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Dark Ages: Online Roleplaying is an MMORPG, based on Celtic mythology, developed by Nexon, Inc (now known as Kru Interactive). It is loosely based on the Korean game called Legend of Darkness. The American version was developed by David Kennerly (no relation to the photographer), who based it somewhat on the works of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. The game originally thrived on player involvement in the management of the game and progression of the storyline, even going so far as allowing players control over in-game punishments and laws. Compared to most modern MMORPGs, there is fairly low playerbase. The graphics style is also somewhat older, giving up the recent lure of 3D for a more top-down-esque feel. Some players feel that the game must rise to the recently created standards of other games, while other players enjoy and prefer the simpler, less complex interface.
There were no ill-stars during the days or nights of Hy-brasyl. Fruits were plentiful, and fulfilling, and beasts and men alike followed their nature.
Elders heard an angelic voice when it was their time. They parted from Hy-brasyl fondly; without regret. Who could regret the golden streets, towers, or unspoiled fruits and meats. On their hill, or in their home, they awaited with a patience known today only in Aosda. Death came gently, creeping as a slow, silky sheet over their eyes. The elders simply slipped beneath the waves of Hy-brasyl and drifted on fond memories in Grinneal.
A millennium passed. Some would say it was too short; yet it was the memory to last through all the ages. A man was found in the street, dead, cold. He had lived across the river Cionta. Hy-brasyl mourned his death, but wondered why he had died suddenly, violently, with a pale look across his face.
Thus began the investigation into the nature of the world. Elements were no longer partners for play and imagination, but were tools for discovery. Those that began the discipline, though, found no peace in the answer. Human magic was born; along with it men gained a fatal glimpse of the nature of things outside the local harmony.
Drowning of Hy-brasyl
Hy-brasyl split. People horded nature; for the power found therein. A few harnessed magic and ruled thereby. The new rulers ground stones into potions and advanced the art of war into more deadly swords. Agricultural flourished for the purpose of supporting armed assault; all to horde the power locked in the elements.
The first ill-star was recorded. A star was seen streaking the sky, and it was noted as a herald of doom. Perhaps such stars had scribed the sky before, yet never was one watched intently for signs of good or ill fortune for one's neighbor. Hideous altars were built toward the stars and toward the north, Kadath, where it is said resided the worldly home of the Gods.
Priests arose and foolishly succoured those of Kadath. Fulfilling their own prophecy of doom, men acquired, for the first time, the notice of that which dwells in Kadath. The priests whose prayers toward dark north were answered, went mad. Others may have, we shall never know, for they disappeared into the dark north forever. Wise men left Hy-brasyl, now corrupt, avoiding the corrupt men and the things with which they dealt.
Meanwhile, the magician's balance of nature was destroyed. Elements were employed to war with others. Air, Water, Earth, and Fire assaulted neighbors. Thus, Hy-brasyl drowned. Shadows crossed over the day, and all became as night. People turned to look but could not find light of day or star. A rumble emerged, as waves climbed higher, the water flooding the streets, the cities, and the tallest towers.
Only the fastest that fled the drowning city survived. They scored the land with their labor. Some stumbled onto or sought out the wise men who had left earlier. The people ignored the cause of chaos and sought the comfort that was Hy-brasyl in its glory.
A few of the less wise of the men became kings. Three lasting civilizations were born. Finach, presently known as Mileth. Sarnath, presently known as Gear Inbhir, and Niara. Crusades against neighbors arose, from which only the few in power or seclusion escaped toil, disease and death. Conquest became their religion. Elemental magic scattered the mountains and rained stardust on the heads of enemies.
Birth of Chadul
Out of an obscene understanding of the elements was wrought a fifth element: darkness. From it, atrocious creatures were born. Some which died or vanished with only a lingering sense remaining, and others that the foolish summoner would wish that they had vanished. Their towns, too, would be eaten by the monstrocities.
Magic outside of the King's courts was generally prohibited thereafter. Kings, however, used the magic in their wars and in the imposition and sustenance of their luxury. The creatures became threats to neighboring enemies and internal opponents that challenged the throne.
