Tales from Norrath: It Pains My Soul

In the first edition of Tales from Norrath, I told the story of my luckiest moment in EverQuest (or any other game). Now, I'm here to counter that with one of the unluckiest moments. If you can call nineteen hours a "moment."

It Pains My Soul

Inside Veeshan's Peak

For anyone who played the game during The Ruins of Kunark era, you definitely know about Veeshan's Peak. While everyone knows about it, few ever actually got to go there. It is the home of the Ring of Scale, which is an ancient order of dragons that live within the Skyfire Mountains of Kunark. It is named after the Wurmqueen, a dragon deity that was the first to bring life to the world of Norrath. The zone was built as a test for the game's highest level and most skilled players even more difficult than the Planes of Fear, Hate, or Sky. To even enter Veeshan's Peak, each player had to individually complete a lengthy quest to obtain a key. And, once you were inside, there was no way back out (teleportation did not work inside the zone either) aside from one of the portals that were located behind the most powerful dragons in the zone.

Emperor Ganak was an Iksar who led his people against the Ring of Scale during The Age of Blood (many centuries before the time period in which the game takes place). He fell in an aerial battle along with the dragons' leader, Jaled`Dar. Now, even in death, he still seeks the destruction of the Ring of Scale and must employ the help of living mortals to carry out the task. He holds the key to Veeshan's Peak and requests that the medallions of the five, ancient Iksar tribes be returned to him. Oh…and he wants a tooth from the undead dragon known as Trakanon who resides deep within the ruins of Sebilis, the former capitol city of the Iksar empire.

Emperor Ganak

The first two tribes' medallions, Nathsar and Kunzar, are easy to obtain by killing a couple frogloks not far from Emperor Ganak's ghost is found. Bringing him those two earns a key to Sebilis, which is obviously required to slay Trakanon. If you were thinking that slaying an undead, poisonous dragon was the hard part or the portion I was here to tell you about, sorry. Everyone wants to slay Trakanon, regardless of wanting a VP key or not. He drops class-based breastplates, tunics, and robes that were some of the best in the game at the time.

The other three tribes' medallions (Jarsath, Kylong, Obulus) were the tough part, as they were each broken into three pieces and scattered across the continent. Some were easier to obtain than others, of course. Some could be found on the ground in less-than-safe places while others were carried by certain people or creatures that must be slain. The one that I'm here to tell you about is bottom third of the Obulus medallion. It is carried by another spectral Iksar who can be found just a few hundred yards from Emperor Ganak himself. He is known simply as the "pained soul," and hangs around the above-ground ruins of Sebilis in a part of the Emerald Jungle now known as Trakanon's Teeth.

A Quick Lesson in MMO Terminology

PH > Named

If you're not familiar with [old] MMO mechanics, there are "named" NPCs such as this pained soul, Emperor Ganak, Trakanon, etc. Then there are generic NPCs like "a spectral warrior," "a dracolich," "a froglok knight," etc. Many of these "named" NPCs have placeholders, which are generic NPCs that spawn at the same spot as the more sought after named NPCs. The purpose of placeholders is to limit the acquisition of certain items and completion of certain quests that require the named NPCs. For example, anyone can go online and find out that the pained soul spawns at the coordinates of -1835, -4370 in Trakanon's Teeth, but that doesn't mean he is always there. At that spot, you may find a variation of Iksar ghosts. If you're after the named, you must kill that placeholder, then wait for the next spawn and hope it's the named next time. The spawn timer is different depending on the zone or mob. In this case, it is seven minutes.

Trakanon in Sebilis

It was a regular afternoon in the world of Norrath and not many people from guild were online yet. We were all somewhat casually working on our VP key quests at that time, so I figured since there was nothing else going on, I'd try my hand at the pained soul. I knew going in that he was quite rare, but I figured I had at least a few hours before the guild would be ready to go raid something. So, around 3:00 PM I killed the first of what would be many Iksar ghosts. I was probably level 58 or so at the time (60 was the max), which meant that I was at virtually no risk of dying in that area of Trakanon's Teeth. And, as a cleric, I had a fairly high-powered spell specifically for killing undead, so I was able to kill them easily.

