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Video Game / Sacrifice

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"In the realm that was my home, I had devoted my life to study of the arcane. No pursuit was too perilous, no sacrifice too great, until... Well... Under the many heavens, and in the many worlds, there are darker things than Men may dream of..."

Sacrifice is a Real-Time Strategy game for PC, developed by Shiny Entertainment and first released in 2000.

The story of the game is about a wizard named Eldred (or whatever the player chooses to name him), assisted with his familiar Zyzyx, who meets a wise man named Mithras in the aftermath of a great war that has all but destroyed the world. Through a series of flashbacks narrated by Eldred, we learn the story of how he served the five Gods in the game: Persephone, James, Stratos, Pyro or Charnel, and how the intervention of his arch-nemesis, Omnicidal Maniac Marduk, led to the world's present state.

In each battle, the player gathers souls to summon creatures, and then duke it out with other wizards, also supplemented with various spells. Their goal, based on the name, is to find an enemy altar, desecrate it by performing a sacrificial ritual on that altar, and then kill the enemy wizard one last time to banish him.

Where many RTS games give the player a high-level isometric view of the battlefield, and may be vague about where the player character is in all this, the player's wizard avatar is specifically located and is viewed and controlled in the manner of a Third-Person Shooter. The main battlefield view is locked to the wizard's location and the wizard has limited ability to affect things outside their immediate vicinity.

At the beginning of each mission you are told to pick one of the five gods as your patron for that mission, and they will bless you with rewards. The game has a total of five different endings and 45 different levels for each god, inviting a lot of multiple playthroughs. Even still, each god will bless you with a new spell at the end of each one of their missions, with said spells being either Boring, but Practical (healing, energy blasts, elemental spells) to insane feats of magical power (such as summoning entire whirlwinds and creating active volcanoes.)

The game is available through Steam and

This game provides examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: The five gods are Persephone, Stratos, Charnel, Pyro, and... James?
  • Affably Evil: Charnel, despite his status as the unabashedly evil God of Death. In stark contrast to the brutal Pyro, Charnel is entirely understanding if you decide not to stick with him in his ending, and merely wishes you well.
  • Aggressive Negotiations:
    • Persephone's sixth, eighth and ninth mission. In all three cases, it backfires badly on the aggressors.
    • In the third Pyro mission you can either do this or it'll go wrong on its own.
  • A.I. Breaker: In skirmish mode, the AI never uses the low-level but powerful Teleport spell, giving human players an enormous advantage.
  • All There in the Manual: Much of the background surrounding Sacrifice, like what happened to the creator God and why the world is spilt into floating islands. It's also written in the style of the Gods themselves, which makes for an interesting read.
  • All Trolls Are Different: Trolls in Sacrifice are large, green humanoids with a Healing Factor that lack heads and have their faces on their chests instead. They serve the goddess of life, Persephone, and are as such benign. Pyro has a creature known as a firefist, which is a troll with flamethrowers attached to its fists — due to the resulting burns, they do not regenerate. Both variants communicate purely through Hulk Speak.
  • Ambadassador: Ambassador Buta, the rotund emissary of Pyroborea, is a powerful wizard in service of Pyro, god of fire, and doubles as one of Pyro's generals.
  • An Ice Person: Stratos, and some of his servants.
  • Animate Dead:
    • This handy spell is available if you serve Charnel. Despite the moniker, it actually serves more as a straight-up resurrection, sparing you the Mana and time expense of collecting the souls and re-summoning the creature manually.
    • Persephone's ultimate unit can cast a 'breath of life', which functions like this spell, at will. Keeping it constantly resurrecting your creatures prevents it from fighting though.
  • Anti-Hero: Eldred isn't a very nice man (and was possibly a Villain Protagonist in his old world), at best a Pragmatic Hero at the beginning. Depending on the gods you serve and the choices you make, he comes across as anything from The Atoner and The Hero to a Nominal Hero (avoiding Villain Protagonist-hood because Marduk is the one trying to destroy the world).
    Eldred: In Jhera, I had been a man of substance.
    Mithras: A lord? Or perhaps a king?
    Eldred: A tyrant, more like. You would have thought me an evil man.
    Zyzyx: Most people did.
  • Anti-Magic:
    • Troggs, James' first level ground creature, are immune to damage from spells.
    • Acheron, Charnel's champion, takes reduced damage from magic.
  • Antiquated Linguistics: Eldred and Persephone both have a very 'old-fashioned' tone of speaking and use dramatic language and the occasional 'nay' added, though both stop short of actual Flowery Elizabethan English.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The AI plays very cautiously, ignores opportunities to steal souls, and rarely makes a dedicated attempt at desecrating the player's altar. Consequently, unless you play especially badly most of the campaign missions can be won by attrition; no matter how badly you get trounced you can usually rebuild your force and try again.
  • Attract Mode: This was introduced in later patches.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: All 5 top-tier spells have this to some degree.
    • Volcano is great against well-guarded manaliths and looks extremely cool, but on the open battlefield your enemy can move out of the way before it erupts. If you are too close to the volcano the blast stuns you, potentially preventing you from taking any souls of creatures that do get killed.
