Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=428
THROUGH SACRIFICE, STRENGTH
The Map Room in the palace of Queen Elysa Strathelar was secured with a pair of massive oak doors, barred against unwanted interruptions. Flanking the doors were a pair of massive soldiers, among the elite of the Queen's forces. They stood at attention, keeping a silent lookout, alert for the miniscule chance that some hostile intruder would be able to get past the outer defenses of the royal palace and threaten the privacy and confidentiality of the Queen's deliberations.
The guards were used to hearing the muffled traces of loud arguments behind the thick doors. It seemed that, in times of a crisis in the realm, the Queen's councilors became more likely to shout at each other during these secret meetings. The guards could even tell the councilors by the sounds of their voices. They could never hear specifics of the conversations, aside from a particularly loud and angry curse word, but they could almost piece together the course of a debate based on the pattern of raised voices.
The debate in the map room this day was different from past gatherings, however. The guards could only discern one voice raised in anger. It was a younger voice that had not often been heard in those chambers, and never with such rage behind it. This was the first time that the Map Room guards had overheard a Strathelar family argument.
"... and by doing nothing, we let everyone think we're just as weak as that monster Varicci says we are!"
Elysa sighed. They'd been arguing in the Map Room for almost an hour. A simple geography review had turned into an emotional and not entirely rational debate. This was the third time that Borelean had used that argument against her. Did he think she'd failed to hear him the first two times?
"What would you have me do, my son?" she asked.
Borelean gestured at the map of the realm that covered the surface of the table. "Launch an attack on one of Varicci's holdings! Retake Fort Tethana, or Marae Lassel... Just stand up for our people, mother! Don't let the Viamontians think they can take over any town they like! Don't let Antius die in vain..." He stopped talking then, quieted by a fresh surge of grief for his fallen mentor.
"Has it occurred to you, son, that the rush to confront the Viamontians in a battle of their choosing led Antius to his death? I did not ask him to go to Glenden Wood."
"It has occurred to me, mother, that Antius was the only one that people saw defending them against Varicci's monsters, and he died, alone, at the hands of a battle commander whose loyalty you lost!"
"Do not throw Kurth in my face again, Borelean. I acknowledge that I made a grave error in failing to support Kurth-"
"And you made the same error with Antius!" Borelean sprang out of his seat this time, towering over his seated mother.
Elysa stood up as well, to match angry glares with her son. Though he was still an adolescent and not yet grown into his full height, he was as tall as she was, and he seemed to draw some power from their matched heights. Summoning up her anger and the commanding presence that years of rule over an imperiled realm had taught her, she seemed to grow taller in her son's eyes as she let out some of her own emotion.
"Whatever weakness you think you see in me, my son, or whatever weakness you think our people see, you will still address me with respect as your Queen and as your mother. I have listened to what you have to say, and I say again that, until we know more of Varicci's true capabilities, we will not engage him in open battle! Not as long as there is some possibility that he has more of those terrible weapons. Varicci is trying to bait us into a full war! Antius will have died in vain if we refuse to take any lessons from what happened to him!"
Borelean sat back down, making a visible effort to master his emotions. Soon Elysa found herself staring across the table at a boy with a deceptively blank face, who seemed to be only vaguely aware of her presence in the room. After a long and uncomfortable silence, he looked at her and asked, "May I return to my chambers now, mother?"
She nodded for him to go, trying to keep her own composure. It took a lot of effort for her to keep her own pain and fear from showing through. As he stopped in front of the doors to raise the crossbar, she called out to him. "Borelean. My son."
He stopped at the door. He didn't turn to look at her, but he cocked his head to let her know he was listening. "Sometimes the true test of a leader's strength is in knowing when not to fight. No matter how much she wants to." It took more strength than she knew she had to keep her voice from breaking.
Borelean turned his head to look at her. His eyes were calm. His expression was no longer angry, but neither was there warmth in his gaze. "As you say, mother." He nodded slightly, then lifted the crossbar, pushed open the doors, and left.
