Kaerella's Blog - stardate September 2009 (1)
Unbloggishly, here we read from the top down - so the month begins here at the top!
The Importance of Potions  -  September 1st

Well, CaptainScarlet and SirPerivale returned to duty on the pet-levelling front at a suitably early pre-breakfast hour, so that Peri's drake reached level 25 during the lunch break.  Cap's pale blue horse had reached level 33 by coffee time.  As the drake was now two levels above Peri, it was starting to get hungrier, so the time is now approaching when it will be necessary to find it a new home.

Initially, for the after-coffee session, I despatched MistressSabina and JohnWellington to the Auzura-3 Prokion Temple, but, with Sabina now on level 35, there was very little experience or skill exp coming in for the team.  So, Sabina logged out, after gaining just 0.12% experience and 3 skill points, and Galahad, on level 33, hurried to Prokion to take over.

The session lasted a bit over an hour, and Galahad added 8.24%, 135 guild points, and 66 skill points, while in all JohnWellington added 11.85%, 133 guild points, and, thanks to using his last "beginner" pssp, 142 skill points.

In the afternoon, MistressDomina took MistressBlaze out to the Sphinx types again.  For much of the time I had the place to myself, but then people started to turn up, like the level 35 rogue tin9999, the level 50 guess-what XXRogueXX, who tried to persuade me to go to the Tomb with her, a mage you can't have been above 35, MTGOW1, who died at least five times, a level 32 sorcerer guildie of hers called xXxSeraphimxXx, a high-level mage called Nourc who gathered up all the Sphinx types in a sp-farming kind of way, and Selamon from the AllStars guild, who concentrated on the Elite Sphinx Speer Man.

So, things got a bit busy.  Luckily only tin9999 and XXRogueXX were there when Kamira put in an appearance; I said I was getting my level 72 rogue to deal with her, but I think at least one of them attacked Kammy and got immediately killed.  They seemed to "ks" a bit when Rage was fighting her too, which may have affected the chances of getting good drops, but, while there were no rare accessories, Kamira seemed to drop all the usual lucky scrolls, moonstones, tool aids, and so on.

By the end of the session, MD had gone up by 12.88%, plus 922 pet points - and MB had added 40.56%.  They each gained 3 skill points, as well.  So Peri and Cap were able to log in for a little pet-levelling, over the early evening food break.

CaptainScarlet had the opportunity to continue levelling the pale blue horse for a while longer, as attending the Auzura-3 "Mad Monster Spawn" only involves one character.  This time it was my level 31 cleric, Memree, who had the honour.  I was thinking vaguely that she could use up her "beginner" resurrection scrolls, but as she actually had zero skill points, and had only just started on level 31, she had almost nothing to lose by dying, so on the three occasions when she did take a dirt nap, I just respawned back in town and teleported back.

It was fun, anyway, though Memree tended to miss a lot more than she hit, with such high-level targets, and if she hit, only do 44 damage.  Somehow that was enough for one Grand Gold Dragon to drop ten Great Healing Potions and a Crystal of Experience (Greater) just for me, though, and from the hand-spawnings of loot I picked up a few large defence potions, large attack potions, tool aids, skill point boosters, and item drop boosters.  It seemed that we weren't quick enough on the final wave to earn any heaven stones; truth to tell, we weren't all that powerful a congregation, and the absence of our premier tank, MortimerJones, probably didn't help.

At the end GM Stratos announced a "Fluton Party" slightly further along, with a couple of dozen of the near-invulnerable beasties, but he relented and removed most of them, dropping in a few of the Strayana purple dragons instead.  Once we'd dealt with them, well, he'd just faded away, which was a bit naughty really, people did hang around for a while in case there was anything else in the way of either monsters or loot.  It would be a sensible idea if he ended with a "Thanks guys, see you next week, I'm out of here" message, so that people knew that the event was officially over.

I switched to MistressDomina to check to see if Ratel or Leopardknight were online - and Leo was.  He mentioned that he'd checked up on his character at about 6:00 am and found an Orc Sergeant actually attacking Leo, who had mysteriously moved a little way out of the safe area, but he was able to log out without dying, and was 23% into level 20 by then.  I offered to team MistressSabina up with him, but he was busy catching up on his Juno-based quests, and generally terrorising the local Blood Wolf and Pandora's Beast population.

So, MistressDomina and MistressBlaze were able to head back to the Sphinx types for the bulk of the evening session.  Before long a level 50 titan, Lukas1, suggested that we have a Combat party, which seemed a good idea, even though it would slow down MistressBlaze's experience gain... we did try recruiting other people to it, but BigBoss1 didn't stay long, and others seemed already to have their parties. MTGOW1 seemed to be doing better now, and was around for a while.

Lukas1 was using a lot of potions - a platinum blessed iris and experience boosters, for a start, as well as a crit pot, berserker, adrenaline, shield, and large attack and defence potions, and it certainly paid off, by the time we finished he had reached level 55.  He mentioned that it was all about the titan skills - he had used the same buffing with his knight and it was much slower.  It was quite an expensive way to gain levels, especially as he had to go afk for about the last quarter of the first of the two main hours.

He left a ring on the ground, I think he said afterwards that he was short of inventory space, and I, not liking to see stuff left lying around, ran over and picked it up.  "Wow, that is quite a good ring - hit rate 18 plus short range physical hit rate 75.  Do you want it?"  Not surprisingly he said "Well, yes in fact :)", so I traded it across.

By the end of the evening MistressBlaze had reached level 43, so she can now do a Combat party with MD without a third person in-between; she added 21.27% experience in all, most of it rather slowly in the Combat party set-up, plus 6 skill points - she also ended up with a heaven stone and a level 53 mage staff +4 in her inventory, which I didn't notice arrive.

MistressDomina had gone up by 25.59%, plus 7 skill points - MB had been absent for a little while, so that SirPerivale could at last recruit GuildHealer into DeathBringers, and pass the position of guild master across to her.  MD's drake had added 1003 pet points as well.

When I logged SirPerivale in afterwards, I found that Lukas1 was in merchant mode under the headline "Absolutely Unbelievable" - and discovered he was offering a package of nine pet colouring crystals, including a white one, for only a million.  Peri didn't have enough gold to pick up that bargain (I'd have said that half a million each was a pretty good selling price), so MD hurried back into Randol, and made the purchase, before logging out so that CaptainScarlet could reappear.

Peri and Cap headed for the Merac Berserkers of course; by the end of the evening Peri's drake was approaching halfway through level 25, while Cap's horse was about two-thirds of the way through level 33.

Server Crash - September 2nd

As usual SirPerivale and CaptainScarlet logged on bright and early, and got some pet-levelling done, but when I returned after coffee there was a suspicious lack of numbers floating up into the air over the Berserkers' heads.  I was intending to send JohnWellington and Galahad off to Prokion Temple, so logged  Peri out - and was unable to log back in again, while Cap just continued to appear to fight his Berserker without gaining any pet points.

A visit to the Last Chaos forum ShoutBox soon confirmed that the whole Auzura server had crashed, though the others were still going, including my old haunt Cariae, so I logged on SirDarth and Enchantrella there - I had to avoid using the two accounts that had been logged in to Auzura, as they just gave "account ID is already in use" type pop-up messages.  I took Enchie off to Prokion Temple on Cariae-3, and fought the Orc Axemen and Orc Fighters there; she is level 27, so Orc Sergeants weren't necessary, and with her +6 armour set she was taking quite enough damage from the level 25 and 27 type Orcs.

There were reports of further server problems on the ShoutBox, so to be safe I unequipped Enchantrella's drake, since a disconnection might well mean that in-game I theoretically just stood there being hit, and it is expensive to "unseal" a pet if the attackers decide to focus their attacks on it.  It was lucky I did that, as a minute or two later Cariae too suffered a crash, and I was disconnected - I'd just started running back to the entrance hallway, and though Enchantrella wasn't followed, she was still taking hits from the Orcs.

Both SirDarth and Enchantrella over on Cariae do have mounts - and I found that Darth's was down to only 3% Sympathy, and Enchie's to 0%, which seemed strange as the characters haven't done anything lately, and anyway, since when do mounts lose Sympathy just because they are not being used?

The Katar server survived, and I did do a bit of fox, deer and wolf fighting with a couple of low-level characters, but at last word came that Auzura was back up, so CaptainScarlet was able to log back in, followed by SirPerivale.  In the ShoutBox Kelrya, billed as "Aeria: Admin", asked if things were okay now, and I was able to say that I'd got back in safely. I noticed that Cap's horse's starvation bar was about 8 lower than before, and the pet points had decreased a little, but that ground was soon regained, and the horse reached level 34 before lunchtime, with Peri's drake reaching level 26 as well.

So, after lunch it was time to find that drake a new owner - JohnWellington now has it, though he doesn't currently have a mount.   I must count up how many of my characters do have mounts some time.  MistressDomino had a pink drake egg in her inventory, so she passed that over to SirPerivale, and Peri went to Lorraine and Jajan to get himself a brand-new "pink dragon" hatchling.  Actually, it's more of a pale mauve, and looks even cuter than the usual type.

For the main afternoon session, MistressDomina and MistressBlaze headed out into the Dratan uplands to visit the Sphinx types.  Two archers, both in the "gang" bathrobe-style costumes, were there when I arrived, Duendesa and xDigitalx, but they didn't stay very long.  After a while a level 50 rogue called "alinutz17" arrived, asking if I needed any help.  She vanished before long, but then returned, and joined the party with MD and MB, tempted by the idea of horse buffs, so that we were able to take on the Elite Sphinx Speer Man.  She left when she had to team up with a friend to level him a bit, but returned when he promptly had a disconnection... before having to leave herself, not long after.  Well, it did liven up the afternoon.

Not long before my food break, the team of Kopiteus and TheExecutter arrived, and went just round the corner to fight, but by then I'd just about achieved what I'd set out to do, to make up for having to do a Combat party yesterday.  MistressBlaze has now caught up with MistressDomina, percentage-wise, so that they are both 57% of the way through their respective levels.  MD added 14.65%, and MB added 43.99%; they each gained 4 skill points, and MD's drake gained 1143 pet points.

Over the food break Peri's new hatchling had its first outing, reaching level 3 - which meant it automatically learnt its first social skill, Roar.  I later had it taught the others by asking the Animal Trainer, when I got the first couple of levels of Armour Increase. By that time its Sympathy had moved up from 50% to 65%.  I noticed that the nearest other pet-trainer, a red-named knight called PrimarySlave, who tends to fight a Bandit right back in the corner, had, as they are protective of each other, managed to collect four of them, but was still standing.  They probably only hit for 1 each, which a knight can easily deal with.

For the evening, JohnWellington and Galahad headed for Prokion Temple; the back room was occupied on both Auzura-3 and Auzura-4, so we ended up in what I call the "corridor room" that I go through on the way there, on Auzura-4 - though Ratel takes a different, slightly shorter route I think.  As neither Gal nor John kills as quickly as one of my mages, there were enough Orc Sergeants around to keep us going, with occasional raids on the Orc Axemen at either end.  Ratel himself was sp-farming out in the desert, and managed to finish getting all 110 skill points he needed for level four of his level 50 temple knight passive skill, Weapon Perfection, each level of which adds 24 to his physical attack.  I checked the Wet Paint Last Chaos wiki, and had to break it to him that level five would need 360 more sp.  I think he's going to pass on that one for the moment, with the idea of doing some lucrative drop and sp farming on Bogles later.

To that end, he wants to move Ratel on to around level 62, so as a first step towards that we have arranged for Ratel, MrChuckNorris and MistressDomina to try for a nice long session in the Tomb of Theos tomorrow evening, using a blessed iris each.  Chuck and Rage managed that kind of session, and I had been wondering if MD could replace Rage in that sort of team-up; with MD being lower-level than Rage was, having Ratel along seems to make the idea viable right away.

Ratel mentioned that he had got a couple of the more expensive platinum blessed irises, but was saving them to be used as incentives, as he's hoping to get a couple more mounts for his characters, with levelling provided by Peri and Cap... but he was forgetting that his own Leopardknight will soon be able to do that duty.  Phew...

Anyway, JohnWellington added 20.31% experience, 230 guild points and 114 skill points, while Galahad, who had arrived first, clocked up 15.18% experience, 248 guild points, and 119 skill points.  I was surprised that John's +10 armour was good enough to very nearly stop him taking any damage from the Orcs - better than the mage, or particularly the healer, equivalent, then.  He did use the Stone Skin self-buff most of the time to increase his defence; after an application or two, rebuffing would bring up the well-known sorcerer bug of making him invisible, just leaving his name and guild floating in the air.  The next rebuff would make him visible again, and the one after that invisible, and so on.

I had intended to try to move all the recent loot across to MistressDomino, who hasn't done any selling for weeks now, and maybe do a little shopping on Auzura-1, but Chuck got talking to a fan - well, a new player, ThePatropt, who was a bit of a fan of the real Chuck Norris.  So I was trying to give some advice, and showing him where healer Yabo was for those first two quests... he's added to Chuck's Friends list, but I don't know if he'll stick around, apparently his newer computer is broken at the moment, so he needed a game that the older one could handle.