    • Meanstalks don't do much except throw units in the air for a bit, doing surprisingly little damage and being little more than a glorified distraction. It is best used near the edge of the map so that there is a chance to throw units off of the map.
    • Bore is probably the most useful top-tier spell, but still falls under this. It can utterly destroy units but can't be used near manaliths and is relatively easy to avoid due to taking a while for the bore to actually create the hole. It is also best used sparingly as any creatures that fall off the map can’t have their souls taken.
    • Unless you get lucky and throw a few units of the edge of the map, tornado only delays the units it sucks up for a bit. If you can cast a cloudkill at the same position though, it becomes extremely deadly.
    • Death has this the worst. It summons death itself which will insta-kill a certain number of creatures, but it won't harm wizards and has no Friend/Foe identification, so if you try to capitalize on the situation and move in (or your opponent runs out of creatures) he might go for your army instead. Mostly he just leads to your opponent having to collect a few souls and teleport away in irritation. Furthermore you can tell when your opponent is casting it, so a good human player will just teleport away and leave the caster footing the bill. He is good for cleaning up heavily guarded manaliths, but those are rare in multiplayer. And then there is the tactic of repeatedly summoning Manahores (1 mana when even a basic spell costs 300) and collecting their souls as they are killed. Repeat until the kill limit is reached and Death vanishes.
  • Balance Between Good and Evil: Mithras notes that the five gods are bound by ancient ties and pacts that has so far kept them from fighting total wars of extinction. Marduk's presence throws those right out the window, though at least one god (Persephone) tries to avoid outright deicide. Fat lot of good that does her.
  • Baseless Mission: One of Stratos's missions sends the wizard on a surreptitious raid into another god's territory, with no altar and and no access to the features the altar usually provides.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: James makes it clear that he does not want to fight, but if he's pushed into it he can be really dangerous. His ultimate attack spell is probably the most destructive effect in the entire game, and unlike Persephone he responds to Pyro's slave-taking by commanding you to kill him.
  • Big Bad: For all the attention he receives Charnel is not the central antagonist, Marduk is. And Stratos is the reason Marduk's here. Charnel's evil but he's on your side when it comes to the big threat.
  • Blind Seer: Mithras, the seer who delivers the prophecy of doom that divides the gods.
  • Blow You Away: Stratos's spells tend to do this; his most powerful spell summons an actual tornado.
  • Book Ends: Should you follow Stratos' campaign to the end and leave, Stratos mirrors his speech at the beginning of the campaign.
    Stratos: This is a civilized world now, after all... and I, its only God.
  • Boring, but Practical: Shield spells and most of the first level blast spells. Stratos' Lightning is the crown example: It has a measly 200 mana cost and an extremely short recharge time, but will kill most level 5 and 6 creatures in two castings without much trouble.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Charnel, humorous example. Reading the manual reveals Charnel is quite savvy about his role as the source of all darkness and evil in the world, recognizing it as necessary for someone to be 'evil' so others can proclaim themselves 'good'. He's also the first god to immediately jump at the 'we must defeat Marduk' bandwagon, because he doesn't like competition for the role of Big Bad.
  • Cephalothorax: Trolls, Firefists, Mutants and Abominations all have their heads mounted in their torsos rather than sitting on their shoulders.
  • Charm Person: Persephone's penultimate spell, which converts a targeted creature to your side. Basically insta-gibbing on steroids; you get a new unit, and if it gets killed, its soul is now blue to you instead of its original owner's. There are no limits on what creature this spell can be used on either, allowing you even steal titans from the enemy. The spell is kept balanced though by having a ridiculously long cooldown time of four whole minutes. Use it carefully.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder:
    • Thestor switches from Persephone to Charnel in Persephone's first mission, only to turn right back if you kill his underlings before killing him. He stays loyal for the rest of Persephone's campaign.
    • Faestus switches from Persephone to Pyro in Pyro's first mission. If you at any point attack Pyro's capital of Helios, he will switch sides to your side and stick with you for the rest of the campaign no matter whom you serve.
    • It's also perfectly possible to play Eldred as one. Several scenarios are designed with the ability to backstab the god you work for and join the opposing side, and at several points in each god's campaign you're given the option to turn your back on the god you did your last mission for and go join some other (usually an enemy) god.
  • Cigar Chomper: Pyro, one seemingly made of metal no less.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Pyro is styled after one, often seeing his servants as mere low wage employees.
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • A mild example, but still: See the big, creepy red-eyes thing on the cover Eldred is confronting? That's Charnel, not Marduk, and Charnel is not the Big Bad or in any way as relevant to the story.
    • One version of the cover features Gracchus, who is James' second champion, in Eldred's place.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Can happen if you stick with one god through all 9 levels. Persephone is probably the biggest offender, since she has creatures that heal fast by themselves AND a creature dedicated to healing others AND 2 additional healing spells... but hardly any offensive spells to speak of, mediocre ranged units, and either slow or fragile melee units. So while your units can survive long, you're not killing many enemies either if your opponent is any good. A level dip to get one of her healing abilities on the other hand is quite useful and she does get access to one of the best titan units in the game.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The end credits feature a machinima in which all the people who worked on the game, each represented by a different one of the game's character models, come out and take their bows.
  • Creepy Long Fingers: As seen on the cover, Charnel's fingers look like skeletal claws that (by human standards) would be at least a foot long.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Zig-zagged... But not on Charnel. Pyro's introduction says that a lot of people are definitely going to label him the 'God of Destruction and Chaos' (and his personality doesn't help), but those aren't entirely true, Pyro actually encompasses some other positive traits than pure destruction and chaos, one of the things he's most proud of is progress. However, his attitude makes him more or less confirming that he's the bad guy.
  • Deader than Dead: Souls are essential to unit creation and normally cannot be destroyed, but if a unit's body does not land on one of the flying islands its soul(s) are lost. Additionally, Charnel's aforementioned soul-eating minions and James' ultimate attack spell, which causes a section of island to drop into space (ironic given that James is the most sympathetic god). Stratos' Tornado, Persephone's Meanstalks and Pyro's Explosion can fling creatures off the edge as well.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Zyzyx. Stratos.
  • Defector from Decadence:
    • Sorcha does this in the last level of the Pyro campaign. It doesn't do her any good.
    • In the fifth chapter, if Eldred sides with Pyro and Charnel he can switch sides to Persephone and James before the game starts. In the eighth Charnel chapter the player can turn against Charnel and side with James.
  • Defiant to the End: Charlotte's final action in James' final mission involves cursing out her killer and throwing a big rock at his head.
  • Demon Lords And Arch Devils: Demons are beings older and more powerful than the gods and summoning them is considered an extremely bad idea. The Big Bad is an especially ancient demon named Marduk. There is also Astaroth, 'demon lord of Tartarus' and one of Charnel's hero units.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: In his introduction Stratos says plainly that in a civilized world he would be the only god. Then when it becomes clear in the next mission that one of the gods is plotting against the others nobody even considers he might be involved. Not to mention he's portrayed by Tim Curry, one of the most typecast villain actors ever. It turns out he was behind it all along.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Sirocco, an upgraded version of the strongest unit in Persephone's army, can be acquired as an ally in James's second mission, making the next few missions a breeze.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: James's wizards and creatures have the abilty to do just this.
  • Doomsday Device: In Pyro's 5th mission he builds one of these, and it's activated by the slaves gathered in the 4th mission.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Sorcha is a competent sorceress and also possessed morals. Pyro continually dumps her by not letting her defend his Ultimate Altar whenever possible and sends her in missions that violates her code of morals. And if you play Pyro's missions continuously, she gets sidelined in favor of Eldred. That's one of the reasons she ditches him in the end, to her death.
  • Dumb Is Good: James, probably the only wholly decent one in the pantheon. Though he's more unsophisticated than actually stupid.
  • Edge Gravity: Insurmountable Edge Gravity prevents anyone from walking off the edges of the flying islands. It has no effect on flying creatures, though, which is good for shortcuts but bad if one is killed while it's over the bottomless abyss.
  • Elemental Powers: James is god of earth, Stratos of air, and Pyro of fire. All three follow the personality profiles of their element to a tee.
  • Evil All Along: Stratos enters the war on the 'good side' but is revealed to have been in a secret alliance with Charnel from before the war even started, and is using James' and Persephone's trust to set himself up to strike at their capitals.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Stratos admits to have summoned Marduk, expecting to be able to control him. Unsurprisingly, it failed.
  • Evil Is Visceral: Charnel's units and spells. Many of his units are skinless, decaying or otherwise disgusting looking, their special abilities or attacks are often equally gross (Blights can shower enemies with itching parasites to weaken and slow them, Fallen attack by vomiting clouds of flesh-eating flies, Abominations rip out handfuls of their guts and throw them at enemies), and Charnel spells include the likes of drenching foes in slowing, sticky slime, causing a rain of blood and pus, and creating a wall of screaming faces.
  • Evil Overlooker: Charnel takes this role on the box art.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Serve Pyro or Charnel, and the two will eventually come to blows. Stratos will also be joining in.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: When there's a prophecy that one of the gods is going to bring about the end of the world, suspicion immediately falls on Charnel, the god of death and suffering. He denies it, pointing out that if the world ends, there will be no people left to suffer and die, so it's in his interest to keep the world as it is.
  • Exact Words: If you follow Charnel's campaign to the end, Charnel reveals that he's been aware that Stratos summoned Marduk all along, but wasn't willing to act on it for as long as he needed the alliance to defeat Pyro and Persephone. When Eldred gets angry at having the truth withheld from him, Charnel points out that he explicitly promised Eldred 'a showdown with Marduk' and is delivering on that promise right now, but never 'the truth'.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Stratos seems charming and courteous but it soon becomes apparent he has an It's All About Me attitude.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: Sacrifice has a Pantheon of five gods: James, Charnel, Stratos, Persephone, and Pyro.
  • Fate Worse than Death: "Charnel, death is not the answer to everything." "True... Torture also has its merits"
    • Repeated as a Brick Joke after completing the game serving Charnel, regarding Eldred's decision to 'attend to' another of Charnel's minions who plotted to kill him.
