Kaerella's Blog - stardate December 2008 (2)
Unbloggishly, here we read from the top down - so the month continues here at the top!
Power Hour Lite - December 16th

The main good news today was that the email key for the "December Big Spender Event" came through, so that Karella now has 350 each of the skill point and experience boosters and the item drop boosters in her inventory, plus 20 each of the mana and health stealers and the brand-new "Big Special Potion-Crt", which may or may not be better than the Large Crit Potions - "increasing critical 200 for one hour", they say, though I must say the old Large variety seemed to make most of Barbarienne's arrows do Critical damage on the orcs today.

While MistressDomina did some more selling back in town, Barbarienne started the afternoon with her usual "power hour" in Prokion Temple, but with two differences - no skill point boosters were used (so, thanks to a Hand of the Guard, she ended up with one more than she started with), and, as her experience was unfrozen, she went up in both skill exp and regular experience.

Without the "times four" multiplier from the skill point boosters, the hour yielded 791 skill points - not quite a quarter of yesterday's 3501 as, when I levelled up to 28, while the level 29 Orc Sergeants started to give 18287 skill experience instead of 17325, the level 27 Orc Axemen went down to 17325 instead of 19250.   At level 29 tomorrow, the Orc Sergeants will go up to 19250, but the Orc Axemen will fall further, to 15400 each - still one-and-a-half skill points each, with the 3.5 times boost, but not as useful as they used to be.

When the hour with the platinum super skill pill, the non-super one, the large crit potion, and the health stealer ended, I had gone up 113.06% in experience; I continued on without any boost for a while after that, to reach level 29, at which point the tally had reached 139.81% experience and 850 skill points.

After the food break, it was Kaerella's turn to use a pssp, which meant a trip to the Beast Flyers on level three of Maargadum Jail of course. It also meant that MistressDomina could log off, and SirDarth could take the level 31 white horse to the Gnoll Lancers in Merac - as he's on the same account as Barbarienne, he'd not been able to play earlier. 

Kae was about halfway through the pssp's hour when a level 46 rogue, Tomboy101, turned up, wanting to party; I explained that I was halfway through a pssp and she left, but she returned about five minutes before the pssp ended, with a level 38 archer she wanted to level up, Zotteke, along.  They did fight a few Flyers, but not enough to slow me down much - I was going to leave once the pill ended, as generally there isn't room for too many people there, but was persuaded to party up instead. 

I couldn't keep Zotteke alive, though, I'm sure she died at least three times, and eventually we had to just have her standing there, not aggravating the locals - but getting experience and skill exp, and also levelling up her new nameless Ichi pet.  Tomboy101 had to leave eventually, something about taking a test at the Army Recruiting Office - and a bit later Zotteke vanished too.  So, at some stages I was getting less than the optimum amount of skill exp, but I did manage to add 146 skill points in all, as well as 2645 pet points, and a couple of Heaven Stones.

DarkPulse101 was busy grinding in the Tomb, but did mention that the email for the "December Big Spender Event" had arrived for her too; Astarael hasn't had hers yet though, so is starting to get slightly worried.  It was about 9:20 when Caires got in touch about a power-levelling, which is rather too late for me to start such a thing.  I noticed earlier that he was in Egeha, and had reached level 65, which is good, it looks as if he took my advice and did some Bogle bashing.  Tomorrow the Item Mall will be replenished, so he'll be able to buy a new one-hour recall card or two.

SirDarth just managed to get his white horse to level 32 before logging off for the night, so that's useful progress...and it automatically learnt the "horse crying" social skill.  Every pet level takes longer than the one before, so it will take a while to get this horse up to 37, but it's worth it for the better horse buffs.  Generally, a level 37 horse is worth twice as much as a level 31 one, which seems about right.

There was another "buy one get one free" offer on the Super Upgrader Package, open from about 9:05pm, Uk time, to 9:30 - while in theory it is tempting, the buyer does have to stay online, on the third subserver of their group (so, handily, Cariae-3 for us) for up to four hours before a Guild Master can be guaranteed to teleport to them and drop the second package in front of them.  Which, as DarkPulse101 agreed, does make the whole thing a bit impractical.  Still, it's the thought that counts.

Will the overnight downtime and patch bring in the Christmas special add-ons, which last year included a phoney-looking "falling snow" effect in Randol that made the whole place rather crashier than usual?  Tomorrow we will find out what they have got in store for us.

Orcs Turn Green - December 17th

SirDarth did some useful pet training in the morning, though as the Gnoll Lancers tended not to last more than ten minutes there were a few rest periods.  Meanwhile, MistressDomina was selling some more of the "November Rain" Draw Boxes and Chaos Balls, and even a few of the Item Drop Boosters from the "Big Spender" package, so her supply of gold is moving up usefully.

I had to go out after lunch to mail a large parcel at the local post office, which took a while, but when I did get back to the computer, Barbarienne was able to head out to Prokion Temple on Cariae-3 for her "power hour lite", and had no interruptions at all.  As MistressDomina was in Cariae-1, I had to join somebody's solo party, but despite having level 28 and 29 people in the party, nobody else was in sight on my map compass, luckily.

The hour's skill point gain, using the pssp and psp, plus health stealer and one of the new crit potions, was 764 - less than yesterday's 791, as expected, since at the new level the Orc Axemen were giving significantly less skill exp each.  The experience gain in the hour was 85.44%, so I was at level 29 throughout; I continued afterwards until it was time for my food break, and got up to level 30, making a total experience gain for the day of 104.16%, and 818 skill points, though spending 228 sp to learn the new skill Double Stingshot meant I ended the day only 590 up.

Reaching level 30 means that the level 27 Orc Axemen are now green-named, and instead of 4400 skill exp, now give 3850.  The level 29 Orc Sergeants are still white-named, though instead of the maximum 5500 skill exp they now give 4950.  That's still a lot more than any monsters I'm likely to encounter over the next few weeks, of course, so a day or two more of this style of advancement seems a good idea. 

When Barbarienne is level 31 she can choose to become an archer, rather than a cleric like Kaerella, and then at level 32 start getting suitable archer-type new skills.  I see that the Wet Paint Last Chaos Wiki recommends allocating 12 stat points to Intelligence at level 31, for the level 32 skill Rapid Arrow, and the rest to Dexterity, until that reaches the 35 needed for the level 38 skill Slow Shot.  Then Intelligence needs to be boosted to 17 for the other level 38 skill, Arrow of Silence.  After that, Constitution needs to be boosted to 12 for the level 32 skill Mind Training, and to 17 for the level 38 skill Survival Training.  Once those are acquired, it's Dexterity all the way...

After the food break, Kaerella went off to the Beast Flyers again, while SirDarth headed for the Gnoll Lancers.  Kaerella used a pair of pssps, and made 200 skill points in all, plus 2328 pet points - it could have been slightly more if a mage called LadyIcess hadn't taken up residence at one end during the first pssp, but when she returned just after I'd started the second, and I said "darn, I just started a new pssp", she kindly left me to it, I think using one of the upstairs rooms instead, at least for a while.

Zenderfly has worked out some cunning new scheme to make the Sphinx Commanders give even more experience, 350 million experience per kill apparently, and that involved creating two new level one healers, FrostEXP and frexp2pwredbyzen, having SirDarth recruit them and freeze their experience (so he had to break off from the training to go back into Merac village, as it would have been quite a long run to get to him), and then I assume Recall was used to get them down to the Grave Room in the Tomb of Theos, partied with Zenderfly.  Even with them added, and various sp-hunters at level 17, I see Norcaine's average member level is 31 at present - and we have 204,880 guild points in the bank.

Talking of Recall, our fuzzy-minded Game Masters forgot to replenish the supply of the Recall Cards this week in the Item Mall, so we started with the one-hour and one-day cards entirely sold out.  Not very clever.  The new packages for the week seem much as ever, let's hope that some of them get a 50% rebate offer at some point.  They did have one of their "buy one, stay online long enough and a GM will summon you to him and give you a second one free" offers at one stage, but I don't think I want to buy any more skill point boosters yet, and it is a complex way to get them.

Kaerella was partied with Shawshankz for a little while, who brought in a level 31 mage friend of his called DarkAylassa, who was apparently a guild master, and had to vanish a time or two on guild business.  Right at the end of Kae's time in Maargadum, a knight called KnightLioN came in and seemed to be trying to take over the place - luckily Kae only needed about four more skill points at that stage for the round 200, and after that left the place to him.  He did seem to be moving and attacking rather quickly, but then, knights do that...

Tomorrow will be a slightly busy day for me, so it will probably just be MistressDomina selling, and SirDarth pet levelling, until the evening.  It is perhaps strange that the Christmas-themed events didn't begin today, with Christmas trees and candy canes and Santa hats, but if it means one less week of the phoney "falling snow" effect on one's screen in Randol, that's fine with me.

Downtime - December 18th

SirDarth did a lot of pet training during the day, which meant I was having to dash upstairs every ten minutes to get him targeted on a fresh Gnoll Lancer; he got the horse up to level 33 by mid-morning,  by early evening was 60% of the way through that level...and by the end was on just over 80%.

Elvastar was saying that his work office closes tomorrow for the holidays, "so no gaming for me until at least the 6th January" after this Friday.  He did tell me that "I'm trying to wiggle my own dsl account again, but not until at least March next year" - so that seems like good news.

