Size matters (EQ2)

So it’s time to buckle down and clean our Riowa’s quest journal. I keep trying to delete quests but my finger just won’t click that button (another of my many character flaws!), so instead Riowa partnered with Angela’s Moonbow (23 Warden), mentored down to her level, and voila, quests that were gray are now yellow.

The quests in question were in Stormhold, a zone I’m not all that familiar with, so I was following Angela’s directions while Riowa was leading Moonbow. One of the reasons I’m not familiar with Stormhold is that I hate the zone. All those tight corridors drive me crazy, and having a knee-high companion wasn’t making things any better — I kept ‘losing’ her.

I finally vocalized my internal grumbling, and Angela suggested I use my “Mystic Moppet Billy” that I’d gotten as a Veteran Reward at some point. This oddly named gizmo shrinks your character by 40%. Now a lot of MMOs have spells or potions or gadgets that shrink you or enlarge you, but I’ve always thought of them as just a lark…something to do for fun. And perhaps that’s the intent, but after activating Billy, my hulking Barbarian frame suddenly fit very nicely in Stormhold. Suddenly all those hallways seemed to be amply sized, and I could relax and have fun.

And have fun we did. Moonbow made four levels, we both snagged Achievement Points (well Riowa got one, I think she got two) and I’m finally starting to be able to find my way around Stormhold. Sadly Riowa did *not* finish any quests though. Stormhold is old-school (ie, annoying) EQ2, and the mobs he needed to kill just weren’t spawning. I’m so glad Sony seems to have moved away from long spawn timers, or tiny numbers of mobs, (or both!) in the later expansions.  One quest had Riowa killing 15 goblin soldiers. As far as I could find (both via running around, and using EQ2Map), 2 spawn in all of Stormhold. I think he’s up to ten killed at this point, and he’s had the quest since level 25 or thereabouts.

Ah well, the point is, sometimes there are tools right in front of us that we just don’t see. I never thought I’d find a ‘practical’ use for Mystic Moppet Billy, but I sure did!

New digs (EQ2)

Last night I decided that Riowa should celebrate hitting the 50’s by getting his own apartment. He’d been sleeping on the couch at Raffe’s (50 Alchemist) place since forever, which had been ok since most of the time Raffe crashes at the Guild Hall and Riowa is on the road a lot. The two never saw each other and only communicated via notes left to each other.

That said, Riannon (Angela’s 80 Templar) and Kharri (Angela’s 80 Carpenter) had decorated Raffe’s pad very tastefully, but Riowa wanted to try his own hand at decorating. Plus he was constantly hitting his head on that stupid spiral staircase that leads to the second floor of the Irontoes East, where the rented rooms are.

He first looked at some three room apartments, but quickly saw through the marketing hype. One room downstairs, one room upstairs, and then a walled yard with a tarp overhead! That’s not a room! Bah! The five-room homes are lovely but he didn’t quite have the status in the community to swing one. Actually he didn’t have anywhere near the status to swing one.

Treasure TroveIn the end, he rented a two room place in The Lion’s Mane, that cozy Inn in South Qeynos. It was very comfortably affordable, particularly once he did up the place with fancy items that appealed to the snooty housing committee [bringing the Status cost to 0] and placed a Treasure Trove [knocks 25% off the weekly Gold cost] in there. First thing he did was make an ice sculpture out of all the frozen goblins he’d collected in the icy keep.

Then he finally hatched the Mysterious Egg that he’d left unclaimed for several years, and look what hatched from it!

Aviak fighter

Next he bought a large cat, and brought his other pets over from Raffe’s place, taking particular care in transporting the baby dragon.

Baby Dragon

Next he arranged his trophy weapons around the door, so every time he left he’d be reminded of past successes.


An ice sculpture of some hot warrior chick rounded the place out. A real bachelor’s pad!

Ice Statue

Not at all like Raffe’s girl-ish place, with his hearth

Raffe's Hearth

and his poncie bedroom

Raffe's Bedroom

Admittedly the eating is better at Raffe’s, though.

