Growing Up Gaming – EverQuest part 1

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With Playstation and N64 in my bedroom as my consoles of the time, I found myself wandering into the land of PC. I was in my final years of high school and had a little experience playing Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II along with even less of X-Wing vs TIE Fighter. I had played a few PC games a little bit in the past with Alone in the Dark and Quest for Glory: So You Want to Be a Hero, but a friend pulled me more fully into PC gaming by introducing me to EverQuest.

Just look at that cutting edge amazing game.

After playing RPGs on consoles, the breadth and scope of EverQuest, or EQ, was quite impressive. What set this game apart from RPGs I had played before was the notion of living in a fantasy world and finding your own adventure rather than just playing through a pre-determined story. I didn’t know of Ultima Online, so EQ was more of a revolutionary concept than a genre for me, but it certainly went on to cement itself as a, if not the, founder of the MMORPG genre of the next number of years.

I started on the server my friend was on: Erollisi Marr, which was still running last I looked. I created a human paladin named Feneril (Fin-er-ill) and started in Freeport. EverQuest is still, to me, the closest any game has gotten to best imitating a Dungeons & Dragons world in a video game.

Night was dark and humans couldn’t see in the dark without a light source such as a torch, lantern, or magical item. As a result, I found myself in the dark falling into the water at the Freeport docks. Now in the water and still unable to see, I didn’t know where to go, so I spent the game’s night cycle swimming against the wall of the docks, treading water and getting my swimming skill leveled up!

From Freeport killing rats, I journeyed to the Commonlands where a tunnel became the go-to location for player barter and trade. EverQuest didn’t have an “auction house” like most modern MMOs, so shouting to hock your wares was how the economy flowed in Norrath at the time. There were tales of people getting cheated during trades, but I didn’t know anyone who was myself. That the area became the accepted player market place is one of the early examples of emergent gameplay that made EverQuest unique at the time.

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Commonlands Tunnel Entrance

The Commonlands also had another…we’ll say feature that you don’t tend to find in MMOs anymore: ridiculously high level enemies that wandered into low level areas. While players were in their early teens coming into this zone, a level 36 griffin would wander about. The griffin would fly along and aggro (attack) players below. When they were spotted, players would alert others by using /shout to announce the sighting and players either ran from the area or would get indoors at a merchant’s shop for safety. The latter didn’t always work as the griffin would sometimes come through the ceiling or wall and attack anyway. Norrath was a dangerous world.

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The monster itself!

Moving on was the first far-from-town outpost from Freeport where players gathered. It was basically a collection of stones, but druids would make money there offering the Spirit of the Wolf buff (SoW). This let players run faster and was sought after for the next leg of the journey to venture through the next zone of Kithicor Woods. Nobody wanted to get caught in Kithicor Woods at night.

EverQuest, particularly in its early days, had GM (Game Master) events where the game GMs would trigger and/or lead major events. These were often used for major story events that would impact what was happening in the world’s grander stage. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Battle of Bloody Kithicor. The whole event went down before I was playing, but EverQuest had these events only once rather than remaining available for all players to experience forever. As a result, these events passed on to stories that players would tell, which then became the stuff of legend much as the stories have in human history.

The way I read it was players were contacted by GMs posing as messengers of the gods with warnings of a great conflict to come in Kithicor Woods, but beyond that were fairly vague other than how many days they had until it would happen. Players then began to spread the word. One group of players gathered at the city of High Hold, expecting it to be the target. Two zones away in Neriak Forest, home of the dark elves, the dark elf character Lanys T’Vyll spawned under a GM’s control. After a speech, she started a march towards the Commonlands, gathering players who marched with her on the way to Kithicor Woods, resulting in a growing army.

On the other end of Kithicor Woods, the high elf princess Firiona Vie, EverQuest’s mascot character, appeared as well, also played by a GM. Players flocked to her as well, swelling an army to defend High Hold Pass.

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The result was a conflict of players against spawning mobs as well as players vs players. Emergent gameplay cropped up during the event as players from the dark elf army split away to invade the bordering zone of the Rivervale and to attack the halflings. Why? No particular reason, but they were still attacking “innocents,” so the defenders followed and the battle spilled into that zone as well.

The event ended with the sky going red (which became a hallmark of GM events) and the woods becoming cursed due to the bloodshed and hatred caused by the battle. After the event, Kithicor Woods remained a medium level zone by day, but became populated by large amounts of higher level undead at night, associated with the Plane of Hate.

Beyond Kithicor was High Hold Pass which led to the Plains of Karana and on to the city of Qeynos as well as the city of the barbarians, Halas. It was in the Karanas I fought gnolls and toward the Rathe Mountains to fight aviaks. Along the way, my friend that got me into the game brought me into their guild, The Champions of Marr.

Combat was quite different from today’s MMOs. Nothing was instanced, so leveling was done by forming a group and taking up a camping spot, then pulling enemies to the group to fight and kill them for experience, then wait for a respawn to repeat the process. The advantage this gave was downtime to chat and get to know other players, making EverQuest a very social game where friendships were formed and relationships began that were known to even lead to real world marriages. I still remember a number of my guild mates: Avaric, Esperanza, Lily, Kharne, Gorndax, and Ariell to name a few, though I’m not in touch with most of them anymore.

Another event, this time in the Karanas, wasn’t so quickly resolved. The god of plague and disease had followers preparing to summon him into the mortal realm, causing polluted rain and diseased, rabid, animals through the plains. There was quite a bit of reported event activity in the city of Qeynos at the time, but I don’t remember all the details as I do with Kithicor’s retelling. I do remember once walking, not running, from Qeynos to Freeport just to do so.

On the opposite side of Freeport was the Desert of Ro where I spent some time leveling as well. There was a number of zones on the continent of Antonica that I never even explored. Instead, I headed for those Freeport docks once again where players could wait up to 30 minutes for a ship to arrive and carry them across the sea.

With the departure from Antonica, we’ll stop here for now. In my next post, I’ll discuss memories on the continent of Faydwer, and we haven’t even gotten out of the game’s initial release and started to explore the expansions yet!

 

 

  1. Such an awesome post

    Like

    • Balren Justicebringer
    • May 15th, 2017

    Jeff, I was in Champions of Marr amd I remember Gorndax and some of the others!

    Like

      • Jeff NinjaFox
      • May 16th, 2017

      That’s awesome! What was your name?

      Like

        • Balren Justicebringer
        • May 16th, 2017

        Balren Justicebringer – I logged on the server yesterday and your were still in the guild. Sadly it is very very dead now. The last login before mine was 2014 and before that 2005. Did you know they have Progression servers now? A new one starts on the 24th!

        Like

  1. March 22nd, 2017

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