Heroes Chronicles is a series of turn-based strategy video games developed by Jon Van Caneghem through New World Computing and published by the 3DO Company. The series was intended to introduce a new audience, such as casual gamers, to the Heroes of Might and Magic series. As part of that strategy, each installment of Chronicles was released as a low-cost episode containing a relatively short single-player campaign, and the difficulty level of each game was kept low.
All Chronicles games are based on a limited version of the Heroes of Might and Magic III game engine. The ability to play scenario maps and multiplayer games is not included in any Chronicles title.
The series consists of five retail episodes, supplemented by two downloadable episodes. The first two titles, Warlords of the Wasteland and Conquest of the Underworld, were released on September 27, 2000. The next two installments, Clash of the Dragons and Masters of the Elements, were released shortly thereafter on November 15, 2000. In the meantime, 3DO offered The World Tree as a free download, which would install on any system with at least two retail episodes. Similarly, Fiery Moon would install on any system with at least three retail episodes. Lastly, The Sword of Frost and Revolt of the Beastmasters were released together under the name The Final Chapters on June 1, 2001.
Warlords of the Wasteland
Many centuries before the events of Heroes of Might and Magic III, on the continent of Antagarich, Tarnum learns from a dying bard that the barbarians were once glorious. Tales of a barbarian named Jarg inspire Tarnum to set out to free the barbarian people from the rule of the Wizard-Kings of Bracaduun. He appoints Hardac as an advisor. Tarnum is at first considered a mere rebel, but as he grows more influential, the wizards begin to take him more seriously. A wizard named Kurl captures the four remaining bards and threatens to kill them if Tarnum does not disband his army and surrender. Tarnum, however, defeats Kurl in time to save three of the bards. Realizing his need for more forces, Tarnum enslaves the nearby Mudlanders in order to bolster his armies. Together, the two forces reconquer the land they used to own.
Not satisfied, Tarnum leads an army east into the Wallpeaks (the fortified mountains between the Wastelands and Bracaduun). Hardac's son, Tordac, is killed in battle here. After breaking through the Wallpeaks, Tarnum heads north to seek the aid of a tribe of barbarians that once followed Jarg, pillaging many defenceless villages in his wake. He discovers the dead body of his eldest sister here. Tarnum's sisters were taken by the wizards long ago because each family was only allowed one child. She was killed by his own army. The barbarians in the area find Tarnum to be cruel and tyrannical. Even Tarnum's own men begin to desert him because of his insanity and aggression. Eventually, Tarnum poisons his remaining advisors during a feast. Tarnum commands his followers to destroy what remains of the Empire of Bracaduun. In the final scenario, Tarnum meets his father who is worried about the things he has heard about his son. Tarnum's father dies in bed shortly before the young Barbarian finishes his conquest of Castle Steelhorn, the final fort of Bracaduun.
A few years after the fall of Bracaduun, a Knight named Rion Gryphonheart gives rise to a new kingdom known as Erathia. Rion Gryphonhart eventually meets Tarnum in battle and kills him. Tarnum's soul enters the Hall of Judgement, where three barbarian gods known as the Ancestors deem him to be unworthy of entering Paradise. Instead, he is cast back to Antagarich as an Immortal, charged with redeeming himself for the terrible atrocities he has wrought.
Conquest of the Underworld
In Conquest of the Underworld, some years after Rion Gryphonheart's death, his soul is stolen from Paradise and taken into the depths of the Underworld. The Ancestors send Tarnum to aid Queen Allison of Erathia in saving her father's soul. On the first layer of the Underworld, Tarnum searches for the Orb of Inhibition so that the Boatman will take him to the next level. Allison wishes to accompany Tarnum in battle, but Tarnum insists that she stay behind practicing.
In the second layer of the Underworld, Tarnum and his men are affected by ghosts from their past. From his nightmares, Tarnum learns that his older sister was almost killed by his Barbarian armies, but was saved by Rion Gryphonheart and later became pregnant with his child. Tarnum learns that this child is Allison, and keeps his identity hidden from his men. After facing the Necromancers in order to travel to the third layer, Tarnum learns the name of the demon who stole Rion's soul. His name is Jorm, and he lives in the lower layers of the Underworld.
Deezelisk, Duke of the Bottom, is a powerful demon who once attempted to invade Erathia but was defeated in battle and blinded by Rion Gryphonheart when he tried to gain a foothold in the upper world. Tarnum seeks the Pendant of Second Sight to restore Deezelisk's sight in return for Jorm's location. During this time, Tarnum's Captain of Information, Mensor, discovers who Tarnum truly is, but he decides to keep quiet when Tarnum tells him that Allison is his niece. Tarnum kills Jorm and saves the soul of Rion Gryphonheart.
