About 1000 years before game:
-Cuotl spaceship crashes, Sawu is corrupted by the talisman. Perhaps his nature as a magical being causes the talisman to react even more strongly, and the alien energies turn him into a tool of the Cuotl. Thus starts the Rise of the Dark Alin. (Pretty obvious)
-One human in the (at the time) uncivilized western lands finds an artifact from the Cuotl ship. This one, though, is a database of Cuotl technologies, broadcast directly into his mind. These technologies were too advanced, for the most part. (Assumed)
-This man, however, used his own genius and whatever parts he could find to mimic this technology as close as he could. One such invention was an energy cannon, but he did not have the means to power it. (IGN Cuotl preview)
-This man is known as the Great Inventor, the founder and namesake of Vinci civilization. He would settle in the city of Miana, starting its tradition of producting brilliant inventors. Miana was the first city to embrace steam technology. A Mianan settlement near the border, Padonia, with the Alin, however, would soon have some troubles.
-Sawu, now at the peak of his power, raids neighboring lands. Perhaps under control of the Cuotl, who desired to destroy anyone who might have a chance of understanding Cuotl technology. He rallies several scorpion riders (at the time, members of a tribe swore allegiance to Sawu), and other units. (Intro movie)
-During the following battle, the Great Inventor, used an early steam-walker, and added the Cuotl database onboard, so he could have easier access to the information. He held the bridge to Pandonia against the Alin invaders, while his troops withdrew.
-Corrupted Sawu eventually realizes the Great Inventor has the Cuotl database in his walker, and realizes this man must be eliminated to protect Cuotl technology. So, he focuses his forces on the Great Inventor, and destroys his walker. (Intro movie)
-The Great Inventor, realizing Pandonia can still be saved, reconnects some wires connecting to the Cuotl artifact, electrifying the bridge, and eventually overloading and exploding. This prevents Sawu from further invading Vinci lands. The event is simply written off as a case of Alin aggression, as the Vinci were ignorant of the talisman and Sawu's corruption. For all they knew, it was the Alin conspiring against them.
-In time, Pandonia salvages the Great Inventor's walker, and produces many walker designs of its own. Oddly enough, the Great Inventor's remains were preserved by some strange side effect of the Cuotl artifact's alien energies. The Great Inventor's act of self sacrifice would be remembered, whil the specifics behind the Alin raid would be forgotten. His remains were placed in Condioretti, which would become the de facto, and in time official, capital of the Vinci Empire.
-Sawu turns his attention back to the east, where the Alin forces are regrouping.
-The two other Alin heroes, Damahur and Dakhla, are used to eventually seal Sawu inside the city of Mezekesh. He's trapped there, for the most part, though sometimes, the Dark Alin rise for some raiding, but remain considered a historical curiousity and "traveler's tale."
-The tribe that helped Sawu is banished into the desert, becoming nomads.
-The Cuotl, lead by king Kaloohka, are awed by the new "gods from the sky" and their "magic." The Cuotl "Gods" originally use advanced technology to stop Kaloohka's aging, and originally plan to rule through a puppet state. The King is too strong willed to mind control, so the Cuotl attempt to depose him and rule directly. Anyone who displeases them is considered a "Fallen Heretic." In time, the deposed King rallies these heretics behind the banner of the Fallen, taking it as a term of pride.
Events between 1000 and about 50 years before game (Estimated):
-Condoretti wanes in power as more city-states become industrially self-sufficient. Two top states are Miana and Venucci. The Vinci Empire soon is torn into several city-states and surrounding territories. The Condoretti try to hold their empire together, but having failed to modernize their horsemen, are unable to. The Condoretti attempt to hold onto their empire is called the Condoretti wars, and decimated large portions of Vinci territory. In the chaos, the remains of the Great Inventor vanished from Condoretti castle, and were rumored to have been hidden up north somewhere.
-The Alin grow complacent. Reports about that the Dark Alin are back, but are dismissed by the monarch. Sawu, having few human followers this time, resorts to creating glass versions of common Alin units, and sometimes corrupting them into service.
-The Cuotl, at some point, divide their territory into several zones of control, several for each deity. Combined with a special disease engineered to kill all non-Cuotl, they ensure little meddling from nearby cultures. Sawu also serves as a nice "buffer zone."
About 50-10 years before game, and early game events:
-Carlini serves in Mianan military, receiving a clockwork artifical leg after losing it.
-The current King of the Alin takes power.
-Giacomo, as an adventurous youth, goes to the Alin kingdom, where he meets Arri.
Events During The Game-
-The Cuotl lack servants in the Vinci lands, so they make contact with the Doge of Venucci, a veteran of the Condoretti Wars and dictator of Venucci. The Cuotl seek samples of how advanced Vinci tech is, and in return, grant the Doge some advanced technology in small doses.
-The Doge, of course, trades the inventions of Miana, as he seeks to let his masters know how advanced his rivals are.
-The Cuotl see a potential puppet ruler in the Doge, and give him instructions to return any strange artifacts they find. Eventually, one Cuotl transport crashes north of Miana, where a local noble decides to take a look at it.
-A part of Cuotl spaceship is uncovered outside Miana, which sickens the miners who dug it up and produces painful, fatal pains all over their bodies. Petruzzio, Carlini, and Giacomo take a look at it, but not before the Doge steals it and kills Petruzzio.
-The seals on Mezekesh weaken enough to allow servants of Sawu out. The Dark Alin officially return, and decide to "visit old haunts" and raid the Vinci territory of Pandonia, but are driven off.
-Distruzio, seeking a military advantage for his revolt against Don Rocco, uncovers the stolen remains of the Great Inventor. By this time, only his brain is in salvagable condition, so he constructs a mechanical body to store and preserve the Great Inventor's brain. Many know this body today only as "Zeke." (Check the 'help.xml' type files in the campaign folders.)
-The Doge's operatives start trying to replicate artificial intelligence using clockwork computers (the type that run clockwork men and spiders). The resulting attempts create the Scavengers: Clockwork automata who can make copies of themselves from scrapyards, essentially creating mad clockwork Von Neumann machines. The experiment failed, but the resulting automata did pose a threat to local (but determined) miners.
-Giacomo, with the help of Lenora and Carlini, helps fight the Doge and his minions. Pirata, Miana, and their allies take on Venucci and their allies. As Venucci looses, their public officials begin to critize the Doge. Eventually, the Doge imprisons them in Dirsi prison, an old Condoretti stronghold. He has some Cuotl guards stationed nearby, due to the "unconventional" nature of some of the prisoners (like an Alin genie).
-The Doge, in addition to Cuotl technology, starts a chemical weapons program. The result disfigures Pulitore, the main scientist behind it, and lungs, requiring him to use a special breathing device. However, the main result is a chemical shell that can be fired from the Doge's Hammer, a massive cannon that uses rocket propelled shells to level cities.
-Eventually, Giacomo's troops march on Venucci. By this time, the Doge realized he could not win, so he organized a feint. He would draw out Giacomo, then take out his city of Miana, for both spite and to remove a threat. His Cuotl masters, after all, wanted to make sure no Vinci states could pose a threat to him.
-The Doge levels Miana, then heads through Alin lands. He claims to the Alin King he will destroy the Dark Alin. However, the Doge plans to march his army to Cuotl lands to further serve his alien suppliers, and ensure that Sawu 'does his job' and destroys the Alin kingdom, removing another threat to the Cuotl.
-Giacomo reunites with Arri, while Lenora leaves "for spare parts." Arri now leads a unit devoted to fighting the Dark Glass monsters. The King has little faith in Giacomo.
-Some deserters of the Doge's army, including Pulitore, hole up near an enchanted oasis. Eventually, Giacomo rescues them.
