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Absolutely Your Grandfathers MMO: Let's Play Classic EverQuest!

Cyrael

...we're shy.
(he/him)

Original EverQuest Loading Screen

EverQuest
Introduction​

Welcome to this Let’s Play of the classic MMORPG ‘EverQuest’! This is also my first ever LP, so please be patient with me as I get my feet under me and figure things out. Mistakes will be made, lessons will be learned… Just like EverQuest did for the genre!

LP Structure​

EverQuest is by design a slow paced game with opaque, archaic, and punishing gameplay mechanics. Getting through all of the content, or even a significant portion is a challenge. My experience with the classic game is somewhat comprehensive, especially in the early levels, and I will be sharing as much as I can. I will be mixing in video tours, screenshots, musings about design choices and challenges, alongside memories from when I was playing in the heyday of Classic as we take a character from 1st level up to 10th. Anyone reading is welcome to follow along using the free client and server, but I generally anticipate this will be a solo experience.

A few things will need to be decided on first, such as our Class, Race, Religion, and Starting City! These choices will determine the content we see, and if there is interest we can either continue past 10th level, or start over to see another part of the world.

While the game is incredibly open, and the playerbase is very generous with items, I want to try and recreate the experience of EverQuest from when I played it. Therefore, I will follow a few simple rules:
  1. Stay off Kunark (It is going to be a zoo, and I don’t like Iksars)
  2. No Gear Handouts from other characters (Twinking… is this still a term?)
  3. Grouping with similar leveled PC’s only / No Power-leveling
  4. No Gameplay Addons/Helpers (mostly enforced by the server, but there are exceptions)
    1. Addon Exception: Text Logger for easier pulling of dialog for the LP

Original EverQuest Trailer (Not actual game footage!)​

Game Overview​

Everquest is one of the longest running, continuously updated MMORPG’s. Originally released in 1999, there has been at least one expansion made available every year, even in the dismal waste of 2020. Despite tons of competition, including its own sequel in 2004, somehow this game continues to be profitable enough to warrant server maintenance and new content decades after it was released.

The original EverQuest takes place in the world of Norrath, spread across 3 continents known as Odus, Antonica, and Faydwer. Each of these continents are subdivided into ‘Zones’ - discrete areas a player must load between. These zones vary from cities, open wilderness, complex dungeons (non instanced of course), and more! A player begins at level 1 as their chosen Race/Class combo in one of the handful of ‘safe’ cities. From there it is entirely open ended. There is no main story, very few interconnected quests, and no tracked progress aside from your level and equipment. You make your own goals, interact with the other players, and experience the best graphics that 1999 could offer!

Story Time​

My experience with the game began in early 2000 about 3 months before the first expansion, ‘The Ruins of Kunark’, was released. As the first major expansion, it added a whole continent (Kunark, of course), a new playable race (Iksar), and lots of end game quests and zones that I never had the chance to experience. At the end of 2000 the second expansion ‘The Scars of Velious’ was made available and once again catered to high level play, and culminated in an ‘unbeatable’ boss that could only be encountered ONCE per server.

The original release and these two expansions are typically considered to be the ‘Classic’ experience.

About one year after Velious, ‘The Shadows of Luclin’ was put out. This was the first majorly differing expansion in that it completely rebuilt the engine of the game. In game character and NPC models had been updated to be more detailed, an auction house was added, and you got to go to the MOON!

At this point I dropped off due to no longer having infinite free time. Around 2004 or so I dabbled with EverQuest 2, and shortly thereafter World of Warcraft, but since have not really jumped into any other MMO.

However I still feel some sort of nostalgia for the original game, and despite all of it’s flaws I find it to be a fascinating game. So many things that it does have shaped the way that every MMO since has been developed - almost always in a ‘this sucked in EverQuest, how can we make it better’ mindset.

Every few years though I get that itch. I’ll reinstall the game from my old discs, install the patches from Project1999 and start over. And every time the magic comes back. I’ll play for a bit, get my fill, and move on. And that time has come again!

How Am I Playing​

The idea of ‘Classic’ Everquest had been a part of the community since the release of Luclin. The engine changes, additions of many Quality of LIfe features, alternate advancement options, and constant progression of expansions left some players feeling like the game wasn’t for ‘them’ anymore. This gave rise to the Everquest Server Emulator scene, and brings us to Project1999.

From their own website:

Relive the Classic Everquest Experience as it was from 1999 to 2001. Project 1999 is a free to play Classic Everquest Server, unaffiliated with Daybreak Game Company but operating under legal permission. Our goal is to restore the magic and difficulty of the original Everquest game, including the mechanics, interface, and challenges of Original Content, Kunark, and Velious. Project 1999 is the most popular and most accurate reincarnation of Old School Everquest.

Project 1999 has 3 servers: Blue, Green, and Red.

Blue and Green are identical servers that follow the release of all patches and expansions in near real time as it happened in 1999. Green was recently created to allow for a ‘reboot’ to start over from the launch state of EverQuest. Eventually it will merge back in with Blue and the cycle will continue again with another reboot.

Why is this important? Some items, quests, and NPC’s only exist in specific periods of the game and were then later removed, nerfed, or adjusted. A few famous examples are ‘Rubicite Armor’ which gave a moderate health regeneration and was the only Red tinted armor available, or the ‘Manastone’ which gave caster characters a rare way to quickly restore their MP.

We will be playing on the Green server, as it is currently the most populous (about 1,000 active players at any given time) and has just recently released the Kunark expansion.

Red is a PvP server, with a population of less than 100 active players at any given time. I’ll talk a bit about PvP in the main LP, but suffice to say it was very rarely rewarding or fun for me.

Before we can begin though, we need to talk about the various classes and races we can be.
 

Cyrael

...we're shy.
(he/him)

EverQuest Characters​

In the world of Norrath you take on the role of an adventurer, new to the world and unceremoniously plopped down in an appropriate starting city based on your Class, Race, and Religion.

