Announcements - 1999/12 - Sudden Season

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December 1999 - Patch Page



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Sudden Season

November 24, 1999

Atop a hill overlooking Zaikhal, Asaina al-Arqis placed a crystal apparatus on the ground, aligning it to the setting sun. The light caught within its facets, held, and the delicate mechanism began to gently spin. She frowned and tapped the base of the device. Over the past three days, the portents had been clear. Portal runners from Hebian-To and Cragstone confirmed it: the temperature was slowly, steadily falling, and showed no signs of stopping ...

The first major event in the world of Asheron's Call will take place in early December. Players marvelled at the widespread changes in the world during the "Fire in the Sky" event at the end of beta -- meteors ravaged the continent, weird new creatures appeared, and a fragmented prophesy puzzled thousands. Though not as apocalyptic in nature, this event will continue our commitment to having a major event every month, advancing and developing the story of Dereth, and giving players new challenges. Some of these developments follow a plotline covering many months. Great things are yet to come! We look forward to experiencing them with you.

December 10, 1999

Atop the dune, under the feeble sunset light, Asaina al-Arqis hugged her thick cloak around her, blew into her hands, and bent and replaced the gem at the apex of her sensing apparatus. Sunlight glinted from the facets, sank within, then struck a violent spark at the center. With a crack the light winked out, the supporting wires loosed their hold, and the suddenly gray stone fell beside the last two she'd tested. She could not calibrate the equipment any finer, but she knew enough. A week, perhaps, probably less, and even the desert would freeze. It was time to give a final report to the Council.

Expect impressive developments by the end of next week, including a world-spanning quest and a range of holiday festivals. To get some idea of the scope of a major Asheron's Call event, we invite you to check out coverage of the "Fire in the Sky " from the end of beta. Next week will be just the first of the large-scale events we'll roll out every month. We look forward to sharing all the excitement with you in this next great adventure!

December 15, 1999

Murmurs and coughs faded from the Council chamber as the four-foot column of enchanted ice drained candlelight from the room. "Here is yet another image," said Asaina al-Arqis to the assembly. "This is what the shard foresees for Qalaba'r." The stolen light resolved into a view of the familiar desert town, but it could hardly be recognized: snow was in the air and lay thick on the ground. "It is time to prepare. Mark me -- tomorrow, the view outside your own windows will be very much the same."

Rollout Article

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"Sudden Season" Has Arrived!

December 16, 1999

Sudden Season - snowman.jpg

The forecasts have proven true! Yesterday, like all the days before, the snow gleamed only on Dereth's far-off peaks, stark, clean, and unattainable, a symbol of impossible quests. But this morning, Derethians from Holtburg to the sub-tropical reaches of the southernmost Sho and Gharu'ndim lands awoke to find snow falling outside their windows. During the intermittent breaks, the sun beat feebly in the frosty sky. The first adventurers to explore this strange wonderland were startled by crude snowmen that materialized in a swirl of ice -- only to cast beneficial enchantments on them. Taking these kindly creatures as a good omen, citizens declared a holiday vigil for the sun to regain its strength, and have put aside their usual activities to invent food recipes and create festive robes, candles, and paper lanterns.

However, many sages are studying the situation under grave doubt, fearing some baleful magic is at work. In every town, criers announce that the team of Sir Joffre Tremblant, who sought a fabled mountain city, is overdue to return. Scouts ranging far afield have brought back reports of new snowmen of nasty disposition and even a few of gigantic size. Meanwhile, the world grows colder still . . .

Other News
Balancing out their disturbing news, town criers have been happily announcing the start of traditional holidays for each heritage group (the Aluvian Solstice, the Gharu'ndim Night Feast, and the Sho Festival of Lights -- details can be gleaned from Asheron's Lore). They also declared a cooking contest!

Congratulations to each of our winners, who will have personal information added to the new in-game Specialty Cookbook for the recipe he or she discovered.