The Above-Ground Ruins of Old Sebilis in Trakanon's Teeth

At some point, probably four or five hours in, I decided for myself that I wasn't going to leave until the task was completed. A few times, guild mates stopped by to say hello and make sure I was still awake. Around 11:00 PM, a high elf enchanter from a rival guild showed up. Although he never spoke to me, I knew why he was there. See, in EverQuest (and most older MMOs), there were really no rules built into the mechanics of the game to "claim" an encounter. If he was able to do 51% of the damage to a mob I was fighting, even if I was first to attack, he'd earn loot rights. This would be unlikely considering he was an enchanter, but it meant that I had to be on my toes every time that seven minutes ran out.

A guildmate of mine, a half elf ranger named Ravenmyst, asked me to tell her when this guy left, because she wanted to get in line behind me to camp the spawn next. She gave me her phone number and told me she didn't care what time of night it was. Around 2 or 3 AM, he finally left me alone. So, I stared at my phone trying to decide how serious she was about this. Am I really going to call a woman I've never talked to (in person) before in the middle of the night to sign on to a video game? What if someone else answers the phone? Everyone knows nothing good's on the other end of a late night call. Well…I did it. She did ask me to after all. After a few minutes, there was Ravenmyst, keeping me company in the dead of night and helping kill these placeholders at a much faster pace.

Talking to Ravenmyst while that enchanter casts junk spells on me to annoy me.

After a few hours, with no luck at all, she gave up the idea of taking over after me. She wished me well and went back to bed. This is where my story gets blurry. I remember commenting to the European players in my guild that the sun was coming up. What I don't remember is getting out of my desk chair and laying down. I woke up around 9 AM in a state of confused panic. Did I just waste all that time by unconsciously going to bed? I looked across the room and the game was still on the screen. When I sat down, the first thing I noticed was no ghost was there. Someone had killed the most recent placeholder, which in the unwritten rules of the game, meant I had lost my rights to the camp. But, the person doing it was a guild mate. His name was Glimpse, an enchanter most known for being fairly narcoleptic during raids. The irony here was at ridiculous levels. He saw my character move and immediately said "YOU'RE AWAKE!" I looked at my chat log, and he (and others) had been sending me tells for quite a while it seemed.

This Mother Fucker

Glimpse said he'd found me there with a placeholder up and after I didn't respond, he started killing them for me, hoping, in a weird way, that the pained soul would not spawn before I woke up. He hung out with me for a bit before leaving once I assured him I was fully awake again. It's a miracle that someone else didn't take the camp.

Around 11:00 AM, the pained soul finally spawned. No one else was around. I blinked a bit trying to verify to myself that I was seeing what I thought I was, then nuked the hell out of him as best as a cleric could. So, after nineteen hours of killing placeholders every seven minutes, I finally had the piece of the medallion I needed. That's at least 100 placeholders depending on how long I was asleep. I was so excited that I actually stayed awake most of the rest of the day.

Do you want to know the really sad part though? I never did get to go to Veeshan's Peak. I didn't finish my key in time before my guild's first trip into the zone. And, by the time I did, we had moved on to content in Scars of Velious.

So much trouble for such a small thing.

Next time, maybe I'll tell a funny story about our friendly, neighborhood, narcoleptic enchanter. And maybe it won't be so ridiculously long as this one!

25 Comments
27 Comments
Posted by StarvingGamer

Ugh, EQ flashbacks, never again!

Entertaining read though.

Online
Posted by Marino

@StarvingGamer said:

Ugh, EQ flashbacks, never again!

Entertaining read though.

Ah, c'mon. You know you loved it. What server did you play on?

Staff
Edited by AjayRaz

that was awesome and tragic. more everquest stories!

Posted by StarvingGamer
@Marino

@StarvingGamer said:

Ugh, EQ flashbacks, never again!

Entertaining read though.

Ah, c'mon. You know you loved it. What server did you play on?

Christ, it's been so long, Torvon? Maybe? I think we rolled on a Zek server for a while but I can't deal with PvP. I was a Wood Elf Druid, quad kiting all day baby.
Online
Edited by tescovee

Another great read!, That zone was the worst: every time you killed a mob it would lower your ring of scale faction, every kill made me bummed knowing i would have to "fix" it (for the life of me I can't remember why I needed RoS faction in the positive)...and the pay off was not really worth it. Of course I went there (vp) after lucklin came out, so the quest was easier. Vex Thal now thats A key *mumbles*

Keep writing!

