Monthly Archives: September 2009

Getting to Kobold Village

The Leuthilspar Tales – Part 1

I always wondered how the elves of Leuthilspar on the Isle of Evermeet, a powerful and insular people, let a bunch of kobolds build a settlement just 15 rooms outside of their town.  The guards at the front gate of Leuthilspar could wipe all traces of Kobold Village from the island on their lunch hour and still have time to eat.

Then again, if you were a grey elf on SojournMUD (now TorilMUD) back in the early days, you were happy to have that kobold settlement so close to hand.  Back then there were only three adventuring zones for the elves of Evermeet, Kobold Village, the Faerie Forest, and the Elemental Glades.  This was long before Drulak, the Elder Forest, or the Sylvan Glades were added to Evermeet.

This was an especially big deal as grey elves, plus any half elves that started in Leuthilspar, were stuck on Evermeet for the first 20 levels of their character.  As they help file says to this day:

Grey elves stay on the island of Evermeet until they reach level 20. If you leave the island at or after level 20 and lose level, you will be back on the island of Evermeet, unable to leave until you reach level 20 again.

Other races could wander the world at level 1, choose many places to adventure, and take up residence in the mighty city of Waterdeep, the central hub of the game.  But the elves, they had to wait for 20 levels before they could pass through the elfgate that teleported them to the outskirts of Waterdeep.  (And getting back to Evermeet, that was another story entirely!)

Kobold Village was very popular with the young elves because it offered everything a new player could want; danger, excitement, experience, coin, and equipment.  No doubt this caused the city leaders to turn a blind eye on this hostile outpost on their doorstep.

But first you had to get there.

Out the front gate of Leuthilspar, 10 rooms to the west, then turn north until you hit the fence with the big sign.

The sign barely reads in common:

|                                                |
| DuE to the FlOoD of STranUrs cUming to MY      |
| seTtlement, I have decided to BuiLD thiS fens  |
| To kEp yur SCUMMY Butts out and frOm kILLing   |
| my InnoCENT peoplE!!                           |
|                                                |
|   Signed,                                      |
|     Gwark, settlement leader                   |
|                                                |
| warning:  i Have tolD all roviNg Kobld guaRDS  |
| to attak on SIght of intRudrs!!                |
|                                                |

Illiterate kobold humor at its best.

But there was that fence.

If you look at the fence in the room with the sign, you are not left with many options.

The fence is made out of trunks of trees bound together with heavy iron chains.  The fence is well over 30 feet tall, and looks like it would be a painful endeavor to scale as large iron spikes have been places to poke out of the fence intermittently.  One wrong slip climbing that fence and you’d find yourself impaled.  If you want to get past the fence you’ll have to find another way other than climbing it.

That is one heck of a fence, and there is no going around it.  To east and to west the fence is still there.

To the east there is, at least at reboot, something on the ground.

A rusty saw lies here slowly corroding away to the elements.

And if you examined the saw, the results were not encouraging.

The saw is rusty and looks to have zero value to you.  Just leave it alone.

That statement was pretty accurate given the stats.

Name ‘a rusty saw’
Keyword ‘rusty saw’, Item type: WEAPON
Item can be worn on:  WIELD
Item will give you following abilities:  NOBITS
Weight: 2, Value: 10
Damage Dice are ‘1D2’
Can affect you as :
Affects : HITROLL By -3

It was crap and it wouldn’t help you get past the fence.  But if you looked at the fence in all the rooms, you might have noticed the wording changed in the room to the west of the sign.  The last line was changed to:

There appears to be a loose plank on the fence here.  It looks like the plank wasn’t nailed in properly.

These days the word “plank” is in yellow ANSI, the only colored word in the whole description.  Back in the day no such highlight existed, another example of the dumbing down of the game world, or putting everything on easy mode.  Heh!

And if you examined the plank, you would see.

It looks loose enough to tug off.  One good tug would rip the plank out and give you enough room to squeeze through the fence.

