Monday, August 3, 2020

Big Blue Diamonds : EverQuest

There's no question that EverQuest is currently my main MMORPG. How weird is that?

I seem to have hit a sweet spot. The last time this happened was probably when I discovered Jewel of Atiki, a strangely-named but delightful zone from the 2007's The Buried Sea. That was four years ago, when I was doing my Lesson and my Hot Zone daily for xp, then keeping myself busy farming plat to pay for armor upgrades in the Bazaar.

That seems to be what works for me because I'm doing it again and loving it. Just as it did back in my days in the Jewel, it helps enormously that I'm hunting in the light, sunny, open zones of 2011's Veil of Alaris. It seems like a delightful expansion, not least when compared to the oppressive, claustrophobic gloom of the inexplicably-preferred House of Thule, through which all re-starters and Heroic characters are funnelled. So glad to be out of that miserable hole at last.

As I posted a few days ago, the mage dinged 106 and I re-subbed her account. As I also explained, I was waiting for that specific level because that's when you can equip Conflagrant armor. In my particular case, Arch Convoker's Conflagrant, the variant intended specifically for the Magician class.

I was dreading hunting sharks when Franklin Teek gave me the task but it turns out there are loads of them right next to the docks, including this huge named.
It's not cheap but it is affordable. By watching the prices in the Bazaar carefully I've managed to upgrade ten slots. That leaves eleven to go, not counting ammo and power source.

I haven't been keeping a count of the exact cost but I must have spent somewhere around a quarter of a million platinum so far. I raided my Beastlord's piggy bank for 50k and bought a bag of platinum worth 13k with some loyalty tokens but mostly I've been farming grey mobs in much older zones.

Money flows in quite comfortably from the xp-level content I'm doing but when it comes to cash drops, EQ has a quirk I think is probably unusual in the genre. I can't speak for current content, which I haven't seen, but in pretty much every expansion from... well, thinking about it, from the original, base game, the standard moneymakers remain the same: gems.

Diamonds sell to a vendor for 190 platinum. Blue diamonds sell for 238pp. Various other gems sell for somewhere around the same amount. The main change between expansions seems to be not so much what gems drop as how often, although even that isn't consistent.

Hunting underwater in this zone is amazingly pleasant, not least because of the spectacular way the water amplifies every spell effect.
When I'm out doing my daily double xp Lesson in the level 95 Hot Zone, Sarith, City of Tides, the sharks Franklin Teek insists on sending me to kill drop diamonds and blue diamonds. So did the boogymen and samhain in Fear Itself. So did the reavers in Meldrath's Majestic Mansion.

Gems are great but high-value stackable mob drops can bring in as much or more. Clockworks in all of the Meldrath-related zones from Secrets of Faydwer (also 2007 - two expansions a year back then) explode into showers of cogs and springs when you smash them and those parts sell to vendors for a lot.

I guess those count as body parts if you're a clockwork, which makes sense because mob body parts have been a vendor staple since the game started. In other MMORPGs it's often barely worth giving bag space to fur and fangs but in EQ those crazy NPCs pay top dollar for the most repulsive and objectively worthless organs. I've always wondered what they do with them, although since no NPC vendor ever leaves his spot it's a bit of a moot point what they could do.

The final consideration when deciding where to farm is what players are currently buying on Barter. Incredibly conveniently, these days you can open the Barter window wherever you are in the game and sell directly out of your bags. No more running around the mazelike corridors looking for that one guy who buys writing ink.

The streets of the city are good, safe hunting. I'd do the quests but for that I need to learn the language. All in good time.

It's nearly all tradeskill materials they want, of course, but not necessarily the obvious ones. Many older mats retain decent value but many more are utterly worthless. Also, when selling things that are new to you, you have to be careful to check what the NPCs are paying before you put your silks and ores in the hand of a reaching player. Some buyers are less than scrupulous about offering a fraction of the coin you could get from cashing out at the nearest vendor.

Gems notwithstanding, it's fair to say the more recent the expansion, the more valuable the drops. If you're focused on making the most money per minute, though, it's makes sense to go somewhere you can cut the mobs down like corn. The individual drops may be worth a little less - although unless you go back almost to the beginning of the game it will only be a little - but being able to pull and clear whole rooms in seconds more than makes up the difference.

I've been experimenting, trying to find the most profitable, fastest, least annoying, most enjoyable farm. All of those. Asking a lot, I know.

I've tried half a dozen zones in Planes of Power. A lot of older guides to making money suggest the Plane of Fire and it is indeed very good for gems, plus there are trade mats there still that sell for hundreds of plat a time. Unfortunately, it's a hideous, ugly, depressing zone. I don't really want to spend more than half an hour there.

The aptly-named Beast's Domain is the next zone along. A lovely, blue-green forest with loads of kiting space.
Few of the PoP zones have aged well. My favorite to farm is Ruins of Lxanvom, better known as the Crypt of Decay. It's also stunningly ugly but as an underground dungeon with corridors and tunnels that seems more acceptable. Also it's relatively small and very simple to navigate.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's fairly popular for exactly the reasons I go there, so its not unusual to zone in to find everything already dead. Luckily the respawn rate is fairly fast and once people have cleared it they tend not to hang around for a second run. I know I don't.

All of the aforementioned Meldrath zones are good but I've done a lot of those over the years and I could do without the clanking. A nice alternative I've been trying is Bloodmoon Keep, a dungeon from the same expansion, refreshingly clockwork-free. All wereorcs, spiders and undead, that one.

I tend to farm until I run out of bag space or until I get tired, both of which clock in at around about an hour. My average for a run is somewhere close to 10,000 platinum but I'm fairly sure I can improve on that.

I probably need to, if only because I've bought up all the cheaper Conflagrant pieces now. The rest are going to run 40-50k a pop, which means I need to make about twice what I've already spent. I was very fortunate to get the chest and legs for about half the going rate, though, so who knows what bargains may turn up if I keep my eyes open?

From long experience I do know that I'll just about have had enough of farming after a couple of weeks. It's one of those activities that starts out as really good fun and ends up being a chore. For now, though, I'm still getting that thrill every time I see my balance go back up after a spending spree.

With a bit of luck I should be able to fill out all the remaining slots by the time my month's sub runs out. After that I imagine I'll be ready for a break, anyway.

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