Original Link (now dead) -http://zone.msn.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEeventteaser.asp
July 12, 2002
She placed the cloth against his brow. It still burned, the fever having held him now for ten nights and showing no sign of abating. She had never seen him ill, and to look at him now with sunken cheeks and ashen skin brought her near to tears. But she had not cried since she had lost Thorsten, and she was not going to cry now. She was not going to lose Asheron.
When Thorsten died, she had hated Asheron. Hated everything that he was and what he had done to them, allowing them to enter that place without his protection. She had thought him a coward, a nothing, a scared old man who hid in his tower and played at a game of chess in which she and the other Isparians were pawns.
She had pulled herself from that Olthoi hive, tired and broken, one of the few survivors against the True Queen and her armies. She had clawed her way back into the daylight not for herself, but for her son. She had lost everything but the child inside of her.
The Aluvian people, newly freed from their slavery, had flocked to her and named her their Queen. Soon, other pockets of humans crept out of the darkness. New Aluvia grew as Elysa developed into a strong and powerful leader whose command went unquestioned. But her sorrow had continued to weigh heavily upon her.
She had written to her friend, Lania Cartoth, shortly after Thorsten's death. Elysa had continued the correspondence for some time, but the duties of a new Queen restricted her time and the years had kept her parted from her friend. Lania was now dead, slain at the hands of someone, or something--the same someone or something that now commanded the undead in the halls housing Thorsten's armor and axe.
Nuhmudira had disappeared after it was revealed she had sacrificed her loyal Zharalim in a hidden temple beneath her mansion. Sclavus had taken control of the place now, as they had every place that Nuhmudira had once frequented.
Worse, the thing that had been Candeth Martine had become obsessed with Elysa. He was fixated, deviant, and intrusive. She felt betrayed by everyone, everything. Nothing was right. Everything was falling apart around her. But Elysa was made of a far stronger fiber than anyone had ever credited.
Anyone save Asheron.
He had come to her shortly after Thorsten's death, remorseful and sincere. He'd helped her then, helped her to cope. He'd provided assistance in the establishment of Cragstone and in the building of Thorsten's tomb. Asheron had sealed the true resting place of Thorsten's armor and axe with powerful magics, concealing them from the encroaching monsters that eventually overran the underground city that had once been the Isparians' home. He was a rock.
She had despised him so. Yet, in the end, she had found that the only one who understood her isolation was Asheron. He too, was alone. His resolve and his determination had given her the strength to continue, to grow, and to lead. She had left her people once, for some five years, while she studied and learned from Asheron. She had come to know him then, to respect and understand him, and to love him as a friend and kindred soul.
She had never seen him weak. She had seen him fail, but failure was a learning experience, a new way to study a problem. She had never seen him like this, and she feared for him, for everyone. She wrung the cloth she had dipped in water. As she did, the mumbling began again.
Teaser, Part 2
Original Link (now dead) -http://zone.msn.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEeventteaser2.asp
July 12, 2002
Asheron watched from within his study as they approached. Gaerlan strode through the hall after his brother Delacim, their footfalls resounding off the alabaster floor and ceiling. He was Delacim's junior by some twenty years, less skilled and even more headstrong. Avarice drove him, and his relation to Asheron's apprentice afforded him some minor freedoms that he used to the fullest. Gaining the Emperor's ear at a formal gathering had been one such freedom.
Gaerlan was a poor student and had none of his brother's natural aptitude. That he would insist on sitting in on lessons and listening to lectures meant nothing to Asheron. Delacim was to be Asheron's successor. Whatever minor inconveniences Asheron needed to endure were insubstantial, but he had underestimated Gaerlan's capacity for recollection and retention.
During a banquet held in Asheron's honor after a visit to another world, Gaerlan's devious nature was brought to the elder man's attention. As he watched the two brothers enter his study, that earlier conversation played over in Asheron's mind:
"Vizier."Emperor Kellin II made his way toward Asheron and took his arm. He waved his escort away and brought the mage onto a balustrade that overlooked the capital city and the Haelin River. "I have been speaking to your student, Gaerlan."
