Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=498
Remembering the Past
Hasin Lin cut his way through the thick underbrush at the edge of the forest clearing. In the middle of the clearing sat a simple wooden cottage and a small stone shrine. The sweet smell of burning incense wafted in his direction from the shrine, and he saw a thin curl of smoke drifting up from the chimney of the cottage.
He stopped in front of the shrine, bowed reverently before it, and lit another stick of incense. Then he got up and stood in front of the cottage's door, which was a simple curtain made from the cured hides of Reedsharks. With slow and deliberate movements, he took off his boots, his pack, and his weapons and set them all neatly by the side of the door. Then he stood at attention in front of the doorway. Only after a soft voice called "Enter" did he step over the threshold of the cottage.
An old Sho woman sat at a low table in the center of the cottage. The only furnishings in the room were a bedroll, a bookcase filled with a densely packed mass of books and scrolls, and a stone fireplace that doubled as a cooking pit. An ancient, exquisitely maintained bonsai tree sat on the table in front of the woman, along with a tea kettle and a pair of bowls.
The woman smiled at Lin as he entered. He bowed deeply before her, which she acknowledged with a graceful tilt of her head. She motioned for him to sit at the table. He sat cross-legged in front of her, and she proceeded to pour them each a bowl of hot tea. Lin sipped nervously at the tea, waiting for her to speak. She sipped her tea, smiling serenely at him, seemingly content to sit in silence.
Finally, the old woman spoke. "I'm grateful you accepted my invitation to come here and share tea with me, Tracker Lin. May I call you Lin?"
Lin nodded quickly. "I am honored to be here, Mistress."
"I apologize if my messenger was vague or secretive with the invitation. I do not like to involve myself in the politics of the realm, and I prefer discretion to... brash displays. I think it would surprise most people to learn that I even have apprentices." She poured him some more tea.
"I completely understand, Mistress," he responded. "I would not ask you to explain your actions to me. I came because you asked for me."
The old woman laughed. "Keep talking like that, Tracker Lin, and I may give in to my vanity. No, I just don't wish to cultivate a reputation for inscrutability. I find such pretenses to be so tiresome. Now, I will be direct here. I need you to track someone down for me. I have been told that you have some talent in this."
Lin nodded modestly. "I have had some success serving the Queen's forces as a tracker and a scout. I serve in the best way I know how. Who is it that you seek, Mistress?"
She looked him directly in the eyes. "I seek Asheron."
Lin nearly dropped his bowl. "Asheron? Well... I thought..."
The old woman laughed. "I apologize, Tracker Lin. I am being inscrutable again. It is Asheron I seek, but it is not Asheron whom I would ask you to track. There is a new presence in the world, a dangerous and secretive presence..."
Lin nodded. "Is this about the Tanada? I've already spent some time investigating them - "
The woman grimaced. "No, but I have been made aware of them as well. I have asked others to investigate the appearance in Dereth of those poor fallen souls. Their case is tragic, and they could be a true danger, but as far as I know, they are not involved with the... prolonged absence of Asheron." She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, and Lin could see that she'd sunk into some kind of meditative state.
He sipped his tea in deferential silence and waited for her to continue. After a moment, she opened her eyes again, and he could see a troubling note of fear and apprehension in her wide-eyed gaze.
"A menace both old and new has come to Dereth. Our people have had the singular luck to settle a land that has been precious to old and powerful beings... Beings that can see and touch the different layers of the worlds, who creep across the island's lines of power like a spider over its own web... They are strong, in their way, but they are also dangerously out of balance and prisoners of their own terrible history... They have warred over this land in ages past, and would reclaim it now. They seek to do away with the land's most potent guardian."
Her eyes were glazing over, and Lin was no longer sure that she was still aware he was there. He cleared his throat softly, and she seemed to snap out of her reverie and refocus on him.
