EQ: Why I stopped playing EverQuest

Dera Then and Now
Dera Then and Now

I had this concept of going through my EQ characters that had corresponding characters in EQ2, tracing their experiences through the two games. First up: Dera, my halfling cleric. Everything was going along smoothly until I actually logged in to EverQuest to get a better screen shot. Soon I found myself in an AE group in a temporarily-uber version of Blackburrow. And then I remembered what I hated (and liked) about the MMO granddaddy.

I rolled Dera up when one of the last new non-transfer PvE servers, Stromm, came online at EverQuest’s peak. My rogue on the Erollisi Marr server was being left out of raids because too many rogues, and as a Pacific time player in an Eastern time guild, getting home from work early was tough.

So while I waited for a raid spot to open up, I would be playing a newbie cleric on another server on another account. Clerics were in wild demand on the new server, and I was soon invited into a casual raid guild, Lost Sock Patrol. We weren’t uber, but we weren’t terribly far behind the curve, either. LSP reached our peak when we awoke the Sleeper, switching Sleeper’s Tomb from the classic loot table to the new, less uber loot table, and earning us the spite and hatred of the entire server.

Just before waking the Sleeper
Just before waking the Sleeper

We managed to stagger on for awhile after that, but the uber guilds in their wroth destroyed us on the forums and poached a lot of our people, and in the end the guild was dead and I moved to Viking Alliance, where we continued raiding up through Plane of Time.

I was missing my friends back on Erollisi Marr, though, so when the option came to be able to transfer servers and keep your gear, I transferred from Stromm to EMarr and rejoined Crimson Eternity, this time as a cleric.

There was ALWAYS room for a cleric. And a cleric was what I played until EQ2 came out, and I starting playing that game — as the cleric, Dera. (And later as the bard, Tipa). I played both games for awhile before finally moving permanently to EQ2.

Last night, in Blackburrow
Last night, in Blackburrow

The fall of EverQuest was gradual. The uberguilds were bleeding players who couldn’t keep up with the grueling schedules as they left school and started real lives. Same thing was happening to second tier guilds like Crimson Eternity. Worse, in a desperate bid to stay alive, the uberguilds were lowering their requirements enough to attract second and third tier raiders hoping to end their raiding careers in an uberguild. EMarr’s remaining uberguiid, Magister, had lowered their standards far enough that they were even recruiting players we’d rejected. That worked as well for them as you’d expect. They vanished, and EQ downsized itself to no longer require fifty to seventy people for a raid. New raids would be smaller. The era of the uberguild was over.

Our EQ1 guild has maintained a huge presence on Facebook, and has recently started trying to recruit its now older, wiser, now more casual membership back into the game. When I logged Dera on last night and found her guildless, I searched for guild members and got an invite back. An invite into a fellowship (kind of a meta-group) came, and I soon found myself in Blackburrow. Blackburrow, the starter dungeon for characters that started in Qeynos and Surefall Glade back in the day. A dungeon now filled with high level gnolls — as high level or higher than Dera’s 75 levels, anyway.

Nitemarex was pulling as much as he could handle and AEing them down. Every few minutes he’d show up, kill a few dozen, and I’d get a few more AA. Meanwhile, I tried to make sense of all my spells and abilities. Unlike EQ2, you only get to have about ten spells available at once. An ill-timed heal left me dead, but I made back the small xp loss quickly enough.

So there I was, sitting in one spot while someone else brought mobs to me. Occasionally I’d heal. I was browsing the web, texting a friend, watching a little TV on my iPad, and I remembered then what really bugged me about EQ.

It was always like this — just sitting in one spot, grinding AA, while wondering why I was wasting my precious few days on this Earth staring at a screen, being bored out of my skull. Raiding was fun, I loved that, but this grinding xp, grinding those hundreds and thousands of AAs necessary to complete the latest content — I just can’t do it any more. I never could. I always was the last to level, the one with the fewest AA, because the pull and sit style of gaming was just too dull. The conversation was decent, when it happened, but mostly everyone was just quietly zoning out, and conversation would die and we’d just do our bits in silence.

The camaraderie of the foxhole or something.

So, anyway, back in EQ1, back in CE, dunno what they expect me to do now. My rogue, Tipa, still has at least fifteen levels on the cleric, so would be closer to current content. But I dunno. I think EQN has the possibility of not killing EQ2, but EQ has got to be seeing the grim reaper around every tombstone at this point. SOE can’t possibly plan to run three versions of EverQuest at once — can they?

EQ2: How to spawn the Ancient Cyclops

Camp Check!
Camp Check!

First step in spawning the Ancient Cyclops in EverQuest 2 is to go back in time about thirteen years and log in to the original EverQuest. Journeyman’s Boots, one of the most highly prized items in the game, would give characters a decent instant speed boost in a game where most characters could not get anywhere quickly. JBoots, combined with a snare spell or ability, could allow most classes to solo in a game focused on groups.

Druids, however, could both snare, give themselves a run speed buff, and solo. Everyone hated druids. So could bards. Everyone loved bards. Go figure.

JBoots used to drop from Drelzna in Najena’s Lair, which meant waiting in line for days (literally. days.) for a chance to join the Drelzna camp. Verant came to their senses and made it a quest, and the rarest part of the quest was getting the ancient ring from the Ancient Cyclops. Almost everyone wanted JBoots, and if you already had them or didn’t need them, you would want the ancient ring to sell to someone else. (Almost everything in vanilla EQ could be dropped or traded).

Once you’ve experienced what it was like in the elder game, come back to present day and enter the chronoportal in the Sinking Sands.

AC camped!
AC camped!

