Tag Archives: Frostfang Sea

Frostfang Recovery Plan

We had a simple plan.

Having faced a third week of awkward parallel questing the last time around, we opted to let everybody just finish out the quest line in the Frostfang sea on their own or in smaller groups (while the quests can be annoying in pairs, it is nowhere near the logistical problem of keeping six people on track and getting the right drops) over the intervening two weeks.

We would then, all at level 20 or so and riding our first mounts, form up again to conquer some of the group content in EverQuest II.

Being eager, what with having momentum, I got on the next day and ran the quest line with Campell, got my mount, hit level 20, and was done.

I even went out and collected some of the quests for Stormhold, the first zone we were looking into attempting.  Things were going well.

And then the next day SOE went down due to the security breach and didn’t come up until a couple hours before we were supposed to join up.

And while I was pleasantly surprised that SOE came up when it did, as we effectively did not miss a single planned group night, everybody showed up without their homework done.  The dog, in the form of SOE, had eaten it.

And so we had to do the exercises in class.

I went along with Campell, turning the AA slider to 100% and mentoring down to the lowest level person in the group.

We actually ended up with just a group of four.  Cerrdwyn was tired and promised to get caught up before the next Saturday, while Meclin turned out to still be at the previous quest hub, so he would just drive to catch up with us.

With four of us, and only three of us actually doing the quests, things went smoothly enough.  It helped that I had recently done the quest line, so I pointed out a place or two where there was a certain efficiency in doing quests in a certain order, if only to avoid an extra swim to the islands you end up having to visit.

It was also nice to have along casters with water breathing spells for the last chunk of quests.  There is an underwater swim that you can make without water breathing… if you are careful, time things right, and make no mistakes… but having water breathing on tap helps.

Yes, you get a totem of water breathing with 5 charges (not enough), and can get another (if you read all the quest text and found the totem replacement on the ground near the quest giver), but it still surprises me a bit that SOE made the swim under water so long.  I only know I can make the swim and live because with an odd number of charges, you are likely to run out when you are down at the far end of the swim and need to get back to the surface.

So having the spell on hand meant not running out at an awkward moment.

Things went smoothly enough.

We killed many orcs.  I think everybody in that group got Orc Lore & Legend completed before the end of the night.

There was one death, when Earl stood too close to the explosive barrels we had to blow down the wall in the underground.  Three barrels of explosives will do that.

An interesting moment of comparison game up with the wall and the explosives.  Campell had already done the quest, so the wall was down for him.  However, the wall was still there for everybody else.  And yet, we could all see each other and interact.  Blizzard, seemingly addicted to phasing in Cataclysm, but Potshot and I in different phases of a zone for smaller changes than that wall.  SOE felt no need to separate the group over such a small detail. (Though it was, perhaps, immersion breaking that Campell could walk through what seemed to be a solid wall to everybody else.)

The underground area is actually a place best approached in a small group.  There are lots of orcs around, some of whom wander, so you can get in over your head if you are not careful.  In a group we were able to plow through.

Probably the biggest help I was able to provide was with the Griz quest.  This is the last one in the line that gives you your mount.  But it can be a very frustrating quest.

You put on this animated hat which then gives you essentially “warmer/colder” directions to help you find a couple of items in the underground.  However, the directions only trigger at certain points and you can easily wander all over the place and get nowhere.  I tried for quite a while when I first did the quest and eventually had to look up the locations.

So this time around I was able to point people in the right direction.

Griz hats on in the underground

That done, we swam back and turned in the quest.  Four of us now had our first mount.

New Halasian Coursers

The horse scales for whichever race, though Trucknut’s horse looks a little small for him for some reason.

After that there was some more running around and talking about where to spend AA points, since with double exp we all bumped the slider over a bit more and accumulated quite a few.  But we were done with adventuring for the night.

We should, hopefully, be on tap for Stormhold this coming Saturday.  The initial parts of the zone will be a bit below our level, but it follows the old pattern of getting considerably harder the deeper you delve.  Stormhold is not a single visit dungeon.

And while we were sitting around chatting, I started opening up more of my Legends of Norrath card packs, looking for loot cards.  I had about 50 to open up at that point, and it takes 10 operations in-game to actually open a pack up, so it is going slowly.  But I did manage to get the card based on Brent at Virgin Worlds.

Forsworn Crusader Brent

That was kind of cool… though it isn’t a loot card.  I should probably figure out the set on which to focus in hopes of getting something else interesting.  I’ve still got quite a few packs left to open.

But the group itself should be done with the Frostfang Sea at this point.  It is time to get out and see more of the world.

Slow Progress in the Frostfang Sea

In my mind, it was a simple plan.

We would spend two of our Saturday night sessions in the New Halas starting zone, the Frostfang Sea, and then progress on to bigger and better things.  We would move quickly to actual group content.

After all, running Frostfang Sea only takes me about 3-4 hours solo.  The parts that slow me down are where there are so many mobs around that you have to clear them out slowly, which is to say, the parts that would benefit from being in a group.

