Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=540
July 2007: Intelligent Designs
Adso stalked through the swamp under cover of night, moving from bush to bush in a hunched crawl that was a compromise between his need for stealth and his desire to keep his nose out of the fetid marsh water. The water in this area smelled particularly foul. It reeked of all the familiar swamp gases that he'd come to know and loathe in his past excursions into Blackmire, but it also carried with it a new and less familiar odor. It was a sharp, cloying odor, redolent of ozone. He stopped for a moment, trying to place the scent, trying to remember where he'd last encountered this odor…
"Scent can be an important tool," Master had told him once, at the start of their training. "Often times, moving through forest or jungle, the smell of your prey will alert you to their presence before you can see or hear them. Especially if you are hunting Mosswarts or Banderlings. Conversely, your smell will almost certainly betray your presence if you're stalking any kind of animal, and certain well-trained humans as well." Master had smiled sharply at this, always amused by his own jokes. "Always try and approach from downwind, my apprentice. Or, failing that, try rolling around in some muck and dirt if you're stalking prey out in the wilds, and maybe your milk-drinking man-stink won't give you away."
Adso reflected on that advice as he hunkered in the muck of the swamp. He was already covered toe to neck in the effluvium of the Blackmire, and the reek was starting to interfere with his own sense of smell. He dared not dunk his head in, to block his nose and mouth with the stink.
He shook his head, breaking himself out of his reverie, and bent his mind back to the task at hand. He could see lights ahead, just a stone's throw away. A few minutes later, after very careful and stealthy progress, he spotted the source of activity through a gap in the undergrowth. Somehow the Tanada had constructed a Sho tower in the swamp! He could see a few human forms, silhouetted by firelight, moving back and forth in front of the tower's opening. There also appeared to be some kind of earthworks in the vicinity, a pile of earth excavated from the festering ground and piled near the tower.
Adso found a good ambush spot in the lee of a banyan tree and watched for patrols. As he waited, he checked on the state of his enchantments, making sure that the armoring spells set on his well-worn leather armor were still strong. He'd fought the Tanada enough times to appreciate the help of a good armor enchantment.
Satisfied with the state of his armor, he watched as a sentry walked out near his position from the tower. Grinning in anticipation of a clean and satisfying kill, he readied his knife, also blessed with powerful enchantments, and allowed the prey to come to him.
The Tanada moved stealthily and warily, showing an admirable sense of discipline as he patrolled the outer perimeter of this godforsaken outpost. He moved as if expecting attack at any moment, but he did not seem to show any awareness that Adso was there.
Adso's own skill proved to be superior to the Tanada's. In the hazy night of the swamp, where moonlight filtered unevenly through the trees and swamp gases flickered in the distance, Adso's strike could not have been more perfect. He was a silent shadow, flitting out briefly from the shelter of the banyan to grab the patrolling assassin. In one swift movement, he wrapped one arm around the Tanada's throat and mouth, plunging his thick-bladed knife into the back of the Tanada's neck, cleanly severing the spinal column even as he closed in on his foe. An efficient, nearly bloodless kill, so that his enemies would not even be alerted by the smell of blood.
The Tanada collapsed without a sound, and Adso laid the corpse neatly down in the shadow of the banyan tree where he'd been hiding. The body disposed of, he stalked out into the swamp once more, moving slowly towards the tower again. He could see two more guards. If he was lucky, he could get to the tower and the dig site without alerting any of them. He still hadn't decided which one to investigate first. He was under no illusions that he'd long remain undiscovered as soon as he breached the threshold of either structure.
Barely a minute after his clean and perfect kill, he noticed a stirring from the earthworks. He could see half a dozen Tanada, clad in scaly dark armor that looked black in the dim light, streaming swiftly from the opening in the ground. They were all coming towards his position. They all had blades out. They made not a sound as they swarmed towards him.
This shouldn't have been possible. How could they know where he was? It was almost as if they were in instant communication with each other…
There was a splash behind him. One of the Tanada had dropped out of the branches of the very tree where he'd stashed the first murdered assassin. This one bore no weapons, but his fingers were bunched and pointed in a position that Adso had among the most advanced practitioners of the Sho fighting arts. He had no time to defend himself. The assassin's hand jabbed forward, almost too fast to track, and he felt an explosion of pain in his ribs.
