Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Master Alchemist

Monday night I decided to camp deepwater ink in Kedge Keep.  It was a lazy camp, I spent time doing other things -- making an omelet for dinner, making salads for lunch the next day.  Kedge is almost completely gray to me now, most of the mermaids are green or gray but the named ones are still light blue (and a few of the unnamed ones).  In the end even with turning experience to 100% AA, I only earned one AA in my time hunting there.  Despite this, one of the named mermaids proved very difficult to kill... she kept healing herself and the fight went on for more than 15 minutes, before she finally stopped healing.

I came away with 88 deepwater inks in 2-3 hours of casual play.  I didn't think that would be enough to get me from 297 to 300 in alchemy, but it turned out that I got lucky.  I hit 300!  This is the first time I've ever been a master at any of the EQ tradeskills, so I'm pretty proud of the fact.

Tuesday I went to the caves in Blackfeather Roost and did the same sort of thing, with an eye to getting tailoring drops.  The light blue bears and spiders were much better experience for me here -- I earned multiple AA's, maybe 20 or more.  I also got a lot of silk and pelt drops, and went to town on tailoring.  I got to 200 pretty quickly, making me a journeyman tailor, but after that I went through about 70 combines without a single skill increase, so that was pretty disappointing.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Between tradeskilling and marketing I've managed to get Jalia up a few levels.  She's 64 now.

Lately though, I've been doing little besides hunts for dyes and high quality skins needed to make the colored backpacks that I sell, and bouts of making potions and halas 10-lb meat pies to sell.  Ornate Defiant armor drops quite a bit off the bears and wolves that I hunt in Mesa, so that provides extra stuff to sell.  And that's been almost everything I've done -- just occasionally I've traveled to Blackfeather Roost or Undershore or wherever to gain some actual experience.

This past weekend I finally got around to doing the tradeskill quest that nets you the evolving tradeskill trophy.  I did this for alchemy first, of course.  I was worried about doing this after having waited so long, and true to form the Journeyman's Alchemy Test required me to make several things that included dropped ingredients -- things that I couldn't just buy.  But after a little research I realized that all I needed to finish all of the challenges was some hearty goblin blood... several at least.

After a little research I traveled to Kunark and headed to the Frontier Mountains.  The two places I wanted were the Mines of Nurga and the Temple of Droga, but the temple was closer to where I zoned in so I picked that.  Soon I found myself in a warren with goblins that were all green or light blue to me (some were even dark blue), and which dropped not only hearty goblin blood for alchemy, but green goblin skin which is used to make black dye.

For a brief, shining moment, I thought I'd found the perfect hunting ground.  I could earn experience, I could gather ingredients for alchemy that would allow me to increase my skills, and I could solve my black dye problem.  Black dye is one of the hardest to come by, and I need it not only for black but also for the light gray that I use to make purple backpacks.  You get it from charcoal, which is an extremely rare drop, or from blue slumber fungus, which is an extremely rare ground spawn in Lesser Faydark (if I'm lucky I can find two on any given trip).  There are other things that make black too -- all of them difficult to come by, it seems.  But here I could amass a large collection of green goblin skin while doing other things!

Well... it didn't quite work out like I'd hoped.  I set myself to 100% AA experience and I probably earned 20 to 25 AA points in an afternoon of hunting in Droga.  That worked out well.  But for all the time I spent there, I came up with only 20 hearty goblin blood and 7 green goblin skin.  So... not exactly a solution to my problems.  I read later that for skilling up in higher-level alchemy, everyone agrees that Deepwater Ink or Nodding Blue Lilly are the only ways to go.  I'd already learned to farm Deepwater Ink in Kedge Keep, and it looked like I'd be heading back there for many more trips.

But on the bright side, I finished my quest and got my Journeyman's Alchemist Trophy!  I picked up the baking and tailor trophy quests to work on later.

Tuesday I set out to do the baking quest.  This was also a journeyman's quest that required a lot of dropped items.  I had to hunt treants in Blightfire Moors -- and I learned that only the treants in the swamp area dropped what I wanted, and I'd never been to that place before.  I had to travel to the they Abysmal Sea to fish for saltwater crab (it's not an easy place to get to either), and I had to travel to Cobalt Scar once again to buy ingredients from the otterfolk vendors there (also not an easy place to get to).

But by the time I was done I had my baking trophy.  This one was even more difficult than the alchemy one, but it's done now.  Tailoring will be next.

