Den of Smug

13 05 2010
Nice map of Smuggler's Den from AO Stratics via Internet Archive

Nice map of Smuggler's Den from AO Stratics via Internet Archive

Baba was just starting to set into motion the process of standing up his aging Atrox body, taking care to not move too quickly until the usual stiffness wore off, when a new org mate sent him a tell inviting him to Smuggler’s Den.  As Baba rubbed his back over one of his pre reclaim terminal and surgery clinic injuries, he watched a tell scroll by from Solarmitri, a Level 136 Solitus Male Doctor who was an applicant to Angels of the Night.  This was a hopeful sign as many of AOTN’s longtime regulars have left recently so new blood was very welcome.

Baba has been getting the inspect crates mission at Smuggler’s Den from the Daily Mission office, and so far had not gotten very far each time.  He had never in fact made it very far into the dungeon on previous solo attempts.  Most of the time the place is deserted, at least before the Daily Missions were introduced.

Baba has been to enough dungeons on Rubi-Ka to be familiar with the overall drill, at least for first time FROOB players.  You first go to a new dungeon at the low end of the intended level range and get sent back to reclaim allot as one learns the layout of the dungeon and how it works.  Smuggler’s Den is one of the oldest dungeons and has several broken design flaws.  The worst is how all the mobs, even those gray to you, will aggro and attack you.  This leads to the second flaw, trains.  As the dungeon has no level lock, high level players often come in to help out an alt or twink project, and then run out when done.  This can train high level mobs from the deepest part of the dungeon out passages close to the entrance.

Eventually, one levels up a bit and gets to know the ins and outs of the dungeon, and the process evolves past simple survival to more tangible objectives like hunting specific mobs or experience and loot, or to complete a mission or quest.

Baba had at least recently done his net research on the place.  He found good information in the following spots:

Zyvania Bagh, an NPC in Newland will warp you to Omni Forrest

Zyvania Bagh, an NPC in Newland will warp you to Omni Forrest

AO Stratics is no more, but the Internet Archive still keeps a few of its pages, with some images missing however.  One nugget Baba found there is that another short cut to the den.  It says that any one who can get a 150 or greater Adventurer to cast Parrot Form on them, and then enter a door at 720 x 704 in Borealis will be transported immediately to the center of the Smuggler area main hall.  AO Universe mentions another short cut which is to speak to Zyvania Bagh in Newland City, an NPC who will warp you to just outside the Steps of Madness dungeon in Omni Forrest, the zone next to Southern Foul Plains where Smuggler’s Den is.

After taking the Newland City shortcut, Baba then flew the short flight across a zone to reach the Smugglers Den entrance where he met up with Solarmitri.  Baba had a bit of trouble with his team chat window and had to take a minute or two fixing it before they could finish up buffing and enter the cave.  While Baba was resetting his team chat window,  Glorytime, a 145 Omni Fixer flew up and asked to join in.  This was definitely a welcome addition, so Glorytime was quickly added to the team.

The first few halls were mostly very gray mantices, that gave no experience and were mainly just an annoyance.  When the reached the large open area with a small stream running through it, no one on the team knew which direction to go in, since none of them had been there before.  Because this dungeon consists of irregularly shaped caves and passageways,  it was pretty hard to keep ones bearings.  The team eventually settled on a strategy to just keep heading north, at least in relation to the usual maps of the place.
They eventually found themselves in a whitish set of caves with a number of fairly high level Mantices that had either orange or reddish health bars.  These were rather easy for the group to put away, even when attacked by several at a time.

After clearing out that whole section, the team wandered southwestern-ish and eventually came to the entrance to the Smugglers area.  The entrance had been cleared recently by another team, so the first mob Baba’s team came across in this area was a large gun turret in a small side room.  These went down fairly quickly.

