Zanyana’s Chosen is a (mostly) weekly feature that walks through the Alganon gaming experience, bit by bit.
Leaving monsters still too tough for us to face alone behind, this week we take Valeska into Greenvale.
On our way in, we pass through Andar Crossing, a guardhouse area which, unsurprisingly, has a quest. Remember how passing from the first to second questing area in World of Warcraft, how there’d be some lazy NPC waiting for you? Guard Rothwell isn’t lazy, perse, but he wants us to get a few fernhound pelts and take them to Greenvale for bonelust analysis. Fernhounds are on our way, and are versions of the wolves we saw near Andar. The difference is these hurt a lot more, and two of them nearly kill me (while one parries a flamebolt – got to embrace the illogical). We survive, though, and move into Greenvale itself among the pines, with its own walls – a step up from the Andar we have left.
Greenvale is a nice town, offering us our first tradeskill trainers, a full suit of vendors, and plenty of quests. This is also our first real encounter with the bindstone system. In the middle of the town is a great gray rock glowing with blue energy. This will bind your soul, so that you can use Recall (a spell everyone is granted, with a 45 minute recharge timer) to return to the town. Right or left clicking on this stone will ask you if you want to bind your soul here, which of course we want to do. Because it’s also huge and in town, it will also get in the way from time to time. (A side note, for those who haven’t noticed yet – the edges of Alganon’s screen have a black fade out on them. This lends to a real ‘tunneling’ vision sometimes, focusing on what’s in front of you – but it also gives it a somewhat cinematic flare.)
There’s a few quests to pick up here, as well as turning in the fernhound pelts (which aren’t infected after all). We do find out, however, that the farms nearby are experiencing a plague of bonelust that has spread to the farmers themselves, something also being referred to as “the madness,” and we of course will need to investigate. There’s also a gnoll problem.
We also learn our first storm spell, Storm Shock, from the trainers here. This spell merely immobilizes the target, rather than doing damage, but it will prove invaluable to a “squishy” mage. The trick to its use is that it is a PBAoE, meaning that we can only use it after an enemy is already near us. Here we can also buy pets (a choice between Bloodfur, Darkhound, and Snowhound dogs – which share the wolf model). We can also finally learn Tailoring, which not only gives us cloth armor, but scrolls, special bandages, and bags. Materials are found by killing enemies, as usual, and we may not find many along the way, so may end up only playing catch-up later on.
To start off with, we’ll head west to the Allen (Davin, that is – yes, a reference to David Allen) Farmstead to investigate what’s going on. Simply heading west along the road will take us there, and the skies will become quickly overcast, even dimming the lighting on our character – as if we’ve stepped into an area haunted and doomed. The trees here sway and many are stripped outright of their leaves; the crickets sing loudly as if the fields are overridden with their song. It is, indeed, a dismal place, and it is here we find a well that bears a marking pointing to another nearby farmstead.
Just south and across the road we find the farmstead, and with it, survivors. Alas, still being level 4, we can only turn in our quest and not pick up the ones to soon be available, so we’ll return to looking for grain among the fields before returning to town. Easily gotten – even dodging every crazy farmhand out there – the grain’s returned to town, and we head south to kill some gnoll “Tibbits” – whatever that means. Gnolls in Alganon are very much like those in say, EverQuest – somewhat dog-like humanoids. And, like the fernhounds, they hurt – in the process of trying to kill ten, we end up beginning with two kills and a near miss (saved only by a nearby guard). Verily, we are squishy.
The problem is a tricky one. Once again, we need to level up, but we’re stuck with quests (unless we enjoy dying once for every two gnolls killed). There’s only one real solution for us at this point, the ugly G word – no, not group, grind. Although early Alganon did not give this much trouble (even for a mage), we’re sending ourselves back to the Andar area to get at least level 5, perhaps six, and if we’re lucky, a group for those nasty beasts we left behind.
Next time, we’ll resume our adventures post grind – and once again investigate this spreading bonelust.