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"Enter an apocalyptic fantasy world, where humanity is on the brink of extinction, iron is valued above gold and trust is hard earned."
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Grim Dawn is an Action RPG game developed by Crate Entertainment, a company that includes veterans of Iron Lore Entertainment, the makers of Titan Quest.

Grim Dawn takes place in the world of Cairn, where humanity is caught in between an eternal war between two otherworldly forces: the Aetherials, who seek to use human bodies as a resource to take over the world; and the Chthonians, creatures from the void who seek to wipe out humanity before the Aetherials can use them. Their war has brought the world of Cairn to the brink of destruction. For humankind, it is the dawn of a grim new age where iron has replaced gold as currency and the great civilisations of old are nothing but a memory.

Small enclaves of human survivors exist scattered throughout the world, holed up in refuges. These humans have quietly watched the warring invaders destroy one another and have become wise to the strengths and vulnerabilities of their otherworldly foes. A few survivors have begun to exhibit strange new abilities after surviving possession or exposure to the Aetherials. The unnatural powers of these survivors, occasionally called "Taken", are feared by some, but also give a new hope of launching a resistance to fight the "outsiders" and reclaim what is left of their world.

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You start the main Grim Dawn campaign off as an Aetherial-possessed human who was captured by a group of humans seeking refuge at Devil's Crossing, a prison with road access to many parts of Cairn that have since been destroyed or overrun by the Aetherials and their possessed human slaves. The leader of the refugees, Captain John Bourbon, gives the orders for you to be hung, but as you hang by the noose, the Aetherial possessing you escapes. Bourbon then cuts you from the noose despite some protests from the other refugees. When you awaken, you are given some basic equipment by the refugees at Devil's Crossing and are free to explore the world with your newfound abilities as a Taken, although you can choose to complete quests that will hopefully aid the remaining human survivors in ultimately stopping the Aetherial and Cthonian war which threatens to destroy Cairn entirely.

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Similar to Titan Quest, the player can initially choose one out of several different classes, known as "Masteries", each focusing on different gameplay styles. At a slightly higher level, the player is given the choice to select a second Mastery to specialise in, allowing them to hybridise their character based on their own play style.

These 6 Masteries are included in the original game:

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Grim Dawn was first released on February 25, 2016 via Steam and Humble Bundle, while a DRM-free version of the game was first released on March 19, 2016, via GOG Dot Com. It is available for purchase on any of these channels, as well as on the official Grim Dawn website here.

DLCs currently available for the game are The Crucible, which adds a survival mode that pits your characters against 150 waves of enemies, with greater rewards for more waves your character defeats, and the Loyalist Upgrade, which adds a handful of cosmetic equipment that was originally available exclusively to Kickstarter backers.

An expansion, titled Ashes of Malmouth, was released on October 12, 2017, and included two new Masteries: the Inquisitor, who specialises in combining Guns Akimbo with magic bullets and elemental traps, and the Necromancer, who focuses on raising skeletal minions as well as using arcane attacks and spells. The plot in Ashes of Malmouth centers around the Taken working alongside the Black Legion to assault the city of Malmouth, which has been converted into the Aetherials' main base where their leader, the Shaper of Flesh, is on the cusp of creating a new weapon that could shatter the human resistance and complete the Aetherial takeover of Cairn.

A second Expansion Pack, titled Forgotten Gods, was released on March 27, 2019 and features the divinely-empowered Oathkeeper mastery as well as the Shattered Realm, a Bonus Dungeon themed as a distorted Mirror Universe with unfathomable wealth and horrors. In Forgotten Gods, the Taken is approached by the cults of the Witch Gods to confront a great evil in the Korvan Basin, an abandoned, sandy region to the far east of Cairn, whose resurgence would signal the destruction of not just Cairn, but possibly the Eldritch realm itself.


Come see what's left of my tropes.

