Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Don't I Know You? : EverQuest

One of the nicest things about playing EverQuest from the Guild Lobby is the view. You wouldn't think so, given it's nothing more than a vaulted hall, but it's probably the best place in Norrath to go people-watching.

The Lobby used to be the only public space where buff timers didn't count down so it's always been a very popular spot to afk for long periods. At some point it morphed into the locus for generous players to discharge their Mass Group Buffs before logging, which only made it an even more popular venue for hanging out.

I mentioned it back in the very early days of this blog. It was 2012, EverQuest had just gone Free to Play and I was wondering how that might go. Not too badly, it seems.

Before they moved to the Lobby, MGBs used to happen in Plane of Knowledge. I'm not sure when that changed. Ironically, buff timers don't decrease in PoK any more, either, so we could all go back outdoors but we don't.

Instead, we all stand around in what I've always thought of as The Dogpile. Ever since the Overseer feature was added I've been logging in twice a day to choose my permitted ten daily quests. They run on timers that vary from six hours to forty-eight, always in multiples of six for some reason.

I never know what I'm going to see when I log in. I have my view scrolled back into first person and my Magician stands in the heart of the crowd so when she opens her eyes she's often inside someone, looking out.

It's not unusual for me to do a double take on logging in. EverQuest's graphics may be scrawlings on a cave wall compared to modern games but if there's one thing they don't lack it's variety. Even so, what I saw this morning made me sit up.

As far as I can tell, the figure in the screenshots above is either a Mercenary or a Pet of some kind. His name is Ashborn but he doesn't come up in a /who under that name and /inspect returns a curt "You cannot inspect that". You can rename pets and mercs so it seems a likely explanation.

Whatever he is, he's very clearly a Beefeater. Or a Yeoman Guard, to give him his Sunday name.

Familiar from the gin bottle, these are the ceremonial guards who stand around the Tower of London, exhuding the dignity and gravitas of any village hall production of Gilbert and Sullivan. Why the hell there's one in Norrath I have absolutely no idea.

Or I didn't until I started googling it this morning. Apparently there's a mob called "an ornate guard" in a zone called "Morell's Castle" that may use this model. I found a single picture on the web of a Named called Omander the Devoted who definitely does. There's also a step in a quest called Morrell's Challenge that requires you to "Find and defeat a Champion of Morell, the beefeater".

Morrell Thule is the Lord of Dreams, a demi-god in Norrath's extensive pantheon. His castle forms part of the 2010 expansion House of Thule. To date, a decade after it arrived, I have seen maybe two of its zones. I have never seen the Beefeater model before and I have no idea why someone thought it might be a good idea to introduce it to a fantasy world with which it has absolutely no thematic connection or resonance.

Maybe the person to ask would be Senior Artist Kevin Lydy, who mentioned in an interview in 2011that he "did some work on the Beefeater". I don't recall his name, either, but he was with the game from before launch and is apparently the artist responsible for the iconic EverQuest logo.

Whover did it, and why, logging in to be faced by such a familiar image is disturbing, to say the least. How, as the saying goes, unlike the life of our own dear queen... or possibly not.

8 comments:

  1. I read the patch notes and it is 10 quest per 12 hour cycle... I don't know why, but there it is. So you can do 20 quests a day, 5 at a time, if you are so inclined.

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    1. Ah, I saw they'd changed it in the patch from no limit to 10 but I missed the 12 hour part. As far as I can tell you have to clear the first five before you start the next so, since all the quests I do take 12 hours or more, it's a moot point. I can barely get two cycles of five in as it is.

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  2. Huh, I tried some Googling and I could not find an up-to-date list of mercenaries/illusions anywhere. It's amazing how hard it is to find information on EQ on the webs. I feel it's one of the things that makes the game "harder" for new/returning players.

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    1. Allakhazam is still probably the best source of information about EQ. Fanra's, EQ Resource, and even Almar's Guides still get updates. I agree it's very difficult to find specifics, though. I guess given the sheer size and scale of the game after 21 years that's not really surprising.

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  3. Heh, this reminds me a lot of SWG where people would gather at the starports to get buffs from a Master Doc.

    They could only buff one player at a time though, so we formed queues and waited for our turn. Old times. :-)

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    1. Buff selling and trading has always been a huge part of EQ. I think the selling part died a long time ago but not only are MGBs still a thing, I often hear lower level characters (for whom the max level buffs won't stick) asking in chat for specific buffs. It's a very positive aspect of the social part of MMOs I think, much to be encouraged.

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    2. People are still willing to pay for things like Spirit of Wolf on P1999.

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