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Friend and Foe

Posted on 12-Aug-2005

High Queen Elysa Strathelar nodded, and the Tumerok emissary took his leave. After he and his retinue had filed out of the throne room, she dismissed her retainers. A dozen Royal Guards and ladies-in-waiting bowed and exited the modestly appointed hall. When they finished their exit, and the only remaining member of the court was Antius Blackmoor, she closed her eyes and rubbed her temples.

"The crown weighs heavier these days," Antius spoke.

She sighed and looked at him. "Yes," she replied. "It does." Elysa stood up and walked to the small serving table against the wall. She poured herself a glass of water from the silver serving pitcher. "You know I never wanted this," she said. "And now that the Viamontians have arrived, I feel more unfit than ever before. They're going to turn this world into a battleground, and I don't know that I can lead our people to victory."

Antius placed his hands on Elysa's shoulders. She closed her eyes and leaned back against his chest. "You are strong, Elysa," he whispered in her ear. "Much stronger than you believe. You will defeat this threat. You always do." He kissed her neck and a sharp tingle ran down the length of her spine. She turned in his arms and gazed up at him, a small smile on her face. She placed a hand on the back of his head and pulled him close. Her heart pounded in her chest as he tightened his embrace and kissed her.

Her skin tingled with an unnatural energy. At first she took it to be the physical sensations of which young love-struck poets so often sing, but the purple light that appeared at the center of the room convinced her otherwise.

They broke their embrace and turned to the light. Elysa placed a hand on her chest, willing her pulse to slow.

Three shapes took form in the center of the room. Purple bubbles swirled about, humming and buzzing, slowly becoming flesh. Flesh and bone solidified, and the purple energies dissipated. Three people - Hendac, Jenavere, and a rather worn and obviously frightened Viamontian - opened their eyes and looked about the room.

Jenavere spotted Elysa, took a step forward, and knelt. Hendac placed a small amount of pressure on the Viamontian's back, forcing him to kneel as well.

"My lady," Jenavere said. "I present to you the Viamontian Carlo di Cenza."


He stepped out of the cage onto the snow-covered beach. He had not seen sunlight in months. For so long, all he had known was the stench of their caves, the reek of their food, and the screams of their captives. But now they were releasing him into the world, a dire mission imprinted on his mind. He wanted to rebel from this mission. He wanted to flee to the Duke's protection, but the desire to do their bidding was too great. Whatever they had done to his mind, they had done too well.

He rubbed his arm where his flesh had been stripped. That limb was hard and twisted now, a gruesome reminder of the creatures' vile attentions.

The Ruschk shoved him forward and grunted. He took their meaning. It was time to begin his quest. These creatures did not permit themselves the luxury of rest, and they certainly did not allow it of their captives. He willed his body to turn and run, to flee across the icy wastelands and seek refuge within the Duke's stronghold - if it still existed. But his body refused to obey his commands. Instead, he simply nodded to the fur-clad barbarians, then calmly turned and walked east.


Sarkin Killcrane had shadowed the cultists for months. The Order had been unusually active of late, sacking ancient tombs and looting tomes of the long-dead Haebrous. The High Queen had commanded Killcrane to haunt their footsteps and discover their goal, but as of yet he had deduced no motive to their actions. However, the nature of the tombs which they penetrated filled him with dread. There was only one reason to search through the tombs of the ancients - power. Dark, malevolent power usually. He feared the cultists had discovered some long-forgotten secret, some key to the dark forces they worshipped.

The cultists disappeared over a sand dune before him. The desert sun beat down on his back, cooking him in his armor. He stopped and took a long drink of water from the waterskin he kept tied about his belt. He surveyed the desert around him, wishing the Order had instead developed an interest in the newly discovered Halaetans rather than this blasted wasteland. He could do with a bit of that chill mountain air.

Until now, Sarkin had not stopped to ponder just why they were in the desert. He had assumed the Order members were on their way to yet another undiscovered tomb. But then Sarkin noticed a tingle in his flesh, and a dark fear crept into his heart.

They were heading south. They were heading in the direction of the Obsidian Plains. Already, he could feel the dark energy of the Bore tweaking his nerves.

No, these cultists had some other destination in mind. They were no longer in search of dusty tomes and molding libraries. The time for research was over.

Sarkin loosened his sword in his scabbard. He feared he might soon need it.


