The Realms of Chaos
Your Wizard’s Journey
You begin the game as a level 1 apprentice with a small bag of gold and a meagre selection of spells. Your objective is to increase your power and knowledge by exploring the Realms of Chaos. You may also aspire to ascend social ranks from Wizard Lord all the way up to God, but this is not obligatory. Your wizard level actually represents your mastery of magic, and determines the highest level of magical equipment you can use. You still have to find this equipment, and you must also find spellbooks to increase your repertoire of magic spells. All these things can be found in the Realms of Chaos.
Into the Realms
Access to the Realms is governed by portals on the planet of Limbo. New portals are opening every day, and others are closing. You can choose which realm to enter from the available portals, provided the mastery level of the Wizard King that rules it does not exceed your own by too much, otherwise the challenge would be too high. But you can, to some extent, select the level of challenge and risk that you desire.
You will enter a Realm at the main portal tower, and will see some of your surrounding terrain. In game terms, the realm is divided into hexes which represent large regions of land that have various terrain types - forest, mountain, plains, sea, etc. and terrain features - towns, citadels, ruins, wizard towers, and so on. Imagine something like Civilization 5 with its fog, and this will be the view you have.
The Wizard King
The Wizard King rules the realm from his palace, and his loyal servants, the Wizard Lords, protect the most valuable regions in the realm. Your initial objective is to seek out all the Wizard Lords and defeat them in battle. Once bereft of his minions the Wizard King must defend his honour and is obliged to face you in a magical duel. If you defeat him you will win certainly win treasure, gold and magical artefacts before being sucked back through the portal to Limbo, your quest complete.
So this seems simple and straightforward, no? Actually, the King is not twiddling his thumbs while you wreck his kingdom. It is his job to guard his realm against adventuring wizards and prevent looting by such unauthorised intruders. Thus he has access to high magic powered by mana fluxes, in particular a banishing spell. It takes time to cast such a powerful spell, but once the incantations are complete you will be banished, thrust back to Limbo, never to return to that Realm again. This means that you have limited time to complete your exploration and win your battles, and you must plan ahead to make use of every opportunity and ally that may come your way.
The Defence of the Realm
A Wizard Lord may be protecting a region with a special structure or feature. Here are the main ones you need to consider:
Mana Fluxes: The High Magic of the Banishing Spell is fueled by a type of magical energy drawn from deep underground via magical structures known as Mana Fluxes. A Wizard Lord controlling a region with a Mana Flux directly contributes towards the progress of the Banishing Spell. Defeating the guardian of a Mana Flux can therefore slow down the progress of the Banishing Spell and give you more time for exploration. The King’s Palace itself always has a Mana Flux, so you can never be safe forever, but otherwise neutralising these regions will probably be your main strategic objective.
Citadels: Wizard Lords controlling a Citadel have structures dedicated to Binding Spells, another form of High Magic that requires much time and dedication. In practice this means that each Citadel may contribute to binding creatures and monsters in preparation for battle. Over time, creatures will be summoned and bound, and the Wizard King will use the bound creatures to defend critical regions and ultimately his own Palace. In battle, bound creatures will there from the start without your opponent having to summon them via his staff, giving him an initial advantage. Taking down Citadels will be another major strategic objective.
Ruins: Fragments of temples and palaces from the Old World are often discovered after the formation of new Realm worlds. The ruins of these buildings often hide rare artefacts, such as spellbooks and parchments (fragments of ancient books). By defeating a Wizard Lord guarding Ruins you are highly likely to gain valuable artefacts and spells to build your power for the battles to come.
Battles and Their Consequences
When you enter a region containing a Wizard Lord you will be deployed in a procedurally generated battle arena with terrain based on the realm hex type e.g. a mountain region will have a rocky, uneven arena. If you defeat the Wizard Lord you will gain some reward, which could be gold, a treasure, a spellbook, an equipment item, and so on. If it is a draw, you will have to retreat from the region and the Lord remains. If you are killed, you are reconstituted at the nearest Wizard Tower where the Alchemists maintain the sub-portals that connect back to Limbo. If you pay the Alchemists a fee, they will re-bind you to the realm, otherwise you will continue back to Limbo, never to return.
The Artificial Intelligence used for the Wizard Lords and King is a very important part of the experience. Each enemy wizard has a distinct tactical personality that is partly based on their equipment/spell selection, and also partly based on the personality of the King. You will experience different types of play style from different wizards, so you will not get predictable opponents. You should, however, get a sense of the style and personality of the King. He could be, for example very aggressive, biased to Chaos and likes to use a lot of illusions. On the other hand he might be cautious but temperamental, adopting a defensive stance at the beginning of battle, but flying into an aggressive rage if he feels like he has lost the upper hand. His lords would tend to reflect his style since the king is their leader and mentor.
During battle you will earn Experience Points (XP) for casting spells, killing creatures and defeating enemy wizards. You can also trade in magical items - equipment, spellbooks, parchments - for XP at a Wizard Tower. Levelling up your wizard allows you to level up your equipment to your new wizard level. In order to level up equipment you must enter its ‘inner realm’ and fight magical battles against item guardians, which are powerful and unusual sorcerers with rather special traits.
