Book of Mages: The Dark Times

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A flash game from Nob Studio, Book of Mages the Dark Times is the sequel to Book of Mages: The Chaotic Period. Like its predecessor, The Dark Times casts the player in the role of a gifted young mage from one of six clans, each specializing in a different form of Fire or Water magic. The mage clans are bound together in a loosely-organized and rather turbulent society under the rule of the Great Mage, who won his position by being the strongest mage of all. However, the current Great Mage is an evil man, and he has created an organization known as the Black Robes who go around murdering any mage who speaks against him. In response to this tyranny, several leading mages from the Great Sea and Burning Hill clans formed the White Robes to resist the Great Mage and protect mages from the Black Robes' tyranny.

A major subplot in the game revolves around the Book of Mages: a book that serves as a pecking order and ranks the strongest hundred mages in the world. As might be expected, this is seen as a big deal by most mages, and many spend their lives challenging each other to duels so that they can move up in the ranks.

Tropes used in Book of Mages: The Dark Times include:
  • Exclusively Evil: Averted. While certain clans are iconically associated with the White or Black Robes, there are heroes and villains in all clans, and the main difference is in magic style, not morality.
  • The Archmage: The Great Mage, or anyone who reaches the top of the Book of Mages. At the start of the game, these are the same person, but you can usurp either or both spots. The Great Mage is actually not the most powerful mage in the world by a long shot.
    • The Mysterious Hermit really is the strongest mage in the world, being one of the Six who created the Book of Mages.
    • In the Legendary ending, you defeat the new Great Mage in a duel, but do not take the title, instead choosing to live apart from mage society as a hermit.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: When the Great Mage dies, the new Great Mage is traditionally chosen by a series of challenges until there's only one mage left standing. This rule goes completely to hell in the ending, as the White Robes and Black Robes each elect their own candidate without a proper election. This causes several powerful neutral mages to get involved and try to force the Robes to hold a fair election.
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Shiverhorror, Clan Leader of Ice Land, is number two on the Book of Mages, and is in fact far more powerful than Great Mage Battlebeard. He also wants nothing to do with any of the malarkey that the Robes are getting up to (and unlike most mages, is strong enough to make that position stick), until the two Robe factions try to break the rules regarding the Great Mage election. Then he and the other neutral mages get involved, including two more who are in the top five and possibly including the PC. This is not good news for either Robe faction.
  • Beam Spam: The standard mage attack is up to twenty fireballs or water-balls. Chaos Desert gets the prize here, though; they can fire up to thirty shots when they're on the attack.
  • Black and Gray Morality: The Black Robes are pure evil, but the White Robes do some questionable things and aren't averse to bribery and cheating to get their way, and the neutral mages' group are strict adherents to Honor Before Reason and only care that a Great Mage is chosen by a proper election, regardless of whether he's good or evil. A Black Robe PC will be evil by dint of being a Black Robe, but a White Robe PC can be almost as evil, if he so chooses.
  • Bonus Boss: The Mysterious Hermit.
  • But Thou Must!: The game is usually pretty good about averting this, but if you side with Battlebeard during the Black Robe internal dispute, you cannot let him retire; the game forces you to betray and kill him.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Most Dark Wood special magic. Also, Chaos Desert's Remove Effects ability.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Played with. You can curb stomp most mages in the Great Sea War without actually fighting them if your mage rank is high enough, but if you're strong enough to do that, you're strong enough to hammer them in a fight anyway.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: The canonical ending for The Chaotic Period is that Wilson, the protagonist of the first game, lost the Great Mage election and the evil head of Chaos Fire/Chaos Desert Clan became Great Mage.
  • Deflector Shields: Defensive bolts, and Burning Hill's Mana Shield spell.
  • Everyone Is a Super: Non-mages are not mentioned at all.
  • Evil Pays Better: Back and forth, but this is broadly true. The evil path usually gets you more and better items than the good path, though being nice to good mages can earn you a lot of extra magical training.
