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The Bestiary

A collaborative effort between Snoflake, Sir Alan, Sauron and Mytical

Editor's Note: EB stands for Encyclopedia Britannica, the main reference for this article.

Behemoth, in the Old Testament, a powerful grass-eating animal whose "bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like bars of iron" (Job 40:18). Among various Jewish legends, one relates that the righteous will witness a spectacular battle between Behemoth and Leviathan in the messianic era and later feats up on their flesh. Some sources identify Behemoth, who dwells in the marsh and is not frightened by the turbulent river Jordan, as a hippopotamus and Leviathan as a crocodile, whale, or snake. -EB-

Berserker, norwegian BERSERK, Old Norse BESERKR ("bearskin"), in premedieval and medieval Norse and Germanic history and folklore, a member of unruly warrior gangs that worshipped Odin, the supreme Norse deity, and attached themselves to royal and noble courts as bodyguards and shock troops. 'The berserkers' savagery in battle and their animal-skin attire contributed to the development of the werewolf legend in Europe. It is unclear weather the berserker warriors wore bear and wolf skins into battle or fought naked; tapestries and other sources represent both possibilities. The berserkers were in the habit of raping and murdering at will in their host communities (thus going "berserk"), and indeed in the Norse sagas they were often portrayed as villains. Berserkers are known to have formed the household guard of Norway's king Harald 1 Fairhair (reigned 877-930). -EB-

Centaur, Greek KENTAUROS, in Greek mythology, a race of creatures, part horse and part man, dwelling in the mountains of Thessaly and Arcadia. Traditionally they were the offspring of Ixion, king of the neighbouring Laphits, and were best known for their fight (centauromachy) with the Laphits, which resulted from their attempt to carry off the bride of Pirithous, son and successor of Ixion. They lost the battle and were driven from Mt. Pelion. In later Greek times they were often represented drawing the chariot of the wine god Dionysus or bound and ridden by Eros, the god of love, in allusion to their drunken and amorous habits. Their general character was that of wild, lawless, and inhospitable beings, the slaves of their animal passions. They may be best explained as the creation of a folktale in which wild inhabitants of the mountains and savage spirits of the forests were combined in half-human, half-animal form. In early art they were portrayed as human beings in front, with the body and hindlegs of a horse attached to the back; later, they were men only as far as the waist. They fought using rough branches of trees as weapons. -EB-

Cyclops (Greek: Round eye), in Greek legend and literature, any of several one-eyed giants to whom they were ascribed a variety of histories and deeds. In Homer the Cyclopes were cannibals, living a rude pastoral life in a distant land (traditionally Sicily), and the Odyssey contains a well-known episode in which Odysseus escapes death by blinding Cyclops. In Hesiod the Cyclopes were three sons of Uranus and Gaea-Arges, Brontes, and Steropes (Bright, Thunderer, Lightener)- who forged the thunderbolts of Zeus. Later authors made them the workmen of Hephaestus and said that Apollo killed them for making the thunderbolt that slew Asclepius. The walls of several ancient cities (s.g., Tiryns) of Mycenaean architecture were sometimes said to have been built by Cyclopes. Hence in modern archaeology the term cyclopean is applied to walling of which the stones are not squared. -EB-

Devil (from Greek diabolos, "slanderer," or "accuser"), the spirit or power of evil. Though sometimes used for minor demonic spirits, the word devil generally refers to the prince of evil spirits and as such takes various forms in the religions of the world. In the monotheistic Western religions, the devil is viewed as a fallen angel who in pride has tried to usurp the position of the one and only God. In Judaism, and later Christianity, the devil was know as Satan. In the Old Testament, Satan is viewed as the prosecutor of Yahweh's court, as in Job, chapters 1 and 2, but he is not regarded as adversary of God. In post biblical Judaism and Christianity, however, Satan became known as the prince of devils, and assumed various names: Beelzebub (the Lord of Flies) in Matt. 12:24-27, often cited as Beelzebul (Lord of Dung), and Lucifer (the fallen angel of Light). In Christian theology the devil's main task is that of tempting man to reject the way of life and redemption and to accept the way of death and destruction. The leader of the angels who have fallen from heaven because of pride, Satan has as his main adversary in Christian thought, legend, and iconography the archangel Michael, leader of God's heavenly hosts. Islamic theology is rich in references to Iblis, the personal name of the devil, who is also known as ash-Shaytan (The Demon) and 'aduw Allah (Enemy of God). In the Qur'an, Iblis first appears in the story of the creation of the world. He alone of the angels refuses God's order to bow before Adam, the first man. He is then cursed by God; his punishment is to come on the Day of Judgement, but until then he is empowered to tempt the unfaithful (but not true believers). Iblis next appears as the tempter of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In Islamic theology Iblis is described as an angel, a jinn (spiritual creature capable of good or ! evil), or an angel who was the leader of the jinni. The question of his sins of pride disobedience are especially important in the Sufi traditions, in which he is sometimes presented as a true monotheist who would bow only to God. The devil was also an important figure in the syncretic religions. In Gnosticism the devil was often called the Demiurge (the Creator) and in Manichaeism the Prince of Darkness, as well as other names. The devil, as the great power of evil, has been much depicted in religious and secular literature and art. At various intervals in history, devil worship becomes significant for certain individuals dissatisfied with existing religious institutions, and exorcism (the casting out of demons) is often consequently reinstated by these institutions. -EB-

Dwarf, see the separate article here.

Effreet, also spelled as: Ifrit, Ifreet and Afrit. Efreets are a kind of Jinn from arabic mythology. In common mythology, they are Jinns that are made of fire. They consider themselves superior to other races as they "came first". Wizards have found ways to control theme, but they still show an ironic and malicious attitude and try to subvert their master's orders every time they can. Efreet often appear as individuals of superhuman beauty and strength. But in fight, they will burn their enemies to bones.

Evil Eye, glance believed to have the ability to cause injury to those on whom br particularly susceptible. Belief in the evil eye is ancient and ubiquitous: it occurred in ancient Greece and Rome; is found in Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindi traditions and in folk cultures and preliterate societies; and has persisted throughout the world into modern times. In many traditions strangers, malformed individuals, and old women are most often accused of casting the evil eye. The power of evil eye is sometimes held to be involuntary; a Slavic folktale, for example, relates the story of a father afflicted with the evil eye who blinded him self in order to avoid injuring his own children. More frequently, however, malice toward and envy of prosperity and beauty are thought to be the cause. Thus, in medieval Europe-and in popular superstition today-it was considered unlucky to be praised or have one's possessions praised, so that some qualifying phrase such as "as Good will" or "God bless it" was commonly used. Measures taken to ward off the evil eye may vary among cultures. For example, some authorities suggest that the purpose of ritual cross-dressing -a practice that has been noted in the marriage ceremonies of parts of India- is to avert the evil eye. Asian children sometimes have their faces blackened, especially near the eyes, for protection. Among some Asian and African peoples the evil eye is particularly dreaded while eating and drinking, because the soul is thought to be more vulnerable when the mouth is open; thus, the ingestion of substances is either a solitary activity or takes place only with the immediate family and behind closed doors. Other means of protection, common to many traditions, include the wearing of sacred texts, amulets, charms and talismans (which may also be hung up on animals for their protection), certain gestures, and the display of ritual drawings or objects. -EB-

Gargoyle, in architecture, waterspout designed to drain water from the parapet gutter. Originally the term referred only to the carved lions of classic cornices or to terra-cotta spouts, such as those found frequently in Pompeii. The word later became restricted primarily to the grotesque, carved spouts of the Middle Ages. It is frequently, though incorrectly, applied to other grotesque beasts, such as the chimeres (chimeras) that decorate the parapets of Notre-Dame at Paris. The gargoyle of the developed Gothic period is usually a grotesque bird or beast sitting on its haunches on the back of a cornice molding and projected forward for several feet in order to throw the water far from the building. -EB-

Ghost, soul or spectre of a dead person, usually believed to inhabit the netherworld and to be capable of returning in some form to the world of the living. According to descriptions or depictions provided by believers a ghost may appear as a living being or as nebulous likeness of the deceased and, occasionally, in other forms. Belief in ghosts is based on the ancient notion that a human spirit is separable from the body and may maintain its existence after the body's death. In many societies funeral rituals are believed to prevent the ghost from haunting the living. A place that is haunted is thought to be associated by the haunting spirit with some strong emotion of the past-remorse, fear, or the terror of a violent death. Individuals who are haunted are believed to be responsible for, or associated with, the ghosts unhappy past experience (compare possession, spirit), The traditional visual manifestations of haunting including ghostly apparitions, the displacement of objects, or the appearance of strange lights; auditory signs include disembodied laughter and screams, footsteps, ringing bells, and the spontaneous emanation of sounds from musical instruments. Tales of specific ghosts are till common in living folklore worldwide. The telling of elaborate, grisly ghost stories, often in a setting enhanced by darkness or thunderstorm, is a popular pastime in many groups, particularly among children. See also: ghoul; kobold; poltergeist. -EB-

Gremlins are little mischievous spirits of tools and machinery. Every house has a gremlin that makes chaos in it (losing your things, accidents, etc.). But gremlins weren't such always. Originally, they were friendly to the mankind and helped theme with many inventions, but after humans claimed all credit for theme, this insult soured the gremlin attitude towards mankind. Their name came after World War I.

Gryphon/Griffin. The Griffin is a legendary creature with the head, back and wings of a eagle (they also had ears on their head), the body of a lion or some other big cat (tiger, leopard…) and sometimes with the tail of a scorpion or serpent. The long nails of Griffin claws are as big as oxen horns and can be used to make cups and their ribs can be used to make bows.

Its origin lies somewhere in the Middle East where it is found in the paintings and sculptures of the ancient Babylonians, Assyrians and Persians. Through the research of Greek and Roman mythology we can see that griffin just love gold and jewels and guard gold mines with great hostility. Griffins are also able to carry humans, horses and even elephants! The griffins' natural enemies are horses but sometimes male griffins mate with female horses and so produce hippogryphs (creature with the body of a horse and head, back and wings of a eagle). The griffins had mates for life and if one of theme died, the other would leave alone. The griffin was said to build a nest, like an eagle. Instead of eggs, it lays agates.



Gryphus significat sapientiam jungendam fortitudini,
sed sapientiam debere praeire, fortitudinem sequi

- The griffin represents wisdom joined to fortitude,
but wisdom should lead, and fortitude follow. ~ Alexander Nisbet

Harpy, in Greco-Roman classical mythology, a fabulous creature, probably a wind spirit. The presence of harpies as tomb figures, however, makes it possible that they were also conceived of as ghosts. In Homer's Odyssey they were winds that carried people away. Elsewhere, they were sometimes connected with the powers of the underworld. Homer mentions one Harpy, Podarge (Swiftfoot), who seems to have been of equine nature, because, according to the Iliad, she became by the west wind and the dam of Achilles' horses. Hesiod mentions two, Aello and Okypete (Stormswift and Swiftwing), daughters of Thaumas and of Electra, the daughter of Oceanus. These early Harpies were in no way disgusting. Later, however, especially in the legend of Jason and the Argonauts, they were represented as birds with the faces of women, horribly foul and loathsome. They were sent to the Thracian king Phin! eus for his ill-treatment of his children, but Calais and Zetes, the sons of Boreas, finally delivered him. Virgil imitated the episode in the Aeneid; he called the chief Harpy Celaeno (Dark). -EB-

Hydra, in Greek legend, the offspring of Typhon and Echidna, a gigantic monster with nine heads (the number varies), the centre one immortal. The monster's haunt was the marshes of Lerna near Argos. The destruction of Hydre was one of the 12 Labours of Heracles, which he accomplished with the assistance of Iolaus. As one head was cut off, two grew in its place; therefore, they finally burned out the roots with firebrands and at last severed the immortal head from the body. The arrows dipped by Heracles in the poisonous blood or gall inflicted fatal wounds. -EB-

In pre-islamic mytology: Jinn, are firely spirits of vanished ancient peoples who acted during the night and disappeared with first light or dawn. They can make themselves invisible and change shapes into animals. They were responsible for diseases and manias. Types of Jinn include: Ghul (night shade, which can change shape), Sila (which can't change shape) and Efreet. Sometimes they appeared as beautiful women who visited men by night to copulate with theme by night until the men were exhausted from drawing energy from theme.

In Islam: Jiin are beings with free will, made by smokeless fire by God. Jinn have communities like humans. They eat, marry, sleep, die, etc. They are invisible to humans but they can see humans. Sometimes they accidentally come into view of humans. They can be either good or bad. They eat bones, and their animals' droppings. Jinn have abilities to change shapes into animals (mostly snakes) or humans. Jinn also can possess humans (which human own will or forcefully), have more power then they and live much longer then humans. Some people can control theme magically binding theme to objects such as oil lamp.

