EverQuest Next: The Magic of Hunting for Spells & Skills

Posted Tue, Jun 25, 2013 by Dalmarus

EverQuest Next: The Magic of Hunting for Spells and Skills

EverQuest Next will be officially revealed at SOE Live on August 2nd. When that happens, the world is going to find out all kinds of awesome bits of goodness about the next upcoming title in the EverQuest franchise. While we wait though, I continue my commentary about how the brilliance of interlocking multiple facets of gameplay in the original EverQuest helped shape one of the greatest gaming communities the world has ever known.

If you were an EQ caster, you needed spells. If you were a warrior class, you needed skills. If you were a hybrid of these, you needed both. At the end of the day, no matter what you were hunting for to progress your character's personal abilities, you had to go out and find it. As an FYI, for the sake of brevity in this article, I'm going to refer to both skills and spells as the same thing. With that out of the way, let's carry on!

Long before World of Warcraft let your character get every skill they needed at each appropriate level step of character evolution from a single NPC, games made you run all over hell and back for certain spells. (Yes, I am aware there were some spells that required quests or other hunting actions by Paladins and Warlocks in the early days of WoW, but for the most part, you could get everything you needed by visiting a single NPC.) When EverQuest began, it forced characters to either trek through hell to get a spell themselves, ask for a higher level caster to create it using the Research ability, or buying it from an enterprising player. That mechanic was a stroke of genius.

While most spell merchants in various towns had a standard set of available spells, if you needed to get a spell called Shackle of Bone (a slow/debuff spell with the coolest animation of any spell ever) for example, you had to go to ONE vendor, or find someone willing to sell it. And I don't mean you had to go to one vendor in any major city, such as Freeport ... I mean you had to go to one vendor in the entire game. While the elderly merchant selling this spell wasn't too much of a hassle to get to, in the early days there were some sellers that were hell to either trek to, or to be able to buy from (see last week's article on KOS factions).

To this day, I still want to skin the hide off of Lissa T`Born, a Dark Elf merchant in The Overthere that wouldn't sell Exile Undead (an extremely effective Undead direct damage spell) to my Dark Elf Necromancer because, rather than being on Neriak Faction (the home of the Dark Elves), she was on a faction called Venril Sathir. Why does that matter? I may have spent an inordinate amount of time slaughtering Drachnids (who are on Venril Sathir faction) thus lowering my faction with every kill. It’s not my fault. Honest! There was this little matter of revenge I had to sort out for all the deaths those bitches had caused me months earlier. When it was all said and done my faction was so low that when it came time to buy the spell, Lissa nearly attacked me on sight. It seemed that even though I slaughtered them for nearly a week (ALLEGEDLY!), they still got the last laugh since I couldn't buy my own damned spell. It was still worth it.

"Great... so you had to run around, get killed by things, and try to hunt down all the spells you needed?" Yes. It may not sound exciting in light of being handed all your skills each level in games today, but it was a huge deal back in the day. And as I mentioned previously, it set up a system for players to help each other out. The not-too-common spells could be had by getting lucky on a mob drop (and these mobs were specific per spell, not some random can-happen-anywhere event), or sometimes ... they could be created.

Casters had access to a skill called Research. Throughout Norrath, various mobs would drop words of power, such as Words of Material, Words of Eradication, etc. Assuming a caster had the appropriate amount of skill, they could create a wide variety of spells by combining different words. This skill not only added yet another layer to the necessity for community interaction, it also added another level to the incredibly intricate layers of EverQuest gameplay.

I will freely admit that when I first started playing EverQuest, I had no clue what was going on. I just knew that I was playing a game with a 3D first person view with my close friends and it was our old Dungeons and Dragons sessions on steroids. We were in a video game unlike anything that had ever been seen before and we loved it. Even after gaining spells for my Necromancer, I had no idea that my Warrior had to work on their skills and use them repeatedly to gain proficiency. Oh, the pain of being level 14 and discovering I had only 5 points in 2H Slashing (two-handed edged weapons) when I finally got my first magic weapon and it was a 2-handed blade. But that, my friends ... that's a tale for next week!

While you wait for next week’s piece, catch up on any previous EverQuest Next articles you may have missed! If you’ve got questions, old-school aspects you’d like me to cover, or anything in between, shoot me an email or hit me up on Twitter!

Hi I juste created an acount to tell you how much I love your articles on Eq1 !

