Thursday, November 25, 2021

A Tragedy in Two Parts -- Aotulia Volcano

I first entered Aotulia Volcano about a week and a half ago back when I first hit 50th level. For all intents and purposes, I figured it would be my next exp zone after poking around Ravenfell for a bit. Little did I know my adventures would swing me back and forth across a variety of zones before returning just a few days ago. Things have been a lot more complicated the last 9 levels than they ever were during the first 50 levels.

A stunning view of hot death

The real problem with this zone comes in 2 parts: 1- Death and 2- Confusion.

So, let's talk Death . . .

As it turns out, there are ways to deal with Death in Runes of Magic, but those typically involve premium currency purchases, a ton of daily quests, or time spent in front of the guild library working off a death debt. That's right, when you die in Runes of Magic, you'll have to work off an experience debt. 

You can avoid that by purchasing an Angel Tears potion in advance or a God's Ticket after the fact.  Angel Tears protect you from Death Debt for 24 hours. A God's Ticket simply clears any existing death debt.  You buy those with Phirius Coins earned from completing daily quests or from the shop. And if you don't like either of those methods, there's always standing in front of the guild's library while you're afk "studying" to get rid of it.

I used all three of those methods in Aotulia Volcano . . . because, yes . . . Aotulia Volcano killed me several times. (Special thanks to my guild leader for purchasing me a God's Ticket the other day, you saved me a few hours of repentance.) A couple boss encounters sent me to my grave multiple times. An attempt to run across the bridge of cremation did me in as well.  etc. etc.

Hiding in a barrel next to the bridge of cremation listening in to naga war plans

Btw . . . that bridge of cremation is NOT designed to be run across, but I actually found a YouTube video of a guy that managed to make it across by using multiple healing potions. It's a fun watch.

Up in the north eastern part of the zone there is a giant army of Naga that are part of an event where you can lead an army of fire elementals against them and earn a ton of loot in the process (but no quest exp sadly). It looks like it'd be fun to do with a group . . . by yourself?  Ohhh, it's possible to get badges from it, but I didn't have the gusto to get past the second event phases. It's extremely easy to get overrun by an army of Naga here, and that's exactly what happened to me.

Coming out of stealth here would be a bad idea . . .

Now as for the Confusion . . . 

Aotulia Volcano is a twisting mess of pathways with blockades and murderous elites at every turn. I swear I spent more time looking for ways to get to the Northern Half of the map than I actually spent questing in the Northern Half of the Map. The other weird thing . . . Google was NOT helpful in telling me ways of accomplishing this, so . . . lemme help you all out.

There are three ways to get to the Northern Part of the Map:

1- Scootch out from Titan's Hill Camp and move into the Devil's Mouth. When you see a bunch of manticores, you're headed in the right direction. Cut through the middle of the Tower of Rage and you'll soon be running into a big open field. (If you're like me, you can then complete that Manticore Whistle quest you've been holding on to . . . gratz)

2- Keep questing until you get to Titan's Hill Camp in Dimarka and run into an NPC named Aynara. Aynara is actually a dragon that will teleport you to the northern section of the map, but only one time and really you'll just be using her to get you into Delanis.

Big, yet friendly, dragon!

3- Keep questing until you get to the Infernal Gate. There's a big pool of lava here and after you talk with an NPC and do her quest, she'll port you to a flame elemental who becomes your new best buddy.  Falraisen will teleport you north ONCE transformed as a Fire Elemental and you can wreck havoc with your new transformation (but don't get crazy . . . if you die in transformation, you still die and get a death debt.)

Living my best fire elemental life . . .

In general the whole Titan's Hill, Titan's Hill Camp, Dimarka area is a confusing mess of caves, ramps, and tunnels, but option 1 will get you where you need to go.  Have fun with that . . .

Truth be told, I tried my best to not quest in Aotulia Volcano because of the death and confusion, but when I hit levels 57 and 58 and felt like I was running out of high exp quests, I really felt like I needed to head back to squeeze out that delicious exp in hopes of dinging 59, which meant I could once again continue down the Morrok line of quests.

 . .  and that happened this morning! WOOT! Limo Desert here I come!

