Kaerella's Blog - stardate January 2010 (1)
Unbloggishly, here we read from the top down - so the New Year begins here at the top!
An Expert Weaponsmith - January 1st

SirGalahad did manage to do some work down with the gnoll lancers before coffee, but my attention was more on Guild Wars, where the Wintersday Festival was reaching its usual annual climax, with new kinds of headgear being given out to people attending the finale.  So, a character of mine was in Lion's Arch at eight, and managed to get the Ice Shard Crest that followers of Grenth get.  Unfortunately, proving that it's not just Last Chaos that has bug problems, the automatic distribution of the headgear wasn't working properly, and three hours later I, along with almost everyone else in Kamadan, failed to get the Snow Crystal Crest for supporting Dwayna there - further attempts failed, too.

Still, on Cariae-1 Kaerella went out to the akane giants and the ordinary giants near "The Tomb of Theo" (not to be confused with the Tomb of Theos).  There was no solo party available, and the only person listed as wanting a party didn't respond, but before long there was someone who did respond, and we got a solo party going, though it never got beyond five people, and broke up before the end.

Kamira did show up for me, so Kae logged out, promising to return soon, and Keerella, my level 93 mage, logged in and quickly rode down to the spot.  Kamira didn't manage to do any damage to her, and soon Kee was picking up the usual assortment of lucky scrolls, moonstones, tool aids, et cetera.  There wasn't a rare accessory, but Kee hadn't used a lucky scroll or an item drop booster, so still came out of it well ahead.

It is convenient that, unless the leader kicks you, these days you reappear in your party when you log back in, so Kaerella was back with the others, and hurried back to the akane giants.  It wasn't a hugely long session, though; but even 3.50% and 32 skill points helps, along with 543 pet points... it gets Kae 10% of the way into level 51, anyway.

Once the Guild Wars excursion was over, SirGalahad returned to his gnoll lancers; and, over lunch, level 28 was achieved.  Then, for the afternoon session, Gal got the Elizabeth's Enhancement buff and headed for Prokion Temple on Tairen-1, joining a solo party.  The back room was in use, but the corridor room was free, so that's where I set to work.  later in the afternoon I had three other people trying to farm there too, all members of the BrAzUcAs guild as it happens - but then, the influx of Brazilian players does have a different approach to "oh, the room is already occupied" from most other players.  The knight NiCoLaS was the first, followed by the healer Livia; another knight, ANDRExBR, seemed to be lower in level, and seemed more prepared to attack my orcs than start attacking one of his own, so he'd really have been better off with lower level orcs.

Still, they drifted away after a while, and by the end of the session SirGalahad had reached level 32, adding 55.58% and 252 skill points.  Back in Randol he was able to learn the Wall of Belief passive skill, increasing his defence; that took 227 skill points, so he still came out ahead on the afternoon.  The extra defence meant that it seemed worth trying out the pet-levelling possibilities in Maargadum Jail in Merac, so that's where Gal headed.

The Spike Canines on the ground floor are often used by pet-levellers, and I could soon understand why.  Their attack stat is, I find, 162 (slightly more than a gnoll lancer's 153), and their defence stat is 1196 (a lot better than the gnoll lancer's 751).   One can easily lure a spike canine right back behind the teleporter NPC, and they didn't appear to lose health from Gal's 44 bare-handed attack, so all was well - except that it is a relatively busy spot, with people entering the Jail to fight on its many levels, so perhaps it wasn't surprising that I had my canine killed a couple of times in an hour.

The next step was to head for level five, where I have in the past noticed people pet-levelling on a death mask lancer.  I got attacked by an aggressive death mask soldier as I entered, and was slowly wearing him down when a titan called Xaen came in, paused to open my Christmas Gift Box, which had just appeared, and went after the death mask lancer himself.  I rather assume that if the box had dropped a platinum drop booster he would have stolen it.  He seemed a bit aggrieved when I too attacked the death mask lancer - but I didn't stay long, as I wanted to move over to Tairen-4.

I had been pleasantly surprised by the lack of player-killing action in Prokion Temple on Tairen-1, with everyone just getting on with their farming and grinding, and no high-levels going on killing sprees... but it seems that actually it's another bug, and that there is no pk-ing possible on any of the Tairen sub-servers yet, even though four of them are designated for PvP action.  Still, SirGalahad, moving to the older computer, also moved to Tairen-4.  There were already a couple of pet-levellers at work next to the teleporter NPC, but I headed down to level five, and finding it clear, managed to avoid the death mask soldier "greeter" at the doorway, and started to fight the death mask lancer, whose stats are 186 for attack and a massive 1504 for defence.  By then the horse was down to 27% health, so a levelling up was just what he would need.  It did take a while, but before the evening was over level 29 was safely reached, and a little further progress made, even, with both SirGalahad and his target remaining in perfect health.

But over on the main computer, RedRyder, on Tairen-1 and with Elizabeth's Enhancement, headed for Prokion Temple in the usual way.  The back room was in use, but the corridor room was free, again - and again I ended up having to share it, for quite a while with Sarpshootr2, and after that for a while LoyalRogue.  Both were rogues around level 35, so coming towards the end of their time in the Temple.  I kept slogging, and finally noticed that I'd reached 95% of the level, which was cutting things a bit close as I didn't want to level up.  I worked out that a dozen or so more skill points would let me get all three levels of Expert Weaponsmith, to finish that special skill off, so, carefully choosing slightly lower-level orcs for a better skill exp to experience ratio, finished with 452 skill points and 97.03%. 

After spending the sp, a quick trip to Misty Canyon was needed, and the Introducer Camio closest to the start swiftly helped Red to get rid of the unwanted experience.  There are plenty more special skills still to learn, but at least weaponsmithing is finished, unless I end up adding the levels that come available when Red gets to level 32 and 42... but I don't think that is particularly likely.  One has to draw the line somewhere.

There had been an announcement of some special New Year drops being made back in Randol, but, on the evidence of what had happened at the equivalent Christmas event, I decided not to bother leaving the Temple for that, and judging by comments in the shoutbox, I made the right decision.  That was the nearest we came to an "event" today, but tomorrow at one o'clock [GM]Valsharyn is scheduled to hold her own brand of "Storm the Castle" on Auzura-5, which should be well worth attending.  There's also the possibility of defending Randol from an onslaught of monsters in the evening, from eight o'clock UK time onwards, but defending Randol's gates can be a bit cramped and dangerous.  Still, if I'm on the right server to see the announcement, perhaps one of my rogues will drop by and do some snaring...

An Ordinary Castle-Storming - January 2nd

Guild Wars managed to sort out its "hat shortage" bug by late yesterday evening, which ought to be an example to us all; my headgear-collecting character there managed finally to get the second new kind of icy "crest", which is more handsome than the usual hats they come up with.  NCSoft do seem to be moving into the "micropayment" model now to keep GW revenues up; besides extra storage and character renaming and remodelling, you can now spend real cash for a pair of new Dwayna and Grenth themed costume covers.

After a final appearance at the GW festivities, held at midnight last night PST, or 8:00am UK time, it was time for Last Chaos to start up, and for SirGalahad to venture down to level five of Maargadum Jail once more, starting off on the newer computer, and then switching across to the older one after coffee.  For some reason I can only adjust the brightness of the picture when LC is full-screen, rather than windowed, so I switched to running it like that, as otherwise the Jail is unusually gloomy, and it's hard to find one's way about.

Kaerella started up on Cariae-1 after coffee, joining a solo party and heading out to the akane giants and regular giants, and, in particular, to the elite akane giant close to the "Tomb of Theo" (not to be confused with the "Tomb of Theos") entrance.  I remembered to put the spot onto Kae's memory scroll, which will save a bit of time in future.

It wasn't long before Kamira turned up, so Kae temporarily left the solo party, and Keerella rode down to deal with my visitor.  This time I remembered to get the special drop-enhancing buff from the Christmas tree in Randol, and it may have helped - as well as the usual assortment of items, Kamira dropped a rare "Chain of Tiger" accessory, which gives its wearer 16 strength and 8 more close-range physical attack - making it useful for a knight or a titan.  When Kae rejoined the party, other members were suitably congratulatory.

Lunch had to be slightly early, but by the time Kaerella left the party and logged out, 8.96% had been added, and 57 skill points, taking her stash of unused sp above the 8.5k mark, along with 684 more pet points.

The early lunch was to make sure my level 72 rogue Rage would be in time for the "Storm the Castle" event on Auzura-5, scheduled for one o'clock, UK time.  While still fun, this turned out to be a very conventional affair, with everything by the book, which is not what one expects from [GM]Valsharyn, starting with jumping devils, barren eises, anubis archers, wafes, anubis spear men, dark harpies, hell-otuu... and ending with a couple of sphinx commanders in the Castle's throne room.  As we were a fairly small group again, it all took us a while, and it was just about 1:30 when we fought the Sphinx Commanders.  After that, we all followed Val back outside, for the loot, but it was a very small pile of goodies, and all I got was a single HP recovery potion, six MP recovery ones, three tool aids, and three skill point boosters.  Ah well, I'm sure [GM]JediMike will be more generous at the next Katar STC, if he's still doing it - [GM]Kali was in charge of those until recently, but perhaps she has taken a few weeks off.

For the later part of the afternoon, well, first of all RedRyder went to Prokion Temple on Tairen-1 and found the back room clear, but before long I decided to try teaming her with SirGalahad there, in a Combat party, with Gal doing the work, so Gal stopped his pet-levelling in Jail and switched to the newer computer, then took over in the back room.  Red switched to the older computer, and soon joined him.   She is only three levels below him at the moment, so, while between them they got more experience and skill exp than Gal would have got solo, Gal himself got less than he otherwise would.  Still, it seems as simple a team-up as the one Kaerella and Memree have on Katar, so is worth continuing with, particularly when Gal levels up a time or two.

It wasn't a hugely long session; SirGalahad went up 25.35% and 114 skill points, while RedRyder added 14.61% and 146 skill points - enough to learn basic armoursmith and the first two levels of advanced armoursmith, with 2 sp left over.  After that Gal went back to Jail, with his horse moving on satisfactorily through level 30.

For the evening, the dynamic duo returned to Prokion Temple; both the back room and the corridor room, as I call them, were in use, so SirGalahad ended up upstairs just close to the central staircases, with RedRyder standing close by.  With their +10 armour sets, the local orcs didn't hurt them at all; as I was also watching a tv show and then an old western movie, and thus wasn't giving the Last Chaos window 100% attention, I didn't risk equipping Gal's horse, which tends to lose health quite steadily when orcs are around.

I stayed for the whole three-hour duration of the Elizabeth's Enhancement buff on both characters, and by closing time SirGalahad was 49.34% up, and had gained 250 skill points, as well as 337 guild points.  As she'd arrived slightly after Gal, RedRyder was just up by 242 skill points, along with 14.62% - an almost identical amount to her previous session, which, while shorter, had included some actual fighting, as opposed to just standing around for the Combat party percentage.  She got 58 more guild points, so that Discipline now has 2185 of them; 6000 will be needed before that "guild message" skill can be learnt.

That was the end of the evening's entertainment, except for SirGalahad's trip down to the fifth floor of Maargadum Jail, where he soon got the horse past the halfway mark in level 30.  That means that the horse is only hours away from being mountable, though as usual we'll be going on to level 37 for the full level ten horse buffs.  Gal himself is still 20% away from level 33, so it looks likely that the horse will overtake him, level-wise, soon.

The Invisible Moose - January 3rd

I let SirGalahad stay in Jail overnight - in Maargadum Jail, that is, on its fifth level, fighting a death mask lancer.  All went smoothly, and by the morning the Christmas Gift Boxes had yielded two platinum drop boosters, while by coffee time the horse had reached level 32.

After coffee I needed to do a little moving around of stuff over on Cariae, as both Kaerella and Keerella had rather full inventories, but once that was sorted out, Kaerella was able to teleport out from Dratan City to the elite akane giant and its friends, for a little gentle skill point farming.

Kamira played hard to get, and it was almost noon by the time she turned up.  So, that seemed a good point for Kae to finish on - and Keerella rode out to fight Kammy, stopping along the way to open a convenient Pandor's Box, which dropped 50,000 gold for her.  The fight with Kamira was a bit one-sided; there wasn't a rare accessory dropped this time, but all the normal bits and pieces appeared, which as usual were enough to make Kee's trip worthwhile.

