Guide for Vah Shir Beastlords
12 September 2002
The Vah Shir have one of the best starting areas and newbie quest series in the game, and yet I often see level 1 newbies asking for ports off Luclin; this can only be, I feel, the result of a profound ignorance of the area, and a fear of this ignorance being discovered, as well as revealing a reluctance to play Everquest in the roleplaying way that seems to suit it best. I believe that there is an excellent sequence of zones and quests suitable for a roleplaying Vah Shir beastlord, one that gives the best experience in the game for any race/class combination, with very appropriate quests and above average gear. As with all of the newbie quests at the moment, there are still some bugs in the sequence, but unlike the others, the bugs in the Vah Shir quests are not too disruptive (at the young levels). All of the newbie quests suffer from keeping you hunting greens for far too long; the Vah Shir may have you do this less than others.
The Vah Shir also have the potential to progress through their teen levels faster than any other race, thanks to their proximity to Paludal Caverns. Most people know Paludal only for the bandit camps next to the Shadowhaven entrance, but the Shadeweavers and Hollowshade entrances can take you from 6 all the way up to 24 with a very smooth progression, and very rapidly thanks to the experience bonus Paludal offers.
Another important point is that money is very scarce in the Vah Shir areas, and players used to more generous loot elsewhere (plague rat tails dropping from level 1 rats, for instance) will be surprised. You have to learn to manage your resources intelligently, and sufficient money will come. Shamans, with expensive spells to purchase, will suffer the most, but there is no reason that a beastlord should feel any pinch.
With most classes (druid and shaman, for example) when soloing I adopt a strict strategy of taking one dark blue at a time; with a beastlord, I can confidently take on a white, or several dark blues, and often yellows. Beastlords can solo with confidence, certainly well into their thirties and forties (I can't comment about any higher - yet).
Because of the nature of the Vah Shir and their starting area, Shar Vahl, a lot of this information applies to other Vah Shir classes - but I have only run a beastlord there (well, and a bard; and had a lot of input from a Vah Shir shaman), so I can't entirely vouch for its accuracy for classes other than beastlord.
One of the best aspects of the beastlord class only shows up in higher levels - they are the best class for corpse runs. A naked beastlord hits nearly as hard as the best weapons, and has only slightly worse defense capabilities than when fully equipped.
Refer to: http://www.brentcopeland.com/beastlord/bigchart.html for a good list of beastlord spells and skills. These quests have reasonable walk throughs at: http://www.eqtraders.com/quests/quests.htm (more accurate and complete than those at Allakhazam).
This guide stops at level 24; I may extend it later to cover hunting and quests for Vah Shir beastlords on Luclin.
I generally stick with the suggestions given on eq.castersrealm.com for new classes; so do as they advise and stick all your points into wisdom, as this directly affects your spell casting abilities once you get them, and will be the most beneficial at higher levels. Otherwise, you have no real choices that will affect your character in any meaningful way.
The character creation screen suggest that stamina, agility, wisdom and charisma are all important for beastlords; which seems like very suspicious advice to me.
Once your character is created, you will appear in the beastlord guild area. Before doing anything else, equip your weapon, and read your starting note, which will tell you to give the note to your guildmaster. Do this, and you will be given the starting instructions for the citizenship quest that every Vah Shir has to pursue, and is required for most other training quests in Shar Vahl - and takes you straight to level 2. While you are in front of your guildmaster, put five training points in your starting weapon skill, piercing (but if you have access to better weapons immediately, skip piercing and train in H2H or 1HB, as these are generally better all round weapon types for beastlords).
If you haven't already, configure your Sense Heading ability to train automatically. This is a blessing when you come to navigate around Shar Vahl.
Outside is a room full of scribes selling shaman and beastlord spells, with a door to the left leading to the arena, and the warriors and rogues guilds; and to the right, a door leading to the main palace.
Citizenship and learning Shar Vahl (Level 1 - 2)
Objectives: learn Shar Vahl, containers
One of the objectives of the citizenship quest is presumably to get you familiar with the layout of Shar Vahl; to cut this short, it helps to know that there is a basic symmetry to its plan - the palace in the centre (and to the west), a high class merchant area to the east of the palace with the arena at the far east, and slum/merchant areas to both the north and south of the central merchant area. From the north slum leads a bridge to Hollowshade, and from the south slum a bridge to Shadeweavers. At the far end of either bridge you can climb down into the pit underneath Shar Vahl.
Your guild leader has sent you to Registrar Bindarah, who is in a building adjacent to the south gate. She in turn will send you to the tax collector, in the bank in the central merchant district, and to Mignah, who is upstairs in a tavern next to the north gate. From there you return to Bindarah, who will send you to see King Raja in the palace, and then to return to your guild master. At this point the experience given from this quest will have made you level 2 already (this did the first time I ran it, but didn't the second).
While exploring Shar Vahl, you should start the basic trade skill quests appropriate for beastlords, all of which require you to hand over your citizenship slate. The beastlord claws quest starts in the beastlord guild, with Animist Poren (270, 50) once you have returned with your slate; you will be given your first container for this quest, the beastlord sewing kit. Beastlords should also do the tailoring quest, which starts with Broker Fahaar (225, -25) in the narrow corridor between the palace and the merchant district, and gives a container (you will need a total of 16 young rockhopper hides for this). There is also a fletching quest, which may or may not be useful for beastlords - see Rytan (-400, 400) in the south merchant area to start this, and which also gives you a container.
