Keerella's Blog - stardate July 2008 (1)
Unbloggishly, here we read from the top down - so the month begins here at the top!
One Last Day - July 1st

So, speculation mounts as to what the large new patch we'll need to download tomorrow will bring - Evasion will be downgraded, so that people no longer can reach 100% in it and be entirely unhittable - various other changes are being made, to encourage teamwork - and we ought to see a brand-new "party dungeon", like the four "personal dungeons" we can solo in at different levels, but designed for a whole party. A bit of a Guild Wars type thing perhaps...?   Some monsters won't hit as hard, but they may get additional skills to use, like Blind or Poison, which would be bad news for attackers.

Apart from Karella doing some herb farming, the day belonged to Keerella, my level 49 mage... and it was a matter of grinding away with the Giant Larvae as usual. I was soloing it in the afternoon, getting through a few of the 800-plus small health potions I've managed to accumulate, and getting through a lot of herbs for Greedo. This is probably the last day I'll find the larvae's attack not particularly threatening, as I do rely on my own evasion rating a bit for that, so that they don't hit me as often as they'd like... or will the changes make their general attack less strong?

After my food break I logged back in, cheerfully enquiring if anything exciting had been going on, to find Itura in a far from happy mood. It seems that four of her trusted guild members had reported that they'd been fighting the Great Red Dragon, and that one of them had used a lucky scroll, lucky spell book, and an item drop booster in anticipation of some really useful drops - but the team had been ks'd, which tends to spoil the potential drops... and the ks'er had been Norcaine's own Sheele, our premier rogue and a bit of a mentor to me. The Dominion guild people were mad about this, and annoyed with their leader, Damor, as they knew that her healer character Itura was in the Norcaine guild. So Damor, or Itura, was pretty annoyed, too.

For a while Itura was busy in Dratan, while I went to our usual Giant Larvae - but after a while she did come and join me, and after a further twenty minutes or so actually started to talk. So we continued together there until my usual Tuesday logging out time of soon after eight.

Obviously, I'm going to have to have a little chat with Sheele, sigh. This guild leadership business isn't easy, sometimes. I never asked for it; I was a "Guild Adviser" because I was one of the first people to join, along with Rastatitan, and Sheele of course, and then when Elvastar had to put aside his Last Chaos responsibilities, I got the promotion. And just as things seemed to be going well, with some keen new members and the return of Sheele after he'd finished his studies for the moment, this comes along...

Hunting the "GRD" across the six sub-servers is a big business, really, and if one is grinding in Merac in the places that the GRD often visits, one often sees high-level types riding around, often asking if the GRD has been seen recently, and asking to be told if he does turn up. I suppose it can be profitable - you may have to ride around for an hour, but if you do find and kill it, well, what he drops could be worth 10 million, 60 million, or even 200 million... or about 2,000 if you're unlucky, but it must average out as a good way to get rich. So if you've been searching for a while, and consider the GRD you've found to have been found by your party alone, then you aren't going to be happy if someone else joins the fight. If the outsider actually lands the killing blow, then all the drops get assigned to them, too, apparently - which would be incredibly annoying, especially if it was a non-PvP server.

Oh well, tomorrow will be an interesting day, in many ways. The first thing to hope for is that the patch goes smoothly, sometimes such things can "break" a game, I know I can't access RF Online any more since they added something which my antivirus is convinced in a Trojan, while I can't get Shaiya to patch itself successfully either. So fingers crossed that all goes well!  As for today, the final day of the game as we have become used to playing it, well Kee went up 10% in experience, 1872 pet points, and a very useful 82 skill points.  Still not enough for the final level of Fear, but we are getting there.
One More Last Day - July 2nd
Karella braved disconnections and crashes to farm some more herbs in the morning - and a mage called Moghedien, seeing her busily farming, gave her three free knives, as she'd absent-mindedly bought the wrong type. I don't think Karella ever has to pay for knives, rogue ones seem to often be bought in error and discarded!

The Big Patch has been delayed by a day, a search of the forums revealed - I was starting to wonder what was going on, after not having a big download when I logged in...

Good news on the GRD/ks'ing front, it was all a case of mistaken identity.... it seems that the four Dominion players didn't actually get to see the name or guild of the rogue who spoilt their dragon-slaying, but a little while later they happened to see Sheele, in the same armour, and jumped to conclusions. People seem to have calmed down now; there seems a possibility that the misbehaving rogue might have had a name like or including "sonny". Just remember folks, if you see other people fighting a boss monster, don't "helpfully" join in, and don't even give one of the participants a buff, like Concentration or Divine Shield, as that too can upset the drop possibilities.

This afternoon was a marathon session for Kee with Itura, fighting the Giant Larvae. It ended slightly early when Itura got called away a bit suddenly, but by continuing for a few minutes I got up to the 194 total skill points needed to "max out" Fear at level five - 39 skill points in an afternoon session, that can't be bad! The various pink candies picked up were passed over to MistressDomino, along with ToolAids, Moonstones, etc.

The evening session was pretty much a continuation - I'd been doing a little moving of stuff around, and trying to contact a prospective new Norcaine member, when Itura returned, and we headed back to Merac - though Itura stopped briefly at the Randol arena to fight someone there. I really don't know if buffs I attempted to add from outside the arena had any effect, but by the time I'd finished them Itura was back in the middle of town respawning.

The session didn't last until my usual logging-out time, as I was starting to feel a bit tired - the idea of being able to just lie down on the sofa for a while became pretty much irresistable! Itura agreed that she too was getting a bit fatigued, so we concluded our session. I passed the new loot over to MistressDomino, and was about to learn the first couple of levels of the other currently-available skill I don't yet have, Freeze Arrow when the game crashed, not the first time it's done that when I've been attempting to approach a skill trainer.

I'd managed to gain another 46 skill points - more than in the afternoon, so it was still a pretty long session.  The five levels of Freeze Arrow cost 11, 15, 25, 60, and 216 skill points, so I've enough points for the first two levels. It's not a hugely effective damage-dealing spell on its own, level 5 needs 148 mana and does 260% of the damage of a normal staff attack, compared to Terra Spear's 86 mana to do 550% damage, but it does slow one's opponent down by 30% for 10 seconds, so I have seen Damor use it on the Boucu Demons.. By the time I have the 247 more skill points needed to get all its levels, I should have reached level fifty - at which point the passive skill Magic Rod becomes available, and that needs, gulp, 573 skill points. It's a good one to get, though (and I might well postpone acquiring level five of Freeze Arrow until afterwards), as it increases my defence by 10 per level, and increases my attack speed by 3% per level.

All New, All Different - July 3rd

The new patch was painless to download - and to celebrate, we were given double skill exp for the whole day - though it isn't planned to extend into the US evening.  So I was out early today to take advantage of this largesse, once again teaming up SirDarth with Enchantrella against the Treants near Velpist Temple.  It's strange - with a "combat party" arrangement, while the two characters are close together, with Darth doing all the fighting, he was getting about 2400-2500 experience (after a 25% reduction as he was set to donate some experience to Norcaine), and Enchantrella was getting about 440-500 just for being there, while they got 950-1100 skill exp each (that being double the regular figure, thanks to the double skill event) - but if Enchantrella was far away, making it a "solo party" and getting no reward, Darth was then getting only 1326 experience, and 1320 skill exp, which while it was more skill exp for him than when it was shared, was by no means double.

That team-up took care of things until about four, when Itura came on - she'd had a longer day at college, including some sort of Oral test, which she'd done well on.  So Kee got abducted to the Giant Larvae, despite her protestations that it was nearly food time, and we happily farmed there for an hour or so, until Escadalia came on, and Itura let me go and eat, while she skipped off to Dratan, to the Giants there...they have the advantage of not being pet-eaters, but they hit hard apparently, so Kee shouldn't go there for a few levels.
When I logged back in, Itu and Esca were still teamed there, so Darth and Enchie had another bash at the Treants.  Darth has got up to 96% of the way through level 30 now, so I decided to "freeze" him at that level, since the Treants are still a useful quickly-killed easy-to-get foe, for a while.  He has got up to 325 unused skill points, thanks to a healthy boost from the double experience today, so it makes the idea of donating 550 skill points to get the guild up another level pretty feasible.  It's a handy way to boost Enchantrella's skill points too - as she has no passive skills and only one level 3 attack skill, she isn't the best fighter around, so this was a handy way of getting her the rest of the points needed for the second level of Expert Armoursmith - and 114 of the 179 needed for the third and final level!  After that has been reached, rather than go back to acquiring material processing skills, I think I will actually get her at least a few levels of the mage passive skills.

