Sword Art Online-1: Theme Information
This page's purpose is providing all necessary information needed to portray Sword Art Online in the Multiverse, for both FCs and OCs. It will avoid spoilers, and is maintained by Mouvar - current player of Kirito - in collaboration with active cast.
Virtually all of the information on this page was directly compiled from active study of the anime and light novels. Some of it is extrapolated, other bits are common sense, a few parts are adapted to better fit the Multiverse theme, but it stays as true to presentation as possible.
Note that the anime doesn't cover the fine details, and it would be wise to use this as page as a reference for certain game aspects when necessary.
NOTE TO READERS: a simplified version is available HERE
Table of Contents
Section One: The Technology
FullDive technology overrides the nervous system's usual means of motor control and perceptions to immerse the user in a complete virtual environment. The appropriate brain areas are stimulated and blocked through harmless induction, leaving the user unable to move about or perceive things in reality. FullDive itself is a safe, proven technology - when used properly. One must rememberer to take breaks for bodily needs and the like. Unfiltered VR sensations can have consequences, however: autonomous functions like a flight or response still cause adrenaline surges, increasing heart rate as an example, and intense pain can carry over to reality - hence, most software transmits very little pain as a safety feature.
FullDive has phenomenal potential beyond VRMMO: the ability to directly override the mind could restore sight to the blind (by directly stimulating the visual cortex, linked to a camera) or control prosthetics, override pain reception as a completely safe and generic anaesthetic, as well as providing extremely realistic training, simulations, and commuting opportunities.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This is not the Matrix. Dying in VR cannot directly kill you unless you are stupid and use FullDive hardware that has the power to fry your RL body.
NerveGear stands as the first mass-produced FullDive unit. A bulky and heavy helmet that must be latched into place, it boasts a powerful CPU, considerable battery, high-frequency neural transmitter, huge flash memory storage, and the capability to map I/O to all portions of the brain - including rudimentary emotional detection routines.
Following the Sword Art Online incident and, later, Noboyuki Sugou's released information detailing FullDive-based psychosurgery, NerveGears were banned from shelves and production, regarded by many as 'that devil machine.' Many have been destroyed or hoarded away by various institutions. Few remain in civilian hands - most of those being SAO survivors.
RCT Progress developed the AmuSphere to restore FullDive technology's future. Compatible with all NerveGear software, slimmer and lighter, and far safer, AmuSphere delivers where NerveGear failed.
AmuSpheres are narrow headbands with a flip-down visor. They have no battery, are easily slipped on and off, and use less power than the NerveGear. The AmuSphere CPU isn't as powerful however, nor is its neural transmission. As a result, there's a small discrepancy between between nerve-VR transmissions, and sometimes perceptions of reality slightly bleed into the VR experience.
The AmuSphere is physically incapable of harming its user. The low-powered transmitter ensures no brain damage, and its limited mapping region limits it to only motor control and perceptions. Its sensors continuously monitor the user's vital signs, watching for abnormal heartbeats and signs of intense stress. If it detects health hazards such as panic attacks, the AmuSphere will warn the user with a few beeps. If they continue, it automatically cuts FullDive.
The AmuSphere is commercially available and about as expensive as a cheap computer or expensive gaming console.
Created by Koujirou Rinko, the MediCuboid uses much of the same equipment as NerveGear, making it equally as dangerous were it not using a very different firmware and managed entirely by medical staff.
MediCuboids are isolation chambers / beds / FullDive rigs for permanently bedridden patients, allowing better quality of life through an escape into Cyberspace, while hooking directly to medical technology staff can use to enhance treatments through direct nerve stimulations. The interface for a MediCuboid must be surgically installed, and runs down the entire spine. Its reception is far superior to NerveGear, with greater immersion.
Very few units exist, all under specialized institutions.
'Kanto Bootleg' NerveGear
A custom NerveGear produced by Union R&D in a project headed by Nathan Hall and Amanda o'Connell, and with consultation from Kirigaya Kazuto, the Kanto Bootleg NerveGear was originally made to allow the use of some few dozen unused Sword Art Online license keys for some Union members to join Sword Art Online directly as normal players.
A little lighter and sleeker than ordinary NerveGear, it has all of the same features but with plenty of changes for safety. All FullDive software sees it as a NerveGear, but it is just as safe as AmuSphere. Firmware modules are read-only and must be physically replaced, not flashed. The device silently drops any operation that would 'write' to dangerous portions of the brain (preventing psycho-surgical applications) or cause physical harm, and can be programmed to 'listen' for gestures or phrases that trigger its automatic cut-off. When in cut-off, the user is released from FullDive and the KB NerveGear sends fake signals to the server based on the user 'idling.'
This device is available only to the Union and RATH Inc. Precious few exist. All Union Elites can have one though.
Created by Taro for Confederate Elites, the ElfIN (Electronic Life Form INterface) is an adapter for most robotic or AI constructs to experience FullDive, and a prime example of Multiversal engineering. While not all users will experience everything equally (as not every electronic life form perceives the world as humans do), it does bypass the organic barrier.
This device is only available to the Confederacy. The Union and other parties could certainly make similar devices. It might be easier than adapting organic brains to it.
VR SDK 'The Seed'
Shortly after the Alfheim Online scandal, SOMEONE (*coughKazutocough*) anonymously uploaded a package containing the entire source code, arranged as a Software Development Kit, used to create Sword Art Online and its spinoffs like Alfheim Online. It's marked as Open Source, and may be modified however the user wishes - even used for proprietary works.
The file is massive, easily several terabytes - and that's before downloading the rest of its extensive array of default textures, sounds, smells, tastes, and other essentials.
Although designed for VRMMOs in general, The Seed - doubtlessly the result of over a decade of work - contains a physics engine, sensory library, robust networking core, and amazingly powerful management software unmatched by anything else on the market, and is thus widely used by virtually everything aiming to host a FullDive net application.
Physically, The Seed requires at least a 'modern PC' to run in minimal mode - by its world's standards (for 2026, that means something around 8-core 12ghz CPU with at least 64gb of RAM, and around 12 terabytes of storage minimal). However, The Seed is its own entire operating system (with a keen design towards multi-server architecture) rather than a mere program (although it can be run in a virtual machine.).
Big server racks are still needed if you want to host more than a few dozen people at once, naturally.
The Seed is written in a custom programming language building off modern 2026 CPU architectures incorporating many elements of the most successful programming techniques and designs. It features an intensely powerful, modular, and easily extensive high-level API. Its operating system components and layout are presented similar to Linux, although it shares no code ancestry. The code defies most conventions, able to hot-swap components and recompile most of its components without needing reboots or suffering from other such crutches (although running programs may need to be restarted.)
The external GUI (accessed on a computer monitor and similar) is fairly minimal. Default expectations have administrators performing duties within FullDive. Once so connected, menus can be summoned through gestures and one's whole view becomes an expansive registry of options and directives controlled with gestures and speech recognition.
The Seed comes with a variety of cross-compatibility applications, including a Virtual Machine for convenience, though.
Physics Engine and FullDive Libraries
Default Seed worlds roughly mimic real world physics. Although normally the substance of this reality is no more 'real' than in an FPS game - an object isn't made of particles, molecules, elements etc, but instead a 3D model atop which textures are applied and traits like 'weight' and 'material' are defined - the simulation is so realistic that it's very hard to tell the difference at a glance.
The VR world is less dynamic than reality however, with most sensations and perceptions being somewhat exaggerated or less finely articulated. Something may feel 'hot and smooth' or 'rough and cold' but anything much beyond that escapes the rendering power of standard FullDive rigs. Liquid physics are a little funny, and full immersion's said to feel 'off' or 'incomplete.' Tastes, smells, and sounds are quite straightforward, although sound's based on 'distance from source' instead of 'diffusion through a medium.' Gravity is simply a trait applied to a region that pulls objects in one direction or another instead of a phenomenon deriving from mass affecting space-time, and so on. Rendering is minimalistic - if one is looking at something from far away it will seem blurry or indistinct because it's rendered that way to save processing power, but focusing attention on a flower close up triggers the server to render that flower in incredibly fine detail that would've gone unseen from farther away. In short, physics are an approximation, but so detailed it hardly matters for most needs.
The Seed has a number of optional libraries containing countless textures, sounds, smells, tastes, and other resources, and is easily upgraded with additional code.
CARDINAL AI and Management
The beating heart and brimming mind at the core of every Seed installation is a suite of software so advanced and intricate that it can only be called AI - Artificial Intelligence.
The CARDINAL system is a hierarchically organized array of program modules that forms the foundation of The Seed's incredibly versatile API. Unlike true AI, it is not in and of itself a thinking, self-aware being: CARDINAL's goals are nothing more than a collective of directives assigned by an administrator. Its perceptions are simply highly advanced pattern matching and analysis, and its creativity is nothing more than the next level of extremely intricate procedural generation. CARDINAL cannot really be said to have thoughts of its own - it has no face, no presence. It's an amoral force of digital law.
By default, CARDINAL monitors and logs all operations that take place within an installation of The Seed. At the top of its hierarchy are twin processes: the Main Core is tasked with overseeing the functioning of the VR world's physics and rules as set down by the administrator, while the Secondary Core performs constant error checking and control on the Main Core to ensure minimal anomalies. Beneath them an array of sub-routines constantly monitor every inch of the digital world, carrying out the various scripts and world interactions. Within the bounds and patterns set down for it, CARDINAL protects the integrity of design. As an example, for MMORPGs, CARDINAL works to ensure that the in-game economy stays balanced and suffers minimal inflation, that mobs which prove too easily taken out by certain strategies are altered to be a proper challenge and ones which provide too much loot have their loot tables reviewed. CARDINAL can review and revise The Seed code, checking for integrity and suggesting improvements - or performing them itself when necessary. CARDINAL aggressively monitors connections and server activity for signs of threats to server integrity (viruses, hacking, etc) and ruthlessly deals with it whenever found.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Although the CARDINAL that appeared during the World of Swords TP arc DID achieve self-awareness (and this was NOT a pleasant process for it or anyone involved,) the brigade of quirks that allowed for this were corrected in the version released in the wild. CARDINAL cannot easily become self-aware, and this should never happen in casual RP. If you install The Seed, don't portray CARDINAL as capable of interpersonal communication and etc. (unless, of course, you modify it in some fashion because you're an AI programmer. You can do that. Please ask first though.)
