AVWW - Everything You Wanted To Know About Missions, But Were Afraid To Ask
Types Of Missions
Missions come in three primary flavors:
World Map Missions
These missions are seen clearly on the world map, with the text "mission" under them. You can read about what a specific mission requires you to do, and what the rewards from it are, by looking at the details window of the region itself and hovering over the mission icons.
World map missions expire every so often, and are replaced by new missions. So if you don't like a particular mission (either in terms of what it is offering as a reward, or what you have to do to earn the reward), then you can just ignore the mission and after two weeks of gametime it will expire and be replaced by something potentially better.
At first there are only two missions available on a continent at any given time, but as you complete more missions you'll eventually have seven missions at a time.
Only world map missions grant Civilization Progress (CP) or Tier Orbs.
Secret missions can be found through exploration, and they tend to come with a lesser reward than world map missions. On the other hand, they don't increase Civilization Progress (CP) at all, so you can complete a ton of secret missions without worrying about the tier of the continent getting too high before you are ready.
Secret missions are also a great way to find NPCs to rescue (which you won't find on the world map), and are a way to find special/unusual challenges (like the lava escape missions).
Guardian Power Missions
Some missions can only be found by using a guardian power first. For example, the missions that let you erect a wind shelter can only be created via guardian power.
Missions give a variety of rewards, depending on their type:
The only way to ever find an arcane ingredient is by completing a mission. Arcane ingredients are required for learning most spells of any substance, so obviously this is very important. World map missions tend to give 5 arcane ingredients for completing a mission, whereas secret missions only give you 2 ingredients.
Guardian Power Scrolls
Missions only ever give arcane ingredients OR guardian power scrolls -- never both at once. Guardian Power scrolls let your NPCs use their magical professions to help you in various ways. This, of course, requires that you have NPCs with the related profession and enough skill in that profession to use the scroll in question.
Tier orbs are required to learn any spell higher than tier 1. So to learn a tier 2 spell, you need a tier 2 orb -- simple, right? You only get these from world map missions, and you always get exactly 3 of them per mission. The good news is that tier 1 missions give you tier 2 orbs, and tier 2 missions give you tier 3 orbs, etc. So you wind up being able to have higher-tier spells before you reach higher-tier monsters, which is important for your ability to survive.
Civilization Progress (CP)
Every world map mission gives you 40 CP, and the tier of the continent goes up every 200 CP -- making all the monsters and your allies stronger. But, sadly, the continent tier does not make you any stronger. You'll have to improve yourself via getting better spells, better enchants, and using upgrade stones on yourself.
This means that, typically, you'll want to do a lot of side exploration and some secret missions between each world map mission that you complete. Since there are exactly 5 main missions that you can do before the continent tier goes up, this means that you'll be getting exactly 15 tier orbs of each tier. That means you have to choose which spells you want to specialize in, since there are far more than 15 spells to choose from.
Note that CP is per-continent, just like the learned spells and resource stockpiles in general, so you can make different choices on each continent you play through. And once you reach tier 5, you can use diluter enchants to get more lower-tier orbs and thus unlock more than 15 spells if you find that 15 spells just isn't enough for your purposes.
Special Mission-Specific Rewards
Some specific mission types, usually either secret missions or those spawned by guardian powers, have a special reward instead of the usual mix of rewards noted above. Most of the time when there is a special reward, there is also a special mission activity that you must complete in order to get that reward.
There are special "rescue survivor" type of missions that you can find underground and in buildings, and which you can create via guardian power scrolls. These missions involve your running into a building or a cave, meeting the NPC in question, and leading them to safety while monsters try to kill you both. If you succeed, the NPC will join your settlement. Fail, and they are dead forever.
Using guardian power scrolls, you can create "Erect Wind Shelter" missions that are challenging overland excursions past buffed monsters and bosses to put up a new wind shelter building. Wind shelters magically push the windstorms back, giving you freer passage in more regions on the world map.
Except in the case of the specialized mission-specific rewards (putting up wind shelters, rescuing NPCs, that sort of thing) the type of reward you get for a mission is mostly unconnected to the activity that you are asked to perform. That gives you some latitude in the types of activities you can perform, and you can focus on what you enjoy more and avoid those you like less.
Example Mission Activities
There are quite a variety of types of mission activities, and that list is continually growing, but here are a few varied examples:
Basically a mosh pit in a giant cave or interior room, with 3x the normal number of minibosses all concentrated at once. You're tasked with killing them all without dying yourself.
Your allies' base is to the left of the battlefield, and the enemy's base is to the right. Enemies spawn from their base, and there are a series of enemy towers covering the middle of the field that must be destroyed before you can even damage their base. However, you are not alone in this fight: minions of your own spawn from your base, and come along to help you turn the tide and push across the battlefield to ultimately destroy the enemy base.
A collection of micro-bosses (basically elite regular enemies) has been caught in a swirling vortex of evil inside a cavern. Inside this cavern, you have the ability to jump infinite times, which gives you an edge... at first. The more times you play this kind of mission, the more it changes (via unlockables). You'll wind up fighting more microbosses at once, and they also gain the infinite-jump ability, and it gets pretty crazy.
Inside a building or in a cave, you've got to run like heck for the switch at the top... without your usual minimap. Lava is rushing up through the floor from below, and if you get caught in it you're pretty much dead. You can see how close the lava is getting to you via a little counter near your feet, but don't let that lull you -- there are many dead-ends, and so you need either a Greater Teleport spell or quite a lead on the lava in order to survive inevitably going down a few dead ends.
This is a mission specifically for hardcore platforming enthusiasts, and anyone who doesn't fit that description is mostly advised to stay away from this one. It's an entirely optional form of mission, and only shows up as a secret mission. By the by, since it's so hot in these areas and you have to wear a heatsuit, your normal jump-improving enchants won't work in this mission, and you can't just turn into a bat and fly upwards, etc. You have to actually be good at platforming to make it, in areas like this!
All the smaller monsters are really buffed up and deadly, but are unusually blind as well. Avoid them as much as you can while you search either a building or a cavern for a hidden miniboss. This miniboss has extra low health, fortunately, so you can finish him quickly if you can avoid having the guards kill you. Quite a different flow from normal combat!
Journey To Perfection
During this mission, any damage any entity takes is instantly fatal. So you can one-shot enemies of any size -- hooray! But they can do the same to you, and if you take the slightest bit of falling damage, or so much as graze some acid water... it's all over. Where lava escape is for the platforming enthusiasts, this one is for the combat perfectionists.
Fix The Anachronisms
You're in a building or a cavern with a variety of enemies in it. Some come from the time period of the region you are in, and others don't belong. Kill all the enemies that don't belong, and you win. Kill even a single one that is from the proper time period, and suffer defeat!