Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=443
A Change in Tactics
Atop a long stretch of castle wall, a solitary knight in black armor paced between thick stone crenellations. To the west, the sun was setting over the sea. To the east, snow-capped mountain peaks glowed with the red light of dusk. In the castle yard beneath, blunted weapons rang out as black-clad acolytes sparred with training masters.
The knight turned when he heard footsteps behind him. A tall, muscular woman dressed in black and grey leather armor approached from one of the castle towers. He smiled faintly and ran his fingers unconsciously through his hair.
"I heard your footsteps when you were in the tower," he said.
She nodded. "I was not trying to conceal my presence this time. My own training master, years ago, told me that if you spend too much time trying to sneak up on people, it changes the way you carry yourself in all manner of things."
The knight looked back towards the mountains, considering her words. Then his gaze drifted back down to the acolytes training in the yard. "The recruits seem to be doing well."
The woman made a sour face. "With all due respect, Grand Master, you haven't been here long enough to judge. They still have fundamental flaws in the way they approach combat. They are too willing to take hits because they are too certain of their own immortality."
The knight laughed. "You can hardly blame them for that. They are young, and have lived for as long as they can remember under the saving power of lifestones."
"Every asset that you take for granted provides your enemies with a vulnerability to exploit. I had not thought that lesson would be forgotten here."
"Wise words, and I won't argue further on that point," the knight conceded. He turned to face her. "Were you always this brazen with your previous commander?"
"My previous commander had little use for polite or indirect speech, Grand Master." She looked directly at him, challenge in her eyes. He met her gaze, determined not to back down. They held the impasse for a few moments, then she turned to look towards the hills and forests to the south.
"Troublesome things are happening out there," the woman continued. "Have you heard the latest reports from the inland Monitors? There is something afoot with those elemental essences..."
"Aye, and more dark secrets bubbling up in Blackmire Swamp, and activity among the creatures of shadow..." He waved his hand in a vaguely dismissive gesture. "We may be too dependent on lifestones, but we are not strangers to otherworldly threats. We have been through a few on our own. And I am not sure the order needs to get involved with anything beyond the war we are currently fighting."
The woman shrugged. "Ignore the other events at your own peril. I can assure you, our opponent will not ignore them."
"Our opponent has re-formed the Rossu Morta, or had you not heard? Given what I know about them, I think they should be our primary concern."
"I don't need a briefing to be convinced of the danger of the Rossu Morta," the woman responded, with an edge in her voice. "The Rossu Morta..." she sighed, shook her head, and spat over the side of the castle wall. "Some other time, maybe when I've had a few drinks, I'll tell you about my own experiences with those butchers." She looked down into the castle yard. "Any one of those acolytes could be an infiltrator. Any one of them."
"So what do you suggest we do? Bar the gates and throw them all out? The Monitors have done all they can to make sure that each one is loyal."
"I am sure they have. But who monitors the Monitors?"
The knight smiled. "Who monitors the Monitors? I do."
"Grand Master, I have great respect for you and your capabilities, but you are still just one person, and our enemies are many and varied. I may be paranoid, but that does not mean I am wrong." She turned abruptly and walked away, vanishing into the tower door from which she had emerged. He watched her go, his smile curling into a grimace of bitterness and anger.
"It's not just me," he whispered, his fist tightening in its black mailed gauntlet.
Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=445
The apprentice scaled the rocky face, rushing to his appointment with his master. He was young, leanly muscled, and moved with the graceful economy of motion that suggested a lifetime of warrior training. He was dressed in a light but sturdy combination of mail and leather armor. A long dagger hung from his side, and in a sheath behind his back, a larger weapon gleamed with magical energy. Barely breathing hard, he pulled himself over the line of a ridge and turned around to enjoy the view.
The view from the top of the ridge was breathtaking. Behind and beneath him, the placid waters of the Inner Sea washed against the bottom of sheer cliff faces. All around him were snow-dusted peaks and ridges. And in the valley below... He squinted, straining his eyes to see past the glare of sun on snow. An army was gathering. It looked like a sizable force, and they were rallying around red banners. He noted the size and disposition of the gathered forces, and turned to continue up the ridge towards his meeting.
When he turned, he came face to face with his master, a sardonic grin upon the older man's lips, and a dangerous, deadly glint in his eyes.
