Monthly Archives: October 2007

October in Review

The Site

Another month went by there when I wasn’t looking.

In October I briefly flirted with a new WordPress theme for the site, but my wife told me in 20 seconds what it took me 20 minutes to figure out, which was that it wasn’t for me.

She also told me that nobody cares about the pictures I put up in the banner, that it is only the pictures I put in the posts that matter.  Despite her persistence about being right in so many things (outside of the relationship between the electrical bill and how many lights are left on in the house), I refuse to believe this and will continue to update the banner pictures a couple of times a month.

Also, my wife, who has no interest in computer games, started reading the site recently just to see what I am spending all my time writing.  I am going to hear about that comment on the electrical bill, at least when we get done talking about last nights fun.  No damage, but the house felt like it was on a water bed for about 10 seconds.

One Year Ago

One year ago our Saturday night WoW group completed our first full instance run, The Deadmines, on our third try at it, and got in a whack at The Wailing Caverns.

I decided in EVE Online that covert ops would be a good career choice.  It certainly sounds cool.  However, the effort was cut short when I got to some of the pricier skills.

I felt that fall urge to run around in EverQuest, plus I wanted to take some pictures of Faydwer in order to compare them to the upcoming EverQuest II expansion, Echoes of Faydwer.

I also jumped into EverQuest II and got all confused (nothing new there) about the trade skill changes that occured during the 10 months I was away.

And I spent some time carping about MMO pricing plans.  I still feel the same way on that a year later.

New Linking Sites

A big thank you to the following sites:

Most Viewed Posts In October

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. Tabula Rasa Beta Forum Access!
  3. What Is A “Tank” In EVE?
  4. Mithril Mining Madness
  5. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  6. My New Scorecard
  7. Station Launcher Beta in October
  8. The Mommy MMO
  9. Why Isn’t LOTRO More Fun?
  10. EverQuest and the Fall

Best Search Terms of the Month

“eve online” AND wreck
[That should “Caracal wreck”]

you fail
[And you have been sent here]

[That brings up an odd mental image]

EVE Online

Finally, the Hulk is flying.  Now I have to have my miner train up additional skills to equip it.  Still, it pulls down a lot of ore.  With my main I continue on with missions and the production path, and I have write-ups to do on both.  Blueprints I submitted for material research processing early this month ought to be finishing up soon, so my production costs should be going down.


As I wrote, fall comes, a little rain falls, and I decide I want to go back and play EverQuest.  I swapped over my Station account to Station Access so I could play.  I ran the updates, brought the game up, and it crashes.  Actually, it terminates immediately upon entering the game.  No message.  No log.  Nothing.  I suspect it might have something to do with my removing the Audigy sound card from my system.  I have not been able to get the on-board audio to work (though it shows active in the device manager).  Everything else seems content to run with either no sound card or my USB headphones plugged in, but it would not surprise me in the least if EQ would refuse to run without a sound card running correctly.

EverQuest II

I have spent almost no time in EverQuest II over the last month.  Time has been a bit short, and the time that I do have has been spent in EVE or WoW.  Still, Rise of Kunark is coming.  Hey, wasn’t I supposed to get a beta invite as part of pre-ordering EQuinox?  No word yet and the time for beta is rapidly coming to a close.

World of Warcraft

The Saturday night instance group continues to roll on.  We managed to knock off Zul’Farrak at last, level the whole team up to 50, and get through most of Maraudon.  I have also been playing my hunter some and may end up having two level 50+ characters in the game soon.  While I said the whole promise of the 2.3 patch was something of a disincentive, it turns out not to be as big as I thought.  I ended up grinding him more than a level just collecting leather for leather working, so now he is able to work with rugged leather.


I go through these cycles where I worry that I am going to run out of things to write about that seem to alternate with periods where I have too many topics lined up and things become dated before I get to them.  I am in one of those too many topics periods of time, so I need to start getting them written, at least as outlines, as I tend to forget things if I let them slide too long.

That said, you can certainly expect to see some more on EVE in the coming month, the continuation of the tale of the WoW instance group, something about Kunark, and, if it rains again, probably something about EverQuest.  I just cannot let go.

Maraudon Light

you-have-died.pngLight as in, “we came up light in numbers.”

