It's time for holiday festivities! In addition, there are big changes to Elite and Boss monsters in this update. There are also revisions to the Ice Magic and Deer skills. And, of course, various other things as well. Read on for more info.

Ri-Shin Celebration
The holidays are upon us! While Alharth doesn't celebrate Christmas, it does celebrate Ri-Shin Day, and New Years' Day. Townsfolk who are your Friends will offer you gifts when you speak with them. (Make sure to have your favorite combat skills active in case they give you a piece of randomly-generated gear!)

There's also a Ri-Shin festival waiting to happen in each city and township in the land, but they will need your help getting their trees assembled. Look for townsfolk in festive red Ri-Shin hats to get started.

This year, there's also a new way for the community to work together. This is an experiment -- we've never tried anything like this before. You'll receive an introductory quest for this part of the event after you've assembled a few Ri-Shin trees. (If you're a Druid, you'll be briefed immediately upon login.)

High-Level Elite/Boss Changes
As mentioned in the last patch's notes, we're working on making high-level combat take longer. This will eventually include both solo and group combat, but we're focusing on group combat right now. Some of the big-picture details are in flux a bit as we experiment and see what's going to work (e.g. "how many Elites is a tank supposed to be able to handle at once?" answer: "we're not sure yet").

We've been improving the "tanky skills" in preparation for these longer fights, but it's been hard to get good tanking data because most high-level Elite monsters simply haven't needed a tank: a group of players could blast them to death in seconds. So it's time to make Elites live longer and see what happens!

In this update, Elite/Boss monsters have a lot more health and armor, and Bosses deal less damage. We'll be watching your feedback (and our combat data logs) to try to figure out where to go from here. We may need to temporarily revert these changes, reduce them, increase them, or add more systems into the mix to address specific problems.

Bosses (but not Elites) also deal less base damage than before. The actual amount varies by boss-tier and the bosses' personal stats, so it's hard to generalize, but at level 80 an "average boss" deals about 25% less base damage.

Both Elites and Bosses deal less damage with their Rage attacks, also. The median reduction in rage-bonus-damage is about a 40%, but again it's hard to generalize too much.

Here's some more details about the implementation.
  • Prior to level 35, elites/bosses have about the same overall health+armor, but some of their health has been switched to armor as a side-effect of the formulaic changes. This will make them a bit harder, so be careful!
  • Starting at about level 35, elites/bosses gain more health and armor than before. This increases fairly gradually until level 50, then it starts going up more quickly. By level 80, the total health+armor of most elites and bosses has almost doubled! (And a lot of that increase is in armor, which means the monster has more mitigation for longer.)

Elite/Boss Loot Changes
We've also added some additional rewards for killing Elites/Bosses. When you loot an Elite, you'll now automatically "find some Councils" on the corpse. The amount is based on the monster's level, with some random variance. Bosses also drop extra money in the form of Council Coinpurses. (And bosses with curses drop more money sacks.) Finally, the most deadly tiers of bosses have a higher chance to drop high-rarity gear.

(These quick generalized changes were made because we didn't want to revise every monster's custom loot table just yet. But hey, maybe it's fun enough to remain permanent. Let us know what you think after you've had some time to try it out.)

Ice Magic Changes
Ice Magic is supposed to be a versatile wizarding toolkit: it can provide exceptional crowd control, potent survival tools, and decent damage, depending on which abilities you use. Its crowd-control abilities were already top-tier, so we've focused on other aspects of the skill in this update. There's a few nerfs and a lot of buffs.

Fire Magic Over-synergy
The biggest nerf to Ice Magic is actually a change to a Fire Magic treasure mod:
  • (Chest, Hands) "Calefaction causes target to take +45% damage from Cold for 12 seconds" => now +16% damage

We realized this mod was overpowered shortly after it was introduced, but it was a "let's wait and see if this is actually a serious problem" scenario. A lot of accidentally-overpowered treasure turns out to be fine, and sometimes an accident like that can really make everything "click" and help define a skill. But not this time. It was hamstringing our ability to make Ice Magic more powerful on its own, so it had to be reduced to a more reasonable level. (And it's still probably the most powerful cross-skill synergy mod in the game.)

Cryogenic Freeze
Cryogenic Freeze needs to take its rightful place in the Ice Magic survival toolbox. It has TREMENDOUS mitigation, and it's intended to be something of a "freebie" for Ice Mages: it's useful without needing to invest lots of treasure mods into it. The only cost is that you have to make room for it on your ability bar. (And treasure makes it more versatile and useful.) Of course, Cryogenic Freeze has the extreme down-side that you are completely frozen and cannot move. But now instead of a forced 10-second lockdown, you can control the duration precisely.
  • Cryogenic Freeze now lasts 20 seconds or until dispelled by using the ability again. The reuse timer is 20 seconds, which begins as soon as Cryogenic Freeze ends.
  • Power cost increased; all treasure effects recalculated in potency

Ice Armor, Ice Veins, and Shardblast
Ice Armor has been buffed up a bit. We've also worked to make Ice Veins and Shardblast more useful. You can now use either one to reset Ice Armor's timer, allowing you to immediately put your armor back on. Which, in turn, allows you to take advantage of Ice Armor's healing mods again!