The hideous creatures prospered under foolish reigns. These creatures were different from monsters known to the world. There was no orc or goblin that gripped the mind, and tore it like these beings did. The dubhaimid, as the were fearfully called, went through maddening motions, as if dancing to an obscene god. The dubhaim knew the secrets of life and death; which meant death for all mortal races. They created and stocked the underworld, land of terror and darkness. This was nothing like the final resting place, Grinneal of Hy-brasyl. Souls screamed without rest in the underworld of the dubhaimid.
Perhaps they screamed too loudly, or perhaps the thoughts of the living were too strong. The eighth aeon of Temuair was known. Wise men described it by the being that was born: Chadul, the ruler of the third realm: the underworld. The wise returned to the worship of Danaan, goddess of the light.
A war rose up of light and darkness, the armies amassed under Danaan or Chadul. Danaan convinced the other beings aid to her, and Chadul was defeated in three days. Chadul was held at bay at the darkness. Not without casualties. The mortal world was ravaged by hail, earthquakes, floods, fire, and the fingers of the dubhaimid.
The beings realized what was done and wept for mortality. Mortal spirits wandered the land, and slipped into the darkness of Chadul's realm. Darkness spread.
Era of Conquerors
Survivors gathered and balkanized. The wisdom wars should have taught them did not survive. Hungry for a memory of Hy-brasyl glory, without the discipline to its creation in their heart, they used more of the darkness for conquest. Lord Tenes arose from them, forming a foolish alliance with six other lords and one inhuman thing. They called their alliance the League of Darkness.
They formed a pact called the Anaman. It was a foolish agreement between themselves and an agent of otherworldly chaos. They gained a thousand-year lifespan and the unification of Temuair. The pact was not purely evil. It allowed fresh souls to escape the realm of Chadul.
The League and outsiders divided Temuair into ten kingdoms, beginning the Dark Ages. Kings and Lords were tired of war. They gathered to try to create a pact of peace. They could not agree, out of greed. Tenes, though, got what he wanted.
A new lord stood against Tenes: Ainmeal. Ainmeal worshipped Danaan, and had the favor of the goddess. He swept through battle gracefully. Though not of the courtly upbringing of Tenes, Ainmeal exceeded in grace of wit and temperament. The sidh, the faerie races, were said to converse and aid Ainmeal in battle. A glow stood about him in battle. And a woe befell his adversaries.
Rise of Loures
The kings' magic power and armies came from ancient civilizations, and the territories they founded their kingdoms upon. No one wanted to give up their territory. Ainmeal gathered with three kings to found the new capital, Loures on the great plain: Ardmagh. Tenes, the ruler of the city, and his allies went to war. His notable allies were: Suomi, Massai, Feasgar, and Glaic. Allies dominated the beginning of the war. Ainmeal, however, did not back down. Ainmeal divided the allies against each other. Then Suomi joined Ainmeal's forces, ending the war. Now Loures ruled the empire, and Ainmeal was King of Ardmagh.
Originally, Ainmeal renamed Loures, To erase the memory of its previous reign, But it soon regained its older name when he left the throne to his son. Loures had achieved its might and craftsmanship from the artisans that had worked under Tenes, Not Ainmeal. When Ainmeal's son died, a shaman-empress was elected. This lineage was a puppet to the spirit that had existed before Ainmeal.
'Twas not till the fourth empress, Ealagad, the "Steel Swan," took power. She gathered the other nine kings. She was stronger than the dubhaimid. The dubhaimid dreamt of resurrection. It created many hideous monsters; which sought the ancient civilization: Aosda.
Seven beings led the spirits of Aosda to Temuair. These beings were determined to protect mortals. Thus they began the 100 years war against Darkness, for the sake of the light, and to complete the unfinished empire. It was the Shadows War.
Those united under Ealagad suffered defeat in the form of plagues of madness until magicians of Rucesion discovered the sixth element: light. The creatures of darkness, the dubhaimid, were defeated after another generation of war. Rich towns filled their streets with lamps containing a tear of this element to keep the darkness at bay.
Yet, every light casts a shadow....
(Excerpted from Seanchas Temuair, Vol. 1, in the Library of Loures)
Both Temuair and Dark Ages itself have significant timelines.
