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Video Game / The Age of Decadence

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The Age of Decadence is a computer Role-Playing Game, developed by Iron Tower Studio and released on October 14, 2015. Set in a post-apocalyptic Low Fantasy world reminiscent of The Roman Empire, the game aims to follow the philosophy of the golden era, with emphasis on choice and consequences.

Players have seven backgrounds to choose from, each with their own prologues and preset reputation with the factions. Instead of traditionally leveling up, the player gains skill points upon completing quests and killing enemies. Combat is turn-based, with weapon types having different attributes and the ability to target specific body parts. Unlike other games of the genre, the game does not feature companions, instead focusing on the player character. One can however receive aid from other characters at times, albeit controlled by the AI rather than the player.

A spin-off, Dungeon Rats, was released on November 4, 2016. While still a role-playing game with the same combat system, Dungeon Rats is more akin to Turn-Based Tactics, being party-based and focusing on tactical combat encounters to escape a massive prison mine.

The game's website can be found here.

Tropes featured in Age of Decadence include:

  • Achievement Mockery: The game has an achievement for dying on the first combat encounter.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Loremasters specialize in digging up artifacts in the ruins of the old world and selling them to the highest bidder. Okay, that's the ideal. Most loremasters (including a PC with the Loremaster background, at least at first) are bookworms who rarely set foot outside the safe parts of town, but old-school ones learned their trade while delving ruins, killing monsters and taking their stuff.
  • After the End: Following a great Magitek war, humanity has been reduced to huddling in three cities in the middle of a wasteland, with most technology being reduced to Iron Age level.
  • Black Widow: Lady Lorenza Calani, a Maadoran noble, has married five times — and all five of her husbands have died under mysterious circumstances, leaving her with enormous wealth and power. She's revealed to be very cold and manipulative, having trained her ladies-in-waiting to use deadly poison against anyone she deems a threat. The Boatmen of Styx mission involving her is even titled "The Black Widow".
  • Cthulhumanoid: Agathoth's appearance in the body he inhabits is a blue variant, albeit with less tentacles on the face and mostly on the back of his head, giving it the appearance of dreadlocks. When you bring him the ruler who will become his Puppet King, he's put on a suit of golden armor that resembles a pharaoh to hide his inhuman features to make his offer more amenable.
  • The Con:
    • A well-spoken character has a number of opportunities to cheat people out of their money. The grifter background outright specializes in it.
    • The loremaster starts with running a con. Feng seems to indicate that this isn't uncommon for loremasters, although he's not the most honest source of information to begin with.
  • Concussion Frags: Averted with blackpowder bombs, as there are both regular bombs and a distinct shrapnel-filled variety.
  • Crapsack World: After the great war, the old imperial society plummeted quickly. Poverty runs rampant, brutal violence is an everyday affair and war is always looming on the horizon.
  • Critical Hit: A significant part of the combat system, with their likelihood governed by the Critical Strike skill. Some weapons (like swords) are also more likely to inflict them than others (i.e hammers.)
  • Cutscene Incompetence: There are a couple of points, such as when trying to kill your way through Antidas' house or fight through Gaelius' guards alone, where you'll be killed in combat regardless of your stats. In the latter case, you get an ending screen where this happens right after you win the actual fight.
  • Dialogue Tree: Very extensive ones, with 5 responses being the norm rather than the exception. They also tend to be unique for every character, because many options appear only with certain character’s skills and background, staying hidden for others.
  • Earn Your Bad Ending: In order to get the worst ending you have to kill all 3 lords, destroy Maadoran and awaken Agatoth.
  • Easily Forgiven: Averted in at least one early side quest, where the player is told to remove an undesirable character from the starting town. This can be achieved by simply telling him to leave, without even needing high persuasion skill to do so. However, the guy ends up bearing a grudge, requiring you to improve your reputation with his faction to talk with him.
  • Elemental Crafting: There are five tiers of metal used to craft metallic weapons and armor: bronze, iron, steel, blue steel (a tempered steel alloy) and Sky Metal.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: It's Rome, albeit a (previously) more steampunk-esque version of it. Other countries and cultures are called by their commonly used names ("Kemet" for Egypt, the Egyptian name for it) or not even changed. The Phrygians, for instance.
  • Gladiator Games: The Arena in Maadoran is a textbook example; duels to the death, and a champion waiting for you at the top.
  • Guile Hero: With a properly statted character you can achieve some ridiculous things by talking good enough.
  • Have a Nice Death: Many of the game's combat encounters have unique Game Over text that narrates your character's final thoughts before dying, which differs based on the situation at hand. The developers likely took the time to write these due to the high frequency at which players are expected to die.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Spears allow you to impale characters through the stomach (or indeed, be impaled yourself). The corpse will often stand half-upright, supported only by the spear shaft.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: Gaelius' nephew, Serenas, is his only heir. Unlike his uncle, Serenas is spoiled and very incompetent, having spent his time with prostitutes.
