I wrote about my current Rift goal last week, my desire to get one character of each of the class archetypes, warrior, rogue, cleric, and mage, to the level cap. Already there with a rogue and a warrior, and well on the way with my cleric, that left only a mage to level up.
And my mage, Solyndro, was only level 8.
If this had been EverQuest of 1999 I might have despaired and passed on this goal. Even WoW of 2005 or so would have made grinding another character to level cap a chore.
But this is 2012, and we don’t hold with that tough grind to level cap any more. So Solyndro is already level 38 as of last night. He only has 12 more levels to climb and 60 days in which to make the goal. Not tough at all.
It became obvious pretty quickly, as I burst out of Freemarch after only a couple evenings, that running the 7 round Instant Adventure quest every night plus doing a bit of questing was going to make the level cap goal very attainable. So I decided to add an additional side goal.
I decided I was going to play the hell out of certain zones, run down their full quest chains, explore all of their nooks and crannies, and leave only when I felt I was well and truly done. Even if I started to level out of the content, I would use the mentoring system to level myself down and keep on playing.
And the first zone on the list was Stonefield.
Stonefield had the obvious advantage in that it stands as the next zone on the list of progression, so I could start right away. Also, Instant Adventures run in Stonefield, so I could run that daily task in the zone as well. And Stonefield is a zone that I haven’t really “finished” in the past.
Though I might say that about most zones in Rift.
The rate at which you level, if you are moving at a casual pace and building up a bit of rested experience between sessions, is such that you are usually ready for the next zone when you are somewhere between the half way and three quarter point in the quest chain.
Even before Instant Adventure came along, I think the only zone I felt I had really finished, aside from the intro zone, where you do not have much choice, is Freemarch. In Freemarch I ran back around to root out the final quests to finish up. And after Instant Adventure… well, you can go pretty far without too many zones.
So I did it. I ran the Stonefield quest line from start to finish, even running down the end quests that lead you on to Scarlet Gorge.
And when I was done, did I “feel” done?
The gold standard for this sort of connected zone is the old Westfall, where you followed a story that started with Old Blanchy and lead you through the zone to the natural conclusions, the Deadmines. You did the zone, got to the end, then found a group to do the instance. When you turned in the quest that sent you to the zone, the Gryan Stonemantle announced your accomplishment in a zone-wide shout. That was one of the great early points in the game, getting that shout.
Stonefield does not feel that well connected. The story line gets broken up and the instance, Deepstrike Mines, which our group did back in March, comes along about two thirds of the way into the zone. Once you hit Granite Falls, you have the quests to go do it and in past runs that is about where I have stopped. And the instance, which is about fighting the Endless Court diverges from the Eth/Titans lore of the main zone.
On the flip side, you can get too tied into story. Recall the post-Cataclysm version on the Redridge Mountains, a zone so dedicated to keeping you with the story that other players become an annoyance. Of course, pop culture references ran amok in Redridge as well.
Ah well. But I did get achievements. And thanks to my enabling the social media aspect of Rift (though I gave the feature its own Twitter feed so it doesn’t spam the few followers on my main feed), the game automatically takes a screen shot every time I get an achievement. This got me in the habit of trying to “pose” or at least face towards in an interesting direction when they hit.
That, in turn, ended up being kind of a nice little montage of my time in Stonefield. Fifteen achievements all in a row. I actually ended up getting all of the achievements that you can just “do,” aside from the one about killing giants. The remaining ones involve rare spawns and completing collection quests. I so rarely complete collection quests that I will probably never get that zone meta achievement, the achievement for getting all the achievements.
The only hitch was getting the achievement for doing quests, Playing the Field in Stonefield. I was stuck at 86 out of 87 for a while until I looked up the quest list and found one I missed. There is a quest giver on the rocks above the entrance to Deepstrike Mine. That actually opens up a couple more quests.
And then I did the Titan’s Well dive, slew the beast that resides therein, and it dropped another quest starter. So there are enough quests to do the achievement.
But that is for later. For now, here is my Stonefield adventure, in achievement screen shot form.