Pull up a chair. Gather round and allow me to welcome you to Chronicles of One Telaran. My name is Paul Crilley, and I'm a Scottish writer living in South Africa. I write novels, television scripts, and computer games, but here I'll be presenting a weekly series where I put my trusty dwarf warrior Caedryn through his paces in Trion Worlds’ MMORPG, RIFT. I’ll discuss some of the lore of the game, the history of the world it takes place in, plus touch upon some of the quests that will get you leveling up. I’m new to RIFT, but the game itself has been going strong for six months now, (Never let it be said that I’m ahead of the curve. I still have a pile of VHS tapes I can’t bring myself to throw away. Hey, you never know. DVD players the world over might suddenly stop working one day. Then we’ll see who’s laughing. Hint: It will be me.), so even if you’re at level 50 I hope some of the background information I present will make your game-playing a richer experience.
So… with this being very first article, what better place to start than with the creation of the world?
The Gods of Telara are called the Vigil, and they molded Telara from a substance called sourcestone much as a child molds strange and worrying creatures from play-dough. They handed this world over to the races of Telara, who were all very pleased with this new gift. That is, until the gods from the wrong side of the track noticed. These gods were called the Blood Storm, and as their name suggests, they weren't very nice.
At the head of the Blood Storm was Regulos, the embodiment of death itself. He and his gang spent most of their time traveling across the universe, devouring entire worlds as they went. (As you do.) But you know how it is after a big meal. You just want to relax a bit. Sit back and put your feet up. So when they arrived at Telara, the lesser gods didn’t really want anything else to eat. They were full to bursting, and even the tiniest morsel more would make them explode like Monty Python’s Mr. Creosote. (Look it up if you haven’t seen it. Your life will be more fulfilled for having done so.)
The lesser gods decided they would rather rule over Telara rather than eat it. But Regulos, a god who always has room for dessert, even if it isn’t Jell-o, disagreed. And seeing as neither would back down, it was on, my friends. The lesser gods manifested themselves as great dragons and fought against Regulos. But while the Embodiment of Death itself was busy with this troublesome betrayal, the people of Telara launched a surprise attack of their own and killed him. (Although, not really killed him. Just put him out of action for a while. You know how it is.) With the help of the Vigil, (who were deeply apologetic about the whole thing. They were out at a movie when all this was going down), they trapped the five lesser dragons in elemental prisons and created a magical barrier called the Ward to protect Telara.
The Age of Man
So now it was the turn of Mankind, and as everyone knows, Mankind can’t be relied upon for, well… pretty much anything, really, except war, greed, and the occasional act of kindness. (What, me? Cynical? Never.) When King Jostir died, a succession battle erupted between his twin sons, Zareph and Aedraxis. Civil war erupted, and Aedraxis, the silly, ambitious chap that he was, allowed himself to become corrupted by the Dragon Cults so that he was now the living embodiment of Regulos’ power on Telara.
In the final battle between himself and his brother, Aedraxis thought it would a jolly good idea to pierce the Ward with Defiant techno-magic and call on his new best bud, Regulos, to help him win the war. Regulos' power flooded through the rift in the Ward, manifesting as something the Telarans now call the Shade. The Shade looked like the drunken offspring of the Kraken and Cthulhu, and its black tendrils of death devastated quite a lot of Telara, killing even Prince Aedraxis himself.
So that kinda backfired on him.
As the game starts, the Ward that protects Telara is crumbling. Rifts between the planes and Telara are opening up all over the place, and the Blood Storm are waking up inside their prisons, stretching their legs, and wondering if there is any breakfast around.
But there is hope. The Vigil have started bringing back those killed on the battlefield, imbuing them with the souls of ancient heroes. These reborn are called Ascended, and it is these Ascended who are now responsible for defending Telara against Regulos and the threats from the planes.
Enter Caedryn: dwarf, warrior, raconteur, and erstwhile killer of gods.
At the beginning of the game, I am asked which faction I want to play. Guardian or Defiant. The Guardians are geared toward the heroic fantasy model, while the Defiant have turned away from the Gods of the Vigil and rely on techno-magic to create eldritch machines and weapons. They both want to stop the Blood Storm. They just have different philosophies and methods of doing so. I decide to play as a Guardian.
My next choice is to decide what race I want to be. I'm usually pretty mainstream when creating my game characters and my default choice is human. But this time I thought I'd try something different and go with the dwarf. Why not? Live on the edge, is what I say.
Next up is to pick my class. This is the big one, as it defines how you play the game. The options are Warrior, Rogue, Cleric, and Mage. I pick a warrior, as there are few things in life as satisfying as swinging a huge sword around in a computer game. A voice in my head wonders if there’s perhaps something Freudian about that, but my dog told me to ignore the voices, so I do just that and carry on.
Now, on with the show.
The Sanctuary of Rebirth
The game starts in the Sanctuary of Rebirth, an ancient temple taken over by the Vigil so they can bring the fallen back to life. I come back from the dead to find two dwarves kneeling before me.
A promising start, I think. NPCs in RIFT obviously know their place. Unfortunately, this is just a meet-and-greet type kneeling, and not the I-grovel-before-your-mighty-prowess type kneeling.
A Messenger of the Vigil instructs me to speak to the Sanctuary Warden in order to choose which soul I want to become infused with. I have eight choices: Beastmaster, Champion, Paladin, Paragon, Reaver, Riftblade, Void Knight, and Warlord. I pick the Champion.
I am now officially one of the Ascended. At this point in the game, I’m at level 1, but the blue bar that indicates a level up is moving along pretty quick as I investigate the Sanctuary and speak to the people around me. I poke around the altars that are scattered around and find a book that contains a prophecy.
The Prophecy of the Ascended
There will come a time when the Ward is fully sundered;
In that dark hour, even the gods will weep,
And from the ashes of a fallen kingdom, the Ascended will rise.
This being will be neither mortal nor god;
Neither alive not dead;
Neither virtuous not wicked;
The Ascended will be steadfast and mighty,
And henceforth those who serve the dragons,
Will know only fear and death.
So, no pressure there, then.
At this point I’ve exhausted the Sanctuary of Rebirth, so decide it's time to head out into the big scary world. I blow a kiss and wave bye-bye to the Sanctuary Warden and head to the portal that leads outside.
Next week: Caedryn heads into Ardenburgh. He finds a two-handed broadsword and is a happy little dwarf.