The Ultima Codex http://ultimacodex.com The Ultima Fan Network Fri, 29 Jul 2016 18:45:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.3 http://ultimacodex.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/cropped-ultima-codex-favicon-150x150.png The Ultima Codex http://ultimacodex.com 32 32 For The King: Beta is Coming http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/for-the-king-beta-is-coming/ http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/for-the-king-beta-is-coming/#respond Fri, 29 Jul 2016 18:44:47 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=59913
for-the-king-oarton

IronOak Games have published another update on the For The King Kickstarter page, and it brings exciting news: the beta version of the game is nearing release!

As you might have deduced by now, we’re running a little late with our closed beta. We’ve been working really hard the past month on all things beta related and it’s so very close to being ready. Thank you everyone for your patience, hopefully we should have it finished in the next couple of weeks. We’ll be sure to keep everyone updated when it’s finally ready.

And, of course, they’ve made a number of improvements to the game since last we heard from them:

We’ve recently implemented ragdoll deaths to add more physicality and environmental interaction. Needless to say, the results have been fantastic. No two battles end the same and there’s a great mix of vicious and hilarious deaths.

Tons of work has been put into the story and story elements. The cultists have made their first appearance. However, if you want to find out what they’re up to you’ll need to make it to the bottom of the mines.

A whole bunch of balancing, new items and weapons and new encounters have been added, and while we still have tons to go, the variety already feels good. A ton of work has been put into the sea realm and Kraken battle as well. It’s still rough, but feels epic as is.

Also, IronOak will be showing off For The King at PAX Prime, so if you’ll be attending that particular conference in early September, do be sure to check them out.

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New Release: Underworld Exporter http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/new-release-underworld-exporter/ http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/new-release-underworld-exporter/#comments Fri, 29 Jul 2016 13:44:29 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=59901
underworld-exporter

Hank Morgan has created a utility that exports levels from Ultima Underworld (support for System Shock and Ultima Underworld 2 is planned) into the Unity game engine. The Underworld Exporter automates what would otherwise be the arduous task of re-creating Ultima Underworld usingUnity; it implements a new AI that mimics what the original Underworld AI was capable of, exports conversations (supporting, at present, almost all conversations in the game) and generates C# scripts in Unity to implement them therein, and even re-implements elements of the classic Underworld interface…with (as can be seen above) a few changes. Animated textures from the original game are also supported, as are light sources — which Hank Morgan is aiming to improve upon slightly, thus making having (or lacking) a torch a more central component of gameplay.

Other supported game features include lock picks and keys, edible food, useable potions, music, weapon animations and combat, animations for some objects (e.g. fountains), NPC animations, triggers and traps, fishing, Warren the spectre. Work is also being done to further improve the AI, to better support the magic system (almost all player-castable spells are supported, but additional work is needed to make the system work better within Unity), to allow the player to move between levels, and to add persistence to levels. Further on down the road, Mr. Morgan intends to implement the RPG systems of the game as well.

As you might expect, there’s now a shiny new project entry for this utility, whereat you can find a download of a sample level created with it (it can also be downloaded from MediaFire).

And here’s a demo video of an exported level:

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Das Tal: New Patch; Get a Free Gamescom Ticket http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/das-tal-new-patch-get-a-free-gamescom-ticket/ http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/das-tal-new-patch-get-a-free-gamescom-ticket/#respond Thu, 28 Jul 2016 23:42:10 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=59908
DasTal_z7

Fairytale Distillery have released another patch for Das Tal:

We have just released a small patch with a big impact on server performance and some minor balancing tweaks and fixes. Next to-do: Even better server performance.

  • Smarter static collision to reduce server performance with higher amounts of players.
  • Added a proper error message when the game cannot save the world map due to access rights issues.
  • The target preview for projectiles is now more accurate.
  • Increased the amount of essences (XP items) dropped by mobs and events by about 2x.
  • Increased the amount of meteors and carcasses spawned by 33%.
  • The world map is now properly centered on your character.
  • All map markers can now be toggled on and off.
  • Fixed some typos in pop-up messages and skill descriptions.

Additionally, the game will evidently be present at Gamescom; the alpha version will be playable there. The real name of the game — Das Tal is, evidently, just a working title — will be revealed there, or so I have heard. But of perhaps greater interest to people is the fact that Fairytale Distillery evidently have a few free tickets to Gamescom (which is sold out, apparently) to give away:

This year we are going to be part of gamescom with an amazing booth sponsored by our friends at Teamspeak. We’re going to have a dozen gaming stations on the show floor and a live stage where  up to 10 players compete in PvP fights broadcasted to a massive LCD screen and the web. We are planning 1on1, 2on2, 3on3 and 5on5 fights as well as “siege fights” with all players on the booth.

Do you want to be one of the players on the big stage?

Then fill out this application form. Selected players will get access to the live stage and – if needed – we’ll provide you with tickets for gamescom itself.

That’s fairly self-explanatory, I’d say.

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The Akalabeth Port for Commodore 64 Has Been Released (Sort Of) http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/the-akalabeth-port-for-commodore-64-has-been-released-sort-of/ http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/the-akalabeth-port-for-commodore-64-has-been-released-sort-of/#respond Thu, 28 Jul 2016 22:32:14 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=59904
Akalabeth-C64-0-anim

Dungeoneer Games have released — albeit, for now, only in a limited run of fifty copies on 5.25″ diskettes — Andrea Schincaglia’s Commodore 64 port of Richard Garriott’s Akalabeth:

Finally, after 36 years, with Lord British’s blessing, we are proud to present – in a limited edition disk version (#50 copies only available) – Akalabeth: World of Doom for Commodore 64, based on the original Apple II version.

Akalabeth will be released only on real disk, as it was distributed back in the 1980 by Richard Garriott. However, since the amount of hand numbered copies is extremely small, be quick to order yours by email.

