Asheron's Call (AC) is a fantasy MMORPG for Microsoft Windows-based PCs developed by Turbine, Inc. It was released on November 2, 1999. Asheron's Call is set on the continent of Dereth and its surrounding islands on the fictional planet of Auberean. The game is played in a large, seamless 3D world that is occupied by thousands of players and NPCs.
Each character begins with a limited number of skill points, and base skills start at a level determined by a character's attributes. Gameplay involves earning experience points through a variety of activities, including engaging monsters in combat and fulfilling quests. The earned experience can be invested to improve the character's abilities by spending it on attributes (such as 'Strength', 'Coordination', and 'Quickness') or skills (such as 'Unarmed Combat', 'War Magic' and 'Melee Defense'). Every few levels, more skill points are granted, and if a character has enough skill points, they can 'buy' a new skill. Besides experience points, questing and combat also yield equipment such as armor, weapons, health potions, and spell scrolls. Many types of loot can be improved or imbued with special spells and effects via Asheron's Call's crafting system, known as tinkering.
Unlike most other games of this type, Asheron's Call rarely uses typical fantasy fiction to draw ideas from and instead creates its own, unique creatures. Instead of elves and goblins, a large majority of the monsters in Asheron's Call are completely original. Examples include the insect-like Olthoi, the cat-like humanoid Drudges, the giant grey-skinned humanoid Lugians and the reptilian Sclavus. Many unique races and creatures from Asheron's Call can be seen in Wikipedia's list of species in fantasy fiction.
Many elements of Asheron's Call are radically different from most other MMORPGs. For example, Asheron's Call does not divide its world into different level zones. While some areas are much more dangerous to players than others, there is nonetheless a mix of different creatures types that creates much more unpredictability than is present in other games. Another key difference is that Asheron's Call does not use character level as the major determinant in the outcome of a combat. Level simply determines what skills are available, and it is the skills and equipment of players and creatures that determine the outcome. Whereas in many games a player will be able to move a cursor over an opponent and instantly know from their level whether they will be successful in combat, in Asheron's Call a character might be able to defeat much higher level foes or lose to much lower level ones, again depending upon one's skill choices and equipment. As with the absence of specific level zones, this creates a higher degree of unpredictability than in most games of this type.
The game's currency is the Pyreal. It is an alloy of precious metals found on Auberean combined in some ratio with pure mana. Pyreal is also the chief constituent of the powerful Atlan weapons, named for Asheron's father, their inventor.
Vitae, the Latin word for "Life Force," is the vital statistic penalized temporarily upon death. A vitae penalty describes the effect of a temporary reduction in character strength upon death. This penalty results from the (intentionally) imperfect link between Isparians and the Lifestones which resurrect them. Said "imperfect link" refers to the magic Asheron has employed to siphon a portion of every Isparian's life to keep the trapped Empyrean alive, which happens with every death to the Lifestones. If a character is not bound to a Lifestone, they will still accrue vitae from death. As the character increases in levels, so too does the Vitae Penalty.
Player Killers (PKs) are those who choose to change their status to enable them to attack another PK in Player vs Player combat. On death they drop some of their items and the winner of the fight is allowed to take them. One server, Darktide, is dedicated exclusively to this style of gameplay. The lore reasoning behind this mode of playstyle is attributed to Bael'Zharon, the Hopeslayer. In swearing allegiance to him, the character sheds Asheron's protection from attacking each other and devotes themselves to warfare serving (preferably) the Hopeslayer. In many instances, people have shed Asheron's protection solely to stand against those who attempt to do evil.
ALUVIANS are a fiercely individualistic and warlike people, quick to anger but with a strong love of justice and fairness. Though often suspicious of things new and strange, they are friendly and always prepared with a little help if they can spare it. They are loyal to their feudal lords, but expect to be well-treated in return.
The first people to arrive on Dereth Island, the Aluvians, have settled in the fields and hills around Lake Blessed.
Desert-dwellers who favor knowledge and trade over war and bloodshed, the GHARU’NDIM are an eminently honorable, formal culture, but they also have a reputation for being somewhat distant and proud. Preferring to talk before fighting whenever possible, they speak with great politeness and formality, peppering their speech with honorifics and references to their national hero, the poet Yasif ibn Salayyar.
The SHO are a people for whom duty and self-discipline are the highest virtues. Though generally peaceful, they have raised warfare to an art form and a philosophy. While they are slow to be moved, they make formidable enemies - or lifelong friends.
The Sho have long been geographically separated from most other cultures. Now, on Dereth, they find themselves in unexpectedly close quarters with the Aluvians and the Gharu’ndim.
As much as it is possible to generalize about the character of an entire nation, the VIAMONTIANS, to put it mildly, are a proud and aggressive people. They glory in battle and conquest, driven by the ambitions of their lords and by a widespread love of combat and all its trappings.
Their history reads as a litany of battles, great and small, from clan squabbles over a herd of livestock to their massive campaigns of foreign conquest. The sources of their eternal war can be found in their earliest history. Their successes in war can perhaps be traced to their semi-mythical "Blood-Father," a man named Karlun.