Kaerella had added 7.64% experience by then, along with 51 skill points and 637 pet points for SirFrancis.  And then once Kee had logged out it was time for SirGalahad to go directly to Jail again, to do another hour or so's pet-levelling over lunch.

The afternoon session was a Tairen-1 team-up for SirGalahad, doing all the work, and RedRyder, standing watching, in Prokion Temple, again with an assortment of orc sergeants and axemen, plus the occasional orc fighter, close to the top of the central stairs.  SirGalahad reached level 33, so keeps ahead of his horse; that means that the orc axemen are blue-named for him now, so equipping his pet while fighting in Prokion is definitely no longer worthwhile.  In all 32.94% got added, along with 155 more skill points and 242 guild points for Discipline.  RedRyder got 10.47%, and, as she was there from the start, 155 skill points too, as well as 40 guild points.

The evening was generally more of the same, with both the back room and the corridor room busy - with the Sunday Quiz at 8:30, the session was a bit shorter than sometimes, so that SirGalahad earned just 23.32% and 152 skill points, and RedRyder got 8.19% and 151.  Before we started, Red had gone to Misty Canyon to set her level 29 experience back to 0%, having spent her current skill point total on assorted special skills.

The quiz on Tairen-2 went smoothly.  There were a couple of people "multi-clienting", with at least half a dozen characters in starter armour following their proper character - but I think it may have been a tip-off from the gamesage Airadella, who was just outside the quiz room when I went in, that brought [GM]Moose onto the scene.  He wasn't visible, but he said on the local chat that he had just caught two multi-client running people, and sure enough, both clusters of clones had vanished.

As far as the quiz answers are concerned, that [GM]Krash, sadly no longer with Aeria, runs the "Pharaoh's Treasure" event is still the correct answer, and that was the vital twentieth question; everyone assumed the answer hadn't been changed, so we all got our full number of heaven stones, and left happy.  I wasn't really concentrating after that, so might well have got the following question wrong, but spawning back in town then, to get out of the quiz room, is the thing to do.  It's strange that, unlike the smaller but similar individual guild halls, they've never put an NPC inside who can teleport people back out again if they ask nicely...

SirGalahad took over the older computer then, and went to the fifth level of Maargadum Jail for a bit more pet-levelling; RedRyder went back to Prokion Temple briefly, to get another 28 skill points so that the final level of Expert Armoursmith could be learnt, and then Kaerella, who attended the quiz as usual, along with MistressDomino, had a short session.  She did the wolf tooth quest for healer Yabo, and went up from level 6 to halfway through level 7; killing wolves, elder wolves, dire wolves, berserk wolves, and even a couple of jaguars made a pleasant change from orcs all the time.

Looking at the Events calendar, there was still no "Zombie Invasion" on any of the US servers after the Quiz, which seems strange, but on Auzura there's [GM]Valsharyn's "Mad Monster Spawn" to look forward to tomorrow at 5:00pm UK time.  There is a GM "Hide and Seek" a couple of hours after that, but really, riding around the whole map aimlessly seems a waste of time.  Tuesday at nine should bring Katar's, or Cariae's, "Storm the Castle" - while on Auzura three hours earlier there should be a "Cluedo" event, like the one at which RedRider won a crit potion a little while ago, so I must be sure to turn up for that.

I did have one disconnection this evening, at about 7:15, so letting SirGalahad pet-level overnight again probably isn't a good idea; better to let the modem have a rest.  He should still manage to get the horse to almost two-thirds of the way through level 32 by the time he logs out, though.

Into the Mirror Universe - January 4th

SirGalahad went back down into Merac's Maargadum Jail in the morning, and got his horse to level 33 soon after coffee.  Getting into position hadn't been easy, as the death mask soldiers had been perilously close to the entrance, but I finally managed to get them to lose interest.  With those aggressive types, and the beast crawlers, whose magic attack would probably kill Gal immediately if I clicked on one by mistake, it's not exactly a friendly place, but a death mask lancer makes an ideal sparring partner, he can take Gal's bare-handed 44 damage forever.

After coffee Kaerella went out on Cariae-1 to her spot near the Tomb of Theo, and fought the elite akane giant there and his friends.   Kamira must have had other engagements, as she never showed up this morning, but as Kae got a couple of +4 level 45 weapons, and no less than three of the rare production manuals for level 57 boots, it was still a potentially profitable session.  There was no solo party to join, or other players to party up with, but Kae still managed to add 10.66% experience, and 70 skill points, along with 917 pet points for SirFrancis.

The afternoon session involved SirGalahad and RedRyder going to the back room of Prokion Temple on Tairen-1 again, where everything ran smoothly.  A titan from the OrdenLatino guild, DESTRUCTOR, did charge in and do some orc-killing himself towards the end of the session, but there seemed to be enough orcs to go around.  I did wonder if he was moving suspiciously quickly, but probably not, I remember someone thinking my titan was "speed hacking" in that room, when I'd not have had the first idea how to go about that even if I wanted to.

By the end of the afternoon SirGalahad had added 26.02% and 138 skill points, while RedRyder had received 9.21% and 136 - they earned 213 and 35 guild points for Discipline, respectively.  It looks as if the non-fighting member of a Combat-type party does get almost exactly a sixth as much experience as the fighter, along with an equal share of the skill exp.

I just managed to get back from the food break in time for [GM]Valsharyn's European "Mad Monster Spawn" on Auzura-4; RedRider, my level 26 rogue, went along, and managed just to die four times.  Val's spawnings do seem to be becoming slightly more standard, but there were still monsters one doesn't see at an MMS usually, and thankfully no cave spirits - though one of Red's deaths was from a Fluton coming up behind me, using its flamethrower.  The loot that Red grabbed from the various spawnings of the Hands was about the usual, with 7 large attack and 10 large defence potions, 5 item drop boosters, 4 skill point boosters, 14 tool aids, and 26 small mana and 27 small health recovery pots.

The final "boss wave" included a lot of anubis spear men and sphinx fighters - but these were the "[mercenary]" versions, so couldn't actually be fought, they just stood around looking menacing.  I don't think Val intended to bring in that type, and indeed seemed to expect us to fight them - in the end she had to remove them with her GM powers.  We had seen them before at Prokion Temple during the "epic event" there, just adding an extra bit of colour...they were still  standing there the following morning.

The main evening session was, again, SirGalahad and RedRyder in Tairen-1's Prokion Temple.  Since it is entirely possible that after tomorrow night's maintenance the Tairen sub-servers, except 4 and 5, will finally be PvP-enabled, we may not have much more time when we can enjoy the first sub-server's Elizabeth's Enhancement buff without high-level people rushing around on killing sprees, it seems a good idea to make the most of what time we have.

My favourite back room was busy, and the corridor room too; in fact the whole place was pretty full of people busy farming their skill points.  SirGalahad ran around quite a lot of the place, in fact, with RedRyder clicked on him to follow, until finally I ventured into the other half of the place - which in some ways is a mirror image, but with the mobs changed around, and subtle differences.  I found the "back room" there free; the corridor outside has higher-level orcs than on the "normal" side, while the room itself has, as well as the orc sergeants and orc axemen, a few lower-level orc soldiers too.  The room seems bigger to me, although that may just be because it is better-lit, and has a step down at its entrance.

The only visitor I had, who stayed for a few minutes, was the knight Slymitor who, unless there is a subtle difference in the spelling, was SirGalahad's Guardian, back when Tairen was just starting.  It's surprising that he is still low enough to fight in Prokion Temple, since he was level 26 back before Christmas.  Anyway, I wasn't entirely sure I had remembered the name correctly, and he didn't say anything.  We hadn't really talked when he was Gal's Guardian, either, come to that, but the server was so new that he would hardly have been able to offer any assistance.

My stint there lasted for the whole three hours of the "Elizabuff" - and a few minutes beyond that, as Gal was, when it ran out, just 0.5% away from level 34, and it seemed a shame not to get him the extra 3 points of dexterity that levelling up offered.  It keeps him ahead of his horse, too.  In all SirGalahad went up by 38.08%, 217 skill points, and 316 guild points, while RedRyder added 13.73%, 218 skill points, and 53 guild points.

So, that was the end of the evening's adventuring.  SirGalahad just needs one more level before he can learn Canid Fence 2 to further increase his physical defence stat, which ought to make fighting a death mask lancer when one has a low-level pet (and thus not much in the way of the Armour Increase buff) a bit safer.  The new level has added 1 to Gal's bare-handed attack, moving it from 44 to 45, but the lancer seems okay with that - if necessary we can reduce it by 1 again, as his gloves have a "+4 physical prowess" bloodseal which could be removed. 

Anyway, the evening ended with SirGalahad down on level five of Maargadum Jail again, fighting the usual death mask lancer, and moving his reindeer-style horse past a third of the way into its 33rd level.

Storming the Castles - January 5th

An attempt to pet-level overnight was thwarted by a disconnection after not much more than an hour or so, but when SirGalahad returned to level five of Maargadum Jail before breakfast there was, at least, the Christmas Gift Box still waiting there.  He was able to do some pet-levelling until after coffee, and again over lunch - though, unusually for Tairen, he did get ks'd there, so that I came back to find him just standing next to the killed-and-respawned death mask lancer, having received just 1401 experience and 95 skill exp for his contribution to the creature's demise.

For the morning session, it seemed brighter than my usual plan to take SirGalahad and RedRyder to Prokion Temple on Tairen-1 - if it's the busiest place to go, why not go there at the quietest time of day?  This meant that I was able to use my favourite back room without any interruptions, so that by the time lunch was approaching Gal had earned 15.77%, 99 skill points, and 154 guild points, while Red was up by 6.48%, 98 skill points and 25 guild points.

Red left the room just before Gal did, so that I could compare what SirGalahad at level 34 got from a kill with a level 29 companion within range, with what he got when it was just basically a solo party.  In a solo party, an orc sergeant gave 8,536 experience and 5,500 skill exp, and an orc axeman gave 1,284 experience and 3,300 skill exp.  While the figures varied from kill to kill, with RedRyder nearby SirGalahad got approximately 18,000 experience and 4.400 skill exp from a sergeant, and 8,500 and 3,600 from an axeman.  Considering that Red gets that much skill exp too, and around a sixth as much experience, the Combat party works pretty well for them, though if I was trying to maximise Gal's skill exp this wouldn't be the best strategy.  Those figures include the doubling effect on both experience and skill exp from the "Elizabuff", and the halving effect on just the experience from the guild's 50% experience freeze.

With RedRyder's new skill points, and a few brought forward, back in town after lunch she was able to get the last level of alchemy, and start on the mining skill, which may even prove useful some time.  Then she headed for Misty Canyon and the Introducer Camios at its start, to get rid of the experience percentage; there were the usual buggy "double deaths", and, as has happened before, a death from which she couldn't be revived - even the five-minute countdown to respawning didn't work, so I had to log out and log back in again.  At least this gave SirGalahad enough time to get his horse into level 34 at last.

So, the afternoon main session was more of the same; I did have a visitor for a while, a level 31 rogue called soyelmejor, and there was enough orc-respawning for SirGalahad and her to keep busy - she is on Gal's and Red's Friends lists now.  When she reached level 32, of course, it was time for her to return to town and learn the new skills, so the session ended with just Gal and Red there again.  SirGalahad was up by another 22.44%; he had got slightly more experience than usual because he had used one of his "beginner" platinum blessed irises, which have to be used by level 35 anyway or they become useless.  They don't stack with the "Elizabuff", unsurprisingly, so it just added an extra 25% for an hour.  Gal got 121 skill points and 183 guild points.  RedRyder meanwhile got a new 8.21%, 119 skill points and 31 guild points.

SirGalahad then switched over to the older computer for some pet-levelling.  By the time I was ready to get active again, the six o'clock, UK time, "Cluedo" event was getting close, so I logged MrChuckNorris in over on Auzura-4.  The first of the three questions was someone who was not generally known to be an enthusiast for cars, which led Chuck to suggest Paul Newman - but the second clue mentioned that he was British, had made at least a couple of films, and was known for his mimicry, so "Rowan Atkinson?" was my suggestion to [GM]Noboru - and yes, MrChuckNorris was the winner of that round.

