swordartonline-alfheim

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.

Section One: The Technology

FullDive

Created by Argus, FullDive technology overrides signals the brain uses to control the body and senses to immerse a user in a complete virtual environment, using intricate software to render sensory feedback and control the virtual world. The depth of this experience is limited by two things: the precision of the hardware's rendering and the programming skill used to make the interface - whichever is worse. Generally, all FullDive technology is interchangeable and compatible, losing only certain features or sensations (which may or may not have even been programmed into the software, so…)

Entering FullDive is safe, though bodily needs are still a problem - malnourishment, dehydration, exercise, and excretory needs are all an issue that normally forces regular logging out - at least, if someone doesn't want to accidentally seriously maim or even kill themselves (with the seriously irresponsible, who forget to return to reality and nourish themselves, it can happen.) While in FullDive, a user has no control whatsoever of their body, although autonomic functions such as breathing and other physiological responses - stress, relaxation, and so on - continue as normal.

Since the user cannot move their body, logging out must be done within the software, or the FullDive hardware removed or disabled by external influences. In the latter case, the experience is so jarring it can induce vertigo and nausea when the sensation shift is drastic enough. (For instance, if it's pulled off in the middle of a terminal velocity fall…)

This technology has phenomenal potential in practically every walk of life - the miracles that it can do in restoring sight to the blind, by entering a FullDive and sending sight data directly to the brain instead of relying on a damaged eye or optic nerve, as an example, are pretty hard to ignore, as is the ability to override a person's sense of pain in place of dangerous and delicate anesthetization of patients undergoing surgery. It has enormous other uses for training, simulations, office productivity, VR commuting… the list is enormous.

As a note, virtual reality in this theme cannot kill directly. FullDive is only an alternate way to control a computer program and receive sensations. There is nothing like 'I was lead to believe I died in virtual reality, and this means I'm dead.' However, VR sensations can have consequences. The body's autonomous functions still respond to mental and emotional states, so intense pain can cause delirious shock, experiences can lead into actual panic attacks, too much excitement could induce a heart attack in someone who was particularly at risk of such to begin with, etc.

NerveGear

The first generation of commercially-available FullDive Technology, the rather bulky and heavy NerveGear, made by Argus, has become the prison of every Sword Art Online player. It has a considerable battery life, a powerful CPU, high-powered transmitter and receiver for the brain connection, a huge internal flash memory for storing local data, and support for disk and flash-cartridge based media to run programs from. It also supports rudimentary emotional detection.

The NerveGear's a thick helmet rife with angles and facets, heavy on the top and with a locking clasp under the chin.

NerveGear is no longer produced or sold anywhere in the world due to the infamous Sword Art Online incident, in which they were turned into deathtraps. Many of those belonging to those claimed by the SAO tragedy were destroyed or hoarded away by the government, and survivors often ditched theirs. They are, however, much more immersive in FullDive than the leaner AmuSphere.

AmuSphere

Created by RCT Progress after it bought out all of the bankrupt Argus' assets, AmuSphere saved FullDive technology from being sealed away like a demon and is fully compatible with all NerveGear software. Slimmer and lighter, with all of its critical equipment packed into a space akin to thick goggles and headband, AmuSphere promises its user - and delivers on that promise - absolute safety.

Less CPU power makes its rendering engine slightly less immersive than NerveGear, but far more energy-efficient. The brain wave interface hardware uses a much lower frequency and lower-powered transmitter, resulting in slight loss of immersion (bits of sensory information from the real world can overlap into the FullDive experience, for instance) but ensuring that the user's brain is far safer - no matter what sabotage is attempted, AmuSpheres don't have the hardware to directly harm a user.

It also lacks NerveGear's broad range ability to access and modify brain waves in 'unnecessary ways.' It is only capable of interfacing with the senses and the body's motor controls, unlike NerveGear which has proven able to perform wide and unfettered read/write of brain activity all across the board with the right modifications.

Beyond this, sensors on the AmuSphere continuously monitor the user's vital signs, watching for abnormal heartbeats and similar changes that could mean the user's entering an unhealthy physical or mental state such as a panic attack, and will forcibly terminate FullDive if certain parameters are exceeded. If jostled or otherwise pushed about, the AmuSphere overrides the FullDive experience by showing an alarm sign in the user's vision and a beep that alerts them to IRL activity.

The AmuSphere is commercially available and about as expensive as a cheap computer or expensive gaming console.

OOC NOTE: Anyone with the tech knowledge can tear these apart and validate these designs. AmuSphere is SAFE. It cannot HURT ANYONE, no matter what. (Your experiences in VR may have psychological and potentially physiological side effects due to stress and the like, but it CANNOT hurt you.)

MediCuboid

Created at roughly the same time as AmuSphere by Koujirou Rinko on government and medical funding, 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.

The MediCuboid is a complete bed designed to be convenient in accomodating life support and surgery as needed, with FullDive equipment provided via a helmet and equipment connected to the entire spinal cord. It is the most completely immersive and responsive of the three known FullDive-capable devices, and offers incredible response times between neural activity and feedback. The FullDive's nerve interference equipment provides medical staff with some level of control over the user's body, granting the ability to block out pain reception, regulate certain biological functions, and perhaps most intriguingly: offer the terminally ill and bedridden some degree of freedom by letting them explore Cyberspace and interact with reality through cameras, robotics, and other devices able to interface with FullDive software. Or play VRMMOs or attend virtual school, etc.

Very few units exist compared to AmuSphere, and they're all possessed by a few specific hospitals and government projects.

'Kanto Bootleg' NerveGear

A customized NerveGear produced by Union R&D in a project headed by Nathan Hall and Amanda o'Connell, and with consultation from Kirigaya Kazuto (Kirito), 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.

It is identical to the NerveGear in most ways, but the design isn't quite as bulky, and it has several overrides in place to prevent it from being used as a death trap. Users can specify words or motions that the device will listen to, and performing those causes it to release the FullDive Link while faking an idle signal to the server, remaining connected indefinitely.

This device is available only to the Union and RATH Inc. Precious few exist.

Cardinal AI

Though few know it, VRMMO's are managed by an AI called CARDINAL. It's a hierarchially arranged, tiered organization of different functions and routines maintained by a central directive watched over by two programs running error checking on each other - which are themselves controlled by human administrators as much or as little as such admins desire.

Cardinal's deeply integrated into the game engine itself. Its sub-systems maintain every aspect of the game's operation, including rendering sense data, controlling monster spawning rates and adjusting their scripts, repairing damage to the virtual world and correcting detected bugs and inconsistencies, etc. It manages the NPC economy, ensuring prices do not become wildly unbalanced from inflation, it alters drop rates and controls all kinds of different elements. It creates random and global event quests, it detects cheats, hacks, exploits, and in general attempts to maintain the game's coherence based on highly advanced heuristics routines and operational models that make it aware of what the game OUGHT to optimally be.

Cardinal strictly follows its directives, and does not interact directly with players - it is a completely detached and amoral force of digital law.

Section Two: 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 alongside the improved FullDive device, AmuSphere, although NerveGear can run it fine.

Due to current worries about VR experiences warping RL perceptions, player genders are fixed - a male player will have a male avatar, a female player will have a female avatar, and the system can identify which is which with almost perfect accuracy via brainwaves. Avatar appearances are randomized on creation, with customization available for a small fee. No avatars will ever be spectacularly tall or fat or tiny or otherwise odd - the system will only create avatars that could be… well, respectable-looking people in a world full of Fairies. They also usually roughly match the player's overall build to ease getting used to controlling it.

Setting and Geography

Alfheim, or 'Elf Home,' is the land of the fairies, a fantasy world patterned after ancient myths and folklore (particularly European) but most strongly inspired by Norse Mythology with a world built around the world tree 'Yggdrasil.' 9 Fairy Races inhabit the simply massive island-continent of Alfheim, one that can take several days to cross even with fairy flight. Their homelands are all equidistant from the neutral city of Aarun at the World Tree's roots. Aarun is directly surrounded by plains, small forests, and flatlands that lead into valleys and mountain tunnels. This mountain range seperates Aarun territory from all of the 9 other territories.

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.

It's said that at the very top of the World Tree one can find a glorious city in the clouds where the lofty Fairy King Oberon rules from… but none have yet seen it.

NPCs

NPCs come in all shapes and sizes. They fill the roles of many day to day mundane needs of the world, operating shops and offering basic services. What they sell is generally low-grade and simple however - Player industry skills such as Cooking, Smithing, and Woodcraft are the only way to get really good stuff (including food) with the occasional exception of monster drops and quest rewards.

Most NPCs have basic personalities that only differ a bit here and there, as they are 'extras' in the world. Some individuals are more unique, with pronounced characterization, however. Cardinal handles their dialogue when it needs to change and to give some variety (based on season, or global events, or recent activities around town,) but it's easy enough to tell someone is an NPC because of a robotic thought process and scripted responses to certain events. (that, and they do not have a Player Indicator.) Interaction is very minimal.

They will often respond to being addressed or look around but only a few key words or phrases will initiate a (very limited) conversation, for all their expressiveness and eloquence within their scripts seems genuine. Cardinal parses a player's speech and rarely cares about politeness (or lack thereof) compared to overall content, so replying 'Yes' to a question isn't likely to get a difference response from 'Sure, that's fine.' NPCs offering Quests will show a yellow exclamation mark above their heads where a Player Indicator would normally be. 'Is something troubling you?' is a pretty standard way to initiate quests.

If an NPC doesn't understand what it hears, it will give a sign that this is so - such as asking for clarification, giving a blank look, or rambling about something idly. NPCs Cardinal is managing directly for major events are more likely to respond more intelligently, as the system struggles to account for unexpected player responses. On certain occasion, NPCs will even begin a conversation on their own if someone says certain things around them but not necessarily AT them. It's best not to underestimate NPCs.

In general, NPCs can tell when they are being addressed 'in character' (rude, polite, or not, they don't mind) compared to if someone is rambling about things that have nothing to do with quests, the NPC's 'life,' the story, etc. They generally will ignore people rambling about their real lives, system mechanics, and so on.

Outside of certain quest ones that have an HP meter (darned escort missions! … or villages under assault by monsters…), generally NPCs cannot be harmed (and even if they are somehow destroyed or lost, Cardinal will respawn them or design a new one to take up their role.) They may not be removed from their given areas, and a player who attempts to do so will be repulsed from them by a harmless zap and given an error message warning about screwing with the system.

Quests and Events

Alfheim is full of quests - tasks and adventures that can lead to major rewards for players undertaking them…. rewards such as Yurd and rare items. A few happen because of being pre-programmed and majorly designed into the system, but the majority - such as daily quests - are generated by Cardinal AI. For this reason, Alfheim has an infinite amount of quests that vary all the time, and never runs out. It generates new items and rewards on its own discretion at the same time for these quests. Some quests, however, are repeatable by the same or other players, simply to make certain things available (like particular quest rewards.)

Most are fetch or Collection quests, such as gathering monster loot, defending areas against an invasion of spawning monsters that will happen at a certain time, sending messages between NPCs, carrying packages, and doing all sorts of other odd small jobs.

Cardinal is also aware of real world events and news, and often makes quests that parody or references them while respecting the themes of the mythological boundaries it has been programmed to stay within… although there are occasionally some really weird oddities, like elimination quests for gangs of chainsaw-wielding ogres. It also likes to chain quests together, and evaluate events that have changed the situation around the town. For instance, if a village was full of 'eradicate these pesky monster' type quests and all of them were cleared, it will eventually shift the context of what's wrong around the village. If a lot of quests to fend off monster attacks failed, the quests will be based around gathering supplies to repair the town with, curing the victims of a sickness that spread afterwards, etc.

Finally, certain events happen at timed moments, generally holidays that result in comical boss fights and strange cultural references. While Cardinal does have some guidelines, and attempts to tell a story where it can, it's not very cohesive about it… at least, its full potential is not being explored in Aincrad.

Quests are tracked in the in-game menus, thankfully. Each player has a record of every quest, past and ongoing, they have ever undertaken, though searching through the oldest and least important can be a hassle.

