Scary Moments in MMOGs

by Shayalyn

It's the middle of
the night, and I'm on Norrath's moon, trying to stealth my way across
the alien landscape of Maiden's Eye. Being a druid, I'm not
particularly stealthy. I use my invisibility spells, but everyone knows
that only creatures with a pulse are fooled by invisibility (and even
then, not all of them). Undead abominations, such as the ones I've
heard lurk in Maiden's Eye, will easily see me and attack if I come too
close. And what's worse, they themselves can be difficult to
spot--they're nothing more than wraiths moving in black cloaks through
the darkness, or skeletal creatures lurching across the landscape, or
spectral wolves prowling in the moonlight.

And they're mean, or so I'm told. Some cast spells, while others simply
hit you...very hard. So I'm feeling some trepidation as I creep across
the landscape, making my way to the Umbral Plains, where my adventuring
party waits for me. I've never been here before. I only have a vague
sense of where to go to reach my location. Thank the gods that my sense
of direction is good.

As I hurry through the darkness, I don't see the creature hovering in
the shadows nearby. But it sees me. Suddenly its flying at me, its
black cloak flapping, eyes obscured by a heavy hood. I nearly jump out
of my skin. My gods, a Xi Vius! I know that to stop means to die,
because there are other creatures lurking out in the blackness that
will surely join this fight. And so I run. I run like the wind (its a
blessing for us druids, let me tell you). But this Xi Vius is fast, and silent, sailing over the terrain after me, no doubt
bringing friends. I don't look back, I simply run until I see a
building ahead of me that I'm hoping will offer sanctuary. That must be
the entrance to Umbral Plains, I think.

And here's where the immersion breaks. I do what any responsible gamer
would do; I yell desperately:

href=""> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 80px; height: 150px; float: left;"
alt="Creepy Xi Vius" title="Creepy Xi Vius (Click to enlarge)"
hspace="4" vspace="2">"Train to Umbral!"

Now, I don't know about you, but having a Xi Vius materialize out of
the darkness to "boo!' me while traveling across an unknown zone is
enough to make my heart pound and leap up into my throat. And I love
it. I love it when a MMOG truly makes me scared. I want to feel like my
pulse is a runaway freight train, and that cloaked freak was enough to
do it for me. Of course, after a while, I came to know Maiden's Eye
like the back of my hand. I would run through the zone, dodging this
and avoiding that, and if I picked up any undead creatures who wanted
to kick my ass, I'd simply lure them to my favorite corner of the zone
and kick theirs first. But for just a little while, Maiden's Eye, a
zone of the EverQuest Live Luclin expansion, scared the hell out of me.

Why a certain zone or quest was scary depended on a lot of factors, not
the least of which being that dying would result in a loss of my
hard-earned experience and a potentially difficult corpse run. (If
you've never had to do a naked corpse run in the middle of an
undead-infested plain, then you'll just have to trust me that being out
there among the skeletal drudges, cloaked freaks, and spectral wolves,
wearing nothing for protection but some rags to cover your naughty
bits, is enough to put you on edge.) But when fear of death isn't
enough of an incentive, certain locales inspire fear by their creepy
atmospheres, or the types of monsters one would find roaming there.
Maiden's Eye wasn't a particularly scary looking zone (not like some of
the scary places we've seen in Vanguard screenshots), but its high
population of creepy roaming monsters were enough to make me jittery.

And when it comes to scares, there's nothing like a good dungeon,
especially a huge one full of twists and turns and creatures lurking
around every corner. I've been in plenty dungeons where the thought of
finding myself alone left me hovering beside the members of my party,
looking around anxiously every few seconds to make sure none of them
had suddenly run off without telling me. Is there anything more
frightening than the thought of being lost and alone in a dungeon full
of hostile monsters?

I'm excited to have Vanguard bring back the scariness with its huge
seamless landscapes and enormous premier dungeons. There'll be href=""> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 150px; height: 120px; float: right;"
alt="Scary Vanguard zone!"
title="Scary Vanguard zone! (click to enlarge)"
hspace="4" vspace="2"> no more yelling
things like, "Train to Umbral!" in Vanguard--not just because that
particular zone won't be there, but because monsters in Vanguard won't
be detered by a little thing like crossing a "chunk" line into a new

There's a certain feeling of accomplishment that comes from conquering
your fears of a region or dungeon, but in order to conquer your fears
you have to be afraid first. Maiden's Eye in EQ is just one example of
a locale that struck terror into my little druid heart. And yet, after
learning the zone, I would gleefully run through it without
invisibility. In fact, a friend of mine and I were known to scamper
through the zone late at night collecting every mob we could aggro into
an enormous train. We'd zoom our cameras out and look at
ourselves from a distance, each pulling epic collections of chasing
monsters behind us, laughing as we'd yell, "Monster train to Umbral!"

And we would've gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling
Xi's at the entrance to Umbral...and a little thing called Harm Touch.

you ever been truly scared while playing a MMOG? Tell us about it in
href="">forum style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">!

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Karen 1
Karen is H.D.i.C. (Head Druid in Charge) at EQHammer. She likes chocolate chip pancakes, warm hugs, gaming so late that it's early, and rooting things and covering them with bees. Don't read her Ten Ton Hammer column every Tuesday. Or the EQHammer one every Thursday, either.