The Timeline of Temuair
The Timeline of Dark Ages
Dark Ages went through a long period of testing prior to its commercial release on 2 August 1999. Many of the aspects of the beta testing focused on both the client and server sides, as well as the complex political and religious systems designed by Kennerly. Furthermore, the focus of Atavism Age was to build a large community of people who might serve as stewards for the world itself when it became commercially available after the end of the testing phases - helping new players to become acclimated to Temuair's complex and deep roleplaying environment, as well as maintaining the fabric of the society through the political system.
Players who applied for any of the testing phases were required to submit an application focusing on their roleplaying experience, as well as what they felt they could do to aid the community.
Many of the initial testers for Dark Ages came from the player base of Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds.
There were three Atavism Ages, which could be considered true beta tests. As mentioned above, it is thought that the purpose of the Atavism Age was to "seed" the world with committed roleplayers, who would begin to contribute heavily to the fabric of Temuair through the contests. The contests themselves gave clout, a unit of political power in Dark Ages. This aimed at creating a functioning, sustainable meritocracy, populated by Aislings who had contributed to the culture of Temuair and gained enough clout to take the highest offices.
Atavism Age I began around 1 February 1999, admitting a significant number of applicants. It expanded the works of Chaos Age and began testing on social structures, such as the guiding and mentoring systems.
Atavism Age III, the longest and largest of the Atavism ages, with over a thousand players admitted in many batches (previous phases only had one batch each), commenced on 19 March 1999, and lasted until the beginning of the commercial phase of the game, on 2 August 1999. Due to the unique and compelling nature of the political and religious systems, a large amount of player effort had gone into enacting laws to enforce various codes of behavior and what was considered to be the proper functioning of Temuairan society. These political developments, more than any other, would be put to the test during the commercial phase, when the existing player base seemed to double overnight.
The backstory essentially is that a long time past, the people called Tuatha de Danaan ("Children of Danaan") arrived in the lands of Temuair, meaning Earth-Sea in the Tuathan tongue. There was formed the civilization called Hy-brasyl. It was a peaceful time, in harmony with nature. For the first time after a millennium of peace a man is found murdered, and exploration into the outside world begins. With this comes the harnessing of the elements for magickal power.
Along with this exploration, Kadath, the worldly home of the Gods, is re-discovered (it had been first discovered in an earlier civilization called Aosda). Dark altars and temples are constructed, and the Priests of these Dark Gods go crazy in their search for Godly knowledge. In this madness, Hy-brasyl is drowned, with the death of all those who know the forbidden knowledge.
Over 300 years go by until the knowledge is regained, and along with the four other elements (Fire, Earth, Water, Wind), a fifth is discovered: Darkness. With this discovery come the Dubhaimid, the dark ones. Formed by the Dark God Chadul, these dark forces terrorize Temuair. The wise amongst the Tuatha de Danaan return to the worship of the Light Goddess Danaan, who enters into the Great War with Chadul.
Many years later, the Six Lords of Temuair meet to form an unholy Pact with Chadul. Led by Tenes, King of Ardmagh, the Anaman Pact is formed, granting each of the Lords a 1000 year lifespan and the unity of Temuair. In the ensuing war, Danaan's chosen Paladin, Ainmeal, fights against Tenes in battle and wins, ending another dark threat. Ainmeal renames Ardmagh to "Loures."
Again much time of peace passes, until the 4th Emperess of Loures, Ealagad, comes to power. She seeks to rekindle the power of Chadul and does so, restoring the Dubhaimid to Temuair. Danaan again intervenes, this time by sacrificing Herself in order to defeat Chadul for the final time. With the end of this Shadows War, the first of the Aislings (Dreamers) is born, free from his old mundane life, and making a difference in the new Atavism Age.
Dark Ages time is approximately eight times faster than Earth time. It is measured in the following ways:
- 1 Temuair Day = 3 Hours
- 1 Temuair Moon = 3.5 Days
- 1 Temuair Double-Moon = 1 Week
- 1 Deoch (Year) = 45 Days
You may also see "Deochs" called "Grinneals" and "Danaanas." The time of Aosda until the coming of the Tuatha de Danaan is given in Grinneals. The time from the coming of the Tuatha de Danaan until the first Aisling is given in Danaans. Since that time (the release of the game), years are measured in Deochs.
