Avatar’s Update #271: The Making of South Boundless Forest and the New Observatory Home

Greetings Fellow Avatars! Here’s what we have for you in this week’s edition of Update of the Avatar:

Game Development

News Announcements

Community Updates

The Making of South Boundless Forest

South Boundless Forest is a Tier 3 adventuring area in the North Paladis region far north of Yew, along the road to the Kas Ruins. This forest of ancient redwoods is the site of a major Kobold logging operation that is supplying lumber to Kobold locations as far away as K’rul. Stag clan barbarians have also taken up camp here in the ruins of an ancient colosseum from pre-cataclysm times.

[From a A Dev+ Forum Post by Chris “Sea Wolf” Wolf]

Hey folks, I have a few screenshots to share of South Boundless Forest. The forests are home to a group of native barbarians, who have made their home in the ruins of an ancient amphitheater. A kobold mining operation has moved in, and is slowly devouring the barbarian’s homes. The new look for this map is inspired by the giant redwood forests of California, The ruins of amphitheaters such as the Colosseum, and scenes from the movie, the 13th warrior.

This scene is still a work in progress, and you can expect a few more screenshots next week, showing off the underground “Halls of Eating,” and the Kobold logging camp.

The Forest

Hakon’s Wall

The Barbarian Village

The Amphitheater

Chris Wolf
Level Designer

The Observatory Home

In Release 52 we are adding the new Observatory Village Home. Bob Cooksey designed the home, which was featured on last week’s Community Livestream. The Observatory Village Home is modeled closely from real observatories. This incredible new Village sized home has an observatory dome on the third floor that rotates and opens to reveal the large telescope. Peering through the telescope reveals the constellations in the sky (much like using the astrolabe or moondials).

Have a look below at some new screenshots of the exterior and how you can decorate the interior:

Vendor Variations & Improvements (cont.)

In Release 51 we added the ability to change the visual appearance of your Player Vendor using the Pattern system. For that release we introduced 15 patterns including Male Shopkeepers, Cash Registers, as well as Male and Female variations of the original player vendor appearance. This week we added images for the new Female Shopkeepers that will be going live in Release 52.

[From a Dev+ Forum Post by Starr “Darkstarr” Long]

Female Shopkeepers: These player vendor outfits are based on Victorian shopkeeper wear and early concept sketches Denis Loubet made. They come in several outfit colors and face options. 

The Companions of Truth, Love, and Courage (cont.)

This week we continued development on the companions by working on their custom gear. Last week we introduced Conrad’s Silverthorn, the sword of Courage. This week we introduce Fiona’s Lute and Conrad’s Shield.

[From a Dev+ Forum Post by Starr “Darkstarr”]

Conrad’s Shield: Conrad Dupre’s heater shield sports the coat of arms of his adopted home of Resolute. Since Conrad is the companion of courage sometimes his shield is called the Shield of Courage.

Fiona’s Lute: Fiona Fitzowen’s lute is a beautiful custom instrument with the candle of love engraved on the fretboard. 

The Making of Northwood (cont.)

The town of Northwood is located in the grasslands far to the north of Brittany near the western coast of Spindrift Bay in the North Paladis region. Rumors are spreading that the town boasts some remarkable similarities to locations on Earth known as Britannia Manor and Castleton but surely that must be coincidence? Northwood is based on the Grasslands POT template and is being rebuilt for Release 52. As with other town rebuilds the locations of player lots, merchant locations, and scene exits will not be changed.

[From a Dev+ Forum Post by Travis “Vas Corp Por” Koleski]

Here’s a few more screenshots of our progress:




After: (Don’t worry whoever’s house that is, in-editor we don’t see player-placed houses)



Thanks for following our progress!

World Builder
Travis “Vas Corp Por” Koleski

The Making of Blood River Forest (cont.)

Blood River Forest is a Tier 3 adventuring area in the Longfall region, north of Blood River Outskirts. Elves in the region have built a fish hatchery by diverting local waterways. These elves are highly suspicious of all outsiders due to the recent events around Blood River involving vigilante groups. The area also includes the ruins of an ancient stepped pyramid and an abandoned copper stripmine. This scene contains a puzzle that awards the new Invigoration blessing (see New Blessings in Combat Section below for details).

