Battle Realms Profile: Lotus Clan

Take a look at our third clan profile, as we examine the nefarious Lotus Clan.

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The Lotus Clan

Our coverage of Liquid Entertainment's Battle Realms, the upcoming 3D real-time strategy game from Crave, continues with an in-depth profile of the game's most intriguing faction, the Lotus Clan. These practitioners of dark magic aren't available for play in the game's single-player campaign, although you will have to contend with them several times as either the Serpent Clan. Instead, like the Wolf Clan, the Lotus Clan can only be played in Battle Realms' multiplayer skirmish modes.

Lotus Clan members attack a Wolf Clan encampment
Lotus Clan members attack a Wolf Clan encampment

The Lotus Clan in the game is actually an exiled faction of a much older group of Lotus people. This original clan was a very magical society that was in harmony with all living things. Its religion revolved around the belief of a spiritual tree, which provided life to its people and the rest of the world. According to the Lotus ideology, this tree was tended by the Brothers Three--Tausil, Lythis, and Sehk--mystical heroes who each respectively looked after the roots, trunk, and leaves of this holy plant. This society was a peaceful one, and it had certain rules that prevented the Lotus people from practicing certain types of magic, which would disrupt the delicate balance that the clan had attained with itself and nature. Despite this law, a rogue group of Lotus clan members began to dabble with magic that involved draining, life-stealing, and necromancy spells. Coincidentally, their experimentation coincided with the arrival of the same mysterious evil forces that drove the Serpent Clan (and other peoples) from its homeland. Believing that this horde was summoned by the dark magic, the original Lotus clan exiled this new sect of arcane practitioners and set them adrift onto the open sea. While fleeing from their homeland, the exiled members soon landed on the same island that the Serpent Clan had also inhabited. They soon found themselves locked in a deadly four-way war against the other clans on the isle.

The Lotus Clan's newfound magic had an unforeseen consequence, however. Their practitioners were able to successfully call upon forbidden spells, but the magic soon started to literally consume the clan members from the inside out. Because the clan couldn't contain the magic, it soon began corrupting them, eating at them--it would change anyone who used the dark spells into a diseased leper. This corruption is a life-draining force that physically changes the Lotus Clan's bodies, but it also provides them with a useful byproduct: the most powerful magic of any of the four clans in Battle Realms. As a faction, the Lotus Clan tends to have strong spellcasting abilities, and while it might look physically weaker than other clans, its magic prowess more than makes up for its lack of strength.

Zymeth, the Lotus Clan leader
Zymeth, the Lotus Clan leader

This clan is inherently evil, and its leader embodies all the characteristics of this dark people. Known only as Zymeth, the Lotus Clan leader forced his way into power by disposing of anyone who stood in his way, including the high priestess Sethess, who would have otherwise been the most legitimate candidate for leadership of the Lotus Clan. In fact, he is single-handedly responsible for the four-way civil war that erupts at the beginning of Battle Realms. Zymeth fell into favor with the Serpent Clan leader, Lord Oja, and Zymeth took that opportunity to whisper lies and treacherous thoughts into his ear. Zymeth convinced Oja to build a fleet of ships that would take the Serpent and Lotus Clans back to their homelands. Unbeknownst to Oja, however, Zymeth was planning on cursing these ships with draining spells that would slowly suck the life from the Serpent Clan. Unfortunately for the Lotus Clan, the Wolf Clan found out about Zymeth's treachery and warned Lord Oja before the Serpent Clan was able to set sail--so the Serpent and Lotus clans were plunged into war.

Let's take a look at the Lotus Clan in detail.

