Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Francis' Journal: Good Intentions, Bad Weather

Today I ventured back into the Reach. I knew my old 'friends' wouldn't want to see me but I craved the safety of the high, protective walls again. Besides, I finally have enough money saved up to stay in an inn where I won't wake up with my throat slit and my meager possessions gone. 

As I walked through the gates however I was greeted by the sound of a Queen's herald. I didn't take in the details, I really should have, but she was spreading news of some disaster or another in the Shiverpeak Mountains. She asked for help on behalf of the refugees dislodged from their homes and my heart went out to those poor Norn. I know all too well what it's like to be dislodged from your home by a force of nature (those who would disagree that my father is a force of nature have clearly never met the man).

Of course I also saw it as a way to get back into my family's good graces, they would often talk about 'playing nice' with the other races and this sort of thing would surely look good; a noble reaching out to the unfortunate of another species.

So off I went. I'd never used the Asuran portals before so that was a new experience but it beat wandering for days, potentially getting lost and mugged by bandits for my efforts. 

Hoelbrak is cold, really, really cold. I know they're called the Shiverpeaks but I'd not expected how utterly freezing it was, especially considering how little I've seen several Norn wear! My coat is comfortable but far too thin for such cold weather. I almost turned around and went home there and then but I'd come this far so I soldiered onwards hopeful that my body would adjust with time and exposure.

I helped all i could in the city but I was soon coaxed out into the wilds of the foothills. One Norn asked me to walked back along the refugees path, fixing signs so they'd know the route back to the city. It seemed simple enough so I agreed and set to work. It was simple enough to begin with, but it soon seemed that heading towards the mountains made my time in Queensdale look like a walk in the palace gardens!

At one point a huge Norn dressed in blues dropped from a tree and tried to assault me. I have never run so fast in my entire life! I didn't stop until I reached a small refugee camp. Thankfully one especially broad axe-wielding mountain of a male Norn was in good shape and protecting the camp and didn't seem to mind terribly that I hid behind him.

I stopped at the camp to catch my breath and planned my trip back to the safer part of the foothills, helping the refugees was a task for those far more adventuresome than me it seemed. Something odd did happen while I was there however. I was helping start a fire which was being really very uncooperative and getting increasingly irate. I glared angrily at the kindling we had, demanding it spark to life, and it did. I'm sure it was just eerie coincidental timing but it did make me jump nonetheless.

Tonight I am back in Hoelbrak, I'm staying in one of the animal lodge affairs and one of the workers here, a shaman I think she said she was, suggested that tomorrow I stay in the safe parts of the foothills and visit the shrines. I'm not sure what she thinks I'll gain from Norn shrines but I am willing to visit, afterall she mentioned a key word 'safe'. It will be more than welcome after today.

OOC: Long overdue mention of the Flame & Frost prelude. Francis didn't get all the way along the refugees route but he made a good stab at it!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Are the nobility truly noble?

Words & screenshot by me, formatting and other artwork by the talented Fornax. More Krytan Herald articles can be read here.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Travels in Tyria: The Queen's Forest

Words & screenshot by me, formatting and other artwork by the talented Fornax. More Krytan Herald articles can be read here.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Dailies make me a manipulative cow

What dailies do to me.

I have to admit that in a lot of ways I am a very lazy player, the daily achievements are easy enough to do yet still I don't get them done every day I'm on, there's always items to flip or RP to be had and I'm easily swayed by these distractions.

When I do get around around to my daily achievements I've noticed that some of the new tasks they've added changes my behaviour while playing as I try to get my 100% as quickly as possible. The first big change is the days 'Daily Healer' crops up.

See those fine upstanding villagers getting savaged by a wolf? Ordinarily I'd be all over that, saving the day and whatnot like a good adventurer. But today is Daily Healer day, I need to revive some people so I stand twiddling my thumbs, orchestrating their downfall.

After they fall prone I sweep in, fight the bad guys (or if I'm especially lazy I let my hounds of Balthazar do it) and tend to the poor peoples wounds. They hop up, cheer and thank me, I'm a hero!

