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The Shadowstorm Chronicles: Exodium is a single-player role-playing video game developed and published by Tartarus Studios. It is the first official installment of The Shadowstorm Chronicles series, although it is second to the unofficial Dragonlance. It was released in June of 2008 on Windows, and in November 2008 it was released for XBox 360 and PlayStation 3 also. The game was not expected to be highly successful, but recieved an average review of 97% by both local and international game critics. After a few weeks the game picked up sales, and as of January 2009 has sold over 75,0000 copies.


Shadowstorm Chronicles

The game cover design for Exodium

Gameplay

Exodium plays as a sandbox RPG. The player creates a male or female character from ten races; the allegory of mankind called the Sons of the West, the Orcs, the Black Elves, the Lizardfolk, the Ascended Elves, the Sea Elves, Beast-Men, Forest Elves and Rhaurkash, nomadic desert people. After choosing the race of your character the player proceedes to choose from 15 classes restricted to certain races.

Classes

Warrior - All races. The master of sword and shield, the warrior is akin with melee combat.

Ranger - All races besides Beast-Mean, Lizardfolk, and Sea Elves. Hidden in the shadows, the ranger strikes from the darkness with precision and unrelenting.

Light Mage - All races besides Orcs, Black Elves, Rhaurkash, Beast-Men, and Lizardfolk. Loyal to the light, these mages dedicate their lives to seeking out and banishing darkness.

Dark Mage - All races besides Sons of the West, Ascended Elves, Sea Elves, Forest Elves and Rhaurkash. Tainted by evil and the impending Darkness, dark mages use their fell powers to destroy all that is good.

Green Mage - Restricted to Lizardfolk and Forest Elves. These masters of the trees use their green power to protect their sacred glades and springs.

Red Mage - Restricted to Beast-Men, Black Elves, and Orcs. Masters of fire and pyromancy, red mages destroy all in their path with red flames.

Knight - Restricted to Sons of the West and Ascended Elves. Ascended and loyal to their kings and queens, knights are renowned fighters and swordsmen.

Shaman - Restricted to Orcs, Beast-Men, Rhaurkash, and Lizardfolk. Trained in the Old Ways, the nomadic shamans preform all manner of dark rituals including sacrificing their own people.

Skulltaker - Restricted to Beast-Men and Orcs. Brutal and furious, skulltakers are the reapers of the east and kill all they lay their eyes upon with unrelenting fury and bloodlust.

Hunter - Restricted to Beast-Men, Forest Elves, and Lizardfolk. Attuned with the wild, hunters live off the land and are akin with the bow and knife.

Beastslayer - All races besides Beast-Men. Those who hunt Beast-Men, these men and women are furious hunters that slay any Beast-Men in their path, to claim the bounty.

Orcslayer - All races besides Orcs. Those who hunt Orcs, these men and women are furious hunters that slay any Orc in their path, to claim the bounty.

Lizardslayer - All races besides Lizardfolk. Those brave enough to journey to the eastern jungles are there for one reason, to hunt the race of Lizardfolk and claim the reward.

Sea Lancers/Sea Maidens - Restricted to Sea Elves. The guardians of the undersea, sea lancers and sea maidens are the ocean's fiercest soldiers.

Setting

Exodium is set in the world of Asranathi, mainly in the West and the East lands. To the west lies the people of light; the Sons of the West, the Ascended Elves, the Forest Elves and the Sea Elves. To the east lies the Sunderlands; where the Black Elves, Lizardfolk, Beast-Men, and Orcs dwell. The Great Central Desert that lies between these places is the home of the Rhaurkash. If the player creates a character whose race dwells in the Sunderlands, they start at either Orksha og Dreg (Orcs), Sepharathi (Black Elves), Xtotl (Lizardfolk), or Beasthold (Beast-Men), the main cities of the races. If they play as a "good" race, they start at either Aquilesse (Sons of the West), Arathi Urel (Ascended Elves), Loreyin Athar (Forest Elves), or Caladin Kirel (Sea Elves). The Rhaurkash are neutral, and the player can choose to be evil or good.

