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World-drop purples

This is another excuse for nostalgia and reminiscences of the olden days, thinly disguised as a post about world-drop purple items 😛

Watchmen in Old Tarantia shamelessly flaunting the Aegis of Five Mercies. (Click to enlarge.)

The old world-drop purples

In the early days of the game, pretty much any mob in areas such as open-world playfields, villas, etc. had a small chance of dropping a purple item; bosses seemed to have a higher chance, and bosses in epic versions of the playfields had a higher chance still. All these items were handheld — weapons, shields, ammunition and the like; there wasn’t any purple armor dropping in this way. There was generally one level 80 purple item of each kind, and typically one lower-level item as well. The drop rates were sufficiently high that you had a good chance of seeing at least one such drop by the time you levelled your character to 80. Those who farmed epic Kheshatta a lot in those days (either for gear or for money — mobs in epic playfields dropped several times as much money as they do now, until a nerf a few months after the release) saw them even more often, or so I heard (as I hadn’t done much farming there myself in those days).

Another very nice thing about these items was that, unlike most of the good drops in the game, they were tradable. Nowadays they are bind-on-equip, but in those days the concept of bind-on-equip didn’t yet exist in the game; an item was either non-tradable, i.e. bind-on-pickup, or tradable, in which case it didn’t get bound even if you equipped it. When the old tradable/nontradable system was replaced a couple months after launch by the nonbinding/BoE/BoP system (which we still have now), items that you already had equipped didn’t automatically get bound. I myself took off the purple crossbow that I had had equipped on my guardian and mailed it to a bank alt, where it still sits, happily unbound.

The following purple world-drop items were available:

  • Aegis of Five Mercies [level 80 shield, str]
  • Arc of Ophiuchus [level 71 bow]
  • Asylum of the Bloodied Maw [level 73 shield, str]
  • Axis of the Recondite Mind [level 56 staff]
  • Axis of Unearthly Accort [level 80 staff]
  • Barbs of Black Blood [level 59 arrows]
  • Barbs of Writhing Rot [level 71 arrows]
  • Black Cragfall [level 80 1hb, str]
  • Black Destiny [level 72 crossbow]
  • Blade of Black Bile [level 80 2he, str]
  • Blade of Red Rivers [level 64 2he, str]
  • Bolts of Effulgent Travail [level 72 bolts]
  • Bolts of Fateful Radiance [level 80 bolts]
  • Bolts of the Stormshrike [level 60 bolts]
  • Codex of Anagogic Observance [level 67 talisman, magic dmg]
  • Cusp of the Heavens [level 80 bow]
  • Dagger of Envy’s Fury [level 80 dagger, combat rtg]
  • Fang of Pestilent Blood [level 55 dagger, dex]
  • Fingers of the Frozen Soul [level 80 arrows]
  • Fire and Glory [level 78 polearm, combat rtg]
  • Fist of the Flamesire [level 51 1hb, str]
  • Heart of the Earth [level 80 2hb, str, combat rtg]
  • Heaven Sundered [level 76 2he, str]
  • Knuckle of Red Ice [level 63 1hb, str]
  • Mark of Abhorrent Deeds [level 70 talisman, str]
  • Mark of Dark Blessings [level 68 talisman, str]
  • Mark of Ineffable Sins [level 80 talisman, str]
  • Maul of the Stars [level 77 2hb, str]
  • Octavo of Cryptic Rites [level 57 talisman, int]
  • Opus of Mystical Consonance [level 80 talisman, magic dmg]
  • Sanctuary of Souls [level 61 shield, str]
  • Soulcarved Evil [level 74 1he, str]
  • Sting of the Venom Brood [level 80 crossbow]
  • The Cloud Anvil [level 65 2hb, str]
  • The Coldmorn [level 80 1he, str]
  • The Coldsnapper [level 60 crossbow]
  • The Edge of Anger [level 50 1he, hate inc rtg]
  • The Edge of the North [level 62 2he, str]
  • The Hand of Storms [level 75 1hb, str]
  • The Haven of Pain [level 49 shield, str]
  • The Herald of Blight [level 80 polearm, str]
  • The Ire of the Sun [level 62 1he, str]
  • The Reach of Storms [level 54 polearm, str]
  • The Ruinmaker [level 66 polearm, str]
  • The Scorpion’s Prey [level 79 dagger, dex]
  • The Sunmark [level 59 bow]
  • The Union of Gifts [level 58 staff, magic dmg]
  • The Vilegrist [level 53 2hb, str]
  • The Widow’s Pain [level 80 dagger, dex]
  • Veiled Hate [level 67 dagger, dex]