Elysa watched him go. As soon as the doors shut behind her son, she cried quietly, her body shaking very slightly with sobs of grief.
Borelean slammed his bedroom door behind him. He took a long series of deep breaths to center himself. Then he picked up his sparring sword, went into the adjoining practice room, and began the exercises that Antius had taught him. He knew the movements so well he could do them in his sleep. He had become even more dedicated to his sword practice in the wake of Antius' death.
Halfway through his training session, he stopped suddenly, cutting short the follow-through on an overhand slash. He sensed he was no longer alone in the room. Scanning his surroundings quickly with alert and well-trained eyes, he located the intruder, in a corner behind him. He turned, dropped into a guard stance, and then just as quickly let his guard back down.
"Oh," he said, with some distaste, "it's you."
"It's me," the intruder agreed. "I take it the discussion with your mother went no better than yesterday's?"
Borelean shrugged. "It lasted longer and I made her more upset than I did yesterday. No, I did no better."
"She's a hard-headed woman. And hard-hearted, it seems. The realm cries for vengeance, and still she urges caution..."
"I'll not have you speaking so of my mother. It's bad enough that I even talk to you. And I know you're just trying to manipulate me. I shouldn't have gone back to her for another argument today. It's just making things worse."
"You're probably right," said the intruder. "Let's talk about ways to make things better. Did you do all that reading I told you to do?"
Borelean nodded. "Yes, but I had to sneak into the restricted wing of the library for some of the books you told me to read."
"Clever lad. Let's continue your education."
Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=431
December 2005 Rollout Article
Count Dardante sat at his desk, pouring over a diagram of arcane sigils that had been copied from an ancient tomb by some of his assistants. He'd spent the last several days analyzing a sheaf of such tracings, and felt no closer to unlocking the mysteries they contained.
He put aside the papers, rubbing his eyes in exhaustion. There was a knock on his office door, and then the door swung slowly open. Dardante prepared a biting rebuke for whichever of his assistants intruded upon him without being called in – and then he noticed that the intruder was his King, Varicci II.
"Majesty... I had not expected you here at my remote outpost," Dardante said, trying to pull together his scattered thoughts.
"I didn't think you would expect me, Dardante. How goes the translation effort?"
Dardante grimaced. "It comes slowly, Majesty. The sigils bear superficial resemblance to some of the ones we found on the Dericostian tombs, but when we try to read the characters together, the language is gibberish... I think we have stumbled across yet another Empyrean sect, which uses a very similar alphabet."
Varicci snorted. "These Empyreans are even more fractious and troublesome than the Bloodless on Ispar." He tapped on Dardante's desk. "The real reason I have come is to bring you out of here. I would have you return to Sanamar for a time, to advise me on our current efforts in the Grael matter."
"Is there new information on that one?" Dardante asked.
"There is. It may, in fact, shed further light on the nature of the beast himself. The scholars who examined this latest set of artifacts are quite excited. They seem to have found themselves a firsthand account of Grael."
Dardante rose from his desk eagerly. "Say no more. True first-hand sources would be invaluable. We spent far too much time pursuing the false leads and ignorant theories we found among those benighted cultists."
With that said, Dardante rolled up the pages of arcane diagrams to take with him. He wanted to share them with the scholars in Sanamar again. He locked the rest of his notes in a chest behind his chair. With his office secured, he turned to accompany the King outside.
On their way to the courtyard of the fortified compound, another question occurred to Dardante. "Majesty, if I may ask, whatever became of those cultists we captured?"
"Most of them were given over to the Vivimancers for reshaping. We had wanted to keep them in captivity longer, in the unlikely chance that we would be able to extract some useful knowledge from them... But given some of our recent military setbacks, the need for shock troops overwhelmed that consideration. A few of the most thaumaturgically promising have been kept, in case we do decide we need to wring more secrets from them, or simply use them as experimental fodder."
Dardante nodded. "It would be a good to have a few on hand for some more severance experiments that I had in mind," he said. "If we can solve that problem without having to delve too deeply into the mysteries of Grael, I would consider the realm well served."