They eventually progressed to a hall with clawfingers and smugglers in it.  Things got a bit hectic as a handful of smugglers were very close to the door when the team entered.  It was the first time Baba really needed to spam his Mongo as these mobs were red and hit very hard.  The team methodically fought its way down the length of this long hall and had quite a battle with some high level smugglers at the end of the hall.  Baba was really amazed at how well Solarmitri was able to keep all of the team close to full health most of the time.  He was also glad to have Partial Grid Jump buff from Glorytime. Glorytime was doing high damage consistently.

Baba tried to do his best tanking, but he was a bit rusty, having spent that last 20 levels or so mostly kiting Borgs and running missions solo.  It all came back pretty fast, but he really needs to work on his pulling skills which have been neglected for a while.  While the Mantices has been easy, the Smuggler area was very intense and the team for the most part rolled over everything they met.

A dangerous bridge, where Baba's team was wiped.

A dangerous bridge, where Baba's team was wiped.

The team then took a side door and went up some stairs where there were 4 gun emplacements all together in a corner.  The team dealt with them and several bots in the adjoining hall way.  After the bots, there was a door, and on the other side of the door was an elevated walkway, with similar walkways a few feet away on either side, all crawling with Smugglers.  Baba ventured out on the middle of the walkway and engaged a smuggler, which was soon joined by several more that came through the opposite door. The rest of the team followed out onto the walkway as well.

These Smugglers did not seem to be any higher than the last few, but the whole team was losing health much faster than before.  As soon as one smuggler dropped, another would come running through the door on the other side, and take its place.

Turret which appears to be next to the same bridge.

Turret which appears to be next to the same bridge.

The whole team got wiped.  While rezzing the team discussed what went wrong.  Perhaps they should have stayed behind the first door, and pulled smugglers to them there.  It was getting late and although Solarmitri was game to go back, Baba and Glorytime had run out of time for the night and needed to log off.

Later Baba reviewed what happened and noticed that according to several pictures from the AO Universe guide that the bridge/walkway where they got wiped, looked to have large gun turrets pointed at it from the end of the hallway that the bridge covered.  He will be sure to inspect that area carefully next time around.

Baba added a few items to his personal to-do list:

  • find and update all of his taunting tools
  • practice pulling
  • find and equip some hacked boosted grafts (a root and an AC  buff)
  • redo his hot-bar to put back his taunts.

Warped again in Pleasant Meadows

17 06 2009

Warped again in Pleasant Meadows, sounds like the title for a Hunter S. Thompson bio-pic, but it is only the title of this latest episode concerning Babaente scouting for kiting spots.  There is warping, and it does occur in Pleasant Meadows, but the story starts somewhere else.

Babaente and Tireen spent about an hour or so in Newland City sorting out the last batch of loot from their last run of team missions that completed their 250 token quests.  Besides sorting out things to squirrel away in their banks, Tireen also took the time to tradeskill the bag of monster parts they had collected in this last run by using her Biocommunicator Device on each one.  Once converted to Plasma, each one yielded 7-8 thousand credits from the Newland Trader’s shop terminal.

Crossroads in Pleasan Meadows, click for larger view

Crossroads in Pleasan Meadows, click for larger view

With this chore out of the way, Babaente set off alone to scout out their next kiting spot.  First she went to where they had left off, the small camp just north west of the 20k outpost in Pleasant Meadows.  There are always 10 or so level 60 Eye Mutants milling about there.  Babaente wanted to do a few practice kites here before moving on to finding something more challenging and rewarding.  While these 60 level mobs gave great experience when she and Tireen were in their 40 to 60 range, now that they are both over 70, the experience per mob is less than a standard team mission mob of about 2k per mob.

This was OK with Babaente for tonight as she just wanted to get comfortable with kiting and the  whole kiting tool set.  After running 30 or so missions straight she and Tireen had the moves for that down pat, and it was now time to relearn kiting in the open.

