Chapter 2 – With the Beasts at Bay
The spawn point was the first real challenge when people first started playing. There was only one, and it was covered in beasts. After waves of people logging on for the first time the beasts were either dead or full. Either way that allowed players to get a footing in the camp. Within a week they had pushed out to new locations and made new spawn points. The class tinker was especially important to players. They were a production type class but unlike other types they were able to use any craft skill, to some extent, instead of focusing on specific areas. Where there real value was, however, was in their ability to found camps. While any player could set up a group of tents, only a tinker could make a camp. The difference was that a tinker made camp was a spawn point, where players could resurrect and new players could start.
It was a very fluid system, as beast and monsters would try to destroy spawn points. It also seemed that if two points were made too close together it defaulted to the one made by the higher level tinker. When Lotus went to spawn for the first time she chose a point that was roughly midway between the original camp and the furthest one. Her reasoning was simple, the frontline was dangerous for new players, and they often found themselves in a death cycle. While she wanted to avoid that she also wanted to avoid the original camp. As most people chose start there it was hunted to the point of being barren and the valley it was located in had been thinned of trees. While players with the farmer class made attempts as reviving the earth around it, they were throwing cups of water into a volcano, hoping to hold back to flow. Most gave up and started to walk to newer camps.
If she was going to go there anyway Lotus would rather start there then walk there. As such she chose to spawn at the camp labelled, Fred’s Discount Swords. Fred was a tinker who entered as a part of the first wave. After experiencing the repeated death and re-spawn that all the first wave players went through, he insisted on becoming the best smith there was. During the outward push of the first week he stumbled across a cave, rich with mineral deposits and ores. To make matters even better for him, it was close to a river with a good supply of clay. Using everything he could he set out to ensure new players had the essential equipment they required.
Nothing, however, was free. He would make them the swords, bows, armours and tools they needed, but he would always turn a profit. If a new player wanted a sword, he’d make one, but they’d then have to use that sword to hunt for materials to pay for the sword. If someone wanted tools then they’d work the mine or craft weapons and armours. If anyone took equipment and didn’t pay it back, Fred would set a bounty. Veteran players would travel back from the frontline for a chance at one of Fred’s bounties. The allure was very strong; Fred, as a survivor of the first wave, was one of the highest level tinkers, and he set aside his best equipment for bounties.
Not that too many people were willing to cross him. He was a very imposing person. Fred was taller than most, well passed the two meter mark, and broad shouldered enough that his height didn’t seem lanky. Furthermore, the hours he spent behind a forge left him bulky and soot-stained. Behind his kind words were the slightest hint of malice. When you entered a deal with him, you knew you were selling your soul to a devil.
Devil though he defiantly was, the number of people that accepted his offer strained his ability to meet the demand. While cursing them as fools, he happily gained a steady stockpile of materials. The strange part was, unlike the original camp, the environment around Fred’s Discount Swords seemed to flourish. That was another job Fred would order. Farmer, rangers, fishermen, tamers and demonologists all ensured a healthy supply of plants, trees, beasts and monsters. Over consumption and reckless destruction would lead to bounties just as readily as stealing. As Fred put it, “Trying to take anything from my land without putting something back is just as stealing as taking a hammer outta my hands.”
Looking over herself, Lotus could see the few items she started with. For playing as an apothecary she started with only a simple hemp dress, which was styled like a summer dress, and a scythe made from a brittle wood with a blade that seemed to be stone. Her feet sunk into some fresh, moist soil and the earthy feeling notified her that shoes weren’t part of her starting package. A pouch like bag was slung across her body. Although its total weight might have been less than that of the scythe, it felt heavier as it sat uncomfortably against her body. Inside the bag was the renowned default starting package. It was just as she had read; two short torches, a flint and steel, a thin blanket, a water skin and two days’ worth of dried food. They were the basics that no-one could do without.
It was a popular topic on the forums; which class had the worst starting gear. There were art type production classes, like sculptors and painters, that complained about not even starting with a weapon. There were the geomancers; power users with only enough charge to launch the lowest level of spells, and only once. There were witch doctors, which needed jars to trap souls in, but start with none. Amongst the debate there was a shining class that declared itself the worst package of all; the apothecary was the only class, which had been discovered, that started without shoes. Other than that, the starting weapons were also useless in combat. It was decided, apparently at random, which type of weapon a player would start with from class compatibility. The apothecary could start with either a scythe or a sickle, both of which were made too brittle to be of any use against monsters.
To make up for that, they gained the herbal lore skill which improved as they levelled. It was an ability that appraised any plant or fungus. At first level it could only tell the general knowledge about plants in forests but rumours had it that at its highest level, an apothecary could find plants with healing properties in absolutely any environment. Another feature they had was poison resistance. It was basically the ability to take poison without getting ill. At low levels the effect wasn’t much but it grew rapidly. It seemed fairly important to have that ability, since a lot of new healing recipes came through trial and error.
On entering the cave that served as the main office for Fred’s camp, she was greeted by a secretary-like person who swiftly ran her through the procedure for gaining equipment and repaying it. The only thing that she wanted was a more durable weapon. As there wasn’t much demand for scythes, the price for them was somewhat unreasonable and the repayment would take far too long. As such, dejected that her play had already started to fall apart, Lotus Crane left the camp having accomplished nothing.