Saturday, December 28, 2013

We've Gone On A Quest By Mistake : EQ2

Freeport was never the most relaxing shore-leave you could find but the current crisis makes even the pending anarchy of Lucan's sabbatical, a time when you could get kicked in the backside by a self-appointed "guard" just for having the temerity to walk down the cobbled street from The Jade Tiger to the docks, feel like the Glory Days. There are dragons circling the city, breathing fire in that disconcerting way that dragons have when they want to let you know they're ticked.

Doubting The Overlord is a criminal offense, Citizen.
I'm a tad vague on how they came to be there or what Lucan might have done to upset them but whatever it was Our Overlord has the mages of the Academy of Arcane Science working overtime maintaining a protective dome over the entire town lest the dragons burn it to the ground. It's putting quite a damper on the Frostfell festivities, I can tell you.

As a Freeportian in good standing with the citizenship papers to prove it, my Berserker has every confidence in Lucan's capacity to handle a few dozen dragons. Some of the sniveling common-folk whimpering in the streets and alleyways aren't showing the unquestioning loyalty to the Overlord they should, although of course, they don't have all their valuables safely stashed in a mansion in Maj'Dul like some forward-thinking rats do, but still...we must have faith! The Overlord Will Prevail!

And so is Defeatism!
It so happened that when my Berserker finished helping his Othmir pals get settled into their new, undead-Ulthork-free home in Cobalt Scar the bags and boxes he lugs around to carry the vast amount of stuff he seems to acquire everywhere he goes were full to bursting. (Seriously, what kind of refugees hand out dining-room furniture for favors done anyway?). He'd been on a killing spree for what seemed like weeks and he seriously needed a clear-out, not to mention his armor needed a good scrub down and re-oiling, which is how he came to be back in good old Freeport in the first place.

Dismissing all concern of imminent draconic destruction, he was rummaging through his bags at the counter of the Freeport Bank, when he came across a strangely-marked hide. So much had happened of late with scarcely a minute to stop and reflect that he'd forgotten all about the strange, shadowy creatures that attacked him, first in Cobalt Scar and later in Great Divide. He'd just shoved the odd skin he'd found into his packs to examine more closely later. Well, now it was later.

And that was how it all began. A close examination of the hide revealed a brand unlike any he'd seen before. Thinking it through he recalled an old acquaintance from his younger days, Grim Stormshield, sometimes referred to as the Nesingwary of Norrath, although not to his face. Last seen, Stormshield used to hang out in an isolated camp in the Jarsath Wastes.

Today feels like a good day to buy a lottery ticket
Jarsath Wastes never used to be the easiest place to get to, which is why it was always worth making the considerable effort to acquire the Fabled Worker Sledgemallet. Even once there it was a fair old trek out to Stormshield's camp. Those days are long gone, it seems. Rather than whacking hapless wildlife in the Commonlands in the hope of a proc, nowadays it's a quick ding on the World Bell and there you are on the Danak Shipyard docks. What's more, Ormark Stormshield is standing right there with a rent-a-horse trained to go straight to his brother and there's still paid time on the clock from a previous customer that he's happy to let you use. Now that's what I call timing.

And that's how it went. I found myself involved in a quest that I wasn't expecting, that I'd acquired by happenstance and that I was following out of pure, natural curiosity. Each step followed neatly and logically from the preceding one, requiring a good deal of travel but providing just the right options to make the journey a pleasant run out rather than a painful slog.

Got that right.
The winding path took me from Jarsath Wastes back to Freeport then on to Somborne Village in the Loping Plains, to a secret lair beneath the Nektulos Forest shore, into the formless void of a Spiritual Wound and under the sea to a sunken cave off the Butcherblock coast. There was a lot of overwrought, overwritten metaphysical maundering and plenty of punch-ups. At no point did I really know what I was doing or why and it was great!

All the while I was trying to guess what the purpose of the quest might be. Was it a lead-in to the new expansion? Maybe, but it didn't seem to have much to do with dragons. Was it a Heritage Quest? Possibly, but I couldn't think what ancient Everquest item it might be. Could it be a Holiday Event? Didn't seem very seasonal.

That sound you hear? It's a penny dropping.
Not knowing why I was doing this long sequence of tasks made each step all the more fascinating. It felt like a throwback to how questing in Norrath used to be, only with the good parts - the mystery, the speculation, the curiosity - left in and the bad parts - the tedium, the dead-ends, the massive xp loss - left out.

Of course, at any time I could have googled to find out what was going on but the whole thing flowed so smoothly it literally never occurred to me. I generally only look up quest walkthroughs when I get stuck or frustrated and that never happened. It wasn't until about three-quarters of the way through that I began to get an inkling that what I was doing might be related to the new class that was added with the Tears of Veeshan expansion but I still wasn't sure until I reached the very end and received my Arrow of Spirit.

What's more, I still have no idea if the quest is something you have to do before you can roll
a Channeler or whether it's just some lore and flavor to get you in the mood. I don't even especially want to play a Channeler. Or I didn't, before this. Now I think I just might.

This is what questing used to be like before it got a bad name, isn't it? Alright, probably not. It's what I'd like it to be like from now on, though.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide