Why did it have to be gnomes again?
Mum knew, on an intellectual level, why gnomes were involved. After all, gizmos, gadgets and things that went "Whirr, Ping!" were right up their alley.
That didn't mean she was going to trust anything they made until enough suck-, erm, eager adventurers had tested out their newest gadget.
Which was why the tiny halfling was backing away, slowly, from the flying ship thingie that the gnomes had built in the Sinking Sands. Let someone else make sure it was working right, first. Maybe a lot of someone's. Like a few hundred. Or more.
This, however, left her in a bit of dilemma, as she'd promised to help in this grand new exploration of the newly-rediscovered areas. Surely she could help somehow without getting in that ... flying thing ... just yet, couldn't she?
"Surely you're not frightened of flying, are you little one?" The smug voice came from an erudite waiting for the next flying ship to dock.
"Nae! O' course nae, tallstuff! I jus' ..." The tiny redhead paused a bit, not wanting to come right out and say how little she trusted yet another gnomish contraption. Wouldn't do to start a panic after all.
As her eyes cast about for inspiration, they settled on a Far Seas flier fluttering in a breeze. "There be sae many eager tae explore th' new land, an' I'm worried aboot th' amount o' supplies available tae th' explorers. Methinks my skills would be better used at their Mara outpost frae a bit, until th' crush settles down."
With that, she nodded firmly to emphasize her point, then turned and scampered off. Maybe in a day or three she's think of flying, but in the meantime, they really could use her help at the Far Seas Mara Outpost ... she hoped.
Of course they could!
Arriving at the docks to the Isle of Mara at last, she scampered past a crowd of folks gathered around some newly-arrived pack animals, while mentally reminding herself to check on new mounts "soon." Imp, Pony of Mischief, was getting too old to be much good for some of her more adventuresome harvesting expeditions, and it was about time to put him out to pasture.
That could wait, however, as there were some rather frantic Far Seas Supply Division folks in dire need of a crafter of her skill, especially since so many crafters and adventurers alike had run off to explore the newly rediscovered lands, leaving them rather short-handed.
Oh, was Mum ever in her element! Crafting here, gathering local resources there. It was so nice to feel needed. The rewards being offered for continued assistance weren't too shabby, either, she had to admit!
Which, of course, reminded her that she still hadn't looked into getting a replacement mount, and the supply merchant, Koros, had hinted that there were some pretty impressive pack beasts available, even for tiny halflings such as herself.
The small white one didn't look too bad, at least from the back. Thoughtfully, she started to move around the pony-sized creature, looking it over carefully while the mare had her nose buried in some sweet feed.
There was something a bit odd about it, but she couldn't quite place her fing-...
She couldn't remember where she'd picked up that silly non-word for unicorns, but thankfully, the unicorn in question this time had a sense of humor.
The stableboy winced, not only at the name, but at the excited near-shriek. "Best watch out, Mum, this one may be tiny, but she's been full of mischief from the moment she arrived."
Mum more or less ignored him as she stared at the vision before her raptly. Regally, the dainty unicorn finished her last bite of food, shook her mane into place, turned her head just a bit to look at Niami, and winked.
Oh yes, they'd get along famously.
Once Mum finished a grand adventure with Jess (who definitely did suit Mum's personality to a T), to help a young Augren lad learn more about harvesting, Niami let herself be talked into helping the Far Seas folks already out in the field on the Moors of Ykesha. In theory, enough time had passed for the gnomes to work all the kinks out of their flying ship, so she wasn't nervous ... much. After all, it wasn't a brand-new invention, but rather rebuilding something they'd made in the distant past, which made it safer right from the start, or so they said.
Mum distracted herself during the trip with braiding Jess's mane. She wasn't scared, really she wasn't! Truly! She just wanted to be sure Jess looked picture-perfect when they stepped off the deck of that flying death-machine!
Once safely landed, she more or less ignored a clockwork thingamabob offering to teach her languages in return for some tasks, and made a beeline for Aymee Quickspoke.
Of course Aymee needed help! And, of course, like most gnomes, she spoke so fast that Niami could barely get a word in edgewise, which is why Mum soon found herself agreeing to check in with the other supply liaisons around the Moors, before it really sank in that the last person who had volunteered to do the task had turned up dead.
Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to try to find all these places on foot, but rather to take Aymee up on her offer of a teleport to each of the designated locations. But first, she needed to speak to a nearby "safety conductor" at the U.J.L. "zeppelin station", whatever that was. Durn gnomes always had to be using new-fangled words for things!
Nearby, turned out to be a relative term, when there was a ginormous gaping chasm in between the two women. Naturally, the gnomes, with their typical ingenuity, had enhanced on another rediscovered gizmo to overcome the problem.
One look at it, and she was thinking almost fondly of her fear-filled trip on the flying ship.
"Nae, nae, NAE!" Mum didn't care if she sounded like a hysterical fishwife. Nor did she care about the repeated reassurances that it was "nearly perfectly safe", nor that folks before the Rending had used just such a device as transport.
"Nearly perfect safe be exactly what they told me Great Uncle Rupert afore they stuffed him in some gnomish gizmo, an' they ne'er did recover all his discombobulated bits, so, NAE, I say!"
Jess, however, took the "nae" as a signal, let out a "neigh" of her own and scrambled forward. Before Mum knew it, they were packed in an oversized cannon, while a gnome mumbled about drag coefficients from foot-fur and unicorn horns.
They landed scant centimeters from a wall of solid rock.
After that, it was almost a piece of cake, as it were, to convince her to clamber into one of the flying motorized ballooons.
Almost. Kind of sort of.
By the time Mum finally got the Far Seas Supply folks all settled in and sorted out, weeks had passed, and she was handling travel via the various contraptions with all outward signs of poise and grace.
And if the extra strands of grey in her flaming red hair told another story, most folks were too diplomatic to say so.
... except for some lass with the odd name of "Miss Clairol" who promised she had a surefire technique to hide all those grey hairs from sight.
Before I dive in, however, the necessary disclaimers must be made. This information is taken from the TSO beta server. Things can/will change between now and launch. Things can/will change in the first week or so after launch as well, as issues are found and fixed. Because of this, I won't always provide exact details on everything, and even where details are provided, they are presented with the warning that this information can change suddenly. Every expansion we give such warnings, and every expansion someone has to get their knickers in a knot because something changed at the last minute and a fansite and/or SOE didn't warn them about it, costing them extra quest time, etc., etc. Imagine that. MMORPGs are by their very nature, subject to change. Who'd've thunk it? ;D
Now that we've got that out of the way, on to the preview, where various features are presented in no particular order other than redheaded whimsy!
While we don't get a crafter-specific achievement tree, there is more than one abiliy in the Shadows General category that are very crafter-friendly. Not only mount speed and run speed improvements, but harvesting and crafting progress abilities, too!
Let's face it, by the time you've hit the upper levels in crafting, unless you buy most of your resources, you have learned a thing or three about harvesting. Now there will be an ability that reflects that, called "Ample Harvest". Imagine yourself, harvesting along, and once in a while grabbing an extra handful of resources as you go! You can spend up to 5 achievement points in this ability, which currently will grant you up to a 15% chance at an added automagic pull on the node that you're harvesting. (A happy little message scrolls by amidst your harvesting messages mentioning a bountiful harvest, and the result of the harvest is automagically dropped into your bags.)
Swift Creation will also be a boon, as, by this time, the experienced crafter feels like they know their crafting process inside and out. Now they can apply that knowledge for up to 5 ranks (up to 10%) of crafting progress increase. This should come in especially handy for those working on the group crafting missions! (More on those later.)
Let's take a closer look at a couple of the main activity hubs for crafters in this expansion, and see what they have to offer.
Aymee gives a lovely introductory quest series that is custom-made for crafters to give you an overview of the new expansion and the various factions that are involved. In the process, you should also gain access to the zeppelin points that should grant you an easier way to travel around the region. (Similar to how sokokar posts work.)
In addition to giving you a quick tour of the region, you are introduced to the main factions (Grobb, Tupta and the Survival Accord), and will be given the opportunity to do some non-repeatable introductory quests for each that will grant you a solid chunk of faction with the appropriate group, plus reward you with a house item. These factions are not required, mind you, especially if you don't plan on adventuring in the areas in question as well, but they will give you access to the corresponding faction merchants. (These factions can be earned by crafters and adventurers alike, I am just covering the crafting side of things for this preview.)