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    A-C 

  • 20 Bear Asses: You'll receive this sort of quest pretty often, such as returning with royal jellies or lost Black Legion insignias.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The sewers of Malmouth are large enough to shelter a resistance movement and let large Aetherials pass through.
  • Action Bomb: Chthonian Harbingers and Bloodletters will explode violently upon death, dealing heavy chaos damage. This can be prevented by draining all of their energy away before they die.
  • Action Girl:
    • Elsa. She gets an Offscreen Moment of Awesome by escaping from Darius Cronley, and eventually becomes a member of the Black Legion.
    • If Daila's Diary, the 3 notes to open the secret level in Ultimate, and the Flavor Text from Stormheart are taken into account, Daila is probably the closest NPC the game has to a Retired Badass.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Bourbon asks you to save Devil's Crossing? No hero discount for you! Even reselling magical items nets you lousy returns. Bounties are actually more profitable however.
  • Aerith and Bob: John Bourbon, Edwin, Elsa are normal sounding names. Then you get the odd balls like Darlet, Mornay and Ulgrim.
  • Affably Evil: For a deranged cannibal cult that worships an Eldritch Abomination, the people of Barrowholm are surprisingly amiable.
  • After the End: The Aetherial invasion, referred to by survivors as the Grim Dawn, has caused a Class 2 Apocalypse How in the world of Cairn, with considerable amounts of Physical Annihilation added into the mix. If given the chance, the Cult of Ch'thon would see this escalate to a Class X while Korvaak's resurgence would likely cause a Class X-5.
  • Alliance Meter: You have an entire window to keep track of your commitment to various factions. Invest more in one faction and you'll unlock their exclusive gear, sidequests, and rewards. This will also lower your standing against opposing factions. That said, Allied factions never go below "Tolerated" with the sole exception of either the Kymon's Chosen and the Order of Death's Vigil, depending on which faction you choose to side with. Hostile factions, meanwhile, will start throwing more and more of their forces at you the lower your reputation with them is, culminating in spawns of their strongest kind, known as "Nemesis" monsters.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: In Ashes of Malmouth, the Aetherial Vanguard show they mean business right off the bat by assaulting Devil's Crossing while you were busy dealing with the Loghorrean, killing two Mauve Shirts as well as a considerable number of Red Shirts from the original campaign.
  • Ambiguously Human: Creed writes in his journal that he's not entirely convinced Ulgrim is completely human, given his near-superhuman strength and his surprisingly vast knowledge of ancient history, and may in fact be an Ascendant Demigod. He also wonders whether the Taken is on the path to ascendancy as well.
  • And I Must Scream: The Attendant is the herald of the Witch gods. Their idea of how he could best serve them involved his body being trapped in a stone wall. He mentions having been killed and revived multiple times throughout the centuries.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The game refines the Action RPG formula to a perfect science:
    • Auto-pick up for cash, food and potions when touching them.
    • Item comparison without the need to put the second item in your inventory.
    • All partial components can be combined with the touch of a button.
    • When blueprints are learned, they are moved to the blacksmith's window and are available for all your characters. Therefore, you no longer waste inventory space, money or time farming them.
    • The blacksmith will list all of available recipes and all the required components, including the ones you have and those which are missing. In addition, you no longer need to carry components in your inventory to use them for crafting, you can just leave them in your stash and visit the blacksmith.
    • When trying to do fetch quests, the mini-map will display items you need to find once you're near them with a star, making finding them and completing the quest so much easier.
    • A little red X is displayed on any items that you can't use because you don't meet the minimum requirements. This makes navigating much easier as compared to having to have your cursor hover over every item in turn.
    • Patch 1.0.0.8 adds in a few more. One example is showing how much you've over-capped a resistance when you mouse over specific resistances.
    • Items colors are dimmed if you don't have enough cash to buy them.
    • Attack speed on weapons no longer displays as vaguely defined slow/normal/fast, but now displays how many attacks you can execute per second.
    • Mousing over movement, cast and attack speed lists the cap as opposed to it being All There in the Manual.
    • 1.0.1.0 Added in a slew of new icons for the various debuff effects in the game so you now know what is affecting your character as well as what the exact values are.
    • The expansions add more store spaces for your excess loot.
  • Anti Poop-Socking: Bounties can be taken only five times per gameplay session to prevent endless reputation and material farming. This is actually a rather lenient example, as not only is this cap not shared between factions (meaning you can undertake five Bounties for Devil's Crossing and five for the Rovers in the same game), but resetting the cap is as simple as quitting to the main menu and loading your character again, though this has the side effect of causing every enemy you've slain to respawn.
  • Anyone Can Die: The expansions show that no one is safe from death. No matter what, you can't be everywhere at the same time to save everyone.
  • Apocalypse Cult: The Cult of Ch'thon is this if their summoning of the Loghorrean succeeds, which would wipe out every living thing in Cairn.
  • Apocalyptic Log: You can find some NPCs and notes scattered about in-game, detailing events before the game proper.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • The Aetherials and the Chthonians were sworn enemies long before the start of the game.
    • The Kymon's Chosen and Order of Death's Vigil hate each other's guts to no end. Ironically, their respective headquarters are in the same area, separated by a small river.
    • Downplayed with the Coven of Ugdenbog and Barrowholm. They are definitely enemies, but are keeping off each others' back with an unofficial truce.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: The Black Legion consists of former convicts. They are highly trained and are regarded as the Empire's finest army. With the Grim Dawn, they are frequently referred to as humanity's best chance against the Aetherials and Chthonians.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • Not all ranged-attack monsters are bright enough to run away when you hit them repeatedly with your melee weapon.
    • Sometimes monsters go after you instead of your pet who's blocking their path. This make them easy to kill as they're stuck in walking animation while you pummel them with range attacks.
  • Attack Reflector: Several rare affixes carry the Damage Reflected modifier, and a handful of skills both completely negate and reflect all damage back to your attackers, notably the Nightblade's Blade Barrier and Arcanist's Mirror of Ereoctes. Monsters also carry this attribute either passively, such as in the case of the Briarthorn Horror monster type, or they have access to skills that grant it, as is the case with Skeletal Knights or hero monsters with Reflective in their title. In the case of the latter, much like Diablo II's Iron Maiden, it is very easy for unaware players to kill themselves attacking these monsters.
  • An Axe to Grind: They come in one-handed and two-handed flavors. They pack more punch than other weapons, but are slower.
  • Badass Longcoat: Many armors make you look like you're wearing a trenchcoat. They come in all flavors for warriors, spellcasters and gunslingers.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The Arkovian Oligarchs sought to steal Uroboruuk's secret to immortality. After being tortured by them, he ended up giving them a taste of his power...except that while the Arkovians were now immortal, their bodies were not.
  • BFS: There are many different two-handed swords, most of them powerful, but all of them slow to attack.
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: The Aetherials appear to have a few leaders, but are mainly led by the Shaper of Flesh, while the Cult of Ch'thon is trying to summon the Loghorrean into Cairn, who would lead them to victory. While the Loghorrean is fought at the end of the original campaign, the Shaper of Flesh is only mentioned a few times, although it ultimately appears as a boss in Ashes of Malmouth.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: In addition to the bog-standard giant spiders, we have Diptermians, which resemble giant earwig/mantis hybrids, and Bloodwings, which are huge wasps. The swamps around Burwatch also have huge mosquitoes.
  • Big Good: Inquisitor Creed, leader of the Black Legion and the man most invested in uniting the remnants of humanity to fight back against the Aetherials and Chthonians.
  • Bittersweet Ending: At the end of the main campaign quests, any Aetherial plans to take over the remaining human refuges are averted and the Chthonian offensive is effectively halted. However, much of the world remains a mess, with previously major population centers still in ruins and teeming with Aetherials, undead and surviving members of the Cult of Ch'thon. Black Legion leadership is also crippled with the loss of Ulgrim to the Chthonian void during the battle with the Loghorrean. The expanded main campaign in Ashes of Malmouth then deconstructs this, as it revealed that the Aetherials had used this period to rebuild their own forces, allowing them to launch a shock attack on Devil's Crossing from an area far north of the Burrwitch Estates shortly after the Loghorrean's defeat, killing several Mauve Shirts before they were repulsed.
  • Black and Grey Morality:
    • The conflict between the Kymon's Chosen and the Order of Death's Vigil. On the one hand, the Chosen present themselves as a Knight in Shining Armor faction and are dedicated to ridding Cairn of the corruption brought by the Aetherials and the Chthonians, but they are also fanatical Knight Templars who firmly believe that anything even resembling corruption must be purged in fire, and their faith is ultimately revealed to stem from a gigantic lie. The Order, on the other hand, is a decidedly amoral cabal of necromancers, but they are just as dedicated to stopping the Aetherials and Chthonians, and several characters in-game note that their research and advancement in their craft could very well turn the tide in humanity's favor. Forgotten Gods complicates this further by having the majority of Kymon's Chosen become Korvaak's near-mindless followers, though a small pocket of them managed to escape this fate and desperately seek to redeem their order of Kymon's betrayal.