This was all before the 1.05 itemization revamp, of course (although the notes in brackets in the above list are based on the post-1.05 stats); so it isn’t surprising that in terms of stats, these purple weapons and shields were only a tiny improvement over corresponding (and much more easily obtained) blue items. But many of them were impressive in appearance, and used models quite distinct from any item of blue or lower quality. I guess you could say they were the closest we ever got to vanity weapons in this game. Some of the models were reused for raid weapons, e.g. the Herald of Blight (purple world-drop polearm) was based on the same model as the T1/T2 guardian polearm; but many were completely unique (e.g. the Aegis of Five Mercies).

Purple rain

One notable incident regarding world-drop purples was the phenomenon often referred to as “purple rain”. Poitain and other resource-gathering zones were almost completely devoid of mobs at launch, but after some time — in the summer of 2008 — they added one or two camps of mobs to each of those playfield [link 1, link 2]. Poitain got two areas of level 80 beguiler demons in the central part of the playfield. You could farm them to get a bit of money, white or green gear that you could sell to vendors, maybe the occasional gem.

Of course it was only reasonable that they also had a chance, the same small chance as nearly every other mob, of dropping the world-drop purples; but by some odd mistake, their chance of dropping these purples was much higher than was intended. This was soon noticed by the players and became widely known, with the unsurprising result that you had considerable numbers of players, some individually and some in groups, farming the poor demons in every instance of Poitain they could lay their hands on.

This would presumably lead to a steep decline in the prices of these weapons on the trader, though the decline wasn’t as steep as one might perhaps imagine. I didn’t have the patience for extensive amounts of farming in those days, so the only purple item I got from those demons was an Aegis of Five Mercies, which I sold soon afterwards on the trader for something like 30 or 35 gold. This didn’t strike me as much less than what that kind of items used to cost before the purple rain period, and in any case it was a huge sum of money for me back then. It also seemed insane to me that someone would pay so much for a shield that was, in terms of stats, such a tiny improvement over something much more easily available (e.g. a blue world-drop shield such as Spellscourge, which might perhaps sell for 10 g or less).

As often happens, Funcom didn’t react to the purple rain as quickly as one might imagine. The really large-scale farming went on for pretty much an entire week before the drop rates of purples from those demons were nerfed [link 1, link 2]. A few months later, in update 1.03, there was a thorough revamp of the gathering zones, during which they removed the existing mob camps and added new ones which are still there now — beguiler demons were moved to Purple Lotus Swamp whereas Poitain was filled with Nemedians, cows and the like [link 1, link 2, link 3].

The end of world-drop purples

It used to be somewhat of a common misconception that world-drop purples stopped dropping immediately after the end of the purple rain period, but actually they kept on dropping for a while until they were silently removed from all drop tables some time in the autumn of 2008 (perhaps in the same update, 1.03, that introduced many other changes such as culture armor recipes and a revamp of the mob camps in resource gathering zones). This wasn’t mentioned in the patch notes, and I’m not sure if the devs ever even explicitly admitted that the weapons stopped dropping altogther. The way I remember it, it was mostly hints that the drop rates were reduced to balance out the glut of purple weapons that entered the economy during the purple rain days; there was always a hint that the purple weapons would eventually return, but they never did, despite many requests by the players.

The world drop purples that were already in the game were of course unaffected by these changes in the drop tables; if you had an unbound world drop purple, it was still there, unbound and waiting for you to equip it or sell it. But by then, the bind-on-equip system was already in place; so as soon as someone equiped such a weapon, it got bound to his character. Thus, there was a mechanism that took unbound purples out of the economy, but no mechanism that would bring new ones in (since they stopped dropping), and their prices naturally soared.

