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The 18th Anniversary of Alter Aeon - Jan 15-20, 2013

2013 was Alter Aeon's 18th birthday, and we've come a long way since 1995! The festivities this year consisted of area tours, contests on an ancient server version, a new area expansion, and a three part multi-day event with quests and fighting galore.

If you're interested in last year's event, you can find the 17th Anniversary Event Report on our System Events page.

Here's to another year of Alter Aeon!

Tuesday, Jan 15, 2013 - Area Tours

Area tours were run by Dentin at various times during the day. Tour group sizes were between 20 and 50 players, with players entering and leaving the group from time to time.

Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013 - 1995 Server Version Contests

For Wednesday's event, we started up the oldest working copy of the Alter Aeon server - a version from November of 1995. It's a testament to the quality of the original that this version still runs after all these years, and the only code updates that were needed were a handful of socket changes to improve visually impaired screen reader support.

We started the server at 10:00 AM, and at noon, the various contest classes and contest rules were posted. The contest ran for two days, and ended on Friday, Jan 18, at 12:00 pm PST (noon). Note - the equipment dependent hp, mana, movement, and AC categories were removed due to difficulty handling winners based on timestamp. Also, a new 'maximum single stat' category was added.

Contest categories and winners were:
  • Highest total levels goes to the player Khaos, with 56 total, levels 21 12 8 15.

  • Highest level in first class other than Khaos goes to Gollum, with level 21 warrior, levels 15 10 6 21.

  • Highest level in second class other than previous winners goes to Roan, with level 15 cleric, levels 10 15 20 8.

  • Highest level in third class other than previous winners does to Athlon, with level 8 thief, levels 13 4 8 16.

  • Highest level in fourth class other than previous winners is a tie, with Tyro having level 3 thief, levels 15 10 3 6, and Oreq having level 3 cleric, levels 6 3 9 13.

  • Highest single natural stat is a tie between Goroth with 22 wisdom, and Tyro with 22 int.

  • Highest total natural stats goes to Roan, with stats 18 21 21 19 18 13, total 110.

  • Highest natural hitpoints goes to Gollum, with 368.

  • Highest natural mana goes to Khaos, with 344.

  • Highest natural movement goes to Roan, with 206.

  • Highest gold goes to Blood with 298301.

Note that the player Roan actually won a couple more of these, but had already reached the prize limit of 3. He could be considered the overall master of the 1995 port.

There were also two categories for which there were no winners:
  • Top 3 most abusable bugs
  • Most crash bugs found
It has become tradition to run the 1995 server every anniversary, so if you want to check it out for yourself, your next shot is in 2014.

Thursday, Jan 17, 2013 - Area Expansion

Scribe and Grolantor opened an expansion to their stone giant woodland retreat. It has been very popular, with people still trying to work their way through all the details and deeds.

The area can be found west of Finspang on the mainland, near the foothills of the Shii'lok mountains.

Friday, Jan 18, 2013 - Event Part 1 - Frost Demon Storm

The Friday storyline gave background for the event, allowing players to learn about the frost demon, and threat posed to the whole mainland. The first sign of a problem was a strange, powerful snowstorm that suddenly appeared over Gad's Mountain:
Redferne says, 'if you're wondering about the storms, I may have some information for you'
Redferne says, 'a few days ago, an exploration party left for the ice world, but only one of them came back'
Redferne says, 'I happened to notice him while maintaining the portal, and he seemed different somehow'
Redferne says, 'he was radiating a strange, icy magic - not something I'd expect to see in a human'
Redferne says, 'he left quickly and didn't seem in the mood to talk, and the first snow began to fall shortly after he left the palace'
Redferne says, 'he may have gone back to DragonTooth, as that was where the explorers started out from'
Redferne says, 'make sure he gets his magic levels and abilities checked, he might have picked up something dangerous given that the rest of his party hasn't come back'
Redferne turns back to his work.