Other than adventuring gear, the plan is for these merchants to offer appearance sets of armor, as well as house items. Nothing earth-shattering, but goodies that crafters tend to enjoy! A late-breaking addition (Nov. 4) to each of these three faction merchants includes a recipe book of racial-type furniture that level 65+ crafters of any crafting class can scribe/craft. We now have a beta gallery up of this crafted furniture!
Details on this quest, and the associated subquests, can now be found here.
There is, however, much more in store for crafters in this area.
The Far Seas Trading Company Supply Division is now using the largest building on the docks of Outsider's Landing as their outpost, and they need the help of skilled Norrathian crafters with numerous things. In return, they'll give you coin, faction with their Supply Division, and a Far Seas Trading Company Token. (These tokens are needed in order to make purchases from the new Far Seas Supply faction merchant.)
On top of the money, crafting xp and faction rewards, these instances also drop a chest at the end of the event, containing some nice crafter goodies - up to and including things like pieces of crafting set gear ... or maybe even a rolling pin ...
Further details on these quests will be linked in later this week, once I've formatted a quick quest writeup.
Further details on these quests will be linked in later in the week, once I've formatted a quick quest writeup. (Edit: all right, it wasn't a "quick" quest writeup, but here's the details on Far Seas Supply quests.
You will need some basic Far Seas Trading Company Supply faction, Far Seas Trading Company Tokens (earned from the above quests), and, of course, cold, hard, cash. Items for sale currently include several crafter-specific mounts (including the above-mentioned unicorn), appearance armor sets, two recipes for every crafting class, and crafter set gear for every crafting class. (These sets will be a little different from the sets that will drop in the group crafting instances with regards to stats and bonuses.) Additional details can be found here.
Here is what we do know so far:
You can find further details on this quest here.
In addition, recipes for altars the two newest deities, Anashti Sul and Rodcet Nife will be automagically added to the appropriate books for the common and imbued altars. (If you've already scribed the current altar recipe books, you'll automagically receive the recipes for these two new deity altars.)
Let me be perfectly clear that the automagic part is for the common and imbued altars. The hall-placeable shrines are in a new book that you will have to purchase once the expansion is launched.
The altar furniture guide has been updated with images of these new offerings.
But what if you're a crafter, working on your 7th crafting alt? Fear not, there is also a tradeskill xp bonus, for those with xp-capped crafters!
Your bonus xp status will display on character select as a happy yellow "Experience Bonus" message. (Mouse over it and it will tell you how much xp bonus you are earning on your non-maxxed characters.)
Surprise - More Tapestries!On top of a lot of lovely house items that will be available for the scrounging in some of the adventuring dungeons, there will be two more craftable tapestries.
One of them, the Tapestry of the Steam Lord (left), is a tapestry version of a cloak that drops in Najena. It will automagically appear in the Advanced Carpenter Volume 79 book and will require a mantrap root.
The other tapestry, the Flame Tapestry (right), will be from a 5-charge recipe that is found in the Najena: Deep Forge adventuring dungeon from a book or page in the "room with the mages in it".
Let this serve to remind folks that there can be little extras here and there that are not covered in detail in this preview. Keep your eyes peeled!
What would a Mum preview be like without extra eye-candy? Larger versions of these images can be found here.
As new details are uncovered, I will update this section of the article. (Information may be added to the upper sections as appropriate, but the information will be echoed down here so that it is easier to find.)Update tracking:
Furthermore, while the text content of this preview is mine, massive, nay, GINORMOUS kudos have to go out to Kaisha Triol, our very own EQ2TC graphical goddess. Not only did she do most of the legwork on the various quests and offerings, and put together fabulous quest/expansion details for me to work from, but she did a metric ton of images for the site, several of which are displayed above, but many of which will be in various guides and galleries that are linked in during the coming week or so. ... and she did it all while dealing with pneumonia! Thanks ever so much!
~Christy Bell (aka Niami DenMother)
The Shadow Odyssey expansion, which will be released on November 18, 2008, is currently available for pre-order. Check out the details here