"Excellency, Gaerlan is no student of mine. He is a brother to my apprentice--"Asheron tried to protest.
But the Emperor continued, "Long-lived men such as yourself should be more careful with whom they allow in classrooms. Especially when they speak of history as though they lived it."The Emperor's eyes met his. "Valind shall be spared your tale, Asheron. I will see to that. But, there will be changes and efforts made to reinforce your expeditions. The Throne must hold a much tighter reign, it seems."He clapped Asheron on the back and stepped through the golden doorway into the arboretum. Asheron was left there, staring out over the river.
The next morning their ship was loaded with the leading scholars of the court, chosen to become Adepts of Asheron's lessons and studies. As they departed for the Knorr Lyceum, Asheron appointed Delacim his chief assistant, placing him in charge of teaching the new Adepts.
Elysa pulled the silken sheet over him more tightly. Blood stained the dressing on his chest. The wound had still not closed. "Strength, Elysa, strength." She looked at her friend and thought back to two months before.
The news of Lania's fate had come on the heels of Nuhmudira's betrayal. Antius had reported movements of Martine's forces on Marae Lassel, and Elysa's councilors had responded like frightened Mites, each one shouting disparate views of what venture would be best. Fuming and saddened, Elysa had cursed everything that had happened since she arrived on Dereth. She had cursed Thorsten, Nuhmudira, and Asheron in turn.
Martine had been there, listening all along, watching her from the shadows, silent. She hadn't noticed. She had settled for bed, and as she drifted into a lazy dream he had made his move. At first she had thought it was a dream, then came the realization that he was truly there. How often had it happened before? How often had he come to her room and watched her as she slept? When he stepped from the shadow, a grim, violet halo wreathing his mask-clad head, she had wanted to leap, even scream, but he had pinned her in the air with the dark arts the Virindi had taught him.
He stumbled toward her in his misshapen canter, spouting words of love. Calling her name, he drew closer. She had wanted to reach for her bow, to strike him down and end all of this. But she was motionless, unable to respond. This was the moment she had always feared. And then, she had heard Asheron's voice.
She would not admit the relief she had felt at his timely arrival. He had not betrayed her again.
She looked upon him now and cursed herself. She knew there was nothing that she could have done, nothing that would have changed the moment, but it still pained her and preyed in the shadows of her mind.
He shivered again.
As the brothers crossed the study's threshold, Asheron noticed the brooch adorning Gaerlan's collar. It was a gift from the Emperor, a cresting wave in the color of the throne, cerulean.
The Emperor had been true to his word; no further utterance had been made about Asheron's longevity. The years had passed uneventfully, and Valind had never come to Asheron's school nor hindered his teaching. But the reach of the Throne was great and now rested within the mage's halls.
The two brothers met his gaze and bowed, in a salute of honor, before they made their way to the sapphire chairs. Asheron bade them sit and took a seat across from them behind his alabaster desk.
Delacim was the shorter of the two and fairer. His fingers were thin and long, matching his slight frame. His hair was the color of the setting sun of autumn, a rich red. He wore braids on either side of his brow. He wore the robes of the apprentice, a deep and regal blue trimmed in violet.
His brother was slightly taller. His hair was dark, and he wore a sharply pointed beard. His eyes were a cold steel blue and he wore a scowl upon his face. He never seemed happy.
"Delacim. Gaerlan. I have consulted my charts and formulated a destination to a new world. I would like to begin preparations for a visit but wanted to ensure your work was done on Aerlinthe."
"Master," Delacim spoke crisply and clearly. "I have nearly completed my study of the portal structures across Aerlinthe and back to the mainland. Little has hindered my progress and the populace has been more than cooperative." He paused. "Gaerlan has been helpful as well, as an intermediary with the workers. He has also assisted in the construction of several automata that will be deployed in the lower areas of the foundry. One small note of concern has arisen over rumblings that have begun to the southeast of the island. I have yet to investigate myself--"
"I have been to the affected area," Gaerlan interrupted. "And found that there is little there, other than a place where the invisible river flows strong." His gaze was always more harsh and challenging than Delacim's. "I will investigate further on my own if you wish, but truthfully, it is something too meager for your apprentice to pay particular heed to it."
