Announcements - 2004/12 - The Calm

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December 2004 - Patch Page


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The Calm

posted on 04-Dec-2004

Antius stepped into the portal and reality was whisked away. The grass, sand and sky blurred into a streaked, purple mess. His stomach lurched as gravity disappeared. The sounds of the birds and surf faded to a bleak pinpoint of nothing. They were replaced with a high-pitched whine that assaulted the warrior's ears. He felt light, weightless; but at the same time, the walls of portal space screamed past him at an incredible rate of speed. He feared what might happen to him should he chance to float into those walls. Luckily, such a thing had never happened. Still, the fear remained.

Bile pushed its way up Antius' throat. No matter how many times he used these alien portals, he never grew used to the effect they had on his body. He hated the way this place made him feel. He was a capable warrior - strong and fierce. But in this place, he was helpless as a newborn babe.

Antius closed his eyes and concentrated on breathing, though there was really no air here. Even so, it helped to focus one's thoughts on those most basic of human functions.

Antius felt something pull at his feet. He recognized that sensation as gravity. His stomach began to settle as the whine of portal space receded to the back of his mind. The sounds of birds and surf replaced that whine once again. But this time, the birds were different. He had never had the appreciation for birds that Elysa did. Surely, she would be able to tell him what sort of bird he now heard, as opposed to the sort that made their homes in the battlements of Elysa's castle. But in her absence, he had to pride himself on the small accomplishment of simply recognizing one trill over another. It was not just the birdsong that separated this place from his island home, however. The surf, too, was different here. It came from the west, rather than from all around him.

"Welcome, Antius!" Antius opened his eyes. Jenavere stood a few paces before him. She made a small bow. Behind her, Hendac pulled his sword from the corpse of a Banderling. He turned to Antius and nodded his head.

Antius cleared his throat, acclimating himself to reality once again. "I see you've been busy." He nodded to the Banderling's corpse.

"You kept us waiting long enough," Jenavere replied. She looked into the forest just east of them. "This forest does not want us here."

Antius nodded. Suddenly, he remembered something he had nearly forgotten. "Oh, Hendac." Antius pulled a small pouch from his belt and tossed it to the man. Hendac caught it and sniffed the small bag, a great warm smile crossing his face. "Elysa sends her regrets for not sending this gift sooner. She knows how much you enjoy her pearblossom tea."

The silent warrior tied the pouch to his own belt. He clasped his hands before his mouth and bowed deeply.

"I'll tell her you said so," Antius replied.

"Okay, boys. Enough gift-giving," Jenavere chided. "Let's do what we came here to do." The three warriors turned and ran north.


"When did it appear?" Antius asked the man.

The Gharu'ndim gentleman removed his fez and scratched his head. "We don't really know, my lord. There has been nothing but ocean out there for so long that we rarely even look in that direction. When I first moved to this fort, I thought I would spend all my time meditating on the calm, deep waters of the sea. But after a time, even the most beautiful surroundings become mundane, I suppose. Now, we spend most of our time just waiting for passing travelers with whom to trade." Feruza nodded to the robed man standing on the upper walkway of the fort's walls. "It was not until that young man arrived that we took notice. He is the one who pointed it out to us. Now, I wonder how we missed it for so long."

Antius thanked the man and climbed the stairs of the small fort's meager walls. The Sho man on the walkway held his robe close. He coughed once and nodded to Antius, a broad smile on his face. "Good day, my lord," the man said. Antius nodded to him, then looked at the mountain to the north.

He had been to this fort many times. Since his arrival on this new world, his adventures had sent him across all the known reaches of Dereth. He knew this place well. There had been nothing but empty ocean out there the last time he was here. But those waters were no longer empty.

A massive plateau of ice rose from the sea. Beyond it, an island chain graced the horizon. Antius felt the breath leave his body. So much land in what had previously been the barren sea. How had that happened? Had something caused that land to suddenly come into being? Or worse, had it been there all along, and they had just been unable to see it until now?

Antius looked down at the two figures on the beach. Hendac and Jenavere stared intently at the new islands. He wondered if they were filled with the same sense of dread that he was. The three of them had been through too much together to simply ignore these new islands. Something had placed them there - or unveiled them. Something of great power, no doubt. And if life on Dereth had taught him anything, it was that beings of great power are often bent on great destruction.

Antius pulled the gem from his pack. It was time to report to his queen.


Light and dark swirled into a mass of seething shadow as the creature's body twisted and popped. Its dark, translucent form bled into a mass of muscled, gray flesh. Blood of red, green, black, and purple flowed from the wounds which covered its new body. The wounds closed, the blood stopped, but the pain remained. The creature gasped as a mouth grew from its newly formed face. It bellowed a cry of soulless anguish. The thing fell to its knees and wept.

A hand caressed the top of its head. "Shh..." the dark voice whispered. "This pain is temporary."

