Once you start to get a handle on the bugs, there’s a glimmer of gold itching to be free. Early on, Granik and I formed a “brotherhood”. It’s not a guild, its not a group; members send their experience to the ‘hood and it is then shared out amongst all members. The result for us has been that we’ve remained in levelling lock step despite going off and doing our own things or playing different hours. We level within a kill or two of each other.
The quest line in Kojan dries up suddenly and harshly. Only Thestra and Qalia were available during beta so they are polished and nice and well rounded. Kojan is more of a Vanguard pro/conniseurs zone, IMHO. But it also has some of the more exquisite architecture and scenery.
Our good luck, Granik stumbled upon the key to resuming the remainder of the Kojani quest line – stand in a glimering vortex and wait a little while. This ported us to a vast bridge spanning a stunning chasm, where we received a couple of new quests including one we really enjoyed, dealing with some extra-planar invaders. A sort of ring event or a group-level raid-style event.
We got our butts handed to us a few times, but it wasn’t the game’s fault, and that made it ok. We want back in and worked out how to do it properly. Victory was ours and so was satisfaction.
After these we were still a little unsure where we were supposed to go so we started Night #4 by heading out to one of the other quests we’d picked up from the bridge, to visit “The Asylum”. This is a massive structure carved into the side of a mountain with a view overlooking a naval invasion. (The ships don’t move, although they do vibrate oddly if you go near them)
While the setting might be splendid, it did seem somewhat lacking in … uhm, facilities, which appears to have agitated the occupants.
A friend of Lum’s invited us up to his room to meet his girlfriend and there offered us some work, if we would “deal” with the neighbors. After which we teamed up with another player and I took a really lousy screenshot.
The Paladin/Disciple combination is really working well for us, it just took me a while to understand that I’m a tank, that it’s not my job to dispatch the mobs, I’m the WWF member of the team. Now that I’ve begun to understood that my job is really crowd control I’m starting to dig it and get over my bruised ego that Granik regularly lays down heavier casual hits than my best crits. I can do OK solo but Granik can kill 4-6 mobs in the time I chisel away at one. That’s nothing new to an old bard like me – I just saw heavy armor and thought I was Conan at first.
Unfortunately, that wrapped up our time at the Asylum and we headed into darker lands where we found our first undead and … I got very busy and laid a lot of souls to
smitherenes rest very quickly. Somehow only one screenshot got taken. The mobs quickly got a bit too powerful for us so we returned back to the tiny thread of quest line still running and Granik found another hop to the next segment of quest line.
Arriving at a new base we ran into another freak issue. I couldn’t see Commander Kato and had to have Granik speak on my behalf. Eventually, when we were turning in the quests, the Commander deigned to reveal himself to me. If this is a common issue, it might explain a lot about why we lost the plot for a while. (I could hear Kato’s horse, I just couldn’t see him. I was able to target him thru Granik)
This round of quests kept us busy for a little while before sending us on to meet Master … uhm, something or other. This guy seemed had a problem with planar invaders, a real problem it seems in Vanguard. Actually his quests were kinda fun and lead to a nice little boss encounter. But mostly, Granik and I wondered what exactly was going on between Master and Disciple. The master is the one standing on the porch of his house in the rain, the disciple is the one apparently sleeping in an unfinished barn … in the rain.
Actually, that touches on another glimmer of gold in Vanguard: You get mounts early. At level 10 you can invest 12 silver in not having to walk everywhere. You can buy a number of accoutrements for your horse – saddles, saddlebags, barding, shoes… All of which modify its speed or “stability” (ability to keep you on it if a mob jumps you). And at level 20 another horse with fancier trimmings and apperance becomes available.
There are, actually, a number of teleportation systems for covering really long distances, and currently boat travel is instantaneous – Brad fails to sail again. There are riftways and Granik’s Disciple has a “summon” spell which, although limited, has saved us a few hours.
And then there are flying mounts. Younglings like ourselves can rent a flying mount from tamers near significant towns. You get 10 minutes with a pegasus, which is certainly a great way to bait your interest.