It is a PLANK that looks loose enough to TUG off.  Yeah.  Tug Plank!

A giant wooden fence moves aside, revealing a passageway.

That was one heck of a tug if it moved the whole giant wooden fence aside.

And that is that, right?  Now you’ve found your way to Kobold Village.

Did you go there when it was daylight?  Sure, these days there is a nice little starter zone that hands you some equipment including a lit object, but back in the day when you started as an elf you got no such thing.  Some cheap clothing, a tiny bag, a water skin, a few rations, a torch that lasted maybe two minutes, and a weapon that crumbled to dust the first time you dropped it.

Okay, they fixed that weapon thing not too much later.  All the newbie gear was set to crumple to dust since often enough the items were just dropped on the ground when replaced by better gear.

So maybe you found the plank in the fence in daylight, or maybe you were holding a torch that lasted long enough for you to find it and get through.  But if it was night and you didn’t have a light source, well, there was no getting through for you.  Your elven infravision would be enough for you to see the exits in a room and sense that a warm blooded being was in a room with you, but it was not enough let you find that plank, see your own equipment, or pull a torch out of your bag and light it.

And even if you had a light source or a torch on you, if you got into Kobold Village and then died… and if you were wearing newbie gear, you were going to die at some point… then running back to get your corpse might be thwarted for a while as you waited for daylight so you could tug on that plank.

Because every 30 minutes the zone would reset itself, and dead NPCs would respawn, and any doors left open, including that hole in the fence, would close.  So you would be there, naked and in the dark waiting for daylight or somebody else to come along and open the fence up.

Or, if you were new and used to the way that all the rooms in Leuthilspar always had the light source flag set, you might not even understand why you suddenly couldn’t tug the plank and get into Kobold Village.

But that’s the way things were back then.

Next time, the residents and key locations of Kobold Village.

Flying Through the Oculus

Saturday night and it was time to face an instance that had already been described to us as annoying: The Oculus.

Through comments to previous posts, we had learned that we would flying on dragons for part of the instance, using the now familiar vehicle interface in WoW, and that the dragons would come in three flavors, DPS, Healing, and Tanking.

But dragons don’t enter into it quite yet.

First we had to get ourselves together and out to the instance.  Our group for the night was:

80 Priest – Skronk
80 Mage – Ula
80 Warlock – Bungholio
80 Warrior – Earlthecat
80 Paladin – Vikund

I will apologize in advance, but I have a 100+ post precedent of putting in our names and levels with each instance group entry, so I am going to keep doing it despite the fact that we’re all going to be level 80 for another year or so, at least when we are in WoW.

We headed out to Coldarra, which is out where we ran the Nexus back in April, grabbed the main quest for the instance, and headed in.

Well, somehow Bung missed the quest, and we didn’t noticed until it was too late, but four of us got it at least.

Inside there were some standard blue-ish dragonkin and whelps.  There was also an orb with the irresistible gear icon for “click me.”  Unable to restrain myself, I clicked on it, and it sent me back out of the instance.

Well, that wasn’t a completely useless bit of knowledge at least, knowing how to get out of the instance.

Once back and warmed up, we waded through the whelps and dragonkin until we reach a portal that sent us off to the first boss, Drakos the Interrogator.

Ready for Drakos

Ready for Drakos

The Drakos fight went smoothly.  He had a few tricks up his sleeve, but we managed to plow through him.

Slaying Drakos opens up the flying part of the instance.  You rescue three NPCs at the far end of his platform, each of which can offer up a dragon for you to ride.  As I said before, the dragons come in Tank (Ruby), Amber (DPS), and Emerald (Healing) flavors.

We all chose dragons that represented our usual roles.  You don’t have to do that, but we did.

The dragons also come with an on-board navigation system that you can use to tell you what you need to be doing at any given stage of the instance.  This is nice since flying around it wasn’t always obvious where we needed to head.  So we all gave our dragons a try.

