Corrupted Essence

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Corrupted Essence (commonly referred to simply as Corruption) is a negative aspect of The Essence that was spread by The Ancients during the Apocalypse.[2][3]

Corruption is a representation of The Ancients' magic: The Ancients hatred. The Ancients desire to strike back at the creation of what their the gods who banished them to the void have tried to accomplish on Verra. And so corruption is this influence of The Essence that permeates around locations in the world and tries to pervert what that creation really is.[4]Steven Sharif
  • Corruption was brought to Verra by the Harbingers, which are comet-like celestial bodies powered by a very strong source of magic.[5][6]
What does corruption do as it seeps in through the world? It seeps in a way that's responsive to player progression. So as the nodes develop, as the world becomes more civilized by society, going out and standing up these cities and these nodes and whatnot, corruption responds to that. It is an equal pushback that it's trying to achieve. And it's up to players to thwart the advancement of that corruption through achieving certain story arc quest lines, through killing certain bosses, through, participating in content that relates to that corruption seeping into the world. But corruption is not all bad, because corruption changes spawners and it changes populations and it changes resources that become available- unique resources... So there is a relevance- meaningful component of why that corruption would want to be interacted with from the player's perspective. But it's a push and pull situation. That's really what corruption is intended to provide, push and pull between the advancement of society and what was there that's more feral.[7]Steven Sharif

The Essence

The Essence is a metaphysical energy or life-force (Chi) that can be manipulated to create what could be viewed as magic. There are different planes of existence (realms) with varying degrees of strength (of magic), determined by their proximity to the Essence. The planes of existence in Ashes of Creation are connected across bridges created by the Essence, referred to as Rivers of Essence.[20][21][6]

The higher up you go in these planes, the closer to the source of the Essence you really are. And that's where you can see stronger manifestations of the magical aspects of the Essence.[20]Steven Sharif
The essence is a stream that exists across all planes of existence, but it exists at different levels of strength essentially at different levels that can be utilized; and the void is the furthest... There is a very minute amount of essence that can be found within the void. However the planes of existence that are in Ashes of Creation- they are connected across bridges created by the essence. So these ley-lines in a sense that exist within the different planes provide conduits of access and on Verra, which was a planet that was made after the ancient- the celestial battle.[6]Steven Sharif

Souls (also referred to as Mortal coils) are the conduits for The Essence to travel between the different planes of existence. This idea is an integral component of the broader features in the storyline.[22][20][21]

