Saturday, June 20, 2020

How To Upgrade Ascension Spells (The Easy Way) : EQII

Earlier this week I spent some considerable time trying to work out how to upgrade Ascension spells in EverQuest II. If you just want to know how to do it, scroll down to the end of the post! If you want to see how I got there, read on...

Ascension was introduced in the Kunark Ascending expansion back in 2016. At that time it seemed like a peculiarly perverse system even by EQII's abstruse and obscure standards.

I won't re-hash the bizarre details of how it worked back then. I barely understood it at the time and most of what I once knew I've forgotten. Thankfully, the whole structure has been revised and revamped, possibly more than once, so we can all move on and pretend it never happened.

For historical accuracy, I'd normally at least try to lay out the basic timeline in a post like this but the available information is more fractured and confusing than the original system. I did spend a while reading forum posts and various guides but it made my head hurt so I had to stop.

Ascension was never a popular addition to the game, at least as far as I can make out. It was confusing, expensive, grindy and turned everyone into battle-mages. At least, those are some of the reasons people gave when they claimed to be quitting the game over it.

In retrospect it seems that the main drive behind adding it was to reduce system load, something it attempted to do in several ways.

 Ascension spells do huge damage but have very long cast times. There are also just four Ascension classes, of which you can only use one at a time.

The means of changing from one Ascension class to another is highly restrictive. You have to visit an Ascension trainer to request a change of class, meaning no hot-swapping from one line to another during raids. It's also to your great advantage to use one of your Ascension abilities to convert all your other non-Ascension abilities to do damage of the type your chosen Ascension class uses.

If you have a whole bunch of people concentrating on Ascension abilities, the server has to deal with four classes using four types of damage on a slowish cadence rather than twenty-six classes using seven types of damage in a hyperactive frenzy. You can see how that might lead to fewer calculations.

You can also see how it would lead to fewer options and to the player feeling railroaded. If the system had been slick, straightforward and intuitive that might not have mattered but it was complicated, awkward and gnomic, so it very much did.

Even as a solo player, for whom Ascension spells were really an optional extra, I found it a little annoying at times. And all I was dealing with was the basic leveling process. Until this week I'd never even considered upgrading the spells.

The reason I finally got around to it was mainly that I'd gone quite a long way down the upgrade path on almost everything else. My Berserker has all his gear at 170 Resolve, with some of it at 175 or even 180. Most of his combat arts are Expert, some are Master. He's made and fitted BoL Adornments in almost every slot and he's completed some of the sets. He has max level mercenaries and mounts, decently geared. Even his Familiar is pretty darn nice.

All of this can be improved still further, even within the paramaters of a soloist, but he's at the stage where those improvements are noticeably incremental. I was going over his stats to see if I'd missed anything obvious and it turned out I had: almost all of his Ascension spells were still the basic apprentice versions.

That led to some long and not very fruitful research sessions. I read a lot of contradictory and confusing advice. I studied explanations and discussions of how Ascension spells might be upgraded until I felt even more at sea than when I started. Eventually I worked out that although various crafters can make various subsets of the spells, Sages can now make all of them. That seemed like somewhere to start.

I went through my bank vaults and dug out all the various Illegible Pages and so on, all of which can still be used but some of which belong to different versions of the system. I gave those to my max level Sage to see what he could do with them. Not much, as it turned out.

 I checked to see if he had the recipes to use them. He didn't.

I read some more and discovered he should be able to buy the necessary recipe books from a vendor in the Myrist Library, once he had sufficient faction, for which he'd need to do the Chaos Descending signature tradeskill questline.

I thought he'd done that but he hadn't even started it. I set to and finished it over three sessions. Then I went looking for the vendor to buy the books. I couldn't find him.

Back to the internet. After several unecessary trips to various vendors around the world, because every discussion I read just said "the vendor sells them", but never gave the vendor's name or location, it finally occurred to me that maybe it meant the crafting trainer in Myrist itself.

It did. All the books were there, on sale for chump change. I bought the lot and scribed them. Now my Sage should, in theory, be able to make all levels of all ascension spells. He can't in practice, of course, because some of the levels require those special pages, which are dropped as loot from bosses and given as rewards from missions.

What he can do with just normal mats is make both Journeyman and Expert Ascension spells. So I had him make journeyman for all the ones the Berserker uses regularly. He had a couple of the pages to make Adepts so he made those too, and for those he then made the Experts.

I had to make the whole sequence for those because you can't just jump to the highest quality. A character has to have scribed each preceding level before they can scribe the next.

It's still more complicated and fiddly than regular spell upgrading but compared to how it used to be it is pretty straightforward.

To save anyone else having to work out the basics the way I did, here's my pared down, no frills bullet point guide:
  • Sages can make all Ascension spells.
  • All the required recipe books are for sale on the crafting trainer in Myrist, The Great Library.
  • The vendor is called Elmelar Stilltree and she's in the Crafter's Gallery.
  • The books you want are Sage's Primer 01 to Sage's Primer 10.
  • To buy them (or even see them on the vendor) the character needs to have completed only the first three quests in The Scrivener's Tale, the tradeskill signature questline.
  • That's the part called Escargot Overclocking, for which you get the fantastic 88-slot Crystal Shard Backpack as a reward. You'll probably want to do the quest just for that, anyway.
  • You do not need to carry on with the rest of the very long questline, although it's easy and entertaining enough to enjoy for itself. It also has a useful final reward, a vendor selling all kinds of fuel, who you can summon, anywhere, on an hourly cooldown.
  • Once your Sage has bought and scribed the books, they will be able to make all Journeyman and Expert level Ascension spells using only regular materials, including one regular rare, Planar Energy.
  • The Sage can also make Grandmaster Ascension spells using regular mats, a regular rare and a Celestial Foundation or Spellshard, a kind of ultra-rare regular mat.
  • All of these mats, even the ultra-rare, can be gathered from normal gathering nodes. They are all also tradeable and can be bought on the Broker, assuming anyone's selling them.
  • For all other grades (Adept, Master, Ancient and Celestial) you'll need the appropriate Illegible Scroll. These are dropped by bosses or found in mission reward crates. They are also tradeable and can be bought from other players.
  • Once crafted, the character who wants to use the spells must scribe them in sequence
  • You can use offline research to upgrade all levels of Ascension, allowing you to skip over any level for which you don't have the mats.
I think that's about it. It may not be crystal clear but it's a lot clearer than anything I found!

If anyone spots any errors or omissions, let me know in the comments and I'll correct as necessary.

Ascension spells are very powerful and can be lot of fun to use once you get the hang of them. Worth the trouble they take, I'd say.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for writing this up. I have never liked the ascension system and since I was mostly soloing, I was not that worried about it. I have a few of the skills upgraded through research. I did not realize it would be pretty simple to at least get the journeyman version.

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    1. Late reply, sorry! The way spells upgrade in EQII means that journeyman is a big upgrade from apprentice so it's definitely worth doing just that. I have all the ones I use regularly at Expert now and that makes a huge difference to time-to-kill on solo bosses. I don't use the Ascension spells on regular mobs but I tried a few out and they one-shot some BoL overland mobs, which is amusing.

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  2. Thanks from me too for writing this up, especially the bullet point summary. I had tried searching for this myself a month or so ago and gave up as it was too fragmented to find answers. Interesting that it is sages for all four. I need to get started on leveling sage and alchemist in EQ2, I've not done either and it would be so useful for the skill upgrades!

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    1. It used to be a much more long-winded and fiddly process before they changed it to have Sages make the lot. You can still use the old method athough i can't imagine why anyone would want to.

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