Soon after, the storm hit Dragon Tooth, and the town was left an icy shambles by an unknown party:
A monk says, 'thank goodness someone thawed me out!'
A monk says, 'there was screaming and people running around in the streets'
A monk says, 'then this man wearing a big cloak with the hood pulled over his face walked up to the portal'
A monk says, 'he felt cold even from far away, and he pointed his finger at me, and the next thing I knew you were melting me from the ice'
A monk shivers in the cold air.
A monk says, 'he probably went through the portal, I dont know'

The stranger did go through the portal, and promptly proceeded to lay waste to Ralnoth as well. A blizzard quickly covered the entire city and surrounding lands. It took quite some time to melt the walls of ice and thaw all of the townspeople. Resaech, a local guildmaster, became the central contact point and managed most of the cleanup of the city:
Resaech, Guildmaster of Mages says, 'we think we have pieced together the situation here in Ralnoth and Dragontooth'
Resaech, Guildmaster of Mages says, 'it starts with Redferne, who reports seeing a party of explorers leave for the ice plane a few days ago'
Resaech, Guildmaster of Mages says, 'only one of the explorers returned, and he was not the same. Immediately, the storm over Gad's Mountain began to form'
Resaech, Guildmaster of Mages says, 'a few hours later, the explorer apparently entered Dragontooth from the north, wielding unheard of icy spells'
Resaech, Guildmaster of Mages says, 'only one person reports seeing him, a young monk posted near the portal to Ralnoth'
Resaech, Guildmaster of Mages says, 'the explorer then came to Ralnoth through the portal, laying waste to everything in sight'
Resaech, Guildmaster of Mages says, 'the guards who remember him say that frost drifted off of him constantly, and that he seemed somehow bigger than possible'
Resaech, Guildmaster of Mages says, 'the guards also report that elementals seemed to form out of nothingness near him'
Resaech, Guildmaster of Mages says, 'based on the trail of destruction, we believe he headed south'
Resaech, Guildmaster of Mages says, 'we will attempt to secure our borders, but everyone should look and listen for more information on his whereabouts'
Resaech, Guildmaster of Mages says, 'with luck, whatever is possessing him will cease to be a problem of its own accord'
Resaech, Guildmaster of Mages says, 'I will remain posted here for a while to relay this information to everyone. Good luck'

The next place to be hit was the Dwarven marketplace above Moria:
A dwarven guard says, 'we just got news back from the inner tunnels!'
A dwarven guard says, 'the man broke into the Hall of Gammalt and took one of the ancient books!'
A dwarven guard says, 'after that, the trail leads deeper into the tunnels and beyond our guard checkpoints'
A dwarven guard says, 'thank Reorx he's gone!'

The tunnels are extensive, deep, and nearly impossible to track in. The wanderer was lost, and all that could be done is wait for him to resurface. Soon enough, unseasonal snowstorms were reported in the foothills of the Ash mountains, centered on the old haunted graveyard near the dark forest.

Shocked adventurers discovered a vampiress, lounging in the daytime beneath the magically darkened sky and enjoying the snow:
The vampiress says, 'you're probably looking for the demon of frost wearing a man's face'
The vampiress says, 'he was a very, very powerful demon, perhaps more elemental than demon'
The vampiress says, 'his presence is far too much for the shell he inhabits, even under his best control he is constantly summoning elementals to remain within it'
The vampiress says, 'he will have to shed it soon'
The vampiress says, 'my kind, being immune to cold, are probably one of the few races that could even speak to him without succumbing to the ice'
The vampiress says, 'he found me by invoking our ancestral pact, but I doubt the cost was much for one such as him'
The vampiress says, 'he wanted to know the layout of the land, and I gave him several of my newer maps. He seemed most interested in the Ash Mountain range'
The vampiress says, 'honoring the pact, of course I told him what he wanted to know, but I don't like him ... infringing, on our territory'
The vampiress says, 'your best option, in order to save yourselves, is to encourage him to move on to lands much, much farther away, and let those unfortunates deal with him'
The vampiress says, 'he is too powerful, and if he establishes himself here, I will soon have little left to feed on'
The vampiress says, 'speaking of feeding...'
The vampiress walks seductively up to you.
The vampiress whispers to you, 'come back soon, my sweet'

With the enemy untrackable and lost in the frozen peaks, the players returned to Ralnoth to help rebuild. Some time later, winter storm clouds rolled in from the east, and soon after, the town was once again covered with unseasonal snow.

