Announcements - 2008/07 - Shattered Lines

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July 2008 - Patch Page


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Shattered Lines - July

Prince Borelean watched Asheron's hands with fascination. In the rigorous education his mother had arranged for him, he had been spending more time in magical training and rather less at swordplay and strategy. One of the lessons he'd first learned was the importance of one's hands in the esoteric art of geomancy. Naturally, Asheron proved to be a font of both geomantic knowledge and dextrous hand gestures. Always an eager student, Borelean watched every twitch and finger-waggle to see what he could learn.

Asheron's hands were long, expressive, deft, and scarred. You could practically read his history of magical experimentation, failure, recovery, and renewal in the ancient skin and in the complex movements his hands descried. Because Borelean had spent so long studying the mage's movements, he could detect the very slight tremor in Asheron's hands, belying the calm and confident posture the Yalain archmage assumed for his two students.

Prince Borelean and his fellow student, Hoshino Kei, were in Asheron's private sanctum, serving as his assistants and seconds in the ritual to follow. The two of them flanked him, Borelean to his right and Kei to his left, as he stood in front of an altar that held a wide, shallow silver bowl. Kei carried a silver ewer of distilled water, and Borelean held in his hands a platter heaped with black dirt from the gardens of Asheron's island.

Borelean had not dared to ask why he and Kei, young and inexperienced as they were, should serve as Asheron's apprentices for this ritual when there were many older, more experienced, more practiced geomancers to be found. His mother had heartily approved Asheron's request, and not even the legendary curmudgeon Harlune complained when Asheron announced that the two young novices would serve as his seconds. Certainly the archmage himself seemed to have no doubt in his choice of assistants. He had warned them that the ritual would be difficult and draining, and would require them to follow his directions absolutely and with no question.

Finally, Asheron signaled that he was ready to begin. The air in the chamber, already cold and still, seemed to turn even frostier. Borelean could see Kei resisting the urge to shiver. He himself felt the chill seeping into his bones. Asheron gestured with his left hand, and Kei slowly poured the water into the wide silver bowl, filling it almost to its top. Then, with a gesture from the mage's right hand, Borelean began to tip in the clods of earth. The dirt seemed to spread over the surface of the water, rather than sinking to the bottom or turning to mud.

Borelean could hear Asheron whispering under his breath as water and earth mingled but did not mix in the bowl. He was only starting to learn the language that Asheron used, so he could not understand everything that was said, but he clearly heard repetition of the words for “water” and “earth” as the elements swirled in the bowl. Finally, Borelean could see a form taking place before them. The earth in the bowl moved across the surface of the water, guided by Asheron's words and hands, and began to resolve itself into the familiar shape of the island of Dereth, including the major nearby islands: the Halaetans, Vesayens, Aerlinthe, Marae Lassell, Vissidal, the Dark Isle…

When at last earth and water stood still in the bowl, they had created a model of Dereth that was perfect in every way. From snowcapped mountains to miniature forests, to even the clumps of tiny buildings that marked human settlements. Asheron's spoken words took on a different rhythm, and as Borelean recognized the word for “wind”, he saw a network of lines forming, overlaid in purple and blue. The lines criss-crossed the surface of the world, casting a faint eldritch light, and wherever they intersected, the light brightened and pulsed. Borelean could see hundreds, thousands of these intersections. Each line and each intersection seemed to flow with a different thickness and strength. It was beautiful. He stopped breathing as he lost himself in the wonderful complexity of this map – a map he recognized as the ley line network of Dereth.

Asheron's chanting continued, and now he saw a darker color moving through some of the larger lines – flowing through them like water through a riverbed, tainting the lines, spreading out through nodes to other lines…

Soon the map was almost entirely overrun with this corruption. It was stronger in some places than others, and already Borelean could see some spots that were significantly darker than others. “The corruption of T'thuun,” Borelean realized, remembering the scouting reports he'd heard in his mother's audience chamber. He knew geomantically trained scouts and surveyors had been scouring Dereth for weeks, mapping the lines and trying to assemble a coherent picture of the threat the corruption posed.

Asheron held his left hand out over the miniature Dereth, palm down. Tiny points of light formed on his palm and fingertips, then flared to life. White light flowed in tiny streams from six points on Asheron's hand onto the model of Dereth, seeming to draw a line from the hand to six of the most heavily tainted spots on the map. Spots that seemed to almost mirror each other along an east-west axis. Three in the north, three in the south… Branching off from some of the strongest ley lines…

The light from Asheron's hand flowed into these dark spots, and all Borelean could think of was water rushing into a drought-struck land. The map seemed to drink up all the light and demand more. Asheron kept his left hand in position, channeling light into the map through those tiny streams. Watching that hand, Borelean saw the faintest tremors, revealing the strain that this geomancy put on the ancient archmage. He barely heard Asheron's request: “Borelean… Kei… Please, put your hands on my shoulders. Do not let go. I must… borrow some of your strength. For what lies ahead.”

Dutifully, both apprentices placed their hands on Asheron's shoulders, and immediately Borelean felt the drain. He could feel his energy, his life force, draining from him, through Asheron, and into the model of Dereth… or was the energy flowing into Dereth itself? He broke out of his contemplation as Asheron held up his right hand, palm side up, over the island model. In his right hand appeared a golden pyramid with faint etchings on it, no larger than his palm.

Asheron's voice grew louder when he unveiled the pyramid. There was a burst of magical energy, a shudder rippling through all three participants in the ritual, and suddenly the pyramid cast a bright, golden glow. Visible streams of golden light flowed from the pyramid, wove themselves into the streams coming from Asheron's left hand, and flowed into the six nodes that Asheron had already invested. As more light flowed to the map, the six points on the map grew brighter and brighter, while the pyramid in Asheron's right hand seemed to gradually dim. It grew steadily darker and even insubstantial until, with little warning, it simply vanished from Asheron's hand altogether.

Asheron's voice built to a crescendo, and Borelean recognized the repetition of the word “blood”, which was also very similar to the word for “mana”. Asheron kept his left hand poised above the map, still a conduit for this magical light to flood into the six nodes, while he groped at his belt with his now-free right hand. Now Kei noticed how much Asheron's hand was shaking, and she gave a soft gasp of terror. The two young apprentices shared a worried glance, but Asheron did not seem to notice their movement.

Shouting the words of magic, Asheron's right hand whipped upward unexpectedly, and light glinted off a bronze blade. As Asheron cried out the last desperate words of his ritual, he cut open his left palm with the blade. Blood flowed from the wound and into the light streams, mingling into a tawny gold color.

The drain was visible on all of them now. He could see Kei's terror and confusion as the life force flowed out of her, even as it flowed out of him. He felt his head go light, felt Asheron's shoulder tilt under his hand, saw Kei swaying…

It seemed like he closed his eyes for just a quick moment, like the onset of sleep on the edge of exhaustion. He must have blacked out for that moment, because when he opened his eyes, he was on his knees, slumped against the altar but still mostly upright. Asheron and Kei were both on the floor, as if they had been knocked back from the silver bowl that bore the living model of Dereth. They were both pale as death, unconscious, but breathing softly. Asheron seemed to still be mouthing words, though Borelean couldn't hear what he was saying. His wounded left hand was bent and curled up tightly in the air, dark drops of blood beading in the palm and flowing down his wrist and forearm.

Borelean looked at the map, and saw that the dark nodes of extreme corruption had been… neutralized. Surrounded by tiny circle of light. When he looked closer, he saw that the light at each point was fragile, seemingly under attack from the tainted lines that flowed into them. And at the center of each of the six nodes sat a tiny, perfect pyramid, lit with white and gold light, twin to the one Asheron had conjured.

Rollout Article

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Rollout Article - July

Yawning mightily, Ardry leaned back from his table in the Shining Shield tavern of Hebian-To. He was the only patron in the tavern at this hour, in the dark before sunrise. He looked down at the remains of the meal he'd consumed and shuddered, and felt a corresponding rumble from his belly. As if echoing his thoughts, the barkeep approached his table with a disapproving expression on his face.

“Is there anything else I can get you, Master Ardry?” he asked. “More pickled eggs, perhaps? Or another bottle of sake? If you wished to eat and drink yourself into a sleep of exhaustion and nightmare, I think you are very nearly there.”

Ardry snorted. “Your sarcasm is just as biting now as it was three hours ago, Ya-Un. I think sleep deprivation sharpens your wits.” He belched loudly and explosively, and the barkeep took a step back, wrinkling his nose at the smell. “Maybe just some green tea. To settle the nerves.”

Fo Ya-Un bowed as he retreated from the table, muttering darkly. He returned a moment later with a steaming pot of green tea. Ardry offered up his sake mug for the barkeep to fill. Ya-Un hesitated and frowned. “Perhaps Master Ardry would like his tea served in a proper bowl, so he may drink it as a civilized person should, and not slurp it from a dirty mug like some ignorant toad-belly barbarian. Perhaps he would be kind enough to have some respect for the humble proprietor of this tavern, after tracking in his boots with the awful Moarsman smell.”