      Eldred: Charnel, death is not the answer to everything.
      Charnel: Yes, torture also has its merits.
      Eldred: Exactly.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the introduction, Stratos' line "in any halfway-civilized world, I would be its only god" might at first come across as him having his head in the clouds, even by god standards... Then it's revealed that he was the one who summoned Marduk for the purpose of killing all other gods. Whether this plays out well for him or not is up to the player.
    • As Charnel's second mission reveals, Stratos had stewardship over the Demon Gate between the War of Purification and until Charnel retains control during said mission.
    • Mithras' prophecy also contains some foreshadowing. As expected, one might say, considering it is a, well, prophecy. One notable line is "For lost to all are holy arts"... And, indeed, no matter which god's storyline you follow, Persephone always dies.
  • Fragile Speedster: Stratos' servants have the lowest average HP of all factions, but are on average also the fastest. Stratos' wizards — Abraxus and Jadugarr — have the highest base speed of all wizards (but below-average HP) and he also grants the unique 'speed boost' as boons in the campaign, increasing Eldred's movement speed.
  • Free Rotating Camera: The main camera view can be rotated, tilted and zoomed however the player chooses (but remains fixed to the wizard's location).
  • Genre-Busting: It's a fantasy third person RPG, RTS game.
  • Glass Cannon: Pyro's proles and Charnel's minions — especially the latter, since they only heal by damaging other creatures.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: The main method of 'killing' a god is to desecrate their prime altar - thus demonstrating that the god is unworthy of faith, and depriving them of power. However the god is not dead, merely weakened, and can come in a different form given time.
  • God of Evil: Charnel. And he relishes his role.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Eldred and Stratos both wanted the services of a demon powerful enough to destroy their respective rivals. They got one. Just too bad neither could make him stop.
  • Good Is Not Soft: James may be the most reluctant god to enter the war, but once it becomes inevitable he's the first 'good' god to suggest you end it by killing Pyro and Charnel.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Pyro is constantly sucking on a big, fat cigar.
  • The Grim Reaper: Charnel's most annoying and powerful spell summons him, laughing maniacally as he slaughters anything within his reach.
  • Guttural Growler: Marduk speaks this way, as does the unique Scythe hero named Gangrel, especially after he is merged with the demon Astaroth.
  • Happily Married: Abraxus and Lord Surtur. You'll most likely see Surtur wandering around if you fight Abraxus.
  • Healing Factor: Persephone's faithful all have better healing than the other gods' creatures.
  • Healing Hands: One of the two spells you always have access to regardless of whom you follow is a basic healing spell which heals a decent amount for a low amount of mana. Persephone meanwhile has the best healing spells in the game, with two dedicated healing spells and a healing-only creature.
  • The Hecate Sisters: Persephone makes the claim of being an aggregate of all three aspects.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: If you finish as one of the good guys, you can pick either to do Persephone's or James' last mission. James survives either way, and Persephone apparently dies either way, making her the only god that doesn't survive in any ending.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Sorcha pulls this off in Pyro's 9th mission. This one is an interesting take as you get to see this from the evil side.
  • Hell Gate: The Demon Gate of Golgotha. Charnel offers Eldred a mission to reclaim it, and later uses it to summon another demon to counter Marduk. In one of Persphone's missions Eldred destroys it, along with the demon.
  • Hero Unit: The wizards, and the creature heroes. The former are players' avatars who form the centre of an army, while the latter are stronger, tougher and larger versions of regular units. Persephone has Thestor (gnome), Toldor (ent) and Sirocco (dragon), James has Gammel (icarus), Stratos has Sara Bella (braniac) and Lord Surtur (storm giant), Pyro has Faestus (gnome/pyromaniac) and Charnel has Gangrel/Astaroth (both scythes). Some show up on single missions only and have a Hero Must Survive clause, but some of them (Thestor, Toldor, Sirocco, Gammel and Faestus) will stick with you through the campaign as long as you stay on one god's side and will even fight for you in the final battle, provided they don't die at some point during the campaign.
  • Hold the Line:
    • Pyro's 7th mission and Charnel's 5th mission require you to do this.
    • And an excellent, if boring, strategy in most missions. Link your creatures to your furthest building, and defend it against an enemy wizard's attack wave, converting some of his army's souls along the way. Rinse and repeat until he has so few souls left he can't field a proper army anymore. Then attack him with the army you stole from him. This strategy is pretty much a must if you want to stand a snowball's chance in heck of beating the last boss.
  • Holier Than Thou: Persephone. She is one of Sacrifice's good deities and genuinely seems to care for her followers, but she is far more self-righteous about it than James, and much more aggressive.
  • How We Got Here: Most of the game is told in flashback, as Eldred looks back from just before the final battle.
  • Human Sacrifice: As part of the ritual used to destroy another opposing wizard's altar (for a loose definition of "human").
  • I Am Very British: The Icarus is an obvious 'stereotypical RAF pilot' reference and speaks in an extremely posh upper class accent (in contrast to the rest of the Yeomen, who mostly speak with various lower-class accents from both Britain and the USA).