So, with our “three hours on a Saturday night” play time budget, I figured I was being generous and leaving ourselves quite a buffer.

Then zone design and UI challenges arrived to thwart my simple plan.

We had spent one evening on the first island getting into the swing of things.  But then it took us a whole night to finish off the second quest hub as a group.  And there really were not that many quests.

Not even much space in this quest hub

As I mentioned last week, it seems awfully difficult to determine simple points of fact, like if everybody is on the same set of quests.

We thought we had this figured out this time around.  There is a tree control in the group tab of the quest journal with the title “shared.”  Before setting out, I checked to make sure all of the quests we were looking to cover next were listed under the “shared” category.

What we learned after the first round of quests was that “shared” meant “shared by at least one other person in the group” and not “shared by everybody in the group.”

Not the definition we wanted at all.

And so, once we got everybody on the same set of quests, the procedure became to simply read out the list of quests, usually just 3 or 4, and have everybody verbally acknowledge that they had all of the quests read out in their journal.

Quest Audit Huddle

Crude but effective.

And if that had been our only issue, we could have pressed on to our ultimate goal of the night, which was to finish the starter quest line, get out mounts, the penultimate reward for the quest line, and be ready to move on to bigger and better things.

We were, however, thwarted by yet another issue which I mentioned last week, the fact that a very small percentage of quests share updates across the group.

Quests that were about killing a certain number of orcs or frost weasels or what have you, they tended to update across the group.

But any quest which involved collecting drops, picking things up, placing things in specific locations, fixing things, destroying things, or, in one case, pouring beer on things, those required each of the people in the group to do individually.

And I realize that this is no big news flash after last week.  What made this an unexpected pain was that most of the quests the second quest hub, the one in the cave, were of the no shared update variety.

This was compounded by a few cases where the updates people needed were from items relatively limited in number.

So we stood around a lot waiting for death totems or basilisk eggs or slain Coldain to spawn so we, and the other players in the area, could race to them to get the update.

Yes, other players.  There is a problem you don’t really run into at low levels in EverQuest II Live/Classic/Original/Whatever very often.

So we got bottle necked more than a few times trying to finish up a quest that, solo, takes about 2 minutes.

I appreciate that SOE was using the new player quest line as an opportunity to show off as many different variations of the go get stuff/go kill stuff quest type as they could, just to give people a taste.  I just wish that the message that the new player zone sends about grouping is, “F your friends, they are holding you back!”

Thus, even with my attempts at efficient pathing through the parallel quest paths, we ended up just getting to the point where we advanced to the final quest hub in the new player experience before people began calling it a night.

And so, three weeks into the EverQuest II Extended adventure, we are still in the starter zone.  And we are there still primarily because we insist on playing as a group.

All was not lost though.  As it was a double experience day, most of us cranked up the AA slider and our AA totals quickly surpassed our levels in most cases.  That was nice.

It was also nice to find that those Bronze and Silver players in the group could, in fact, spend their AA points.  I couldn’t remember if that was on the freebie feature list.  This made me feel better about telling them to move their sliders, which I did without considering the differences in account types.

And we hauled everybody into New Halas to show them where to sell status items to help the guild advance.

The Status Vendor in New Halas

The guild was closing in on level 3 the last time I checked.

Since this coming weekend is Mother’s Day/VE Day, it was assumed that we probably wouldn’t be able to get together as a group.  So everybody was given free reign to finish out the quest line, get their horse, get to level 20 or so, and be ready for adventures ELSEWHERE in Norrath.

And then the whole hacking thing cropped up, the games went down, and now we’ll probably be standing exactly where we were last when the next group night comes along.

Dude, you're staring again

We shall see when that next group night comes along.

Meanwhile, our experience as a group in the Frostfang Sea made Meclin nostalgic for the Isle of Refuge, the old EQ2 starter zone.  That experience seemed to be much more group friendly.

Herding Cats, Tundra Beets, and Other Fun in the Frostfang Sea

There is, in fact, a quest that has you herd cats.  Well, you put leashes on them and lead them across a glacier, so it isn’t quite herding.  But my experience with every cat I’ve ever known is once a leash goes on, they start immediately walking backwards.

Some of you know what I mean.

They will do a lot of things if you leave the leash on them for a while, but letting you lead them placidly is not on the list.

And don’t even think about a leash for these guys

But the real herd of cats was us as we tried to keep ourselves coordinated following the quest line through the Frostfang Sea.

World of Warcraft has spoiled us a bit and we are having to learn to make do without as much immediately accessible data.

For example, we have grown used to mousing over a mob or harvestable item and getting a info balloon that lets us know that we need said item for a quest, the quest for which we need it, and if we need more than one of the item, how many we need and how many we have already, plus that last line of information for everybody in the group.

That allows the whole group to be aware that an individual has not gotten and update, or has not killed all the ice bears required, or has not harvested that last ice beet.

On the last rolling stone

So those of us in the group who tend to obsess over who has gotten all of their ice beets were left to more primitive means, which did not always pan out… especially with tundra beets and bear poop.

The ice beet harvesting quest has one of those UI quirks that makes me fume.  It begins presenting data in a standard fashion, but changes format at the last tundra beet.  So the quest guide in your peripheral vision on the right hand side of your screen updates as follows. (This is an approximation, not a literal transcription, but it gets the point across.)

  • (0/3) Tundra Beets
  • (1/3) Tundra Beets
  • You should gather one more Tundra Beet
  • You should go talk to Charlie Questgiver

I have now done this quest four times, and every single time I do it when the quest guide switches from numbers to text I mentally mark the quest done and fail to collect the last tundra beet.

Damn you tundra beets!

Actually, I remembered about the tundra beet quirk before I ran back to the quest giver, and I made sure to tell everybody else about it, so we did not foul up the tundra beets.  However, there are a couple of other quests that do the same thing, so we ended up with the group out of sync a few times.  We would do the three parallel quests that seem to be the standard at the start of Frostfang Sea, and everybody would finish two of them, so everybody would run back to the quest hub and have something to turn in, but inevitably, it seemed, a quest went uncompleted.

This was usually discovered only after we moved on to the next item and somebody realized that they didn’t have a quest for the things that everybody else in the group seemed to be slaying.  Then we would double back and try to get everybody back in sync, though once we ended up having to backtrack a few quests because the person in quest got a few quests ahead in one line and so being out of sync was fine until all the quests for the group failed to line up.

In the snow, out of sync

You can visually audit the quest status.  You can see your own pending quests on your screen, you can see the quests that are shared by everybody in the group in the quest journal, and if those do not add up, you can then go through the quest list for each person in the group, which is also displayed in the quest journal in a tree control, until you figure out who is out of sync.

Not the worst system imaginable.  All the data is there for you, if a bit awkwardly laid out.

But I would be really happy if somebody on the EQ2 team went over and copied how LOTRO does group status in its quest log. (There, I didn’t even say, “Go copy WoW!”  But if they wanted to, I’d be good with that as well.)

Fortunately, we were not in a hurry to accomplish anything in particular.  This was the second night of EQ2 orientation, and we were all learning (or relearning) how things work in the game and what we need to keep an eye on.

The only real goal of the night was to form a guild.

The Guild Creation Window

Forming a guild in EverQuest II extended requires a few things.

  • A guild charter – 450 SC from the Station Store (60 silver won’t cut it)
  • A full group – that means 6 people
  • The whole group in the same zone with the guild registrar (herding cats again)
  • A guild name

Of course, it was that last bit that took longer than almost anything else.

Despite Potshot and I throwing around potential guild names for almost a week in advance, picking the actual name followed the usual pattern.  We began tossing names around and rejecting them until people grew tired enough to lower their standards.  The key here is to keep the name you really want to yourself until you sense that standards are beginning to waver.

Unfortunately for me, I sprang my own pet name, “Koyaanisqatsi Now!” too soon.

And so we ended up with the name Creedence Qeynos Revival.

There’s a bathroom on the right

(Those under age 30 might need to go here to understand the  guild name reference.  For the joke in the caption, you are on your own.)

One interesting note.  While you need a full group, six characters, in order to create a guild, guild creation is not canceled if one of the group members declines to join the guild.  Trucknut declined at the moment of guild creation for some reason, but the guild was created anyway.

We also went over collection quests, status item drops and where to turn them in to help level the guild, and AA experience slider bar.

So as far as the Frostfang Sea quest line went, we did not make a huge amount of progress.  We essentially moved from the quest hub on the shore by the raft to the quest hub in the cave.  If you’ve done the quest line, you know what I mean.  If you have not, well, we’re about one third of the way through, with the whole group ending up at level 11 or 12.

But since was more or a “training and explaining” evening, we were not expecting a lot of progress.  Plus Earl could not make it on with us (I logged on another account for the six member of the group at guild creation) so we did not want to get too far ahead.

Next time we should be able to bash through the remainder of the Frostfang Sea quest line.  We all want the mount you get at the end.

And then there will be the question of where to go after that.

The Frostfang Sea quest line sends you to Butcherblock, but I am wondering if we shouldn’t start looking into some more dungeon-like group content.  Maybe Stormhold over in Antonica.  There is a series of quests for it both in Qeynos and inside the zone itself, and the encounters are all tuned for groups.

Plus I haven’t been in there at level since early 2005.

A Swashbuckler in New Halas

Okay, if I had known I was going to get a spiffy outfit like this as part of the New Halas quest line, I would have rolled a swashbuckler and not a peppermint berserker first.

Frozen Swashbuckler

Now if I could just use dyes as in LOTRO to change the colors.

Do you hear me SOE?  Dyes?  Could you manage that?

You managed that in EverQuest?  Remember that hot pink?  You don’t have to go that far.

You could sell them for Station Cash.  People would buy that.  I would buy that.