Posted by Karkarov

And people wonder why WoW blew EQ out of the water when it released?

Posted by Irvandus

Keep it up, I love reading these.

Posted by Marino

@StarvingGamer said:

Christ, it's been so long, Torvon? Maybe? I think we rolled on a Zek server for a while but I can't deal with PvP. I was a Wood Elf Druid, quad kiting all day baby.

Yeah, I tried a little bit of PvP but it just wasn't my thing. I played on Rodcet Nife primarily.

@tescovee said:

Another great read!, That zone was the worst: every time you killed a mob it would lower your ring of scale faction, every kill made me bummed knowing i would have to "fix" it (for the life of me I can't remember why I needed RoS faction in the positive)...and the pay off was not really worth it. Of course I went there (vp) after lucklin came out, so the quest was easier. Vex Thal now thats A key *mumbles*

Keep writing!

I can't remember why you would need RoS faction either. I do remember helping someone raise it by killing the king of Kaladim over and over though. And, Vex Thal...those stupid shards. I've got Vex Thal on my list of stuff to write about for sure.

@Karkarov said:

And people wonder why WoW blew EQ out of the water when it released?

I think you're somewhat missing the point. I wasn't writing to tell you how terrible this was. I actually look upon these memories fondly, as many EverQuest players do. It was because of these extraordinary and difficult (for lack of a better word) that made the game so memorable to its players.

WoW "blew EQ out of the water" by making things remarkably easier, which no doubt brought more people to the genre. But it also drove away many players enjoyed the challenge and didn't want their hand held every step of the way.

I've written about this in more detail previously if you're interested.

Staff
Edited by tescovee

@Karkarov said:

And people wonder why WoW blew EQ out of the water when it released?

I was never able to find the same thing in WoW that made EQ so great. I love retelling/reading about old Eq stuff I imagine on a lesser lvl its like people who tell war stories but would never want to go back to it again.

Also found out that RoS was used to do quest's in VP. Probably why my guild was there in the first place

Posted by DiscoGobbo

@Marino: Great story, and pretty much sums up that special something that the first wave MMOs had that everything since has mostly lacked: Quests felt like quests, like trials. Yeah, a lot of them were fucked in terms of drop rates and spawn times, but there was a sense of earning your way, even if you never actually used that key to VP. Which is for the best because that place was a god-damn nightmare. :)

This post is dredging up all sorts of good/bad EQ memories for me.

@StarvingGamer said:

I was a Wood Elf Druid, quad kiting all day baby.

Word. As far as I'm concerned this was the only way to play EQ.

Posted by BlindRapture

I really miss EQ. But even if they made a modern day mmo with EQ's sensibilities, I don't know if you can go back and recapture those feelings.

Also, Bards were the best class of all time. Hands down.

Edited by ExiledVip3r

It makes me sad to realize no game will likely ever come along that will leave me with as many memories as EQ did. Good and bad, I look at all my EQ experiences with fondness. My first time trying to make the trek from Qeynos to Freeport as a level 13, with no knowledge of how to get there other than being told "Go East," even the painful 3-4 hours I spent swimming around lost in the Ocean of Tears because I fell of the boat.

The random people you grouped with in EQ easily became friends who'd help you out next time you saw them or vice versa. The random people you group with in WoW were assholes you cared nothing for other than the fact that they might roll on your gear drops. Modern MMO's have spoiled us so heavily that I doubt any MMO will be able to replicate that feeling EQ had in the pre-PoP days.

Posted by Ravenlight

Madness. It blows me away that anyone would grind for so long at the same spot like this. I guess it makes the lategame content last longer, but c'mon :P

Posted by StarvingGamer

@BlindRapture: My internet sucked too much at the time so I couldn't twist efficiently. Otherwise I think I would have really enjoyed playing a Bard.

Online
Posted by Dunchad

I was never in a raiding guild, so I missed most of the high-end content (VP, Sleepers', Vex Thal etc.) or at least experienced it much later on, which was a shame - reading about guilds figuring out how Plane of Sky worked (How the hell did they even figure out the Sirran the Lunatic riddles, I have no idea) or how to get keyed to VT was really fascinating. The guild I spent most time in during EQ (and in WoW as well) was a family guild that had a lot of couples and people of all ages. Bigger raids were usually done by pooling our higher level players with those of an allied guild. But because we were more relaxed as far as raids went, when we did do raids, they usually took quite a lot of trial and error - so while our RL usually knew the required tactics, it was still challenging. We wiped more often than not. :)

Raiding Najena when the guild was still fresh and we were bunch of lowbies, is still one of my favourite memories. Doing both Naggy and Vox as a guild (a lot of people waited at 52 so others could catch up) was amazing - they were our first major raids. Experiencing several guildwipes at Fear zone-in and having to wait until another guild broke in to retrieve our corpses was not so fun. Then there was the Kael armor raid (usually really boring) during which I won the roll on Vindi's BP, ToFS raid was great, Velketor as well...Oh, and of course helping our tradeskiller extraordinaire get her Shawl was awesome.

We didn't do much in Luclin - some assorted small raids and one bigger one with help: Ssra (I won Shield of Auras from Arch Lich). And PoP raids were a bit too difficult for the most part. Doing hard LDoNs were a blast though and since I quit before Gates of Discord, it was good to end the run on a high note.

Never did get my Wizard epic - that damn underwater camp in Kedge Keep defeated me. I did not envy my Mage buddy who spent weeks on Quillmane. And Shaman epic was really rather easy, so my longest camps ended up being getting jboots for my Wizard so he could kite and when we did the fungi tunic camp with my Enchater friend (felt like we were down there forever) so we could sell it, split the profits and I could buy a level 60 spell (Malo) for 30k. How ridiculous is that? To get your most important high level spell, you had to get lucky in a high level raid or pay 30k for it. But once I had that spell, my stock went up hundredfold - who didn't want a Shaman with Malo in their group?

Since I went back to EQ now, I got my Iksar Monk to 51. Not sure if I'll continue, with GW2 coming out, but I would like to try and molo (solo with a merc) the Monk epic for funsies. Though it would mean annoying faction work (for the Freeport/Qeynos headband quests) or camping Brother Z in Rather Mnts. which can be a pain, it seems. And then there are the pipes from Karnor/Chardok... Not sure if it would be much fun, to be honest. :)

Posted by Marino

@DiscoGobbo said:

that place was a god-damn nightmare. :)

Oh, I know. But it sucked not being able to go with the guild and at least see it first hand.

@BlindRapture said:

I don't know if you can go back and recapture those feelings.

Also, Bards were the best class of all time. Hands down.

A good bard was an amazing friend to have. Sadly, there usually wasn't much middle ground for bards. They were either awesome (i.e. twisting songs in order to play the role that would usually require two or three group members) or they were just bad (i.e. thinking they were somehow a DPS class, or worse thinking they could tank).

@ExiledVip3r: That Freeport/Qeynos run was some scary shit. I was doing it the other way being from Rivervale. Even at level 65, I would always hug the wall through Kithicor. That's probably my biggest gripe about modern MMOs. No one is afraid of dying. There's no real penalty for it. And I'm totally with you on the community aspect as well.

@Ravenlight said:

Madness. It blows me away that anyone would grind for so long at the same spot like this. I guess it makes the lategame content last longer, but c'mon :P

I wouldn't call it grinding. "Grinding" would imply I was getting experience, which I was not. Those iksar ghosts were probably level 40, while I was high 50's. I got absolutely nothing out of that camp other than the piece of the medallion.

Staff
Posted by j0lter

Ah i remember my first trip to Veeshan's Peak.... I was by myself because no one wanted a Monk T.T

Posted by Karkarov

@Marino said:

I think you're somewhat missing the point. I wasn't writing to tell you how terrible this was. I actually look upon these memories fondly, as many EverQuest players do. It was because of these extraordinary and difficult (for lack of a better word) that made the game so memorable to its players.

WoW "blew EQ out of the water" by making things remarkably easier, which no doubt brought more people to the genre. But it also drove away many players enjoyed the challenge and didn't want their hand held every step of the way.