Luckily I didn't get the other two answers; a famous sportsperson turned out to be Martina Navratilova - well, with "Venus Williams?" I at least had the right sport.  xXDarkKillerXx won that one, I think.  The third clue started with "This person accomplished outstanding work in two different areas, one being humanitarian work" - and Zemilho was straight in with "Angelina Jolie", which was the correct answer, when all I was mulling over was the possibility that it might be Bill Gates.

As one or two people complained, it is a rather slow event, and it was after half past six by the time [GM]Noboru kindly traded across my prize, which, like RedRider's at the previous event, was a large crit potion.  RedRider got William Shakespeare, and MrChuckNorris got Rowan Atkinson, so there is certainly plenty of variety in the questions that [GM]Valsharyn thinks up.  A shame we didn't get a parade or anything this time.

The main evening session was over on Cariae-1, out in the Dratan desert with Kaerella, fighting the elite akane giant and his chums.  I was in a solo party led by bluray, as Kae has been a number of times, and he was showing pretty much saintly tolerance of a level 27 Brazilian player called  "fatalidgtty", not kicking them from the party despite the requests for power-levelling and gold - and I think he even followed Blu to Strayana and went within compass range to leach some experience from him as he fought the dark harpies, or some such local monsters.

Another party member left briefly and then returned, saying they'd killed Kamira - but it turned out that that had involved a shift to Cariae-2, and before too long the Cariae-1 version make a visit to me.  So, Kae logged out and Keerella logged in and rode down, fighting Kammy easily enough.  There was no rare drop, but there were the usual goodies, including lucky scrolls, a crystal of experience (greater), moonstones, tool aids, and so on.  I finally added the location to Kee's memory scroll, to save time in future; she had got Lust Trum tower as one of her five memorised spots, but it is now possible to use a teleporter NPC to get there straight from Egeha village, to make things simpler for new night shadows.

Kaerella returned to her farming, and by the time nine o'clock was approaching, had added 14.44%, plus 91 skill points and 1123 pet points.  Three more of the level 57 boot production manuals had dropped, but I was told that they are not as valuable now as they used to be, though if I actually made the boots, they still sell for a million or three.

At a little after 8:50 Kaerella logged out, and for a change, given the choice of attending the Cariae or Katar "Storm The Castle" events, I opted for Cariae, and logged in my level 101 archer, Barbarienne.  For Cariae, it was just as well I did, as there were only four of us there when the event kicked off, with thorny mantises, jumping devils, death knights, and baals.  The slightly creepy gamesage ADISA was the only one there when I arrived, and she, an assassin type rogue, fought well; more people arrived as the minutes passed, and we fought our way through the zamoras, anubis spear men, hell-otuu, and dark harpies.  When the inner courtyard seemed clear, suddenly a number of blue dragons appeared - and while we were dealing with those, some Judge Ballacks too, but by then we were more than a match for such beasties.  A frantic rush followed to find where the reward of the Hands of loot would be spawned, but the GM, Stratos, put up a message that they were inside the castle, his first actual interaction with us - and Barb managed to grab, I think, around twelve goodies, plus a few tool aids and the inevitable small recovery pots.

Hatzring and Sarissa followed at 9:30, but, strangely, Auzura was added to the list as starting at ten, despite [GM]Valsharyn having done his own "STC" recently.  So, My local level 72 rogue Rage logged in in time for that, and teleported out to the location.  Again we started with very few people, when without any announcement the first groups of monsters appeared on the bridge.  I had rather assumed everything would be the same, but when after the main area was cleared I headed for the inner courtyard, expecting the blue dragons to appear, nothing happened - we had fought generally the same monsters until then, with perhaps a few extra wafes, male assassin bugs, and of all things some death mask lancers, but the inner courtyard remained empty, and the loot wasn't spawned in there - it was done in the traditional manner for castle-storming, with a good number of nice big piles outside the castle.  It was certainly a lot more loot than Cariae had got, and Cariae hadn't done badly.  Barbarienne had added 0.27% from her efforts, but, being quite a few levels lower, Rage added 2.27%.

Through it all SirGalahad on the older computer had been spending the evening with his death mask lancer, pet-levelling, and getting his horse past the halfway stage in level 34.  As the regular weekly server maintenance is scheduled for 1:00am, there is no point in trying to leave him at work there overnight.  The Christmas event will end then, and no doubt a new patch of some sort will be applied.  Will the pet polar bears finally be on sale in the item mall, and if so, how much will they cost?  They may be the sort of item that one ought not to buy until a "tiered spender event" gives a special bonus for buying expensive stuff.

Spawning the Mad Monsters - January 6th

The overnight maintenance and patch got rid of the Christmas event - but if I wanted to see great big snowflakes falling, I don't need to go to Randol, I could just look out of the window, since it was snowing heavily all morning here near London, and much of the afternoon too.  It was no great surprise that the Christmas Tree Ornaments one had got in one's inventory had vanished, or the reindeer transformation books either, but it was a bit surprising that the shiny Santa hats had gone too, despite having 30-day countdowns running.  I assume if they were actually melded to one's armour's headgear they survived, but other ones, which could be worn in town, are all gone. The one-day merchant and warehouse tickets are also gone, even if they had a few hours remaining to their countdown.  And SirGalahad's horse is now back to the regular horse form, rather than being a reindeer - as is Barbarienne's faithful pet, after being a reindeer for the whole of the last year.  One item that does remain in Gal's inventory though is the "Pet Restore Spell Book", promising that "Rudolph will return to the original pet form" if it is used.

So, the Christmas event was a bit of a misfire; the buff for increased drops for an hour which the main tree in Randol gave seems, anecdotally, to have worked, but not in a huge way, while Christmas Gift Boxes were more of an annoyance than anything else, with the platinum drop boosters the only good item, and the Santa hats, which couldn't be stored, traded, or dropped, more of an inconvenience than a prize.

The new patch has apparently improved Roy's merchant mart's efficiency, to make its pages load more quickly, but we are told that there are absolutely no bug fixes this time; the Korean developers must have been too busy with their own winter festivities I suppose...  So, Tairen is still alll non-PvP, and the polar bear pets are still only seen as raffle prizes.

Anyway, SirGalahad went to Maargadum Jail at breakfast time, and did some pet-levelling safely until after coffee, when he and RedRyder went to Prokion Temple on Tairen-1.  Gal added 18.60% and 182 guild points, while Red got 9.42% and 36 guild points - they also got 118 skill points each, so that now RedRyder has finished maximising her mining skills, and started on the flawless (quality) stone processing skill.

Over lunch, SirGalahad managed to get his horse to level 35, so that it is now a level ahead of him.  That doesn't increase a pet's hunger, though, it has to be two levels ahead before it starts getting through the quality stones twice as quickly, which stops the possibility of overnight pet-levelling.

For the afternoon, SirGalahad and RedRyder returned to Tairen-1's Prokion Temple.  It was pretty busy, though, so we ended up in the "mirror" back room again.  For some reason Red seemed to get attacked rather more often there as she stood in the doorway, so she did a little bit of fighting as well, but the main experience gain was SirGalahad's, at 18.52%, along with 137 skill points and 180 guild points, while RedRyder got 14.25%, 136 skill points and 54 guild points.

SirGalahad switched over to the older computer, and went back to pet-levelling, and then after I'd had my food break, and watched the final episode, at last, of season two of "Merlin", it was time for Kaerella to put in an appearance on Cariae-1.

I joined a solo party, which included another cleric, the level 50 Cariss, and a witch, MIDNIGHT, of about our level too.  If we'd had an elementalist sorcerer we'd have had all the rare breeds!  Kae went out to the elite akane giant as usual, and it wasn't too long before Kamira put in her appearance.  My mage Keerella dealt with her easily enough, but without getting a rare item, and Kae returned and continued her stint.  However, at around 7:30 UK time we were all urged to log out, as an emergency maintenance/server reboot was needed, apparently to fix some sort of logging on problem - well, such things do happen on the day after a patch, even a minor one.  One party member wasn't happy as he'd got a full range of pots going, including power, health stealer, and pssp, so I suggested he should take a screen shot to show them as active, and submit a ticket to get a reimbursement.- though he may only lose 5 or 10 minutes of his hour, I suppose.

By then Kaerella had gone up 10.32% and added 66 skill points, so that was a decently substantial session; 798 pet points were gained, too.  The downtime, which we had been led to think would be brief, became rather longer, with as usual the forum shoutbox pretty active.  The first Mad Monster Spawn had been due to start at 8:00 on Katar-4, followed at half hour intervals by Cariae, Sarissa, Hatzring, Auzura and, with a low-level one only, Tairen, so things were starting to get a little awkward.

Luckily, service was resumed just in time, and my level 31 rogue Memree went along to the low level Mad Monster Spawn spot on Katar-4 - to find all the usual low-level monsters waiting, but no other players!  So, I had the whole lot to myself, blue-named, green-named, and a few white-named, and picked them off one by one.  The elite sand golems kindly dropped three of the "soft sand" quest item which Memree happens to need, which was useful, and a little bit of cash was dropped by other monsters.  And then [GM]JediMike looked in.  "Memree?  You the only person here?"  And he spawned some goodies, said "Enjoy", and left, returning to the main senior event.  So I had the whole event to myself...

Moving on to Cariae at 8:30, my level 27 rogue Karella went to the junior MMS, and here I wasn't alone - why, there must have been at least four of us!  We didn't take long to get rid of all the monsters, and the spawning of hands was rather larger than Memree's personal one, so Karella probably did as well if not better than she did, loot-wise.  There was a few minutes for me to prepare for the next one, which was lucky, as my healer Kaerella on Sarissa was only level 7; I didn't have enough gold to buy her any better armour, but I could at least afford a level nine bow, to increase her attack power a bit.  I ran out to the junior MMS location, near the lake where the Great Horn Beasts are, and was ready, along with a very few other people, when the monsters arrived.  Even the berserk zombies were a bit high for Kae there, but I was in a party, and made myself useful picking up loot, and attacking monsters that had already fixed their aggro on someone else.  It was useful that I had picked up some cash, as it meant that when I got killed and respawned back in town, I was able to afford a couple more memory scrolls.  I ran back using a haste potion, and carefully added the location to my memory scroll, in case I died again.  We had a level 32 sorcerer in the party, and when after we'd picked up our rewards JediMike offered us a second wave he said "sure" - so the slightly higher type of monsters got spawned, and when we had finally dealt with them all, a second lot of loot was presented to us.  The first party I was in didn't last very long, but I was recruited to a second party, which included level 39 and level 50 rogues, who some might consider a bit high-level for the event... something you can't say about Kae, though she did go up from level 7 to 8 during it.

Hatzring was at 9:30 - we only got one wave there, as [GM]JediMike said that he saw some high-level types among us.  Kaerella there was level 10, so had a slightly easier time of it than on the previous server - berserk zombies were still tricky though!  Some useful loot and a bit of cash got picked up.  Again, before the start I'd bought Kae a better bow, and I also took the precaution of getting the location onto her memory scroll, in case of problems.  The event, with the single wave, only lasted five minutes, but it was a profitable time.

At ten it was Auzura's time for the event, so my local level 26 rogue RedRider took her turn.  Again there were very few of us there, and JediMike did ask if I wouldn't rather be at the main MMS - but I said I was only level 26, so would find the monsters there a bit high.  We cleared the monsters out, and got our loot - and then for a change I used a memory scroll to move over to the high-level Mad Monster Spawn, where sure enough the monsters were indeed a bit intimidating, well over level 100 most of them.  I helped out using Snare on a number of them, but 10:30 came up, and there wasn't a spawning of loot, so I logged out of Auzura, and went over to Tairen, confident that there at least the low-level MMS would have a good turn-out, as that was the only one being done there.

RedRyder hurried out to the location, and it certainly made a change to be one of dozens of people fighting.  We actually got three waves, with the third lot getting decidedly dangerous, at least from a level 29 rogue's standpoint.  But as ever the GM was very generous with the amount of loot he dropped, and from the three spawnings of Hands after the three waves, I got roughly 14 to 19 each of the good items (skill point and item drop boosters, large defence and attack potions), plus plenty of tool aids and the recovery pots.

Apart from Tairen, it looks as if the "junior" Mad Monster Spawns are losing their appeal now, which is a shame, but it made for a varied and fun evening.  SirGalahad kept pet-levelling in Maargadum Jail of course, getting the horse to a bit past halfway through level 35 at the end.