Story

Evil Campaign

If the player chooses any of the following races: Black Elves, Lizardfolk, Beast-Men, or Orcs, they can preform the main evil quest, called Hastening the Sundering. Part One of this quest begins as soon as the player's character enters Asranathi's Sunderlands, after they recieved a premonition from their race's leader; eg. if the player is a Black Elf Dark Lord Sepharin will speak to them or if the player is a Beast-Man Brayeg the Skullslayer will speak to them. They are instructed to journey to the centre of all Darkness power; the Spire of Apith Azarani, in the lands owned by the Black Elves. As a Black Elf this is particularly easy, as you will only fight feral Sunder-minions of variant levels upon arriving at Apith Azarani. If you are any of the other three races then you have to fight your way into Apith Azarani, against both Black Elves and feral Sunder-minions of variant levels. Upon reaching the pinnacle of the spire, the spirit of the Shadow Father himself appears to you, and if you are over 50% Dark-influence he will accept you for the quest. If you are less he tells you to gain your darkness by pillaging the lands of the west, which can be achieved by doing a few of the minor quests. Once the Shadow Father is satisfied, he instructs you to steal the sacred blade from the city of Aquilesse, capital of mankind. He wants you to return to Apith Azarani with it and taint it with black magic. Once the player is dark enough to complete the quest, they have the choice to leave the Sunderlands via ship from Sepharanthi, or continue there with minor quests. When the player boards the ship in Sepharanthi, they encounter a stowaway, the Rhaurkash assassin Khalina, who after speaking the the player is allowed the join them to Aquilesse. Khalina is neutral, but judging by the player's decisions will become evil or good, and if the player is male they can develop a relationship with her.

Upon arriving on the Esrad Plateau in the West, the player and Khalina journey to the abandoned Westernian city of Badrim, destroyed the the Old Wars. The player can explore the ruins, where they will encounter undead soldiers and a liche who is commanding them, which can be killed to complete a minor quest. After leaving Badrim, the player encounters a party of Westernian soldiers, who immediatley attack. If the player in level 5 or under, the Westernian soldiers will kill them, whereupon Khalina saves the player's life. However if the player is above level 5, they will be able to defeat the soldiers on their own. As the player approaches Aquilesse, they can raid a series of outlying towns to aquire items and experience. Using Khalina's expert stealth skill, the player and her infiltrate Aquilesse and sneak into the Holy Chamber, which holds the sword. After stealing it, the player can equip it, which is useful due to its high attack. Before leaving, the player is confronted by Prince Ahad of the West, who immediately engages the player in combat. If the player sucessfully defeats and kills Ahad, they can escape. Ahad, who plays an important part in the good alignment quest, is found by Westernian guards shortly after the player's departure.

Upon leaving Aquilesse, the player and Khalina return to the Esrad Plateau and sail back to Sepharanthi, where they are confronted by a band of Black Elf pirates. The player can kill them or persaude them to step down, either choice does affect the story. The player once again journeys to Apith Azarani, and when they arrive are confronted by a Ascended Elf paladin called Calahadras. The player initiates combat, whereupon an unknown assailate impales the elf through the chest with an axe. The second newcomer, an Orc berserk Vashg og Drum claims that saving the player's life he should be further protected from the forces of light, and joins the party. He is naturally evil, and accepts the player's dark choices. After arriving at the top of Apith Azarani the Shadow Father reappears and instructs the player to place the sword in the Well of Shroud, thus tainting it. The new Tainted Blade is bestowed upon the player, who is then given the task to unite the realms of the SunderlandTs to fulfill the Sundering of prophecy. Vashg then proposes that they journey to Orksha og Dreg, where it would be easiest to persuade the orcs to join the crusade. The player can either head to Orksha og Dreg at Vashg's request, or journey to any of the other "evil" capital cities.

