As is customary at the start of a new year, it is time to ruminate upon 2023!
The first bigger story of the year revolved around the unearthed Spirit Squirrel Shrine, previously hidden in Tolborolla. The revelation was accompanied by new options for wiccans and druids in the form of hazelnut fae and squirrel companions. A wide variety of squirrels also re-populated many places across the Basin of Life, including the Glomdoring. Not far away, brave Tapif embarked on his first adventures, culminating in settling down, for the moment, in Irshaw Heights where he prods and nudges at Rumberry for stories about the local tae’dae population.
Around that time we also saw the first of new small quests added to villages across the land. They were an introductory project for our Ephemerals and their goal was to infuse a bit more life and story intto the villages themselves. Xislia in Dairuchi started working on her bookbinding skills to impress Chixesaka. Berpo of Rikenfriez decided to pick up icefishing. Well, almost. Babette of Delport lost her family heirloom, and Krug of Acknor started organising cookouts for fellow orcs.
Matters started getting a bit more serious after that with the strange dreams of Sandy Storm from the Scorpion Caverns, which led her to receiving a new prophecy from Grandmother Scorpion. It would be some time before that prophecy would come about and its meaning become clear, however. Meanwhile, Serenwilde was attacked by an icy abomination birthed from a pact between the Frostspite and Gromagh. Luckily it was slain before it could truly threaten the forest, but the circumstances of this peculiar union were suspicious and also attracted the attention of the first member of the Fellowship of the Roots to become known – Theone Natharian.
He would soon become much better known as he discovered the Great Worm Mother within the depths of Namiraa’s Trench and attempted to rally support to aid her in propagating the species, much to the annoyance of the local nereid Soriali. A close friend of his and also a member of the mysterious Fellowship, Pachidrui Etloo, also tackled a nature-related issue of theirs not long after, when a peculiarly invasive species of moss took over the Toronada Tidal Flats. Once the crisis was averted, the Fellowship of the Roots made itself public, with its leader Nimuire Duskbloom, permitting onlookers to join one of their meetings. And it was good that they did, for what followed required everyone’s involvement.
At the beginning of September, a great earthquake shook the Basin of Life in the aftermath of a catastrophe occuring beyond the Southern Mountains, beyond the Basin of Life itself. After many trials, adventurers made their way through the Scorpion’s Tail mountains for the first time in modern times and stepped into a whole new continent where the Gaaglin Swamp and the Gorlognal Academy were located. The earthquake was caused by the Eater of Flesh and Earth, a semi spirit of crocodile, that sunk the mugwump academy that housed the descendants of the Balach Institute of Magic and Science. Once new forces arrived into the swamp, they split into two camps, vying for supermacy for the side they supported. And not everything in the swamps was as it seemed.
That feeling of wrongness held strong as not long after an experiment in Muhanlesh Caverns went very wrong, unleashing a cloier unto the Grey Moors. The Gorlognal Academy and the Fellowship both assisted in halting the monstrosity but many lives were lost before they succeeded. Something, or someone, had dominated the researchers in the caverns and willed this outcome. There was no time to rest and ponder, however, as not long after something terrifying haunted Glomdoring and erased the memories of those it passed and also the prophecy of Grandmother Scorpion came to be. The community gathered around Scorpion was attacked by one of their own, Summer Heat, who attempted to befoul the Old Ones. With Exclii’s assistance, he was pushed back, but he and his followers were not captured. In the aftermath, a bizarre altar and brown crystals were found in the tombs and those who touched them ended up contected by Summer Heat himself eventually.
Realising they cannot solve all of those mysteries on their own, the Fellowship of the Roots opened their doors to new recruits and bent their heads to the prophetic dreams they have been receiving about all the preceding catastrophies. This move helped thwart Summer Heat next plot as he was betrayed and news of his misdeeds brought to the Fellowship, which rallied alongside the Basin of Life itself. Summer Heat was at the last defeated, and his following dispersed. But he claimed to serve someone, or something, and now he would take answers to his grave. This story arc continues on and many more twists and turns have been planned as it leads towards an Ascension.
But the year was not just full of serious and world-threatening stories. Magnagora dealt with a correspondence mishap that somehow ended up leading them to the Shallamurine Cathedral. Pyrios of Toronada Tidal Flats hosted a beach party to commemorate his new surfing board. Sarora and her huskies began to make deliveries across the Icewynd year-round to the far-away Solstice Court. Pachidrui Etloo settled in the pilgrim camp and started peddling herbs. Hallifax dealt with bureaucracy mishaps that threatened the city’s place in the sky. New Celest saw a new acolyte join the Chapel of Two Saints, while Glomdoring made a deal with the harpies and unveiled a new library. Gaudiguch and Hallifax both also celebrated player-ran festivals with many attractions.
We put a large focus on story and roleplay this year, running more story events than during any year in recent memory (2017 remains the exception, was quite a story year!). To make sure you stay in the loop with such a volume of events, we introduced the gossip system and have been keeping it up to date – we remove gossip from the system if it is older than 30 days and put it in an archive. That archive now stands at 128 pieces of gossip! And we only introduced the system in May. In between the stories, we also ran a handful of contests. There were the Death and Harmony Challenges, two Treasure Hunts made more interested by the Horizon Walkers Guild, and a variety of contests during Lusternia’s 19th Anniversary.
Our second focus was getting as many of our Ephemerals trained and ready for Godhood since the more fully-trained hands we have, the more we can do. To that end, we saw four Ephemerals advance to a stage where they joined cities and communes. We also saw four Divine make a return to Lusternia: Darvellan, Zvoltz, Manteekan, and Valtreth. There is more to come on that front too. Let us also not forget Gaaglin Swamp and Gorlognal Academy, two massive areas entwined by story, that were an enormous admin project. We were so pleased for them to finally be released.
On the development front we have taken on new mortal coders and have leaned on our reliable anomalies that continue to assist as they are able. This year we introduced changes to gems of cloaking to aid with visibility, quest achievements, implemented a round of reports, released new craft patterns, started a mass rescale of craft commodities, and released a whole new set of coal and peppermint artifacts alongside a winter themed curio set. Rather than wait for a revamped family honour system to be ready, we have also disabled the system for the time being on player request. It will return in a new form before long.
Coming into 2024, we will continue with our overarching story plot that will culminate in an Ascension and seek to tackle pending coding projects in smaller bites. We will start with the economy: rescale commodities for crafts, adjust commodity production and prices, and then look at accessibility of trade skills. We do not wish to get ahead of ourselves so we will reassess the order of other projects as this is completed. The newbie experience, families, conflict, alliances, and the rest of economy are still on the map, of course.
Thank you for participating in the weaving of the tapestry that is Lusternia – it is in combining the admin threads with the player ones that the story and the experience is made. We continue to thrive on your contributions, ideas, feedback, and everything in between. Thanks also to our godmin team, who went above and beyond this year to make magic happen. Our player volunteers also continue to assist in a variety of positions that enhance the player experience and we are so grateful for their assistance. Thank you!
Here’s to an eventful 2024!