Wednesday, June 29, 2022

You Wait All Year For One Scorched Sky And Then Two Come Along At Once

Even though I have EverQuest News in Feedly, the first I knew about the appearance of Scorched Sky in old Norrath was when I read this post at MassivelyOP. Once I'd decoded Eliot's attempts at humor (I know, I know - pots, kettles, glass houses...) I worked out that, once again, time has been working backwards and a holiday introduced in EverQuest II has somehow made its way back half a millenium.

EQII's own Scorched Sky celebrations, now part of the Summer Extravaganza (A better name than Summer Jubilee, I think, Daybreak. Feel free to change it. I won't even ask for a credit.) begin tomorrow. I'm looking forward to seeing what's new. I was impressed with the additions to Tinkerfest earlier in the month, even if I never did find the time to go back and run the dungeon the required half dozen times.

As it happens, only yesterday as I was writing about EQ2II's 64-bit upgrade, I was thinking about taking another run at the elder game. It's about time. It's been ages since I last played. We've had a new expansion and a level increase since then. 

As I've complained many times, for historical reasons involving ineptitude and lack of foresight, my EQ Magician, far and away my best-equipped, best prepared and highest level character, is on an account for which I don't currently have All Access membership. Otherwise, I would have bought the most recent expansion, Terror of Luclin, just to be able to level up to 120. Every time there's a level cap increase I get a renewed interest in the game that lasts a couple of months so it would definitely have been worth it.

It would be nuts to buy the expansion and not subscribe, though. If I'd done that I'd have ended up paying for two All Access subscriptions and using one each for EQ and EQII, the dictionary definition of insanity. Fortunately, DBG have long followed a very sensible and generous policy of adding each expansion to the Free to Play offer once two more have followed. 2019's Torment of Velious went F2P earlier this month. I just have to wait until 2024 for ToL to join it.

Or I could just get on with gearing up my Necromancer on the All Access account. I was doing that last year or was it the year before? A Necro might suit me even better than the mage. Can't beat that Feign Death pause button.

The great thing about level cap increases in EverQuest is that even if you don't subscribe and therefore have no access to the extra levels, there's a powerful trickle-down effect that, unlike the Reagonomics version, actually benefits the little guy. As with most mmorpgs that have seen an update since around the turn of the millennium, much of the gear in EverQuest is either untradable (No Drop) or only tradable within the same account (Heirloom). Much but very importantly not all.

Each new expansion always brings a flurry of items to the Broker that come as significant upgrades to solo players at the level cap. I imagine they're of little interest to regular group players doing Heroic Dungeon content and it goes without saying that raiders don't bother with gear you can buy on the Bazaar. For casual scruffs like me, though, it's a welcome windfall.

There are always a few items that drop so commonly in the latest content they sell for very reasonable sums, even if prices aren't what you'd call cheap by the standards of a true casual. EQ, like many ageing mmorpgs, has long suffered from hyper-inflation. These days you're talking low six figures for just about any at-cap gear, even at the bargain basement end.

There are a few simple ways for even a very casual player to make that kind of money, luckily. I worked the Overseer system quite diligently when I was playing regularly a couple of years ago and this morning I was pleased to find I still had more than enough liquid cash to scoop up several solid upgrades for the Magician. 

Even though it's been a good while since I last played, I was happy to find the returning player learning curve very gentle. I made a couple of errors but it didn't take long before I felt comfortable enough to take the portal to Neriak and run my Mage over to Lavastorm to see what the new holiday content looked like.

I'd already started the new Scorched Sky Overseer mission while I was still in the Guild Lobby, sorting my spells and hoping for some Mass Group Buff joy for my pet. Called Season of Flame, it's a recruitment quest that gives you four event-specific Agents. According to the news release, there are six new Overseer quests for the holiday so I'm guessing the rest appear once you have the Agents.

I found the new questgiver, Carlene Snizzlefriz, a gnome, inevitably with a name like that, waiting around outside the entrance to the Temple of Solusek Ro. Alongside her was a fire goblin called Char the Brunt (Goblins can't spell). He turns up as one of the Overseer Agents but he has an actual, open-world quest too.

The gang's all here!


My plan was to do the new Mission, for which you need to be Level 100. My Magician is 115 and she, the pet and her mercenary are MGB'd virtually to raid level, so I thought it would be worth a try, even though going into instanced content in EverQuest when you're as rusty as I am is always a risk. Although not if you forget to do it.

