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Brutal Holiday

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Every fall, we gamers get buried under a flood of A+ titles. Some deal with this by buying EVERYTHING. I take a slightly more... frugal approach.

I separate my games into "BUY" and "WANT" Last year my "BUY" list consisted of Fallout 3, GH: World Tour and Wrath of the Lich King. My "WANT" list was populated with titles like Prince of Persia, Dead Space and Fable II, a list I have only recently completed checking off. I'll look for the "WANT" titles around, and pick them up when I find a good deal. The rest of my time is spent playing the "BUY" games.

What's on this year's BUY list?

Modern Warfare 2

And the WANTs?

Brutal Legend
Assassin's Creed 2
Persona (PSP)
Dragon Age: Origins
Lost Planet 2

That's a tough list to swallow, especially with titles like BioShock 2, Darksiders and Mass Effect 2 waiting just around the corner.

But still not BRUTAL.

What makes the list BRUTAL?

Last week, I downloaded the Brutal Legend demo. I'll just say one, simple thing. METAL ****ING LIVES, BITCHES.

That thing got thrown on the BUY list overnight, probably bumping Borderlands to a WANT, since they come out around the same time.

If you have a 360 or PSP, definitely give the demo a try. COMPLETELY sold me in a matter of minutes. The entire time, I had the biggest smile on my face.

In celebration of Tim Schafer's tribute to all things awesome, I have started a Countdown to Rocktober 13th on Blip and Twitter. Every day, I'm selecting some choice metal to make love to your earholes.

Apparently, there's some sort of lawsuit over the term "Rocktober" and Activision is shutting down Double Fine's usage of the term, but screw that. Metal ain't about following rules.

Corruption, Part 3: No Hope

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(Read the previous entry here or refer to the Fiction Index for a full listing.)


Again with the bells.

Although, this time, Corrigan could not only hear them, but see them as well, for the bells were tolling within his skull.

After what seemed like hours, the pain subsided to the point where Corrigan dared open his eyes. He opened his eyes to nothing.

Panic instantly struck Corrigan. Light save me, I've been struck blind! Raising his hands to his face, Corrigan realized that he was not blind. Rather, he was enshrouded in total darkness. He was incapable of seeing anything more than a finger's length from his face.

Lost, confused, numb and alone, Corrigan lay on the floor. As feeling slowly crept back to his extremities, he began to wish it had not. Corrigan had no idea how long he was out, but every muscle in his body ached. Attempting to stretch his legs, he found the walls of his cell too close to extend them fully. After some small exploration, Corrigan discovered his cell to be no longer than five feet on any side.

Gathering his strength, Corrigan rose to his feet, but not fully. The cell was too tight in that direction, as well. Slumping back to the floor, Corrigan thought back to the events leading to his capture. Who was that Warlock? Was he even a Warlock? To his knowledge, Warlocks did not possess the power necessary to put down a Paladin in a matter of seconds.

After a seemingly endless time, Corrigan heard something. A light sound, almost a shuffling. As it grew closer, Corrigan realized someone was walking toward him. "Who's there? Why have you imprisoned me? What do you want with me?" Corrigan's pleas were met with silence. "Answer me!" Still, silence. The footsteps paused momentarily, and Corrigan heard his visitor place something on the ground. Slowly, the footsteps began moving away. "No, wait! I am a Paladin of the Silver Hand, you cannot imprison me like this." Alas, his words fell on deaf ears.

After his anger subsided, Corrigan moved towards the bars that made up one wall of his cell. Feeling around, he found a small bowl just outside. The bowl contained a broth of some sort, weak and cold. Corrigan gulped it down greedily, not realizing how hungry he was until the liquid was gone. The meal came nowhere close to satisfying him.

Corrigan began to search his cell, looking for any hope of escape. His search did not take long, as his cell consisted of nothing more than a stone floor and cieling, three stone walls and a barred gate of some sort of metal, iron most likely. The stone was smooth, with no flaws to be found. The iron was rusted, but still far stronger than Corrigan. The search also revealed no mattress, no straw, not even a place to relieve himself. He had been stripped of sword and mail, with only his under-pants covering him. Corrigan could only hope his stay would not be long, as it was definitely going to be unpleasant.