It was Saturday night and there were only four of us available. We decided to give the main section of Maraudon a try anyway. We had all passed to level 50 and gotten upgrades to our major spells and skills. Plus a lot of what we had run into Maraudon up to this point was levels below us. So in the four of us went.

50 Warrior – Earlthecat
50 Priest – Skronk
51 Mage – Ula
51 Paladin – Vikund

The first thing we had to do was figure out where to use The Scepter of Celebras we each got on the last run. We thought that we could zip into the middle of Maraudon and then roll back to some of the bosses we had already done as a bit of a farming exercise.

After some running around in the foyer of Maraudon, we found the altar when the scepter is used. We opened up a portal with the secpter and stepped into the instance.

And we were ankle deep in water. The portal drops you in a pool in the middle of the instance.

Well, pool might be the wrong word. The shallow end of a small lake might perhaps be more accurate. You can look up and see the open sky from where you come in. It made me wonder if there was a place in the outside world where you could look down into the lake.

We looked around and tried to head back into the earlier parts of the instance, but we were at the bottom of a set of waterfalls and where we wanted to go was at the top. No route up was obvious, so we decided to head further in.

The first mobs were some three-headed hydras that wander around the southern end of the lake. I was disappointed to see them as they look just like Gahz’rilla, though somewhat smaller. I like a boss mob to be somewhat unique, so seeing little clones of Gahz running around was a minor let down.

We killed a couple of the hydras and bypassed the rest as we made our way to a cave opening. Inside was a group of three Diemetradons, a common resident of the caves. We pulled the three of them to the entrance of the cave, but as we fought, one of the hydras walked up behind us.

So suddenly we had four mobs.

And then the hydra knock-back hit Vikund and threw him into the cave just as a wandering rock elemental patrol arrived, aggroing yet another elite mob with several minions along for the ride.

Less than ten minutes into the zone, within sight of our entry point into the instance, we wiped.


Not a good start to the evening.

Then we had to figure out how to get our corpses back.

You cannot go back to the altar to get into the instance and collect your corpses. You have to go to one of the other entrances. So we ran up to the purple entrance (though everything is greyscale when you are a ghost, so it was a bit hard to tell what color is what) and jumped into the instance there. We collected our corpses that way, then exited, ran back to the altar (with only a fight or three along the way), opened up a portal, and stepped back to where we started, in the water.

This time around we were more careful. We killed all the hydras. We pulled the Diemetradons well out into the water. We slew the patrol by itself. We began to advance into the instance.

We did not know how far we would get, but we shot for the first boss on the map, which was Landslide. To reach him we had to fight through a series of mobs, including our favorite, the Primordial Behemoths. Those were our favorite because they are huge and when you slay them, their death animation has them fall forward, apparently squashing your tank. Everybody loves that… except the tank. See this picture for a size comparison:


We made it to Landslide and took him down without much fuss. He was nice enough to drop the Fist of Stone, a good paladin mace, which Vikund got to claim.

This mace probably caused a death or two. Vikund immediately wielded the mace. While he had improved his 1h mace skill some in the past, it was not exactly up to the level of his 1h sword skill. In fact, his 1h mace skill was only about 140, so for the next dozen fights or so, his DPS took a huge hit while he skilled up.

But in an undersized group, a DPS hit like that is pretty severe. So in the next series of fights Vikund died once, Ula died twice, and Skronk fell once. The groups of four Diemetradons seemed to be our worst threat.

Part of it may have also been the fact that Ula was very sleepy. After a couple more fights, she decided to call it a night, which left just Earl, Skronk, and Vikund.

We were within sight of the main boss, Princess Theradras, but decided instead to go looking for Tinkerer Gizlock to see if we could separate him from his Hypertech buckler.

This involved a bit of back tracking to find our way to him.

We eventually found the path, but came up against more groups of four Diemetradons on a series of ramps down to Gizlock. Fortunately, they seemed to be regularly clumped at one side of the ramps, so we were able to jump off the other ends, fight some much smaller mobs, and end up right above the cave with Gizlock.

We dropped down between Gizlock and a group of four Diemetradons and got ready to fight. I took a step forward, to put a little more room between me and the Diemetradons and managed to get right inside Gizlock’s aggro radius. The fight was on, but it went fairly smoothly.

