20. The Trouble With Partying
The next morning, Bai XiaoYu followed I_Am_A_Poor_Man’s directions and found the Jiangshi Cave.
The Jiangshi weren’t as scary as the zombies. At least they were completely dressed in perfect condition Qing Dynasty clothes and accessories. Tiny round hats sat on their heads. The paper charm dangling before their faces practically obscured half of their pale, greenish faces.
But they were much faster than the zombies. With their arms raised straight out, they jumped to and fro within all the large and small passages of the cave. There was not a single safe spot for XiaoYu to aggro them from. Because of this, for healers, grinding at the Jiangshi Cave was one that really challenged the player’s mobility, aim, and spatial awareness. Of course, being able to keep calm was very important as well. Lurking at every corner was a high chance of a Jiangshi pouncing onto the player.
After XiaoYu was forced to go into close quarters combat several times, he finally remembered a spell within his skill list that decreased the target’s speed. It’s a support-type skill that branched out from the hastening buff, once the player achieved a certain proficiency in it. The zombies were naturally slower than XiaoYu, so he didn’t pay much attention to such a skill. Now, he understood every skill has its own reason for existing.
The slowed-down Jiangshi would move at the exact same speed as XiaoYu. As long as he’s careful and paid attention to how far he was from the other monsters, he could grind away at the aggroed monster without being disturbed.
Perhaps it was because the Jiangshi Cave wasn’t as dramatically foul smelling and harsh on the eyes, three parties had already passed by XiaoYu within the few hours in the morning. Maybe they were there to test their luck at the boss. Maybe higher-levelled Jiangshi dropped some rare accessories. They didn’t bother taking another look at XiaoYu who was grinding all alone. They already had a high-level healer.
In the afternoon, XiaoYu bumped into a party that didn’t have a healer. A male archer with a slightly higher level and two female Mages hiding behind him. It wasn’t clear whether they were there because the girls were yapping about testing their courage or if they were really there to grind. Attacks with Holy attribute can do additional damage to the Undead, and so can Fire-attribute attacks.
The three players were all ranged characters. It’s still okay for them if they hit far away monsters. They’d be able to kill the monsters before they get any closer. But if a Jiangshi spawned near them, they’d panic.
When they noticed XiaoYu grinding alone, they whispered to each other for a while.
“They’re Level 40. Healer, party? I won’t join. I’ll just be responsible for carrying you guys.” The archer was clearly past his Second Job Change.
“…Level 30.” XiaoYu was quite reluctant to partying with strangers. However, the other party had already revealed their own levels. He shouldn’t try and keep his a secret.
“That’s just nice. Experience will be split evenly and we can even go to the next level. Party up?”
“Okay.” The archer was quite nice. And when equal distribution was set in parties, there’d be bonus experience.
“Erm…” The archer hesitated.
“Can you keep your collection pet back into your inventory? We’ll split the drops equally afterwards,” The archer voiced out their request. They’d observed this kitten picking up drops. That’s also why they didn’t immediately ask this lonely healer to party up with them at the start.
“…Then, forget about it.” Other than going offline for that particular patch’s maintenance period, XiaoYu had never left the tiny cat. Making him store the little one back to some unknown pet storage was absolutely impossible.
“How about this? Let’s change the pick-up settings to Party Leader Only? We’ll make sure to hand you your fair portion afterwards,” One of the female mages suggested.
When partying up, the default setting was everyone could pick up items. The Party Leader could change this setting, but a pop-up will appear before every member. Only when the members agree could this setting be changed. After adding a new party member, it’ll revert back to the default regardless of what the pick-up setting was before. If the party wished to change it, members need to agree once more.
Party Leader Only was one of the most common and equal settings. Of course, that’d mean this Party Leader was trusted in the first place.
“No. I’ll just continue solo. Thanks for your invitation.” Party Leader Only pick-up meant the little cat would not be able to pick up anything as well. Then what was the point of him grinding? He might as well just go back to the city and complete missions.
“Don’t tell me you want to take everything for yourself? That’s so selfish. Don’t think you can do what you want just because you’ve got that Healers Alliance from the forums backing you up.” The other mage’s temper was clearly not as good as the other two’s.