But, as nine (UK time)  approached, Itura served notice that she would be available shortly for some Giant Larvae bashing, so I hurriedly transferred the sellable loot across to SirDarth, so that he can pass it via the storekeeper to MistressDomino - in return Enchantrella got any manuals that SirDarth had picked up.  And then Kee was ready to head for the Giant Larvae homestead in Merac.  We fought them there until ten, and then decided to log out.  Itura has decided to concentrate on her healer this month, rather than on Damor, so there should be plenty more team-ups ahead.  Her time with Escadalia meant that she is now a few percent ahead of Keerella, but Kee put on almost 8.5% today, and added 130 skill points.  Her drake is almost all of the way through level 38 now, at 15786 points out of 15862, so will hopefully level up tomorrow - Itu's pony levelled up to become a level 16 horse today.  As to what the points should be invested in, well, some research is needed, as some new skill options have opened up today.

The regular "special this week" type drops are now Stars (extra attack and defence for 5 minutes), Stripes (50% extra experience and skill exp for the same time), and "Uncle Sam" hats for the six different character types - Darth picked up three Knight ones, while Kee got allocated a Healer one, which will be passed to Kae soon.  This is to celebrate July 4th, the USA's "Independence Day".  Some not-particularly-pro-America people have made it clear that they won't be wearing such hats, but they are a bit of fun, a bit like the top hat a traditional Circus ringmaster might wear.  Vastly different prices are being charged for them by merchants, I saw them at 25,000 gold, which is reasonable, and 200,000, which probably isn't.  They have been around before - the game was active a year ago, and such things don't vanish, a number of merchants have always worn the hats.

And the new additions in the patch?  Well, the bonus stats on rings and bloodsealed armour have changed, and generally we hit harder - now my Terra Spear kills a Giant Larva alone, rather than just taking it down by 60% or so of its health, but may miss slightly more often I think.  Zeratus was investigating the new instanced party "combo" dungeons, but I was too busy skill exp farming to go to Dratan for that.  It looks as if you can adjust the level of the monsters you'll find in the various bits of the combo, which presumably effects the rewards on offer.  It looks as if our existing monsters are generally weaker than before, but the high-level ones may have some sneaky new skills to surprise us with.  Removing the chance of characters being basically invulnerable through having 100% Evasion seems a good idea to me.  The new set-up is meant to encourage parties, we shall have to see how it goes, but the initial reaction doesn't seem unfavourable.  The double skill exp seems like an excellent way to start things off, as some existing skills have been given extra levels...and when a level 5 is already a lot of points, getting a level 6 is liable to be even more painful.  Let's hope that Friday's Happy Hour will be double skill exp too, and Sunday's TeaTime...

Treants & Giant Larvae - July 4th

SirDarth and Enchantrella went out for a couple of hours in the afternoon, and another fairly lengthy session later too; by going on a little while past my usual stopping point, I got Enchantrella up to the 179 skill points she needed for the final level of armoursmithing - she is now maxxed out on making weapons and armour, as well as a little material processing and mining. She is also nearly halfway through level 25 now, as the party can be "equal" now, rather than Darth getting most of the experience. Her reaching level 25 seems if anything to have slightly reduced the skill exp reward both characters get per Treant, but it is still a useful way to give them both the points they need. Darth is on 391 unused points now, which is another useful step towards 550 for the guild, though of course after those points are donated to Norcaine, he will need to farm points for himself. Darth's drake has levelled up, and is now level 31, one level ahead of him, which is a byproduct of freezing his experience gain, and the obliging way that Treants give pet points.

The "Happy Hour" today was 50% extra experience, and double skill exp (you may have noticed that the "house style" here is always to call it "skill exp" rather than "skill experience", just to help differentiate between the two types), so it was a good time for Keerella to head out to solo the Giant Larvae again. A little earlier Itura had been in touch to say that she had spotted a bargain set of armour for a mage - the level 65/67 set, so we are getting a bit ahead of ourselves here as we only have the gloves and shirt of the 55/57 set, and nothing from the 60/62 set... but anyway, at 5 million per part, Itura reckoned that Croils Gloves, Ponigons Shirts (sic), Ponigons Pants, Louichers Circlet, and Croils Boots were well worth grabbing - and all +6!

So, that cut down my cash reserves rather drastically. The same mage did have a +12 staff for sale, but that was 95 million, which Itura reckoned was over-priced, and a bit out of my price range anyway. Itura said that she'd not be online this evening - and so missed a special extra Quiz, starting at the usual 7:00pm, with the usual type of question - I got kicked out at around question six, not knowing how much it costs to hire a particular sorcerer weapon - I mean, who is likely to know that stuff? Everyone rushed back to the domain merchant - but they'd changed things, and we were not allowed back in, which left a rather large mob surrounding her and complaining.

I headed back to the Giant Larvae, but the bonus event was over, so I didn't stay all that much longer with them, before switching back to SirDarth and Enchantrella. Kee went up 9%, thanks to the 50% bonus, though - and added 88 skill points. Her drake levelled up finally, and is now level 39; using Terra Spear hardly seems to add any pet points at all, it's only using an ordinary staff attack that increased the total. The next level will need 17289 pet points. There are some extra, higher levels of existing skills that have been added, but they are so expensive in skill points - I think my best bet is to reach level 50 and max out the skill that I can add then, Magic Rod first - better physical defence and attack speed sound good to me! But these new higher levels do mean that people are going to have to do an awful lot of skill point farming, which isn't the most exciting thing in the World of Iris to do...

Sheele was suggesting that she and Kee could try killing Boucu Demons now, after the patch - my feeling is that I need to concentrate on skill exp farming at present. Though I wouldn't mind teaming up to investigate the new "Monster Combo" instance sequence. It does seem to me that there are too many bits of the game I've not properly got into yet - apart from PvP in the arena, that is, which just seems too casual and informal.

Giant Larvae & Akane Giants - July 5th

I logged on just before 11:00am, just to check on stuff and perhaps swap items between accounts - but within seconds an announcement came up that there was to be an hour of double skill points, since the US "midnight madness" raffle had managed to reach its third tier! I quickly switched over to Keerella, and got Mistress Domino active on the upstairs computer too, so that I could easily make a "solo party".  So, by five past, I was busy fighting the Giant Larvae, and getting double skill points for it! At about twenty past, Itura logged in, and when I told her there was double skill exp on for another 40 minutes, she quickly came across to Merac to join me. The hour went by pretty quickly, and the double effect was turned off promptly - but by then it was time to start thinking of lunch, anyway. Itura mentioned, having read yesterday's post, that Damor does have an old set of 60/62 level mage armour, so I must attempt to buy that as soon as I have enough cash.

Itura and I had arranged to meet up again at soon after two, and I had a look around the various merchant shops while I was waiting - I saw someone attempting to sell an identical mage set to the 65/67 armour Itura advised me to buy yesterday for almost twice as much, 47 million instead of 25, so it does indeed look as if I did get a bargain there.

This time, Itura decided to risk taking me to the Akane Giants, at level 53, and the regular Giants, at level 52, west of Dratan city, so I joined the party Itura was hosting for solo adventurers, checked that it was her showing as the orange dot over that way, and rode out there. And, despite Itura's previous "they hit hard" misgivings, both kinds of giant were perfectly well-behaved. They are aggressive if one gets close, and they will attack pets - but they are nothing like as bad at either of those things as the Giant Larvae! The area also included an Elite Akane Giant, who, while still level 53, has an ornate boss-type frame around his name at the top of the screen, and was harder to kill, giving rather more experience. My Terra Spear, with my drake equipped, could generally take down a Giant or an Akane Giant, but could only get the boss down to about 45% health.