"Nonsense," he said, as he felt the too-keen bite of an iron-hard hand. "Armor spell… failed…" He hadn't felt a punch that hard since he'd tangled with that nest of Hollow Minions…
All of a sudden it made sense. The responsiveness of the Tanada guards, the sharp tang of otherworldly corruption in the air, the assassin's fist that blasted through his magical protection like a dagger through cheap linen…
The world went light, and he blacked out before the other Tanada arrived to finish him off.
Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=543
July 2007 Rollout Article
Borelean, prince of New Aluvia and leader of the Whispering Blade, turned back to view the tactical map which had caused such consternation of late.
A map of the island of Dereth had been unrolled upon the table, depicting the land from the rain forests of the Vesayens to the cold Viamontian strongholds of Marae Lassel and the Halaetans, and from the tainted wildernesses of Vissidalthe Dark Isle to the strange formation known as the Singularity Caul. Borelean pointed at markers that had been placed at various points upon the map.
"Cragstone… the Vesayens… the Direlands… Tusker Island… and the Olthoi infestation in the northeast. What in the name of all that is good is the connection?" he asked the room at large, frustration in his voice.
"I do not know, but perhaps the more compelling question is how our enemy has the resources and power to undertake actions in all of these different places," responded a slender, black-haired young Sho woman clad in white robes.
Borelean ran his hand through his sandy brown hair. While it was held back by a circlet, his hair's natural inclination was to flop forward towards his eyes, further irritating him. Still, he had learned enough about leadership to refrain from unleashing his impatience and impetuosity upon those who sat in attendance to advise him.
The first of his companions was Hoshino Kei, whom he knew primarily from studying with Harlune and from the subsequent creation of the portal to Bur. Kei's eyes were careful to obscure any emotions she felt about the situation, and her motions guarded. Borelean had asked her to be present as a second opinion should higher magics be involved… and because he did not wish to involve any of his mother Queen Elysa's own magical advisors.
The second was his colleague and occasional rival, Adso. HWhile he was never certain that he could fully trust this shadowy blondfair-haired man with the shadowy reputation, knowing precisely who his master was. However, he also respected Adso's insight, and he could not see a way that their master would benefit from this new enemy gaining influence over Dereth. Adso had seen much of the activity within Dereth, and he could be trusted to be discreet.
The last was a pessimistic scout by the name of Ardry the Dubious. It was said that he ended up at his lifestone more often than one normally should, and yet still managed to be as well-informed as anyone about the goings-on in Dereth. While normally reports came through Aliester the Loquacious, in this case Borelean desired a personal appearance by the one who had seemed to suffer so much in the name of New Aluvia. Ardry and Adso had exchanged pointed looks, and Borelean could sense the rivalry in the air, but he had no time for such foolishness at this meeting.
"You're right, Kei," Borelean acknowledged, allowing a small amount of praise to overcome his grudging acceptance of her superior analysis. In the time they had spent studying together, the prince had grown to admire the sorceress's ability to assess a situation and efficiently work towards a solution. Borelean glanced toward Adso and Ardry and continued, "Tell me more about the resources and power of our enemy."
"Those whom I've encountered have proven more organized and more strategically savvy than before," Ardry contributed, "It's as if the traditionally disorganized monsters of the land all decided that they would be more effective unifying under strong leaders…well, all but the Banderlings. The leaders are exhibiting increased intelligence and skill beyond their previously known capabilities. The sorts of modification alteration exhibited so far, and the experimental logs that have been retrieved, resemble what the Virindi have done in the past."
Adso coolly nodded, then added, "My encounter with the Tanada also implies Virindi involvement. I think that the answer may lie in portal space."
"Portal space?" Ardry asked, "That's an awfully large place to look."
Borelean tapped his finger pensively upon the map. The others in the room remained silent for a moment, awaiting the prince's forthcoming comment. Finally, Borelean spoke in a quiet, assured tone.
"The opening of the portal to Bur taught me something about the intricacies of portal space. It is a difficult place to understand – its spatial presence does not work in the same way as the world we know. It cannot be navigated easily, except in certain very stable pocketss, generally created by the Virindi or some other powerful portal mage. I wouldn't know how to find anything without some clear anchor to start from," Borelean quietly said, sounding defeated.
"We may have an anchor," Hoshino Kei answered, "Do you recall the reports about the Monougas being held in the cavern in the Direlands?"
