I am now committed to a complete overhaul of the EverQuest 3e supplements. I love EverQuest for myriad reasons, but I really dug the setting when I was younger. I might also have the full series of books, modules included. I might have an unnatural attachment due to my time with the video game. What can I say? To start things off, I wanted to talk about a huge part of the video game the supplements were based on – epic weapons.
One of the coolest parts of EverQuest was the epic weapon quest for each class. Each class had an involved quest line that rewarded them with a powerful weapon meant to last them a long time. In some cases, it might never go away completely. Even as the game progressed, this stayed mandatory for a lot of classes. Not to mention their importance when they started putting in upgraded versions of the epics with further questing. The identity of the classes were, in large part, defined by these epic weapon quest lines. The stories were pretty neat, as far as these things go, and the repeatability of some of the quests was tremendous. You could stop the rogue line at different points for different rewards, depending on how you wanted the story to play out. Even as the impact of the rogue epic waned, other classes, such as enchanter, cleric, and shaman, needed to make sure they always had their epic on them. In short – they were a big deal.
One of my biggest goals with converting EQ3e to EQ5e would be to find a way to incorporate each class having such an iconic item in their possession. I had considered making the weapons how you differentiate the archetypes, but that’s not really what the game did, and it doesn’t fit well. Part of the issue is, of course, fitting in something that began at 46-50, and was meant to extend into higher levels of play, and came out when Ruins of Kunark was released in 2000. Which meant, at the time, the weapons would last you at least 10 levels from when you could pick up the quest, and was really intended to tide you over through the end of the expansion, Veeshan’s Peak awesomness not withstanding.
Now, in EQ3e, the items were basically end game items. They had +5/+7, crazy passives, 10/day actives, and all sorts of powerful junk. I get it, they are epic items. However, this is a game that was written with Velious and Luclin already existing. In a narrative sense, it is neat this was supposed to be an end-game, coveted item, but it also contradicts the established power curve to some degree. The progression in the video game was very much in tune with traditional adventuring. You fought dragons, and then it was expanded to minor planar travel, fighting gods that weren’t really gods any more. In the first expansion, you fought ancient evils left behind by a former empire, and kept down a dragon uprising. In the second expansion, you explored a forgotten continent where the creators of the world now sleep. In the third, you went to the moon and explored the neo-ancient empires in their current glory. In the fourth, you were full on planar adventuring, deposing unworthy gods and attempting to correct the timeline. This progression is pretty much in tune with what classic D&D campaigns look like (yes, stereotypical generalizations, etc.). It stands to note that you got your epic weapons at the second progression level, and it’s impact was felt from that point forward.
While I certainly wouldn’t want to force anyone into putting epic weapons in a campaign they run, they should be tuned so they can make an impact mid-game, and either remain so for the rest of the campaign, or fall off later but still be important in some way. Tying this directly to player level is certainly possible, with some manner of gating to properly attune it, or scaling off of proficiency might be fine, but I might expect more granularity. Trying to bake in the epic upgrade system as part of this isn’t out of the question, and should probably be considered. Of course, this still mostly means classes will want additional weapons, based on the nature of the game, so it’s not really a limitation in any meaningful way.
I don’t have a solution for everything yet, but it’s something in the forefront of my mind, as it’s such a huge part of gameplay. This design will inform every other piece, which is perfectly fine by me.