Shortly before the end of the session I finally reached level 50, and could put on my new gloves; and about 1.5% later Itura also reached the magic figure, so it was time to return to town.

I'd added 94 skill points, bringing my total to spend up to 358 - and I used these to get the first four levels of the level 50 skill, Magic Rod. The remaining 145 points wasn't enough for the fifth level, that costs 360 - but it was only 5 short of the points needed for the new patch-provided sixth level of Secret Study. Or another option on the passive skills side now is Mage Armor2, which is a strange name for a skill that, like its predecessor, actually increases the rate of mana regeneration: that would take 200 skill points. There are attacking skills available too, not just starting Freeze Arrow, but a couple of new sixth levels that would need 250 skill points each, and a sixth level of Transformation, changing hp into mp, for a mere 200 skill points. It looks as if my skill point farming is going to go on rather longer than I anticipated!

After the break, we went back to the Akane Giants, though Itura had a strange disconnection after an hour or so - she'd left the area and the party as far as I was concerned, but could still send messages, though she apparently couldn't see the responses. When she relogged Escadalia managed to persuade her to team with her instead in Cariae-5, so I continued solo - I think I got through about eighty small healing potions, leaving me with 721 at the moment - they do build up over time, I've never actually bought any! Sometimes Terra Spear doesn't hit the target - and there was the Elite Akane Giant, who even when Terra Spear worked was still left with that 45% health. Luckily he missed me most times, but when he did hit, he hit for 220 hp or so. I was using Transformation too (at level five), which boosted my mana but reduced my health - well, I have more healing pots than mana ones.

I went back to Randol afterwards, having gone up a total of 23.5% over the day - and the evening session added a further 68 skill points, making a total gain over the day of 162, which is a pretty good total, I think.  1416 pet points is a pretty good start towards my drake's next level, though that will take quite a while.  I chatted with Zeratus, and he promises to take me on a trip to the "Monster Combo" team dungeons, so that is something different to look forward to.  Itura doesn't seem keen on going there again, as she has been a few times with other people, but I'm sure we'll be teaming up against the giants again very soon.

Akane Giants Only - July 6th

One thing I didn't mention yesterday was a small bug that happened while Itura and I were fighting the Akane Giants. Itura had opened up the party so that it was a "solo" team-up for people elsewhere, so that they could get the small extra percentage of experience that being in a "solo party" gives, with other players being well out of range or on a different map... but close to me there was an extra orange dot, as if a third party member was with us among the giants. A bug, I thought, perhaps somehow my drake was being counted as a party member - but when she noticed it, Itura knew what it was, it was a very sneaky rogue using their level 30 skill Invisibility to leach a share of our experience, and indeed our loot. Looking at the Wet Paint LC Wiki I see the skill only lasts 35 seconds, but presumably you can just keep casting it. Itura kicked the rogue from the party very promptly!

I checked the Last Chaos website, and saw that there had been another "midnight madness" raffle last night - which by my calculations, given an eight hour time difference and a three hour raffle, meant that there would be a good chance of an hour's double skill points starting at around eleven, UK time. I put MistressDomino up in Randol on the upstairs computer, so that she would be ready to join a solo party, and got on with mundane Sunday morning real life stuff. And when I checked the text messages Mistress D had received at about a quarter to eleven, I found a recent announcement that the hour had already started! So Kee was quickly brought online, teamed with MistressDomino, and sent out to the Akane Giants in Cariae-3.

It wasn't long before Itura logged in and said "hi", so I was able to tell her that double skill exp was now on, and that I was at the c3 Akane Giants, and she hurried over to join me, impressed by my knowledge of the bonus event. And so we kept going there - the hour ran out promptly at 11:40, but we continued for another half hour. I went on for about ten minutes longer than Itu, adding 7.7% experience, thanks in part to the extra experience that the Elite Akane Giant gives, and 64 skill points. I was a bit vague about what time I'd be back on, as my plans were a bit fluid; Itura was saying that for the "TeaTime" event this evening she would be teaming with Escadalia rather than me, as Esca was quicker... a shame, as her company is always good to have, but as long as I don't mind using up those small healing potions I would probably gain experience, and skill exp, slightly quicker if I was solo-partying, I told myself.

Lunchtime herb-gathering didn't go well, with poor Karella crashing out to "send error message?" twice in relatively quick succession. I had other stuff to do for most of the afternoon, but after food I logged back in ready for the 5:00pm TeaTime Special, which was double skill exp - and looked like double experience to me, as well! As quite often happens, they didn't actually flip the switch to turn it on until about half an hour late - but they kept it going for three hours. To begin with, I was teamed with Itura, out with the Akane Giants, on c4 for a change, but before too long she got the calll to join Escadalia on Cariae-5, so I continued solo in the solo party, getting through lots of small healing potions. The first time I attacked the Elite Akane Giant he dropped a level 45 rogue crossbow, which was ready plussed to +2 - apparently he is the source of such things, otherwise ready-plussed items only drop in Egeha, or I assume from the other Elite boss versions of Dratan monsters. I attacked him plenty more times over the next few hours, but he didn't drop anything else good. Itura came back towards the end, presumably after Esca had logged out, and we continued until about half an hour past the end of the event.

Keerella went up by very nearly 30% over the entire day, thanks to the bonus - and the skill point total was 230, which was probably rather less than Itura, but then I usually forget to use buff-enhancements like the Stripes, not that I picked up many of them today anyway, they seem about half as common as the Stars. 2073 pet points got added as well. Back in town, and with a little time to spare before the Quiz, which was scheduled for 9:30, I spent 360 points on the fifth and final level of Magic Rod, which leaves me with 83 points towards the 200 needed for Mage Armor2 - I'm not sure if it has more than the one level, but we should find out in a day or two.

The Quiz itself was a little rushed, in that the doors didn't open half an hour in advance, as they usually do - we only had about five minutes to all get in, and once again the first questions seemed to move along a bit quickly; I was clicked on Itura's, or Damor's, lead character, but we all soon found ourselves respawning back in the middle of town.  Last time we couldn't get back in, but this time we could, Damor said she thinks they do do that on purpose if the start has been fluffed, so with a number of respawnings in Randol, I kept dashing back in, along with many others, hoping to get on to the answer area before getting booted again.  After all the running about, I was rewarded - I missed out on the 5 Heaven Stone question, but I got the 10 Tool Aids, the 10 Moonstones, and the final 10 Heaven Stones.  Damor did even better, as she did manage to get three characters back in most of the time.

Well, after that breathless high drama, it was time to log out for the night.  Lots of progress today, but there still seems to be rather a lot of skill point farming stretching ahead of us...

More Akane Giants, and a Visitor - July 7th

It was another day of slogging away for Keerella and Itura, fighting the Akane Giants in Dratan desert. I went there straight after lunch, and Itura joined me after about half an hour. She did have a connection problem again, but soon managed to get back. The afternoon session got Kee about 9% experience - the early evening brought another 3.5% before Itura decided that she was really a bit too tired to continue. Maybe that had something to do with the further high drama earlier, when Grand Devilroad Kamira paid us a surprise visit!

Luckily we saw the announcement of her arrival and ran in the right direction, towards the edge and away from the Masters of Secret Technique, the see-through level 57 mobs next to the giants; she materialised close to the Elite Akane Giant, who in turn is close to the Masters. Itura signed out, to go and get Damor - I didn't really see much of what happened, but I think the rather large group of Masters of Secret Technique that sped past within sight of me must have been following Damor. She did ask for horse buffs, as she has lent her horse to Itura, but where she was when she asked, I don't know. Zeratus rode in to join her, and she will no doubt correct me if I'm wrong in saying that it was just the two of them versus Kamira. There were just the ordinary drops, though, nothing valuable, when they killed her.

