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Endless Legend SSLP

M&F

tikitok
Pronoun
any


I am many things. I have been many things.


Warm and green,


cold and gray...


Devastated and dying.

Now I am alive again, but I fear my new children imitate the old ones.




Some claim the mountains or the forests, or build fortresses on the plains. They begin to mistrust, and prepare for war...

Still, I love them only as a mother can. And now I fear for them.





I feel the winds of change begin to blow... And this time, it may be an all-out storm. I pray that my children will weather this tempest; for nothing is immortal, and one day, they may have to survive without me...



-----

Endless Legend is a 4X game -- the genre best known for Age of Empires and the Civilization series. (see, it stands for "eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate". yes, that'd really make 4E; it's kind of stupid). You may have noticed that both of the examples given here are, in fact, really old. It definitely feels like it's been a long time since a new franchise has really set up shop in this genre... so, I got pretty excited when I heard about Humankind, a history-themed 4X that's expected to release next year, and is already looking amazing from the previews and trailers and whatnot. I am, in fact, hyped enough that I decided to sublimate the hype and temper my expectations by having a good look at another title from the same creators. And that is the story of how I got obssessed with Endless Legend, Amplitude Studios's 2014 entry into their science fantasy series, Endless.

Our setting is Auriga, a sentient planet on the verge of collapse. Natural disasters are all around, and the global-scale winters grow longer and harsher every year. Faced with these grim circumstances, the denizens of the world are driven into action, striving to survive both the cataclysm and, as it were, each other. As they look to the future, though, they'll often find themselves looking to the past instead. Many of the factions in this story have the mystery of their own origins to unravel. Besides, there's the matter of the Endless: the long-gone people who previously ruled over Auriga, so named for their enduring and perenially awe-inspiring works, which continue to affect the course of the planet's fate. Seeking their technology, or their mastery over the miraculous substance known as Dust, the current tribes of the world hope to unravel the lost history of their predecessors, so that the secrets they uncover may keep their heads above the rising ice.

Now, let's meet the factions!


For generations, these human clans have dwelled in a massive labyrinth below the surface of Auriga, where they lived off technologies that they barely understood, left behind by more advanced predecessors whose history they've forgotten. A colossal earthquake laid waste to this people's ancestral homes and forced them aboveground. The same events that disrupted their traditional lifestyles also unearthed much, however; secrets that were buried further beneath the ground, such as unfamiliar relics embalzoned with familiar emblems. And so, as these withdrawn people strive to adapt to a new life on the surface, they also have the rare chance to begin to discover who they really are.

A research-oriented, mine-dwelling people, the Vaulters' foremost unique ability is that of using Auriga's strategic resources as Holy Resources. One such can be designated at a time; each particular one activates its own set of bonuses. While a Holy Resource is active, the Vaulters also gain the ability to warp military units between their cities. They are a well-defended nation, prepared to stand up against the ravages of both aggressive neighbours and harsh winters.


An elven people who once lived in the forest, drawing on a peculiar power known as The Sharing -- by which they could transfer their consciousness into the bodies of wild animals. However, those who overindulged in this power would start to find themselves being controlled by the beasts, rather than the opposite. Between this phenomenon and the forewarning borne by ruinous and lengthening winters, the greater part of the nation has chosen to change their ways, leaving the woods and forswearing the Sharing in hopes of building a civilization that will prove itself equal to the land's ascending rigors.

As an unique ability, the Wild Walkers put their naturally honed senses to work, being able to detect enemies anywhere near the lands they control. Commanding swift and plentiful archers, they're able to readily respond to the threats that they spot in the distance. Besides this, their cities thrive more than most in their former home turf of the woodlands -- but the benefits they gain from these are only active outside of wintertime, so they must develop beyond having to rely on this boon if they hope to survive in the long term.


The Lords of the Amber Plains were once renowned as honourable knights. When their home was ravaged by a natural cataclysm, however, the only way they could survive was to submit to a gruesome sacrifice: they abandoned their human forms and lived on as haunted suits of armors, fed by nothing but Dust. To continue sustaining themselves, they can either gather and refine Dust from the environment -- which is challenging, expensive and time-consuming -- or simply drain the Dust directly from other sentient living beings -- which is quick, easy, cheap, and feels good. Now known as the Broken Lords, these knights face the greatest test of chivalry yet, and they might either retain their honour, or fully degrade into monstrous vampires.

This unique condition also translates to gameplay; the Broken Lords don't depend on the terrain's Food yields to grow and sustain their populations, and instead, use payouts of Dust to do so. Similarly, their military forces cannot spontaneously recover lost health over time, as others do, but must be restored through Dust. Although, they can also heal up off their defeated enemies in battle...