  • Implacable Man: Death cannot be targeted, cannot be injured, has no time limit on his existence, and cannot be banished. He targets units unerringly and will chase them to the ends of the map and back until that unit is dead, teleports be damned.
  • In Love with Your Carnage
    Charnel: Whether the forest falls or not matters little to me... But, such carnage. You are an artist.
    **Charnel has offered you a boon**
  • Insufferable Genius: Brainacs and their Hero Unit Sara Bella. And Stratos, their patron.
  • Instant-Win Condition: Missions can only be won by desecrating the other wizard's altar — although if your enemy isn't sufficiently weakened, odds are he or she will pop in and stop you the moment you start doing it.
  • Jack of All Stats:
    • Persephone's faithful. About the only thing they excel at is having a better-than-average regeneration rate.
    • And not a bad strategy to go for when you build your custom spell list in multiplayer (or pick times to switch sides in the singleplayer campaign). For instance, Persephone has 2 healing spells and one healing creature, all of whom are usefull but taking them all leaves you with a vastly reduced offensive arsenal. Much better to mix and match it with creatures and spells from, say, Pyro.
  • Justified Tutorial: Eldred is described as an old archmage with probably decades of experience under his belt: A tutorial for him would feel somewhat out of place. Therefore, the tutorial you play as Shakti, a novice mystic who's just entered the service of Persephone.
  • Jerk Ass Gods: Stratos, Pyro and Charnel, certainly. Persephone, debatably. James, not so much.
  • Kill It with Fire: The theme of Pyro's wizard spells.
  • Kill the God: What the struggle between the gods inevitably leads to.
  • Klaatu Barada Nikto: Some of the magic words spoken by the wizards include "klaatu", "barada", and "nikto", though not necessarily all three together or in order.
  • Knight Templar: Marduk claims to be a physical incarnation of all creation's sins, and that his mission is to destroy everything that he judges 'sinful' — in other words, everything that reflects himself, however little.
  • Lame Pun Reaction:
    • Zyzyx: Now, Grakkus there is none too fast on his feet. It may be because he lives such a... Sedimentary lifestyle.
      Eldred: ... Never Say That Again.
    • In the Book of Persephone, she reacts to her own lame pun, apologizing after warning that the Rain of Frogs spell has a tendency for friendly fire and telling you to keep your own creatures away "lest they croak".
  • Language of Magic: Throughout the game, every wizard shares a common pool of phrases they chant seemingly at random when casting spells. Some wizards have phrases and words unique to themselves, and others do not.
  • Large Ham: Stratos, and to some degree most of the other gods too.
  • Last of His Kind: Jadugarr, last living Centaur. Eldred, last survivor of his homeworld Jheira.
  • The Legions of Hell: Charnel's minions are an amalgam of this and The Undead. They are among some of the freakiest looking creatures in Sacrifice
  • Lethal Lava Land: Pyro's maps are like this. In the campaign, there is even the risk of a volcano (created by Pyro's Doomsday Device) randomly popping up underneath the wizard's feet. (Sadly, in the mission where you play as Pyro to defend it, the volcanoes still pop up where it's inconvenient for you, since your starting position is identical to the one in the mission to destroy it.)
  • Laughably Evil: Charnel and Pyro. The former is so insanely and unapologetically sadistic it crosses into goofy territory. Meanwhile the latter is a boastful jerk prone to long speeches who overestimates his importance in the overall story, often making himself look like a pretentious fool.
  • Level Editor: Scapex, developer-made. Notable for allowing you to alter the game's official campaign maps and triggers with a little knowledge of scripting, allowing you to fix/tweak small campaign triggers or simply cheat like a one-armed bandit.
  • Light Is Not Good:
    • Persephone is the goddess of life and the one most eager to show off her 'justice and righteousness' credentials. She's also big into "those who cannot be purified by the word must be so by wrath". Charnel implies she is just as bad about picking pointless fights as the other gods are, she just dresses it up with pretty labels like "righteous crusade" and "holy war", and the fact that Persephone is just as quick as the others to shout down James when he suggests they avoid going to war again (though to be fair, she was the injured party in the affair that started it) suggests Charnel may not be completely lying.
    • Stratos is the setting's god of the heavens. He's egocentric and unashamedly exploitative of his servants and allies, if not actively malevolent like Charnel and Pyro.
  • Louis Cypher: Mithras is Marduk. You've spent the entire storyline telling your story to the Big Bad.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: A frequent occurrence when poking first-tier units too hard. This can happen to any unit however, no matter how powerful, and is encouraged as gibbed units produce blue souls, free to take without the need to convert.
  • Mana: The second resource besides souls, and used to cast spells (or make ranged attacks). It's harvested from a mana fountain, can be claimed with a manalith to ensure enemies can't use them, and then transferred to the wizard using a manahoar.
  • Mana Meter: A classic blue one located right next to your health bar, it restores on its own overtime but will be restored faster when you have manahoars near you. With help from the gods, you can be given more mana or have mana regeneration be increased
  • Meaningful Name/Punny Name: Almost every character and creature in the game is either one or the other.
    • For example of the former: the gnome Faestus' name references the Greek god Hephaestus, drawing attention to Faestus' firey attacks and inventor nature, as well as Faust which references Faestus making a deal with the immoral and infernal Pyro.