All these quests will have given you a long list of items to collect. Young rockhopper hides, which drop from needle clawed hoppers and young rockhoppers in the pit, xakra teeth from xakra worms in the pit, and shadeling silks from Xakra worms/larvae. You should also have a couple of containers to use to store all these items you must collect.
While you are exploring the city, you may notice a young Vah Shir female called Shainai walking around - hail her, and follow instructions. You should end up with a little money, plus a compass. With care, you can sell this compass for 2pp, by going to the right merchants. If you need money, this quest can be repeated, which is most easily done by waiting on the palace steps for Shainai to turn up.
Once you get bored with all this, which will happen very quickly, the question is, where to start hunting? You can start in the pit, or can go out into shadeweavers; as the newbie area in shadeweavers is slightly safer, and shadeweavers, in contrast to Shar Vahl, is brightly lit, I prefer shadeweavers to start.
First hunting in Shadeweavers (Levels 2 - 3)
Objectives: Scavengers Pack, Ghulam gloves (, Bloodling Shield)
Out in Shadeweavers, you will see a path leading between a few tents and buildings; all of this area is mostly safe, as far as the sentry at the crossroads; the best newbie hunting is to the left as you leave the city; the bank and two merchants are on the right.
Before doing anything else, find Faer Shahar and talk to him - if you collect four items of garbage, which appear throughout the zone, including on the path and in the newbie area, and give them to him, you will get a Scavengers Bag in return. Make this a priority if you don't have any other containers yet. The garbage looks like small sacks on the ground, and seem to take on the background coloration rather more than normal dropped items do. The garbage is no rent, which means that you must collect and hand in all four pieces in a single playing session, otherwise it will disappear when you log out.
The basic hunting strategy is to select a target and autoattack - no subtlety required. Guards will protect you from anything in the zone apart from Loda Kai poachers. When you get your kick skill (at level 5 - return to your guild and train one point as soon as you reach this) put it on a hot key, and use it in combat every time it becomes available. It won't make much difference at the level you get it, but it is a valuable additional attack every three or four combat tics. Don't be afraid to die - below level 10, you lose nothing and respawn with all your items, and can often rush back into the fray and kill off whatever killed you.
Kill hoppers, worms and bloodlings, saving everything that they drop. You will need shadeling silk and hopperhides for tailoring, which is essential for your beastlord quest; needle claws are also useful for tailoring, and bloodling carapaces will be used for the shield quest. Rarely the bloodlings will also drop mandibles, of which you will need four. If you run short of room, put excess baggage into the bank, which is conveniently located in the zone. When you have enough mandibles, talk to Kaza Raj, close to the Shar Vahl entrance - he is the contact point for all of the Ghulam armor quests. If you stay longer in Shadeweavers and have magic weapons, you can also kill nuisances here; they drop cloth armor (usually just a cap) and small amount of cash.
Turn in needle claws from the hoppers to the tailoring merchant, Tiamon Aroo; he will return you a single stackable needle for each set of four claws. He also will give you the best prices to sell your loot of the two in zone merchants. You can also discover how to make Shadowed Hopperhide armor from him - this is easy, fun, and looks cool; but is nowhere near as good as Ghulam armor, although it is a step up from basic tattered hopperhide armor.
Bloodling carapaces can be collected and combined in a special container, a shield frame, that you can buy from Master Barkhem, in the smith merchant in the NW of the merchant area; do not combine your collection of carapaces just yet, until you have completed the whisperling quest in the pit later, which gives you a slightly better shield.
Without money, you still have a free source of food and drink: you can forage payala berries under the trees by the merchants, and turn them in to one of the merchants for drink - which is also saleable for small amounts, and is an excellent source of faction for non-vah shir who wish to do Shar Vahl quests.
By now, you may have some things to sell; compare prices with the different merchants, as they vary considerably. The best price in Shadeweavers will be offered by Tiamon Aroo (of the two merchants); in Shar Vahl, Chiale at the city end of the south bridge is always good, and Gherik Alarhun in the pottery merchant in the inner area may have even better prices for some items.
The Pit (Levels 2 - 6)
Objectives: Beastlord handwraps and claws, Cloak of the Khati Sha Recruit, padded cloth armor, Kick
Your first objective will be to make your starting claw wraps, as directed by Poren. Assuming that your tailoring skill is high enough, this will take 12 silks from xakra worms; some you will have collected already. Combining silks into threads takes two silks each, and is a combine that never fails. This will take your tailoring skill up to 15 with enough combines. Keep collecting silk and making threads until you have reached this level. Then combine pairs of threads to make silk bandages, of which you will need three to attempt your handwraps. Bandages can take your skill up to 21. Three bandages combined will make handwraps - this may not succeed at first attempt, in which case you need to try again. The handwraps can be worn as gloves until you get your Ghulam gloves in Shadeweavers, if you haven't already. Trivial for handwraps is at least 26.
You can use practice points to raise your skill level to 21 in tailoring; however, I don't recommend this, because you will collect more than enough silks to raise your skill to 15 by making threads alone, and you will want to conserve practice points for later, much higher levels.
The next stage in the claws quest requires you to collect 2 young hopper claws (from young rockhoppers), and four scorpion legs to create forged fasteners; these come from Kagazz, outside the smithy, in the inner merchant area. Combine fasteners, claws and handwraps in the sewing kit to make your claws; trivial is supposed to be over 40, so this may need repeating - check the trade skills section below for ways to get your tailoring skill as high as possible before making the attempt. On failure, the handwraps are returned, so you only need to regather scorpion legs and young rockhopper claws. Returning these claws to Poren along with your starter cloak, and you will get a cloak upgrade.