The storm did not stop, and it was soon discovered that lands in every direction, from the Undead City to Zin and beyond, were all suffering beneath the unusual blizard.

Saturday, Jan 19, 2013 - Event Part 2 - Ward Breaker

Ward Breaker, Part 1

The Saturday storyline started with players trying to determine the source of the unrelenting storm:
Resaech says, 'As you might have noticed, we've been getting a lot of snow recently. From the reports we've received, the storm extends as far south as the city of Zin, and has even landed snow in otherwise desert regions. It is not a natural storm, and is likely related to our recent demonic explorer problem.

The center of the storm seems to lie deep within the Ash Mountain range. We need brave explorers willing to find the source of the storm, and bring back detailed information about it and its source. Please put out a call for explorers, and if you stumble across anything, please report back to me.

Thank you in advance for any assistance you may be able to give.

Adventurers who set out to explore and determine the center of the storm eventually found a great ice plain crawling with what seemed like an army of icy creatures. A great fortress had been erected on the plain, and powerful wards set up around it to protect it.

While unable to enter the fortress, not all was lost - a broken piece of wardstone was found outside of the main wards. While not a part of the main ward network, it remained linked to the protective spells and allowed players to analyze the structure of the protective system:
You cast the spell, and feel the magic flowing out into the ward network... There are four main keystones, and two smaller keystones set out in the open that you don't understand the purpose of. Two more wardstones seem to be nearby, but don't appear to be connected to the network.

Quickly realizing the significance of this information, our heroes returned to Ralnoth to share information, regroup, and plan.
You tell Resaech all you know, including the strange stones placed in geometric patterns around the fortress.

Resaech says, 'Thank you for the information, this clarifies and adds to what we learned using other, less precise methods. I have never even heard of wards of this size and power before, other than as childrens fables. It will take some time to understand what we are up against and how to proceed.

This sounds like an enemy that will not be easily defeated.

Resaech turns, and immediately goes back to work.

Ward Breaker, Part 2

Several hours later, Resaech reconvened a meeting to share new information:
Resaech says, 'With the information we've gathered, we believe that the wards protecting the fortress are old magic - very, very old magic. Most of what we have found are vague historical references to this kind of spell. However, there are reasons to believe that humans were capable of at least interfering with spells of this caliber in the distant past.

Given the difficulty you had even approaching the fortress, it seems that a small, covert mission to sneak through the wards and possibly disable them from the inside may be our best hope. In order to do that, we need to know much, much more about these wards and how to bypass them.

We are already conducting searches for material that might help us with this, but I suspect that we will find nothing in our normal archives. There are doubtless ancient caches of old knowledge scattered about the land which lie unused and dormant, or are simply in the hands of those who would not know of their importance.

Things are dire enough that if you happen to find, or are able to obtain such material, we will not question its source or the means by which you retrieve it. Please let me know if you find anything in your travels.

Even though all normal book searches failed an interesting lead turned up in Elborat, a city outside the influence of the storms:
Landa says, 'We don't have any old books on ward spells - in fact, we have very few truly old books anyway. We usually handle textbooks and other light modern reference texts.

We do get a lot of research groups though, and I remember that one of them had made some sort of discovery about really old wards covering the whole area southwest of the City of Kings. Maybe the cyclops ghosts know something about how it was done, if you like talking to ghosts.

Landra giggles at you, and goes back to work organizing books.

The City of Kings did yield an unlikely treasure:
This tome appears to be centuries old for the cover is tattered and the pages within have all yellowed with age. It is slightly larger than your average sized book, almost as if it was made with a larger person in mind. Flipping through the tome one finds that most of the writing has faded and what is left has been written in a very old and strange script.

One of the few things that you do understand are several sets of geometric diagrams, with a couple of them similar to common ward stone patterns. The complexity of the diagrams is obvious, even in the faded, unreadable state, and it makes you wonder what exactly wards like this would be used for.

The book was returned to Resaech in Ralnoth.
Resaech says, 'This looks promising. Again, it will take some time to determine if this contains the information we seek. I will make an announcement once we learn something of importance.

Thank you again for your help.