Happy Dueling

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Ten Easy Tips for Pikmin Bloom

Now that my family has been playing Pikmin Bloom for a few weeks, we've discovered a few tips and tricks along the way. Here's what we'd call our top ten tips for anyone just starting out in the game:


1- Easy Nectar Feeding

When we first started playing Pikmin Bloom, we would flick individual balls of nectar at our group of Pikmin. At first this was fun, but it soon became the most tedious part of the game. My son then discovered that if you simply hold a ball of nectar on to the screen in one place, then the Pikmin come running to your finger and jump up and grab their own ball of nectar.

All bunched up and well fed!


Not only is this more efficient, it's much faster too.
~~

2- Easy Nectar Collecting

After feeding all my Pikmin nectar, we use to tap the screen rapidly to collect Nectar like the game was Cookie Clicker. Sometimes this caused the screen to zoom in, and we'd have to refocus and zoom the game out to collect more nectar. Collecting nectar is actually super easy, just swipe your finger over all of your Pikmin and you'll collect all your flower blooms in one swipe.

It may not sound like much, but anything to make feeding nectar and collecting flowers easier and faster is totally the way to go.
~~

3- Fast Pikmin Swapping

After you've fed your squad of Pikmin and collected all their flower petals, you can easily change them out for the next batch.  All you have to do is tap the whistle three times rapidly and all your Pikmin swap out just like that.

These days I'm running a little low on Nectar, so I tend to individually select my Pikmin based on their need for hearts, but when Nectar isn't a problem and you just need petals, this speedy method is the best!
~~

4- Using Mushroom Colors Correctly

When my family first started attacking mushrooms together, we'd just choose any color of Pikmin to attack as long as they had maxxed out their hearts. That's a fine strategy, but if you use Pikmin that match the color of the mushroom you're attacking, your damage will go through the roof.

Try using yellow Pikmin only on the next yellow mushroom you attack and you'll see the difference right away. 

But what about Brown Mushrooms?! Yup, you guessed it, there is no brown pikmin. Ever noticed how when you start mixing colors together they end up just kind of turning brown?  This is the same philosophy . . . just use your best Pikmin for these mushrooms or the ones that do the most damage like rock or purple Pikmin. You got this!

Nothing better than an easy brown mushroom!
~~

5- Planter Efficiency

Ever get a huge seedling and have it stuck in your main 2 planters for a long time?  Well, don't do that!  Keep your main two planter slots running the 1,000 and 3,000 step Pikmin and only use the one-time use slot planters to plant your giant 10,000 step Pikmin.

If you use this method, you won't have clogged up planters causing problems.


Don't let those big seeds take up your valuable growing space!

~~

6- Know Before you Grow

By the time you get in the higher levels of Pikmin, you'll start noticing you have an abundance of "roadside" red, blue, and yellow Pikmin. You probably also know that when you inspect a Pikmin planter that your Pikmin have to make an expedition for, it only shows a red location symbol? The game wants to hide your type of Pikmin! Simply back out of the expedition view and then view that same expedition once again, and its type will now be shown instead of the red location symbol!

This helps you not waste valuable timers on Pikmin that you have an abundance of already.
~~

7- Use Detectors Wisely

You only get one free Detector a day, so using it wisely to find a new decor style Pikmin is what it's all about.  Sometimes it takes a bit to find the perfect spot to use your Detector, but if you keep it open on the Detector screen, you can see the "Places Nearby" changing as you encounter new stores. Sometimes those "sweet shops" at the local strip mall can be really hard to get, but don't use that detector until you see the sweet shop symbol in the Places Nearby area. 
~~

8- Get Your Flowers to 500

You may notice yourself gaining coins occasionally and not knowing why. Every 500 flowers you plant while you're walking, the game gives you 1 coin. This is important to know because if you're done with your walk and have only planted 480 flowers, you're going to want to keep planting flowers while you walk around the house for just a bit so you can hit the magical 500 mark.

Every coin counts and this is really the only way Pikmin Bloom players have to earn that premium currency for free.
~~

9- Walking Out of Town

It's an absolute blast walking around with Pikmin Bloom in an area that's hundreds of miles away, but just know that any pikmin you get from those areas will have to march all the way back when they're at max hearts. Don't be surprised if your Pikmin has to set out on a multiple day journey. If you know you'll be headed back to that town soon, it'll be best to hold on to those far away expeditions until next time you're in town.

Then again, if your expeditions are in a spot only 30 minutes away by car, that'll probably be about an 8-hour trek for your Pikmin on foot. It's best to do those longer expeditions overnight and wake up in the morning to some fun surprises.
~~

10- Use Stars to Prioritize

After a while of playing Pikmin Bloom, you'll be overflowing with Pikmin and Seeds! Luckily you can use the helpful star feature to favorite the ones you want to grow and play with first. Favoriting these will automatically sort them to the top of your inventory.


