A swirling portal hangs before you, inviting you to give up your ordinary life. The Empyrean Wizard Asheron, in his high, lost tower, calls you to Dereth. Will you step through?
You are on of a select group of people who are invited to participate in the Confidential Beta 0 of Asheron's Call, a game being developed by Turbine Entertainment Software and published by Microsoft to be played on the MSN Gaming Zone. If you feel you recieved this package in error, please email us at email@example.com
We know you will spend many hours of delight as you venture through our world. However, be prepared. Dereth still suffers the ravages of the Olthoi and the warping power of Asheron's magic. This is a BETA version of a complex online game, about to start its first test involving truly significant numbers of people. It will not be of the quality and stability we will attain when we ship the game. There will be server crashes and slowdowns. We dont support all 3D cards yet. Sometimes your hard-earned character will be wiped out and you'll have to start over. You'll find bizzare bugs that make your hair stand on end -- and we'll ask you to report them. We will deliberately try to create stressful situations that need your cooperation We'll also ask you to fill out surveys to help us know what is going on as you play.
Though all of the features are done, they are not yet tuned or optimized for playability and speed. You'll stumble upon parts of the world that are bare and unfinished. Many things are out of balance; some too strong, others too weak. Not all of the quests are working properly. Many quests are not yet implemented. Lots of little polished bits are not yet there.
Also, the world will not nessecarilly be available all the time. For technical reasons, the servers will sometimes be down. We also may deliberately keep the servers up for less than 7 days a week so we can concentrate the numbers of people simultaneously online and assure our ability to handle thousands of players in a single world. We won't do it just to be cruel.
We also really mean "confidential". We ask you not to share information about the game with ANYONE unless they are online playing the game with you. No press leaks, no hints, no newsgroup postings, nothing. Any violation of this is grounds for tossing you off the beta list without warning. If your friends and family happen to see the game over your shoulder, it will be your responsibility for them to understand the absolute confidentiality of this stage of testing. We will let you know when we're ready to tell the world how great this game is; until then, we need to concentrate on getting there.
Please understand that we can accept NO responsibility for anything that happens to you or your PC while testing this pre-beta product! We are reasonably sure that nothing in AC causes damage, data loss, hair loss, or the like but we cannot guarantee this. We also cannot be held responsible for your online connection fees, AC addiction, or the challenges this game can pose to your personal relationships with human beings in that little space we call "outside of the game".
Think you can handle it? If not, we understand -- wait until the end of the year and you can buy our game in a shiny box with all of the problem's solved and the world polished. But if you feel you have the stomach for beta testing, jump on in, we're glad to have you!
Apocalypse Party on 6/2/99
Original Link (now dead) -http://www.zone.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEnewsapocalypse.asp
Apocalypse Party on 6/2/99
To do a recent game upgrade, we needed to wipe all the characters from the database on the evening of June 2nd, forcing everyone to start over the next day. The wipe was well predicted and advertised. What we hadn't foreseen was the poignancy of creating a virtual-reality apocalypse. Players had invested a great deal of energy into their characters, led them through many stirring adventures, and come to identify with them, and when an announcement was broadcast that an 11th-hour party was being held in Glenden Wood, a large number turned out. A handful of players organized the event themselves on the spur of the moment, quickly attracting over 40 participants. Game admins then showed up and assisted by teleporting interested adventurers to the site from all over the continent.
Afterward, Fracas@Zone submitted an account of the last hour of his character, Shreck; +Mr_Quazarr provided a transcript of the chat that took place as players exercised their wit while displaying their hard-earned powers and possessions; and several players sent in screenshots. Though not exactly a somber, contemplative occasion, the gathering did celebrate players' attachment to their characters. It also prompted them to look beyond all the accumulated statistics and virtual-reality possessions to the more enduring community of real people. A psychologist would probably have a heyday examining the spontaneous rituals of the apocalypse party -- the symbolic shedding of the personas in the removal of clothes and armor, the benediction of a priest created especially for the occasion -- but we'll let you draw your own conclusions.
Original Link (now dead) -http://www.zone.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEnewsshreck.asp
Shreck's Final Hour
By Shreck, aka Fracas@Zone
The world was about to end. Dereth was set to fade out within the hour. It pained me that Shreck, my Sho warrior whom I'd meticulously built up through weeks of blood (his blood), sweat (my sweat), and tears (don't ask), was going to disappear forever. There were to be no statues of Shreck in Arwic's town square, no mention of him in the history books -- just "poof," and he would be gone.
I had to bid farewell and get one last screenshot of the powerful warrior whom I'd brought up from a mere pup. I felt silly -- how could I actually care for this video-game character? After all, I figured I was done with Asheron's Call after this initial beta period. I'd spent too much time building Shreck into a man who could stand on his own, and his death seemed like a good excuse to avoid spending even more.
I found Shreck standing in Arwic where I'd left him. There was no one else around, and it was strangely silent. I set up and snapped the screenshot beside the levitating blue gem that had delivered him so often to this peaceful town, then, like any good warrior, turned to the blacksmith shop for one last inspection to see if anyone had left some cool weapons behind.
As I bellied up to the window, someone suddenly called to me. A character by the name of Epsilon was asking if I knew where to find an Olthoi. He had never seen one before and wanted to take one on before his character was wiped. I told him there was one in the Arwic mines just a few steps away through the portal. He asked if I could show him. I couldn't pass up one last adventure, so off we went.
His character was the same level as mine, and we had no problem dispatching the pathetic drudges and zombies we found along the way through the labyrinth. In no time at all, we'd come to the mist-filled hallways that had earlier made me pause for fear of what was beyond. But Shreck was a well-traveled warrior by now, and the Arwic mines were familiar, even comfortable. Epsilon and I first took on a granite golem. In no time it was pile of rocks -- we were invincible! Around the next turn we found the Olthoi. Epsilon said he was impressed -- who wouldn't be? An Olthoi cuts an imposing figure. Fortunately the Olthoi in the Arwic mines is a wounded one, and with a few deft strokes from our swords we quickly put it out of its misery.
