Two of the most learned magical manipulators prepare for war in the ultimate duel of swords and sorcery! The Master, the vigilant guardian of a peace-loving people who takes up arms in a quest to save them from the evils of a powerful demon and return them to the path of righteousness, crosses blades with the Hero, the young but capable adventurer who embarks on a personal venture into a deep dungeon to slay a rising evil, defend an innocent town, and fulfill his Fate! It's patience and experience against cunning and tenacity as these warriors suit up and ready for battle! Sparks will fly, blood will be spilled, but when the final blow is dealt, only one will be the deadliest warrior!
The Master is a god-like being from the 1990 SNES game ActRaiser. After having fallen into a deep sleep, the Master awakes to find his people scattered and in disarray under the evil influence of the demon Tanzra. Assuming the form of the statue of a powerful warrior, the Master purges the evil from his lands and rebuilds the cities from the ground up with the assistance of his angelic assistant. The Master must face perils that mirror evils from different cultures, such as centaurs (Greek mythology), werewolves and sorcerers (European mythology), mummies and undead kings (Egyptian mythology), and dragons (Norse mythology). After ultimately defeating Tanzra, the Master discovers that his people no longer need his protection, as they are able to carry on and defend themselves .The Master retreats back into slumber to wait for a time when he is truly needed to help his people.
The Master's sword is his main weapon, and is wielded in a two-handed overhead fashion. The blows dealt are powerful enough to kill most weaker enemies in one or two strikes, and the Master has a fairly rapid recovery time after each swing. The Master has shown the ability to swing his sword while jumping or crouching with no hindrance, but the weapon is too heavy to use while running.
- 5-foot blade
- Cutting edge for slashing/hacking attacks
The Flame Sword is not a different weapon than the Master's primary blade; rather, it is an empowerment that can be granted to the Sword that allows it to shoot out a blue crescent beam of energy. It also doubles the damage dealt by regular (physical) strikes from the sword.
- Ranged capabilities
- Fires directly in front of the Master, in a straight line
- Crescent beam can pass through multiple targets
The Master assumes the form of the statue of a great warrior when he chooses to enter combat. The statue has a protective round helmet with wings on the sides (although the wings appear to serve no purpose aside from decoration), a metal chestplate and tunic, and sandals. The statue itself is also quite durable, likely constructed of some strong metal, able to withstand a decent amount of punishment before yielding.
The Magical Fire property is a powerful, uni-directional spell that emits a blast of scorching flame. The blast emerges as an intertwining blast of two fireballs that speeds in the direction of the target.
- Two fireballs
- Projectiles swirl in double helix formation while in air
- Can pass through mutliple targets
The Magical Stardust ability is arguably the most powerful spell available in ActRaiser. It calls down a heavy bombardment of small meteors that blanket the surrounding area. Although each individual meteor does not inflict much damage, the sheer number of projectiles called down, coupled with the rather intense bombardment time of three seconds, is usually more than enough to wipe out a screen full of minor enemies or severely weaken a boss.
- Three-second bombardment
- Multiple projectiles strike ground at diagonal angle
The Magical Light calls down two pillars from the Master's Sky Palace, which bathe him in a bright vindicating light before spreading outward in two directions, sweeping across any enemies nearby and damaging all caught in its wake.
- Two pillars of light
- Each pillar spreads out in a different direction
The Magical Aura defensive spell is second only to the Magical Stardust ability in terms of its raw damage output to enemies. Four blue spheres of mystic energy are summoned and spiral away from the Master, in a circular motion, with each sphere rotating in a different direction.
- Four blue spheres of energy
- Each sphere rotates in a different direction
- Projectiles swirl in circular rotating motion
The Angel is a small, cherub-like messenger for the Master, who interacts with the people on the Master's behalf. While guiding the people through reconstruction, he fights off winged foes (such as enormous bats, flying demons, and most bizarrely, giant grotesque skulls) with a deceptively lethal bow and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of arrows. The Angel can not be killed, but he is fragile and can easily be defeated, forcing him to recover for a while before he can find the strength to continue to fight.
The Sky Palace
The Sky Palace is the Master's home, a hovering fortress that sits on a mobile cloud. If the Master is ever wounded grievously, he can retreat to the safety of his palace and recover, resting and sleeping to regain strength and heal. However, when he takes shelter here, his people are vulnerable and must survive without his help. The cloud can be transported to any of the major towns that the Master watches over, giving him easy watch over his dominion.
he Hero is an adventure-seeking child-warrior from the 2005 PC game Fate. Along with his faithful companion (a cat or a dog), the Hero approaches the town of Grove, which sits quietly on the outskirts of a forest, which houses a dangerous dungeon. Tasked to descend deep into the dungeon to slay an unspeakable evil, the Hero befriends the townspeople through the completion of minor quests completed along the way. With a host of knowledgeable warriors and blacksmiths, and magical sorcerers and enchanters to assist him along the way, the Hero acquires top-notch weaponry and spells to carve his way through hordes of violent monsters that reside in the dungeon. Simple beasts like sewer rats and bats pose little threat, but goblins, vampires, and other undead and half-alive monsters attempt to thwart the Hero's journey at every turn. Once the final boss is defeated and the town saved, the Hero passes on his legacy to another young adventurer and basks in the glory of retirement... but the next young adventurer is destined to become the next Hero, continuing the cycle to keep Grove safe.
