The Golden Realms Campaign (Spoiler/Lore Discussion)

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This topic contains 30 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Ravenholme 7 years, 7 months ago.

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  • #123710

    Ravenholme
    Member

    So I finished the Golden Realms campaign earlier today, and would like to discuss the ending in particular. If you haven’t finished the campaign and want to find out for yourself, do not proceed beyond this point.


    SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT, ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ETC

    So, at the very end, after the Prime Seals have been broken and the Lesser Seals across Athla stand revealed, meaning that there is now going to be a Gold Rush for the temporary power they give which will consequentially weaken the barrier between the Shadow Realm and Athla. However, in the very last piece of narration, an Undead Karl Hushwick returns to one of the Prime Seals and conducts some kind of Ritual, and then brags to Ernest that “His lady is back!”

    She is obviously one of the Wizard Kings of Old, so who do we reckon is the mostly likely candidate for it? It has to be one of the female Wizard Kings with ties to Necromancy in some form, and it seems likely that if we can identify her, we’ve got an in to finding out the WKs behind the Shadowborn Conspiracy. (As I can’t imagine that the Shadowborn and what happened to Karl are not connected)

    #123895

    Ravenholme
    Member

    No one got anything to say on the matter?

    #123904

    Thariorn
    Member

    Most likely Karl talks about Melenis, the Dark Elven Woman who stole the Hron of the Dead from the Azracs, way back in AoW 1, and blew it as a last resort to escape the Azracs guards, thus awakening the undead

    #123908

    Draxynnic
    Member

    Your thread probably just dropped off the main page.

    The first part is pretty much as predicted – as time goes on, we’re going to see steady degradation of the seals until the Shadow World breaks loose. It’s not necessarily just going to happen purely as a rush for power, too – the Shadowborn are still out there (Werlac was called out as having survived the original campaign regardless, for instance) and for them breaking the seals will be their primary objective, not simply a means to power. (Well, arguably it still is a means of power, but the brief period of semi-godhood is not the power they’re looking for.)

    My expectation is that the seals within the Commonwealth and the Court will probably actually remain fairly well protected, since there’s unlikely to be fighting within those nations that would lead to someone wanting to break the seals, and the Torchbearers will probably act to protect those seals they become aware of. In various other places around the world that aren’t quite so civilised, though, things could be very different…

    Regarding Karl’s mistress… did you complete the optional quest regarding the undead? The common theory among the beta testers is that Karl’s mistress, and thus the engineer of these events, was Melenis’ shade – now probably back in corporeal form. Now, Melenis never held wizardly power, so she doesn’t represent a return of the Wizard Kings – it’s possible that Melenis was somehow being held back by the seals in some other sense (this is something I bit my tongue on previously with the discussion of the possibility that the seals are holding back more than just the shadow world – you rightly pointed out that some things obviously can be summoned into Athla from outside, but this event suggested that the ghost of someone who died in AoW1 was also blocked from returning by the seal). Alternatively, it could be that Melenis was only interested in the Seals as something to siphon off power for her resurrection from – the other properties of the Seals didn’t matter to her except as a power source.

    #123919

    Ravenholme
    Member

    Unfortunately, I guess I didn’t complete the quest. I chased down the two Undead spawners near the starting area (The one underground and the one to the South East), but after clearing them I found no way to proceed, and a Cherub had found the prime seals by then so I just pursued victory (because Groshak and Yzzo were getting close to take one each themselves). In fact, I am quite sad that the constraints of having to deal with the Seals prevented me really from exploring the map very much.

    I suspect the Frostling or Tigran campaigns will revolve around one of those factions invading the Blessed Continent with the express purpose of beginning to break some of the lesser seals, especially the Frostlings, as I imagine Artica is less than pleased about Meandor locking them in the Shadow Realm with Merlin’s collusion. I suspect that Werlac will be involved in this all some how (If he isn’t currently trying to foment another Brisska-style rebellion to break some seals).

    Melenis though? Hm, a possibility I hadn’t considered. The narration does seem to suggest that the Seals exclusively act to block the connection between Athla and the Shadow Realm, but it is possible that the power of the Seals might be used to forge a connection with some other plane of existence, perhaps to resurrect some angry, desperate shade from wherever the dead go (such as Melenis).