Who Nicked the Teleporters? - January 7th

Generally, pet-levelling on the new Tairen server has been pretty trouble-free, without people trying to get my pet or my character killed.  I think SirGalahad was ks'd three times, that is, he had the monster he was fighting killed, to just leave him standing there uselessly - but last night, shortly before logging out, I noticed that he seemed to have slightly more activity going on next to him that one death mask lancer ought to provide.  Looking closely, I found that not one but two death mask soldiers were also attacking, occupying roughly the same space as the lancer, and I can only conclude that some little sweetums had deliberately lured them on to me.

Luckily, although they are "pet-eaters", neither of them had attacked my horse; the standard thing would be for one's pet to be killed, reducing one's defence stat by 250, and then the decrease in one's defence might mean they would then kill SirGalahad.  However, it looked to me as if Gal was holding his own - still, I had to do a bit of running around to get the soldiers to "reset" themselves, before I could continue the one-versus-one with the lancer.

There were no such problems this morning, though, and SirGalahad pet-levelled from breakfast until coffee.  Then it was time for him to make another trip to Prokion Temple on Tairen-1, along with RedRyder.  As usual for a morning adventure, the back room was clear, though I was followed into the room by a knight called redbull, who asked for a party - so I added him to the team.  He was level 25, and I don't think his armour was all that good, as he seemed to get through a lot of health potions, and often had to make a run for it.  I had to keep an eye on his health bar, and be ready to fight the orc sergeants and orc axemen that had clustered around him.

Another knight called tareghamedabdALH had been working nearby, and he came in to join us too, getting added to the combat party.  He was level 26, and generally kept a pretty full health bar - but that back room can be dangerous if you don't have a full +10 armour set, and there were times when he had to run to safety too.  He did at least understand English, unlike redbull who I think was Brazilian.

The extra Combat party bonus must have helped SirGalahad along, as by the end of the session he reached level 35, his target for full-on pet-levelling.  He had gone up 26.67%, and added 142 skill points, plus 265 guild points; he stayed on for a couple of percent beyond the new level to get the skill point total to 3,060.  Back in Randol he spent the odd 60 to learn Canid Fence 2, so that leaves exactly 3,000 spare skill points, at least until any deaths happen.  And then, over on the older computer, off Gal went to Maargadum Jail again.  With the full 250 defence from 30 levels of his pet's Armour Increase buff, he now has a defence stat of 1552; with 4 more points in dexterity, he now hits his death mask lancer bare-handed for 46, though equipping the "Dash Neckless of Knight", with its additional 16 strength, shows that the lancer can just about manage to absorb a blow of 51, though the hit rate involved would also be a consideration.

RedRyder had actually added 1.20%, 5 skill points, and 9 guild points last night at the Mad Monster Spawn, but the morning's outing added another 24.38%, 162 skill points, and 93 guild points, since Red did do a reasonable amount of fighting whenever an orc came within range.  After the lunch break, Red spent all her sp to finish flawless stone processing, and get some levels of herbalism and energy absorption too, and then headed off to Misty Canyon to get rid of her current experience percentage.

After that, RedRyder had her own solo session in Prokion Temple; the back room was in use, so I used the "corridor room", which, going by a couple of gold drops still on the floor, had only recently been vacated by someone.  Before long a titan called "sombra" came in and started fighting there too; he didn't stay all that long, but a specialist sorcerer called TheClown, who must have been at least level 32 as he had the red devil and pinhead knight transformations, did stay rather longer.  It was a relief when he left at last, and I had the place to myself again, as there aren't really enough orcs to keep two people fully occupied.

It made a change to fight as Red again there; being the same level as orc sergeants she gets better drops than SirGalahad, for a start, and there were a couple of hands of bravery.  I kept going until Red had got 394 skill points, which added 82.43% (so a full level would be 478 skill points, fighting mainly sergeants and axemen); that also added 313 guild points, and enough pet points to get Red's dragon hatchling up to level ten.

Back in Randol, RedRyder was able to finish learning both herbalism and energy absorption, which means that she just needs eight kinds of processing skills to finish off her special selection. - that will take another 986 skill points, by my calculations.  Then it was time to visit Misty Canyon and its Introducer Camios again, for some more deaths.  There were as ever a number of "double deaths", respawning at the point of death and immediately getting killed again, which in these circumstances is no problem; there was also a "stay dead" death, meaning that I could only log out, log back in, and return, to continue.

By then it was pretty close to time for my early evening food break.  SirGalahad had been working all afternoon in Jail, and had got the horse into level 36, its final level before it is able to become a fully buffing mount.  Since Gal had only recently reached level 35, that was pretty good timing - maybe tomorrow Red will be able to live up to her name, and ryde, er, ride!

For the main early part of the evening, well, it was Kaerella time - but in this case I thought that, if there are further low-level Mad Monster Spawns, it would be a good idea to get my Kaerella on Hatzring up a few levels.  So, for a couple of hours or so my level 11 Kaerella fought, first of all, a few jaguars for the Geres Necklace quest, and then went into Velpist Temple.  After killing a few wandering zombies, it was time to go upstairs to the level 12 ancient zombies, and the level 14 berserk variety - and by the time I logged out, Kae had gone up five levels, her dragon hatchling had gone up two levels, and she had gained 225 skill points - which, I thought, wouldn't go very far when it came to spending them.

At 7:30 UK timethere was a Parade billed for the European server, being held on Auzura-2, so I upgraded to the local level 67 Kaerella, and went along..  It took me a little while to actually find the paraders; this was a solo operation for [GM]Noboru, who was dropping firecrackers and transformation scrolls in the traditional way.  It was pleasant enough, but it did tend to end up with people asking for the GM to give them weapons or armour or money, which she couldn't really do - the description of the event had mentioned that "you may receive prizes", but that presumably just meant the firecrackers and transformation scrolls...oh, and I did managed to grab a drop of 1,111 gold, which doesn't really make me significantly richer than before.

The "hang out with the GM" part did rather go on for a while, as [GM]Noboru was better at saying goodbye than actually leaving, and, well, it's rude to leave before the GM, right?  This meant that things overlapped with the "Choose Your Event" event, which started on Katar-4 at 8:00; I took my level 27 rogue Karella along to the Cariae-4 version half an hour later, but it all seemed a bit strange.  As far as I could see there was no sign of the promised teleporter outside Randol's north gate, just an announcement to meet outside the Temple of Forgetfulness.  It didn't seem a bad idea to ride down from Prokion, which Karella had on her memory scroll, and get that location onto the scroll too, so I did that, but I was either too early or too late, and, while I managed to run as far as the Barren Eise, the comparatively high-level local monsters double-killed me then.  It was only a few minutes later that the announcement came up that, by choosing one of two possible teleporters somewhere in the Temple, Katar had voted for an event of 175% experience, and Cariae had voted for 175% skill exp... but as this would apparently run from 11:00pm tonight, UK time, for three hours, this all seems a bit academic for us Europeans.  The other servers were to follow in an easily remembered order, Sarissa, Hatzring, Auzura, and Tairen, though how many people on Tairen can get to the far end (?) of the Forgotten Temple to "vote", I'm not sure.

Back on Hatzring, Kaerella completed a couple of minor quests, mined some quality stones for her hatchling, and spent all her skill points - and then, it seemed like a good idea to get Prokion Temple onto her memory scroll, so Kae made the run out to Shuraine's oasis and on to the Temple.  I had planned just to kill a ghoul or three, and maybe pick up any gold drops that were handy, but a level 26 healer called XAngelicX very kindly invited me into a party, and also recruited a level 25 rogue called XDevilx.  Just killing ghouls, mummies, and orc soldiers and fighters got Kae up to level 17 pretty quickly - and swiftly on to level 18 as well.  Sadly, it was getting late by then, so soon after reaching level 18 I had to log out.

I had been expecting to log my level 72 rogue Rage in on Auzura for the voting in the Temple of Forgetfulness - she actually does have the location on her memory scroll.  That was scheduled for ten o'clock, UK time - but about ten minutes before that, it was announced that the Auzura vote was in.  Three servers were in favour of the extra skill exp, two in favour of extra experience, with just Tairen left.  So, there was no point in logging Rage in, which was just as well as it would have made a rather late night for me.  At about ten past, the vote was in, and skill exp had won - the extra 75% started then, and would apparently continue until 2:00am.

Through it all SirGalahad had been faithfully pet-levelling, and his horse is now more than halfway through its final level - which means that it would overshoot the target if things were left running overnight.  Tomorrow, though, the mount will be finished.

RedRyder Gets Her Mount - January 8th

SirGalahad logged in at breakfast time for his final session pet-levelling his first horse, and kept going until lunchtime - it was a little before one o'clock, UK time, when the horse reached level 37 and his job was completed.  RedRyder made a solo party with him after coffee, and went to the back room of Tairen-1's Prokion Temple, for a usefully uninterrupted session there which added 407 skill points, enough to learn the processing of all three different kinds of energy, while going up 79.36%.  There was just time before lunch for Red to get those skills, and then head out to teleporter Sellma in Merac, to enter Misty Canyon and get the Introducer Camios there to wipe out that experience gain, 3% at a time.

After lunch SirGalahad traded the horse, and his sellable loot, across to RedRyder, who traded the loot, plus her own acquisitions, on across to MistressDomino - and then got her horse turned into a mount, before using most of her tool aids for some mining and green herb leaf farming.  Most of the results were passed on to MD, and then a good number of quality stones were in turn traded to SirGalahad.  Gal himself did the pan flute quest, which just involves taking one to Lorraine in Randol and then going on to Jajan in Dratan - once he had got his new pony, he went off back to Maargadum Jail.

So, this new horse started from zero pet points on level five of the Jail, with Gal fighting the death mask lancer there.  Even without the Armour Increase buff, Gal's health kept steady, thanks to that new Canid Fence 2 passive skill keeping his physical defence stat at 1302.  The pony's degree of sympathy started at 50%, but by the time it levelled up for the first time, to level 2, it was 58%, then 66% when it reached level 3, and 75% the next time - so if I'd taken Gal back to town to get a level or two of Armour Increase, he'd get that percentage of the full defence increase for that level.  Equip a pet and its sympathy increases, keep it unequipped for too long and its sympathy starts to fall again.

Over on Hatzring-1, Kaerella went back out to Prokion Temple, and was able to get to the room with just level 19 mummies plus a single orc soldier.  I did get a disconnection there, but noticed that I had more experience when I logged back in - I must have killed the mummy I was fighting while in the process of losing the connection.  Almost as soon as level 20 was reached Kae returned to Randol - I stayed very slightly longer just to get her skill points up to 65 again, for a speed-increasing passive skill, Elven Walk.

Among the quests available in Randol at level 20 now is the one that just involves receiving the special accessory for one's class, so Kae went straight to the Master Healer and got the "Holly Neckless of Healer" - the spelling of our Korean chums doesn't get any better, does it?  It won't work after Kae passes level 35, but until then it gives her 16 more intelligence, 100 more mana, 9 more magical attack, and adds 20% more to the rate of her mana recovery, so it's useful.

A trip out into Juno to visit Hunter Dranore, Wild Collector Kal, and Border Guard Tamon ended the afternoon; a quest reward from Dranore meant that at last Kae does have three accessories to equip, which is progress.

The European event for today was, at five o'clock, a "Pandora's Beast Event", which, apart from the earlier timing, was exactly like any other such one.  "Pandoras Beasts have been spotted throughout Juno, Dratan, and Merac!  It's up to you, Heroes to track down and destroy them all!  Take heed, these monsters do not like to go down easily, but reward greatly those who can defeat them!"  As the Beasts only come in two varieties, the level 30 bandit-types from Merac and the level 50 larvae-types from Dratan, I decided to take my junior wizard MistressBlaze along, since at level 47 she seemed the most likely character to get some benefit.

It always has been a rather under-performing event.  MistressBlaze did get around 50,000 experience for each level 50 Beast she killed, but that is only 0.03-0.04%, so not exactly dramatic, and the skill exp is no better than for any other level 50 monster.  As for "rewarded greatly", well in my experience they only drop gold, and never more than 900 at a time.  In contrast, as I was riding through Merac looking for another group to fight, I came across a Pandora's Box, which when I opened it released a Merac Blood Frenzy-type level 50 Beast, and when I killed it, it dropped a not untypical 96,000 gold.

