Announcements - 2009/10 - Gears of Change

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October 2009 - Patch Page


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Gears of Change

In a cavernous assembly hall constructed entirely of metal, an army was massing. They stood in neatly ordered ranks, sorted into columns by specialization and into rows by rank within their specialization. These mechanical knights were, like the homes they lived in, made entirely of metal. They were hulking, broad-shouldered, bipedal creatures sheathed in thick panels of grey armor, animated by incredibly intricate gear systems, infused with life and sentience by some ancient process. Their metal visages were expressionless masks, set into a low bulb rising from their massive chests, but the creatures moved with an energy and briskness that spoke of efficiency, dedication, and a powerful, motivating anger.

At the front of the assembly hall stood a rounded metal gate, framed by glowing metal pipes inscribed with arcane sigils. The gate was wide enough for four of the assembled soldiers to step through at once. The space within the circle was a swirling mass of cloudy grey mist. If there was an end to the depths of this mist, it could not be seen by normal means.

In front of the gate, towering over the other soldiers, stood the leader of this army, reviewing its troops as they readied their weapons. It stood perfectly still, but the set of its arms and back indicated a tension and rage that seemed to be radiating out to its troops and filling them with the same terrible sense of purpose. It was a Primus, a leader of an entire house of these Gear Knights. It just so happened to be the leader of the House of the Iron Blade, the segment of Gear Knight society devoted to destruction and conquest. A smaller soldier, a sub-commander by its relative size and positioning, stood next to the Primus, and was issuing orders in a precisely regimented cadence.

“Inspect weaponry for physical defects. Activate armor integrity protocol. Verify efficiency of defense subsystems. Load and verify newest combat protocols. Load and verify enemy cultural and physiological data.”

As each order boomed forth from the chest cavity of the sub-commander, the ranked soldiers followed the commands in perfect unison. The Primus dipped its head in approval as each set of orders was issued and executed.

Finally, as the last order echoed off the thrumming, steaming metal walls of the assembly hall, the sub-commander took one precise step backwards and fell into place next to its superior. The Primus stepped forward, and that one step echoed loudly throughout the chamber.

It paused for dramatic effect, then boomed forth in a deep, resonant voice to address the assembled Gear Knights as loud as its voice modulators would allow, which was quite loud indeed.

“The day is here, my knights! The day of our vengeance, which some thought may never come, has arrived!”

The stark uniformity of the ranked soldiers vanished as the great mass of them shouted and yelled their approval of the words of their Primus. The clanged their fists against their chest plates, rattled their swords against their forearms, and let out resounding cries for revenge, slaughter, and the righting of ancient wrongs.

The Primus waited for the clamor to die down, and its approval at their thirst for combat moved like a wave through the ranks, infusing them with heightened energy.

“We have located the Empyrean betrayers!” it continued. “They fooled us once before with soft, deceiving words from their fleshy organs, and lured our predecessors into a trap on their terrible, anomalous world. They betrayed our trust and our good faith! But their greed and short memory has betrayed them, finally! They have re-opened a gate from their world to ours! They even dared to invite another delegation to come forth and meet with them. But they underestimated us. Our memory is long. The House of the Iron Blade never forgets an enemy!”

The cheers broke forth from the crowd once more. Again, the Primus allowed them to give voice to their rage against the Empyreans, and their desire for revenge. Again, the Primus’s own pleasure was fed back to his knights, and he raised his arms to quiet them and address them again.

“This time, when they sought to open a gate to our world, we were ready. We have identified their location within the planes and have fixed our sensing to their gate. This time, when they try to spring their trap and close their gate, we will be ready for them!”

This time it modulated its voice to a lower, more conspiratorial register. “The Copper Cog and the Silver Scope all urge caution and patience. The Gold Gear overrode our objections and listened to their words of conciliation. They wished to start with another futile diplomatic mission. They wished to have the military represented on that mission by the maintenance drones of the Bronze Gauntlet.”

