EverQuesting: Building a story brought me back to EverQuest II

    
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Before we start: Yes, I know about the Daybreak news. And yes, I have some thoughts and questions about it. I considered tossing aside my current EverQuesting plans until later, but MOP’s Eliot did a good job covering many of the concerns, and we’re still awaiting the interviews we’ve requested. When I can get more direct information from the new studios, I will definitely be sharing it. For now I’ll continue my focus on a project that has been a couple months in the making: My EverQuest II return. And it is all because of story. My story. (Who knows, maybe this is my only chance to tell it!)

This past fall I returned to more regular play in EQII. It wasn’t to prep for the next expansion, Blood of Luclin, nor was it to finally decorate one of my many houses (though I do need to do that, too!). This return was to experience a return to deep storytelling and roleplay with a friend like we had many years ago. Wait, isn’t EQII a themepark? Yes, it is. But it’s also uniquely designed to allow for a continuation, a reboot, and even brand-new stories. It is just what I needed! It could also be the experience you are looking for now.

The history

Before I delve into how EQII fits perfectly with restarting or resuming roleplay, let me offer some background on ours and why I am so excited to continue it. We have a Teir’Dal House in Neriak, not unlike Drow houses in the Underdark. That came about because my character is actually tied all the way back in history to my matron from a Dungeons & Dragons campaign decades ago. She is still my most beloved and favorite character.

This matron moved seamlessly into the Lineage II world, continuing her surface world goals of reuniting light and dark elves after my D&D adventures ended. There, I made a little sister — one who kept her dark elf heart and resented her sister’s goody-goody goals. That little sister left, intent on reforming the house in true dark elf fashion. Her first stop was Freeport. (You can guess my excitement when Neriak was added to the game!) There, she began to re-establish the true house.

A dear friend joined me in EQII in Freeport, and from there the story grew over the years. One reason I love this story so much is because there is a long, rich history. While each iteration has been adapted to fit its environment, the spirit of the story spans more than half of my lifetime. And I have been sad not being able to play it.

Why EQII is perfect for a return to RP

When my friend left the game long ago, I moved to other characters because playing her story solo wasn’t fun. So I was pretty excited to get it rolling again. But could it really, after such a long break? One of the problems I find when trying to return to a world to RP in is that the world has moved on and your character was stuck in stasis. It can be difficult to reinsert yourself into the world. For my friend, one of his biggest obstacles was that he no longer remembered how to play his main class at our higher levels, making play itself not as enjoyable. With a little creativity, however, EverQuest II, has some perfect ways around this.

Our two conundrums were solved together by adapting a new plotline that took advantage of the robust character features of the game. The story: For some (not yet disclosed) reason, the House was in danger, and I sent my friend’s character out on a secret mission. Apparently, this mission took years to complete! Upon return, he was changed. While he was gone, my character studied different magics. So when we returned, we set out together to practice our new skills.

Now, for the features that aided us. First, we used the vast selection of character classes to make new versions of our old characters! You can stay in a similar branch (mine continued to love fire), or you can move to a completely different sphere (his move from tank to healer). There are 26 to choose from. Twenty-six! That really is a lot of options, something few — if any — other worlds outside of Norrath offer players.

Next was taking advantage of the ability to save character templates. This allowed us to remake our avatars perfectly down to the last detail. (Because I took the time to remake her on a progression server, I had a template; there was no saving back when the game launched.) This made our transition in the story easy. However, you don’t have to use this feature completely or even at all. Instead, you could alter appearance to signify something, from small things like scars and hair color to total transformations. You could even be a totally different race! There are 21 of those to choose from. Few other MMOs offer you so much variety.

Adding this to the ability to add character slots (they go on sale quite a bit), you can temporary or permanent change your appearance for your plot lines. For us, the plan was to return to our original classes at some point. But what if you chose the story that your Koa’Dal was changed into a Ratonga by a horrible curse or magic gone awry? Perhaps you stay in that form for the rest of your days. If you don’t want to reroll, you can even buy a race potion to change your current character.

More ways for fun

Just remaking the characters alone wouldn’t have made the return as positive as it has been. EQII has other aspects that enhanced our experience, from variety in starting areas and leveling paths to NPC conversations and mob chatter. And we can’t forget the lack of barrier for re-entry!

To start, the game is easily done as a duo, which was perfect for us. In fact, leveling is so easy two people breeze through it almost too fast. (If you are subbed you can change the AA slider to give more Alternate Advancement points and less XP to not out-level the zones as quickly.) Even learning new classes didn’t lead to excessive frustration like hitting your head against brick wall — a situation that would definitely hamper building a story. If you want to start or restart a story by yourself or with some friends, you can handily manage it.

