(updated 07/02/10) Age of Wonders II Heaven :: Blackwater Lake for CoMA SE mod
Age of Wonders II Heaven Julia with Gameplay background
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Blackwater Lake for CoMA SE mod

Author File Description
Roger the Rampant
File Details
Ruleset: AoW: SM - Unofficial Patch 1.4
Map Size: XL
Levels: 1
Single Player?: Yes
Co-Op vs. AI?: Yes
PBEM/Hotseat?: Yes
Multiplayer Online?: Yes
# of Wizards: 5
# of players: 5
Skill Level: Any (depends on AI difficulty setting)
Password Protected: No
IMPORTANT NOTE: This map will only work if you have CoMA SE (Children of Many Ages) mod installed, and you have selected CoMA SE in AoWSMSetup.

This is an XXL map, so it is substantially larger than an XL map, which is the largest "standard size" that can be created in the editor. Thanks to PawelS for giving us the ability and tools to make XXL maps! It is essentially designed as a multiplayer map for 4 or 5 players, with two evil wizards, two good wizards, and a neutral wizard on an island in the middle of the lake (which can be set to CPU Emperor for a 4-player game). It is surface only, so no caverns or shadow world.

There are two versions included, the FFA (free for all) version has no diplomatic relations set initially, whereas the 2vs2 version has alliances pre-set between the two evil races and the two good races.

"Despite so many things in life seeming to change, and some things appearing to be lost forever, yet the Serpent River will still always continue to flow." Lizard proverb

Over a long period of time the Serpent River has seen an enormous number of changes, yet some things remain constant. The different races that live there seem to ebb and flow backwards and forwards along the banks even more erratically than the waters of the river, as different leaders attempt to expand their own personal empires, and as one empire expands another will inevitably be contracting. Races which were unbelievably strong a century ago might be greatly diminished in their orb of power now, but a loss of power for one leader will have created a vacuum, which another hopeful will have quickly stepped into. Dreams will have been dreamed, a few might have actually tried to put those dreams into reality, then in due course some will have succeeded or partially succeeded, whilst others will have crashed and burned. In the meantime, that "ole man" Serpent River just keeps rolling along.

One population which had seen radical changes over the years was that of the lizard people. They still maintained a credible presence in the area but were a mere shadow of their former selves, having been one of the strongest powers throughout the area, especially on the Peninsula of Sobek. Sadly they felt that they had been "sold down the river" by Nimue, and they felt strongly betrayed by her allowing herself to be seduced by the temptations that the human race had appeared to offer her. As usual with anything that the human race might try to sell you, the reality of course falls far short of the glamorous picture that their sales pitch promised. Anyway, following Nimue's desertion of them much of the lizard armies were destroyed, and their previous strong control over the territory rapidly loosened. Sensing their weakness and vulnerability following the defection of their erstwhile leader, the races bordering their traditional territory quickly pushed into those lands in order to claim them for themselves. So there were still some pockets of lizard resistance, but it tended to be fragmented on various islands and less accessible parts of the river banks.

Some had even combined their efforts with those of dragonkind, believing that a combination of air power with sea power could provide the most significant and devastating tactical fighting force to ever have been forged in the shire. They were even willing to put up with the effeminate pink gowns of the draconian heroes, so convinced and unwavering were they in their belief that the future control of the shire belonged in a lizard/dragon alliance.

Needless to say most of the lizard population dreamed of returning to the heady days of power again, it takes a generation or two for any race to realise and accept that their empire has gone, but they would need a strong leader to unite them and bring them back to prominence if this vision was to become a reality. This had always been the dream of Luna Park since his early childhood, and now he was at last taking the first tentative steps towards turning that dream into some sort of reality.

He had secured a stronghold on an island in Blackwater Lake which had substantial resources of gold, the Count of Mount Python was also supporting his cause and had pledged his financial support, and many communities along the banks of the Serpent River were quickly prepared to forget old feuds if you could cross their palms with enough gold. The rumours of this new-found gold quickly spread along the banks of the Serpent River, but despite many covetous eyes viewing this potential income source with envy, nobody had the substantial naval firepower needed to take out the lizards, as the waterways were - of course - their natural habitat. Some neutral workers had been tempted to work for him once they knew that they would be paid in pure gold, and he seemed to have a particular fascination with stonemasons, along with engineers with any experience of bridge-building. Whilst the humans liked to believe that they were masters of technology and engineering, it was the widely-held belief throughout the other races that the dwarves were actually the ultimate engineering race. The drawback was, of course, that whilst a dwarf is quite at home in a tunnel or a wood, they are certainly not creatures with a natural affinity for water, and it took A LOT of gold to persuade some dwarves to join the watery workforce. The fact that nobody would actually tell them WHY their engineering skills were required on some island out in the middle of Blackwater Lake did not help, either, but they assumed it would be something to do with gold mines out on the island. In reality the plans of Luna Park were far more ambitious, and if he HAD told them what he wanted to achieve then they probably wouldn't have accepted that it was possible, so it was probably better that they were kept in the dark initially.

What he wanted to do was to build the two largest bridge structures that had ever been seen in the shire, substantially larger than anything that had been constructed in the region in the past. He wanted one bridge spanning all the way from his island stronghold to the watery prison that he controlled, the Castle of Wye, and thence on towards the shore, hitting the beaches roughly midway between the wizard strongholds of the elves and the dwarves. That would be about fifteen times as long as any bridge that had been previously seen here. Then he wanted a secondary bridge, again going from the water prison to the shore, but going at ninety degrees to the other. These bridges would need substantial fortifications, otherwise they would simply give the land-based races easy access to his island stronghold, and therefore by implication his lucrative gold mines, which was definitely not the aim of the exercise. The other major challenge was that this whole project needed to remain a secret, and bearing in mind the sheer enormous logistical challenge of moving so many tons of rock and mortar into position out in the lake, that appeared to be a virtual impossibility. However, as we join the shire he appears to have actually achieved his ambitious bridge-building objective.

The way that Luna Park had ended up on the island in the first place was as the result of the complex misfortunes - and subsequent years of extracting revenge for those misfortunes from various people - of a sailor that he knew, Eddie Dank, who had once worked for his father. He had come to the islet of Mount Python to meet the Count, to discuss a source of engineers that were willing to work for him, and to negotiate their rates of pay. As he was waiting to be invited in to see the Count, he found himself humming the theme tune of the Beapartist movement, "Everybody hurts sometimes". He wasn't sure whether the Count had Beapartist sympathies or not, and it was a dangerous tune to have floating in and out of your head, as any hint of Beapartist sympathies could potentially lead to summary execution for treason, should the wrong people happen to hear about it. He started singing the song briefly, then abruptly stopped as the Count's servant, Zuton, emerged to invite him to his audience with the Count, and Luna laughed embarassedly, wondering whether Zuton had overheard the words, and tune, that he was singing.

After the business discussions between the Count and Luna Park concluded, the Count could resist no longer, and asked with a curious tone "I thought that I heard you laughing? I thought that I heard you sing?" Luna Park did not respond, as his answer could potentially have serious implications, not only for his life but also for their newly-forged business relationship, and so the Count continued "I think I thought I saw you try". As Luna looked deadly serious but still did not comment, the Count smiled and said "You don't need to worry, I don't mind who controls the shire, as long as I have the freedom to conduct my business and travel wherever I choose. Monarch, emperor or wizard, it really makes no difference to me." He then proceeded to recount to Luna Park the events that had shaped the last twenty years of his life, and ultimately given him his enormous wealth and influence.

"Eddie Dank, a young and successful merchant sailor recently granted his own command, returns to Blackwater to marry his fiancée Skoda. Clark, a supporter of the exiled Merlin I, charges Dank on his deathbed to deliver two objects: a package to Marshall Mathers (who had been exiled with Merlin Beapart to the isle of Melba), and a letter from Melba to an unknown man in Parse. Subsequently, an anonymous letter (later revealed to have been written by Kia Mondego, Skoda's cousin, and Danglies, Dank's ship's supercargo) accuses Dank of being a Beapartist traitor, and Villify, the deputy crown prosecutor in Blackwater, assumes the duty of investigating the matter. Villify is normally considered a just man, but on discovering that the recipient of the letter from Melba is his Beapartist father, he ultimately chooses to save his political career and condemns Dank without trial to life imprisonment and protects his father by destroying the incriminating letter.

