EverQuest Nostalgia Tour – 2007 Edition

As I have written, every fall it comes, the urge to go back to pre-cataclysm Norrath, the desire to see EverQuest again.

Back in 2004, the desire was filled by a new game, EverQuest II. It had just enough tips to the old game to keep me happy.

In the fall of 2005, talk on our guild channel about the days of old in EverQuest, plus the cheap price for a copy of EverQuest Platinum on the shelf at Fry’s ($9.99), and the whole Station Access thing got me back on the ground in Norrath again. And with Gaff in tow as well.

Gaff is seems to have sympathetic nostalgia for EverQuest. He never played it back in the day, but knew people who did.

So he joined me for a little while there. We made fresh characters, wheedled some help from EQ2 guild mates with Station Access and high level characters in EQ, and played for a little while, getting characters close to level 20 and exploring some of the old world content. Places like Blackburrow, Crushbone, Unrest, Najena, and even a peek into Mistmoor showed up on our tour.

Then we started in on World of Warcraft. That December of 2005 started the hiatus from Norrath as we joined up with some old guild mates from Toril MUD and ran through Azeroth. At least one person in the guild declared WoW to be the spiritual successor to EverQuest.

But the seasons turn. Fall finds its way to me always.

So in the fall of 2006 I started this blog and then got fully on board the SOE nostalgia train. The EverQuest II team, finally making a very smart move, tapped into the EverQuest nostalgia with the Echoes of Faydwer expansion. Of course, that meant first going back to pre-cataclysm Norrath to see the sites in Faydwer again, places like Kaladim and Kelethin.

EverQuest had a new expansion as well, The Serpent’s Spine, which I picked up and played through 14 levels with a new character. In an attempt to make a point, I did those levels only in the new content and only with gear I was able to find myself.

Of course, then Echoes of Faydwer shipped and I discovered how much fun Fae Glide was and that was the end of EverQuest nostalgia for another season.

Which brings us to this Fall, and another trip into EverQuest, and Gaff is again along for the ride. We started talking about Toril MUD, and actually logged in for a peek, which got the nostalgia urge going. I was already starting to potter around in EverQuest and he decided to come along.

Again we started new characters. He rolled up an Iksar monk while I chose a Drakkin druid. We let that whole purist thing I had going last year fall by the wayside and begged, borrowed, or stole whatever we could to boost the characters.

And we have been proceeding apace. Gaff, who should be writing his own blog entry on the topic, has commented that the connection with MUDs in general, and Toril MUD in particular, really comes through in EverQuest and that the rawness of it is refreshing in its own way. (He will correct if I have abused his quotes.)

We have set the modest goal of getting both characters to level 30 before interest and the holiday vacations wrap up.

Of course, Cameron is going to come along, tug on my sleeve, and whisper “Test server you noob!” in my ear.

And he has a compelling argument. On the EverQuest test server experience is doubled, and doubled again if you are in one of the designated hot zones. Furthermore, you can have your character sent straight to level 25 with a full set of level appropriate gear and spells.

Not a bad deal.

I just have my own, personal issues with the test server deal.

I have a need for a long term character. While it rarely happens, test servers tend to be subject to pwiping and all sorts of crazy nerfage as the devs try out one thing or another. I need a stable environment. (Though I hear if you ask real nice, SOE will move your character to a live server! Ouch, cheap shot!)

I also actually do not want to skip those first 25 levels.

First, those levels tend to be pretty fun, and moreso with a small group. Those are also the levels that have a lot of the nostalgic appeal.

Second, I need to play those first 25 levels just to figure out my character. Really, there is a reason that they only give you a couple of spells every level. (I see they broke the iron grip of the every five levels model from Toril MUD, which in turn took it from second edition AD&D.) It is so you can figure them out a spell or two at a time, so by the time you get a few pages of your spellbook filled up, you aren’t bewildered by what they are all about.

So, when we can link up, we are off and running around in EverQuest. We are already into the mid-teens.

As usual, it is an illuminating experience, going back to EverQuest. The rawness of the game relative to current titles, the simplicity of it as well, and the feeling that it is the link between the MUDs of days gone by and the MMOs of today.

Plus, I have broken a long standing tradition with this return to Norrath of old.

Back on day one of EverQuest, a friend and I were trying to decide what classes to play. I tried to lay claim to a druid, that being my primary character class in Toril MUD. My friend also wanted to be a druid, and for the usual mish-mash of reasons, we felt we could not BOTH play one.

So I gave in and let him roll a druid while I rolled up a ranger.

Both of us were half elves and started in Surefall Glade in the Qeynos Hills.

There was the parting of the ways pretty much, because, back in early EverQuest, druids were uber, kiting, solo experience machines.

Rangers though… well… nobody has ever accused them of being uber in any way to my recollection.

So he pretty quickly levelled out of sight… well, out of my sight anyway. We were still friends, but he might as well have been playing on another server.

Since that time, until now, I have not played a druid.

And now, finally playing an EverQuest druid, I have to admit, they still rock.

I shouldn’t have given in back then! How different things might have been if we had both rolled druids.

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