Announcements - 2007/09 - Dark Materials

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September 2007 - Patch Page


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Dark Materials

Ardry crouched in the wide stone hallway, trying to ignore the chill in his bones. He’d found this portal, strangely unguarded and unwarded, in the middle of the Singularity Caul after the Council of Sages had asked him to investigate rumors of Elemental activity in the area.

So far, all he’d seen in this complex had been Virindi and their Hollow Minion servants. Hollow Minions were no trouble for him to avoid – their clanking limbs made them easy to detect down these long, barren corridors. The cloaked, floating Virindi were tougher to detect, but Ardry had spent enough time intruding their lairs that he’d managed to develop a legitimate “Virindi sense”. He always felt the hairs on the back of his neck prickle up if one of the sickle-wielding creatures was near.

That’s why it was such a surprise to him when, without any warning from his Virindi sense, he felt the cold touch of a blade against the back of his neck. He froze for one second as he realized what kind of a position he was in, then tensed to act. He knew he’d have to roll low to escape the Virindi’s weapon swing, and come up ready to dodge a War spell or two…

“Don’t move,” a voice whispered from behind him. “Otherwise, I’ll be forced to cut you with this blade, and you won’t enjoy full-body paralysis. People tend to soil their breeches.” It was a familiar voice, certainly not the disembodied inner-ear echo that he was used to hearing when a Virindi felt compelled to try and communicate with him. The dry humor behind the threat was also familiar.

“Adso?” he whispered.

The blade retreated and he heard a familiar snort of amusement.

“Ardy. I should have known it was you from the nervous shuffling steps near the portal outside. I could even hear you muttering ‘Oh Pwyll, not again,’ from a hundred yards behind.”

Ardry smiled wryly into the darkness, trying not to let his amusement show to the ineffable and terrifyingly competent assassin behind him. “You got me, oh silent one. I recognized you by the obsession with my soiled breeches.”

A strong hand grasped him and pulled him into the nearest room, which contained the as-yet-undiscovered corpse of the last Hollow Minion that Ardry had dispatched. He finally turned around to confront the young assassin and grinned, trying to seem more confident than he felt. Adso grinned back and gave him a friendly clap on the shoulder, but noticeably did not sheathe the poisoned dagger he’d been holding at Ardry’s neck just a moment earlier.

“What are you doing here?” Adso demanded, and just like that his demeanor was back to pure business.

“I might ask the same of you.” Ardry crossed his arms truculently, but he knew he wasn’t going to push this defiance much farther, not with horde of Virindi and Hollow Minions nearby.

Adso matched his bluff. “You tell me what you’re doing here first. It’s the polite thing to do, after I spared you the paralysis and the laundering expense. I must imagine that the washerwoman at the Smoking Axe is tired of your business. I may even decide I want to cooperate with you.”

Ardry nodded. “I was sent here by the Council of Sages to investigate Elemental activity.” He was careful to avoid mentioning the rumor of a Harbinger’s presence…

Adso regarded him warily. “Strangely enough, I was sent here to investigate Shadow activity.” The two of them stared into each other’s eyes, each confused by the other’s news.

“Then why…” Ardry began.

“Are we fighting Virindi?” Adso finished. He nodded to Ardry, as if some decision had been made. “Let’s find out together.”

Ardry blinked, unsure of how to proceed. He felt a certain kinship and respect for Adso, but he knew Adso served an amoral Master whose final loyalty was only to his own interests, who regarded the deaths of innocents as an unfortunate but perfectly acceptable expedient. Still, he could not deny how useful their assistance, freely offered, had been in the days when the realm had been threatened by the Shadow-mantled demon Grael. Adso’s master had forced a truce between two warring sects of assassins and helped bring the realms that they served into a common cause to stop the demon…

“Ardry, you’re dithering like you have a choice here. I’m making this offer because it would inconvenience me to kill you and hide your corpse from the Virindi. It would slow down my investigation. My way or the lifestone, friend.”

There was not a hint of cockiness in Adso’s voice, but a sure and certain promise. Ardry knew the truth of his claim well enough. The best he could hope for, if he resisted, would be to cause enough commotion to draw the Virindi and their Hollow Minions, spoiling Adso’s own investigation. He would almost certainly make an eternal enemy of this deadly man, who could switch from humor and jokes to cold-blooded murder without warning.

Finally, Ardry nodded. “All right. Let’s go.”

Adso grinned, sincere delight evident in his expression. “Wonderful. I would have regretted killing you. Allow me to take the point, friend.”

