Any discussion about Ashes of Creation must first begin with a discussion of Nodes, which leads us naturally to our first question: What are Nodes?
According to Intrepid Studios: “Nodes are the heart of the world, they create the ebb and flow of life. At their core, Nodes are pre-set points in the world, wrapped in a Zone of Influence and surrounded by geographic areas that change over time based upon player participation.”
That is a great answer .... Now what exactly does it mean? What are Nodes?
In simple terms: Nodes are the foundation and center of civilization found in Ashes of Creation.
Any topic you want to discuss: housing, guilds, PvP, combat, dungeons, raids, crafting, everything interconnects with the Nodes System in one way or another. The World of Verra is the result of player actions and decisions. When the game begins, other than the starting areas around the four Divine Gates, players will find the world barren; an untouched blank slate ready for development.
Unlike other games where players know the logical flow they are meant to follow, going from specific zone to zone for leveling, in Ashes of Creation the places you go are determined by what Nodes have been developed by the players in the world.
Every discussion about Ashes of Creation is rooted in Nodes.
You want to own housing in Ashes?
Your node will have to be a certain minimal level.
You want to talk about Node Sieges?
Well can’t siege Nodes if there aren’t Nodes of a certain level.
Want to buy, trade, or sell goods?
This is done in and around Nodes.
All content is tied to and/or gated by Nodes.
At first the Node System in Ashes will seem overly complicated, this is by design. The team at Intrepid Studios wants to ensure that the players have control over the world, both in its development and its destruction.
As mentioned in The World of Verra article, the world is divided into Zones of Influences. When the world is new, a total blank slate untouched by the players there are 103 Zones of Influence where civilization can develop. Inside each of these areas are 2-3 different spawn points where a “Node” might spawn. This is important to note; not every node in the world will develop. There is competition for Nodes and they do block each other from developing. The spawn location of the Node will determine the node type. This is a fixed and static decision, which means no matter how many times the Node is destroyed, each time it returns it will always be the same type. This is one of the few things that remains the same between servers. More on Node Types later.
Unlike other games where players start at a starting zone, and move along a predetermined path, in Ashes of Creation there is no predetermined path because the ZOIs don’t have a level. There isn’t a Level 10 ZOI and a Level 35 ZOI. Instead, imagine each ZOI being a mini-world unto itself. In the beginning there is nothing but Wilderness. As players move into an area they bring civilization with it. Near civilization you will find lower end monsters and threats, but as you move out from that center of civilization so too will you great dangers. Every ZOI will have a range of enemies for the players to confront.
The Node System in Ashes of Creation prevents the inevitable situation in all other MMORPGs where a player who was not present at the launch of a server spends the majority of their time “grinding” to “max level” and rarely encounters any other human players during this process. Instead, with the Nodes concept new players will encounter populated areas very shortly after leaving the starting areas around the Divine Gates and the starter camps.
Additionally, as the world is shaped by player actions, no two servers are going to be the same. For those of you who have not seen them, I highly recommend the Nodes 1 and 2 Videos. In the Nodes 1 video, when a particular node levels from Level 4 (Town) to Level 5 (City) that event causes a Dragon to stir from its slumber and attack the Node thus generating content for all the players. This is content that not every server will see, because not every server will develop in exactly the same way.
When the players arrive from Sanctus via one of the four divine gates the small base camp you see around the Divine Gate represents the extent to which civilization has spread. As far as the Underrealm, I am sure there is a reason why the entirety of the Underrealm is not fully developed, but we are waiting to know these things from the Storyteller. The areas around the four starting Divine gates and the area around the Tulnar starting zone are acknowledged to be heavily favored to become bustling population centers, at least early on. This is not a deliberate design decision, instead it is understood to be a natural and likely outcome due to players wanting to get started right away when they arrive.
Players, including the Tulnar, will have their choice of starting gates, and although these early starting areas will be racially themed, a player is not forced to choose their racial gate. It is possible for an Orc to arrive at the Elf Gate, or a Dwarf to arrive at the Human gate, all depending on where geographically the players want to start.
As players are out in the wild killing monsters, fishing, gathering, doing anything that earns XP, they are geographically in one ZOI or another. Any time any player earns XP, they contribute to the total XP pool in that ZOI which directly leads to the development of a Node. When enough XP has been earned in that ZOI, a Node appears at one of those predetermined locations.
