Announcements - 2006/06 - From the Darkest Depths

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June 2006 - Patch Page

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Teaser

Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=467

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From the Darkest Depths


Ardry approached the Smoking Axe Tavern of Ayan Baqur. It was coming close to sunset, and the desert sun had lost most of its bite, but there was still heat rising from the sandy ground.

He nodded politely to Ulgrim, stationed in his familiar position by the door. The old drunk winked at him mysteriously, but did no more to acknowledge the younger man's presence. Ardry paused in the doorway to brush thick clods of black earth from his boots, then stepped into the tavern's cool interior. Besides Berkholt the barkeep, there was only one other person in the bar. A grizzled woman in battered leather and mail armor sat at one of the tables, with an empty mug in front of her. A white qafiya pulled down low hid her hair and shaded her face when she kept her head down.

Ardry walked to the bar and made pleasant small-talk with Berkholt. He ordered two pints of ale and sat down at the same table as the warrior woman. He set one of the mugs down in front of her, then took a sip from his own. He checked the room again to make sure that there was no one else there.

The woman studied him with a guarded expression on her face. She looked at his face for a long time, then swept her gaze over his armor and his weaponry. After Ardry had taken a few nervous sips, she seemed to finish her inspection. She casually took the mug he'd put in front of her, and gulped down a mouthful of the ale.

"My thanks," she said, saluting him with the mug. "I'd forgotten how pleasant it was to have a glass of Berkholt's best on a hot day. You picked a good meeting place. We haven't met for a drink like this since our training on Ispar."

Ardry smiled. "We should make a habit of drinking together again, when duty's call is not quite so deafening. I make it a point to come here every once in a while, for the good ale and for cousin Ulgrim's entertaining company."

"Entertaining? If you say so. I have little patience for his foolishness."

"Even a fool can be a font of wisdom. So says my Uncle Aliester, a wise and learned man."

The woman snorted. "I'll try and remember that, though I'll tell you I've never had much use for your Uncle Aliester either. Until today, at least." Before Ardry could respond to that, she raised her hand. "We're not here to have a debate on the usefulness of your scholarly relations."

Ardry nodded. "No, we're not. I know your time is precious, so please, go ahead."

The woman looked around the room, again to check for potential eavesdroppers, then leaned in close to whisper. "As your own sources have told you, something terrible has happened. It looks like the Raven Hand finally succeeded in waking or summoning this Grael."

Ardry sucked in his breath. "How?" he asked. "Last we knew they were still far away from the information they needed for such a ritual."

The woman sighed. "The most unholy alliance conceivable. The Rossu Morta started feeding information to the Raven Hand, and they appeared to start making plans for a joint summoning ritual. But we have surmised that there was a betrayal at the last moment. One betrayed the other, though we are not sure who betrayed whom. It could be that they betrayed each other."

Ardry shook his head in amazement. "How could they be so foolish?"

"Each was obsessed with reaching Grael, and apparently each believed they could win the devotion or gratitude of that ancient evil... It seems to me that both sides miscalculated terribly before they even decided to cooperate in their endeavors. But what do I know? I'm just a soldier who's seen too much..."

"So if they conducted their ritual, where is Maegris?" Ardry had spent a long time keeping tabs on the shadowy Pontifex of the Raven Hand, only to lose track of him as the Raven Hand neared the completion of their preparations. The failure rankled him, and he had become desperate to learn of the cult leader's whereabouts.

"Of him, we have no word. The entire Raven Hand seems to have gone into hiding. Whether this was their plan all along, or the result of a catastrophic ritual, we are still unsure."

"And Dardante? He has gone to ground as well, it seems."

The woman shrugged. "Again, we cannot be sure what became of him. We know that the highest agents of the Rossu Morta assembled in haste and set out in all their strength for some reckoning with the Raven Hand, but we do not know what happened! We do not even know if Dardante got there in time to affect the ritual. This uncertainty is maddening."

"And while they have all gone missing, Grael walks the world again."

"If the signs in the sky are to be believed, yes. We will not know for certain until we have the information we seek." The woman looked Ardry in the eyes expectantly.

With a flick of his wrist, Ardry produced a tightly rolled scrap of paper in his finger. With barely a discernible movement, he passed it into the woman's hand. From there, it seemed to disappear.

"Those are the latest geomancy charts, courtesy of my Uncle's associates," Ardry confided. "I am still not sure how such abstractions will help you..."

"We have trackers and scholars who will find it useful, with the proper preparations. That's all I know of it, myself. I too question the usefulness of such charts, but nothing else has proved useful."