Beyond maintaining system integrity, the biggest advantage CARDINAL offers is a ludicrously expansive content generation system. CARDINAL's processes are geared especially for this, specializing in narrative techniques and input analysis. The default Seed package comes with over a dozen 'content packages' defining genres, moods, methods, and seed material.
For example, given a genre of 'fantasy, low tech,' restrictions such as the general shape and scale of a world, and given time to analyze given repositories, it can procedurally generate a whole world such as Alfheim. Actual human work's needed to give the result a true artistic touch and polish, but a great pile of the grunt work can be accomplished with such procedural generation - such as basic models of NPCs, generic equipment, basic cultural inspirations, and so on. If you don't like it? Tell CARDINAL to try a few parts again and see what else comes out!
It may take a few hundred tries before something comes out that you'd like to use as a base, but for the financially strapped that's way better than hiring a huge team.
CARDINAL's content generation is not truly imaginative, however. Again, it uses procedural generation within given restraints and models. In order to create a world, it needs to know what kind of world, what sorts of elements to include, what constraints to work within. To make a skill system or combat system, a basic skeleton needs to be defined to start with, and so on.
NPCs and Storytelling
Once cultural boundaries, world aesthetics, and the overall mood, atmosphere, and 'rating' are defined, CARDINAL's content generation is particularly good at creating procedurally generated communities and regions with constantly interacting defined forces. A village might have a number of political parties warring within, and be surrounded by others such as 'the kobold tribe in the forest' or 'the mountain bandits.' Quests will be developed based on the needs, interests, and previous interactions of the created characters. Most follow simple MMORPG style formats, but occasionally a few oddball ones crop up.
CARDINAL can also pull from various real world sources, such as news feeds, movies, and similar for seed material, though occasionally this results in very odd quests that don't entirely fit in the world's aesthetics. (A few SAO veterans might remember a particular quest that involved a bunch of masked ogres armed with chainsaws.)
How NPCs (people types, not monsters) behave is very up to the administrators, but the default MMORPG behavior set down by SAO standards: most NPCs ignore players, but if directly addressed or interacted with may have a few lines to share. Quest NPCs may engage in extensive dialogue, but will expect certain input: specific questions the player needs to ask ('is something the matter?' or 'could you tell me more?') or answers to given questions ('yes,' 'that's fine', 'don't bother me') etc. They will often ignore invalid input, or sometimes just give a quizzical 'try that again' look. One must listen through the entire speech and so and only respond when prompted, and so on.
A good RL example of how NPCs behave can be found in games like Fallout 3 and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Certain NPCs for very special big quests that are given much more attention by CARDINAL might be managed directly and constantly updated with dynamically generated content on the spot, responding to questions and situations intelligently as they occur. This is a rarity for most games, but when directed to put its full storytelling power and generative ability to use, CARDINAL is capable of some surprising plot twists and developments. An administrator is UNWISE to let it run unchecked, because without restrictions it will not make preserving the game's world and story for the long term a priority. It may very well think an armageddon plot is called for if the right in-character setting elements are coming into play, for instance.
MEMORIAL - The Monument of Life
The Seed has a half-buried feature within its content generation. Activated by default (though it can be disabled,) it causes the PC names, dates, and causes of death recorded by the Sword Art Online CARDINAL to be represented throughout the world in as unobtrusive a manner as possible. They may appear written on gravestones in an UNDEAD CEMETERY region, or in graffiti for an URBAN WASTELAND, featured on cave carvings, or in other places.
Section Two A: The Game - Alfheim Online
Created by RCT Progress after they acquired Argus' assets, Alfheim Online was launched approximately a year after the SAO Incident began, showcasing the new and improved 'AmuSphere' FullDive console. It was recently liberated from RCT Progress and placed into the care of a new company called YMIR.
Setting and Geography - Alfheim
Alfheim, or 'Elf Home,' is the land of the fairies, a fantasy world patterned after ancient myths and folklore, particularly Norse Mythology.
Nine fairy races claim the territory surrounding the World Tree 'Yggdrasil,' roughly sharing the massive island-continent equally while leaving about a tenth in the center around the tree as Neutral territory. The capital cities are all roughly equidistant from the center, each situated on coastal territories and stuck between two neighboring territories. In short, Alfheim's racial borders are organized much like the face of a clock.
The southern zones are deserts and rocky mountains inhabited by the Salamanders and the Imps respectively. The Southwest is Sylph territory, mostly grasslands and massive forests. The West is Cait Sith territory, savannahs and more grasslands. The Northwest is simple grasslands and a bit of tundra, where the Puca live. The far north is a land of ice and snow that the Gnomes and Leprechauns call home. The Northeast is Spriggan territory, full of forests and ancient ruins. The East, finally, is wetlands, marshes, lakes and rivers, perfect for the water-loving Undines. Each race's territory is littered with dozens of small towns and villages, in addition to their massive capital cities.
A mountain range seperates the outer rim territories from the inner zone where Yggdrasil sits in Alfheim's center. The World Tree rises high into the heavens, reaching the clouds. Its trunk is as thick as any capital city is wide, and its branches spread out into a generous canopy of green leaves throughout and above the clouds. Curled up within the safety of a half-exposed root is Aurun, the trade capital - neutral territory for all races. Atop the World Tree, supported by its boughs, Yggdrasil City is the shining jewel of Alfheim, the home to enlightened fairies who've gained the power of ALF-hood.
Directly below Alfheim is the cavernous, dark and gloomy Jotunheim, a land of ice and snow populated by the great and terrifying 'Evil God' class monsters. Enormous, troll-like giants make up half the population of such beings, while animal-types of various sorts make up another. Compared to Alfheim, Jotunheim is very barren - the frozen wastes are home to precious few shelters, with no towns or cities. (There are RUINS, but nothing serviceable as anything besides a hangout.) There are no save crystals or warp points. There are entrances to it at each cardinal direction of Alfheim, with another in a certain building in Aurun. A few unique monsters roaming the plains around the world tree (in particular, one that disguises itself as a whole town) also can send players to Jotunheim.
The stars of Jotunheim are actually icy stalactites, and the great roots of the world tree extend down past the roof, encased in ice and housing a great palace that nobody's yet found a way to reach - for flight is impossible here, even for Imps. All fairy wings wither immediately upon entry.
The Evil Gods of Jotunheim are all boss-type monsters designed to be hunted by large raid groups employing every trick in the book for their rare loot - they're way more than most players can hope to handle by themselves no matter their skill or gear.
Jotunheim is end-game content, and its rare crafting materials are required for Ancient-category gear.
Floating Castle Aincrad
Once the setting of 'death game' Sword Art Online, Floating Castle Aincrad (named such as short for 'an incarnating radius') is a majestic airborne fortress of immense proportions. From the outside, Aincrad appears as a roughly conical floating mountain of black-grey stone and metal, layers and layers stacked together and tapering near the top, whereupon a glorious and great Red Jade Palace crowns the structure. Carved stone protrusions jut from its base, each housing an enormous obelisk shaped like a straight sword pointed skyward. At night, the whole castle takes on an ethereal and luxurious golden glow, lit like a jewel of the heavens.
Aincrad lazily orbits the World Tree, accessible to any Fairy brave enough to soar to such heights - or take Yggdrasil City's teleport gate.
Floating Castle Aincrad has one hundred floors, the last being the Red Jade Palace. Each below it is a world unto itself, though the tapered structure means the lowest floors are the biggest ones. As the bottom floor has a 10km diameter, it's 78 square kilometers of amazing fantasy realm, a little less on floor two, and so on. Enormous pillars sparsely populate each floor, providing structural support for the floors above. Each floor enjoys roughly 100 meters of clear skies open to the air on its edges, although floors not yet unlocked are barred off by impassable grating. The Red Jade Palace cannot be approached at all - a repulsive force gently pushes away any who get too close without earning the right via Aincrad's trials.
Each Floor has a different theme with enemies and towns to match: Lava world, ice world, tree world, lake world, frog world, insect world, flower world, undead world, and so on - many with tons of stories to tell and heroics to participate in. Each also sports at least one wondrous central city choc full of merchants, inns, stores, restaurants, as well as plenty of houses and workshops for sale or rent. They're luxurious and fantastic, to the point where background music is provided via NPC orchestras spread across town. Each floor usually has many small towns spread out about 2 to 8 kilometers from each other (depending on the terrain,) but none really challenge said floor's central city in sheer grandeur. Most are humble farming village sorts, with the occasional centers of trade or odd enterprise (mining towns, lake towns, etc.) Naturally, all of the cities follow the floor's theme: on the forest floor, the cities are constructed within or atop enormous trees; for the insect floor, enormous insect mounds with windows suffice for many buildings. All towns and cities have a Teleport Gate in their main plaza, and when one player discovers and unlocks a Teleport Gate, all other players may use it as well.
Dungeons are everywhere in Aincrad: they're carved into the ground between floors, beneath mountains, within old fortresses, or so on, and some have respawning bosses. All are dwarfed by the true labyrinths that bar the way to the next floor up. These are always carved into one of the massive pillars, and have between 6 and 20-some floors depending on headroom and inner construction. Unique boss monsters await challengers who'd seek to ascend to the next floor. These boss monsters are all end-game challenges, and the first group to defeat one gains fame and unique loot - the names of up to 7 party leaders (or 7 members of a single party, if not a raid group) who defeat a boss are recorded on the Monument of Swordsmen in Floor 1's Black Iron Castle, and bosses drop unique loot when they're first defeated. Differing from the original Aincrad, these bosses DO respawn (or are sometimes replaced with lesser bosses) and are worth re-challenging for quality loot and entertainment, but it pales compared to being the first victors.
Upon defeating a floor boss, after two hours or immediately if a player reaches the Teleport Gate in the next floor's central city - the floor becomes linked to all the others through the Teleport Gates.