"Yes, but I do not see how you mean it."
"I do, Borelean," Adso commented, "The Monougas in that cavern are not always there. They are portalled in from some other location."
Comprehension dawned in Borelean's eyes. "So, then, you ask if I can trace this portal back? I can try," he said, punctuating his statement with an emphatic gesture towards the Direlands on the map. He looked at the three gathered with him in the room.
"What is your command, your Highness?" Ardry asked. Adso smirked at the formal address, while Kei looked at Borelean with expectation… and perhaps a touch of admiration.
"I don't command…I ask. Will you help me?" Borelean spoke in a quiet voice. He placed his hand, palm up, on the map table.
Hoshino Kei was first. She placed her delicate hand upon his, and nodded imperceptibly. "Yes, your Highness," she said.
Adso followed suit. "I'm not doing anything this afternoon… why not raid a cavern of murderous Drudges?" he slyly quipped.
Ardry murmured thoughtfully, "And perhaps with some skilled companions by my side, I'll actually not visit my lifestone today." He placed his hand upon the others' and nodded.
Borelean allowed himself to smile slightly. "Then it's settled. Let's prepare our gear."
Original Link (now dead) -http://ac.turbine.com/?page_id=539
July 2007 Release Notes
Hello there and welcome to the Release Note for the July event, Intelligent Designs! The strange activities around Dereth continue as the citizens try to figure out the reasons why this behavior is becoming more and more directed. From reports of more Olthoi activity in the north, to the mysteries surrounding the Monouga and why they have been more active lately. There have also been reports of some new activity surrounding the Tanada clan, though nobody is sure if it is related to the other happenings around Dereth. One thing is for sure, some answers need to found soon before it becomes too late to change what is happening.
New Content and Updated Functionality
A change has been made to the servers which should reduce the number of players being booted for Code of Conduct violations. We believe the issue now is being caused by how our servers load balance and how messages can be backlogged and then sent out in a large bunch once that load balancing is complete. The change that was made will basically let the server know that a person is either in portal space or in the process of load balancing and not count those messages against the players message queue.
A new Live Events vendor has been added to the game. When a player participates in a live event, the person running the event will now give out live op tokens that can be given to the new vendor in exchange for the reward of their choosing. These tokens have a pick up timer of 1 per day. We feel that this not only helps to ensure that everyone participating will get a reward, but it also gives the player the choice of what item they want as a reward.
The Journal found while running the Following Asheron's Trail quest is now attuned and bonded and can no longer be given to other players.
The Lunnum's quests are now all separate. This should eliminate any timing issues and will allow player to run the portion of the quest that they desire. Players will still need to complete this series of quests in order the first time.
All portals in the Colosseum are now unable to be tied/recalled/summoned. This does not include the portal to actually enter the Colosseum staging area.
An issue with paintings not sorting well when dropped on the floor of a house has been fixed.
We had received many reports that the Ninja were more difficult to kill as a melee or an archer. Some adjustments were made and they should now be easier to kill for these characters.
A small bug was fixed that was causing any NPC's with the same setup as the Golems on Asheron's Island not to turn towards the player interacting with them. They will now turn and face players who try to interact with them. Currently this should only affect the Collector Golem on Bur.
A change has been made to how the Colosseum chests work. The chests will now lock immediately after they are closed.
Game Discussion/In Concept
As a game progresses there comes a time when things that were once deemed as not going to happen, suddenly become the next logical step in the development process. To that end, the team is in the process of exploring several features for Asheron's Call that follow the natural progression of the game. In the coming months we will begin discussing these ideas with you the players in order to not only let you know what is going on, but to also gather feedback and opinions as we move forward.
The first of these ideas that we have begun the task of exploring is the idea of Armor Set type items appearing in a new tier of loot that can be found within the lines of quests and other timed/limited repeatability content. These items would be used in the same way other sets that are already in the game. As you collect the pieces of your armor set, the bonuses you can receive from the set will increase. The main difference in this case will be that players will be the ability to mix and match things based on what players find from regular questing and repeating some content. As of right now this idea is only in the earliest of stages and still has some time before/and if it actually hits the game.
As we move forward these and other features will be discussed in more detail. We will also have more exciting features to discuss as we move along our planned development and growth of Dereth.
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.