## 31 December, 2005

### Arggghhhh...

It's been a good long while since my last entry into this bloggaru. What can I say? I just haven't been playing much recently. ^^;

What time I do spend in Vana'diel though, has been spent trying to level up my Summoner. It's a very drastic change of pace from the free-flowing invites one gets as any of the other mage classes, although I saw this one coming. The reason is fairly simple- most people don't know what to do with a Summoner. Heck, I don't know what to do with a Summoner. Each party setup I think of, something would be better by replacing me with a different job. There's the question of what a Summoner brings to the table, but the severe time limit in between Blood Pacts in comparison with their low impact makes it difficult to really justify my existence in a party, or so I feel.

Anyway, I'm out to get a party and I see a party setup lfg. It's not perfect since the majority of the members are 46-48, but my BLM would be 45. Regardless, I send the necessary /tells to people, and the BLM is okay with being just a little low for the party.

The party setup is PLD WAR RNG RDM SAM BLM. I gathered everybody together, but the WAR was the only one who did not reply.

1) When looking for a party, make sure you're actually there to take the invite, or at least check back frequently! There are as few things as aggravating as sending an invite, to having no reply.

So I've now gathered PLD RNG RDM BLM SMN, and I'm looking around for someone who can skillchain with the RNG. Only the WAR is looking for a party, and he's not replying. After some debate, I decide to get a White Mage, making the party setup WHM RDM BLM SMN RNG PLD. We then head off to the Crawler's Nest, before I decide that seeing how we're low on damage, we need to amplify whatever damage we actually do, and given a RNG's bonus damage versus fliers, we change course for the Garlaige Citadel to xp off Funnel Bats.

No sooner do we arrive at Garlaige Citadel, does something crop up for the WHM. He says it's a family thing, so I guess it's understandble. I manage to replace him easily with a WAR who also just started seeking, but by this time our BLM is starting to run low on time, so we figure it'd be better to replace her in advance, too. To be fair, she gave me prior warning that she only had an hour and a half, and about half an hour had since elapsed. Another BLM was also seeking, so the replacements were swapped in quickly, and I get ready to head off to xp.

What I did not get, on the other hand, was that no sooner do we invite both the replacement WAR and BLM does the PLD then accounce that he had to go fetch his sister someplace in about ten minutes.

He would be back in about half an hour.

I am not a happy taru.

2) When looking for a party, be sure that you can actually stay for the duration of the party! Granted, this could be difficult, but letting your party leader know of either any interruptions, or a {Short time} party, you save a whole lot of headaches. Most people seem to agree on two hours being a good length for a party.

The PLD ends up taking a whole lot longer than the half an hour he said he'd take, during which time the RDM has given up and leaves the party. We hang around at the basement of Garlaige Citadel for a bit, sitting around.

Time elapses. The daily routine of life goes on. Parties come, parties go. Somewhere over in the Boyahda Tree, people are farming Bark Spiders for silk while leveling their NPC fellow. And we were stuck here, waiting for our Paladin to return.

It didn't help that we didn't actually know when he left, since he just left without letting us know.

3) If you are leaving, whether it just be a bathroom break or something, make sure people know! It doesn't take very long to say "afk" or {Away}, and it lets people plan accordingly.

After forty-five minutes or so, I decide to call it quits, and disband the party. I go about apologising for the lack of party, and saying my goodbyes. The RNG logs off.

And the PLD returns.

/em bangs her head on the wall.

Frustrated, I end up disbanding the party anyway. Someone up there clearly didn't want me leveling today. >_<

## 17 December, 2005

### Musings, Economics, Music, Oh My!

Wow. Between going back at the xp grind yet again, but this time on my Red Mage, running around the world to hand out Christmas cards, and other assorted endeavours including trying to skillup my Sword solo (and dying twice with homepointing, too -_-), skilling up Goldsmithing, and generally going by my daily FF routine, I've come to realise something.

I'm feeling quite burnt out. >_<

This is also the point where I start to wax lyrical about my chronic debate over what job I should level or "max out". After all, I'm leveling my Red Mage right now, but to what end, to what purpose? Granted, I was inspired by watching Avesta solo Bune (and lots of other things!) but a bit of that wonder has died down, although I suppose with my current policy when it comes to HNM/sky, it looks like the only way I'm ever going to get my Zenith Mitts is to solo Genbu myself! (although granted, the pop items could be rather tricky...-_-)

As such, I've been spending a little bit more time out-of-game keeping myself occupied with some things here and there. ^^

Following through with an earlier post, I ended up ordering a book, Synthetic Worlds written by Edward Castronova at Indiana University. In it, he goes into detail about what an MMORPG is, what an MMORPG experience is, and the part that interests me greatly, the effects and workings of a virtual economy, and what happens when virtual meets real. It's also written in a very readable, casual style (although it does pick up and get more technical). Here's a short excerpt,

This book claims that synthetic worlds have become important in some sense, that they are now well worth study, even if they are, at the moment, little more than souped-up video games. Once one reecognizes that a silver piece in Sabert's world can have value just like a US dollar, one also must realize that the silver piece is not merely like money, it is money...

...Focusing on economics for a moment, note that Sabert found gems in the environment and he sold them for money. That looks like individual labor supply to me, and individual money demand...It therefore has a nominal wage rate and price level. That means it has a real wage rate and real gross domestic product. In fact, Sabert's world can potentially be measured by every macroeconomic indicator that can be applied to Earth countries.

In particular, he goes on to briefly talk about the infamous problem that we all know and love- "Real Money Trade". To me, while I personally do not approve of RMT, I find the whole dynamics of this melding between real and virtual economies fascinating.