Player Housing, Economy, and Amenities

Though players don't gain any real nourishment and rarely any mechanical benefits from food and drink in ALO, they grow hungry and thirsty - and these feelings are a terrible distraction, while good food can be a great way to relax! Thankfully, towns, cities, and even quests are good sources of such - though it's not always the best. There are more expensive NPC-run restaurants and the like, of course, and some of them do have amazing or unique things. However, as a general rule, nothing's quite as good as high-level player Cooking efforts. (Also, though there are 'alcoholic' drinks, they only trigger mild and pleasant buzzy feelings for several minutes and have no further side-effects. No other mind-altering 'drugs' exist, things like a dizziness-inflicting poison aside.) Avatars can eat as much as their player wants to, though stuffing oneself invites uncomfortable bloated feelings until eating more is a sickening prospect for most sane people. Thankfully, they don't get fat, nor can the real bodies.

While players can theoretically (but almost never) ignore hunger pangs, sleep is an absoute necessity. To their brain, virtual effort and information is the same as real effort and information, so players grow tired just as normal. Sleep cannot be forced upon a player by FullDive, but it can simulate very comfy beds, and trigger a wake-up via alarms, although AmuSphere users (most every user) are automatically disconnected if the AmuSphere detects unconsciousness.

Each city usually has several buildings that are clearly marked 'Inns,' though they may also be other things at the same time (such as a 'tavern.') NPCs allow the renting of rooms for variable amounts of time, and once rented the room will only allow in the renter or those the renter allows (flags can be changed to allow 'specific person,' 'all friends EXCEPT X,' 'all guildmates except Y,' or similar arrangements,) and sound doesn't travel across the door or walls unless someone with an exceptionally well-leveled Listening skill attempts to eavesdrop - or someone knocks to address the occupant.

Some NPC houses in the boonies or in towns can be rented out for small durations for cheap, and may be even more luxurious than an inn room. For instance, the second floor of a farmhouse that's loaded with fresh milk and has a private bathroom. (Complete with a toilet players will never need to use because players only need that in reality.) Players do not sweat (except as a cosmetic display for detected exhaustion, panting, etc) and do not stink (although they have a scent presence,) thus they do not need to bathe. Still, some like to, even if FullDive doesn't deal with a fully liquid environment well and it feels different.

Players can purchase existing buildings (or use NPC realtor and construction agencies to erect a house in an unused building space, choosing from available templates) for a steep price, but once owned the player can furnish them however they wish. (Furniture of all kinds is available through player crafting and vendors.) Each town will usually have plenty to choose from. Business-inclined players like to set up their own shops, restaurants, auction houses, smithies, and even news publishers, as the heavy duty crafting stations (ovens, smith's forge, power loom, etc) can only be deployed in such places. With enough Yurd, pretty much anything's possible. Enormous buildings like castles and fortresses are available here and there, and are used as Guild Halls for the Guilds with the finances to keep them up. Houses require upkeep in Yurd payments, however, and successive failure to pay will remove ownership.

Player economy is key in Alfheim Online. Because there are hundreds of potential professions, anything important requires player handling. Come up across a fancy piece of loot? You won't know its full details until someone with the right appraisal skill has been used to investigate it and unveil its secrets. Need a specific kind of weapon made? A player smithy is the best place to go. A Guild wants to spread news through town? They'd better hire a player with the right publishing skills to create posters and flyers to distribute news with, or hire criers. The crafters need materials that can only be Collected in the fields, however, everything from fish to minerals to logging to exotic bee stingers… so more professions exist to support these.

But how are you to make sure they find what they're looking for, and know what's in demand? Players organize into crafter guilds and take over certain streets to use as marketplaces and make their own pseudo-Quests to engage in trade. In short: the in-game economy and society is almost as elaborate as one in reality, but it has a veneer of a more medieval or renaiisance lifestyle instead of a modern one, cultural innovations of the players aside.

Yurd is gained primarily through slaying monsters and completing quests. It can sometimes be found in chests and laying around in dungeons in similar containers. Players can also sell items and loot to NPC vendors for some Yurd, but it will be far below the market price.

Monsters

Monsters spawn in the fields outside cities in all shapes, sizes, and behaviors. Some are aggressively hostile - they will engage anyone they detect through the senses they use. (Some use only sight, some use scent, some hearing, or combinations. Stealth Skill only covers sight!) Others roam around and act mostly like animals of greatly varying indifference or skittishness. The more robust of these are meant to be fought as enemies, the less robust ones hunted for meats, skins, and similar Crafting needs, and provide variety atmosphere to the virtual ecology.

Monsters are rendered with exceptional detail and act much as one might imagine a monster or angry animal would - they snarl threateningly, act on AI-driven cunning that adapts to a player's patterns, and possesses no fear, no survival instinct, and most importantly, no mercy once a fight starts. They will continue to fight until their HP reaches 0 and they are destroyed, or all their targets have been annihilated or gotten far enough away that it gives up a chase. They will not engage players they cannot reach, however, and if a monster is assaulted without any way to get to its attacker (and they can be quite creative when pressed) they will usually run away. (Cardinal watches for players exploiting such helpless monsters, and will introduce changes within a few days of such behavior beginning in an area to negate the 'unfair' advantage.)

Monsters do behave somewhat predictably, and are not truly sapient. They follow elaborate situational scripts and algorithms that choose an action most appropriate for the situation with some small degree of randomness. For instance, aside the rare area attack they will focus wholeheartedly on the player who's accrued the highest 'hatred' value - this is usually the one who's dealt them the most damage or used the most Hate-mongering Skills to taunt them (these Skills are often triggered by taunting the beast or yelling at it, which the Speech engine uses to trigger the skill.)

They may also have more patterns, such as a 30 percent chance to use a certain skill if it's surrounded, which raises to 80 percent if their health hits the red zone, or a one hundred percent chance to use a certain attack rush-in-and-attack Sword Skill if their opponent is about 5 meters away. Their eyes will almost always look straight at who and where they're going to attack moments before they do. Most will adapt to their opponents, emphasizing certain skills and attack rates over others. Most party groups exploit this last tendency by rapidly switching between members using different weapons and styles to strain the monster's AI and create extra openings. (This is called 'Switching out.')

Of course, even if they are defeated, they will eventually respawn in the same general area.

Cardinal keeps an eye on overall hunting of one monster location over another. Each region can be 'exhausted' of its supply of respawns from overhunting, at which point creatures will rarely spawn there for a week or so until Cardinal deems the population has recovered.

