Sunday, July 5, 2020

Tested By Research: EverQuest

Storage space. It's always been an issue in EverQuest, hasn't it? Not so much in your bank. These days vault space is positively generous. On your character. That's where it's a problem.

Remember all those stories from the early days? Enterprising low-levels hanging around the entrances to dungeons, offering to carry your loot back to town and sell it, for a fee? That really happened. Small bags filled up fast with stuff that didn't stack. Going to a vendor took too big a chunk out of the time you had to hunt. Worse, if you were the healer or the tank, everyone else had to stop until you got back.

Over the years things haven't got much better. Oh, there's more loot that stacks now, for sure, but plenty still that doesn't. And quest items and crafting mats, they must have grown by orders of magnitude. EQ's industry-standard loot window makes deciding what to pick up and what to leave so much easier but the old problem still remains. Those bags just fill so fast.

It's why one of the key features of every Collector's Edition these days is a capacious 100% weight reduction bag. Forty slots seems to be the current gold standard. You can buy them in the cash shop, too., although they're not cheap and there are restrictions on how many you can have.

I've never really made much of an effort to upgrade my inventory in EverQuest. Mostly I just buy the cheap ten-slot tinker's toolkits, the so-called Deluxe Toolbox, but last time I took a serious run at leveling my Magician I did try to do something to avoid that endless series of Sophie's choices between making xp or making money.

The mage was already off to a flying start with the two twenty-four slot Heroic Satchels of the Adventurer that came with the free boost to 85 she got when Heroic Characters were added to the game. I'd also invested in a couple of gigantic, player-made thirty-two slot Extraplanar Trade Satchels for her. There's always someone selling those in the Bazaar for a very reasonable price. Even though they only hold items flagged "tradeskill", there are a lot of those and some of them sell for plenty, so I like to scoop them all up as I go.

There's more in there than just the bags but face it, that's what you're paying for.

The rest of her bag slots were filled with a variety of ten-slot containers and one twelve-slotter. In total she had one hundred and seventy-four inventory slots - and they were all full. Time to do something about it.

Except, of course, in EverQuest you can't just do something as simple as buy bigger bags.

Well, okay, fine. That's exactly what you can do, if you have the money. But bags, as I've already suggested, don't come cheap, either in or out of game. And even if you have the money and are willing to spend it, it's still not that simple. Really. Nothing in Norrath ever is.

I looked at the Bazaar to see what was on offer. Various crafters can make bags of diferent sizes and there were plenty up for sale. Bottom of the line, a few 12-slots at around 4k plat. My price range but a couple of extra slots here and there weren't going to make much difference.

Then there were the tailormade expandable bags. Those were all twelve slots too but you could make them biger, somehow. I vaguely remembered it from the last time, when I decided it was all too complicated to be bothering with.

How it works is this: a tailor with very high skill makes a bag that has twelve slots. There are a whole bunch of them with fancy names - Legendary, Supreme, Flawless, Transcendent - but they all have just the twelve slots. These bags are both tradeable and expandable. Anyone, regardless of crafting skill, can buy one and combine it with a vendor-sold reagent to create a No Trade 14, 16, 18 or 20 slot bag.

This will make sense later. Maybe.
Yes, it's already sounding complicated but there's more. When I said anyone could do the combine I should have said "anyone who's bought and read the correct book on how to do it". Or scribed the necessary recipe, if you prefer to be less lore about it.

I must have spent at least an hour researching how to do it. Not nearly long enough, as it turned out. First I read a couple of guides on the general principles, Fanra's being the clearest of them. Then I had to investigate the source of all the necessary books and reagents, most of which seemed to have been introduced at different times and in different expansions.

There didn't seem to be much point buying the smaller bags. The reagent seemed to be the same for all of them. Someone was selling the Transcendent, which expands to twenty slots, for 10,500 plat each, while the rest were between six and eight thousand. Anything but the biggest seemed like a false economy.

Naturally, by the time I'd decided on the biggest bag, the person selling it for ten and a half grand had logged off, so I ended up paying twelve thousand instead. By this time I'd also realized I had an unexpanded Supreme bag in my inventory already. That goes to sixteen slots. The reagents cost more than two thousand five hundred platinum each so I was already getting close to twenty grand for two bags. I only had around 90k in total, earned over several years, and I had spells to buy, too. Two bags it was, at least for now.

