Scouting Antonica Dungeons

The plan for the night was to head to Antonica, a zone which is about as old school as one can get in EverQuest II, being part of the original Shattered Lands, as they are now called, back in 2004.

The group was supposed to be at or around level 20 by this point, and while that would put us at the upper limit of most of the overland content in the zone, there are a couple dungeons in the area that cater to higher levels and groups.  We went to look into Blackburrow and Stormhold.

Unfortunately, the regular group did not come together.  Earl had a house full of guests and thus social obligations to which to attend.  Trucknut was also absent.  And Cerredwyn still had to catch up in the Frostfang Sea and wanted to just take that at her own pace… and own time, as she called it a night not long after 9pm.

Even I showed up late, having gotten wrapped up watching Sherlock on Netflix streaming. (It is good, and streams in HD so looks spectacular on our new TV.  But damn, there are only three episodes.  We’ll have to wait until they finish filming more!)

That left myself, Potshot, and Gaff… Gaff of the many names.  Gaff of the many alts.  Gaff of the multi-box.  Gaff the status patron of the guild.

We decided to carry on with the Antonica plan and at least scout out a couple of locations.  I was already out there with Campell, my level 20 troubadour.

Flying Above Antonica

Potshot got out his alt, Deneldir, a level 24 warden.

And Gaff brought out Sixo and Chuggs, a level 81 berserker and mystic respectively, to round out the group.  We met up near Blackburrow.

2 Men, a Frog, and a Rat

We had initially considered the Qeynos armor quests as a possibility, and we actually all went and grabbed our respective versions, but decided once we were on the scene to just plunge into Blackburrow.

Thanks to the miracle of mentoring, we managed to get the group all to the same level.  Everybody mentored Campell so we had an all level 20 group.

Granted, mentoring is imperfect.  Sixo and Chuggs were more powerful and had skills (not to mention all the alternate advancement improvements) beyond that of any real level 20 character.  But for purposes of mob levels and such, they were scaled down to Antonica size.

We dropped into Blackburrow, but found that even at level 20 most of the surface level of the place was gray to us.

As we delved down a bit, eventually we ran into some green con mobs, and down at the bottom, the spider brood was blue to us.

Spiders Deep in Blackburrow

The named spider was up and we slew her, but there wasn’t really a lot for us to accomplish in Blackburrow.  We hadn’t picked up any quests to help guide our path, so once you kill the boss at the lowest level of a dungeon, everything else is anti-climactic.  We went out the back door of the dungeon and decided to try something else.

We headed over to Stormhold.

Here we had an advantage.  I had previously gone out with Campell to pick up as many Stormhold related quests as I could find.  I was able to share these with the group so that, along with the quests available at the start of the zone, we had a decent set of objectives on which to focus.

Then I had a thought.  If I ran out with Campell and knocked off these quests, I wouldn’t be able to share them with the group as a whole when we showed up at a later date.  At least I don’t think I could have.  In one of these games you can share not only quests you are working on currently but also pre-requisites and finished quests.  But I cannot remember which one and I didn’t want to take any chances, so I made the group wait while I logged out Campell and logged in my level 20 swashbuckler, Sedgewick.

They shared the quests Campell collected with him and we were ready to plunge into Stormhold.

Just inside Stormhold

Certainly things were not a huge challenge when we got into the place.  Almost everything was a few levels below us and our group of four chewed through any number of fights with multiple adds without issue.

Lower Level Mobs in Stormhold

Later we ran into some more challenging opponents.

The Scion of Pain is not a Toyota... maybe

But that came further down the line.

First we had to visit some of the early landmarks, like the chess board.

Chess is always BIG in Norrath

We swept around the first floor, visiting locations required by a couple of the quests and knocking off the requisite mobs.  Nothing too strenuous.

Down on the second floor, things got a little more challenging.  We made a point of seeking out named mobs, but some of them sought us out.

The four scions of Stormhold, which used to be pops that required a quest trigger to spawn back in the day, seemed to be out in force.  And they appear to have a pretty vast aggro radii, as all we had to do is get line of sight on one of these beasties and they would come get us.

They used to be quite challenging, epic, multi-group encounters.  Now they appear to be more analogous the automotive world Scions, nothing more that reskinned Toyotas… erm… normal named bosses.

So while the fights with them were always a surprise, we did not appear to be in much real danger when we got engaged.

We're looking pretty healthy

And a couple of the scions obligingly dropped master chests for us.

It's just a chest... just a chest... the chest you want

There were no master skills dropped for anybody in the current group, though there was one berserker master skill I set aside for Earl. (Have to check if he can use that if he upgrades to silver.)

Things were going smoothly, both because we seemed to be quite powerful for our levels (I mentioned the flaws of mentoring) but also because we took care to do things right when we could, avoiding adds and pulling carefully.

For one quest we had to head down into the Stormhold chapel, a pretty thickly populated area, and a place where most of the encounters (all heroic level, as they are everywhere in the zone) we a couple of levels above us. (Sedgewick leveled up pretty quickly, even with his slider set to maximize AA gains, and ended the night close to 24, but the average mob level in the zone has a pretty steep gradient as well, going from 16 to 27.)

