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Video Game / SpellForce 2

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The second entry in the SpellForce franchise: the SpellForce 2: Shadow Wars game and its expansion, SpellForce 2: Dragon Storm. Both were developed by Phenomic and published by JoWooD Entertainment. They were later followed by two standalone expansions: SpellForce 2: Faith in Destiny and SpellForce 2: Demons of the Past. Both Faith and Demons were developed by different (and non-Phenomic) studios,note  and published by Nordic Games (later THQ Nordic).

Uniquely to Faith, there are 3 DLC scenarios which can be purchased. They tell the stories of some Non Player Characters seen during the campaigns.

  • The Golden Fool follows the former Drakkar master Carla, who seeks to find the titular Drakkar tile after her defeat in the hands of the Soul Carrier during Shadow Wars.
  • Flink's Secret Diary tells Flink MacWinter's side of his involvement in Rushwater Downs during the events of Shadow Wars.
  • The Last Stand illustrates the events leading up to the Elf Queen's and Wind's deaths, which were mentioned in the main campaign of Faith.

SpellForce 2 and its expansions provide examples of:

  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Averted, especially if compared to the first game. Apparently, the devs thought that the "destroy the enemy spawn points first, summon your army later" strategy was akin to cheating, so it's not possible to do so anymore as enemies become active as soon as a RTS phase starts, forcing you to fortify your camp and build an army of your own. However, on some maps, with a bit of Foe-Tossing Charge, it is possible to either secure the rich resource spots which are "conveniently" placed near the enemy for yourself, or to cripple enemy income by killing all workers and then their Headquarters. note 
    • On a more positive note, mana using units no longer require buildings for their mana to regenerate.
    • You can't use teleport to get out of an unwinnable situation anymore either (since the map no longer resets)and you can't teleport while in battle at all. In Shadow Wars, you can't teleport to another island until your main objective on a map is complete.
    • It's even worse in Demons of the Past. The game developers have seemingly gone out of their way to make the game as frustrating as possible. Even on "easy" difficulty, the very first map is difficult enough to make players want to rip their hair out in frustration.
  • Copy Protection: The original retail version of the game came with the dreaded Starforce DRM that damaged your computer beyond repairs. Even the demo. Fortunately, it's been exorcised from the Steam and GOG versions.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Several concepts work very different in 2, as compared to the first game and its expansions.
    • The map no longer resets after you leave and then return. However, all units and structures which you build will be left intact, ready to be used upon your return should you have the need for them.
    • You no longer need to be within the range of a teleport stone to teleport, but you can no longer teleport while in combat, and you usually cannot leave a map unless you have completed the main story objectives which led you to the map.
    • Enemies no longer have spawn points. Instead, they have to build and maintain bases just like the player. However, some missions still use the "spawn points which cease after surrounding buildings are destroyed" concept. note 
    • The Avatar and party heroes no longer respawn at teleport stones or monuments respectively. They can now resurrect each other within a 180-second window, after which they'll have to be summoned at an Altar of Life for a Lenya cost.
  • Infinite Supplies: Averted. Unlike in the first game, where your resources were technically infinite since they could "regenerate", they are finite in Spellforce 2 and it's actually possible to run out of them. Searching for new sources (or being careful with managing what you have) is sometimes needed. Like in 1, the game still resets your resource stores to zero if you leave a map for any reason, even if a cutscene forces you to leave, like in Demons of the Past. Mitigating this is most crucial in Westguard during Shadow Wars, as you need to enter and leave the map several times, and have to raise a huge army, which is needed to repel a similarly huge Realm attack. Oh, and enemy workers can beat you to finding and harvesting a particular spot.
    • On the topic of enemy workers, the map often place rich amounts of resources near enemy camps. With a bit of Foe-Tossing Charge, it is possible to either secure the rich resource spot for yourself (effectively turning your supplies "infinite"), or to cripple enemy income by killing all workers and then their Headquarters.
    • Played straight in Shal due to its unique resource generation mechanic. The whole map is basically an RTS version of Capture the Flag, with about a dozen resource depots spread across the area. Capturing one requires holding it free of enemies for ten seconds, and every depot generates a steady income of 20 units of all resources in regular intervals. With most of them under your control, you gain infinite resources at a rate far faster than you can spend them.
  • In the Blood: A Shaikan is anyone with even a trace of dragon's blood in their veins. It has a tendency to turn them into a Blood Knight. This is viewed as the Dark Side by the Shaikan at large. One Shaikan in each generation also has the spirit of the evil first Shaikan in him. That would be the Player Character (Soul Carrier), of course.
  • Last of His Kind: The player and his party in Shadow Wars are the last of the Shaikan. In Dragon Storm, this is no longer the case, as a result of the first player character's actions.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Spellforce is heavy on continuity, so this is a given. Examples include:
    • The loading screen of an early mission in Dragon Storm has a quote from Alyah from Shadow of the Phoenix. The quote reveals the fact that she took over her father's throne after the end of Shadow of the Phoenix.
    • The introduction of the second mission of Faith In Destiny reveals that the Soul Carrier had turned into a dragon. This was a plot point during Dragon Storm. In the same introduction, the Shaper Conqueress was also revealed to have turned into a dragon, which happened at the end of Dragon Storm.
  • Religion of Evil: The Red Cult.

