The Tattered Notebook: The value of vanity

I always knew Gnomes were evil, but a Gnomish pirate?! This was too much. As much as I wanted that new horse of a different color mount from Bristlebane Day, I could barely stand the thought of having to go toe-to-toe with the cabbage-scented Captain Gnoggin.

In a lopsided battle, I emerged victorious, and as I did my turn-in for the new Bristlebane Day quest, I was reminded that EverQuest II offers an enormous variety of unique house items and appearance clothing.

Cosmetic items might not offer any real advantage in progression, but they speak to the depth of content in the game and the quality of life that players enjoy. Being able to create an amazing home or make yourself stand out with a unique look is a real luxury for players. In this week's Tattered Notebook, we'll look back at the evolution of vanity items in game and take a look at a few easy ways that players of all levels can add a little bling to their lives.

In EQII, a remarkable relationship has evolved between players and the developers who create all this stuff. When EQII launched, house items were as basic as they come -- you could design your home with tables, beds, a few lamps, and a chair or two. If you were really lucky, you might stumble on a rare bone, and you could make a red bed instead of a grayish brown bed. And that was about it. If you wanted a fireplace, for example, you had to build it from the finite selection of candles, tables, beds, shelves, or chairs. Baths? If you were particularly creative, you could line up some blue padded stools and surround them with some Oggok stone tables. If you wanted a garden or a populated fish tank, well, forget it.

Over the years, EQII players have pined for a greater variety of stuff, and the art team eagerly obliged. There are now dozens of varieties of tables, beds, chairs, shelves, rugs, and lighting fixtures. There are also columns, fountains, flowers, decorative tiles, stained glass windows, paintings... the list goes on and on. Players can adjust the size of items now (the Halflings all rejoiced at that news!), and items can be raised, lowered, or rotated using the keyboard and mouse wheel. More recently, houses themselves have been revamped, and players now have personal outdoor space to decorate.

Appearance items have also gone through quite an evolution. The dull browns and greys of early armor is now replaced by every color and style you can imagine. Cloaks, which were added to the game a few years ago, have gone from the basic one- or two-color patterns to elaborately detailed images that look textured or woven. Casters who suffered through the years of having only two basic robe models now have much more variety in their wardrobe. And the horrid skull caps of the early days have long since been replaced by many different styles unique to each class.

There is literally a mountain of cosmetic items in EQII, so let's look at a few easy ways for players of all levels to collect some of them. While this is just a small sampling, I'm highlighting these because they are fun, they don't involve a trip to the bank (or the SOE marketplace), and they can be done by lower-level players. Incidentally, these are also great ways for a lower-level player to earn some decent coin and level up at the same time.

Live Events. We're in the middle of a hot streak for in-game events in EQII. We kicked off the year with Frostfell, sailed right into Erollisi Day, reveled in Velious launch events, toasted Brew Day, partied it up for EverQuest's anniversary, and now are joking around with Bristlebane. Each of these events offers up some unique items, and in some cases, when the event is over, the items are no longer offered. I still remember that wok-capped messenger offering me a quest during the EQII plague event years ago, and out of all the items I've gotten in game, the sparkling notebook that I received from that quest is one of my most prized possessions because of its rarity.

Every month, there are two live events that offer nice housing and appearance items. One is the City Festival, which arrives at a different town for the first week of each month. With the most recent update, SOE added the Gnomish Air races to the festival, so if you missed the event during the Velious launch, you still have a chance to get the flying vehicles. I also highly recommend doing the purple shiny collection from at least one city, because the reward is a mailbox that you can place in your home. Very handy!

The other is Moonlight Enchantments, which only occurs on the 20th and 21st of every month. I've mentioned this event in the past, but it's worth mentioning again because it's such a great way for low-level players to gain a lot of coin and AA experience very quickly. The items from the merchants and collection quests are highly prized by decorators, and because the event is so short, they sell for a lot of coin. It's easy to miss, but now thanks to the new in-game calendar, it's easier to keep track of events while you're actually logged into the game. You can access the calendar from the options list, and you can even use it to create and edit guild events.

Collections. Sometimes I think my guild's unofficial motto is "never pass up a shiny." Remember Gnoob the Gnome being lured away from his group by a shiny? We have at least 10 of those moments on any given night. But I'll grudgingly admit that collecting shinies is one of the best ways to earn coin, gain experience, and receive some interesting rewards. One of my favorites is the Beer Stained Stein, a collection from shinies that appear in Kaladim. Tuck it into your weapon appearance slot and have a blast bashing dragons with a dented metal stein!

Status items. Ever wonder what all those relics, documents, scrying stones, and amulets are for? Turn them in to a city merchant and you can purchase a variety of items. In particular, I highly recommend both the Elaborate crafting tables (for any budding tradeskillers) and my friend Citadelli's painting, The Destroyer of Ordanach, which is one of several player-made pieces of artwork that have been made available in game.

Tradeskillers. It goes without saying that a friendly tradeskiller is the best resource for cosmetic items. Sites like EQ2 Traders Corner have a terrific visual library of crafted items. Most crafters will ask only that you supply the materials and the cost of fuel, but since some items require a high tradeskill level or lots of faction work, you might be asked to contribute a small fee for crafters' hard-earned skills and services. Make sure to snag a couple of player-made notebooks, which you can write in and edit. You also might want a dimensional pocket expander if you feel you're reaching the item limit for your home.

Finally, if you're looking for decorating ideas, make sure to visit the Norrathian Homeshow. And if you're at all serious about home design, I strongly recommend that you look at the Layout Editor that's stickied there. It's a fantastic tool that helps serious decorators plan and save their custom layouts. When you're all done decorating, curl up by the fireplace with a mug of hot cocoa and a notebook and jot down your tales of adventure.

From the snow-capped mountains of New Halas to the mysterious waters of the Vasty Deep, Karen Bryan explores the lands of Norrath to share her tales of adventure. Armed with just a scimitar, a quill, and a dented iron stein, she reports on all the latest news from EverQuest II in her weekly column, The Tattered Notebook. You can send feedback or elven spirits to karen@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.