Floating Castle Aincrad of Alfheim Online slightly differs from SAO's - many more enemies roam its lands, and now skies as well. Enemies are much harder than before, as the whole castle is now geared as high-tiered, end-game content and a proving grounds for the best of the best. It is also the only place where humans dwell - the Alfheim Online mythos regards Aincrad as a sort of Midgard, with NPCs occasionally referring to it as such. Human NPCs dominate Aincrad's social structures, though a few Fairy NPCs can be found here and there within Aincrad and a few Humans occasionally elsewhere since its inclusion.
Alfheim Online's NPCs set the standard for how Seed NPCs behave, so see above for most of the details on NPC behavior.
Most NPCs in Alfheim proper are Fairies, and most in Aincrad are Humans. They fulfill all mundane roles and needs of the world, everything from humble villagers to smiths and shopowners, waitresses and trainers. NPCs sell only the basics, however - after a point, player-made goods and services hugely eclipse them (alongside epic loots and the odd badass quest reward.)
Most NPCs have basic personalities, being 'extras' in a world intended to portray PCs as epic adventurers. Some are more unique and prominent within various towns and cities, with more dialogue and polished behaviors. Although Fairy NPCs are indistinguishable from a player by pure appearance, examine windows reveal the truth in a flash. NPCs offering Quests will also have hovering yellow exclamation mark above their heads. 'Is something troubling you?' is a pretty standard way to initiate quests.
NPCs often wander within set zones, and cannot be harmed (although those which join players on Quests may, though 'dying' sometimes is regarded as temporary incapacitation of the NPC is crucial and there aren't story paths that cover them dying - or, in the case of Fairy NPCs, death turns the NPC into a Remain Light) and the system prevents players from interfering with this too much. Attempting to shove NPCs around triggers a harassment warning, repulsing players with a harmless zap and giving an error.
Player Housing, Economy, and Amenities
Much of Alfheim's economy depends on a complicated mesh of player interactions. Players with gathering skills will locate minerals, wood, food, and other base ingredients. Crafters will turn this into usable goods. Warriors and other types will use these goods, and bring strange new finds and unidentified goods to players with appraisal skills. Money enters the system when it's generated by quest loot and monster drops, and it leaves it through NPC services like binding to a new respawn point. Virtually all the best goods and services must be provided by players, and player economy drives the slow growth and mutation of in-game towns and cities, with each race's political systems able to spend money on building projects and similar.
The greatest appeal of this system is the ability to rent rooms or buildings, or even purchase plots of land and construct housing, though anything past renting an inn room requires exorbitant expenditures. Many players purchase buildings within cities to then use as shops and/or virtual homes, which must be maintained with periodic rent or taxes. Rented rooms - or pre-established buildings for purchase - evict their dwellers (and any belongings) who default on this upkeep, while those owned and constructed purely by a player will degrade and be destroyed if not renewed. These places make excellent and secure storage areas.
Players can extend or restrict various virtual estate priveleges to others via a thoroughly comprehensive white/blacklist system.
Virtual food and drink doesn't do a thing for a player when consumed, but it does taste good, stems off REAL hunger and thirst (for a time, anyways) but not the need for nourishment, and most importantly sometimes provides buffs.
Although Alfheim (and Aincrad) are fantasy settings, mundane amenities and utilities purposefully resemble modern reality for player convenience. Lightswitches might look a little different for instance (often magic crystal panels on a wall) but do the same thing, triggering lights lit by some cheap and boundless oil or magic power or whatever. Aesthetically wood-fired stoves have digital temperature controls and timers. Indoor plumbing is also a thing even when it makes no sense for it to be… except when it isn't. (Basically, whenever a player is expected to enjoy amenities, they are there and work.)
Monsters is a broad term that covers all kinds of Enemy NPCs. Most are random 'spawns' strewn throughout the lands between towns and cities. 'Spawns' are usually about 30 to 60 meters apart, but sometimes they gather in large numbers. Defeat a monster, and another will soon 'pop'(ulate) into the zone again, aka respawn.
Monsters are simple beings, usually violent animals matching the local ecology in some superficial fashion but taken to fantastic proportions. Some represent 'sapient' races in antagonistic roles, like bandits or pirates. Sometimes a quest NPC BECOMES an Enemy as part of a quest event.
Enemy AI is very straightforward. Each enemy has a range of possible actions that it can perform, and it calculates which to use based on a mixture of randomization and situational awareness for a variety of factors (distance to opponents, location of opponents, how much health it has, etc). This makes them somewhat predictable to experienced players.
Dungeons are, very simply, Danger Zones, usually framed as fortresses, caves, and the like. Most are full of traps and tougher-than-average enemies, but are full of awesome loot and treasure chests and sometimes bosses. Dungeons are designed with parties in mind, but can often be solo'd if a player knows what they're doing.
Bosses are, put simply, very powerful Enemies. More specifically, bosses are typically epic creatures meant to be tackled by either parties (7 players) or even whole raid groups (49 players). They have phenomenal firepower and defense, making the use of healing, buffs, debuffs, and coordinated tactics a downright necessity. Boss fights tend to be prolonged and drawn out, exhausting endeavors for even the most experienced of players.
Bosses use the same kinds of AI as normal Monsters, but are often armed with unique abilities and special moves, or even transform/skillset change midfight. Defeating them is as much an exercise of brute force as it is learning their patterns to counter and exploit them.
Bosses usually spawn for certain repeatable quests, and drop really cool loot.
Player Characters, Chargen, Builds
Upon first login users are brought to a circular room with a virtual keyboard and configuration screen to create a character, guided by an AI voice. Gender is set as the player's gender - whatever the FullDive device reports. (You'd have to fool the device to crossplay, and the results would feel very weird.) Avatar appearances are randomized on creation within an aesthetically appropriate pattern for that race, with customization available for a small fee.
Note: Character names MUST be pronounceable in Japanese, English, or proto-Germanic style speaking! Leetspeak and bizarre unpronounceable characters aren't acceptable. English and Japanese fonts only.
Races and Build Types
Nine different sub-types of Fairies dominate Alfheim, each race has its own color scheme, wing appearance, hometown, and specialties!
The Light races have a lowish base Strength but their light bodies possess insane Agility. The Light races can also wall-Run!
CAIT SITH: Yellow. Recognizable for feline ears and tails, Cait Siths have impressive bonuses to eyesight and overall Intelligence. Their specialty is Beast Taming.
- It does take some practice for a player to control the tail, since humans don't actually have one. And Cait Sith players are in for a surprise when the tail ends up pulled - it feels freaking weird and plain wrong.
SPRIGGAN: Black. Treasure hunters and masters of illusion magic, Spriggans have bonuses relevant to dungeon crawling for spotting traps and locating hidden treasures.
SYLPH: Green. These mighty wind magic masters are considered the fastest of the races, and have phenomenal hearing. Their flight is a good twenty percent or so faster than any other race.
UNDINE: Blue. The aquatic Undines are masters of water and healing magics.
IMP: Purple. The Fairies of the Night, Imps have natural night vision and the unique ability to fly while indoors - until their flight timers run out and their wings need rest.
The Medium weight class races have higher base Strength, exchanged for being heavier so they find it harder to be speedy.
LEPRECHAUN: White. Skilled smiths and craftsmen, the Leprechauns are easily identified by the slightly mechanical aesthetics their wings display.
PUCA: Silver. Masters of buffing and debuffing through mystical music.
The Heavy races have the greatest Strength but are also the slowest.
GNOME: Brown. The largest of the races, the stocky Gnomes gain bonuses to the Mining Skills and Earth, and their raw stamina exceeds all others.
SALAMANDER: Red. Physically strong and gaining major bonuses to Fire magic, Salamanders are great at straightforward military might.
Stats, Skill Slots, and Gear
Alfheim Online is level-less - avatars don't gain levels via experience. Their HP and MP ranges are under a thousand and only gradually shift up or down based on builds. Stats and build are purely a matter of Race, Skills, and Gear. Characters grow only by leveling Skills to gain new abilities, access to better equipment, new spells, and so on. Each Race has a set Strength and Weight. Heavy races favor heavy equipment while light ones favor light gear loads and speed, but these are simply 'optimal' loadouts - high enough Skills and other bonuses can turn a Sylph into a pretty effective tank, for instance. (The corresponding Gnome might be 15-25% better as one though, come endgame.)
Characters have 12 slots with which to learn Skills, which covers everything from what gear they can equip ('One Handed Swords', 'Heavy Metal Armor', 'Boomerang', 'Medium Shield', etc) to benefits to physical feats and senses ('Acrobatics,' 'Running,' 'Night Vision') to Crafting ('Slash Weapon Forging,' 'Metal Armor Forging,' 'Carpentry' etc) and dozens of other things. These begin at 1 and raise to 1000 as they're used, at which point they're Mastered - gaining a slight bonus on top of the advantages of being at 1000. Growth is slow, though. New characters begin with just One Handed Swords and their race's specific Magic specialty. (Darkness Magic for Imps, Illusion for Spriggans, etc.)
Most skills can be trained from the menu (by assigning the listed skill into a slot) or by finding a trainer in town to set you on the path. Some skills, called 'Extra Skills,' are unlocked via quests or any amount of odd actions. Trained Skills can be deleted at any time to clear up a Slot, and replaced with new ones.
Skills affect hidden Stats, adding modifiers to the racial static values. For instance, mastering Battle Healing can give a small bonus to maximum HP, while having One-Handed Swords increases Strength.
Gear requirements are based on Skills. Trying to use Gear you're not ready for results in unwieldy weaponry, over-encumbering armor (that doesn't provide any bonuses), and similar scenarios. It's rarely worth trying to use something you're not ready for. Light races can equip Heavy gear, but need much higher Skills to do so.
Gear must be equipped to various 'slots,' such as left hand weapon/shield, right hand weapon/shield, right hand ring, right shoulder, shirt, pants, coat, headgear, and so on. Gear cannot be stacked.
Skills that exist canonly are listed below, to aid with OC creation. This is all of the OOCly known skills, with some others thrown in from extrapolation, and doesn't cover EVERYTHING that actually exists in the game. It should be plenty useful for further extrapolation though.Want to add some to this list? Get in touch with castmates!
