Announcements - 2004/07 - Treaties in Stone

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Treaties in Stone

posted on 09-Jul-2004

Thunder shook the hall. Niarltah paused mid-stride and looked toward the nearest window. Outside, trees bent toward the ground in honor of the wind that threatened to tear their roots from the ground. Further down the hall, Muldaveus' booming voice drowned out the roar of the wind. The Lugian was still howling about their defeat at the hands of the Isparians.

Niarltah was more concerned with how the Isparians had come to know that they were meeting with the Burun. They had taken several precautions in releasing the information of that meeting and still the Isparians arrived within moments of the treaty's ratification. The Burun had taken the assault in stride, leaving when called upon to retreat; then the ill-tempered Burun, Morgluuk, had taken his leave. Torgluuk remained behind to discuss the further implications of the treaty.

Torgluuk was proving a quick study of the languages of this world. He had learned the common tongue of the humans and was beginning to learn the intricacies of the Lugian language as well. However, the Tumerok language was beyond the Burun's capacity. Too often the Burun's inflection would make the words take on an entirely new meaning. Niarltah had asked Torgluuk to refrain from speaking the Tumerok language, as he had asked Muldaveus two years prior. They had all settled on the common language of the Isparians. Though they despised the creatures, the Isparian language was simpler. Plus, there was no loss of pride when someone mistakenly butchered such a base tongue.

At the moment, Torgluuk was on the other side of the door at the end of the hall, a patient audience to Muldaveus' childish rant. Niarltah glanced back to the storm and shook his head. How long can the tree bend before the storm shatters its spine?

He approached the door and pushed it open.

Muldaveus took great strides before the fire, his shadow dancing along the wall like a giant caricature of himself. Niarltah smiled in spite of the Lugian's ramblings and outbursts. Torgluuk was stoic in a dark corner, preferring to distance himself from the flames. A squat mushroom on the floor before him gave off a soft blue glow. Small trails of spores trailed from the fungus and made their way to the Burun's head. Torgluuk inhaled the spores into a series of holes on the top of his head and the side of his mouth. Niarltah wondered what the fungus did for the Burun. He had tasted the fungal bloom and was not aware of any changes in his own body. Priests and shaman had asked the spirits what the purpose of the spores was and learned nothing.

As he closed the doors behind him, Niarltah looked to Muldaveus and motioned to a stone slab that served as the Lugian's chair. Torgluuk scooped the fungus from the floor and hopped to the table where Niarltah was sitting.

"Where is your brother?" Niarltah asked, looking pointedly at Torgluuk.

"We look for other places where our race is trapped," Torgluuk replied in his croaking voice.

Niarltah nodded as Muldaveus began, "What now? How did they learn of our plans? I want answers and heads!"

Niarltah calmly turned to the Lugian. "We'll have answers when we all start to remain calm." He stared at Muldaveus for a long moment. The Lugian lowered his eyes and gave a resigned grunt. Torgluuk seemed nonplussed by the short disagreement. Niarltah wondered if the alien creature noticed the staredown at all. The Burun gave no indication that the temperament of the discussion had unnerved him.

Niarltah smoothed his bandoleer, leaned forward, and began the nightly conference.

Finn crested a hill and checked his pack. His food was running low and his water supply was nearly gone. The journey had taken him a great deal longer than he had planned.

"Well Finn, you're the one that said no using item magic," he chuckled at his personal joke and took a piece of bread from his pack, placing it on the back of his shield. The air whipped in from the north and the stench of death weighed heavy on the wind. "North of here is no good. That's the valley they keep talking about at the mansion. You're having a hard enough time finding your way through the Direlands, no reason to go looking for death there."

He looked up at the sun and removed his helm. Sweat beaded on his forehead. He wiped his hand across his brow to clear the sweat before it fell into his eye. He turned the helmet over in his hands and placed it on the ground, using it as a makeshift seat. Scooping up his shield, he settled in for a light lunch and took a bite of the dry bread.

"At least it's a nice day, Finny." He said to himself as he munched happily on his food. As he swallowed he felt a tremor, minor at first, then growing in intensity until it knocked him from his helmet to the soft sand beneath. "What on Dereth?"