Apparently somewhat deflated by the ease with which we had put down this otherwise impressive creature, Epsilon offered up another adventure. He knew of a place on the coast where rumor had it an entire troop of Olthoi hung out. The only Olthoi I had ever seen was the one we'd just carved up (and its previous incarnations); I was eager to take on a fully charged soldier.
We sailed across the countryside, passing all sorts of targets that, on a normal day, I would've fought for experience points and treasures. But accumulating experience was not our goal on this day. Epsilon and I were out for pure, reckless fun. As we were dashing over hills and valleys on our way to certain death, I was struck by how fun this game really is. I'd been a solo adventurer for most of Shreck's development. Later I'd joined up with friends and we traveled all over and fought hundreds of creatures. But this was the first time I'd hooked up with a complete stranger. The spontaneity of the adventure was the best part, and I realized then that Shreck had to return to Asheron's Call, and this time he'd be much more sociable.
Epsilon and I reached the Olthoi pack. They were a nasty bunch, none under level 21. I drew off one officer and led him into our kill zone away from the other baddies. It turned out to be the Olthoi's kill zone, however, because in seven strikes of its claws I was rewarded with a free trip back to Arwic. Epsilon was sent back to his lifestone soon after. We'd both died in a matter of seconds, but we put some hurt on the officer. That was good enough for both of us.
We met up again and ventured on, but time was running out. The server wipe was just 15 minutes away. I thought we'd end up saying good-bye to each other, the servers would be shut down, and that'd be it. But we got a message from the administrator telling us there was some sort of a meeting in Glenden Wood. Epsilon and I decided to check it out. We contacted the administrator asking for a shortcut to the gathering and in the blink of an eye, he transported us both to the Glenden Wood common, where we were met by a strange sight. There had to have been 50 or more characters standing about one little area. Many of them were stripped practically naked. Weapons, armor, and objects of all sorts were strewn about on the ground. At first I thought everyone was gathered to ready themselves for a massive player-killer battle. To my surprise and amusement, it turned out people had stripped off their armor and possessions not to gear up with better accoutrements for the big battle, but as an offering to the Asheron's Call gods. This was a death party. I noticed there was a character in the center of it all, a first-level priest created for this moment to give us all our "last rites."
There was a tremendous amount of chatter. Keeping track of it all was almost too much. Epsilon and I had to communicate with the "@tell" code just to be able to pick each other out from the din. Everyone was taking screenshots of this moment and asking all of us to pose -- straightforward shots of characters in attack mode, and sillier staging with the emote codes like "YMCA." There was a lot of good humor in the group. I noticed one character had stripped off all of his armor, then had set down all of his mana stones and parchment in a perfect circle. He sat in the center of this shrine till the end.
In the last minutes, we were all watching our clocks and there were a lot of good-byes as well as a lot of wisecracks. One guy yelled out "Hey, who stole my wallet!" while some Stanley Kubrick fan called out "My God, it's full of stars!" The priest had us all gather around and he gave us our last rites, mixing passages from the Bible with lines from Star Trek.
It was great to see all of these people in one place. I know it's just a video game, but there was something very human in this final gathering in which we were all about to watch our characters pass into oblivion. As the final seconds ticked away, people were jumping, running, casting spells, waving good-bye -- and the chatter reached a fever pitch. There were dozens of farewell wishes and promises to meet again in the next life. Epsilon and I will certainly meet up again and fight on in the new Dereth.
I glanced up from the chat window for one final look around. No one was moving. Everyone must have been busy typing in their messages, or so I thought. I looked back down at the chat window -- nothing. The once-frantic scrolling of messages had completely stopped. Yet all of the characters were still gathered around the priest. Magical swords still sparkled, and I had complete freedom of movement. It must have been server lag, I thought. I walked around surveying the scene and suddenly felt like I was in an episode of the Twilight Zone. Every character was frozen in place. It was eerie. I called out, hoping someone could answer my question, "Why is everyone so quiet?" The message registered in the chat window. Surely someone would answer. No one did. It seemed Shreck had somehow been missed in the wipe and was going to live on forever. I decided to turn away from this spooky scene. I picked up a powerful sword someone had left behind, set Shreck on auto-run, and headed off for another adventure. Ten paces out, the gods of Asheron's Call caught up to me and sent me a final message: "Server Connection Lost." Dereth had disappeared and, "poof," Shreck was gone.
Screenshots of the Apocalypse Party
Original Link (now dead) -http://www.zone.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEnewsapocshots.asp
Screenshots of the Apocalypse Party
Asheron's Call Beta: June 2, 1999 11th-Hour Gathering in Glenden Wood Just Before the Server Wipe
Gristleeater says, "<--- gives parsnip the last rights.."
Raoh says, "how much longer? ;p"
Reverend Polecat says, "Minutes, my friend"
Gristleeater says, "what happens if we all do at once?"
Washizu says, "strike me down and I become more powerful than you can imagine!""
Magika the Etherian says, "We shall meet Asheron in the halls of the dead and he shall give us the wisdom and peace we all have dreamed for"
Tex says, "Could well take +ashtest now?"
Gristleeater says, "what happens if we all do at once?"
Jon says, "ah dern town of Glenden Woods ye have always been a comfort to this poor one"
Tex says, "If we all ganged up :-)"
Gristleeater says, "what happens if we all do "" at once?"
Reverend Polecat tells you, "Anyone logging this chat?"
Hell Maker says, "lol do we have to log out this time to save our characters? ;) lol"
Sly'er says, "Fairwell thee friends"
+Ashtest has been saved.
Prophet says, "My god, it's full of stars"
Reverend Polecat says, "Fair thee well, my children, we shall meet again."
Magika the Etherian says, "Let the world of Dereth acceept our souls"
Yoshi-san says, "haha Prophet!"
Mortanius says, "Whoever is casting on me, stop."
