Friday, January 22, 2021

Learn From Experience

Here's a little story. Some of you may have heard it before. If you've played EverQuest it may even have happened to you, long ago, back in the day when things like this used to happen. Of course, they don't happen any more, even in EverQuest. Those days are long gone. Of course they are.

So, a couple of days ago Daybreak were doing some major platform maintenance. Might have been something to do with the recent sale, might just be start of year housekeeping, who knows? Doesn't matter. The point is, all the servers in every game were down for a while. 

In EQ that meant every character trading in the Bazaar, online or offline, got kicked back to character select. Normally I cash out my trader towards the end of the week then I restock for the weekend, when the servers are busiest and trade is brisk, but since he was available I thought I might as well do it early.

As you can see from the screenshot to the left, at character select there are a bunch of buttons just below the list of characters. I've always thought it was an odd design choice to have the Delete Character button there. It's just asking for trouble.

Don't worry! I didn't press that one by mistake. And even if I had, SOE long ago added a confirmation step to take the pressure off customer service. No, there's another button below "delete" that reads "Enter Tutorial". Can't say I've really paid much attention to it in the past.

Well, I will from now on.

You'll notice in the shot to the left that button is greyed out. That's because you can't go back to the tutorial once you reach level ten. On the main account I use these days when I play EverQuest I don't have anyone low enough to use it.

Also, as you can see if you look closely, you can see I'm already over the limit for character slots allowed under Daybreak's current free to play ruleset. In fact, I have seven playable characters out of a maximum of six thanks to some grandfathering rights, which is also probably why my account is flagged "Silver Player", a category I'm not sure exists any more for new players.

All this nit-picking detail is going to mean something in a bit. Patience!

If I was to take a screenshot of the other account I use for EQ, the one on which I have my Bazaar trader set up, you'd be able to see that there I have some characters who can revisit the Mines of Gloomingdeep, should they so desire.  Not that they would. I never liked that tutorial although I'm aware it's quite well thought of by some.

One of those characters is my Bazaar trader himself. He's a level two dwarf paladin and the only reason I can think of that he's not level one is that he must have dinged on discovery xp getting there from Kaladim. If EQ has discovery xp, which I'm not sure it does. 

However he managed it, he's never done anything else since. He lives in the Bazaar. The farthest he ever goes is down the ramp from his trading platform to the bank on the floor below and back. He's wearing the minimal gear he started with and all ten of his inventory slots are filled with trading bags, which in turn are filled with everything he has to sell.

One of the unusual features about the Bazaar when it was introduced with the Shadows of Luclin expansion nineteen years ago was that weight didn't exist there. At the time I think even coin still had weight but even if it didn't everything else certainly did. Weight-reducing bags were an essential accoutrement for all serious adventurers and it was common to see encumbered characters crawling towards vendors to try and sell their heaviest loot so they could move normally again.

In those stricter times it was even possible to find yourself so overweight you could literally no longer move at all, something which led to quite a few comedy moments when incautious players unthinkingly zoned their traders out of the weightless Bazaar to grab something from Plane of Knowledge, only to find the full burden of their bulging packs had nailed them to the ground. Not least because the tradeoff for Bazaar ten-slot bags being extremely cheap was they weigh a ton so you can't easily use them anywhere else.

It happened to me once. I had to get Mrs Bhagpuss to bring her druid over to buff me so I could get back through the door. 

Once bitten, though, eh? Not going to make that mistake again. And anyway, didn't they change Plane of Knowledge to have the same weight restrictions, or lack of them, as the Bazaar?

Spoiler! No, they didn't! And how do I know that? Did I assume otherwise and find out the hard way when I took my trader for a stroll across PoK? I wish! No, it was nothing that simple.

Remember that Enter Tutorial button I mentioned earlier? Think of it as Chekhov's gun. Yes, dear reader, I pressed the damned thing. And shot myself in the foot.

By mistake, of course. And I noticed even as I did it. Just not fast enough to do anything about it.

So there I was in Gloomingdeep. Even before I tried to move I guessed  what would happen when I did : nothing. I wasn't sure, though. I had hope. Maybe there is no encumbrance so bad it can't be shuffled off, these days. 

I play the game. You'd think I'd know but I didn't. I can explain. 

Modern gear in EverQuest has lots of stats. Even at low levels. If you play through the tutorial you'll emerge with enough strength to lift a carthorse let alone a few bags. The character I play most often has a strength of 1203 and she's a magician. She doesn't even need strength.

It's been a long time since any character I play in EverQuest hit their encumbrance level. Well, until yesterday. My paladin-trader was something like 360/60. He could not move. Okay, he could turn around on the spot, three hundred and sixty degrees, because physics works like that in Norrath. Take a step in any direction though? Not happening.

At this point I paused to take stock of my options. Walking out, even at a slow crawl? Off the table. Gating? Nope - melee classes don't get the Gate spell. 

How about "Return Home", the option SOE put in as a mercy to melees so they could at least log in somewhere safe? It's right there at character select. You can see it in the picture above. I logged him out and... just as in that picture, it was greyed out. Apparently it has a cooldown. The timer resets when you log in. How long for I'm not sure but longer than I wanted to wait.

Okay then. I have several accounts. How about I log another one in and send someone to the Gloomingdeep Mines to rescue the pally? Maybe a Druid who can open a portal to Plane of Knowledge. 

