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Zorax's Introduction to AoC
As you sit trying to manage your village's food production plan, a messenger stumbles wearily into your manor house proclaiming the death of the kingdom. It seems the gods tired of the King's extravagant ways and stripped him of his army, lands and workers, reducing him to the same stature as you, a mere knight. Now everyone is on an even footing again, able to call on his or her peasants to gather resources and construct buildings to advance beyond the simple farming life allowed under the old king. Perhaps this time you can succeed where those who have gone before you failed, and claim the glory of the throne for yourself... You shake your head to clear the dreams, and dismiss the messenger; you've heard these rumors before, and they have always been followed by a huge display of strength from the king, reinforcing his position of power beyond the strength of rumor or doubt.

That night you dream of greatness, of a vast army so powerful that the trees themselves answer your call to arms; of figures constructed of clay and magic, routing the armies of your enemies; of a fleet of ships so vast that all flee before it; of dragons and phoenixes fighting in the skies over a vast city flying your tattered banner. You awaken the next morning to the news that your small area of land has been completely cut off from the rest of the kingdom by violent magical storms that started soon after the king was dethroned and his palace destroyed. Maybe this time it really is true... maybe this is your chance to shine!

In the evening after a busy day of marshaling your resources, a strange hush settles over your small private room, blocking the sounds of your staff bustling to prepare for the next day before turning in for the night. As you sit in your private rooms scouring the history books you have always surrounded yourself with in the hope of finding something that will help you expand your small sphere of influence, you suddenly you hear the rocking chair beside the fire start to creak slowly back and forth. Fearing a mercenary sent by a rival knight-or worse, that the King has clung to enough power to send one of his assassins a-visiting, you spin towards the sound, whipping your knife from its sheath and clutching its bone handle like a talisman against the dark shadow cast by the hearth. You see nothing but the runners of the chair rocking into and out of the firelight, but as you advance gingerly towards the chair, the sharp edge of your knife glinting in the light of the fire as you hold it extended before you, a soft chuckle stops you in your tracks.

"We are called Zorax," says a dusty voice from the chair. "You have nothing to fear from us. We left this world of Gildor many thousands of moons ago, after we were deposed as the first king of this realm and slain by evil and vicious magics at the hand of Me'tre, the first Great Wizard. Since then Me'tre and I have watched the world of Gildor with great interest, making a peace in death which we could not in life to aid those who would seek to rebuild the empire of Zorax and claim the throne as their own. Since our rule, the gods have allowed no King to remain long on his throne, always objecting to their decadent and wasteful ways. We are the only leader to have led Zorax through a prolonged period of peace, thus far...

"Your youthful exuberance has called us back here across the void, mere shadows of the great leader we once were. Many others have called to us before, but at this time and in this place, I am here to set you on a path through the chaos to take up your rightful place as our successor."

As the mysterious stranger speaks, he slowly unfolds into a standing position. As the light of the fire illuminates him, a gasp escapes your lips. The being's face seems to twist between the known races, the roughness of the orc melting through the beautiful arrogance of the elf, the stout bearded dwarf, the white haired mef, and some strange grey skinned creature, into a grinning human face mirroring your own. Rubbing your eyes and looking again the face has resolved itself into a strangely beautiful amalgam of the know races. Seeing your look of surprise, Zorax's strange face breaks into a grin. "My face signifies the first decision you must make. I will teach you a secret given only to a chosen few. In this time of magical storms, some of that destructive magic can be tapped to make changes to you and your people. Race becomes optional; nothing is as fixed as it was before. There are options before you which must be considered carefully."

Reaching into his pocket and gesturing towards the fire, the stranger turns back towards you and brings his hands together in a clap, shaking the very foundations of your home. Fearing trickery, you try to lunge towards the stranger, but find yourself unable to move. Panicking, you call out your frustration to him, cursing his ancestors and the power he seems to hold over you. He waves his hand and you feel a sense of well-being wash over you as the room starts to spin around you both, eventually resolving its wooden walls into the tiny pinpricks of light and larger swirling blobs of the night sky.

"Don't worry; the worst is behind you now," he says as he squats cross-legged in the void. "Now before you make your choice about what form to return to the mortal realm in, let me tell you something about the races."

"Humans, as you know, are the most gregarious of races, able to use this open friendliness to cement trade partnerships, but also to hide the activities of their thieves. As their civilization advances, they rely more and more on learning and research to compensate for their lack of magical ability. Their naval dreadnoughts are feared by all, and their beastmasters are an effective countermeasure against the strange creatures bred for war by the other races.

"Orcs are the most warlike race, relying heavily on the fear they drive into their opponents to secure more land as their enemy flees. Their rage in combat is so great that it is reflected in their powerful but short-lived elementals. Orcs are very happy and will stand behind their leader after a successful attack, but by the same token, they never hesitate to express their dissatisfaction with their warchief when they are beaten.

"Elves are tall, slender and beautiful. They have a deep love for all that is natural and they are happiest in woodland. They find the mystical arts quite easy to master, and are renowned throughout the lands of Gildor for their lavish entertainment and high celebration. They are naturally peaceful, but will fight hard for what is they consider to be rightfully theirs.

"Dwarves are strong and stout, with long beards (even the females) and hearty appetites. They work deep underground with roaring furnaces and heavy hammers. They take great pride in their craftsmanship and love to show it off by going on the rampage with their axes held high and their beards swinging - the women would never allow themselves to be left at home. Fighting is in their blood.

"Keldis are a mystery to other races, they prefer to stay behind strong, high walls and have a high regard for secrecy, avoiding friends as well as enemies. This has led to a lot of distrust between the Keldis and the other races. Because Keldis merchants are so rare, they will always draw attention, also making it very hard for Keldis thieves. They have a reputation as strong builders, but they are careful not to build anything that can be viewed above their mighty walls - until the Royal Palace is started.

"The Mef are by far the most magical of all races; my old enemy Me'tre was amongst them for a while. They stand seven feet tall, have waist-length white beards (no matter their age), and wield very powerful magics. They are somewhat weak physically and poor in practical matters, but make up for it with their natural skill in all things arcane. To succeed as a Mef, a high degree of training is necessary, but the results can be stunning."

Rocking slightly as you attempt to absorb this information, you sense the enormous challenge before you: not only do you now face the prospect of competing with all of the other knights of the realm on an equal footing for power; you have also been offered a chance to change your very race and become something you have never been before. Weighing the options carefully, you consider your previous interactions with the other races.

Humans you know best, having been one for quite some time now. You have dealt with the Dwarf miners and even fought with them against Orc raiders, and you respect their abilities; but perhaps this is your chance to become one of the Orc raiders, or dwell amongst the trees with the strange and aloof Elves, or play with the raw power of the fundament as a Mef, or build the vast impenetrable walls of the Keldis...

Continue... (guide to starting)

More guides
Basic Guide | Quick Start | Buildings | Diplomacy | Engineering | Knowledge | Materials
First 100 turns | Professions | Races | Spells | Theft | War | Long Guide
Storyline Part 1 | Storyline Part 2 | Storyline Part 3 | The Rules | Rules of War