View Full Version : The story of MMDOC. Season 2: Endless Wars

06-24-2014, 10:34 AM
We asked Kurt McClung, Lead Writer for the Might & Magic franchise, to talk about the work and play that went into developing the Season 2 storylines for Duel of Champions.

The tremendous storytelling power of a collectible card game is hard to appreciate until you have actually been a part of the making of one. The first season of Duel of Champions, with its hundreds of epic images captured on small and mighty cards, taught us more than I would have ever imagined concerning the breadth and scope of the stories that could be told. We learned a lot, and the second season of the DoC saga, that we have named Endless Wars, build on the experience over four releases: Heart of Nightmares is already out and Griffin Bane is the most recent opus with two more to follow. We decided to raise the bar higher, and place the action of these extensions within the most ambitious and complex setting we had ever built in the Might & Magic story timeline. Welcome to the Year of the Seventh Dragon 565, the 2nd Demon Bloodmoon Eclipse, a time of unprecedented conflict and tragic betrayal. This was the setting of Might & Magic Heroes VI and there are still so many stories to tell.

In the first Season of Duel of Champions, Void Rising, we told the story through the eyes of a squad of Windswords who encountered epic heroes and powerful creatures from each of the major factions on a normal mission gone awry. The rise of the Herald of the Void is a major event in Might & Magic timeline: any time a Wizard becomes a Nethermancer powerful enough to be able to destroy the Dragon Gods, we have to take special care in story and gameplay to make sure it all hangs together. We put in a lot of energy and effort so that the cards put into play enough excitement to convey the epic layers of story. The legendary Shantiri towers where the dark Herald was finally defeated alongside Demon allies, the desert armies of Academy, Haven and Stronghold rallied to stop her plans were all part of the main backdrop. Afterwards though, we realized that we were limiting the story to the perspective of the Windswords and who they could have met. They were certainly at the heart of the affair, but they obviously couldn’t be everywhere at once. That is what pushed us to see if we couldn’t tell stories in Season 2 with several perspectives, at least one for each faction, the way you play them with your decks in the game. We realized we could do that if we relied on the cards themselves to do most of the talking and the campaigns to just give you a foot up and into the Griffin saddle.

Endless Wars is a series of four extensions with a simple binding metaplot: a handful of bitter Archangels want to finish a war against their arch enemies, the Faceless, that the Dragon Gods forced them to stop fighting centuries ago. Now limited by a Twilight Covenant, that keeps the Angels of Light from attacking directly the Faceless of Darkness, the Angels have converted humans of the Holy Falcon Empire into serving their Dragon God, Elrath, to bolster their military strength. That is what is going on behind the scenes. In the foreground, in each faction, you deal with the aftermath of their century long meddling. The Angels actually brought a Bloodmoon Eclipse forward in time, allowing hordes of Demons to cross over from Sheogh onto Ashan, as a sort of epic diversion so that they could drive the Faceless out of hiding and destroy them utterly. Angels on Ashan cannot lie, but they often have a particularly narrow view of the truth, especially when they are convinced that the powers of Light are in danger.


In the first extension of Endless Wars, the Heart of Nightmares, Sveltana Griffin brings the Mother Namtaru, an Avatar of a goddess, onto Ashan and starts stirring up the dust between the forces of Light and Darkness. The Mother Namtaru is this giant half-human half-spider creature that is the incarnation of the Death Face of the Dragon Goddess of Order. She’s mean, she’s powerful and she’s ugly cool. Sveltana has to battle every faction of Ashan, including her own sister Necromancer, Arianna, to bring the goddess back into the lands of the Wizards. Nothing like having the living avatar of a goddess in your kingdom to solidify your religious Necromancer cult. Not everyone, especially the Angels are easy with the idea, but once the Spider Queen safely protected in Heresh, there’s not a lot anyone can do about it, at least for now.

In Griffin Bane, the most recent extension of DoC, whose events take place just a few years after Sveltana’s exploits, the Holy Falcon Empire, encouraged by the Angels, have started ousting Orcs out of the Elven territories that they suspect under the influence of Dark Councilors, the Faceless. This angelical maneuvering resulted in the slaughter of an entire tribe of Orcs lead by the powerful Shaman Toghrul, also the only survivor of the massacre. In search of vengeance against the imperial commander, Duke Pavel Griffin (that’s right, a Griffin, he is Sveltana’s brother), Toghrul sells his soul to the Archdemon Prince Ahribban in exchange for his promise to destroy every Griffin soul in their family tree. Slitting his own throat, Toghrul uses his blood to open a portal to Sheogh, and Demons are unleashed into the Griffin Duchy. Pavel is killed, but is able to slay the last Demon in his final action and save his infant son and the Griffin line from extermination. It’s a good thing for us, because his son and grandchildren have a lot of epic battles in them for the history books.