Stars upon thars!

~~

Thanks for reading along and good luck, bloomers!

Happy Dueling! 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Getting Savage in Runes of Magic

At the beginning of the week I reached a point in Runes of Magic where I just simply felt stuck to be honest. It's probably that I'm new and unfamiliar with all the multitude of leveling options, but being Level 57 and questless is not a place that seems fun. I spent some time grinding exp on elite mobs and racked up a pretty severe death debt that required spending a good chunk of Phirius tokens to clear. Whoops!

Asking around in guild, I found out that my best option was to head back to a place I had pretty much skipped through named the Savage Lands, so back I went!  There was a sea of quests available here, but the problem is that doing a level 50 quest when you're level 57 feels . . . fruitless? grindy? painful? All of the above? Yes. All of the above.

Drowning in Quests!

So, I switched back over to my Rogue half and decided it was time to check out the Returning the Glory quest line instead!! Only to be stopped again at the beginning of the quest when the level requirement for continuing the quest line was level 54. sigh. Back to Savage Lands I went as a level 50 Rogue. 

I gotta say, the rumor I had heard where you could just ride the exp train all the way up on the Returning the Glory and Envoy of Dragons quest chains was greatly exaggerated. I suppose if I was running both quests simultaneously as I leveled only one of my two classes, then, sure . . . I guess that would work?

As for the Savage Lands itself as a zone, it's been pretty interesting. It all starts in Sanburs Camp where Leo Hubbert and company tell you all about the Hall of Survivors and the ancient passage way that connected them to the Savage Lands. Archeologists flocked here, and died here, as members of the Eye of Wisdom organization started payrolling a search for the legendary ruins of the Guardians of the Ancient Kingdoms.

Sanburs Camp in Savage Lands

A little deeper in you'll start to climb Ape Mountain, which, as you guessed, is infested with Apes. Also found on Ape Mountain is a gal by name of Aylin Kerair, who's pretty much Sigourney Weaver from Gorillas in the Mist. She sends you off to get milk from deer and protect a bunch of weak young apes she's helping out because the apes on Ape Mountain tend to cast out the ones with birth defects. 

He's so . . . pushy! 

Also, holy crap the apes here are annoying to fight!  They do this un-resistable, triple knockback punch that is really really obnoxious . . . and that's all I gotta' say about that. Beyond Ape Mountain, you'll encounter a giant elven city built around a huge tree known as the Green Tower, which has some territory conflicts with a naga camp to the north. Lots of quests will lead you that direction in the Savage Lands.

Number one rule of tree cities in MMOs: You must have a floating elevator disk inside the tree

The middle of the zone is basically a pit full of demons and ugly water monsters surrounded by high cliffs that host 4 tribes of smaller monkey/donkey/lizard peoples? Look . . . I don't know their genealogy, but they're called "Bodos." They have a face that only a mother could love and tend to attack you as a colony of ants would, in swarms . . . except for the friendly Bodos from the tribe of Haz. Those little dudes are pretty chill.

Bring it on, Bodos!

On the far Western edge of the Savage Lands is a giant mushroom forest known as the Kilanche Fungus Forest. My only complaint here is that I wish this area was a bit darker and had some contrast from the rest of the zone. It might just be I've played too many Dungeons and Dragons games where you delve into an underground bioluminescent mushroom zone, but it just didn't feel quite right being so bright.

Big Mushrooms, Little Mushrooms, Blue Mushrooms, Living Mushrooms . . .

In a way it reminded me of the curtains in my parent's old kitchen back in the 70's.

Yeah . . . that print was a thing at one time.

Actually, if the zone had looked more like my parent's old curtains, it probably would have been cooler than what it is. Anyway, I'm always down to help an intelligent tribe of mushroom folks and the Kilanche Fungus crew needed a lot of help. They have a problem with psychedelics and mind control. Half of these fungi are in a happy peaceful state and the other half are super grumpy.  

Grumpy mushroom is grumpy

So there you have it . . . Bodos, Apes, and Intelligent Fungus -- these are the things the Savage Lands are made of. I still have a ton of quests here with the Bodos, and I'm sure I'll come back to them, but first I need to get back to the business of the Returning the Glory quests because my Rogue is level 54, baby! YEAH! So I'll be back to report more on the murder mysteries and police brutality found in that quest line later, until then thanks for reading and . . .