Overgrown insectoids who have swarmed Auriga since the time of the Endless, spreading plague and feasting on corpses. Primal and barely sentient, they feel nothing but a perennial hunger as they threaten to overrun the other species of the planet; they know nothing of diplomacy, trade, or coexistance, seeing other kinds as nothing more than their next meal.

With a subpar understanding of agriculture, the Necrophages draw less Food from the terrain than other factions do; however, when they go to battle, they take the corpses home -- both their enemies and their own -- and with each death, they can supplement their cities' population growth. Another noted quirk of this faction is that they're completely unable to enter alliances or even broker peace; they are always at least slightly hostile towards other empires.


A faction that lives on the saddle -- quite literally, as even their cities are settled on the backs of the colossal, hibernating desert beetles known as Setseke. Their wandering is far from aimless, however; what they always seem to be chasing from the back of their great mounts is the best trade deal to strike. They are the masters of the marketplace, relying on cash and guile as their core tools for survival.

The giant beetles under their cities aren't just for show; one of the Roving Clans's unique abilities enables them to pack up and freely resettle their cities. Their other traits tend to run the gamut of trade and diplomacy. Uniquely, they're fully unable to declare war on other empires; all-out conflict is no good for business, after all. But that's definitely not to say that this faction is meek -- it's just that they have no need for open, honest warfare when they can instead rely on many subtler ways to undermine the competition...


A little-known propriety of Dust is that one can more fully utilize its powers by dissociating one's mind and body. The Ardent Mages are a people who discovered this secret and reshaped their whole ways of life to exploit it. Subjecting themselves to vicious self-flagellatory rituals from the earliest days of their lives, they strive to find incredible magical power in the intersection of agony, stoicism, and Dust.

This has granted them access to two unique Dust-activated powers: the Pillars and the Incantations. The former are enhancements they can place on the map, feeding even greater yields into the tiles of cities under their control. The latter are spells that can be used in battle to bolster forces and enfeeble enemies. Their military units also wield the unique ability to scale up their offensive power according to the amount of damage they've taken. All put together, the Mages are tireless researchers and fierce warriors, ever seeking to dish out even better than they're always taking.


Rare survivors of the world of the Endless, the long-lived Drakken were wild reptilian beasts before having sentience and reason bestowed upon them by those ancient people's intervention. In gratitude, they've happily served as archivists, lorekeepers, and researchers. The disappearance of their masters hasn't cost these dragons their taste for this duty; rather, they now strive more than ever to preserve the memory of the Endless, and hope to lead the newer peoples of Auriga along a road to peace and prosperity.

Being ancient and learned as they are, the Drakken carry a toolset with many strengths in governance and diplomacy. One of their more unique traits is that they immediately meet all of the other existing factions in the game, learning of their starting position and gaining the prerogative to establish relations without any delay. Another of their notable abilities is that, if they wield sufficiently high influence, they're able to unilaterally declare truces, peaces and alliances with other empires -- essentially forcing them to play nice. Peace-loving though they may be, the dragons have formidable skills to rely upon.


So deep are the mysteries of this faction, that their leadership is conducted by two unknown, mind-controlling beings. One is The Queen, who lies imprisoned in an indestructible monument constructed by the Endless, forced to influence others in order to exact her will on the world. Another is The Unspoken, a wandering being who has never been seen, heard, or encountered, and is known only by the trail they leave upon the minds of other beings -- a trail that leads nowhere, as The Unspoken is an inscrutably fickle being, if it even is a singular one. These two shadow figures lead a legion of robots that were abandoned in disrepair when the Endless vanished. Driven by this bitter memory and by The Queen's vengeful hatred, the Cultists move with one purpose above all others: to erase every trace of the Endless from the face of Auriga.

Such is their dedication to this ideal that the Cult of the Eternal End adheres to a rather unique doctrine. Believing that the Endless were undone by their expansionistic ways, the Cult will not settle new cities, and will immediately raze enemy cities they capture, turning them into harvested parts for their own one capital -- the High Seat of The Queen, where her immovable "throne" lies. To send their ripples of influence out to the world beyond, the Cult relies on an unusual strategy: they convert villages already existing on the map, turning them into distant fonts of resources and soldiers.