Sveltana leaves the Necromancers in the Seven Cities, where she has gained legendary status for bringing back the Mother Namtaru, in order to serve as regent to Pavel’s son and only heir, Slava. Sveltana wasn’t able to save her brother, but she would not allow anyone else to raise a Griffin child other than another Griffin. Slava ends up meeting Toghrul in battle, proof that the Dragon Gods have a karmic sense of humor, who has become an Incubus following his deal with Prince Ahribban. He was reincarnated in Demon form in Sheogh, and like all Demons when reborn, he has retained all of his memories and now has a doubled hatred for the Griffins. He knocked on every door in hell until Ahribban found him a way to get back the Griffin Duchy and make good on his vow to “kill them all.” The Orc Incubus Torghrul is not alone and leads an army of Chaos tainted Orcs and other Demons, all who have vowed to help Toghrul keep his promise and slaughter every last living Griffin, and even a few of their ghosts if they come across any.

The events of Heart of Nightmares and Griffin Bane are in fact the prelude of the massive confrontations yet to come in DoC S07 and S08. Every faction of Might & Magic from the Nagas of the Lotus Empire, the Wizards of the Seven Cities, the Necromancers of Al Betyl and the Knights and Priests of the Holy Falcon Empire are on the brink of annihilation when the walls of Sheogh are weakened and the six Princes of Sheogh invade Ashan at the head of countless Demon hordes. But if that weren’t enough, in the chaos of the war, which among other tragedies marks the death of the Emperor Liam of Falcon, the Archangel Michael, a two thousand year old charismatic military genius, takes control of all the allied armies and plots to build a new Empire of Light until the threat of Darkness has been removed forever. Everyone is forced to choose a side in this Endless War between Darkness and Light. But that’s a story for next time…

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Writing for the World of Might & Magic

Might & Magic is a world where powerful factions are at war basically all the time, for some reason or another. Fans have been playing in this High Fantasy world for over 30 years, and the most recent reboot of the lore happened over a decade ago, since Ubisoft took over the title and gave it a sturdy foundation of nine militant factions and a pantheon of mighty and magical Dragon Gods. We have since then mastered the art of devising pretexts for wars: we even have a casus belli wheel for generating random conflicts, and between the various writing teams and the fans, thousands of battle situations have been put into playable scenarios.

The challenge for writing a story for a card game with multiple decks is that everyone who picks up an army and goes to war deserves to feel that their army is justified in what they are doing: that their cause is worthy. Whether you are playing Orcs or Wizards, Angels or Demons, you raise your banner and you fight for your vision of good. We realized that Duel of Champions had a lot in common with the gameplay of Might & Magic Heroes or its little brother, Clash of Heroes. They are all three game experiences where you incarnate a faction with a hero and then fight battles. We started looking at similar settings and it became obvious that the story setting of Heroes VI, our most ambitious and complex opus ever, was the perfect fit for a season 2.

The exciting thing about a card game is that you tell the story as if you were piecing together a giant stain-glassed window in a cathedral, or a long painted mural in a town hall. Only in Might & Magic the cathedral is floating in the clouds, dedicated to a Dragon God, and the town hall is protected by Griffins and Dire Wolves. You have to remember that the tools you are using to etch story into marble are creatures and spells, and they can be played by a powerful hero to sway the outcome of a battle. After a while you start to get a feel for this storytelling media, and you realize that there is no limit to the stories you can tell, as long as they don’t start to chip away at the gameplay.

Telling this story in DoC, as in any good card game, is just a matter of capturing the protagonists and antagonists in their most epic moments, arming them with their most powerful spells and providing cards of their most dangerous units for their armies. As writers it took us a while to trust this mosaic storytelling system, until we realized that we could trust the players to figure it out. Strategy game cards players are smart. They get it, if you give them enough. We’ve written up some succinct introductory campaigns for each extension that can be played and give an initial kickstart to the story side of the experience, but we know a lot of people will just start playing against real adversaries and maybe come back to the campaigns if they want to learn a little more. There is a lot of story to tell, but the best stories are going to be those the players invent on the battlefield. That’s what writing for video games is all about… we set the board, and the players write the memories.