This "Ice Armor loop" technique can be very powerful but requires a lot of treasure mods to reach full potential. It's also possible to use Ice Armor in a more passive role, and there are mods to support that style also (such as the ones that boost Cold damage).
  • Ice Armor: highest tier of ability has slightly higher mitigation (+27 vs crushing, slashing, piercing, and ice), and all tiers now grant extra mitigation from Elites (+54 additional at highest tier)
  • Ice Veins: power cost and base damage increased. All treasure potency recalculated
  • "Ice Armor restores 80 Power over 30 seconds" => "Ice Armor costs -19 Power and restores 51 Power after a 6-second delay"
  • "Ice Armor restores 170 Armor over 30 seconds" => "Ice Armor mitigates +16 Physical and Cold damage, and mitigates +32 more against Elite attacks"
  • "Ice Armor boosts Cold attack damage +34" => +50
  • "You regain 44 Health when using Ice Nova or Shardblast" => "Ice Nova and Shardblast deal +61 damage and cost -12 Power"
  • New treasure (off-hand): "Ice Veins heals +16 Health and resets the timer on Ice Armor (so it can be used again immediately)"
  • "Ice Veins heals 120 Health over 10 seconds" => 180 health over 10 seconds
  • Ice Veins is now marked as a Minor Heal ability (making it eligible for equipment that boosts Minor Heals).
  • New treasure (head): "Ice Armor instantly restores 80 health"
  • "Shardblast resets the timer on Ice Armor (so it can be used again immediately)" => "Shardblast deals +X% damage and resets the timer on Ice Armor (so it can be used again immediately)" *

Cold Sphere Changes
Cold Sphere's old Rage attack (at high level) was a 10-second root. This was too much of a good thing and it's now a 5-second root at all levels.

We've tried to make Cold Sphere useful in two different scenarios: for Ice Mages who are using a different skill as their primary damage source, they can invest in Cold Sphere mods to get a bit of extra damage on the side (plus its innate root is always handy).

For players who ARE using Ice Magic as their primary damage-dealer, Cold Sphere's damage-boosting mods are often not worth using, but there's a new mod that gives it a Cold-vulnerability debuff. This makes Cold Sphere an interesting (but not mandatory) option for any Ice Mage.
  • Cold Sphere: increased base damage-boost of all pets level 50+. The "root" effect from their rage attack is reduced from 10sec (!) to 5sec
  • "Your Cold Sphere's attacks deal +34 damage and taunt -65%" => "Your Cold Sphere's attacks deal +50% damage and taunt -25%"
  • "Your Cold Sphere gains 156 Armor" => "Your Cold Sphere gains 90 Health"
  • New treasure (chest): "Your Cold Sphere's attacks deal +24 damage and cause the targets to suffer +12% damage from future Cold attacks (non-stacking)"
  • New treasure (head, hands): "Your Cold Sphere's attacks deals +170 damage, but their Max Health is -80"

Other Ice Magic Changes
Added a bit more damage overall. Nerfed one of Frostbite's mods, but don't be misled: it's still an extraordinarily good debuff. (And it will only become more powerful as combat duration increases! In fact, we may need to tone it down some more later.)
  • Ice Nova: power cost and base damage increased. All treasure potency recalculated
  • Frostbite ability: ability base damage increased slightly
  • "Blizzard deals 328 armor damage and generates -120 Rage" => "Blizzard Damage +255"
  • "Frostbite deals +154 damage and raises the target's Max Rage by 79%, preventing them from using their Rage attacks as often" => "Frostbite deals +176 damage and raises the target's Max Rage by 33%, preventing them from using their Rage attacks as often"
  • "Freeze Solid resets the timer on Ice Spear (so it can be used again immediately)" => "Ice Nova deals +110 damage and reuse timer is -2 seconds" *
  • "Freeze Solid restores 161 armor to you after a 15 second delay" => "Freeze Solid restores 112 armor to you"

One-Tier Mods Changed (*)
You may notice a couple of asterisks above. Those are treasure mods that previously only had one "tier" of effect. The revised versions add more tiers to each mod, allowing the mods to become slightly more powerful at high level. This resulted in a slight quirk: pre-existing items with these mods are still stored as having the first tier of the mod. This means even high-level items will have the lowest-tier version of these mods.

