The new content arrived in last night's rather massive patch; as usual the middle computer needed its anti-virus switched off to accept the download, but otherwise things went smoothly, and at around eight, before breakfast, I was attempting to log in to the new-look Last Chaos. The only problem was that I couldn't connect to the server - and a quick look at the forum shoutbox informed me that the servers were still, after seven hours, not up.
So, I wasn't able to start my characters doing their attendance half hours; the servers stayed down over breakfast, over shopping, and were still down at ten o'clock - 2:00am for the poor GMs over in California.
Still, the patch notes made things look very tempting. The Christmas event had finally started of course, and the product manager boasted that three bugs had been fixed - the cap on defence in the PvP arena had been lifted, so that classes with high defence get a fair fight with classes with high attack, a drop called "golden skill book boxes" can now actually be opened to give skill books, and the problem on Katar where memory scrolls sometimes lost your saved locations, particularly if you'd used an expansion card, is apparently now over.
As for the new content, we have a new dungeon in Strayana (not that I've been to all the existing ones yet), the succubus pet has arrived (sounds expensive), there are new character appearance options, "all new class skills and guild skills", a new design for the user interface (just minor tweaks), new armour for castle siege winners, a new ranking system, new "SWAT" style police C2 costume covers, and "new monster mercenary cards". "Check the web item mall frequently as some of the new content may go on sale very soon", we were urged.
The extended maintenance downtime seemed to be based on a problem with vanishing pets, and the GMs and other Aeria types worked on through the night. In the shoutbox, we were being cautioned not to even attempt to log in until we had been given an official all-clear. And we were eager to get in; some classes had new low-level skills to get and try out, including a cleric one that would boost all party members' experience and skill exp gain. This would only for people actually within range, but still seemed rather tempting.
In the spirit of Christmas, Aeria also sent out their "use this code to get some free aeria points" emails, and this year I did get this - last year all my accounts missed out. It's only 100 ap, but it's the thought that counts. Three of my accounts also got a general email about the new content, though having a big "Play Now!" button was mildly annoying, when the server situation wouldn't actually allow that.
At 10:44am UK time, [GM]Ozymandias proudly announced that the pets had been saved, and they were now working to make sure the problem didn't recur; [GM]Yatou also put in a tiny back-up appearance("Yay"), just to prove she was still there at a quarter to three in the morning. Ozy was even keeping a close enough eye on the shoutbox to caution people not to be rude, just after eleven - and by half past eleven, the servers were officially up.
When Kaerella, my Cariae cleric, logged in, she found she did indeed have two new skills to learn - and another, Soul of Cleric, which needed a special skill book and a certificate of guardianship. Holy Bless ("Increase EXP and SP earned by nearby party members for awhile" cost 128 sp for its first level, followed by 240, and 450, with six levels in all, the fourth at 120; Mana Heal ("Recovers appointed target's MP") was 200 sp for its first level, followed by 450, with its final level also coming along when Kae reaches 120.
MistressSabina also had two skills to learn, with an extra one, Soul of Witch, needing a skill book and certificate of guardianship, added to her future, since it comes in at level 90. Parasite ("Strongly curses enemy and when the enemy dies, parasites come out by chance and detonates nearby enemies"), with four levels starting with 180 sp, and Great Curse ("Reduces appointed target's movement speed and defence"), with three levels starting with 200 sp, were the two skills Sabina could now learn. The second level of Parasite comes when Sabina reaches 65, and the second level of Great Curse at 70.
Barbarienne of course is rather short of skill points, and had been trying to save up enough for her level 112 skill - but the points she had farmed slowly in the Tomb recently looked now as if they are now going elsewhere. Soul of Archer is the level 90 skill needing the book and certificate, plus 450 sp, but four levels of Bless Arrow ("Fires Bless Arrow at appointed character which temporarily increases his/her max HP/MP"), for 160 and 400 skill points was do-able; the third level had become available, at 110, but Barb didn't have all the 770 sp needed for that yet.
In Randol, MistressDomina noticed a knight called xXShieldXx in merchant mode, offering "105-107 mage set Orlwin". The gloves, boots and circlet were +13, so were no improvement, for their defence, on MD's current level 85 and 87 ones, but her level 86 jacket and pants were only +13, so level 106 versions did seem a tempting improvement. They were both blue-named and with the five evasion seals; the skirt was even +14. As a bonus, the armour had three level two gems, in its sockets, giving some extra magical hit rate (opal), physical constitution (topaz), and physical evasion (aquamarine), and the skirt had the opal and topaz too.
Equipping the two armour pieces increased MistressDomina's magical hit rate from 741 to 759, and her physical evasion from 1190 to 1194 - and increased her physical defence from 2641 to 2814. And the cost? Between them, 2.3 billion, so my merchant's cash reserves are pretty low again now.
As a wizard, MistressDomina didn't have any new medium-level skills to learn, though Soul of Wizard ("Summons ancient weapon with Wizard's spirit") will be available once she has the skill book required (from the Akan Temple raid), a certificate of guardianship, and just 450 skill points for the single level. Visiting the skill trainer did however remind me that there were a couple of passive skills to top up: the seventh level of Mana Flow, for 1100 skill points, to increase her health/hit points and mana points, just by 10 each, and the eighth level of Staff Mastery, for 700 skill points, to increase her magical attack power, from 2537 to 2549.
GerMex has now asked to be kicked from the Discipline guild, as he has reached level 60, so I don't have any responsibility for him any more - he seems to have got off to a good start anyway, and is hoping a friend will power-level him to 73, as he has a +15 weapon to use then. Keerella had earned one of those guardianship certificates when he reached level 50; she claimed her reward, and luckily I found that the item can be traded, so it has been passed across to Kaerella.
There was time after all these excitements and investigations for a full evening session, at least, so Kaerella and Barbarienne headed for the ancient grey mummies in the Tomb of Theos on Cariae-4, since the Auzura Tomb was still on maximum hard. There was a night shadow there when we arrived; Naomi and Fay came for a while too, but after that we had the place to ourselves, and indeed when Kaerella ran out to the exit afterwards, she didn't pass anyone.
Kaerella's new Holy Bless buff increased experience gain by 10% and skill exp gain by 15%, I found, so we used that all the time, as well as Encourage on Barb and Charm on Kae. Naomi gave us the third-level Bless Arrow, which gave Kae 660 more health and 15% more mana; it lasted a full hour. Barb's second level version just lasted 30 minutes, giving 379 more health and 10% more mana.
In all, Kaerella added 3.23% experience and 81 skill points, plus 4715 pet points. Barbarienne earned 2.87% experience and 80 skill points, with the polar bear cub gaining 88.43%, getting well into level 26.
While Kae was leaving the Tomb, it was announced that presents would be appearing under the central Christmas tree in Randol in five minutes, so Kaerella went back there. The gifts this time were 30 medium-size blue candy canes, giving a mana boost; Kae quickly got rid of the two of those she had remaining from last year, as they don't stack and you can only have one package at a time, and grabbed her pressie. Barbarienne got some too - and then, thanks to the skill points she had earned, was able to learn that third level of Bless Arrow. SirKit was able to log in and get a pack as well.
CaptainScarlet had kept busy pet-levelling through the evening on Auzura-4, and that meant he got his drake up to the 70% mark in level 45 before the end of the evening.
There is more to say about how the Christmas event, running "from 21st December 2010 to 4th January 2010", but let's leave something for tomorrow, yes...?