Choo Choo!

No, that’s not the loot train pulling into its stop.

Long before EverQuest’s Karnor’s Castle garnered infamy, the art of training was in its infancy in a little zone called Solusek B (Sol B, sister zone to the lower level Sol A). Sol B was one of the higher end zones in the original EQ, with tiered levels of mobs providing experience from the upper 30’s well into the 50’s. Mobs were generally in larger packs than previous zones, spaced closer together, and had a decent respawn speed. Add in clueless noobs and the fact that most paths invariably crossed, pure chaos would ensue.

Upon zoning into Sol B (there was one main zone-in and multiple side zone-ins from Sol A), you were greeted by some form of Kobold. They hit rather hard for their level (when the zone was new, nobody had much in the way of gear) and occasionally had a healer packed in with them. They would also flee, and, god forbid you didn’t snare them or you could be sure many new friends would be racing to properly greet (kill) you.

If you were the only group there, this wouldn’t seem like a problem, since you could easily set up near the zone out and simply pull there and run 10 feet to the zone out if something went wrong. However, unlike World of Warcraft, there were no private instances at this time. Twenty hours of the day you could be sure there would be at least 30 others in Sol B and during peak hours there would be well over 70 people in the zone.

Mobs in Everquest were very social, meaning they would attack other groups if you hadn’t generated enough hate or someone zoned out and they were wandering back to their spawn spot (no evade+sprint back as in WoW). They would also chase until either they died or all aggro players were dead (unless you were a Monk, Necro, or Shadowknight with feign death). One bad pull from the back of the zone could easily make its way to the front and wipe out anyone caught in its path. This was known as training, and usually nobody bothered to warn anyone that one was incoming.

I can recall many 20+ Kobold trains wiping out half of the zone as you’d notice the zone’s population go from 70 to 40, and 5 minutes later the yelling would begin. The higher level mobs in Sol B (Bats, Lava Spiders) were also close to the lower level Kobolds making it that much easier for some moron to go wandering and bring the house down on you.

The biggest train I’d ever seen was one of about 10 Lava Spiders, 15 or so bats, and about 30 Kobolds. They even managed to pull the rare spawn Noxious Spider ensuring that everyone was poisoned and would die even after zoning out. Truly, it was one of those rare sights you just had to sit back and laugh.

To think some of these trains were not malicious would be naive. Hell, being a Monk myself, I purposely wiped many groups who dared to invade my group’s camp spot and pull our mobs, or to just kill off some asshat I didn’t like. Since I had feign death, there was little reason to worry about reprisal — if they did try something, I’d simply wipe them again. Scenarios like this lead to another phrase in Everquest, “Never fuck with a monk”.

Karnor’s Castle may have later claimed status as the largest and most frequent zone of trains, but everything has a beginning, and it was quite a bit of fun being part of it. I had some amazing trains in Karnor’s Castle as well, but that’s another story.

Behold, The Froglok King

(PREFACE: I’ve coaxed Raster, guild bud and raid leader oft-extraordinaire, out from behind the scenes of AFK Gamer to recount some of his stories from the olde days. Many times in EverQuest, and now in World of Warcraft, while pushing out levels or waiting around for named spawns to show, we’ve asked Raster to tell us one of his Old Man Stories — that is, a gaming story or server drama from the early EQ (DAoC, AC, UO, et al) days.

His ability to recall fight details, player names and loot drops is absolutely unmatched. So is his ability to hold a grudge, but you’ll discover that soon enough.

So, whenever the time starts to drag or the trash clearing begins to run long, we’ll ask Raster: Tell us a story about the old days.

And he’ll say something like: Do you wanna hear about the first time we killed The Froglok King in EQ? – Foton)

The good old days. Cliche? Probably. However, still quite accurate. For all I felt went wrong in the later days of EverQuest, I truly enjoyed the beginning. The vast majority of content was solo or group based and there was a more direct relationship between effort and reward. Most zones were setup to hold multiple groups with multiple named areas available to drop various equipment. Groups would go on for hours, leveling took time and while gear was nice, skill was still important. I may be in the minority, but I always preferred to work a little rather than the instant gratification approach World of Warcraft (WoW) has taken.