The Primus allowed the news of this insult to process in the minds of its soldiers before continuing at peak volume. “This, the Iron Blade cannot accept! They have forbidden us to use the Great Gates, from which our forces have launched countless invasions and won countless wars. But the Iron Blade has used the years more wisely than they. While they were distracted by other concerns, we never forgot the betrayal of the Empyreans, and we prepared to meet them again. We have developed our own Gate technology. We needed but one opening, one mistake by the Empyreans, to initiate our own invasion and revenge strategies. We will strike the blow that they lack the courage to strike!”

The assembled knights cheered again. “I have tested the new Gate and the new protocol. I sent scouts forward into their world to make contact with the Empyreans. As we expected, the scouts were assaulted. And though the first scouts were defeated, subsequent waves, and reinforcement in strength, won us a foothold on that world. We learned that the Empyreans are still led by the lying sorcerer Asheron, who first opened the way between our worlds. We learned that the treacherous fleshlings have recruited other allies to their dishonorable banner. Smaller, less powerful flesh-things called Isparians do their dirty work for them, while creatures made of air, flimsy fabric, and deceitfully constructed energies called the Virindi have become the Empyreans’ proxies in Gate manipulation.”

The Primus paused and looked out over the crowd again. “You were all endowed with the knowledge necessary to defeat and kill Empyreans. You have all been supplied with the data necessary to fight and destroy these Isparians and Virindi. Our scouts fought hard and many were destroyed in this effort. You must avenge them, as you avenge our predecessors, the victims of Asheron’s first betrayal.”

The Primus signaled to its sub-commander, and they both stepped backward several paces until they were flanking the Gate that the Primus had constructed. With a dramatic flourish, the Primus pivoted and drove its left hand into a slot built into the side of the gate. There was a flash of light, and the harsh, dissonant noise of grinding metal filled the chamber. Energy began flowing quite openly from the body of the Primus and into the gate. Moments later, the depthless grey mist within the Gate flickered and began to change, filling with vibrant purple currents of portal energy.

The sub-commander marched forward again to stand in front of the gate. It raised its own voice as loud as it could to address the troops. “Knights of the Iron Blade! Prepare your weapons! Our Primus has opened the way! We will march forth into Auberean and take our vengeance!”

With that, the sub-commander spun and charged into the gate. The assembled knights roared in unison, a thousand metal voices shouting for vengeance, and surged forward in a strangely beautiful, precisely staggered line, headed for Dereth, and for war.

Rollout Article

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October 2009: Rollout Fiction

Aliester the Loquacious, pre-eminent sage of Dereth, peered into large glass lens positioned over his work desk. In his hands he held a pair of tiny tweezers and a sharp etching tool. Atop his work desk, magnified for his aging eyes by the lens, was a small, intricate device consisting of a deep violet crystal framed within a network of delicate metal parts. The lens served as both a magnifying device and a filter to help him better see the flow of energy across parts of the crystal and its metal case of rods and gears.

Aliester muttered quietly as he worked. Sometimes he whispered a spell, intended to manipulate the energy contained within the crystal. Other times the words he uttered were just a stream of consciousness of observations and notes to himself as he tried to make sense of the device. The device had been brought to him by his intrepid nephew Ardry just a few days before, and Aliester had spent almost the entire time attempting to decipher the secrets of this fabulously complicated and endlessly interesting artifact.

He prodded the device with his etching tool and turned one of the gears attached to the assembly as he worked another spell, and watched with fascination at the response of the energy flows. He was so caught up in watching the slow changes coming over the crystal that he did not notice the sound of his name being called from outside, or the noises of a door opening and closing at the front of his little cottage.

“Uncle.” The word was softly spoken, but Aliester had been so focused on his task, he almost jumped out of his seat. In his shock, he jabbed the device with his tweezers and broke one of the thin metal rods that bound the crystal. There was a flash of violet light, and the entire metal casing seemed to crumble away into its component rods, gears, and joints. Unbound, the energy leaked out of the crystal almost immediately.

“Nooo!” Aliester wailed. He looked up at the intruder with a hurt look in his eyes. He saw his nephew Ardry, presumably back from another provisioning trip. “I was so close, Ardry! I was on the verge of a true breakthrough in thaumic analysis! Why did you choose to disturb me at this specific moment?”

