Announcements - 2006/04 - Shining Runes and Shadowed Hands

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April 2006 - Patch Page


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Shining Runes and Shadowed Hands

Ardry sat cross-legged by the campfire, writing out a letter in the flickering light.

Dearest Uncle Aliester,

My latest sojourn into the islands settled by the Viamontians has turned up a wealth of information. It seems that the rumors of the new Shadowhunter armor are true. There is a master smith of the Alduressa family who has set up his forge not far from Silyun. He has been making significant strides in learning how to infuse the strengths of the crystal shards and shadow fragments into his own suits of armor, much as you and your colleagues did in the days when the Hopeslayer's spawn stalked the land. This Iian di Alduressa has made enough progress, in fact, that he had no need of the advanced notes that you wrote for him. Rest assured that I spent a good long time trying to divine his disposition and intentions, and he does not seem to be an Aluvian-hating, bloodthirsty killer like you feared he might be.

I will be back to the residence soon to bring you my latest collections. It appears that winter has finally broken, though I would still encourage you to leave your windowless basement study to see this for yourself. I would also have you inspect a weapon I found in a chest in the dark valley. It bears runes that I am unable to decipher myself, and it pulses with an alien energy.

I have only one task left: I found a portal gem on the corpse of a powerful Viamontian mage that I encountered in the Halaetan wilds. As soon as I have investigated the gem's destination, I will return.

Your dutiful nephew,


He signed his name with a flourish and looked around for the blob of sealing wax. At the edge of the firelight, near his pack, he spied a small, dark shape. Some kind of furred animal, rooting around in his pack... He reached for his sword, afraid that the beast was a Carenzi or some other variety of undersized but vicious animal. The animal moved closer into the firelight, and Ardry sighed with relief when he saw it was a brown baby rabbit.

His relief turned to aggravation, however, when he saw that the rabbit had been gnawing on his stick of sealing wax. "Hey!" he barked at the baby creature. It froze momentarily, then bolted into the night, presumably towards whatever den it had crawled out of. Ardry salvaged the remains of his wax, melted the end, and sealed his letter.

His letter completed, Ardry reached into his pack and pulled out the glowing portal gem that he'd taken from the vanquished Royal Inquisitor. He ran his hands over the cool facets of the gem. He put it down, glancing between it and the warm fire. He picked up the bottle at his side and drained the last few drops of the beer, one of Duke Raoul's fortified brews.

Ardry had made a career out of throwing himself into dangerous situations without seriously considering what dire peril lay ahead of him. He had plunged headlong into portals guarded by Virindi, Tumeroks, Lugians, and more recently into the torture lairs of a mad king's most lethal soldiers. He had become intimately familiar with the taste of dirt in all parts of Dereth, from the charred, chemical tang of the rock in the Obsidian Plains to the smooth, rich loam of the northern highlands. He had awakened in front of a lifestone more often than he had awakened in his own bed. And yet, when he looked at the softly glimmering gem in his hand now, he felt true fear.

Ardry sighed once more and picked up his new sword. He stared into the glowing pattern at the base of the blade, then took a few practice swings with it. He stood up, shouldered his pack on unbending shoulders, and dropped the portal gem on the ground. With one swift motion, he crushed it beneath his boot heel. A portal appeared in front of him. Before he could even hesitate, he threw himself forward.

The wrenching of portal space subsided after a time. Ardry opened his eyes in a dark cavern. He could only make out the dimmest contours of the rock walls around him. The light from the glowing sigil on his sword did little to illuminate his surroundings. The light served only to cast a sickly blue pall on his own hand.

He heard a low shuffling noise. The echoes of the cavern confused his senses, and he spun wildly, looking for the source of the movement. At the far end of the cavern, in a distant patch of darkness deeper than the dark around it, four pairs of purple eyes appeared. He gripped his sword tightly, holding his breath, listening. Seemingly from all around, he heard other things shuffling in to surround him. He heard them suck in the stale air of the cavern and hiss at him.

