There are numerous disadvantages to power leveling. How serious they are, and whether or not they are correctable depends on your previous experience with EQ. An outline of some of the potential consequences follows.
- 1 – Missed Content – by being power leveled, you may miss some areas, especially in previous expansions, that you have paid for. Even if you return to these zones at a higher level, the experience you have is not the same.
- 2 – Lack of game knowledge – this is the number one reason why power leveling can be a bad idea. When your character hits the upper levels, your groupmates are going to expect you to know the mechanics of how this game works. This is not knowledge you can pick up from the manual, and even online guides such as this and others cannot do more than outline ideas. You will be expected to know what abbreviations mean, when sitting is a bad idea, why it’s important to avoid area effects around mezzed mobs and vertically oriented zones. Nothing will upset people more than a L50 character that doesn’t know how to contribute. If this is your first character in Everquest, do not power level him unless you have friends willing to spend substantial time with you, to teach you how to play the higher end game. Yes, it generally means an increase in overall power, but the mobs you’ll be facing will be bigger too, and will often have a lot of new tricks to boot. You miss out on a huge chunk of the EQ Experience if you PL. Even if playing with a friend, it may be a good idea for you to both create new characters:that way, both of you have an opportunity to try something new. Have your friend start a new character of a different class, possibly one intended to compliment the character you’ve selected. It’ll be a better experience for you, and a heck of a lot more fun for him.
- 3 – Lack of character knowledge – just because you know how to play the game doesn’t mean you automatically know how to play all types of characters effectively. If you’re trying out a new class, I generally find that power leveling isn’t detrimental in and of itself, but make a point to take a break and play the game for real every time you get a new ability, even if it’s one you’ve used playing another character. Feign pulling as a shadow knight is different from feign pulling as a monk. Dealing with charms and mezzes is very different between an enchanter and a bard. This is doubly true for abilities you haven’t used before. For instance, stuns and snares for paladins or shadow knights do a lot more than stop or slow a mob – they’re used for gaining agro so that your teammates don’t get beat to a bloody pulp for keeping you alive. This is not information that is in the spell description. Lull classes need to understand how lull works and when it’s necessary. Do the research and practice your skills, so that your groupmates can count on you.
- 4 – Unrealistic expectations – This is more of a problem for new players. Seeing several levels go by in the space of an hour when being power leveled does little to prepare a person for the slow xp of the 50s, where a single kill often means 1% xp or less. Similarly, new players may be frustrated with the xp rate offered by the blues and light blues they’re forced to take on cautiously when they have become accustomed to easily defeating a stream of reds.
- 5 – Weak melee skills – A L50 warrior with a defense of 3 and an offense of 7 is no good to anyone. There’s just no way around that fact. Even caster classes should at least work on getting defensive skills up so that they aren’t killed in one hit when they draw agro. Fortunately, there’s a way to fix these skills. For offensive skills, you want to get your dexterity as high as possible through gear and buffs. This is the only stat that is checked for skill ups – the others don’t matter for this purpose. Go find a something that cons at least light blue (if the mob isn’t worth experience to you, you won’t get skill ups) and swing at it. Every time you swing, you get a check to determine whether or not you skill up, so having haste items and/or spells on can be very beneficial, as can selecting weapons with as low a delay as possible – remember that for this you’re not looking to do damage as such, so for skill ups a 3/18 weapon is much better than a 24/25. One caveat – you need to have at least 1 skill point in the skill to start with, or it will take you an eternity to skill up. If your one hand blunt is at 0, you will take an hour or two skill up unless you go to your guild leader and add at least one point. For defensive skills, it’s almost the same story. You want to get hit, a lot. Obviously, hits from light blue mobs hurt a lot less. In fact, if your healer can handle it, getting hit by multiple mobs at once isn’t a bad idea. The faster the mob swings, the more skill up checks you get. Around level 25 or so, you can find some mobs that are ideal for this purpose in the Echo Caverns called Needlites – these are monk mosquitoes that hit very fast, but not too hard. You can also cheat a little on these skill ups by /dueling a pet class and having them summon a pet that is barely light blue to you for you to fight. That way you have definitely control over when the fight ends and won’t accidentally die in the middle of combat.
