The cats must die

Yes! Those fluffy, long-tailed creatures with the fish breath! We must strip the fur off each and every one of them, to find Ayba somewhere down in that stinking hole of theirs.

Oric is standing here, in front of their lair:

If you wish to join, no matter your class (but you should be level 35 or higher), come! Let’s meet at the entrance, let’s chop up some kittens! Halfling rage! Oh, and bring some alcohol.

Oric should arrive around 13:00 CET (12:00 UTC/GMT, 7 AM EST, 4 AM PST) and he will pass his time staring at the clouds looking for shapes of animal skulls until some people show up. If no people show up, he will drink himself to sleep and retry next week.

Ayba has disappeared!

Oric and Ayba were exploring the Badlands and King’s Pass together recently, then returned to Surefall Glade to stock up on travel things and their new spells. Surefall doesn’t have a bank, so Oric waved goodbye to Ayba at Surefall to run to Newport and manage his finances and/or prized monster body part storage. Everything seemed fine and Ayba was… Ayba at the time.

But when Oric returned to Surefall, Ayba was gone. Gone! Disappeared! We know that her teleporting powers are still pretty fresh, but she wouldn’t just *poof* herself into nothingness now, would she?

Oric was sure that something sinister was afoot. In fact, Oric is always sure something sinister is afoot, I think that’s part of halfling ranger training nowadays. He asked around Surefall, but no one had seen anything suspicious. There was a faint cat odor in the air, though. Mixed with Ayba’s favorite perfume: moss juice and pine sap.

Being a ranger, Oric did what any ranger would do when faced with a riddle and a fresh track to follow. Head for the nearest place that sells alcohol.

His mind sharpened from the ale, Oric set out on an investigation. The track had gone cold, but there were paw prints and cat hair, which would do just fine. Oric followed them all the way through the sands of the Badlands, asking his way from guards tower to guard tower, but those guards seem to have problems with their helmets since none of them had seen anything. Until:

This guy had seen it clearly! A cat-person and a halfling woman! Or perhaps a dog-person and a gnome man, he wasn’t sure anymore. But seen it he had, and Oric would be rude to distrust such strong evidence, so over the bridge he went.

At this point, Oric had a clear (if ale-induced) image in his mind of what had happened: Ayba had been kidnapped. By a very large magical cat. Don’t frown like that. It happens every day!

The only cat smell in the area came from somewhere down south, mingled with elephant dung and a lot of parrot poo, finally leading Oric to this place:

Cat-people? This means war.

And soon.

Real life hits YOU for 4883 points of damage

Yes, I know. We haven’t been posting anything in a very long time. But there is a reason: We haven’t been playing either! 馃槮

And I can give you an explanation, or rather an excuse, and it’s the same excuse you hear on each and every blog when there has been a lack of posts. Can you guess what it is? Can you? Are you ready? Here it comes: we’re too busy at the moment.

Yeah, I knew you’d guess that.

But we haven’t abandoned Dalaya. Expect to see one or both of us back in action chopping wildlife into cube-shaped bits again this decade.

Oric is so tired from working night shift at the halfling foot shampooing and nail polish parlor.

A shortcut to more platinum

This post is about something that’s an unavoidable evil for most Dalayans: Money.

It’s especially tough for halflings, because what little money they make, they invest in pork ribs and chocolate cake, and they invest those in their tummies. It’s a delicious business, but the returns aren’t so great.

That’s why Ayba and I were intrigued by a certain class of (usually long-legged) merchants of some sort. They’re standing around in many towns, especially those posh ones that have magic guilds. They call themselves unbinders and they might be our ticket to a rich life full of apple pie and lamb cutlets.

Some of the loot we pick off our enemies’ mutilated body parts includes stuff we’re clueless and confused about. Either we can’t use it in the first place (A halfling in a robe! Scandalous) or we need to replace it with something else at some point down the road, but it seems to have grafted to our skin and we can’t let go.

For these situations, unbinders are perfect. Even if they’re not trustworthy on account of they’re ridiculous long legs, they offer two services:

Unbinding removes the No Drop flag from any item and replaces it with a bind to soul type of thing. That way, you can sell stuff you’ve outgrown to other people, and then they will be stuck with the silly no drop flag.

Unchanting strips most magic from an item (including No Drop), making it useless but still pretty. Merchants like pretty things, so they buy this stuff at decent prices. At any rate, beats making absolutely nothing off of it. Unchanting doesn’t even cost anything! A perfect win-lose situation!

Both of these services are incredibly useful if you want to raise your cash level a bit. And with all the food, food-related and food-enhancing products halflings like to buy, every piece of platinum counts. So as soon as we manage to get something that’s hard to sell to players and useless to us, we’ll see you at the unbinder.

Oric is happy about (new) weapons

You know halflings: peace-loving, tree-hugging individuals with manly fur on their feet and a tendency for overeating.

Not so Oric; he’s happy, nay, elated when he gets to chop up animals and decapitate people. So far he’s been using two Mastercrafted Broad Swords for that, which he’d bought from one of those long women dressed in a daytime carpenter/nighttime pole dancer costume. The blades were alright, but nothing fancy.

