I like to think I enjoy dungeons in MMOs when the group I’m in isn’t depending upon me for anything. All I have to do is some simple task, and then everyone else does all the hard work.
I LIKE to think that — but it isn’t true. I’m a team player. At work I’m a team player. I really do enjoy it when, as a team, we accomplish something of which I was a part. I wasn’t always that way — when I was young, I was always looking to stand out, to be better than anyone.
Maybe that’s just a maturity that arose as I aged. But I want to believe that it was because MMOs taught me the value of the team. And the extra value of being a key — but not the only — contributor in that team. Sounds very corporate, I admit. But then, I’m a corporate IT web developer. That job wouldn’t be as much fun if I had to go it alone.
As such, I’ve never been a big fan of soloing in MMOs. During last weekend’s double xp in Neverwinter, I wanted to get my remaining non-max level character, my cleric Dera, a few levels of her own. If not during a double xp weekend, then when, right?
When I played a cleric in beta, I thought they were unstoppable mega-gods — easy mode soloing, and still vital to a group. I leveled one up in the beginning content when the game went live, and since then, Dera largely sat in the Moonstone Mask floating bar, doing crafting and farming invocations for astral diamonds. When she started in on Leadership, her levels really began to climb, all without doing a single quest or killing a single monster.
I’d managed to level right through all the lower level content to Ebon Downs, a vast wasteland of powerful undead. That zone was hard enough when I did it with my rogue and my fighter; to an undergeared, underskilled cleric, it was a nightmare. I started crafting some better armor and weapons and doing skirmishes — quick group content — to get back in the swing of things.
After a half dozen of the Ebon Downs skirmishes, I’d figured out how to play the character again, gotten my power selection correct, and had leveled out of the Downs and into the much more fun version of Veliosk, a wilderness zone overrun with werewolves.
Since this was a double xp weekend, all the zones were busy, and I got a lot of small groups to help with quests and stuff. When one group started shouting for a healer to do the zone dungeon, Grey Wolf Den, I volunteered. We…
Hey, hmm, have the timing off. I’d previously healed that weekend for Lair of the Mad Dragon, the Helms Hold dungeon, and Throne of Idris, the Ebon Downs dungeon. Those were both successes, and I don’t think anyone was unhappy with my performance.
But Grey Wolf Den was different. I’d been soloing there with my Guardian Fighter, trying to get the achievement for finishing it on that character, but it was very slow. I got through the first boss fight without any issues, but the fight itself took more than twenty minutes, and it had taken longer than that to clear to that point. I really needed a group to do it.
So I was more than thrilled when a group needed a cleric. There was a level 60 rogue helping out a guildie, and he explained to me all the spells I needed to have ready. Turns out he also had a max level cleric. I was happy to see that I already have all the relevant skills ready. I’d read the forums. I knew the preferred cleric build.
Played through, and at the end he offered me a guild invite. See, while my rogue and fighter are in Combat Wombat, there’s never been anyone online to invite Dera into the guild. She’s been unguilded all along, and with Combat Wombat being a dead guild, there’s been no real pressure to get Kasul to do the inviting the one night we play.
Dera has been offered random guild invites from strangers, of course, every unguilded character gets those, I’ve declined them all. But to get one from someone with whom you’ve grouped, someone who actually came to a lowbie dungeon to help a guildie, well — I accepted.
And then when I finished the Veliosk quests and needed to run the dungeon again for completion, they came and helped get through it again. So that was a nice feeling. It’s really nice to be able to just talk to people when I’m online.
I moved on to Pirate’s Skyhold. Kasul and I leveled too fast to do that zone, but Dera ended at just the right level for it. The quests weren’t too hard until I got to Skull Fortress. I can’t even find the entrance to that place. Anyway, zone was yelling for a healer for the zone dungeon, Pirate King, so I volunteered.
Things were going well until the end. We just couldn’t DPS him enough before his adds overwhelmed us. I’d bought 20 health potions at the beginning of the adventure and used them all. I had to run back to the start of the zone to buy more. In Neverwinter, clerics do the vast majority of the healing, but can’t do all of it, and usually everyone has to be at least partially responsible for keeping themselves alive. Stay out of the red, out of the fire, jump out of the fray to get healed, that sort of thing. Clerics themselves are no different. The group buffs I had to cast and the heals themselves caught me a lot of aggro from adds, and only potions allowed me to survive being the target of every archer that spawned.
Group didn’t have a guardian fighter, you see. Nina would have gathered those up. We tried different strats, but until one of the control wizards offered to come back as his max level great weapon fighter, we had gotten close but never gotten the kill. With the GWF, though, it was no trouble.
So, saw a lot of new dungeons, got a new guild, and a lot of new levels. It was a good weekend.
One of the things I most enjoyed while writing The Crypt of Befallen was the opportunity to make some old friends part of the story. In early EverQuest, your guild said a lot about you — every guild had its history of accomplishments, setbacks, alliances and enmities. When you joined, you were taking a stand, of sorts. If you joined a spam guild, nobody would want you in their group. If you were any GOOD, you’d be in a good guild. Every player knew most of the guilds on the server. If they were raiders, you generally knew where in the hierarchy they were, too.
My first guild was United Norrath Coalition, which was a merger of two smaller guilds — this happened before I joined. My final guild, Crimson Eternity, would likewise be a guild merger, and many of its members (including me) would have come from United Norrath Coalition. It was a family that I had for almost all my time in EverQuest.
I joined as a low level druid who had just earned her first teleport spells. UNC hadn’t yet become a raiding guild; they were just friends, many of whom knew each other out of guild. They were a guild of couples — Valksis and Anavrin, whom I later met in real life; Taluil and Iliana; Cilia and Jalanea. I came in with a bunch of new recruits — Noffin and Bridgecrusher and Lorika. As the UNC family grew, we would explore everywhere in the most unlikely of groups. As a wizard, a monk and a druid, we explored many of the dungeons of Kunark, when it came out. We spent days in the Tower of Frozen Shadow, mapping it out, and Bridgecrusher’s map of the fourth level was the definitive map of the area for years.
When I started working on Befallen, I knew I wanted them in there, though I don’t think I was a member yet of UNC when I did Befallen for real. And so, I have members of my old EQ guild camping the second shadowknight in the dungeon, teaching the player how to pull, and helping out in the exciting final fight in Lavastorm.
I know you’re supposed to do stuff based on Forgotten Realms, but I never played in Forgotten Realms, aside from computer games. I lived in Norrath. And it’s fun, for me, to see a world I once spent so much time in, come to life in a new way.
My next dungeon will be Najena, a dungeon I DID do with the UNC crew, and we will certainly meet them at some point. In a surprising way.
Meanwhile, I still need help getting The Crypt of Befallen out of review status. I need beta reviewers to play it, and review it.
I have two good reviews; I need three more to make it a real quest. If you CAN help out, please do. It’s: The Crypt of Befallen, NW-DKCFTXNUZ.
Thanks, really appreciate it :)