Shroud of the Avatar
Shroud of the Avatar (SotA) is a multiplayer online role-playing game being developed by Portalarium to be released sometime in 2015. It is created by Richard "Lord British" Garriott and Starr "Darkstarr" Long. It was first announced as a project by Richard Garriott on November 9, 2011. The title of the game as well as the crowd funding was announced on March 8, 2013.
Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues is the first of a five Episode series. While Episode 1, Forsaken Virtues, is expected of be released in 2015, Episodes 2 through 5 are expected to be released on subsequent years.
Richard Garriott announced the start of the Ultimate RPG and his vision of "Ultimate" Role Playing Game on his Facebook page on November 9, 2011:
- "Today, with my new company Portalarium, and with the talents and skills of many who made Ultima an Ultimate RPG, we set forth to forge a "New Britannia," a new world from scratch, internally self-consistent, deep and refined. We have lofty goals as an Ultimate RPG. An Ultimate RPG does not fear going where others fear or have failed."
- "[H]ere is what I feel is safe to say: Lord British's Ultimate Role Playing Game, which may be called "Akalabeth" or may be called "New Britannia" or may be called "a name I cannot yet say as it describes the setting I am considering and think I should keep secret at least until I know if it's likely true," will be an Ultimate RPG. You will have customized Avatar homesteads and real roles to play in a deep, beautifully realized highly interactive virtual world. It will have virtues and the hero's journey reflected back to the player. It will have the best of synchronous and asynchronous features in use. Fiction will support your arrival from earth into this new world. I even hope to make maps, coins and other trinkets available to players of the game.(...)"
- "[C]ome play with us in the brave new world. Help us grow it. Teach us about what you have learned in your years of playing. Invite in your new friends who are new to gaming. They will be a new spirit and provide new ideas about what to do. They will likely not tolerate bad instructions, bad interface or huge upfront fees, which is a good thing! We will teach and learn from them as well."
Ultimate RPG fan page was launched on Facebook on December 6, 2011, inviting fans to sign up for beta. On that page, a teaser message is posted on February 28, 2013:
- Exciting stuff coming soon! Stay tuned...
A week long countdown was set up on lordbritishpresents.com on the first day of March 2013, revealing information and puzzle map pieces every other day until finally the Kickstarter campaign was announced on March 8, 2013, revealing the name of the game as Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues.
Kickstarter campaign for Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues was launched on March 8, 2013 and ended on April 8, 2013, during which time $1,919,275 was raised within 30 days from 22,322 backers. Several tiers are set up for early backers (also known as Founders) to pledge that give bonus rewards from cloth maps to special housing in the game (see: Founder Pledge Rewards).
After the successful Kickstarter campaign, similar pledge options were given to backers (also known as Benefactors) via the Shroud of the Avatar website who couldn't pledge before the end of the campaign (see: Benefactor Pledge Rewards).
- Main article: Release Dates
The first pre-alpha release (Release 1 or simply R1) of Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues was made available on December 12, 2013 at 10:30 CT and lasted until December 16, 2013. This first release focused on initial systems like installing the game, patching, registration and character creation as well as some of the in-game systems like house claiming, house decoration and NPC interactions. Only the Single Player Online mode was available on R1.
The second pre-alpha release, R2, was made available on January 23, 2014 and while it was supposed to end on January 25, 2014, it was extended until January 27, 2014. This second release was also Single Player Online-only. R2 introduced the initial Crafting system.
Selective Multiplayer Online
- Main article: Selective Multiplayer Online
- Main article: Housing
Players can own a land lot by obtaining a Property Deed (either purchasing by in-game currency or obtaining as a reward of the pledge after Citizen tier) which comes in three sizes: Village (smallest), Town, and City (largest). Once a land is obtained, a house can be placed on it which stays in the persistent shared world. There are different type of houses and basements that can be placed on specific type of land lots.
Land lots are subject to an in game currency tax that must be paid monthly. Failure to pay this tax will result in losing the land but getting the Property Deed back. While Backers at Citizen level and above receive a tax exempt Lot Deed, the lot can still revert after five months of inactivity at Citizen level, plus one month per tier above that. Players can sell land lots and houses to other players, but the trade will be taxed by the game.
- Main article: Combat
As of January 2013, the details of the combat system is still being worked on and will be tested on Release 4. The following information is based on the given notes about combat and the details can be changed drastically in future releases.
Combat in Shroud of the Avatar works by using a shortcut bar that triggers combat actions. Players can assemble Decks with spells, combat moves, consumables, and other actions before combat. More than one deck can be assembled by the players and decks can be switched, even while in combat (with a cost). During combat the contents of the deck will be shuffled and skills will be randomly dealt out to some slots, there are some locked slots available as well (see: Focus Skills and Noble Skills). Decks have a fixed minimum amount of skills based on player level and a player set maximum size.
The combat system as currently introduced was designed with easy integegration between touch screen and kb/m gamers providing for a wider veriety of systems that SotA may be addapted to in the future.
Shroud of the Avatar is a "buy-to-play" game. In other words, once it is purchased, it does not require a subscription to play.
Shroud of the Avatar can be played on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux platforms. Hardware requirements have not been decided as the game is still in development.
- Main article: Developers
On July 5, 2013, Starr "DarkStarr" Long announced that he joined the Shroud of the Avatar team as the Executive Producer. He stated "We were on a frontier with Ultima Online and we are again with Shroud of the Avatar." 
- What is a Lord British “Ultimate” Role Playing Game?
- UltimateRPG | Facebook
- Kickstarter - Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues by Portalarium, Inc.
- Shroud of the Avatar - Selective-Multi-Player Means Multiple Ways to Play!
- FAQ | Shroud of the Avatar
- YouTube | Shroud of the Avatar: A New Way of Adventure Gaming
- Ultima Online alumni Starr Long reunites with Richard Garriott for Shroud of the Avatar