06-24-2014, 05:57 PM
1) 565 YSD? A mistype or 2nd eclipse war lasted more than one year?
2) Arianna is Sveltana's actual sister or like a "close friend"?
3) So, will we get Void Rising story from another perspective, not Vein's?

06-25-2014, 06:12 PM
So would the griffin bane cards contain flavor texts???????

06-26-2014, 07:10 PM
You mean Togrhul not Torghul right?

06-28-2014, 01:38 PM
with this backround if there would be no dungeon in the future than you devs are really lazy

06-28-2014, 05:30 PM
with this backround if there would be no dungeon in the future than you devs are really lazy

It's really hard to balance the game around more than 6 factions. This has been discussed before. Right now, the factions are set.

06-30-2014, 01:14 PM
It's really hard to balance the game around more than 6 factions. This has been discussed before. Right now, the factions are set.

this game has absolutely no balance....it would not matter if it becomes even more unbalalnced

I know what has been discussed.... that is just an excuse for them to do less work

06-30-2014, 01:49 PM
We wont see another faction anytime soon, this is confirmed and people should learn to deal with it.

We currently have 6 factions in the game, all of them are actually supposed to have a unique playstyle. Sure, this is not the case, especially in standard and the phsilosophy changes of Sanctuary and Haven which hurt them in a way that they cant compete at the highest level. I hope this will be changed with the next set Griffin Bane.

Achieving balance while giving each faction a unique playstyle is very difficult and this should be obvious even to the biggest critic. The lack of a better balance is already causing enough frustration among the playerbase. Now by the logic of the great ulpsz, the design team should simply throw in another faction to make things even worse (you cant possibly expect things will get magically better with introducing another faction, right?) and cause even MORE frustration and we will have even less players. I cannot even fathom how someone can fail to see this.

Dont get me wrong, i would love to see more factions, but i will gladly trade it for a game with 6 better balanced factions.
Sorry for the off topic.

As for the topic, i actually like to read more history/background stories, so pls keep them coming :)

07-01-2014, 10:01 PM
If I remember correctly, the main problems that prevents the insertion of new factions in the game are neither balance nor introduction
of new specific game mechanics, but the further dilution of the cards of every faction in the current standard pack size, and then the
increased size of any future expansion, resulting in long delays for art, development and testing :eek:

07-02-2014, 10:56 PM
and cause even MORE frustration and we will have even less players. I cannot even fathom how someone can fail to see this.

this is allready happening for a long time now...

wonder how you fail to see this??

diversity in chaos makes chaos more bearable - the logic of grat ulpsz:p

now on a more serious note...the devs have clarley demonstrated that they can t ballance this game properley..

so betetr ballance - this will never happen..

at least heaving all factions ingame would make things much more fun..which is the point of a game after all isn't it ???...not that stupid competitive e sport **** that makes you nerds fell so special

09-08-2014, 08:11 PM
ulpsz is right. Am a lore-fanatic and epic fight between angels and faceless cannot be demonstrated by a fight between haven and any other faction other than dungeon
No player quits because sanctuary is weak, they just play other factions and also try ways to make sanctuary better.With this diversity in play styles inferno will always have high attack and haven high retaliation. s7 unbalanced factions is far better than 6 unbalanced factions. Trust my word with the diversity and uniqueness of doc factions,all factions would never be belanced, Mark my word guys who supported laziness of devs

09-09-2014, 02:57 AM
They could make a new kind of pack for new factions, that would earn some money for them and thatīs all, no problem. Faction mechanics are easy to design, they have experienced people working on that every new expansion, I donīt see the problem with a new faction.

btw this lore is a bit different than homm6, wasnīt toghrul defeated (and killed) in the tutorial by slava? Well I guess orcs are always so op in doc that they even change the lore to keep them alive :P

09-09-2014, 06:28 AM
If you want to add new factions, you must create 91 new cards for that faction (now each faction have exactly 91 cards). So I don't think, that developers may add new faction by expansion. Maybe they add new faction by BS3.

btw this lore is a bit different than homm6, wasnīt toghrul defeated (and killed) in the tutorial by slava? Well I guess orcs are always so op in doc that they even change the lore to keep them alive :P
Toghrul was defeated. But he reborned in Sheogh then:)