Washizu says, "hey I feel myself slipping away"
Washizu says, "I see a tunnel"
Wildfire says, "it's a portal storm, hun"
Reverend Polecat says, "This should be a peaceful time"
Washizu says, "and I see a magical place"
Prophet says, "I should have taken the blue pill"
Titoburrus says, "The last remaining person... take a screenshot for Turbine :)"
Washizu says, "I see a guy with horns poking me with a pitchfork"
Sly'er says, "Whoa, Elvis is in the trees waving for me to come forth"
Messenger says, "later everyone :)"
Raoh says, "later"
Epsilon says, "just saying hey, nice knowing ya"
Broadcast from +Ashtest> Brace yourself, my followers.. .for the evil clouds of change are above us... the time is nearing (3 minutes)
Epsilon says, "goodbye, everyone"
Driscol the Wary says, "I thank all of ye who have guided my soul and treated me kind"
Hell Maker says, "never thought id take off that chainmail shirt"
Washizu says, "will we all die together?"
Magika the Etherian says, "The Reverend shall lead us into the halls of the dead. We will always be here amount Dereth. If not in body then in soul"
Raoh tells you, "can you put some olthois in glenden real fast? hehe"
Galadrielle says, "****Farewell, people****"
Magika the Etherian says, "gotta fix that"
Reverend Polecat says, "We may die, but we will not perish."
Magika the Etherian says, "hehe"
Sly'er says, "you first Washizu"
Tyche says, "Fair well, asheron, as I know it to be"
Raoh tells you, "would be a good way to go out ;p"
Raoh tells you, "hehe.. ok"
Fishman tells you, "what evil cloud LOL"
Washizu says, "we should jump off a mountain"
Gristleeater says, "everyone back up a step or two"
Woof says, "I hope this is good"
Raoh says, "oops"
Parsnip mama says, "We can only hope that the examine monster bug dies with us tonight....."
Raoh says, "was trying to drop"
Magika the Etherian says, "Dereth- oh dereth. Land of the Free races."
Laine Myer tells you, "Whew! Almost there! (I'm running to Glendenwood!) I MADE IT!"
Broadcast from +Ashtest> It has been wonderful knowing you all... you have served Lord Asheron with pride. Your travels shall not be forgotten
Washizu says, "good-bye"
Mortanius says, "Until tomorrow :)"
Gristleeater says, "but will the COORDS remain the same??"
Woof says, "see ya all"
Sly'er says, "bet the rats would run from me if they saw my hairy legs"
Magika the Etherian says, "Accept our bodies and make the land fertile"
Prophet says, "Whoa, who snagged my wallet?"
Titoburrus says, "farewell"
Bungalo says, "Weeeeeeee are the world!"
Gristleeater tells you, "but will the coords become the same?"
Mortanius says, "May you tread lightly.."
Washizu says, "we are the children"
Driscol the Wary says, "Here I come white rats!!"
Mortanius says, "May Yrth spare your souls."
Raoh says, "cya all tomorrow ;p"
Jo tells you, "when will it be up again?"
Tex says, "Farewell. Go unto the great wipe in peace!"
Warhawk tells you, "what's with the portal storms?"
Mortanius says, "He is more forgiving that you might think."
Shreck says, "I'm goin' with my boots on."
Magika the Etherian says, "May your sword kill many Olthoi"
Gristleeater tells you, "the song remains the same....."
Washizu says, "here comes the asteroid"
Fidget says, "* Was a Blast, All , Farewell , and see ya when we fight over the rats tomorrow, rofl *"
Prophet says, "time to lay down"
Bungalo says, "Bye bye Miss American Pie"
Qimdaq says, "Has anyone seen my toothbrush?"
Magika the Etherian says, "uh oh"
Magika the Etherian says, "portal a brewing"
Shreck says, "no but i have your credit card"
Moebius says, "Goodbye all"
Wildfire says, "rats and rabbits again *sigh* oh brother"
Jon says, "*"
Washizu says, "hey, I think we are going to live"
Khaanuh Badosh says, "Thanks +Ashtest!"
Raoh says, "gotta finish off my beers hehe"
Tex says, "I hiding in my pile of loot. May the wipers pass over me..."
Jon says, "*bow deeply*"
Driscol the Wary says, "I feel happy"
Shreck says, "sounds like someone's trying to get drunk"
Broadcast from +Ashtest> Brace yourselves... Grab on to something tight... the tides are coming?
Wildfire says, "wish i had a beer"
Titoburrus says, "This will be a letdown if all that happens is it says server connection lost :)"
Magika the Etherian says, "I shall not leave until my life is take. Oh the gods shall be pleased"
Mortanius says, "Thank you for putting up with these people, Reverend Polecat."
Epsilon says, "Zojak Eazael"
Woof says, "I'm feeling light-headed"
Galadrielle says, "someone is drinking all the beer"
Jon says, "hmmmm"
Bungalo says, "hehe"
Raoh says, "whew, a case in 20 seconds ;p"
Prophet says, "It feels all tingly"
Washizu says, "that sound is.."
Bungalo says, "Malar Easith"
Kyrten says, "*sips the kool-aid*"
Washizu says, "driving me nuts"
Magika the Etherian says, "Guess who's drinking it ;p GROG"
Magika the Etherian says, "rofl"
Shreck says, "Uh, why's everyone so quiet??"
Original Link (now dead) -http://zone.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEnewsscavenge.asp
By +Larn Margot
It had been rumored that there would be a mysterious contest of skill and bravery across the land of Dereth, and I, being a scribe, was naturally interested. Bands of 10 to 20 brave men and women were meeting and forming teams at towns all over the continent. I caught up with "Team Three" in the swamps of Sawato.
As the adventurers easily overwhelmed a red phyntos wasp, the rumbling of thunder could be heard across the swamp. Ichi jin-rai searched the corpse and found a pair of intact wings. "I got a wasp wing. That's worth another point . . ." Ichi jin-rai said, when a mud golem crashed through the bushes, running surprisingly fast for such a large monster. Two more of the creatures soon followed. The rest of Team Three -- Elorian, Aslan the Lionheart, and Jane the Brave -- easily slaughtered the golems, their bodies crumbling to a thousand pieces. Following the battle, the relatively green Aslan jumped with excitement, exclaiming, "I've never seen a golem before!" However, after inspecting the remains of the creatures, the adventurers seemed crestfallen. What were they hoping to find?
