Disciples II: Dark Prophecy is a PC game by Strategy First that was released on January 24, 2002. The game is the sequel to the 1999 game Disciples: Sacred Lands, and has become significantly more successful in terms of both sales and popularity than its predecessor. A limited edition version of the game was released, which included a card game based upon the story and game dynamics of the video game called Disciples II: Blades of War. This game, along with the expansion pack Gallean's Return, was part of the Strategy First "Fantasy Pack", which was released with 3 other games: Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood, Dragon Throne: Battle of Red Cliffs, and Prince of Qin.
A sequel named Disciples III: Renaissance was released on July 13, 2010 in North America. It includes the Empire, the Legions of the Damned and the Noble Elves. A port of Disciples II for the Nintendo DS is also under development . Disciples II: Gold Edition was released via the digital distribution services Steam, Direct2Drive, GOG.com and Impulse (Where it is named Disciples II: Ultimate Edition).
Disciples II is a fantasy strategy game, set in a fictional kingdom called Nevandaar (also referred to as 'The Sacred Lands'). The main focus of the story revolves around four dominant races in a state of almost constant war. These four factions are the human Empire, the dwarven Mountain Clans, the demonic Legions of the Damned, and the skeletal Undead Hordes. There are also several other 'neutral' races such as Merfolk, Greenskins and Elves (the Elves became a fully-fledged playable race with the addition of the expansion pack 'Rise of the Elves').
The gameplay is divided into three main parts; building up the Capital City of your race so that you can research new Warriors and spells, and building up new armies (this involves careful resource management); using heroes (leading small squads) to explore the surroundings, procure resources and attack the enemy; and finally the battles themselves.
Each playable race's Capital City is protected by an extremely-powerful guardian, who is nearly impossible to defeat except with a very strong hero. The Capital City is the only city capable of building structures. Other cities may only upgrade themselves to allow them to mount larger defense forces.
Battles consist of confrontations between a hero's squad (which can take up to five other Warriors, bearing in mind that some large creatures such as dragons take up the space of two units) and an enemy squad. High praise is given to the excellent graphics and animations in these battles. At the end of the battle, the winning side receives experience points. All surviving units receive the same amount of XP. If sufficient XP is accumulated by a unit, it may then upgrade to another, determined by the type of structures in the Capital. If no next-level structures have been built, the unit does not level up and does not receive any more experience until the structure is built. The only exception is if the unit is at the end of the "upgrade tree", in which case it will remain the same unit but gain small increases to health, attack damage, and accuracy stats.
At the beginning of a campaign, the player may select his or her class (warrior, mage, or guildmaster). Each class has advantages and disadvantages. For example, a mage player may cast the same spell twice in a single turn, while a guildmaster has the ability to carry out more types of spying/assassination assignments. Besides player classes, the game also features five types of heroes (or leaders): Warrior, Mage, Ranger, Rod Bearer, and Thief. The first three differ only slightly, as they are all combat leaders. The Rod Bearers are the only leaders capable of claiming resources on the map. Thieves may perform special actions on enemy armies and cities.
Spellcasting may only be done outside of battles and requires the use of mana to both research and cast a spell. There are four types of mana (life, runic, death, and infernal) with the fifth type (grove) added for the Rise of the Elves expansion. Each race's spells are mainly reliant on their corresponding mana type (e.g. Empire -> life mana), although other mana types are required for higher-level spells. Grove mana is only required for Elven spells. Only one spell may be researched per turn, and a spell may only be cast once per turn (twice if the player is a mage class). Also, a mage player researches spells at half the normal cost.
During the single-player campaigns, the player may transfer one leader and five artifacts (including potions and one-shot spells) to the next level. At the end of a campaign, an option is given to save the player's top leader in a file for use in custom or multiplayer games.
In the beginning, there was nothing. The elder god Highfather had many angel servants, one of whom was his favorite - Bethrezen. The Highfather adored Bethrezen so much, the elder god granted him the power to create and left him to his own devices. Bethrezen, striving to impress the Highfather, created a new world and named it Nevendaar in the angelic tongue. Once the world was complete, Bethrezen called on other gods to help him populate Nevendaar with living things. Gallean and Soloniele created the forests and the seas and populated them, besides wildlife, with elves and merfolk, respectively. Wotan created the dwarves on the mountains, only to have them dig back into the rock. Bethrezen created the humans. More gods came and created other minor races, but the main stage has been set. Bethrezen left to tell the Highfather of his creation, leaving other angels to watch over Nevendaar. Unfortunately, the angels resented Bethrezen being the favorite of the Highfather and decided to sabotage the new world. When the Highfather arrived to look upon Nevendaar, all he saw was war and destruction. Infuriated that Bethrezen would create such a world, the Highfather cast his favorite down into the core of his own creation for all eternity.
Ten thousand years have passed. Bethrezen, trapped inside the molten core of Nevendaar grew mad with anger and thirst for revenge at the Highfather and the creatures of the world. Unbeknownst to everyone else, he created a race of demons from the fiery lava of the core to be his army. Unable to escape his prison, Bethrezen sent forth his legions to destroy the humans, dwarves, elves, and all other living beings of Nevendaar. As it happens, the demons first struck in the elven lands, setting their forests ablaze. The elves panicked and fled their homes into the mountains of the Clans. The dwarves assumed the elves were invading and attacked the refugees. This prompted Gallean and Soloniele to demand that Wotan punish his children for the slaughter. Infuriated at their arrogance, Wotan killed Gallean and threw his heart into the sun. Soloniele jumped after it and managed to save it, but her own skin was burned away. Not only that, but she also changed inside. She found that she had the power to effortlessly kill entire peoples and then bring them back as her undead servants. Changing her name to Mortis, the fleshless goddess led her new undead minions on a crusade against the Mountain Clans to punish Wotan for killing her lover. Thus began the First Great War.
Major factions (playable)
- The Empire
- Beginning ten years after the last game, the Empire is on the verge of collapse. The Emperor, Demosthene, has been getting weaker since the death of his wife and the disappearance of his son, Uther. A number of nobles, seeing this as a sure sign that the Empire is in desperate need of a 'competent' leader, have begun to build armies in order to conquer the lands for themselves. In particular, many of those nobles support the charismatic Hubert de Lalye who openly opposes Demosthene. As one of the few nobles still loyal to the Emperor, it falls to you to keep the Empire together in this time of darkness.
- The Empire consists of medieval humans with Christian-like beliefs and holy powers granted by their deity, the Highfather, who sends his angels to aid the Empire. While it is Highfather who protects humanity, it was the fallen angel Bethrezen who created the race over ten thousand years ago. Titans are allied to the Empire and fight on its side. Angel Myzrael has been entrusted by Highfather to guard the Empire's capital with his mighty sword. Recommended for beginners.
- The Undead Hordes
- Ten years have passed since Mortis took out her revenge on Wotan's children for the death of her husband, Gallean. Now Mortis waits at Gallean's side for him to recover from Wotan's assault on him, but his regeneration can take an eternity, and patience has never been one of Mortis' virtues. She once again sends forth her undead minions, this time not to avenge the death of a god, but to find a way to resurrect one.
- The Undead Hordes were formerly an ancient race of magic-wielders who were slaughtered by the goddess Mortis only to be raised by her to become an undead army. Mortis's protector of the capital is Ashgan, former chief priest of the people Mortis first turned.
- The Mountain Clans
- Ten years have passed since the death of the Dwarven Highking Sturmir Thunderhammer; ten years of relative peace for the Dwarfs. Since the end of the war against Mortis' Undead legions the Dwarfs have become more determined than ever to recover their lost Runic knowledge. Little do they know that they will soon face an enemy more dangerous than any Undead abomination...
- The Mountain Clans are dwarves who live in mountain caves and possess runic powers, given to them by their god Wotan and rudimentary technology like steam engines and explosives. The Clans were allied to the Empire during the First Great War and still maintain a friendly relationship with the humans. The giants consider the dwarves to be their cousins and are willing to aid them in defending the mountains. The dwarven capital is guarded by Vithar, who sits at Wotan's right hand.
- The Legions of the Damned
- Ten years have passed since the Demons last tried to free their god from his prison beneath the earth. Although they were stopped by the combined might of the Empire and the Mountain Clans, the demons were far from beaten. In secret covens and cults they hid, biding their time, waiting for a sign from their dark god that the time was right for them to strike back against the Empire and its allies.
- The Legions of the Damned are demons created by the fallen angel Bethrezen and devil-worshiping humans who wish to release the dark god from his ten-thousand-year captivity at the core of Nevendaar - Bethrezen's own creation for which he was cast down by the Highfather. Ashkael, Bethrezen's commander of the Legions, protects the demonic capital from all those who oppose the dark god. The Legions appear to speak a dialect similar to Latin
- The Elven Alliance
- With the return of their god, the Elves have decided that the time has come; it's time for them to take back what is rightfully theirs. Urged on by the words of their god, through the voice of a young oracle, the wild and noble Elves strive to reclaim their ancient capital from the hands of the Empire. Ironically, the city where the historical peace treaty between the two races was signed becomes the focus of bloodshed between them.