As stated earlier, not every Node in the world can develop. Nodes are in competition with each other, and they will block each other out during the development phases. What this means is as soon as the first Node makes the transition from Level 0 (Wilderness) to the Level 1 (Expedition), all the Level 1 Node’s neighbors are blocked from making the 0 to 1 transition until the Level 1 Node (Expedition) makes the transition to Level 2 (Encampment). This block out mechanic is visually described in the Ashes 101 - Introduction to Nodes Part I video to the right.
Not only are Nodes going to have to accumulate enough XP to level, they are going to have to maintain that XP income in order to starve off atrophy. If everyone suddenly leaves a Node’s ZOI and does no XP earning activities in its borders, the Node will eventually wither away. Beginning at Stage 3 (Village) when a Node can become a parent node it makes it easier to starve off atrophy. More on this in the Parent and Vassal section.
The names of the stages for the Nodes and their development time are as follows:
An interesting side mechanic that comes into play with Nodes when they level from one stage to the next is the appearance mechanic. When the node moves from one stage to another, the buildings in that node will take on the appearance of the race that has contributed the most XP to the leveling process. Already thinking ahead, Intrepid Studios has built in an attrition mechanic to ensure that not every node appears to have been built by the same race. The more Nodes one race already culturally influences, the harder it is for them to affect other Nodes during this xp contribution phase.
While there are a lot of things that happen in Nodes between the Wilderness to the Encampment Stage, it is the Village Stage where the exciting stuff begins to happen. When a Node reaches level 3 the Player Run Government, Housing and Citizenship, Sieges, Node Specific Buildings, and Vassal System mechanics all come into play.
Given the complexity of the topic, the Housing and Citizenship discussion has its own section. For now, just realize that Freeholds and In-Node Housing become available at Stage 3 (Village) and Instanced Apartments become available at Stage 4 (Town). Additionally, the section on Sieges has been included in depth in the PvP Section.
When a node is at Stage 1 (Expedition) and Stage 2 (Encampment) the decision for the Node and its growth is all done by the game mechanics. Beginning at Stage 3 (Village) leadership becomes the responsibility of the players, namely through the role of Mayor; however, we are aware that the government is done slightly different in each of the different Node types. We are waiting for more details on the other offices and are expecting that information to come in the Nodes 3 and Nodes 4 Videos.
What we currently know of the government system is that you must be a citizen to be considered for Mayor. We also know that to be involved in the Election you must be a citizen. Beyond that, each of the Node Types have their own methods for election. The individual methods of election will be discussed shortly in the Node Types section.
Mayor’s have the ability to choose the name of the Node from a per-determined list. Mayors also have some political power with the ability to declare War on other nodes which will put the citizens of the node in a state of legal conflict with the citizens of that other node. Mayors also have the power to declare individual players as an Enemy of the State, flagging that individual a legal combatant to all citizens of the Node. We are waiting for more details on both of these systems.
We do know that the Mayor has some power over the design of the Node, but this power is not unilateral. The Mayor cannot place each individual building, instead the procedural generation tool will take care of the majority of the Node Building. If you are interested in this, make sure to check out the Node Tech video from Intrepid linked at the top of the page. Mayors will have “building footprints” which are plots that Mayor’s can choose projects for. While we do not have all the information on these, we do know that they will require quests for Material Acquisition which will be done by the Node Citizens, as well as requiring supplies in vast quantities, which will most likely require shipments done by the Caravan System.
While we do not know all the buildings that may be constructed; we do have a tentative list of buildings: Apartments, Barracks, Guild Halls, Inns, Marketplaces, Royal Stables, Social Organization Buildings [Scholar’s, Thieves, Traders], Taverns, Temples, University, Warehouses.
A key part of this building list is that not every Node can have access to every service. If a mayor decides to build certain things then that Node will have access to those services, but not the services of the buildings that were not selected. This, and other topics, is broken down in more detail in the video Introduction to Nodes Part II - Nodes Level 3.
This issue of player choice is a key element to Ashes of Creation. If the citizens are not involved with the election process they may find a mayor in charge who decides to tear down buildings and start over. This may make for a short mayor term, or it may be the radical change necessary to spark new growth.
Also included in the Government system are Taxes. Everyone who is a citizen of the node will be paying taxes to the node via the property tax on Houses and Freeholds and the rent on Instanced Apartments. When it comes to taxes, the Mayor of a Node cannot take the money out of the system, the tax money can only be used for the benefit of the Node. There are other parts of the tax system when it comes to the Vassal System and the Castle System. Until we discuss those issues, just know that the Parent Node does get a portion of the taxes from all of it’s Vassal Nodes, and the Monarch who rules the Regional Castle also gets a portion of the taxes, and the Monarch can remove a portion of the tax money from the system. More on this in depth in the Castle Regions section.
