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File:Dungeonkeeper 9452.png


 It's Good To Be Bad

Old and truly excellent pair of management games by Bullfrog Entertainment which put the player in the role of a fantasy Evil Overlord responsible for constructing a dungeon, recruiting an army of monsters and seeing off RPG style hero invasions.

Dungeon Keeper put RTS in a surprisingly small-scale setting -- the player runs a dungeon full of monsters, treasure and other goodies, and must defend it from incoming heroic adventurers. It was also one of the first games to include a "first person" mode, in which the Keeper could "possess" one of his creatures.

A third installment was planned but never produced. The series has quite a few Spiritual Successors in Evil Genius, Overlord, Startopia, Dungeons, and (arguably) Dwarf Fortress and Badman. There is also a board game called Dungeon Lords that is a non-video game Spiritual Successor.

There is also an MMORPG being produced, to be released exclusively in China, Tawain, Hong Kong, and Macau. Western fans of the original games have responded to the news with a quick cycle through elation, confusion, anger, despair, and finally apathy. At this point very little is known about Dungeon Keeper Online, with the only thing being seen of it is some concept art and a video showing what's apparently some gameplay.

Both games in the series have been made available for purchase at GOG.com.


Tropes used:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Grenade and Missile spells in the first game fired living projectiles that exploded in a shower of blood. the sequel added a 'Dwarf-chucking' mechanic which allows a bile demon or giant to pick up an imp or dwarf and hurl it at foes.
  • Adorable Evil Minions: Imps.
  • Anti Poop Socking: A whole series of them.

  "Your nocturnal perseverance has unlocked a hidden gaming tip: GO TO BED!"

