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The Ravages of Time and Lords

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The Ravages of Time and Lords

The Ravages of Time and Lords (TRoTaL) is a videogame based on the ever-popular series of novellas, The Elemenstor Cycle. In the game, you guide the main character, known only as "The Nameless Dread", through a series of 27 interlocking, yet visually unique environments in a quest to return the Skull of Crandaw to its resting place in the Vale of Union. Combining elements of both RPG and 3rd-person shooters, the game sold 4 million copies in the first week of release.


Act One

The game begins as you, the Nameless Dread, awaken from what seems to have been an eternal slumber. It is immediately made clear that you have no memories of your past, or even an inkling of who or what you are. You have in your posession two items- the Skull of Crandaw itself, and an axe that you simply know as "The Render." A powerful urge- indeed a voice- drives you to take the Skull of Crandaw and set off on a journey of epic proportions.

Within the first few 'missions', several things become abundantly clear. The voice that spoke to you, commanding you on your journey, begins to speak more loudly, and more frequently. (It also becomes clear that the venerable Christopher Lee was hired to voice the part.) Secondly, you come to know that you are nothing short of a killing machine. Warriors and monsters alike fall before your blade, although you aren't entirely sure why.

Act Two

Complications arise. The opposition becomes increasingly fierce and magical in nature. After several baffling encounters, it becomes clear that the shadowy Elemenstor Char Reyarteb has an interest in retrieving the Skull- using his minions of course. You continue to rip a blood laden trail through throngs of beasts and increasingly organized militias of men.

By this point in the game, strange and nonsensical flashbacks creep into the character's world. These beautifully rendered and deceptive scenes bleed into the reality of the world and hint that The Nameless Dread is from a world quite different from this one- or perhaps from its past?

A secondary, snakish voice (brilliantly voiced by Brian Blessed) has also been creeping its way into your mind. It suggests to you that you quit your journey- that you are being manipulated. Any attempt the player makes to try to follow the suggestions of this voice is met with inaction and a strange snarling from that voice- the mystery as to who you are and why you are on your quest deepens.

Act Three

The game comes to a thundering crescendo. The Earth itself seems to oppose your journey to the Vale of Union. The Render has become increasingly powerful in your journeys, but has become thirsty for violence.

In a particularly stunning scene, you knock over a precipice and destroy an entire army. Your flashbacks are increasingly frequent and severe. It becomes clear that you are indeed from the distant past, and that you were in your past life a horribly powerful and violent man. However, you are a man of deep regrets, and sadness over a lost wife and child tinges your actions.

As you reach the vale, you face one final challenge. You must face your own inner darkness and destroy it. The Christopher Lee voice, which has led you on your journey, extolls you to face your darkness and drive it out once and for all. The snakish voice tells you that the only way to defeat your darkness is to embrace it. (Embracing your darkness leads to the Bad Ending; see below. This is NOT canon and could be seen as an alternate timeline ending.)

After successfully defeating the darkness within, you enter the Vale and place Skull upon the Lost Seal of Elemenstation. You then receive the Good Ending.


Bad Ending

The 'alternate reality' ending in which you embrace your darkness. It ends with a cutscene of The Nameless Dread, as he walks from a razed city, towards a shadowy Elemenstor with a battlestaff that looks suspiciously like a snake.

Good Ending

The good ending resolves the backstory of The Nameless Dread. It is revealed that he was a cursed and terrible warrior who died thousands of years ago in trying to retrieve the Skull of Crandaw for his own purposes. He was apparently returned to life by the Elemenstations of a powerful but shadowy Elemenstor. The spell was also supposed to control The Nameless Dread, but this aspect depended on his inner darkness. Thanks to his own end-of-life contrition and regret, this was disrupted- and perhaps this was helped by the enchantments of the 'other' mysterious voice that guided him.

The ending gives only a bit of information about the mysterious voice that guided and protected The Nameless Dread. The identity of the voice is not directly revealed, but whoever it is has powerful ties to the Art of the Elemenstors and even the Elmether. Some have suggested that the voice could belong to one of the Hierarchs themselves, but this theory is generally rejected, as they are not thought to take such a direct hand in the world. Others have suggested that perhaps the voice is that of Harbinger Portent.

Gameplay Mechanics

Frantic Combat System (FCS)

The frantic combat system was predicated around making the game as accessible as possible. To accomplish these ends, combat revolved not just around what button you pressed, nor specific combinations, but rather combos were chained together through the frequency and rapidity with which buttons were hit, measured in Beats Per Minute (BPM). A bare minimum of 150 BPM was required to begin a combo, but once begin, the FCS took off. Due to the influences of Dadaist painters on the art team, the screen would fade to black and colour would return only to the screen as hits were landed in sequence. Combined with a heavy postcore-dark-motionwave techno soundtrack that would respond to the length and volability of the combo, and the potential for seizures was, to quote the developers themselves, "not inconsiderable".

The Epic Scale

One of the most exciting and original aspects of The Ravages of Time and Lords was its use of the 'Epic Scale', a literal moment-to-moment measurement of just how epic your adventure had become. This was implemented by displaying a bar on the upper right hand side of the screen. During the game's tutorial, it is explained that the minimum score on the scale represents a level of 'Epichood' roughly equivalent to a bad party anecdote. A full score on the 'Epic Scale' would place your adventure with the most Epic of epics- we're talking beyond the Illiad.

The 'Epic Scale' provides the gamer with a number of unique experiences. Notably, the soundtrack, camera work, and gameplay all responds in real-time to the player's level of Epichood. As the player steps up and takes actions on a grander scale, so too do his attacks become more Epic. The feat is accomplished using an advanced adaptive AI algorithm.

Only one individual has ever reached a full rating on the 'Epic Scale', a Japanese man named Hondo Ryuuichi- but the feat has never since been duplicated. It is rumored that Mr. Hondo went into a coma shortly after achieving this feat, which has lent support to the critics of the game (see below). No evidence for this story exists, however.


A certain outspoken anti-videogame lawyer criticized TRoTaL in a press conference, calling it a "death simulator, training kids to use their own Renders in homocidal killing-sprees." In addition, he compared its creators with "horrible alien Nazi-zombie cannibals from outer space," adding, "If you like horrible alien Nazi-zombie cannibals from outer space, then go ahead and support these idiotic gamers."

Movie Tie-In?

(IMDB lists Uwe Boll directing, with the film listed as currently being in post-production for a 2007 release)

(Not to be confused with Wizbits: The Movie)

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