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Musements about
Heroes of Might and Magic IV world
by Bluewind, 26th of April, 2002
The destruction of the old home was the disaster of tremendous proportions. Like it could be anything else! Many creatures died with the world and never made it to the saving portals leading to the new world.
In the new world new alliances and new towns were made. Some creatures changed their hometowns, others decided to follow the neutral way, though many kept their loyalty to certain towns.
There were even new recruits among strange creatures living in this new world.  
It was the hard times and it wasn't possible to enlist enough tribes to fill the former 7-levels system of the army. Shortage of the funds was also acute. Therefore, the painful decision was made. The armies have only 4 levels of creatures with possibility to choose between two candidates from the 2nd level up.

The Heroes (who managed to survive the flight) also were profoundly changed by this ordeal and new conditions of the place they have to call home now. Some abilities were lost; some new skills were acquired. Sometimes old magic didn't work and the new rules had to be introduced. Five schools of magic emerged: Nature, Order, Chaos, Life and Death.

Each of the five towns that were organised on the basis of the old beliefs and customs brought with population from the old world aligned themselves with the certain magic school.

1.          Haven, the former Castle chose Life Magic. They were always straightforward guys, this knights.

2.          Necropolis didn't even bother to change the name, probably because the dead are the same shape on every world, and if even the shapes are slightly different, the nature doesn't change, that's why it isn't a surprise for anyone that they aligned themselves with Death Magic school.

3.          Academy, the former Tower chose Order magic school. The usual place for all scholars with strict rules and dedication to the learning. Logical choice they said. Oh yes, these snow dwelling creatures reek of logic!

4.          Asylum, the former Dungeon chose Chaos magic school. The toughest and meanest creatures lived, live and will live there. The name of the magic school was probably in memory of the Chaos Hydras who was left behind protecting portals.

5.          Preserve, the former Rampart chose Nature magic. What else Elves could choose? Of course, only nature. They are very ecological.

6.          There is the sixth town as well, which banned all magic and kept its old name from the days of Antagarich - Stronghold

Now to prevent any disputes and conflicts each town has only the specific classes of the heroes.

Haven Knight & Priest   
Necropolis Death Knight & Necromancer  
Academy Lord & Mage   
Asylum Thief & Sorcerer
Preserve Archer & Druid  
Stronghold Barbarian

Though it doesn't mean that if you, for example chose Academy, you would have only Lord and Mage heroes (just with different faces and names and biographies but with the same initial characteristics). You also may choose from the hero classes of the aligned towns, i.e. the towns in league with you.
With the exception of the Stronghold (which associates with all town types equally), each town has a general alliance with two other town types. This means that you can hire heroes from that town type at your Tavern.

Haven = Academy & Preserve
Necropolis = Academy & Asylum
Academy = Haven & Necropolis
Asylum = Necropolis & Preserve
Preserve = Haven & Asylum

The strange thing, however, is that after this all gets very complicated. The hero could learn a lot of things and because of this new learning he/she constantly changes his/her orientation (it's like if you'd learn how to drive your personal car and after this you're not an accounter anymore, but a Driver of Bookkeeping). The toughest thing is that it isn't that easy to earn enough experience even for what your hero needs urgently as all skills are interconnected and interdependent. In addition (like all this wasn't enough), there are 5 (five!) levels of the each skill.

For example, if your hero wants to become Grand Master in Life Magic, he/she needs first to learn Healing up to Grand Master level and Spirituality up to Grand Master level as well.
So, you better be prepared for a lot of running after new experience points and to have a reference table with advanced hero classes abilities at hand, as, I am repeating myself, with nearly each new learned skill the hero can drastically change his/her special ability.
Example: you have basic hero Sorcerer in Asylum who hasn't any special abilities at all. When this hero would learn in addition to his/her native Chaos Magic, say Order Magic, the hero becomes Wizard and gains ability that decreases the spell point cost for all spells by 2. But what if you choose to teach your hero not Order Magic but Scouting, then he/she becomes Fire Diviner with the ability of +20% to the effects of all fire-based spells.
A lot of difficult choices, in my opinion.

One thing that every visitor would notice immediately in the new world of Heroes IV is this perpetual grey smoke covering everything around except the immediate area around the flagged buildings and friendly heroes.