Raffe's Feast

The new suite has a long way to go, but Riowa is thinking me might wait until he can afford to five-room place before he really gets started on any serious decorating.

* * *

And while I’m in the image posting mood, here’s two shots of him with his new ice gear. One without the chest piece, and one with. You can see how over-done the ‘snowflake’ effect is on the chest piece. I think that’ll be the first piece I replace! (BTW, it is *uncanny* how simliar Riowa’s physique is to mine!!)

Without Snow EffectWith Snow Effect

Ice, Ice, Baby (EQ2)

Last night I finally got Riowa the Berserker to level 52, which meant he could finally don all that neat Frostfell ice-themed gear he’d earned the tokens for. Woot! I made sure to take a portrait of him all decked out, then of course never uploaded it. Doh.

I’m not actually a fan of the ‘frost’ particle-effects that comes with the gear, and I didn’t have enough time (it was midnight by the time I dinged) to see if it was one particular piece that triggered it. If it is, I’ll have to cover that piece up with something.

The trinkets, sword, shield and bow are all good gear that I can use for a while, but the armor and jewelry all has a big negative to heat damage resistance. So Riowa now has heat resistance of zero — thank goodness they don’t allow negative numbers!! Angela glanced over at my screen, saw the stats and quipped “Don’t go adventuring in Lavastorm!” 🙂

But EQ2 vets will probably be horrified to learn that my level 51 character was still wearing level 32 armor (granted, mastercrafted but still) so even with the lack of heat protection, this stuff is a tremendous upgrade and was free.

Anyway, now that I’m in my new duds, it’s time to go back and clean up a bunch of gray quests (probably mentoring one of Angela’s younger girls to get ’em green) and working up harvesting skills. I only have 8 days left on the account and I have to confess I’m going to miss it.

I had a nibble on some freelance work… it’s a Gift of the Magi conundrum. If I pursue the work, I’ll have money to play games, but no time to play them in (it feels like it’d be an on-going gig). If I skip the work, I’ll have time, but no money to pay for them…

Vanguard crafting

Tonight I popped back into Vanguard to do the crafting intro quests. I’d forgotten how complex the crafting system is. Basically its a turn-based mini-strategy game where you have a finite number of Action Points to create an item. You can spend these points to progress the item towards completion, or to try to improve the quality of the item. Sometimes bad things happen, and then you need to spend Action Points to counter the bad things. That’s a very, very brief overview.

I’ve been doing a lot of crafting in EQ2 recently and the differences & similarities of the two systems are interesting. EQ2’s system is a lot simpler (the current system…at launch it was quite complex) but happens in real time. You fire off skills to improve progress and durability. Durability goes down as progress goes up and the goal is to keep durability high while progress climbs from zero. Sometimes bad things happen, and then you need to cast a skill to counter it.

So in both systems you need to get Progress to 100%. Both systems use raw materials to start the creation process. In Vanguard, you do what you can to improve Quality from Grade D to C to B to A. If you run out of Action Points, you fail to make anything. But there’s no timer… you can stop and ponder your next action for as long as you like. Some actions use various additives which are consumed in the process of crafting, and you can only bring a finite number of these additives into the crafting mini-game.

In EQ2, you strive to keep the Durability meter high. There are 4 ‘tiers’ of Durability and the quality of the finished product depends on what tier the Durability meter is in. At lower Tiers you’ll create nothing but might get some components back. At Tier 3 you’ll get a basic item, and at Tier 4 you’ll get a Pristine item (this varies with what you’re making..sometimes you’ll get a higher quantity rather than better quality). The limiting factor here is your mana, since casting skills use that up. And the clock is always ticking. You aren’t limited in the amount of time you take, but you are limited in the amount of time you have to react to bad things happening.

The EQ2 process quickly becomes fairly routine and doesn’t take much thought. It’s a good unwinding exercise; something you can do while chatting or just kind of zoning out and letting the cares of the day drain away. It’s very rare that you fail to make a Pristine item once you have the system down. And you can churn out item after item pretty quickly.