  • All There in the Manual / Guide Dang It: The Prima guides contain a lot of the establishing fiction and monster characterisation.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The first game has quite a bit of this:
    • Unpatched, the AI as a whole has issues, including every assistant AI (with the potential exception of the "Move-Only" AI, which does a good job of keeping creatures where they are most productive).
    • The first non-tutorial level, Snuggledell, is the peak of this, as a Game FAQs walkthrough and a playthrough video both note that the AI has a particular tendency to not build any sort of army. Indeed, by the time you reach the enemy keeper, they'll most likely only have an imp and a fly. That's right, the enemy keeper expects to win with a level 1 fly and a level 1 imp.
    • The first game's method of trap and door production is horrendous and unpredictable. The sequel massively remedies this, along with other complaints.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Horned Reapers (In DK1). Incredibly fast, monstrously powerful, and capable of reducing all but the mightiest of heroes to shreds, but he's so damn touchy that he's every bit as likely to turn on you, kill your other minions and start trashin' your dungeon if you do anything, anything to annoy him.
    • Dark Angels in DK 2. Again, they're fast and powerful, with an arsenal of deadly and destructive spells at their disposal, but they only appear when you build a 5 by 5 temple, which is incredibly expensive, and what's more it only summons two of 'em. You need to build more incredibly expensive temples to get any more. Also, the temple's large water pool has a tendency to trap imps and other creatures which regularly traffic through the area. It seems they are 'pushed in' when there are too many people around, but I can't really explain it - it just happens.
  • Badass Bookworm: Wizards and Warlocks are ineffectual and squishy at Level 1. They are amazingly powerful ranged support units once they reach the later levels.
  • Bag of Spilling: You lose all of your spells, room plans and your entire army between levels - except if you get a special bonus item which allows you to carry over a single creature (in the first game only!). If you didn't lose everything though, things would probably be a bit too easy.
    • Leads to a Game Breaker: In the original, 16 of the 20 levels has an item that lets you carry a creature over to the next level. In the first level where you unlock the torture chamber, you can torture the lord of the land (the boss unit of every level) to make him switch to your side. Which means you can start almost every subsequent level with a maxed out boss unit as your Dragon. Unlike Horny, the lord of the land is much less fickle, and almost as strong.
  • Baleful Polymorph: The method of torturing enemy wizards involves the torturer stealing the wizard's staff and rapidly turning them into a frog and back over and over.
    • The game's ending cutscene features the Avatar shackled to a wall while trolls party it up and loot the castle. One of them finds a magic staff and tests it out on the captured foe, turning the Avatar into a comely female troll wearing nothing but lipstick and a pearl necklace. While the former god of all that's good tries to cover her new bust, the trolls laugh and make gestures to indicate that she's in for a rough night. "Baleful" indeed...
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Keep people in the torture chamber long enough and they will work for you. This includes The Avatar in the first game.
    • It's a great way to build up your army if creature supplies are otherwise limited, or you've exceeded the maximum number of creatures you can bring out of your portals. Plus you get the satisfaction of seeing the heroes get hacked down by the last party they sent down...
  • Berserk Button: The Horned Reaper in the second game hates chickens... Well, slightly more than he hates everything else, at any rate.
  • The Berserker: Horned Reapers in the first game, Mistresses in both games.
  • Big Bad: YOU. Yes, YOU.
  • Big Good: The Avatar.
    • King Reginald in the second game.
  • Black Comedy: Tons and tons of it, especially in the second game.
  • Black Knight: A simple but powerful troop. But he's more of a...
  • Blood Knight: Because they love nothing more than beating the everloving shit out of anything that gets in their way.
  • Bonus Stage: Both the first game and the sequel have about five each, give or take. They usually have non-standard challenge themes, such as only using a horde of Level 10 imps to beat the level, or having to carefully guide boulders to a target using slaps to keep them from rolling into lava.
    • If you beat the Lord of the Lands in DK 1, and imprisoned him, keep him around (that is, alive and unconverted to the good cause). When you finish the level, you'll get another kind of bonus stage entirely, Keeper...
  • Booby Trap: Poison Gas, Spikes, Electricity, Giant Rolling Boulders of Doom, and more.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The player, and all his little evil minions.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Wooden bridges cannot be built over lava, but stone bridges are just fine.
    • In the second game, you can build wooden bridges over lava... they just won't last five minutes.
  • Crapsack World: Your job is to turn the disgustingly peaceful and idyllic world into this.
    • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: When the Dungeon Keeper has had his way with the territory, the names tell you straight out that they're places for any decent person to avoid. Not that there will be very many decent people left alive after all's said and done...
  • Dem Bones: Skeletons.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Keeping the camera over Mistresses "working" in your torture chamber for too long will result in the Mentor warning you that "You'll go blind, you know."