Lava and Magma Dragon - Dragons are creatures of the elements. Some say that before their were the dragons we know, that they exsisted in a more elemental state. The mighty red dragon, which laired in volcanos or similarly hot areas, was often associated with the element of fire. Their ancestors were believed to come from the volcanos which they made their lairs. Composed of the pure essence of magma and lava they, like fire itself, consumed everything in their path. Fire however, serves a dual perpose and so do the dragons. The scorch and burn the things arround them so that new may be formed. Thus they are not evil, but are designed to help cleanse and renew the earth.

Mermaid, masculine MERMAN, species of legendary being, half human, half fish, that inhabits the sea and some inland waters. Similar divine or semidivine beings appear in ancient mythologies (e.g., the Chaldean sea god Ea, or Oannes). In European folklore, mermaids (sometimes called sirens) and mermen were natural being who, like fairies, had magical and prophetic powers. They loved music and often sang. Though very long-lived, they were mortal and had no souls. In appearance they were human above the waist, fish below. Numerous folktales record marriages between mermaids (who might assume human form) and men. In most, the man steals the mermaids cap or belt, her comb or mirror. While the objects are hidden she lives with him; if she finds them returns at once to the sea. In some variants the marriage lasts while certain agreed conditions are fulfilled and ends when they are broken.

Though sometimes kindly, mermaids and mermen were usually dangerous to man. Their gifts brought misfortune; and, if offended, the beings caused floods or other disasters. To see one on a voyage was an omen of shipwreck. They sometimes lured mortals to death by drowning, as did the Lorelei of the Rhine, or enticed young people to live with them underwater, as did the mermaid whose image is carved on a bench in church of Zennor, Cornwall, England. Aquatic mammals, such as the dugong and manatee, that suckle their young in human fashion above water are considered by some to underlie these legends. -EB-

Minotaur, GREEK minotauros (Minos' Bull), in Greek mythology a fabulous monster of Crete, half man and half bull. It was the offspring of Pasiphae, the wife of Minos (q.v.), and a snow-white bull sent to Minos by the god Poseidon for sacrifice. Minos, instead of sacrificing it, kept it alive; Poseidon as a punishment made Pasiphae fall in love with it. Her chils by the bull was shut up in the Labyrinth created for Minos by Daedalus. A son of Minos, Androgeos, was later killed by the Athenians; to avenge his death, Minos demanded that seven Athenian youths and seven maidens should be sent every ninth year (or, according to another version every year) to be devoured by the minotaur. When the third time of sacrifice came, the Athenian hero Theseus volunteered to go, and with the help of Ariadne, daughter of Minos and Pasiphae, he killed the monster. -EB-

Monk, man who separates himself from society and lives either alone (a hermit or anchorite) or in an organized community in order to devote himself full time to religious life. -EB-

Naga (sanskrit: "serpent": feminine nagi), in Hindu and Buddhist mythology, a class of semidivine beings, half human and half serpentine. They are considered to be a strong handsome race who can assume either human or wholly serpentine form, potentially dangerous, but in some ways superior to men. They live in an underground kingdom called Naga-loka, or Patala-loka, which is filled with resplendent palaces beautifully ornamented with precious gems. Brahma is said to have relegated the nagas to the nether regions when they became to populous on earth and to have commanded them to bite only the truly evil or those destined ti die prematurely. They are also associated with waters-rivers, lakes seas and wells-and are generally regarded as guardians of treasure. Three notable nagas are Sesa (or Anata), who in the Hindu myth of creation is said to support Vishnu-Narayana as he lies on the cosmic ocean and on whom the created world rests; Vasuki, who was used as a churning rope to churn the cosmic ocean of milk; and Taksaka, the tribal chief of the snakes. In modern Hinduism the birth of the serpents i celebrated on Naga-pancami in the month of Sravana (July-August). The nagis, according to tradition, are serpent princesses of striking beauty, and the dynasties of Manipur in northeastern India, the Pallavas in southern India, and the ruling family of Funan (ancient Indochina) are among those that traced their origin to the union of a human and a nagi. In Buddhism, nagas are often represented as door guardians or, as in Tibet, as minor deities. The snake king Mucalinda who sheltered the Buddha from rain for seven days while he was deep in meditation is beautifully depicted in the 9th-13th century Mon-Khmer Buddhas of Siam and Cambodia. In Jainism, the Tirthankara (Jaina Saviour) Parsvanatha is always shown with a canopy of snake hoods above his head. I! n art, nagas are represented in a fully zoomorphic form, as hooded cobras but with from one to seven or more heads; as human beings with a many-hooded snake canopy over their heads; or as half-human, with the lower part of the body below the navel coiled like a snake and a canopy of hoods over their heads. Often they are shown in postures of adoration looking on as one of the major gods or heroes is shown accomplishing some miraculous feat. -EB-

Nomadism, way of life of people who do not live continually in the same place but move cyclically or periodically. It is distinguished from migration, which is noncyclic and involves a total change og habitat. Nomadism does not imply unrestricted and undirected wandering but focuses on temporary centres whose stability depends on the availability of food supply and the technology for exploiting it. The term nomad covers three general types: nomadic hunters and gatherers, pastoral nomads, and tinker or trader nomads. Although hunting and gathering generally imposes a degree of nomadism on a people, it may range from daily movements, as among some Kalahari Bushmen, to monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual shifts or habitat. In areas where resources are abundant or where there are storage facilities, populations may be more or less stable. Nomadic hunters and gatherers are usually organized into small, isolated bands that move through a delimited territory where they know the water holes, the location of plants and the habits of game. Pastoral nomads, who depend on domesticated livestock, migrate in an established territory to find pasturage for their animals. Most groups have focal sites that they occupy for considerable periods of th year. Pastoralists may depend entirely on heir herds or may also hunt or gather, practice some agriculture, or trade with agricultural peoples for grain and other goods. Some seminomadic groups in Southwest Asia and North Africa cultivate crops between seasonal moves. The patterns of pastoral nomadism are many, often depending on the type of livestock, the topography and the climate. See also transhumance. Some nomadic groups are associated with a larger society but maintain their mobile way of life. These include tinker or trade nomads, who may also make and sell simple products, hunt or hire as out as labourers. The diverse groups loosely termed Gypsies are the best known example of this type of nomadism. Other nomadic peoples practice a limited kind of agriculture, moving periodically from place to place in order to find new areas in which to raise their crops. They often combine agriculture with hunting and gathering. Anthropologists may refer to such groups as horticultural peoples, to distinguish them from settled agricultural peoples. Nomadism has declined in the 20th century for economic and political reasons, including the spread of systematic agriculture, the growth of industry, and the policies of governments that view nomadism as incompatible with modern life. -EB-

Peasantry, subculture of small-scale agricultural producers. The peasant differs form other rural cultivators in being subject to the governance of outside power holders. This integration into a larger society is often considered the criterion for defining a peasantry, although some writers have stressed other features, such as self-sufficient agriculture or small-scale production. In peasant society, ultimate control of the means of production is usually not in the hands of the primary producers. Goods and services, rather than being exchanged directly, are supplied to a centre where they are redistributed. Surpluses tend to be transferred to rulers and other non-farmers. This power relationship is also expressed in the payment of rent in the form of labour, produce, or money. The power is often, though not always, concentrated in an urban centre. The peasant economy genera! lly has a relatively simple technology and a division of labour by age and sex. The unit of production is the family or household, which has many nonproductive concern, such as consumption, rearing of children, and religious an other ceremonial observances. The economic system is not governed solely by prices and profits. A piece of land, for example, is not merely a factor of production but an object of symbolic value as well. Peasant culture has been characterized as the "little tradition" in contrast to the "great tradition" of the centres of civilization. Ideas and artifacts from the great tradition, including religious and beliefs and practices, dress, furnishings, linguistic features, and forms of social organization, filter down to the peasant community and are integrated in the little tradition, usually in a modified or simplified form and after a considerable passage of time. Cultural elements also flow from the little tradition to the city, but to a lesser extent. -EB-

Pegasus is the white horse with, sometimes, golden wings. He was fathered by Poseidon and with Medusa. When Perseus killed Medusa, Pegasus sprang forth from her body. His galloping created the well Hippocrene on the Helicon.

Athene gave Pegasus to Bellerophon. Together, they fought Amazons and killed Chimaera. But when Bellerophon tried to get to Mount Olympus, Zeus sent a gadfly to sting the horse, and it threw Bellerophon off its back. Pegasus went alone to Olympus where he was used by Zeus to carry his thunderbolts. Bellerophon wandered about the Earth for the rest of his life, blind, lame, and shunned by man, until dying of old age. On Olympus, Pegasus found a wife, Euippe (or Ocyrrhoe). They had a child, Celeris. Pegasus was eventually turned into constellation.

Pike, ancient and medieval infantry weapon consisting of a long, metal-pointed spear with a heavy wooden shaft 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 metres) long. Its use among the Swiss foot soldiers in the 14th century contributed to the decline of the feudal knights. The pike disappeared from land warfare with the introduction f the bayonet, though it was retained as a naval boarding weapon through the 19th century. A variety of pike is used by the picador in bullfighting. -EB-

Medusa, in Greek mythology, the most famous of the Gorgons, usually represented as a winged creature having the form of a young woman, with a head of hair consisting of snakes. Medusa was the only one of the Gorgons who was mortal; hence Perseus was able to kill her by cutting off her head. From the blood that spurted from her neck sprang Chrysaor and Pegasus, her two sons by Poseidon. The head, which had the power of turning into stone all who looked upon it, was given to Athena, who placed it in her shield; according to another account, Perseus buried it in the marketplace of Argos. Heracles (Hercules) is said to have obtained a lock of Medusa's hair (which possessed the same powers as the head) from Athena and given it to Sterope, the daughter of Cepheus, as a protection for the town of Tegea against attack; when exposed to view, the lock was supposed to bring on a storm, which put the enemy to flight. -EB-

The Mummy: body embalmed or treated for burial with preservatives after the manner of the ancient Egyptians. The process varied from age to age in Egypt, but it always involved removing the internal organs (though in a late period they were replaced, after treatment), treating the body with resin, and wrapping it in linen bandages. Among the may other peoples who practiced mummification were the Guanches of the Canary Islands; the people living along the Torres strait, between new Guinea and Australia; and the Incas of South America. There was a widespread belief that Egyptian mummies were prepared with bitumen (the word comes from the Arabic word mumiyah, "bitumen"), which was supposed to have medicinal value. Throughout the Middleages "mummy", made by pounding mummified bodies, was a standard product of apothecary shops. In course of time it was forgotten that the virtue of mummy lay in the bitumen, and spurious "mummy" was made from the bodies of felons and suicides. The traffic in mummy continued in Europe until the 18th century. -EB-

Phoenix, in Greek mythology, son of Amyntor, king of Thessalian Hellas. After a violent quarrel Amyntor cursed him with childlessness, and Phoenix escaped to Peleus (King of the Myrmidons in Thessaly), who made him responsible for the upbringing of his son Achilles. Phoenix accompanied the young Achilles to Troy and he was one of the envoys who tried to reconcile him with Agamemnon, chief commander of the Greek forces, after Agamemnon and Achilles had quarreled. In another version of the story, Amyntor blinded his son, whose sight was later restored by Chiron.

phoenix, in ancient Egypt and in classical antiquity, a fabulous bird associated with the worship of the sun. The Egyptian phoenix was said to be as large as an eagle, with brilliant scarlet and gold plumage and a melodious cry. Only one phoenix existed at any time, and it was very long-lived - no ancient authority gave it a life span of less than 500 years. As its end approached, the phoenix fashioned a nest of aromatic boughs and spices, set it on fire, and was consumed in the flames. From the pyre miraculously sprang a new phoenix, which, after embalming its father's ashes in an egg of myrrh, flew with the ashes to Heliopolis ("City of the sun") in Egypt, where it deposited them on the altar in the temple of the Egyptian god of the sun, Re. A variant of the story made the dying phoenix fly to Heliopolis and immolate itself in the altar of fire, from which the young Phoenix then rose.

The bennu, a heron, was traditionally associated with sun worship in Egypt, appearing on monuments as a symbol of the rising sun and of the life after death. But despite the common religious associations, the phoenix as described in literature did not all resemble a heron in appearance, and its home was not in Egypt but nearer the rising sun (normally in Arabia or India, where spices for the nest and egg were plentiful). Probably the phoenix story originated in the Orient and was assimilated to Egyptian sun worship by the priests of Heliopolis. The adoption of the myth to an Egyptian environment helped to bring about the connection between the phoenix and the palm tree (also called phoinix in Greek), which was long associated with sun worship in Egypt. The Egyptians associated the phoenix with immortality, and that symbolism had a widespread appeal in late undying Rome, and it appears on the coinage of the late Roman Empire as a symbol of the Eternal City. It was also widely interpreted as an allegory resurrection and life after death-ideas which also appealed to emergent Christianity. In Islamic mythology the phoenix was identified with the 'anqã' (Persian s~imorgh), a huge mysterious bird (probably a heron) that was originally created by God with all perfections but had thereafter become a plague and was killed. -EB-

Raksha. In modern fantasy, they look like tigers (or some other beast) on two legs and often wear cloth. Their fingernails are poisonous and they feed on human flesh and spoiled food. By ancient Hindu, Raksha are evil spirits who can sometimes be friendly. They often battle the gods and hurt people at night. They are led by Ravana, their king, and are eternal enemies of Vishu. Many Raksha's were wicked human sin their former incarnations. They often disturb sacrifices, desecrate graves, are harassing priests, possess human beings and other evil doings. They are also shapechangers and magicians.. They can shapechange in anything they can imagine, but mostly appear as dogs or birds with fat body, but even like humans.

