Divine gateways

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Empyrean divine gateway concept art.

When you play the MMORPG you're going to be stepping through what are called these divine gateways from a planet called Sanctus and Sanctus was really a safe haven that was forethought by the Goddess of Fate and Creation as a sanctuary to provide the people of Verra who could survive the fall, the apocalypse, the exodus essentially.[1]Steven Sharif

Divine gateways are portals located in the ruined cities of the four ancient races of Verra.[2]

Where players start, they enter this portal from another world called Sanctus. Sanctus is a place of no magic, low technology; and players are the first expeditioners that are coming through this portal into the world of Verra.[9]Jeffrey Bard

Starting areas

Alpha-1 early preview starting area.[10]

There is no railroaded driven theme park experience here. You will have the opportunity to create your own destiny in that regard, which means you don't have to necessarily follow the quest line nor do you have to participate in events or experiences around the starting area. Now it may be more beneficial to do that; and in that regard I guess there could be a meta around doing that, but you could branch out proceed to other areas and do different content.[11]Steven Sharif

Starting areas (starting zones) are located in the ruined cities of the four ancient races of Verra.[2]

  • Starting areas are located near one of the four divine gateways where players spawn into the world.[2][12]
    • The Tulnar have a starting area without a divine gateway.[5][7] They have the same option of starting at any of the divine gateways as other races.[6]
    • Starting areas have some distance between them.[5]
  • Starting areas include expeditionary NPC settlements that serve as initial quest origination points.[12] Lore-wise, these settlements represent scouts that were sent ahead of the main expedition back to Verra.[13]
    • These settlements are designed to acclimatize new players entering the world.[13]
    • While it may be advantageous to do so, there is no requirement for players to play through any specific starter zone content.[11]

A problem that a lot of MMOs have is that those starting areas become just kind of vacant of players and it's so sad because the greatest aspect of an MMO is that community that you get to experience, so one of the great things about the node system is that it really works from new player acquisition standpoint, where these nodes tend to develop larger near the starting location areas around the world; and it brings these players back to those locations if they're citizens and want services within those cities. So, as new players enter the world they're going to actually be surrounded most likely by more population because people are coming back to those larger nodes.[14]Steven Sharif

Alpha-1 starting area

Alpha-1 alpha island starting area.[15]

There's been some significant lighting changes here in this area. There's been some work on the foliage, on the trees that are available, toned down some of the ruins, rearranged some of the tents and it's starting to look pretty good.[15]Steven Sharif

The Alpha-1 starting area is set in the ruins of a Pyrian divine gateway to the south of alpha island.[16]

Tulnar starting area

Points of interest will exist that represent Tulnar npc structures. In the similar fashion that the starting areas around divine gateways will include expeditionary npc settlements not tied to the node structures but serve as initial quest origination points.[12]Steven Sharif

Tulnar have a starting area that does not involve a divine gateway.[5]

  • Points of interest exist that represent Tulnar NPC structures in a similar fashion to the starting areas around divine gateways.[12]

Tulnar have the same option of starting at any of the divine gateways. Their civilization, though within the underrealm, has also begun to explore the surface.[6]Steven Sharif

Unlike the other races, the Tulnar won’t be returning to Verra, instead they will be returning to the surface from the Underrealm for the first time in generations.[17]

World map

Ashes of Creation map.[18] The circles on the map are divine gateways that are located in the ruined cities of the four great races of Verra. The diamonds are the starting settlements for the returning races.[2]

If you have tuned into our live streams and update videos, you may have caught glimpses of Verra. The world is very large and meant to hold around 10,000 concurrent players. With elaborate trade routes and sea-play, the Verran landscapes must provide complex obstacles and intricate passages between its regions. Alpha One will be the first test phase in the actual world map of Verra. For the first time ever, our community will step foot on the world we hope you'll call home.[18]Steven Sharif