Soon a new entrant in the game item trading emerged, Internet Gaming Entertainment Ltd. (IGE)...This business model simply takes everything we know about customer satisfaction and applies it to virtual-item sales, or RMT- real money trade.

...Yet for all its success, IGE and its competitors are not fully accepted within the gaming industry. Game developers in general seem to wish that IGE and the market it feeds would go away. For the fact is, the developers are trying to build a fantasy existence, and the idea that not only is this alleged fantasy irreparably intermixed with reality, but that some outsider can make millions off of that fact, is troubling.

Anyway, enough copying other people's work over to this blog. In short, it's a very good read, and offers some very deep insight.

Me? While I personally disapprove of buying one's way to power, I will readily say that RMT is here to stay, and it is of my personal belief that Sony did the right thing with Everquest 2, and open up some servers where RMT is, in fact legal. I don't know how those servers are doing now though, although I am very interested to find out. Like I said, this stuff fascinates me.

Don't get me wrong, I disapprove of the actions of the vast majority of the gilsellers out there in terms of underhand and/or grief tactics to get their money. However, I do not deny that the RMT industry is not only one that's growing larger and more relevant, but it's also one that's doing so exponentially. At the same time, I accept the economic principles that are in place, and yes, there will be a point where the opportunity cost is low enough for me to go "screw it", and just buy the gil. It might have to go all the way down to $1 per million (and it'd be a very sad day the day that happens, too -_-), or it might just take a price of$10/million, but the fact of the matter is, that breaking point does exist. Yes, even for the most anti-RMT people out there, too.

People will naturally gravitate towards whatever is the easiest moeny for them, while those without it will scorn. When I started one of the very first KS30 services on Odin, my group saw this as a fantastic way to make money.

And you know what? It was very good. I mean, really good. I think those KS30 runs in total singlehandedly funded my HQ staves collection, my Igqira Weskit, and a whole bunch of other things that I could not have otherwise afforded. It got me my first million, and it gave me enough capital such that, with the appropriate investments into Gardening, I am now self-sustained.

Only on the encouragement of one of the BLMs in my group, did I reluctantly post an advertisement of sorts up on Killing Ifrit's Odin server forums. And hoo boy, did I get a backlash. More interestingly though, was that I was getting feedback from two completely different ends of the spectrum. I had people who loved the idea, and the service, and those who were completely appauled by it. Heck, I was even accused of committing "highway robbery" (even though I still like Sidant. ^^)

Anyway, before I get even more sidetracked, the point of the matter is that there are those out there who look down upon using the KS30 services. To some, it takes away the "fun" of getting a group together and actually doing the KSNM together while to others it's downright cheating, and others will think you're nuts for literally walking up to a group of Black Mages to be ripped off. (On another side note, I felt so bad for "ripping off" the first batch of customers off, that I actually wanted to reduce the rate down to just keeping 50% of the total sales, although this would include the Claw. >_<)

The interesting question would then be what makes us different from say, a gilseller-run KS30 service? After all, it's hardly a sure thing to say that none of the Black Mages have ever supported the RMT industry through buying gil, so there's obviously something going on here. Mixing ethics and economics isn't quite my cup of tea though, so I'll end this particular spiel here.

Onto something completely different, I was browsing through SquareEnix's music over at the iTunes store, whereby I just so happened to chance across this CD:

1. Vana'diel March

2. Metalworks

3. Rolanberry Fields

4. Kazham

5. The Forgotten City- Tavnazian Safehold

6. Mog House

7. The Sanctuary of Zi'Tah

8. Awakening

9. Selbina

10. Blessed in Her Glorious Light (Jeuno)

Other than the oh-so-cutaru cover, the CD itself contains ten remixed tracks of some of FFXI's music, in all sorts of genres. It's very interesting, and quite a refreshing new look at some of the pieces one has become so familiar with, although there's perhaps not enough quiet, mellow-ish pieces to satisfy my liking, although the piano rendering of The Forgotten City- Tavnazian Safehold is just beautiful. My other favourites are the Rolanberry Fields and Selbina, just in case you'd like to know as well. ^^

Some of the pieces on the other hand, take a little while to get used to, or are at least an acquired taste. Ever heard the Jeuno theme, gospel style? I don't think I've gotten used to that one just yet, although it still remains rather amusing. ^^

## 15 December, 2005

### Merry Christmasu! ^^

Hehe, it's a little early, I know, but I probably won't be around to update this on Christmas Day proper, so here's an early "MERRY CHRISTMASU!" to everybody-wody outaru there! ^^

(*ahem* Excusey-wusey the slip of the accentaru there...)

In terms of actual in-game events, today was the day the Starlight Celebration became active. As part of the Christmas celebrations, Jeuno has put up its Starlight Celebration rendering of its ever-familiar theme, and of course, the Moogles have come out to play! ^^

Last year's event involved a series of giving out the Christmas joy to the children of the various cities (resulting in mauch /laughing at the people who couldn't distinguish between Tarutaru adultarus and cubs ^^), and this year involves handing out Christmas cards to people out there!

Except.

The card you get from the Moogle can't just go to anybody. Oh, no. It must go to a very specific person, a person of a particular job, and level range, too! For example, my first task of the day was to play postman to a thief whose level is in the 40s!

All excited, I trundle out into the world of Vana'diel to find...

...

...wait a sec, where'd all the THF40-49s go?!

I eventually hunted one down, gave him the card addressed for "Mr. THF40-49", and went back to talk to the Moogle, but guess what? I got another card to give to somebody!

*runs off again*

What resulted was being by far one of the most tedious events ever. To be honest, I'm still not quite sure what you had to do in order to satisfy the Moogles. As it turned out in the end, it seems that sadly you do not need to actually give out any cards to people. What matters is that you receive cards.

