Community Spotlight ~ Tales of the Underworld

First off, I want to say how humbled both myself and the team were by the amount of amazing stories that were submitted.  What I thought would be an easy task in selecting the best turned out to be quite the epic quest!  One that I must admit, I could not complete without some alterations to my plan!  Which is why every day this week, I will be publishing one of our favorite FIVE Tales of the Underworld!

Today, we begin with a tale of unexpected adventure.  Join me in celebrating Corlag the Bard’s Tale of the Underworld.

Krelm and the Underworld – Part 1
A Shroud of the Avatar Fan Fiction

It all started when Krelm ventured north east into the forest, to hunt for a stag to feed his family. It had been a lean year for crops, and what little they had after their tithes had not lasted long. They would starve if he didn’t make the journey. That would be a worse fate than risking the danger that lie within these woods.

Read more…

Pledge Grace Period Ends May 20th, Updated Tier Prices & Descriptions, Modified Titles

It took us longer than expected to finalize the changes to the pledge tiers, but after much brainstorming, editing, debating, re-editing, soliciting community feedback, editing again, staring at them some more, tweaking here and tweaking there, we’re finally ready to make the updated pledges public! We did our best to walk the tightrope between ensuring the modified rewards are appealing to new backers while showing our deep appreciation for our special early backers with lots of Exclusive Early Founder rewards. If we were ever in doubt about whether a reward should be reserved for our Early Founders, or made available to new backers, we leaned towards reserving it exclusively for our Early Founders. As you read through the updated tier descriptions outlined below, we feel certain that most of you will agree the new tiers contain enough great rewards to attract new backers, while reserving a great many awesome rewards for our very special Early Founders!

Title Changes

We also want to thank all of you that provided feedback about how we should handle in-game honorific titles for new backers and Early Founders. There is quite a lively thread filled with great title suggestions over on the forums (https://www.shroudoftheavatar.com/?topic=community-feedback-request-for-new-tier-titles). We did our best to weigh all the suggestions, and balance the varied considerations. Our primary goals for the title modifications were 1) Provide special, easily identifiable, titles to the Early Founders, 2) clean up some of the title ranking inconsistencies and generic titles, and 3) allow Early Founders to choose from any of the titles, including the new backer titles, the special founder titles, and even the inconsistently ranked and generic titles originally described in the Kickstarter tiers.

There were several suggestions to make the Early Founder titles stand out visually by using a different colored font, which is a great idea! Thus, all Early Founder titles will be in gold colored font when viewed in-game! Additionally, most of the Early Founder titles either have a special prefix, or are ranked higher than the new backer title for the same tier. Several community members posted the proper ranking of titles, which we also cross-referenced with Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_and_noble_ranks). The biggest changes were with the Lord tier and above (where we didn’t adequately research proper ranking when we originally named those tiers and titles). We did our best to balance the divergent community opinions regarding these title changes.

Grace Period Ends at 12 pm CST on May 20th; Early Backers Lock-In Lower Tier Prices

The new tiers will go live at 12 pm CST on Monday, May 20, 2013.  The prices for the tiers have increased an average of about 10%, but all backers that have pledged any amount prior to the end of the grace period will be able to upgrade their pledges thru April 7, 2014 at the old, lower prices! So if you haven’t already pledged, then hurry up and get your pledge in before the end of the grace period so you can lock in the lower prices for your future tier upgrades!





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Community Spotlight ~ Markee Dragon

This week’s Community Spotlight star will be very familiar to our UO fans!  Markee Dragon, a longtime community leader for UO, has been an advocate and voice for Shroud since its conception, with his interviews with Richard reaching thousands of fans and his Shroud of the Avatar Fansite offering a home to all those with a passion for New Britannia!  He is currently hosting a live SotA roundtable each week on Saturdays from 5 to 6pm Eastern at www.twitch.tv/markeedragon. If you missed this week’s episode, you can watch it right here; AND get a sneak peek at the exclusive Warrior Concept Art featured on the show!


The great thing about Markee Dragon’s Roundtables is that ANYONE can join.  And I wouldn’t be surprised at all if a Dev or two manage to sneak into future broadcasts! If you would like to participate, you can join via Google Hangouts. And in addition to exclusive “sneak peaks” of content and Dev interviews, once SotA is launched, Markee plans to air game-play live streams and create YouTube episodes for content a well.  For now, check out his Shroud of the Avatar channel on YouTube to catch up on all the interviews and roundtables you may have missed!