Asheron thought a moment, meeting the steel gaze of the young man. As he thought about his response, Gaerlan moved a hand to adjust the brooch. "Very well, Gaerlan," Asheron said. "Investigate if you wish. If you say that there is no need for Delacim's involvement, I shall trust your judgment." He paused and pulled at his long beard. "We have other matters that must be discussed."
The darkness was all around Nuhmudira now. As her strength faded, the sound of footsteps and visits grew more infrequent. Her people had passed their judgment. She was not dead, not yet, but there was nothing shielding her from the shroud of death that surrounded her. Others memories had eroded her own as the ocean takes the shore. It was a battle she had lost, long ago.
Her chest grew heavy with each breath, mired by the weight of guilt and the ravenous hunger of jealousy over losing her power. Even now, as she lay upon this slab with death closing upon her, she wished for nothing more than the power that had once been hers. She knew that she could make everything right if only she had--
The song began as a lullaby, a soothing lullaby sung by the voice of an angel. It echoed in the near-empty room and reverberated through her sagging flesh and into her bones. Then came the voice, singing to her, calling to her. It asked, and she answered.
The first of the Sclavus crested the top of the structure and emptied its throat into the basin beneath her head. The second began to hiss a rite that was unfamiliar to her at first, but as it continued she found she knew the words, the inflection, the power that it was infusing. She raised her broken voice to echo that of the Sclavus. Others clamored over the edge of the tower and arranged themselves in the correct order for the ritual to succeed.
The darkness was no longer the cold captor it had been. Memories that were hers began to drive back the tide, and as the final words were spoken and her bonds shattered, only one thought came to her.
Thoughts. They consumed him. He had not moved from his throne in days. He had remained stoic. His eyes were vigilantly fixated on a tiny grain of sand that was a shade lighter than the stone brick that lay in the middle of the wall opposite him.
For days he had stared at that one point. Servants had entered and left, until he sealed the doors. Now there were only two guards. Two of his most trusted, Hibdin and Ambrosia, stood watch over his room. He was silent, but coherent and mindful.
Voices echoed along the walls of his retreat from time to time, but that mattered little to him. The oddly colored grain of sand remained the focus of his gaze and it hadn't moved.
He clutched the book tightly in his hands, and wondered how long it would be before they came for him, he who had become the hope-slayer.
"The four of you shall be my commanders, my ears, eyes, arms, and swords against his heart. He is not dead yet, I can feel that much, but he drains himself by using his arts to hide from me. It will matter little in the end." Gaerlan paused and looked over his generals, each the epitome of their kind, the absolute elementals. "The wound that Martine gave him is fatal. There is no one left on this world with magic powerful enough who would save Asheron."
A tiny voice broke the silence that had filled the room when his murmuring ceased.
"Mother? Is Uncle Asheron going to die?"
Borelean stood at the door, upright, tall, young, and innocent. His eyes were wide and curious, but not at all the eyes of an eleven year-old boy. His features were not quite that of a young man, but they had lost their youthful vigor, taking on the more distinct edges of his father. Elysa mustered a weak smile and put her hand out for him to come to her.
As she pulled him close to her and kissed the top of his head, she fought the tears and hugged him tightly. "I pray he does not, Borelean, I pray he does not."
Original Link (now dead) -http://zone.msn.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEeventrollout.asp
July 18, 2002
(The final transcript of the preceding month's chronicles may be found here. Also, view the preview movie for the July Event here : 16.5 MBs.)
