Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Politics and Skillups

Since my method of shouting in Jeuno to form a skillup party seemed to work well, I decided to try my luck again. The dynamics unfolded quite differently and became unpleasant around the end, but the net result in terms of my stats were: no experience points lost, 9 skill levels gained. I'm now at 188, on the verge of 189.

The party started small; about 5 of us including another Paladin and Red Mage combination. After the usual creaky start that I've come to expect (people warping/transporting around, forgetting equipment, going on a food break, etc) we went to Kuftal Tunnel and, to our surprise, encountered no experience parties at the entrance. We steadily engaged Robber Crabs, and the skillup points started to roll in. I learned from one of the party members that A-class weapons cap at 210 on enemies in this area, making it a perfect place to carry my Great Axe into Raging Rush splendor. After a little while the Red Mage invited some of his friends, resulting in a small alliance: 6 in one party, 3 in another.

And this is where I started seeing a recurrence of the 'over-confidence' I'd noticed last night. We were plowing our way through enemies, killing everything, including lizards, on our way to the main chamber. Once in the open, someone noticed an Air Elemental and warned the group to stop casting magic. But someone else took it upon themselves to decide for the rest of the group that we could take it... and actually pulled it to us. I was mortified. The White Mage was furious. We all survived, but it wasn't pretty. After a scolding and some nervous laughs, we resumed our activity.

In a party of this size, with players largely in the upper 60's and low 70's, it became clear that there were going to be some personality clashes. I believe people who progress to these levels exhibit strong personalities anyway, since the dedication this game requires weeds out those who aren't stubborn enough to keep going. And when you put these strong personalities together... things can get heated; so I think I need to prepare to be a bit of a conciliator in these activities (as well as in future EXP parties).

After about an hour of skilling, someone noticed a Fire Elemental (stronger than the Air elementals) and joked about engaging it. The White Mage, not appreciating the humor, stated "If you pull that elemental, I will not heal you." This apparently pushed someone's buttons who, like a 2-year-old, ran over to the elemental, engaged it, and brought it back to camp. Again, I was dumbfounded. My HP was low, as were a few MP meters in the group. So I went over and rested with the Mages, watching this party of high-level players flirt with death again...over nothing but pride.

At this point I felt no loyalty to the group. They had taken this out of my hands and were gambling with experience points. I decided that if they died, I would use my Warp Scroll, thank them for the party, and log out, disbanding all of them on the floor of Kuftal. It would have been up to the White Mage to determine what to do with them.

This didn't happen, fortunately. They narrowly defeated the elemental, for a single Fire Cluster. Once the Fire Cluster appeared in the drop log, one of the mages who had reportedly wandered off to 'do some farming' (um.. wtf?), returned and asked if we were OK with her casting a lot for the item. The Red Mage, who had already fired off at the White Mage for her 'discipline' went absolutely ballistic and told the leecher exactly how he felt about what she was doing. The Red Mage promptly lotted the cluster, as did the leech, and several other folks, including myself. My LS-mate Phear was there with his perma-party, which included the strident Red Mage and the White Mage disciplinarian. Phear had taken the majority of the damage in the fight, and fortunately won the lot. Once this happened the Red Mage continued to rail about the leecher; the silence on the other end indicated /tells were being shot back and forth outside of the /party channel. Sure enough, within minutes, the White Mage and Phear, and the leecher (who was apparently a friend of the White Mage) disband to 'go play'.

So we were left once again with a RDM + PLD combination, along with me and a Black Mage character. We did OK for awhile, and I noticed that a smaller, bare-bones skillup party flowed much more smoothly here, as long as everyone kept their head. That's when the Black Mage carelessly cast an AOE spell of some sort on the crab we were engaging and accidentally got the attention of a lizard.

In typical Warrior fashion I cast Provoke on the lizard to save the BLM, crossed my fingers... and slowly solo'd it while the others finished off the crab. This is where I made my mistake: I didn't pull the lizard to a safer place. So another lizard linked, and now the party had two enemies and a Warrior with dwindling HP. I got a few cures (mental note: bring potions next time), but the RDM and BLM eventually died, leaving me and the Paladin to finish off the remaining lizard. This was getting difficult because of the lizard's AOE which lowered our strength. We were close to finishing it off when a Robber Crab popped behind the Paladin and immediately started in on him. When I saw this I knew we were doomed, but we kept going. The crab hated me, since I was wearing 3 pieces of my enmity-boosting Artifact Armour and dealing a large amount of damage with the Darksteel +1 Axes (I changed to these when the s*** hit the fan). Resigned to my fate, with shadows down and no hopes of getting them back up, I cast Mighty Strikes, and let off a Rampage, which took a good chunk of HP from the crab, but not enough.

The crab killed me a few strikes later. It was up to the PLD now, who took the crab to double-digits in HP before he died as well.

Someone had a WHM friend in the area who came over and gave us Raise 3; combined with my Moghancement, this resulted in no EXP loss whatsoever. Just massive downtime as the party recovered.

After this the party sort of fizzled out and we eventually called it a night.

No comments: