Monday, June 22, 2020

Count To One Hundred: EverQuest

Things I never thought I'd say in EverQuest:

Ding 100!

It is, of course, all down to the Overseer system introduced back in March. At that time my highest character was a level 93 Magician, a character I'd played the traditional way into the mid-sixties then bumped to 85 with one the many free Heroic upgrade promotions.

From there I leveled her slowly through a combination of Hot Zones, Franklin Teek's missions, Veteran lessons, xp potions and server bonuses. It was steady going for a while, if slow, but by level 93 my options were getting thin.

The hot zones and missions I could handle were giving less and less xp. The next ones up the chain were tough and needed me to learn new zones. In EQ, learning is often freighted with death. Dying, while it doesn't have the sting it once had, still applies a sharp brake to leveling.

What led to me beach at 93 wasn't so much the difficulty as the time. Almost nothing happens quickly in Norrath, other than your demise, should you foolishly try to hurry. People talk blithely about "grinding" xp. If only it were that simple.

First you have to get to the grinding place. These days EQ has ample options for fast travel but they all remind me of flying with a low-cost airline. First you have to travel to your point of departure, be that a Planes of Power "Book", a Combine Spire or the Guild Hall teleporter. Sometimes there's a wait for the device to cycle or a transaction to complete before you can travel.

When you arrive you're likely to be a long way from your final destination. You'll need to run or ride or levitate across hostile territory, avoiding hostile mobs and environmental hazards.

When you do eventually reach the general area you'll need to find the precise spot where you plan to set up camp. If it's a familiar zone it might be quick but if the area's even a little unfamiliar it won't be. You may need to check the pathing of wandering mobs. You might need to split a camp. Chances are you'll need to run or hide, more than once.

If you're doing one of Teek's Tasks, which you will be if you want to maximize your xp, you'll
usually need to move around. He tends to send you to kill mobs that don't cluster. Often he'll have chosen something you can only find deep inside a building or a cave. It will always be filled with hostile creatures you don't need to kill but must to get by.

You'll want to have your thirty minute Lesson running as you kill because it doubles your xp but you'll also want to have it up when your task completes. The big xp is in the reward and it doubles that, too. Or it used to. I vaguely recall they changed that. It often takes longer than half an hour to get the kills you need to finish the task so you have to judge the optimum time to start the clock.

If anything goes wrong.... scratch that... when something goes wrong, you'll have to handle it. If you can't you'll need to make it to a place of safety before it handles you. If you die you should get a rez from your Mercenary, assuming you brought a healer, but you'll lose some xp and a lot of time. If you don't get rezzed, for whatever reason, it's back to the Guild Lobby to get your body summoned and rezzed for a fee by the NPCs there. And then you either quit or start over.

All the time you're out there your buffs are wearing off. You'll have raid-level buffs and so will your merc and your pet, if you use one, because you live in the Guild Lobby, in the dogpile, assuming you have any sense. That's where you start and end every session, so you can keep those buffs refreshed. You have to come back to Plane of Knowledge anyway because Franklin Teek only assigns missions in person and that's where he is.

When I was leveling my Magician this way I'd allow an absolute minimum of an hour to do one thirty-minute Lesson on one of Teek's missions. If things went perfectly that was enough. If something went wrong it could be twice as long to get what I'd come for. I'd usually bail if it looked like that was going to happen, taking whatever xp I'd got and banking it before something else went sour.

If I had time and felt strong, I'd take two or even three tasks, hope to finish all of them before my buffs began to drop. Run the Lesson on the last and get the benefit on all the hand-ins. It rarely worked. I almost never managed three. They come in five level increments, all in different zones. The zones can be on different continents or in different dimensions. The travel time alone was crippling.

Franklin Teek channels Goldilocks. The mission ten levels below is cold. Easy, but it won't give much xp. Five levels below tastes just right. At level? Too hot to be worth the trouble, most times. You'll get burned. Anything above or below those, forget it.

Within that structure, some of the zones he picks will be much harder than others, for all kinds of reasons. Which expansion they're from, what class you're playing, line-of-sight issues, resistances, types of mob, runners, you name it.

The short of it is, soloing in EverQuest isn't hard, it just takes an inordinate amount of planning and concentration. And time. So much time.

Overseer doesn't. Overseer missions take maybe ten minutes to set up, tops. I could do it in five. You can stay in the Guild Lobby so your buffs never fade, not that you need them now. You're not going to be fighting anything. You don't have to move, let alone travel. There's literally no risk so the risk-reward ratio is infinite.