In time, sleep took him.

And so, the next several days, weeks, months passed. Corrigan had lost all sense of time. He could have been down there for hours or years. The time passed uneventfully. His jailer came and went, never making a sound but for his steps. After the first several visits, Corrigan gave up communicating. They kept him fed, but just enough to keep him alive. Water, bread, broth. Once his broth contained a piece of turnip. It must have been an oversight.

Left alone in the dark, Corrigan spent his time with the only activities available to him: sleeping and praying. Sleep came in fits. If he was not awakened by the vermin sharing his cell, it was the dreams. His malnourished mind was giving him bizarre, hallucinatory nightmares. He would wake with a start, but be unable to recall anything.

More distressing than his fatigue, prayer was equally unfulfilling as sleep. Despite his repeated efforts, Corrigan was unable to reach the Light. He was unable to plead to it for help. He was unable to draw strength and resolve from it.

For the first time in his life, Corrigan was truly on his own. He decided to make one last attempt at communicating with his captor. As his next feeding approached, Corrigan weakly called out. His voice had grown raspy from his tiredness and long silence. "Please. Speak with me."


He tried again on what he presumed to be the next day. "If you do not say something, I may die from madness."

Again, nothing.

At the end of his wits, Corrigan found himself actually sobbing when he was next visited. "If you will not speak, at least light a torch. Bring me a light so I may know the world still exists beyond these bars. I can take no more." Rather his words or his emotions got through, Corrigan heard the visitor hesitate, even if only for the briefest second. He could not let this opportunity pass. "Yes! A light. A torch, a candle, an ember, even. Return my sight, and I can carry on." The visitor stood there, silent as ever for a long moment, then turned and left.

Believing he had gotten through to the jailer, Corrigan anxiously awaited his next feeding. Bashing his head against the wall began to seem like a promising option if he was disappointed. In time, the footsteps returned. He was given his meager meal, but the footsteps did not leave. He heard a match strike, and a small candle was lit.

Even the tiny flame was too much for Corrigan's eyes. It took several minutes for them to adjust. A figure was seated outside his cell. Small, slender, perhaps even feminine. As his vision slowly grew sharper, a face came into view. A face with piercing green eyes.

"You! You're the woman from the city. You lied, you led me here. You're responsible for my torture."

"I am not responsible for your torture, Paladin. That has not even begun yet. I also spoke no lies. My sister was being held captive. I merely traded your life for hers."

"Then why help me now?"

"I may be outside these bars, but I am no less a prisoner here than you. I harbor no love for the ones who put you in here, and could no longer ignore your helplessness."

"So, you now have pity for me?"

"No, Paladin. Much like yourself, I am alone here. I have freedom of movement, but no companionship. They could decide at any moment that I have outlived my usefulness."

"Why now? Why not when I first called out?"

"I feared for my life. If I were caught speaking with you, I could find myself in the next cell. However, tonight, they are performing a ritual of some sort, preparing for your treatment on the morrow. I would like to bear my soul to you, Paladin. I have wronged you and would like your forgiveness. My life has not been an easy one."

"Very well, woman. It seems you have a captive audience. Speak, though you will not be likely to find forgiveness from me."

"My name is Sylphine, and this is my story..."

15 Things to Know Going into Aion



1: This game is all about balance. If one faction is outgrowing the other, it will be locked until the population levels out. If one server is growing faster than the others, same thing. It's annoying, I agree. However, we'll all be happier for it.

2: The game is new. TONS of people are wanting to get in. There will be waiting. From the Betas, NC knows what their servers are capable of. They have 2 options. Either slowly introduce the population to the servers, making sure everything is stable, or open the floodgates, crash the servers, then spend the first 2 weeks of their launch apologizing for crappy service. It's always better to start out small and expand, than to start too big and have ghost servers.