Despite the amount of work dedicated on this conversion, we have no interest in making any profit on it, but we will ask you only to cover our expenses: disk, label, envelope and stamps. The conversion itself can be copied and distributed freely.

There’s no word, at present, as to whether a disk image will be released for download, and obviously no additional diskette copies are available at this time (the first fifty having been snapped up in a matter of a few hours). But as an excuse to inaugurate the new Akalabeth subdomain, I have set up a project entry.

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New Releases: Ancient Legends, and the Outlaw Editor http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/new-releases-ancient-legends-and-the-outlaw-editor/ http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/new-releases-ancient-legends-and-the-outlaw-editor/#respond Thu, 28 Jul 2016 18:09:54 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=59897
ancient-legends-battle

While you’re waiting for the release of the still-in-development Lawless Legends, the developers have released another game for you to enjoy, which uses the same engine but features a fantasy setting.

Ancient Legends is described as:

…a fantasy Role Playing game made for the Apple II series of home computer created by 8 Bit Weapon and friends! The game was created as a DEMO for the Outlaw Editor!

The Story: You are Quinn of Thane, the westernmost island in Merkania. Since the last of great wars your family has lived in peaceful seclusion for generations. Raised on ancient legends, you have often dreamed of exploring what lies beyond the island. You surmise that dark times must have befallen the mainland, as dark creatures now sully the sanctuary of your island home as well.

Now you are the last of your line and have decided to venture to the mainland and seek your fortune! You pack your things, take your family’s heirloom amulet for luck and enter the forest for adventure…

You can find downloads of Ancient Legends in this news post at the Lawless Legends website, or at the newly-created project entry here. The game is available as Apple II disk images, so you’ll also need an Apple II emulator to play it.

Ancient Legends was created, in effect, as a demo to herald the release of the Outlaw Editor, the RPG creation tool that is also being used to build Lawless Legends. Downloads of the Outlaw Editor are available at the Codex’s project entries for both Ancient Legends and Lawless Legends, or through the Lawless Legends GitHub repository. A manual for Ancient Legends can be found at this link.

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Dungeons of Chaos: Version 1.3.20 Released http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/dungeons-of-chaos-version-1-3-20-released/ http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/dungeons-of-chaos-version-1-3-20-released/#respond Thu, 28 Jul 2016 16:33:00 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=59893
dungeons-of-chaos

Volker Elzner has released another update for Dungeons of Chaos, his retro RPG for Android and iOS. Major changes in version 1.3.20 of the game include:

– added auto fight action to switch sprint on and off. so that your rogues don’t get ahead of themselves.
– fixed an issue where sprinting was not just faster, but lightning fast. should not be that fast. Sprint is 35% faster than walking, plus 4% per skill level. skill level shortens cooldown so there is double effect if you raise it.
– made ember orc lairs smaller, as it appeared too dull
– fixed issues with the pub quest if you do things in the ‘wrong’ order
– fixed an issue where 2nd page of map spells would execute the 1st page’s

Additionally, on the game’s Facebook page, Volker has outlined what the development road map for Dungeons of Chaos currently looks like:

The following is what my immediate attention will be focussed on for the next week:
– fixing the castle tunnels. bit bland at present
– provide better loot value for sparta+. Will only do this for fights, not for treasure though. because treasure has not become harder and because of ease of scamming

The mid-term after that a few things I want to tackle:
– eliminating more memory consumers from the code
– making the fight area variable in terms of objects (trees) and floor cover. Will impact line of sight but not complete walk obstruction.
– adding magic rupture and ignite to the auto spell arsenal. Spells added need to have unlimited range else there are serious tactical and AI issues (so no ball of lightning on auto, sorry)

If all goes well I will then more and more start to make notes about chapter3: party captured in chaos plane etc. Please note I do want to keep expanding the game and story so you will never have full ‘closure’. Like a GoT book. May make it a kickstarter campaign so people can financially support this as they see fit and people can vote/influence what I include or not. I favour this over having a content expansion IAP. Because IAP.

If you want to follow the development of Dungeons of Chaos, might I suggest giving a Like to its Facebook page? Volker is another of those developers who very regularly posts development notes to Facebook.

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The Dark Unknown: New Screenshot; Bug Squashing; Merchants and Dialogue http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/the-dark-unknown-new-screenshot-bug-squashing-merchants-and-dialogue/ http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/the-dark-unknown-new-screenshot-bug-squashing-merchants-and-dialogue/#comments Thu, 28 Jul 2016 15:29:01 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=59890
dark-unknown-potion-merchant

Goldenflame Dragon has been working on The Dark Unknown very consistently over the last couple of weeks, and has made numerous updates to the game. Some of the changes aren’t so visible; refactored magic system code won’t be evident to players, after all. Other changes, however, will be a bit more noticeable…including changes to the soundtrack:

Did a bunch of work on the wander song I’m working on, which currently I hate because I’ve been listening to it all day. Will get back to it tomorrow.
Also, went through all of the world spawns and turned them down at first level- it was too deadly getting to any more distant towns, and I was worried that people would flee from combat too much at low level. So the world should be a little less dangerous at the very start. Will continue to tweak with playtesting.

Changes to the map will also be quite evident to players:

Modified Swainhil’s map some, adding the Bardic HQ (name TBD). Started working on the new version of the Player Reference Guide. Added a new graphic (minor modification of an existing one).

Goldenflame has also been squashing a number of bugs in his code, and has even had help from the wider community with this; someone else has downloaded the code and has been submitting bug reports.

Fixed a bug with walkontiles not having their attached functions connected when they are loaded from a saved game.
Fixed a bug that made it impossible to flee from an empty battlefield.
Added a song for an easter egg.
Fixed some problems with my depowering of early game spawns.
Fixed the fact that the world map switched Beldskae and Swainhil.
Fixed some sundry other minor issues.

Additionally, Goldenflame has (finally!) treated us to a new screenshot (visible above), this one of a merchant plying her wares:

Bunch of work on merchants again- this time, to the type that sells things that you might want to buy in bulk. (There’s never a reason to have multiple suits of armor, but potions, for example…) Now the prompt for how many you want to buy works properly, and the merchant now has a response for if they sell out.

