While this game also released in 1999, months before Asheron's Call, I didn't experience it until it's first expansion was released in 2000. My closet gamer was salivating over what this game offered, though, when I finally got around to investigating it. Unlike Asheron's Call, Everquest offered a full world to explore, not just a single continent. While that world was broken into multiple zones, complete with loading screens and everything, the promise of adventure from landmass to landmass was too much for me to ignore. Not only that, but it also gave me the opportunity to explore other races besides Human, and races that I had, up until this point, only read about in J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy masterpiece The Lord of the Rings. Wood Elves, High Elves, Dwarves, Trolls, and more were all available to play, and I couldn't wait.
But what drew me in was the cover art for the first expansion, The Ruins of Kunark. Whoever designed that must have known what captured my attention, because this did immediately as I spied the game box on the shelf at Target so long ago...
The Ruins of Kunark featured the lizard-men known as the Iskar, a once proud race that now lived within the broken remnants of their once great empire. Their history was tied closely with dragons, shamanistic magics, and dark powers, and they were the bug zapper to the moth that was the young me.
While I did have an unending love for the dinosaur-like race, my main character was a dwarf warrior, and it was here in Everquest that the trend of me playing a dwarf warrior was established. Every fantasy game from here on out, if it gave you the option to make a dwarf warrior, I made one, named it Dloin, and played it as the drunken berserker he was. From Everquest, to Baldur's Gate, to Neverwinter Nights and Dragon Age, Dloin Steeleye was everywhere.
Not only did Everquest give me the archetypal character that would appear in all my other fantasy endeavors, but it also searched me to my very core, found an as-of-yet undiscovered love, and ignited it into a full flame that could not be doused.
Not the real-life, raping and murdering and stealing kind. The romantic idea of pirates. Of freedom on the open seas, of living life on the untamed ocean, at the mercy of your own skill and of the wild waves. Of wooing governor's daughters, searching for hidden treasure, firing the cannons, loosing the sails, and brandishing cutlasses.
While Everquest didn't make it easy to play a character as a pirate, it did provide just enough opportunities for me to see that it was more than an interest of mine, it was a passion. While I didn't recognize it for what it was at the time, assuming the role of a pirate was something that spoke to the very core of me. The same could be said for the cowboy, the frontiersman, the explorer. Someone says 'to hell with circumstances, I create opportunities' (much like Bruce Lee). While how these types of characters are portrayed changes from story to story, the archetype is still the same. The self-made-man, the one who walks the walk instead of talks the talk. That was the kind of character I wanted Dloin to be.
That was the kind of character I wanted to be.
And in all of my writings from then on, the character that acted that way was always among my favorites. And the character of Dloin, and his appearance in the world of Everquest, even to the point of creating a guild called The Pirates of Norrath (whoa, foreshadowing!), would influence more than just how I created a character for an RPG.
As many of you likely know, there were many different expansions for the game of Everquest. I, however, only indulged in two: Ruins of Kunark, as I mentioned above, and the moon-traversing, cat-people-playing expansion of The Shadows of Luclin. A few years after I quit Everquest for good, a friend of mine convinced me to try out Everquest: Online Adventures for the Playstation 2. It was a fun revisit to the world of Norrath, though much of the world of the PS2 game was incredibly different from the world of the PC game, and some of the races (like the lizard Iskar and the cat-people) were not available. My penchant for role-playing wasn't matched by many of the players I interacted with, and so I only played Online Adventures for a short period of time, no more than one consecutive year.
However, soon I learned that the world of MMORPGs was not limited only to high-fantasy. Eventually, my well-nourished love for the world of Marvel comics would find its way onto the servers of another Massively Multiplayer Online game.