-An outcast tribe that had helped Sawu in ages past now becomes the target of his wrath. Belisari leads this tribe, and eventually is helped by Giacomo.
-A swordsman, Andromelek, believes in knowing his enemy, so he studies Dark Glass magic. However, he does not take into account the corrupting effect. ("When you gaze long into the Abyss, the Abyss gazes back into you. He who fights monsters most be careful, lest he become one." -Nietzsche) Eventually , he is freed by Giacomo.
-Giacomo fights the Dark Alin genies on a number of occassions, but they always rise back to life after a while.
-Giacomo finds both Damahur and Dahkla, openning the way to Mezekesh. There, he and his comrades face down Sawu. After freeing Sawu from the Cuotl talisman's corruption, the Doge shows up and attempts to stop his masters' enemies before they can march on the Cuotl homeland.
-Despite having a Doge's Hammer deployed and operational, this desperate attempt ends in the Doge being defeated. A Cuotl aircraft appears, steals the talisman, and eventually leads the group further east.
-Once in Cuotl lands, the group meets Yontash, a shaman from the northern Kahan Wastes (mountainous region above and between Alin lands and Cuotl jungles). Yontash and his nomadic nation were being harassed by unspecified Cuotl activities, and Yontash attempted to lead a small group to see how strong the Cuotl were.
-Predictably, they were far stronger than his small scouting party could handle, but as luck would have it, Giacomo's group came. Still, Yontash wanted to ensure the newcomers would stand a chance before siding with them.
-The first "God" to be killed is Ix, the "God of the Moon." Czin, the God of Death, appears to take back a key Cuotl artifact, likely a talisman that can be used as a power source. In the process, Czin kills Carlini.
-Afterwards, an explosion of a Cuotl 'talisman' reacts with Giacomo, covering parts of his body in 'dark glass.' He later finds he has the ability to convert metal to glass, and has more instintive knowledge on Cuotl technology, as the glass worked as a "neural database." (Similar to the items Sawu and the Great Inventor found.) Using this newfound knowledge, he combines his walker with parts of the Moon God's armor.
-Enraged, Giacomo finds he must immunize half his army against Czin's "plague." He selects one side, magic or technology, and presses on. Eventually, he meets the still living Kalkoohka, who lead the Fallen guerrillas against the false gods. Kalkoohka desires his throne back, and the false gods dead. He's waited 1000 years, and now with Giacomo's arrival, he has that chance. No more hiding.
-Now, it was time to take the fight to the Gods. Kalkoohla, however, does not mention much about himself in the process, as he finds it annoying to explain what 'really happened' to outsiders. He is something of a legend among the Cuotl, an "Immortal Exile King" who has a Che Gueverra type cult following.
-Eventually, the Gods of Sun and Storms are destroyed by Giacomo and his allies. He finds the Eye of the Gods, Xil's attempt at constructing a massive weapon that was 'his answer to the Doge's Hammer.' Being the most adept engineer of the Cuotl Gods, he took on the task. Shok, however, defended her artifact, the Crypt of Knowledge, with abandon. That item allowed them to mind control several of the Cuotl people in the first place. The Crypt also was a database of arcane Cuotl technologies, but Giacomo only found use of the mind control feature.
-Eventually, as land after land falls to Giacomo, Czin becomes worried. Previously, he and the other gods had constructed a deep-space communications array to call for 'help' from home. However, the Cuotl 'gods' enjoyed their place as gods among the primitive peoples, and knew if reinforcements or a rescue mission came, they could lose their place. The array was around, but never was activated, unless they were in mortal danger.
-The Cuotl had a variety of weapons systems (such as the Star Bolt) still deployed in orbit, but knew 'phoning home' would ruin the fun.
-Ironically, the God of Death Czin knew he was in mortal danger. So, he attempted to broadcast a message home. Giacomo, of course, fought the Death God one-on-one, and came out victorious. He attempted to touch the Cuotl transmitter's power source, perhaps turn it to glass... When the last anyone saw of him was the transmitter exploding.
