The World of Verra is a complicated place. With all the unique rules and mechanics that will be coming with Ashes of Creation, it is important for players to understand several key terms and mechanics with how the world is divided, before jumping into the Node System. From a purely mechanical perspective the world of Verra is 480 km² with an additional 100km² of Underrealm. It has been asked how much of that 480 km² is land and how much is water, but no answer was given. The answer we did receive was 100% of the map (right) is playable area. There will be activities, events, creatures, etc. in the water to deal with, making the water just as important as the land masses. There are several key terms and ideas regarding the divisions of Verra, so it is important to start with those.
At launch, the world will be divided into five regions. These regions are fixed and static, they are not influenced by player actions and they do not move, bend, or shift. The Castle represents the leadership of that castle region, and the guild leader of the guild who controls the castle is the ruling monarch of the region. This means that all players residing in a region will be beholden to a player character monarch. The monarch has some governmental powers including the ability to levy taxes on all the Nodes in their region. The majority of that money goes to the Castle and Regional development, but a small portion of it can be removed by the Guild Leader for personal use.
When the game begins there will be 103 Zones of Influence (ZOI) filling the world. There is nowhere you can go on the map that is not governed by a ZOI. These ZOI lead to the development of Nodes, for as players do anything that accumulates XP for the player, they also accumulate XP inside that ZOI that can lead to the development of a Node. Inside each Node is 2-3 different locations where a Node can spawn, if the conditions are right. Unlike Castle Regions that are fixed and static, ZOI are fluid and will move, bend, and twist around the map depending on the Stage that their governing Node is at. Intrepid has already told us that we will not know the algorithm behind the ZOI movement, they want to ensure no gamesmanship happens.
I am going to be doing a much deeper dive into Nodes, in fact Nodes have their own section and several videos dedicated to them because the Node System is one of the key defining systems in Ashes of Creation. For the short and simple introduction Nodes are the Centers of Civilization you will find in Verra. I have used the term “Centers of Civilization” because other terms like Village, Town, or City are inappropriate as these terms are specific states in the development of Nodes.
In Verra there are a total of 118 functioning inside the traditional node system and 15 special nodes that function inside the Castle System with their own rulesets. Clear and distinct definitions will be done in the Nodes Chapter. When the players first arrive in Verra they will find only the starter areas developed, the rest of the world is a blank slate. Until the players earn XP in ZOIs to force the development on Nodes, there is nothing out in the wilderness.
All of the races will start at one of the four Divine Gateways. While these gateways have racial styles, players are not restricted to a particular starting gate; they will get to choose their starting area so they can link up with their friends at character creation.
Just outside of these divine gates are starting base camps that will resemble what players are used to in MMORPGs. There will be limited services and things to do here to help the players get their feet under them. After that, the players will move around the world and work to develop different Nodes.