    On another note, I suspect that Karl Hushwick may be one of the first Leaders to appear in the roster twice, as I suspect his undead form will return down the line as a Necromancer leader or Hero.

    #123930

    Melnerag
    Member

    I should replay AoW1 and AoW2 and SM one day, it was so long ago that I knew nothing about Melenis. However that name being dropped in connection to the undead, and Karl being undead…seems to point in that direction.

    What are your bets on the next DLC, not specifically, but:
    1. Will it pick up on Torchbearers versus the bad guys
    2…or will it let us play as another character on the side (Tigrans!?) and let the story unfold away from Elven Court and the Commonwealth?

    I hope for the latter.

    #123936

    Ravenholme
    Member

    I should replay AoW1 and AoW2 and SM one day, it was so long ago that I knew nothing about Melenis. However that name being dropped in connection to the undead, and Karl being undead…seems to point in that direction.

    What are your bets on the next DLC, not specifically, but:<br>
    1. Will it pick up on Torchbearers versus the bad guys<br>
    2…or will it let us play as another character on the side (Tigrans!?) and let the story unfold away from Elven Court and the Commonwealth?

    I hope for the latter.

    I suspect the next DLC will be Frostlings or Tigrans, and I suspect that they will, either with the Shadowborn’s blessing or perhaps unaware of what they are doing be trying to bring back their Wizard Kings from the Shadow Realm by going after the Seals, personally.

    However, Melenis/Undead Karl points to a new and interesting wrinkle that I’m not quite sure how it fits into the overall puzzle of the conspiracy to reconnect Athla and the Shadow Realm.

    However, if it is the Frostlings, I expect it will revolve around a re-invasion of the Blessed Continent from the Tundra and Polar Regions they retreated to. (If it is the Tigrans, I suspect that it will take place in the areas to the south of Ralikesh)

    #123940

    Melnerag
    Member

    Is there a world map with region names? I’ve tried looking for a while but couldn’t find a good overview.

    I personally thing it would be interesting to have a campaign as the ‘bad guys’. Tigrans trying to bring back Yaka, with the Shadowsworn urging them on and providing aid behind the scenes and the Torchbearers trying to stop them.

    #123944

    Ravenholme
    Member

    Is there a world map with region names? I’ve tried looking for a while but couldn’t find a good overview.

    I personally thing it would be interesting to have a campaign as the ‘bad guys’. Tigrans trying to bring back Yaka, with the Shadowsworn urging them on and providing aid behind the scenes and the Torchbearers trying to stop them.

    That is exactly how I hope the Frostling or Tigran campaigns will go. A high-minded crusade, presented sympathetically, to get your old leader out of a terrible situation. Only what you’re doing is setting out to reconnect the Shadow Realm with Athla.

    As for the world maps, the only ones available really are the ones in the Age of Wonders 3 campaign intros, which you can sort of cross-reference with those from AoW 2 and SM (Especially SM since Sunbirth Citadel is marked out on that). They don’t match up perfectly though, because the Blessed Continent got a proper shape to it in AoW3 which it didn’t really have before

    #123959

    Draxynnic
    Member

    My gut feeling is that a coordinated attack on the seals is likely to come from the Frostlings. First, because the frostlings already have an implied connection to the Shadowborn (Commonwealth 1) as well as a reason to have a major bone to pick with the Commonwealth. Second, the frostlings seemed to have much more loyalty to Artica than the tigrans did to Yaka – there were tigrans who were unhappy with Yaka right from the start of AoW2, and the break only got wider in SM.

    Depending on how Triumph wants to split it up what I could see happening is Melenis turning on where the Tigrans went to in order to carve out her own empire – and in the meantime, seals get broken, either because Melenis was after them or the tigrans didn’t know any better. Then we get the frostling/Shadowborn invasion to blow everything open. Alternatively, the frostling/Shadowborn action, possibly aided by Melenis, might happen first, and then the resulting shadow portal turns out to open up in tigran territory…

    (Incidentally, from your last post, I’m not sure if you’re aware of the existence of the AoW1 map or not, which had the Blessed Continent and a bit of what is now called Ralikesh. It looks like the shape of the land has changed a bit in between – we can probably blame wizardly wars for that.)