WEAPON SKILLS- The higher a weapon skill is, the better weapons can be equipped. (note: there's plenty more that are seen but never directly mentioned, like one-handed spears and two-handed heavy hammers.)
<One Handed Sword>
<One Handed Short Sword>
<One Handed Dagger>
<One Handed War Hammer>
<One Handed Rapier>
<One Handed Curved Blade>
<Two Handed Assault Spear>
<Two Handed Heavy Axe>
ARMOR SKILLS- Allows equipping of various kinds of equipment, increasing protection offered and reducing encumbrance.
<Light Metal Equipment>
<Heavy Metal Equipment>
<Light Shield Equipment>
<Heavy Shield Equipment>
CRAFTING SKILLS- Used to create, maintain, and improve equipment.
<Slash Weapon Forging>
<Thrust Weapon Forging>
<Blunt Weapon Forging>
<Pierce Weapon Forging>
<Light Metal Armor Forging>
<Heavy Metal Armor Forging>
<Metal Equipment Repairing>
<Medicine Mixing> - Also covers poisons.
REFINING SKILLS- used to refine and process raw materials gathered in the field into base materials for crafting.
(There are surely many more than this.)
MAGIC SKILLS- Grants Words of Power.
<Parry> - Allows blocking powerful attacks using a weapon instead of a shield, lowers (and can even negate) penalties and damage taken from the impact.
<Battle Healing> - Bestows auto-regen.
<Acrobatics> - Increases balance to lower chances of knockdown, increases jumping height and aerial mobility.
<Mount> - Lets you skillfully control mounts like horses.
<Sprinting> - Increases running speed beyond that granted by just Agility.
<Searching> - Expands awareness range to show more distant mobs and players, and counters Hiding. Indicators appear from further away, from behind obstacles, etc.
<Tracking> - Branching from <Searching>, allows tracking of players and mobs by showing recent footprints as a path to follow. How far back they go depends on skill.
<X-Ray Vision> - Branching from <Searching>, focusing on detected entities behind an obstacle. Shows what they are in much greater detail.
<Night Vision> - Branching from <Searching>, negates vision penalties from darkness.
<Hiding> - Reduces chances of being detected to avoid player and monster detection by blending in with the background like a chameleon. Has no effect on detection that relies on senses other than sight, such as scent.
<Listening> - Increases detection skills by picking up fainter and fainter sounds as skill increases. Can be used for espionage, such as hearing through doors.
<Extended Weight Limit> - Increases inventory storage space. Trained by walking around with a very full inventory a lot.
<Emergency Recovery> - Lowers the duration of Status ailments like Stun, Stumble, and Poison. Effectiveness increases at low HP.
<Sales Negotiation> - Better prices when selling things to NPCs.
<Purchase Negotiation> - Better prices when buying things from NPCs.
<Equipment Appraisal> - Lets one identify, scan, and analyze the properties of equipment.
<Tools Appraisal> - Lets one identify, scan, and analyze the properties of tools.
<Fishing> - Does this really need explanation? Higher ranks means better fish from more difficult lakes.
<Treasure Hunting> - Increases drop rates, including max Yrd gained from battles and chests. In Wander Mode, can manifest as strange turns of luck finding things.
PET SKILLS- used to support a familiar for those who use them. ONLY LEARNABLE BY CAIT SITHS
<Beast Taming> - Used to tame bigger and stronger monsters.
<Pet Recovery> - Lowers the amount of time it takes for a slain pet to regenerate.
<Pet Communication> - Allows more complicated orders to be given to your pet more quickly and reliably.
Cait Sith are the only race that can develop a true rapport with monster creatures. While any race may take 'pets' by taming the harmless 'critters' spread across the land, like birds and turtles and the weakest of monsters, simply by offering them food, the Cait Sith-only Beast Taming skill's needed for anything beyond this.
Beast Taming's generally used by attempting to feed monsters instead of slay them, and the higher it is the greater the monsters a player can tame. Pets are a great boon to Cait Sith players. They often possess support abilities like healing magics, status-affecting distance attacks, and the like, and many can fight directly. Pets do not count as Monsters anymore - they have yellow-green cursors, may enter towns and so on. The most stunning example of beast taming in action's definitely the Cait Sith Dragoons, a brigade of dragon riders whose mounts are even stronger than the Cait Siths themselves in many situations.
A player may only have one pet out at a time. The rest are basically stored as special inventory items. A player may have at most a dozen pets stored this way. To make room for more, the only options are trading them away to others with sufficient Beast Taming skill or deleting/releasing them.
Pets may be named, and left to their own devices act autonomously. They'll take the initiative to use support abilities like healing their owner or allies in a party, or debilitating enemies they're fighting. They otherwise behave much like pets, roaming around nearby and interacting with the environment based on what kind of creature it is.
They are also 'intelligent' like NPCs, and so can be ordered into action - or inaction. Simple orders are best. 'Ralph, come here!' is simple, or 'Ralph, attack my enemy!' Just like with NPCs, the more abstract the order the more likely they will not understand it. The higher a player's Pet Communications skill, the more effort the system will put into parsing stranger and more specific orders.
Pets CAN be killed, but unlike normal monsters their deaths are not permanent. Slain pets return to their owners' inventory, and gain a cooldown timer before they can be deployed again. The amount of time is based directly on the overall strength of the Pet (how high Beast Taming must be to control it) and reduced by the Pet Recovery skill. In general, a competetive Cait Sith player with emphasis on recovery can bring their strongest familiars out again in roughly a half-hour, but that time would be closer to 2 or 3 hours without it.
Whenever a player respawns properly (not revived by magic or an item) all pet respawn timers are cleared, so they may be brought out immediately.
Controlling Avatars and Movement Speed
Avatars are controlled as naturally as walking around and breathing in reality. However, Fairy PCs are stronger, faster, and more durable than a human body in reality can ever be - right out of the box.
Basic movement speeds for arms, legs, body, etc, while proportionally modified by relevant weight of equipped gear and avatar weight class, depend largely on how fast the player can command them to move - and when it comes to melee combat and combat manuevering, coordination and honed reflexes are key. While most Players move at human speeds, extremely talented and/or experienced FullDivers accelerate from human-like speeds to blurry movements few onlookers can follow. As a note, while not all Multiversal Elites will necessarily be the best at VR, most can easily grow to be better than casual players.
All players can summon wings of light to soar Alfheim's skies. They only appear when triggered through an attempt to fly, and are translucent, vaguely insectile constructs made of colored light. Wings only work when exposed to the skies - they are powered by heavenly light from the sun, moon, and stars, and tire after 10 minutes of flight - it's /really/ smart to land before that happens. Imps may fly indoors, but even they must keep to the 10 minute flight timer and only recuperate under heavenly light. Wings recuperate at a roughly 1:1 ratio when not in use. The hum of vibrating fairy wings sounds much like a musical instrument, and groups of different fairies flying together can almost be a kind of song.
Two methods exist for controlling them:
Option One- ASSIST CONTROLLER
Extend your left hand and make a gripping motion, and the Assist Controller appears. Strongly resembling a Wii Nunchuk, the ergonomic joystick + button controls direction and acceleration. Tilting the controller about controls angles, and so on. Assisted flight can't manage any tricky or advanced manuevers, and tops out at about 70 percent of the max speed attainable through Voluntary Flight.
Option Two- VOLUNTARY FLIGHT
Though humans don't have wings, careful manipulation of arm, shoulder, and back muscles grants fine control of the wings, though it takes a bit to manage it without making obvious shoulder motions and arm twitches that would interfere with melee combat or Spellcasting. Voluntary Flight takes practice to perfect as it is literally akin to learning to using a whole new limb, but it offers several advantages. Voluntary Flight users are able to perform intricate manuevers, keep their extra hand free, and tease out leagues more speed.
All player races can use Magic, which is considered a form of Skills and uses up Skill Slots.
Spellcasting involves adopting a posture the system recognizes, and chanting out Words of Power to complete a spell. Words of Power are gained from increasing Magic Skills and sometimes other Skills. No formalized, official spell lists exist. Instead, spells are created by arranging the Words of Power to combine and define their meanings using Alfheim Online's own magical language. Targeting is handled through a combination of gesturing and focusing vision. (Current proposed target might glow in a player's sight while casting, etc, and change based on who they're focusing on.)
Most spells are elemental assaults and defenses, but spells exist for every task a player can undertake, from recon to communications to stealth or crafting. Others boost speed, strength, endurance, or a variety of other things.
Words of Power are based on germanic language aesthetics (keying back to Old Norse and so on), thus while some words might have meaning in one or more real languages this rarely if ever coincides with their meaning within Alfheim Online. Each Element does have its own aesthetically distinct family of Words of Power however, so Magic-savvy players can often identify spells as they're being cast.
The following are the focal points and generic roles of the different elements in Alfheim Online. It's worth noting that this is not what they are LIMITED to. In practice, all Elements have equal usefulness at low levels for range of utility purposes - unless stated otherwise below, ALL have various grades of attack, defense, and minor other effects (such as a basic Ice magic creating a telescope of ice to look through.) It's at the higher Skill levels where the roles of each Magic become particularly prevalent and focused.
