Saturday, May 30, 2020

Numbers Don't Lie : EverQuest

I've seen some unnerving suggestions we should all be using the unexpected personal time available during the extended lockdown to get stuff done. I like to resist such puritan notions, although I have done rather more gardening than usual and I just today took delivery of some paint and brushes in preparation for painting the stairs next week.

Mostly what I've done with the time is to write an inordinate number of blog posts. By chance I had the two weeks immediately prior to tlockdown off work as holiday, so I've now been at home for more than ten straight weeks and I've posted on sixty-three consecutive days, from March 28 until the post you're reading now. I might slacken off soon.

I do find it remarkably easy to do things that are similar to work but aren't actually work, as Mrs Bhagpuss pointed out to me only this week. Yesterday and today, for example, I spent several hours logging into EverQuest on three accounts and writing down, in longhand, the race, name, class and level of every character on every server.

It's a count somewhat compromised by a couple of factors. Firstly, there are those pesky Progression/Time-Limited and Special Ruleset servers. I can't log into any of those on two of the three accounts because only All Access members are entitled to play on them. I'm fairly sure I don't have many characters on those but there are bound to be a few.

Also, while I'm on the topic, I made a major statistical faux pas the other day, when I said that the recent mergers left Darkpaw with three such servers, to which they were about to add two more. I was radically under-representing the true position.

There are three preferred TLE servers, Mangler, Selo and Miragul, plus the two new ones, Aradune and Rizlona, but there are four more non-preferred ones, Coirnav, Ragefire, Phinigel and Agnarr, making a total of nine. That does seem like an awful lot of retro/nostalgia servers, especially after the least-popular ones were just merged.

The other element of confusion in my character count is the oft-mentioned tangled history of accounts played at various times by myself, Mrs Bhagpuss or both of us at once. Not literally at once, like some kind of bravura keyboard duet, sadly, but turn and turn about.

Also, there are some characters we both played and, to my considerable confusion, several whose origin and ownership I genuinely cannot recall. Since I'm now the only EQ player in the house I can, theoretically, play any or all of the characters whenever I feel like it, so I'm going to lump them all in together.

In total there are seventy-one characters, which is perhaps a little fewer than I expected. I can think of one or two that are missing. There was a time when Sony Online Entertainment didn't automatically transfer all characters on a server merge. Below a certain level, ten for example,they had to be logged in prior to the merge to prove they were still played or they'd flick into non-existence when the databases combined.

I had a monk on Rallos Zek and a ranger on Sullon Zek who met their end that way. Probably a few other low levels here and there encountered a similar fate. I'm still quite annoyed by the loss of that monk, who would have been one of my earliest characters. I played him quite a bit even if he did never get past about level six.

It's no surprise to find that the most played race is Gnome with twenty-two examples. Next comes Human with nine, something of a surprise, perhaps, but both Mrs Bhagpuss and I liked the original Human character models. I still do.

After that it's all fairly even. At the bottom end, the two Iksar are mine and the two Drakkin are both Mrs Bhagpuss's from, I think, our time in The Serpent's Spine. Ogre, Froglok and Halfling are the least popular with a single representative each, all of them mine.

The Ogre is my Shadow Knight. Ogres were preferred for tanking because of their total immunity to being stunned from the front. Other than that, as a very large race, they were a serious pain to play in confined spaces. If there wasn't a shaman on hand to shrink my Ogre SK he wasn't going anywhere near Lower Guk.

Halflings I always found embarassing, especially the males. I can remember exactly how my one Halfling got made, along with a good deal of her play history.  She was a Warrior, who I made at the launch of Tholuxe Paells server to partner someone whose name I've long forgotten. We agreed to start there as a duo and that's why I was playing an unusual class/race combo - it was all part of some prepared plan that fell apart in a matter of days when whoever I was supposed to be duoing with lost interest and disappeared back to their old server.

Tholuxe Paells itself is long gone, too. Dorothy's been shunted around a few times, ending up on Bertoxxolous-Saryrn alongside a whole crew of characters that used to be our Antonius Bayle team. Looking at her gear I can remember buying much of it in the Bazaar before having a good run out with her back when Mercenaries appeared.

