Everyone should by now know that I’m a “Old-School” AC player. I’ve been playing AC since the open Beta. No, no, I’m not trying to claim any uberness from that. However, what I am trying to claim is a bit of background that a lot of people that are newer to the world of AC are lacking in. With the growing popularity that AC is going through right now, a lot of people are coming into the world of Dereth and lacking in some of the back history. Likewise, some veteran players who aren’t as familiar with the lore are finding some holes in their knowledge of things like why everyone puts up with Elysa’s incessant whining, where does the chicken meat we eat come from if we never see any chickens around, who does Asheron think he is and where did he get those wonderful hats, etc, etc.
With the Fourth of July celebrations happening here in the States, some of us decided that pyrotechnics were the PERFECT way to explain some of the back-story of Asheron’s Call. Tonight, the staff of NeenerNeener.Net will reveal the hidden past of what really happened to the town of Arwic when it was destroyed in the Shadow Wars. For tonight, we give you…
Part One: The Making Of.
Before we get to the action, I have to take a moment to introduce you to our cast of characters. In a high-budget production like this, I want you all to know that N3 spared no expense (up to $30!) and brought in only the most talented performers to re-enact this gripping tale of fighting, fury, and, most importantly, fire. Without further ado, I give you…the Players:
It occurred to me that you couldn’t do an accurate portrayal of someone so great as Asheron without introducing someone…well, someone great. My first thought was for Sean Connery. However, after reviewing his contract and our financial, ah, capabilities, Mr. Connery informed us what we could do with our script. While theoretically possible physically, it didn’t sound very comfortable, so we instead chose to pass and hire someone a bit less… pricey. A trip to the local talent agency (sometimes referred to as the “bargain bin of the local Kmart Toy Aisle”) presented us with a fine choice: King Théoden! Not only did he have the whole white hair thing already going, but he also came with a cape! And while we all know that capes don’t exist in Asheron’s Call, it’s also true that capes can be great absorbers of flammable liquids. Quid pro quo.
Playing opposite such a powerful performer as King Théoden would require someone with a powerful presence, strong personality, the ability to think quickly, and, most importantly, cheapness. All of this and more were found in the lovable character of “Quidditch Match Harry Potter,” another find from our local talent agency. Although Harry at first was hesitant to get involved in our project due to strict legal restrictions on his appearances, some quick-thinking by our legal team brought up the issue that while he was not allowed to make public appearances as himself, there were in fact no limitations on him appearing as a demon specifically destined to blow up and burn in a tastefully done manner. However, he still felt a bit hesitant to perform, so the clause was added that he would portray Bael’zharon slightly drunk, which worked perfect for the Director – especially since Harry couldn’t be made to stand up straight even with a liberal application of highly-flammable rubber cement to his feet.
Some people were confused by the appearance of Bael’zharon in this entire affair, stating that when Arwic was destroyed, he was still imprisoned. However, I think the record will clearly show that he had a hand in the destruction. (Also, since we couldn’t find anything to make an explosive Shadow Spire out of, we had to settle for this, okay?)
Next we were faced with the difficult task of casting the Leading Lady to play opposite of King Théoden and Harry. Gillian Anderson being the first choice (of course), we were unfortunately disappointed to learn that her agent refused to even show her the script when he learned that most of her scenes involved wearing a bikini and wrestling with Kwipette in a kiddy pool full of mud. Kwipette also expressed some unhappiness with the script (mostly through well-placed kicks to my groin).
Although I was strongly discouraged by their complete lack of artistic vision, I nevertheless pursued an alternative casting choice. This was found in the local talent agency under the guise of the Blue Power Ranger Ninja Storm. She had the guise, pose, character, and, most importantly, boobies that were needed to fulfill such a demanding role. She also had the Power Kick ability that was useful for such things as kicking Shadows, kicking walls, chasing Kampahn around and flicking his ears when he wasn’t looking and assaulting any insects we found nearby. We pretended they were Olthoi and had quite a wild adventure, but this proved too much distraction and we had to get back to work.
For the massive amount of Shadow Forces we needed, we put out an open call in Variety magazine. Luckily for us, there was a Toy Soldier convention in town that day, and we wound up with fifty willing plastic army soldiers of the green and tan variety. Not wanting to face a racially-charged lawsuit (or to be associated with the oppressive “Man”), we at first were a bit distraught over how to handle the obvious differences in appearances of our Shadow Soldiers and the original Shadows.