Varicci stopped to look at his most senior thaumaturgical advisor. "It is true that I am only interested in Grael so far as knowledge of him, or his power, would serve the war effort... But you, my friend? If we had our severance solution tomorrow, would you truly abandon your Grael research?"
Dardante smiled slowly as he turned to face his King. "No, Majesty. For my own interest, I want to know all there is to know about Grael."
Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=429
December 2005 Developers' Notes
New Content and Functionality
(Please note that this list does not include all of the content going in, such as quests.)
The winter season is upon us. That means snow has fallen once again.
Scarecrows and Pumpkin Golems have been removed from the landscape, and have been replaced with Snowmen.
The Glenden Wood Orb can now be turned into and NPC for a scroll that will teach you the recall spell.
The Town of Yanshi has finally been rebuilt. It is now located near the Old Yanshi Festival grounds. A memorial to Antius Blackmoor has also been placed outside the town, so that everyone may pay their respects to a fallen hero.
The Invasion of Glenden Wood has been pushed back and the Guard Captains have now moved in and secured the town again. Make sure to speak with The NPC's in town to get all of the latest happenings in that area.
Tusker Spit and Moarsmuck is now stackable.
The Temples of Forgetfulness and Enlightenment have been revised. You can see how the new system works here.
The shards that players collected when trying to help out Antius, will have a use this month.
Miscellaneous Changes and Improvements
The bug that caused players hotkeys to not be saved on logout has been fixed.
Several small typos have been fixed
The Scarecrow guise said in its description that it did not cover the head when it actually did. This is now fixed.
Snowmen were facing the wrong direction in the examination panel. This has been fixed.
Letter to the Players
Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=427
December Letter to the Players
Greetings and welcome to the December Letter to the Players.
In the last month we saw King Varicci took his assault to the next level. Through some form of dark design, King Varicci was able to acquire and use a new type of weapon to kill Antius Blackmoor. What will Queen Elyssa's reaction to this be? Will she send out an immediate force to seek revenge? Or will she be too upset at the loss of someone so important to her?
New for December
After gathering feedback from the players, the changes to the Temples of Forgetfulness and Enlightenment have gone in this month. We feel these changes will help both new and old players make changes to their characters while also not allowing anyone to abuse the abilities granted by these temples. The following is a list of how the timers will be changed when you go to the temples after the December event goes live.
Also please note there is a 2 week timer on handing in any Tesserae.
The Hotkey issue that was causing players to lose their save hotkey selections has been resolved. The items that players put in the hotkey slots should now stay there after they log off.
Players will be able to turn in their Glenden Wood Recall Orb for a scroll of the same spell. This will allow players to still have the recall without having to have the orb which can cause players to get stuck in combat mode.
The winter season is here and once again snow has started to fall. This seasonal change also means that some creature spawns will change accordingly. Scarecrows and Pumpkin Golems have been removed from the landscape. Instead players will find an increasing amount of Snowmen spawning throughout the land.
With the death of Antius, the people of Dereth have realized that a change is in the air. This has prompted them to take action. The town of Yanshi has finally rebuilt and has been fortified. You can find the new town near the Yanshi festival grounds. There has also been a memorial built there for the great Antius Blackmoor. Deep below the memorial, Antius lays in his final resting place. The citizens of Dereth may still go and pay their respects if they already haven't done so.
The invasion of Glenden Wood appears to have been pushed back, thanks to the aid of the brave people of Dereth. The Royal Captains have now moved in and have secured the area. Though there are still reports of some Viamontian activities in the area. Speaking to Tomo Genza may yield more information on this.
These are some the game changes we are thinking about for the upcoming months in Asheron's Call. 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 we'll be introducing in each monthly event. Your feedback on these topics is particularly valuable.
PK/PKL Arenas(more details on these will be coming)
Additional Allegiance Management Improvements
Additional High level Hunting Areas
Story Driven Loyalty Decisions
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.