    Unfortunately, I guess I didn’t complete the quest. I chased down the two Undead spawners near the starting area (The one underground and the one to the South East), but after clearing them I found no way to proceed, and a Cherub had found the prime seals by then so I just pursued victory (because Groshak and Yzzo were getting close to take one each themselves). In fact, I am quite sad that the constraints of having to deal with the Seals prevented me really from exploring the map very much.

    There’s another cave entrance roughly midway on the line from your easternmost starting city and the westernmost seal, which has a strong undead stack on a ruined necropolis. When you see them, a message will be flashed, and they’ll initially appear friendly (green), unless that’s been changed. Kill them, and you’ll get some additional dialogue and the quest will complete.

    The stack is fairly wraith-heavy, so physical-reliant halflings might have some problems with them, but if you build Ham for anti-undead work you should be able to take them out. Particularly if you just concentrate on doing that rather than trying to take the Seals.

    (Another thing that I’m tempted to try sometime, incidentally, is taking out the enemy leaders the old-fashioned way. I managed to knock Groshak pretty heavily on the back foot before I went for the seals myself – I reckon that if I took my seal troops and attacked Groshak and Yzzo instead, I could probably have ultimately beaten them.)

    #123968

    Ravenholme
    Member

    Unfortunately, I missed the boat on AoW 1, so I wasn’t aware of its map.

    And I have also been tempted to replay the final mission and take out Groshak and Yzzo the old fashioned way.

    (I also find it interesting that Groshak’s presence there likely follows on from his desertion if Sundren decides to pursue the Torchbearer’s route. Long suspected that both Groshak and Dwemus Strongmouth were Shadowborn sleeper agents, given how each tries to lead the respective protagonist astray)

    #124054

    Draxynnic
    Member

    Yeah, I had a similar interpretation of Groshak – but it’s also interesting to note that Groshak and Yzzo were competing for the seals, and Yzzo is a known Shadowborn. It could simply be that for reasons unknown Groshak simply really hates the Commonwealth – so when it becomes clear that Sundren and the Court weren’t going to go all the way and bring it down, Groshak went looking for a way to do it himself.

    I’d have to say that I have suspicions about Valery too. She makes nice at the end of the CW campaign… But then uses that to get close to Sundren. And her reason for being at Melenis’ tower just at the right time never really added up for me.

    #124055

    ed57ve
    Member

    anyone noticed that the 2nd mission was all a easter egg about heart of darkness and apocalipsis now? now i can compare ham binger to martin sheen character 😛

    kudos to triumph for that

    #124070

    Ravenholme
    Member

    Yeah, I had a similar interpretation of Groshak – but it’s also interesting to note that Groshak and Yzzo were competing for the seals, and Yzzo is a known Shadowborn. It could simply be that for reasons unknown Groshak simply really hates the Commonwealth – so when it becomes clear that Sundren and the Court weren’t going to go all the way and bring it down, Groshak went looking for a way to do it himself.

    I’d have to say that I have suspicions about Valery too. She makes nice at the end of the CW campaign… But then uses that to get close to Sundren. And her reason for being at Melenis’ tower just at the right time never really added up for me.

    Ah, you are possibly correct about Groshak’s motivations for being there, given Yzzo’s presence. Dwemus is still, definitely, a Shadowborn agent though.

    Valery I’m not actually too sure about, given that she does seem to fervently believe in the Commonwealth itself, and does help directly oppose Werlac. However, you’re right about her reasons for being at Melenis’ tower are somewhat suspect.

    However, if Valery is Shadowborn, that means that the Torchbearers are already riddled with their enemies in their ranks, even at the very top. (Which, actually, would be a good explanation for their inevitable failure)

    #124115

    Draxynnic
    Member

    Ah, you are possibly correct about Groshak’s motivations for being there, given Yzzo’s presence. Dwemus is still, definitely, a Shadowborn agent though.

    Even Dwemus works at cross-purposes with Carishar in mission 4, and from the Shadowborn perspective, was Edward’s rebellion really necessary when Leonus was already doing what they wanted?

