still intact, but that's about it. Where it went, how they managed it, and if there's any way it might return are still very much open questions.
  • Secret Police: Part and parcel of the communist motif in Hallifax, especially the Sentinels.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness:
    • How things are named in Hallifax. The Institute's real name is the Institutional Society of Hallifax for the Improvement of Temporal Knowledge.
    • Also an instance of Fun with Acronyms, "I. S.H.I.T., K.".
  • Shout-Out: Lots.
  • Shown Their Work: Also lots. Amongst other things, the Highmagic skill is an extended reference to the Sephirot in Kabbalah, with each skill corresponding to a sphere thereof (e.g. Keter, Yesod, Binah).
  • Space Sailing: Aetherships allow players to fly through aetherspace. Since aetherships are customized entirely by the player who owns them, they run the gamut from hi-tech spaceships, to airships, to pirate ships, and even floating stately homes!
  • State Sec: The Sentinels of Hallifax are a fantasy variant of State Sec. Amongst other things, the Sentinel Company are elite soldiers, Secret Police and Time Police designed to rein in the many paradox-causing experiments of sister organization The Institute. Hallifax in general encourages this trope as part and parcel of its dual futuristic-Communist motif.
  • The Stoic: The Lucidians are basically a race of stoics. More or less.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Influencing.
  • Tarot Motifs
  • The Tetris Effect: More than a few long-time players have reported dreaming in text.
  • Time Police: The Sentinels (also the Secret Police, see below) as a necessary result of Hallifax's and the Institute's For Science! attitude.
  • Training from Hell: The ur'Guard have refined this to an artform.
  • The Undead: Magnagora exalts undeath. Many of the aristocrats therein are lich-lords.
  • Voice of the Legion: Appropriately enough, Morgfyre, the Legion, who speaks with either multiple voices at once or with one voice that changes all the time.
  • Void Between the Worlds: Though there is a place called the Void, it's at the outer limits of existence, and no mortal can survive there; exiled Gods (and more than a few omnicidal monsters) roam through it. The actual role of the Void Between the Worlds is served by aetherspace, a vast and monster-infested gap between the known planes. Players can navigate it with the help of aetherships.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Prevalent in Gaudiguch thanks to the Illuminati and Transmology.
  • Warp Whistle: A number of skillsets allow for quick travel across the world, and the most expensive artifact in the game provides access to a literal Warp Zone, with exits to locations ranging across the entire multiverse. Newbies also get such a zone for a limited period, with exits much more relevant to them.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Though occasionally subverted if a game administrator takes control of an NPC to have conversations with players.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: New Celest. Sure, they have some extreme attitudes, but Old Celest was blown up following the Taint, and its empty husk is now populated by the wailing, hollow-eyed ghosts of their ancestors. You can't really blame them for wanting to do likewise to Magnagora.
  • Whatever Mancy: Geomancers, Aquamancers, Aeromancers and Pyromancers. Unusually for the trope, the diametrically-opposed organizations are not based on elemental ties. Aquamancers (of Celest) are against Geomancers (of Magnagora), while Aeromancers (of Hallifax) are against Pyromancers (of Gaudiguch).
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: You can starve to death... at least until you transcend such things by reaching level 80, at which point you have no need for food or sleep. Even then, classes such as Geomancers can cause starvation through poisonous gases, which often catches the "I no longer need food!" crowd off-guard.
  • Womb Level: Muud. Intended as a hunting ground for high-levelled players, it's correspondingly pretty tough.
  • World Half Full: During the conflict between mortalkind and the Soulless, there were many more mortal races. On top of that, the Basin Of Life (setting for the game) is only around a third of the surface of Lusternia: the rest is a barren, decimated wasteland.