In a secluded, mist-shrouded valley somewhere in southwestern Dereth, an assassin, perhaps the greatest one living on the island, practiced his trade. Oswald was here to track down and surprise another accomplished sneak-killer. It was just the sort of challenge that he relished most, the sort of challenge he had not had in a while. He had spent a lot of time and energy in the last few years training young apprentices in field craft. Basking in the inadequacy and inexperience of his own students may have been good for his ego, but they held no surprises for him...
Which is why, when he received word that an old rival from Ispar might have finally come through the portals, he went haring off into the wilderness to find her, instead of dispatching Adso or one of his other senior students to handle it. When a truly committed assassin begins to doubt himself, he finds it natural to seek out his competition and prove his skills, as much for his own self-assessment as to show the others out there who got the better of whom. And in the end, Oswald reflected, even if such exercises usually proved fatal for at least one of the participants, it at least kept the shadowy and secretive subculture of assassins reasonably well-ordered and prevented the most fearsome of the brood from getting by just on reputation alone. Of course, he knew that here on Dereth, any assassin newly arrived from Ispar would be at a serious disadvantage, because Oswald was only one of a handful of people who knew how to overcome the magic of the lifestones, that protected the life-force of every transplanted Isparian.
Oswald slowly rounded a twist in the rocky trails he'd been following, crawled under some low wide-leafed plants to cover himself, and took another down the valley. He saw a tall structure jutting from the valley floor. The most obvious home for his quarry was that structure – if not in its upper reaches, at least some kind of a camp near the base. It was so blindingly obvious a location that either his old rival was no kind of threat, or more likely, it was a decoy location meant to lure him into a trap. Either way, he would make contact with his old associate and have the opportunity to change the terms of the encounter. Walking slowly and silently and keeping alert for all signs of company, Oswald proceeded into the valley.
He had been making his way steadily from cover to cover for a few minutes when his well-honed sense of danger alerted him. Hairs prickled on the back of his neck and he reached instantly for the dagger belted at his side. Even as his hand moved, he heard a whistling noise and felt a sharp, burning pain on his left hip. He felt some weight drop off his side and heard the jingle of his still-sheathed dagger hitting the turf near his feet. He didn't even have to look down to see that he'd been hit with a throwing knife, a knife that had cut the straps holding his dagger to his thigh, stuck him deeply in the flesh of his leg, and had probably introduced some contact poison into his blood.
Oswald reached quickly for a spare dagger even as he heard soft footfalls coming rapidly from behind. He whirled as quickly as his wounded leg would allow him, and realized even as he turned to meet the threat that the poison he'd been struck with was a nerve-deadener. He'd be conscious and probably even able to speak, but his fighting reflexes were ruined by the insidious slowing effects of the poison.
He managed to parry the first few flurries in his assailant's attack and even attempt some attack combination's, but eventually he was overwhelmed. After a brief but intense struggle, Oswald found himself helpless on the ground with a woman crouching over him, her knee pinning his chest to the ground, a dagger poised by his throat. He smiled through the pain and mumbled words of greeting through lips turning numb.
“Nice to see you again, Selaina. Been a while.”
“Years and years, Elder Brother. I wish I could say the years have been kind to you.”
“Oh but they have, Younger Sister. You have no idea what you've gotten yourself into here.”
“I think I have a pretty good idea, Oswald. I've managed to bag myself the biggest prize on two worlds. You. As soon as I figure out some way to get back to Ispar, your head will buy me a duchy in Viamont. Or, I hear that the Crown Prince Varicci came through to this world, as well. Perhaps he would reward me with lands on Dereth for finally fulfilling your contract.”
Oswald laughed. Normally his laugh was unpleasant and unsettling, but with the nerve toxin affecting his muscles, it sounded even more disturbing, like the last desperate gurgles of a drowning victim. “You are in way over your head, girl. Things are different here and you have ignored a lot of important information. Just like when you challenged me for the right hand at the table, a year before you were ready. You moved before you knew what you needed to know.”
“And what piece of intelligence am I missing now, Oswald? Am I uninformed about the wonderful magic that speeds the swing of my blade or robs the strength from my victims' limbs? Am I ignorant of some arcane warding that protects your person? Did I forget to account for the bizarre deathlessness of this world, so that those I kill will rise in a few moments at some revolving blue crystal miles from here? I can't kill you for good, but I can do worse things to you. All these things have been accounted for, Elder Brother.” She put a degree of sarcastic emphasis on those last two words that made Oswald laugh from the frustration and bitterness he could sense behind then. Enraged, she rolled him roughly onto his belly and seized his hands to begin binding him up in ropes. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a shape moving through the nearby trees, and laughed again as Selaina continued to gloat.
“I have you, Elder Brother. In a few more moments you will be completely helpless, and I will have you bound and ready for disposal. I didn't even need the poison to do it. You've become slow and soft on this world.”
