Kerafyrm, The Sleeper, Re-Revisited

A friend of mine made me aware of a new article about The 7 Biggest Dick Moves in the History of Online Gaming and noted that #5 on the list was Despawn of the Sleeper (EverQuest). Hey, I remember that. I showed the article to a couple of friends who remembered back in 2003 when I opted to spend 4 hours or so sitting in front of a computer rather than take up the offer to go to a bar and hang out with friends that I hadn't seen in a while, and some of them noted that the article only gave half of the story. Wikipedia's EverQuest article removed the part about us actually killing the Sleeper (I added it back in with references), but I remember back in the day when they had a dedicated article about Kerafyrm, that eventually got merged into the main EverQuest article.

This got me wondering what remaining info and insights on the encounter still existed on the internet. So I went around and collected some of them, and when the pages were long gone, I went to to look for a capture. There was a Sleeper Revisited post I made several years back that had a bunch of links, but most of them are dead. Here's a list for posterity's sake:

  • One of the most informative sites about the Sleeper, The Shadowknight's Den

    On November 17, 2003, those same 3 guilds returned to Sleeper's Tomb with GM consent and monitoring, and offically re-awoke, and killed the sleeper using the same tactic as the previous battle. The battle lasted a total of about 3 hours, involved well over 1000 rezes and had an attendance of nearly 200 people. The corpse lasted 30 seconds as it held no loot.

    The strategy used (as I have been lead to believe) was to forgo the old "Main Tank" method and simply have a truckload of clerics rezzing everyone who died who would then loot up, and rush in to die again. With such a strategy, many people suffered numerous deaths losing large portions of their level even after all their rezzes.

    The sleeper hit for maximum of 6999, quadded, and PROC'd a 20k Deathtouch. In addition he had a 20k Targetted death touch, refresh time unknown, no known range limit (he got people numerous times who were sitting down somewhere). He resisted all spell attempts except Manaburn, and Harmtouch. The fight was pure Range/Melee/Pets, and the Manaburn/Harmtouches when they recycled.

  • Ascending Dawn's news post, it's at the bottom
  • Magus Imperialis Magicus, it's at the top
  • Here is where Wudan's news post should be, but apparently the robots.txt told not to crawl it.
  • Charts for Raid damage against Kerafyrm
    271.55 DPS
  • Charts for Kerafyrm's damage against Raid
    1386 kills, 1410.69 DPS
  • Sony's apology (one of them).
  • Sony's congrats for killing Sleeper.
  • Ascending Dawn's news post: The Sleeper Saga Continues...

    It's been a fairly controversial 24 hours since Ascending Dawn, Wudan and MIM fought Kerafyrm. After finally deciding to awaken the sleeper the 3 guilds decided to attempt the unthinkable - and kill the unkillable Kerafyrm of Sleeper's Tomb. It's been attempted on other servers with the best attempt getting the anal-invader from hell down to 99% I believe. So it was a fairly certain that we wouldn't succeed... or so we thought....

  • Ascending Dawn's news post: Like Sands Through an Hour-Glass...
  • Saved a local copy of a screenshot of a chat with GM Zaltaran.
  • Saved a local copy of a screenshot of Dermel looting the Sleeper's corpse.
  • Log of people congratulating Trylun on getting killshot
  • My first post about Sleeper kill.
  • My revisited post about Sleeper kill.
  • Dave Evans' article on Corante: I saw God and I Killed it.

    There are two very distint crowds that play games, the 'casual gamer' and the 'hard core gamer' - or at least thats what the gaming industry says. There is probably a third category of 'I want to be a hard core gamer but I'm an adult and have a life'. We'll talk about that some other time. In any event, the casual and the hard core. I consider myself to be fairly hard core, only because I (a) love playing games, and (b) play them a lot. But I saw the true die hards last week, and I saw just how little the gaming industry understands some of them.