One of tomorrow’s projects will be to include how many of each thing in their stock each merchant has left- once someone sells out, they’re sold out! Some merchants may acquire more stock as the game goes on, though.

Tomorrow I’ll also need to test selling things back to the merchants- it worked when I first wrote it, but I’ve done a lot of changing since then.

Merchants, actually, received quite a bit of work:

Merchant stocks are now part of the save/load routine, so merchants can permanently sell out of things.
Wrote some more unit tests for spells. Well, spell. But it includes infrastructure for the other ranged combat spells. 🙂
NPCs that are trying to flee the map will now be deleted if they were going to exit onto the world map.

Most recently, Goldenflame has been working on dialogue:

Also added some more dialogue. I have a sidequest where you take a thing from person A to person B (which is basically an excuse to point you in the direction of Clear Lake, where person B lives). I found in my notes that person B was then to give you a “small rock” to bring back to person A.
I had NO IDEA why I wanted to do this.

So… I did it anyway. And now it’s funny! I hope.

As always, you can — and should! — follow The Dark Unknown on Facebook for all of the development updates that Goldenflame posts.

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Spam Spam Spam Humbug: Episode 48 – Are RPGs the Stars of the Video Games Industry? http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/spam-spam-spam-humbug-episode-48-are-rpgs-the-stars-of-the-video-games-industry/ http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/spam-spam-spam-humbug-episode-48-are-rpgs-the-stars-of-the-video-games-industry/#respond Wed, 27 Jul 2016 19:16:27 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=59885
sssh-48-rpg-characters


Why RPGs Are the Stars of the Video Game Industry: Amanda Bower, columnist at Gamepros, writes:

In the video game industry, there are dozens of genres that categorize what kind of experience a player can expect from a game. The selection ranges from countless sports games to the exciting action-adventure setting, and we as gamers develop preferences by exploring various titles and recognizing what grabs our attention. Presently, most of us who play video games regularly know what we like, and what we don’t care for.

Personally, I have always enjoyed adventuring through a highly developed story in what are known as role-playing games, or RPGs. Although there isn’t a right or wrong answer to what the best video game genre is, I stand tall and proud behind RPGs for countless reasons. For me, they’ve continued to surpass every other category throughout the years.

Let’s begin with a little history lesson. Back in the early 1970s, Dungeons and Dragons was published, claiming the distinction of the first commercial RPG. Released as a tabletop game, Dungeons and Dragons introduced what is standard in most modern RPGs, including abilities, monsters, levels, and armor classes. Sound familiar? Other fantasy games succeeded this innovative experience, some of which transparently mirrored all that Dungeons and Dragons came to be: nothing short of awesome. About ten years after its release, video game developers realized how popular RPGs were and imitated their general mechanics, transferring them to early computer systems. Thus began the revolution of RPG video games.

So what is it that makes RPGs so kickass?

The Spam Spam Spam Humbug crew try to answer the question, and discuss the impact RPGs have had on the wider gaming industry.

Listen to the Episode

Support Spam Spam Spam Humbug

Patreon | Buy Games at GOG | Like Ultima on Facebook | Follow the Ultima Codex on Twitter

Join the Ultima Community

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Get in Touch

Send Us anEmail | Leave a Voice Message | Join Us on Discord

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Shroud of the Avatar Nears “Beginning of the World” Event http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/shroud-of-the-avatar-nears-beginning-of-the-world-event/ http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/shroud-of-the-avatar-nears-beginning-of-the-world-event/#respond Tue, 26 Jul 2016 18:43:52 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=59883
SotA_BrittanyEstates1

The official press release for Shroud of the Avatar’s final wipe — the final wipe of server data, and the beginning of persistence in the game’s world — was sent out yesterday. Evidently, Portalarium are now calling tomorrow’s server changes the Beginning of the World event.

AUSTIN, Texas, July 26, 2016 – Backers of the crowd funded Shroud of the Avatar™ (SotA) will get their chance in two days to lay claim to a permanent plot of land in the fantasy world being developed by legendary game creator Richard Garriott and his Austin, Texas based studio, Portalarium®. Shroud of the Avatar is the spiritual successor to Garriott’s hugely popular Utlima series of fantasy role playing games.

At midnight Central Daylight Time (CDT) on Wednesday, July 27 (5:00 UTC on July 28), developers will take SotA game servers offline to begin the final player data wipe. The game will be turned back on at 9:30 AM (CDT) on July 28.

During that 9-hour 30-minute offline period, developers will be expiring the homes and basements from the Ancestor, Edelmann, Knight Marshal, Lord Marshal, Duke, and Lord of the Manor 2 pledges. New Player Owned Towns will also be expired. Details of the final player data wipe schedule can be found on the Shroud of the Avatar website.

The milestone will be celebrated with a livestream telethon (available on YouTubeand Twitch) leading up to the wipe. The telethon begins at 12 noon CDT on July 27 and will last 12 hours leading up to the beginning of the wipe at midnight. There will be prize giveaways (store credits, merchandise, Razer gear, pledges) in addition to telethon funding stretch goals for backers.

“When we turn the servers back on July 28, we expect there to be a major land rush,” said SotA Creative Director Richard Garriott. “Similar to the Oklahoma land rush of the late 19th century, our players will be able to venture out, plop down their house deeds and claim their property in Shroud of the Avatar for good. This will be the beginning of true persistence in the world.

“Expect the best properties such as great vistas and overlooks, strategic locales and waterfront real estate to go first. And expect some maneuvering between now and the end of the data wipe as higher level backers will get the first choices.”

SotA Executive Producer Starr Long says this milestone in the game’s development sets it apart from other massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPG). “When comparing crowd funded MMORPGs, we believe Shroud is the first in the fantasy genre to reach a final player data wipe and to reach persistence. We are thrilled to reach this critical juncture and couldn’t have done it without the incredible support we have from our community.”