MistressDomina was busy selling "November Rain" items during the day, and did so well that I can seriously think about getting a "Tears of Knight" accessory for SirDarth...or maybe, Renez suggested, some level 85 armour for Barbarienne would be a good investment.

Last Chaos hasn't had a good day, actually - the Hatzring server bore the brunt of it, it had dire problems and was offline for hours - the other servers came out in sympathy for a while.  The Hatzring failure meant that people there were losing characters entirely, and in the end Aeria had to go back to the last full save point, Tuesday's maintenance time, so everything Hatzring people did since then has been wiped out - and sorting out the Item mall purchases will be a headache apparently.

I was finally ready to play properly after my early-evening food break - but that was the moment, just as I was about to transfer Darth from the newer computer to the older one, when "disconnected" came up.  All the Last Chaos servers were down, and, checking the forum's chat box, it looked as if they'd be off for a while.

So, if I tell you that Scarlet Mistral, my ritualist/ranger, moved across to Boreal Station, did a small tutorial quest there, and then trekked across to The Eye of the North itself, where she did a one-on-one solo quest successfully, mainly due to her pet tiger's efforts, and added a statue to her Hall of Heroes there, well, I'm talking Guild Wars...which starts its Christmas retexturings, special arenas and maps and quests etc, tomorrow I think.  I'd forgotten how good the visuals are there.

Anyway, eventually the Last Chaos servers, with the exception for a while of Hatzring, came up again.  With the risk of further time-outs, I didn't want to use any expensive potions, so Kaerella headed down to Margadum Jail and the Beast Flyers.

I was a bit distracted to begin with, as I was setting up Ventrilo, with the very-necessary advice on what to do coming from Renez.  I've installed it on my older machine - in fact, there was already an older version installed, from when I was involved in guild battles etc in
Guild Wars
, but it has now been suitably updated.  I don't have a microphone, and I don't really see the need for one.  Listening in to the talk was interesting, I'll admit, but I wouldn't want to do it every evening.  It will be back to the old radio shows tomorrow.

Well, despite a rogue messing around with the Beast Flyers for a while, so that I was glad I wasn't running a skill pill, Kae managed to add 2017 pet points, and 57 skill points.  So, at least some progress was made, though with my already curtailed playing time being hit by the server outage, this wasn't one of my more productive days.  Still, I was able to (text) chat with Renez more than usual, which was good.  It looks as if Barbarienne should gain a few more levels the natural way before trying to zoom up, which is fine with me.

Down in the Tomb... - December 19th

I had left my titan MrChuckNorris in merchant mode last night to try to sell some santa hats left over from last year, but unfortunately the computer decided to switch itself off after only one hat had sold; I think that Microsoft had an update that installed itself, and needed a restart. Ah well, maybe I should try again tomorrow

During the morning MistressDomina tried a little selling, but didn't sell much...at least, by her standards five million or so is pretty small change, these days.  I did do a little work on a new knight, as I would like to see for myself just how well a level 17 character can do, farming skill exp in the easiest parts of Prokion Temple, but it will be a while before he reaches that level.  He has at least reached level 7 now, and got the first four levels of Canid Fencing, the passive defence skill.  It shouldn't be too long before he can explore Juno's Velpist Temple, if I get the time to play him; I don't think I've ever really explored there much since the monsters there got, like the Prokion Temple ones, boosted.

SirDarth came on over lunch to do an hour or so's pet levelling, and I kept on him slightly longer, though actually killing the Gnoll Lancers, to get the horse up to level 34, since he was so close.  And then it was time for a "power hour lite" for Barbarienne...

Cariae-3's Prokion was busy, so I had to log out again and hop across to Cariae-4; it was a relief to find "my" room free, so I popped the pssp, psp, crit potion, and health potion, and added 61.22% experience in the hour, as well as the 657 skill points - which shows that the skill exp does fall off a bit at level 30.  Barb continued there until she reached level 31, and then headed back to Randol, to visit the Healer Trainer and officially become an Archer. as opposed to a Cleric like Kaerella.  So, in all her session added 92.05% experience, and 755 skill points.

Zenderfly was in touch, to take me up on my offer of supplying my experience-frozen level one character, FoxChaser, to join her in a party in the Grave Room of the Tomb of Theos, so I got Foxy going on the second computer, on Cariae-5, and moved my pet cat-type, SkrappY, over to her, plus some "freshly baked bread"...then registered for the party, and took Recall down into the Tomb of Theos.

Skrappy did gain pretty useful experience, and levelled up before long - when I mentioned after a short break that his experience seemed to have stuck, Zen reminded me to feed him.  Apparently, as with the old-style pets, if the pet is higher level than his owner, he gets hungry a lot quicker!

I came back after being away for a few minutes, a bit later, however, to find FoxChaser and Skrappy both dead, and a gloating message to Zen in the text box from a Vendetta guild member with the appropriate name of "SICK" - something about going crying to "bush", I think.   Zen had been killed too, an attack when one is fighting Sphinx Commanders can overwhelm even a level 97 wizard, as she is now.  She went back down to remonstrate with the miscreant, but died again, so we moved over to a different server, Cariae-2. 

Anyway, at level one a character loses nothing from a death, and it was easy to get Skrappy "unsealed" in Randol by the Archbishop. ..it gave me a chance to buy some more "freshly baked bread" to stave off Skrappy's hunger pangs, using my share of the gold dropped.  Then Foxy was Recalled back into the Grave Room.  We shared the place with a level 102 character called Raji, though actually having him in the party proved counter-productive, it lowered Zen's experience gain per kill.  No wonder he has had time to reach level 102, he plays at work, on one of three screens, though he has to go afk sometimes to sign in new deliveries, etc.

While FoxChaser's wall-hugging in the Tomb did earn some guild points for Norcaine, and some cash to spend on Skrappy's food, my main activity after the food break was with Kaerella, who went to the Beast Flyers, and cracked open her own pssp, platinum super skill pill.  As Cariae-4 is a bit quiet, and the other computer was busy with FoxChaser in Cariae-2, I didn't have a party for some of the time, but I did have one for an hour's pssp, anyway.  Kae's drake SirFrancis did manage to level up, and is now level 45, only two levels behind Kae herself.  The evening's endeavours resulted in 173 skill points, taking her over 4000, so that's another milestone reached.

The email with the five "December Holiday Key Giveaway" codes has arrived, so I've been able to pass a couple of keys across, one to Zen and one to Shawshankz - I see from the small print I am actually allowed to use one of the codes myself, so I must try that.  The items aren't that major, but might have their uses.  I was partied with Shaw briefly, but as I left Maargadum Jail there was a sudden lack of memory, and the game had to close.

Here and There - December 20th

Zenderfly was having another grind-in-the-Tomb day today; she had a disconnection last night just as her Iris expired, so decided against the one final hour she'd been intending to do, which meant she didn't reach level 98 then, but she made it this morning, and indeed was 60% through that level before the evening.  FoxChaser was invited to join her, and took Recall to the Grave Room on Cariae-3; there was the occasional break, Zen got a disconnection or two, which always seems more likely to happen when an Iris is being used... Foxy got a "send error report", but was soon whisked back, but when the game "ran out of memory" as my early evening food break approached, that was my lot, as Zen's Recall had run out by then.  Still, SkrappY had gone up 264.45% by then, which was worth all the "freshly baked bread" he consumed.

Over on the main computer, SirDarth did some pet levelling over lunchtime, and then Barbarienne headed for Prokion Temple.  The back room was busy, so she settled for the more accessible Orc Sergeant and Orc Axeman room quite close to the stairs, where the statues are.  No potions or boosters were consumed, as, no doubt to apologise for the downtime and general aggravation recently, we were on double experience and skill exp, I soon discovered. 

I did have the occasional visitor in that room, which is to be expected - BayouBilly, a titan, didn't stay very long; a healer called Berehul was around a bit longer.  I did get chatting to a knight called BeastBoy, who was complaining about how difficult it was to find a space, everywhere someone had already "claimed" the spot and would KS him if he tried to fight there...

By the end of the afternoon Barbarienne had gone up to level 32 - gone up 127.71%, in fact.  So she was able to get the two available level 32 skills, the attack Rapid Arrow and the passive skill Bow Mastery.  She had added 492 skill points, so after getting those skills was only 97 down on the day.

After the food break, as the end of the teaming with Zen meant I could use both computers, I tried taking Kaerella and Barbarienne to level 3 of Maargadum Jail - if Barb didn't do any fighting with the Beast Flyers and Beast Archers, she wouldn't be attacked.  Unfortunately, the central area on Cariae-4 was already in use.  It was a rather short session, but Kae added 9 skill points, and 289 pet points, while Barb got 11.43% experience, and the same 9 skill points.

However, it occurred to me that putting SkrappY on Barbarienne would be a good idea - and why not team her with Keerella instead, and go to the Tomb of Theos, where it doesn't matter if a few other people are already in residence?  Barb did already have the entrance area on her memory scroll, after all.

So, that is what I did; Barbarienne stood by the wall and watched, with Skrappy doing his usual little jig, while Kee fought the local Screaming Zombies.  A rogue called Rougy2 did offer Kee 1000ap to get her from level 58 to level 70, but I had to decline, not being much good at power levelling people - and besides I was committed to giving Barb a bit of experience...which I did, and she went up to level 33 before very long.

Renez was offering to help Barbarienne level up a bit faster later, once, on his rogue MEDS, he had done a part of the quest to get one of the combat pets, but at around eight, UK time, Zenderfly got back in touch, and invited me to a Monster Combo party. So, it was time to move over to Cariae-5, and register for a precedence-type party - quite like old times!