And then it was time to log the playing characters out, and log SirPerivale and CaptainScarlet in again.  Cap continued to make slightly slow progress through level 34; Peri is moving the new pink dragon hatchling rather more quickly, which isn't surprising as a level that needs 846 pet points tends to get finished a while before a 11,237 pet points one.

Last night's maintenance didn't add anything new, so we can't really blame that for this morning's downtime.  I guess it's pretty good that, even at three in the morning their time, they do have people who can respond to such emergencies and get the World of Iris rolling again.

Server Crash II - September 3rd

SirPerivale tried another overnight pet-levelling session with his new pink dragon hatchling, but the computer decided that it desperately needed to install a new Microsoft update or two in the early hours, and have a restart, so some time was lost before I discovered that and was able to send Peri back to Merac.  Still, by coffee time the hatchling had reached level 12, while CaptainScarlet, who had rejoined the fray before breakfast, had by then got his horse 60% of the way through level 34.

As I was hard at work downstairs, Peri and Cap kept going throughout the morning, so by the time the lunch break was over, the hatchling was safely into level 14... but once again there was a suspicious lack of numbers floating up from the Berserkers' heads, and I noticed that on Peri's screen Cap appeared not to be fighting but just standing there, even if on his own screen he was apparently still in action.

So, it was another server crash for Auzura, though this time it seems that all the other servers kept up.  The two accounts that had been busy pet-levelling were again locked out, but I switched over first of all to Enchantrella on Cariae, to make sure that she hadn't died yesterday. Her health was too high for a death, so all was well there - though I didn't feel like taking her back to Prokion Temple, in case yesterday's history repeated itself and Cariae crashed again while I was fighting Orcs.

The Katar version of my archer Barbarienne signed in, therefore, and by battling berserk wolves and dire wolves managed to get up from level 6 to level 8, while I kept an eye on the ShoutBox for news.  As usual a lot of people were concerned to find the "account already logged in" message, and had to be reassured that it was "just" a server crash.  The GameSage dinosue2 kept matters under control, while Aeria's Kelrya again put in a ShoutBox appearance or two.  It may have been early in the morning for the technical people over on the US West Coast, but at least it wasn't quite as early as yesterday.

Finally at about a quarter to three, UK time, Auzura got rebooted, and I was able to send JohnWellington along to Auzura-4's Prokion Temple, swiftly followed by Galahad.  I didn't make it a long session, though, keeping in mind that the evening was liable to be a bit of a marathon, and logged off early; John had added 6.13%, 41 skill points, and 69 guild points, while Gal had added 4.34%, 40 skill points, and 71 guild points.  Just another 570 guild points now, and Discipline will be able to learn an "expension of the guild" skill, to increase its maximum number of members by five.  Not that that's exactly vital, but hey, it's the next guild thing to do.

CaptainScarlet logged back in for some pet-levelling, after Chuck stocked up on medium mana potions; I didn't restart Last Chaos on the older computer, though, as an anti-virus scan was under way, and it moves along a heck of a lot faster if LC isn't running.  Cap did open a Pandora's Box that appeared close to him, and got five Magical Attack minerals. And before the end of the usual food break, his pale blue horse reached level 35.

MistressDomina logged in, and Kaerella logged in beside her, to pass over some crit pots and other useful stuff.  She also sent MD an item mall "30 Day package", so that for the next thirty days MD will have a party recall card, and also a card that, if she clicks it, will very possibly allow her to see the health percentage of people not in the party.  Oh, and four 7-day potions to increase MD's maximum health and mana levels.

Kae logged out after that - and so did MistressDomina, briefly, as otherwise the flashing "gift parcel" animation, which alerts one to the arrival of a gift from another player, tends to return as soon as one teleports to another area.  MrChuckNorris logged in on the older computer in Kae's place, and Ratel, who had been doing some farming on his level 20 sorcerer Elvastar in the Juno map, moved to join us on Auzura-4.

We met at the entrance to the Tomb of Theos, and I told Ratel that I'd got recall, but he still absent-mindedly paid the fee to enter.  I at least saved having to pay to get Chuck in, using my recall card for that.

We didn't really start off very well - Ratty used his teleport skill to bring in a level 100 Screaming Zombie, and I think it was on that very first one that he died.  Another group were in action there, including Duendesa, and luckily a kindly rogue helped us out by using Snare on our targets a bit.  We had both started a blessed iris and a 3-hour 30% elixir (well, MD and Ratty had, I never got round to setting Chuck up that way), so we were in it for the long haul, but the conditions of the Tomb seemed pretty harsh.

MistressDomina had started one of the 7-day health and mana increasers, which was just as well, as she often got down to pretty low health, especially early on.  She also started a crit potion, to greatly increase the number of "critical hits" she made on the zombies, and before long Chuck started one as well.  They certainly helped, and we also got into the rhythm of things, with MD using Curse to attract the zombie, then retreating, while I got Chuck onto the target, and Ratel used his Shield Stun, followed immediately by Shield Stun 2.  Once the timer of Shield Stun 2 was down to its final seconds, Chuck would use Smite.  And hopefully the stuns would continue, with MistressDomina retreating, spamming Terra Spear as much as possible, using health potions, and if necessary standing by the wall.

Eventually the other group left, and we had the place to ourselves - until a level 51 witch called XDarkMagician appeared, and attempted to solo kill a Screaming Zombie.   She did ask to join our party, but Ratel was adamant that we couldn't expand the party, as that would dilute the experience that the blessed iris and the experience elixir multiplied.  It might have been better if we had let her in, as it was she either died or gave up, and while we were fighting our own zombie, the one she'd lured also came back and attacked us.  Both MD and Chuck died in the confusion, so that was two resurrection scrolls used up - but Ratel was able to keep fighting at least one of them, so we'd get the experience from it, and it dropped a heaven stone for me, which subsidises the cost of a pair of res scrolls quite well.

We did keep going for the whole three hours; with the late start to the first one-hour crit potions for both Chuck and MD, and a gap before I started second ones for them, it was not quite worth starting third ones, but the lack of the greatly increased number of critical hits did slow us down towards the end, and Ratel wondered what had happened, until I explained.  Next time perhaps all three of us will use three each, and really get moving.

At his higher level (61), Chuck just added 25.14% over the three hours, but, with the 130% boost from the iris and the elixir, MistressDomina added 122.99%, getting her well into level 54, and Ratel, a level lower, did even better; the Tomb isn't, at that sort of level, the place to come to for skill points, and we didn't get any, but Chuck's drake added 1066 pet points, and MD's added 1135.

Ratel decided to go to the outdoor Sphinx types for a few minutes before logging out, and MistressDomina joined him there - as did MistressBlaze, after Chuck logged out.  With Ratel on level 53 and MB on 43, a Combat party was still just possible, and Ratel changed it to that when I suggested he could, but I'm not sure it did him any favours.  A temple knight and a wizard make a great team, with his stuns, buffs and armour and her powerful attack, but the way experience is allocated in a Combat party depends, apart from the bonus for just being there. on the amount of damage done, it doesn't take into account the importance of stuns.

Still, Ratel soon decided that it was time to log out, as his eyes were starting to hurt, and I didn't stay much longer, once the buffs he'd left me with had expired.  The few minutes there did add 3.93% for MD, plus a skill point and 185 pet points, while MistressBlaze went up by 5.75%; the last few minutes were in an Equal party.

It was time to set up CaptainScarlet and SirPerivale to pet-level once more, but there was a bit of a scare at just before ten o'clock, UK time, when once again there were no numbers rising above heads, and each screen showed the other character just standing there.  Occasionally a number would appear, but after a couple of minutes the "disconnected" window popped up.  The ShoutBox did show that other people were having lag problems, but, although I did get "unable to connect to server", "account already logged in", and Peri's first reconnection got him into a Randol with only people and NPCs in the central area, followed by another disconnection, before long I did get both Cap and Peri back to work, and some people in merchant mode survived the problem, at least. And then at 10:25 the same symptoms returned, sigh, though an actual "disconnected" window is better than just standing there I guess.  I got back in, though if there are any further disconnections, that will be the lot for tonight.  It's just lucky that this didn't happen while we were in the Tomb of Theos...

Server Crash III: The Big One - September 4th

I had been intending to leave SirPerivale pet-levelling overnight, but just as I was about to do so, an announcement came up that the Auzura server was going to be taken down for maintenance for an hour or so, starting in fifteen minutes, which meant that logging out was my only option.  Apparently this was "due to a zombie attack on our Auzura server compound" - nice of them to take the trouble to give us the technical details.  I did hope that whatever the "black ops teams" they sent in to "correct the damage done by the undead" managed to do stopped us from having any more server crashes for a while, but sadly that was not to be.

Today was always going to be one of my busy days, so SirPerivale and CaptainScarlet had plenty of time to continue their pet-levelling efforts, starting before breakfast and continuing past lunchtime.  Peri's pink dragon hatchling reached level 16 soon after breakfast, turning into the slightly larger drake version, just as a cute little pony turns into a horse then.  The next milestone is reaching level 31, when a drake or horse can be turned into a mount, and then level 37, when a horse can have its attack and defence enhancing buffs both maximised.  The situation with a dragon mount is less clear-cut, as there are a number of relatively useful skills to choose from, but 37 is a pretty good level there too.

There were a couple of Pandora's Boxes nearby in the morning that Peri risked opening, once Cap had moved to a safe distance; the first one just released a level 30 type Pandora's Beast, which Peri dealt with easily, but the second released the level 50 type - so Peri quickly vanished, and MistressDomina rode down to deal with it, getting 88,000 gold dropped for her trouble.

Back in Randol, MD took the opportunity to check if she could learn any new skills - and found that level six of Flame Field was available, for 250 skill points, increasing its "power", the multiplier for a normal weapon hit, from 180% to 210%, which may not seem much, but it will work on up to five foes if they are close enough together.  It's not a skill I have used, as it seems inferior to Flame Storm, which on its top (fourth) level has 260 power, apparently doesn't need the foes to be quite as close together, and uses a lot less mana, but if I do get to a stage when I'm attacking mobs of high-level critters it might well be useful to alternate the two.

My "busy morning" was actually pretty fruitless, as the delivery I was expecting didn't come in - instead, it looks as if I'll be having a busy Saturday, sigh.  Still, that did at least mean I was able to do some LC playing this afternoon.

MistressDomina and MistressBlaze headed for the Sphinx types in Dratan's sunny uplands, and MD started a seven-hour elixir just on two o'clock, with a view to using the last three hours of it in the Tomb in the evening.  Things were pretty quiet out there on Auzura-4; a blue-named knight called Visible arrived, killed an Elite Sphinx Speer Man, gathered and killed a gang or two of Speer Men and Fighters, and then rode off; later on MTGOW1 teleported in, and was doing pretty well against the Elite Sphinx Speer Man, though the necessary tactics included a lot of running away.

I kept going until a little after four.  MistressBlaze levelled up to 44, just ahead of MistressDomina levelling up to 55; MD had added 15.57%, 4 skill points and the usual sort of number of pet points, while MB had gained 39.24% and 5 skill points.  There is a level 44 skill that MB may well learn, Freeze Arrow, but she won't have enough stat points in Intelligence for it until she reaches level 46, since she had to put some points in Dexterity and Constitution for Terra Spear and various passive skills.

There hadn't been any mention of the usual Friday afternoon "Happy Hour", and the "Events" calendar on the Last Chaos website doesn't list one, which is strange - next week it does say we'll have an extra 50% experience gain, though. When I logged in SirPerivale for the usual bit of pet-levelling, after the end of my afternoon session, Elvastar commented on the lack of any event, before switching over to Ratel.  I logged in CaptainScarlet as well, taking the opportunity to add Ratel to Cap's Friends list, and left my dynamic duo hard at work.

And then, the next time I checked on the computers, the servers had crashed again, for the third day running as far as Auzura is concerned.  I did manage to get Peri back into Randol, but as soon as he moved away from the town centre towards the teleporter, the place was empty, and I disconnected again - another attempt at least had the teleporter NPC visible, but Peri disconnected just as he approached her.  Cap managed to get in next, and saw Peri still apparently standing at the spawning point, which would explain an "account is already logged in" type of message.  As you can imagine, the forum ShoutBox was getting pretty hectic.

"The servers are fine, we have always been at war with Oceania", GM OgreKing commented, as if it was still 1984.  It wasn't too long before things did seem to settle down, and Peri and Cap both made it back to the Berserkers... only to be disconnected about 50 pet points later.  At this rate I'll soon need to buy some more memory scrolls, which I use to teleport me to the Berserker clearing.

During that brief return to normality I said to Ratel that we really shouldn't risk going to the Tomb, and using expensive potions, until the server had had time to prove that it was stable again, and he agreed - also warning me about a sorcerer he had just recruited to the guild.  He rather feared he had made a mistake, as the sorc had immediately tried to "borrow" a mount, so could well be a scammer/thief.

The downtime continued - and then I managed to log my level 2 mage MistressFelicia in, who's in charge of carrying armour sets that aren't in use, with a view to transferring the level 60 gloves and level 61 shirt and pants, from the set that Chuck got for reaching level 60, over to MistressDomina.  I couldn't, however, get MD online to trade with her, it was still the "timed out" message at every attempt.  There were only five other people in Randol and Juno, as far as I could see, one of them a low-level sorcerer who was also killing a few foxes, and the others just people standing around in town.