Ardry drank down half of his ale. "How bad do you think it will get?"

The woman laughed quietly. "As bad as it can get, is my guess. I've heard stories about the rampage of that Bael'Zharon. Grael is just as dangerous, and less predictable, by our reckoning. I would devote the rest of my days to extinguishing the Rossu Morta and the Raven Hand for their follies, if I weren't sure that they were already paying the price for their own overreaching arrogance. You might go to your people and urge them to fortify all your towns, if our own scouts are correct..."

"I will do so. We should try and share information like this regularly," Ardry said hopefully.

"It is possible, if our superiors ever get over their distrust of each other. Even in the face of apocalypse, old divisions die hard."

"Keep trying to persuade them. If we had made common cause earlier, it may be that we wouldn't have lost track of Dardante and Maegris on the eve of their ritual."

"I know. I suppose it would be rude to point out to them that they have made the same errors in their lust for secrecy as Dardante and Maegris did."

They shared a bitter laugh over that, and then she drained her mug. "I thank you for the drink. We must do it again some time. If we survive whatever foulness the Raven Hand and the Rossu Morta have unleashed."

She left quietly. He remained to finish his drink. He drank slowly, trying to relax and forget his feeling of mounting dread. Finally, as the sun slid below the horizon, he brought the two empty mugs of ale up to Berkholt and left the tavern. He stood in the threshold, adjusting his armor and getting ready to head back out into the wilderness. He glanced to his side and saw his cousin Ulgrim, watching him intently.

"What news, cousin?" he said, trying to keep his tone light.

Ulgrim shook his head slowly. "Don't go looking for Dardante any more, kid. You won't like him when you find him."

"What?" Ardry walked towards his distant cousin. "What did you say?"

"What? Me? I didn't say anything," Ulgrim said, petulantly. "Tell your uncle that I asked about his health, though. We should all cleave to our friends and family in the dark days ahead..."

Rollout Article

Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=469

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Rollout Article


Girion was practicing in the Chapterhouse training room. He'd been at it for over an hour, punishing the hapless Target Drudge with rhythmic blows of his heavy morningstar. He imagined the target to be a Viamontian Knight, and he could almost hear the behemoth's grunts and roars. After a particularly brutal overhand smash that was the final strike of his attack pattern, he stopped to wipe the sweat off his brow. He'd overheard talk from more highly-placed members of his Order, and knew that evil things had come forth from unknown corners of the world. He expected that he would soon be called into battle on behalf of the Order, and probably on behalf of the realm as well.

The rest of the Chapterhouse was quiet. He hadn't seen anyone else here since he began his session. A hand touched him on the shoulder, surprising him. He whirled and swung his morningstar in a rising arc. The intruder tilted his body back almost nonchalantly, and the spiked head of the weapon whistled harmlessly past his face. Girion felt a sharp, painful pressure on his knee, and suddenly he was on the ground, breath knocked out of his lungs, looking up at a younger man dressed in dark leather armor. From his position on the ground, he got a good look at the man's boots, which bore the sigil of the Order.

"Girion of Arwic?" The young man who had so easily avoided his attack and knocked him to the ground did not seem the least bit angry.

Girion blinked. After the shock of his sudden fall to the ground, it took him a moment to recognize the man he'd assaulted. Once he did, he rolled to his knees and lowered his head in a posture of abject submission. "M-my lord, f-forgive me," he stammered, shocked at his own stupidity.

"I'm no lord, friend, I work for a living. Get up. And call me Adso."

Girion stood as the man looked him over. "I did not mean to strike at you, my lord. Uh, I mean, Adso. Sir."

Adso laughed. "If I thought you'd meant to hurt me you'd already be staring deeply into a lifestone. Now, you are Girion of Arwic, yes?" When Girion nodded, he continued. "I need your help, Girion."

"Whatever you ask, my, uh, Adso. Sir."

"Come with me, then." Adso led him out of the training room and down a corridor. "We're very short on able-bodied fighters right now, Girion. I'd rather not have to discuss just where the rest of the Order has gone off to, but suffice it to say that I need you to go out and investigate something. It's likely to be quite dangerous."

They stopped in front of a door to one of the command offices. "What would you have me do, Adso, sir?"

"I need you to head out to the crater of Old Arwic. We have some information... We have friends with knowledge of ley lines, you see. I'd call them geomancers if they could do any more than sniff out the lines and map them. They swear that the crater has become some kind of throbbing pustule of corruption. I've passed through myself, and found nothing. Hold on a moment, wait right there."