The first "MC" went pretty smoothly; when MEDS contacted me I had to explain that I had been kidnapped by Zen, which he quite understood.  Zen routinely does the first four rounds herself, to speed things up, and it was well under an hour when the final count of Master Coins was totted up - 233, so I got 29.

The second outing had a few changes in personnel, and MEDS joined us; Astarael was already in the team.  We had a bit of a delay when SpartaKnight vanished, presumably a disconnection, but eventually a replacement was found, and we reached the end - not as many coins, though, just 204, so I got 25.

SirDarth was busy training his horse all the while, but there is still about 40% of the current level to go.  Still, in all Barbarienne went up 202.45% today - 127.71% in Prokion, 11.43% in Maargadum Jail, and 63.31% in the Tomb of Theos.  Keerella managed 0.93%, 4 skill points, and 1504 pet points.  I would have hoped for more skill points from the Monster Combos, but perhaps having a level 105 rogue in the party may have cut that back.

Monster Combos - December 21st

MistressDomina did a little selling in the morning, including 63 Coins of Master at 950k each, which helped her to boost her cash reserves.  Meanwhile, I got that new knight of mine up from level 7 to level 10, starting with Berserk Wolves, including a few Sasquatches, and then, taking the safe route to Velpist Temple, I got the entrance onto his memorizing scroll.

Velpist Temple is full of aggressive, pet-eating, boss monsters now, starting with the level 10 Wandering Zombies, and my knight was able to kill a few of those - as double experience and skill exp was on at the time, though it got switched off later, it didn't take long to get to 96% of the level, at which point, as MistressDomina had enrolled him in ForceWithin earlier, his experience was frozen, so I don't absent-mindedly go further without setting up a Guardian arrangement.

As soon as Barbarienne logged in after lunch Zenderfly got in touch, to offer a Monster Combo place to Keerella, so I switched to Kee on Cariae-5, registered for a Precedence party, and got scooped up.  I'd timed my arrival just right, Zen already had six of the eight people needed, and I think was already doing the first four rounds solo, which seems the usual way to save time now.

So, things went pretty smoothly, Zen must have done a Niva solo as we just had the Wight Slashers to deal with.  One knight did get a disconnection, we found out later that in fact he lost all power, so no wonder he didn't return - Zen was saving some coins for him, but he said to share them out to the party.  So, from the 233 total I initially got 29, and then a bonus 3.

The second run didn't get quite as many coins - 204, so I got 25 from that one.  It was around four when we finished, and Zen decided to take time out, so it seemed a good idea for me to take my food break slightly early, and vanish for a while too.

Zen stayed vanished until 7:30, in fact, seduced away by television, so while I was waiting, not knowing how long it would be, I decided to send Kaerella down to Maargadum Jail's third level for a while - sending Keerella and Barbarienne down into the Tomb of Theos would have been an option, but to get the two of them in there would have cost  369,000 gold, so I'd have felt a bit silly if I'd been called out five minutes later.

The central area was occupied when I arrived, so I went into one of the side rooms for a few minutes.  Happily, the first time I checked, the main area had been vacated, so I was able to take it over, and stayed in command there until Zen contacted me - or rather she contacted SirDarth, who was busy pet-levelling, and he passed the message on.  Thanks to the double experience "Sunday teatime", which again started a bit late, Kae added not just 1527 pet points, but also 101 skill points, before the call came.

We had a good team for the Monster Combo, and sped through it - in fact, as nobody left after the first one we were able to plunge ahead and do a complete second run as well, and still leave everyone plenty of time to prepare for the Quiz.  It helps that Zen does the first four stages solo, of course, which means only one Wight Slasher per round - or one Niva for one of them.  While the amount of coins from the every-five-rounds drop varied wildly, the two runs had fairly similar totals, 237 and 233, so I got 29 as my share each time...so the four runs today gave me 126 Coins of Master, which, since the price seems to have bounced back a bit, I will be hoping to sell for 950k each.

I suppose Zen was at the Quiz, I didn't actually see her in the Cariae-5 quiz room - Itura logged on with about two minutes to go before the start, I hope she managed to get in safely!  Astarael and Barbarienne were clicked onto Keerella, as was a rogue I'd met in the Tomb; DarkPulse101 wasn't able to join us, he'd been hoping to download and install the game onto his father's computer, but must have run out of time.

Luckily the questions were still the familiar batch, with Israel as top turkey-eating nation, the Halloween event ending on a Tuesday, et cetera, so I was able to lead our team through to victory, and indeed I don't think anyone got removed from the room, except one or two disconnections or people who came unclicked from their leader.  Barbarienne did, in fact, get a disconnection, but that was after question 20 had been correctly answered, and her Heaven Stones had been delivered.

DuncanByrd, Cariae's top temple knight, had announced on the forum a "littering" event, based on Cariae-2, for after the Quiz, so I moved over there - not as Kee, as logging out from the quiz room had got me an "account already in use" error when I tried to log back in again, but as Barbarienne.  So I ran around dropping energy waves, cracked swords, a Blood Frenzy scroll, and other generally low-value junk, but the event wasn't a big success, the only other person I saw dropping stuff was Duncan himself, and most things got picked up pretty quickly.  Personally I couldn't resist picking up a piece of candy.  A shame I wasn't on a character with Halloween candy left over, that would have been good to drop.

Well, SirDarth did get his white horse up to level 35 today, so we are making progress; Kee got her drake, Greedo, up to level 49, thanks to the pet points from the MC - he's now on 1102 points out of 40930 to get up to level 50, so that may well take quite a while.  The MCs meant that Kee herself went up 0.82%, and added a useful 17 skill points.  I'm assured that the area-effect "traps" in there don't harm pets, so, as long as he doesn't have to fight a Niva, it looks as if it would be okay to take SkrappY in with me, which would be fun.

Top and Bottom in the Tomb - December 22nd

As I was pretty busy in real life, having FoxChaser and Freezella join Zenderfly in the grave room, right at the far end of the Tomb of Theos, was pretty convenient - it was generally just a matter of checking that SkrappY wasn't getting too hungry when I could.  MEDS was also around early on in the combat party, and other friends of Zen came and went - as did Zen, sadly, her wireless network at home seemed to be acting up a bit.

FoxChaser did die at least once, which matters not at all, as while Zen has Recall, she can swiftly be returned from that, or a "send error report" problem...or indeed if she had to log out to allow SirDarth to log in, to unfreeze ShawShankz so that he could move up from level 23 to 25 (and then freeze his experience again) to be able to use a borrowed level 29 crossbow, +15.

After the fifth disconnection, though, Zen gave up on the power-levelling with the Commanders, and decided on a Monster Combo - which, as usual, didn't take long to set up.  I switched to Cariae-5 and to Keerella, and moved SkrappY across to her, to see how he'd get on down there.

As I'd been told, the "area of effect" traps, which take 10% of a player's maximum health if you are in the wrong place, don't effect combat pets, which seems to be the official term for Ichi and Scra-Chi types.  However, Wight Slashers do occasionally hit them - I suppose if I'm the first to target one, or Skrappy gets to it before one of the melee players, it may hit out at my pet. 

SkrappY did take quite a lot of damage once - he would certainly have died if I'd not taken Zen's advice earlier and put all his spare stat points into Constitution, which increased his defence quite a lot, and increased his health/hit points from just over 1000 right up to 2700.  I used some Rough Bandages, and continued.  Our Master Coin total was 230, of which my share was 28.

As we'd been speedy, I stayed around for a second Monster Combo, though it put back my food break a little.  Again, it went well - though right at the end SkrappY got hit again, and this time he did die.  Still, from the 259 coin total I got 33, which was very welcome. Before logging out I headed for the Archbishop in Randol, and "bought" one of his zero-gold Indulgences to unseal him.  The only downside, apart from losing a couple of percent, is that the health starts from almost zero again - the whole of the evening saw him rise to a little over a thousand, but as he was on Barbarienne, and she was wall-hugging, it didn't matter that his health was low.

I didn't know what Zen's plans were for the evening, and in the end I think she must have been lured away by real life, so I made the right decision in heading for the Tomb with Keerella in charge, and Barbarienne, with SkrappY, along to hug the wall.  The level 31 titan Hellzor had been asking me for some levelling help, so he soon joined me to KS (ie "kill steal", fight my monster from outside the party), and as usual other people wanted to do that too for a while - a level 52 rogue called Katia and a level 50 titan called BladeWarriorx, and very briefly a rogue called Macka12, though she concentrated on pleading to be allowed into parties.  None of them stayed very long, except Hellzor, who left soon after we'd finally got him up the 30% he needed to reach level 32.

The main target of Macka12's pleading was DawnLJ5, who'd turned up and started bringing big mobs of Screaming Zombies, Infected Grey Mummies, and even Sphinx Fighters back to the start - I'd told Hellzor when she arrived that she brought back mobs of 20, and he was soon able to see that I wasn't exaggerating.   I don't think Macka12 was successful...

I'm afraid I rather upset Renez - I'd switched his Guild Adviser status over to DarkPulse101 yesterday so that DP could recruit someone (who I think left half an hour later when his application to become a GA himself didn't get immediate results), and I hadn't switched it back, as Ren had been offline, or concentrating on his non-Norcaine rogue MEDS - and SirDarth either hadn't been online, or I'd been too busy to remember.  Still, Ren is someone who may blow up, but regrets it pretty quickly, so I was soon forgiven, helped along by Astarael explaining things.  It does mean it will be a week before he can rejoin Norcaine, though.

