This is a guide for those starting over, completely fresh, compiled by multiple people, all very helpful, the guide isn't ripped from some website, its all personal experiences, from players like you and I.
Some notes before we get started
Mercenaries, when they were first released, were quite controversial (the argument being that the release of mercenaries would decrease the need for Warriors and Clerics (this Author doesn't think it ruined the game, but I do think I've seen less Clerics around..)) initially only offering Tanks or Healers, it has expanded to add DPS Casters and DPS Melee. These NPCs now play major roles in the game.
Apprentice VS. Journeyman
Never, at any time, should you choose an Apprentice over the Journeyman mercenaries, even Apprentice 5 vs. Journeyman 1, the Journeyman wins (I know Copper accounts and even Silver accounts may not have access to Journeyman 1) and lest ye be a Free to play, DO NOT USE APPRENTICE MERCENARIES.
Every 15 minutes you are charged the cost for keeping your mercenary to stay and assist you in fighting (at first, you aren't charged anything, then some gold, then plat), its quite easy to keep the payments going, as long as you loot what you find and either vendor it or sell it in the bazaar, you'll do fine. The costs rise as you level, but stay in check with what you'll be earning as a player. Now, the mercenaries do stay in check with what you'll be making from mob drops, so don't fret when they start to actually charge you money.
The type of Mercenary you hire (whether is be Vah Shir, Alaran, or Orc) will not change the mercenaries effectiveness at all, this may not be obvious to everyone, hence why I'm adding this bit.
The Four Types of Mercs
The DPS tank is a great mercenary to start off with (at low levels they are just not killable by mobs, you can easily Molo (Mercenary Solo) you're way through the Tutorial, as they just regen too danged fast to be brought down) for any class, but as you start to gain levels, the classes that will gain the most use will obviously be caster classes, a tank mercenary can work quite well with any DPS casting class, I like to use it with my Necro (L47 as of 1/8/13) to keep aggro amongst my Tank and pet, so I can really lay on the spells and not worry about aggro, the tanks keep their health up quite well, even higher up they still regen quite fast, but from what I understand (from speaking to other necros and such) is that once you start to really level up, the best way to go is to switch to a healer merc.
Highly likely the most used and popular Mercenary, works well in any group, and provides Clerical buffage (Temp, Virtue, Credence, and even rezzes.) as you have room for two mercenaries, I highly suggest regardless of what other mercenary you pick the Healer merc take one of those slots. Overall, the mercenary works in par with a PC Cleric, but in many ways they are also lacking. Low level characters won't notice much of a difference but higher ups will, as they don't communicate well, and will use obsolete spells such as Complete heal (when they would first normally get it as a merc)
I can't say much to anything about this mercenary as I'm almost completely unfamiliar with it, besides it being a Rogue-style NPC (with the poisons which is bugged, but quite deadly from what I have been told. But, I don't think it can assassinate). The DPS Melee obviously would service quite well for someone who may be fighting red con mobs vs. a caster merc, as the caster merc's spells could face reduced strength or even failure.
Not extremely familiar with this mercenary, as for the most time, I use my Cleric mercenary, but a DPS mercenary does still have its uses, besides being quite capable as a dpser, it also makes for a great overnight faction grinder (going to a zone where the mobs are Grey/Green and AFK overnight to let your Merc DPS the mobs down works out quite well, say for any Epics...OOW gear you may be after, etc...). But the DPS caster merc is also great for melee classes that are soloing, for example, when I would solo in Loping Plains and solo as a Paladin, I was able to keep myself up quite easily with self heals and clickies, so there was no need for me to keep a healer merc out when I could just use the extra DPS to keep the mobs down, while the not having to worry about the caster getting aggro from being in melee range as I would do multiple mob pulls and considered the melee dps merc a risk)
IF YOUR CLASS HAS A PET
A pet is a POWERFUL tool here.
It's important to give the pet a two-handed weapon with the highest damage stat you can easily afford to give a pet (maybe keep the price to 50p or 100p), and buy several
Dismiss your pet and summon a new one every time you get a better pet spell. Equip the pet with another of your stocked weapons, belts and masks.
Pull mobs as normal, then position yourself so all the mobs are grouped in front of you with your pet behind them, and sic your pet so he deals his massive damage from the back. As long as you are in melee range, mobs will always hit you instead of your pet, but the extra hp from the belt will help the pet survive a bit if he gets some aggro and take a few hits.
A NOTE ABOUT GEAR
In today's game, there's plenty of gear to make lower levels fly by. At this level, getting crafted Taaffeite jewelry (http://kyros.info/Tradeskills/JC-Calc/, Thanks Maoukiji) in Electrum settings for your ears, fingers, wrists, and face provide a major boost in stats, hp, mana, endurance, resists, and AC. Defiant armor is useful; ideally, Simple Defiant will do for levels 5 on up in Paludal, although you can switch to Rough Defiant at level 15 if you have the opportunity to obtain a set.