"I apologize, Tracker Lin. There is so much noise in the world these days. I still hear echoes of the Hopeslayer, and the traumas of past years still resonate... The bestial howls of Grael are particularly jarring. But yes, let us speak of the being I would have you track. He is an ancient soul, and his talents are much the same as yours, though he hunts his prey not in the forest or the jungle, but through the pathways of spirit..." She paused to sip her tea.
"He is a hunter and a tracker. It was his job to track his prey, study the habits of his prey. To prepare a trap on behalf of his masters. I would have you study him and learn his habits. To track the tracker, and thereby lead us, through him, to the secret masters who direct his efforts."
Lin's breath stopped short. "Mistress, I am honored that you would think me worthy for this task, but if this being is as powerful as you say, I am not a true warrior, nor a mage to do battle with sorcerous creatures..."
The old woman nodded and poured them both some more tea. "I know, Tracker Lin. I would not ask you to fight this creature, or to enter his lair. To fight him will be the part of others..."
Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=500
Ardry sat cross-legged on the hard stone floor, backlit by the purple glow of the portal behind him. His leather armor was thoroughly riddled with cuts and puncture wounds and sodden with his own blood. He scrawled a hurried note in his journal.
Passed through second portal and second school. Acolytes training with bows. Got good chance to practice the "Technique of Wind and Smoke" that Adso passed on to me. Acolytes still managed to perforate me. Must ask him for further practice in those techniques, if he will indulge me. Otherwise I may return to this school and engage in another mutual practice session with some killers in training.
He closed the journal and slid it back into the large pouch at his side. His wounded hand left another sticky patch of half-dried blood on the journal cover. He'd at least been prudent enough to purchase a journal bound in dark, rich leather, so that the dozens of blood stains on the cover merely served as interesting texture rather than the grisly monuments of his regular punishment at the hands of creatures who objected to his scouting missions.
Ardry stood up slowly, wincing at the pain in his joints and muscles. He'd done his best to patch up the multiple wounds he had absorbed from the sword-wielding acolytes he'd first encountered, but the rain of arrows he'd endured in the second school had left deeper, more painful wounds that still throbbed long after the health potions and healing kits had done their work. A patch of blood-drenched leather fell from his cuirass, and he stared at it, numb.
"Next time I'll just ask Uncle Aliester if there are any more masks he'd like me to pick up," he muttered. "Could have gone on more mask-collection duty, but no, I had to try and curry favor with Jina, just because I thought that would get me a meeting with her. Even chasing snakes and ghosts in swampy holes is better than being an archery target..."
His gaze wandered around the room, and he saw again the shrine and the bloodied medallion he'd left lying on top of it. Somehow that sight brought him back to himself. Realizing how foolish he had been to speak out loud in this complex, he paused to focus himself. He used some of the new breathing techniques he'd been taught, pushed the pain out of his mind, and steeled himself to walk through the next portal.
When the familiar lurching of portal travel ended, he found himself in a situation he'd run into twice before: he was tense and silent in an empty room while acolytes trained in the next room. He listened to the shouting and battle cries. He looked around again to make sure he was alone, then quickly opened his journal.
Sitting by training room in third school. This one, ominously, called "School of Breath". Cannot understand what they are shouting. Not sure if it is sound distortion or if they are speaking a language I can't understand. Doesn't sound at all like the commands that Masters of Storms and Wind were shouting at their acolytes. Will have to expose myself to risk if I want to get better perspective.
Again he packed away the journal and dropped to a stealthy crouch. He slowly crept around the corner and tried to minimize his profile, to blend against the stone wall. The rooms in this complex were not well lit, and the dancing shadows that were cast by the acolytes in the training room helped greatly in his effort to remain inconspicuous. As he crept closer, he at least became sure that the acolytes were not speaking any language that he recognized. He also saw that they were not training with swords or bows. No, these Acolytes of Breath were learning combat techniques that Ardry found much more menacing. He began to back up from his half-hidden position to retreat to the safety of the other room, when he heard a faint noise behind him. He sighed softly to himself. He knew what that sound was.