3: Q-U-E-U-E If you're going to cry about it, at least spell it right.


4: Lrn2Glide. Seriously, if you get good at it, you can navigate the map MUCH faster. Pressing the 'S' key, or whatever you have "Move Backward" bound to, will cause you to tilt your wings back, catching air currents. Timing this correctly, just before touching down, can enable you to glide almost endlessly.

5: If you're patient, you can repeat the first work order of any craft over and over again, until 40 Skill, FOR ABSOLUTELY FREE. This will give you a nice headstart on recipes and materials from all the turn-ins.

6: If you take your time and weave Auto-attacks in between your skills, you can deal MUCH more damage in a given amount of time. If you need burst, spam away. If something is going to live longer than your cooldowns, use timing.


7: Gladiators are best suited for Polearms in PVE and Greatswords in PVP. In PVE, you'll want the higher crit and top-end damage. In PVP, you'll want the faster speed and Accuracy.

8: Templars, use your Shield! You can usually do more damage with the ol' Sword-and-Board, since Templar has many offensive skills that trigger after a block.

9: Assassins, learn your Signet moves. These function similar to Combo Points for a WoW Rogue. Watch out, though! Some skills do not have 100% chance of applying Signets!

10: Rangers start out VERY slow. They are basically a Scout with a Bow for their first few levels. Once you gain more shots, they grow into a very powerful class. Stick with it!

11: Sorcerers should stick with Spellbooks, no matter how cool the Orbs look. The additional Macic Accuracy is invaluable, plus the Spellbook has a RANGED Auto-attack, and the Orb is melee.

12: Spiritmasters are currently a little broken. Pets cannot fly until the next major patch hits servers, and DoTs don't stack. They're still very fun to play, but currently represent the smallest portion of the active community.

13: Clerics are BRUTAL to level early on. They gain many healing and defensive skills after ascension. As such, they have to wait until later to start doing any respectable damage. Of course, being the most essential class in the game should motivate many to power through.

14: Chanters start off AMAZING, but slow down in the mid levels. Right off, they gain a few awesome offensive skills, but spend those middle levels gaining their buffs. Additionally, they learn very few healing skills outside Stigmas and higher levels. Once those mid-levels are over though, the class really shines.

The Most Important Thing

15: EYE-on

For more info, take a look at my Preview series:

Character Creation
Growth & Leveling
Getting Around

Aion Preview: Crafting

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Yesterday I previewed Gathering. Now, what to do with all that stuff?


Aion has 6 main crafts:
Cooking - Food buffs are very important in Aion, even moreso than in WoW and other games.
Alchemy - The same can be said for potions. Alchemy can also make Spellbooks and Orbs, Sorcerer and Spiritmaster weapons.
Armorsmithing - Makes Plate and Mail Armor, as well as Shields.
Weaponsmithing - Swords, Maces, Daggers, Greatswords and Polearms
Handicrafting - Jewelry, Bows and Staves
Sewing - Cloth and Leather Armor

For this preview, we're going to use Weaponsmithing, an awesome choice for my Beta Gladiator.

First off, find your trainer. In Pandaemonium, all the crafting trainers are in one section of the city. A small amount of Kinah will teach you the skill of your choice up to level 99.

To start crafting, simply right click on the appropriate table.

This will open the Crafting window. The window displays all recipes you know, and clicking on the recipe will display the necessary ingredients.

Starting a craft will open the same Pass/Fail Window as Gathering. Once the craft is started, the materials are consumed. You are also locked out from any actions while the Craft is working. So, if the Fail bar starts growing, you're stuck.

After a successful craft, many recipes will have a chance for a High Quality outcome. If this happens, a SECOND Pass/Fail Window will open, and attempt to create your HQ item. A White item will attempt to create a Green, Green to Blue and Blue to Gold. Some recipes can even "Double HQ."