“No. I’ll divide everything the little cat picks up equally.”
“Who’d believe you?”
The air around them turned awkward for a moment. It wasn’t that XiaoYu didn’t trust that they’d share the drops fairly. He was just too lazy to explain to everyone the little cat’s method of levelling up and the reason he was grinding here. Since the other didn’t believe he’d be fair, then there’s not much else to talk about.
“Hey, hey. Alright. Don’t fight. Why don’t we switch the setting to Round Robin?” The archer turned into the mediator.
Round Robin was a pick-up setting usually used when the party members were all strangers and no one trusted each other. But because they don’t trust each other, party members usually weren’t that considerate of each other. There was also a commonly known but unspoken rule to Round Robin settings – members did not need to share their loot fairly. If someone picked up a nice item on their turn, then he’s got good RNG. The other members can do nothing in spite of their jealousy. Who told them to distrust each other at the start?
“Okay. Round Robin. Whatever anyone picks up, it’s theirs. There’s no more sharing. Okay?” As the first mage posed the question to XiaoYu, she pushed at the other mage. Having a healer would make things different. Not only could XiaoYu throw out buffs and debuffs, he’d be an extra hand against the Undead.
After being poked at by her good friend, the mage with the bad temper decided to cease commenting. They’ve got double the chance of XiaoYu at picking up good loot after all.
After such a fuss, XiaoYu really didn’t want to party with them now.
However, if he still disagreed, it might make them really think that he wanted to keep all the loot to himself. That archer and the first mage had maintained a kind attitude this whole time. Two vs one. He decided to agree still. It’d be faster grinding in a party, so he’d gain more experience. He wanted to level up faster too, but he also had to make sure the little cat had something to pick up.
“Hmph.” After the other female mage had a look at the new party member’s name, she softly hmphed. LuckyCat? It’s two versus one. Let’s see who’d have the better loot. She was so going to make that healer go mad with anger.
It’s such a pity that reality is cruel. The one who went mad with anger was that mage.
If one said XiaoYu was lucky for the first good equipment to be dropped was his, then what did it imply when he received three equipment consecutively in one brief hour while the other two only got trash equipment? It meant if RNGesus wasn’t favouring him, then he had some hidden skill or attribute that’d increase the rate of item drops. Either way, they’d never admit it was because they had bad RNG.
What they didn’t know was XiaoYu had been grinding by himself for the whole morning and he’d never picked up a single equipment, not even the trashy ones. In the half a month he’d been camping at the Zombie Cave, he’d only picked up five or six white trash gear that could be bought in NPC shops, other than the Rotten Bandage headdress with special damage %.
Hence, it can be seen that the drop rate of equipment with additional attributes, which everyone loved, adored and hated, was very low outside of boss encounters. Looking at XiaoYu’s past experience, it can be seen that RNGesus didn’t really take great care of him. But as for the current situation…Perhaps it’s because XiaoYu was exceedingly lucky in groups. A lucky cat beckons fortune. He might not be blessed with wealth, but his party would be.
“Let’s stop. Have a break.” The mage with the bad temper was irritated when the first equipment dropped. At the sight of the third equipment, she finally couldn’t stand it anymore.
The Jiangshi in the Jiangshi Cave were spawned according to certain restrictions. If one observed carefully, they could find one or two slightly safer blind spots. The row of four sat down on the ground.
Of the three gear dropped, two were of the white, normal class and one had additional attributes. XiaoYu roughly swept his eyes over the items in the tiny one’s inventory. Not a bad harvest. He wasn’t that familiar with the other three, so he’d sat two to three meters away from the rest.
The atmosphere turned tense once more. After watching one person pick up so many equipment, even if only one had additional attributes (it had an additional glowing aura), the other three were quite frustrated. Especially that bad-tempered mage. But they can’t say anything. The Round Robin setting was very fair, to a certain extent. Everyone’s pickups were based on their luck, unless…
“Hey, healer. Take out everything you got. We’ll start dividing it all up equally.” Unless this new healer didn’t know of the unspoken rules of Round Robin. After all, it’s a rule created and acknowledged by players only.