When you think about souls being a conduit, what are conduits used for? Conduits are passages: they're methods by which Essence can travel between realms, between planes. And there hasn't been any definitive understanding of just how many planes exist. We understand that there is a disparity between the planes when it comes to their connection to the Essence, and because Essence is so powerful; and it flows through these planes almost like a river. You can think that conduits help to maintain that flow and/or even exaggerate the flow; and there might be something at play, that I don't wanna touch necessarily, as to why one would want to create these types of conduits, these souls, this creation on the material plane: Something of significance.[21]Steven Sharif
  • The Essence is so powerful it flows through the planes almost like a river. Soul conduits help to maintain or even exaggerate this flow.[20][21]
Souls acting as conduits is a very integral component of some broader features in the storyline. If you think about souls being a conduit for Essence and you think of the gods as masters of the Essence: If you think of the Essence being separate from the Gods- let's say they're parallel to each other- one didn't create the other, but they coexist in this almost symbiotic form with one another: almost to the point where their manipulation of the Essence is perfection: They can perfectly manipulate it and lesser beings- and I say 'lesser' in a sense of their alignment or closeness to Essence. They're still perfecting that manipulation and some never achieve perfection almost to the degree of ascendency or enlightenment- Essence being that sort of Chi that exists. In that regard, when a perfect being such as the gods- and I'm not saying 'perfect' as the correlation between sin and not sin, I'm thinking perfect in the sense of how you can control and manipulate the Essence: That control is perfection for them.[21]Steven Sharif
  • The gods are masters of the Essence, but they are separate from it. One didn't create the other, but they exist together in a symbiotic form where the gods have achieved an almost perfect manipulation of the Essence and of "lesser beings" who exist further from the Essence.[20][21]
One of the great differentiators between mortal divine races and the gods is that aspect of mortality. And one of the ways that the divine races were created in order to interact with the Essence was through the use of a mortal coil; and that mortal coil was malleable. Your soul was malleable. It could change to adopt a greater connection with the Essence around one particular school of magic perhaps, or one type of magic that you might use Essence for. And the more you experienced that, the more adept you became with utilizing that magic. And that's because your coil would start to mold itself to best facilitate that flow of essence: whatever school of magic you were manipulating with it.[20]Steven Sharif
  • King Atrax was the first ruler of Verra to discover the purpose of The Essence, allowing the manipulation of matter and exploitation of magic for any means.[23]
When you have the story of the original Ancients, the predecessor race to the divine races, their coil began to warp and change to best facilitate Essence through the use of corruption and corrupt magic, because it was in their history that they learned the most powerful use- or at least what they believed was the most powerful use of Essence was, through corrupt magic. And that's what allured them towards it. So to give you better context about why that conduit is so important is as your base character, as your core archetype continually learns and manifests things in the world of Verra through the use of the Essence. It will continue to shape and change its conduit towards that purpose.[20]Steven Sharif
  • The Tulnar have souls and these souls act as conduits for the Essence.[24]
Now, how does the soul act as a conduit to the other races, to the other realms? Remember, that Essence is like a river that flows through the planes; and when it touches mortal coils that use it in a certain way, it has reverberations throughout the river that is felt across the planes. And that's how important the divine races are when it comes to the war over their soul, so to speak, is what impact it has across the universe.[20]Steven Sharif
  • The player population are more adept at wielding The Essence on Verra than certain sections of the NPC population (commoners), however some NPCs are far more adept at The Essence than players.[22]
    • Part of the interest of darker forces is to manipulate those who are adept at wielding The Essence.[22]
Q: What is the average person on Verra's experience with The Essence? Is everybody using The Essence in the same way, or is this something that's more like a rare gift that us as journeymen heroes have some sort of innate ability to tap into?
A: The relationship of Essence with the common folk, the NPCs that you see around you, is that certain people within this world have a greater ability to focus Essence into stronger effects, AKA magic; and generally among the player population you are all stronger wielders of Essence as a whole, and capable of achieving great things with it. While everyone has some attunement with Essence, because each has a mortal coil, amongst the Divine races not all of them excel in its use or study; and so those more commoner people that you might see in the NPCs and narrative and dialogue and what not, many of them are not going to be as adept with the use of Essence. It doesn't mean that they couldn't be if they tried, it means that they are not adept at using it. But, you'll also see certain characters that are NPC non-player characters that are above and beyond any player character's ability to use it. So, the idea is that Essence flows through this plane. It flows through this universe and the Divine races have a unique relationship with Essence when it comes to wielding it; and oftentimes that's the interest of the darker forces in manipulating that relationship.[22]Steven Sharif
  • Shape-shifting (changeling) is done so through the Essence by focusing on that specific type of magic.[25]

Blood magic

Effects of Blood magic near the Tower of Carphin.[27]

Blood magic is a school of magic that creates a certain amount of corruption in the caster. This corruption can bleed over into the environment and other things that the caster draw Essence from in order to cast these spells.[28][29]

  • The curse of Carphin was born from blood magic.[30] This began with the blood sacrifice of Veric Pulsifer by Laria Lemonte, which started a ritual that led to the mass killing of the residents of Carphin, turning them undead.[31]
  • The ability to wield blood magic might be considered "illegal" by certain lawful citizens and nations of Verra. There may be ramifications when players discover and experience blood magic in the world.[28]
When we say that blood magic is "illegal", we're talking about in the context of a normal everyday player who's a citizen of Verra having come from Sanctus. You are adhering to the local laws and guidance from nation governments and/or node governments to be a good upstanding citizen of Verra. You adhere to these laws. The ability to wield blood magic might be seen in some storylines we'll see. That is left to the players to experience and discover. Those types of choices might have ramifications on your character and or ramifications within story lines... Whether players will be able to wield blood magic is up to the different story lines you all explore.[28]Steven Sharif
When we talk about how do we create a blood corruption setting, well what is the associated colors, what's the shape language of blood magic. This flowing river- you saw some of them in the VFX of the zone and Carphin- you saw the mist in the deep red saturation. Each of the environments and the magics and what we create has an associated style guide that includes color wheels and palettes across different influences.[28]Steven Sharif

