Announcements - 2007/11 - Children of the Prodigal Lord

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November 2007 - Patch Page


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Children of the Prodigal Lord

A cold wind blew from the north into Ayan Baqur, bringing the chill of winter even to this desert town. Crouched by the side of the Smoking Axe tavern in an effort to keep warm, Ulgrim the Unpleasant shivered and mournfully tapped his empty mug against the ground.

“An empty mug is a shame forever,” he muttered to himself. Sensing movement in the corner of his eye, he looked up. The moon was full and very bright tonight, bathing the entire town in a surreal silver glow that seemed very appropriate to the chill in the air. In this light, he saw a figure wrapped in a voluminous cowled robe, coming out of the scribe's building. The figure paused, twisting uncertainly. Then he seemed to notice the old man staring at him from the front of the tavern. He started walking toward the tavern with a preternaturally smooth stride that reminded Ulgrim somehow of a predator stalking prey.

As the hooded stranger approached, Ulgrim banged his mug on the ground to get his attention. “Spare a mug of stout for a lonely old man? My family are a bunch of prats and won't support me in my dotage. Mercy, mercy, a pint for an old man…”

No one in town had believed his beggar act for years, but this stranger might yet… The stranger stepped in front of him and stopped, obviously inspecting him. Even up close, Ulgrim could make out very little of the person's physical form, except that whoever he was, he was big. Almost as tall as some of those mutant Viamontian Knights… From toe to fingertips, he was wrapped in clothing or strips of cloth so that not a patch of skin showed. The only visible detail was a pair of bright, icy pale eyes, glowing almost obscenely in the shadowed blankness of the stranger's hood.

“What… is your name and why do you require intoxicants?” the stranger asked him, in a heavy accent that Ulgrim, well-traveled as he was, could not place. His voice was heavy and resonant.

“I'm Ulgrim, the smartest man in these parts, and I require intoxicants to make me intoxicated. Any other bright questions, or are you going to get me a pint?”

“I wish to know how you were able to see through my seeming.”

“See through your what-ing? Start making sense, tall dark and raggedy. Preferably as you buy me a pint.”

“I will purchase a… pint for you in exchange for information. Come, let us enter the tavern-structure together and… pound a pint. So that we may engage in an informal and familiar mode of communication, aided by inebriation. Ulgrim, you old scalawag. Old buddy. Old pal of this-- of mine.”

Ulgrim blinked, paused for a moment, and decided that he must have just hallucinated the stranger's stilted attempt at tavern-talk. He stood and followed the stranger for a few paces before stopping again in the doorway of the tavern.

“Hey, if we're going to have a drink together and talk to each other all familiar-like, old buddy, you should tell me your name.”

The stranger stood by a table and fixed his oddly luminous gaze on Ulgrim. “My name… is Rheaga. Of no tribe worth mentioning.”

Ulgrim nodded and proceeded toward the table, gesturing imperiously at Berkholt for a round of stouts. “Good. I couldn't sit down for a stout with someone who was a stranger to me. I'm glad I know your name. You're not a leper, are you? I mean, I'm not afraid of getting it myself, on account of my healthy diet, but I think it's a little rude to bring a leper in here and sit on Berkholt's nice new furniture and drop body parts on the rug.”

Berkholt came to their table with two foaming mugs of stout and rolled his eyes at Ulgrim's comment about the furniture. “As long as his coin's good I don't care what he's got,” he growled at the two of them. “And all the times you've stained this rug, it's a wonder I haven't skinned you to replace it.” Rheaga drew one of his hands out from within a sleeve in his huge, ill-fitting robe. When he opened his hand, it was full of gleaming pyreal coins.

“Take what you require,” said Rheaga, as he held out the pile of coins to Berkholt. The old barkeep eyed the pile, then took all of it with one swift two-handed grab that would have impressed a cutpurse from Corcosa. He gave Ulgrim a warning look as he stomped back to his station behind the bar. Rheaga obviously didn't care that he'd just paid five times the price, so Ulgrim made a note to himself to try and wheedle some of the difference out of Berkholt later and made no mention of it to his new drinking companion.

Sighing blissfully, he picked up his mug and drank half the stout in one gulp. Letting out a long and loud burp, he set the mug back on the table and eyed Rheaga. Somehow Rheaga had drunk half of his own pint, though Ulgrim couldn't recall seeing him lift the mug to his still-concealed face.