The hand reached down and settled beneath the creature's massive chin. The thing looked up into the dark eyes of its master. It blinked and shuddered at the blinding light of the great one's profane beauty. "M-m-master..." it stuttered.

"Yes," the great one whispered. Its words were oily and thin, wrapped in a sea of writhing madness. "Master..."

Rollout Article

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Rollout Article

posted on 08-Dec-2004

He looked down at his flesh. It was still new to him. He both loved and loathed its alien feel - its texture; its smell; its oils. So powerful, yet still so flawed and weak compared with the existence he had previously known.

He looked at his brothers. He nodded to the youngest of them. The changeling nodded in assent and ran east. The other two looked to him for their own orders.

He removed a map from his pack and unrolled it. He placed a large finger on two locations. Each of his brothers nodded and began the trek to their designated posts.

He held the map to his blade of flame and watched the paper crumble to ash. Then he began his own journey. For he, too, had a part to play in this great game.

Many of this month's changes have already been described in detail in the Letter to the Players. Here are some additional topics that we'd like to discuss in detail:

Billing Migration

As we referenced in the Letter to the Players, starting this month the Asheron's Call client will begin checking to make sure you have the necessary software to allow you to migrate your account when the migration process begins.

In addition to the required Internet Explorer version, we have identified an additional requirement: You must have SSL enabled in Internet Explorer to ensure that the Asheron's Call client will be able to correctly communicate with the migration servers.

To enable SSL:

  1. Start Internet Explorer.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Internet Options.
  3. On the Advanced tab, scroll down to the Security section, and then select the Use SSL 2.0 and Use SSL 3.0 options.
  4. Click OK.

Release Notes

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Developer's Notes

posted on 08-Dec-2004

New Content and Functionality

  • A number of improvements have been made to Holtburg, Shoushi and Yaraq as part of our ongoing work to turn these towns into Social Centers.
  • After a two-month delay, the fun of Masks and Guises has returned to Dereth! And don't let the snow on the ground fool you – the Scarecrows roam the land as well!
  • In preparation for the upcoming Billing Migration, the Asheron's Call game client now checks to ensure that you are running a sufficient version of Internet Explorer. In addition we recommend that you check to make sure that you have SSL enabled in Internet Explorer.

Miscellaneous Changes and Improvements

  • Using the @allegiance ban command without an argument will no longer crash your client.
  • The life protection and regeneration fellowship spells were not increasing in mana cost for additional targets and required a player target. We have adjusted the spells so that they correctly increase in mana cost and are now self-targeted.
  • The mana burn rate on Noble Armor has been changed to 1 point per 60 seconds, and the Hieromancer's Ward spells have been replaced with Brogard's Defiance.
  • The Burun Floatee can now be hooked on rooftops.
  • A generator that was spawning 80+ creatures in a 20+ area of Aphus Lassel has been removed.
  • A portal on the island of Qin Xikit that was unintentionally tieable is no longer tieable. Any ties to this portal will no longer work.
  • We've tweaked Gentleman Jake so that he is less likely to fail to give you a portal gem to the Bandit's Lair while on the Noir quest.
  • Some changes have been made to the statues Hevk Loz, Jif Loz and Kir Loz to prevent players from getting into a broken state while answering their questions.
  • The in-game credits have been updated.

Minor Details

  • Typos in the description of several fellowship life protection scrolls have been corrected.
  • The name of the Pack Burun Kukuur is now spelled correctly.
  • A typo in the description of Priceless Ore has been corrected.
  • When you hand in the token for having defeated all six Burun Kings, Guard Devon correctly announces that you have defeated all six Kings.

Letter to the Players

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Letter to the Players

posted on 01-Dec-2004

Welcome to the December Letter to the Players!

Over the last month in Dereth, the Burun Kukuur have mounted several incursions in the depths of ancient Falatacot temples. Each time, they have been repelled by the force of arms of Isparian heroes.

Finally, King Browerk, greatest of the Kukuur, entered Dereth. Again the Burun attempted to make their foothold on our world permanent, and again they were repelled. With the defeat of Browerk, it would appear that the Burun threat has finally ended. Again the heroes of Dereth have been tested, and again they have prevailed!

Now, let us look ahead to the December event.

Changes to the Team
As we've mentioned previously, the Live Team has been in the process of moving to Turbine's new Santa Monica studios, where we will work right alongside the Throne of Destiny development team. The move is complete as of today.

As part of that move, changes have been made in two key positions on the Team. Our Producer, Kim "Mirin" Payson, and our Lead Designer, Allan "Orion" Maki, have both moved on to other projects at Turbine. Brandon "meanbeard" Salinas, one of the designers for Throne of Destiny, has taken over as Lead Designer of the Live Team.

As for the Producer role, Sandra "srand" Powers is scheduled to return to the position once development on Throne of Destiny has finished. Until that time, the Producer responsibilities will be divided between meanbeard, Executive Director Steven "Ski-Dawg" Kaminsky, and me – Alex "Ibn" Beckers.