Pen of the Avatar ~ 5.14.13

Our next Dev Chat will take place on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 3 pm CST and will feature Stephen Daniele in Pen of the Avatar. As always, I’ll have the exact link where you can watch 15 minutes prior to broadcast, and you can submit your questions via Google using the #LBSotA_Hangout tag, or from the Shroud of the Avatar Chat Room!

Until then, here is another housing sketch from Stephen!

SotA Houses Keep_01

Community Feedback Request for New Tier Titles

Greetings and Salutations!

Lord British has a request to make of you, his Royal Subjects.  We are in the process of defining the new titles for new tiers and would like your input!  Our current thoughts are to add the prefix Royal to many of the Kickstarter only titles, making the basic title available to any new pre-launch pledges.  We would like to know what you think of that!

And then, there are a few titles that just didn’t seem to work with the Royal Prefix, like Lord (and have been left blank in the chart below).  So we would like some feedback as to what titles should be given to new backers for those tiers.

We are also open to considering new names for the existing tiers.  For example, during the Kickstarter campaign, some players suggested that “Lord of the Manor” be changed to “Archduke”.  So if you have any suggestions for alternate titles, now is the time to share your feedback!

Please leave your feedback in the comments, or preferably on the forums in the following thread: Community Feedback Request for New Tier Titles

  KS Campaign New Backer
TIER Title Title
Adventurer Pioneer Benefactor
Immortal Adventurer Immortal Adventurer  
Founder Founder  
Royal Artisan Royal Artisan Artisan
Virtual Collector Royal Archivist Archivist
Digital Explorer Royal Explorer Explorer
Explorer Royal Explorer Explorer
Collector Royal Curator Curator
Patron Royal Patron Patron
Ancestor Royal Ancestor Ancestor
Navigator Royal Navigator Navigator
Developer Royal Tinkerer Tinkerer
Citizen Royal Citizen Citizen
Edelmann Royal Edelmann/Edelfrau Edelmann/Edelfrau
Knight Knight/Dame  
Lord Lord/Lady  
Baron Baron/Baroness  
Duke Duke/Duchess  
Lord of the Manor Lord of the Manor/Lady  

*Note* ~ Kickstarter backers will be able to chose between the base title or the new “Royal” prefixed title.

Community Spotlight ~ Rustic Dragon & The Hearth of Britannia

This week, we shine our Community Spotlight on an amazing community member, Vitralis, and his very unique tribute to all things edible and Britannia.  And I’m not just saying that because he sent us food!

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Though he did put together an amazing care package of home backed goodies, with some spectacular SWAG and an amazing hand-detailed shipping crate that made it feel like Christmas around the office.  Here is a short video of Richard opening the Runic lettered , wax sealed letters that accompanied the package.


Vitralis has been an active member of the SotA community from the beginning, sharing his passion and excitement with us and other community members in more ways than I can count, but most notably, by hosting live Dragonsmeets, where we can all celebrate and share in the bounty of New Britannia.

Despite his busy schedule, Vitralis was kind enough to extend me a brief interview.

If you were an NPC in Shroud of the Avatar, how would describe yourself?

Vitralis the Blue: He’s an old, salty cook, seldom seen without his worn black fishermans cap. It covers the few remaining strands of stubborn hair on the top while defiant poofs of long, grey locks erupt from the sides and back of his head, held in check by a single leather thong tied neatly into a clove hitch. His days are spent in the kitchen of a tavern that he and his sea faring mates founded together when they retired from the salty life.

When not crafting his foreign, peculiar, yet undeniably popular culinary creations, he’ll hang up his apron and saunter out into the pub. Despite his generous age, he’ll out drink and outlast everyone in tavern, regaling them with adventurous tales from his youth and delighting the crowd with concertina tunes. Yet somehow, he’ll always be up at dawn, preparing breakfast for his guests.

What do you hope to facilitate in the community with Dragonsmeet?

So far, I’ve hosted two hangouts via Rustic Dragon. The first was the Kickstarter Celebration on April 13th and recently, the Inaugural Dragonsmeet on May 1st, which I hope will be the first of many more broadcasts.

The plan moving forward is to have regular semi-monthly (and potentially even weekly) broadcasts at varying times to accommodate international fans, all in the same format as May 1st’s Dragonsmeet. It will consist of talk-show style broadcasts with regular and rotating segments, interviews, facilitated discussions for both pre-determined Ultima related topics and recent SotA development, and an open-ended off-the-air “after party” once the stream ends for everyone to let it all fly.