The acolytes were not as accomplished in the arts of stealth, yet, as some of their more completely trained brethren that Ardry had encountered. He'd heard the approach of the patrolling acolyte behind him, a second before the acolyte noticed him. In another situation, with the techniques he'd learned recently, he might have been able to parlay that kind of advantage into a quick and unnoticed kill. Not so here, not when he was stuck between one acolyte on patrol and a room full of acolytes training to be better killers.
A brisk, clipped word from the patrolling acolyte caught the attention of the ones in the training room. As one, their dark eyes, not yet covered by the black mask worn by their masters, went to their brother in the corridor, and then to the sneaking spy that their brother had caught. As one, eight acolytes shifted to fighting stance, and the air in the subterranean room hissed as they exhaled at once.
Ardry groaned out loud. "I should have stayed in Ayan and accepted Ulgrim's challenge. That's what I should have done."
Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=499
November Release Notes
New content and Functionality
The much anticipated Asheron's Call free trial is now live. Make sure to tell everyone who has yet to give us a try to check it out. It's free, what have they got to lose? The URL is easy and so is the sign up. Simply go to http://trial.ac.turbine.com and follow the instructions. It's as easy as that! Now we know that the first question that comes up from some of our more veteran players will be what about all the abuse that went on during the last free trial? What are you doing to prevent this again? A new restriction has been added to the housing system that requires a character to have been on a particular server for more than 15 days in order to purchase any form of housing. Since the free trial is 14 days, this means that if you are on a free trial account, you will not be able to purchase housing. Once that 15 day period is over, players will be able to purchase any form of housing following the rules already in place.
A new augmentation has been added to the game which will allow players who did not have the opportunity to purchase the Pre Order gem a chance to get an 8% health bonus gem. This new augmentation will not stack with the existing pre order gem.
Several new items that can be turned in for Writs of Refuge have been added to the game. Make sure and speak to Agents of the Arcanum to get the updated list of items.
New Heritage masks have been added to the game for all playable races.
Ulgrim has decided to challenge players to see if that can match his drinking prowess. Think you stand a chance?
Miscellaneous Changes and Improvements
Mansion owners can now hook two more casting devices as well as two more portal devises.
Two more of our older quests have been updated. The Mines of despair and The Orphanage have had some changes made to them.
The Runes that were missing from all levels of the Runed weapons should now be visible again.
Some new items may be turned in to any of the High-Stakes Gamemasters for a chance to win a prize.
Letter to the Players
Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=496
November Letter to the Players
Welcome to the November Letter to the Players!
With the Festival season in full swing, this is normally a time of peace and tranquility in Dereth. This year however, appears to be different. Some questions still remain unanswered and there are people who want to know why. Can I out Drink Ulgrim? Why are the members of the Tanada Clan suddenly in Dereth after all this time? Where has Asheron been for the last year? What is the meaning of life? Ok so maybe that last one won't get answered, but other questions and more will begin to be answered with the November event, Remembering the Past!
Addressing Asheron's Benediction
For some time now players have been asking us to look into the matter of the pre order health gem, Asheron's Benediction and the balance issues it has caused. When the November event goes live, players will be able to get a new augmentation at a cost of 2 billion XP, which when used will grant the player an 8% bonus to their health. Getting this Augmentation will place a gem in the users pack similar to the already existing pre order gem. The health bonus will not be stackable with the 10% pre order gem. This new augmentation will come at a cost of 2 billion XP. We do understand that making this change is going to stir up some very strong feelings both for and against this new augmentation. We feel that this is the best solution to what was a growing problem.
Masks you say?!
After taking some time off, the crafters of Dereth have created the latest tier of heritage masks. There is a new mask for each playable race in the game. Make sure to get them all!
Several new items have been added to the list of things that Agents of the Arcanum will accept in exchange for Writs of Refuge. Make sure to check in with the agents for the updated list.
In keeping with the idea of wanting to improve the overall housing experience, mansion owners should now be able to hook two more portal devices and two more casting devices.