  • Explosive Leash: The Potion of Great Power contains a deadly poison that can be activated at will by whoever holds the proper spell. A major plotline revolves around finding the mage who has created an antidote.
  • Face Heel Turn: You can make one if you join the White Robes and later turn your robe. If you don't, Flamier does.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: If the White Robes win under an evil leader, the epilogue mentions that people saw no difference between them and the Black Robes that they replaced.
  • Greek Chorus: The gossipmongers in the bar, who you can overhear kibitzing about you in the bar. Also a source of some of the game's Funny Moments.
  • Heroic Neutral: Your role in the Neutral storyline; you occasionally have to fight off Black Robe mages trying to make you join them.
    • Neutral No Longer: A neutral mage can decide to stand against the Black Robes' campaign of murder, even if they don't support the White Robes' rebellion.
    • Hired Guns: ...or, they can work for the Black Robes in their murder campaign. (Or they can fight for either or both sides.)
  • Kamehame Hadoken: Combined Bolt attacks, which combine all of your attacking and defending bolts into a single massive strike. The particular specialty of Burning Hill and Great Sea clans, but anyone can learn the skill.
  • Karma Meter
  • La Résistance: The White Robes.
  • Magical Society: The Clans function as training organizations, and mage society itself is loosely organized through the institution of the Great Mage.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Corpsedusk is controlling Battlebeard through the Potion of Great Power.
  • Multiple Endings
  • Mutant Draft Board: The Black Robes have a rather aggressive recruitment policy.
  • My Kung Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: The point of the Book of Mages is to determine whose kung fu is strongest. Constant meditation in the Mana Cave and challenges against rival mages are needed to build up one's magical strength to become the baddest mage around.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Darkskin of the Dark Wood clan.
  • The Resenter: Flamier thinks he's the best choice for White Mage, and he isn't happy when nobody agrees with him. This triggers his Face Heel Turn.
  • Retcon: The names of the clans in The Dark Times are different from those in The Chaotic Period; they're based on the location of the clan, instead of being variants on "Fire" and "Water."
  • Retired Monster: Battlebeard wants to become one, being an old man who's tired of being the Great Mage. Corpsedusk isn't interested in letting him retire, however.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections: The Black Robes hold a Great Mage election but don't invite non-Black Robes.
    • Screw the Rules, I Have a Nuke: It's a rigged contest; Corpsedusk has control over the poison in all the Black Mages' bodies, and uses it to force the Black Robes to lose the election to him.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: The White Robes elect their White Mage by a democratic vote instead of through challenges, because they don't want to see another Great Mage like Battlebeard.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: If you deliver the antidote to Darkskin, he and several other mages abandon the Black Robes.
  • Stone Wall: Great Sea mages, who can create more defensive bolts than any other clan.
  • Standard Status Effects: Each clan, except for Chaos Desert, has a status effect they can attach to their bolts (Chaos Desert doesn't have a status effect, but can drain enemy Special points). Poison Water poisons, Great Sea causes a Mana Leak, Ice Land freezes (reducing defense), Dark Wood curses (reducing attack), and Burning Hill causes the Burnt status effect, increasing the damage of later bolts.
  • The Starscream: You can be this to the Black Robes if you choose, assuming you've freed yourself of the poison.
  • Tournament Arc: Two examples: the Young Mage Contest and the Great Mage election. The first is a tournament held every five years to showcase up-and-coming talent and win honor for the clans. The second is subverted; no proper election is held, though the Black Robes hold their own tournament if you don't prevent it, and instead a war breaks out.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The War of the Robes has little to nothing to do with the Book of Mages; the first is the main storyline, while the latter is essentially a sidequest, though being Number 1 allows you to curb stomp most mages during the Great Sea War instead of actually fighting them.
  • Un-Equal Rites: Part of the history, when the six clans fought over whose magic style was the best. The first Great Mage ended this, and when the Book of Mages was created and conflicts between mages started up again, it was on an individual rather than clan basis.
  • The War Sequence: The Great Sea War between the White Robes and Black Robes. Assuming you've joined either side, you win it by both outnumbering the other side and having more total levels.