[DAoC] After we graduated from college, many of my friends decided to stay in touch in Albion. Despite no two of us being in the same time zone, we set up a play time when we all logged into Dark Age of Camelot. I had intended to be our Cabalist, but the lure of the run speed buff led me to be a Theurgist. Fear my bladeturn! It was also where I started learning all the EQ jargon we did not use in AC. Mez?
Let us turn to the three-part land of swords and sorcery. Okay, there are hundreds of fantasy RPGs, but what made this one fun to play (and presumably still keeps thousands playing it, if you will forgive the use of past tense)?
I will start with something trivial: currency was its own little box on the character sheet, not a physical object to be carried. This is pretty typical in a great many games, but after D&D and AC, I had gotten used to the notion of physically carrying around thousands of gold coins. Weightless, spaceless currency was a tremendous and unexpected boon. It also made dividing loot easy, since it could be automatically divided amongst team members.
This will be a recurring theme: DAoC did a good job of dividing things up. Let’s separate money from physical currency — brilliant! I recall reading of an anime where, after defeating the enemy and regarding its horde, the dungeon delvers pull out a debit card and transfer the gold coins to their account. Heroism for a digital age!
Crafting and killing things could be done completely independently. There were no trade-offs, unless you were using crafting as a money sink (which it often was, given the demand for most crafting products). You lost no combat power, no matter how good a tailor you were. Better: having a decent trade skill could help take forts in PvP!
This seems a revolutionary notion. In AC, you invested into trade skills, combat, and magic from the same pool. If you spent a few levels building up Cooking, you fell behind other swordsmen. In WoW, you need to be level x to get your trade skills to y (last time I checked). In DAoC, you could be a level 1 with your trade skill at the soft cap. Or you could build your trade skills along with your leveling, potentially making useful gear. When enchanting was added, player-crafted items became the most useful ones in around (at the levels where people actually bought gear).
Because you could build up secondary skills, you could help friends playing new characters. Bob just rolled an Armsman? Give me five minutes and a silver piece, and we can outfit him in pure bronze to burn through the early levels. You can get all that early stuff on just the one character.
I liked that I could indulge my crafting urges without being punished elsewhere. My only loss was time spent. My character was not permanently penalized elsewhere.
Also, after my friends had abandoned the game, I was connected to others via crafting. Those armorers needed my tailored goods to make their best items, and a paladin pal was dual-boxing to level my tailoring as a cheap source of components for him. “You’re going out of town for the weekend? Can I borrow your tailor, I want to work on my armorer. Say, we might go hunting to; can I have him sit AFK with his bladeturn chant running?” I would never have made level 50 without Koti, I swear.
Balance != Identical
DAoC explicitly rejected the notion that each faction had to have identical resources available to them. Most notably, the classes differed between the realms. They had different numbers of classes, and those with comparable roles had different specifics.
To pick two examples, consider the musicians and the bladeturners. Each realm had some sort of musical class. In Albion, the minstrel was a sort of rogue; in Midgard, the
Thane Skald was a warrior class; the Hibernian Bard was a cousin to the Druid. Each realm had a class with the bladeturn line of spells. In Albion, that was my Theurgist, a cloth-based quasi-pet class; in Midgard, the bladeturner doubled as the highest damage bolt-casting class; and in Hibernia, it was a highly armored hybrid warrior-priest. There were real differences between the PBAEDD casters and the assassins.
This is easy to do badly, but done well, it gives richness to the game and diversity to the realms.
I had favorite bits of content, as we all have in each game.
I loved Salisbury giants, for all the times they smashed my poor cloth-bearing flesh. The Salisbury Plains bring a song to my heart for time spent with friends and good pick-up groups. There were lots of nice bits there, like the slavers camp or the skeletons’ ruins where we would go to get owned when we got cocky. Equipped with cold spells, I spent much time soloing carrion drakes.
The redesigned Lyonesse was beautiful. It was the place to be, with interesting camps around. We all lived with pygmy goblins for a good while, first at the house and then over on the peninsula. The telamon, the outer ghosts who most avoided, the massive undead trees. It was a scenic zone where the occasional massive overpull was frantic fun. The aura of the cursed swamp worked well.
Sadly, I never experienced all of the content, since I could not explore the other realms with my Theurgist, and I could not bear to grind another character so far. I do not know that I got past level 20 in the other realms. What joys were there?
I always loved The Camelot Herald as a way of updating the world. It was always a good source of information. While there were some known issues with the Known Issues page, it was great to check out patch notes, the State of the Realm, who I was competing with for top Tailor rankings, how the guild was shaping up, or whatever was up. It gave me a habit that has me bookmarking the Dev Digest (or whatever it is called) for whatever game I play. Also, everyone loves Tweety (and toss up a link to Tweety Rants if you have one since the old location at bowlofmice seems to be down.
Hey, did you know that Mythic hired Lum for a while? Yeah, I read it on the Internet, so it must be true.
So why did/do you enjoy playing Dark Age of Camelot?
(Please remember, comments may be moderated for Shiny Happy Week posts. This is a festival of joy, not complaints.)