Making the New World Feel Authentic
For the past few years in Hollywood one of the in vogue things to do is reboot a franchise and watch it make millions. Nowhere has this been more pervasive than with superhero movies. Some of these movies have been instant classics, such as Batman Begins, and some of them have left people scratching their heads wondering what they just saw, here is looking at you Man of Steel. Almost all have been commercial successes. To continue the trend of what is old is new again and in an attempt to pocket a lot of coin in the process SOE has decided to reboot the EverQuest franchise instead of making a direct sequel. There will be a number of touchpoints that seem similar, such as names and places, but they will have a new story surrounding them.
The primary concern when rebooting a franchise as beloved as EverQuest is making sure that this new world feels authentic. A number of times the developers referred to JJ Abrams and his version of Star Trek. While the story was wholly new the universe still felt like Star Trek. This level of authenticity is what they hope to achieve with EQN. In order to do this they have created a historical timeline that spans over 10,000 years. Along that timeline they have placed certain hooks where authors could write and tell stories. There is currently one e-book, The Last Stand of the Teir’Del, with another on the way on the EQN website. Additionally there are 11 shorts stores in the editing process that will help flesh out this new Norrath.
Some of you may be wondering, what’s the point? The point is if you take your character out into the world and start digging just to see what you can discover you should be able to find something. That something you find should not just be a random piece of pottery. If you do find a clay jar or some other artifact there should be a reason that clay jar is there to begin with. Some society in the past should have created it to serve a purpose. With this large volume of history at their disposal the designers can create relevant artifacts and have the world procedurally place them where they make sense. You should never find a 400 year old vase in a place that has not been inhabited for the past 1000 years. Little details like this make the world feel real.
The history of the world is broken up into four eras. Within these eras exist ages. The first two eras are the Keldarain and the Lost era. The first era that really starts to shape the world we live in during EQN is the Dal Era. The Dal Era lasted for 2000 years and was broken into 4 ages. Ages are divided by cultural events that vastly change the culture but do not completely destroy the society. The first age of the Dal Era was the Age of Ascension. This was followed by the Age of Allies where the Elves discovered how to use the mage spires to travel quickly. At this point the elves were quick to form bonds with other races. The elves even initially considered the Shissar their friends. The Age of Allies was brought to an end by the Shissar War. The Shissar used the mage spires to travel across the land and enslave all the races. They almost succeeded in conquering Norrath. The combined races were able to seal the spires and with the Shissar in their own lands. This was followed by the Takish Age. The Takish Age was defined by elvan paranoia and racial tension. The Koada’Dal, who in EQ and EQII lore are a race of their own, are only a societal caste in EQN, started to subjugate other races. At this point the elves unlocked their own form of magic. This magic was so potent the development team has referred to it as the elves nuclear deterrent. It was so powerful even the dragons were afraid of it. The elves were able subjugate the wyverns and drakes, and the dragons fled to Vellios. The Takish age stood for hundreds of years and would have stood for hundreds more until it was laid low by the Sundering.
The Sundering is when one of the magic spires that powered the elves magic exploded and ushered in a new age. With the spires destruction the elves magic was lost to them. It is worth mentioning that the team may change the name of the sundering to something that seems a little less generic. No longer armed with their power magic elvan society began to break down. During this time a number of small civil wars broke out but eventually a strained peace was finally achieved.
The final age of the Dal Era is the Dragon War (which is not shown on the map). Not long to suffer at the hands of fools the dragons sought their revenge when they discovered the elves were no longer able to hold them at bay. The dragons killed thousands of people and destroyed the last remnants of the Takish civilization. The elves along with dwarves, ogers, humans, kerrans, and gnomes formed the Combine Accord. The Combine was eventually forced to leave and travel to Kunark where they would hopefully rebuild.
The current era that the game will take place in is the Combine Era. During this time the Combine will become the dominant force in Norrath, but not at first. This era is split into two ages, the first of which is the Age of Exile. The Age of Exile lasted for 500 years. During this time the Combine forces arrived at Kunark to find their old friends the shissar waiting for them. They were captured and enslaved by the shissar. In addition the shissar had a slave force of iksar. Over time the iksar decided to align themselves with the combine to overthrow their shissar masters. They were successful in this venture. The combine and iskar forces started to develop individual societies in parallel with each other. Eventually the iksar started to become more hostile towards the combine forces and internally had decided they were going to take up the shackles they shed from the shissar and place them on the combine. Sensing their time of peace of Kunark had drawn to an end the combine forces decided to leave and go back to their ancient homeland.
The Age of Heroes. This is where we will join our heroes and write our own adventures. The combine forces are not sure what they will find then they make their way back home. They establish a foothold on this unexplored land and name it Qeynos. The developers compared Qeynos to Mos Eisley. There will be some good and some bad but ultimately the players will decide how it evolves.
Gods and deities will be different in EQN too. The deities in EQN will be tangible influences on how you play the game and not just a raid target. Upon release of EQN no one will have seen a god in the world but there are a number of belief systems: The Serapsh, The Four, Veeshan, and Nori.
The Seraphs are worshipped by the combine. There Seraphs are made up of 8 gods and goddesses and while their names will be recognizable to EverQuest veterans their roles will be different. There are Luclin and Drinal the Seers, goddesses of prophecy and the past. Tailin the goddess of rogues and brigands. Anashti the reaper. Solusek the god of fire and arcane study. Erollisi the goddess of love, nature, and growth. Mithaniel the champion, god of war, honor and duty. Brell the builder and Karana the traveler.
The Four is an older religion originating before the Dal Era and is focused on the worship of four gods and goddesses based on the elements. Prexus the god of water, Amaril the goddess of earth, Ignestus god of fire, and Ohnsha goddess of air. Veeshan is worshiped by dragons and dragons spawn. There are also some humanoids that worship Veeshan but they are on the fringe and would be considered more of a cult than a religion. While they are part of the combine the kerrans believe in Nor’I. Nor’I represents the world spirit of Norrath.
Lore is an important part of any roleplaying experience. While not everyone will appreciate it for what it is, a vital history behind a game is a necessity. Lore is one of those things that you may not miss until you need it, but if you need it and do not have it you are lost. Having a fresh take on an old story like this also makes the game that much more accessible to new players. I have read the Last Stand of the Tier’Dal and while it probably will not win a Hugo award it does a serviceable job of showing us the events that lead up to the fall of Bastion and the end of the Dragon War era. You know how I feel on the subject, but what about you? Do you think the lore of EQN is worth making such a big fuss over? Let us know in the comments below.
Robert Lashley / Robert Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com and RTSGuru.com. Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can chase him down on twitter @Grakulen