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July 2006 - Patch Page

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Toward Ancient Shores

Captain Tharnoch crouched behind a tall rock, perfectly concealed against the mottled texture of the stone. He had followed his Queen's orders all the way to this desolate and dangerous perch. His eyes scanned a beach strewn with many of these large rock formations and the enormous shells of dead mollusks. A stone's throw away, the pale sands gave way to cliffs of black rock. At the base of the black cliffs, a group of three Ruschk stood together, muttering to each other with grunts and hisses. As yet, they were still unaware of his presence, but that would change soon enough, as soon as he'd completed his observations...

He strained to listen to what they were saying, but the rhythmic crash of waves and the call of seabirds interfered with his hearing. He had heard enough to be able to tell that these Ruschk were not like the ones he'd spent years fighting on the Halaetans. The darkness of the night sky, with one moon still obscured by mysterious darkness, similarly made it difficult for him to properly examine his foes. The brutes did not seem to have the same coloration as their Halaetan cousins. Even under the light of a new moon, the Ruschk of the frigid islands seemed to glow with a chill inner light. These Ruschk were dark... so dark that they seemed to suck in the pale light reflected by the sands of this strange shore.

Cursing inwardly, Tharnoch decided he'd need to risk a closer approach. He paused to take a drink from his flask to fortify himself. He felt the enchanted brew burning through him as he swallowed, and his limbs grew lighter and stronger. That done, he started to creep forward, very slowly, trying to keep himself in the shadow of the rocks. He got close enough to get a good look at the masked face of one of the brutes. Its eyes were not the pale blue he'd expected, but dark and empty, like holes into an empty void. Then the smell hit him... the stink of corpses and corruption. He wrinkled his nose and reached for his sword.

At that moment, one of the Ruschk noticed him, roared in rage, and charged at him. The other two quickly joined in the attack. The old warrior drew his blade, glowing with runes of powerful enchantments, and braced his shield to meet the charge. The first charging Ruschk barreled into him, and the shock of the impact was stronger than Tharnoch expected. He threw himself backwards, still agile after almost thirty years of battle, and rolled back to his feet in a better defensive posture.

The Ruschk came onward, battering at his shield and armor with heavy, clawed hands. He struck back, swinging his sword in powerful arcs. Lumps of black flesh and foul, corrupted gore went flying as Tharnoch hacked at his assailants. He concentrated on the first one that had attacked him, determined to cut them down one at a time, warding off the other two as well as he could. No matter how hard he hit it, the foul beast kept swinging wildly along with its companions. Their fists struck his shield with all the force of a Viamontian warrior's flanged mace. A particularly nasty swipe from the one on his right cracked a rib, and the one on the left smashed his shield so hard that his entire left arm went numb.

Finally, the first one fell, after absorbing a dozen of Tharnoch's best hits. Defending now against two of these unnatural monsters, he was able to settle into a more comfortable battle rhythm. He had enough space to maneuver to use his feet as well as his shield to avoid attacks. They still managed to hit him, and hit hard, but he felt more in control of the fight. Not so long after the second one fell, the last of the three monsters fell in a pile of splintered bones and withered flesh.

He unslung his shield, drove the point of his sword into the ground, and knelt on one knee, letting his weary shoulders droop for a moment of rest. All around him, puddles of blood and gore steamed and began to sink into the sand.

He rested his right hand on the hilt of his sword as he reached for the flask of health potion on his belt. This entire island looked to be infested with very dangerous beasts, and he knew he wouldn't have much time to recover on his own. He unstopped the cork with his thumb and raised the flask to his lips, when he saw a purple light behind him, reflected in the polished metal. Without stopping to think, he rolled forward. There was a roar, and the ground shook behind him.

When he managed to get to his feet and spin to face the new threat, his heart sank. Three more of these blackened Ruschk stood where he had been. The one in the middle towered above the others, and stood taller even than a man. His shield lay in the sand where he'd let it fall, inconveniently by the feet of the oversized brute. He knew he wouldn't be able to get to it to defend himself. He whispered a prayer as the big one, clearly some kind of a chieftain or leader, gestured at him, and the two smaller ones advanced.

Tharnoch prepared to throw himself forward, determined at least to slay the large one before the others tore him to pieces. He took the first step, and then was thrown off-balance by another flash of purple light, this one behind the leader. The big Ruschk didn't even get a chance to turn around before a glowing blade erupted from its chest. Black viscera sprayed all over the sand. The creature's limbs jerked once and went limp. A shriek pierced the air, and Tharnoch could not decide if the sound came from the dying Ruschk or from the blade that had killed it. The creature pitched forward into the sand like a practice dummy cut loose from its frame and landed with a moist, meaty thump.

The other two Ruschk, seemingly confused by the fall of their leader, paused. Tharnoch didn't hesitate. He leaped to attack the nearest one. He was dimly aware that another combatant, whoever it was who had killed the leader, had stepped forward to engage the other.

In a matter of moments, both of the remaining Ruschk had met the same fate as their leader. Tharnoch turned warily to confront the newcomer, sword up and ready to defend himself. He knew that this unknown warrior had saved his life, but he wasn't going to let himself be taken by surprise.

He almost dropped his sword once he got a look at the man's face.

"It's you!" he cried out, shocked to be confronted by this specter from a lifetime and a world past...

"It's me," the other agreed pleasantly.

Rollout Article

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Rollout Article

Aliester the Loquacious sat at his workshop table in the waning light of afternoon. He peered closely into the crucible containing his latest metallurgical experiment. The vessel was caked with a black, useless sludge. He prodded at the thick residue with a scraper. There was no evidence that there had ever been gold in the crucible. He sighed, muttering to himself.

"Surely my august and benevolent colleagues of the Council of Sages would find this to be a noteworthy occasion: I am the first metallurgist in all the known realms to have found the method by which an overeducated and undertrained fool may turn gold into dross."

There was a noise from outside his window. It sounded like a snort of laughter, a sound Aliester was used to hearing from his nephew Ardry. He turned, expecting to see the young scout, and almost dropped the crucible in surprise. An Aluvian man dressed in black leather armor stood outside his window with an amused expression. It was very definitely not Ardry.

"Who are you? Why are you here?" Aliester set down the crucible and reached for the small dagger he kept by his desk, though he could tell just by looking at the stranger's confident stance and leanly muscled arms that the dagger would probably do him more harm than good, if this stranger had ill intent for him.

"I've come a long way to find the legendary sage, Aliester the Loquacious," the stranger said in worshipful tones. "Would you be that esteemed gentleman, sir?"

Mollified, Aliester sat back and smiled. "Well, yes, I have the dubious honor to be that man you seek, sir. How did you find me here?"

"Mutual friends, sir. Your nephew Ardry, and a few others, recommended your name to me because of your research in certain... rare materials. Especially as such rare materials might relate to metallurgy. Forgive me, I have been rude. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Adso." He extended his hand through the open window to shake hands.

Aliester took his hand and noted the casually crushing grip of this young warrior. He stood and gestured inside. "If you have come to share some extraordinary or unique materials with me, please, do come in and avail yourself of my hospitality, atrophied as my social courtesies may be. I can mix up some fine tea for you, perhaps, or if you are more of a drinker..." He reached for another crucible and a sealed glass jar.

Adso bowed. "My regrets, great sage, I must be rude and refuse your invitation. My duties take me many places today. But I was asked to bring you some things, for your inspection..." Without a by-your-leave, he dropped a sack on Aliester's window sill. Aliester cautiously looked inside. A powerful smell, sharp and corrosive, assaulted him as soon as he opened the bag.

"Pwyll's thrice-blessed bones, man! What is this?"

"Trophies from a dark and terrible new place, great sage. You may have heard or felt the shaking of the ground as a new island..."

Aliester waved his hand dismissively. "Say no more, young man. I am well aware of the geologic and geomantic instabilities that gave rise to yet another eruption of long-buried land from the sea floor. I have, indeed, been looking for materials culled from the singular and one might even say anomalous native fauna of the so-called Dark Isle... I had expected my nephew to bring me samples, but if he sent you in his place..."

Adso nodded impatiently. "Yes, he sent me here with as many trophies as I could quickly gather. We have found that there are mystical properties common to these items, as if all the creatures of the island were tainted in the same..."

"Naturally! You will, of course, be familiar with my works on the unique magical emanations of Shadow and Crystal shards and their applications in the smithing of enchanted armor. If not, I do believe I have at least one or two copies of my most relevant treatise here at hand..."

"A generous offer, great sage, but I must get on with my duties. Please just send a report to Ardry and to the rest of the Council of Sages when you have completed your investigations."

Aliester, busily inspecting a rotting black fin, waved his free hand absent-mindedly.

Adso leaned close to the old man. "And please, do hurry. There have been reports that King Varicci seeks to unlock the mysteries of these trophies himself. While he is no longer our most pressing threat, it would be a shame if he were to gain some kind of research advantage to exploit later."

"Yes... Varicci... exploit... bad..." Aliester was sniffing the withered fin like a dog seeking out a buried bone. "Fine armor, I am sure..."

Adso turned and walked away. The sage's house was on the edge of a great forest, far from any other settlements. A fair number of trees on the forest's edge had been chopped down to feed the fires in Aliester's workshop. Ardry had told them that the isolation was meant to spare the lives of any innocents should one of the sage's experiments prove to be explosive. He and his Master had come a long way off their normal path just to bring that bag of rotting trophies to the old man.

When he re-entered the forest, his Master joined him. "How did it go?" the older man asked.

"Well enough, Master. He is quite enchanted with the samples. I don't think it will take him long to investigate them and write a report."

"Excellent, Adso. Once his report has been distributed, practical applications should follow quickly."

Adso nodded, but his face showed confusion. His Master noticed, stopped walking, and turned to look at him directly. "Is there something wrong, Adso? Please, speak freely."

Adso stopped to think, trying to couch his words in diplomatic terms. "Master, when you recruited me... I had been led to believe certain things... in certain priorities... Well, venturing to that island, battling those terrible beasts, just to deliver some creature samples to an absent-minded researcher for the good of the realm... It seems..."

"Entirely too altruistic and out of character for me?"

Adso nodded reluctantly. His Master took a deep breath. "Even those who make their living in the darkness need there to be some light, Adso. My own Master taught me that. Are you afraid that I have lost my way? That I am saving lives, instead of taking them? That I now seek to live in peace with the benighted lackwits who share this unfortunate world with me?"

"No, Master, I would never presume"

His Master's eyes gleamed in the twilight. "Good. Presumption is a dangerous thing, Adso. I trust this is the last conversation we will have to have about my motivations."

"Of course, Master."

"Because once you start questioning my motivations, you may stop following my orders. And if I cannot rely on you to follow orders..."

Adso's eyes widened in horror. "Never, Master."

His Master studied him for a long time. Adso met his eyes without flinching, but he could not help but sweat under the intense scrutiny.

"I believe you, Adso. All I have done, I do to serve a greater end. You will have learned another valuable lesson by the time all this is done. One of the last lessons I have to teach you, in fact."

Adso sighed in relief. "As you say, Master." With that settled, Master and Apprentice resumed their journey into the darkening woods.