“Snow, Round Robin…” The other mage was about to speak up. Players shouldn’t need to divide up their loot with Round Robin. And she’s just said they won’t split up the loot. However, she was stopped by that Snow mage so she swallowed the rest of her sentence back into her stomach.
“…Why?” There were quite a few newbie guides on the game’s forums. All those quick guides and walkthroughs were pinned to the top so newbies could look up all of the basic rules and settings. Naturally, XiaoYu would not miss out on reading those. Therefore, he knew what each party setting meant.
“What why? You’re just a low-level healer leeching off a higher-levelled party.”
That was theoretically correct. Without the three of them, XiaoYu would never dare to venture alone to the second level with Level 45 Jiangshi mobs. Grinding way above one’s level was a fast way to level up, but it’d be hard for someone to solo-kill a monster over 10 levels above their own. If things went bad, they might lose a level for nothing.
Even so, this didn’t mean the agreed-upon rule of Round Robin could be ignored. If they wanted to blame someone, they could only blame themselves for bringing a low-level healer.
The faces of the other mage and the male archer began to turn pale. They were deeply afraid this healer would screenshot or record this. No matter what, Snow was in the wrong. If this incident was posted on the forums, all three of them would be chased after by the Healers Alliance.
The other classes’ alliances on the forums are still alright. Bullying was something that happened every day, but healers were the official support class. It was hard to grind as a healer, so there weren’t many of them. However, they’re always needed when partying up to grind or to quest. Thus, a fierce and brutal Healers Alliance was formed.
Rumours say the higher-ups of the Alliance were high-levelled female healers with some of the most famous in-game players in their network and loved to poke their nose in everyone’s business. Not only are they fiercely protective of each other, they were very protective of male healers. As males typically enjoy combat-based classes, few would select a support class. And so the male nanny is a highly protected species. (Actually, they just feel that the weak and meek figure of a male healer was much better at inciting their motherly instincts. He’s also a better target for their wild, wild fantasies = =)
“…” XiaoYu hated unreasonable people the most, for he wasn’t good at arguing. He knew that the cause of this scene was most likely that last equipment he picked up – a mage’s robe with additional attributes and a blue glow.
He flipped through the tiny cat’s inventory and checked the stats of that robe. Defence +50. Intelligence +5. Chant time of Fire-attribute spells +5%. Absorb 10% of Undead attacks as player’s MP. Slots: 2. Level Limit: 50. Job Limit: Magician.
It was a rather nice gear for a mage after the Second Job Change. That’s why that mage hung on so tight to it.
“This is the one worth the most money.” XiaoYu took it out, threw it to the other three, stood up, and left the party. He headed towards the exit back to the last floor. Perhaps he should’ve went with his desires and not join this party. Perhaps he wasn’t suited to partying at all.
“D-Do you think we’re begging for scraps?” Snow was enraged by XiaoYu throwing the robe before her.
He really didn’t mean anything by it. His only thought was: Aren’t you just being cold and mocking just because you wanted this robe? Here, I’ll give it to you. We don’t need to split anything up now. I’ll just leave the party. Everyone just do their own thing. As for the throwing…XiaoYu was quite far away from them. He didn’t have the mood to kindly offer the equipment after being treated so unfairly.
“…” He stopped, turned and looked at that Snow mage in the eye. His gaze said, I’ve already given it to you. What more do you want?
Unfortunately, what Snow interpreted was quite different. She thought XiaoYu was using his gaze to tell her, “Weren’t you begging?”
With a “Fwoomph!”, Snow stood up. She aimed her wand at XiaoYu. She will not just take being enraged like this. That healer was humiliating her.
Realising that something was wrong, the other two hurriedly stood up and stopped Snow from attacking. Killing a healer levels below oneself was the worst crime in everyone’s eyes. It’s worse that not splitting up loot with a healer. They might be repeatedly killed back down by the top healers of the Healers Alliance.
Bad RNG: A semi-hidden nuance gone untranslated here. RNG in Chinese is written as RP, meaning the quality of a person (sort of based on the karma system – do good deeds and you’ll have good luck). Admitting they themselves had bad RP would imply they were bad people.