Not all races can be every class, and not all classes need to pick a Religion. Why is Religion an important part of character creation? Some classes like Clerics and Paladins MUST worship one of the many deities of Norrath, but in general it is a safe bet to choose ‘Agnostic’ at character creation. The game has faction systems much like modern MMO’s that take into account your Class, Race, and Religion to determine the attitude that an NPC starts with towards your character. Some of this can be adjusted via quests, killing specific monsters or NPC’s, or even by glitches in the system that allow you to interact with NPC’s while sneaking around. Religion on the other hand is somehow visible to EVERY NPC and will often make you Kill On Sight of those who follow another religion. Worshippers of Bertoxxulous The Plaguebringer are not welcome at the temple of the Prime Healer, for example. This can be frustrating as certain parts of cities can become off limits to you with no way to really change it. Religion cannot change once your character is created!

Anyways, we will keep this in mind as we explore the classes we can be.

Classes​

There are 4 primary categories of classes, each with diverse opportunities and play styles even within that category.

Melee​

Melee classes are generally your primary damage dealers or tanks with no spellcasting ability (except Bards).

ClassDescriptionRacesRatingsWhy To LikeWhy to Dislike
Bard
The Bard has the unusual ability to play magical songs, whose supernatural effects last as long as the Bard continues to sing. He has some passing knowledge of the Warrior ways (self-defense), but his main focus is always his art.
Half Elf, Human, Wood Elf
Role: Support​
Complexity: 4 / 5
Solo Score: 3 / 5
MUSIC! Bardsongs are spells that require no mana that last roughly 30 seconds, and take 3 seconds to cast. You can then stack or ‘twist’ songs together to put multiple buffs on you and your party. Fun fact: Bard was my favorite class and I gave myself repetitive motion injuries while playing them!​
They are complex to play as, and if you are looking for a passive chill time they are NOT the class for you. They also can’t take a hit, so if you screw up you are likely dead.
Monk
The Monk is dedicated to honing her body into a pure weapon, shunning most weapons and forms of armor. She's very religious as well, and the gods are known to bless Monks by magically enhancing their attacks.Human, IksarRole: DPS
Complexity: 3 / 5
Solo Score: 2 / 5
Martial Arts! These are quick cooldown extra damage dealing abilities that are mostly unique to monks. They can also feign death, and self heal. Can’t carry more than 15lbs of equipment before they begin to lose Armor Class points…. And yes, coin has weight in this game! Some important abilities like Feign Death don’t become available till higher levels.
Rogue
Falling somewhere between an assassin and a thief, the Rogue belongs to the secretive class of Norrath. She's quite skilled in weaponry, but prefers to make sudden attacks from behind. Shadier skills include Pick Lock and Pick Pockets.
Barbarian, Dark Elf, Dwarf, Gnome, Half Elf, Halfling, Human, Wood Elf
Role: DPS
Complexity: 1 / 5
Solo Score: 1 / 5
Backstab (highest single target melee damage in the game). Also the ability to hide and sneak around allows you to scout and pull monsters back to your group. Poison can be fun!What would be cool rogue skills in a single player game are useless at best, and aggravating at worst. Disable Traps (2 in the whole game!), Pick Locks (Barely even more than traps!), Pickpocket (make your group hate you!). Also, since your best damage skills require you to be behind an enemy, soloing is practically impossible.
Warrior
A Warrior is a master of armed combat, in all of its forms. He's at home on the battlefield, and is trained to take as much punishment as he doles out. By nature, Warriors have more health points than any other class. All, except EruditeRole: Tank
Complexity: 1 / 5
Solo Score: 1 / 5
Can take hits all day long, and can build up aggro from monsters over time. A few fun extra skills like Bash or KickRarely able to enjoyably solo due to a lack of damage mitigation and slow HP recovery.


Caster​

Casters are actually quite diverse, ranging from direct damage, support, crowd control, and utility. The only unifying piece is that they all use the INTELLIGENCE stat as their primary statistic.

ClassDescriptionRacesRatingsWhy To LikeWhy To Dislike
Enchanter
An Enchanter can charm beings and make them fight for a new master, or magically enhance the capabilities of a sword-welding warrior. She even has some proficiency in offensive spells.Dark Elf, Erudite, Gnome, High Elf, HumanRole: Support
Complexity: 5 / 5
Solo Score: 4 / 5
Enchanters can go anywhere (if Agnostic) due to the Illusion <Race> type of spells, which allows them to remove base prejudices from NPC’s. Additionally they can charm nearly all creatures in the game to fight for them. In groups they are masters of crowd control and have one of the few ways to increase mana recovery for other casters.Once wrong step while charming and you (and your party) die. Very involved and technical playstyle.
Magician
The Magician is the summoner of the arcane arts, and can conjure up everything from a loaf of bread to a huge Fire Elemental to fight on his behalf. While not as offensively adept as a Wizard, a Magician still possesses considerable spell power.Dark Elf, Erudite, Gnome, High Elf, HumanRole: DPS
Complexity: 3 / 5
Solo Score: 5 / 5
As a pet summoning class, Magicians excel at soloing. With a variety of pets types they can slot into almost any group, and their ability to summon useful items makes them very popular.Slow and Steady with pets. No big blasting capability. All summoned items are tagged ‘NO RENT’, which means it disappears on logout.
Necromancer
The Necromancer belongs to the dark brotherhood of the arcane arts, dabbling in death. Through evil spells, he can animate dead bodies and skeletons to do his bidding, as well as cast spells to leach life from his victims.Human, Erudite, Dark Elf, Gnome, IksarRole: Support
Complexity: 2 / 5
Solo Score: 5 / 5

Like Magicians, Necromancers summon pets that allow them to solo a lot of content. They also have powerful Damage Over Time and fear spells that allow them to cause a creature to run away and die!
Not super useful in group settings - DoT’s don’t last long enough in most group based combats to be useful. Also, universally EVIL and unable to easily travel to all cities.
Wizard
The Wizard is a seeker of knowledge, and her life is spent focusing on this goal. She uses powerful spells to see things from afar and transport them between places. A thirst for arcane knowledge has made her a master of magical translocation, as well as an offensive force of destruction.
Dark Elf, Erudite, Gnome, High Elf, Human
Role: DPS
Complexity: 1 / 5
Solo Score: 3 / 5
Big Blasting Spells can take out enemies quickly. One of two classes able to self and group teleport throughout the world.Big Blasting Spells draw aggro, and in group situations you will die. Lots of downtime waiting for mana to recover.


Priest​

Priests are also magic using classes that use WISDOM as their primary statistic, and are more focused on utility than direct damage.