Yeah, that didn't work. Got to be under level ten to go to the tutorial, remember? I considered making a new character who would be able to go there, only I was over the character cap for the account. And anyway, what would they do? Carry him?

I had another think and as I was thinking a couple of players ran past me. In the Tutorial. What are the odds? Maybe I could ask one of them for help. I conned them. One was level two, the other was level six. Can't see them helping much. Why humiliate myself?

Maybe I had something in my bags that would help. There are plenty of "clickies" in EQ, items you can click to make something happen, like a port to somewhere. I checked. Guess what? I'd long since stripped the paladin of everything that might take up a valuable trading space. Nothing useful there.

I thought of trying /stuck. Every mmorpg has a command like that to save customer service from being bothered with players hung up on bits of scenery. I tried it. Command not recognized. No, I remember now, EQ never did have anything like that. It's a social game. You're supposed to call a friend to get you out of trouble. I've been that friend a few times. Only it's a long time since I spoke to anyone in EQ.

Next idea - Ranger Gate! That always works. Ranger gate is when a melee class needs to get back to bind in a hurry so they go up to the nearest NPC or mob that cons red and poke it with their sword. So-called because... well, rangers. Under level five you just wake up at your bind spot with all your stuff. A druid could come get him from there. 

I tried to attack the nearest NPC. Couldn't reach him. Tried taunting him. Out of range. Looked for a ranged weapon. Didn't have one.


At this point I was out of ideas. Time to check google. I found a thread on the forums about getting unstuck. Someone had linked to a list of items that might help. Top of that list was Book of Knowledge, a five-charge clickie that ports you to Plane of Knowledge (where else?). 

And where do you get a Book of Knowledge? From the Gift of Legacies Lost. And where do you get one of those? /Claim

Aha! That magical trove of freebies dear to the heart of every longtime EQ and EverQuest II player. The place where all the promos and special event items and bribes and anniversary gifts and expansion pre-order bonuses languish, forgotten and unclaimed. 

Best of all, you can grab them from anywhere, even in the tutorial. I checked and I had a mere 990 or so Gifts of Legacies Lost still pending. So I claimed one. Only one problem. It comes as a gift-wrapped present that goes inside a bag but to use the contents you have to open the gift, which then turns into a bag filled with stuff. And you can't put a full bag inside another bag. You need an open inventory slot. Which the pally didn't have, what with him being a trader and all.

Fortunately he'd had a pretty good few days on the trading floor. Quite a few of his bags were only partly full. It took some swapping about but eventually I managed to empty one of his bags into another and then put the empty bag in as well. Presto! Empty inventory slot. 

I got the Book of Knowledge, clicked it, and presto again! Gate to PoK. Geez! Nightmare over.

Oh yeah, you'd think so, wouldn't you? Remember when I said I was pretty sure they'd given Plane of knowledge the same weightlessness as the Bazaar? Yeah, that never happened. Still couldn't move.

At least now the paladin was somewhere my other account could reach him. I got the magician out. She was going to take his money and give him more mats to sell anyway so why not save some time. She could levitate him and he could float his way home. 

Apparently being levitated has no effect on encumbrance. Didn't know that. 

In the end I logged in my druid, brought her over, gave the pally a blast of the old reliable, Spirit of Wolf, plus the highest strength buff he could take and that was just enough to let him waddle off across the grass, back to the Bazaar. The whole escapade took about forty minutes or a quarter of the time it's taken me to write it all down.

The moral of this story is Never Press the Wrong Button. Accidents will happen, though, so the real takeaway has to be Pick the Right Person for the Job. Next time I need a Bazaar trader I'll quickly level a Druid into the teens and then something like this can never happen again.

No, next time it'll be something else.


  1. That is a *great* story. Thanks for sharing it!

    1. Even as it was happening I was thinking about getting a story out of it. And then I told myself it wasn't *that* interesting, so I didn't take any screenshots. Although if I had it would just have been of a dwarf standing still, looking puzzled.

  2. Hah. Great story.

    While not nearly so dramatic, I do remember the days when Asheron's Call still had weight attached to Pyreals (the currency of the game).

    On at least one occasion, I'd been right at that middle step of having sold my loot, but not yet having turned the cold hard coin into trade notes, more easily transportable... When an RPK raid would hit town.

    With me there, waddling, slowly, between the last vendor I'd just sold from toward the one I wished to hold trade notes for.

    It always went about as well as you'd expect, although it was occasionally amusing to just accept fate and go turret mode. As with EQ -- turning on the spot, no problem. So just stand yer ground and start blastin' at anything that comes your way with bad intent.

    1. While I don't think most people would accept these kind of unscripted events these days, it always was stuff like this that made for good stories and good memories. So long as you do manage to get out of it safely in the end, that is. There was a point, when I was standing in the mines, carrying several hundred thousand platinum-worth of trade goods and all out of ideas on how to get it back to civilization, that it didn't seem quite so amusing but I've been at this long enough to know there would be some way out - just had to work out what it was!

  3. I agree with the others, this was an very funny story to read. I had totally forgotten about how games used to deal with encumbrance. Or how, in addition to weight, some games would actually treat a piece of plate armor as taking more space than a ring.

    Been a long time, hasn't it?


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