Announcements - 2007/01 - Bridging the Vast Divide

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January 2007 - Patch Page

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Teaser

Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=508

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Bridging the Vast Divide


In the wooded mountain slopes of northern Osteth, not far from the mines of Baron Colier, Prince Borelean fought for his life. Alone in the wilderness, away from the older warrior who had escorted him into the forest, he had had been set upon by a pair of hulking, snake-headed Sclavus. Each was armed with a long, curving, single-edged blade, similar in design to the tachis that were popular among the Sho, and each bore a heavy iron kite shield, which they had used expertly to force the prince to give ground until he was backed against a tree, with no way to escape except to fight through his foes.

The prince was a superbly trained fighter, blessed with his mother's keen reflexes and a growing portion of his father's prodigious strength, but his endurance was flagging, his shield arm was aching from the repeated shock of impact, and he was at a disadvantage against two strong foes with superior height and reach. A powerful side-cut from one of those heavy swords had dented the side of his black steel breastplate and cracked one of his ribs, and his breath was coming harder by the moment.

Finally, a break in the fight came, as the Sclavus to his right took a step back and spread its arms wide to begin casting a spell. The Sclavus to his left launched a series of wild swings at him to keep his attention and provide cover for the spellcaster. Borelean had no intention of allowing these creatures to use any of their foul magic on him. He shield-checked the one on the left to create some space and brought his sword whipping down on the skull of the one on the right. The sword cleaved deep into the creature's skull, and stuck there. The Sclavus stopped its spellcasting and collapsed to the ground, dead, but the prince's sword came with it.

Before Borelean could stop to try and pull the sword from the skull of his fallen foe, the other Sclavus slammed home with another attack, cracking painfully into his shoulder. Again, his black plate armor absorbed most of the blow and kept his flesh intact, but the sheer brute strength behind the attack dented his armor again and sent a shock of impact reverberating through his whole body. Borelean felt his head go light and felt the strength go out of his shield arm, and through the haze of pain and disorientation, he was dimly aware of the remaining Sclavus rearing up to take another monstrous swing at him.

In an instant, the prince shook off the cobwebs in his head, dropped the dead weight of his shield, and dove sideways over the corpse of the Sclavus he'd just brained. He rolled and landed in a crouch a couple of strides away from the Sclavus. The snake-headed monster hissed in rage and advanced, shield out in guard position and sword poised to strike again. Thinking quickly, Borelean drew the dagger from his belt, waited for just the right moment... And then he sprang upwards, mustering all the strength he had left in him after this exhausting battle.

The fierce, well-timed lunge brought him under the Sclavus's defenses, and his aim with the dagger was true. Driven with all his remaining strength, the point entered just behind the creature's chin and punched upward through its skull and brain. The Sclavus seemed to sigh, and then its arms went limp and it toppled forward. Borelean was too surprised to get out of the way, and he felt twin blazes of agony from his ribs and shoulder as he hit the ground with the dead brute on top of him.

The prince ended up buried in the snow under twenty stone of dead, stinking Sclavus, with gore and viscera dripping onto his face and chest. He groaned in pain, wondering how he'd escape his predicament. Surely there would be other Sclavus coming around soon, or perhaps a wandering Tanada assassin who would be only too happy to slit his throat. He wondered where his companion was, the older man who'd escorted him into the woods after he announced his intention to get a look at the ritual site a few days in advance. He had been hoping to see Hoshino Kei there as she finished preparing the site, but this fight with Sclavus had ended any hopes he had of catching up with her.

His question about his companion's whereabouts was answered by a slow clapping above him. The older man was perched in the branches of the very tree that he'd backed up against during the fight, and he was laughing.

"Pwyll's moldering hide, where did you go?" the prince yelled, though he could barely draw breath under the weight of his dead enemy.

"I gave you some space to fight on your own, lad," was the man's cheerful response. "Very well done. Really a terrible job of strike control with the first one, but good work with the dagger there at the end. Nice way to think and react quickly to adverse conditions. Reminds me of this one warlord I killed, back in Morain Province, after I took out his bodyguard..."

"I'm sure it's a great story, but what if those things had killed me?"

"They wouldn't have killed you. I was watching and ready the whole time. I just wanted to see you deal with unexpected odds."

"Certainly unexpected... I know these woods... Never seen anything that powerful out here..."

