Might and Magic: Whence Heroes?

The Might and Magic series is of course the source of the Heroes of Might and Magic series. So as I play the former, I’m keeping an eye peeled for connections to the latter. And, frankly, I’m not finding much. There are some spell names that the two have in common — in particular, the Town Portal spell, which I anticipated so greatly in Heroes Chronicles: Conquest of the Underworld, looks like it’ll just as useful here — but that’s pretty much it.

To be fair, this is the first episode, and it’s likely that it just hasn’t developed its identity yet. Most of what I’ve seen so far is just undistinguished D&D-style fantasy. But Final Fantasy started off the same way, and look where that ended up. Ultima was half sci-fi to start with, but toned that down considerably from episode 4 onward, when the Virtues of the Avatar became its defining characteristic. Might and Magic seems to have gone in the other direction, becoming more of a science-fantasy over the course of the first five episodes at least, with horizon-dominating planetary bodies becoming prominent on the cover art. But that’s an aspect that’s completely absent in HoMM as I know it. Considering that the first HoMM came out when the most recent Might and Magic game was set on the planet Xeen, I have to wonder what was going on there.

The one major thing I can see as an influence on HoMM so far is the outdoors sections. For one thing, the mere fact that they’re there. Might and Magic had an explorable wilderness before other Wizardry-style RPGs did — it predates the far simpler and less-varied outdoors in The Bard’s Tale II by a year or two. As a result, it establishes from the very beginning an environment for outdoor monsters. Venture into the mountains, for example, and you can wind up fighting herds of centaurs or pegasi — the same cantaurs and pegasi that would become core troop types for “rampart”-type cities in HoMM3. Obviously these aren’t unique to M&M — they’re part of the Narnia-esque mishmash of myth that forms part of D&D‘s core, and therefore the core of early RPGs in general. But that’s the part that’s generally neglected by other early RPGs in favor of the abominations-of-the-dungeon side, the troglodytes and oozes and spiders and so forth. It would be incongruous to find a pegasus wandering the corridors of an underground maze. (Not that Wizardry shied away from the incongruous.)

2 Comments so far

  1. malkav11 on 24 Jan 2010

    I don’t think there’s a great deal of connection until HOMM3/MM6. At that point both series are now set in the same world, and share a timeline. (I think that’s the point that happened, anyway.) Of course, I couldn’t get into Might and Magic 6 because of the radical gameplay changes they made (the move to a design that offered the choice of real-time or turn-based gameplay but had dramatic drawbacks in either mode was not an improvement in my book.), so I don’t have a lot of firsthand experience of that.

  2. Jason Dyer on 24 Jan 2010

    I don’t know of any connection other than what you just mentioned. (I have played all of them but 2, although I haven’t gotten far in World of Xeen.)

    I finshed MM6 and any similarity seems totally superficial.

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