If you want to find out when your opportunity to select a house lot will begin, you can visit the official Shroud of the Avatar site. Log in there, and your user account profile page should list which housing group you are in.

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Ultima Online: July Newsletter; The Kotl City; Publish 94 http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/ultima-online-july-newsletter-the-kotl-city-publish-94/ http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/ultima-online-july-newsletter-the-kotl-city-publish-94/#respond Tue, 26 Jul 2016 18:36:07 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=59881
ultima-online-dragon

The July newsletter for Ultima Online was released about a week ago, and contains a brief update about the upcoming Publish 94:

We are still working hard on getting Publish 94 out, which should be around the end of August.  In the mean time we have made a few changes that are on TC1 and would appreciate your feedback.

June was a special month for us because the UO Team had the honor of attending one of our owns wedding.  Please join us in the celebration of Bleak’s union to his beautiful bride.

Additionally, they provide some details about an event set in the Kotl City, one of the new areas added to the game in the Time of Legends expansion:

This year the Kotl City will be the setting for the popular “Treasures of Doom” event! This “Treasures of Tokuno” style event takes place in the newly rediscovered Kotl City. Much mystery shrouds what happened in this once magnificent subterranean metropolis – only the most daring adventurers will be able to uncover her long lost secrets and be rewarded with mythical treasures!

As always, click on through to find still yet more information, as well as some answers to questions posed by the UO community.

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Underworld Ascendant: The Evolution of a Lizardman http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/underworld-ascendant-the-evolution-of-a-lizardman/ http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/underworld-ascendant-the-evolution-of-a-lizardman/#respond Tue, 26 Jul 2016 18:21:26 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=59878
uwa-lizardman

The latest Stygian Sentinel update from OtherSide Entertainment is all about Lizardmen, and how they will look in Underworld Ascendant:

We started with a couple of different versions during the Kickstarter: A dinosaur-like take and one that loosely resembled a fishman from H.P. Lovecraft’s Innsmouth. We even had a vote on which one the fanbase liked more. There was a healthy debate in the office, too.

After some time evolving in art direction of the game, we needed to come back around on how all of our creatures looked. Nate and the art team have been taking a new look at what the Lizardman might appear in this developing style.

This includes, among other things, differences between various species — or skin colours, at least — of Lizardmen:

this is the first look at a Green Lizardman, the friendlier of the types you’ll encounter.

Since they’re a closely related species, we didn’t want to deviate too drastically from the basic look. But as game developers we need to accomplish a few things when doing a separate species that is essentially the same. We’ve all seen this in games , the reds and the blues, the big and the little. In a 3d FPS game the silhouette is very important. Like spotters on ships in WWII being able to identify a silhouette at a distance can be the difference between life or death.

To address this with the Red Lizardmen, we decided to adjust his shape slightly in bulk and to give them some easy-to-read attachments that Green Lizardmen don’t have.

In the early study (above), you’ll notice the frills on the Red’s head and face… which Will wants to call it a “head sail” and Tim a “scalp tongue”.

Another part we use to accent the silhouette is with armor and clothing.

Click on through to read the rest, and to get a look at some of the clay models — yes, Nate Wells evidently enjoys working with clay — they’ve made of some of the Lizardmen.

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Shroud of the Avatar – Update of the Avatar #186 http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/shroud-of-the-avatar-update-of-the-avatar-186/ http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/shroud-of-the-avatar-update-of-the-avatar-186/#respond Sun, 24 Jul 2016 19:46:09 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=59872 Greetings Fellow Avatars!

Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:


Xenos Reborn

Xenos (like Spite) started as another cloned scene using one of the PRT / POT templates based off of the Forest 01 base template (aka PaxLair). It is getting a complete rebuild from scratch this release and will go live with Release 32. Note that scenes that the dev team un-clone after the Final Wipe will NOT get this level of rework, and building placements and lot placements in those towns will remain unchanged; only cosmetic changes of building styles, terrain, and foliage will be made.

[From a Dev+ Forum Post by Richard “RrMatey” Matey]

Hi guys,

Wanted to give you guys a quick update on Xenos. This area is important because this is where you need to hitch a ride to Artifice. But to get on board, you need to win the lottery first. So good luck!

Xenos1

xenos2

xenos3

xenos4xenos5

xenos6

xenos7

xenos8

xenos9


Brittany Central Housing Expansion

Now that the dev team completed all the surrounding neighborhoods of Greater Brittany, they finally realized some areas inside Central Brittany are redundant, such as the farming areas. By eliminating areas like these, among other adjustments, they increased the amount of player lots within Central Brittany.

[From a Dev+ Forum Post by Esteben “SorcerousSteve” Zaldivar]

BRITTANY UPDATE: MORE HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES

Brittany keeps on expanding folks. 30 more player lots were added to the southern portion of the city. Most of these new areas of housing are along Cotton Road, Old Holtrop Road, and Jennings Byway.
Below we can see a Before and After comparison of the area I am referring to.

New lots that were added include:
1 City
1 Town
1 Village
27 Row

britcentraloverheadbefore

britcentraloverheadafter

Looking East from South Brittany.

britcentralafter1

Esteben Zaldivar
Level Designer


Renovating Spite

Spite started as another cloned scene using one of the PRT / POT templates based off of the Forest 01 base template. It is getting a complete rebuild from scratch this release and will go live with Release 32.

[From a Dev+ Forum Post by Esteben “SorcerousSteve” Zaldivar]

Final Plot Layout for Spite

Lots of great housing spots for you here, so I invite you to take your time while selecting a home!

spitelayout

Lots of great vistas await the future property owners of Spite!

