Sunday, January 5, 2020

In Memoriam: Cloudrat

In the years between the closure of our original, launch-era home, Steamfont , and the opening of the game's first Free to Play server, Freeport, Mrs Bhagpuss and I played almost all our EverQuest II on the Test server. It was a small community, insular even, and it was exceedingly difficult to avoid learning the names and at least something about the personalities of almost everyone who played there.

One of the most active and vocal members of the community was Cloudrat. She was always around, usually building or decorating some house or other, often offering advice and assistance, sometimes chiding, usually encouraging. I thought of her as a Test local but over time it became apparent she played on just about every server.

Long after I stopped playing regularly on Test I could still hear her chatting away on the cross-server Test Channel. When SOE added Leaderboards for housing her name began to appear prominently in the lists of award-winning houses, not because of her amazing decorating skills but because she worked tirelessly to install fully-functioning public transport hubs wherever she played.

Cloudrat's Dojo is a small, two-room house stuffed to overflowing with just about every portal and transport device ever added to the game. You can go from there to pretty much anywhere. Whenever something's happening in some obscure corner of Norrath - a guide event in Cardin Ward, for example, or the recent Heroes Festival event in Obol Plains - and someone asks plaintively in General chat how to get there the answer, likely as not, will be "Use Cloudrat's Dojo".

I'd noticed back in the Autumn, playing a lot more EQII this year as I had been, that I'd not heard her in chat for a while. I wondered if she'd finally had enough of the game, as even the most dedicated players eventually may.

It also crossed my mind that she might no longer be well enough to play, or even that she might no longer be with us at all. As long as I'd known her, she'd always been unwell, in some unspecified manner that she'd mention but not dwell on. MMORPGs do tend to become homes and playgrounds for those whose options in the physical world are limited and both EQII's Test server and its housing community have historically attracted more than the average number of such players.

When this Winter's Frostfell update arrived at the beginning of December, one of the new items was a Ratonga Tree Topper Plushie, ideal for placing on the highest branches of one of the game's many seasonal trees. Being a huge fan of both Frostfell and ratongas, almost the very first thing I did to clebrate the season was to buy one.

As soon as I examined my Tree Topper I exclaimed out loud "That's Cloudrat!". She'd long had a signature look: a tiny, honey-colored ratonga, reduced to the smallest possible size (which in EQII is very small indeed), dressed entirely in flowing white with a circlet of flowers on her head and fairy wings to carry her on her travels.

The Tree Topper was her to a tee. I was as sure then as I could be that Cloudrat had levelled up, ascended, passed on.

Sure enough, over the next few days several people asked the question in chat and those who knew her much better than I ever did confirmed she'd died during the summer. Someone at Daybreak had taken the trouble to immortalize her in the game she'd loved (and found infuriating) for so long.

I went back to the goblin vendor and bought ten of her effigies but it wasn't until today that I got around to placing some of them. My Berserker keeps two Frostfell trees, year round, in the entrance hall to his Maj`Dul Mansion. Both of them now have a small, white, winged ratonga at the very top.

He also maintains a Frostfell crafting area at his Mara Estate, where he and all his imaginary friends come to craft. Cloudrat's avatar looks down on the crafting tables there, smiling.

I hope she'll be happy there. I hope she's happy, wherever she is. She wasn't Aradune but she had an impact on Norrath that won't soon be forgotten. Norrath remembers its own.


  1. Truly touching post. Thanks much for sharing it!

  2. That made me tear up. Poor Cloudrat; may she be remembered.

  3. Thanks for the post!

    Rest in peace, Cloudrat.

  4. Thanks for posting that before the vendor packed up for the year. I was able to go grab a few. I couldn't get it to sit as a tree topper, but a Cloudrat guard of honor now flanks the tree in my house.

    1. Yes, I kind of expected from the name that it would latch to the tree somehow but it doesn't. It took me a good deal of fiddling about with the Decorator Mode to get it to sit where it should, but then that says as much about my decoratng skills as anything.


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