Stopping to help injured people as you pass them is a great idea for a daily task, unfortunately wanting to be quick makes me a bit of a manipulative cow. Okay a lot of a cow on the days I trail mobs into an NPC to get that final revive..

I'd like to say I'd change my ways, that I'll put in a few more minutes to find already downed NPCs or players and help them out, but I probably won't!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Francis' Journal: The 'Beauty' of Nature

Again I awoke feeling as though I was suffering a hangover, every inch of my being screamed out in agony. I had thought myself to be in good shape but this morning every single one of my muscles ached, how do the common folk endure these tortures to their bodies every day? At that point I would have murdered for a half-decent masseuse. Alas that lifestyle is still out of reach until I prove to father that I've 'learned my lesson' 

After I dragged myself out into the world my day actually got off to a pretty good start. I heard a man yelling for help and once I was completely certain there were no muggers running past me or monsters on the loose I decided to cautiously investigate. Turned out that the man's rabbits had gotten loose and they were feasting on his crops. Spying a chance to be a good samaritan (something that's bound to earn favour with father) and to play with cute bunnies I was eager to help. Chasing the little creatures around was far harder than I'd expected, the staff were responsible for rounding up Lord Snuggles at the end of the day when I was a boy but I'd always assumed it was a simple enough job. 

Difficulties aside we eventually managed to round them all up with minimal damage to his harvest, he even tried to sell me one of the rabbits. If I wasn't finding it so hard feeding myself I would have been tempted, I never did forgive Amber for what her mutt did to my poor Lord Snuggles, those squeaks haunt my dreams to this day.

When I mentioned that I really couldn't afford it the kindhearted man gave me a small reward for helping him out. It seems the 'peasants' are far more pleasant than my old friends had led me to believe. Speaking of which I haven't heard a thing from any of them since my exile, it makes me question everything I knew. But perhaps that's the exhaustion and lack of rich filling foods talking.

The day went downhill from there..

First I tried helping a local fisherman. He asked me to check the traps he'd set up, which sounded simple enough. I should have known better by that point, nothing is 'simple' with these people. I went to open one of the fishing cages when I was savaged by a drake! The fisherman laughed it off saying it was only a baby and drakes and skelks got into the cages all the time! I have no idea how long I ran for but it was certainly long enough to ensure none of those evil water-lizard was following me!

Next the dam. I wasn't looking forward to more heavy lifting but at least this time it would be safe, hopefully. I was clearing rocks and plugging leaks and I got to chat to some of the other workers. After hearing about my predicament one of the older workers gave me his pickaxe and taught me how to spot ore deposits, he explained that if I ever intended to travel that gathering ore for craftsmen could earn a decent wage. I was a little skeptical but right now a gift is a gift and I wasn't going to turn it down.

I was settling into my day at the damn, thinking that it was nice to have a quiet job for a change when the world had to go and prove me wrong yet again. It turns out the dam isn't safe. I was just minding my own business when a giant looming figure made out of stone stomped it's way towards me! Needless to say I found a safe place to hide and let the proper authorities deal with it.

I tried to write off the elemental attack as a one off, to tell myself that perhaps it was poor luck that my peaceful job had been interrupted. Unfortunately the living nightmare that is Queensdale had other ideas. As I set back to work we were beset by flying creatures. 'Harpies' I believe one worker yelled though I wasn't paying too much attention as I was moving with haste and purpose to find a different job for the rest of the afternoon.

Deciding that the incident with the rabbits was clearly a sign I should be working with cute animals today I headed for the Moa ranch. For a brief shining moment I felt that my hunch had been correct as I was hired on to find some missing Moa chicks that the workers assumed were just hiding in nearby bushes.

So there I was, making cute sounds to coax out baby birds, with some degree of success I might add, when I came to some heavily rustling undergrowth. Hoping to bring another chick home I reached out to try to reassure the poor creature only to end up with the barrel of a pistol aimed squarely at my face! Apparently bushes are good hiding places for Moa chicks and bandits! If it hadn't been for the quick action of my hero, rancher Mepi, I doubt I'd be alive to write this.