He clamored to his feet and watched as the sand from a nearby peak tumbled down toward the flatter sand dunes. He could hear a bubbling sound, like water being displaced. He knelt and took his helm up from the ground, turned it over to empty the sand and then slid it onto his head. The ground shook again, less violently this time, and he grabbed his pack and strapped it across his back. A groan sounded about him like stone moving against the earth and then the world became silent save for the sound of rocks and sand sliding down nearby slopes. Taking up his shield he set about finding the source of the tremor and the sound.

"∧ they said I was crazy for making my way around Dereth without the use of portals. Well this wonder is all Finn Skigg's, ladies and gentlemen. All mine, indeed." He began to walk to the south and east where he thought the tremor originated.

He hadn't traveled far when he caught sight of the valley crested between four spires. The interior of the valley was lush, green and verdant. Trees stretched out of the valley and supped at the edge of what appeared to be a fetid pond. But this was not as surprising as what stood in the water.

Stretching from the dull blue-green pond was a building like none he had seen before. It protruded twentyperhaps thirty feet out of the water and bore a resemblance to the Empyrean buildings that were scattered across all of Dereth. He looked at the back of the building and was struck with a great sense of wonder. He took a step toward the valley and found himself looking for purchase on the shifted silt of the landscape. The loose gravel and sand failed to support his weight, and he tumbled forward. He came to a sudden crash at the bottom of the pit. The taste of blood filled his mouth and his head felt fuzzy. He struggled to right himself and stretched his legs out in front of him.

He undid his pack and placed it on the ground beneath a nearby tree and organized his thoughts. "All right, you fell in. Not a problem. There's bound to be a way out of this place." He began to scan the valley for signs of egress as he rose to his feet and dusted off his armor. Everywhere he looked, he saw steep walls that would allow no purchase, and his eyes kept sliding to the enormous structure that dominated the center of the valley.

"Well, Finn. What now?" He walked toward the structure. "I say we walk up those steps and see what this place has to offer."

He strapped his shield to his arm and withdrew his mace. Tentatively, he made his way to the steps that lead up the front of the building. Time had worn away much of the intricacy and stonework along the walls of the structure but it was still soundly intact. The smell of rot and swamp were unmistakable but he was beyond fear at this point. Curiosity drove him further up the stairs and to the crest of the first level. His eyes caught the glint of something shining on the edge of the structure, just at the top of the next stairs. He slid his mace back into his belt loop and started upward.

As he took his first step he heard a sound that froze his heart within his chest. It was the sound of suffering given voice, the sound of death claiming another victim and yet, not giving that victim absolute release. He wheeled and tried to draw his mace but it was too late. A leather bound hand cracked him across the jaw and broke teeth free. He crashed to the ground as a foot slammed into his ankle, snapping it as he fell backwards. His sight went white with pain and he fell hard against the ancient stone. As he looked up he saw a head, bound in leather swathing, lean toward him and breathe stale air from a vertical slit in what should have been a face. He felt something slip between his ribs and then the spiral whirl of portal space overtook him.

He rubbed at his arms as he made the final turn and looked inside his new home. Age was finally catching up with him and though he knew that his time was limited he wanted to make sure that he could still achieve the glory of his youth. He dropped the stock of the crossbow against his leg and pulled the string taught against the latch. He rested a bolt into the runnel and brought the weapon against his shoulder. In the distance, he could barely make out the silhouette of the target he had placed. He narrowed his eye and let the bolt fly.

He watched as the bolt sailed through the air and slapped into the dust a few feet before the target. He let out a grunt and wandered inside, disgusted at himself. At least he still had his secrets to share. Nothing to do now but wait. They'd come&he'd made certain that they would.

Rollout Article

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Treaties in Stone

posted on 14-Jul-2004

Fanzen San walked quietly back into the Hebian-to library. He had spent the better part of a week traveling along the shores and inland areas of the Vesayen Islands. He was tired and worn out from a long, yet fruitful trip. The trip had been something that he meant to do for years now, but time had never been in surplus. But recent events, witnessed just outside of the city, had given him a reason to venture out into the wilds of the island.

He returned to the confines of the library a little wiser and little better worn for his efforts. He knew that others would follow his steps and would be pleased with his findings.

Many of this month's changes have already been described in detail in the Letter to the Players. There are three other topics that we'd like to discuss in detail. Gibbering Claws

In this month's event we have added a quest timer to the Gibbering Claw, to make it difficult for players to prevent other players from getting a Claw. This does affect existing Claws. If you pick up a Claw even one you currently own you will not be able to pick up any other Claw for 14 days.