Rollout Article

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Rollout Article - April

Count Dardante sat cross-legged in a dark chamber, waiting. Nodes of magical energy glimmered on the walls high over his head, casting a faint purple glow through the room. The air was heavy with a fetid, swampy odor. The room was not notably cold, but goose prickles arose on his flesh, he who had summoned and bound a thousand spirits before.

The latest summoned spirit, bound into a body of animated flesh in this chamber halfway between worlds, shuffled forward from its shadowed den. It didn't come fully into Dardante's vision, but remained a slowly swaying silhouette. The thing's eyes were bound and covered, but Dardante could feel the ancient malevolence in its gaze. The mage and the spirit regarded each other for long, breathless moments. The waiting turned into a contest of wills. Finally, patience exhausted, Dardante spoke first, and he could sense the spirit's self-satisfaction even in this minor victory.

"Let us speak again of the Black Spear of the Kemeroi," he said, knowing that the very word "Kemeroi" would anger the bound spirit.

The words of an ancient language echoed in Dardante's mind in response: "We have spoken of this more times than I care to remember, wizardling. If you want to know more of those profane leeches on the body of Creation, summon one of them, if you dare."

Dardante smiled. "I dare more than you know, but I am not as foolish as that, meat puppet."

"No, your foolishness takes other forms," the spirit agreed, almost amiably. "But that is an interesting choice of insult. You have treated with the Cloaked Wind... more foul parasites who nibble away at the life essence of others. Truly, like seeks like."

"Believe it or not, I did not bind you here just to exchange insults."

"You bound me here for a futile purpose. I cannot tell you all that you wish to know about the source of the Black Spear's power. To learn more than what I have told you, you must treat with the Shadow, and not with my kind."

"Your kind fought endless wars against the Living Shadow. How better to learn of them than to interrogate their ancient enemies?"

"There are other mortals in your realm who know much of Grael. They openly seek to bring him back, but they are mistaken in many of their beliefs. They believe him imprisoned, when he is merely... asleep."

"They believe him imprisoned because of an elaborate ruse, meant to misdirect their efforts."

"I know of the ruse. It amused me, to see the blind poking their fingers in the eyes of the blind."

"I want information, not mockery, spirit. Or do I have to subject your corpse-prison to further indignities?" Dardante knew that being forced to inhabit a shell of dead flesh was a hideous torment to these spirits, and even worse to be tortured in that shell and subjected to long-forgotten sensations of physical pain.

"I mean that your clever wizardling servants may have distracted the cult, but you are still no closer to the truth than they, and there are things they know that you do not."

"How could that be so? They are a band of overreaching sellswords and hedge wizards, loathed and hunted by their own kind, while my explorations have been backed by the strength of a kingdom. Do not lie to me again," Dardante cautioned. He had caught the spirit in a lie once before, and he had tortured it for three days in retribution. Not for the first time, he ground his teeth together in frustration that his binding magic was not strong enough to use the voice of command on a spirit this powerful.

"They know what you do not because they have given much of themselves to their quest. They have plunged into the water to find that which they seek, while you and your King would stand on the shore and peer through the waves, hoping to catch a glimpse of it."

"Are all of your kind given to such tiresome metaphors?"

The bound spirit's dry husk of a body shook with mocking laughter. "I find it amusing that you and your King have immersed yourselves so thoroughly in the teachings of my people and the trappings of our power, but you failed to absorb any of our knowledge."

"Explain what you mean, spirit," Dardante said, through clenched teeth.

"You are a fool. You seek great power but you will not take what risks are necessary to grasp such power. You must... sacrifice. My people knew this. We knew it in our bones, and we gave the sweetest portions of our bounty to those who gave us power. You seek only to steal. To take without giving, to make a dishonest bargain. You may treat with other mortals in this way, but the Wheel of All Things does not haggle." The spirit paused for dramatic effect. "Nor do the Kemeroi. The Black Spear found this out, to his own everlasting regret."

