While the greatest adventurers of Norrath continued to pursue the trail of corruption wrought by Mayong Mistmoore, Venril Sathir carried on with his master plan to rid the world of dragons once and for all. His Shadowspine Curse first became apparent after the discovery of The Broodlands in northern Antonica (Dragons of Norrath), but Norrathians seemed to see Mayong Mistmoore as the bigger threat at the time, and rightfully so. Meanwhile, the dragons have not taken Sathir's threats lightly. SIx dragon children from the north have formed an alliance. Calling themselves the Circle of the Crystalwing, they have gone against the wishes of their elders and created a new race of people to protect the dragons. Known as the Drakkin, they are captured Humans or Elves infused with draconic blood. The Drakkin are now spreading quickly throughout the world, joining the ranks of Norrath's greatest adventurers. Now returning from the outer planes and from time traveling to ancient history, adventurers are now turning their attention to The Serpent's Spine mountains they learned of while exploring the past in the Elddar Forest. This mountain range has remained unexplored for centuries.
The twelfth expansion to the world of EverQuest brought about many new changes to the game. Highlights include:
- New Playable Race: The Drakkin are a race of people created by dragons. Humans or Elves infused with dragon blood, they are are the third race that can choose the Monk class.
- New Level Cap: Increased from 70 to 75.
- New Regen System: After resting for 30 seconds (group) or 5 minutes (raid), players' health and mana will regenerate at a much higher rate than normal.
- New Stat: Corruption is now a measurable resistance along with magic, fire, cold, poison, and disease.
- New Con System: The color grey is added below green to differentiate between mobs that yield no experience and ones that will yield a small amount.
- New Item Tags: Quest items are now labeled as such, making vendor trash distinguishable from something that may be valuable.
The Serpent's Spine is the river that runs from north to south twisting through the center of the continent of Antonica. The mountains surrounding it were created during Solusek Ro's torching of the Elddar Forest centuries ago. The mountains have mostly been left unexplored for all of this time due to the inherent dangers of the peaks and the rumor of powerful dragons that lie in wait. Anyone traveling on foot between Qeynos and Freeport has crossed the river as it separates Northern Karana from Eastern Karana. The southern tip of the mountain range is the often visited High Pass, a midway point on the trade route. A passage has now been discovered that leads north to Blightfire Moors and the rest of the Serpent's Spine mountains.
Ashengate, Reliquary of the Scale, is a highly guarded chamber where the dragons of the Serpent's Spine mountains keep a crystalline scale. This is not just any old dragon scale though, this one is from Veeshan herself. It was once kept in The Nest, but after Solusek Ro altered the terrain of the region, it shifted the reliquary to high atop what is now known as the Direwind Cliffs. Many of the guardians of the scale perished in the quake, but Lethar the Black survived. Through treachery and deceit he has decided to claim the scale for himself. He has a Drakkin "son" named Dyn`leth who has developed his own desire for power. The keep is divided into three main wings. The north wing is where Lethar, Dyn`leth, and their army reside.
Blackfeather Roost is a lush, forested region of the mountains just west of the Goru`kar Mesa. It consists of six islands, similar in fashion to the Plane of Sky. Each island has a specific task that must be completed before moving on to the next, leading up to a final showdown with the Queen of the Harpies. Along the way are an assortment of wildlife including majestic griffons, ferocious bears, and venomous spiders.
Blightfire Moors is where adventurers will find themselves after traversing the passage from Highpass Hold into the Serpent's Spine Mountains. Blightfire is an expansive, rolling grassland. Many types of wildlife can be found roaming the plains here. The Drakkin city of Crescent Reach lies within the western cliff face, so they have set up several outposts within the area. An efficient young Drakkin could easily become an experienced mid-seasoned adventurer without ever leaving the vicinity of the city. To the east is the Stone Hive, home to the bixies of Norrath. Further north are the marshlands, where many undead are led by Captain Bloodmoon. Rumors of a powerful witch residing in the fog of the swamp have been whispered among many adventurers passing through the area to head north to Goru`kar Mesa.
Crescent Reach is the home of the artificially created race known as the Drakkin. It was constructed long ago inside the cliff face of a large crescent-shaped crevice just west of Blightfire Moors. Centuries ago it was the site of an Ogre city before their invasion of the Plane of Earth and the curse was laid upon Zek's children. Today, it is a fully functional city full of citizens, merchants, bankers, tradeskill stalls, and a slew of people offering quests. Just north of the city is a beautiful glade where the six dragons of the Circle of Crystalwing reside. They are responsible for the creation of the Drakkin, despite warnings against such an action by the elder dragons. A deep ravine also runs north beyond the populated part of town. The crevice contains various forms of wildlife that are great practice for fledgling Drakkin, but further along there is a tribe of undead Ogres known as The Nokk, who have been cursed to an eternity of minding their farms.
Direwind Cliffs lie just south of Ashengate, so the dangerous cliffs must be traversed for anyone even attempting an assault upon the treacherous dragon. At the base of the cliffs are foggy valleys infested with disease, which is assumed to be the work of Venril Sathir. The wildlife here has fallen under a deadly affliction, barely surviving off the corpses of other fallen creatures. A malignant breed of fungus men, known as Darkroot, have sprouted up in the area seemingly thriving on the sickly environment. The cliffs get their name from the clan of gnolls that inhabit the area, but they too have not been able to escape the plague that has engulfed the area. The armies, Gray Legion and Black Legion, of Ashengate have set up encampments along the cliffs, making the first line of defense in protecting the reliquary of the scale.