WIND: Basic Wind spells are blunt force wind blasts, air darts, and swirling barriers of wind. At higher levels 'razor wind' gales, mystic defenses like anti-magic shells, and lightning based magic are the order of the day. Wind is the most outrageously versatile of the Elements (it has quite decent stealth and many other uses), but like all Jacks of all Trades it is a master of none. Themes: Jack of All Trades, Speed, Permeation
WATER: Basic Water spells include blunt force water blasts, many restorative magics be it for conditions or hp, and a number slow ticking dots. High level spells include area of effect restorative spells, ice magic like ice bullets and ice shields, and some of the most powerful dots in the game. Water Magic is mostly geared towards support, containing plenty of healing spells and crowd control effects that keep monsters or players bound or frozen in place. Themes: Healing, Crowd Control, Cold, Clarity, Pressure
FIRE: Basic Fire spells include the traditional fireballs, intense heat flashes, and heat based debuffs and dots. More powerful fire effects include massive area of effect spells, the most powerful direct damage spells, and the summoning of creatures of flame. Fire Magic is mostly geared towards pure offense and offers little of anything else beyond the basics. Themes: Offense, Heat, Explosions, Destruction
EARTH: Basic Earth spells include mystically flung rocks, earthen barriers or spears, and long lasting defense buffs. Higher levels spells include powerful warding effects that can affect entire raids, manipulating metal for attack and defense, and generating earthquakes and fissues. Earth Magic is primarily defensive, focused on staggering or physically redirecting or blocking opponents, terrain advantages, and toughness. Themes: Defense, Crowd Control, Terrain, Geology
DARKNESS: Basic Darkness spells revolve around debuffing, using solidified darkness to attack and defend, and utility spells for things like communication, tracking, or hiding. Higher level effects allow instantaneous communication over long distances, use of powerful dark magics like curses or sacrifice, and enhanced travel speed under the cover of night. Darkness Magic is mainly focused on utility and the idea of sacrifice for impressive effects. Themes: Utility, Sacrifice, Debilitation, Chaos, Void, Nothingness.
ILLUSION: Illusion Magic lacks even basic attack abilities but has numerous effects to disorient and confuse others. High level Illusion magic can be game changing as the Illusions can take on a certain amount of reality, users can transform into their illusions, or change the very nature of where they are fighting. Illusion Magic is primarily supportive, focused almost purely on manipulating the senses over tangible effects - but some Illusions are themselves so powerful as to become momentarily real. Illusion spells are extremely useful for overcoming sensory issues and changing battlefield conditions in sideways and unpredictable directions. Themes: Stealth, Confusion, Deception, Transformation
SOUND: Basic Sound spells include deafening sound waves, mood altering magic such as lulling things to sleep, as well as intense sound blasts or walls of sound. Higher level sound magic can affect large crowds with these basic effects, create air shattering blasts of sound, or greatly enhancing the abilities of those they are allied with. Sound Magic is primarily supportive, focused on buffing allies with inspirational melodies and confusing enemies. Themes: Buffing, Debuffing, Crowd Control, Sonic onslaughts
LIGHT: Basic Light attacks include spears of holy light and punishing rays. Light magic's roughly balanced, but slightly favors magic defense and support, with offense mostly against spirits and undead. Themes: Spirits, Radiance, Anti-Undead, Magic Barriers.
HUD, Menu, Communications, Inventory
Much like an RL MMORPG, players have HUDs. Instead of looking at a screen for it, it overlays your actual vision. There's displays for HP, MP, buffs/debuffs in the top-left corner, which expands to show those of any party members when in a party. The far right side of one's view shows a customizable shortcut bar for different tasks like view guild status, equip a weapon, configure a Skill, bring up the magic words dictionary, and view local map data.
Focusing on particular players, objects, monsters, and other entities makes the system bring up further details in pop-up windows. These are very context sensitive and extremely informative, showing relevant information. Monsters show names (but not players, until they've introduced themselves or done something noteworthy to reveal their name, like challenge you in a duel), objects show stats (if your appraisal Skill's high enough), buildings show names, etc. All players and monsters have colored indicators above their heads, giving information about them in relationship to you (party, friend, guild member, neutral race, overwhelmingly powerful monster, etc.)
Striking downwards with the left hand's index and middle fingers squeezed together brings up the menu. The Menu is where almost everything important's done. It contains displays and configuration data for your character (skills, equipment, magic, etc), relevant party or guild info, community features like guilds, friend lists or current race politics, the map system, game settings and configurations, and more. Players can only see their own menus, unless another player uses a button to reveal theirs.
Private messages are the only form of long-distance instant communication officially speaking.
The in-game inventory can store pretty much anything you can pick up unless it's a monster, player, or other common sense 'this is not an item' situation. Provided you own it, that is. (ownerless items such as rocks on the ground are immediately marked as owned by you when picked up, while dropped items take 5 minutes to lose their ownership registration.) It's extremely intelligent when bringing things out - it knows to materialize items smartly, like putting a sword in its matching scabbard, and responds to gestures about where and how to materialize it, etc.
Crafting Skills are spread across every possible kind of item used in the game. Common ones Slash Weapon Forging (most swords), Thrust Weapon Forging (spears, rapiers), Blunt Weapon Forging (Hammers, maces, staves), Ranged Weapon Forging (Bows, Crossbows, throwing knives), Light Metal Armor Forging, Heavy Metal Armor Forging, Tailoring (clothing, sometimes protective but often just ornamental), Cooking (actually GOOD tasting food, some of which buffs) and so on. Craftmaster NPCs in towns teach these Skills, and also sell basic tools and supplies needed for starting crafting recipes.
Crafting requires many factors working together for best effect. Skill, tool quality, material quality, and (depending on the skill) workshop quality, and luck, all must come together for anything great to be had. This makes crafting a major investment in time and money, especially since the most successful crafters often dedicate over half of their Skill slots just to crafting. Just dabbling in it rarely gets anyone anywhere.
Using Smithing as an example, this article will attempt to explain roughly how crafting works.
John decides to be a smith, so he goes to learn Slash Weapon Forging to make some swords and knives to start off with. He wants to simply buy raw materials (ore, instead of ingots) and refine it himself, so he also takes Metal Refining. John can only afford a Portable Furnace and simple tools, good for lower quality metals and simply making knives and one-handed swords.
Selecting some Copper and Tin ores of low quality he bought from a miner, John brings up his Metal Refining in the Skills Menu and chooses to create 'Bronze Ingots,' and has a moment to pick some of the parameters of what quality metal he's going for - purity, hardness, and other qualities. At his low Skill level however, he only has a few Customization Points to spend on it. He places the Copper and Tin ores in the Portable Furnace and System Assist takes over, showing a progress bar. When it's complete, the Furnace opens to reveal his Bronze Ingot - cool enough to touch against all sense, but still likely steaming hot.
Now he has a Bronze Ingot. He can make a Dagger. This requires a strip of Leather for the grip, which he purchases from a Tanner player for a few Yrd. Bringing up his Portable Furnace (which doubles as a shitty anvil) again, he chooses to make a 'basic Dagger.' (Crafting is arranged by category, 'Dagger' is the option, 'Bronze Dagger' is just the result because he's using Bronze!) The material he's using is Bronze, low class but worthy enough for a newbie.
John picks his parameters by spending from his Customization Points. He wants this sword to focus on speed, requiring it to be light and thin. Durability suffers as a result, though! After he's decided the parameters, he selects 'Craft' in his crafting window and System Assist once again takes over his body. The progress bar begins again, as his body heats the ingot in the furnace using tongs, pulls it out, and starts hammering at it. The ingot glows after eight or so swings and the progress bar fills, the shape filling out and its final appearance decided somewhat randomly based on the chosen length and system. Shittastic quality metals like bronze appear generic… and uninteresting.
Later on, John has increased his Skill to 500-600! Spending several hundred thousand Col he purchases a tiny workshop with a waterwheel and barely enough room for shelving he similarly custom ordered from a carpenter player and equips a Water Wheel to the house using the home control menus.. luckily, this house is right on a river! This water wheeld rives the bellows of his new high quality forge. This new one's suitable to working on all kinds of higher grade materials! It's also hellaciously expensive, but that's what you get. On the other hand, John is now so high leveled in Slash Weapon Forging that if he went back and made a Dagger out of Bronze, his new pool of Customization Points lets him optimize the dagger to an even greater degree…
… but, even so, Bronze is a shitty metal compared to what he can use now, and he quickly hits the ceiling of what that metal can make. Using more high quality materials like Crystal, Adamantite and Mythril, he makes weapons with much more unique appearances and special names. On rare occasion the RNG creates something -especially- grand and high quality, little 'masterpieces.' (In SAO, Kirito's Dark Repulser is one such 'masterpiece.')
Clothes, Meals, everything works off of design blueprints that the players fill out with ingredients of their choice. A coat might be made of dragon leather or cotton but uses the same base design. A 'Stew' could be made with Vegetables or Meat for instance, but this is just determined by 'Main Ingredient' material slot and 'extra ingredient' slots. Advanced customization options exist for every type of Crafting Skill based on the Skill. Cooking gives control of ingredient ratios, for instance, which Asuna used to reproduce Soy Sauce with Aincrad ingredients.
Customization also includes magical enchantments, using extra items, materials, sigils, and all kinds of other add-ons to give special abilities to creations.
LEPRECHAUNS: Leprechauns have a much higher chance of creating stunning, high quality works, and also have access to more top-level designs, particularly when it comes to Ancient tier and similar areas. They have a bigger variety of enchantments and other options available during crafting, and have better chances overall at being awesome with it.
Repairing is much like crafting anew, though it uses a different Skill. Though not all items can be repaired (Food cannot, obviously) things like clothing, armor, weapons, and tools will eventually need it.
Repairing may require some materials, and special tools. It is not always represented in a fashion that would make sense, but usually tries to. For instance, grinding wheels may be used to sharpen and polish weapons while also repairing them as part of the animation.
High skills are needed to repair high quality/tier items.
Item Enhancement is very similar to crafting anew. Using the appropriate Skill for that kind of item, the Crafter reworks the item using more base materials and enhancement materials. The more and more an Item has been upgraded, up to its maximum possible attempts, the harder and harder it is to get it right again and add more points on. Enhancement Materials used in the effort offset the chance of failure greatly, but over time the cost of bringing a weapon to its full power may vastly outstrip the cost of getting it in the first place, so this often isn't worth it except for top tier gear - where the risk is even greater, on the other hand. For each attempt, one chosen parameter is increased at a time. As an example, for swords the available parameters are: Sharpness, Heaviness, Durability.
On Success, the item's name is appended with a +#, such as +2 if it has been successfully improved twice. Failure, however, drops an enhanced parameter by one, bottoming out at +0 (how it was originally.) Each item, too, can only undergo a set number of enhancement attempts, regardless of what it ends up with. If an item can only be enhanced 8 times, for instance, and it succeeds four times and fails four times, the net gain is 0 - it will forever be a base weapon, and that was a lot of time and materials wasted.