During the battle against Jorm, Deezelisk's forces turn on Allison, and Allison is kidnapped. The demons kill Tarnum and all of his forces, but he returns due to his role as the Immortal Hero and manages to escape the battlefield. Rion's spirit forgives Tarnum, and after regrouping his scattered armies and fighting some major battles, Tarnum defeats Deezelisk and saves Allison. On the day Tarnum is to be named Allison's Protector, he quietly leaves the queen's castle. Allison never sees Tarnum again.
Revolt of the Beastmasters
In Revolt of the Beastmasters, the Ancestors send Tarnum to free the Mudlanders from Erathian control. Even after hundreds of years of slavery, the Mudlanders are determined to overthrow their masters. Tarnum appoints the Gnoll, Brellick, as a captain and the Witch, Adamina, as his advisor. He also trains Droglo, a human boy who was raised by Mudlanders. The Mudlanders defeat opposition from Lord Onsten and Baron Paglon before Mad King Gryphonheart of Erathia takes the rebellion seriously.
Mad King Gryphonheart sends his son Niven to put down the rebellion in Earl Rambert's territory, though he secretly thinks his son will fail. Tarnum captures Prince Niven and shows him what slavery has done to the Mudlanders. Niven eventually sides with Tarnum, and he is released from his prison. The Mudlanders force Rambert to retreat to another castle and leave many of his prisoners behind. When Rambert threatens to kill the remaining prisoners, including Adamina, if Tarnum does not return Niven, Tarnum sends Brellick, Droglo, and Niven to make the exchange after harming Niven so that he looks like a true prisoner. However, Rambert ambushes their army and kills Brellick. Droglo then kills Rambert, and the Mudlanders soon win the battle. To prepare for the final battles against Mad King Gryphonheart, Tarnum sends Droglo to request the aid of the Barbarians of Krewlod (the Wastelands).
Adamina and the other wisewomen name the new Mudlander nation "Tatalia," a word which means "community" in the forgotten Mudlander language now only known to witches. In Erathia, the nobles displeased with Mad King Gryphonheart name Niven as their new king. King Niven mounts an army to join the army of Tatalia in the fight against the old king's remaining supporters. Droglo finally discovers Tarnum's identity as the Immortal Hero, but accepts that he has changed. Tarnum and Mad King Gryphonheart meet in battle and deal each other seemingly mortal blows. However, Tarnum is immortal, and he slips away before his body can be buried. Droglo becomes the new leader of Tatalia.
Masters of the Elements
In Masters of the Elements, a ten thousand year truce between the Elemental Lords of Air, Earth, Water, and Fire comes to an end. The Ancestors send Tarnum to stop this feud before it destroys the material world. The only way to access the elemental planes is to take control of the last remaining Elemental Conflux in Colony. Using the forces of Gavin Magnus, the Immortal Grand Vizier of Bracada, Tarnum conquers the last Conflux and discovers the location of the Gateway to the Clouds.
Upon reaching the Plane of Air, Tarnum discovers that Shalwend, Lord of Air, has already departed his realm. When Shalwend destroys the Gateway to the Clouds behind Tarnum, Tarnum is forced to find another way to return to his world. He must become a master of all four elements before returning to Antagarich. He next travels to the Plane of Water where he learns that Acwalander, the Water Lord, has left his realm as well.
In the Plane of Earth, Tarnum is shocked to find that Reamus (a wizard who traveled to the plane 200 years ago) is still alive. Even stranger, only 16 years have passed on the Plane of Earth in that time. As Gralkor, the Earth Lord, has also left his plane, Tarnum and his men realize that the Elemental Lords are using the time variations between the material world and the planes in order to gain a foothold in the material world before Tarnum can return.
While in the Plane of Fire, Reamus and Barsolar (King Magnus's cousin and advisor to Tarnum) learn of the Plane of Magic. Magic binds the elements together, so they know it will give them the advantage they will need against the Elemental Lords. After receiving the aid of the magic elementals and returning to the Plane of Fire to free the Phoenixes enslaved by Pyrannaste, Lord of Fire, Tarnum leads his army back to the material world.