-Afterwards, Kalkooha attempted to rebuild his shattered domain, as countless tribal rivalries re-ignited. Some tribes wanted to keep the Cuotl technology around as a sign of unity. Others wanted to do away with it, perhaps embrace the callings of magic...
-Arri was exiled due to the King "not allowing her" to save the world. She and some loyalist followers were last seen near the Vinci lands, talking with Lenora.
-Lenora and the city of New Miana (rebuilt with Pirata's help), are attempting to unify the Vinci lands with common law. Not everyone likes this, however.
-The Alin Kingdom, having overcome the Dark Glass and recovering three of their most powerful heroes, seek future expansion in disorganized and war torn Vinci and Cuotl lands.
Potential Expansion Pack Ideas:
With a new civilization:
-The Kahan show up, and attempt to do a "Genghis Khan" on the weakened lands of Aio. Perhaps they use subversion to get the Alin to invade Vinci and Cuotl lands, so Alin over overstretched... Then they invade the overstretched rival empire.
-Or perhaps another alien culture with human slaves awaits, under the sea in places where sunken cities and slumbering magic "gods" lurk, awaiting for the time when the stars are right... Perhaps the Cuotl were trying to unify the people of Aio against the threat this underwater nation posed, as even the False Gods always feared their arrival, deep in their minds...
Without a new civilization:
-Alin Kingdom works to expand its borders into disorganized Vinci and Cuotl lands. However, they are helped by Vinci traitors (rogue Pirata officers and petty lords who want to take Lenora's place), and Cuotl mage-sympathizers (who want to drive the tribes that use advanced technology off their land, and revert to the ways of magic. Arri ends up starting a coup that deposes the King and withdraws from the Cuotl and Vinci lands. This is going on while another Cuotl ship appears. Or perhaps, Giacomo isn't dead, but comes back...changed (maybe even possessed by Czin...)
-How did the Great Inventor escape a glassy corruption (the fate of Sawu and Giacomo)?:
--When the Great Inventor came into contact with the hypothetical Cuotl artifact, perhaps it was a different type then what Sawu found. Another idea might be simply "biological." As a being of magic, perhaps Sawu was more easily corrupted or effected by an artifact of supertechnology.
Giacomo, however, was quite changed when he encountered a similar artifact. So, the answer is likely the Great Inventor encountered a different sort of artifact, or simply knew how to handle it from somewhere (perhaps some 'other Cuotl' trained him in hopes he would fight the power-hungry Cuotl's puppets).
-Yontash and Friends:
--It seems Yontash and his Beserker friends are remnants of the long removed Fourth Civilization, the Mongolian-styled Kahan. The Kahan might have been ability to move cities, which were built on the backs of giant creatures. One idea, if they are implemented in any mods or expansion packs, is they practice something called "Municipal Darwinism." (See the book "Infernal Devices.") The idea is big cities go around and tear up smaller communities for resources.
-Stagnant Tech Development:
--If the Great Inventor lived 1000 years before RoL, why has a nation of tinkers not advanced much? One idea might be a lack of unity. Each city-state focuses on its niche, and little else. Not even the brilliant minds of Miana had access to Pirata airship technology, at least until the third mission of the Vinci campaign. However, if enough minds work together (Perhaps in a place like the industrial district) they might be able to pull their efforts for something grand, like the Prototype Factory units.
On the Microsoft site for RoL (an old one), Giacomo's journal on the Vinci city-states muses "Why hasn't the lightning bolt struck again?" This likely refers to why no one has been as brilliant as the Great Inventor was in his single lifetime. Perhaps some other factors, like Cuotl or foreign manipulation, also stagnate development to an extent... However, improvements of existing technologies do happen, as Giacomo mentions at one point, he has the "latest series of clockwork men." Even Prototype Factory units are often improvements on existing technology.
