Tag Archives: Thundering Steppes

Dragon Found in the Thundering Steppes

As I mentioned yesterday, as part of the EverQuest II 15th anniversary there is a dragon event going on.  Daybreak isn’t always good about indicating where events are taking place or how to join in, but this time the description seemed simple enough; dragons are attacking the spires in four zones.  I just had to go to one of four locations and I should be good.

Still, it took me a bit.  As I cycled through the locations I mostly found an absence of people.  Once I found a dead dragon, but everybody had left.  Finally I returned to the Thundering Steppes spires and saw that there were two instances of the zone up.  Of course, I picked the wrong one first.  But after I swapped to the right version of the zone I saw a huge lineup of people waiting.  This must be the place.

They have to be here for something

And sure enough not too long later a dragon appeared.

A dragon arises

I even managed to survive the encounter, which was not assured given that my guy is ten levels under the level cap.

lots of debuffs on that dragon

I had to back off a few times to let my mercenary heal me up.  But I put in enough effort to get the reward.

Goodies

The rewards are mostly for level 110 players as well.  But I will stow them away, as I have done with so much other stuff in EQII over the years.  Maybe some day.

The Search for an Ore with a Heart of Gold

Saturday night found us a bit short on players.

Gaff, who now prefers to be referred to as “El Supremo” in the guild hall, was on in multiple guises.

Likewise, Potshot was in game, as was I.

And Earl logged on, having been playing WoW up until our usual start time.

But Cerredwyn and Trucknut were out for the evening.

That meant putting on hold our return to Stormhold, the follow up to our scouting mission.  But we had enough people to run off and do something.

Since I was already in the heritage quest state of mind, having just finished on up, I suggested These Boots Were Made For…, the quest that starts in Antonica and yields the Dwarven Work Boots as a reward.  The quest takes you to a variety of locations and you have to face a few dangerous (at our level) mobs.

So we got together out at The Keep of the Ardent Needle to get the quest and get started.

The group for the night

Earl and I played our regular group characters, Earlthedogwo and Campell, while Potshot used one of his alts, Deneldir, and Gaff… well… he had a couple of Sarnaks in the low 80s which he had copied over and which joined in the group, mentoring Earl.

We grabbed the quest and then hit something of a wall with the first step.

The first step of the quest requires you to go out and harvest 15 units of wood and 15 units or iron ore from harvest nodes in the zone.  This of course got me to bring up how it used to be 100 units of each and it was like a Bataan death march of harvesting that would make you hate badgers before the end of it, as from a distance they look like ore nodes.

But we couldn’t start in on the mere 15 because Earl was shy of the mark for harvesting skills.  You need a skill level of 20 and he was sitting at 15 for both wood cutting and mining.

That sent us on a side trip to Oakmyst Forest, one of the low level zones in the maze of zones that make up the city of Qeynos.  That took a bit of time, but Earl got his skill up and we began to search.

The wood part of the collection is always easier.  When you harvest from a wood node, you get… well… wood 90% of the time.  And when you don’t, you get rare wood, which is always good, or material to imbue items.

It is the ore nodes that get you, and the ore nodes in Antonica are aptly named.

Indifferent to your needs

The ore is callous indeed.

Ore can yield up two different things.  You can get metal, in our case we needed the raw iron clusters that come from callous ore, or you can get loam, which is quite useful in several trade skills, but which doesn’t help a bit when you need that iron.

So all of us finished up the wood part of the collection quite quickly.  And then the search for ore began.

Antonica, like most of the early zones, also has a simple method of populating the zone with harvest nodes.  A given location can spawn any of the land based nodes.  So you might harvest wood from a spot at one point, and later some roots or sandwashed stone will spawn in that location.  The chance of anything spawning at a given point appears to be about equal.

This is in comparison to zones added in expansions, where harvest nodes of a given type cluster in locations where you might reasonably expect to find them, stone and ore near rocks, roots and wood near fertile areas with plants, and so on.

