Sacrifice

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"In the realm that was my home, I had devoted my life to study of the arcane. No pursuit was too perilous, no sacrifice too great, until... Well... Under the many heavens, and in the many worlds, there are darker things than Men may dream of..."

Sacrifice is a unique breed of RTS games for PC, whereas instead of the isometric view from the above, it takes a 3rd person view behind the player avatar. This game is about battling wizards, each players gathers souls to summon creatures, and then duke it out with other wizards, also supplemented with various spells. Their goal, based on the name, is to find an enemy altar, desecrate it by performing a sacrificial ritual on that altar, and then kill the enemy wizard one last time to banish him.

The story of the game is about a wizard named Eldred (or whatever the player chooses to name him), assisted with his familiar Zyzyx, who meets a wise man named Mithras in the aftermath of a great war that has all but destroyed the world. Through a series of flashbacks narrated by Eldred, we learn the story of how he served the five Gods in the game: Persephone, James, Stratos, Pyro or Charnel, and how the intervention of his arch-nemesis, Omnicidal Maniac Marduk, led to the world's present state.

Sacrifice did not gain wide popularity, but garnered cult status.


Tropes used in Sacrifice include:
  • A Wizard Did It: Literally; explains the presence of Construct Additional Pylons.
  • Aerith and Bob: The five gods are Persephone, Stratos, Charnel, Pyro, and... James?
  • All There in the Manual: Much of the background surrounding Sacrifice, like what happened to the creator God and why the world is spilt into floating islands. It's also written in the style of the Gods themselves,which makes for an interesting read.
  • Ambadassador : Ambassador Buta in this case.
  • An Ice Person: Stratos, and of course his servants.
  • Animate Dead: This handy spell is available if you serve Charnel. Despite the moniker, it actually serves more as a straight-up resurrection, sparing you the Mana and time expense of collecting the souls and re-summoning the creature manually.
  • Anti-Hero: Eldred isn't a very nice man (and was possibly a Villain Protagonist in his old world), probably lying around class III on the scale by the beginning. Depending on the gods you serve and the choices you make, he comes across as anything from The Atoner and The Hero to a class V anti-hero (avoiding Villain Protagonist-hood because Marduk is the one trying to destroy the world).

Eldred: In Jhera, I had been a man of substance.
Mithras: A lord? Or perhaps a king?
Eldred: A tyrant, more like. You would have thought me an evil man.
Zyzyx: Most people did.