After thirteen years imprisonment in the Castle of Wye, Eddie is visited in his cell by Father Faria, a priest and fellow prisoner trying to tunnel his way to freedom. Faria provides Dank with a comprehensive education in subjects including languages, history, economics, philosophy, mathematics, and the manners of polite society. The priest, ill from a form of catalepsy and knowing that he will soon die, confides in Dank the location of a treasure hoard on the islet of Mount Python. After Faria's death the following year, Dank escapes and is rescued by a smuggling ship. After several months of working with the smugglers, he gets the opportunity to go to Mount Python for a goods exchange. Dank fakes an injury and convinces the smugglers to temporarily leave him on Mount Python. He then makes his way to the hiding place of the treasure. He returns to Blackwater, where he learns that his father has died in poverty. He buys himself a yacht and hides the rest of the treasure on board. With his newfound wealth and education, Dank buys the island of Mount Python and the title of Count from the local government.

Returning to Blackwater, Dank puts into action his plans for revenge. Travelling in disguise as the Father Busoni, Edmund first meets Cadrouge, whose intervention might have saved Dank from imprisonment. Now living in poverty, Cadrouge believes his current state is punishment by the gods for his jealousy and cowardice. Dank learns from Cadrouge how his other enemies have all become wealthy and prosperous since Dank's betrayal. Edmund gives Cadrouge a diamond that can be either a chance to redeem himself, or a trap that will lead to his ruin. Cadrouge murders the jeweller to whom he sold the diamond, and he is sentenced to life in the prison galleys. Dank (using another disguise, this time as the English Lord William) frees him and gives him another chance at redemption. He does not take it, and becomes a career criminal.

Learning that his old employer MacArthur Park is on the verge of bankruptcy and disgrace after his ships have been lost at sea, Dank (in the guise of a senior clerk of the banking firm of Thompson and French) buys all of Park's outstanding debts and gives Park an extension of three months to fulfill his obligations. At the end of the three months and with no way to repay his debts, Park is about to commit suicide when he learns that all of his debts have been mysteriously paid and that one of his ships has returned with a full cargo (the ship had been secretly rebuilt and laden by Dank)."

Luna Park interjects with astonishment "So it was you that saved my father from ruin! I can never thank you enough!" The Count just smiled, and continued with his story.

"Nine years later, Dank debuts in public as the Count of Mount Python, a mysterious and fabulously rich aristocrat. He surfaces first in Romanticipus, where he becomes acquainted with the Baron Franz Ferdinand, a young aristocrat, and Viscount Albert Tatlock, Skoda's and Kia's son. He later rescues Albert from bandits. Dank subsequently moves to Parse, and with Albert Tatlock's introduction, becomes the sensation of the city. Due to his knowledge and rhetorical power, even his enemies - who do not recognize him as Eddie Dank - find him charming, and because of his status they all desire his friendship.

Mount Python meets Danglies, who has become a wealthy banker. Mount Python dazzles the crass Danglies with his seemingly endless wealth, eventually persuading him to extend him a 6,000,000 gold coins credit, and withdraws nine hundred thousand. Under the terms of the arrangement, Mount Python can demand access to the remainder at any time. The Count manipulates the bond market, through a false telegraph signal, and quickly destroys a large portion of Danglies' fortune, and the rest of it begins to rapidly disappear through mysterious bankruptcies, suspensions of payment, and more bad luck on the Stock Exchange.

Mount Python threatens Villify with knowledge of his past affair with Mrs Danglies, which produced a son. Believing the child to be stillborn, Villify had buried the child. The boy was rescued and raised in Corsa by his enemy, Zuton (now Mount Python's servant), who gave the child the name "Benedict". As an adult, Benedict becomes a career criminal who is sentenced to the galleys with Cadrouge, but after being freed by "Lord William", takes the identity of "Viscount Andrew Cavalier" (sponsored by the Count) and cons Danglies into betrothing his daughter Eugenius to him. Cadrouge blackmails Andrew, threatening to reveal his past.