Thane - A dwarven elder who had a lot of sway on dwarven clans. There was generally 1 thane for each clan, with a High Thane over them. The Thanes would gather to decide things like taxes, trades, and similar things. In times of war they were regarded as generals and usually were very knowledgable and wise. Since dwarves lived a long time, and thanes were also elders, they had seen much in their lives.

Thunderbird, in North American Indian mythology, a powerful spirit in the form of a bird; by its work the earth was watered and vegetation grew. Lightning was believed to flash from its beak, and the beating of its wings was thought to represent the rolling of thunder. It was often portrayed with an extra head on its abdomen. The thunderbird was frequently accompanied by lesser bird spirits, often in the form of eagles or falcons. Although it is best known from North America, evidence of similar figures has been found throughout Africa, Asia and Europe (where it is associated with the woodpecker). -EB-

Thunderbird, a mythical bird believed by American Indians to cause lightning and thunder that is frequently a supernatural eagle conceived as the spirit or god of thunder and rain. b: a figure of a bird with outstretched wings common in aboriginal No. American art. -Websters3rd-

Titans were a race of powerful deities that ruled the world during the so-called Golden Age. Originally, titans numbered twelve and were associated with various concepts such as Ocean or Law. Later, they gave birth to other titans. They were led by the youngest first-generation Titan, Cronus, who overthrow their father Uranus at urgings of their mother Gaia. Titans were overthrown by the Olympic gods led by Zeus in Titanomachy ("War of the Titans"). Many of theme were imprisoned in Tartarus. Some of the better-known titans:

  • Zelus: personification of zeal or emulation. He is the son of Styx and the titan Pallas, brother of Nike, Cratos and bia. He is constant companion of Zeus.
  • Hyperion: son of Uranus and Gaia. He is married to his sister Theia. His children are: Helios, Selene and Eos. His name means: "He who goes before the sun.". He was sometimes thought as sun.
  • Asteria: daughter of titan Coeus and Pheobe. She was abducted by Zeus, but hurled herself into the sea and became the island with the same name.
  • Mnemosyne: she is titan god of memory and the inventor of words, daughter of Uranus and Gaia. She is one of three elder muses. By Zeus, she is the mother of nine younger muses.

Unicorn is a (ussualy white) horse with one horn, billy-goat beard, lion tail and cloven hoofs. Their horn is white is white at the begining, black in the midle and red at tip. and half-meter long. It is told that his horn can be used to neutralize poison and heal wounds so that rulers of India used it to avoid being assasinated. Unicorn can see if woman is a virgin. Unicorns often appeared before virgins that sited naked near the tree. Only virgins are able to tame unicorns. Tough unicorns aren't agresive, they can be dangerous when offended. Thats why hunting unicorns was a challenge. There were two methods of hunting theme. One was to bring a virgin which will bring him into a trap, and other was to angry it and make it strike the tree when it would fall unconcious.

Unicorns can't be found in Greek mythology, but in Greek Natural History, for Greek writers believed that unicorns existed in India. In Bible, it said that God has the power of a unicorn: [Num 23:22 & 24:8]; The warlike fierceness of the unicorn is referred to when Ephraim and Manasseh are described as being like the horns of unicorns. [Deu 33:17]; The terrifying destruction of Idumea is completed when God sends unicorns and wild bulls to attack the people. [Isa 34:8 see also Psa. 92:10 & Psa 22:21]. In medieval times, unicorns were often presented as a sign of Christ. With the rise of humanism, unicorn also acquired positive meaning, including chaste love and faithful marriage. In Scotland, unicorn motif was on the national arms and coins, and in Denmark, the trone was told to be made of unicorn horns. Also, cups and goblets were made of unicorn hornes. Year 1663., a unicorn skeleton was supposedly found at "Unicorn Cave" (translated) in Germany. P.T. Barnum once exhibited a unicorn skeleton that was exposed as a hoax.

Vampire, in popular legend, a bloodsucking creature, supposedly the restless soul of a heretic, criminal, or suicide, that leaves its burial place at night, often in the form of a bat, to drink the blood of humans. It must return to its grave or to a coffin filled with its native earth by daybreak. Its victims become vampires after death. Although the belief is widespread over Asia and Europe, it is primarily a Slavic legend, with reports proliferating in Hungary from 1730 to 1735. Among the various demons of ancient folk tradition, the vampire has enjoyed the most conspicuous and continual literary success in the 20th century, due largely to the popularity of the Gothic novel Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker. Count Dracula, its "undead" villain, became the representative type of vampire. The novel and a popular series of films, which developed from 1931, made vampires lore common currency. Methods for recognizing vampires (they cast no shadow and are not reflected in mirrors) or for warding the off (by displaying a crucifix, or sleeping with a wreath of garlic around the neck) are known to every schoolchild. Vampires can be put to final rest by driving a stake through their hearts or by destroying their daytime hiding places. -EB-

1:a bloodsucking ghost or reanimated body of a dead person believed to come from the grave and wander about by night sucking the blood of persons asleep causing their death 2 a: one who lies by preying mercilessly on others: EXTORTIONER, BLOODSUCKER b: a mercenary unscrupulous woman who seduces, exploits, and ruins her lover: as (1) : a stage character of his kind (2) : an actress playing such roles. -W3rd-


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Map Editor Bugs

The following is a list of the various bugs found in the Heroes of Might and Magic IV editor, compiled by Jeff_G. As you can see, there are not as many as one would expect. If you come across a bug that was missed, please post a description in the forums. Thanks to everyone who submitted bugs or solutions.

Combat Script Problem: When using the Combat Script both the defeated and the Victorious Branches execute regardless of the combat’s outcome. (Version WoW)

Workaround (Suggested by GhostWriter)

That script has always been bugged like that. There's a different ways you can get around it, all of which mean not using the combat branches at all.

Sequence

COMBAT, in the victorious or defeated branches do nothing.

Separate Conditional Statements

IF Total number of creatures PLUS Total number of heroes in this army > 0 THEN (run the player victorious side) (that is the AI lost)

IF Total number of creatures PLUS Total number of heroes in this army = 0 THEN (run the player defeated side) (that is the AI won)

This script works for placed event combats, ambush combats, or on armies without heroes. I have tested this script and it works and it will treat fleeing as an AI victory, so no more cheap wins. If you script an army with a hero then Wimfrits has identified another problem this script does not correct.

Wimfrits: there is one slight problem with this script. Though I do feel it is the best solution, one should realize that a dead player hero counts as 1 hero.

So, if the player (with hero) loses and leaves a tombstone; the 'victorious' script will run.

His workaround:

I know of 1 alternative, but it would have to fit the map to some extent. It requires an additional script part to the 'victorious' script you mentioned. For the example I'll use ghosts:

...

IF [tot # creatures] + [tot # heroes] > 0

--SET variable X to [# ghosts]

--GIVE 1 ghost

--TAKE 1 ghost

--IF [# ghosts] > [variable X]

----execute loss script

--ELSE

----execute victorious script

Bonus Modifiers

Morale and Luck

Problem: Awarding an increase/decrease of morale or luck is unpredictable, and rarely are the increases/decreases what you award. (Version WoW)

Workaround: (By GhostWriter) I've had luck (pun intended) making it work by only increasing or decreasing in +/-5 levels at a time, no more than that. No guarantee it will work for you though. If you want to decrease by 10 try making two -5 scripts in a row. The only thing is you can't display the total amount using the icons in the dialogue, but you can just write it into your text to explain.

Movement

Problem: When using the increase current movement, it does not give the amount you script; it gives just 1% of the amount. (Version WoW)

Workaround: You must script 100 times the amount of the intended increase. So to increase the movement 5, you must place 10 scripts of increase current movement by 50. I suggest you do not use the sub-action block of the display message script. It would only confuse people as to the amount of increase they will actually receive.

Defense

Problem: In heroes patch versions earlier than v3.0 you can't rely on the script for AI heroes: INCREASE DEFENSE, as far as I remember then it increases attack instead.

Solution: Use WoW or patch 3.0 (Rakne Fne)

Experience Levels

Problem: INCREASE EXPERIENCE LEVEL of ... HERO by 10 does not give 10 experience levels, but much less, perhaps only 6-7.

Solution: Give INCREASE EXPERIENCE LEVEL of HERO by 1 and do it 10 times. (Rakne Fne)

Documentation

Problem: (WoW) Perhaps it is not a bug, but an error in the help file documentation. The encountered script is stated as running before combat between enemies, or before the inventory screen when allies or friendly armies meet. Unfortunately this script only runs before combat and not when meeting friends or allies. Also an event that triggers an opponent to change to your color before combat will not prevent the combat. You end up with two armies of the same color fighting and the only real option then is to run with the loss of that hero's army.

Workaround: No easy ones, placed events in front of the army to trigger the color change has been suggested for the one example mentioned.

Artifacts

Problem: Removal of artifacts via scripts does not run when battle is between two AI players, including neutral.

Workaround: (Suggested by GhostWriter)

In the hero’s triggered scripts create two events a take items “hero’s name” and a give items “hero’s name” Now in the hero’s standard encountered script, a conditional if the opposing player is computer trigger take items “hero’s name”. In the victorious script a conditional if opposing player is computer then trigger give items “hero’s name”. Now if you do not want the human player to get the artifacts this hero is carrying then in the defeated script a conditional if opposing player is human then trigger take items “hero’s name.”

Miscellaneous

Divide

Problem: DIVIDED BY does not work properly.

Solution: There are plenty of other ways to get the right formula.

Solution (suggested by Qubar)

After some experimenting with events, I figured out how the divide function works:

On my first try I divided 100 by 2, the value I got was 2.

On my second try I divided 100 by 1, the result was 1.

At this point I figured out the answer, but I made one more trial just to make sure, so I divided 100 by 4, and the result I got was 4, as I expected.

This is how it works; instead of dividing by the value you want (lets call it X), the game divides by 100/X.

Now I'll tell you how to use the divide function correctly in 2 easy steps:

First; divide 100 by the number you want to divide by.

e.g. if you want to divide by 10, divide 100 by 10= 10 (this is a special case where both values are equal, note this 'cause it will be useful later).

Then use the resultant value instead of the value you want.

However, some times the resultant value will have decimal places, like for example if you want to divide by 8, 100/8=12.5, unfortunately you can't enter fractions in the divide by field, to get over this, first divide the variable you want to divide by 10, then divide it by 125 (i.e. 12.5*10, this in effect will divide the value by 0.8), so the net result will be dividing it by 8.

The more fractions you have, the more the number of times you need to divide by 10.

I hope this isn't too complicated.

Placed Event

Problem: PLACED EVENT right next to a town even with IF PLAYER IS COMPUTER will also work for human player if you retreat from a fight and retreat to the town with the PLACED EVENT (for instance if there are AI boost in that PLACED EVENT).

Solution: Move the PLACED EVENT a little away from the town. (Rakne Fne)

Bombs

Problem: Game crashes if you bomb the same quest that you are currently activating at the same time.

Solution: Use other events to bomb quests. (Rakne Fne)

MOD (Remainder)

Problem: The MOD (REMAINDER) function does not work.

IF Owner = (color) script does not work on dwellings.

Workaround: (suggested by Robenhagen)

I've found a rather complex way to deal with this, but it only works for lvl 2+ dwellings (that isn't owned by another player - ultimately it requires combat to take place). A placed event 2 hexes from the dwelling sets a numeric varaible, measures the experience of the the most powerfull hero in the army. Once he passes the event again (you need some conditional actions to determine what the event should do) after having taken the dwelling, checks to see if the hero's current experience is greater that previously set variable. If it is, the army must have fought to get the dwelling and then the owner-is-certain-color variable.

An alternative (by Rakne Fne)

You could also put a PLACED EVENT right next to the dwelling that triggeres an event on the dwelling to change color to the player who steps on the placed event. But of course, this means, you won't have to fight for getting the dwelling (but you can place creatures in front instead).

Trigger Timed Events

Problem: When triggered timed-events run on a 'crowded' day, it's possible that one of the events will NOT run.

