Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=421
ASHES AND DUST
King Varicci II strode down the hallway, followed by a retinue of robed councilors and huge, armored bodyguards. The clank of their footfalls on the bare stone floor was the only sound in the long, dark stretch of corridor. This remote section of the tunnel complex beneath Sanamar had been given over to a legion of mages and scholars, all laboring to fulfill the King's very ambitious demands.
The King stopped in front of a huge door, constructed of thick slabs of oak, bound with bands of steel and pyreal, and carved all over with protective symbols. Varicci raised his hand, as if to shove the door open, then paused as if remembering something. He grabbed the stout bronze knocker and, very slowly and deliberately, knocked three times. The sounds boomed and echoed down the long corridor.
After a few seconds, the door creaked inward and a bent, sallow man in ragged robes stood before them. "Master Darigo," said the King. "We have come to examine the fruits of your labor."
"Please enter and be welcome, Your Majesty." Darigo bowed deeply and turned to allow the King's group to come inside.
Beyond the door was a large, circular room. The fringes of the room were filled with arcane magical devices and paraphernalia, the tools of the dozen mages who worked daily on one of the King's most important projects. In the center of the room was a stone pedestal, engraved with ancient, alien symbols of blood magic. A malevolent indigo glow emanated from something long and thin on top of the pedestal.
Varicci sniffed the air. "It smells like a storm just hit in here."
"We completed the final enchantment not five minutes ago, great King. His Majesty has exquisite timing."
Varicci snorted. "If I had impeccable timing, we wouldn't be trapped on this benighted world, battling emboldened Bloodless led by an upjumped peasant." Ignoring the other mages in the room, he grabbed Darigo by the arm and marched towards the pedestal. Forced along by the King's heavy hand, Darigo shuffled as quickly as he could to keep up with the King's steps. A few of the King's more courageous or curious councilors followed. The rest stood well back, fear in their eyes as they beheld the darkly glowing pedestal.
Upon closer inspection, the object atop the pedestal was wreathed in swirling tendrils of dark energy. "Is it safe to touch?" Varicci asked. When Darigo nodded, he reached out and gingerly grasped the thing, held it up to the light. "And this thing... will work? You are sure?" He locked eyes with the master mage, watching his eyes for any hint of uncertainty.
Darigo nodded emphatically. "The enchantment has been properly applied and bound. Count Dardante's expertise, especially his modifications to the design of our binding circle, proved to be crucial. But as we expected, our abilities are limited by our incomplete knowledge. The enchantment is so strong and so terrible that the binding will only survive one use."
Varicci nodded. "One use will serve. For now." He held the object up high in front of his face, turning it in his hand. The light coming off it washed against the walls of the chamber, covering everything with an unsettling purple glow. Varicci smiled. It was a savage and wolfish smile, one that promised pain for someone or something else. "I will name you... Heartbreaker."
He placed the object very carefully back in its place on the pedestal. "Excellent work, Master Darigo. You and your colleagues will be well rewarded. But this is no excuse to slow your efforts. This is but the first step. I expect that the translators will have more research texts for you by week's end. Not to mention the artifact that Master Malsivir has located. We expect great advances, once he has brought it to you."
With that, Varicci turned and strode briskly out of the room. His retinue fell into formation behind their monarch as the mages all bowed to the King's retreating back.
Varicci led the group towards the farthest end of the hall, towards a staircase flanked by a pair of monstrous Knights. The stairs led down into a dank warren of tunnels and cells, the Chambers of Vivimancy. Here was where traitors and particularly dangerous criminals were given over to the King's mages, to serve as experimental fodder. Many of the Knights currently serving in the King's legions had ended their previous lives in these very chambers.
The King led his party to the far end of the longest tunnel, to a door made entirely of steel. A small sliding panel was built into the door's frame at head height, to allow the gaolers to look into the cell at the prisoner within. Varicci slid aside the panel. A pair of dully glowing red eyes looked back at him.
"Hello, Commander," Varicci murmured in a soft voice. "We've made you your toy. We're almost ready for your big moment."
Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=426
Two old men sat at a table in the Sanamar tavern, fussing at their meals and nursing mugs of ale.
"I've heard some awful things from the herald this morning, and this ale's not strong enough to take the edge off," said one, as he probed his spoon through his bowl of stew, looking for more hunks of beef.
"What's there to worry about now, Bruno?" the other one sighed.