Dungeons

Each Alfheim region has several dungeons. These are usually castles, caves, and similar closed-in areas, though occasionally can be open fields. Besides coming across an ominous-looking cave entrance or massive door in the side of a cliff, dungeons aren't always clearly marked as such. However, they all share a few things in common. Within a dungeon, private messages are cut off. They're also usually narrow, and have labyrinthian layouts full of puzzles, traps, and monsters, and have incredible treasures waiting at the end. The big ones may also have rest areas in rooms just slightly off the beaten path for players to recuperate or log out in.

Dungeons are deathtraps for the unwary. That said, they're the most lucrative haunts of prepared parties - or, for the tougher dungeons, entire raid groups.

Bosses

Bosses are special monsters usually, but not always, found deep within dungeons, waiting within a certain zone that they will not leave - generally speaking, this is a room or chamber and instantly recognizably such. Bosses are titanic monsters with dozens, hundreds, even thousands of times the HP of the average monster… far too much to topple without intense study and preparations… and even with such knowledge and preparations, they're usually suicide to solo. (even if a single, highly-skilled player could hold them off, a single mistake could be disastrous for them.) They may be protected by infinitely respawning special monster underlings, have unique weapons and Sword Skills of incredible power or that use different animations to throw off easy recognition and countering, or special powers and status affect attacks, and change patterns or abilities several times during the fight… or even all of these things at once.

Even high-leveled parties tend to shy away from bosses they're many times superior to in level, simply because of how risky they are. To absolutely ensure no deaths, Raid Groups (see below) are necessary.

On the other hand, whoever defeats a boss enjoys oodles of Yurd, experience, and loot. Whoever gets the final blow specifically, gets the 'Last Attack' bonus - a unique item just for them.

Stats and Skill Slots

Unlike many MMORPGs, Alfheim Online ditches the common experience and level system for base character capabilities in favor of an effort-based stat-growth system where said stats, such as Strength and Agility are entirely hidden from the player. Avatars grow stronger over time as they push themselves, and while starting build from randomization determines the starting stat layout big and meaty people can become insanely fast, and thin and wirey people can grow insanely strong.

HP and MP (mana points) increase similarly but even more slowly. Alfheim Online is a game that focuses heavily on player skill and reflexes, rather than numbers.

Beyond this, characters are graded by Skills. Skills cover competencies beyond basic aptitudes. They run an insane gamut of fantasy roles, from crafting to combat, everything from one handed swords to newspaper production. Hundreds of skills exist, so many that listing them all is impossible. Skills are rarely generic— weapon skills cover one specific TYPE of weapon (straight sword, curved sword, katana, flail, longbow, spear, bastard sword, etc) while smithing skills cover a specific TYPE of equipment arranged by MATERIAL (blunt weapon forging, slashing weapon forging, bowyer.)

All begin with 12 Skill Slots, with the top filled by One Handed Sword at 1. More initial Skills can be Trained from with the Menu, but others must be gained from Trainer NPCs, quests, or random chance (Katana has been known to appear from using Curved Sword, albeit rarely, as an example.)

Skills start at 1 and max out at 1000, where they gain a "Mastered" bonus. They increase through use, whatever the relevant use of that Skill may be, proportionate to the difficulty of the effort.

Many Skills' effects can be toggled or must be invoked (like Hiding.) Others are passive and are always active (such as 'Extended Weight Limit.')

Skills can be deleted/forgotten using the menu, clearing them out to make room for a new one - most Skills. A few quest-gained ones such as Martial Arts cannot be deleted.

Canon Skills

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>
<Katana> - can only be learned through grinding <One Handed Curved Blade>, chance of it proccing is low.
<Two Handed Assault Spear>
<Two Handed Heavy Axe>
<Martial Arts> - learned from quest trainer on 2nd Floor. Skill cannot be deleted once learned.
<Hand-to-Hand Combat>
<Knife Throwing>
<Boomerang>
<Chakram>
<Longbow>

ARMOR SKILLS- Allows equipping of various kinds of equipment, increasing protection offered and reducing encumbrance.
<Leather Equipment>
<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>
<Sewing>
<Cooking>
<Medicine Mixing> - Also covers poisons.

REFINING SKILLS- used to refine and process raw materials gathered in the field into base materials for crafting.
<Metal Refining>
(There are surely many more than this.)

SUPPORT SKILLS-
<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> - ? (What does this do? Up to apper. Suggestions: Negates stun times from a cancelled Sword Skill, clears negative status effects at low HP, lowers stun time from taking heavy impacts)
<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.

FAMILIAR SKILLS- used to support a familiar for those who use them. ONLY LEARNABLE BY CAIT SITHS
<Familiar Recovery> - <Battle Healing> is granted to your familiar.
<Familiar Communication> - Allows more complicated orders to be given to your familiar more quickly and reliably.

Custom Skills

Skills invented by MCM players for Sword Art Online-1 Will be listed here:

WEAPON SKILLS-

ARMOR SKILLS-

CRAFTING SKILLS-

REFINING SKILLS-

SUPPORT SKILLS-

FAMILIAR SKILLS-

Beast Taming - Cait Sith Only

There's a tiny chance that an encountered monster will not be immediately hostile. If the player offers said monster a bit of food, it will make it a permanent ally, and can be named by the player.

'Tamed Beasts' no longer count as monsters: they are Familiars, who behave more like pets. Once a player has acquired a Familiar, they may begin training the Familiar Communications and Familiar Recovery Skills. The higher the former, the more complicated instructions the familiar will understand.

Small Familiars often have two or three small but useful abilities, such as a minor healing spell they'll use at their own discretion if not ordered, or a status-inflicting distance attack. Larger ones may serve as mounts and attack beasts with considerable power, something most Cait Siths rely on.

Familiars CAN be killed, and don't respawn normally. If a Familiar is killed, there's a small chance it will turn into a <Familiar name>'s Heart item, with a form dependent on the creature. (A feather, a fang, something minor but symbolic.) In three days these will become <Familiar name>'s Remains - useless for the fairly simple revival quest in the Cait Sith lands.

Inventory and Equipment

All players have an Inventory accessible via in-game menu. Inventory lists can be organized, sorted, and categorized for browsing in tons of ways - such as category (weapons, armor, accessory, recovery items, clothing), weight, quantity, etc. Storage limits are based on weight, a formula extrapolated from the hidden Strength stat and the Extended Weight Limit Skill. Going over the weight limit (over-encumbered) makes it hard to more than just sort of stagger-shuffle along, and you can forget adding more to the inventory.

