Monday, 16 January 2012

The Otter Potter

Back when I was spending most of my time in Telara I wrote about how I'd learned to love dailies. I'm not playing Rift so much anymore but I have a new round of daily tasks thanks to Norrath's Adopt-an-Otter program.

December's Age of Discovery expansion brought many pleasures. You could design your own dungeon, fill it with cartoon characters from your childhood, then kill them. You could add a sparkly glow to your favorite shillelagh, take up a new career as beastlord or hire a mercenary to follow you around making smart remarks. Maybe best of of all, though, you could welcome an othmir into your very own home.

He sings, he stabs, he snarks
Who wouldn't want an othmir? It's a six-foot tall otter in a fez for heaven's sake! Back in beta there were no othmir, just Coldain dwarves, if you can believe it. Dour, creepy little guys, all frown and suspicious undead pallor. I wouldn't have one in the house. Not again. I learned my lesson with the Coldain Butler. Anyway, there were protests and thankfully the research program was expanded to include human females (quiet at the back there!) and othmir.

The prospective apprentices stand around outside the headquarters of the crafting societies in Freeport and Qeynos like country girls at a hiring fair. If you've a modicum of skill at any craft then with just a few words and no paperwork of any kind you can have your very own otter. If you want your very own dwarf I really don't want to know about it.

You can get your sandy feet off the upholstery for a start!
Othmir aren't just decorative either, although they surely are that. Your otter will spend day and night researching tirelessly on your behalf, asking nothing from you but your good advice. Oh, and repairs. Whenever I'm around, all my othmirs seem to do is stare into space and scratch themselves. Thinking deep thoughts, probably. They must do something while I'm out though because every day when I ask them if there's anything I can do help speed up their research I find they've broken something or worn something out.

On average they seem to get through a leather apron or a toolbelt every four or five days. A wooden mallet lasts them no longer, no more does a knife. How do you wear out a leather apron in four days? How do you wear out a toolbelt at all? I don't ask. I just head off to to the woodworking bench or the forge or the loom and make whatever they need.

Every day I do this. Each of my crafting characters begins the day by offering an otter the benefit of his or her experience and then repairing whatever the otter broke the night before. Doing these two things both helps the research go faster and gets me a little otter bonus when he hands me back a Pouch of Unused Materials.

The things those otters don't use! Sometimes it's a pile of seahorse roe that I can only imagine fell out of his lunchtime sandwich. Often it's a very useful potion. Best of all, and not that infrequently either, it's a Reactant. Reactants are the secret ingredient needed to make the wonderful items the apprentices research. You can get them from powerful creatures around Norrath but I've had a lot more handed to me by my otter as surplus to his requirements.

Level 60. LEVEL 60!!
All of which brings me to the items themselves. Considering I'm the skilled craftsman and the othmir are the apprentices it's astounding how good the ideas they come up with turn out to be. Every single recipe they hand me makes something better than anything I could have hoped to make without their research. It'll be my name on the product when I get around to making it, though. And so it should be. It's right and proper for the master to take credit for the apprentice's labor after all. That's the way these things are done.

My crafting books are filling up with wonderful new recipes as I do my daily Otter Potter. It's relaxing, amusing, satisfying and highly worthwhile. Best of all, my otters seem to have a truly vast store of new ideas that need looking into. Going to be a long time before these othmir finish their apprenticeships. Well, it will if I have any say in it.

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