- Elves (wild and noble) were the first to walk the lands of Nevendaar. They suffered greatly since the death of their god Gallean and his lover Soloniele's transformation into the fleshless goddess Mortis. There is a large amount of prejudice between the Noble Elves, who live in cities, and the Wild Elves, who prefer to live in communion with nature. The centaurs of the wild swore loyalty to the Elven Queen Illumielle who herself protects the capital city from enemies of the Alliance.
Minor factions (non-playable)
- Orcs, goblins, trolls, and ogres. These creatures are not too bright, except for Orc Kings, but are a source of constant nuisance to other creatures of Nevendaar. Their constant bickering and in-fighting prevents the Greenskins from being a powerful force and explains why they have so many Kings among them.
- Humans who have forsaken civilization for a nomadic, warlike life. Ruled by tribal chiefs, they seek to destroy and plunder all in their path.
- Non-aligned Humans
- Mercenaries, thugs, and simple peasants who are either not a part of the Empire or choose not to live by its laws.
- Created by Gallean's lover Soloniele, these water creatures never saw fit to form a unified empire (or perhaps they had one but with Soloniele gone they fell into disarray). Instead, they prey on any traveller unlucky enough to be attracted by the mermaids' songs. They have been known to tame giant beasts like the Kraken and the Sea Serpent.
- Lizard Folk
- Tribal dwellers of swamp and bog, these ancient people of the water-ways are mysterious, ferocious and reclusive; endowed with cunning and lethal prowess, these deceptive creatures prove themselves more than a match for any unwary foe.
- Dark Elves
- Slain elves who have been raised by Mortis to fight their living brethren. The Dark Elves put the blame for their deaths on the constant fighting in which the Elven Alliance is involved.
- Ancient and powerful flying reptiles whose history of creation is known only to a few. Many have died in the millennia since Nevendaar's creation, especially those dragons caught between clashing empires. Several different kinds exist (Green, Blue, White, Black, and Red), all dangerous to those who dare enter their territory.
- Giant Spiders
- These massive eight-legged creatures are known to attack anyone who comes too close to their lair. They use different methods to incapacitate their prey before eating, including poison and web (depends on subspecies).
Expansion packs, releases and versions
Many expansion packs and rereleases of Disciples II have been issued. In order of their release they are:
|Name||Date of Release||Details|
|Disciples II: Dark Prophecy||January 4, 2002||The base game contains 4 campaigns of 7 missions each for the Empire, Mountain Clans, Undead Hordes and Legion of the Damned.|
|Disciples II: Dark Prophecy (Collector's Edition)||2002||A limited version of the game containing a card game (Disciples II: Blades of War) as well as 5 bonus quests which are also included in the Disciples 2 Gold edition.|
|Disciples II: Servants of the Dark||2003|| Contains:
Servants of the Dark does not combine with the base Dark Prophecy game. When installed on a computer that already has Guardians of the Light installed it and Servants of the Dark are combined to form "Gallean's Return" which offers all the content of the base Dark Prophecy game in addition to the 4 extra mini campaigns as part of a single install. Gallean's Return was later sold separately.
|Disciples II: Guardians of the Light||2003||Released at the same time and the counterpart to Servants of the Dark, Guardians of the Light contains the original campaigns for the Mountain Clans and Empire as well as two new mini campaigns of 3 missions each, in a similar fashion to Servants of the Dark.|
|Disciples II: Rise of the Elves||2003|| Contains:
This game does not combine with Gallean's Return or Dark Prophecy and must be installed separately.
|Disciples II: Gallean's Return||2005||Gallean's Return contains the first two expansion packs, Servants of the Dark and Guardians of the Light precombined. This means that all the content of the base Dark Prophecy game is included as well.|
|Disciples II Gold||February 3, 2005|| Contains:
Both games must be installed separately as the original games would be. In 2005, Stardock released this edition on their TotalGaming.net online distribution service as Disciples II: Ultimate Edition. In 2006 this addition was also made available on Steam.
|Disciples II: Rise of the Elves Gold||2006||A rerelease of Rise of the Elves with an additional 4 mission mini campaign that continues the story.|
References to Other Media
- The first map of the Legions of the Damned campaign in "Servants of the Dark" is titled Beggar's Banquet, the first album to feature the song "Sympathy for the Devil" - the Legions being the demonic race of the game.
- Disciples II official website
- Strategy First official website
- Linux Game Publishing
- Disciples II: Dark Prophecy demo