Friday, August 14, 2020

Saw A Cyclops: EverQuest

Time for a quick update on how I'm getting on in EverQuest, I think. The old warhorse has unquestionably replaced the slightly less elderly EverQuest II as my current most-played MMORPG. This has been an odd year by any standards but even if it had been unremarkable in every other way it would still have stood out for me as peculiar just for the fact that I seem to have fallen through a gaming time-warp to land somewhere around a decade ago. I think that was the last time I found myself shuttling back and forth between the two ages of Norrath this way.

The mage is still mostly living on Overseer xp. It's slowed down some but it's still better by far than anything else around. She is starting to get out more, though.

She no longer spends the entire day idling in the Guild Lobby. Even Franklin Teek's shark-obsessed quests are old news. When the mobs he was sending her to hunt in the final Hot Zone started turning green, she took to exploring the world in search of better opportunities.

She dinged 108 a couple of days ago and since, as I was saying the other day, she already seemed quite capable of handling herself in the deeper recesses of the Veil of Alaris expansion, I started to wonder if she oughtn't to be pushing herself a little harder.

I didn't take any screenshots in the HA. This is a different tunnel altogether.

For years I've been hearing people talk about Heroic Adventures as the way to level. I was never entirely sure what they were but I was pretty certain you needed a group for them. Fanra's guide, which I read a while ago, gives the minimum number of players as two. That's why I'd never done one.

 A few weeks back I poked my nose inside one, just to see what they looked like. I took the Daily Adventure from Franklin Teek's brother, Clayton. He gave me the task and teleported me there but when I tried to go inside I got an error message telling me "mysterious forces" had prevented me from entering.

I took that to mean my mercenary and I didn't qualify as a duo but I was wrong. It turns out that message is just the generic notice you get when something isn't working properly. I ought to have known that. We used to get the same warning, now and then, when we were running Lost Dungeons of Norrath every evening. It just means the zone you're trying to enter is unavailable for some reason.

As I was looking into the possibilities on where to take the Mage, I happened on a couple of different threads talking about soloing HAs. People seemed pretty certain you could. So I tried again.
Yep, still in the wrong tunnel.

This time Clayton Teek sent me to Dead Hills, a zone in the Call of the Forsaken expansion, two along from VoA and the highest-level hunting ground (or at least the most recently-added) I've visited.

I was understandably apprehensive but I pressed on. I spoke to the NPC to get the quests and have them port me inside. At first I got the same "mysterious forces" message but this time I followed the advice I'd read and just kept trying.

After about three or four attempts the mists seemed to clear so in I went. I had a walkthrough up and it warned me to be careful at the start because the first set of mobs was the toughest to pull safely. I was careful. The first two came nicely, one at a time. They were light blue and very manageable. Things were looking good.

I set the pet on the third and got five. Five! I froze for a couple of seconds, the worst thing you can do on a bad pull, and the merc went down. Fortunately that gave me enough of a jolt to stop dithering and decide to bail.

Do I even need to say it?
Due to the odd means of entering the zone - you have to speak to the questgiver, who ports you in - I couldn't find a zoneline to run across. So I gated.

That put me back in the level 95 Hot Zone where I'd bound myself a couple of weeks back. Chastened, I revived my merc and spent the rest of the session beating up greens.

Still, I had proof of concept. Just had to prepare myself better. I left it 'til the next day, by which time my HA had expired. They have a fixed duration somewhere around five hours. I re-took it and got the NPC to take me in again.

Before I started I made a macro to target and hail the questgiver and say "Leave", the keyword for him to port me out again. I put that on a hot key so I could bail without ending up on the far side of the world. Then I started over, pulling even more cautiously than before.

Oh, I forgot to mention. EQ has collections now, just like EQII! And shinies! Probably going to do a post about that, sometime.
And this time everything went swimmingly. I worked my way through the linear zone, killing all the required mobs, clicking on all the necessary objects, getting every update needed to progress the quest. The estimate for HAs is supposedly 30-90 minutes. Mine took about an hour.