I bring this bit of information up as it leads to something of a natural selection process in harvest nodes.  People around the Keep of the Ardent Needle are often starting this quest and are therefore looking for wood and ore.  They will harvest all of these nodes within site, and only a few of them will respawn as wood or ore.   And then the next group will come through, and then the next, and soon the Keep appears to be surrounded by bushes, roots, and sandwashed stone, the harvest nodes you do not need.

Couple this with the fact that ore doesn’t always give you the item you want (it appears to be biased in favor of loam, though I only say this because I always have a ton of loam and never enough metal ore) and you can spend a long time fulfilling this rather simple segment of the quest.

As I said, it is a good thing they reduced it from 100, since even at a mere 15 iron clusters we spent more time searching for ore than any other segment of the quest.

Earl and I even died trying to reach some ore that was surrounded by basilisks.  Deneldir, a warden, had to come out a revive us.

They died mining

Eventually though, and not too long after our unfortunate deaths, we all had 15 miserable pieces of iron ore to turn in to Hwal the quest giver.

Then he sent us off to collect a few more things, though these involved just killing named mobs.  A chance at last to see new places, meet new people, and kill a few of them.

The first destination was Blackburrow, which was so quick that I didn’t even take a screen shot.  We ran in, killed a gnoll excavator, got our quest update, and were on our way within a couple minutes.

The next stop was Stormhold, a chance to show Earl a good interior location.

Of course, the community helped out in diminishing the whole experience.  We had a guy named Ignition who seemed to be waiting for groups to attack named mobs so he could tag them first, so the group would kill the mob and he could take the loot.

He tags and expects you to kill

He seemed to be quite good at his asshattery, as he got us once.  The joys of open dungeons.

And then there was the space problem.  A lot of dungeon zones in EQ2 are cramped while characters and mobs can be quite large.

A hall full of scion

And this was not helped by having a pair of Sarnaks… female Sarnaks, the big ones… in our group with one tanking.  That lead to a lot of obstructed views.

Hey, down in front dragon lady!

But there was some good as well.  Our named tagging friend didn’t follow us, and named mobs seemed to be up all throughout the zone, so there were some master chest drops for the group.

The big chest with the best loot

We picked up a few of the quests in the zone, and I shared out a few others I had, so we took a bit of a tour of Stormhold, before arriving at our destination, which was the Caveroot Horror on the second level.

Again supporting my theory that all named mobs are up all the time, there were two Caveroot Horrors and the scion that spawns down there as well, just waiting for us.  That got us the quest update and another master chest drop.

Deep in Stormhold

Then it was just a matter of fighting our way back out of the zone and heading off to the Thundering Steppes, a place with which Gaff and I have a long history.

In the Steppes, it was Bloodtalon we sought.  And he was up, of course, but we hesitated before we went after him.

To get the group all together at a level that would allow everybody to get credit for killing Bloodtalon, everybody ended up at level 21, except Campell who was level 20, which made the big bird, a level 27 heroic encounter, look a little daunting.

Still, there we were and the night was slipping away, so we cleared a couple of nearby griffons, then went after him.

Bloodtalon faces our wrath

It turned out that we did not have much to worry about.  The many group buffs each of us provided ended up being more of a force multiplier than I would have guessed.  In the picture above, Bloodtalon is almost down while the group has suffered almost no damage.

Quest update!

That completed the set of tasks that Hwal had set us, it was time to return to him.  We rode back through the Thundering Stepped to Antonica, then headed to the Keep of the Ardent Needle.

While the hunting part of the night went faster than I expected, with all named mobs being up and waiting for us, the long stretch of mining for ore ate up a lot of the evening, so when we turned in that section of the quest, we also decided to turn in for the night.

Now we have to decide what to do for the next Saturday night.  If the whole crew shows up, we could probably get them through to where we made it in this quest and then carry it on to at least the 72 minute wait portion.  But it would be nice if they could do the ore harvesting ahead of time.