Flying in the Oculus

Flying in the Oculus

We were tasked with slaying the next boss, Varos Cloudstrider.  But to do that we needed to bring down a shield surrounding him by slaying a set of NPCs scattered about the instance which were, in turn, guarded by dragons flying around all the platforms and such.

So we killed the minimum number of dragons we could, landed and fought the shield NPCs group by group, and finally had Varos unshielded.

We then headed to his platform and took the fight right to him.

Now for Varos

Now for Varos

Varos had different plans however and stuck it to us instead.  We wiped.

We weren’t ready to handle two of his special attacks.

The first was his “around the clock” lightning extravaganza, where he sends out some test beans across a section of his platform, which is the warning that the real shock is coming soon so you need to get out of the way.

The second was his summoning loose dragons over to help him fight.

Now the first attack we would deal with.  Getting out of the way is something simple to grasp.  And the second, well, it seemed to us that if we killed all the dragons flying around, that would no longer be an issue.

So Skronk used the soul stone and started ressing us.

I accidentally released my spirit after the fight.  I’m usually good about that, but this time I did a quick click before I went, “Doh!”  Still, no big deal, right?  There was no loot roll and I could still be ressed back into the instance.

Except that, if you release, you lose the essence object that lets you summon your dragon mount.

So there I was back up on Varos’ platform when we went to start the great dragon slaughter and I realize I had no dragon.

So the rest of the team went off to slay all hostile dragons in the instance while I stood around wondering what to do.  You cannot, of course, use your normal flying mount in the instance.  So I took a few screen shots hoping to get a banner worthy picture while I pondered.

Vikund and Varos Banner

Vikund and Varos Banner

Being an engineer, I have a parachute enchant on my cloak.  I decided to see if, with enough forward velocity, I could para-glide down to the right platform to go get a replacement essence.  I summoned my ground mount, aimed for the platform, and launched myself, deploying the parachute.

Too much velocity.  I went sailing past my target and to the invisible “you’re dead” plane in at the bottom of the instance.  Dead again, I released, ran back, got a replacement dragon essence, and joined the group for the last bit of dragon clearing.

Now I read after the fact that killing all the dragons is not supposed to help, that Varos is supposed to summon them out of nothing.  However, in our second fight, the dragons didn’t seem to bother us so perhaps he summons them to him from all over the instance.  Or maybe I just didn’t notice them.

Anyway, the second fight was a success.  The casters got fried towards the end trying to out run the lightning storm, but it was late enough in the fight that Varos was going down regardless.

Varos down, the quest continues

Varos down, the quest continues

With Varos down, the next stage opened up, which involved flying around in pursuit of Mage-Lord Urom until he finally settled down in the middle ring of the instance.  Then the fun began.

Urom is one of those fights where there is a right way to handle his attacks.  Our first run at him gave us a bit of an idea of what we would need to do to defeat him.  We had not quite figured out the right method for the second fight, but thanks to a combonation of luck, frost resistance, healing pots, health stones, bandages, paladin heals, and a timely lay hands, Earl and Vikund were still standing when Urom went down.

Urom dead, along with most of us

Urom dead, along with most of us

It was a near run thing with Earl down into 3 digit health numbers.  We probably learned enough from that fight to do it again without losing most of the party, but we probably won’t be back, so we’ll take our victory and move on.

So we came to the last fight, the big fight, the fight with Ley-Guardian Eregos.  We mounted our own dragons and flew out to take on

And it was pretty much a walk-over.  Really, it seemed way too easy.

We pretty much operated as we had done previously when mounted.  You get a new ability for the last fight, or at least the DPS mounts did.  We kicked off the fight, the tank tanked, the healer healed, the DPS damaged, and Eregos went down.  It looked neat.

Eregos fight

Eregos fight

Every so often whelps would spawn around him as part of the fight, but they seemed to get consumed as part of our general storm of damage, so that was that.

We had to fly around to find where Eregos landed for the final screen shot.  He ended hung up in the center platform area where Urom was wandering earlier.