“All right, Rheaga, what would you like to know?”

“I would like to know how you were able to see through my seeming, when even the most accomplished sorcerers among all of your benighted kind are unable to do so. And then I would find out all that you know about the Virindi.”

In mid-gulp, Ulgrim coughed and splashed some stout on himself. He set the mug down, angry. “First you're going to have to explain to me what seeming means. And then I want to know why you are so interested in the Virindi. And you never answered my question about being a leper! Are you, or are you not? If not, what's with this weird get-up of yours?” Ulgrim sniffed at him. “And another thing, you smell like a damned Virindi, you know that? Like lightning and old dirty clothes.”

Rheaga didn't move. Not even a blink from his glowing eyes, no sort of indication that he was angry or upset. He responded in a calm tone. “Since I have pledged to engage in no violence, lethal sorcery, or will-manipulation during this excursion, I will answer your questions, though I recognize that the tone with which you modulated your voice is inconsistent with a familiar and informal mode of communication, and is the sort of tone that usually precedes intoxicant-based tavern altercations.”

Ulgrim ignored all the fancy words. The guy said he'd answer the questions. “All right, I'm waiting.”

“I ask why you can see through my seeming because none of your kind should be able to perceive me with their eyes when I make use of a concatenation of several relatively simple mental manipulation techniques. I am interested in the Virindi because they have knowledge that I am interested in, and I asked you about them because they are interested in you and consider you to be more knowledgeable about them than most of your kind are. I am not currently a carrier of the bacteria that cause leprosy. I wear this robe and wraps to conceal my skin and other physical features that would cause alarm and undue attention among humans, for the occasions when I must interact with your kind. And I was aware that I smell like a Virindi, but I did not deem this knowledge significant because smell is the most primitive of senses, though I do recognize that the primitive human brain places an irrational importance on that sense.”

Ulgrim sat dumbfounded, trying to absorb all that this curious stranger had said. It was a rare day when someone in Ayan Baqur could be stranger than him.

Rheaga leaned forward, almost eagerly. “Now I believe it is my turn to ask you questions… old buddy.”

Rollout Article

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Rollout Fiction

Sabithra crept down the stairs as stealthily as she could. She used the toe-first step that had been one of the most basic techniques that Master taught her, and kept close to the stone wall to minimize the chance of a creaky floorboard giving her away. All in all, she used a dozen tricks and techniques to mask her presence from the man she was sneaking up on.

The man was an Aluvian with close-cropped blonde hair, of middling height and slim build, outfitted in worn and nondescript dark hunting leathers. He was talking to Rundiscar, weaponsmith of Eastham, about a custom order for a set of throwing daggers… The mask she wore interfered with her hearing somewhat, so she could not make out the details of their conversation. She was within a few strides now, almost at her mark…

The man abruptly turned to look at her. She was hidden quite well in the flickering shadows by the base of the stairs, and any normal man probably wouldn't have noticed her. But Master, of course, could pick her out of a crowd at a hundred paces and perforate the edge of her boot with a thrown dagger. She hadn't really thought she'd be able to sneak up on him, but it had been a chance at practice.

Master's pale green eyes narrowed and his thin lips curled in annoyance, the most emotion he'd shown since they'd set out on this trip two days ago. “What is that ridiculous mask that you're wearing?” he asked.

Sabithra bowed and removed the mask, then held it up for Master to get a better look at. “It's an undead captain's mask, Master,” she announced cheerfully. “See the hat? Very stylish, I think. And I thought the mask festival was over! Alexander made this for me from that head I took when we were –“

Master held up a hand, and she silenced herself immediately. She knew her mistake – she had been about to discuss operational details in the presence of outsiders. Rundiscar was a good smith and Master trusted him as much as he trusted any outsider, but rules were rules. Chastened, she stood by silently while they concluded their transaction. Their business done, Master and the smith clasped hands, and Master turned and left the smithy without so much as a backward glance at Sabithra. She followed as he stalked quickly and silently toward the shore.

When they were out of earshot of the town, and no one else was visible, Master turned and confronted her. “I could hear you breathing through the nose-holes from the top of the stairs. You still have not mastered your breath, certainly not well enough to wear some kind of festival mask while you sneak. Your eagerness to practice the craft is a virtue, but this frivolity will be the death of you. It seems Adso was not overly critical, as I once believed, of your cavalier attitude towards your training and our rules.”

