Everquest – A Fippy Darkpaw sort of day

I’ve been playing Rift quite solidly for the last few days, but I fancied a change today. Been getting a little frustrated with the contribution system there, as I mentioned here. Having to run my stable of alts through exactly the same quests is also slightly wearing, so venturing in a land where there is little or no set track for advancement is rejuvenating. Off I trotted to the Fippy Darkpaw progression server!

With Rift running distraction, Zoltoon has not been out and about as much as I would like. Would that there were more gaming hours in the day! So it is that he is still level 10. I’m not unhappy with that though, partially due to my full set of even lower level alts, and I’m quite content with his general rate of progress when I play him.

There’s a particularly useful button on EQ’s character select screen called “Return Home”. If your character has been logged out for 6 hours or more, you can use it to return him to his home city. In Zoltoon’s case that is Ak’anon, on the other side of the world to Qeynos, where he is usually bound. This means he can pop back at the beginning of his session, should the need arise.

Today, I decided that I rather fancied having a little poke about in one of my old haunts. Steamfont’s Minotaur caves are just about perfect for a level 10 enchanter, provided care is taken to avoid its master, Meldrath the Malignant, and his rather terrifying Minotaur Hero. Back in the day, Steamfont would often see a minotaur train, with the Minotaur Hero or Minotaur Lord at its head, but I’ve not seen one yet, to my slight disappointment!

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Zoltoon the enchanter braves Steamfont's Minotaur caves

Minotaurs are a great way of raising your Gem Choppers faction, the gnome warrior faction that is a bit of a pain to raise any other way if you don’t start popular enough to do their quests. They also possess a couple of rather useful bits of kit.

Everquest Minotaur Axe

The Minotaur Axe, friend to all lowbie meleers.

The Minotaur axe is an exceptionally good weapon for its available level, let down only by not being magical, and thus unable to harm certain creatures. Zoltoon managed to pick one up for his brother, Dulcien the Paladin.

Minotaur horns are particularly useful to bards, as they may be wielded as an instrument, dramatically increasing the power of any wind based musical abilities. They proved elusive today though, and unfortunately, Zoltoon, ever the adventurous, travelled a little further than was entirely wise into the caves, and managed to get three minotaur slavers interested in devouring him simultaneously. Two minotaur slavers he can handle, with some cunning mesmerisation, but three is right out, so he gated out, sending him back to Qeynos. Revenge will have to wait until tomorrow!

An Embarrassment of Riches.

MMO players have an embarrassment of riches this week. Of course Rift will be opening up early access on the 24th, but the latest EQ2 expansion, “Destiny of Velious”, launches today, with an 8 day extravaganza of events.

On top of that, DDO will be having it’s 5 year anniversary, with an all-new piratey event recycled from the original tutorial island. I’ll try to catch some of that, though I hope it’s more enjoyable than the Halloween event, which I pretty much hated, and I have heard it is similar to.

With all that going on, where do I find myself?

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Zoltoon, meeting up with some old friends in Everfrost.

Aye indeed, I’m still playing Everquest on the Fippy Darkpaw progression server, and have decided, now that the free period is over, that I’ll subscribe for a month. I’m a little surprised myself, though not because I didn’t think it was a good game. I just thought that I’d be unable to look past the graphics and would be a little bored with retreading ground I had very thoroughly explored a long time ago, but after a couple of hours I really didn’t notice the graphics any more any more, and I’m getting real pleasure from visiting the people and places I remember. I’m not the only MMO blogger that has felt this, and Stargrace is covering her adventures in old Norrath quite thoroughly.

As you know, I’m not much of one for raiding, and I never really had the patience for lengthy camps either, so I don’t really recognise the caricature of EQ that is often presented. I always found plenty to do, and kept myself well equipped enough for my purposes without engaging in activities I didn’t find fun.

I have picked up Scars of Velious, even though I doubt there’ll be much in it that’ll make very much difference to Maltheas’ life in the mid-level. At his current rate, he’ll be ready for Velious adventuring quests some time in 2017. He should get to experience the crafting content rather sooner, and of course he’ll probably go exploring the new lands anyway. At the least I’ll need to take a few pictures to show you. I think I’ll try to do a daily post from EQ2 while the special event days are going on. Day 1 is going to involve Othmir, which always make me happy!

I haven’t picked Rift up yet, and I’m still a bit conflicted on it. To tell the truth, I’ve found a lot of the coverage toe-curlingly embarrassing. Often it is kind of like reading someone’s secret love poetry to the girl of their dreams. Also, like true love, people haven’t been reacting well to any criticism of the object of their affection, which sucks out a lot of the pleasure of writing about it. Still, it’s a new MMO, and I’d probably do well to be in at the start of it. On the other hand, I’m not made of money. Once they add the Paypal option I’ll probably grab it as I have some advertising money sitting in there that I can’t use to buy something useful like food without fiddling about with transferring it.

Right. I *think* the EQ2 servers are down for the big Velious update, so I think it’s time to try to get Zoltoon sorted with the Stein of Moggok! I don’t know where I’m going to find the time to do everything I want to this week, but I’ll give it my best shot.

Everquest: Return to the Qeynos Catacombs

I’m still having fun exploring ancient Norrath again on the Fippy Darkpaw Progression server.

The oddest thing just happened. I was searching for a little information to refresh my memory on the Qeynos Catacombs, when Google lead me to an old post from 2000, THAT I HAD WRITTEN.

The Qeynos Catacombs were always a treasure trove for lowbies, and many of the good folks of Fippy may well be in such circumstances that they could do with a pick-me-up, so I shall share this entry from a very short-lived segment I used to have called Ask Ark!

Hail Ark!
When I met you in Qeynos yesterday you were bouncing with joy over getting your hands on a fine pair of intelligence raising earrings. You said that they (and some other stuff you mentioned, but I forgot) were utterly obtainable for someone of my level, and even though I’m a rogue, I reckon they’ed help my skills improve a bit faster. So, spill the beans. Where’d you get ’em?


Well met Trokkar. They are earings of +3 intelligence, and I would imagine a pair of them would probably have an affect on your skill gains for sure. They are just one of the many treasures that the catacombs beneath Qeynos have to offer, with a little patience, to almost anyone.

The catacombs are a fairly safe area, even for a completely new character. The rats, beetles, spiders, and cubes which fill it are unaggressive, although there are a couple of rare wandering spawns that will attack, and probably kill anyone under 7th level. (Drosco, and a rather nasty skeleton. They don’t show up often though.). The catacombs hold many secrets, not least the headquarters of the Bloodsabers, which lies beyond secret panels in the east wall. Should you find such a wall, I would advise venturing no further through it, unless you happen to worship the foul Bertoxxulous. Only death and decay awaits beyond.

The easiest of the treasures to obtain would surely be the alligator tooth earing, which grants +5 hitpoints to the wearer. These are found without fail upon an injured rat (loc: 566 206), which strayed too close to the nearby alligator spawn. These are perhaps as tough as a large rat, though be warned that other rats may assist them.

The limestone ring, which also grants +5 hitpoints, is found on the undead knight (loc: 664 146). He is little more fearsome than a decaying skeleton, though his aquatic lair is hard to find by mere chance.

Now we come to that foulest of creatures, Cuburt. The child-eating cube lurks upon a platform on the east side. Should Cuburt not be present when you arrive, slaying any beast which refuses to stand still, typically either a sewer rat, cube, or mangy rat, will bring the knave out soon enough. The spawn point for Cuburt and his placeholders is a brown spot (loc: 133 -62) on the floor perilously close to the Frogloks. Upon his death, if you are lucky, you will find evidence of crimes. Should you give this to Zamel, who stand near the bank, you may be rewarded by a gold stud earing of int +3, or a hematite, if unlucky. Alternatively you may give it to Guard Elond, near the gate for a golden locket with 5 charges of courage.

The Frogloks I mentioned will not attack unless you get foolishly close (I got as close as I wanted to taking that screenshot.), but are a trio, so should not be tackled lightly. They lurk in an underwater bit mere yards from Cuburt’s spawn point. They occasionally drop netted armour, which is magical, and most useful for younger casters and monks, especially the gloves in the latter case, as their magical aura will allow unarmed attacks to harm wisps and other entities requiring magical weapons..

Finally, there is a chamber where two interesting creatures may be found. The nesting (loc: 342 334) rat will drop a golden locket which is not only +3 charisma, but AC 2 to boot. The nesting rat is no great threat, but be warned that from time to time, Drosco the zombie may arrive.

Drosco is sad evidence of the dangers of crossing the Bloodsabers, and is bound to their service. Should you have been working against them, Drosco will attack, as I learnt to my cost shortly after speaking to you. Previously he had not been aggressive when we met, but I suppose I have been a bit of a nuisance to the local gnolls. Be warned. He is rather poisonous, and hits hard, but I do believe I saw an amulet of thunder swinging around his neck as I lapsed into unconsiousness. I am sure that the House of Thunder would reward it’s return. Alternatively you could keep it, I suppose.

To a tailor such as yourself, it might be of interest that the spiders of the sewers are no more powerful than spiderlings, yet their silk is of the sort suitable for weaving into clothes. An excellent way to practice the art of tailoring in the Qeynos area without upsetting Holly and Cros.– Arkenor

Everquest: What we know about how Fippy Darkpaw’s Progression Server will work.