Crafting Materials are items like any other, but form an important part of the player economy. Some are gathered from 'node' like regions spread across Alfheim in many areas. Bottling water from mystic springs, harvesting wild fruits and vegetables and berries, diving into caves and mines to mine from nodes on the walls where the mineral ore's rich, these are all examples.
Others are acquired from quests, from shops (for lower quality ones anyways, used for grinding), and sometimes from hunting monsters. Monsters may drop anything from meat or bone to skin to horns and claws and stingers to just about any other body part.
Materials are not uniform in quality even among the same category. For instance, one vein of 'copper ore' may not have the same qualities as another. Not every patch of Apples has the same nutritional value - some are higher quality than others, or good for different recipes and different things.
The variations are endless, though they do tend to stick within certain ranges. The general properties and quality RANGE a certain kind of material can have is set, but any specific sample within it will vary. Rare and unique materials may have pre-set values or average much higher quality than lower quality parameters, and most store-bought materials are shitty.
Most Materials are used for straightforward crafting, but others - most of them monster drops - are used to increase the chances of Item Enhancement succeeding. In canon, Asuna needed about a dozen giant wasp stingers to improve her Wind Fleuret with a good chance of success.
As in the Crafting example, Skills are required to process and refine some kinds of materials. metal Ore must be refined and cast into ingots, Skin must be tanned and cured into leather, and so on. Overall, anything used for player equipment will have more costly and involved steps than something like cooking.
Combat, Damage, and Resurrection
Shifting from wandering around to stabbing something is literally as simple as just stabbing that thing. Everything has HP (except system fixtures such as buildings, trees, the ground, etc) and can be assaulted.
The damage calculation compares several things: race strength, impact speed, weapon power, elemental matchups, and how clean the hit was, against the victim's defense skills and armor, etc (an insufficient Strength + Parry combo, for instance, will negate some damage but not perfectly nullify it all.) Mundane attacks are parsed on the fly by the system, their type determined by the weapon's properties and the way it was used and struck between four types of attacks: Thrust, Slash, Pierce and Blunt, which have different effects at breaking different guards, armors, and monster types.
Digital bodies don't really react 'normally' when struck. While weak attacks might leave a weapon embedded in virtual flesh, strong ones to centers of mass often 'pass clean through,' leaving glowing gashes that soon fade in their wake - but inflict damage all the same. Extremities CAN be severed, inflicting a temporary Amputation status effect (the limb, hand, etc, will regrow in a couple of minutes.) Embedded weapons inflict Piercing damage over time.
For players, this damage isn't super painful - pain intensity's capped at a fairly low level. At worst it's just a momentary sharp buzz sensation, enough to communicate whether a hit's occured. NPCs sometimes ACT like they are in pain when struck, but who knows what it really means to them.
The damage engine is extremely advanced. Where things like the weapon damage formulas don't hold sway, it defaults to common sense laws of physics, analyzing kinetic energy, location of injury, severity of environmental hazard, or other factors into appropriate damage that's contested by applicable armor and other defensive measures.
Upon death, avatars become Remain Lights - pyres of colored flame specific to their race. These last for one minute, and during this time the player can still perceive events happening around them. Field resurrections through healing magic or items (World Tree Dew) must target a Remain Light. If no resurrection is performed, they respawn as soon as the timer runs out at their last chosen Save Crystal. A Save Crystal exists in all major towns, and players start out bound to their race's hometown Save Crystal. Changing bindings costs Yrd, however.
There is a Death Penalty, however. In general, Death Penalty resets all progress leveling a single skill back to nothing, with harsher penalties existing for using certain self-destruct moves and other circumstances. Beyond that, being felled in a PK battle nets the victor 30 percent of a player's value in non-equipment items and Yrd. In party vs party fights, a whole party must be wiped out for the victor to gain these spoils, but in the meantime any players killed still lose their items: they're transferred to surviving party members first.
Upon slaying monsters or other players, a window pops up showing gained Yrd, while loot is automatically placed in a player's inventory. In groups, distribution systems include all the normal methods that a group leader can decide upon - dice rolls, leader chooses, random distribution, and so on.
Many enemy skills and different situations can invite status effects. Positive ones are hard to come by, but sometimes are granted by equipment or eating foods, and tend to be simple stat bonuses, luck bonuses, resistance to a negative status effect, and so on. Negative ones include:
Delay - Slows the movements of the affected player.
Tumble - Disrupts the standing balance of the affected player and knocks them over.
Paralysis - Prevents movement of any sort.
Poison - HP slowly drains.
Hate - Attracts enemy attention, causing monsters to focus their attacks on whoever has this status effect. It's gained by being the person antagonizing the monster the most - typically its predominant attacker in a group.
Amputation - A negative status that prevents use of a limb (and keeps it from being rendered) caused specifically by limb loss (usually a result of taking a powerful sword skill to the arm, and so on.) Ends in 3 minutes, at which point the affected limb regenerates.
Originally a Sword Art Online exclusive, Alfheim Online recently incorporated Sword Skills, taking them all but wholesale as they were.
Sword Skills are basically weapon techniques, unlocked as a Weapon Skill increases. Using them involves adopting and holding a specific posture while wielding the right weapon. Do it right, the weapon will soon glow a color unique to the skill. Beginning the first motion of a Sword Skill launches it. At this point, SYSTEM ASSIST takes over controlling the avatar, triggering whatever amazingly fast and coordinated, powerful strike(s) the Sword Skill is supposed to do. Any other motion will cancel activation.
Once begun, Sword Skills are impossible to safely stop. Fighting the motion - or encountering an impossibly tough resistance (such as another Sword Skill) breaks the animation, inflicting a moment of stun time. After being used, Sword Skills need several seconds to a few minutes of cooldown before they can be used again - single strike attacks that form the bread and butter of attack styles rarely have any at all.
While SAO's Sword Skills were simple physical blows, Alfheim Online's implementation of Sword Skills are Elemental attacks, imbuing strikes with magical might to inflict flame damage, ice damage, wind damage, etc. Magic resistances can apply, although only the weapon and weapon skills are used for determing damage - you don't have to have any elemental magic at all to use a powerful Elemental Sword Skill to its fullest. Sword Skills have different balances of how much damage is caused by magic vs physical impact, such as 25 percent physical and 75 percent fire for one assault.
Despite the name, Sword Skills exist for all weapons (even martial arts, which is unarmed). Starting Sword Skills are very basic, such as thrusts or single slashes. Advanced ones may even reach around ten blows in a row!
Sword Skills can be browsed and studied in the menu, as well as enabled or disabled (if, say, you don't like a certain Sword Skill and its activation gets in your way.)
Original Sword Skills
The best part about Sword Skills is the newly introduced ORIGINAL SWORD SKILLS system. Players may opt to create their own signature techniques, though this is beyond difficult.
In theory, it's as simple as selecting to register a new attack, then performing the moves. However, the simple-seeming requirements for a valid skill are actually damned hard to manage. Those requirements are:
1) It must be unique. An OSS cannot be a rehash of an existing skill. The sheer variety of standard Sword Skills means that only combo attacks of 4+ strikes are all but assuredly unique.
2) It must be performed at great speed comparable to an actual Sword Skill.
3) The Skill must be balanced - not mechanically, but physically. The motions must be of sound footing and balance.
4) It must be given a unique name.
Requirements 1-3 combined makes registering a Sword Skill essentially require performing what is an otherwise impossible manuever WITHOUT the programmed System Assist that makes it possible. For one or two strikes (which isn't very valid design space) this is simply darned hard and a matter of endless repetition. For 4+, it's ludicrous, extremely difficult for even the best of players.
If the system accepts it though, the player gets to decide the elemental balance of the attack, and from then on can generate an endless number of GRIMOIRES, items that can teach the Sword Skill to others - if they so choose.
The Grand Quest
The centric quest of Alfheim online is to become a True Fairy, an ALF, with the power of unlimited flight and access to Light Magic. This is far from easy, but the rewards are well worth it.
The original quest before Ymir patched it was rather ridiculous. This is what it is now.
The Fairy Seals
The gate to Yggdrasil's grand elevator has space for 9 seals, Medallions the size of one's open palm bearing the emblem of one of the races.
These Seals are generated every time the Grand Quest is cleared and spread to a random member of each race. These individuals are randomly chosen, but only from those who are rather consistent players.
Bearers of Seals cannot benefit from race zone protections. Additionally…
Should a Seal Bearer log out for longer than 48 hours, the Seal will be removed from their inventory and randomly reassigned to another member of its race.
A Seal Bearer who spends 4 hours logged on while in a safe zone faces Seal reassignment.
If a Bearer's PK'd, any Seal in their possession immediately goes to the one who delivered the killing blow regardless of whether the Bearer's in a party or the PKer's party's looting preference.
One raid group (49 players) can undertake the quest by opening the elevator's gates using the seals, causing the doors to open up to a very different elevator than normal. In here, the Guardians of the World Tree assault players as they ascend the tree from within. Breaking the cloud layer and reaching the World Tree's heart puts a player beyond the range of attack. Everyone who breaks through the clouds has won their place as a True Fairy, and after a congratulatory presentation from some quest NPCs, the quest will reset, scattering the Seals all over again.
Ascension transforms the player into an ALF variant of their race. The most obvious benefit is infinite flight - wings never tire, so long as they're exposed to heavenly light. Imps still only get 10 minutes indoors, and still, nobody may fly in Jotunheim at all. ALF PC wings keep their original appearance, but glow with a filmy white luminescence.
Additionally, ALF players gain an extra, thirteenth Skill Slot for Light Magic. This special slot can ONLY be used for Light Magic. On ascension, if a PC already has Light Magic it will be moved to this slot. If they don't have it, they'll automatically learn it. ALF players discover that Light Magic has extra effects when combined with anything else, and they have a few more options than other players.
ALF status isn't really that much of a 'race change.' PCs are still considered to be their parent race for race politics and keep their basic benefits.
Seals often end up in the care of race leaders (see below) and circulated between their trusted followers on a regular basis to keep them from being randomly reassigned. Then, players who win those leaders' favor can join the groups that periodically make a run on the World Tree. In this way, the Race leaders can keep a friendly competition going while also forming an effective 'ruling council' of sorts. Player politics are a bit thing.