Victory in the Oculus

Victory in the Oculus

We ran around afterward and found the chest that Eregos leaves behind.  The haul there included the Vestments of the Scholar

With the Oculus defeated, we are only left with three more five person instances in Northrend, the Culling of Stratholme, Utgarde Pinnacle, and the Trial of the Champion.

Interdictor Knowledge

Way back when I wrote something about seeing a lot of Heavy Interdictors sailing about in EVE Online.  They were the new and coming thing back when the Trinity expansion came out for EVE Online.

And while I have looked into them as possible mission runners based on their rather formidable tank and firepower stats, I have never explored what they were really all about.

Lucky for me though, over on EVE Monkey, there are two great posts, on that is something of an intro to his own ship and then a more full fledged guide to the role of heavy interdictors in EVE Online.

Worth a look for those interested in ships with special capabilities.

Pirate’s Day in Booty Bay

PiratesDayFlagThis coming Saturday, September 19th, is the 14th annual International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Can I get an “Yo ho ho!” there matey?

To celebrate, World of Warcraft is holding a pirate celebration in Booty Bay on the 19th.


You can be turned into a pirate via a 12 hour costume buff (which persists through death) and hobnob with virtual versions of Cap’n Slappy and Ol’ Chumbucket (Mark Summers and John Baur), the co-creators of International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Of course, there will be an achievement for attending.  I would have shown up in any case, but an achievement is icing on the cake.

And since it is on Saturday, we’ll see if the instance group does their next run in pirate garb.

Hauling Bronze Through Forgotten Realms

“Can you summon?”

That was the question that started me off on one of the… erm… rule bending ventures that I alluded to in my post about the results of the poll on what is cheating.  It was probably 14 years ago when it happened, back on SojournMUD, long enough that I am sure the statute of limitations has run out on my transgression.  After all, the MUD in question has been through a few lives since then and is now TorilMUD.

But first, a bit of context.

There is an old joke about relative legality.

In country W, everything is legal, except where specifically prohibited
In country X, everything is illegal unless specifically allowed
In country Y, everything is illegal, even when specifically allowed
In country Z, everything is legal, even when specifically prohibited

When I first heard it, the countries were England, Germany, the Soviet Union, and Italy, but I have heard many variations since.

Sonjourn MUD was country X, though I am sure some would argue that it could be country Y if you were dealing with certain individuals who ran the institution.  So coloring outside of the lines was verboten, and the lines were described by a huge number of help files covering individual aspects of the game.  Many a petition was responded to with a direction along the lines of “go read “help obscure-text-string-zeta.”

In that environment you could pretty much guess that if you felt you were “getting away” with something, you were doing something that was not allowed.

So when the other player started laying out his plan, I knew we were crossing a line.  I didn’t know which line, I just knew it was out there somewhere.

This player had discovered that bronze armplates could be purchased at the The Cityguards Armory in Waterdeep for a couple gold and sold to another vendor for almost double the price.  Bronze armplates were an item of infinite supply at the armory.  All you had to do was bring them to the other vendor and there was a fortune to be had.

There were just two problems.

First, the armplates were heavy.  They were bronze after all.  You could only load up so many of them before you grew so heavy you couldn’t move.  Ah, remember having to account for weight in a game?  So you were limited by how many you could carry, unless you had a portable hole or some such.

Second, the vendor was out in the boonies.  You had to walk through Waterdeep, out along the eastern road, past the turning point, through the forest, past the huge buffalo, up by Lake Skeldrach, through a swamp to the Salt Road, then along to one end of the road where the vendor made his home.

The vendor was the same one that sold the elven eyeglasses.  Maybe two people who will ever read this will go, “Oh, that guy!”  Maybe.

There was actually a third problem, which I have mentioned, which involved getting caught.  There were three levels of punishment at the time.

  1. A warning, which was considered optional at times due to the fact that what you were doing no doubt violated something written in some help file somewhere
  2. Reduction to half your current level and/or removal of all your gear and cash (and don’t think you can hide it on alts)
  3. Deletion of your character or characters

Early application of the three strikes law.