Example: I have a Gibbering Claw on my character, and another one in my residential quarter's chest. If I put the Claw in my inventory on the ground and then pick it back up, I will not be able to pick up the Claw in my chest for 14 days. However I will be able to drop and pick up the first Claw again as many times as I like. Software Mode

One of this month's new dungeons uses new and more detailed graphics for some items that will not display properly if you are playing Asheron's Call without hardware 3D video acceleration. After an informal poll last month, we felt that this is acceptable. Players without hardware 3D acceleration will still be able to enter this dungeon, acquire the items, and play normally; they simply will see flat colored polygons instead of the expected item textures.

We may introduce more items like these in the near future, and we'll be presenting more information on the topic of Software Mode soon. Turbine Nation

We're currently taking registrations for Turbine Nation 2004, to be held August 7 at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, RI. We'll be revealing exciting details about the upcoming Asheron's Call expansion pack, having Q&A sessions, giving away door prizes, and sitting down for lunch with our players in the annual Asheron's Call Player Luncheon. We're also running two exciting contests the Make-a-Monster Contest and the Make-a-Movie Contest.

Get your ticket today!

Release Notes

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Treaties in Stone

posted on 14-Jul-2004

New Functionality and Content

  • War Magic critical hits have been improved. The largest changes are to the maximum effect of the Crippling Blow and Critical Strike imbues when used with War Magic.
  • It is possible to gain the ability to add a Magic-Absorbing property, similar to that of the Aegis Shield, to any loot missile weapon.
  • The content surrounding the town of Lin has been revised.
  • The Singularity Weapons quest has been revised.

Miscellaneous Changes and Improvements

  • Campfires taken from the Renegade camp are now floor-hookable.
  • The Lugian Crest, Lugian Armor, Blade of the Heart, Cloth of the Arm, Sceptre of the Mind, Lugian Pauldron, and Lugian Scepter are all no longer Attuned.
  • The new Virindi Scalpel was intended to no longer be life-hollow, but gain the double-strike ability. These changes have been made for this month.
  • Yaja's Reach can now do both slashing and piercing damage, as intended.
  • Homunculus Heads no longer have crafter wield requirements.
  • There is now a 14-day timer on picking up a Gibbering Claw.
  • The Arcane Lore requirement on the Renegade Ring has been reduced to 100.
  • Some Hollow Boulders were not correctly ignoring magic protections. This has been fixed.
  • Behdo Yii now gives out his jewelry before giving other items, so that if your backpack is nearly full you will still get the jewelry reward.
  • The rewards for the Hea Toneawa quest have been improved slightly.
  • A bug that was preventing the Ceremony room in the Gaerlan quest from resetting has been fixed. Killing the creatures that spawn if silence is broken will reset the room.
  • Gaerlan's health regeneration has been decreased at all four level breaks of the quest.
  • The spawn rate on the Homunculus has been increased.
  • A Titan Mana Charge no longer spawns in the Lyceum.
  • Marguls would make a typeless damage melee attack during their spellcasting animation if you were standing above them. This has been removed.
  • Text indicating the intended level range has been added to the descriptions of most gems that open quest portals.
  • Additional text has been added to Gems of Enlightenment to reflect specialization costs.
  • It is no longer possible to lock housing chests with a lockpick.
  • Emotes have been removed from most collectors. No more failing to hand in that Wasp Wing because the collector is yawning!
  • It was possible to use hooked items many times in a row, very rapidly. This could cause strange behavior from some hooked objects, so hooked items now have a delay similar to that found on NPCs. This change will also allow us to expand the sorts of things that hooked items can do in the future.
  • Loot weapons that cannot be imbued now state as such explicitly when identified. This currently only applies to missile weapons that have had the magic-absorbing property applied.
  • The Sclavus Cathedral that has been overrun by Burun is now known as the Burun Cathedral.
  • The creatures in the Effigy Foundry have been rebalanced for characters from levels 20 to 30.
  • A landscape generator right next to Aun Papileona has been removed.
  • A room in the Orphanage has been tweaked to make combat in the room more challenging.
  • The lower arm part of Nariyid sleeves now dye correctly.
  • Living Hoeroas should now look better when hooked.
  • The Glittering Necklace of Acid and Piercing Protection now looks better when hooked.
  • Bloodletter, Soulrender, Fleshripper and Crystal-Tipped atlatl darts now have unique icons.
  • Creature Enchantment Dispel scrolls and all Item Enchantment scrolls now have unique icons.
  • The icons for some creature-cast fellowship spells now have a different icon to indicate that they affect multiple players.
  • Spiketails were intended to be made unsellable with all other player-craftable items in June, but were missed. They are now properly unsellable.
  • The Bronze Statues in towns now behave like signs and not like books. To read them, you only need to examine them instead of "using" them.
  • We have fixed a bug that, in some very rare cases, could cause monsters to ignore your presence.
  • Many creatures have had small tweaks for balance.

