August 2001

ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL [Author: Snowspinner]

As it turns out, my previous source from Blood of the Spider was not quite correct about what’s been going on since the patch. Although the warders have been spawning, the word from Emil is that GM Vaylin, apparently the lead GM for the server, has been killing all four warders as soon as they spawn, even after the patch. In the 21 days since they woke the sleeper, that is 9 kills of the warders that have been nixed by the GMs, still with no comment from Verant.

To rub salt into the wound, the Sleeper’s script, which went off so fabulously, apparently continued going off after the patch, with Lord Nagafen spouting a bit in Sol B without any warders being killed.

I talked to Axxiss, a Guide on The Rathe about this, and got the response

[Sat Aug 18 16:07:55 2001] Axxiss tells you, ‘I have no idea on that. For official comments you would need to email’

I also e-mailed some high-ups at Verant asking for a comment on Saturday. I was assured a response, but this response has yet to materialize, so I went ahead and went to the presses with what I had. Needless to say, if anyone from Verant does get back to me, I’ll post another update with whatever information is given. Until then, lemme make a few statements based on what we have.

First of all, I admit, I’m not much of a fan of Primal Velium weapons, as I’ve said before. That said, it’s not unreasonable to consider them the best drops in the game. And it’s been made really clear that Sleeper’s Tomb is supposed to be an exciting goal that we all aspire to get to hunt in. So, frankly, arbitrarily cutting out some of the sources of primal velium on only one server does not seem like the… fairest way of handling things. I mean, this is the reward for finally legitimately completing the so-called hardest fight in Everquest? A broken script and a lobotomization of your server? I’ll stick to Temple of Veeshan, thank you.

And second of all, Verant’s silence on this is increasingly looking, to be blunt, really fucking shoddy. I mean, this is something that lots of us, including lower level players, have been looking forward to seeing. It’s been hailed as a big, fabulous event. And the screenshots of the Sleeper looked amazing, I’ll admit. But since then… zone crashes and bugs. Pardon me for feeling like the kid who ripped open the biggest Christmas present to find a huge box of He-Man underwear, but this isn’t exactly the climax I was hoping for. And Verant hasn’t said a word to even admit that things got fucked up, little yet to explain why they’re punishing the entire server for setting off the script before it was done… again.

Maybe this is just an expectations game, so we’ll be really pleased with Luclin?


Broken Zek!


Druid Zek!


Shadow Zek? Ever Bane? Dark Age of Zek? Anarchy OnCrack?

Beta Zek?

It’s pretty clear that the Sullon Zek server is Verant’s first semi-serious attempt to put PVP into their game. The other Zeks have been orphan children – concepted, birthed and then given away for adoption to the player base.

Everquest is first and foremost a PVE game and that priority has kept Verant pretty busy tweaking PVE balance, creating expansions, adding more must-have equipment, upping the level cap, spreading out the population into more and more zones, etc.. Basically they’ve put alot of work into everything that makes it difficult to PVP on a level playing field and for tangible results. But it keeps the hamster wheels turning. It keeps everyone plugged into the matrix, so that’s cool enough.

But then along comes a new wave of PIGs (Player Interactive Games) and hell if they’re not all closely addressing the PVP aspects of PIGing as a major part of their design. Hmmmm… this MEANS something. It means a few things, really.

1) Verant smelled the possibility in the air that the competition was developing a competitive advantage over them.

2) There’s a lot of PVE content in EQ now, so there’s breathing room maybe to tackle some other issues

3) The designers and developers at Verant are 5th and 6th Circle players itching for something more than beating the game and showing off the fact that they did it. It’s no closely guarded secret that most of the coders for EQ play on SZ.

All of this adds up to Sullon Zek – a new server with new rules, a new emphasis on PVP, and what appears to be a new attempt to make actual code changes to improve the state of PVP in EQ. But you know what all those “news” in one sentence mean. BETA. And that’s pretty much what we’re getting on SZ – the beta testing of PVP balancing ideas. It’s actually been an interesting trip thus far, and this is your status report you big, lovely, arm-chair designers.

They’ve taken alot of interesting steps

1) Unfragmenting the community by removing pvp level limits

2) Opening up options and fearless fighting by removing artificial rules about what’s acceptable

3) Balancing risk by finding a mid ground between item and coin-only loot – xp loss

4) Eliminating cross teaming

5) Cutting down on super-twinking low levels with high level buffs

6) Getting rid of the de-leveling strategy

7) Disguising exact levels to limit bottom-feeding kills

8) Implemented a point system to focus achievers on PVP

There’s some pretty good stuff there. But how is it working out? What’s broken, that’s what we all want to know, right?