Can't wait for the grand reveal of EQN. If they put in only half the mecanics that made Eq1 so great so I'll stick on this game for years.

Cheers from Switzerland !

Love your articles on my beloved EQ Dalmarus !!
Makes me remember the feeling of awe when I first set foot in Norrath, that was epic.

EQ Next actually sounds like an exciting game. This crap they sell now days is horrible. Would be nice to see SOE overtake the MMO market. By showing them again, how to make a meaningful MMO that players would gladly pay a sub to play.

Bring out that EQ Next preview please.

Yo......Vallon Zek

Hopefully this won't get caught by the spam filters, been happening today.

Anyways, another awesome article. There was nothing better than that excitement of about to ding to a level with new spells, finding out where those other spells are and preparing to trek out and get them. High hopes for EQN :)

Oh EverQuest, how I miss thee. I don’t think we can ever recapture that original magic we experienced when introduced to the world of Norrath, however, I think if SOE does it right we can experience something just as exciting.

I found many aspects of the original EverQuest fun such as “Dumpster Diving” the act of checking out all of the vendors to see if a higher level player sold off anything he didn’t want or couldn’t sell in auction, and thus if I was quick enough I could find something good to either use for myself or try my hand at selling it. This to me was a game inside of a game and I really hope SOE includes something like this in EQN.

I played many different classes in EQ but I had the most fun playing casters because of the endless variety of spells available, and that I had to hunt, purchase, and trade to obtain my spells made it very worthwhile. The anticipation of killing mobs and hoping they would drop the spell you needed or spells you could sell for profit helped create an economy that was critical to the games social interaction.

Today’s games are very “cookie cutter” and follow the route of least resistance by making everything available to players in an easier way that allows players to just jump right in without having to worry about such things as finding your spells or skills in remote places or building relationships with other players who can assist you.

It’s my hope that EQN does away with simplifying everything for the player, if anyone has been watching the WOW boards you will see the constant complaints of how easy WOW is and how bored players are with the status quo. Those WOW players want something new and I bet harder than they experienced within WOW, and I think it’s high time that SOE gives them that with EQN.

Here’s hoping some of the original mechanics of EverQuest make it into EQN at least with a twist to make it fun again.


"I found many aspects of the original EverQuest fun such as “Dumpster Diving” the act of checking out all of the vendors to see if a higher level player sold off anything he didn’t want or couldn’t sell in auction, and thus if I was quick enough I could find something good to either use for myself or try my hand at selling it. This to me was a game inside of a game and I really hope SOE includes something like this in EQN."

I loved "Dumpster Diving"! I have never played another game that allowed that. I hope they allow it in EQN.

Had so many good memories of playing EQ. I'd seen the EQ nostalgia video before but it still makes me smile watching it.

It was a shame that our guild all broke up when WoW came out - I often wonder what happened to some of my old friends. Maybe we'll all meet again in EQ Next.

By the way, I love these posts you are putting up. I think it shows just how good EQ was when you present old images and all people can talk about is the good fun that they had - we didn't need fancy graphics, sparkly paths (although EQ now has it) or even flying mounts

Give me shouts of SAND GIANT TO DOCKS any day..

Another great post! I too remember the day's of spell research and having to actually find the skills/spells you needed. In today's games, you just hit a specific level, pay the price for it and keep grinding along. Back in EQ days, you could finally hit level X yet still be missing some lower level skills/spells because you couldn't find them, didn't drop off mobs, etc.

I'd love to see EQN bring about a way to truly bring gratification for obtaining a specific ability. There should be multiple ways to obtain these abilities (mob drops, research, auction house, quests, etc) and it would also be nice to have varied strengths of each (via AA's, more research, quests, etc). I just hate knowing every Cleric with "Healing I" spell will heal 25 hp. Make it so a truly dedicated, or very lucky, individual can be a "prodigy" of their class at early levels because they took the time to be the best at their character. I remember in my old guild, we had one Druid that could out heal the majority of our clerics dues to the amount of AA's he acquired. Somewhat funny thinking back about it but the abilities you acquired plus the time invested in improving those abilities could potentially turn you into an absolute powerhouse and I loved that.

Yes, using a 1hs weapon as a rogue for 25 levels before realizing that rogues should use piercing weapons was so insane. In addition, finding my druid's port spells early on by having to run to those zones and buy them from a vendor was such an epic adventure.

3 days of trying to get from Commons to Halas... oh jeez.

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