Announcements - 2007/03 - Ancient Enemies

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March 2007 - Patch Page

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Teaser

Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=519

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Ancient Enemies


Ardry crouched in the cover of a stand of trees, watching the distant light of an abandoned campfire burn down to cinders. He'd been waiting since sundown for the ostensible occupant of this camp, a scholar from Zaikhal named Meshenq, to make an appearance. He knew that Meshenq was here to investigate reports of Tanada assassins appearing in the southern land bridge area, and so it would have been natural to expect the scholar to be gone for hours at a time. Even so, the guttering campfire made Ardry suspicious. His years of exploring the wild lands of Dereth had helped him develop an unexplainable but undeniably accurate "danger sense". He was beginning to come to the conclusion that Meshenq's absence from this camp was not explained by the scholar's zeal for exploration.

Muttering a prayer to distant Isparian gods, Ardry drew his sword and stepped cautiously out of cover. There was no answering activity from the camp or from the woods surrounding the camp. Somewhat reassured, Ardry slowly approached the tent, eyes and ears alert for any sign of danger.

Meshenq had set up his camp on a patch of sandy white ground in the middle of a light forest. As Ardry approached, the light of the moon illuminated some footprints in the sand, heading west from the camp. Ardry's worst suspicions were confirmed when he came closer. Dark, dried blood was mixed in with the footprints. The earth was disturbed and kicked up all around the campfire, showing signs of combat or at least a struggle. Finally, as Ardry examined the area nearer the tent, he found a large, black stain where a great deal of blood had been spilled on the ground, hours before.

With still no enemy presence found in the area, Ardry sheathed his sword, gathered a few more sticks and logs, and sat down by the fire. He carefully built the fire back up from its guttering embers while he considered the evidence he'd found and tried to decide his next course of action.

It was certainly possible that the great gout of blood had sprung from the body of one of Meshenq's foes, and not from the scholar's own body. However, when Ben Ten had asked Ardry to come out here and meet with Meshenq to coordinate their efforts, she had spoken of the scholar as "well-read" on the subjects of wilderness survival and personal defense, but not possessed of much practical experience. Ardry snorted at the idea of someone being well-read on wilderness survival and combat. Meshenq was no warrior. He might know how to identify a hundred different healing herbs and he might have seen a diagram of the proper stance for staff-fighting, but if he had encountered the trained killers of the Tanada clan out here, the blood was almost certainly Meshenq's own.

And if Meshenq had truly been slain here and planned to return, he would have gotten back here within the hours that Ardry spent observing an empty camp. Since he had not returned, Ardry reasoned, it was highly likely that he had chosen to lick his wounds in his hometown of Zaikhal or in the much nearer Gharu'n town of Qalaba'r. As he coaxed life back into the fire, Ardry muttered to himself.

"Imagine you're a scholar, Ardry. A lifelong ink-sniffing, paper-shuffling academic like Uncle Aliester. What do you do when you go into the mountains on a dangerous, exciting field trip to find those enigmatic Tanada, and end up getting murdered by them?" He snorted as he used a stick to prod a thick log into a better position on the fire, then continued his monologue.

"You probably count your trip an 'unqualified success' and sit in a tavern for the next six weeks trying to come up with fancy words to describe how much you learned about the Tanada when they sliced you open from stem to stern with their historically fascinating ancestral blades... You'd probably be very proud of yourself and the sacrifice you made for the sake of knowledge, while field-testing and follow-up of your neat conclusions gets left to some fool who's too used to getting murdered in the name of other people's knowledge..."

Ardry snorted, smiling at his own bitterness. He'd never voiced any of these sentiments to his Uncle Aliester, whose own impressive academic credentials on Dereth had been built largely on Ardry's willingness to brave death and dismemberment for the sake of discovery. Such criticisms were likely to go over (or under) his uncle's head, and so he saved his angry tirades for these occasions in the wilds when no one else was around to hear.

After a few minutes, Ardry had built the fire back up to a healthy crackling blaze. He'd be able to see it and find his way back to it from a long distance, even through the trees. That task completed, he turned his back to the fire and stared out into the west, allowing his eyes to grow accustomed to the dark again. As he waited, he spent a few minutes honing the edge of his sword. His previous encounters with the Tanada and their implausibly sharp blades had made him vaguely self-conscious of the condition in which he kept his own weapons. It was almost as if he'd imagined the Tanada examining his weapons after they killed him, and laughing behind their masks in mockery of the foolish Aluvian with the dull, notched blades.

