(Beta Testing Phase)
The following events occurred during our closed Beta testing phase, which ran for something like half a year before our launch at the start of 2005. This thread concentrates on the storyline fiction and commentary, and does not include such events as scripting contests, pvp tourneys, and the like.
The Rat King (whose name I forget)
The shard's first event, which set into motion the rest of them (rather accidentally, I might add)
(1) Enter The Rat King
The Rat King had kidnapped a noble lady by the name of Lady Kestrel. She was wisked away to Britain's sewers, where she was held captive in the typical damsel-in-distress-please-kill-the-villain style. At this point most of the server had meager fighting skills at best, and the ratmen, sewer rats, and other vermin in the sewers proved to be far too much to handle for some time. Eventually they mustered their forces and pushed through, finally taking the King out (note this was NOT Barracoon, but merely a buffed up brigand). Players were thanked with a treasure chest full of loot, a kiss from Kestrel, and (if i remember correctly) the Rat King's jester hat.
This event was such a hit that we decided to make the Rat King a persistant character, so we coded up the Vermin NPC's (the ones that spawn various rats when killed) - but a minor problem presented itself - we'd just KILLED the Rat King, so how could he be a persistant character?
(2) Meet Veska Valai
I believe the next event was where we introduced Veska Valai, our current (and at the moment quite ill) Royal Guard leader. I think this introduction was followed shortly by an invasion of Britain by rat forces, that were being controlled by the Rat King's disembodied spirit. This spirit was apparently a more malevolent being that had inhabited a brigand and exerted control over the rats to make himself king. So, yeah. "Hi, I'm Veska. By the way, your city is full of rats."
(Trivia: "Veska" originates from S.K.'s "Dark Tower" series, where Ves Ka means "the voice of," if I recall. Valai is the last name of Kes Valai, my Atlantic mage. "The Voice of (Kes) Valai" ... uhm, doesn't actually make any sense. SHHHH.)
(3) The Couple in the Hedge Maze
At a gathering in the throneroom of Britain, Veska spoke of a fellow in the hedge maze, a banished fellow by the name of Spencer, who might know a way to banish the Rat King's spirit once and for all. Once gated to the fort, the guard found that Spencer was off to kill some Orcs for their attacking his house (I believe the book is still there - it was a note left to let his wife know where he was going). At the Yew orc fort, we meet the drunkard captain of the Yew guards, Capt. Jeremy Farson (another DT reference). He and Veska spew insults back and forth with eachother for some time, and we discover that Spencer was captured, and would be executed in the morning. Remember, he was banished to the hedge maze, so he was to be arrested on sight by authorities. Veska takes his leave here because he can't be seen at a jail break, but says he can "look the other way." The people of the guard make their way to the Yew Prisons and talk to Spencer, who tells them to find his wife, Ezmeralda in the hedge maze, likely at the library to the north-west of the center. The library lead them to the pool nearby, where a player stole her dress from the ground, but gave it back (resulting in everyone getting +5 stealth earrings at the end - this was a conditional reward). It turns out Spencer had a habit of getting himself into trouble, and Ezzy had a knack for breaking him out of jail, so she blows up the back wall to his cell, and we all run out and return to the maze, where Spencer and Ezmeralda thank everyone (and hand out the above mentioned earrings). Spencer says he'll talk to his contacts to find out what they know about the Rat King, and we call it a night.
Commentary: This was the first MAJOR event that was actually completely planned and scripted/improvised from start to finish. The main hurdle here was that the server, at the time, was on my home desktop PC for beta testing, so it was laggy and a lot of people got dropped. This was when it became completely obvious that we needed a dedicated server.
As far as names and trivia are concerned, Spencer was named for an Atlantic Seer's RPC of the same name, back when there were still seers. My character, Locke, took to him as a kind of father figure, and was grief stricken when he died (killed in an Orc raid) - he held the lantern that Spencer would carry for a few years (though it had no significant properties).
Farson is another Dark Tower reference - I love this series.
(Live Phase - January '05)
(4) Richtor Sylver and the Demon Statue
Veska once again summoned the guard to meet with Spencer, who had a guest for us to meet - the oh-so-shady Richtor Sylver. Sylver claimed that a golden demon idol hidden beneath Britain would be the key to manifesting and ultimately destroying the Rat King, and set the guard off on a quest to locate the idol. After a great deal of searching, a rats den was discovered beneath the building behind WBB, where Veska rather violently interrogated an unusually coherent ratman - the statue had been moved to Buc's Den, in the underground tunnel system. What few guardmembers that made it this far discovered strange white ratmen, who held keys - keys to a white chest further down the tunnel, full of riches, and, yes, the demon idol in question.
When the idol was brought to Sylver and Spencer to learn how to use it, Sylver demanded his promised payment - something Spencer had neglected to mention before - of a ludicrous amount of gold, paid immediately. Needless to say, that kind of gold isn't carried with Veska, or the adventurers present, so Richtor took what he decided was the appropriate action, and stole the idol, making a getaway in classic thief fashion. While Veska was quite enraged with Spencer for his "memory slip," it was decided that the next action would be to track down Richtor and reclaim what the adventurers had fought for.
Commentary: As most of the shard is aware, I have a special place in my heart for thieves. This particular thief, Richtor, was the brainchild of our short-lived Seer Urath. Richtor is now dead - we'll get to that later. Veska has a tendency to get disturbingly violent and threatening at times, and I think this was the first minor indicator of that. I believe this was the last "ratmen" event - The shard had just launched, and soon ratmen just weren't a challenge anymore.
Trivia & Sights: While the albino rats are no longer there, the white metal box is still beneath Buc's Den, for the tourists among you.
(5) Tracking down the criminal
What do you do with a thief? Track his sneaky butt down, of course. My memory is a bit fuzzy on this one, but... Following an extensive series of both clues and misdirection (Richtor intentionally lead the Rat King's forces into a collision with the Guard, leaving a laughing note behind), the guard tracked Richtor down to his house in the Wind maze. The guard discovered that there was another party interested in the Demon Idol, by the name of Lord Keznathas. His forces were actively attempting to gain entry to the house, as well as attempting to exterminate the guard. Richtor's house was protected by a password barrier, with a clue hidden nearby. Fortunately the royal guard was able to beat back Keznathas' forces and gain entry to Richtor's house, where Richtor made a hasty escape thru a moongate, leaving the guard with a last puzzle of trapped chests. Soon after Richtor abandoned his hideout, elemental forces claimed it for themselves. The royal guard had regained the Demon Idol, and discovered a new enemy: The Decayed Legion.
Commentary: This event was a blast to set up, with 3 forces pursuing Richtor at once, and a tricky puzzle here and there. It took a while to come up with Keznathas' outfit, because I wanted something that screamed "EVIL!!!!" from the second you saw him. Eventually we learn that Keznathas is actually a lesser officer in the Legion.
I think this was one of the better events, with a minor setback or two (people getting lost in the chase, and the difficulty of the final puzzle - unscrambling the letters "A E L W H T" - a few people were stuck thinking the password was "The Law" which, smart as it was, was something a thief would most definitely NOT use as a password... I'm sure you can figure that one out for yourself, the house is still there.)
(Locking this thread until I'm done with the history - this could take a while.)
I give up. Retired from UO completely, 3/20/2012.