In the pit, kill everything - hunting a single type of mob will lead to it being replaced by new spawns of mobs that you aren't hunting. So if something is in short supply, exterminate beetles, whose supply never runs dry. Xakra worms seem to be commonest around the south gate area; young rockhoppers around the north gate. Collect the no drop poison glands from whiptail scorpions first - as soon as you have 4, go up into Shar Vahl to give them to Spiritist Ragnar (in the alchemist store, next to the bank), who will give you basic padded cloth armor in return; sell any bits you don't need.
If you see a yellow named scorpion (Tailfang), avoid it at first, as it is tough, higher level than it looks, and can summon you to it when you run, something that normally only level 50+ mobs can do.
Collect scorpion carapaces - these are required for the tailoring quest later, and also for the earring quest from Dharr Nadim (-350, 100) in the southern trade slum.
It may also be worth collecting worm meat (from xakra worms) and handing in to the cooks in the palace; you get a small amount of money, and a wooden practice weapon (which you can sell) for four.
Also collect beetle eyes and xakra teeth (the latter for the fletching quest). I never managed to collect enough eyes to complete the quest, from one of the guards on the bridges (Khala Dun Bokh).
As soon as you reach level 5, go back to your guild and put one practice point into kick; put this on a hot button, and use it in combat whenever it becomes ready.
Whisperlings (Level 4 - 6)
Objectives: Frostweavers Shield, Scorpialis
There are a couple of relatively complicated quests based in the pit that round out your time hunting there, and bring you into Shadeweavers, both revolving around whisperlings. Running around the pit, you may have noticed 'a whisperling casts a spell' as you pass by an illuminated stone just west of the south bridge.
You should talk to the following people: Dar Khura Shavra (in the pit, south edge), Groo McManus (Shadeweavers, in building near exit); Spiritist Ragnar (shop next to bank); Spiritist Grawleh (shaman guild in palace). After talking to the first two, you will be able to find the whisperling; take it to Dar Khura Shavra for instructions. You will also want a bloodling carapace along the way, and many of the intermediate items you are given are no rent, and will be lost if you camp without completing this quest series. At the end, you will have a special carapace, that can be used in one of Master Barkhem's shield frames to make a Frostweaver's Shield. This is a very worthwhile quest for Beastlords and shamans, as along the way rewards are the spells scrolls for Strengthen, Flash of Light, and Endure Cold; you can also get Burst of Flame (shaman, not beastlord) by giving a needle-thin claw from rockhoppers to Groo McManus in Shadeweavers.
You are also given a hint that Scorpialis is the name of another whisperling; which is also the name of the weapon you get from killing Tailfang and taking the tail to Dar Khura Pyjek, in the pit under the south bridge.
Another hint you are given is that there may be an upgrade to the shield possible by hunting Shak Dratha; to the best of my knowledge, this hasn't yet been completed - the Xakra shield mentioned by Rawleh may drop from guards at the Shak Dratha camp near the trader cave entrance.
Back in the Shade (Levels 5 - 8)
Objectives: Ghulam boots, claws upgrade(, Hunting boots)
By this time you will be level 4 or 5, and the newbie area mobs will have started to turn green. This is time to move on to lesser shades, skeletal hunters, swarmers and saurek hoppers, which will mainly be found, as well as some higher level mobs, to the north of the tents and merchants. Collect shadowed claws from the lesser shades for another piece of ghulam armor from Kaza Raj.
It may be worthwhile saving claws and scales from all the various saurek types for some other quest armor items and weapons - but I didn't find them any better than the basic Ghulam armor. See Captain Tarief for the scales and Hunting Leather items. There is also a quest series involving collecting jawbones from shades and other skeletons; talk to Spiritist Karina; these also aren't any better than Ghulam, and the jawbones are very rare.
By this time you should have collected a few high quality hopper hides; these are used in the next stage of the claws quest. If you haven't already, deliver the seal given to you by Poren to Mahron Sood, near the bank, and in turn deliver his map to Kery Miann, upstairs in the tailoring vendor. Use the stone blade she gives you to cut 2 straps from HQ hides; give them to her with your claws, and you are given new claws, plus a note for Hollowshade that won't be worth delivering until you reach 15.
Round about level 7, gaining experience starts to slow; you don't have the additional skills to make combat with whites and yellows easy any more, and fighting dark blues will become tougher - and you will notice that these are becoming scarcer, until the brigands and thugs are feasible targets. If so, see my comments about Paludal for a quick boost to your levels.
Warder and Spells Strategy (level 9)
By the time that lesser shades start to turn green, and skeletal hunters light blue, you should have reached level 9 and your warder. Your warder is summoned by casting the appropriate warder level buff spell (at 9, Spirit of Sharik).
As soon as you get your warder, return to your guild and put one training point in each of the magic skills (six of them), and purchase spells. You will want Spirit of Sharik, and Inner Fire; the others aren't essential at this level. Note that Flash of Light is not available in Shar Vahl from the spell vendors, you have to do the whisperling quest to get get it; the closest other point to obtain it is from the Cleric guild in Shadowhaven, which is not reachable without assistance until your mid-twenties. Flash of Light is the next spell to obtain, but not absolutely essential. The other spells are worth having, but not if you are short of money. Cure Disease is available at level 9, and doesn't show up on all spell lists - this is essential if you are going to Paludal to cure Creeping Crud from the fiends. Use the pet window, and learn the following commands effects: /pet attack, /pet guard here, /pet follow me and /pet back off. You may want to drag these off the panel to make hot buttons. I don't disable taunting with a beastlord pet (I do with shadow knight pets only), as their taunting can be valuable to help pull a mob off another group member at times. One command that is missing from the pet panel that you should put on a hot key is '/pet report health'. This tells you what buffs are active on your pet at any time, in case you miss the messages when buffs drop.
