Another one of those posts that starts with “back in the day…” and which recounts how things used to be during the stone age of online gaming. Writing about it is not necessarily advocating for its return, but it certainly made things different. Anyway, on to it…
Back in the day, back in TorilMUD, there were things that were very different than we see them now in modern MMORPGs, and there were things that were very much the same.
It was all text, all the time back then
One thing that was the same was money.
Everybody needed it, the economy needed it, but nobody started out with any and the only real way to get any was to kill NPCs that spawned in the world for their loot.
There were also quests. But quests were not very common, annoying to find, and could be frustratingly difficult to complete. I have gone into the way questing used to be back in the day. There was nobody standing around waiting to tell you to kill ten rats. And the end result was more often an item than any money.
So that left murdering the residents of the world and looting their still warm corpses as the only real money making enterprise.
Wholesale slaughter would get you some coins. But for the most part that was a pretty slow way to earn money, at least at lower levels. Later, in a leveling group in place like the pirate ship, a good group could end up with a nice pile of cash.
But you, new adventurer, won’t be doing that or zones or anything of the sort for a long while.
And that went double for elves and half elves who started on the Island of Evermeet, in the elvish city of Leuthilspar and were stuck there for the first 20 levels of their career. I will focus on the plight of the elves, since that is what I am most familiar with.
So to supplement the tiny trickle of coins, you would have to also grab whatever else your victims were carrying. Swords, bits and pieces or armor and clothing, random items of junk, whatever you could pry from their cold, dead fingers. You would collect all of this to sell to one of the many vendors in Abeir-Toril.
As a young citizen of Leuthilspar, you would head out to Kobold Village or the Faerie Forest in search of adventure, experience, and loot. At least, once you figured out how to get there. Eventually, if you were successful… by which I generally mean that you did not die and have to go find your corpse in the dark… you would have a pile of coins and some items to vendor.
In Kobold Village there was a couple of vendors, but as your became more seasoned you began to notice that those vendors paid very little for your items. That was the way of the world. The buy and sell prices from vendors were influence by your race, your class, your charisma stat, and the general level of wickedness of the person who created the zone.
The young elvish adventurer could make much more money, multiples of what the stingy vendors out in the world were offering, if said adventurer just dragged all of that loot back to a vendor in Leuthilspar.
The key was, which vendor.
Leuthilspar Locations (click to embiggen)
The good part was that all the vendors were pretty close to the square at city center and near to the bank.
The down side was that the vendors were all pretty picky about what they would buy. Your options were:
1 – Talidnal’s Goods and Supply Shop – Sold random supplies like rations and small bags, would buy miscellaneous items of the same sort. You had to sell the red feather from the traveling faerie here.
2 – The Weapon Shop of Leuthilspar – Bought and sold weapons and only weapons. Notable for being one of the vendors with special responses. Would point out in all caps that this was weapon shop if you tried to sell something else and would claim that they could buy items flagged “no value” because they just bought a Doombringer earlier.
3 – The Scribe Shop of Leuthilspar – Sold scroll, including the scroll of identify. These cost 2 platinum coins, which was more than any new player could afford, but which was the only way to see the full stats and information on any given item. Except, of course, if the item was flagged as “no identify,” in which case you just wasted 2 plat.
4 – Silyonlanster’s Fine Gems and Jewels – Sold some gems that had no purpose I ever found, and would buy any gems you happened to have.
5 – Norlan’s Pet Shop – Bought nothing as far as I could tell, but would sell you a very expensive pet that would fight for you and which would be gone forever if it died… or if you logged off. A lot of us bought one of these exactly once.
6 – The Armorer of Leuthilspar – Sold some very heavy bronze armor and would buy anything flagged as armor, which did not include leather armor from Kobold Village or the Cloak of Forest Shadows.
7 – The Leviathan Shipwright – Sold rafts and canoes for crossing water. You just had to have one in your inventory (but not in a container) for them to work. Would buy them back at a deep discount.
8 – The Green Griffon Pub – Sold alcoholic beverages. Never bought anything I had to sell.
9 – Tilanthra’s Shop of Alchemy – Bought and sold potions.
10 – The Magic Shop of Leuthilspar – Sold a number of scrolls and wands, despite there already being a scroll shop. Would only buy wands and the like. This is where you would sell that Wand of Thunderous Rage that was in the garbage heap and which never worked for me over the last 15 years.
11 – Morlanthrtilan’s Fine Clothier – Had nothing for sale as I recall, but would buy that leather armor from Kobold Village that the armor shop turned its nose up at.
12 – The Blue Dragon Inn and Restaurant – Sold oddly specific and very expensive food at various times and would buy, for reasons I could never determine, arrows and quarrels.
13 – Qulazoral’s Barrels and More – Sold you a skin or a barrel of water after your first issued water skin evaporated after you emptied it (I think they finally fixed that) but before you finally got a flagon from Bandor. Would buy liquid containers, if you ever found one.
There were some other vendors in town. Each guild had a vendor that might give you a few more coins for specific items. But in general, it was vendor row on main street that handled your needs. You just needed to run around a lot until you figured out who bought what. It helped that what vendors purchased ended up in their inventory for sale again, a feature I miss, and which was last seen in EverQuest as I recall.
And even then you would end up with a few items that no vendor would purchase, but which were not flagged “no value.” There were a few items I would have to travel to Mithril Hall, way up in the north beyond Neverwinter, in order to vendor. I think the dead rat was on that list.
Still, in some ways, the elves did not have it so bad. The vendors gave decent prices and were all centrally located. This was not necessarily the case in Waterdeep or Baldurs gate, and good luck selling things way down in Calimport.
And vendors in Leuthilspar never closed. Elves don’t need sleep. In other towns vendors would often close for some or all of the night cycle of a given day. The time translation was one real world minute for one game hour, so you might end up sitting in a shop for 6 or 8 or 12 minutes waiting for the vendor to open up again.
And with all of that, you still ran the risk of selling something of value to other players… something you could sell or trade… to a vendor without knowing. As I mentioned above, you needed a scroll of identify to see what an item did. There were no stats on demand and equipment was not color coded by the now standard formula (gray, white, green, blue, purple) to indicate relative worth. Of course, once you sold the item to a vendor, it cost you a lot more to buy it back. It seemed that vendors were in the business of making money… or at least acting like they were there to make money as opposed to just being a place to dump your crap.
Today though, we can see it all. Stats show up when we hover the cursor over and item, and it will even show what we have equipped in the relevant slot so we can instantly compare. Items names are color coded, as noted above. And not only will vendors buy just about anything you have (and sell it back to you at the same price if sold something by mistake) but we are at the point in games like Rift where there is a button that will automatically sell all of your “trash” grade loot to the vendor with a single press.
As I said at the top, I am not exactly hankering to go back to the way vendors used to be. But it is interesting to see how much has changed, and one wonders if it was all for the better.