It was a typical day in old Norrath, to be honest. I'd already been playing for an hour or more, just getting my spells up to code and buying the new gear. I stopped for lunch and when I came back I decided to go straight to Lavastorm. 

When I picked up the quests and began doing them, I realized both the quests and the mobs were level-appropriate to the zone, not keyed to the level of the character. I one-shotted a few mobs for the quest that required drops but everything I killed dropped nothing so I'm guessing you need to be getting xp to see the items. 

I tried the other quest, where you have to catch mobs and bring them back to the camp, but I soon ran into problems there. The net you throw over them only works when the mob is "weakened". It's pretty hard to "weaken" a level 26 rat with the kind of DPS a level 115 Magician puts out. It pretty much vaporizes.

A rat, by any other name...


There are ways you could do it but even if they work it's fiddly and annoying so instead I swapped to my Level 48 Druid. She's roughly the right level and she has her own transport.

Things worked out well enough. I took her to the camp and got the quests then I started on the catch-and-bring-back task. The first target was a Murp Lurp Glurp according to Char the goblin. It turned out to be a rat. 

The Murp conned grey to my Druid but had plenty enough hit points to be whittled down steadily until it was weak enough to capture. There were four more animals to catch, all with amusing goblish names,  each one tougher than the last. By the time I got to the fifth and final creature, a Steaming Stone Swirler, it was conning light blue, the standard solo target for leveling purposes.

And damned well stay there!


Every one of the new Scorched Sky creatures is also highly aggressive and there are plenty of them. I was treating the whole thing like a jolly until I found myself fighting a a Flappy Fast Flare and a Steaming Stone Swirler at the same time with my health dropping alarmingly. Fortunately, I've been playing druids since about January 2000 and it's like riding a bike so I soon had things under control. Even so, it's a salutary example of why even experienced players should never take Norrath for granted.

It was also a reminder of how long it takes to do anything in EverQuest. Just catching and returning five creatures, none of which was very far from the camp, took about forty minutes. All in all, since I patched up and logged in before lunch, I'd been playing for around three hours. And it's a quite tiring kind of play, too, even when it's just some low-level holiday fun.

Rarely was a quest more aptly named.
That's why I called it a day after the first quest, for which I got just over 290 plat and 3% of level 48. It was fun and I enjoyed it but there are quicker ways both to make money and xp. 

I would like to do the mission but I'm not sure whether I'll be able to fit it in before the event ends on July 10. My time is a little squeezed right now and I'd definitely want to prioritize the EQII version of Scorched Sky over this one.

I'm glad I made the effort to re-introduce myself to EQ, though. It's a game that never stales, not least because of the mechanics of the combat, something I find infinitely appealing and which I have rarely found adequately replicated anywhere else. You just have to have nothing else to do that day to enjoy it to the full.


  1. I need to get back to Everquest. I have a Necromancer up to about 60, and I really want to level him the old fashioned slow way instead of using a level boost. However grinding seems to be the only way to get through those levels, so whenever I do fire the game up I usually end up trying a new class and playing through the tutorial area and Crescent Reach again instead.

    1. Hmm. It's been a good while since I last levelled a character from low level the old-fashioned way but I seem to remember things absolutely flying along compared to the old days until I got to about seventy. After that it slowed down a lot until I did some reasearch on better places to hunt, which speeded everything up again.

      I ended up topping out in the nineties and stuck there until Overseer was added to the game. That gave me a huge boost and I was able to make it all the way to the then-cap of 115. I don't know if you want to count Overseer as part of the levelling experience you're looking for, but if you work on it to get a decent selection of agents and missions and then pick the right ones each day it can give you something like 5-10% of a level every day for about five minutes effort. That's a huge boost to leveling if you play most days and of course you can carry on your normal leveling as well.

      I seem to remember I was getting about 2-3% of a level from hunting if I played for a 2-3 hour session and more twice that from my five minutes of Overseer quests. Without that extra boost it does get exceedingly slow for a solo player at higher levels. The other big boost to xp is Adventures or whatever they're called. I forget the terminology. They give a lot of xp but they also take a while. And of course Franklin Teek's daily quests from PoK are essential, although I found they got too hard at some points, especially with some of the zone choices.

      Also always use any xp boosters you can get and make the most of every time the server has bonus xp weekends. And do a LOT of research! The thing that really helped me more than anything else when I was actively leveling characters after a long time away from the game was reading every online guide I could find (and ignoring the out of date ones, of which there are many). The sheer size of EQ and it's continual, active development over so many years makes it ferociously difficult to know what to do without help from people who've actually been paying attention to al the changes!


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