Late last night I discovered a couple of vendors in the bazaar selling massive quantities of Deepwater Ink and Nodding Blue Lilly.  Now, I've been amassing a tiny fortune through marketing for weeks -- not really spending money on anything.  I had nearly 150,000 plat, which is not a lot to some people, but was quite a lot to me.  But the prospect of not having to hunt interminably for alchemy ingredients was too great to pass up.  I spent a bit over 50,0000 plat on hundreds and hundreds of Nodding Blue Lily and Deepwater Ink, and tonight I spent several hours working my way through well over a thousand alchemy combines.  Ultimately my skill jumped about 50 points, from 243 to 294, but things were going so well in the middle of that that I really thought I'd hit 300 and become a master... then, over the course of the last 350 combines, I only managed 4-5 increases.  This was very disappointing, although overall being 6 points away from master status is pretty cool.  One good round of Deepwater Ink gathering in Kedge Keep should get me to master now.  Or maybe I'll just buy some more Nodding Blue Lily when someone has some to sell.

Monday, July 8, 2013

July 4th DXP Weekend

On the 4th of July I spent the entire morning in Kedge Keep.

I had visited Kedge Keep for the first time (other than entering it once years ago and not going past the entrance) a couple of days before, enough to learn that I could farm for deepwater ink and it was a viable route for me to skill up in alchemy.  At that time I'd farmed more than 20 deepwater ink and earned one alchemy skill point increase for my troubles.  My plan this time was to get at least 40 deepwater inks, but I spend the full morning there and came back with 160 deepwater inks total.  This was good enough to get me to 240 in alchemy, or about 8 points increase.  Pretty sad when you think about it, tradeskilling in EQ is everything I remembered it to be.

I gained a level and 2 AA points doing this.  Even though everything was light blue or green to me, double experience week was on so I was slowly gaining experience from farming.  But I wanted to take advantage of the DXP to level a new character up, so I spent part of the day working on my newbie dark elf necromancer, who I got to level 12.

Friday night I had to spend part of the time farming for high quality bear and wolf skins, but I also started a baby shadowknight (drakkin).  I spent part of Saturday morning levelling her up, but then I spent much of the weekend visiting my parents and sister's families in Longview.  Sunday night when I got home I was able to play my new shadow knight a bit more, and got up to level 32 and even hunted a bit in the Highpass Keep basement.

I worked on tailoring last Friday too, getting up to almost 200 now.  My other accomplishment was farming enough of the materials to make a nice backlog of dyes for the colored backpacks I sell... but now I'm low on hq bear and wolf pelts yet again.

I would have liked to get more accomplished for DXP weekend, but I didn't get to play as much as I would have liked.

Monday, June 24, 2013

What Was and Never Will Be

Everquest kind of makes me sad.  It's a perfect example of a game suffering from mudflation.  Here you have a game where nobody plays at the low levels -- all they do is PL to get to level 65, 75 and up.  Valuable high-end gear sells for 1 million, 2 million plat, an unthinkable fortune in the old days.  Finding a group in the low to mid levels is nearly impossible, and all of the low and mid level zones are empty.

What really makes me sad are all of the zones that they revamped that are completely unused.  When I did the bard mail quests this weekend I saw a lot of them.  Steamfont Mountains has been revamped.  Misty Thicket, Innothule Swamp, Toxxulia Forest, Nektulos Forest, Eastern Commonlands, Freeport, North Ro, all of these zones have been revamped.  Nobody's ever in them.  In the old days these zones were always busy -- the game had 13 newbie starting zones at launch, 16 by the time three years had passed, and they were always busy.  It didn't matter which zone you started in, you'd find other players to group with.  No game will ever be like that again -- no game would ever take the time to create so many starting zones.  Even Everquest knows better; they've created Crescent Reach as a one-size-fits-all starting zone.  Every character, evil, good, whatever, can start there.  In fact, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy that everyone will start there and all the other newbie zones will be left unused -- freebie accounts aren't allowed to start anywhere else, but the advantages of Crescent Reach are so many that you really wouldn't want to start anywhere else anyway.

It's sad because the revamped zones are very pretty.  They're comparable to modern MMOs -- not top-of-the-line, surely, but very comparable.  It makes me sad that nobody really uses them, not in the way they were designed to be used in any case.  There are still newbie zones and cities that haven't been revamped -- Feerot, Greater Faydark, Butcherblock Mountains, Everfrost, Qeynos Hills -- but EQ has zero reason to bother fixing those zones at this point.