The first thing to attend to was her screen layout.  When kiting, what works really well is to zoom out rather far in the 3rd person view, and look straight down on the scene  This allows one to see where they are going and keep track of the kite of mobs being lead.  It helps to drag much of the usual mission HUD panels away to the edges of the screen or close them entirely.  HUD things like the chat windows, any open backpack windows, etc.  are just potentially leathal distractions when kiting.  This is because NT’s usually kite mobs that are much higher than they are.

These mobs are so much higher in level that it would be suicide for your average NT to try and fight just one toe to toe without kiting.  Kiting is not something you want to do if the weather outside is stormy, and your connection is bad, and your getting any significant lag while outdoors far from large numbers of other players.  Lag can cause you screen to display the mobs in the kite as being where they are not, with deadly results if you collide with where they actually are.  Generally at the first hint of serious lag Babaente usually calls it a day for kiting and starts looking for something else to do.

The next area she concentrated on had to do with getting back into the usual flow of a typical kite.  This involved getting buffed up properly for the job.  To kite an NT needs runspeed first.  For low level NT’s, NTs that is who have yet to be able to cast thier Area of Effect nukes instantly, (or “insta-cast’ as the hip players call it) have to be able to run fast enough to get far enough ahead of the mobs such that they have time to stop, cast their AOE nuke, and resume running before any mob in the kite gets close enough to harm them.  Nanomage NT’s tend to be some of the squishy-est players on the planet, so getting hit by mobs higher than them is not advisable.

For NT’s in Babaente’s level, even if they have always maxed runspeed with IP points, this is usually not enough to outrun higher level mobs.  Some sort of buff is needed.  If you are lucky and social, a Grid Space Freedom from a Fixer,  is just the ticket.   Babaente instead uses a combination of +40 runspeed from her Subway Boots of Infinite Speed, and +100 run speed  from a Hacked Boosted Graft Playful Cub.  She has found that this boost of 140 runspeed is enough to let her comfortably kite mobs 10 to 20 levels higher than herself.   She has tried kiting with Grid Space Freedom, but feels she would need to get it regularly to become proficient with it, because the speed increase is really so much that she has to concentrate on stopping often enough for the kite to keep up.

The first step is the scouting phase:  The NT circles a group of mobs from a distance, sizing them up and determining which ones look the strongest, while also looking for any potential pathing problems that might prevent the mobs from joining the chase.  In this case, the camp is enclosed in a wire fence and is jam packed with a number of small huts and buildings.  While it is easy to aggro almost all of the mobs with a single cast, many often do not end up in the kite because they get stuck behind a building or the fence.  In this situation, sometimes if the mobs are on the side of the camp furthest from the entrance, Babaente may have to enter rather far into the camp in order to get and keep aggro while leading the kite out of the camp and onto the open space nearby.

Bad Lesser Woodwolf, that will teach you to horn in on my kite!

Bad Lesser Woodwolf, that will teach you to horn in on my kite! Click for larger view.

The next phase of a kite takes place after the intial pull.  The NT generally tries  to lead the kite to a wide open area where they can lead the kite in gradually smaller circles.  Once out of the camp, a fairly well zoomed out view is needed to see what is going on and to a keep a safe distance from any high level wild mobs that may wander into the area.  Babaente has lost many a kite due to having a much higher level mob join in the chase. Since the mob is much higher than the rest of the kite, the origninal kite mobs die long before it does, such that by the time Babaente can wear down the high level mob, the other corpses have vanished.

The last phase starts when the targeted mob  hits 50% health.  Now is a good time to tab through the other mobs in the kite to see if any one in particular has more health left than the others. If one does, tab back to it and keep it targeted.  Now the mobs will start showing the effects of their reduced health, and start gradually slowing down.  Some may slow down before others, and when this happens, it is time to start spiraling the kite in to smaller circles so that the slow ones do not get left behind.  The NT ends up leading the kite around in a tight circle focused on the slowest ones.  Depending on how well executed the whole process is, the mobs will start dying at about the same time.   NT’s like to pride themselves when they get them all to drop simultaneously, but that’s more of a style issue.