ClassDescriptionRacesRatingsWhy To LikeWhy To Dislike
Cleric
A Cleric is a holy woman born with the power to heal, and, to a lesser extent, call upon the wrath of her deity to smite her foes. Prayer is how the Cleric gains her ability.Dark Elf, Dwarf, Erudite, Gnome, Halfling, High Elf, Human
Role: Support
Complexity: 2 / 5
Solo Score: 2 / 5

Best healer in the game, and you will always be welcome in groups. Ability to Resurrect dead PC’s (and thus restore lost EXP)
Healing is great, but your damage output is so low that soloing is a big challenge.
Druid
A Druid is the master of the outdoors and befriends all flora and fauna. Creatures rarely ever attack him unless he attacks first. He is a clerical spellcaster who focuses on all things natural, allowing him to call upon Nature for aid and defense.Human, Half Elf, Halfing, HumanRole: Support
Complexity: 2 / 5
Solo Score: 4 / 5
All around class that despite being a pure caster can do well in almost any setting. Self and Group Teleports, and the ability to turn yourself or party into Wolves!By far the most popular class, for good reason. However, competition for groups will be very hard.
Shaman
Similar to a Cleric, but closer to a tribal witch doctor, the Shaman can be found amongst the more primitive races. Her primary focus is healing, but she can employ many augmentation and offensive spells as well.Barbarian, Ogre, Troll, IksarRole: Support
Complexity: 3 / 5
Solo Score: 3 / 5
Healing, Damage over Time, great mana recovery. Welcome in almost any groupChallenging to play solo, only one ‘good’ race to play as.


Hybrids​

Hybrid classes combine a Melee with a Priest or Caster, truly becoming the best and worst of each class. They typically all have experience gain penalties due to their powerful abilities and utility.
ClassDescriptionRacesRankingsWhy To LikeWhy To Dislike
Paladin
A Paladin is a holy knight, fighting for the cause of good in all aspects of life. She shares some Clerical powers and fights nearly as well as a Warrior, and possesses the innate ability to Lay Hands.Dwarf, Erudite, Half Elf, High Elf, Human
Role: Tank
Complexity: 2 / 5
Solo Score: 2 / 5

As a hybrid between Warrior and Cleric, the Paladin excels at tanking, and with Lay on Hands can turn a near death into victory!
Spells appear at level 9, and are typically much weaker than Cleric spells. Amazing damage against Undead, mediocre against all others.
Shadow Knight
The antithesis of a Paladin, a Shadow Knight derives power from the evil gods he serves. He's part Warrior, part Necromancer and has the innate ability to Harm Touch.Dark Elf, Erudite, Human, Iksar, Ogre, Troll
Role: Tank
Complexity: 2 / 5
Solo Score: 2 / 5
As a hybrid between Warrior and Necromancer, the Shadow Knight is one of the best aggro holding classes and is a huge part of any successful group.Evil characters always have a hard time getting around! No innate healing like a Paladin means soloing is dangerous
Ranger
The Ranger is a hybrid mix between a Warrior and a Druid, sharing the skills of both. He's most at home in the great outdoors.Half Elf, Human, Wood Elf
Role: DPS
Complexity: 3 / 5
Solo Score: 2 / 5
Rangers are great at secondary tanking or damage in a group. They can also track specific monsters in a zone, making searching for wandering creatures a breeze!I think Verant hated Rangers. Bows never did any appreciable damage, they couldn’t tank like other hybrids, or do damage on par with most other melee or hybrid classes.

A Note About Experience​

In order to gain levels in EverQuest you need to gain Experience Points (EXP) either through killing monsters or completing quests. However, not all classes and races require the same amount of experience to level up. You can see some of the 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons influence here. In general:

  • Bards, Shadow Knights, Rangers, and Paladins all require 40% more EXP to gain a level
  • Monks require 20% more per level
  • Wizards, Magician, Enchanter, Necromancer all require 10% more per level
  • Rogues require 9% LESS per level
  • Warriors require 10% LESS per level

But thats not all! Certain races also have an EXP Penalty:

  • Trolls & Iksar: 20% More
  • Ogre: 15% More
  • Barbarian: 5% More
  • Halfling: 5% LESS

These are multiplied values as well - not additive.

Next we will take a look at the various races in more detail! While I am putting them together feel free to muse about the game, ask questions on the Classes, or anything else you might think about!
 

Cyrael

...we're shy.
(he/him)

Races​

The world of Norrath is populated with a wide variety of races and creatures that mimic what is found in traditional tabletop roleplaying games, with a few interesting (and modern day questionable) decisions. I’ve always found that race selection is secondary to class selection, as it is a limiting factor in your overall gameplay experience. Much like classes we can categorize our races between ‘Good’, ‘Neutral’ and ‘Evil’. This generally determines where in the world specific races can go based on the faction system, and otherwise adjusted by Religion.

From the Wiki:
  • Races that are Good can typically enter other Good cities without being attacked.
  • Races that are Evil can typically enter other Evil cities without being attacked.
  • Neutral races can typically enter any city, and Good/Evil races can typically enter theirs.
  • Iksar are hated by every race, and other races will likely be attacked upon entering their city.
  • There ARE other factors, including Deity and Class choice, completed quests, etc.

Customization​

Sad to say, there isn't much. Within each race you can customize your gender between male and female, and pick from one of 8 or so unique faces to use. This is long before the likes of Black Desert Online allowed for true grotesqueries to be created.

Good Races​

Barbarian​


Warriors at heart, most of the Barbarians' history revolves around one war or another.

Starts In: Halas, a frozen rudimentary settlement in the North West of Antonica
Special Qualities: Increased food consumption, Slam Skill, Extra Cold Resistance
Vision: Standard
Armor Size: Medium & Large
Notes: All Barbarians incur a 5% EXP Penalty. This is one of what I would consider a variant human culture than a race, but I am sure there is a lore reason they aren’t.

Dwarf​


Short but strong, Dwarves outperform Humans in nearly all physical tasks. Their prominent facial hair is their trademark, seconded by their dexterity.