  • Dominatrix: The Dark Mistresses are an entire species of this.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The more elaborate you make it, the better.
  • Electric Torture: One of several ways of torturing captured heroes.
  • Endless Game: My Pet Dungeon mode, which essentially gives you a patch of land to build your dungeon on, a couple of imps, a hero dispenser where you can dole out enemy attacks as you please, and then leaves you to your own devices. Each area has a preset goal which, when met, unlocks a new area to build another dungeon on, but the player can still stay and take care of his old dungeon at his leisure.
  • Everything's Better with Chickens: You hatch these to keep your monsters fed, and can transform enemies into chickens with a spell.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The Mentor, when briefing you about the land above in the first game, seems both revolted and amazed at the peaceful, happy, non-violent lives the peasants are able to lead.
  • Evil Counterpart: In both games many of your minions are this to the heroes, eg Wizards and Warlocks, Knights and Black Knights, Elves and Dark Elves, Thieves and Rogues, etc.
    • These minion types and their counterparts do not get along. Ever.
  • Evil Minions
  • Evil Overlord
  • Evil Versus Evil: Now and then you'll also have to take on other Keepers in their own dungeons.
  • Expy: The final boss of the first game is The Avatar. Well, not that Avatar or those Avatars.
  • Face Heel Turn: You can torture heroes into joining your cause.
  • Fartillery: A Bile Demon's main form of attack.
  • Fastball Special: Giants and bile demons have a 'dwarf-chucking' ability in the second game.
  • Glass Cannon: Wizards, Warlocks, and Mistresses.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper- How can you piss off the Horned Reaper?, let's count the ways...
    • Not paying him on time.
    • Forcing him to mix with your converted knights.
    • Forcing him to mix with your other converted heroes.
    • Forcing him to mix with any of your other minions - even other Reapers... Especially other Reapers, actually.
    • Slapping him.
    • Picking him up.
    • Holding him in the Hand of Evil.
    • Dropping him.
    • Make him go hungry.
    • Force him to waste his valuable time looking for something to eat.
    • Trying to make him toil in the workshop.
    • Trying to make him research.
    • Trying to make him train.
    • Leaving him with nothing to do.
    • In short, doing *anything* except fighting, praying, and sleeping makes the Horned Reaper angry. On the other side, give him something hostile to fight and he'll instantly leap to maximum mood.
  • Holiday Mode: Actually a full moon mode.
  • Improbable Weapon User - In the first game, monks beat people to death with their rosaries. In the second this is changed to All Monks Know Kung Fu.
  • Indy Escape
  • Instant Win Condition - Killing a keeper means killing off their dungeon heart; it doesn't matter how awesome his dungeon or how numerous or deadly his creatures is as long as it falls.
  • The Juggernaut: The Horned Reaper, in the second game.
  • Killer Game Master: The player is pretty much obliged to act this way towards adventurers.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: The Knight, naturally. Subverted with the Black Knight, whose armour is rather dull, and fights for you.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Skeletons in the second game are completely without fear. This means that a level one skeleton won't retreat when faced with say, a gang of level ten Knights.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Horned Reapers, at least in the first game.
    • High-level Orcs fill this role as well.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Traps are a key part of any good dungeon.
  • Meaningful Name: Lord Avaricious, who, in the sequel, must be tempted out of his fortress by accumulating a suitably large stockpile of Filthy Lucre.
  • Mighty Glacier: Bile Demons, plain and simple. As well as dragons in the first game.
  • Mooks: A bit of a subversion, as your minions aren't that expendable, and once they get trained up it's a good idea to keep them alive.
    • Imps are pretty expendable though, especially in the sequel, since they only cost mana and level up simply from performing their usual tasks like digging, rather than having to take up training room space and money.
  • No Fourth Wall: "Keeper, there is something nasty under your fingernail."
    • (After playing through until Stupid O'Clock in the morning) "Your nocturnal perseverence has unlocked a hidden gaming tip... GO TO BED!"
    • Your minions demand cable.
    • Your dungeon floor is lumpy. Order your minions to jump up and down!
    • Your lair has been recarpeted.
    • Your dungeon is on an incline - angry creatures cannot play marbles!
    • Micro Piglets stalk your Dungeon. Beware...
    • Your dungeon is damp. Install central heating.
  • Opposites Attract: A word of warning: they don't. Mixing Black Knights and Knights is a recipe for disaster. Wizards hate Warlocks, Rogues hate Thieves, Mistresses hate Fairies, Elves hate Dark Elves... the feelings are mutual. Wizards get along just fine with Black Knights though, and Fairies have no problems with, say, Dragons.
    • The aggression isn't merely limited to evil minions vs good minions. There's plenty of inter-evil rivalry amongst your minions; Spiders hate Flies in the first game, and Bile Demons hate Skeletons. Inter-evil rivalry is not as pronounced in the sequel, but it's still there.