Spite16

Inside the Mortuarium.

spite17

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Here It Is: Denis Loubet’s Alternate Box Art for Ultima 7: The Black Gate http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/here-it-is-denis-loubets-alternate-box-art-for-ultima-7-the-black-gate/ http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/here-it-is-denis-loubets-alternate-box-art-for-ultima-7-the-black-gate/#respond Wed, 20 Jul 2016 18:42:50 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=59863
Ultima 7-33

After teasing us with sample images from it for the last few days, Denis Loubet has finally released — publicly, at any rate; his Patreon backers received it a while ago — his alternate box art for Ultima 7: The Black Gate in its entirety.

This is my cover to Ultima 7:The Black Gate from an alternate universe where Origin Systems decided to go with an illustrative cover rather than a flat black, high-concept, box.

Here we have the Avatar with his companions, standing in a river of blood as the Guardian pulls the strings of the Fellowship in the background. The blood, of course, represents the gruesome murders which the Avatar and his party must investigate. This is all in a grim and somber color palette to highlight the melancholy nature of the plot. The Avatar’s downcast eyes search for clues to end the bloody doings of Batlin and his zealots. (Sorry about the spoiler!)

As you can see, I’ve got The Avatar in front, Iolo with a crossbow on the right, Dupre on the left, with Jaana just behind him.

So there you have it! The Cover to Ultima 7 that never was.

It’s notable that the Guardian here looks much more like he did in Ultima 9; his facial structure (and teeth!) were markedly different in Ultima 7. Loubet also offers an explanation for the differences in the Guardian’s appearance:

You will also notice that the Guardian has ears. This is because when I did the animation of the Guardian poking his head through the screen and talking to the player, he didn’t poke his head all the way through the screen. He simply did not push his face through far enough to reveal his ears. A happy “coincidence” of this rationale is that I did not have to model the Guardian’s ears in 3D with the crappy tools I had available at the time. You’ll notice the Guardian’s face in that animation is made up of very simple shapes that overlap; This was by design. I knew I couldn’t do a realistic face at that time, so I went for simple and cartoony.

So there it is: Denis Loubet’s alternate take on the box art for Ultima 7: The Black Gate. Personally, while I do like the themes in the image above, I still prefer the all-black cover…what say you all?

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Spam Spam Spam Humbug: Episode 47- Pokemon Go; Could an Ultima ARG Work? http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/spam-spam-spam-humbug-episode-47-pokemon-go-could-an-ultima-arg-work/ http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/spam-spam-spam-humbug-episode-47-pokemon-go-could-an-ultima-arg-work/#respond Wed, 20 Jul 2016 18:04:23 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=59850
pokemon-go



Nintendo, in partnership with developers Niantic, released Pokémon GO recently, and the game has taken the world by storm (at least for the moment). It has been downloaded over 10 million times by Android users worldwide, and has been downloaded over 7.5 million times by iOS and Android users in the U.S.. Its popularity has — for now — exceeded that of Twitter and Tinder (and Netflix, and Spotify, for that matter). It’s the biggest mobile game in U.S. history. Nintendo’s company value has swelled by a staggering $7 billion USD in the wake of the game’s release, and the game itself is evidently raking in a lot of cash…most of it, surprisingly, from many users making multiple small purchases (rather than from a smaller pool of whales — players who spend exorbitant sums of cash on a game). User retention rates are also roughly double the industry average, as is its rate of revenue generation. Unity, which was used as the engine for the game, has also shot up in value over the last week.

Listen to the Episode

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K-Power Magazine Articles on Ultima 3 from 1984 http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/k-power-magazine-articles-on-ultima-3-from-1984/ http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/k-power-magazine-articles-on-ultima-3-from-1984/#respond Wed, 20 Jul 2016 17:24:52 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=59856

Good Afternoon one and all.  I am excited to bring you a new archive post from my collection of Ultima and Ultima related stuff and things.  I have posted up onto the Ultima Codex’s Gallery, an article with scans of 2 K-Power Magazines which focused on Ultima 3.  I have included as well a link to an amazing article from the New York Times archives as well, that dates from before K-Power merged with its sister publication from Scholastic.  It provides some great information from the time as we had only just started the journey of personal computers in the home.  Please enjoy and feel free to use the links to download the full magazines as well.

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Mage Duels: Down, But Not Out http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/mage-duels-down-but-not-out/ http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/mage-duels-down-but-not-out/#respond Tue, 19 Jul 2016 18:24:53 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=59845
mage-duels-attack

Development on Mage Duels — an Ultima Online-inspired PVP arena game — has evidently suffered a bit of a pause due to hardware issues:

Just after the 4th, a large storm rolled in. A lightning strike went through my cable line. Took out my router, cable modem, and motherboard. I am piecing back together a new dev box, but it is slow going. Fortunately all the source was backed up and once I have everything back together, I should have the new release shortly.

Thank you for your patience.

So if you were wondering why there hadn’t been a new build of Mage Duels released recently…that’d be why.

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Voxel Quest: Source Code Release Plan http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/voxel-quest-source-code-release-plan/ http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/voxel-quest-source-code-release-plan/#respond Tue, 19 Jul 2016 18:07:17 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=59843
voxel-quest-29million

Gavan Woolery’s contract work at OpenAI has come to an end, so he’s working (for the time being) on releasing the source code for Voxel Quest. It’s worth noting that there won’t be a single release of the game’s code, but rather a number of such releases:

I may have discussed it elsewhere, but I am aiming on getting a few different releases out for VQ. There were roughly 5 major iterations of the engine (2 of the ray-casting ones were fairly similar). Each release will probably occur separately. The first release I am targeting actually an older version of the engine, as seen below, just because I think it is interesting content-wise (each new iteration often lost some of the content in favor of new incompatible methods for the tech).

Be sure to keep an eye on the Voxel Quest website for news of each release as it happens.

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Slegnor Has Finished Ultima 1 and Moved On to Ultima 2 (Yes, More Playthrough Videos) http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/slegnor-has-finished-ultima-1-and-moved-on-to-ultima-2-yes-more-playthrough-videos/ http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/slegnor-has-finished-ultima-1-and-moved-on-to-ultima-2-yes-more-playthrough-videos/#respond Tue, 19 Jul 2016 17:56:52 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=59840
digital-antiquarian-u1-u2

Slegnor completed his playthrough of Ultima 1 a little while back, and has uploaded the final two videos of his progress through the game to his YouTube profile:

And here’s the final one:

As well, he has begun playing through Ultima 2, and in fact is already a fair way into the game (as seven videos will attest):

Part Two:

Part Three:

Part the Fourth:

Part Five:

Part Six:

And…Part Seven:

And of course, as always, you can also follow Slegnor on Twitch to see his ongoing Ultima play sessions as they happen.

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Shroud of the Avatar – Cult of Spears Final Post and Why I am done with SotA http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/shroud-of-the-avatar-cult-of-spears-final-post-and-why-i-am-done-with-sota/ http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/shroud-of-the-avatar-cult-of-spears-final-post-and-why-i-am-done-with-sota/#comments Tue, 19 Jul 2016 01:50:13 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=59830 Good Evening Friends!  This is not a post I truly wanted to make.  In fact, I have continued to struggle for months to avoid making it for a number of reasons.  I have spent alot of time taking with some current and past SotA community members about this for quite some time as well.  I am basically leaving Shroud of the Avatar as  I simply see no more point in my continuing to support Shroud of the Avatar, as I have since Kickstarter.  With the events of the past few weeks, I have today contacted Starr Long and Chris Spears and cancelled my interview stream that was planned for Post R32 launch.  I am I am also cancelling all future full version posts of the Cult of Spears lore (lore about Chris Spear’s in game character named “Atos”) here on Ultima Codex.   I am going to post a chapter timeline however below for those who are curious to see where it was going to go.

Why?  I have spent the past 18 days going through every possible conclusion based on current information as to where I see the game will be in one year.  It has lead me to no longer be able to support Portalarium or Shroud of the Avatar as I have done since March 8th, 2013.   I find it difficult to believe the game will survive long term due to a multitude of reasons.  I believe bad decisions were made, and are being made, that unfortunately will result in this game not living up to even a portion of the possibility of what it could be.  This includes items in regards to project management, community management, gameplay, etc.  The toxicity of some in the community also continues to go unchecked, and in fact some behavior has continued to be encouraged due to both action and inaction.  I sometimes think the dev team cares so much about the community, that it is affecting the game development and their art.  As I told Chris, I hope and pray the game does become what so many of us hoped it would be, and if it does I will be back… but until then, I need to leave because I currently have no hope with the game.

While I am not selling my account, I put the money I did into this game’s development as an investment into what I thought could be something truly special.  It was a donation of which I expected no return if things went bad. The money I have given has been good enough payment for the journey I have taken with the dev team and some in the community.  I have met and made new friends. I have gotten to be part of the College of Arms and design graphics for that.  I got to write fiction aka lore instead of what I typically write, which is non-fiction.  If God-willing the game turns around, awesome… I will still have my main pledge and I will be able to use it.    I will continue to do the weekly “Update of the Avatar posts on the Ultima Codex”. I cannot leave a job I have willingly and eagerly taken undone, and I said I would take care of doing the weekly SotA posts.  The community and my friends here at Ultima Codex, deserve that; as well as they expect that from me, because it is the standard I have always held myself to.

 

old-letters-436503_1920

 

Cult of Spears Timeline – Very Brief Overview of what Each Chapter was to have.

Chapter 5 – Dippy leaves for the kingdom to the north, ruled by Lady Cassandra’s Son.  Meeting of Aarun and his history.  We learn of Aarun and the Undeadimifyer artifact. We learn about the destruction of Aarun’s village by Lady Cassandra’s troops while trying to destroy the undead.  Lady Cassandra’s death during this battle is revealed.  We also learn about Lady Cassandra being the atypical queen in all she did, including her relationship with Gladys.

 

Chapter 6 – Aarun and Dippy see a Hot Air Balloon while traveling through the plains to arrive in the capitol.  Meeting with King Letholus and the questions about the Hot Air Balloon they saw while traveling.  The learning of the mountain village of Brightwell.  Dippy learns that Gladys passed away and is grief stricken.  Aarun and Dippy meet Breena (a follower of The Mistress).  History of Breena meeting the Mistress. Dippy is certain the Mistress is someone who could be a valuable friend because of shared goals.

 

Chapter 7 – The three travel to Brightwell.  Overview of Brightwell being underground as well as a few above ground homes and shops to give the illusion of normalcy.  Aarun and Dippy meet the Mistress and Andres.  Dippy is fascinated by the stories of Nimbus from Andres.  The Mistress preys on Dippy’s urge to travel and learn all he can and informs him about the pink crystals that grow like rhubarb, and how they can be used when crushed to create a fire that burns hotter and stronger then any mundane fire.  Dippy sees similarities between the hot air balloon as the paper lanterns he did for Evergrove each year.  Realizes that those strange things he sometimes said growing up were tied to subconscious memories from the other world.  Dippy and Aarun prepare to leave for Nimbus.

 

Chapter 8 – Description of Nimbus, no story about Dippy until next chapter.  The Capitol city is described in details. Giant Shardfall crystal in the center of the city.  Palace to the north of the crystal.   The Ivory Library is described in details as there are many ritual setups that exist in one wing of the library for experimentation.  The royal family and aristocrats, who are supposedly the only magic users, live in the capitol city.  The poor, the laborers, and tradesmen live in the outskirts of the city, outside the city wall and are not allowed inside without a special pass.  The view of magic is different in Nimbus vs the Overworld.  Those who can use magic without need of crystal and ritual are considered to be of a higher class of citizen and blessed by the Divius.  Mundane and Magic Crystals alike are used in industry.  Ritual magic is used to supplement industry, including blacksmithing, agriculture, milling, etc.  There is much hatred between the two classes of citizens.  The Exiles are those who live in the crystal wastelands to the east of the capitol.  The Royal Family and Aristocrats claim they dont exist. They are members of the lower class that were born with the ability to magic without rituals and crystals, but were not born into aristocratic families, and thus are banished.  In the West lay a forest with two villages. Both contain being who look like humans but have wings and  horns.  They are known as The Fallen Ones. The two villages have been in odds about the history of their people as their ancestors were supposedly from a city in Novia that was wiped out around the time of the Fall.  They keep to themselves except to trade the magic crystals that they are experts at harvesting.  The Magic Crystals of each other grow in areas that are naturally saturated with larger amounts of magic.  Due to the Shardfall, all of Nimbus is that way.

