The Vana’diel Diaries (July 2006)

After nearly three months, I have a new perspective on the players of MMORPGs: They're not all obsessed assclowns bent on leveling up their character so they can be badass in at least one realm—the

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After nearly three months, I have a new perspective on the players of MMORPGs: They’re not all obsessed assclowns bent on leveling up their character so they can be badass in at least one realm—the lion’s share of them are incredibly cool and only too happy to help others. While I’ve run into one or two real dickheads, everyone else is cordial, willing to help or offer advice, and, for the most part, patient with a n00b like me.


I’ve also discovered there are gray areas in addiction. Everyone’s heard the horror stories: the Everquest widows, the guy who got fired because he couldn’t pull himself away from World of Warcraft, the girl who met a guy playing FF XI and left her husband for him; but not all “addicts” are that psycho. I do feel like I play FF XI a lot, but not to where it’s destroying my life.

At least not yet.

New Concepts:


Fame: Fame (fame) makes a man take things over…or at least run hither and yon on mindless quests. Fame unlocks quests that actually mean something…in my case, quests to acquire new Avatars for my SMN. To earn fame, however, one must run all sorts of idiotic quests. Occasionally the quests have a small monetary reward or an item, but not always. The quests usually follow a set pattern:

– Get Quest from NPC
– Go get items desired by NPC
– Deliver items
– Repeat as necessary

To make matters worse, earning Fame in San d’Oria does nothing for you in Windurst…you have to perform a completely different set of quests for fame in Windy. Same for Bastok. Same for Jeuno. You get the idea. Fame bites.

Summoner (SMN): Summoners have the ability to call forth Avatars to fight for them. The beginning SMN starts with only one Avatar—a little blue dog named Carbuncle. Summoning requires MP to perform and MP just to keep the Avatar out, so MP management is crucial. Other Avatars include Ifrit, Garuda, Ramuh, Fenris and Shiva (among others).

June 30 – July 1


What a great couple of days! I spent a few hours late Friday night making my first airship hop to Kazham. Traveling by airship isn’t as interesting as traveling by ferry—there are no monsters climbing on board, no fishing, no chance of pirates; but it is a heck of a lot faster.

Made 26th RDM by fighting Goblin Smithies and Furriers along with Mandragoras (these little fat white doughboy-looking things) in Yuhtunga Jungle near Kazham, and jumped to 27th Saturday night doing much of the same. Party invites seem to be a little easier to find here; I’m not sure why. I have actually turned down a couple invites because I’ve already been in a party or because I was just taking a break —that never happened on Qufim.


However, the ultimate cool thing happened earlier in the weekend. Arbiter, a reader of my Vana’diel Diary, sent me a tell. We BS’d a bit about what lay ahead on my journey—boss-type monsters, special quests, coffer keys and Promyvions (I have no idea what those are). I’m dreading all the fame building and missions I have ahead, but what can one do? Anyway, while this isn’t exactly net.fame, it’s gratifying someone from Bismarck is out there reading my diary.

I’m only a few thousand from 28th, and with some dedicated playing on Monday night I just might make 30th. My goal is to unlock SMN before the end of the week. Today I’m (hopefully) going to let a friend test drive the game with Gaelan for a bit—could be I’ll have hooked another one by the end of the day. That’s right baby; I’m your pusher.

July 2


So while I didn’t actually play today, I let a friend test drive the game by playing Gaelan for an hour or so. She seems to have a pretty good handle on the point-and-whack of the WAR job, but she hasn’t quite gotten the hang of the controls. This friend isn’t really a gamer, and has very little console experience, but I think she could get the hang of it with practice. The jury’s still out on whether she’ll be joining us.

Killing sheep, orcs, beetles and the like in Ron (both sides), she was able to level Gaelan— it’s getting close to time for him to head over to Valkurum and try his luck.