Next, if you are starting over, EQII shines with multiple entry points and multiple paths. Perhaps you choose a starting area you haven’t played through as much. Do you want to begin in the cities or in the newer starting areas? Do you want to strictly follow the golden path, or do you want to weave your way through the zones? You can tailor your experience without having to be funneled through one set adventure.

This may not have been a feature you thought of when contemplating RP, but the NPC quest blurbs are pretty fun to incorporate into your story. Having started over with 22 different characters, I had been skipping dialogue for a while. However, this time around, I have been paying attention again. The personality that comes through and some of the quips are great, and I have found myself having fun actually responding to the NPCs beyond the canned responses the options give me. I’ve been berating the carelessness of a dwarf in Butcher Block Mountains for the elemental invasion and serving comeuppance to his so called apprentice. I also make remarks to mobs as they shout at me — whether I understand their language yet or not. I found this extra involvement has enhanced the fun factor for me.

If you have returned or are new and don’t feel up to joining the RP community as a whole, you don’t need to. Perhaps like my new duo you are in hiding, trying to avoid the crowds. Or maybe you are creating a secret organization. You can keep to yourself in the game without being hindered. The robust housing system also allows you to make your own hideouts and personalized areas to continue your stories with just your friends.

But if you want to roleplay with others, jump on into the community. (If you didn’t know, it is based on the Antonia Bayle server.) There’s a roleplay chat channel you can join and tavern nights in established game establishments as well as player-made hot-spots. There are also regular events and festivals you can partake in.

Anyone can join, anytime

In short, EQII allows you the ability to dive in and build a story for yourself with fewer restraints than you might expect from a themepark or even sandpark game. It is definitely worth a try, and better yet, it costs nothing to do so, since it’s essentially F2P. If you can only do the story occasionally, that’s fine. If you want to do two months of intense story building with an open and closed arc, you can do that too. EQII offers many options so you can tailor to what you want. That’s a pretty sweet deal for a storyteller.

Me? I am going to revel in the return to this personal story arc, with its fun new twists and turns, as long as I can. It’s fun. And isn’t that what gaming is all about?

The EverQuest franchise is a vast realm, and sometimes MJ Guthrie gets lost in it all! Join her as she explores all the nooks and crannies from Antonica to Zek. Running biweekly on Thursdays, EverQuesting is your resource for all things EverQuest, EverQuest II, and Daybreak. And keep an eye out for MJ’s OPTV adventures!

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Aydin Bakir

Been playing EQ2 off and on since I was kiddo, and I’ve been in and out of the RP community on LDL (before it got smashed into Crushbone and my character from that ended up being Maj’dul!) As a current role-player and figure that is relatively active in the community (I run a tavern most Saturday evenings and lead a tiny new RP guild that I’m looking to expand in the near future), I will also say that the community is pretty small, a lot of people have left; a lot of us are filtering back in and out of the game as we play and do other stuff. Howbeit, the advantage of having a smaller community is that a lot of people who caused upset in the past are gone, and everything is fairly tight-knit to some extent right now. After coming back to eq2 mid last year as a more regular player, I haven’t encountered a single person that was rude or unpleasant in the way of newer RPers in AB’s community. Although it looks like we’re in bit of a quiet spell right now, I’m talking to folks who plan on opening up more taverns opening up in the near future. Also, AB isn’t *quite* as much of a ghost town as it may seem, random RP can be found in a number of places–and I would totally be down for someone sending me a /tell out of the blue saying they wanted to RP. Heck yeah, let’s set something up!

As a more creatively liberal RPer who does a lot of fanon-y stuff concerning the old DoF content (along with a couple of things from TSO), I have to admit that EQ2 is pretty vast lorewise, and that makes it a bit more difficult for a lot of folks who want to jump in and make a character that is fairly lore and/or context-appropriate. I’m involved with a small group of folks from the RP community called Chroniclers of Norrath who occasionally stream about the lore on Twitch. Sometimes, you can catch us putting up player-written books on the broker about various lore tidbits.
I’ve managed to find my niche with regarding specific subjects that interest me in the lore, so I’m not too good with other subjects–but the good thing is, I have friends I can ask who enjoy sharing that knowledge with others and with me, so if you ever find yourself on EQ2 rolling a character for RP and you want some advice? Send me a /tell or a mail on Rahfel. I am happy to be of service!

