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Archive for February, 2011

This week saw a trip to the City of Mist, a dungeon introduced along with The Ruins of Kunark, EQ’s first expansion which debuted back in 2000.

Astonishingly, many denizens of the Kunark-era dungeons are so tough that they can even chew through a current-era (read: way overgeared for the content) tank mercenary. How anyone ever contended with them at the time is kind of beyond me. It’s possible that the encounters were re-balanced at some point to account for current gear, but it doesn’t really seem to me like any of the other older content was rebalanced in this way.

However! The denizens of City of Mist seemed pretty normal difficulty-wise and it was a successful trip. I even got to leave by the front door instead of getting an express ticket back to my bind point.

Look upon my works...

I’ve also made a few trips this week to the frost giant fort of Kael Drakkel for fun and profit. Fighting these guys is supposed to net good faction with the Claws of Veeshan, but I don’t know if I’ve iced enough of them to travel without risking the ire of some testy dragons. I’m not sure there’s an easy way to check, either.

Next time: druidic landscaping?

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Return to Castle Mistmoore

This week, Leafkin and I decided to pay a visit to Castle Mistmoore and say hello to the vampires. This was a fun trip for me because I’d never actually made it into the castle proper, so I was pretty excited to finally have a chance to explore it.

The front yard of the castle: the only part of the dungeon I'd really seen before.

There is only one entrance to the zone, which also means one exit. Back in the day it was pretty common to see a huge pile of player corpses right inside the zone entrance, poor unfortunates who couldn’t manage to get out of the way in time when someone came barreling for the exit with a horde of angry vampires and gargoyles in tow. (Why, no I never got trained in this very spot by an idiot bard who never once apologized or seemed to care, why do you ask?)

Oddly enough the toughest fight of the night actually took place in the front yard, against this not very nice lady, who messed us up a bit badly with the Thousand Vampire Punches of Mana Draining. We prevailed however, and probably stole some armor from her, and moved farther onto the manor. Naturally, we happened upon a graveyard in short order. Can’t have vampires without graves, right?

I dare not even speculate what this is about.

There were no shortage of guards posted, but there definitely was a shortage of witty banter. The castle denizens need better dialogue writers…

So, wait, I'm confused: what is it you don't want me to do, again?

The interior of the castle is very distinctive, its stone walls decorated here and there with portraits of dark elf nobles or blood red tapestries. Since it’s a creepy vampire lair of course there are false walls and other confusing architectural elements. This is one of the early dungeons constructed with very narrow passageways — clearly not intended for playing in third person view. Having a limited camera angle ratchets up the spookiness. My mushroom merc got so scared, he turned yellow. Or maybe he really needed to take a break but didn’t want to tell me.

A hired fungus turned yellow.

Poor little guy.

We finished up the night with a trip to the vampire lord Mayong Mistmoore’s place of rest, but he didn’t make an appearance. Maybe it was too early in the day for him?

Interior decoration by Evil Pottery Barn.

Up next: Kunark mobs are broken.

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Baywatch this ain’t

So, I made it onto Fippy on day one, but I didn’t get my screenshots.

I rolled a half-elf bard with Qeynos citizenship, intending to run straight out into the newbie yard glory in the chaos and killstealing drama. In my haste and excitement, I misstepped and fell into the pond which conceals the entrance to the Catacombs. Try as I might, I couldn’t seem to get out of the water. (Aside: I wasn’t the only one who had this experience.) Okay, no problem, I thought, I’ll just swim over to the other side of the pond and try over there where the ledge looks shallower.

Easier said than done. Now I know fully well that a brand new character with no swimming skill moves slowly in the water, but I wasn’t really prepared for how slowly.  After falling into the pool, my little bard was still in an upright position (treading water?) rather than a swimming posture, for some reason, so this probably complicated things. I set off for the far side of the pool…

And three tooth-grinding minutes later, reached it.

At this point I lost my will to live so I just camped and decided to try again later.

After being reminded that going into first-person and using page up to tip the camera helps immensely when attempting to climb back onto land, my second attempt was successful.

Like the food court at the mall.

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GRRRRR! BARK!

Fippy Darkpaw is live and everyone’s abuzz! In theory, at least.

My plan was to pop in and take a few poignant screenshots of the carnage, but then this happened:

An unknown error occurred while trying to join the server.

Sad trombone.

For the full multimedia experience, load this in a new tab.

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The theme this week was exploration — visiting some favorite old spots and blazing a trail to some new ones.

It’s been really fun to revisit the icy zones of Velious, especially since wandering aggro (& there is a lot of it) doesn’t mean certain, miserable death in this day and age. In ye olde days of yore, I remember crossing a lot of zones by hugging the wall in order to avoid random aggressive monsters at all costs. No more of that foolishness! Well, not outside of Kithicor forest, anyway.*

* To my chagrin, it seems the undead legions that used to appear only in the dead of night in Kithicor are now up all of the time; not only that, but there are daredevil zombie legionnaires who will drop down out of the trees to deliver a beatdown. I’m not sure if this is by design or if they just path all wrong and get stuck up there. In either case, hugging the wall in Kith forest is futile, you will be pounded into a thin paste.

No Snuggie, No Service

I always enjoyed the dwarven city of Thurgadin, and the icy bridge into the city proper looks just as awesome today as it did years ago. I tried to skate across as quickly as possible, hoping not to slide too much and get stuck underneath. Didn’t pay a visit to my old pal the butcher, though — maybe another time.