In Shadeweavers, all you will need do is cast your pet and buff it, then run around and let it assist you in any fights. You will find it hits for more damage if it hits from the back of a mob, so try to maneuvre round in any fights for best position. More advanced strategies will come into play in Paludal and Hollowshade, where there is less safe room to skirmish. Always cast Inner Fire on your pet, plus the proc buff Spirit of Lightning when you have it (at 15). I haven't noticed Strength making a difference on my warder. At this level, don't bother to practice your casting skills, as until you get meditate, the process of training takes too long; you will not run short of mana at this point, so just treat it as a useful bonus when you remember to cast. Note that I didn't recommend collecting either healing spell (self or pet) as a priority - this is because Inner Fire has a better healing effect on you, and your pet regenerates very rapidly - and if your pet is that low in combat that healing is required, you are better off to step in and melee to take the hits yourself. Both Inner Fire and Minor Healing cost 10 mana to cast; Inner Fire is slower, but heals for 20 hit points, whereas Minor Healing only heals for 10.
Bandits and Warders (Level 8 - 14)
Objectives: Ghulam Bracers, Sleeves, Cap and Pants, Talisman of the Flame, Hero's Shroud
As soon as you reach 10, go and train one point in dodge; then at 12, in meditate.
Once skeletal brigands and Loda Kai brigands turn dark blue, it is time to earn the rest of your Ghulam armor. Brigands of both types will drop skulls, and live brigands also drop earrings; collect four of each. Thugs drop insignia, and are slightly higher level than most brigands. Any Loda Kai can drop the rather rare remains, which should be collected for another quest, for the Talisman of Flame (see Hymnist Omiyad). The live Loda Kai will also give you your first experience of getting money from a kill. Recently I haven't seen the earrings drop at all, which sounds like a bug.
All of these, and poachers too, can be found most frequently in the area of land between the Gor Taku camp (just follow the path from the crossroads sentry to the West), the skeletal brigand camp (further northwest from there), and some point roughly half way from that base line northwards towards the Paludal entrance.
By the time that you are happy to pull brigands and thugs from the skeletal camp, poachers will also be good hunting. These are found most commonly in the valley between the brigand camp and the entrance to the trader cave (towards the Gor Taku camp), and on the higher ground just north of this. From poachers, collect poached hides for the Champions Cape quest, and ruined cat pelts should you need any for tailoring. The weapons they drop should be given to beastlord newbies if at all possible, as they only sell for a couple of silver. Talk to Sentry Ferrin, near the zone entrance from Shar Vahl, to start the quest for the Hero's Shroud.
The last of the ghulam armor pieces come from collecting saurek fangs, which are dropped by saurek claw beasts (around level 14); you will need four. These spawn sometimes in the bandit camp, and can also be found in the north-south plain west of the path leading to the Paludal entrance. Bloodbulks are also in this area, but are extremely rare, as well as extremely tough, and don't often drop carapaces, which are for the ghulam tunic. I have heard that bloodbulks spawn in the cave system near the Paludal entrance, so if you are set on a tunic, try killing bugs in here until they spawn - I haven't had a chance to verify this.
Trader Cave (Level 14 - 16)
Objective: Blessed Champion's Cape
At some point you will have a full set of Ghulam armor, apart from the tunic, with tattered rockhopper hide filling out all the gaps, and quite probably a hero's shroud on your shoulders from the poached hides. Now it is time to concentrate on the Champions Cape, which requires two more hero's shrouds, plus three Loda Kai blood. To get this, you will need to deal with the traders cave. Talk to Priestess Bast, in the rocks to the left of the Shar Vahl exit first.
There are two realistic strategies to cope with the cave, and some combination of these is probably best. First, if you attempt to pull anything at all from the cave while standing on the ledge - try casting flash of light or sicken on any mob near the ledge - you will get all of the poachers from the cave rushing you. If this isn't expected, you will need to zone into Shar Vahl, as the guards won't protect you from poachers. So you can tell your pet to guard here in the entrance tunnel, and pull the poachers to this point and dispatch them. At lower levels (you'll probably be attempting this from 12 - 14), you will need a group, with at least two others of similar levels; with your warder upgrade, this may be possible to solo pull at 15. The other strategy also requires a group, although it may be possible with just a shaman partner. As the mobs in the cave don't usually wander, if you can dispatch them one at a time quickly, you won't get others joining in - a shaman to keep them rooted is a very good idea. Make sure you brief the shaman well beforehand, as most shamans at this level still think that they are a melee class, and aren't mentally prepared enough to chain cast root - which they will need to do, as it will break a lot. Combining these two strategies to kill a couple of poachers first (if they are on the spawns closest to the ramp), then pull the remaining poachers to the foot of the ramp and take the traders one by one, should lead to you getting all the blood required, as well as any remaining hides, in a very brief time.
Hollowshade (Level 14/15 - 40)
Objective: Cloak of the Khati Shah Apprentice
Hollowshade is much tougher than Shadeweavers; it isn't worth fighting in until level 15, and your pet upgrade. Mobs in Hollowshade are also undercon, and fighting blues here will be much harder for that reason, and so give poorer experience than is possible elsewhere. Your next quest stage will involve talking to Rittuh Purrik and collecting hopper tails; these are another uncommon drop. Make sure you also collect hides and hopper claws. Report back to Kery Miann, who will send you to collect a glowing muckdigger heart from Paludal - and head straight back into Hollowshade.
