stories, ultima-online, origins

Origin Stories

Everyone's got a story to tell. Here at the Irregulars, we love telling stories - it's the reason we play games together in the first place. Today, I'm going to tell you bunch of old stories about when my brother Ryan (Vanthor) and I (Trokair) first played Ultima Online on a tiny private shard called Krynn's Demise. It was our second MMO after Nexus: Kingdom of the Winds.

The shard has long since closed up shop, but the memories remain!

A Short Treatise on Blacksmithy

Krynn's was a very small world (my memory is fuzzy, but I want to say around ~50 players), so unlike the official UO shards, there was actually room to put up buildings and shops. Ryan and I quickly founded the Obsidian Artificers and set up a tiny blacksmth's shop right outside Britain. A bizarre combination of skills ensured that we were basically co-dependent on each other for business: Ryan was a grandmaster mage and miner, I was a grandmaster blacksmith and tinkerer. Cue many hours spent mining, enchanting, forging, and tinkering. We eventually established something of a name for ourselves as the source for quality adventuring equipment.

(The story of the actual Adventurer's Mart is one for another day.)

Eventually, we stumbled upon the recipes for dragonscale armor and the most powerful enchantments in the game at the time. You'd think with access to top-tier resources and equipment that we'd have been rolling in gold pieces? No, we mostly just made it to put in the Newbie Box -- only accessible to brand new players. Talk about ruining a digital economy. Ryan still grumbles about finding all of his ore smelted and forged before he even got back to the shop!

If we can find some old screenshots, I'll certainly put 'em up here.

The Pirate Invasion of Moonglow

Britannia was a pretty huge place; vast oceans, soaring mountain ranges, and plenty of cool locales to visit. Once we'd made some money, Ryan and I managed to secure the deed to a small ship so we could sail the seas. One day, when I wasn't around, Ryan decided to track down an island full of pirates so he could hire an army. At the time, NPCs were easily bribed with a little gold, so he managed to fill up our entire ship with pirate mercenaries in short order.

A short time later, having arrived in Moonglow, Ryan disembarked and released all of the pirates in to the city...causing the server to crash in a stream of "YARR!"s. Remember, this was around 2000 and always-on high speed internet was pretty new. I think the server might have been on a 3 megabit connection at the time. In any case, our resident server operator Wolverana was not pleased, and promptly jailed Ryan's character. A few hours logged in to a sparse jail cell would certainly give the wizard time to reflect on the folly of hiring a pirate army. Wolv departed, leaving Ryan to his penance.

Ryan, never one to waste time, always carried tons of crafting materials around with him. He was working on becoming a carpenter at that point in time and, faced with a proverbial blank canvas, began to decorate the cell with vast quantities of tables, chairs, carpeting, and other furnishings. When Wolverana returned some hours later, words were exchanged about the jail being a place for contemplation and not interior decorating. I think she found the whole experience funny enough to let him out early with a warning...

The First Arena Tournament

What happens when you stage a player vs. player tournament where one player is a wizard and everyone else uses melee weapons? If you place them at opposite sides of the arena, the wizard wins. This is pretty much what happened at the first Krynn's PvP tournament -- Ryan was the only grandmaster wizard at the time, and had spent hours running back and forth in a flame wall while polymorphed in to a dragon to max out his magic resistance. The last words every participant heard before they perished? Kal vas flam.

I think his old character bio sums things up rather nicely:

I'm Locke Vanthor, pyro-mage extrordinare. Locke is a character who, well, likes to blow things up. So that's what he does: blows up friends and foe alike. Blows up neutral people too!

Why, you ask, does he blow things up?
Well, there are many reasons. Here are a few: Because he can, because he feels like it, because it's evil, because it's good, beacuse it's neutral, and because he's bored. It is not very hard to name reasons why a chaotic neutral mage blows things up.

Well, I just covered the only subject that needs to be covered, if you have any questions, Locke will be sure to ignite... er, answer them.

Banking on Exploding Potions

The First Bank of Britain in Lower Britain was the premiere hangout spot in Krynn's. Our blacksmith shop was a short jaunt out the West Gate, and there were plenty of benches to sit on while you crafted and chatted about the day's events. Ryan liked to play his mage as perpetually grumpy, so he tended to sit around the bank, occasionally emote *grumble grumble*, and work on raising his alchemy skill. The easiest way to do this? Make explosion potions!

Bored, Ryan began to pave the streets with said potions, informing passers-by to NOT click on them while he was still delicately placing each vial on the cobblestones around the bank.

Yeah, someone clicked.

There were a lot of folks at the bank at that time too...

  • Next time: the founding of Irondale, the Le Daemon restaurant, and a failed attempt at chicken fighting.
  • Wulf or Wolverana, if you read this, leave us a comment! We'd love to reconnect!
  • This post's header image courtesy of Ultima Codex!
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About Kyle Bedell

Kyle's been writing about tech, ludology, and storytelling since 2004. When not soldering, playing board games, or geeking out over hardware, he can be found reading a good sci-fi or fantasy novel.
  • Massachusetts, United States