  • Anti-Magic: Troggs, James' first level ground creature, are immune to damage from spells.
  • Attract Mode: This was introduced in later patches.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Death. Insta-kills a certain number of creatures but won't harm wizards and has no Friend/Foe identification, so if you try to capitalize on the situation and move in (or your opponent runs out of creatures) he might go for your army instead. Mostly he just leads to your opponent having to collect a few souls and teleport away in irritation. Furthermore you can tell when your opponent is casting it, so a good human player will just teleport away and leave the caster footing the bill. He is good for cleaning up heavily guarded manaliths, but those are rare in multiplayer.
    • And then there is the tactic of repeatedly summoning Manahores (1 mana when even a basic spell costs 300) and collecting their souls as they are killed. Repeat until the kill limit is reached and Death vanishes.
    • All 5 top-tier spells have this a bit. Volcano is great against well-guarded manaliths but on the open battlefield your enemy can move out of the way before it erupts and the blast prevents you from taking any souls of creatures that do get killed. Meanstalks don't do much except throw units in the air for a bit. Bore can utterly destroy units but can't be used near manaliths and is relatively easy to avoid. And unless you get lucky and throw a few units of the edge of the map, tornado only delays the units it sucks up for a bit (though you can cast a cloudkill at the same position to do some more damage to the trapped enemies.)
  • Back from the Dead: Gods in Sacrifice can't really get slain -- their divine essence is retained and eventually 'recycled' into a new god with roughly the same portfolio as the old one. This process takes hundreds of years at best, though.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: James makes it clear that he does not want to fight, but if he's pushed into it he can be really dangerous.
  • Big Bad: You'd expect Charnel to be the Big Bad, but really it's Marduk. And Stratos is the reason Marduk's here. Charnel's evil but he's on your side here.
  • Blind Seer: Mithras.
  • Blow You Away: Stratos's spells tend to do this; his most powerful spell summons an actual tornado.
  • Boring but Practical: Shield spells and most of the first level blast spells. Stratos' Lightning is the crown example: It has a measly 200 mana cost and an extremely short recharge time, but will kill most level 5 and 6 creatures in two castings without much trouble.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Charnel, humorous example.
  • Charm Person: Persephone's ultimate spell. Basically insta-gibbing on steroids; you get a new unit, *and* if it gets killed, its soul is now blue to you instead of its original owner's.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Thestor switches from Persephone to Charnel in Persephone's first mission, only to turn right back if you kill his underlings before killing him. He stays loyal for the rest of Persephone's campaign. Faestus switches from Persephone to Pyro in Pyro's first mission. If you at any point attack Pyro's capital of Helios, he will switch sides to your side and stick with you for the rest of the campaign no matter whom you serve.
    • It's also perfectly possible to play Eldred as one. Several scenarios are designed with the ability to backstab the god you work for and join the opposing side, and at several points in each god's campaign you're given the option to turn your back on the god you did your last mission for and go join some other (usually an enemy) god.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Pyro seems to be styled after one.
  • Covers Always Lie: A mild example, but still: See the big, creepy red-eyes thing on the cover? That's Charnel, not Marduk, and Charnel is not the Big Bad or in any way as relevant to the story. He just looks a lot cooler than Marduk.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The end credits feature a Machinima in which all the people who worked on the game, each represented by a different one of the game's character models, come out and take their bows.
  • Deader Than Dead: Souls are essential to unit creation and normally cannot be destroyed, but if a unit's body does not land on one of the flying islands its soul(s) are lost. Additionally, Charnel's aforementioned soul-eating minions and James' ultimate attack spell, which causes a section of island to drop into space (ironic given that James is the most sympathetic god). Stratos' Tornado, Persephone's Meanstalks and Pyro's Explosion can fling creatures off the edge as well.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Zyzyx. Stratos.
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils: Big Bad Marduk and Astaroth, 'demon lord of Tartarus' and one of Charnel's hero units.
  • Disc One Nuke: Sirocco, an upgraded version of the strongest unit in Persephone's army, can be acquired as an ally in James's second mission, making the next few missions a breeze.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: James's wizards and creatures have the abilty to do just this.
  • Doomsday Device: In Pyro's 5th mission he builds one of these, and it's activated by the slaves gathered in the 4th mission.
  • Dumb Is Good: James, probably the only wholly decent one in the pantheon. Of course, he's not actually stupid, just sounds like he is.
  • Elemental Powers: James is god of earth, Stratos of air, and Pyro of fire. All three follow the personality profiles of their element to a tee.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Stratos admits to have summoned Marduk, expecting to be able to control him. Unsurprisingly, it failed.
  • Evil Overlooker
  • Evil Versus Evil: Serve Pyro or Charnel, and the two will eventually come to blows. Stratos will also be joining in.
  • Face Heel Turn: Sorcha pulls this off in Pyro's 9th mission.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Charnel is very jovial and cheerful for a God of Evil, especially compared to the odious and crude Pyro, but he nonetheless delights in wickedness and evil. In a less-evil example, Stratos seems charming and courteous but it soon becomes apparent he has an It's All About Me attitude.
  • Famous Last Words: Nearly everyone has one. Except the Gods you kill, for some reason. Possibly justified in that they technically aren't dead, just put out of action for a few generations.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: Sacrifice has a Pantheon of five gods -- James, Charnel, Stratos, Persephone and Pyro.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: "Charnel, death is not the answer to everything." "True... Torture also has its merits"
    • Repeated as a Brick Joke after completing the game serving Charnel, regarding Eldred's decision to 'attend to' another of Charnel's minions who plotted to kill him.

