Hail, Ahopaho, and congrats on making your first post on our forums! We're glad to have you :)
As other members of our community have said, Chronicles of Elyria is still in pre-alpha development. Nothing playable for the community has been released yet, but we do plan on giving you guys three pre-alpha experiences to.. well, experience!
They're opportunities for players to jump into some form of the game as early as possible - even before alpha - to provide feedback, community engagement, player investment in the world's history, and to temper expectations by providing everyone with a pretty strong impression of what will and what won't be making it into the game at launch.
As you might guess from the name, the Pre-Alpha Experiences are just that, pre-alpha. As a result, they're very early iterations on many of the mechanics. We'll be rolling ElyriaMUD, Prologue, and KoE out first to the Alpha 1 backers, then Alpha 2, then Beta, then Beta 2, and finally to those people who've purchased only the basic game.
Note that events in ElyriaMUD and KoE only become official once it's rolled out to all paid players. The earlier waves/releases are for testing and stabilisation.
Consequently, that is also the timeline for the various releases leading up to hard launch, and there are no publicly projected release dates yet for any of them. Once we've reached a stage of development where we can estimate with confidence a date of release, we'll let you know!
1. Pre-alpha experiences ◃ Where we are now
2. Alpha 1 (aka Closed Alpha, under NDA) wiped
3. Alpha 2 (aka Open Alpha) wiped
4. Beta 1 (aka Closed Beta, under NDA) wiped
5. Beta 2 (aka Open Beta) wiped
6. Exposition (aka the world-building phase)
The Exposition is an early access period of 3 months before launch where the goal, while partly to build conflict, story, and unfolding events, is also about giving early players an opportunity to build out a flourishing world. This way, players that enter the game at launch aren't coming into a world dominated by NPCs and title-holders scrambling to get their areas developed how they want them to be.
A Spark of Life is a lifespan, which depending upon your style of play may offer you three months of play to thirteen. The more recklessly you throw yourself into situations that rip your soul from your body, the more difficult it becomes for your soul to make its way back to its mortal shell... until eventually, it can't anymore.
This is permadeath.
However, what you're ultimately playing is your soul. Your experiences carry on through lifetime after lifetime, so long as you choose to provide your soul that spark needed to provide it with the energy required to be reborn into the world once more.
Your possessions can be passed onto your heir, or even hidden away in a remote location somewhere and later dug up by you provided nobody has stumbled across your stash and looted it. In this way, your progress is never truly lost -- your skills will ramp up to where they had been when you Died, allowing you to surpass your predecessor, and you can inherit your parent or grandparent or ancestor's belongings via a will.
However, going back to Death -- do note that different people will have different levels of difficulty finding their way back to their body. The more (in)famous you are, the more impact your death has upon other players and thus the world, which means you won't be able to 'die' as often as an unknown player.
The death of a peasant does not affect as many as the death of a king, for example, or the death of a renown blacksmith, or a farmer whose work sustained the bellies of an entire region. Compare it to a death amongst family or friends vs the death of the president, to name an extreme similar to peasant vs king.