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.

Expert explorer? Huh!

I wanted to write a quick post telling you about my first day back on the Newbie Council.

As I’ve written before I first applied to NC when I was level 15 on Tharius and was encouraged to give Guild of Rangers a try for a while instead :-). I was eventually accepted as a member under Julie and Stoney as co-heads and then continued as a member under Sarah. I don’t recall if I was a member under Loril and Stoneheft when they first took over, but if I was it was as Cready, the mage I swapped into NC when Tharius immed.

Things change. Pre-auth and the academy are radically different from when I first joined. Those of you who have seen the stock SMAUG setup know what I’m talking about. I was part of the project to revamp it way back when and if I search hard enough I could probably find the packet of paper that Sarah mailed to me when it was in progress.

Of course even those changes are gone, about 10 years ago Loril and many contributors set about revamping it into what it is today.

I spent my first day on NC going through pre-auth with a fine tooth comb and while I found a TON of stuff I’ve never noticed before it’s distinctly possible that I missed even more details. I tried very hard to come at it from the point of view of someone who was new to the game and I must say that it is very well written and doesn’t assume knowledge of commands. Everything you need is presented to you to get you through the area. My only long time beef is the wall of text that is help start ūüôā

So dear reader, perhaps you are an explorer of great renoun, expert at spotting all the little details. Here are a few things I wonder if you know:

  1. How many dragons are in pre-auth and what colour are they?
  2. What 3 players are immortalized by having their stories recorded in pre-auth?
  3. What is it that keeps shooting sticky fluid and capturing that poor bat??

There’s lots more. ¬†I really encourage you to take an hour and go through the Sunless Sea and absorb the detail in the area. I had more fun adventuring the area than I’ve ever had creating a character ūüôā

Oh I did field questions from new players during this adventure through pre-auth … you know the regular [NC-ON] lifestyle, though as a thief I plan to avoid an addiction to those funky blue potions.

Wandering in the Forest of Despair

Since someone mentioned this forest in conversation the other day I decided to go have a wander about, especially seeing as I’ve been putting off gathering a few dispel amulets for some of my alts.

I used this little side trip as an excuse to go ahead and adept detrap on Tharius before I headed out.  After a visit the the vineyard, a number of ugly orange sweaters and viewing the world through rose coloured glasses I was good to go.

Where is the Forest of Despair? ¬†It’s located to the north-east of the City of Salburg an area built by the team of Kinux and Selina based on an original concept by Thoric.

I’ve visited Salburg before with Vladivostok when we came to beat up on Edonea’s hellish creation and pick up some blood of the innocent. ¬†During that trip I noticed that the place had a creepy vibe about it and that’s during the daytime, never mind lingering about to encounter all the strange things you’ll encounter at night. ¬†It was during this trip that I learned that falcon sight is still useful even if you have a your detects on, because you get detect traps as part and parcel, which is otherwise a bit of a bugger to get. ¬†You’ll need this detect in many places during the area.

A you might expect in a town that has started to rot from the inside out there are a number of dangerous locations, you should be vigilant about watching for DTs, there are at least 5 easy to find ones.

Witches, swamp beasts and sentient trees all stand in your way but so too does a silent trans maze, a slog through a swamp maze, lots of pop items that need to come together in certain ways to form new and exciting items … but if you overcome all these hurdles you may walk away with generous rewards.

It’s one thing to walk in Thoric’s foot steps, it’s another altogether to wander off with his boots ūüôā

Catacombs of Mahn-Tor (or 2 thieves and a barbarian levelled makes someone something something…)

The last week has been another detour through adding experience points to characters. ¬†The baby barb that I started to kill Brutus with hadn’t put on a point of xp since I wrote that blog post, so it was time to finish him off. ¬†Ended out with a 933 hp base, which I was pretty satisfied with. ¬†I also levelled 2 thieves for other people and I felt the came out with decent enough bases, 742 and 728 respectively.