    • According to Korinia, the Aetherials invasion of Cairn is the work of a small rebellious faction. She believes that the invasion will cease if the other Aetherials learn of the Grim Dawn. While Korinia defends humanity against her own kind, she's unwilling to cast the Aetherials as absolute evil. She thinks they still deserve bodies of their own and view their exile in the Aether as an unjust punishment by the Old Gods.
    • The conflict between the Witch Gods and Korvaak in Forgotten Gods. While Korvaak is undeniably the Big Bad of the expansion and has apocalyptic intentions for Cairn, the Witch Gods are by no means saints themselves. Human Sacrifice, torture, backstabbings, and delving into dark arts even the Order of Death's Vigil would find suspect are all expected of those who seek the Witch Gods' favor, and yet they still manage to come off better than Korvaak.
  • The Blacksmith: There are many blacksmiths in the game and throughout the game's difficulty, although only one will work at Devil's Crossing depending on who you choose. There is also Horrus, The Cursed Smith found in the Necropolis, and he is capable of converting some rare ingredients in other rare ingredients. Then there is also Etram Fald, The Celestial Smith, capable of combining rare crafting materials into a random legendary, but only on Elite difficulty and up with a character greater than Level 58.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Groble Behemoths have two blades, each one strapped to their arms.
  • Body Horror: Anyone possessed by an Aetherial for an extended period of time begins to exhibit this. The most commonly seen symptoms are green crystals jutting out of the possessed.
  • Body of Bodies: The Aetherial Amalgamation boss, which is a heap of corpses fused together and so heavily corrupted by the aetherial inhabiting it that it's got their Power Crystals growing out of it.
  • Bonus Boss: Plenty, given that there are many side areas not required to progress the main story in Grim Dawn, as well as all of the Faction Nemesis bosses. Notable examples are Ravager, who is usually impossible to beat by the time you first encounter him, and Lokarr, an end boss of a secret quest chain, who's even more difficult to defeat.
  • Bonus Level: Plenty as well.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The worst offenders are Aetherial Abominations and Flesh Hulks. Aetherial Abominations are non-boss versions of the Amalgamation, but the HP they have by no means reflects this. Flesh Hulks are the largest Aetherial Corruptions and it shows—these behemoths have some of the highest HP and resists of any enemy in the game and can take more punishment than most heroes and some bosses. The same can be said about Aetherial Titans from the expansion.
  • Boss Rush: The Crucible in its later waves throws multiple heroes and bosses at you; some waves are only bosses. Wave 150 in particular is brutal, spawning two Nemesis bosses.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Your crossbows, pistols and rifles never run out of projectiles. The same goes for the Demolitionist's explosives.
  • Boyish Short Hair: All female PCs have short hair and are all action girls.
  • Breath Weapon:
    • Hellhounds are capable of breathing fire. They also cause Chaos damage.
    • The Rotting Emberguard is an Aetherial Corruption that can breathe fire.
    • The Mask of Infernal Truth has Infernal Breath as a granted skill.
  • Broken Bridge: A few, but as long as you have the proper amounts of scrap and iron, they can be repaired.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: The roguelike dungeons: the Steps of Torment, the Bastion of Chaos, Port Valbury, and the Ancient Grove. Pass a certain level of the dungeon and you can no longer escape with your personal rift. You must kill waves of monsters rated above your level to reach the final exit. By the time you're strong enough to tackle these dungeons, they'll be crawling with more hero monsters. Sometimes you'll even face more than one hero simultaneously.
  • Burn the Witch!:
    • In the opening cinematic, Devil's Crossing people hanged you because you're a Taken. However, the Aetherial possessing you fled your body just as you died. Captain Bourbon saved you from the noose because he now sees you as a human being. The local executioner Jarvis still wants you hanged, even after all the heroic deeds you've accomplished during playing. After you beat the game, he'll grudgingly thank you for saving the world.
    • Rallia is accused of being a Taken by a crazed mob who want to burn her on a stake. You can save her or let her burn. If you save her, she reveals she's not a Taken, but a Warlock. She also reveals some interesting things regarding your former Taken status. Get far enough into the expanded main campaign added in Ashes of Malmouth and it is revealed that she had found her way to Ugdenbog and joined the Coven; speaking to her there gives you a free reputation boost with them.
    • The Black Legion wants you to kill Anasteria because she's an Aetherial witch, but are prevented because of Creed's strict orders. So Captain Reave asks you to do it for them.
    • The flavour text for the Occultists "Bloody Pox" spell notes that it usually sees them burnt at the stake for casting it willy-nilly.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Some powers drain life points in exchange for damage, such as the Sacrifice relic and the Hungering Void celestial power.
  • Chef of Iron: Ulgrim, a man you find out in Mud Row between the aforementioned area, the Moldering Fields and Burrwitch Village proper. When speaking to the player character, they note that it had been months since the fall of Burrwitch, yet wonder how he had survived so long where he was at. Ulgrim simply answers that he had fortified himself on the island you find him on, and killed anything that came too close. You can choose to invite him to join you at Devil's Crossing, where he will then serve as a cook and allow you to have a bowl of soup once per game to restore your constitution.
    • He's actually First Blade Ulgrim, the single most dangerous human on the planet...with the possible exception of the Taken.
  • Checkpoint Starvation:
    • Riftgates, which serve as this, are quite sparse on the overworld, especially in areas up north and west of Homestead, and resuming the game respawns most monsters entirely. If you make it just short of the next riftgate before quitting (or crashing), have fun tearing your way through that section of the overworld again next time!
  • Chekhov's Gun: Doing the sidequest Daila's Diary and reading the attached lore note, you will see a mention of a sword called Stormheart that she uses to duel with her brother in her story. This sword is an assured drop in Ultimate and is one of the items needed to access the secret level, although Daila denies owning the blade if you bring it back to her. Presumably since the secret level and the lore notes surrounding it prove that Dravis was a real person, he too, must have a similar weapon. And indeed the weapon makes an appearance in the Ashes of Malmouth expansion as an Ultimate Difficulty quest reward. The sword's name is Blazeheart.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Cronley's Gang was turning into this. Some notes scattered throughout their hideout hint that when Darius Cronley saw just how strong the Aetherials were and felt that Cairn was lost forever, he decided to join forces with the invading Aetherials, rather than become another eventual victim.
  • Color-Coded Item Tiers
    • White: Normal, basic item tier. Monster infrequents of this type have very minimal stats on them.
    • Yellow: Magical, usually a prefix and a suffix, these can have 1 or 2 properties per affix. Monster Infrequents have slightly improved statistics.
    • Green: Rare items. Much like magic items, Rares can also have a prefix and a suffix. Also rare items can roll a yellow affix as well if both affixes are not of rare tier. Monster Infrequents at this tier are the most powerful for their level requirement; a perfectly rolled Monster Infrequent can even outdo a legendary tier item.
    • Blue: Epic items, these items always carry the same properties with the only variation being what values the stats roll, unless crafted by a blacksmith, which then adds the smith bonus on to the item. There are also epic sets which provide boosts when multiple pieces are worn together.
      • Empowered and Mythical Epics are higher level, stronger versions of the base epic item. Aside from having higher stat values on the properties it had before, they also include new properties.
    • Purple: Legendary items, the highest equippable tier of item in the game, much like epics their stats are predetermined by the item itself and usually possess the highest stat values in the game outside of perfectly rolled Double Rare Monster Infrequents. These items often carry unique properties or skills that can alter your characters skills or how they play.
      • Mythical Legendary items are even stronger versions of legendaries that have the capability to alter player skills when they are equipped. These changes can range from altering the damage types of specific skills, adding on new damage to skills, and increasing summon counts for pets.
  • Comically Small Bribe: Played with. One of Cronley's lackeys is bullying villagers into gathering scrap for him. When you confront him, he'll ask 2500 iron bits to leave them alone. Considering that scraps are found everywhere and are worth less than nothing, most players will rather not pay the bribe and bring him junk instead. And should a player pay the bribe, 2500 iron bits isn't too hard to find either.
  • Constructed World: The world of Cairn is set in a fictional Victorian era with Dark Fantasy elements. It also has some Lovecraftian elements, Horror and Western mixed into it.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Bosses are highly resistant to life reduction attacks. Even the official website's manual says so.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Walking close to lava has no lethal effects on you. Walking on lava surfaces on the other hand...
  • Cooldown: Potion use and most skills have them, although skill upgrades and some magic items can lessen the duration.
  • Cool Mask: Aside from helms, hats, crowns and hoods, masks are also available. Some of them are really cool looking and grant special abilities. One in particular makes you look like Darth Revan.
  • Counter Attack: There are many skills and items that grant the retaliation mechanic. The counter can be physical or magical.
  • Crate Expectations: Not Just for Pun either; there are barrels and crates aplenty to smash for loot.
  • Critical Annoyance: When you're low on hit points, you'll hear your heart pounding faster.
  • Critical Hit: Your critical attack starts doing 1.1x damage. As you increase your offensive skill, you can go up farther.
  • Curse Escape Clause: Killing the Arcovian Oligarchs as part of a quest will, eventually, break the curse over the old empire.
  • Cut-and-Paste Environments: True for the Early Access period where areas had very little to make them unique. This has all but vanished with the finished game, with each "Act" having its own unique feel.