    My interpretation is that the Shadowborn actually don’t get what they wanted whichever way the campaign goes. What they want is a long drawn-out war that exhausts both sides, while the two loyalist campaigns result in relatively quick victories that leaves the winning superpower stronger than before. The distinction is that in both cases, they’re able to formulate new plans to adapt the situation so they do win in the end (although the Court takes a lot longer to fall than the Commonwealth does – it seems that bringing down the Court takes quite a few generations among the other races to exaggerate the evil of what happened in the court loyalist arc). With a Torchbearer win… well, I guess we’ll see.

    Valery I’m not actually too sure about, given that she does seem to fervently believe in the Commonwealth itself, and does help directly oppose Werlac. However, you’re right about her reasons for being at Melenis’ tower are somewhat suspect.

    However, if Valery is Shadowborn, that means that the Torchbearers are already riddled with their enemies in their ranks, even at the very top. (Which, actually, would be a good explanation for their inevitable failure)

    There’s also the idea of the Commonwealth administration of the time – which was anti-Elven at best and outright members of the Shadowborn in many cases – would trust an elf to root out elven spies. My gut feeling is that her credentials came from Commonwealth Shadowborn (possibly the same that allowed Werlac to travel freely across the Commonwealth, something Edward comments on at one point) and that she was actually working for Werlac to begin with. When Edward gets to the Stone first, she becomes a sleeper agent – tasked to a) get what Werlac needs to find out from the Oscillator Stone*, and b) to push anyone who proves to be a match for Werlac on the battlefield away from a course of action that might lead to prevention of war between Court and Commonwealth.

    Her fanatical devotion to the Commonwealth is then part of her cover – a cover that already gives her an outward motive for hating and distrusting anything connected to the Court.

    Of course, it’s also possible that she is exactly what she appears to be.

    *It’s worth noting here, although it isn’t referenced in the campaign (it came about in a discussion regarding incompatibilities in the Court and Commonwealth campaign – turns out that even if you go Torchbearer for each, the course of events is not actually the same) that Werlac actually intended the Oscillator Stone to fall into the hands of the Commonwealth anyway – he just wanted to study it first. Basically, whichever character you’re not playing is an inferior general to when you are playing them – for instance, if you’re playing Sundren, then Edward’s campaign in Brisska takes longer, Werlac gets to the Oscillator Stone first, and the dwarf rebellion in Commonwealth 3 doesn’t happen.

    #124152

    Ravenholme
    Member

    Given Dwemus helping you against Carishar, I have to wonder if that is because of Carishar’s failure to re-open the Shadow Gate at Sunbirth Citadel, something we now know was (nearly?) impossible due to the effects of the Seals of Power. Given that was his true purpose and he hadn’t achieved it, perhaps he was deemed a worthy sacrifice to create an Athla weakened by the loss of the Elven Court, with a completely oblivious new Emperor at its helm.

    (Also, the meeting of Sundren and Edward in their respective Torchbearer branches seems to suggest that their campaigns have happened relatively the same way as when you play them up to that point, especially as Edward and Sulthor then go on to the Archipelago and Sundren wth Bormac to the Dwarven place)

    #124187

    Draxynnic
    Member

    Yeah, it’s possible. Another possibility is that they decided Carishar was too stupid to live for attacking Edward after Larissa’s death (otherwise, Edward may have simply left) and threw him under the bus, with Dwemus thrown in as a contingency plan. Still, either way, the impression I get is that the Shadowborn wanted a drawn-out war – more like WW1 than the WW2 blitzkrieg campaigns you see in the loyalist campaigns. For instance, Werlac deliberately allowed the Commonwealth to get the Oscillator Stone, likely having a good idea of what they’d do with it – he probably felt that the result would be a) allowing the Commonwealth to stand against the elves (note that humans have come across second-best against the elves pretty much every time they’ve clashed since the elves recovered from the shock of the fall of Inioch’s court), b) give the elves added incentive to fight the Commonwealth without asking questions (they’re draining the land’s magic!) and c), well, the contingency that if the CW gets a quick win, they’ll drain magic and then not have it later when they need it.

