By Marino 16 Comments
I've been thinking about writing some EverQuest-related blogs for a while. I doubt many people will read them, but I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy writing them. So...here goes.
One of the biggest features of EverQuest's first expansion pack, The Ruins of Kunark, was the introduction of epic weapons for each class. The stats on these weapons were the best in the game, and the particle effects on the equipped item made sure that your prize would not go unnoticed by other players. Having an epic weapon was a true status symbol among players. Obtaining one of these weapons required embarking on a marathon quest that spanned across the world of Norrath. Some tasks along the way could be completed alone, but, most of the time, they required the help of a few, if not dozens, of friends. It took several months for players to completely discover the entirety of each class' unique quest, and while some epic quests turned out to be easier than others, they all had their bottlenecks.
The most notorious of these bottlenecks was the last leg of the cleric epic, The Water Sprinkler of Nem Ankh. Even speaking the name "Ragefire," will probably send a chill down the spine of anyone who played a cleric between 1999-2002. Zordak Ragefire is a red dragon, who first appears in the form of a human merchant, that must be slain in order to obtain the last piece required in quest (his heart). The cleric going for it would likely need the help of 30-40 players to defeat this dragon, and that was the easiest part of the task.
First of all, Ragefire only spawned in Nagafen's Lair and in the same part of the zone as Lord Nagafen himself. Nagafen was one of the original dragon boss fights in the game. So, you're thinking "two dragons at once?" Nope. That'd be easier than the truth. The problem with Nagafen is that, in an attempt to keep content available for lower level players, Verant had put a level cap on Nagafen. What this meant is that if you were above level 52 and attacked Nagafen in any way, you would be teleported out of the zone. Ragefire could only spawn if Nagafen was dead (more on this later). So, this typically meant that the cleric (or his/her friends) would need to organize an open raid on Nagafen that they themselves could not participate in.
Once that was completed, the real fun began. I'm not sure if anyone ever truly figured out the math on this part, but I'm going to tell you the way I understood it. After Nagafen died, an invisible timer began. At one hour, there was a chance for Ragefire to spawn…a 4% chance. At the end of hour number two, a 5% chance. Hour three, 6%. And, so on. This meant that the cleric could possibly be there for 96 hours. Yep, that's four days of real, Earth time. I knew of several clerics that had camped Ragefire for three full days.
Oh…it gets worse.
The fire giants that guard Nagafen respawn every six hours, regardless of whether or not Nagafen is already dead. So, not only are you potentially going to be awake for the better part of four days, but you're going to need help from at least five or six people several times a day (and in the middle of the night). If you didn't get help in time, another group could potentially take your camp. There weren't any official rules on this, but if you couldn't kill the giants, basically you forfeited the camp whether you'd been there six hours or eighty-six. The same goes for whenever Ragefire spawns. If you couldn't mobilize enough people for a dragon raid, someone else could take it. Fall asleep, forfeit. Internet goes out, forfeit.
So, let's recap:
- Complete a dragon raid in which you probably cannot actively participate in.
- Be prepared to stay in one spot for up to four days real time.
- Enlist the help of several friends to accompany you at least every 6-8 hours to clear fire giants.
- Hope you have enough friends/guild members to quickly mobilize if/when Ragefire spawns.
Clearly, this camp was a test of endurance, camaraderie, and sanity. And, keep in mind that this is only the last part of the epic quest. There are many steps leading up to this monumental task.
Why am I telling you about all of this? Because it was the most ridiculous, shocking, lucky, unbelievable moment I've ever had, and likely will ever have, in a video game.
The server was down for scheduled maintenance. I had told my guild that I was going to attempt to claim the camp once it came back online at noon. The server being down guaranteed that Nagafen would be alive, which meant we would immediately need to get to work putting together a pick-up raid to take him out. I was level 58 at the time, so I could only help organize it. It took about six hours and included one of my paladin friends/guildmates (Wranglersan) dying on purpose multiple times to delevel himself from 54 to 52 so that he could lead the raid.
Because it took so long to get organized and kill Nagafen, that meant the fire giants were going to be respawning soon. So, five of my guild mates stayed behind to help me on the first wave of giants after everyone else had left. They start spawning and we start killing them. Not long into this, the ranger in the group (Davaren) says "Um…Ragefire is on track." Rangers in EverQuest had the ability to pull up a menu that lists almost any player or NPC within a certain range. Of course I told him to shut up, assuming he was messing with me. His real-life wife, a dark elf cleric named Eternyal, assured me that he was not lying. I couldn't believe it. Davaren immediately called out in guild chat for everyone to pull a 180º and get back to Nagafen's Lair. No one else could believe it either.
Zordak Ragefire had spawned exactly one hour after the fall of Nagafen. Not only was the 1-hour spawn insanely lucky, but at this point it was about 7:00 PM Eastern Time, meaning that almost everyone in my guild was online. Within minutes, I had an army of 50+ guild members ready to slaughter a dragon. And that's exactly what happened. And that's how I became the second halfling cleric on the server to wield a Water Sprinkler of Nem Ankh.
My only question at that point was… What am I supposed to do with these two cases of Cherry Coke I just bought in preparation of staying awake for several days?
I think my next entry will tell the tale of how my luck completely ran out after this.