Work Orders are the primary method of leveling your Craft. These are special quests you pick up fro your trainer. You can obtain the first one at Level 1, and gain a new one at 10, 20, etc. In these quests, the trainer will give you a special quest item, and ask you to make something out of it. This involves picking up a reagent or two from the nearby vendor and cranking them out. The crafting itself will raise your skill, not the quest. Instead, turning in the quest will grant you random reagents and even recipes!

I like this. Instead of cranking out random worthless items to level up, the Work Order system is much smoother. The only limit to your leveling is time and money. Also, since crafting items in Aion is a much more in-depth process, it makes your ACTUAL craft that much more special.

You CAN level any Craft in the game up to 399 skill. However, you can choose only two to "Master" beyond that. You can create 95% of available items at 399 skill, but only Master can make the best stuff.

That being said, I would not recommend attempting to level more than one Craft at a time. The Kinah investment required for each craft is overwhelming.

Bottom line: Aion's Crafting system is incredibly robust. Much more fun, intricate and rewarding that WoW's, without being as mind-numbingly complex as Final Fantasy XI. I enjoy it greatly.

Aion Preview: Gathering

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Two epically awesome things about Gathering in Aion:

-All methods of gathering are shared within one skill
-You gain small amounts of experience with each success

This is the first Gatherable item you will come across in the game. Although, it is called "Azpha" in the current translation. It shows in the mouseover that it requires 1 Point in your Collecting Skill.

After Right-Clicking on the plant, a window will appear. In this window, the "Pass" and "Fail" bars will fill up semi-randomly, depending on your skill level. Pass? You get it. Fail? Try again.

Once you ascend to Daeva status, you're above gathering with your bare hands. Instead, your Collecting skill becomes "Extract Vitality." It functions exactly the same, although you can no longer gather in the starter zones.

In addition to Extract Vitality, you also gain the Extract Aether skill upon ascension. Aether is used in every craft, and functions slightly differently that Extract Vitality. Vortexes are only found in midair, and require flight to gather. The higher in the air a Vortex is, the higher level of Aether it contains, and the higher skill it requires.

Also, some items are obtained through old-fashioned farming. The pictured Refining Stones (now called "Fluxes") come in Weapon, Armor and Accessory varieties. They are random drops of just about any enemy, with higher-level enemies dropping higher level stones. Skins, hides and other goodies also drop off the appropriate enemies. In this way, you must balance mob-farming and straight-up gathering to be successful in Aion.

What Did You Do?

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As a Paladin, I try to fight on the side of good.

However, holding in all that righteous vengeance is difficult.

Look at this beautiful scenery:

However, one Paladin, pushed too far can wreak havoc like no other. I was cheated, insulted, poked and prodded. I could not be stopped.

I cannot be held responsible for my actions. I blame Syrana.

We Are Who We Think We Are

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I've had this post kicking around in my head for a few weeks now. So, why drop it now, in the middle of all my Aion coverage? As usual, I blame Syrana.

Yesterday, she wrote a wonderful post about online interaction, followed up by another good read from Byaghro.

What makes it so much easier to drop out of sight over the internet and not in real life? Well, I'm going to take a more sideways look at things. Strap in kids, because even I don't know where this ride is heading.

Many people just don't understand how people can form bonds over the internet, over the phone, or by any means of communication other than face-to-face. Honestly, they come from a different universe than the rest of us. By "us" I mean anybody taking the time to read this post of their own volition. This conversation is naturally going to attract the more... connected among us.

Let's face it, someone who takes the time to read and write blogs about freaking computer games likely comes from a different time. A time when you were DEFINED by your screen name. Back when bulletin boards and chat rooms were our primary, hell ONLY way to contact each other, you weren't YOU. You were your screen name. You were unique. You were who you wanted to be. If you actually had a webpage, it wasn't about YOU, it was about what you liked, what you were interested in, in hopes of attracting like-minded individuals.

For several years, I WAS Prometheus. Prometheus was not a role I played. That was me. Prometheus was all the parts of myself I wanted the world to see, without everything else attached.

Prometheus became Ralken, and Ralken was soon Samodean.

