Did you ever want something, badly, something you talked about with others, and then suddenly realize you’ve had it for months? No? Me neither. Until a couple of days ago, when DDO players offhandedly mentioned a secretive stash of Glamered armor hidden deep within the gray/purple darkness of Wheloon Prison.
My barbarian Knicker Tan is modeled after River Tam from Firefly. The version of River we see in the movie rather moreso than the version in the TV series; a crazy-skilled melee fighter, but also crazy literally, and capable of going off on a berserk frenzy at any moment.
I couldn’t match her exactly, she fought with a cold, smooth style that was part martial arts/part improvised weaponry and does not exist in DDO. Plus, she is full-on Psionic. But I could mimic the approach, and the frenzy, and the axes, and especially, the look. And so I did.
It was a popular idea; her write-up on the forums got a lot of attention. It made for an excellent character. She got played a lot, always getting comments, standing there in the front lines in her Starter Rags, but still completely holding her own versus other DPS characters and especially, TWF barbarians.
People would occasionally just open trade windows with me, uninvited, and put armor in them. This happened several times, as if I’d somehow gotten the character up to the level cap without remembering to put armor on her; golly gee, armor? I forgot! And so they’d offer me whatever spare vendor-reject armor they happened to have thinking they were helping me out. The gesture was appreciated, but ignored. The Starter Rags were the whole point.
When Cannith Crafting came out, I crafted up her Starter Rags. It helped. Moreover, it was cool, they were no longer just sitting there, an essentially empty slot in the character paper doll. They were contributing, albeit not very much.
When the level cap was raised to 25 things … changed. She had a harder time keeping up. The build was always behind similar barbarians in terms of hit points but was able to make it up with smart play and sheer ferocity. But it got harder to keep up. I blamed the armor, or specifically, the lack of armor. Really it was deeper than that, she needed to have her entire equipment load-out redone, as would most characters going from level 20 to level 25.
Redoing her load-out seemed … pointless? Futile? She’d always have that gaping hole in her paper doll where armor ought to be. But I couldn’t abandon the Starter Rags, it was a key component of the whole character. I re-crafted them with different, hopefully better attributes, eventually settling on Lifeshield Rags of Negative Energy Absorption. I made do.
Then the character cap went up again. And my strategy fighter Chelena worked her way back up into the Epics. More and more often, when I needed a melee to run something Epic, Chelena got the call. Knicker was never officially shelved, but she didn’t get played much either.
If only there was a way to keep the Starter Rags look while actually wearing real armor! I talked about this a lot; in my guild, in PUGs, on DDOCast, hoping that DDO would create a cosmetic armor system more like the one in LotRO (where you can take any armor and use it as cosmetic armor). This topic would come up in Turbine developer discussions; they never closed the door on the idea.
Hope lived on. Someday! But in the meantime, Knicker lived mostly on the shelf.
Friday, I was playing with a new group of people. A talkative, chattery group of people, one of the happy side effects of expanding one’s social horizons. Someone said something about the rag vendor in Wheloon.
What? What rag vendor? And most importantly, what kind of rags?
But there was no followup. It was a large group with a lot of things to talk about and I was not able to get anything more specific than the fleeting mention of the Wheloon rag vendor. After the quest, I searched the Wiki but couldn’t find it; the information was probably right there but I didn’t know enough about it to ask the question correctly.
More data needed:
Someone in a #DDO group mentioned a starter rag armor kit, earned in Wheloon Prison. Googling yields no hits. Anyone have any more info?
— geoff hanna (@geoffhanna) February 9, 2014
@BonnieBew and @legendkilleroll provided the missing link: there is such a vendor and his name is Fingers the Fence. So armed, it was an easy matter to find the wiki entry and confirm that this vendor sells something called “ragged rags” in return for 20 astral shards (and some other less important stuff that I have already forgotten. Potions I think). But there’s still a trick, he is a fickle of randomness and may or may not appear anywhere in Wheloon Prison.
And so I find myself wandering Knicker about the insides of the prison, hoping to get lucky. I expect to be searching for some time; how weird that I have cleared this wilderness area several times with a variety of characters and never noticed the vendor? Amazingly, Knicker essentially runs directly to him; it doesn’t even take ten minutes to find him. There he is.
A couple of clicks and yes, he does have a Ragged Rags glamered armor kit! The icon looks right too, doesn’t it? A handful of astral shards and yes, it is the Starter Rags!
Who’d have thought it. Something I had been specifically anticipating for years, had been slipped into the game months ago, entirely without my knowledge. Not that I am the be-all and end-all of DDO knowledge, far from it (although that may actually describe Shamgar of DDOCast), but I do follow the game pretty closely.
But not close enough.
Without further delay, I scuttle off between bank and Gianthold, dusting off everything I need to make Knicker an appropriate set of armor, at last! I’ll need more time to redo her entire kit load-out, quite a bit, I get fairly elaborate when I do these things and they take awhile, but now I feel like the effort will pay off; now it is centered around something as practical as it is lovely, even if no one will ever see it. Real armor.
Sneaky Turbine. Sneaking things into the game that are exactly the thing I wanted. Sneaky, sneaky.
But oh so cool.