A fast weapon is best at this level, preferably a two-hander with no level recommendations or requirement (perhaps a Mithril Two Handed Sword(http://everquest.allakhazam.com/db/item.html?item=428), Fungi Coated Greatstaff (http://everquest.allakhazam.com/db/item.html?item=537), Blackened Acrylia Greatsword (http://everquest.allakhazam.com/db/item.html?item=20444), and Tantor's Tusk (http://everquest.allakhazam.com/db/item.html?item=4105), 1h Alternates, Centi Longsword (http://everquest.allakhazam.com/db/item.html?item=7137), Lamentation (http://everquest.allakhazam.com/db/item.html?item=313), with Shields, Sarnak Battle Shield (http://everquest.allakhazam.com/db/item.html?item=1131), Acrylia Inlaid Shield (Pal Shd Only) (http://everquest.allakhazam.com/db/item.html?item=20510), Defiant Shields are also great) for more damage output. At low levels, a shield is less important, especially here when you WANT mobs to hit you for damage shield damage. More hp and more hp regen is a big help if you can find it (potions such as Distillate of Regeneration and Replenishment are handy for all classes).
There are bountiful options in regards to gearing up, so don't think these are just what is available. For instance, if you have the fortitude - Temple of Veeshan (http://everquest.allakhazam.com/db/zones.html?zstrat=116) provides a ton of gear that has no level req. on it - there is a mini-guide written by Nyquill on the subject
"Most players frown on this but in todays EQ some have to fill that void of boredom.
It is possible to twink a Level 1 character here.
Faction is needed first. you can do this by getting some Derakor the Vindicator hits.
Save all the Giant warrior Hemets you can get your hands on. I saved about 150 of them. Turned them in too Lieutenant Milven is Skyshrine.
Make sure you get a couple of Vindi factions hits first before turning these in otherwise you will be KoS with Milven.
Also Make sure the level 1 is grouped with another character while turning these in or you will find that the experience hits will level you.
Once you have Ally faction have your alts or friends set up a campfire in ToV this way your Level 1 can just gate inside.
The rest is killing the appropriate Named for your quests and have the lvl 1 loot.
Expect to spend weeks in ToV collecting everything you need. "
THE LEVELING GUIDE
The Tutorial (Levels 1-10)
If you're truly starting over, the Tutorial is priceless with knowledge and gear, by the time you've made it to level 11 in the tutorial, you'll have... all visible slots filled with Glomingdeep armor (the stats are equivalent to that of Crude Defiant armor, so don't worry about buying a bunch of crude defiant armor), some non-visible, a Gloomingdeep weapon (either the one from questing or one of the many that are dropped), a mercenary (either tank or healer) and even most of your level spells from one to ten. All you need to do is follow the prompts and complete all quests offered.
Warsliks Woods HOTZONE!
Alternates Level 1-25 (Places you should definitely check out if LOIO isn't your cup or tea, I really recommend you check out the information provided on Paladual Caverns by Johnnypanic, very detailed with good advice):
Crescent Reach (for levels 1-20)
As you start your journey, chances are, unless you were hardcore and chose your original race's home city, your home will henceforth be Cresecent Reach.
I normally go straight to just grinding kills (not questing at all, but feel free to hail around...), I found mobs that conned white/yellow/red and just went to town. Red con mobs will fall, but fighting even con mob will maximize your experience grind as they'll go down much faster. I started at the alligators, as I choose to run through the tutorial with my new characters, and these mobs hold close to an even/yellow con. You can continue here to 25, or, once you hit 20, just go straight over to the next HOTZONE.
(Thanks Snailish)Lake of Ill Omen(1-25)
Why? Newb zone experience modifier already in effect.
Safest route there (in my view) for the lowly non-iksar is to invis and go through Fironia Vie to Lake of Ill Omen. In LoIO stay invis (pond sturgeons are very red to you at this particular zone in) and run a long ways north --just not into Cabilis or the guards. I recommend SoW or similar as well... it's a big zone.
Mobs in the level 1-15 area respawn insanely fast. No heals/pots/merc you can get overwhelmed by adds. Spikes = godliness though. Super lucky you might get a rare drop too.
Move south towards the windmill for higher cons. Note vendors are in windmill.
From windmill move west to get higher cons in the sarnak fort (southwest corner of zone) or goblin fort (northwest corner). Outside area of Sarnak fort was great xp in the low 20s. Inside is a bit tougher due to casters and runners but the experience should be good up into the 30's but I recommend checking out TSS zones.
Much harder mobs in the water surrounding entrance to Veksar.