The original Ashes map from my pathfinder world of Ashes made 10 years ago. Obviously some adjustments had to be made for the mmorpg. But the main two continents and their points of interest have a lot of the same.[19]Steven Sharif

The world of Verra features an in-game viewable world map. This map is not randomly generated, and begins covered in a fog of war.[20] Players will not be able to see the world until they have explored it or gathered information about it. The world is also full of imperfect information, which will require the player to act on it for verification.[21]

For example, you may hear a rumor in a tavern that tells you the location of a cave full of weak Kobolds, but this was not accurate as the rumor was started by well-equipped bandits in order to waylay overconfident adventurers.[21]

When information is gathered, or the player has successfully explored an area, points of interest are marked on the map.[22]

  • These points of interest are determined by Node progression; and not every server will share the same map, as player decisions will vary server to server.[22]

In addition to node progression being a factor on map generation, zones in Ashes of Creation will cater to all levels.[23]

The map will have geographical choke points (such as Mountains) that are not traversable by players.[24]

Even though we're an open-world that doesn't mean that from a design perspective, especially with the way our economic systems work, that we will want to create Geographic choke points.[24]Steven Sharif

Sanctus

Kaelar divine gateway concept art.

When this creation of Verra occurred, the Goddess of Fate and the Goddess of Creation were very close; and the Goddess of Fate essentially warned the Goddess of Creation- only the Goddess of Creation- that the Ancients and the Others- that they had not seen the last of them; and that there would be a time essentially when those forces would seek out and try to pervert the new creation as essentially a way to thumb their noses at the other gods in retribution for their defeat. So the Goddess of Creation created a separate planet Sanctus that she knew she could bridge with these Divine Gateways at a time when it was necessary for the descendants of Verra to escape their destruction.[1]Steven Sharif

Sanctus is the world where the people of Verra found their sanctuary.[25]

A long long long time ago, everybody lived on a planet called Verra. Something cataclysmic happened that forced people from that world to another world called Sanctus. Verra is a place of really high magic. Sanctus is a place with no magic whatsoever. People escaped through these portals into the world of Sanctus. They had to rediscover technology, because so much of their current technology was based on magic, so they had to figure out how to interact with the world. Thousands and thousands of years go by. A long dark age passes. This history that I just told you falls into myth and legend. After this time passes, these portals reopen and the players are going to take the part of people who are coming through those portals once again back to the world of Verra to rediscover that magic, rediscover their history, and try to figure out what happened to this world to force them out of it.[9]Jeffrey Bard

Sanctus is a key story arc, that will likely have very little revealed about it prior to the Betas.[26]Steven Sharif

Lore

The essence is a stream that exists across all planes of existence, but it exists at different levels of strength essentially at different levels that can be utilized; and the void is the furthest... There is a very minute amount of essence that can be found within the void. However the planes of existence that are in Ashes of Creation- they are connected across bridges created by the essence. So these ley-lines in a sense that exist within the different planes provide conduits of access and on Verra, which was a planet that was made after the ancient- the celestial battle.[1]Steven Sharif

The Essence is a metaphysical energy or life-force (Chi) that can be manipulated to create what could be viewed as magic. There are different planes of existence (realms) with varying degrees of strength (of magic), determined by their proximity to the Essence. The planes of existence in Ashes of Creation are connected across bridges created by the Essence.[27][1]

  • The Gods exist on the plane of the gods, which is the most connected to the Essence.[1]
  • The material plane is not the highest in terms of proximity to the Essence. Verra exists in the material plane.[1]
  • The Void is the plane that is the furthest from being connected to the Essence. Only a minute amount of essence can be found within the Void.[1]
  • There hasn't been a definitive understanding of how many planes of existence there are.[27]

