[Asheron’s Call] My first MMO was Asheron’s Call, a game I looked at only because my entire gaming group was playing it. At that point, I thought Ultima Online was a theoretical plan for what online D&D could look like; I knew of EverQuest as some fantasy RPG that I had seen in stores, but I had never heard of anyone actually playing it. Yeah.
My friends tended to play games on a 3-4 month cycle. Start, get obsessed, burnout and set it aside. They were apparently in AC’s beta, because they were approaching the burnout cycle as the game went live. I was always the late adopter of games, partly because I did not have a computer that would handle it, partly because I was poorer than most of them and so did not buy many games. Two friends let me make a character on each of their accounts, so I tried it out when one of them was off somewhere. This was just before the Sudden Season, the first event/monthly update.
Don’t we all love our early game experience? We spend the rest of our time in games trying to capture that magic of first discovery.
We approached everything with complete innocence. The manual said that there was a spell research system; maybe we could discover rare and powerful spells, or invent something entirely new! Ooh, look at the flaming sword! Hey, I can jump on the roof of that shop! I better save all this Henbane until I find out what I can use it for…
We recovered rocks for pittances from an NPC. We found fields that spawned shreth that we could just barely take. We speculated on the great fields where the reedsharks must breed. And eventually, we moved to Mayoi.
Mayoi was a great town. It probably still is, for all I know, but my best memories of it were around the time that Atlan weapons were new. I was a mage in a reedshark shirt that my patron gave me, hunting green phyntos wasps and gromnies along the beach. Occasionally, water golems would spawn, and you had to remember to use electrical attacks on those. Don’t go too far down the beach, because that’s where the bigger things live.
When you can take the bigger things, there is a portal to the South Direlands just up that mountain. Which mountain? I have been running around here for 10 minutes! Oh, turn left, I went right. Again. Ash Gromnies ruled that part of the Direlands, death running at lightning speed.
Just over the hill, past the lugians, is the lighthouse archmage. I recall that archmage getting a sex change at one point. Anyway, that was the place to buy the cheapest tapers in Sho lands, so people would stand about to shop and brute force research spells. Someone would drag in a banderling to attack the encumbered mages, and the poor thing would usually get one-shotted pretty quickly. Once in a while, it would get a kill first.
Just over that hill, by the cliffs, is the Granite Golem’s tower. Wow that thing wasn’t worth it. It hit hard, resisted most of my attacks, and dropped nothing worthwhile. I mean, I like the granite hearts, but they aren’t worth much even if I turn them in to the right guy. Still, for a challenge, there is the big rock guy, or the three of them not far into the South Dires.
A friend of mine used to spend a long time in and around the Forgotten Halls (if I have the name right), just moments from the South Dires portal. He was quite happy to farm the respawning monsters in there for hours, before we had heard of farming, and slowly level and increase his stack of pyreals, before we had heard of grinding. Kill the undead until you are full, go sell, repeat until class.
Attwood was a big trader in Mayoi at that point. He had his monarchy going, and he was a reliable source for buying and selling pyreal motes. Mostly selling, since we were willing to hunt golems for fun and profit. Hey, sometimes you want to go for those Granite Golems, especially once you figure out what you are doing. I still see Attwood on some message boards I use, even if I have lost track of everyone else from that monarchy. (Faril, you out there anywhere? Not still working in construction, I hope; you had some nasty injuries that last summer I played, before your wedding. I imagine there are a dozen Shin-Goukis bouncing around.)
The shops there were good. They had good buying prices, and occasionally someone would sell something good, so folks shopped at the vendors. Sure, it was garbage to him, but I am ten levels lower! Besides, I can always use a better helmet.
Ah, the early days. When secret dungeons were still kind of possible. When we wondered why they were wasting time designing things like the Nexus, “’cause how many people are ever going to be high enough level to fight Dark Revenants?” When fletching and alchemy were good ideas for an archer (before they became bad ideas, before they became good ideas again, before… is that good now?). When it was really neat to pick sticks up off the ground, because you could maybe make quarrels from them sometime even if I didn’t use a crossbow, and isn’t it neat that you can gather the materials from the wild instead of needing to use the shops? I mean, I doubt that 10 quarrels is ever going to make the difference, but it’s nice to know it’s there if I really wanted to, you know? (We stopped picking up the sticks pretty quickly.)
Our monarchy officially worked out of the Hebian-To library, and that wasn’t a bad run once I was able to survive those parts of the wilderness. Baishi was another popular spot for us, since it connected to Mayoi through the Ruin and Web Maze, which I can still navigate blind. Several good groups worked out of Mayoi, like Attwood’s monarchy and Flying Elf’s. I cannot remember when Division by Zero came to be.
So this is just a bit of reminiscing about Morningthaw. I have been back a few times since closing my account, although not since they switched the billing over to Turbine’s hands. It is a bit of happiness about a game that made me happy for a few years and that my wife probably still holds a grudge against. Dereth just had an anniversary recently, so congratulations, and thanks for bringing some fun to the world.
It was through Asheron’s Call that I met my group of online friends who are now all in WoW, and to whom I will surely catch up someday. We still get together for LAN parties every few months, even though we are now a bit more spread out.
And I miss seeing that little bit of experience that came when you used a power for the first time in a few minutes. All right, free experience to Mana Conversion and Creature Enchantment! Yes! Let’s see if I get it again if I cast…woo-hoo!