Happy Dueling!

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Participating in Pikmin Bloom's First Community Day Event

 A couple weeks ago, the family all got a notification that Pikmin bloom was having their first community day and we, along with the rest of the world, were invited to walk 10,000 steps on November 13th. We were all in for the event!

We've all been playing Pikmin Bloom pretty religiously around here. The Uber Wife is kind of killing the rest of us in the family as she's now level 19 . . . or maybe even 20 after yesterday! I've been the slowest of the bunch, but still I was sitting at a respectable level 14 at the start of the day yesterday.

Flowers! Flowers Everywhere!

But is it that respectable? No way. The real fun doesn't start until level 15 when you can attack mushrooms with your pikmin for cool postcard rewards, and believe me, the rest of the family all let me know that I needed to start walking my weight and get up to level 15.

We decided to start our day out with a Donut Adventure in downtown Austin TX to try some seriously amazing donuts at a place called The Salty Donut. It was soul crushing to watch the kids enjoying a horchata donut. Um, donuts are 100 percent off the menu for me these days as a diabetic, but man they looked good.

Drool.

After this we drove down to the south shore of Lady Bird Lake in Downtown Austin and walked around the shore's excellent trail system. For us it had TONS of flowers waiting to be bloomed, and we all launched our detectors here hoping for a riverside pikmin.

Time to get walking! Those giant flowers aren't going to bloom by themselves!

In case you're unaware of how it works, Pikmin come from different locations. Most pikmin are "roadside" pikmin, but others come from restaurants, grocery stores, cafes, movie theaters, zoos, forests, post offices, art galleries, airports . . . the list goes on and on. You can see it for yourself here. When a pikmin gains four hearts of love and attention, it sets out to retrieve a gift box and then its silly decor is manifested on its body.

He's everyone's favorite fun guy!


By the end of the day I had walked my 10,000 steps (and then some), dinged level 15, and earned my new badge . . . kinda. Apparently it'll take a while for that badge to show up in everyone's inventories. That's ok though . . . the badge doesn't really do anything but it's kind of cool to earn it yesterday since there's really no other way to get that badge.

Anyway, after I hit 15th level, I was super happy to participate in my first mushroom attack with the entire family! We crushed it.

3-stars earned at the Iron Works BBQ in Downtown Austin

To be honest, the best part of the day was simply being out with the family walking around and having fun together, and that's really what Pikmin Bloom is all about.

Tired feet, happy pikmin!

Happy Dueling!

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Don't Envy the Envoy of Dragons in Runes of Magic

 Back in 2010, Frogster was still in charge of all things Runes of Magic and had stepped up to the plate again with another release that increased the level cap from 55 to 60. They dubbed this major release "Chapter III: the Elder Kingdoms" and the 2.5 million registered users rejoiced! 

It was kind of fun reading the comments to the main theme music for this release on YouTube.  

Gotta respect those old schoolers that sometimes log in to just play a little.

Of course, for me, this is my first foray into this old game that is solidly in the grips of . . . let's be honest . . . maintenance mode, in the hands of Gamigo. That doesn't mean it's any less of a game, just that its ending is more defined, right? Right!

Anywho, my experience in Chapter III has been very different than my experiences in Chapters I and II. I don't know if they decided to hire a solid writer for this chapter, or just took a different philosophy on how players work through the game, but for the most part, this expansion seems to have two main storylines that weave through it: Envoy of Dragons and Return the Glory

Currently I'm running through the Envoy of Dragons quest as a Mage. I'm level 56 (almost level 57) and currently stopped on progressing through the Envoy of Dragons quest until I can gain level 57. Certain quests have level requirements to undertake and I'm not quite there yet. Not to worry though, there are plenty of other supporting side quests to help me get the level I'm looking for.

Once I'm either level 60 or have completed the Envoy of Dragons Quest, I'll go back and run through the Return to Glory quests as a rogue. At least that's my plan for now. My other idea is that I just skip Return the Glory and try grinding my way up to 60 just killing stuff.  That's a thing. We'll see.

So, the story behind Envoy of Dragons all centers around an NPC named Morrok Wallinder.

And there he is . . . Morrok Wallinder

I can't say I'm truly checked-in to the actual story telling of this quest because it's been a bit convoluted, but I believe the main plot is that the Dragons of this world are trying to clear their names. Rumors have been flying around that dragons have teamed up with monsters in attacking humans. Dragons don't want their names sullied in such a way.  