Corrupted areas

Alpha-2 corrupted area in the Riverlands biome.[32]

We just saw a corrupt zone and that zone becomes corrupt after a period of time in which players are not addressing some issues that arise through certain events or through certain story arcs; and that corruption can spread and corruption changes the spawners for resources and for monsters; and that has a fundamental effect on the resource economy of the game.[33]Steven Sharif

Corrupted areas (zones/points of interest) can dynamically evolve with the progression of nodes and story arcs.[33][7][11][13][12][34][9]

  • These are sources of NPC events that players need to address before they grow out of hand.[33][35][34]
    • Players need to participate in these events to stop the spread of corruption and hold back the intrusion on the material plane.[33][10]
    • If players fail to address these corrupted areas, the frequency of NPC events against their node will increase. These can lead to node buildings and services being disabled, increasing the node's vulnerability to node sieges.[36]
It can be a very detrimental thing if corruption is not addressed; and that's the intent of corruption, is to present a challenge to the players that if not addressed it becomes exacerbated and a problem over time.[36]Steven Sharif
To degree your mortal coil, as we call it, or what some might consider a soul from your character's perspective within this story- can be influenced and can be changed into a shape that's more in tune with corruption; and that's through doing PvP things you can accomplish that.[4]Steven Sharif
When it enters the corruption state outside of weather, in that corrupt state, you will probably see a little bit less of the influence of the season because really it's adopting that corruption, which in-and-of-itself is a season.[37]Steven Sharif

Corrupted resources

Corrupted resources are variations of resources that are found in corrupted areas or during certain story arcs.[7][16][17][18]

We saw over the course of the last few months different types of resources that have altered states when corruption is present and it becomes a corrupt version of itself, which is a necessary component for certain types of crafting endeavors as well. So there is a relevance- meaningful component of why that corruption would want to be interacted with from the player's perspective.[7]Steven Sharif

The Wreckage of Carphin

The Wreckage of Carphin zone.[38]

Carphin was a large city of the Aelan Empire, which housed the Empire’s most prestigious university. At the university stood a tall tower used by the most prolific mages in their studies of the essence. That tower now serves as an expansive vertical dungeon with lost treasures and antiquities fraught with dangers and terror not for the faint of heart.[39]Steven Sharif

The Wreckage of Carphin is a zone in the Riverlands biome.[38]

  • The Wreckage of Carphin is the area surrounding the Tower of Carphin dungeon. The Wreckage caters for groups of three to five players, whereas the Tower is intended for full parties.[40]
Carphin is broken up as a hunting area into two primary sections: There is the tower itself and then there is the wreckage of the city in which Carphin existed beneath. Now, the beneath section is the wreckage itself, is generally catering towards groups of three to five players. So it's not so much a solo area, but it is an area where you might go with a few friends. But if you went with a full party then maybe your kill rate needs to be really high; and there's a few sections that are in the wreckage area that could support that, but not the entire wreckage. Okay, so that's an important distinction to keep in mind when thinking about the dungeon itself. The tower is intended for full parties and there are I believe five levels above the base level, so six total levels that are playable; and each of those levels will support anywhere from three to four groups essentially, so it is a relatively large structure: a vertical dungeon that we're expecting groups to spend a lot of time in.[40]Steven Sharif
Carphin was one of the great cities of the Aelan Empire and it's now in ruins.[38]Jeremy Gess
It was a focus of the mages and study of the Aelan Empire. Carphin was a city that had a great mage population, so it had a university there. And things went bad there in the last days of the fall. They made some desperate measures in a really awesome quest series that Scott's written up.[44]Jeremy Gess
We've talked a lot about how corruption- this red influence and the use of how this evil-esque type of magic influences the world around you; and this is a great example in the city of Carphin where you can see how a variant of that corruption- blood magic variant has its own style guide, its own indication of what is going on in this area... In Alpha-1 you saw a few of that- a couple places for the corruption influences back in '21, but it's a large part of how these zones adapt and can change around. Corruption is always trying to encroach on civilization.[8]Steven Sharif

The Tower of Carphin

The Blood Still Due story arc unlocking at The Tower of Carphin.[13]