Starts In: Kaladim, the dwarven stronghold on the west side of Faydwer
Special Qualities: Innate Sense Heading Skill, Magic Resistance
Vision: Infravision
Armor Size: Small
Notes: Dwarves are great, and one reason why is they have a unique jumping animation that includes a forward flip. I never thought of Dwarves as dextrous, but EverQuest certainly does.

Halfling​


Short and Human-like, Halflings are by far the most nimble and mobile race in the world. Outstanding dexterity and agility come naturally, and they're natural travelers. Because of this, Halflings have developed peaceful relations with all other races.

Starts In: Rivervale, just to the west of Freeport. Yes, it’s basically Hobbiton.
Special Qualities: Innate Hide and Sneak skills, Disease and Poison Resistant, but requires more food than other races.
Vision: Infravision
Armor Size: Small
Notes: Despite the official description above, I am pretty sure that Halflings will be attacked on site in any Evil city. The only race with an EXP Bonus at 5%.

High Elf​


Though they have physical traits in common with Woodland Elves, High Elves are far more developed in the ways of the mind. Pale and thin, they prefer to bide their time exercising the confines of the mind, and not the body.

Starts In: Felwithe, located on the periphery of the Greater Faydark Forest on Faydwer
Special Qualities: None, other than Firiona Vie (The elf on all the key art) is one.
Vision: Infravision
Armor Size: Small or Medium
Notes: High Elves are typically the best choice for any caster class as their default Intelligence is one of the highest!

Wood Elf​


Yet another variation on the Elven-Human theme, Wood Elves are slightly weaker than Humans, but highly dextrous and agile. Their innate ability to act in the interest of fairness and justice often leads them to dedicate their lives to the good of society.

Starts In: Kelethin, up in the trees of the Greater Faydark on Faydwer
Special Qualities: Innate Forage and Hide skills
Vision: Infravision
Armor Size: Medium or Small
Notes: Wood Elves start in Kelethin, the only city that doesn’t require you to ‘zone’ elsewhere in order to encounter monsters to kill.

Neutral Races​

Erudite​


Self-pride and intellect persuade most Erudites to forego physical activity in favor of mental challenges. Social grace is their forte, and they believe themselves to be the pinnacle of evolution.

Starts In: Erudin or Paineel - both on the continent of Odus. Your class and religion determines where.
Special Qualities: Disease Vulnerability, Magic Resistance
Vision: Standard
Armor Size: Medium & Large
Notes: Another ‘race’ I would consider a variant human culture. This one definitely sticks out as more problematic than Barbarians.

Gnome​


Distant cousins to Dwarves, Gnomes tend to burrow in the hillsides in underground communities. A lack of surface light lends a tan hue to their skin tone, and they rarely emerge to mingle with other races.

Starts In: The Clockwork City of Ak’Anon, southwestern Faydwer
Special Qualities: Tinkering Skill (Unique Tradeskill)
Vision: Infravision
Armor Size: Small
Notes: I honestly have very few feelings about Gnomes. Being a Neutral race on Faydwer is unique, as all the others are ‘Good’.

Half Elf​


As Human-Elf hybrids, Half Elves share the prominent physical features of both races. Their intellect is a notch above most other races, though they suffer a lack of strength as compared to the other Norrathian races.

Starts In: Various locations based on class, or Religion (Freeport, Kelethin, Surefall Glade, Qeynos, Felwithe)
Special Qualities: None, other than a wide range of classes to choose from
Vision: Infravision
Armor Size: Medium
Notes: Half Elves are interesting in that they can be found anywhere that the Human or Elf races start, depending on their class. My most played race!

Human​


Humans epitomize the norm in Norrath.

Starts In: Either Qeynos on the western coast of Antonica, or Freeport on the east.
Special Qualities: It’s a human. Widest range of class/deity options.
Vision: Standard
Armor Size: Medium
Notes: Official description sums it up. Nothing special. Sadly, no skin tone options.

Evil Races​

Dark Elf​


Dark Elves share the heritage and features of other elves in Norrath, but they are more evilly aligned. Home is almost always underground; darkness poses no obstacle for Dark Elves.

Starts In: Neriak, a great underground city on the eastern end of Antonica near Freeport
Special Qualities: Innate Hide Skill
Vision: Ultravision
Armor Size: Small, Medium
Notes: Definitely inspired by Drow from D&D, this is the most popular Evil race from a Player perspective.

Iksar*​


A tribal race, these lizard-like warriors carry on a rich heritage of conquest, enslavement and destruction. Iksar are quite intelligent (despite their gargantuan size and warrior-like ways) and prefer to socialize within their own circles.
Starts In: Cabilis, their capital city on Kunark
Special Qualities: Innate Armor bonus, increased HP regeneration, Expert Swimming, Cold Vulnerability, Fire Resistance
Vision: Infravision
Armor Size: Medium (Unable to wear Plate armor)
Notes: The ‘Super Evil’ race. They cannot enter any other city without being attacked, and no other races can enter theirs. Added in the first expansion. Incurs a 20% EXP Penalty.

Ogre​


With their lumbering gait and enormous breadth, Ogres are an ominous presence. While not very intelligent, Ogres are known to cooperate with one another quite efficiently.

Starts In: Oggok, central Antonica
Special Qualities: Immune to Stun attacks, Innate Slam skill, but increased food consumption rates
Vision: Infravision
Armor Size: Large
Notes: Ogres. One of the biggest models for PC’s in the game, they can block doors in human cities! Incurs a 15% EXP Penalty.

Troll​


Despite a two-foot height difference, Trolls get along famously with Ogres, sharing similar likes, dislikes and pastimes. Outdoorsy and not quite bright, they're easily recognizable due to their skin's natural green tinge.

Start In: Grobb, far south of Antonica
Special Qualities: Innate Slam Skill, Increased HP Regeneration, but increased food consumption
Vision: Infravision
Armor Size: Large
Notes: Trolls are a favorite of Shadow Knights and Shamans for the faster HP regen coupled with their self-damaging to mana conversion spells. Incurs a 20% EXP Penalty


A Note About Vision​

In an attempt to make this similar to a tabletop game, and really just to annoy players in the name of ‘immersion’ all characters have specific vision qualities that affect how they can see the world around them. Humans and all of their variants (Erudite, Barbarian) have default vision which means that without a light source (daytime, torches, magical items) they can’t see AT ALL in the dark. There is a particular cave that a Human Druid can start next to and not be able to find their way out if they drop or lose their torch. It’s crazy. Most other races have Infravision, which works reasonably well in the dark, but adds a strange red cast to everything in the dark. Dark Elves have Ultravision, which allows for perfect sight in all lighting but adds a purple cast to everything in the dark. Getting items with Ultravision, or equipable light sources are a non-trivial part of playing EverQuest.