The xp was far from amazing but it wasn't terrible. I'd also forgotten to retake the Teek daily so I don't get the boost from that. The loot was good. The whole thing was enjoyable and very definitely doable. I mean, I'd just done it, so it pretty much had to be.

At that point I probably could have decided to replace my daily Franklin Teek task, now sadly not really worth the trip, with the daily adventure provided by his brother, who at least has the decency to provide transport. Only I had a better idea.

I was too high to get much more out of the Veil of Alaris expansion and I'd just successfully soloed some almost level-appropriate content in Call of Forsaken but I'd never even tried the one inbetween - Rain of Fear. So I did some more research and had a lightbulb moment. I could start at the beginning of the expansion and do the main questline!

Hey! Shoon! I know your brother. And your other brother. And your other, other brother...
Yes, radical, I know! But so far it's working out nicely. I've spent several sessions in the entry zone , Ethernere Tainted West Karana, which is West Karana only on fire. I'm a bit vague on the details but I think the Plane of Fear exploded and some the bits hit Norrath. Plus there was some kind of breach that let the Ethernere, Norrath's afterlife, leak through. It's kind of like World of Warcraft''s Cataclysm and Shadowlands had a baby.

I just finished the first leg of the tripartite opening questline last night. I also knocked off a bunch of "prove you're not just going to get yourself killed" quests for one of those guards you find in every fantasy game, the kind who talk a lot about how dangerous it is out there even though they plainly have no personal experience to go by, since they never leave the frickin' compound!

What you gonna do, Shoon? Call your big brother? Oh, wait, you're the big one!
More significantly, I also killed my first dark blue mob since the low 90s. Under EQ's arcane color-code, light blue mobs are standard solo targets but dark blues are better. I've been grubbing around at the bottom of my level range for so long it must be the best part of fifteen levels since I last saw a dark blue, much less killed one. I got quite excited.

If I'd known what was coming next I'd have saved myself. I was killing some lions for guard points when a very familiar-looking, green-shirted behemoth lumbered into view.

Well, you know what they say about the big ones. Eh, Shoon? Eh?
The Karanas have long been the stomping grounds (quite literally) of an extended family of cyclopses (is that the correct plural?).They're easily identified by their names, all of which end in "...oon". There's Broon, Proon, Droon, Mroon, Froon and Choon. And now, I discover, there's yet another brother, called Shoon. So I killed him. In fact, I've killed him three times, so far, just because I can.

He even dropped an item that was an upgrade. A cloak with slightly better hit points, mana and armor class than the one my Magician wears. Stats aren't ideal for her class, though. But it's the first time in a very long while I've killed a mob that drops stuff better than I've bought for myself in the Bazaar.

Okay, it was a weak slot that I hadn't upgraded in my current buying spree, I'll give you that. But it's the principle of the thing. It shows that, in theory, I could dress myself.

The most important thing, though, is that I'm having fun adventuring, in a somewhat-normal fashion. Granted I'm still seven years behind but it's progress.

Apparently the Stolen Traveler's Cloak is "most beneficial to Berserkers". I may still wear it, anyway.

My short-term plan is to carry on questing and exploring in Rain of Fear. Medium-term, I'm aiming on dinging 110, which is a gear threshold, then 111, which will get me the current, top-level air pet. At that point I should be technically capable grouping in current content, something I have no intention of doing.

Instead, I'd like to see some of the next three expansions after RoF, all of which held the cap at 105. That's a lot of content and all of it level-appropriate, near enough.

I could be here for a while.


  1. One of my oft-told early tales of EQ involves being out in West Karana and having Froon walk up on us. Up until that point everything I had seen was pretty much to my scale... skeletons, beetles, wolves, bandits... and then this giant cyclops comes stomping across the landscape, bigger than anything I had seen so far. It really lit the world up as a place where surprises awaited.

    1. It was the first Hill Giant I saw, stomping through West Commonlands, that had the same effect one me.


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