During a brief respite from the fighting, I asked the nature of this contest. It happened that Team Three was one of the eight registered bands participating in a six-hour scavenger hunt. The objective was simple, if a bit odd: collect monster body parts, medallions, and armor specified on a public list and turn them over to an advocate for points before time ran out. Of course, different items had different point values, ranging from the one-point Auroch Horn to the thousand-point (not a misprint!) Olthoi Cuirass. Perhaps the advocates needed these ingredients for a special spell. Or perhaps this strange hunt was intended to encourage adventurers to eliminate the evil creatures of Dereth. I do not know. Team Three was trying hard not to get ambushed by golems in the process of collecting one-point wasp wings.
After the event, I discovered from an advocate that Team Four, consisting of Vidorian (the leader), Jon, Draco, Blackthorn, Doremon, Kewlbreeze, and Tobias, had achieved victory with a staggering 171 points. I sought them out and discussed strategy with them. Kewlbreeze originally set his sights high. "I wanted to go for the Olthoi Cuirass at first =)" he told me. However, Jon convinced the team to "stay with the easy stuff." Obviously the strategy worked for Team Four, whose most valuable item was a swamp stone, worth a lowly three points. Slow and steady seemed to be the key to the scavenger hunt. No team brought in an item worth more than four points.
Team Three, the team I was following, finished second. Perhaps their choice of hunting ground had cost them victory. Soon after being attacked by the golems, Ichi jin-rai was ambushed by two swamp gromnies. Jane the Brave summed up the situation best when she exclaimed, "RUN!" This scribe was glad he was not noticed by the gromnies (I bravely hid in the bushes).
Congratulations to Team Four for their astounding success!
Final Team Scores Supplied by Dave@Turbine
(Team 1 and 5 results not available)
No list of items obtained.
TOTAL 9 POINTS
No list of items obtained.
TOTAL 7 POINTS
18 White Rat Tails
2 Black Rat Tails
4 Brown Rat Tails
1 Swamp Stone
8 Drudge Charms
6 Banderling Scalps
3 Red Phyntos Wasp Wings
8 Blue Phyntos Wasp Wings
3 Green Phyntos Wasp Wings
3 Wood Hearts
2 Gold Tumerok Insignia
TOTAL 69 POINTS
1 Blue Phyntos Wasp Wing
1 Red Phyntos Wasp Wing
5 Green Phyntos Wasp Wings
1 Wood Heart
39 Auroch Horn Spears
16 Swamp Stones
12 White Rat Tails
1 Grey Rat Tail
5 Drudge Charms
15 Banderling Scalps
1 Skeleton Skull
TOTAL 171 POINTS
12 White Rat Tails
3 Grey Rat Tails
2 Red Rat Tails
9 Black Rat Tails
30 Banderling Scalps
2 Green Phyntos Wasp Wings
1 Red Phyntos Wasp Wing
7 Drudge Charms
3 Wood Hearts
2 Auroch Horns
1 Auroch Horn Spear
2 Swamp Stones
3 Skeleton Skulls
TOTAL 91 POINTS
1 Skeleton Skull
6 Swamp Stones
TOTAL 21 POINTS
4 White Rat Tails
2 Banderling Scalps
1 Drudge Charm
2 Green Phyntos Wasp Wings
1 Grey Rat Tail
1 Wood Hearts
1 Auroch Horn Spear
TOTAL 14 POINTS
Call to Arms Teaser
Original Link (now dead) -No Link Available
Call to Arms
"You can hear the murmurs in every tavern and around every lifestone. Tension is building all across the land.
"As old age claims the last heroes who were enslaved to the Olthoi, we grow complacent. We've relaxed our vigilance against threats from afar. And as more people are called to Dereth, our settlements encroach on the territories of other races. How can we not expect the dark denizens to strike back?
"Rumors from the frontiers suggest that more and more creatures are threatening human habitations. How long will it be before they strike here? How long before we must defend our homes?
"And are we prepared?"
--Scribe ibn Tur All over Osteth, mages have read the signs, and found the following ill-starred towns under imminent threat:
We implore adventurers to begin gathering within distant sight of buildings on the evening of Wednesday, July 7th, and guard the countryside and inroads. Do not gather in the towns themselves -- we wish to intercept the foe before they get so far! For political advantage and a mention in the Annals, monarchs are advised to turn out with their allegiances. The hour of trial is at hand; organize now!
Call to Arms Recap
Original Link (now dead) -http://www.zone.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEnewsarmscall.asp
Call to Arms: An Overview of the Recent Defense on 7/7/99
The advance scouts of the encroaching force appeared around 5:30 P.M. Pacific Time, comprising lesser monougas and banderlings, mixed with the occasional drudge pack. Holtburg was the first to encounter banderlings, who made their initial assault near the menhir just outside of town.
Soon other towns were under assault. Shoushi and Yanshi witnessed several hard-fought early battles. Later in the day, Yaraq was attacked by a huge swarm of monougas, who nearly decimated the population. A nearby tumerok raiding band took the opportunity to attack, hoping to pillage and plunder amid the general confusion. Between them and the rampaging monougas, it looked as though monsters might overrun the town. Fortunately, the stalwart citizens managed to regroup and form a defensive line near the beach, thwarting the blitzkrieg invasion. The town of Rithwic seemed at first to have escaped the onslaught, but soon ravenous hordes of monsters descended on their homes as well. Holtburg and Samsur were also struck by the host of invaders.
Citizen defenders gathered their allegiances to defend the towns. Pockets of resistance formed and encountered the enemy on all fronts. Mages and archers used the surrounding terrain, rampart walls, and building terraces to good effect, while stalwart warriors engaged the enemy hand-to-hand.
In Rithwic, a Sho warrior, tired and wounded, spotted a slim figure cutting her way through the ranks of enemies. There was a familiar look to her fighting style. Elegant and precise, she reminded him of the hero of the sacred rock. Could it be? By the gods, it was Ben Ten! Once again, Ben Ten had appeared in Dereth's time of crisis to defend a town, just like she did in Yanshi so many years before. Ben Ten's arrival seemed to lift the spirits of the defenders, and the tide of battle turned in favor of the Derethians. Soon Ben Ten was spotted in other areas of the island. Through some mystical means, she seemed to gust in with the wind, and where her blade shone, it laid waste to her opponents.
Just as the people of Dereth felt they could breathe a sigh of relief, a new and terrifying threat loomed. The tremendous monougas! Towering over 40 feet tall, these colossal behemoths left a swathe of death behind them. At first they appeared unstoppable, but the Derethians would not be easily defeated. As the battle for Dereth raged, some spotted the true source of the attack, the Virindi, who observed the battle with cold calculation. Shadow Lieutenants were also sighted. Could the presence of these minions of Bael'Zharon signify an unholy alliance between Virindi and Dark Lord? The possible ramifications of such a union are horrifying to say the least.
The battle ended around 8:30 P.M. Pacific Time, with exhausted defenders counting the dead and healing the wounded. Although the toll was terrible, the day had been won, and Dereth was safe for the moment. As the citizenry return to their daily lives, they discuss the Call to Arms as a grim reminder of the dangers of complacency. May we heed this lesson well, for surely this will not be the last time we face the enemy.
Call to Arms Recap - Screenshots
Original Link (now dead) -http://www.zone.com/asheronscall/news/ashenewsarmscallshot.asp
Screenshots of the Call to Arms Event
Asheron's Call Beta: July 7, 1999
Click on thumbnails for full pictures.
Original Link (now dead) -http://www.zone.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEnewswardiel.asp
I had only just received Sarneho's "Writ of Interdict" that condemned Wardiel the Mighty as a knave and a threat to all, when I heard reports of Wardiel attacking the good people of Dereth outside of Qalaba'r near the Lugian Tower. I traveled there swiftly, using portals to hasten my journey, and arrived to witness the aftermath of a great battle. People lay where they were slain and the smell of death was thick in the air. I asked a survivor to relate what had happened, and in a broken voice, he said that Wardiel and Bael'Zharon had raised altars to invoke chaos and strife. These altars allowed the people of Dereth to attack each other -- and gave Wardiel the opportunity to undertake a great slaughter. My informer told how Wardiel had initially been beaten back by a surprise attack of Derethians -- but had returned swiftly, stinking with Bael'Zharon's evil power. After killing the townsfolk en masse, he finally claimed the town as his own. I shivered, but, my curiosity overcoming my fear, I headed in the direction the citizen indicated Wardiel had gone.
As I went, I discovered that Wardiel had cut his way northwards, at first meeting little resistance. He overcame much if not all of the Sho and Gharu'ndim lands, and those lands that he could not conquer, he set his banderling thralls upon. Most disturbing, however, was the case of Samsur, where the citizens had the temerity to swear fealty to him, actually greeting the knave with open arms!
Despite Samur's treachery, Wardiel's reign of terror lost momentum. Again and again, at Shoushi, Yaraq, Eastham, and Cragstone, the folk of Dereth organized to repel his attacks. The defense suffered a setback at Eastham, when an epic battle between Fheer, a defender of good, and Kudce, a follower of Wardiel, ended in Fheer's momentary defeat. However, Fheer was destined to return . . .
In Holtburg, Wardiel's downfall began. Fheer, recovering from the wounds inflicted on him, led an army complete with healers and enchanters, who both aided him and weakened Wardiel with the spell Imperil VI. The people of Holtburg clashed directly with Wardiel. His train of evil followers, led by Blackthorn, Mortanius, and Kudce, sent many brave Derethians to the lifestones. However, Holtburg did not fall, and eventually Wardiel fled to Glenden Wood with delusions of making it his capital. Of his followers, only Kudce dared follow his failing dream.
It was at Glenden Wood that Wardiel lost his strength, Bael'Zharon's favor, and his life. Bael'Zharon, disgusted with his minion's failures, withdrew his blessing without warning as Wardiel began his assault. Stripped of his supernatural power, Wardiel was slain by the weapons and spells of Dereth's mightiest defenders. Even as Wardiel cast healing spell after healing spell upon himself, the crowd closed in, filled with a bloodlust of their own.
Following his death, adventurers discovered Wardiel's hideout at an old fortress southwest of Rithwic. A number of the defenders have remained, to found a village called Lytelthorpe in the keep's shadow. In the meantime, the towns Wardiel conquered have driven out his banderling troops and begun the slow, painful process of rebuilding. There are rumblings that, in the months to come, a successor will appear, seeking to triumph where Wardiel failed and -- with Bael'Zharon's help -- bring all of Dereth to its knees.
Original Link (now dead) -http://www.zone.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEnewswardiel2.asp
Eldrin relates an interesting side drama to the struggle against Wardiel in which a traitor ultimately sabotages himself.
Revenge! (A True Story) By Eldrin
It was midday in Cragstone as Eldrin entered the town. He had just run from Rithwic after a rather exciting battle with Wardiel the Mighty, who had fled the field like a coward when he found that the resistance was too strong.
Eldrin had carefully noted Wardiel's path, and he was guessing that after Rithwic the evil sorcerer would attack either Eastham or Cragstone next. As it happened, Wardiel struck Eastham first, giving Eldrin and many others who had chosen the same path just enough time to reach Cragstone before his arrival.
The evil sorcerer appeared, and before long a substantial group of fighters and mages had gathered around, each hacking at the servant of Bael'Zharon and casting their most powerful spells. Eldrin quickly ran in and tried his blade. When his sword proved to be no match for Wardiel, he turned to his bow and shot a rain of arrows onto his adversary. However, this is where the story takes a dismal turn, for while heroism was in the hearts of many that night, so was treachery.
After loosing another frog crotch arrow, Eldrin paused to reload. It was at that point he was struck from behind, and wounded rather badly. Astounded and thinking some adventurer had misplaced a blow, Eldrin began to turn. He had only moved slightly when the second attack came, leaving him with barely half his health. He spun the rest of the way to find a man named Gal Etah grinning evilly at him. Fearing for his life, Eldrin withdrew hastily from the battle, Gal Etah in hot pursuit. He dodged between the houses, attempting to lose his assailant, but it was not to be. At last, Eldrin ducked into the local tavern and hid under the stairs, hoping to be safe just long enough to regain his health and be able to put up a fight. But as if from nowhere, Gal Etah appeared before him. Eldrin sprang to his feet and tried to escape, but Gal Etah blocked his one way out of the small space he had foolishly placed himself in. Gal Etah struck him once, twice -- and Eldrin crumpled into a heap on the ground, dead.