It’ll be interesting to see how Vanguard compares to this experience. Running through the newbie quests, I was fairly bewildered, and things are very simple at the start. Apparently the number of Actions available rises as you get to higher levels of crafting. At this stage, it’s more fun and interesting than crafting in EQ2, but I’m not sure if that’ll hold up when it comes time to grind for levels. One nice thing is that you can get Work Orders that don’t seem to require raw materials (and don’t produce anything usable) just to skill-up on. Of course, EQ2 has Work Orders as well, but they require raws. On the other hand they generate status for you and your guild, so there’s an added benefit to them.

Anyway, I just find the two systems from two SOE games to be similar in some ways and yet very different. I’m not sure how far I’ll get crafting in Vanguard for now, but I hope some time to be able to return and take it to higher levels.

Honestly, the lure of adventure is pretty strong right now. So many bizarre creatures out there to hunt!
Vanguard Moon

EDIT: Or not… logged back in to Train (because I know me, otherwise I’d forget) and got caught up in a bunch of crafting quests and did almost no more fighting!! Fun crafting quests, too. Helping build defenses for a village under attack by Hobgoblins. 🙂

Steamfont Grinding

So Riowa my Berserker has all his level 52 Frostfell gear, but can’t wear it yet. So last night I decided I wanted to get him to 52, or at least closer. I opened up my (perpetually full) Quest Journal and just about *everything* in it was now gray, I’ve spent so many levels in the Frostfell version of the Icy Keep. Deleting quests is hard for me (that A to B to C character trait again) but I didn’t want to spend my time finishing gray quests, so Angela offered to take me “grinding” in Steamfont.

It was her level 61 Fury and my level 50 Berserker. She didn’t technically have to mentor me (I didn’t get the warning that she was too high when we formed the group), but I asked her to, more for the fun factor than for the experience (though that was a nice plus for me). In my lay-person’s opinion the Fury is kind of over-powered to begin with, and I knew if she kept her natural level I’d just be on Looting Duty, which I hate. I want to at least nominally contribute to groups I’m in (even though she loves nothing more than mass-killing groups of mobs with her crazy AOE spells).

The good news is that we roamed through the zone, killing named mobs and me getting the ‘zerker to 51 and nearly to 52 before his Vitality ran out. It was late enough that I didn’t want to quaff an exp buff potion so we called it a night there (I’ve got scads of these things since I’ve never used them and I have all the veteran rewards — Sony counts the time since you first activated the account, ignoring whether you had an active sub or not, and I bought EQ2 at launch ). Her Fury hit 62 and earned an Achievement point and I earned two Achievement points and even got some gear drops. So everyone made progress.

The bad news was that Steamfont seems to top out at Blue-Con mobs for Riowa, and he’s really never been there! I’ve leveled him so quickly that I’ve just passed whole zones by, apparently. I guess that’s what my other six characters are for, eh? But I want to make a point with them of hitting different zones when I get around to leveling them. SO MUCH CONTENT! Wow, this is a huge game!

Earlier in the day I played a bit of LOTRO and got my Champion to a whopping level 33. Again, a game I bought at launch…I’m not exactly a leveling machine. That’s what happens when you play too many different MMOs, I guess. 🙂

Another MMO smorgasbord

The snow was coming down and we’d finished all the chores we’d set out to do this week, so today was a perfect “Stay home and play games” day.

Lots of tokens to spend!I started in EQ2 where Riowa ran that silly ice-instance *four* more times, twice each with two of Angela’s characters (one 80 and the other 60), and he finally made level 50. Yay! It took a couple of experience buff potions and the 5-year vet reward that replenishes your vitality to 100% to do it, but he made it. And promptly went to spend his *huge* horde of tokens on all kinds of new gear. Now of course he has to get to level 52 to actually *wear* his new stuff. 🙂

