Toldain Talks

Because reading me sure beats working!


Toldain started as an Everquest character. I've played him in EQ2, WoW, Vanguard, LOTRO, and Zork Online. And then EVE Online, where I'm 3 million years old, rather than my usual 3000. Currently I'm mostly playing DDO. But I still have fabulous red hair. In RL, I am a software developer who has worked on networked games, but not MMORPGS.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Helping Constable Underhill

I spent some time last week playing some LOTRO with an alt, Grumbili, a dwarven champion, all spin moves with an axe in each hand. Grumbili, who was palling around with Shereinis and Pinewsl, was sent by Aragorn to talk to Constable Underhill of Combe, a village just east of Bree.

Constable Underhill took us into an instance where we investigated a cave that had been visited before in an earlier quests in LOTRO's main storyline quest arc. We rescued someone then, and cleared out some bandits, but there's more going on there. We followed Constable Underhill throught the cave, and helped him fight off some nasty bugs named NeekerBeekers. Then we ran across a dwarf by the name of Skorgrim (a recurrent villain) torturing and killing a bandit leader.

Skorgrim noticed us and sent his Dourhand minions upon us, while he fled. We had no opportunity to pursue him, so he lived to trouble us again another day.

There's not much new in LOTRO in the way of technology, but elements that are well-known are used much more freely and combined in a way to tell a more powerful story.

Instances, for example, often use the same terrain that exist in overland zones. NPC's will turn up in different places depending on where you are in the overall story arc. The "overwhelmed by fear" game mechanic is used to justify making you watch key events without interfering with them, as any good MMORPG'er would otherwise do. But since that mechanic is widely used in non-story encounters, it doesn't seem forced. And escort quests allow Turbine to set the pacing of a story or encounter, while giving you opportunities for breaks. Encounters are a lot less predictable than they are in EQ2, often there are timed waves, or swarms, along with puzzles that can be solved to reduce the issue. This is the best part of LOTRO, along with the writing.

Controlling instances via escort quests and fear pauses seems to have gotten all of the game devs "I must control the encounter" ya-yas out. Fights are won via any onld way you can manage to win. There are often puzzles that can be solved that will help you split. But there's none of the "just follow the script" in fights. The script is for the story, not the fight. The script is that ogre that you thought was safely locked in the cage getting out. Deal with things in any way you can. There's no "does not work on epics".

And that's something I can get behind.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Difference Between Enchanters and Sorcerors

Overheard on guild voice chat:

Tinkrebel(Phritz's coercer): Ok, now we invis and take those guys out.

Pakq (Warlock): Why invis? I'll just take 'em out!

Tinkrebel: You don't even fight, you just invis and burn them.

Eh, this is faster.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

EverSims II

Tipa has some complaints about EQ2's personal customization system

First, you can only put in your appearance armor slots what you can wear in your main armor slots. So, plate wearers can look like they are wearing caster robes, but casters can’t look like they are wearing plate. Also, low level characters can’t appear to be wearing armor above their level.

I'm not that interested in wearing plate armor, but I think I'd look really good in some black leather, maybe with some trim that sets off my red hair.

Second, there are no appearance slots for weapons. While you might keep a favorite suit of armor in your appearance slot, once you’ve upgraded a weapon, you have to bag the old one, no matter how cool it looks.

Well, Fezzik tends to use two handed staffs these days exclusively, and well, a stick is just a stick. But it's a good point.


Kids These Days

When I was level 36, I got my levels the old-fashioned way, with experience from killing mobs. And I had to walk there, too, even when it was snowing. And it was uphill both ways!

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blackscale Blowout

I spent a couple hours this weekend running Blackscale Sepulcher with some guildies. This out-of-the-way group instance is on Cacotoxic Stain in the Bonemire, in Kingdom of Sky.

It features a ring event that pops a named with some pretty decent (for the level) gear. To complete this ring event, your group must kill four Stewards of the Seal within a very short period of time. There's just one problem, they aren't all up at the same time. So their placeholders must be pulled and killed. Complicating matters further, the Stewards will despawn quickly if left alone. So what results is a crowd control exercise. The Stewards must be pulled and put in cold storage until all four are spawned. Then they must be killed in short order.

I have been called upon many times to mez one, then two, then three of these mobs in support of a group. This is where I first realized the importance of switching gear when I faced a task that was primarily mezzing. As in, I almost killed one mob just with the procs off my mez here once. So, after that, I got rid of all my proc gear and buffs when doing a big mez job. Procs can cause other problems on mobs with high resistances. In particular, if they resist your remez, but not the proc, you've got an awake mob on your hands, and he's not going to be happy with you.

However, last weekend I was playing my bruiser, and so the crowd control used was root, not mez. It worked well enough, particularly since we had a warlock and a conjuror in our group to share the root load. Apparently Stewards don't really have any ranged attacks. Who knew?

We were mentored to level 75, so most of the zone was green to us. We got a good drop that the level 75 can use, I don't remember what. And with all of us mentoring, she got a lot of exp. After we cleared the nameds, we did something I like to call "mages have AE fun and pretend they are tanks". We never wiped, though it was close. I think we must have had four groups pulled at one point, and there were definitely deaths involved. But not as many as you might think.

I was "tanking", but there's no way I can keep aggro on everything when there is all-out AE. Fortunately, we were strong enough compared to the mobs to be able to handle most of it. The biggest problem we had was when one healer ninja afk'ed and the other, being 2-boxed, got hung up on a corner. So there was a pull (not by ME!) of multiple heroic encouters and no healers. All I can say is, thank Rallos for Feign Death!

Anyway, it's a fun zone, and pretty fast to do, if a bit out of the way.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Be Prepared. Or not.

It seems a WoW player who calls himself Prepared has got a setup whereby he boxes 36 toons at once in World of Warcraft. Via Alice.

He says he does it because he wants to invade Ironforge or Stormwind when he hits the level cap. If you don't know WoW, these are two of the main cities there. So he's PvP focused. And he means business:

It costs me exactly $5711 in subscription costs per year with 36 accounts on the 6 month pay schedule. Not bad considering I'm looking at it like it's a hobby and there are more expensive hobbies out there than World of Warcraft. :)

Later he says,

When Wrath of the Lich King is released, I plan to be at the store when it opens and will purchase 36 copies of it. With tax, it should be about $1500 for all of them.

And I thought I was kind of obsessed with MMO's. He's right of course, there are hobbies that are much more expensive. Collecting Ming vases and Rembrandts, for example.

I've also got some mages and priests that I'm currently working on that are level 23. Once they are at level 31.9, I will stop working on them, get 16 of them to level 60 with the recruit-a-friend bonus levels and work on the shaman again.

It sounds to me like he's used the recruit-a-friend promotion to recruit himself, 24 times or so.

That's dedication. Or obsession. Or maybe both. I don't think we'll ever see this on EQ2, I doubt that many copies of EQ2 can run on one machine at the same time, it's so much more demanding of resources. Besides, 24 would be a natural limit, to field your own raid force.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Amenity Package Costs

It seems I'm obsessed with guilhalls today. Writing that title, I felt like I'm some kind of travel agent or something. There are some nice combinations of amenities that let you carry out activities efficiently from a guildhall. Anyway, I've cooked up a few spreadsheets that calculate costs and totals of such combinations, and thought I share them with you.
First, here's the basic set for grinding tradeskill writs, assuming someone is gathering the raw materials and putting them into the Depot.

If you want to dispense with the gathering, you can get the gathering hirelings for a deluxe package.

For those who focus on merchant crafting, and will buy rares via the broker. I often go directly to someone's house to buy rares, especially if they are expensive, and I'm buying a lot. This cuts against the T3 guildhall, since there will probably be more zoning involved to do something like that.