Billing Migration

We're continuing our internal work on migrating all of you off of Microsoft's .NET Passport and MSN Gaming Zone billing and authentication, and on to Turbine's proprietary billing system and launcher. One change that you may notice in December is that Asheron's Call will begin checking the version of Internet Explorer on your PC. This is because we are using some security features of IE for migration, and these features are only found in IE 5.5 with 128-bit encryption or IE 6.

If a sufficient version of Internet Explorer can't be found on your computer at launch, Asheron's Call will prompt you to upgrade. For the moment, you can cancel this upgrade and play the game normally, but be aware that you will not be able to migrate without upgrading.

There are a few things that you can do to prepare for migration. The first is to make sure that your .NET Passport account is secure. We recommend that all players change the passwords of the .NET Passport account associated with their Asheron's Call accounts, you can do this at the Passport website.

This is particularly important for any account that may have been shared between players in the past. If another player with access to your account were to migrate it, that other player would be the account owner from Turbine's perspective. Don't let this happen to you! Change your password at your earliest convenience.

We'll be putting out more information regarding the migration in the next few weeks.

Coming Soon

(These are items that we plan to implement in the December event. Many of these items were mentioned in prior articles. These changes are in addition to the new quests, dungeons, and items that we'll be introducing in the December event.)

Before we say anything, let's stress again what's written above: Anything you see in the Letter to the Players is in addition to new quests and items that you'll be seeing in each monthly event.

Masks and Guises

As we've mentioned in previous Letters, the creature masks and guises that traditionally enter the game in October were held back until the December event due to resource scheduling issues. Starting in December, you'll be able to find all your old favorites, as well as a few new ones!

Social Centers

As also mentioned in previous Letters, over the next few months we will focus on the towns of Holtburg, Shoushi and Yaraq. Our goal is to increase player traffic through these towns, to make them more desirable places to spend time in-game.
In December we'll be making a number of improvements to these three towns. These include:

  • Making the portals into the towns more consistent and increasing the number of portals out of the towns.
  • Moving the casinos closer to the towns.
  • Adjusting the starter quests based in these towns.

In addition to the three bullet points above, there are some improvements that we can't mention here – things that players will discover over the course of the December event.

In the near future we'll be putting up a new article explaining exactly what our goals are for the social centers, and the steps that we're taking to get there. Look for that in the next few weeks.

In Development

(These are the game changes that we are working on for the January event. None of these items are guaranteed to be added for January as scheduling and priorities can change. These changes are in addition to the new quests, dungeons, and items that we'll be introducing in the January event. Your feedback on these topics is particularly valuable.)

Higher Wield-Req Weapons

We've been teasing these for several months now and we're happy to be able to announce that the first tiers will likely be added to loot in the January event. These include new melee weapons with a 350 wield requirement, missile weapons with a 315 wield requirement and magic casters with 290 and 310 War Magic wield requirements.

The higher wield-req melee weapons will simply do more damage than existing weapons. The missile weapons and magic casters will gain a damage bonus based off a specific elemental type. For example, a 290 or 310 wield-req caster might receive a damage bonus to all fire-based War spells. For all other spells, it would act the same as a standard caster.

We'll be presenting more details on this in the near future, before the January Letter to the Players.

In Concept

(These are the game changes that we are thinking about for February 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. These changes are in addition to the new quests, dungeons, and items that we'll be introducing in each monthly event. 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.) High-Level Hunting and Life Magic

An issue that's been raised by the community frequently over the last several months has been an apparent imbalance in hunting at high levels, particularly between mages and melees or missile characters without Life Magic.

The basic issue is that missile and melee damage is reduced by the creature's effective armor level to the given element in addition to its natural resistances, while war magic damage ignores armor levels and only is reduced by resistances. This means that melee and missile attacks require that the creature be Imperil'd to do the same damage as a war magic attack.

The Live Team is committed to increasing the amount of high-level hunting, before the expansion pack, as part of it, and after it. We're also committed to making sure that all players have the ability to progress at a reasonable rate, whether or not they have Life Magic.

To that end, one thing we are considering is the introduction of a high-level hunting ground or dungeon populated by creatures that are immune to all non-projectile magic. This would allow us to give them an armor level that is fair to melee and missile characters without having to worry about whether or not the creature becomes too easy once Imperil'd; the creature would be immune to Imperil spells. However, War Mages and Martyr Mages would still be effective against these creatures.

Depending on our research and resources, as well as your feedback, it is possible that the first of these areas could go into the game for January. However, it is more likely that this would occur in February.

It is also important to stress that this is not by any means what we would consider a final solution to the Life Magic/high-level hunting issue. As we mentioned at Turbine Nation, we would like to re-evaluate the Armor Levels of many of the creatures in the Valley of Death and the Caul. We have other ideas that we're discussing as well.

Now you're caught up on the Live Team's plans for December and beyond. We've got some nice content surprises for you as well, but we're not giving any hints yet!

See you in Dereth!

-- Ibn
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