Cornered by "Father Busoni" while attempting to rob Mount Python's house, Cadrouge begs to be given another chance, but Dank grimly notes that the last two times he did so, Cadrouge did not change. He forces Cadrouge to write a letter to Danglies exposing Viscount Cavalier as an impostor and allows Cadrouge to leave the house, but the moment Cadrouge leaves the estate, he is stabbed in the back by Andrew.
Cadrouge manages to dictate and sign a deathbed statement identifying his killer, and Mount Python reveals his true identity to Cadrouge moments before Cadrouge dies.

Ali Pasha, the ruler of Janina, was betrayed to the orcs by Kia. After his death, his daughter Heidi and his wife Vasiliki were sold into slavery by Kia; subsequently, Heidi was located and rescued by Dank and becomes the Count's guest in his residence. The Count manipulates Danglies into researching the event, which is published in a newspaper. As a result, Kia is brought to trial for his crimes. Heidi testifies against him, and Kia is disgraced.

Skoda alone recognizes Mount Python as Dank. When Albert blames Mount Python for his father's downfall and publicly challenges him to a duel, Skoda goes secretly to Mount Python and begs him to spare her son. During this interview, she learns the entire truth of his arrest and imprisonment. She later reveals the truth to Albert, which causes Albert to make a public apology to Mount Python. Albert and Skoda disown Kia, who is also confronted with Dank's true identity and subsequently commits suicide. The mother and son depart to build a new life free of disgrace. Albert enlists and goes to the United Cities as a soldier in order to rebuild his life and honour under a new name, and Skoda begins a solitary life in Blackwater."

Luna Park was reeling as he tried to take in all this information, and coming to the realisation that the Count was truly a master of disguise, able to put on so many radically different personalities as easily as if he was simply changing his clothes. He felt quite frightened and vulnerable, and suddenly spluttered "It's getting... it's getting... it's getting kind of hectic. I'm trying to keep up with you, and I don't know if I can do it!" "Oh no, I've said too much" responded the Count, with a sad smile, followed quickly by "I haven't said enough. Life is bigger than you, and I am not you, the lengths that I will go to. The distance in your eyes concerns me, but I must have my revenge on those that have wronged me. Like the crack of the whip I snap, attack. I've got the power! Vengeance shall be mine! Maybe I'm crazy... possibly, but when it's sink or swim you have to think to win." Luna looked at the floor, and after a long and uncomfortable silent pause, the Count continued his story, his voice subdued.

"Villify's daughter by his first wife, Valentine, stands to inherit the entire fortune of her grandfather (Blackhead) and of her mother's parents, while his second wife, Helen, seeks the fortune for her small son Edward. Mount Python is aware of Helen's intentions, and "innocently" introduces her to the technique of poison. Helen fatally poisons Valentine's mother's parents, so that Valentine gets their inheritance. However, Valentine is disinherited by Blackhead in an attempt to prevent Valentine's impending marriage with Franz Ferdinand. The marriage is cancelled when Ferdinand learns that his father was killed by Blackhead in a duel. Afterwards, Valentine is reinstated in Blackhead's will. Helen then targets Valentine, so that Edward will finally get the fortune.

After Mount Python learns that Park's son Luna is in love with Valentine de Villify, he saves her by making it appear as though Helen's plan to poison Valentine has succeeded and that Valentine is dead. Villify learns that Helen is a murderer and confronts her, giving her the choice of a public execution or committing suicide by her own poison."

Luna urgently interjected "Is this the real life, is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide - no escape from reality. So is my beloved Valentine truthfully dead, or not?" The count smiles "All in good time, all in good time. Every whisper of every waking hour I'm choosing my confessions, trying to keep an eye on you like a hurt, lost and blinded fool." "You might be many things to many people, sire, but you are certainly no fool. I'm begging you for mercy - why don't you release me?" Luna drummed his fingers impatiently, waiting for more news concerning the love of his life, Valentine.