A Note About Food​

Everyone has to eat! All characters need food and drink in order to maintain automatic HP and MP regeneration. Go too long without food available in your inventory and you will effectively not be able to heal. Finding a friendly Magician to summon food, or using skills like Foraging can help, but for most folks that means going to an inn or general goods vendor and purchasing food and drink. Some races also consume food faster than others, meaning that they need to keep a backpack full of Rations and Water or risk getting stuck.

A Note About Languages​

Many races speak more than one language, but they all at least speak Common. You can select any known language by switching your chat window output language to one you know, and can teach it to others by talking to them! It is a really neat, and unnecessary feature of the game (since everyone knows and defaults to Common). I passed many a boat ride teaching Elven to Dwarves.

Time To EverQuest!​

Now that we know the basics about our races and classes, what does our adventurer look like? Post your thoughts and ideas and we will get started!

*Remember, just due to the penalties and overcrowding I am looking to avoid Iksar for now!
 

SabreCat

Sabe, Inattentive Type
(they/them)
The self-sufficiency of a Magician sounds appealing. And maybe your lack of experience with Gnomes could let you see a dash of fresh content yourself?
 

Aleryn

Gravity is overrated.
Memory of gnome pain sound effects; proceed with caution.

Excellent summary as startup. Good luck with an original of the time sink genre.
 
I never played this but that because my cousin got legit addicted to it and the whole extended family banned it. I didn't get a ton of info about what happened, but I think he actually did have to stay somewhere for medical/psychiatric treatment.

Years later he told me he sold that character for $5000. I think he was 14!

Blue and Green are identical servers that follow the release of all patches and expansions in near real time as it happened in 1999. Green was recently created to allow for a ‘reboot’ to start over from the launch state of EverQuest. Eventually it will merge back in with Blue and the cycle will continue again with another reboot.

Why is this important? Some items, quests, and NPC’s only exist in specific periods of the game and were then later removed, nerfed, or adjusted. A few famous examples are ‘Rubicite Armor’ which gave a moderate health regeneration and was the only Red tinted armor available, or the ‘Manastone’ which gave caster characters a rare way to quickly restore their MP.
I love this dedication to the game, so cool.

Can someone please get just about all of those female models some clothes, though? Yikes.
 

Cyrael

...we're shy.
(he/him)
Thanks for the initial interest! This was a lot of fun to put together, and was a good reminder of all the small things that make up this game.

The self-sufficiency of a Magician sounds appealing. And maybe your lack of experience with Gnomes could let you see a dash of fresh content yourself?
Gnome Magician could be a lot of fun! Ak'Anon and the Steamfont Mountains are an interesting starting area, and it is close to some really well loved and populated dungeons as well.

I never played this but that because my cousin got legit addicted to it and the whole extended family banned it.
This was absolutely the first game I remember hearing about addiction being an issue (even to the point where it would sometimes be known as 'EverCrack'). In my case, I absolutely developed some unhealthy habits during my peak play time, and a good friend of mine effectively failed out of High School because of it. I will share some stories of ill-advised actions I took when they are relevant to how they fit into the overall gameplay.

I never sold an EverQuest character, but around the same time I was still somewhat into Ultima Online and sold a small house for about $100 during the big rush when Trammel opened up. When I was 16 it seemed amazing.

Can someone please get just about all of those female models some clothes, though? Yikes.

These are also the default models your character has when they have no items equipped, aka the 'Naked' model you would see after any character death. It is absolutely one of the things that didn't age well. I took a quick look at the 'redone' models for the post Luclin era and they weren't any better.
 

Cyrael

...we're shy.
(he/him)

So It Begins...​

I've gone ahead and created the character, done a small amount of setup and tweaking to hopefully give us a good experience as we go through the first few levels together. Expect a full post in the next day or so around what it is like to start an EverQuest character in 1999!
 

nataeryn

Discovered Construction
(he/him)
I didn't hear about EverQuest until I got to college in 2002. My first roommate had heard of it and played some, but he was real big into Ultima Online instead. He let me try it out for about maybe a half hour and I was so confused and lost. Final Fantasy 11 had just come out so our whole suite picked that up. I do remember my roommate getting excited for EverQuest 2. By then we had grown apart. He moved off campus and I moved to a hall style dorm on central campus. The entire hall was hyped for World of Warcraft. I got to play in the beta some. Then the whole world was obsessed with WoW and I wasn't. fast forward a few years and I'm looking for people who like FF11 and I found and played with the folks from TT and that's how I got an account here.

Its really interesting to see how closely EverQuest is tied to the DnD roots. I'm excited to hear how EverQuest worked in more detail!
That list of starting cities sounds like a lot, FF11 had just 3 starting cities. Did EverQuest converge its characters soon after the starting zones? Was there a natural hub for everyone to congregate towards?
Was leveling up in EverQuest mostly a solo exercise or was leveling more of a group activity?
 

Destil

DestilG
(he/him)
Staff member
As a Mage main from day 1 I’m excited. You’re underselling their dirrect damage potential a bit, #2 after the wizard. Have fun with the bolts.

Be sure to do some Kedge Keep soloing in... I think it’s the 30s? That place is almost mage exclusive.

i’m really curious about the exact patch status of a bunch of things like meditate, mana stones and pet equipment, but I’ll ask as they come up.
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
I am honestly surprised that TSR didn't sue the pants off the developers, because that is just wow.

But then, TSR making a bunch of nonsensical and bad business decisions was pretty much par for the course...
 

Destil

DestilG
(he/him)
Staff member
I mean, they were nearly bankrupt and were bought out by WotC in 1997, for one.

Norrath, of course, started as one of the dev’s homebrew D&D game.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
Oh man, I missed this thread going up! But I would have voted Magician, so it's a happy ending.
 

Cyrael

...we're shy.
(he/him)

Basic Character Creation​


We’ve already been introduced to Percii, the Gnome Magician in an earlier post, but I didn’t go into the character creation process. The reason being… there isn’t much to it!

