Dropping in on the North

For me things have been pretty quiet down in Delve for the last month or so.

Which isn’t to say a lot hasn’t been going on.  Just look at last week’s post about the Monthly Economic Report.  And then there has been the changes to moon mining that came at the end of October.  Lots of people have been very busy.

Just not me.

I haven’t mined in ages and rat so sporadically that all of my own bounty payouts from Delve, lumped into one figure, wouldn’t influence any region’s monthly total for any recent month, high, low, or null sec.

I live for strat ops and deployments.  “Join The Imperium and See New Eden!” was the recruiting poster aimed at me.  And not much of that has been going on.  We have a structure and sovereignty treaty with TEST, our neighbors to the east. North, in Fountain, the collapse of The-Culture created more of a buffer between us and people we would shoot regularly, with The Initiative moving in next to Pandemic Horde.  And while there is some sort of war going on involving Triumvirate and Solar Fleet, that is a distant place where we don’t have much in the way of friends.

And, of course, I’ve been playing a bunch of World of Warcraft over the last few weeks, which I do full screen so I can’t even see pings if I remember to launch Jabber, which I haven’t done for a bit.  So there might have been a few strat ops, but I could have missed them.

What I did miss, but quickly caught up on this week, were some deployments.  A few groups have been heading into the north end of null sec to make mischief and shoot the locals.  I went from shipping some stuff to Jita in case I got kicked for not doing anything during November… I needed to clean out my hangar anyway… to racing north in a stealth bomber to join in on the fun.

I went from not knowing about any deployments to being deployed in under an hour, though I was in such a hurry to get going that I ran off without any torpedoes or bombs in my Purifier’s cargo bay.  I had to check the market as I flew, picking up a few torps here and there as I went.

Up in the north with just a bomber, I was in it for the hot drops until I could fly/ship something else. (Flying seems more likely as today’s jump fuel related news made isotope market prices exploding, which mean shipping prices will be up as well.)  But hot dropping has it own charm, along with the element of surprise.

First you get in the fleet, get on the black ops battleship.

Bombers clustered on a Redeemer

Of course, it doesn’t look like that most of the time.  Usually the battleship is cloaked to start with and you cloak up your bomber and warp to it, so you have essentially what looks to any casual observer like just more empty space.  (Ignore local, there is really nobody here!)  The black ops battleship only uncloaks when it is time to bridge us to a target.

So everybody groups up, all cloaked, and waits.  Out in the field scouts with covert cynos are searching for a target worth dropping, but the hammer sits in its tool box until it is time.  Which means you can sit on coms and listen while doing something else… like running world quests in WoW for the flying achievement.

But when Asher calls out, “Everybody wake up!” it is time to go.  Sometimes you’ll end up on a small mining op to bomb and finish off, other times you end up on a bigger prize.

Bombers hitting a ratting Nidhoggur

That is the fun time, getting to rip into a capital ship with a fleet of glass-cannon-esque bombers.  It is torpedoes on the way and hoping to be able to hold the target down until it is too late.  Then seeing the hull begin to erupt.

The Nidhoggur about to go down

And then boom!

Flying out of the explosion in a Haven

It all goes by so fast at times that I forget to take a screen shot or three along the way.

Then it is time to loot what we can, destroy whatever is left, and get back on station to wait for the next target of opportunity.

Probably one of the more historically ironic things I have seen so far been Goons dropping on and killing a Mordus Angels ratting carriers.  How times have changed.

Anyway, I am suddenly active again, so maybe I won’t get kicked this month.

Quote of the Day – Sisyphean Task

Devs promise to change Battlefront II until players are happy

-Ars Technica article title

It is the rare headline that gets me to laugh out loud, but this one managed it.

EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront II woes around lockboxes and pay to win and the game in general continue unabated.  I’m not keen on EA when they’re having a good day… since a “good day” at EA usually means buying a studio they’ll close down sooner or later or screwing up a long treasured franchise… so this has been amusing to watch from the sidelines.

Fun created here… on an Orca graveyard!