So this other player approached me because he was looking for some way around the first two problems.  My character was a druid, probably around level 30 or so, and had the spell summon.  I happened to be in town when he was looking, so he chose me.

His plan was for me to run off to the vendor and then summon him all the way from the armory once he had filled up on bronze armplates.  He would then cut me in on the profit.

I don’t think I had ever used the spell summon up to that point in the game, so there was much to learn.  For starters, the spell did not work all the time.  Some times it failed and you summoned something bad that would attack you, a shade if I recall right.  And at level 30 that summoned shade was big enough to be a problem, big enough to kill you if you hung around.  And it didn’t despawn.  It sat there waiting for you to walk by again if you fled the room.

But more immediate to our cause was the fact that the spell only worked within a single zone.

Now EverQuest drilled the concept of zones into our collective brains back in 1999 by making it painful to pass from one zone to another.  In hindsight, one wonders how they got away with it.  After all, if you came from MUDs, you were used to the whole seamless world idea where zone lines were not obvious.

It quickly became apparent that my partner could not load himself up to max capacity and wait to be summoned to his destination.  He was going to have to be able to take a few steps just to cross over zone lines.  If we could figure out where they were.

The only key to telling if we were in the same zone or if I had crossed into the next was to shout.  Shouting was confined to a single zone.  So we started moving across the land playing a loud and long distance game of “Marco Polo.”  I’d shout, he’d shout.  If I shouted and he did not, I was in a different zone.  I’d move back and should again.  When he could hear me again, I would summon.

This did not work out well.

With summoned shades and random world monsters attacking us all along the way combined with the oddities of zone lines, it became obvious that this was not going to be a smooth operation.  We had to move to plan B.

As a druid I also had a set of vigorize spells that would restore movement points.

Movement points… yeah… back in the MUD days, movement points were used to restrict you from spamming movement commands and running across the world in no time at all.  You were allocated movement points based on your race and, oddly enough, the age of your character. (Older characters got more points, though I never figured out why.)  They were spent each time you entered a new room based on a formula that took into account the terrain, how much weight you were carrying, and any beneficial magic that might apply to you (fly spells or equipment that granted flying effects, for example).

Your average character had somewhere between 100 and 120 movement points.  On a road when lightly burdened, you spent a single movement point or less per room.  Heavily burdened, that might go up to 10 on road and could easily be 20 or 30 moving over rooms considered rough terrain.

Moving the armplates from vendor to vendor required moving through about 100 rooms, many of which were roads, but there were sections of rough terrain.  And even on roads, hauling as many bronze armplates as you could carry would wear down your movement in no time at all.

The next plan was for my druid to memorize as many vigorize spells as he could and then my partner and I would load up, move out, vigorize, mem up again, and repeat.

This worked out a little bit better.  We were able to make the trip in about 30-40 minutes and came out with about a third of a plat coin in profit each time.

That does not seem like a lot.  But at the time, not many months after a pwipe, it was actually good money.  Decent equipment upgrades could be had for 5 plat, excellent items were 20-ish, and only the very rare and exotic went beyond 100 plat.

So I made a regular effort to haul a few loads a day whenever I could.  Other people were let in on the secret over time, or figured it out for themselves.  There was a regular parade of people moving up the salt road some nights.

And, as I understood it, some people found more lucrative items to move between vendors.

Well, the gods could hardly fail to notice all this activity.  But enough people were doing it that they could not swoop down and start punishing people without going after a large percentage of the population.  So things were quiet for a while as we hauled our goods.

Then one day there was a reboot and an update.  Code changes were a daily occurrence.  But this time there was a note about normalizing the amount vendors would pay for items.

The meaning of this innocuous phrase became clear when people started hauling their post-boot loads.  Arriving at the end of the salt road, we all found that the vendor there was now purchasing our goods for much less than we paid for them.

The boom was over, the loophole had been closed.

