October 2006 - Patch Page

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Dance of the Dead

Ardry staggered into the study, bent under the weight of a bulging pack. He set the pack down on a desk already overflowing with notes and papers, and the pack settled with an audible series of clanks.

At the other end of the room, the renowned sage Aliester the Loquacious peered at his nephew over the steaming rim of an alchemical crucible. His eyes drifted to Ardry's pack.

"Great Geraine's ghost, Ardry! Are those stag antlers poking out of your pack? I haven't seen a stag in Dereth in all the years I've been here. In fact, the lack of ruminant ungulates in Derethian fauna is the subject of a treatise I have been working on..."

Ardry held up a hand to stop him before he could go on any longer about another of his favorite esoteric subjects. "Not a real stag, Uncle. Just some clever heraldry on a new helmet, you see..." He opened the pack and lifted out a beautiful silver helm, fashioned in the shape of a stag's head.

"Ahhh, I recognize that now. Yes, the famous Stag of Bellenesse. Did you know, among all of the great houses of Viamont, the heraldic animals are actually a hold-over from the days when the savage Viamontian tribes worshipped totem animals, and thought to draw their strength from their tribal animal? There was one tribe called the Tullio, who controlled a fort at the center of a river network and took the trout as their symbol. Suffice it to say that the choice of a, ahem, well, floppy food item led to a disastrous..."

Ardry interrupted his uncle again. "I'm sorry, Uncle, but I haven't really got time for another lecture. I've brought these here for your analysis, as I was asked. But I must get going soon. I just have to gather a few supplies and head right back out, because there are reports of some of those strange creatures from last year's Festivus season re-appearing, and in more towns than just the one we had last year."

Ardry started rummaging through his desk's drawers, picking up and inspecting everything he found. He quickly tossed a few of the objects into another pack, much less full than the one he'd dropped on top of the desk.

"Do tell? I shall be most curious to read your report about these latest occult disturbances."

"Some day, Uncle, I'd like you to put your mind to work trying to figure out why such strange things happen every year at this time. Is there some compelling reason for spirits or the undead to feel particularly restless in the fall?" Ardry tried to keep the sarcastic tone out of his voice. It didn't really matter – his uncle Aliester was famously oblivious of irony or sarcasm if there was any chance he'd get to talk about some interesting research topic.

"Well, as to that, Ardry, I have put together some preliminary observations in the hopes of formulating a thesis for evaluation with the other sages. You see, I think it has something to do with the onset of the coming winter, and a reminder of the turn of the seasons, what some tribes of the Falatacot called the Wheel of All Things and the Milantans on Ispar commemorate with a Festival of the Dead, in fact, particularly disturbs the sensibilities of creatures so tragically and irrevocably frozen in necromantic stasis..."

As he built rhetorical momentum on this topic, Aliester started absent-mindedly toying with the very objects Ardry was trying to sort through. Ardry tried to tolerate the disruption, but his frustration got the better of him when he looked for an item a second time, discovered it was missing, and realized one maddening moment later that his uncle was playing idly with it.

"Uncle!" In desperation for some way to distract the meddlesome sage and shoo him away, he looked around the room, and saw the crucible on his uncle's desk. "What have you been working on?"

"Ahhh, I am glad you asked, Ardry!" The easily distracted sage shuffled excitedly back to his desk and started picking over the items there. "It turns out that some of the more powerful alchemical preparations we have been trying to perfect for some time were actually deceptively simple. The solution, hah, no pun intended, was right under our noses the whole time. You'd have thought that initial research would have led us to look at it, but I suppose it is easy to overlook the simplest and humblest ingredients..."

Aliester stopped and looked around. It looked like he was alone in the room.

"Ardry? Did you go to the bathroom, my boy?" There was no answer. The drawers of the desk were closed again. The second pack was gone. Ardry had evidently gotten everything he needed from his desk and left the room before he could finish detailing his alchemical experiments. "Ah, well. I'll prepare a full report for him when he returns. He'll enjoy that, I'm sure."

He looked down at the stag helm and the pack full of other items that Ardry had dropped off. "Well, I may as well take a look at all the wonderful things he's brought me. I do love this time of year."

Rollout Article

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Rollout Article

In the warm, smoky confines of the Shining Shield tavern of Hebian-To, two men shared a plate of pickled eggs and a pot of green tea at a second-floor table. They were masked, much like the revelers who filled the tavern's first floor, but their masks were simple strips of black cloth that covered the upper halves of their faces, not the elaborate and garish monster masks favored at this time of year.

The larger of the two men sipped thoughtfully at his tea as his green eyes flicked over the crowd, wary for danger even now, in the middle of one of the most festive occasions celebrated in Dereth. His companion, smaller and younger, was more openly vigilant, to the point of appearing restless. He seemed particularly intent on staring at the door of the tavern and inspecting every person who came in or out.

"Calm yourself, Adso," the older man said. "Anyone casing this tavern would pick up on your nervousness immediately." He picked up a pickled egg from the plate and popped it into his mouth, chewing precisely and thoroughly without any evidence of actual enjoyment on his thin lips.