Starting with what seemed to be like a “land war in Asia” grade mistake where players could unlock things either by playing or paying using the same currency, allowing players to immediately calculate an hours/money comparison, made more grievous by having it in a PvP shooter.  So the rage online was epic and the EA response on Reddit became the most down-voted item ever.  Call Guinness, we have another video game record for the books!

EA stuck to their guns… for a bit, then suddenly dropped the price of unlocks by a whopping 75% while trying to put all of this in back in the bottle by promising… well… you can see the quote above.  My immediate reaction on Twitter was:

I guess the devs ought to be familiar with Hell already, working for EA as they do.

At this point EA can only hope to fix enough so that the review scores from the big sites… which are all on hold right now, so the current Meta Critic score of 79 is based on four sites, three of which I would call “minor” and a fourth I haven’t heard of… won’t tank.  But good luck making any of the vocal members of their audience happy at this point.  On that front the pooch has already been well and truly screwed.  Anything short of removing lockboxes completely… and EA won’t ever do that… will fail to meet their stated goal.

Anyway, we shall see if anything is learned here.

Fall Movie League – Who’s Your Daddy?

Our Fall Fantasy Movie League run is now eleven weeks in, leaving only two more to go.

The week eleven box office was clearly going to go to Thor: Ragnarok again, and the goat-driving god of Asgard was priced appropriately for that.  The week’s picks were.

 Thor: Ragnarok               $659
 Murder on the Orient Express $284
 Daddy's Home 2               $266
 Bad Moms Christmas           $105
 Jigsaw                       $34
 Boo! 2                       $25
 Geostorm                     $19
 Thank You for Your Service   $18
 Happy Death Day              $16
 Blade Runner 2049            $14
 Only the Brave               $13
 Victoria & Abdul             $10
 The Foreigner                $9
 It                           $6
 Subrubicon                   $6

Competing with Thor for anchor position in people’s lineups were two new entries, Murder on the Orient Express and Daddy’s Home 2.

Estimates on both of the new films were somewhat soft, with those willing to commit to a number sticking below $25 million on each while those giving a range allowed that either might go past that and close to $30 million.  But nobody strayed much beyond that.

Meanwhile Thor was a pretty solid bet for $55-65 million.  Having wrested the lead of the TAGN league from SynCaine last week, I felt that the conservative track might be best.  So I anchored on Thor, put on a pair of Bad Moms Christmas, and then filled in with Geostorm.

My Fall Week Eleven Picks

Going with Geostorm was mostly based on it exceeding estimates every week despite being critically panned as a disaster of a disaster movie.

Thor came in a little low, but still in the range I expected.  But Daddy’s Home 2 seemed to be doing better than expected and was pulling up close to $30 million in the Saturday estimates.  That was giving SynCaine, who went in with three screens of Daddy’s Home 2 a lead for the week.  The only redeeming factor was that Bad Moms was the best price/performer and the $4 million extra that was giving me helped mitigate the strong Daddy’s Home 2 showing.

But I always call those first estimates “the Saturday of False Hopes” because the usually change by Monday.  Sure enough, on Sunday the roles had flipped, Dads passing Moms, putting Daddy’s Home 2 as the best price/performer, sinking my own picks to the bottom of the list.

Corr, who pays closer attention to these things, and who was in for six screens of Bad Moms so was keenly interested in the outcome, said early Monday that the margin between the two was thin enough that it could go either way with even a small shift in the final numbers.

However, it was not to be.  When the numbers were finalized, Daddy’s Home 2 was the best price/performer and the anchor for the perfect pick.

Fall Week Eleven Perfect Pick

123 people got the perfect pick for week eleven.  Fortunately, SynCaine was not one of them.  However, his anchoring on three screens of Daddy’s Home the only person in our overall group to do so, gave him his fifth win in the TAGN league and a win in the overall Meta League, with the numbers shaking out as:

  1. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $115,590,767
  2. Kraut Screens (T) – $104,712,521
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $100,919,575
  4. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $96,030,514
  5. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $95,384,287
  6. I HAS MOVIES (T) – $94,984,586
  7. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $94,252,816
  8. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $91,751,712
  9. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $90,021,774
  10. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $89,618,203
  11. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T) – $89,093,184
  12. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $88,224,634
  13. Wilhelm’s Films from New Eden – $88,224,634
  • TAGN Movie Obsession – players from it marked with a (T)
  • MCats Multiplex – players from it marked with an (M)

I was feeling pretty good when I saw that Aure and I had the same picks for week eleven, she having done much better than I overall.  Pity we were of like minds on the week when she chose poorly.