With that, he winked stalked forward, leading the way into the long dark corridor, poisoned dagger out in front of him. Ardry shook his head and followed.

Rollout Article

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Rollout Article

In a mist-shrouded valley between the Obsidian Plains and the Inner Sea of Dereth sat the ruins of an ancient graveyard. Shambling undead and corruption-tainted rats lurked in the cold recesses of the crypts. Wisps and ghosts glowing with malevolent energy hovered in the open spaces between gravestones. Into this nightmarish patch of land came an even stranger creature, scurrying nervously between hiding places to mask its presence from the roving groups of undead.

The figure dashed from one shadowed recess to another, seeking refuge behind the walled crypt of a long-dead (or long-undead) Dericostian nobleman. As the figure closed on its new hiding place, it tripped over an unseen rock and stumbled the last few strides to safety. Reeling and off-balance, it collided face-first with the back wall of the crypt and rebounded, falling gracelessly and landing on a patch of rocky dirt.

“Ouch!” cried Aliester the Loquacious as he hit the cold ground. A jagged chunk of marble was digging into his back, just above his kidney. His shoulder had landed on a broad and uneven slab of rock. His forehead was scratched and bleeding from his face-first meeting with the stone wall. He could feel his toe throbbing where he had stubbed it. All in all, it was the most seriously he’d been injured in the last five years, since his nephew Ardry had taken over all the field work.

Drawing a deep breath to steady himself, the aged scholar scrambled to get fully under the cover of the moldering wall. He rubbed a hand against his forehead and winced at the sight of his own blood. Suddenly he remembered his nephew’s advice to him before he’d undertaken this expedition…

“Uncle, if you really are so impatient that you must explore the graveyard before I’ve returned from the Singularity Caul, be careful to avoid the patrols, and above all make no noise.”

Aliester grimaced. He’d certainly made noise. Ardry had warned him about how suddenly one could be swarmed over in this area. In the cold night air, sweat began to bead on his brow. What had seemed like an irresistible bit of adventure was starting to turn into a nightmarish reality. He could already see the patrols moving past the hiding places he’d used to get to this spot, well within the boundaries of the graveyard… He’d already realized that getting out would likely involve the hurried use of a portal gem or a painful trip to the lifestone that he’d visited just before coming here. He could accept that, and he had the recall scroll to facilitate a quick return…

But now, if his clumsiness had alerted creatures to his presence, he might not even be able to accomplish what he’d hoped before being forced to retreat. If I achieve nothing else here, at least I got to talk to that delightful merchant, Aliester thought to himself. Maybe I should have gone to find that rat-catcher the scouts told me about first…

Hoping that he had remained unheard, he crouched against the crypt wall and peaked over the edge of the stone barrier. The first thing he saw was a glowing humanoid outline, moving swiftly in his direction. As the spirit drew closer, Aliester began to make out features: a vaguely female silhouette, wrapped in rotting Dericostian finery, and a face like a skull with glowing pale eyes… He beamed in recognition.

“Lady Tairla!” he called out to the advancing specter. With his objective in sight, he forgot all of Ardry’s warnings. He stood up to his full height and waved to the ancient Lady of House Mhoire and attempted to engage her in conversation. “You will not recognize me, but my nephew, Ardry, has paid numerous fruitless visits to this graveyard to seek you out for parlay! You have proven quite elusive for a noblewoman, my lady!” He laughed nervously as he noticed that Lady Tairla seemed not to acknowledge his attempts to speak with her. In fact, he could now sense the magical energy accumulating in her glowing hands…

“My lady!” he cried out, as a chilling blast of energy washed over him. He’d just been rendered more vulnerable to frost magic, Lady Tairla’s weapon of choice… He waved his hands in the air, desperately trying to signal his peaceful intent.

“My lady, I come in peace, to speak with you! I would ask you questions about the fall of your House at the hands of the tyrant Geraine!”

The advancing shade seemed to hiss in rage at the mention of Geraine’s name, and a frost-bolt of terrible power slammed into him, knocking him to the ground. Shuddering and shaking off ice crystals as he stood up, Aliester gritted his teeth. “Well,” he muttered to himself, reaching for a newly-purchased crystal in his belt pouch, “If a humble interlocutor seeking your vast wisdom must first duel you into submission, my lady, so be it! Mortal though I may be, I am not unschooled in the arcane arts!”

