I carried on for a bit in the Plane of Magic in EverQuest II. I made it through the faction quest line I was working on and dug into the signature quest line for the zone, making it into the Coliseum of Valor.
I managed to make it to level 108 as part of that.
I even managed to collect enough status along the way to boost the guild up a level.
It has been a few years since that happened. I think we got to level 40 back in 2010 during my attempt to bring the instance group to the game.
After that it was into the Plane of Innovation where things… really slowed down. Not the drip of experience, which was already almost non-existent for mobs, but the pace at which I could slay them. I was able to slay them, despite being level 100 heroic groups.
With a mercenary along to keep me healed and my gear level I was in no danger of dying. But it was taking a long time to kill encounters. Heroic groups were running past 5 minutes per fight and that Ancient Clockwork Prototype was a 25 minute bout. That is a long time to be mashing buttons… and in EQII you have a ton of buttons to mash. I have four hot key bars up in my UI, three to keep essential combat related skills and another for utility items I use often, and I know I am missing a bunch of skill. I am just glad that when you die the game retains all of the “until cancelled” buffs you cast on yourself. I’d need another hot bar for that list.
Anyway, with fights starting to run that long I began to think that perhaps my DPS was not up to snuff. As I said, my defenses seem to be fine, so it was time to look into things to make me hit harder.
First up was skill upgrades. I think I have mentioned before the complexity of EQII skills. When you gain a skill, or a skill upgrade, it comes in at apprentice level. You can upgrade that to journeyman level via trade skills, adept via random skill drops, expert from trade skills using rare components, master from rare chest drops, grandmaster via an every 10 levels, pick one skill, alternate advancement mechanism, and ancient via rare raid drops. There is a whole thing on the wiki about this.
You can also train them up via a time learning mechanism akin to EVE Online skill training, which at level 100+ takes about 16 to 20 days to go from apprentice to journeyman. But if you want to spend money you can buy Station Cash and level those up instantly.
I opted to wait given the current price of Daybreak Cash.
With my subscription discount and buying Daybreak Cash at its cheapest per unit price, that instance upgrade to just journeyman would run about $78. And, while I would take a journeyman upgrade, I really wanted something a bit better.
That is because, as you might expect, every step up the upgrade ladder makes a skill noticeably better. You can even get in situations where a level VI version of a skill at grandmaster is much better than the level VII version at apprentice. The game tries to work around that by doing a compare when you earn a new skill and leaving the old one on your hot bar if it is better. But if you later upgrade the new one you have to go and audit your hot bar to make sure you have the right one.
And if you have boosted your character up levels… well. Sigwerd got past level 60 on his own, then boosted to 90 and has gone from there to 108. Along the way some of the skills in his hot bars have fallen behind. So I went through and fixed all of that.
Then I started shopping for upgrades on the market. But the prices for adepts for level 100+ skills are insane. Sigwerd has about 50K platinum, making him my wealthiest character. Inflation got him that money through the market. But inflation means he could piss that all away quickly on the adept upgrades for his skill, which run from 2.5K to 10K platinum each.
Few people seemed to be making journeyman skills, and those that were on the market were even more expensive than adept skills.
I went to my alchemist, but he is only level 92 in that trade, so I need to level him up there. And even then there is the question of getting the recipes which require a signature quest run.
So I did what I could there then started fishing elsewhere.
I went through my alternate advancement trees to see if there was anything I could boost there.
I looked at gear, but my stuff from the Days of Summer quest last year was still better than anything on the market, along with the upgrades to that I had gotten in the Plane of Magic.
At one point I was looking through my claimable items… those have piled up over the last 15 years… and found a mount that had better stats than my own, so swapped to that and started upgrading it. I also claimed a companion pet I had in there that also gave me a stats boost. And I bought a familiar… which is also a pet of sorts that also gives you stats, so I am not sure what the difference is, other than that familiars are “collectable” and have seasons and cost Daybreak Cash. I got a slug. But it was a slug that gave me a stats boost.
While in the claims window I also ran across some other, older, unclaimed items I found a token worth a five ascension level boost. Somewhere in the back of my mind I recalled something about ascension levels and it being something of an alternate alternate advancement path. So I figured I ought to track that down.
Now we get into one of my gripes about EQII. I am sitting in something close to the current content, running one expansion back in Planes of Prophecy. But ascension levels came in with Kunark Ascending, the expansion before that. In order to unlock access to ascension levels, I need to run down a signature quest in that expansion. But to get that quest I need to go back to the expansion before that, Terrors of Thalumbra, and run through a signature quest there to unlock the trigger to get the quest that will get me into the zone, Obulus Frontier, that has the NPC that will give me the quest that will unlock ascension levels. That quest chain actually starts on the Isle of Mara, which sends me around a bit to other zones. Then it is finally off to Thalumbra, which you have to do a quest to access, and where I need to work on my faction with the local in order to get the next quest that will lead to the further quest.
So I ran through that, getting side tracked along the way to unlock access to trade skill recipes so I could craft beyond level 100, since that was only another six quest chain and I was down there anyway.
Eventually I get into Obulus Frontier, but it is late in the evening so I figure I will pick this up the next day and recall home to sell stuff in my bloated inventory and put stuff up for sale on the market. In my inventory is a bunch of stuff from the Days of Summer 2019 quest event, which was still running, and which I ran across by accident when I ended up in the Sundered Frontier on one leg of one of the quests to get access to Obulus Frontier, so of course I stopped and ran those. Now I have a full set of level 110 gear to wear if and when I make it to level 110. So I had to put that in the bank.
Of course, the next day I had to figure out how to get back. The wiki says there is a way to get there from Thalumbra, so I go to Greater Faydark, take the gnomish transport device, and fly around to the spot where I can get in.
However, it won’t let me in. I have not done the quest that opens up the access from Thalumbra to Obulus Frontier, because of course I haven’t. So I go to Kunark and find my way through to the portal that will get me to the zone and I go in and I find the mob that will give me the quest that will finally unlock ascension levels… and I get this.
As it turns out, I do not speak her language because, as you might be able to guess at this point, I have not done the quest that will teach me the language that lets me speak to her to get the quest that will unlock ascension levels and one voice in the back of my head is shouting, “Are you fucking kidding me?” while another is just sighing and saying, “Or course there is another quest.”
So I ran off to find that quest. And I know that won’t be the last quest. I took a moment to fly off to the person who actually ends up training you in your ascension class and they were surrounded by hostile guards, which likely means I will need to do some more quests to raise my faction sufficiently to get through the guards and converse with the trainer.
I am not upset about this trail of events. That I spent three late evening running through all of this and am still going is an indication that I am invested. But as a solution to my original problem, that fights were taking a long time, it seems to be something of a bust. I don’t know if this will actually solve the problem and, more pertinently, if I had just put up with the long fights I would have easily been done and through and on to the next thing and probably level 109 with the same investment of time.
And if I had spent that same amount of time running some of the repeatable, faction earning side quests in the Plane of Magic I would undoubtedly be level 110 by now, my original goal.
Such is life with EverQuest II. If you haven’t kept up, catching up can be a long process. And I have had no shame in this using the wiki, pasting in way points, and just taking the direct route to things. I cannot imagine figuring this out without simply giving up and embracing out of game information.
It has also been something of an interesting dive into an attitude or two that has changed at Daybreak on the Norrath team. There was a era when they were very big on marking quest locations or areas on the map when you had then up on your tracker. There were blue dots and shaded blue areas where you could expect to find the relevant NPC or mobs for the quest. They have apparently given up on this completely with the last expansion or two. Why spend time on that when there is always the wiki I guess.
The quest for level 110 continues.