Specifics:

For instance, there are 2 set timed events on day 6 and 2 timed events repeating every day, starting on day 3, which will only run when a certain variable is met.

If this variable is met at the start of day 6, the 4 events should all run on that day. It's possible that one of these will not run.

I encountered this 2 times so far and both times it caused the scenario in question to become unfinishable. (Certain bombing of key sites for progression did not happen)

Workaround: make all events repeating, so that if one doesn't run on day x, it will run again on day x+1. Of course using the 'remove script' option is mandatory.

Scroll Identification

Grythandril posted this on Heroes Community and has come across a major bug.

Problem: Apparently the game cannot identify a scroll or parchment (they act the same) of a particular spell using a conditional action. If you do an "If this army has scroll of bless" for example, the condition will be met if the army has any scroll. There's some weird things going on with giving and taking scrolls as well, but that appears to be directly related to the lack of ability to identify a particular scroll.

Lampskjerm explained: Sometimes the game thinks of a parchment as all parchments, and sometimes not. In one of my maps I have an event that will trigger only if red player has a parchment of death call. If you have a parchment of bless instead, the script will not be triggered. However, the event will trigger if you have a parchement of a random DEATH magic spell.

Workaround: None

Complex Conditionals

Mace the Councillor: I have discovered something that seems to be a bug in the map editor of Heroes IV. It concerns complicated scripts, with multiple layers of Conditional Actions and/or Ask Questions. When I have made a too complicated script and click OK to close the last Event or Quest Hut (or whatever) window, the map editor just shuts down.

I just wanted to warn new mapmakers about making too complicated structures of CAs or AQs and ask if anyone else has encountered this problem.

P.S. I have GS and WoW as well as all available patches, so I know lack of updates is not the cause of this problem I've had.

GhostWriter: It does seem to happen in XP, but in the last year I have not had a single crash, while I used to get them quite often. I don't know what changed in my system. I've done some very heavy scripts, and the key is to break the script down into smaller parts, triggering pieces of it, and use sequences of conditions instead of embedded conditions. You can go on forever with sequences; at least I haven't found a limit.


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Campaigns for Heroes III and IV

Heroes IV Campaigns
Title and Images Maps and Sizes Author Game Version

Megom Chronicles: Memory Crystal 8 (M, M, L, XL, M, M, L, XL). This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. H4 Equilibris
MCMC

The world of Aalondor is finally at peace. After ten years of Rebelllion Wars, the borders are finally delineated. During the war, a small Duchy of Gloath secured its freedom. This land, located between two huge nations – Veneth and Preturia, was mainly inhabited by thieves, conmen and moneylenders. Who would have thought that this small country will change the fate of the whole continent? Especially one man and his actions...
A young thief - Behart Coldfeet – and his three academy mates – are sent on a very important mission of returning the Crystal of Memory from the enemy’s territory. This artifact has a strange influence on the main hero but its purpose is unknown. It may have something in common with four ancient artifacts scattered across the continent. This is the beginning of the end of Aalondor.


The Tale of Young Mudgeon 5 (S, S, M, M, M) - 10 more maps planned. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. H4 Equilibris

The game tells the story of young Mudgeon, who's about to be apprenticed to a sorcerer. One day his life is changed abruptly, when his family and he himself becomes enmeshed in a tangle of plots, treachery and evil plans to destroy all things living. In a race against time, Mudgeon tries to find his family, solve mysteries and fight evil. Eventually he realizes that he is just a small piece of a puzzle with more than a 1.000 pieces. The destiny of the whole world, does not lie on his shoulders, but with the help of his faithful followers, they assume their responsibility for making the world a safer place... For their own sake, of course.


Megom Chronicles: Tales of Souls 9 (L, M, S, M, L, S, S, L, M) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. H4 Winds of War

Megom - half robot, half golem, tries to find his origin and place where he belongs. He find himself on a vast wasteland without memory of his past. Shana Rock, a fierce woman barbarian wants to help him and unite the tribes. But journey of Megom is far longer and he will face lot of troubles and heroes. For example Three Tree Organisation who wants to destroy him, or a necromancer vampire, who seaks for ultimate power. The plot is seen by every side of the confict so that the player can identify with one.


The Astral Romance 4 (M, M, S, L) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. H4 Winds of War

Wanadium - a capital city of Pinetum hasn't reported for a month. To investigate this case, a young leader named Prolixus is sent to the city of Wanadium. There, he sees that the city is subject to one big massacre. It has been invaded by a huge army of undead. A perpetraitor called Schwarzstain has an evil plan to destroy the Pinetum region. At the head of undead armies, Schwarzstein sends a very beautiful girl named Asu, who becomes a part of mysterious intrigue. Nothing is what it seems to be.


Lamentia's Story

Lamentia's Story (German)
6 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. H4 Equilibris

This campaign is the sequel to Dragon's Fate but is standalone. It picks up the story seven years later, and Lamentia is offered the chance of resurrecting her lover, Nathaniel.


Dragon's Fate

Dragon’s Fate (German)
8 (M, M, M, M,
L, L, L, XL)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. H4 Winds of War

Talon arrives in Sequoia for the planned reunion. He quickly learns his former love Vixen is missing. The rest explain she had sent word that she could not make it, but may try and join them later. The remaining five begin to search the area for clues to the general unrest that permeates the land. The group will investigate the emergence of a Coalition between Sorcerers and Necromancers, the disappearance of several races of Dragons and the appearance of several strange new creatures. Are they related to one another or just a coincidence? Talon learns early that he must find and talk to a mysterious individual named Jarvis. The group itself is an odd mixture Talon a half-elf is the leader, Nathaniel an accomplished knight always attempting to prove himself, Lorelei carefree, an accomplished thief and continually in trouble and finally the twins Karth a priest traveling with his sister acting as her body guard and his sister Lamentia a former priestess recently banned from the study of life magic. Over the course of the campaign many battles will be fought and friends will be lost. The player will make choices that will affect the games eventual conclusion. The members of the group will reflect on their past and many will be given choices, some will find love and others will subsequently lose love. The choices you make will influence their fates. (German version translated by Koni)


Sorcerer King 6 (M, S, M, L, L, XL) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. H4 Winds of War

Take a long journey through generations of a bloodline and through the realms and countries of the world. Reconquer the lands that was taken from your ancestors and revenge your family.


Champions 3 (L, L, XL) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. H4 Standard 3.0

"You are chosen from among the city guard to investigate a group of thieves that are causing trouble for the Kingdom. As you progress in your adventure, new challenges arise, and so do your responsabilities. 'Champions...' is an epic story based in a pure RPG styled gameplay. Unlike other RPG maps around, this campaign includes some aspects that differ from common HoMM4 maps, such as quests with many solutions and endings, neutral towns in which to spend your well-earned gold pieces, a sense-making distribution of adventure and landscapes objects, etc. Two endings, one of which is a 'false' ending, add replay value with different scripts and events for the second time you play the map.


The Hundred Years War 5 (L, L, M, XL, M) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. H4 Winds of War

"In the first scenario in the exciting campaign on the famous Hundred Years War, you are the young king Edward III of England. After three years of domination by your mother and her lover, Roger Mortimer, you decide to take control of the government! Also the heritage of the French throne is uncertain after the death of Philip IV (of France) and his sons. The new king of France could be your cousin, Philip of Valois, or it could be you, as your mother, Isabella is the daughter of Philip IV... The »Hundred Years War« was a series of wars between England and France that actually lasted for 116 years from 1337, when Edward III claimed the French throne, until 1453, when the English lost Bordeaux. England repeatedly invaded France on the pretext that their kings had a right to the French throne. As the player, you will play the side of the English from year 1337 to 1415.


Planeswalker II 7 (M, L, L, XL, XL, XL, L) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. H4 Winds of War

"The archon Ramiel must face the difficult task of retrieving what has wrongfully been stolen from his beloved home; Mount Celestia, the Seven Heavens." Also see Planeswalker I below.


Resolution, Part One 4 ( M, M, S, S) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. H4 Winds of War

"A wizard struggles to create a new life for himself in Axeoth, but is forced to deal with personal demons from his life in Erathia." Sequel to the Heroes III Unification campaign.


The Science of Darkness 5 (S, M, M, M, M) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. H4 Standard 3.0

"This is a death campaign with crazy scientists, good replay value, many choices to build up your character and includes a touch of Heroes III. You can research five new death skills: Death Construction, Death Summoning, NecromanZy, Darksmithery and Mysticism. All skills can be developed up to the grandmaster level. You will only be allowed to develop about half the skills during this campaign, so choose carefully!"


Nosferatu: Blood of the Ancients 3 (S, L, XL) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. H4 Winds of War

"The young and valiant knight Melkor, unwillingly becomes involved with a dark society."


Planeswalker 7 (S, S, S, M, M, L, XL) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. H4 Winds of War

"Lead the Unnamed across the planes in an inferno of blood, killing and mayhem." Based upon the Planescape Campaign Setting and originally inspired by Planescape: Torment. Even if you are not familiar with this universe, the campaign should provide some challenge and enjoyment.


The Gambler 4 (S, S, L, M) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. H4 Standard 3.0

"This is a chaos campaign focused on gambling, challenging battles and less story. You have to earn your chaos magic and improve your gambling skills by... wagering."


The Saga of Depierrelles, Pt I 5 (S, M, L, XL, XL) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. H4 Standard

"The first part of the story Of Depierrelles. We meet him as a young bard ready to go adventuring. What will he achieve - play and see. Gameplay is about three years of the inner time of the game."


A Wind of Thorns V2.0 (|English) A Wind of Thorns (Czech) 8 (L, M, L, X, L, L, L, L) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. H4 Winds of War

"Betrayal, valor, growth, humor and life changing decisions combine to create a massive and challenging campaign. The choices you make in these 8 maps change the alignments, power ups, and whole story line which makes for excellent replay value. "


The Hunt For Adanis 6 (S, M, M, S, M, S) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. H4 Gathering Storm

"This is a campaign. You control two heroes on their quest. Good chance for making strong heroes. Both large and average armies thoughout the campaign."


Robin Hood 3 (M, M, M) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. H4 Gathering Storm

"Year 1189-1195: King Richard Lionheart is on the Third crusade in the Holy land. Meanwhile, his brother, prins John Lackland is ruling England. It is Robin Hood and Lionheart's task to reclaim the country, to bring forth peace and order by any and all means."


The Adventures of Wren 2 (M, M) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. H4 Standard

"You are Wren, a young elvish woman, on a quest trying to reunite the Old Peoples before it is too late..."


 

Heroes III Campaigns/Map Series

 

Average difficulty is based on ranking each individual map's difficulty from 1 to 5 (1 is easy) and then finding the average of the total.

Title Maps Difficulty Author
Ascent of Chaos 4 (M, M, L, L) Normal / Hard This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Elodram Series 2 (S, M) Normal / Hard This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Eternal Love 8 Impossible This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Evil is Good 2 (M, M) Normal This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Exile Trilogy 3 (M, M, XL) Normal This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Le Cycle de l'Ambre 5 (XL, L, M, L, L) Hard This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Le Cycle de Ténèbres 5 (M, XL, L, L, M) Expert This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The Legacy of Qun-Jin 4 (M, L, L, M) Hard This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Masters of Sighisoara 4 (M, L, XL, XL) Normal Maygwan, Yurian Stonebow, HeroOfPunk
Masters of Sighisoara II 5 (XL, L, L, L, M) Normal Maygwan, Yurian Stonebow, HeroOfPunk
The Song of Valorin (AB) 4 (S, M, L, L) Hard This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The Shimuna Wars 4 (L, S, L, M) Normal This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The Shimuna Wars II 4 (XL, L, S, M) Normal This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Shimuna III: The Last Chapter 7 (XL, S, M, S, S, L, XL) Normal This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Unification 4 (M, M, M, XL) Normal This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Heroes II Campaign

Title Maps Author
Agent of Heaven 7 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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The Cartographer's Tower

By This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Lord Evenshade

 

--Preface--

Welcome to the Cartographer's Tower. You have entered the humble abode of a cartographer and watcher of the ways of the world, and it is I, Lord Evenshade, that will attempt to guide all comers along the difficult yet rewarding path of creating maps in the varied and fantastical realm of Axeoth.

This section has three primary goals. First, learning to use the Map Editor for Heroes of Might and Magic IV is essential. Full of new and unusual wonders, the Heroes IV Editor may at first be a challenging medium to overcome. Secondly, I will share some of my techniques for creating maps with ambience, intrigue, and in some cases beauty. Making a map that sets the stage for mighty events can be more difficult and sometimes more enjoyable than creating the layout for the story itself. Finally, I'll describe some of the processes that go into creating the foundation for single-player maps, multiplayer maps, and intricate story maps.