  • Famous Pizza (Completed! Winner: Dani the Crazed)
  • Fruitcake (Completed! Winner: Bortin)
  • Spiced Apple Pie (Completed! Winner: Firedemon)
  • Hot Kimchi (Completed! Winner: Team of Raszagal and Tassadar)
  • Carrot Cake (Completed! Winner: Kakori)

We encourage everyone to seek news of the hapless Sir Joffre, try the *snow angel* maneuver, experiment with the new winter fashion wear, and follow up rumors of a new "hoary" mattekar in the northern mountains. We'll be seeing you in Dereth!

Release Notes

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Asheron's Call Build Notes, December 16

Here are all the tiny little details of the game update that was made on the morning of December 16, 1999. This list is culled from "check-in" notes submitted by the game developers themselves.

For a shorter description of the most significant changes in this update, please refer to the latest "Spin from Turbine" article on the AC News page on the Zone Web site.

There have been many changes made for the December event "Sudden Season." Details are not in these build notes, because that would spoil the fun of finding all that has been added! One bit of advice: it's likely that much more has been added than you think at first glance. There's a lot more than just some snow on the ground!

Notes for Build 2233-2245:

  • The portal from Mayoi to South Direlands has been removed.
  • Damage reports on creatures that are resistant to basic damage types (slash, bludgeon, etc) are now accurate. They used to report full damage, even if they were not doing full damage.
  • AIs don't try to get as close to you before making a melee attack. Also, if they fail to reach their target, and their target has attacked them, they sometimes execute an attack anyway (just for fun).
  • Fixed an amazing one-line bug that caused all self-targeted AI-cast spells to fail!
  • AIs no longer consider their target resisting their spell a failure! I think this'll make spell-casting AIs much tougher, as they won't stop casting spells just because you resisted a handful of times (obviously they will stop whenever they run out of mana).
  • Adjusted the algorithm that AIs use to judge whether or not a missile attack was effective (i.e., close enough to its intended target). It's a little random now and, on average, less pessimistic. AIs should continue to fire a couple more times before giving up.
  • AIs now use the same "effective missile" evaluation algorithm for projectile spells as they did for missile weapons. Previously, if a fireball landed a little off-target, the AI would consider it a failure -- not anymore!
  • AIs have finer-grained magic error counting. They segregate projectile spells from other magic. So if they fail to cast a projectile spell at you because you're hiding behind a door, they'll try any direct damage or enchantments they have instead of just stopping spell-casting altogether.
  • When randomly choosing a target, AIs now are more likely to choose targets that are closer to them! This should help quite a bit for making AIs who haven't been attacked or damaged yet (i.e., locked onto their target) behave more intelligently.
  • AIs have a chance of sticking with their current target (per attack) even if they've been attacked or damaged by someone else. Should create fewer waffling creatures.
  • Fixes made to a number of conditions that would cause inventory to go weird -- invisible objects and such.
  • Forgot to update the value of the Sword of Lost Light. Now worth much more.
  • Fixed spots where players were getting stuck in Holtburg Dungeon.
  • Newbie Yari does piercing damage.
  • Players getting stuck in E. Lytlethorpe building -- fixed.
  • Players getting stuck in Mountain Keep dungeon -- fixed.
  • Players getting stuck in the Fort Witshire dungeon -- fixed
  • Fixed Mei Dungeon directions.
  • Water Temple quest & dungeon updated -- limiting access to the water bottle there.
  • Deleted an item generator in the Lugian Tower near Qalaba'r -- objects were being placed on a couch and looking bad.
  • Scroll of Acid Bane 6 fixed -- was teaching Acid Bane 5.
  • Vendors & Trade notes -- all vendors who sell large-denomination trade notes should also accept them now.
