Gameplay Enhancements


13-Jul-2011 New Hall of Decision sample map Derelict Dwarven Mining Operation

01-Jul-2011 New Hall of Decision sample map Ancient Dwarven City rev. 2

08-Jun-2011 Task Hall of Decision

18-Apr-2011 Added explanation how the magical essence works

12-Apr-2011 Proposals for an enhanced magic system, terrain and hero skills


Think big. We can do anything we can imagine and get to work.



We would like to invite all talented map makers to a small contest to design the map for the forthcoming Hall of Decision endgame in Heroes V.

This can incorporate all kinds of ideas to offer a truly interesting challenge. I would also like to invite all veteran players who have an indepth understanding of the game to come up with a rough design sketch. If you don't feel you are good at map design but have the right ideas for the map and the gameplay on it, we can accept that and have other people work out and beautify the map itself.

Basics and general description

No towns, the strongest heroes of all players on the adventure map are teleported to a random location in the Hall of Decision at the beginning.

Five differently coloured fountains are placed on the map. The first player who visits all and reaches a specified exit building wins the game. The gameplay is not about heroes building up their experience or armies, but rather about using their existing skills and strength to succeed.

The map will run in a special mode, which limits the vision of the player to the first person perspective of the hero. The hero can not see around corners or through doors. I will also implement special logic for whatever the map designer requests (and is feasible) that goes way beyond scripts. That means, you don't need to write scripts, this task is handled directly here. If you wish adventure objects to work differently or serve special functions just write a note.

My original idea was to have a dungeon with tiny rooms each offering a special challenge and reward, like in the old dungeon master games. Additionally the colour of the fountains can confer considerable boni and can serve as a key to bypass strong garrisons without a fight or use special portals. We have produced a couple of sample maps to aid and inspire you:

It doesn't need to be similar to the samples, anything good is welcome. If you have better ideas than dungeons let your creativity reign free with a focus on the gameplay. The size of the map is your choice, but preferably not bigger than necessary to suit the intended playing style and underground.

What you get in return

Well, we can't offer more than full credits and that your map gets a central role in Heroes 5.5. If there are more good contenders we can also choose to have a set of Hall of Decision maps that are either selected randomly or choosen by the player who reaches the victory building on the adventure map. But the best reward will be the fun to play the Hall of Decision map instead of the boredom to grind down the remaining opponents on the adventure map.


You can submit your map or concept in our design thread at HC or in an encrypted zip archive to h55Maps [at] simsysresearch [dot] com.


The Hall of Decision map(s) shouldn't consist of simple tunnels or a couple of chambers.

At the very least it should be a grid, so that the players have a chance to run into each other but don't have to.

+---+---+   +---+---+---+
|   |   |   |   |   |   |
+---+---+   +---+---+---+
|   |   |   |   |   |   |
+---+---+   +---+---+---+
            |   |   |   |

It doesn't need to be that regular. You can do awesome things with this. Even a regular dwarven wall labyrinth can be spiced up nicely. You can have passages blocked by debris or magma breaches, so that the player can see another player moving along further ahead but knows that he has to turn back and take another route to get there. You can also have additional irregular chambers at the fringe.

You can make the entire level look like a revered dwarven hall not touched for centuries. That the players are drawn in by the atmosphere and get the impression they have a rare opportunity to visit the refuge of kings long past.

Place the fountains strategically. It's a neat thing if you are standing just before a patch blocked with debris and can see the fountain ahead but know that you need to turn back first. Let your fantasy roll. Think of a long corridor lined with dwarven walls and all these large doors leading to the chambers (the small rooms) along the road. Some requiring keys, some not.

We can have hidden passages in these side chambers that open once inspected more closely. Maybe only players with the scouting skill can do that. Hidden passages that lead to a larger chamber with goodies, hidden for centuries, or possibly a shortcut to another fountain location. There is endless room for the smart map maker to explore.

You could create sort of a template for a hidden passage attached to a side chamber. What I mean with a template is, that it can appear in different locations to fulfil the same function. This will allow us to make the hidden passages random at map start, so that players who think they know a bit from the last play through will now stand simply before a blank rock. :-)

We can have portals reset whenever a player touches a fountain. We can have tremors hit the dungeon every now and then with passages becoming unblocked and others blocked instead.

Regarding guards and garrisons, you can place them but don't worry about their strength. This will be set at map start based on the strength of the strongest player. If you like you can make notes, like for example this guard should be 0.5 the player's strength, that one 0.2 or 1.1, or if it is supposed to block a color keyed garrison maybe 5.0.

A tiny map will most likely not suffice, probably even small is too small. Think a bit of the hidden passages and templates, you can make the dungeon's grid wider, allowing for more place between the routes and space behind the small side chambers for other chambers and things to appear.

We hope that these ideas together with our dungeon samples inspire you to tap into your creative forces and create your own interesting map. You can also join us brainstorming ideas.



A magical undercurrent that affects everything in the game world, the magic essence is the fundamental building block of which everything in the game world is composed.

The initial magic elements are:

The magic elements can be combined to form magic compounds. What this means is explained in the following sections that show in which way objects are made of it and how this leads to an infinite variety and fully modifiable properties.