    However, I think even the CW win ultimately puts off the Shadowborn victory. The loyalist campaigns still leave one superpower to fight the invasion – they just don’t quite have the ability to do so successfully. The ideal scenario for the shadowborn, though, was for both empires to exhaust one another so there’s no resistance. Imagine WW1, except where instead of coming in on the side of the Allies, the US waited for another year until the belligerants were thoroughly worn down before launching an invasion of Europe as a whole (after having secured permission from Spain to use their ports). That said, though, destroying one is still a win in their books, just not the ideal.

    And yeah, the campaigns are mostly similar regardless of branch. However, you’ll notice that certain events get referenced directly or indirectly in the opposite campaign – in Edward’s side, for instance, the elven attack on the Pool of Origins and the Xablor rebellion is mentioned, and we see the map update with Ralikesh as Elven Court. However, when playing Sundren, only the pacification of Brisska is mentioned directly, and the effect of the Oscillator Stone is obliquely mentioned in Ralikesh. However, there’s no mention of the dwarven rebellion. The reason is because if you’re playing Sundren, it simply doesn’t happen. In fact, if you did take both campaigns as accurate either way, then you end up with the amazing Gustav Gorsmog who manages to die in two different places simultaneously.

    The reason the rebellion happens is because when you’re playing Edward, you manage to retrieve the Oscillator Stone before Werlac got a chance to study it – so he manipulated the dwarfs to rebel hoping that it would lead to a second chance to get at the Stone. If you’re playing Sundren, Edward is a little less competant, and Werlac gets to the Stone first, learns what he wants to from it, and then leaves it for Edward to find.

    We haven’t been given any indication on whether there are significant changes to Sundren’s campaign if you play Edward. I think the same broad events happen, but Sundren only has to face Voraditious in Xablor, and of course whichever character you’re not playing takes longer to reach the final showdown. Additionally, if you’re playing Edward, then Sundren doesn’t manage to get Julia to join the Torchbearers for the final showdown (I think the explanation was that since Sundren is delayed when you’re playing Edward, Julia doesn’t find out that Sundren is there until after the window of opportunity for her to join in has passed).

    #124195

    Ravenholme
    Member

    The Loyalist endings seem to imply that a Unified Court or Commonwealth state can’t stand against whatever is unleashed from the Shadow Realm either way when it finally happens, which makes me believe that in the Loyalist paths, the Shadowborn change their gameplan to a longer one with an easier pay off for them (They get the idealistic Sundren/Edward to do their dirty work and get a state that they can work in with near complete freedom because the new rulers believe the Shadowborn to be thwarted).

    The Loyalist endings also have worrying references to whatever came through being able to turn their defeated against them. Which either references Shadow Demons or Necromancers (Strengthening the Melenis connection). However, I do think the big thing coming from the Shadow Realm being Necromancers would be… anti-climactic, because the Undead as villains has been done to death in the Age of Wonders universe, and I’m hoping for something with a bit more bombast than “Not the undead, again…”.

    #124199

    vota dc
    Member

    Melenis was allied with Frostling from the first game during the Dwarves Campaign, so they know that they can trust her since Dwarves stolen their mining outpost in AOW 1 and were one of the most prominent race of the Commonwealth guilty of expelling Frostlings, maybe she promised them to find a way to free Artica.

    #124226

    Draxynnic
    Member

    The Loyalist endings seem to imply that a Unified Court or Commonwealth state can’t stand against whatever is unleashed from the Shadow Realm either way when it finally happens, which makes me believe that in the Loyalist paths, the Shadowborn change their gameplan to a longer one with an easier pay off for them (They get the idealistic Sundren/Edward to do their dirty work and get a state that they can work in with near complete freedom because the new rulers believe the Shadowborn to be thwarted).

    Actually, if you look at the Court Loyalist ending, Sundren knew full well that the Shadowborn were still a threat, and continued waging a secret war against them. This is probably why the Court Loyalist ending lasted a lot longer than the Commonwealth Loyalist ending (the latter falls within Edward’s natural lifespan, the former is at least implied to be at least a few centuries after the fall of the Commonwealth). The problem that loyalist Sundren has is that she loses the hearts and minds of the other races – the Shadowborn, using the fate of the humans, manage to undermine trust in elven leadership so that when the invasion came, the elves stood alone.