Without a lot of DPS on hand, I was using seal of light and judgement of light to help heal as well as backing up Skronk’s healing while dropping a consecrate now and again to get in some additional damage. The new hammer and its random mana regen helped out a lot there.

So Gizlock went down, but he did not drop his shield. Another mana regeneration item, I would really like to get that… though the stats on it are good enough for Earl to want it as well. Instead we got Megashot Rifle as a drop instead, and Earl took that by default, being the only one in our group who can handle a gun.

After Gizlock, we followed his tunnel back through to another path that looped around and came down to the edge of another lake. We thought this might lead back to Princess Theradras, and we were feeling pretty good about ourselves at this point, so we were game to give her a try.

We were clearing some hydras out of the water when Rotgrip, a giant crocodile, showed up. Being mid-battle with a hydra already, this was something of a stretch for the three of us. We came close. After Earl and I were dead, there was just a sliver of health left on Rotgrip, but he chewed up Skronk too quickly and we all ended up back at the graveyard.

We were so close though, that we had to run back for another try. We skirted the couple of hydras at the entry point, ran through the still empty areas we had cleared, only being stopped by a quick-respawning patrol now and again. We did our trick of jumping off the ramps to get past the big groups of mobs and finally made our way back to Rotgrip, who went down pretty quickly this time around.

All he had for us was the Albino Crocscale Boots, a leather item that nobody could use. Vikund got it on the roll.

The we decided to head over to see if we would take one last shot and hit Princess Theradras. However, we figured out that the water we were in would not lead us back up to the princess. We had to track back again.

This lead to a problem. It was easy to jump down past the groups of four Diemetradons. Getting past them on the upward trip was another story.

We managed to sneak by the first group. But at the second group we aggrod them as we ran past and managed to get a third group involved as well.

So we all went back to the graveyard.

Still, keen for one last shot, we got back to the instance only to find that by then everything in the beginning area had respawned. It was late enough that a fight all the way through again was not an option, so we tried to sneak again. Again, we got past the first group in the cave, but Earl tripped on the second group, then ran on and told us to use our hearthstones to head home.

Not being in the mood for another death, I hit mine immediately. Skronk was a little slow though, and had not quite finished when the Diemetradons were back for him and he died again.

So we picked up some loot and had a good time. It was a bit tense with just three of us at the end, but we did pretty well considering.

We still have a date with Princess Theradras though, and I wouldn’t mind another shot or two at Gizlock’s buckler.

Hulk In Space!

So last week my training finally wrapped up.  From start to finish it took nearly 50 days and cost, in skills and equipment, close to 200 million ISK.

But, at last, my Hulk exhumer is in space and tearing up asteroids.


Due to lagging skills, I still have some training to do before it is fully equipped.  Currently it has:

High Slots

3 Strip Miner I

Medium Slots

Survey Scanner
Small Shield Extender

Low Slots

Mining Upgrade I
Power Diagnostic System

I actually have some better equipment on hand, but by miner’s skills when it comes to power management and shields are too low to either fit better items or support the power drain they cause.

So there is more training to be done.

And research.  I have to figure out Strip Miner II technology.

But even as it stands, it does burn through a lot of ore.  The examples I listed in my post on high security asteroids included a comparison of how much ore every three minutes a single strip miner I yields.  Multiply that by three and that is what the Hulk harvests.

Plus, with an 8,000 cubic meter cargo bay, it can actually hold two full passes worth of ore.

I am tempted just to put two Extpanded Cargohold II modules on it, let my miner haul his own ore, and have Wilhelm go run missions elsewhere.

Still, as always in EVE, there is more training to be done.

Rome Demising Headline Contents Winners

The votes are in.  The six judges chose the following entries:

First Place: Veni, Vedi, Mortuus

  • From: Kendricke of Clockwork Gamer
  • Votes: 3
  • Deciding Factor: Lawyers Like Latin
  • Award: Great Praise!

Second Place: Rome Burns: Perpetual Fiddles

  • From: Two Hammers of Game Bunny
  • Votes: 2
  • Deciding Factor: Simple, pointed, in English
  • Award: Praise

Third Place: Et tu, Chris McKibbin?