 

--Using the Map Editor--
The Basics

STARTUP SCREEN
Always a good place to start. Upon opening the Heroes IV Editor, the very first "dialogue" (the official name for message/option boxes) that appears is under the header of "New Campaign" and gives you a number of options to select from. Please note: you do NOT have to start out making a new map every time you open the Editor. You can simply close this box as soon as you get without making a map by pressing the X in the upper right (as with every Windows dialogue box). The New Campaign options may be somewhat unusual compared to previous Heroes Map Editors.

 

First note that you can choose at the offset whether to make a Campaign or a single scenario. Also, a checkbox down in the left corner allows you to choose whether or not to include an underground in your map. Unlike in Heroes III, you cannot remove or add an underground to an already in-progress map; you have to make the decision at this point -- take it or leave it, essentially. The last choices for this dialogue are fairly obvious to a Heroes player, as here you can choose the size of your map. If you choose to make a Campaign, the size you choose here will be that of the first scenario in the Campaign. We'll deal with Campaigns in greater detail later.

OBJECT PALETTES
Heroes IV, like all other Heroes Editors, has a section of the map separated for use as an object "palette". Note that there are in fact numerous palettes, each of which has sub-sections. The four palettes that appear are Adventure Objects, Artifacts, Landscape Objects, and Characters.

 

 

-Adventure Objects-
Possibly the most important palette in the eyes of most gamers and mapmakers, the Adventure Objects palette includes all those objects which you visit on the map (excluding creatures and artifacts). Towns, Mines, Dwellings, Power Ups, Movement Modifiers, Shrines of Magic, Treasures, Quests, Water Objects, and Miscellaneous objects can be found here. Take some time to shuffle through these and see what the various sub-sections have in them. You may also note that a number of objects have two facings; they are indentical in every other respect. Also, without any modifications done to the palettes (dealt with later) the only towns found in the Towns section are Fort-level.

 

-Landscape Objects-
This is what gives your map its feel and flavor. One thing that has to be kept in mind when making Heroes IV maps is that, at this time (before the addition of The Gathering Storm), there is no copy/paste function in the Editor. This makes placing terrain at first a very tedious business, as you have to place every mountain, every rock, every tree individually. Eventually, you'll probably develop a fast method of flashing your mouse back and forth from the palette to the screen; still, we can hope that NWC will fix this lack sometime in the relatively near future. A number of nice surprises await in this section. First off, Heroes IV has added "animals" to the scene, everything from tropical birds to deer, crocodiles and whales to chickens and pigs. Also, there are quite a few piles of bones to choose from; icebergs that reflect in the water; waterfalls; burned-out town buildings; and a wide selection of farms, rocks, and vegetation. Heroes IV has an incredible wealth of "eye candy", and effective use of this bounty is one of the many tricks a mapmaker should work on.

 

 

-Artifacts-
Heroes IV may lack in AI, but in other areas it is wealthier than Solomon. Artifacts, for example; the heading of the palette is pretty obvious, yet inside you'll find almost any artifact you could possibly think of. First off, Items are a new introduction into the Heroes setting; mundane equipment with no special magical properties whatsoever such as Longbows, Plate Mail, and Shields. Next is the newly-introduced Potions section, which add a bit of magical flavor to even the most might-based battles. Treasures are the weakest of the "ordinary" artifacts, followed by Minors and Majors. Relics, however, deserve a special clasification. They are similar in many ways to the Ultimate Artifacts of Heroes II. As Heroes IV also has the Grail, it can therefore be said that Heroes IV has the largest and most incredible artifact selection of any Heroes game (especially once The Gathering Storm is released, adding combination artifacts).

 

 

-Characters-
Divided into two very important sections, Heroes and Creatures, this is the tab you click to populate your map. Every Hero class have placeable male and female versions. Modifying characters will be dealt with later. When you place a creature, you may notice that if you do not assign it a player it will feature an unusual circle of stone-like objects. These serve no purpose except to accent their presence and make them more visible. The same holds true with Heroes (yes, you can place Neutral heroes in Heroes IV!).

screenshot2d screenshot2e

 

TOOL SELECTIONS
The top of the Heroes IV Editor screen has two levels. One is used for the common set of Windows options such as File, View, Tools, and Help (although the last of these is rather useless at this stage of the game's development). The second level is used more often. It includes the New, Open, and Save buttons we're all familiar with, followed by permanently grayed out Cut, Copy, and Paste functions. Next we have Undo and Redo, then Object Properties (grayed out until you have selected an object), Delete Selected Object, View Underground, View Grid, and View Passability. View Underground does exactly as it says, changing the view in the main screen to the underground (if there is one). View Grid and View Passability allow you to see the locations of all the squares on the map and whether or not they can be passed through.

IMPORTANT: In Heroes IV, Heroes/Creatures CAN NOT move diagonally between two objects that have impassable squares touching at one corner. Invariably, this makes forest-making easier to do, but it's easy to make a mistake and provide players with a passage through a place that you had meant to be impassable. Next in line are the Player selector (all ownable objects placed while a player is selected here are automatically given to that player), the Object selector, Object Eraser, and the Terrain placing tool, all of which are rather self-explanatory. Next we have some of the cool new additions provided by Heroes IV. First, we have the Road Placing tool. In Heroes I, II, and III, roads were straight-line things that were incapable of completely covering an entire square. In Heroes IV, this is not so. Roads (Cobble, Stone, and Dirt) may be placed exactly as terrain, making it easy to create a large paved area. Next up is the Rock Terrain placement tool, which comes with the normal Cave walls as well as the new Stone walls that make it possible to create realistic dungeons. Lastly, we have the totally new Elevation tool. Handling Elevations will be explained later.

 

-Advanced Options-

I highly suggest that for this section, you open your Heroes IV Map Editor and follow along while I point out the various sections. You may also want to stop now before continuing and familiarize yourself with the features I've already discussed, if you haven't already.--

CAMPAIGN/MAP PROPERTIES
Possibly one of the most important window pairs of the Map Editor is that of Campaign Properties and Map Properties. Campaign Properties only becomes accessible when the map you are working on is part of a campaign, in which case the Campaign Properties window allows you to set the name and description of the campaign as a whole. Map Properties, however, is considerably more active throughout the creation of a map. By clicking on Map Properties, you'll have access to a wide variety of options and settings that essentially give your map the difference between one that's alive and one that looks nice.

 

 

-Map Properties-
The first screen you'll see is fairly similar to its cousin from the Heroes III editor. At the top you have a wide selection of tabs that allow you to do in-depth customization of your map. Below these is the map's name, then the Difficulty selection box, then the Map Description. The Carryover Description is only used when you're making a Campaign, and what you type here will inform players as to what will "carry over" from one campaign map to the next. Currently, the Carryover options are only found in the Campaign Properties window, and at this time there are only two options. This will be explained later. Now, the tabs. Map Properties is broken into the following sections: General (the starting screen described a moment ago), Win/Loss, Player Specs, Teams, Events, Oracles, Heroes, Spells, Skills, Artifacts, Prologue, Epilogue, and AI Properties.

 

WIN/LOSS -- One of the handy new features in Heroes IV is the ability to type up your own Win/Loss conditions. You can select to Enable Standard Victory Condition, as well as the Customize Initial Victory Condition Description and Customize Initial Loss Condition Description. If you de-select Enable Standard Victory Condition, you'll have to include a script at some point while making your map to provide special circumstances for the Player to win. Otherwise, the players will continue duking it out forever, with no side winning! If you do choose to make a custom victory/loss condition, clicking on the Cutomize Initial Victory/Loss Condition Description buttons will give you a chance to tell the Players what changes there are. At a later point, I'll tell you how to change these descriptions while in-game.

 

PLAYER SPECS -- A relatively simple dialogue box, Player Specs gives the mapmaker access to information about the various players on the map in much the same way previous Heroes editors have. At the top is a selection box, listing all possible players; after selecting one, you can check a box as to whether or not they can be played by a human; whether or not they have a maximum Hero level limit (usually only used during Campaigns); in situations where the player's town(s) is random, you can use the next selection area to choose what alignments are possible for that player; and lastly, you may choose the importance the AI will brand on that player; vital tends to make the AI more aggressive, normal is obviously what most maps are set for.

 

TEAMS -- A fairly straightforward sections. First off, you check the box at the top saying "Enable Teams" and this will allow you to set how many teams are on your map and what players are on them. Obviously, if you do not "Enable Teams", then all players will be against each other.

 

EVENTS -- This section is anything but straightforward. Undoubtedly the most powerful new feature of the Heroes IV Editor is the addition of a controlled scripting language system, which allows far more in-depth development of stories and quests. I won't go into how to create scripts just yet, but there are a number of important features here in the Events tab that you must understand before toying around with this powerful new tool.

 

 

First off, there are four types of events in Heroes IV. First, you have Timed Events (which should be fairly familiar to anyone who has played Heroes III), allowing you to set up messages and scripts that occur on a particular day or as a result of said Timed Event. Next, Triggerable Events, commonly referred to as Triggers, which activate usually as the result of some unseen string of events caused by either a Timed Event or a Placed Event. Triggerable Events are very powerful, and can also be set to trigger when a unit accesses a particular adventure object (see the section on Scripting for more information). Placed Events, on the other hand, are very similar to the normal Events that you encountered in both Heroes II and Heroes III. However, there is an important difference: all Placed Event actions are handled in the Events tab in Map Properties, not as a result of double-clicking the Placed Event itself. Double clicking the Placed Event will allow you to set or select a name (selecting is easier), and in the Events tab under the category "Placed Events" you must then type in the name of that Event. Why it is easier to type in the name under the Events tab first? Because when you type in a name on a Placed Event on the Adventure Map, the Events tab does not recognize it unless you spell that name correctly in the Events tab, as well. If you type in the name first in the Events tab, the Placed Event object will allow you to select that name from a number of choices (i.e., all the different Placed Event names you've created). Finally, you have Continuous Events; these are considered to be more difficult to get a handle on, as the Event itself will continue to check to see whether its conditions have been satisfied. Still, a nicely handled and intricately created Continuous Event can make for some interesting and engrossing stories.

ORACLES -- Here we have the newest rendition of the popular Obelisk theme from previous Heroes games. Oracles come in twelve different colors, each of which can have its own buried artifact. Also, as Heroes IV includes both Relic-level artifacts and the Grail, one might say that Heroes IV includes both the Ultimate Artifacts of Heroes II and the Grail from Heroes III in one, smoothly created format. Once you've placed an Oracle or a set of Oracles, you can go to the Oracles tab in Map Properties and set a variety of options for that particular Oracle color.

 

 

Firstly, Oracles have a default Ultimate Artifact (e.g., Gold has the Grail, Green has the Bow of the Elf King, etc.). You can change this, however. The four buttons along the side of the Oracle screen, Add Artifact, Add Material, Edit and Delete are fairly self explanatory. You're going to find that "Material" is the word used by the Editor when referring to what are commonly known as "Resources". You can pile up as much treasure in the Oracle as you want. Lastly, you have to choose how many Oracles of that specific color you want the player to have to visit before they can see the entire puzzle map. And before we continue: once you've placed an Oracle, it is imperative that you place its correspondingly colored "X" somewhere on the Adventure Map. This "X" can be manipulated to increase the radius of its possible random location based on where you placed it. Both the Oracles and their "X"s can be found in the Quests section of the Adventure Objects palette.

HEROES, SPELLS, SKILLS, and ARTIFACTS -- These four sections are perhaps the most obvious, and don't require much explanation. By clicking on the corresponding "Customize..." box, you have access to which Heroes, Spells, Skills and Artifacts are available in the map. I'm fairly certain that these limits only appear when random chance is involved; if you were to specificly place a skill in, say, a Library, and then remove that skill from the Map via the Skills tab, I believe that skill will still be available in that particular Library -- you can be assured, however, that it won't pop up anywhere else that a choice or random chance is involved. Similar circumstances occur with Heroes, Spells, and Artifacts.

 

PROLOGUE and EPILOGUE -- Also very simple to comprehend, the Prologue and Epilogue boxes are identical in appearance and very near so in function. Simply enough, the Prologue section allows you to set a picture for the map as well as a message and voiceover (if you've played any of the Heroes IV Campaigns, you'll have seen Prologues and the occasional Epilogue in action). The same goes for the Epilogue, only the Epilogue plays after (I'm assuming) a successful completion of the map. Please note that, like other options, you have to Enable Prologues/Epilogues by checking the box at the top left of the dialogue screen. Everything else is fairly straightforward and self-explanatory.

 

AI PROPERTIES -- Currently a very limited section, this tab allows you to set particular Artifacts from your map that you want the AI to pay close or very close attention to. Click "Add" to add a new Artifact to the listing, and at the same time you'll be asked to provide an "Importance" to the Artifact. High and Vital are, unfortunately, the only two options; Vital being greater than High. We can only hope that more possibilities are added to this section in the future.

