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Video Game / Stonekeep

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"I am Thera, Goddess of Earth. Prepare yourself, your journey awaits. You must descend to the lost city of Stonekeep and retrieve the nine receptacles. To protect you from the magic of the darker realm, I must free your spirit from the confines of your body. Achieve your goal, and Stonekeep and I will be set free. Fail, and you will be entombed by the forces of darkness...forever."
Thera, final narration at the end of the intro movie.

Stonekeep is a 1995 first-person Action RPG for MS-DOS by Interplay Entertainment.

The story is about a boy named Drake, an inhabitant of the human stronghold Stonekeep, who was saved from the destruction of the earth's surface by a mysterious figure. After wandering the destroyed earth for years, he returns to his old home to be greeted by the goddess Thera, who has momentarily escaped the grasp of her brother, the dark god Khull-Khuum, the one responsible for the end of the world. She explains to Drake that although the other gods are powerless and sealed away in orbs by Khull-Khuum, she has managed to wrest the orbs from his control and they are now scattered throughout the ruins of Stonekeep and the tunnels below. Before getting resealed by Khull-Khuum, she manages to send Drake's spirit on his way to collect all the orbs, defeat Khull-Khuum and restore her temple.

On his journey through the ruins of Stonekeep and the mines below, Drake ends up smashing a lot of enemies, including the goblin like Shargas, the Khull-Khuum worshipping Throgs and Khull-Khuum's own nightmarish legions. On the way he also meets new friends, including a bunch of dwarves, the rebel Sharga Skuz, the last remaining Elf Enigma and the insidious self-proclaimed "King of all fairies and goblins" Wahooka.

The game's claim to fame would have been the detailed full-screen 3D environments (which are seamlessly built up from pre-rendered graphics) and the almost completely in-universe interface (only the settings and save/load screens take you away from the 3D view). Sadly, the game spent 5 years in Development Hell and when the game finally hit the stores, the troubled development has left some marks and caused the game to get mixed reviews. Released along with the game is a surprisingly readable short novel, Thera Awakening, which introduces the game world's races and pantheon as well as Drake's parents. The opening FMV is also suprisingly good for the time, this being only a few years after FMV's introduction on home computers.

A sequel titled Stonekeep II: Godmaker was in production for five years until it was cancelled in 2001. In early 2010, a new Stonekeep game for the Wii was announced with a Q3 release schedule. Stonekeep: Bones of the Ancestors was finally released on 2013 to good sales yet negative reviews.

This game shows examples of:

  • Absent-Minded Professor: The dwarf Dombur. When you first meet him, he asks if the party could come back later to save him from prison because he is fascinated by the runes he can see. Later he asks Drake to tell his brother to come see him at his workshop. When said brother is in the party standing right next to him.
  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Stonekeep sewer. With ceilings higher than the supposedly inhabited part of Stonekeep.
  • Action RPG: Following the footsteps of Dungeon Master and Eye of the Beholder.
  • After the End: The hero is the last survivor from a fortress that sunk underground in the intro. Later exposition cutscenes reveal that this fortress was the last remnant of a once great civilization.
  • All There in the Manual: The game came with a full length short novel about Drake's parents. Reading it is... beneficial to understanding what the heck is going on in the game.
  • Animated Armor: Khull-Khuum looks like a hollow moving suit of armor made of dark metal.
  • Bad Moon Rising: During two cutscenes, the moon turns into a giant skull.
  • Bag of Holding: Aquila's scroll turns whatever you find into drawings, letting you hold an infinite number of items. And you will.
  • Big Bad/God of Evil: Khull-Khuum who sucks Stonekeep into the ground and kills all the inhabitants.
  • Blob Monster: Slimes in Stonekeep and its sewers.
  • Combat Tentacles: The boss of the sewers uses these. Before they're chopped off.
  • Common Tongue: Played straight for dialogue. Averted in that some signs are in different languages and/or scripts, and you require either a character familiar with the language to read it for you (with varying degrees of success), or a translation spell.
  • Dem Bones: Regular kind, floating horrible nightmare skull kind and shadow versions of either.
  • Developer's Foresight: Wahooka joins your party near the end of the game. You can backtrack all the way to the Faerie Realm (about halfway through the entire game) to listen to the Wahooka song, and he will have a reaction to it. Though it is just a single "Bah!" that could easily be recycled from his other dialogue.
  • Didn't Need Those Anyway!: Removing the tentacles of the boss of the sewers actually makes it more dangerous since it'll start biting you instead.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The common way to win is to seal Khull-Khuum away with the ritual he used to trap the other gods. You can also beat him in single combat, which apparently kills him.
  • Diegetic Interface: You get your interface at the start of the game. You actually have to collect the journal (which includes the automap, stats screen and all magic spells) in-game.
  • Disc-One Nuke: A dagger of penetration can be found in the first minute of gameplay, if you know where to look. It is otherwise found at the beginning of the game's final stretch.
    • A second full set of endgame Ancient Armor can be found in the southeast corner of the Dwarven Fortress. The corridors can be seen with the Orb of Afri minimap, but as of writing this, access to this area remains a secret.
  • Doomed Hometown: The titular Stonekeep itself. The entire game revolves around you defeating Khull-Khuum and undooming it.
  • Dug Too Deep: The dwarves have accidentally unearthed an undead warrior. You're expected to deal with it in one of the scariest scenes in the game.
  • Dungeon Crawling: The entire game is just one big dungeon.
  • Easter Egg: There are two secrets in the game that involve developer in-jokes. ("Beware the Kevin of Bass!" and the dwarven vault scroll)
    • The Duck rune, One of the Interplay developers is fond of ducks and sneaks something ducky into every Interplay game. A scroll in the cache found behind the Duck rune's usage starts with "C D E D B D Ducks" (Read: See The Itty Bitty Ducks). Search for ducks in the context of other interplay games like Wasteland and Fallout.
    • A later non-secret scroll found in the Palace of Shadows refers to one of the developer's dungeons and dragons characters.
  • Enemy Mine: Averted when Enigma (an elf) joins and Karzak (a dwarf) insists on leaving. Played straight when Farli (another dwarf) rejoins later on.
  • Enemy-Detecting Radar: The Orb of Afri.
  • Evolving Attack: You get better with whatever weapon you use.
  • Faux First Person 3D: Probably one of the last games to use it, the quality of it giving the game its immersive feeling.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: In order: Khull-Khuum, Helion, Aquila, Thera, Azrael, Marif, Afri, Saffrini, Yoth-Soggoth and Kor-Soggoth
  • Ghost Town: The Gate of the Ancients and Stonekeep itself.
  • Giant Spider: The game's most basic enemy. though they're actually ants.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: The other gods are basically useless against Khull-Khuum and need some brat to save them.
  • Healing Potion: Come in friendly blue, bigger blue, biggest blue, and heal all brown, plus stinky antidote potions, light green agility potions, and dark green strength potions
  • Heal Thyself: Blatant since opening the inventory freezes time. It is actually possible to heal all your wounds during battle by just eating enough nutritious tree roots... instantly. Although generally less useful in battle, there are also healing fountains and healing spells.
  • Last of His Kind: Enigma is the very last elf. He's not too happy about still being alive. Drake may or may not be the last living human.
  • Menu Time Lockout: Opening the inventory pauses time, but you can eat and drink stuff and change equipment while in the inventory.
  • Now What?: At the end, Stonekeep is shown rising up from below the ground. But everybody inside died in the intro and Drake's spirit is still stuck in the world of the dead. Uh... what? Did everybody come back to life or something? We'll never know. Arguably an example of A Winner Is You. One version of the ending explicitly says that Drake's spirit is restored to his body and you see him open his eyes.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The Gate of the Ancients is absolutely deserted. The music doesn't help.
  • One-Hit Kill: If you wake up the sleeping ettin, he'll kill your entire party with one blow.
  • One-Man Party: Your teammates are pretty much just there for exposition and comic relief. Even the good ones like Enigma you could do without.
  • One Size Fits All: Not played entirely straight, but equipment does seem to change size depending on who wears it.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Standard western type. Guards a treasure. Chained with a lock with a broken key.
  • Our Elves Are Different: Enigma, who is also a straight aversion of Elfeminate (see that queen of the fairies? He was tapping that).
  • Pulling Themselves Together: Skeletons do this. Picking up their bones so they no longer add up stops them.
  • Puzzle Boss: The game has a couple.
    • The first tentacle monster can only be killed after draining the sewer. You can chop of the tentacles beforehand, but the rest of it stays submerged and will keep biting you.
    • Khull-Khuum himself is most easily dealt with by trapping him inside an orb like the other gods. However, it is possible to kill him, though very difficult. (He has 1500 hitpoints whereas Drake maxes out at 240, and several nasty attacks and spells.)
  • Pre Existing Encounters: There are no Random Encounters. However, the early levels have a few spawning points for weak monsters, but that's barely worth mentioning unless you intend to use them for grinding purposes.
  • Rejection Ritual: A dwarf companion of yours is declared an "uck-tugoth"—he is ritually cast out of dwarf society and declared an undwarf by the elder of his clan for disobeying him.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: Kill one hornet. Get the hive for free. (hint: don't kill one hornet)
  • Shout-Out: One of the gods is named Yoth-Soggoth, a reference to Yog-Sothoth and Shoggoths from the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • Sickeningly Sweet: What Karzak thinks of Fairie songs. They literally hurt and weaken him.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The ice caverns. Have warmly dressed shargas and floaty ice spike balls.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Wahooka is an odd case. There is no denying that he is an extremely powerful and skilled wizard and a force to be reckoned with. He appears to be very secretive, but at the same time presumes Drake should know who he is at first glance. Furthermore, his claim to being "the king of all fairies and goblins" is highly questionable since the actual fairies and goblins you meet barely know who he is, and certainly do not consider him any kind of king.
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear: Not all that bad since you'll generally save your unique gear for Drake, but lampshaded by Skuz when he leaves.
  • Spark Fairy: They can actually switch between spark-mode and, well, it depends on the fairy's gender.
  • Status Buff: Green potions.