So for a while MistressFelicia happily killed foxes and deer, and then wolves, for Healer Yabo's quests, and got 81.14% of the way through level 4 before at last being disconnected, after a few unsuccessful attempts to pick up the latest 3 gold that a fox had dropped.  Whether she will keep that experience gain, not to mention a fox tail, a hand of bravery, and a pan flute, when the servers are up again, I couldn't begin to speculate.

So, whatever last night's maintenance did to the Auzura server, it wasn't enough - though as I understand it, it wasn't just the Last Chaos servers that were affected, Aeria's other server-based games, such as Shaiya and Wolf Team, were also offline.  But "it appears that we underestimated the volume of interest that would be generated from PAX", GM SupermanOX put in a forum post - that being a reference to the Penny Arcade Expo, which is currently running in Seattle.  And Aeria_ks1lent, commenting on and locking a forum thread putting forward the view that Aeria would do well to invest some of the money they get from ap-buyers in obtaining better server equipment, said "the current issues have nothing to do with the LC servers"...which does seem logical if the other Aeria games are involved as well.

So, the downtime continued right through the evening, reaching my normal log-out time.  Maybe it will be possible to log in for a bit of pet-levelling later, but I'm not holding my breath.

Day Four: This Time It's Personal - September 5th

SirPerivale and CaptainScarlet were able to get back into Last Chaos towards the end of yesterday evening, and settle down to a little late-night pet-levelling... but the next time I checked, there had been another mass disconnection, and once again the forum ShoutBox was rather full of annoyed would-be players, GameSages spamming reassuring "thank you for your patience" messages, and the occasional harassed Games Master.

So, both computers got a nice night's rest, before the usual early start on the Saturday morning.  The ShoutBox seemed quiet, so Peri and Cap risked the trip back to Merac and, thankfully, were able to start their work.

Ratel got in touch in the morning, and we were discussing whether it would be safe to put in another three-hour stint in the Tomb of Theos today.  We came to the conclusion that, if the problem was based on Aeria sharing their broadband access with the current "Penny Arcade Expo" convention, or "PAX", then since that was in Seattle, any problems would be later in the day when the US had woken up, so an afternoon trip would be safe enough again, just as MistressDomina and MistressBlaze had farmed the Sphinx types yesterday without problems - that was my big mistake.

So, after lunch MistressDomina logged in, and got her next armour pieces from MistressFelicia, who had managed to retain all her loot and experience from her fox-fighting adventures, then got the titan pieces changed into their mage equivalents and upgraded to her usual levels.  The gloves she could wear at once, though she was a whole level away from being able to put on the shirt and skirt.

Chuck had logged in too, ready, but Ratel, when contacted, informed me that he was already in the Tomb with the archer "Tanger", or "TangerificHeals", so Chuck wasn't required.  So Chuck logged out, and CaptainScarlet went back to some pet-levelling.

MistressDomina entered the Tomb, where Tanger and Ratel were fighting a Screaming Zombie - actually, Ratel seemed to be doing all the fighting.  I stood politely waiting to be invited into the party, until Ratty asked for help, and so I started to use Terra Spear on the Zombie and we soon finished it.

Looking back I think Tanger must have been having lag problems even then, but innocently Ratel and I both started Blessed Irises and the 3-hour elixirs for that extra 30% experience gain; I started a large crit pot too, and gave one to Ratel to try as well, reasoning that if it increased the damage he could do, I'd benefit as much as he did.

We did manage to kill a few Zombies, but before long Tanger vanished - so Chuck did get the call-up to join us.  Luckily I didn't start any pots on him though.  Soon it was MD's turn to lag out, though fortunately not when she was in battle, though Chuck and Ratel both remained unaffected.

Since we did have the expensive pots running, and, well, surely it was too early in the (US) day for anything bad to happen, MistressDomina went back again - it's lucky that admission to the Tomb is set to a bargain rate of 1.4k gold per level, instead of the more usual 3k.  But this time her luck ran out, and a massive lag spike hit her mid-battle, so that, while Ratel was frantically urging her to run for it, and as far as MD's screen was concerned she was safely against a wall with about 300 health left, Chuck's screen showed her slumped dead in the middle of the corridor.

Strangely, the disconnection wasn't quite complete, as after a while the window with the option to use the resurrection scroll popped up, but despite hitting the "yes" button and opting for the nearest spawn point, it never actually worked, and in the end I had to log her out.  Her stats window already showed that she had lost over 500 skill points...up 7.88% on the experience front, plus a few pet points, but down by 509 skill points - which works out at 2% of what had been her total number of unused skill points.

A forum thread says "it appears we underestimated the volume of interest that would be generated from PAX", which seems a bit of an understatement.  I thought initially that Aeria must be having massive success with inviting people there to try out the game, but it seems that someone in Aeria had got greedy, and hired out Aeria's bandwidth to PAX, so that there wasn't enough bandwidth left for us loyal players - or maybe they genuinely thought PAX's usage would be too tiny to affect us and were just doing PAX what they thought was a minor favour.  A bit of an "own goal" there by Aeria.  "We have experienced some strangeness with some of our games due to high load", indeed...

Various attempts to log back in didn't get very far - at one point SirDarth was standing right next to MD close to the teleporter in Randol, though she'd disconnected some minutes earlier.  And Darth disconnected as soon as he clicked on the teleporter.  An attempt to log in with Cap looked promising, in that Randol seemed to be occupied and there were still merchants there, but moving towards the teleporter, the place grew strangely empty, with the non-player characters missing, which is an infallible sign of a disconnection or "lag out".  The ShoutBox was as usual very busy.

When I checked later in the afternoon, UK time, Ratel was making use of his blessed iris and elixir in Egeha, fighting the baby Apes, which seemed a bit risky and expensive to me, but he assured me that "as long as I don't use teleport here, I'm fine."  I wish he had been able to use it in the Tomb when MD was dying!  As for me, I just logged Cap and Peri back on, and sent a "contact us" email to Aeria, to see if I could get back the pots wasted.  The response came through after only two or three hours:

Dear Player,

We are currently experiencing issues with our servers and we are sorry
for the inconvenience this has brought you. Since you have lost some
items, we have gifted you with the following:

1 MP Stealer, 1 HP Stealer and 1 Platinum Adrenaline.

We hope you enjoy the items and will work hard to ensure greater
stability in the future.

- Team Aeria

That does look like a "form letter" sent to anyone who complains, as the items aren't anything like as useful as what I lost, but it's a reasonable if impersonal gesture, I suppose.

The game continued to be "up" but with frequent disconnections, and it was often hard to get back in, with "timed out" or other error messages.  Once I logged in and only the Katar server was visible, but the attempt to start a first character on that account brought a couple of "timed out" messages at the creation stage, and then more when actually trying to start the character in the tutorial dungeon, followed by a black screen when the dungeon should have loaded for quite a while - the game was clearly still in all sorts of trouble.  My new knight did finally make it into the dungeon, and killed a few skeleton types...before being disconnected.  In the ShoutBox, GM SupermanOX was saying "Well, I am sure that there will be things learned from all of this, and that we will be reviewing how we host our services"...

It seemed pointless to keep on trying to connect, and even if I got in getting disconnected after a few minutes, so the bulk of the evening was spent playing Guild Wars, getting a couple of characters to the main mission hub in "Eye of the North", recruiting the hero Olias for one of them, and having a look round.  It's certainly a lot bigger than Last Chaos's few relatively cramped maps, and with more modern standards of texturing, with a huge variety of items... but LC retains its own charm, and the co-operative player-versus-environment side of Guild Wars seems to have faded right away.  If you want to do missions alongside other players, basically you are out of luck, which is hardly "massively multiplayer".

I did manage to log SirPerivale and CaptainScarlet back in at the end of the evening, but how long they'll remain in Merac this time, I have no idea...

A "Denial of Service" Attack - September 6th

My duo of pet-levellers didn't last long last night, as could perhaps have been expected.  I logged SirPerivale and CaptainScarlet back in at their normal bright-and-early time this morning, but again, they were plagued with lag, and disconnections followed after a few minutes.  I did try again a bit later, at around what would during the week be breakfast time, and they managed to keep going; by around nine in the morning, UK time, Peri's drake was a third of the way through level 21, while that pale blue horse that Cap has been working on was slowly approaching the half-way mark in level 36.

Normally, that is the final level, but I think it is about time I sold another horse, rather than just passing it on to one of my newly-levelled characters, so I'm thinking of going on until we reach level 38 this time, which would allow a mount to learn one extra skill, "horse crying".  It's not anything I've ever found useful, the ability to attract nearby monsters, but there are people who like to have it, or, from a different skill, a bit of extra health while riding.

The theory was that with any luck the lag would settle down while America is asleep - though that is what I thought yesterday, with disastrous consequences for MistressDomina's skill point total.

This morning I actually saw an in-game announcement: "ATTENTION: We are aware of the lag issues and DC's.  Please visit the forums for up to date information.  Thank you for your patience."  Not that there was much information on the forum, but, it shows willing.  That seemed to be the only GM-spam message in rotation.

After coffee, it was time to send Galahad and JohnWellington to Prokion Temple on Auzura-3, on the general feeling that their armour was strong enough to keep them alive during a disconnection, even if a number of Orcs kept bashing away on them.  John went first, and found, not surprisingly, that the back room was free, so Gal followed.  It wasn't long before John had a disconnection, though - things had suddenly gone very laggy for both characters, with items not being picked up and Orcs not being hit, though naturally the Orcs could still hit us.  Galahad survived, and, after the usual series of failures, I finally managed to log John back in, so that he was able to hurry back.  They both fought the Orc Sergeants and Orc Axemen there, and it went well - though Gal got a disconnection at a quarter to twelve, UK time, and, for a change, a few minutes later John got the old "run out of memory" error, so the session came to a slightly premature end.

Galahad had added 9.15% experience by then, and 150 guild points; JohnWellington got 12.90% and 145 guild points.  They got 87 skill points each, too.  On the guild point front, another dual session like that will be enough to get Discipline's total back up over 5000, enough for the "expension of the guild" skill.  Luckily that sort of guild skill doesn't require the guild master to sacrifice any skill points.

Ratel was happy, he had been doing really well on the Baby Apes in Egeha, and looked set to overtake MistressDomina soon, if he hadn't done so already.  He has had absolutely no problems in Egeha, getting plenty of gold from drops, and a useful shield for his future use.  Apparently the Grand Gold Dragon did show up at one point yesterday, unsurprisingly, but he was in a general "solo party", and a level 96 party member came across to deal with it.  At 11:30 this morning, my time, presumably an hour later for him, he was confident enough to start another three-hour Blessed Iris and 30% elixir.  He had sold all his heaven stones from last week's quiz at 3.5 million each, and spent the proceeds on three large crit potions, so the plan was to use them during his three hours, so that he cut through the Baby Apes like a knife through butter.  Indeed, at the end of the second hour he reported that he was on the 98% mark, and then levelled up shortly after.

So, plain sailing for Ratty, though my pet-levellers in Merac, which was probably just as quiet as he was finding Egeha, did continue to get disconnections every few minutes, despite of course not using any skills.  "2.3 mil accumulated so far, and eight armour pieces", he reported to Cap, soloing the Berserkers after Peri had another disconnection.  And soon after that Cap had another disconnection himself, and I gave up on Last Chaos - until the time for the regular weekly Quiz approached.  Would our connections last long enough, or would it all descend into chaos?

CaptainScarlet tried some pet-levelling in the evening, and disconnected before long; when I managed to get him logged back in eventually, he did manage to stick around for a while.  That was on the older computer, while on the Vista one I was busy in Guild Wars again, mainly cleaning out the Northlands in Pre-Searing - not that the four boss Charr dropped anything rare, but it gave my level 14 ranger a little more experience and some useful loot.

I logged Cap out at about 8:15, UK time, as it is always a good idea to restart the game before the Quiz - and couldn't get back in, timing out every time.  I couldn't log Kaerella in, either.  Restarting the game brought up the announcements, and for a change it wasn't just GM events and item mall bargains, we had "Network Issues" as the latest item, and following its link got us to a forum announcement, "Network Issues Explained", by Aeria_ks1lent, LC's product manager, saying in part:

"We first noticed a large influx of traffic early Friday (9/4/09). We attributed this traffic to our exposure at the PAX expo as outlined by Superman0X . The initial assumption proved to be false and the cause of these issues turned out to be malicious and targeted in nature. We began to suspect malicious intent early Saturday morning as the unusually concentrated traffic failed to abate. Our suspicions were confirmed this evening (9/5/09) when we received a threatening email and set of demands from the malicious individual who is behind the attacks on our servers. Before and subsequent to this discovery we have made a number of changes to our network infrastructure to mitigate the outages on Last Chaos. We continue to monitor the situation closely and make improvements to our security and network configurations. We will continue to work tirelessly to solve this issue and bring back Last Chaos to the stable game you have all come to know and love.