    D-L 
  • Damage-Increasing Debuff: Several. From Masteries, Devotions, and items.
    • The Occultist has Curse of Frailty and its modifier Vulnerability, which reduces physical and bleed, while Vulnerability reduces elemental, acid and vitality resistances.
    • The Nightblade has Night's Chill, the modifier to Veil of Shadow. It reduces cold, acid and pierce resistances.
    • The Shaman has Devouring Swarm which reduces bleed and vitality resistances.
    • The Soldier has Break Morale, the modifier to War Cry. Unlike the the above debuffs, the physical resistance reduction on Break Morale is a flat point based reduction as opposed to the percentage based reductions of the other skills.
    • The Demolitionist has Agonizing Flames, a modifier to Blackwater Cocktail, much like Break Morale it is a flat point based reduction to all resistances as opposed to just one element. There is also Thermite Mine and the Modifier Hellfire Mine, the former reducing fire and lightning resistances, and the latter chaos resistance.
    • The Arcanist has Olexra's Flash Freeze and its modifier Absolute Zero, reducing Fire and Physical resistances respectively while enemies are frozen. The Calidor's Tempest modifier Inferno reduces physical resistance in the same vein as Break Morale as well.
    • The Eldritch Fire celestial power reduce resistances to Fire and Chaos.
    • Another celestial power is the Arcane Bomb which reduce resistance to Lightning and Aether.
  • Damage Over Time: Nearly all types of damage have a DOT version:
    • Physical (excluding piercing): Internal trauma.
    • Fire: Burn.
    • Cold: Frostburn.
    • Lightning: Electrocute.
    • Acid: Poison.
    • Vitality: Vitality decay.
    • Bleeding: It's damage over time itself.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Activating the Hungering Void Celestial Power can fall into this as at max rank it can drain a staggering 248 hit points per second, for one of the most potent buffs in the game. Best to have some health regenerating skills and/or life leach to counteract the drain.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to Crate's previous creation, Titan Quest, Grim Dawn is far bleaker.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Order of Death's Vigil, if you decide to ally with them, or if you're playing as a Necromancer or Occultist.
    • Inquisitor Creed dabbled in occultism as well.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: When you die, you're revived back in town, unless you play a hardcore character. You get an XP penalty loss which can be recovered if you click on your grave marker.
  • Death World: Between Aetherial zombies and mutants, all manner of hostile wildlife, ghosts and skeletons, a vicious gang of bandits, abominations from the void, and a group of necromancers or Knight Templar whose Modus Operandi is primarily Kill It with Fire, and in some areas the ground itself, there's many a thing that would see you dead.
  • Deity of Human Origin: Most gods the player character can commune with, such as Oleron, Ulzuin, and the three witch gods, and a few others such as Uroboruuk, are known to have been human once before ascending to godhood. Others, such as Ch'thon, might just be too old to know for sure.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: Some enemies will explode when killed, such as the Burning Dead and the Harbingers.
  • Degraded Boss: Nearly all bosses will come back as regular enemies, except for Act bosses.
  • Dem Bones: Various skeleton enemies ranging from warriors, archers, knights, priests, revenants to warlocks. They are some of the most dangerous monsters in the game because of their abilities and huge numbers.
  • Demonic Possession: Aetherial possession to be exact. This happens to your player character before the start of the game, but the Aetherial possessing you left your body before you could be hung at the gallows. Also seen with some enemies in act three.
    • To elaborate further, the Aetherials can only possess the dead, and humans with a sufficiently weak will. Usually the latter means "malicious soul", as with Krieg, Aldritch, and Marcell, but that's not always the case, as seen with the Taken (Allostria remarks that possessing you was pretty uncomfortable) and Korinia (the Aetherial who targeted her was specifically after a kindred spirit—which worked out better for it than anticipated). This seems to apply to trolls, briarthorns and manticores as well.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Done time and again by the player character through the course of the game.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: You can pick a fight with the Avatar of Mogdrogen by choosing the right dialogue options, but even the game will tell you how much of a stupid idea that is. The Avatar isn't bluffing at all when he warns you he can crush you like an insect, and even a full level character will struggle against the normal difficult version of him. And even if you manage to defeat him, you have killed just the physical manifestation of Mogdrogen, not the actual god (that is immensely more powerful).
  • Doomed Hometown: Subverted. Devil's Crossing is intact when you start the game. Once you reach the expansion however, it comes under attack, some NPC die and damage is visible in the prison.
  • Downer Beginning: When you start the game, the world is in great turmoil. Civilization no longer exists in Erulan. Arkovia, one of the largest cities west of Cairn, has collapsed due to infighting and fell magic; every other major town or settlement has been destroyed by creatures from beyond. The Aetherials and the Chthonians are the dominant forces and are hunting down any survivors for assimilation or blood. Bandits and beasts are taking advantage of the chaos to pick on what's left. Your starting town has little defense, food is low and everyone hates your guts. No pressure.
  • Driven to Suicide: A desperate man wants to kill his family and himself because the Grim Dawn has destroyed their home and he feels that the situation is hopeless. You can talk him out of it and invite them all to Devil's Crossing.
  • Dual Wielding The Nightblade Mastery gets this as a passive skill. Ranged weapons can get in on this as well with a specific set or relic item
  • Dungeon Shop: You'll find a shopkeeper in each of the rogue dungeons. While you can buy from them, they will not accept any goods you sell them.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Archivist Thelon is such a case. Making an appearance in The Crucible well before being put in the main game.
  • Eldritch Abomination Pretty much anything that comes out of the Void qualifies. On the player's end however, the Occultist class can summon them, and there is an item that grants a skill that lets you summon a creature of the void as well. There is also The Herald of the Flame, an amalgamation of Aether crystal, stones, flesh, skulls, bones, and scythe tipped tendrils. The final boss of the game qualifies in spades, being a near indescribable horror of eyes, mouths and tentacles.
  • Eldritch Location: The Cthonians' realm is completely sunless with building ruins and lots of obsidian formations. Going deeper into their portals lead you to hellish landscapes with seas of blood, piles of corpses, bone structures, reddish crystals and chaotic energies.
    • The Ugdenbog from the expansion is this as well.
  • Elemental Powers: The Arcanist's specialty.
  • Elite Mooks: The Aetherial Vanguard in Ashes of Malmouth are an entire faction of these; the mightiest and strongest of the Aetherials, handcrafted by the Shaper of Flesh.
  • The Empire: The Erulan Empire, or rather what's left of it, where the game takes place.
  • Enemy Civil War: The one saving grace about the Aetherials and the Cthonians is that they hate each other almost as much as they hate you.
  • Empty Room Until the Trap: The game very fond of this. It is not uncommon to come across a single chest in an empty room that will trigger the release of monsters. The worse of them are found in the rogue dungeons. Monsters will not only spawn when you step inside, but the doors behind you will shut themselves. To top it all, monsters will spawn in multiple waves, along with more than one hero monster.
  • Enemy Mine: Act 4 reveals that the Black Legion has an alliance with an Aetherial Witch who has turned against her own kind for her own reasons. Notably, most of the Legion are not happy about this alliance, and actively try to get rid of her without drawing the ire of the Big Good, whose sworn to protect her.
  • Everything Breaks: Some objects such as walls, furniture and barrels can be destroyed.
  • Eyeless Face: The Chthonian Devourers. No visible faces and nothing but sharp teeth.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Averted entirely, since anyone can use pistols and rifles.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: The game mention different gods in Cairn. Empyrion, Ulzuin, Menhir, Mogdrogen, Dreeg, Bysmiel and Solael are the most frequent entries. There's also mention of the Primordial gods and that's not even counting the Arkovian gods that will be introduced in the expansion.
  • Far East: The main setting for Forgotten Gods.
  • Free Rotating Camera: Unlike its predecessor, this game has a "Rotation And Zoom" feature.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: The Soldier, the Arcanist and the Nightblade. Somewhere in between you have the Demolitionist, the Shaman, the Occultist, the Inquisitor, Necromancer and the Oathkeeper. With the dualclassing nature of the game, this can blur all the classes completely.
  • Fighting Your Friend: When you finally find Ulgrim in Ashes of Malmouth, his time in the Void has driven him half-mad, and you have to literally beat the sense back into him. However, it is possible to avoid the fight with the right dialogue choices.
  • Final Death: Playing with a hardcore character. If you die, your character is deleted.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning and poison.
  • Flash Step: Shadow Strike does this causing your character to disappear and quickly rush to your target dealing heavy damage and stunning them. There are also monster versions of this, primarily Alkamos' Spectral Strike, and Haunted Nobles also use shadow strike.
  • Flipping the Bird: There is an Epic quality scepter, really a skeletal arm, that is shown doing this called the Finger of Gar'Dalvur, complete with Flavor Text "The fallen Gar'Dalvur had only one thing to say to his executioners"
  • Flunky Boss: It's very rare that you face a boss alone. Nearly all of them will fight with mooks at their side.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Blitz, which speeds you to your chosen target (and up to 2 other adjacent foes) and knocks them to the ground for a decent amount of damage.
  • Foreshadowing: Speaking to Ulgrim at Devil's Crossing yields many stories from him, one of which is about the potential origins of one of the types of enemies you come across, the Slith. As it turns out the Erulan Empire wanted a force capable of fighting in the swamps of the region and charged some Arcanists with the task of creating such a thing, and eventually some escaped and became the problem they are now.
  • Functional Magic: Theurgy, for the most part. Demolitionists channel the power of Ulzuin, God of Fire and Thunder when they're not using completely mundane toys. Occultists channel the powers of the Witch Gods, a coven of Arcanists who ascended to godhood. Shamans channel the powers of a myriad of nature spirits. Speaking of Arcanists, they follow Rule Magic, and one of their skills mentions Conservation of Energy by name, implying that secular magic is not only possible but follows the laws of physics somehow. Inquisitors use Device Magic, utilizing several Magitek weapons in place of spells they've learned themselves.
  • From Bad to Worse: As if the Grim Dawn wasn't bad enough with the Aetherials possessing everyone, the Cthonians make their entry and started to slaughter all humans.
    • According to the Avatar of Mogdrogen and Anasteria, the Grim Dawn is only the beginning of mankind's suffering. The worse is yet to come.
  • Fungus Humongous: Some underground areas are populated with large blue-glowing mushrooms.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: The Demolitionist is an all-in-one Mad Scientist, Turret Master and Combat Engineer. With a touch of fire magic and divine miracles.
  • Gambit Pileup: Many factions have their own plans for the world of Cairn:
    • The Aetherials invaded Cairn, terraformed it to suit their needs, possessed the living and the dead, although they claim "they merely retook possession of their world from the humans". In contrast, they call the invasion the "Glorious Dawn".
    • The Chthonians want to kill all the humans in their blood rituals to revive the dead god Ch'thon.
    • Kymon's Chosen want to free humanity from the Aetherials, the Chthonians and the Order of Death's Vigil with no compromise. Kymon revealed to you that he actually deceived his followers. His blessing do not come from the light god Empyron, but the primordial god Korvaak who has his own agenda. Kymon done so out of necessity to save mankind and admitted it may be for the worse in the long run.