In front of the outpost rhinobeetles and rockhoppers pass by frequently; the guards will protect you from these, so tell your pet to guard here about half way from the gates to the path, and pull to your pet.
Behind the outpost, in the palms and up the ridge, you should normally find owlbears; mostly cubs, but some much tougher. If the war is in progress, these may be replaced by sonic wolves or grimlings; I have only seen owlbears there on two days ever (while levelling one beastlord slowly and carefully), and grimlings the rest of the time. These can be pulled back towards the outpost, but be careful of the guards, who may pass through the outpost walls to KS you. The guards don't seem to attack owlbears, however, although I can't be certain of this.
There are two high level (about 38 - 40) mobs that roam in this area, and are highly aggressive: Dirtchomp, a giant rockhopper, and Gorehorn, a giant beetle. Keep well clear; they are highly magic resistant as well as tough.
Your mission now is to collect two molars from sonic wolf cubs; later stages of the beastlord and tailoring quests will require owlbear and sonic wolf parts - these won't be possible to collect if the war is stuck as usual. I have been unable to reach past this stage. To reach the sonic wolf sector of the zone, rather than use the path, I suggest you run south almost to the Paludal entrance, and follow the lake edge to cross the stream, then work your way back up. There should be a number of cubs and wolflings in the area between the two streams, with fewer of the higher wolfs, so this should be a good area to hunt. Be warned that molars are a rare drop.
As you reach 17, return to your guild and train one point in dual wield.
Warder and Spells Strategy (level 15)
As you reach 15, a new set of spells is available to you - return to your guild and get them. As well as any old spells from level 9 that you haven't yet purchased, you will want Spirit of Khaliz, Spirit of Lightning, Blast of Frost, Sicken, Scale Skin, Strengthen, and Fleeting Fury; the others are less useful. You won't be able to find Sense Animals, as far as I know it is only available from Ranger/Druid guilds; this is a very useful spell, but only really in outdoor zones when you are farming pelts! Note that you can buy a stack of snake scales from Ragnar's shop to power Scale Skin. It is now going to be worth your while practicing casting to max your skills; use the lowest level spell in each group that you can cast, and cast on a corpse - it is worth finding one just to practice on. Use at least a full charge of mana at each level; improving skills will reduce fizzles, and make you more effective.
To attack using your new spells, make sure first that your pet (level 16, and yellow to you!) has Spirit of Khaliz, Spirit of Lightning, and Inner Fire; Strengthen may or may not have a beneficial effect. You should have Inner Fire, possibly Scale Skin, and Strengthen. Cast Fleeting Fury on your pet immediately before pulling, or while the mob is incoming. Pull using Sicken, and step back to cast Blast of Frost a few times once your pet is taking the mobs aggro. This hardly makes much difference at this stage, but will be extremely good practice for later levels, as well as keep your evocation skill up. If you let your pet do much tanking for you, and this is an excellent idea at levels 15 and 16, keep a close eye on health, and be prepared to heal if necessary.
In an outdoor zone with roaming mobs, it is generally acceptable to run up to a mob and start fighting, expecting your pet to join in, or even to tell your pet to attack while you hold back for a last minute cast of Fleeting Fury, or to place a dot. However, in some zones this will leave you in the path of roaming mobs, and so is not good practice. For static mobs, and dungeons, this will get you killed quickly. Instead, find a good spot free of mobs and wanderers not too far from those you want to hunt, and tell your pet to guard a few feet back from where you want to fight. This is because your pet will rush forward when you take damage, if you are close enough. It will take a little practice to find out what distances work best. Pull with Sicken if possible; this does very minor damage, but the disease counter hinders normal regeneration while it is active (I believe).
When both you and your pet are in melee range, mobs will only attack you (this applies to any player). I have only ever seen pets take aggro when a mage pet is fighting alongside our pet (this may apply to necromancer pets as well, but I haven't had the opportunity to find out). Unless you are below the magic 20 - 30% hit points level, or have done something else to increase aggro, aggro will normally stay with your pet as you move back. During the course of a fight, manage the damage that both you and your pet are taking by moving in and out of melee range. Back off and heal yourself at a suitable level - depending on mana and other factors, I may set this at anywhere from 60 - 80% in good circumstances, or 40% in an emergency. Your pet will take a lot more damage when you aren't in melee, so if your pet is below 40%, heal your pet first. The pet heal spell is fast and heals for a reasonable amount (almost 30% for the level 16 pet), and has the added bonus of curing disease.
If you are fighting in Paludal, many mobs are positioned just outside the assist radius of each other, but are otherwise very tightly positioned. This means that if you pull them back to a safe spot, you will usually aggro several at a time, and will be in danger of getting adds from respawning. So instead, it can be a good idea to fight the mob in place; this applies to everywhere in Paludal apart from the bandit camps and fiends. Because most mobs don't run (exception: glowing muck diggers), by standing almost on top of the mob before causing aggro, it will be effectively locked in place when combat starts, and won't get any assist - for most spawn locations.
Warder and Spells Strategy (level 22)
At 19, you will have been able to get Serpent Sight and Tiny Companion (Plane of Knowledge only); neither of these are very useful, unless you often group with a human/erudite. At 22, you get a new pet (level 22), a proc buff (Spirit of the Blizzard), a agility buff (increases your armor class as well as reduces fatigue, so essential), a better heal (still not as mana efficient as Inner Fire, but much faster), a dot upgrade (Tainted Breath) and your first slow (Drowsy). The remaining two spells are both useful, Summon Drink and Endure Poison, and by this point you should be able to afford them all. Endure Disease will become available for you at level 24. The various pet proc buffs all cause your pet to proc a direct damage for increasing amounts (62 - 82 for the first 3 buffs) - but are based against different resists, and the higher buffs last for longer durations (40 to 44 minutes) and higher mana cost (50 - 70).