Granik has been playing the “Diplomacy” game. Diplomacy is an optional sidegame. Its a fancy dressing for a huge amount of lore, which is played out as a card game. Unfortunately, Kojani diplomacy is a little tough. Qalia and Thestra have a much smoother introductory curve. Those of us trying to learn it in Kojani get the difficultly level from “easy” to “Oh I’m so gonna lose this” in one quick step. If you bang your head against it for a while, though, you finally make a break through and begin progressing again.
It has its own universe of quests with rewards of various kinds. Its almost what Entertainers should have been in SWG: I always thought Entertainers/Doctors/Musicians/Spies should have been linked thru a side-game called “espionage” where Entertainers got missions that gave them “rumor” rewards, which could be combined thru a crafting-derived “gossip” system; doctors and musicians could have had something similar, and spies could have crafted these gossip fragments together to produce “leads” for other players, leads being storied stubs for missions which the entertainers/doctors could then trade to patients — then you would have a reason to go to a cantina other than to sulk after dying.
Various creatures drop diplomacy cards. Granik’s progressed quite far with it, but I didn’t have the luxury of breaking my teeth on it in Qalia or Thestra and I kinda gave up on it. So I went to try crafting.
The crafting system is extremely elaborate. And, unfortunately, poorly maintained. If you know the crafting system inside out, its a doozie with plenty of features and nuances. I have a hunch the devs have gotten used to working around the unintentional quirks of the crafting system and so don’t realize what a terror it is. I’d hate to see it dumbed down or simplified, it’s almost fine as it is. It just needs to be less buggy and have a few loose ends tied up.
In some ways its a blend of DAoC and Horizons – there is a companion skillset called Harvesting. I’ve taken the route of Blacksmith (and am sort of regretting it; mining nodes tend to be solo while most other nodes, such as trees or plants, come in groups). And if you are harvesting resources in a group, group members can join in and help you increase the yield of individual nodes. That’s gold to Granik and I, I made a bunch of tools (only one of which dissapeared inexplicably – crafting bugs), and we set out and found we could get around 2x as much material out of each node by working together. Excellent.
I don’t think there’s group crafting functionality, that’d be truly awesome but the only game I know that tried that was Horizons, and I don’t recall it working the last time I played.
Easting has been sending me PMs – he’s reached level 8. With Granik and I crafting he may well catch up with us over this week. I think having a party of 3 will be even more fun than a party of 2 has been.
We had a quite sortie tonight, fighting a bunch of Loamsworn Ra’Jin guys in the blighted lands. This quickly re-demonstrated the quirks of Kojan being the least polished/finished continent: We’d killed all the Ra’Jin we needed with the exception of Loamsworn Prophets, which we needed 10 of and in 4 complete spawns had only seen 3 of. Two named guys, Massi and Housai, were making very, very frequent appearances and dropping supposedly rare loot (Granik went from a 9dps two hand weapon to two 10dps hand-to-hand weapons that dropped during our time there).
Infact, once we levelled to 18 and got ahead of the respawns, we’d kill Massai or Housai and a few seconds later when the next mob spawned it would be the same guy again. We killed Housai four times in a row and Massai three. After about 8 rounds of spawning, I was heavily encumbered.
Early on Granik figured that they’d gotten the spawn rates mixed up, making the prophets rare and the rares very common. I’m pretty sure he was spot on. It sure explains why there are tons of these “rare” items on the broker.
Before we left, a Loamsworn Oracle ran away from me and, in my encumbered state, was powerless to stop him running up a near-vertical cliff. Thinking he was gone, I went to help Granik killing another mob. Suddenly I was dead. We couldn’t figure out what had happened, I’d had full health just moments before.
“Loamsworn Oracle hits you for 17000 points of damage”. I’m guessing its some kind of anti-exploit code that doesn’t care whether its the player or the NPC that’s exploiting.
Since we’d only lost one item to a loot bug during the night, and one to crafting, we considered that all good loses and called it a night.
There will definitely be a Night #5, and as we’re getting a handle on some of the more egregious bugs and learning to avoid them, it’s becoming a fairly pleasant passtime.