The note is that I don't have any of the expansions. For the sake of curiosity and/or documentation, though, here's a quick overview of the expansion-exclusive factions:
-The Forgotten are banished, renegade Vaulters who had been forced aboveground far before the remainder of their kin. They specialize in espionage -- notably even as a way to supplement their lack of ability to conduct scientific research, owed to a grudge against the experiments done to them by the Vaulters.
-The Allayi are a batlike people who are native to Auriga, having dwelled on the planet before even the Endless had arrived. They live in perfect harmony with the planet, to the point that, when the seasons change, so do the Allayi.
-Morgawr is a hive-mind of an entity that exists scattered amongst a legion of deepsea-dwelling creatures. They had once been imprisoned in the abyss by The Endless, but having broken free, they emerge with a vengeance, slowly reaching into the land from the sea.
-The Kapaku originally lived in a different planet, where they adapted to life in wastelands scorched by lava. When their planet was forcibly terraformed into a greener, lusher place, they were forced away and brought to Auriga. The only way for them to survive now is to do the reverse, transforming the diverse landscapes of Auriga into ash and fire.
-The Mykara are a fungal, underground-dwelling people, all connected by a single, great network of roots. Similarly to the Cultists, they do not settle new cities; instead, they spread their growths onto distant veins of resources, ruins, and even other empires' cities, overruning them with fungi.

-----------

Now, here's the plan: I intend to run two separate four-player maps, playing as a different faction in each one. This way, we should be able to see gameplay from at least two very distinct perspectives! The question, though, which I'll be passing to you guys, is which factions we'll be playing. I'll be sure to run whichever one faction is the most popular, but as for the second, I'll prioritize choosing something as wildly different as possible (although I'll lean on popularity as a secondary factor). Now, then -- which factions have caught your interests? Let me know! (and feel free to nominate as few or as many factions as you'd like -- just, also try to make sure there's a clear order of preference)
 

kokorico

buck bk bk b'kawwwk
Pronoun
e/em/eir/emself
Never heard of it before, but this looks like a really fun setting! Looking forward to seeing how the game plays out!

I think the most interesting faction sounds like the Roving Clans, but that's just based on the lore, I have no idea how any of them play in practice.
 
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sanderidge

out of touch thursday
Pronoun
they
i know nothing about this game besides what i just read here :D but a lot of these sound really cool! unhelpfully i am going to suggest a bunch of things aside from what koko did: the descriptions for the wind walkers and the drakken sounded the coolest to me, but i like the aesthetic of the cultists' picture the most. i do think the style described for the roving clans would be a lot of fun to read about too!

so in order of vague preference, drakken / cultists / roving clans / wind walkers?

i'm looking forward to seeing/reading more :D
 
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M&F

tikitok
Pronoun
any
Right, so! I was working on a longer post, and then it got completely eaten, which is why this has taken be a while to update and why I'm just checking in with a quick post before I deliver a full update,

Considering both the opinions on the above posts and what I've gathered outside the forums, seems most people are in favor of playing save #1 as the Roving Clans. As for save #2, I'm considering picking one of either the Necrophages, the Vaulters, or the Cultists, hinging mostly on what I feel would be best for showcasing anything we might not see much of in save #1.



And before we dive in properly, I'd like to highlight this loading screen. We'll be seeing the pretty artwork again soon enough, but note that bit of text. It's like a The Sims loading screen, but done unironically! I don't know if the text displayed actually corresponds to the map loading sequence, but that'd be fucking awesome if it's the case.

As follows is the full text that appears in the loading screen:

Behold, my birth. The birth of Auriga.

At first, from the void, came the shape. Within that shape, continents rose up from the seas... and within those continents, the regions were created. Then the regions were covered by desert, and forest, and grassland... and by hills and mountains that rose up to give my face a form.

Clouds drew together, rains fell, and the rivers swelled with water... and the lands grew wetter or drier as the rivers carved their way. From beneath the crust of my skin precious resources thrust up. Lesser species as well evolved and ranged across me... and as all of these lived and grew and died they left their traces.

Lastly, for my children, I sowed places where my bounties could be easily reaped: Bounties in minerals, in magics, in the wealth of the soil. And when all was ready, and I saw that the world was rich, … only then, were my children seeded upon it. And then, nothing remained but to wait, and to hope.

So the void became the shape, ... and the shape became the land, ... and the land became rich, ... and all of that is me. Auriga.


Now, then! Starting from the next post, I'll be trying to write posts from the perspective of characters inside the narrative, but I'll also need to intercede with my own voice in order to give clear explanations of what's going on from the mechanical, gameplay side of things. At those points, I'll be preceding what I say with a smaller version of this icon:



And that's all, for now. Next up, I've got an entire actual update to start writing again from scratch...
 

storm

aiat
Pronoun
they/them
I am seconding the cultists as a second save, if possible - I really like the aesthetic and ideas behind them! though all of these factions sound so cool that I kept meaning to post my choices and being so indecisive that I forgot until the time to make a decision had passed entirely, whoops...
 
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