"With your support, we will overcome this obstacle. Last Chaos was one of the most popular and fast-growing MMORPGs before this attack and we will be even more successful after it. Prepare yourselves for the fanfare of events and fun that will begin upon the elimination of this current threat.

"See you in game!"

All of which puts a different complexion on things.  For a start, it gets rid of the "Ah well, once PAX is over everything will be back to normal" assumption, sigh... Some people in the ShoutBox were having a hard time believing it, but it makes a heck of a lot more sense than the idea of tens of thousands of people at the Penny Arcade Expo relinquishing their current games and all logging in to Last Chaos en masse, and thus overwhelming the servers.  Denial of service attacks, usually from the sinister "botnets" of infected computers, have usually been aimed at large commercial websites; they are sent so much traffic that they crash, and then the owners are told to pay up if they don't want more of the same.  To target a game like this seems especially nasty - it does seem that Last Chaos is the intended target, and any problems with Aeria's other games are just overspill.

Well, CaptainScarlet had got that pale blue horse almost three-quarters of the way through level 36 before he logged out; and about an hour later he finally managed to log back in.  There hadn't been a Quiz, which was just as well as most people wouldn't have managed to get there, and those that did would probably have disconnected halfway through.  SirPerivale logged in again too, and that's the situation at the moment, but with the situation as it is, I doubt if they'll stay there very long.  At the time of writing, Peri's drake is a little way short of level 22, and Cap's horse has just passed that three-quarters mark.

In The Fast Lane - September 7th

It looked as if Aeria were getting on top of their problems last night, or that the main wave of the "Denial of Service" attack was over; they had closed a couple of sub-servers on a couple of the servers, and everything seemed to have settled down, though it was too late for the regular Sunday Quiz, which they, sensibly, had cancelled.

My pet-levellers logged in, and managed to stay in; there was a Pandora's Box last thing, so MistressDomina had to be sent for.  I noticed that the remaining time on her crit potion had vanished - the Blessed Iris and 30% elixir potions would have finished anyway, as they go by real time, even when the character is not logged in.  I also noticed that the promised items to compensate for MD's losses hadn't arrived, though I checked all the servers in case they'd been sent to the wrong one - but by the morning they had arrived, as a "Spring: Winter Steal" package.

MD did get 72,000 gold from the Beast, and SirPerivale was able to log back in afterwards, and try an overnight pet-levelling session.  There was a disconnection about halfway through the night, however, so the computer did get some rest.

Peri and Cap restarted in the morning without any problems; Cap did manage to get the horse up to level 37, though this level, the final one for this particular pet, is liable to take fourteen or fifteen hours of playing time.  Peri's drake was well into level 24 by lunchtime, so about ready to be transferred over to Cap, once there is a vacancy.

There was an after-coffee session for JohnWellington and Galahad, in my favourite back room in Prokion Temple on Auzura-3, with no lag problems.  John went first, and once he'd found the room free, Gal went to join him. A mage called LoyalGuardianz, which sounds more like a guild than a person, did decide to join me for a while, with crit pot, mana and health stealers, and a pssp active.  Gal immediately warned that "this is a dangerous room", but she didn't reply. I don't know how high a level she was, but she wasn't yet in a 30/32 armour set, and when Galahad chivalrously gave her the Divine Shield buff, she reciprocated by giving both Gal and John a Haste buff - level one!  I don't think she died, or lagged out, but she left extremely suddenly.

JohnWellington got the "run out of memory" error a few minutes before we would have finished anyway, so we didn't quite manage to get Discipline up to 5000 guild points; he had added 9.54% by then, taking him into level 32 (which made the Orc Axemen blue-named for him as well as for Cap, and greatly reduced the experience they gave), 76 skill points, and 126 guild points.  Galahad added 7.86%, 75 skill points, and 128 guild points, before he too logged out.

Back in town, John was able to spend  851 skill points on level 32 skills, so that he is now able to transform himself into a red devil or a small-headed knight.  That ought to be fun, if I choose my opponents carefully - the knight has good defence but not-so-good attack, while the devil, they say, has a good attack but isn't too good armour-wise.

After the usual lunchtime pet-levelling, it was time, I decided, to give MistressDomina a bit of a boost, in level and morale, after that Tomb of Theos debacle.  I checked the Wet Paint Last Chaos wiki, and saw that the Elite Sphinx Speer Man, since he is elite, gives a quarter more experience than Ratel's Baby Apes.  I've seen plenty of other people speedily levelling using a platinum blessed iris for triple experience gain, plus individual experience boosters to quadruple that to twelve times the normal experience, so, as I'd started to "lag" behind Ratel, with his apparently smooth and effortless Ape-hunting in Egeha while it was all I could do to keep logging in my pet-levellers after disconnections, why not use some of my supply of the experience boosters too?

MistressDomina took MrChuckNorris with her to the Sphinx types for the afternoon, just to supply the Combat party boost - and over the two hours or so he added exactly 3.66% experience.  There was a group of people fighting the Elite and the others when we arrived, so MD just started off to one side, but it wasn't long before they left, so I moved across to the Elite Speer Man, started a pbi, and got to work.

The general routine, apart from re-applying horse buffs when needed, was to kill the Elite, then the near-end Sphinx Fighter, then the nearest Sphinx Speer Man, and then the Elite again, and so on.  Sometimes I had to wait a few seconds for the Elite Sphinx Speer Man to respawn, but generally it worked very well, with the removal of that one Speer Man keeping the Elite accessible.  And on the Elite, I'd use an experience booster, so that it gave on average over eight million experience.

By the end of the first hour MD had added 98.94% experience (and reclaimed 6 skill points), and reached level 56, allowing her to start wearing the shirt and skirt from the 60/62 armour set; I kept going, and somehow managed to get 102.54% in the second hour, taking MD into level 57.  That was a total of 201.48%, and 11 skill points, plus 1121 pet points.  MistressDomina could wear the level 62 boots and headgear now, but Chuck is still wearing them, until he can level up and put on the level 67 ones...still, that particular mage footwear is a sort of "bell-bottom chaps" affair, which looks a bit strange, so perhaps I don't mind MD waiting a bit. 

Stavanic had got in touch, wanting my help as, with only access to a rather old computer, the Auzura-1 Randol was a bit too busy for him to visit - what he wanted was an Extreme Stone, at the best price I could find up to 22 million.  I wasn't able to do that with my platinum blessed iris running, but luckily Chuck is still carrying some Extreme Stones after opening lots of upgrade boxes, so Steve was able to come out to visit me at the Sphinx types, and I sold him one for 14 million.  He also got Chuck to hold some items while he changed to GuildHealer; she took a little while to reach Chuck to take them, as she'd not got the exact location on her memory scroll yet and had to come from near the Tomb of Theos, but presumably it meant she could add the location for future use.

For the evening session, I went to Egeha.  It was MistressDomina, now on the older computer, who paid the 800,000 gold to travel there, and then she was able to use her Party Recall card to bring Chuck in.  The idea was that this time Chuck would be the one with the platinum blessed iris in the Combat party, with MD just standing within range to add that little extra boost.  So, it really had to be Bogles, which are still four levels above Chuck, since they are so passive.  MD could just stand anywhere in their area and be safely ignored, while Chuck did the farming.

The only trouble was that even with the pbi tripling Chuck's experience gain, the hour only brought in 15% experience.  I continued after that for a while, but it wasn't, obviously, going to be an evening for a "great leap forward" in Chuck's levelling.

Luckily Ratel had come online not long after I reached my favourite Bogle hill, and accepted my offer of a free trip to Egeha.  He didn't stay with the Bogles, which was just as well as there is only a limited supply of them - he headed for his pals the Baby Apes, while staying in the party, which worked well.  MD was able to put up Recall again as an "emergency exit", just click the "accept" button and any foe that thought it was about to kill you would be left pawing at thin air.

Ratel got a bit more ambitious later, which was probably something to do with reaching level 57; thanks to Rage, when she had a Party Recall card a while back, he had the Boucu Demon party location on his memory scroll, so he went there - and while he used an awful lot of pots and magic defence minerals, he was managing to kill them.

He mentioned that Chuck would gain experience more quickly there - so we decided to team up for the Boucu Demons, at least for the rest of Ratty's blessed iris.  MD stayed behind, moving to town and putting up the "emergency exit" recall - which we used twice, when a Skinwalker, a boss type that is protective of the Demons, got a little too close.  At least I used mine twice, Ratty was so used to the slower method of mounting his horse and clicking on "pet return to village" that he did that the first time.

The Boucu Demons' magic attack is a bit fierce, so that when Ratel's shield stun failed, we were in a bit of trouble.  Chuck had his "Smite" stun too, but it is a little buggy, so that even when it fails to work, its icon appears on the monster's bar, and it overwrites Ratel's stun.  Still, we survived, and as Chuck does carry a big sword, which does a minimum of 2000 damage there, normally if both of Ratty's shield stuns worked, the Demon would be dead by the time the second one ended.

We were in an Equal party, which was only fair as while Chuck may do more damage, Ratty is at the sharp end, and supplies the main buffs as well as the main stuns.  He even passed over a supply of level 3 magical defence minerals for Chuck to use. We went on for a little while after his blessed iris ended, but the second enforced trip back to town, leaving an angry Skinwalker behind, seemed like a good moment at which to end the evening's excitements.  Chuck had added at least another 12% there, rather more quickly and without any boosting potions; Chuck's total experience gain from the Egeha trip ended up at a very respectable 31.09%, plus 11 skill points, and 1250 pet points for his drake.  For her moral support MistressDomina had added 2.46%, and the same 11 skill points, since only a tiny amount of skill exp had come from the Demon trip.

After that, while Ratel did some shopping in Randol on Auzura-1, looking longingly at a "Tears of Knight" accessory at a comparatively reasonable 720 million, and buying a +5 level 61 weapon for 5.5 million, the most highly upgraded one he could find, it was time for me to log my pet-levellers in.  The pink drake that SirPerivale has been working on should reach level 25 by log-out time, while CaptainScarlet has got the pale blue horse more than a third of the way through level 37 now.

There continued to be in-game messages about the "lag issues and DC's", but I didn't have any problems today, thankfully.  Ratel did disconnect once while he was at the Baby Apes, but it was between fights, so there wasn't any problem and I was soon able to use Recall to get him back to Egeha.  Stavanic reported that he had disconnected once, and his young horse had died because of it.  But generally today we got off extremely lightly.

Back in the Slow Lane  - September 8th

SirPerivale and CaptainScarlet didn't make a particularly early start this morning, as I didn't wake up until the alarm went off - but once the computers were up and running, they went off to Merac and their usual Berserkers.  They had a full session right through until after lunch, as it was time for my big monthly food shop, so that by the time some actual playing was possible, Peri had got the pink, or mauve, drake up to level 26, and Cap had got his pale blue horse around 80% of the way through its final level.

The main priority at the moment is to get my titan, MrChuckNorris, up to level 62, with a second priority being to get MistressDomina up to level 60.  Then Chuck will be able to wear his new level 67 headgear and boots, and pass over his previous ones to MD so that she can complete her current set... and when she reaches level 60 MD will get a freebie 60/62 +5 set, which may well come in handy, though I'm not too keen on upgrading a second set to a more comfortable level, it gets expensive.

The afternoon session was a bit like yesterday's - except that MistressDomina and Chuck were in an Equal party, and MD wasn't using a pbi, or any other type of booster.  The assassin-rogue MonaLott was there for a while, and reached level 43; Chuck and I buffed her, and she sometimes supplied a Snare to keep the Elite Sphinx Speer Man still for me.  Then there was a level 29 titan called Rafael, who decided to unofficially team up with me for a while - it was lucky I wasn't using a pbi or anything, or that much "ks-ing" would have been a bit annoying, but one had to admire his enthusiasm.

The mage Nourc appeared a little later, of the Moon guild; to start with I assumed  she was sp-farming, since she was gathering and despatching large groups of the Sphinx Speer men and Sphinx Fighters, plus the Elite sometimes, but since she had to be at least level 70 as she was using that level's Chaos Nova skill, that didn't seem quite viable.  She told me after a while that she was trying to attract Kamira, which explained things...though if she is as high as level 77, which she may be, judging by her armour set, she is a bit high to get good drops from Kammy I'd have thought.

MonaLott did return towards the end of my session, this time with a fine array of expensive pots, meaning that she could attack bigger groups, but I think, just as I was logging out, that she did actually die, though with assassins it is hard to be sure as they have a "Death Motion" skill that looks the same.  In all MD added 11.63%, and 996 pet points, while Chuck got 8.15%; they each got 11 skill points.

My food break was fairly brief, since the Auzura "Mad Monster Spawn" was due at five o'clock, UK time.  GM Stratos seems to have trouble setting his alarm clock (that's 9:00 am in Aeria's time zone), since things didn't actually get under way until gone half past.  I sent my level 31 cleric Memree there soon after five, but after finding nothing happening, she went back to town, bought thirty healer-type hammers from Geres, and went out mining, to use up thirty tool aids, many got no doubt from previous MMS events.