"Fleeing after Cadrouge's letter exposes him, Andrew is only one day's ride away before he is arrested and brought back to Parse, where he is prosecuted by Villify. Andrew reveals that he is Villify's son and was rescued after Villify buried him alive. Villify admits his guilt and flees the court. He rushes home to stop his wife's suicide but he is too late; she has poisoned her son as well. Dank confronts Villify, revealing his true identity, which drives Villify insane. Dank tries to resuscitate Edward but fails, and despairs that his revenge has gone too far. It is only after he revisits his cell in the Castle of Wye that Dank is reassured that his cause is just and his conscience is clear, that he can fulfill his plan while being able to forgive both his enemies and himself.

After the Count's manipulation of the bond market, all Danglies is left with is a tarnished reputation and five million gold coins he has been holding in deposit for the hospitals. The Count demands this sum to fulfill their credit agreement, and Danglies embezzles the hospital fund. Abandoning his wife, Danglies flees to the dwarf territories to the southwest of Blackwater Lake, hoping to live in exile in anonymous prosperity. That is his hope, but I have sent my agent after him, and if we can capture him then we will imprison him in the same way that I was, so that he can find out for himself some of the pain that I have endured in the name of "justice".

As you know Luna Park, believing Valentine to be dead, contemplated suicide after her funeral. I have explained that I rescued your father from bankruptcy, disgrace and suicide years earlier. Valentine is here on the island, and you will be reunited with her very shortly. I also pledge to support your efforts financially, as ultimately your bridges are helping to move me closer to my sole remaining enemy, and my revenge on that enemy."

Luna thought his body was going to explode, a rapid rush of blood to the head, an enormous pounding in his heart and in his pants. She was alive! Life was worth living again! So many thoughts and dreams entering his head in such a short space of time, and then another scary concept - what if all these fantasies come flailing around?

So whilst the Count is planning how to further mentally torture Baron Danglies, the final element from the group of people that contributed to his unjust imprisonment, Luna Park is about to declare war - with Dank as a financial backer - in an attempt to gain total control of the whole shire. Let the battle commence!


Mapmaking notes: A lot of my artistic inspiration for this map came from the superb map-making in a map called Orb of Dreams by a very talented map-maker called Arbiter Mundi. I hope that Arbiter Mundi will forgive me for "borrowing" a number of great ideas from his map, and using them in this one. Hopefully at some point in the not-too-distant-future his awesome map will also be available for you guys to play.

The inspiration for my prose was often influenced by the lyrics of a lot of the great songs that I have listened to, and some of the great films that I have enjoyed watching. Alexandre Dumas also had a large part to play in some sections of the plot.

I have tried to keep it "historically true" to the storyline of AoW1, AoW2 and Shadow Magic as far as possible, and my thanks go to those that helped with clarifying that, especially Beren V and ChowGuy.

My thanks go to Wikipedia, too; also to www.poker-tomorrow.com for their poker strategy articles ;)

This is the only custom map that I am aware of at Heavengames which is designed for CoMA SE mod, and the mod can be downloaded at:

http://aow2.heavengames.com/downloads/showfile.php?fileid=805

Good luck! :)

P.S. I'm the lyrical Jesse James !!
AuthorComments & Reviews   ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )
luna park haha hi Roger.

I like how im in your story and Luna Park singing to himself (REM and Queen) made me laugh.

i saw similarities with Count of Monte Cristo which is a cool movie.

i tried to test the map, with no surprises who i chose but it wouldnt load.
And asked griff if he could test it and he couldnt get it to load either. Griff said u might not of tested it with the latest resources and is easy enough to convert.
Roger the Rampant
File Author
Glad you like the story, Luna :)

OK I've uploaded a new version which should work without people having to open it in the editor first. Because there are level 5 units in the mod I needed to use a special version of the resources that Griff kindly did for me, so that I could see level 5 units that were placed on the map.

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Added:06/28/10
Updated:07/02/10
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