So I decided to spend the commute home on the train yesterday looking for affordable gear on Shards of Dalaya’s web-based item listing system. You see, SoD offers a system usually referred to as “listsold”, where you can dump a bunch of bags at your banker, mark the items as for sale, set a price and just wait for the money to roll in. The trick here is that there is no globally searchable system for the items on offer. There are just pages and pages of listings, both web-based and in-game. It’s like a classified ads system: To find the good stuff, you have to read through a lot of people’s ads and聽 have a bit of luck. No fancy-shmancy fulltext search and result filtering system for you.

While a bit archaic, the system works quite well. At first I had spotted two Mithril Long Swords: 13 damage! Reasonable delay! Droolworthy! But as often in the life of a halfling, boundless enthusiasm is followed by the stomach-punch of depression: The listsold system was bugged, it didn’t let me buy those swords and kept claiming that the player named Soyer isn’t really selling item #41, all the while taunting me with the beautiful listing of “#41 Mithril Long Sword”. Even repeated listings showed the item, but purchase requests didn’t go through. I don’t know what was wrong, perhaps the listings only get synced once in a while and someone else hat bought those swords from under my nose.

Oh well. Oric bought two Mithril Short Swords instead (10/24 and very light), then downed three Valiums and followed them with gin tonic, which lead to this facial expression:

happy_mithril_short_sword

Once the stuff wore off, he assured me that he had felt happy at that point in time. He also couldn’t remember how he got from the bank to the gates of Newport, although he swears rat people were involved.

Anyhow, I’m very happy as well! These are the best weapons I’ve ever had, and even though I had to spend half of our savings on them (don’t tell Ayba), I think it’ll be worth it because it makes us die less and kill more. That’s Oric’s favored combination.

It’s interesting: I’ve tried some other MMOs and while it’s very easy to achieve something in them (great armor, high levels), it never feels like an accomplishment. Saving every little bit of copper since level 20, not getting any real upgrade loot off of anything and then stumbling upon a good weapon by accident, this really feels like an achievement.

Perhaps the instant gratification some other games offer is what makes me get bored with them so quickly. SoD doesn’t sugar-coat anything. Yes, it’s hard to make your first platinum. Yes, you’re fighting monsters in armor you’ve outleveled three weeks ago. But life’s tough, it’s every halfling for himself, so if a set of mithril swords takes two months of saving, you’re going to have to save for two months to get it. I’m not masochistic, but I think it’s all the more exciting once you do.

Bones, bones and more bones

Whew, what an afternoon!

Just seconds after logging in on Sunday, Skogs sent me a tell asking whether I’m still free for a King’s Pass group. We hadn’t met before, so I told him that I only come in a double pack with Ayba. This was fine as they had four people. It turns out this was the lucky group of the month for us 馃檪 We headed over the giant’s bridge towards King’s Pass, carefully avoiding the slaughtered guards that seem to, well, guard it. Slightly out of breath we arrived at the top of the mountain, ready to enter the pass:

EQ000008

Grim and foreboding? Nah, not in the midday sun.

It seems the undead of King’s Pass never sleep, though, so even entering the place proved more challenging than we’d thought. There are skeleton guards all over the entrance area, many of them white or higher to us lowly level 31s. Skogs came to pick us up and the next thing I remember is that it’s two hours later and we’re both standing in Surefall again, exhausted.

This is what had happened: The very second we arrived in the group, Skogs pulled, pulled and pulled some more. There was not a single second of downtime and all around us the air was full of bone fragments. We were standing hip-deep in ribcages, tibias and assorted other body parts, while chopping at those skeletons like madmen and -women. Yeah, I know “hip-deep” isn’t all that impressive when it’s said by a halfling, but don’t ruin the excitement now, please.

It was a beautiful afternoon when we started, and if you look at this gallery, you’ll see the sun was going down in Dalaya while we were doing our thing with the undead. This means we’ve spent several hours pounding the local residents into bone dust.

Our group was composed of:

  1. Skogs, 30-something ranger
  2. Oric, 31 ranger
  3. Ayba, 31 druid
  4. Baxar, 30-something rogue
  5. Krith, 30-something shaman
  6. Malifus, 30-something necromancer

And here’s a record of the destruction we brought:

We had a great time, and this gave a jolt of energy to our leveling. We went from 31 to 35 in one session, almost 36 now. And with Ayba’s new group teleports, it’s finally easy to get back to Surefall to stock up on archery stuff and spells when we reach a spell level. I’m only sad that Skogs, Malifus and Krith will perhaps have outlevelled us once we find time to play again.

In the meantime, this afternoon has restored my faith in the group-based game design. When your group is chewing through cubic tons of undead without any major incidents or downtime, you feel like you’re part of a well-oiled machine. Or a well-choreographed ballet, for those less into mechanical metaphors and more into puffy skirts. This is a feeling no other game has yet managed to reproduce in my opinion.

Ayba got a few teleports to places I haven’t heard of before. A very curious little halfling can’t wait to get killed there in the near future.