So how does Morrok Wallinder work in to this?

And there he is . . . Morrok Wallinder

Come to find out, Morrok is half dragon. Honestly, I'd spend more time in my dragon form if I looked that hot as a dragonoid. You know what I'm saying? The ladies dig the wings.

Anyway, somehow at the beginning of the quest line, you run into Freud Splinter, a rat in the sewers of Delanis, while searching for some books. And you guessed it, he's friends with 4 turtles. I gotta be honest, this seemed super out of character for Runes of Magic to drop a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reference in the game. 

Pizza Time!

This is as about as crazy as the game gets. So far I've mostly seen stock high fantasy themes without the wacky references. I liked it! Oh wait . . . the game does get crazier . . . I forgot the random Dev-only zone a stranger ported me to.

Now THAT'S as crazy as Runes of Magic gets . . .

Eventually you start unraveling the mystery of the dragon/monster mix-up by helping a couple bands of troubled centaurs. Centaurs aren't monsters are they? I don't know for sure, but the centaurs got a bad rap and went through, what "Darik Silverstar" (Chief Centaur) called "a dark period." 

But as it turns out, centaurs are a hoot! During the quest you end up getting one of them drunk and again unravel . . . some plot point I didn't really grasp. But, the real villain here is a guy named Luke Ponzi . . . and he's definitely the scheming type. He's also in league with a gal by the name of Belle Allen, who turns out to be a weird demon in disguise, and this starts a whole series of quests where you pursue information about spirits and demons.

Yeah, it's a bit convoluted to be honest . . . most MMO and game writing is because it's not just about weaving a good story . . . it's also about fulfilling a quota of quests and content to accompany a zone. That said, this quest line feels pretty good. I'm excited to see where it leads to (hopefully to being a level 60+ Mage) and how the mystery is solved (I bet the dragons will clear their name . . . if they don't, I'll be happily surprised.)

Happy Dueling!

Monday, November 8, 2021

Exploring the Elven Prophecy in Runes of Magic

Once hitting level 50 in Runes of Magic, the exp just seemed . . . to kinda . . . slow . . . down . . . . Where on the ride to 50 I might have earned 10 levels in a day, I'm struggling to make level 55 in a few days, and that's WITH doing goblin runs AND the Butterflies daily quest AND with guild experience buffs. 

Don't know what those are? Here's a little background:

  • Goblin runs are quick little exp and treasure farms that the guild can run together. Typically what happens is we have a couple uber level 100's that speed through the dungeon and kill everything while the lower level people just soak up the experience and loot all the chests. You can run this once a day as long as you have a few coins from doing your daily quests.
  • The Butterflies daily quest is a super easy daily in the zone of Xaveria. It rewards about 100k more exp than most dailies and takes about a fourth of the effort.  You basically kill five butterflies in a garden and then run back and cash in the quest . . . rinse and repeat 10 times.
  • Guild buffs come from a few clickable towers in our Guild Castle that provide stackable experience buffs. Clicking them provides a bonus to loot drops, skill point acquisition, and experience gain.
Living my best goblin life!

Over the weekend, I've pretty much been sampling the content that came with Runes of Magic first expansion called "The Elven Prophecy." According to this old MMORPG article I read, this expansion boosted players levels from 50 to 55, which could be why I'm experiencing a bit of a slow down in leveling.

Enemies also seem a far bit sturdier than the previous levels! I'm pretty sure this all balanced as if someone has been at level 50 and has reasonably good gear. 

To counteract this bump in difficulty, I've also been introduced to creating soup-ed up tradeable gear that has a ton of stats slotted into it through something known as the Arcane Transmuter. 

One of these, three of these, click confirm and UBER TIME!

Basically you find a piece of "blank" gear that's low level with high durability and doesn't bind to the character. Next, you pull amazing stats off of level 100 gear and combine those stats with the blank gear and it makes an uber item that any joe-schmo-newbie can wear. It has a huge impact. As an example, I was at about 6k hit points and now I'm at 20k hit points just through wearing gear like this.

It's been a lot of learning and explaining from my mentor. As explained to me, this gear is great for hand-me-downs because it's perfect for passing on to the next newbie through the guild bank, and . eventually the gear I will start earning will catch back up and make this gear obsolete. I just need to remember to put it back in the guild bank. 

But, of course, it isn't all about racing to the top level . . . it's also about enjoying the ride as well. 