It’s looking like Seigrune and I probably won’t be partying a whole lot in the future, which makes me very sad. She really is one of the best tanks I’ve played with—unselfish to a fault and willing and able to make the ultimate sacrifice when necessary. Aside from some major schedule conflicts, we just have different approaches to the game and I don’t think we’ll find a whole lot of middle ground. 🙁

July 3


Didn’t turn on the console today—no FF XI, which means I’ve been away for a couple days now. I begin to question if I am falling into something of an addiction. I found myself thinking of Vana’diel, wondering who was on from the Primers or if any of my old FruitBat pals were back. What kind of parties would I find if I got online…would I make 28th? 29th even? (I did get to see Cars with the wife and daughter, and that was very cute.)


World Championship Poker for the DS isn’t bad, but the AI is really annoying. Opposing players will go deep into a hand with just crap. It’s like they’d rather lose hundreds, if not thousands of dollars chasing an inside straight or a running flush. The word is F-O-L-D. You can’t bluff every hand, asshats.

Okay, I need my fix—gonna get in a few hours tonight after fireworks. I’ve had to adjust my goal—I want make 30th by this Sunday, July 9th and have SMN unlocked by the 12th.

July 4


Even though I’m up better than $17,000, World Championship Poker on the DS continues to frustrate. I imagine writing a good, realistic poker game is very difficult, and the AI would be extremely hard to create.

Got about two hours in Vana’diel last night. After a 20 minute wait for an invite, I joined a party in Yhoator Jungle fighting Mandragoras (not even sure if I’m spelling that right) and some souped-up Goblin Smithies. I kind of felt ineffective—there was another RDM in the party named Dracen who was 29th level, and he was packing much better (and more expensive) gear than I. So he wound up handling the enfeeblement spells, our WHM took care of the healing (she was GOOD too; rarely did I have to help out), and I was charged with backup healing and nuking. My offensive spells are half-assed at best, so I wound up just burning mana and not really accomplishing anything.

With the time limitation, I only picked up about 3000 XP, falling short of 28th by a mere 100. I should be able to pick up 28th tonight, and depending on time/party I should eat up a good piece of the XP needed for 29th.

July 5


Another multi-hour trek through Vana’diel today! Yay! While I spent only two hours (give or take) actually in party, I pushed through 28th and am halfway to 29th. Yesterday’s fare included more Yhoator Mandragoras and uber-goblins—nothing new there. Yhoator and Yuhtunga Jungles are kind of hard to navigate, and I find myself burning at least ten invisible spells to slip all the aggro monsters that lurk in those twisty-turny tunnels when returning to Kazham.

That goal of 30th by the weekend looks to be in the bag. I could make 29th tonight!

Talked to Arbiter for a few minutes today—he gave me some advice about the SMN quest that will make it a lot more do-able. To complete the SMN quest, one needs to “experience” all of the weather types (which correspond to the elemental types). Most of them will be pretty easy: Between Valkurum, La Theine Plateau and Qufim Island I should be able to get all of them but ice. For that I need to travel to some glacier, and that’s a LOOOONNNNGGGG hike through some dangerous country. An escort would help. Thankfully, Raniel from the Primers has offered to assist.

July 6


After 30 minutes of sitting on my ass trying to either set up a party or get an invite, then another 20 filling out the party I was invited to, I finally got some good time in last night. We hunted Mandragoras and Goblins in Yuhtunga Jungle—mostly keeping to the easy fare but making some good XP chains. I’m a stone’s throw from 29th. With a good push tonight, I could get pretty close to 30th.


I’m beginning to worry about my gear. Most of it is level 20 stuff, and I really need to upgrade. My problem is I just don’t have the money. I think I’m going to have to take a night or two and do nothing but craft, which is boring as shit. If I can whip up three stacks of sheep leather and sell them for a reasonable price, I’ll walk away with about 65,000 gil, which should be enough to pick up some nice new stuff. Kaizersan had mentioned potentially having some stuff in storage for me, so hopefully I’ll see him around soon. I’m okay accepting the kindness of friends; I just hope I can repay that good karma someday to some other newbie.

July 7 – July 9

“I have done it. I have become…a Summoner.”
– Yuna, Final Fantasy X


And 3 days early too! w00t!

I logged about eight hours of playtime this weekend, which is a lot for me. I’d take a break, but I’m just too damned excited about the SMN job that I’ve unlocked.