We’ve seen a few changes go into the server since it started, but here are the current top concerns of the citizens of Druid Zek… er, Sullon Zek. Or at least these are the things I hear most often.

1) The point system, while interesting is lacking some basic usability for a few reasons.

—a) The ease with which a few players can sink their entire team by killing weaker players for negative points (by the way, when this negative points trend started, the evils had about 173,000 points – who knows how many “positive” point days were actually greatly reduced by negative points before it became obvious how severe the impact is)

—b) The lack of any “territory held” perspective conveyed by the points

—c) The lack of guild affiliation info on the top individual scores

2) The recent attempt to level the playing field by adjusting saves and allowing low levels players to have a much better chance at hurting high level players have pretty much broken PVP. Some of the most active PVPers are really cutting back on their PVP due to this change. And I don’t mean just that the bottom-feeders have cut back, I mean legitimate conflicts over zones between relatively equal forces are being scaled back or disappearing. This is because low-level “green” players are more numerous and can now do substantial damage to high level players WITHOUT risking experience loss and WITH the ability to inflict it. That’s ugly.

3) The server has currently been turned into what has been lovingly called “Druid Zek” by one simple SZ-only “bug”. Basically the ability to cancel buffs on enemy players with pumice/cancel magic has been taken away. Since Druids derive tremendous benefits from buffs, this places them in a MUCH better position in PVP. Rogues, for instance, can’t even think about attacking a druid with a damage shield up – it’s suicide. Enchanters will have little chance of making a kill on anyone with strong buffs up unless they can strip them off. Wizards can now use levitate spells to hover over water and pummel melee characters with spells without any fear of retaliation since the melee players can’t get to them. All of these things would change dramatically with the ability to remove beneficial spells from opponents. Incidentally, I also happen to think it heightens the skill involved in PVP since the struggle to keep or strip buffs in a fight adds another dimension that is otherwise missing.

Those are the MAIN complaints, although as always there’s no real shortage of them. On the whole, Sullon Zek has been the most interesting server I’ve played on thus far in Everquest. We’ve seen some actual cohesion happening among the religious teams that were created, and some sense of strategy over zone control continues to develop. This has leant an air of interest to PVP that has otherwise been absent on the other team servers (barring perhaps early Tallon Zek). The balance of the evil team having more numbers and slightly better zone control vs. the neutral team having far great mobility of troops with their concentration of druids has really made things interesting. And right now the teams actually do plot against each other to rip zones away from the other side.

I have some measure of respect for the Verant team for taking on this challenge. I just hope they realize that when it comes to PVP in their game they really should continue to maintain a healthy “beta” attitude about analyzing the effects of their actions. It’s clear that there are some good things going on here, but it’s equally clear that there are some mistakes in action right now. As long as we don’t lock down into the “Vision” disease, I think there can be some nice progress. Let’s hope we see it.


The False Prophet

Gratuitous RP Signature


Here is one of the more salient quotes from the article:

Asked about the possibility that game moderators are not clearly identifying what constitutes illegal behavior in game, McQuaid defended current practices, though he allowed that Sony might not be communicating them effectively. “We are labelling exploits as we always have – that being using bugs to your advantage in-game”, he asserts. “Conquest used spell stacking bugs to their advantage and they used a safe zone – an area where a pathing bug made it such that an NPC wouldn’t pursue those that it was mad at – to their advantage.”

“Taking advantage of bugs is NOT okay [his emphasis] and we’re saying that 1) knowing you’re exploiting a bug, and 2) where and to what end you’re exploiting, are both factors in determining how we react to a player or players who are exploiting”

I don’t know about you, but I’m confused. It seems to me that what he is saying, more or less, is that players in EQ are responsible for both being aware of what is and isn’t a bug, and for not exploiting any they find. I’m not exactly sure how they are supposed to do this. Read the minds of the EQ GMs? Camp Dr. Twisters? (Oh yeah I forgot — his network dissapeared today). Hope against hope that IGN really does start a bug base they can subscribe to? Every day I am happier and happier I don’t actually play this game.

Anyway to move along, we’d like to welcome all you folks joining us from Computer Games Magazine to our scrumpdillyishus contentious yet valuable website. We disagree with this august tome’s definition of our site. Meretritious we are not! We are ALL about peace and love. No one is ever mean in our forums. And the community? To die for. Really. Like butter.

To prove I mean that I’ve dug up a little history for you folks. This first link is the original story. The next is Brad’s first statement and Conquest rebuttal. Last but not least we have Brad’s follow up statement. When you are done with the history lesson, be sure to pop into our forums. Don’t mind the pirhanna, they are just there for show.


