Sunday, June 06, 2010

Advanced Journeyman Tasks

Since joining the EQII design team I've been steadily adding more and more tradeskill quest content into the game (prior to my hiring there were next to no tradeskill quests at all).  After revamping the tradeskill tutorial series I started adding a one-every-ten-levels series given out by a Grandmaster crafter in each home city.

The quests were a learning process for me as much as anything; quest writing was not the primary focus of my time, and so I had to pick things up here and there as opportunity permitted.  Accordingly, both the quests and the writing solidified as the quest line progressed and I learned more.  By the time I created the fourth quest in the grandmaster quest series I had worked on various other quests also and was getting more confident in the process.  I was also in a slightly odd mood.  And accordingly, "Advanced Journeyman Tasks" was created with a rather peculiar sense of humour.

The general outline of the quest:

  • The grandmaster in your home city asks if you could check up on one of their trading liaisons.  The liaison was sent to the Sinking Sands and was supposed to have checked in by now, but has not been heard from, and the crafting society is worried.  
  • Off you go to locate her and, if needed, offer your help. You travel to the Sinking Sands and soon find Vanesta, the trade liaison, a little way up the beach, looking very ill.  She is retching into a bush, in fact.  You ask if you can help at all.  She complains of the terrible heat.
  • You borrow a recipe from Vanesta and assemble a functional tent to keep her out of the sun.  She's grateful, though still very ill, so you ask if you can do anything else to help.  
  • The trade liaison is too ill to suggest much, however, so off you go to look around the local merchants and see if any of them have anything that might help poor Vanesta recover.  What luck!  A shady merchant down near the crocodile hunter camp does seem to have a recipe book called "Bert's Big Book of Health".
  • You're not sure what's wrong with Vanesta but she did mention she'd recently been exposed to a mushroom infestation in Darklight Woods, so you figure you'll try making the "fungus potion" in the recipe book you just bought.
  • The trade liaison gratefully tries the potion, but unfortunately feels worse than before... in fact, she passes flat out in front of you.  Hastily, you craft up the energy drink listed in the same recipe book, and pour it into the liaison's mouth.
  • Well!  She certainly wakes up - it looks as if lightning strikes her.  Furthermore, she seems to inexplicably now be surrounded by teeny little mushrooms.  As poor Vanesta crackles with electricity and asks if you're trying to kill her, you rush off to try the next recipe in the book instead: a plague remedy.
  • Despite Vanesta's misgivings, you manage to persuade her to try the potion.  Unfortunately, it seems to GIVE her the plague, rather than cure it.  Now she is not only surrounded by fungi and crackling with electricity, but she's also covered with rather unattractive green plague pustules.
  • In desperation you try the only recipe left in the book, described as an "acupuncture kit", which you bring back to Vanesta and put down on the ground beside her, only to discover it looks like an iron maiden.
  • "Are you trying to kill me?" she demands, and snatches the book from your grasp.  Reading the book more closely than you had, she points out that the "Bert" of the title is most likely "Bertoxxulous," god of disease and decay.  One stern lecture about the importance of understanding what it is you're crafting, and she sends you packing with the desire to never see your face ever again.
  • Returning to the Grandmaster who sent you out, you omit a few of the details when you report that the trade liaison is indeed still alive and you had tried your best to help her.
I had quite a bit of fun both playing with the various alarming effects that get applied to poor Vanesta, and also writing her dialog which goes from sick and cranky to insulting to downright rude.  Of all the crafting quests I've done so far (and there have been quite a lot now), with the possible exception of the tradeskill epic quest this quest is the one that gets mentioned the most as everybody's favorite.  Either a little humour goes a long way, or our tradeskilling players are harboring a bigger streak of sadism than we had hitherto expected ... or possibly both.

The happiest moment for me though was when I happened to look up the quest on wikia, one of our fan-run information sites which is a wiki-style format that can be updated by anybody.  And I discovered the very first line of the "Steps" section says:  "This is actually a very funny quest so read everything that she says to you."

That's got to be about the best thing that a quest designer could ever read in a fan write-up.  =)


  1. Oh my, that's brilliant! Good job!

  2. Drew Taylor, aka Voldran (LDL Server)June 7, 2010 at 11:24 AM

    That quest was brilliantly written. To this day when I pass by Vanesta in Marr's Oasis I still feel bad and scolded. You begin to empathize with her towards the end and it's still my all time favorite quest...EVER!!! And it's funny as heck too. Can we get a sequel please?

  3. A sequel, do you want to actually kill the poor woman?!

  4. Agreed - fabulous quest! It cracks me up every time I do it. Plus it helps me justify carrying around portable crafting tables in my bags :).

  5. I just want to say Domino I loved this quest. Great job as always!

  6. Vanesta made a reappearance in the Obol Plains tradeskill quests, where it appears you did in fact kill her back in your first encounter, and she's not very happy with you for that!