Here is where the real adventuring flavour is found. While on your travels it is possible to encounter some of the local population of the realm. These encounters can have a somewhat unpredictable outcome - they may be hazardous, or they may be beneficial. For example, while travelling through a mountain pass you may stumble upon a dragon cave. If you choose to enter, you may get lost for a day, or you may find some of the dragon’s treasure and steal it. You may also encounter the dragon himself, and he will offer to join you as an ally for an appropriate sum of gold. Another possibility is a hermit’s house deep in the forest. The hermit turns out to be a wizard who will become your ally provided you smite his nemesis, a Wizard Lord who lives in the nearby mountains. Or you could find a Goblin camp in the middle of a swamp. If you choose to enter it, the Goblins may rob you and take some of your gold, or they might offer a squad of three mercenary Goblins to accompany you for a fee. In general, encounters provide some good opportunities for gaining allies.
Creature allies will travel with you and will be deployed with your wizard in battle. You can move and attack with them as if they were one of your summoned creatures. If a creature ally is killed, he is lost to you forever. A wizard ally is a more powerful and flexible companion. He can travel with you, or move separately in the Realm map, which can speed up your exploration and your Wizard Lord clearance rate. Wizard allies will have their own encounters, and it is possible for them to have their own creature allies. They can also recruit more Wizard allies, using any gold you may have given them in addition to their fee. You may donate gold and equipment to an ally, but you can’t take it back. If a wizard ally joins you in a battle he will have his own turn, but you control him in the same way that you control your own wizard. A wizard ally killed in battle will be lost forever - they cannot resurrect.
Towns are a safe haven for travelling wizards, with a variety of useful services and opportunities. Here are some the things you can find here:
Equipment: Staffs, hats, robes can sometimes be bought. They are permanent items which can be equipped and become part of the wizard’s inventory.
Wizard ally: A wizard which may be hired for a fee.
Map: Reveals the entire map, with Lord locations. A rare and expensive item, but very useful.
Orb: A magical artefact which stores a certain number of charges of a particular spell. It’s a realm bound item, meaning that it cannot be taken from the realm
Spellbook: Allows a wizard to add a spell to his spell library
Sea Passage: If the town is a coastal town, then a sea passage may be bought to other coastal towns. Sea passage is important for realms which are split into islands.
Mountain guide: A guide to allow movement through a specific mountain range, which is revealed on the map.
Rumours: These can be bought for a small fee from the local taverns. They reveal the location and type of an encounter near the town. This can be very helpful to plan your optimal route through the realm.
Market: You can sell treasures and equipment for gold.
Several wizard towers will be spread across the land. They are the first structures constructed in a newly discovered realm, and they are maintained by Alchemists guilds. The Alchemists are somewhat distrustful of wizards, and actively dislike the lords and kings that dominate the realms, but they will always offer their services for a fee. Here are some of the things that wizard towers provide:
Far sight: Entering a wizard tower will allow you to see 3 hexes distance in the realm map instead of 2.
Teleport: For a fee you can instantly teleport to another connected wizard tower in the land (not all towers are connected to each other, and some might have no connections).
Learn Spell: While in the realms, spellbooks can only be converted to actual spells by studying at a wizard tower. It takes 1 day to learn a spell.
Improve Equipment: Each item of equipment can be levelled up individually, and this is done at wizard towers.
Resurrection: After defeat in battle you can be resurrected at the nearest wizard tower for a fee.
Books of the ancients
Sometimes you will find an ancient parchment which is a fragment of a story from a book written by people of the old world. If you collect all the parchments belonging to a book you will complete the story and reconstitute the book. These are magical books that can unlock hidden realms which contain rare and powerful magical artefacts and spells. Sometimes you will need to solve a puzzle by reading the book and deciphering its clues before it can unlock the secret realm.
If you manage to acquire a map of the realm you can take it back to Limbo and sell it to other players, or donate it to a guild member. As you journey through the realm you can annotate the map by linking a short piece of text to a hex location in the map. This could be helpful advice for other adventurers. Maps can exchange hands several times with annotations written by many authors. They could become definitive guides for a realm.
You can play a realm in co-op mode with a friend or guild member. In this case you will begin with your ally in the main portal tower. You may travel together or split up. Allies allow you, and in fact require you, to pick more challenging realms than would be attempted solo. The rewards of battle go to the main player, who may choose to give some to his ally.
Online and local mode
The Realms of Chaos system is designed for online play, even though it is primarily single-player. Anything you gain from a Realm can be used in multiplayer battles (in constructed mode) and equipment and artefacts can be traded with other players. There is an offline realm mode, which uses a local, offline wizard profile solely for this purpose. Realms are generated locally on your machine, and you can progress in the same way as with the online mode. However, you can’t use co-op with this mode, and you can’t trade anything with other players or participate in guilds and so on with the local wizard profile.