    • Anasteria, the Aetherial Witch, is helping the Black Legion defeat the Aetherials and the Chthonians at great risk to herself. No one knows why and she's silent regarding her motives. She only reveals her reasons after completing "The Outcast's Revenge" sidequest. She truly is an Aetherial, but defected because she has grown fond of humans and thinks they don't deserve suffering. Whether she's telling the truth or this a ruse remain to be seen.
    • The Witch Gods Dreeg, Bysmiel and Solael have grown silent to their followers and are plotting their next move, whatever that may be, all the while scheming against each other.
    • Dravis wants to ascend to godhood with his necromantic powers.
    • The people in Devil's Crossing, Homestead, the Black Legion, the Ugdenbog Coven, the Malmouth Resistance and the Player Character want to save what's left of the world from the horrors of the invaders.
  • Game Mod: Like Titan Quest, the developers have built it to be moddable.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: You can't join Kymon's Chosen if you picked Necromancer as one of your masteries.
    • Equipping the Oathbreaker set as an Oathkeeper will actually incur a damage pentalty on two of the Oathkeepers skills, specifically -10% damage modified to Presence of Virtue on the Oathbreaker and another -10% on Divine Mandate on Oathbreaker's Guard.
  • Ghost Butler: Some bosses will lock the gates/portcullis behind you when you enter their lair.
  • Glass Cannon: The Arcanist class very much qualifies as one. They specialize in lots of powerful attack spells and possess few defensive/protective spells. The same can be said about the Inquisitor mastery.
  • Golem: The Skeleton Golem from the Undead faction. It has nasty abilities such as Bone Prison (traps you in place) and various summon spells to call forth skeletons/undead, finally it has an obscene amount of HP and ridiculous damage output. Enjoy!
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Rashalga the Mad Queen. She's a secret boss and has the nasty habit of leeching her lost health back from you, making it a chore to fight her.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
  • Goshdang It To Heck: "Son of a Slith" is a rather popular curse in Cairn
  • Gradual Regeneration: The constitution mechanic and various skills and equipment.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Shaper of Flesh, a mysterious figure heavily implied to be the leader of the Aetherial forces in Cairn. While several Aetherial documents found in game allude to him, he is never encountered by the player. Ashes of Malmouth seems poised to subvert this, however, as the Shaper is apparently the Big Bad of the expansion.
  • Grid Inventory: Your inventory space is limited in grid-like fashion, although you gain extra bags on your journey.
  • Grim Up North: The last section of the game takes place in a region called the Asterkarn Mountains, a region with snow capped peaks. The last section is in the farthest accessible part of the map and is a city sized graveyard where the final boss fight takes place. Can't get any grimmer than that.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Fleshwarped Butchers have a small chance of dropping one of their arms upon being killed, which can then be used as a weapon. Dermapteran Reavers/Sentinels/Viziers can also drop their slicers on death.
  • Guide Dang It!: If you want to access the Ultimate difficulty Secret Level, you'll need to find some scattered notes and a lot of luck.
  • Guilt-Based Gaming: The aftermaths of the "Savior" and "Survivors" sidequests in Ashes of Malmouth relentlessly guilt you for how things ended up, but considering how you literally had no other options then what happened in them, it rings more than a little hollow.
  • Guns Akimbo: Perfectly possible, though it does require some special gear unless you're an Inquisitor who take the Gun Expertise skill.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Oh so averted. The Demolitionist mastery uses them to murderous effect. Once fully upgraded, a Demolitionist can shoot exploding incendiary electrical fragmentation rounds boosted with the Power of the Void. The carnage is quite spectacular.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The Slith are half-human, half-snake creatures.
  • Harder Than Hard: The Ultimate difficulty. Your resistances are reduced and mobs are brutally resilient and destructive. Play it Hardcore for extra challenge.
  • Healing Factor: Many items and skills grant flat HP regeneration, and many epic items and a few rare Affixes grant a percentage boost to any flat HP regen you have. With proper gearing, you can reach a point where you can simply ignore all but the strongest of blows against your character.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Anasteria admitted she didn't tell you the whole truth. She really is an Aetherial and infiltrated humans ages ago with the intent of invading Cairn. Over time however, she has become fond of humans and now wishes to protect them. Time will tell either or not she can be trusted.
    • "Clarity of Valor", a lore note found in the Tomb of the Watchers, tells the story of a chthonian cultist who has a Heel Realization after seeing the tombs and monuments of all the heroes of the past who gave their life fighting the monstrosities he ended serving. Filled with shame for the atrocities he committed in the name of the Cult of Ch'thon, he decides to turn against them and give his life causing them as much damage as possible.
  • Hell Hound: The Occultist mastery has a skill that lets you summon one.
  • Hell on Earth: While not exactly demons, the Aetherials invade Cairn, terraformed it and turning it into a toxic wasteland.
  • Heroic Second Wind: The skill Menhir's Will in the Soldier mastery tree restores a large portion of your health and grants health regeneration for a short period of time when you are reduced below 30% of your maximum HP. A similar skill exists on the Epic Set Item Guardsman's Spaulders. Both can potentially stack, bringing you from death's door to near full health in an instant.
  • Hopeless War: Humanity lost the war the moment the Aetherials entered Cairn, with the damage inflicted by the Cult of Ch'thon being icing on the cake. Captain Bourbon outright says that the human survivors can only hope to be a resistance against the invaders. The ends of the vanilla game and Ashes of Malmouth see the Taken give humanity a fighting chance by taking out the main strongholds of the invaders in Necropolis and Malmouth.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Sentinel, guardian of the Sanctum of the Three. While human in form he is classified as an eldritch being.
  • Humans Are Special: In the Aetherials' eyes, we humans are special. The Aetherials do not have physical bodies and are forever exiled in the Aether. While weak, humans make perfect hosts which motivate them to invade Cairn. Anasteria reveals that she has taken a human host for so very long, that she now understands and enjoys humans more than her own kind. This is what motivates her to switch sides.
  • Humans Are Survivors: While humans are weak and quarrelsome among themselves, they can hold their own against beasts, monsters, giant bugs, Undead, the Aethrials and the Chthonians.
  • An Ice Person: The Nightblade mastery has cold damage attached to several of their skills.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels:
    • Normal. Available from the start.
    • Veteran Available from the start.
    • Elite. Unlocked after completing either Normal or Veteran.
    • Ultimate. Unlocked after completing Elite.
  • I'm a Humanitarian:
  • Impossible Hourglass Figure: The new Loading Screen for the Expansion Pack has a female PC with impossible sexy curves. Not bad for someone who's been eating off scrapes for months.
  • Impossible Item Drop: Since the game was inspired by Diablo II, this was to be expected.
    • And slightly averted as well, at least in regards to humanoid foes. If you see a foe with a special looking item on his/her/its person, when they die you are assured that item as a drop. However, they also gain the stats of said item, which makes foes holding Epic and Legendary items particularly dangerous.
  • Improvised Weapon: The basic scrapmetal weapons are definitely this, looking cobbled together with whatever someone could find. Also as noted above in Grievous Harm With a Body, you can also pick up the limbs of certain enemies and use them as weapons
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Played straight as they are found just about anywhere.
  • Infant Immortality: Thoroughly averted. Children are most definitely not immune to the various horrors unleashed by the Grim Dawn, and if you fail to convince a man not to burn his wife and daughter alive to "end their suffering" (and you probably will fail the first time), they will burn onscreen, complete with burnt corpses.
  • In the Hood: Hoods can be worn as headgear. They are usually favored by Nightblades, but anyone can wear them.
  • Item Crafting: Once you get the service of a blacksmith, they'll craft items for you, including unique items. You also have an inventor who can break down existing gear into components. The game offers an insane number of components to craft and ways to improve your equipment. Relics can only be crafted with a blacksmith, assuming you can find the blueprints.
  • Jerkass Gods: Averted with Lokarr, Master of the Crucible. Though you are in his domain at his behest, he does not keep you there if you wish to leave. He also rewards you well for surviving the waves of the Crucible.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Two children from the noble class are picking on a little girl from the slums by taunting her. They say her mother is dead and got reshaped into a monster by the Aetherials. Thad can be explained by just venting his anger, but Ginny is definitely a classist and sadist, as she enjoyed watching commoners fall to their deaths from Malmouth's walls.
  • Kill All Humans: The ultimate goal of the Ch'thonians.
  • Killed Off for Real: Sahdina, the spirit guide from Devil's Crossing, is killed early in the expansion during the Aetherials' attack. The same goes for Rook, the gatekeeper, Kerrick, the salvage dealer and Harmond, the brooding quest giver. Their graves appear not far from the training dummies.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Demonlitionist mastery has several skills that allow you to do fire damage to a target.
    • In Particular a Demolitionist with the Infernal Knight set and Herald of Blazing Ends, Herald of the Apocalypse, and the Annihilation relic will become the very embodiment of this and Death from Above and with the proper investment into Thermite Mines and Agonizing Flames and activating the Soleal's Witchblade and Viper Constellations you can achieve a 90% resist reduction to fire and 30 or so flat resist reduction(which affects all forms of resistance) from Agonizing Flames even enemies that are normally fire immune will burn to death.
    • The Inquisitor, if specialised in the usage of Flames of Ignaffar, can incinerate hordes of foes.
    • The final star in the Imp constellation adds a chance for aetherfire to erupt at the feet of an enemy you've hit.
  • Kill the Host Body: Subverted; Captain Bourbon has you hanged during the opening cutscene in an attempt to kill the Aetherial possessing you, but then the Aetherial escapes from your body and Bourbon promptly cuts you loose, sparing your life.
  • Kill It with Ice: The Slith have many cold related attacks.
  • The Kingslayer: In one of the notes you've collected, you find that Ulgrim has assassinated the Emperor of Erulan. This was done under the Emperor's order as he was possessed by an Aetherial, and he knew there was no way to save himself.
  • Knight Templar: Kymon's Chosen not only wish to save Cairn from the horrors of the invaders, but also wants to rebuild it into a perfect orderly world where anything that doesn't belong is eradicated.
  • Level Grinding: Grinding through the later levels can be extremely brutal and time consuming, especially since you get only 2 skill points as a reward after level 50.
  • Level-Locked Loot: Like all ARPGs out there, you can't use items if you don't fulfill the proper requirements in attributes and level.
  • Life Drain: Many skills, items properties, celestial powers have this ability. It's not fun when enemies are using it against you, however.
  • The Lost Woods: The Blood Grove, the largest maze-like forest you'll ever encounter in the game. It's also home to monsters, cultists, demons, giant spiders, necromancers, overzealous templars and lots of dense foliage.
  • Luck-Based Mission: In Ashes of Malmouth, whether or not Nicoh Erin agrees to go to the resistance base or turns on you during the "Savior" sidequest is completely random.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Expect a shower of blood from just about anything you kill from a critical hit, can also happen with high damage regular hits as well.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Shields can block a portion of damage, even from magical attacks and regardless of its form (yes, even from a meteor), making them very useful. There's a Cooldown between uses however. The solider has many skills requiring a shield.
    • Shield Bash: You can add item components to shields that allow you to bash in the heads of your enemies with your shield.

