Krolvin Kounter!

(Yes. I am going to use K adjectives. Ks are Kool!)

I’ll have to get you all up to speed. Our anonymous reporter has continued to provide information although I have first hand knowledge of much of it. I’ll quickly catch you all up from where I left off.

Kragnack, the brother of Krentuk showed up with a proposition for the city. He asked its residents and Mayor Walkar to protect his half-krolvin son Falzcrow. Krentuk had marked Falzcrow for death. In exchange for protection of his son, and weapons superior to what the Krolvin used, Kragnack would attack the Krolvin stronghold at Glaoveln, the Krolvin island homeland.

A diplomatic meeting was arranged at the Drake Vanguard, a Wehnimer’s based local defense force, between Walkar and Kragnack nights later. Negotiations broke down as many residents and the Mayor were unwilling to provide weapons to a stranger. Refuge for Falzcrow was not an issue. During this meeting because Kragnack nearly became hostile Mayor Walkar ordered the militia to seize Falzcrow for his safety and to prevent escalations with Kragnack.

Mayor Walkar issued a short statement afterwards, “We are at war, and let us not forget that our enemy are krolvin.  To broker a deal with them where their demands are met in whole, but we are given only hope that their success bears us any good fortune, is a risk I am not willing to take.  Many will accuse of me taking a hostage to force Kragnack’s hand, but I do so as a safety precaution, and wish no harm to his son.  These are monsters, who willingly pillage, scalp, murder, and take whatever they want.  Let their nature never be overlooked.”

Later it was learned that Svardin, the leader of the Drake Vanguard, did provide Kragnack with the desired weaponry. It has been met with some heated responses, but I individually do not view it as betrayal. I do question the decision as those weapons can still be turned on us and we’re not in position to supervise their usage in the attack on Glaoveln.

A few nights later the toymaker Parlay arrived on his ship with umber sails, it was then used to board Krentuk’s personal ship, the Gzadmor gno Prozd, or “Pain of Night.” This is a level 130 area with groups highly recommended. It includes Slashers, Stormcrows, Bloodmasters, and the very dangerous Zealots.

Gemstone IV Class Dynamics

Gemstone IV is running a pay to play event called A Night at the Acadamy designed by the talented GM Alyias. A 3 hour quest/puzzle event with some undead creatures to inhibit you. It’s meant to have a roster of 10 people per run at a modest $17.95. 10 people is normally how large a group might be for an event run by a player organization or an invasion response force. We have invasions similar to say Rift where creatures poor out in areas they normally wouldn’t that drive storylines. A lot of the Krolvin story things I’ve blogged on has us in groups of about 4-10 combating the Krolvin invaders in the streets.

Day to day you have more of a solo, duo, or trio as a common hunting group. Most areas can be done alone and we don’t have heroic boss fights like your standard MMOs. Those characters are generally storyline NPCs that a Gamemaster (GM) controls. As I’ve been playing alts lately, which is rare for me, I wanted to kind of cover this topic and the Academy event is a good tie in to discuss group composition and class utility in the game.

In a lot of MMOs today you have the 3 archtypes. The Tank/DPS/Healer. Gemstone IV has somewhat different dynamics in that roles are less defined in rigid ways as the archtypes. It’s more in a Dungeons and Dragons aspect that you have utility and people who can perform tasks to meet every situation.

Geijon is a Warrior. We fill the sturdy attack role, but GSIV doesn’t have a aggro system. Warriors can use protect or guard to help misdirect attacks and being in groups has a force on force component and defense component that keeps our Defense Strength (DS) high when at even or greater/lesser numbers versus our opponents. We don’t have tanks at all in how they are viewed in other games, but if anyone fills a similar role it’s a Warrior. We also tend to be beasts of burden in some ways as we’re least effected by encumbrance, especially a Giantman Warrior such as me in carrying treasure and chests.

Wizards are powerful and popular, perhaps the most player class in the game. They can enchant weaponry (making it more powerful), have incredible spells, and serve an offensive attack role while bringing defensive and augmentative spells to the group. Spells in GSIV in some instances are either radius based by being in the group with a certain player or time based buffs that can be stacked prior to combat. Wizards have a great balance of both offensive and defensive spell capabilities and tend to be a strong duo partner in hunting in GSIV.

Sorcerers are similar, have strong incapacitating spells and offensive power with a good mixture of elemental and spiritual defensive magic. This brings up another topic in that we have spell circles. You have your base spell circle such as Sorcerer, Wizard, and you normally have two support circles. Sorcerers access minor elemental and minor spiritual circles making them well balanced in their defensive spellcasting role. Evialla plays a sorcerer and has been my primary companion for many years. It allows Geijon to be an adequate defensive fighter coupled with his dodge training and my personal playstyle of being an offensive minded player. I prefer to strike first rather than survive an attack, although I am not considered a weak defensive character.

Bards are excellent utility players. The can loresing to check what items do and magical properties contained, purify gems to make them worth more money, and are hybrids in the semi term. We use Pures (Casters), Semi (Utility/Mixture), and Squares (Non-caster/Martial) to explain our class roles, but they are less rigid as the DPS/Tank/Healer archtypes.

Rogues are stealth combatants that fight as Warriors do, but from the shadows and ambush. A lot of them are also known to use ranged weapons like bows and crossbows while serving as Locksmiths. Many rogues also train in spells in the minor elemental pool making them diverse and useful characters. Their services are often sought for after a party and can improve effeciency when in a party by picking locks on sight.

Empaths are the healers of the realm. They are also fantastic spellcasters and bring a lot of utility to groups in surviveability and escape/rescue situations.

Clerics are similar to Empaths, can be played as Holy Warriors and were popular in this form before Paladins were implemented, but they serve the second half of the rescue scenario or recovery piece in that they resurrect the dead. They also provide weapon blessing for combating undead, but it’s not exclusive to them. Spells effect undead and the Order of Voln, a player society, allows its members the benefit also.

Bards and Paladins are unique group boosting classes and add to your core power when present, while it doesn’t diminish the group not having them it’s a welcome addition. Many classes defensive spells are available from buffs or short duration items or imbedable magic items with limited charges. This provides a lot of diversity for say 3 warriors to hunt if they are properly buffed beforehand in many situations.

Gemstone has started to implement areas that are more group-focused/required such as the Scatter, a level 130 area, in the rift. The maximum level of a PC is 100 with continued skill gain afterwards through experience advancement. Even so a level 130 creature is powerful when stacked 1on1 versus a capped, as we call it, level 100 PC.

Kenstrom also introduced the Krolvin leaders ship, Krentuk, the Gzadmor gno Prozd (Pain of Night) as a level 130 group-focused ship.

As to alt characters personally I tend to focus on a primary character in most any game I play as I found I didn’t always invest the necassary time into them to get far with them. In Gemstone IV I played Geijon exclusively until probably 2010. I dabbled a bit with really low level characters that didn’t stick, but I’ve since played an Empath, Wizard, Rogue, and Cleric to the modest 20-35 range.

Klanging with the Krolvin

The Krolvin attacks on Wehnimers have continued. The settlers and the Krolvin have a rich history of antagonizing and war throughout history, but I’ll leave that up to you to research or I’ll cover at a later time. Two large attacks occured recently as detailed by (Anonymous). I will get to them, but I wanted to explain what a Krolvin is. Officially the krolvin warrior is an ugly, brutish looking beast. Shorter than most average men, the krolvin has a vaguely ape-like appearance. It has long dexterous fingers capped by long nails. Its skin is a grayish-blue and it has thick white hair covering its head and spreading across its shoulders and down its back.

They do have a half-krolvin mix as detailed under official documentation and it is a playable race. They were added around 2008 as part of the Gemstone IV conversion.

You can look at their background information and game statistics under Krolvin Culture. Here is a few slideshow pictures of what the Krolvin and Half-Krolvin look like.

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6/28

Huge waves of Krolvin ships docked on both the beach in Black Sands along the coastal cliffs and within Darkstone Bay. Krolvin Crossbowmen and rangers were spotted in numbers with bows made of limbs and flesh.

Krentuk waded into Town Square central and dispatched heroes for some time before being felled, but his corpse turned to ice and then mist and flowed away before returning later to wreck more havok.

Eventually enough ships were destroyed and the Krolvin along with Krentuk retreated.

6/29

I was present for a large portion of this night I think on Saturday, but I mistakenly left when Juramis did because everything had seemed to slow down. We discussed it Sunday night at the Gryphons meeting and Cryheart shared that the Krolvin had returned in force.

Juramis had instructed us to seek out the Archmage Pherantyr regarding amulets in the cities possessions. The Archmage was found after I left and It was around this time that the talismans alerted everyone Krentuk was in the area.

Eventually Mayor Walkar joined the fight, but was killed and Krentuk left a sack full of scalps with a note for the Mayor. When Walkar had recovered he went and recovered the sack from the Archmage Pherantyr. As it was written in Krolvin they took the parchment to the half-Krolvin shopkeeper, Cutlass, who runs the baitshop (I think). The note demanded three things: The head of Walkar, Wehnimer’s Landing to become a port city for the Krolvin, and lifetime enslavement for all the Landing’s residents.

