It began, as with so many other obsessions, with a single click.
I was visiting EverQuest 2’s Wanderlust Fair in the Darklight Woods when I saw an unusual Gnome. His name was Milton Flunknuttle, and his sole purpose in life was to be a vendor for owlbear vanity pets. So, cool, right? I mean, I saw that and I had to have one. Owls + bears in one terrific package! So long stupid fluttering book that’s my only non-combat pet to date; hello hooting and honey-eating companion!
Except that Milton’s supply of owlbears was “out of stock,” which made me wonder just how much SOE was trying to mess with my head. Out of stock in a digital world… hm… okay, I’ll roll with it. Maybe it’s a once-a-day thing. Maybe I needed to keep checking back to see if his supplier came in. But nothing doing — Milton steadfastly remained out of stock the entire time I was questing in the zone. About the twentieth time I talked to him to check, I knew that I was becoming obsessed.
I didn’t care.
Finally I broke down to check out the wiki and saw that there was a mid-20s quest that he kicks off to resupply those dang owlbears. Since I was 19 at the time, I made a mental note to come back, and headed elsewhere. Fast-forward to yesterday when I returned at the grand level of 23 to see the little feather above his head indicating that I was about to do a whole series of silly tasks.
He sent me into a neighboring zone to talk to another gnome, Millie Flunknuttle (love these gnomish names!), who was a (owl)bear to find. After wandering the zone for an hour and failing to see a quest marker pop up on my map, my guildies educated me in the art of setting waypoints, and everything went smoothly from there. Oh hai, Millie! Gimme some owlbears so I can go back and finally buy one!
Not so fast, Syp, she says. First you gotta go procure a few eggs.
Fine. Eggs. Got it. Anything else?
Yes, you’re going to need to inhabit the body of this clockwork owlbear, go find a momma owlbear, and dance at her until she lays an egg. Rinse and repeat five times.
Yes, seriously. Now shoo!
So here I was last night, dying like crazy because the densely packed mobs in this zone are a couple levels above me and have no compunction against bullying an innocent, egg-searching traveler. I finally found a mother owlbear, got into my owlbear robot, and went up to her and hit the dance button. Nothing. Hit it again. The game tells me that I’m not dancing with enough variety and the owlbear is becoming bored.
What, is this Dance Dance Owlbear?
It turns out that my hotbar now has four dance skills on it, so I start mashing them in a random pattern, watching the two Owlbears sing (huh, not dance? whatever) until the mommabear poops out an egg with the weirdest expression on its face (the owlbear, not the egg). That only took me 40 minutes to do, and I was feeling exhausted from the day — not the dancing — so I called it quits. Then I pondered just how psychotic the quest designers of EQ2 are, and what kind of insane asylum I’ve stumbled into.
But today? I will be back. I will be dancing. I want that pet. That is my life.