"M-Master," he stammered, surprised and more than a little scared. "I had not looked to see you this far from the mountain."
"And so you let your guard down, Adso?"
"No, but I was more concerned about collecting intelligence on that army down below."
His master stepped back and appraised him coolly, absently scratching the hair on his chin. "A scout who allows himself to be surprised is a dead scout, Adso."
Adso bowed. "I apologize, Master."
"Still, you have good eyes, to have noticed them gathering down there." He nodded his approval, then beckoned Adso to the meager shade offered by a scrub evergreen.
"Do we, or, uh, I mean, do you have any business with the soldiers down there?" Adso's skin prickled with the audacity of his question, but he had learned that his master preferred bold apprentices who would test, but not overcome, his control.
"Not yet, no. And while their presence is interesting, I doubt it will prove to be of much significance to us." His master turned to look at him, and again Adso felt like secrets were being stripped away under the intensity of his scrutiny. "Why don't you tell me about that new weapon you're carrying? I could smell the magic on it from two hundred yards downwind."
Adso carefully drew the glowing blade from the sheath at his back and held it out for inspection. His Master was careful to keep his hands away from it.
"Interesting... A familiar pattern to the metal, obviously, but the stone, and the magical emanations are... thrillingly unfamiliar. Did you just assemble it?"
Adso nodded. "I had to consult with the Alchemist to learn how to do it, Master. And I had to carry out some, ah, intensive research of my own."
"Did she recognize you? Or ask you questions about whom you serve?"
Adso shook his head quickly. "She seemed more interested in the stone than in the person who showed it to her, Master."
"Good... If their interest in this new stone is any indication, perhaps the fools have finally begun to catch on to the true nature of their enemies. Though the lesson may be too late for some."
With that, master and apprentice turned their backs on the army gathered far below them, and began their ascent into the mountains.
Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=444
New content and Functionality
A Character Title Panel has been added to the game. When you first log on after the event goes live you will have your current title added into this panel. Any title you gain after that will be added to the panel. At any time players will be able to change the title they are displaying to other players, as well as the number of titles they have earned. Ifplayers so choose, theycan keep the number of titles they haveto themselves, by simply changing a setting in the character options.
The first of our PvP changes will be going in this month. By completing a quest, players will be able to get an item that will give them a 10% boost to the attack modifier of the weapon they are holding at the time they use the item.
The series of quests which were started in Throne of Destiny will continue with new quests that will continue to ask you to make a choice in the war between Queen Elysa and King Varicci.
The Real Time Rare system has been added into the game. This is the Rares system that we had spoken about in the LttP. You can read more about this new system in our February Letter to the Players.
Miscellaneous Changes and Improvements
When we removed some of the seasonal body part drops, some Moarsman stopped dropping Moarsmuck on death. This has been fixed and all Moarsman who should be dropping the Moarsmuck now are.
The creatures that drop the Pirate Patch were dropping them at a 100% rate. This was not intended. The drop rate on these is now correct on these.
Players can now assign a key to the action 'Move selected item to main pack'. This action is very much like 'Move selected item to inventory' (the F key by default), but it ignores whatever pack you have open.
We have also added a new character option that allows you to use your main pack as your preferred pack; instead of the pack you have open at the time.
The Darktide world is getting it's much needed hardware upgrade this month, The goal of this upgrade is to help improve performance on this world. With the environment being different from other worlds, it can put more strain on the hardware.
The drop rate on the higher tier Rare items has been increased slightly. The goal of this change is to let players see more of the higher tier rare items.
While doing some testing, we discovered the way that some ring spells were casting, in particular Ravens Fury, was not correct. In effect if you were standing behind the caster of the ring spell you could get hit by the spell twice. This lead to the effect of double damage from one actual spell. The error has been fixed.
Players will no longer be able to send out messages using the green text. This was not an intended behavior, and has been resolved for this month.
Letter to the Players
Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=441
February Letter to the Players
Welcome to the February Letter to the Players.
Last month we saw some exciting new features and changes in Asheron's Call. We saw some movement on the part of Queen Elysa in the ongoing effort to Stop King Varicci and his forces. Will we see this trend continue, or will Varicci strike back?