Just when everything seemed lost, we had a last-minute audition by an up and coming young star known as Highly Flammable Black Spray Paint. Mr. Paint, or Spray as we were allowed to call him, turned out to be a godsend. Not only was he completely open and easy to work with, but he followed directions like an automaton and brought an amazing amount of energy (and flammability) to the cast.
The first stop for our actors was the make-up trailer. Well, not “trailer” so much as “picnic table.” We were, after all, operating on a limited budget and didn’t really have time to properly cater to all of the massive egos we were being forced to deal with. Since the smaller names are always the easiest to work with, our first match up was for our Shadows to meet their co-star, Mr. Paint.
I had a lot of skepticism going into this. Kampahn insisted that the Shadows would deal fine with Mr. Paint, but I still had a lot of reservations about Mr. Paint’s ability to deal with his fifty co-stars. My fears were for naught, as it turned out. Not only were the Shadows open and accepting of Mr. Paint, but Mr. Paint himself was just downright enveloping of the Shadows! He took to them like me on a pint of Ben & Jerry’s! He surrounded them, using his massive personality and charm to cover their nervousness and insecurities. Like an old hand, he quickly took over the Shadows and had them moving as a single unit until you couldn’t tell the difference between him and them. Our little cast was beginning to take shape!
Well, once the big names got to see how well their younger co-stars did, it was really a simple matter to convince them to sit patiently for their own make up applications. Elysa was even kind enough to volunteer to go first! There was some uncertainty in her make-up sketches, as she had an outer vestment (some fancy black hauberk with rather crappy al, if you ask me). After a lot of debate between the producers as to whether she would be better suited with an application of rubber cement to her or to her armor, it was decided as a compromise that liberal amounts of rubber cement would be applied to both.
Théoden and Harry both took their places and joined in the making-up, and it must be said that anyone that shows up to be coated with highly flammable rubber cement wearing a massive cloak is okay in my book! Théoden took to the cement like… well, like a plastic figure being coated in glue! I had some concerns over Harry’s ability to take to this make-up, but it turns out that his very fashionable robe also has lots of wonderful little nooks and crannies that allow for some wonderful pooling of cement.
While our cast was being suitably made up, scouting began for the perfect location to film our adventure. Again I attempted to turn to the lovely and talented Gillian Anderson, but despite my most convincing face and assurances that I will adhere to the terms laid down in the restraining order after this one exception, she refused to allow us to use her shower. Also, she assured me her bedroom was right out. Lost, I began driving aimlessly around looking for something to match our needs. When the police showed up a few minutes later and asked while I was doing circles in Ms. Anderson’s driveway, they were not satisfied with my answers. Hrmph. Philistines.
Undeterred, I again turned to our current cast for a solution. The soldiers turned out to be more than just suitable stand-ins for Shadows – it seems they brought with them a hill that would do perfectly for a hill on the outskirts of Arwic. While it lacked anything in the form of a lifestone, trees, or any other recognizable markings from the hills surrounding the real Arwic, I felt confident this could be added in later with some clever CGI.
We had our cast, we had our setting. Now all we needed were the technical geniuses that accomplished such amazing feats as making Spiderman swing through the air, Gollum look so amazingly alive and giving Simon (of that American Idol show) the appearance of being human.
With a rapidly-declining budget, we were forced to turn to local talent once again. But once again, this turned out to be a remarkably lucky break for us, as we were put in touch with the truly amazing special effects team known as Explosives. Now, Explosives are usually known for their reckless danger and ability to part drunken rednecks from their wicked evil-doing fingers, but they took the time to listen to our concept and quickly signed on board and offered some of their own artistic vision to the project. For example: did you know that coating things in hair spray makes them even more flammable? It was this sort of insight that gave our project the final “Ooomph” (not to mention “Wooosh Sizzle Crackle”) it was so desperately lacking up until now.
I give you: the Defenders of Arwic!
One thing was still lacking: the players. Oh, sure, we had plenty of the ‘big names’ covered, but one of the things that players in Asheron’s Call had long complained about was the feeling that so many of the stories took place ‘behind the scenes’ – happening off-line when no one was around to witness them, let alone partake of them. We didn’t want our project to have that same sort of feeling to it. We wanted the player base to be fairly represented; we wanted people to look at one of our scenes and be able to identify their friends or at least people they had seen in the town of Arwic prior to it’s destruction. Unfortunately, this hadn’t come up any point sooner, so we were left short-handed and with very little time to do anything about it. We tried to get a hold of some of the characters we knew hung around the “Arwic Greens” as it came to be known, but with such short notice, we had very little luck. (The “Arwic Green,” for those of you wondering, was the large stretch of lawn in the middle of town were much of the trading and, erm, chatting were done.)