While I didn’t play any Friday, I managed to land a pair of good parties in Yuhtunga and Yhoator Jungles on Saturday and pushed into and through 29th level to finally crash through the barrier of 30th RDM.

As mentioned earlier, the SMN quest is a little weird. After being issued the SMN quest from some shaman-type Taru in Windurst, one must “experience” all seven weather types (thunder, ice, wind, earth, fire, water and clear). Most of them are pretty easy—trips through Valkurum Dunes, Yuhtunga Jungle and La Theine Plateau rounded up six of them easily; ice was the problem. It required a trip to Beaucedine Glacier, and the only way through is the death tunnel of Ranguemont Pass. (I’m butchering some spelling here, so forgive me.)

Somewhere in the meantime, I spent a little of my extra gil to purchase a fishing rod and some bait and I went fishing. It’s surprisingly enjoyable, and I’m liking it much more than the leather crafting I’ve been doing. I’m not quite sure it’s going to become my craft of choice, but maybe.

Sunday, I tried the Pass on my own once, relying on the spells Invisible and Sneak to get by the absolutely sick monsters inside. Mistake. The tunnels are so convoluted and maze-like I got lost numerous times, and as soon as Sneak or Invis drops anywhere near a monster, you’re done (at least, I was). Blacksabre from the ABP LinkShell was kind enough to offer me an escort through, and even then I was killed once. After a raise by Blacksabre, we made it through and picked up ice. Another cutscene in La Theine Plateau and I’m a Summoner, baby! My first summon is this all-too-cute blue canine-looking beast named Carbuncle.

Props to Arbiter, Raniel, Cupkeeki, Sharrif and, of course, Blacksabre for their support and advice. Thanks a ton for your help!

I’ve yet to actually play SMN, and I’ve found I’m without a lot of my level 1 gear, so I’ll need to buy it again. Hoping to actually try it tonight and let Carbuncle off the leash, as it were, on some of the denizens of West Ron.

July 10


Carbuncle really is a boy’s best friend. I spent the lion’s share of yesterday skilling up my Summoning Magic skill (which consisted of summoning Carbuncle, dismissing him, and repeating the process ad infinitum), but I did get a chance to let him off the leash. Fighting with a summon is kind of weird. I turned him loose and then just watched. Most of the time I didn’t get into melee at all. Carbuncle is pretty tough. We got up to 4th level together within an hour.


Raniel and Blacksabre have suggested a trip to defeat Garuda, thus adding him to my stable of summons. This would ROCK OUT LOUD. The problem with it is fame, or rather my lack thereof. Fame is garnered by doing little quests issued by the NPCs in San d’Oria. The quests, for the most part, are little go-fetch or errand-running deals that do nothing but consume time. I finished up one and got a couple more issued, but I’m still falling short.

July 11


Even though I got a good three or four hours of gameplay in last night, I didn’t really get a whole lot done. Carbuncle kicked a little ass, taking down his first few orcs and goblins, bringing our team to 5th level; but that’s about all the XP hunting I did.

I spent most of the night doing more inane quests to gather fame. I’ve brought myself up to fame level 4, but I really need 6 or 7 (there’s some argument as to which). As I’ve said before, the lion’s share of these quests are go-fetch, and they’re boring as shit. I can understand the mission’s place in the game…they advance the actual storyline. Fame just seems like an annoying way to make the character do something besides earning xp, skilling up and crafting. In any case, Raniel has very kindly offered to go hunt just about any avatar I want with me once I’ve got the fame for it. After hitting 6 (or 7) here in Sandy, I should be able to get the quests to add Shiva and Garuda to my bullpen. I need a moment to mop up the drool.


My new LS, the AlBhed Primers, have a big general meeting tonight in Jeuno. I’ll have to travel from San d’Oria to Jeuno before the big to-do, which will be a drag, but I’m really looking forward to the meeting. I’m hoping to get there early so I can meet some of the folks face-to-face.

Next time: A recap of the ABP meeting, fame-gathering and the forthcoming epic battles to acquire Garuda and Shiva, and continuing on with the SMN job.


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About the Contributor

From 2006 to 2007

Steve Hamner is a former staff member from GameCola's early days as a monthly email newsletter.

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