Thirty years have passed in the world since Tarnum had left. King Magnus brings an army to support Tarnum. While they are in camp, Magnus and Tarnum exchange stories. Tarnum learns that one of his Behemoths killed Magnus centuries ago in the battle for Castle Steelhorn, and that Magnus somehow awoke to find himself immortal and later became King of Bracada. However, Tarnum finds Magnus to be arrogant and self-righteous, refusing to consort with the man. Once the Elemental Lords are defeated, Tarnum sends his elemental troops back to their planes. He coldly lets Gavin Magnus know that the elementals will never return to Antagarich (even though they later do so in Armageddon's Blade) then asks the Magic Elementals to destroy all Confluxes and all records of the elemental planes before returning to his life as a Barbarian.
The World Tree
In The World Tree, Tarnum hears a voice in his dreams telling him to "Save the World Tree!" He travels hundreds of miles northeast to an ancient cave and joins the remnants of a barbarian tribe apparently meant to protect it. Recently, necromancers have invaded the cavern, so Tarnum assumes that the Ancestors send him here to stop the necromancers from destroying the World Tree. He learns from five shaman in the area that the World Tree brings life to all things. However, he still doesn't know where or what it is. Deeper in the caverns, Tarnum finds a barbarian tribe which is working with the necromancers. They claim to follow Vorr, one of the three Ancestors who has turned into a barbarian war god.
Tarnum enters a lush cavern, believing that the World Tree must be nearby. Tarnum thinks that if he can convince the barbarians not to follow Vorr, Vorr will weaken. The mortal leader of the barbarian Followers of Vorr, King Targor, models his rule after Tarnum the Barbarian Tyrant, so Tarnum sends Grumba, an ogre who is his second-in-command, to search for the Pendant of Total Recall. This will allow Targor to see the experiences Tarnum has been forced to undergo over all the centuries following his tyrannical rule, and will hopefully end Targor's madness.
An elven druid named Nilidon who comes to aid Tarnum tells him that the tunnel system Tarnum has been in is in fact the World Tree, also known as the Roots of Life. Tarnum finds the Pendant of Total Recall, letting Targor see the error in his ways. Targor turns his army against Vorr and dies fighting him. Vorr gives up on destroying the World Tree, and the remaining barbarians kill the remaining necromancers. Tarnum learns that the World Tree will recover in time as he makes his way out of the Roots of Life to search for Vorr.
The Fiery Moon
In The Fiery Moon, a direct sequel to The World Tree, Tarnum continues his search for Vorr and the other two Ancestors. He is drawn further northeast across an inhospitable desert and into a tall, nameless mountain range. Along the way, he encounters an injured familiar named Skizzik who has fled from Vorr's armies. Skizzik tells Tarnum that the Ancestors are imprisoned on the Fiery Moon, which can only be reached through the Sparkling Bridge. The Sparkling Bridge is an ancient portal capable of instigating travel to any world in the universe. It has been guarded by the elementals since the dawn of time and requires the Ring of the Wayfarer to be operated.
Tarnum travels to the Fiery Moon and frees the two remaining sane Ancestors from Xyron, the Jailer. The Ancestors give Tarnum sap from the World Tree which will help him cure their brother, Vorr. However, Tarnum's loses his battle against Vorr's army. Grumba also dies in the battle, but Skizzik survives. After rebuilding his forces, Tarnum is intent on killing Vorr this time, but the other Ancestors convince him to use the sap because if Tarnum kills Vorr, he and the other Ancestors will die and enter Oblivion as well. Tarnum reaches Vorr and gives him the sap which cures his madness. For the first time, Tarnum feels he really can change his cruel barbarian ways.
Clash of the Dragons
In Clash of the Dragons, the good dragons leave AvLee. Having lived with these green and gold dragons for twenty years, Tarnum sets out on a quest to find them. He leaves Adrienne, the fire witch, to look after the orphan boy Waerjak while he is gone. Tarnum appoints the dwarf Kurbon as his master of supplies, and the elves appoint the druid Aspen as Tarnum's advisor. Tarnum and Aspen frequently play chess together, but Tarnum's aggressive tactics cause him to lose each time.
Tarnum speaks to the Dragontalker about the disappearance of the good dragons. The Dragontalker tells Tarnum about Mutare, an overlord who used the Vial of Dragon's Blood to turn herself into the Dragon Queen of Nighon, thus enslaving all dragons, good and evil, to her will. Tarnum steals this vial and uses it on the ten kidnapped Gold Dragon Mothers in order to restore the good dragons to their normal selves. While he does so, he rescues the ranger Valita from a demonic prison. Aspen, once a great spy, suspects Captain Valita of spying for Nighon, but Tarnum refuses to believe this.