Ok, for transportation, I left out the internal teleportals and the Strategist, since he seemed more of a raiders item, as handy as he might be, it doesn't work for everyday go-about-your-business stuff. Everything else seems pretty useful, though. There's a hole here. Wouldn't it be nice, for the T3 halls, to have a bell that takes one to all corresponding city zones?

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Let the elves say Amen(ities)!

So, what are all the amenities available for guildhalls? In my typical, 3000-year-old elvish (read tightwad) fashion, I'd like to know what they do and how much they cost so I can make a budget before we start spending plat like it was copper.

Niami Denmother has put together a list of amenities of interest to crafters in her usual efficient style. There's also a rundown of all amenities on's page on amenities, and they have a very complete rundown of costs and limits on their general guild hall page.

Here's some highlights

  • "I need a map" guildhalls can get a very large statue to put in the courtyard, and they are different for Freeport (named "Domination") or Qeynos (named "Resolution"). Cost is 300p and 30 million status. Good news: no upkeep cost for these guys. I think this is what is known as conspicuous consumption. And if that isn't ostentatious enough for your liking, you can get up to four guardian statues to accompany them at 50p and 5 million status each. All of these items are in a fixed location, so be sure that you don't have anything already there.
  • Stupid-large and "I need a map"-large guildhalls can buy an orrery to put anywhere they please. (Look it up, or look in the Tower of the Moon, in Maj'Dul). These guys are only 100p and 10 million status. Piece of cake. I like the way this one looks. Again, no upkeep.
  • Also in the decorative category are hall guards (1p, 100K, upkeep 2g, 500) and the Uniform Mannequin (5p, 500K status, upkeep 10g, 2500) one of which can be used to determine the uniform all all the hall guards.
  • You can buy enough amenities that you will never need to go into a city again. This includes a banker for 10p and 1 million status, with upkeep of 20g, 5K status. An NPC buyer will buy all stuff with a value (10p, 1M status, upkeep 20g, 5K status), a mender can be had for 10p and a million status, and a broker costs 10p, 1M status to buy and 20g and 5K status upkeep. That covers the basic "back to town" cycle from an adventure. Sell, repair, bank and broker for the odd salable item.
  • There's some practice fighting stuff. You can get an NPC that will spawn arena creatures (5p, 500K , upkeep 10g, 2500K), or a Training Dummy Supply Chest that will let you get a no-rent training dummy to practice on anywhere in the guildhall at the same cost.
  • There are huge options for transportation. Bells to Faydwer and Kunark, a carpet to Sinking Sands, a spire that will take you to Kingdom of Sky (with options for each of the obvious zones), and a bell that takes you to any of the original zones with bells: Antonica, Commonlands, Thundering Steppes, Nektulos, Enchanted Lands, Zek, Everfrost or Lavastorm. Whew! There's also a "port back to your house" item, and a "port to any druid ring" person. There is the Guild Strategist, who, for a mere 100p and 20 million status (upkeep 2p and 100K) will allow you to set beacons pretty much anywhere in Norrath that will stay put for 2 hours allowing anyone to port instantly from him to that spot. This one will be very popular with the raiders, I think
  • That OMFG large guildhall taking you to long to walk around? Get a set of internal teleportation pads for the low-low price of 25p and 5 million status (upkeep 50g, 25K) to cut down on all the corns and blisters.
  • Harvesting hirelings come in three varieties. The hunter harvests from dens and fish nodes, the gatherer from roots, bushes, and wood, and the miner hireling harvests from ore and gem nodes. They will harvest for 2 hours and do about 100 picks (this works out to about 200 items). When they are done, the stuff that they gathered will show up in the inventory of the person who asked them to go. Only one person at a time though, and no rares. Each costs 20p, 2M status, with 40g, 10K status upkeep.
  • You can keep all that stuff in the Harvesting Supply Depot. It has 100 slots, each capable of holding stacks of 20,000 of one item. If you craft in the guildhall, you will use the stuff from the depot by default. They are 25p, 5M status to buy and 50g, 25K status to maintain.
  • There are writ givers. Rush orders, tradeskill writs, and Kunark adventure writs each have an NPC available. Combined with transportation options and/or the Supply Depot, this could seriously speed up writ grinding. Each costs 10p, 1M status and 20g, 5K to maintain.
  • There's some things that just seem silly to me, stuff that is used once in a blue moon: A recipe salesman, a hair stylist, a guild cloak designer, a Relic and Signet salesman (maybe the hardcore raiders will like this one), a bartender that sells basic food and drink (does anyone use vendor-sold food and drink?), and a Gigglegibber Goblin Gamblin' Game vendor.

