EverQuest Next – Unleash the Beast

Mob leashes have been around for years, but it may be time to remove them.

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had originally intended to write this piece about zone
lines (as noted at the end of href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/eqn/making-stats-matter">last
week’s article),
but after thinking about it over the weekend, I came to a different
It’s not the zone lines that I want to see make a return
(although separation
of areas is important as I’ll talk about in a bit), but
rather the unleashing
of mobs with EverQuest Next. “Mob leashing” refers
to the act of having mobs on
an invisible leash so that if a player runs far enough away, the mob
will turn
around and return to its starting point without passing go or
collecting $200.
It will also ignore anyone in its path and will not stop until it
reaches its
origin point. 

any doubts, there are legitimate and well
documented reasons why mob leashing became a common theme almost 10
years ago. As
a whole, gamers will always find a way to abuse and torture their
players. Whether it’s because they feel they’ve
been slighted in some way and
are seeking revenge, are just assholes that think it’s funny
to ruin someone
else’s gaming experience, or are simply mentally deficient
human beings, the
reasons don’t matter. When mobs were not on leashes, it was
an easy matter to
train other players or groups (get a large number of mobs to follow you
and run
past the player, since at least some of the mobs chasing you would peel
off and
attack them as well). With the right class and enough skill you could
also solo
mobs that were never intended to be taken down by a character of that

are other reasons the genre-wide change was made as
well, but there simply isn’t enough time here to list them
all. The short
version of this is that if there is a way for a player to use the lack
of a
leash on a mob to abuse someone else, it’s going to be done
at some point.
Despite all this, I think it’s time for mob leashing to go
the way of the dodo
bird or at the very least, be altered significantly. There was fun and
excitement in the act of trying to get away from a pull gone horribly
wrong. The
sense of terror that engulfed you as you desperately tried to avoid a
inevitable death was often one of the most thrilling aspects of the
games of

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without leashes can also be a great tool for one of
my favorite things about all games that incorporate it – that
sense of random adventure
or unexpected consequences. I’ll give you one of my favorite
examples and the
tale of my most infamous revenge killing spree ever. 

the original EverQuest, there was a great low level
area to hunt in called Crushbone. It was the home of the Crushbone Orcs
and was
a fantastic zone. There were Orcs (duh) aplenty but there were also a
number of
slaves. One of those slaves was a small gnome by the name of Retlon
He would spawn in one of the slave pits and there was a quest which
freeing him with a slave key. There was just one problem when someone
release him – he and his earth pet would immediately go on a
rampage and kill
everything in sight. 

can’t count how many times I was the victim of this rat
bastard in my early days. One day he managed to kill me over 10 times.
worst of these was when I ran for the zone line and as I came to a
frozen dead
stop, thought that I had made it and was just waiting for the screen to
Nope – his damned pet had rooted me a style="">hair’s
breadth away from the zone line.
While I went about then retrieving my
corpse, Retlon went to the very top of my revenge list. Years later,
when my
Necromancer was almost level 50 (Retlon is only 15 or so), I sat in
that pit
and killed him all day. And by all day, I mean almost 6 hours straight.
and over, and over. It was glorious and one of my favorite moments in

Retlon had been on a leash, or would only keep agro on
the first person he attacked, then it wouldn’t have been a
big deal to have him
in the game. Rather than being a named gnome I clearly remember almost
14 years
after first encountering him, he would instead have been yet another
mob that I couldn’t care about. 

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of that is because of mob leashing. The other side
of this coin is that without zone lines (or some sort of modern day
I wouldn’t have had that brief moment of triumph as my nose
froze just shy of
the zone line in my desperate escape. It would have been reduced to
“Oh, I just
need to run 50 years in any direction to get him to drop
agro.” I will agree
this mechanic lessened the ability of your average person to grief
player, but personally, I think it removed far more than that. 

removal of zone lines and the addition of mob
leashing (combined with a lack of a real death penalty) has removed a
sense of danger, of thrill escapes, and of camaraderie from the games
we play
today. No more can you and your friends sit and talk about how you
escaped from Crushbone, how you saved that Halfling Ranger as he went
past with a train of Gnolls on his tail, and more. 

know that mob leashing helped solve some
problems, but I firmly believe that it’s time for a game to
come out that finds
other solutions while not handicapping its players in the process. I
EverQuest Next is that game.


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