 

Chapter 9 – Aarun and Dippy arrive in Nimbus. They are fascinated by the land and people. They notice that the majority of individuals on Nimbus have lobe-less ears.  Dippy gets lost in the outskirts and saves a boy from being arrested.  He meets the boy’s family who are blacksmiths (father and his 2 sons).  Description of Blacksmithing with Magic Augmentation to the process.  Forging of a Dagger for Dippy for saving his son from being arrested and probably sentenced to death.  Aarun talks to a guard and mentions Andres.  We learn that Andres’ wife was an aristocrat.  The Guard recommends a meeting with the King and Queen, but demands Aarun find Dippy as he should not be wandering around on his own.  Meeting with King and Queen. Permission is given to learn at the library for one week as thanks to Dippy for what a Guard saw as Dippy stopping treason against the Royal Family.  Dippy finds it interesting how his actions are seen so differently by both sides.  Dippy comes to discover the bigotry in regards to magic during his studies.

 

Chapter 10 – Dippy and Aarun meet the Fallen as they gather materials to try to grow their magic ability.  We learn about the class system more within Nimbus and how the bigotry is perpetuated by the royal family.  With the rise of more and more low-class citizens being born with natural magic skill, the problem is not going away.  Aarun and Dippy struggle to decide on if they should intervene.  The Exiles commit a terrorist act destroying one of the storehouses of food the aristocrats use.  Aarun and Dippy learn of the Obsidians and the twisting of human form to create new beings.  They also learn that while those on Nimbus found that to be a perversion of magic, a similar thing is being done which is the transplanting of souls into other bodies.  This is seen as ok, however, because the soul isnt twisted and changed along with the body. The persons’ original being is left intact.  Dippy witnesses the soul of a summoned being, being transplanted into a sword.  The royal family discovers Dippy is an Outlander/Avatar.

Chapter 11 – Dippy and Aarun are invited to the home of an aristocrat.  They learn about the Exile Sympathizers.  Dippy and Aarun use the blue sapphire from the Mistress to inform her and Andres about the situation in Nimbus.  Andres and the Golems make their way to Nimbus.  Civil War occurs with both the Exiles and their sympathizers asking for Dippy’s help along with the Royal Family requesting his help.  Dippy makes his choice and Balance is found upon Nimbus.  The Royal Family are overthrown and banished to the Overworld, as they brought more Chaos to Nimbus from their bigotry.  Andres is welcomed back and is requested by many aristocrats to lead a representative government for the people.

Chapter 12 – Dippy leaves for Brightwell.  Dippy and Mistress discuss their mutual goals.  Dippy questions Mistress as to why she only surrounds herself with women.  Mistress tells part of her tale of her arrival in the world and that she didnt want to return to the world she left.  She talks about the betrayal she felt when the Titans refused to help her and so she left for other lands.  She talks about traveling the world and discovering other women who were like her and her sisters from her old world.  Abused, Beaten, Abandoned, Neglected, etc.  She had promised she would never allow another like her to ever feel unloved or without a home.  The ladies who serve the mistress are not slaves, but her “sisters” as she calls them, for while they are of this world, that does not make them any better or worse than she is as an outlander.  Mistress goes on to explain her hatred of the Titans and especially the Avatars for what they did to this world. Dippy shares information about the Divius and the Mistress takes him underground and shows him the 12 altars of the Divius that exist there from before the fall.

Chapter 13 – Story and Description of each of the 12 Divius.  4 attributes of Order, 4 Attributes of Balance, 4 Attributes of Chaos.  We learn of the never-ending conflict that has occurred since almost the beginning of time between them.

Chapter 14 – Dippy creates a ritual in the underground area of the altars to try and communicate with any of the 4 Divius of Balance.  It goes wrong.  A Divius of Chaos gets involved, Dippy ends up in a coma.  The Mistress uses her own magic to awaken Dippy, but the damage to his psyche is already permanent.  Mistress is pleased because Dippy was too concerned with Harmony and Balance without the loss of Free Will.  The second attempt to speak with a Divius of Balance is successful. Because of this, Dippy learns that Avatars/Outlanders will return to the world soon and will be arriving in Novia.   He vows to go to Novia and find artifacts and others who will work with him, the Mistress, and those from Nimbus to bring Balance to the world.

 

Chapter 15 – Dippy arrives in Novia.  Aarun returns to Brightwell and goes back to his village to rebuild so it could be a trading post between Nimbus and Segura. Dippy discovers that the Obsidians meant well but used chaos to bring order which was why they sorcerers of the Obsidian could not reach the success of the mages of Nimbus.  Dippy discovers a Tomb of an Avatar.  Much time is spent studying the stories on the scrolls.  Dippy comes to the conclusion that the return of the Avatars if left alone will only bring the world to its final destruction.  He vows to convert the Avatars from “these virtues that obviously didn’t work” to see the truth of how Order, Chaos, and Balance are the only paths that exist.  Dippy changes his name to “Atos”, for those who bring only Order or Chaos will learn to fear him.