A very terrible curse is remaining here after a desperate spell was cast during the Harbinger apocalypse. You saw a bit of that spell being replayed at the top of the tower there. But when the ancients were advancing toward the Aelan capital, where Carphin is strategically positioned, between where the Harbinger comet landed and the Aelan capital, the mages here- and Carphin was known throughout the empire for its magical prowess- the head mage here did a very desperate and dangerous spell to slow the Ancients' advance.[45]Skott B

The Tower of Carphin bridge.[46]

The story arc helped this bridge form. This bridge might also appear if you've leveled up Miraleth enough to create this pathway. Otherwise there's other ways to get there, but more dangerous ways.[47]Jeremy Gess

The Tower of Carphin is an open-world dungeon in the Wreckage of Carphin zone.[40][48]

  • This is the largest dungeon in the Riverlands biome and is a major quest hub for Alpha-2.[49]
  • The Tower of Carphin dungeon is a vertical dungeon with six levels. It is catered toward accommodating three or four full parties at the same time.[40]
    • The developers expect groups to claim sections of a particular level rather than moving between levels.[40]
The tower is intended for full parties and there are I believe five levels above the base level, so six total levels that are playable; and each of those levels will support anywhere from three to four groups essentially, so it is a relatively large structure: a vertical dungeon that we're expecting groups to spend a lot of time in. And it's not intended that the groups go between levels. It's intended that they find a level and they carve out a section of that level that they're going to be hunting in; and then another group's going to be near them and maybe there's going to be some friction because they keep pulling mob from your section and you're like, "Hey what the hell dude, get the hell out of my section", and they're like "No, you're gonna die now!"[40]Steven Sharif

Laria Lemonte

Laria Lemonte 3D turntable.[51][50]

Laria Lemonte is a powerful wizard who has unfortunately gone down a dark path.[51]

Laria Lemonte, Head Mistress at Carphin University, was one of the most important mages in the Aelan Empire at the time of the fall. Heeding advice from an unknown origin, she engaged in desperate and dark acts in a fruitless attempt to save the Aelan capital city Aela from destruction.[52]

  • The blood sacrifice of Veric Pulsifer began a ritual that led to the mass killing of the residents of Carphin, turning them undead.[31]
The curse of Carphin was born from blood magic.[30]Steven Sharif
  • The unknown voice who was aiding and abetting her pursuits was the same Ancient that perverted King Atrax from beyond the void.[53]
  • The corrupt mist flowing from the tower did delay the legions of the Ancients in their progress toward the capital until they constructed an apparatus to allow them to cross the river.[31]

The fall

Concept art showing the citizens of Verra escaping a besieged city through a divine gateway.[54]

In Ashes of Creation there is a primary antagonist that exists within the overarching storyline and these antagonists are The Ancients. When the Apocalypse occurred and the Harbingers arrived in on Verra and those conduits opened from the center of those Harbingers, the Ancients flowed out of these Harbingers and started really conquering the Verran planet. But more importantly their desire was to essentially manipulate and pervert the creation of the gods as an affront to their endeavors; and in doing so they created monstrosities essentially any portion of nature just was completely manipulated by their corruption, which is the negative aspect of Essence.[2]Steven Sharif

Long ago, the world of Verra was besieged by a great calamity (also called the Fall, the Apocalypse, and the Exodus), brought about by the primary antagonists of the world: The Ancients and The Others.[2][55]

  • The apocalypse began with comet-like celestial bodies called Harbingers arriving on Verra. The Ancients flowed out of the conduits that opened at the center of the Harbingers and started conquering the planet.[2]
  • Their desire was to pervert the creation of the gods (the Seven) as an affront to their endeavors; and in doing so they created monstrosities by manipulating nature with corruption, which is the negative aspect of The Essence.[2][3]

Granted by divine intervention from the Goddess of Creation[56], much of the population fled Verra through towering gateways, seeking refuge in a world void of magic.[54] The world of Sanctus.[57]

Soon after the exodus, the gateways dimmed and became dormant. Centuries turned to millennia, burying them beneath myriad calamities. Over eons, history became legend, then even the great legends were at last forgotten.[54]

The Tulnar is a combination of four major races and many minor races that were left behind on Verra after the apocalypse.[60][61][62]

