The player controls a magically-gifted hero (an immortal Rune Warrior in the first game, a dragon-blooded Shaikan in the second) who must travel across the fractured world of Eo to win allies and raise armies against the various forces that would finish the world's destruction. Along the way they must perform numerous quests to prove their goodwill, delve into ancient dungeons to rediscover lost secrets and artifacts, and partake in various missions given by NPCs. Maps range from RTS-style to hero-only.
This is the first entry in the SpellForce series, which includes the original SpellForce: The Order of Dawn game, as well as its two expansions: SpellForce: The Breath of Winter and SpellForce: Shadow of the Phoenix. There are three sequels, SpellForce 2, SpellForce III, and Spell Force Conquest Of Eo which have their own pages.
SpellForce and its expansions provide examples of:
- Animate Dead: Classic style and high-powered, magic-induced Face–Heel Turn style.
- Anti-Frustration Feature: A player can wipe out enemy spawn points before activating racial monuments, thus saving armies for the really tough enemies. Also, if the player character is in an unwinnable situation, the player can leave the map through a portal/bindstone and return. This resets the "fog of war" for the computer as well, allowing you to catch your breath. Oh, and computer controlled enemies do not repair their infrastructure (simply because they do not have worker units).
- Artificial Stupidity: Everybody in the game suffers from this, including the player character. Monsters and Non Player Characters are known to charge right into the thickest concentration of player towers before attacking buildings, artisans gathering resources will calmly walk right into an enemy base (or get killed trying), and some creatures, when they reach the end of their effective patrol range will walk back and forth trying to decide if they want to attack the player's towers or return to base, repeatedly getting shot in the process until they die. Oh, and when the Player Character sees enemies coming, even if equipped with a bow, or ranged attack spells, they will simply refuse to retaliate or take any preemptive action unless attacked in melee, barring any contrary orders, and all player controlled characters will try to follow their given orders no matter how suicidal it is to do so.
- Awesome, but Impractical:
- While Titans have insanely high maximum hitpoint totals and do massive amounts of damage, they require the Large Headquarters building (which is the tail end of the building tree), consume a great many resources in their summoning, they move slower than any of the slowest infantry units, even when above 15% health, and the player can only field one per race at a time. Their sheer size also causes movement and engagement issues in narrow paths, and when fighting in coordination with a player's infantry units.
- The trolls. Powerful units with plenty of hitpoints who hit hard? Yes. Take forever to make and cost a shitton of resources note with the resources taking even longer to gather because trolls have no building to double their production? Yes.
- Boring, but Practical: While workers absolutely suck in battle, they (except the dwarven one) can build towers to rain death upon enemy troops, especially the elves' Frostbringer, which freeze enemies. Often, this can be the key to defeating bosses way above your level.
- Critical Existence Failure: Averted; units which are reduced to very low HP are crippled and limp along at extremely low speed, making it difficult to pull units out before they die and all but guaranteering the stragglers in any mass retreat will be run down and slaughtered.
- Crutch Character: Yellow runes, introduced in The Breath of Winter, are powerful Runes that can be used at a relatively low level compared to normal ones and stay useful for quite a while, but ultimately you can't equip any armor on them, sometimes not even a weapon or anything at all, so they end up outclassed by high level Rune warriors who can have powerful enchanted equipment.
- Early-Installment Weirdness:
- There are no siege weapons until Shadow of the Phoenix, and all attacks against buildings have to be melee.
- It is very possible for the Avatar to be alone if there are no monuments in the map; in 2, the Avatar always has heroes for company.
- Horse of a Different Color: The Human Titan unit is mounted on the back of a griffon.
- Hot as Hell: "Seductress" demons.
- Hub City: Greyfell in The Order of Dawn, Tirganach in The Breath of Winter and Empyria in Shadow of the Phoenix.
- An Ice Person: Notably, both Rohen and The Dark One (in-game, not in the opening cutscene).
- I'm a Humanitarian: Trolls can gather food with the Corpse Collector which, as the name implies, makes any worker in it collect corpses as food. This is Awesome, but Impractical for several reasons. First, the Corpse Collector is a large building which requires a lot of free, flat land to be built. Second, troll workers are easily slain by enemies. Third, corpses disappear very quickly so the Corpse Collector has to be built very close to a battle field. Fourth, enemy units will prioritize attacking your troll workers over your armed soldiers or the player character.
- Infinite Supplies: All your resources are technically infinite since they regenerate, even the trees after a while, but putting more than one worker on them means you use them faster than they reappear.
- MacGuffin: The Convocation Book. Later, the Phoenix Stone.
- No Cure for Evil: The Dark races do not have any healing units.
- Power-Up Food: Indirectly; units with mana need at least 1 Food Store of their corresponding race before their mana can regenerate.
- Rewatch Bonus: Knowing the final twist surrounding Rohen recontextualizes a lot of scenes that might seem strange or stupid at first viewing.
- Shout-Out: We have in lore and in person in Shadow of the Phoenix Belial the God of Death, who is practically identical in name and nearly identical in function to an important god (also worshipped by necromancers) in another (once) JoWooD-owned franchise...