See, only once you handed in a card somebody else gave you, then you would get the Dream Robe if certain other conditions were met, although I'm not quite sure what. It's a bit sad to say that this didn't really capture the Christmas spirit of last year's event- the spam that resulted in the three cities was to the point where I was considering fleeing to Lower Jeuno to escape the spam.

Actually, I didn't need to quite go so far- zoning into Windurst Walls reminded me just how big a headache I had gotten from all that spam going on. >_< It was quite sad, some people were just shouting that they needed cards, but had no intention of giving out any. /sigh. Oh well. >_<

Anyway, it took a few tries, but eventually after hunting down elusive jobs (DRK50-59 for example), and being hunted down myself (SMN40-49 was a particularly popular job/level combination it seemed), I finally got this year's special item- a Dream Robe!

And you know what? It was worth it. Almost. Well, I don't know to be honest, but it looks soooo cute! Actually, I don't really like the way I look in the Dream Hat, so I decided to go about just wearing the coat around town. Besides, I think it looks very snazzy with the pimp hataru! ^^

So, once again to everybody-wody...

## 12 December, 2005

### Heir to the Realm of Dreams

Diabolos: "So you have come, confronter of the Emptiness and liberator of Vana'diel. When last we fought, I could feel the light of the crystal. You possess a power great enough to dissipate dreams.

I shall submit myself to your will. You may use my form in the waking world as you desire.

However, you must first prove yourself strong enough to undertake such a feat. You shall witness the full extent of my power. This dream is no dream...Underestimate your enemy, and this battle shall be as a fleeting illusion before eternal slumber!"

It is big-update day! Several changes and upgrades were made to the game in a lengthy update that introcuded several big changes, including a system to combat MPK, new Dynamis areas, a new 2hr ability for Dragoons, and the battle to fight Diabolos to earn him as a summon.

That last one particularly got me all excited, since I don't think I could stand leveling my Summoner again without Diabolos, so as soon as I got back from dinner, it was straight to Lower Jeuno and off to try and find a Diabolos party! Fortunately, I didn't have to wait very long, and eventually found a spot in a BLM BLM BLM BRD RNG NIN party. This was thirty minutes since the servers went back up, too.

Details and speculations were flying everywhere. At first, people thought that the NPC that gives you the quest was somewhere in the Tavnazian Safehold, although that was quickly cleared up as being Kerutoto in the Rhinostery instead. We didn't know just how far through the CoP missions you had to be before being able to even try fighting the uncapped Diabolos fight, although as it turns out, all you need is to have cleared "Darkness Named".

We weren't quite sure if there was a special BC area you had to fight him in, perhaps like, in a new Protocrystal or something, but eventually, our gut instint was correct in thinking that The Shrouded Maw was where the battle was to take place. We grabbed a key item from Kerutoto, and off it was to Pso'Xja. Remembering the way to The Shrouded Maw wasn't really a problem, since all one had to do was follow the train of people heading there. Evidently, we weren't the only ones who wanted Diabolos. ^^;

This is a bit of an aside, but when we got to The Shrouded Maw, we found the place packed with people all trying to fight Diabolos as well. The problem is, due to limitations in the Playstation 2's memory, there can only be three separate occurances of the Diabolos fight at any one time. Thus, there was some chaos as to who would go next.

It didn't take long for people to start forming a line, with just party leaders queueing up for their party's turn, much like what happened when the fellowship NPC quests were first released. However, here's where things start getting me all /disgusted about some people.

Evidently, people can't seem to get the idea that one should wait his or her turn in line, and what resulted were people constantly spamming the BC in the hopes that they'd get the option to enter, and then cut in line. As much as I hate to generalise, pretty much all the Japanese parties at The Shrouded Maw were politely queueing up, while the English parties were shamelessly cutting in, making things rather aggravating to both myself, and the others. Heck, my party leader even encouraged just spamming the BC entrance, without the slightest consideration for those already waiting in line, or those who arrived before us.

I'd abstain from doing such activities (also because I'm quite conscious about maintaining a good image), but when five of your party members jump into the BC, I might as well go in as well. After all, they cannot leave, so no matter what, that time slot is taken up. I still feel uncomfortable about jumping in front of others, although I suppose I could've just veto'ed and left the party to try out Diabolos with five. Anyway, I entered. The uncapped fight against Diabolos is called "Waking Dreams".

The uncapped version of Diabolos plays out very much like the Level 40 cap version in Darkness Named, except that he has a few more abilities that need to be taken care of. Dream Shroud, for example, enhances his Magic Attack and Magic Defense, and in addition to Nightmare, he also casts Sleepga II (very quickly too, I might add). In addition, he can also 2hr with Ruinous Omen, although all it does it take off a random percentage of each party member's current HP, so the good part is that it doesn't actually outright kill you.

Nightmare is still your #1 enemy here, and to make things worse, Diabolos uses his AoE Sleep effects with frightening regularity. It's very difficult to try and Stun both Sleepga II and Nightmare, and should Sleepga II resolve, that leaves your party open to a Nightmare, and from there it's basically good game.

In fact, that's exactly what happened on our first try. A Sleepga went off, he followed up with Nightmare, and it was just too much for us to recover from, although we did manage to get him down to around 60% on our first attempt, so he was certainly doable. It was just figuring out how to prevent his Sleepga moves.

The party ended up cutting in line four times in total, much to my dismay. Each time we lost to one reason or another. The second time, I couldn't Stun Nightmare due to overwhelming lag (my Stun actually went off a full second or two after I hit the macro), and although we did a decent job recovering, he managed to get off another Nightmare. And this time, he also 2hr-ed. >_<

Third attempt was lost to Nightmare yet again. We managed to Stun his first Sleepga II, but as soon as the Stun wore off, he immediately followed up with another Sleepga II and from there, it was just a matter of time before Nightmare came along, and that's all she wrote. -_- I don't remember what happened on our fourth attempt, but somewhere in there, there was a Nightmare and the Ninja died pretty early on, leaving the rest of us easy pickings for Diabolos. We disbanded after the fourth attempt, which was good for me I guess, since I didn't feel very comfortable with this group.