  • From: Bildo of Ramblings of a Bildo
  • Votes: 1
  • Deciding Factor: Because “McKibbins” is so un-Roman
  • Award: Thumbs up

So congratulations to Kendricke for the top entry!  His wit is hereby declared the winner in this contest.  Visit the site to which he contributes, Clockwork Gamer, to bask further in his wisdom.

All of the top three winners should feel free to place this contest prominently on their respective resumes.

Thank you to the five people who helped me judge.  The panel included Gaff, Potshot, and White Kitten

I resisted the temptation to pack the panel with individuals (real or make-believe) who would vote the way I told them, and so my own pick came in second place.  I won’t make that mistake twice.

The real problem for me was that once the contest was declared, I had to force myself to try not to come up with my own entries.  Using “Rome Demising” as the contest title did not put me off to a good start in that regard.  And, thus, five headlines forced themselves upon me. As is common in my writing, they are all allusions to the work of others.

  • I, Cancelled Us
  • Last Man in Rome (Please turn out the lights)
  • Latinum for the Federation, Not a Sestertius for Rome
  • Imperial Rome Takes It In The Annals
  • Friends, Romans, Unemployed

If you are feeling ambitious, you can comment with the source I stole from for each of these.

Thorium Shuffle

In which the author runs around for 2 hours and accomplishes very little.

Last Saturday I was in World of Warcraft with my hunter, Tistann.  I was in the auction house looking at equipment upgrades.

When I got to guns, I saw a Thorium Rifle for sale. 

An upgrade yes, but I realized that I did not need to buy one.  Vikund, who is an engineer, can make Thorium Rifles.  Well, he had the recipe and the right skill level.

In fact, I had even started collecting the parts to make one for Tistann.  Vik was only short some thorium to make a couple of parts.

So I bought a stack of 20 thorium ore with Tistann, sent it to Vikund, and logged in with Vik fully expecting to finish up the rifle right then and there.

Vikund was up at Nijel’s Point in Desolace.  I picked up the thorium from the mail, then realized he did not have his tools with him.

So I got on the griffon and flew to Ratchet to use the bank.

He got his tools out, brought up his smelting skill, and realized that he did not have the skill to smelt thorium ore.  His skill was 245.  You need a skill of 250 to smelt thorium ore into thorium bars.

So I flew down to Gadgetzen in Tanaris to go mine mithril ore for a while to get his skill up.

I ran around Tanaris, mining mithril ore until I finally hit a skill level of 250, which took me just about a full circuit around the zone.

I ran back to Gadgetzen to get the thorium smelting skill.  Only there is no mining trainer in Gadgetzen.

So I used my hearth stone and recalled to Ironforge, ran him over to the trainer, got the skill, ran to the forge, and made 20 thorium bars.

The end was in sight!

I went to make the rifle and realized he left the previously made parts in the bank.

One round trip to the bank later he stood again at the anvil, ready to proceed.

But there was one more thing he needed to make.  Each rifle requires two thorium widgets.

So I found the thorium widget recipe.  Each thorium widget requires three thorium bars and one runcloth.

Runecloth?  Crap, I did not have any runecloth.

So a run to the auction house, which was where I started more than 90 minutes past, to find some runecloth.

It was Saturday afternoon and there was not a stitch to be found.

There are lots of things made from runecloth available, but not one auction open for it.

And nobody on the trade channel had any either.

So I put things back in the bank, got on the griffon, flew out to the boat, sailed to Theramore, flew back to Desolace, and logged off, my plans thwarted.

I wish I could say that this running around routine was unique in my MMO experience, but it isn’t.  

 I recall an all day effort for nothing back in EverQuest when I was trying to become an armor smith.  I think I ran from Qeynos to Highhold Pass three times that day, and then through it again to get to Freeport.

Nothing impresses upon you the size of the world than the need to run around it to just get “one more thing” so you can accomplish a task.

Fortunately, the next day, I was able to find ample runecloth at the auction house, so I was finally able to finish the rifle.  I even had enough thorium to make an extra for Earl. 

But on Saturday, that rifle just didn’t want to get made.