    I suspect the Shadowborn also made use of Sundren’s spy war to pull off that outcome – the people that Sundren’s agents picked up may have been completely guilty, but when agents of the elven Rogue Princess/Queen are dragging off random people to an unknown fate, that’s easy to spin towards distrust of the figure responsible. With Sundren continuing a campaign against a threat only she can see, it’d be easy for the Shadowborn to manipulate that in the court of public opinion as ‘the Elf Queen is paranoid and delusional and a threat to you all!’

    The Loyalist endings also have worrying references to whatever came through being able to turn their defeated against them. Which either references Shadow Demons or Necromancers (Strengthening the Melenis connection). However, I do think the big thing coming from the Shadow Realm being Necromancers would be… anti-climactic, because the Undead as villains has been done to death in the Age of Wonders universe, and I’m hoping for something with a bit more bombast than “Not the undead, again…”.

    Not necessarily, actually.

    It’s kinda lost in AoW2 where the undead are effectively just tools of black magic users, but the AoW1 undead were presented pretty much as the legions of Hell, the evil that the archons see as their mission to fight. It could be quite big if the big bad turns out to be the power behind that particular invasion – in previous installments the war between the archons and their enemies has been pretty much purely background to what’s happening on Athla, but for that war to reach center stage would be epic.

    However, the likelihood of that scenario is that it won’t just be undead. Instead, undead might be just part of the forces the Big Bad has available – shadow demons may be another arm of the same threat, there’s the possibility for conventional infernal demons to show up (as there was one type represented in the AoW1 undead lineup) and maybe other things as well. So not just undead again, but something bigger and more powerful that happens to regard the undead as a tool.

    Melenis was allied with Frostling from the first game during the Dwarves Campaign, so they know that they can trust her since Dwarves stolen their mining outpost in AOW 1 and were one of the most prominent race of the Commonwealth guilty of expelling Frostlings, maybe she promised them to find a way to free Artica.

    I don’t think she was allied with them so much as manipulating them. Still, it might be possible for her to manipulate them in a similar way again, especially if they’ve forgotten her or never realised they had been made pawns to begin with.

    #124244

    vota dc
    Member

    I think they never realised they were manipulated because Dwarves won so Melenis couldn’t backstab Frostlings. Of course since Melenis lead them to the defeat they stopped to follow her, but with Commonwealth on the offensive and the disappearance of many wizards included Artica make them desperate.

    #124254

    The Loyalist ending are awesome.

    I replayed the final Commonwealth one…man what a way to end, so dark, so gloomy, reminds me of the Cult leader ending if you sided with the Undead.

    Here is the last story bit.

    #124272

    vota dc
    Member

    The Cult leader ending if you choose the loyalist path you mean, if you choose Undead he doesn’t try a desperate resistance, he hasn’t much to complain (expecially compared with Highmen and Dark Elves endings) and there isn’t any enemy that was hidden for some years plotting to detronize the main character.

    #124588

    Ravenholme
    Member

    Given the article that suggests Frostlings and Tigrans are high on the list of races to make a comeback, and we’ve already discussed at length how Frostlings are likely to make their return (Connection to Melenis, also Artica stuck out in the Shadow Realms), I’d like to ask how people, and especially Draxynic, feel the Tigrans would return? I think this is a more complex question than it first appears because of the description of the Watcher unit, where Ham the Wanderer had gone in search of a Tigran friend of his, only to find their cities completely abandoned, barring the Watcher itself.

    So, why did they disappear? Given their ties to Yaka (weakening as they were), are they likely to be seeking the return of the Wizard Kings?

    #124590

    So, why did they disappear? Given their ties to Yaka (weakening as they were), are they likely to be seeking the return of the Wizard Kings?

    hmn, well, they had just rejected yaka and had their own wizard king, so they probably fled to warmer lands when the wizards lost their terraforming power. I suspect that they might be paired with the frostlings, so you have a “fire and ice” dynamic.

    They would also probably like to take the new draconian homeland from Reksar, although the Dragons will probably have something to say about that.

    The torchbearers are going to be quite tough, since they have two dragon peaks, and support from high ups in both the commonwealth and the Elven court.