This is not another blog post about the evils of leveling or rerolling … this is another blog post about “while I was levelling I tried something new and ..” ūüôā

This week’s wander was to the Catacombs of Mahn-Tor, a nifty little adjunct to the Keep of Mahn-Tor. ¬†Once you gain entry there’s a few sealed off tombs that make you grateful that pass door can still be brewed. ¬†Might have even found a bug, because once you door bash them open after repop you can’t walk through them and door bash thinks they are open. ¬†Each of the tombs can provide you with a fight, whether the remains of the King and Queen or just the ancient warrior spirit. ¬†You will additionally confront ghosts, spirits and even a wraith in the hallway.

I’ve noticed that there certainly seems to be more to the area than what I’ve discovered, the flame of the elder was nice as are the cotton bindings but the burial armor seems out of place. ¬†Whenever I see a piece of equipment with negative stats and no apparent use it triggers alarm bells in my head. ¬†Additionally some of the vaults can be opened and closed. ¬†I have not yet determined if bringing the corpse of Mahn-Tor into the catacomb is triggering anything yet, I haven’t gotten it figured out just yet, but I’m having fun trying out different ideas.

I’ve run away with the king and queen’s body before too, I just haven’t decided where to take our mummy jerky yet ūüôā

Stay tuned ūüôā

Old MacMillan had a farm, ee aye ee aye omg that hurts!

Similar to my adventures in Wendle Mansion, my adventures in MacMillan Family Farm has been motivated by levelling a character.  In this case I decided to level my first barbarian, my previous barbs being purchased for the purpose of runs.

Of course the largest challenge with barbarians is that they cannot use equipment that is magic, nor recite scrolls, brandish staves and so forth. ¬†They generally eschew magic, unless they’re quaffing potions by the hundred out of a gnomish potion container ūüėõ ¬†Nonetheless that means that a tremendous amount of gear, which is magical is not useful. ¬†For me that was the challenge. ¬†Conceptually I like the barbarians, I wish that they had damage mitigation/non magical healing that actually made them play differently than other classes but perhaps that would have been too much coding and/or too different for Realms.

So the Farm has a primary quest and a great number of craftable pieces of equipment particular to the barbarians. ¬†Given that this area presently the newest installed area it’s no surprise that some of these pieces plug a particular hole in builds. ¬†In particular, the spiked leather armguards of the tribesmen¬†are useful into avatarhood and the stone-headed tomahawk named “windwalker”¬†is a nice upgrade to a knobby club.

I managed to map out the area fairly straightforwardly, though a couple of the keywords were a little tough to get “just right”. ¬†The main difficulty becomes that some of the mobs do not appear every repop and the components they provide are pop items themselves. ¬†The armored baloth in particular hits hard, having a program that dings a piece of equipment nearly every round. ¬†Given the AC on levelling gear it’s just too easy to scrap stuff there, but you have to kill him, since he has two different pops that are used in the recipes. ¬†Oh well. ¬†Having done this on a barb, I see why people dedicate a level 44 Paladin to this job. ¬†The barbarian is uppercutting away where the paladin can shieldbash. ¬†If the barbarian had rend at this level then at least the fights would be hard but reasonable.

That sums up my feelings on the main quest as well. ¬†Brutus is just too hard to fight on a barbarian in any reasonable way. ¬†You can die/recall, repair, restock and run back to rejoin the fight, but uppercut just barely keeps up with his healing where shieldbash actually makes some headway. ¬†I like a challenge, but there’s some things I am just not doing more than once. ¬†It’s too bad that ancestral strike, which is generally considered underpowered at avatar, isn’t lower level because it would be a nice alternative here. ¬†About the only thing I can think to do is try armblocking the damage and bringing lots of extra armwear (can’t even cheat and recite quantum spike scrolls!!).

Overall a fun area with some good gear.  A nice side adventure that will never be staked as a levelling area.  Nice job Eisengrim.

Who says things change slowly on Realms?!?

Since my last blog post a couple of days ago I thought perhaps I had not completed the quest, so I went back to do it over and try to linger about and find out if I had become too impatient and missed out on the completion of the story line.