Treats in Azeroth

It is time for another set of holiday themed events in your MMO of choice.  In Azeroth, Halloween fun is in full swing as you can see.


Or was that a shot from WoW Burning Man?

Last night some of the Saturday night instance group were on running down our various class quests for Sunken Temple.  For Vikund, a paladin, that meant a trip out to the Western Plaguelands to slay undead.

Slay undead!

A paladin’s delight.  It is nice to actually have a ranged attack that can be used to pull mobs.

But as I ground through the many undead to get the drops needed for the quest, I got an extra special Halloween surprise.

I got a 16 slot, soul bound pumpkin bag as a drop!  In a graveyard!  At Halloween!


I am sure that, for some of you, the reaction is no doubt, “A 16 slot bag? *yawn*”

But for me, Mr. Altmaniac from Guatemala, it is a positive boon.  I still have a character running around with 12 slot bags in tow, and when it comes to bank slots, I know there is an 8 slot bag and a few 10 slot bags still in service.

So it made me happy.

In addition, while I was on last night I petitioned to have our guild leader, Akazar the Absent, removed from his position and to have Tistann installed in his position. (I was the only person who could invite people to the guild, and I did not have the power to change anything else.)

Much to my surprise, a GM showed up and took care of this within 3 minutes of my petition.  The GM was polite and nice to the point of “you’re embarrassing me.”

And, finally, while taking care of the class quest, Vikund managed to grind his way to level 51 which, like Area 51, is completely uncharted territory for me.

Knowing Your High Security Asteroids

With mining for fun and profit, as opposed to mining to get materials for manufacture, the key is to get the most money for your time on the mining laser.

How to make sure you are getting the most cash for your mining efforts is not as obvious as you might think.  You have to pay attention to all of the details.

When I first saw the surface details, I thought I knew the right answer.

In high security areas (0.5 and above) you get four flavors of asteroids.  Each of those four flavors can be refined in lots of 333 units of ore.  Each lot of 333 yields a fixed amount of minerals.  The four flavors and their yields are:

Veldspar:   1000 Tritanium    
Scordite:    833 Tritanium 
             416 Pyerite 
Pyroxeres:   844 Tritanium 
              59 Pyerite 
              11 Nocxium 
Plagioclase: 256 Tritanium 
             512 Pyerite 
             256 Mexallon

The current market prices for the minerals are:

Tritanium   3.30 ISK 
Pyerite     4.50 ISK 
Mexallon   35.00 ISK 
Nocxium   140.00 ISK

These prices are what I have been able to sell minerals for in a reasonable amount of time on the market.

It seems like and easy choice to go mine plagioclase.  So that is what I have been doing since I started my mining, hitting the plagioclase asteroids.

And it turns out that, at those prices, it is the right item to mine for maximum value, but not by as much as I thought.

Each of the ore types take up a different amount of space.  The rate at which mining lasers and strip miners mine is based on the capacity they can hold, which is an odd mechanic to me.  Since the various types of ore come in different sizes, you end up mining them at different rates.

So, for example, a strip miner on my ship, which fills its 540 cubic meter capacity every 3 minutes, harvests, with my current skills and equipment, the following amount of ore with each three minute mining cycle:

Veldspar:    10,662 units 
Scordite:    7108 units 
Pyroxeres:   3554 units 
Plagioclase: 3046 units

So while Veldspar processes into the cheapest mineral, it yields a lot more ore per pass.

The actual size, in cubic meters, for each of the ore types listed here are:

Veldspar     0.1 
Scordite     0.15 
Pyroxeres    0.3 
Plagioclase  0.35

Given the capacity of my hauler, 22,337 cubic meters, and the above market prices, a full load of each ore type have a value of:

Veldspar     2,211,000 ISK 
Scordite     2,065,542 ISK 
Pyroxeres    1,960,326 ISK 
Plagioclase  2,312,781 ISK

Those are gross value amounts, and do not take into consideration that I lose 1% of the minerals as a processing fee and that the broker and tax collector each dun me another 0.6% for the market transaction.

So plagioclase is still the most lucrative ore for me at the moment.  I guessed right for once.  A shift down in the price of Mexallon, or a continuation of the rise in Tritanium, could change the most lucrative asteroid to common Veldspar pretty quickly.

