Why You Should Be Playing Rift: 06 – Atmosphere

Over the last few weeks I have been doing a series of posts highlighting some of those cool features of the game that make it so worth playing.  To date they have all been tangible features, that you can interact with.  Today we are going to delve a bit into the esoteric, and as such this post will probably have a gratuitous usage of screenshots.  Originally I had set aside fifteen shots for this, but I will be trying to pair down a bit.  Some of the images are used with permission from jensketch.com (because I don’t play Guardian side).


Episode 06:  The Atmosphere


In past articles I have covered a good number of features that show you why, rift is a game that is extremely polished and well thought out.  Problem is, these features alone do not add up to what makes a game enjoyable.  The reason why you get drawn into a game for any length of time is the environment.  You ask yourself if the world you are being drawn into believable and is the central conflict and its characters compelling.

Basically what makes or breaks a game is it’s atmosphere, and the world of Telara has it to spare.  Whether you start Defiant or Guardian you are drawn into a world at war, and into the heat of the battle.  You are dipped in conflict from the moment you set foot out the door, and ushered into a world torn asunder by factional warfare and a battle with elemental planes themselves.

There have been many games that have presented you a bleak, body strewn landscape.  Warhammer is a perfect example of this as it draws the player into a world of constant attacks between the forces of order and chaos.  Problem is, you see this world, so decimated that you have no clue why anyone would be willing to spill blood over it.  With Rift the player is given an apocalyptic vision of a possible future, only to be whisked away into the past where we the player can see exactly what there is worth saving.

A World of Beauty


The world of rift is a truly beautiful place.  Even at low resolution, you can see that there has been some amazing work done on trying to bring about unique looking settings.  At high and ultra settings, the world is just breath taking.  As I have played various MMO titles, there have been many “ooooo” moments.  The very first of these that I can remember is coming out of the mist, in Butcherblock Mountains and seeing the Statue atop Kaladim in Everquest.


With each new game, there have been more of these.  I sit back, take a screenshot and move on.  My rift’s screenshot folder has grown exponentially as I have leveled because each and every zone in Telara has two or three of these breathtaking moments.  Above is a picture I took, when I first entered Stonefield from Freemarch.  The sky had darkened, and it had just began to rain, but you could still see the strong shadows on the rocky faces.  I stopped leveling, stopped paying attention to questing, and just sat there for a moment enjoying the view.


I tend to power quest my way through zones, and in other games have been able to ignore much of the scenery in my push for the goal.  In rift however, I just cannot help but stop and smell the roses from time to time. Part of what has made this world so compelling is the fact that each zone is unique.  In games like wow, you have prefab objects that get reused over and over.  In rift, the architecture, the trees, the caves, and the landscape feel custom fit just for each area.  Each board on the bridge in the above image, feels as though it were placed by hand, and is unique looking from the other bridges in Crimson Gorge (of which there are many).

A World of Danger

wysbpr_06_gloamwood One of the things that had been missing from MMO games for so long, that I did not even realize I was missing, was a sense of fear.  In games like Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot I used to tread into unexplored areas with a sense of dread.  In the case of those games, I thought at the time, it was due to the stiff death penalties imposed on its players.  So when the modern crop of MMOs heralded by World of Warcraft arrived, with easy death penalties, I was happy at the time.


What I am coming to realize now, is that those early games had a certain zone design ethic that lead to uneasiness in its players.  You know that you had to be extremely careful as you hunted mobs, both in the dungeons and the outside world because one too many would mean a certain death.  Rift has carried over this same old school ethic into it’s content.  As you move through the outside world, you have to have the same care as you would pulling a dungeon.


On top of this, the dungeons themselves have a creepy natural feel to them.  You can almost feel the dust being disturbed under your feet as your party explores them.  The above image is from the end of Iron Tomb, the entry level Defiant dungeon in Freemarch.  Notice how each of the surfaces exudes texture, as they are filled with careful carvings and decorations placed there once upon a time to honor the dead.  Having run numerous other dungeons, I have yet to see any of the assets in Iron Tomb show up elsewhere.  Each zone feels like it was crafted just for its purpose.

A World of Substance


One of the arguments I have seen on the WoW Fan sites, is that because Rift has shied away from the slapstick humor and blatant pop culture parody, that it lacks a “soul”.  I think the exact opposite is true, like the titles that influenced Blizzard, Trion takes it’s game world very seriously and to me it exudes soul.  So many times in an MMO you do things that seem to have no purpose.  If you are asked to go to a town and rescue the villagers, it is often times from generic cartoon thugs.


From the very start of the game you are immersed in a diverse tree of factions, each with their own methods, goals and objectives.  To the best of my knowledge, Rift has no nameless faceless meaningless cartoon thugs. The world is besieged by the Dragon Cults, who collectively seek to spread the influence of the dragons they champion.  In other games, where the dragons represent elemental aspects, they are often times benevolent forces that shape mankind.  In the world of Telara, the Dragons are cruel selfish creatures that want to seize control of the world for their own means.


In Freemarch you are introduced into this conflict first with the Endless Court.  This group of cultists worship Regulos the Destroyer, the dragon of death.  The Endless Court harness the power of death to bear against you a multitude of undead abominations.  As you move through the zone you begin to encounter the Abyssals, a cult waging warfare on Freemarch from the depths of the Lake of Solace.  This group is devoted to the water dragon Akylios, and with it brings an unspeakable legion of deepspawn and water elementals.


On the Guardian side, in Silverwood you have two central conflicts, that of the Aelfwar and the Wanton.  House Aelfwar are a xenophobic group splinter cell of High Elves devoted to Greenscale, the Dragon of life.  Lead by Prince Hylas, they seek to destroy civilization and remake the world in a primordial jungle.  Diametrically opposed to the Aelfwar, are The Wanton.  These monstrous humanoids, namely goblins and dragonians, worship Maelforge, the dragon of fire and revel in senseless violence and brutality.  The Wanton will not be satisfied until every person has been slain, every forest burned, and every village ransacked all in a carnal sacrifice to their dragon god.


So each time I read one of the complaints that this game lacks soul, I keep asking myself.  Are these players playing the same game I have been?  I came to Rift with a pretty open mind, because quite honestly I wasn’t expecting much from it.  I sat on a beta key for six months, and finally the discussions started to make me curious enough to download the 8 gig client on my crappy DSL connection.  Going into it, expecting nothing, I was shocked and amazed by the vibrant and polished world I found.


Thing is a few months down the road, and a month into the live release I am still amazed by the world of Telara.  Trion has shown a level of attentiveness to its players that I have not seen ever during my tenure of playing MMOs.  Since release we have seen 10 hot fixes, 2 patches, with the first major content patch set to roll out this Wednesday.  This level of dedication, to the game and to the world they have created truly is, why you should be playing rift.

Belghast Is A Noob

Greetings loyal (and sometimes imaginary) readers.  I am still in process of writing another “Why You Should Be Playing Rift” feature.  Hopefully will have it in a more polished state tomorrow or Wednesday.  In the meantime I figured I would do another more personal blog entry.  Ultimately, the series will come to an end and this is all you will be left with, so hopefully those who came for it will stay for the other posts as well.

Expert Dungeoneers Incorporated

agg_BelMechanoHorse As I highlighted in a post last week, the upcoming changes that should be rolling out this Wednesday are going to change the prices for the Plaque of Achievement gear vendors.  I’ve heard rumors as to what this will actually mean, but regardless of the specifics change is coming.  As a result the core group of level 50 players in my guild, that have been running experts on a semi-regular basis, decided it was best to get as much gear as we could beforehand.  The better gear, the easier a time we will have gearing up the other members as they reach 50.

Starting Friday we began running 3-4 experts a night, and by day two we had the dungeons to a science.  For most of the runs we saw no wipes, and in the runs we had to draw deeper into the well of pug players, they were kept to a minimum.  Personally I managed to upgrade almost every slot on my character, including 3 t1 epic pieces, an epic weapon, epic trinket, epic ring, and some epic pants that in my recollection are better than then plaque ones anyway.

While Iron Tombs for example is starting to get a bit well trodden, the experience of running with friends in truly challenging dungeons stays relatively untarnished.  While we made a pretty massive push this weekend, it still does not feel near as “grindy” as the heroics in wow had become.  So I hope as they add additional dungeons to Rift, they figure out ways to keep them feeling fresh.  Honestly, to me, the experts feel far more like a 5 man raid instance, than a dungeon that can be rushed through in the way we did heroics.

I Said It, I’m A Noob

agg_belghastInT1 I need to preface this next part a little bit.  I am a very tank centric player.  All of my character that can tank, end up tanking eventually.  As a result, when I started playing this game, I created a tank spec and pretty much stuck with it as I leveled from 1 to 50.  I purchased my second spec, but I never really did anything with it apart from adding talent points to it every now and then.  That said, over the course of all these expert dungeons I had managed to amass a full set of t1 quality blue warrior dps gear.

So we move forward to Sunday night, Kings Breach, I get the wild idea that I want to dps it.  This is awesome, in that it lets our rogue tank the instance, which he also enjoys.  For weeks I had been complaining that I just didn’t have the survival in my dps spec that I had expected.  I would switch to it every now and then, but end up swapping right back to my paladin centric role after a mob or two.  No one would really understand what I was talking about, and I had gotten the impression that maybe paladins were just that phenomenally broken.

We start out the instance, and the rogue pulls.  I charge in and send the pet as well… and moments later a pack of mobs nowhere near us adds onto us.  We blamed the spec being new to me, and poor pet management.  We get to the second pack, and my pet is consistently dying a few moments into the fight each time.  While trying to figure out why, I look down and notice my pet is level 23.  It is at this point the rogue asks, in a sarcastic tone… “you did train up your dps spec, right?”

I honestly thought I had.  All this time, I couldn’t figure out why I had no problem with money, and all my other guild members were struggling to make ends meet.  I couldn’t figure out why I had 10 plat to spare when I bought my level 35 mount and 10 to spare again when I bought my level 50 mount.  Turns out…  I didn’t realize I needed to swap into my second spec to train it up. 

At some point in my 20s I had caught it up, but at level 50 I had a ridiculous number of abilities to purchase.  I ported back to town, and proceeded to spend 23 platinum on training costs catching up my dps role to level 50.  So yes, like I said, I am a complete noob.  However the rest of the run went silky smooth and I was puling out just silly numbers.  Seeing 2500 hp finishers, or the screen light up with thousands each time I cleaved was a bit addicting.  All that said, I can also see why the champion/beastmaster spec is getting nerfed, because it is a little unfair to be that powerful in my level of gear.

Face Meet Palm, Palm, Face

Friday evening after a discussion with a friend, I wrote the somewhat depression blog post “Is WoW the WoW-Killer?”.  In it I outline my views about how a series of decisions by Blizzard have lead to the slow dismantling of the server community.  It was initially received well by my friends, who I think make up the majority of my regular readers.  A few of thing thought it was spot on, and others disagreed with various points.  The line being more or less divided by the players who are happy in wow, and the players who are in various forms of quitting.