I made some notes and observations based on online forums and from those failed attempts. First off, Diabolos has roughly 9000-10000 hit points, so it's actually not that high for a boss. Secondly, while conventional wisdom eschews Poison Potions for the 40-cap version, having Poison Potions here means you can effectively ignore Sleepga II, leaving you with less things to Stun. Funnily enough though, when Diabolos drops the floortiles, he apparently forgot to update the Diremites that lurk at the bottom. While they will chew through a Level 40 party, they are {Too weak} to Level 75s, so all you had to do if you fell was just run back upstairs and rejoin the battle. ^^

In retrospect, I don't think our party was very good for Diabolos. While we did have the stunners, Diabolos spams his Sleepga effects too frequently for even multiple Stunners to keep under control, not to mention other issues such as lag. With a NIN tank, the BLMs couldn't really turn up the damage either, which is a very bad thing, since a longer, drawn out fight gives you more chance that something will go wrong, and believe me, this is not a fight you want to draw out and just chip away at. You wanted to kill Diabolos swiftly with minimal mess.

Which leads me onto my next point; it struck me as odd that of all the people who tried and failed (and believe me, there were a lot of wipes), nobody had yet to try a manaburn setup. There was definitely talk about doing it manaburn style, but nobody had really organised a manaburn attempt at Diabolos yet.

I went back to Jeuno, where I got a /tell from Sollanon (who actually does log in every once in a blue moon) who expressed interest at fighting Diabolos. I told him I wanted to do it manaburn style, and after a bit of calling up friends and searching, (and convincing Sollanon that this was going to work,) we ended up with BLM/WHM, BLM/WHM, BLM/RDM, BLM/RDM, RDM/DRK, RDM/DRK. We figured we'd split the Black Mages up into /RDM and /WHM since we needed access to Erase, Curaga, and Dispel during the fight. The two RDM/DRKs are obviously there for the obligatory Chainspell-Stun that seems to be the best way at buying yourself 30 seconds of (almost) uninterrupted assault.

When we got back to The Shrouded Maw, there was a lot more people this time. Sollanon, being from the eastern hemisphere, at least had respect for the queue that was forming, and so we joined the back.

In the meantime, NA players were still blatantly cutting in front, some even multiple times, leaving some very annoyed people behind. As Starfox told me while we were passing time, "...and NAs wonder why JPs are racist towards them." Seriously. If you can't show basic courtesy, then it's no wonder people have such a bad image of you! Fortunately, not every North American player is like that, and there were some that dutifully joined the queue, and tried to do their part in encouraging others to join the line as well. It was also interesting to notice that as the same people kept cutting the line and failing, people also stopped giving Raises to them as they were unceremoniously booted from the battlefield. ^^;

A couple hours passed by. Darksday came, and it was an inside joke to let the cutters go throw themselves at Diabolos once again when Diabolos would be at the height of his powers. On the outside of the battlefield though, we were slowly, but surely inching forward towards the arena.

Starfox had already tried fighting Diabolos with a manaburn setup that included four BLMs, a SMN and a (non /DRK) RDM, and ended up taking the record time with that, so needless to say, I was feeling confident. Firesday came, and I was starting to /cheer each time I got to move forward "two Tarutaru footsteps" closer to the entry point, and counting the steps up to the top. Also, I think a lot of the linecutters must've given up, since as the hours passed, the line was definitely moving faster.

Anyway, after arriving at The Shrouded Maw halfway through Lightsday, it was the start of Earthsday when our turn finally came around. >_<

I wish I could give you a more dramatic tale of the battle against Diabolos, but manaburned, this fight was so easy and so quick, if you blinked, you could've missed it. We all basically buffed up from the top, and opened with a simultaneous Thundaga III from the top of the dropoff. One RDM/DRK started his Chainspell-Stun sequence, and a flurry of Blizzaga IIIs and one Stone III later from the other Red Mage, Diabolos was defeated. Just like that. The second RDM didn't even have to Chainspell!

Okay, he did get off a Sleepga II, but we had drank Poison Potions in anticipation of that, so there was no problem at all. ^^ We were all actually joking and laughing about just how easy this nightmare (sorry, bad pun) of a fight had become with manaburn. Heck, our second Red Mage didn't do anything! >_<

One quick run back to the Rhinostery, and after a very brief cutscene, the magic words came by,

"You are now able to summon Diabolos!"

After a bit of showing off to linkshellmates and random passer-bys, I found that at SMN43, I don't have access to Diabolos' more desirable Blood Pacts, namely Dream Shroud and Noctoshield (Phalanxga!), although comparing Noctoshield with the other party-enhancing Blood Pacts, I should get Noctoshield by Level 50. I don't know when to expect Dream Shroud though. >_<

I do have Nightmare, and the Sleep duration versus Easy prey and Too weak mobs is actually quite respectable, not to mention that it's AoE, too. Other DoT effects don't seem to wake the mob up from Nightmare, like Dia, although I don't actually know what Nightmare's accuracy would be like versus IT mobs.

More things to try out in my next Summoner xp party, I guess. ^^

Diabolos: "Your power is impressive. I admit defeat. I believe you can save the people of Vana'diel. Use my powers wisely."

## 10 December, 2005

### Ho-hums...

I find myself blogging less and less nowadays. I'm not exactly sure why, since I practically play as much as I used to back then, it's just that there hasn't been anything going on as of late that I feel is worth blogging about.