Stupidly fast, Many don't realize there is a newbie area in the pit that surrounds the city. With skinspikes you'd be level 5 very fast. The challenge is finding the level 1 spikes.
For levels 5-9 or 10, enter Paludal Caverns from Shadeweaver's Thicket. Plane of Knowledge book to Shar Vahl puts you nearby.
Using Skinspikes II, Alacrity II, and Celestial Healing II potions, pull one or more bugs and/or shrooms to you and kill them. Be sure to hit every one with melee or spell damage at least once to get full xp. Focus on one at a time after damaging them all to bring down dps... your target will die first, but all mobs hitting you will repeatedly hurt themselves on your Skinspikes damage shield. As your current target dies, select a new one and start meleeing it.
If you pull one mob and it dies easily with no risk to you, next time, pull two. If they die easily, then pull three, and continue this until you're pulling as many as you can with little risk. Buy plenty of Celestial Healing II potions (they're cheap) and use them often.
Level 9ish, move up to fungal fiends. Grab some Distillate of Immunization I OR a healer mercenary. Treat the fiends as you did the bugs and shrooms, pulling more and more until you find out how many you can handle. If the fiends cast Spreading Crud on you... and they will... fight until you have to stop to rest, then use the Distillate of Immunization to cure it. One shot of rank I distillate is enough. If you have a healer mercenary, keep it suspended until you rest, then unsuspend it to heal you and cure your crud and suspend it again before you continue killing, so you won't have to share xp.
Keep in mind that plerg phlarg fiends are level 12-14 while patog phlarg fiends are level 17-22... /con what you pull.
At level 10, switch to rank III of the skinspikes, alacrity, and celestial healing potions to kill more mobs faster. You can use rank IV potions at level 20. You'll level fast in Paludal, so you may want to stock up on all kinds so you won't have to level when you hit 10 and 20 for new potions. They're cheap, so feel free.
At around level 17-20, move to the bandit camps. There is one just outside the zoneline to Shadowhaven (Plane of Knowledge book to Nexus, zone into Paludal), and another if you run straight out through bandit one, and follow the ridge up to the right when you hit the edge of the water.
Treat the bandits just like all the other mobs... pull one, if it's easy, pull two, etc. Regardless of their names, NONE are casters; however, some are rogues and backstab, so don't turn away from them. Be careful pulling at first; without pacify or some other crowd control, it's not easy to get many singles.
Remember, at level 20 you can use type IV potions.
You can milk the bandit camp to level 24, 25 if you're patient or bored, so feel free to dominate as much of the camp as possible.
Paludal Caverns is a nice low-level hunting ground with plenty of easy mobs; none of the trash summons, it's all pure melee with no casters (so very vulnerable to damage shields and likely to keep your Defense skills high), trash can be snared and will run if alone and below 20% hp. Enjoy a fast track from 5 to 24!
Gorge of King Xorbb
You could go in way earlier if ready. No casters here except the evil eyes, but you are wearing defiant and will resist almost everything they cast. A level 65 ranger can barely keep the spawns down in this zone so leveling up is fast.
If you do it long enough (and don't touch the goblins) you will faction up and be safe to run into Runneye and sell and bank (you can bank even when KoS... but then you have to avoid or kill goblins). Sure the muddites and minotaurs run when you get down to the last one. Just pull multiples of the same race to lessen you mob chasing.
If you don't have spikes and the gear, this is still a great zone for young kiters. The zoneline into the karanas is a really long straight line that only one muddite seems to spawn/wander in.
Fantastic using the same tactics 7-15. No runners if you stick to the skellies. With temperance you could go in lower.
(I stayed in the tutorial until 12-13ish)
I was hunting the usual, the damn elephants at Level 14, of course they were yellow, but hey, they were easy kills, until I came across a very interesting spot. Brother Hayle's location (-1602.27, 2153.38) he is surrounded by Gnolls, all yellow at level 14. They do rush you (about 5 in total) but with my Mercenary and pet I was able to fight them off. The mobs respawn VERY quickly and are great experience (Note, after the initial pull of the 4-5 mobs, more will spawn near you, roughly 3, they will spawn at Hayle and rush you. I used my merc to hold about half and I held the other half off, as my pet beat on the mobs).
End of Alternates Level 1-25
*HOTZONE* Blightfire Moors (levels 25-30)
To begin, start at the zone in from Crescent Reach..
The mobs you'll run into will be various critters for you to blast down, just con the mobs before you attack, as you increase in power, you'll want to go from the critters of the zone in to the Gnolls that are to the right of the zone in, then onto Gators and turtles.