Resaech turns and immediately begins talking in a strange language with a summoned messenger demon, who promptly disappears with the book.

Ward Breaker, Part 3

Resaech says, 'We have determined that this text is written in an extremely old form of script used for archiving and preserving information, from which modern dragon script was derived. We have also acquired a rather unusual ally.

We were contacted by an ancient golden dragon, the one who hunts near the Nemean Fields. He has offered to translate and interperet the book, subject to certain conditions. Please take it to him.

The ancient golden dragon was in his lair, as expected, though he was less accomodating than our adventurers would have preferred:
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'welcome, mortal'
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'what is it that has become so important to you that you that felt the need to defeat my guardian?'
Lilmike says, 'a demon in human form'
Lilmike gives a tattered yellow-paged tome to The Ancient Golden Dragon.

The Ancient Golden Dragon nods at Lilmike.
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'so you want to want to learn the spells in these books? let me see'
The book floats silently up before the dragon's face, and begins to open of its own accord.
The ancient golden dragon growls deeply as the page flip, and the whole cavern rumbles with it.
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'you can't learn this, and I'll be keeping this'
The book snaps shut and floats down to its proper place in the dragon's hoard.
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'this was only meant for the titans of old, and I would never teach you this anyway. Too much risk for my kind'
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'but perhaps I can offer you a substitute'

The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'there is a class of spell which will probably work, if you can get to the wardstones'
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'of course, in this case, the ward stones would be heavily protected, inside the ward'
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'however, the wards you describe are a brute force ward, allowing nothing either in or out'
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'in order for creatures to enter or leave, either the ward must be lowered, or a hole must be opened in it'
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'bringing down wards of that size takes too long and is hugely wasteful, so there is likely a mechanism to temporarily open a hole in it'
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'that is done with secondary wardstones which can be quickly activated and deactivated'
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'again by your description, it is likely that the two posts you saw just inside the main ward serve that purpose'
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'rather than try to do what these books propose, for you, it would be much simpler to just get to the runestones and overload them'
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'each of you has but a small fraction of the power needed, but a large number of you together may be able to do it'

The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'however, as much as I may enjoy tormenting lesser minds with powerful magic, I too must obey certain restrictions'
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'these spells are ancient magic and I may have to ... explain myself, should I teach them'
The ancient golden dragon growls again, shaking the floor beneath your feet.
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'I need a reason, a better reason than a threat to your piddling civilization'
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'let me think for a moment'
The ancient golden dragon looks you over with eyes that seem to bore through you.
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'perhaps this is less of a problem than I thought. I dimly recall that some of these spells were actually known to your kind long ago'
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'if you can find and bring me some evidence of this, evidence of ancient use of spells of this caliber, I will teach you'
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'perhaps you can find some suitably ancient texts. Naturally, I would need to add them to my collection'
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'be gone now, you bore me'

Returning to Ralnoth with news of this latest setback, players were greeted with unexpected good news from Resaech:
Resaech says, 'We've recently received a message from the dwarf regent in moria regarding possible books which may be helpful. Please go visit him and determine if what he has will be of any value.'

Their good luck holding out, the Dwarven Kingdom had accidentally stumbled upon the right book at the right time:
The dwarven regent says, 'While checking to see what was stolen from Gammalt's tomb, I noticed this peculiar history book in the same section of the shelves where the protective spells were broken. I am not certain, but I believe this documents Gammalt's attempt to break a ward spell on a secret drow military base. This was classified information at the time, but given how long Gammalt has been gone, it hardly seems worth keeping hidden. Perhaps it can help in our current plight.'

The dwarven regent gives you an extremely old, well preserved dwarven tome.

The players took the book to the dragon, hoping for the best.
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'so you feel this book is sufficient? we shall see'
The ancient dwarven text floats silently up before the dragon's face, but does not open.
The ancient golden dragon growls, and the cavern rumbles.
The ancient golden dragon says to the ancient book, 'we will discuss the terms of my surrender later. For now you will open or I will rip out your spine'
The ancient golden dragon squints for a moment and the book snaps open. The pages begin to stiffly turn.
The ancient golden dragon snorts in obvious amusement.
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'when you return, send Gammalt my thanks at such an entertaining read, if he is still alive'
The book snaps shut and floats to an empty shelf in the hoard.
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'I will teach you, but need time to prepare and enjoy my new find'
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'return tomorrow, at the time you humans so quaintly call "12:00 pm PST (server time)"'
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'bring your study aids, patience, and practices. Many, many practices'
The Ancient Golden Dragon says, 'go, now'

Thanks to the work of so many players and informants, an ancient ward breaking spell was once again available to mortals, after a long sleep in the hands of dead titans.