- 6 – Weak casting and triggered skills – Other skills are easy, if tedious, to skill up. Basically, a check is made every time you use the skill to determine if you’ve skilled up. High intelligence or wisdom increases the chance of a skill up. For spells, it doesn’t matter what the level of the spell is – a L1 spell has just as much chance of getting you a skill up as a L50 spell. This means when you’re working on casting skills, you should make a spell set with the cheapest spell in each discipline (Alteration, Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, and Evocation) and just cast the spell again and again. Offensive spells can be cast on yourself or your pet, and if you’re in a neutral zone like POK, you won’t take any damage. If you have a device like a gravis gamepad (this is not banned by the EULA if you are present at your keyboard, since it’s a device rather than an external macro program – in fact it’s specifically mentioned in there), you can set it to keep on pounding your cast key and park your character in the guild hall in the regeneration pool. Triggered skills like lock pick and sense traps work the same way – you just have to do them a heck of a lot. Use the time waiting for groups to form to practice your triggered skills. Bards get a kind of get out of jail free thing on skill ups – if they’re only singing one song constantly and have an appropriate instrument equipped, they get a skill check for that instrument type every time the server ticks. If you’re working on song skills, make your bardling your trader and leave him singing his heart out in the bazaar. Do everyone a favor though – if you’re practicing brass with an AOE spell, park him in a safe spot no one goes, rather than a heavily populated zone – people don’t like having to turn off their spell effects to navigate. If you’re level 42 or above, you can sing the L42 group haste spell for brass and not have this problem.
- 7 Annoying other players – The last point I’d like to make is that power leveling, by it’s very nature, it’s disruptive. You’re going to be going through a lot of mobs very quickly, which often means that you’re taking mobs that could be xp for other players in the zone. A friendly /ooc to the effect that a power leveling session is going on in such and such a place is a bare minimum. Have a train warning macro set up and move to a different zone if you are inconveniencing others. Keep in mind that even though you are electing to bypass content in this way, others are not. (In recent times, it has become very easy to find an abandoned zone to PL in, so as to not bother other players.)
OK, so, you’ve decided to help a lower level friend coast through a few levels? How can you make this happen? There are more than a few methods to discuss.
For the sake of convenience, we’re going to give the players in this scenario names. Mike is the lowly character hoping to rise rapidly through the ranks, and Anna is the godly high level character who is willing to spend a little time helping him get there.
- 1 Twinkage
The colloquial term “twink” is used to refer to a character with armor and weapons far exceeding the items normally available at the character’s current level. Older players often twink their new alts in the bazaar, spending thousands of plat to get the very best gear their new character will be allowed to use. Such a character is said to be “twinked” or “twinked out”. In and of itself, this is not power leveling, but it serves to make earlier levels almost trivial even with the character going out and soloing. For the earliest levels, it’s often important to select gear with no recommended or required level. The Smoldering Brand is a classic example of a “twink” weapon. It’s a 9/22 one hand blunt weapon, usable by all classes and races, with a proc effect “burn” that can cause an additional 12-13 damage when it goes off, and it does so right from level one. It’s not that useful past the teens, but for the very early levels, it can make kills very quick.
- 2 Buff loading
Buff loading is exactly what it sounds like – having a buff class cast pretty much every beneficial spell that will stick on Mike, raising his statistics to godly levels and making early content relatively trivial. Again, this is not usually considered power leveling as such, as that term usually reflects a situation where a higher level player stays with the character to assist on a constant basis.
- 3 Agro locking
Agro locking is a situation where Anna attempts to hold the mob’s attention while Mike kills the mob in relative safety, usually from behind. In this scenario, taunt skills and debuffing spells/songs are used to hold agro without actually doing damage to the mob. Some of the higher agro spells that can be used for this purpose are snares, slows, statistic debuffs, fears, and intentionally broken charms. For healing classes, heals also provide a very high level of agro, so merely keeping yourself at high health after you’ve initially acquired agro may be enough to hold it.
- 4 Nursing
Nursing is a situation where a cleric, shaman, or druid merely tags along with Mike, keeping him constantly healed and out of danger while taking on harder content. It’s not the fastest power leveling method, but it’s better than soloing for the xp rate.