Adso vanished into the room and closed the door behind him. Girion was left standing out in the hall. He waited patiently while he heard the sound of crates being levered open within the room. Adso eventually came back out into the hall with a backpack and an oblong, cloth-wrapped bundle in his arms.

"What was I saying?" Adso asked.

"Arwic is a throbbing pustule of corruption, sir."

"Yes. Yes, indeed. So I need you to go scout the crater. Stay there for at least a day. Record and report any suspicious activity. Try to remain hidden. I'm asking you because you should know the area well. And because if you won't go, I'd have to ask poor Eddred, and I don't think he's up for this kind of work any more."

Girion squared his shoulders. "I will do as you ask. You can count on me, sir."

"Glad to hear it. Here's a pack full of necessary supplies. Healing kits, potions, gems to strengthen and protect you..." Adso pushed the pack into his arms, then looked him up and down, seeming to take the measure of his physique. "You are a strong warrior, aren't you? And brave?"

Girion nodded confidently as he shouldered the pack. "I have fought in many battles here on Dereth, sir. Back as far as the Shadow War. And I was a soldier in the Viamontian campaigns back in Aluvia, sir. My commanders have never complained about my skill or valor."

"A man of worthy experience. Perhaps you'll be able to wield this, then..." Adso handed him the cloth-wrapped package. Girion unwrapped it slowly. He sighed in profound admiration as he gazed at the beautiful, if strange, mace in his arms. It was marked with a glowing red sigil, seeming to proclaim to all the world that it was a weapon of rare enchantment.

"Nice, eh? Very exotic. No doubt you'll find out soon just how powerful it is. Come along, then. Let's get moving. I have a portal gem for you, and night is almost upon us."

*****



Girion stood in the woods near the crater, straining his eyes to see by the dim light of the moon. He'd had a quiet time on his watch so far, but he still had many hours ahead of him. He ran his fingers lovingly over the curiously constructed mace that Adso had given him. He'd never felt a more naturally well-balanced weapon in his hand, and he became almost giddy just thinking of the range of enchantments that had been worked into the metal. He grinned every time he looked down at it, and imagined it smashing into the head of a Viamontian Knight.

He heard a soft rustling noise behind him, almost too faint to notice. Shivering with a sudden and awful sense of dread, he turned around.

The forest was filled with red eyes. Dark shapes moved between the trees, too many to count. He heard sibilant whispering in the wind, in a tongue he hadn't heard since the days when the Hopeslayer walked the world.

"Pwyll's bones," Girion muttered, before the eyes and the darkness swarmed forward and washed over him. He swung his new mace at the first creature to come within range, and was rewarded with an otherworldly wail of pain. But they were too much... He heard, almost distantly, the shriek of metal as shadowy claws tore through his plate armor. Agony exploded from a thousand places on his body, a bitter cold that burned, and then there was darkness.

*****



He woke up in front of his lifestone, far away from the Arwic crater. He sighed, and felt the ghosts of his wounds all over his body. Grimacing at the memory of the pain and horror, he muttered, "Definitely something going on at that crater... A throbbing pustule indeed."

He looked down at his empty hands, and then, in a panic, rifled through his pack.

"And now I've lost my new mace," he complained mournfully to the night.

Release Notes

Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=468

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Developer's Notes


New Content and Functionality


  • Some of the towns around Dereth have noticed strange rumblings around the old Shadow Spire craters. Players with mules or other characters in these towns may want to be careful when they log them in after the June event goes live.
  • The latest tier of the Runed weapons has been made available. These weapons are geared towards characters in the level 140 range, with a different set of cool effects from the earlier releases of the Runed weapons.
  • Before when you received a new title there was no notification. We realized that this can sometimes cause problems. On newer quests you will now get a notification of getting a new title and in the coming months we will attempt to add this notification on to some of the older title quests.