Kee had a fairly long session, then, against the Screaming Zombies, so that, plus the two Monster Combos, meant that she went up 1.53% in experience, 2101 pet points (from the Tomb only), and 10 skill points.  The Tomb wall-hugging session gave Barb 70.35%, and moved SkrappY along about 40-45% I think.

MEDS got in touch then, wanting to do some testing on how best to do some power-levelling of Barbarienne, so Kee logged out and Barb moved over to the newer computer.  Not using Recall, it was a matter of MEDS, a pretty high-powered rogue now, getting the Screaming Zombie down to about 3% health, adding snare and maybe some ninja powder, and Barb attempting to make the killing shot, or shots.  We made that work once, and Barb zoomed up around 19%, but a couple of other attempts, ostensibly the same, just got about 0.60%, similar to a wall-hugging no-risk kill.

After a rather abrupt disconnection and hurrying back, I did a bit of shooting at the mobs MEDS was fighting, and then, since it didn't make much difference, retired to hug the wall, with SkrappY equipped again, and began some blog-drafting.  So I didn't even notice the moment that Barb reached level 34 - but, while as a session it was a heck of a lot shorter than the one with Kee, it still added 45.13% - and 78 pet points for Barb's horse, I see.  So, Barbarienne went up 115.48% in all today, which, while it isn't exactly power levelling by current standards, was pretty good.

MEDS endorsed Zen's advice about putting SkrappY's stat points into Constitution, he plans to do that with his combat pet; he also has the clever strategy of equipping his drake for most of the time, until the target is almost dead, so that the drake gets pet points, based on the number of hits, and then switching to the combat pet, so that it gets points for the actual kill... He has also lent me, or SirDarth rather, his three Tears of Knight accessories, so that I can find out if they do actually make PvE playing more effective.  Luckily there is no time limit on that, I must conduct some time trials in Prokion Temple when I can.

Elvastar made a surprise, and very welcome, return - he'd received an early Christmas present from his wife, who'd seen how much he was pining to rejoin us, a new broadband connection at home.  It's the very cheapest package apparently, with I think only 1 GB of downloading allowed per month - when that expires, only local South African sites will be accessible. So, we will find out how quickly Last Chaos gets through that allowance, fingers crossed it lasts a nice long while.

Talking of Christmas presents, as SkrappY is over level 30 now, I reckon I should buy him the special Item Mall package of top-level armour and weapon, etc.  A shame it only lasts a month, but if it helps keep him alive, and means he does a useful amount of damage, it's worth trying.

Zooming Up - December 23rd

By the time I finished uploading the blog last night it was a bit too late to think of putting MistressDomina up in merchant mode overnight, but this morning she made up for that with some good sales of Master Coins and Chaos Balls.  SirDarth had a slightly later start, but went out to check how the use of the loaned three Tears of Knight accessories would change his fighting - it wasn't a very long session with the Gnoll Lancers, but it demonstrated that the additional 144 attack (48 each) does apply, the Gnolls got hit for almost that much more, maybe 516 damage instead of 380, and I noticed that a rare "deadly" hit landed for 1358 rather than 1048.

However, shortly before 11:30 UK time Zenderfly contacted me, to say that she had an hour to spare to power-level Barbarienne, if I had Recall available - it meant a slightly late lunch, but that was a minor consideration, and after transferring a one-day Recall card I'd had in reserve across, Barbarienne headed for Cariae-3's Tomb of Theos.

The first stage was to fight to Screaming Zombies at the entrance hall, and, once we got into the rhythm of things, that went well, though the first zombie of all gave us a slight scare as Zen hadn't used Curse, so it ran at me rather quickly when she used the Recall to move out.  A few minutes later Zen did get a "send error report" type disconnection, and was worried that I'd have got killed while she was away, but luckily Zen's avatar remained in-game long enough to keep the current zombie's aggro while my arrows finished it off.

Barbarienne began at level 34; with each successful death, thanks to the hour-long  Platinum Blessed Iris and an experience booster every time, bringing in initially about 80% of a level, it only took about half an hour to get to level 50, at which point we took a break so that Barb could learn the new skills that were open to her, from the Healer Trainer back in Randol, and also borrow back the set of armour and +14 weapon that Itura has on long-term loan from me.  Zen also loaned me a platinum refining stone so that, for 24 hours playing time, the bow (once Collector Ryl, for 475,000 gold, had converted it from a cleric's wand) could be +15, with the bonus attack that confers.

Zenderfly headed back into the Tomb, and down to the Anubis Spear Men - I used one of Barb's teleport scrolls to join her there.  And we continued for the rest of the hour, until the Platinum Blessed Iris, and the Large Crit Potion, ran out, by which time Barbarienne had zoomed all the way from level 34 to level 59, a leap of 25 levels - when Zen power-levels you, you know it!  And an extra 37.03%, as well as 548 pet points for Barb's horse.

After lunch, I set about making use of the Recall to get some more of my characters to Prokion Temple, so that they could add it to their scrolls of memorising - and indeed to the entrance of the Tomb of Theos too.  That and tracking down a next set of armour, from one of my inventory mule characters, took a surprisingly long time, so the only other activity was for Kee to be invited into a Monster Combo by Zen, which went pretty smoothly as ever.  There was a level 115 specialist sorcerer in the team, FrostByte - he's actually ranked #3 on Cariae in the sorcerer listings, 12 levels above #4 but behind two who are actually at the top level, 120.  So, he didn't just "cap" me, he capped Zen too, who is now level 99.  Kee didn't get even 0.01% experience from that, and no new skill points at all - but the Master Coins total was 245, of which I got 30.

After my food break, it wasn't long before Zen was in touch again, ready for another power-levelling hour.  I headed down into the Cariae-3 Tomb, and Recalled her in, then followed her as she ran towards the deeper parts.  She kindly attracted the aggressive level 104 Sphinx Fighters, to give me a clearer run - even with a level 55-57 +8 healer set of armour, I was a lot more vulnerable to their attacks than her of course.

The place was pretty busy with other people, and we reached the last room with the level 106 boss-type Anubis Spear Men only to find it, too, occupied, so it looked as if we'd need to move over to Cariae-4 and try again, but Zen back-tracked, on a hunch, and found one of the best spaces had just been vacated.  So, we set to work, with Zen very expertly getting each Spear Man down to well under 5% before taking my Recall and leaving the party, so that I'd get the full experience amount for the kill. 

After each kill I'd re-recruit Zen to the party (along with MistressDomina, back in town to provide the "solo party" boost, and ShawShankz, also getting that boost while levelling in Prokion Temple). cast Recall again, pop an experience booster, to join the hour-long Platinum Blessed Iris and Large Crit Potion, and be ready to use the Slowshot skill when Zen beamed out, to make sure the Anubis Spear Man would walk towards me suitably slowly, even more slowly than Zen's Curse skill.

Zen was hoping that we might get me to level 70 by the time the hour ended - and we just made it, on the very last Spear Man as the Iris and Crit Potion were flickering out - with 1.02% to spare!  At that level, Barb was getting just under 17% per boosted kill, so it was a close-run thing.  After I'd thanked Zen for her great kindness, it was time to move back to town and catch up on my new skills.

So, Barbarienne in all today went up by 3582.55%, more than doubling her level.  Her skill point tally has been reduced by 3439, after getting all the available skills up to level 70 now.  And her horse levelled up, he is now level 22.  By Darth's standards, or especially by Kee's, the length of his current level, 3995 pet points, seems amazingly short...

Thanks to Zenderfly's kindness and skill, Barbarienne has now been transformed into a relatively high level archer.  The next levels may be a bit slower, but that was certainly a massive chunk of progress.  Later I was just browsing the merchants in Cariae-1, mainly; level 85/87 healer gear, of a blue, five-seal evasion type, does seem a lot more expensive than mage armour, which I'm told is relatively common.  Apparently someone found a pair of the b5 eva gloves for 500 million, and considered themselves lucky!  I've seen the jacket at 70 million, the boots for 200 million, and the circlet for 290 million, all completely unplussed...oh, and a level 85 white four-seal Breeze' Rainbow Bow, +15, for 75 million, which seems strangely cheap but doesn't have the best seals, and people are fussy about that sort of thing.

So, it looks as if I need to raise rather a lot more cash.  Here's hoping for plenty more Monster Combo parties over the holiday season!

Tombing On - December 24th

As I awoke at about 4:20 UK time this morning, I decided to check on what the new Last Chaos week had brought us.  The new patch was quite a big download, which as usual required me to "pause" my Kaspersky Internet Security, but when I got into LC, at just before 8:30 yesterday evening Pacific time, the servers obviously hadn't been up long, Cariae-1 was very quiet with no more than eight or ten merchants and no gold spammers at all - but the one-day Recall Cards had already sold out again.  I panic-bought one of the last six one-week ones - there were lots of the one-hour variety remaining, I intended to buy a few later but by lunchtime they too had sold out.

MistressDomina had done some useful selling before the downtime.  The main result of the new patch was to bring in the Christmas festivities, which seem exactly the same as last year, with the annoyingly crash-inducing faux falling snow, randomly spawning big boxes that disgorge a Santa hat, usually for a titan, and drops of tree decorations which have no practical use, though that doesn't stop some enterprising people from trying to sell them for millions. The idea is to donate them to the Christmas tree in central Randol, so that, before too long, it will drop a number of "presents", candy canes for health or mana recovery.  These can't be traded, or even warehoused - Karella, my rogue, still has a few from last time!