Fortunately for Eldrin, just minutes before he had bound himself to the local lifestone, where he now appeared. He had the traditional five minutes after death in which he was no longer a player killer, and he used them in the only way he could think of: finding Gal Etah. Before long he had located the murderous coward, who also appeared as a white dot on the compass -- he must have died as well, killed by someone else. "I still have a score to settle" Eldrin told himself, and quietly began to follow his killer around the map, ignoring the battle all around him. Before long he had changed back into a player killer, which meant Gal Etah wasn't far off himself. Eldrin noted the dot turning to red on his compass, and quietly waited for his opportunity. Gal paused and lay down to heal himself after a scrap with another player, at which point Eldrin struck. He had lost his leggings, gloves, sollerets, shield, and sword when he died, leaving him with only his bow and some arrows. He pulled free his bow and let fly an arrow, which struck Gal Etah, who now rose to defend himself. Before long, Eldrin was seriously wounded yet again, and took off at a run. "I'm going about this all wrong..." thought Eldrin. "I was killed through treachery; perhaps I should fight fire with fire." Eldrin quickly healed his wounds and set out to find his foe.
He quickly located Gal, who was wandering around town, no doubt looking for some other poor soul to murder. Eldrin resisted the urge to let fly a hail of arrows, and quietly stalked his opponent for a good five minutes. He waited cautiously for his opportunity, then spotted it. Gal had engaged another player, who seemed to be putting up a decent fight. Gal Etah was in trouble, and Eldrin vowed to make him pay. Seeing that Gal's health was very low, Eldrin quickly sprang from the bushes and leveled his bow at Gal. He loosed an arrow, which struck Gal square in the back. Gal began to turn to this new threat, but it was already too late. Eldrin quickly nocked another arrow and took aim. He let fly the deadly shaft and watched with grim satisfaction as it struck Gal Etah directly in the head, killing him instantly. Eldrin let out a cry of victory as the murderer fell limply to the ground.
He walked over to the body, which was already being looted by Mortanius, the fellow Gal had been assaulting when Eldrin made his shot. Fearing that Mortanius would be upset that Eldrin had stolen his kill, Eldrin was pleasantly surprised when he complimented him quite civilly on his shot. Eldrin asked if he had found a particularly nice lightning ken on the body, and perhaps a pair of sollerets, but Mort only answered, "No," before running off to join the battle. Eldrin checked the corpse to see what Mort had left, and was again surprised to find a very nice silver basinet, which he quickly donned. Still depressed at the loss of his items, Eldrin made his way back to the inn where he had been killed. He wove his way around the furniture to the small space behind the stairs and received his third shock as he found all his items still lying on the floor! And not only that, several there had belonged to Gal Etah, who must have been killed quite soon after killing Eldrin. He quickly gathered what he found, and then, a broad smile on his face, he ran back to join the fray.
Campaign Against Wardiel
Original Link (now dead) -http://www.zone.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEnewswardiel3.asp
Campaign Against Wardiel
Asheron's Call Beta: July 24, 1999 Click on thumbnails for full pictures.
The diabolic Bael'Zharon materializes, and inducts a new member into the ranks of his faithful.
Wardiel the Mighty, chief captain of Bael'Zharon and lord of strife, prepares to eclipse Dereth's sun.
The noble Fheer exchanges taunts with Wardiel outside a Sho village.
Wardiel begins to systematically destroy the gathering defenders.
Having crushed all local opposition, Wardiel stations his banderling minions to hold the town until his return.
Kudce, evil lieutenant of Bael'Zharon, wipes his boot on the stricken Fheer.
Surrounded by minions both human and banderling, Wardiel strikes down Argath the Berserker as Bael'Zharon himself looks on.
At Holtburg, a foggy aura surrounds Wardiel as a powerful enchantment cripples his power.
Bereft of his dark lord's blessing, Wardiel meets his end at Glenden Wood.
The valiant Gyre claims Wardiel's mighty axe as her trophy.
Original Link (now dead) -http://wwww.zone.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEnewsannouncesept17.asp
The Latest Upgrade Is Here!
There has been a significant upgrade to Asheron's Call. Here are some important notes:
Please always read the system message that appears when you first start up AC. It may have information that is very important to you!
In order to better support 3D acceleration, DirectX 6 is now required. As a result, Windows NT 4 is no longer supported. Windows 2000 is temporarily unable to play AC, but this will be fixed soon.
If after you click Play in the chat room the game launches and quickly exits itself with no error, or if during the "updating" sequence (the blue tubes filling up) your progress stops entirely, try again. If it still happens, move the file "cell.dat" out of your AC install directory. Try again. If this still does not get you into the game, move the "cell.dat" back to your AC install directory, since removing it should only be done when absolutely necessary.
The following changes have been made:
Health-to-Stamina spells have new icons.
Removed the Lifestone from Lin.
Festival Stones are on the compass now. Same color as vendors.
New request assistance/complaint panel.
Blast spells are now targeted.
Telescopic view with Voodoo3 is fixed.
Players can no longer aid monsters with beneficial spells.
Adjusts all starting spells so they participate in the spell economy.
Your vitae penalty no longer wears off over time. Only earning XP will reduce it.
Damage and value of thrown weapons have been changed.
PK death now is the same as NPK death.
Now, when you back the camera against a wall, you turn translucent.
We've made a fix for client crashes that occurred when resizing with some video cards, including Voodoo Rush.
Researching a valid spell formula on an out-of-range target will never succeed.
We fixed a problem on the Riva128 with the mouse pointer scribbling all over the place.
Unarmed combat speeds have been changed.
Map screen now has glowing "points of interest"
We added a second exit portal to the Virindi Fort.
Loyalty and Leadership costs have been tweaked. Loyalty is automatically trained. Leadership cost is now 4 to train and 2 to specialize.
Added cookbooks and guides on alchemy and fletching. Go find them!
General shopkeepers sell a flaming torch.