The currently implemented terrain will equate to the following magic compounds:

The resulting terrain is implicitly derived from the compound, i.e. an infinite array of terrain properties becomes possible. This opens the door to dynamically changing terrain, to creatures that have an affinity to certain terrain elements, to hero skills that adapt based on the terrain and to spells that are altered by the terrain or alter the terrain.

This has wide ranging impacts from the overland map and skill system to the combat arena. For example, combat tiles can have their own terrain type and a creature that has affinity to fire, e.g. a Fire Dragon on a lava tile can have doubled strength. Spells can alter terrain types in combat and new types of obstacles become a real possibility.


The stats and nature of creatures will be fully dependent on their magic compounds. The approach is similar to the terrain, so that all existing creatures will be defined from a magic compound that has them behave exactly like they were originally, but opens the door for every possible variation.

It is entirely feasible to have neutral stacks on the adventure map to affect the land around their location, and to gain benefits or suffer penalties from the terrain they are standing on.

The logic applied from "Creatures and terrain effects", e.g. flyers underground, can also go into this system.


Every hero skill and perk will be completely modifiable, expressable by a magical compound logic augmented with skill enhancements.

Heroes also will have a native terrain affinity and can have a special magic affinity. The idea is to have the game work as it did in the vanilla version, but on the other hand to integrate a truly enhanced skill and perk system that interfaces seamlessly with magic terrain and creatures and an enhanced magic system. This way we can go beyond the limits of game designer developed rules in many more ways than is currently possible.


Each magic spell will have a much more detailed structure and adapts to the magic compounds in the terrain and creatures. Overland spells that alter the magic compounds in the terrain also become a possibility.

The way of learning spells can be much more interesting. For example, it can be a research task for the players to develop new spells on their own. This can require building prerequisites and resources and defining unique spells that nobody has thought of before.


It's a bit difficult to see how all the building blocks work together. Let's have a look at a combat example.

In the present design every special skill and perk is hard-coded into the game, that is for every hero or creature perk dedicated code is written that is invoked whenever it is applicable in a combat situation. This code does not only need to be maintained manually in a number of different places, this is also prone to bugs because interactions between multiple applicable perks need to be considered and updated whenever a change is made to reflect all possible scenarios. In the end this approach is very limited, because you can only add so many special skills and perks before this system becomes unmanagable.

The digital building blocks that implement the magical essence make skills and perks and creature stats and hero stats and terrain properties work together seamlessly. For example, we can have the mountain guard's defensive stance perk expressed as an earth magic link to the terrain tile it is initially standing on and which confers defense boni as long as the link is not broken. We don't do this by writing special code for the combat arena but finding a formula that expresses this perk in the terms of the magical essence. Creatures can then inherit this perk and once placed in the combat arena adapt automatically to their tile. This can include an additional adaptation to the magic from the terrain, e.g. it might make a difference whether the tile is of earth or fire, additional effects from the hero skills and other perks as well as magic spells. The border is fluid here – perks, skills and stats are expressed by their magical essence equivalent – so that we can have for instance the fire wall spell expressed as magical properties temporarily added to an area instead of tracking it by specialized code.

The important thing is that we will no longer have special code for creature perks or hero skills or magic spells, but have them expressed fully in terms of magical essence, so that the entire combat mechanics are evaluated from the underlying digital building blocks alone. This resolves all issues with perks not being applied correctly and makes all elements work seamlessly together. This means also that any new perk can be defined as seen fit, that creatures can inherit whatever perk is desired and that hero skills and combat mechanics will work as expected without modification of the code. The same is true for the hero skills, they will be completely expressable by their magic essence equivalent. New skills can be created and existing ones changed without limitations other than the fundamentals of the magic essence. This applies equally to fundamental skills, as for example how the first aid tent works, to boni conferred to creatures and to the more powerful skills that alter combat mechanics, e.g. the +1 speed movement bonus or penalties to the enemy's initiative.

Artifacts are part of this system as well and of course magic spells. We can have dynamically evolving and adapting terrain in the combat arena. For example the fire wall spell or the lava dragon's liquid flame breath introduce already limited effects, but if this system is developed in full, we can have for example lava tiles that confer boni to fire breathing creatures or small pools of swamp or water that strengthen water elementals. Opposite elements can cancel each other out, creatures and terrain can impact each other. The possibilities are infinite.

This truly empowers modders to create new creature sets, perks, skills, magic spells, artefacts and all will be working on the basis of the magic essence, i.e. the digital building blocks that implement it. This also opens the door to balance and fine-tune the combat mechanics. The combat arena engine will technically perform everything on the basis of the magic essence as opposed to evaluating the stats and perks and skills individually, i.e. they are expressed by their magic essence equivalent. It is entirely possible to have an extension to the game that the player can turn on if desired and which modifies effectively the combat stats, perks and skills. The hard-coded limitations will no longer be there.


This gives the native terrain around a castle a much more profound impact. It will also allow for a stronger shift of the balance in favour of defenders, and make for interesting strategic choices in respect of which factions to battle under given circumstances. It also opens possibilities for adapting the pacing of a game based on the map or active extensions.