"And it was worthwhile to have you fight something totally unexpected. You know more about yourself now than if you'd been surprised by some clumsy, hairy red ape. You're already comfortable fighting those things. But here, you found yourself outnumbered against a pair of foes that were easily your physical equal, without the backup you assumed you'd have. That's real fighting, Highness."

"So this was all part of some plan?" Borelean wheezed as he asked this question, but his incredulity came through loud and clear.

The older man laughed. "I hadn't planned this, Highness. You overestimate my deviousness. I simply took advantage of an unexpected windfall. And as for whether or not I could have saved you if one of those snakes had gotten a chance for a true killing blow..." His hand flashed, and all of a sudden there were three quivering daggers stuck in the corpse of the first fallen Sclavus. The body twitched as electrical energy coursed through it. "I could have done the second one just as easily, but I thought you'd find it unpleasant, since it's still on top of you and all."

Borelean wasn't convinced that the older man could actually have saved him from a mortal blow, but the point wasn't worth arguing any more. "Please just get me out from under this thing," he said, calmer now.

The man leaped out of the tree, landing lightly in the snow nearby. "As you command, Highness," he smirked. "I'm not even going to lecture you further about getting your sword stuck in your opponent's head. You know what you did wrong there."

The older man quickly rolled the corpse off the prince and helped him back to his feet. He examined Borelean's shoulder and side. "Dislocated shoulder, broken rib. Honorable wounds, and a pretty light toll for combat with such deadly opponents," he pronounced. "At least they didn't disfigure your pretty face."

Borelean scowled but didn't rise to the bait. He concentrated on his Focus of Verdancy to draw mana together and heal his wounds. The gore and the dents on his armor would lead to questions when he returned to the palace, but he had more important questions on his mind now.

The prince looked up the hill. The four towers of the ritual site were just a few hundred yards further north and up the slope, and he realized it probably wasn't a coincidence that these out-of-place Sclavus had assaulted him near the ritual site. "Those Sclavus are generally servants of the Falatacot," he said, more to himself than to his companion. "They must be here to disrupt the ritual. Let's go."

He dashed up the hill, and the older man had no choice but to follow him. About a hundred yards away from the southernmost tower, the older man stopped and put a cautioning hand on the prince's uninjured soldier. "Do you smell that?" he asked, his face tense. "There's a stink in the air... Foulness... Decay..."

"I don't smell a thing," Borelean said, but he could sense something wrong in the area. With his budding geomantic powers, he could feel a disturbance in the lines of power that emanated from the ritual site. They came closer, stepping cautiously, and the older man lost his careless demeanor.

Finally they came to the edge of the clearing that contained the four towers and the ritual platform. With a growing sense of dread, Borelean dashed to each of the towers. He found the ritual golem still serving its lonely vigil, and there were no signs of blood or struggle to indicate that Kei had been attacked here, but...

"The orbs are missing," he said. He looked at his companion. "Best make yourself scarce. I have to return to the palace immediately and bring reinforcements. I won't tell them you were with me." With his good hand, he drew a portal gem from his belt pouch, then looked at the tracks in the snow behind them. He hesitated.

The older man studied his face, then glanced at the portal gem in Borelean's hand. He answered the prince's unspoken question. "Yes, old Tharnoch will be smart enough to see the two tracks and start asking some questions. I'll conceal my tracks when you're gone. Just go, lad. Go take care of your responsibilities. We're done with our ranging. You did well, and I'd never say different."

Apprehensive, Borelean turned away and crushed the gem on the ground. Just before he was pulled into portalspace, he turned again for one last look at his deadly, untrustworthy mentor. But the man was gone, and not even the prints of his boots remained in the snow where he had been standing.

Rollout Article

Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=511

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Rollout Article


Ardry watched the steam waft off the bowl of hot, fragrant tea before him. He closed his eyes briefly and opened them back up, half-expecting to wake up in front of his lifestone with the taste of blood and dirt in his mouth. No such awakening occurred. He was still in the modest but immaculate home of Ben Ten, sharing a bowl of tea with the legendary protector of Dereth's early human settlements. He'd already spent half an hour discussing his adventures in acquiring and decoding the clues Asheron had left behind, but there was still something so surreal about being in the home of a living legend that it all did seem like a dream to him.

