Nashuya – Shadow Knight

Though in a couple of weeks, Nashuya could have been a Shadow Knight from level one, here and now, you still have to level to 20 before you learn the mysteries of pain and suffering. Perhaps best to lead up to it, to talk around the subject… to make someone beg for it. But gosh durn it, doesn’t she look cute in that anime gear. And people criticize the SOGA models!

Dina was out gathering resources, when she saw an unusual glint in a rock outcropping. Silver! NO idea what to do with it, but she knew it was rare, and as she asked around, she was told it should immediately be given to an alchemist; they would know.

Etha, alchemist, did not know. She missed alchemy class the day they were talking about tier 2 rares. So she added it to her mystery box, along with all the glowing stuff from which she had not found means to turn to extracts.

Nashuya and Slinka, out adventuring, through sheer happenstance, found some scraps of parchment that claimed to tell of alchemical secrets long hidden from halflings. And it just happened to contain the very lore dealing with the alchemical transformation of silver to powerful essences of fighter abilities at the Adept III level. Nashuya received a very powerful technique – an AE DD – from that chunk of ore.

Etha’s alchemical abilities must now keep pace with Nashuya’s shadow powers. The ability to two-box depends heavily on having the best gear and spells available, and it’s certain Dina’s thin pocketbook won’t be able to finance it when the economy is so broken that people no longer think much of a plat or two, when Dina’s entire savings consist of 46 gold pieces and a smattering of silver coins.

So what we cannot buy, we must make. Nashuya got most of her new gear from the broker. The orange bp was a FABLED drop from a level 8 named in the Sprawl, and should do until she finishes her armor quests (she cannot start until Slinka reaches 20, as Inquisitors wear the same heavy armor Shadow Knights do).

Slinka’s gear and spell, not to mention level, have NOT kept pace with Nashuya’s. Her gear is the best leather gear Dina could make without rares (done quickly, as Dina is a tailor), but Etha was far too focused on making Nashuya’s spells (again, easily, as this was an alchemist’s baliwick). Etha now needs to go back and work on Slinka’s spells, while Dina harvests for the tier 3 materials necessary for both of them as they leave their teens. At which point, Dina’s skills become useless, and Etha is only able to make Nashuya’s spells; Etha will have to finance everyone by making spells for others, but the increased drop rate for Adepts and Masters have nearly killed her profession.

Nashuya is a craftsman, which was a mistake. Slinka is undecided; perhaps she could be an armorcrafter. You need maybe two weapons, but you need seven pieces of armor. Too bad heavy armor is such a crafting chore.

Long ago, Nashuya was just Dina’s merchant; standing around day after day, selling stuff to people who came by, or through the broker. Now, she leads.

Crafting in EQ2

Took me hours to make that Iron Chainmail armor for Nashuya after she became capable of wearing chain. With previous characters, I have just bought vendor armor until I could fill in spots with quest or dropped armor – but since Dina could make it, and I had Etha to make the stacks and stacks of various alchemical supplies necessary, why not? Dina and Etha both gained tradeskill levels along the way, largely because of the first-time pristine bonuses.

If I hadn’t had all the foraged stuff on hand, it would have taken even longer.

Since I last crafted, EQ2’s crafting has become a lot easier. I had become used to restarting crafting sessions two or three times to get one where the durability of the item wasn’t plummeting into the black hole of wasted components from the get-go. After awhile, I stopped even bothering to counter crafting emergencies on subcombines – pristine every time.

The final phase has always been harder, but even given that, it was no trouble for Dina, a tailor, to create pristine iron chainmail bp and greaves. And I had Etha make Apprentice IV abilities for Nash to use as she climbs through her teens. It wasn’t any trouble.

It was a real accomplishment, and I felt happy when I gave Nash the armor, and instantly became the best-equipped person in the group I joined. On the other hand… well, it took hours to make. In WoW, once you have the components, it is click and walk away.

While crafting, there is very little else to do* but chat with other people over the Heritage channel, which, on Faydark, is the closest thing there is to a server-wide general chat channel.

One fellow mentioned he had bought a guild – a level 20 one. And so, with the guild bank, he never ran out of space.

Whoa. Guild bank? THAT was new. And as the only current player in my moribund guild Immortals, I was ALSO the de facto owner of a guild (a level 19 one). Although not the leader. Some person, departing the guild, made me a Senior Officer even though I wasn’t playing. We were a 22 or 23 guild when it imploded; it fell to 18 by the time SOE stopped decaying guild rank, and someone I never met brought it back to 19 before leaving.

Anyway, woohoo! I cleaned out my bank and put it into the guild bank, invited Nashuya and Etha into the guild, and in general had a fine time pretending to be guild leader and hoping no other officer decided to log in and take my stuff from the guild bank…

Nashuya’s new favorite strat to kill a group of mobs: damage absorption barrier on, run up to a group with whirl ramping up, hit them all, immediately start with the AE heroic opportunities… ftw…. It’s beauty.

* Actually, I was doing something besides chatting in game and on Ventrilo while crafting. I reinstalled Windows on my second computer, Baphomet (my Linux computer that blew up a couple months ago), reinstalled EQ2, made a rat named Slinka, ran her through the Isle of Refuge on priest track, and joined Nashuya in Commonlands just as she joined a group (making her probably the worst-equipped priest in the Commonlands, as well as the lowest level – 5 (she turned 6 while in that group)). Then a level 20 joined the group and neither Nash nor Slinka were getting xp, so that was that. Thinking about making another halfling priest of some sort to betray… Rats never really did it for me. Too bad Dera is on Antonia Bayle, and Etha is on the same account as Nashuya…

How did the Windows installation go? It went fine. Linux still controls the boot process, so I didn’t lose anything – I can just dual boot into Windows XP Home now. I used the same registration code I have used for my “second system” for the past several years, and it worked fine. I just found out recently that you can re-register Windows on new hardware every few months, as long as it isn’t also being used by another computer. That is good info, and makes me feel less anxious about having to reinstall Windows or add new hardware.