SpellForce: The Order of Dawn provides examples of:
- All Your Powers Combined: The final mission is composed of three sections: One with a monument for each dark race, one with a monument for each light race, and the last (where the Final Boss is) with two Heroes' monuments.
- Beef Gate: Of undead at the gate from Greydusk Vale to the Northern Windwalls. And another at the Frost Marshes made of Mecha-Mooks. Removed in a plot event by the Order of Dawn, at the cost of most of their manpower.
- Big Bad: The Dark One.
- Big Good: Rohen.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The end of the Shiel mission. You have to fight more than a hundred orcs who will quickly inflict this on you if you try to attack them head-on. The solution? Ask for the help of the spirits of the forest, who gives you five dryads who then go on to inflict this on the Orc's army.
- Free-Fall Fight: In the opening cinematic, between Rohen and The Dark One.
- Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The last trek of the final map contains not only the animated Blades that compose the Big Bad armies, but also ogres that have no established reason to be there and were nowhere to be seen for the prior 95% of the game.
- Heel–Face Turn: The Big Bad!
- I Hate Past Me: The Big Good is the future self of the Big Bad.
- Late to the Tragedy: You, several times. Most notably when the Order takes Frost Marshes from the Blades, being killed almost to a man in the process.
- MacGuffin Delivery Service: Just about every single MacGuffin you get your hands on. See Unwitting Pawn.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: By the Big Good. He knew he would die and that the Big Bad would get the MacGuffin because, well, see Stable Time Loop.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Dark One.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Dark One kills Rohen. The Phoenix Guard is pissed. Later, the Dark One kills Sartarius in the exact same way, the decides that they're going to kill him, even if it means having to follow him into Barga Gor (Hell).
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Rohen/The Dark One's goal at the end of The Order of Dawn. At some point while taking The Slow Path, he resigns himself to the Stable Time Loop.
- Stealth-Based Mission: The ruined city Mulandir. On your first visit, the city is full of high level Medusas who petrify your characters on sight. But Mulandir is only a stealth based mission the first few times you visit the place, because after some grinding, the enemies in the city are weak compared to your characters.
- Stock Shout-Outs: "The Raven". Specifically, an undead called the "Nevermore" drops an item called the "Ravencap".
- Unwitting Pawn: The Phoenix Guard. Repeatedly.
- Wham Episode: The end. The Dark One is Young Rohen, who successfully returns into past but chooses to turn good after reading the book about Convocation.
SpellForce: The Breath of Winter provides examples of:
- Unintentionally Unwinnable:
- Present on the Firefangs map. Did you get the Shadow Ring from the hermit before activating the Dark Elf monument? Have fun restarting the campaign from scratch, provided you didn't just break the CD first. However, if you are not above cheating, you can cheat yourself to victory and continue your adventure as normal.
- Averted with the final boss. He stands on the other side of a chasm, so attacking him in melee is useless and you need ranged heroes to hit him. Fortunately, on your side of the chasm there's a chest with a mage rune and an archer one.
SpellForce: Shadow of the Phoenix provides examples of:
- Arbitrary Mission Restriction: You cannot import a Rune Warrior which is level 31 and above into Shadow. Level 30 and below is perfectly fine. note This forces the player to Do Well, But Not Perfect.
- Back from the Dead: Rohen, Animate Dead style.
- Badass Boast: By the gladiator who offers to spar with you in Empyria.Rune Warrior: You know I'm a Rune Warrior, right?
Gladiator: That's why I won't hold back, whether you come back once, tens or even hundreds of times.
- Bag of Spilling: When importing your character from either The Order of Dawn or Breath of Winter, only the equipment they were wearing, the runes they had equipped and their equipment are imported. Every piece of gear, miscellaneous items or runes which were in your inventory is lost. The gold disappear too, and you're left with "only" 500 gold coins.
- Face–Heel Turn: Rohen, as a result of Animate Dead.
- Fission Mailed: Playing the expansion as the Shadow Warrior has the second objective of the campaign ("Kill the Dryad") marked as failed when you reach it because your character decided to stop obeying the Masked Man. This objective will stay marked as failed for the whole campaign.
- Guide Dang It!: In Empyria, to get involved with the Assassin's Guild, you must first listen to Ishtar talk about the temple district and then he'll mention the string of murders which have occurred. This conversation is easily missed as the conversations with Ishtar on the other city districts are purely descriptional and you're not expecting a quest chain in a particular conversation.
- Love Makes You Evil: The emperor became obsessed with the dryad to the point of not giving a single damn about anything other than her and had her poisoned in the hopes that she would accept his offer of giving her a cure if she became his.
- Rebellious Princess: Alyah, the daughter of the emperor Magnus Arias, is the chief of the Thief's Guild in Empyria. Sort of justified, considering her father became totally obsessed with the dryad and stopped paying any attention to her and even had her thrown out of the palace.
- Spoiler Cover: The cover of Shadow of the Phoenix itself has the Phoenix spreading its wings, spoiling the fact that it was (eventually) released from its Stone.
- Temporal Suicide: Rohen Tahir is trapped in a Stable Time Loop in which his younger self travels forward in time, unknowingly murders his older self, and becomes the Big Bad of the game, while his older self does a Heel–Face Turn and travels back in time to right the wrongs his younger self caused, becoming the Big Good and setting in motion the events that lead to his murder.