The MMS did finally get going; Elvastar, Ratel's sorcerer, was there, and I saw MonaLott too, still with those expensive pots active, and of course plenty of other people.  As usual we didn't get the place cleared out quickly enough to get any heaven stones spawned for us, but Memree did pick up 17 more tool aids, 11 large attack potions, 9 large defence potions, 6 item drop boosters, and 8 skill point boosters... perhaps roughly 25 million's worth of stuff?  Elva reported that he died rather often, though, curiously, Memree didn't die at all for a change, and added a little over 2% experience, and even a skill point - not from the level 130 types, but from the regular monsters there such as the level 27 Blood Wolves.

Captain Scarlet had been pet-levelling while Memree was at the MMS, and finally got the pale blue horse to level 38.  So I was able to transfer it across to MistressDomino, my recently much under-used merchant character.  Memree traded 750 of her newly-mined quality stones across to Cap, and then Cap traded a blue pan flute across to SirPerivale, in exchange for the level 26 (and 833/5639) pink drake.  Peri then did the quest, if one can call it that, to turn the blue pan flute into a blue pony - and then headed out to Prokion Temple, to lose the 59.76% experience he had got from his work levelling Leo.  Thirty deaths didn't take long there, and with other people not picking up their gold drops, he was able to get a bit of cash too in between deaths.

I had a little work to get through after that, which meant that MD and Chuck only had about a 90-minute session back with the Sphinx types.  I did have slight hopes that using a 30% experience boosting elixir for an hour might get Chuck up to level 62, but we ended with him still 2.32% short.  He did manage to add another 7.48%, so I'd say another 40 minutes of that type of party are needed.  MD added 8.88%, and on the skill point side they each added, um, 8, strangely enough.  MD's drake got 907 more pet points.

So, we are within striking distance of Chuck's new level, and after that we can return to moving MistressDomina up a bit, and hopefully getting her to level sixty before too long.  The usual weekly maintenance is due for 1:00am, UK time, so no overnight pet-levelling is possible, but Cap and Peri can at least put in their usual couple of hours.  That won't get the drake to 27, but the new pony should at least reach level 3.

Steve's healer, GuildHealer, was in a solo party with Cap for a while; she went to the Sphinx types at level 29, and seemed surprised that she got killed.  Still, Steve being Steve, he got her up to level 31 there, and then headed back to town to choose her job, cleric or archer.  I was chiding him for not farming skill exp in Prokion Temple while he could, but he would rather farm it on the level 65 Bogles, apparently.  A shame that we can't freeze experience gain completely now, at 50% freeze he won't be Bogle-compatible for all that long.

It looks as if the "Denial of Service" attack is over for now; after all, if you threaten a company with crashing its servers, you don't just need to demonstrate what you can do, you need to show that you can stop doing it if you want to, as well.  We can hope that it was just some hacker who was annoyed at getting his account banned or something, and now feels that he has proved his point - but the odds are that what we went through over the last few days could easily recur

The Hacker Strikes Back  - September 9th

The two pet-levelling knights got an early start this morning, so that by coffee time the new pale blue pony, in SirPerivale's charge, had reached level 6, and its Sympathy, starting from 50%, had maxxed out.  CaptainScarlet had got the pink drake up to level 27 as well; I am still not quite sure what to do with that one, probably it will be taken to a fairly high level, and then there'll be some trading around between characters so that quite a few of my fighters end up with a drake a level or two higher than the one they had before.

After coffee it was time for Galahad and JohnWellington to go to Prokion Temple again.  John went first; the Auzura-3 room was occupied, so he moved across to Auzura-4, and for a change found the place emptier, and the room available, so he started fighting, while Gal logged in and hurried to join him.  Things were pretty straightforward, though again John's older computer did "run out of memory" a few minutes before, ideally, I'd have logged off.  This tends only to happen when John takes part in the fighting, not if he stays in a corner and leaves all that to Gal.  It was lucky that I'd moved to Auzura-4, as when I went to the party-making screen to get John and Gal together, Ratel was also on the list, so we provided him with the solo party he needed.

JohnWellington had added 9.31% by lunchtime, along with 73 skill points and 127 guild points; Galahad managed 8.33%, plus 82 skill points, as he stayed a bit longer, and 136 guild points... so the Discipline guild is nicely over the 5000 guild point figure now.  After that it was time for the pet-levellers to return, though changing over one at a time meant that the solo party with Ratel could be continued.

For the afternoon, MistressDomina and MrChuckNorris went out to the grassy south-western uplands of Dratan, where the Sphinx Fighters, Sphinx Speer Men, and the Elite Sphinx Speer Man hang out.  The first item on the agenda was to get Chuck that last 3% he needed to reach level 62 - and that was managed, in about the 40 minutes that I'd estimated.  I then changed the party to Combat, and checked with Ratel, still with us, that the change didn't alter the amount of experience and skill exp he was getting.  He assured me that things were unchanged for him, so I went ahead and let MistressDomina start a platinum blessed iris, for triple experience... and once again she used an individual experience booster on each Elite Sphinx Speer Man - 41 in all, though the pbi annoyingly ran out just a second before that 41st Elite finally died.

It was a hectic hour, but luckily I didn't get any interruptions (except for a specialist sorcerer called Gener4L0maR, who only killed two Sphinx Fighters and then left), and MD did manage to level up once more, reaching level 58.  MD's total experience gain for the afternoon was 91.40%, along with 863 pet points; Chuck added 3.75%, most of it before we switched the party type, while they also got 10 skill points each.

I stopped for my food break a bit earlier than usual, putting the pet-levellers back into action, since the start of 24 hours of double skill exp was due at five, UK time.  A knight called KocsonyaHUN said "hi", and SirPerivale replied - and then he killed CaptainScarlet's Berserker, presumably since he hadn't responded, leaving Peri's alone.  Cap just started fighting the Berserker again when it respawned, but the knight killed that one too.  "Please don't ks", Cap said mildly, and then, when he did it for a third time, "You can get into trouble for harassment" - which may be over-stating the case, but seemed to work.

For the double skill exp it seemed sensible to send a party to Prokion Temple again; since SirDarth really needs more than double sp (so is carrying a few platinum super skill pills ready), it really came down to JohnWellington and Galahad again, so John headed there, and Gal swiftly joined him, settling in for an evening of fun, frolics and frivolity.   Or orc-bashing, anyway.

Unfortunately the "Denial of Service" attacker made a comeback, and things got decidedly laggy at times.  Other people suffered more than me, and other servers had more problems than Auzura, but I got disconnected at about 5:56, 6:50, and 7:45, UK time.  Luckily the orcs can't do any damage to Gal, and very little to John, in such a situation.  The second time I wasn't alone in the room, an archer called Airik0 and a mage called jusTme, teamed up, were there too, but they didn't return after the disconnection - since they were relying on healing, they may have died.  When the third d/c rolled up, John was taking a rest in a corner, and, by not doing anything, managed to stay in-game - it was a "soft" type of disconnection, rather than the server breaking and having to restart, and people just standing or sitting around tended to survive it.

A message came up from the GMs, "Attention: We are currently experiencing network issues.  Please visit the forums for more details.  Avoid using pots/boosters/etc until the all clear is sounded."  Aeria_ks1lent kept the forum updated, with at 7:15 "Hatzring 1/3 is back down. We aren't sure why or if it's related to the attacks from before. Stay tuned for more updates shortly" followed half an hour later by "We are under attack again. Please stay tuned for more information" and at 8:25 "Hatzring 1/3 and Katar 5/6 are currently unavailable. All other servers are stable. I will update this post when these subservers are ready to come back up."  There was also a more general new forum post:

Dear Community Members,

On Friday 9/4/09 Aeria Games experienced a massive increase in internet traffic causing slowness and disconnections for several of our North American games. After further investigation, we have concluded that this was an intentional malicious attack to part of our worldwide network (DDoS) by a former Last Chaos player who was banned for cheating. Rest assured that during and after the attack, no security was compromised.

As a company, we constantly strive to deliver exceptional personalized service and are doing the following to address this issue:

(1) Collaborating with our internet service partners to minimize the impact of this type of network attack;

(2) Working with authorities to track down and fully prosecute the responsible person(s);

(3) Responding to all inquiries in regards to lost items;

(4) Coordinating a “Community Extravaganza” filled with fun events throughout all games starting on Thursday, 9/10/2009 and running throughout the weekend.

We would like to thank you, our loyal players, for your continued patience and understanding. If you experienced difficulties during this period, please contact us.

Anyway, I was able to play on, with just the minor interruptions of relogging and returning to Prokion Temple.  Ratel had been in Egeha when he got the first disconnection, luckily not fighting at that moment, but he still didn't get full value for the 800,000 gold he paid to get there.  He switched to a less vulnerable character when things started to get unstable, which was probably sensible.  He had moved around a bit during the day, finding the level 59 arcane golems better to fight than the level 57 masters of secret technique, who were much too interested in eating his pet.  In Egeha the Bogles gave reasonable skill exp, particularly with the double skill exp running, but he is finding the slog to get 360 sp together for the top level of his current skill a bit dispiriting.

By the end of the evening, JohnWellington had added another 24.04% on top of the morning session's figure, plus 359 skill points and 328 guild points, while Galahad had added 20.16%, 353 skill points and 330 guild points.  So, some useful progress there.  I guess they will continue tomorrow, as long as the double skill exp lasts.  And after that, what else have our Aeria chums got planned...and, more importantly, what has that dastardly hack-attacker got in mind?

With any luck, Peri's pony should be near the top of level 10 by log-out time, with Cap's drake getting fairly near to the top of level 27 as well.

The Big Race  - September 10th

I couldn't do any overnight pet-levelling as the computer was ready to install some updates, so would probably have decided to do it automatically, complete with a restart, if I'd left things running. CaptainScarlet and SirPerivale had a fairly early start to their pet-levelling activities today, however, but shortly before coffee they gracefully stood aside to let JohnWellington and Galahad head for Prokion Temple on Auzura-4, to make some more use of our 24 hours of double skill exp, scheduled to run until five o'clock this evening, UK time.

I was uninterrupted there; well the rogue Missue did run in, see that Galahad had things under control, and run out again.  John arrived after Gal, and left very slightly before him, but he managed to add 10.68% experience, 164 skill points, and 145 guild points, while Galahad's figures were 9.83%, 182 skill points, and 161 guild points.

Peri and Cap were back on over lunch, so that Peri's pony was moving through level 13, and Cap's drake was well into level 28.  Peri kept busy all afternoon, allowing the pony to move through level 14 and reach 15 over the food break, but the newer computer had other things in mind -- such as a switch across to the Cariae server.

I'd not played my level 47 cleric Kaerella on the Cariae server seriously for many months, apart from doing a quest that I'd at last found out how to manage; when last seen she had been farming skill points from the level 46 Beast Flyers on level three of Maargadum Jail in Merac, and using pssps to get not much above 100 skill points per hour, as far as I can remember.  But that was before the "100% experience freeze" was abolished, so now it was time to move on, and with the double skill exp still running, at least I could get some more sp along the way.

Kae had stopped just short of levelling up when she got "frozen", with just 3.38% to go for her new level.  It did actually take quite a while to get there, but when Kae levelled up to 48, she had added 113 skill points - since the Beast Flyers gave 1980 skill exp each, that meant over 550 kills, but the useful thing about the Beast Flyers is that they do flock in to be killed, so no time is wasted.  Even with her +13 armour set, though, some self-healing was needed now.

Soon after levelling up Kaerella headed down to level five of the Jail, going very carefully through the lethal-if-roused, claustrophobic level four, and killed a few of the Death Mask Soldiers, since they were a level higher than the Flyers.  But soon it was approaching time to log out, and I noticed that another member of the general "solo party" I'd joined, a level 42 rogue called waiyung, who was also in the Jail (I could tell as I could see her health bar changing, which you can only do if you are on the same local map), was very low on health, so I started back up the stairs to see where she was.  She had recovered a bit by the time I got to her on level two, and was sitting to regain her health more quickly, so I just gave her a couple of Quick Heals as I passed, to speed the process up.

Back in Merac village Kae had a new quest, which involved a ride out to the Pillar of Magic, adding another 0.40% experience, so that her total for the afternoon was 4.34%, 542 guild points (not that the Cariae Norcaine is short of them), and 132 skill points.  I can't say that I'm quite sure what Kaerella ought to do next - perhaps try out the level 52 Giants in Dratan's north-west desert, where she would at least be able to use horse buffs.

GM Stratos was scheduled to preside over some water-races at five o'clock UK time, in the moat around the city of Randol on Auzura-3, but since that is 9:00 am where he is, we can forgive him for being twenty minutes late.  There were three races in all; not knowing what to expect, but suspecting that hungry sea-monsters might be involved, I turned up as a level two rogue, RedRider, for the first one - well, she was level four by the time things started, with Healer Yabo's quests involving killing deer and foxes completed.  A character that low-level doesn't lose experience if killed.  As most racers were on mounts, Red didn't have a chance of winning, but it was fun to watch the race - though after a turn or two, the moat became so narrow and steeply V-shaped that the pedestrians (or "ped_estrians", as the word "pede" is apparently a naughty word that LC's chat filter bans) had great difficulty getting through, so I didn't actually see the finish.