Commander Kurth shoved his sword into the Tumerok's chest and watched the life fade from its eyes. The body slid off his blade and crumpled to the ground amidst the corpses of its brethren.

The Renegade assaults had grown increasingly bold of late. The walls of Fort Tethana were more of a battleground now than they ever had been before. The Renegades clung to their mad desire for this small outpost, for who knew what foolish reason. Kurth fought them back as best he could, which was no small feat given the size of his force. He had petitioned many times for reinforcements from the Queen, but she chose instead to send her soldiers in search of shadows and relics, ignoring the very real threats that continued to assault those cities she was duty-bound to protect.

Kurth returned to his remaining men. Only three had died in this raid, but of course they were back at the lifestone behind the walls. His men looked tired and worn. They were weary of fighting and dying. They were tired of this never-ending cycle of violence. He could not blame them for that. What was all this worth, in the grand scheme of it all? Death did not matter here. Every defeat was but a delayed victory, and every victory a delayed defeat. It would never end. None of this meant a damn thing.

Perhaps that was why the Queen chose to ignore his pleas for aid. Perhaps that was why she left him and his men out here in the desert to rot.

Kurth thought once again of the message he had received - the unexpected offer that had arrived the previous night. Kurth had pledged his loyalty to Elysa long ago, and he was loath to break that allegiance, but the Queen had done little to inspire his loyalty these last few years. He had been too long alone in this blasted desert.

Commander Kurth looked to the north. A glint of metal shone in the mountains above, an emissary waiting on an answer Kurth was afraid to give.

The commander lowered his head and trudged back to the fortress walls.

Rollout Article

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August 2005 Rollout Article

Posted on 17-Aug-2005

Seneschal Dalmour strode out of the Royal Hall and observed the prisoner before him. The man was shirtless, lash marks covering his back and sides. The man lay on his stomach, a massive knight pinning him to the ground with one trunk-like leg. Five other knights stood watch around the Aluvian captive.

Dalmour knelt next to the man and moved the prisoner's sweat-dampened hair from his face. The man glared at him out of the corner of his eye.

"What is your name?" Dalmour asked the man.

The man had trouble speaking due to the weight of the knight's leg on his back. But after a bit of struggle he finally spat, "Jasten."

"Jasten," Dalmour said, "My name is Dalmour. I am the King's seneschal. I understand you bear a message from your Queen."

"Y-yes," choked the prisoner.

Dalmour nodded his head. "Well, I'm sure it's riveting. But I'm afraid I haven't the time. You see, my King, he requires much of me. I have meals to prepare, reports to write, housekeepers to discipline, that sort of thing. I am afraid your Queen's message will just have to wait." Dalmour beckoned to one of the knights. "Meanwhile, I'm going to ask these men here to cut off your arms and legs, okay?"

The knight unsheathed a massive sword and stood over the prisoner. Jasten struggled to focus his eyes on the knight, but was unable to roll over far enough to look at him.

"They're going to keep you alive though, okay Jasten?" said Dalmour. "So don't fret. You won't die on their watch. They're pretty good at this sort of thing." Dalmour stood up and took three steps back from the panicked Aluvian. "But in the event you do die, tell your Queen not to bother sending us any more messages, okay? I'm afraid we're just not interested."

The knight raised his sword high above his head. Dalmour turned and re-entered the Royal Hall as the Aluvian screamed.


Welcome to the August 2005 Event, Friend and Foe! We're awfully excited about this event, there are some great improvements and a jaw-dropping number of new quests.

All of this month's important changes were described in the Letter to the Players -- this month, nothing came up at the last minute that requires further explanation here.

Have fun!

Release Notes

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August 2005 Developers' Notes

Posted on 17-Aug-2005

New Content and Functionality

  • The size of the Withered Atoll has been increased for additional high-level hunting without offensive Life Magic.
  • New styles of weapons have been added to the treasure system.
  • All Hea-style Tumeroks in game have had their art upgraded.