When the player journeys to Orksha og Dreg, they find the orc kingdom in chaos. Old King Vrognad is dead, and Vashg is one of his heirs, along with his rival Drogog og Sharg. This quest, called Orc Kin War, must be completed in order to gain the allegiance of the entire orc nation. The player can either side with Drogog, who will later join the party and become king, essentially meaning Vashg must be killed instead, or side with Vashg and kill Drogog and his bodyguard, thus resulting in Vashg becoming king. If the player chooses the side with Drogog, much to Khalina's disgust, the party will ambush Vashg while he sleeps and kill him. If the player sides with Vashg they will have to sneak into Drogog's camp and kill him and his bodyguard. Either choice results in either Vashg or Drogog becoming king, and thus signing the orcs into the crusade

The player is confronted by Khalina about journeying next to the Rhaurkash' largest encampment and seeking their allegiance and will gain favour with her if they agree. The player, alongside Khalina and Drogog, or Vashg, depending on their earlier choices, can continue to head to any of the remaining capitals. If the player decides to take Khalina's option, the most common, the party heads into the desert, where they are later confronted by the Westernian Knight Sir Brendan Gallohach, a major character in the good campaign. Gallohach offers the player a chance to repent and join the light, turning in the Tainted Blade and becoming a servant of light. If the player agrees, Khalina stays with the group, but Vashg or Drogog leaves, whereupon he attacks the party, joined by Gallohach. If the player declines Gallohach's offer, they will fight him and upon killing him, may continue the evil alignment quest.

Upon arriving at the Rhaurkash encampment, Khalina takes the party to the home of her father Ashabto, the leader of the area, and proposes that the Rhaurkash join the forces of evil. Ashabto agrees, on the condition that the player retrieves the sacred tribe spear lodged in the hide of a monster dwelling in a nearby cave. The player can agree to this quest, or kill Ashabto and take control of the Rhaurkash, which will result in Khalina's departure. If the player does the quest, they will earn respect amongst the Rhaurkash, and Khalina will make her first romantic advance on the player if they are male. Upon gaining the full trust and commitment of the Rhaurkash, the player can chose to journey to any of the remaining capitals. Two more characters will be introduced depending on the player's choice. If the player chooses to journey deep into Xtotl, they will encounter the rogue Westernian Lizardslayer Bredan, who starts off as neutral but can become evil. If the player instead chooses to journey to Beast-Hold, they will encounter the Beastman hunter Drogesh. The player can simply journey into either realm to aquire both characters, and then complete the quests.

The Lizardfolk quest involves the player being lead by Bredan into Xtotl, where they must slay the leader Great Ztentatl in the Lizardfolk Crusade. If the player is a Lizardfolk, this style of quest cannot be done, and neither Bredan can join the group due to his class. Instead of killing Ztentatl, the player can do the Path of Ancestor Lizardfolk quest, where they will journey to Xtotl and convince Ztentatl. Either quest will result in the loyalty of the Lizardfolk. If the player choses the Beastmen quest Tribal Warfare before or after the Lizardfolk quest, it does not differ except in that if the player is Beastmen themselves. This makes the quest much more easier, as they are not "outsiders" and simply must reclaim Brayeg the Skullslayer's most valuable skull from an enemy of Beastmen tribe to gain his trust. A similar favour must be done if the player is not a Beastmen, but either way to gain the favour of Brayeg and the Beastmen agree to join the crusade. With Sepharanthi remaining, the player begins to become on edge if they are a Black Elf, hinting that something in their past is waiting in Sepharanthi. The party enters unscathed into Sepharanthi if they are a Black Elf, but if they are not they must fight a few 15 level plus Sepharanthi Guards and Soldiers, before Sepharin appears with his bodyguard. If the player is a Black Elf he will confront them with the truth that they are indeed his heir, and that Sepharin plans to destroy the source of Darkness and seize entire control of the world. He will then offer the player the chance to join him, thus betraying the Shadow Father. If the player declines he will fight them, which he also does after speaking to them if they are not a Black Elf.

Fighting A God: If the player choses to side with Sepharin, he will task them with rallying the now united Sundelrands and attacking the Shadow Father himself, thus asserting control entirely. Sepharin and the rest of the "evil" leaders muster their troops and attack the Shadow Father, whereupon the player's party is joined by Sepharin to fight the Shadow Father, who is level 50+. Upon his defeat Sepharin takes the Crown of Shadow and bestows it upon the player, naming the ruler of the Sunderlands and the Shadow Realm. The player completes the storyline, thus fulfilling the main quest.

Betraying the Dark Lord: If the player has chosen against him and defeated him, they will become the new leader of the Sunderlands and muster the races of evil to fulfill the Sundering by destroying the forces of light in the final story quest, The Final Battle. During a large scale battle between the forces of dark and light, the player and the party must defeat the enemy leaders, which will result in victory. However, they must also protect their own leaders, as if one falls their people will abandon the battle and flee. This can be done easily, by assigning each party member to "defend" a leader, besides the player if they are a black elf, the race's leader. Upon defeating the enemy entirely, the Shadow Father surfaces and bestows the player as his mortal champion. The final cutscene shows the player leaving with Sepharin and their party, with a voice that is that of the original Shadowstorm downloadable game Dragonlance's protagonist Labas saying "the choices make the hero, or the villain. Yet the Shadow Father is still not appease, and he will not be ever".

Good Campaign

If the player chooses the Good alignment story, by selecting any of the Good alignment characters, they will awake in the capital city of their race after having a frightening premonition involving the Shadow Father, lord of darkness. The player then heads to their faction's religious leader (eg. Sons of the West's Father Ibelim Castalor, Ascended Elves' Ehalina Catheldari). They will inform the character that they may perhaps be the Prophet of Light, destined to defeat the Shadow Lord. They tell the character to go Fahral'eldar, the Neutral City, and seek out Threnelden Asgar, beginning the main The Prophet's Journey. Upon arriving in Fahral'eldar the player is ambushed by bandits, whereupon they are saved by Forest Elf rogue Atharai. Atharai questions the player on their purpose in Fahral'eldar, and if they answer she will join the party, saying that the player needs someone to look out for them in Fahral'eldar. After eventually seeking out Threnelden Asgar, he instructs the player to journey to Aquilesse and seek out the sacred blade, and in turn entrust the aid of the Sons of the West in the fight against the Sundering. En route to Aquilesse the player and Atharai are ambushed by low level Shadowspawn, whereupon they are rescued by Sir Brendan Gallohach, who upon learning the player's quest joins the party.

Critical response

Tartarus Studios had no real intention nor expectations of Exodium achieving the acclaim and success it did. Following the game's release on June 15th 2008 initial response was praising, averaging on 98% of perfect scores, with critics praising the game's unique and engaging story, gameplay which took the best elements of Oblivion and Neverwinter Nights, and a large interesting world in which to adventure. Later reviews were also praising. GamerUk said: "Shadowstorm is one of best RPGs ever, with in-depth story, near flawless gameplay, and a beautiful high fantasy realm, inspired by Tolkien and countless other fantasy authors".

Downloadable content

Tartarus announced two major DLCs for Exodium following its realease, Quest For the Relics and Dragon Hunter. Minor DLCs including Sword of the Paladin and A History of Asranathi were later made available.

Quest For the Relics

Quest For the Relics adds the ruined Temple of the Divine to the game, as well as the Lost Relics of the Divine quest. Upon completing the quest, the player is rewarded with the Sword of Sir Lorek, with a 50+ attack and fire damage. Inside the Temple there are low level Shadowspawn and bandits, with their leader Gothon who is fought as a boss for the quest.

Dragon Hunter

Dragon Hunter adds the Pass of Shadurthe to the game, as well as the Legends of Dragons quest. Upon completing the quest, the player is rewarded with the Shield of Sir Lorek, which goes hand in hand in with the Sword of Sir Lorek, acquired in the Quest For the Relics DLC. The Pass contains low level dragons, as well as the Dragon Matriarch, a high level queen dragon guarding the Shield among other loot.

Sword of the Paladin

Sword of Paladin adds bonus items to the game, including higher level Paladin weapons and armour. It also adds a small quest involving a lost Paladin's sword.

A History of Asranathi

A History of Asranathi adds the Archives of Arathi Urel, where the player can acquire high level magic tomes.

Editions

Bonus Edition
A Bonus Edition was released on June 17th 2008, containing the game itself as well as the two major DLCs, "Quest For the Relics" and "Dragon Hunter".
Collector's Edition
A Collector's Edition was released in December of 2008 with the game, all DLC contained, a map of Asranathi, a signed poster, and a Paladin figurine.
Master's Edition
The Master's Edition was released in January 2009, and contains along with all the contents of Collector's and Bonus Editions; a manual to the game and a short novel written by the game's script writer J.M.C Hoult.
Gold Edition
Following 2009's expansion The Shadowstorm Chronicles: Path of Shadow, both content were released in a Gold Edition together, with bonus features such as rare items and et cetera.

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