Buying the reagent was easy. A vendor in Plane of Knowledge sold that one. One of the recipe books was on another vendor nearby but according to a couple of guides I'd read, for the other I'd need to go to somewhere called Shards Landing. I'd never even heard of it but some further research sugested I could get there by way of the Befallen dungeon in the Commonlands. At least I knew where that was.

Looking back, I think I was lulled into a false sense of security by the familiar names, the very low-level entry point and the knowledge that the vendor I was looking for was in the service hub of some expansion or other. The due diligence I failed to apply was which expansion, what level cap and whether the overland/underground route I was proposing to take had been the normal entry point at the time.

Had I taken the trouble to read it up, I would have discovered that Shard's Landing was introduced as part of the Rain of Fear expansion in 2012, when the level cap was raised to one hundred. It's a zone intended for levels 95 to 97. More significantly, the zone through which I meant to travel to get there, the Chapterhouse of the Fallen, was a dungeon, recommended for characters at level 100. By which, of course, they meant groups.

That looks new. Let's poke it and see what happens.
I got to Befallen and saw a great, blue stone outside the entrance. You could hardly miss it but I'd never seen it before, which strongly suggests it's been more than eight years since I last visited Befallen on a Live server. I've been there plenty of times on various Progression and TLE servers, as well as Tipa's recreation of the dungeon in Neverwinter, but evidently it's been nearly a decade since I last visited the original.

I clicked on the crystal because who wouldn't? In I zoned. It was dark. Very dark. I was so taken with just how dark it was, I stopped to take a selfie, because I have a post brewing about how infuriating dark zones are and how developers seem to be in love with them in a way I'm convinced players are not.

I took a few steps down the first corridor and spotted a couple of undead mobs of some description barrelling towards me. I just had time to con them and see they were dark blue (dark blue for danger is the motto these days) before I found myself flat on my back, dead.

It was at this point I remembered I'd suspended my cleric mercenary a couple of hours back so she wouldn't keep charging me money just for standing around. Not that I think she could have done much to keep me up but at least I might have got a rez , assuming they didn't kill her, too.

All my lovely raid buffs, gone, along with my pet and his buffs, his weapons and his armor. Once, that would have been a blow but these days it's just a matter of letting the game idle in the background while I play something else until the sleet of MGBs fills it all back up again. As for the lost xp, its just a case of paying an NPC in the Guild Lobby to summon my corpse and wait for my Merc to give me a 90% rez. One Overseer quest is going to replace that tenfold.

The lost time, though, that you never get back. Also, at 101 a summoning stone now costs over a thousand plat. Dying may not be the shock of ice water it once was but it's still something you very much want to avoid if at all possible. And that was an extremely avoidable death.

Seriously, does anyone enjoy playing in the dark?
Chastened, needing to wait to let my buffs build back up, I turned to more research. And guess what? It turns out that if I'd been paying attention I'd not only have realized the route I was planning was a suicide run but I'd have found out I didn't need to go to Shard's Landing at all!

The bloody vendor who sold me the first recipe book also sells the other one! It was there in front of me if I'd only scrolled down. And I only found that out after another unecessary, if unfatal, side-trip to the housing district, Sunset Hills, where I mistakenly thought yet another vendor might be able to hook me up. He did have a bag-expanding recipe book, just not the one I wanted. I bought it anyway. Might as well cover all the options.

Eventually I had everything I needed: the unexpanded bags, the reagents and the scribed recipes. I turned to the loom, standing handily beside the vendor, and made the first combo. It worked! Twenty slot bag!

I swapped some stuff around to empty the other unexpanded bag. I searched for the recipe, hit "Combine" and... it didn't work! No sixteen slot bag! Why? No idea. I checked everything, all the names. Just as it should be. The reagent was outlined in green, showing it was right, but the bag itself was rimmed in red, meaning it wasn't. Why? I don't frickin' know!

At this point I could have done some more research. Or I could have asked in game. People love to show how clever they are. If I'd made and obvious error someone would have been delighted to point it out to me. Instead, I noticed the loom has an "Experiment" option. It lets you put any combination of items inside and see if they make something. In the old days, if they didn't, everything you had in there would be destroyed but they'd changed that long ago. Or I hoped they had.