Once again, our cast came to the rescue: asking for just a few minutes, a long-distance phone card and a portal gem, our Elysa and Asheron took this project under their wing. Fifteen minutes later, they returned with a group of actors that would fool anyone into believing they were actual players from the days of the Arwic Green. The likeness was amazing.
Finally, our cast, crew and location were assembled.
The Shadow Army, doing what it
In the early light of dawn in the month of Thistledown, PY11, the Shadow forces of Bael’zharon and the lackies allies of Asheron and Elysa assembled themselves for battle outside of Arwic. The Shadows proved to be an unreliable bunch, and instead of standing nobly at their master’s side, the little bastiches kept falling down in an obviously cowardly attempt to flee the battlefield. Although confident in his ability to trounce the “Goody-Goodies” Asheron and Elysa, Bael’zharon felt a bit frustrated at his army’s apparent lack of motivation and dedication to his cause and searched for a method of inspiration he could use on them. He tried his magicks, both new and old, as well as threats, curses, vows of bodily harm, insults to their mothers AND their fathers. However, nothing seemed to work as his soldiers fled his side in droves to tumble from the battlefield and instead seek shelter in the nearby grass. But without his ally Highly Flammable Rubber Cement (who had expended his power during the application of Make Up), all seemed lost.
|This blatant cowardice was brought to a sudden halt by the introduction of the military disciplinarian known as “Sgt. Hair Spray.” Not only is Sgt. Hair Spray a highly flammable substance, but it turns out it’s adhesive properties were unknown even to the special effects masters, Explosives.
With the arrival of Sgt. Hair Spray, the Shadow Army once again drew together as an cohesive (and adhesive) unit and rallied to be at their master’s side. Hurling threats, war cries and harmful vapors, the Shadow Army lined up as ordered and prepared for the initial assault against the forces of Good, knowing that many of them would never survive the initial clash.
Sgt. Hair Spray turned out to be such a fine motivator, in fact, he was lent briefly to the Defenders in order to properly motivate some of their less-motivated members (ie, everyone). By careful application (spraying it over every single inch), Sgt. Hair Spray brought his unique brand (Aqua-Net) of feistiness and motivation to the battlefield.
|The initial assault was launched by Bael’zharon – as was proper, of course. Being the Bad Guy has SOME advantages, and chief amongst them was the ability of First Strike.
Bael’zharon detonated a pair of fireballs at the feet of the Defenders of Arwic. Unfortunately for Bael’zharon, this was not nearly as impressive as if he had detonated the fireballs ON the feet of the Defenders. Instead of reacting in the manner Bael’zharon had come to expect from the poof-ish Empyreans he was so used to doing battle with, the Defenders not only weren’t intimidated enough to just fall over and die, but they openly mocked him with derisive cries, rude gestures, comments about “Lag,” and much showing of their bottoms.
|However, as Luck sometimes favors villains, Bael’zharon’s initial assault had one positive effect. One of the sparks from his fireballs fell upon the fuse for the magic fireball-slinging wand of the Defender’s that was supposed to be held in reserve for the final defense of Arwic. In a total betrayal of it’s duty to the Defenders, it instead chose to side with what it perceived as the powerhouse in this conflict, Bael’zharon and his Shadow Army. Seizing the opportunity presented by the Defender’s attention being focused on the attackers, the wand chose to blow right the hell up with no warning whatsoever and shoot flames, sparks and general confusion amongst the Defenders.
There was some speculation that this wasn’t entirely an accident – rumor has it Asheron was briefly spotted backing away from the wand with a lit match muttering, “Whoops!” However, as all witnesses are now a charred mass of plastic, putting any credence to that rumor is difficult, to say the least.
|Elysa, sensing Imminent Doom (TM) for the Defenders, chose this time to reveal her secret “Wand of Blasting the Hell Out of Anything Standing in My Way.” Bael’zharon chose to chose HIS secret power at this time of letting his face melt in a gooey pile.
