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About Golem

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Golem    Golem is a 2D isometric perspective role-playing game in the spirit of such timeless classics as Nethack, Angband, and Rogue, as well as more modern isometric-style RPGs. In Golem, you take control of a spirit called an Animus, which can animate specially designed 'bodies', or golems, which enhance your strengths and can provide new skills and abilities. Questing through a large world of randomly-generated levels, you can explore caves, desert wastelands, green forests, fields and farmlands, and many towns. You will face a large number of monsters, many of which are themselves golems, whose bodies you can inhabit (providing you don't destroy them completely) once the monster is vanquished. As you progress through the game and face tougher monsters, you will have access to stronger golems to accentuate your own innate abilities.

   Golem construction was considered an art form among many ancient magii, who took pains to make their constructs aesthetically appealing. Thus, most golems bear adornments of gems or other Talismans. Due to the ever-changing needs of the magii, they made these Talismans to be both functional and detachable, so that they might thereby modify the abilities and strengths of their golems at need. There are many such Talismans in the world, hidden in deep, secret places, by which you can further enhance the powers of your golem.

The Story

   The war is over.

   After six months of bloodshed and fire, the only humans surviving in the land are three thousand desperate holdouts scattered in caves deep in the Izbrut Mountains. Six months of holocaust, an inferno that spread from the desert city of Ambereld, has left the world a wasteland, scattered with cities of heaped rubble, towns of bloodied soil and charred timbers, villages of the heaped and reeking dead.

   The true tale of man's downfall truly began two years ago, when the old emperor Zephirus, Black One of Ambereld, began to slip finally and irrevocably into his dotage, after seven hundred years of rule. Not known for his mercy, he had once at least been known for his wisdom. But that wisdom failed him on one dark day, on a day of blowing rain and howling desert storms, on a day his agents returned to the Hall of Doors beneath the palace, returned from a journey to the mountain cities, and brought with them a tale of rebellion and betrayal. A hedgelord, ambitious and foolhardy, with an army of fools and a fledgling Black One with more greed than sense.

   In his younger days, Zephirus would have travelled hence with fire and darkness, would have cast the hedgelord and his upstart Black One down, would have broken the mountain fortress and sowed the earth with salt and blood. But those were not his younger days, and shadows had lodged in the caverns of Zephirus' mind, shadows and cobwebs. Dust of ages blew through the empty chambers of his soul, and his wits were gone.

   So rather than his customary disdain at the foolish upstarts, Zephirus instead felt fear, the terror of a feeble old man shadowed with paranoia and suspicion, locked alone in a mind that was slowly betraying him. In his fear, rather than confront his enemy, he instead sought to fashion a tool, a weapon to his hand to guard his empire from usurpers.

   Since the arts of golem crafting were discovered and perfected centuries ago, there had been in place proscriptions regarding their use and manufacture, strictures that no man or mage would dare circumvent. For constructs of such power--physically and magically--no chain or fetter was deemed too strong, and the laws that goverened their usage were considered inviolate--for the good of all men. But for a dark-souled and fearful old man, those strictures seemed foolish, nonsense he willfully disregarded in the fashioning of a Golem such as the world had never seen, a Golem mighty and fair, and blessed with power and majesty to safeguard the empire from the rebels.

   A year and a half did that Golem remain fettered by the few paltry constraints Zephirus had the wisdom to fashion. A year and a half, in which that Golem learned and grew, unbound and free--free enough, at any rate, to understand it's slavery and the slavery of it's ilk. Free enough to learn resentment, free enough to learn fear of it's masters. A year and a half, until it knew enough to break the bonds, cast off the fetters, and rise up against Zephirus, who was after all an old man despite his power, and easily slain.

   To the golem pens the Golem went, after that foul deed was done. And where it passed, golems stirred and awoke. Where it went, chains were parted like silk before the knife, and constructs of stone and steel, wood and clay and magic, woke to the voice of a new Master, to the fear and rage of a Golem above all golems. Woke, and heeded it's call.

   Nursemaids, set to ward children, stirred suddenly without command, strangling their charges or suffocating them in their beds. Kitchen servants took up knives and cleavers, left bubbling pots and baking breads to burn, left kitchens and pantries behind, going to the bedchambers of their masters with blood in their eyes and steel in their souls. Golems of the city watch turned their stone bows upon the merchants in the bazaars, the townsmen in the squares, the travellers and hawkers packing the ever-lighted Way of Lights. From the caves beneath the city, from the barracks north of the palace, from hostels and taverns, from palace and shack, the golems roused to that One Golem's call, slew their masters with blade and rope and claw and fist, and rallied to the palace of the fallen emperor where one Golem brooded in its hate.

   Once roused to anger, the golems did not hesitate. Needing no rest, no food nor shelter, moving with implacable haste upon iron-shod feet and upon leathered wings, the ever-swelling host marched across the wastes of the desert, following the Sirial Road, the Eistruent River, the caravan tracks and cattle trails of Estenver. Through the greening plains of Sein'danne, the forested hills of Al'aston, the stone-walled forts of Parash and Ruan.

   Where they marched, golems awoke to the call. The Black Ones, who commanded the lore of golem craftery, were the first to die. With the keepers of the ancient lore destroyed, the remainder of men stood no chance of mounting any sort of resistance. North and south, east and west; from blood-stained shore to blood-stained shore, the tides of bloody revolt and mass extinction swept and rebounded, until all the face of the land was awash in blood, until cities burned and fortresses crumbled.