Walkar refused (Unsurprised) we did fight demons with him recently and the fight continues!

Party like it’s 1999 (Website Design Time Capsule)

Over the years I’ve tried my hand at Website design. I’ve been lucky enough to make a career out of hobbies a few times in my life, but here is a look back at Website work I’ve done over the years with Cindy, the player of Evialla and various other sprites in my gaming career.

The earliest one I can remember is our first House Phoenix website for Gemstone III (The previous version of GSIV). It was rather good for the 1995-1999 era of web design using HTML. Here is a screen, we had a frame and no frame version, but the archives have lost the frame version.

I thought it was good for the era. This is one example page. The no frames version still partially exists on the wayback machine/internet archives. Here is that link:

I may hyperlink these later, but for now I’m going to let it ride.

http://web.archive.org/web/19990218074712/http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Chamber/1734/

Next we ran the House Velahr website in 1999-2004. We were a Dark Elf and evil race based RP guild on the Rodcet Nife server. This is an older capture, but the archive is well preserved into 2004.

The Archive for the original Velahr site is in pretty good shape. You can browse around it at: http://web.archive.org/web/20030418161622/http://velahr.netcoaster.com/index.php

Afterwards we transitioned to Everquest II in 2004 (The game launched in May) towards the end of our run in Everquest. We ended EQ around Gates of Discord as a guild, although we never disbanded and continued to play as a group. We played both games at Launch. Velahr is maintained in our own archive so it’s in better shape than the previous two, but remains incomplete.

It can be found here: http://gshousephoenix.com/HouseVelahr/index.php

Then in 2010 we came back to Gemstone IV in a larger capacity and resumed work on a House Phoenix website. It has a lot of the elements we learned from the EQ2 Velahr website and php tools from avahost.net. We also maintain the Order of the Silver Gryphon website. They do both look similar, but a simple classy look doesn’t disappoint.

For Phoenix we moved away from the dark palette we’ve often used to brighten the site as so much of it is in written story form.

House Phoenix can be found here: http://gshousephoenix.com/

Gryphons is a tough site to match. The Silver doesn’t mesh perfectly with text and it’s more of a biege red as part of the Organization’s colors. The site reflects them with a few difficulties, but we’re happy with how it turned out. The content is the biggest draw.

The Order of the Silver Gryphons is found here: http://gsgryphons.net/

Art through the years has always been done by Cindy (Evialla). I’ve primarily done coding and content work.

We’ve done a few others, but we’ve usually revamped them and incorporated them back into our other sites. Violetskyes comes to mind, but that is Cindy’s work.

I hope you enjoy this look back at amateur Web Design over the years. We’ve certainly improved and done a fine job, but as a hobby we’re not quite experts. Feedback is welcome on this blog posting as well.

What IS gemstone IV?

It struck me last evening that not everyone reading this blog will be aware of the game or its genre. As this certainly may serve to draw people to the game I will endeavor to explain and illustrate Gemstone IV, its history, and the playstyle.

Gemstone IV, previously Gemstone III and Gemstone II is a MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) and is the precursor to MMOs that would later become Ultima Online and Everquest. The GUIs of these games and Warcraft with chat based communication and overhead UIs still have a lot of the same elements as you’ll see in the screenshots below. This particular MUD is a fantasy based game with heavy player interaction and storytelling components. There is a strong social draw to MUDs, which present the storytelling as a more intimate affair that you feel that you matter and get to be an actor in the evoling story as opposed to someone interacting with the environment in an MMO. In MUDs and Gemstone IV you actually influence how a story unfolds and therefore the roleplaying elements can be more engrossing.

I started playing Gemstone III in I believe 1994, but for sure in September of 1995. I had previously had a Genie and Compuserve account then prodigy, which were available prior to AOL having the game available along with Neverwinter nights on it’s Online Gaming forums, but since it’s been so many years I can’t place the date. I began playing heavily in September 1995 until 2002 then sporadically through the years until 2008, with another sabbatical due to stagnation in the game expansion and GM (Gamemaster) driven stories. I’ve been a full time playing again since December 2010 and have continued at a regular playing schedule since largely due to GM Kenstrom’s storylines in Wehnimer’s Landing. The main city and hub of the world, in 1997 the city of Icemule and in 1998 Solhaven were added. Since that time multiple cities have been added, but for much of it’s existance the playerbase had a single hub city that remains the most popular.

The game is developed by Simutronics, who have other properties such as Dragonrealms and Cyberstrike, but as a piece of trivia are known for creating the HeroEngine in an attempt to make a graphical MMO that has since been used as the primary engine behind SWTOR (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic).

