The Luclin Express

I believe that this phrase originated with Kunark, when it became clear not long after release that there was a path through exclusively Kunark zones that could level a character from 1 to 60 faster (or at least, no slower) than anywhere else. There had been a similar route in original Everquest, but it didn’t really take off in the same way, perhaps because there was really very little choice. Much the same phenomenon happened with Luclin, although multiple alternatives at most levels meant that it wasn’t quite so streamlined.

1 - 10: Shar Vahl/Shadeweaver’s Thicket

The pit under the city was a good starter for levels 1 to 5, with a range of quests from the city, in much the same way as there is for Cabilis, but this time open to all races - if you could get there, which wasn’t so easy. There are similar quests in the next zone, Shadeweaver’s Thicket, but extending up to a higher level. Most people would go to 10 - 15 in this zone, although the far side of the zone could cater for up to 20 or possibly higher.

If you wanted to get to Shar Vahl from Norrath, the closest point to reach was a port to Grimling Forest, followed by a dangerous run through Hollowshade Moors; most people would have tried an escorted run through Paludal Caverns from the Nexus/Shadowhaven.

4 - 25: Paludal Caverns

The logical, and probably intended, next zone in the sequence would be Hollowshade Moors (10+). However, it was a horrible zone in practice for levelling. Experience was low, and mobs were exceptionally tough and hard hitting. The Hollowshade War is a thing of beauty (once it was fixed, late in Luclin), but made life tough for the (very few) low levels that might want to level in Hollowshade. As a result, it became instead a place to run quickly through on your way to the star of the expansion, Paludal Caverns.

Paludal has three entrances, although most people only used one of them. An entrance from the tunnels under Shadeweaver’s Thicket brings you in with some starter mobs around level four. As you go deeper in, the bugs (and shrooms) gradually increase in level, and each new tunnel takes a step upwards in level.

The second entrance is good for level 11/12, and this is the one you reach by following the zone boundary of Hollowshade Moors. Again you have various bugs and shrooms to start, but you reach a pool surrounded by fungal fiends after the first passage. The problem with these is that they can infect your with a long lasting dot called “Creeping Crud”. For early stage progression servers, or at the time of the Luclin expansion, any dot means that you couldn’t regenerate (hit points or mana) while infected; which meant that, untreated, most characters in the range to hunt in Paludal would die. Cure Disease, or a lot of healing, was vital. Or just scrupulously avoid the fiends by using invisibility or, if very careful, sneak.

The third, and most popular and highest level entrance, is from Shadowhaven. This could be relatively easily reached via the Nexus Spires, unlike Shar Vahl. There is room for several groups around the main cavern at the bandit camps, for levels 15 to 25, although experience drops off rapidly after level 23.

25 - 30: Marus Seru

One of the complications of levelling in Luclin was getting to your zone. The basic principle was to run to the nearest spire, get a shard, wait to be ported to the Nexus, and then run through either Shadowhaven or Netherbian Lair. The latter was itself a candidate for post-Paludal levelling, but could only support 2-3 groups at most, and ran a little lower in level.

Marus Seru is reached through Netherbian Lair, and catered for 25-30. You could bind at the zone in, or rely on running through from the Nexus; trains weren’t uncommon. Camps formed on the hill outside, mostly pulling greyhoppers, zelniaks and stonegrabbers from the open field; only rarely did camps form for the bandits. Collecting greyhopper hides for tailoring skill ups is a useful by-product of levelling here.

The level 40 Great Saprophyte drops Remove Lesser Curse, in a side room on the way to Fungus Grove.

24 - 33: Echo Caverns (1)

Some people would use Echo Caverns, reached from the Shadowhaven entrance just past the rogue guildmaster for 25-33; however, it was more of a solo camp than a group, and just for one. The attraction was the needlite cavern; very fast, but slight, hits, that would raise defense skills very rapidly. This is ideal for a caster with poor gear, and damage shields would kill them off very quickly (druid, enchanter, necro, wizard, magician all have useful DS for this camp, without considering potions). You could take it from 24 upwards, and it would green out around 33.

28 - 40: Dawnshroud Peaks

Probably the most admired mid-range zone in Luclin is Dawnshroud Peaks. You could start here in one of several camps from high 20s, and could easily continue through to the low 40s. Most camps pulled to the zone exits (Netherbian Lair, Grieg’s End, Sanctus Seru or Maiden’s Eye), or you could pull from the central valley, which was easiest for rangers, beastlords and druids with neutral animal faction. A separate, higher level camp was the rockhopper cave, mainly used for tailoring drops, but also popular with 40+ enchanters equipped with a charmed NPC.

Each camp has their own mobs to pull: shrooms were often taken as separate camps (a 3-spawn near Netherbian, etc), zelniaks and wolves at Neth, sambatas around Grieg’s End/Maiden’s Eye, lightcrawlers at Sanctus Seru. The highest camps are for rockhoppers and stonegrabbers. Apart from the rockhopper hides, lightcrawlers had their own special armor quest, and named mobs of each type (which were always aggressive) would drop quest items for the (mostly useless) Luclin quest armor.

40 - 51: Echo Caverns (2)

Most people were aware of one side of Echo Caverns, but not the other; oddly enough, it wasn’t always the same side! The higher level side is reached via the ‘short’ side of Shadowhaven. Again, this has several discrete camps: the gnomes (but watch out for faction hits, if you care), a first set of four underbulks, then a room of underbulks, fungal fiends and stonegrabbers before the Taskmaster room, and another room leading to the Deep, with more underbulks, stonegrabbers and fungal fiends.

The undead room features Taskmaster Torkazh, a shissar who drops shissar organs for the Amulet of Grey Wastes (Enduring Breath) quest. Rarely you will spawn the much higher level Zilniov when clearing this room; leveling one skeleton up should prevent this. Zilniov charms and fears. This is the highest level camp on this side of the zone.

50 - 60: Fungus Grove

There are several alternatives for this level range: Maiden’s Eye, the Deep, even Umbral Plains and Akheva Ruins; but Fungus Grove was the most popular overall, the main advantage being lots of easily identified camps for group and solo. You can reach here through the lower level side of Echo Caverns, or from the Twilight Sea (useful for Guild Hall ports). Towards the end of Luclin, the Temple of Cazic-Thule was upgraded to give a higher level range zone, strictly for level 60 characters.

Camps: shik’nar, shadel bandits, tarmoks, shroom and lotuses. The highest camps are bandits and shik’nar, with the lowest being tarmoks. The shroom camp is just at the entrance, just past the fort/village; and the shik’nar all the way to the back, close to the entrance from Twilight Sea. Lotuses are scattered throughout the zone, and are mainly camped for trade skill drops (for the earring).

One of the attractions of Fungus Grove was the “Caller” quest, both for fast and almost infinite spawns and for the gear drops (Tiny Cloak of Darkest Night - SoS for bards!, Fungus Patch Vest for regen, Swollen Fungus Beast Gland snare clicky).

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