The kite is then over, and all that is left to do is to heal up from any damage sustained, and collect loot from the corpses before they vanish (hard core, old school players call it ‘rot’).

Crash at Omni Outpost.  Keep your distance from the Generalissimo! Click for larger version.

Crash at Omni Outpost. Keep your distance from Major Woon! Click for larger version.

After several more kites she felt pretty comfortable with the routine again and was ready to try it on higher level quarry.  It had been a while since she had looked around Pleasant Meadows, so she took a quick tour of the region.  After she had checked out the northern half, she was checking out an Omni outpost in the southeast part of the region.  She paused to take some screen shots and was on the east side of the base fairly low to the ground, but a safe distance away when she decided to leave and head west again.  She thought let’s show that Omni Major Woon with the super long health bar what she thought of Omni as a whole,  and putting her Yalmaha at full speed buzzed past the general just a few inches over his head.

As she proceeded west and the base shrank from view, she noticed that the vicinity log showed that  Major Woon had indeed noticed her, and had tried to hit her and missed, twice!  Babaente was chuckling to herself until she suddenly found herself seeing the total white out that always precedes coming to at reclaim.

We are really not sure what happened. But we think the general warped her back and shot her faster than her poor ancient cpu and monitor could keep up with it. Checking the logs a while later it shows this:

-Attacked by Major Woon!
-Major Woon tried to hit you, but missed!
-Major Woon tried to hit you, but missed!
-Attacked by Major Woon!
-Your reflect shield hit Major Woon for 5 points of damage.
-Your damage shield hit Major Woon for 5 points of damage.
-Major Woon hit you for 7390 points of melee damage.Critical hit!
-Nanoprogram CrunchCom Code Sieve terminated...

So she buzzed Major Woon, got about a half mile away, and then the above appears in her log and she finds herself in reclaim.   Whatever transpired, be forwarned, lowbies, keep your distance from Major Woon.  We are subscribing to the theory that Major Woon warped her back to where he was and sent her back to reclaim with one fell swoop, either that or he as very fast reflexes and managed to hit her as she flased by in her Yalmaha at top speed.

This is not the first time she  have been warped but every time it is just as surprising and just as helpless a feeling as she ha sencountered in this world.  A swamp hag near Bio-Domes did this to us once, except she did not hit as fast or as hard, so Babaente could get away briefly, only to be re-warped back, until she got tired of that, and the hag finished the job.  Then there were several different mission Bosses, that when Babaente’s  team tried to retire to the previous level to heal up a bit after putting away the Bosses minions, would have none of that and demanded their continuous presence until it or they  alone were left standing.

So Babaente headed straight out from reclaim back to Pleasant Meadows to the spot she should have gone to strait away after leaving 20K.  It is often referred to as “Claw Camp” in south west Pleasant Meadows.  It is a camp much like the previous Eye Mutant camp except these mobs are around level 80-90.  Babaente had tried this spot back when she was in her 50s and was not fast enough and her nukes were also too weak to make it practical then.  She was about to set down and get buffed up at the small hill just west of the camp when she noticed a level 138 fixer sitting there, perhaps allocating out IP points after some kite leveling there.  It was getting close to our time to log off so Babaente decided to set down nearby and log back on here the next day.

Biodomes not safe for tourists

4 12 2008
The end of a small kite.

The end of a small kite.