Always cast Drowsy on all mobs you will be meleeing, always. At first, you may have some trouble casting Tainted Breath unless you have been practicing a lot, but Sicken should still be reliable to cast. I usually choose to pull with Drowsy at this point, but that assumes that Tainted Breath is a reliable cast; if it isn't, I'd probably swap the two around. In either case, I'd cast one to pull, and the second on incoming - for a marginal mob I need them slowed, and dotted as well if possible.
Paludal (Level 8 - 24)
Paludal is a dungeon zone (with a hefty experience bonus, some say perhaps 35%) that is very well laid out for Vah Shir starting from both Shadeweavers and Hollowshade entrances.
It is probably best to start at level 8, although 7 or even 6 is certainly possible, at the Shadeweavers entrance. To reach it, follow the path north from Shar Vahl, and drop into the cave; in there, take the first left turn, then the next two right turns. Beware of the diggers in there - they are tougher than the mobs inside Paludal, and are both aggressive and social. So just run by them without stopping, making full use of the tunnel sides to stay out of reach. Inside Paludal you will find a series of mud burrowers and mud diggers; these too are social, but they are not aggressive, and most of the spawns in the first tunnel can be taken one at a time - if you find you pull two, run to the zone to lose aggro, and zone straight back in. The first pond area has slightly higher level bugs and lower reishi, and includes a couple of reishi spawns - these hit a lot harder, but are non-social. If you are at the lower level range, some of the reishi will be dark blue and suitable, as well as those in the first tunnel to your right. Keep on going, but stop as soon as you see the fiends ahead in the next couple of pond areas. Moving up and down this corridor will take you to 12 with ease.
When too many of the mobs are light blue, so that you can't continually move from one dark blue to the next, it is time to try the Hollowshade entrance. Go back through Shadeweavers and Shar Vahl into Hollowshade; be very careful there, as mobs are social and aggressive, and much higher level. Run straight north along the higher zone sides to the lake. There you will see a cave entrance at the east extreme of the lake, with a short tunnel leading to the Paludal zone line. You will need to swim a short distance to climb onto the rocks leading into the cave; run in and zone if you have collected a train of beetles.
The first tunnel here is very profitable for experience at this level, and full of muck diggers and some grime tunnelers with a single, slightly tougher, reishi. Glowing muck diggers are tougher (about level 14) and much more social, but will drop a glowing heart stone for the latest stage of your beastlord cloak quest; you can do this at 14, or with ease at 15. Be warned that glowing muck diggers run when low, which can cause a lot of adds. The normal muck digger hearts are for a shaman quest. Move up and down this passage until they turn light blue (probably around 16). This passage can support two small groups, although it is also popular with power levellers unfortunately.
Next, move to the end of the passage in sight of the fiends. All will be dark blue. Some can be easily single pulled, although you will get twos and threes at times. Work out which points will do which - the obvious single pull is the one to the right of the entrance, but the two on rocky points can also be single pulled, provided they are dealt with in order. The fiend to the left will usually bring three at a time. Fiends will get you to 18 easily and quickly, and they drop some reasonable loot.
When too many are light blue, it is time to move into the next corridor beyond the fiends. If you use sneak and stay high on the walls, it is unlikely that they will attack. Remember to con a test fiend before moving; if it is indifferent, then your sneak is working. In this corridor, there are grime tunnelers, sediment delvers, and more reishi. The bugs are mostly too close together to safely single pull, plus there are wanderers that can make a safe single into three or more. For this reason, the reishi are a better target. A duo can fight reishi in a continual stream with no downtime from 20 - 24 with ease. There is a single outcast shiknar to the right that will aggro; it also double hits, so take care; until you have levelled up a couple of times it may do enough damage to cause you to take extra downtime for healing and meditation, although you will be able to take it as a dark blue easily.
If you get bored with this group of reishi, move along the corridors killing shiknar; you will eventually end up at the Reishicyben. Collect Shiknar legs (which stack) and carapaces, as these fetch the best cash; a single trip can easily pay you 20 platinum. Shiknar will turn light blue as you reach 23/24, but the reishi will still turn up as dark blue a reasonable proportion of the time. At this point, you will be able to walk in front of plerg fiends with immunity, but patog fiends, in the inner caves, will still aggro unless you sneak, so a trip to Shadowhaven becomes feasible as you reach 24. They will stop aggroing on you when you reach level 30.
During your time in Paludal you will need to leave to sell up, and will want to spend time in Shadeweavers and Hollowshade to complete your class quests; it makes a pleasant change to be able to alternate between zones, at some times concentrating on quests, and at other times on levelling. Remember that it is more satisfying to do the quests in Shadeweavers and Hollowshade at a point when you still get experience from killing the quest mobs. Check my notes for the other zones to see when you should be training new skills.
Trade skills are an important part of the development of every Vah Shir; for beastlords, tailoring is essential, and fletching may also be attractive. With any trade skill, you can put in practice points to raise the level to 21, and no further; unlike other skills, the first practice point only ever takes you to 1 in the skill. With some skills, such as jewellry, putting in the full 21 points is strongly recommended; this doesn't apply to the Vah Shir skills.