Rumors that IGN was in talks to purchase the Dr Twister network surfaced over the weekend; rumors that included the intentions for IGN to purchase his bug database and charge a small fee for access to it. While those rumors at this time are entirely unconfirmed, it is interesting to note that WHILE I AM WRITING THIS UPDATE, one by one, the various Dr Twister sites are falling down/go boom from the internet. As for these deletions, other rumors report that this is the result of an internal revolt and that updaters who were informed that their services would no longer be required by IGN are deleting the sites they used to work for.

As facts come in to confirm and/or deny these rumors, we will do our best to keep you up to date.

UBERMOB WRAP-UP [Author: Snowspinner]


She died. She dropped gimp loot. A lot of high elves cried, but they didn\’e2\’80\’99t tell anyone, because they were too manly. There’s no real news here, but you can take it as a license to make “elves are gay” jokes in the discussion thread. Just, like, make them funny and stuff.

The Avatar of War

He died. His loot wasn’t gimpy. It also wasn’t Primal Velium, but we’ve already discussed my issues with that. Of course, as you know, after the second time he died, Verant nerfed the hell out of charm. A few floundering attempts at communication later, Verant managed to explain that there was a bug that made pets get much, much more hate than they were supposed to. I’ll refrain from comment on whether or not the nerf was really the smartest way to deal with this problem, but I will continue to suggest that maybe Verant should have known in advance that this was going to set off a shitstorm, and had an explanation out in the first place, instead of letting the cries of “NERFING BASTARDS” grow as loud as they did.

Since the last patch, though, the giants in Kael have been restored to their previously charmable state. Of course, once they did that mage pets stopped casting spells. But they fixed that. Of course, then the Necromancers started claiming their pets had been nerfed. Verant claims otherwise. Damned if I know what’s going on there. No doubt the Beastlord pets would be broken too, if they were implemented yet.

This doesn’t quite mean the Avatar of War is going to go down again, of course, because those convenient giant pets with complete heal aren’t gonna be getting quite so much hate. Since guilds tend to not like to tell you their kill schedules in advance, I didn’t bother asking around to see if Legacy of Steel or Shock of Swords had any plans to go make the kill again. Still, good luck to whoever does it. Me, I’m rooting for Triton, but that’s because they’re absolutely crazy.

The Sleeper

Well, aside from an off-handed comment in an Ask Brad column, Verant hasn’t made any comments on this one way or another on this kill. They certainly haven’t admitted whether the script was broken or not. You can judge for yourself based on the description here. Mobhunter also reports here on some details as to what went on between the kill and the patch. Basically, the Sleeper didn’t respawned, nor did any of the Warders, leaving The Rathe a server wondering nervously whether their server was now completely screwed out of Primal Velium forevermore. Why the discussion on this topic was over on Fires of Heaven’s boards is beyond me, but I’ll just trust that there’s a larger reason behind all of this.

A quick chat with Yinkin, member of Blood of the Spider, confirms that this problem has in fact been squared away with the last patch, and that the Sleeper is resting soundly in its tomb once again. Barring any nerfs to the warders, we can only hope that next time Verant gets its script working right.

And there we have it. The ubermobs, two weeks later. On the whole, I have to admit relative disappointment here. I mean, three of the biggest kills in EQ, things that had, previously, provided constant fodder for “What will happen when…” games amongst my friends, came out to be either bug-ridden, reacted to with a poorly handled nerf, or a complete and utter disappointment.

So much for the climax of Velious. Better luck with Luclin?


From the State of the Code:

I was just booted for “use of speed altering programs”. When did you start doing this?

Effective immediately, players who are detected using speed altering programs will be temporarily removed from Asheron’s Call. Repeated use of these programs may result in permanent removal from the game. If you have been detected and feel there might be a mistake, please submit a report here and we will investigate.

Normally, I would celebrate this, and make no mistake, it should be heralded as a step in a positive direction for the game. However, I’m too busy wondering why I’ve been having so many connection problems in the past two days.

Apparently, the patch and hardware upgrades didn’t quite go according to plan:

UPDATE: Lag/Packet Loss Issues, August 16th

We continue to work on this issue. We will be doing some server work in the next 12 hours that we believe should improve the situation. We hope that this will not require downtime to implement. However, it is possible that it may. If it turns out that we need downtime to finish this maintenance, we will be sure to inform all players. If you experience the type of lag listed below, please be sure to file an urgent assistance call so we can obtain more information about your type of connection.