Once you've upgraded your agents to handle the higher quality quests, xp is better than Teek and the Lesson and you didn't have to go anywhere. Every twelve-hour quest gives somewhere between 0.8% and 1.3% of a level. The better-quality quests, more than that. Longer ones, better still.

Running the full ten would nets ten to fifteen per cent of the level, every time, if you pick the ones with the best xp. I always take the recruitment quests that give you more agents. Those don't give xp at all. I've also been taking grey, easy quests while I level up different jobs. Even so, I make 10%  for ten minutes, twice a day. When I've leveled them all and only take the best xp, I should hit 15% a day, maybe twenty.

I've been doing it every day since the feature was added. My target was level 100. I figured I might get there by October but I hadn't reckoned with the way xp ramps up on the better quality quests. At the start I couldn't do those but now I do one or two every day. As my agents improve I'll do more and xp will roll in even faster.

Which is good, because there are stil twenty more levels to go. That could take me another year. I'm not sure I'll have the discipline to keep going every single day but even if I slack off I know I'll get there, sooner or later. What was once a distant fantasy is now just a matter of time.

I guess at some point the Magician will want to try out her new power, somewhere, on something. First. I'll need to upgrade all her spells. And her pets. And her foci. And her gear. Not much point doing any of that yet, not if I'm still leveling. I guess I'll just stay where I am and carry on as I have been, for now.

Ding 100! though. Ding 100!


  1. Congrats! I think I have my ranger sitting around lvl 90 for many of the same reasons you mentioned. The Franklin Teek quests were giving way less xp and it seemed like grouping was the best way forward. My schedule just does not work with grouping these days.

    I have not logged in since they added the Overseer quests for EQ. It does sound like a better system that EQ2's. But to level with nothing but using overseer quests? That does not sound like a lot of fun for me. The overseer system is nice addition for something on the side, but I would not want to play a game where that is main point of logging in.

    1. What I thought I would do would when I got a few levels from Overseer would be to go out and explore/xp in some new zones that used to be too tough. And I still could do that - I just haven't gotten around to it yet. The Overseer system has its own leveling, xp and progression which I've found quite entertaining. If I had it on my Kindle Fire as an EQ-themed mobile game I'd definitely play it. The fact that it levels up my actual EQ character is a huge bonus!

    2. Oh, I see. The leveling the character is just a bonus to it. I should check it out.

      And I always wanted some type of mobile game for EQ/EQ2 that could connect to tradeskill/broker. The overseer system would be great for it.

    3. It has a bunch of other rewards besides xp. You can get crafting mats from many different expansions and there's a currency you can earn to spend at an Overseer vendor. I haven't really looked at that yet. The art on the agents is great - it's re-used from legends of Norrath I think but most of it was new to me. I like collecting new agents just to see the pictures and read the descriptions.

  2. Congrats!! What server do you play on these days?

    The overseer system is really nice, I forget to check it like I should lately.

    1. Mostly I'm on Luclin/Stromm. It was very lucky for me that they merged those two because they were my two main servers at the time. It's quite busy there these days after a quiet spell a couple of years back so I'm hoping there won't be any more name-changes for a while.

  3. I am closing in on 90 based solely on Overseer xp. Not a huge jump from 85, but probably a lot easier than figuring out the spell list once I boosted from 50 to 85.

    1. I'm kind of dreading having to get all the Mage spells and gear her up but also quite looking forward to it. I did go out and get all her main spells at about 97 or 98, when I thought I might go and do some actual fighting but I haven't touched the gear. It's going to be a full weekend job sorting it out and there's not much point doing it and then just standing in the Guild Lobby outleveling it all over again.

      I thought 90 was a pretty good level, by the way. It wasn't until 92ish that I started to struggle a bit.

  4. Congrats!

    Is that list towards the bottom of the post an overview of your agents? If so I'm quite impressed. I know some of those names, like Garanel Rucksif, who's the final boss in The Estate of Unrest in EQII...I'd quite like to know how you persuaded him to do your bidding.

    Also, Everquest has environmental hazards? I didn't know that. Stuff like storms, heat or cold?

    1. Yep, that's a partial list. You'd be amazed who I have working for me now!

      I knew as I typed "environmental hazards" that it was misleading. I'd first put something about the "zone layout" but that seemed confusing too so I changed it. All I meant was that some zones have huge great mushrooms or trees or awkwardly placed rivers with aggressive fish in and so on. And dead ends and things you can fall off. That kind of "environmental hazard". It's Pantheon that plans to have weather that can kill you.


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