Sneakin’ Around: Fortune and glory, kid.

Am I being watched?

I'm not stealing. I'm discovering.

For some reason, and I don’t know why, I keep thinking that you need level 30 in order to take up archaeology in Azeroth.  But it’s level 20.  So, basically, I needlessly scraped my way through 10 levels on daily quests, random non-violent tasks, and mining/herbalism when I could have been scouring the world for artifacts.

I feel like Indiana Jones.  Not because of archaeology itself, which is quite possibly the worst designed trade skill/crafting ever put into an MMO.  On my other characters, the ones who fight, archaeology is boring and stupid.  You wander around in a zigzag path hitting the survey key until you get an artifact, which you then pick up.  Repeat.  On the rogue, however, it reminds me fondly of my days in EverQuest as a monk, feigning my way around zones, checking out cool stuff.  Kaens has to carefully make his way though the dig sites and wait for just the right moment to perform a survey.  Luckily, with sneak and vanish, I can avoid most of the dangerous creatures roaming the land.

While previously playing the rogue felt like a fun job, with archaeology in the mix is finally feels like an adventure.  Now I just need a hat and a whip.

The single best part about archaeology is that I don’t have to interact with any NPCs at all except for when I need training.  Otherwise, I just go to the places on my map and I am able to craft my own stories and my own adventures.  This might be the most fun I’ve had playing an MMO in a long time.

Level 32 and surveying…

Sneakin’ Around: Finding Dungeons

In a companion piece to yesterday’s rant on using the dungeon finder tool, playing a character who doesn’t kill means that the tool is useless to me.  So at least on this character I’ll never have to deal with that frustration.  The dungeons, however, aren’t useless.  For example, Wailing Caverns has a quest for picking up serpentblooms, which are ground spawns, so that means I can do it.  The trouble is that I have to actually go and find the dungeon.  I suppose trouble isn’t the right word, since I actually enjoy the exploring.

I know where the Deadmines are, but taking a peek at spoiler sites tells me that there aren’t any quests there for me to do as they all involve killing stuff.  Ragefire Chasm also appears to only have kill quests.  Shadowfang Keep as well.  I’m betting that most of the dungeons are going to be this way.  But many of them will also have herbs and ore to gather and mine.

In the meantime, I’m still traveling the world… just yesterday I ran all over Loch Modan looking for lost pages, which I found, and then I was ushered off to the Wetlands.

26 and roaming…

Sneakin’ Around: The Bling is the Thing

So, being a rogue who doesn’t kill things can be very hard.  Not only because people are constantly asking you to kill things, but even when they don’t want you to kill them they sometimes just want you to beat them up, just a little.  And let me tell you, fighting with a fishing pole is not easy.  Well, unless you get a big fishing pole.

It turns out that in Duskwood there might be a crazy worgen who needs my help, and after they promise me I won’t have to kill him, I agree to go beat him up a little and then shove a potion down his throat.  I mean, I don’t want to kill people, but I’m not against applying a little pressure, for the greater good, of course.  I head down to the farm where this guy is hanging out and he jumps me.  I take a few swipes with my rod and reel, the only weapon I have, and he’s just not having it.  I run off to save my own ass from a beat down.

I make my way back to Stormwind to unwind at the Pig and Whistle, and to do a little cooking and fishing to calm my nerves.  I gather my daily fish catch and go to see what they’ll give me for it and I’m shocked when I get handed this ugly, gaudy, horrendous looking fishing pole.  The thing looks like a goblin made it.  Covered in gems and sparkling like the sun, I can barely stand to look at it, but I can’t look away.  But I pick the thing up, trying not to show the disgust on my face, and I nearly drop it due to the weight.  I break out in a smile that practically outshines this gods forsaken rod.

Ugly Fishing Rod

Yes, those are wings. It has two of them.

I head back to Duskwood and down to the farm, the worgen jumps me again and I brain him with my new fishing pole.  His tongue hangs out the side of his mouth and he is probably seeing stars as I shove the potion down his gullet.  I collect my rewards, I do a few more deeds for the local, and as they increasingly keep asking me to kill things I bid farewell to that dark and musty forest.

Armed with my new (ugly) rod and a 300 fishing skill, I decide to go find Booty Bay and see how I can do in the fishing contest there.  After one attempt, I realize it’ll be a while (and a flying mount) before I can seriously compete for the grand prize, but I spend some time fishing and chatting with the people, and hoping to pull up one of those rare fish the robot is looking for.  I don’t, but there is always next week.  And the week after that.  And the week after… well, you get the idea.