The quest item from The Mines of Despair can now be turned in for XP rewards if you feel you do not need the item.
The Orphanage quest has been revised. A new step has been added and players will be able to obtain experience along with the classic reward. Based on these changes, the timer for turning in the item from the Orphanage is now 13 days.
Ulgrim has decided he want to test everyone's drinking prowess. Players may want to spend some time on Ulgrim's Island looking for a way to challenge him.
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. Each month we will be discussing one new in concept topic, in order to give you as much information about the item that we can.
We are currently investigating options for identifying and organizing quests in the game for the benefit of our players. A lot of content has been introduced into the game over the seven years that Asheron's Call has existed, and the first, and largest, step is going to be to try to organize this information in some sort of fashion that is useful to players – give intended levels for content, quest starters, estimates on how long a piece of content takes, and whether it's balanced for group or solo play. We are also going to investigate how difficult it will be to hook in quest flags and such into the display UI, to reflect your current status on any quests you embark upon. There's still a great deal of groundwork to be laid, and at this early stage we cannot make any promises as to the form it will eventually take – depending on how the tech works out, it may be as simple as an additional help file cataloging the quests of our game, or as complex as a fully-featured UI with all sorts of tracking options. We also would likely not put newly-introduced quests on it until a subsequent month, as we do want to preserve the experience of discovering content for the first time. However, we are committed to making any quest system the best we can within the limits of our technology.
So there are just some of the things we have in store for Asheron's Call in November and beyond. Please remember that along with everything listed here, there are several new quests and exciting things going into the game for the November event.
Re: A better way to do "Quest Recommendations For Your Level" than Turbine's current idea
Q: Severlin has stated that the team is considering expanding a future quest log into a "quest finder" tool, a sort of list of quests at your level, because people do have a hard time finding content at their level. -Televangelist
A: I'm not convinced that the barkeep/rumor system works for everybody, though. It worked for you, and for many people on the boards. However, I've also heard anecdotally of stories of people who start to play our game, but have no idea what to do once they emerge from the training academy, even though there are pointers to the various quest NPCs for the first town.
I'd be inclinced to say that rumors should probably get updated, too - after all, usage of the quest list should be an optional tool. If we implement tracking functionaliaty, I'd love to see about a toggleable setting that switches between displaying all quests and only displaying those quests which you are running/have run recently. That way, we give the power of choice to the player to decide how much information they want to see.
I think what makes this discussion seem less conservative is that normally we don't come on here and talk about things like this before we hammer out details. Right now, this system is still in the discussion phase, which means we can change how we want to work it. Perhaps we'll decide to incorporate barkeeps into the system in some way, or perhaps they'll remain as a separate system - we don't know yet, and that's important to remember.
Just wanted to step in here and second some of the other voices who have spoken up about how this is a nice, civil, productive thread. I love this thread. We may not do everything in this thread and we may choose different directions than some of the opinions expressed in this thread (and at this point I think we've enough opinions in here that, no mstter what, we'll end up going in a different direction than some of them), but that's not simly a dismissal of the opinions expressed. We're reading this thread, letting things expressed here sink in, see if we agree or disagree, and such.
I will say this much - I think that this thread has influenced some feeling internally that not 100% of all quests should be visible on any list. One idea we've been bouncing around is the idea of an Explorer set of quests, which aren't listed but must instead be discovered. As part of this, we could tailor them specifically for the sort of mindset who appreciates striking out into the wilderness and finding the random buildings that no one has seen before.
When I have a longer moment, I'll address some of the other points raised all through this thread. Just thought I'd come in and give this thread some props.
This is a "They're undead, not ruschk, in Derethian terms, and if we left them as the wrong creature type then we're going to fix it" situation. It is a bug if they are creature-type ruschk. Unfortunately, we don't bitmask creature-types, so a creature has to be either undead or ruschk. Out of the two, these guys lean far more toward the undead side than the ruschk side, so that's what we wanted to have them be.