[A Dev+ Forum Post by Esteben “SorcerousSteve” Zaldivar]

Hey guys SorcerousSteve here to give you an update on the Blood River Forest! This week I focused on finishing up the major points of interest in the map and for the first time I’ll be showing the inside of the pyramid complex.

Deep in the forest signs of an ancient civilization can still be spotted as a pyramid rises from the dense brush.

Inside the pyramid is a giant water sinkhole, rumors abound of its existence, but as the legend goes this mysterious sinkhole may provide some mystical powers.

Few have laid eyes on the Golden Jaguar.

Vines and roots fill the once ancient ritual chamber.

Open Pit Copper Mine at dusk.

Looking South at the Blood River Forest Fish Hatchery.

Stay tuned for Blood River Forest this R52!

World Builder
Esteben “SorcerousSteve” Zaldivar

Release 52 on the QA Server

An early version of R52 went live on the QA server on Monday and players started testing almost immediately. They also started reviewing and offering feedback on an early version of the R52 post.

R52 is full of new content most of which is now on the QA server for early testing.

  • Framerate improvements
  • Scene Rebuilds: South Boundless Forest, Northwood, Blood River Forest
  • New Companions
  • Offline Spawning
  • Tons of new side quests including the final Virtue Banners
  • New Recipes and Patterns: Bacon, Wood & Plaster Inn, Female Shopkeepers, and more!
  • Heraldry
  • Multiple Characters
  • New Adventure Scene Blessings
  • Malefic Liches & Obsidian Lich
  • Dragon Wing Gust Attack
  • and more!

Reminder that testing on QA makes you eligible for Testing Incentive Rewards including gold crowns, the Ant Farm, Antennae, Bug Cloak, and Bug Paintings!

SXSW Booth Photos!

We’re at SXSW this weekend and already captured some crazy fun photos from our booth on the show floor (come visit us if you’re in Austin! Booth #2516):

Two more days of SXSW left with more photos to come from the booth and our launch event! Keep watch on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates from the show floor.

Win a Game Key with Loot to Shroud of the Avatar!

The launch of Shroud of the Avatar is coming up on March 27 and we’re celebrating in a big way by giving away bundles of the game and in-game items at SXSW! Even those that can’t make it out to see us can participate in the fun!

Here’s what you need to know. There are two separate giveaways, one that starts now and ends on April 2 after SXSW and Launch. This is an All-Players Sweepstakes that anyone can sign up for. The second giveaway is exclusive for those who visit our booth at SXSW. Together these giveaways include a chance for you to win a free game key and some additional sweet in-game loot.

See below for all the details!

GIVEAWAY #1: All-Players Sweepstakes

To participate in this giveaway, all you need to do is have an account on the Meretz App. Users of the app will receive points that go toward one of the following prizes. Anyone can participate, though anyone at SXSW and completes the scavenger hunt portion will receive a bonus amount of entries toward the prizes below.

How to Get Entries:

  • Get 3,000 Meretz Points per day (worth 1 sweepstakes entry)
  • 10 bonus entries per Scavenger Hunt check-in at SXSW (details will be posted at our booth)
  • Keep an eye out for “Easter eggs” for extra bonus entries!
  • See the Meretz app for additional details

Digital Prizes:

  • Grand Prize: A Town Bundle of their choice (value: $1699)
  • 2nd Prize: A Village Tax Free Bundle of their choice (value: $574)
  • 3rd Prize: A 2-Story Row Bundle of their choice (value: $299)

The sweepstakes will conclude a couple of weeks after SXSW on April 2 with winners announced on that week’s Community Livestream.

Entries are confirmed by using the Meretz App, so be sure you are running the app when on the scavenger hunt or elsewhere! You can check your progress in the app.


GIVEAWAY #2: Daily Booth Giveaway

Visit the booth (#2516) each day to pick up a ticket for a chance to win a free game key! Participants must be present at 5:30pm CT back at the booth for the drawing. Winners are randomly selected with 5 entries given away each day. Tickets may be redeemed on other days while at SXSW, but can only be redeemed once.