A world without Asheron. Even those Isparians who had spoken the loudest against him now have a difficult time imagining a world without him. He had been with the Isparian people since their arrival through the release of the Hopeslayer and the formation of the New Singularity. For some, Asheron has seemed as constant as the two moons circling in the night sky. Now he lies mortally wounded in his castle, the life slowly draining out of him. What will become of the world if Asheron falls? Even the insane Martine, a man those on the fringes of society proclaimed to be a hero of the Isparian people, has been driven into catatonia once it was revealed he had been Gaerlan's pawn. And this Gaerlan, an Empyrean bent on Asheron's destruction, how has he returned to Dereth and why does he hate Asheron? Yet in the minds of the Isparians, one question rises above all others: can High Queen Elysa and her people resist Gaerlan and his Elemental army?
There are still glimmers of hope. With the knowledge Asheron shared with them, Arcanum researchers have rediscovered primitive Empyrean transmutation techniques, which the Isparians label "Tinkering." Those skilled in assessing the value and workmanship of weapons and armor rapidly have begun salvaging and enhancing their wares with these techniques. Moreover, all are able to benefit from these discoveries, not just those skilled in tinkering. With an Ust in hand, even the dimmest warrior can salvage materials from items in the field, thus lightening his pack and allowing him to stay in the fray longer!
In Zaikhal, those members of the Arcanum who had never despaired of releasing Nuhmudira from her imprisonment have brought back a disturbing report. Nuhmudira is once more missing. Hearing this, her most zealous followers proclaim that she has escaped her imprisonment and is now working to atone for her sins. As proof that she is aiding them in their battles, these zealots point to the fact that even more powerful weapons are being found in the land. More rational minds remain skeptical, yet they are grateful nonetheless for these new tools in their fight against Gaerlan.
The disturbances that Gaerlan has caused in the forces of magic continue to destabilize the world's magical fields. In the previous month, these disturbances appeared as a reduction in the power of various spells. Now, those dependent upon Life Magic find their ability to harm other creatures through their magics changed and in many ways hampered. Fortunately, to help them overcome these new restrictions on their abilities and develop new techniques, the master archmages have researched new spells. Given the name "Life Bolts," these spells involve taking a portion of a mage's life force and hurling it at a target to inflict damage. The thought of intentionally hurting themselves through their magics puts more than a few mages off, but the majority vow to try these new magics and learn to be effective in the field once more.
With Gaerlan revealed and his elemental army forming, a scheme started long ago now reaches fruition. The world may be forever changed.
Following is a list of the most interesting additions made to the game with this update. However, please note that not everything has been included--that would spoil the fun of finding out all manner of things added or changed! As usual, though, the town criers, barkeeps, and scribes may know the latest news. Also, the trades of crafting and selling are always in flux, so changes to prices and features are not always listed here in their entirety.
Gaerlan steps from the shadows--the Isparians' true enemy is finally known.
More powerful weapons and armor may be found.
New housing and Residential Quarters are available for purchase!
Original Link (now dead) -http://zone.msn.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEeventbuild.asp
July 18, 2002
Here are just some of the additions made in the July 18 game update, Repercussions. The following list is comprised of detailed notes straight from the developers themselves. For a summary of things of interest, be sure to consult the official event article, Repercussions.
We appreciate your feedback and bug reports in helping to ensure that the world of Dereth is a stable and fun place to be. Please submit any such bug reports to http://bugs.zone.com.
New Functionality and Content
Per our Tinkering Letter to Players, we implemented the Tinkering system in July. In addition to our letter, please see the important points listed in the Tinkering section of these notes.
The entire weapon and armor treasure system has been tweaked. For details, see the July Letter to the Players.
We have changed aspects of the Life magic system for July. Please see the previous Transfer Spell Changes Letter to the Players for more information on the changes to Life Magic. Also, the current July Letter to the Players details the most recent additions and changes to the system.
Several new features have been added to the spell book. At the bottom of the spell book panel, we've added filtering buttons to allow you to choose to display spells from a specific school and level. With these new filtering options, the spell book is once again sorting spells alphabetically by name, with the exception of level 7 spells. A level 7 spell will appear below the level 6 version of the spell.
The Arcanum builders are still at it! 500 Residential Quarters, 150 Cottages, 40 Villas, and 10 Mansions have been added to the landscape for purchase.
Flags, flags, flags. . .
Something about the Obsidian Plains just draws monsters to it. Adventurers will find more creatures to fight there now.
A new "@font" command has been added that will allow you to change the font used by your Asheron's Call client. For full details on how to use this new command, type "@help font" in the chat window. Remember that any changes you make to your font won't show up until you completely restart your client; logging your character out and logging them back in is not enough.
With the addition of Tinkering to the game, we've introduced a number of Tinkering-specific changes. For more details, please see the earlier Tinkering Letter to the Players.
Appraisal skills have been removed and new Tinkering skills have been added in their place.
All skill credits spent to purchase appraisal skills have been refunded to the characters. Gharu'ndim characters are the exception; all Gharu'ndim characters are now trained in Item Tinkering, which replaces the racial default Item Appraisal skill.
All experience spent on Appraisal skills, no matter what the character's race, has been refunded.
Spells that increased or decreased the Appraisal skill of a character now affect Tinkering skills. The Item spells that increased or decreased an item's resistance to being Appraised are still available, but at this time serve no purpose. These Item spells may be removed or given a new purpose in the future.
The Ust (the tool used to salvage materials) and a book explaining the basics of Tinkering can be found on sale in the original nine Nexus towns and the racial capital cities of Cragstone, Hebian-to, and Zaikhal.
In order to ensure a good mix of materials at all workmanship levels, the rates at which certain materials are dropped have been slightly tweaked.
All items that can be enhanced or salvaged now display their workmanship as both a name and a numeric value in a separate field when examined. Items without this field cannot be enhanced or salvaged.
Before any enhancement takes place, a confirmation box appears to make sure the player wants to perform this operation.
Tinkered items display the number of times they have been Tinkered and the name of the last person to Tinker the item. Time to make a name for yourself!
In an effort to keep Tinkering honest, any time a Tinker attempts to enhance an item, a local emote will broadcast the result of this interaction. Typing "@filter --craft" can filter out these broadcasts from the chat window. Of course, we recommend that you remove this filter any time you have an item Tinkered by a third party. The local emote broadcast will contain the following information: the name of the item being enhanced, the type of material being applied, and the workmanship of the material being applied. If the item being enhanced is inscribed, the author of the inscription is also broadcast.
Miscellaneous Improvements and Changes
The long-fabled "Wi flag," a troublesome bug that would cause creatures to consistently pick one character to attack over others, has been found and squashed. Wi will live on in our memories. . .
Prismatic Tapers now stack up to 1,000 tapers per stack. Mages rejoice at their regained pack space!
The "@fillcomps" command can now purchase up to 5,000 of one item. Also typing "@fillcomps --clear" will clear out the list and amounts of components the command will try to purchase.
Trade notes worth 150,000, 200,000 and 250,000 pyreals can now be found on all vendors that sell 100,000-pyreal trade notes.
Due to the size of fonts on some systems, the client was truncating the display of 10,000 pyreal stacks to 1000. This has been corrected.
Portals to house dungeons can no longer be linked or recalled to. This should prevent you from losing your portal recall when you enter your house's dungeon.
Deadly Atlatl darts can now be crafted.
New Royal Atlatls, with significantly higher damage modifiers, can be found as treasure.
Arms such as the Isparian weapons, that do increased damage against certain types of creatures, now display this "Slayer" information when examined.
Characters no longer turn towards a target when they try to Appraise it.
Characters that pass through portals before landing on the ground no longer receive impact damage from the portal.
The addition of Foci backpacks introduced the unintended change of making it impossible to open backpacks that were on the ground. This has been fixed.
We fixed a bug that would destroy items with wield requirements if a character attempted to wield that item directly from the ground and not from their inventory.
It is no longer possible to stand upon the Basalt and Obsidian Shards found in various parts of Dereth. This should prevent characters from perching on these shards and attacking creatures.
We've lowered the prices for a number of cooking and fletching creations.
Vendors are trying to display their wares in a more logical order. Prismatic Tapers and Scarabs can now be found at the beginning of component lists, while spell scrolls should now be in a roughly alphabetical order.
Characters can no longer log off in The New Singularity dungeon, which is accessible by providing the correct items to Ecorto the Lost Director. Any character that is logged off in the dungeon will log in at their Lifestone.
We've fixed a bug in the Arcane Pedestal Quest that caused Slithe Tradditor to hand back a Sclavus bronze statue part if given a Skeleton bronze statue part.
The security in the Tenkarrdun Foundry has been beefed up again. Along with a few more changes to areas favored by macros, we've added a few Pyreal Golems to spice things up.
All scrolls should now correctly display whether they are "Self" or "Other" versions of the spell.
When accessing the Covenant Crystal, the display should default to the "Buy" panel for unowned housing and to the "Maintenance" panel for owned housing.
The Barkeeps now sell festival lights.
We've added an Item Scrivener to Uziz, and a 3rd level Item vendor and 4th Level Item vendor to Hebian-To.
The mana cost on Blade Volleys has been cut in half to match the mana cost for the other Volleys.
The mouse-over locations for Wei Jhou and Danby's Outpost were slightly off. These have been fixed.
Characters can now wield Flags in their weapons slot.
Letter to the Players
Original Link (now dead) -http://www.zone.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEletter0702.asp
Letter to the Players
July 18, 2002
As we enter into our July Event, Repercussions, we have a number of things to discuss:
Life Magic Changes
We appreciate the feedback from players over these last few weeks with regard to our life magic changes. From your feedback and that of playtest groups, we have made a few changes to our initial proposed system:
The drain range on the higher level Drain spells has been increased.
Drain 4 Range(Initially Proposed):11 (New):15
Drain 5 Range(Initially Proposed):13 (New):20
Drain 6 Range(Initially Proposed):15 (New):25
Drain 7 Range(Initially Proposed):20 (New):35
The mana cost for the higher level Drain spells has been reduced.
Drain 5 Mana Cost (Old): 60 (New): 55
Drain 6 Mana Cost (Old): 70 (New): 60
Drain 7 Mana Cost (Old): 70 (New): 60
The damage multiplier on the Life Bolt spells has been increased.
Refer to the original Transfer Spell Changes Letter to the Players for more details.
The mid-month Tinkering Letter to the Players, and the bullet points in the dev notes give an overview of what the Tinkering system is and how to use it. We're really excited about this system, and we hope you enjoy it. Characters can find the Ust Tinkering tool and a book which explains the Tinkering system in the nine newbie towns and the capital cities (Zaikhal, Cragstone, and Hebian-To).
Treasure System Changes
This month, we implement the final major step to our treasure system revamping begun back in January. (There will be some minor tweaks and additions in August or September.)
One change which may not be immediately obvious is the elimination of such treasure system oddities as a 6-11 sword with a 250 wield requirement on it. The existence of this type of weapon occurred because we had to use one type of treasure system to generate the basic weapon, and a different system to determine whether the weapon carried a damage bonus that demanded a wield requirement. We have now combined these systems so that all weapons have logical parameters for when they require a wield requirement.
Another result of this change will be the more frequent appearance of higher-damage weapons in all levels of the treasure system.
We also took this opportunity to increase the maximum damage of all weapons, and introduce a new discrete level for the wield requirement. Weapons which now reach their maximum damage potential will have a wield requirement of 325. Each weapon will still have a range of damage that produces a wield requirement of 250. The maximum damage potential (and variance ranges) are listed below.
Please keep in mind that these numbers represent the ranges for treasure found at high levels (e.g., from SIK chests and certain monsters such as Umbris Shadows), and the very highest levels of treasures, such as Singularity Chests and Crystal Lords. Generally, both of these levels of treasure have the same maximum limit when it comes to damage, but you will be more likely to find quality items from Singularity Chests then you will from SIK chests.
Melee weapons now have a maximum attack and defense bonus of 15% (but only through Singularity Chests. SIK Chest-type loot can only reach a maximum of 12%).
Swords now have a max damage capacity of 40. Their variance can shrink to .40.
Axes have a max damage capacity of 36. Their variance can shrink to .40.
Maces have a max damage capacity of 33. Their variance can shrink to .30 (and in some extremely rare cases, .25).
Spears have a max damage capacity of 28. Their variance can shrink to .45. (These numbers really only apply to tridents.)
Unarmed Weapons have a max damage capacity of 14. Rarely, their variance can shrink to .60 (and in some very rare cases, .50).
Staves have a max damage capacity of 15. Their variance can shrink to .30 (and in some extremely rare cases, .25).
Daggers remain unchanged for now.
Bows and Royal Atlatls now have a max damage bonus of 130%. 130% and 120% bows/atlatls have a wield requirement of 250. 150% crossbows now also exist, along with a wield requirement of 250. As mentioned in the bottom section of this letter, missile launchers no longer have attack bonuses, but instead have defense bonuses.
Generally, armor has the potential to have higher armor levels for each type of armor.
This month, we're releasing another 150 Cottages, 40 Villas, and 10 Mansions. We also released another 500 Residential Quarters. For at least the next few months, we will see how much housing demand we can meet with the Residential Quarters, as we are quickly running out of room to put in new landscape dwellings.
Next Month and Beyond
Next month will see additional Tinkering interactions, additional Residential Quarters, a lot of exciting new content, the addition of a skill-based bonus for War spells, and more! We'll see you next month.
--The AC Team
P.S. As promised last month, following is our shocking expose of AC secrets. Enjoy!
As we mentioned in last month's Letter to the Players, there are two secrets about which we feel it is time for us to come clean. One we've suspected for a long time, but the issue proved ever elusive to track down (so elusive, in fact, that we wondered whether it ever existed, our own anecdotal evidence to the contrary). The other we've known about for awhile, but we were unsure what to do about it.
Now the truth will be revealed.
First, the Wi Flag. For those of you who don't know what the Wi Flag means, a little history. From the beginning of AC, some players have complained about unbelievably bad luck. When the swarm of Lugians spawn in the citadel, they will go after certain players--every time. The player's level doesn't seem to matter, nor does the number of other players in the room. What does seem to matter is that this player is cursed with that most unfortunate of distinctions: the Wi Flag.
For some players, the flag came and went. For others, it was a perpetual nightmare, present in nearly every monster experience. To live a Wi-Flagged life meant to be hunted at every turn. Perhaps other adventurers could know peace in a BSD or a Citadel, but there was no rest nor respite for one under Wi.
Our developers at Turbine initially answered these complaints by saying that they could find no such bug. Occasionally, a senior Turbine engineer could be found who would admit that perhaps there was something "not quite right" with the system, but they still could not identify a cause, if one even existed. Easy culprits, such as a malfunctioning random-number generator, were eventually dismissed.
But our search went on. For there were people even at Turbine convinced that the Wi Flag existed, and that they had it in spades.
And then one day, long after most people had learned to either forget or ignore the Wi Flag, the answer was found. Here in the report from Sandra Powers, AC Live's Lead Engineer, on the nature of the Wi Flag. We warn you in advance that it is a very technical explanation, but we hope it is of some interest to those of you who have long been afflicted with this terrible burden.
"Many of our players have complained for a long time that their character are `Wi-Flagged'--that is, that creatures attack them a much greater proportion of the time than random chance or distance should dictate. After looking at the code in depth, I believe I have found out why this might happen.
Generally, a creature chooses whom to attack based on who it was last attacking, who attacked it last, or who caused it damage last. When players first enter the creature's detection radius, however, none of these things are useful yet, so the creature chooses a target randomly, weighted by distance. Players within the creature's detection sphere are weighted by how close they are to the creature -- the closer you are, the more chance you have to be selected to be attacked.
The actual algorithm for selection looks like this: We roll a random number within a certain range--say between 0 and 1. Each player is given a portion of the range based on how close they are to the creature. The closer you are, the larger a portion you get. The player who owns the portion into which the random number falls is selected to be attacked.
