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Stray Bullet Games
MMORPG | Setting:Fantasy | Status:Cancelled  (est.rel 03/25/03)  | Pub:UBISoft
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Previews: Throne of Oblivion Overview

By Craig McGregor on October 13, 2004

Throne of Oblivion Overview

Ubisoft recently announced the second Expansion Pack for their flagship MMO Shadowbane. The Expansion, entitled Throne of Oblivion, spotlights the sudden appearance of its namesake, the dreadful island of Oblivion, where the Lich-Queen Ithriana marshals the unholy legions of the Void. Strange sorceries somehow managed to "reflect" the island across the scattered fragments of Aerynth, appearing everywhere as a foreboding deaths-head of malice.

Shadow of the Vampires
Throne of Oblivion introduces many new character options, as well as a wealth of new systems and features. The title of the Expansion points to the two main themes running through the expansion. The most obvious theme is the last, "Oblivion," referring to the undead content. As depicted on the cover art, the expansion introduces an entirely new character race: the Vampires.

Ever since mortals first peered into the dark voids beyond the world, there have been those who have longed to serve Oblivion. Whereas some are content to walk the path of the Necromancer, others go even further, giving themselves over to the Void, body and soul. Dark rituals consign the bodies of these fiends to death, while their souls are drained away to feed the hunger of the Void. Unnatural strength and vigor fill their limbs, and their skin turns pale and hard as alabaster. The old flesh dies and a Vampire, chosen general of Oblivion, is born.

Whatever form they held in life, when Vampires are claimed by Oblivion their bodies are completely transformed. Wiped away are any vestiges of their old selves - tinted or tattooed skin crumbles into dust, revealing pale flesh as hard as granite. Their pale skin, red glowing eyes, and bestial ears offer visible testimony to their dark allegiance. Vampires most closely resemble Shades, though next to a Vampire's imposing form, any Shade looks clumsy and half-finished, like an ill-wrought sculpture.

The Vampires of legend were burned by sunlight, but since the Turning none of them seem to mind the light of day. Though still mysterious, Sages and Wizards have been able to establish some vampiric powers and weaknesses with certainty.

The power of the Void infuses the dead flesh of all Vampires, making them uncannily quick, brutally strong, and unnaturally resilient. It is as if death and rebirth have swept away all the limitations of their old bodies. Their soul is lost to them, but their wills remain strong and cold as adamant. Though their bodies are animated in a mocking semblance of life, Vampires are wholly dead beings: they do not breathe, eat, or sleep. Vampires are also incredibly difficult to kill, their marble-hard flesh deflecting or diminishing blows that would eviscerate lesser beings. It is as if Death itself, already owning their souls, refuses to claim them again. This unholy Fortitude is not without limits: indeed, Vampires are still vulnerable to lesser hurts, and are especially vulnerable to fire and holy energies.

For all their mighty powers, the Vampires also bear a dreadful curse: their undead flesh has no power to heal or sustain itself. Indeed, without the infusion of new essence, a Vampire's powerful body would putrefy into a heap of foulness. Their unholy natures render Vampires resistant to the healing magic of the Gods of Law and Light, leaving the Nightborn with only one sure means of sustaining themselves: leeching the life from others by drinking fresh blood. Vampires live in constant awareness of the Hunger, craving hot blood.

Through the last two ages there have never been more than a handful of Vampires, lurking in ruined wastelands far from civilization. With the coming of Oblivion, however, the number of Vampires has grown at a terrifying pace. Where once they were content to scheme and plot in their remote fortresses, now Vampires walk openly among the peoples of Aerynth, spreading terror and mayhem, drinking blood, leading Shroud Cults, and proclaiming for all to hear that the final Doom of Aerynth is at hand.

Most Vampires renounce any ties of kinship with their birth race. The Dark has given them great power and new birth, and their past lives are not even faintly remembered. Vampires feel a great affinity with Shades, whom they regard as lesser versions of themselves, worthy servants of their ambitions. Shades who have embraced the darker sides of their nature venerate Vampires as Gods, the emissaries of the Darkness beyond the Shroud. The Nightborn are divided in their opinions of "the Cattle" (as they call all living things); most feel nothing but disgust for all who still breathe, despise the fact that they must depend upon the blood of lesser beings to survive. Others find the living to be convenient tools and slaves, and enthrall them with their strong wills or the promise of dark power.

Vampires appeal to "finesse" players. They may seem overwhelmingly powerful to their opponents, but they have many weaknesses that require care to mitigate. Pay constant attention to your health pool: because all powers cost health, and your enemies' attacks also deplete health, absentmindedness can kill you in no time! Drink deeply, of friends and foes alike.

  • Base classes available: Fighter, Mage, Rogue.
  • Professions available: Assassin, Necromancer, Scout, Thief, Warlock, Warrior, Wizard.
  • Disciplines available: Archer, Artillerist, Belgosch, Black Mask, Bounty Hunter, Conjurer, Commander, Dark Knight, Drannok, Enchanter, Gargoi, Prospector, Rat Catcher, Saboteur, Sapper, Strigoi, Traveler, War Wizard, Wyrmslayer.
  • Racial powers: The Lesser Kiss, Vampire's Kiss, Dark Fortitude.