There are four different types of Nodes in Ashes of Creation. Divine, Economic, Military, and Scientific. The good news is we have received a lot of information on two of these Node Types (Economic and Scientific). Unfortunately there has been a delay in receiving the other two blogs, so while it may seem like I’m favoring two Node Types over the other, the truth is we simply do not have as much information about two of them. As that information is made available, this section will be updated.
One thing to keep in mind when reading over this information, is that the services offered by the Unique Buildings are not Node Exclusive. While the services may be more readily accessible to citizens of the Node, it does not mean that is the only method of acquisition for these services.
Each node type has been broken out to its own sub-page. Links to each are accessible from the top index or the main page.
The phrase Parent and Vassal system has been used a lot in this article. There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to the Node System. Earlier I said to think of each Node as a mini-world unto itself. Now it's time to think bigger.
Earlier we discussed how Nodes compete and block each other out. One part of this is because there can only be five Stage Six (Metropolis) Nodes in the entire world. Just like there are five castle regions that are fixed and static, there will also be five Metro ZOI’s that are various and flexible. When it comes to these specific mechanics, we do not have all the answers nor are we intended to. Intrepid wants to keep parts of the system a mystery.
What we do know is that starting at Stage 3 (Village) Nodes begin to enslave other Nodes into a forced relationship. Interestingly, a Node can and probably will be both a Parent and a Vassal to other Nodes, although again, we do not have all the specific mechanics of this system. There are several advantages for the Parents in the Vassal system.
The first is that when trying to pay off XP atrophy, experience will be funneled up from the vassal Nodes. As a vassal Node cannot level past its parent, once it has paid off its own atrophy, it will funnel up any surplus XP to its parent. Secondly, as discussed earlier, Parent Nodes get a percentage of all their Vassal Nodes tax, of course if one is both a parent and a vassal there is another node that is going to be expecting their tax payment as well.
Next is the work order system, which is one of the more brilliant ideas from Intrepid to ensure that all node levels remain relevant and prevents everyone from wanting to live only in the Metropolis. There are going to be tasks that each Node needs accomplished and they won’t be able to accomplish these tasks on their own. They are going to be sending work orders down the fealty chain and hoping the citizens of their vassal nodes are willing to do their required work for them. As I’m sure you have guessed, no we don’t have all the details of this system, but it certainly is one we are going to be looking forward to.
Also inside the Vassal system are bound diplomatic relations. Earlier it was mentioned that a Mayor has the ability to declare war on other Nodes, yet inside the Vassal system there are limitations on this. First, a Mayor may not declare war on its Parent Node or any of its Parent’s Vassals. Note, this only applies to the Node War mechanic not the Node Siege mechanic. The differences of these two systems are detailed in the PvP Chapter.
Vassal Nodes do not inherit the open world flag status from their Parent’s wars. Additionally, while Nodes are free to engage in their own diplomatic relations, a Vassal Node may not open up a trade agreement with any Node that is in a hostile or war state with its Parent Node.
Citizenship is important because it is your highest social relationship, in fact your citizenship is more important than your guild membership. In order to reap the benefits of a prosperous Node, you must be a citizen of that node, and to be a citizen you must first have property.
From a player perspective, all of your alts are citizens of the same Node. While your alts can be members of different guilds, they all share citizenship to the same node. Given the rules on housing and that you can only own one of each type of housing per server (and only 1 freehold per account), it makes sense that the citizenship would be restricted as well.
So while each Node is an entity unto itself, a Node will exist inside of a Castle Region. As we talked about in the World of Verra section each Castle Region is one-fifth of the world.
The Monarch of a region has some things that he can do to influence the region. He will have access to certain dials that make changes to the game that will influence the crop yields in the region, resource spawns, and events. Monarchs can also unlock additional building types in Nodes, but beyond that snippet we have no future information.
He also can assist during Sieges when a node falls under siege.
The local monarch also has the ability to levy taxes on his region. Unlike Mayors, the Monarch can remove a percentage of these taxes in cash to do with what they will.
Attached to each castle are three nodes. These Nodes exist outside of the normal node system. Their existence cannot be blocked by normal nodes, nor does their existence block normal nodes from growing.
There are no elections, there is no housing. They are a special unique node that only exists during the Castle Siege Cycle, and then have to be rebuilt up each siege cycle. Guild members of the guild that owns the castle have a sort of dual-citizenship, as they have citizenship in a normal node and they are part of the Garrison for the 3 nodes that are attached to the castle.
These sub nodes also influence how many Wyrmlings the defending guild will have on siege day.