  • Cliff near Armoredillo Lair allowed easy kills -- exploit fixed and tested.
  • Grocers now accept base and intermediate food/tools used in cooking.
  • Old Drudge Grotto too close to North Yanshi -- changed.
  • Checked in the update to Leadership spells -- violet, not yellow, spell effect occurs when casting.
  • What vendors sell has been changed, and can change at any time (details withheld).
  • Once an empty corpse is closed, it rots immediately. This is to alleviate lag caused by lots of useless corpses hanging around.
  • Deleted a shield generator which was generating stuff on top of a roof.
  • Raised magic defense of Magma Golem.
  • Narrow ravine near Armoredillo lair fixed -- exploit.
  • Holtburg quest updated so newbies can find the locations easier.
  • Set resistable flags in on the Imperil Other spells (whoops).
  • Magma Golems have level-5 harm spells and other nastiness.
  • Mosswart Muckers removed from the Folthid Cellar -- exploit.
  • Skeletons are now level 7 -- not tougher, just higher level.
  • Some portals are not summonable via magic spells
  • PortalColonial wrong color. Portal is now blue.
  • PortalRanch wrong color. Portal is now blue.
  • Leadership spells now have orange particles.
  • Fixed a small typo in the book "Lashanda's Hand."
  • Fixed a ridge Lugians were getting stuck on.
  • Lou Ka's Yaoji now does 2-5 damage.
  • Collector in Nanto accepts tan rat tails.
  • Added the *snowangel* emote/substate.
  • The bowyer is now appearing at Neydisa Castle.
  • Fixed power of Rejuvenation Self 6. Was 10, now 250.
  • Most throwing weapons were failing in combat because they weren't properly calculating how fast they could be thrown through the air.
  • Fixed a tiny typo in the Story of Ken-Gou.
  • Collectors give 50 pyreals for a rat tail, not 75. Two of the collectors were giving the wrong amount.
  • Healing Mastery spells have orange effects.
  • Drudges near house being camped -- exploit fixed.
  • In Character Options panel, changed text "Vivid targeting indicator" to "Vivid Targeting Indicator"
  • Magic item difficulty ratings weren't correctly compensating skill limits. Now behaving to spec. New items should not be as difficult to use.
  • Shreth is a thinner beast, which should fix any exploit locations somewhat.
  • Virindi Fort Dungeon -- camping location fixed.
  • Fixes a problem with the appraisal panel where it would display garbage when assessing a creature.
  • Fixes a problem that would sometimes result in the Create Spell panel's spell component list not displaying all of your components, or not being scrollable when it should be.
  • Button added which allows you to turn off rain and some other weather effects. Useful if these effects slow your frame rate.
  • Paintings moved in Desert Mine.
  • Bandit Castle dungeon note on alchemy fixed.
  • Projectiles will no longer collide with ethereal non-creatures. This will prevent them from hitting hotspots and portals.
  • Generators no longer shut down before their time.

Letter to the Players

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The Spin from Turbine

December 16, 1999

Highlights of the Update on December 16, 1999

On December 16, Asheron's Call had its second major update. In addition to heralding our first event and the beginning of our ongoing storyline, this update includes a number of changes that affect game balance. None of these will affect any one profession to the degree of our previous alterations to magic.

Listed here are those items that we think are of most interest to players. If you want to read about every single tiny change we've made, look in the News section of the Zone AC Web pages on the Zone for an article titled "Build Notes, December 16."

Event Changes:

Half the fun of the "Sudden Season" event is discovering for yourself what has been added or changed, so no details are listed here. There's much more than just some snow on the ground! Ask around, read the news, and explore.

Monster AI Changes:

We've made a number of changes to how monster AI works, in the interests of making them behave a bit more intelligently. While there are limits to what we can do to improve AI in the short term, we will be watching the results of these changes carefully, to see how they fare.