While playing Rift or WoW, we have taken to hanging out on mumble.  It lets the two factions of the same community stay in contact even though we are no longer playing the same game.  It is common place for various WoW Stalwarts to pop down and chat for a bit before returning to the various grouping channels above our “Rift” channel.  One of my longtime friends, a druid healer for our guild and raid, did the same thing to talk about my blog post.  After a bit of chitchat he asked if I minded him sharing the link.  I assumed he was going to post it to a friend.

I was shocked to find out, that the “Friend” was the entire wow community.  I started seeing these weird redirectors in the blog dashboard from battle.net.  After some tracing, I found out that he had in fact posted the link on the wow general forums.  I greatly appreciate his support, and his believing in me, but I have to say it was a bit shocking.  I was tanking an instance at the time, so it could just be that I didn’t fully “grok” the meaning of what he was saying on mumble.

The general forums, have in the past at least, been a wretched hive of scum and villainy.  I figured that I would start getting flamed left and right since the post was in no way supportive of the game so many of these players loved.  I have to say however, I was extremely shocked to find that the vast majority either supported my statements, or disagreed in a civil manner.  I have to admit, I did a bit of a “facepalm” when I had heard this had happened, but at the end of the day it seems like a good number of players are just as disappointed and troubled as I was.

I reiterated Friday, that I am done with World of Warcraft.  I still very much feel this way, and that I would rather catch up on my single player games than ever go back to it.  However I am hoping that maybe my post, and others like it will serve to give Blizzard a reminder that the players do matter.  That gaming is not just handing out content in an automat style, but also honoring the game environment that the players themselves create.  It is the mechanics that make a game worth playing, but it is the player base that make it worth staying.

Is WoW the WoW-Killer?

I’ve been teetering back and forth on whether or not I should write this post for awhile now.  I honestly thought I had posted my last “WoW” weeks ago.  Over the last few weeks playing another game has helped to lift the rose colored lenses I had so long for the World of Warcraft.  In the past I would go off, play another game for awhile, and it would remind me of all the things I missed.  This time however, all it has done is made me realize all the things I hated.

Death Of PVP Rivalry

Blizzard has made plenty of bad calls over the years, but it seems that recently the frequency of them keeps happening more and more often.  Of all the poor choices, the one that still sticks in my craw the most is what seems like the systematic dismantling of the server community.  In every MMO I have played, the server you play on is as much apart of the experience as the game itself.  Those that have had thriving vibrant player communities have lead to a much more enjoyable experience across the board.

The first of this decisions that has chipped away at the player community, is the cross-server battleground.  From the perspective not playing has given me, it is easy to see that this was the “beginning of the end” per se.  In the days before battlegroups, the server I played on had a fairly thriving pvp community.  The forums were filled with constant reminders of this rivalry and a begrudging respect for the players on the other side and how badly they could decimate you.

This spilled over into a nightly war that was waged starting at Southshore and ending at Hammerfall.  Almost the entirety of Hillsbrad and Arathi Highlands was taken up in a series of skirmishes to hold imaginary territory.  With the release of the Battlegrounds, this conflict was supported by seeing the guild or player you dreaded on the other side of the field.  The population imbalances however made life frustrating to players on the larger side of the divide, giving as long as 2 1/2 hour long Alterac Valley queues.

Instead of choosing to bolster the underdog by giving the player base a reason to re-roll there, like Dark Age of Camelot did.  They chose to institute cross-realm battlegroups, which instead pitted you against a series of players from other servers as well as your own.  Quickly those old rivalries began to fade, and with it a lot of the community that centered around PVP.  No longer did you know you were fighting players from your server, that you might see out in the world, instead you were just rallied against nameless faceless numbers.

Death of Communication

Prior to the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, my server had a very vibrant pug community.  If you ran heroics on a regular basis, you quickly began filling your friends list with suitable fillings.  You learned which guilds harbored good players, and which had lousy reputations.  Through this constant interaction with other players, the server community was thriving.  The leaders of each of the guilds, for the most part knew and communicated with the leaders of the other guilds on a weekly basis, each of us knowing that if a problem arose we would deal with our membership to rectify it.

The looking for group tool was never used that much, and instead groups relied on trade chat and social channels that each of the larger guilds had to fill groups.  It was a system that supported communication between players, and taught them the basics of building good groups.  All of this changed when the 3.3 patch was released in August of 2009.  The “idiot button” as I have taken to calling it, allowed players to click a button, choose a role, and get pulled into a dungeon with a cross-realm group when one was available.

At face value this sounded like a really cool change, it would allow players to fill groups without having to bother their guild members to run lower level content.  What it did almost immediately is destroy all communication and civility in dungeons.  Previously when you had to build groups from scratch, you knew that the players you were grouping with, were players that you were likely to see again on your server.  If you behaved bad enough, then more than likely your exploits would make their way to the realm forums.  On a day one server like I played on, with a long memory, getting a bad reputation meant you ended up blacklisted from pretty much all content.

Gabriel’s Theory

Since these players however you were now grouping with, were from other servers, and it was unlikely that you would ever see them again, what did it matter if you were a complete and total ass to them.  Within weeks the G.I.F.T. was in full effect, as players rolled need on everything they could, chewed other players out for minor mistakes, and generally threw all tact out the window. 

What was almost worse however, were the silent groups.  In the vast majority of these runs I go into, especially with well geared players, no one said a single thing.  We just charged forward like some out of control locomotive towards the goal line to get your “badges” for the day.  No one was willing to help anyone out that needed a quest in the zone, it was all about speed and skipping as much content as you could to get in and out with minimal interaction.

While this decimated the pug culture on my server, and eroded at the community we had built up, it did worse things to guilds.  No longer did you need anyone from your guild to do anything but raid, and as a result the vast majority of players simply ran things in this solo mode to save time.  You would have a guild full of players, none of them actually doing anything together but all running heroics.

The major unintended consequence, of this however is what pugging used to be the way you got to know potential players for your raid.  With the death of pug-culture, so died the ability for raid leaders to recruit from a pool of known good players.  So many of the players that we raided with, and ultimately later on ended up in our guild started out as players we one of us had met while pugging.

Death of the Forums

On my server particularly, we had such a strong community in the early days, that even after all of this assault we still managed to remain in contact through the server forums.  We were highly protective of our server, and Argent Dawn became adept at repelling trolls, by trolling them in return until they finally surrendered and left.  You have to understand that our server has been attacked from all sides since day one.  The first roleplaying server in the list, earns you the job of being a magnet of every griefer and whack-job with a cause.  So in return, those of us forum regulars became bandits with white hats, defending our server from invasion.

However beginning in mid 2010 the server admins began supplying crooked justice with an itchy ban hammer.  One by one, valued community members, that had supported the server since day one were given temp and permanent bans from the server forums.  If you mentioned someone that had gotten banned, you earned yourself a ban as well.  So as a result, we began referring to banning by the code word “Cream Cheese”.  This continued for months, and over time the population of the forum dwindled.

With the realid debacle, another group left the forums as well.  Some of us took up refuge, and tried to salvage what we could of the community on another forum, but in the end the real wages of war were already spent.  The general civility of the community, and willingness of player groups to work together was just gone.  We had been holding onto the skeleton, holding onto our pride, and the exodus off the forums just allowed us to salvage a bit of our dignity. 

Blizzard had fairly thoroughly broken our server community.  There were little shoals of players, scattered here and there through social channels, and trade chat still lent it’s way to the occasional successful pick up raid.  But for the most part, the general sense that we were all pulling towards some goal was gone for good.  All the elders of the community, the day one folks, found themselves backing away and becoming less active, only to be replace by the loud brash trolls that took our place.

Last, Best Hope… Dashed

With the Cataclysm expansion, death watch for the server community began.  The change to unified raid lockouts had many consequences on our environment.  In the past, we had been able to go to 25 mans with our raid, and attend 10 mans with various groups of friends.  At this time, our guild lead a thriving non-guild based raid as well.  With the changes to the guild system, and the introduction of guild only achievements, it pretty much signaled the end of that era for us.

For the most part, one by one, the smaller satellite guilds that made up our raid merged into House Stalwart.  With it introduced a slew of new personalities, and issues.  More than anything however it caused us to draw inwards.  While it revived the guild groups, it completely destroyed the concept of grouping with the community at large.  Everyone was pushing to get that guild experience, guild levels, and more importantly guild achievements.  I freely admit, I had a lot of hope that this would be the era that changed things and re-established the community of guilds.

What happened however is the last of the server community has all but dried up.  There is little communication between guild leaders anymore, let alone players from other guilds that they do not already have on realid.  The focus on the importance of the guild, has caused a great internalization, shrinking the size of the server to the constraints of the members of your group.  Our server forums are all but dead, and the faces that are there included none of the players that had been there for literally years.

The Final Nail – The Point

I am sure by now, if you made it this far you are wondering when I will get to a relevant point.  Well here it comes. This week a few things were announced that caught my attention, even though I have not been terribly active on the wow websites anymore.  The biggest of these is the announcement of a guild transfer and rename systems.  This will be the final destruction of what is left of what it is to be on a server.  No longer will guilds need to worry about their reputation, or attempt to help the general server community.  If you get a bad reputation, change your name.  If you end up on a low population server, uproot your guild and make the situation worse.

On top of this being bad for the servers, this is a flat out money grab on the part of Blizzard.  Think of in these terms.  You are in a guild that you love, and have worked to help level it to 20.  Your guild leader decides it is best for the group to move to another server.  Now you have to make the decision, do I leave the guild and lose all the work I have put towards getting exalted and getting all these cool perks, or do I have to pay $25 per character to follow.  If larger guild decides to move, blizzard gains several thousand dollars for performing what I am sure is a scripted process.  I’m a developer, you don’t offer something like this if you don’t have an automated tool. The price of these services has long been nothing more than a convenience tax.

Also this past week, it was announced that a brand new mount would be sold on the Blizzard Store.  So you mean to tell me, that all they can release is recycled dungeons…  but they have plenty of time to code up a new money generating mount?  I don’t begrudge them selling items, because that is pretty much something we will have to deal with, but what I do begrudge them is the fact that since the merger with activation it has been one money grab or another.

Time for a Change?

At this point I am just sick of the game, and sick of the company behind it.  I had been a loyal supporter of Blizzard and WoW for years, but what I keep seeing I don’t like, and haven’t liked for a long time.  Being removed from the game just let me realize how badly I disliked it.  I have given over the guild I spent six and half years, and little bits of my soul building to a friend and fellow officer.  As well as that major step, I’ve given away all my money and anything of value on my characters.  I have reached the point where I will never play WoW again.  I would quite honestly rather play nothing, just hang out, read books, than play World of Warcraft again.