SpellForce 2: Shadow Wars provides examples of:

  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Crystal weapons are the most powerful weapons in the game, can only be acquired in an optional dungeon that can't be accessed until right before the final mission, and come with a guaranteed +30% damage bonus against an enemy type that doesn't show up anywhere but said final mission.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Shaikan at the Iron Fields fall to the Pact nigh-immediately.
  • Annoying Arrows: Played straight for the heroes, averted for regular units, and inverted to hell and back for anyone in the crosshairs of your party's archers - nothing in this game can rival the ungodly DPS of even one properly skilled and equipped archer, let alone two or more of them.
  • Asteroids Monster: Pregnant Spiders in the Tuscari Desert spawn at least six smaller spiders upon death.
  • BFS: Greatswords are available to fighter heroes who acquired the appropriate heavy weapons skill, and these things are positively enormous. Most sport whole arrays of secondary blades near the hilt in addition to a main blade that's almost as long as the wielder is tall.
  • Black Magic: An actual in-game discipline that specializes in exactly one thing: dealing enormous amounts of raw damage. The Undead and the Pact are madly in love with it, and teaching it to your mages gives them unrivalled hitting power against anything that isn't a Realm paladin or a building.
  • Blood Magic: The Shaikan can give blood to a dying victim, allowing them to resurrect the person after (s)he dies. Nightsong is the first beneficiary after she was killed by her pursuers. The Soul Carrier shares the Dragon Blood with a few others throughout the story. They either become heroes who stay in your party permanently or companions (who come and go as the plot demands, and cannot equip items in your inventory).
  • Breast Plate: All female armors have very voluptuous ones.
  • Call-Back: For your last quest with Professor Twiddle in Shadow Wars, you need to recall what he said to you when he first met you. Qualifies as a Brick Joke due to the amount of time which has passed. note  For the record, it's 4 Iridium geodes and a Moonglass: the key to powering up the Timetwister.
  • Chainmail Bikini: Nightsong's combat attire consists of heeled boots that go up to her knees, a pair of hotpants that has actual chainmail parts, a skimpy bra whose cups aren't even connected at the front, and a pair of bladed bracers. It's probably not a coincidence that she's the game's poster girl who's prominently featured on most cover art and other artworks.
  • Chain of Deals: The Realm questline plays out as pretty convoluted one. First you must jump through some hoops to get the humans on board. When you're forced to attack the impregnable Clan Bulwark, they tell you to enlist the help of the elves and dwarves first. The dwarves won't pitch in unless their problems have been dealt with in a lengthy mission chain, followed by a similar one for the elves. And when you finally lay siege to the Bulwark, you're quickly shown a backdoor into the fortress that circumvents all the defences you recruited the dwarves and elves to take down, rendering the whole exercise moot.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The hat of the Shaikan. You later learn that in every generation, the Big Bad takes control of one of his descendants, partly explaining their "disloyalty". However, it should be noted that the Soul Carrier leaves each faction at a better state than it was before the intervention.
    • For the Realm, the Soul Carrier helped the dwarven ambassador to settle a family matter back home, while helping the elves to get back on their feet. The feats impressed the two ambassadors so much that they relocated to the fiefdom of Westguard. For the humans, their plague problem was also indirectly resolved by the Soul Carrier, as the elven ambassador (who had the cure) was imprisoned by the magician who released the plague. The Soul Carrier freed the ambassador and later killed the magician.
    • For the Clans, the Soul Carrier restored the honour of the Black Fangs by murdering leaders of their old blood rivals and by winning the arena tournament (which also gave Westguard a new captain of the guard, as the defeated champion took up the offer in order to escape Orc retribution). Even after leaving, the Soul Carrier killed the traitorous Lokhar, who was planning to use crystal-based weaponry to overthrow the Iron Lord.
  • Combat Stilettos: While not actual stilettos according to definition, most robes and armor suits that aren't plate armor have heeled boots when worn by a female character. Unsurprisingly, Nightsong is the most prominent example.
  • Dark Is Evil: The Pact consists of gargoyles, Dark Elves and the titular Shadows - your archetypical evil creatures - and everything about them honors the trope in every conceivable way. Actually a subversion: the gargoyles' motives are never stated, and the Shadows were forced to serve the Big Bad against their will. Only the Dark Elves seem to play it straight with noted habits like Cold-Blooded Torture and constant warfare against the Light just for the hell of it.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mordecay (Helps that he was a mercenary before he joined the group):