    M-Z 
  • Magic Knight: Almost all characters will be this, since the only pure combat mastery is the Soldier and only Occultists and Arcanists are pure casters, but the Shaman and Nightblade win the prize.
    • The Shaman's prefered method of casting lightning spells? Imbue it into a BFS and smash the enemy in the face.
    • Almost everything in the Nightblade mastery outside the dual-wield passive line uses magic, but all of that magic is focused on magically augmented swordplay or magical blades.
  • Make Them Rot: The terraforming activities of the Aetherial Terraformers, Obelisks, Herald of the Flame and Herald of Destruction are responsible for much of the lands around Homestead and Port Valbury being turned into vast fields of aetherfire that heavily damage any non-Aetherial being passing through them.
  • Mana Burn: The Energy Burn Stat deals damage to energy by however much percent is listed.
  • Mass Monster Slaughter Sidequest: Almost all of the sidequests require you to slay tons of monsters. In the bounties' case, the killings raise your reputation score so it's difficult to skip them entirely. In roguelike dungeons, the door locks behind you so the mass slaughter is necessary to reach the exit alive.
  • Meaningful Name: Cairn is both the name of Grim Dawn's world and a word for a type of grave site.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Depending on the area, it's possible to see multiple factions at war on the battlefield. The vicinity of Fort Haron is a good place with either the Aetherials, the Chthonians, Beasts, the Order of Death's Vigil and Kymon's Chosen attacking one and another.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Garrund brags about being the best soldier around. Then, you found out he was just a tavern brawler and not a very good one.
  • The Minion Master: With Epics, Celestial Powers, a Monster Infrequent, the Savagery relic and an item obtainable from the Loyalist Upgrade, you can summon a Ch'thonian Harbinger, a Rift Scourge, a spectral warrior, sentient energy spheres, a mini army of skeletons, a Storm Hound, a Revenant and a Will O' Wisp, to name a few. Combine these with any of the sub-examples below for lots of fun:
    • The Occultist can summon Hellhounds and a raven familiar (up to two of each with the right equipment).
    • The Shaman can call upon a Briarthorn (permanent), Wind Devils (temporary) and a Primal Spirit (temporary as well).
    • Available in the Ashes of Malmouth expansion, the Necromancer can summon a Blight Fiend, a temporary Wraith and up to three Skeletons (per cast; total amount can be at least double of that).
  • Molotov Cocktail: One of the Demolitionist's skill is the "Blackwater Cocktail" which act exactly like the real-world counterpart despite the different name. Also used by Cronley's goons against you.
  • Monster Progenitor: Sliths have been causing havoc for decades. The authorities have exterminated many, but they kept breeding and coming. For good reasons, because Ellena the First Slith remained hidden inside a secret and abandoned lab where she was first mutated. She kept breeding and spreading her children during all those years.
  • Mook Maker: The Aetherials are masters of this, spawning waves of zombies at you. Many Hero monsters also have the ability to summon lesser monsters after you.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Several monsters. Special mention goes to the Chthonian Devourers. The beast has a large maw full of long sharp teeth and no visible face.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The Chthonian Obsidian Defilers have four spike-like arms. While they hit hard, they walk very slow. They also have a ranged attack, Chaos Overload which they use while closing in on you.
  • The Multiverse: Anasteria reveals that there are countless other worlds besides Cairn. After a great conflict with the gods, some may have been destroyed while others still remain. So far we've seen the Void where the Chthonians dwell, the Aether where the Aetherials came from and the Eldritch realm where the three Witch gods reside.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Several, Bolvar the Bloodbinder, Zaria the Carver, Salazar, The Blade of Ch'thon, Fabius "The Unseen" Gonzar, The Iron Maiden. But the one who probably tops all of them is Alkamos, The Lord Executioner, who most certainly lives up to his title.
  • Nice Hat: Various headgear you come across... with bony fingers and various macabre ornaments attached to them.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • You receive a sidequest to avenge a dying man who was betrayed by his business partner. When you confront the business partner, he defended his actions by saying the other guy tried to rape his daughter. If you don't believe him, you have to kill the business partner and later his daughter. Congratulations, you've killed innocent people and lost a potential merchant in Homestead.
    • In one sidequest, you have the option of freeing a fishing village by killing an extortionist. The inhabitants urge you not to because he has unseen friends watching the place. If you do, the extortionist's comrades will burn down the village and kill its people. You do get a new quest to rescue two young survivors however.
    • There's a little lost girl trapped in a Burial Tomb. She's actually a demon in disguise. There are several clues in the area that warn you of her. If you choose to help her, she kills a group Rovers nearby.
  • No Hero Discount: The fact that you are trying to save humanity from extinction doesn't prevent the surviving merchants from charging you full price to buy their weapons and armor. Even more infuriating are the faction vendors, who have the best gear, but will not sell it to you unless you raise your faction reputation high enough first. The mere fact that you are fighting to save the faction while they sit around the base doing nothing apparently isn't a problem to them.
  • Non-Indicative Name: A Nightblade/Occultist is called a Witch Hunter. Not someone who hunts witches, but a witch who hunts people.
  • No OSHA Compliance: As you travel, you'll notice that many places are in ruins and yet, people still use them despite the danger of collapses, structure integrity or open-wide pits. Dynamites are sometimes found carelessly laying around near heat sources such fire pits or furnaces. This happens because civilization has collapsed and security experts are no longer around. Of course, that be Victorian era of Cairn, it's also possible that safety regulations never existed in the first place. However, it is justified with the Aetherials and the Grobles as they have absolutely no knowledge of how to operate these facilities.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: The journal notes for a "A trip south" tell the player a tale remarkably similar to the actual case of the Donner party, in which a caravan of migrants are stuck in an area as a result of a brutally cold winter and are forced to resort to cannibalism.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: Choosing to help out Barrowholm in return for the Coven's stolen fetish instead of slaughtering them seems like a good idea at the time... but then you discover that they're a bunch of insane cannibals. Slightly downplayed in that they are much more cordial than their savage brethren who roam Ugdenbog (which their leader actually points out to you), and you can mitigate their more heinous plans by warning the renegade witch that they're onto her instead of killing her.
  • Oddly Shaped Sword: Some of the more powerful swords are bizarrely shaped. The tip of the Beronath, Reforged looks like a pincer and the Deathmarked Claw look like a glorified can-opener.
  • One Size Fits All: The PC can wear any piece of equipment, those belonged to various sized-humans to different monsters. Troll-sized shoulders armor? No problem, fit like a glove!
  • One-Winged Angel: Warden Krieg and the Dermapteran Queen are this, turning into a more powerful and monstrous form when you first defeat them.
    • The Shaper of Flesh has three phases - the first one is him being immobile and spawning new monsters, during the second phase he turns into a four-legged monstrosity, and after losing his legs, he becomes capable of flight in the third phase.
  • Only Six Faces: Everyone looks like each other as many face models are reused.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: Ghouls are undead who love two things: Zerg Rush and bleeding damage.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Comes in two flavors.
    • Zombies are corpses that have been risen by the Aetherials and infused with Aether. While not as strong as living Taken, they're great for overwhelming the Aetherials' enemies with sheer numbers.
    • Skeletons and Ghosts are the remnants of the ancient Arkovian Empire, cursed by the legendary necromancer Urubooruk so that they can never die of old age, even as their living bodies rot, wither and turn to dust.
  • Peek-a-Bangs: If you look at the constellation of Murmur, the goddess of rumors, part of her face is hidden by her hair.
  • Permanently Missable Content: The game has factions. Joining one will make you enemy of others. Some decisions you make on quests will have different outcomes and yield different results, making the rewards and outcomes on the paths you didn't choose permanently missable.