    #124719

    Draxynnic
    Member

    It’s also possible that, since the events of the main campaign, many of the Torchbearer territories got reabsorbed into the Court and Commonwealth, with the Torchbearers themselves reorganising as a kind of fantasy NGO or even UN-like body. Under this circumstance, odds would be pretty good that Ralikesh would have formally reverted to Elven Court, albeit with a certain amount of autonomy within that body (probably similar to what the halflings and dwarfs presumably had under Inioch).

    Otherwise, tigrans are a bit of a tabula rasa, since we don’t really know where they’ve gone or how their society has progressed. Unless they found their own way off Athla (which would majorly throw off any predictions based on their remaining on Athla) likely they’d have gone either east (into the Athlan equivalent of Asia) or south (into the Athlan equivalent of subsaharan Africa). Either way, I’m kinda hoping that in the move (and possibly part of the reason for the move) they’ve discovered that actually they prefer some other feature to deserts, so we don’t get another tropical/barrens race.

    I think one of the main themes with the tigrans is likely to be their ambivalent relationship with Yaka. As I’ve mentioned before, there were tigran rebels as early as Fire 2 in Wizard’s Throne, and Perses (the tigran wizard in Shadow Magic, if I’ve remembered his name correctly) is extremely anti-Yaka. My gut feeling is that we’re likely to see the mainstream of tigran society on Athla following Perses’ line of thought and rejecting Yaka, while those that did remain loyal to Yaka followed him into the Shadow Realm. However, I could see some tigrans having a romantic yearning for the ‘good old days’ when they were the scourge of human nations under the leadership of a powerful wizard, rather than abandoning their former homes in the face of possible Commonwealth aggression (and, in fact, wanting to reclaim those territories for the principal of the matter, even if they are more comfortable where they are). Such an undercurrent of Yaka-sympathisers could be exploited by Melenis or the Shadowborn (assuming that Melenis is not herself Shadowborn) in order to trigger a tigran civil war, or at least to recruit followers from within the tigran nation to go on a holy war for the Scarlet Destroyer elsewhere.

    What role the tigrans actually end up playing is something that I think would depend, at least in part, on two things:

    1) Which direction the tigrans actually went (I’ll get to this in a moment).

    2) Which ends up stronger in the end – the frostlings, or the tigran recruits that the Shadowborn are able to gather.

    The first point is significant because at this stage, I suspect the Shadowborn essentially have two strategic goals. One is to break as many seals as possible – this may be something they can do anywhere (it may be their initial objective in getting involved with the tigrans – because seals broken in a land that isn’t in communication with the Blessed Continent is unlikely to tip off the Torchbearers). The other is that at some stage they’ll probably want to seize Sunbirth Citadel in order to have another go at reopening the portal – and this is where the location of the tigrans matter. If they’re east, this puts them in a good position to strike. If they’re south… not so much.

    The second point is, I think, important because if we presume that the majority of the Shadowborn forces are of these two races (although they could also be recruiting orcs, goblins, and draconians that aren’t associated with either superpower as well) then they’re not really suitable to operating in the same theater. Tigrans would be better suited to striking the hotter regions to the south, and frostlings to hit northern territories. Thus, a likely strategy for the Shadowborn would be to create a diversion on one front with the weaker force in order to draw forces away from the other, then launching the main invasion from the opposite side. My prediction is that the shortest attack path to Sunbirth will conveniently be the one that proves to be stronger – so if the tigrans are to the east, the frostlings will be the diversion, and if the tigrans are to the south, they will be the diversion. If I had to bet, I’d expect the campaign flow to be such that the tigrans act as the diversion – if there’s a single campaign rather than a tigran-oriented one and a frostling-oriented one, then it could start with a tigran civil war in order to break seals (leading to a quick victory for the Yaka-sympathisers due to the effect of breaking the seals), then the diversionary attack, and then switch over to the north for the frostling invasion.

    So, to summarise, my expectations for the tigran role in a combined tigran+frostling expansion would be the following:

    1) The tigrans will not have a united opinion regarding Yaka. Most will have turned away from him, but some will still have nostalgia for his time in power (think of the personality cults in countries that have mostly overcome their past for former dictators).

    2) Seals in locations that are not in communication with the Torchbearers represent target that can be claimed without alerting the Torchbearers. Some such seals will likely turn out to be in tigran lands.