In practice, most players can store two dozen pieces of 'medium' type (light rather than heavy or leather armor, for instance) equipment, several sets of clothing, and a sizable plethora of healing potions and other useful amenities. Yurd storage counts against this weight, but it takes a truly prodigious amount of it to be noticeable. Very strong characters, and/or ones with Extended Weight Limit can carry considerably more than this.

Players can assign portions of storage space to share with each other in parties or similar arrangements. Anyone may add to or withdraw from this pile. Meanwhile, players who are married in-game constantly share their inventories, and no longer have private ones. They completely share items and Yurd and can access each other's belongings from anywhere.

Items stored in the inventory have no physical presence, but gain one if called up from within it. Every item has a physical representation, even Yurd - various kinds of gold coin, in its case. Items not stored in the inventory are called 'readied' in common parlance. Upon being called items appear in the most obviously appropriate manner manageable, though the system will pick up on cues like a hand out stretched to grasp it or arms outstretched for it to lay across, or similar gestures (such as bringing out several food trays while gesturing to a tabletop.) Clothes can be simply summoned, and the system is similarly intelligent when it comes to sheathes and other accessories, all of which are considered separate items. A great deal of convenience was included in the system, and players can use their menus to queue up advanced operations such as 'remove all armor, remove all weapons, remove all clothes' and similar categorical removals.

Whether inventoried or carried physically, all items weigh down a character save for special cases like certain storage and transport items (chief of among which is the Vendor's Carpet.) Undergarments are one prime exception. While players are free to customize their undergarments, they are not free to remove them willy-nilly. To prevent weirdos from running through the streets nude in a game that was definitely not supposed to be rated adult only, undergarments may only be removed in private areas like inn rooms, etc. No cirvumventions ever succeed - they are forcibly restored the moment a player leaves the private area if necessary. No amount of struggling by the player or any other party may remove the undergarments, either.

Item status can be checked in a window accessed by poking it, though advanced information such as name, stats and extra capabilities require appraisal skills. Players who have had an item appraised for them can share this knowledge with others by bringing up the window and introducing the item, which the system will detect and cause the window's details to fill in.

Items granted by quests, vendors, and drops given to a player are automatically owned by them, as are any items received through a trade with another player. Items that leave a player's possession for longer than 5 hours, unless stored somewhere owned by the player, like a house or (temporary as it might be) a Chest in an Inn room, lose their ownership status and become owned by the first person to pick them up. Items CAN thus be stolen, but as there are inventory options to manifest all owned objects and similar, thieves can't really get too far if a player's paying attention.

Most items have a purpose - armor and clothes are worn, weapons are swung, and so on. A large variety of them can be used on other items, in which case they all contain information on how they are used accessible from the item-specific popup. In a lot of cases, they are used in a common sense manner - for instance, drinking a health potion restores your health. Others, such as teleport crystals, have their own usage menus or can respond to spoken commands.

Equipment requires Skills to be at certain ranks to equip it. Without that Skill, the sword will do sub-par damage, the armor will be extra encumbersome, and so on, and always less efficient than equipping something appropriate for your Skill Level. However, sufficient physical Strength is also needed - even if your Skill with two Handed swords is high enough, if you aren't physically strong enough to swing it effectively… it's gonna be a problem.

All items have durability, and nearly all are subject to wear and tear or can be broken through direct use, with few exceptions. Weapons wear down, armor takes damage, and worse, items often have 'weak points' where more stress will inflict more durability damage. Only players with the appropriate crafting skills can repair equipment. Even Food has durability, to simulate how long it keeps. It slowly ticks down over a matter of days, and eventually disappears - and tends to be quite fragile if dropped, often being destroyed just like that. In fact, any item left unattended, unless kept in expensive and rare containers designed for the purpose, steadily loses durability and eventually ends up destroyed.

When an item's durability hits 0, it breaks - and shatters into hundreds of polygons that scatter and eventually disappear. Gone for good.

There are banks in Alfheim Online that can serve as storage, but player houses can also serve as such, as does any kind of container in a rented room, and some players make a living by providing bank and storage-style services. As there is no way to prove ownership once the system changes it, however, this involves a lot more faith, paperwork, and reputation than an actual system dedicated to this could accomplish.

Crafting and Item Enhancement

Crafting is quite simple. The crafting system is spread across a wide variety of categories - Smithing (covers weapons and armor made of metal), tailoring (clothes and leather equipment), Cooking (actually GOOD tasting food, some of which buffs) and so on. These skills are taught by NPCs available in towns, who also sell the basic tools and supplies needed for starting crafting recipes.

However, most crafting requires an excellent array of factors coming together for very useful results: a dedicated workshop, which can be rather expensive, is needed to make the best equipment. (It can however, also automate much of the work, such as using waterwheels to drive bellows or work looms and so on, if one picks a player house in a good location and a player with the right crafting skills can make the waterwheel, or one's purchased from an NPC…)

There are three kinds of crafting items: The first are tools (such as a Smith's hammer and tongs) which must be of specific qualities to handle better and better materials. The next are base materials, such as metal ingots or leather or wood. Finally, there are enhancement materials. Tools can be crafted or bought (only crafting and certain monster drops can lead to the best tools), base materials are often dropped by mobs or gathered from resource nodes (such as fishing spots, outcrops of rock in dungeons that might have metal, etc.) Mobs are the most typical source of enhancement materials, meanwhile.

Crafting is accomplished by readying all the materials and using the Skills menu to choose the desired parameters for the end result. The more skillful the crafter, the more they can push the materials to glean higher stats from them and try for different balances of qualities by allocating their efforts in other directions. Each material has a limit however, and can be suited for different qualities. Once crafting begins, body control is handled by System Assist much like a Sword Skill (see below). Cancellation invokes automatic failure and material loss. Odds of success are based on numerous factors: the quality of the tools, the level of the crafter's skills, the stats being aimed for (the more powerful and expensive, the higher skill must be to ensure success), available 'enhancement materials,' and a slight random factor.