What kind of MMORPG would Alfheim Online be without a community to work within?
Friends, Guilds, Parties
Players who become friends can send private messages to one another, see when they're on and offline, etc.
Up to 7 players may participate in a party, and up to 7 parties (max 49 people) can enter a boss room at once. Raid group HUDs display aggregate average HPs and similar statistics.
Guilds are elaborate groupings of sometimes hundreds of players that can define their own politics, rank structure, uniforms, and dozens of other things. They're really quite the same as any other MMORPGs.
The Great Fairy War
Put simply, the player races are political and military entities at war with one another. Each Race elects a leader every so often, who's in charge of managing the race's treasury, tax rates on towns, policies of NPC guards and investments in defenses, and numerous other things, and defining the social structure beneath them. Some players, known as 'Renegades,' stay apart from their race's politics, while some others even end up stripped of their racial rights and exiled from their hometowns. Fairy politics can be vicious.
Races can take over towns and impose taxes in military conquests every so often, causing the power balance to change and granting access to more resources, and it's hardly an uncommon occurence on the borders between racial territories. Taking down another race's leader brings great rewards to the victors, essentially a ten day conquering of the entire territory combined with a massive pillaging of their treasury.
Crime in Alfheim
Crimes are offenses against other players that are within the rules of the game mechanics, but are nevertheless malicious, troublesome, disruptive, or harmful. The system works to prevent this. The Crime Prevention Code attempts to enforce a sense of ethics - for instance, preventing people from running around nude in public, and giving victims of sexual harassment the opportunity to alert GMs. Many lesser offenses will result in system warnings and possibly alert GMs. Since Crime Detection is left up to a Cardinal subroutine, it is very good at detecting what actions are and are not Crimes according to its parameters and recording them for review.
Aside from political shenanigans from the race conflict, player-based crime mostly doesn't exist. Looting and PK'ing is part of the game, for instance, and so Player Killers are not 'criminals' by default, unlike in Sword Art Online.
This doesn't mean that people won't think you're an asshole if you act like one, of course. It's never really considered more than a personal grievance if an instance of PVP conflict outside a town causes vendettas and the like. It's not a problem of the community, though races might decide to 'watch out for that infamous group of folk hunting our race, maybe we should pwn them and take their stuff.'
One particular is touching other players outside of battle. Harmless contact like fistbumps, high-fives, grabbing someone on the shoulder isn't really an issue (unless they're of the opposite gender - and due to the gender disparity of Alfheim Online, the system is more protective of female players) but it shouldn't need to be said what kind of contact will trigger a harassment warning - sexual harassment is an extreme no-no. The victim then gets the choice of whether or not to send a report. If yes, GMs are instantly alerted as the trouble ticket crops up. Players can also choose to add players to an ignore list so the system won't raise warnings about them.
Logging out, Rest Areas, and Capital Safe Zones
Logging out in the field is Soulless - meaning, the avatar remains manifested in Alfheim for several minutes before vanishing, helpless and thoroughly PKable. Certain areas are provided for logouts to be more convenient - known as rest areas, they tend to be inn rooms, rented bedrooms, etc, though certain rooms in dungeons and other locales are also considered them.
Within their capital city (such as Sylvain for Sylphs) a member of that respective race is invulnerable. Attacks are stopped by a purplish barrier - though it does let some physical force through inflicting a very disorienting knockback effect on the victim if the attacker's strong enough. Ordinary contact is fine, provided it's not enough to cause damage - in which case it's treated as an attack.
The only known way to drop protection is through dueling.
Monsters (unless they're pets) will not enter safe zones and treat players in them as though they don't exist. Pets enjoy the same protections as their owners.
Dueling can be initiated at any point, though it is often done in cities and other places of relative safety. One player may challenge another, though it must be accepted by the one so challenged, and in these circumstances, any system protection to HP (such as that given by Capital Cities) is overridden. At the same time, it's impossible for other players to directly interfere as long as the duel window remains open as both are protected against others.
Duels have three modes:
A) Normal Mode. Fight to the finish. Unused by any sane players nowadays, because reaching 0 HP will still kill them even in a duel. It is also possible to yield, though.
B) Time Limit Mode. Like the above, but with a time limit imposed - the winner will be whoever has more health at the end. Also mostly unused.
C) First Strike Mode. The duel ends as soon as someone's HP reaches the halfway point, or upon registering the first clean blow. Grazes and nicks will inflict damage, but do not end the duel unless enough is inflicted to lower HP below halfway.
Import Character - From SWORD ART ONLINE
Save data between Sword Art Online and Alfheim Online uses virtually the same format.
Ymir has given every Sword Art Online player the opportunity to convert their characters into Alfheim almost seamlessly. This works like so: after picking a Race, the following happens when using an imported account:
APPEARANCE: SAO players can keep their SAO appearances for free (retooled to race aesthetics such as hair color changing to red for Salamanders or blue for Undines,) allow the system to randomize, or pay for customization.
LEVELS AND STATS: Alfheim Online doesn't use Levels or Stats the way SAO did, its racial stats override them.
SKILLS: Save for a few cases where Skills were removed from Alfheim (particularly Unique Skills) all skills map 1:1, although their specific uses and effects in ALO differ here and there.
MAGIC: SAO does not have Magic, so all players start with race defaults if they have an open slot.
MONEY: Col directly converts to Yrd on a 1:1 scale. If you had 1 million Col, now you have 1 million Yrd.
ITEMS: Inventories do not transfer, although Pets do. All characters begin with newbie equipment.
Section Two B: Gun Gale Online
PLACEHOLDER! Are there any Sinon appers out there?
Section Three: The Reality
Setting and Geography
Sword Art Online-1's real world is modern Earth - a bit more modern than modern. When it unified it was 2024, but now it's almost 2026 Technology is several leaps and bounds ahead, with major advancements in fields like robotics, electronics, and neurology. The first advancement to really show promise and change the way people live is the newly conquered - though hardly mastered - field of Virtual Reality.
Beyond this difference, it is more or less identical to reality, save for differences in available fiction (no real source material, etc) universal to all Earths that enter the Multiverse.
SAO Case Victims Rescue Force and Aftermath
Kayaba Akihiko, development director and GM of Sword Art Online, distributed clear information regarding Sword Art Online victims to the whole world using all of his available methods to ensure that few players' lives were lost by outside interference. The NerveGear's extensive battery and a 2 hour game service disconnect grace period made hospital transference convenient. Nearly all Sword Art Online players were hospitalized shortly after the Death Game began, and treated as coma victims. They were fed and hydrated intravenuously, and all other bodily needs handled by the hospitals. All suffer from SEVERE muscle atrophy and are being rehabilitated by joint efforts between Japan's medical care and the Union.
Japan's government swiftly created what it calls the SAO Case Victims Rescue Force from volunteers from other divisions. However, their ability to actually help the players beyond organizing their hospitalization was quite limited. While Argus was sued straight into bankruptcy, and all of its assets taken over by RCT Progress, the actual SAO game servers were directly watched over by the Rescue Force and carefully studied… but they were unable to beat Kayaba Akihiko's stunning deployment of military-grade encryption backed by Cardinal's extensive processing power that made it impossible to hack. They deduced the 'public keys' for decryption, gaining access to system logs, but the private key and administrator accounts that would be used with it to gain control of the server eluded them.
Thankfully, with the crisis seemingly over, they have moved on to focusing on reparations. Most of the victims and/or their families have received a fairly generous settlement, and are being provided with mental care. For those of school age, Japan's government (with some help from interested and generous Union assistance) hastily assembled a special remedial school designed to accomodate for the psychological trauma that the SAO case has left most survivors with. Most suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, among other issues, and need plenty of time to deprogram themselves from their Aincrad habits and philosophies to re-enter society proper.
Although the government is technically aware of what players are PKers, as the case against Argus is considered settled trials cannot be held against individual PKers, though considerable animosity's held towards them where players in the school recognize them, and while it's been forbidden to reveal who was a PKer publically, all of them have been receiving CONSIDERABLE mental help. Who knows if it will be enough…
Publically and officially, the victims are being treated the utmost of care and most are expected to recover in time. Privately and unofficially, lots of people think that many victims are just bombs waiting to go off.
Kayaba Akihiko was discovered brainfried in a mountain cabin far from any civilization shortly after SAO was cleared and the protections on the system came down - and the person who claimed to have been forced to care for him, Koujiro Rinko, was cleared of charges due to being implanted with an explosive device she was told would detonate if she didn't go through with it. Close examination revealed that the device was actually incapable of exploding and quite inert, but she had no way to know that.
Section Four: The Multiverse
Though this fact is not public knowledge to SAO-1's real world and only recently discovered by governments (who are still studying this bizarre and dangerous phenomena while exploring relations with the Union,) every bit and byte of digital content hosted by SAO-1's real world maps directly to a portion of the Cyber Core. This region is not exactly physically accessible however - it's surrounded by enormous piles of dimensional turbulence and twisted space, making it nearly impossible to just up and walk into it. Even were one to do so, the vast majority of the content is not in a format that typical multiverse-goers can parse. The only regions with 'proper physics' in a fashion anyone can really use are the Virtual Reality zones, of which Alfheim Online's merely one out of thousands (though most definitely among the biggest. The majority are only a few rooms worth of data, or a small school, etc.)
Incredible luck (such as being displaced by the initial Unification or random happenstance - a dimensional disturbance afterwards) or advanced navigation powers (like the ability to open wormholes or teleport through crazy strange zones) are the only ways to travel in or out discovered so far.
Shortly after its discovery by the Union, specialized and secured warp gates were installed in a forgotten corner of one of the lower floors of Aincrad, allowing Elites and other authorized personnel passage.
When Unification struck, a handful of VRMMO players were displaced through the dimensional remap that placed the digital world in the Cyber Core. Of them, Kirito and Asuna were the first to establish contact with the Multiverse at large. Of the few Alfheim Online players, most think it was a random glitch and ended up respawning without realizing what they stumbled upon - and haven't found any way to repeat the process yet.
It's only recently become apparent just what they stumbled upon.