  • Intrepid Merchant: Subverted. You'd expect the Merchant player background to be this, but they don't do much trading at all. Instead, said "merchant" is actually an agent of the merchants' guild and negotiates a lot of stuff beyond pedestrian trade deals.
  • Item Crafting: The "create expendables" and "improve existing items" types exists as separate skills. It is possible to forge new weapons, craft traps, create blackpowder bombs and turn a regular poison into a potent one, amongst other things.
  • Karma Houdini: The player character if the decision to blow up Inferiae is taken in the buried tower.
  • Knockback: Possible with certain weapons. In particular, bombs will always knock people down if they score a critical on them.
  • Low Fantasy: It's a cynical, brutal, low-magic world set After the End. There are stories of a long-dead empire that used to employ fantastical magical powers and who fought with gods at their side, but naturally all that power in the hands of mortals ended up leading to the current status quo because Humans Are Bastards. Pretty much all magic is of the enchantment type; being a wizard is simply not an option here, as your character will never be able to cast a single spell.
    • It is however possible for a very skilled Loremaster to unlock many of the secrets left behind by the ancient civilization, including some of their nearly invincible armor and regenerative machines. In the case of very skilled, and particularly callous Loremasters, it's even possible to unlock enough of the ancient secrets to destroy the world again.
  • Magitek: Most of the relics of the Magi are some version of this.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Averted, as the things player can do depend on their skills and reputation alone, and so for every door that opens before the player, another is closed. I.e. playing non-violently increases your reputation with factions like the Commercium, but also means that the Assassins’ Guild will not even talk to you.
  • Meaningful Name: The Assassins’ Guild in the game is known as the Boatmen of Styx: as in, the people that send others beyond the river Styx, a boundary between the world of the dead and the living.
  • Money for Nothing: This can screw the player two separate ways. On the one hand, unless you complete a quest that leaves you flush with cash, combat characters have to be careful with their cash - consumable items are as expensive as they are vital. On the other hand, items are in limited supply - once you buy up a particular store, that's it. Furthermore, what you can buy is pretty limited; real artifacts are almost impossible to buy, and of course nobody sells meteor metal - if you want a weapon made from that, you'll have to find the appropriate ingots and craft it yourself. Even blue-steel weapons can't be found in shops (though the metal itself can, if you want to try to work it).
  • Multiple Endings: Every major questline can change the outcome of the plot in very different ways.
    • Physical God: One of the endings allows you to become one. It's also an Ambiguous Ending, as it gives you very little information on what has become of the world - you are free to imagine any outcome.
    • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: several endings are reached by punching out Agathoth. The game hints several times that such a feat is only possible due to very special circumstances and the character's extreme martial prowess.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: The eight backgrounds on offer. They don’t have any effect on your character’s main stats, but they do affect their standing with the game’s seven factions, as well as the dialogue options available for them. It is also possible to remain an unknown stranger with no background, and no associated strengths or weaknesses; however, the Drifter does still have its own opening that draws the character into the plot.
  • Murder, Inc.: The Boatmen of Styx will assassinate anyone for the right price. The group originated as a Praetorian Guard within the Legions back during the days of the Empire, and specialized in removing threats to the Emperor's safety. After the Empire went belly-up, the Boatmen went freelance and continued to ply their trade. This has led to a rivalry with the Imperial Guards, who are another ex-legionary group devoted to keeping the peace between the Houses.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Failing certain skill checks in dialogue, which can be frequent depending on your path, leads to you getting one-shotted in the next scene, with no chance to fight back. You even get a special death screen text for it. It's that kind of game.
  • Optional Stealth: The sneak skill, which allows your character to bypass ambushes, perform clean burglaries, and more, assuming that it is high enough for the situation at hand.
  • Our Gods Are Different:
    • In the war against the Qantari demons, the Magi of the Empire supposedly created gods to fight for them, but exactly what happened is unclear.
    • The gods, known as Tngri in Ordu and as Yazatas in the language of the Magi, are actually void-dwelling beings who were called into the world to possess the bodies of human volunteers. The volunteers had been warded so that they would control the beings in their bodies, but the wards were sabotaged and the volunteers were possessed instead. Four of the gods, lead by Balezaar, allied with the Qantari and declared war on the Empire; while the other three, lead by Agathoth, opposed them and sided with the Empire and the Magi. Though a god is not omnipotent it is a match for a human army in battle. As of the time of the game all of the gods are either slain, banished back to the Void, or imprisoned somewhere; but several endgames revolve around their return.