  • Monsters will react more sensibly to occasional "issued attacks," and will not break off their attacks as quickly.
  • Monsters who fail to hit you with projectile attacks will continue attacking with non-projectile "harm" spells, if they have them.
  • Monsters will tend to "stick" to their targets more consistently, and "waffle" less frequently between targets.
  • Monsters now are less fixated on getting extra-close to their target before making a melee attack.
  • Monsters were failing to cast spells on themselves, due to a bug. Argh! Monsters are less dumb now. (Our own mental faculties, on the other hand, remain unchanged.)

Monster Balance:

  • Banderlings and Black Drudges now cast more slowly.
  • Golems in general had Magic Defense that was too low for their level -- making them easy sources of XP. This has been changed.
  • Skeletons have higher levels, to reflect their challenge. (We'll probably do the same soon for Mountain Rats, but they kill us every time we mention the idea . . .)
  • Lugians can now throw boulders faster and farther than before. Duck!
  • There were small glitches in the data for some types of Gromnies, Drudges, Armoredillos, Golems, Olthoi, Mu-miyah and Virindi, which gave each of them inordinately low or high protection against a specific damage type. These have been fixed.
  • Magma Golems have been learning from the mages that attack them . . .

Vendor Changes:

  • Vendors can now buy back all expensive trade notes that they sell; this was a glitch.
  • Aqua Incanta and Neutral Balm are now available with many more vendors.
  • A number of bowyers should have sold fletching items, but didn't. They do now.
  • You can now sell cooking items to grocers. Stop abandoning all those sides of beef, kids!
  • Vendors (particularly Kuro of Kara) were buying some inappropriate items. This has been fixed.

Magic Balance:

  • Imperil Other can now be defended using the Magic Defense skill. This was a glitch.
  • Players were using portal magic to provide "short-cuts" through quests. Now, critical portals within quests are set so that they cannot be "tied" using portal spells. This does not affect any other portals.
  • The Scroll for Acid Bane 6 no longer teaches Acid Bane 5.

Miscellaneous Changes:

  • In some rare cases, the client could freeze or crash when you were wielding items or otherwise manipulating your inventory. This should be fixed now.
  • Corpses now decay much more quickly when they are empty. This minimizes clutter on the landscape, which in extreme cases can cause slowdowns.
  • A glitch in the treasure system was found which caused nearly all treasure to have overly high requirements; in all future treasure, you should find that most treasure items have lower requirements for use than in the past. This change is slight for average treasure, but more significant for powerful treasure.
  • An additional character option lets you turn off most weather effects, to speed up your frame rate.
  • A handful of tweaks were made to rumors, quests, portals, object placement, and graphics.
  • Some chests or other places in the game would stop respawning their items under certain conditions. At least one of those conditions is now caught, and the spawn will now fail less often, if at all.
  • There was a bug in throwing weapons code that made them less likely to hit their targets. This is now fixed, so you may want to give thrown weapons another chance.
  • When you attacked monsters that were resistant to a basic type of damage (bludgeoning, slashing, etc), the chat log reported full damage, even though you were doing reduced damage. This is fixed. You are not doing any less damage due to this update; it is just reporting the damage accurately.

--Chris Foster, a.k.a. "Slapp"


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Recap of the "Sudden Season"

January 5, 2000

For several weeks an unnatural winter gripped the world of Asheron's Call. In the first of our monthly world-impacting events, all players couldn't help but notice the ice and snow, the enchanted snowmen, and the holiday robes, but only a few of the most powerful and adventurous experienced the full scope of the designers' work, which also involved fantastic new castles, a large ice-cave network, a vast underground city, and recipes for foods with useful new properties. Here are some screenshots from the event (click each thumbnail to view the larger picture):

2000-01-05 Recap Gelid.jpg The undead Gelidites guard the byways to their hidden city.

2000-01-05 Recap Froregate.jpg Rime falls like snow upon the gates of Frore, sanctum of the frozen undead.

2000-01-05 Recap meanfrosty.jpg Born of dark sorcery, an innocent-looking snowman magically girds himself for battle.