This isn't really a huge deal in terms of potency, but if you want to fix it, you can Transmute the mod off the item and then Transmute it back on -- it will be the appropriate tier when it's re-added. (And this month, Transmutation is cheap for the Ice Magic and Deer skills.)

Deer Changes
The earliest animal forms were all experimental designs, and Deer was originally the prototypical "off-tank" skill. Then we decided that off-tanks weren't useful in a game without raids, so Deer was revised in a few other directions. But the most recent revision made Deer fairly tanky again, so let's build on that. Here's a fresh idea: what if Deer was like an "off-tank"?

In old-school MMO terminology, an off-tank can act as a tank for an elite enemy (or multiple solo enemies), but may have trouble tanking some bosses -- although dedicated healers can help there. What makes them unique, though, is an ability to take over aggro for anyone... including a tank! (Hence the name "off-tank", because they can pull monsters off the tank.)

We'll try to give Deer that ability and see what it's like. There's new treasure that gives you a new sidebar ability "Feign Injury", which "temp taunts" a target. Temp taunting works like regular taunting, except it decays at a rate of 20% per second. So a temp taunt of +10,000 would be 10,000 Taunt at first, then a second later would be recalculated as 8,000, then a second later as 6,400, etc. So this ability should help Deer get aggro from anyone, anywhere... at least for a few seconds.

An off-tank should also have solid taunting and survivability, and deal decent damage. So that's what we'll try to do here. In addition, the Deer skill has always had incredible mobility (which is what makes them an interesting off-tank), and we want to keep that too.

Rethinking Deer Pet
Deer players can summon an ally deer to aid them. Previously these deer had an innate 300% taunt multiplier and were intended to be sort-of off-tanks themselves, sharing tanking duties with the player deer. We recently gave these summoned deer the benefits of our experimental genetics system, which could randomly give these pets incredible health and armor. Better for tanking! But yet... at high level, a well-equipped player deer can easily out-taunt and out-tank a pet deer. This just feels like an unwieldy design.

We've dropped the idea that these pets are tanks, and focused them on damage. They no longer have an innate taunt bonus or souped-up genetics. However, they have higher base damage, and the pet's taunting-related treasure effects have been changed into a damage boost.

There are also new treasure mods that summon additional deer for a few seconds at a time. This makes for a fun solo build, although it's somewhat mod-intensive and also pretty chaotic. But a fun kind of chaotic! (For those who don't want chaos, we've also bumped up Deer's more traditional murder methods.)

It's useful to know that every attack your pet deer makes is considered a "deer kick". This is relevant for one specific treasure mod:
  • (Hands, Necklace) "Deer Kick implants insect eggs in the target. Future Deer Kicks by any deer cause target to take 310 Nature damage over 5 seconds"

This mod is unchanged, except that it no longer stacks more than four times: twice for each piece of equipment it can show up on. (That's *not* a limit of 4 stacks of damage, it's 4 stacks of the debuff that applies the damage!) Also, we've reworded the effect to clarify that pet deer can trigger the damage.

Removed treasure mods
We've tried hard to avoid breaking existing equipment by repurposing obsolete Deer effects with new ones. However, in one place this was impossible. A head-slot mod was removed without any replacement. If you had this mod on a piece of head gear, that item has become "Legacy", meaning it will stop working after a month. You can fix this by using a Transmutation table to remove the mod off of your helm, or you can speak to the Legacy Golem in Serbule to receive a randomly-generated replacement item.
(Transmutation of Deer treasure is much cheaper this month, to help you adjust to these changes.)