So, at around seven I changed things around, and it was rather relaxing to be able to team SirDarth up with Enchantrella out at the Treants near Juno's Velpist Temple. However, I'd only got 3 skill points for each of them when Itura came back on, feeling better, and ready for further Akane Giant bashing. And so we continued - Itura got the 300 skill points that had been her immediate target, and we decided to finish when I got to 200... which I did, at just after 9:30, UK time.

I still had quite a choice of things to spend my skill points on, but went for the first level of Mage Armor2 - so that was my 200 points used! It does have a second level, but that isn't available until I reach level 76. My next target will be Secret Study level 6, for increased magical attack power, at 150 points, then perhaps level 6 of Transformation at 200 points, Level 6 of Flame Field becomes available when I reach level 53, for 250 skill points - three levels later level 6 of Fear comes along, at the same price. But I still need to learn Freeze Arrow - the first level of that is 11 points, but all five levels cost 327 points. Unless someone has added a sixth level to it...

Well, overall today I added 21% experience, and 118 skill points, plus 1722 pet points, plus assorted useful loot; the Elite Akane Giant dropped two Heaven Stones early in the afternoon before Itura arrived, for example. Itura gave me the good news that the Cariae server group has won the latest "server contest" by buying the most of the special contest package from the Item Mall, so on Saturday we are scheduled to have a full 24 hours of double everything - experience, skill exp, pet exp, and hopefully double drops. They haven't announced the actual timing yet, but it is something to look forward to - apart from the actual slog involved in making full use of it!

Go Directly To Jail... - July 8th

It was SirDarth and Enchantrella who went out to fight the Treants after lunch, and in just over an hour they got around 25 skill points each, plus some experience for Enchantrella, getting her up to 75% of the way to her next level. At level 25, she ought to be almost ready to take on the Treants solo, if she uses horse buffs and some new-found skills, I decided. I was able to get her the first three levels of Casting Guard, each of which increased her defence by 30, and two levels of Secret Study, to boost her magical attack power.

Towards the end of the time there, Itura came online, and asked "kee?" - but had vanished by the time I responded. I asked about it later in case she had had a disconnection, but apparently not. What she had had a bit earlier was a team-up with Sheele to fight Merac's Great Red Dragon - which had kindly dropped a Stone of Shadow for her. She was asking if I wanted to buy it, but it is a bit out of my range - even at a generous discount (they usually sell for 190/200 million gold) it was still three times my current cash reserve, and there's a set of mage armour I need to buy off her anyway.

I switched to Keerella, with MistressDomino back in town to provide the "solo party" boost, and headed for Dratan, and the Akane Giants...and just as the mists of teleportation were swirling around me, Itu reappeared, asking if I was with the Akanes...which, by the time I could reply, I was. "Be right there" was the response, so we teamed up for an hour - just after asking me how long I could stay before food, at four UK time, she had to leave, but assured me that she'd be back in two hours. I stayed a few more minutes, and then headed back to town, and food. 4% experience, and 24 skill points - well it all helps!

Aftre food, since I had some time to spare, Enchantrella went out to try soloing the Treants - and, with the horse buffs active and her new skills, had absolutely no trouble with them, her health stayed high. For the moment it's probably more productive to keep her teamed with SirDarth there, though, that way they both make progress.

But it was soon time to team with Itu again versus the Akane Giants, and we got along pretty efficiently there, until after about 90 minutes she suggested that it was time we went to do the Maargadum Jail quests. So that's what we did! I'd been to the second level before, I think it was with Elvastar when he had a quest down there, but Itura went on ahead down to the third level, leaving me to try and find the correct route - which I did after only one wrong turning. There it was a matter of killing 30 Beast Flyers for one quest - once Itura had checked that I'd got all mine, she logged out of the party, so I logged out too - deep in the Jail you can't summon your horse to do a "return to village".

That was handy, as when I got back to Merac to claim the quest reward I got a new quest for the Jail - Itura meanwhile was a bit puzzled that I had vanished, as she was still in the Jail, she'd only left the party, not the game, as the next items she needed would only drop when one wasn't in a team. My mind-reading abilities are, sadly, a bit limited. Anyway, she got the new quest too, and we went back in - Itu did actually meet me at the end of level two this time, but hadn't teamed up when we met outside, which momentarily puzzled me. Anyway, she led me where I had to go, and explained that the "Beast Leaders" that Great Magician Minearm was worried about were actually the Beast Crawlers - and I killed enough for the 3 rings needed to end up in the quest item part of my inventory.

Then it was a matter of getting 5 "Rotten Flesh" from the Death Mask Soldiers and Death Mask Lancers on the bottom level, level five - Itura cautioned me to stay back by the stairs, rather than go forward, as that was the territory of the Boss of Maargadum Jail, the Death Knight of Iris. Itura wanted to show me him in action, so went forward, once the quest items had been safely obtained - unfortunately I stepped back just too far, and went through the zone onto the stairs. All was quiet, so I moved back through, to see what Itura was doing - and was immediately dead, sigh. As indeed was she, but at least she'd known what she was doing. I have definitely got to brush up on my mind-reading skills!

So then it was back to Merac for the quest reward, and one final quest - luckily this just involved taking items back to Healer Yabo in Dratan, so no risks involved there. The quest rewards of experience amounts like 587,000, 811,000 and 867,000 may seem a lot, but they don't make much difference to the day's total percentage gain, particularly when one factors in that death; Kee went up 10% today, and got 60 skill points towards that next skill - 913 pet points, too. And apart from some minor moving-about of items, that concluded the evening's adventures; Itura went off to watch some television, and I, well, I had the blog to work on, right?

Giants & Treants - July 9th

With a view to saving up some skill points for future guild use, I experimented with a new mage character, FoxHunter - inducting her into the Norcaine guild and immediately "freezing" her experience at level one. She just ran through the initial dungeon without fighting the zombies and skeletons, which was how she managed to reach Randol without gaining any experience. Fighting the level 1 Foxes with a level 1 character seemed worth trying, but the problem was that, even donating 100% of the experience, theoretically, to Norcaine she still got 1 experience point per kill, and at the early levels that is enough to move her along, so she fought the Foxes, and then she fought the level 2 Wolves, the level 3 Elder Wolves, and was well into the level 4 Dire Wolves. To continue with her would be a bit of a long-term project, if to become a Guild Master and donate points you need to be level 30, but I may well spend a little time with her, now and then.

The main afternoon session against the Akane Giants started a little later than usual, as Itura had some real life stuff to get done first; I was in a solo party for a while, but left it when Itu came out to join me. And a little later Escadalia joined us too, so it was lucky we just about had the area to ourselves. We continued for longer than usual - both Esca and I were getting hungry, but Itu wanted to get to level 51, so we continued until that milestone was reached. Keerella is 10% away from that; I have the Kirnitooth's Shirt +7 ready, but haven't been able to find a Kirnitooth's Skirt to go with it (or the circlet or boots, but they are another level away). So, after the food break I took Itura's advice and got Enchantrella to manufacture one, using her newly maxxed-out armour-making skills.

It took a while - as the Akane Giants do drop the manuals at that level, I had the necessary "pants" manual, but I needed to get together 20 Flawed Earth Crystals, 25 Imperfect Earth Crystals, 17 Cotton Fabrics, 25 Good Quality Tinctures, and 20 Fair Quality Tinctures - and that took a while. The Master of Processing Materials, near Randol's north gate, will make them, one by one, for a fee, but you have to provide the raw materials he needs, which in this case were epsilon and gamma energies, herb trunks, and green herb leaves. And since most of the items needed four of one of these, with roughly a 50/50 chance of the Master actually succeeding, well, SirDarth used quite a few ToolAids. You get 27 green herb leaves from a knife that has been "boosted" with a ToolAid - you get 43 herb trunks that way. Luckily I had some spare ToolAids in stock, and even a couple of spare knight-type knives. And after all that was accomplished, Enchantrella went to her guild hall to concentrate. There is a chance that the item-making will fail, destroying all the raw materials...but luckily things went well, and the skirt was created. It was passed across to Keerella, who used about six Heaven Stones and three lucky smelts to get it to the required +6, ready to wear soon. It would be nice if I managed to buy the boots and circlet, manufacturing both of them myself would be quite time-consuming.