The old woman watched him with a knowing smile. "Please, Ardry, enjoy your tea before it cools. It is perfectly drinkable this soon after serving. I do not scald my tea leaves with boiling water like your Aluvian innkeeps always seem to do." Her eyes twinkled with humor, but he was too distracted to catch it.

He bobbed his head nervously, took the bowl in his hands, and slowly, reverently, sipped the tea. The tea was good, with a more subtle flavor than he was used to. It did not fill him with any kind of mystical calm, but it did warm him up after he'd spent several hours trekking through the wilderness to find Ben Ten's small hut.

"As I was saying, my lady, I am glad my notes and observations have been helpful in your efforts to locate Asheron."

Ben Ten sipped her own tea and nodded. "Most helpful indeed. Your notes were critical to our efforts. But please, do not call me 'lady'. I am just an old soldier." She laughed merrily at this description. "Please just call me Ben Ten."

Ardry nodded. "As you wish, my, uh, Ben Ten." He flushed in embarrassment. "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

He meant the question in a perfunctory, polite way. But he saw her eyes brighten in response to his question, and he suddenly became aware that she was not here just to drink tea with him and review his notes on Asheron's ciphers. Even as she began speaking, Ardry imagined he could hear a trap springing shut on him.

"As a matter of fact, Ardry, I would ask your assistance again, though it pains me to further impose on you." She did look honestly regretful, and that helped. A little bit.

Ardry shook his head. "Please, Ben Ten, it would be an honor to further serve. I am sure you wouldn't ask unless it was urgent."

She nodded enthusiastically. "You are quite right. Your selflessness is a credit to your uncle, who always speaks so highly of you."

Ardry's eyes widened. "You speak with my Uncle?"

"Oh yes. A fascinating conversationalist, is he not? He is a man of great learning, filled with knowledge.

"He's filled with something, all right. But I didn't mean to change the subject. How can I help?"

"I would ask you to venture into hostile territory once more, Ardry. There are few who have the skill and the prior experience to do what I would ask..."

Ardry nodded knowingly. "You want me to go to Bur and find Asheron, right?"

Ben Ten laughed. "Ardry, do not get ahead of yourself. Half the realm will head to Bur. There will be many stout warriors, powerful mages, and clever adventurers hot on Asheron's trail. I would ask you to do something else, here on Dereth, which will not be as glamorous as journeying to another world to find our lost benefactor."

Ardry flushed again, embarrassed by his presumption that somehow he'd be asked to be the hero who found Asheron. "I understand, and I apologize for interrupting. Please, go on."

Ben Ten reached forward and patted his hand gently. "Don't feel bad, Ardry. I'm the one who ought to feel bad for asking you to go into the mountains and seek out more Tanada."

Ardry almost dropped his tea bowl. "More Tanada?"

"The Tanada have not ceased their activities just because the rest of Dereth is preoccupied with Bur and Asheron's disappearance," Ben Ten said.

Ardry grimaced. "I suppose it would have been too much to hope for." He felt a familiar sense of resignation as he contemplated the idea of another encounter with the vicious Nanjou Shou-Jen of the Tanada clan.

Ben Ten watched him and laughed softly. "I am sorry, Ardry, I am not laughing at your expense... Not truly. It's just that I saw this sense of calm and acceptance come over you. It normally takes a great deal of meditation for a person to become that comfortable with pending danger."

Ardry smiled grimly and took a long drink from his tea bowl. "That's my gift, I guess. I've got a preternatural ability to be at peace with the thought of a violent and messy death."

Ben Ten suddenly turned very serious and grabbed his hand. "Do not underestimate the value of such a gift, Ardry the Dubious. It is a gift, believe that."

Suddenly scared, Ardry sat back. He and Ben Ten drank the rest of their tea in silence.

Release Notes

Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=510

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Developer's Notes


New content and Functionality


  • In the past, players have asked for a schedule when we run important, story-based live-ops. We do listen, and so we are providing the schedule of the various runs of the Portal to Bur live-op. All live-ops will run at 10 PM Eastern Standard Time. The dates of the live-op are as follows:


January 22: Leafcull
January 23: Solclaim
January 24: Thistledown
January 25: Morningthaw
January 29: Wintersebb
January 30: Frostfell
January 31: Harvestgain
February 1: Verdantine
February 2: Darktide

  • Please note that Prince Borelean will want the portal site as prepared as possible on the day of the ritual. If the site is not ready, there may be delays so that the portal site may be prepared. As for what constitutes preparedness, we encourage players to log into the game and find out!
  • Snow Lilies are now hookable on yard and floor hooks.
  • The message that players get about the timer on housing can be a bit confusing. The message that players got before was: Housing cannot be purchased by accounts less than 15 days old. This message has been changed to: You may not purchase housing until your account has been active on this game world for 15 days. This will hopefully clear up any confusion regarding the purchase of housing.