The Hero's sword is one of the most popular weapons in Fate, and as such, is usually one of his most-exercised battle implements. The Greatsword is enormous, but the Hero is shown to be able to wield it with one hand quite proficiently. With an enormous damage output, the Greatsword is capable of killing most common enemies with 1-2 hits and can give bosses a run for their money.
- 7-foot blade
- Cutting edge for hacking/slashing attacks
The Spectral Crossbow is an ethereal weapon that fires bolts of supernatural energy that are especially damaging against magically-enhanced foes. Because the crossbow generates its own ammunition, it fires with an incredibly fast rate of fire - one shot every few seconds. It lacks stopping power, and instead passes cleanly through the enemy and slowly saps their strength and stamina, weakening them with each successive hit. A shot from the Spectral Crossbow will kill a severely injured foe.
- Spectral bolts ignore armor
- Energy- and life-draining
- Incredibly high rate of fire
The Hero is well-protected, and can absorb much damage as a result. He dons an impressive winged helmet that offers greater facial protection and a full suit of thick plate armor, as well as steel gauntlets and boots. Despite the immense bulk of this equipment, the Hero suffers no great movement or stamina penalties while wearing this armor.
The Fire Ball spell is a classic example of Attack Magic in Fate. When the Hero casts this spell, one enormous ball of flame flies from his fingertips at the enemy, immersing them in the fire before dispersing. It can be cast many times in rapid succession, and does not tax too heavily the Hero's Mana.
- Single fireball
- Projectile flies straight through the air
- Explodes upon impact, dealing further damage
The Meteor Shower spell allows the Hero to conjure three enormous meteors from the air above, even if underground, and rain them down on the enemy. The Meteors crash down with tails of flame following closely, doubling the damage output on any unfortunate victims trapped beneath. The Meteors disappear after striking the ground. They actively target the intended victim when cast by the Hero.
- One-second bombardment
- Three flaming projectiles target foe
The Holy Light spell is especially potent against undead opponents, but will still damage others. Upon being cast, Holy Light sends a ring of shining white light spiraling outward in all directions from the Hero, widening until it eventually disperses. The further from the Hero the ring is, the less concentrated its damage will be.
- One ring of light
- Ring damages foes at closer ranges, knocks back/stuns foes at longer ranges
The Pet is initially a dog or a cat, a loyal companion that is powerful in its own right and dutifully follows the Hero and aides him in combat. Howver, the Pet may be fed a fish, which will temporarily (or permanently, depending on the fish) transform the animal into a wide variety of more powerful creatures - potential transformations include Gryphons, Unicorns, Giant Tarantulas, Gargoyles, and Basilisks, to name a few. The Pet cannot be killed in any form - whether it be normal or enhanced - but can be wounded to the point that it flees, and runs rampant across the area until its health recovers and it can fight again.
Fate is the literal representation of Death, and appears as a mysterious cloaked figure, sporting a fountain of flame in one hand and a crystal of ice in the other. Fate exists to guide the Hero along his queset and to ensure that he defeats the monster in the dungeon and fulfills his fate. Although he will not be physically present for the purposes of this battle, Fate always tips the scales in favor of the Hero when weighing the outcome of a fight.
Town of Grove
The Hero may retreat to the town of Grove if severely injured, where he may meet with local townspeople who offer various services, including healing, weapon repair, and selling fish. In Grove, no combat ever occurs, and the Hero is free to rest and recuperate as long as he sees fit, knowing that he is working hard in the dungeon below to ensure the safety of this town, his new home.
- The Master: 90
- The Hero: 87
The Hero is remarkably powerful for a child warrior, and is capable of easily defeating armed enemies like goblins and orcs that would trouble many adult adventurers. However, the Master is a near-deity being that inhabits the statue of an immensely powerful demigod, granting him a slight advantage when it comes to raw power.
- The Master: 70
- The Hero: 81
The Master is powerful but slow, as his main form is unearthly and he is somewhat encumbered by the statue when in combat form. He must also remain stationary to execute the majority of his attacks. The Hero, meanwhile, is far more nimble and suffers no detriment from his heavy armor. Although he too must remain stationary to attack or cast spells, the Hero will be able to outrun or catch up to his foe should the need arise.