I'm afraid MistressBlaze is a little out of practice, and somehow at the last spawning point managed to attract too many of the Beasts, and by trying to take them all down with Flame Storm, rather underestimated their attack power.  So that was another resurrection scroll used; MB revived on the spot, once they had moved away, and took her revenge after re-applying horse buffs, but it is annoying when that sort of thing happens.

After that, it seemed like a good change of pace for Tairen's Kaerella to log in.  She was at level 7, and I noticed that she had just over three "hours" left (or a 24th of that in real time, say eight minutes) of the "Christmas Blessing" buff from the tree remaining, which was supposed to increase one's chance of drops.  But, with one exception right at the end, Kae only got the usual gold drops from the jaguars and, returning after a visit to town, in a shorter session she got a hunter bow, a small healing potion and a moonstone box, which is much more typical of a few minutes on that hill.  The one exception I mentioned was a "double drop" I've never come across before, though - a hand of the guard (item drop booster, skill point booster, and two tool aids) and a heaven stone!

I got Tairen's Kaerella to level 10, mainly getting those jaguar claws for Geres to make into necklaces; I made the trip out to Velpist Temple to get that location onto her memory scroll, and then made the run through the Dratan desert to get Prokion Temple's location memorised too.  I went into Proki, but didn't try fighting anything.  Now that she is level 10, it's a matter of either leaving her at that level for a while, or, if she is going to go further, getting her into the Guardian system before level 11 is reached, and then getting her to level 20 within the deadline, so that she gets the useful level 21 "event weapon" bow.

Back on Hatzring, I gave Kaerella there another hour's worth of activity in the mummy room.  All this server-changing gets confusing, I was surprised to see in another room somebody with PvP mode on... but it's Tairen where that isn't yet enabled!  I was keeping an eye on the forum shoutbox too, and making the occasional contribution - I was among those asking [GM]OgreKing why the Europe-time "Happy Hours" seem to have been discontinued, but he didn't seem to quite grasp the problem.

Kaerella, Hatzring version, reached level 22, which means she can use a level 25 bow, and wear the 25/27 armour set, so should be a bit more useful the next time there is a low-level Mad Monster Spawn.  Assuming that there are more of those, which after yesterday's low turn-outs, can't really be guaranteed.

SirGalahad meanwhile had kept busy, getting his new pony up to 100% sympathy - and, with any luck, up to level 10 before things close down for the night.  He did get his lancer ks'd once, gosh I hope the person, who I just glimpsed heading on down towards the Jail's final room, didn't get killed by the "Death Knight" boss character there, or anything.  I often don't see the actual killing of my pet-leveller's sparring partner, but do notice the "rising mist" effect as the body evaporates.

Desert Slog - January 9th

Once again SirGalahad started work on level five of Maargadum Jail before breakfast, with his new level 10 pony - and he had a productive morning, so that the pony was well into level 12 by lunchtime.

After coffee RedRyder headed for Tairen-1's Prokion Temple, though this time she was able to apply the horse buffs before entering, which added usefully to her attack for a few minutes.  It being Saturday, the place was a lot busier than usual at that sort of time of day, so I ended up in the "mirror" half.  There was a useful corner just beyond the local equivalent of the corridor room, and I settled in there for a while, killing mainly orc sergeants - but it was actually too rich in the sergeants, with not enough orc axemen, which, given that the sergeants give a lower ratio of skill exp to experience, meant that Red wouldn't be able to get the target of 407 skill points without levelling up. 

At 25% experience, Red had only got 97 skill points, so I moved along into the "mirror" version of the back room, where there were more axemen, and a few orc soldiers as well - and that worked better, at 50% I'd got 218 sp, so I was well on target.  By the time I'd got the 407 sp I was after, the experience had reached 89.39% which, while just over 10% more than last time, was reasonable and safe.  272 guild points and 1123 pet points had also been acquired.

After RedRyder got back to Randol, she was able to learn all three kinds of herb processing skills from the Herbologist Trainer, and then there was just time to go across to Misty Canyon and get the Introducer Camios to kill Red thirty times, to get the experience percentage safely back to zero.

I'm afraid that I missed the Auzura "Storm the Castle" event today, but Saturday lunchtime is not that convenient a time for such things.  I hope that [GM]Valsharyn had a good turn-out for it, though last week wasn't up to her usual standards of innovation, and the hands spawned were a little on the meagre side.  It was a bit later than one o'clock before I logged on again, and that was over on the Sarissa server for a change.

Kaerella on Sarissa went up from level 7 to level 8 at the last low-level Mad Monster Spawn, so I wanted to do at least a little work on her, and, with a little help from the jaguars, got her up to level 10, and added Velpist temple to her memory scroll before fighting a few wandering zombies in there.  I didn't, again, want to go past level 10, to leave the Guardian option open.  The cash picked up at the MMS meant that Kae could at least afford a level 13 bow; and I did have one bit of good luck, I opened a Pandora's Box which released, rather than the usual homicidal level 30 Beast, 50,000 gold, which does really help Kae along.

For the second half of the afternoon, I switched back to RedRyder on Tairen-1.  My favourite back room was available, so getting the last 172 skill points I needed to "max out" her final available special skills, flawed stone and imperfect stone processing, didn't take too long.  The 43.66% experience gained was soon wiped out by the Introducer Camios, though I did have one "perma-death", meaning I had to log out and then return.

RedRyder did actually have a visitor in that back room, a level 25 rogue called Rogue123, who asked for a party but didn't say anything else.  I don't mind partying with people there, unless I'm using a pssp or something, but she didn't last long - I'd just taken my eyes off the screen long enough to make a note of her name and level, and when I looked again she was no longer in the room, either dead or fled.  She left the party soon afterwards.  Well, it is a dangerous room for people who don't have good armour yet.

There was just time after that for a different sort of short experimental session for RedRyder, before the early evening food break.  Now that she needs to stash away as many skill points as possible for future use, the ratio of skill exp to experience becomes even more important, especially if one doesn't intend to buy more platinum super skill pills, skill point boosters, etc for a character.  At level 29, with a solo party and with the 50% experience freeze plus Elizabeth's Enhancement, killing a level 25 orc fighter gives 6600 skill exp (almost two-thirds of a skill point) and 8985 experience, while killing a level 23 orc soldier gives 4400 se and just 1327 experience.  Killing a level 19 mummy though isn't much use, that just gives 2 se and 720 experience now.

So, including an experimental kill or two, for the first percent of experience Red managed, killing orc soldiers, to add 22 skill points, and for the whole short session she gained 2.10% and 50 skill points - so at that rate it would be possible to get around 2,400 skill points before reaching level 30.  To do the killing at a reasonable speed though, I'll need to choose fairly quiet times in Prokion Temple for that.

After the break, my level 101 archer Barbarienne spent quite a while looking through Roy's stock of high-level bows.  I was hoping that there might be some level 101 bows around, but there were none at all for sale; a number of 97 ones, and 109 ones, at varying prices, though it looks as if Barb's current budget of 450 million would be just enough to upgrade from her current level 85 one to a 97-er.  That's something to investigate further - it's not just the "plus", it's the colour of the title text, and the number of seals - a blue-name bow hits harder than an equivalent green-name one, though if the green-name one has a good hit rate bonus that might make up for it.  All complicated stuff!

There was, however, time for Kaerella to do a full three-hour session on Cariae-1, out with the elite akane giant and its companions.  I joined a solo party, and from sticking around long enough became its leader, so had to remember to re-submit it every time we got to the full eight members and someone left. Members included another cleric, or at least, at level 31, cleric-to-be, Curucuar, and a few others who did chat a bit, but many were strong silent types.

Kamira did not put in an appearance, so Kae kept busy for the full length of the Elizabeth's Enhancement buff, and by the end had added a substantial 32.21%, and 169 skill points, along with 2040 pet points for SirFrancis - so that means that Kaerella is getting fairly close to level 52 now.  That's not a level with any new skills, level 53 is when the first level of Party Heal 2 comes along, allowing a cleric to heal all party members within range for 300 health points, which is slightly better than the lower-level Party Heal, though it costs more mana.  It's useful to have both skills available I guess.

Throughout the whole day, SirGalahad had kept going on the older computer, which seems to not be getting that "run out of memory" error anything like as quickly as it used to, at least temporarily.  So, plenty of progress was made down on level five of Maargadum Jail, with the little pony becoming a larger and more elegant horse, which should reach level 18 by the time we finish for the night.

Lighter Work - January 10th

I did make an attempt to keep SirGalahad at his pet-levelling overnight, but when I checked up on him just before lights out, there had been a disconnection so, not really feeling up to going through all the rigmarole of getting Gal back online, into Merac, and down to level five, I switched off the computer for the night.

Still, my knight in Steel armour was back in action at breakfast time on Sunday, and kept busy throughout the day, sparring with his favourite death mask lancer.  He didn't get ks'd during the day, though the room did have a few visitors - I did see someone getting killed when a couple of the magic-attack beast crawlers got involved in the fight.

There wasn't any time for an active morning session, however, as some shopping had to be done - and on Sunday our lazy local supermarket doesn't open until eleven, which rather rules out an after-coffee session.

Still, the afternoon was business as usual, with RedRyder in a solo party with SirGalahad, going to Prokion Temple on Tairen-1. The idea continued to be to just fight orc soldiers, and while it was fairly slow going, particularly when other people decided to share the room, progress was made.  There do seem to be a lot of rogues around in the Temple at the moment - while the mage mageBr shared the room sometimes, otherwise it was all rogues - Reebeeka, Cecil, and xXxVampiRoguexXx mainly.

RedRyder added 323 skill points while going up 12.90%, which seemed good to me.  It's interesting that a death costs 3% experience, as a figure, and 2% of one's unused skill points, as a percentage, so a single death would take Red down from 15% to 12%, and reduce her skill points from 373 to 365; dying five times would get her right down to the start of level 29 again, but still with 337 skill points, if my calculations are correct.  If I take her up to 24% she ought to get about 598 skill points - and be left with 509 after eight deaths.  The higher I would take her before heading off to the Introducer Camios, the more skill points she would be left with, but the number of sp lost from all the deaths continues to rise too, so it wouldn't really be worth going all the way to 99% I think.

The pre-Quiz part of the evening was a good opportunity for Kaerella on Cariae-1 to go back out the the elite akane giant and its pals; there was no solo party available so I teamed up with someone on the list of prospective party members, and then registered us as a solo party.  We managed to recruit a few people, and after a while bluray himself joined.  He asked to be leader, so that saved me the trouble of allowing applications and so on.  Judging by the occasional "the item is not enough" pop-up window, he was in the cube system again.

It wasn't a hugely long session; if you must know, I'd got slightly delayed by watching "Chicken Run" on the BBC iPlayer, which stood up pretty well to being watched again.  But Kaerella did add 14.91%, taking her into level 52, plus 87 skill points, taking her above 9,000 unused sp, and 1004 pet points.  One party member thought they were bugged and would have to relog, they couldn't get Elizabeth to give them her Enhancement buff - we had to break it to them gently that at level 62 they were too high, you only get that buff up to level 60.  Once again Kamira snubbed me and stayed away...

But by about 8:15 the announcements for the Quiz were starting to advise us to head for the quiz room, so, after just about twelve hours at work, SirGalahad logged out, with the horse near the top of level 21, and MistressDomino logged in on Tairen-2.  Kaerella logged out on Cariae-1, and her level 10 namesake logged in on Tairen-2 also.

The quiz started on time, and ran pretty smoothly - only the question about [GM]JediMike running the Old Skool Treasure Hunt caught out many people, perhaps a third of us vanished from the wrong side of the room then.  Kae and MD got their 10 tool aids after question ten, their 10 moonstones after question fifteen, the 5 heaven stones after question eighteen, and the other 10 heaven stones after question twenty...and then stayed on the wrong side for the next question, so that they respawned back in town.

SirGalahad headed back to Maargadum Jail, and soon got the horse into level 22.  As usual after the quiz the servers were pretty busy, so it was hard to log characters back in - first you get a "time out", and then because of lag the server thinks you are logged in, and gives you the "account ID already logged in" error on your subsequent attempts.  It only took a couple of minutes, though, to briefly check up on MistressDomina over on Auzura, and then log Rage in on Tairen-1.  Unlike the Auzura version, I couldn't get the name "RAGE" here, so she is in fact "xRAGEx" - very fashionable, an exxtra "X" or two!