Shows full name in vassal box when showing title.
Disabled "wild" (untargeted) swings, to close up abusable holes.
Green Mire Grave updated to prevent camping.
Portals to Direlands have been moved away from towns.
Lou Ka in West Shoushi now accepts Drudge Charms.
Dungeon Nye was fixed. Too many monsters in one room.
Towns of Lin and Tou-Tou are now on map, along with some others.
NPK player corpses are only lootable by the dead player.
PK corpses are only lootable by the dead player and their killer.
Some scribes now sell rumors about the Altar of Asheron.
Treasure at the bottom of Holtburg Dungeon has been changed (less valuable).
Directions to Festival Stones added. Scribes sell the directions.
Makes a deleted character slot "temporarily unavailable" for one hour.
Weird green glow around Magic spell icons on ATI Graphics Pro Turbo PCI (Mach 64) fixed.
The person unlocking a chest now has three-second "dibs" on opening the chest.
Wand of Black Fire reduced in value.
Cow is now not worth as much XP.
More creatures added to the Underground Forest dungeon.
Friends list size increased from 10 to 20.
Generic Collectors now tell players they don't deal in hides from creatures.
Please be aware that this is a new build with a lot of big changes, and as a result, new bugs and problems may have been introduced. In other words, expect things to be rocky for a few days while we work out the kinks. Things will be getting much better soon.
Thank you for your patience and support during the Asheron's Call Beta!
Fire in the Sky Recap
Original Link (now dead) -http://www.zone.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEtheend.asp
The Fire in the Sky
October 25, 1999
A comet appeared over Dereth last week, clouds raced across a smoky sky, and wanderers discovered devastation in and around many of the major towns, most notably Shoushi, which remained only as scattered wreckage surrounding a large, glowing crater. In Glenden Wood, a volcano had erupted, igniting nearby buildings. Soon after, reports flowed from the Direlands that ghostly elementals of living flame stalked the waste, in the company of magma golems. In the following days, decayed parchment copies of an ancient manuscript blew across the countryside, and canny adventurers began to gather and collate them, deciphering an unsettling prophecy. Fire elementals began increasingly to appear in the settled lands, until, late on Saturday, they poured in a torrent from the skies, attacking everyone they met. Citizens of Dereth rallied to oppose them. Eventually, the tide of fire abated, to be replaced by a hail of black stones. Enigmatic collectors appeared, with whom adventurers could redeem certain stones for powerful magical artifacts. Some sages believed that the collectors tried to work with the stones to somehow forestall the ultimate cataclysm. If so, they failed. Oblivion at last descended on Dereth. However, the brave deeds that went before were not in vain. As the cycle begins again, heroes will recall them in dreams; they will enter the mythology of a vital new world, and inspire even more stirring adventures in the bright years ahead.
Original Link (now dead) -http://www.zone.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEnewsfirewinner.asp
Screenshots of the "Fire in the Sky Event
End of the Asheron's Call Beta: October 22–24, 1999
Shoushi, Before and After
Glenden Wood, Before and After
Yaraq, Before and After
Elsewhere . . .
The Bridge Near Shoushi
The Direlands -- Elementals Regard Their Parent Star
Fire in the Sky Prophecy Contest
Original Link (now dead) -http://www.zone.com/asheronscall/news/ASHEnewsfirewinner.asp
The Lost Prophecy Restored!
Congratulations to the intrepid band led by Saffron Dusk (Caeryn Dryad, Sol the Wanderer, Alun Magus, Aliciana, and DeLT), who were the first to gather the damaged copies of the Fire in the Sky prophecy and assemble the following message:
* * *
In the midst of a terrible fever I had this dream. For four days and nights I sweltered, even as the chill wind scoured my sickbed, and visions appeared before me. As I burned, I saw the same befall the world.
There shall come a time of flame and woe unto the land. There shall be no harbinger of this suffering, no warning that we may escape. We have grown prideful, drawing power from the Earth's bones without thought, and for this she will be avenged.
The Earth shall be in turmoil, with great wounds rent in her flesh, and her blood shall burn like brimstone. Mountains of fire will awaken, and the fruited fields shall blacken. A crimson eye shall open amid the welkin and look down upon the ravaged ground. This bloody Witness shall be wroth to see the pain pent in the Earth, and its tears shall fall burning upon the land, bringing cleansing flame.
But the tears of the Witness shall not be as mortals shed: they shall live, and knowing the wrath of he who gave them birth, shall spread despair upon the earth. Their forms shall be those of men, and their might shall grow with the passing of days. They shall brook no thoughts of pity, but shall know only slaughter, and no woman nor man may enter their sight and not feel their rage. And still they will come, for many terrible nights and days.
When finally the Witness's grief is fully spent, its tears shall fall no more, and dark stones shall rain down in their place. In my dream, men laid hands on these stones, crafting magical wonders from them. Yet they shall be chary to use them, lest the Witness weep again.
* * *
Many sages from across Dereth labored long and hard to compose this message. Alas, there could be only one winner. However, an honorable mention, at least, is due the following adventurers, who also completed the entire text:
Original Link (now dead) -http://zone.com/asheronscall/news/spin11599.asp
The Spin from Turbine
November 5, 1999
Greetings from the living, breathing (and finally shipping) lands of Dereth! When last I wrote, the Asheron's Call team was finishing the last steps before finally releasing AC, and putting the final touches on the beta event. These past few weeks have been about as exciting as you could imagine.
Asheron's Call has been in development for well over four years, starting all the way back when the number of large-scale, graphical, massively-multiplayer games in development could be counted on one thumb. It's been a long, long road for the team, and we are thrilled to be able to share this game with you.
And now, after catching up on some well-deserved rest (or just passing out, in a few cases), we've set ourselves to seeing where we can take AC in the future.
Our plan is to introduce updates to the game approximately twice a month -- to support our ongoing storyline, improve the game experience, or just add new content to the world. Our first update concentrates mainly on our ongoing process to improve game balance.
