Tag Archives: Skyshrine: City of Dracur

Level 100 in Norrath

It is always a bit of a problem for me in EverQuest II.  I find a zone that is about the right level that I can work though to the end… and then I am at the end and have to go someplace else.

The last time I checked in from Norrath I was wrapping up the Withered Lands.  I had finished the overland zone and had gone off to the instanced area, Skyshrine: City of Dracur.  There I had fell short of finishing up everything when faced with an ornery boss dragon, Ovilas.

Looking on at Ovalis

I couldn’t best him either solo or with a merc healing me, so it looked like I ought to find a new path in order to get to level 100.

I wasn’t badly equipped.  Sigwerd had made it up to level 70 when I took one of the occasional free boosts that Daybreak hands out and jumped him to level 95.  That boost came with a set of gear that was better than any drop I received over the length of the Withered Land and, aside from Ovilas there, I was able to face most foes solo.  Those that I could not solo were generally doable with a merc, though I did have to be careful not to pull half the zone.  I could still be swamped if I wasn’t at least a bit self-aware.

And so the search began.

This ought to be an easy thing.  You can Google the zones by level for EverQuest II and find a nice chart at one of the wikis.

But what is the right level and what you can handle and how you actually get there are always complications.  This is made more difficult by the fact that there is quite a bit of overlap when it comes to zones in a given level range.  95-100 covers several expansions worth of content, often gated by various quest lines and by levels of difficulty that can vary greatly.

For all the problems WoW has, knowing where to go generally isn’t one of them.  And, I suppose, this is another answer to the question about why their expansions have levels.  It doesn’t just gate, but also segregates content.

Anyway, in looking at that list on the Wiki I decided to hit the Tranquil Sea, only to find out when I got there that I had done a lot of the lead-in quests for the first part of the zone about two years back, when I had boosted Sigwerd to level 95.  He’d even made level 96 there.  But as to where to pick up after two years away, I was at a loss.

Feeling a bit optimistic, I then tried Zek: The Scourge Wastes, a re-use of the old Zek zone, one of my favorites back in the day.  It was listed as level 100 and it was on the list of locations available from the spires.  I was level 98, close enough right?  However, selecting that as a destination only informed me that I did not meet the requirements to enter the zone.  There is a quest to get there, and you can only get the quest after you hit 100.

Then there was another zone on the list… the name of which has already escape my brain… that seemed about right but you needed to learn the language of dragons which was a quest from the old days which involved a dungeon in Lavastorm and a quest chain that I looked into and then gave up on pretty quickly.

And then there was Cobalt Scar, where I started early on, gave up on, then returned to after the other paths did not seem so fruitful.  I think the problem was that I took the spires to the zone, and that drops you in one end of the zone, but not the end where any quests lines start.

Cobalt Scar on the map

This was not helped by the fact that apparently at some point I visited and started up one of the quest chains, so the camp part way into the zone that seemed like an obvious place to start… was not at all a place where I could start.  Eventually I got that sorted out as I found where I had left off, which was with the otter-like Othmir down on the beach.

Osh and Nika of the Othmir

The Othmir quest line carries on down the shore, dealing with the usual collections quests and a hostile walrus-like people encroaching on their turf, but then takes a dark turn as you are sent on down the beach into what becomes the Othmir version of The Walking Dead.

Zombie otter people attacking the otter people

There is a fairly sizeable set of quests where you help the surviving and besieged Othmir fortify their outpost them investigate what is going on, which involves travel through both time and space.  At one point I was sent off to another zone and somehow totally lost the thread of the story and ended up in the Tower of Frozen Shadow, which is in the Great Divide zone, which happens to be, for the most part, much lower level than what I was looking for.

Tower of Frozen Shadow

Game for anything that would get me along to level 100, I went into the tower, grabbed the inevitable quest, and became a bit lost.  I went to look up information about the zone and ended up with the walk-through for the original EverQuest version of the tower, which told me to go kill the big undead gnoll.  This actually turned out to be correct for the EverQuest II version of the tower as there was indeed a gnoll guarding the mirror that serves as a gateway into the rest of the tower.  The problem was that the gnoll was epic.  No, really.  All the mobs in the zone are.

Not the gnoll, but the same warning

Again I have run into the problem of being able to tell what I ought to be able to kill and what I should avoid.  Ovalis, up at the top, slaughtered my merc and I, so I was a bit concerned that this guy might wipe the floor with us, named Epic 2 full group raid mob that he was.

But it was no problem.  My merc and I killed him handily, no problem at all, barely an inconvenience.  So I carried on with the quest… until it required me to take on a whole room of such mobs.  That was a bit too much even for the merc and I, even when the merc was able to ress me mid-fight for a second run.