What’s a little more downtime among friends? After all, I’ve only died five or so times in the Olthoi Horde Nest because of it. Well, after they fixed the Olthoi Horde Nest. They broke the entire dungeon after the patch. It’s fixed now. I could have avoided playing the game for the past few days, but I don\’e2\’80\’99t pay $10 a month to avoid playing the game.

All in all, it has been both a good week and a bad week in the world of Dereth.


I like public forums. I like letters to the editor. It harkens back to a time when individual members of society participated in the events taking place around them. It lends a sense of community and maintains that cohesive force that keeps people together. Of course, there are other cohesive forces that keep a group of disparate people together, but those are called prisons.

Otto von Bismarck, the
“Iron Chancellor” was an interesting guy. Hitler’s reference to the Third Reich, was building off of the legacy of what he interpreted as the first and second. And as far as the second heyday of Teutonic domination goes, Bismarck ran the store.

Prussia’s king, William, appointed him as premier and gave him a specific goal. “Ot,” Will said. “I wanna have an army. A big army. A big powerful army. Ya see, buddy, I want power. I lust for it. I ache for it. I yearn for the heady rush of being able to smack down our neighboring wankers, who are really messing with my groove, and get away with it. And I want you to arrange it. Would you like some pie?”

So to sum up the history lesson, Otto did this:

1. In a ballsy little maneuver he violated the country’s constitution and dissolved the parliament which was opposing the army

2. He provoked a war with Austria

3. He published the Ems dispatch, which was an edited conversation between the King and the French ambassador. Otto reworded it, removing any conciliatory language, and ended up with an inflammatory article which he knew would get under the foreign government’s skin. Thus he precipitated his next war, with France.

4. He rallied the Germanic states and unified them against the French threat. The actual war was only a device to get what he wanted: In 1871 William became the German emperor.

What’s this got to do with ORPGs? Well the Stream of Thought is all about drifting until you bump into something that spins you off in a new direction. Yesterday my stream hit the rapids and my kayak is already prone to taking on water. Stick with me.

I was in a game. (‘In’ is the right word here, because I wasn’t actually playing but I was taking part in the ongoing synergy which is online gaming.) I was having a conversation with my vassal, when one of the wee ones strolled up and asked me for help getting to a particular destination. I pointed him/her/it in the right direction, told him/her/it which path to follow, which translocators to take, and what landmarks he/she/it should expect to see. This was apparently not good enough and the wee one asked me if I would personally guide him/her/it. I tried to
reply. I wanted to say, “I’m a little busy right now. Sorry. Good luck, tho.” But instead of that, I made a typing mistake, which often happens to those who try to type too much at once. My reply was nevertheless quite simple.


I was amused by my koan-like reply. I imagined that the wee one would
immediately go take a flying satori and come back a better person for it. I was wrong. The wee one replied back, “Yes you, butthole.”

I was disappointed by his/her/its lack of any sense of adventure. One of the fun parts about having a virtual landmass to explore is that you have a virtual landmass to explore. The fun is in getting there and your sense of accomplishment is based on how little help you needed to do it. Discovering something on your own is the best. You can maintain the illusion that you are the only one to have seen it. Directions and coordinates are less fun because the novelty is tarnished by other peoples’ involvement, but to actually be led
by the hand to a new location doesn’t sound like a good time at all. At least to me. Everyone has their own way of doing things though.

But mostly I was intrigued by this one’s ingratitude and self-importance. How dare someone not drop what they’re doing and help me, when I need it? Just precious. Normally, I don’t mind seeing people who are self-centered. There’s nothing wrong with looking out for number one. Just don’t get buried in number two when your self-centeredness intrudes on someone else’s.

It was shortly after this, that I recalled the recent Iluvatar post. His actions were also motivated by selfish reasons. When you are self-absorbed,its easy to agree with the ends-justify-the-means point of view. The consequences of your actions on other people mean considerably less when you really don’t care about them. I thought his actions were rather hypocritical, but that, too, comes easy to a self-centered personality.

Its not hard to believe that this selfishness is a recent phenomenon. Some see the loss of civility and manners as just a part of the current state of affairs. Some believe that when any animal population grows too large that there are natural mechanisms to counter it such as disease, increased violence, and dissent. But these problems have been around for much longer than that. Even Jesus the Nailed God, who many believe was the most compassionate and self-sacrificing individual who may have lived, once got pissy with a fig tree and cursed it when he couldn’t find any fruit on it to eat. (Since He was also Jesus the Miracle Caterer, such a destructive act is even more significant.)