Then earlier this evening I dipped my head back into Vanguard again. Still very fun and I’m liking the bard’s song book (where you can combine melodies and embellishments to make just the song you want to make, with each part having a different buff associated). There are some things I really don’t understand and I think I’ll have to go read a Bard guide somewhere if I’m going to keep playing him. A tutorial pop-up told me I was going to learn my first “finishing move” but I’m not sure where that is, and there’s some little widget above my hot bar that gives me a 4% buff but doesn’t seem to be an ‘active’ control, so I’m not sure what’s up with it. The newbie island is (I think?) a new addition (at least, I don’t remember it from my time playing at launch) and it has a nice bunch of pretty linear “getting started” quests that both gear you up nicely and have a good storyline. I haven’t touched Crafting or Diplomacy yet…I’m not sure how ‘deep’ I want to get into the game give that I only have 30 days to play it. I’ve been delighted to find random named mobs in the wilds, and to get decent drops off them after I defeated them, without it being part of a Quest. And I have to admit to having a total nerdgasm the first time someone flew by on a Pegasus. I noticed the shadow on the ground first, then craned my neck up to see the steed far overhead. Since I was rounding up wayward chickens for a villager at the time, it was a truly aspirational moment and got me wondering if I could manage the cost of a Station Pass membership…

Finally, tonight I logged into Warhammer Online, planning to totally ignore Scenarios and RvR, which I did. The regional chat had me very happy to be doing this, as the idiots were fapping away at their epeens at a remarkable rate, with plenty of “lern 2 play!!1!omg!!” level accusations being thrown back and forth. Someone needs to teach these little cretins that sitting in front of a PC playing computer games does *not* make you a tough guy, and the level of testosterone they bring to the table just makes them look like idiots. And bragging about being drunk is just bragging about being too stupid to be able to control yourself and/or being too feeble to hold your liquor.

Ahem. Anyway…aside from the chat, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln? Actually it was quite nice. I did a little quest line that takes you through “The Catacombs” to a back door of the “Grim Monastery,” clearing out various bad dudes as you go. The atmosphere was awesome (and got me thinking about Vampire Wars). Sadly it ended with a Champion level NPC that I couldn’t handle, but it made me really hope that Mythic at some point turns its talents to more PvE content. After I’d gotten as far as I could with that, I headed into High Pass and established a new base at Nuhr’s Crest.

All this fighting had me falling in love with the Witch Hunter battle mechanics once again; I just love the pistol/sword combination and building up Accusations to unleash onto your foes. One adjustment I really need to make, and I wonder if this is at the root of the “not enough PvE content to level” debate, is gettin used to the idea that you can fight well over your level in NPC combat. Gillain (my Witch Hunter) is level 18 and he’s fighting ogres around Nuhr’s Crest that are level 22 or 23 — in most games that’d mean a ton of downtime (or a ton of deaths) but in Warhammer it’s very manageable (social mobs are very rare and aggro ranges are very small), and of course the experience rewards are quite nice, particularly if you’re on “Rested” experience. Speaking of which, I had to run an errand in Altdorf, and when I got there I decided it’d be a good place to camp in order to get that bonus rested exp.

It was good to have pure PvE fun in Warhammer since it means I can get some use out of my 45 or so days left I have on the account. I’m unconvinced that the RvR enthusiasts will be around for years doing just RvR, so I’m hoping that as the game matures, Mythic will give some attention to PvE content. I mean think about it: how do other games keep players around? By releasing new content with new encounters to master. And by encounters, I mean new mobs that have new abilities and new weaknesses to discover. How do you go about adding new, fresh RvR experiences when the armies don’t change? But giving classes new abilities for every content push while keeping the sides balanced doesn’t seem like a viable course of action. I guess we’ll see. Maybe I’m just projecting in order to nurture my daydreams of a rich PvE MMO experience in the Warhammer universe that I’m growing so fond of (via the novels I’ve been reading). Eh, a man can dream, can’t he?