I hear a lot of rumblings of the same from friends that they are just tired of the game.  After 6 years of playing, it is feeling really old, and with the lack of positive direction from blizzard it seems hopeless.  Larisa of the Pink Pigtail Inn, who has often been a cheerleader of the blizzard cause (or at least more positive than me), is starting to show doubt that the community might be off the rails.  I think things are changing for Blizzard, and hopefully for the sake of those who are left… they will realize that we are not just numbers.  We are not this inexhaustible supply of willing fan boys, that will gobble up everything they offer.

There has been a lot of talk about Rift, and its impact on the community.  And while I won’t belay the fact that it is a freaking amazing game… I think what you are seeing is more than that.  Rift won’t be the WoW-Killer, in fact there will NEVER be a WoW-Killer.  When WoW came out, it was touted as the Everquest-Killer.  Everquest has kept chugging with a smaller but equally devoted fanbase, and has released 9 additional expansions since 2004 when WoW came out, the last of the expansions in October of 2010.  Once an MMO reaches the point of sustainability, you simply cannot kill it, it will keep going so long as it has a loyal following.

What I feel will ultimately be the end of the game, for the most of us are the poor decisions Blizzard continues to make.  It has trained a player base, willing to put next to no effort into the actual gameplay itself, and is resigned to setting up a bunch of cups for us to knock down in the form of raid content.  They spent so much effort, redoing the old-world, but have made the content so easy that you can get from 1-85 in 2 days played.  The entire focus of the game has been on the fictional virtues of the end game, with no focus from the player community on the journey itself.  I guess at the end of the day, I miss the journey.

1.1 Alpha Patch Personal Commentary

So as promised, here is my commentary to the patch notes.  Like I said earlier, I can only comment on what I play.  I play a Bahmi 33 Paladin/ 18 Reaver / 15 Warlord tank build.  It is pretty much the tank build I always wanted from other games.  Combination of survival, self healing, and movement, the only big thing it is missing is a bunch of “oh crap” buttons.  However it feels the way I have always wanted my tank characters to feel, so I am extremely happy.  I will more than likely have 3 total tank builds, but this one will always be the showcase.

* Balance of Power: Now deals 25-75% of weapon damage.

Honestly that one little line, that looks so innocuous in the notes, adds up to a massive nerf in paladin survival.  Let me explain why this matters, since it doesn’t seem that big of a deal.  Balance of Power currently in game, deals 120-160% weapon damage to a target anytime you successfully block.  This itself does generate a ton of threat of the Paladin which is nice, and does a good job at holding aggro on casters that have yet to be pulled into the group.

Were a loss of damage the only thing, it would not be that big of a deal.  Balance of Power however feeds the talent above it, Tip the Balance which when maxed gives back the paladin 100% of this damage as healing.  So for 5 talent points, the paladin effectively received 160% weapon damage in healing each time they block.  This currently represents the bulk of our self healing and at least in part feels like a good chunk of our survivability.

Currently in my gear, even though a good chunk of it is sub-tier1 my survival is good enough that while doing non-dungeon content I will be just fine.  However this will probably make leveling a paladin considerably harder, or at least more touch and go in those heavy spawn areas.  I am hoping that this gets dialed back a wee bit before going live, because cutting our self healing in half seems a bit extreme.

* Soul Sickness, Flesh Rot, Necrotic Wounds, Blood Fever: The damage on additional targets when using Plague Bringer has been lowered. The Threat generation has been increased to keep overall threat gain of the abilities the same.
* Grisly Works: Moves up two tiers, now unlocked at 26 points. Now increases the healing of Soul Feast by 30-90% for 15 seconds after killing a target the Reaver has engaged.

Adding insult to injury, my survival will be going down even more since my two means of getting healing from the Reaver tree are both getting nerfed as well.  Soul Sickness has always felt like the only time I made a significant difference in my survival was when Plague Bringer was active.  With the damage to additional targets being lowered it also means the healing you receive from the talents that use it, will even be less than it was.

The big nerf here however is to Grisly Works.  The entire reason why I went 18 deep into reaver tree was to get 3 points here.  How it works currently, is that anytime a mob that you have damaged dies you receive 9% of your health in healing.  I cannot count the number of times while leveling this saved my bacon, and when doing large packs of mobs it really helps increase your survival.  However with the change, it feels like Grisly works is completely useless. 

Currently I pop Soul Feast almost anytime it is available to try and keep a ticking hot on me at all times, but with this change it feels like you would need to save Soul Feast until a mob dies to gain the maximum benefit, leaving you without any added healing the majority of the fight.  Like with the paladin changes, for day to day non-dungeon interactions this probably wont effect me personally much, but it feels like this is another general purpose nerf to survival for another of the 4 warrior tanking trees.

* Pure-Endurance ‘Of the Fortress’ items will no longer drop above level 13.
* Going forward, randomly generated two-handed weapons will come with DPS stats rather than tanking stats.

Those are without a doubt my two favorite patch notes.  Even as a tank… Of The Fortress gear is horrible.  Every single cairn and puzzle I have looted, has produced… you guessed it…  Of The Fortress gear.  I kinda regret going ahead and doing the level 50 puzzles, but can’t take things back.  I just know that I will be waiting until Wednesday before I do anymore on my alts.

* Rift events no longer track player contribution against other players. You are checked for participation in the event and given rewards appropriately. It’s still important to participate in as many stages of a Rift or event as possible to receive the best rewards.

I really hope this will also address the way that epic shards are handed out as well.  Currently, as my friend has figured out, the only way to receive an epic shard reliably is to participate in a major invasion, aka the ones that have objectives that are different from closing rifts and defeating invasions.  Problem is that those of us who are level 50 have likely not seen a major invasion since leaving Stonefield/Gloamwood. 

This means for 25 levels at least we have not had access to some of the better items available in our level ranges.  This same issue will start effecting Freemarch and Silverwood sooner or later as the crop of players rolling alts slows down.  So while the contribution system was greatly skewed towards a scant few classes, I do hope they address the way the harder to get shards are awarded.

Big Take Away

* Increased the amount of Plaques of Achievement needed to purchase first and second-tier Expert Dungeon items.

No idea what the increase will be, but this means at the least it will be harder to get those items you have been wanting.  I know personally I just started running experts so I only have about 20 plauqes, but with these changes impending it means two things.  Firstly run as many experts as you possibly can to get those last few pieces of gear, and secondly make sure you buy the items you want as soon as possible.  I know in my guild we have already talked about a weekend of back to back expert dungeon runs to try and gear out as many folks as possible before the change goes in place.

Rift 1.1 Alpha Patch Notes

Previously I did a bit of commentary on the patch notes, this time I am breaking them into two separate posts since patch 1.1 is so phenomenally large.  All indications are leading us to believe that this patch will be released on or near Wednesday March 30th.  They include some pretty massive changes, and a good number of tweaks and prods here and there.  I will comment on the ones that matter specifically to me in a follow-up post, but for now…  here is the reason why I personally believe the release of this patch will be very shortly.

Forum Message With Timeframe

30-Day Update Heralds Massive Invasions, Unique Loot, and New Epic Raid Zone
Trion Worlds today announced the first worldwide, fully dynamic conflict event for the immensely successful MMORPG, RIFT™. The battle for Telara intensifies as world-changing invasions from the Plane of Death engulf the planet, giving Ascended heroes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a key moment in the game’s history. Beginning March 30th, players will witness the true power of Regulos the Destroyer, and the world of RIFT will never be the same.
This robust update comes less than a month after the game’s March 1st launch, making it one of the most aggressive post-launch content releases ever for a new MMORPG.

Unprecedented Invasions & Exclusive Rewards
Starting next Wednesday, Alsbeth the Discordant will lead massive invasions across every zone in Telara, raising legions of liches, ettins, and gravemakers to battle Ascended. Over the course of about a week, participating players of any level fighting these invaders can earn hundreds of new items including exclusive rewards, such as a Spectral Horse and a transmogrifying disguise that turns Ascended into the rotting undead. But be warned: once the rifts are sealed, these items are gone forever.

Raid Zone: River of Souls
If Ascended are successful in their efforts to drive back the invasions, they can journey to the “River of Souls” 20-man raid zone at the edge of the Plane of Death where Alsbeth the Discordant is reanimating the recently departed and recruiting them into Regulos’ army. Guardian and Defiant heroes will have to wade through these decaying hordes to reach Alsbeth and make her account for her abhorrent crimes.
The Founder’s Pricing plan for RIFT has been extended until March 31st. Details for all plans are available at

For the original thread and commentary from the peanut gallery look here.

Full Patch Notes – Discombobulated from the forums

Forum Thread Link

Alpha 1.1 3/23/11
* The Endless Court Event? Yeah, they’re all up in your Telara, killing your mans. Not cool.
* You can now report AFK teammates in a Warfront. Check out PVP/WARFONTS for more.
* The ‘I’m Stuck’ button or falling through the world in a Warfront no longer results in a Deserter debuff!
* Rift events no longer track player contribution against other players. See below under RIFTS AND INVASIONS for more details.
* Many quest fixes below under individual ZONES.

* All artifact nodes now have a consistent 1.5 second gathering time.
* You can now accept a quest on behalf of your guild even if your personal quest log is full.
* Angelic Flight and Mighty Leap will not interrupt movement when used (auto-run or holding down a movement key).
* Server Announcements now stay on-screen for twice as long.
* Exposed now reduces movement speed by 6% per stack, rather than increasing damage taken.
* New fancy appearances are in progress for the Epic Namjok, Yarnosaur, and Vaiyuu mounts.
* Fix for quickly opening a series of clickable loot (such as geodes for gems) with auto-loot that would occasionally result in lost items.

* Rift events no longer track player contribution against other players. You are checked for participation in the event and given rewards appropriately. It’s still important to participate in as many stages of a Rift or event as possible to receive the best rewards.
* Tweaked cooldown times between zone events.

* Planar Charges are no longer consumed immediately when starting to cast an ability. They are consumed when the effect actually takes place — no more wasted charges on an interrupted cast.

* Epic quests now award Achievements and titles at key advancement points. These are granted retroactively so if you already completed portions (or all!) of the epic questline, you will receive these on login.

* Killing Spree and Blood Thirsty use the proper perk tokens now.
* The following perks will now properly show the description/tooltip values associated with them: Lucky Penny, Call of the Ascended, Journeyman, Foe Hunter, Cache Finder, and Rift Extraction.
* Journeyman no longer always shows in the buff bar.

* Updated the tooltip description text for Attack Power and Spell Power in the character sheet.
* Effects subject to diminishing returns will now also use diminished durations on player pets.
* ‘Immune’ scrolling combat text no longer appears on characters in stealth.
* Player tracking abilities no longer proc trinket effects.