While we were there, carefully pulling mobs, another group, a pair a level below us, showed up behind us.  They obviously wanted to get to the far end of the chapel for the quest update as well.

One of them, a templar if I recall right, seemed to be in a hurry.  As we surveyed the room, deciding which of the nearly dozen encounters between us and the altar we wanted to pull, he ran past us and straight for the altar.

Everything, naturally, jumped right on him and he died about half way to his objective.  I’m not sure what he had in mind, but even his partner declared his attempt as a fail.

We cleared the room in our own good time and ress’d the dead guy.

Going to the chapel and we're gonna get ress'd

He had also run past us earlier on in the dungeon in an attempt to get at a named mob we were clearing our ways towards.  He died there as well, though we declined to ress him that time around.

Proponents of open dungeons like this always mention the joy of chance encounters, but tend to overlook how much general stupidity goes on.  For every fateful meeting there are a few dozen cases of trains, people camping the mob you need, and general bad behavior.

Then again, the guy we ress’d will probably tell the tale about how he got in trouble and some strangers helped him.  Open dungeons worked!

I’d probably file that under “you’re doing it wrong.”

We also had to visit the library naturally, a source of both quests and quests updates… and brutal combat.

SHHHHHHH!!

My grandmother the librarian would have been appalled.

It was also a point of nostalgia as Gaff and I got to recall yet another “how things used to be” for Potshot on Skype, even though he was no doubt full to the brim with these anecdotes by this stage of the evening.

Ah yes, you used to have to come down here to get the book for the Lore and Legends quest for skeletons.  Oh, how crazy things were back in the day.

Our last quest goal for this round was down on the third level of Stormhold, in the armory.

Guardians on the stairs down

That was a quick jaunt, and we began our way back out again.  We stopped to knock off the final few scorched skeletons we needed for our final quest.  Not enough scorched skeletons spawn at any given time to finish that quest without waiting for a respawn.  Same as it ever was.

Then there were quest turn-ins all over and new quests to pick up, but by that point it was time to call it a night.

The scouting was a general success and we will likely hit Stormhold when we next get the full group together in EQ2.

6 thoughts on “Scouting Antonica Dungeons

  1. pkudude99

    Scions do seem to have a LOS aggro range anymore, but they also tend to drop masters, so I call it a good thing.

    Funny about the guy trying to vault past you and dying.

    And you can share completed quests. Just go to your “completed” tab in the quest journal and select the quest there. The share button’s still there.

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  2. bhagpuss

    Blackburrow is always a surprise in how low level it is. All the same, nothing in any MMO beats the sheer entertainment value of killing gnolls.

    For all my deep affection for EQ2, the thing I always liked least about it is the combat. Compared to EQ1 (or even DAOC) it always was monotone and simplistic. Even back in early 2005, just after launch, a full group would cut through red cons in Stormhold or Runs of Varsoon more easily than a group could handle dark blues in EQ1.

    That always was one of the aspects of the game that put me off grouping. Everything in a group was easy to the point of tedium. And that was before mentoring!

    I think Fallen Gate and Ruins of Varsoon are much superior dungeons to Stormhold, and FG is both doable and potentially challenging in the low 20s. Better than all of those, however, is Crushbone.

    Great read, though. I very much look forward to your future adventures and if we’re back in EQ2 anytime soon perhaps we’ll run into you. That would be fun.

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  3. Shadow

    I always loved Stormhold. Probably some sort of forced emotion I generated to justify the unreasonable number of hours I spent in there with exp turned off trying to get the quest starter for the Ghoulbane heritage on my Paladin…

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  4. Snick

    Bhaggy has it right with Fallen Gate – that is a GREAT zone to raid – some really interesting mobs, and not the easiest, especially once you get down into the bowels. The only catch might be doing some of the quests for Good characters since most of the neat ones originate in Freeport. But there are some you can pick up just outside the zone and just inside.

    My only gripe about Fallen Gate is utter disregard for continuity. It was/is supposed to be the original Foreign Quarter, the entry zone of old EQ1’s Neriak. But waitaminute, 4 years later they release the newly rediscovered Neriak in a completely different area! And it’s a pretty close revamp to the original Neriak.

    There was probably Lore to back that up, but seriously, WTF Sony.

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  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Snick – I think in a previous comment thread here I expressed what you mentioned, which is the worry that they key quests come from Freeport and you can no longer just wander about that place as a Qeynosian without getting killed. (Remember when they used to just dump us on the front porch like Fred Flintstone putting out the cat?)

    Fall Gate is neat. I’ve been there before in past runs at EQ2. It used to be the place you had to go for Zombie Lore & Legend. I remember that damn urn you had to click on was way, way in the back of the place.

    I suppose I worry that if, as a group, we do not have enough direction, people might get bored. A few years of WoW, where most instances have an ultimate goal built-in (kill the main boss, you win!) means that these open dungeons that are more like underground zones requires a change of focus.

    It is my hope that piling on some quests that take us through each of these places will help with that, though I personally would just run in and pull groups just to explore, pick up sparklies, and get some experience.

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