Tailoring is useful to make patchwork armor to fill in the gaps at newbie levels; it can also make weight reduction bags at higher skill levels. However, a skill in tailoring is essential to make the beastlord claws, and later will be required to a high level to make the sonic wolf bane weapons and the Champion's Cape. As silk threads are a no fail combine, you should use these (recipe is to combine two shadeling silks in your beastlord tailoring kit to make one thread) to raise your skill level to 15 before attempting anything else. Then use the threads you have created to make first bandages, then your handwraps. Bandages should become trivial at 21; handwraps have a much higher trivial (probably 25 or more). Then use purchased patterns, from the merchant in Shadeweavers, to make tattered hopperhide armor for yourself and friends from damaged hopperhides, to raise your skill to 26. Save all quality (low, medium and high) hopperhides for later stages in the quests.
By this time you will have started the tailoring quest from Broker Fahaar. The rough belt strap requires a medium quality hide, and trivials at 31 (??); unfortunately, the belts don't stack, so you can't just churn these out until the trivial is reached, while saving them for the next step of skilling up. Skill raises seem to slow as you approach the trivial, so swap to other items with higher trivials. The next stage from the quest is to make a black chitin belt and a bone beaded belt. These require items from the pit (I assume - having never found grimling finger bones yet, either from the pit or from Hollowshade); and will boost skill to 41?? and 56?? respectively. Before making these, try the thin leather straps required for the beastlord claws quest from Kery Miann (trivial > 41); these require high quality pelts. The best approach to follow depends on how many of the various hides you have accumulated; to add to the mix, the most useful other tailoring recipes for skilling up in Shar Vahl are weight reducing tailored bags: a large bag needs skill level 41, and uses a medium quality hide plus a silk cord (combine three silk threads to make the cord). At trivial level 88 is a tailored back pack - this can sell in Bazaar for 40 - 100pp, so treasure any you make, and try to use other recipes to skill up on; a backpack requires a backpack pattern (from the Shadeweavers vendor) plus a high quality hide.
Other tailoring items with higher trivials for the tailoring quest require the Hollowshade Moor zone to be in a stable state - something that I have not seen over a two month period.
The fletching quest starts with Merchant Rytan, who wants you to collect 24 xakra teeth, which drop exclusively in the pit; fortunately, reasonably commonly. After collecting that many teeth, he will also have given you 12 xakra teeth darts, and you can learn how to make them. Each dart requires a xakra tooth, so more collecting is in order; and a bone shard. Three bone shards are made from one grimling femur, dropped from grimling skeletons in the pit (rarely). Because of the scarcity of femurs, I chose to skip this stage without fully skilling up, and the next stage which requires grimling teeth (which I have never seen drop), and progress to the final level of making rockhopper claw darts - from rockhopper claws, which drop in Hollowshade. It is possible that the teeth drop from grimlings in the south of Hollowshade; which would be curious, as they are higher level than the rockhoppers for the final stage of this quest.
As always, try to start these quests at a stage when you will gain experience from collecting the items required - otherwise the more standard way of skilling up on Norrath, which involves buying all the ingredients, will be more attractive. Tailoring is especially frustrating in this regard, as the only possibly path to skilling up involves collecting drops, and tailoring drops are especially rare - I have yet to see a grimling finger bone, for example. I believe they are to be found from grimlings in Hollowshade.
For pottery, brewing, and most likely fletching, baking and smithing, a judicious mix of quest skill ups and purchased item skill ups will give the most satisfaction. Treat the skill quests as a way of substituting some (a lot) of your hunting time against the shortage of money in the Shar Vahl area. As well as www.eqtraders.com, see the trade skills guides written by Xanthe, at www.geocities.com/shadowknight57/.
Armor: the Field Priests Alternative
Ghulam armor is excellent, and is certainly the best to get if you can. However, unless you choose to level in Shadeweavers, it will be hard to get, and sometimes the drops required are just too scarce. This applies to the tunic most of all, which just isn't reasonable to get. Bracers and boots are the easiest, with the remaining items of intermediate difficulty. However, there is an alternative set of armor that a Vah Shir beastlord can get without any faction work; which is the Halas Field Priest's armor. This consists of a pair of bracers, a kilt, a cap, claws and a tunic. They aren't as good as the Ghulam items, but the claw is an extra not in the Ghulam set - at 5/24, it isn't great, and drops in Shadeweavers are probably better. If you have Planes of Power, it is also easy to step from Shadeweavers into Everfrost. Just head in to Halas, and to the beastlord guild - to the left, turn right past the bank, then past the shaman guild.
The quest NPC only tells you what is required as you provide each item, so to save a lot of zoning, this is it: 2 white wolf pelts, 4 ice goblin necklaces, 6 spiderling silks (made into 3 threads) and a large tattered cap (buy in Mac's Kilts or make one yourself), a gnoll fang, a giant snake fang, and a wrath orc wristband. Most of these items can be found in the newbie area in Everfrost. For the tunic, which requires just the wristband, you need to kill snow orc troopers out in the plains past Bandl Mc Larrin. The two fangs are for the claws, and are easily obtained in Blackburrow, if you know where the snake ledge is. For the newbie area drops, you can easily get all that is required at level 2 or 3; for Blackburrow, you should be 10 or more, unless you can buy the giant snake fang, in which case you can get the gnoll fang at 6, or even lower if you just loot corpses outside. I am not sure what level is required to kill the troopers.