Am I Samodean? Yes. Is Samodean me? Not really. Samodean is my persona. Samodean is the mask that I show the world. Samodean is a part of me, but not the whole.

Today's generation of the "recently-connected" does not use a persona. (By generation, I mean in a social and technological sense, not age-related.) They are online as themselves. Their MySpace, FaceBook, LiveJournal, Twitter and WhateverTheHellElse reflect themselves. They're out there, with no shell to protect them. THIS is why they do not interact in the same way that we do.

Our personae allow us a certain freedom that they lack. Of course, there are two ways to use an online persona.

First, you could prove the theory. (Warning: dirty language) When unrestrained with consequence, these people choose to pursue their base instincts. They demonstrate the worst of Alpha Male (or Female) tendencies. They can be vulgar, racist and just downright sub-human. These are the people that play Halo 3 on Xbox Live. These are the people who hit on random female character in Goldshire. They don't care about anything, but rather, just want to live out the things online that they could never get away with in real life.

Conversely, there are many who take a small bit of that thinking and do something positive with it. They want their persona to be what they feel to be the best they could possibly be in real life, without certain problems holding them back. "Sam" and I are very similar. Sam is what I would be if I were more confident in life. Sam can pursue trains of thought where I would be bogged down with doubt.

There is nothing in Sam that does not also exist in me. Where does this "false life" get me? I find myself actually channeling the Samodean personality in life. These days, my coworkers get more "Sam" than they do of my true self. Does this mean, I'm acting as my persona in life? I'd like to think not. I like to think of it as me actually improving as a person. I'm actually gaining the confidence that I should have rightfully been mine my whole life.

So, where does all this chatter about personae get us? When I meet someone online, I am not meeting them. My persona is meeting their persona. The BEST of me is meeting the BEST of them. It is much easier to form a bond, as we do not fear any repercussions from it. If I am rejected, what does it matter? It's merely Sam that has not made a friend, not me. Sam gets over stuff like that easier.

The FaceBook crowd have no personae to put out front. They are who they are, and are such less likely to risk embarrassment or rejection.

When you meet someone in real life, you don't instantly put yourself out there. You slowly give out small parts of yourself, your personality. Does every person I meet know I love comic books and anime? Does everyone Syrana talks to know she's a closet Jonas Brother fan? No, there is a certain stigma attached to those things, and I refuse to suffer their judgment. Now, once I've gotten to know someone a little better, sharing small bits of myself, and learning bits of them as well, I may feel more comfortable sharing things with them. This is how people become friends.

This long, personal process is so valued, the connections we make so valued, we strive to keep them intact.

The e-friends we meet? Our Twitter followers and guildmates? Without the time and devotion of forming that personal bond, we really don't think twice about what happens when we lose contact. This does not mean we cannot form meaningful relationships online, it merely means we are less likely to. There are very, VERY few people I've interacted with online that I have ever shared anything personal with. When there was a final logout or server change, when they connection was lost for whatever reason, I felt it, the same I would if a real life friend moved away.

Author's Note: This post is being published unedited, with the exception of grammar and spelling. I want this preserved as what I think. Whether it makes sense to a reader or not, I cannot confirm. Whether it's actually informative to the issue presented, I hope. This is the inner thoughts of myself, not "Sam." It will probably be one of the few, perhaps only times I write as such.

Aion Preview: Itemization

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This part of the preview will take a look at all the nifty items and goodies that make Aion unique.

Power Shards are random drops off just about any mob in the game. They can also be bought from certain vendors.

You equip Power Shards in the small slot just above your weapon. At any time, you can press the 'B' key (default) to activate them, and increase your melee or ranged damage. This only affects autoattacks, and will consume one shard with each one. This is by no means a method for steadily increasing your DPS, due to the cost factor. Rather, it provides a nice boost when you need it. More powerful shards will drop at higher levels.