Today’s kill blow contained a new message:


A shadow beast is DEAD!!
You receive 1041 experience points.
You have completed the quest to save Lord Wendle and his family from the Shadow Beast!


Thank you to whomever made the change, I can assume that it was Romani since I know she cares a great deal about doing a good job and because she had asked me if I found the cloak! ūüôā ¬†(Of course you know that also could go two ways … did I find the cloak I was talking about in my blog post or did I find the cloak that is the item at the end of the area!! ¬†See what happens when you put a puzzle in this head? ¬†Insanity!!)

I only hedge my bets in case it was some other helpful immortal lurking around the blog-o-sphere!

Ever stop to level a character to level 5 and lose 3 days?

For the past few days I’ve been in Wendle Mansion on a couple of lowbies, learning the heck out of the area and driving Romani pretty well nuts with my on going tells as some parts of the area drive me strange with frustration :-> ¬†To be fair, she’s tight lipped, I didn’t really expect her to share too, too much as I know she takes her immortal duties very seriously.

I originally visited the area to obtain a cloak of spirits, a lowbie body wear with con on it for rogues and aberrants so that I could get my level 2 thieves to level 5 and slow the autodelete timer.  As I got to looking around the area I found a number of interesting programs and the heart of Lord Wendle that sort of sucked me into the story line of this haunted mansion.

In many ways the area reminds me strongly of the Shining with the blood appearing at night and disappearing through the day, whispering warnings to you and so forth. Romani certainly captured the atmosphere right down to the idea of the ghosts tormenting the house guests to insanity … though that’s more from the book than the movie adaption.


An excellent little levelling area it’s got a good story line that draws you further into the area. It relies on a number of easily found skills like search and dig to get you through the area, though there is a spot you can adept mount if you’re paying attention. (Minor spoiler ahead) I didn’t realize that you could search in a container on the ground, so after all these years I learned something new which finally answered the question of where the skull-bone mask comes from.

A few useful levelling items all in a small spot with a quick repop (as low as 8 minutes from time to time). It’s possible to get most of the puzzles solved without fighting, which is helpful since most of the items in the area stop popping once you hit level 10. This makes farming trickier but not impossible when you’re hunting for the level 2 versions.

If you pay close attention to extra descriptions and hang out in rooms to wait for programs and read everything that’s said, it does prod you along towards your goal.


There are a couple of things I’ve come to loathe thanks to this area, or maybe I always did and this area reminded me of how much I hate them.

Oh my god I’ve come to hate waiting 30 minutes for a mud day to cycle. When you’re trying to figure out a puzzle whose triggers are midnight in almost every hot spot you only get to try one thing per half hour. That’s a half hour you’re not leveling because you’re worried that maybe you’re going to become too high a level for the puzzles. You’re standing in the next spot eating mushrooms out of a chest and drinking off your dragonskin waiting for 30 minutes in case there’s a program in the room that fires off. Of course you could start a lowbie army and sit in several spots at once but that does sort of defeat the idea of a real new player experience right? I mean that’s a big bad avatar approach …

I had been thinking of using this technique in my building but I’m right off it now. Either that or there needs to be more going on … I can live with ALL NIGHT something’s happening in the area and at MIDNIGHT something special happens in a part of it, but to have to be in 2 different spots (at least) at once means a lot of sitting idle logging the room.

The only other critique I’ll throw on this is that it’s not at all clear if I’ve finished the area or not. I found and fought a beast that looks like the end dude and received the items that other old Cry of Despair articles point to … but … did I break the curse or not? Should I have idled more in that last room I got to?

And what was up with Sarah in the shed? I spotted her there once, and now I can’t for the life of me seem to get her to appear again, even though I’ve moved to a different character… I’m wondering if she only appears to higher level characters now because my first time through was on a higher lowbie.

So there are a few things left to figure out. Romani did a great job on this area my personal frustrations aside ūüôā I will certainly revisit it and try to figure the rest out, there can’t be a ton left :> If you’ve never been, it’s a great way to learn how to explore. ¬†Until next time!