Compare and contrast to some of this bloggaru's earliest entries, when I was blog about practically anything that happened- what level I ding'ed, the good parties, the bad parties, random encounters of the third kind, so and so forth. Admittedly, the game has lost some of its luster, and really, once you're up there at 75, there isn't a whole lot to do if you want to avoid the drama train and say "no" to HNM and sky.

Consequently, I noticed that I no longer have access to BBQ's private forums. I guess that means I'm technically no longer part of BBQ, I guess.

Granted, I could blog about how we cleared Dynamis-Bastok yet again, but the problem with all these activities is that they get so tediously repetitive, it just ceases to be enjoyable. Sure, the first time going in was fun, maybe the second. Nowadays, I'm just grinding it out, waiting for the designated time to expire just so I can move on with other things.

I've come to the conclusion that Dynamis is flawed in its design. For starters, it's a massive time sink that goes against one of the fundamental rules of an MMORPG, that is "real life > online". Heck, even Square-Enix has it in their warning message that they flash by you each and every time you log on:

"Exploring Vana'diel is a thrilling experience. During your time here, you will be able to talk, join, and adventure with many other individuals in an experience that is unique to online games.

A Dynamis linkshell typically takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get all the pre-raid stuff sorted out. Party formations, alliance formations, taking down attendance, confirming who gets what drops, and so and so forth. Once inside, you can spend up to three and a half hours inside Dynamis. Doing the math, that tells you that each Dynamis run takes up at least four hours of your day. Given that the Chinese government seems to have decided that anything over three hours of continued gameplay is considered unhealthy, we have a small problem.

Four hours is a long enough period that will almost certainly cut into something you do. For example, dinner with friends and family. Unless you start right after lunch, there's a good chance that your Dynamis run will spillover into dinner. At some point, a line needs to be drawn somewhere.

Not to mention that all this happens twice a week.

Also, what's with the system where the Dynamis zones aren't instanced? I can understand why it might not be, because a player should be able to /search a Dynamis zone. However, with a linkshell's run taking up four hours, it will get more and more difficult to schedule a run without a conflict, although the new Dynamis zones will ease this somewhat.

The drop rate is rare, granted, but does it have to be asanine? While many can grasp the value inherit in something rare, do the math. As a Black Mage, I have a lifetime total of 280 points, or the equivalent of 28 Dynamis runs. At four and a half hours per run, that's 126 hours, or five and a quarter full, real life days spent in Dynamis. All I have to show for that is a pair of Sorcerer's Sabots. Heck, Kaibara has spent over a real life week in Dynamis, and he still doesn't have his Sorcerer's Petasos. Doesn't that strike you as somewhat...strange coming from a company who tells you that this shouldn't affect your real life?

The new Dynamis zones seem to be a step in the right direction, with a much shorter time limit in Dynamis, although that really doesn't help the drop issue, although I can't really say much about that seeing as how the new Dynamis zones will be up on Monday. Personally, I think having AF2 drop off mobs is incredibly silly and wasteful since there will be different demands for each piece. So then not only does AF have to drop, the correct AF also needs to drop, otherwise it joins the pile of /tossed AF, along with the rest of the DRG, DRK, and BST AF we have lying somewhere in the Jeuno sewers. Have something that lets a player get his AF for sure, after a good amount of work. The Limbus system with AF+1s is something I like as an idea, although I think it might be better to make the Ancient Beastcoins (or its equivalent) RA/EX so one can't just "buy" his or her AF (supply not withstanding).

On another completely different note, yesterday's edition of the New York Times contained an article entitled "Ogre to Slay? Outsource It to Chinese", written by David Barboza that, well, dealt with gilsellers. There is also an accompanying article, "Virtual Achievement for Hire: It's Only Wrong if You Get Caught", by Seth Schiesel that again talks about gilsellers, or at least in Seth's case, goldsellers in World of Warcraft.

After reading the articles, I do not envy the position the Chinese youths are in- playing for 12-hour shifts trying to meet a daily quota of gil. At the same time, I have next to no sympathy for them. Yes, I am an ebil taru. Hear me rawr~!

The irony was that that night, I actually got an invite for a Crawler's Nest xp party from some guy named Jokia, who evidently is a gilseller (although I did not know it). He spoke some English, but after a while, I got very suspicious based off his broken English, his lack of knowledge as to how to construct a party, not to mention him being Rank 10, and not knowing how to get to the Soldier Crawlers.

A quick /tell to Vagus, and I found out that yes, he is indeed of gilseller status, and I eventually excused myself from the party. The funny part was that previously, he had invited Ellven (who is also high on the "gilseller" suspect list) to the party, and I talked him into kicking Ellven because he was a gilseller. Little did I know that the leader himself is a gilseller too! Gilsellers kicking other gilsellers out of their own parties? They're everywhere! >_<

I also started my Summoner AF, or at least, the AF1 weapon. After a lot of running around the world, from Windurst, to Bastok, I found myself in the Cloister of Tremors, fighting this Hecteyes mob by the name of Galgalim. Normally, I'd fight him with my BLM, but I was feeling lazy, so I figured I'd try to solo him on my WHM instead. So, I took out my trusty Darksteel Maul, and went nuts over the poor Hecteyes. That, and I got a few giggles out of beating stuff up with Hexa Strike once again. ^^

Unfortunately, for some reason, there seems to be a bug with the Summoner AF! I went back to Port Bastok, where I get a cutscene, but then I'm supposed to go back to Windurst Walls and the House of the Hero to pick up my Kukulcan's Staff, but I got nothing! >_< Evidently, this can be fixed by going talking to everybody once again, starting from the beginning at the House, then going to Port Bastok, then back to Windurst again, but all that travelling! >_<

In even more Summoner-related news, I managed to get SMN43 today. Starting from SMN41, I saw some people lfg, and brought together a 41-42 SMN BLM BRD DRG THF, and ended up settling with a NIN40, who agreed to at least try to tank Desert Beetles even though they are more 41-44 material. Turns out that the Beetles only conned IT, high defense to the Ninja, so that sounded just fine.