That left the overall Meta League looking like this:

  1. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex (M) – $910,230,456
  2. Aure’s Astonishingly Amateur Amphitheatre (M) – $889,775,200
  3. Elly’s Elemental E-Plex (M) – $858,929,007
  4. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights (T) – $857,063,666
  5. Ben’s X-Wing Express (M) – $854,027,980
  6. Wilhelm’s Films from New Eden – $834,616,933
  7. Dan’s Decadent Decaplex (M) – $819,444,618
  8. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics (T)$805,922,146
  9. Logan’s Luxurious Thaumatrope (M) – $794,791,471
  10. Kraut Screens (T) – $728,356,671
  11. The Filthy Fleapit (T) – $701,979,852
  12. I HAS MOVIES (T) – $698,096,697
  13. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex (T) – $555,611,337

Corr’s third place finish this week put him solidly out in front of Aure again.  Aure, likewise, has a pretty solid hold on second place.  The close fight is for third place where this week’s results put Elly and SynCaine past Ben, who went all-in with eight screens of Bad Moms this week.

Then I sit down in sixth place, not completely out of the running, but I need a big week or one of those three to stumble in order to move up a notch or two.

Which leads us to the options for week twelve, the penultimate week of the Fall season.

Justice League - FRI         $636
Justice League - SAT         $434
Justice League - SUN         $334
Thor: Ragnarok               $269
Daddy's Home 2               $175
Murder on the Orient Express $152
Wonder                       $140
The Star                     $120
Bad Moms Christmas           $77
Lady Bird                    $30
Jigsaw                       $16
Boo! 2                       $9
Geostorm                     $8
Blade Runner 2049            $8
Three Billboards             $8

We have another big super hero movie opening for week twelve.  Justice League, like Thor two weeks back, is supposed to open so big relative to the rest of the pack that it has been divided into Friday, Saturday, and Sunday screenings.

The Justice League three-way, along with new films Wonder, The Star, Lady Bird, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri managed to push Thank You for Your Service, Happy Death Day, Only the Brave, Victoria & Abdul, The Foreigner, It, and Subrubicon off the list this week.

So Justice League seems to be the safe bet, being predicted to open even bigger than Thor did.  Putting Batman and Wonder Woman on the same screen will do that I guess.

On the other hand, Justice League is pretty pricey.  There is no “three Sundays” option as with Thor.  Friday seems like a sucker bet again, with maybe a Saturday and Sunday plus some very cheap filler being my main guess.  That might be my last chance to put Blade Runner 2049 in my lineup.

But without Justice League, where do you go?  With Thor good for $25 million or so, what do you team him up with? There is The Star, a rework of the Christmas nativity billed as a “computer animated Christian comedy film” starring animals.  I guess in a world with Veggie Tales that is possible.  And then there is Wonder, where photogenic parents struggle with the problems of a child with facial deformities.  Or there are last week’s properties, Daddy’s Home 2 and Murder on the Orient Express.

There are a lot of ways to jump this week.

Timewalking to Northrend

Timewalking has been in World of Warcraft for a while now.  This is where they open up dungeons from past expansions, reworked to support players in the current expansion.

Re-using old content and making it viable in the current context/meta of the game is something I am totally in favor of.  I just haven’t participated in the whole Timewalking thing up until now.

That is mostly because I haven’t been subscribed and playing for about the last year, so I missed the previous events.  Now that I am back though I took an evening to look into what was going on.

I was lured in by the fact that the current event is for dungeons from the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, which was provably the peak of my interest in WoW.