Ardry waved the mug in his face. “Just pour it into the mug and I'll be out of your hair, Ya-Un.”

“You are much like your uncle,” Ya-Un sighed dramatically as he poured the tea into Ardry's mug.

Ardry stood, wobbling a little as he got to his feet. “I will choose to take that as a compliment, Ya-Un. My family's brought you a lot of valuable custom over the years. More than enough to make up for the furniture we've broken or floors we've stained in that time.”

Ya-Un scowled and pointed at the slimy bootprints that Ardry had tracked in. “This stink of Moarsman will not go away with a hundred scrubbings. Maybe you owe me for a new floor, eh? No matter, just go. Next time you throw yourself into a tunnel full of those awful things, you visit Arwic or your drunk uncle in Ayan Baqur. Visit the Viamontian city! Share your stink with those blue-skin foreign devils. Leave my nice floors out of it.” With that, he waved his hand dismissively and retreated into his storeroom. Ardry dropped a pile of coins on the table, picked up his pack and his mug, and shuffled unsteadily towards the tavern door.

He opened the door and stood in the entryway, breathing in the fresh of Hebian-To, enjoying the salt smell of the sea and how it mingled with the fragrant green tea in his mug. It was almost enough to cover the ripe stink of Moarsman coming from behind him.

He sipped the tea and tried to blink the bleariness from his eyes. When his eyes cleared up, he looked around to survey the central square of Hebian-To. The sun was just beginning to crest the horizon behind him and right now the other buildings were mostly dark silhouettes against a slowly lightening sky. He saw the rather dramatic shape of the mage's tower rising to his right and the squat bulk of the blacksmith's shop ahead of him. Between them, on the path leading into town from the coast road, a lone adventurer strode into view…

Ardry did a double-take. In the dim pre-dawn light, it was hard to make out… but this figure approaching the town center was not human. It moved with an unnatural shambling gate, and seemed to be wrapped head to toe in filthy rags or bandages. It carried a dagger in its right hand. Ardry set the green tea down on the threshold of the tavern, just inside of the door.

“Ya-Un!” he called back inside. “Might want to bar the doors…”

As he yelled to the tavern keeper, the shambling figure noticed him and jerked its head in his direction. It bellowed something guttural and pointed its dagger at the sky. There was a flash of purple light, and all of a sudden the center of Hebian-To was filled with hulking, stinking Moarsmen.

Ardry cursed. “Not again… Not today… Can't I have just one day without getting Moarsman slime on me?” He drew his blade and advanced, hoping for a quick and not-too-smelly death.

Release Notes

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Release Notes - July

Greetings and welcome to the 99th monthly update for Asheron's Call! It is now just about a month away from the big event, and the team is busy getting all of the finishing touches in place to ensure the event will be one to remember. What does that have to do with the July event you ask? Well to make sure August is as good as it can be, most of the team spent July working on the 100th update. There is still plenty of new excitement in Dereth this month, but not as much as we would normally see.

With the 100th update coming, we also recently announced that the server hardware will be upgraded in the coming months. We want Asheron's Call to keep going strong, and in the first of many steps toward improving the overall game, we want to make sure we are on the best hardware possible. When we get closer to the actual upgrade, we will let everyone know.

Now lets see what coming in the July event, Shattered Lines!

Miscellaneous Changes and Improvements

  • The spell range inside dungeons has been reduced to approximately 30 meters. This change should only affect life and creature spells. War magic should not be impacted by this change.
  • A change was made to the game that should help resolve some issues with locator type plugins that are used by some players.
  • The drudges have finally stopped constantly raiding Cragstone, much to the relief of the townsfolk. Brave adventurers who still want to complete the associated quest may do so by hunting the Drudges around their fort.
  • There have been reports that some strange Moarsman attacks have been occurring across the towns of Dereth.
  • Six strange new Pyramids have appeared near the Ley Lines of Dereth. A stranger in Ayan Baqur is asking that any able bodied person help him out with his investigation of these new Pyramids.
  • Some changes have been made to how chests and corpses now act. Any chest or corpse that gets “locked” by a player will now be able to be “unlocked” by another player double clicking on the corpse or chest if it has been locked for more than 1 minute. After double clicking the container, it should once again become useable for players.
  • A 10 second timer was added to locked chests. 10 seconds from when you unlock the chest it can't be closed. This is to address lag issues of people unlocking a chest and accidently opening and closing it at the same time.
  • The NPC Roderick should now properly flag players. He should now take the appropriate actions with the turn-in on the broken seal, allowing players to continue the quest again.

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