As with the release of any game of this scale, Asheron's Call has a nearly endless number of issues that could use tweaking and features that we'd like to add. One of my goals for this page is to give you a fairly candid look at the issues we're facing, how we're approaching them, and why. (I say "fairly" because I can't let you in on everything that goes on here. For example, I can't really tell you what happened to my sandals during Chris Dyl's birthday party... and trust me, you don't want to know.)
Our first update is currently undergoing testing. Here what's been changed:
A handful of monsters were slowed down TOO much in our last balancing efforts; after the update you'll find Lugians, Armoredillos and Gromnies to be more spry now, and slightly better defended to boot.
Lugians and some Monougas had trouble getting through some doors. They will be able to get through them now. (Tremendous Monougas will still find doors a wee bit difficult.)
The "soft spots" in each Monster's armor-profile will be even softer. This gives a greater edge to melee/missile players who choose their attack heights wisely. As part of this change, the weak points on a couple of monsters have been moved.
We will tweak a number of locations where high-level monsters were a bit too easy to kill, based on the nature of the terrain and their proximity to towns or lifestones. Look for continuing changes in some locations as we further adjust game-balance.
Some objects in the world, such as vats and braziers, provided safe "perches" for picking off monsters. For now, we're making these ethereal while seeking a more elegant solution.
Having watched too many Steven Spielberg movies, our monsters have learned how to open doors on the landscape! (If this proves to be fun, look for this knowledge to migrate down to the monsters dwelling in certain dungeons...)
Gromnies will no longer defend their brethren.
Shadow creatures and Olthoi were too easily dispatched by magic; they will have better defenses.
Many Monougas will navigate better around pits.
Banderling Captains and Tumerok Warriors were always intended to cast spells, but managed to forget them along the way. They will cast spells again! Duck and cover!
Ice golems were taking twice as much damage from fire as had been intended. They will be hardier.
Magic: Resistances, Armor, Ranges and Duration
First off, a brief note: Mages already have a number of challenges to face in the game -- chief among them component burn and the spell economy -- but it's clear that at the moment, they have an unfair advantage when compared to other player-professions. Our challenge has been to balance their abilities relative to other classes, while still keeping them fun to play.
So in addition to some lowering the impact of mages in some respects, we've actually raised it in others, and looked for ways to reward those mages who approach spellcasting as more of a tactical art. Needless to say, we'll be looking at the effects of these changes carefully in the weeks that follow.
Portal magic was meant to be a sign of status among higher-level mages, but they've been a bit too easy to learn. With this update, higher-level portal spells will be a greater challenge to learn and cast.
Harm/Enfeeble/Mana Drain spells and Drain Health/Stamina/Mana spells had excessive range; this is unbalanced since these spells were never intended to be more effective than war magic spells. The ranges of these spells will be reduced, but the range of BENEFICIAL spells (Heal, Regenerate, Enchantment) will remain high.
The durations of spells which remain in effect over time did not vary enough as their level increased. With this update, powerful players will be able to triple the duration of their spells by casting higher-level versions of them. (Enchanters, your time has come!)
Changes are afoot for monsters and their ability to resist magic. Mages will STILL be able to do as much damage to monsters as in the past, but will have to choose their spells more carefully; with this new system, using a spell to which a monster has natural resistance can reduce its effectiveness by half or more! This brings mages into line with warriors who have always had to choose weapons carefully when attacking monsters; mages who choose proper spellcasting tactics will do as much damage as they ever did.
Vendors have held on to the magic scrolls sold to them, making it too easy to gain new spells. Vendors will not hold on to the magic scrolls they buy, and will only sell their standard supplies of them.
Minor tweaks: Health to Stamina Self II had the wrong scarab, and the Range for Exhaustion Other I was too short. Both will be fixed.
Health-to-Stamina Other spells did not display their range when examined. They will now.
Quest Items (including the Sword of Lost Light)
Upon reviewing our unique treasure items we realized that, given how powerful they were, they needed some additional restrictions. In general, we hope to avoid making changes to items you've already acquired, but these were just too powerful in their current incarnations. In general, weapons and armor will require higher skills to be used effectively, but will require less Arcane Lore.
If you have one of the following items already, expect them to change in the near future:
Blue Virindi Gem
Dagger of Tikola
Gem of Black Fire
Green Mire Cuirass
Green Mire Yari
Lou Ka's Yaoji
Orb of Black Fire
Red Virindi Gem
Sword of Lost Light
Tibri's Flaming Spear
Miscellaneous portals (including some associated with quests) will have appropriate level-restrictions added to them.
A small number of traps, locks and quest-related items will be tweaked.
Mattekar hides (your source of free'n'sturdy leather armor since 10 P.Y.) were appearing too frequently on Mattekar corpses; they are now more of a collector's item.
Minor tweaks were made to the values of jewelry created by the treasure system, to improve the consistency of treasure found in different locations.
A number of locations where players can get stuck in or behind objects will be fixed.
A number of tiny spell effects used the wrong colors, animations and such. These will be fixed.
A number of rumors will be clarified or corrected.
A number of quest-related and collector-related behaviors will have minor fixes.
A handful of other minor graphical fixes will be done.
The behavior of ale and green tea will be fixed.
Certain pieces of "healing cheese" will have a unique name. The veil of secrecy surrounding magic cheese is no more!
Minor tweaks have been made to improve server performance.
Whew! That's our first update. There are a number of other issues that we're working on. Here are some highlights:
As mentioned earlier, there are locations in the world where it's a bit too easy to take on monsters, because of the nature of the terrain. While we've fixed some specific areas in the current update, we're looking at ways to address the issue on a broader scale.
We are aware that many monsters seem to provide too little treasure for the effort required to take them down. The treasure-generation system is very complex, so this is taking a while to address, but we are working on providing more loot for your hoarding pleasure.
We're considering one more change to mages which will make the level of damage/effect provided by magic to be more variable, bringing it in line with other weapons and tools in the game. Our goal would be to add a bit more suspense to magic, as well as to improve game balance.
And don't forget our first "live" event! We'll try not to hurt Shoushi too much this time. :)
As we're still looking into these, your input can help a lot. Please watch this space; we are working with the Zone to place a message forum here where we can discuss updates and design issues together.
Now I'm off to get my butt kicked on the PK world. Bye!