Monday, April 12, 2021

Buckle Up! (The One And Only Spacey Catgirl)

One of the things that supposedly got me all excited for the launch of EverQuest II's Reign of Shadows expansion late last year was the inclusion of the Vah Shir as a playable race. One of my most-played characters in the original EverQuest was a Vah Shir Beastlord and I have a huge fondness both for the race and the lore surrounding it.

I say "supposedly" because although I was eager enough to fork over the required thousand Daybreak Cash for an extra character slot months ago it turned out I wasn't keen enough to use it until today.

 Partly it's that I've had other things on my mind. First Disco Elysium, then Valheim. Serial game-buying isn't conducive to parallel game-playing, it would appear. Who'd have guessed?

Mostly, though, it was that I couldn't make up my mind what class to choose. I had it narrowed down to either a Magician or one of the Scouts, which wasn't really narrowing it down all that far. There are seven scouts.

As is usual with these dilemmas, really I knew what I wanted. I fancied playing a Mage. So a couple of hours ago I logged in and made a Swashbuckler.

It was a practical decision. I don't have any characters on Skyfire who wear chain armor. I keep getting the stuff and I can't do much with it other than transmute it for mats and I don't need any more mats right now. Selling it for a pittance to NPC vendors annoys me. I might want another cloth class but I need someone who wears chain.

For a given value of "need", that is. There's not much prospect of any new character I make getting played regularly, let alone seriously. I have six max level characters already and only one of them is up to scratch, even by my louche, casual standards.

Race and class decided, next came the rest of the panoply of choices: gender, appearance, alignment, starting city, server. And, of course, name. The tough one.

I looked at the male first. Geez... Remember the EQ Next Kerran? The one everyone hated? Looked a lot better than the male Vah Shir with his head shaped like an anvil - if the anvil was made out of dough. Hard nope.

The female didn't look a lot better until I hit randomize and a perfectly palatable cat-person appeared. She even had cheekbones. I spent a while going through the options. There didn't seem to be nearly as many as some other races get. Only five hairstyles? Six, if you count "Bald". Which I definitely don't. And Vah Shir have to make do with Kerran voices? Shabby.

Doesn't really matter how many or how few the options are, so long as you can get something you're happy with, I guess. I was pleased with my new look. Very different from anything else I play these days. 

Alignment was a given: Vah Shir have to be good. That means starting in one of three places: Qeynos, New Halas or Kelethin. Of the three I only really like Qeynos. Kelethin is just impossible. All those platforms. And elves. New Halas I find bleak and depressing. It makes me feel cold just looking at it. Can't they at least put doors on their shacks?

What I really wanted was a new starting area just for Vah Shir, of course. When I saw in the promotional material for Reign of Shadows that we'd be getting both the city of Shar Vahl and the zone outside it, Shadeweaver's Thicket, I naively imagined Vah Shir player-characters would get to start there, just like they did in EverQuest. 

No such luck. Everything in RoS is determinedly designed for level 120s only. As I discovered later, you even have to be max level to start the Vah Shir racial questline. 

I do get why Daybreak wouldn't want to add yet another starting area, even if they had the resources to develop one. We already have a choice of six and that's not even counting Qeynos and Freeport, which still retain almost all of the original starting content for anyone who knows where to go. Still, it's hard to call yourself a true mooncat if you have to grow up on earth. On Norrath. Oh, you know what I mean... 

Smell that sea air!


In the end it was a purely nominal decision. I picked Qeynos but I was only there for a few minutes. Taking Qeynos as your starting option doesn't mean you start in in Qeynos, anyway. Oh, no. That would be far too straightforward.

Logging in for the first time, I found myself once again on the good ship Far Journey. The days when that spurred a fizzling burst of nostalgia are long gone. I've done the trip to the Isles of Refuge to death in recent years. Fortunately, as a member, there's always the option of instant travel. 

Without moving from my spawn-in spot on deck I popped up the map and clicked on Qeynos. See that, Captain Varlos? No one needs you!