That was the only expansion I stuck with from day one through until the next expansion drop.  Unfortunately, the next drop was Cataclysm, about which I have a list of gripes, and which started my pattern of starting expansions, go away for six months to a year, then coming back to finish them off after Blizz has unlocked all the content and fixed the more egregious issues.

(As an aside, Wrath of the Lich King was launched nine years ago yesterday.  That seems like a long time ago now.)

However, now that I am back and enjoying Legion, timewalking is also an option, of course I was going to indulge myself in the current even and travel back to Northrend and the instances I knew so well at one point.

I did a couple of the instances before figuring out that there was a quest for the event that would award some additional benefit in the form of vendor tokens, so I grabbed that and kept on going for a while.  Going back to the old haunts was a nice little break from Suramar, and didn’t slow me down too much.  I have been on a WoW binge for a bit now.

Slaying King Ymiron again

The event was popular so queuing for it in Dungeon Finder was quick, even as DPS.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the dungeons themselves and how they might scale or what drops one might get.  I was quite happy with the ilevel 880 timewarped Northrend gear I got, which was both an upgrade over what I was currently wearing as well as giving me a bit of the old school WotLK look.

Vikund and the Knights who say “Ni!”

There were also artifact boosts for every boss and vendor tokens along the way, though the drops from dungeon mobs themselves were still seemed to be in the WotLK level range.

Finding the vendor took a minute though.  When I completed the event quest it told me to go find the vendor in Dalaran.  However, he was nowhere to be seen in the Legion Dalaran, so I had to think about the best way to get to the WotLK Dalaran, the two co-existing in the game.

I decided to take the portal to the Vale of Eternal Blossoms in Pandaria from the Legion Dalaran, remembering that there was a portal from there to the WotLK Dalaran.

Passing through Pandaria

That got me to the correct Dalaran where I was able to find the vendor, standing in the center of town with a crowd around him.

The vendor is in there somewhere

The quest turn in actually gave me quite a few tokens to play with, tripling the tokens I had earned along the way.

The reward

The tokens can be turned in for various bits of gear… though honestly I got so many upgrades that there was only one piece that was a semi-side-grade for me… or tokens to up your standings with various Northrend factions… not helpful since I am exalted with all the factions for which there are tokens… and some expensive things like a mount.  I’d have to run a lot more dungeons to get there.

The list of things from the vendor are over at the WoW Head timewalking guide.

It was there that I also learned that there were only six dungeons in play for timewalking, which explains why I saw some repeats.

The limited rotation wasn’t all bad.  My main worry was pulling The Oculus, the gimmick instance most likely to cause a rift in a group in the entire expansion.  Dungeon Finder groups fall apart doing that on normal mode.

What is probably my all-time most run instance ever, The Nexus, was on the list so I got to run a victory lap there.  I even remembered to jump during the last fight.

Still, I wouldn’t have minded doing Utgarde Keep or a couple of the others.

Which leads us down to the experience of running the instances now, so many years later.

On the one hand, it was fun in its own way to romp through a few old places.  I even remembered how most of the fights went.

On the flip side the problems with both timewalking and Dungeon Finder were apparent.

The ilevel reduction to make the instances something of a challenge doesn’t seem to be enough.  This is doubly so since I noticed I was getting credit for doing Heroic instances in doing these timewalking dungeons.  The power/difficulty ratio barely put these on par with normal mode dungeons at level.

And then the real problem with Dungeon Finder, which isn’t jerks or the unhelpful, who tend to be rare in my experience, but the speed.  When you’re in a group with strangers you’re not there to share an experience but get the reward for completion.  So each of these runs became races through the content, made all the more hasty by the ease with which we tore through boss after boss.

Ideally I would have liked to go through these old instances in a pre-made group, preferably the old instance group, to savor a bit of the history, to sit a while and listen to what the bosses have to say, to actually enjoy the fights.  But you go with the options you have, and random Dungeon Finder groups are the only choice some of us have, so you have to make the most of it.

Through Suramar and the Class Hall Quest Line

The Suramar zone has a lot of quests.

As noted previously I floundered about a bit figuring out where the lead-in for the zone was, eventually catching up with Khadgar and getting on the right path.  But that is quite a path.