The upshot of all this, is that it is preparing people for the next cultural breakthrough. These are society’s growing pains. You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs and those eggs are societal conventions. So the next time some inconsiderate brat aims for some assistance and finds that “butthole” totally misses the mark, remember that he may be the next Otto von Bismarck, looking to build an empire.


WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

—–Original Message—–

From: ***** *******

Sent: 8/16/2001 9:28 AM

You, Your children and a Guest are invited to Sierra’s company picnic

at *Location removed – I dont wanna be sued – Arc

August 25th from 12:00 – 4:00


Includes Hula Show with Lessons

Other entertainment includes:

Steel Drum Band, Spin Art for Kids, Limbo

Inflatable toys for everyone to enjoy

a jungle maze and much more

Food Includes:

Hamburgers, Veggie Burgers, Hot Dogs, Fruit Salad, Potato Salad, Chips, Cole slaw, baked beans and dessert

Drink Includes:

Pop, water, beer and wine (2 drink tickets per guest)

RSVP by Monday, August 20, 2001

I guess all that money being saved by putting almost 200 people out of work yesterday means that The Fun Committee has oodles of overhead budget just begging to be spent.

FYI to Dynamix folks: You’re not invited. Please don’t attend.

UO NEWS AND WHIRLED REPORT [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

Page One: What do you do when you’ve patched all the bugs?

<img border=”0″ src=””
OSI Dev responsible for the
return of precasting.

The answer is simple: You start unpatching the bugs you’ve already patched. I’m talking about the gimp that was precasting. Remember that? It was deemed unbalancing and referred to as an exploit that tips the balance of PVP by EA-Austin developers. Contrary to revisionist websites, you actually heard about it here back when this was an unannounced “feature” in one of the testing packages (and I apologize in advance for the fubar formatting on that page). Taking a guess here, but it is my gut instinct that the reason this wasn’t announced it because OSI wasn’t aware that it even existed until after the players found out. But if I’m wrong, then the only reason I can imagine for NOT asking players to test, debug, and refine a precasting Uber-Tank-Mage patch is if they knew they’d be taken to task for re-introducing a feature they had previously condemned, and testified to being a huge imbalance in PVP combat. And if you think it isn’t imbalancing, then I challange you to face down a GM Mage / GM macer who can para you, ebolt you, hit you with a mace for another 20 points so hard that you are stunned again, and then ebolt you once more. You just took over 200 points of damage and you were not able to move one step the entire time. The last time I saw a battle this unbalanced, I was trying to beat the AI at Civilization II.

Anyway, the point of this page is to update you. The precasting beta test has ended, and it is now a live feature on the Baja shard (according to – take that for what it is worth to you). God Bless you, Developer Obi-Erkel. You’re our only hope.

Page Two: An enchanting proposition

Follow this link to a thread on the UO boards where a player posts a pretty cool idea to finally introduce the ability to craft magically charged items in UO; something no fantasy RPG should ever be without. I’m not sure who to ultimately credit for this idea, but the point is: it’s a cool one. Check it out.

(Helps if I remember to inclue the link. -Arcadian)

Incidentally, I had heard of another cool idea not too long ago, but sadly could not find a page or thread to link with, but it was very similar, only it included the idea that gemstones would be used as construction components as part of the process. And honestly, gemstones are such an ass-pain right now. You can only sell about 8 a day to a vendor for a whopping 250 gold coins. But you can gather them at a rate of 20 gems an hour. People are discarding them and/or using them as house decorations (because we *still* dont have a means to “nudge” items around our houses, we have to prop them up on eggs, gems, and black pearls). Anyway, these ideas probably pale in comparison to NEW CAT AND PARROT GRAPHICS.

Section update: Decorator tools are working, but my houses are not.

Just to clarify, I indicated above that in UO we still cannot “nudge” house decorations around to place them exactly where we want them. I wanted to mention that I’ve tried them and they have never worked for me, and it was my understanding that they were either (a) not done or (b) awaiting further testing. A few players have reported to me that the decorator tools are working for them, so I am going to invite someone to my house tonight to see what results they can come up with. If not, we’ll probably have to page a GM and hope the words “yeah, being on a server line sucks” are not uttered.

Page Three: A wino in a hooded robe is still a drunken hobo

Checking in on Myschyf’s excellent update yesterday (yes, believe it or not, I too, was very excited by some of the new content in the latest patch), I see that I’m not the only one who is still torn 50/50 between being excited about new fangled robes and shoes and gloves, and being frustrated that the people who are going to put these things on still look like crap. Until my characters stop resembling this guy, I’m really kinda indifferent about clothes with reflective strips.

Page Four: Your contractually required cat picture

Upon seeing the new UO:3D cats

(just being funny. The cats look pretty good.)