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

    
11

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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cannotweep

I love how one of his victims, a person who very deliberately chose to play for the faction that had a massive advantage, called him a coward. That’s gold. And I say that as a huge fan of pvp.

Fisty
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Fisty

*chef’s kiss*

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Bruno Brito

I decided to take a look at Fansy’s site where they show the messages and dear fucking god, each one of those imbeciles deserved it. The way people thought it was reasonable to talk, ugh.

The fact that SOE caved in to someone actively doing something good in the game, considering that i’m highly sure that server must have been a complete cesspool, is nothing short of pathetic.

Go go, good guys.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

Yeah, it’s amazing how quickly the scumbags go crying when the tables are turned on them.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

People should look at those messages whenever they are tempted to think that people were better-behaved online back then! They weren’t. They were just less creative at being awful, with fewer platforms encouraging and enabling their misdeeds.

Celestia
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Celestia

Legend

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Adam Russell

Legendary. However, L5 bards have never afaik been able to charm. Bards get their first charm at 27. I think he must have created trains just by tagging them.

The 2nd loophole was that L5’s dont lose xp if they die, and I think he probably did die quite often from his own trains.

Oneiromancer
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Oneiromancer

I don’t think it was clear from the article, so I just wanted to clarify the word “train” in this situation—it doesn’t mean to teach a creature or person how to do something. In EQ, aggro from mobs took a very long time to drop (especially if you weren’t that much faster than the mob and it kept re-aggroing you). But if you transitioned through a loading screen to another zone, you could escape. So if you got in over your head, you would run for the zone boundary, probably picking up more mobs on the way, and creating a “train” of mobs that was pretty hard to stop (not uncommon for people to macro a “Train to zone, choo-choo!” /yell to warn people, but you were out of luck if you just happened to zone in when a train arrived).

For additional context, bards had one of the best speed buffs in the game, and could keep snares and DoTs up on a large number of mobs at once, so they were very good soloers. I assume at level 5 they already had the speed buff, but probably not much else.

Combined with mobs having an extremely long “tether”—and likely Fansy hitting them with a small attack every so often—it was thus possible for Fansy to lead—i.e., “train”—mobs from one end of a zone to the other. IIRC, those desert zones had very high level ranges, so there was a good chance he’d be training the giants into players that didn’t stand a chance against them, but maybe didn’t realize the new mob was too powerful. And if Fansy zoned out, or died, or someone else caused more aggro than he did (accidentally hitting the giant, or simply casting a healing spell that tended to carry a lot of aggro), the giant was now their problem.

I never experienced this—no PvP servers for me, and I didn’t start playing until much later—but the Fansy tribute pages stuck around for quite a while. Pretty funny stuff, I was glad to see this article remind me of it.

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Hydlide S

I love Fansy and I always try to show people his exploits when given the opportunity. I was happy to see it pop up on here. Now brb, reading it all again for the 10th time.

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Minimalistway

Thank you Justin, what a lovely story, it reminds me of some players today who do amazing things like killing current raid boss and they get admired and hated in the same time.

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Bhagpuss Bhagpuss

It’s not entirely accurate to describe Sullon Zek as a “no rules” server as though nihilism and anarchy was always the intent. It was promoted and intended as something more akin to what DAOC was doing with the three realms. The idea was that there’d be an ongoing territorial struggle between three teams, Good, Neutral and Evil, and both the player races and the geography of Norrath EQ had at the time fell reasonably well into that tripartite structure.

There was a map where you could see the progress of each team. I forget what you had to do to register ownership of a zone but I played for the first couple of weeks and I remember watching the red tide creep closer and closer to Qeynos. If players had distributed themselves evenly across the three teams it would have worked very well, I think. Of course, nearly everyone chose to be evil, which made the whole thing pointless.

I wished at the time that SOE would have taken what they learned and made another server where the population of each side could be managed in some way to keep it competetive but I think they just decided players who were into PvP were largely unmanageable and better left alone. I don’t imagine Fansy’s escapades helped convince anyone otherwise.