When we left off two weeks ago, our dear little mage Valeska was dealing with bonelust, necromancy, and gators. We also left off not killing the nasty zombie Maggothead for a later time.
A few days ago, another patch (2.3) went live, and made changes to Magus, Ranger, and Healer classes. Most notably for the mage, the Frost line has been obliterated as a tanking spec; while it has continued improved survivability, it is now a DPS spec like all other specs. Storm has also been changed significantly, removing its role as support. This takes away a great deal of the unique nature of the game, even if a practical choice. All talents, however, have been completely revamped, and many spells have also changed up. Thankfully, it’s early in the game so our studies and efforts can easily be changed to reflect these adaptations. To that end, we’re going to switch Valeska to Storm and give this new tree a try, although we won’t have any storm abilities for a bit yet.
All said and done, we have a few new quests to pick up in Andar: returning five Ardonya Tokens to the guard merchant (they are rewarded occasionally as we do quests), and dealing with the Skitter threat by finding Marc Shillar.
Marc’s on the far west side of the small starter zone, and he wants us to kill a dozen variety of skitters, plus bring him a dozen of their bits. A skitter is a bug of sorts, an eight-legged beast that walks with its four forelegs upright like a humanoid might (or a Nerubian, for those who play World of Warcraft). They’re relatively small (less than half Valeska’s height) but make an annoying several-note call that is annoying, sounding a bit like a whining parakeet, and an even worse screech when engaged in combat. Even their little larvae make this sound, and it travels far, so there’s no question if you’re near one.
The skitters are easy to find and hardly a challenge, except for the thresh skitters we’re required to find which are located further south toward their dens, nasty looking mounds that look like a termite mound was built around some flagellating pink plant. When we return to Marc Shilar, he tasks us with killing their Queen, Skittlar, and also tells us the Skitter seem to have a relationship with the Sprog. “Almost like they are being raised as cattle,” Marc says, “The problem is, I can’t tell who is raising who.” He’s eager to send us off to speak with Jon Andar, who’s investigating the sprog problem. Like Maggothead, we’ll leave Skittlar alone for now, and move to the other base camp.
Jon Andar, a “Sprog Specialist,” simply tells us that a good Sprog is a dead one. A fair scientific approach. For whatever reason (something vague about him recognizing it in the hands of the sprog), Jon wants us to go retrieve a tool of great evil his father found and buried in the mines to the southeast. This is a fairly simple run-and-fetch; none of the sprogs on the way are aggressive. On the way, we also get a chance to see a Living Storm, a special enemy that was used in a quest line prior to Alganon’s official release. The chest itself is outside the mines, and sure enough, once we haul it back, the “great evil” artifact – called a Bloodgem – isn’t inside. Jon Andar puts all the pieces together for us, and tells us to kill Sprogsnarg, the leader and shaman of the Sprog, to put an end to his necromancy. Apparently, Jon’s been filled in on the whole bonelust issue. Of course, none of this explains what the skitter and sprog connection is.
We’re now at a unique position here – we have three “group” bosses to kill, and only five guard tokens to turn in for a little extra experience, coin, and another new pouch. There are no more quests for us in this new area now, so we’re stuck trying to fight these beasts or move on to the next area. In the several times I’ve run a new character through the starting areas, I’ve had mixed luck with these mini-bosses; some have proved impossible until coming back at later levels, and some have proven far easier than expected.
To Maggothead we head, and the prospects are grim. After a good strong fight, and using the one health potion Valeska has, Maggothead’s only down half his health and she’s almost dead. We run away like any noble mage, and decide that if the easiest of the three is too large a challenge to overcome, it’s time to move on for now. So we head west, and look down the road to Greenvale, our first real zone.