NPC Submission Request: Graff Island

Earlier this release Scott “Lum” Jennings posted our latest request for NPC submissions for Graff Island. This is for Developer+ level backers who are eligible for the “Design an NPC” reward “Help create and name a character in the game”.

For reference here is our current status on which towns we have done this work on and which towns remain to be done:


  • Aerie
  • Ardoris
  • Braemar (no backer NPCs)
  • Desolis
  • Estgard
  • Etceter
  • Jaanaford
  • Kiln
  • Kingsport (no backer NPCs)
  • Owl’s Head (no backer NPCs)
  • Resolute
  • Solania (no backer NPCs)
  • Soltown (no backer NPCs)
  • Spite
  • Xenos
  • Yew

In progress:

  • Graff Island

To be done:

  • Bramble
  • Brittany and suburbs
  • Broochash
  • Brookside
  • Celestis
  • Eastmarch
  • Elad’s Lighthouse
  • Fortus End
  • Goti
  • Mud
  • Noreach
  • Northwood
  • Point West
  • Port Graff
  • Storm’s Reach
  • Westend


Humility[From a Dev+ Forum Post by Scott “Lum” Jennings]

Thank you for your continuing support of Shroud of the Avatar! This month, we’re seeking entries for inhabitants of Graff Island!

Graff Island is the home of the spectacularly wealthy Graff family. Their patriarch, Lauran Graff, discovered the secret magic locked within the games found in his namesake mine, and mages throughout the realm seek out Mystic Graff Gems for the potency of their spellcrafting. This has made the Graff’s private island a popular and wealthy retreat – both for those wanting a bit of safety off the beaten track, and for those wishing to find a way to reach the notorious Master Graff himself!

Graff Island is the only town we will be seeking submissions from for R52, due to other work being done this release. If you do NOT want your backer NPC to be in Graff Island, you may want to wait. I will update this thread if we are running low on submissions – generally we are OK on duplicate submissions for characters who don’t get adopted (such as guards) but if you absolutely have a character who should be in a given city (such as Brittany) you should wait until we advertise for that city.

First, some brief notes:

  • Graff Island is one of our “uncloning” scenes, where we go back and fill out unique content for each village and city. Thus, the NPCs are already in the game, but we can change appearance (to a degree, as seen below), gender, etc. to suit your request. If you want to pick a specific NPC (for example, one near your own house) we will do our best to accomodate you but may not be able to.
  • NPC visual customization, as you may have noticed, is still at a very early stage in development. Right now for the backers who want to be added to Graff Island, we cannot offer any visual customization options beyond our standard gallery of NPC models. If you would like to have input over the visual customization of your NPC, you can wait for further releases when we can offer this. We will also allow a one-time visual re-customization once customization has been added if you would like to add your NPC now.
  • Response to this will be on a first-come first-served basis for each call for responses. If your NPC doesn’t appear in Graff Island, feel free to respond again in future posts. We have quite a few towns and cities to populate (over 18, actually…)
  • We are allowing people who have already submitted NPCs to submit their ideas for Graff Island as well if they like, but people who have not yet submitted an NPC will take priority over those who have.
  • When responding, please list a first and second choice for profession.
  • There are a few NPCs which already have been placed as part of the main quest (Lauran Graff, etc.) which will not be changed.
  • NPCs for Graff Island can be human. And no, you can’t be related to the Graffs. :)

Still with us? Great! Here’s what we need for Graff Island:

  • 8 6 guards
  • 2 1 innkeepers
  • 3 1 waiters / waitresses
  • 1 crafting supplies merchant
  • 1 housing deeds merchant
  • 1 housing decorations merchant
  • 1 magic supplies merchant
  • 1 blacksmith
  • 1 combat trainer
  • 1 crafting trainer
  • 1 banker
  • 1 town crier
  • 1 public vendor

If you’d like to have your namesake be a resident of Graff Island please respond via private message on this forum to me (Lum) using the following format:

  • NPC name:
  • NPC gender:
  • NPC profession (first choice):
  • NPC profession (second choice):
  • NPC background (optional): A paragraph on whom your NPC is, how they would respond to nosy outlanders poking about their business, what brings them to Graff Island (or keeps them there), or anything else you’d like to add. We reserve the right to edit and/or reject any background that does not fit the lore and setting of the game.

Please specify in your submission that this NPC is for Graff Island.

We will respond if: your NPC is used; if it is rejected for whatever reason (such as an inappropriate name); if a supplied background is inappropriate, or if your NPC missed the cutoff for this release.

Please note this is a reward for Founder era Developer level or above pledges.

Thanks for your support, and hope you find a gem in Graff Island!

The Ambassadors Program: How You Can Help

Dear Avatars,

To prepare for the growth of the Community after the official launch, we are looking for passionate Avatars, longtime citizens of Novia, to be volunteer Ambassadors of Shroud of the Avatar. We need those who exemplify the value of Avatars in the way they interact with the Community and help welcoming, onboarding, and supporting newcomers in their native language.

We are excited to initiate this project that empowers our Community to have even more impact and influence on its own expansion and evolution!

SotA Ambassadors will have a multifunctional role, being representatives and also caretakers of the Sub-Communities of a specific language. Their mission is to welcome and onboard the outlanders who are new to the Community, in their native language, and maintain the respective language forum as a fun and friendly place. In order to do so, the Ambassadors will have some moderation permissions for the section of the respective language, on the Forum as well as on Discord.

If you are one of those Avatars who can call New Britannia their home, uphold the Community Guidelines in an exemplary way, and are willing to actively help the Community Management team with this mission, keep reading to find out more about this role!

[Read More…]

Free Trial

Free Trial access allows you to play the entire game in any of the Online modes with a few key differences in game play. You will be able to explore hundreds of scenes, talk with thousands of players, adventure through the opening quests, and gain experience and skills as you get used to the world of New Britannia!

Here are the few Visitor limits:

  • The term (Visitor) is appended to their character name
  • Max skill level set to 50
  • Limited to a single Story Path (Truth, Love or Courage)
  • Cannot purchase nor sell items via Player Vendors nor Public Vendors
  • No ownership of player property nor use of player property signs
  • Cannot move/interact with items on a player property (even if given permissions)
  • Cannot interact with public chests
  • Cannot give items to other players via Trade or Mail
  • Cannot flag as Open PVP
  • Cannot gain nor create ransom items when you kill or are killed in PVP (in Open PVP zones)
  • Character data may be deleted if not eventually upgraded to a paid account
  • Cannot play in Offline Mode

Join us in New Britannia for free today!

Weekend Flash Sale: Vendors, Signs, Numbers & Letters!

In honor of vendor customization going live in Release 51, we are putting a selection of vendors, signs, numbers & letters on sale this weekend! Get a look at the items on sale below. You can also view each item individually in the Add-On Store:

Upcoming Events Calendar

Mar 15 – 17, 2018 – SXSW Gaming Expo Booth 2516
Mar 17, 2018 – SXSW Gaming: The Ever-Evolving Nature of Game Crowdfunding
Mar 21 – 23, 2018 – GDC: Classic Game Postmortem: ‘Ultima Online’
Mar 27, 2018 – Release 52: Launch Candidate
April 26, 2018 – Release 53
May 31, 2018 – Release 54
June 28, 2018 – Release 55
July 26, 2018 – Release 56
Aug 21 – 25, 2018 – Gamescom
Aug 30, 2018 – Release 57

Visit the official Community Calendar to see the great lineup of activities our amazing community has planned for this weekend! And be sure to check out this month’s Release Events thread in the SotA forums for additional events.

SOTACON 2018 Convention Announced! Oct. 11-13, 2018

When: October 11-13, 2018 (Thursday to Saturday)
Where: Renaissance Austin Hotel, Austin Texas
Website: https://www.sotaconaustin.org

Registration for the Shroud of the Avatar Convention – Austin 2018 is now open! Admission tickets, cloaks, and VIP packages are on sale now at our Eventbrite Site.