Perhaps I should try the city for opportunities tomorrow, clearly the 'peaceful farmland' of Queensdale isn't so peaceful.

OOC: I'm slowly getting back up to date on these entries, the next one should see Francis becoming more aware of the situation with the Flame & Frost storyline. This entry is just a summary of the rest of Queensdale and the dangers therein. Several of the renown hearts in the area are doable without fighting anything though the Moa Ranch is tricky as you need to keep coming back when those bushes are 'suspicious' again! I could have tried going into the Bandithaunt caverns to kick over some of the bandit's supplies but poor Francis didn't fancy trailing that many bandits around and I played it safe!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

But I don't have much time.. (Part One)

To some playing the market can be seen as too time consuming at first glance. Not everyone can play every day so they're reluctant to spend the bulk of their play time sat at the Trading Post. Your investments don't need to be babysat however and there are a few approaches to trading that require very little time. Over the coming weeks I'll be doing blog entries on a few of these approaches (a list of my entries will be put under the 'Guides' tab above).

Approach #1: Salvaging for Ectos

I was a little reluctant to start with this one as it's a fairly solid earner but involves some luck at times and can become a time investment if you have a big startup investment to play with. However  I wanted to list this one now as it's more relevant with the current 'Items Salvaged' part of the monthly achievement. But I'm getting ahead of myself, first things first:

What's an Ecto?
For those that haven't gotten around to salvaging high-level items or crafting high-level items 'ecto' is short for Glob of Ectoplasm, a top tier exotic crafting material. It's a highly demanded item that's worth a respectable amount of money.

Why is there an element of luck involved?

I just wanted to address this right away, I mentioned that there was luck involved in this method. This is because you will be using salvaging kits to get your globs of ectoplasm, you are not guaranteed to get a glob of ectoplasm every time you salvage and other times you may get lucky and get 3 from one item. Salvaging for ectos has a real 'up and down' feel to it, sometimes you'll make a loss others a gain but overall you should be making a decent profit if you can ride out the bad luck.

Because of this element of luck some people don't like salvaging for ectos and this method may not be for you either, take a moment to consider if you'd be open to taking some losses on the path to profit. if you want something a little more 'dependable' then you may want to wait for my future entries on low time commitment investments.

Getting started..

First you'll need to grab your seed money. I grabbed 5 gold to represent a quite new investor, but obviously the more money you have the more chance you have for potential profit. My first stop was
to a vendor to pick up a Master's Salvage Kit. If you're in a capital city you can pick these up from any of the master craftsmen for 15s 36c. If you have a spare Black Lion salvage kit that's event better, but for easily buyable kits this is your best bet.   

Next stop is the trading post, you need to get some things to salvage! But before you do that you need to decide how much you're willing to pay for the items you're going to salvage. On average you'll get about 1 ecto per salvage, sometime less, sometimes more. So the best way to approach this would be to check the price of globs of ectoplasm first and do a few sums. I personally hate math but it's a necessary evil in salvaging ectos. 

Look at the highest bidder price on the ectoplasm and use that as your base, you'll probably get more than that for your globs but work on that value as your baseline minimum. When I did this that value was 37s and a variable amount of copper, so erring on the side of caution I used the value of 37s. Times this amount by 0.85, this represents your listing fees and lets you know the maximum you should be paying for your salvage items. for me this was 31s 45c. 

Make note of these values and aim to work with them. I wanted a larger gap between my buy and sell price so after looking at the list of ectoplasms for sale and where the 'walls' were (large blocks of people selling for the same amount) I realised I could quite reliably sell at 39s and upwards with only a small wait. To make my window even bigger to allow for more profits and to cover potential downfalls I decided to only put in offers less than 30s on the items I planned to salvage.

What to salvage  

Globs of ectoplasm can be salvaged from level 68+ rare items, I personally prefer weapons but armour and trinkets are equally viable.

 So, a quick search with the above parameters gives a good long list of items, you just need to go through and place buy orders at or below your maximum buy price. Do not put all of your seed money into these bids, remember you'll need to keep some back to cover listing fees. Putting in buy orders with 5 gold only took me 5 minutes and then I was free to do other things while I waited for those orders to fill.

