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Ultima Online Journal Two

One of the more damaging effects of magic's popularity was that many players were weaned on the power and usefulness of magery. When it came time to rebalance the system, read nerf, players were resistant to change and didn't comprehend why magery upset the checks and balances of the game. This topic would be a good segue into the forum warriors section later in the journal, but for now it is only important to note that the game cultivated a feeling of entitlement among mages and set a precedent for how much power you could wield.

Weezer came off the assembly line, shortly after the Energy Bolt nerf, but during the paralyze-lightening -bolt era. If not already obvious, the paralyze era was a time when paralyze was unbreakable and lasted for several minutes. Basically all you had to do was cast paralyze on someone and they were almost completely helpless. At best they could recall away or strike back with spells. Anyone without magic skills was assuredly dead. Which meant even my newbie mage, fresh out of the binary nexus, could take down Grandmaster warriors without breaking so much as a sweat. Also in one of the first of many horrible decisions by OSI, the developers made it so anyone wearing metal armor took double damage from lightening bolt spells.

Basically my fiendish plan was to hide in the pass to Despise, then when someone went past I would paralyze them then fire off a couple lightening bolts. I can't quite remember when OSI implemented recast timers, however, I'm sure it wasn't until sometime in 1998. Since there was no delay between spell casting, I could cast spell after spell in rapid succession. I could have conceivably killed someone before their client even updated them to the fact they were under assault. Simply put, it was ridiculously easy to pick off lone travelers heading to Despise. In my defense, I didn't randomly attack people, I generally waited for known trouble-makers to run by before I launched an attack.

It wasn't hard to spot the 'evil doers'. Anyone who was a thief was a Scoundrel and anyone who was a murder was a Dark Lord. Under the notoriety system, stealing capped out at Scoundrel, so really anyone who was a scoundrel was a thief, because if you did anything worse you'd tip over to Dark Lord or Dread Lord. Killers were dark lords because of a nasty little loophole called the 'Snoop Bug'. If for some reason a player achieved the notoriety of Dread Lord, all he had to do was snoop someone of lower notoriety. This would cause the Dread Lord status to drop down a peg on the infamy scale to Dark Lord. Even though the in game mechanics for punishing killers wasn't working, the players themselves at least knew who were up to no good. Again this is another example of how poor development early led to larger issues later. When players start the game playing with all the points in their favor, it's hard to convince them later that nerfs are necessary. Players are shortsighted by nature, if a player can snap his fingers and kill off another player than that is balanced to the killer. The flip side of the coin of course is the victim will complain to the developers and get the system changed.

My blacksmith was fairly rich, at the time probably one of the richest non-guilded players on the server, but it took a fair amount of toil in the mines and at the forge. With my mage I was making huge sums of cash with very little effort. Every person who fell to my highway robbery had at least something of resale value. Sometimes I would have so much swag, I couldn't even move. It was unsettling how easy I could pillage and plunder the unwary traveler. Anyone reading this today who wasn't in UO in the late 90's or didn't play UO at all probably can't even comprehend just how devastatingly powerful you could be in UO. It was akin to playing God because you could stand there invisible to everyone while picking and choosing who would die, and once you had decided on a victim there was basically nothing that person could do once in the steely grasp of a paralysis spell.

The downside of being a cookie cutter mage was that Weezer was inherently weak of constitution. Once, I died in one hit to an auto attack when I moved too close to my helpless foe. That was embarrassing to say the least. While my attacks were mostly regulated to potential villains, many more roving bands of killers were not so merciful. The area around Despise was a dangerous place. Due to the cluster of non-combat oriented players mining, crafting, and socializing at the mining camp, it was a natural target for player killers (pks). It was not uncommon to see blood-red robed thugs loitering outside of Despise or rushing into the mining camp to slaughter people.

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