Clearly having learned nothing from my trip to the Chapterhouse, I manually moved the reagent and the bag into the loom and pressed Combine again, because why prep? And this time it worked. Why? No more idea than before. Don't know and, quite frankly, don't care. Sixteen slot bag, baby!

They look so lovely, empty.
So now I had eighteen more slots than I started with but I knew I could do better. In the course of my research I'd spotted that one of the options available on the loyalty vendor is a sixteen slot box.

The loyalty system is yet another thing I've never really paid much attention to in EQ. Like everything else in the game it's unfeasibly complex and confusing and I could probably fill a whole post trying to explain how it works it but for the time being let's just say I've accrued a lot of tokens and never spent any of them.

The box is about the most expensive thing on the vendor and normally I'd balk at blowing such a big chunk of my resources on something as basic as a bag that only gives me an extra four slots above what I already have, but...

The thing I never knew about the Loyalty system is, you keep getting get tokens even when you're free to play.And you get more tokens than F2P players if you're account is flagged "Silver", meaning you paid your five dollars for the upgrade, back when that was an option, which I did. So I've been building up my tokens all this time even though I didn't know it.

Except, I haven't, because the other thing I never knew about the loyalty system is that there's a cap! You can't have more than 5760 tokens no matter what your account status might be. And guess how many I had? Well, actually I had 5772. I don't know how that happened.

Never mind how! Now I have a new sixteen slot box and 4044 loyalty tokens. That'll teach me not to pay attention to the small print. I probably ought to log in all the other accounts and check those, now I come to think of it. It's like a license to spend money!

In game, they expand perfectly. On the blog, not so much.
Last of all, I went out to finish up a very long quest I had in my journal. I must have started it five years ago, when it was level-appropriate solo content and hard work but after the magician's recent growth spurt it looked like a nice, relaxing toddle to the end of the session. The final reward was a twelve-slot bag. Not much of an upgrade but twelve has always been bigger then ten.

Another half-hour and there I was, two dozen inventory slots better off than when I began. It had only taken me most of the day and cost me about twenty thousand plat.

I was in the groove, though, so I figured I might as well carry on and get the new level 101 Air pet spell, seeing as how my old one had snuffed it, along with all the buffs I'd gotten him.

I'll spare us all the painful details of how I paid for a teleport stone to the wrong Katta Castellum and spent twenty minutes running around the zone, looking for a spell vendor who wasn't there. Or the time I wasted sailing the wrong way on the wrong boat through Buried Sea, trying to find the Tempest Temple, and how eventually I had to swim there. No one died and its all a bit embarassing and we've all done it, haven't we? Let's move on...

It was around eight in the evening when I swapped over to Guild Wars 2 to do my dailies, leaving magician, new pet and merc to soak up buffage in the background. EQ plays very nicely in a closed window. You can leave it up all day and scarcely know it was there.

I'd been playing for about eight hours, on and off, all day really, mostly reading stuff and running about, the longest EQ session I can remember. It was great! I had a fantastic time. Can't wait to do it again, only this time I'm going to go somewhere very easy and make some fast money. I know some spots where the mobs carry high-value gems and my new pet will all but one-shot them.

I'll have that 30k I spent back in no time if everything goes to plan. And if there's one thing I know about EverQuest, it's that everything always goes exactly to plan...


  1. I would've enjoyed this too I think.

    I've always loved EQII for those little (or not so little) details that mean more work- or at least more time-investment to reach certain goals, but that also make everything feel more meaningful and realistic.

    Like when you've finally collected all materials for the Robe of the Invoker, but instead of the robe just being magically finished you have to go to the Ruins of Varsoon and use the loom there to craft it yourself. I'll take nice little touches like that over convenience any day.

    1. I tend to find that I get completely immeresed in the detail and welcome the complexity... for a while. Then, as I spend more time in the environment I start to find the sheer amount of preparation and attention required exhausting and, eventually, irritating. That applies to many MMORPGs, not just EQ, and I think it's why I tend to have pattern of splurging and then stopping suddenly. If the game is good, though, I keep coming back because that initial excitement and involvement can be re-kindled almost indefinitely. I think that's also one reason why Progression/Classic servers get rushed when they launch.

    2. I agree that it can get overwhelming after a while. It's probably one of the reasons why I, too, hop from game to game more often than I actually intend to.


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