* Warriors: The following abilities have been changed to fix an issue where the character could use them and die before they actually triggered, making it seem like they missed: Touch of Life, Master of the Abyss, No Permission to Die, Rift Shield, and Predictable Movements.
* Warriors: Taunts now continue cooldown timers while logged out.
* Mages: Reduced pushback on all non-healing Mage spells.
* Mages: Increased the base damage on all damaging Mage abilities.
* Clerics: All cleric Cleanses should now properly remove associated effects.
* PvP Souls: The cooldown for Break Free has been reduced to 2 minutes. Improved Break Free now reduces the cooldown by 10 seconds per point spent.

* Exhilaration: Now only triggers on damaging or healing Critical Hits. Mana procs will appear correctly in the combat log.
* Burning Purpose: The damage proc can now only occur a maximum of once every 1.5 seconds. Fixed an issue so that the damage proc is only affected by buffs active on the caster at the time it is triggered. Updated description on this ability to reflect current functionality.
* Ashen Defense: No longer counts as a mage armor buff and will stack with other mage armors.
* Procs from Surging Flare, Volcanic Bomb, and Earthen Barrage now affect allies within 35 meters of the caster.
* Consuming Flames: Now a 6-point root ability. No longer deals damage to the caster and can be cast on yourself as well as other friendly targets. Now absorbs a set amount of damage and has multiple ranks.
* Power In Numbers: Corrected the second rank so it will affect aura buffs.

* Due to the below changes, characters with points spent in Bard have received a free soul point respec.
* Invigorated Soul, Coda of Restoration: Now affects up to 5 targets.
* Using Verse of Fascination or Verse of Captivation now turns off auto-attack, since these effects break on damage.
* Motif of Tenacity: Now unlocked at 12 points.
* Anthem of Defiance: Now unlocked at 18 points.
* Motif of Regeneration: Now unlocked at 24 points. Now casts on the Bard and heals up to 10 raid or group members nearby with each tick.
* Anthem of Fervor: Fixed tooltip so the cost reduction is shown correctly when points are spent in Street Performer. Also fixed the cost reduction not being applied correctly to raid members when points are spent in Street Performer.

* Flesh Rip: Will now properly show up in the reactive ability UI when your pet critically hits. Fixed an issue where this was gaining weapon damage to each tick of the bleed effect. Base damage reduced.
* Backhanded Blow: Now correctly triggers global cooldown. Fixed a bug causing Rank 3 to do 20% more damage than intended. Base damage reduced. Corrected Power cost on ranks 2 through 8 to cost the proper 25 Power.
* Slashing Strike: Fixed a bug where this ability was doing the damage of a single target ability. The damage has been reduced to match other cleave-style abilities.
* Fight as One: The benefits gained from Fight as One have been reduced to 5-15% for Hit, Critical Hit, and Damage. This ability has been taken off of global cooldown.
* Diversion Strike: Increases Critical Hit chance of the Beastmaster and their pet by 5% instead of 10%. Damage lowered.
* Tenacious Wounds: Now increases bleed damage by 2-4% instead of 3-6%.
* Feral Sweep: Resolved a bug where this was dealing extra damage on each tick of the Bleed effect. Base damage lowered.
* Tearing Slash, Fierce Strike: Damage lowered.

* Combat Culmination: Ability will not break stealth when it triggers.

* Nebulous Haze: Now increases cast time by the 20% advertised on the tooltip.
* Decay: Lurking Decay will now always trigger, even if Obliterate or Tyranny kills the enemy outright.

* Debilitating Strike: Made the tooltip for the debuff from this ability more clear.
* Titan’s Strike: Damage has been lowered and the stun has been reduced to 1-3 seconds, down from 1-5 seconds.
* Mark of Extermination and Mark of Inevitability: Will now cause the target to attack.

* Withering Vines: Increased the amount healed.
* Livegiving Veil: Now affects up to 5 targets.
* Radiant Spores: Now has a base chance to proc of 10%.
* Phytogenesis: Now increases the chance for Radiant Spores to proc by 2-6%.

* Priest’s Lament: The primary debuff on this ability is no longer affected by diminishing returns. The silence proc debuff is still affected.
* Haunting Pain: Will only trigger on the first tick of damage from a damage shield.

* Trickster Spirit, Slothful Spirit, Spiteful Spirit: Reduced the damage to better account for the attached debuffs.
* Fury of the Fae: Now a pet-cast buff that increases the group/raid’s Attack Power and Spell Power for 30 seconds with a 10 second cooldown. Shares stacking with Bard’s Motif of Bravery.
* Satyr: Increased the ratio of the owner’s Spell Power converted into the Satyr’s Attack Power.

* Intensify Elements: No longer on the global cooldown.
* Due to the below changes, characters with points spent in Infiltrator will receive a free soul point respec.
* Cloudy Poison: Ability should not break stealth when used. The debuff from this is now cleansable.
* Murderous Thoughts: Now requires Prestige Rank 3. Now increases all damage against players by 3-6%.
* Knock Knock: Now requires Prestige Rank 2. Increases critical damage against players by 2-10%.

* Fanaticism: No longer consumed by Shroud of Agony.
* Purge: No longer unintentionally removes debuffs that are caused by buffs (ex: the debuff from Battlefield Distraction).
* Shroud of Agony: No longer triggers on falling damage.

* Reparation: Now affects up to 5 targets.

* Empty the Crypts: Charge can now be gained while this is active. The pets summoned by Empty the Crypts can be active for a maximum of 20 seconds.
* Lich Form: Will no longer consume buffs that reduce the casting time of your next spell.

* Scourge of Darkness: Can no longer miss, be parried, dodged, or blocked.

* Touch of Life: Now continues cooldown timer on logout.
* Balance of Power: Now deals 25-75% of weapon damage.
* Aegis of Salvation: Ranks 1 and 2 have their cooldowns changed to 1.5 seconds to match with other buffs.
* Reverent Protection: Now only affects up to 5 targets, and range increased from 10 meters to 35 meters.

* Strike Like Iron: Ability is no longer on the global cooldown. Increased from a 10-30% damage buff up to a 16-48% damage buff, with the value doubled for follow-up attacks.
* Death Touch: Due to the Strike Like Iron changes, damage of Death Touch has been lowered.
* Force of Will: Due to the Strike Like Iron changes, damage bonus to follow-up attacks from Force of Will has been reduced from 20 per point to 10 per point.
* Path of the Wind, Path of the Raptor: Now have cooldowns of 6 seconds and a slight increase in damage due to the longer reuse time.
* Dual Strike: Fixed a bug causing this to do less damage than intended – as a result, damage from this ability has increased.
* Deadly Grace: Increased from 7% of Dual Strike damage per point to 9% Dual Strike damage per point.
* Weapon Master: Increased from a 4-20% chance to gain a second attack point up to a 10-50% chance.
* Rising Waterfall: Damage increased.
* Turn the Blade: Damage increased.
* Flurry: Damage lowered.

* Shield of the Ancestors and related buffs now appear in the combat log.
* Caregiver’s Blessing: No longer procs off of procced heals.
* Surging Flames: Now converts 50% of overhealing.
* Divine Cascade: Reduced Spell Power contribution. Now has a stack size of 1 per caster instead of 1 total, but only triggers when target is healed by the caster rather than anyone.
* Spirit Rupture: Fixed the contribution from Spell Power.

* Due to the below changes, characters with points spent in Pyromancer have received a free soul point respec.
* Heat Wave: Reduced cooldown to 2 minutes.
* Inferno: Removed from global cooldown.
* Improved Grounding: Now a tier 2 branch ability.
* Improved Smoldering Power: Now a tier 3 branch ability.
* Ground of Power: Now obtained at 6 points.
* Smoldering Power: Now obtained at 8 points.
* Burning Shield – New Ability: Consumes the mage’s Ground spell to shield them in flames, absorbing damage. Lasts up to 30 seconds. While Burning Shield is active, the next Ground spell is instant-cast. Obtained at 6 points.

* Escape Artist: Fixed a bug where the improved version was not causing the pet to be immune to Root, Snare, and Stun.

* Due to the below changes, characters with soul points spent in Reaver will receive a free soul point respec.
* Soul Sickness, Flesh Rot, Necrotic Wounds, Blood Fever: The damage on additional targets when using Plague Bringer has been lowered. The Threat generation has been increased to keep overall threat gain of the abilities the same.
* Crippling Infestation: Moves down one tier to unlock at 21 points.
* Wasting Away: Moves down one tier to unlock at 16 points.
* Grisly Works: Moves up two tiers, now unlocked at 26 points. Now increases the healing of Soul Feast by 30-90% for 15 seconds after killing a target the Reaver has engaged.
* Soul Devour: Now increases the damage of Soul Feast by 50%, instead of 150%.
* Power from the Masses: Changed to give a stack per nearby party/raid member rather than per nearby enemy.
* Infestation: Cooldown increased to 1 minute, and damage increased based on the new cooldown.

* Earth Burst: Now properly interrupts elites and other high level mobs.
* Avatar of Wind: Fixed a bug causing the tooltip of this ability to report improper values.
* Rift Surge: Can now be removed with abilities that remove Curses. Now has a 30 second cooldown instead of 10 seconds and is no longer adjusted by Attack Power.
* Flamespear: Now has a cooldown of 6 seconds and has its damage slightly increased to reflect the longer cooldown.
* Burning Blood: Now deals damage based on 10-30% of the character’s Strength.

* Memory Capture: Ability should no longer get you stuck in collision or falling through the world.
* Rift Scavenger: Ability will not break stealth when it triggers.
* Removed internal cooldown from Defer Death and Scatter the Shadows. Both abilities should be more responsive now.
* Hasted Time: Fixed a bug with the second point spent in this ability gave an incorrect movement speed buff.

* Due to the below changes, characters with points spent in Saboteur will receive a free soul point respec.
* Undetonated Spike Charge and Blast Charge will not cause stealth to break when the charges expire.
* Shrapnel Charge: Will now fire off its AoE effects on surrounding enemies when the main target is killed by Detonate damage.
* Reduced the range of all Bombs and Charges to 15 meters, down from 20 meters.
* Reduced the range of Detonate to 15 meters, down from 20 meters.
* Long Range Bombing: Now increases the range you can hurl Bombs by 1-5 meters, down from 2-10 meters.
* Remote Clipping: Now increases the range of your Charges and Detonates by 1-5 meters, down from 2-10 meters.
* The outcome and damage of each charge is now calculated individually. When you detonate 5 Blast Charges, you will see 5 damage numbers, each with its own chance to critically hit, rather than one large number.
* Improved Blast Charge: Fixed a bug where the armor penetration provided was higher than 25-50%.
* Charge Booster: Redesigned to an active ability rather than a passive. When activated, the damage of your Charges is increased by 50% when detonated. This ability does not trigger global cooldown and is on a 1.5 minute cooldown.

* Vigilance: Now triggers more consistently.
* Serendipity: Now properly affects heals that are queued immediately after being triggered.