My basic gear strategy for any melee/hybrid class is to raise armor class as early as possible (and I mean before level 10), followed by better weapons; then for a hybrid class like a beastlord, work on the classes primary casting attribute, which is wisdom. The most cost effective way of raising wis is to buy player made jasper rings and a ruby veil; I have found that platinum is more cost efficient that velium, but your mileage may vary on this. You should aim for 200 wis by 40, which is very achievable if you purchase acrylia studded and reinforced armor from players, using money made from selling acrylia looted in Dawnshroud - a very satisifying trade to make. If possible, take your other main attributes to 100+ by this stage as well: str, sta, agi and dex. Your next stage in development will be to get all resistance to over 50, then eventually over 100, unbuffed.
For a very low level character, it can be worthwhile concentrating on +HP items (and +mana, for a caster). An extra 100 hp is easy to provide, and will mean that for the first few levels your character becomes almost unkillable by normal mobs.
Because of the difficulties involved in getting a Ghulam tunic, you should consider tailoring your own studded or reinforced leather tunic early on; help from a smith will be required to produce the studs or reinforced boning required for this. Alternatively, there are a few leather class tunics that are available from the player economy for a reasonable price for your level.
A better role playing alternative might be to use the Plane of Knowledge to move to Halas and Everfrost for a short while. A Vah Shir beastlord can do the Halas beastlord newbie armor quests; these items aren't as good as Ghulam, but the tunic is much better than nothing, and very easy to get. See above for details.
As a non-twinked beastlord, I started out with just the newbie weapon, and kitted myself out first with padded armor from Alchemist Ragnar and self-tailored patchwork - up to about level 8. From that point I replaced items with ghulam quest armor and H2H weapons dropped from Loda Kai. Around level 10, I was given a pair of polished steel ulaks and a foreman's tunic. The PSUs drop in Dawnshroud from tribals, which you can hunt from about level 27 on in groups. There are better H2H weapons suitable for beastlords, but these are both rare and expensive (much the same applies to better armor, too).
Focus items for spell casting can also make a big difference. There are quests in the Plane of Knowledge to provide most types of focus item, all at level II, which affects all spells that you acquire up to level 44. For a fighter, the best items to get are those that offer faster casting (spell haste, the fine cut diamond mask), better range (fine antique rose) and reduced mana cost (fine antique ring). Other effects are less important.
This guide so far takes you through the native Vah Shir zones to 24, using just one possibly pattern of hunting. It is possible to stay hunting in Shadeweavers to 20 or more, on the west side of the central ridge and in the caves; and it is perfectly possibly to hunt well in Hollowshade to 35. However, I don't believe that these are efficient places to gather experience.
For higher levels, starting at 24, there are several good choices. At 24 it is possible to hunt in Echo Caverns, Netherbian Lair, or Marus Seru; each has its advantages and disadvantages. I chose to roam to Sanctus Seru and Katta to perform the Eye of Trust and Earring of Veracity (1 and 2) quests during these levels; the Amulet of the Haven faction quest for Shadowhaven is also a must (less so than for non-Luclin races). From 27, I would recommend Dawnshroud Peaks. Starting with shroom, either solo or in a small group, then moving on to tribals, this is a very effective way to get to 35 with good loot. By moving targets within the zone, it is perfectly possible to reach 42 here, and return at higher levels to deal with rockhoppers.
Problems and Criticism
The guildmaster text (and the hints book) says that you can ask NPCs for directions - you can't. This is a pretty major headache to a newbie Vah Shir, who has to rely on eqatlas, which may be very difficult to use alongside Everquest for most players, or the helpfulness of the few players in Shar Vahl at any given time. Having said that, Vah Shir are, without a shadow of a doubt, the most helpful in the game (and dark elfs the least) - you would be very hard pressed to find a simple newbie question unanswered, even though the call of "where is Bindarah" (usually misspelt) goes up every five minutes; and gifts of armor and weapons are the normal course of events. This bug appears to have been fixed in a recent patch.
Most of the drops in the pit are too rare. It is possible to level enough to turn the pit green collecting just one item - scorpion carapaces, or gravel tea for the tailoring and brewing quests respectively, for example. Grimling runts, which I believe may possibly drop the finger bones required for the tailoring quest (they don't - these drop in Hollowshade), I have only ever seen on one single day, my first, and then just two or three of them - memorable because they killed me. Young rockhoppers are rare.
Outside of the pit, the same thoughts can be applied to bloodbulks in Shadeweavers; it just isn't feasible to collect enough of these to make a tunic (4). At the level it is possible to kill them, which is probably 14+, everything in the east side of Shadeweavers will be green apart from possibly the claw beast and Loda Kai traders, and they are an extremely rare spawn (which may be tied in with the claw beasts, which sometimes spawn in the brigand camp).
To collect Loda Kai blood for the Champion's Cape, you need to hunt traders, who never leave the cave (although they rarely spawn on the cave lookout rock); this isn't feasible to hunt at a level that will give you experience, except in a full group - and most Vah Shir have moved on by then. This is because the initial pull from the cave will always collect all of the poachers, usually 5 or more.
The Hollowshade War is extremely disruptive, and would still be so even without bugs. The various quests require collecting items from sonic wolfs and owlbears; this is only possible when the zone is not in war status; if it is, then one of these mobs will be absent. Given the bugs, I have only ever seen sonic wolfs in Hollowshade on one day, and owlbears on two days, over a more than two month period. This makes the sonic wolf bane weapons quest unplayable.
The relatively low numbers of players attempting the sonic wolf bane weapons is partly a consequence of the Hollowshade War bug, and partly due to the low numbers of mid-level Vah Shir to be found still on Luclin. It just isn't feasible to locate enough of each class with an interest in the weapons to assist - rogues are especially rare.
Finally, thanks to everyone who has written in to make comments and suggestion for this guide; please keep them coming, any response is very satisfying.