I logged in the other day with the purest intention of grinding through the Kobold camps near Ak’Anon for another level or two, but they were already claimed and camped out by a few other players who weren’t interested in grouping up.
I wandered around looking for low level monsters to try and take care of, but it was slow going and honestly kind of a drag. If I couldn’t grind, what COULD I do?
Hey, isn’t it called Ever QUEST?
You may have noticed that outside of our initial turn-in of our note, the Quest side of EverQuest hasn’t been something we have engaged with at all. There is a reason for it, and I think we are in a good enough spot now to talk through some of the details of the quest mechanics.
Unlike Modern MMO’s there isn’t any indication when you are wandering around that an NPC can offer you a quest. When I came from EQ to WoW it was one of the biggest things I noticed as a non-raid/non-endgame kind of player, and of ALL of the things that EQ does that are archaic it is the only one I would actually change if I could.
How do we find out there is a quest? We use the ‘Hail
Normally bound to your H key, if you target an NPC and activate it you will chat ‘Hail, <NPC Name>’
. At this point the NPC will turn to face you, and if they have something of interest to say will respond back with some dialog in your chat window.
In most (BUT NOT ALL) cases if the NPC has a quest you can undertake it will appear with keywords in your chat [like this]
. You then get to use your chat window and try variations of sentences using using those keywords to get more information about the quest. Sometimes the NPC will give you an item or container to help facilitate it, but more often you are just told some general information about what the NPC needs. As far as I know there is NO quest in the game that doesn’t resolve with handing an NPC one or more items to complete it. It is a simple structure that goes through the entirety of the game.
Also unlike Modern MMO’s most of these quests do not need to be manually initiated before you can work on them. If you know that (for example) Canloe Nusbac wants Crushbone Centurion Belts, you can just walk up and hand them in without Hailing him and still get the reward. Also, every quest is repeatable as long as you can still access the items that they want - you can hand in 400 belts to this NPC and get some experience and items each time.
Another interesting aspect is that quests can be ‘Multi-Quested’. Each NPC has their own inventory and remembers what items were given to them recently, allowing multiple people to work together to complete a single quest (although only the final person to turn in gets the reward).
A way this could work out is:
- NPC Wants 1 McGuffin and 1 Doodad, both of which are NO TRADE
- You only have 1 Doodad but want the reward of the quest.
- Another player can give the NPC 1 McGuffin from their own inventory
- Before anyone else does you can then give the NPC the Doodad.
- You get the reward and credit for finishing the quest.
This is especially common with quests that offer high value items but require rare or difficult to farm ingredients. Enterprising players will gather these up and offer to do the multiquesting for a (not always modest) fee.
Quests can be a lot of fun, and an interesting way to break the cycle of camping and grinding. However there are very few of them that offer rewards that are interesting or useful at our level. Also the experience gained from them compared to an equivalent time spent grinding almost always falls in favor of the grind.
There were two big pushes in ‘classic’ EQ to make quests more interesting: The Temple of Solusek Ro and Epic Quests.
Released between the initial game launch and the Kunark expansion the Temple of Solusek Ro was unique in that it was populated only with NPC’s that offered quests for class-specific items that typically were quite nice. I spent a lot of time questing for Lambent Armor with my Bard - a bright blue plate mail that was a staple among the class.
Depending on how far we go with this LP we could absolutely find some use out of this for Percii - they have specific items for Magicians available that allow us to summon more powerful versions of our pets if we have them equipped while casting the spell.
The other major quest push - Epic Quests - were introduced after the Temple of Solusek Ro and were made to give every class an end-game questable weapon with unique properties. Prior to this the Paladin class had access to a similar quest for the holy weapon known as the Fiery Avenger. It was a well known and enjoyable quest, and it was even utilized as a key component of the updated Paladin Epic Quest.
The downside was that despite being billed as a ‘Quest’ every single one of these requires the player to get specific loot from end game raid bosses. Long story short, while I definitely WANTED these during my time playing on the original servers I never had the chance to get into Raids at all, let alone win the lucky roll to get a specific rare item.
Aside: Progression Quests
One class of quest that I loved were the progressive quests that gave you a stronger version of an item as you completed more of the quest line. In true classic there were really only two that I know of: the Monk Headbands and Monk Belts in Freeport and Qeynos. You would be required to kill level appropriate enemies and turn in some loot - including the prior headband/belt you had to go through the full quest. You always felt like you were truly going up in rank and power as you worked on them, and I know this format exists in other MMO’s that followed.
More quests of this type were added later, owing to the popularity of the format, but they were either linked to specific cities (Qeynos Badge of Heroism) or very end game focused (Coldain Prayer Shawls).
Okay Neat, but what Quest can we do?
Ak’Anon doesn’t have too many quests that are appropriate for our low level character. However, nearly every ‘good’ aligned city in Norrath has a representative of the League of Antonican Bards who doubles as the mail carrier for the good races.
Our local representative is Lyra Lyrestringer - easy to spot because she towers over all the gnomes in the market square.