The "Ayam" fish people of Ravenfell

Ravenfell and Weeping Coast have both had a kind of a coastline biome feel to them, and I've fought a lot of crabs, flying manta rays, fish people, spiders, trolls, water elementals, and dinosaurs. It's a smattering of scary enemies with a nice variety. 

A picturesque pathway in Ravenfell

The villages in these zones are small and personable. Because of this, not only have I fought aforementioned dinosaurs, but I've also chased around a dog as it dug up treasure that a town's bully had buried just to be mean. 

So far one of the most memorable camps had to do with Snake people!  I love me a good Naga in an MMO and Runes of Magic has an excellent group of them. At the top of Weeping Coast there's a whole village of them, and they are marked as Elite enemies. They're a bit tougher to down, but they offer great loot in return. I imagine that back in the day, Naga camp farming for items and exp was kind of a thing, especially since after killing 50 of them, you can trade in their dog tags to get supplies from the Order of Dark Glory people that are stationed there.

Ladi and Spog are the crime fighting duo we all need in our lives

My sights have now turned to what lies beyond the Naga camps, and that is the red-tinted zone of "Aotulia Volcano." The Naga conflict continues here and apparently there are a couple quest lines that are stuff of legends when it comes to gaining experience at high levels. Envoy of Dragons and Return the Glory are both quest lines that are supposed to take you all the way to level 85 in just a few days. Of course, I'm sure my mileage may vary. 

My first glimpse into Aotulia Volcano

I continue to enjoy my journey in Runes of Magic and it's been great getting to know my new guildmates. I can't recommend finding a good guild to be a part of when you decide to take your journey through Runes of Magic. Without their support, I probably would have tapped out quite awhile ago. 

Happy Dueling!

Friday, November 5, 2021

Runes of Magic -- A Vampire in the Canyon

My Runes of Magic mentor, aka the infamous TessLove, was kind enough to point me towards Dust Devil Canyon as my next destination, so  . . . I do as I'm told! Dust Devil Canyon it is!

Cacti, high cliffs, and dusty roads

Dust Devil Canyon is exactly how'd you picture it. a lot of winding trails, high mountain peaks, cacti, sandstone, and scorpions. The zone is pretty much divided right in half by a wide canyon trench that sinks down low and has water in its base.  It's a great place for two things apparently: fishing and being bitten by poisonous giant dragonflies. In fact, one of the quests here is all about helping a dude find his fishing pole. What else would a 50th level vampire do here? Of course I'm going to help you find your fishing pole!

Danny, first I find your fishing pole, next, I make you my vampire minion, k?

For my first day in Dust Devil Canyon, I really just stayed on the southern side of the zone and helped out my buddies in the "Order of Dark Glory Garrison." It may sound grim, but they're an ok bunch. They are really just here to help and are having a heck of a time dealing with all the giant scorpions and fire lizards. That's where we come in, friends . . . so many giant scorpions and lizards . . . .

Thankfully the monotony of scorpions and lizards is broken up by there also being a big hive nearby that's full of "Kal Turok," aka Ant People! (Side note: when the Kal Turok ran at me full speed with their four arms raised for battle, I was reminded of the Tharks from John Carter. Am I the only person that actually liked John Carter?) I gladly went down deep into their cave system and killed a swarm of them (and their little larvae). Now THIS is what a 50th level vampire does! COUNT STINGITE'S CURSE BE UPON THEE!

Possibly the most distinct feature in the zone is the Obsidian Stronghold. It's the first really big city I've encountered on my journey outside of Silverspring. The folks inside the castle had plenty of quests that just involved running around getting to know the place. I think I leveled once just by making introductions here. 

It's kinda like the Las Vegas of Dust Devil Canyon, but with no gambling

By the time I logged off two days ago, I was level 50 on my Rogue, which meant it was time to switch back to my Mage and level a bit more. So, yesterday I decided to venture into the Northern part of the zone where I was introduced to my new favorite harpy NPC, Adley the Alcoholic.

It's Adley the Alcoholic or "AA" for short -- she's ready for her ten step program 

In fact, there's a whole quest line in Dust Devil Canyon that involves figuring out why exactly the harpies are so gosh dang murderous? As it turns out, it's because they're drunk on evil crow blood and fermented berries . . . at least that's what I gathered from the quest text. I may be off there, because at the same time, I was playing dress up as a legit vampire. 

