So of course you want to start building up your character, so that you may become stronger and more learned. (And make money to buy food and drink.) ...Some people get caught up in this leveling, and become "power gamers," trying their best to reach level 50 (currently the level cap). All they do is kill kill kill, camping in dungeons for items, etc. and never get into roleplaying the game at all.
But not I. Being the social person that I am, I quickly became immersed in that aspect of the game. Grouping. You shout out looking for group members, or you just approach someone and talk to them. Soon you make friends, and start to find people that you really enjoy their company. Well, here is the first example of EQ merging into real life: sometimes your friends disappear, and it feels like the loss of a friend in your actual life. I can think of one particular person whom I still miss terribly. He was like my twin in the game, same race/class/level, only male. We were together virtually every day (no pun intended). We explored together, battled together, researched our spells together. Then one day he was not online, and has never been since. Now there was a third who usually was with us, and he is still around, but it's weird, it's like he and I used to hang out because the other guy is gone. Now we are friends and do not mention him anymore, but it still sucked.
Eventually, we leave the bar and I accompany Margaret and Cecelia back to Margaret's apartment, a one-bedroom walk-up on the second floor of an apartment building, its tile floor decorated with oriental rugs. The interstate rumbles by just outside, muffled by a screen of trees. Margaret's computer is in the bedroom. There are some scarves on the desk, which she sometimes drapes over the low-watt lamp while she's playing so she can see the monitor better.
To play EverQuest, you have to first buy and install the software ($50 or so) and then pay a subscription fee, about $100 a year for unlimited play. Once you're in the game, you can create as many characters as you want, although you can only play one of them at a time. Among the things you can choose for each, besides race and profession, is gender. (Although it's generally assumed that the majority of players at any given time are maleas is true with all RPGsa sizable percentage of the characters on the Norrath landscape is female.)
Margaret's three characters are all women. Her favorite is Faline. She boots up and logs on, navigating quickly through a couple of introductory pages bearing the arching EverQuest logo. Verant, the company that manufactures EQ, maintains 24 different servers, each of them essentially a separate version of the same world. You can only interact with other players who are on the same server. When Margaret signs into the Mithaniel Marr site, a tally screen informs her there are currently 1,275 players on it. It's about 8:15 p.m. on a Wednesday.
"I don't remember where I camped," Margaret says. "Oh, I think I do "
The screen shows a tunnel or maybe a cave, a rocky floor stretching out into darkness. Fingers flying over her keyboard, Margaret shifts the point of view 360 degrees so she can see in all directions. She also types in a "Hello" that will be received by anyone in her guild who happens to be online. The responses come back: "Hello, milady." "Hello, Faline. And reporter?" ("I told them I was giving you a demo tonight," she says with a grin.)
Throughout the growing up of my character (who is now level 26) I had frequently grouped with several people. Now one of these I actually began to "date" in game. This was great also for my character development, as his character was a rogue, and I am a high elf. It was strange because I did not plan any of this, but by the time he and I began to date, I was already known for associating with rogues, as I had had many rogue friends. So it just fit in perfectly with her reputation. A very beautiful, haughty high elven maiden with the tendency for keeping the company of those of a more unsavory profession is very fun to role-play.
The thing is, that Onyx (the boyfriend) and I started e-mailing each other back and forth. I genuinely began to like this person a lot, so it was no question that I would be spending most of my online time with him. Eventually I was asked to join a guild, called Ilsik Haucil. There are many guilds in EQ, basically they are just groups of like-minded people. Some are better then others, and I feel Ilsik to be one of the very best. Especially since they already had some of my best friends. Ilsik now has 35 members. When I first joined, and all the welcomes came across my screen, it was truly an emotional moment, I had not expected anything like that. Ilsik is great because we all take care of each other. EQ is set up for a party to be six people, but sometimes we have 18 of us all fighting together as one group. It's such a blast when that happens.
Anyway, this Onyx, he is one of the guild's officers, the Keeper of The Watch, he is. Eventually we decided to get married in game, and got engaged
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