    • An example of the latter is one of James' most powerful units, the Jabberrocky. It is a combination of rocky and Jabberwocky, a poem about a bizarre beast. While the Jabberrocky does not look anything like the Jabberwock, it is most assuredly one of the most bizarre looking monsters in the game.
  • Mutants: Sacrifice has Mutants, which are available if you choose Persephone. In Mission 4 of the campaign they randomly turn up after you meet the misguided Jadugar, a cutscene later plus a little talk from Persephone and they join you against Jadugar.
  • Mighty Glacier: James's yeomen; many of them resemble rocks and boulders, with legs, and are appropriately tough but are rather slow. The Jabberrocky and Rhinok are the slowest units in the game and they are James's strongest units. His wizards — Gracchus and Charlotte — also have high HP but low movement speeds.
  • Mook Medic: The scarab, which automatically shoots healing energy at any injured ally within range.
  • Moral Myopia: Discussed in a loading screen, though mostly Played for Laughs.
    Eldred: In my own world, dragons were long since extinct, hunted for tooth and scale and heart. As the boneyards drew near, some part of me thought ahead in sorrow at the prospect of slaying so magnificent a creature.
    Zyzyx: Oh, but imp slavery? He's fine with that...
  • Mordor: Charnel's realm of Stygia is a dark and gloomy land inhabited by Charnel's minions.
  • Nay-Theist: Jadugarr. He used to worship Stratos until he became The Last of His Kind.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Played for laughs by the God of Death, Charnel.
    Charnel: Kill the blasphemer!
    Persephone: Charnel! Death is not the answer to everything.
    Charnel: Yes... torture also has its merits...
  • Necromancer: Charnel's wizards are called necromancers: These are Seerix, Acheron and The Ragman. Marduk (and depending on the mission, Hachimen) also use Charnel spells.
  • Noble Top Enforcer: Abraxus, Stratos' top Servant, and the only one too since Jadugarr ditched him. While Stratos is rather slimy, Abraxus is nonetheless a fair wizard that mostly fights you fair and square and serves her God faithfully with no ill wills.
  • Nonentity General: One of most notable aversions of this trope as the general is a wizard that actively leads their troops into battle and provides support through spell casting while supplying them with manna so they can continue to fight.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Many of the gods are a lot cleverer than you would think from their initial personalities. Stratos is probably the main example.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Marduk. His stated purpose is to destroy all 'unworthy' parts of Creation, and by the time the game has begun he's already destroyed Eldred's homeworld and is on the verge of destroying this one.
  • Old Soldier: Gammel, James' Hero Unit for the Icarus. "Let's show those blighters what for!"
  • One-Word Title
  • Only Sane Man: James has elements of this. While the other gods are baying for all-out war, especially after a prophecy warns that one of their number is plotting to kill the rest off for real, only poor James wonders if they should give all the fighting a rest.
    Everyone else: NO!!!
    • Once the war actually becomes reality, Persephone tries to avoid making the gods killing each other. Her attempts to make Charnel, Pyro and Stratos see reason go... altogether less than well.
  • Our Dragons Are Different:
    • Dragons are green and look like short-necked Apatosauruses with wings. They attack with their bite (which also entangles foes), and their Breath Weapon shoots life energy that can resurrect your own creatures. They are intelligent, good-aligned, and serve Persephone.
    • There is also a spell called 'dragonfire' for Pyro, whose description hints at more 'traditional' fire-breathing greedy dragons. That variant appears to have gone extinct in this world, however.
  • Palette Swap: A lot of monsters have similar models, though the game actually gives a lot of good in-world justifications.
  • Playing with Fire: All of Pyro's spells, and all of Pyro's Proles, in one way or another.
  • The Power of Legacy: In Persephone/James' endings Eldred praises Mithras for making a Heroic Sacrifice against Marduk and proclaims him a hero for speaking the truth no matter its consequences. Mithras was Marduk in disguise, but he never committed any crimes as 'Mithras' and his prophecy ultimately proved true and beneficial, if very destructive to the world.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Charnel's Netherfiend, Styx and Hellmouth minions' special abilities are fuelled by blue souls; additionally multiplayer maps usually feature peaceful villages that you are encouraged to massacre for additional souls.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Marduk, just before he kills Stratos. "There are no false prophecies, only false gods."
  • Prophecy Twist: Mithras' prophecy. Stratos claims it's a false prophecy intended to sow discord, but everything in it comes true (and Marduk implies that was the intention). Also note that "seal the gaping maw of doom" could mean either averting the doom before it has eaten anyone, or that it has come to pass — Eldred and Marduk are both 'vagrants' to the world and Eldred ends up fulfilling it in the former sense, but Marduk would have done it in the latter.
  • Pyromaniac: Pyro's Flame Minions, who can be heard constantly giggling about the possibility to set fires. One of Pyro's units (a gnome with a rocket launcher) is called pyromaniac, and is probably also this.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Jadugarr seeks the death of the gods. He joins Marduk in order to do so.
  • Real-Time with Pause: In single-player, the game can be paused at any time, which freezes the action but allows the player to look around the battlefield and issue commands to their creatures, which are carried out once the game is resumed.