Miscellaneous Changes and Improvements


  • In the Finding Asheron string of quests, players are not informed they are working towards accessing the location of Asheron. This has been changed and the rumors players get for the quests now allude to them having more of a purpose, as well as clarifying the level breaks on the quests.
  • There was an issue with one of the decoy goblets on the Following Asheron's Trail quest where it had the same description as the actual goblet players needed to get, This was causing confusion to some people running the quest. This has been fixed and the description is no longer the same.
  • After reading feedback from players on the forums as well as speaking to the team, we feel the XP yield on the Caul should be returned to its original numbers. A couple of years ago the xp was lowered because it was too high. We had originally said this would not make it in until the February event; however the team was able to make this adjustment for the January event
  • The Ruschk on the Dark Isle that are supposed to be listed as Undead are now the proper creature type. Previously they were marked as regular Ruschk instead of Undead.

Letter to the Players

Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=507

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January Letter to the Players


Hello there and welcome to the January 2007 Letter to the players!

The search for Asheron intensifies as the people of Dereth continue to seek out his location. Through the gathering of various clues we have discovered that Asheron is somewhere on the planet Bur. The problem we have now is how do we get to this distant world and what do we do once we are there? Who will help us find Asheron and bring him back home?

January Live Ops
The voices of the town criers ring out across the land, announcing that Prince Borelean Strathelar will be attempting to summon a portal to the world of Bur in an attempt to find Asheron, who is suspected to be in the clutches of the vile Falatacot. All men and women of stout heart are asked to assist if they can, as he believes that there may be opposition from the Falatacot and their servants. King Varicci has stated publically that he will neither support nor hinder this effort, feeling it beneath his notice, and that individuals loyal to Viamont may choose to support this effort if they wish.

In the past, players have asked for a schedule when we run important, story-based live-ops. We do listen, and so we are providing the schedule of the various runs of the Portal to Bur live-op. All live-ops will run at 10 PM Eastern Standard Time. The dates of the live-op are as follows:

January 22: Leafcull
January 23: Solclaim
January 24: Thistledown
January 25: Morningthaw
January 29: Wintersebb
January 30: Frostfell
January 31: Harvestgain
February 1: Verdantine
February 2: Darktide

Please note that Prince Borelean will want the portal site as prepared as possible on the day of the ritual. If the site is not ready, there may be delays so that the portal site may be prepared. As for what constitutes preparedness, we encourage players to log into the game and find out!

Caul Isle XP
After reading feedback from players on the forums as well as speaking to the team, we feel the XP yield on the Caul should be returned to its original numbers. A couple of years ago the xp was lowered because it was too high. We had originally said this would not make it in until the February event; however the team was able to make this adjustment for the January event

Housing timer clarification
The message that players get about the timer on housing can be a bit confusing. The message that players got before was: Housing cannot be purchased by accounts less than 15 days old. This message has been changed to: You may not purchase housing until your account has been active on this game world for 15 days. This will hopefully clear up any confusion regarding the purchase of housing.

Quest Changes
In the Finding Asheron string of quests, players are not informed they are working towards accessing the location of Asheron. This has been changed and the rumors players get for the quests now allude to them having more of a purpose, as well as clarifying the level breaks on the quests.

There was an issue with one of the decoy goblets on the Following Asheron's Trail quest where it had the same description as the actual goblet players needed to get, This was causing confusion to some people running the quest. This has been fixed and the description is no longer the same.

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.

In-Game Mail System
We want to continue to update Asheron's Call with more features that allow the gameplay experience to evolve. To that end, one of the things we are investigating is the addition of an in-game mail system. This would work in the same way that it does in most other games. You would be able to send a limited number of items, money, or text notes to other players online or offline. Ideally this system would work by simply clicking on special mailboxes located throughout the landscape to open your mail interface. Right now this is still in the investigation stage of development, but it is something that we would love to make available to our players.

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