Most popular class is a tie between Druid and Necromancer but that's a tad misleading. Unlike Mrs. Bhagpuss, I've never actually played a Necromancer at anything like the level cap of the time. Instead, what I tend to do is make a Necro for every Progression server. They have a huge advantage at low levels, with particularly powerful pets that can be had for the price of a few extremely commonplace bone chips. There are always a lot of necros on any new server.

Druids also solo very well but not until much later. They're a real pain to get started, not beginning to show their true soloing colors until the thirties. Both classes are excellent soloists and group members at higher levels, if well played. So many are badly played, though, it can often be a tough task getting the chance to convince anyone you're the exception.

The five Paladins are also a bit of a trick. Only one of those has ever been played properly and that's Mrs Bhagpuss's level fifty-four, who used to tank for us on occasion, back in the day. Three of the others are bank mules of mine. I tend to choose Paladin for that thankless task because it's the class I'm least likely to be tempted to play. To make sure they'll never leave Plane of knowledge, I recommend making the pally that most odious of races, a Froglok.

I was puzzled, then, to find I have a level 51 Paladin  on Firiona Vie. I am guessing I made that character to do something on the now-defunct Free Trade server Brekt, which was rolled into Firiona Vie in the last round of merges. I'm also guessing there was some option to start at level 51, something that has happened a few times. I don't think the character has ever been played and I can all but guarantee it never will be.

Level ranges are interesting. My highest character is my Gnome Magician on Luclin-Stromm. She was levelled authentically to the mid-60s, then boosted to 85 on a giveaway. She then levelled authentically again to 93 before settling down in the Guild Lobby to do the daily Overseer quests.

She dinged 98 this morning. My plan is to take her to one hundred doing Overseer missions before kitting her out with new gear and spells until I run out of money. Then I'll take her on a tour of some of the places she was struggling to level in at 93. Seven levels in EQ is a huge step up so I'm hoping that could be fun.

After her I have a whole bunch of eighty-fives, all boosted with Heroic freebies, and then my 84 Beastlord, who did every one of those levels the hard way. The level 78 necromancer is Mrs. Bhagpuss's highest character from back when she played. That was my Beastlord's main duo partner although you can see that I carried on for a good while alone afterwards.

Below that comes a huge slew of characters from the thirties to the sixties, reperesenting the peak of our involvement with the game. All of those have been played very extensively. Most of the rest are either classes or races I didn't get on with or stem from my determination to play on every new server when it launched.

Some of them have been around for a lot longer than their low levels might suggest. The level sixteen human warrior and level eleven human wizard, for example, are two of my very oldest characters. I still get them out and run them around, now and again.

I'm not sure this is the sort of thing those people advocating we all make good use of our enforced leisure would have had in mind but it is quite useful. It's not all that unusual for me to want to log in a particular character for some reason or other only to end up spending so long trying to find which account and server they're on I run out of patience before I find them.

There are also those few characters I discovered that I can't remember ever seeing before. A level thirty-five Druid on Xegony-Druzzil Ro, for one. Where did she come from? Or another Druid, level 39, on Bertoxxolous-Saryrn, with a name I entirely fail to recognize.

Mysteries that may never be solved. Or ever need to be, for that matter.


  1. That's impressive. And I thought I was a major altoholic. :) Granted, you did share your accounts, but 71 character is still pretty darn cool.

    1. Well, it is over a span of twenty years...

  2. Ooh, I love me a good character spreadsheet! Now you just have to add where they were last played, what professions they have (or whatever else might be useful to know in EQ) and you'll never be wondering which character to log ever again!

    1. I'm not a fan of spreadsheets. I had several paragraphs in the post where I went on about that and about how much better databases are but then I realised I hadn't actually used a spreadsheet for a decade and a half or a database since the 1980s so most of what I was complaining about probably was going to be hideously out of date. I did understand this stuff once but it was a loooong time ago...


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