-The Cuotl Gods and the Dish, and Why They Masterminded Events (AKA "Why did Czin wait to phone home?"):
--Imagine you are an engineer who crash-lands on a desert island. You bring a few modern devices with you, say like a flashlight, gun, and a few electrical parts. Say there's a primitve tribe there, and you use your modern devices to appear as a god to the locals.
You show them some things, say like irrigation, some basic tools, and so on. However, you obviously lack industrial infrastructure for stuff, say, like making a large boat to go home with. Say you have enough electrical parts (and knowledge) to construct a radio.
You can radio for a rescue, but guess what would happen? The natives currently worship you as a god. If you are rescued, you are simply another survivor. And at the very worst, someone else might come and claim "they" discovered the tribe and island. Ego plays a large factor.
Now, add on the fact you're dealing with not shipwrecked humans, but 1000 year old alien warlords who are quite content to be worshipped as gods. It seems only out of desperation Czin attempts send out a distress call.
Let's go back the desert island example. Say you find you have some wound only modern medicine can heal, say like some cancer or nasty disease. You are sick, and realize you'd rather live, so you call on your radio, and hope all those old parts are in working order.
-Is Giacomo dead?
--I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of him. I guess any expansion pack will clear things up. The fact his 'turning metal to glass' ability wasn't fully explored in the game, leads me to think either the idea was cut off, OR perhaps Giacomo might be back with some sort of glass problem... And perhaps might even be a villain looking to bring war to the Alin kingdom for betraying a friend (or girlfriend, depending on choice) of his... Or him existing as a monster, somewhere between and beyond technology and magic as most know it. And perhaps he might simply be trying to unify the people of Aio for when/if the Cuotl gods return. (This is a fun idea for a mod. Perhaps the Crypt of Knowledge 'really' had the DNA and uploaded minds of the Cuotl gods, and further study 'unleashes it' on the planet again).
-Why do Cuotl not need wealth?
--Note the Cuotl use energy instead of wealth. This is because, likely, of an alien economic system enforced on them. The system is called 'technocracy' and is extremely theoretical. However, in a fantasy world, it can worl perfectly. Unlike capitalism and socialism, which are developed as a result of 'scarcity' or lack of resources, technocracy is designed to work for surplus and abundance of resources.
There is no currency in the normal sense in technocracy, only something called the 'energy credit.' The energy credit is the amount of energy needed to make something. It cannot be spent in the normal sense, and remains and extremely abstract concept in economics circles. In RoL, however, the Cuotl need energy for different units and materials, hence the 'amount of energy needed to make something.'
Any fans of other Brian Reynolds games, might recognize energy credits from the game Alpha Centauri, one of the best turn based games out there. The concept was likely a subconscious influence. Or energy just sounded cool.
-What civilizations might work for an expansion pack, if new ones are added?
--Existing civilizations work very well in RoL, but many RTS games add new sides in expansions. Red Alert 2's expansion added Yuri. Age of Mythology's added the Atleanteans. The other AoE games added a variety of civilizations. Even the Rise of Nations expansion added new nations.
However, RoL's nations already encompass a lot, and are finely balanced. The idea is to have nations that play VERY differently from each other, and RoL does this VERY well. Any new civ would have to be distinctive, and be able to Rush, Boom, and Turtle (though the efficiency for each would vary, probably). Some games, like Warcraft 3 and Starcraft, have awesome expansion packs, and they didn't add new races.
Any new civ might also have to be magic, due to the fact there's 2 tech, and one magic nations. Likely, it would have an East Asian or southeast Asian styled culture, as Native American, European, and Mid-East were already used.
An idea that I liked was the Mongolian-styled Kahan. Even if they don't have nomadic cities on the backs of dinosaurs, they still have a certain 'bad-assness' factor. (These are Mongol based, remember. Genghis Khan was 1334.)