One source of the spare ToolAids was a "Pharaoh's Treasure" hunt held at six, uk time. Though I'm not much good at navigating to a specific location by its coordinates, SirDarth did manage to ride across to the position, close to the Great Horn Beasts' lake, that was announced, in time to pick up a few items, such as ToolAids, an item drop booster, and even a skill point booster, though the earliest people there had of course grabbed all the Heaven Stones.

Itura was busy helping someone to level on the sphinx-type guards at the non-treasure "Pharaoh" locations, and then went off to watch some television (Stargate SG1 I think), so it was a chance for Darth and Enchantrella to team up once again on the Treants. I think Darth added about 17 skill points - we continued until Enchantrella went up to level 26. It looks as if her now being the same level as the Treants does lower the skill exp gain they each get significantly now, so probably Enchie will have to solo them in future - or the team will move on to Merac. Some experimentation is needed there. Pilferers would be a suitable level, but they might well attack Enchantrella, so perhaps it would be better to let Darth gain a level or so, and then for teaming up concentrate on Berserkers.

Enchantrella had gained enough skill points for level 4 of Casting Guard (increased defence) and level 1 of Amplification (increased maximum hit points), so is at last starting to get some passive skills. She would have gone for Mage Armor (increased rate of mana regeneration), but to be allowed to start on that skill, she needs level 1 of Transformation (converts HP into MP) first, which of course needs a few more points.

I'm afraid I didn't react quickly enough when I saw a player called "firehulk" run across towards the hill followed by an Elder Drake; SirDarth continued to fight his group of Treants before moving over to investigate. I'm not sure what had happened, but I did kill the Elder Drake as it edged its way back... and on the edge of the hill I saw the corpse of a player called ToeKnee1, who I suppose had been either just afk there or doing some afk pet training. Firehulk himself was just sitting down a little further along. So had he deliberately lured the Elder Drake there to kill the pet-leveller, and probably his pet too? As it wasn't a PvP server, there was nothing more I could do.

So it was time to log out, after a brief chat with Zedan.  Keerella had gone up 14% in that afternoon session, and added a rather useful 80 skill points, plus 1098 pet points.  So tomorrow I should get enough skill points for that next level of Secret Study, and hopefully reach level 51, and be able to wear the new skirt and shirt...the Akane Giants are level 53, so will remain good to farm on for a while yet.

This & That - July 10th
There was another "Midnight Madness" raffle last night, but maybe having them during the week isn't too good an idea, as it only just managed to reach tier one.  So, no hour of double skill exp, or even 45 minutes of double experience - just 30 minutes of double pet experience, which started about a quarter of an hour after the winner was declared, at half past ten UK time.  Well, any bonus is better than nothing, so Enchantrella went out to the Treants; I even managed to set up my own solo party.  Enchie's drake levelled up to level 23, and some useful skill points were earned too, enough to get level one of Mage Armor, for speedier mana regeneration - though to qualify for that skill I had first to learn level one of Transformation, and to qualify for that skill I needed level one of Sloth!  But I still had enough points left for level three of Secret Study, to enhance Enchantrella's magic attack.  It was a nice chatty solo party, anyway - as it happened, Zeratus joined it shortly before I logged out.

I was a bit late logging back on after lunch, but the afternoon session did at least get Keerella up by 6% or so, and added 36 skill points - so I was able to get that sixth level of Secret Study when I returned to Randol from the Akane Giants.  I'd been soloing there, with the moral support of MistressDomino - Itura did log in while I was there, but went to join Escadalia instead of me, since as she's three or four levels ahead Esca is a bit faster in the Giant-killing, and probably has slightly more need of a healer along.  I've now got all my passive skills maxxed until level 60; Itura suggests that I ought to save up 200 skill points for the next level of Transformation next, the skill that converts health into mana, before I start on Freeze Arrow.

After the food break I went back to the Akane Giants - it was perhaps just as well that Itura was still elsewhere, as there were already two healers busy there, so with three people the place was almost full.  I just slogged away, using a few healing potions - it was nice to only have to pick up my own loot, and things moved along pretty quickly. I managed to level up, and Keerella is now level 51 - I even remembered to bring three bloodseal gems with me, since the skirt was newly made!  I changed to the level 56 skirt and shirt, which do I think look better than the previous set, and stayed long enough to be able to use the three bloodseals, and a little longer - but then I got a disconnection.  In all, Kee went up 13% today in experience, with 1239 pet points and 85 new skill points.

After I got the connection sorted out, I did a little bit of moving items around - Enchantrella is now wearing her new shirt and skirt too, from the aptly-named "Vanishing" set.  But then I decided that, as my rogue Karella was only level 23, she could go out to the Treants with SirDarth for an hour or so.  The skill exp they got was thus back to the levels Darth and Enchantrella used to get, though it went down a little when Karella reached level 24.  They got 15 skill points each; Karella got some useful experience too, though Darth is "frozen" on that front.  

Just as I was about to finish there, the GMs announced a special Quiz, at 9:45pm UK time, which was handy.  Unfortunately, with less people there, since it hadn't been announced more than ten minutes in advance, there weren't very many people in the quiz room, and there was perhaps a shortage of experts.  SirDarth soon found himself respawning in the market square, along with the most of the other people - rushing back in worked okay, and I was able to stay long enough to get the first reward, the 10 ToolAids, but the next time the majority of us got expelled, they'd closed down re-entry.  Still, nice to end the day with an unexpected 10 free ToolAids...

A Varied Day - July 11th

After the usual minor messings-about, like a fairly short stint with FoxHunter, who has finally acquired her own pony to help pick up the loot, and a pretty swift crash when Karella attempted to harvest some herbs over lunchtime, the first part of the afternoon was spent with Itura and the Akane Giants - Itura was saying that it's not the extra levels that make the rogue Escadalia a faster fighter, she just, well, fights faster.  Me, I like to keep the place tidy, and that includes making sure all the junk is picked up.  By mid afternoon though, the talk had turned to faster skill exp farming - and Zeratus and Galandorius, as well as Itura, were saying how good the revised, post-patch Prokion Temple in Dratan desert is, and how one could easily make 600 skill points in an hour there.  So, once I'd made sure that I wasn't leaving Itura in the lurch, as she doesn't have a horse to supply the necessary horse buffs at the moment, Keerella beamed out.  Itura logged out of the game, taking the opportunity to do some revision.

SirDarth beamed in, and rode out towards Prokion Temple. Actually, the first route I took I just couldn't get through, it was as if there were invisible walls in the way, which one sometimes gets on cliffs but not usually on gentle slopes, but the second time I got there relatively easily, and added the location to Darth's memorising scroll.  You can't take or take out a horse in there, but my faithful drake was up for the task, and in we went - Gal and Zer (or his level 25 rogue, Ruzs) invited me into their party, but it was a solo party, so we had to try to keep off each other's compass.  Luckily going upstairs seemed to confuse the compass map, I could look down from the landing and see one of them, but we were suitably separate.

Darth had got the quest to collect ten Orc Ornaments back in town, and for that he needed the level 29 Orc Sergeants - who seem to drop them at a rate of about one per hour, if you are lucky.  Since the new Dratan, the Orcs have been made "elite" in all but name, they have the intricate golden rectangle around their names like elite and raid bosses, and this is reflected in their abilities, they hit hard and they take a while to kill, but for a level 30 character in a solo party they give a massive 4950 skill exp.  What's more, the green level 27 Orc Axemen give 3850, the level 25 Orc Fighters give 2750, and even the blue level 23 Orc Soldiers give 1650.  If it wasn't for the time it takes to kill them, they'd be it is, they are still pretty good, but would really come into their own if you used skill experience boosters, preferably the hour-long general types and the one-kill quadruple ones as well, though those go for at least 200,000 on the open market, which seems a lot just to save three or four minutes.