This is too epic

Thus thwarted, I turned back from the tower and began to look in earnest for the Othmir undead story thread I had lost.  Eventually I found it, got back to Cobalt Scar, from whence I was sent off to the Eastern Wastes, another zone in the Destiny of Velious expansion, to run down some quests at the Othmir camp on the beach.  There I met the leader of the Othmir.

King of the cute

They live alongside, and are constantly battling with, a race called the Yha-lei, which I can only describe as what murloc would look like if they lived in Norrath.

You know what you are

I did the Lore and Legend quest for them, the trophy for which is a trident described as “Glubble Bluggle Blurggle Bluggle Glubble.”  If that isn’t a straight knock-off of murlocs then I don’t know what is.  Unless they were in the EverQuest Scars of Velious expansion, we know where these came ceom.

Again, after being side-tracked for a bit with that I got back on the story thread, ended up back in Cobalt Scar, and seemed to wrap up the whole zombie Othmir quest chain… though the zombies seemed to still be swarming.  I guess that is how it always ends up.  But there was a quest chain out of there which sent me to a remote camp which, in turn, eventually sent me off to the New Combine fort where the spires dropped me when I entered the zone and into a series of quests that were almost at level for me.  At last!

Following those along for a stretch got me through level 99 and to the magic number.

Level 100 at last

At that point I finished up the quests I had opened and headed off to Yun Zi and his vendor assistant to pick up the level 100 equipment set that was available for characters level 100 and above who had completed the 2017 Days of Summer quest line.

While, as I said, the level 95 gear I got with the boost two years back was pretty good, this new set was a serious boost in stats.  I took before/after screen shots just to see how much of a boost it was.

Upper stats old vs. new

lower stats old vs. new

Aside from my shield block percentage, everything went up by a huge amount.

So, of course I made my way back to the Withered Lands to test all this gear on Ovalis, who had so soundly defeated me before.  Things went a bit differently this time.

Calling all crazy damage numbers!  Boom! Headshot!

He was no problem now.

Of course, I had just rushed into the instance to slay him, forgetting to pick up the mid-point quests so I could complete the zone.  But at least I had made it to level 100.

Which naturally left me once again looking for my next path forward in Norrath.

Through the Withered Lands

The trick with returning to EverQuest II is generally finding some task or zone I can get into, something that will keep me going for a bit.  It doesn’t have to be the latest content… as noted, I am not sure I could even find that… but something at about the right level.

As I said in last week’s post, I went with Bhagpuss’ suggestion and started out on the Days of Summer quest.  That gave me a couple days of wandering Norrath and, as it turned out, having to find and roam through some of the later expansions as part of the 2017 series of quests also brought me to some content that looked about right.

Somewhere pretty… not sure which expansion

The goal was to get my level 96 berserker into something and get him closer to level 100.  And as I went through various zones I spotted one that looked about right as a starter.  I jotted down the name as I flew through it to get the update for the summer quest.  It was The Withered Lands.

Getting the last bit for the Days of Summer quest

However, when I had finished up the Days of Summer quests and decided to go find it again with Sigwerd, my berserker, that left me wondering where it was.  I had the name, but in the whirlwind tour of Norrath I had misplaced the where.  It doesn’t appear on the big travel map.

Oh the places you’ll go in Norrath

As it turns out it is a zone from the Destiny of Velious expansion, which is from 2011, so I am still seven years behind on expansions.  You have to first travel to The Great Divide and, from the bell there hop over to the New Combine flight point.  However, there is another flight point in between you and that, so I ended up trying to wrong flight point a couple of times before I got that settled.

From the correct flight point it is a quick flight/zone transition to the zone.

The zone itself it is very linear, consisting of a long, bending canyon.

Welcome to the Withered Lands

There are two flight points in the zone, but both are only to move to other locations.  My little red arrow is where you land while the second flight point… the little set of angel wings… is the far end of the zone and the quest chains that guide you through it.

In between are a some quest hubs, done in the classical fashion where you go grab half a dozen or so quests and run out to slay or explore until you’re all done, then you run back for the big set of turn ins.

There is fast travel… or at least hands free travel, it isn’t all that fast… between the quest hubs.  Each of them has a stable stop so you can take a horse between them.

The stable stops along the way

If you have a flying mount you can move about the zone over most of the mobs.  However, there is an unassailable mob flying around the zone that will knock you out of the sky as it passes by.  When that happens you’re down in the mud and cutting your way through the locals.  So sometimes it is better to just take the horse and let the locals look on as you pass.

Can touch me on this mount!

The quests are fairly standard.  EQII does a reasonable job marking where you need to go on the mini-map, though I sometimes feel that has released the quest writers from ever feeling the need to give you a hint as to where you might need to go.  There were a few quests that involved scouting a location that was deep in a cave complex, but the only hint you got was a blue mark on the map.

And, of course, there are the usual comical oddities that come with quests and interacting with the locals.