      • One of the best examples to consider of this in the game has to be the Warlocks versus Vampires, who REALLY hate each others guts in the first game. This one in itself is particularily annoying because these two creature types are your prime researchers in the game, so naturally, you will want them to work together in order to research the spells faster. Now, to emphazise the point, the fights between rival minions are often lethal, so each fight between a warlock and a vampire will most likely result in one less researcher for your cause unless you intervene. Thankfully, they never seem to fight while actually in the library researching, so any potential fights between them can be averted by putting your vampires in a lair separate from the warlocks.
  • Our Monsters Are Different:
  • Psycho for Hire: The Horned Reaper.
    • Literally for hire - the best way to keep him happy is to throw gold at him every so often. If he gets even slightly upset, he's liable to start breaking things. Namely your dungeon and minions.
  • The Remnant: In the sequel the Sylvan Elves formerly under the command of Lord Ronin continue to fight against Keeper Asmodeous. Interestingly, and very unusually for this trope, if left to their own devices they'll actually win. Granted it won't ressurect their commander, but they'll get their territory back. Of course, the mission objective is to kill Asmodeous yourself in order to prevent this, with the assumption being that the player has destroyed the remaining Elves in the process. Later, the remainder of Lord Bramble's forces don't give up either, but they're more interested in surviving in what remains of his fortress than actually aggressing against the two Keepers in the area.
  • Set Swords to Stun: How you capture enemy creatures and heroes -- in the first one, you have to explicitly tell your minions to stun rather than kill, while in the second it's automatically set this way for you.
  • Shout-Out: The second is riddled with them in the form of bonus voice clips from your Mentor. The Wizard Needs Food.
    • Monks are the only unit able to kill a vampire at level 10 permanently, and they use whips. Sound familiar?
  • Sinister Scythe: The Horned Reaper oddly enough wields one of these
  • Spiritual Successor: Dungeons by Kalypso[1], to a certain extent. While thematically similar to Dungeon Keeper, the gameplay itself is more of a cross between the Theme Park series and Tower Defence games.
    • Most people don't think of Dungeon Keeper 2 as a precursor to Minecraft, but you could possess an Imp and dig out 3D pixellated blocks with your pick. Sure it was only on a 2D plane with no up or down, but there were minerals to find and enemies!
  • Squishy Wizard: Warlocks in both games, as well as heroic Wizards.
  • Summon Magic: How you "recruit" Horny in the second game, after collecting all 4 pieces of the Talisman.
  • Themed Cursor: Your pointer is pretty much your own ungodly hand, which you can use to pick up and drop stuff, throw things, pet, slap. Infact, it can possess said creatures and become their minds. The Dungeon Keeper series example would be one of the most extreme examples of this trope.
  • Timed Mission
  • Too Kinky to Torture: The Dark Mistress. They like it. A lot. You have to throw them out (or lock them out) if you want to use the torture chamber on your enemies. Even then they'll probably sneak in and use it again when you're not looking, or they'll show up and "help" with the torturing. Interestingly, when you're converting enemy Mistresses in the torture chamber they still don't lose health. The implication is that they join you because you're so nice to them, based on that!
    • Dark Mistresses also like it when you slap them with the mouse cursor/hand.
    • A patch for Dungeon Keeper 2, made them less obsessed with the torture chamber.
  • Torture Always Works: Torturing heroes is a surefire way to boost your numbers!
  • The Undead: Captured enemies who starve to death in your dungeon become skeletons and corpses taken to the graveyard eventually combine to form vampires. Not to mention the Ghosts that result from someone dying in torture chambers (first game only)
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Ooh, I know! Let's capture all of the good guys, starve them to near-death in the prison, make them fight over a couple of chickens, mass-heal them, throw them in the arena to entertain our minions and boost their morale. But before they die, heal them and drag them back to the prison, maybe make them fight over food again, slap them around a bit, then torture them, whilst healing them repeatedly to stop them from dying... in order to ensure that they convert to our side! Genius!
    • Capturing a Lord of the Land alive and winning the level in the first game makes room for a lot of this. You'll be treated to a bonus scene, displaying quite a number of doors. Behind each and every one, you can listen to the Lord being subjected to inquisition-level tortures. His screams and the various noises made throughout leave painfully little to the imagination.
  • Villain Override: You can assume direct control of a minion through magic. This tends to make them much tougher and stronger in addition to them obeying your commands, due to casting multiple spells and being able to side-step enemy attacks.
    • This is required in one of the bonus levels, as it's the only way to navigate the large enemy maze.
  • Villain Protagonist: The game's selling point is that you're the Big Bad.
  • What the Hell, Player?: "Your dungeon has an excess of Mistresses. There's a name for Keepers like you..."
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: You'll be burning through mana like a skinny kid through cake in #2. Which is nice, because spending gold on spells was a bit rough on one's bank account.
    • In fact, once you gain access to the money conjuring spell in DK 2, you can have as much gold as you want if you're willing to wait for your mana to recharge.

Notes

  1. best known for Tropico 3
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