Another thing I had been looking forward to was finally exploring the moon of Luclin. I picked up the Shadows of Luclin expansion back when it first came out (late 2001?), but by that time, I’d mostly abandoned EQ for Dark Age of Camelot. I never explored any of the Luclin zones beyond the newbie yard outside Shar Vhal. All for the best, because it meant I had a lot of new terrain to see in the present day.

The first thing I noticed was that the local wildlife manages somehow to be both totally off-the-wall and uninspired at the same time.

Not even his mother loved him.

This little guy is probably my favorite monster from Luclin (so far, anyway) — he definitely made me laugh. Some other odd beasts are baboon-looking “wolves” with huge ears, man-eating sunflowers, sun vampires (SOE beat you to it Stephanie Meyer, I’m sorry), “plerg phlargs” (ugh, really?), and weird little gray pygmies that babble like Nibbler if you get close enough to listen.

And then there was this guy.

I don't know.

I managed to visit a lot of the Luclin zones but didn’t make it to The Grey, an outdoor zone that has no oxygen. Before you say “Holy annoying, Batman!” I have to admit that I though this was kind of clever and novel. It’s on my to-do list!

Last stop on the reunion tour was Kunark. Once upon a time, I spent what felt like eons camping with my group outside Karnor’s Castle in the Dreadlands, painstakingly wearing drolvargs down one by one with five minutes of meditating to recover mana in between, assuming we didn’t get adds or the opponent landed a lucky crit and everything went sideways. Karnor’s was a pretty  high-end dungeon at that time, and I remember hearing stories of achiever guilds competing against each other to get to the boss first in order to loot some quest item that (I think) was needed for one of the epics. I wasn’t a part of that world so I don’t really know. I was just trying to eke my way to level 43, picking off trash on the outskirts like a peasant.

The Dreadlands is not a busy zone these days, not at all. It was deserted when I was there. It wasn’t sad for me, though — I had a lot of fun looking around without fearing too much about getting killed in a bad spot. The zone is a lot emptier (of monsters) than I remembered. Vast stretches of the snow-covered mountain were bare of any trace of life. Running across on horseback was really pretty fun — dare I say exhilarating? — and finishing up with a visit to the Burning Woods was even better.

The Burning Woods scared the stuffing out of me once, dark as it is and filled with trees whose low-hanging branches often obscure your vision. Gigantic wurms lurk within, who were so big and terrifying to me that I would actually cover my eyes when following a friend across the landscape. It was nice to finally have some revenge on those terrible lizards after all these years.

Wurmslayers

My night of Kunark exploration concluded with a zone crash, so I made sure to choose “return home” when I logged in the next day, for fear of popping in on top of a very angry dragon and a few sarnak knights.

Coming up: next week the new Progression server Fippy Darkpaw  is due to go live; I have no intention of actively playing there but I may peek in to get a few screenshots of the opening day fervor. I’ve also been meaning to go get my revenge on the brownie village in Lesser Faydark, as well as finally have a chance to get past the yard trash outside Castle Mistmoore. Stay tuned!

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Don’t miss the announcement on EverQuest Players today — former players are welcome back gratis from Feb 10 – Feb 21, so if you’re on the fence about trying your hand at old-style gameplay on the new Fippy Darkpaw server, waffle no more! It won’t cost you anything but the time to patch the game.

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To the Great White North

So our intrepid mage chose to brave the depths of Miragul’s Menagerie, one of the “Lost Dungeons” of Norrath in the frozen northern reaches of Antonica.

The Lost Dungeons expansion was released well after my initial EQ career was done, so this was an all new adventure for me and my first experience with instancing in the game, period. The titular dungeons are actually a set of five themed instances, each of which has 8 – 10 unique maps. Players form up a group, select which dungeon theme to tackle, select from a list of different objective types (kill a boss, kill x monsters, loot x foozles, rescue an NPC), and then commence to jigglin’. In other words, these are City of Heroes-style missions. I am so very, very down with this.

The reasons why I’m a proponent of this type of design really deserve their own post, which I’ll undertake sometime soon. To summarize, I’ll just say that when it’s a question of whether the game should accommodate the player or vice versa, I definitely know which side I’m on, even if it means beating up warehouse after warehouse full of dudes. I can take you on, dudes, just name the warehouse and the time. Actually no, let me do that. I’ll call you.

At the gates.

Miragul, whoever the heck he is, is holed up in some ice caves in Everfrost not far from the Barbarian home city of Halas. It was pretty fun to revisit that zone, which remains in its original form. I have some fond (?) memories of kiting woolly mammoths there, killing them to harvest their tusks which sold well to vendors. My present-day adventuring companion Leafkin undertook a mammoth-hunting expedition as a side mission to see if the lewts were indeed as phat as we recall. At ten platinum pieces each, we had to agree that yes, it still seems like harvesting mammoth ivory is fairly good money for the effort, at least for us broke lowbies.

We chose a “kill x foozles”-type mission for our initial foray, as it seemed most straightforward. There is a bit of a time limit — 90 minutes total from the time the adventure is chosen — so it seemed prudent not to bite off more than we knew we could chew. The denizens inside seemed an entirely appropriate challenge for our group, both level-wise and in terms of the number of them we had to fight at once. The menagerie ranged from ice spiders to lost polar bears to ice golems, to these unfortunate creatures…

"Confused" is putting it delicately.

All signals point to Mr. Miragul being a pretty messed-up dude. There were several confused mutations in the dungeon, a number of which were happy to follow along and fight stuff on behalf of our group, which was kind of neat. Some of them couldn’t be roused, though, which could have been due to a bug or could have been by design — it was impossible to tell.

Putting the smack down.

A good time was had by all, though I think next time it will be more fun to try a boss for a more climactic ending.

Up next: the tower of individually flash-frozen shadow?

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