    3) Yaka-sympathisers among the tigrans will be recruited, and used as part of a one-two punch with a frostling attack from the north – one serving as a diversion for the other.

    This is, of course, assuming that both are introduced in the same expansion. If they come separately, that changes the base assumptions, although I could see a similar general series of events playing out but split into two campaigns.

    #124747

    Ravenholme
    Member

    They could strike towards Sunbirth Citadel from the South by going wide around the ocean. It really depends what Ralikesh does (geographically speaking) once it is off the map as presented in the Age of Wonders 3 campaign (just loaded up the Commonwealth campaign to stare at the map).

    However, there is that whole area east of Sunbirth Citadel that is so far unused, and I don’t think it has featured in the Age of Wonders universe so far.

    #124763

    Draxynnic
    Member

    By Ralikesh, I presume you mean the Africa-standin continent south of the Blessed Continent, right? (Incidentally, I’ve taken screenshots from the end of the Commonwealth and Shadow Magic campaigns so I can compare the maps without having to go into the game all the time. Probably should do the same with the original Age of Wonders map, although that’s easier to find online. Well, a little easier.)

    (Incidentally, the AoW3 map is DEFINITELY tilted about an hour counterclockwise compared to the AoW1 and Shadow Magic maps.

    The map as currently presented shows it going pretty much directly south at roughly the same longitude as Rockshoal Islands. Of course, it could extend further east south of the border of the map.

    There are two complications I see towards striking at Sunbirth from the east:

    First, the southeastern portion of the map is dominated by a large, Commonwealth-dominated peninsular that any strike at Sunbirth from the south would have to navigate around. (The contents of this peninsular are, incidentally, a mystery – Meandor’s second mission is at the join, but we’ve never been down the peninsular itself, making it something that Triumph can do whatever they like with if it’s used.) Any naval expedition would either have to take it or navigate around it. Once you’ve gone around that, there’s a big chunk of land between the southern coast and Sunbirth – if your landing point isn’t so far east as to come off the AoW3 map, in fact, the landing point may even be closer to Stronghelm than Sunbirth. While we don’t know what’s going on at the eastern border in general, my gut feeling that being that close to the capital is asking for your invasion force to face pretty stiff resistance.

    In some games, I could see this being a way to drag out the campaigns – take the peninsular than push up towards Sunbirth from there. However, Triumph seems to generally try to give campaign scenarios more meaning than ‘take this territory so there’s less territory between you and your true objective’ – the loyalist campaigns, for instance, used teleporters as a macguffin so you could go for your enemy’s capital without having to blunt-force through half their territory. Instead, they prefer to give each scenario a distinct objective of its own.

    Of course, teleporters could also be used to allow an attack on Sunbirth without crossing lots of ground in the meantime, but that’s a macguffin I’d prefer to be used sparingly. By contrast, a naval Frostling attack could theoretically come in on the eastern side of the gulf next to Brisska, and only have a small amount of Commonwealth land to cross before reaching Sunbirth, or come down through the mountains north of Sunbirth – either way, the area is small enough that it could conceivably be handled in one scenario, starting from copying over the features of the relatively small existing Sunbirth map.

    #124780

    @ Drax, if you could upload that map with appropriate arrows to illustrate your point I for one would be grateful.

    #124790

    Draxynnic
    Member

    Attached!

    Tigran routes are in orange, frostling routes in ice blue (seemed fitting). The frostling label ended up being orange text – I obviously switched colours while the text box was still active, and by the time I noticed I couldn’t be bothered fixing it.

    Also marked:

    Note those lines radiating out from the Valley of Wonders? From cross-referencing with the AoW1 and SM maps, I’ve marked where I think the cardinal points are. As some explanations as to why I think the map is tilted: 1. According to the SM map (which had a compass on it) Stronghelm was considerably further south compared to the Valley of Wonders than it is shown here, and 2. On the AoW1 map, the river (or is it a large fjord?) that runs south of Tollrock Woods is pretty much horizontal. (Interestingly, if you compare the locations of landmarks, the Shadow Magic map possibly covered a larger area than the AoW1 map.)

    The approximate location where I believe the Ashen Steppe was located, through cross-referencing with the AoW1 map.

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