To start with there is a whole quest chain series to run through… not a zone’s worth relative to the other zones, but maybe half that amount… to get the Nightborne up and running and willing to start you off on the actual series of quest chains for the zone achievement that is on the path to unlock flying.

Suramar itself is in the shape of a section of a circle, an arc with open countryside and ruins on the outside two thirds of the arc.

Suramar Zone Map

The outside boundaries are a bit rough, but it is mostly an arc.  It is in this outer area where you start to delve into the tale of the Nightborne, their deeds and sites, and their huge mana addiction.

Basically, the whole story is about a bunch of isolationist night elves who became junkies, slaves to their mana addiction, how they got tied up with the Legion, and the search by one underground group to rid themselves of the Legion and to find the mythical mana methadone equivalent.  You seriously have to get the quest givers a fix before they’ll talk to you if they are Jonesing.

Fortunately bits of mana are literally sitting all over the countryside and by a few quests in you’ve been given the power to see such mana nodes on your mini-map, all the better to keep your Nightborne buddies lit and sweet.

There is even a sort of mana pool game you have to play.  When you start out there is a hard limit on how much mana you can acquire, but one of the rewards you get as you move along is boosts to the total pool you can have.  Nothing like ending up in a mana rich area and finding you’re already full up, though at least some of the nodes yield crystals, good for 50 or 100 mana, that go into your inventory as a secondary storage which can be accessed later.

Once you have followed through setting things up in the outer arc, the quest line begins to focus on Suramar City in the center of the circle.

Gonna go down to Suramar City…

There you get in touch with the underground seeking to overthrow the Legion and their Nightborne allies.

Suramar City itself reminds me a bit of Annuminas in Evendim back in LOTRO, at least in its semi-circular form around a central bay/harbor and the somewhat overwrought grandness of its structures.

Gazing across Suramar City

I like how fantasy cities all seemed to have been built by one architect.  Nobody dares violate the style guidelines.

The city has an interesting game mechanic.  To those running the city you are a hostile outsider who is kill on sight, so the underground hooks you up with a disguise that mostly fools the bads.  However, some of those bads possess “true sight” which allows them to see through your disguise.  Fortunately for you, you can spot them a mile away by the glowing blue eyeball hovering above them when you are disguised.

Skirting past some true sight guards in a sedan chair

If you get too close they call you out and you have to either get away quickly or kill them.  Once combat starts… or once they identify you… your disguise drops and any other guards in the area will also join in.

And so you do your bit for the underground, avoiding true sight and recruiting allies, assassinating foes, and generally sowing discord.  It can be a nifty and immersive experience.  Also, the grapple mechanic from Stormheim is a thing in Suramar City and you can get up onto the room tops at various points… though you mostly do that to find treasure boxes and bits of stray mana to keep everybody sweet.

There is one guy along the quest chain who wants 1,200 mana to carry on, which at that point is most of what you can carry and he just asked for 800 mana a bit ago, so I spent some time just refreshing my supply.  It is a good thing that the stuff is lying about all over, to such an extent that you might wonder who couldn’t keep themselves supplied, but maybe they’re all just high and can’t be bothered.

Still, while this is all good fun, and I enjoyed it quite a bit, there are some kinks in the plan.  There are a series of solo quests that require you to run through the Moonlit Landing area of Suramar city in order to speak to people, pick up a few items, or kill a few foes.

However, what distinguishes the Moonlit Landing is that most of the guards both have true sight and are elite.

Yeah, yeah, out in the open world “elite” doesn’t mean the same thing as it does in a dungeon or a raid.  For the most part an open world elite means that you can probably solo it with some effort/competence, but that getting a couple of them on you is bad news.  The problem is that the true sight elites are packed in tight so the idea that you’re going to get spotted in the middle of the area and only have to fight one at a tight is unlikely in the extreme.

If you’re very patient you could probably get through with stealth.  If you are very lucky you could probably get through skirting the edge of detection circles while speeding through.

For the rest of us, there are alternative means.