Unfortunately, things got off to a very rocky start. Someone got aggro from a wandering Antican, and half the party ended up wiping while the rest fled to Rabao (all the way from Revelation Rock, too -_-). I was one of the dead, and seeing as how we had nobody who could Raise, I homepointed, switched over to my WHM, Teleport-Altep'ed, and grabbed a chocobo from Rabao to raise the fallen.

We get a Chain #1, but after a very delayed skillchain, the DRG took hate with Double Thrust, and the SATA Viper Bite was too slow in coming. In the meantime, I was busy getting Shiva ready for the Magic Burst that should've come, except that by the time the Viper Bite actually went off, the poor DRG had died thanks to a critical hit and a Rhino Charge, or something of the sort. Back to Rabao again to swap to WHM and chocobo out for Raise. -_-

The party actually picks up from here, and the xp is flowing in. We're only 41-42, but we're getting 200+xp/kill on Chain #3+, and I'm feeling more and more enthusiactic about our chances. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way I decided to summon Shiva to MB on the Distortion skillchain since the Beetle was particularly tough and had a lot of HP. The NIN's shadows happen to go down just as I start bringing Shiva out, and the next Ninjutsu in line is Utsusemi: Ichi, too. -_- Needless to say, the Beetle scores a critical hit, and a few seconds later, we're looking at a dead Ninja and a DRG doing his best to tank (it wasn't pretty). At least the Beetle died, but not without casualties. Back to Rabao again. >_<

At this point, I'm thinking that the Chocobo vendor and I must be really good friends by now...

After that little hiccup, we continue onwards and the xp comes flowing in again. At some point, I ding 42, and lo-and-behold, Cure III (from a /WHM21 subjob) is a godsend to a poor Summoner who's really trying to main heal. >_< An hour and a bit later, I'm starting to get my hopes up about dinging 43 and getting Ecliptic Growl, and sure enough, I get my level within the last 20 minutes of partying. As we're about to start on our last chain, two Beetles pop. We agree to Sleep one and fight the other, but thanks to some miscommunication, we end up sleeping the wrong Beetle, and Provoking the wrong Beetle, too. >_<

So we end up with a BLM dead on the floor, and suddenly, people start dropping like flies. I Astral Flow out a couple of Diamond Dusts, but in the meantime, the NIN and BRD goes down. Our DRG once again makes a brave attempt at tanking, and we actually manage to kill one of the beetles, but the other does the NIN in. So it's just me and the THF trying to kill off this last Beetle. The second Astral Flow almost kills the beetle, and with Shiva tanking, a SATA Viper Bite leaves the Beetle with a sliver of health left. Unfortunately, my Astral Flow wears off at this point, leaving me incapacitated, and I sit down hoping that the THF will be able to finish off the Beetle, or at least last long enough for me to recover some MP.

Thankfully, a Perfect Dodge and a Cyclone later, the beetle dies, and we (just the THF and I) emerge triumphant. Never mind the fact that there are four fallen bodies around us. Back to Rabao it is! >_<

All in all, I have no idea what to think about the place. Overall, a rather amusing (if not, then at least trying) party, that's for sure. ^^

## 03 December, 2005

### Promyvion-Vahzl, Part II

Yesterday, TrueRune's goal with respect to this (very long) mission was to get to the fifth floor of Promyvion Vahzl, and defeat the Ponderer that would let us have a "save point" at the fifth floor, where only a short walk from the fifth floor Memory Flux to the Spire of Vahzl awaits.

We used up quite a few of our anima yesterday trying to beat some of the mini-bosses on the way up through Promyvion-Vahzl, and so we needed to replace them, in particular our Hysteroanimas which are very, very handy to have on you.

And of course, in TrueRune style, we decided that this was something we really didn't want to do twice, so we threw a heck of a lot of money at the BCNM. We each came equipped with:

* Reraise Earring
* Antidote
* Holy Water
* Poison Potion
* Hysteroanima, Terroanima, and Psychoanima
* 2-4 Yagudo Drinks (if you have mana)
* Panama au lait (if you're melee)
* Hi-Potions/X-Potions (if you need it- this is mostly Seraph)
* 2-hours!

And in addition, I also brought along a Pro-Ether, a scroll of Instant Reraise, and a Vile Elixir +1.

Our party setup this time was PLD SAM THF BLM RDM SMN.

Thanks to yesterday, we could just warp straight up to the fifth floor of Promyvion-Vahzl, and from the Memory Flux, it's just a quick run south-east to the Spire of Vahzl. There were a few mobs that would aggro us if we weren't careful, but in the end, we just decided to have Titan Earthern Ward us up, and then we ran for it. ^^

The Promyvion-Vahzl BC fight is against all three basic Promyvion bosses in one arena, except with different names- the Procreator (Dem), Cumulator (Mea), and Agonizer (Holla). Thankfully, you don't actually fight all three at once.

What happens is that you will fight one normally, but once its HP reaches around 20%, one of the other two bosses will "awaken", and join in the fight. Once the second boss's HP reaches around 20%, the third will also awaken and join in.

I chose to come BLM because with Freeze, we can quickly finish off a boss if needed via a Tachi: Enpi > Viper Bite Distortion skillchain with a Freeze to top things off. Basically, each of the bosses individually aren't all that difficult, but the real trick to this fight was dealing with the links in a smooth manner.