Presently, there is also a Discord channel for discussing lore and such (and everybody is pretty darn civil about it!) Additionally, I am planning to make a server for the RPers on Antonia Bayle to join if they wish–and let’s not forget about the Raven Mythic, which is an EXCELLENT resource as well! :D

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Christmas Dog

This is really cool to hear. I’ve been actively roleplaying in WoW for the past 15 years and no other MMO I’ve looked into has an active roleplaying community, so this is awesome.

I downloaded, subbed, and started leveling a character on Antonia Bayle, and sent a mail to Rahfel as I never caught you online tonight. I’d love to chat when you can!

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Aydin Bakir

Hey! Thanks for reaching out. I’ll be sure to check my mail later this week or maybe tomorrow if I get the time to log in. If I don’t reply right away or am not online it’s because I tend to be busy on weekdays with work and university classes!

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Sarah Cushaway

As someone who used to be a big part of the EQ2 RP community (on and off, mind you, but still always returning and active) from 2004-2012-ish or so, I’m sorry to say the vast, vast majority of the RP community left -years- ago for greener pastures. There are a few people still hanging around, but AB is now, by and large, a ghost town and finding RP is going to be very tough outside the odd tavern night event. Most guilds are all but inactive, with players hopping on once in a great while.

In short, sadly, this is not a game I’d currently recommend for RP if that’s your thing.

Great game, but it’s been squandered and now is just a hot, hot mess of clunky engine, massive ability bloat, carrot-on-a-stick endgame, and very low player population.

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Ben Stone

EQ2 has always been really strong on RP. It is pretty much top tier for fantasy roleplay online.

I still love EQ2, but the endgame has gone totally in the wrong direction, its bloated and gross.

I don’t need a mind blowing pixelfarm MMO, I just want an updated Everquest world with todays graphics and no convoluted system bloat.

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Curt Smithe

I didn’t know the RP community was still going along on AB, I might have to hop on again and commiserate with my fellow diehards. Cheers from Skyfire server.

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Sarah Cushaway

It’s really not. There are a handful of people/guilds, but it’s teeny tiny compared to even 5 years ago.

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Zero_1_Zerum

I’ve LARPed before, but I’m not even sure how you go about RPing in an MMO. Is there a DM type role, or do you just come up with the story as you go?

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Toy Clown

The idea behind RPing in an MMO is think of it like the MMO is the setting, or the stage, and your character is an actor on this stage. You create a role for them, such as… hunter, trader, dancer, etc, give them a set of motivations so that you can drive them through RP, then set your walk key and dive into RP!

Some groups do DM-style RP as well, but it’s not something that’s done in public RP that I’ve found. Usually DMs show up to drive combat-driven storylines, making sure everyone gets a turn, etc. Some guilds run DMd stories for characters to participate in, some smaller groups might DM a small splot or story, but it usually comes about when combat is involved.

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Morgan Filbert

I’ve always loved the idea of really getting into the RP side of an mmo and I’ll be damned if this hasn’t inspired me to give it a try. I have EQ2 installing now and I’ll roll up a toon on the RP server. Thanks for convincing me to take the plunge MJ.

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Logan Ronkainen

Love the article thank you!!! Something else to note about role play / story is EverQuest II is set 500 years after EverQuest 1, therefor on my recent return to the Kaladim server on EQ2 after a 15 year break from gaming part of my store is that I have awoken from a 500 year slumber into the world and must regain my guild / power / empire.

Really loving the TIME LOCKED server… meaning they reverted EQ2 back before expansions and are releasing them slowly. Allows for you to relive the older content or experience it as if it’s new.

Hit me up on the Kaladim server if anyone wants to role play or adventure !!

Mingle , 70 Guardian
Sephrok , 40 Ranger

creationguru
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creationguru

Thank you for this write up as it makes me want to take a look again at EQ II and also get back to playing a character rather than just floating through a game. I miss having a persona fo play in a game and as I am currently MMO adrift the shear amount of options and content make this look like it could be a home even if it is just for the story and eventually a good community. I have always enjoyed the RP communities as they tend to be more accepting and inviting.

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styopa

There’s a lot to like about EQ2. I like how they tell stories. The world is so vast it’s real-worldy. It’s not about catering easy-mode for the player. Their attention to interesting detail is seemingly endless. I love being able to change factions with hard work.
I don’t like the umpteen layers of talent point thingys, that just make you eventually shrug and look up someone else’s theorycrafting.
I don’t like how clerics suck now, last I checked. :(\
I like the huge variety of meaningfully different races.
I love the crafting that you have to actually pay attention to.

I just wish they’d have a teensy graphical upgrade…