Sabithra lowered her gaze, shamed and scared. Adso had been her “elder brother” once, responsible for training her during scouting missions in the field, but he had since moved on to more exciting pursuits after earning Master's confidence. Adso's exasperation and threats during those excursions had been nothing compared to Master's cool contempt. To hear Master confirm Adso's withering assessment of her suddenly reminded her of how precarious her position truly was… Because she also knew that Master held the true power over life and death, a power possessed by few in this strange realm.

“I apologize for that, Master, and I apologize for almost speaking of our activities in front of an outsider.”

“When we return to the haven you will spend an hour in the golem pit, to help reinforce the lessons you have learned today.”

Sabithra nodded. “Yes, Master.”

He stared at her after that, for what seemed like an eternity. She summoned whatever reserves of willpower she had and forced herself to look into his eyes. Finally, he seemed to find what he sought, and nodded slightly. “Let's continue on, then. Just two more places to go. First to Cragstone, to speak with Oswent, and then to Linvak Tukal –“

Curiosity got the better of her. “Oswent? Forgive me, Master, but isn't he, an, um…” She wasn't sure she should speak of this out loud, here and now.

“Out with it, girl.”

“Doesn't he serve the Queen?”

Master laughed. “Oswent is employed by the Queen. And I am sure he serves her ably and as loyally as he can. It would be bad for business otherwise. But you'll find, in the practice of the craft, that we sometimes have more in common with the thieves, sneaks, and killers employed by the other factions than we do with the people who buy our services. Just because I tried to kill the Queen once, doesn't mean Oswent won't help an old friend out with a little information, since I'm not trying to kill her now. In fact, anything I do with the information I seek from Oswent will probably end up benefiting the Queen. Favors get traded more often than knives in this business, girl.”

Sabithra frowned, confused. “So how is it possible for kingdoms to be at war when the assassins they hire have secret arrangements going on?”

“Don't underestimate the value of professionalism, Sabithra,” Master said, more amused now than anything. “There is a sort of honor among killers. Some of us, anyway.”

“Does it ever get tough? Dividing loyalties this way?”

Master sighed. “From time to time. I could tell you a story about one crazy old sorceress I took a few jobs from… You want to talk about divided loyalties, she probably can't even remember which side she started on. Stick with me, Sabithra, and you'll see all sorts of hidden currents of power flowing behind the scenes. It's the way of life, wherever you are.”

“So what do we need from Oswent? What do we need his information for?”

“To trace another current of power to its source. I'll explain after we've visited Oswent, when we're on the way to Linvak Tukal.”

Release Notes

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November 2007: Release Notes

Hello and welcome to the November Release Notes. This month brings many changes to an already turbulent world. Humans and Lugians alike have seen strange happenings to members of their kind, and even the Carenzi on Marae Lassel have been reported to have some kind of strange illness. Lets see what other changes will hit Dereth this month.

Miscellaneous Changes and Improvements

  • We will be running a series of scheduled and unscheduled Live Ops this month. Once we have the completed schedule, we will post it on the launcher and on the official forums.

  • On the weekend of December 15-16th we will be increasing the drop rate of all Rares in the game. During this time all player who are fighting Rare eligible creatures will have an increased chance of getting a Rare drop.

  • Orisis had more health then was intended. This has been fixed and his health is now more in line with what was expected.

  • As a result of the extra downtime we have had this month, most of the timed content that was in for October, will remain in the game for the November event as well.

  • A problem was found with the behavior of the Olthoi Flyers in the infested area of Olthoi North. These Olthoi have been removed from the area until the issue can be properly resolved.

  • The text seen by players, who have been banned from the game, now has the new link to our ban appeals team.

  • A few more masks or headgear as it were, have been added in this month. It seems some things just needed some last minute fixes by the mask makers.

  • Some additional items have been added to the various special vendors throughout Dereth. These vendors are located at the Colosseum, Infested Olthoi area, and the Graveyard, respectively. Make sure you check them out to see what new items they have in stock.

  • There appears to be some sort of plague affecting the Carenzi of Marae Lassel.

  • The Prodigal Shadow Dungeon is now a landblock that does not unload. This means that all corpse decay timers will be exact for that dungeon. This also means that players will no longer have to “hold the landblock” to prevent it from resetting.

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