The Deoch in relation to Earth time
Deoch time in Temuair does, in fact, have a basis in real time. The "epoch" of Deoch time (Deoch 1, 1st Moon, 1st Day) is thought to commence upon the first deployment of the Dark Ages game servers. In 1999, Nexon suggested that Deoch time began on 31 December 1998 at 04:00:03 AM GMT. Although time officially moves at 8 times Earth time, calculations using this as a basis are often significantly incorrect. An experientally-derived value of approximately 7.998 times Earth time, combined with the Temuairan Epoch, can regularly predict time in Temuair to within 16 Temuairan hours (2 Earth hours), and is used as the basis for the Aosdic clock.
- See Dark Ages section religion for details
Dark Ages was given two unique gifts amongst the "Legend of Darkness"-based games by David Kennerly. The first is religion. The game sports eight different Temples, each run entirely by a clergy made up of the players. In addition, five of the gods are meant to represent the dominant attribute of one of the five paths in the game.
Classes and Attributes
- See Dark Ages section classes for details
There are five classes, in addition to one, Peasant, which is not really a class in its own right, but rather a precursor to the main five. There exists an interesting form of 'subpathing', also. Once a character reaches level 99, assuming they aren't a Peasant, they have a choice to make. There is the option of 'subbing' (subpathing), whereby they will change to a different class and return to level 1, having to rise in levels again but retaining the skills and spells of their previous class, typically making them more powerful. Alternatively there is the option of 'going pure', staying the same path at level 99. Once level 99, a character subbed or pure may become a Master, giving them access to new equipment, skills and spells, areas, etc. A pure character will receive more benefits after Mastering than a subbed character, which is the desired incentive for a character to sacrifice extra skills and spells by 'going pure'.
One of the other prizes given to Dark Ages by David Kennerly is the political system. At the time of this writing, only two towns have a political system. In these towns, players may hold the following offices:
Respected Citizen is not a true political position. It requires 10 votes, and it requires that you have mentored at least one person. Respected Citizens gain a variety of abilities, including making people citizens of your town, re-entering the Tutorial as a Tutorial Mentor, dying armor, and crafting armor.
Guard is a rank where the holder enforces the town's laws. Guards must have been a Respected Citizen for at least one term, and require 25 votes. They may banish any person from their town for 24 hours. They may also sponsor others to run for political office. They wear a green or blue tabard, depending on what town they are from.
Guard Captain is a rank slightly above Guard. Guard Captains must have four terms of Guard, and require 50 votes. They have the same abilities as a Guard, and wear the same tabard. However, Captains also wear a metal helmet.
Judge is the highest executive rank. Judges must have held four terms of Guard Captain and require 100 votes. They may hold trials, which is where citizens will appeal banishments and exilements. These trials involve a jury, prosecutor, and defendant. They may also sponsor others to run for political office. Judges wear a fluffy robe colored with their town's color.
Demagogue is the lowest rank of the Legislative Branch. Demagogues must have held four terms of Respected Citizen, and require 50 votes. They may make the town's laws, and also may exile people from their town permanently. They also have the ability to call down the Sgath on serious criminals, which is a monster that will kill them and make them lose their items. Demagogues may also sponsor others for political office. Demagogues wear a full-body robe of their town's color.
Burgess is the highest rank of the Legislative Branch. Burgesses must have held four terms of Demagogue and require 200 votes. They have the same power as Demagogues, but are often granted responsibility and in-game power by the town's laws. Burgesses are the only officials that can enact a barment from politics.
Outside the Towns
Outside of the towns, there are two other forces that keep the basic law (Terms of Service violations only). The ones that do the actual ToS-enforcement are a group called the Rangers. They can be recognized by their orange tabards. They have the ability to jail people for violating the ToS. Once you reach a certain number of arrests, you are automatically blocked from the game.
The other force is the Knights, who act as Nexon's agents in the game. They handle player requests and ideas. However, they also report extreme abuses to Nexon directly. BUT all ToS violations outside of the player-run towns should ALWAYS be submitted to the Rangers before the Knights.