Level 25 and angling…

I’m on a Boat

I'm on a boat.

Everybody look at me 'cause I'm sailing on a boat.

I always hated Thousand Needles because the race track was just so stupid.  Some people think Cataclysm has done a lot wrong with World of Warcraft, but look at me… I’m on a boat.

The last time I wrote about my worgen it was over here, January 14th and I’d just made my way out of the starter zone which left me at level 12 or 13, I forget.  Maybe it was 14.  Doesn’t matter.  What matters is that as of last weekend, just five weeks later, I’m level 47.  Sure, you say, “Five weeks?! Why aren’t you at, like, 70?” but keep in mind, this is 47 without really trying.  I’ve spent much more time on my rogue who doesn’t kill, and so really this is level 47 in a total of 72 hours played.  And at least half of that is standing around chatting with people, role playing and browsing the auction house.  I’ve made it to level 47, heard the DING! of a level gained 46 times and I feel absolutely no sense of accomplishment whatsoever.  Every time the rogue makes a level I feel like I’ve conquered something, like I’ve crested another hill.  With the worgen, it’s more like, “Shit… I leveled again?  Didn’t I just level like twenty minutes ago?  Well, fuck, all my quests are green, and where did all the exclamation points go?  Did I outlevel another quest hub before I finished it?”  I feel like I’m missing the game, like I’m being pushed toward some end game, hurried along so that I don’t have a chance to get bored or to notice whether or not I’m actually enjoying playing.

In a few levels I won’t have anything left worthwhile in Thousand Needles.  The kills will be trivial, and the quests will be all gone, and the only real herb here is Stranglekelp, which gains me no skill and people aren’t even paying much for these days, but I suspect that I’ll return here because it’s the only place my River Boat works.  And ultimately this is where my biggest conflict with WoW comes in… there are some really cool and awesome places in this world, and you don’t get to stay there.  Why can’t I spend my days on the river fighting pirates and monsters?  I mean, I suppose I could, but the game doesn’t support it.  There are daily quests for fishing and cooking and other things, but why doesn’t each quest hub have a couple of dailies to making hanging around even mildly interesting and rewarding?

Not to go off on a tangent, but face it – this entire post is a tangent (a nice Friday sojourn off into rant land), but with the advent of the daily quest, why isn’t this mechanic used everywhere?  We all know that killing monsters is a pointless pursuit in WoW, they’ve hamstrung the exp on them so much, and quests are where the action is, and daily quest exp scales with level, so why not have a handful of quests in every hub where you can get one or two a day and continue to level doing whatever the hell you want?

No.  Instead, I have to make yet another zone useless and leave it to probably never return.  The empty husk of a world that necessitated The Cataclysm in the first place.

Oh well, at least for now… I’m on a boat.

Sneakin’ Around: My Country for a Horse

Kaens in leather.

It was the only clean outfit, or something like that.

I need a new look.  I suppose I could always go with the dinner suit or the dress from last week, but I’d rather not.  To the left you’ll see a picture of me in my adventuring attire.  It looks like standard leather stuff, and that’s the problem.  I need to find a way to look less like I’m itching for a fight, while still retaining some stats so that I can survive the occasions when I’m trying to run away from one.

Browsing my way through the auction house, I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that remaining in leather is going to be hard if I want to get a look that I like, and might instead have to go with cloth in a few areas.  Obviously, as I level I will have more options, but for now I can only wear what I can wear, restricted by level, and so I am limited in my choices.  Still, there has to be something better than this.

Another issue I’ve been having is that my desire to leave town was bottoming out.  I mean, in Stormwind I can safely earn a few thousand exp every day and never have to worry.  But I decided to venture out and checked in with the Hero’s Call board to see where I should go for a level appropriate challenge.  I suspect I’ll constantly be back tracking, looking for old low level quests to pad out my growth, but I wanted something exciting and challenging.  The board said to go to Darkshire in Duskwood.  So I flew out to the logging camp and then headed out on foot.

I love exploring, but sometimes, running on foot through places you’ve already explored can be boring, but what option do I have?  Anyway, after a long trek there, I discovered that like much of the world the people of Darkshire just want me to kill stuff.  Everyone, that is, except Abercrombie.  He had a great series where I was sent out to deliver or gather things and everything was going swimmingly until he asked for some ghoul ribs, which you can’t find just laying around.  I was very disappointed to not be able to continue working with him, but on the bright side, I made a couple of levels and got past 20.