When he was satisfied with his night vision and with the sharpness of his blade, Ardry slipped off into the woods, heading west from the camp. He hadn't gone very far before he caught sight of a familiar reddish glow in the woods ahead. Suspecting he'd found a new Tanada training school, Ardry circled around and approached from the south. As he got closer, however, he caught scent of something that gave him pause. There was a sharp, metallic odor in the wind, a smell that reminded him of some of the reconnaissance missions he'd undertaken years before, when investigating the Virindi and the renegades who had split off from the Virindi...

"This can't be right," Ardry muttered to himself, as he crouched near the base of a large evergreen just a stone's throw from the swirling portal. "Why would they... I mean, what would they..."

A sudden, terrible thought occurred to him just then, something about the inadvisability of talking out loud to oneself when approaching a hive full of Nanjou Shou-Jen or possibly worse things. He spun around and straightened up on that sudden premonition of danger, and came face to face with one of the masked assassins. This one was not dressed like the other Tanada that Ardry had encountered before. His clothes were a dark, shimmering blue instead of the normal black. Strange scaly textures covered the limbs of the Tanada's outfit...

Before Ardry could act to defend himself, the Tanada jabbed a blade into his stomach. He gasped, suddenly unable to make his limbs move. He tottered on his feet, held up only by the firm hand that held a blade hilt-deep in his guts. His chest convulsed and he coughed up blood right in the assassin's face. The assassin's gaze remained devoid of emotion even as Ardry's blood spattered his mask and eyes. Ardry tried to get some kind of reaction from the Tanada as he smiled and murmured through bloody teeth, "So... sharp..."

Without even frowning or narrowing his eyes, the Tanada twisted the blade, and Ardry saw no more before the lurching pull of portalspace took him away and brought him back to his lifestone.

Rollout Article

Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=523

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Rollout Article


Adso crested the hill and took a deep breath. The swirling winds at that elevation brought the scent of evergreen forests and crisp mountain air to his nostrils, carrying a hint of winter thaw and spring growth. It was a welcome change from the stench of gore and corruption that clung to his equipment, to his clothing, and to his skin. Down in the plains and canyons, where the wind was less active, he'd been smelling that same stink for almost a full day, since their long run out of the Direlands. Scrubbing with sand and water had removed the worst of the smell, but an unnatural stench remained. He grimaced as the young acolyte Sabithra came up to stand next to him, and subjected him to her own ripe miasma of graveyard odors.

"You're not still mad about that rat attack, are you?" Sabithra asked, as they looked out over the Gharu'n town of Qalaba'r. The sun was setting to their left and it cast the picturesque town in a dramatic golden light.

Adso paused for a moment, and tried to imagine himself speaking with the same cool detachment as their Master. "Suffice it to say that, until further notice, you won't be left alone any more. And once we get back to Master's compound, you'll be restricted from these long rangings."

Sabithra protested. "Master's instructions were to thoroughly scout the graveyard, Elder Brother, and that's what I tried to do."

"We could have scouted it thoroughly after I got back. Without you getting in over your head fighting those things. Without you abandoning our camp to those disgusting rats. They chewed up my extra boots and fouled my rations, damn it."

"I didn't think the rats would roam that far. And when I left camp it was still daylight, I thought it would be safe to go for a short while..."

"Perhaps if you'd spent any time at all observing their movements before abandoning your watch to gallivant through that graveyard yourself, you might have been able to anticipate the danger from the roving pack of giant, diseased rats." His voice rose in anger.

"How many times must I apologize for that? I truly am sorry, Elder Brother." Adso glanced at her, examining her with keen eyes, honed by Master's training. She was not yet disciplined enough to conceal her smirk or hide the amusement in her tone.

"It's not about being sorry, Acolyte. It's about your brothers, sisters, and Master himself not being able to trust you to keep a simple watch." Adso's tone dripped with contempt, particularly as he called her "Acolyte" instead of referring to her by her name.

"There were strange things going on in that graveyard. I wanted to investigate what those undead were up to, and I thought that things would be over before you got back from your own scouting trip. I displayed initiative, Elder Brother! Like Master always encourages you to do!"

"Master encourages me to take initiative because I've proven myself to him. It's a privilege you must earn, Acolyte. For now it's apparent to me that you have not yet earned that trust. And Master will trust me enough to believe me when I tell him that you're not ready to go on a solo ranging."