This algorithm is sound. The problem comes up when we are assigning portions of the range to various players. If we wanted distance from the creature to be proportional to your chance to be selected--that is, if the closer you are the *less* chance you have of being attacked--then we would assign this range by taking your distance from the creature over the total distance--the distances of everybody under consideration added together. But we really want the inverse of this ratio--so that the closer you are, the *more* chance you have of being selected. So we invert this ratio by subtracting it from 1 to assign you the size of your portion.
A is 5 meters from the creature.
B is 2 meters from the creature.
C is 3 meters from the creature.
D is 10 meters from the creature.
Total distance is 20.
The size of A's portion is 1 - 5/20, or 0.75.
The size of B's portion is 1 - 2/20, or 0.90.
The size of C's portion is 1 - 3/20, or 0.85.
The size of D's portion is 1 - 10/20, or 0.50.
So we assign these people these portions of the total range:
A has between 0.00 and 0.75.
B has between 0.75 and 1.65.
C has between 1.65 and 2.50.
D has between 2.50 and 3.00.
Notice, however, that while the original ratios added to 1 (.25 + .1 + .15 + .5 = 1.0) that the inverted ratios -- and thus the total range from which we should have rolled the random number -- no longer add to 1. Instead, they add to 3. (Some algebra will convince you that the assigned portions always add to n-1, where n is the number of people under consideration.) So in order to randomly select some portion of this total range, we should roll a number between 0 and 3.
But in the existing AC code, we always roll a number between 0 and 1.
You can easily see in this example that if the random number is always been 0 and 1, only A and B have any chance at all of being selected, and A has the majority of the chance. And the reason that these two have all the chance is simply because they are first in the list, and so were assigned the low parts of the range. Normally--if we had rolled between 0 and 3 in the example--your order in the list should have no effect on how likely you are to be chosen. But because we only rolled between 0 and 1, the earlier you appear in the list, the more skewed your chance of selection is. And as it happens, in AC code, your position in this list is determined by the InstanceID of your character, which is assigned when you create the character and never changed. (Note that the InstanceID is hashed--mutated by the system into another number--to determine position. So it's not a simple relationship like the older the character, the earlier in the list they will be. It is, however, a static relationship--an ID that hashes to an early position will always hash to an early position, although it's exact position will depend on what other ID's are also under consideration.)
So what does this mean? The way this random targeting algorithm is implemented right now, if you happen to have an InstanceID that hashes to an early position, you will tend to be attacked more than your fair share when the creature is using random targeting, regardless of your distance from the creature. In other words, you are Wi-Flagged."
We're glad we were finally able to fix this bug. With the July Event, may you know peace in the fast-spawning dungeon of your choice!
The second issue will, in some ways, be both more troubling and more inconsequential for players. HeartSeeker does not affect missile launchers. It never has. Bows, crossbows, and atlatls get no benefit from the HeartSeeker spell or from innate attack bonuses (such as those found on the Singularity Bow). The only variables that determine whether a missile character hits their target is their bow/xbow/tw skill, the missile defense of the target, and where they set their accuracy meter while they are attacking. However, the Defender spell, as well as innate defensive bonuses, do work on missile launchers.
The AC Live team has been aware of this for the last several months. Once we knew the situation, the question became what to do about it. Should we "fix" an issue that probably isn't broken?
Almost no archer/atlatler complains about not being able to hit their target. They have a built in "HeartSeeker" all the time. If anything, most monsters' missile defense scores have historically been so low that many players regard archery as the fastest way to level a character up through the first 30-40 levels. We did not feel that "fixing" such a system would improve the game balance for anyone in Asheron's Call, archer or no.
Ultimately, we decided to resolve the situation through our changes to the treasure system this month. From now on, missile launchers will have a chance of having an innate defensive bonus, but not an offensive one. While many old quest weapons still retain their (useless) attack bonus, we will not be putting any new ones into the system.
As we said, this news may seem inconsequential to many players; however, once we determined the proper solution, we did want everyone to know why we were making these changes.