The second Convention in Austin brings new activities and great opportunities for attendees and SotA developers. You will experience:

  • A relaxing and social Thursday evening with an icebreaker at a local pub/restaurant.
  • An action-packed Friday with ceremonies, speeches, prizes, panel sessions, group photos, live action role-play (LARP) duels, dinner, and Shakespearean play at Richard Garriott’s Curtain Theatre. (medieval garb encouraged on this day, but not necessary).
  • A convention/business style Saturday with panels, break-out discussions, feedback given directly to the developers, and prizes.
  • A blow-out social Saturday evening with a dance party to include DJ, cosplay, prizes, contests, and stories.
  • A relaxing and open Sunday for guilds, player towns, communities and friends to hold their own activities to enjoy Austin and meet with friends.
  • In addition, a special Thursday afternoon and evening is for our special VIPs to include a Portalarium tour and private reception dinner.
  • Your admission ticket price covers many, but not all, of these activities; details are forthcoming as Convention sales get underway (think “stretch goals”).

    Go here to view the Convention schedule! For plenty of other information, visit the SOTACON website at https://www.sotaconaustin.org.

    To support the event by purchasing cloaks and tickets, go to the Eventbrite Site.

    Join us at SOTACON – Austin this Oct. 11-13, 2018 and take your place in history!

    Charity: AERIE Fund – Community Cause – Ripple Effect

    AERIE Fund Live

    Join AERIE Fund as we support Water.org in their mission to deliver access to safe water and sanitation to communities in the developing world.

    Water.org is an international nonprofit organization that has positively transformed millions of lives around the world through access to safe water and sanitation. Founded by Gary White and Matt Damon, Water.org pioneers market-driven financial solutions to the global water crisis. For more than 25 years, they’ve been providing families with hope, health and the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty.

    See Thexedor Markhamm for (details)

    Sheamus McGuinness’s BARE KNUCKLE BRAWL – March 16, 7-9pm CT

    Bare Knuckle Brawl

    The first rule about BARE KNUCKLE BRAWL IS… don’t miss it! Join Sheamus McGuinness for a “Punches ONLY” PVP Tournament that works JUST like it sounds. That means no skills from any skill tree are allowed! No potions, no armor, just 2 Avatars in the ring with BARE KNUCKLES fighting to the death for top prizes!

    Fights are to the death and it is a single elimination tournament. Nothing but punches are allowed. No Magic. No Skills. No Healing. Fortune & Glory goes to the last Avatar standing and they will also walk away with 50,000 gold!

    LOCATION: Owls Head underneath The Burly Mustache Pub (Sota Map to location) at the “Drunken Skeleton Arena”
    ENTRY: 1,000 gold
    TELEPORT: Sheamus McGuinness

    Did You Know: Shroud of the Avatar Rewards Bug Reporters?

    Avatars! This is Elgarion from @SotAHelp with a regular “Did You Know?” feature. Expect to see these posted regularly on community channels, and here in the weekly update.

    Did you know @ShroudofAvatar rewards players that frequently report bugs? Type /bug or click the report bug button (top right of screen). Both add info to your clipboard for pasting into the bug report forum! Cool bug themed prizes await!

    For future weekly updates, we will be rotating these Did You Knows with the Getting Started Videos and other community How-To posts. If you have a tip to share, please send them to Berek!

    Recommended Project to Support – Denis Loubet Patreon

    Our good friend Denis Loubet, and the one responsible for Shroud of the Avatar’s cover art and almost every piece of cover art for Ultima, as well as many other art pieces in SotA’s early days of development, is now running his own project. Denis is creating more Science Fiction and Fantasy Art for you to enjoy. Check it out over at Patreon!

    If you remember the Ultima series of computer games, I’m the guy that did most of the covers and the manual illustrations, as well as a lot of the in-game art and animation. I’ve been doing game art since the 80s for companies such as Steve Jackson Games, Hero Games, Origin Systems Inc, Kingsisle, Disney, and many more.

    I want to try doing art directly for my fans, with no middleman. That’s the reason for this Patreon project.

    Resources – Players Helping Players


    The official SotA New Player Welcome Forum and the Player Created Resources Forum have the best player created resources for Shroud of the Avatar, whether it’s a Player Written Guide, a Video Walk-through, or a Wiki-type Website.

    Visit the official Community Resources page for a complete listing of all things community.