Minor Details

  • The old Scalpel is now called "Virindi Scalpel" and the new one is "Sharpened Virindi Scalpel."
  • A reference to missing chickens has been removed from the Fishing Hole.
  • A duplicate rumor has been removed from the barkeep in Redspire.
  • Typos in some Marae Lassel rumors have been corrected.
  • Some portal drops that left you facing the wrong direction have been fixed.
  • The Hollowed-Out Tree Trunk no longer refers to a Dread Mattekar Hide.
  • The Sublime Elari Bow and Sharpened Virindi Scalpel are no longer sellable.
  • A typo in Behdo Yii's text has been fixed.
  • The Portal Space quest Buadren has had descriptive text added to help distinguish it from Living Weapons Buadren.
  • A typo in the name of the Lytelthorpe Portal Gem has been fixed.
  • A typo in the name of the Carenzi Stalker has been fixed.
  • A black line in the icon for the sweet-smelling piece of bark has been removed.
  • A typo in the message received when crafting a one-eyed Orb of the Homunculus has been fixed.
  • Some of Gabrielle's text has been clarified.
  • Descriptive text on the Renegade Meat, Distilled Mana and Refined Chorizite Chunk has been corrected.

Letter to the Players

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July Letter to the Players

posted on 28-Jun-2004

Welcome to the July Letter to the Players!

Last month in Dereth, Isparians continued to fight against the growing Burun/Renegade alliance. Renegade and Burun camps were discovered across the land, and each one became the site of a pitched battle. New discoveries by the Arcanum have cut down on the time required to prepare for a fight and made it easier for allegiances to rally together in towns. But will this be enough to defeat this new threat, when the Burun leaders have powerful magic, fierce warriors, and strong allies already familiar with our tactics and weaknesses?

Before we take a look at the changes coming for the July event, there are three other topics I'd like to discuss.


We'd just like to thank all of you who helped us make the Verdantine launch a success. While there were certainly a few rough patches, we've seen folks having a lot of fun starting over again. It was fun for us too! Not just as developers watching our players having fun, but also as players ourselves running around the new world. Who knows, maybe that person you fellowed with last night was a member of the Live Team... Billing Migration

As Jessica mentioned in her latest Transition Diary, we're in the process of writing up documentation and FAQs for the upcoming migration. We expect to be able to post this information in the near future. To restate for emphasis: We're taking our time with this because we need to be as careful as possible.

To that end, in the coming months more of our Engineering and Quality Assurance resources are going to be dedicated to the billing migration. I mention this because it means that fewer of our In Concept topics will be moving to In Development. The success of the migration is quite simply higher priority.

Turbine Nation 2004

Our Turbine Nation schedule is posted and registration is underway! Both of these and more can be found at our Turbine Nation website. There will be information about the upcoming Expansion Pack, the Asheron's Call Player Luncheon, and lots of chances to talk to the Live Team. All that plus info on Asheron's Call 2 and Turbine's upcoming titles: Middle-Earth Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online! Join us in Providence, RI, on Saturday, August 7th!

Now let's take a look at some of the things that are...

Coming Soon

(These are items that we plan to implement in the July event. Many of these items were mentioned in prior articles.) Improved War Magic Critical Hits

In July, War Magic critical hits in Player-vs.-Monster (PvM) combat will be improved. The three changes listed below will affect only War Magic spells landed in combat on monsters and War Magic spells cast by monsters on players. War Magic critical hits for Player-vs.-Player (PvP) combat will not change.

  • Currently when a War Magic spell scores a critical hit, it adds a multiple of the base damage of the spell to a normal damage roll. Starting in July, War Magic critical hits will instead add a multiple of the maximum damage of the spell. No more crits that do less damage than non-crits!

  • Critical Strike for War Magic currently scales from 5% critical hit chance to 25% critical hit chance at maximum effectiveness. In July, the maximum effectiveness will be increased to 50% chance.