"Oh, don't roll your eyes at me, Merro," growled Bruno. "Remember, I was right about the portals, wasn't I?"
These two had been having the same conversation about the troubles of the realm of Viamont for over twenty years, on both Auberean and Ispar. The incidents for concern were always different, but the tenor of the conversation remained the same: Bruno complaining about the instability of their King, whether it was about Varicci I in the Bull's Head Tavern in Corcosa or about Varicci II here in the capital-in-exile of Sanamar. The fact that Bruno had been right about the inadvisability of entering that portal back on Ispar gave him enough satisfaction to keep complaining for another twenty years.
"Yes, you were right about the portals," Merro admitted for the thousandth time. He took a long quaff of ale and stole a glance across the bar at the tradesman Rand, wondering if the good brewmaster could brew a beer strong enough to blunt his friend's complaints. "So what was the news you heard this morning?"
"I hear tell the Boy King has sent some of his most valuable soldiers and scholars into some old Empyrean vault –"
"But he's been doing that since we got to this blighted land!" Merro protested.
Bruno sniffed. "Can I finish my story?" Without waiting for a further word from Merro, he pressed on. "This one is different. You know how some of them Aluvians who came through here talked about Asheron?"
"I remember the story. This is the old Empyrean who was responsible for those portals showing up on Ispar?"
"The very same. Well, suffice it to say that instead of opening dusty tombs and stealing headstones to furnish his castle, the Boy King is poking around in this Asheron's personal business! Not wise to anger a big muckety-muck sorcerer, especially when he's committed so many troops to Glenden Wood, and a hundred other follies... Plus, I've heard that this sorcerer is the Aluvian queen's lover!"
"I really wish you'd stop calling him the Boy King," Merro said. "He's our King, and even a gormless old fool like you needs to watch how you speak of him."
Bruno drained his mug. "Bah. He's got bigger fish to fry than me. And I will continue to call him the Boy King. He... His father... He's just not... Not..."
"Not as old as his father? Sons rarely are," Merro quipped. "Maybe you ought to forgive him for waiting until he was a greybeard to call himself King." He finished off his own mug.
Bruno's reply was drowned out by an explosion outside the tavern. The old man jumped in his seat and, with agility that was remarkable for one of his age, dove under the table.
"I knew it, I knew it! The Royal Thaumaturges are coming for me, aren't they?" he wailed.
A dense cloud of smoke wafted into the tavern from outside. Striding through the noxious fumes came a Viamontian noble in stained and torn clothes. He carried a barrel on his shoulder.
"Duke Raoul," muttered Merro, groaning. The Black Fist of Viamont, Duke Raoul Lascera, was well known for causing scandals and uproar wherever he went. It was said that his traveling companion, Apothecary Zongo, was a witch doctor of Souia-Vey who dabbled in poisons and dangerous distillations.
Zongo was nowhere in evidence today, which Merro counted as good fortune. Raoul was scanning the room through bloodshot eyes, when he saw Rand.
"Rand! There you are! Ye gods, I've found it!" Raoul's voice was a guttural, staccato bark. It was a voice that compelled men to obey – if they could understand what he was saying. With that, he stepped toward a table and slung the barrel off his shoulder.
Merro took a good look at the barrel. The tap on top identified it as a keg. The black fist emblazoned on the side indicated that it had been brewed by Duke Raoul. Merro and Bruno looked at each other, and came to the same decision.
Both of the old men stood – Merro from his seat, and Bruno crawling out from under the table.
"I say there, m'lord..." Bruno said. "What's that you've got there, and can my friend and I trouble you for a taste?"
Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=424
New Content and Functionality
A major event has taken place in Glenden Wood. What could happen next?
More Dungeons have been updated this month. Be sure to check out some old favorites for some changes and new visitors.
New Brewing Recipes have been added into the game. Be sure to check out the Bartenders in several towns for more details.
A Barkeep as moved into the Vissidal Merwart Camp. Make sure to stop by for a beverage and see what he has to say.
Ulgrim has moved again. Where has he wandered to this time?
Miscellaneous Changes and Improvements
The True Loyalty buff which is gained by using the Gem of Ardent Loyalty to a piece of Noble armor was overriding major Fealty. This has been fixed.
Presently in the game, Viamontian Pants to not cover the Abdomen or Lower Legs. Graphically, the pants cover the Abdomen, Upper Legs and Lower Legs. This has been fixed so the pants now cover the abdomen and lower legs.