So there are two of you now?

The zone started out a little bit below me in level.  But that was fine as it let me get back into the swing of things without having to worry too much about fighting and correct use of my combat skills.  I wasn’t one-shotting things with auto-attack, but mobs went down pretty quickly.  As I went further though, the mobs started to catch up a bit in level.  But I leveled up as well, so the experience wasn’t too bad.

As I got to the last quest hub, Alivan, I got the achievement for exploring the zone.

Been there achievement

I don’t know what it is about achievements in EQII, but they don’t motivate me the way they do in WoW, or even Rift.  I don’t know why that is.  Maybe it is because they showed up so late in the life of the game that I don’t think about them.  I am always happy when I get an achievement in WoW, even the dumb ones, but in EQII my response is always a bit of a blank look.

Of course, in WoW achievements lead to things like unlocking flying, so maybe that helps.  I am not sure.

At Alivan the quest chain ends and you are essentially done with the zone.  You get a thank you from a big dragon and you’re set.

A job done, if not well done or done well

There is, however, that flight point Aliva.  It only has one stop, and that is Skyshrine: City of Dracur.

Having no other plans, I headed off for there.  Arriving, I found it to be one of those confusing mixes when it comes to difficulty that seems to be a specialty of EQII.

The main area itself is a hub in the midst of three city segments, each populated by heroic encounters.  Those, according to the help, are supposed to be set for groups of three players.  And, sure enough, after picking up some quests and wandering out into the city, I found those encounters to be difficult enough that if I got adds I was pretty much dead.

However, EQII has a solution when you need a small group, which is good because I saw nobody else in the zone the whole time I was there. (Probably not surprising for a zone from 2011.)  The solution are mercenaries.  I had forgotten about those until I died a couple of times and was pondering what to do.  I had a mystic for a mercenary who happily buffs and heals me when he is called up, not to mention kicking the crap out of any mob that looks at me sideways.

Me and my merc

But I didn’t always need him for heroic encounters.  There is a whole series of time travel quests, which I quite enjoyed, that send you off to various instanced bits of content, which is full of heroic encounters that I could easily handle solo.  So I dismissed my mercenary, if only to give the mobs half a chance and save the 20g every 30 minutes price.

There is an overly complex method of determining the difficulty of a mob that has to do with its level, whether or not it is flagged heroic, and the decorations around its name where the thickness of the frame, the barbs, and the up arrows all indicate… something.  More is more difficult, and the mob having a name is am additive as well.

Given all that, the level 100 heroic dragon mob in the screen shot above, which is named, has three up arrows, and a barbed frame thick enough to use as a sewer pipe, ought to be pretty tough.  Certainly tougher than the one in the screen shot below.

Looking on at Ovalis… also, the Halloween event turned my weapon into a shovel, of which I approve

Ovalis there is only level 98 after all, which made him my level at the time.  He looks more on par to this other named dragon, which I did solo without a blink. (Though, admittedly, he only has two up arrows, so he is easy according to the guide.)

Another named dragon… so many

However, the first dragon, which was early in the quest chain, went down so fast I barely had time to get that screen shot, while Ovalis was a different story altogether.

Ovalis is at the end of the quest chain and might be, for all I know, the last mob before you’re done.  I don’t know because I couldn’t finish him.  He was in an instance of heroic encounters that I was able to mow down solo.  But when I got to him he didn’t have much problem taking me out.  So I got out my mercenary and took another run at him, but he took the two of us out about as easily as he did just me.

It turns out that Ovalis is actually a boss fight, unlike all of the other named heroic, graphically festooned mobs I had run across up until then.  There is a run down of his fight on the wiki, but I wasn’t able to get through it on a few tries, so I started looking around at how to up my game.

I figured out that mercenaries can now be leveled up, which opens up equipment slots on them.  So I blew about two thirds of my hoarded Station Cash… Daybreak is probably tickled pink that I finally spent some of it after all these years… and boosted my merc up to level 10.

I then went off and crafted a full set of level appropriate armor for him.  Sigwerd is an armor smith, and I had be harvesting along the way, so that was easy enough.  I also managed to get his armor smithing skill to level 100 while I did that.

There were some other open slots for my mercenary, but those seemed to be for level 100 items, so were out of reach for me.   But otherwise as well equipped as I could make him, I headed back out to the Withered Lands and Skyshrine: City of Dracur, taking the various flight points and horse runs, to get back to Ovalis in order to challenge him once again.

And after all of that I was defeat yet again, just as easily as before.

So I am just shy of finishing the Withered Lands.  There isn’t much else to do in the zone, so I am off to find the next zone to try.  There is currently a boost to experience on the server, so I would like to get Sigwerd to level 100.

But overall the Withered Lands gave me a good solid chunk of content, which is all I am asking for really.