Souls acting as conduits is a very integral component of some broader features in the storyline. If you think about souls being a conduit for Essence and you think of the gods as masters of the Essence: If you think of the Essence being separate from the Gods- let's say they're parallel to eachother- one didn't create the other, but they coexist in this almost symbiotic form with one another; almost to the point where their manipulation of the Essence is perfection: They can perfectly manipulate it and lesser beings; and I say 'lesser' in a sense of their alignment or closeness to Essence. They're still perfecting that manipulation and some never achieve perfection almost to the degree of ascendency or enlightenment- Essence being that sort of Chi that exists. In that regard, when a perfect being such as the gods- and I'm not saying 'perfect' as the correlation between sin and not sin, I'm thinking perfect in the sense of how you can control and manipulate the Essence: That control is perfection for them.[27]Steven Sharif

When you think about souls being a conduit, what are conduits used for? Conduits are passages; they're methods by which Essence can travel between realms, between planes. And there hasn't been any definitive understanding of just how many planes exist. We understand that there is a disparity between the planes when it comes to their connection to the Essence, and because Essence is so powerful; and it flows through these planes almost like a river. You can think that conduits help to maintain that flow and/or even exaggerate the flow; and there might be something at play, that I don't wanna touch necessarily, as to why one would want to create these types of conduits, these souls, this creation on the material plane: Something of significance.[27]Steven Sharif

Souls are the conduits for The Essence to travel between the different planes of existence. This idea is an integral component of the broader features in the storyline.[27]

  • The gods are masters of the Essence, but they are separate from it. One didn't create the other, but they exist together in a symbiotic form; where the gods have achieved an almost perfect manipulation of the Essence and of "lesser beings" who exist further from the Essence.[27]
  • The Essence is so powerful it flows through the planes almost like a river. Soul conduits help to maintain or even exaggerate this flow. Detail surrounding this has not yet been revealed but is said to have some significance in the story.[27]
  • King Atrax was the first ruler of Verra to discover the purpose of The Essence, allowing the manipulation of matter and exploitation of magic for any means.[28]
  • The Tulnar have souls and these souls act as conduits for the Essence.[29]

During the Apocalypse, The Ancients created monstrosities and perverted nature with corruption, which is the negative aspect of The Essence.[30]

  • Shape-shifting (changeling) is done so through the Essence by focusing on that specific type of magic.[31]
Any form of changeling or shape shifting that's capable is done so through the Essence. There’s a few ways that a soul can become attuned to a specific type of magic in manipulating the Essence; and overtime as you manipulate the Essence in the same way, your soul can start to develop a tendency to gravitate towards that type of magic. So in that sense- those shape shifters and/or changelings that are capable of changing their form- they do so because they have mastered to a degree that type of magic; and their souls have become attuned to that type of magic.[31]Steven Sharif
  • The Ancients themselves are more sedentary in their physical form and less capable of instantaneous shapeshifting. Their physical manifestations as Lieutenants, captains, generals, and raid bosses were honed over time due to their perversion of the Essence through corruption.[31]
They are literally bred into a role and that role has perfected over time because through the delineation of specific subsects of the soul of the conduit that this race has, those different castes become attuned to different roles. That's why they are traditionally in a caste society.[31]Steven Sharif

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Order of the Steel Bloom

The Order of the Steel Bloom was an order of Knights, specially selected by the wise Aelan queen to carry out near impossible endeavors immediately preceding the exodus.[32]

  • When the divine gateways opened, the Queen ordered her protection to leave her side and make haste to the Brighthold to ensure the success of the Lightpact's crucial mission.[32]

Formed by the wise Aelan queen as she foresaw the impending darkness, the Order of the Steel Bloom consisted of specially selected knights strong of heart and valor. The Order was essential in carrying out nigh impossible endeavors of critical import during the last days of Verra, under the direction of the beloved and revered Lady of the Rose. When the Divine Gates opened, at great personal risk to her own safety, the queen ordered her protection to leave her side and make haste to the Brighthold to ensure the success of the Lightpact’s crucial mission. The Order would not return from the command.[32]

Artwork

See also

References