We’ll see where we end up.

The Dwarf from Suffern on the Steppes

A tale of 2004 and all that.

Per Kendricke’s request, based on Kytherea’s post, I present my own reminiscences on The Thundering Steppes.

Actually, the request was for a guide to the Thundering Steppes, but guides are not my stock in trade.  At least not on such short notice.

The Thundering Steppes in EverQuest II will always be that first “dangerous” and “new” zone for me.

It was late November 2004 when we started venturing into the Thundering Steppes.  Our guild started in Qeynos, and by that time Antonica was a familiar place.

Our small group was around level 17 when we went through the big gates at the eastern end of Antonica.  It was daylight, and we  found a road ahead of us.  The feeling, to me, was very much like being in EverQuest when I first ventured out of the Qeynos Hills and into the Karanas.

Part of this is natural, as the Thundering Steppes encompass some of what was once Karanas.  It has some of the same features, like an obvious road through it, towers visible along the way, and even wizard spires.

And it has big mobs.

In Antonica, as it was back in the Qeynos Hills, mobs tended to be human size or smaller.  But the Thundering Steppes, like the Karanas, has a lot more variety in size.  Giants.  Griffons.  Centaurs.  Even the skeletons come in the large, economy size.

And to add to the Karanas feel, there were scare crows, giant beetles, and even some bears. (Though not as many as there are now.)

Of course, back in December 2004, the spires were still broken, there were no griffon towers, and a lot more of the mobs were heroic encounters.

We walked up the road, undead on one side, gnolls on the other, and giant beetles up ahead.  That first venture did not last long.  We were scared.  Our equipment was poor, this being the early “wear what drops” days of the game, and even the solo encounter mobs proved to be tough.  We ran back to Antonica for another level or two before we came back.

This was the first zone where we fell back into the EverQuest normal mode of grinding mobs for experience.  There were plenty of quests, but most of them were either annoying (book quests? shoot me now!) or required a group to handle them.

This was the first zone that felt epic.  Huge.  Dangerous.

And the guard towers were barely staffed.  Only one of them offered any safety.

Not too long after we came to grips with this zone and were working through access quests to the Enchanted Lands and Zek, the Thundering Steppes went through a series of tweaks.  For a stretch the Steppes became a very solo friendly zone.  Then it got dialed back and forth for a bit until it settled down to the mix you find there today, which still has many heroic encounters, but is much more solo friendly than it was on day one.

Unlike my EverQuest screen shots, which disappeared with a bad drive some years back, I still have a collection of shots from the early days in the Thundering Steppes, a selection of which you will find below.

Nomu in the fields of the Thundering Steppes.  That scarecrow must be looking the other way.

ttsnomu.jpg

Gaff and I, doing the “Mini-me” routine.  That is the original Tier 3 plate armor look.  My oven mitts were a rare drop as I recall.  Gaff made all our armor once we decided we could no longer get by with drops.  I went to alchemy and made all the inks and warrior skills.

ttsmecnomu.jpg

Gaff in a fight with some gnolls.  Those are the original, pre-Splitpaw gnoll models.

Swinging for gnoll necks

Gaff putting the AOE taunt on a centaur encounter.  The cents were ALL heroic encounters back in those days.

Taunting centaurs

In the ravine of the undead that runs through the zone, Gaff taking on a skeleton.  Like the centaurs, all skellies were heroic back then.

Skeleton smash!

Gaff suffering from the dreaded “30 degree angle” bug.  Here he looks like a fridge magnet stuck to the wall of the ravine.

Not actually stuck to the wall...

Same bug, with him hanging out over the ravine.

Hanging out... literally

Gaff square dancing with a griffon.

Swing your partner 'round and 'round...

And, finally, proof that I did more out there than take pictures of Gaff getting beat on.  Here he is actually being healed by me!

Nomu actually healing