    "You are rescuing a dragon from a woman? Shouldn't it be the other way round?"
  • Dem Bones: Skeletons are a pretty common enemy type that comes in all sorts and flavors. They make up a large part of the Undead's armies (who'd have thought) and are surprisingly dangerous most of the time. You can get in on the fun yourself once you take control of the Pact forces - their necromancers can raise dead units as skeletons under your control, drowning the enemy in expendable reinforcements.
  • Dirty Coward: Toth Lar's arrogant confidence holds only as long as he clearly has the upper hand, like when he assaults an unsuspecting, poorly defended town with massive armies while he stays comfortably in the background. When his enemies return the favor and breach his not-so-impregnable fortress, he has one Oh, Crap! moment after the other and resorts to calling for his mommy. At least he goes down swinging when the time comes.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: Earth is one of the three elemental magic schools. Mage heroes can learn a few related spells, barbarian towers and units make use of it, and the Pact deploys it in golem form to complete their elemental golem triumvirate.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Played with. Fire and ice elementals are mutually strong and weak against each other, but have no bonus effects of any kind against earth elementals. Earth-based creatures don't care about fire or ice in return, although their inherent toughness often makes them highly resistant against ranged attacks.
  • Escort Mission: The Clan questline has several in succession. During two missions (primarily the Tuscari Desert), the clan leader, the Iron Lord, becomes an uncontrollable companion that follows the Avatar's party around and attacks everything in sight with no regard for his personal safety, and since he must survive no matter what, it tends to make this mission as frustrating as it sounds. Even worse is the orc shaman who offers two approaches to get rid of the area's massive spider infestation in the very same mission. The one that pleases him (sacrificing light worshippers to angry spirits) consists of escorting him to no fewer than six spots spread out all over a large map that's absolutely crawling with Respawning Enemies. That the second spot is majorly bugged just puts icing on the cake.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: As Sorvina finds out; Malacay possessed her body when she drank the Dragon Blood. Also counts as Eviler than Thou.
  • First-Episode Twist: The Shaikan at the Iron Fields are all but wiped out by the Pact in the first level. However, the Soul Carrier manages to share the Dragon Blood with a few characters throughout the story.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • Shadow Wars has a major one in the Tuscari Desert if you choose to sacrifice light worshippers to the angry orc spirits to stem the tide of giant spiders. When you reach the second location, the sacrifice won't get close enough to the trigger spot to continue the script, so they plus the squishy shaman who mustn't die just stand there right in front of an enemy spawn point indefinitely. The most common workaround is to switch to third person mode and push the stubborn woman closer to the trigger until the mission continues.
    • Installing Dragon Storm introduced another one that was eventually fixed. There are certain cutscenes that will screw up your camera angle in such a way that continuing will be nigh-impossible. And yes, this happens in a couple of plot-important, non-avoidable cutscenes as well. Repeatedly pressing Space during these cutscenes, as quickly as you can, usually allows you to avoid this bug.
  • Glass Cannon: Artillery units like catapults, as per RTS custom, hit like a freight train but fall apart at the seams if someone so much as looks at them funny.
  • Heroic Vow: Why you can't just teleport off to another island in the middle of a Real-Time Strategy fight - the only way to get your first ally is to swear a vow never to abandon your allies on the field, since they otherwise don't trust you as a Shaikan. Even when you leave behind your Light allies to join the Dark races, you keep your word.
  • Hero Unit: Your Avatar and their party are always present in the field and can resurrect each other if needs be, but if all of them are taken out at once, it's an instant Game Over. Another, more low-key example are the Titans, unique units that require massive amounts of tech and resources to build but can wipe out whole armies single-handedly.
  • Kill It with Ice: The second elemental school. Ice attacks deal more damage to, and take more damage from, fire-based creatures. They also tend to freeze their targets solid for a couple seconds, which can trap entire armies in a Cycle of Hurting when deployed in sufficient amounts.