Lotus Clan Structures

Battle Realms is a unique real-time strategy game with unique RTS gameplay mechanics. Unlike in similar games, you won't be able to order certain units from different structures. Instead, all your units come out of the peasant hut, and they're then trained at one of various different buildings. Once their training is complete, they emerge as a first-tier unit. You can send your peasants to different structures for varying results. You can even train your peasants more than once so that they become advanced second- or even third-tier units. Additionally, most of the structures in Battle Realms will imbue specific units with up to two techniques, which are skills that will enhance your units' performance in different ways. Techniques have to be "purchased" using the game's yin-and-yang system. If you perform a good deed, like assisting a peasant with harvesting rice, you'll get a yang point. If you kill a peasant, you'll get one point of yin. Yin points and yang points cancel each other out, so two good deeds followed by one bad one equal one yang point. Since the Lotus Clan is an evil faction, you will use yin points to buy techniques.

Peasant Hut


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Click for full size image

The peasants are the fulcrums of Battle Realms' unit-generation system. Unlike in typical RTS games, you can't build specific units by clicking a button. In fact, you can't even build peasants that way--they're generated automatically at the peasant hut at an algorithmic rate that's dependent on the size of your current population and the number of peasant huts in your town. The larger your population, the slower the rate at which peasants are produced. You'll be limited to a certain population cap that's not yet determined by Liquid, and considering the amount of resources you'll spend on training them, your units are hardly considered expendable, so use them wisely.

Lythis' Forge


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Click for full size image

Both the Dragon Clan and Serpent Clan have four training structures, buildings where you can send peasants to train and emerge as something completely new, and the Lotus Clan is no different. The forge is the first of these training structures, and it produces a blade acolyte every time you send a peasant inside. Training at the forge is also necessary for one of the clan's as-of-yet secret second-tier units and its powerful third-tier unit. Techniques available at the forge include:
Silvered steel: This technique increases the amount of damage that blade acolytes inflict on Wolf Clan units.
Way of the root: This increases the hit points of diseased ones, infested ones, and blade acolytes.

Blade Garden


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Click for full size image

The blade garden is the second of the Lotus Clan's training structures. By sending a peasant through here, you'll receive a first-tier unit called the leaf disciple. The blade garden also plays an important role in the training of the unclean one, as well as two other high-level units. Techniques available at the blade garden include:
Leafbite: Buying this technique will increase the amount of damage that leaf disciples inflict on Dragon Clan and Serpent Clan units.
Leafstep: This increases the movement speed of infested ones, unclean ones, and leaf disciples.

Training Yard


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Click for full size image

The training yard is the third training structure, as its name implies. By sending a peasant into this building, you'll receive a staff adept. Like other buildings in the Lotus Clan, this structure also handles the production of other second- and third-tier units as well. Techniques available at the training yard include:
Strength of the trunk: The hit points of diseased ones, unclean ones, and staff adepts increases when you purchase this technique.
The whirling staff: This technique increases the amount of damage inflicted by staff adepts.

Aviary


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Click for full size image

The last of the Lotus Clan's training structures is the aviary. Like the Serpent and Dragon Clans' bathhouses, the aviary is used to train peasants into becoming geishas, or in the case of the Lotus Clan, channelers. Techniques available at the aviary include:
Birdseed: This increases the amount of damage inflicted by the mistresses' ravens.
Birdsong: This technique enhances the stealth ability of all Lotus units, as they no longer disturb birds when moving through the forest.

Watchtower


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Click for full size image

The Lotus watchtower is similar to the Serpent and Dragon Clans' watchtowers, with one key difference: The Lotus watchtower makes use of the clans' magic by making it possible to teleport units between any constructed tower, one at a time. And as a nice touch, Lotus units don't climb to the top of the tower; they stand at its base and get teleported to the top automatically. Of course, the tower also gives any unit that sits on top of it an increased line of sight and the ability to fire its ranged weapon at greater distances.

Stables


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Click for full size image

Your peasants have many duties in Battle Realms, one of which is to go out into the wild to capture and domesticate horses. Lotus Clan stables will produce tamed horses that are significantly different from those belonging to the Dragon or Serpent Clans. Lotus Clan horses are called shadow steeds, and when mounted, they will attack with their hooves when prompted by their riders. Shadow steeds are also stronger than normal horses, and when stolen by enemy units, they will gradually start dying. This prevents other clans from using shadow steeds. Unfortunately, the only Lotus Clan members who can mount shadow steeds are first-tier units. Additionally, the following techniques can be purchased from the stables:
Wolfsbane bridles: This specialized technique neutralizes the penalty that mounted Lotus Clan units normally have against Wolf Clan pack masters.
Horse anatomy: This technique eliminates the bonus that mounted enemy units have against members of the Lotus Clan.