I’ve been getting a little excited about the launch of the upcoming Everquest Progression Server, due to arrive tomorrow. I’m not sure if this will survive contact with the actual server itself, but for now I’ve been looking about trying to find out everything I can about how it will work. To reiterate, a progression server returns EQ to as close to its original form as possible, and then slowly the expansions are added as certain requirements are met. This is what I’ve gathered so far from my investigations:

Zones which have had their physical geometry revamped will be in their new state. This will include Freeport, to the dismay of all. I think the other zones this will affect are Steamfont, Misty Thicket, North and South Ro and the Oasis of Marr, Lavastorm, Highhold Pass, Nektulos Forest, Toxxulia Forest and Kerra Isle, and the Commonlands. Possibly Feerott (I can’t tell whether it got a full geometry revamp or just a little tweaked). I shall probably be spending a good deal of time on day one being desperately lost in the Steamfont Mountains. It’s unclear what state their populations will be in, but I would imagine that it’s as close to an approximation of the original as possible.

Zones which have kept their geometry, but had their population revamped, will be returned to their original state, or thereabouts. Splitpaw will be in its level 30 incarnation.

Certain zones were added to Everquest outside of expansions, available to all plauyers regardless of what expansions they’d bought. These will be appearing at the approximately correct time. So, The Hole will be present at launch, as that was added shortly before the first expansion. The Warrens, a low level dungeon that made Odus actually worth visiting, won’t be along until the first expansion by that measure.

Only original races and classes will be available, but race/class combinations which were added post-launch, such as the awesome Gnome Paladin, will be playable. The missing classes will be Beastlord and Berserker. The missing races will be Frogloks, Iksar, Vah Shir, and Drakkin. They’ll be along with their respective expansions.

Compared with the last progression servers, a lot more effort has been put in to making sure that items do not turn up until the correct era. Also, many items which have since been removed from the game will be making a triumphant reappearance, until it’s time for them to leave again. It is said that this might even include the Manastone!

Jewellerycrafting and alchemy have been totally revamped in the live game. Fippy will be taking us back to how it used to work, with the original recipes. Crafting, in general, will only allow recipes that existed in the current timeframe.

Fippy will be using the modern smooth experience curve which eradicates hell levels. A modifier will be applied to that, to approximate the rate of level gain that we saw at launch. The experience penalties that some races used to have will be gone, though races with experience bonuses will retain them.

The Map UI will work. This was added well after launch, but never required ownership of a particular expansion. Many other UI parts are expansion locked and will turn up at their allotted time. For a more authentic launch experience, don’t use the map! Me, I’ll probably end up using it to extricate myself from Steamfont.

The /melody command, AKA Autotwist, will be functional. This is one quality of life change I’m glad of. Twisting was a technique that involved starting and stopping bard songs rapidly in order to get the benefits of more than one at once. It required constant fiddling about, and perfect timing. While it might be said that autotwist removed some of the skill from playing bard, it’ll save a lot of repetitive strain injuries.

It sounds like the ships between the continents will be running, but there will also be newfangled teleporters on the docks for those who don’t want to wait. Rather a shame, in my opinion. Hanging out at the docks and taking the boat used to be quite a social experience.

Spell gain will use the new system where you gain spells every level, instead of getting a large number in one go every 4 levels. Spell damage, and monk unarmed damage, will use the modern values, greater than the original. However, out of combat mana regeneration will be back at original values, making me glad I play an Enchanter.

NPC soulbinders will be present. Originally non-casters would need to find a player to bind them, setting their respawn point. That wasn’t much fun, so NPCs were added to cities and some other locations that would bind you.

When you died in the old days, most of your possessions would be left on your corpse, and you would need to retrieve them. After 7 days the corpse would decay, and any items on it would be lost. The developers have made the decision to not bring that back, though they are considering putting it up for a vote. I’m a little disappointed by this, as it was rather central to the whole feel of the game. You’ll still lose xp when you die, and be able to reclaim some of the lost xp by getting back to your corpse, but I hope they bring equipment drop back. It is not a feature I would want to see in any modern game, but it was core to the EQ experience. (It’s not quite as awful as it might sound, as there were spells that could summon a corpse, as well as a corpse dragging command. Using my illusions to help people get their corpses back was one of my favourite hobbies!)

Like the first progression servers, there will be certain goals that need to be achieved in order to move on to the next expansion. Typically this involves defeating all the most powerful enemies of the current build. Unlike previous progression servers, once those goals have been achieved the playerbase will then vote on whether to progress or not, and will keep voting once per week until a majority of active players are ready. One of the big problems with the last progression servers was that a small number of guilds managed to advance the servers much faster than most people really wanted. Voting should slow things down a little.

If you have any questions, especially if you haven’t played EQ before, just drop me a comment. I’ll do my best to answer, either in the comments, or perhaps even in another post! The server should be coming up around 10 am PST, and perhaps I shall see you there!