Ardry grimaced. The young scout had braved just about every dungeon, monster fortress, ancient crypt, and dark corner of Dereth in the service of the Arcanum and Aliester’s esoteric research requests, but the only thing he truly feared on this world where death was almost never permanent was disappointing his eccentric uncle.

“I apologize, Uncle,” he said, “but I knocked on the door and called your name before I came in. I didn’t know what else to do, and my errand here is time-sensitive, so I didn’t think I could just stand here waiting for you to look up.”

Aliester sighed, sat back, and rubbed his tired eyes. “Perhaps I have been at labor for too long on this project. I need to get some rest. Or at least take a break, to restore my mental and physical equilibrium.”

Ardry pulled up a chair and sat by his uncle. “There have been developments that affect your work. Gondo Kanezo has finished his own research, and can reconstruct one of these Gear Knight trinkets with his own forged pieces.” He fished a necklace out of his shirt and showed it to his uncle. Dangling from a silver chain was a piece of framed crystal, every bit as complicated and elegant as the piece Aliester had been studying.

Aliester’s eyes widened as he took the trinket from Ardry and looked at it through his lens. “A wondrous piece of metal craft. Truly, Kanezo is a gifted artisan. To replicate the delicate structures of the Gear Knight power cores… Even the cogs, which are so difficult to smith with the requisite degree of precision…” He shook his head in amazement. “And the enchantments? Has he duplicated the enchantments? I do not see active mana flows through the lens here…”

Ardry shook his head. “No, but Zarea bint Zia is hard at work on the enchantment-bearing properties of the crystals themselves. She has learned much, but believes that she needs your expertise to get past some obstacles she has run into. She invites you to her workshop to pool your efforts. She thinks that once you two figure out the nature and structure of the enchantments bound into the cores, replicating them for our own uses will be easy.”

The old sage thought about it for a second. “I would like to continue my own efforts, independently. I am sure she has made great progress, but I feel that I, too, am close to grasping the inner workings of this wondrous device. It would serve as a non-trivial disruption of my own work, to pack up and move to an unfamiliar work environment at this stage.”

Ardry smiled smugly. “She thought you’d say that. That’s why she sent this to sweeten the offer.” He drew a small silver flask from his pack and handed it to his uncle.

Aliester took the flask, uncorked the top, and took a sniff. His eyes became even wider than they had been at the sight of Gondo Kanezo’s replicated gearcraft. “It cannot be.”

Laughing, Ardry nodded. “Indeed. She has a whole bottle of Imperial Orchards Apple Brandy from Tirethas. She said she remembered you naming it as something you’d regret never being able to taste again when the two of you came through the portal together.”

“How can it be?” Aliester asked. “How can she have that after all this time? This may be the only bottle extant outside of Ispar! And such bottles were notoriously difficult to acquire even for those who still live in our long lost home… They given away but rarely by the Malika herself.”

“Zarea brought it with her when she came through the portal. She said she was saving it for a special occasion, much like that bottle of Hundred-Year Teakston that I saved until last year.”

Aliester looked confused. “But what special occasion? Surely she would not open that bottle with no purpose in mind but to cajole me to her home to collaborate on a research project. We have worked together many times in the past, with no need to mark the occasion with a stunningly rare bottle of Imperial Orchards.”

Ardry laughed again. “Oh, uncle. Can you really have forgotten? Today marks the tenth anniversary of your arrival, along with Kanezo and Zarea, in this strange and endlessly surprising world.”

The old sage rocked back in his chair and blinked in shock. He thought about it, and said slowly, “Absolutely correct. I had lost track of time, working on that bit of gearcraft there. Ten years!” He looked at Ardry in wonder. “Ten years!”

“Ten years,” Ardry agreed amiably. He took the flask back from his uncle. “Let us toast then, Uncle. To ten years in Dereth.” He took a small sip of the precious liquor, then handed the flask back.