We chose to go with what seems to be the accepted "best order" to fighting the mobs. Starting with the Cumulator (Mea), the Procreator (Dem) will then aggro, finally finishing with the Agonizer (Holla). While Mea's generally known to be the hardest of the three, it is also followed by the easiest (Dem's). The logic would be that because Dem's boss is so slow, we could easily just kite it around while we not only finished off Mea's boss, but also let our mages rest for a bit.

Of course, Animas are your friend here, especially Hysteroanimas which go a long way towards blocking the various deadly special attacks that Mea's boss can dish out. However, we also wanted to save some Hysteroanimas for Holla's boss, so we agreed on just splitting them 3-3. Psychoanimas would be used "on a judgment call" basis, and since they only block regular attacks, they really only just served to help Seraph take less damage, which is still a good thing in itself.

Finally, we'd also use Terroanimas here, which are normally eschewed when going on a Promyvion-Holla/Dem/Mea run. Terroanimas basically make the boss run around randomly for thirty seconds, which isn't great if that's the only thing you're trying to beat, but in our case, Terroanimas would be very useful at keeping a boss occupied once it "awakens".

Our plan was as follows: Engage Mea. Keep a Hystero and Psychoanima on it to minimize damage. Once the Propogator aggros, a Freeze Magic Burst off a Distortion skillchain would put a quick end to the Cumulator. In the meantime, Akeem would use a Terroanima in conjunction with Gravity and Bind to keep the Propogator busy while the rest of us took a bit of a breather.

We didn't really plan on using any anima for the Propogator once we actually started engaging it- the fight's just that easy. :P We were saving our anima for the Promyvion-Holla boss, particularly towards the end when it starts spamming it's various AoE damaging effects (to the point where, en route to the top of Promyvion-Vahzl, I was literally alternating nonstop between Curaga II and Curaga).

The nice thing is that the bosses don't actually aggro you- you have to first engage it, and we took advantage of that with a good SATA off Seraphpdh for the extra damage. And then we were off!

Surprisingly, I don't really have much to say about the fight, other than I'm happy the way it turned out. I'm aware other group have had trouble with this fight, but for us at least, things went really smoothly, which I can definitely attribute to having a full eighteen animas to spend on the bosses as needed (rather liberally, too). There was a point when kiting the Propagator didn't quite go as planned, but a few Terroanimas bought us the time we needed to get some valuable rest . When the time for the Propogator to spawn its Offspring came, we just ditched our original plan to control the Offspring, and just killed the Propogator instead. ^^;

We then went {Full attack!} on the Agonizer. Actually, by this time, I was practically out of mana, and so I managed to keep going with the help of a Vile Elixir +1 and a Manfont, and just spammed nukes at the Agonizer mob. The only real trick to dealing with the Agonizer is remembering to use Poison Potions to counter Shadow Spread, which is the "party killer" with AoE Cursega and Sleepga. In the meantime, Ksayyah Astral Flow'ed out Ramuh, and while his first attempt at Judgement Bolt was countered with a Shadow Spread (/comfort Ramuh), the second one was enough to defeat the Agonizer, and clinch victory for us in what was probably the smoothest fight we've had in a while. ^^

The story unravels further with even more cutscenes, including one rather familiar figure...

...But for now, I'm afraid TrueRune's CoP static will have to be {Taking a break} for now. We hope to resume our missions next February, but there'll be more details on that to come as the time ripens. ^^

## 02 December, 2005

### Promyvion-Vahzl, Part I

It was time for TrueRune to venture into what would hopefully be the last Promyvion zone we would ever step into. We had heard horror stories from other groups who have attempted to clear Promyvion-Vahzl, not to mention the ludicrous amounts of time it takes to even get to the final closed battle. Because of the long time this mission would take, we decided to split Promyvion-Vahzl into two parts- tonight, we would just get to the final floor, and finish off with the boss fight the next day.

Originally, our plan was to travel through Promyvion-Vahzl together with Subligar Connection, since having an alliance of twelve would make it somewhat easier to get to the top, but Onekomaru had homework to do on the night we planned for, so it ended up being a TrueRune-only thing. >_<

We didn't know too much about what to expect when it would come to Promyvion-Vahzl. We had snippets of ideas like the various floor bosses, some of which were reputedly harder than their BC-counterparts, and other horrors like "the gauntlet" that would be lying in wait for us somewhere inside Promyvion-Vahzl.

And so, we took no chances and came fully prepared with medicines and several animas, because good grief, we would need it. Hysteroanimas are your friend. Really.

Unlike the other three Promyvion zones which are accessed through the various shattered telepoints at the crags, Promyvion-Vahzl is accessed through the uncapped section of Pso'Xja. Just enter the tower at (F-7) of the Beaucedine Glacier, and heep heading straight once you enter Pso'Xja (at least, once the place offers you an option of which way to turn). There will be a door there with a Snowball guarding, which is easily taken care of.

The door is trapped. Trying to open it will spawn a (very large) Golem, which has a very high auto-regen on, something to the tone of 100hp/tick. Fortunately, he doesn't have that much HP, and really is quite laughable. Then again, since this was in an uncapped zone, having several 75+ people beat up on it wasn't really a fair fight either. I suppose a Level 50 party might have some trouble, but I really can't say for sure. I remember Akanea's Impulse Drive practically one-shotted the Golem though. ^^

You only need to defeat the Golem once- if you have already previously beaten the Golem before, the door's trap will remain forever "broken", which is a good thing, since things would get rather annoying otherwise. -_-

Take the life down to the bottom floor (do not cast magic!) and there will be a stone door that is the zone to Promyvion-Vahzl. Enter it to be treated to two lengthy cutscenes which really start to dig deeper into just what is going on in this place. Here are some teasers to whet your appetite. ^^

Unlike the other Promyvions, which are a rather grey-ish colour, Promyvion-Vahzl is instead a bit of a muddy-brown colour. You still have all the assorted type of Empty mobs- Wanderers, Weepers, and so forth, but unlike their Promyvion-Holla/Dem/Mea counterparts, these can also take on Light and Dark elements as well as the regular six elements. Also unlike the other Promyvions, which have four floors in total, Promyvion-Vahzl comes with an extra fifth floor that you must also navigate through.