This was exacerbated by the fact that raiding, the only other source of purple weapons, wasn’t as widely available at that time; not as many guilds raided, there were more or less no pug raids, and even if you did raid, weapons were harder to get than now. At that time, only Vistrix dropped T1 weapons, not all T1 bosses like they do now. And in the BRC, W3 hadn’t yet been released (until 1.04) and Chatha was in a bugged and unkillable condition (probably a deliberate decision by the devs to act as a content blocker until they released W3), so the only T2 boss that dropped weapons was Sabazios.

As a result, there was a period of several months, in late 2008 and early 2009, when unbound world-drop purples had a somewhat mythical status, extremely desirable and extremely expensive on the few occasions when they appeared on the tradepost. I saw an Aegis of Five Mercies for sale at 500 gold, and while I doubt it actually sold at that price, the fact is that prices around 150 gold were considered reasonable and unremarkable for many world-drop purples. I often regretted having sold an Aegis for 35 gold in the purple rain era, and I greatly envied the many NPCs that were carrying this shield as a standard part of their equipment.

Undead minion in the Catacombs with the Aegis of Five Mercies.

Gradually, this market must have cooled down a bit. After the 1.05 itemization revamp, the world-drop purples on the one hand became more noticeably better compared to blues than they were before, but at the same time they became more noticeably worse compared to raid purples. This, together with the increasing availability of raid weapons, made the old world-drop purples seem less alluring. Unless Funcom introduces support for vanity weapons the same way they currently support vanity armor, I find it hard to imagine that there will ever be much interest in the old-world purples except for nostalgia value. I still think the Aegis of Five Mercies is a beautiful shield, but it just wouldn’t make any sense to wear it instead of a raid shield; and as far as appearance is concerned, it’s only nostalgia that prevents me from admitting that the guardian T3 shield actually looks better.

Khitai world-drop purples

The expansion has a considerably different system of world-drop items than the pre-expansion content. Mobs don’t drop any armor or weapons directly; instead, they drop various kinds of bags, and then you can click a bag in your inventory and get something random from it: money, potions, esteem tokens, or in some rare occasions blue or (even more rarely) purple BoE equipment.

These drop rates seem to be quite low. In the first few months of the game I got several world-drop purples, so if the drop rates in Khitai were comparable I’d probably have found 10 or 20 of the new Khitai world-drop purples by now, but in fact I didn’t find any yet. Even of blue items I probably got no more than 10 or so.

Anyway, the following is a list of the new Khitai world-drop purples. They are all level 80 items, and like the old world-drop purples they are all bind-on-equip.

  • Blade of the Forgotten [1he, wis, heal rtg]
  • Discipline of the Immportal [1hb, con, hate inc rtg]
  • Divide of the Phoenix [2he, str, mana tap rtg]
  • Eclipse of Destiny [dagger, int]
  • Facade of the Interloper [level 80 shield, con, health tap rtg]
  • Hook of Infinite Woe [2hb, str, mana tap rtg]
  • Path of the Enlightened [staff, int]
  • Quencher of Hearts [staff, wis, heal rtg]
  • Rememberance [sic] [1he, str]
  • Return of Time [polearm, str]
  • Shell of Kings [talisman, magic dmg]
  • Soulreaper [dagger, dex]
  • The Challenge of Stone [crossbow]
  • The Solar Wind [bow]

Return of the old world-drop purples

Mobs and bosses in the House of Crom drop items called Excavator’s Kits, which have the same role as the various kinds of bags that drop from Khitai mobs. For me the most attractive thing about them is that they have a decent chance of dropping level 80 four-hour food; but they also have a chance of dropping old-world level 80 blue and purple items.

Thus, for the first time since the autumn of 2008, new unbound copies of the old world-drop purples are entering the game. Of course, as mentioned above, they aren’t really attractive in terms of stats nowadays, and the game doesn’t support vanity weapons, so there’s understandably not that much interest in them, and their prices reflect that. I’ve seen some of them offered for sale for 20 gold or less. Even I bought myself an Aegis of Five Mercies for 28 gold, for old times’ sake. Considering that I sold one for 35g during the purple rain week more than 3 years ago, I have the feeling that I made a profit from it after all 😛

Categories: Age of Conan, Gear
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  1. September 25, 2016 at 12:14

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