  • Physical God: Completing the Rhowari Legacy quest nets you a meeting with the Avatar of Mogdrogen who happens to be quite the Deadpan Snarker.
  • Poison Is Corrosive: Some of the skills from the Occultist.
  • Post Modern Magick: you are equally likely to find a magical gun with a legendary backstory (for example, Oathbreaker, a cursed flintlock pistol that occasionally fires a magic missile when paired with the Oathbreaker's Shield) as you are an equivalent magic sword. It also has the Demolitionist class, whose skills involve enchanted Molotov Cocktails and hand grenades.
  • Posthumous Character: The various documents you find around the game contain details of quite a few people who ultimately met a tragic fate. Most notable is the journals containing the horrific journey of a migrant family in the "The trip south" pages.
  • Power Glows: Skills and special abilities will brightly glow to show that they are in effect when used. Augments attached to your equipment will make them glow permanently.
  • The Power of Hate: Having a bad reputation with Anasteria (for you know, killing her) will make her a dangerous opponent. The more you kill her, the more she hates you and and the more powerful she'll become next time you meet her.
  • Power of the Void: Chaos element damage serves as this being tied in with the Void itself.
  • Ragdoll Physics: Anything killed that doesn't just explode into tiny bits will ragdoll to varying degrees, from simple slumping after Cherry Tapping to some spectacular ragdolling after getting Punched Across the Room.
  • Rainbow Pimp Gear: Played straight with the vanilla version of the game, but averted with the upcoming expansion. Illusionists will be able to alter your gear's appearance to anything you desire, while still retaining the items' attributes and special powers.
  • Randomly Drops: Obligatory in any action RPG.
    • Rare Random Drop: A Subset of items referred to as Monster Infrequents, items with their own set of magical properties before magical or rare Prefixes or Suffixes, and have a rather low chance to drop.
  • Reality Ensues: The "Savior" and "Survivors" sidequests late in Ashes of Malmouth show grimly realistic aspects of what an apocalypse like the Grim Dawn would entail, the former hammering home that some people have become so paranoid and aggressive that they see everyone as a threat and cannot be reasoned with (No matter what you say to him, Nicoh Erin will ultimately attack you, forcing you to kill him in self defense in front of the horrified children he had taken in/kidnapped), the latter by emphasizing that you can't save everyone (even with your Rift powers, you can't save Vivienne's husband due to his wounds.).
    • When you ask the Coven if they'll do their part to save the world. They say they'll do nothing and simply try to survive, as they are either too young or too old to fight against Eldritch Abomination by themselves.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Captain Bourbon, the leader of Devil's Crossing, has you hanged for being a Taken, a human possessed by an Aetherial. When the Aetherial leaves your body before you die, Captain Bourbon saves you since he now sees you as a human being. He then makes a deal with you: help them defend and rebuild their place in exchange for a new home and eventually, acceptance from the other survivors.
  • Redemption Rejection: If you spare Direni in the "A Cultist in our Midst" sidequest, he makes good on his promise to leave the Cthonians...and goes off to join Cronley's Gang, becoming one of the bosses in Cronley's lair.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Elsa claims that Mornay cares for her because she reminds him of his dead wife.
  • La Résistance: Given that the Aetherials have won the war, what's left of humanity has become this. Ashes of Malmouth introduces a faction explicitly called the Malmouth Resistance, who are holed up in the sewers of the city fighting a doomed battle to retake the city. Until the Taken shows up, that is.
  • Scavenger World: With the Grim Dawn, the world has fallen into ruin. Everyone is gathering whatever scrap they can find to fabricate items. The Rovers aren't too bothered, since they've been doing this for centuries.
  • Scenery Dissonance: The Astral Fields has some of the most beautiful landscape in the entire game. Lust exotic forests filled with bright colors and a cosmic field in the background. Too bad it's also home to eldritch horrors that mercilessly attack you.
  • Screen Shake: Whenever an explosion occur, the screen will shake violently. The most notable example of this would be when a demolitionists mortar trap looses "The Big One", which explodes with the force of a small nuke with the screen shake to match.
  • Secret Level: There are plenty in this game. One requires a late-game Legendary sword that can only be dropped from a specific urn inside the Tomb of Korvaak when clicked. And that's not all, you need three particular notes that drop only in the highest difficulty, not to mention the amulet you started the game with.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Playing the game with a single class. This will allow you to place more skill points in one class, but at the cost of missing out on investing attribute points into another class. You will have to more carefully consider which way to distribute your attribute points. You can of course use skills and devotion points that lower equipment requirements, but overall, you'll be much weaker than a multi-class character.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: Different races of monsters will attack one another if they come in each others combat range. This can be useful to, say, slay a Hero monster that is giving you a hard time.
  • Set Bonus: Epic (blue) and Legendary items (purple).
  • Shock and Awe: The demoltionist skills Stun Jacks and Skyfire Grenado. This also a part of the Shaman's repertoire.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sickly Green Glow: Aether in high concentration produces this. there are areas so choked with Aether that it turns your whole screen green and will heavily damage your character every second you stand within an area of concentrated Aether.
  • Signature Sound Effect: The sound of the Slith's dying is the same one as the Ichthian from Titan Quest. Considering some people from Crate Entertainment were from Iron Lore, that's not surprising.
  • Sinister Scythe: Alkamos' Scythe(a Spectral Type Monster Infrequent unique to Alkamos) and the Scythe of Tenebris play this straight.
    • Patch 1.0.0.8 added in a legendary version of Alkamos' Scythe, called Soulrend.
  • Skill Point Reset: The spirit guide can reset your skills and devotion points for a price. There's also potions in the expansion pack that can fulfill the same role.
  • Spider Swarm: Not only do giant spiders attack in large groups, they also have specialized melee and ranged units.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The Temple of the Eldritch Sun has a beautiful piano piece that is very serene and peaceful. This contrast with the place which is in utter ruins and bloody combat take place between you and horrible monsters.
  • Spread Shot: The Falcon Swoop celestial power. It fires two divine falcons that pierce anything in its path and deal bleeding damage. Fully upgraded, the falcons go from two to six and its damage greatly increases.
  • Squishy Wizard: The Arcanist offers little health per point invested into the mastery bar and relies on powerful destructive spells to survive. If you dare to play it single-class through the Ultimate Difficulty, you'll be frail as a flickered candle flame inside a hurricane.
  • Standard Status Effects: The game has many status effects that can be resisted through skills or items: stun, sleep, skill disruption, frozen, slow, petrified, fumble, taunted and trapped. In addition to the effects listed, monsters are subjected to others that the player is immune to: knockdown, converted, fear and confused.
  • Starter Equipment: Starting the game with a fresh new character will give a plank shield and a puny blade. You also get a bag of salt that serve as your amulet. You might want to hang on to this one for later use.
  • Stationary Boss:
    • The Herald of Flame is a huge tower of flesh and crystal that sprouts tentacles and blasts of aetherfire. It doesn't move when you fight it. Until you bring it down to half health and it rips itself free of the ground, at least.
    • The Final Boss, the Voice of Ch'Thon, is an immobile mass of flesh with Extra Eyes, many tentacles and a huge maw filled with sharp teeth.
  • Status Buff
  • Status-Buff Dispel: The Arcanist's Nullification skill and the celestial power Cleansing Waters can dispel enemies' buffs. The former can also remove negative buffs cast on you.
  • Stuff Blowing Up The demoltionist skills Canister Bomb, Grenado, and Mortar Trap. Actually this is the Demolitionist in a nutshell, nearly all of this mastery's skills involve exploding.