Eldred: Charnel, death is not the answer to everything.
Charnel: Yes, torture also has its merits.
Eldred: Exactly.

  • Foreshadowing: As Charnel's second mission reveals, Stratos had stewardship over the Demon Gate between the War of Purification and until Charnel retains control during said mission.
  • For Want of a Nail: By playing through multiple playthroughs you soon get to see which missions which gods are capable of doing on their own, and which ones their own wizards will cock up because you didn't play a part, and how this begins affecting and twisting the overall story. Generally speaking, every god succeeds at their first three missions and the story progresses in the same way up to that point no matter which god(s) you serve, after that all bets are off.
  • Fragile Speedster: Stratos' servants.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Not so much, but in the actual story it seems that the creatures killed in battle are actually dead at the end of a mission. Otherwise there's copious amounts of Fridge Logic, such as "what happened to that huge freaking army I amassed last mission?" and "why isn't Eldred trying to collect any of the blue souls that are hanging around in the intro?"
    • Presumably any left-over souls you have at the end of a missions are taken by whichever god you currently serve.
  • Genre Busting: It's a fantasy third person RPG, RTS game.
  • Genre Savvy: Reading the manual reveals Charnel is quite savvy about his role as the source of all darkness and evil in the world, recognizing it as necessary for someone to be 'evil' so others can proclaim themselves 'good'. He's also the first god to immediately jump at the 'we must defeat Marduk' bandwagon, because he doesn't like competition for the role of Big Bad.
  • Glass Cannon: Pyro's proles and Charnel's minions -- especially the latter, since they only heal by damaging other creatures.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: The main method of 'killing' a god is to desecrate their prime altar - thus demonstrating that the god is unworthy of faith, and depriving them of power. However the god is not dead, merely weakened, and can come in a different form given time.
  • God of Evil: Charnel. And he relishes his role.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Eldred and Stratos both wanted the services of a demon powerful enough to destroy their respective rivals. They got one. Just too bad neither could make him stop.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Pyro is constantly sucking on a big, fat cigar.
  • The Grim Reaper: Charnel's most annoying and powerful spell summons him, laughing maniacally as he slaughters anything within his reach.
  • Guttural Growler: Marduk.
  • Happily Married: Abraxus and Lord Surtur. You'll most likely see Surtur wandering around if you fight Abraxus.
  • Healing Factor: Persephone's faithful all have better healing than the other gods' creatures.
  • Healing Hands: Persephone also has the best healing spells in the game, with two dedicated healing spells and a healing-only creature.
  • The Hecate Sisters: Persephone makes the claim of being an aggregate of all three aspects.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: If you finish as one of the good guys, you can pick either to do Persephone's or James' last mission. James survives either way, and Persephone apparently dies either way, making her the only god that doesn't survive in any ending. And There Was Much Rejoicing.
  • Hell Gate: The demon gate located in Golgotha
  • Hero Unit: The wizards, and the creature heroes. The former are players' avatars who form the centre of an army, while the latter are stronger, tougher and larger versions of regular units. Persephone has Thestor (gnome), Toldor (ent) and Sirocco (dragon), James has Gammel (icarus), Stratos has Sara Bella (braniac) and Lord Surtur (storm giant), Pyro has Faestus (gnome/pyromaniac) and Charnel has Gangrel/Astaroth (both scythes). Some show up on single missions only and have a 'protect this unit' clause, but some of them (Thestor, Toldor, Sirocco, Gammel and Faestus) will stick with you through the campaign as long as you stay on one god's side and will even fight for you in the final battle, provided they don't die at some point during the campaign.
  • Hold the Line:
    • Pyro's 7th mission.
    • Charnel's 5th mission.
    • And an excellent, if boring, strategy in most missions. Link your creatures to your furthest building, and defend it against an enemy wizard's attack wave, converting some of his army's souls along the way. Rinse and repeat until he has so few souls left he can't field a proper army anymore. Then attack him with the army you stole from him.
      • This strategy is pretty much a must if you want to stand a snowball's chance in heck of beating the last boss.
  • Holier Than Thou: Persephone. She is one of Sacrifice's good deities and genuinely seems to care for her followers, but she is far more self-righteous about it than James.
  • How We Got Here
  • Hulk Speak: TROLL SMASH! FIREFIST FLATTEN!
  • Human Sacrifice: As part of the ritual used to destroy another opposing wizard's altar (for a loose definition of "human").
  • Implacable Man: Death cannot be targeted, cannot be injured, has no time limit on his existence, and cannot be banished. He targets units unerringly and will chase them to the ends of the map and back until that unit is dead, teleports be damned.
  • In Love with Your Carnage

Charnel: Whether the forest falls or not matters little to me... But, such carnage. You are an artist.

    • Charnel has offered you a boon**

Zyzyx: Now, Grakkus there is none too fast on his feet. It may be because he lives such a... Sedimentary lifestyle.
Eldred: ...NeverSayThatAgain.

    • In the Book of Persephone, she describes the Rain of Frogs spell by warning you about its tendency for friendly fire, telling you to keep your own creatures away "lest they croak" (she immediately apologizes for the pun).
  • Insufferable Genius: Brainacs and their Hero Unit Sara Bella. And Stratos, naturally.
  • Instant Win Condition: Missions can only be won by desecrating the other wizard's altar -- although if your enemy isn't sufficiently weakened, odds are he or she will pop in and stop you the moment you start doing it.
  • Justified Tutorial: Eldred is described as an old archmage with probably decades of experience under his belt: A tutorial for him would feel somewhat out of place. Therefore, the tutorial you play as Shakti, a novice mystic who's just entered the service of Persephone.
  • Jerkass Gods: Stratos, Pyro and Charnel, certainly. Persephone, debatably. James, not so much.
  • King of All Cosmos: Stratos' head is a helium balloon, complete with gas cylinder.
  • Klaatu Barada Nikto :Some of the magic words spoken by the wizards.
  • Knight Templar: Marduk claims to be a physical incarnation of all creation's sins, and that his mission is to destroy everything that he judges 'sinful' -- in other words, everything that reflects himself, however little.
  • Language of Magic: Throughout the game, every wizard shares a common pool of phrases they chant seemingly at random when casting spells. Some wizards have phrases and words unique to themselves, and others do not.
  • Last of His Kind: Jadugarr, last living Centaur. Eldred, last survivor of his homeworld Jheira.
  • The Legions of Hell: Charnel's minions are an amalgam of this and The Undead.They are among some of the freakiest looking creatures in Sacrifice
  • Lethal Lava Land: Pyro's maps are like this. In the campaign, there is even the risk of a volcano (created by Pyro's Doomsday Device) randomly popping up underneath the wizard's feet. (Sadly, in the mission where you play as Pyro to defend it, the volcanoes still pop up where it's inconvenient for you, since your starting position is identical to the one in the mission to destroy it.)
  • Laughably Evil: Charnel.
  • Level Editor: Scapex, developer-made. Notable for allowing you to alter the game's official campaign maps and triggers with a little knowledge of scripting, allowing you to fix/tweak small campaign triggers or simply cheat like a one-armed bandit.
  • Light Is Not Good: Persephone is self-proclaimedly the setting's "Goddess of Good" (and opposed by Charnel, who is happy to claim the title of "God of Evil"). She's also arrogant and Holier Than Thou, and is just as blood-thirsty as the other gods, who comment that she is just as bad about picking pointless fights as they are, she just dresses it up with pretty lables like "righteous crusade" and "holy war".
    • Of course, the one making these claims is mainly Charnel. Picking an all-Persephone campaign does lead to you killing two of the gods and getting in deep in a war, but the war was started by Pyro and the god-slaying happened after said gods tried to get into a bit of Aggressive Negotiations with you and failed.
  • Louis Cypher: Mithras is Marduk. You've spent the entire storyline telling your story to the Big Bad.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: A frequent occurrence when poking first-tier units too hard. This can happen to any unit however, no matter how powerful, and is encouraged as gibbed units produce blue souls, free to take without the need to convert.
  • Mana: The second resource besides souls.
  • Mana Meter
  • Meaningful Name/Punny Name: Pretty much everyone with a name is either one or the other.
  • Mutants: Sacrifice has Mutants, which are available if you choose Persephone. In Misson 4 of the campaign they randomly turn up after you meet the misguided Jadugar, a cutscene later plus a little talk from Persephone and they join you against Jadugar.
  • The Mario: Persephone's faithful. About the only thing they excel at is having a better-than-average regeneration rate.
    • And not a bad strategy to go for when you build your custom spell list in multiplayer (or pick times to switch sides in the singleplayer campaign). For instance, Persephone has 2 healing spells and one healing creature, all of whom are usefull but taking them all leaves you with a vastly reduced offensive arsenal. Much better to mix and match it with creatures and spells from, say, Pyro.
  • Mighty Glacier: James' yeomen.
  • Nay Theist: Jadugarr. He used to worship Stratos until he became The Last of His Kind.
  • Necromancer: Charnel's wizards are called necromancers: These are Seerix, Acheron and The Ragman. Marduk (and depending on the mission, Hachimen) also use Charnel spells.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: Charnel's obsession with conflict kind of paints him as one of these. He's probably the most entertaining example out there, though.
  • Non-Entity General: One of most notable aversions of this trope.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Many of the gods are a lot cleverer than you would think from their initial personalities. Stratos is probably the main example.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Marduk. His stated purpose is to destroy all 'unworthy' parts of Creation, and by the time the game has begun he's already destroyed Eldred's homeworld and is on the verge of destroying this one.
  • Old Soldier: Gammel, James' Hero Unit for the Icarus. "Let's show those blighters what for!"
  • Only Sane Man: James has elements of this. While the other gods are busy trying to kill each other, especially after a prophecy warns that one of their number is plotting to kill the rest off for real, only poor James wonders if they should give all the fighting a rest.