I still remember our server’s first attempt at The Froglok King, boss of the live side of Lower Guk. There were no online guides, no maps of the dungeon, just a few groups exploring reaches we’d never seen and with no idea of what was to come.

If you never played EverQuest, you may be wondering why this would be exciting to anyone. Lower Guk was a rather large zone split into a live and dead side (similiar to WoW’s Stratholme). However, unlike WoW instances, Lower Guk was not nearly as streamlined to lead you towards any boss. There were numerous tunnels intertwined and leading nowhere in particular, loaded with roaming mobs on top of the regular spawns, none of which would reset until you were dead … no matter where you ran. There were invisible walls, holes in floors, you name it, you probably wandered into it…and paid the price.

Still wondering? When you died in Everquest, all of your gear and gold stayed on your corpse exactly where you died. You went back to wherever you were bound (much like a hearthstone however not restricted to certain locations) no matter how far away that may have been. Sometimes you could spend more time getting your body back when you were logged on than actually killing things.

This may not have been the most player-friendly method, but it sure as hell added a risk/reward factor that does not really exist in WoW. Try to imagine three groups of players (15 total) blindly roaming through a zone none of us had ever been in and knew nothing about, looking for a boss we didn’t know existed.

We slaughtered the entrance Frogloks and plowed through the Minotaurs behind them. Through much trial and error we made our way through the winding tunnels and emerged in a water filled room with three planks to allow passage. Halfway through the room I noticed something out of the corner of my screen making a beeline for us. Holy shit, it’s a huge eye and it’s nuking us! People frantically scurried about, some taking a swim, as we tried to group up and engage it. Once it was downed, we were rewarded with the server’s first Manastone (no-cooldown right-click health-for-mana item, unlimited use. Oh yes, imagine the power).

Continuing on, we passed the Froglok Fort (we later learned the Froglok Crusader spawned inside) followed the path down some terrain (Froglok Noble spawn) and came to a room with a seemingly well-guarded dead end. Oh shit, it was actually an invisible wall and the Frogloks came pouring through to greet us, along with the Huge Water Elemental (which was ironically quite tiny). Splat.

A few hours, and many dead Frogloks later, we returned to the spot of our quick, bloody demise to try again (respawn was 20ish minutes — you mess up, you redo it all). Our friendly water elemental was turned into a puddle in short order and in the next room we met a few Frogloks and their gargoyle buddies, who were also dispatched of. Finally, after all of this time, we came upon the King’s chamber complete with throne and what do we see other than a Froglok Guk Knight. Fuck! (In Everquest, bosses did not always spawn and often had placeholders you had to continually clear until the boss finally spawned.)

It took 7 spawns for The Froglok King to appear and two of his guards respawned during the battle, healing him back to full quite a few times. Our Clerics and Paladins tried to stun, tanks tried to keep the adds under control and our casters unloaded their wads. One guard died, then the second and the King was alone again. When he was finally getting low on health what else happens but he uses Lay of Hands on himself (similiar to paladin ability in WoW, massive paladin-only heal). Undaunted, we pressed on and six of us fell before he finally keeled over at our feet. For all of our time and effort we were rewarded with the first Mithril Two-Handed Sword (best 2h sword to date at the time on our realm) as well as it being the first server kill.

Here’s to hoping developers start innovating and making things new and fun again instead of following the same old, and quickly tiring, formula.


I was clicking through some new links, (mmmm, net freshness), when I happened upon yet another gaming web comic strip. Man … normally I don’t even bother reading those anymore.

To do a comic strip you need to be: A. funny, and B. a good artist, and most are C. neither.

I didn’t even get past the first strip, y’know to see if he was usually funny and a good artist, because his main character had the exact same name as this crazy fuck I knew in EverQuest-Classic. Let’s say his name was Venus, although it wasn’t, so don’t ask any Venuses you run across if they’re crazy fucks. (Even though they probably are, that would be rude.)

Now Venus, the character, was a half-elf chick, but Venus, the player, was a dude. (Ya, one of those shemales you’ve heard so much about.) Apparently it was Venus’ aim to roleplay a lesbian slut because he spent the latter portion of his EQ career trying to cyber the pants off of every pixelated female on the server.

At least he was carving out his own niche in the cyber game.

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