2000-01-05 Recap Shoushiwinter.jpg Unnatural snowfall, giant moons, and magic portal transform Shoushi into a dream of meditative wonder.

2000-01-05 Recap Rithwicbridge.jpg The glow of holiday candles invites travelers to cross the bridge into Rithwic on a midwinter's eve.

2000-01-05 Recap Robesthumb.jpg Clad in warm and festive robes, one town crier in Holtburg relieves another from his shift.

Quest for Frore Story Contest
From the Bandit Fortress of MacDugal to Lady Tallial's Neydisa Castle and the desert town of Zaikhal, many brave adventuring parties followed rumors of the hidden city of Frore. Deep beneath the earth they arrived at their goal and also at a confrontation with the ghastly Gelidites, necromancers who had converted the poor Sir Joffre Tremblant to their undead state. Battling to the very heart of Frore, the heroes faced a huge, sentient gemstone that blasted all who tried to approach. The artifact claimed many lives, but ultimately lay in fragments, bleeding out the heat it had stolen from the core of the world.

The heroes returned to well-deserved accolades to enjoy the seasonal festivities underway before their departure, confident that Dereth would soon become warm and verdant once more. However, all was not settled. On the corpses of a Gelidite Lord and Sir Joffre were found old books that hinted the defeated artifact had contained some dark new terror.

Congratulations to Abrim of Morningthaw, who won our story contest with the following account of his adventure to Frore:

I knew the end was near. For good or bad, I had come to the end of my journey. I grieved the loss of my friend Kyoujin, his body broken by the denizens of this cold, dark place. I knew he would be all right, the magic of the lifestone had captured his spirit, protecting him against true death, but it was small consolation to me as I stood there over his body, wondering how I could go on alone. This was my not my first attempt to unravel the mysteries of this Lost City of Frore. During the last, I had come alone, and had been thwarted by the locks of the City. The Gelidites took great pains in preserving their privacy, in designing and constructing this place. I wandered, cold and lost, for a long time before finally using my magic to escape the darkness, planning to return again.

Return I did, this time accompanied by Kyoujin, an aspiring mage who also had some skill with locks. Together, we sought to bring an end to the bitter winter that blankets Dereth, not fully understanding the danger of this place, and the power of the forces within. Together we fought against the undying guardians, and won our way into the City. Deeper and deeper we ran, finally coming face-to-face with Tremblant himself, now transformed into a hideous monster, his dead body reanimated by some evil magic. Kyoujin was no match for him; Tremblant had broken him, and had almost destroyed me as well, before I finally managed to bring him down.

Now, as I stood before this doorway, the blistering heat from within was almost welcome in this otherwise frigid place. I feared in my heart that I might suffer the same fate as Tremblant, doomed forever to guard this dark place. I relived in my mind the long journey that had brought me here: the quest for Tremblant's party, seeking out the pieces of the mystic rune transcription, the warnings of the translators, the long run to the Plateau. A sound from within roused me from my thoughts. The Great Work, perhaps sensing my presence, had begun to stir. The time had come for me to face this final challenge. As I opened the door, the heat from within washing over me in waves, I sent a silent prayer to the Poet, that my death might have meaning.


We'd also like to make an honorable mention of the runner-up story submitted by Foucault and Ali Zaboo. Thanks to everyone who participated in this event!

One of the designers from Turbine Entertainment had this to say about the story contest:

Hey, folks,

On behalf of all of us, I'm popping in to say thanks to everyone who participated in the writing contest. Congratulations go out, of course, to Abrim, who has officially become the first player whose fiction can be bought from a scribe. We enjoyed reading the entries, and we hope to run another one as part of an event in the future. Expect a higher word count next time. ;)

On a personal level, as the guy who earned a nervous tic from designing and re-designing the Frore quest, I'd also like to thank everyone who slugged their way through the drafty halls of the Lost City in search

If you're interested in seeing how this all started, please visit the original Sudden Season announcement article.
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