But we had gotten away with it.  Nobody had been banned.  At least nobody I knew had been.

And the coins that I made from this little exploit staked me for gear upgrades that made it possible for me to actually earn cash more readily.  It was the seed of my fortune, and like most such seeds, it came from a dubious source.

Three Years We Grew in Virtual Sun and Shower

I hope I am not foreshadowing with that reference in the title.  The number three seems to be under represented it literary titles once you begin to exclude things like  “Now We Are Three.”  And even Bill Wordsworth can use a link now and again.

It has been three years since I set out to start a record of my gaming hobby, both past and present.  I think, for the most part, I have succeed in my modest goal.  I haven’t written as much about ancient gaming as I would have liked, but I have gotten a few of the tales I planned on written.  And I have kept up with the current goings on, including the occasional news item or press release to serve as a sign post on the road that is this virtual gaming journey.

And, as I did at the end of the first and second years, I will take a few minutes to see where I have ended up.

Basics Statistics

What has happened here and how has it changed from a year ago?

Page Views by Month - Growth Has Slowed

Page Views by Month – Growth Has Slowed

  • Days since launch: 1096 (+365)
  • Posts total: 1,257 (+360)
  • Average posts per day: 1.15 (-0.08)
  • Comments: 7,281 (+3,239)
  • Average comments per post: 5.8 (+1.3)
  • Average comments per day: 6.6  (+1.1)
  • Spam comments: 114,282 (+28,662)
  • Average spam comments per day: 104.27 (-13)
  • Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 16 (-5)

So over the last year I wrote a few less posts per day, people commented more, and spammers spammed just a bit less.  All probably good things!


Or who sends traffic to The Ancient Gaming Noob.

All time

Over the last year


And then there are the sites to which I send traffic.  There is some overlap between inbound and outbound that shows that I share a readership with some of these sites.

Of course, the site I send the most traffic to is Nick Yee’s guild name generator, thanks to an accident of Google.

But that site aside, we have:

All time

Over the last year

Most Viewed Posts

The most viewed posts over the history of the blog are:

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  3. Shaymin Event at Toys R Us
  4. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  5. What Is A “Tank” In EVE?
  6. Rotom Secret Key Event
  7. Is There Hope for a Science Fiction MMORPG?
  8. Five LEGO Video Game Titles I Want
  9. 2008 MMORPG Progdictionations
  10. LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga

A few expected items on that list, but enough that aren’t just accidents of Google to make me happy.

Items Aged 20 Years or More

Writing about my older gaming experiences has been a challenge, mostly due to the failings of memory.  Still, I can sometimes dig out enough information via various sources to put together something credible to help me recall the past.  So I have a few posts in that area:

Inspirational Blogs

And then there are blogs out there that I should probably link to more often or comment on more frequently because I read them regularly.

Measuring Success

I said at the top that I think I have succeeded in my goal so far, but how does one measure success with such a nebulous goal?

I think the fact that I post regularly is such a measure.

But more than that, the fact that I like to go back and look at what I have written.  If I am sitting around I will often just click the Random Post button just to see what comes up.

Or, alternatively, I will look through some of the tag listings, like those for Toril MUD or the Instance Group to see where I’ve been.

And What Now?

Well, just a big thanks for stopping by, reading my stuff and commenting on occasion.

I don’t have any plans to change what I write about or how I do it.  Real life may interfere from time to time of course and once in a while I realize that I spend more time writing about games than playing them, but that to shall pass.

Going Through a Phase

Phasing, the changing of the world as you progress through the story of Northrend, is one of the innovations that Blizzard introduced to the game with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.

And, as a method of investing people in the tale of the expansion, it has been a success.

It is certainly an answer to the long time complaint about MMORPGs, that you can do all the quests you’re given and the world remains the same.

In Northrend the world changes based on your actions.  Some of my favorites:

The Argent Vanguard fortress is under siege when you first arrive.  You help the Argent Crusade to throw back the scourge and the area phases and the fortress is no longer surrounded by hostile foes.  Your assistance has tangible results in the world.

