Your hero is what makes your game experience unique from everybody else's. While the other aspects of the game - buildings, resources, camps, events etc - are common to all players, how you customize your hero will change how the game plays for you.
There are three main ways in which your hero influences gameplay.
- Race - your choice of race determines what units are available to you, and the look and feel of the game.
- Skills - your choice of skills gives you specific benefits, to make you better in battle, spellcasting, or building your city.
- Equipment - equipping artifacts gives your character boosts in a similar way to skills, but you can change what equipment you wear in different situations.
For more about what the effects of your skills and gear actually do, see Bonuses.
The race choices are Orcs, Undead, Elves and Dwarves.
Orcs - fierce warriors, middling spellcasters, disinterested builders.
Dwarves - devoted builders, middling warriors, disinterested spellcasters.
Elves - balanced across the three specializations
Undead - powerful spellcasters, middling builders, disinterested warriors.
Skills are arrayed in three trees - warrior, spellcaster and builder. Each of the three paths has five tiers - a basic tier of two skills that anyone can take, and four tiers of advanced skills that unlock with 10, 20, 30 and 40 skill points invested in that tree. You can take 10 points in each skill, except for the tier 4 'master skill' for each tree, which can only be taken once.
Each race also gets 1-3 bonus skills in each tree, which are available only to that race. While you can invest 10 points in the basic skills, you can only take 5 levels in racial skills (except for the Undead skill Necromancy, where you can take 10 ranks).
- Tier 0: Pathfinding (unit speed +4%), Armor (normal resist +3)
- Tier 1: Teachings (training speed +3%), Magic Resistance (magic resist +3%)
- Tier 2: Weaponry (damage +3%), Field Medicine (regeneration +2%)
- Tier 3: Looting (raided resources +2%), Health (HP +2%)
- Tier 4: Military Research (all unit upgrades get +1 effective value).
Depending on your race, you get access to the following racial specific skills.
- Tier 1: Orc plundering (raided resources +2%)
- Tier 2: Orc drll (training speed +4%)
- Tier 3: Orc warlords (damage +4%)
- Tier 1: Dwarven breastplates (fire and ice resist +3%)
- Tier 3: Dwarven shields (magic resist +4%)
- Tier 1: Elven agility (speed +6%)
- Tier 3: Elven longevity (HP +3%)
- Tier 3: Undead rising (regeneration +2%)
- Tier 0: Clear horizons (magic cloud fading speed +5%), Inventions (research speed +4%)
- Tier 1: Temple silos (mana storage +6%), Battle magic (magic damage +3%, magic damage vs neutral units +10%)
- Tier 2: Synergic effect (effect of spells cast on you +10%), Rune proficiency (rune discovery +2%)
- Tier 3: Mysticism (mana production +4%), Swift wand (spell recovery +4%)
- Tier 4: Improved spells (effective spell level +1 when casting)
The racial bonus skills are:
- Tier 2: Orc warlock staffs (Spell recovery +4%)
- Tier 3: Orc rune experts (Rune discovery +2%)
- Tier 2: Dwarven science (research speed +6%)
- Tier 1: Elven far sight (reach of spell +15%)
- Tier 3: Elven wisdom (mana storage +10%)
- Tier 0: Undead necromancy (necromancy +3%)
- Tier 1: Undead fury (Magic damage +4%, magic damage vs neutral units +15%)
- Tier 3: Undead magic essence (Effect of spells cast on you +10%)
- Tier 0: Last stand (HP in home city +3%), Warehouse (resource storage +6%)
- Tier 1: Engineering (building speed +5%), Tower power (tower damage +10%)
- Tier 2: Studies (experience +2%, artifact discovery bonus +1%), Masonry (building cost -2%)
- Tier 3: Sustaiing (upkeep increase +2%), Mining (resource production +2%)
- Tier 4: Foreign Masters (+1 architect)
Racial bonus skills:
- Tier 2: Orc storage houses (resource storage +12%)
- Tier 1: Dwarven architecture (building cost -2%)
- Tier 2: Dwarven pickaxes (resource production +3%)
- Tier 3: Dwarven towers (tower damage +20%)
- Tier 2: Elvish knowledge (experience +2%, artifact discovery bonus 1%)
- Tier 3: Elvish guerillas (HP in home city +4%)
- Tier 2: Undead workforce (building speed +4%)
- Tier 3: Undead swarm (upkeep increase +2%)
Your hero can have up to three sets of equipment - though you need to unlock the second, third and fourth sets at levels 20, 40 and 60 respectively. You will tend to have a best set of gear for raiding, for arena and PvP battles, for resource gathering, for mana collection, for spellcasting and for building, though some of your gear will be the best for two or more of these purposes.