Everyone else: NO!!!

  • Our Dragons Are Different: Dragons are green and look like short-necked Apatosauruses with wings. They attack with their bite (which also entangles foes), and their Breath Weapon shoots life energy that can resurrect your own creatures. They are intelligent, good-aligned, and serve Persephone.
  • Palette Swap: A lot of them, with nearly as many justifications.
  • Playing with Fire: All of Pyro's spells, and all of Pyro's Proles, in one way or another.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Charnel's Netherfiend, Styx and Hellmouth minions' special abilities are fuelled by blue souls; additionally multiplayer maps usually feature peaceful villages that you are encouraged to massacre for additional souls.
  • Pyromaniac: Pyro's Flame Minions, who can be heard constantly giggling about the possibility to set fires. One of Pyro's units (a gnome with a rocket launcher) is called pyromaniac, and is probably also this.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Jadugarr seeks the death of the gods. He joins Marduk in order to do so.
  • Real Time with Pause
  • Royal We: Persephone does this. It really doesn't help with her attitude problem, and Stratos even lampshades how pretentious it made her sound.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Sorcha, the Empress of Pyroboria.
  • Shock and Awe: Stratos' third element for his spells, besides storms and ice.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Worm-like God James certainly looked a lot like a certain earthworm-in-a-space-suit... Even his name sounds similar too -- and let's not forget his highest-level spell, 'Bovine Intervention'. The game was made by Shiny, the makers of Earthworm Jim.
    • The magic words used by the wizards include Klaatu Barada Nikto, the Charm of Making from Excalibur, and the name of the monster from Dragonslayer.
    • In James' mission 5, Pyro will try to recruit you by offering you 'power beyond your imagining'. Eldred's reply if you turn it down?
  • Smug Snake: Stratos, as an enemy.
  • The Soulless: Acheron,according to Zyzyx.
  • Speed Echoes: When using the faster-movement spell.
  • Spiritual Successor: Brutal Legend. Possibly with a middle link of Giants: Citizen Kabuto, which was released around a month after Sacrifice was. Hardly surprising, since Planet Moon Studios, the developers of Giants was comprised of employees who once worked with Shiny, the developer of Sacrifice.
    • Tim Schafer did not know about Sacrifice, or that he unknowingly hired one of it's creators, until fans made the connection. He later played it and praised it.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: The Icarus. Its only response to Stop Poking Me is a somewhat condescending "Oh, I say, poor show."
  • The Stinger/Sequel Hook: "This is not over! I will have my revenge!". Sadly, sales of the game kept this from becoming a reality.
  • This Cannot Be!: Eldred's reaction upon learning that Marduk has followed him to this world. Also, Marduk's final words.
  • Stop Poking Me: Sacrifice continues this fine Blizzard tradition of units getting pissed of more and more if you click on them too much. It's actually quite impressive when you consider that there's TONS of individual units and hero units in this game.
  • Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: Ranged units beat flying beat melee beat ranged... In theory. In practice, fliers are further divided into flying ranged and flying melee (the latter are excellent against buildings, and also murder ranged units if they get close) and ranged units are divided into basic first-tier archery-types, artillery (inaccurate, deal heavy area-of-effect damage, good against ground units but seldom hit fliers), snipers (extremely accurate and long range, but very slow rate of fire and is easily overwhelmed by a Zerg Rush) and the warmonger/rhinox, who don't really fit any other category than 'walking murder machines'. Plus, fliers fly low, and all but the lowest tier melee units are tall and can actually reach most fliers (but fliers have 90% damage resistance against melee attacks from ground creatures, however, so beating them to death takes a lot of time).
  • There Can Be Only One: Only one of the gods survive the war. Stratos started it with the assumption that it would be him.
  • Third Person Person: Pyro.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Once a wizard has a soul lead, it's very hard to change it, as it's much harder to steal a wizard's souls than it is to recover your slain creatures.
  • Unwinnable By Mistake: Or at least, not able to get One Hundred Percent Completion by Mistake: In one of Charnel's missions, it's impossible to collect the boon. The bonus objective is to keep Gangrel alive. Too bad the mission can't be completed until Gangrel is possessed by a demon, turning him into Astaroth, causing the game to decide you no longer have Gangrel.
    • Even should you banish Yogo before the channeling is complete (which is hard but doable), you still do not receive the boon as the condition is that Gangrel must be under the player's control. During the channeling Gangrel is held immobile and can't be controlled by the player.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Averted. The instant death spells Intestinal Vaporization and Bovine Intervention can and will one-shot even the mightiest creatures. Even better, they instantly gib their targets, meaning the souls are up for grabs for anyone. If you're not careful, you can lose a lot of souls to a crafty opponent this way.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Wizards can slaughter the innocent, defenceless peasants with the nastiest spells in their spellbook while the peasants beg, whimper and cry for mercy. Wizards are encouraged to slaughter the innocent in multiplayer -- they're a good source of soul income and are flagged as hostile for this reason.
  • We Have Reserves: The key to playing a Necromancer. Due to the cheapness of Animate Dead, the Glass Cannon nature of Charnel's minions and the somewhat indiscriminate nature of many of his spells, a one-to-one kill/loss ratio is entirely tolerable as long as you've got your creature's corpses around to animate/detonate.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Pyro's ultimate weapon, the Magnafryer, fires a heat ray that deals heavy damage over time and will kill everything in the game eventually... Except it counts as magic damage, so James' first level melee attacker, the Trogg, is completely unaffected.
  • Welcome Back, Traitor: There's two gnome heroes in the game, and both switch sides repeatedly. They're still usable units though.

Zyzyx: And to think that Faestus used to be one of Persephone's brightest Gnome inventors... Well, I guess it's best that he's on our side now.

  • World in the Sky: Sacrifice is set around several floating islands in a large void. The manual provides a vague explanation for this.