You help the Crusade assault and hold Crusader’s Pinnacle and, if you defeat the scourge counter attack, the location goes through a phase change when next you visit.  A tower has been built, more quests have opened up, and a flight point has become available.

The scaffolding is still up on the tower

The scaffolding is still up on the tower

You assist the Knights of the Ebon Blade in their attempt to retake the Shadow Vault and turn the minions there to assist the Knights.  Again, with success comes a new quest hub, an inn, a flight point, and a set of daily quests.

And all of this is great.  It works well when you are running through the quest lines by yourself.

But if you have a regular group, and that group does not keep rigidly aligned in quests, there can be issues.

Being out of sync has lead to conversations I haven’t heard since the early days of EverQuest II when multiple instances of the same zone used to be common.

When you are in a group that is out of sync, you can see the group member markers on your mini map, but you cannot see anybody who is not in your phase of the area.  So your whole group can be standing next to Highlord Tirion Fordring, but if you aren’t all in the same phase, you can spend a lot of time insisting that you’re RIGHT THERE and yet not be able to see your friends.

So you have to wait for your out-of-sync friends to catch up.  But you cannot help them because you are not in the same phase.  You can, however, leech experience from their kills if you hover over their dot on the mini map while they run the quests.

With our group and it’s range of play time budgets, this has ended up being an issue on a number of occasions.

Now I’m not saying phasing is bad.  I still think it is very cool.  And it is a discreet phenomenon.  You are not in a different phase of the entire zone, just a small area of it, though the localized nature of it can lead to moments of confusion.  The other night four of us flew through an arch in Icecrown, but I could only see three of us on the other side.  Earl had done the quest in the phasing quest in the area so he flew into a different version location.

But it would be nice if there were a way to resolve the out of sync group issue besides waiting for those behind to catch up.

I don’t know what the answer is.  It certainly is not the biggest issue facing the world, but it is one which our group seems to be running into with some regularity of late.

And given that phasing is supposed to be a huge part of the upcoming Cataclysm expansion, I hope Blizzard has some ideas on the subject.

Called Out in the Trial of the Champion

Saturday night on Labor Day weekend found us again short a gnome as Bung ran off to the wilds of Northern Sierra-Nevada mountains, where we hope he was safe from fire.  So the group was:

80 Priest – Skronk
80 Mage – Ula
80 Warrior – Earlthecat
80 Paladin – Vikund

We decided that the Oculus was probably off the agenda.

Instead we thought we might scout out the Trial of the Champion.

The Trial is a five person instance up at the Argent Tournament that involves a combination of jousting that makes up the tournament and old fashioned “kill the boss” fighting.

The first thing we had to do for this was to get Ula up to speed on the Argent Tournament.

Earl, Skronk, and Vikund had all, to different degrees, explored the tournament and figured out the whole mounted combat paradigm Blizzard has set out.

Ula, however, had not touched the tournament up to that point.  So we got her out there on the training horse and helped her through the first starter quest to give her a feel for things.

Gnome Mounted

Gnome Mounted

After our very quick intro course, we headed into the instance to give it a try.

Mounting up in the instance

Mounting up in the instance

The instance actually provides mounts.  There is an ample supply of mounts around the arena.  Earl was the first to note that there was no “heal” feedbag button on our instance mounts.  If you get dismounted, or if your mount is low on health, you can grab a fresh mount.

Mounted up, we spoke to the guy in the center of the ring to set off the event.

This takes a while as three sets of horde riders, one boss and three minions have to parade into the ring.  Eventually they settle down the combat begins.

The minions were manageable.  They came at us in groups of three and we took them down readily enough.

Then it was the three bosses, and things got interesting.

We held our own for the most part, though things were rather chaotic.

Skronk got dismounted and killed, but found that he could just run back to the instance from the graveyard, mount back up, and rejoin the combat.  That seemed almost unfair, until we brought down the first boss.