We walk up to her and give a hearty ‘Hail
Lyra Lyrestringer says 'Hail, Percii - Are you [interested] in helping the League of Antonican Bards by delivering some [mail]?'
Here we can see she has two quest dialog options for us. We need to (with her targeted still) chat out something that incorporates one of those phrases. Often it is a simple parse of ‘what [keyword]’
or ‘I want [keyword]’
. Let’s try...
Lyra Lyrestringer says 'The League of Antonican Bards has a courier system made up of travelers and adventurers. We pay good gold to anyone who will take messages from bards such as myself to one of our more central offices. Are you [interested]?'
Okay, progress. Let’s try something with the [interested]
You say ‘I am interested.'
Lyra Lyrestringer says 'I have messages that need to go to - well, right now I have one that needs to go to Kelethin. Will you [deliver] mail to [Kelethin] for me?'
Here is an example of where we need to combine a few phrases. Asking ‘Where is Kelethin’ or just ‘I will deliver’ doesn’t advance the dialog at all.
You say, 'I will deliver mail to Kelethin.'
Lyra Lyrestringer says 'Take this letter to Jakum Webdancer in Kelethin. You can find him at the bard guild hall. I am sure he will compensate you for your troubles.'
We now have a letter on our cursor that we can put into our inventory. Now it is time for us to head off to Kelethin and find this Jakum Webdancer, and deliver the mail to him.
This item has the keywords NO DROP, NO TRADE, and NO RENT. This mail was entrusted only to us, we can’t throw it away (although we could Destroy it if we needed to) and if we logged off it would disappear. Otherwise there is no enforced deadline for this quest.
Where is Kelethin in relation to Ak’Anon?
On the illustrated map it looks reasonably far away, but in game terms only two zones separate us from it. We will need to pass through the Steamfont Mountains, then take a quick journey through the Lesser Faydark, and into the Greater Faydark. Kelethin is found high in the trees of this forested zone. At 5th level we are generally safe doing this overland travel between cities as long as we stick to the roads.
Without much else to say let’s head out.
The zone line to the Lesser Faydark is far to the western side of the Steamfont Mountains. As I said, if we follow the road we would be relatively safe. The only major challenge is that it is nighttime in Norrath, and I am having a hard time seeing monsters that may be wandering around. Luckily, all I find is a higher-level skeleton (who
) far off the road. Eventually we come to a break in the hills that will lead us into the most dangerous non-dungeon zone on Faydwer: The Lesser Faydark.
I may be overselling it a bit, but not by much. The Lesser Faydark connects a few zones: Steamfont Mountains, the Greater Faydark, and Castle Mistmoore. Mistmoore is a favorite zone of mine, and is inhabited by the throngs of undead in service to the vampire lord Mayong Mistmoore. However, Percii has no business being even NEAR that zone right now, so we follow the (relative) safety of the road until we find our first friendly face in the forest.
The Lesser Faydark has a few of these camps of NPC’s (this one gnomish) that can be used as waypoints. We travel past this one and continue on the road hoping we don’t run into wandering Brownies.
Brownies are the bane of the Lesser Faydark. NPC’s of all types in the game have Classes just like PC’s - including all of the same spells and abilities. The terrorizing Brownie Scouts for example are Druids. These diminutive jerks cast the ‘Spirit of the Wolf’ spell on themselves which makes them incredibly fast moving. Couple this with their tiny models you often accidentally run into one and not even realize it until you are already dead. They are highly aggressive to all characters and will immediately stop their patrols to cast high level damage-over-time spells on you. Percii wouldn’t last 30 seconds, and even if she could take a hit of this, running away would be impossible.
Thankfully we didn’t encounter any of them on this trip. At this stage of the games lifecycle I am pretty confident the other major threat hasn’t been put in (an evil marauding defiled unicorn shadow knight), so we did pretty good.
It isn’t too long before we find ourselves at the entrance to the much friendlier and safer Greater Faydark.
The Greater Faydark is one of the largest zones, and relatively easy to get lost in without any sort of Sense Heading skill if you stray off the road. Arranged in a giant square it contains exits to the Lesser Faydark, the Butcherblock Mountains (the dwarven starting area) and Clan Crushbone (the home of the Crushbone Orcs). It also houses two cities of its own: the shining high elf city of Felwithe and the wood elf treetop city of Kelethin.
It is also full of odd curiosities that seem out of place in a sylvan wood
Combine Spire View (IT IS SO HARD TO SEE AT NIGHT)
The main road out of the Lesser Faydark will take you near to these giant spires - a relic of an earlier civilization known as the Combine Empire.
These things are HUGE
. You will find a handful of these around Norrath and they all serve one primary purpose: Wizard classes are able to teleport to them. Much like the Druid Ring we saw in Steamfont, this is a nexus for folks who are looking to quickly travel from place to place in the world without the standard overland travel requirements. Certain guilds exist on this server that are composed of characters who can cast these portal spells - <Dial A Port>
being the biggest I know of. While most of the time they will give ports for free to low level characters, or those who are attempting a corpse run, it is customary to pay for these.