Frostcrypt, the Throne of the Shade King, is as deep as one can go into the icy mountains of the Serpent's Spine. It is the residence of the Krithgor, a species of giants that have somehow completely escaped the curse laid up Rallos Zek's creations by The Rathe. This means that instead of simple-minded, lumbering giants, they pose all the physical threats in addition to being highly intelligent and wielding powerful magic. The truth of the matter is that the Krithgor rebelled against their creator and did not join the other clans of giants, orcs, and goblins in the assault on the Plane of Earth. Zek got his revenge when the Krithgor king, Beltron, died of old age shortly after the curse was laid down. The giants carried their king to the burial grounds of Frostcrypt, and once they were all inside, Rallos Zek resurrected Beltron under a curse of his own. Beltron slew every living giant within the crypt, and they too were resurrected to become known as the Shades of Zek. Their goal is to exterminate any surviving Krithgor in Valdeholm.
Goru`kar Mesa lies just north of the Blightfire Moors. Here, the land quickly becomes rockier as the grasslands fade into the mountains. From the mesa, one could venture to basically any region of the Serpent's Spine Mountains. To the northwest are The Steppes on the way to the icy peaks of Valdeholm. To the northeast is Sunderock Springs on the way to Ashengate. And to the south are the moors along with Crescent Reach and the Stone Hive. Creatures from all regions of the mountains have crept into Goru`kar, making it a melting pot in the mountain range. Druids and Wizards have discovered a means of teleporting themselves and others to the mesa, and the Guild Hall has a portal to Goru`kar as well.
Icefall Glacier is a massive valley that divides The Steppes from the frozen peaks leading to Valdeholm. Wildlife here is similar to that of Everfrost Peaks, which lie to the west over the impassable mountains. Mammoths, wolves, and polar bears roam freely over the tundra attacking any adventurer idling too long in one place or unfortunately losing their invisibility at the wrong time. More important though are the three warring factions of kobolds, orcs, and goblins. The battles between the Nightmoon, the Coldeye, and the Frostbite are easy for adventurers to get caught in the middle of, but if the only goal is to pass through to Valdeholm, the task is not too difficult. One would be advised to simply stay far away from Avalanche, the colossal ice golem.
The Steppes are a frigid grassland leading to the frozen mountains further north. It was from this area that the Rallosian armies opened a portal to the Plane of Earth, commencing their invasion of the planes. The defunct portal, known as the Portal of War, still remains standing. Now the region is overrun with the Stonemight goblin clan, the Darkfell gnoll tribe, and a contingent of the most fearsome hill giants Antonica has ever witnessed. The cold wind rolling off the nearby peaks will send shivers up one's spine, but it only gets colder the more north one goes from here. The numerous caverns offer a brief shelter from the biting cold, but the creatures inside will Hunting the treants, centaurs, and other wildlife here can be fairly lucrative for anyone wanting to gain some experience before venturing deeper into the mountains.
Stone Hive lies east of Blightfire Moors. It is a stunningly beautiful grove of flowers and sentient plant life, but more importantly, it is home to the bixies of Norrath. The bixies are a well known nuisance by Halflings and any who spend enough time in central Antonica. But until recently, they were not thought of as a threat of any kind. It is said that after the war that took place in Kithicor Forest, Innoruuk's presence tainted everything in the dark forest, including the plants. Jumjum, a staple of nearly every dish prepared by the Halflings, is also the bixies favorite food. By consuming the tainted jumjums, the bixies themselves changed over time, becoming more intelligent and skilled in battle. Inside the hive itself are three tiers. The first level is somewhat of a commons for the bixies, while the second level is the honey refinery and prison for the slaves that work for them. The third floor is reserved for the royals, including Queen Pelzia.
Sunderock Springs is a desert on the way north to Ashengate. It gets its name from the various oasises scattered around the inexplicably scorching heat in this region of the Serpent's Spine Mountains. The sweltering humidity may seem out of place itself, but there is an ice dragon roaming the desert to make things even more bizarre. Many drakes reside around an active geyser, one of the many sights to see in the desert. To the east, the arm of Ashengate reaches far, for the Green Legion army commands a camp of enslaved orcs and goblins that retrieve treasure and supplies from the nearby Vergalid Mines. The Drakkin have also set up an outpost in Sunderock, high atop a nearby mountain, a safe distance from the wandering snakes, rock golems, and spiders. Directly north of Sunderock Springs are the dangerous Direwind Cliffs on the road to Ashengate.
Valdeholm is the grand city of the ice giants of northern Antonica. The Krithgor giants refused to enter battle with the rest of Rallos Zek's children as they waged war on the elemental Plane of Earth, and for that they were punished by the god of war. Those that survived the curse of Beltron in Frostcrypt still reside in Valdeholm, locked in an eternal struggle against their ancestors, the Shades of Zek. The Shades believe the only way to end the curse to destroy every last living Krithgor, while the giants living in Valdeholm defend themselves while searching for a different means of ending Zek's curse. Adventurers visiting the city will have a decision to make when it comes to who they side with in the ongoing struggle. Several missions and quests are available involving the Wraithguards and the Shades of Zek.
The Vergalid Mines lie beneath the mountains east of Sunderock Springs, and they are named after an undead dragon that resides deep in the quarry. Vergalid was one of the few to take a stand against Lethar the Black's treacherous greed. He was tortured for countless years by Lethar and his followers. When Vergalid was released, he could barely walk. He slipped on the Direwind Cliffs and fell hundreds of feet down into the mines. After awakening from a two-year coma, Vergalid decided to make the mines his own lair. It wasn't long though before the armies of Dyn`leth found him. The Green Legion shackled him in place, preventing him from ever escaping. Adventurers willing to intervene may be better off simply ending the dragon's misery.