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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sosarian Cheater

The first thing I did when I started playing Ultima Online, on the very first day, on the very first minute, I cheated.

Something you should know about playing UO for the first time: It's a lot like being on a Boeing 747 when both pilots have simultaneous heart attacks and you were just looking for the bathroom and you misunderstood what the flight attendant was asking you because you were distracted by your backed-up colon and now flight control is screaming that you have to land the plane or hundreds of people are going to die.

The interface is completely absent until you learn the hot-keys. Your inventory is literally in a pile that you have to sift through to find what you want. All of your skills and stats have no description. There's no tutorial. No tips. If you're outside of town virtually anyone can kill you, and if you're inside town then anyone standing next to you might be a thief who's in the process of stealing your possessions.

Also. The sword you start with is a fake that hits about as hard as a whiffle ball bat covered in feathers.
I don't know what form of dark humor the developers favor, but it's only when you're in the middle of a life-or-death situation will you discover the true nature of your starting weapon.

"Hey!" Some dude riding a horse yelled at me, "You want to make some money?"

I had just dropped into the city of Trinsic, right outside of the Rusty Anchor Inn, and like I said: no tutorials. No tips. I didn't even know how to walk and someone was already propositioning me in front of a seedy, dock-side tavern.

After I figured out how to send a message I told the guy, "Sure!"

"Follow me," The man said and then he rode his horse up the steps and through the front door of the inn. The dude didn't just trot into the building, either. He galloped. He charged into that tavern on a horse going full speed.

(once I figured out how) I followed the man inside the Rusty Anchor Inn. He trotted past the innkeeper, clopped down the hall, and then rode his horse up the stairs to the second floor.

At this point I'm utterly confused. Just the fact that some guy randomly showed up to accost me before I even knew what the hell was going on had left me disoriented. That he was riding a horse through an inn seemed even more bizarre.

We traveled down the hall to the very last room in the Inn.

Inside the room was a wizard wearing a dress.

The wizard didn't talk much. He never did. It's the man on the horse who explained that they wanted my body, or to be more specific, my four extra bodies.

What they're talking about is a simple exploit. Let me explain:

When you create a character, you don't come into the world naked and penniless. You start out with a hundred gold coins and some items, like spell reagents, and an impossibly shitty sword.
You also don't have just one character that you're limited to playing with. The game gives you five character slots, so you could, essentially, create five characters in just a few minutes.

That's five-hundred gold coins and a lot of spell reagents.

The catch is that you have to wait seven days before you can delete your old characters and make new ones, so you can only cheat the system out of so much money in a week.

Can you perform this trick on your own?
Yes, of course.
You just log in, drop your gold somewhere sneaky, like under a bush or behind a tree, then log out, log back in with your main character and collect your reward.

But did I know this at the time?
No, not at all.

The deal worked out that I'd get all the gold and my two business partners would get all the reagents, and it went without a hitch.

My first ten minutes in Sosaria and I was already a small-time crook.

Very small-time.

I'm pretty sure the administrators wouldn't actually give a shit.

But this was the beginning of UO for me. This was a defining moment.
I didn't go out and fight monsters. I didn't run up to better-armed players and beg them for loot. I didn't grab a pick-axe and start mining. The first thing I did in UO was fuck with it, which (in a way) prepared me for my veteran days of UO when, instead of dungeon-crawling or PvPing, I'd rely on exploits to steal a shit-load of loot from people.

Exploits and stealing in UO is a cool topic. I'll bring it up later, when I'm ready to draw another batch of stupid pictures.

Also, as long as I'm going over the wonders of playing UO for the first time, I guess I should mention that after I collected all that money I left the city of Trinsic and, just for the hell of it, I attacked a deer.

And it murdered me.


  1. Ah, UO. I miss those days. Exploits and PKing. Want to use the bank? No problem, walk close and yell BANK (or bind a witty phrase with the word bank in it to a hot key).

    One of my favorite things to do was go grey on purpose. I'd make myself look like a noob and attack an NPC outside of town and hang around the edges. Once some unsuspecting person attacks, I'd slaughter them :)

    Actually, no, my favorite thing to do was prepare trap boxes which explode and kill the person, and then leave them randomly in town and watch as people walk up, consider it, then finally open it (BOOM).

    Thanks for bringing back the memories :) BTW, Trinsic was pretty awesome.. but my favorite "home towns" were Skara Brae and Delucia

  2. My experience with UO was getting murdered a lot. I learned pretty fast that tiny woodland creatures were not just noob fodder like in most MMOs nowadays.

    Before UO, my online experience was PKers in Diablo. Someone lobs a fireball in-game, you just take a step to the left like a matador dodging a bull. NOT THE CASE WITH UO. Those fireballs will track you down for-e-ver! I remember a couple PKers ran out of a house (common PKer hidey-hole) and I zig-zagged around trees for like a minute or so before the fireball caught up with me. It took the PKers about 20 or 30 seconds to find my body after I'd died. One fireball followed me through a portal one time. Or maybe I died and then my corpse went through the portal. Either way... adventuring, I found, was a good way to get murdered.

    I tried tailoring for a while, which was boring. Mining got me PKed a thousand times faster than adventuring ever did.

    The most lucrative thing I remember doing was thieving, at least until they put in the patch where you couldn't steal through walls. I would just sit in that abandoned house just north of the Trinsic bank and steal stuff from passersby. If I got ganked by a guard, I could usually get back to the house without getting looted and grab my stuff back and start all over (so many naked corpses in that house). However, I eventually gave up that spot when I was out-thieved by someone who stole from me from the second floor.

    By the end of my time with UO, I learned to whittle my character down to a very monk-like existence. I tried traveling with very few belongings and keeping a journal of strange/new things that I saw while wandering about... that is until I was PKed and someone looted my book :/