EQ2: Maltheas and the Flowing Black Silk Sash – With Video!

The Flowing Black Silk Sash was one of the most sought after of original Everquest items. As it was launch content, rather than expansion, you can be sure that folks will be fighting over it on the new Fippy Darkpaw progression server over the next few months! It will begin in the possession of the level 42 Frenzied Ghouls of Lower Guk, a contested dungeon, so it might take a few weeks, even for the most eager of rushers. The queue will probably stretch all the way to Grob.

I seldom had the patience for lengthy camps in Everquest. Spending hours, or even days, waiting for a rare monster to spawn, instead of his common placeholder, and then hoping that he has the specific item that you want never struck me as much fun. That’s not to say that I have much of a problem with some gear needing that sort of dedication. I’m just willing to leave it for someone else, and find different equipment in a slightly less mind-numbing fashion. I loved Everquest crafting, and I expect that will, once again, be my primary source of equipment.

I expect most of those who will be trying Fippy’s server are old EQ players. We know what to expect, though no doubt the corners of our memories have been softened by time. Those who are trying Everquest 1 for the first time are in for a treat! And when I say “treat”, I mean a harrowing experience which will cause twitter to be filled with wails of anguish as they encounter game systems that have not been fashionable for a decade. I’ll be on-hand to assist with any corpse-runs that may be required.

Everquest 2 mostly did away with the more extreme aspects of camping, though at the cost of making gear feel a bit generic sometimes. The Flowing Black Silk Sash made a triumphant reappearance as the reward for one of EQ2’s Heritage Quests, and it was this quest, “The Teachings of Yoru”, that Maltheas set himself to finishing today! A perilous deed indeed for it would require defeating quite a number of ghostly martial arts monks, all of whom had out-levelled our Ratonga pal.

I was interested in seeing how well I could capture a full definition video of EQ2 (I usually record in half definition for Minecraft), so I thought I’d make a little film of the final battle. It can be blown up to rather high definitions using the little definition setting button on the bottom of the video window. It took a rather ridiculous amount of time to upload as a result, so I doubt I’ll make a habit of that!

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The Nature of Maltheas was...IRREPRESSIBLE!!!

Fippy Darkpaw: An Everquest Pilgrim’s Progression Server

Everquest has a new Progression Server opening up on the 15th of February.

A progression server is as close to the original launch experience as the developers can get you to without spending a massive amount of time unravelling things. So you do have the updated engine and UI, but all the expansions are turned off. Expansions will be slowly turned on one by one, giving you something approaching the same experience that original players would have gotten through the years.

For the last progression server I was completely foxed because several zones had been revamped, and could not be restored to their original state, leaving me utterly lost in the city of Freeport. Still, it’s as close to launch as you’re ever going to get, so if you weren’t there the first time around it is an interesting opportunity to travel back in time to get a glimpse at the early days of MMOs.

I took part in the last progression server, and while the first couple of days is tremendously fun and nostalgic, it didn’t take me too long to realise that while at the time EQ seemed almost futuristic, it’s actually rather painful for me to play now. I’ve become soft and spoiled, I suppose. So I had been planning on giving the new progression server a miss, even though SOE are kindly offering old players free EQ time between the 10th and the 21st of this month. That was until I discovered what the server had been named. Fippy Darkpaw.

Fippy Darkpaw is much beloved of EQ players. He was, and presumably still is, a spirited little gnoll who frequently charges the gates of Qeynos. He has yet to be successful in his attack, but never lets that discourage him and so is rightfully considered a great hero by the Darkpaw gnolls. You may encounter one of his descendants in Everquest 2 from time to time, if you involve yourself in some of the seedier going on beneath Qeynos. He has assisted Maltheas on quite a number of his investigations, in fact!

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Maltheas meets with Fippy in Crow's Resting Place

I am told that the old EQ gnoll model has been updated recently, and that’ll probably remain the case for the progression server, but this will always be Fippy Darkpaw to me.

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Yip Yip!!!

So I’ll pay him a visit. I owe it to him after killing him so many times back in the old days, though he and his brothers certainly did me in plenty as well. Today I’m leery of full loot corpse runs, and he probably has a completely new model, but we were both there at the dawn of Norrath, and it’ll be good to see him again. I might pop in on Cuburt too!
Continue reading Fippy Darkpaw: An Everquest Pilgrim’s Progression Server

Two by Two – The Rat

This is a rather ancient post I made on my original website, long before the days of such useful things as blogs or WordPress. I’ve cleared out most of the posts from that time, and am in the process of tidying the rest away, but I thought this might provide a small amount of entertainment. It was the year 2000, and a pattern had already begun to emerge. Some monsters were ubiquitous. Today you might poke fun at the boars, but back then the little chap that was everywhere was the rat.

1. The Rat

Continue reading Two by Two – The Rat