Miscellaneous Changes and Improvements

  • A new splash screen for this month's event!
  • Antius has left Stonehold, leaving an Emissary in his place.
  • The buy/sell rates of the vendors in Sanamar have been adjusted to match the rates in Shoushi, Holtburg and Yaraq.
  • The War spell Dark Flame has had its damage increased to bring it in line with other level 5 projectile spells.
  • The burden of many starting items has been reduced in order to help prevent players from creating new characters that start out over 100% burden.
  • Characters that exit the Sanamar Training Academy now find themselves at the gates of Sanamar, rather than a short distance away. Many of the Portal Guardians have retired, leaving one Guardian at the entrance to Sanamar.
  • Some creature spawns that were too close to housing have been removed.
  • Some trees and bushes that were too close to housing have been removed.
  • Using a Dark Idol on a War Bow no longer changes the name to Dark Longbow.
  • Collectors will now give you a hint as to what to do with a Ruschk Scalp.
  • Tirenia now advises characters to take a group before leaving on the Assault quest.
  • Viamontian Mages and Knights will now protect each other as well as protecting Eaters.
  • Maddened and other crazed Fiun will now protect Eaters.
  • Human-slayer weapons will no longer do bonus damage to any Viamontian Mages or Knights. What magic is this?
  • The chat window margins have been increased slightly.
  • Lila Fiori no longer checks a character's level when sending the character on her quest or accepting the quest items.
  • The vitae loss from the final portal in King Browerk's lair has been reduced from 10% to 5%
  • The Hermit now gives a proportional XP reward in return for completing her quest.
  • The respawn rate on the Brewmaster Spine and Sdolin Buk has been reduced to 10 seconds.
  • It should now be easier to select objects by clicking on the object's radar blip.
  • The signage and portal drop locations for the Samsur Butte and Arida Butte settlements have been corrected.
  • It is now possible to craft Black Marrow Keyrings from Gold Golem Hearts.
  • Banished and Fallen creatures now spawn less frequently on landscape.
  • It is no longer possible to perch on the pillars when fighting Sir Bellas.
  • Some graphics issues in the Augmentation Realm have been resolved.
  • Agents of the Arcanum will now correctly reward level 126 characters and above with 15 million XP in return for Gaerlan's sword.
  • Proportional XP awards received by level 275 characters will now correctly burn vitae loss.
  • Scriveners that sell level 4, 5 and 6 spells can now be found on the Halaetan Isles.
  • It is now possible to select Allegiance Bindstones via the keyboard.
  • Selecting an item in a vendor's shop will now show the number that he has for sale if it is a limited quantity item.
  • It should no longer be possible to get items stuck in container slots on your paper doll panel.
  • Scrolling to the end of long vendor lists and then reopening the vendor should no longer display a blank list.
  • Rare items that have use timers now show the timers when examined.
  • You should now be able to use healing kits, and other items that require a player character target, on fellowship members by using them on the character's name in the fellowship panel.
  • The spawn timers on the notes in the Oswald's Skill Manual quest have been reduced to 30 seconds.
  • Pre-patch Hoary Mattekar Robes should now have the correct icon.
  • The Snow Flake Charm is now ivoryable.
  • It is now possible to pick up Tenassa Leggings and Sleeves from the ground by selecting them with the mouse.
  • The camera stiffness slider now functions properly.
  • Brightness settings are now saved when you log out.
  • You can now hit the spacebar to skip individual slides of the login display.
  • A tooltip now appears when you have dragged an item over to another object, player or NPC in the 3D window, so you can be sure you're about to hand it to the right thing or person.
  • You can now bind a key to "Create Shortcut." The default is the 0 key.
  • We've upped the limits on useable hooked items in several categories. For example you may now hook up to 10 portal devices in a mansion.
  • We've increased the cap on maximum salvage to take into account specialized Salvaging.
  • Two static Black Marrow Reliquaries did not have the correct 1 week timer, this has been corrected.
  • The local broadcast when a Rare is found is now bright pink. In addition, an audio cue has been added.
  • /r now works properly when the shift key is depressed.
  • Hitting OK in the keymapping UI will now save your changes.
  • Hitting the Tab key while in an inscription window will now switch your focus to the chat bar.
  • An extra carriage return at the end of the chat UI has been removed.
  • Clothing such as undershirts and pants can now be removed by dragging them from the paper doll even if they were equipped via the clothing slot.
  • The allegiance UI will now show the correct number of followers beneath the monarch even if that number is greater that 9,999.
  • You can now cancel charging for jump with the Tab, Enter and Esc keys.
  • A bug that could cause the burden and pack space bars to fill from left to right instead of from top to bottom has been fixed.
  • Luressi di Maki no longer trades portal gems for I notes.
  • @log files will now properly show timestamps if timestamps are enabled.