As usual, to proceed onto the next level, you need to defeat a Memory Receptacle that may or may not result in a portal leading you up. I'm not sure if fake Memory Receptacles are still in place at the basic three Promyvions- I've heard they've been removed- but believe me, there are fake Memory Receptacles in Promyvion-Vahzl. ^^

Like the other Promyvions, the mobs gets tougher and tougher as you proceed higher up in floors, although this rate is somewhat slower, with mostly VT mobs crowding the top floor.

One interesting note is that the Strays the Memory Receptacles spawn are no longer all Wanderer-type mobs, in fact, Strays can even be Weeper or Seether-type mobs, although thankfully, they're still just as weak and easy to take down.

On the second floor, we encountered what has since been nicknamed "the gauntlet". This is basically a rather narrow stretch, ala "gauntlet" that you need to pass through, that is filled with Empty mobs. Good timing will get you through this easily, and if you're lucky, all the Empty will be on one side of the gauntlet, allowing you safe passage through.

Alas for us, we had neither good timing, nor luck, so we ended up stringing up a sacrifical lamb (a.k.a. "Seraphpdh") to run through, getting aggro, and thus clearing a path for us to run through. He quietly died in an isolated spot on the other side of the gauntlet, where we waited for the Empty mobs to return back to the gauntlet before raising him. ^^

The third floor is where things start to get interesting. On the third, fourth, and fifth floors of Promyvion-Vahzl is a Memory Flux somewhere. These didn't do anything in the basic Promyvion zones, but here they spawn an NM which you need to defeat in order to move on. Bear in mind that you get no warning when spawning the NM, so make sure nobody touches the Memory Flux until everybody is ready.

The NMs that spawn are essentially the three basic Promyvion bosses, and should be treated as such, although they do have different names. I'm not sure whether they are harder than the normal Promyvion bosses- they certainly feel harder, but in either case, be prepared for a good fight, since they are not walkovers. Well, that's not quite true. The third floor boss is a Propagator, which is basically the Promyvion-Dem boss. He's easy.

Defeating the boss not only you to proceed onwards through Promyvion-Vahzl, but if you touch the Memory Flux again after defeating the boss (don't wait too long!), you'll be treated to a cutscene and the Memory Flux is now a "save point". Should you need to re-enter Promyvion-Vahzl again for some reason, you can warp straight to the Memory Flux from the stone door in Pso'Xja. Convenient, no? ^^

The fourth floor boss is a Solicitor, a copy of Promyvion-Mea's boss. For some reason, we had a lot of trouble with this one, mostly because it has some really damaging moves. Impalement would bring Seraph's HP down to double digits repeatedly, while other moves like Carousel and Promyvion-Brume throw massive monkey wrenches into things (Promyvion-Brume is also a hate reset).

On our first attempt, we ended up spending a few Hysteroanimas, and almost beat it, except Impalement and Carousel took out Seraph and Akanea. Saoirse was soon to follow next, and then Akeem. I managed to throw a few nukes at it, but the final Thunder II which was supposed to be the finishing blow, got resisted. I died. >_< I tried Reraising and nuking it one last time, but by then it had regenerated enough HP to survive (still just a very tiny bar of health left! >_<) and it killed me again. -_-. As much as we would've liked it, no, Ksayyah and Carbuncle was not able to finish the job, and so we were left with the six of us lying dead on the ground and no more Reraises. ; ;

One problem we found was that there was a lot of lag for goodness knows what reason. We all went back to our Home Points and I decided to switch over to WHM/SMN since I figured the extra healing support with Cure IV and Curaga II would be worth it, not to mention having access to Benediction if we really needed it (as opposed to Manafont).

And so we each individually went our own way up to Xarcabard and over to Pso'Xja, where we warped straight to the third floor. Except that for goodness-knows-what reason, as we were trickling in, someone accidentally touched the Memory Flux, spawning the Propagator again, and a whole stream of "..."s and "WTF!"s followed suit. Yes, we wiped again, although thankfully I managed to squeeze in a quick Reraise in there somewhere so we didn't have to come all the way around yet again.

We fought our way back up to the fourth floor and went to take on the Solicitor once again. This time, we decided we'd go all out and actually commit to beating the Solicitor with our animas and what not. This time, we were actually successful, although it took us four of our six Hysteroanimas to do so. It probably is a lot easier to beat with an alliance, but we were the only ones in the zone at the time. >_<

Finally, we got up to the fifth and final floor. Simple process of elimination would tell us that the Promyvion-Holla boss was waiting for us (named a Ponderer this time). By this time, it was getting late and a number of us were feeling tired, so again, we decided to just throw the rest of our anima at it and just "beat the damn thing." The Ponderer isn't as hard as the Solicitor, but towards the end, it spams AoE damage effects like there was no tomorrow, including the infamous Shadow Spread which we were prepared for, and brought Poison Potions to counter the sleep effect.

After beating the Ponderer, we touched the final Memory Flux to "save" our progress, and /cheers went all around. It was a very long night. We started at around 11pm and by the time we finished it was post 4am. If you intend to go through this, be prepared with a lot of spare time on your hands. ^^

Tomorrow: the {Boss}{Battle}!