Come back later

Give it a few hours, go enjoy another aspect of the game, go enjoy that weird RL thing, or maybe if you're play time is really limited come back the next day (ecto prices will fluctuate but not so dramatically that that would be an issue). When you get back you should have a pile of rare items waiting for you. Here are the 10 items I got (plus the salvage kit).

Commence ripping them apart! Here's what I got; 8 sigils, a smattering of wood and metal and 13 ectos. This was actually a very lucky run so I decided to do a couple more batches of salvaging after this one to show the ups and downs of this method, but more on that later. The sigils are also a noteworthy point, I tend to buy items that have sigils in them (have the 'of something' suffix) as while they don't sell for a huge amount the 3 - 5 silver each helps bolster profits. (NB: I'm using current market price this may go up or down but having extra items to sell from your salvaging will always increase revenue).

At this point I cancelled all my outstanding buy orders and listed these materials on the trading post. Salvaging and listing took about 5 minutes, for a total of 10 minutes spent on this batch of salvaging.

Once everything had sold my 5 gold had become:

But as this was an extraordinarily lucky batch I did a couple more runs:

Batch 2 was 12 weapons that when salvaged yielded 9 sigils, a few bits of metal and wood and only 9 ecto. This was a less lucky run and whilst brilliant for this article so I could show you the ups and downs of salvaging ectoplasm it wasn't so good for my money on hand. I actually made a loss at this point, though the loss was only small and didn't come near to dragging me down to my 5g starting point:
Batch 3 was larger still at 13 weapons. From this lot I got 12 sigils, wood and metal and 12 ectoplasm, a lot closer to my 'one per item' I was hoping for. Overall this netted me a decent enough profit. Not huge but certainly a welcome one after the previous loss. So after 3 batches of salvaging my initial 5g had grown into:

Overall I spread this out over 2 days but spent a total of about 30mins actually at the trading post. Obviously the more money you have the bigger the profits will be (though it will take a little more time to put those buy orders in!)


Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Francis' Journal: From Nobleman to Farmhand

At first I thought it had been a nightmare, that I'd drunk too much and passed out again. Waking up on the floor is far from a new experience but the cold old wooden boards were a far cry from the plush carpets of home. The priest, Tristan, far surpasses my expectations of a devotee of Dwayna, he somehow managed to make a meager, but surprisingly flavoursome breakfast for everyone currently in his care. I must speak to father about making a donation of some sort when I'm allowed back home, it would certainly make the family look good at least.

Tristan suggested that if  I need money or a place to stay that I ask around the local farmsteads, that they're always looking for extra help. My heart sank, it struck home quite how far I've fallen, I'm just going to have to accept I'm going to have to get my hands, and my darling coat, dirty.

It all started out simple enough, feeding cows and watering plants, tiring work but not overly complicated. Then, out of nowhere bandits attack! They fired pistols at people and set fire to the hay.. I still have no idea why they set fire to the hay, how is that something that would earn them money? And I wasn't going to question them either, it was utterly terrifying. I did (literally) fall over a poor Seraph guard who'd been shot and with his help got him bandaged up enough that he could go see Tristan.

I assured myself that the excitement for the day was over as I sat and had my lunch with the farmers and was asked to go help at Eda's orchard. Apple picking seemed simple enough, at least it would keep me out of the sun and I'd already heard that Eda is lovely (if overburdened with an excess of suitors after the death of her husband)

Before I set out into the orchard I was warned about spiders. I shuddered a little as usually the staff would take care of things like that but I was confident I could handle a few tiny bugs. Tiny bugs was far removed from what I found, those spiders were the size of the Drakehound Amber had when we were little! Needless to say it was not a relaxing afternoon, though Eda's apple pie does live up to it's reputation.

Tomorrow the good people of Shaemoor have suggested that I help at the Moa ranch or with the fishing. I'm not sure which I'll do and I'm too exhausted to decide, perhaps it will be easier in the morning.