There are seven types of in-game contests held in order to recognize the players. There are four levels of winning. In order from least to greatest, these are: Clave, Village, Folk (Kingdom), Aisling.
The manner in which the contests are judged has changed a few times over the course of the game. Originally, these contests were run by Nexon, and the players submitted their entries by e-mail. Voting was done exclusively by Nexon, and winners would be reported.
The next contest system allowed for player voting. Contest entries were put up on the Dark Ages website, and any previous contest winner could vote on an entry by logging into the site and selecting an entry.
The third system was a modification to the second: instead of voting on the website, a new building was created in the Mileth College where entrants would post their works on a message board, and previous award winners would vote through an NPC. These contests were run by the then-recently-created Knights.
Currently, contests are run through a process of education. Whenever a person attends a class at the Mileth College, they have a chance at receiving credit in the form of a legend mark (Educated - 1 and so on). Once five of these marks are received, the person can post a contest entry in the contest room at the Mileth college on any subject that he wishes. Previous award winners give their recommendations on the appropriate rank of award which is then tallied by a Contest Host (Naze for Biography, History, Literature, Lore, Philosophy and Poetry; Lenoa for Art) and submitted to KRU Interactive for approval. The final decision is made autonomously and usually coincides with the votes.
Winning a contest can have numerous benefits in the forms of experience, clout, a legend mark, and money. The amount of experience, clout and money is based on which rank you attain. These ranks are used to help out in other areas of the game, for example the religious system. Those who achieve Village recognition or higher can teach classes at the Mileth College. Award winners who choose to teach are rewarded for their contribution to the community with a randomly afforded "Tentative Noble Garment" legend mark, which may be exchanged in Loures for various noble garments. With enough of these credits, one can create a Loures Lord or Lady, which are decorative robes. This garment is accompanied by a legend mark, "Lord/Lady of the Arts". The different types of contests are:
Visual works based on characters or places in Temuair. Music was previously also accepted under Art. Awards in this category are "Abel Clave Artist", "Undine Village Artist", "Rucesion Kingdom Artist" and "Aisling Artist". Examples are Glioca's Vigil or Mor Strioch Bais.
Biographies written of players' characters or mundanes. Awards in this category include "Mileth Clave/Village/Kingdom Persona" (Note: There is no Aisling recognition in this category). Examples are The Breath of Heaven or Brothaigh.
Tales of Temuair's history. This is the true inspiration of history, and is entirely player-created. Awards in this category include "Undine Clave Historian", "Suomi Village Historian", "Piet Kingdom Historian" and "Aisling Historian". Examples are The Tuatha de Danaan,the Aosda and the Mag Mell? or The Diary of Teirsaes.
Stories that are set within and evoke the themes of Temuair. Awards in this category include "Mileth Clave/Village/Kingdom Bard" and "Aisling Bard". Examples are In the Name of the Goddess or Fireflies.
Works that archive knowledge of Temuair. Awards in this category include "Mileth Clave Lorekeeper", "Suomi Village Lorekeeper", "Rucesion Kingdom Lorekeeper" and "Aisling Lorekeeper". Examples are General Glossary of Terms in Temuair or Beastiary of Temuair.
Memories (Screenshots) that capture the essence of Temuair. This award is no longer available. Awards in this category include "Piet Clave Memory" and "Piet Village Memory". No examples of Memory works remain.
Theories on the theology and other mystical elements of Temuair. Awards in this category include "Undine Clave/Kingdom Philosopher", "Suomi Village Philosopher" and "Aisling Philosopher". Examples are Nature of the Dark Masters or The Society of the Dubhaimid.
- Dark Ages official site
- Dark Ages Wiki
- Kru Interactive Website
- Lighter Side of Dark Ages
- Planet Dark Ages Community Website
- DA-Wizard, Dark Ages Wizard Resource
- The Warrior.net
- Farlie's The Rogue, Dark Ages Rogue Resource
- General Dark Ages Info Site
- DAHelp Community Website
- Aosdic Clock: Current time in Temuairja:闇の伝説