  • Point Build System: Rather than winning XP toward a Level Up, you win points that can be applied directly to skills, and only for quest completion.
  • Point of No Return: Once you reach the endgame temple, you can't go back to the prior locations. This was done by the developers to avoid a 'narrative can of worms.'
  • Poisoned Weapons: Weapons coated in poison inflict bonus damage in the 3-11 range, while potent poison has the range of 6-14. Oh, and poison doesn’t dry off the blade until the 20th hit.
  • Powered Armor: A suit of ancient power armor can be found in the game.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Ordu live only for war and are a constant threat for the few city-states remaining.
  • Rat Stomp: Lampshaded and averted. You can ask NPCs if they need to have any rats killed, but that will simply result in puzzled looks.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
    • You can find one of the Gods at the bottom of the Abyss. Let's just say that centuries after being left in the bunker without being able to move have destroyed its sanity a bit. If you decide to unleash it instead of putting him out of his misery, it destroys Maadoran to the last stone.
    • Another god is sleeping in the Temple of Thor-Agoth. Awaken it, and it will ask you to pick a ruler through whom it can rule the world.
    • Yet another god is trying to convince Meru to help it return to this world. If Meru performs the ritual you have the choice of siding with this god or opposing it.
  • Shadow Dictator: Once freed, this becomes Agathoth's objective, giving you the honor of picking one of the three lords, Dux Paullus, yourself (if the chosen one), or Miltiades to kneel to him. The ending shows that the chosen ruler becomes very successful, with rumors that there is someone behind the scenes, which only stay at that.
  • Shout-Out: The achievements "300" and "Game of Thrones" can be acquired following the Imperial Guard and the Merchant Guild questlines. The achievement for getting an artificial eye is called "My vision is augmented".
  • Shown Their Work: Even in the demo, there are plenty of allusions to obscurer facets of non-Hollywood Rome. Sadly, all gladiator fights seem to be to the death.
  • The Six Stats: The game has six stats: Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Perception, Intelligence and Charisma.
  • Spin Attack: One is possible with most weapons, with a change of knocking enemies back.
  • Story Branching: A lot of quests play out like this, with plenty of skill checks.
  • Threat Backfire: Threatening Cassius into leaving Teron. Not only does he not leave, he ends up informing Lord Antidas about it, who gives you a first and final warning.
  • Thunderbolt Iron: The highest level of common weapon to be found.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Averted in many ways. For instance, stripping down to your underpants normally elicits no reaction in Role Playing Games. Here, the guards will stop your character, inquire if he’s drunk, mock him (“Just between you and me, there’s not much to see here anyway.”) and finally tell him to put some clothes on.
  • Violence Really Is the Answer: Generally averted, unless the question to be answered was "How to get killed as soon as possible?" In the tutorial alone, some NPCs will wipe the floor with you in a fair fight, even if you pour all starting points into combat-related skills. That said, the Imperial Guards are expected to solve their problems with violence, and they're less respectful of someone who rises in rank because of political acumen rather than combat skill.
  • Walking the Earth: Shall you finish the game without a concrete loyalty to a faction and ascending to godhood, your character becomes a drifter (or if you were a drifter from the get-go, par the course) walking around from place to place, never settling.
  • Weapon Across the Shoulder: Two-handed weapons default to this when out of combat.
  • Weapon-Based Characterization: Unusually for almost any video game, each performs widely different in combat in practice (even if how they do so is hard to describe). Also unusually is none of the weapons are "second tier" weapons for non-primary-combat characters, they are all roughly equal.
    • Heroes Prefer Swords: Will critical more often and can hit everyone around you in a whirlwind attack.
    • Devious Daggers: Has low AP cost and accurate, will bypass armor often, and can "flurry" to get in even more attacks.
    • Axes: High damage for high AP. Also can access the whirlwind attack.
    • Hammers: Each hit has an additional chance to wear down armor and shields.
    • Archer: Can attack from range, but not up close. Downsides include ammo issues (this game does not use Money for Nothing), low skill characters will often miss, low armor penetration (or if using piercing arrows, low damage). Like all ranged weapons, shield users have a bonus to their block rate against ranged attacks.
    • Crossbows: Can attack from range, but not up close. High power with each shot, but slow to reload, like the bow has access to barbed/plain/piercing ammo for each grade.
    • Throwing weapons: Being the only one handed ranged weapon, it is the only one that can use a shield alongside it. Are expensive, hard to resupply, and have low range, but can attack at close ranges unlike other ranged weapons, and deal more damage.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Gods are weak right after returning and require time to get back to full power. That's the only reason it's possible to face them in combat.