There were a couple that I managed to do by using the good old Goblin Glider kit to jump off from the vineyard level above Moonlit Landing to glide on down to the person I needed to speak to or the dingus I needed to acquire or modify.  From there I used the whistle you get when you open up world quests… and this may be the best thing ever for those who don’t have flying yet… that summons a flying mount to take you to the nearest flight point.

And then there were a couple I did by the brute force corpse and revive method.  I didn’t start out with that as a plan, but I had to speak to three NPCs in the midst of the area and I failed at stealth and speed, so I just ran to a safe spot near the first one and died.  Then I ran back as a spirit, revived, spoke to the NPC, then ran for the next one, died in a safe spot, revived, and then again for the third one.

Finally, I had to kill some of the elites for drops.  Again, killing one is possible, but getting a group means you die.  I found a couple on the periphery and pulled them out into the water to take them down, a plan that worked three out of four times.

Fighting my pull in the water

The first time I did it I didn’t see the other guards behind something on the dock, but still managed to slay my target before dying, so I could loot him after I revived.

It wasn’t horrible, and it did provide a challenge of sorts with a few possible solutions, but I could see those quests being a real barrier to some people.  I told my daughter that when she gets there I’ll help her out, either healing for her DK if we need to brute force some of it or flying her in for some of the trickier ones.  But she might not need my help as she is generally more savvy at that sort of thing than I am.

The other issue turned out to be less of an issue than I thought it might be.  You get sent off to slay Xavius in the Emerald Nightmare raid.  On the plus side it was doable with the LFR version of the raid, so I queued up for the Xavius section of that thinking that I might be a couple hours getting through it.

However, that section of the raid is a few quick fights and then Xavius shows up.  Our group took him down without issue and I was able to run off to Cenarius, pick up the required quest item… which doesn’t drop with Xavius but is stilling next to Cenarius… and be done.

After the fight

I spent more time waiting in the queue for the raid… maybe 10 minutes… than it took to get through it.  It went so fast I forgot to take a screen shot until I was done.

The raid and that final venture into Moonlit Landing were the last real hurdles.  There were a pair of quests that required me to do Heroic instances, which I felt would be a real problem… everybody is fine with sloppy in easy normal mode, but in Heroic people start hating strangers when the difficulty ramps up… but those turned out to be option for the achievement.

So I finished out the quest chain which knocked out a couple of achievements for me, the important one being Loremaster of Legion, one of the five required for the Broken Isles Pathfinder (Part One) achievement that gates flying.

Meanwhile, along the way I also managed to complete my order hall class quest. I had a little bit of trouble figuring out where this quest was and ended up getting both of the other paladin artifact weapons… the same orange punctuation heralds both quest types… before finally getting on the right path.  That also rained down some achievements on me.

Class Hall Quest Results

You get the new champions as soon as the chain is done, and they are 110 to start with, so that is a twofer right there if you’ve kept your other champions trained up.

Now my Ashbringer seems bigger and even more glowy than it did before.

Behold My Ashbringer… which is totally not exactly the same as yours

Now I can turn undead to little piles of dust even more quickly!

That also knocked out another section of the first Broken Isles Pathfinder achievement, leaving me with two to go.

The first is Variety is the Spice of Life, for which I have to run 100 different world quests.  If you look on the side of one of the screen shots above, you can see that I am tracking that achievement and sit at 71 out of 100.  I should be able to knock that out.  The only issue is remembering which world quests I have done before.  I’ve done some I could swear I was hitting for the first time, only to not see the number go up, while I’ve done others I know I’ve done and they count.  There is some confusion possible as a lot of world quests seem to be re-worked versions of normal quests.  Either way, if I run enough I know I’ll get there.  I still have not done any Broken Shore world quests, so those will boost that number.

And I know I will be running world quests because the last bit of the Pathfinder achievement is the Broken Isles Diplomat achievement which requires you to get revered standings with a list of factions.  I have a ways to go there.

Broken Isles Diplomat standings

The Nightfallen is our Nightborne friends in Suramar, and I managed to squeak into revered with them on the last quest in their chain, so I am covered, there.  But as for the rest, it will be world quests ongoing.  Lots of work to do on The Wardens as they are only Friendly at this point.