  • Reverse Shrapnel: The Halo of Earth spell.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: Justified by the fact that building and units are not constructed, but magically summoned out of thin air.
  • Royal "We": Persephone does this. It really doesn't help with her attitude problem, and Stratos even lampshades how pretentious it made her sound. Her justification is that she's The Hecate Sisters combined in one form.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Sorcha, the Empress of Pyroboria.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Zyzyx to Eldred. Given he's essentially bound to Eldred by magic, snarking seems to be his only outlet.
  • Shattered World: The game's setting is one of these, having been shattered in a previous war between the gods.
  • Shock and Awe: Stratos' third element for his spells, besides storms and ice.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Worm-like God James certainly looked a lot like a certain earthworm-in-a-space-suit... Even his name sounds similar too — and let's not forget his highest-level spell, 'Bovine Intervention'. The game was made by Shiny, the makers of Earthworm Jim.
    • The magic words used by the wizards include Klaatu Barada Nikto, the Charm of Making from Excalibur, and the name of the monster from Dragonslayer.
    • The Stop Poking Me! lines are full of these.
    • In James' mission 5, Pyro will try to recruit you by offering you 'power beyond your imagining'. Eldred's reply if you turn it down?
    • Another Star Wars reference in the dying words of the Pyromaniac units. "I find my lack of health... disturbing".
    • Zyzyx's name is the classic cheat code from Colossal Cave spelled backwards and with the two last/first words exchanged.
      • It could also be a straight reference to the real-life town of Zyzyx, California.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Stratos. His introduction speech just sets the tone, by claiming that in any "half-way civilized world, I would be the only God".
    • Pyro. He considers gaining power as the only thing that matters, and sees himself as superior to everyone.
  • The Soulless: According to Zyzyx Acheron was previously condemned to a primal hell for creatures with no souls.
  • Speed Echoes: When using the faster-movement spell.
  • Spider People:Charlotte has the appearance of one,but,she's far from the typical evil example as she serves James. Zyzyx notes that she's especially mouthy.
  • Squat's In A Name: Many of the characters have names from mythology, but most of them don't seem to have any meaningful connection with the relevant myth.
  • Stone Wall: Most of James's units.
  • Story Branching: Each time the gods offer Eldred a selection of missions, the player's choice affects the plot and Eldred's role in it; the missions that are passed up can not be gone back to later, and every few missions one of the gods will stop offering Eldred work, making that god's later missions inaccessible for the current playthrough. The branches don't go off in completely different directions, though; certain key plot events will always happen whether Eldred is present for them or not, and it always ends up with Eldred having only one god still talking to him and having to go out and face Marduk in a final showdown.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: The Icarus. Its only response to Stop Poking Me! is a somewhat condescending "Oh, I say, poor show."
  • Symbol Drawing Interface: One possible way to navigate through the tactical menus was to use mouse gestures. This was a bit overkill, however, and it was usually easier to click or use the keyboard shortcuts.
  • The Stinger/Sequel Hook: After the credits, an angry Jadugarr cries out "This is not over! I will have my revenge!". Sadly, sales of the game kept this from becoming a reality.
  • This Cannot Be!: Eldred's reaction upon learning that Marduk has followed him to this world. Also, Marduk's final words.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Three of the campaigns ends with an option to do this:
    • Stratos campaign: Eldred is outraged at being used by Stratos and planeshifts away from Sacrifice's world. Stratos is disappointed, but since Eldred has helped him secure his supremacy, he tells Eldred that he's always welcome to come back to the realm where he's the only God, should Eldred change his mind.
    • Pyro's campaign: Eldred is tired of being a gopher, declares the whole campaign as I Did What I Had to Do to gain power needed to defeat Marduk and leaves, declaring he'll never serve another tyrant. Pyro is outraged, but can't do anything about it.
    • Charnel's campaign: Eldred says that meeting Marduk opened his eyes to the infinite possibilities of the planes and, being free of Marduk chasing him, leaves to experience more of it. Charnel wishes him good luck and the two part amicably.
  • Stop Poking Me!: Sacrifice continues this fine Blizzard tradition of units getting pissed of more and more if you click on them too much. It's actually quite impressive when you consider that there's TONS of individual units and hero units in this game.
  • Straw Nihilist: Charnel's obsession with conflict kind of paints him as one of these.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Ranged units beat flying beat melee beat ranged... In theory. In practice, fliers are further divided into flying ranged and flying melee (the latter are excellent against buildings, and also murder ranged units if they get close) and ranged units are divided into basic first-tier archery-types, artillery (inaccurate, deal heavy area-of-effect damage, good against ground units but seldom hit fliers), snipers (extremely accurate and long range, but very slow rate of fire and is easily overwhelmed by a Zerg Rush) and the warmonger/rhinox, who don't really fit any other category than 'walking murder machines'. Plus, fliers fly low, and all but the lowest tier melee units are tall and can actually reach most fliers (but fliers have 90% damage resistance against melee attacks from ground creatures, however, so beating them to death takes a lot of time).
  • There Can Be Only One: Only one of the gods survives the war. Stratos started it with the assumption that it would be him.