This wasn't a character I'd done any work on for Tairen, but if RedRyder is going to be carrying unused skill points, it may end up being useful having an alternative rogue for Mad Monster Spawns.  Anyway, there wasn't time for anything more important, so Rage fought foxes and deer, and wolves, and then elder wolves, dire wolves, and berserk wolves, so that, with the "Elizabuff" on, she got to level 7 fairly quickly.  There will soon come a point at which I have to decide whether it's Rage, Kaerella or MistressDomino who join the Guardian system, and speed straight ahead to level 20 at least.

Mummies and Soldiers - January 11th

SirGalahad managed to keep pet-levelling through the night, but did hit a problem towards the end - I came back to the computer to discover that he wasn't just battling the usual death mask lancer, but a death mask soldier as well, and, as the soldiers are pet-eaters, it had attacked Gal's horse, which had been killed. Luckily Gal himself is now quite able to withstand a double attack like that even without the Armour Increase buff from his pet, but it did mean that I had to go back to Randol, or restart the game and spawn there, to get the horse "unsealed".  At level 24, that cost 92,736 gold, which Gal could easily afford. I don't think anyone had maliciously lured my death mask lancer within range of a soldier, probably it had just wandered a little bit in that direction, and the soldier happened to move a little out of its normal position too

After that, SirGalahad went back to Maargadum Jail to continue his work.  An "unsealed" pet only has 30% health, but it wasn't too long before the horse reached level 25, which restored its health to 100%.  The levels are starting to get a bit longer - level 25 is 5173 pet points long, which takes Gal about five hours.

After coffee, SirGalahad provided the solo party boost for RedRyder, who went off to Tairen-1's Prokion Temple for some more orc soldier fighting.  The first thing I saw as I approached the usual orc soldier room was mageBr slumped dead, which wasn't a very cheerful start - a dead mage always looks very pathetic.  The place was quiet to begin with, but eventually other people turned up.  The level 26 healer Skilled suggested a party, but I had to break it off almost immediately, it increased the experience per kill dramatically and, as I explained, I needed to get skill points with as little experience as possible.

A couple of rogues soon turned up, LiLy and Kasighari, which made the place a bit crowded, but by the end of the session Red had added 7.49%, while earning 232 skill points.  At 18% the sp total was 464, which if I'd died six times to return to zero experience would have fallen to 411, while at 21% the total was 558, which would have fallen after seven deaths to 494 skill points.

For the afternoon, I decided to work on xRAGEx - and, courtesy of a few berserk wolves, a lot of jaguars, and a trip to Velpist Temple to fight the wandering, ancient and berserk zombies, plus later on a few level 16 corpse rangers and even slightly more level 21 skeleton soldiers than I'd have wished, I got Rage from level 7 to level 17 by the time the food break came along, having remembered to enrol her as an apprentice of SirGalahad for the Guardian system when she was level 10.  It was the usual strategy of going to the right in the Temple first, then after a couple of levels going straight ahead to the upstairs room where enough ancient and berserk zombies spawn to keep me busy, if I can avoid the few skeleton soldiers in the room.  Then it was off to the left, and again upstairs, for the room outside the "torn book of life" final room, for berserk zombies and corpse rangers.

It was about 3:00pm, UK time, when Rage became SirGalahad's apprentice in the Guardian system - and at 6:45 she graduated, having reached level twenty... and there was a relatively leisurely food break in there, of course.  At level 17 Rage had made the run out to Prokion Temple, and after a few ghouls close to the central lobby, she made her way to the room with the mummies and one orc soldier, and stayed there until level twenty.  Once 339.13% and 157 skill points had been gained, it was time for a trip back to Randol, to get the various quests sorted out - particularly the one that hands over the special rogue "neckless" accessory.  Before I'd gone to Prokion Temple I'd bought a level 21 +3 crossbow from Roy's merchant mart for 50,000 gold, and now I was able to find a level 25 one, also +3, for the same amount, which was good value I thought.

I went back to the mummy room after that, having spent all but one of my skill points, and settled in for a nice steady session.  As I levelled up the amount of experience per mummy went down, but the amount of skill exp didn't fall as fast, so I started to pile on the skill points.  For much of the time I shared the room with a young mage called devinecurse; she went off to eat, leaving her character in a corner, but by no means wall-hugging, and I had to keep a lookout, as mummies did sometimes attack her.  Eventually we teamed up, though when she reached level 22 she went back to town for new armour - and I reminded her about the Elizabeth buff.

Her trip took a while, and as I was halfway through level 24, with my log out time approaching, I decided to move along to the middle section of that particular part of the Temple, and tackle more than one orc soldier at a time.  Since they are protective, so that attacking one of them can bring in three or four, I got through a number of small health potions.  Devinecurse returned while I was there, and we fought them together, though as she likes to live dangerously, health percentage-wise, I had to be ready to attack orcs attacking her, and she had to be ready to run for it.  It was a few minutes past my usual log-out time, but I managed to reach level 25.  She had a disconnection just after that, so the team-up, and the session, reached a natural conclusion.  Rage had gone up another 464.05%, and earned another 589 skill points, which is a good number to have, with skills still to be maximised and the new level 25 skills to get started on.

I did get one invitation to join a level six guild, but somehow having the name "HellsChickens" floating over my head didn't appeal.  I guess Rage will join Discipline, if she needs her experience gain semi-frozen, which might happen at level 29.  A few extra skill points can't hurt, and the guild does need some more guild points, after all.

The only event that [GM]Valsharyn was doing on Auzura today was a "hide and seek", rather than a Mad Monster Spawn or a Storm the Castle - people were having to search for Val, and, as it was a PvP sub-server, battle other seekers to stay alive for four minutes before earning any reward.  Not really my kind of thing, I'm afraid.  At least I've got the Tairen version of Rage well on her way to being an event-attender; she will soon need to temporarily borrow the +10 armour and crossbow from RedRyder, my sp-hunter with ambitions to reach a high level with a proper amount of skills, until she reaches level 31 and gets her own set.

SirGalahad kept busy throughout the evening, and with any luck his horse should be halfway through level 27 by the time I need to switch the older computer off.  I had been considering selling that horse, but I suppose Rage will want it, now...  Anyway, from nowhere to level 25 in two days is a good start for her.

A Polar Bear is Sighted - January 12th

There was a slight delay before SirGalahad could swing into Maargadum action this morning, as I needed to move items around between characters on Tairen-1; most importantly, RedRyder traded the +10 30/32 armour set across to her fellow rogue xRAGEx, along with the level 33 +10 crossbow, and indeed the level 29 +4 one, while Rage passed the older armour sets on to a storage rogue character, and recent loot drops got moved to MistressDomino.  It all took half an hour or so, but finally Gal was able to be reunited with his favourite death mask lancer, and I was able to get some breakfast.

The morning session didn't start very promptly after coffee, as I needed to make a trip to the post office, but eventually Rage was able to spend every last one of her stash of skill points, and, since RedRyder had passed over some of her supply of quest items, some quests were completed immediately - these included two that called for a visit to Shuraine, so it's handy that I tend to add that location to a character's memory scroll when I pass Shuraine's oasis on the way to Prokion Temple for the first time.

Rage started in the room alongside the "back room" which houses orc soldiers and mummies, but once she reached level 26 and was able to wear the +10 shirt and leggings, the corridor outside that room was more useful, with its mixture of orc soldiers and orc fighters.  With just the old armour set, except for the +10 gloves, Rage's physical defence was 436, but moving up to the new shirt and leggings moved the figure on to 603, so even the fighters couldn't do any appreciable damage.

There was just time before lunch to reach level 27, and put on the hood and boots too, which moved the defence stat on to 734.  196.58% experience had been added, probably almost a third of it from quest rewards, and a new stash of 253 more skill points.  As RedRyder had traded a drake egg across along with the armour, Rage had been able to start a new hatchling at last, and it had got a third of the way into its second level as well, with its Sympathy reaching 62%.

Towards the end of the lunch break, when I was back at the computer but not yet playing actively, SirGalahad had been invited into a party for a while down in Maargadum Jail by a knight called knightofhonor, which seemed strange until he explained that it was a combat party, so would give him a useful boost; Gal gained 2 skill points from that.  Knightofhonor tried a little pet-levelling after he'd finished fighting the soldiers, but unfortunately tried the lancer I was fighting, so it died before long, so he didn't get much out of it.  As for me, well, I just had to wait for the lancer to respawn, and was able to continue.

For the main afternoon session, Rage headed back to Prokion Temple.  The back room was now available to Rage, with her full +10 armour set, so that's where I went.  Before long a mage called Arkantos came in, and lured an orc sergeant to back near the door, where she took ages to get its health down - I had to kill off any other orcs that spawned too near to her.  It was all very puzzling, and she left before the sergeant was killed.  Later a level 33 or 34 archer called Ariahna charged in, took the central position, and proceeded to dominate the place, which slowed me down rather - quite often we ended up firing our bows at the same orc.  I think she must have had a +15 bow, as the place certainly wasn't really big enough for both of us...but we persevered.  The situation wasn't helped though when Arkantos returned, this time able to use the Terra Spear skill!  Luckily I was approaching level 29 by then, so was able to get to that level, equip the +10 level 33 crossbow, and head out.

The announcement had come up that one of [GM]Valsharyn's "Cluedo" events was coming up on Auzura-4, so my food break got postponed, and Kaerella, who's a level 67 archer in those parts, logged in.  No prizes for me this time, but boy was it slow - why Val had a seven-minute gap between each of the three questions I don't know, and the first "clue" each time was so vague that it didn't really help.  Somebody who had had a few number one hits in their time?  A fairly new star? Someone over 40?  Narrowing those down by sex didn't help much either, but finally enough was revealed for people to guess Elton John (after a hint about his penchant for "crazy costumes"), Megan Fox (as the star of a movie that had had a recent sequel), and Jack Nicholson (as someone who had been brought up believing his grandparents were his parents).  So, it was all very slow, and rather delayed the food break.

I was back just in time for the Mad Monster Spawn at six, UK time, again hosted by Our Val.  I didn't realise that he was running a low-level one as well as the usual one; when I found out, and after a wave of goodies had been spawned and grabbed, I teleported across, but it had finished by then, so I moved straight back.  I think RedRider only died once, and as usual was able to use Snare usefully.  From the loot grabbed, her inventory weight went up about 25%, but that was probably mainly tool aids.

I did try to ask [GM]Valsharyn about the lack of Asia/Pacific and European time "Happy Hours" on Fridays and Sundays lately, but, to both Kae whispering it to her at the "Cluedo" event and Red asking in the general channel after the MMS, I got no response at all.  Maybe it is a taboo subject, I don't know...

After that, well, it was time for another session with Rage in Prokion Temple on Tairen-1.  Luckily, the back room was free, though for perhaps the last hour I shared it with an archer called BlackFireHealer, a member of the elite DestructioN guild, who had a polar bear pet, which as far as I could see just followed her around and didn't take any damage, with the lighting in that room making it look more of a brown bear cub than a "poley".  She did actually ask if there was room for her too before starting to battle the orcs, which makes a very pleasant change, and there was, just about - though as she was using a full-strength platinum super skill pill and a health stealer, I did occasionally let her take priority when only a single orc had respawned.

She did attempt to sell me two platinum pet pills for three million gold, which is probably a good price, but I don't really need them.  I mentioned that I had a pet leveller hard at work on level five of Maargadum even then, with a horse at level 29 - and she told me that she had levelled and sold three pets already, just using her healer, bare-handed, in Merac, presumably on berserkers.  I guess that may be how she affords the pssp and health stealer.

I kept going a little beyond my usual finishing time - but then, I "usually" do, it seems.  But when Rage reached level 31, that was the time to leave the room to BlackFireHealer, and head back to town.  The +10 armour set and pair of rogue weapons arrived safely in my inventory, and Rage had added 200.34% plus 575 skill points, as well as getting her hatchling up another two levels to six.  I'd apologised for its behaviour, as it flitted all around the room picking up anything it could, but BlackFireHealer said that was fine, she didn't pick stuff up... a policy she might have changed if the heaven stone that dropped at that point had been from one of her orcs, rather than one of mine.