Viamontian Knights were too tall to fit into some hallways with ramps. They have been resized a bit so they can now fit.
A typo on the Olthoi Ripper Spine has been fixed. Olthoi is now spelled correctly on the item.
The spell Taste for Blood on the Mukkir Orb was overriding Major weapon Tinkering. This has been fixed and the spell will no longer override the Major.
The Pack Remoran would face the wrong way when hooked on a housing hook. He now faces the right direction when hooked.
Masks and Guises will continue to be available for another month so that everyone has a chance to collect them all.
Letter to the Players
Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=423
November Letter to the Players
Welcome to the November Letter to the Players.
During the last month, we had a bit of a break from the continuing assault of King Varicci's troops. We were able to celebrate the Festival season in grand style, and even had a few surprises along the way. Now that the festival season is over, what will happen next?
New for November
Our friend Ulgrim is on the move again. Did he leave for a reason, or is he just a bit more active now that the season has changed? If you ask me, I think he was smart to leave Glenden Wood when he did. Bad things may be happening there. It may be wise not to log out in that town this month.
There have been some mysterious rumblings in the Meeting halls. It may be wise to move your mules out of these halls for this month.
Town criers have removed their costumes this month, and let me tell you, they are thankful for that. Some of those costumes can get pretty hot when you are standing in the sun all day.
We have revised some more dungeons this month. Don't forget to check out some of your old favorites for some new twists. The Viamontians have been very curious about what can be found in some of these dungeons.
The Pumpkin Buffer will no longer be in Glenden Wood this month. Make sure to pay it a visit before the November event begins.
Masks and Guises will be available for another month. So for anyone who hasn't had a chance to get some of the new items that came in this year, you will still be able to do so.
The Pack Remoran has been fixed this month. When they showed up last month they would hook backwards when placed on housing hooks. You will be seeing these elusive pack dolls more in upcoming events.
Viamontian Town Criers are no longer doing the drudge dance. They have decided that it is beneath them.
These are some of the game changes that we are thinking about for February 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.
Additional Allegiance Management Improvements
Additional High-Level Hunting Areas
The items that are included in this section are just some of the things we are looking at for future changes. As time goes on this list will continue to change and expand. As always, all in-concept ideas are subject to change with scheduling and priority changes.
Respec Timer Redesign
Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=422
Asheron's Call has gone through several phases of history in its long lifespan. At times, various different templates have been favored either by design or unintentionally. It was for this reason that the Temples of Enlightenment and Forgetfulness were initially introduced - to allow players to change their character into a more enjoyable template.
However, various unintended and less desirable consequences arose from this decision. First with Gromnie Teeth, and then with Tesserae, people would utilize the ability to untrain and retain skills as a means to fast experience. Very little respect for the original template choices a player might make remained.
The intention of our changes to the Temples are to hopefully satisfy the former crowd - those who have templates which are just no fun - while at the same time hindering the latter crowd - those who utilize retraining as an experience point system or who retrain lockpick every other week in order to benefit from that content which was developed for dedicated lockpickers in mind. We want templates to matter, but we don't want them to be a death sentence should you have chosen poorly and realized your mistake at level 40.
Therefore, we will be introducing a scaling timer on all skill and attribute gems. At first, you can get your gems instantaneously, but the timer will increase the more gems of a certain type you get. In order to acquire the gems, you will need to hand a token (which will generate on a 1 minute timer in the Temples) to a statue. The statue will analyze how many times you have received a gem of that type, and if the appropriate amount of time has expired, it will give you a gem. Otherwise, it asks you to come back later, and specifies the total amount of time you must wait. There will be books in the Temples explaining the new timers as well.
To accompany these changes, we have also found it necessary to amend the way Tesserae work slightly. If you receive an untrain skill gem, you will be barred from handing in a Tessera of that skill for 3 months. Also, there will now be a 2 week hand-in timer on Tesserae in general, to prevent people from picking up all their gems at once, waiting for the timer to expire, and then alternating between turning in Tesserae and untraining the skill.
We hope that these changes will add to the game, and we welcome any feedback that you, the players, have on this issue - it is, obviously, a very touchy issue, and we are open to the concept of tweaking this idea in response to feedback from the players. Still, we believe that in this system we have achieved a balance between what the two opposing camps of player thought desire on this issue.