Yes, I've returned to playing my ratonga after a week of cheating on him with a shiny new shadowknight, and I've finally managed to move his furry little butt away from the abusive stylings of Freeport to a comfy little four-room rat hole off the side streets of South Qeynos.
Turn the page for more on his journey and thumb through his gallery below.
EQII's betrayal quest series has always sounded like a really neat idea, and though I never partook of it during my first fling with the game, it was always in the back of my mind (even while playing other titles). At the end of the day, it's nothing more or less than a faction grind, but for some reason it's appealing on a number of levels, particularly with a sympathetic character like my ratonga in the driver's seat.
First off, there's the cool factor of playing an "evil" race in a "good" city (or vice versa if you're so inclined). While there may be thousands of rat wizards running around Qeynos, I've yet to see one, so it makes for a happy gamer in terms of style and individuality. That said, if I had to do it again, I'd probably choose a class that actually changes with my alignment. Wizards are permissible regardless of faction, whereas something like an evil iksar inquisitor would morph into an oddball iksar templar.
Secondly, there is a substantial sense of adventure, maybe even danger, depending on the faction-grinding quests you choose to complete. I spent the better part of the last week ducking in and out of Freeport, avoiding the guards (who, rather than kicking me in the stomach like they did when I was a citizen, would now actually kill me on sight given my exile status), and generally having a ball while feeling immersed in my poor rat's quasi-heroic quest for acceptance, home, and cheese (not necessarily in that order). As silly as it may sound, it was something of an emotional high when I saw the gates of Qeynos for the first time after grinding out all that faction, and even the mundane garbage-collection tasks assigned by an unsympathetic city representative were quite enjoyable.
It all started in the dank, dark trappings of a Freeport back alley, as my ratonga happened upon a disaffected member of the Freeport militia named Henk Rimebreaker. This beefy barbarian merc set me on the path to freedom via a series of tasks designed to do two things: put me in contact with other members of the Freeportian Resistance and advance their agenda. I performed a number of jobs including the planting of surveillance devices (quirky little pieces of gnomish tech called Listenomitrons), eavesdropping on the city watch and disrupting their shift changes, and even destroying one of their weapons caches.
It was this last adventure that really got my rat in hot water, as he was ultimately captured and sentenced to die the horrible death of a revolutionary (or terrorist, when you get right down to it) before evading his captors and making his way to the barren refuge of Haven. Situated deep underground, Haven is a small town peopled by other ex-patriots and featuring just about all the amenities you'll find in the larger cities. There was a notable shortage of cheese, however, and it was quite difficult to see the sky under all that brown rock, so my ratonga elected to press onward toward Qeynos rather than live out the remainder of his days in exile.
After making his way to the Commonlands (and casting a wistful glance up at the towering walls of his former city), my homeless rat began the real business of betraying, namely, earning enough Qeynos faction to avoid being executed on sight by Queen Antonia Bayle's city watch. The process was a long one, but thankfully it featured many options, all of them available via another friendly barbarian. This particular revolutionary, calling himself Gil McMartin, was sequestered in a ruined tower outside Freeport's walls and was only too willing to assist my ratonga in performing a number of anti-Freeport tasks designed to demonstrate loyalty to my new queen. I did everything from defacing road signs (which, judging by the number of squeaks per second, really seemed to delight my ratonga), to sabotaging shipments of food stuffs, to a few decidedly harrowing assassination missions against various gnollish targets in and around Antonica.
After many days of mission-running, I finished up my duties with McMartin by attempting to extract several other Freeport defectors. These missions were quite scary for my little rat, as he was required to journey back inside the city, dodge roving squads of guards, and penetrate a militia bunker while attempting to escape with the defectors in tow. None of the missions was particularly successful, as McMartin's intelligence was always faulty and the defectors invariably ended up being Freeport agents determined to ferret out dissenters such as my ratonga. In the end though, I was able to earn McMartin's trust through sheer determination (and the fact that it was a repeatable quest with a whopping 5000-point faction reward), and he sent me on my way to my first proper Qeynos contact.
Inside the walls of my new city, the journey got markedly less dangerous (and interesting), as the hard part was essentially over. Sure there was one more assassination mission that sent my rat back to Freeport, but he was able to dispatch Grand Inquisitor Te'Lex with relative ease, despite the fact that the testy cuss kept reanimating himself after each beat-down. Once his final demise was assured, my new citizenship was as well, and the story ends happily with my immigrant rat riding high atop piles of Qeynos cheese in his palatial (well, OK, four-room) new rat hole.
Ultimately, as I said earlier, EQII's betrayal quest is a faction grind. However, it's a really well-designed and expertly written faction grind, particularly if you've got any sort of imagination or inclination towards immersion and roleplay. The basic story is laid out for you, but there is plenty of room to attack the quest series at your own pace. There are also many different missions and locales in which to raise your faction, not to mention various betrayal quests in Norrath's numerous cities. I plan on doing the series again with a group of like-minded friends on an alt character, as it's a prime example of the care and detail that has gone into the making of EverQuest II. More importantly, it's just plain fun.
Jef Reahard may be an eternal EverQuest II newb, but he writes a weekly column about the game anyway, through the eyes of a Ratonga Wizard (or any one of 3,720 other alts). If it has to do with the huge and ever-expanding world of EQII, it's been jotted down in The Tattered Notebook. Send Ratonga fan mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.