The horse.

My feet thank you, Abercrombie.

Level 21 and riding high…

Sneakin’ Around: Love Unfair to Men

Most of the last week or so, I’ve spent it partaking of the Love is in the Air events all around Azeroth.  LiitA (not to be confused with Lita or Lita) is World of Warcraft’s version of Valentine’s Day.  There are a series of daily quests where you can spritz people with perfume/cologne or throw bonbons at them, give a lovely charm bracelet to the leaders of the cities, and there is an investigation line of quests that leads to a daily involving fighting some guys and blowing up a wagon.  If you are over level 75, there are other quests, but I’m not, so I haven’t seen them.

In any event, I’ve been doing the single daily item I can do, the spritzing or beaning people with bonbons, and then keeping my eyes and ears open for people selling the charm bracelets (which I cannot make because you have to kill people to get charms).  I earn the Love Tokens very slowly, but I’ve earned enough to buy a couple of rewards.

I’m very disappointed in the dinner suit that men get.  Women get a dress, which looks more like négligée, that is quite sexy.  Men, on the other hand, get a dinner suit, that actually looks more like pajamas.  Not sexy pajamas, but a lame button down shirt and pants combo that I’m pretty sure people don’t actually wear except on TV shows.  Why can’t men get a suit that looks more like a bare chest and sexy boxer shorts?

Of course, I suppose I can’t complain too much.  I mean, it could be worse…

I know, I know, your eyes, your eyes.  Have a scouring pad for your brain.  It won’t help.  Trust me.

Level 19, and handing out charm bracelets to world leaders…  Ain’t love grand?

Sneakin’ Around: King of the Road

Ahh, life on the road.

I knew this is what life would be like when I started down this path, but the reality of it smacks you in the face sometimes.  I crawled all over Westfall, uncovering the entire map, and managed to only find maybe four or five quests I could complete.  Redridge Mountains proved to be better with nearly a dozen quests.  And then it’s off to Darkshore, where there were a few quests to do and then the majority of the zone is locked behind kill tasks.

The daily quests help, of course, being able to earn 2k exp every day keeps my spirits up.  And then there is the Valentine’s Day event… which unfortunately includes killing, so I can’t participate fully. *sigh*  Time to head back to dwarf-land and goat-town, I suppose.

However, my decision not to kill for cash leaves me plenty of time to study the markets, buying goods from people who just want quick cash and reselling them to people willing to pay more.  I can sell copper bars for 7 gold a stack, but people will put them up for anywhere from 3 to 5 gold.  When you add in the market manipulation with my own mining and herbing, it totals out to over a hundred gold in my pocket – and that’s after I bought myself one of those engineered tackle boxes and a couple other nice bags.

I also managed to fish up one of those books that taught me how to find schools of fish, so that will be a lot easier from here on out.  Level 16 and moving…

Sneakin’ Around: Flowers, Fish, Ore and You

Gone Fishing

I'm no mage, but look at me cast.

One of the main reasons I returned to the idea of leveling without fighting was because Blizzard added experience rewards to mining and herbalism.  That isn’t to say that I gain exp entirely from those activities…

Each race in the game has a progression.  Humans do their starter area, then Goldshire, then the logging camp area, and then they move on either East or West.  Night Elves move through Teldrassil toward Darnassus and then they’ll hop the boat to Darkshore.  And so on.  Being that I’m skipping every quest that requires killing, I have to keep rotating through the progressions and picking up the handful of delivery, exploration and true collection quests (true collection being where you get items off the ground or out of boxes and not from the lifeless corpses of your enemies).  And since I’m traveling a lot, I pick plenty of flowers and mine a bit of ore as I go.

The quests that I do get are quite exciting.  And dare I say, more exciting than when I do them with other characters.  For example, in Dolanaar a night elf asks for me to retrieve an Emerald Dreamcatcher from the Starbreeze village.  The village is swarming with furbolgs, and I have to sneak my way into the building where it is, and then wait for just the right moment to retrieve it.  There’s no time to hide again because I’ve been spotted, so I make a run for it.  With furbolgs right on my heels I dash through the village and onto the path and eventually they give up hope of catching me.  Later, I would pull a similar trick to deliver hearthstones to trapped miners and dig relics from the ice for the dwarves of Dun Morogh.