 

There you have it for the Advanced Options! You shall hopefully by now have a fairly good working knowledge of the layout of the Map Editor and the functions of the various sections and dialogues. The next installment of the Cartographer's Tower will include a detailed description of two of the primary resources available to mapmakers who want to add "life" to their maps: the ability to edit object properties, and the powerful and expansive scripting system.


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Heroes Chronicles Free Campaigns
These two downloadable campaigns were originally offered on the 3DO website for customers who have at least a certain number of the Heroes™ Chronicles games installed on their computer. Read the instructions below carefully to learn more and to download the files from FilePlanet. To get Game #1 "The World Tree," simply purchase any TWO of the four Heroes™ Chronicles games at your favorite retailer and install them on your computer. To get Game #2 "The Fiery Moon," simply purchase any THREE of the four Heroes™ Chronicles games at your favorite retailer and install them. Have at least 30 MB of available hard disk space for The World Tree and 60 MB available for both The World Tree and The Fiery Moon. Follow the instructions for downloading the free games (see below). The official download deadline has passed, but we're leaving these files up for an indeterminate time as a courtesy to the community. Note that these campaigns are compatible with the US Domestic versions of Chronicles only.
The World Tree
The World Tree is the essence of life, spreading its vitality to all living things. Although barbarians imagine it to be a real tree, the World Tree can be more accurately depicted as the 'living earth', the entire planet. Normally, the Ancestors protect it from harm, but a cry for help cut suddenly short warns Tarnum that the entire world is in danger. He soon discovers that one of the Ancestors, Vorr, has gone insane and seeks to destroy the World Tree. Vorr has enlisted the help of the Necromancers --who despise all life -- as well as a remote Barbarian tribe, who worship him as a war god, to carry out the destruction of the World Tree. So, once again Tarnum must lead the creatures of the Stronghold town to a distant northern mountain range to battle Vorr and his minions. Full Download and Installation Instructions for The World Tree
  • Click on the wrldtree.exe link below to download the program to your computer. If your Web browser asks you where you want to save the file, save it to your Windows desktop (C:windowsdesktop).
    • Once the file has been saved to your desktop, double-click it. The World Tree setup will automatically launch. Follow the on-screen instructions when prompted during the installation.
    • Insert any Heroes Chronicles game CD into your CD-ROM drive. When the Autoplay screen appears, click Exit.
    • Finally, go to your Start menu, select Programs | 3DO | Heroes Chronicles | The World Tree | Heroes Chronicles The World Tree to launch the game.
    • Please Note: Two of the four Heroes Chronicles must be installed before downloading this file. (The Fiery Moon does not count as one of these two games.)
    Click here to download wrldtree.exe from FilePlanet 13.1MB - COMPATIBLE WITH "US DOMESTIC" VERSION ONLY
    The Fiery Moon
    Although Tarnum managed to save the World Tree, the Insane Ancestor, Vorr, escaped. And the silence of the other Ancestors still worries Tarnum. Have they forsaken him, or is it something far worse? Even as the Immortal Hero sets out to find Vorr, a new enemy appears to stand in his way -- Demons. Soon, Tarnum travels through a magical portal to the homeworld of the Demons -- the Fiery Moon -- and learns that Vorr has teamed up with these chaotic creatures. Not only that, but he's imprisoned the other Ancestors here as well. Tarnum must rescue them first, but once they are safe he plans to destroy Vorr forever, even if it costs him his soul. Full Download and Installation Instructions for The Fiery Moon
    • Click on the fierymoon.exe link below to download the program to your computer. If your Web browser asks you where you want to save the file, save it to your Windows desktop (C:windowsdesktop).
    • Once the file has been saved to your desktop, double-click it. The Fiery Moon setup will automatically launch. Follow the on-screen instructions when prompted during the installation.
    • Insert any Heroes Chronicles game CD into your CD-ROM drive. When the Autoplay screen appears, click Exit.
    • Finally, go to your Start menu, select Programs | 3DO | Heroes Chronicles | The Fiery Moon | Heroes Chronicles The Fiery Moon to launch the game.
    • Please Note: Three of the four Heroes Chronicles games must be installed before downloading this file. (The World Tree does not count as one of these three games.)
    Click here to download fierymoon.exe 13.8MB - COMPATIBLE WITH "US DOMESTIC" VERSION ONLY
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  • Behind the Curtain: Mapmaker as Entertainer

    by Charles Watkins

    Part 1: Discovery

    As a game begins, most of the map is shrouded in darkness and the player can only wonder what is out there to be discovered. Part of the fun is not knowing what lies in the great darkness--and later, what may be covered by the Fog of War. Success depends on finding resources, locations, armies, and treasures, so players naturally set out to discover where these might be located.

    Often players begin a game by sending out scouts in all directions in order to learn the lay of the land, the locations of key resources, the presence of threats, and potential avenues for further exploration. Placement of monsters, barriers, and movement modifiers can be used to push players in one direction or another, and anticipating which way players are apt to go allows mapmakers to heighten the fun of discovery.

    Use of Foreshadowing

    One way for a mapmaker to create and amplify the joy of discovery is foreshadowing, a technique borrowed novels and movies, to give the player a taste of what lies ‘out there,’ promising something the player wants while delaying gratification until some challenge is met.

    For instance, someone playing Order would surely like to obtain the Tome of Order and learning that one is available to the East would motivate the player to go out in that direction to search for it. Finding the Tome after making a concerted effort is far more satisfying than simply coming across it while wandering around. The mapmaker can begin with a ‘teaser’ that suggests that some Order-related artifact has been discovered and follow with another that identifies the object as the Tome. When the player visits a nearby library, additional details become available regarding the origin of the Tome and its likely whereabouts. Later, the player learns about its guards and what actions may be required to obtain it. By the time the prize is near, the player may be drooling with anticipation and when it is finally in hand, the player gets a real sense of accomplishment.

    Element of Surprise

    A second way to tap the player’s enjoyment of discovery is surprise. In some ways, surprise is the opposite of foreshadowing, but it shares in the use of anticipation to heighten the fun. A surprise needs to catch a player off guard and often involves the same sort lead up as foreshadowing. But this time it is the unknown that serves as the attraction. In the ‘real’ world, surprises are both pleasant and unpleasant, maybe with more of the unpleasant sort. But in the game, most of the surprises should be pleasant or else players gets a sense of being abused by factors that are beyond their control. Nobody likes maps where you never know when you’ll be jumped by a legion of Bandits or whatever. (But most everyone likes it when the Bandits offer to join.) A mapmaker can get away with some unpleasant surprises, just as long as they do not cripple the player’s prospects for success. You can even combine a few small, unpleasant surprises with a larger pleasant surprise to heighten the effect. In the Bandit example, a series of smaller ambushes may lead the player to the Bandits’ treasure trove.

    Setting Expectations

    Both foreshadowing and surprise depend on the mapmaker’s ability to shape players’ expectations. Consistency must be well established before inconsistencies can begin to be noticed, and in Heroes this means carefully managing the use of random elements in the game. This applies primarily to the selection of monsters and treasures placed on the map. If monsters are generally random, then the presence of some particular monster will not be taken as significant, but if there is some consistency in monster selection, the exception tends to stand out. The same goes for treasures—who wants to go on a quest to obtain an important artifact when it might just as easily be found in a random treasure pile?

    Internal Consistency

    A world filled with random monsters and treasures usually makes no sense, apart from the mechanics of the game itself. When all kinds of monsters are scattered willy nilly across the landscape, players won’t consider why they happen to be where they are. And random monsters are impossible to judge as friendly or not, so without cause or reason, players find themselves attacking everything in sight. Alignments also become unimportant, for instance, as Angels must fight other Angels.

    By matching monsters to the areas they inhabit—dwarves in the hillcountry, for instance, or hydras in the swamp—the mapmaker creates an ambiance that is impossible with random monsters. And providing some logical consistency, the mapmaker lays a foundation for players’ expectations. By making the fantasy world a little more real, the mapmaker gives players a better chance to become immersed in the experience. When monsters appear outside their logical habitats, players will wonder why. If there’s no apparent reason, players become less involved as they are reminded that they are just playing a computer game.


    Some random monsters in ‘Sarawak.” What exactly is going on here?
    What are the Leprechauns doing at the Ore Mine?
    Why are the Barbarians guarding the Surefooted Boots?
    If the world does not make sense, players see a gameboard, not a fantasy world.

    Random monsters

    Should every monster be hand picked for its location? In my maps almost all are, because I want the world to make sense. In fact, I even take the monster’s facing into account, so that when they are encountered, the players will meet them head on. I admit that is somewhat extreme, but when I create a setting I like to arrange all the elements as naturally as possible.

    So what about replay value? After all, if players learn what to expect, wouldn’t that diminish the surprise factor? Of course it would, but the really entertaining surprises lie in the rewards and locations they player finds. Going down a trail and coming across a pack of Efreeti where before there was a pack of Trolls does not strike me as being that different or that much fun. But if it is necessary to use random monsters, it could help to rationalize their appearance in some way – maybe a prison ship has washed up or a change in climate caused a general migration.

    Another argument against random monsters is balance. I know I’d rather fight a group of Zombies than a group of Elves, even though they are both possibilities from a Monster-2 token. And with WOW, the difference has gotten greater—consider Trolls vs. Goblin Knights, or Megadragons (ouch) vs. Hydras. At very least, mapmakers should avoid placing random monsters at choke points or critical treasure sights.

    So in conclusion, when the selection of monsters fits the terrain and landscape, the mapmaker can provide players with a fantasy world that is self-consistent, which enables players to make successful inferences about how things work. This gives them more pleasure when they make discoveries based on such expectations and increases the impact of surprises because they are not watered down by random occurrences.

    Plot twists

    Surprises can also be embedded in a storyline. Judicious use of CHANGE COLOR scripts can shift the balance of power. There are countless variations on the “Old Switcheroo” where things turn out not to be what the player expected. To work, there ought to be some previous indication that may be only partly noticed in passing, but which can be recalled as a pertinent clue after the surprise comes out.

    Sometimes mapmakers like to compete with each other in finding clever ways to exploit little known features or outright bugs to produce various effects. This may be why some mapmakers keep their projects secret, particularly if there is a contest involved. The impact on players can vary. Some never notice. Others are astonished to discover that the game does not work exactly the way they expected, setting them up for additional surprises.

    Novelties

    One more source of enjoyment based in discovery is when the player sees something new in game. (When I get to the discussion of ADVANCEMENT, I’ll talk about ways a map can train the player to play a better game.) Mapmakers can entertain players by giving them access to new or rare elements in the game. The first of these I encountered was “Dragon Rider,” the prize winning user map from Heroes1, where the player got to start with a single Dragon and set out to take a castle before time ran out. I had enlisted Dragons before, of course, but I’d never had one to start with. On the negative side, I also recall a Heroes2 map where the player got to start out with a ghost. It grew to thousands by the time the game was over, rolling over all opposition. Resistance was futile, as the poet said.

    As supplements come out, there are often opportunities to feature some new element introduced into the game. Of course, this means limiting the audience to players that have that supplement. And the maps that come with supplement usually incorporate the new features.

    There are often odd artifacts available in the editor that are not normally encountered in standard maps. I liked to use the Market of Time in my Heroes3 maps – along with the three “Kick Ass Artifacts,” my favorite being Mired In Neutrality. Since they were pretty much duds, they did not have much consequence to the game, but I wanted to mess with the players’ minds so they might start to wonder what else might be out there that they had not seen before.


    In conclusion, there are many techniques for using DISCOVERY to heighten players’ enjoyment of Heroes maps. These all revolve around the principle of establishing internal consistency within the fantasy setting, playing off of player expections to build anticipation and surprise.

    Next time: Success...

    Want to talk about this some more? Meet me in the Mapmaker Forum!


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    Behind the Curtain: Mapmaker as Entertainer

    by Charles Watkins

     

    Much has already been written about map ratings—what goes into them and what they mean. As a player I rarely enter ratings and as mapmaker I really pay them no attention. This is because map styles vary so much that there is little base for a fair comparison. And players gravitate to the kind of maps they like, so there’s never a representative sample. It’s like asking people to rate Mother’s cooking. It seems to me that the best way to rate a map is according to how much you enjoy it. If you have a good time, it’s a good map. If you have a great time, it’s a great map. What this means is the mapmaker is really performing as an entertainer, and in this series I’m looking at how mapmakers can create maps that entertain their players. What makes a map enjoyable? Last time I started the discussion by saying that the main sources of enjoyment are discovery, success, and aesthetics. I went through several ways to appeal to the player through discovery—foreshadowing, surprises, and so on. Today, the discussion turns to success, the feeling of triumph over worthy challenges and the satisfaction of a game well played.

    Part 2: Success

    Everyone likes to win, but if victory is too easy, it loses its luster. On the other hand, if it seems too hard to win, players become frustrated and give up. Like so many other aspects of life, getting there is half the fun, so we are looking for ways to make the pursuit of victory as enjoyable as possible.

    Since not everyone will win, the mapmaker should include multiple challenges, so that each player will have a chance to savor some measure of success. This means planning out a game in a succession of milestones, so that players get a sense of attainment throughout play. Ideally these build to a grand finale, culminating in some additional reward.

    What sort of goals can you set? On the way to the game ending victory condition (complete takeover or something else), players seek to explore the map, build up towns, amass armies, and level up heroes. The means to these usually involves combat, travel, magic, and treasure. These present the mapmaker with enough choices that players should be able to enjoy the way to victory as much as victory itself.

    Sweet victory

    Everyone likes to win, but some victories seem sweeter than others. Experienced players often complain that the AI is a pushover, so they don’t enjoy playing single player maps.# To some extent, that’s true for just about every computer game this side of Deep Blue. But I believe that the Heroes4 AI can put up enough fight to challenge experienced players—and make average players hesitate before choosing the “Champion” difficulty setting. However, it is up to the mapmaker to arrange for this, and I don’t mean simply handing out extra resources to computer players.

    For multiplayer maps, players need to know that they all start off on equal footing and that it was best play that won the victory, not just who got lucky. Most makers of multiplayer maps take pains to see that resources, artifacts, and adventure objects are distributed equally. In fact, I think some go too far when each player is given the exact same set of artifacts. This results in peculiar endings where the winner ends up with four of everything.

    Challenging computer players

    My first advice to mapmakers who want to have challenging maps with satisfying endings is to forget about having player positions that can be played by either a human or computer. The AI is simply not up to the task of successfully emulating a competent human player. So stop complaining about that and use the AI for what it does well.

    Why can’t the AI perform as well as a human? There are too many reasons to go into here, and soon I’ll start another series on getting the most out of the AI, but for now it’s enough to say that it is far easier to treat the computer positions as relatively fixed and waiting for the human players to advance to the point they are ready to take them on. Instead of starting off the computer player with a minimal town, a handful of low level creatures, and level one hero, give it a built up town, a substantial garrison, and several tough heroes. When human players eventually reach it, the computer’s town will look more like a town that a human player would have developed at that point in the game.

    A second reason for designing computer-only positions is that they allow a game to reach a satisfying climax and then come to an end. Heroes3 was particularly bad about endings in that when the AI had been thoroughly beaten, it would persist in sending out lame little armies that players had to hunt down and exterminate. The game ended in a whimper instead of a bang and this was something of a letdown to players.

    Heroes4 introduced the three day waiting period, which was intended to bring the game to close soon after the last enemy’s towns and heroes had been defeated. This might work for multiplayer games, but I don’t see the use in single player maps. Without a hero how is the computer player supposed to capture a town? (A human might send a creature to Tavern or Prison to recruit one, and if there’s a weak town nearby, possibly retake a town.)

    Options

    Players like options for how they attain the map’s objectives. If there is just one way to reach a goal, they begin to feel manipulated. Some like to bludgeon their way to victory. Others like to sneak. Still others like to be clever. A good map offers something for everyone—indirect routes to objectives as well as direct ones.

    Some story maps make it seem as though “the game is playing you,” as the mapmaker delivers a narrative that directs the player’s actions. This effect can be blatant, as where the mapmaker out and out tells the player to do something, or more subtle as the mapmaker telegraphs the instructions in prose. Personally, I like to have my story unfold in response to actions that the player would logically take in the course of the game. You can be pretty sure that a player will notice a lightly guarded Gold Mine and visit it at some point, so you can also be pretty sure players will move to where you can deliver some text to advance the story. The difference from the narrative approach is that players get a sense of being in control – and are occasionally delighted to learn that their choices have been anticipated and have consequences in the story.

    Advancement

    Like many character-based fantasy games, much of the attraction of Heroes stems from the way heroes advance, becoming more powerful and thus able to take on new challenges. To a lesser extent, towns and armies also improve during the course of the game, which is good because, unlike most other games, opposing armies also get better as time passes.

    I first experienced the rush of ‘leveling up’ as a player of Chainmail, the precursor to Dungeons and Dragons. Chainmail was designed as a combat system for miniatures and included a system for upgrading armies as a reward for victory. You could carefully nurture a squad from novice to elite status and see them become more and more powerful.

    The computer game Rogue was very popular in the early days of Unix, and lives on today in the form of Nethack. It is also apparent that Diablo’s roots go back to Rogue. In all of these, players start out as level one characters with minimal abilities and rise in level as they fight their way down into the dungeon. With each new level come additional hit points, improved abilities, and new powers. Of course this is nothing new to players of Might & Magic and other popular RPGs. But since there is at least one well-known member of the Heroes community who has never played an RPG, I thought some background information might be appropriate.

    The thrill of leveling up comes from deep in the psyche. We all have feelings of powerlessness and aspirations to become more capable and important than we are now. Leveling up allows us to satisfy this inner need. Even if we are trapped in dead-end jobs, overburdened by debt, and tied down by past mistakes, we can still experience the sensation of leveling up. And this makes the ‘real world’ a bit more bearable. Playing Heroes is like having a Graduation every day.

    So what does this mean for mapmakers?

    If players are drawn to the game by the prospect of advancement, the mapmaker can use advancement as an incentive that players can strive for. And advancement also provides the most tangible reward that is possible in a computer game: gold lets you buy more armies and armies let you fight bigger battles, but leveling up gives you new and improved skills, access to better spells, and sometimes even entry to new locations. With more gold or armies, you are still just able to buy things and send more armies into battle. But leveling up lets you do new things, which keeps the game interesting. (Yes, some people like to see nice cutscreens, but I doubt the ones in Heroes are good enough to attract much of an audience by themselves.)

    Earning it

    One reason HEROES has difficulty settings is to provide a suitable challenge for all skill levels. As players get better, they can ratchet up the difficulty so that the game always provides a good contest, nether too easy or too hard. For the mapmaker, this means there is a balance to be struck between allowing players to advance too quickly and holding them back too long. As a player, I don’t much care for maps that are so resource-poor that it takes many weeks to build up heroes, armies, or towns. At the same time, I don’t want everything handed to me on a silver platter.

    There are quite a few maps where the player starts out with multiple towns, high level heroes, and formidable armies. Though these can be enjoyable, they also make me feel somehow cheated. I prefer to start out from scratch, not only for the fun of developing something out of nothing, but also because I like to make my own decisions.

    I have my favorite advanced classes (like Cardinal) and I can’t use them at first when the mapmaker starts me off with a level 5 Ranger. One reason mapmakers do this, I imagine, is to encourage the player to use the starting hero, who is likely intended to be the protagonist in whatever story is being told. I know that when I’m faced with a “Lose Hero” loss condition, I’m inclined to park that hero in my starting town and do my adventuring with new heroes that are not bound by the condition. If the starting hero already has some levels, I’m less likely to waste them by shifting to another main hero.

    Of course, there are other ways to avoid this besides awarding extra levels at the start—easiest is withholding the Tavern for a while—but storytellers should realize that Heroes players do not normally identify with a single hero. Because most stories revolve around a single protagonist, mapmakers may find it difficult to tell them in the context of Heroes.

    In maps I’ve made, I’ve tried several ways to deal with this problem. One approach (Agent of Heaven) was to deny the player access to a Tavern until the intended main hero had time to develop and the player had become attached to her. Another time (Grandmaster), I made the protagonist the mayor of a town who hired mercenary heroes and sent them out on missions. In another map (Kid Heretic) I reduced the pool of available heroes to a collection of characters who were part of the story. In each case I was able to give the player the fun of seeing main characters advance within the context of both the game and the story.

    Players will vary, but I’d say the right pace of development would be for heroes to level up about once a week. Likewise, I’d like to see towns add new creature dwellings once a week on average—figure on levels 1 and 2 in the first week, level 3 in second, and level 4 in the fourth. At the end of the first month, the player is probably ready to develop a second town.

    Character progression

    This same principle of scaled advancement applies to power-ups. Players are more gratified by working their heroes up the hard way, through combat and treasure hunting, rather than coming across Altars, Learning Stones, and so on. This is not to say that maps should not include these power-ups, but that they should be carefully placed and well enough guarded that players get the sense that heroes are advancing mainly through their own efforts.

    There is some scalability built into the Heroes level progression in that more and more EPs are needed to reach higher levels. However, the progression is somewhat flatter than in some RPGs, where EP requirements double for the next level. It seems to me that a reasonable balance is to allow the player to gain one level by power-up for each level gained the hard way. If the main hero gains a level the hard way about every week, then after six months, the hero will have about 24 levels. Add to that another 24 from power-ups and the hero is on pace to max out in about a year. In the sixth month, a hero with 48 levels will be near the top rank for both sides of an advanced class. Smaller maps may need to advance heroes faster, but the same principle applies.

    Expansion

    So far the discussion of advancement has focused on the heroes. Now let’s look at advancement of the player’s empire, where many of the same principles apply.

    As with heroes, there is a balance between making expansion too easy and too hard. A mapmaker can start players with a minimal starting town—a ‘fixer upper’—and still strike the balance by providing the right amount of resources for development. This can be very tricky when you take into account that starting resources vary with game difficulty and the needed resources vary with the town type.

    Personally, I don’t care for maps using timed events to take away or add resources. Even if they are cleverly written, these events are completely beyond my control and I start to get the feeling that the game is playing me. I especially don’t like it when I choose to play at a lower level (I usually play on Expert) only to have the mapmaker take away all the resources on day 1. If it is necessary to take the resources, I’d prefer to be involved, perhaps by paying a toll to get where I’m going. At least then, I feel somewhat in control. The design principle here is that players like to think their own decisions are what determine how their heroes and towns advance.

    Building Armies

    In addition to building up towns and leveling up heroes, players also seem to enjoy amassing formidable armies. I think Heroes is missing something with its relatively limited town development. Towns often top out in less than a month and after that the Grail is the only chance for further development. So the mapmaker may as well concentrate on the heroes and the armies.

    Maybe not all mapmakers realize it, but it is possible to arrive at quite good estimates of player strength as the game progresses. If you assume that players will follow a typical build progression—levels 1 and 2 in week 1, level 3 in week 2, and level 4 in week 4—you can add up the numbers of armies available and get close enough for design purposes.

    When I plan a map, I think in terms of how many weeks I expect it will take for players to reach various objectives and set opposing monster levels accordingly. This works for players that tend to use one large army. To allow for smaller armies or slower players, I try to give players a 3:2 advantage. This gives the maxed out army a chance to get through a good fight unscathed, while still holding out a reasonable chance for smaller forces. For town defense, I give computer players some additional help to compensate for the weakness of the AI there, reversing the balance to 2:3. Incidentally, the same approach works with hero development, since EPs awarded are proportional to hit points defeated.

    Pumping up Armies

    An interesting part of the game comes when players begin to strip the lower level creatures out of their armies to replace them with top troops from other towns. I’m wild about shooters, so I like to put together a powershooter force with Titans, Monks, Cyclops, etc. Others may enjoy playing an all-Dragon combination or something even more exotic. In any case, by setting up the map to make such combinations available, the mapmaker can offer players a novel experience at about the point that accumulating more-of-the-same is becoming less fun.


    A Sorceress has assembled an army of Fire-based creatures. Such theme-based armies can fit into a storyline and provide some variety for players used to one-town armies.

    Scaling up Treasure

    Another way to heighten players’ enjoyment of advancement is to award progressively better treasures as the game goes on. Heroes4 includes some potentially unbalancing artifacts in the Minor category (e.g. Crown of Enchantment) and some real spoilers in the Major category (e.g. the staves and tomes). The Relic category, especially with the WOW expansion, contains some real doozies (like Archmage’s Hat). Tossing these out as random treasures not only risks giving players unintended advantages, it also dulls their appreciation of quest objects and other prizes. Mapmakers should consider how such artifacts fit into the theme of the map, and whether their value is proportional to the effort required to obtain them.

    I’d say Heroes4 has done a good job of calibrating the rewards for capturing a treasure house to the difficulty required to defeat the guards. By the time I’m able to defeat the Black Dragons in the Dragon cave, the major goodies awarded are not unbalancing. Still, at the end of most games, I end up with an incredible number of unused magic items. After accumulating five or six magic swords, finding another one is not such a thrill. This tells me that maps are often too generous with lower level items.

    It would be better for the mapmaker to consider what main items players should have at various points in the game and distribute them accordingly. And as I said before, there’s really no point in laying out treasure houses for computer players. They will not use the items they find there and so these end up in the hands of players. Better to outfit computer heroes with whatever items they need to put up a good fight, and maybe use a Defeated script to take away items not intended for players. Better still to minimize the number of powerful items to begin with and rely on spells and skills to create strong opponents.

    Clever scripters can set up completion scripts that vary the value of rewards according to variables related to the player’s current level, days elapsed, or even army composition. These allow treasures to scale up as the player advances.