SirDarth has a mount, so he tried in the second race, and was doing pretty well until the narrow bit, where things again got a bit sticky.  At least he was able to ride out of the moat at the end.  For a change, it became the turn of MistressFelicia for race three, as she has custody of my red dragon.  She jumped into the moat, and only leapt onto dragonback when GM Stratos was saying "SET" - and it looked to me as if she got into an early lead, flying along behind Stratos himself who led the way at a suspiciously speedy pace, though she in turn got a bit stuck on the narrow bit.  From what people were saying at the end, I think a lot of people saw themselves in an early lead, the game world isn't as definitive as one likes to think, and what is seen on one player's screen can easily be a bit different from what another person sees. 

However Stratos declared that everyone was a winner, and spawned a generous helping of Hands of Bravery, Protection, and the Guard for us.  Some of the goodies got stuck on the steep side of the moat where people couldn't immediately reach them, but concerted efforts did manage to make sure that nothing went to waste.  Felicia was on dragonback again when he spawned a few Barren Eise monsters next to us, and dismounted very quickly - at level four, her armour is very poor, and that includes the dragon when she is riding it.  The other players soon killed them - and Felicia actually reached level 5 from scoring some hits on the nearest one. 

The amount of booty she got was small, just an item drop booster, a skill point booster, and a large attack potion, plus a tool aid or four, but it made for a fun little event, the sort of thing that Last Chaos can be pretty good at.

But MistressDomina's week-long boost to her health and mana has almost finished now, being due to run out at about 3:00 am tomorrow (which is a bit strange as I don't remember starting it at such an unearthly hour - that must be a legacy of the server problems over the last seven days), so it seemed like a good idea to take advantage of it one last time, out with the Sphinx types, accompanied by Chuck in a Combat party, since the servers seemed to be running smoothly today.  So I topped up her supply of experience boosters, trading some across from MistressDomino, bought a few health potions - and out I went into Dratan's grassy uplands.

Luckily there was nobody else around, and I only had one visitor during the two hours or so I was there.  If I say that she stayed 14 minutes, you will probably guess that it was Grand Devilroad Kamira herself.  My platinum blessed iris would have kept counting down if I'd changed to Rage to kill her, so all I could do was ignore her, and avoid accidentally clicking on her.  She wasn't quite overhead, most of the time, but it still made things a little tricky, it is useful that MD's usual attack involves me right-clicking on the critter in question, which targets but does not start an attack, and then hitting the "F5" button, or its on-screen equivalent on the task bar, to apply Curse, to slow the Sphinx type down.  If I did right-click on Kammy, then I'd just need to right-click on something else instead before using a skill.

Each hour used 40 experience boosters; the first hour added 81.24%, getting MistressDomina safely into level 59, while the second hour added 74.13%, as level 59 needs about 10% more experience than level 58 to get all the way through.  Staying on for just a few minutes afterwards, until my usual log-out time (for positively playing, as opposed to afk pet-levelling), meant that the total experience gain for MD's evening was 156.74% - she still needs almost 20% to reach level sixty.  Her drake levelled up at last, reaching level 38 and adding 1306 pet points.  She and Chuck each added 14 skill points, but Chuck's experience gain, as the non-fighting half of a Combat party, was just 2.62%.

So it looks as if using another platinum blessed iris, but without the 40 experience boosters, might be just about enough to get MistressDomina up to level sixty, if I keep to the strategy of killing the Elite Sphinx Speer Man as soon after he respawns as I can, with usually a Sphinx Fighter and a regular Sphinx Speer Man killed in-between.  That ought to get me the "player appreciation event" +5 armour set and weapons...and I see that the level sixty passive skill MD will then be able to learn, for 889 skill points, Mana Flow, increases her health and her mana by 50 each, which is mildly useful.  That is the last new passive skill - at higher levels one just gets to add further levels of various skills one already has started on.

After that, it was of course time to round off the evening with a little pet-levelling - and SirPerivale's little pet, the pony, soon reached level 16, and became a rather bigger pet, a horse.  CaptainScarlet's drake reached level 29 a few minutes later.  If the weather remains fine in Merac, one of them may well be tempted to stay out a bit longer, I suppose.

Sphinxes, Foxes & Zombies - September 11th

CaptainScarlet and SirPerivale both successfully completed overnight pet-levelling, so that Cap's drake reached level 30, and Peri's horse reached level 19, which is a useful boost - they both got disconnected almost immediately I went out shopping, however.  Still, they were able to have a few more minutes, after improving their Armour Increase buffs by two and four levels respectively, before it was time for more active involvement.

The first thing to do was to get MistressDomina up to level sixty as planned, so she teamed up with MrChuckNorris in a Combat party, and headed for the Sphinx types.  The recipe was much as before, and luckily Kamira did not put in an appearance; MD used a platinum blessed iris for triple experience, and settled in to kill the Elite Sphinx Speer Man, then a Fighter and an ordinary Speer Man while the Elite respawned.  I did have one experience booster left so I used that early on, to make sure I got the almost 20% MD needed, but I needn't have bothered as by the time the pbi's hour was over, I'd got there easily, adding 26.89% in all, along with 507 pet points for MD's drake.  Chuck just got 1.80%, but then he didn't have to do anything except stand there to get it, and he and MD each gained 6 skill points.

Back in town, I found that MistressDomina couldn't just learn all five levels of Mana Flow, she had sixth levels of Fear and Freeze Arrow to get too, so in all 1441 skill points were invested.  At least this means that if she dies from a disconnection again, she will only lose 440 skill points now.  And then it was time for lunch, with Cap and Peri back in action, and the horse reaching level 20.

For the afternoon it was back to the Sphinx types - but this time with MistressBlaze doing the fighting, and MistressSabina supplying the Combat party boost.  Since MB is level 44, the fighting was tougher, with ordinary Sphinx Speer Men as formidable for her as the Elite ones are for MistressDomina; since MB is three-quarters as high a level, it makes sense that she only hits 75% as hard, and I imagine her armour is proportionately weaker too.

Again I had the place to myself, except when an archer called SilversLady dropped by - she only sat in the safe area by the campfire though, and left after a while.  As MistressSabina is lower level than MB (as opposed to Chuck being higher level than MD), her experience gain was a bit more significant than Chuck's has been, and she went up 19.29%; neither of them got any skill points, as the Sphinx types are so far above them.  MB added some pet points, and 62.17% experience, so it was a useful session, helped along by Friday's "Happy Hour" being 50% extra experience.  It started on time at 3:00pm UK time, but I didn't stay to the end, I was getting hungry, so left 30 minutes early.  For double experience I'd have stayed, but the 50% just wasn't tempting enough.

Ratel got in touch, asking for a solo party, but that got complicated as he is too high-level for Combat, and Sabina doesn't want too much experience, she wants to spend most of level 35 getting a last bit of skill exp from the Orc Sergeants, when she can find someone of a suitably low level to team with.  I offered to send Sabina back to town, but in the end Ratel was able to find a different party to join for his solo adventures.

After the break, and its pet-levelling, I was in the mood for something a bit more relaxing, so decided to do a little work on a new knight character, with a view to perhaps having another possible pet-leveller at a higher level than SirPerivale eventually.  RedRackham formed a solo party with Peri, for the tutorial dungeon - it's strange, Peri's name doesn't appear on Red's screen as a party member, but Red got the solo party bonus, with a consistent 330 skill exp per soldier until he levelled up; there was even a "Peri has left your party" text message... and Peri's screen showed Red as a party member.

RedRackham got his first two quests from Healer Yabo, and went out to kill the local deer and foxes - after checking storage and finding some useful accessories there to add a bit of evasion and defence etc.  However, he'd just finished getting the fox and deer quest items when Ratel was in touch again, suggesting that, as he still had some way to go to reach level sixty, we might go to the Tomb of Theos for the evening...

So, that changed my plans rather.  RedRackham and SirPerivale logged out, and MistressDomina and MrChuckNorris logged in, still on Auzura-4, bought some stocks of potions, and headed for the Tomb.  I managed to stop Ratel spending his hard-earned gold by going in alone; we made our party, added horse buffs, and MD went in, then used party recall to bring Chuck and Ratty in to join her.

The place was fairly busy - SilversLady was there for one, and MonaLott.  We let some lower level people "ks" us a bit, and the level 47 healer Francesca001 joined our party - so for most of the first hour we had healing, which was a great luxury.  Ratty, MD and Chuck had all started a three-hour blessed iris for double experience, and an elixir for an extra 30%, so we were in it for the whole evening.

It did get pretty crowded at one stage.  It was Ratel who remarked in party chat that he didn't know why an archer called SkillsThatKillz was ks-ing us, as she was obviously high enough level to operate independently, and indeed was partnered with another player called Prada.  It may generally have been that she happened to target the same Screaming Zombie that I did, but it was very inconvenient, as her Slow Shot over-wrote my Curse, and then expired after a short time, so that, while the Zombie was still fixed on our party, it was able to run at full speed.  I didn't find it possible to over-write Slow Shot, so there was always an awkward gap before I could re-cast my own slowing-down skill.  It didn't help that she seemed convinced that we were ks-ing her, sigh...

There was some other player who did the old trick of gathering up a group of the Zombies, and luring them past us, then either leaving or just breaking aggro, leaving them to wander back onto everyone, but we managed to survive that; I don't know for sure if it was Skillz, but Ratty seemed sure that she'd lured at least one Zombie set in "reset" mode onto us - one taken to the far end and then abandoned, so that when attacked its health bar tended to reset to 100% every time it got hurt.

Still, while MistressDomina's health did get dangerously low on a couple of occasions, she managed to survive; there were a couple of laggy times too, though she was at the wall on both occasions.  Chuck was unaffected, but on MD's screen everything stopped.  So, we were a bit lucky there.  Chuck's health did get very low once, and I think Ratty got pretty low as well - and I remember, while she was with us, Francesca001's health bar looked almost entirely empty on one occasion.

I thought that I'd started the boosting potions after only one trial Zombie at the beginning, but my pots outlived Ratel's by a good ten minutes; I'd wondered why he'd announced getting to "a round 12%", after reaching level 58 a little earlier.  We continued until my blessed iris ran out, by which time Ratel had got 17% of the way into his new level.  By then MD had gained 92.22%, and Chuck had added, being a few levels higher, 77.67%, so it had been a pretty productive session - if rather more tiring, with me having to handle both MD and Chuck fighting, than what I had originally planned for the evening, getting RedRackham through his early levels.

After that, it was just a matter of getting my pet-levellers back in action.  It looks as if Cap should get the drake to level 31 before I switch the lights out, while Peri has got the horse into level 21 now, which can't be bad.  GuildHealer had recruited a level 21 rogue jamesmiller into the DeathBringers guild, and he immediately wanted some pet-levelling assistance from Peri - so it looks as if I'll soon be working on getting a pony from level 1 to level 12 for him, for 10 tool aids, an item drop booster, a skill point booster, 100k gold, and a red pet colouring crystal...

Skill Point Farming - September 12th

The pet-levelling dynamic duo had another successful night, so that by breakfast time CaptainScarlet's drake had just reached level 32, and SirPerivale's horse was safely into level 23.  It looks as if that will be the last double-overnighter for a while, which is a shame as it makes the room nice and warm, these cool autumn mornings.

After yesterday's evening in the Tomb of Theos, it was time to get back to my new knight, RedRackham, who we last saw early yesterday evening at level 3.  Getting his quest rewards from Healer Yabo for the fox and deer killing got him up to level 4, and then it was time to kill wolves.  It didn't take very long to get him up to level 7 - it was only just before my early evening food break that Ratel pointed out that we had been on 50% extra experience all day, as the Aeria people had kindly forgotten to turn it off after the US version of the Friday "Happy Hour" last night.

At the start of the fox-fighting I assumed that I was bugged in some way, as I got very little experience, perhaps 10% of what I'd expect, and often the fox's health-bar was still at around 50% for me when it died.  I suspect the only person I noticed around there, by the herb patch, a mage called Gertraut, of actually having a bit of fun with my noob character by surreptitiously hitting every fox I started in on.  It didn't last long, and she did buff me after that, though.

At level 7, Red would be able to team with SirPerivale, since they'd only be 15 levels apart, but first Red needed to make the trip out through the Dratan desert to Prokion Temple, to get its location onto his memory scroll.  That wasn't too easy at level 7, but using a potion of haste, and the one small healing potion that he'd picked up fighting berserk wolves, got him past the sand golems and the clever foxes of the desert, but it was a close-run thing.  He got Shuraine's spot onto his scroll, and continued to the Temple, and then, once he had that on his scroll, logged out, to move across to the older computer.

Red borrowed some medium-low-level armour pieces from SirKitBreaker; he also enrolled with Kaerella as his Guardian, and then teamed up with SirPerivale.  Previously, Peri has tended to take his junior level-uppers to Merac, and fought Berserkers, which had the merit of meaning he could continue to level his current pet, except for Leo, who we took to the Temple, ending up just outside our favourite back room.  This time we used one of the earliest rooms in Prokion Temple, and RedRackham just nudged up against the wall only a few yards in from the main front hall - and, with Peri fighting level 23 Orc Soldiers, it didn't take a huge amount of time to get Red up to halfway through level 18.  By then Peri had put on 68.95% experience himself, so there was just time before lunch for him to spend his 50 skill points back in town, and then run about in Prokion Temple without his armour, picking up unwanted gold drops and giving the Divine Shield armour buff to the other players busy there, and getting killed by the various types of Orc enough times to change that 68.95% into 0.00%, so that he is ready for a future similar task.