Sunday, Jan 20, 2013 - Event Part 3 - Demon Slayer

The Sunday event followed brave groups in their assault upon the ice fortress of the frost demon, leading to its eventual defeat and banishment from our realm.

The first obstacle faced by our heroes was the army outside of the wards. Stealth proved impossible, and only by fighting a massive battle at the front gates did they gain entrance. A group of enemy reinforcements were sent out through the opening in the main wards, and before the wards could be sealed again the battle had moved inside. With the greater army on the ice field cut off from assisting the defenders of the fortress, the wardstones were quickly destroyed:
The spell sinks deep into the wardstone, and after a few seconds, you can tell that there is something horribly wrong with the stone. It shudders, and finally cracks with a loud thump that disturbs the snow and throws you to the ground! With the final wardstone broken, the wards protecting the fortress collapse and are gone.

The outer threats neutralized and wards destroyed, a second set of wardstones was found binding the main gate. These wardstones were linked, and proved substantially more difficult to break than the others:
The spell sinks into wardstone...
The stone shudders, but does not crack.
You feel tremendous flow of magic in the air as the wardstone splits the power of the spell with it's distant pair!

Ward breaking both stones simultaneously proved sufficient:
The spell sinks into wardstone...
The stone cracks violently down the middle as the ward goes out!

Inside the main gate, a dragon had been summoned to deal with the intruders:
Khir Ablishak, the Great Frost Dragon says, 'oh, puny mortals, you shall rest well in the belly of Khir Ablishak the Great White Frost Dragon, bringer of your demise'

The battle at the gate was fierce and long, with only those trained in dragonslaying proving to be a real threat to the beast. While victorious, our heroes were less responsible than a mistake on the part of the dragon:
With a final screech that tears your ears, Khir lunges at you. The ground cracks and breaks beneath its claws, and it slips backwards into the pit. Like a whip, the head lashes back and strikes the wall of the central fortress, and the body suddenly goes slack. Seemingly in slow motion, the body slides then falls downward into the pit, vanishing from sight. Several seconds later, you hear a tremendous boom as the great dragon hits bottom, followed by a freezing gust of disturbed air from the bottom of the pit.

You don't know if the ghastly creature is dead, but it's probably out of the fight even if it had the constitution to survive.

The interior of the fortress contained a central pillar surrounded by a huge, uncrossable pit. After some brainstorming, a brave thief offered to attempt shadow walking to the pillar, hopefully emerging in a safe area, with intent to summon the group across the chasm.

Soon after successfully reassembling the group, they were discovered!
The floor rumbles beneath you as a disembodied voice speaks:

So, mortal creatures, you have seen fit to infringe upon my territory?
I did not instruct Khir to set up those wards with intent to allow
The likes of you to raid my keep in my slumber.

The ball of ice makes a cracking sound as though bones popping.

Well then, I suppose I have rested long enough.

Giant wings unfurl from the ball as it shifts and transforms into a gigantic winged creature.

While far more magical than Khir, the demon also proved to be weakened and far more vulnerable to magic than the dragon. In the end, our heroes were victorious:
Enraged at the damage its body has taken, it flexes its shattered wings and leaps above you into the sky, temporarily escaping you for just long enough to shed its body and return to the demon plane.

The icy corpse quickly returns to ground as thousands of pounds of crystalline ice chunks and shards, making a scattered heap from which a slowly rising fog give the only indication of its previous inhabitant.

The demon has been banished. The realm is once again safe.

For the moment.

A special shout out goes to the builders Morpheus and Inessa, without whom there would have been no fortress to assault on the last day. They both spent a lot of time behind the scenes making sure things were ready.

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