Aliester took the flask and looked at it for a long moment. Finally he said, in a voice full of gravitas, “To ten years in Dereth,” and took a sip himself. His eyes rolled back in his head as he savored the flavor, rolling the liquor around in his mouth. He swallowed, then stood up. He handed the flask back to Ardry. “Very well. Sage Zarea’s magnificent enticement has achieved the desired effect. I shall go call upon her, share some apple brandy, and collaborate with her on the question of the unique energy lattices within the Gear Knights’ power cores.” He nodded, as if to affirm it to himself.

“You’d best hurry, Uncle,” Ardry said in a dry, amused voice. “Cousin Ulgrim somehow found out about the bottle of Old Orchards, and is probably on his way there right now.”

“Zounds!” Aliester shouted. “Why didn’t you tell me the time was so short?” He scooped up his work tools, shoved them into a pack, and ran out the door.

Ardry watched him go, smiling affectionately. He shook his head and took a healthy sip of the flask, relishing the taste of Ispar. “To ten years in Dereth,” he said quietly to himself.

Release Notes

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October 2009: Release Notes

Happy 10 Years Dereth!

Greetings and welcome to the Release Notes for the 10th Anniversary of Asheron’s Call! It has been an incredible journey so far, one which we hope continues for a long time. As our way of celebrating this occasion, we have made some really exciting additions to the game. We are really excited about these changes and what we have in store going forward. Most importantly we want to thank all of our players. Without you, none of us would be here working on the game we love. Thank you!

So without further delay, lets see what is new and exciting this month in Asheron’s Call!

Two Handed Weapons
The Viamontian masters have agreed to offer training in the art of Two Handed Combat to the peoples of Dereth. Due to the expanded use of Two Handed weapons they have become more readily available and will be available in all tiers of loot.

This new skill can either be used as a new player, or can be trained via the training temples already in-game.

With the return of the Gear Knights to Dereth also comes Gearcrafting. This skill is used by the Gear Knights to augment their abilities through a variety of implements and trinkets. The clever peoples of Dereth have quickly learned and adapted Gearcrafting.

Implements have been crafted to Expose Weaknesses of creatures through Creature Assessment, so that Leaders can increase the moral of their fellowship and with it their Health, to enhance both the Stamina and Mana of a party through tokens of Loyalty and in combination with Virindi magic using Deception to enhance understanding of Arcane Lore.

Gear Knights bring a variety of technological trinkets to Dereth. These trinkets may be imbued through the use of Gearcrafting to unlock latent magic. These magics enhance Health, Stamina, Mana, XP Gain, Damage and Damage Reduction.

You can read more about Gearcrafting here.

Quest Journal
Players can now keep track of all their quests in the game via an editable in-game quest journal.

Eleven New Augmentations have been introduced with this Update! These Augmentations include:

  • Foci Free Casting for War, Creature, Item, and Life magic.
  • Weapon Master Augments that will increase all Magic, Missile, or Melee skills by 10 points.
  • Damage Boosting and Reducing Augmentations that can enhance players Damage Rating.
  • Augmentations that will increase players Critical hit Frequency and Critical hit Multiplier.

Gear Knights
Gear Knights have returned to Dereth! Originally encountered by the Empyreans before the Olthoi Invasion, this race of mechanical beings has reopened their Portals to Dereth, seeking lost compatriots and vengeance against those who endangered them. Will you seek to do battle with this new threat to the peoples of Ispar?

New Quest Hubs
Players can now explore low and high level versions of the new Gear Knights, via quest hubs.

Quest XP
Quest XP will now pass up from Vassals to Patrons to Monarchs. This will help encourage more questing.

10th Anniversary rewards
For those with existing characters on actively subscribed accounts when the 10th Anniversary goes live, you may find yourselves with a new companion on your adventures through Dereth.

Special Live Events to celebrate 10 years of Asheron’s Call
On November 2nd, special Live Events will take place all day long. Asheron has discovered that the portals of Dereth have become unstable after being open for 10 years. This is causing portals from the past to open in the present. Creatures from the past 10years are suddenly going to appear all over Dereth. Asheron, Elysa, Borelean and others will need players help to contain this “invasion” from the past.