Sabithra frowned, started to retort, thought better of it, and very obviously bit back whatever she was about to say. She continued to seethe, however. Adso caught note of her expression. "Feel fortunate that I didn't kill you there and send you back to the lifestone directly to answer Master's questions," he said. "Or leave you to the rats and the undead."

Sabithra bowed, finally seeming to accept his rebuke. They stood watching Qalaba'r for a few more minutes. Finally, Adso started down the slope towards the town.

As she walked two paces behind him, Sabithra piped up again. "It was a fascinating place though, wasn't it? It's not on any of those maps you drew..."

Adso nodded stiffly. "It wasn't there before. I've covered every inch of the Direlands, by myself or with Master. I remember scouting that location less than a year ago. I swear that there was no evidence of this graveyard then. It's almost as if some force dragged it out of the ground..." He paused, then shook his head. "You'll get used to it, Acolyte. This island holds more secrets than you can imagine. Enough secrets to drive you mad."

"How old was that graveyard?"

"Ancient. Older than almost anything else I've come across. Master will certainly want a detailed report when we get back." He paused. "You fought well there, Sabithra. And courageously. I must give you that."

Sabithra smiled at that, immeasurably cheered by Elder Brother's unexpected praise and his use of her name.

As they came upon the outskirts of Qalaba'r, Sabithra spotted a group of desert rabbits in a clump of underbrush by the road. Thinking that some rabbit stew would make a tasty meal for tonight's camp, she whipped a pair of throwing knives into the bushes. Two simultaneous squeaks sounded out as the knives found their marks, and the remaining rabbits scattered, fleeing deeper into the forest.

Adso sighed. "Was that truly necessary? Again you strike without permission."

Sabithra grinned mischievously. "I thought I'd make some fine rabbit slippers to compensate you for the damage the rats did to your boots, Elder Brother." She strode quickly towards the bushes and knelt, reaching in to part the undergrowth and seek out the rabbits she'd killed.

"Oh! They're just babies!" Her disappointment was evident in her tone. She leaned further into the bushes. "What's this then? There's another..."

Adso heard a familiar high-pitched snarling noise from the bushes, and the sound made him pale with remembered terror. Even as he reached for his sword and charged forward, Sabithra screamed.

Release Notes

Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=522

Archive Turbine 2005 center image.jpg

March 2007 Developer's Notes


New content and Functionality

  • With April 1st falling during the time of the March event, expect some fun and surprises this month
  • With the return of spring, we are seeing the return of the baby rabbits to landscape. Those little guys always like to get a head start on things.
  • Asheron has returned home and has once again made his island open to the people of Dereth, make sure that you stop by and pay him a visit.


Colosseum Changes

Some changes have been made to the Colosseum. Here is a list of the changes that have been made for the March event. Please note that any creature changes were only made to those who appear in the Colosseum.

Arena battle 13

  • Replaced the second Carenzi fight with a Tukora Lugian fight


Swarm Demons

  • Lowered the AL on Olthoi Swarm Demons


Golem Crystal Lord

  • Balanced the Golem Crystal Lord so that it can be hit by Melee/Magic/Missile
  • Rebalanced Golem Crystal Lord's resistances and AL, it should be friendlier to melee characters
  • Removed the Crystal Lord's ability to counteract enchantments and limited his self buffs


Elite Guardians

  • Reduced the Elite Guardian's regen rate slightly


Ninjas

  • Increased the Ninja fight by 2 Ninjas
  • Ninjas now wield a number of elemental tachis instead of just frost
  • Ninjas have lower resistances now


Tusker Annihilators

  • Tusker Annihilators have lower AL and are more resistant to Bludgeon attacks


Wisps

  • Wisps no longer drop treasure


Thunder Chicken

  • Thunder Chicken now has a visible electric aura
  • Lowered the Resistance values of the Thunder Chicken, which makes it harder to damage with those damage types


General

  • Corrected Colosseum NPCs use of the word "Dericost"
  • Master Arbitrator returns your ticket if your fellowship already has access to a Colosseum Arena
  • Fixed the Colosseum Chest. The chest should no longer lock itself before you have had a chance to loot it
  • The amount of XP that the Master Arbitrator gives you for the Empyrean Rings has been increased
  • When a Colosseum Arena is in use an Arena Statue appears behind the Arbitrator now. This statue lets players know that its Arena is in use and when used the statue will inform the player how long the Arena has left before it becomes available again.
  • Alarms in the Arenas now countdown in a more useful way. They inform players each minute for the last 5 minutes how much time they have left.