Probably the shortage of heroes or maybe theirs constant occupation with learning and improving skills forced to permit creatures much more independence that it was in the old world. Now armies without heroes can move around the map, carry artefacts and even engage in battles.

You could even watch how they carry a casket with them. No, it doesn't mean that they are secret followers of necromancy. They simply carry the body of their fallen hero. Surprised? Easy days of Heroes III when your favourite hero could cast spells and conduct the battle from nearby hill are in the past. Now the hero could be killed in battle as any other creature. But he could be resurrected too, if only your army wasn't incinerated completely and at least one creature survived to drag or carry the hero's body back till the nearest friendly town or sanctuary with healing monks.
I am wondering, though, how this poor creature will stand to the task if there are two heroes in the army and both would be killed? Yes, it is possible to have two heroes in the army and three and four if you want, but naturally not more than seven of them, though it is very doubtful you'd ever see so many of them as it is permitted to acquire only one hero per week. No more lengthy chains of heroes circling around world and so nicely transporting fresh army units to the place where they are most needed.  
But returning to our problem - if this one surviving creature is a Black Dragon, then it is probably okay, he will just take one casket under one wing and the second casket under another. But if it is a Ghost?! Poor creature is waving under the strain of holding his own head in hands!

Interesting things are happening with heroes in this new world. In addition to new opportunity to be killed (and resurrected), they can now be taken as prisoners and thrown into town prisons. Then the merry time of sieges to save the famous hero would begin.

Oh, the sieges - the ultimate test of strategic planning, which should be modified to the new rules in Heroes IV if your hero want to be victorious:
1.          There are raised platforms inside the town and the defenders can place shooters or any other unit on top of them and can move them down to the ground at any time in the battle. No any other defence of the town is provided (like turrets in Heroes III).   
2.          There are no any evident or hidden obstacles around the walls and the attackers can enter the town only through the gates, providing of course that they would brake them first.
3.          Standing beside the walls can be dangerous as the defenders can attack you through the walls, but you can do the same to them!

One more thing to remember in battles. Heroes of this new world suddenly discovered for themselves such a concept as the line of sight. They decided that if one unit is standing in front of another (or any other obstacle is instead of it), then it isn't possible to accomplish a ranged attack at the unit standing behind.
Well, with some grumbling it could be accepted in mundane ranged attacks with such objects like arrows, boulders, spears, axes or whatever is handy. But when casting spells?! Isn't it strange? All magical theories say that it isn't absolutely necessary to have a target before you for casting a spell on it. It seems that the atmosphere of the new world dampens the magical field and prevents the ordinary magical laws from normal functioning.
That is probably the reason why the modern heroes have to use potions in addition to the usual spell books.

New civilisation requires greater speeds and presses of time brought to life the new invention of the
caravans
, which can be scheduled to transport creatures from dwellings to the towns with the condition that no enemy unit obstructs their route.

You must watch not only for enemy armies but for neutral armies too. They usually are not interested in attacking your towns but they are very fond of precious materials and like to occupy mines. Otherwise, they are just fun to look at how they are running back and forth.

Water is in abundance in the new world and seamanship is flourishing. Art of navigating the seas was raised in its status and now the captain of a ship is really a God when at sea; and should any battle occurred his/her level of expertise could greatly influence the outcome of the battle on the sea.

Water isn't as safe as it was in the old world. There are strange creatures living in it and rumours were that there were unexplained disappearances of units and even whole armies who risked spending a night near the shore. Few eyewitnesses claimed that the cause was some kind of terrible sea monster.

To protect population from unknown sea creatures and provide fast transportation across water obstacles it was ordered to drag chains across harbours; to launch regular ferry traffic and to build bridges across rivers.   
 
Actually, it seems that construction is a most popular occupation of the habitants of this world, at least when they do not fight with each other. The evidences of this are everywhere  you can't go anywhere without encountering different gates and towers with some secret passwords or ridiculous requirements in order to fulfil which you must walk to another corner of the world and find some sage or whoever in some house or whatever.   

So many command decisions outside immediate military actions required the development of a new government institution  Governor seat. Now you could assign a governor in any of your town to check the smooth running of the deals and improving your balance sheet.

All in all, it is a strange world with colourful landscapes and many creatures to populate it. You'll have to spend a lot of time to discover all its secrets and I wish you good luck in this.