After lunch RedRackham was able to team with Galahad, who is level 33, who took him to the back room, helped along by the armour from horse buffs, and moved him on to level 20; Galahad gained 4.27% from that, plus 21 skill points and 47 guild points.  And then MistressSabina was able to take over, at last having a suitably low-level character to team with.  She had recruited Red into the Discipline guild, and set his experience gain to 50%, like every other member except MistressBlaze at the moment.  She still had four super skill pills to use, giving double skill exp gain, and used two of them - the first gave her 172 skill points, and the second gave her 154.  Still, by the end of the session Sabina had added 27.04%, 356 skill points, and 419 guild points.

We were generally undisturbed, but who should pop in for a chat but the mage Gertraut - Iris is a small world.  I don't know if she noticed or remembered Red in his corner, but she did remark on the fact that Sabina was a witch rather than a wizard, as she was using a wand rather than a staff, and kindly gave me the buffs which I am generally too lazy to add myself.

Afterwards RedRackham, who had reached level 23 and gained 213 skill points, was able to get the final level of Canid Fencing, and all five levels of Vitality Control, so was reasonably well set up for his pet-levelling future, with 70 skill points still in hand.

There was a lengthy pet-levelling break over the evening food time, with Ratel back in the solo party after some time off.  He had headed back to Egeha for some more drop and skill point farming, but also found a new friend called "XxOn3xX", and sometimes his attempts to whisper her appeared in the party chat by mistake.  There was some talk of me lending her some items, since Ratel was unavailable to trade things across while he was in Egeha, but apparently she did have everything that she needed

My evening plans rather depended on whether my preferred back room was still free - and it was, so MistressSabina and RedRackham were able to continue where they left off.  Sabina used her last two super skill pills, which brought in 169 and 165 skill points, and I kept going after that, so that in all 401 more skill points got added to her reserves.  She's safely over 9000 sp now, which ought to be enough to take her a fair way - and she does have just about all the special skills maximised, so if necessary one day a skills reset card can be bought, and the sp banked there moved to more useful places.

Ratel was joined in Egeha by our favourite level 92 knight, BasheR, who we see in-game too seldom these days.  Bash tried to help Ratty to gain experience, but unfortunately, as far as I could tell from their party chat, the Boucu Demon spot we go to was already occupied, and so they had to go to somewhere else a bit more dangerous.  Skinwalkers are not aggressive normally, although they are protective of the Boucu Demons, which is why they can cause problems at our usual spot if they happen to come a little too close... but when Ratel used some self-buffs to prepare for whatever they were going to do, that apparently attracted the Skin, and in three hits poor Ratty was dead.

As that spot had proved too dangerous, they were out of luck generally, and BasheR soon departed... so it had been a few wasted minutes for the pots that Ratel had got running, and a couple of skill points and 2% experience lost.  Still, it didn't take him long to regain what he had lost, and he was comfortably into level 59 by the time his blessed iris ran out.  He reported that it did "stack" nicely with the extra 50% experience we were getting, although the figures were suspiciously similar to what he would get from a blessed iris plus a 30% elixir.  These add-on bonuses do vary, I find, sometimes they add together, and sometimes one just multiplies the other, so you can't always tell if two 50% things, for example, will become 100% or 75%

RedRackham, despite being 50% frozen on the experience gain side, continued to level up in the evening session. adding 218.88%, so that he's now a little past halfway through level 25.  He has added another 234 skill points to the 70 he had left - I see Wall of Belief, at level 32, needs 327, so he has almost enough for that, though it would be good to get Divine Shield (130 sp) to be able to give people an armour buff, and preferably Uncanny Movement (97 sp) to increase his movement speed.  Ratel has more ambitious plans for his pet-leveller Leopardknight, and hopes to max out all the available skills, which explains why he hasn't been willing to let MistressSabina use today's method to level him up.

MistressSabina went up 31.70% in the evening session; she earned 491 guild points for Discipline, while RedRackham earned 372.  Sabina probably has another three hours of work with the Orc Sergeants and Orc Axemen before she reaches level 36, at which point it will definitely be time to move on, as even with a lower-level companion the Axemen, at least, won't contribute much experience or skill exp then.  Next time she teams with MistressBlaze at the Sphinx types, she won't be on the 50% experience freeze, and she won't be in a Combat type party, so she ought to move up a few levels relatively quickly.

As usual the day ended as it had begun, with SirPerivale back to his mundane pet-levelling duties in Merac, along with CaptainScarlet.  By the time I'll be heading for bed Cap should have got that drake past the halfway mark in level 32, and Peri's horse should be two-thirds of the way through level 24.

Pipped at the Post - September 13th

CaptainScarlet did try to pet-level his pink drake overnight, but some little darling came along pretty early and killed his Berserker, so a few hours were lost. Still, by morning the drake had gone up to level 33.  SirPerivale joined him out in Merac for a while, but level 25 is about high enough for Peri to take a pet, it starts to get hungry, so later on I transferred a pan flute across to peri and he went to Lorraine and Jajan to get a new level 1 pony to begin work on.  By the end of the lunch break it was approaching the top of level 2, and had gone up to 65% Sympathy.

But after coffee there was time for MistressSabina and RedRackham to head for Prokion Temple on Auzura-4, where luckily the back room was available.  Sabina may have run out of skill pills, but Red does have the "beginner" plus 150% platinum super skill pills to use up, so he used the first of those, gaining 197 skill points in the hour.  He went up 62.84%, getting him to level 26, so that was a good start.  Sabina added 10.59%, 164 guild points, and 80 skill points

After lunch, and a bit more pet-levelling, Sabina and Red returned to Prokion Temple, where they settled in for the long haul.  RedRackham started another beginner pssp, and this one brought him another 205 skill points.  In theory the "Sunday Teatime" was due to start at 3:00pm UK time, which was only just over half an hour away, and I was pretty sure that the 50% extra skill exp from that wouldn't "stack" with the 150% extra from the b-pssp, but knowing that these events tend to run a little late, I went ahead and used another pill, gaining another 171 skill points.  In fact it wasn't until about 4:30 that the "teatime" began, so I could have used a third pill in the afternoon - but by the time I took my food break, Red had gone up another 43 sp, and was almost halfway through level 27, with 319 more guild points.

For MistressSabina the afternoon had added 23.42%, with her reaching level 36 halfway through; as well as 399 more guild points, she had added another 193 skill points.  I'd already started a rather hurried food break when, unannounced, the skill exp went up by 50% for the "teatime" bonus, and we finally lost the 50% experience bonus that had been running up until then, but it lasted a full two hours, until 18:37, so that by the time the Quiz was approaching, I'd had most of the two hours at 50% extra, and then another b-pssp for Red.  So, RedRackham's evening totals were 84.87%, taking him almost a third of the way into level 28, plus 351 more guild points and 368 more skill points, while MistressSabina added 15.80%, 434 guild points, and 283 skill points.  REd's experience gain would have been a little lower, but I'd absent-mindedly started one of the beginner platinum blessed irises instead of the pssp, so for that particular hour he got an extra 150% experience, as well as the extra skill exp.

RedRackham has learnt Divine Shield and Uncanny Movement now, so, while he does need to keep back 327 skill points for that level 32 passive Temple Knight skill Wall of Belief, and maybe even 60 points for the level 35 passive skill Canid Fence 2, he does have plenty of spare skill points, which a regular knight would put into other passive and general skills which just aren't relevant to a dedicated pet-levelling character.  So, it looks as if Red will be the character to donate 599 skill points to upgrade the Discipline guild to the next level... once the necessary 19,620 guild points have been obtained.  At the moment, taking away the 5,000 needed for "expension of the guild", I see that Discipline is about a quarter of the way there, with eighteen members in all, with an average level of 15.  It's possible he might even get the 653 sp needed for the level after that, though that would need a further 21,385 guild points apparently.  By my calculations he has 76 skill points towards that at the moment...

Ratel was in the party for solo purposes for most of the day, adventuring in Egeha and against the Sphinx types.  He switched to Elvastar, his level 22 sorcerer, in the evening, and was somewhere in Prokion Temple, though staying clear of my room to avoid getting his experience and skill exp gain messed up.  Once he'd got to 99% of his level, he spent all his skill points on suitable skills and then went and died 33 times to get down to less than 1%, so he is taking skill point farming in Proki pretty seriously this time.  It may well take three more such sessions to get all the sorcerer skills up to level twenty maximised.  Ah well, Orcs make a change from Baby Apes and the other Egeha monsters he was fighting earlier.

Aa eight approached, half an hour before the Quiz was due to start, Elva logged out, and Ratel went to Auzura-2 - where he found someone selling a level 57 +15 weapon for 350 million, which he was probably right to think was a pretty competitive price, these days.  He asked me if I had 350 million that he could borrow, so I logged Red out, and logged MistressDomino in on Auzura-2, where I traded the gold across to him.  Unfortunately, by the time we'd done that the prospective seller had ended her merchant mode, probably to get ready for the Quiz, and Ratty wasn't even sure of her name.  I said that he should keep the gold for a day or two, in case he saw her again... but luckily within a few minutes he had located her, alinutz17, spoken to her, and bought the weapon safely - for 30 million less than he would have paid before!  So, a good result there.

Memree and Kaerella joined Ratel in the Auzura-2 Quiz Room, and he traded the surplus 30 million back to Kae.  He'll have to take a paper round to earn enough gold to pay me back... either that or get his propective pet-leveller, Leo, into action.  The quiz itself was, as we went along, chiefly notable for the number of "X or O" answers that stayed on the same side, one after another.  We started with four questions to which the "O" option was the correct answer...and then the next ten were all "X", before three more over on "O".  We got our tool aids, moonstones, and the first five heaven stones for getting question 18 correct, but, like about half the people there, we got the next question wrong, so didn't get a chance to add a further ten heaven stones to our total.  I thought that level 35 was the maximum level at which an eligible character could become a Phoenix character, but a maximum level of 30 is "true" - it's just that when they become a Phoenix type, they then move to level 35, sigh.

To wind down I decided just to take my level 3 rogue RedRider out to kill some foxes and wolves on Auzura-4, but before very long an announcement came up for a "Zombie Invasion" event which was about to start, so, checking the website and discovering that Auzura-2 was the venue, I decided to send Memree, my level 31 cleric, to investigate.  There was quite a crowd at Burbank Mill in Juno when I got there, waiting for GM Kali to spawn the first wave - which was mainly the low-level Velpist Temple type of zombie, which presented no challenge, but with quite a few level 74 boss-type Apes along.  Subsequent waves were chock-full of level 100 Screaming Zombies and level 102 Ancient Screaming Zombies, though, which were more of a challenge - and we were working to a tight deadline, if any zombies at all were still around after 15 minutes we'd lose.  There was also the chance that they might "infect" a GM or GS, making them turn on us, but luckily that didn't happen.

We beat the deadline, and prizes were spawned in the usual way, though as Auzura-2 is a PvP-enabled sub-server, there was always the chance that some player-killer type would decide to get rid of some picking-up competition.  I had seen a few players with the "PvP active" sign over their heads, and did see an innocent healer struck down, but Memree survived that and the zombies - she actually added 1.24% experience from her rather feeble attacks on various monsters.  As for the loot, it wasn't as much as one would get from a Mad Monster Spawn, but she did manage to grab a skill point booster, 3 large attack potions, 4 large defence potions, and a few tool aids and small HP and MP recovery potions.

That was a nice little extra adventure to end on, and after that SirPerivale went out to join CaptainScarlet in Auzura-4 Merac, with the Berserkers.  The pink drake was by then approaching three-quarters of the way through level 33, too high a level for Cap to work overnight on it, while Peri's new pony soon got into level 5, with its Sympathy already past the 85% mark.

A Long Day in Prokion Temple - September 14th

By moving the pale blue horse over to CaptainScarlet, and letting SirPerivale work on the new pony, an overnight pet-levelling session was possible last night, and worked well - the pony was level 13 by the time I was able to trade the horse back, so that during daylight hours Cap was back to working on his pink drake, and Peri worked on the pale blue horse.

After coffee, RedRackham headed out for Prokion Temple; at level 28 and with +4 Radiant armour, he didn't have any difficulty getting to the back room.  On Auzura-4 though somebody dashed in there just ahead of him - and looking in, there were already a couple of other players busy there.  So, a switch to Auzura-3 was needed, where, luckily, the room was nice and quiet.  Red even fought a few Orcs, while he waited for MistressSabina to log in and join him; his health did go down a little, but with a few health potions he would have been okay fighting there, as long as he didn't go too far in and get mobbed.

But after that he left the fighting to MistressSabina, which meant that the older computer didn't get into "run out of memory" territory.  He double-clicked the last of his "beginner" platinum super skill pills - but doing that right away wasn't one of my brighter ideas, as we soon found out that 50% extra skill experience was still running from the late night US version of "Sunday teatime" yesterday, so that instead of getting 150% more skill exp that Sabina, he was just getting 67% more than she was.