Oswald nodded as well as he could, and kept talking to occupy her attention. “It's true, you were almost too fast for me when we were apprentices, and I'm sure I'm not as fast as I used to be. I have great respect for your skills, Selaina. I always have. It's your preparation and forethought that I always found to be lacking.”
A whistling noise sounded from above. Selaina cried out in pain and both her arms dropped to her sides. In Oswald's vision, a pair of throwing knives had sprouted from her shoulder blades, impaling her joints at incredibly uncomfortable-looking angles. A fluttering shape jumped from the canopy of a tree close by and dropped to the ground behind Selaina. There was a quick flurry and all of a sudden she was the one face down on the ground, with a stranger's knee in her back and a dagger to her throat. “It would be wise to refrain from resistance,” a soft and polite voice informed her from above.
Selaina's voice was outraged when she realized what had happened. “You had help out here? You don't work alone any more? You old coward!” she spat venomously.
Oswald laughed again, richly amused. The whole trip had been worth it, just for this delightful encounter with Selaina. “Now now, Selaina. As I told you… things change. I don't work alone any more, and believe it or not, I have found that killing can be counterproductive at times. So after my apprentice has trussed and bound you, we can talk like adults, instead of like the squabbling children we once were, a lifetime ago.”
In a cavernous vault beneath Freebooter's Isle, two old bandit captains sat at a table, with a pile of pyreals and trade notes between them. The two men were friends and business partners of long acquaintance, and had saved each other's lives and livelihoods time after time, both on this world and on their former home of Ispar. Still, they watched each other's hands like a hawk, wary for any sleight of hand or signs of cheating by their counterpart.
Finally, the two of them tore their gaze from the pile of loot they were dividing up, and looked into each other's eyes. The Gharu'ndim gentleman spoke first.
“Profits are down. Not so much trade coming through Northwatch now,” said Master Mehkar, the castellan of Northwatch Castle.
“Aye, the same here on me own premises on Freebooter.” Master MacTavish, self-proclaimed Laird o' Freebooters, sighed at the inadequate collection of profits. “It's as me cousins MacNiall and MacDugal warned me. People lose interest and move on. The masters will nae be happy with this haul,” he continued.
Mehkar smiled. “Lucky for you, your old captain has found a solution that should improve the flow of others' hard-won treasures into our own coffers.”
MacTavish leaned closer. “Do tell, Mehkar. I've got some ideas of me own, but let's hear your solution first.”
Mehkar drew a small wooden case from his belt pouch and set it on the table. “Go ahead, open it,” he encouraged his friend. “Nothing dangerous in there.”
A raised eyebrow indicated MacTavish's skepticism. “That's what ye told me afore I cracked open that booby-trapped chest we looted from the royal galleon twenty years ago.”
Mehkar laughed. “You'll never get over that one, will you? We're too old and comfortable to pull these kind of tricks on each other now. Besides, you were the logical choice to open that chest. You were always a better lockpick than I am. Go ahead, I assure you there is no trap or danger here.”
Reluctantly, MacTavish reached forward and opened the clasped lid of the wooden case. Inside was a simple key, thickly constructed, and with a vague sheen to it. He held it up to the light and inspected it carefully, with a criminal's eye for forgery.
Mehkar nodded. “I've secured a new back-channel supply for these keys that adventurers are so addicted to. All I need now is to decide how to distribute them to reward the greediest and most motivated rogues who come through my doors.”
“Well I'm glad for ye, but I dinna see how that helps me, unless ye were planning on, eh, subsidizing us out o' the goodness of yer heart.” MacTavish's skeptical expression showed how likely he thought that was.
“Friend, do you think I would allow your operation to sink when I've literally got the key to our problems in my hands? Of course I'd be willing to share the bounty with you. At a fair price, of course.” There was a glint in his eye as he mentioned the fair price, and MacTavish knew exactly what that meant.
“Well I think we may be able to work out a more equitable partnership, since ye still don't know how ye're planning to drum up more visitors…”
This time it was Mehkar's turn to regard his partner skeptically. “What can you offer me, then? We operate under the same letter of marque. Unless you have secured a supply chain for other, ahem, exotic goods, I don't know what you can offer in equal trade.”
“Well, ye mentioned afore that I was the better lockpick. We both knew that. Ye should also know, my talents are more widespread than that. A little creative sabotage can sometimes make for very profitable results…”
Mehkar was about to ask him what he meant when the ground underneath them rumbled. They could hear the sounds of battle and shouting coming from the walls of Freebooter Keep. Mehkar thought a moment and looked wildly at MacTavish. “What's going on? The banner wasn't claimed that long ago. Are the Moarsmen attacking prematurely?”
MacTavish sat back with a wide, smug grin of satisfaction on his face. “Nay, it's wouldn't be the Moarsmen. I expect that's one of the other secret societies. Let's just say I've figured out a way to make things a little more chaotic around here. Between me own measures, which I can help ye with at Northwatch, and your new supply chain, we should be seeing more fresh waves of clients coming through here. And what's our motto, friend?” He drew out a pair of small glasses and a bottle of well-aged Aluvian whiskey.