I've written about this in more detail previously if you're interested.

Oh don't get me wrong I have played EQ too, heck I played mmo's from before EQ or UO existed. I remember some grinds that make the one in this thread seem simple and short by comparison in fact. Heck even original WoW had some similar things, though not as severe, would you like to hear a story about what it took to get into Onyxia's lair as a horde player in original WoW? I was just pointing out that WoW succeeded because EQ was the standard, if WoW had released 3 years later instead it would have had far less success.

Edited by aceofspudz

I went to Veeshan's Peak a few times during the Kunark era, and ultimately got the Robe of the Azure Sky when my guild pushed to the end. Like all caster loot, it sucked and was pointless, but it was hella status symbol.

I don't remember it particularly well, except I remember a lot of waiting around in a hallway and killing Silverwing over and over. The full run was kind of rough and we only did it, I think, once or twice during Kunark. Silverwing was cake, but the second dragon had a mass aoe attack that would obliterate entire guilds. This was back when the health cap for NPCs was still 32k, so the only way Verant had to make tough encounters was to make them preposterously lethal, blink-and-you-miss-it affairs.

Edit: Man! It's all coming back to me. Kunark was such a magical time. My class (enchanter) was suddenly more powerful and valuable than ever, and I was one of the best on the server. We were a tiny guild of elite ringers and the nascent Tunare uber guild structure was extremely loose and full of ad-hoc alliances. Competition was fierce but friendly, and all guilds worked together at points.

We were practically one united server at this point. It wasn't until the very end of Kunark and the start of SOV that the uberguilds all solidified and became hostile to each other. Incidentally, during SOV when it came time to throw down and get nasty, we proved very good at that as well.

Posted by Marino

@aceofspudz: That robe was definitely a status symbol. Pretty sure I only saw it a couple times. You say it sucked, but I don't remember too many 100 mana items during that era. And, yeah, having a solid enchanter in a group was always a plus, even if it was just for the speed and clarity. But a good enchanter could save everyone's asses on a bad pull, train, etc.

Sounds like the guild scene on Tunare was way different than Rodcet. We had three or four top guilds at any given time, one of which was Korean and operated on a 12-hour time difference. So, even if we had worked out a rotation agreement on certain targets, if it spawned at 6 AM ET, chances are, neither of us would get it because Arirang would. But, like your server, Velious is really where things became cutthroat. Especially concerning The Sleeper. But I'll have a story about that at a later date.

Staff
Posted by Jams

@Marino: did you ever play on Brell Serellis?

Posted by Marino

@Jams said:

@Marino: did you ever play on Brell Serellis?

Nope. Spent 99.99% of my time on Rodcet Nife.

Staff
Posted by aceofspudz

@Marino said:

But a good enchanter could save everyone's asses on a bad pull, train, etc.

Our method was essentially to train ourselves and have the encs lock everything down. We used it at a group level and a raid level, and it turned ENCs into a high-skill class. In some respects we never even learned how to pull until SoV.

In SoV monks (and anyone else with FD) became the high skill class and I sat around on my ass dispensing clarity. I quit the game at the end of SoV.

Posted by Marino

@aceofspudz: VoG pls, k thx~

Seriously though, you're right about FD. We had a troll SK named Sazzabi that could pull better than any monk. He was a master at pulling singles in ToV.

I can't say for sure since I never played an enchanter, but I don't recall them complaining about just being buff machines. I think they got more of their importance back with some the AA's they got in Luclin. I remember Dire Charm being utilized a good bit.

Staff
Posted by Marino

Late entry here, but I just found a screenshot I thought I'd lost from this experience. Zellana was the enchanter I referred to in the story. He was casting spells on me (one called Bedlam) just to mess with me I think.

This is what my screen looked like for the majority of the 19 hours or so.

Staff
Posted by tescovee

@Marino: man I forgot how fucked out the old/new ui looked like...the first ui, the one where you had to have your book open to med was awesome. Like 35% of the screen was a frame. I dipped back in after reading your blog post a few weeks ago, I'm having a pretty good time remembering how to play. There is sooo much new content they added after I left after GoD.

The gear now is crazy. It's depressing how I was able to replace a bunch of stuff with little effort, and I was mid raid gear when I quit.