Said mentor, LadyTess, mailed me some fancy vampire dudes, so I'm fully embracing the vampire now.  She even gave me the nickname "Fangs" in the guild notes . . . so I took it a step further, descended down into the Forsaken Abbey, killed the boss vampire down there, and assumed the title for defeating him: Count Hibara's Nemesis.  

I vant to level up

All I need now is a good bat pet, and I'm ready for a guest appearance on "What we do in the Shadows." 

 

So the end result is that I pretty much made little progress yesterday as far as leveling, I was too busy messing around, grabbing elite skills, flirting with murderous harpies, and re-equipping my woefully undergeared mage . . . but it's cool -- I leveled up my "charisma" instead. If I'm going to be a vampire, I gotta look and play the part as well.

"Happy Dueling!" - signed "Fangs" aka Count Stingite

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Runes of Magic -- Ystra Yesterdays

The exit from Aslan Valley leading to the Ystra Highlands slopes upward and snakes a path through the mountainside, taking you from a lush forest to a snowy paradise -- a paradise if you're a hunter or a minotaur child perhaps. Otherwise, it's a Sea of Snow (as one of the points of interest is called here in Ystra).

Paleontologists take note! The Sea of Snow is calling you!

The first NPCs you'll run into are the Baggins brothers who are off to the side of the road and permanently locked in a fist-fight as they roast a pig out in the middle of nowhere. Neither of them seems to be exceptionally skilled at hunting as they have you do all their dirty work while trying to one-up each other. I'll gladly help both sides as long as they're giving out experience points and money!

Forget Frodo and Bilbo. THESE are the real Baggins boys!

The Baggins boys' father is a little further up the road in Khazor's Watchtower that flanks the Harf Trading Post with the Khalara Watchtower. Just doing the quests from those areas alone are sure to get you leveled from 30-40th, as they did for me yesterday! 

HARF HARF HARF HARF! . . . Excuse me!

Of course, there are other camps of humans out and about that serve as nice quest hubs. Most of these folks just want you to hunt stuff for them: crabs, bears, reindeer . . . Pokémon. Listen, I can't describe the horror to you enough of when my first quest in the zone asked me to kill this little cute guy.

I am SO SORRY LITTLE ONE!

You see what I mean?  I felt like an absolutely horrible person, but hey . . . they needed the pelts, they needed the meat, they needed the tails . . . they needed all kinds of trinkets from these little guys. The reindeer I didn't mind killing because I hate Christmas. Just kidding, I love Christmas and I guess I didn't mind murdering all the reindeer for their pelts, their meat, their antlers, and all the other trinkets the townsfolk wanted off of them. None of their noses glowed anyway, so I figured I was safe.

Also of note in this area are two perfectly good Horde races for an upcoming expansion to Runes of Magic.  

I'd play that race in a heartbeat.

Wouldn't that be awesome to be able to play as a cyclops or a minotaur? Unfortunately, I highly doubt that's in this game's future.  Adding a new race means also adding a new form and fit for the clothing that goes along with that race and that's enough to make any art developer cringe I'm sure. Not to mention this game hasn't seen an update in the first time since forever. (See the reference there? Thank you. Thank you. - Signed, "The cold never bothered me anyway" Stingite.)

Ystra also featured my new favorite NPC . . . this strange pot.

Yup, it's a pot.

I wasn't reading closely enough to gather what the heck was going on with this pot, but I do remember it sending me out to find its lid . . . so, I "bottled up" my emotions and "closed the vase" on the strange pot's quest line. I wouldn't say I "smashed" the pot's questline, but I made the right choices. I believe it's our choices, Mr. Potter, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

Anyway, I see a ton of quests waiting for me in the next zone over. I'll probably mass drop these Ystra quests and head over to Dragonfang Ridge. Sounds amazing. I haven't seen it, but with a name like Dragonfang Ridge I'm hoping for a lava area? I mean, so far Runes of Magic has delivered me the forest, followed by the snow area . . . if I'm not finding myself in a desert or a lava area, I'm not sure what I'm gonna do with myself.

(as a note, there are two exits to this zone, and one is named Dustdevil Canyon . . . so . . . desert to the north and lava to the south? A friendly necromancer can only hope.)

Happy Dueling!

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Runes of Magic -- Aslan Valley Explorer

After I had hit 20th level, I could see that a gaggle of new quests were popping up in the nearby zone of Aslan Valley, and since I can't resist bread crumbs (I'm like duck *quack*), I decided to wander over and take a look. When I got there, I dropped a bunch of quests so I could take a bunch of new quests from the friendly band at Qilana Camp.