Dardante snorted in contempt. "Spare me the moralizing, spirit. Your kind died out when the Kemeroi overpowered your tentacled gods. I need no lessons in the taking of power from a race of failed swamp wizards. I have summoned you, bound you, and extracted knowledge from you, without sacrificing anything to you."

"My kind are not as dead as you would like to think. And your sacrifice has yet to come, meat puppet," the spirit said, as the animated corpse rattled with laughter once more.

Release Notes

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Developer's Notes - April

New Content and Functionality

  • The Viamontian version of Shadowhunter Armor will be available this month. It will be made in the same way that the other versions were made in the past. Make sure to start collecting your Shards now!
  • There have been reports of some strange gems dropping off of members of the Raven Hand and Shadow Virindi. The reports so far are that these gems lead to some new and exciting places.
  • Some adventurers have been reporting also finding a gem on the corpse of the infamous White Rabbit. The way the story goes is that these gems may lead to the lair of a younger member of the White Rabbit family.
  • Ciandra is reporting that the Essences of Magic are on the move again. Make sure to have a conversation with her about what she thinks is going on.
  • Spring is here. That means the snow is gone and the magic of life has returned to Dereth. The baby creatures have returned and the trees and flowers are blooming again.
  • There is a new character option called Confirm Use of Rare Gems. It can be toggled in the character options panel or mapped to a key and has appropriate tool tips. This option is on by default for new characters, but off for existing characters to match existing behavior.

    When on, this option causes the use of a rare volatile gem to trigger a confirmation dialog, pressing yes goes ahead and uses the gem; pressing no aborts and does not use the gem. When the option is off, the gem is used immediately.

Miscellaneous Changes and Improvements

  • Worn Old Missile weapons had the wrong wield requirements on them. The missile weapons in the higher bracket were intended to have a wield requirement of 315. However, they ended up with a wield requirement of 350, which makes them rather useless to the players who were finding them. This has been fixed.
  • The Books of Salt and Ash will now tell players how long they must wait to pick up a new set of pages when players try to use them before the timer is up.
  • A problem where the Mountain Keep portal would not spawn has been fixed. The portal should now spawn without a problem.
  • Ulgrim the Unappreciated has finally removed his Ursuin costume. With the coming of the warmer months he decided it was time to get out of that hot costume.
  • Several typos have been fixed on NPC's.

Letter to the Players

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Letter to the Players - April

April 2006 Letter to the Players

Hi there and welcome to the April 2006 edition of the Letter to the Players. This month marks the beginning of the spring season in Dereth. You can hear the playful romping of baby Shreths and Bunnies. The sights and smells of springtime in Dereth have never been so abundant. The snow has melted, trees and flowers are in bloom, and butterflies are floating blissfully through the air.

Spring has also brought about the appearances of some familiar faces in some not so familiar places. Rumors of portal gems dropping off certain creatures that lead to places, not yet discovered on Dereth have been spreading about the land. Where do these gems lead to and what brought about their discovery?

As we settle into spring, a dark shadow has been cast on the hearts of some of the land's more devious souls. As we speak, plans are being made and tasks are being carried out that will change the face of things to come. Who is the force behind these dark intentions, and do they realize the consequences of their actions?

Let's find out what is new in Dereth this month!

New Weapons and Functionality

As many of you may remember the early days of Asheron's Call, there were a lot of restrictions on what we could and could not do. A lot of these restrictions were based on the level of tech we had at the time, and others were based on other factors. Well as you all now know, the times have changed quite a bit, and what was once not possible, now is. Even though Asheron's Call has been around for a long time, we are constantly able to make changes and improvement s to the game engine. These changes will continue to allow us to make constant improvements to the game that were at one time, not possible.