I took a tea break, and went back to them; it was time for the TeaTime "happy hour" event, which judging by the announced APAC event earlier in the day, was supposed to be double pet experience...not ideal, but as the Orcs provided non-stop slogging, it would kind of work as a useful boost for Darth's drake.  Unfortunately, the dozy GMs overslept, and there was no sign of an event boost of any kind.  Still, Darth slogged on, and was on a massive 101 skill points for the day when the front door bell rang and, as the Temple is no place to leave an unattended character, I had to log out.

Annoyingly, it was just some door-to-door person with a clipboard who was already walking back to the road - and SirDarth was 2 skill points short of his target still!  So he went out to Juno's rather less challenging temple, and killed some Treants outside it for a while to bring up the magic 550, then headed back to town, was promoted to Guild Master by Kaerella, took 2,500,000 gold out of storage, and spoke to the Royal Guard Captain about upgrading Norcaine guild...only to discover that 18,000 guild points are needed as well as the cash and the skill points, and we only have around 8000 at the moment.  So, there will be a short delay before we can upgrade, sigh.  Galandorius has joined the people who are "frozen" while they donate experience as guild points (and add to their skill points), though, and he's doing well, over 800 points already - more than SirDarth, since he is using boosters.

For a change Enchantrella and my archer/healer Barbarienne, both members of Crafters of Iris guild, teamed up against the Treants next - I wanted to check how well Enchantrella would do as a party leader.  The loot was okay, and Barbarienne levelled up to level 21...the skill exp was okay too, as they had finally started the TeaTime event, about two and a half hours late, and they made it double skill exp, which was a pleasant surprise.

Well, after a while it seemed like a good idea for Keerella to have a share of the double skill extravaganza, and so it was off to the Akane Giants again.  It was a shame that Itura was still offline and missed the event, but like the rest of us she assumed it was just double pet points, which is rather missable.  In all today Kee got almost 11% experience, and, thanks to the delayed TeaTime, 96 skill points, so the 200 needed for the next level of Transformation are getting closer.  Tomorrow the 24 hours of double general experience, skill exp, and pet points will begin, though not, according to the website, until around 7:30 in the evening UK time, so it will be a busy two or three hours, and then a further, longer grind tomorrow, until the evening.  Most of that grinding will be for Kee, so I'd better fit in some more varied adventures before the time begins...

Bonus Time - July 12th

The Last Chaos website mentioned another "Midnight Madness" raffle last night, so I logged on early, to see what was happening.  I did get the announcement that there was a winner, but I didn't manage to find out what tier the raffle had reached, which was the important bit - tier one would give us 30 minutes of 50% extra skill exp, while tiers two and three would bring 45 minutes or a full hour of double skill exp.  It may have had something to do with having to log out a couple of times and restart my modem before I could get a reliable connection to the game, but I never did see any announcement that the bonus time was starting, but when FoxHunter ran out of town and attacked a couple of Dire Wolves, well, they don't usually give 2500 skill exp, so I was able to announce on the guild channel that double skill exp had started, for either 45 or 60 minutes, and send Keerella out to the Akane Giants.

Until the end, things went pretty well.  Before very long Sheele, our level 53 rogue, joined me, and we kept busy, though Sheele got into a bit of trouble at one stage, when health potions for some reason stopped working, so that her health got so low she briefly had to return to town.  The potions didn't work for me either, though I was less reliant on them and was able to keep fighting, until after a few minutes the potion I had triggered finally began to work.   Soon after that Itura logged on.  I didn't greatly encourage her to come out as by then for all I knew we might be down to the last five minutes of the double skill exp, but she risked it.  And the bonus went on and on!  Eventually, Itura announced that she'd be logging off for lunch at 12:50 UK time, and I decided that was late enough for me too.  Itura logged off when we reached that time - and I attempted to follow suit, but the game crashed on me - send error report?  It was only after lunch when I logged back in that I discovered that, while as far as I was concerned I'd crashed out, from the game's point of view I and my pet drake had just stood there, being attacked. 

Normally one would expect one's remaining team-mate to try and protect someone in that state, but apparently Sheele was watching tv as well, and didn't notice my healthbar getting perilously low - or my pet drake being killed.  Getting the Animal Trainer to unseal a level 39 drake costs 404,586 gold, I can report.  It's annoying that you spend all that money, and don't even get the pet back with a full health bar.  I don't think that Keerella herself died, though without a note of what her experience was just before the log-out it is difficult to be sure, and Sheele was a little vague on the subject.  Both she and Itura seemed to find it all rather amusing, in fact...  Still, all that double skill exp meant that I ended up 114 skill points ahead on the session, as well as up 6% on the general experience front.  And 757 pet points.  I was thus able, when I logged back in, to get the sixth level of Transformation, which means that the only current skill I don't have maxxed is Freeze Arrow.  So that's the one to work on for a little bit, until I'm getting close to the level 53 skill, level six of Flame Field, which costs 250 skill points.  All these new extra levels they've added to the game are good, in that they make our characters more powerful, but it certainly adds a lot more skill point farming.

SirDarth made an attempt to go out to the Prokion Temple, but while he got to Dratan safely, the game crashed on the attempt to actually enter the Temple - since the afternoon was anyway a bit late starting, it didn't seem worth trying again.  I had a very brief go on Sammotina's specialist sorcerer, who has somehow got himself a red name and -99% experience; a few Bandits and Berserkers bit the dust, but there weren't any good drops, and as his armour isn't up to his level, and the only boots he has are "sealed", he took damage rather easily.  So, as the double skill experience still hadn't been switched off, it was Enchantrella's turn to benefit, in a solo party (with FoxHunter back in Randol) - by the time of my food log-out, she was almost halfway through level 26, with some useful skill points to spend on the most useful passive mage skills - Secret Study level 4, 24 points (increases magical attack power), Amplification levels 2 & 3, 6 + 10 points (increases maximum hit points), and Mage Armor levels 2 & 3, 10 + 17 points (increases the speed of mana regeneration).  It's good to be able to give her a boost, though it won't be too long before she has to start saving up for the all-important level 30 skill, which has to be taken to level 5 before she'll be able to choose her career path.

For some reason my main downstairs computer decided that it couldn't contact the internet - at least as far as Internet Explorer and Firefox were concerned.  Which was a bit strange, as Last Chaos continued to work.  A little bit inconvenient, but the upstairs, older computer continued to be in full touch.

Anyway, after food SirDarth went out again to Dratan, and got into Prokion Temple on the second attempt.  The double skill exp was still continuing, so every Orc Sergeant killed was very nearly an entire skill point!  Along with a couple of other Norcainers, Darkstorm44 and Galandorius, but not partied with them, he slogged away for half an hour past the announced start of the "double everything" 24 hours, pausing only to kick Itura from Norcaine - she and Sheele wanted to try a fight in the arena, and you can't fight there if you are in the same guild.  Sheele won the fight, apparently - I couldn't re-recruit Itu immediately, as I'd have had to return to Randol for that, because it has to be done face to face, and with the risks of crashing on both the trip back to Dratan and the trip into the Temple, well, it would have been silly.  When Darth did leave at eight UK time, he took a Recall to Sheele at the Akane Giants so that it could be done, only to find that Itura had decided to go into Damor's guild, Dominion, at least for a while.  Darkstorm44 donated his experience for a couple of hours, but decided he wanted to level up - he's level 34 now, which means he won't get quite as much skill exp if he returns to Prokion Temple, unlike level 30 knights Galandorius and SirDarth, who remain "frozen".  The guild points are going up, slowly but surely.

From eight Kee went out for two hours to Sheele, Itura, and the Akane Giants; there was some gentle chiding between them, and some talk about who is the rightful owner of a Stone of Shadow accessory, but I don't know the full details.  Kee ended the day up a total of 20%, half as much as Itu but over fewer hours, and up 14 skill points - after spending 200 on Transformation, that is!  1773 pet points, too.  The cash in her inventory was slightly down, due to that pet unsealing, but a couple of Heaven Stones had been acquired.  And SirDarth went up 178 skill points, which will give him the first few levels of the statutory level 30 knight skill...