The entrance into Kedge Keep is fantastic for experience, I took my 26 Beastlord there with my Mercenary and Warder and rocked the zone, I hadn't got any potions at the time and was self-buffed, you will get a lot of adds, and, most if not all of the mobs you will fight will either be yellow or red, by 28 most of the mobs were yellow, with a couple whom were red, MAKE SURE you keep Enduring Breath items on your or at the very least, the Buff on you at all times.
Gulf of Gunthak
Go in there at 25 if you have the gear, 30 if you think you are weak. One side of the beach is undead if you hate runners. I've leveled characters in the tunnel of plants and drogmors... used to confuse the people trying to train through to Dulak (added risk for me)when half the cave was empty.
Did 35-40 last night rogue-rogue-cleric merc in Goru'kar Mesa. We killed only at the goo cave right off the vendor area. 5 levels and 1.5k in a couple of hours which is nice for the level.
Goos don't aggro unless attacked, but are social so being able to handle two (by tanking or crowd control of some sort) matters. They do run on low hp which can garner adds. By 38 we had the whole thing cleared with only 1-2 pops up at time, but a continuous cycle.
The vendor being within visual range of the cave entrance is a nice bonus for those that camp over multiple sessions. Saves a lot of travel.
City of Mist
Fantastic experience zone, the run is unfortunately through the Emerald Jungle, its a very lengthy run, but if you keep your bag spaces free for the most part you'll be fine, defiant gear drops there once in a while. The mobs will vary a lot, at 40 my Monk was running into mobs conning anywhere from Light Blue and the entrance, Dark Blue in the center, but also the Haze Golems conned yellow, the further you get into the zone, the spike you will definitely see in levels of the mobs is interesting, so I recommend you spend time at the entrance and the 2 areas branching off from the first section.
End of Alternate(s) 35-45
Highest XP mod in the game. Assuming they take the end-game cliknars back out of it after Underfoot's launch, it is a great place to level for the mighty and brave.
Please feel free to add, I'll include your information and of course put your name in the guide with a special thanks :)
Old Man Mckenzie Monster Missions aka Beer Missions*
(*-The Average level of the group has to be 80)
These are very interesting Monster Missions, if you're familiar with other Monster Missions,in this one interestingly enough, you play as old world characters since Old Man Mckenzie thinks that 8 years ago the game was real and challenging! So you'll be killing mobs in Cursed Guk, Lower Guk, and Nagafen's Lair, all areas that were highly camped back in the day (or so I'm told, haha joined after Vellious) and playing as old characters using old elite gear. The group I often find myself playing with is an Enchanter, Mage, and Shadowknight (me). The experience is phenominal (at 75 I got about 4 yellows with double experience on) and this helps when it comes to flagging for the Underfoot expansion. There is a lock out after doing each of these, roughly 17 hours, rather fair since you get sooo much experience eh? :)
For this the group can either keep together or split up (either way works, IF YOU SPLIT UP make sure you know what you're doing, and if you're KOS con often, a lot of random mobs do see invis unfortunately), I highly recommend you get a Map that has the locations of the mobs on it. If you split up, you can split the mobs accordingly, for me, I would kill the named, fight off adds, then FD if it got out of control, and since you're a Troll in the MM, you have higher HP regen and will be ready to rock in maybe 3 mins of medding tops. The final mob, the froglok king, is an interesting pull, use the enchanter to pull the mob, have him pulled back into the hallway before his room, roughly at the corner. After you kill the king, kill the Tactician, mezz the other mobs or kill them, and Badda Bing, you got your item and the experience.
This is the one I was most unfamiliar with, so I had the most trouble in the zone. For this you'll also need someone who can see invis mobs (for the Guano Harvestor) there aren't any mobs that really see invis, save the sonic bats which you'll have to do when fighting the Guano Harvestor, I haven't done this Monster Mission without a group going in, I don't recommend splitting up since a lot of the mobs are clumped together (especially Priest, King, and Champion). When it comes to pulling the final mob, don't try to pull it, rush the mob. Everyone in that room when you're ready and just start beating on him, I would HT immediately and just hold aggro the rest of the battle.
Undead Lower Guk, My personal favorite.
The list of mobs you have to kill are all mobs that are easily killed in a split up manner, either way works, either group goes in guns a blazing or you guys split up and ninja the mobs down. When it comes to the final mob, RUSH him and pin him to the back of the wall he stands at, DON'T PULL HIM. Its just a lot easier for everyone, much easier to target and beat the mobs down. There really isn't to much I can think to add, the mobs are all simple, make sure after you have enter the safe hall that when you walk past the prisoner room to fight the Reanimated Hand and Arch Magus (then finally the Ghoul Lord!) That you hug the wall on the right, just past the strange lava looking sqaure (ignore it, it won't hurt you) there is a trap that just makes you fall really, but just avoid it and the headaches it brings.
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