Release Notes

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Developer's Notes

New content and Functionality

  • In order to help the ever increasing number of new players entering the game some changes have been made to the new player experience. New players can now turn in a token in the starter towns for more useful items to help them along their way in Dereth.
  • A new island has appeared in the northeast. The area is aimed at characters level 150+.
  • There is a new creature roaming Dereth. Please use caution when approaching, it has a quite a bite!
  • Armor Sets are now in the game. For right now these sets are geared towards players level 150+. These sets will require some work to get though.
  • There will be several unscheduled live events occurring this month occurring at all times of the day. Please be aware these can happen in any town at any time, so please be aware when placing characters in towns. You may log in to a less than friendly greeting.

Miscellaneous Changes and Improvements

  • The exterior of the Temple of Nc'thail has many Silithis on it. This was causing some player to have performance issues. We have change the spawns in that area to help reduce the effect on some players.
  • An incorrect description on the Rossu Morta Chapterhouse recall has been fixed. It should now have the correct description.
  • Summer is here and with it comes the removal of the baby creatures from the landscape. They have all grown up!
  • The Cartographers of Dereth have been hard at work this month. You will notice that the POI's have returned to your in-game maps.
  • The lightning that was causing some people to be unable to play has been removed.
  • We believe we have found the source of the issue that was causing some characters to end up at their lifestone's upon login. A fix is in place but it will require players to log on their main characters first and open up their housing. The mules should then be safe to log in and should not end up back at their lifestone's. Players will be able to close their houses after doing this and should not have to open them again unless they choose to.

Letter to the Players

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July 2006 Letter to the Players

Hello there and welcome to the July edition of the Letter to the Players

With the emergence of Grael and his minions, the citizens of Dereth once again brace for a battle which could determine the very survival of us all. The Shadow invasions in many of the towns across Dereth were a chilling reminder that no matter how safe we feel, evil still lurks, waiting to strike. Many fear that this is the time that Grael will begin to bring terror to all the land. What is in store for the people of Dereth next? Will we be able to stand up to the might of Grael and his armies?

Now let's see what new and exciting things are coming to Asheron's Call this month!

New Content and Updated Functionality
With the heart of summer upon us, most of the baby creatures have grown into young adults and should no longer be found on the landscape.

In order to help the ever increasing number of new players coming into the game we have created new racial sets of armor for new characters coming into Dereth. These new armor sets have a higher armor level and have some more helpful spells than previous versions of starter armor. We love our new players and want to help them along their way to a long life here in Dereth.

There will be a large number of unscheduled live events occurring this month at all times of the day. Please be aware these can happen in any town at any time, so please be aware when placing characters in towns. You may log in to a less than friendly greeting.

We believe we have found the source of the issue that was causing some characters to end up at their lifestone's upon login. A fix is in place but it will require players to log on their main characters first and open up their housing. The mules should then be safe to log in and should not end up back at their lifestone's. Players will be able to close their houses after doing this and should not have to open them again unless they choose to. Unfortunately this fix may not solve the problem for everyone, and there still may be isolated incidents of characters till ending up at their Lifestone. When and if this happens we will continue to investigate the matter.

The Cartographers of Dereth have been hard at work this month. You will notice that the Points of Interest have returned to your in-game maps.

A new island has appeared in the northeast. The area is aimed at characters level 150+.

There is a new creature roaming Dereth. While this little thing might appear cute, please use caution when approaching, it has a quite a bite!

In Concept
These are game changes that we are thinking about for upcoming events. We cannot guarantee when or even if 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 will be adding to the game. With each monthly event we will be discussing an in concept topic, in order to give you as much information about the item that we can.

For some time now players have been asking for some skills in the game to become more useful. In the coming months that is exactly what we want to do, starting with the Alchemy and Cooking skills. While these skills have some use right now, there is no real reason for players to take or keep these skills on their characters that are higher levels. Our goal going forward is to make these skills once again useful for players at all levels of gameplay. At this point we will not get into the specifics of this, we want to make these skills useful for characters that are less focused on combat, and more focused on the trade skills in general.

So there are just some of the things we have in store for Asheron's Call in July and beyond. Please remember that along with everything

listed here, there are several new quests and exciting things going into the game for the July event.