Camp check. You have your necro fear kiting sand giants. You have your ranger trying to track the AC. You have everyone at their favorite camps killing placeholders. And you have a thousand different guaranteed, sure-fire methods of spawning the Ancient Cyclops.

Let's try killing desert madmen!
Let’s try killing desert madmen!

As far as anyone thought in vanilla EQ, Ancient Cyclops and Terrorantula were rare spawns off wandering monster spawns, so if you killed every wandering monster in South Ro, you’d eventually spawn both names. Terrorantula silk from Terrorantula sold pretty well; it was required for some armor quests. The AC was such a rare spawn that there was some disagreement over exactly which spawn spot spawned him. Generally people tried to keep everything dead.


In EQ2’s version, you kill all the spiders, wandering madmen and mummies in the zone to spawn the AC. Every NPC in the zone starts attacking it, hoping to get the ancient ring for themselves. In vanilla EQ, the first person to click the corpse when a monster died got to loot it, regardless of who killed it. They later changed it to the character or group that did the most damage to it. Both methods were exploited by unscrupulous characters. Wizards, for instance, would run around kill-stealing nameds by casting manaburn on them while a group was fighting them.

Ah, memories.

Just as the AC spawns, Terrorantula ALSO spawns, and kills the ranger. In EQ, the ranger always died first. Rangers were good luck charms on a raid; once a ranger died, you knew the Loot Gods were smiling upon you. We had a ranger squad in our guild; they were drawn together by their shared suffering, but it was a sight to see when they’d line up together in North Temple of Veeshan to kill dragons.

In EQ2, ignore the AC and kill Terrorantula. AC will finish with the NPCs and come attack, and now he can be killed.

The Chrono Squad
The Chrono Squad

Clearing a chrono-portal earns you ancient platinum coins which lets you buy a replica of the old-school mob for your home, as well as some books and paintings of EQ1 scenes. I had to catch them all, and here they all are, gathered together outside my South Qeynos home. I couldn’t place them with my chronotask replicas inside, because they are too big and cannot be resized.

The Ghoul Lord and friends are from the Moors of Ykesha. Pyzjn is from Enchanted Lands. Fippy Darkpaw is from Antonica. Quillmane is from Thundering Steppes (try to ignore the tears of the mage working on their epic as you kill the mob they waited a week to see). Minotaur Hero from Steamfont. Warlord Skanlon from Lavastorm. Ancient Cyclops and Terrorantula from Sinking Sands. And Allizewsaur is from the Feerrott.

The nameds don’t always drop their special item, so gonna have to go back a few times to get them all. I think I only got the Fabled Glowing Black Stone from Pyzjn and the Fabled Flowing Silk Sash from the Frenzied Ghoul. I got a nice looking sword from Fippy, who had no particular drops in EQ1. Not sure what to expect from Allizewsaur, since he only dropped valuable gems for crafting, but no special loot.

Nonetheless — fantastically fun event that really does give a feeling for what EQ was like, back in the day. Walked there uphill both ways, you know. And also, get off my lawn.

D&D4e: Valda Onyxheart

Valda Onyxheart

The sky above the lost city of Thunderholme was gray and crumbling. Massive chunks of granite had been ripped from the sky and thrown to smash the carved homes and markets below by illithid magics and the violence of the stone giants. Rotted carrion worm carapaces blocked the obsidian paths along which ore was brought to the now-silent foundries. The mithril-glow lamps that had once lit the city like a thousand bright stars were now dark, melted by the craven horde. Now the only light in Thunderholme came from fetid corpse-fires that cast flickering green light from between the bodies of the orcs and goblins that crowded close.

Valda Onyxheart watched from one of the hidden tunnels in which her ancestors had long ago fled the dwarven city, once the shining capital of the Thunder Peaks, now the ruin she saw before her. Beside her, her spirit companion, the basilisk Dern, rumbled uneasily. “Not now,” whispered Valda. “Not yet.” The hour to retake Thunderholme would come when her people returned triumphant from their hidden fortresses, their numbers renewed by the workings of Moradin and the blessing of the All-Father.

Trusting Dern to lead her true, Valda walked crouched, but with sure steps, up the cunningly wrought shaft which once brought the heat and smoke from the mighty forges of the city below to the world of the surface dwellers. The gray light of day lit the floor of the tunnel’s exit; below it a tall, sheer drop guarded a grove of thorn bushes. Even now, Thunderholme guarded itself. There would be no return by this path.

Valda chewed on some rat jerky washed down with mushroom beer as she waited for the darkness to return. As the grey sky turned black, thunder rumbled among the mountain peaks as Moradin sought his lost children. It was a good omen. The rain that followed was an even better one. The noses of goblin guards would not betray them. Valda scurried down the rock face before it became too rain-slick for even dwarven hands.

Her mood improved further as she reached the Eastway and started along the road to Winterhaven, but Valda could not allow herself to forget why she’d left her kind’s hidden caverns: the dead had begun to rise once more. Caught between stone skeletons from the deeper tunnels and the occupied ruins of Thunderholme, the priests and warriors of the clans were required to fight to keep the villages safe.

Only outcast Valda, always away communing with the spirits of the stone in some mossy hermitage, could be spared to summon help from the cousins who had fled Thunderholme toward the surface world instead of ever deeper to the threshold of the Underdark itself.

Back-story for my D&D character… whose adventures will all be recorded here :) So you might as well get to know her now. Portrait is taken in front of the bank in Kaladim. I tried to get DDO working so I could make her there, but no luck. Wouldn’t connect. EverQuest, though, always did good dwarfs. After a couple of hours playing her in the Mines of Gloomingdeep, I remembered what I’d gone to EQ to do — get a screenshot of a dwarf….

EverQuest is still awesome.