It bugs me too that the boats are gone.  Mind you, being forced to ride the boats was one of the major problems with the game back in the day, but completely removing them sucks.  I really wanted to take a boat ride again, but all of the docks in the game exist for pretty much no reason now.

I remember "newbie runs" where the goal was to take a level 1 gnome from Ak'Anon to Erudin, crossing two continents through some very scary and dangerous zones and enduring two boat rides to succeed.  With dozens or hundreds of people participating, it was a ton of fun.  You could never get enough people to participate in that today, and even if you did, you simply can't make the run without the boats.

One thing I love about EQ is the depth of the world.  At the bottom of the Crystal Caverns is a Coldain dwarf town, with merchants and a bank and quests givers.  In the Goru'ka Mesa valley is a village of satyrs (Mitholen, I think they're called) with merchants and quest givers.  In one of the old goblin dungeons there was a goblin banker who evil types could bank with.  In the far North of Velious are otter folk with merchants and the like.  Everywhere you go, you find not just enemies to fight, but the communities they live in.  The game didn't just have 16 starting cities, it had dozens of more towns and villages and cities that you could visit, buy or sell at, possibly bank at or get quests at.  The world is vast and detailed.

Anyway, I don't have a point here, just sad at the state of the game today.  Things change, you can never go back to what once was (and in a lot of ways, you wouldn't want to), but there are definitely some things that I miss, that I'm afraid I'll never see in a game again.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Courier of Favor, and Hero's Forge

I did the "Courier of Favor" quest Friday Night, using an online walkthrough to explain how to do it quickly.  Even so it took me a good 2 1/2 to 3 hours to do.  Mind you, I took the long way in many cases, but still... it's a long quest.

If you were doing it the hard way (as in, no prior knowledge) then you'd be wandering the world looking for bards who want mail delivered, and making many back-and-forth trips to different cities.  The walkthrough explains where to go to gather all the mail destined for Kelethin, then all the mail for Freeport, then the mail for Qeynos, then the mail for Highpass.  You have to visit Freeport and Highpass twice, and you have to do a pair of sub-quests near the end of everything, but the end result is a very nice multi-slot bag with 100% weight reduction.

When I say I took the long way, I mean I ran all the way from Ak Anon to Kaladim and then back to Greater Faydark, instead of teleporting through the Plane of Knowledge several times.  I was bound in the Bazaar so every time I ported back I had to zone into the Bazaar and then zone out to the Plane of Knowledge, which slowed things down.  And I ran from Misty Thicket to Highpass, forgot to grab the mail for Qeynos so I had to go back later, and I also spent some time visiting the basement in Highpass Keep and reminiscing about the old days when it was a favorite place for players to hang out.

I also got confused about one instruction in the walk-through, which after the first contact Ton Twostring in East Freeport, it says "take the mage to North Ro".  I didn't know what this meant, but there's a mage in North Ro who can send you places... but you don't "take the mage" to North Ro, you don't have any other reason to be in North Ro, and the mage in North Ro did not send me to my next destination but instead sent me to Nedaria's Landingi, a zone above Surefall Glade and Jaggedpine Forest that I didn't know existed (it wasn't there back when I played).  This zone connects to some other continent via boats I think, except that boat service no longer exists in the game.  That makes me kind of sad, even though the boat rides were one of the biggest and stupidest time-sinks in EQ in the old days.

But basically, the instructions to "take the mage to North Ro" were both confusing and completely useless.  Not to mention, virtually nowhere else in the walk-through does it explain how to get from one place to another, so I don't know why that comment was even there.

I did the quest again Sunday on my alt enchanter Prisstina, who is by now level 36.  I did it much faster this time, in less than 2 hours I think.  I had a much better idea of what I was doing and I didn't get sidetracked.

Saturday I set out to vastly increase my tailoring skills.  I worked on Wu's fighting armor (with the help of viscous mana from my new enchanter) and got almost to 158 where the shirt becomes trivial.  Then I immediately started in on coarse silk templates, which trivial at 175.  When I ran out of coarse silk I started in on natural silk templates, which trivial above 200 but I ran out of natural silk at 175 tailoring skill.  I probably should have found more coarse silk to reach 175 before using my natural silk, but I was impatient.  Anyway, I can see that I need to gather a whole bunch more natural silk, which will be my new goal the next time I decide to work on it.