* Strike of the Maelstrom: Rank 1 is no longer unintentionally affected by Stormborn.
* Glacial Shield: Ranks 2 and up now work properly with overwrites of similar abilities – Shield of Oak can overwrite Glacial Shield, and vice versa.
* Lust for Blood: Fixed tooltip to more accurately describe functionality.
* Ageless Ice: Description now properly mentions that it does not trigger a global cooldown.

* Static Discharge: No longer on global cooldown.
* Static Flux: Will no longer be overwritten by weaker buffs.
* Cloudburst: Increased damage.
* Icy Vortex – New Ability: Reduces damage done to the Mage by 25% for 10 seconds and applies Hypothermia to attacking enemies, reducing their movement speed by 50% for 10 seconds. Obtained at 6 points.

* Due to the below changes, characters with points spent in Vindicator will receive a free soul point respec.
* Dangerous Game: Now requires Prestige Rank 3. Fixed a bug that only increased damage on critical hits. Now increases all damage (not just physical) against players by 3-6%.
* Resilient: No longer has a Prestige Rank requirement. Fixed a bug that only reduced critical chance received by 6%. Now reduces chance to be critically hit by players by 3-15%.

* Rift Shield: Corrected a bug causing Rift Shield to absorb too much damage. It will now absorb an amount more in line with other absorption shields in the game.

* Tidal Resonance: No longer consumed by actions that are not Heal Over Time spells.
* Track Water Creatures: Wardens can now use this ability to track creatures from Water Rifts.
* Well of Life: Now has a 35 meter range.

* Neddra’s Might: No longer requires a target to cast.
* Neddra’s Torture: Reduced cooldown to 20 seconds.

* Call to Battle: Fixed buff tooltip to report a straight value rather than a percentage.

* The artifact set, ‘Ancient Eth Tablets’, included two different items with the same name. One has now been corrected to Scuffed Tablet Fragment.
* Fixed many minor typos in quest and NPC text.

* Ancient Wardstones have been uncovered in Droughtlands! A dangerous land just got more dangerous-er. Beware the beast that lies within the ruins of Eth – Skirathos, the Eye of Fate!
* Nowhere to Run: Fixed an issue that could cause the kobolds to not show up and attack.
* Sothul’s Demise: Sothul now respawns faster.
* A Fall Tale: Anontok’s Notes’ description now shows the level requirement to use the item.
* Lecu the Claw: This cat is now almost as vicious as my cat.
* The Biggest Void: Netharius is now more nefarious.
* Additional variety and difficulty pass was made on Droughtlands named mobs.

* The Tech is Mightier than the Sword: Jakub will no longer sucker-punch players or their pets during this quest.
* Zone event Shadestones can now be used for pickup by multiple people at once.
* Tete-a-Tete: The faction-change effect during this quest now makes you friendly to Life Rifts as well as the surrounding Aelfwar.
* I Heard a Storm Was Coming: Doubled the duration of the swim speed buff.
* Man v Mandible: Increased the drop rate of mandibles.
* Durgin the Keeper: Durgin now respawns much more quickly.

* A Burgher with Lies is now less disruptive to players not also on the quest.
* The Toxic Source: Re-ordered the quest rewards so they are displayed more consistently with other quests.

* A Hymn of Frost and Flame: All party members can now loot the Redsnow Communique.
* Dabbling in the Forbidden: Tweaked quest so it should update consistently.
* Conquered Minds, Imprisoned Minds: Fixed an issue causing these quests to reset too often.
* Deepmoss Lurkers are no longer skinnable and do not give experience.
* Dagda Skullthumper, the Redsnow Bandit, should no longer return to life instantly when slain!
* Cloudbourne Ice Necklace: Dominance of the Soul debuff correctly affects Armor instead of Attack Power.
* Corrected duplicate loot drops from rare mobs Emissary Kavenik and Frosthide.
* Thunder Snow has been fixed so that Sentinel Nightbane is always where expected.

* Shyla will cast heals more often to assist players during the Rift event.
* Rainy weather is a bit less frequent in Moonshade.
* Question and Answers: Centurion will stop beating on the Imprisoned Legionnaire before you get a chance to interrogate him.
* The hounds of Conchobhar will stop trying to defy their master.
* Rational Ward: Fixed issues with the quest not updating thanks to lazy Defense Turrets.
* To Know Evil: The Infernal Transmitter will be more reliably provided.
* Fall of Moonshade: Updated quest locators on the map.
* In Plain Sight: The first objective now shares progress for the whole party.
* A Gathering Force: The Demiurge of Earth now has a more accurate quest locator.
* Death’s Embrace: Reduced Gorvaht’s damage.
* A Holy Remedy: The sickly dwarves now stop to offer thanks before running back to Three Springs.
* Scanning for Clues: The Defiant Scanner should be more reliable.
* A Demon Among Satyrs: This quest now grants credit to all group members on the same step.
* Guardians on the Edge: This quest will now display map locators.
* The Elite Greater Golems in Grey Gardens now look visually different from the Lesser Golems.

* Taking Shards: Fixed an issue causing the visual effects to not appear as intended. Group members now also receive credit for placing the Problem Solvers.
* Bits and Pieces: Construct components now drop as group loot for everyone on this quest.

* Honest When Dead: Fixed step four of this quest so it properly progresses.
* Sealing the Portal: The portal at the back of Sagespire should be much more active now.
* Salve No Longer: Quest can once again be completed.
* Seek and Destroy: Added a map marker for Kelynn Eregor.
* A Troll’s Lunch: Rakthug should respawn much more quickly now.
* Let them Come: Fixed to allow party members to join in on the mission.

* Final Preparations: Anthon Eskar, the Dragonslayer Covenant guard who provides the disguise for Flatyard quests, no longer tries to offer a second disguise if you already have one.
* Buried Beneath: You will now be required to kill 16 Immature Whelplings for this quest.
* A Crafter’s Lament: Now grants loot to all group members on the quest.
* Fire and Sand: Improved spawn rates of Wanton Bone Rituals.
* Tweaked scripting for the levers to summon Warden Nevin for Dragonslayer Covenant daily quests.
* Slither the Voice: You get to keep the Inmate Disguise item after completing this quest!
* Binding the Lightning, To Turn Aside the Storm: Golden Maw Enforcers will now correctly display quest tooltips.
* Dragonslayer: Forging the Haft: This was a sneaky leftover quest from testing that was horribly broken and not intended for the live game — it’s been removed!
* The mobs inside The Flatyard should respawn more slowly when fewer players are in the area.
* Lester Ironbole at Gildstone Sanctum will no longer be attacked by the Storm Legion in the area.
* Added more guards to Fortune’s Shore.

* Azure Blade on the shores of Suncrest Rise now properly share faction with the Defiant.
* Rift: Forging Heat: The Gedlo Heater should quit getting stuck inside the bonfire during stage three.
* Beast of Burden: This quest is now offered to mount-less players at level 13 instead of 20.
* Aelfwar Monstrosities: Quest now has more accurate locators for Aelfwar Defenders.
* Clouded Contemplation: Quest now requires you to kill 8 Greenscale Zealots, rather than 12.
* The Power of Life: Increased the drop rate of items required for this quest.
* Thanks to the recent efforts of the Ascended, the road leading to and from Silver Landing is now much safer for travel.

* The Spirit Walk: Quest now gives proper credit for the second objective.
* Spirit Animus: Quest gives credit when entering Hillsborough.
* The Spirit Walk and Spirit Animus shadow forms match up with player Calling!
* Galenir’s Last Answer: Fixed respawn of Galenir.
* Digging in the Dirt: The JKG-77 has learned to better recognize the character it should be following.
* New Blood: Added a missing pre-requisite to this quest, so that you must first complete An End to the Horror.
* Guardian NPCs at Thalin Tor should no longer respawn instantly.

* The Graniteborn Champion and Corrupted Graniteborn Champion ability, Earthen Shock, will no longer react to passive or DoT damage.
* Dead Drop: The respawn rate of the Earthmaul Ward is now faster.
* Breaking the Breaker: Bonebreaker will always be tagged to the player who spawned him. Also cleaned up a case where players who attempted to summon Bonebreaker immediately after someone else killed him could have their quest items removed but not spawn the NPC.

* Only the final boss of Expert dungeons drop the Corrupted and Grotesque Souls needed for Expert and Raid Rifts.
* Reduced the drop rate of Bind on Equip items in Expert Dungeons.
* Adjusted harvest nodes in Abyssal Precipice and Charmer’s Caldera – nodes before the first bosses can no longer be stealthed to.

* Expert: Icetalon’s Ripping Talons can no longer critically hit.
Akala [Outdoor Raid]
* Reduced health of Stone Wardens to make the first fight phase possible with 10 players.
* Akala’s Aegis of Stone and Gift of Laethys buffs can no longer be purged.

* Expert: Gronik will now reset if he leaves his encounter area.
* Expert: Gronik’s minions, Xaeiel and Sanwusu now ignore line of sight with their spells.
* Expert: Added borders around Ryka Dharvos’ area to ensure more laser goodness.

* Expert: Oludare the Firehoof can now Charge and throw harpoons at players from a greater distance.

* Corruptive Ritual: Fixed so that the mobs that drop the required items now always spawn in certain groups.

* Blightleaf Hexmaster’s Noxious Cloud can no longer critically hit.
* Blightleaf Guard’s Wicked Vine can no longer critically hit.
* All general population mobs’ standard attacks can now critically hit.
* Made small adjustments to boss enrage timers.
* Greenscale: Fixed the protective Life Aura occasionally not spawning.

* Added new ranged weapon rewards to the zone quest, You Are Who They Call.

* Expert: Konstantin’s Mathosian Fury is now more lethal (and furious).

* Changed the quest mobs, Guardian Purelights, so the ambush should be easier to manage.
* Expert: Eliam’s Death’s Fury can no longer be removed by player abilities.
* Expert: Rictus: Changed Rotting Flesh from a targeted AoE DoT to a ground target effect with a longer duration.

* Increased the amount of Armor on Cloth items.
* Increased the amount of Plaques of Achievement needed to purchase first and second-tier Expert Dungeon items.
* Pure-Endurance ‘Of the Fortress’ items will no longer drop above level 13.
* A large number of new Essences have been added to merchants in Meridian and Sanctum for purchase with Inscribed Sourcestones.
* Earthbreak Pauldrons from the quest Hero of the Defiants had defensive stats on them when offensive stats were intended. This has been updated for future Earthbreak Pauldrons, but existing items will remain as-is.
* Fixed a number of items, including high-end Weaponsmith recipes, that had incorrect auction house categories. They now appear in the expected search results. We would list them all, but it’s a long list.
* Going forward, randomly generated two-handed weapons will come with DPS stats rather than tanking stats.
* The Waxing Shadesource had stats applied for a higher level item, and has been reduced in effectiveness to match its level.
* Spellbinder’s Sash now has Spell Power instead of Attack Power.
* Crystal of Brilliance and Crystal of Foresight had melee stats but are caster items. This has been corrected.
* Rare Essences dropped from Major and Minor Rifts should no longer be bound on pickup.
* Chan’s Thundering Fist was set up as a Warrior weapon rather than a Cleric weapon. This has been corrected so it now properly has spell power and lower base weapon damage.
* Petrifying Rune: The root proc will now break on damage.
* Fixed Ritualist’s Buckler to be a Cleric-equippable shield.
* A number of offhand book items had the wrong visual attached and have been fixed.
* Powdery Ash now has a proper sell price.
* Fixed many minor typos in item names.