Upgrade Time - July 13th

The double experience, skill exp and pet points went on until I logged out at just before ten in the evening, UK time, so plenty of progress was made.  The day started for me with a quick trip with Enchantrella out to the Treants, just to check that my connection to the game was reliable - a disconnection among the Akane Giants could be fatal.  Once I was happy that I wasn't about to lag out, it was time for Keerella, and the Akanes, once more - I was teamed with Itura until lunchtime, though the end of the session was slightly strange, I must have missed some conversation, as I think she went off to another member of the "solo party", and despite being told that she'd headed southwest, I couldn't see her on the map at all.  But hey, it was time to log out for food, as previously agreed, so it didn't really matter to me.

Itura told me about the Stone of Shadow mentioned yesterday - she and Sheele were just fooling around, they got it as a drop from one of the raid bosses, having previously agreed to share any good stuff, and are both attempting to get it sold at a good price, so it doesn't actually matter who has it in their inventory - unless they happen to want to show off. 

After lunch Itura was offline, missing out on the event, but Kee slogged away solo out there in the Dratan desert; the giants don't do her a lot of harm, thanks to her evasion, so only the occasional healing potion was needed.  By the time of my tea break, I'd gone up a very healthy 26%, 2434 pet points, and a rather useful 93 skill points - giving me enough (216) for the fifth level of Freeze Arrow, so Kee is now, finally, fully maxxed on all available active and passive skills.  Until new stuff becomes available at level 53, anyway.

So after food it seemed like a good idea, in Itura's absence, to get SirDarth back in to Prokion Temple, something I managed on my second attempt, after crashing out the first time.  The Orc Sergeants were as hospitable as ever, and the dropped Orc Ornaments as rare - I think it was an hour before one dropped for me, though a second dropped  soon after.  Galandorius kindly passed over his spares, so I'll hold on to those, heck Enchantrella may get that quest before too long...  I was teamed up with Kee, who took her turn at just standing around in Randol.  Her staff with its cover does look a bit grotesque, with a skull at its top, and what could be a slightly compressed ribcage, plus the eerie glow...for a while Galandorius had set himself up in merchant mode next to her, with his sign saying something along the lines of "Yes, she did have to kill someone for that staff -> "  That will do no good at all for Kee's sweet, innocent reputation.  Or is that Kae's?  Kee got promoted temporarily to Guild Adviser, so that without Darth leaving town a new member, a friend of Gal's, and Darkstorm44's, could be recruited - leaving Darth fighting in the Temple I just had to dash upstairs to the other computer and click the "accept" option.

I did have to leave the Temple when Itura asked me if I could get back to Dratan town - and when I arrived, Itura was there on her horse, without the "Dominion" guild name over her head.  Unfortunately she didn't respond to my presence or the chat window - another disconnection, sigh, but when she did get back, I was able to re-recruit her to Norcaine - we had certainly missed her in the chat channel!  She then changed to Damor, and got recruited again, temporarily, to very kindly boost our guild points in her usual massive fashion.

Gal and Dark had, between them, got Recall, so were able to get me back into Prokion Temple easily - I don't know why that method of getting in should be less crashy than using the teleporter, but it is.  I joined a solo party, and continued the slog.  Unfortunately (lol), after a little while, when I was busy typing a comment in on the guild channel, I suddenly found myself in Dratan, by the Giant Larvae.  The party leader, Ladygem, had used recall to get a friend to her, but as I'd been typing, the "accept" window had automatically been activated when I hit "enter" (I assume).  I wish people would give longer notice of such recalls!  I quickly got on my horse and used "pet return to village", they are a bit high-level for me, and Gal and Dark kindly used Recall on me again.  There wasn't a different Solo Party available to join, so my gains for the final half hour were a bit lower than they would otherwise have been.  I "unfroze" Darth, so that he would gain experience for a little while at least, and levelled up to level 31, so tomorrow he can choose his Templar profession.  A Templar Knight is very much a team type, with some whole-party buffs and the ability to ameliorate the main tank's damage by taking a share himself, so if the Last Chaos people are serious about encouraging party play, such types ought to be increasingly useful.  Royal Knights are more immediately and directly effective, true, but Norcaine is pretty well off for them already.

Thanks to Damor's labours in Egeha against high-level monsters, we had by then accumulated over 18,000 guild points, so I was able to visit the Royal Guard Captain in Randol, and upgrade Norcaine to level 7, using 2,500,000 gold and the 550 skill points SirDarth had accumulated, as well as the 18,000 guild points.  The next step is to expand the guild size to 40 members - at the time I logged out Damor hadn't quite got the 5000 guild points that needs (and another 300,000 gold out of my pocket), but hopefully we'll be able to finish that tomorrow.  It is very kind of Damor to help us like this, it would take quite a while otherwise, though Galandorius in particular has been donating useful quantities of experience recently too, as indeed has SirDarth.  Thanks, my friend!

Darth, after slogging away in the Temple, has, even after parting with that 550 skill points, and the previous 500 of course that got Norcaine to level 6, still got 428 skill points to play with, so while there are some active skills he has avoided, and some passive skills that aren't yet maxxed, he ought still to be a viable character.  With a knight's high defence and good health regeneration, he is fun to play - though things change when knights come up against magic-wielding foes, I'm warned.  Anyway, Kee is now maxxed out, Norcaine is upgraded, Darth has levelled up and is ready to take his new profession - and his drake has levelled up too.  A most productive day...

Temple Work - July 14th

Enchantrella went out briefly to check the connection, again - the first time, she got a disconnection fairly soon after arriving near Velpist Temple, but after restarting the modem, things settled down, and she was able to do a slightly longer session - enough to let her get the first level of Anti-Magic (8 skill points), which was needed before she could get the first level of Fast Spell Casting (also 8), which speeds up skill regeneration.

As Damor was busy with her studies for most of the day, it was a good chance for SirDarth to, after getting his new profession of Temple Knight sorted out, head for Prokion Temple - and for a nice change he got in there first time, without crashing. I wonder if it helps not to pre-buff oneself? At the end of the entrance hall, one turns right, and follows the corridor through a small circular room, and into a bigger room with the stairs up to the first floor (or second floor, if you're American). It's easy enough to run it, particularly without one's pet off, the various low-grade orcs and so on don't follow far, and don't attempt to climb the stairs. And on the gallery around the open view down to the ground level, there are a good number of Orc Sergeants, so Darth settled in for a nice long slog.

When Damor did come on, she had decided she wanted to try a spirit-using sorcerer. As she had been a good friend of Elvastar's, helping him to level up before she helped me, I let her have a go with him, but with the guild chat, and explaining what was going on, and to the newer members what a great person  Elvastar was, and our guild's founder, I must say I found it all a bit overwhelming, and I just couldn't bring myself to volunteer to go out as Kae and join him at the Giant Larvae. I do so wish we had some word from (the real) him...

While I've played the other characters on Elva's account, to keep the account active, I've never been able to actually bring myself to play Elvastar himself; from her comments, I don't think Damor was over-impressed with the skill set-up, but of course he'd donated a lot of his skill points to the guild, to get Norcaine up through the first five levels - before we were able to "freeze" experience so that one could slog away at skill exp as long as one wanted. The speed with which a spirit-using sorcerer went through mana surprised Damor, and she didn't play him for a very long time, using some green herb leaves but putting a generous chunk of cash into his inventory. It did inspire her to create her own new sorcerer, and he was already up to level ten by the end of the evening, so the way Damor throws herself into a project, SpirisSorc will probably soon be up to Itura's level, if not Damor's...and has been enrolled as a member of Norcaine.

Damor did get us the rest of the remaining 5000 guild points we needed, and Darth, in his current capacity of Guild Master, gave us the new level of the "expand guild" skill, so Norcaine isn't just level 7 now, we can have up to 40 members. That's another little chunk of gold from my inventory, but it is all in a good cause. A post on the official LC forums is the next step, for a bit more recruiting.  Generally we seem to have been very lucky with the new people we have attracted so far, though there is at least one who doesn't seem to be playing much.