Still, Red did add 151 skill points in the b-pssp's hour, and 181 in the whole morning session, along with 20.45% experience and 126 guild points, while MistressSabina added 5.55%, 121 skill points, and 152 guild points.

Over lunch, while SirPerivale and CaptainScarlet were back in action in Merac, DeathBringers guild member Samael was asking Peri if it would be possible to swap his level 24 drake, plus a Stone of Shadow accessory, for a level 31 or 33 unmounted horse.  For a guildie, that sounded the sort of thing Peri could do, though not at the moment, as the only available horse is the one in progress, which was then only level 26.  My feeling was that I'd have to contact Samael when the horse reached an appropriate level, to see if he was still interested.

The afternoon saw RedRackham and MistressSabina back in action in Prokion Temple, as they are the pair best suited to take advantage of the continuing 50% extra skill exp.  Without that I'd have been tempted to team Sabina up with MistressBlaze at the Sphinx types, and start her levelling up, but the extra skill points were too desirable for her... and for Red too, as they do mean that the Discipline guild will be able to upgrade a couple of times quite painlessly, which is much better than having to raid MB's stock of skill points, or Sabina's.  Now all I need is the guild points, and a mundane level seven guild will be able to zoom up to the dizzy heights of level nine.

Ratel came online and joined the party; he managed a lunchtime trip to Egeha, and was back there again later, bashing the Bogles, and the Apes, and even a couple of Azers, though he needed magical defence minerals for them.  I did try to suggest that the arcane golems in Dratan, at his own level, would allow him to make better use of the bonus skill exp, but they give such small amounts of experience that he ruled them out.  Still, by the end of the evening he had managed to get up to 200 of the 360 skill points he needs for the final level of one particular skill, but it was obviously slow work, not helped by my cheerful reports from Prokion Temple on the sp that Red and Sabina were gaining.  But he ended the evening at 87.5% of the way through level 59, so level 60, and that freebie armour set, is getting closer.

By the time I took my early evening food break, after about a solid three hours I guess, RedRackham was up another 36.24%, 214 skill points, and 224 guild points, while MistressSabina had added 11.69%, 210 skill points (since Red again arrived first), and 266 guild points.

My break was a fairly short one, so Red and Sabina stayed in the room, and resumed their slog quickly - for around another four hours, I suppose.  Red reached level 29 before too long, and went up by 54.16%, also adding 370 skill points and 397 guild points.  He can definitely afford to upgrade the Discipline guild twice now, with all those spare skill points.  MistressSabina did well too, adding 17.04%, the same 370 skill points, and 468 guild points.  A reserve of 10.3k skill points isn't huge, but it's bigger than it looked like Sabina would manage, thanks to Red being able to boost what she gained due to his lower level, and the 50% extra skill exp today, which meant 701 rather than 467 today in total, assuming that I'd stayed in Prokion without the extra skill exp running.

It depends whether the extra skill exp is still switched on tomorrow what I do.  In theory Sabina could stay in that back room all day, but on standard-rate skill exp I really don't think I could stand it.  I may need to log Rage on for the evening session to help Ratel reach level 60 in the Tomb of Theos - though with only 12.5% to go, he can probably manage to reach his target on another trip to Egeha, and get some skill points as well.  I think I will have to start off with what may be MistressSabina's final excursion to Prokion Temple, if the skill exp is back to normal, but after that a team-up for Sabina with MistressBlaze, out by the Sphinx types, is definitely on the cards.

There really isn't much to report today, beyond the session details.  A rogue called The LastHeros did run into my back room, kill an Orc, and then run out again; oh, and a sorcerer called Meltin did look in.  He had actually been against the wall when Red first arrived, not far from the door, but hadn't stayed around.  In the evening our Norcaine guildie BasheR had been online, but as neither of the characters I was playing were old ones, or in Norcaine, he concentrated on chatting with Ratel, so I only learned stuff second-hand.

It sounds as if BasheR may be taking a vacation from Last Chaos for a while; apparently there was talk of Ratel logging on to his account occasionally just to keep it active, but that really isn't something to be recommended, as account-sharing, even in the most innocent way, is something the Aeria people don't like at all - Rage was in a rather promising guild where the guild master allowed one of his guild advisers, a trusted friend, to log on to his account, just so that when he was away people could still have their experience frozen or unfrozen... but for that the account got banned, destroying the guild.  So my advice was not to do anything that could lead to that sort of trouble.

And, after Cap and Peri were back on the pet-levelling, Samael got in touch again; he had decided not to wait, and wanted to trade the Stone of Shadow and the level 24 drake, which I discovered afterwards to be coloured green, for the horse now, so Peri moved back to Randol to do the trade, and then returned to Merac, and started to work on his new green drake.

Mad Spawns  - September 15th

It was the green drake that got the benefit of overnight pet-levelling with CaptainScarlet; and then, before breakfast, Cap changed over to levelling the pink drake, and SirPerivale joined him, levelling his plain old-fashioned brown pony.  The green drake did go up one level to 25 overnight, and indeed isn't all that far from 26 now; the pink one is too high a level for overnight sessions now.

When RedRackham got to Prokion Temple on Auzura-4 he found the sorcerer Meltin busy there, so he moved across to Auzura-3, where MistressSabina soon joined him.  We found that the 50% extra skill exp still hadn't been switched off, so merrily continued until lunchtime - though the idea of spending the whole day there didn't seem very attractive.  Red added 18.39%, 139 guild points, and 131 skill points, while Sabina added 5.93%, 163 guild points, and 129 skill points, which took her to a nice round 10.5k of unused skill points.  As she had now reached two-thirds of the way through level 36, that's the equivalent of going through the whole of the level if the 50% bonus skill exp hadn't been left running.  Sabina also invested the 5,000 guild points in the "expension of the guild" skill, so that Discipline's maximum membership has now risen to 40.

A Pandora's Box did show up during lunchtime, very close to both Cap and Peri - and not far from Corleone guild member DarkKnight45, levelling a pale blue horse, either.  So I decided it was a bit risky to have one of my knights open it, in case a level 50 Pandora's Beast popped out, and logged MistressDomina in to come down and deal with it.  It was lucky I did that, as the box did release a level 50 Pandy, which immediately tried to attack either DarkKnight45 or his horse, so MD's swift action with Curse and Terra Spear was certainly needed, to stop an innocent party being harmed.  The Pandy dropped a useful amount of gold, anyway.

After lunch, the plan was to take RedRackham out to the Sphinx Fighters with MistressBlaze, but I soon hit a problem - the only character of mine with a Party Recall card at the moment is MistressDomina, and she can't be in a party with Red as they are on the same account.  I did take Red down south from Prokion Temple to the Poison Mists, and get the Elite Poison Mist's location onto his memory scroll, but I don't really have a suitable character for him to team with there, so in the end I logged Kaerella in, and she teleported out to the Sphinx Fighters' location, then used one of her three remaining "Scroll of Summoning"  books, from some old package or other, to move Red to her.  He then carefully added the location to his memory scroll.

Those books are useful, though individually they cost 19 aeria points each, in that they let you, as a one-off, teleport any character whose name you type into the box to your location, if they agree to it.  For some reason a "Book of Teleport", which allows you to move to another character's location, if they agree, is actually cheaper, at 15 aeria points, so if we'd needed to buy one, it would have been up to Red to obtain that type.

So, RedRackham was able to join MistressBlaze at the Sphinx Fighters and Sphinx Speer Men - level 29 and level 44, just right.  Red needed to gain almost 140%, and he managed that, though not as quickly as I'd hoped.  One of the Sphinx Fighters actually stopped trying to get to MB and attacked him, perhaps because MB had got a Divine Shield buff on which he had supplied.  He died rather quickly, but that did at least mean that I was able to use one of his "beginner" resurrection scrolls, usually my characters have too many of them left unused.  Reaching level 31 means he has now received and equipped the level 30/32 +10 armour set, and the level 33 +10 sword and shield.  He can opt to become a Temple Knight now.

As far as Red is concerned, the heat is off now, so I can take my time.  Probably he will do some solo Orc-killing in Prokion Temple to level up, getting the Wall of Belief skill at level 32, and the Canid Fencing 2 skill at level 35, before getting a red name to reduce his bare-fisted attack, and settling down as a pet-leveller, replacing SirPerivale generally - though Peri will remain useful as a bridging character to help level up new characters. 

I saw Ratel's sorcerer Elvastar in merchant mode in Randol, offering "Goodies" for sale, so looked at his stock, and noticed that he was selling a Chain of Tiger accessory for 23.5 million.  I assumed it was a pretty good price... it gives the character that equips it (in one of their three slots for such things) an extra 8 on their close range physical attack, and gives them an extra 16 to their Strength stats.  As RedRackham will have all his native stat points in dexterity, some extra strength for his levelling-up stints seemed like a good idea, so I bought the CoT.  When Red has finished with it, I'm sure that SirDarth or Galahad will be glad of it.  And later on Ratel was able to bring 74 million gold down to Cap to trade across, as a nice large first repayment of the gold I loaned him for that level 57 +15 weapon.  He mentioned that he had actually bought the CoT for 15 million unidentified, and used a gold magnifying glass (cost: 1 million) to identify it, so he made a useful bit of profit there.

Once RedRackham had reached level 31 he logged out, and MistressSabina logged back in.  She went out to the Sphinx types to take Red's place for the rest of the afternoon, though, at level 36, her progress was a bit slower than I'd been hoping.  In all she just went up 18.00%, though it wasn't a very long session.  As for the one who was doing all the work while Red and Sabby stood at the side, MistressBlaze went up 24.87%, plus 815 pet points for her level 27 drake.   Hmm, that's one drake that needs a bit of upgrading, I think.

I was about to log Rage in after the food break, when the Mad Monster Spawn was announced, so instead my level 31 cleric Memree was logged in, and teleported across to the MMS location.  Usually it is GM Stratos who handles this, but today it was GM Kali, who was as usual friendly and chatty, not to mention a little worried about what the forum consensus about what her Halloween costume should be, will be!

Generally the MMS was an improvement, with perhaps a little bit of scaling-down of the waves to compensate for Auzura's smaller turn-out of high-level people - and some high-level monster types I'd never seen before.  Memree did die a few times early on, but with only a few percent experience in her current level, and 2 skill points, she had nothing to lose, except memory scrolls - but it was annoying once to be immediately killed as I teleported back in.  We seemed to manage the final wave within the time limit, but the last spawning of the various Hands didn't include any Hands of the Warrior, the heaven stone one.  Kali stayed on after that, though mainly afk it seemed, occasionally returning to spawn a few more of Strayana's vast blue dragons.  As so often happens, there was no clear conclusion, people tended to stay in the hope of more monsters, or more loot spawned, and then gradually drifted away.  By the time it was definitely all over, just about two hours had passed... so we didn't get any heaven stones, but I added to my supply of skill point boosters, item drop boosters, large attack and defence pots, tool aids, and so on, which can't be bad.

After that, Rage got her long-delayed return to action.  As the 50% extra skill exp was still on, a little trip to the Temple of Forgetfulness (or Forgotten Temple) to fight the level 72 Jumping Devils seemed like a good idea - with a few of the level 68 Legendary Slayers as well, in case they dropped anything good.  The Devils did drop a pair of level 65 sorcerer gloves, and two level 65 crossbows too, but the drops weren't that exciting.  Still, 9.27% experience was gained, plus 19 skill points, and 636 pet points for her level 37 drake.  There's no hurry to level Rage up, as level 72 is convenient for when Kamira drops by, but it's good to keep in practice.

Following that session, I took my low-level new rogue, RedRider, out to the elder wolves, dire wolves, and berserk wolves in nice peaceful Juno - and even fought a couple of level 8 jaguars.  I just had time to get her up to level 7, ready for a levelling-up teaming with SirPerivale some time, before it was time to put CaptainScarlet back up, to join SirPerivale out in Merac with the Berserkers.

However at about 10:20 UK time I did belatedly notice the messages about GM Kali starting the Mad Monster Spawn over on the Cariae server, so decided on the spur of the moment to go off there.  By the time my level 100 archer Barbarienne had rode out to the usual spot, the final wave was being fought, so I joined in, and it was nice to actually do some real damage for a change, and get an appropriate amount of experience for it.  Some things were still thirty or more levels above me of course, so I was careful only to attack critters that were already being battled; my default damage on such monsters, like the Patriarch Botis, was 218 - but my critical hit damage was more like 2680-2700, and a deadly hit would be around 4260.  The final wave was killed off on time, and the Cariae people were suitably jubilant, though again I didn't see any heaven stones spawned.  I managed to pick up some of the usual MMS items, though, before logging out, and letting Cap return to his pet-levelling.

The pink dragon reached level 35 just after CaptainScarlet's return, while Peri had by then got the new horse up to level 18 - a pony no longer.  Ratel mentioned that he will be playing on the Katar server tomorrow, but I should see him on Thursday, at least in the evening.  The warm-up for one of my "busy weekends" will be starting then, so I'll be busy downstairs on Thursday until the evening, and busy much of the time on the following two days, before going entirely missing on Sunday until well after six in the evening.