Of shoes and ships and sealing wax
As far as player types go, I’m not a raid person. I’m not a loot lover (with a few exceptions that I’ll get to below). I’m a crafting type with a large side of harvesting ho thrown in for good measure; it could be argued that one begets the other, but then we’d get into the whole chicken and egg and begetting and begat thing and we just don’t have time for that today. It therefore pleases me — as I have mentioned a time or two lately — that EQ2 appears to have not only realised that some people like to craft as a primary (or at least not a distant tertiary) activity, but also decided to provide a metric crapton of stuff for crafters to do. Adventury stuff — well, crafty adventury stuff, or at least stuff that gives crafting xp and other goodies, even though it sometimes requires risking your life in that nasty sunny outside world among the giant spiders and their arachnid ilk.
Mort (the spousal unit) and I had started a harvesting quest we encountered because, well, it’s a harvesting quest! Oh, and it paid 17g a pop, which for us poorer types is a lot for just bending down and picking stuff up, though in all fairness to the quest it ended up being a bigger pain in the harvester’s backside than just bending down and picking stuff up. If you need 30 of X and 30 of Y and they come from node Z that drops A 80% of the time, it’s going to take a LONG time to get X and Y. Make the poor harvester do that in two distinct areas rather than just one, and you’ll soon separate the hoes from the men, especially if the harvesting hoes in question aren’t quite the right adventuring level to survive the beasties protecting the nodes. We’ve become expert at gauging how finely one can cut aggro ranges, and just how close to a node you have to be to be able to extract all its resourcey goodness.
As it turns out, we were right to persist. At some point I discovered what that long series of quests actually gave as a final reward, aside from just cold hard cash, and that motivated us as normal items rarely tend to do. A harvesting cloak!!1oneone!! A cloak with bonuses on that make you get mo’ betta stuff! Oh, and the featherfall effect on it ain’t bad for people who happen to be scared of heights.
But wait, there’s more!
As the picture above shows, we’re also now riding two extremely stylish (and yes, quite clearly cloned) and useful equines who, presumably by virtue of their resource-scenting horns (?), also provide a harvesting bonus — a very respectable +48 — and of course the expected speed increase you get from any mount. Numbers alone mean nothing without context, so for the harvesting-stat geeks among you, I should note that one’s harvesting skill is limited by the highest level a character has, crafting or adventuring: Fairuza is a max-level provisioner at 80, so her base maximum harvesting skill is 5 x 80 = 400. The cloak and the mount therefore provide a not-quite-20% bonus, which I reckon is none too shabby.
And, of course, has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that my rares mojo has vanished! That or the blasted unicorn is eating them while I’m not looking. Or, as is usually the case, one gets a huge bonus to something and suddenly one expects the entire world — or in this case, rares catalog of EQ2 — to fall in one’s lap. It’ll pass, I know; in the meantime, I feel cheated every time I go out harvesting and don’t come back with a packful of rares.
Speaking of which, another good move EQ2 made was to increase the incidence of said rares. They used to be… well, really really rare; that or I was just really really unlucky. A few years back, coming home with a half dozen divers rares after a day’s worth of harvesting was a great day; now, with the newer, higher drops, if I don’t get my half dozen within a couple of hours (in the lower tiers, at any rate) I start to get sullen and sulky and stamp my cute wood elf foot till the RNG gives in. Yes, it means rares aren’t as rare and more people are decked out in them or using them for decoration –but that kind of MMOflation seems to be inevitable without beyond-draconian curbing measures, so if it’s going to happen anyway we may as well enjoy the process. (I’ve never understood the whole “I play MMOs like a penitent would wear a hair shirt — if it doesn’t hurt and itch and isn’t crawling with lice, I don’t want anything to do with it!” How, exactly, is that fun? Sure, there’s excessive item- and rarity-mania *cough* WoW *cough* but there’s a whole spectrum between hair shirts/self-flagellation and cartoony consumption excess. Anyway, moving on.)
The unicorns themselves are a buyable reward from the far-ranging Far Seas Trading Company, whose Supply Division one encounters in the latest expansion. Just getting to where they are willing to talk to outsider plebs like us takes a few quests and quite some doing, and of course rewards a fair bit of crafting xp along the way — and once that’s done, we can take part in the crafterish equivalent of daily raids. Woohooo!
Wait, stop, whoa. Daily raids? Having to log in and do something repetitive over and over and over again for a crappy little incremental — did I mention overpriced? — upgrade that will let me compete only so I can repeat the whole process for the next crappy little incremental upgrade? Say it ain’t so!
Fortunately, it ain’t so. There are daily crafting instances (daily in the sense that a character can only do one instance per day), but they aren’t obligatory and there are other ways of obtaining some of the goodies that come from them. Part of the rewards include faction with the Far Seas Supply Division, which is required in order to be able to buy some of the cool stuff they sell — like unicorns; but faction can be obtained through bog-standard writs, too. The instances also grant tokens, which are part of the payment required for said cool stuff, but those can be obtained (albeit at a much slower rate) through weekly repeatable quests. What the instances have that other methods don’t is loot — bien sur — of a type to make crafters drool: jewellery, recipe books, more tokens, the odd rare resource and so on. However, none of that is obligatory. I don’t have to do any of those instances to be a decent crafter; the only reason I might have to do them is for the recipe books that, as far as I know, can’t be obtained any other way.
On the bright side, they can be done solo, provided the crafter in question has the time. There are 4 different instances but they’re all basically the same format: 12 each of 9 different items (3 items for each of the three crafting “trees”), so a total of 108. Any crafter can make any item required by the instance, though things will be much smoother within one’s own tree. Mort and I have been doing them almost every day, and with two of us the instances take 60-90 minutes each. Since we both actively enjoy crafting, it’s not onerous at all.
I was going to wax lyrical about the various instance-places and stories and rewards, but I’m trying to keep my word counts down. In the meantime, have a random Mini-Me type picture. More next time!