I also spent money on the market.  I finally bought the Hero's Forge update for my character, and ran around  looking for Sylvan armor pieces to update my look.  I had to substitute a few non-sylvan chain pieces so the work is still in progress, but I bought the bunny hat which was one of my main goals.  Ever since I first played EQ, back when a barbarian shaman who put on a leather cap would display a polar bear's head hat, I've wanted to some way display a bear's head hat with a more substantial armored helmet.  I even occasionally wore a leather cap just for that look.  Finally, EQ has made it possible to make any helmet at all look like a bear's hat (or bunny hat, or several variations). I approve!  This was the main reason I spent money on the Hero's Forge armor appearance upgrade.  I'd seen the bunny hat, and I wanted it.  I'm not skilled enough to make it myself so I spent waaaay too much money on the market for one, but I'm happy with the look.

I also bought a 36-slot 100% weight reduction bag from the marketplace since it was available.  It's WAAAY too much money, but for tradeskills I need as many slots as I can get.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Finally Made An Alt

Last night I made an alt.

Actually I made two alts, but I only really did anything with one.  That was Prisstina, a gnome enchanter.  I had a gnome enchanter previously in Everquest, purely because gnomes can learn the tinkering tradeskill and enchanters can enchant metal (and cast clarity, which I loved back in the day).  My gnome enchanter in the old days was named Ashti, and was at one point the 4th highest tinkerer on the Test Server.

My second alt was a dark elf necromancer.  I don't have any ulterior or trade-skill related motive for making her, but necromancers have always been some of the most fearsome soloers in the game and I had a dark elf necro back in the day as well that I enjoyed quite a bit.

I've been trying to avoid making any alts up until now.  My history with MMO's is one filled with many alts and very few high-level main characters.  In Everquest, I started with a wood elf ranger, switched to Jalia my barbarian shaman, switched to a druid named Ashleigh, then moved to Test and started a cleric named Aquaisha.  There were a lot of other alts along the way, but even after I settled on a new version of Jalia I had other alts -- Dill the rogue, a warrior, a monk named Shan Pu.  Party because of this, I never got Jalia or any other character to whatever the current max level was.  By the time Jalia hit 50, the max level was 60... then it was 65.  Jalia got to 53 or 54.  I followed this pattern in other games.  I was amazed when I played Disney's Toontown to get a character to the max level, because I'd never done that in any MMO up to that point.  In City of Heroes I got one character to 50 but I had a lot of alts, and it wasn't until I returned to the game several years later that I learned to concentrate on characters long enough to get them all the way to 50.  Even then, I had dozens and dozens of alts, and no character that maxed out the new alternate incarnate skill trees.  But I did have fifty level 50 characters in the end.

So with EQ I wanted to play just one character for a while, and I've done that.  But there's an advantage to having an alt or two.  More bank space, for one thing, and the ability to pursue tradeskills that I haven't yet tried.  But mostly it's fun to try different things.  Enchanters are fun for several reasons, such as all of the illusion spells they have.

I got my new chanter to level 10 in the tutorial last night, and I think I've learned how you can leave the tutorial and go back, though I haven't tried it.  But you can apparently log into the tutorial from the login screen at any point if you're level 10 or below, and can  teleport back there if you're still bound there until level 15.

My chanter is almost done with the tutorial already, but I want to kill the big boss still.  So I logged out before I hit level 11.

Having an alt also allows me to twink.  I bought an extremely nice any-level robe on the market for 5,000 plat (it was selling from others for as much as 45,000 plat, it's clearly a good twink robe).  I also bought a halfway decent dagger for 1,000 plat -- most of the daggers usable at any level were also very high priced.  I also bought another 16-slot bag, justifying a third of the five incredibly expensive expansion stone things that I bought the other day.  That was another 5,000 plat out the door.  I had come home to almost 38,000 plat, nearly completely recovered from all of my lavish spending on Sunday, and I spent a good chunk of it right away.  But overnight I sold 2 stacks of 20 gate potions, and those bring in 3,500 plat.  Despite the cost in making them, I believe I make at least 500 plat per stack of 20, but I haven't tracked my costs closely to see how accurate that is.  I managed to make two new stacks before leaving for work, so I may makes some more sales today.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Blackfeather Roost

Saturday I finally got around to leveling a bit in EQ again.  I made my way to Blackfeater Roost, which I'd heard was a dangerous place at level 55 (I was 56).  It seemed less dangerous when I first got there.  I killed a snake without problems, but then I took on a cougar, and another came by, and then another.  They killed my pet, they hit my mercenary very hard, and I was chain-healing and draining my mana very quickly.  I was almost convinced that we would pull it out when a fourth cougar joined in, and I had to run for the zone line.

After summoning my mercenary and pet and buffing up again, I went back and was more careful about pulling, and I made it to level 57 and earned an AA.  I decided I would come back the next day.

I ran into another problem my second day there when I attacked an "injured" mountain snake.  I almost didn't notice the problem until it was too late... my mercenary was at 20% health before I realized it.  Again I began chain-casting heals and this time we barely were able to survive the encounter.  A bit of research turned up the fact that the injured snake was the "named" snake or special snake.  He dropped a very nice magic item, a mask that I instantly used to replace the one I was wearing.  When I saw that snake later I attacke him again.  After another very tough fight, I managed to loot a very nice augmentation device that I placed in my mask to make it more powerful.  Later when I saw a "hungry mountain bear" I knew it was also a named bear, and prepared for  very tough fight -- which I almost lost, my mercenary died and I was left at 3% health.  But I looted a nifty cape and managed to find a safe place to heal up, so it was all good.  I made level 58 and 59 and earned at least 2 more AA's.  Level 59 was a big goal since that allows me to wear a piece of higher level defiant armor that I'd had waiting in the bank, and use a cool 2 hand weapon I had waiting as well.

I became very frustrated later when I first bought 20 rather expensive bottles of solvent instead of the 1 I needed to remove an augmentation from my old helmet and place it in my new one.  That was a waste of plat.  At this point I had 40,000 plat, so it wasn't a huge problem, but then I compounded it with several other mis-steps.  First I bought a Tailored Legendary Unexpanded Backpack, and then also an Unexpanded Supreme Backpack.  These are 100% weight reduction 14 slot and 16 slot bags when expanded, but in order to expand them I had to buy a special item, and it turned out to cost over 2,000 plat -- and then I accidentally bought 5 instead of just the two I needed, so that was 13,000 plat out the door immediately.  I decided on reflection to consider this an investment in three more of the same kind of bags, because they're very useful.  The ones I bought had cost 2,000 and 3,000 plat which was a good deal considering they are normally being offered for 3,000 and 5,000 respectively, but it was an expensive investment all the same.

The frustrating part was that I needed to scribe a special tome to learn how to do the combine that expands them, and I couldn't figure out how to find it.  It was in the zone Sunset Hills, which was supposed to connect to the Guild Lounge, which connected to the Plane of Knowledge.  This seemed straightforward, but when I zoned into the Guild Lounge I couldn't find a zone connection to "Sunset Hills".  After a bit of exploration I found the only other zone connection, but this went to various housing areas, each named by whatever guild controlled it.  None of the options said "Sunset Hills" and nothing I could find online explained where Sunset Hills really was or how to get there.  Eventually I picked a destination at random, hoping that each guild's instance was somehow set in a version of Sunset Hills.  This in fact turned out to be the case, but it was kind of annoying that nothing explained that ahead of time.

I became more frustrated when I bought the tome I was supposed to scribe, and couldn't figure out how to scribe it.  I was familiar with scribing spells into my spell book, an assumed I needed some sort of book to scribe this scroll.  Ultimately I figured out to just place it in my inventory and right click on it, but again there was nothing I could find on the web that explained how to do this, it was just assumed that everyone knows what it means to "scribe a tome".

I was able to dye the Legendary backpack pink.  I was excited to do this since pink is not a color available for the hand made backpacks I've been crafting, but it turned out that pink and purple display as the same color.  Sigh.  The 16-slot Supreme backpack (for which I had to scribe another tome) can not be colored, but I'm happy for the extra space and 100% weight reduction anyway.

Before I went to bed I made more gate potions.  These are incredibly expensive, costing me over 2,000 plat to craft a stack of 20.  I failed twice too, which is a very expensive fail.  But they sell for extremely good money so they're worth making.  As far as I can tell there's only one or two serious alchemists selling on the market so the opportunity is there for me to make some money.  I was down to less than 15,000 plat by the time I was done, but by morning my potions had sold along with my backpacks and some halas meat pies and other stuff, and I was back to 25,000 plat again.