Wings Over Atreia: Hit or myth?

You know they are out there. You hear them -- sometimes whispered in reverence, sometimes shouted by a particularly spazzy groupmate. Whether treated as ancient wisdom or snickered at, they cannot be avoided. But how much do you believe in them?

Superstitions.

Superstitions (myths, legends, folklore) are not by definition bad or even incorrect. In fact, superstitions are another way for a community to bond; shared beliefs go a long way towards creating a cohesive group. Every culture has superstitions, and gaming -- a unique culture, but a culture nonetheless -- is no different. And each game has its own unique collection of folklore. Whether they consist of avoiding specific loot, crafting with a full DP bar, or something almost whimsical (such as turning around in a full circle before my second attempt at Miragent's leggings), Aion is full of little snippets specific to the world of Atreia.

What superstitions are prevalent in Aion today and just how much truth do they hold? Knock on wood and cross over the break to check it out.

I know that for some people, cold hard facts rule. We will call these folks the Vulcans, as they demand logical sequences for everything: If I do A, then B will be the result. But this just isn't how it is for most humans (or Daevas). If this were the case, then why is gambling so popular and some states fund their education systems using lotteries? It is because many people love to take a chance; they get a rush from beating (or just attempting to beat) the odds. Besides that, I think the world has proven pretty well that after A you might very well find Q, V, and a few Zs before you reach B -- that is, if you even get to B. Even if you don't like taking chances, luck and chance are an integral part of our existence. Superstitions are one way of coping with this.

Many people cannot pass up a chance to increase their luck, especially in a game such as Aion where the random number generator is master of your destiny. More than just something to torture the most gullible with, many game superstitions provide people with the feeling of some measure of control, control wrested right out of the hands of the evil RNG. And in the face of difficult circumstances (can we say expert crafting test? hot heart of magic?), anything that can make you feel more confident about the outcome will be welcome. But how much of a superstition is true and how much is fabrication? Even more so, does it really matter?

Now, the trick to these superstitions is not that they guarantee success, but just that they increase the chance of it -- something a bit harder to prove without collecting hard data and using empirical evidence. Not to long ago, NCsoft introduced Victor Shugo, who began to explore the validity of some of Atreia's entrenched folklore. Hailed as offering a piece of mind to those rational Vulcan-types, the myth breaker articles proposed to hold superstitions up under the piercing gaze of science and declare whether it was indeed a fact or bust it as a mere myth. Personally, I thought the myth breakers were fun... until one was so blatantly, erroneously wrong that it called into question all the so-called "data." Let's take a look at some of the most common superstitions circulating in Aion today, along with the correlating myth-buster rebuttals from NCsoft.

Craft, craft, baby

Crafting superstitions can be the most interesting and the most bizarre. The most common one I hear involves crafting naked. I know more than one person who won't even attempt a critical craft with any clothing on! (I'm talking about the in-game avatar, OK?). Another common one is crafting with a full DP bar. Victor Shugo took on this last superstition and tested it. The conclusion? He declared this myth "BUSTED"!

Another interesting superstition is turning around in a full circle before trying a particularly critical craft -- one that I, admittedly, participated in. Since the result was success, who am I to argue? I can tell you that I will certainly be using it again! Although the whole idea could very well have simply been a joke, since it led to success, a superstition was born.

Lootz

Cursed fragments -- are you cursed for having them? Everyone who has ever deleted or passed up a cursed fragment raise your hand. I thought so. Even if you don't quite believe, many don't want to take the chance. Some brush it off, reasoning that ignoring a few measly kinah for even the hope of a gold weapon drop is worth it. Looking at it this way, is it the dream we are paying for or the actual reward? Perhaps the reward is the feeling of increased hope for a short time.

Now, most of us have also collected and vendored those fragments. We laughed at the silliness of it. But sometimes, you are converted to believer. There we were, slicing and dicing our way through Beshmundir Temple, our loot pickings less than slim -- there was nothing to speak of after I can't even count how many bosses. Then the new guy asked if he should toss out his contaminated items. We had a good laugh and said not to worry about it. But he did anyway. And a gold item dropped. You may call it silly, just coincidence, but there it was. The next group member did the same, and yet another dropped! Chuckling, but hopeful, we asked who was next... and I volunteered. Guess what? The third gold armor piece usable by a group member (me in fact) dropped in a row. At that point, you couldn't convince us that was all coincidence. So the superstition was born to toss out contaminated items one group member at a time.

What does NCsoft -- I mean, Victor Shugo -- have to say about it all? Well, he flat-out debunked the whole idea. Still...

One enchanting evening

I saw you shudder! With the miserable success rate of enchanting and manastone socketing -- and the high price of failure -- many people are more than willing to give these hints/superstitions a try. The following are ones I have heard (and yes, even used):

To increase your odds of success in enchanting a weapon or armor, start by removing the item. Now do a /roll until you succeed in getting three numbers in a row all under 30. Then try to enchant (or socket a manastone). Next, watch the success bar as you socket/enchant. If it pauses, stutters, or appears to catch even for a brief moment, immediately move and stop the process. Same goes for if it takes longer than three counted seconds (in fact, if it cannot complete by the time you say "one" in three one thousand, likewise stop and try again). This method even allows you to start with lower-level stones; I personally was able to successfully enchant a level 50 gold weapon using level 48-54 stones up to +4. My friend used the trick to get her weapon to +10 with no failures! A few in my legion tried this with decent results. After all, level 50 stones are much cheaper than 70s, and any success was worth it. Luck? Perhaps. But I will continue to use these tricks!

NCsoft devs looked into socketing manastones as well. Their results, however, made my faith in the accuracy of the scientific-ish data take a hard nosedive right into the Core. Victor Shugo claims that attack +5 stones have a success rate of 90%. I have personally experienced a far lower success rate -- and I mean far! I have blown out nearly 100 stones trying to socket a measly two items. Yup -- just two. And I have heard worse. I cannot even manage a 66% success rate. Of course, results may vary for others, and everyone already knows the RNG gods really hate me; perhaps I am the last person who should be collecting data! Certainly the testers have some special secret luck-enhancing tricks of their own... do you think they will share?

Then again, when it comes down to it, why should I care about busting the myths? Are these facts as presented any more valid to my gaming than the ones provided by my companions in-game or experienced by myself? Some people will believe superstitions no matter what because they can bring some measure of hope, peace, and control into our gaming which is otherwise lacking. Who am I to bust on hope! The main point is that superstitions can be a bit of fun that gives people a common experience to share. Though there are some rabid believers out there (ever been threatened to be kicked from a group for looting that cursed item?), overall individual results vary and depend on the experiences of those closest to you.

While we presented some of the more common superstitions here, there are many more personal ones. What is the most outlandish superstition you have heard? What do you practice for good luck? Share yours (or even a friend's) in the comments below!

Soaring through the Aionosphere, MJ Guthrie touches down weekly to bring you Wings Over Atreia. Featuring tips, guides, and general snippets of life in Aion, the column is better than Tutty-on-a-stick, ackackackackackack! Have a suggestion to share? No need to bribe a Shugo -- just send mail to mj@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.