I went back to bed, of course, but logged on after coffee, hoping to make some use of the remaining hour or so of Barbarienne's one-day Recall card.  Barb headed for the Tomb, to Recall Keerella in, and luckily MEDS (who I think we'll call Meds in future) got in touch then, and volunteered to help. 

As Barbarienne arrived at the Tomb entrance, who should she find there but Astarael and ShawShankz - so I was able to save them a little cash by recalling them in.  They were there to level Shaw a bit, too, so we both set up in the entrance corridor, and got down to business.

Obviously Meds and I weren't as good at this sort of thing as Zenderfly, who was only around on LC long enough to wish me a Merry Christmas.  I don't know if things are slightly bugged, there were a number of times when Meds took Recall and left the party, allowing Barb to finish off the Screaming Zonbie, but the experience booster I'd got active wasn't triggered, and so just carried forward to the next one.  When it did work, though, on top of the Platinum Blessed Iris it meant around 54 million experience, which is always useful.

After a little while we moved on down to the Anubis Spear Men, but before too long Meds got a disconnection at an awkward moment - it's just as well that the Spear Men aren't that quick, and get hampered by the columns in there, it meant I had time to log out, as running away past a mob of aggressive Sphinx Fighters didn't seem a healthy option.

So, it was back to the Screaming Zonbies - all these months fighting there, and this is the first time I've noticed that they spelt "zombies" wrong.  It took Meds to point out that the "target" circle that we've had under monsters, or indeed players or NPCs when one is clicked on them, for a week or two has vanished again.  It was rather helpful, though a bit immersion-breaking!

So, we continued for the hour that the Platinum Blessed Iris and Large Crit Potion lasted, and by the end Barb had levelled up to 71, which was nice - the total gain was 130.65%, which included a rather short period of KS-ing Kee, and also some wall-hugging while Kee, in the party, did the fighting, which at Barb's current level produced practically nothing.

After lunch, since Keerella was already down in the Tomb, it seemed a good opportunity to act as Guardian for a couple of the characters I got to the Tomb entrance yesterday - so Kee power-levelled them by wall-hugging easily enough, which gets her Reputation to 800 - so another Extreme Stone has been earned, and I should go up from #19 to #18 on the Cariae server's Reputation rankings, unless the level 102 titan Tumah33 has also been busy.

The titan Flying was busy at the same time as Kee, and we buffed each other; I chatted with the specialist sorcerer AArkane, who stayed for quite a while.  We agreed that most of the Santa hat drops were for titans, certainly ours were.  A litle later a titan called xAnubisx was there - I attacked one of the big "present" boxes, the same design as the Monster Combo boxes, and indeed the Pandora boxes, and got a red Santa hat again, for a titan - since xAnubisx hadn't got one, I gave it to him, which I hope made his afternoon.

Ratel, Elvastar's knight, was on, and kindly joined us in the power-levelling party while he fought solo in Prokion Temple.  I was able to give him one of my "December Holiday Key Giveaway" keys - and he got it to work, which is more than ShawShankz has been able to do, unfortunately.  I tried to copy and paste the key into a Private Message but got error pages all day until the evening, when finally things started to work.  I was able to use a PM to send a key to Renez (aka Meds) too.

Anyway, by the end of Keerella's session in the Tomb she had gone up 1.30%, which is quite a reasonable amount when you are level 90, plus 5 more skill points, and 2413 pet points.  To finish I had gone down to the Anubis Spear Men - what was a dangerous run for Barb was risk-free for Kee, after all.  Actually soloing a Spear Man wasn't risky, though it did decrease Kee's health faster than her 10% "suction of life" could replenish it.  They give slightly less skill exp, being level 106, and, as boss types, four times as much experience as a Screaming Zombie - but they take at least four times as long to kill, so unless one is using experience boosters, they don't really seem worth the trouble.

As things were fairly quiet in the evening, it seemed a good idea to give SirDarth a "power hour lite" in Prokion Temple.  I rather thought that people would have more pressing things to do than play LC on the evening of Christmas Eve, but Prokion Temple on Cariae-3 was pretty busy, including my back room - I switched to Cariae-4, and luckily was able to use that room without interruption.  SirDarth used just the times-three platinum super skill pill, and, with his +12 sword and the three Tears of Knight accessories that Renez has kindly loaned him, managed just 200 skill points in an hour, which is a bit underwhelming.  Using a Large Crit Potion would have helped of course, and that extra boost from the pssp's poor relation the psp, but Darth would get skill points there a lot more slowly than Barbarienne did, whatever I used.

Things wound down after that, at least for me.  I passed the three ToKs over to my junior knight, and sent him off to Velpist Temple for an hour, during which he got 81 skill points off the Wandering Zombies, which are his level, ten.  Velpist in Juno isn't as good as Prokion in Dratan, in that the "boss" monsters give 3300 skill exp maximum rather than 5500 - but I discovered that, as in Maargadum Jail, they do drop ready-plussed items, up to +4, of around level 16.  My knight got a level 12 +2 helm which he could wear at once, and a level 16 +4 healer shirt which, as I do have a minor healer of an appropriate level, was soon moved across to her.

And that led to her, KarambA,  having a brief outing too, which included a first visit to Velpist Temple, so she now has that on her memorising scroll; thanks to Barb's recall day she already has the entrances to  Prokion Temple and the Tomb of Theos on it.  I don't think she actually got any plussed items herself there, but she got a pan flute, and is now the proud owner of a level one pony.

So, a quiet evening, rather lacking in drama but including chatting with Elvastar, though he took some time out, quite rightly, to play Santa Claus for his younglings.  As South Africa is two hours ahead of the UK, he was able to wish us a Merry Christmas from the day itself.  Another Norcaine guild member, Limey, logged on towards the end, so there were more Christmas felicitations, before I finally had to leave.

A Peaceful Day - December 25th

I did manage to log on to Last Chaos in the morning for a while - this mainly involved finishing up the two newly-promoted level twenty characters that Keerella had power-levelled.  As they had 25 skill points each, the mage was able to do something I'd meant to do for a while, which was to start a guild called TheCircle.  To get a guild to level two needs 30 skill points, so after that the knight went out to gain the extra five skill points needed.

This did take a while, as he was still in the starter armour, but he did at least have one of my healers in a solo party, who was able to stay just outside the compass area except when his health got low, and then run in and heal him between Werewolf kills.  Eventually, the five extra skill points were achieved, the necessary 50,000 gold was moved across, and, as Guild Master temporarily, he was able to promote TheCircle to level two.  And then the GM-ship was moved across, not unnaturally, to SirCumpherence...

When browsing in Randol I did spot a pair of level 87 blue, 5-seal evasion healer boots for 95 million - as I'd previously seen a pair for 200 million, and a four-seal pair for 80 million, this seemed a reasonable price, so I quickly switched to MistressDomina, who had enough money, and made the purchase.  Well it's a start!

After Christmas lunch, I set up SirDarth to do a little pet levelling, and soon had a message from Zenderfly, who was in a Monster Combo.  Apparently in Germany, Christmas Eve is the main day of celebration, so today she was back with Last Chaos properly after a day off.  I said that, if there was room, Kee would be happy to join in on the next run, and a few minutes later, the message came, so, leaving Darth busy with the Gnoll Lancers, on the main computer I logged Keerella in, and registered for a Precedence party on Cariae-5 in the usual way.

Our knight had the theory that casting Concentration on everyone would increase the number of coins we got. and, as we got 71 from the first of the four coin rounds, this seemed believable - however, round ten, the second coin round, only gave us 36, despite having Concentration on us all again - as it cost him 400 mana to cast the skill (at level 92 you can get level 11 of it) each of the eight times, he gave up after that.  The third and fourth coin rounds were back to a better standard, though, so we ended up with 250 Master Coins, meaning I got 31.

When the party had been forming, there was a level 106 player there, but luckily they got called away, so there was nobody to "cap" me - so Keerella got 0.36% experience and 5 skill points, plus 536 pet points for my emerald-green drake Greedo.

The party broke up after that, as some people were heading for their Christmas lunches, while Zen had decided to attempt to get from level 99 to 100.  As she hadn't been able to sleep then, she had managed to buy four one-week Party Recalls on Wednesday morning before they sold out, so I was able to volunteer my services for her combat party, to boost her experience gain - I switched from Darth over to FoxChaser, and from Kee to Freezella, and took the Recall down to the level 109 Sphinx Commanders in the grave room, for a bit of nice calm wall-hugging. I did have to switch from Freezella back to MistressDomina briefly to enroll PetNoob, a titan, in ForceWithin, so that he could join us; I switched back after that, so that the wall-hugging line-up became FoxChaser, Freezella, PetNoob, and Zen's own FrostEXP.

In theory if I'd thought ahead I'd have made sure that one of my level one healers was carrying SkrappY, but not having to feed him kept things simple.  I minimised the LC window on the newer machine, as a bit of an experiment as that's not something I usually do, and started to do a bit of blog-drafting before the food break...

