Ultima Online: Publish 98 Released Worldwide; New Event Arc May Involve Pagan

Something interesting may be afoot in Ultima Online.

Recently, Broadsword Online Games released Publish 98, the fall update for the game, to all servers. You may recall that it was released on the Test Center shard a little while ago; it was pushed to the Origin, Izumo, and Baja shards on August 8th, and then released to all shards a week thereafter:

We are pleased to announce that Publish 98 is in the process of being deployed to all shards. Publish 98 is full of new features, so make sure you patch up your client and check the notes for full release details. Please note that some features will not be available until certain dates.

As mentioned in the notes, Publish 98 brings our latest content arc, The Shattered Obelisk. Check out this page on the Shattered Obelisk for more details!

Now, a couple weeks ago, someone pointed out to me on Discord that there were some early indications, in a discussion on Stratics, that Pagan — the setting of Ultima 8 — would feature in an upcoming event arc in Ultima Online. In particular, this post caught my eye; the attached screenshot is titled pagan_spellbook.png.

And as of yesterday, there’s a rather more overt indication that this is so, with the kickoff of said new event arc. The arc is called The Shattered Obelisk, the first part of which — entitled The Not-So-Ordinary World — is now active.

Two short pieces of lore fiction, both written by EM Malachi, have been released with this part of the event: The Oracle and the Bard, and Enlightenment. Here’s an excerpt from the latter:

The pale stranger held up a silver talisman, a small shimmer of mana glowing across the surface. “I am here to heal you.”

The wretched woman gave a dismissive wave of a skeletal hand. “Magic won’t help us. The greatest mages in Britain turned us away in fear.”

“Their spell circles are children’s toys. I practice a magic far older and purer.” The healer moved the spell focus across the woman’s face, melting away sores and healing the skin. The ash pale face came alive with a rosy bloom.

The healer continued around the room, curing the rest of the outcasts. When she was finished, one who had been near death asked the question on everyone’s mind, “What happens now?”

Note, too, that some cover art (for lack of a better term) for The Shattered Obelisk was also released; it can be seen above. The font choice is one thing; it does invoke Ultima 8 a little bit. The background image is a rather more glaringly obvious reference; the pentagram only ever appeared in Ultima lore in association with Ultima 8, after all.

The Shattered Obelisk will be released in five parts, with each successive part coming out on Wednesdays for the next four weeks.

Oh, and it’s also worth noting that Broadsword Online Games are raffling off six grandfathered castles, which can be placed on the shard of the winner’s choice. Details about how to enter the raffle can be found here.