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Shroud of the Avatar – Cult of Spears Lore – Chapter 4: The Final Winter http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/shroud-of-the-avatar-cult-of-spears-lore-chapter-4-the-final-winter/ http://ultimacodex.com/2016/07/shroud-of-the-avatar-cult-of-spears-lore-chapter-4-the-final-winter/#respond Sat, 16 Jul 2016 02:03:21 +0000 http://ultimacodex.com/?p=59824 Good Evening Friends! Tonight we have chapter four of the Cult of Spears lore. Arrun takes us back to Dippy and informs us of a hint of how the Mistress had already influenced Dippy, before even finding him through none other but Gladys, who took Dippy into her home.  We begin to learn more about the Fall, the Shardfall Crystals, Nimbus, and what some believe caused the Fall in the first place.  Fate and Destiny are a strange thing.  But sometimes, the smallest act of kindness or friendship can sometimes change the world or someone’s life decades later.  The meeting of our 4 main characters are drawing near, just as we are drawing near to R32 and the Final Full Wipe in Shroud of the Avatar.  I hope you enjoy this next chapter as we continue learning of the events that lead up to the return of the Avatars whom we play in Shroud of the Avatar.


Chapter 4: The Final Winter

Before I had the pleasure of meeting Dippy, he went through a journey of personal growth.  The years spent learning magic and other skills as well as love for his new adopted home, brought about visceral reactions when learning of the history that lead up to his appearance as well as the history of Outlanders.  I firmly believe by letting go of focusing on his life before arriving in this world, and the harmony he had developed with those he befriended, would give him the strength to even subdue the Divius.

 

Life was simple in village of Evergrove, even a decade after Dippy had first made it his home.  Gladys rarely left the small cottage anymore as walking was becoming difficult for her, even with a stave for balance.  “Thank you son,” she said as Dippy helped her up so she could join him for what she felt would be the last time in the village library.  The collection had grown by leaps and bounds during the past 8 years especially.  Being just north of a major port, and the improvements in town thanks to the young outlander, had brought greater prosperity and trade to Evergrove.  But there was one book that Gladys had been saving, knowing that it might cause Dippy to leave her and the village.

She loved Dippy, and so did everyone in the village. The fact that he was an outlander became a thing of the past. In fact many came to forget it in time, including Dippy himself. However in their hearts, they all knew his time with them would soon come to an end.   If the legends were true, as an outlander, Dippy had a destiny to him.  Just being around him brought vitality and excitement to those nearby whenever he was in a room.  One with such a spirit truly must have more in store for him then a life in a small out-of-the-way village. And so when Dippy sat down next to her she smiled.  “It is time I share with you the story of a land that even I wish I could have seen.” Dippy’s eyes gleamed.  “Oh my boy,” Gladys placed her hand on his face., “You truly are incorrigible when it comes to this aren’t you?”  He laughed heartily, “What can I say, learning about this world intrigues me.  Even if the world has fallen into chaos.”  Well this book was given to me by one young lady I met back when I served Lady Cassandra in the capital.  In our time together, I met a young lady who appeared to be a servant of “her Mistress” as she put it. She was from the mountains north of the kingdom.  They regularly traded with us, and knowing my love of history, she gave me this one.

old-book

The cover of the tomb shared an unusual symbol, that of a cloud with a pink gemstone emblazoned on it.  As Gladys spoke, Dippy was amazed as he learned about the shardfall crystals, and the fact that they had magic power behind them.  They not only rended the world asunder, transforming much of the world… but they had saturated the world with all new magic.  The book blamed the avatars and outlanders of old for the fall.  Specific mention of some of the Divius being disgusted, due to the fact that beings from other worlds felt it was their place to bring change to the world. Despite this some of the Divius welcomed the outlanders, seeimg them as bringing back the order that the fallen Divius had wrought upon the world, by their jealousy and greed.  One outlander in particular, Lord Cayeux, was mentioned as one who fought a great battle against the forces of chaos, only to disappear after all was said and done.  It was believed by some that he would return someday and with the help of other outlanders, transform the world again.

Angry raged in the heart of Dippy.  It was obvious to him that outlanders and the fallen Divius were to blame for the horrors of the world.  Being from another world disgusted him and he swore he would learn all he could to strive to return the world he loved to the harmony and balance it had millennium ago.  Gladys stared into his eyes and knew what he was feeling. All she could do was give him a hug and softly whisper into his ear, “Don’t let these feelings consume you, dear boy. For Order is needed to bring justice and order, but it too can destroy the world, as chaos has done. For we need Chaos, for without it we wouldn’t have free will or the potentiality the Ancients envisioned.  Remember, Chaos brought you to me and all of us here in Evergrove.  We… I love you, my son… you have brought so much hope and life to me and so many here…”  Breaking down in tears, she slumped into his arms weeping for her adopted son.  Dippy began to cry. “I will remember, Mom… Balance…. I won’t ever forget.”

As she sat back down.  She looked into his eyes.  We should finish.  She described how lands were torn asunder. Novia had suffered much, as had every continent.  The large island of Itar suffered one unusual case however. (Itar is about half the size of what is now known as Grunwald, and is located to the west of Novia…. It is also due east of the continent of Segura, where Evergrove lay along the eastern coast.) One extremely large shardfall crystal landed in the capitol city of Itar and by morning the city and some of the surrounding area was no longer there. In fact the ocean had swept in to fill what used to be there.  The city, Aleph, was now floating above the clouds, in perfect suspension.  In fact the inhabitants began to call the floating island, Nimbus, for they were now “of the clouds”.

As Gladys closed the book, she sighed.  “Here, it is yours now.” “But it holds fond memories…”  “So do you, and besides, I am old and my time is drawing near.  You have a destiny to fulfill as you now know.  What that may be… only you can discover for yourself.” Dippy cried and held her close.  “Come, the winter festival is tonight, and we have many paper lanterns to make.”  Dippy laughed.  “Yeah, we spent all that time at the mill making the paper with our friends, it would be a shame to not make the best lanterns yet, to help celebrate another fine year.”  As they left, a young maiden of dark complexion peered around the corner of a bookcase.  She grinned and whispered into an uncut Sapphire with an unusual carving in it. “I have found him, Mistress…”

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