The above mentioned changes to the game have opened the door for us to introduce an entirely new suite of weapons to Dereth. These weapons are using an entirely new treasure tech that will allow us to continue to do more exciting new content in the future. The weapons are generated in certain chests that randomly spawn on the landscape, and will be identifiable by the runes that will clearly be seen on the weapons when equipped. These weapons will also have the cast on strike ability found on the Spinning Staff. As of right now, the first release of these weapons will be intended for characters around level 100 range. In future months the other tiers of these weapons will be released in the same manner.

User Interface Improvements

Another change made this month was based on feedback from you, the players. As we have continued to increase the functionality if the Asheron's Call User Interface, we have been able to add more control, so that you the players would have more choices. We learn more about the capabilities of the Engine, and more specifically the UI every day.

Previously, when a player used a Rare gem, there was no confirmation that gem was used, or about to be used. This month, there is a new character option called Confirm Use of Rare Gems. It can be toggled in the character options panel, or mapped to a key, and has appropriate tool tips. This option is on by default for new characters, but off for existing characters to match existing behavior.

When on, this option causes the use of a rare volatile gem to trigger a confirmation dialog, pressing yes goes ahead and uses the gem; pressing no aborts and does not use the gem. When the option is off, the gem is used immediately.

In Concept

These are game changes that we are thinking about for upcoming events. We cannot guarantee when or even if 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 we will be adding to the game. Each month we will be discussing one new in concept topic, in order to give you as much information about the item that we can.

Allegiance Improvements

In the coming months we will be implementing many of the improvements to the allegiance system that you the players have been asking for. One of the first changes players will see is the ability to change the name, or give a custom name to their allegiance.

Allegiance Officers are another part of the allegiance system that has needed some love. So we gave them some. For the new allegiance system there will be three levels of officers below the monarch. Each level of officer will have different powers and restrictions. Players will also be able to customize the title given to each level of officer. In addition, players will also be able to customize the allegiance titles.

The final allegiance improvement we are looking at is the ability to lock an allegiance. Meaning, the monarch of the allegiance or an officer with the appropriate permissions may lock or unlock the allegiance from accepting new Vassals.

As we get closer to implementing these features, we will be giving more detailed descriptions of what players will and will not be able to do. The information listed above is just a rough outline of the plans we have for allegiance improvements.

So there are just some of the things we have in store for Asheron's Call in April and beyond. Please remember that along with everything listed here, there are several new quests and exciting things going into the game for the April event.

Live Events Schedule

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April Live Events Schedule

Due to popular demand we have decided to make our schedule for some live events available to the public. Please note that all event times are approximate and subject to change without notice. While we will do our best to make sure all events go on time, circumstances may arise to change this. Please do not use Urgent Assistance if an event does not happen as scheduled for whatever reason. We will do our best to update you via the official forums if there is going to be a problem with the scheduled events.

Also please note we will be running unscheduled events as well for those players who like more spontaneity in their events. All times listed are in Eastern Standard Time.

World Date and Time Date and Time Date and Time
Darktide 4/20/06 7:00 PM 4/25/06 12:00 PM 5/3/06 11:00 PM
Frostfell 4/20/06 8:00 PM 4/25/06 10:00 AM 5/3/06 3:00 PM
Thistledown 4/21/06 8:00 PM 4/26/06 2:00 PM 5/4/06 9:00 AM
Leafcull 4/21/06 7:00 PM 4/26/06 3:00 PM 5/4/06 8:00 AM
Wintersebb 4/17/06 7:00 PM 4/27/06 11:00 PM 5/5/06 11:00 AM
Morningthaw 4/17/06 11:00 AM 4/27/06 11:00 PM 5/5/06 8:00 PM
Solclaim 4/18/06 11:00 AM 4/28/06 10:00 PM 5/1/06 6:00 PM
Harvestgain 4/18/06 8:00 PM 4/28/06 10:00 AM 5/1/06 12:00 AM
Verdantine 4/19/06 8:00 PM 4/24/06 1:00 PM 5/2/06 11:00 PM
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