Meanwhile, in MMO land…

So lest you think all this Valkyria Chronicles talk means I’ve given up MMOs…

The other day I logged into Warhammer and *gasp!* found a group, finished a few quests, and gained a level. That said, I think I’m done. I have to work too hard to find the fun in Warhammer, while it comes so easily in other games. And as I just commented over at Stylish Corpse, I don’t think I like the reality of RvR. Maybe I’d like it in Dofus where everything is turn-based, but I’m just not into the lag-fest chaos franticality (I need to submit that word to Websters) that is RvR/PvP in most MMOs. I suppose the fact that I *greatly* prefer turn-based combat in my single player RPGs speaks to that as well. But y’know, I’m *loving* these Warhammer novels to the point where I’m so glad I tried the game, even though I don’t really enjoy it. I never would’ve picked up the novels if I hadn’t been exposed to the lore in the game.

Over in EQ2, my Berserker is slogging forward. He’s a hair’s breath from level 49 and I need to get him to 50 before the Frostfell event ends. I’ve got over 50 tokens stored up to buy him all new gear once the next tier of stuff opens up. The other day he Mentored Angela’s level 18 Warden and in one session we got her to 23. It was fun to be the Mentor-er rather than the Mentor-ee for a change. 🙂 I guess I need to /claim my 5-year veteran award and get that charm that gives you 100% vitality once a week.

And, just because I’m me, I fired up Vanguard last night! It’s open to ex-players through the end of January (I think?) and I’ve been reading good things about it lately so figured I’d at least poke my nose in. The world looks fabulous (has it always looked this good? Maybe I just never had a graphics card capable of showing it at its best) but the avatars still bug me. The community seems pretty helpful and chatty. I rolled a Bard and he’s kind of a bad-ass. I might dip my head back in there again. I do still feel a lack of polish in interface tweaking and so forth, but the game ran pretty well once (I presume) a bunch of textures got cached. I hitched like mad for the first few minutes then everything smoothed out.

I also downloading Florensia, a free2play, but haven’t done much with it. It has naval battles, and I’m still trying to scratch the itch and Pirates of the Burning Seas just aggravated.

Poor LOTRO still awaits my attention. I *really* need to get back to that. I think I need to quit my guild, Soldiers of Valor though. I’ve been away long enough that it feels awkward to log in and have to answer all the questions about where I’ve been (or worse, “Who the heck are you?”), and while they’re a nice group of people (and if you’re looking for a guild on Landroval, do check them out!), I play LOTRO so infrequently that it really isn’t right that I’m in a guild, and I’ll never feel any kind of attachment to a guild until such time as I play more regularly.

Frostfell Loot

So its been a very Frostfell Weekend for me. Riowa the ‘zerker made four levels and actually ran out of Vitality for the first time ever.

He got a shiny new sword:

And check out the detail, which is almost impossible to see unless you use a ‘dressing room’ mod (Angela’s Templar is showing if off here):

And a Bauble:

And this axe, which just looks pretty but isn’t that impressive in use:

And two trees:

And Frostfell has just begun! Happy {insert your game’s live holiday event} Everyone!

Frostfell Madness

I was settled in to get back to The Witcher tonight (I live ever in danger of leaving that game so long that I forget how to play it) when the frustrated grumbles from across the room got persistent enough that I asked what was going on. Angela was having trouble finishing a Frostfell quest with one of her alts. Her main had been able to solo the quest, and since things scale she assumed she’d be able to solo it on her alt, too. But she’d died a bunch of times trying.

So, just to be a good boyfriend, I logged into EQ2. Even her alts outlevel me, but we grouped up and she ‘mentored down’ and off we went (the quest scaled to my level that way). We blew through it without too much trouble and earned some tokens that you can trade in for all kinds of fun stuff, including gear.

I sorta skimmed through the list without paying much attention. Then I wondered how one would get more tokens, so I went back to the instance and got another quest to basically ‘re-clear’ the place. Angela came back, re-grouped and re-mentored, and we did it all again. Next time at the vendor I paid attention and wow, there’s some great stuff available. A lot of it is good *unless* you’re fighting something that does heat damage, in which case you’re pretty screwed. But there are some nice all-around items, and Riowa got a spiffy new sword that was a huge upgrade from what he was using. And I spotted a “Charm Slot” item that I now MUST HAVE. So back we went for a third time through!! Still need more tokens, but the hour is getting late.