The story of the Combine empire is a key part of the Lore of Norrath as well. You will find weapons and relics from their civilization all over Norrath, but they generally have no presence in the ‘modern’ world.
In any case, this was a fun diversion, but let’s keep traveling through the zone.
Going through the zone we eventually see what looks to be a castle, and our game audio swells with a majestic tune. This is the facade on the outside of Felwithe - the High Elf capital.
Flanked by high level guards who will protect the low level characters outside the city, The Entrance to Felwithe leads deep into the mountain and into an open vale. Let’s take a quick detour and see what we can find.
Of course as soon as we enter this new zone, it begins to rain. Coupled with the night time travel we are doing, it really cuts down on the majesty of this zone. I won’t spend a lot of time here then. However...
Around the corner near the building known as Faydarks Bane we see an out-of-place wood elf. This is another representative of the League of Antonican Bards.
We are able to Hail this individual, and go through the same ‘I will deliver mail to Kelethin’ process and get a SECOND piece of mail to take to the Bard Guild in Kelethin.
With that, we return to the Greater Faydark and continue to follow the road away from Felwithe and towards the middle of the zone.
After a few minutes you can hear the song that has been stuck in my head since 1999:
And a quick look up we get our first view of Kelethin.
Kelethin is the starting city for Wood Elves and certain Half Elves. It is also the most dangerous city in all of Norrath. Situated high up in the trees, in a dark zone, in a dark game, the ground around it is littered with corpses of players who took one wrong turn and fell right off the edge. The only way to get up into the city is to take one of the three lifts situated around the ground.
Even these lifts can be dangerous. In 1999 especially, where 56k modems were still an uncommon sight, it was’t unusual for someone to lag out while the lift was moving up or down, and then plummet to their death. Thankfully in the far off future of 2020 I haven't run into this, but I STILL get nervous.
At the top of the lift we see a helpful sign to let us know this is the way down to the forest floor.
The entire city is connected with rope bridges and ramps, with several levels that can sit directly on top of eachother. When I had my first character EVER (a wood elf druid) I was lost for over an hour looking for the guild. It turns out I kept missing a single ramp that you could only see once you got RIGHT up next to the edge (which as mentioned before, is a scary prospect).
A quick turn though from the lift brings us face to face with the Bard Guild, and the end location for both of our quests.
And here is the individual we need to give the mail to. As mentioned up at the top, we will take one piece of mail, pick it up with our cursor and hand it over to him. When we do we get a quick ‘Thanks’ message from Jakum as well as typical quest rewards:
You can see we get some experience (honestly a decent amount for our level, about 3%), some Faction adjustments (Mayong Mistmoore HATES bards), and some gold.
Turning in both of these nets us the equivalent of 6% of our level experience, 1.5 platinum pieces, and some minor faction adjustments.
If we did this quest about 15 times we would be able to get to level 6. All told this took about half an hour of overland travel. If I didn’t make the detours I bet I could get it down to 20 minutes or so, and if I got a friendly druid to cast Spirit of the Wolf on me, it could be about 10.
Even with that support though, it really doesn’t make as much sense for us to do it. There IS a run from Kaladim (The dwarven capital) to Kelethin that gives the same rewards and can be done in about 8 minutes or so with Spirit of the Wolf. But even then, way too much time.
Back to the Grind
So, with the mail delivered Percii uses her Gate spell and returns to the Steamfont mountains and beelines to the Kobold camps.
Luckily the other groups have dropped off, and we find ourselves the only bulwark standing against the kobold swarms.
Taking the advice of Destil we give a few summons of our Earth Elemental pet to help us break up these camps. The elementals ability to ‘root’ enemies makes it easier for me to help blast them and break up the camp. The higher HP of the earth elemental means they can really hold on while getting pummeled. It only takes a few minutes to clear things out, and we can resummon up as a Fire Elemental.
The loop goes really well until I make a really really bad choice. Sometimes the monotony of the grind gets to you and you want to speed things up. So of course I load up my Area of Effect fire spell, wade deep in with the Fire Elemental…
Well that ended up about exactly as I should have expected.
Starting at level 5 each death does cost us some experience. Thankfully not enough to cause too many problems, but it is a small setback.
Lesson learned, Percii heads back, summons up a new Elemental and settles back into the loop. It only takes about half an hour to get to level 6! Throughout all of this we ended up with lots of container equipment (boxes and bags), tons of sellable loot, and raw coinage. I put all the money into the bank (enough for 3 spells at 8th level), a few of the bags, and some backup malachite. Also our old robe and dagger for nostalgic purposes.
We are getting closer and closer to level 8, where we will get a significant power bump through new spells, and thus the chance to move into more difficult and interesting zones.
I don’t know if I will have any major updates until then, as it really is just going to be more of the same.
Instead I may do some updates on more details about Faydwer and the history of the Elves and the zones themselves if there is any interest?
Location: Steamfont Mountains
Goals: Grind Grind Grind!