Miscellaneous Changes and Improvements


  • While fighting the "Extreme" and "Uber" versions of the Harbinger, the minions that help him fight would sometimes be summoned twice. These minions should now only spawn once during the fight.
  • Isin Dule's Captain's were failing to hit players when they did high attacks. This has been fixed and the captain's now make contact when they attempt high attacks.
  • For the Mukkir Awakening quest players should now speak with Riordin Nightbane instead of Sarkin Killcrane.
  • The Augmentation timer has now been moved down from 30 to 27 days.
  • On the high level section of the Glenden Wood Invasion quest it was found that the Royal Vivimancers were casting a level 7 Hetacomb spell, allowing them to potentially one-shot a player. We have removed this spell and replaced it with a less damaging spell.
  • There was an issue with elemental bows where instead of the player grasping the bow, it would appear that the bow was actually inside the hand of the player. This has been fixed and characters now actually appear to be holding the bow.
  • When we introduced allegiance names, there was a small bug that would make the name show up on the next creature you would identify after checking a players allegiance name. This would make it appear as if the creature was in an allegiance. While this was sometimes funny, it was not intended. This has been fixed for the June event.
  • There were several small typos fixed for this month.

Letter to the Players

Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=465

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June 2006 Letter to the Players


Hello there and welcome to the June 2006 edition of the Letter to the Players.

Before you read any further, we have a small trailer we have made for the June event. You can view this trailer by clicking here (6.60MB) for the smaller web friendly version, and here (50.5 MB) for the larger version.

Now lets get on to this month's Letter to the Players!

With the return of the Shadow Spire to the world and the indications that Grael has risen from the depths of his slumber, what is in store for Dereth now? Will anyone be able to stand in Grael's way? And what of Count Dardante? What side effects might he have from being in the presence of the Heart- Render?

On June 8th we attempted the first step in improving the performance of Asheron's Call. As most of you know by now, this did not exactly work out as planned. Part of what was going to be done on the 8th was replacing a lot of older hardware used by the database servers. Unfortunately for everyone a lot of the new hardware was late in arriving to the datacenter, which caused our people there to try and rush to keep with the schedule we had set. We had one person there in particular who did not leave the server room for 13 hours, while trying to get things done. To make a long story short, the work was not completed and we are still running on the setup that was in place before. What does this mean for the hardware upgrades going forward? On Thursday June 15th we had scheduled an extended downtime in addition to the normal scheduled patch day window, to complete the hardware upgrades. We have decided to change this window to make sure that things can be done right.

The Thursday June 15th downtime will now be from 8am EST 4pm EST. The following Wednesday, June 21st we will be bring the worlds down for approximately 4 hours from 10am EST 2pm EST to complete the hardware upgrade to the database servers and the world servers. We feel this is the best way to complete the upgrades with the least amount of risk to the world data.

The kickoff of Digital Distribution was a big success and while we won't get into specifics, the amount of times that the game was purchased from Direct2Drive has well exceeded our initial expectations. We are going to continue to try and bring new players into the game as well as going forward with changes and improvements to keep our existing players happy. As part of this we are pleased to announce you can now buy the digital version of the game from The Turbine store, for the same price of $19.95. We have also discounted the physical version of the game, which includes the game box, instruction manual, and the game disk. You can purchase this version for $19.95 as well.

We are focused on making sure that Asheron's Call continues to be the great game that it is now and into the future.

New Content and Updated Functionality
The latest tier of the Runed weapons has been made available. These weapons are geared towards characters in the level 140 range, with a different set of cool effects from the earlier releases of the Runed weapons.

Some of the towns around Dereth have noticed strange rumblings around the old Shadow Spire craters. Players with mules or other characters in these towns may want to be careful when they log them in after the June event goes live.

For the Mukkir Awakening quest players should now speak with Riordin Nightbane instead of Sarkin Killcrane.

The Augmentation timer has now been moved down from 30 to 27 days.

On the high level section of the Glenden Wood Invasion quest it was found that the Royal Vivimancers were casting a level 7 Hetacomb spell, allowing them to potentially one-shot a player. We have removed this spell and replaced it with a less damaging spell.

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. With each monthly event we will be discussing an in concept topic, in order to give you as much information about the item that we can.

Equipment Sets
One of the ideas that we have discussed before is the implementation of equipment sets. An equipment set would be made up of different pieces of armor that when equipped would give the character wearing the armor certain bonuses. For example; Player A has 2 pieces of a 5 piece set. When he puts on the first piece of armor, there will be no noticeable effect on the player or the armor beyond the armor's initial enchantments; however when he puts on the second piece an effect is added to the player that was not previously there. When that player then puts on the third piece, another effect or an even better version of the previous effect will be cast on the player. Each piece of this set that the player wears will improve the spell cast or to be more precise, cast an even greater spell or another spell on the person wearing the armor. If that player then removes any of those pieces the effect will be gone. The only way a player can get these special effects is by wearing the pieces with each other.

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

Video

Narrated summary of the events leading up to the release of Grael as told by Count Dardante.

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