"I'm only nervous about Sabithra's foray into the crowd, Master," Adso responded. He seemed on the verge of getting up out of his chair. A simple gesture of Master's left hand seemed to center him and keep him from getting up, but he remained agitated. "What time is it, anyway?"

"It's almost midnight, Adso. A very wise man once told me that all things are possible after midnight. Keep that in mind."

Adso sat back, thought that one over for a moment, and looked at his Master with a confused and vaguely irritated expression that was easy to see even past his mask. "With all due respect, Master, what is that supposed to mean?"

The Master smiled enigmatically and said only, "You'll see."

The words had just left his lips when there was a high-pitched whistling and crackling noise outside. The patrons of the tavern rushed outside. Through the open door, Adso saw flickering purple light. People were cheering and dancing. Over the mysterious noise and the cheering, Adso thought he could hear people shouting, "Happy Anniversary!"

"What is going on out there?"

"You haven't been here long enough to have seen one of these for yourself, Adso, but maybe your duties have also kept you too isolated from the rest of your fellows here on Dereth. They are celebrating another milestone in our people's tenuous foothold on this world."

"Are they celebrating the defeat of Grael? The truce in the war with Varicci?"

"All of that, and more. They are celebrating what it means to be a Derethian, alive in a world that is certainly intent on devouring them. It will do you some good to learn more about your fellows. I feel like perhaps I pulled you too soon from your fellow new arrivals, before you got a chance to experience the things which give us all a common bond here. Ah, but Sabithra has returned."

Adso whirled. Sabithra, masked like they were, stood behind their table at a rigid posture of attention. In his agitation, he had not noticed her coming in, nor noticed her progress as she snuck up behind them. Apparently their Master had, which was why, Adso reminded himself, he was the Master still.

"Did you get what I asked you to get, Sabithra?" Master asked calmly.

"I did, Master. The attendant didn't want to give me three. She said I would have to wait to get more than one. But I&" she paused, before smiling proudly. "I stole two more."

"Well done, Sabithra. Give one to me, one to Elder Brother Adso, and keep one for yourself." He got up, left some pyreals on the table, and gestured to his two apprentices.

Adso inspected the slip of paper that Sabithra gave him. It was marked with a stylized N and C. He didn't get to read the inscription on it, because his companions were moving briskly down the stairs and he had to catch up.

Master led them through the celebrating crowd. There were fireworks shooting into the sky, coming from the bronze statue of Ben Ten near the center of town. Adso gaped unprofessionally at the sight, allowing himself to be pulled along in his Master's wake until they stood before a smiling Aluvian woman in extravagant white robes.

At Master's direction, they turned over their scraps of paper to the woman. Adso was still too confused by the noise and the show in the sky to pay much attention to what was going on, and was only dimly aware of her instructions to "hold on to your socks" – but the wrenching tug of portalspace brought him back to himself.

After a few moments, he, Master, and Sabithra stood in a darkened corridor in a place that Adso did not recognize. There was the faint sound of some frenetic, pulsing music, unlike anything he had ever heard before.

"What is that noise?" Adso asked.

"Nostalgia," their Master said, with a strangely wistful tone in his voice.

Release Notes

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October 2006 Developer's Notes

New content and Functionality

  • The Festival season is upon us once again. Dereth once again is abound with tricks and treats. Fun is in the air!
  • The Scarecrows have once again begun appearing on the landscape throughout Dereth.
  • The first stages of our proposed improvements to the trade skills will be going in this month. Players who have the Alchemy skill trained will have the ability to create new 7th level protection gems. These gems will be able to be traded or given to any player and can be used by any player to cast the various Life Magic protection spells on themselves.
  • Viamontian Racial Masks have finally been made. The maskmakers have been hard at work once again.
  • In keeping with our theme of revising some areas of the game for better hunting we have added some new tasks to continue the improvements in the area known as the Valley of Ruin.

Miscellaneous Changes and Improvements

  • The spellcraft on the upgraded versions of the Composite Bow and Crossbow has been raised to better reflect the level of the players using them. This raise in spellcraft will affect the weapons ability to cast on strike.
  • A typo in the description of the modified Silifi of the Crimson Night has been fixed.
  • There was a bug that would prevent Alduressa leggings from being picked up off the ground. This has been fixed for the October event.
  • When the October event goes live newly acquired white rabbit slippers should now appear white instead of the off white that appeared after the launch of ToD. This only applies to newly created slippers and not previously crafted slippers.

Letter to the Players

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October 2006 Letter to the Players

Hello there and welcome to the October 2006 Letter to the Players!

It is once again festival time in Dereth! The time of year when the chill of the fall season begins to nip at the air, and at your toes! With the coming of the Festival celebration comes new masks and guises as well some fun surprises.

Let's see what is new this month in Asheron's Call!

New Content and Updated Functionality
This year the October event brings us to the seventh anniversary of our time together in Asheron's Call. With that comes some grand celebrations among the people of Dereth. There will be fireworks, sparklers, and maybe even some disco dancing! Not to mention the many tricks and treats that will be available. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank you, the players of Asheron's Call. Without you we would not be able to continue working on the game that we love so much. So as we approach that day (November 2nd) we just want to say a heartfelt Thank You for your loyalty and support from all of us here on the Asheron's Call team.