Understanding now, Mehkar smiled back at his friend as he accepted a glass of the strong drink. “There's always profit in chaos, for those with the guts to capitalize.” Laughing, the two of them clinked their glasses together and took a deep, satisfying sip.
Hello there and welcome to the April 2009 Release Notes for Asheron's Call! Spring is finally here and the snow has all melted away, and Baby Creatures have appeared on the landscape. There are many other changes coming this month, lets get right to it and check them out!
Many monsters that don't drop corpses now drop treasure piles. This is to fix an issue where loot wouldn't drop if the monster was in certain animation state when killed.
The XP on Moarsmen Isle and Freebooter Isle landscape creatures has been increased.
A new bottle style quest has been added that begins with a note that will drop from a particular type of creatures.
The dungeon for this quest may not be what most players expect.
A new level has been added to the Crystalline Crag Dungeon
Spring has finally arrived. The snow has melted and baby creatures are appearing on the landscape once again.
Slayers can now be added to the Sword of Lost Light.
A stranger has shown up in The Lost Portal town. She appears to be looking for some specific items.
The Rare Exchanger NPC has had some adjustments made.
The Exploration and Monthly Kill tasks have been updated.
Arc spells have had their damage increased like the bolt spells did last month.
The Olthoi Matron Colosseum fight has been tweaked more based on feedback.
Spirit Drinker 8 now does 8%; Blood Loather 8 now matches Blood Drinker 8.
Paralyzing Fear will now override Incantation of Slowness Other.
Adept rank Graveyard quests will now give you another tracing paper and supplies if you town crier the originals.
The PvP town now has a new mechanic which allows the town to be taken after 27hours. Players of the winning faction after the town is taken will now also be rewarded Mana Forge Keys.
Armor kits now look like a black gem when bought; when the gem is used it creates an armor kit in your pack.
New items to use the armor kits on: Doomshark Hide Coat Snarl's Jerkin Scourge's Hide Leggings Plaquefang's robe Nefane Shield
Moarsman City has received some slight changes. Make sure you check them out!
The Crate of Olthoi Acid Arrowheads now pluralizes correctly.
The Bound Wisp now portals you back to the start of Crystalline Crag.
The Following quests have had 2 use Mana Forge Keys added to the rewards for completing them:
Jester Released (the jester you fight not the one you let out of the cell) key only receivable once every 2 weeks where as Jester can be fought every 3 days Jester Focuses (K'nath Core quest) Elysa's Journey Dreams of the Hopeslayer Vision of the Past
These quests have also been fitted with the pack space check on reward.
The Jester Released quest will now tell you how long until you can do it again.
A typo in the Uber Towers in The Tower Defense has been fixed.
So there are just some of the things we have in store for Asheron's Call in April. Please remember that along with everything listed here, there are several new quests and exciting things going into the game for the April event.
Q: You do realize that someone with a character in each society can go capture the keep, get a key reward, log on his other character the next day, capture the keep, get a key reward, and on, and on, and on, right?
A: You're not thinking grand scale enough, he'd log on both chracters each day and swap the two forts, getting a key with each character each day.
I think you will find the process will be time consuming for a solo player, and hopefully difficult, so that the amount of work he's putting in for the "free key" would probably be better spent doing other quests for more rewards.
I would be fairly impressed if a person scheduled their life around a once a day key, since the 27 hours will cause the time to rotate through when someone may work,go to school, sleep, etc.
Q: And you realize that if he is the one who does this, he's going to know to be there exactly 27 hours later so he can do it again? And you know that anyone who doesn't show up within the 15 minute time frame of him capturing the keep misses out on keys, while he pretty much gets a key for nothing every day?
A: The reward is for people who fought at the forts. So if you show up after the fight is over the reward wasn't earned. (15 minutes was a close guess, but not quite the timing of it)
A global announcement goes off when the fort is available for attack, so everyone on will know that they can go fight for a key.
But as always after you've given it a few tries, feel free to give feedback on the dynamic.
Q: This wasn't a problem until they went and nerfed thirst. Now only 25% of the server has thirst, instead of 95% of them.
PK logger should apply to anyone that is on the same landblock as another PK.
A: The PvP long range Orb was meant to tag people in dungeons for this exact reason. If the log off macros have become too efficient I can probably fix that somehow. A short log off timer for red players would probably do it but that is certainly annoying in cases where you just want to leave the game. If it was 5 seconds I don't know that it would be that bad, but I don't know if that would give the attacker enough time to portal in.
I could also have the 5 second timer apply only if the person was indoors; surface log outs would not be affected though they would have the normal timer if already tagged.
We could probably make a spell version of the orb for counter plug ins. Hmmmm.
I'd have to run it past people to see if we can afford the dev time as I am knee deep in 10th anniversary tech.