And that is just the Broken Isles Pathfinder Part One.  There is the Part Two portion, which extends things to the Broken Shore.  Fortunately that seems to be a single zone worth of exploration and a quest chain to do along with another faction to revered.

Anyway, some progress made and I continue to track myself as I go over at WoW Head.

The Elemental Glades

I’ve put off doing this post for a while… which probably just means I’ve forgotten more of the details over time… because the Elemental Glades were… intricate.  That is really the only word I can think of to cover the zone.

Way, way back in the day when we poor elves started in TorilMUD, only to find ourselves trapped on Evermeet until we hit level 20, we didn’t have a lot of options as where to adventure.  As covered in past posts under the Leuthilspar Tales tag, we only had three zones to adventure in.

I’ve written about Kobold Village and the Faerie Forest already.  Those were the zones where we spent the lion’s share of our time, taking on the Kobold miners, or running the Taskmasters and Bandor circuit, with the roots in Anna’s cellar along the way if we had a healer.

But the Elemental Glades… we rarely set foot in the place.

Sure, everybody on the island went there at some point.  It was just at the end of the path from Leuthilspar.  Not only wasn’t it hidden or hard to find, it was hard to miss.  You could easily wander in there accidentally.

The zone itself was strange, with a series of rooms, in clusters of four connected by a path that ran through the zone.  Each cluster had its own sort of tree.  And if you went too far down the path you would run into the su-monsters, evil psionic primates of Forgotten Realms lore that would not only assist each other but would come in from adjoining rooms to get you.  Many a young elf died to the su-monsters and getting that corpse… and the accompanying equipment… back safely was a challenge.

But mostly we avoided it because there wasn’t anything in the zone worth our time.  What gear there was lacked redeeming stats or, save for the “ridiculously tiny cap,” comedic value.

A small girl who looks something like a halfling, only smaller. She is
dressed in a short brown tunic.
The brownie is a small-sized level 15 Faerie.
She is in excellent condition.

<worn on head> a ridiculously tiny cap

Katumi tells you ‘a ridiculously tiny cap (Head) AC:0 Armor:-6 Hp:7 * Wt:0 Val:0p * Zone: Elemental Glades * Last ID: 2011-01-22’

Some things seemed neat, or filled slots that might otherwise go empty.

The fairy is a tiny version of a woman, but with wings!
The fairy is a small-sized level 15 Faerie.
She is in excellent condition.

<worn around neck> a pouch of fairy dust on a string

Katumi tells you ‘a pouch of fairy dust on a string (Neck) AC:0 Svpar:-2 * Wt:1 Val:0p * Zone: EM Roads * Last ID: 2007-03-17’

But most of the stuff wasn’t worth the effort and the mobs were tough and gave poor experience.  An elf would only go hang out in there if they were bored or desperate… or had a group strong enough to kill the su-monsters.  And even that wasn’t good experience, just cathartic.

And if you went past the su-monsters you were in danger of getting stuck.  The east exit from their square of rooms was a strange corridor.  If you went east you went into a normal room, but if you move back west you ended up in an elemental area with a castle and a hostile mob to kill.  Well, we found out about the hostile mob later, as they were behind a locked door in each zone.  A young elf getting stuck in these areas was always a chore to rescue.  We just told people to stay away and did so ourselves.

As time went on however, as we leveled up and left the island, a couple of our fellow elves began to return to the zone to try and figure out what was really going on.  As I recall Chandigar, ever the quest hunter, was the one who went in a deciphered what was going on.  I only explored and mapped the place.  And, thanks to digging out ZMud a bit back, I now have an annotated map to share.

Elemental Glades – Main Level

One of the first things discovered, aside from the layout, was that if you went up past the wombat into the ethereal tower and killed the wraith up there, it would drop a cube of ethereal matter.

To get to past the wombats and up into the ethereal tower you first had to get through Boabob trees, a section of the zone where all the exits were hidden by default  I recall somebody getting in there and being in a panic because there did not appear to be any way out.

Southwest Corner of a Grove of Baobab Trees
Exits: None!

You had to search until the exits showed up.