Was Elysa motivated by the need to strike out after the treachery of their back-up Wand? Or was this a carefully timed strike, planned to strike terror in the black hearts of the Defenders and crumble their initial charge?
Or did a spark from the wand land on Elysa’s head, setting her on fire and resulting in everything she was holding blowing up? We may never know…
|Not to be outdone, Asheron chose this moment to launch his crushing offensive. Unfortunately, this was a rather pathetic attempt, and the only casualties caused by his attack was one of the Defenders that was standing too close to him catching on fire.
When asked later to comment on Asheron’s strategy of setting fire to his fellow Defenders as a determent to attacking forces, Mr. C. Bear of Arwic had this to say: “Don’t put that f—ing a–hole near me again, you hear me? If he comes within five landblocks of me, I’m going medieval on his a–! Uh, can someone help me change my bandages now?”
|The Shadow Army was struck with sudden fear at this point: What if the entire Defending Army blew themselves up instead of being properly destroyed by the Shadows? Faced with this horrific concept, the Shadows chose to launch one of their secret weapons: the Whizzer Flare Truck! A vehicle cram-packed with so many flammable substances, Magma Golems were prohibited from so much as looking at it, lest a smoldering gaze accidentally ignite it and destroy them all!
This would prove to be a turning point in the battle. While some blows had been struck by either side, nobody was seriously hurt – that is, engulfed in flames. The Whizzer Flare Truck took one look at this situation and promised to resolve that little oversight with the help of everyone’s favorite combustible substance, Rubber Cement.
|Whizzer Flare Truck proved true to his word. A few seconds after he launched his assault, Arwic Hill caught fire, causing a number of the Defenders to briefly stop spamming for trades and instead begin spamming for frost spells, water hoses and buckets of water to their face.
Unfortunately for them, it wouldn’t be until after Arwic was destroyed that Secure Trading would be introduced, so while many of them thought they were trading for buckets of water, they were in fact being given buckets of highly-flammable Isparian Ale and Shreth urine.
Yes, that sure sounds humorous. But if you’ve never been on fire and had a bucket of Shreth Urine dumped on your face, why, you just go ahead and color yourself lucky right now, mister.
|Things really began looking dark for our Defenders at this point (well, except for the ones on fire – everything looked pretty bright to them, but in that strange, flickering way that says you’re either in the middle of a desert or else on fire, and either way, you’re not going to have fun).
With nothing left to lose, they summoned up one of their secret weapons, the Big Giant Sparkler of Fun. As advertised, this was to launch enormous streams of sparks into the air. Sparks that would hopefully catch the evil Shadow Army on fire and melt them down to their primal components of… erm… plastic and… er… paint.
|The Big Giant Sparkler of Fun goes off as intended. In fact, it detonates with such amazing force, it has the added side effect of blowing out the fire on Arwic Hill and it’s inhabitants!
The flares were truly glorious to behold. They arched in a glowing line over the battlefield in a truly inspiring manner.
|Unfortunately, due to some pretty poor planning by the Defenders, the flares don’t arc over the enemies so much as fall down upon the Defenders’ heads.
Elysa decides she’s had just about enough of this and bursts into flames.
Bael’zharon, perhaps inspired by this amazing display of pyrotechnics, decides he has had quite enough of fighting and gives into his latent homosexual urges and launches himself straight at Asheron’s crotch. Asheron, already confused by a boyhood locker room experience, collapses backwards half-heartedly trying to fend off Bael’zharon’s advances.
|At this point the fighting has become so violent and intense that the battle can be witnessed from orbit. To represent this, a globe is introduced to the fray.
The globe, packed with various sorts of explosives and all manners of flame-producing materials doesn’t really serve any purpose other than to blow up in a colorful and interesting manner.
|Agent: The Globe
Mission: Blow up in a colorful and interesting manner.
The Globe, who was originally going to be nothing more than a colorful backdrop to the entire battle, instead decides to steal the show by setting fire to anything within a three mile radius. We had a couple of fire extinguishers on hand in case things got too out of control, and the Globe not only set them on fire, but it also proceeded to make nasty comments about their mothers as it burned off the Earth’s atmosphere.
|The battle has gotten completely out of control at this point. Elysa is engulfed in flames, and last we saw of Bael’zharon was a flaming nose dive into Asheron’s crotch. The two are now engulfed in the flames of passion.
Also, the flames of rubber cement, which tend to burn a tad bit hotter.