There are some very useful combos here. I think these are going to have a big effect on the game, more on that in future posts. But not the least of these changes is all the money that is going to be sucked out of the game forthwith. Expect prices to drop pretty strongly.

Living Large, Guild-style

Tuesday was LU49, and guildhalls. (Oh yeah, and some other stuff, big deal) I took a tour of the Qeynos and Freeport guildhalls and as Tipa put it, the largest is "omg, wtf, I-need-a-map large".
As I've blogged about before, my guild, Shards of Glory of Butcherblock, is working toward owning that monstrosity. We hoped to be ready at launch, but it didn't happen. We were at level 67.45 and at about 800p. Not bad, considering how large we are. And we will get there. Real soon now. I mean it.

But our work was for something sight unseen. It's a matter of pride for us, as non-raiders, and smallish. Er, make that small. Anyway, on my first look at the Qeynosian hall, I had two reactions. First (and third, and fourth, and fifth) was "Wow that's big."

The second was, "I don't really like the way this looks." I think maybe it clashes with my hair. The colors seem just a bit too neon for my taste. And the decor seems excessively ornamental. Though as Milia says, "For 1000p, it better be over the top."

I like the look of the Freeport guildhalls a lot better. Earth red floor tiles, granite-gray walls. Probably that's what we'll get, we'll hold a member poll.

I haven't seen the guildhalls in Neriak or Gorowyn yet. I find it odd that there aren't any in Kelethin, though.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Runnyeye Revisited

I had another run in Runnyeye a couple of nights ago. It was very different from my previous adventure. In a good way.

I was invited by Assault, and joined him and four other members of Genesis, not all of whos names I can remember. Assault claims that I leveled with him in Rivervale, which had to have been maybe 3 years ago. I can't remember it.

Genesis was the first high-level raiding guild to form on the Highkeep server, which was where I played until it was merged into Butcherblock. They kept a pretty high profile for perhaps a year after the merger, though perhaps it was only 6 months. I never raided with them, but the few times I grouped with members, I was impressed with the high ratio of competent play to bullshit.

And that was how it worked on our run. Two healers (Defiler and Fury), tank(guardian), warlock, conjuror, and me. This heavy emphasis on PBAE damage seems like a strategy rather than a happenstance, as it is quite necessary to deal with the Slamhammer encounter.

There were a few slip-ups, but in all I died 5 times, and the zone was cleared, all nameds dead. We got the final boss in the second pull, with me starting the combat with a group mez of the encounter. Said group mez only seems to catch two of the mobs. The boss is immune, but no worries, the tank and the healers held him easily as the dps burned down each of the four side mobs in turn, while I kept the others mezzed.

The complication is that some of the side mobs either break mez when the boss is pulled, or can't be mezzed unless directly targeted. It looked like the latter, honestly. There was just a slight pause and then they ran in. My first pull was a little sloppy, and we couldn't burn down the adds fast enough. The tank went down and we broke the encounter.

Second pull went like clockwork. Group mez, mez runner, mez runner. Wait for timers, more mezzing. All locked down and one dead already. Easy money. The boss, has tons of hit points, but we burned him down got a good chest with an item that sold for 60p, netting me 10!

I also got a wand that will add to my mezzing set. So a very profitable time was had by all. And it was without any swashbuckler tanking, or juvenile antics, such as pelvic thrusts to the face over my dead corpse.

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