Veldspar, because of the surge in the price of Tritanium (because of speculation and stockpiling for new ships, as noted at the end of the EVE Economic Blog #2) is being mined quite actively in asteroid belts that I pass through.  I have seen several belts cleared of Veldspar, but still full of Plagioclase.

Of course, my real dream now is to mine some Kernite, a low security are asteroid.  As I calculate it, a full load of Kernite ore should be worth 4,854,325 ISK before fees and taxes.  Not bad for the 20 minutes it takes my Hulk to mine enough for a full load.

All of the information about ore, its size, and what it yields, is in the Complete Miner’s Guide that I have linked in the past, though the charts with the details are scattered throughout the guide.  I recommend you take a look at the guide if you plan to start mining.

Maraudon Orange

Maraudon, like Gaul, is divided into three parts, and we did about one and a half of those parts on Saturday night.

Maraudon was new territory for us. Being content added after the release of World of Warcraft, most of the group was already past the levels for it when it was added in. Only I, the guy who is seeing most of this instance content for the first time, had been in Maraudon before.

Back in June or July of 2006, Gaff and a couple of other guild mates dragged along Nomu, my level 38 priest at the time, for a run through the Princess section of Maraudon. But for that trip, the group already had the Scepter of Celebras, so we skipped all of the lead in part, the purple and orange sections of the instance.

So we were ready for something new with our line up for the night:

49 Mage – Ula
49 Warrior – Earlthecat
49 Warlock – Bungholio
50 Priest – Skronk
50 Paladin – Vikund

Maraudon is located off at the western edge of Desolace, just north of the Horde outpost of Shadowprey Village. Skronk and I pre-positioned ourselves on Friday night at Nijel’s Point in Desolace, so we would be in place to run over and use the Maraudon summoning stone on Saturday. Desolace is a long trip to reach when you do have the flight point (I recall it taking nearly an hour to reach the first time when I had to go on foot) so we thought we would speed things up a bit by being ready in advance.

Maraudon is similar to instances like the Deadmines and Wailing Caverns because there is something of a dungeon crawl just to get to the instance itself. The instance itself is rated for levels 46 to 55, but the entrance area is somewhat lower, with the mobs in the 39-42 range. This made most of them grey to us, so we had to plow through a lot of yard trash (tunnel trash?) before we got to the instance.

There are two paths into the instance, marked with purple or orange crystals. We chose the orange path because it seemed to be closer to where we were when we had gone a ways into the outer area. Then we took a wrong turn and looped around the wrong way, but the delay was short, the mobs were easy enough, and we ended up at the orange entrance.

We had some confusion with the maps available of Maraudon. I was using AlphaMap, part of the Cosmos package, which is very nice, but the map is projects on screen is small and I had trouble picking out where we were because somehow the feature that spins the minimap as you turn was on (I later found the check box and turned this off) so my minimap geography rarely matched the map.

Still, like most instances, there are only so many ways you can go, so we pressed on and ended up at the orange entrance.

We scored early on when a Barbed Lasher was nice enough to drop the Robes of Insight, which Skronk won in a caster roll-off.


That might be the only purple drop we have seen thus far in our instance adventure. I happened to have Auctioneer up, so you can see what the market price for the robes are.

The main problems we had in the instance were pretty ooze related.

The first ooze we ran into were creeping sludge.

We had an issue early on with these guys because every time you hit them, they let out an AOE attack for 200 or so points. That was pretty rough on the melee members of our party. Fighting the first pair of them, we almost lost Earl and Vik and we did lose Bung’s pet, Mezzmon.

This called for a change of tactics.

The one things that the creeping sludges did not do was move fast. They are aptly names, as they come at you at a snail’s pace. So we switch from frontal assault to kiting. DOTs, AOEs, and ranged attacks took them out fairly quickly, and without loss, once we had the tempo down. Vik’s consecrate AOE did quite a number on them.

Getting past them let us work our way around to Razorlash, the first of the named mobs of the night. We had him down pretty quickly. He dropped Phytoskin Spaulders, leather shoulders that did no good in a group of 2 plate and 3 cloth wearers.

The we tackled our next troublesome scenario. Between Razorlash and the next named there is an area with a large number of non-elite larvae and some small groups of elites. But there is also a tube that disgorges an elite larvae every minute or so.

The freshly disgorged larve does a circle around the open area where the larvae start and then moves along, rapidly, to the area of the next named mob, Noxxium. This meant that there was no safe rest between fights as we moved along to Noxxium because every minute or so an elite larvae would come chugging up from behind us and attack.

Fortunately, once you get close to Noxxium, you can find a safe spot out of the way of the larvae express.

Which lead us to the fight with Noxxium, which was a little different. A several points during the battle, Noxxium disappears and some minions of his take over the fight. We were not ready for this, so it came as a surprise, but we powered through it okay.

Noxxium dropped the Heart of Noxxium, which was dismissed by some of our group as a meager drop. However, I think we all had empty trinket slots, and the resist bonuses on it versus nature comes in handy in Maraudon, where just about everything is a nature based attack.

Noxxium also gave us the Celebrian Rod, an item we would need for a quest.

After that we faced some more straight up fights with lashers as we headed around for our next boss encounter. Along the way we got to see some beautiful… green… waterfalls.

No place for a honeymoon

We had our second problem is ooze along the way. There are some groups of Noxiums Slime which have their own surprise. When you take on a group of them, as they die they let loose a toxic cloud which, if you hang around, hits you as a DOT. Our only two deaths during this run, Vikund and Ula, both died to these toxic clouds at the end of fights.

We headed around for Celebras the Cursed. Another stand-up fight. He has a few non-elite minions around him, but AOEs (consecrate again for Vik) kept them busy and helped finish them off.

Keeping with the leather theme, Celebras dropped the Soothsayer’s Headdress, a leather head item which none of us wanted. If we had a druid in the party, I suppose he would have been happy, but not us.

Once slain, a ghostly Celebras came back to tell us about the Scepter of Celebras. We had the first part already, the Celebrian Rod from Noxxium. now we just needed the Celebrin Diamond, which comes from Lord Vyletongue, who is over on the purple side of Maraudon.

Fortunately, by the time you get to Celebras, you are pretty close to Vyletongue, so we pressed on to him.

He sits at the end of the purple side of Maraudon, the only boss on that side, and has four stealthed elite minions around him, so he can be something of a chore to take on if your group is at the lower end of the level range. By this point in the night, everybody but Earl was level 50, so it was a fight, but we won.

Vyletongue dropped the Celebrin Diamond and the Saytermane sash, a nice cloth waist item that Bung ended up getting.

We took the diamond and the rod back to Celebras, went through a bit of story telling and leading about with him, until we finally completed the his quest and received the Scepter of Cerebras. The scepter lets us skip past the orange and purple sections and start in the third part of the instance.

By that time it was a little past midnight and we were tired out and ready to call it a night.

We said farewell to Celebras, and hit the hearthstones for home. Here we are, a group picture of us teleporting away from Celebras.

Scepter kthxbai

Four bosses down in Maraudon, four to go. The next time around we have a date with a princess.

Station Access Savings Calculator!

File under “silly.”

As part of the revamp of the SOE website, they have now added a savings calculator to illustrate the advantages of Station Access. 

They are apparently worried that the current target audience for Station Access has problems multiplying $14.99 by the first seven positive integers.  

I supposed it is good to know that I would save nearly $75 a month over normal fees if I played all seven of SOE’s subscription based games.


Just for the record, those seven games are, currently, EverQuest, EverQuest II, EverQuest Online Adventures, Vanguard, Star Wars Galaxies, The Matrix Online, and Planetside.

The calculator is a little less helpful about my savings if I only play one or two games. 


Sure, there would be zero savings… and an additional cost of $15.00 or $0.01 for one or two games.

If you choose one game, you are encouraged to play more games.


While at the two game level, you are told that you can have access to more games for just pennies.


Technically, that should be “a penny more a month.”  2 times $14.99 is $29.98, or one penny less than the monthly cost of Station Access.

Maybe they were right to worry about people having problems with multiplication.

I have no doubt this was approved by the same person who thought banner ads all over the site (though not on the Station Access pages) were also a good idea.  More cow dung!

EverQuest and the Fall

What is it with the coming of the rain?  Why do the clouds in the sky and the wind in the trees make this happen?