  • Kill It with Fire: The third of the game's three elemental magic schools, and arguably the most dangerous. The Clans in particular make heavy use of it, with their towers, catapults and especially shamans dispensing it by the bucketload. Burn damage over time stacks almost indefinitely to the point that it quickly overwhelms any and all attempts at countering it with healing spells, making it one of the most potent threats to the hero party.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Realm paladins and Pact Deathknights are extremely fast mounted units with good staying power, hard-hitting attacks and powerful abilities.
  • Mook Maker: Realm paladins can summon ghosts from fallen allied units, Pact necromancers raise skeletons from any dead unit, Pact Arachnis attack by spawning small spiders right on top of their target, and a handful of unaligned enemy types create a bunch of new monsters upon death.
  • My New Gift Is Lame: The Soul Carrier sees the fiefdom of Westguard as this, as (1) the title was unwanted and (2) Westguard is the Butt-Monkey of the Realm, suffering neglect from the nobles and constant skirmishes between various factions. However, in true "lemons to lemonade" fashion, the Soul Carrier can fix the place, enough to beat back a full-fledged Realm attack. The local bailiff would offer rewards as the Shaikan slowly rebuild the place.
  • Not Zilla: The Crater plays host to an extremely powerful oversized lizard named Grozira that's basically an undead T-Rex roaming the map.
  • Puzzle Boss:
    • Naugron is this, complete with Exact Words. He boasts that no living thing can hurt his Bone Wall, and as long as the Wall is up, he cannot be harmed. While this is entirely correct, he forgets that he has a spell which damages the area it's fired at, and he is not a living creature.
    • One of the renegade orcs you're tasked with hunting down by the clans counts as well. He's fought in a Boss Room with five arcane devices set up in secluded corners, and everytime he takes sufficient damage, he teleports to one of them and comes back for another beating with full health. Killing him therefore requires destroying the devices first.
  • Raptor Attack: Archetypical raptors are a common sight on most desert maps and sometimes even in arctic regions.
  • Respawning Enemies: Many maps like Uram Gor, the Crater or the Tuscari Desert absolutely drown the heroes in endless waves of Mooks that spawn from a ridiculous number of nests on a ridiculously short timer (often just a couple seconds each). The Tuscari Desert is a particularly brutal case as it forces you to defend your base against literally uninterrupted streams of giant spiders. Enemy bases, aside from building units like you do, also spawn additional armies out of nowhere in regular intervals, and they continue to do so until you destroy every single important building in the area.
  • Sequence Breaking: For the Westguard sidequest chain, it is completely possible to beat back the barbarian invasion before recruiting the captain of the guard. The subplot involving the captain and the female barbarian who led the invasion makes more sense if you recruited the captain then beat back the barbarian invasion.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The entire Bulwark questline is one. You spend hours on several missions to get your hands on dwarven catapults and elven archers to break through the fortress' defences, but before you have to actually tangle with them, you're shown a backdoor that allows you to steamroll through the Clans' back ranks with nothing but your hero party.
  • Shock and Awe: While not an "official" magical school, your mage heroes can learn at least two lightning-based spells. The Realm also favors them over the Clans' incendiary approach or the Pact's Black Magic, most notably for their Titan and their dwarven Elite warriors.
  • Shoulders of Doom: Absolutely everyone including any and all mages loves to wear them. There's not a single armor or robe in the game that doesn't have ridiculously oversized, often heavily spiked shoulder pads.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Spikes of Villainy: Although the Pact's actual evilness is debatable, they're generally treated as the setting's bad guys, and most of their units are either spikey by nature or wear spike-studded armor. It even extends to their buildings.
  • Teleporting Keycard Squad: Every time you neutralize a magnet stone mine on the Magnet Stones map, an independent wave of enemy units spawns at their main base and goes after any unit or building of you that's closest at the moment.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: Leaving and re-entering any map resets your resource counters to zero. If you strip-mined everything during your initial visit and suddenly find yourself in need of an army you can't raise because there're no resources left to collect, you can end up in a situation you can't resolve without loading a (much) older savegame. The Westguard is particularly prone to this if you're new to the game, simply due to how often you need to return there. Since there are at least three major battles to be fought in the province over the course of the questline, you might actually be unable to leave the map again because you're locked in combat with an enemy you can't defeat.