Well, SirDarth's grand slog in Prokion Temple took up most of the afternoon and evening - and boosted him up 60% in experience towards level 32, when new Temple Knight skills will become available. Before setting out he'd spent 77 points on the first four levels of Improved Resist and 129 points on the fifth level of Shield Strike - but his labours today netted him a much-needed further 172 skill points. Galandorius had been fighting close by again, and I had to keep an eye on him a couple of times when he got called away, though he went right up by the wall and was ignored by the orcs. At the moment, then, Darth has 394 unused skill points, though they could easily be spent on already-available skills that he hasn't maxxed out. But hey, there are only so many slots on one's skill bar for attacks! With any luck when he reaches level 32 he'll have over 500 to spend. Wall of Belief, increasing defence, will take 227 of them, I see, while Protection ("increases the physical defence of your party members") and Damage Link ("takes a proportion of the damage the linked player is suffering and re-directs it to you") each take 262 skill points to max out, so some further skill point farming will be needed.  Protection is particularly useful on mages and healers, since they don't have great amounts of health.  It will be interesting, in a few days, to actually get Darth into a party and use such skills - preferably once he has gone up a further level and can use his shiny next sword!

Orcs and Wolves - July 15th
It was FoxHunter's turn to go out relatively early, and make sure the connection was still in prime condition; as MistressDomino had been selling goods overnight, it was still working fine.  Selling Item Drop Boosters, Tool Aids, Moonstones, Heaven Stones, and even a spare mage "Uncle Sam" ringmaster-style top hat, she took in about eight million, which is always useful. 
FoxHunter was two-thirds of the way through level four; as her experience gain is "frozen", she only gets 1 experience per kill, so it takes a while.  That level took 1161 experience to get through, and she managed to finish it before lunch, as she was already about two-thirds of the way there.  She even got a couple of Heaven Stones as drops, which is useful. Level five will last 2787 kills, which should bring in a fair bit of skill exp.  After the level 4 Dire Wolves, it's time to move on to the level 6 Berserk Wolves - there aren't any level 5 monsters, or indeed any level 7 ones, the next step will be the level 8 Jaguars.  The nearby Sasquatches are level 12, but there are plenty of Wandering Zombies in Velpist Temple at level 10, though they are aggressive pet-eating types.  Anyway, having reached level 5 she has maxxed out the passive skill that becomes available then, Casting Guard, using 97 skill points.  The level 5 general skill, Energy Field, is useful only in the Personal Dungeons, so no need to get more than the one level of that, which was needed before the passive skill was unlocked.  And FoxHunter is able to wear level 10 gloves now.  So, she is well equipped to continue her sp-hunting.
After some herb farming, it was time for SirDarth to head back to Prokion Temple, to take on the Orc Sergeants again, and by food time he had added 27% experience, and 80 skill points, plus two or three more Orc Ornaments and a few Stars and Stripes.  And after food, Darth headed back there again - he reached 99.66% experience, just short of level 32 and the new skills, when I "froze" his experience gain again, so that some more skill points could be gathered before my extra level cuts down the skill exp the Orc Sergeants give.  That session added a further 40 skill points before the freeze, and 17 more after it, so it all adds to what is in the kitty.  Darth's drake is two levels ahead of him now at level 33, so gets through the stones a bit quicker than he should, but that's what comes of having these "freezes", especially fighting foes like the Treants and the Orc Sergeants, both of which seem pretty good for pet levelling.  Except for the orcs' habit of attacking pets, that is, one has to keep a very close eye on pet health, and be ready to unequip one's pet swiftly when needed, so that the attack is redirected to its owner.  As a knight, Darth never has to use helaing potions there now, it will be a bit different if Enchantrella gets to visit it in a level or two's time.

I was off for the later part of the evening, so there isn't much more to report.  Itura and Galandorius have both started new sorcerers now, and seem to be finding them pretty enjoyable to level up at the early levels.  Well, I say "early levels", but of course Itura's sorc has levelled up astonishingly quickly, most recently I think in Velpist Temple, and will probably be going on to Prokion Temple tomorrow or the day after.

From Treants to Orcs... - July 16th

FoxHunter went out to test the connection and attack dozens of innocent Berserk Wolves - she didn't get any Heaven Stones today, but one or two of the better "Hands". She is about a quarter of the way through level 5 now, but that is in part due to an unavoidable quest reward. Or there may be a way to avoid it, but it seems rude to refuse such a thing, after Lorraine has been so helpful. This new Last Chaos week, after the servers were down for their usual maintenance last night, is unusual in that there are no themed special drops - not stars and stripes, no flowers or compost boxes or other little extras, it's a while since things were so plain. I also noticed that the Item Mall was unchanged, its special offers were the same as last week - but when I logged out, and logged back in again a little later, only then did I get the small new patch downloaded, updating the Item Mall. And I wasn't the only one that happened to. The theme this week in the Mall is pets, with special offers on pet experience pills and potions, plus the pet colours and nametags.

Enchantrella has had the most action today, though. I may have got the wrong idea, but I thought SpirisSorc was wanting to team up with her in a day or two for Prokion Temple, so getting her the rest of the way to level 27 seemed a good idea, which was duly managed thanks to the Treants by Velpist Temple. Actually, Itura mentioned later today that, now that he has safely reached level 20, SpirisSorc probably won't be active again, at least for a while. As he won't be playing, she asked that he be kicked from Norcaine - and instead turned up as a brand-new mage, Zenderfly, to take his place.

Enchantrella was able to put on the last parts of the handed-down Vanishing armour set now, the Tiara and Long Shoes, so that boosts her protection a bit. Just as well, as later in the day I sent her off to get Prokion Temple onto her Scroll of Memorizing, and while she was there she went in and fought some of the ground floor orcs. Once she'd been solo party teamed with SirDarth back in Randol, the level 17 Ghouls gave only 336 experience and 1 skill exp, but the level 19 Mummies, the first creatures there to have the ornate boss-type frame to their name, gave 573 experience and 1100 skill experience, the level 23 Orc Soldiers gave 6375 experience and 3300 skill exp, and the level 25 Orc Fighters gave 10781 experience and 4400 skill exp - so I can guess how much skill exp the Orc Sergeants would have given if I'd been up for fighting them. Even a mob of four or more soldiers didn't really do Enchantrella much damage, using a small HP recovery potion was all it took to keep her healthy, even with her drake tucked safely out of harm's way.

I didn't stay there all that long, but it was long enough to add another 10% experience or so, and get her skill points up by 17; I'd spent the ones she'd earned from the Treants on level 5 of Casting Guard (increased defence, 65 skill points), but now I was able to add the first two levels of Scud (a buff giving increased attack speed for 5 minutes, 7 + 9 skill points) as well. Among the minor drops from the Temple were 2 Dark Orbs - she had quests from Dratan City that needed 3 of those, plus 5 Cracked Axes and 10 Soft Sand, so SirDarth was able to provide the rest of the items, and the three quest rewards boosted her experience by another 17%, as well as adding some gold and a completely useless pair of Night Long Shoes +2, which would have been nice if Enchie was level 17 - but she had to be rather higher than that to qualify for the quest! The only other current quest calls for slaughtering Butchers until one gets 10 Orders of Beradben, but those aren't regular drops, they are items that go into the "quest" section of one's inventory, so can't be exchanged or traded.

There is a special Aeria Points offer in the Last Chaos forums at the moment, but unfortunately when I went to investigate I couldn't connect to the relevant database - when I tried to log in, I got a page saying that my browser wasn't recognised, and I should try Internet Explorer or Firefox. I got this page whether I used, er, Internet Explorer, or Firefox...a little later the "forums" tab got a more believable "under maintenance" response, which was a step in the right direction...and finally, last thing, I find that if one buys $50's worth of aeria points on Friday or Saturday, one qualifies for a free bonus package of assorted stuff too. Hmm, looks promising...the bonus items aren't generally things that I would normally buy, but they might be worth trying.

I seemed to spend a fair part of the evening just working on the blog, or browsing shops, or chatting, but I did manage to fit in half an hour for Keerella out with the Akane Giants - they tried not to show it, but I could tell they were glad to see her!  It only added about 2.3% experience, and 18 skill points, plus 304 pet points, but it all helps, right?