I spent the better part of 8 years playing Everquest. It’s not something I normally discuss in, you know, polite company, because it’s kind of like “I spent a few years doing, you know, crystal meth.”
I think people have a higher opinion of furry fans than they do EQ players. And, well, I can’t fault them there.
So I was a EQ junkie from roughly, July of 1999 until this spring, when I realized that I just couldn’t do EQ and work and school and I had a bloody ton of excellent single player games I should try playing instead.
So I stopped logging in, and eventually canceled my account.
Periodically, Sony sends me “come back to EQ!” e-mails where they say they’ve activated my account for a weekend, or a week – or even sent me a free 2 month subscription to Everquest 2, although that one was more related to my having tried and canceled Vanguard.
So I logged in a character I’d left camped out in the Bazaar.
This is the zone where, if you have things to sell to other characters, you can leave one of your characters here and they can sell your stuff for you while you’re asleep.
It has a limit of 550 characters, and it used to be that it was constantly at-limit and if you wanted to set up a bazaar trader you had to sit there waiting for someone to log out and hope that you got their spot before anyone else did.
Since those days they’ve had to merge servers, combining the populations of two different servers into one.
Last night, on a merged server, it had a whopping 219 characters.
But that didn’t have quite the impact of the next thing I saw.
I had a level 16 (pretty low-level for Everquest, which has levels up to 75) monk sitting around in Qeynos.
This is one of the very first game cities. It’s next to an outdoors zone, “Qeynos Hills”.
Qeynos Hills was one of the first places you went just after the training wheels came off your character – stuff can get aggressive, run for help when wounded, and there are a couple of high level NPCs who are normally NOT aggressive but will lay a smack down on you if they catch you messing with one of their friends.It has a bunch of low-level gnolls in it, and some snakes and giant bats and rats and a ruined standing stones circle with an undead infestation. Standard RPG cannon fodder.
It’s also got a little fishing pond, and there’s a fisherman named “Hadden” who hangs out there.
Hadden has a little problem.
When you kill him, sometimes you’ll find a piece of loot that gives your character the ability to breath under water.
Furthermore, after he’s killed, he will come back to life exactly six hours later.
Hadden’s life expectancy used to be measured in seconds.
You’d run by this little fishing pond and there would be at least a couple of characters hanging out and waiting for him… and since loot rights in Everquest are dictated by who does the most damage, not who got the first shot in, when he would pop his head out into the world it usually resulted in two or three people trying to get the kill, and therefore the loot. He also sparked massive arguments between people who’d been sitting there waiting for him for hours and people who knew how long it had been since he last died and were just coming back because it had been almost six hours since then.
I ran out to Qeynos Hills last night, and he was just standing there.
We talked, I left him alone, and then I logged out of the game and got back to real life.
I think he looked a little sad about the whole thing.
There had to come a point where he went from “god damn it, every time I try to get some fishing in, two or three jokers fight over who gets to kill me” to “wow, I lived a few minutes longer that time” to “uh, doesn’t anyone care enough to come kill me any more?” to “is anyone out there?”