Upon character race, class, and religion selection (I ended up going Agnostic) you can choose one of 8 faces per gender, and allocate your starting statistics.

Why is this important? Unlike other RPG’s, once your character has their stats set at creation time the only way to augment them is with spells and equipment. You never get more points to invest. Depending on who you ask, that means that starting stats are incredibly important, or barely worth a thought.

I went with my standard for any Caster class: pump as many points into Intelligence as possible, and any leftover goes into Stamina. You are given 30 points total, and can put up to 25 in one stat.

Here is what I ended up with:


Quick Aside: Character Stats​

Your EverQuest character is primarily defined by several primary statistics, all of which would be familiar to any tabletop RPG fan:

Strength
Effects: Attack Power (ATK), Carry Capacity, martial skill learning speed
Importance: Low for Percii, as weight reducing bags can be bought or summoned!

Stamina
Effects: Hitpoints (HP), Endurance (ENDR), and amount of breath for swimming
Importance: Medium to Low for Percii. Getting hit is going to be bad in any case due to armor restrictions. A little more HP won’t hurt!

Agility
Effects: Dodge and Defense Skills, ‘Avoidance’ Armor Class, Movement Speed (Below 75!)
Importance: Anything below 75 makes you run slower, which in a game with limited fast travel is a huge handicap. Percii’s innate Agility was fine.

Dexterity
Effects: Bard songs, some martial skill learning speed, critical hit chances, ‘Procs’ (special weapon effects)
Importance: Low for a mage, not worth investing in.

Intelligence
Effects: Trade and Spell Skill learning speed, and most importantly: mana caps
Importance: High! More mana = less downtime

Wisdom
Effects: As Intelligence, but for Priest classes.
Importance: Low for Percii - Intelligence is our casting stat

Charisma
Effects: Merchant prices, Enchanter and Bard spell effectiveness
Importance: Low. Very few if any spells in the Mage’s repertoire requires Charisma, and merchant prices aren’t wildly impacted.

A First Step into Norrath​

Once you select your brand new character and enter the world, you are greeted with…


You Have Entered Ak'Anon

What's this? No tutorial… no opening cutscene… No fanfare?

That's right.

It’s just you next to a waterfall and a really intimidating looking guy named ‘Priest of Discord’ (Don’t worry, he’s pretty chill overall). Oh, and another player's corpse just sitting there rotting away.

Here’s the thing. This is how it was in 1999 and we loved it. Or at least, we say we did.

EverQuest from the initial moment is open ended. There isn’t much in regards to an overarching story that you follow along with outside of small incidental or discovered pieces. You aren’t here to do anything other than follow your heart and sense of adventure. The only instruction we will have is that we can go to our characters ‘Guild’.

So what does that mean for Percii? Let’s take a look at what we have in our starting inventory and see if we can find any clues as to what to do next.

Quick Aside: Interface​

The original EQ interface was this beautiful piece of art that really felt at home with any other 1st person RPG of the era such as Might and Magic or Wizardry.


Unmatched Beauty

Unfortunately the limitations of Project1999 don’t allow for this interface to be used anymore. Instead they have a close approximation to what is known as the ‘Velious UI’, which came about near the same time as the expansion bearing that name. While not as interesting looking, it maintains about the same level of functionality and limitations as the original classic UI. I’ve adapted it to be 4:3 ratio for the viewport as widescreen views weren’t well supported back then and everything looks a little off.

Initial Inventory​

Let's take a look at what we entered the world with:


By bringing up the Persona screen we can see the details about our character.
Our equipment slots are at the top of the screen, our stats, resistances and weight allowance down the right side, and our pockets for carrying goods in the bottom center.

Right now we have No Equipped Items, and what appears to be Food, Drink, 3 Individual Papers, a Book, and a Dagger.

Almost all characters start this same way - although non casting characters would only start with one piece of paper. We can hover or long-click on any item in order to see what it is!

Skin of Milk

This is a NO DROP item, which means it cannot be placed on the ground, or traded to another player. Milk, as you can see, can be enjoyed by all classes and races. No lactose intolerance in Norrath!


Bread Cakes

A ‘Hearty Meal’ means that it will fill up Percii’s stomach for longer than a ‘snack’ or ‘light meal’. Between this and the milk we should be good for a while. You will notice this and the Milk both have a Weight and Size. Weight contributes to your overall burden (we can carry up to 60) and Size determines what kind of bag it can go into.


Registration Letter

This looks interesting. Many items have a right-click ability to engage with them. By doing so on this note we get the following:


Welcome new student of the Eldritch Collective. Take this Registration Letter to master Wuggan Zuesphere at the Library Mechanimagica. He will be your new instructor. Study Hard, and you shall obtain your goals!

Again, no fanfare, but this is our first quest. If we can locate Wuggan Zuesphere in Ak’Anon and deliver them this note we will be able to officially ‘Join’ the guild of Magicians. It will also lead us to where we can train our Skills and purchase additional Spells. Speaking of… what are these other papers in our pockets?

Spell: Minor Shielding

All magic users begin with two spells. Minor Shielding is shared among all of the Caster classes and is a basic buff that increases your max HP and your AC for a limited time (about half an hour). Percii cannot cast the spell from just this piece of paper. We will get to that in a moment. This spell also belongs to a specific school: Abjuration. The more you cast this spell the more your Abjuration skill will increase. Higher level in a spell skill reduces the occurrence of ‘fizzles’, or failed castings. These can be devastating - depending on how deep into the cast time you get before you fizzle, you will still expend a percentage of mana AND lose the spell. Not fun in the middle of a fight.


Many spells increase in power as your character levels up. At this point casting this would give us about 6 HP and 3 or so AC, and caps at power at around level 5.

Spell: Burst of Flame

Our second spell is going to be our primary damage output for the next few levels. As part of the Evocation line, Burst of Flame is a direct damage single target spell. At level 1 we can expect it to do about 3 damage to an enemy, depending on if they have resistance to fire or not. Thankfully this isn’t much of a worry at our level.