Miscellaneous Changes/fixes

Throne of Destiny
With this update, every player will now have access to all Throne of Destiny Content. Please be aware that the migration of accounts will still be a Premium Service.

Nvidia/Sky Flickering
Good News! After many, many long hours of work, this issue should now be resolved!

For some time now, we have been trying to discover the cause of some players having trouble entering chat when logging into the game. While we were unable to determine the root cause, the team has added a retry on entering chat when players are logging into the game. If a player does not enter chat when they first log in, the game will see this and retry up to three times for them. This should help resolve the issue.

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

Letter From the Producer

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November 2009: Letter from the Producer

So, Asheron’s Call has reached its 10th anniversary. It’s incredible to have fans that have been with us through so many years, so many updates, and so many changes of the guard. It’s been an amazing 10 years in Dereth.

The AC team learned a lot in the year since our 100th update in August 2008, and after it was implemented we sat down and took a hard look at what worked and what didn’t. The initial patch was not what we wanted it to be when it launched. Fixing the subsystems took a number of updates, and we learned a lot of new things about our capabilities and the speed at which we can develop content. Although we finally feel that the systems introduced with that patch are close to our initial vision, we still want to continue making some adjustments to the systems and expand on the content areas from that patch.

In spite of the issues , the 100th update brought knowledge and many needed changes that were crucial to our ongoing plans. It was the first time since Throne of Destiny, our 2005 expansion, that the team split its focus and began to develop two areas of the game simultaneously. The 100th update delivered a new loot tier, and a mechanism through which questing could receive loot pulls. It also introduced a lot of new tech, including a whole new faction system to allow creatures to fight with one another and ally with players. This tech has already been used in a gambling-oriented monster arena and in faction areas.

For the 10th anniversary, we wanted to deliver new ways to play the game while staying true to Asheron’s Call. We added Two-handed Combat to the game to give you a new archetype for playing the game, and also added new capabilities to old skills that gave you further options to develop new types of characters. On top of that we added an entirely new item slot with a rich system of upgrading these new items to add depth to an already great loot system. We added a new interface where players could record information and track real-time quest timers, with the ability to sort and search through that information.

We also moved the game world forward, adding an entire new class of creature to the game with Gear Knights. These creatures/constructs provide a new threat -- and potentially a new source of allies -- to the players. With them came two new hunting areas to give more options to both high level characters and lower level characters.

With the 10th anniversary mostly behind us, and adjustments and fixes already well underway, I wanted to look ahead and share some items on our development wish list. I wanted to give you some insight about the areas of the game we are looking to improve; not as an announcement of features, but rather as a preview of the things we will be examining. Some of these things might be set aside as our priorities and understanding change. Some will be embraced and implemented!

Our first goal is to hit the ground running and deliver our next big update in the late spring or early summer of 2010. Although this new update is still a work in progress, I wanted to talk a bit about some of the things we are examining in the coming months to see if it’s possible to deliver them in that update.

I see an important wedding being announced in game to the people of Dereth. To celebrate this wedding, we will present a special update with some new features and special content. With a wedding comes an opportunity to dress sharp, and we are looking into systems to help characters look their best for the content and live events that will take place around this wedding.

With the wedding approaching, the nobles hope to sponsor artisans to style hair and treat the skin of the people of Dereth. We hope to add new hair styles and facial features to character options. This is, of course, far less compelling without Barbers to allow existing characters to change their hair, facial features, and perhaps even skin color. (Yes, if possible we will allow changes to the eyes, nose, and mouth. Barbers with access to the magic of Dereth can perform some wondrous things.)

With the wedding approaching, the nobles hope to sponsor artisans to enhance clothes and armors that appeal to the senses, yet still allow wedding guests to be on guard for dangers that might occur. We will look at the possibility of adding tailors to help players look their best. What we hope to do is create tailors that allow players to take one piece of loot gear that has great stats, but perhaps lacks in visual appeal, and exchange its stats and spells with those of another piece of loot gear that has inferior stats but has an appealing visual style and color. By allowing this for regular loot items we hope to allow players much more control over how their characters look. (This tailoring would not be possible with quest items or some specialty items like society armor.)