Afterwards, well, FoxChaser and Freezella continued in the Tomb until just approaching ten o'clock UK time, which was when Zenderfly decided not to start another one-hour iris - what a marathon session she had!  She did get to level 100, which is a great achievement.  She was already #19 on the Cariae server's Mage rankings, that ought to move her up at least one place.  I see #50 on the list is level 91, so Keerella is comfortably outside the listing; there must be a lot of level 90 mages, and quite a few more level 91 ones.

When I un-minimised Freezella's window it was solid black, which was not unexpected - but she was still in-game as far as Zen was concerned, which was the main thing.  Having four level one characters in the party with her increased her experience gain by around 30%, she estimated.   It was great to be able to repay Zen slightly for all the help she has given me...and my two characters were getting a share of the drops too of course. 

Foxy did pick up a level 86 sorcerer jacket that was already +4, its seals unidentified of course, but Zen confirmed my suspicion that it would be best just to sell it to Merchant Geres, all Tomb items have bad seals...and it costs a million to identify an item, which is valmost certain to be more than it is worth.  The best item she picked up was one of the "books" to turn one's pet into a reindeer for the two-week duration of the Christmas event, which is a fun novelty item, and may even be sellable.

So I didn't really play LC actively this evening - while it was minimised on the newer computer I actually played a little bit of Guild Wars, and of course there was "Wallace & Gromit" on BBC television to watch...well, it is Christmas!

A Progressive Day - December 26th

Well, SirDarth went out to do a bit more pet levelling, and it wasn't long before Zenderfly got in touch - she'd seen a bargain, a blue, five-sealed evasion healer jacket, +13, for 140 million in Cariae-1, near the Moon Statue.  So, Keerella, since she has a fair amount of cash, hurriedly logged on, and, directed by Zen, managed to find the knight in question, BARKLAY, and make the purchase.  If I could find the other bits of armour Barbarienne will need at that price, ready plussed, then I'd be very happy...

After lunch, Zen volunteered to give Barb an hour's power-levelling; so, she logged on, and MistressDomina logged on too to give the "solo party" boost - and Zen Recalled Barb down to the first Tomb of Theos room where the Sphinx Fighters and Anubis Spear Men are.  Or maybe it was a different room, those places do tend to look rather similar!

So, Barbarienne started her Platinum Blessed Iris and her Large Crit Potion.  The first Spear Man was not a success, as we weren't into the swing of things yet, and Barb did die, but that just meant using the skill exp restoration scroll she had active, and losing maybe 2% experience - then starting a new resurrection scroll, which I hope will last a good long time.

Barbarienne started off at level 71 - and by the end of the hour she was level 76, an increase of 507.57% - and 711 pet points too.  At that point it was time to head back to town to update my skills, spending 730 skill points.  Zen had been planning to do something else after that, but there wasn't anybody for her to team up with for it online, so instead we settled down for a second hour!

This was slightly different - when Zen Recalled me back, we were in the grave room with the level 109 Sphinx Commanders, who give 16.76% more experience than the Spear Men - though they take longer to kill, and are a bit more unpredictable, so, unless one is trying to use a few less experience boosters, aren't really a great improvement for my levelling purposes, but it meant that Zen had the room safely "booked" for later use, and was having a more challenging and enjoyable time.

Anyway, with a couple of Anubis Spear Men who got too close to the entrance included, we managed a further 343.75%, and 465 pet points, so Barb went up over eight levels in all, to finish up quite high in level 79, which is great progress - it means, for example, that she can team up with Keerella, and share experience in the Tomb while wall-hugging.  Or she could join the fight, though that might get Skrappy into dangerous places, if she has him equipped.  I'll have to "unwrap" his present of armour and high-level weapon some time, that would make him a bit more difficult to kill.

Well, Zen had the grave room, so now it was her chance to do some levelling herself - Barb stayed there while she went and changed computers, and Recalled her back, then I teleported back to Randol, and passed Skrappy over to FoxChaser.  Foxy then took recall back down, and was soon joined by Freezella, and Zen's FrostEXP.  Zen did have hopes of being able to get another of her characters into the party, but unfortunately her mother wanted to use one of their family's computers.

So, it was another lengthy session for Zen, trying to move through level 100 now.  Skrappy reached level 32 at last, which got his health back up to maximum, and by the end of the evening had reached level 33.  It may well mean he gets hungry even more quickly now that he's so many levels above his walker, of course, but the share of the money dropped is enough to pay for plenty of Freshly Baked Bread.

Zen's efforts ended at about 9:40 UK time, when she finally got a disconnection, so not quite as long a grind as yesterday.  As yesterday, while Freezella's LC window was minimised as she wall-hugged in the grave room, I kept busy in Guild Wars, finishing the "Eye of the North" Wintersday quests for one character.   It's surprising how different things are from Last Chaos, though the age-old problem of too many items to fit in one's inventory remains...

Down in the Grave Room - December 27th

SirDarth managed to get his horse up to level 36 in the morning, so there's just the one level left for him to slog through now.  My junior knight made use of those borrowed accessories with another session out in Velpist Temple with the level ten Wandering Zombies, netting 50 skill points - he still has a way to go before he maximises his currently-available skills, though.  Some more ready-plussed items were picked up, though nothing that he himself could use.

Keerella had a look around the merchants, in search of more 85/87 healer armour, but didn't find anything useful.  It is strange how the prices of some Mall items have fallen lately, health stealers used to be around five million each, and can now be found for two, while experience boosters have gone from perhaps 800k down to half that.  Item drop boosters seem to have fallen a little, too - lucky scrolls, which became rather common due to the Halloween event, seem to be climbing towards their old price, though.

Zenderfly came on after a while, and announced that she was down in the Cariae-3 Tomb's grave room again - so I immediately volunteered FoxChaser and Freezella to join her.  Zen had managed to reach level 101 before the end last night, it seems, and was eager to grind her way up further - though she has set a deadline of January 4th for this work, which does entail a lot of high-concentration playing, as the level 109 Sphinx Commanders are still pretty dangerous foes.

Aeria seems to be cutting back on the "50% rebate" special deals on Mall packages lately, in favour of their "buy one, get 50% extra free" deals - which sound good, but do involve one's character staying in the third sub-server of one's group for up to four hours, not afk, waiting to be teleported to a GM, who'll drop the bonus items in front of you.  Not very tempting, generally.

Zen reported reaching 30% around lunchtime, and the battle continued.  She did have an interloper called Asdarel who was of the opinion that there was room for more than one Commander-fighter in the room ("If you ks I start ks you.  I don't have pot now, you have, so you lose potion not me."), but Zen soon managed to dissuade him or her. It was two o'clock when she reached 40%; her guess was that another four hours would get her to level 102, which was her aim for the day, but she decided to finish an Iris before that. as her eyes were starting to hurt.

MaiaTan, level 92 now, who I've been in a few Monster Combo parties with, was in the party, though was back in Juno by then; Zen had also recruited a level 93 player, SaFiRe, who was properly impressed with the 420 million experience per Commander - though that was before Zen's level one healer logged out.  I had a few minor things to do, so stayed in the party until six, before logging out.

So, it was time to get Barbarienne down into the Tomb of Theos, teamed with Keerella; Barb went in, and used her Recall card to get Kee in.  Kee then set to work on the Screaming Zombies; Ratel joined the party for solo purposes, busy farming sp over in Prokion, and the titan Gwalyan was there, so joined in to assist me from outside the party - he did eventually level up, and went off to get a new weapon.

Astarael turned up after a while, and Shawshankz - they eventually persuaded me to get Ventrilo going, it started up easily enough, and was automatically on the right server, which was just as well - actually moving to the "room" they were in was a bit more trial and error.  Shaw was after advice - should he get a +14 level 85 crossbow for when he reaches that level, or spend more and get a +15?  I voted for the latter option.  I'm also to look out for good top-level rogue armour.

Shaw did have a Cunning Plan, which, if not involving world domination, was more cunning than a fox during national cunning week - apparently he'd been teleported to a GM right up on the edge of the Juno map to get his "buy one get one free" offer - and had saved the spot on his memory scroll!  This may or may not mean he can access the GM's office (probably not) - maybe if he arrives there during one of the special offer times, the GM will automatically drop that day's freebie in front of him?

It did take all evening, but finally Barbarienne reached level 80, which meant she was able, once she was back in Randol, to get Enchant Arrow level six, which permanently increases her physical attack by 35, and cost 380 skill points.  Spending another 250 points at level 82 will increase her hit rate by 44, courtesy of Rise Focus 2 level three, while 350 points invested at level 84 will increase her chance of a "deadly" attack - and so it goes.

Well, no boosters, no power levelling - and well over three hours to add 17.57%.  It's handy to have that added skill "in the bank" before the next power levelling, though.  She did add 3 skill points, and helped Skrappy along, so that he reached level 35.  Keerella meanwhile seemed to be getting slightly more experience, which at her level meant 1.18%, so she is a fifth of the way into level 90 now.  The same 3 skill points were gained, and also 2708 pet points for Greedo.

Sunday Business - December 28th

I managed to swap some items from various characters over to MistressDomina, and get the boots and jacket from the 85/87 healer armour set over to Barbarienne this morning, before I logged in with SirDarth, only to find that Zenderfly had already started her daily grind in the Grave Room of the Tomb of Theos, battling the Sphinx Commanders with the moral support of FrostEXP and Frexp2pwredbyzen, so I immediately volunteered FoxChaser and Freezella to join her party and, after moving SkrappY and a supply of Freshly Baked bread across to Foxy, logged them in, and took Recall down to the Tomb.