Vampire Bloodlines
Vampires are reborn with few memories of their mortal life: the dark transformation strips away all bonds of race, family, or community. Over the ages, many vampires have joined together in great Clans, cults devoted to the memory and teachings of one of the Elders, the first four Vampires to rise upon Aerynth. Each clan has cultivated its own dark powers, honing one aspect of their Vampiric nature into a potent weapon.

Baelgor was the second soul to embrace the Void and be reborn as dark undead. An Elvish Priest who renounced every living God, Baelgor became the first Vampire Zealot, the first to hear the voice of the Void and learn its will. It was Baelgor who served as the first mentor to the Nightborn, and his magic that first cast Ithriana and her domain into the Void. A mighty bloodline still follows his path, serving as the ministers of death. The Belgosch know how to call other souls to them, and how to pour out their essence to their followers, strengthening them in battle.
  • Base class required: Mage, Rogue.
  • Prohibited disciplines: Gorgoi, Strigoi.

Mightiest of the undead in battle, the Drannok Vampires, also called the Vampire Lords, look back to Drangor, a Human warlord whose bloodlust and hideous crimes drew the Void's power to him, claiming his soul. Drangor was reborn as the third Vampire, a bloody warrior whose name is remembered in tales of blood and terror. Now an entire clan follows the bloody path of the Vampire Lord, who learned grim secrets of power when Oblivion embraced him. The Drannok can strike terror in their foes with but a glance, and infuse their followers with an unholy bloodlust in combat.
  • Base class required: Fighter.

Ghorgor was an Elvish enchantress, one of the 13 Moraenarth who first devised Necromancy. Obsessed by the mystery of her new dark art, she learned to send her will into the Void, where Oblivion awaited her. Consumed by the Void, she was reborn as the first Vampire. First of the Nightborn, Ghorgor was blessed with the greatest measure of the Dark's unholy power. A mighty clan of Vampires still practices the secrets of Bloodcraft the first Vampire Fiend devised. The blood is the life, the source of all unholy power, and with it the Gorgoi can drain the souls of an entire crowd, stand fast against magical assault, or transform their chosen into feral half-dead beasts.
  • Base class required: Mage.
  • Prohibited discipline: Belgosch.

Also called Vampire Beasts, these feral horrors follow the path of Straeglin, an Aelfborn rogue driven to murder and cannibalism by the fire in her mixed blood. Fourthborn of all Vampires and last of the Elders, she brought terror to all the peoples of Aerynth during the War of the Scourge. Over the centuries, other Vampires have followed her example, learning to sniff out dead flesh and fight with a bestial frenzy. Few warriors can match the unnatural speed of a Strigoi's claws, making any defense against their savage onslaught nearly impossible.
  • Base class required: Rogue.
  • Prohibited discipline: Belgosch.

The Necromancer
Another undead-oriented new character option arriving with Throne of Oblivion is the Necromancer class. Thousands of years ago, the undead first plagued the face of Aerynth, and the lands of Men and Elves were plunged into the conflict dimly remembered as the War of Shadows. The men of Ardan fought the new blight, founding the order of Nightstalkers and devising the techniques used by the Undead Hunters to this day. But the Elves of the Deathless Empire found a different solution. Much as they had with Chaos, Elvish visionaries sought to tame this new power, to bind and control it.

Elvish archmagi saw death-based magic (and its potential control of limitless undead legions) as a potential key to ultimate power. Thirteen Elvish Priests and Wizards banded together to unravel the mystery of undeath and peer into the Void. The called themselves the "Moraenarth," the Black Thorns, and from their experiments was born "Ghorreghul," the death sorcery Humans call Necromancy. As the War of Shadows raged, the Thirteen learned to call angry spirits, infuse them into dead flesh, and command their new creations. They also learned of the existence of the Void, and how to tap its deadly power. Many of the arts Assassins draw upon began in the workshops of the Thirteen, though few now remember it.

A priestess of Saedron in the Elvish court uttered a dark prophecy that Necromancy would destroy the world. The Empire declared Necromancy a forbidden science, and hunted down those who mastered it. The Thirteen fled their refuge and became renegades, turning on their kin. Legends tell that the ringleaders of the order ritually slew themselves rather than be captured by the authorities, but that they had made a grim pact with death, ensuring that they would return in some future age.

That time has come. The Shades, the Void's pale children, gathered together to create the Brotherhood of the Shroud. They sought out the tombs of the Moraenarth and reawakened them. The Thirteen, reborn, revived their dark art, and for the first time in thousands of years new Necromancers are learning the secrets of death magic. In addition to raising small hordes of mindless undead minions, Necromancers can lash their enemies with the unholy power of Oblivion, wreak dreadful curses, and cast spells of fear and shadow. Some are wide-eyed zealots who seek to join Ithriana's legions and bring about the final doom of Aerynth, while others are sheer pragmatists who seek to preserve themselves by making pacts withthe new shadow, or simply embrace a new path to power. Sages and loremasters of every race look upon the rebirth of Necromancy with horror, fearing that the mere use of necromantic power will strengthen Oblivion's foothold in Aerynth, bringing the world ever closer to total destruction.

The Necromancer class appeals to players who enjoy controlling pets, but are willing to give up some control for additional power.

  • Focus skill: Necromancy.
  • Disciplines available: Archmage, Belgosch, Blade Weaver, Conjurer, Enchanter, Gorgoi, Shroudborne, Traveler, Wyrmslayer, Battle Magus.
  • Races available: Aelfborn, Elf, Human, Shade, Vampire.

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