The big orc was face down on the floor and we all went after the other two.  Then we noticed he was upright again and walking towards the edge of the ring.  He walked right to another mount, got on, and rejoined the battle.

Turnabout is fair play I guess.

That confused us for a bit, but eventually we delegated somebody to pound on the dismounted riders every time the stood up to keep them from coming at us again.  Doing that allowed the four of use to finally bring down all three mounted bosses.

At which point the instance turns into a more traditional battle.  Our mounts disappeared and the bosses all stood up and clobbered us.  We were there swapping our lances out for our regular weapons and trying to figure out who to go after while the bosses were making chutney out of us.

We were all dead in short order.

Fortunately, you do not have to replay the whole start of the instance.  Once you are done with the mounted combat, you can focus on your regularly scheduled character class.

Eyeing our dismounted foes

Eying our dismounted foes

So we were able to go back in, organize ourselves, get everything lined up, and get ourselves slaughtered again.

For the four of us, these through bosses were quite a challenge.  After a few tries we decided that victory was not going to be ours without our warlock.

We ended up just running some more quests in Icecrown, getting ourselves lined up to knock off a pile of group quests.  We did not, however, make it to those quests.  Like the Oculus, they will have to wait for another Saturday night.

Mirkwood Guilt

Turbine has announced the next expansion for Lord of the Rings Online, the Siege of Mirkwood.

Siege of Mirkwood
Being something of a partisan of the game, I ought to be happy to see a new installment coming out for the game.

And yet I feel a little guilty that this expansion is coming along this fall.

You see, I set myself four gaming goals this year.  I was going to do a post about them back in January, but I never got around to it.

None the less, I have had them in my mind and have tried to achieve them.  My goals were:

  • Hit 80 in World of Warcraft
  • Buy a freighter in EVE Online and make back the money I spent on it
  • Play no SOE games
  • See Moria in Lord of the Rings Online

The first was easy enough.  The instance group may have taken its time getting to 80, but we’re all there.

The second I managed and I have made back the money spent a couple times over now.

The third is tough to explain, which is part of the reason why my goals never made it to a post.  Too much EverQuest nostalgia I think.  Anyway, SOE games suddenly became unpalatable so I am taking a year off from them.  And I have stuck to that one despite the fact that Gaff was hit with the Norrath bug a few weeks back.

And then there is Moria.

I am nowhere close to seeing any of Moria.  I have level 30 characters on two servers, but the furthest I have been is Rivendell.  And that was back in February.

And now there is more Middle-earth coming out this fall.

I like the game.

I enjoy the game when I play.

And of course I am in love with the lore and the mere idea of walking free in Middle-earth.

But more than one fantasy MMO at a time seems to be beyond my capabilities right now.

So now that Mirkwood has been announce, I will probably go patch the game and take a peek.  Maybe even get a level.  But I doubt that Moria is in the cards this year.

Infocom Memories

Jason Scott posted a set of scanned Infocom ads from the 1980 on his blog, ASCII, today.

It Is What It Eats

Those of us old enough will probably remember at least a few of the ads he has posted.

Those not old enough might not know who Infocom was.

Infocom, if you didn’t bother to go to the link up in the first sentence, made a series of text-only adventure games in the 1980s starting with Zork, a game I purchased in the college bookstore for my Apple II in… the early 80s.

The games were a bit of an acquired taste.  You either liked them or you didn’t, but they were popular enough both by virtue of their cleverness and the fact that their simplicity allowed the games to be ported to a wide variety of operating environments.  Look at the list of supported computers in the lower right of that ad.  This was what we faced in the early 80s, back when Microsoft was mostly known for its BASIC compiler and its Flight Simulator.

I owned a pile of Infocom games over that decade, though the one I enjoyed the most was Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Getting the Babel Fish was an event at least as memorable to me as killing Archaedas in Uldaman was.

So a big “Thank You!” goes out to Jason Scott for his ongoing effort to find and archieve things like these ads.