The Arwic Hill has now caught fire, and is having nothing to do with any of this ‘extinguishing’ nonsense. It’s got itself good and fiery, by golly, and no puny explosions will deter it from taking itself and all of it’s occupants to Hell in a fiery doom.
|Kampahn even attempts to test this by dropping a few packages of fire crackers onto the Hill. Not only do they not blow out the flames of war, but they blast one of the previously undetonated fireworks to the adjoining landblock, where it joyfully explodes in a self-satisfied sort of “WHOOSH.”
There were a lot of things tested in this battle. Important things like, how much hairspray is too much, and what effect covering a piece of plastic in rubber cement has; but most importantly, we tested the surface of the earth adjacent to Kampahn’s house and learned that it would not be cracking due to explosions any time soon.
Unless, of course, the blasts we subjected it to only served to weaken it and now it’s waiting for Kampahn to fall asleep so it can unleash it’s river of magma for some all-out fun, lava style!
|Arwic is now a burning mass of burnination. Any attempts by the Defenders to get out of the flames are met with suicidal charges by the Shadow Army who leap upon them and clutch them in a suicidal (and somewhat erotic) hug, dragging them both into the flames and fiery destruction.
Shadow soldiers that had hung back from the initial fray are now finding themselves on fire also, little more than kindling to the fires of destruction sweeping across Arwic. Although the cow was never officially spotted, it is suspected that this was the moment it met it’s untimely demise, as the smoke suddenly acquired a rather barbeque-ish odor.
Which was difficult to discern from the smell of melting plastic, let me just tell you…
|I give you: Charwic. The destruction of Arwic is now complete, as little more than flames are left. Asheron popped his head up about five minutes ago from a nearby bush, muttering about having to go over and help defend Cragstone. Two minutes later, Bael’zharon popped out from behind the same bush and muttered something about not having been present at all and having been locked in a soul stone the entire time and any comments to the opposite would result in swift and decisive punishment from his lawyers.
Elysa, it should be noted, appeared out of the flames, quite charcoaled herself, and spent twenty minutes trying to organize a defense of Arwic. When someone pointed out to her that Arwic was already a smoldering crater, she commented “Of course it is, because nobody would listen to me!” and recalled to Cragstone.
There you have it. Now you know what happened during that hidden time in Dereth’s past, when Arwic was briefly wiped from existence. Yes, there is a New Arwic now, but you have to wonder – how flammable are those fancy new buildings?
I used to have such pretty hands. All the fingers were there, and very few scars. However, I am an artist, and I’m committed to presenting you the Truth as it occurs. Or at least as it occurs to me.
As you see here, prior to the start of this endeavor, My digits were intact. Unfortunately, it was not to remain so.
|Here you seem my arm cleanly blown off, revealing my cybernetic titanium skeleton. After my secret was revealed, I had to kill everyone present to protect myself.
Kids, fireworks are not toys. However, they are a lot of fun, provided you only detonate them in buckets of water. So don’t play with them!
Otherwise something like the following might happen:
Kwip Blows Up (requires Windows Media Player)
Uh, wait, before you go there, let me just set the stage for you: we’ve completed the destruction of Arwic, and now Kampahn and I are merely playing burnination with anything that looks remotely flammable while Bats videotapes it so that forensic detectives will be able to piece together exactly where we blew ourselves up. Although this scene looks staged, I assure you it is not. The dialogue goes something like this:
Kampahn: “You know, we still have an undetonated firework in here?”
Kwip: (brief pause to ponder this potentially dangerous fact, then) “Pffffft.”
Bats: “Four minutes” (Bats was keeping track of how many minutes we have left on the tape, not just shouting our random time intervals)
Kwip: (as Kampahn attempts to move something away from the fire) “No, throw that on there, let it burn. It WANTS to burn. Now gimme a match.”
(convinced things weren’t burning quite fast enough, I decide to take matters into my own hands and ‘help’ the fire.)
Kwip: (applying said match) “Alright, watch yourself. I’d hate to see you get hurt as a result of me trying to run…”
(at this point, Mr. Undetonated Firework decides to make his presence known, resulting in me trying to accelerate my massive ass away from the hot burning things and Bats’ erupting into near-seizure quality laughter. You’ll notice he erupted into laughter BEFORE assuring that I was unexploded. Bastich.)
So kids, I appreciate it if you find this funny. But please DO NOT try and be as stupid as me, okay?
Kwip & Co.