He shook back the sleeves of his robes and raised his hands to the sky. In his right hand he held his trusty wand. In his left, he crushed the crystal he’d withdrawn from the belt pouch. Immediately he felt his body flood with magical power. He felt giddy and aggressive as the mana within him seemed to boil, almost begging for release as a barrage of war magic. Unable to contain himself, Aliester grinned savagely and conjured a fireball more powerful than he had ever been able to conjure before. He cackled with unfamiliar glee as the fireball engulfed the lady’s shade and stopped her in her tracks.

The ghostly noblewoman’s light seemed to flicker momentarily, and she lifted her hands into the air. In the back of his mind, Aliester was aware that she was using some form of summoning magic, but he was too overwhelmed with the joy of his war magic mastery to pay much heed.

“I do not wish to harm you further, my lady, but I shall have no choice but to blast you again with my newly mickle powers, should you persist in this hostility! Can we not speak civilly, as fellow foes of the dread monarch Geraine?”

Lady Tairla hissed again and unleashed another frost bolt. To his own surprise, Aliester managed to dodge out of the way of that blast. Sighing regretfully, he began to channel his mana to power another fireball.

Abruptly, he felt a brutal impact in the small of his back, and his entire midsection went numb. He looked down and saw a ghostly fist protruding from his midsection. Turning his head, he found himself looking into the translucent, skull-like face of a hooded specter. One of Tairla’s handmaidens, he thought to himself. The reports did say she had servants…

The power he’d been marshalling for the fireball dissipated as he began to shiver uncontrollably. He looked down again, feeling more and more distant from himself, and saw the handmaiden’s glowing fist retract. A moment later he felt another numbing shock go through him as the handmaiden struck him with its other hand.

The world started to go dark, and Aliester was only dimly aware of the third of Lady Tairla’s ice bolts hitting him and knocking him off his feet. He was on his back, looking up into the empty eye sockets of the handmaiden as it raised its glowing fist to finish him off.

“But I never even got to see the rat-catcher…” he murmured to the handmaiden. There was not a hint of understanding in its face as its fist came crashing down.

Release Notes

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Release Notes

New Content and Updated Functionality

  • The two Harbinger Portals into Old Yanshi will now ask if you wish to return to your Harbinger fight if you have already entered the Harbinger’s Chamber. If you choose not to, you are portaled to the Tunnels.
  • You can buy Decanter of Nullified Essence from Beldin in Old Yanshi.
  • The Decanter of Nullified Essence is no longer attuned, but remains bonded.
  • Beldin also sells a Guide to the Harbinger now.( This guide just tells players how to run the various fights)
  • The pillars of Fire/Frost/Acid/Lightning have had the incorrect creature type. They were previously listed as crystals. They will now be listed as Elementals.
  • Composite Atlatls will become Bonded/Attuned/Ivoryable this month. So people will need to move them wherever they should be moved before the patch.
  • The book on composite Atlatls previously did not mention that you could remove the handle from existing Atlatls with a Whittling Knife. This has been fixed and the book now has the correct instructions.
  • Based on player feedback, we have increased the Gland drop rate on the Olthoi.
  • There was an unintended perching location in the room where you fight the Prodigal Olthoi Queen. This has been fixed, and players can no longer perch on this particular location.
  • A new dungeon has appeared somewhere on the Singularity Caul. Reports are sporadic at this point, but many feel this may be connected in some way to the strange creature activity going on over the last few months.
  • Reports coming out of the Harbinger tunnels about some very strange activity that may need further investigation.
  • Some changes have been made to The Graveyard. Some drop rates have been improved and the treasure profiles of some creatures have been upgraded.

In Concept/Game Discussion

In months past we have has used this section to discuss things that are either slated to go into the game, or things that we are thinking of putting in the game. This time we are going to use it to solicit a little feedback from you, the players.

I know this has been asked before, but we are going to ask again. What quests are on your top 10 list for the rewards needing an XP increase? In this particular case we are looking for older quests, perhaps the ones that have not seen some love in a long time. Remember all those quests you went through as a new player, which may have not seen any attention for a long time now? A member on the team has agreed to the task of upping some rewards in some of the older content. Just so we are clear, the intent of this project is not to redo any of the dungeons/quests themselves, but to just increase the rewards associated with those quests. Click here to make your suggestions.

We would love to do a total revamp of a lot of those older quests, but we have to manage our time very carefully. Changing the rewards is a much easier, less time consuming task that will allow us to get more traffic into some of those older, less frequently used areas. If you are interested in helping the team determine what quests need some reward love, please feel free to post your suggestions here.

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