In the meantime, Riowa made a level fighting and doing these quests, and was about 50% of the way to 44. There’s a Frostfell Collection Quest too (collect frost-bitten toes!) and when he turned that in, WOW! He went from 43.5 -> 44.25 or so. Huge experience for that. By the end of the night he was about 80% of the way to 45. Leveling like mad thanks to both Vitality and Mentoree Experience.

And have I mentioned that all this time the two of them (Riowa the hulking Barbarian and Angela on her Kerra Defiler — that’s the cat-people for non-EQ people) were wearing crowns of snowflakes and in Riowa’s case, a cloak that made him look like a giant Christmas present. 🙂

As quest rewards we took home goblins frozen in ice to place in our homes, “baby ice dragon plushies” and some frosty-cold looking floor lamps. All in all, an unexpected good time.

It seems that every year Sony adds new Frostfell content while refreshing the old stuff, so the event becomes more elaborate every year. There’s much left for Riowa to do! So much fun. Every time I come back to Everquest 2 it draws me in a bit more. Earlier this morning my alchemist made a few levels as well, and he’s getting high enough that he can contribute status to the guild (as well as keeping abreast of Riowa’s level, so he can continue to make Skills for the Berserker.

Catching up

We had a big ice storm here in New England during the Thursday overnight. Friday morning our power went out, so I couldn’t post before work. At lunchtime I came home to check on things, making sure neither Angela nor the guinea pigs had frozen to death, so no lunchtime post writing. By the time I got home, power was restored. My heart goes out to the many people who will be without power for several days; high today will be in the 20’s so its going to get terribly cold in all those houses. One of my co-workers had to leave the area to go stay with family; they had no heat, it was getting cold, and all the hotel and motel rooms are booked. I guess some of the schools have been set up as shelters for those without the means to get out of the area.

Funny thing about electricity is how much you don’t notice it until it isn’t there anymore.


Thursday night before all this started I got my first taste of this year’s Frostfell celebration in EQ2. I can’t remember if my account was active for Frostfell last year, but if it was I didn’t pay much mind to Frostfell because there’s a lot of stuff new to me that I’m told isn’t new this year. For my first outing I aided Queen Bunny in her fight against the commercialization of Frostfell. It was a fun little quest, solo (and it scales to your level) and it took me to the Steamfont Mountains, an area I’d never visited in EQ2.

One thing I learned while doing this quest is how badly equipped Riowa is. I was taking a lot of damage which made me think to check his gear and it’s all level 30-32 (and he is 42)! One of my “problems” with EQ2 is that I’m perpetually doing “gray” quests because my quest log is perpetually full. So I always log in to ‘knock off some of these gray quests’ and end up leveling in the process, making even more quests gray. I’m anal about going from A to B to C (in everything I do, not just EQ2) so I take every quest I see, and what I’m learning is that there are too many quests for any one character to do and still maintain some level of challenge. Not sure what to do about that… the A-B-C thing is pretty deeply ingrained.

Anyway, Friday night I was so totally spent that I mostly watched TV. I jumped into WoW a bit to use up Rested Experience on my baby Rogue on Rexxar, but I have to be honest, WoW just isn’t engaging me. It was fun for a week or so but now it’s just the same old same old again, even with the added benefit of CoWs. My account is up for renewal on the 23rd and I don’t think I’ll renew. Winter’s Veil starts on the 15th so I’ll probably play around in that a bit then be done with WoW.

In LOTRO the Yule Festival has begun, and I’ve read there’s a quest in the Shire that earns you a Christmas Tree for your yard, so I need to do that this weekend. I’m wondering if I can get my Champion to 35, get a decent horse, and win one of the Festival Races to get a better horse, all in the course of one special event. But there’s Frostfell fun to be had, too! So many choices! I managed to snag the whole week between Christmas and New Year’s off, though, so I’ll have some extra gaming time. On the other hand, next week is going to be hell week (launching a new web site at work) and I don’t imagine I’ll be getting much gaming dune.