  • Crippling Blow for War Magic currently scales from adding 50% of the spells damage on critical hits to adding 100% at maximum effectiveness. In July, the maximum effectiveness will be increased to adding up to 500% of the spell's damage.

Again, the three changes listed below will affect only War Magic spells landed in combat on monsters and War Magic spells cast by monsters on players. War Magic critical hits for Player-vs.-Player (PvP) combat will not change.

There is one additional change that will affect both PvP and PvM combat. All imbues and slayer bonuses scale their effectiveness based on the skill level of the player. Currently, imbues and slayer bonuses, when used with War Magic, scale from minimum effectiveness at 150 base War Magic skill to maximum effectiveness at 400 base War Magic skill. Starting in July, imbue and slayer effects for War Magic will scale will scale from minimum effectiveness at 125 to maximum effectiveness at 360.

These changes are intended to improve War Magic damage over time in PvM combat, in to increase the effectiveness of imbues for War Magic.

Aegis Effect for Loot Missile Weapons

In July, Bow, Crossbow and Atlatl users will be able to gain the ability to add a Magic-Absorbing property to any loot missile weapon. This property will work in exactly the same way as an Aegis shield, but has the side-effect of a 10% melee defense penalty. You will be able to grant this property to an item that has been imbued and/or tinkered, but you can't add an imbue after having added this property.

It's important to note that this is not expected to be the be-all, end-all balancing item for PvP missile weapons. We still have additional goals, as we've mentioned in previous articles. This new property is intended to give missile weapon users additional options in both PvP and PvM combat, in situations where incoming war spells are a greater threat than melee attacks.

Content Update: Lin

We are continuing with our ongoing process of updating the towns of Dereth and their surrounding content. In July, Lin and its nearby content will be revised to better suit its role as a base for characters in the 20-40 range.

Content Update: Singularity Weapons

We're also continuing our ongoing process of updating older quests. In July, the Singularity Weapons are being revised. The existing two tiers of weapons are being restated for characters in their 40's and 70's, and a new third tier is being added for characters in their 50's.

In Development

(These are the game changes that we are working on for the August event. None of these items are guaranteed to be added for August, as scheduling and priorities can change. Your feedback on these topics is particularly valuable.)

Crafting Quests

Due to scheduling conflicts, the addition of new crafting quests has been pushed back until August. These quests may be similar to those introduced in the June event, but would be designed for higher-level characters.

Content Update: Aerlinthe

We would like to update Aerlinthe in a manner similar to the recent Marae Lassel update. Landscape hunting on Aerlinthe will likely be revamped to better suit mid to high level characters. The Lady Aerfalle quest may have minor cosmetic changes, such as tweaks to the creatures in the various dungeons associated with the quest, but we do not expect to make any major revisions to the quest mechanics.

In Concept

(These are the game changes that we are thinking about for September and beyond. We cannot guarantee when – or even if – any of these changes will be added to the game, as scheduling and priorities can change. Your feedback on these topics is particularly valuable.

If not mentioned elsewhere in this Letter, topics listed as In Concept in prior articles have not changed status.) War Magic Improvements

Along with the critical hit improvements that we're adding in July, we are looking at increasing War Magic damage on Bolts, Arcs, and Streaks at spell levels 1 through 6. The goal is to improve War Magic damage over time at lower levels, where it currently lags behind other combat skills in comparison to its skill credit cost. Level 7 Streaks may also have their damage increased, although this is still being researched. We want to ensure that any improvements we make benefit War Mages in PvM combat without unbalancing War Magic in PvP play.

Content Update: Three Crystals Quest

After the June Letter to the Players, priorities and schedules changed and this content revision has been pushed out past August. We plan to revise the Fenmalain, Caulnalain, and Shendolain Crystal quests and quest rewards to make them more appropriate for their various level ranges.


Those are our plans for July and beyond. Please note that topics that have been previously mentioned in the In Development and In Concept sections of prior articles are still being developed or considered, unless mentioned otherwise. As I mentioned at the beginning of this letter, you may see fewer In Concept articles making it into Development in the near future as we focus more resources on the billing migration.

As always, we value your feedback on this letter. See you in Dereth!

­- Ibn

Concept Art
Turbine posted some fun concept art that didn't make it into the game. Visit the forums for a lively discussion on who may be depicted in the chess game below!

Chess Concept Art
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