    • The same can be said about Arcanist's Devastation and several other skills.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: The Arcanist devotion utilizes scientific understanding of magical forces.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Gain the "nemesis" status with a faction and they'll send super-monsters after you. They'll never stop hunting you down, no matter where you run.
    • To specify, a nemesis boss has no leash range and will pursue you across the entire area it spawns in and the only riftgating away to another map, or into another area that has to load in will allow you to escape. That said because they can chase you so far it is possible to lead a nemesis boss back to NPC allies from other factions like The Black Legion, Order of Death's Vigil, or Kymon's Chosen to have them assist you in bringing it down. Also of note, but very rare to happen is being able to pull a Let's You and Him Fight between another nemesis.
  • Swamps Are Evil: The swamps are filled with evil monsters out to get you.
  • Sword Lines: Your sword and all melee weapons for that matter, leaves a colored trail when you swing it. The color depends on its enchantment.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Certain sidequests can be completed without fighting by selecting the right dialogue choices.
    • One quest in Act 2 involves a small village being extorted by Cronley's gang. Your seemingly only choices are either delivering the village's extortion payment, which does nothing but ensure the extortion continues, or kill the Gang representative, which will have negative consequences later on. There is a hidden third option where you can bribe the extortionist into convincing the Gang to leave the town alone.
    • Another Act 2 quest involves having to save a woman and her child from being murdered by her insane husband. If you pick the right dialogue options, you can convince the husband to stand down, restoring his sanity and allowing him and his family to start over in Devil's Crossing.
  • Take Your Time: There's no rush to finish the quests. As such, you can take all the time you want.
  • Technically Living Zombie: the Bloody Pox skills upgrades Fevered Rage and Black Death cause the enemy to decay and blindly attack anything nearby.
  • There Was a Door: Sometimes, the PC can break down a wall rather than passing through a door.
  • This Cannot Be!: Allostria utter this when you kill her.
  • Title Drop Grim Dawn is also used in story by many characters to refer to the event that made the world of Cairn what it is today. This is a matter of perspective, as the aetherials instead refer to it as the "Glorious Dawn" in several lore notes.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • The people of New Harbour. They stubbornly refuse to leave their dilapidated houses on the ground that this is their ancestral home. Even the Grim Dawn, monsters roaming the countryside, fish supply depleting and falling victim of racketing will not dissuade them.
    • In Act 7, one follower of Bysmiel excitingly research the Maw of Enaht you found in the desert. He decide to descend inside the maw to further his studies. Unsurprisingly, we never hear from him ever again.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Barrowholm is a fairly nice place in this post-apocalyptic world, all things considered. The altar on which they sacrifice strangers to their dark god is hidden a bit further north.
  • Tragic Monster: Ellena, the First Slith. She was once a normal little girl and was turned into a snake monster by her own father. It's hard not feel sorry for her when she attacks and you have to slay her.
  • The Turret Master: The Shaman's totems act like turrets. They can shoot lightning or cause vitality damage to monsters who come too close to them.
  • Turtle Power: The Turtle Shell celestial power which allow you to absorb physical damage when fully upgraded. This one is a lifesaver.
  • Undead: In this game, skeletons and ghosts are undead, while zombies are Aetherials, possessed humans whether they were alive or not.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Averted for the most part with What You See Is What You Get. Anything equipped on enemies will drop on their death. Played straight with the human Nemesis bosses who have their own sets of gear that cannot drop or be used by players.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Town folk are highly suspicious of the PC because he is a "Taken", but they don't seem to worry about his/her traveling companions either they be a hellhound, a storm raven, a briarthorn, undead or worse.
  • Vendor Trash: The normal non-magical items, although their resale value is so laughable, they're not even worth the trouble.
  • Wardens Are Evil: Warden Krieg, going by the backstory. People tell you he was a nasty piece of work even before he knew of the aetherials, and while in the midst of possession another aetherial has to call him out for letting his host's wants start corroding his motives. All the prisoner torture and most of the gruesome experimentation you see weren't the aetherial spirit's idea; that was all Krieg.
  • Water Source Tampering: Similar to Diablo, you receive a sidequest where you must clear a lair of monsters that have tainted the town's water supply.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Salazar, Blade of Ct'thon. One of the first instances of a boss set to five levels above the player's own level. In particular he's one of the first enemies to regularly throw around spells that leave a lingering damaging effect on the ground, which deals high damage and has a Life Drain effect. Melee-focused players will quickly learn not to simply stand around and trade blows, unlike THE potential first boss with Level Scaling, which more reliant characters can best through simple attrition.
  • We ARE Struggling Together:
    • Kymon's Chosen and the Order of Death's Vigil are archenemies and will attack one another, even if their common goal is to rid Cairn of the Aetherials and the Chthonians.
    • Many among the Black Legion disagree with their leader Creed to allow the Outcast to aid them. Despite her valuable knowledge, resources and their common goal to free Cairn, they would rather see her dead. To prove a point, the only reliable way to receive reputation points from the Black Legion is to kill her and you lost some reputation whenever you aid her.
    • Another who notes this is Anasteria, who realizes that the humans of Cairn would make for better allies against the forces of the void, rather than using them as vessels, since Aetherials have fought against the Chthonian forces for eons and humans would rather keep their blood inside them, she notes that they share a common enemy and should unite against the powers of the void. Sadly she's the only one so far who feels this way.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: While Kymon's Chosen is a group of fanatical knight templars, its leader, Father Kymon is a different beast. He made a pact with the Primordial god Korvaak and lied to everyone by saying they're receiving blessing from the god of light, Empyron (who may be dead). To protect his secrets, he burned down an entire village and forced its inhabitants into the wild (you find the remains of the village in your travels). Kymon may have realized he was way over his head, because he entrusted his little secret to you once you've gained enough reputation with his organization.
  • Wendigo: Wendigos are widely present in the game. The village of Barrowholm is led by one who pass up as a human and is serving a powerful wendigo called the Ravager.
  • Whatever Mancy: The Pyromancer, which is a combo between Demolitionist and Occultist masteries. Geomancers are also seen among tribes of Grobles. Voidmancer and Plaguemancer can also be seen on some gear.
  • Womb Level: In the expansion, an underground area and adjoining areas more than qualify as this. One portion of this dungeon is literally a womb that can be destroyed.
  • World of Badass: In a departure from how other games treat NPC allies your allied faction members that spawn in areas are NOT useless. Under the right conditions and with some aid from the player buffing them they can and will kill a Nemesis boss without any direct damage from the player.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: Gold has no value, iron bits do. This is because the world is torn apart and iron is more important for humanity's survival. A note found on a half-sunk wagon details the thoughts of an opportunistic thief which robbed an ignored jewelry shop and ended up trying to buy help from what's implied to be grobles or trolls.
  • Wreathed in Flames The Demolitionist skill Vindictive Flame does this, increasing your health regeneration and defensive ability, and when you are struck by an enemy attack a ring of fire explodes outward from you damaging and potentially stunning anything foolish enough to be up close and personal.
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside: A revelation made in the expansion is that time flows much slower in the Aether than in Cairn.
  • You ALL Look Familiar: Many NPC and monsters share the same 3D models. Some monsters are even reskinned models from Titan Quest.
  • Zerg Rush: Let's face it, everything in this game will swarm you from all sides.

Time well spent.

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