I'd already decided I was going to use a level boost. I have a fury in the nineties on Skyfire and a dirge in her twenties on Kaladim, both of whom I'm actively, if sporadically, levelling the old-fashioned way. I don't need to start over again just now. 

The question was, which level boost?

Now I want to go see if the Proving Grounds still exist...
Looking through my banks and /claim, I found half a dozen to choose from: two Level 100 boosts, three 110s and a 120. After the recent discussion on experience vials (two more sold overnight, by the way, but again to the same guy, who put them straight up for sale, so I'm still none the wiser) I thought I'd go for the 100 option and maybe experiment a little.

The boost I picked was one I'd picked up in some Proving Grounds promotion. Remember the Proving Grounds? No, I don't imagine anyone else does, either. Another flower gone to seed.

I applied the boost, dinged 100 and received a care package. I spent a few minutes unpacking it all, getting dressed and sorting out my new set of 24-slot bags. Then I opened my Knowledge Book and spent a lot longer reading every new combat art and slotting them all onto my hot bars (which I'd copied from my Berserker, as I always do, even though it means starting with a lot more slots than I'm going to need right away).

Next I opened the Claim window and claimed one of every "per character" item in there, except for the Veteran packs, half of which I know from experience will end up filling my bags with stuff I won't ever get round to using. 

For some incomprehensible reason the Proving Grounds boost comes with one of the most irritating mounts, a giant wiggly worm that gets in everyones' way at the bank and has an undulating motion that makes me nauseous. And I don't even suffer from motion sickness. Fortunately I have other mounts I can claim so it was off to the imaginary stables for Faerelith, The Obedient One.

Seriously? That's the mount you went with? It couldn't have been a horse?

It was all going nicely. I was about ready to go try out my new skills. And then it occurred to me. I was heading to Plane of Magic, the obvious, indeed possibly the only, choice at 100. And what would be waiting for me at the zone-in?

Tishan's Lockbox, of course. And inside it, a full set of gear and weapons that would make everything I'd just equipped obsolete. 

Fine! I'll just go swap it all out, then. It won't take a minute. So I did that. Only none of the gear comes with adornments. I have bags and bags full of those. I just have to remember who's got them. Or I could make some new ones. It's not like I don't have the mats.

But hang on... I'm going to need the Panda quest adorns, too. Good thing I have instant travel.

It's a big upgrade but the sad thing is
I had a load of even better Level 100 gear in the bank
until I melted it all down for parts.

I won't go on. I'm sure you get the drift. It took me the best part of an hour and a half to get my new Vah Shir Swashbuckler to the point where I felt ready to take her adventuring, by which time lunch was ready, so I had to log out. And then I came here to write this. 

Will I ever get to play her? Yes, I expect so. Eventually. I want to do the Vah Shir racial questline for one thing. Unfortunately, it starts in Shar Vahl and you need to be 120 before Animist Sanura will even speak to you. So I have some work to do.

In a way it makes me wonder how new and returning players manage but then they probably won't have anything like as many confusing, overlapping and conflicting choices as someone like me, who's been playing forever and still has nearly all the freebies ever handed out just sitting around, waiting to be used. If you were a real newbie you'd probably either begin at level one and play properly or you'd buy the latest expansion, use the max-level boost that comes with it and just accept what it gives you.

My way's more fun, though. No, it is. Really. I'm telling you...


  1. I used my level boost on a Swashbuckler as well. I had to do the hat quest though. I just have to have the Swashbuckler hat!!! Lot of fun to play.

    1. OMG! I totally forgot about the class hats! I did Blood of the Brood on several characters but it was so long ago I had to google it to remember what it was. Now I have a new project. Thanks!

  2. Maye I am crazy, but that model does look different and more interesting than the old cat race to me. Did you actually go back and forth to see if the races look different?

    1. Hmm. No, I didn't, but one of my oldest characters, in fact my highest-level at the time on the first server I played on (Steamfont) before the first server merge, was a Kerran. I could get him out and compare looks. I remember him as being quite different but it's a long time since I've seen him.


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