New for February
Character Title Panel
In the January event we introduced the Friends Panel. In this month we have another exciting new feature we would like to introduce, which is the Title Panel. With this panel you will be able to change your character's display title which is the title that other players see when they look at you any time you want to any title that you have listed in your Title Panel.
The first time you login after the February event goes live, the title you currently have will be automatically added to your Title Panel. Unfortunately, we previously had no way to track any titles that you may have gotten and discarded, so we are not able to automatically add any of your past titles. But any title you gain after this will be added into the panel, and will then be immediately available to use as your display title.
One really cool feature of the panel will be the ability for others to see how many titles you have when they ID your character. Like fishing skill or chess rank, you can turn this bit of information on or off through a Character Option.
Last month we introduced some changes to the way inventory is managed on players. After reading the feedback we got on these changes, we have added a couple of new options for inventory management with this month's update.
You can now assign a key to the action 'Move selected item to main pack'. This action is very much like 'Move selected item to inventory' (the F key by default), but it ignores whatever pack you have open. This should be useful for those of you who regularly used the F key to sort items in your side packs into your main pack.
There is also a new character option that allows you to always use your main pack as your preferred pack, instead of using whatever pack you happen to have opened at the time.
We hope that these options, plus the inventory management changes we implemented last month, will help all players manage their inventory in a way that's convenient for them. And of course we'll be watching for your continued feedback on this matter.
Quest Driven Loyalty Decisions
This month we will continue the series of quests, started in Throne of Destiny, that ask you to make a choice in the ongoing war between Queen Elysa and her followers and the forces of King Varicci. Be careful in your choices. They may have an effect on quests in the future. The things you decide to do now will affect the future of your character for a long time to come.
The first of our PK improvements will be going into the game in February. By completing a quest, players will be able to pick up an item that gives a 10% bonus to the attack modifier of the weapon they are holding at the time when they use the item. Please note that this spell does not affect any weapon that is not enchantable, which includes the Weeping suite of weapons. As we continue to move forward, more changes will be made in this area. We will be continuing to get player feedback on what things are most important to PvP and what changes need to be made. We appreciate all of the feedback we have gotten up to this point, and we are looking forward to continuing the dialog about these issues.
Darktide Hardware Upgrade
We are happy to announce that on the day the February event goes live on February 15th, we will be giving the Darktide server its much needed hardware upgrade. All of the worlds will be down from 9am EST until 3pm EST for the update, but Darktide will remain down until 6pm EST in order to receive the new hardware. We regret the necessity of the extra downtime, but this is not a trivial operation and we want to make certain that it is completed correctly. As always we will inform you of any changes to this, as well as keeping you updated on the status of the upgrade on the day it is happening
Rares System Changes
When we the introduced rare item system in the Throne of Destiny expansion, we had two main goals: the system as a whole should effect a large number of players; while at the same time, rares should be rare, and finding a rare item should be a special event. We designed a two-pronged approach that would help us meet these goals. First, you would have a tiny, tiny chance of finding a rare with each eligible creature that you killed. And second, you would also have a tiny, tiny chance of finding a rare each day that you logged into the world.
Unfortunately, we didn't have the resources at the time to complete both prongs, so Throne of Destiny shipped with rares based on creature kills only. Now half this system is arguably better than none, but we've always wanted to get the rest of the system in place. And we finally had the opportunity with the February update.
So let's talk about this new part of the rare item system. You've heard us call it the 'login rare system' before, but a more accurate name would be 'real time rare system' because finding these rares is based on real time, not on the number of creatures killed. In short, every character with the Throne of Destiny expansion is guaranteed the chance to find at least one rare item every two months, in addition to the rare items that they might have found in that time in the old way.
What do you have to do to benefit from this new system? Nothing special! You will still find rare items by killing eligible creatures. The real time rare system just makes sure that regardless of how limited your play time is, and even if you have a streak of bad luck, as long as you can get out and do a little killing, you will find at least one rare item every two months.
In addition, we've had time to collate the data about how many rare items players are finding so far. Even with the addition of the real time rare system, this number is a bit low, especially for the highest tiers of rare items. What good are all these super-cool rare items if no one ever finds them? So also in the February update we will be making your chances of finding a high tier rare item just a smidgeon higher.
These are just some of the changes that will be taking place in the February Event, A Change in Tactics.
These are some of 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 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.