LONG post-Low Level Memory Lane and Blackburrow

EQ related discussion about Druid life in general.
Post Reply
Posts: 65
Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:48 am

LONG post-Low Level Memory Lane and Blackburrow

Post by Mallorn »

So, a short re-cap of an old dungeon I used to hit turned into a huge journal entry-style story combining my old school experiences of EQ with a newer, lower leveled character play-through in 2013. Lots of tangents along the way, and lots of use of the phrase “back in the day,” with experiences many of us shared and suffered through. I warned you; enjoy.

I think the majority of players today have quite a history with the game; the majority of people I bump into climbing levels with today are players that have returned recently. Like so many others I played in college but quit when I got married, started a new job and had little ones in the house. Now that the kids are a little older my evenings are a little more stable, and free-to-play lured me back into firing up my old account. Nostalgia struck hard, and I have been enjoying re-learning the old and catching up with the new for these past few months.

I think all of us plain one main character and class, but and I don't know of anyone who has never tried having an alternate character or class at times. How the heck would you know what you wanted to play from the login screen anyway? In fact, the first 6-8 months of my gameplay, starting in 1999, I was playing a barbarian shaman, and spent a lot of time in the dungeon Blackburrow. I remember being pissed when I would see druids doing all of the things I wanted to do; nuking better, SoW and ports, snare; I decided I wanted in on that, I wanted to travel the map with ports and be a better soloer; so I switched. My main has forever since has been a Halfling druid.

Back in 2000-2002 I played a mage to lvl 22 and spent a lot of time with a rogue alt, going to lvl 31. I enjoyed the complexity of the melee rogue, but in the current game with mercs and few groups at low level I didn't see myself resurrecting him. However, I always was interested in shadow knights, and with the XP cap removed I rolled one.

Here is my experience so far with the lower levels of the current game.

I must say, if you are a beginning character, I don't know how the hell anyone would give it much of a chance, unless they had a friend or loved one taunting them to get into the game. There is a big learning curve even for me, starting a new class, and I know where spells are in PoK, how to travel, soul binding, all those little details. Anyways, I have recently tried the tutorial maps and wanted to skip those and check out the newbie areas of crescent reach, to get a feel for some new content. For reference, I haven't gotten mercs, so that I can raise my own skills through slower leveling, but I have twinked with a couple of decent weapons and a good shield (love no AC cap on shields).

The lower levels are so vanilla it is a painful chore. Fill up your inventory with bags, find some food, find some spells. Starting out with no cash might help improve the feel, since each incremental step would be something new, but I’m not patient enough for that slow of the grind. I’ll leave that to the brave souls that play on the progressive servers; they can look at their spellbooks to lvl 35 just fine without me. Finally at lvl 7 & 8 I was getting some spells and was doing pretty well in the newbie part of crescent reach. Lvl 10 is where the story gets interesting.

So, ding level 10 and I was ready to re-live some of my old stomping grounds. So qeynos hills en route Blackburrow it is; I know I hunted here with my very first character, and I hunted there A LOT, and likely with my druid as well. Back in the day you were constantly running back to the bank to store gold, make change into plat, sell stuff, and would have an orgasm over finding a cracked staff for a 1hb weapon. This all came flooding back as my new character is strolling through qeynos hills. I recognized the guard tower, knew exactly where the entrance was after ten years. Then, I met my first significant encounter; the rabid bear.

So, I'm lvl 10 and tough stuff in 2013 and I am gingerly whacking whatever I pass along. Blues are not terribly hard. I see a rabid bear and a voice in my head says "oh, I used to not like this guy," so I automatically say "it's 2013 and I'm going to kick your ass!" It wasn't a hard fight, and soon I was strolling along after the kill. To be continued…

I walk into Blackburrow and there are gnolls freaking everywhere and all I remember from old times were trains, trains and more trains, particularly down the main ramp to the right as you enter the dungeon. I stroll around, finally find a blue and as soon as I start in on it a couple of grey cons jump in. "Ahh, you little adding pricks" I think, and at like 40% health the first gnoll started to flee! I get another add or two in the process but luckily handle in all. No freaking wonder this was such a train heavy zone when 30+ people were trying to level up here. These gnolls have no backbones, and they are roaming all over the place. In fact, I don’t know when I even learned much of the concept of grouping; I remember people starting to fight mobs I was on, shamelessly. Stealing from kills was very common; I still try to loot as soon as possible, often during a fight, and I think it is from ninja looting scars from back this far.

Okay, encounter is done and I decide to sit and rest to get back some mana and health. New change; out of combat you regen mana and health so stinking fast but back in the day we had to sit for freaking ever. No wonder I have memories of the game being more social before; people were sitting around resting/meditating. Meditating was even worse, staring at your damn spell book. All the time I spent in chat, and on forums, and doing whatever else was just waiting to get to play more. In fact, I think I’ll think more favorably of the game now that I don’t see general chat filled up non-stop; hopefully some people are getting to actually play.