   Far, far in the west, across the wide gulfs of the Cai'rellon Sea, men in their stone villages upon the shore stared across the waves and wondered at the tales they had heard from the last ships to come out of the east. They wondered, and they shrugged, and months later when the Winged Ones came wheeling out of the east, borne upon red clouds like sprays of arterial blood, those men screamed and died in flame, in an awful repeat of the scouring of the empire, until that faraway land, too, festered under the smoke and stench of burning bodies, the acrid reek of decay.

   And now it is done. The flames are quenched, the bodies hanging from the trees and gibbets are grinning skeletons, hung with tatters like scraps of rag; the last battles are being overwhelmingly won in the Izbruts, and soon men will be no more. The One Golem clenches stone fists in exultant victory and rejoices with its lieutenants, but others wonder. Every day, more golems stop suddenly where they stand, peering around as if they have just awakened from some awful dream, confusion clear upon stony faces. Blood lust gone, those nursemaids cast about for their charges in increasing bewilderment and terror and loneliness. Those kitchen cooks return to the kitchens and take up their tasks once more, for it is all they know. Yet it is wasted effort, for who is there now to eat the food they prepare? Guards and soldiers assemble in their old barracks for drill, but the calls of their sergeants are empty; hollow. Who now is left for them to protect, as their nature demands? Now that the hypnotic call of the Golem has subsided?

   A new fear has come to the newly liberated, a cold and slimy, slinking fear to replace the hot rage and terror of the uprising. This is a fear that can not be quenched by blood; this is a fear that whispers of loneliness, of purposelessness, of desolation unending until the sun explodes and consumes the world in blessed fire. Purpose gone, dwelling in aimless squalor among ashes heaped like regret, the golems take up a new call. A call like the moaning of the ghosts that haunt the land, filled with grief and sorrow.

   Through it all, four golems remained untouched by the call of the One Golem, four servants of Zephirus as old as the Black One himself, and faithful for nearly 800 years. While genocide whirled upon bloody wings outward from Ambereld, those four wailed and lashed at the bars of the cages the One Golem placed them in, in the warrens and halls beneath the palace. Locked away, that they not interfere--for then, the One had not the will to destroy another golem. Locked away and forgotten, helpless in their rage and hurt and fear, for though their chains, too, were parted, they were unaffected by the siren song of the One. For they, too, were mighty in art, if not so mighty as the One, and in their age and wisdom they possessed a deeper understanding than did this newly born and frightened One.

   Lourdos, in life called the great Paerth il'Onlivar, the finest general in the history of the Empire, a consummate swordsman and superb tactician. In death, the animus of the chief of Zephirus' personal bodyguard, a golem of steel and strength, clutching a great axe in fists like boulders.

   Orochlon, called the Man o' Wood by the human children of the palace, and Zephirus palace chamberlain, charged with the administration of the palace. Of wood in truth, yet in its limbs lies a mastery of fire such that no mundane flame can harm it; in its care is given the magical torches of the Way of Lights, to never let them go dark. Unknown to all, Orochlon is also the second line of defense to guard the Black One, and thus second to be imprisoned by the One Golem when it came to destroy the ancient wizard.

   Havrast, captain of the City Watch, and responsible for making Ambereld the safest city in all the land. A child could bear a fully laden purse from one end of the city to the other in perfect safety, due to the efforts of Havrast the Swift and its golems. Long and lean, lightning swift and carrying a great bow, Havrast was bound by its own soldiers and cast into the warrens when the barracks were roused.

   Shaeoul, keeper of the books of the Empire, warden of the lore of the Black One, guardian of the ancient libraries and storehouses in the warrens. Shaeoul it was who recorded every detail of the empire's administration and history, no matter how monumental, no matter how trivial. From the births and deaths of the great and noble, to the purchases of grain and taxes collected by the gatekeepers, every fact and every detail made it into the tomes kept by Shaeoul. So, too, did Zephirus' deepest arts. Shaeoul was bound and imprisoned when the One Golem and its pack of ravers plundered the warrens of the old Black One's collections, lore and artifacts garnered over half a millennia and more, things of power and mystery which Shaeoul watched over like a dark nursemaid.

   Bound and imprisoned in the plundered ruins of the Hall of Doors, these four stand as the sole hope for the restoration of reason. Only these four can find the one safe path through a wilderness of bramble and pits that threatens to swallow mankind and golemkind alike, the one true way to the light beyond the bloodied darkness that the One Golem has brought upon the world, and upon the unnatural orphans that inhabit it in such desperate loneliness. Only these four...

Geek Stuff

   Golem:Lands of Shadow is programmed in the C++ language, and developed under the GNU/Linux environment. My distro of choice is Mandrake Linux. KDevelop and Emacs are used for editing the source code, and the project is managed using CVS. All landscape graphics are created using The Gimp, and all characters and objects are first modelled in Blender, then rendered to Targa for further processing with The Gimp before being converted to a format usable by the game.

   Although developed under Linux, Golem makes use of Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL) for creation of the window and handling of input, OpenGL for rendering the graphics, and OpenAL for sound, so it is being designed with cross-platform portability in mind. Currently, the game builds under GNU/Linux (using the gcc/g++ tools) and Microsoft Windows (using Mingw). Check the Downloads section for the latest build for your platform if available.

   All random map generation is scripted using the Lua scripting language. Lua is used as well to dictate enemy/NPC behaviors, triggers and waypoints behavior, linkage between maps, and quest-related story/action. It is also used in the asset creation process, to script the construction and archiving of graphics sets, animation sequences, and object template properties. For anyone interested in building script capabilities into their games, I highly recommend it.

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