For clothes, there are patterns and systems to design custom outfits, while many basic items have only one version. However, with weapons and equipment, some amount of randomization affects the end result. You can choose to forge a rapier with certain parameters (very high sharpness and agility for instance) if your Skill is up to the task, but the end result will differ slightly almost every time. Each rapier forged this way will have a different name, different stats, and appearance. A handful will be particularly exceptional even, with stats far beyond average attempts.

The same kind of crafter that could make an item can also repair them, needing only a bit of time and basic materials.

Item Enhancement is very similar to creating an item to begin with. The appropriate crafter (a smith for a sword, etc) must take the item and more base materials and use their tools to rework it. The chance of success is similar to creating it in the first place, but far more dependent on enhancement materials used to increase the chance of success and the item's current level of enhancement - the stronger it is, the harder it is to make it better. One chosen parameter is increased at a time. The available parameters are: Sharpness, Quickness, Accuracy, 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.

In common parlance, enhanced items are described most accurately by stringing together the kinds of enhancements. For instance, 1S3A would mean +1 Sharpness, +3 Accuracy.

It is very fortunate indeed that crafting in Alfheim is a nigh-instantaneous process, be it forging a sword or cooking a meal.

Combat, Damage, and Resurrection

Combat's initiated by simply attacking a valid target, using taunt skills to gain a monster's hatred… or being ambushed by a monster that you strolled too close to. Damage is calculated based on several things: player strength, impact speed, weapon power, 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.) 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.

For players, damage isn't super painful - pain intensity's capped at a fairly low level. It's more like a momentary sharp stinging buzz, allowing speedy recovery. Monsters and NPCs ACT like they are in pain when struck, but what pain means to them is hard to say.

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.

Damage visually manifests in many ways depending on the nature of the injury. Usually, it's represented by cuts, bright decals showing a crimson grid splashed over the damaged zone, bleeding orange pixels from said spots, and the like. Limb loss (which regenerates in 3 minutes) is also a strong possibility if a limb takes too much damage too quickly or focusedly. On the other hand, if there WAS armor on said arm, the armor will take damage and lose some durability from every blow.

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 or the player chooses to respawn, they reappear in their race's Room of Resurrection in the respective capital town, or alternatively one in the last applicable town they were in.

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 Yurd. 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.

Loot

Upon slaying monsters or other players, a window pops up showing gained Yurd, 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.

Status Effects

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.

Races

Players must choose one of the nine Races at chargen. Each has different skill and magic specializations and/or innate abilities, and sports a different coloror scheme (usually, this is their hair and wing coloror, though hair doesn't always have to match and can always be dyed or redone with the character redesign fee. Wing coloror, size, shape, and aesthetic is race-dependent and cannot be changed.)

CAIT SITH: Yellow. Recognizable for their cat ears and tails, Cait Siths have impressive bonuses to eyesight and overall Intelligence. They are the only race capable of taming beasts into Pets.

  • 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.

GNOME: Brown. The largest of the races, Gnomes gain bonuses to the Mining Skills and Earth, and their raw stamina exceeds all others.

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.

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.

SALAMANDER: Red. Physically strong and gaining major bonuses to Fire magic, Salamanders are great at straightforward military might.

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.

UNDINE: Blue. The aquatic Undines are masters of water and healing magics.

Magic

All races of Alfheim Online utilize Magic, though each race specializes in one or two categories (By element or general purpose) and has trouble learning more than the basics of others. Most magic is stereotypical fantasy elemental sorts. Using flames to enchant a weapon or launch fireballs at opponents, granting water breathing with water magic or flooding out opponents, conjuring walls of Earth and creating illusions to conceal and befuddle, healing, creating a small remote-controlled familiar capable of spying on distant areas for the caster, and so on.

There aren't any actual spell lists, however, and Magic uses its own simplified version of the Skill Slot system independent of actual Skills. Instead, there exist Words of Power, with more becoming available as the Magic skills increase. They sound very Old Norse and can be difficult to pronounce right, but each has a list of possible meanings that allow them to be syntactically combined with other words to form spells - the difference between an 'ice bolt' and a 'fire bolt' may just be one or two words, for instance, as may be the difference between grades of spells - substituting the word for 'fire' with 'inferno,' as an example.

Spells are cast by adopting a pose with hands outstretched, causing runes to appear in rings swirling about the character that line up and flash as words are chosen and recognized.

Spells drain MP, which slowly regenerates.

Flight

All players may fly - one of the biggest attractions to Alfheim Online. Each race has slightly-different-styled wings powered by heavenly light - the sun, moon, and stars. They generally don't show unless a player adopts a certain posture while standing, attempts manual wing control, or summons the Assist Controller by grasping at the air for it, which causes them to shimmer into existence. Wings appear external to the body, seperated from the back by several inches, and phase through clothing.

Actual flight is controlled by one of two ways. The first, simplest way is to use the Assist Controller, a joystick that controls direction and speed, with a gesture.

The second is the mark of an expert: Voluntary Flight. Though humans don't have wings, careful manipulation of arm, shoulder, and back muscles combined with a lot of practice and imagination allows fine control of the wings, though it takes a bit to manage it without making obvious shoulder motions and arm twitches. Masters of Voluntary Flight can tease far more manueverability and speed out of their wings, while freeing up a hand, making it the preferred way of getting around. Experienced characters can even break the sound barrier while flying.

Wings need rest however. They work fine as long as they're glittering, but ten minutes is the max flight time. As that duration nears they begin losing their luster and muster, a clear sign to land somewhere - or risk a disastrous fall. Flight time is recharged by simply not flying one second for each second spent flying, up to a max of ten minutes.

Wings require sun/moon/starlight to manifest. In areas without any whatsoever - such as indoors with no windows whatsoever, or deep in a cave or tunnel, or Jotunheim, they simply shrivel up and wither until once again exposed to the nourishing light they need. Imp wings are an exception, except for in Jotunheim. They can continue flying until they run out of flight time, indoors or outdoors, THEN their wings wither.

Community

It's dangerous to go alone, and even taking a sword with you isn't always enough. Players can join together in all kinds of different temporary or indefinite relationships, and often do.

Parties are small groups of players (maximum 7) that are allowed to view each other's current status - HP and buffs/debuffs are displayed next to one's own status bar in the HUD. Up to 7 parties (a max of 49 people) can enter a boss room at once. When they do, Cardinal links them into a raid group. Raid group HUDs display aggregate average HPs and similar statistics.

Friends lists are mutual affairs that both must agree to. Once linked as friends, players can see when each other logs on or off (players who are now dead show as offline) and their current location - provided they are not inside a dungeon.

Guilds are the largest and most structured organization form in Sword Art Online. One player must start them, then invite more to join the Guild. A Guild does not, by itself, offer the coded benefits of friends or parties - a guildmate's status beyond online or offline and rank is not shown. However, Guildmates often join parties and add each other to their friends lists. Authority is handled in a descending hierarchy from the guild leader, who can delegate powers (such as inviting or exiling people from the Guild, or giving access to guild storage and other resources) to their subordinates. Large guilds often set up costly headquarters where they can buy land or an existing building, while small ones often make simpler arrangements. The more prestigious ones also often require members to wear uniforms, capes, or outfits with the guild's heraldry on it - which must be made by armorers/tailors.

Marriage is proposed and accepted purely through the menu, and requires a male and female avatar. Once married, the couple's inventory storage and Yurd merges, becoming the same. Divorce is also handled through the menu, with a variety of resource allocations possible - a couple going through the divorce system must agree to the end distribution of items (done on a percent based on weight, item value, or other factors.) If one character is deleted, the excess things that the survivor's single weight limit cannot handle are ejected around the fallen player.

Party members, Friends, Guild members, and married couples may all send private messages to one another.

There's nothing actually stopping one race from being in a party, guild, or marriage with another, although it's not very common due to the racial politics and conflicts. (See below.)

Communications

Aside from private messages, there are no global chats or similar system-supported means for mass communications. Players instead rely on news publications, posters, public criers, and word of mouth to spread information around. It's very medieval, in other words. In this environment, many make a great living as information brokers.

Race Politics

Every so often, each Race gets to elect a leader by popular vote. The Leader has complete authority over the race's overall resources as an organization: they may determine tax rates for all shops in towns held by the race, use the money for further construction and reinforcement (such as maintaining and improving security via NPC guards in said towns), control various policies, and the like, enjoying priveleges very similar to a Guild Leader, including the authority to parcel out powers and priveleges to their subordinates to create a form of government beneath them.

By far the most feared power granted Leaders is the ability to disenfranchise and Exile a player from their race. Said player becomes a renegade, losing all racial priveleges within their respective territory. They may have to pay higher taxes, NPC guards will treat them as outsiders (attacking or simply blocking passage based on policy of the specific guards), they lose the right to vote, etc. Additionally, only Leaders can undo this.

Race Conflict

The races are often in conflict for resources - mining ore, hunting monsters for experience, money, and leather, gathering plants and other things, etc. The wealthiest, most successful race stands the biggest chance of ascending the World Tree, and none can allow the others to get there first.

Within a capital city, that capital's race (that isn't Exiled, anyways) is protected by the system as a Safe Zone. Foreign races are NOT protected, however. This doesn't mean that the capitals don't get tourists (or the occasional undercover spy) on occasion, but there are no real guarantees when exploring another race's capital whatsoever. They are not exactly treated as Kill On Sight by most of the community (how would that look, attacking a mostly defenseless player?) but will be given a wide berth and treated with suspicion and wariness. And there's always the few assholes who might just randomly backstab them.

Outside the capitals, anything goes.

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.

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.'

However, other offenses that are not part of the gameplay, such as sexual harassment, are still an issue and will alert GMs on duty if the player requests action.

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 will not enter towns or cities under any circumstances - unless they are a player's pet, in which case they also enjoy any protection in capitals.

Dueling

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.

In-game Menu and HUDS

Every player can access the in-game menu - a holographic-styled transparent touch-screen - by striking at the air with a downward motion using their left hand's index and thumb squeezed together. It pops up and awaits user activity, though it can time out if it doesn't get any for a while.

Button One appears as a head icon. It's the Personal menu, and leads to the menus for ITEMS, SKILLS, MAGIC, and EQUIPMENT. The first displays inventory and allows arranging it, materializing and storing items, deleting them, and so on. SKILLS shows and explains current skills, has options to delete them to free up Skill slots, etc. Equipment allows one to 'ready' armor and weapons, equipping them through a paper-doll display with equippable points.

Button Two appears as two head icons. It's the Community menu, and leads to more dealing with Friends, Parties, and Guilds. The options for proposing in-game marriage and similar player relations are also covered in here. Characters on the Friend or Guild lists show up on the map and their basic status displayed. Non-Friend players remain enigmas, with names and levels hidden unless revealed, as a security feature against PK'ing. For those given authority over their race, controls for their options are contained within.

Button Three appears as two overlaying text boxes. It's the Chat options, covering mostly mail and an extremely elaborate direct messaging system. Chat windows do not exist, all instant communication beyond in-game mail is handled in person.

Button Four appears as a cursor hovering above a flat plane. This is the Map system, showing the map of the area that's been explored and all known locations within Alfheim. Map data is compiled by adventuring, though maps can be also be shared between players.

Button Five appears as a gear. This is the settings system, containing numerous Options and the in-game Help system. Options vary, but are mostly cosmetic such as preferences (loot style, Crime prevention mode, Ethic mode warnings, interface coloror, etc.)

Next, all players may view their HUD information by simply focusing their vision. This causes an effect akin to Augmented Reality to overlay perceptions, showing monster names, quest markers, party HP gauges, and so on.

When examining other players, they display a HP bar that changes from green to blue to yellow to red and finally empties as damage is sustained, although MP is not visible unless partied.

ALO also provides other situational menus to respond to questions or manage the in-game shops and so on. The names of players that one has just met however, are not shown. Until they introduce themselves (which CARDINAL attempts to track, so it's pretty accurate) they will be shown as 'Unknown Player' whenever their name ought to appear.

Beyond the main menu, reaching out to 'press' the indicator above a mob, player, or object brings up a contextual menu no matter the distance, though some features will only work if up close (such as appraising items.) This is usually used as a shortcut for trade, duel, item checking, and similar things.

The menu works off of motion and touch, not intent. This means that a player could be forced to manipulate their menu if someone moved their hand against their will. Menus are also invisible when invoked, although options exist to make them visible with a simple flick of a finger. Savvy players could perhaps infer what another's doing with their menu, but it's always hard to say for certain.