The first stages of our proposed improvements to the trade skills will be going in this month. Players who have the Alchemy skill trained will have the ability to create new 7th level protection gems. These gems will be able to be traded or given to any player and can be used by any player to cast the various Life Magic protection spells on themselves.

The Scarecrows have once again begun appearing on the landscape throughout Dereth. Be sure to keep an eye out for them when you are out hunting.

In keeping with our theme of revising some areas of the game for better hunting we have added some new tasks to continue the improvements in the area known as the Valley of Ruin.

When the October event goes live newly acquired white rabbit slippers should now appear white instead of the off white that appeared after the launch of ToD. This only applies to newly created slippers and not previously crafted slippers.

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.

As part of our effort to continue improving the overall experience here in Asheron's Call we are going to be working on some Housing Economy Improvements over the next several months. The goal of these improvements is to make all forms of housing more useful to players, as well as making the concept of owning housing less of a chore and more of a bonus, while still making sure that there is a cost associated with owning the various levels of housing.

So there are just some of the things we have in store for Asheron's Call in October and beyond. Please remember that along with everything listed here, there are several new quests and exciting things going into the game for the October event.

Thank you for playing Asheron's Call and we look forward to seeing you all in Dereth.

Developer Comments

Weekly Update 10/16/06 Staff Update!

10/16/06 - Link

Hello there and welcome to the October 16th edition of the Asheron’s Call weekly update.

This week we have some exciting news for everyone. We are going to be using this opportunity to introduce you all to our new Senior Game Engineer, Severlin! He comes to us with an enormous amount of engineering experience, and a fresh outlook on what can be done with Asheron’s Call. In this thread, Severlin is going to briefly introduce himself to everyone, and say hello. Make sure we all give him a warm welcome. We don’t want to scare him away before he can really dig into things, so go easy on him.

We are all very excited about things to come with the Addition of Severlin to the team. As time goes on and he becomes more accustomed to this community and the job in general, I am sure we will see more of him here. For now we don’t want to distract him too much. He will be concentrating on getting himself up to speed with all the inner workings of Asheron’s Call. This is no easy task, to say the least.

Other than helping our newest addition to the team get up to speed, the rest of the team is working on the November update. At this stage we are getting things implemented and the testing/balance process has already begun. I must say, so far things are looking really good from what I’ve seen.

That’s about it for now. Once again make sure to welcome Severlin to the team. He is looking forward to becoming a valued member of the community.

Turbine Icon Frelorn
AC Community Relations

What If? Housing Barriers

10/30/2006 - Link

For everyone who has been following the boards, the housing barriers on the PvP server are a big source of discussion. This is also an topic within our group, and we have been discussing some (hopefully) cool ideas if the housing barriers can be reasonably changed. Before I go off and spend a lot of time investigating the tech needed to modify how housing barriers can be tweaked the team wanted to get some preliminary feedback here.

Now, we are taking a big chance here. We want to solicit feedback, but we also want to make sure people know that this stuff is not scheduled nor promised. If we post preliminary ideas here occasionally we can work with the players, but if we get burned on this I won't be able to put up preliminary thoughts anymore. Just so you folks understand my position. Also, some things we will keep super secret. We also want to surprise players with some features and content, so we certainly wouldn't be doing this all the time. Players shouldn't have that expectation.

On to the fun stuff...

The team is discussing two changes to the housing barriers on PvP servers, which at this point means Darktide.

First, Turbine might consider holding all out PvP madness nights occasionally where the housing barriers come down and people can raid as they wish. These events would be scheduled and it is even possible they would be run as a live event. Something in the game world would force the barriers down and from there, well you can imagine.

Second, there could potentially be an uncommon drop of a special key (if I can implement the tech in a reasonable amount of time) on PvP servers. With this key a character with maxed lockpicking could use it to drop a housing barrier for some amount of time. Times we are discussing would be 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour. The frequency of this drop is still under discussion.

This would provide Dark Tide people with times where the people who prefer to PvP without housing barriers could do so, and no one would be absolutely safe.

First, do players find prelimary postings useful even though we might not be able to implement the tech? Second, would these systems be fun for PvPers?

Turbine Icon Severlin
Senior Game Engineer

Re: Quest Organizer

11/13/2006 - Link

Things are still in the concept phase, but the implementation will be dependent on what quest information is available to the game. Quests with flags are easier, as are quests with timers. It's all those quests that don't give these that become the design issue.

With the number of quests in the game we have to be careful about a tracker that requires information added to the quests because any decision to do that requires lots of changes and the QA to retest every quest we ever put into the game would be... non-trivial.

The quest tracker has two design goals. One is to let players track which quests they have encountered so they can see what they are doing. Another goal is to give the players a summary of the quests they can pursue at a particular level. The team believes that many players don't realize the large amount of quests actually available. If we do something that shows all quests then we would have to decide how hard it will be to have "hidden" quests that only appear on the tracker if you find them.

Turbine Icon Severlin
Senior Game Engineer
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