I did ask if Zen was going to take a lunch break at some point, but she assured me that she'd had a late breakfast.  It wasn't long after I arrived that Zen reported reaching 90% of the way to level 102.

Zen was saying that a further two hours of her power-levelling should get Barbarienne to level 87, and that further powering after that doesn't seem useful.  This seems reasonable to me, at level 87 Barb will be able to wear the top armour, or as much of it as she has found, and use the top bow - though it won't be long before Last Chaos USA adds a further set to the game, at which point a lot of 85/87 pieces are going to be available for sale, I suspect, as people trade up.

Barbarienne should get invitations into Zen's Monster Combo parties then, to get Master Coins to raise money for further purchases; Zen will probably "cap" her then by being more than 15 levels ahead, but my main focus should be on levelling Barb by normal means, and it's certainly quicker to level a character at 87 than at 104 or whatever, even, I suspect, if the higher character is using boosters.

By about two o'clock, UK time, Zen had reached 31% into the climb towards level 103.  FoxChaser had a "send error report" around that time, of the harder, needs-a-computer-restart kind; it took a while for her to actually vanish from the party, Skrappy was 6.36% along level 36 when the screen froze, but on 7.62% when I was finally able to load Last Chaos again.  It was convenient to be able to restart and refresh the game, anyway - and as Zen was running low on Great Healing Potions, Foxy was able to buy some in town for her before taking a Recall back to the Tomb.

Zenderfly hit on the idea of advertising the party on the "parties recruiting members" list as "free p-lvl if you're lvl 1-10", hopefully recruiting applicants as her apprentices as well.  Strangely, there were only two takers, Sweetcakes and Busy, and they both vanished rather suddenly - Busy (or "busy") wouldn't even take up the Guardianship offer.

It was about four when Zen reached the 60% mark - and not long past five when she hit 80%, but reported that the Tomb was getting harder.  We were tentatively considering giving Barbarienne an hour's power-levelling from 7:30 pm, after Zen took a little time off, so that report slightly worried me, but Zen assured me that things ought to be okay once the Dratan Castle Siege had finished, as that resets the Tomb.

Zen's Iris ran out soon after 5:30, when she was on 89.5% - as she was managing around 15% per hour, one more would have got her to the next level, but even Zen has her limits, and went off in search of some food and, no doubt, and a nice dark room in which to rest her eyes.  Bushmaster had recently joined the party, but he left it after a few minutes, so Foxy and Freezy were able to log out.

Kaerella took the opportunity to go to the Beast Flyers while Sunday teatime was offering 50% extra skill exp, and double experience too I think, but didn't stay as long as I'd have liked as DarkPulse101 got in touch, asking me to take my rogue Karella out and kill lots of Butchers, in the hope of attracting the Grand Red Dragon while her level 50 rogue ShawShankz had a spell of luck active.  So, Kae left her flying friends having gained 42 skill points and 781 pet points - and Karella went out to kill Butchers and Pilferers in that crater near town.  Despite reasonably long sessions in both Cariae-3 and Cariae-4, the Big Bird did not turn up.  So, with the Teatime finishing at 7:18 pm UK time, Karella just gained 30 skill points, and a few pet points for her long-suffering drake.

DarkPulse101 did spot a green, 5-seal level 85 archer's bow in Cariae-1 for 350 million in gold - when I mentioned it to Zenderfly a bit later she assured me it was good value, but, despite searching Cariae-1 pretty carefully, I didn't find it, someone else must have snapped it up.  We did discuss doing Barbarienne's power-levelling hour then, but Zen was of the opinion that the grave room on just about every server would be busy, so we decided to postpone things until tomorrow afternoon, as a break from Zen's grinding. 

I'll be rather afk during the morning, though hopefully able to supply FoxChaser and Freezella - and then it should be easy after lunch to take them out, and bring in Barbarienne instead.

I was 90% away-from-keyboard for the rest of the evening; SirDarth was able to do some more pet levelling, but an attempt to join in with the Quiz didn't really work.  I did manage to get Keerella in there, and even clicked on to DarkPulse101 in the hopes of following her, but I think she said that the first question took her a little by surprise and she had to make a last-minute dash for it, so someone following a few yards behind her was just too slow to survive.  Ah well, I guess I have rather a lot of Heaven Stones already!

Twin Sessions - December 29th

SirDarth managed to get some pet levelling done before Zenderfly logged on, out with the Gnoll Lancers in south Merac.  He actually had a good view of the Grand Red Dragon, which was being fought by a rogue and a healer I think, and died at 10:12 UK time.  I don't know if they got an accessory, though a bit of dialogue overheard showed that there was some disagreement over the division of whatever loot had been dropped.

It was after eleven when Zen finally appeared, with the news that the Green, five-sealed +15 level 85 archer bow was again on sale  for 350 million in Cariae-1 Randol, from a healer on a horse near the fountain - PrincessCharming.  I immediately logged Keerella in on that sub-server, and rushed over - but she had vanished.  However, while looking I did discover a pair of level 85 b5 evasion gloves, which are apparently rather rare, for 190 million; I mentioned the price to Zen and she considered it to be a bargain, so I snapped those up.  I'll need to move some more gold around, as that leaves Kee with only around 280 million.  I did see a b5 circlet at, I think, 225 million, but both Zen and I weren't convinced that that was a rock-bottom price, so I left it.

After that brief excitement, Zenderfly headed for the Cariae-3 Tomb of Theos, and on to the Grave Room to meet up with the Sphinx Commanders again.  She only had access to two computers, so just brought frexp2pwredbyzen along herself - I registered FoxChaser and Freezella for the combat party, checked that Foxy still had plenty of Freshly Baked Bread to keep my pet Skrappy content, and accepted Recall to join them.

It was just before noon when Zen reached level 103.  She continued on, of course, and, assisted by Foxy and Freezy, plus her own frexxy and sometimes FrostEXP, and for a while one new apprentice (who rather hoped that a Guardian would consider it part of their job to provide a mount as well) had managed a grand total of 112,000,000,000 experience by the time her last Iris of the day ran out just after 5:30.

And that was when Barbarienne had her power-levelling hour, on the Sphinx Commanders.  It's not exactly an easy room for that, as its angles, braziers and pillars make it a bit difficult to click back on to Zen again to re-make the party after every kill, and also mean that while it looks as if one's arrows are hitting their target, Barb may have to go closer and off at an angle to actually start doing damage.

Generally we did well; I did forget the experience booster a couple of times in the excitement, and once the Commander in question did get my health down pretty low before dying.  Zen is very good at this sort of thing now, though, and would often pull the Commander along further away from where I had to stand, to give me time for more hits on its final slow walk towards me.  She did have to provide a Recall for me a couple of times when a Commander started to chase me - it's lucky that, even without Slow Shot, they are not very speedy movers.

I used 36 experience boosters in the hour, and we achieved our main objective, which was to get me up two levels so that I could get my next skill, level three of Rise Focus 2, increasing my hit rate by a further 44, costing 250 skill points.  614 pet points were gained - and the total experience figure was 273.38%.  At level 80 each Commander's death, suitably boosted, gave around 8%; at level 81 this fell to 7.5%, and at level 82 to 7%.  

Zenderfly logged out after that - or, at least, after giving another player in the area, Clerica, a Recall back from a brief trip back to town.  As for me, well, it was definitely time for something a bit less intense.  As they say, when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping, right?  And what should I find but somebody else, DimentionShadow, selling the "b5 eva" healer circlet I was looking for, not at 225 million, but at a rather more reasonable 140 million, perhaps inspired by the person sitting next to them asking 145 million. So, I snapped that up - I just need the pants/skirt now, which I don't think I have yet seen.  I did notice someone selling a B5 one for quite a low price, but it wasn't the evasion type, it just gave some additional defence.

Talking of intense, a rather knows-her-own-mind Romanian lady, Irina, who Elvastar recruited a couple of days ago for Norcaine has now left the guild, "to try something else".  This is a slight worry as she had borrowed the +15 level 29 weapon that Elva had borrowed from me, though she did message me later in the day to assure me it would be returned when she had finished with it.  I hadn't realised that Elva had actually handed it over, the idea was that she would leave a deposit or surety... Elva of course promises that I won't end up out of pocket.

Anyway, it was time for SirDarth to resume his pet levelling after that, while Kaerella headed for the Cariae-4 Maargadum Jail, popped a platinum super skill pill, and settled down to farm some skill points.  I'd not expected Zen to be doing anything else in Last Chaos besides shop, when she did log back in - but I was only about a third of the way into the pssp when she messaged to say that she was in the Cariae-5 Tomb with a nice clear run at a room of Anubis Spear Men, and would I like another power-levelling hour?

Zen kindly agreed to wait while Kae finished the pssp, which expires in real time even if one logs off; the Sphinx Fighters and the Spear Men are white-named to her, so she was able to farm some skill exp herself, and level her pet a little.  And when the pssp expired (112 skill points for Kae, and 1064 pet points), I switched sub-servers, took Recall, and joined her.

As previously mentioned, the Anubis Spear men give a little less experience, but die more quickly - they are also non-aggressive, though the Sphinx Fighters there aren't as polite, I had to run from a couple of those during the hour, until Zen could attract their attention, usually with Curse.  I got through rather more experience boosters during this hour, 50 in fact, but, even though the experience gain per kill started at 5.7 and went down whenever I levelled, Zen got me up to level 85, with 262.13% experience gain.  Not as big a percentage as the earlier hour, but a bigger total amount of experience I'm sure.  And 544 pet points were added, though Barb's poor horse did get attacked a time or two.