One of the things Baba and all his alts really love about Rubi-Ka, is having the freedom to just take some time off and go sight seeing when ever the mood strikes.  Tireen felt a twinge of this the other night, and rather than tag along with Babaente for some more kite leveling, she decided to tour Belial Forest by Yalm.  She had passed by the Biodomes many times going to missions, dropped down near the most north westerly one for a closer look.  While the building was impressive, the only mob around was a guide or guard of some sort and it was not particularly interesting to look at.  Tireen was about to leave, when she spotted a small camp of little huts nearby, and flew over to investigate.  Hovering at ground level she attracted several swamp denizens called bile drinkers.  She successfully trained them off to several islands a distance away, and then returned.  She was admiring one of the huts up close when, she got an alarming “Resurrected Swamp Witch” attack notices in her system log.  Since she was not really looking for a fight, she blasted up and away in her yalm, and headed for the closest zone to return to civilization.  She got about half way there when she was teleported instantly back to a spot in the camp right in front of the swamp witch.  This was repeated several times until she realized it was not going to end, that the witch could and would warp her back infinitely.  While Tireen had done a save before heading out to explore, she resigned herself to another rez session and stopped trying to escape.  The witch and the by now returned bile drinkers make quick work of her, so she did not have to wait long.

TIP:  Unless you are level 200 or above, or have friends along who are, don’t go sightseeing at ground level near the biodomes, unless you want to get sent to reclaim.  Give these spots a wide berth.

Babaente went out kiting again this Monday evening.  The current site has a huge supply of mobs, however they have a very slow respawn rate, and it looked like someone had been there ahead of her as about half of the usual supply of mobs was gone.  The mobs that were left, while plentiful, also has a few much higher level mobs mixed in, and the groups tended to be tightly packed.  The first kite went well.  The second kite, pulled 20 or more mobs.  Babaente has found at this site that if she pulls more than 10 or so mobs, things do not work out.  It appears like lag, possibly because of the large number of mobs involved, but invariably, if there are more than 10 mobs in the kite, she will suddenly get hit by almost all of them even though she is far ahead of them and gets sent instantly back to reclaim.  By taking greater time in selecting her kite targets, she was able to resume and successfully run kites of 6 to 8 mobs with ease.

The other factor that she has to look out for here is to avoid pulling any of the much higher mobs sprinkled about here.  They are about 20 levels higher than the rest of the mobs, and just a couple of hits from one can send her back to reclaim.  They are the same type of mob, so the only way to identify them is to inspect each one prior to starting to pull.

Lag also seemed to be a borderline factor that evening.  Most of the time, frame rates were fine, and there did not appear to be any lag, but several times, things slowed way down, and the kite would rubber band several times.

Her mini map would show the kite right behind her, but then she would notice that she no longer had anything targeted, and suddenly the kite appeared on her mini map to be quite a large distance away.  Sometimes she had to run back and re-gain aggro, and others, she just stopped and waited a bit for the kite to catch up.  While it’s nice to start having a surplus of run speed, it is aggravating when the minimap can’t display an accurate picture of what is going on.  Her current run speed is 322, and she buffs that with Terrain Knowledge and Playful Cub to 462.  She had been wondering what it would be like to kite with a Gridspace Freedom’s +720 run speed buff, so perhaps she will try to beg for it in Borealis at least once just for the fun of it.

What puzzles her is that the type of lag you get when visiting infamous lag pits like Borealis or Old Athens or Newland City, should not be present when one practically has a playfield to oneself, which was the case this past evening.  A /list command showed no other players present on this playfield.

Progress was slow and haphazard.  She lost a quarter of a level to one of the bad pulls that netted 20+ mobs and resulted in getting sent back to reclaim. Due to the poor conditions, she had to break and return to Newland every time she moved the level progress bar past one of the quarter points.

Of course we have  no idea how much of our performance problem is due to bandwidth, and how much is due to our ancient computer.  When we see AO videos on Youtube, of people getting butter smooth action at huge resolutions, we have to wonder.  We are in the market for a new computer again, this time for certain, as our current laptop is starting to get rather noisy.  We have our eye on a certain model and was looking at it in the big box store this past weekend.  The salesperson told us it was slated to go on sale soon, so hopefully we will be playing a much higher resolution soon.

