Another zone bites the dust in Everquest 2. The Thundering Steppes is finished, despite the zone playing host to a 'kill 100 skeletons' Heritage quest that caught me unawares at the end. Thundering Steppes might have been my least favorite zone just because it's the least coherent. The themes are essentially "large open field that got hit by giant falling moon pieces a couple of times" and "giants, centaurs, and gnolls fight sometimes". Once I delve into the attached instance Ruins of Varsoon then we start to get some lore again, but there is surprisingly little breadcrumbing from the main overland zone to it.
Thundering Steppes is easier to navigate at least. Nektulos Forest was annoying because the dense foliage made flying difficult, but in general I preferred it's atmosphere.
There's not too much more to comment on. Thundering Steppes is a bunch of quests that encourage grinding. The smart way to play is grab as many quests as you can and try to sync them up so that you are constantly always killing what's in front of you without having to double back too much. When it works it feels great. When it doesn't it feels a bit like spinning your wheels. It's still a very old school zone that I don't think was ever updated in any meaningful way. It has it's place, but I think I'm glad to be done with it now and moving onto other sights.
Notably I'll be taking on the dungeons and instances featured in this zone: The Cove of Decay and the before mentioned Ruins of Varsoon. I enjoy the dungeons maybe a little bit less than the over world zones just because they tend to be mazes and I have little to no sense of direction. Nektropos Castle almost had me bringing out the graphing paper. The only reasons I didn't is because I literally couldn't find it. I have notebook of the stuff around here somewhere but who knows where I squirreled it away to during one of our moves. I don't think I've used it since replaying through some of the Ultima games a couple of years past.
Anyhow, the dungeons are also important to get through because most of the Heritage quests require runs through them as well. Heritage Quests involve equipment and items that were notable from the original Everquest. I don't do every single quest in the game, I don't hate myself that much. There are a lot of quests the rely on either low percentage drops or farming enemies that have placeholders. A placeholder is when another type of mob spawns instead of the actual useful mob, and you need to kill the placeholders and hope to spawn the useful mob. There are quests the require killing mobs for a lower percentage chance to drop an item to start a quest, that then require killing placeholders to spawn mobs that drop a quest item, and when you do kill the primary mob, may have low percentage chance of dropping the quest item you need. It's layers upon layers of RNG stacked on one another and I'd rather blow my brains out than deal with it.
But Heritage quests, and all the grinding and mucking about in dungeons they require, do feel important. They are a nice bridge between the two Everquests, and usually help spotlight some of the changes brought by the Shattering that separates the two timelines. Even if the gear you get from them isn't useful in the modern game, most can be converted to a furniture item and placed in your house. My Dark Elf is apparently quite the hoarder of old school items now, which feels nice from a role playing perspective.
I had some unexpected company today. Yesterday evening, I urged Mrs. Everwake and Everdog to do a snow-day dance. I don't know if dogs really have a concept of dancing or music, but Everdog certainly does not posses anything that could be described as rhythm. So the two settled for spinning in circles. The circle method proved to be plenty effective as witchcraft. When the wind chill is -48F (-44C), and the snow is being blown around at 30 MPH, even Minnesotans take the day off. With the local highway closed by the state, the wife's work place was closed.
I'd be a little more excited myself, except I work freelance and from home. The hallways between my bedroom and computer room were unencumbered by snow. Alas I must still work. And work has been a problem. I normally do technical editing, either cleaning up technical documents like academic papers for publication or translating them into something normal people can understand. This project is the latter, but requires a lot of graphic design work that I simply don't know how to do. Combine that with a client that isn't 100% sure of what they want in the first place and it's slow going. At least I had the good sense to charge by the hour on this one.
My complaints about the tedium of running on my treadmill aside, I did just knock out a workout. I use an app called Couch to 5k, which slowly ramps you up to running 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) over the course of 10 weeks. I've used it before with success so I'll use it again. Mrs. Everwake is also running with me and has picked out a 5k run for us to do together in about 10 weeks time. We actually did this run last year, and I did fairly well. I don't remember my time or what place I got but it was well within the upper half of people. I did get passed by a guy running in jean shorts and a hockey jersey, but that's just Minnesota.