Additionally, I hope to be able to interview the movers and shakers in the fan community, one per broadcast. I would also love to interview any willing Portalarium folks as well. These wouldn’t be SotA related interviews, however. Rather, I want to know everyone’s Ultima/Lord British story. I want to know how everyone came to jump through a Lunar Rift and end up at Portalarium. I want to know what games inspire them, who their heroes are, and what things excite them as much as SotA excites all of us. I want to give the Port team an opportunity to talk about themselves instead of just their work. Inquiring minds want to know!

Simply put, I want to add relevant content to the community and facilitate interactions between awesome people to the best of my ability. (Maybe I should turn that into a mission statement for rusticdragon.com…)

What are YOU most looking forward to in Shroud of the Avatar?

This may sound silly, but I’m looking forward to everything that happens between now and the end of development of the final chapter. When I’m not knee deep in my Dragonly doings, I’m actually an Interaction Designer by trade. Because of this, I absolutely can’t wait until the developer forums open up and I can sink my teeth into the myriad juicy problems that doubtlessly will be there to solve. Portalarium will get way more than they bargained for when they dreamed up the Developer pledge level. Prepare the inbox for wireframes, affinity diagrams, persona maps, and slews of sketches detailing my visions for item design and interactivity. Will they be used? Maybe, maybe not, but I’m still going to have a great time making them!

As for the game itself, I’m one of those strange people that enjoys MMO’s but doesn’t particularly enjoy playing with people. I’m drawn to games like WoW and Age of Conan due to the sheer vastness of the world. I love exploring and discovering new places. Massive games tend to satisfy this need but I’ve always played solo. Admittedly, however, the few times I’ve had the opportunity to play online games with my real friends, it’s been an amazing experience. Thus given my gaming tendencies, the fact that awesome, like-minded gamers are coming together via the Dragonsmeets, and the proposed model for limiting the people in the world to those most relevant to you, I can’t wait to jump into New Britannia with both feet and travel with my new friends. Hopefully we can have a Dragonsmeet at the Hearth of Britannia in New Britannia. How awesome would that be?

There are many other elements that I’m excited for as well, but anyone still reading at this point deserves a medal. :) And if you are still reading this and want to continue the conversation, all of my contact information is available at the bottom of www.rusticdragon.com Send me a message and introduce yourself. I’d love to meet you.

Pen of the Avatar with Stephen Daniele 5.7.13

Join Stephen Daniele in Pen of the Avatar as he shares what he considers to be his “Art Bibles”.  If you are interested in honing your own art skills, you won’t want to miss this episode.

As promised, a list of Stephen’s recommended Art resource texts:

  • How to Paint like the Old Masters – Joseph Sheppard
  • Oil Painting Secrets from a Master – Linda Cateura
  • Facial Expressions – Mark Simon
  • The Human Figure in Motion – Eadweard Muybridge
  • Das Figgure Liche Zeichnen – Andrew Loomis
  • Constructive Anatomy – George Bridgman
  • The Practice and Science of Drawing – Harold Speed
  • Mastering Composition – Ian Roberts
  • Architecture: Form, Space & Order – Francis D.K. Ching
  • Basic Perspective for Artists – Keith West



Art Time with Stephen Daniele 5.2.13

Our next Dev Chat will take place on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 3 pm CST and will feature Stephen Daniele in our fan favorite, soon-to-be-renamed Art hour. And be sure to vote in our poll to select a new name for Art Hour, which we will announce during tomorrow’s broadcast.

We Claim This New Land As…

As you know, we moved into our new offices on Sunday. They looks swanky, and the view is amazing, but the best part is they cost even less then our old Downtown offices.  That means more money goes directly into the development of Shroud of the Avatar!

Many of you requested pictures, so I’ve created a photo album on our Tumblr site so you can get a peek at our new lair!  Most of the pics were taken as we were settling in on Monday, but Brekken (the last Werewolf, as some of you may remember her) was kind enough to share a few she snapped on Sunday, including a great shot of Rick, SotA’s Project Manager! Yes, that’s him on the back of the moving truck!

Moving Album

We’ve had a caption contest going over on Facebook for our first photo of Richard in his new office. My challenge to you is to come up with even more captions for the remaining pictures.

I’ll even include a link to a meme generator for you!

You can submit your captioned photos on Tumblr when your done and I will feature the best ones! So what are you waiting for? Get captioning!