    I should also put in a reminder about Prisons. While freeing a level 1 Priest in the first week would be a prize for most players, getting that same hero in Month 6 will probably be a disappointment, especially after a fight to reach the Prison. Ideally, a skilled Prisoner can be the ultimate reward – for unknown reasons, Heroes jailers allow prisoners to retain their artifacts and even their armies while doing time

    Difficulty settings

    Part of the art of giving players a rewarding sense of accomplishment at victory is setting the difficulty level appropriately, not just at the end but throughout the course of the game. Players may choose to play on the easier difficultly settings or on the higher ones. There is frequently confusion between the difficult setting of the map, the difficulty of play selected by players—and the actual difficulty of a particular map resulting from how it is designed.

    There are some Heroes4 maps that try to make the player’s selection determine more of the course of play, but I haven’t gotten around to replaying them on different settings, so I haven’t had a chance to see the difference.

    I tend to take the player’s difficulty selection more as an indication of the level of their play—new players tend to be unsure about their skills and choose easier settings, while jaded masters just sneer and go right to “Champion”. (Personally, I prefer to play on “Expert” because I like larger maps and when I crank up to “Champion” I find that later in a long game the level 4 neutrals are just too tough for me.)

    The resource differential is felt mainly in the first couple of weeks of the game, so some care should be taken to see that players on all levels have a fair chance of getting off to a good start. There is enough variation in the power of level 3 monsters that random level 3’s should not be used as guards for critical resources. For instance if Life runs into Cyclops guarding the source of Crystal, the town’s development can be stymied for some time, while if the guards are simple walkers like Mummies, they will be much easier for shooter-heavy Life to deal with.


    In ‘Conquest of Four Lakes’ we see a Monster-3 guard for a Pillar of Eyes, a level 2 dwelling that has its own guards. Clearly, this is overkill. The mapmaker must have been thinking about Trolls rather than Genies or Goblin Knights.

    Cheating

    A good reason to avoid making a map too hard at the start is cheating. When players get the idea that the game is too hard, they start going for the Load Game option, hoping that they may be able to succeed in a replay. Not only does such an experience fail to add anything to the enjoyment of the game, it cheapens the sense of accomplishment when players finally manage to succeed. On a poor designed map—for instance one infested with unexpected ambushes—players begin to feel entitled to cheat, and once they start, the behavior may continue throughout the game.

    I once made a map* that had designated “save” positions where players were given permission to use save/load to avoid restarts. The idea was that once they had shown they could accomplish some major objective, it was pointless to make them do it all over again to make up for a mistake later on. Since permission was explicitly given at the “save” points, players may be less likely to cheat later on. And when they eventually reach victory, their elation is not offset by guilt.

    In conclusion, the fun of the game is not so much in winning as in the way you win. The most entertaining maps sustain players’ sense of accomplishment throughout the game by offering a succession of intermediate goals leading up to a big finish.

    Want to talk about this some more? Meet me in the Mapmaker Forum!

    * On the other hand, I’ve also heard complaints about the AI cheating, though I have never seen it myself.

    Next time: Aesthetics...


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    Behind the Curtain: Mapmaker as Entertainer

    by Charles Watkins

     

    In this series, I am exploring ways for mapmakers to enhance Heroes players’ enjoyment by using some psychological factors in map design. Previously, we looked at DISCOVERY and saw the need to establish consistency in order to further the sense of expectation and surprise. We looked at SUCCESS and found a need to strike a balance between too easy and too hard, while affording opportunities for players to develop interesting characters and towns. This time, I’ll go into the visual dimension of map design and look at ways to delight the eye as well as the mind.

    Part 3: Aesthetics

    When we looked at employing the surprise factor from the point of view of what players discover as they explore the map. Surprises can also be graphical. Some of the more artistic maps are built around stunning revelations. Sometimes these use the Window of the Magi (Wizard Huts in Heroes3) to unveil hidden delights. Sometimes the player just needs to follow a path or go around a corner to see new wonders awaiting exploration. In my map “Grandmaster” there is a reveal where the player gets a glimpse of the demon lord Uxnator emerging from the dimensional void. Uxnator’s face is rendered using terrain shading and adventure objects and after the player gets the reveal, Uxnator stares out at them from the world map for the rest of the game.



    In ‘Grandmaster’ players try to keep the Demon Lord Uxnator
    from entering their home dimension.
    When they reach the Wizard Hut in the heroes guild,
    they can see his visage emerging from the void.

    Qrystal Dragon’s recent map, “Disenchanted Forest,” includes a very nice reveal, which takes place at the beginning … so you can continue reading this without spoiling the map. As the title suggests, most of the upper level is covered in forest, which provides the backdrop for a pictorial of a large shade tree that spans the map from top to bottom--on the lower level, the tree appears again. Next to each starting town are a pair of Windows of the Magi that illuminate the trees with the foliage artfully displayed using the radial illumination of the Eyes. The effect continues as computer players capture towns positioned on the branches, making it appear that the trees have grown fruit. Eventually players will reach the areas occupied by the trees and this is where the main villains of the piece are to be found. Because of the illumination, players are able to observe their future opponents as they gain strength.



    In ‘Disenchanted Forest,’ Windows of the Magi put foliage
    on the trees that are the centerpiece of the map.

    Strategically placed reveals can be used to advance a storyline or to point players in the right direction. Illuminated objectives stand out on the world map and remind players where they need to go. Since some players ignore or forget about text messages, using the map itself to highlight key locations can be the most effective way of communicating.

    Using illumination this way requires the mapmaker to be able to envision where the light will fall and what the player will be able to see from different vantage points. This requires a geometric sense, combined with a fair amount of trial-and-error. The closer that adventure objects are clustered, the more difficult it can be. Depending on the circumstance, the mapmaker may want to reveal an object as a teaser or keep it hidden until the player comes across it from the right direction. But the mapmaker should be aware of what players will be able to see—and this may be one of the hardest parts of mapmaking since the Campaign Editor provides no support. One of my top wish-list items is the ability to display areas of illumination from objects like Lighthouses and Eyes of the Magi, and to be able to see what falls in the scouting radii of heroes on the map.

    Eye candy

    Visual surprises—or reveals, as some call them—are on the artistic side of mapmaking. Also there is the art of trimming. Terrain types and landscape objects can combine in wonderful ways, so sometimes the surprise can come from the beauty or cleverness of the rendering. I’m no artist, so maybe I should leave it at that.

    All I can say is that gratuitous graphics can become a distraction—flowers in the snow may make for a visual treat, but I get distracted wondering how they managed to grow there. If the mapmaker takes the time to rationalize such anomalies, then all the better. But any element of the map that draws players away from the game, or makes it more difficult to immerse themselves in the mapmaker’s world, should be seriously reconsidered. Just because we operate in a fantasy setting, does not mean anything goes. They may be exotically different from our mundane habitat—that’s one reason players like to go there—but they must be internally consistent or else the magic can be replaced with confusion,

    Art of mapmaking

    Of you’ve made it with me this far,you’ve read my thoughts and opinions about building entertainment value into Heroes maps. We’ve been through discovery, success, and visuals as sources of enjoyment for players. Mapmakers who use these principles become entertainers moreso than performing as programmers, storytellers, or layout artists. Which brings us to this final topic: the art of mapmaking and how artistry can enhance the players’ experience.

    Is there any sense in which Heroes mapmaking can be regarded to be an artform? Pop art, certainly, like juggling, but can mapmaking cross the line into higher realms like comic books (excuse me, graphic novels) seem to have done?

    Storytelling

    Storytelling is certainly an art, perhaps the oldest of all. So what difference does it matter whether the story is told by Balinese shadowpuppets or lyric opera? As a medium for storytelling, Heroes mapmaking possesses several attributes that, though not unique in themselves, do come together to create a distinctive experience for those who partake of it. Mapmakers not only create settings and characters, they create environments where players interact with the game more intensely than in traditional media. What may be missing is the intimacy of the interaction like, for instance, readers of biographical literature might experience.

    But there are many maps with some demonstrable literary quality. My good friend Tim Duncan (aka Corribus) has published several maps* with storylines that can stand on their own, no matter how they happen to be rendered. There were quite a few lighter weight pieces as early as Heroes2 and now in Heroes4 we are starting to see novel-length campaigns.



    In ‘Goldheart,’ Tim Duncan tells a splendid tale of triumph and fate.
    In addition to the mainline story acted out by players, he introduces the device
    of the storyteller who amplifies the experience with his narrative.

    Graphics are another means of artistic expression available in Heroes. I’ve already covered the use of illumination and background graphics to produce pretty reveals. But there are also Heroes artistes who paint stunning landscapes for their maps. Sadly, I lack the creative flair to create such beautiful trimmings. as these decorations are sometimes called, and I’m certainly not the one to give advice about them. But as a player I find them most enjoyable, especially when they are integrated with other elements.

    A brief digression

    One measure of artistic content is the capacity of the work to transform those who experience it. This often involves an exploration of the human condition that results in some discovery about oneself.

    One computer game that has had a lasting impact on my life—not discounting Heroes of course—is Ultima IV by Richard Garriott. Not only is it one of the few computer games with a nonviolent ending, it introduced character class system based on the classical virtues. To become an Avatar, the player had to perform virtuous acts—such as donating blood (and hit points) to practice Sacrifice. The basic virtues of Truth, Love, and Courage combined in pairs to yield others – for instance Love+Courage=Sacrifice. Each virtue had its own town where interactions with NPCs were governed by that virtue.

    Pretty cool so far, huh? We have a game where the player doesn’t just fight for good, but actually does good. However, what got me was the fate of Magincia, the town governed by Pride, which resulted from the combination of all three of Truth, Love, and Courage. Caught up in their superiority to the lesser virtues, the residents of Magincia were destroyed (I won’t tell how) and replaced by a community of shepherds who embodied the true virtue of Humility. Ever since I played Ultima IV I have become more aware of the perils of Pride and the need to strive for Humility.

    It was only after going back to replay Ultima IV that I saw that the lesson of Pride vs. Humility had actually been embedded into the play of the game itself. Rather than have players “roll up” characters like many RPGs do, in the Ultima series you answer a series of questions about ethical situations in order to determine your character class. In Ultima IV, you end up with a party of 8 characters representing each of the virtues. However, the player only fully controls the starting character while the others function as NPC henchmen. Therefore, if you choose to be a Ranger, you do not get the Ranger henchman. What this means is that it is to your benefit to choose the weakest possible main character so that you will have the strongest possible henchmen. And this means answering the ethical questions guided by the virtue of Humility, so that your main character becomes a humble Shepherd.

    I was touched by Ultima IV more deeply than when I stood before Leonardo’s Last Supper. ***

    Limits to creativity

    The range of artistic expression in Heroes is limited by the underlying motif: the campaign of conquest. There’s not much point in telling a story in Heroes unless it involves a lot of fighting. And the ending is pretty much always the same: everything in sight is under the control of the victorious hero. There are just so many ways you can justify robbery and genocide as “heroic”. And let’s face it, fighting and conquest are part and parcel of the game. I once made a map ** where fighting was optional and it was not very well received. Fighting was an option for players who didn’t solve the puzzles, but these weren’t enough for those who were looking for action. At the same time, the map’s general strangeness was enough to drive off most others—it deliberately overstressed the engine to produce some, um, interesting effects.

    What I learned from this is that players bring expectations to the game about how the engine works and what strategies they can use to succeed. If the mapmaker departs too far from these expectations, players feel lost and disappointed. Clearly, there needs to be a balance between surprise and predictability.

    So my final bit of advice to mapmakers of an artistic bent is to bear in mind that you will be creating within the strictures of the medium. In particular, you will have a cast of various specialized fighters, fantastic creatures, and residents of quest locations. You are working in the frontier genre of interactive media where words and graphics can bring your world alive and where you can immerse your audience in the composition in a way that is possible in no other medium.

    In conclusion, we have gone down three main avenues for mapmakers who want to create pleasurable experiences for their players. The first was DISCOVERY, where we saw foreshadowing and surprise both play off of player expectations. The second was SUCCESS, where we found that players need a succession of intermediate goals leading up to a satisfying finale. And now we have looked at the AESTHETIC dimension of mapmaking and noted opportunities for both artistic and literary expression. If you have read this far, then I can only conclude that you may have taken some of this to heart and that in some small way I have encouraged mapmakers to give more thought to ways their maps can be more entertaining. I’m looking forward to the result.

    Want to talk about this some more? Meet me in the Mapmaker Forum !

    * “Lord of the Rings” for Heroes2. Available only in the AstralWizard archive as far as I know.

    ** “Metaluna” part of the “Agent of Heaven” collaboration, also somewhere in the AstralWizard archive, I think maybe.

    *** So if Leonardo lived today, would he render the Last Supper as a Heroes map? Well, no—obviously Jesus would GM Resurrection, but what would Judas be? An Assassin?


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