Once past that you had to slay the wombats, which were aggro.  Bad wombats!  Then you had to do in the wraith.  Easy enough as a druid as my sunray spell was extra potent against undead.   Then, once you looted the cube you could then take the cube to the forrestal over in the maples and he would give you the greenstone earring.

< > give cube forrestal
You give a cube of ethereal matter to the forrestal.
The forrestal takes the box and his eyes grow wide with wonder. ‘I was told once, long, long ago about a substance like this. I might be able to use this to heal my grove! Thank you, brave adventurer!’ He casts about as if looking for something. ‘Well hmm. I must, as a matter of honor, repay you for your service. Take this earring! It will serve you well in the different worlds you may wander.’

The forrestal gives you a greenstone earring.

‘I’m going to go tell the dryad the good news,’ he says. ‘She’s been worried since I’ve been upset over the trees.’ Whistling a merry tune, the forrestal vanishes into the woods.

The greenstone earring was crap, but it gave you full fire protection.  However, that turned out to be a vital aspect of the whole venture, as you needed that fire protection to get through the flame bathed elemental castle of fire.

Meanwhile, the location of the keys required for these elemental sub-zones were discovered.  Two of them were hidden in rooms which I have marked on the map.  I have completely forgotten where the other two were hidden, but we used to know and would grab them and run the individual elemental towers.

The towers mobs holding the towers dropped some loot.  Nothing really worthwhile.  I remember a flaming bastard sword or some such coming from the elemental tower of fire, a weapon with a name that far outpaced its stats.

So there wasn’t much in the way of rewards.  We ran them pretty much just to say we had done it a few times or when there was nothing else to do.  After they were done there was an exit in each that dumped you back in the Elemental Glades in the area with the sprites that matched the tower in question.  So for the fire tower you ended up with the fire sprites.

We were that far.  We could run those bits of the zone and ended up with a bit of gear we could vendor.  But we also ended up with a stone from each castle.  That looked like a quest item to somebody.

As it turned out, heading back up to the ethereal tower, there was a locked door that had a niche the shape of the stone looted from the earth elemental guardian.  And after that there was another door with a niche that matched another stone, and then another and another.  Four stones to unlock four doors.

And after that last door was… well… I forget.  There might have been a mob in the room to fight.  There probably was.  But I cannot recall even a glimpse of what the mob might have been.  But once past the fight, if there was a fight, there was a chest, inside of which was the reward for the whole quest line, an obsidian dagger.

Katumi tells you ‘a jagged obsidian dagger (Wield) Dam:1 Hit:2 * (Weapon) Dice:1D8 * Float Hidden Magic !Mage !Priest * Wt:4 Val:0p * Zone: Elemental Glades * Last ID: 2006-02-26’

The dagger was crap.  By the time we were doing that any rogue or assassin that was even trying a bit had the then all powerful Glowing Crimson Dagger from a quest in Havenport that was both interesting and easy enough to do with a small group that it got done nearly every boot that allowed enough time for people to get there.  Even the current, post eventual nerf stats are much better.  It even has a proc.

Katumi tells you ‘a glowing crimson dagger (Wield) Dam:2 Hit:3 * (Weapon) Dice:3D5 Crit:6% Multi:2x (Class: Simple, Type: Dagger) * Procs: Crimson Strike – Stat Drain * Magic * Wt:1 Val:35p * Zone: HP (UQ) * Last ID: 2010-12-04’

That was the answer to the questions about the zone.  It was essentially built in service of a single quest.  It was also clearly from another era.  Rumor had it that the zone was something somebody built for another MUD and brought it along with them when Sojourn became a thing.  It was further said that it got tacked onto the Evermeet zones because it sort of fit in and all we had was Kobold Village and the Faerie Forest.  And it gave us some place dangerous to get lost… because to Kobold Temple of the Unholy wasn’t enough I guess.

And, as a final note about the item stats quoted, they come from Katumi, and in-game bot that you can send tells to for such information.  Something I would have never dreamed of back in the old days.  If you log in be sure to send Katumi and tell with just a “?” to get the info about how it works.