So, over the two hours, today gave Barbarienne 535.51% experience gain,  along with 1158 pet points.  Before I logged out, after of course thanking Zen for her continuing kindness, I grabbed  level three of Deadly Shot 2, increasing my chance of a "deadly" hit by 10%, for 350 skill points.  I could also put on my new level 85 Ebade Gloves of Dimension, which, without any plussing, give the same armour as my previous level 70 Balsamic Gloves +6 - but with the added evasion.  I must at least get them to +6 before the next Tomb session - which, assuming we keep up our work rate, ought to get me to level 87, our target. 

They Also Serve... - December 30th

Zenderfly didn't appear until lunchtime today, so SirDarth was able to do a few hours of pet levelling, moving  his horse a bit further through the final level - going beyond level 37 for a horse doesn't add anything useful, luckily, so that is when we tend to stop. 

Barbarienne did have a look around Cariae-1's Randol early on, in case that seller of a +15 level 85 bow was there - there was no luck on that, but she did at last spot the blue, five-seal evasion healer pants/skirt she needed to complete her 85/87 armour set; DaRKSTaR was selling them for 175 million, and I snapped them up.  As I'd not seen them at all on other days, I thought it was a pretty good deal - until Zen contacted Darth later with news of the same item on sale for 125 million!

MistressDomina was online overnight, and sold quite a lot of items, including one Monster Combo's worth of Master Coins, but nothing else particularly valuable.  I restocked her with draw boxes and Chaos Balls from a "November Rain" package, and managed to take in another 38 million during the morning, which means that Barbarienne can actually afford to pay 350 million for a +15 bow, given the chance.

After lunch it was time for FoxChaser and Freezella to give Zen their moral support in Cariae-3's Grave Room.  Zen soon reached level 104; this should be her last day of power-levelling, she tells me.  The target was level 105, and steady progress was made.  40% was reached just before four o'clock, which suggested that, at 15% an hour, level 105 would come up about eight.  FrostEXP was in the party too, and later on Zen gained access to a third computer and was able to add frexp2pwredbyzen as well, while the level 100 archer Symoinias was also in the party, operating in the next room.

I did ask Zen if she thought Kaerella could skip getting the skill Mark of Despair, which costs 1450 skill points at level 70, and a further 950 at level 100, but she was firmly of the opinion that it was necessary.  So, on the skill point farming front, by my calculations Kae was 42% through level five of that skill.  That's the top level one can get at level 70, and costs a massive 890 skill points.  Every class seems to have a level 70 skill like that, one that's entirely new rather than an additional level of something learned earlier.  Unlike any other level's skills, it actually costs gold, too, 3.5 million to get the five levels.  The archer equivalent was Paralyzing  Arrows, which, with her skill point reserves, Barb easily got; the mage equivalent was Chaos Nova.

Zen mentioned that she certainly wouldn't want to attempt to power-level Kae, as clerics, with their comparatively weak attack, are very difficult to power-level.  So it's just as well Kae's progress is liable to be rather slow.  Still, clerics make great healers - in comparison I was surprised how many times Barb had to use Self Heal to get back from around 20% health, after a too-keen Anubis Spear Man.  But then, healing by 275 hit points is less impressive at level 80 than it is at level 1...

Anyway, Zenderfly reached level 105 with 20 minutes to spare, and continued until the end of the (Platinum Blessed) Iris, so that she was about 6% into the new level.  Now, nobody in a Monster Combo party, even a level 120 player, can "cap" Zen! 

It looks as if Zen took my advice to head for a darkened room and have a rest, as she didn't reappear.  I know she plans to check in soon after the servers restart in the early hours of tomorrow morning, to read the patch notes, and probably check the Item Mall for Recall Cards and things like that.  Me, well, if I do happen to wake at an appropriate time, I'll slip on my nice warm dressing gown and log in too...

After I moved some Heaven Stones and three Lucky Smelting Stones across to Barbarienne, I at least upgraded her new level 85 gloves to +6, so that her armour is now a bit improved; as armour has to be equipped to be upgraded, and high-level armours can't actually be worn until one is the level stated (unless they say that they can be worn some levels earlier, which is a possible seal), I can't do anything with the level 86 or 87 bits yet. 

After my next and presumably last power-levelling hour with Zen, Barb should be able to wear all the armour set, and at that point I'll need to get together all the  Runes of Protection (I and II) and Chaos Smelting Stones I have got in various places, plus four Extreme Stones.  It would be nice if there was an "upgrade event" this coming weekend, with an improved chance of success when using Heaven Stones to "plus" an item...packages in the new week's Item Mall should give a clue about that.

SirDarth headed back to the Gnoll Lancers for another hour or so, and got his pet up to almost 90% of that level; Kaerella rode off to the Beast Flyers, and spent almost an hour there, not using a "pssp" this time just in case Zen bounced back and put in an appearance, but instead using three of the 10-minute effort scrolls, which just add an extra 50% skill exp... so, 877 pet points acquired, and 41 skill points, which takes Kae to almost 47% through that 890 sp skill level.  Another 472 skill points, and we'll be able to move on to the level 74 skill, another level of Charm for 250 sp, which shouldn't take very long to get - comparatively!

Levelling Up - December 31st

SirDarth didn't actually take very long this morning to finish the job of getting that white horse to level 37, so that, when turned back into a mount, it can give the maximum defensive and attacking "horse buffs"  - so after that, he bought a couple of pickaxes in Randol, and went out to start to replenish his slightly-diminished stocks of stones.

Darth has to do a lot of work around here, which is convenient as he is on Zenderfly's Friends List.  Barbarienne was added a week or two back, but Zen ran out of space and had to delete her, so if I want to know when Zen is online, and be able to exchange messages, then generally he has to be on one of the two computers.

Zen's initial message, at around noon, was that there was a green, five-seal +15 archer bow for sale in Cariae-3 for 400 million - with a strong hint that I ought to buy it.  So, Darth ran back into town, and put some of his gold into storage, as Barb wouldn't otherwise have had enough - I then switched over to Barb, and made the purchase.  I had actually seen the bow earlier, but thought it slightly over-priced, as Zen had nearly managed to link me up with a 350 million one before, but Zen's urgings reassured me that the price was reasonable.  And without a new bow, further levelling would be slower.

It was approaching my lunchtime, so I had to decline an invitation to a Monster Combo party, but when I got back to the computer an hour later, they were just on the final round, so it was good timing, and I was able to register for Zen's second MC party.

Other people came and went; we managed three parties before it was time for me to take my early evening food break, and Zen decided to vanish for a while to watch a movie on television.  My first party got 221 coins in total, so I got 27; the second improved on that slightly with 228, and I got 29, while, though the third only managed 213, for the last few rounds we were down to seven people, so I got 30.  I passed the Master Coins over to MistressDomina before I logged out; she had been busy selling some more items for most of the day, as I try to build up my cash reserves again.

It was around seven when Zen came back online.  Her Recall had expired, so it was up to me to go to and enter the Tomb, and run down to look for a good spot - just stick to turning right, was her advice.  Before long we found a room with, along with some level 104 Sphinx Fighters, two level 106 boss Anubis Spear Men, which did respawn just quickly enough for our purposes.  So, we set to work, with me popping a Platinum Blessed Iris and a Large Crit Potion, and things went pretty smoothly for our hour.  I reached level 86, and then level 87 - and put on my new armour, and managed in the quieter moments to at least upgrade the new parts to +6.  So, I was in the full 85/87 armour set by the end - in the hour I went up 220.93%, and added 807 pet points.  I had brought the necessary runes, Chaos Smelting Stones and Extreme Stones with me, so after getting the armour up to +13 as planned, I did try soloing a Spear Man, as Zen suggested - it wasn't easy, I seemed to do a lot of running, turning, and re-using Slowshot, before he finally died.

Zen logged out then, feeling tired, so the possible second hour of power-levelling is put on hold for the moment; if my week's Recall runs out, I can easily buy a one-hour card specially.  I headed back to the Tomb's entrance area, to see how I got on with the Screaming Zombies.

Elvastar has changed from elementalist to specialist, so now fights as either the small-headed knight or the big winged "Grand Devilroad Elva" red devil.  He'd been asking earlier if he could do some ks-ing in the Tomb, so I made the offer on the Guild chat channel, and although he was doing perfectly well in Egeha with a temple knight called Arachnid, he decided to come down and visit, bringing the knight with him.  For most of the time they stayed in the party, joined by rogues TomBoy101 and BearCo, though occasionally one would leave to see if ks-ing would give more experience.

So that made for a less intense final session of the evening - and added 7.01% for Barb, thanks to a period of double experience, to make her day's total 227.94%.  And her horse levelled up too, getting into the spirit of things, and is now level 23.  Elva went afk shortly before ten, as in South Africa that was when the New Year was about to start.  Once I was back in town I chatted to Renez, in his guise as the rogue Meds, who has been hard at work doing reports that fall due soon, the last few days.  I also got my latest skill, level 86's Vital Spot Bow 2 level three, spending 350 skill points to increase my chance of a critical hit.

I helped Meds transfer 2000 item drop boosters across to Renez, who, he said, plans to do a little drop farming... and, as SirDarth, re-recruited Renez, and put him back in his rightful position as Guild Adviser.  So, all's well that ends well... and a Happy New Year to all our readers!