Crypt of the Brotherhood


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Click for full size image

The last of the Lotus Clan structures is easily the most intriguing. For those who read our Dragon Clan and Serpent Clan profiles, you'll note that the Lotus Clan doesn't have any "shop buildings," structures that give trained units a special upgrade. That doesn't mean that Lotus units don't have any special abilities. As we mentioned earlier, the Lotus Clan belief revolves around three mystical brothers who tend a holy tree. By building the crypt of the brotherhood, you'll actually be able to summon the brothers Tausil, Lythis, and Sehk. Once the crypt has been built, all three brothers will emerge from it immediately, and you can order them around the same way you would any other unit. While their fighting abilities are rather weak, they do have a special purpose: The brothers' stamina bars are empty when they first emerge from the crypt. As they fight, the stamina bars will slowly fill up, and when these bars are full, the brothers will dissipate and send a wave of magic across the entire map. It's these waves that actually upgrade your Lotus units. Specifically, when Tausil dispels his energy, he'll upgrade all blade acolytes; when Lythis sends forth his blessing, he'll upgrade all your staff adepts; and when Sehk fills up his stamina bar, he'll upgrade the leaf disciples.

Obviously, this is quite different from the way that you upgrade trained Dragon and Serpent Clan units, but it does have its advantages, the biggest of which is that all your units will get upgraded at once, saving you the time it would otherwise take to micromanage each fighter into a shop building and back out onto the field. Of course, there are some disadvantages as well. If the crypt is destroyed, all your units will automatically lose their upgrades until you build a new crypt, and the Brothers Three process is repeated all over--it's all part of the game's balanced design.

Lotus Clan Members

As we've mentioned in the previous clan profiles, Battle Realms won't let you build or create units in the traditional RTS sense. Instead, the only unit that will be automatically available to you will be the peasant, whom you can train at any one of various structures to be a more powerful unit. You'll be able to train your units once, twice, and even three times for the ultimate fighter, warrior, or magician. Let's take a look at the Lotus Clan units, starting with the clan leader, Zymeth. Keep in mind that this profile is missing four Lotus members--the designers at Liquid are still finalizing all their abilities. Besides, we wouldn't want to ruin the surprise.

Zymeth


Like Kenji and Shinja, the respective leaders of the Dragon and Serpent Clans, Zymeth is classified as a hero unit, and as such, he can't "die"--he merely becomes temporarily unavailable. Zymeth is a powerful mage, skilled in the black arts. His standard attacks include the ability to shoot bolts of lightning at nearby enemies, and he also has a withering touch that drains the life of anyone he engages in melee combat. Additionally, Zymeth can use his powers to call forth a storm that sends a shower of rain across the entire map. The rain makes surrounding rice fields grow back faster, and the storm's lightning bolts will actually hurt enemy units if they get hit.

Peasant


These peasants are functionally identical to those of the Dragon and Serpent Clans, even though they might look a little different. While they don't make good fighters, they do carry a small knife that can do some damage, especially when a group of peasants take on a single enemy. Peasants are also used for fetching water from wells and rivers to grow rice and put out fires, construct buildings, repair structures, and tame horses. Their primary purpose, however, is to train at the many training buildings you'll eventually construct in your village. Doing so will transform the lowly peasant into a true combatant.