SpellForce 2: Dragon Storm provides examples of:

  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Some of the bad guys fight for Riddengard willingly. Others... not so much. Fortunately, the control can be broken, albeit with fairly extreme methodsnote .
  • Dysfunction Junction: Your hero party. Whereas the Avatar and their posse in the base game were mentally and emotionally stable and got along swell, the Former Rune Warrior's group is angsty, tormented by spirits (both from the past and actual ones), and has members for whom even Teeth-Clenched Teamwork is a serious stretch.
  • Elite Mooks: All Shaikan units are significantly more expensive than their counterparts with the Realm, Clans or Pact, and they take up twice as many army slots as well. They're also one hell of a lot more powerful and generally better in almost every way.
  • Escort Mission: The add-on starts with the Avatar's small party trying to evacuate dwarven miners through a failing portal. Wouldn't be much of a problem, were the map not covered in a magical blizzard that kills the miners in about ten seconds, forcing you to let them hop from one large signal fire to the next.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Former Rune Warrior at the end. She gets better.
  • Magitek: The City Ship is a floating city (powered by magic) which can be used as transport. It is essentially a plane the size of a city.
  • Obviously Evil: Riddengard. Seriously, why is anyone even talking to this guy? Volcanic Veins all over his face? Glowing Eyes of Doom? Jerkass supreme? Meddles with the Archfire? Makes you wonder if the king is growing senile that he's considering allying with Riddengard instead of having him executed on the spot.
  • One-Man Army: Riddengard's Blessed have been touched by the Archfire, which gave them the magical abilities and combat prowess to take on entire armies and bases all on their own. You get to find out how that feels when a pair of them lead a Clan army against you in the finale of the Ghostwatch mission.
  • The Siege: When you finally reach Sevenkeeps, the city is under siege by a massive Pact army, and must've been for quite some time already if the militia's food shortage is anything to go by. Naturally, it's up to you to do something about that.

SpellForce 2: Faith In Destiny provides examples of:

  • Downer Ending: Elaborated in Demons. The Pilgrim unleashed an ancient evil onto the world (Zahzut), and got himself and many members of his party killed.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The ending of the Last Stand DLC can be gleaned from playing the main campaign. As usual, how the ending came about is further elaborated in the scenario.

SpellForce 2: Demons of the Past provides examples of:

  • Cassandra Truth: After completing the "Stepping Stones" quest, nobody in the Realm of the Gods is willing to believe that the player and their party are still alive. Somewhat justified in that the guards and bureaucrats had to deal with dead people in denial who have somehow managed to hold on to their corporeal forms. Still, after mentioning the "stepping stones", it should have made those same guards at least willing to investigate instead of merely dismissing the player out-of-hand.
  • Contrived Coincidence: No matter when the player reaches a specific trigger location, Non Player Characters that the player needs to meet will suddenly appear there.
  • Enemy Civil War: At one point, the player has to negotiate a map with three Norcaine (Dark Elf) camps, all mutually hostile to each other while endlessly spawning batches of demons harass everyone.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: There are numerous locations where failure of a cutscene to trigger can result in your player character being unable to progress, even if it's just a quest as opposed to the entire gameplay.
    • Most notable in the Ruins of the Steel Coast, the second seal. Part of the mission requires you flying a dragon over lava, but being a fire-dragon, it can't harm the lava golems and lava elementals there, which have to be killed so you can harness the mission critical chest loot, and the dragon at one point even mentions riding him, but outside of a cutscene that has you do just that, there is no mention, in game, on how to do so. note 
  • A God I Am Not: Surprisingly. Aonir specifically says he and his brothers are not gods, but guardians of the realms. Still, each of them is far more powerful than the player character, and will always be.
  • Guide Dang It!: The gameplay tutorial is seriously lacking in information, and doesn't even let the player interact with the game while it's in action, despite narrating instructions.
    • The first mission also has two areas which will catch players off-guard:
      • Choose your answer to the Watcher carefully. The Shaikan do not fight for gold or for blood.
      • Killing the Lich prematurely will only cause him to respawn together with lots of skeleton warriors from the mausoleums under his control. The correct way to deal with him is to ignore him, while leveling his base.
  • Love Hurts: The Shadow Warrior for the Norcaine Empress undergoing the same fate.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Two notable instances. Zarach and Caine.
  • Mask of Power: The "gods" of the series all wear masks when appearing in person.
  • Meaningful Rename: Zarach, the creator of the orcs and trolls used to be Ulm, the creator of the world.
  • Not Playing Fair With Resources: Not only do enemy camps have far more units than you, but they can gather the map's resources faster than you can, and if you try to make up the difference with more resource gathering buildings, especially in the first map, the enemy will magically spawn more groups of soldiers for every building you build. In the first map, those units are even of a higher level than you.
  • Partial Transformation: A norcaine empress is in this situation when you encounter her in the Shadow Realm. A major quest is the player character trying to help her decide if she wants to complete the transformation or undo it.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer…: The player character is quick to go after problems with a sword. Considering the entire history of Spellforce, this is more than justified.