Flush from the progress made during the Sunday afternoon bandit camping expedition in West Karana, I sought to repeat that success again on Monday night. Late in the evening I got onto the server and into WK and began looking for a group.
And, as luck would have it, I managed to find a group forming up to camp bandits in pretty short order.
However, this did not turn out to be quite the same as the previous day’s group. While the Sunday group never really got in over its head, to use a water metaphor, it regularly waded in up to its neck and on occasion the water was up to our collective lower lip. It was never enough to drown, but we could feel that a stumble or a wrong step would send us under water.
Monday night’s group, to continue with the metaphor, jumped into the deep end before figuring out if it could swim or not and tried to work from there.
Our first fight started while I was still trying to cast Spirit of the Wolf on group members, not all of whom had shown up. We were up on the edge of the same bandit camp I had been at the previous day and our leader and puller decided to grab the brigand who spawns at the top of the peak, and who is one tough cookie. It was just him, a ranger, myself, a level 9 shaman, a level 9 Shadow Knight, and a level 8 wizard on hand.
Well, the brigand started really putting the beat down on our ranger tank. I was standing back, meditating for mana, then standing up to cast a heal, then sitting back down again for mana. What we would call in TorilMUD, “memming out.”
We had just about put the lid on the brigand when the bandit camp itself began to repop and we learned for the first of many times that evening, just how big the assist radius is for bandits.
(As a side note, if you look closely, you can just see a weapon on the ground at the feet of the bandits. Our ranger managed a disarm. In how many current MMOs does a disarm move end up with the weapon actually on the ground so you can pick it up yourself?)
The brigand was down, I and the wizard were out of mana, and three fresh bandits were now on the SK and the ranger. The SK got aggro and got beat into the ground while I was still short of mana. At this point our leader decided, rightfully, that it was time to bug out. He called “run” on the group channel and off we went.
At just about that moment, the druid in our group showed up, dropped a heal on the ranger, got all the aggro and covered our retreat by dying very quickly. This probably saved the wizard, since I had not gotten a chance to put SoW on him. He got just enough of a head start to stay alive.
Our leader called “Train to QH!” on OOC as we headed down the mountain and across the plain. I got far enough ahead to stop and meditate again, which I needed to do because my own SoW had just faded. Somebody pulled one of the bandits off of us as we ran past and we ended up making a stand by the second guard tower and killing off the two remaining bandits.
We headed back up the mountain and waited for the two victims of our first battle to return. We also started recruiting to fill that extra spot.
On the way back up, a system-wide message of note came up announcing the downing of Lady Vox, a victory worthy of mention.
Plus, if you were on when it happened, you’ll know when I was running around WK.
However, we didn’t really wait long. Some more bandits popped before I had recovered full mana and long before I had been able to drop buffs on our leader. Fortunately I had gotten SoW up on the group, as the three of us faced off against three more bandits in what became very much a Three Stooges sort of affair. Trying to keep our ranger tank healed, I managed to grab all the aggro and ended up running in a big circle while he tried to peel one off of me to slay.
This fight went on long enough for the SK to get back and join us, which was a good thing since two more bandits popped. Somehow I managed to get off the top spot on the aggro list after a while and was able to sit down and recover some mana. Then the druid showed up again, saved the day with a big heal, then paid for it with his life. Again.
After that we entered a period of intermittent chaos punctuated by attempts to recruit some people to fill out our group.
Eventually, with a full group which included an enchanter, we hit a period of semi-controlled mayhem. Things were not chaotic for lack of trying however.
We were between two groups of bandits and, inevitably, pulled group A, who were positioned down the hill, up to our little camp that was right next to group B, which would inevitably spawn during the fight and immediately assist their comrades.
We broke the mesmerize spell that the enchanter was casting by repeatedly attacking the wrong mob.
And the tanks had an annoying tendency to run away from mobs in a circle that lead them right over the casters who were sitting on the edge of the engagement trying to recover mana. Skronk showed up during one of those fights, just as the SK called it a night. He was in time to join in and die, standing up to red mobs while the casters were all out of mana.
Eventually, with this full group, we got our act together and had a few good fights. Our leader decided that casters with full mana was a good thing. We all remembered how to select the main tank and /assist so as to attack his target and not one of the mesmerized bandits. Efficiency went up, chaos went down, and no deaths occurred for a while.
Then the enchanter called it a night.
Our leader pulled the far camp to us just as the near camp respawned, something I predicted in group chat seconds before it happened, the wheels came off, chaos reigned, and we were all sent back to our respective bind points.
In original, 1999 EverQuest this would have been a complete failure of a night. Naked corpse runs, huge amounts of experience lost, probably a net negative overall for anybody who died twice, which was most everybody.
But this was not 1999 EverQuest.
When we died, we showed up at our bind points with all of our equipment on us and not still sitting on our corpses on a hill in West Karana. Experience loss per death seemed to be about 1% of your current level. In a little over an hour of chaos I managed to make more that 80% of my way to level 10, while Skronk, who wasn’t there for very long and who died twice, reported a significant boost to his own experience.
Nobody was angry, at least not overtly. Everybody seemed to benefit overall. This sort of thing would have caused a lot of drama and recriminations back in 1999. Heck, a WoW instance group that went this way would have lead to some rage group quits/votes to kick a few minutes into it. But with the way the game stands now on Fippy Darkpaw, it wasn’t so bad. We are a different set of players.
And I feel a bit conflicted about the lowering of the penalties for dying, but only a little.
The heavy penalties for mistakes in the past tended to enforce a learning process. You stopped screwing up or you stopped getting groups. It was very Darwinian at times and people remembered those who screwed up regularly. Not having that weight over people’s heads removes one aspect of the original game.
On the flip side though, I’m not sure the nostalgia tour audience would be happy to deal with the harsh penalties of the past. We are not the 1999 audience any more than this is the 1999 game. There has already been much wailing and gnashing of teeth over the experience curve. Going back to the Darwinian feel of the original game might be too much.
After all, we are back in the game to get a feel for what once was, to relive the good times. And while some of the struggle is a good thing, like an experience curve that makes us work hard and feel that every level is an accomplishment, or a need to group up to really get ahead that ends up making us feel like we are really part of a bigger community of like minded player, perhaps dispensing with some of the things that generate bad feelings, that made us feel that we had wasted an evening’s… or a week’s… worth of effort, is a good thing.
And even at this very reduced level of penalty, a percent or two of experience lost and having to run all the way from your bind point in the nearest (if you’re lucky) city, it is still more harsh than anything WoW has ever had. (Okay, you have to pay for damage to armor in WoW, but otherwise things are much more convenient and you never lose even a single experience point.)
They’re talking about having a vote on implementing harsher penalties for dying. Should death sting more on the progression servers? Would that serve any purpose?
What do you think?