Here is a Screenshot of the Games User Interface:

Until about 2008 the GUI was static, but since then has been moded by programs such as Lich and Psinet based on Ruby coding that allows for additional scripts and userinterface modification. The map in the right corner is an optional popup along with some of the sidebar additions such as current buffs with durations on the bottom left and some of the injury data, XP gain, etc on the left sidebars.

The game itself operates in the middle section through command entry or click attacks on various hotbars on the righthand side.

For example my character Geijon would see an enemy, highlighted in yellow, similar to well known/friendly players in this screenshot you can see Lady Korinn, a ranger who has cast some beneficial spells on me. I would see the creature enter the area or room, feint it or fake an attack so it’s offbalance, headbutt it in the head to stun it, then smash it’s skull. The progression of combat is more step by step or a mixture of real-time combat with command entry similar to moves in table-top gaming. The best example I can think of is Final Fantasy 10 and it’s meter system. You are given roundtime or RT for certain actions, but the monsters continue to act regardless of your actions when in your vicinity.

The biggest draw remains the story engagement. Stories in Gemstone have run concurrently in some cases since 1996 to 2010 and some players have continually played for as many as 20 years since the games inception in 1990.

I’ll include my MMO timeline in a later blog, but I hope this helps. If you’d like to learn more read my upcoming blog on my website creation through the years for summaries on some of the stories I’ve aluded to here to gain a sense of the level of engagement within the Gemstone IV community.

The Rig

When you game, you gotta have a rig, right?

I have a Samsung 26.5 inch monitor. It’s amazing and I’m glad I have it since they are difficult to find in 1900×1200. They discountinued this one, but it works fantastically. The second monitor is a 24.5 inch HP and you can tell the size difference.

I always keep a notepad next to me for notes and things. Thats the Evo 4G, it’s about as common as a razor nowdays, but it’s a great phone. A pair of sony earbuds, my Linksys N+ rangebooster router, 20mg comcast RCA 525 modem, I had a motorola 5101 before that for years that worked great.

The rig itself I built in July 2010 I think. Its still difficult to beat as I built it for about $1500 and I’ve seen current rigs priced at $2100 that are equivalent. It’s got a Bloomberg 975, Asus motherboard, 6GB of gaming ram, a 1TB drive, and a Radeon 5870 in it. I’ve looked to upgrade the card, but the only thing superior seems to be the $500 plus cards or equivalents in the $200-300 range.

I do want to replace that printer. It’s standing on a leather foot rest, but it’s corded since my wife hasn’t allowed me to buy a wireless printer and since I don’t print much I haven’t overruled her.

I’ll double check these specs later and make corrections as necassary, but I gotta run.

Geijon in GSIV

The one that started it all. Before MUDs and the Internet really I played Nintendo games since I was about 7-9 when I got the first gaming system of my life in 1986/7. I was the first kid on the block with pretty much every system after that. Nintendo and Playstation 1 probably got the most usage. Nintendo (Mario and Zelda were of course well played, but Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior were easily my favorite games in hindsight. I’m glad emulators work. It brings back a lot of games. Tony Hawk 3 was amazing for the Playstation 2 and Gran Turismo. I’ll have to delve into those more some other time.

Gemstone III ruined a lot of high school because of the hours invested. I was still a jock though. Games was that thing I kept private. This was followed by Everquest, but I’ve played multiple games for a long time, even in the MMO realm. Here is a picture back in about 1999 by Trish who played Nenwavriana (Sadly lost touch with her and her husband)

Initially Geijon was more of a swashbuckler type and he wore brigandine armor into his mid-career. I changed his direction away from Sword/Board when we shifted to GSIV and I lost levels. I think I went from 73rd to about 56th at the time of conversion and I went full redux/plate at that time. Prior to that I played him more like a ninja as he had heavily offensive capabilities, but was lighter on the defensive side. With an Sorceress as my common companion, Evialla, or other Warriors, Cryheart, etc. I didn’t usually need a lot of defense as things didn’t live long. I’d say I was much more of a statistical anomoly prior to conversion.

As Gemstone aged and scripting, Lich, and Psinet came into play number crunching became the norm, but in 1995 when I recreated Geijon, he was Geion, his uncle, in 1994/95 I felt I was a bit ahead of the stat beasts we see today.

And without further ado, here is that picture of that time period. I’d say he looks older now, probably broader in the chest, and carries a maul vs. the Katana shown here. (Gaq actually wielded the Katana) back then it was incredibly hard to get a GM to alter a weapon to a Katana. I primarily used a Laen Broadsword from about 1998 onward (At 10x, with an 8x shield)

I still have the pants, a certain cleric hates them. Monk breeches along with the white bearskin cloak from Icemule’s Juggernaut in I think 1998.