Miscellaneous Changes and Improvements

  • Currently, players are locked out of the Lower Catacomb and the Ley Line Cavern when they have completed the quest. This should be fixed for March
  • Spring is in the air and the snow has all melted away.
  • The Festival decorations have finally been removed from Glenden Wood

Letter to the Players

Original Link (now dead) - http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=520

Archive Turbine 2005 center image.jpg

March 2007 Letter to the Players


Hello there and welcome to the March 2007 Letter to the Players! The people of Dereth have once again rallied together for a greater cause and they have freed the great Asheron from his prison. With Asheron free, the time has come for him to insure that something like this does not happen again.

Colosseum Changes

Some changes have been made to the Colosseum. Here is a list of the changes that have been made for the March event. Please note that any creature changes were only made to those who appear in the Colosseum.


Arena battle 13

- Replaced the second Carenzi fight with a Tukora Lugian fight


Swarm Demons

- Lowered the AL on Olthoi Swarm Demons


Golem Crystal Lord

- Balanced the Golem Crystal Lord so that it can be hit by Melee/Magic/Missile
- Rebalanced Golem Crystal Lord's resistances and AL, it should be friendlier to melee characters
- Removed the Crystal Lord's ability to counteract enchantments and limited his self buffs


Elite Guardians

- Reduced the Elite Guardian's regen rate slightly


Ninjas

- Increased the Ninja fight by 2 Ninjas
- Ninjas now wield a number of elemental tachis instead of just frost
- Ninjas have lower resistances now


Tusker Annihilators

- Tusker Annihilators have lower AL and are more resistant to Bludgeon attacks

Wisps

- Wisps no longer drop treasure


Thunder Chicken

- Thunder Chicken now has a visible electric aura
- Lowered the Resistance values of the Thunder Chicken, which makes it harder to damage with those damage types


General

- Corrected Colosseum NPCs use of the word "Dericost"
- Master Arbitrator returns your ticket if your fellowship already has access to a Colosseum Arena
- Fixed the Colosseum Chest. The chest should no longer lock itself before you have had a chance to loot it
- The amount of XP that the Master Arbitrator gives you for the Empyrean Rings has been increased
- When a Colosseum Arena is in use an Arena Statue appears behind the Arbitrator now. This statue lets players know that its Arena is in use and when used the statue will inform the player how long the Arena has left before it becomes available again.
- Alarms in the Arenas now countdown in a more useful way. They inform players each minute for the last 5 minutes how much time they have left.


Changes and Updates

Currently, players are locked out of the Lower Catacomb and the Ley Line Cavern when they have completed the quest. This should be fixed for March

With April 1st falling during the time of the March event, expect some fun and surprises this month

Spring is in the air and the snow has all melted away.

With the return of spring, we are seeing the return of the baby rabbits to landscape. Those little guys always like to get a head start on things.

Asheron has returned home and has once again made his island open to the people of Dereth. Make sure that you stop by and pay him a visit.

Recent Tech Improvments
Normally this point of the LttP would be used for the in concept section. This month we are going to do things a little differently. We are going to take this opportunity to look at some of the newer tech that has been added to the game in the last few months. This does not mean that we do not have many other things still in concept, this is just a little break from the norm to help show off some of the less noticed features that have been added to the game recently.

One of the newer things we have been able to add to the game is the ability for NPC's to be able to check your inventory for specific items. So for example NPC A wants to know if you have collected ten of the special item. You use the NPC and he/she can now determine if you have in fact collected the items in question. This means that in some cases, instead of having to hand in every item, you can now just talk to the NPC and let them check it, which leads to another new tech item... NPC's being able to take a needed item from your inventory.

When an NPC can take an item from your inventory it allows us to be more creative in what a player would need to get in terms of items to complete a quest. This tech also makes it easier on the players. In the past, after collecting an item or items, players would then have to click and drag an item over to the corresponding NPC in order to advance the quest they are on. Often this would cause problems with completing a quest due to any number of issues. With this new tech, this is no longer the case.

In the coming weeks we will be able to discuss some of the newer tech that players may notice in the March update.

So there are just some of the newer things that have made it in to the game the last couple of months. As we continue to expand on what we thought was not possible, new options will open up for the team as to what we can do in the next few months and beyond.

Please remember that along with everything listed here, there are several new quests and exciting things going into the game for the March event.
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