* Fixed an issue where all potions were on the same cooldown. They are now divided into three major groups based on their effects: Healing/Positive, Damage/Negative, and Buffs.
* A large number of items have been updated to be Runebreakable/Salvagable. In general, all items not purchased from a vendor should fall into these categories.
* Fixed Rootcatch Brew items, which were using a healing effect rather than functioning as a snare.
* Recipe: Blazing Wisdom Rune now teaches the correct recipe.
* Artificers may now open their crafting window by right-clicking Looms.
* New zone-specific drops come from monsters in the following zones, and are used in recipes from each zone:
  – Gnarled Core – Scarwood reach
  – Evergreen Core – Freemarch
  – Enchanted Core – Silverwood
  – Stone Core – Stonefield
  – Shadow Core – Gloamwood
  – Rusty Core – Scarlet Gorge
  – Cracked Core – Droughtlands
  – Glowing Core – Moonshade Highlands.
* A large number of recipes from notoriety vendors have been adjusted. Recipes that were previously Uncommon are now Rare and have their stats adjusted accordingly. Ingredients used in these recipes require the Cores mentioned above or have had their other ingredients and quantities updated.
* Iron Buckler recipes from faction vendors have been renamed to Steel Buckler.
* Blackwood Chopper crafted item has been renamed to Blackwood Cleaver.

* You can now report AFK teammates in a Warfront. When enough of the team has reported someone as AFK, they will have a short period to prove themselves by engaging the enemy or supporting the team. If they fail to prove themselves, they will be banished!
* Falling through the world, or using the Customer Service ‘I’m Stuck’ button, will now result in a respawn inside the Warfront instead of teleporting you out and applying the Deserter debuff!
* PvP combat: Abilities now only check for caster facing their target at the start of a cast – they will still land if a target moves behind you while the casting is in progress.
* Killing lower level players in your Warfront bracket will now grant some favor and some experience.
* The Black Garden: The damage dealt from the Fang of Regulos now increases higher than 100% of the carrier’s max health.
* The Codex, Whitefall Steppes: Fixed a bug where stunning/mesmerizing/incapacitating an enemy player did not interrupt flag captures in progress.
* The Battle for Port Scion: Repeatable quests now grant 50 Notoriety, up from 25.
* The Battle for Port Scion: 50 Notoriety is awarded with the Noble Guard or Eldritch Vanguard for every 100 points earned.
* The Battle for Port Scion: Resident NPCs in Port Scion no longer apply the Exposed debuff.
* The Battle for Port Scion: Defiant Centurions and Guardian Lieutenants have had their difficulty slightly reduced.
* The Battle for Port Scion: Capturing Sourcestone with two Idols up is now worth 30 points. Each Idol lost will reduce the score for capturing Sourcestone by 10 points.

* The low health and death effects have been improved in the Low Quality Renderer.
* Shield spell effects now appear on players even when mounted.
* Wardstones in player hubs have new and improved visuals!
* Extraplanar Leather Gloves and Ellisar’s Gloves now have actual glove graphics when equipped instead of INVISIBLE HANDS.

* The /focus command now understands the @targeting arguments like the /target, /cast, and /use commands.
* @pet targets your primary pet, and @targettarget picks up your target’s target.

* Character stats will turn green on the character sheet if they are under any sort of bonus.
* The total number of discoveries for a character is now displayed in the Achievements window.
* Additional improvements to the Soul Tree window – role-changing and resetting visuals, confirmation to save points on exit,  etc.
* Equipped Planar Essences should now show colored borders based on the rarity of the Essence.
* The guild roster will stop showing you as AFK when you log back in after having logged out with the AFK flag on.
* UI pieces docked to the Target and Target of Target windows now stay where you told them to be.
* Guild names are now included in player tooltips.
* Fixed a brief artifacting flicker on the screen when discarding changed video settings instead of applying and saving them.
* Fixed a bug that would cause the Reactive Abilities UI to stop working after performing a /reloadui.
* Edit Layout Mode: Elements can now be set to fade in and out when moused over or when entering and leaving combat.
* The Rift meter contribution bar and leaderboard button have been removed.
* The Tutorial Alert icon will now always appear in the same place instead of being attached to the casting bar (which can be moved by editing the UI layout).

* The green dot next to recommended shards at Shard Select now says Recommended instead, which is what it meant.
* High population shards show in orange text, and medium in yellow. Full is still red!
* We now also display queue sizes at shard selection.

Why You Should Be Playing Rift: 05 – User Interface

Instead of my customary cut & paste introduction to the concept of WYSBPR, today I thought I would throw out a thank you to Aenerb a friend of mine from my guild Eye of the Manastorm on the Shadefallen server.  When he submitted my series of posts to the reddit rift feed, I doubt he realized that it would actually grow legs and run (and I honestly didn’t even know about the reddit feed in the first place).  Yesterday my readership went from an average of 60-90 unique readers a day to over 700.  Reminds me of the few times I got featured on wow insider, certainly skews the analytics a bit.


Episode 05:  The User Interface

wysbpr_05_default_userinterface For some time I had been a wow tourist.  As a new game came out, I would wander off and play it in alpha, beta, and very rarely release but always return home to wow.  The very first make or break component of any of these games was the user interface.  If the UI felt obtrusive, and difficult to manage it was not long before I quit playing.  The ones I have played for any length of time (WoW, Everquest II, Warhammer Online) all had one thing in common, a UI that was easily modifiable by the player.

Above is an image of the default Rift user interface elements.  I created a new character for the purpose of screenshots, so no worries folks I have not gone to the dark side and swapped factions.  For the most part, the above is also the source of the majority of “it’s just like wow” complaints, because visually the UI elements do look a lot like WoW and LoTRO went out and had a lovechild.  All the stock modern MMO constructs are there, the mini-map, the hotbar, the floating chat window, the bag bar, and for some reason all games seem to top-left dock the player fames.

Breaking The Mold

Personally I have never liked the stock MMO layout.  The unit frames for example seem completely foreign for them to be in the upper left corner.  When you are playing an MMO all of the action seems to happen at your character, so to me, having them player and target frames in the center of the screen makes more logical sense.  Less time spent looking away from your character, less lag in your reactions.  As a result I have very specific desires for what my UI should look like.  While it seems horribly wrong I will illustrate the point with what my raid interface looked like in wow before I quit raiding and left the game.

wysbpr_05_wowinterface To get things the way I wanted them in wow, was doable, but it meant I had to run over 50 different add-ons to get the various effects I wanted.  Each time a major patch would come out, it meant the long and annoying process of figuring out exactly what was broken, finding updates and dealing with the fact that your UI settings seemed to get corrupted on a regular basis.  On top of that there was always the fact that anytime you attempted to get support, the immediate first response was to blame any add-ons you were using.


I am very happy to say the era of the add-on is finally behind me.  In Rift I was able to very quickly, a few moments after starting the game move things around and change the UI to look the way I wanted it to without any external modification.  If you look at the two screenshots, the layout is pretty similar.  All the key elements I wanted from WoW add-ons are here, and overall I feel like the effect is much cleaner.  Granted the screenshot above is pretty busy considering we were working on an invasion boss.

Making It Happen

wysbpr_05_UIsettings_editorAbove is a picture of the ‘Edit Layout” interface inside of Rift.  Since I am keyboard oriented I acces it by hitting escape to bring up the options menu, and then choosing the “Edit Layout” option.   This places the game into a mode where you can move components of your user interface around.  The concept is pretty simple, each UI element has a bounding box drawn around it, and you can drag them around the screen to place them where you like.

This is by no means a brand new concept to the MMO world.  I can remember while playing Warhammer Online thinking their UI layout editor was extremely elegant.  Rift however goes one step further.  One of the big problems with moving things from their default places, is that as the windows grow, they often overlap and cover up necessary parts of other windows.  Rift has solved this by allowing users to dock windows together. 

If you notice above some of the windows show a thick golden highlight alone one or more of the edges.  This denotes that these windows have been docked together.  For example if you move the window labeled “Group Portrait 1” in the above image, it will also move all the other group portraits and pet portraits keeping the group enact.  This means as your windows grow, your initial UI design stays neatly together.

While you cannot see it in this image, in addition to docking windows together, you can dock elements to the edges of the screen.  When you drag a window close to the edge, a green highlighted edge will appear.  This means that window will be docked to that edge of the screen.  Currently you can only dock a window to one edge at a time, but the nice feature of doing this means as you change resolutions, your layout will remain roughly the same.

Going Even Further

wysbpr_05_importSettingsMontageOne of the biggest frustrations that comes with running with a non-stock layout in most games is figuring out a way to replicate your design to other characters.  In WoW, you had to go through the process of copying LUA files from one character directory to another.  In other games, I never actually found a way and just had to try my best to replicate things by hand.  Trion thought ahead and included an elegant way of doing this out of the box.

Again being keyboard oriented, I usually access the options menu by hitting the escape key.  From this menu choose the Import option, as shown in the above montage image, which will bring up the import settings interface.  On the left side of the screen is a listing of all your characters with some pertinent information about them and on the left a series of checkboxes.  This will let you import key bindings, ui layout, macros, chat settings, game settings, and misc settings from the target character to your currently logged in character.  When you hit the import button you are given a prompt, also shown, that warns you any changes will be permanent.

wysbpr_05_importsettings_afterimport Now if we return to my dwarven placeholder, you can see that I have applied the UI settings from my warrior Belghast, and the UI layout has changed to match my preferences.  Several minutes of awkward cut and paste work done in seconds with a nice clean UI.  One of the weird things to get used to with Rift is the fact that, ALL of your primary settings are stored with your account information on the server.  I’ve never played a game in the past that had done this, so it was equal parts shocking and awesome when I logged in for the first time from my laptop and everything about Belghast was set up the way I wanted it.  The only glitch however was that my laptop and desktop run at different resolutions.  So as a result I use different UI scaling settings on each machine. 

After a few minutes of digging around I found a simple and elegant solution for this.  Rift has a pair of commands, /exportui <filename> and /importui <filename>, that help to bridge this gap between my systems.  Doing an exportui, dumps all of your user interface settings to a file on your hard drive, and doing the importui command refreshes those settings from the file.  So when I log into my desktop I type /importui desktop, and when I log into my laptop I type /importui laptop to quickly scale things to fit either machine.

The Future

One of the neat benefits of this system, might not be apparent at first.  Since these commands dump and import your settings from a file on your file system, it will allow you to trade UI layouts with your friends.  Currently there is not much that can be done in the UI that could not be replicated quickly by another user.  However since they have already added additional features to the user interface since release, I can see at some point the level of customization will allow users to create a very unique look and feel they might want to share.

Without a doubt, this is the most robust user interface in an MMO to date.  No other MMO ever comes close to letting its users have this much control over their environment without installing third party modifications.  Currently Trion has hinted that add-ons might be something for the future, but with an interface this well designed I am not sure exactly what can be improved upon.  If they do choose to do add-ons, it would be nice to see them plug-in cleanly into the existing interface, instead of replace it. 

I can imagine a time where the user might be able to browse in game a list of available third party add-ons and snap them in without having to hit external sources.  An internal “app store” would allow Trion to assure the quality of the add-ons, and keep them from doing anything terribly exploitative.  This way add-ons that do more than re-organize data, can be nipped in the bud before actually having an effect on the community.  As a reformed add-on junkie, it is my hope that Rift stays clean and free of “make or break” third party features.

Lantern Hook Fell On Me


Taking a break today from my regularly scheduled “Why You Should Be Playing Rift” series, in part because my screenshots just are not ready for the next piece, and part because I felt like writing about something else.  A good deal has happened since I last did a non-series post.  Namely as you should be able to tell from the recent content, and the slow transformation of the website, I have been playing Rift.  It has been amazingly fun, and extremely refreshing.  As I have commented in recent series posts, I has made me remember what playing mmo’s used to feel like.

More shockingly however than me starting another MMO, is the fact that after six and a half years I have cancelled World of Warcraft.  If you’ve read any of my older posts, you know that my guild, House Stalwart, holds an almost childlike position for me.  Leaving WoW has been easy, after 6 years the game is really tired, and I’ve come to the realization that it has been a long time since I last really enjoyed playing it.  Leaving my guild however, that has been fairly heart wrenching.  As I sit back and watch it being transformed in many directions I tried hard never to take it, I keep having to tell myself that I am no longer in the picture.

Let’s Do The Time Warp Again


Last Saturday I hit level 50, the cap in rift.  It took me 6 days 6 hours and 26 minutes to get there, roughly 3 times the amount of time it took me to level my last character from 1 to 85 in World of Warcraft.  Throughout the process there was not a point for me at least where the content got stale, or the zones ceased to be compelling.  All in all I was extremely impressed with the experience, and look forward to running up additional characters once Belghast has been appropriately geared.

To achieve said gearing, I’ve encountered one of the great traps in Rift.  Namely that for tanks like myself and casters, our entry point into expert dungeons is paved with gear that includes stats that simply do not exist prior to level 50.  This seems like a design flaw to me, if you can imagine during the early days of wow that if defense gear simply did not exist prior to level 60.  The equivalent stat to defense in Rift is that of Toughness, which is scattered throughout precious few items that will be readily obtainable by players who have just hit 50.

I managed to suffer through my first expert without the required 50 toughness, but it was extremely painful.  Last night I attempted to run Fall of Lantern Hook starting far too late for my own sanity.  Having 49 toughness certainly increased my survival, but having never run the zone even on normal before made it equally frustrating.  Initially I was pretty frustrated by my performance, in that it took a few attempts per boss to get them, and we had more wipes that I care to count on the crystal boss.  However, after reviewing the run with a more seasoned friend, seems like we had a less than optimal group, and he was amazed we did that well with two off-heals instead of a cleric.

Difficulty or Distraction


Across the board the two “entry level” expert dungeons that I have run seem considerably more difficult than WoW heroics.  They are definitely more difficult than Cataclysm heroics, but the jury is out on how they stack compared to the Burning Crusade era ones.  Truth is I am not sure how much harder they truly are, as Rift is a new game, with new mechanics and completely new dungeons I am not nearly as familiar with.  I actually leveled in Rift without running that many dungeons, whereas in WoW I was grinding dungeons over and over to exhaustion.

The biggest adjustment I have had to get used to is the fact that since I am one of the first players in the guild to hit 50, I will be pugging a lot of my groups.  I have been spoiled by voice communication with guild groups for far too long, and as a result I am simply not as good about watching the chat window during fights.  I realize that we raided for years, throughout many different games without having a voice server to rely on but at this point it boggles the mind to think how we were ever efficient doing it.  One thing I have learned for certain, a sleepy Belghast is not an effective Belghast.

Though it was a rough run, I did manage to finally get my first post 50 dungeon drop.  With it I have gotten my toughness up to 60, so here is hoping that expert number three will go considerably smoother.  Also hoping to try one of the ones I have already done, to see if now that I know the pulls, and boss strategies I can maybe get through it without looking like a complete and total noob.  It is a shock to the ego to go from Bel, the tank of tanks, to that crappy pug guy.  The consolation is, that everyone for the most part on Shadefallen has been great, and we are all learning together.

Why You Should Be Playing Rift: 04 – A Dusty Sack


Over the last few weeks I have become some what of a “Rift Evangelist”, as I have spent hours preaching to my friends why they should come over and play this new game.  It is not something I have really consciously done, but I seem to have a constant stream of “isn’t this cool” moments to share.  This series is devoted to these little sometimes overlooked features of the game, that all help to add up to such a rich experience.

Episode 04: A Dusty Sack


I think I first heard rumors about my friend the dusty sack, a few weeks from the launch of the game.  My guild has a fairly active server forum, and someone posted about its existence and the wonders it contained.  I’ve commented in other posts about how this game has some ideas that just make you sit back and think, why has no one thought of this before now.  I will admit, I didn’t quite believe that the rumors were true until at some point during head start I encountered one myself.

What pray tell is a dusty sack, and why am I being so ambiguous?  It is a wondrous bag of loot that can contain, at any level a green, blue or epic item tailored for your class.  Granted some of the items you get are less than stellar, such as the way too prevalent “of the fortress” endurance items (which I am convinced are the default in the switch case statement).  How does one get one of these magic portals to loot?  Well there are several ways.

How Puzzling


Honestly it was late in beta that I heard hidden within the game were a series of puzzles.  These puzzles when completed gave you a treasure chest, that when opened produced the mythical dusty sack.  The picture above shows the first puzzle obtainable by Defiant players.  Part of the challenge of the puzzles is getting to them, and the above is located on the bottom of the deep Lake of Solace. 

This puzzle is deviously simple, in that you just have to turn on all of the lamps.  The trick is, that the lamps phase in and out at different intervals, some phasing every few seconds, and some considerably longer.  The finite resource is the amount of breath that you have.  If you locate the puzzle first, and then swim down with a full bar of air, you should have more than enough time to complete it.

wysbpr_04_moonshaeAs you move through the levels the puzzles get more and more devious.  The above puzzle, located in Moonshae Highlands was both difficult to get to (guarded by elites) and extremely difficult to figure out (without using a guide).  At the point in which we solved the puzzle as shown here, my friend and I had probably spent an hour and a half trying different ways through the problem.

If they keep getting harder you might ask yourself are they worth the effort?  Hell yes they are.  When you finally click the solution into place, you are rewarded with this triumphant explosion that causes the treasure chest to show up, along with an achievement and a title.  So far my favorite of the titles, is “the Hare Brained” but I am a little off in the head. 

The most beautiful thing about these puzzles is that you are guaranteed a piece of blue or purple loot from completing them.  Each set of puzzles has a different maximum cap for the level of loot you can receive.  So if you want to optimize your gear, you can wait and complete all the ones of a certain range when you ding the cap level.  I did this for Iron Pine Peaks, Stillmoor, and Shimmersand which all can reward level 50 epics, but for the others I simply did them as I got to them.

Paying Your Respects

wysbpr_04_gloamwoodcairnIn addition to the puzzles, there is another way to obtain the illusive Dusty Sack.  Above is an example of an Ancient Cairn, this one located in Gloamwood.  They are always hidden in locations well off the beaten path, that usually involve extreme mountaineering to reach.  In addtion to this you sometimes have to dodge extremely dangerous creatures along the way.  The cairn in Shimmersand for example, was guarded by a level 50 elite dragon along it’s high mountain path and required deft maneuvering to keep from aggroing it as you continued up the path.

As I mentioned before, the payoff for reaches this long forgotten places is a dusty sack.  However these seem to be a little less lucrative than the puzzles.  Instead of a blue or a purple, you can get a green, blue or purple, which by nature means you will probably see a good number more greens than purples.  Nonetheless they are fun to try and get to, and worth the bragging rights and an achievement if you visit them all.  I know personally I still have a handful left to visit.  The one in scarlet gorge is especially rough as it is on top of one of those bluffs, and involves some Super Mario like reflexes to get up there.

A Wet Sack

wysbpr_04_discardedstrongbox There is a cousin to the dusty sack, the wet sack.  These can be found hidden in items strew on the bottoms of lakes in the game.  Currently I only know of them existing in the Lake of Solace, and according to the achievement there are 8 of them.  Personally I have only found 6 of the 8 without using any of the guides available.  These often require extreme control over your ability to descend quickly and ascend after looting, as at least one is extremely deep within a trench.

When opened the wet sack produces similar results as the cairns.  In the six I opened I received 1 epic, 2 blues, and 3 greens.  I am uncertain if there are more out there in the world than the ones in Lack of Solace, but the ones there seem to have a maximum level cap of 25, as when I completed them on my lvl 35 warrior each item was a lvl 25.  Now that I have reached my level cap, I hope to go exploring more looking for more sunken treasure laying around the waterways of Telara.

Wrapping Up

This is another prime example of why I love this game.  Like I said, this is a “why did no one think of this before” features.  There are other games out there with puzzles, but to this date I have not played one that has turned them into such a fun and valuable mini-game.  I can only hope as we move forward additional puzzles and hidden items will be patched into the world for explorers to find.

I’ve heard many complaints from friends that this game is just not revolutionary enough for them.  To me, it is little things like this that are very much innovative and evolutionary that keep me enthralled.  I am anxious to see how this game evolves over time.  Based on the number of little tweaks and content updates we have already seen in two patches in the last 3 weeks since launch, I have great hopes that Trion is a company that truly cares about its customers.

Why You Should Be Playing Rift: 03 – Wardstones


Over the last few weeks I have become some what of a “Rift Evangelist”, as I have spent hours preaching to my friends why they should come over and play this new game.  It is not something I have really consciously done, but I seem to have a constant stream of “isn’t this cool” moments to share.  This series is devoted to these little sometimes overlooked features of the game, that all help to add up to such a rich experience.

Episode 03: Wardstones



When you first roll a character in Telara, and you notice that there are these odd looking crystal structures all scattered throughout the various towns and camps.  Like all players, I thought they were mere decoration, since I had played through the Burning Crusade era of WoW, and lord knows the outland had gratuitous usage of crystals everywhere.  However these are far more than pretty baubles to look at, each wardstone at it’s most simple level represents control.