Some other ideas might be a Lovecraftian based Polynesian styled civilization. One drawback, of course, would include the use of water (and RoL doesn't have naval units, and adding then balancing them in the expansion would be annoying). Perhaps some boats, though, ride on spheres of magically held water... A possible name includes "Mu" or "Lemuria" after the fictional lost continents. Perhaps even R'lyeh...
Perhaps even a Tibetan monastery idea might work. Or a Korean styled nation that treats magic as technology. All of those ideas, I think, are MUCH cooler than cliche samurai and elves. No offense to any fans of Japanese culture, but I think it has been used FAR too much to be of any interest to me at least. BHG, being the innovators they are, would likely agree to at least using something new, that is IF they want something new, and RoL's nations already have a nice balance. There's always room for mods, though...
One idea, even if a new race DOES come in the expansion, is to leave open slots for new races.
-What might be better ways to tell a story using RoL's format?
--Here's a few suggestions. While the CTW map doesn't have the advantages of, say, a linear campaign, you have some new opportunities:
---Say you recruit a single player hero, but other than their initial mission, they don't say too much or have a lot of dialogue (hence lack of character). So, depending on who's in your party, or what missions you've completed, they say things.
---Even cutscenes or in-game dialogue can work. Perhaps having two possible allies who are antagonistic towards each other? Perhaps you must recruit one or the other, or when they're placed together, they bicker and suffer abilities (or conversely, if they're on good terms, you can do a special combo attack).
---There was far more Lenora scenes than Arri. Hence, Lenora seemed to be the more "in-depth" one. Even without expensive cut scenes, even say, Arri and Giacomo talking to each other during missions would work.
---More story explanations from side quests. A lot of the time, the sidequests didn't really solve many questions I had about the story and history of Aio. Perhaps information like that can be made available for players who 'go the extra mile?'
---Perhaps even more taunts from the villains. Other than Sawu's grunt in the intro movie, and some lines from Czin, we don't hear too much.
---More philosophy of each side shown. The Vinci don't always get along. Inter-party feuding/dialogue might work. Perhaps some techies in the Alin campaign can complain about 'working for the stuff mages' or the like (then mages moan on techies and so on).
---Fight more of the "other nations." In Starcraft and Warcraft, you don't just fight your own. You fight the other nations AND your own. In the 3 RoL campaigns, you largely fought your own (with minor exceptions). Showing perhaps, more Alin raids into Vinci turf in the first campaign, as well as perhaps a Cuotl base or even a few units in the final Vinci mission (with characters going 'WTF is that?') Fighting outsiders is interesting, because you get to see the 'conflict of tech and magic' and their philosophies. After all, on the back of the RoL box, you have the 3 nations' outlooks.
-What are some ideas for greater BHG/fan ties?
--Thanks to folks like Greypawn, BHG listens to and communicates with fans. After all, it makes business sense to listen to your potential consumer base. Here are some ideas that I think would be interesting fan/BHG events:
---Balance issues: Self-explanatory. Makes little sense fixing what isn't broken.
---Something like a module design contest. Several people must design a custom map or module, and the winner is placed as an additional map on the site, or as something that can be downloaded in a patch/update with some new maps.
A good example I can think of is Bioware, who make RPGs like Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights. NWN came out 4 years ago, and it has 2 expansions, but countless mods. Bioware sometimes adds more popular custom content for NWN into a "Community Expansion Pack" available on their site to modders.
---Something like a RoL fanfiction/story contest. You may recall that they did something like this last year. Perhaps say, winner might have their story turned into a module or map. Say a contest like "Describe the most exotic region of Aio," where each contestant might write about the region (or do it in the editor), and the top map(s) are added to as bonus maps.
---Living World- Again citing Bioware, they would often make "official modules" as demonstrations of their toolset and to show gamers their world was still being added to 'officially' other than (or simply in between) expansion packs. Aio's got A LOT of history and unsolved mysteries. Even if BHG doesn't do it, a private site, like RoL Heaven might have a "monthly posted section" of a home-made campaign.
Thanks for reading! Any comments/flames/opinions?