Tome of Order and Discord


Our first LORE ITEM and… the first item we are going to use that big ‘DESTROY’ button on in our inventory. We are able to give this book to the Priest of Discord standing where we initially loaded into the game. He will then flag our character as a PvP participant. This is universally a bad choice on any non-pvp dedicated server. By doing so our name will turn red, we will be able to be freely attacked by other PvP players, and worst of all… no beneficial spells can be cast on us by non-PvP players. It severely limits who you can group with.

Percii will not be going down that path!

This is a good point to explain the LORE ITEM tag. A single character cannot have more than one Lore Item in their possession. Many Lore Items are required for, or the reward from, a quest. There is a spell ‘Identify’ that can give you information about a Lore Item. Later, LORE ITEM was added to several items that the developers didn’t want players to be able to abuse by ensuring they could only have one of them.

Dagger

And last but not least, a simple dagger. Weapons are typically not going to be a primary focus for us as a caster, but at lower levels it is important to have something to fall back to in order to damage enemies when our Mana runs out. Weapons can be slotted into your PRIMARY slot for most characters, but can also be used in your SECONDARY slot if you have the Dual Wielding skill (which only Monks have at level 1). All weapons also have a SKILL type (Piercing, 1 or 2 Handed Slashing, 1 or 2 Handed Blunt) which determine your likelihood to hit with that weapon. Using a weapon increases the skill over time. All weapons have an Attack Delay and a Damage stat. For us this isn’t important since if we are falling back on our weapon for damage we are likely already dead. However, Melee classes will look for specific weapons that have a favorable speed/damage ratio.

Now that we’ve gone through what our pockets contain, let’s get equipped. We can put the dagger in our PRIMARY slot, Destroy the Tome of Order and Discord, and then get ready to use our spells.

Putting our Spells to Work​

Spellcasters in EverQuest follow the same general pattern:
  • Find, Research, or Purchase a Spell.
  • Copy the Spell into your Spellbook.
  • Memorize the Spell to one of your 8 spell slots.
The Spellbook starts completely blank and can be pulled up from your inventory or by the /book chat command.


A Beautiful, but empty spell book.


Each page has a slot you can put a new spell into. You cannot have a duplicate of an already known spell, and it is possible to move them around once they have been scribed. This can be useful to help you keep things organized as you get higher level spells that make earlier ones redundant or useless.

By right-clicking my two spells, and left-clicking on a blank spot I can put them into my book. Higher level spells take longer to scribe. Each of these took about 5 seconds.


Now we’re playing with Power!


Now that we have them copied, I can then put them into slots of my spell bar. I usually put my most efficient damage spells in slots 1 to 4, and then buffs or utility spells in slots 5 - 8. Memorizing a spell of your current takes about 20 seconds, but that time decreases as you level up. Hows that for Immersion!

The final step is to select a target and cast the spell. Let’s try out Minor Shielding and see how it helps:


6 HP, 3 AC. Could help us take 1-2 more hits against a level 1 enemy!


The spellbook also has a button named ‘Meditate’. This is a skill for Casting classes that unlocks at level 4. We will discuss it in more detail, but it is a big differentiator of EverQuest from other MMO’s.

Skills​

I’ve mentioned Skills in several parts of this update, but haven’t really reviewed what they are. Every Character has a specific set of skills at level 1 based on their class and race. As your character levels up they unlock more skills to use, and get 5 Points that they can allocate at their Guild Leader.


Percii's Starting Skills

Like any 1st level character, Percii isn’t good at much. In fact, she is ‘Awful’ at just about everything except Common, Gnomish, Dwarvish, and Tinkering (a gnome racial skill).

Using a skill actively is the most common way to raise it. Many of these skills are also capped each level using a simple (level * 5) + 5 formula, with a ceiling around 200-255 depending on the skill. At first level most of our skills will cap at 10.

Spell Skills
Percii's most important and most used skills. Most of our skill unlocks will happen in this category as well.

Abjuration, Alteration, Conjuration, Divination, Evocation
These dictate how often you fizzle at a spell when casting their respective school. Raises naturally through casting spells of the appropriate school.

Channeling
How likely you are to continue casting while being hit in combat. Raises when hit during casting.

Meditate*
Shown as a bug - we can’t use it till level 4.

Combat Skills
A grouping of skills that while important for melee and hybrid classes, will be generally ignored by us.

1H/2H Blunt, Hand to Hand, Piercing, Throwing
Likelihood to hit a target using a weapon of that type (or bare handed for Hand to Hand). Raises naturally by attacking with the appropriate weapon type equipped.

Defense
Directly raises your AC as it rises. Improved by being attacked by enemies.

Offense
Directly raises your ATK as it rises. Improved by attacking enemies.

Tradeskills
All Tradeskills allow a player to craft items for their own use or for sale.

Baking, Blacksmithing, Brewing, Fletching, Jewelry Making, Pottery, Tailoring, and Tinkering
You can learn any number of tradeskills. All of them are raised by attempting to make items with a difficulty at or above your current skill level.

Language Skills
There are a total of 24 languages you can speak in EverQuest. Nobody ever does.

Common Tongue, Dwarvish, Gnomish
How clear you are in Chat when speaking said language or what you can understand when speaking that language. Every character starts at 100 Common Tongue (fully fluent). You raise it by hearing someone speak the language. There are many other languages we don't know yet!

General Skills
These are skills every character regardless of race or class has access to. Some are useless, some are useful.

Alcohol Tolerance
How quickly you recover from drinking alcoholic beverages and how it affects your stats. Raised by drinking!

Begging
Non-hostile NPC’s can be begged from, and you may receive a small amount of money. A failure can enrage the NPC and cause them to attack you!

Bind Wound
Heal a character up to 50% HP using Bandages. Helpful for downtime reduction but raises slowly and can be expensive (unless you are a Magician!)

Fishing
Buying fish and tackle and taking some time out to relax. Every game must have a fishing minigame by law.

Sense Heading
There are no maps in classic EverQuest. Sense Heading allows you to determine which cardinal direction you are facing. Raised with use. You can’t get a false trigger on this thankfully - you either know the direction you are facing and are alerted, or you don’t and it clearly says so. Raised through usage. Fun Fact: dropped weapons will always orient their blade due north as an alternative!

Swimming
Determines the speed at which you can move in water and at high levels can allow you to stay underwater longer. Important situationally - there is a whole zone (Kedge Keep) that is underwater and a slow swim speed will make it unbearable!