Minor Details

  • Some tooltips have had their margins adjusted.
  • The Tumerok Mine portal is now yellow.
  • There is now an audible click when you press the Chat button.
  • The Knath Lair Portal and the Snow Flame Charms are now inscribable.
  • A tree that was clipping into the Ithaenc Cathedral has been removed.
  • A tooltip for Mana in character creation now correctly indicates that Mana is based on the Self attribute.
  • Many light flares and inexplicably floating objects have been removed from landscape. (Don't worry though, we didn't remove that vase in Nanto!)
  • The description of the Pearl of Defending now correctly notes that it works on casting objects as well.
  • The portraits in Xi Ru's temple have been upgraded.
  • Minor spell icon graphical issues have been resolved.
  • The Soul Chalice now looks green when placed on the ground.
  • Several typos have been corrected in NPC text and item descriptions.
  • The Hebian-To lifestone has been moved slightly to resolve a graphics issue.
  • The icorns for the Brighteye's Favor and Ketnan's Eye spells have been tweaked slightly.
  • A display issue in the allegiance panel when your patron is also your monarch has been corrected.
  • Graphics issues on white loot casting orbs have been resolved.
  • Client auto-centering in windowed mode now takes the taskbar and any docked windows into account.
  • The mouse pointer for resizing the chat window has been improved.
  • It is no longer possible to try to use Chickens. They never did anything anyways, what were you people trying to do?!

Letter to the Players

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August Letter to the Players

Posted on 08-Aug-2005

Welcome to the August Letter to the Players!
This month marks the first content update since the launch of Throne of Destiny and we've got quite an event in store for you. We've been very happy with the reception that AC:TD has received from all of you, including a large number of returning players, and we think you'll be very happy with what you'll be seeing in this event. The August event, "Friend and Foe," is currently scheduled to go live on Wednesday, August 17th. But before we go into details, there's one other announcement I'd like to repeat.

Providence AC Player's Lunch

On Saturday, August 13th, there will be an Asheron's Call fan lunch at the Dave & Buster's in Providence, Rhode Island. This is a combined event for Asheron's Call and Lord of the Rings Online fans, and is completely fan-sponsored and fan-organized! I'll be attending, representing the AC1 Live Team and the Santa Monica Studio, as will Calandryll (Turbine's Director of Community Relations) and members of the LOTRO team. For more information on date and time, as well as how to register, check out Paraduck's post on the official AC Forums.

Now let's take a look at what's coming in the August event and beyond!

Coming Soon

(These are the items that we plan to implement in the August event.)

Tumerok Art Upgrade!

In August we'll be using our new graphics engine to upgrade one of Asheron's Call's original monsters, the Tumeroks! This upgrade is similar to the Skeleton upgrade that was done for the Throne of Destiny release. Tumeroks will have more detailed models and textures and will be found wearing stylized armor. This upgrade will impact the Hea, Renegade and independent Tumeroks. The Aun Tumeroks, who have a more recent and more unique look, are not being upgraded at this time.

That's certainly made Hea Arantah happy! He's very proud of his new look!


New Loot Weapons!

For the August event, we're adding new styles of melee weapons, missile weapons and casters to the treasure tables! From new weapons like the Spine Glaive and Compound Bow to the return of old favorites like the Board with Nail, players will be able to find these new items in loot. They'll be fully tinkerable and imbueable and will be comparable to other weapons in their class, with higher damage wield-requirement and elemental bonus damage variants also available where applicable.

Withered Expansion!

The creatures found in the Withered Atoll creatures that are immune to all non-projectile magic are spreading north and southeast along the Direlands coast in the August event. And there are new camps and new quest weapons to be found!

As we've said in the past, the Withered Creatures are one step in our long-term goal of providing a rewarding play experience for those high-level characters that choose not to use offensive Life Magic.

New Quests!

We've got a lot of great new quests lined up for the August event! We thought we'd tease you with a handful of them:

  • Fort Tethana Tug of War! Characters level 60 and above can investigate rumors that King Varicci is attempting to capture Fort Tethana through covert means. Will you help prevent the fall of one of Dereth's most well-known towns, or will you aid the King in his bid for expansion?
  • New Hunting Quests! Over a dozen new NPCs order characters to hunt specific creatures on landscape. New tech lets you keep track of how many creatures you've killed and how many more you need to complete your quest! There are Hunting Quests for starting characters all the way up to characters over level 140!
  • Sepulcher of Nightmares! What is the Order of the Raven Hand doing on the Singularity Caul? What hideous servants of the shadows will they unleash? Characters over level 100 can investigate and try to put an end to their latest plot!
  • The Books of Grael! Both a Viamontian Royal Agent in Sanamar and an Aluvian scholar in Cragstone seek the mysterious Books of Grael, the records of an ancient barbarian warrior. Characters over level 50 can seek the books and choose whom they wish to help. But wait, why does a Sclavus seek the Books as well?
  • Ricardo's Blood Gem! A Viamontian Rebel named Ricardo tells of Varicci's pursuit of a powerful Falatacot artifact known as the Blood Gem of Rikt Zir. Characters level 80 and above can seek to capture the Gem before the Viamontian King does!
  • Lunnum's Pyre! A pyre burns in honor of the last female Fiun to survive the Eaters' onslaught and flee to Dereth. The pyre's guardian seeks characters above level 100 to restock the pyre's fuel, so that the memory of Lunnum is not lost.
  • The Hunt for Muldaveus! Ten months ago, the Burun named Torgluuk turned on Niarltah and Muldaveus, the leaders of the Tumerok and Lugian Renegades. Since that day, their whereabouts have been unknown. Level 80 characters and above are being recruited by a wanderer who seeks to follow the Lugian Warlord's trail!

And, of course, there are many other new quests, creatures and items to be found in the August event!

In Development

(These are the game changes that we are working on for the September event. None of these items are guaranteed to be added for September as scheduling and priorities can change. These changes are in addition to the new quests, dungeons and items that we'll be introducing in the September event. Your feedback on these topics is particularly valuable.)

Additional High Level Hunting!

In September we plan to add further hunting environments for high level players. We'll be creating additional versions of some of the existing dungeons, such as the Path of the Blind, in much the same way that there are multiple Black Spawn Dens and Lugian Citadels. We'll also be tweaking the experience rewards of some high level hunting dungeons to make them more valuable. In addition, we plan to add some new and unique high-level landscape hunting. Keep your eyes peeled for some of the teaser screenshots we expect to release in late August or early September!

Treasure Improvements!

We plan to add some new loot items to the treasure system in September as well as upgrade existing items. These include:

  • Crowns, hats, shoes and gloves that spawn with much higher Armor Level than can be found currently! Now you can wear that Major Strength crown into battle!
  • Cantrips on jewelry and clothing!
  • Level 7 spells on loot!
  • Increase the damage on elemental wands through spells or tinkering! That high Melee Defense wand will no longer be the best wand in your arsenal!
  • Improved elemental protections on Leather, Studded Leather and Scalemail armor, plus clothing!

Global Chat Channels!

Remember when I talked the enormous amount of work that went into the new User Interface back-end, and how this would allow us to much more easily make improvements to the game?

Yeah. Oh yeah.

In September we plan to introduce four global chat channels as well as new Chat UI improvements! The four channels will be:

  • General
  • Trade
  • Looking for Group
  • Roleplay

Players will be able to join or leave these channels in much the same way that they can join or leave their global Allegiance chat channel.

We'll be providing more information about these new systems in a separate article around the same time as the September Letter to the Players.

In Concept

(These are the game changes that we are thinking about for October and beyond. We cannot guarantee when or even if any of these changes will be added to the game, as scheduling and priorities can change. These changes are in addition to the new quests, dungeons and items that we'll be introducing in each monthly event. Your feedback on these topics is particularly valuable.

If not mentioned elsewhere in this Letter, topics listed as In Concept in prior articles have not changed status.)

Chat Windows!

To make it easier to manage the new Global Chat Channels, along with the many existing forms of chat, we are working on new chat windows. These will be floating, transparent, movable and resizeable windows that can be configured to show any of the existing chat types or channels. This is in addition to the main chat window, which will stay in its current location and gain the ability to have various chat channels and types added to it or removed from it.

Fellowship Improvements!

We are working on major improvements to the way in which information about your Fellowship is displayed. This includes radar improvements to allow you to more easily find members of your Fellowship and a floating window to allow you to more easily track the health and other vitals of your Fellowship members.

Friends Panel!

We are also developing a new Friends UI panel to allow you to more easily manage your friends list and communicate with the players on said list. This will be in addition to the existing /friends command-line functionality.

To see a list of prior In Concept articles and topics, check out the Current and Past Development Topics web page.

Well, there you have it our plans for August and beyond. New quests, new content and new features& it's a great time to be playing Asheron's Call!

See you in Dereth!

- Ibn