The Harbingers

Dillia's diary concept art.[63]

The Ancients and The Others they found their way to Verra at some point and they came through what we call the Harbingers, which are essentially these celestial bodies- these almost comet-like structures that were traveling through space to find the location of the new creation; and within those harbingers is a very strong source of magic that essentially acts as a bridge between the Void and the Material plane where Verra exists.[6]Steven Sharif

The Harbingers are comet-like celestial bodies powered by a very strong source of magic that essentially acts as a bridge between The Void and the Material plane where Verra exists.[6]

  • The worst thing the Harbingers bought to Verra was corruption, which twists and distorts everything it touches.[5]
The worst thing that the Harbingers brought was not the Others, but the corruption that they spread. It twists and distorts everything it touches. It whispers in the ears of men, and guides their hands toward terrible ends. There does not seem a means to stop it - our prayers do nothing, our spells are ineffectual. The awful truth is that the Others could simply watch as we burned Verra to ash ourselves.[5]

See also


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  3. 3.0 3.1 Ashes of Creation - A world with consequences.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Livestream, March 31, 2023 (54:22).
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Week 1, entry 1.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 Livestream, November 8, 2020 (0:00:00).
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  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Livestream, March 31, 2023 (53:30).
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Livestream, March 26, 2021 (22:53).
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Livestream, November 8, 2020 (12:47).
  11. 11.0 11.1 skotty-story-arc-2.png
  12. 12.0 12.1 Video, March 31, 2023 (3:32).
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Video, March 31, 2023 (1:22).
  14. Video, April 5, 2018 (35:01).
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  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Video, March 31, 2023 (16:42).
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 skotty-story-arc-1.png
  19. Interview, July 9, 2023 (49:48).
  20. 20.00 20.01 20.02 20.03 20.04 20.05 20.06 20.07 20.08 20.09 20.10 Livestream, April 7, 2023 (16:42).
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 21.5 21.6 Podcast, November 15, 2020 (36:29).
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 Podcast, May 10, 2024 (1:02:32).
  23. Livestream, November 8, 2020 (00:49).
  24. Podcast, November 15, 2020 (40:24).
  25. Podcast, November 15, 2020 (42:22).
  26. Video, October 31, 2023 (5:06).
  27. Video, March 31, 2023 (13:13).
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 28.4 Livestream, April 7, 2023 (1:11:14).
  29. Video, March 31, 2023 (10:51).
  30. 30.0 30.1 steven-curse-of-carphin.png
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 Transcript, November 5, 2022 (23:24:07).
  32. Video, November 30, 2023 (29:26).
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 33.4 33.5 Video, November 30, 2023 (32:36).
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  35. Livestream, June 25, 2021 (1:13:30).
  36. 36.0 36.1 Livestream, January 28, 2022 (1:17:12).
  37. 37.0 37.1 Livestream, March 31, 2023 (58:27).
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 Video, September 30, 2022 (9:29).
  39. steven-carphin.png
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 40.3 40.4 40.5 Podcast, May 10, 2024 (10:16).
  41. Video, March 31, 2023 (12:19).
  42. Livestream, November 3, 2018 (0:05:24).
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  44. Video, September 30, 2022 (9:59).
  45. 45.0 45.1 Video, March 31, 2023 (7:41).
  46. Twitter - Only a courageous adventurer would be daring enough to explore the Wreckage of Carphin!
  47. Video, March 31, 2023 (8:57).
  48. roshen-carphin.png
  49. Livestream, March 31, 2023 (49:50).
  50. 50.0 50.1 Livestream, February 24, 2023 (1:01:33).
  51. 51.0 51.1 Twitter - Laria Lemonte is a powerful wizard.
  52. Transcript, November 5, 2022 (23:09:23).
  53. Transcript, November 5, 2022 (23:27:19).
  54. 54.0 54.1 54.2 Unreal Engine Interview, 23 May 2017.
  55. Interview, July 19, 2020 (50:10).
  56. Interview, July 20, 2020 (13:33).
  57. Interview, April 20, 2018 (5:46).
  58. Livestream, September 27, 2018 (6:22).
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  62. Kickstarter $2,500,000 New Player Race Achieved.
  63. Dillias diary.
  64. Livestream, November 8, 2020 (11:48).