The Tattered Notebook: How Legends of Norrath influenced EverQuest II

The Tattered Notebook  How Legends of Norrath influenced EQII
Earlier this week, we reported on a change in the Legends of Norrath. Gold members have received free LoN packs each month, and they would stack up so that even if you didn't log in during a certain month, you'd still receive the pack. Going forward, you have to log in each month or you won't get the pack for that month. It might seem like a small change, but there are a surprising number of players who participate not necessarily for the game cards but for a chance at one of the rarer loot cards.

Over the years, Legends of Norrath has actually had several loot cards that created some controversy, and one could argue that LoN helped ease EverQuest II's transition to the Marketplace and even to free-to-play. Let's look at some of the more notable loot cards in this week's Tattered Notebook.

Carpets and Wargs: The Oathbound set

The first LoN set arrived in 2007, a year before the Marketplace and Station Cash launched. Among the loot cards available were Maj Dul Carpets and Warg mounts. These mounts were top speed, but they also came with stats that increased combat abilities. Even though the stats weren't game-changing, the mounts introduced the notion that you could skip the questing that was required to get these mounts in game and that it was OK to get stat items outside of the game. That's not insignificant if you consider that the Marketplace launched a year later and the first sparklepony mount wasn't for sale until 2010.

A box of utterly classless hats: Ethernauts

This card created a bit of a controversy because it allowed players to select one of the class hats that resembled the ones from the Kingdom of Sky questline. At the time, that questline was very difficult, and finishing it was a character-defining moment. Even more importantly, it set you apart from the other classes. Sure, that Monk wok hat might draw some funny looks, but it's what made a Monk a Monk, just as that helmet with huge wings made a Paladin a Paladin. The box of classless hats meant that players didn't have to do the quest in order to get a class hat, but the real controversy was that players could wear any of the hats. While that might not have been popular with some, the idea has spread to gear in general, and it's not unusual these days to see casters in plate or tanks in robes.

A Mysterious Key: Travelers

This loot card opened up a big can of worms because it provided an exclusive instance to the player and a group of his friends. Once inside, the player would get a quest, and after completing the instance, he would select from loot that was on par with X2 raid gear. This was the first time that content was put on a rare loot card, and it didn't sit well with subscribers who felt their monthly payment should mean they have access to the entire game's content and not be forced to pay extra for a chance at accessing the instance. What's nice is that EQII did not follow that path when going free-to-play. While some games charge you to unlock certain tiers of content, EQII provides all content free up to Velious and is moving to free game updates down the road.

The Tattered Notebook  How Legends of Norrath influenced EQII
Legends 5 bedroom home: Ethernauts

Housing options have changed dramatically since this loot card came out. At that time, there were basically two differences in your choice of house: the number of rooms and the type of material used to build it (Qeynos was wood; Freeport was stone). On top of that, there was rent to pay, and you probably found yourself suddenly locked out of your own home just as I did. The LoN home was great not only because it was a rent-free home but because you got to enter your home from the South Qeynos mage tower.

It's amazing to see how far housing has come today. The leaderboard has helped shine a light on the really talented decorating community, and prestige housing offers some incredible homes and environments on which to build and decorate.

Gnom-o-matic Equipment Unattuner: Dragonbrood, The Anarchs

The attunement system in EQII always creates a difficult situation because once you equip something, you can't ever trade or swap it to another character. The LoN unattuner card changes all of that and gives the player the chance to unattune three pieces of gear. For those who have hard-won raid gear, it's great to be able to take that gear off and put it on alt on the same account, and for that reason, it's become one of the most valuable cards of any set.

Snow bunny Hat: Storm Break

I had to include this one because it's probably the most overdue item in EverQuest history, and it's just too cool. I remember the moral dilemma I faced out in Velious as I debated whether to fire an arrow at the cute snow bunnies in Eastern Wastes. And back then, players pined for snow bunny hats, arguing that if we could wear bearskins on our heads, we should be able to wear a bunny too. So the day we finally could in EQII, it was cause for celebration.

Community models for cards: Forsworn

One of the coolest things I've seen in any MMO is the use of notable community figures to model for LoN card artwork. There were 10 cards in the Forsworn set that featured community members, and each one was based on a photo of the person carefully posing for the final art. At SOE Live this past fall, one person paid almost a thousand dollars to have himself immortalized on a LoN card, and it seemed to attract the most attention during the silent auction. Who wouldn't want his very own trading card?

Legends of Norrath has always been the quiet sidekick of EverQuest II, but it's actually had quite an impact on the evolution of the game. And for all of its ups and downs, LoN keeps chugging along. The newest set, Debt of the Ratonga, launched just a few days ago and is the 15th set overall. Not too bad for a five-year-old TCG!

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.