More skills will unlock for us as Percii gains levels - most notably at level 4!

What now?​

Fully equipped (with her meager possessions), spells at the ready, I think it is time to explore Ak’Anon and see if we can’t find the Guild Master Wuggan Zuesphere at the Library Mechanimagica and turn in our note. It’d also be a good idea to start looking into additional spells we can cast. Hopefully we can find them in the Library Mechanimagica alongside our Guild Master.

CURRENT STATUS:
Level: 1
Location: Ak’Anon
Goals: FInd Wuggan Zuesphere, Discover new spells, Get to Level 2!


I hope this deep dive into some of the minutiae is interesting or, at least, enlightening. There is a lot to unpack if you never played this on live. So much of the Dungeons and Dragons and early MUD roots of this game are apparent in almost every design and gameplay choice that has been made.

Next time I hope to get a video overview of me touring Ak’Anon and surrounding Zones and a breakdown of the quest structure and our first taste of combat!
 

Cyrael

...we're shy.
(he/him)
Thanks for all of the participation so far! I want to try and take some time to respond to some specific questions or comments

Did EverQuest converge its characters soon after the starting zones? Was there a natural hub for everyone to congregate towards?
Was leveling up in EverQuest mostly a solo exercise or was leveling more of a group activity?
Each major starting area had at least one interesting dungeon for people to congregate into starting at a relatively low level. Crushbone for Faydwer, Befallen on eastern Antonica near Freeport, Blackburrow on western Antonica near Qeynos, and Guk for the Trolls and Ogres. I anticipate we will spend a decent chunk of time in Crushbone with Percii.

Otherwise, depending on the server, large communities of players would congregate in the Commonlands near Freeport or Greater Faydark. On my servers it was always the Commonlands as it was accessible and safe for races of any background.

EverQuest is 100% a better game when you group, but it can be done solo all the way up to max level. Some of the downtime mechanics are very punishing by modern standards (or even, for it's time). This led to me treating the game like a chatroom with D&D attached. It really was a social experience that I don't think could be replicated in the same way today.

As a Mage main from day 1 I’m excited. You’re underselling their direct damage potential a bit, #2 after the wizard. Have fun with the bolts.
Yeah, that's on me. My 'blasting' career started and ended with Druids and forgot how much better Mages had it. I've played Necro into the 30's before, but it was definitely a root-and-rot or fear-and-rot experience with a pet. Really excited to give it a fair shake with my elemental friends!

Be sure to do some Kedge Keep soloing in... I think it’s the 30s? That place is almost mage exclusive.
Fun story: I tried Kedge a few times on live as a bard with some IRL friends who were a Ranger and an Enchanter. My job was to keep up the
Tarew's Aquatic Ayre song so we didn't drown. The fun part of the story was that we all had a <50 swim skill, I got stunned, and we all drowned. Also I forgot to get a bind so guess who had to run back from Freeport...

i’m really curious about the exact patch status of a bunch of things like meditate, mana stones and pet equipment, but I’ll ask as they come up.
At this point in the Project1999 timeline some of those items are just unavailable. One of the big challenges about playing this game today is that the other folks who do know everything about the game, and even though they dropped, it was impossible for a regular player to get things like a Manastone or other era specific items because they were camped.

I think a lot of the joy of EverQuest came from the fact that the internet was a much smaller place then. Rare items were like myths - and seeing someone in Rubicite armor was like seeing a celebrity or hero. There wasn't a lot of websites that broke down every quest, every camp, etc. It was all learned and talked about in game. I've got some cool stories of how people figured out some interesting quests I'll share as we get deeper in too.
 

Destil

DestilG
(he/him)
Staff member
Yeah, if Kunark is out you're never getting a manastone; those went away very early.

The one thing I want to note about the classic UI is that the spellbook fits very neatly into the vision window.

*ominously cackles*

Also the full screen was available pretty early if your video card could handle it, maybe even before Kunark? But certainly no later than that.

My main was an Erudite who had 20 points put into Stamina and 5 into Intelegence and my friends never let me hear the end of it.
 
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That spellbook is lovely.

I also love that baking and alcohol tolerance are skill options. If possible I want to be proficient in those! I have no idea how that's done! Hopefully lots of drunk baking?!
 

nataeryn

Discovered Construction
(he/him)
Thanks for the response. I'm loving seeing this in depth already!

That OG interface though... oof. I'm young enough to not have played many games from that GUI tradition and I'm not so sure I feel too bad about that.
The notes in your inventory feel very Morrowind. FFXI did start with a simple cutscene and it did have a quest log. (granted not every quest shows up in the log and there's no way to know what NPC is holding a quest)

I kind of love that spell book and agree with VV. I'm looking forward to hearing more about how the magic works as a Black Mage from FFXI for comparison.

The skill granularity reminds me of my 5 minutes with Ultima Online. FFXI crafting was always a big draw for me and I am always interested how MMO economies work. Of course I'm not able to commit the massive time required (or cheat) to actually successfully engage with MMO economies typically.
 

Cyrael

...we're shy.
(he/him)
FINALLY got OBS up and running appropriately to do some screen recordings and potential streaming. Should have Perciis run through Ak Anon happening soon.

I don't have an awesome audio setup, and am pretty self conscious about my voice, but would be willing to do commentary live as well as a transcript of the basics in text. Is there a preference?
 

SabreCat

Sabe, Inattentive Type
(they/them)
Yeah, I'll read the thread screenshot for screenshot, but am highly unlikely to watch any video content.
 

Destil

DestilG
(he/him)
Staff member
I don't see any need to do audio, aside from recording the game. No one had voiced chat in 1999.
 

Krigo

AO Tennis no Kiseki
(he/him)
I generally prefer text over video content. I'd probably check out the video content, but skim through it rather than watch it fully (sorry!).
 

Destil

DestilG
(he/him)
Staff member
Yeah, I... kinda slept during the day and played this at night when I could get away with it, due to the phone line thing.
 

Cyrael

...we're shy.
(he/him)
I will be streaming my playthroughs for folks who want to see it. I went live this evening for about an hour, and totally neglected to post it here!

I'll be taking screenshots and putting this into a much larger writeup about Ak'Anon, Steamfont Mountains, and our first few levels in the next few days!

 
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