Gameplay involves earning experience points through a variety of activities, including engaging monsters in combat and fulfilling quests. The earned experience can be invested to improve the character's abilities by spending it in such areas as 'Unarmed Combat', 'War Magic' and 'Melee Defense', among many others. Besides experience points, questing and combat also yield equipment such as armor, weapons, health potions and spell scrolls. Many types of loot can be improved or imbued with special spells and effects via Asheron's Call's crafting system, known as tinkering.
Unlike most other games of this type, Asheron's Call rarely uses typical fantasy fiction to draw ideas from and creates its own creatures instead of elves and goblins — a large majority of the monsters in Asheron's Call are unique to the series. Examples include insect-like Olthoi, the cat-like humanoid Drudges and reptilian Sclavus. The in-game story is advanced by monthly updates, which introduce new quests and gameplay dynamics as part of the subscription package.
AC was developed by Turbine Entertainment Software and published by Microsoft. The first expansion, Dark Majesty, was released in 2001. A second expansion, Throne of Destiny, which includes a graphics upgrade, new player race and new landmass was released on July 18, 2005.
Neither Turbine nor Microsoft have been forthcoming in releasing exact subscription counts, but AC is believed to have peaked in popularity in early 2002 at about 120,000 accounts . A sequel, Asheron's Call 2: Fallen Kings was released on November 22, 2002.
In December 2003, Turbine purchased the rights to the Asheron's Call franchise from Microsoft and assumed full responsibility for content development, customer service, billing and marketing in 2004.
Many unique races and creatures from Asheron's Call can be seen in Wikipedia's list of species in fantasy fiction.
Asheron's Call is known for its friendly stance toward third-party software, particularly Decal, which allows the creation of gameplay-enhancing plug-ins.
The story of Asheron's Call takes place on the planet Auberean which belongs to a race called the Empyrean. The Empyrean are tall humanoids with immense lifespans and a powerful mastery of magic. Prior to Portal Year 0, their civilization dominated the surface of Auberean, a feudalistic, religious society split into several nations such as the Yalain, the Falatacot and the Dericost. The main setting of the game is a small island in the Yalain dominion. The island's name, in Yalaini, is Ireth Lassel.
In PY0, a young Yalaini mage named Asheron Realaidain was experimenting with portal magic when he accidentally opened portals to an alien world. This planet was the homeworld of many monstrous insectlike species. One of the smaller species, the Olthoi, proceeded to invade Auberean via the portals, and legions of black man-sized death machines spewed across the surface of the planet, skewering the corpses of all other inhabitants on their massive pincers, their magic-resistant hides rendering them largely immune to the Empyreans' defenses. Their invasion went almost unchecked and the Olthoi all but annihilated the Empyrean civilization.
In a desperate attempt to save the survivors of his people, Asheron called forth all of his power and summoned many portals, none of their destinations known to him, hoping that one would lead his people to safety. He ushered the last of his race through one of the portals, remaining behind himself to attempt to repair the damage he had caused.
These portals opened to many different worlds, bringing various creatures into Auberean. Most of these creatures were as wild animals, some violent and destructive, but none to match the mindless fury of the Olthoi. One of the portals Asheron opened led to the planet Ispar, the homeworld of the human race. The Isparians were sensitive to portal magic and were lured into the portals that appeared there. Upon arrival on Ireth Lassel, they were instantly enslaved by the Olthoi, who were constructing a hive civilization under the earth. As more and more Isparians arrived, some managed to escape slavery and live as nomads, hiding in the wilderness and defending themselves from the Olthoi with weapons of their own fashioning.
Asheron eventually became aware that these nomad humans were banding together and could conceivably present a real threat to the Olthoi domination. He collaborated with two of the greatest among them, two lovers named Thorsten Cragstone and Elysa Strathelar. Thorsten's axe and Elysa's bow had been the bane of many an Olthoi. Summoning them to his tower, Asheron helped them organize an assault on the lair of the Olthoi Queen. During the raid, Thorsten was struck down by the Queen herself. Enraged, Elysa pulled from her quiver an arrow that Asheron had enchanted for her with an elixir he designed to slay the Olthoi Queen. Elysa let the arrow fly and it struck the Queen in the eye, sending her into death throes that sent waves of primordial fear through the entire Olthoi horde. The head of their hive mind destroyed, the Olthoi domination fell into disarray, freeing the human race from slavery. The player begins as an Isparian freshly summoned from Ispar into post-Olthoi Ireth Lassel, renamed Dereth by the humans.
Asheron remains present to guide the human people from the shadows, hopeful that they can restore his world to its former glory.
In the online role-playing game Asheron's Call, Pyreal is a metal found on the planet Auberean.
In the game, the Isparians (humans), the race to which all player characters belong, collect the metal and use it for various purposes. The Isparians' main source of pyreal is from the enigmatic golems that roam the countryside. These creatures are constructions of the planet's previous master race, the Empyreans, and motes of raw pyreal serve as their brains.
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