A couple tents, a fire, and a whole slew of quests

I was recently asked by a guildmate if I'm more of a quester or a leveler. I guess I'm really more of an "in-betweener." aka the fast one of the slow bunch. Sure, I like story and quests just as much as the next guy, but the pull of better, faster, harder, stronger is totally real for me. A definite pro to doing all your quests is that the Title system in Runes of Magic (RoM) is pretty interesting. 

Don't you hate when you earn a new title in a game and it does nothing for you? Well RoM's solution to this is that each Title you earn for your character is worth an additional 5 health points. Case in point, yesterday I finished the "Noise Terminator" badge, and my health rose from 1250 to 1255. It's a battle of inches and over time, the more titles you earn could be the difference between life and experience debt.

"I'll be back," he whispered as he obtained the Noise Terminator badge

Finishing the Noise Terminator badge meant that I spent a lot of time completing all the quests involved with Aslan Valley's Goblin Village, which is found in the northernmost area of the map and just north of Bloodhound Mountain and a Hunters Encampment. The Hunters Encampment is where you'll find most of your goblin hunting quests to earn the badge.

By the end of your Goblin quests, you will have infiltrated their camp, dug deep into Rumpus Mine and then finally wreck their excavation equipment that was causing all the troublesome noise in Aslan Valley. I have to say, being a rogue and being able to sneak down into the mine had its perks here as it is very easy to get overwhelmed by goblins here. What they lack in strength, they make up for in numbers.

How am I able to sneak with those giant wings? It's gotta be Necromancy!

One of my favorite quest lines so far in Aslan Valley has simply been exploring the large river that flows down the center of it, taking water samples, and taking in the cool environment. The zone has a nice topography to it and the large waterfall in the middle of the map is digitally breathtaking.

It's great! (Aside from the poisonous, giant dragonflies and murderous Ents . . .)

Toward the bottom of the map is the city of Silverfall and a large quest area known as The Distillery. I have a bunch of quests to complete here, but unfortunately, I think the bread crumbs pulling me over to Ystra Highlands will be enough temptation that I'll be dropping the back half of the quests here and picking up a new batch of quests in the next zone over.

Happy Dueling!

Monday, November 1, 2021

Runes of Magic Monster Parade

While playing in Runes of Magic recently, I kept getting announcements every 30 minutes that the monster parade was starting soon and to sign up. I tried to do this before and the game basically told me I needed to be in a spooky monster transformation before I could participate. I ignored that for a bit because . . . I'm a newbie and had no idea what they were talking about.

Cursed to do a parade every year . . . nice.

As it turns out, to get a spooky monster transformation, you need to turn in 10 suspicious looking powder to a ghost in the festival area of Veranas. When I found that out, it all clicked because I had been receiving suspicious looking powder and had no idea what it did until that point.

So I turned in my suspicious powder to the ghost and he gave me a frog transformation potion. Aha! So seeing as it was Halloween, I decided to give the monster parade a go before it got boxed up and put inside Gameforge's virtual holiday closet.

Der . . .

The parade is basically a short journey back and forth between the Veranas Gates and the entrance to the Forsaken Abbey. You stop at 7 points along the parade to collect free items and in-between those 7 points, you'll be fighting some token monsters with your guide.

Sproing!

When you arrive at the Forsaken Abbey, you do battle with Mr. and Ms. Pumpkin themselves and then the parade heads back to the gates.

Mister AND Misses Pumpkin?! Is that where all the little pumpkin pets come from?

At each check point you're given the option of choosing 1 of 3 chests. It appears to not really matter which order you select the chests, it's basically a shell game to receive three chests. One of the chests requires an "ancient key" to open, one of the chests has a chance of giving you an ancient key or some random item, and the third just gives you a random item.

I also played some kind of game in Veranas where you can spook NPCs while disguised as a ghost. Doing that earned me a pumpkin coin. Apparently there are little mini-games like this all over Silverspring (and maybe elsewhere?). You need 10 of those coins and then you can get a little surprise box with a pumpkin pet.

It was pretty fun to at least do one holiday event in an MMO this year! I decided to capitalize on the season and splurge on a new creepy mount, cosmetic clothes, and some bat wings.  I'm looking more like a friendly necromancer/vampire now.

A vampire riding a spider . . . LET'S GO!

Happy Dueling!