Monday, April 2, 2018

Do Rabbits Lay Eggs? : EverQuest

Yesterday saw the uncomfortable elision of  a couple of notable dates on the calendar - Easter Sunday and April Fools Day. It's hard to think of of two "holidays" that share less common ground; one the most grave and serious date in the Christian calendar, the other the epitome of idiocy.

I suspected the outcome for MMOs would be the least silly silly day on record and so it proved. Wilhelm, who keeps an annual tally of Blizzard's efforts, could barely find anything to post about. Reading the comments, I found it instructive that Blizzard took a lot more trouble coming up with gags and pranks for their Korean fanbase than they were willing to expend on their largely Christian North American and European markets.

GW2, which has in the past made a Big Deal of All Fool's Day, not always to everyone's amusement, ignored it completely this year. We did get the return of Super Adventure Box but that's now a  month-long event that's long outgrown its origins as an April Fool's surprise.

A shining eggsample.

Easter, of course, also has a strong, non-religious presence in the West. The moveable feast co-incides - approximately - with the coming of Spring. I guess that's where all those rabbits and eggs come in.

Telwyn reminded me that EQ2, unofficial cheerleader for the concept of MMO Holidays, added an egg-themed event last year. The awkwardly-named Beast'r is running again right now with some new content and I was planning to pop in to grab some fresh eggs for my houses but somehow I ended up in EverQuest instead.

EverQuest's main condescension to All Fool's Day seemed to be the forcible conversion of the in-game text font to the supposedly hysterical Comic Sans. I thought I'd accidentally changed something in my settings and it was only when someone mentioned it in General Chat that I realised it was supposed to be a joke.

I have no idea who these guys are but, to quote Velma Dinkley, "I smell a mystery".
Something that turned out to be far more exciting, entertaining and enjoyable was my serendipitous discovery of a brightly colored painted egg, lying on the ground in Plane of Knowledge. In the original version of Norrath you could drop anything you carried on the ground and it would lie there, waiting to be picked up. That changed long ago but there are still "ground spawns", items that appear as obsevable, interactable "physical" presences in the world.

Naturally, if I ever see one of these ground spawns, I grab it. I snatched up the egg and examined it. It was a quest item. I looked at it and puzzled for a moment. Then I stuffed it in my packs and forgot about it. If you play EQ for five minutes you'll likely find five quest items you don't have quests for. I tend to hang on to them until I need space, then sell or destroy them.

My plan was to hunt Aviaks in South Karana. I took the Stone to Arena, zoned into Lake Rathetear and started swimming. I killed a Gnoll Embalmer on my way through the gnoll camp. That got me the Skull of Jhen'Tra, a magic item people camped for back in the distant past, and an Achievement. EQ has a full Achievement system these days, which is yet another thing I have to read up.

EQ's treant is a rare case of the updated model strongly improving on the original. These guys are huge and scary.

I was happily killing Rooks and Harriers beneath the Birdhouse in SK when I noticed something shining in the darkness. I picked it up. It was another egg, painted with a different design. I carried on hunting.

I pulled a Rook just as a roaming Avocet appeared out of the gloom. Red to me. It added. I feared the Avo but couldn't land darkness to snare it. It took off like a rocket. As I was chasing it through the black, rainy Karana night, my pet beating on the Rook as I tried to get the Avo snared, I spotted yet another egg, glowing under a tree.

When the Avo and the Rook were finally dead and I was out of mana, I rode my worg back to the spot where I remembered seeing the egg. It was there. I picked it up. It was painted in yet another, different design

Now I was excited. I began to think I might be able to find them all. I wondered whether the ones I'd already found would count. Did I need the quest in my journal before I picked them up for it to update? It would be so annoying to have them all and then get the quest and have to go find them all a second time!

Centaurs don't have indoor lighting, apparently.

I quickly googled "EverQuest Crosshatched Painted Egg". The top result took me to Allakhazam, still an excellent EQ resource, where I found full details of a quest called The Origin of the Cuniculus. Reading it up I found that not only was it a quest I could do it was a quest I very much wanted to do. I mean, who doesn't want a wand that turns you into a rabbit? ("Cuniculus", by the way, is "a small conduit or burrow, as an underground drain or rabbit hole". Don't let anyone ever tell you gaming isn't educational).

When I finished my level I gated back to PoK. It was getting late but Allakhazam had the quest flagged as "Seasonal" and I was worried about what that might mean. Usually holiday quests hang around for a week at least but Bristlebane Day, as April 1st is known in Norrath, has always featured quests that last no longer than the day itself.

I found Grundle Cogwelder and ran through his dialog to get the quest in my journal. The quest instantly updated to acknowledge the three eggs I'd already found.

Obvious question: who or what is Stomples?

EQ is so much more accomodating than it once was. Not only does it retro-fit quest drops, it even has an excellent on-screen quest tracker, just like a modern MMO. With that up in game and the Allakhazam walkthrough to guide me, I set off to Qeynos.

It took about an hour to find the rest of the eggs. Some were in Qeynos Hills around Blackburrow and Surefall Glade. There were plenty at the Barbarian Village in West Karana, where I had to Gather Shadows to conceal myself from red-con necrocidal barbarians. I also killed a roaming treant and a Wandering Spirit that I remembered hunting for some long -forgotten quest a decade ago.

It took the best part of twenty minutes to ride my Worg through West and North Karana. I found the last egg I needed - Sunburst Painted - at the Centaur Village in South Karana. I memmed Gate and ported back to Plane of Knowledge for the turn-in.

Tiny rabbits. Hard to see - even harder to catch.

Grundle, clearly beginning to lose his grasp on reality, handed me a wand called Madness of Stomples. It fits in the ammo slot, where I previously had a Bookworm that gives +2 to fishing. Now I have a wand that randomly either turns me into a rabbit or summons a horde of tiny rabbits that scurry madly in all directions. I call that one heck of an upgrade.

That quest has been in EverQuest for seven years but it's the first I knew of it. Probably because it's the first time I've played EQ on Bristlebane Day. It was one of those lucky happenstances that exemplify what's so wonderful about this hobby.

A real "you had to be there" moment, all the better for coming entirely unanticipated.

2 comments:

  1. I'm not so sure that Blizz expended effort on Korea so much as the Korean team borrowed a bunch of the old gags of past years from the US site and put them in an arcade format.

    Blizz used to be more into it when their focus was WoW and not much else. Now that they're hustling a couple of additional large (if not WoW scale) money making titles, they've been less enthusiastic, to the point of putting actual news about Hearthstone out on April 1.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It might just be a change of personnel. Some people absolutely love pranks and practical jokes. It only takes one of those in a position to do something about it to make it seem like company policy.

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