I digress, I was done with a fight and ready to med. What, I can’t rest and med? What the hell is this buff, a rabies curse? Oh crap, the freaking rabid bear infected me with a disease that lasts for 30+ minutes! No wonder I have bitter memories of this in the past; nowadays this is an annoyance, back in the day this would shut a player down for half an hour.

Now, the end of my story had to do with my own train, 2013 shadow knight style, but before I go there I want to comment on drops. Back in the day kids, we didn’t have bags of platinum or the bazaar and we had to save every damn copper piece we could. I remember spending a lot of time trying to get money; in fact, I usually would med in east commons to watch prices on the in-zone auction going on and I would sell porting services between having full mana for actual leveling. I remember spending nearly 24 hours of game time for the paw of opalla; a big time item there, a primary item with +9 wis! I remember selling it later for 4,000 platinum and nearly fainting from all that loot, it was so heavy I could barely walk, and I almost considered doing it again for that much money a second time. Wow. Times change. Now lots of mobs drop the same cash that hill giants dropped then, and the gems and other vendor trash make me process my successes by the thousands of plat. “Oh, I made two levels and got 3K plat more saved in the bank this weekend” etc. Sheesh.

Back to Blackburrow, one quirk I realized was all of the stupid drops. Lots of the gnolls had 4-5 things in their inventory; a lot of crap quality vendor loot; hides or furs, bones, lore armor pieces with like 1 AC on them, lots of ore pieces. All this crap would sell for copper pieces, maybe silver, no way to get ahead. Ore pieces were what pissed me off the most. I don’t recall if they dropped like this in the past, but what are new players supposed to think of all of this ore? I know what I would think, “oh, it would be cool if I could make something cool with this. Better yet, make some fat cash from my hard work.” But alas, it isn’t meant to be. Tradeskills is best for giving you carpel tunnel syndrome and draining the platinum in your bank. A good way to waste my time researching it, yes.

Alright, to wrap up I give my train story. It was inevitable, I was fighting one gnoll, which turned into three. As the first hit 40% it ran and for some dumb reason I thought “what is the worst that can happen?” and let it go. It brought back a couple, and I was thinking I could take it. In the flurry of activity I realized a couple more had joined in, and there was no way out for me. The fights are somewhat slow enough that I had time to ponder it; it isn’t like I would die in a tick (six seconds). I could run, and maybe even make it. It was either run, or die. Train, or suck it up. I might be able to take one guy out, but definitely not all of them.

This is where my last strong memory flash hit me.

You see, back when we played in 1999 we were desperately trying to get experience and to get ahead. None of this “merc gets you to lvl 60 crap” you see today. Blood, sweat, tears and many, many hours of your precious TIME. Your real life dropped off your radar and you invested it all into a virtual game kicking you any chance it could. Nobody was around to resurrect you to regain experience, or to summon your corpse. Worst yet, when you died all of that crap you had on you very likely will be in that spot you fell to, the one you don’t even know how to crawl down to, the one with levitate and camo is no big deal in 2013 but was a game killer for you then. There was no option of sucking it up and dying, you ran, and to hell with anyone. In fact, I am convinced trains were invented in EQ, people running to the zone to reach an escape from the impending game ender of losing all of your stuff. People were at least nice enough to type out “TRAIN!” in /ooc. That reminds me, my wicked-fast typing speed of today I credit with EQ, one (and only?) skill-set that I developed that actually helps me in the real world. Being able to type “TRAIN!” while navigating a 3D world with mouse and keyboard is a hell of a feat. Grouping only honed the skills even more, as you are doing a hell of a lot more at once, and had other people’s character’s lives in your hands, raising the stakes.

So, here I am, 2013 with a shadow knight who just got lvl 11, and I was going down. Did I train? After all the years of seeing those trains, and all those poor corpses I had seen so many times before, I made the only choice I could.

I stood my ground.
User avatar
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jun 22, 2013 10:54 pm
Location: Drinal

Re: LONG post-Low Level Memory Lane and Blackburrow

Post by Staree »

You know....someone state I am wrong but I think EQ is the only game where REAL trains exist. Trains in other games evaporate after running about 10 feet away from the NPC...lol
Nice reading :)
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:23 pm

Re: LONG post-Low Level Memory Lane and Blackburrow

Post by Relient »

This was a good read. Thanks for the story :)
Interesting point too, don't really see trains in other games or even much in modern eq. Just come back at the guild lobby soul binder with all your gear, no big deal...
Post Reply