That this is possible amazes many - even some of the Union's top scientists are baffled at the forces that allow this - but Auric VRMMO players have demonstrated the capacity to support their avatars' existences beyond the realms that define the rules of their reality in the Cyber Core. The current theory explaining it is roughly this: Because of all the time spent invested in building their virtual identities, the player's own self-image changes to incorporate the avatar, and they build up a powerful auric resonance with it. One property of the mysterious 'Aura' is that individuals with an intense Auric field - the Elites - carry some of their own reality with them. This is what allows SAO-1's Elites to travel the Multiverse. This phenomenon has been dubbed 'Wander Mode.' If a non-Elite player attempts Wander Mode, they're in for a surprise: their avatars are struck with effectively infinite environmental damage, and forced to respawn.
SAO-1's real world's governments have discovered and begun studying this abnormal property, but efforts are being undertaken to cover it up (with plenty secretly wanting to exploit it.) Everyone who's able to manifest an avatar's watched by local governments for many reasons.
Sadly this means that Elite players will get in boatloads of trouble for wandering around the real world. Inevitably, the cat will get out of the bag, and the governments know this, but for now it's contained and being studied.
Currently, only Japan's government has access to the database of which player name maps to what real person from Sword Art Online, and Alfheim Online's account database is BEYOND secure. As such, Union SAO-1 Players are encouraged to use their handles as codenames to protect their real identities, as this knowledge could put their real bodies in serious danger.
Foreigners in VRMMOs
Denizens of the Multiverse can enter VRMMOs physically.
By default, Cardinal doesn't really recognize them as players. They are registered as non-system-controlled autonomic entities (which really shouldn't BE there, but it doesn't have a clue what to make of them,) and can utilize environmental advantages and mechanisms (such as Teleport Gates and Safe Zones), engage in fights against monsters and bosses, and so on (without an inventory,) but that's about it. The system can only track their progress and data so much.
However, they retain all of their normal powers and abilities, which the system attempts to parse as well as it can when it interacts with monsters and the like.
NOTE: While this is still -possible,- it is heavily discouraged as Alfheim Online is now a professionally run game with no need for crazy, gamebreaking heroics. Generally speaking, of course…
On entry, an individual's presented with a menu window asking them to create an account. They'll then have to pick a Fairy Race to match their account name. Once this is done, the person'll be able to use the menu's basic functions (communication, partying, inventory, etc) and fly using the Assist Controller.
Damage is real and painful, but slightly blunted by the system. Such 'players' do have Health meters, and the system seems capable of detecting when they're in mortal danger and shunting them into the Remain Light form when they 'die.' 'Resurrection' brings with it a wave of healing, but this tends to take the wind out of anyone who experiences it.
The created account is fully valid if logged into normally (pending a subscription, which doesn't apply when 'walking in'), though Skills don't increase while it's being used 'personally.' Equipment can be used regardless of Skills or 'stats,' and the inventory functions for objects brought into the multiverse through a form of pseudo-hammerspace (which always ejects its items out after a player who's leaving if they aren't retrieved, and cannot be used to steal items even if admin wanted to.)
Due to the weird reality bleed that's brought the digital world to the Cyber Core, most power and physics between digital and normal natures seem to be interchangeable and capable of affecting each other. For instance, an Undine healer from Alfheim's healing spells can heal someone in reality's broken arm, and a White Mage's healing magic can restore the HP of a Sword Art Online player.
While in Wander Mode, avatars are constructed not just from their digital data, but also the self-images of the players behind them. This apparently allows for a great deal of strange phenomena which doesn't make a lot of sense seperated from the game logic. For instance, avatars can consume food items or actual food, and the latter's handled pretty much the same as eating food in-game would be - never mind the lack of an actual programmed digestive system or any excretory needs.
Certain Skills can accomplish strange things independent of System Assist or game calculations - for instance, equipment appraisal might not be able to actually display specific stats of foreign weapon, but the Appraiser might glean an instinctive impression of its abilities just the same when using the Skill. Smithing can still construct normal things out of actual metal with a bit of practice to work out the different feels. Everything constructed from Skills however, counts as a digital item native to the respective game and not a real one. 'Taunt' Skills can pressure targets mentally to draw aggressive attention - with the appropriate OOC consent, of course.
It's best not to think about the details too much.
As it does many worlds, Unification has thrown the entire world into a social explosion. Thankfully, public panic is minimal. Sure, there's the occasional riots, weird conspiracy theories causing massive piles of confusion, and people who aren't paying any attention, don't care, or just plain don't get it. The governments do care, however, and are doing their utmost to maintain order. Save for some particularly unsavory third world countries and a few oddball nations however, none are denying the Multiverse's existence. Members of the United Nations - and the UN in general - are exploring the inevitability and ramifications of long-term Union relations, and are engaged in hashing out the details.
Japan's government is currently the only one with Union ties with the SAO situation - seeing as it's run by a Japanese company and the vast majority of its victims are Japanese citizens. A man named Kikuoka Seijurou (a member of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Technology, Second Seperated Advanced Network Division - aka the Virtual Division) has been appointed main spokesperson and representative of Union / SAO Case Victims Rescue Force relations.
Other nations' governments, and a few particularly unique individuals have also discovered the digital mapping effect into the Cyber Core and are engaging in other secret (and in other cases, not-so-secret, but still regarded as a bit hokey, and too much to believe on top of normal Unification - which is already disorienting) projects.
Now, with actual access to the virtual world of Aincrad and contact with the Union and access through the Union's established warp gates, a few particularly brave and stealthy members of the SAO Case Victims Rescue Force are secretly snooping around to get a better feel for what's going on, though most are quite happy to leave it up to the Union's own task force that seems to be assembling mostly out of Elites. For the moment - a period which may not last more than a few months, most likely - they are studying the situation and working to figure out how to best make use of this in helping the players - and their nation - without causing the massive social hoobaloo that they're sure will erupt if news got out that just anyone could waltz in (while only a few can just waltz out.)
Section Five: OOC Considerations and Concerns.
Hacking Alfheim Online from within it is generally impossible. At the minimum, it requires GM access, access to a control console and similar. Externally, Alfheim Online's encryption is comparable to that what banks use, protecting its connections, transactional data, and player database, and as it is technically hosted outside of the normal space time continuum by the Noble Horrorterrors (see Homestuck-1) hacking it really just doesn't work. Talk to cast if you wanna do anything like this.
As always with cast rooms and areas, please do not cause mass chaos ICly without first consulting with active cast members. Things in Aincrad or Alfheim don't necessarily work the way you think and the cast will have to accommodate how it affects the playerbase socially, and so on.
On Capital City protection and the Punching Principle
Casually inflicting or suffering harm to characters protected by their race's city effect is basically impossible (unless they have been stripped of their rights and exiled): the rules of the local reality simply disallow 'injury.' Though Auric individuals can overcome this through the punching principle given by their Aura, the shield is still incredibly tanky and can absorb several intense attacks before local reality's rules get worn down to allow harm through.
OOC note: Please don't abuse Protection for shenanigans that will make people OOCly mad.
While it's possible to inflict cosmetic damage to the landscape (cracks, digging, chopping down trees and so on) it is not possible to create long-lasting changes (such as creating a massive volcano from nowhere, or a crater the size of a city block.) When such damage happens, Cardinal will get around to repairing it.
Buildings, doors, mountains, and so on are 'Immortal Objects' with system protection too, and cannot normally sustain damage or be moved. While overwhelmingly powerful attacks from Elites may circumvent this, Cardinal will also replace these (and be much faster at doing so, and may consider it an assault against the system's integrity.)
Clarification on Monsters and Players Threat Level
Most of the monsters and players are not considered Elites in any sense of the word. They have stats, certainly, but no Aura. In a direct contention with an Elite, they will probably lose. An extensive analysis by Cardinal would probably uncover irregularities in such an event, but there's not much it can really do about this. Major Boss creatures and a small handful of players, of course, prove an exception to this: they do have Aura as any Elites do (though where monsters are concerned, only a few of the toughest bosses can pose a threat to heavy hitters of the Multiverse). Elite natives generally APPEAR to fit within the limits of the system and rarely invoke errors, but things have gotten a bit screwy since Unification… so mileage can vary.
Mecha and Giants
They have plenty of room to move around outdoors, though some tunnels and all dungeons will prove problematic. Also the fact that many players will think they're bosses with phat loot.
FullDive works by interfacing with the human nervous system. The technology expects certain structures to the brains it's interfacing with, and certain reactions in specified areas to specific stimuli in order to function. It was never designed for alien physiology, which means many non-human races will be shit out of luck if they try to use it. For the vast majority of 'alien' types of races, it will simply fail to establish a brain link and error out. For a rare few, it might create a link that gets green lighted but ends up being strange or utterly bogus when subtler parts of differing brain function come to light.
Races similar to humans in body shape and behavior (especially those capable of interbreeding) stand a very good chance of being able to use it more or less fine. (For example: Saiyans, certain kinds of Elves, Star Trek-style aliens, etc.)
The Superfactions are capable of creating 'converters/adapters' that would let unusual races enter FullDive, if really needed, but this would also require a custom FullDive rig.
Foreigners and Wander Mode
There is nothing really stopping anyone from getting ahold of an AmuSphere and starting up a new Alfheim Online account. However, non-native VRMMO players have it much harder if they want to use Wander Mode.
ICly, this requires the time and effort for serious character development - because Wander Mode depends on a powerful self-image incorporating one's online existence as an integral part of oneself, a level of dedication and belief that doesn't come easy to casual players.
OOCly, it requires an upgrade app.
Collaborative Nature of Theme
This page will be updated as new circumstances and concerns arise, to maintain cohesion in the Multiverse. Additionally, while it follows the straightforward story of Sword Art Online, active cast can collaborate to hash out things that might have happened or not happened, or happened differently, to make way for new developments or past developments - this is particularly helpful to the applicants of OCs who might wish to have ties to events. Of course, post unification, all future developments are going to be very different than what happens in canon… though this is normal for the Multiverse, it bears noting that this theme will be very different from normal canon due its special nature of making the virtual into reality far beyond what the official canon ever does.