By Marino 25 Comments
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!