Back in Randol Rage spent all but 19 of her skill points, and became a ranger, a crossbow-wielder, as my rogues always do.  The assassin class, using a pair of daggers for melee combat, is more of a PvP kind of character, and a ranged attack is a lot simpler in PvE.  Over in Maargadum Jail, knightofhonor returned around then, for a new combat party.  By the end of the evening, SirGalahad's horse will still be an hour or so short of level 30, but with the usual server downtime scheduled for about one o'clock, UK time, the option of leaving him on overnight isn't available.

Red and Rage Team Up - January 13th

There was some exchanging of items to be done again this morning, which meant that RedRyder got her armour and crossbow back from Rage, who now has earned her own set; the second +10 level 33 weapon that Rage got was then converted into a single Eagle Sword for SirGalahad, and passed across to him, before he set off for Maargadum Jail.

Having a sword he can use along with his shield made things easier for Gal; he was able to kill the one death mask soldier that attacked him easily, before starting to spar with his usual death mask lancer.  Before coffee knightofhonor turned up again, and another combat party was formed while he killed the local soldiers and the other lancers.

At level 31, Rage was now ready to team up with RedRyder for some action in Prokion Temple, but, ideally, Red needed to gain a little more skill exp first.  So, Red had a slightly interrupted morning session, and managed to add 190 skill points while going up by another 6.01%.  The afternoon session started a bit late, but was more of the same, with the only visitor of note a titan called "jpk1974" who I don't think was really high enough level to take on the orc soldiers.  He started with a little ks-ing, and then grew bold enough to take on not just the orc soldiers, but the nearby orc fighters as well - alas, it wasn't long before he slumped to the ground, dead.

I ended the session with another 4.49% added, which took RedRyder's total experience in level 29 up to 32.99%, and 141 more skill points.  That really did seem high enough, as the law of diminishing returns does set in, so that the more deaths that are necessary to get back to 0%, the more skill points were going to be lost.

So, the next step was to teleport to Misty Canyon.  The Introducer Camio as usual easily killed Red every time it was approached - and then when Red was down to 2.99%, rather than risk a "double death" glitch, I went outside, and sneaked past the elite cerberi and elite frenzied berserkers, and let an ordinary highlander add the last death.  If I'd respawned next to him rather than back in town, I would have had plenty of time to get to safety.

Each of the eleven deaths needed took 3% of Red's skill point total, rather than the 2% I had been expecting.  I checked up in the shoutbox, and scapegoat630 and Giovanna_X directed me to a page that shows that the 2% rate only applies from level 36 up, from 21-35 it's 3% - and from 11-20 it's 5%, so things could have been worse.   Below that level, there is no loss.  From the 936 I started out with, 670 remained at the end, so a "free" 670 skill points can't be bad.

The evening session was always going to have an early finish, as often happens on a Wednesday, but there was time for Rage and RedRyder to have their first team-up - in Prokion Temple of course, but on Tairen-4 for a change, which seemed very quiet.  The idea was for Rage to do all the work, and get almost all the experience, with, in a Combat party, the skill exp shared equally, so, to see how things would go, the back room was again put to use.

I wouldn't say that things were ideal - for the first hour they both used a "beginner" pssp, and just got 169 skill points each, which didn't seem very much to me, though while Rage went up 18.54%, RedRyder just went up 4.67%.  For the second hour, Rage didn't use a pssp, so went up by 67 skill points, and 18.18%, while Red went up another 4.57%, and 166 skill points.  It does at least get RedRyder's total of unused skill points up over the thousand mark, with the prospect of plenty more sessions before she reaches level 30, but our cunning ways to try to amass skill points without spending vast amounts of money need a bit more work.  Red can still fight the orc soldiers solo - or perhaps Rage could kill the level 25 orc fighters quickly enough to generate more skill points per hour?  Perhaps I need to sell more loot, particularly the stock of heaven stones, and spend the gold on getting a weapon a bit higher than Rage's current +10 one, to help her kill orcs more quickly.

The week's new patch last night seems to have been rather minor, with some wrong stated durations for buffs being corrected, "radar bug fixes" (which ought in theory to stop the compass-map sometimes showing a party member nearby when nobody is there), and "targeting bug fixes", to stop players hiding behind their pet in PvP.  Now we have the option not to treat sorcerer's elementals and everyone's pets as targets, which is useful in a player versus player situation - and also elsewhere, as it makes it easier to click on someone, rather than their pet, to buff them, or try to add them to a party, and so on.  As for events today, all that was on the website was a European hide and seek event, and the similar but deadlier "Betrayal", involving trying to get a GM safely back to town without other people killing you.  There was some voting on the forum for either a hide and seek or a "random prizes in Randol" thing at some point, but both of those tend to take up more time than they are worth.  Still, tomorrow there may be a few Mad Monster Spawns at some point, if more people vote for that than for a "Pharaoh's Treasure"...as I write, the MMS is ahead by 53 to 26 votes.

After RedRyder and Rage logged out, SirGalahad, no doubt feeling refreshed after his rest, was able to return to level five of Maargadum Jail - and with any luck the horse should reach about a third of the way through level 31 by closing time.

A Rash Impulse - January 14th

I did try to leave SirGalahad pet-levelling overnight, and MistressDomino in merchant mode too, but at some point both computers got a Microsoft update to install, and thus needed to restart, so things came to a halt.  Still, Gal had managed a good few hours by then, and MD had sold quite a few heaven stones and other things, so that before breakfast I was able to transfer 31 million in gold across to Rage, before SirGalahad once again headed for Maargadum Jail, and his friend the death mask lancer.

This was always going to be a busy day for me, but the busy part didn't begin until a little after mid-morning, so Rage was able to log back in shortly before coffee, and check out Roy's merchant mart for an affordable but better level 33 weapon.  The best I could find was a +14 mage staff being offered by Querion, who seems to be quite a busy buyer and seller, at 19 million, so I took a deep breath and bought that, then spent another 95,000 for Collector Ryl to convert it into a rogue's crossbow.  The only other expense was a further 5,000 to buy five bloodseal gems for it.

So, with Rage's physical offence stat increased from 386 to 453, there was time to finish off a few quests, since Rage doesn't intend to stick on level 31 - if she does do any Misty Canyon runs, it will be at level 32, so that the new skills she can learn at that level get finished first.  There were a couple of old minor quests to finish by running around Juno, and then some quest rewards in Dratan City - followed by slaying death goddesses in the middle of the desert.  There was another quest that needed silvery fur dropped by silver foxes of the desert, who were conveniently next to the death goddesses, but though I killed quite a few of them, I didn't get a single scrap of fur dropped.  Over near Prokion Temple there were some desert spiders to kill - and then it was time to head back to town to claim my rewards.

In all, Rage went up 35.25%, mainly from quest rewards, and gained 110 skill points.  She had spent quite a few skill points earlier in Randol, but it seems a good idea to hang on to this new bunch until level 32 is reached, so that the aforementioned level 32 skills can be started on as soon as possible.

That was all I had time for then. SirGalahad kept busy, with level 32 reached in the morning by his horse; knightofhonor was down there for a while, with the usual Combat party to boost his experience gain a little.  I managed to log MistressDomino back in, and she did some more selling.  The price she sold heaven stones at gradually moved up, with 750k followed by 795k, 825k, and a last batch at 845k, and she ended her stint rather richer than she started out.

A message came up that a Parade was about to be held on Auzura-4 at four o'clock, UK time, so as I'd finished most of my work, MistressDomino logged out of Tairen-1, and Kaerella, my level 67 archer, logged in on Auzura-4.  There was the usual dropping of firecrackers and various transformation scrolls by [GM]Noboru, and I transformed into a jaguar, and then, for the first time, into a drake.  It's strange, when they aren't moving forward, players transformed into drakes seem to "freeze" in place, with their wings unmoving; but if you're doing it yourself, on your own screen the wings continue to flap.

I didn't quite stay to the end, as a level 5 titan called Ncwerk had decided to form a party with me, and he wanted a little assistance, being new to the game.  So, I had to take him out to the energy stones and help him to do the energy collection level 5 quest there, and try to explain various things about the game.  I don't play all that much on Auzura so didn't really feel qualified to become his Guardian, but I gave him a drake egg, and helped him get to Jajan; we went outside the town so that he could see his new hatchling.  I gave him a few quality stones, and some small health potions, but I'll leave it to his Guardian, if he enrols, to part with any actual gold.

So, the food break's start was slightly delayed.  SirGalahad kept going, though, and his horse reached level 33 at around six.

It seemed time that my cleric Kaerella over on Cariae-1 had another outing, so she had the evening session - and it was a pretty varied one, though let down by a sudden impulse to try something that turned out to be way too hard, which cost a resurrection scroll.  Kae had a number of new quests to do, ones only recently added to the game mainly, so instead of heading out to the akane giants straight away, I had a checklist of monsters to visit - giant larvae (level 50) and Cerebrii (51) down in south-east Merac, and the rough jaguar of desert (51) and ravenous larvae (54) in Dratan's desert.  It was quite a long journey south from Dratan City to reach the larvae and jaguars, south of the Forgotten Temple - and just when I was nearly there I had a disconnection, which was annoying.

Still, after getting SirGalahad back to work, I got Kaerella back down there.  Luckily the rough jaguars weren't protective, in the way the level 8 ones in Juno are, so it was easy enough to get the quest items from them - and the ravenous larvae were right next door. so the actual fighting didn't take long.  I memorised the spot, as the ravenous larvae might well replace the akane giants as Kae's adversary of choice in a level or two.

Even though they weren't as high level, the giant larvae in Merac seemed more aggressive - and the cerebrii, which are protective and have a magic attack, did Kae some real damage a time or two.  I was also a little distracted as Ratel was chatting to me by then, it's a long time since we talked, it seemed to me, so it's good to know that he is still able to play, and having fun. Coincidentally he too had been surprised by a different level of experience/skill exp loss from what he had been expecting, so with my new-found knowledge I was able to assure him that the penalties had always been higher at lower levels.  After a few minutes of action, those monsters got crossed off my list too - and then back in Merac village I had another quest I'd not previously noticed, to venture down into Maargadum Jail.

So, for a few minutes I had characters active on the fifth level of Maargadum Jail on both Tairen-1 (with SirGalahad pet-levelling there) and Cariae-1, with Kae killing a few death mask soldiers to get her quest items.  The only problem was that on the way down I'd picked up another quest from the guard on level two - and that required me to kill the Jail's boss, the Death Knight of Iris.

Common sense told me that was a bad idea, with his strong area-of-effect magic attack, but foolishly, encouraged by the ease with which the death mask soldiers had died, and with horse buffs still active, and Kae's own anti-magic buff applied, I went on into the Jail's final room - and it didn't take the Death Knight very long at all to kill me.  I don't think I'll be trying to finish that quest again, it would be safer to let the quest expire than to have poor Kae expire again.  A level 12 magic defence mineral might be an option, but those are probably more valuable than the quest reward, and success still wouldn't be guaranteed.

Well, the last of the quest rewards were claimed, so that, including the various bits of fighting, Kaerella had gone up by 13.58% and 68 skill points, along with just 61 pet points - and then it was time for a more predictable bit of farming, with a trip out to the akane giants.

There hadn't been a party available earlier, but bluray had got one going now, so I was able to join that - and who should join it later than an old Norcaine member, Stanislav, on a level 90 character called ArCh3r.  He told me that he has a level 53 titan as well, and I was able to assure him that I was still in Norcaine, and that Elvastar/Ratel was still playing too.  I seemed to do a lot of chatting with a level 27 player, Chola, who had only recently returned to the game - so that the information about the free level 33 weapons and 30/32 armour set was, well, news to him.

I left the party for a few minutes when a low-level Mad Monster Spawn on Cariae-4 was announced; I was a bit late changing over, actually, and by the time my level 27 rogue Karella had rode out there, the event was almost finished.  Still, Karella was in time to pick up some of the generous spawning of loot that the GM, presumably JediMike, provided.  It was only a single wave of monsters, I think, and there was no word of any higher-level MMS event to follow, so Kae returned to her party on Cariae-1.  While she didn't get any further announcements, SirGalahad got a notice about a low-level MMS on Tairen-4 - but unfortunately I didn't spot it on his screen in time.

