Strangers In The Night

I mentioned that I also have a mage alt now, and she was getting into the right level range for Wailing Caverns. I've also mentioned that I learned from experience that Wailing Caverns is full of annoying collect quests that can actually be a bit of a pain to do in a larger group, so that it's actually better to knock out as many as you can outside the instance itself.

On Friday night I returned to the outer caverns to farm more Deviate Hides and Wailing Essence, after successfully knocking off Serpentbloom and the 99-year-old port a few nights prior. I found that my mage could just about solo the elite mobs in the area but needed to eat and drink after every pull, and if anything went wrong even in the slightest - including but not limited to an additional mob joining in - I had to make a run for the exit.

As I was killing more of the reptiles near the entrance, a number of other players came past and there was the usual drive-by buffing and occasional assistance with mobs. (Based on the levels of some of the passers-by, we've already reached "I'll just boost you through with my main" territory, despite of the many at-level groups still running.)

I noted a level 22 undead priest wanding things to death nearby and inwardly shook my head a bit that he was even bothering - I know from experience that soloing elites as a priest is painfully slow, even once you're high enough level to make it possible. As it turns out, he was clearly having similar reservations about what he was doing, and after casting Renew on me after several of my kills in a row, he finally shuffled over and asked if I was farming quest drops too.

When I replied in the affirmative, he asked if I wanted to group up and I accepted almost immediately. While being grouped makes collection quests somewhat more annoying, the fact that I couldn't take on more than one mob at a time by myself was worse, and I figured that we'd both have a much better time as a team of two.

I wouldn't call a mage/priest duo particularly synergistic - we were both squishy and more than once we both ran out of mana and had to slowly wand things to death together. But it did make the whole process much safer for me as a mage, since I didn't have to worry about dying, and much faster for the priest, whose own dps was terrible.

He was almost apologetic about the fact that he was only there for this one quest, but I explained that it was more or less the same for me. I did want to do the dungeon itself too and had joined the LookingForGroup channel for this purpose, but while that was scrolling past at its usual insane speed, there were no calls for dps for Wailing Caverns, only the occasional damage dealer looking for a WC group themselves.

Round and round we went, often competing with other groups of various sizes, while my priestly companion moaned about how much he hated that quest, its stupid drop rate and Classic altogether, in what I assumed wasn't an entirely serious way. It certainly seemed appropriate for someone playing a Forsaken, whom I always picture as a bit morose and sarcastic.

He also made some more light-hearted in-character jokes though, such as asking me if I didn't need to pee soon after I sat down to drink for the umpteenth time in quick succession, followed by declaring that as an undead he didn't have such problems since he was lacking the necessary parts anyway. I told him that was too much info.

In case this makes it sound like we were super chatty, I do feel the need to point out that this was not in fact the case. We went for very long periods of time without saying anything, just killing mob after mob after mob, but it was an entirely comfortable silence.

One interesting thing were the Devouring Ectoplasms or sludges as they are more commonly called. They are needed for a quest too, for Wailing Essence, but you only need six of those and the drop rate seems to be close to 100 percent. Compared to the dinos, there are way too many sludges in the caves, and they tend to feel like nuisances that just get in your way (a lot, since they all seem to patrol as well).

To make things worse, they have an ability to clone themselves when their health gets low, which results in a Cloned Ectoplasm with the same health and stats (as far as I can tell) as the original, meaning that you have to fight another elite mob right away, and one that drops no loot at that.

The cast of the cloning ability is easy enough to interrupt, but in Classic many classes don't have interrupts, which included the priest and my mage (at this level). It was possible to nuke the sludge down just so to make sure it didn't have time to finish its cast anyway, but this was very hard and most of the time we were what felt like just a millisecond to slow. After failing again and again, and having to deal with Cloned Ectoplasms over and over, the next time we finally managed to avoid the extra spawn was like a victory in itself.

After we had been at this for what felt like more than an hour, requests for damage dealers for Wailing Caverns actually did start popping up in the LFG channel. While I had warned my priest partner early on that I might leave if that happened, I ignored them and kept quiet. We'd been going for so long, by that point I wanted to actually get the quest finished for both of us more than I wanted to join a dungeon group.

In the end we finished very close together, which was interesting in that I had started the evening with way more hides than he did, but RNG had ended up evening things out. We thanked each other for the company, and despite his earlier grousing he said that he'd enjoyed himself before we parted ways.

I couldn't help but think once again that this sort of easygoing interaction with strangers is, to me, a big part of what Classic's appeal is all about. No great deeds were accomplished other than the completion of an arduous collection quest for two characters, and I'm not sure I'll ever see that particular priest again. But that doesn't really matter, because it was perfect as it was.

(Oh, and I did get into a Wailing Caverns dungeon group soon afterwards, as another call for dps went out while I was handing in my quests. Serendipity.)

1 comment:

  1. Yes, the random social interaction that turns out to be a fun diversion is a lot of the appeal for me. I saw a Mage I'd been on a Blackfathom Deeps run a few weeks ago was looking for assistance in Stranglethorn Vale, and I ended up joining him and another two to help burn down the zombie Trolls. Something that would have been --in retail-- a five minute exercise took a lot longer due to the drop rate, but the four of us chatted away and basically enjoyed ourselves.

    Outside of Classic, it's been a long time since a purely random grouping turned out so chatty and fun.