- The Master: 92
- The Hero: 77
Although the Hero is a quick learner and has been adventuring for several years, he is a young boy and has not nearly seen as much combat as the Master, who has existed for centuries, if not milennia, and has fought his ultimate foe, the demon Tanzra, on multiple occasions.
- The Master: 74
- The Hero: 83
The Master has never trained formally, and while his combat does not suffer especially as a result, he lacks technique. The Hero trains extensively in the town of Grove, honing his skills with sword, bow, and spell to ensure success in the dungeon below.
- The Master: 85
- The Hero: 76
The Hero's armor and defensive abilities do grant him remarkable lasting power in a fight, but the Master's inability to register pain and strong metallic statue armor are able to hold against slightly more powerful foes for a slightly longer period of time.
Since oldest living memory, the dungeon gate has stood in the heart of the old wood. Its doorways lead to infinite possibilities, to subterranean lands fabled in stories and myths. Many adventurers have passed over that ancient threshold - some to find fame, glory, and wealth beyond telling... others, never to return.
The Master jerks awake from his fitful sleep, his eyes scanning the room in a moment of panic. He settles back into his bed as he recognizes the safety of his Sky Palace. The Angel hovers overhead, maintaining a respectful distance. Below the Sky Palace sits the town of Grove, quiet and calm.
"Are you ready Sir?" the Angel asks. "If we destroy all monsters in this land, people will be able to live here again. Are you ready? May luck be with you!"
And as he prepares to enter battle once more, the Master takes one final breath before plunging down from the Sky Palace, spiraling downward, downward, downward, ever closer to the dungeon gate that threatens Grove. Flying through the ground, deep into the dungeon, and into the dank rooms below, he flies into his warrior statue and readies for combat.
The Hero, meanwhile, a floor above the Master, has just finished dispatching a minor dungeon lord - Erekdum the Barbarous is no more. His pet, a friendly beagle, trots furiously to keep up with his powerful striding steps. The fourth floor has been cleared, and the corpses of foes fallen litter the ground. Stepping gingerly over a goblin nearly cleaved in half, the Hero looks down the corridor and spots the stairs that spiral ever lower, deeper into the dungeon.
Each level deeper is more dangerous than the one before. And each level deeper brings with it a greater thrill, a greater call to glory... a greater sense of Fate. The Hero takes each step full of confidence. At the top of the stairs, he reaches into his inventory and pulls out a fish. As his beagle eagerly laps it up, it disappears in a puff of smoke, transforming into a venomous Tunnel Spider, standing six feet at the shoulder.
It is dark, and the Hero's footsteps echo in the empty dungeon air. It is musty and damp, but not deep enough to hamper breathing. The Hero stumbles over something soft, still, and squishy. Surprised, he looks down and finds a dead Forest Imp... which was immensely strange, considering he had not ventured this deep before. Confused, but determimed, he pushes forward. The Master appears around the corner moments before the Hero loses interest, sword held firmly in both hands and the fearsome look of tenacious anger cemented into the statue's gaze. The Hero stands, defensive, but the pet rushes forward. The Master strikes viciously with his sword, an arc of crackling blue energy surging forward and tearing through the massive spider approaching. The pet is thrown to the side of the dungeon wall, slamming hard on impact, before mustering enough energy to raise itself and flee.
The Hero darts back a few steps, vanishing into darkness, giving him enough time to cast a Spectral Armor spell. An opaquely-white mist shrouds over his body, the only visible effect on an otherwise immensely-bolstered chestplate. With Spectral Crossbow in hands the Hero opens fire on the Master, who dodges the first wild shot. Taken aback at the rate of fire of the weapon, the Master flinches as one of the bolts passes through his statue, but pushes forward, slashing with his sword and sending arcs of energy flying. The projectiles strike the Hero, who holds his ground - though the Spectral Armor does its best to negate the blows, the pain surges through. Staggering back, the Hero drops the Spectral Crossbow to the dungeon floor. It skitters into an unlit corner and disappears into the darkness. The Master leaps forward, slashing with his sword and sending a barrage of projectiles flying toward the Hero. The Hero can only brace himself as best he can before impact, with each new blow more and more of his energy draining out.
Panic surges through the Hero's body as he looks up to see the Master raising his sword skyward. A brilliant flash of blinding white pierces the darkness of the dungeon, as two pillars of divine light shoot down and envelop the Master. They spread outward, one column tearing right through the Hero and knocking him down. As soon as his vision recovers, the Hero digs through his inventory and tears out a Town Portal scroll. The Master charges furiously forward but it's too late - the Hero vanishes within the swirling blue vortex and is safely transported back to Grove. Only the inacessible return portal hovers tauntingly, daring the Master to wait for the strengthened Hero to return. The Master's statue raises its sword skyward once more as the Master flies out from the warrior's shell, soaring higher and higher, through Grove and above, into his Sky Palace.