EverQuest II

Ventrilo is a nice thing to have around. Chatting is a lot easier when you don’t have to type everything you’re saying. And last night, the subject of EQ2 came up… with more than a couple of people saying they wanted to try it again, to see how the new changes were working out.

I hadn’t really been on for more than to make screenshots now and again, and to visit my apartment, for quite some time. So last night, after we were done with our ZG raid, I logged on to EQ2 and played Nashuya, my level 8 fighter (on her way to shadow knight-dom), for awhile.

Nashuya in Dina’s West Freeport apartment

The quests are even easier to find than in WoW now. Icons on the map and over the heads of NPCs alert you to quests you have not gotten; different icons on the map and over their heads tells you of NPCs who can help with a quest you already have.

Nashuya with her dog, Foofoo, and Dina’s cat, Lochinvar

Combat is still pretty much the same, though fighters get stances right off – which helps a lot. Death, when it comes (and it came pretty often in the group I joined last night), is not as harsh as it once was. You no longer drop a shard when you die; you just get some experience debt, which is no longer shared with your party.

Tipa is a monk in EQ2

EQ2 lets you have fun with classes in a way EQ1 never did. Any race can, potentially, be any class, though you may have to switch sides in the cold war between Qeynos and Freeport to do so. Tipa (above) is a halfling monk in her level 20-25 quest armor; and Dera (below) is an Inquisitor in the service of Lucan D’Lere, in the evil quest armor.

Dera, in her apartment in Big Bend

In WoW, hardly anyone is really evil. The Horde is anything but – well, aside from the Forsaken. In Freeport, evil is just a way of life. When you beg for your free room from the slumlord, he abuses you freely (and hilariously). Your newbie quests include convincing bartenders not to serve undesirables, finding people who are having a good day and ruining it, and in general becoming a good little oppressor in Lucan’s service.

I find it a refreshing change from the goody-goody quests on the Qeynos side; so much so that one of the first things I did with my second character, Dina, a troubadour (my highest character at 43), was follow Dera straight to the dark side.

Dina with her cat, Lochinvar, in her apartment

When EQ2 was released to the Japanese market, they did more than localize the text and speech. They also contracted with another company, SOGA, to make more anime-ish character models. When the Western players heard about this, they demanded SOE bring those models to everyone – and so they did, as an option. Personally, I think it makes halflings look too boyish, so I turned it off for them.

Dina with the SOGA model

Before the expansions, the overriding theme of EQ2 was one of rediscovery – exploring the shattered remains of Norrath (having pieces of a moon fall on you can really ruin your day). Initially, little was known about much of the world; but there were rumors that the home of halflings, Rivervale, had miraculously escaped from the widespread destruction following Luclin’s demise. But with those rumors came news of demons and insanity stalking Rivervale, and strange magics running free in Misty Thicket, now known as the Enchanted Lands. Nothing prepared me for the mixed emotions I felt when I first laid eyes on Rivervale once more.

Dina, looking out from the Fool’s Gold Inn

After five years (at that time) playing halflings on EverQuest, it was exactly like coming home after a long time away… and finding you had been robbed.

EQ2 added solo instances for those who wanted a significant challenge and good loot without having others around. The first added was an “expansion pack” adding a few vampire dungeons. I wasn’t that thrilled by it, to be honest.

Confronting a ghostly spider

However, the followup expansion pack, Splitpaw, showed what they could really do with this concept – and I loved every moment spent sneaking around, taking on groups, getting a couple decent items each run, adrenalin always going because the dungeons adjusted themselves to my level.

They also added many solo instances with a fixed level all over the world; including this one in Everfrost that involves killing a bunch of trash mobs, four summoners and their guardians, a priest summoning a huge evil, and the demon summoned as well. I have beaten it just once… and I was walking on air after that.

An Everfrost solo instance

I really did love the game. But as a casual player, the guilds open to me tended to break up again and again, and I didn’t have the time to join a raiding guild. Eventually, the friends I joined EQ2 with moved on, and so did I.

EQ2 is still a wonderful game. I am kind of sad that Vanguard will take their best ideas and take them, and probably a lot of the players. EQ2 is a shining gem that truly builds upon EQ1’s lore; and for those of us who really got into EQ1’s lore, it will be missed.

New CE Sig

Using the new Japanese models from EQ2.

I really intended to move whole-heartedly into Everquest 2. I love that game; it has a depth and a sense of location missing in WoW. I would be happy if that were my only game; this time last year, it WAS my only game.

All that I missed were the people. Like it or not, it’s hard to play a game when you have nobody to play it with. When VA started on Faydark, I abandoned Dera on Antonia Bayle and restarted there. They all quit, or moved to Splitpaw, or went to WoW, or returned to EQ, leaving me essentially alone. Then I got the Surya job which severely limited my playtime.

Hat in hand, I returned to EQ1 and Crimson Eternity, and changed mains from rogue to my recently-of-Stromm cleric.

No game since the original EQ has given me that sense of place that EQ2 did.