The wardstone is a physical extension of the Ward itself, and both factions use them to strengthen their outposts.  Players within 20 meters of a friendly or neutral wardstone receive a 20 minute duration buff that scales based on the level of the stone itself.  The base buff is that you deal 10% more damage and receive 5% less damage from planetouched or planebound enemies.  Because of this, the wardstone is the primary target enemy invasions as they sweep over the countryside attacking towns.

When We Fail to Defend


Player towns become the focus of huge battles and enemy forces attempt to batter down the wardstone weakening our “foothold” on the region.  Above is a picture from Lakeside Outpost in Freemarch.  Players have neglected the invasions as they swarmed the area, and in this case Abyssal Cultists have taken down our wardstone, and created their own foothold.  When one of your towns wardstones is destroyed, no only does it allow for the enemy to gain ground, but it also keeps your NPCs from spawning effecting shutting that quest hub down.

These enemy footholds begin to spread planar creep on the ground, which allows more invasion forces to spawn from them.  If players are not on top of the invasions, this can quickly get out of hand, as each new foothold will start spawning more invasion units until eventually even the capitol cities can fall under the influence of the invading army.

For me this is one of the great features of Rift.  We play in an unpredictable world, where at a moments notice your towns can be ransacked by creatures.  As players we are forced to constantly stop what we are doing, band together, and push back the planar forces to regain our territory.  Games in the past have tried to carry out the “world at war” theme, but none of them have really succeeded.  Warhammer came close, but the world you were fighting over left you wondering exactly why anyone would die over it.  In rift we have these magnificent landscapes, that are well worth protecting, and we the players are constantly called to do so.

Ancient Wardstones and World PVP

wysbpr_03_ancientwardstone As you explore the land you encounter multiple kinds of Wardstones.  At the head of the article, the telltale green of a neutral ward is being shown.  Defiant footholds and towns are protected by the ruby red wardstone and Guardian footholds and bases are protected by the bright blue wardstones.  However once you reach the contested lands of Scarlet Gorge, a special kind of wardstone begins to appear.

To the right is a picture of an ancient wardstone in its neutral state.  Through a quest line you gain an ability called ancient wardstone activation, which allows you to spend one planar charge to activate an ancient wardstone to your faction.  You can gain up to three planar charges by closing rifts.


Above is an example of an activated Ancient Wardstone.  While towns wardstones were destructible by players in early stages of beta, they are no longer valid targets.  However these ancient wardstones become physical control points for PVP in any zone they are located in.  The victor faction gains access to lucrative daily quests as shown above while holding one of these stones. 

While I am not seeing a ton of PVP happening over them yet on my PVE RP server, I have heard they are extremely contested on the PVP servers.  Currently in most of the zones I have found them in, they are located in poorly defensible locations.  Which would make it hard to hold the stone against opposition for long.  But hopefully there will be some ancient stones in areas that can be held much in the same way as keeps were in Dark Age of Camelot.

The Future?

Since the wardstone is at is most simple level a control point for your faction, I think in the future these will be the way to work more world pvp into the game.  Access to daily quests is nice, but to get players actively controlling them there needs to be a bigger carrot at the end of the stick.  In Warhammer online, controlling keeps gave you access to the tier vendors.  While I am not suggesting going that far, I think holding an ancient wardstone should give the players access to something unique and otherwise unobtainable.

One of the concepts I have always liked is that of the frontiers from Dark Age of Camelot.  It would be nice as we go forward to see Trion implement a series of zones with towns and defensive structures that can be taken and held by a specific faction.  I agree mostly with their decision to make player town wardstones off limits from the opposite faction, I feel there should be an area of the world where that is completely viable.

One of the big things holding many of my friends back from joining Rift is what feels like only rudimentary support for the pvp community.  I am not saying world pvp or RVR is going to necessarily fix it, but I think with the existing infrastructure in place for taking and holding an ancient wardstone it is a logical step forward to implement something like that.  I am not the kind of player that can be swayed much by battlegrounds, but I have always enjoyed keep raids because of the epic feel of taking and holding a world objective as opposed to an instance that only lasts as long as the match.

Rift 1.02 Patch Rundown


Taking a quick break from the “Why You Should Be Playing Rift” series to throw up a semi related post.  Today a deceptively small patch was applied but it has some pretty major ramifications for the players.  You can view the full patch notes in their unadulterated form here, but basically the patch can be divided up into three major features.

Coinlock Feature

COINLOCK FEATURE — Account Security
* If your account is logged in from a significantly different location, your characters will be ‘Coin Locked’ until an additional ownership verification is made.
* A Coin Locked account will receive an e-mail to their registered account address containing a code to enter in-game to unlock the account.

* A Coin Locked icon will appear on the bottom center of your screen if your account is in this state.
* While you are Coin Locked, characters on your account cannot:
– Access the Auction House.
– Send Mail (can still receive and view mail or remove items).
– Sell to vendors.
– Salvage, Runebreak, or destroy items.
– Trade.
– You can continue to play and gain coin and items, but cannot get rid of them.

* If you are Coin Locked, click on the Coin Lock icon and enter the code found in your e-mail from Trion.
* You can also have Coin Lock emails re-sent to your email address by clicking the button on the Coin Lock interface.
* Once you have verified ownership from a new location, that location is whitelisted for future account access.
* If you cannot access your email or are otherwise unable to change your Coin Locked status, contact Customer Service.

For the last few weeks the assault of hackers of players accounts has become epidemic.  This is a new paradigm in the MMO industry, never before has a brand new game been assaulted this quickly and this thoroughly by the goldseller community.  Trion has been quick to address things like spammers, and this patch adds additional features for that as well, but protection against account hacks takes time to design and develop.

That said… we are still seeing countermeasures roughly 3 weeks after release of the game.  I think by anyones gauge that is extremely fast service.  So far all of their bug fixes have been extremely timely and setting a new standard.  It will be extremely hard to go back to the previous norm of having bugs that are not “exploits” take months (if ever) to get fixed.

This seems like it will work a lot like the system WoW has put in place after years of being deluged with hacks.  Primary difference here is that you can still play the game, you just can’t remove anything from your characters.  I think overall it’s a better solution since if you want to log in to check on something from a friends house, you don’t have to go through the rigmarole of unlocking your account just to get into the game.

Lessening Mob Aggro and Dismounts

* Made a number of changes to how NPCs react to higher level characters:
– Characters under the effect of Exposed no longer have an additional chance to be dismounted.
– Reduced the minimum aggro range of monsters significantly below a character’s level.
– Increased the rate at which aggro range reduces as a character’s level increases relative to a mob.

This addresses one of the major rallying points of the complainers in the user community.  I personally did not mind it as bad as some, but I will definitely agree it was damned annoying when running through Freemarch at level 40+ and getting dismounted by a level 8 wolf.  Another major complaint was that the exposed debuff not only made you take more damage, but had a greater chance to get dismounted.

We will have to see how this shakes out in game, what I hope it does not do is make running cross zone completely safe.  Personally knowing that I could not outrun a mob meant that I was less likely to skip my way through content, or at least be more cautious as I do.  One of the things I have come to appreciate over time is that no matter what level you are, you are not the gods we were in WoW.  However these changes should make it much nicer for when a group is rolling from rift to rift.

Additional Spam Filters

* Reporting mail as Spam now works a lot more like the chat and /tell spam system.
* Sending mail that the game filter recognizes as spam results in an additional coin charge.
* Mail you receive that has been flagged as spam will go to the Spam tab of your mailbox UI.

As Trion buffed up their in game chat spam filters, it pushed spammers to start using the mail system.  We’ve all known the annoyance of getting to our hunting destination only to receive a mail message that sits there blinking incessantly, making you wonder will this be the 1 in 100 time someone actually sent me a real message.  The chat spam system has worked amazingly, and any improvement to the mail reporting system to make it more like that should be excellent.

I hope all of these changes send a clear picture to both the gold sellers and plat buyers, that this game does not want their ilk.  Trion has been criticized over the number of hacked accounts and the amount of initial gold spam, but I honestly feel they are doing as well as they could be for a fresh mmo right out of the gate.  Based on what has happened in previous major MMO releases like Aion and Warhammer, no one could conclude that the hacker community would get so sophisticated so fast.  Especially considering that it took years for WoW to reach the state it is, where basically if you are playing without an authenticator you are asking to have your items stolen.

Full Patch Note Listing

Rift 1.02 – 3/17/11

COINLOCK FEATURE — Account Security
* If your account is logged in from a significantly different location, your characters will be ‘Coin Locked’ until an additional ownership verification is made.
* A Coin Locked account will receive an e-mail to their registered account address containing a code to enter in-game to unlock the account.

* A Coin Locked icon will appear on the bottom center of your screen if your account is in this state.
* While you are Coin Locked, characters on your account cannot:
– Access the Auction House.
– Send Mail (can still receive and view mail or remove items).
– Sell to vendors.
– Salvage, Runebreak, or destroy items.
– Trade.
– You can continue to play and gain coin and items, but cannot get rid of them.

* If you are Coin Locked, click on the Coin Lock icon and enter the code found in your e-mail from Trion.
* You can also have Coin Lock emails re-sent to your email address by clicking the button on the Coin Lock interface.
* Once you have verified ownership from a new location, that location is whitelisted for future account access.
* If you cannot access your email or are otherwise unable to change your Coin Locked status, contact Customer Service.

* Reporting mail as Spam now works a lot more like the chat and /tell spam system.
* Sending mail that the game filter recognizes as spam results in an additional coin charge.
* Mail you receive that has been flagged as spam will go to the Spam tab of your mailbox UI.

* Made a number of changes to how NPCs react to higher level characters:
– Characters under the effect of Exposed no longer have an additional chance to be dismounted.
– Reduced the minimum aggro range of monsters significantly below a character’s level.
– Increased the rate at which aggro range reduces as a character’s level increases relative to a mob.
* Fixed Forest Disruptor companion so his footsteps are not as loud as a full-size Treant.

* Runic Descent: Expert: Corrected an issue where this instance could end with players still inside.
* As a result of the above change, the Captured Soul NPC will be re-enabled after this update.
* Moonshade Highlands: Rational Ward: Fixed issues with quest not updating.

* Greenscale’s Blight: Ongoing tuning for Duke Letareus, Infiltrator Johlen, Oracle Aleria, and Prince Hylas.
* Greenscale’s Blight: Prince Hylas is immune to player abilities that reduce healing taken.
* Greenscale’s Blight: Fixed an issue that could cause Greenscale’s protective Life Aura to occasionally not spawn.
* Akala: Reduced health of Stone Wardens in the Akala outdoor raid to make the first phase possible with 10 players.
* Akala: Akala’s Aegis of Stone and Gift of Laethys buffs can no longer be purged.