Grove is a noisy little town, quiet in its own quaint respect, with the bustling sound of a busy marketplace but also the soft and serene bubbling of a brook nearby. The Hero walks calmly through the town, his pet at his side - the effects of the fish have worn off and it is back to its old form again. Dreya the Healer sits near the graveyard, always charitable - she fixes up the Hero for no charge. The pet is also examined. The Master watches with anger and rage, infuriated at the gall that his opponent has to put their battle into an intermission. The Angel hovers nearby. This time, the Master promises himself, he will bring support.
The Hero takes in one last, deep breath of clean open air, that surges into his lungs and puffs out his chest. But he is as healthy and fit as he was when first entering the dungeon. He will not let the Master surprise him again. And so, with one final glance over his shoulder at the town he loves, the Hero dives headfirst into the dungeon portal, allowing the swirling blue vortex to consume him in a violent blur of sound and noise. The Master, meanwhile, has again fallen down into the dungeon, back into the waiting body of his statue. The Angel flitters overhead, bow strung. As the Hero steps out from the portal, the pet barks noisily, alerting the Master to their presence. An arrow flies down and pierces the pet's paw, stunning it into a brief silence moments before the dog charges forward. As the pet and the angel spar, the Master approaches the distracted Hero, striking him with one powerful overhead chop. The Hero is knocked aside, right into the oncoming path of the blue arc that swishes out and slams him into a wall. As the Master takes a step back the Hero leaps forward, stabbing with his enormous greatsword, metal clanging on metal. But the faster, more agile strikes from the Hero's blade outmaneuver the Master's slow, concentrated power attacks, and it is the Master's turn to stumble in shock. The Hero follows up with a fireball spell, the flaming projectile slamming into the Master and exploding on contact. But as the smoke clears, the warrior statue stands untouched. In response, the Master summons through a bombardment of Magical stardust. Running wildly to avoid the falling stars, the Hero manages to escape relatively unhurt, but the pet takes a direct hit. This strike, coupled with the constant attacks from the angel, send it back to its fleeing state. The Hero is, once again, alone.
Targeting the Angel this time, the Hero calls down a meteor strike. The enormous boulders crash down over the armed cherub's fragile body, and the bow is shattered. The Angel hovers weakly, knocked out of the fight, and can only watch and pray for the Master's success. The Master sends another arc flying the Hero's way. The Hero, wising up to his foe's tricks, sidesteps and casts Spectral Armor again. Feeling stronger and more confident than before, the Hero prepares for the final clash of blades. Although one more arc crashes into his body, the Hero pushes through and swings his Greatsword in one enormous attack. The Master parries, driving his blade downward into the Hero's leg. The Spectral Armor fails at once with the attack.
Blood spurts from the wound, splashing onto the dungeon floor and shining sleek and black through the darkness. The Hero winces and clamps a hand down over the injury, holding his greatsword out with one hand. The Master looks back, watching the pet skitter frantically across the dungeon and the Angel hover calmly, recovering, and waiting for the Master to deliver the coup de grace.
The Master's distraction is all the Hero needs. Standing still, the Hero casts Holy Light, as a ring of pure whiteness shines out and lights up the room. The Master is thrown back by the blast and crumples to the ground, struggling to push himself up. The Hero charges forward and casts the spell again, incapacitating the warrior statue. As it raises one mighty arm in feeble defiance, the Hero pulls back his greatsword for one horizontal slash and brings the blade home. The statue does not break, but the color of its skin and robes fades into a muted gray and a small, glittering spark of light shines out from the helmet and retreats into the air, soaring upward. The Angel quickly follows suit.
Silence falls over the dungeon once more, save for the quiet and persistent crackling of the few torches mounted at irregular intervals on the wall. The echoing footsteps of the fleeing pet slow to a walk as the Hero feeds it a health potion. The Hero touches the abandoned statue, then pushes it, toppling it with a clang. The metallic ringing flies across the dungeon, bouncing off the walls and into a dying echo. The Hero's footsteps approach another staircase spiraling downwards, down to the next level of the dungeon.
And far above, the Master, in the safety of his Sky Palace, must wait for the departure of the Hero of Grove before he can help the people of the region. After all, they have their Hero. They need no Master.
I was surprised by this outcome, to be quite honest, but the results speak for themselves. Although the Master is incredibly strong and has countless years of experience, it was the more youthful vigor of the Hero that overcame the slow, precise power behind the Master's attacks. That, coupled with the advantages of a situationally superior ally in the pet and a greater variety of magical supplements, and the Hero was able to use his speed and agility to great effect.