Kaerella's session ended a little abruptly and early, as Kamira finally decided to put in an appearance at just gone ten past nine, UK time.  By then Kae had added a further 10.04%, so is almost a third of the way through level 52 now, along with another 76 skill points, and 872 pet points.  On the loot side, she picked up a heaven stone dropped by one akane giant - and the next one she killed dropped another.  There was a third, as part of a Hand of the Warrior, not long after, too.  Which makes up for having to use that resurrection scroll, I guess.

Keerella, my mage, teleported out to deal with Kamira, and did so easily, getting all the usual goodies but no rare accessory.  Her inventory is so full she had to drop a medal of honour to make room for the (rather ordinary) necklace that was dropped, but I don't want her to spend much time in town transferring items to a different character, as she has the "Christmas Cheer" buff still running, and it would be useful if that lasted for a few more meetings with Kammy.  And that seemed a suitable point at which to end the day's excitements, just leaving SirGalahad to go on until close-down; by then the horse ought, I think, to be halfway through level 33.

SirFrancis Levels Up - January 15th

The older computer had some new update to install when I switched it off last night, so it's just as well I wasn't attempting to leave SirGalahad at work, as a restart would probably have sneaked up on him later.  Still, he started up again before breakfast, and kept going until after coffee, moving the horse on a bit more on its journey through level 33.

Aeria have revamped the Last Chaos "Loot Wheel", removing some of the booby-prize type possible wins, so that spinning the wheel for about a dollar, or 99 aeria points, is now a more tempting thing to do.  And to celebrate, they announced that each account today would be allowed a free spin.  Well, you need to spend your 99 aeria points, but in a few days you'll get a rebate of 100 of them, which seems a good deal to me.  It is generous of them to make it "one per account", rather than cautioning players with multiple accounts only to play once... and I wasted little time in taking advantage of their generosity.  Sadly, I didn't hit the grand prize, which was a polar bear pet, but there were some nice other possibilities now, and I now have a bit more item mall stuff over on Tairen than I did before.

After coffee, Rage headed for Tairen-1's Prokion Temple, though I got delayed a bit with helping a new Singapore-based healer, Janie, to get to Jajan in Dratan to claim her dragon hatchling, and trying to give a few tips about the game.  RedRyder joined Rage once she was in the Temple, for a bit of Combat-type party teaming.  A level 21 titan called NightWarrior managed to get a few free small health potions from me, though when he asked for money I suggested that the orcs were a better source - or that he should do the quests available in Randol, and get Lorraine to open his "event" treasure chests, which ought to cheer up his financial situation.

Rage fought orc soldiers and orc fighters, which despite the Elizabeth's Enhancement buff didn't give a huge amount of experience, but kept to a reasonable ratio of skill exp to experience.  As the non-fighting party member Red's experience gain was nicely lower, of course.  By the end of the not very lengthy session Rage had gone up 12.73%, 94 skill points and 72 guild points, while RedRyder was up by just 3.17%, 90 skill points, and 12 guild points.  Discipline's guild point total had topped 6,000 yesterday, so SirGalahad was now able to get the "Guild Notice" skill.  The next thing to get will be the first level of "Expension of the number of guild member", for which a further 2,000 guild points will be needed, as well as some gold.

Just before lunch I remembered to transfer some more quality stones across from Rage to SirGalahad, to keep his horse fed, and then Gal went back to Maargadum Jail.  He stayed there slightly longer than the usual lunch break, which allowed the horse to reach level 34 before Gal logged out again, and RedRyder logged back in, to join Rage back in Prokion Temple once more.

NightWarrior was around again, and on the cadge; I let him have a +1 level 27 titan helmet Rage was carrying, probably dropped by the elite sand golem, and I bought a couple of moonstone boxes he had picked up for 45,000 each, which is what I had sold some for recently.  I didn't give him any gold, though, he ought to be able to earn it for himself by the time he's added a few levels in the Temple.

I managed to get Rage to level 32 before the end of the session; she went up by 17.94% in all, and after she levelled up the skill exp to experience ratio for the orc axemen seemed almost as good as for orc fighters, so perhaps I need to find a new spot that mixes those two types.  She added 135 skill points; back in Randol almost all her stash of sp got spent on learning all five levels of the passive skill Sharpen, which increases her chance of making a critical hit, which hurts a monster twice as much as an ordinary blow.  Rage added 105 more guild points too.  RedRyder, meanwhile, had added 5.38%, 134 skill points, and 20 guild points.

SirGalahad headed back to Maargadum Jail's fifth level for the food break and beyond.  The room actually got pretty busy for a while, with the titan moonwalker89 joined by a rogue called buttugly, who was even able to take down the beast crawlers without any great effort.  Gal stayed there for the evening session, while Kaerella logged in over on Cariae-1, with the elite akane giant in mind.

And that's how the evening passed.  I found someone listed as wanting a party, and we started our own, which bluray joined later - he left just before I did, in the end.  The session was so long I had to return to Randol to get the Elizabeth's Enhancement buff re-applied; Kamira snubbed me, I'm afraid, and didn't appear, but Kae added 26.45%, and gained exactly 200 skill points.  And Kaerella's drake, SirFrancis, at last reached level 48, having added 2403 pet points, so that was a bit of a milestone.  A lot of akane giants perished over the course of the evening, and the elite akane giant died a lot, though he only dropped one good item, a +4 crossbow.  There were a couple of heaven stones, and plenty of moonstone boxes, but as usual there the most common drops were haste potions and small healing pots, Kae will have to get rid of those as a big stack of such things, even if they only weigh 3 each, can get a bit heavy.

SirGalahad kept busy on Tairen-1 meanwhile, getting the horse past the halfway point in level 34.  There are still a few more days to go, but it won't be too long before both my Tairen rogues have level 37 mounts, it seems.

An Encounter With an Old Friend - January 16th

I did attempt to give SirGalahad an overnight session again, but he lost two or three hours to a ks-er who came along and killed his death mask lancer.  Still, the horse had reached level 35 by breakfast time, so the attempt had been worth it.  Gal of course continued until after coffee, but then it was time for Rage and RedRyder to head out to Prokion Temple together.

NightWarrior had acquired some more items he wanted to sell me, so that slightly delayed my start.  he'd got four heaven stones, and then he wanted to sell me a couple of skill point boosters and an effort scroll (50% extra skill exp for 10 minutes) for 700,000 gold, which seemed a bit high, but he reckoned that I could sell the spbs at 300,000 each, and the scroll for half that.  And indeed MistressDomino did manage to sell the skill point boosters at that price over the lunch break, though I'd tried to raise the price of heaven stones a bit further, to 875,000 gold, and nobody seemed tempted.

The Prokion session brought Rage another 32.76%, and RedRyder  9.76% - they each got 189 skill points.  For Red that seems a bit marginal, rather a high experience gain for the skill points added.  The place I found, just short of the "corridor room", had a mixture of the level 27 orc fighters and the level 27 orc axemen, perhaps I need to find somewhere with more of the fighters, and maybe a level 23 orc soldier or two, and less axemen...

The afternoon session, for a change, involved a different Rage - not xRAGEx on Tairen-1, but my level 72 rogue RAGE on Auzura-4.  She teamed up with my level 62 titan MrChuckNorris, and went out to the Sphinx Fighters and Sphinx Speer Men, and of course the Elite Sphinx Speer Man.  As those particular Egyptian-type fighters are level 63 and 64, in a solo party Rage gets very little from them - but bring Chuck onto the scene, and the elite one gives over half a million experience on average, with the non-elites about a third of that.  And Rage's skill exp increases too!

The session did come to a slightly early end due to a disconnection, but by then Chuck had gone up 1.81% just from being in the Combat party, while Rage was ahead by 9.83%.  They gained 15 skill points each, too.  I discovered new quests for both of them, as well, which will take Rage out to the Forgotten Temple, somewhere she has been known to go to farm - while Chuck will need to fight some sphinx types himself, which at his level shouldn't be difficult as long as he avoids getting mobbed.

MistressDomino set up in merchant mode; answering some of the usual questions about how to get and feed pets, and find Jajan, got her a first recruit for her Friends list, a rogue called Masian.  This time the 150,000 gold effort scroll did sell, as did five heaven stones at 875,000, plus some large attack potions and physical attack potions, so in all about twelve million got gained.  And SirGalahad was back at work in Maargadum Jail, of course, with his horse approaching the halfway mark in level 35.

In the evening I decided that it was time to level up Tairen's Kaerella a bit.  She was on level 10, ready to enter the Guardian system, so SirGalahad briefly registered for the scheme, and Kae chose him as her Guardian - after all he does have a 100% record of success with his apprentices, Rage and Red!   I'd only recently realised that the new starting scroll a character gets, "Juno NPC Scroll", described as "a scroll that holds the location of NPCs and Monsters in Juno", actually works as an infinitely reusable teleportation scroll - click on any listed NPC, and follow the right buttons, and you move straight to their location.  Click on the NPC Teleporter Rian, and you're immediately outside the entrance to Velpist Temple.  Click on Elizabeth, and you're standing right next to her to get her buff.  Click on Hunter Dranore, south of town, and you're there right away.  A great time-saver!  It made the quest to kill jaguars for Geres go very quickly, Kae just had to kill them, and once she had the full amount of teeth, she could teleport right to Geres, get the quest reward, and hurry on out to do it all again.

Kaerella got a drake egg as a drop at last, and so was able to go to Lorraine and Jajan for her own hatchling; once the jaguars were finished with, it was time for the usual succession of rooms in the Temple, from wandering zombies on to the ancient and berserk type, and then on to the more dangerous room with a few berserk zombies, but also the more protective corpse rangers and skeleton soldiers.

Kae had reach level 16 a little before nine when an announcement came up for another low-level Mad Monster Spawn, due to start on Tairen-4 in ten minutes.  I did think of taking Kae herself to it, since she wasn't, in Velpist Temple, very far from the location - but it was a different sub-server, so I had to log out anyway, so I decided to take RedRyder instead, feeling that at level 29 she was high enough to be at no great risk, from the way previous low-level MMS events had gone...and she is the one with the mount, to supply horse buffs.  Just in case, I did activate the first of Red's beginner-type resurrection scrolls, though.

Red had the "Junior MMS" location on her conventional memory scroll, so teleported there - and who should she discover among the half dozen or so people waiting but our old friend the knight Ratel, in his Tairen incarnation.  We formed a party, though the only other person who wanted to join was a titan called ForSakenSoal, who we soon discovered was level one.  Full marks for bravery, I think!  That's titans for you, they just don't know the meaning of the word "fear"...and are a bit hazy about how to spell it, too.

When the monsters spawned, Ratel bravely dashed to the fore - even in the early twenties a knight's armour is pretty good, after all...only to discover that that bloated fat boss spider Baal was among the monsters spawned in that direction, with its potent magic attack.  So, Ratel died; I expect he used one of the beginner resurrection scrolls, because he was soon back in action. Our titan didn't last long either, but was soon back with us.  Not in time for much fighting, so in all he only went up about three levels, mainly from local great horn beasts Ratel and I killed before and after the monster spawning.

There were butchers and pilferers and gnolls and elite goblin scouts, plus salamanders and much more; I remembered that RedRyder is meant to be skill point farming so didn't attack all that many red-name types, so only added 0.86%, thankfully, along with 2 skill points.  It was lucky I was in a party to dilute any experience gain.  When the monsters were all defeated, the loot rewards were generous, with a second lot of hands spawned as we were gathering up the first lot.  Unfortunately the spawning always produces a "lag spike", and Ratel was lagged out for a minute, so didn't pick up as much loot as the rest of us, but hopefully he managed to get some stuff.  He's now on Red's Friends list, as indeed is that titan.

Kaerella logged back in; I had been thinking of taking her out to fight a few ghouls in Prokion Temple, but then noticed that it was only about 15 or 20 minutes until my log-out time, so just headed back to Velpist Temple - and was able to get Kae up to level 17, so that in all this evening she had gone up by 674.75%, got her hatchling up to level 2, and earned around 300 skill points I think, though there are still a number of skills that aren't yet at their highest possible levels.

SirGalahad kept busy while all this was going on, of course.  Despite a couple of occasions when some passer-by killed his death mask lancer, his horse should only be an hour or so away from starting its 36th and last level, by the time Gal's computer gets switched off tonight.  He has earned an overnight rest, I think - though MistressDomino may do some selling of Red's newly-acquired loot...