Of course, I don’t spend all my time picking flowers, mining ore and sneaking into buildings.  Sometimes I go fishing.  In Stormwind there are even people kind enough to have a couple of quests for me that involve catching fish.  And I also spent some time tracking down people for the Lunar Festival.

Level 12 and climbing…

The Pig And Whistle.

Forget it, Jake. It's Old Town.

While bumming around in Stormwind, I decided to ask a guard what inns I could stay out in the city.  They gave me two fine choices, one in the trade district and one in the dwarven district.  Neither of those was what I was looking for.  Both locations are extremely crowded, being near the auction houses and all.  Lots of foot traffic and spell casting at all hours of the night.  I needed something quiet, away from the action, so I headed to Old Town and there I stumbled across a lovely little place called the “Pig and Whistle Tavern” and while not strictly an inn, and clearly not considered one by the guards of Stormwind, they were willing to let me hang my hat there, and with some fine brews on tap and good food from the kitchen, I think it will do quite nicely.  It helps that it’s a stones throw from just about everything I want out of Stormwind.  And even though I’m not overly fond of WoW’s in-your-face puns and pop culture, this one I like.

Sneakin’ Around: The Newbie Experience

From the very first moment, the humans asked me to fight.  But I have put aside my weapons, and I turned my back on the abbey and walked away.  This was a very hard decision, because the entire starting area for humans is locked behind that first quest.  Most of the quests, if I recall correctly, involve fighting anyway.  As I left, I was given the quest that pointed me to Goldshire, but everything there is too high level, so I decided to spend some time in the inn to earn exp bonus, that way what little I do manage to find will be used to the fullest.

The inn in Goldshire is a wretched hive of scum and villainy… or rather a wretched hive of people who will ERP scum and villainy with you for the right price.  I was aware of ERP.  I knew it existed.  But on other servers you mainly find people hiding in the tram tunnels speaking sex to each other.  But Goldshire is filled with naked people, or people as naked as the game allows them to get.  Bare chested men and women in bikinis abound, and calls fill the air looking for people of all sorts.  What the hell is a “college RP group”?  Are they teaching people to RP or are they RPing that they are in college?

The following day I decided that perhaps only humans were so demanding of violence and I headed for dwarf town.  Also, some of the ERP chat was creeping me out.  From both the dwarves and gnomes, they expected the same violence.  But like the journey to Goldshire, they provided quests to get to Karanos.  The night elves would be a little more forgiving… or not.  The Draenei?  Ah, yes!  They wanted me to collecting things (that weren’t in the hands of others) and give out medicine.

At some point along the way, I also managed to get mining and herbalism, and sometimes I even earned experience from using them (I suspect there is some powerleveling code in there because at one point I got 50 exp from a plant, then later after I leveled in the same area I got 54 exp).  And once I attained level 5 and got sneak, I was able to even take on some more quests that had finally opened up.

So, it seems my early levels will be filled with travel, not exploration (because I know there is a level floor on those, I wouldn’t get any exp visiting higher level zones), but making a rotation of the starting areas, harvesting and questing.  I’ve made level 7 so far, as it’s actually getting easier.

I also learned I have to be very careful of quests.  Things that appear to be something I can solo sometimes result in the game giving me a “pet” who will kill things.  Sadly, Kaens now has a single kill on his stat sheet because of one of these.  We’ll have to see if I can keep it at one.

Sneakin’ Around

Kaens

Kaens, human rogue

Years ago I tried an experiment that I originally titled “Sneaking Sixty” and then after the Burning Crusade released was retitled “Sneaking Seventy“.  I had to give it up because exploration exp got killed at some point so that you couldn’t walk a low level character into a high level area and get gobs of exp for surviving the journey, and there just weren’t enough quests to get the job done.

However, with the release of Cataclysm (actually I believe it was in one of the patches leading up to it), they’ve added experience to mining and herbalism.  So, since “Sneaking Eighty-five” sounds less cool that the two previous incarnations and because I’m certain the level cap will continue to increase, I’m reviving this experiment as “Sneakin’ Around”.

On the Moon Guard server, Kaens, a human rogue, will endeavor to make his way through the World of Warcraft without killing anything.  He’ll ferry documents, deliver messages, fish, mine ore, pick wild flowers and explore the world, all without a weapon in his hand.

Of course, upon logging in, I am faced with a dilemma: the very first quest is to kill things.  So now I must decide, can I just forgo the entire newbie area or will I need someone to “assist” me through a few quests to get me on my way?  The answer… next time.

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