- 5 Nuking/Tanking (aka 50s)
Nuking or tanking for power leveling is fairly straight forward. XP for a mob goes to the player or group that has done the most damage to that mob when it dies. This means that if Mike does 51% of the damage to a mob and Anna does 49%, Mike will get all of the xp, as long as you are not grouped. There are a couple of caveats to this, however – the first being that all of the damage done to a mob is counted when figuring out xp assignment. This means if Mike does 60 damage to a target with 100 hp total, and Anna finishes it off with a 300 pt nuke, he’s not going to get the xp, because Anna did more damage than him, even though the mob was technically dead 260 hp ago. Also, certain effects, like damage shields, are not counted in crediting who has done the most damage to a mob, so if Mike does 40 damage to a mob and the damage shield he’s wearing did 25 damage, Anna can still only do 39 points of damage to the mob without stealing the kill. Note that this method can also be a good way to hold agro – in this scenario, Anna would nuke or tank the mob down to 51% and the mob would be agroed on her while Mike finished it off.
- 6 Pincushioning
In a pincushion scenario, Anna takes advantage of the fact that damage done to a mob by a damage shield is counted as neutral damage. As long as Anna does no damage to the mob directly, and Mike does at least 1 point of damage to the mob, when the mob finishes grinding itself to death on the damage shield, Mike will get all the xp. This can be hugely effective if Mike or someone in his group has an AE damage spell. Anna could potentially go and agro 20 mobs with an AE debuff, then retreat to a corner and cast her damage shield. Once Anna has firm agro, Mike pulses his smallest AE damage spell on all the mobs to avoid drawing too much agro away from Anna, makes sure that there are no resists from the mobs in question, and waits for the mobs to grind themselves to death on Anna’s damage shield. In lower levels, a single pull can generate multiple levels of xp this way. Two important notes on this method – mobs that have taken damage only from the damage shield will simply vaporize without giving loot or xp, so it’s important to make sure that each mob has been successfully hit at least once. If you are using melee to hit rather than an AE spell, it can be effective to have the person hit each mob while you are building the mass of mobs, right after you’ve established agro with each. The other thing you should be aware of is the corner I mentioned earlier. Spell interruptions are largely based on movement and knockback, so positioning yourself in a corner, facing outward to your target mobs, can greatly increase your chances of pulling off a heal or damage shield spell while masses of mobs are beating on you.
- 7 Charm breaking
One of the quirks of charm spells is that when a mob is charmed, all current damage to the mob from other mobs, for xp purposes, is wiped. This means if Anna charms a mob and throws it against a bunch of other mobs until it has been beat down to 2%, then breaks charm, Mike can take care of the last 2% and get the xp for the mob. This is a bit slow at lower levels, and rarely worth the time invested, but at higher levels it can be a good way to quickly rack up kills.
- 8 Zone out
A similar quirk is that when a character zones out, all damage done is wiped for xp purposes. This means that Anna could knock a mob down to 2%, then zone out or evac to effectively wipe the damage she’s done so that Mike can finish the mob off. Any effect that causes Anna to reload the zone is valid for this method, so while a gate spell won’t work (doesn’t reload), an evac (or levant or whathaveyou) will.
- 9 Feigning
Classes that get feign death make especially good power levelers for high levels. Yet another quirk of the game is that if you are feigned, the mob doesn’t count you anymore for xp crediting purposes. This can be a little tricky, and only seems to work reliably if the person being power leveled holds off on damaging or agroing the mob until after you have feigned. Probably has something to do with having them on the hate list when you feign. (Avoid using dots, or at least dots that will last past the time that you need to feign – screws up xp crediting) Anna just nukes or tanks the mob down to low health, feigns, and calls Mike over to do cleanup.
- 10 Hand ins
Some well known quests provide a decent amount of xp for lower levels. Turning in bone chips in nearly any starting town, crushbone belts in Kaladim, and lightstones in North Karana are all examples of droppable items a higher level characters can collect and hand to the lowbie to generate faction and xp. Alternately, there are several higher level quests that require no drop items but still give decent xp. An example of this would be the sarnak berserker whips in the over there. A high level character can easily wipe out a bunch of berserkers and allow the lower level character to loot all the whips.