The two greatest buttons ever. First there's the "Sell all misc" button you see in shops windows. This will automatically add any gray, useless items in your inventory into the Sell window. Second is the one I've circled in the image. That is an "Automatically organize inventory" button. For people plagued with cluttered inventories, this button is a savior.

What about that inventory? You only have one "bag," a Horadric Cube that is able to defy the laws of physics through magic, of course. The default cube only has 27 slots, but can be expanded up to 54 by speaking to NPCs like this guy. This costs an ever-increasing amount of Kinah with each expansion.

Have I mentioned Shugos yet? Shugos are the most awesome race in any game I've ever played. Nyerk!

Manastones are a great mechanic that allows you to further customize the stats on your gear, much like the Gems in WoW. EVERY weapon or piece of armor in the game has sockets in it. 1 Socket for a basic piece of gear, and more as quality increases. There's a catch, though! Manastone socketing can FAIL. If it does fail, ALL Manastones in that piece of gear will be lost. This mechanic really bothers me. It seems to have no purpose other than to drive the cost of the more popular stones up. Nothing sucks more than dropping a bunch of Kinah on Crit Stones, socketing 3, then having the 4th fail and losing them all. Just like Power Shards, Manastones are random drops.

What's this?

It's a Private Store.

While us Western gamers love our Auction House, Eastern gamers prefer Private Shops. Aion, like some games before it, offers both options. Now, for many instances, the Auction House will be the better place for selling goods. All those Private Shops crowding the entrance to Pandaemonium? Once their owners realize nobody is going to stand around and look at random junk in 50 different shops, they'll dwindle out. However, they can be useful. Have a bunch of herbs you want to unload fast? Set up shop in the Alchemy Lab!

Another interesting innovation is Extraction. Buying a set of Extraction tools allows you to basically "Disenchant" one of your items.

This will create an Enchantment Stone. The level of the stone depends on the level of the item. Then, you can apply these stones to your current equipment to make it more powerful.

As you can see here, my Spear of Karma is now a +1 Spear of Karma, with +4 additional damage. Again, beware! Just like Manastones, Enchanting can fail. Unlike Manastones, a failed Enchant will not drop you back down to nothing. Instead, it will drop your level by 1. If I failed to Enchant the spear a second time, it would drop back to its basic state. A failure at +9 will drop it to +8. The failure rate is affected by the level discrepancy between the stone and the item. This is to prevent someone from Extracting a bunch of cheap, low-level items to max out a high-level one.

Aion Discussion: Flight


As we have established, one of Aion's core gameplay elements is flight.

One thing I am absolutely SICK of hearing is "WAAAAH! But we can't fly everywhere."

Stick it.

First of all, the lack of free flight is supported in the lore. Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken. Sprouting wings from your back does not enable you to defy gravity. Flight in Aion requires the presence of Aether to work. It's magic.

Second of all, free flight in MMOs sucks. Yeah, I said it. What you gonna do about it?

The allure of an MMO is playing in a vibrant world. A world with people in it. Go to any zone with flight in World of Warcraft and do a /who to see how many people are there. Then, try and see how many you can actually FIND.

Don't get me wrong, flight is a wonderfully convenient way to get around the world. However, it completely destroys the feeling of playing a multiplayer game.

Also, maybe it's just me, but I prefer traversing by ground. I love actually experiencing the world that the developers have worked so hard on. With flight, that "world" just becomes "distance."

So, no. You cannot fly everywhere in Aion. You can, however, fly everywhere that it's important. The Abyss is a total free-fly zone, bound only by your flight timer, and even that can be easily extended.

Stop flying. Start experiencing.

Aion Preview: Getting Around

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Yes, yes. You can fly. Let's start off a bit more... basic.

Yay! It's a map. Just like everything else in the game, Aion's map is beautiful to just sit and look at.

But wait, there's more!

If you press the 'N' key instead of 'M' (defaults) you get a cool translucent menu. Very handy.

Now, check this out. I have this Karniff selected. Check out the minimap and you'll see a small orange circle around his dot. That is his aggro radius. This is an excellent tool to have.