Specific Deer Changes
  • Doe Eyes: Power cost increased. Ability now resists more physical damage, especially against Elites, and lasts for 24 seconds instead of 10. (At level 77 it now gives 36 mitigation, plus 72 more vs. Elites)
  • "After using Doe Eyes, your next attack deals +169 damage" => "Doe Eyes reuse timer is -2 seconds, and after using Doe Eyes your next attack deals +190 damage"
  • "Doe Eyes restores 95 armor" => "Doe Eyes mitigates +16 physical damage (Crushing, Slashing, Piercing) for 26 seconds. Against Elite enemies, mitigates +32 more"
  • "Doe Eyes heals 80 health" => "For 10 seconds after using Doe Eyes, you mitigate +36 from all attacks, and a further +72 from Elite attacks"
  • Ability "King of the Forest": base damage and Power cost increased slightly; all treasure stats tweaked slightly as a result
  • "King of the Forest gives you +15 mitigation of any physical damage for 20 seconds" => this effect was available on two slots, but only applied once. This was intentional at the time, but now we're trying to make all treasure mods stack together when possible. New (stacking) version: "King of the Forest mitigates +14 physical damage (Crushing, Slashing, Piercing) for 10 seconds. Against Elite enemies, mitigates +28 more"
  • "Cuteness Overload heals you for 114 health" => "Cuteness Overload Damage +270"
  • "Combo: Deer Bash+Any Melee+Any Melee+Deer Kick: final step hits all enemies within 5 meters and deals +100 damage." => deals +240 damage
  • Summoned Deer no longer have the benefits of the experimental genetics system, but have higher base damage
  • Summoned Deer no longer have an innate 300% taunt bonus
  • Summoned Deer can randomly be male or female
  • "Summoned Deer Taunt +X%" => "Summoned Deer Rage Attack Damage +Y"
  • "Antler Slash has a 50% chance to restore 48 armor" => this effect has been replaced with an entirely unrelated effect. (head, chest): "You can use the Deer ability Feign Injury, and it temp-taunts +11300. (Equipping this item will teach you the ability if needed.)"
  • (Hands, Feet) "Deer Bash deals +120 damage and knocks the enemy backwards" => "Deer Bash has a 15% chance to summon a deer ally for 30 seconds"
  • New (ring): "Cuteness Overload deals +160 damage and knocks the target backwards"
  • New (Head, Necklace): "Pummeling Hooves deals +45 damage and has a 8% chance to summon a deer ally for 30 seconds"
  • "Antler Slash deals +X% damage" => "Antler Slash hits all enemies within 5 meters and taunts +Y". NOTE: this effect used to be available on two slots, Head and Hands. It is now only on Hands. See above about Legacy items.
  • "Psychic Mitigation +34 while Deer skill active" => "Psychic and Nature Mitigation +34 while Deer skill active"
  • "Nature Mitigation +34 while Deer skill active" => "Burst Evasion +8.5% while Deer skill active"
  • "Deer Kick Damage +85" => "Deer Kick Damage +45 and grants you -10% Fire Vulnerability for 10 seconds"
  • New: (main-hand) "Combo: Forest Challenge+Any Melee+Any Melee+Any Epic Attack: final step deals +150 damage and summons a deer ally for 30 seconds."

Live Event Token Prize Changes
We've revised some of Riston's special prizes so that they use abilities instead of items. For those that have already purchased a Vendor Fox in a Box or the Small Box of Space, the summoning item in your inventory has been converted to a skill book that will teach you the new ability. This skill book can only be used once, so use caution if you must transfer this skill book to another character on your account. Also with this change, you will have to purchase these items per character now if you wish to have it on more than one character on your account.

Other important notes:
  • Once you learn the Vendor Fox in a Box ability, the ability requires you to have some type of crate in your inventory. Any crafted storage crate and most pet crates (when Animal Husbandry is released) will work to allow use of the ability. The crate will not be consumed. The cool down timer on the ability will reset in 2 real-time hours, but you still need to spend 2 hours in-game before you can use the ability again. (You can see that timer in your effects bar under the effect 'Boxed Fox'.)
  • Once you learn the Small Box of Space ability, there are no other requirements. Just use the ability to summon your storage box. The cool down timer for this ability has been extended to 90 minutes (from 60 minutes). The cool down timer on the ability will reset in 90 real-time minutes, but you still need to spend 90 in-game before you can use the ability again. (You can see that timer in your effects bar under the effect 'Spaced Out'.)

As time goes by, we will slowly be adding more and more items, abilities and services to the game that will require Live Event Tokens. For this update, we have added a new 50 token prize! Find Riston in the Red Wing Casino to check it out!

Other Changes In This Update
  • Bug fix: Rabbit: "Bun-Fu Blast deals +80 damage and restores 44 Power after a 9-second delay" => this did not add damage to Bun-Fu Blast as expected
  • Bug fix: Rabbit: "Bun-Fu Blast deals +78 damage and hastens the current reuse timer of Bun-Fu Strike by 3 seconds" => this did not add damage to Bun-Fu Blast as expected
  • Rabbit: added Astounding Familiar Controllers (level 80 ice magic tiara) to loot
  • Flight in-combat: the Power penalty for flying while in combat now has a much higher cap (meaning flying while in-combat for more than a few seconds costs more Power than before)
  • Added a "quit" button to the login and character-select screens
  • Fixed AI bug that caused monsters to hate the first attack that hit them more than intended
  • "Carbon-form Scrutinizer Array" only gave a +5 pathology bonus instead of intended +10 bonus
  • The visual appearance for Winter Court Murder Armor (level 80 Hardcore armor) did not glow as intended
  • "Rubgag's Dancing Shoes": sprint buff now only works out of combat
  • Worked around Unity shader bug that could cause treants to turn into nightmarish blobs of polygons
  • Fixed bugs that caused "corpse stink" particles to continue emitting after the corpse was closed