Saturday, July 4, 2020

Nothing To Fear: EverQuest

Today I played EverQuest almost the whole day. I logged in around ten in the morning to collect and set my Overseer quests as usual and then I thought about the bonus xp and how it's only going to be around for a little while and how if I went somewhere easy, somewhere I knew, a Hot Zone ten levels below me, say, and I popped my Lesson, I could just do half an hour and maybe make another five per cent. What could go wrong?

Eight hours later I'd been to half a dozen zones I'd never seen before, died once, spent about a quarter of my money and made less than two per cent of level 101. I'd been on an adventure. God knows it's about time.

After a false start, about which the less said the better, I took the level 90 daily task from Franklin Teek. I already had the 80 and the 85 but they're all but worthless to me now.

Teek wanted me to kill five Samhains in Fear Itself. I had no idea what they were or where that was. I had a vague feeling it must be somewhere in the House of Thule expansion but that was about it. EQ's in-game map has a pathfinding function that will set a route between any two zones but what it comes up with isn't always the most sensible, let alone the safest, so off to Google DuckDuckGo I went to look it up.

As I suspected , Fear Itself is some way on from the only zone I really know in that expansion, Feerrott: The Dream. You can use the Oggok stone in Plane of Knowledge to get to The Dream, then you cross that zone to the gates of the House of Thule itself. Once inside, you head for the Upper Floors and, finally, into to Fear Itself.

By EQ standards it's straightforward. A simple, four-zone trip. Also bloody terrifying, especially the bit where you have to go down a series of long, dark corridors filled with scores of writhing snakes and spiders, not to mention demons from hell. I'd love to show you my screenshots of that part but I was too petrified to take any.

The journey took me an hour or so. I haven't played my Magician for months, not in any meaningful sense, so I thought I ought to warm up on some easy stuff along the way. Most of the mobs in The Dream conned green, which seemed perfect for getting back into the swing of things.

Just as well I didn't go for anything more ambitious. My pulling and positioning skills were horrifically rusty. The little snakes were simple enough but it wasn't long before I had more lizardmen than I know what to do with. Literally.

As I dithered and tried to remember which spell icon was which, my uber-buffed air elemental and healer mercenary handled everything beautifully. A couple more very bad pulls and I had myself sorted out enough to give them the dps support they didn't exactly seem to need.

Near the zone line into the House I happened on Patches, a named that might have been a dog, once. He conned light blue, which is supposed to be standard fodder for soloists these days. I thought he'd make a good test so I pulled him and down he went, along with an add or two because I still hadn't remembered you're supposed to pull mobs to a safe spot.

Emboldened by that I found the entry point and zoned into House of Thule, Lower Floors. And to my surprise I recognized it. My magician hadn't been there before but I had. I took my necromancer there on the Test server last year for some reason I can't recall. I think I was trying out the entry area, known, I believe, as "The Garden", to see if it would be a good hunting ground for the Mage, on the assumption that if it wasn't it wouldn't much matter if a character I never play any more got herself killed.

Five levels ago it would have been ideal. Then, everything would have been light blue and the xp would have been worth having. At 101, though, most of the snakes and dogs were green and even the repeatable quest experience for culling them didn't add up to much.

They were more good practice, though, and even better were the light blue named mobs I kept finding. I can't remember bumping into so many nameds in such short order and close proximity. I killed a named spider, then a snake, then a dog, all outside in the garden. After that I felt properly warmed up, so I pushed on into the house itself, where I killed a named suit of armor called Old Rusty. You and me both, pal.

I'd read up the next bit, which was just as well, because that's where it started to get scary. I had permanent invisibility on and the mobs were still conning green but once I climbed the stairs and zoned into the Upper Floors things became extremely claustrophobic.

I conned everything as it loomed out of the darkness in case it could see me. Nothing did. I ran through the snake pit and down the spider tunnel feeling grateful not to be overly phobic about such things. The room filled with flaming demons almost came as a relief. At least with all that fire I could see where I was going, for once.

The end of the corridor brought me into a room in the center of which was a statue of the god of fear, Cazic Thule, lying dead on a slab. At least I hope it was a statue. Once again I was forewarned by my research, which advised against clicking on him. I don't know what happens if you do and I'd like to keep it that way.

I stepped over him, wondering where the zone line might be and discovered I was standing on it. In a moment I found myself in Fear Itself. Which turned out to be perfect!

The mobs I could see were all light blue. I was at the edge of the zone with a great pull spot next to me, through which nothing seemed to path. As is common with newer expansions (by which I mean ones from the last decade or so) there was someone right at the entrance waiting to give me quests. I took those and set up to kill.

Being a Hot Zone and the mobs being light blue, the xp was much better, even though the fights were still easy enough. I got adds and handled them safely. I saw a named, pulled it and killed it without much risk. Another named wandered up in the middle of the next fight and we killed that one, too.

I'd have settled in for a session only, of course, my bags were full. Aren't they always? I spent a few minutes going through them, trying to make space, but there was nowhere to sell or bank and I didn't even know what most of the stuff I was carrying was for, so I couldn't just throw it away.

It was frustrating, having taken all that effort to get there and then having to leave when I'd just got started. In the old days, being a caster, I'd just have bound myself there, so I could skip the journey back, but it's been years since I've been able to bind anywhere remotely as useful as next to a hunting spot.

Still, I thought I'd give it a try. You never know. It's only mana, after all. I cast Bind Affinity on myself.

I didn't get the usual "You can't bind here, find a city" error message. Had it worked? I wasn't sure. It's been so long I couldn't remember how it was supposed to go. Simple enough to test. I ran a hundred yards or so along the ridge, cast Gate and instantly reappeared back where I'd started. It had worked!

I was exultant. These days there are multiple ways to get home, which makes it all the more galling when you can't bind where you'd like, out in the field. I cast the AA Throne of Heroes and I was back in the Guild Lobby.

Now I had an invisible elastic band stretched between my hunting spot and my resting place, somewhere buffs don't fade and kind players constantly refresh them and there's a bank and a vendor to clear your bags. Things couldn't be better!

So, did I spend the rest of the day flicking back and forth between the two, racking up the xp and the loot? Well... not exactly. It occured to me life would be even sweeter if only I had some bigger bags. All I needed to do was buy some before I gated back.

I mean, how hard could that be?


  1. What a cliffhanger ending! Can't wait for part two.

    1. Bit more of a pratfall than a cliffhanger I think, hehe.

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