  • Third-Person Person: Pyro constantly refers to himself in a third-person, this does not denote low intelligence but instead shows how extremely full of himself he is.
  • Token Good Teammate:
    • Sorcha is much more kind-hearted than you'd expect for a Pyromancer. She eventually betrays Pyro over his repeated acts of brutality if he isn't killed first.
    • Lord Surtur has been heavily influenced by his long 'imprisonment' in Elysium and looks and sounds like a Persephone faithful rather than a Stratos unit. Ultimately, he sticks with his wife and his god however.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Mithras, the blind prophet and benevolent advisor to the gods is revealed to be Marduk in a cunning disguise, playing them against each other for his own purposes.
  • Treachery Cover-Up: If you side with James, the hero covers up the fact that the prophet Mithras was the omnicidical demon Marduk in another form.
  • Underground Monkey: Many of the different units are clearly reskins of each other. For quite a few of them, lore in the manual explains that this is because they share a common origin, typically having been followers for one god who were then stolen or lured away by another.
    • Earthflings are James' mainstay ranged unit, but have counterparts in the Fallen, who are Earthflings corrupted by Charnel, and the Flame Minions, which descend from Earthflings traded to Pyro for the island Karn.
    • Gnomes are normally servants of Persephone, but some have defected to follow Pyro, becoming the Pyromaniacs, and Charnel has risen others as zombie versions of themselves called Deadeyes.
    • Pyro stole Trolls from Persephone and remade them into Firefists, whilst Stratos lured away some of her Gremlins, who now serve him as Seraphs.
    • The mountains of the Glebe, Pyroborea and Empyrea are all home to a lumbering, boulder-flinging beast called the lummox, so each realm's god has tamed its local population of lummoxes and uses them in different ways. James calls his version a Flummox (for "Fighting Lummox") and lets it just stick to doing what's natural. Pyro armors his Bombards and outfits them with fire-bombs. Stratos has his Flurries be ridden by elementalists, who conjure crystaline implosive projectils for them to throw.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: Or at least, not able to get 100% Completion by Mistake: In one of Charnel's missions, it's impossible to collect the boon. The bonus objective is to keep Gangrel alive. Too bad the mission can't be completed until Gangrel is possessed by a demon, turning him into Astaroth, causing the game to decide you no longer have Gangrel. Even should you banish Yogo before the channeling is complete (which is hard but doable), you still do not receive the boon as the condition is that Gangrel must be under the player's control. During the channeling Gangrel is held immobile and can't be controlled by the player.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Once a wizard has a soul lead, it's very hard to change it, as it's much harder to steal a wizard's souls than it is to recover your slain creatures.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Averted. The instant death spells Intestinal Vaporization and Bovine Intervention can and will one-shot even the mightiest creatures. Even better, they instantly gib their targets, meaning the souls are up for grabs for anyone. If you're not careful, you can lose a lot of souls to a crafty opponent this way.
  • Vader Breath: The Pyromaniacs. Their unit quotes are also filled to the brim with Darth Vader and Lord Helmet Shout Outs.
  • Videogame Caring Potential: Several missions reward you for caring more than the mission parameters require you to. Most famously, the mission in which you're sent to slay a troublesome dragon rewards you really well for taking the time to find out why the dragon is behaving the way it is and coming up with a better solution (said dragon becomes a hero unit of yours later in the game.)
  • Videogame Cruelty Potential: Wizards can slaughter the innocent, defenceless peasants with the nastiest spells in their spellbook while the peasants beg, whimper and cry for mercy. Wizards are encouraged to slaughter the innocent in multiplayer — they're a good source of soul income and are flagged as hostile for this reason.
  • Waddling Head: A number of units have this design. Charnel's basic fighter, the Scythe, looks like a hovering skull with rotating pendulum-razors strapped to its forehead. Pyro's basic fighter, the Cog, is a mechanical head with spinning hammers attached to it. Persephone's upper-tier melee unit, the Ent, is a giant head carried by four spidery legs that grow out of its forehead.
  • We Have Reserves: The key to playing a Necromancer. Due to the cheapness of Animate Dead, the Glass Cannon nature of Charnel's minions and the somewhat indiscriminate nature of many of his spells, a one-to-one kill/loss ratio is entirely tolerable as long as you've got your creature's corpses around to animate/detonate.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Pyro's ultimate weapon, the Magnafryer, fires a heat ray that deals heavy damage over time and will kill everything in the game eventually... Except it counts as magic damage, so James' first level melee attacker, the Trogg, is completely unaffected.
  • Welcome Back, Traitor: There's two gnome heroes in the game, and both switch sides repeatedly. They're still usable units though.
    Zyzyx: And to think that Faestus used to be one of Persephone's brightest Gnome inventors... Well, I guess it's best that he's on our side now.
  • World of Ham: All of the gods except James are pretty hammy, as are many of their followers.
  • World in the Sky: Sacrifice is set around several floating islands in a large void. The manual provides a vague explanation for this.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Both Pyro and Charnel predictably plan on doing this to each other. Charnel betrays Pyro earlier, while Pyro plans to kill off Charnel after he has Stratos slain.