Realms of Despair – Tricking you into learning for over 25 years …

Well, you think that all you’d need to do is open up Rodpedia and follow the blocks on the pictures along until you got where you were going. Who knew that you should stop at each one of those blocks and read that spam that has been scrolling past?

I think we’re all guilty of it at some point. The author aside, is anyone willing to confess that they’ve read every room in the Forgotten Woods? Ok, ok, well you’re exceptional, I on the other hand have been known the odd time to look at the pretty picture and move my butt from A to B with config +brief on.

Back at Christmas we held a quest in Ringbearers. 12 actually. The 12 Quests of Christmas. We picked items for people to go get that would help them build up their skills and maybe help take away some of the apprehension of trying something new. I really enjoyed it and I think it went over well, the feedback was pretty good.

For some of our guys it kindled a desire to get a new hat for their vampires. It turns out that scrapping black brimmed hats or barrik’s helmets wasn’t their idea of a great time. Sure, we could have gone after the Devil but instead we sought out the elusive Maniacal Tendencies. Which is what you need to earn one, so well named!

If you ever spent time talking with Sylphain about Lascivias’ areas at some point the conversation turns to Sesuad’ra Rift. I don’t know if anyone has ever completely solved that area or if Sylphain was over analyzing things but there is definitely an intricacy to the area and its relationship with other Lascivias areas, notably Abishai’s Morgue.

What do the two thoughts have to do with each other? If I’m recalling things correctly, around the time of the Shattering Lascivias was working on the overhaul of the Underworld. For reasons completely unknown she was unable to finish it and Selina and Kinux stepped up and worked on completing it.

There is a very intricate story tangled into the area with one seemingly glaring problem. While most of the area is the Greek underworld, Satan is the ruler of the area. To be fair while the area is called the underworld Satan’s domains are referred to as Upper and Lower Hell. Within the Realms of Despair things have been reimagined … I suppose using Tartarus might have worked but for whatever creative decision it was not. This isn’t a criticism, just an observation.

Satan is re-imagined as female and wears a Corselette of the Furies. The help file weaves together the story of this Underworld with Olympus, who sent the Furies to discover if Hell had been cut off from the Realms or not. Once reporting on the discovery of an entry way to the Lower reaches through Sesuad’ra Rift. Then they disappeared. The help file warns that Hell has no fury like a woman scorned. One question to ask is which woman has been scorned and by whom.

In playing through the area you will be confronted with many puzzles. In trying to find clues to the next steps you might, as I have done, read ancient plays about Athena and Apollo and the stories of Orestes. You might think about the Underworld in Olympus, more properly called Hades, and wonder about the stories of the gods presented there. You might spend hours with friends pouring over room descriptions, making lists of keywords to try “the next time we’re there”.

So far it’s been a blast. This difficult area is very well written and contains lots of intricacies and hidden surprises. Even if I knew the answers to the final puzzles I doubt that I would feel like I’d have understood everything within the area, something that would keep me coming back for more as the Tower of Despair still haunts my imagination so many years after the Shattering. Thank you to the builders who have worked on this area for the many hours of fun and frustration trying one zany idea after another. A top notch work of art.

Hey world traveller, don’t let that candy rot your teeth!

Ahh the summer vacation, a quick world tour with no cares except getting disarmed while teleporting or keeping fly running to avoid no-fly DT’s. I’m talking about Zistrosk’s RoD 2020 Summer Vacation of course, every other kind of world travel well … is on hold for the foreseeable future.

First off a tip of the hat to Quest Council, and to Zistrosk for this quest. Like the Silver Anniversary quest this was very straight forward and encouraged teamwork. 100 locations scattered about the Realms. A tour book that told you how many locations per area, and a block of text that could be picked at to provide clues.

Unlike some past quests I saw a great deal of camaraderie and support in the community. A few of the locations were difficult, but not impossible to reach and took us on a tour of the old school “hard” areas like Abattoir Asylum, nearby Dracula in Transylvania, front and center with Gaelcath, and a mandatory trip into Seth’s Fortress. It was nice to see some of the very old locations, though newer players wouldn’t know where the mobs had been removed for various reasons, us older folk noticed. Who knows, maybe a troll will return to the Abby at some point, fixed up and run worthy for the modern standards.

As the quest draws to a close the response has been quite positive among the players. On a personal note I was impressed with how the tourbook operated, it reminded me of a proposal I brought up at TS a while back to have an achievement system developed … without recoding in the system perhaps a first step would be a crystal ball or whatever that told you what you still had outstanding to do. As Zist points out adding too many variables to a character is not a great idea, but it got those wheels churning once again.

Kudos to Zistrosk and the Quest Council, and now back to our regularly scheduled distractions 🙂

We must be having fun wrong!

I’ve heard the phrase “we must have been having fun wrong” a ton of times over the last year or so, usually to describe a change made to an area or skill that disrupts the status quo.

I heard it when the experience formula changes were brought in preceding prestige characters being introduced. I heard it after gold farming was impacted by what I assume was changes to the economy code. I heard it loudly after Lord Seth’s Throne Room was changed.

Yet it’s really only in the last year where I’ve taken time to think about what that phrase means to me as an individual player. How do I have fun on Realms? I do enjoy having characters that I think reflect good abilities and that is useful in lots of places. Yet I know that other people can simply buy and sell the same gear that I’m going to run or quest for. To me grinding out gold is a low risk, low skill activity, but why would it bug me if someone puts their time in to doing it while I choose to go on a run? In a way, sometimes I’ve felt like it devalues the efforts I’ve made to learn runs and how to survive on them. That’s where I was having fun wrong and it took some thinking to recognize it.

Some recent players have more or less been trafficking for fully dressed characters and I had to stop myself and think about why that bugged me.

To many of you reading it’s obvious what the problem was. I was valuing the adventures I’d been having only as much as other people valued them. I bought into the text high score syndrome.

When I was away from the game for years it wasn’t the DR on my character that I remembered or the time I got a really good buy on auction. It was getting up at reboot and putting characters in the La Chute trans maze to go to Danbala with the Guild of Druids. Of popping our first Danbala skull unexpectedly after that change was made and brainstorming where else to look for pieces until we managed to get a Garland of Skulls. It was the thrill of being included in going against Orcus and Hastur as part of a team, not for the gear – the Spiral I have today is the only remnant of those runs I have, I never earned any of the Hastur equipment, but in the puzzle solving. The spitballing ideas around. Following the Black Monk and absolutely misinterpreting everything he had to say.

I also still possessed the skills that I had developed because I needed to work on them for playing Realms. No – not how to quaff fast, or learning to flee and reenter the room and attack. Learning to write triggers. Learning from there how to create databases and websites. Those were things I took away from the game. All I wanted to do was get rid of all the little bits of paper from my desk and lo and behold.

My success with getting big gear pieces or going on big runs has more to do with the people around me and the legacy of notes and experience that has been passed down by players long gone. When I think back though, I had more fun exploring Wendle’s Mansion than I had sitting through hours of S/O or Seth. I am exploring things and loving it. I don’t care if I get loot, really, I just want to be part of figuring out how the loot is got.

That fear of missing out I talked about before, it can come back easily if I let it. For now though it’s under control, especially if I just do things I consider to be fun. Being a reliable part of the team has been a big part of that.

To the golders, script levellers, traffic channellers, all the best in your goals. You’re having fun your way. God bless.