Why is it that every year, when the weather starts to cool off and get a bit gloomy, I get the urge to run off and play EverQuest?

Well, maybe it isn’t just the weather.

Fall is also, traditionally, when an expansion comes out for EverQuest.

Last fall it was “The Serpent’s Spine,” an expansion that lured me back into the game yet again.

There was a promise of a better new user experience, a quest path that could be followed to the level cap, and even some very much needed improvements to things that affect every user, like the out of combat health and mana regeneration rates.  All of these things were clearly designed to help bring new players into the game.

I took their offer, created a new account, and started playing.  I wrote about my experiences here.  I still get hits on those posts every now and again from search terms like “Drakkin” and “Crescent Reach.”

And, I must say, that SOE did make the experience better.

I was able to follow quests.  I picked up equipment.  I was able to solo.

Compared to April of 1999, standing in front of the gates of Qeynos, with little more direction than a sword and a view of a field of rats and snakes, it was a huge leap.

It was even a decent addition to the tutorial that was put in a few years back.

Still though, in the end, I gave up after 14 levels.

I did not give up because of the clunky interface, the dated graphics, the strange key-word based NPC interaction system, or the crude map interface.

I gave up because the game is still too damn hard.

The information about what a new player should be doing in game is too sparse.

The quests are still too few and far between.

But, underlying any other issue and undermining any other attempts to improve the game, there is the experience curve that is simply too steep.


So now it is fall again, and a new expansion is coming out, this time called “Secrets of Faydwer.”

It sounds cool.  I always look at EverQuest expansions.  My post last Friday wasn’t just another goof, I am actually interested.  There is even some lore involved that crosses over between EverQuest and EverQuest II with Meldrath the Malignant. 

They’ve even learned some lessons from the EQ2 team, like putting a box on the shelf that rolls up all the past expansions so a new player does not feel lost in a sea of buying options.  In the package, on the shelf, and you have the whole game.  It was smart when the EQ2 did it and with 13 past expansions to worry about, it is a past-due requirement for EQ.

So I am keeping my eye on “Secrets of Faydwer.”

It is just too bad I will never see any of it.

I have friends who will be playing it.  But if getting to level 14 wears me out, then there is little hope I will get into the level range required to play with them.

Meanwhile, a little north of SOE HQ, a competitor is having its own thoughts on a similar subject.

Blizzard is apparently worried that people who come into their game will be put off trying to get to level 80.  They are taking action now to ensure that a raise in level cap will not be a disincentive to joining the game. 

They want to be sure that somebody who has never played World of Warcraft won’t say, “Level 80?  I’ll never be able to catch up.”

Blizzard has announced said that, among the features of their next major update, they will be speeding up levelling from level 20 to 60.

They want to put new people into their new content.  And in a level based game, the new content is primarily at the top of the level curve.  So Blizzard wants to accelerate people into the new content.

Let us recap.

Blizzard is worried that World of Warcraft’s levelling curve, decried by some of the hard core as too easy already, is actually too steep for new players entering the game.  They want to push their new content, which will presumably also be their best, and they want that content to be attainable.

SOE on the other hand, a year ago, put out an expansion that was clearly designed to bring new players into the game.  They made mistakes with that expansion.  One that jumps to mind is making it available for digital download only.  Sorry, boxes on the shelf matter, especially when trying to attract new players.  Digital download is only for players who ALREADY KNOW ABOUT a game.

But it seems, following Blizzard’s logic, that SOE’s supreme folly was thinking that the experience curve in EverQuest was fine as it stood.  The prime mistake was thinking that it was okay to let new players bang their heads against the wall that is the levelling experience in EverQuest.

And given the relative successes of the two companies, I am going to have to back Blizzard’s thinking.

If content is king, then the ability to access that content is key. 

And what EverQuest says to any new player looking at that “Secrets of Faydwer” box on the shelf is, “Looks nice, doesn’t it?  Too bad it will never be yours.”

So my title actually has two meanings.  At the top I wrote of the season.  But really, I mean the fall of EverQuest.  All of its new content is for naught if one cannot hope to access it.

SOE, look what Blizzard is doing.  Learn from it.  Leverage that content that you have.