If we can implement the tech for these new looks, we also hope to implement an option to hide a character’s helm so you can show off your new look without getting your brains caved in should trouble arise.

We will look at the possibility of fixing up some of the animations that cause egregious gaps. We want to change a few animations where characters raise their arms above their head, like the jump animation and the logout animation, into something that does not cause the arms to obviously leave the body. We also want to fix the archery animation so the arm does not obviously detach from the torso. We want to see if this can be done in an acceptable timeframe without changing the duration of those animations.

The happy couple will celebrate by welcoming many of the estranged races of the land to join their kingdom as full citizens. Although many creatures will ignore their invitation, some stragglers, progressives, and visionaries from other races of Dereth might trickle into the kingdom. We hope to be able to offer one or more additional race as player characters to represent these exceptional beings who come to the kingdom and accept the citizenship from the King and Queen.

We want to add anti-aliasing (and the option to turn it off), which is a graphical option on a lot of video cards that smoothes out edges to reduce jagged lines.

We hope that these features will add a lot of options and customization to how characters look and help improve the overall look of Asheron’s Call.

In closing, I’d like to thank our players for their support and love of the game, and for those players curious enough about this game to be joining us or returning to us with the 10th anniversary. In the coming months we really want to elicit even more player feedback and make those suggestions into game reality.

To everyone who has played Asheron’s Call with us for 10 glorious years, we thank you for all of your support. See you in Dereth!


Nov 11th Hotfix

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October 2009: Patch One

Here is a listing if fixes/changes being made to the game in this update.

  • The Eye and Hand Augmentations showing up twice should now be fixed.
  • Players should no longer be able to equip a shield while using a two-handed weapon.
  • The new Gearcraft and Two-Handed weapon scrolls should now be available at vendors.
  • Trinket Tinkering should now be working properly.
  • Players should no longer get the assess failure message from everyone trying to identify them.
  • A typo in the Copper Smelting Pot has been fixed.
  • We have fixed the names of the Two Handed Other and Gearcraft other level 7 spells and scrolls.
  • Cleaving has been had some adjustments made to how it reacts to the world. This should not have any impact on the damage output of two-handed weapons.
  • Two handed weapon spells have been added to Noble Gauntlets.
  • The description on Armature bags has been fixed.
  • The sky coloring caused by the sky flickering fix should be much improved now.
  • Players should now be able to apply Ivory to their Deadly Hollow Two-Handed Spears and their Phantom Spears.

Important Note about Trinkets, please read!

As part of this update, bad trinket spells that break the major/moderate/minor rule (or the rule that you cannot add more than one of the same type) will be stripped and the owner of the trinket will gain quest flags to be eligible for some salvage and armatures.

If you own a trinket and it is improperly imbued make sure it is in your inventory before the patch. After the trinket is stripped of illegal spells the code will attempt to add quest flags to the person holding the trinket in their inventory. If it is in a chest then you will not receive these quest flags.

Developer Comments

Turbine Pumpkin Carving Contest Results

November 3rd, 2009 - Link
We have our winners! *drum roll*

In 1st Place is Psycotika of Harvestgain with their entry "10th Anniversary AC Pumpkin with Olthoi"

2nd Place is Cutcha Guy of Solclaim's "AC Pumpkin"

3rd Place is Fraxcat of Solclaim with their "Radiant Blood" pumpkin!

4th Place is Jaguar with their pumpkin "Ghost at Lifestone"

We had a hard time picking between the entries, so we wanted to give a special honorable Mention to Endrin the Mercenary for their pumpkin "Martine's Mask"

Congratulations to Psycotika, Cutcha Guy, Fraxcat, and Jaguar! All four will receive a special forum title. Our 1st place pumpkin winner will additionally be receiving an in-game title and a pet pumpkin golem! Thanks to all players who participated in the contest! You can view more of the great entries to the Turbine contest by clicking here!

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Turbine Community Team
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