Import Character - From Aincrad

Save data between Sword Art Online and Alfheim Online uses the same format. Where the data maps in the same locations and matches in the database, it is retained. Where it is not, CARDINAL attempts to

Via FullDive

Native Players of SAO, on Logon, IF they use the same account name and password as they did with SAO, find that their accounts have been transferred, although they must pick a race. Stats (Strength and Agility, based on Level) carry over to the new system (although are now hidden) and Skills, where Alfheim has the same ones (which is a yes in 99 percent of those cases, although Unique Skills are lost for certainty) are retained at the same proficiency level. Entire inventories are corrupt, and players start with newbie equipment. Col becomes Yurd.

If corrupt inventories are not cleared, error checking may find them. Best not to keep corrupt items.'

Appearances are not identical to the SAO avatars, but may closely resemble them.

Via Walk-In

If the same account is used however, the inventory is corrupted (see above) while Col becomes Yurd.

Previously Walk-In, now via FullDive

XP gained in SAO invisibly translated to Levels, which the import process converts to stronger avatars. Based on the amount of Levels that would have been gained, imported players will find they also start with a smattering of Skills, randomly chosen for a generic battle build, proportioned for said Level.

Dual Login

The same account can be used for walk-ins and FullDive for those with the means, which behaves logically. Yurd and items gained while there physically is retained by the Inventory, although inventory size is limited by the Strength stat (which will not increase in this mode.)

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. 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 thus, 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…

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

Unification

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.

Wander Mode

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 - unless they are some of those unlucky SAO players… in which case, it's a good way to accidentally get killed. (For this reason, Aura tests must be performed within Aincrad or on the hospitalized body.)

Through Union connections, SAO-1's real world's governments have discovered and begun studying this abnormal property, but efforts are being undertaken to cover it up until the ramifications can be predicted and accomodated for (with plenty secretly wanting to exploit it.) All known Elites (Union or not) who've discovered Wander Mode are watched to some degree by the Union and local government, both for their protection and to ensure they don't cause a massive social ruckus.

Sadly this means that Elite players will get in boatloads of trouble for wandering around the real world as their avatars without a REALLY good reason. Inevitably, the cat will get out of the bag, and the governments know this, so they're working really fast on this one.

Currently, only Japan's government and RCT Progress have access to the database of which player name maps to what real person. The Union has successfully ensured that this data will not be easily leaked. 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 depending on what enemies they make.

The Union is also currently researching methods to capitalize and protect what Elites it gets from SAO-1 by creating its own FullDive technology and setting up secure locations for its Elites to dive from.

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.

Alfheim Online

Kayaba Akihiko created a patch for Sword Art Online that gave CARDINAL the authority to attempt to map player IDs to foreign beings. This patch appears to have reached Alfheim shortly before SAO was cleared, and the GM staff doesn't have any clue it's been added, or by who or why if they did become aware of it. While originally designed to cover Aincrad, CARDINAL adapted the intent of the patch quite well.

That intent being, to allow foreigners to be treated as players as much as possible.

Upon entering Alfheim, a foreign being is presented with a touchscreen prompt and virtual keyboard asking for a username and password. Once given, these will never be asked for again - unless, that is, the foreigner uses some ability to mask their presence and somehow change the signature the game reads from their presence. After this, the foreigner chooses one of the 9 Fairy Races, which will be used to determine their respawn point and wing style but little else - unless, that is, the foreigner logs in using actual FullDive.

Skills and Magic are inaccessible on the menu (unless the account is used later for a proper FullDive), but the inventory is fully functional.

Foreign equipment is categorized generically by the system, and may be stored in Inventories. It appears as a generically named item with a picture in the inventory window for easy recall, and will be spat out after the player should they leave Alfheim and forget to reclaim it. In no way can the system 'steal' or block access to these items, but the player can only use equipment switching involving them by allowing the inventory transfer. Inventories are remembered on returning, but Foreign Players will find that leaving with native items and equipment causes them to derezz and return to the inventory, awaiting their owner's return.

Foreign players who lack the ability to fly on their own may manifest wings as normal Fairies do, but they may only use the Assist Controller to fly. This may look Fairly ridiculous (pun intended) for extremely large or oddly shaped beings.

Foreign players with registered accounts may be added to groups and parties, use in-game private messages, rent inn rooms, and undertake Quests, but they do not grow as native players - they do not increase Skills (even if they have used this same account to login with a NerveGear or AmuSphere) or increase their stats. Foreign players DO have HitPoints and they are drained when they're struck, though the math behind it seems a little fuzzy. Taking damage still hurts as it would physically, but Cardinal provides a buffer that blunts some of it, and as with the Factional 'holodeck simulators' fatal injury never happens before one becomes a Remain Light, shifted to the virtual 'astral' state and must be resurrected or respawn as normal. Respawning also applies some amount of generic healing, but it can't cover everything and doesn't help much with exhaustion. (Or healtimes.)

While in Alfheim, foreigners are marked as Online to all system services which would consider them such, like Friends lists or Guild rosters. Upon leaving it they're considered Offline.

The System doesn't deal well with entities who range far from the generic humanoid shape. For instance, the Menu requires using two fingers to bring it up with a swipe, and expects people to be around a certain range of size for equipping their gear. The system will try to figure out equivalents (CARDINAL is amazingly adaptive) like a Dragon using its left front foot to gesture, or a creature without arms using its tail, but there may be a few cases where this doesn't work.

Reality-to-Virtual Mapping

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.

Government Reaction

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.)

The Aincrad Preservative

Section Five: OOC Considerations and Concerns.

Hacking

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. Still, unusual events will draw GM attention and investigation as yellow flags and trouble tickets go up and so on if hackers attempted things seriously. It likely won't mean much beyond a lot of thoroughly confused GMs if it's caused by someone physically traversing Alfheim, but they will respond to hacking their network as any other network attack: investigation and legal disputes.

Mass Chaos

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.

Geographical Damage

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 Compatability

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.

Other VRMMOs

Gun Gale Online does not yet exist in SAO-1, as the World Seed hasn't been released quite yet. They may later, depending on how plot develops. This is something for active cast to figure out!

There are five other VRMMOs besides Alfheim which use the same early tech as it, licensed from RCT Progress, which have been left canonly undefined.

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