Blade Acolyte


One of the first trained units you'll be able to make use of is the blade acolyte, which is created by sending a peasant into the forge. While he lacks any ranged weapons, the blade acolyte's twin scythelike weapons will prove deadly in close-range combat. His innate ability is called pass-through damage, a technique that damages any enemy unit standing next to the acolyte's first target. However, while this move will affect more than one enemy, it inflicts less damage per unit than the acolyte normally does when he attacks normally. The blade acolyte also receives an upgrade when the first brother, Tausil, fills up his stamina. That particular upgrade, called inner strength, is a rechargeable ability that makes it possible for the acolyte to use his own stamina and regain any health that he might have lost in combat.

Leaf Disciple


The leaf disciple is acquired by sending a peasant into the blade garden, and he's the only first-tier unit to have an effective ranged attack. He telekinetically controls a number of bladed leaves that spin above him, and he can use them to attack nearby enemies. His innate ability is melee counterstrike, wherein anyone who attacks him in a melee fight will take a bit of damage from the rotating blades. Additionally, he gains a combat upgrade when brother Sehk reaches his maximum stamina levels and explodes. That particular upgrade, called scrye leaves, sends his spinning blades flying outward. And while they do no damage, the blades will temporarily remove the fog of war around the area where they each landed. This ability makes the leaf disciple a great scout unit.

Staff Adept


The staff adept lacks the ranged ability of the leaf disciple, but he's extremely effective at close range. He's the third first-tier Lotus Clan unit that you can train, and he's created by sending a peasant into the training yard. He'll emerge with a sturdy bo, which can dispatch first-tier units from enemy clans rather easily. His innate ability is the whirling staff, which makes him less vulnerable to missile weapons while he's attacking. The third of the mystical brothers, Lythis, fills up his stamina bar and explodes, and the staff adept will gain the upgrade called blinding defense, a magical ability that gives an armor bonus to all Lotus Clan members around. This upgrade uses up his stamina, however, and it renders him completely immobile while it's active.

Unclean One


The unclean one is one of three second-tier units that you'll have access to in Battle Realms. He's created by sending a leaf disciple into a training yard or by sending a staff adept into a blade garden. He'll be your first Lotus unit to have visible signs of the clan's dark corruption. Black, acidic phloem oozes from his mouth and nostrils, and he uses this disgusting bile as a weapon. His standard attack is actually a phloem ball that he flings with a long sling, and his innate ability of darkness makes him deadly even after he's dead--a dark cloud will emerge from the spot where he fell, and it will completely, though temporarily, blind anyone standing nearby.

Unlike the first-tier Lotus Clan members, the unclean one and other second-tier units have two upgrades available to them. The unclean one's first upgrade is gained when he eats one of his own peasants, and it's called death sentry. When it's activated, the unclean one will spit out a screaming skull that slowly drains the life of all enemies standing near it, and it also removes the fog of war around the area where it landed. Only one screaming skull can be active at once, so when another one is spit out, the first one vanishes. The unclean one's second upgrade is gained when he has full stamina. It's called spreading goo, and it makes his phloem balls slow all units that pass through them, even though the goo balls are completely harmless.

Channeler


The channeler is the Lotus equivalent of the Serpent and Dragon Clan's geishas. She's created by training a peasant at the aviary, and while she doesn't have any special upgrades, she does possess many innate abilities that don't require any stamina. When she emerges from the aviary, the channeler will be constantly surrounded by three to four ravens. She can use these ravens to lash out at a specific target, or she can sacrifice them to gain a heal charge. This ability gives the channeler an advantage that geishas from other clans don't have; she can run out onto the battlefield, using up her stamina in the process, and heal injured clan members using the ravens. Since she doesn't have to worry about having leftover stamina to heal, the channeler is a great medic unit. And like her geisha counterparts, she also has the skill of seduction, which causes nearby peasants to fall in love with her and remove the fog of war from their surrounding area.

This sums up our profile of the Lotus Clan. It'll certainly prove to be a menace when you confront it in the single-player campaign. Thankfully, you'll be able to dabble in the clan's corrupted magic in Battle Realms' multiplayer component when the game ships later this year. Next month, we'll take a look at the last of the clans in this game: the Wolf Clan. Be sure to check back.

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