Tarnum continues to battle against Mutare, even after she gains power over the mighty Rust, Crystal and Azure Dragons. To gain an advantage over Mutare, Tarnum seeks the aid of the Faerie Dragons. Aspen captures the harpy messenger who carries the spy reports to and from Nighon. The harpy claims that the notes are stuck to a tree with an arrow of green and black fletchings (the colors of Valita's arrows). Tarnum realizes that Kurbon is the spy because he knows all the troop movements and supplies the arrows for Valita whom he trained while in the Forest Guard. Kurbon shoots Aspen (who dies a few weeks later) before fleeing into Nighon.
Tarnum's lightning assault pushes Mutare back into Nighon territory, but now she focuses all of her forces against him. Valita is captured by Kurbon, but Tarnum eventually frees her and kills Kurbon. After Tarnum's victory on the border, Mutare is forced to retreat further into Nighon to plot Tarnum's death. However, she is soon killed by another (unknown) person. Tarnum is called away again by the Ancestors, but he will always remember the time he spent in AvLee as the happiest time of his life.
The Sword of Frost
In The Sword of Frost, a direct sequel to Clash of the Dragons, Gelu, wielder of Armageddon's Blade, sets out to destroy the Sword of Frost. Tarnum, having heard of an ancient prophecy that the meeting of the two swords will bring about the end of the world, struggles to stop Gelu. With the recent chaos after the death of Queen Mutare of Nighon, Tarnum is able to take control over the Dungeon creatures of Nighon who are the only ones who wish to fight Gelu, becoming an Overlord. However, ruling these brutal creatures brings out the darkness in Tarnum.
The Sword of Frost is located in the northern lands of the Vori elves. Gelu is half-Vori, so the elves fight against Tarnum. In addition, Tarnum's own troops are prone to internal conflicts. After being shot with a poisoned arrow by a medusa, Tarnum appoints his saviours,the beholders, Neez, Zarm, and Kilkik as his bodyguards and advisors. They take revenge against the medusas, but Zarm dies in the process.
Kija, the third wife of King Kilgor, also chases Gelu for the Sword of Frost. She plans to steal it from him and give it to her husband so that her son will be named heir to Krewlod. Tarnum cannot convince Kija or Gelu to give up their search, so he decides to gain an edge by adding the Azure Dragons to his army.
In order to learn more about the Sword of Frost, Tarnum captures Gelu's friend and captain, the dwarf Ufretin. While he does so, he replaces his remaining beholder bodyguard Kilkik with the minotaur Trongar and the medusa Zallisa. Tarnum convinces Ufretin to understand him before allowing the dwarf to return to Gelu. Ufretin buys Tarnum enough time to capture Kija and annihilate her army. However, Gelu soon continues his march toward the city of Volee (where the sword is held).
When Tarnum finally beats Gelu to Volee, he discovers that the Sword of Frost has already been taken by Kija, who had escaped from her dungeon prison a few weeks earlier. In the chronicle's ending scene, Tarnum prays to the Ancestors, "Please don't let my compassion destroy the world!" As Heroes IV begins, it is revealed that shortly after the events of The Sword of Frost, Gelu fights Kilgor for the Sword of Frost. When the two blades meet in battle, they cause an explosion that destroys the world of Colony. Many of the planet's residents, however, escape through thousands of mysterious portals leading to a new world, Axeoth. This event becomes known as the Reckoning, which leads into Heroes of Might and Magic IV.
Continuation in Heroes IV
Tarnum's story was continued (and most likely concluded) in the Might campaign of Heroes IV wherein he continues watching over his foster son, Waerjak, who aspires to unite his scattered people and become the new Barbarian King. The campaign makes reference to some of Tarnum's past adventures, and Tarnum is actually slain by a rogue warlord named Vogel BackBreaker. He does not return to Axeoth immediately, as he enters Paradise to be judged by the Ancestors for the second and final time.
In the midst of his mentor and foster father's apparent death, Waerjak continues to unite the tribes into one community, following Tarnum's advice. Eventually, he reaches Vogel's lair and slays the warlord in revenge. Waerjak then realises that Vogel's death will not bring Tarnum back - until Tarnum emerges from the depths of the cavern. He finally reveals his immortality and the nature of his return to the stunned Waerjak, proceeding to tell his foster son the 'Chronicles' of his long life. It turns out that the Ancestors had decided to allow him to enter Paradise at last, but Tarnum refused their offer, preferring to remain as a protector of the mortals he had lived among for so long. With the fall of 3DO and Ubisoft's scrapping of the history of the old games, it appears that this is at last the conclusion of the Heroes Chronicles.