Not content to just sit your butt on a bird, Aion's flight paths are a little more... dramatic.

In addition to flight paths, Teleporters exist in the game in major cities and certain towns.

Flight will be a post of its own. See you tomorrow.

Aion Preview: Growth

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Throughout Aion, you will fight, quest and gain experience. You will grow in level and gain new skills. Let's take a quick look at some of the interesting takes Aion has on advancing your character.

This is what you'll see when you first log in. Basic skills, basic gear, basic everything.

In the starting areas, and later the capital cities, you will find Class Trainers. Instead of teaching you skills directly, they will instead sell you manuals that you can then use to teach yourself the skill. While this may not seem terribly fantastic, there is no level requirement for actually BUYING the manuals. Have you ever found yourself in town one or two bubbles away from leveling? How much of a pain is it to go out, then come back for training? In Aion, you can just buy your manuals, then use them in the field immediately after reaching the correct level.

Notice how brave Samo is now Treasure Hunter Samo? Finishing certain questlines, exploring the world, advancing your character and even crafting will grant you titles in Aion. Hold on, there's more to titles than just looking cool.

Titles also grant stat bonuses! As you can see, my "Treasure Hunter" title grants +4 Accuracy, which increases my chance to hit and critically hit. As you progress through the game, you will accumulate a wealth of titles, that you can change out as the situation demands. That is, you will unless you just power through the game, plowing headlong to the level cap. If you want those stat bonuses, you actually have to experience all that the game has to offer. I LOVE this idea.

Of course, there is one thing that separates Aion from its competitors.

Upon completing your level 9 Ascension questline and choosing your advanced class, your character becomes a full Daeva, complete with wings.

Aion Preview: Death

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In my last preview post, I mentioned that combat is more difficult in Aion than in many other MMOs that most are used to. You will die. It's going to happen. I'm the freaking man, and even I went down a couple times.

This is what you'll see when you die. Once again, I've used my expert image editing skills to point something out. See that little part of your experience bar that's darkened a bit? Yeah, that's the experience you lost from dying.

I know this may seem insane to some of you out there, but look at it this way. EVERY game needs some sort of penalty for death. Otherwise, why let players die at all? For example, WoW had its players lose Durability on their equipment, requiring them to spend money repairing it back. Fine, die too much and it hurts your pocket.

Now, Aion's equipment does not have Durability, so that's out. On the bright side, it's not as unforgiving as Final Fantasy XI, where your lost experience was just *poof* gone, even causing you to LOSE A LEVEL occasionally. No, in Aion, you can get your lost experience back, for a price. So, while the direct penalty for death is a loss of experience, the only lasting penalty is a loss of Kinah, Aion's currency, just like WoW.

When you enter a new town, you will usually find an Obelisk. Paying a small fee will allow you to bind your soul. After death, you will resurrect back at whichever Obelisk you are bound to. Additionally, you can purchase items called Kisks, which will serve as temporary Obelisks.

Nearby Obelisks, you will usually find a Soul Healer. For a price, they will return your lost experience.

So, yes, for someone who has not played any MMO other that World of Warcraft, Aion's death system can seem unforgiving. However, if you take a closer look at it, and compare it to other games in the genre, it fits the game it was designed for nicely.

Corruption, Part 2: No Good Deed...

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(Read the previous entry here or refer to the Fiction Index for a full listing.)

Bells. Again, Corrigan wakes to the sounds of bells tolling. This is not the single, small bell from Northshire Abbey, however. This is the glorious melody of the Cathedral of Light in Stormwind. Every morning for the past week Corrigan has woken to their sound.

Every morning since he became a Paladin.

Halfway through his morning prayers, Corrigan was interrupted by a knock at the door. "You may enter." A young squire, no older than fourteen years stepped in.

"S-Sir Corrigan. Sir Duthorian Rall wishes to see you."

"Thank you, boy. Please inform Sir Rall that I will be with him at the completion of my morning devotional."

"Does Sir feel it is wise to make an officer wait?"

"I am sure a Paladin as tenured as Sir Rall will understand my wish to speak to the Light and ask it for strength. Now, deliver the message, if you please." The squire nodded and set to his task.

After completing his prayers, Corrigon donned the plate of his order and quickly made his way to the main hall of the Cathedral, where Duthorian was awaiting him. Duthorian was a veteran of many campaigns, and had earned his station in Stormwind. However, one look at the man made it clear that he was ready to defend the city, its people and his Faith at a moment's notice.

"Sir Rall, you wished to see me? I hope you do not mind me finishing my morning prayer before coming down."

"Not at all, Corrigan. Far too many forget the importance of dedication to the Light these days. I am happy to see a young Paladin such as yourself knows what is truly important in life. However, it is also unwise to make a superior wait. While I understand, Hiighlord Bolvar may not."

"Highlord Bolvar... Fordragon, Sir?"

"None other. You are to take this intelligence report from the Northern Continent to him. Our enemies appear to be stirring. I cannot trust this to a simple squire, as high station always attracts dark powers with prying eyes."

"Yes, Sir!" Corrigan took the report and made his way to the Keep with all possible haste. Sir Duthorian's words troubled him, but now was not the time to ask questions. He did not want to make the Highlord wait any longer than necessary.

Of course, Bolvar Fordragon was a busy man. After waiting for his chance at an audience, Corrigan was sent off with nothing more than a "Thank you, Paladin. That will be all."

On his way out of the Keep, Corrigan paused to view an altercation. Two guards were restraining a woman, yelling, screaming, kicking and fighting, while their captain tried to reason with her.

"You MUST let me see the Highlord! I need his help."

"Highlord Fordragon is far to busy to give private audience with a commoner. If you require assistance, please see the city watch."

"Don't you think I've BEEN to the city watch, you dolt? They're not willing to help me, NOBODY is! She's running out of time!"

Corrigan's curiosity and sense of duty got the better of him and he stepped forward. "Captain, may I be of assistance?"

"Be my guest, Paladin. I've heard enough of her shrill voice for one day. Men, escort the lady outside the Keep. Sir, she is all yours."

After stepping back into the city, Corrigan turned to the sobbing woman, "What is the problem, ma'am?"

"Finally, SOMEONE in this city who cares about common people. You must help me, Sir, they've taken her!"

"Calm down. Who has been taken, and by whom?"

The woman looked up into Corrigan's eyes. Looked up with eyes of the most radiant green Corrigan had ever seen, a green so shocking that it did not seem possible for a mortal to possess them. "Sir, kind Paladin. It is my sister. She has been abducted by Warlocks. They have taken her to the Slaughtered Lamb tavern. I fear she may come to great harm at any moment. There is no time to waste, you must help her!"

Again, Corrigan's head was filled with questions. Again, time was a factor, and he was prevented from asking any of them. He just had to trust this woman, who would concoct such a story if it were not true? "Wait for me at the Cathedral. I will return with your sister, worry not."

Corrigan ran across town, to the Mage Quarter. He knew the Slaughtered Lamb, if only by reputation. It was said that dark mages practiced their crafts within its walls. They were allowed to remain untouched, as there was no proof of any wrongdoing. However, if they truly had abducted a girl, the time for action was at hand.

Corrigan stepped into the tavern and looked around. The common room was empty, but he could see a passageway descending before him. Step by cautious step, Corrigan made his way down, listening, feeling for anything out of the ordinary. Twenty paces down, Corrigan started feeling queasy, surely something sinister was at work below. Further on, Corrigan heard a noise behind him, almost the hiss of a snake. Turning his head, Corrigan looked back to find nothing.

Upon turning back around, Corrigan found a large, hooded figure standing mere inches from his face. The hood was drawn so far forward and the passage so poorly lit, that nothing but a dark void was visible within. Before Corrigan could draw his sword, or even cry out, the figure whispered a single word.


Instantly, Corrigan's vision blurred. Within seconds he was falling to the floor. He blacked out before he made contact.