Eyemutants Camp, click for larger view

Eyemutants Camp, click for larger view

The next day, having the day off, Babaente and Tireen, changed venues.  The spot they had been working was proving just too problematic.  Like Rosanna Rosanna Dana used to say, “if its not one thing, its another!”  Again we can’t reveal the location just yet, suffice to say, this spot features eye mutants.  Spending the better part of an afternoon there, they racked up about 1 and a half levels easy.  Babaente is closing in on upping her multi ranged in order to equip a higher quality pair of Electrocutiums.  In the 60s, she seems to be at a step that is taking some time to get past.  Most of her next nano upgrades are still 4 or more levels worth of IP away.  Tireen was able to up her pharmaceutical skill enough to be able to start making plasma from the monster parts these mobs drop prodigiously, netting them both a tidy sum at the trader’s terminal in Omni Trade.


13 11 2008
Spotted hovering over Omni HQ

Spotted hovering over Omni HQ

Babaente and Tireen have been steadily slogging their way through team missions for that last week or so.  Babaente has locked her experience for now at 60, in case she needs to escort Tireen at the Temple of the Three Winds, which Tireen plans to visit after she dings 60.  While they both have been there before, Tireen needs to be able to get to Lien for dark memories mainly.  She also still lusts after an Exarch robe.  Babaente has hers along with a Notum splice which she has yet to have utilized beyond equipping it.

When they started running this string of missions, there was a pretty good sized gap between the two team mates, with Tireen in the low 50s and Babaente in the high 50s.  With Tireen rolling the missions, the mobs were pretty easy for Babaente at first, but now that they are both about the same, the boss mobs are getting to be pretty hard to handle.  Time to dial back the difficulty level a bit when rolling.

For a week or so now they have been diligently using mission buddy to choose only missions with rewards they could use or sell. Beyond the rare and not likely to be seen loot, they have been mostly going for boosted grafts which can then be hacked to remove the profession requirements.  For them the most sought after are the Hasty Augmentation Cloud, a damage booster, Lesser Protective Field, an AC booster, and Blood Circle, a heal and health delta booster.

Bank mules line up, with names like Armorbank, Buffsbank, etc.

Bank mules line up, with names like Armorbank, Buffsbank, etc., seen at ICC whompas.

After about 15 or so missions, they had collected one or more of what they were seeking and could reasonably expect to find.  With this in mind Tuesday evening they thought they would cut out the time required to roll and select missions, and just take the first missions that came up which they could reach.

They figured that if this could buy them time to even run one or more missions per night it would increase their odds of finding something phat while getting to their over all goal of filling out their token boards as fast as possible.

Well, it did not quite work out that way.  The bosses in all three missions were way over anything they have faced before.  The first one, a ninja type, surprised them by warping them back to him, if they tried to exit the boss level to heal.  This resulted in Tireen getting sent back to reclaim.  Babaente finished off the boss, and then waited for Tireen to return to apply the fixit item to complete the mission.

Tireen with Flag of Sacrifice award

Tireen with Flag of Sacrifice award

The next boss was a super engineer that had some kind of aura that made it almost immune to Tireen and Babaente’s damage.  Babaente tried to exit to heal, but got warped back again, with the result being sent back to reclaim.  Tireen was able to finish off the Boss and she went ahead and picked up the ‘find it’ item.  This was a mistake, as it caused Babaente to miss out on tokens for that mission. Apparently if you are not in the mission when it is completed, you get no tokens.

The last boss was also very hard.  This one also seemed to have an aura that stopped most of Tireen’s energy damage.  Babaente’s poison nuke worked, but the only way she would survive was to kite the boss by running around the walls of the end room.

At the end of the evening, Tireen exactly 120 tokens, so she quickly upgraded her token board resulting in her total health topping out at 1440 now, compared to lvl 60 Babaente at 1k now.  Tireen was also able move from a ql81 Vektor to a 96.  Her stats are starting to get high enough to start replacing her maxed out ql 47 living Cyber Armor with a grab bag of hand me downs and looted armor including a Miy’s nano helmet.