The Game Archaeologist: The ballad of Fansy, EverQuest’s famous bard


It was summer, 2001. EverQuest had just rolled out Sullon Zek, a no-rules “penal colony” server where the realm was as lawless as the PvP was ruthless. Ganking, PKing, and corpse camping were rampant, all the more so for anyone who dared roll on the “good” side, as “evil” players made up the vast majority (80% to 90%) of the server population.

Indeed, it was a dark time to be a good-aligned player trying to make your way through this world.

Very dark, that is, until Fansy the Famous Bard showed up.

Go go good team!

This one player looked at the server imbalance and was disgusted at the situation. “It was billed as a big hardcore player-vs.-player (PvP) server,” Fansy said to The Escapist in 2007. “So all the trolls, cheaters and jerks from every other server came to Sullon Zek and made evil characters, because they were evil at heart! On every other server, good-aligned characters dominated.”

Fansy quickly figured out that he could exploit two serious loopholes: That no character under level 6 could be flagged and attacked by enemy players, and that it was actually possible for a level 5 bard to charm a high-level Sand Giant.

“I didn’t know I’d be able to train a sand giant, until I tried it!” Fansy said. “It was glorious. I was invulnerable and could kill anyone. It was a great feeling. I giggled the entire time and rolled around in my underwear.”

And so a plan — and a legend — was born.

During a few memorable days in the month of July, Fansy (a name derived from “fancy” and “pansy”) dragged a whole pack of Sand Giants around, unwittingly doing his bidding. And his bidding was to be mighty warleader of an unstoppable army. With a gang of these giants at his back, a speed spell on his feet, the Bard ran deep into enemy territory and started wreaking havoc.

Evil-aligned players would hear the dreaded cry of “GO GO GOOD TEAM!” and then see this low-level Bard training an avalanche of giants barreling right at them. With that kind of opposition, enemy players didn’t stand a chance and died in the scores.

Sometimes Fansy would show up and warn all of the bad guys away before he’d begin his conquest: “Warning evil heathens! Since I am a moral man with good ethics, not an evil slimeball like all of you, I am giving you a warning to leave Oasis now! This is a good guy zone!”

And let’s remember that in ye olden days of EverQuest, being killed wasn’t a small inconvenience; it caused experience loss and the possible loss of gear. We’re talking days or weeks of being set back in one’s advancement.

As you would expect, the evil majority had a massive conniption fit at being slaughtered with impunity, and Fansy gleefully documented all of the angst and insults. One example from that summer: “You are the supreme coward, u dont fight u train with a loophole, you are the lamest excuse for a human being i have ever met.”

A legend is born

Word quickly got around on the evil side and the highest-level players ran to confront Fansy and put down this little troublemaker. However, they quickly discovered that — at level 5 — Fansy was completely invulnerable to any attack, and so he continued his journey with impunity.

Behind the scenes, SOE monitored Fansy’s rampage and thought it was amazing. One GM even spoke to him and confirmed that training mobs was, in fact, well within his rights as a player in the game. So Fansy thought he had free rein to continue indefinitely.

Alas, this incredible parade of pain came to an end after three days when SOE changed its mind after hearing all of the cries by Fansy’s victims. Allegedly, he had killed over 400 characters during this time, and the forums were on fire because of it.

So on July 9th, a different GM approached him: “We need to talk about your zone disruption you are causing. I would say it is legal if you were of a level where others could take recourse on you. But at level 5, they cannot do that now can they?”

“Very true, which is why I chose this level,” Fansy replied. “There were no rules against it when I began. Is one being created?”

“There has always been a rule about zone disruptions,” the GM stated. Fansy agreed to cease and desist his one-man crusade against evil.

Following that, the devs closed the loophole that allowed this to happen in the first place. But it was too late to stop the legend of Fansy the Famous Bard, who cemented himself in EverQuest history.

This three-day player-driven event became so well-known, in fact, that Fansy’s name is still remembered among MMORPG fans, and World of Warcraft even created a special NPC — Magus Fansy Goodbringer — to hang out in Dalaran.

“Fansy in particular hit on something amazing,” said EverQuest’s Holly Longdale years later. “We realized he was just a super passionate player.” Well after his rampage, Fansy visited SOE in person and found himself swarmed by developers who treated him like a celebrity.

Troll or genius? Exploiter or vigilante? You decide.

Believe it or not, MMOs did exist prior to World of Warcraft! Every two weeks, The Game Archaeologist looks back at classic online games and their history to learn a thing or two about where the industry came from… and where it might be heading.
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