    Almost three hours into the fight, when victory looked possible, he disappeared, violating every rule in the world of Norrath on how a monster is supposed to behave. We thought you understood us better. The fact you let it happen the next night means very little - the point is on that first magical evening when warriors rode off to battle the supreme, you meddled. They thought of something you didn't, something legal by the rules of the game you set forward, and you meddled. In the parlance of the world you created: "shame & ridicule".

  • The Daily Summit article: Shame and Ridicule about how Sony handled the situation.

    People love a challenge - and many full-on gamers have (an at least slightly) obsessive nature. So 200 players, from the world's top guilds, clubbed together and spent four hours... clubbing the thing to the ground.

    And they had to do it twice - because the first time Sony couldn't believe what was happening and simply pulled the plug.

  • MMO Crunch's Top 5 Most Memorable Events in MMORPG History. This article has more of the backstory of why we woke the Sleeper in the first place.

    On November 15, 2003, on the Rallos Zek PvP server, the three top guilds (Ascending Dawn, Wudan, and Magus Imperialis Magicus) assembled over 180 players with the intent to wake and kill The Sleeper. This was in response to an attempt to wake The Sleeper by an Iksar monk named Stynkfyst, who partnered with the largest random-pk guild of the time. Having been a former member of uber-guild Ascending Dawn, he had the knowledge the random pk guild needed to wake The Sleeper. The top guilds did not assemble their forces until word of Stynkfyst's intentions had spread, and it became clear that he intended to wake The Sleeper, forever preventing future guilds from farming the old loot table. Until this point, waking The Sleeper had not been seriously considered by any guilds, as it was believed that waking The Sleeper would make the offending guild's players kill-on-sight to the other guilds of the server. After 3 hours and 15 minutes, at 26% health, Kerafyrm disappeared (despawned). The players talked with the EverQuest Game Masters, and there was a general consensus that a bug had caused the problem, although some suggested (backed by statements from one GM) that higher-ups at SOE had purposely despawned Kerafyrm, because it was not intended to be part of the story.

  • Magnifisyncopathological blog: The Death of Kerafyrm & What It Means

    They choose to take on a task that if completed, would leave them with an unknown reward. It wasn't even known if The Sleeper could be killed, what would happen if it died, and what the players would get for their efforts. Using 175 characters working for 3 hours results in 525 man-hours of coordinated effort for an outcome that was far from certain. Pretty impressive and a shining display of the power the human spirit will front in order to "do the impossible." Imagine the outcome of unleashing that human potential without restraint, without the roadblocks of taxes, licenses, and paperwork in it's way.

  • A small mention at Total PC Gaming's Top three Fantasy Battles
  • Old Kerafyrm page on Wikipedia.
Some other random forum discussions:
  • A fairly recent thread on Project 1999.
  • Saved a local copy of OP's screenshots.
  • Fires of Heaven guild's live thead.
  • EQ2 forums at Sony, also a bit of background info about the event.

    But as new lands were discovered, the governing guilds of the server weren't around so much to enforce these unwritten laws. Venturing into alter planes of existence and testing our might against the false gods themselves; the pk guilds began to get on a rise. Word leaked out that an infamous pk guild known as "The Curse" had made plans to increase their infamy and awaken the Sleeper; Kerafrym.

    No, we could not have that. Hastily, Ascending Dawn approached Wudan and Magus Imperialis Magicus to deliberate what we should do about this new information. Our three guilds were constantly reaping rewards and loot from new realms, and the old world was left defenseless in the face of this new rising guild of chaos and destruction! Out of that deliberation, it was decided that we would not allow The Curse to awaken the Sleeper with dishonor. It was declared that the three governing bodies of Rallos Zek should come together, despite any difference we might have with one another, and awaken Kerafyrm so that the server would still be saved of it's honor. It was discussed and decided that not only would we awaken Kerafyrm, but we would also put forth the attempt to kill Kerafyrm. To kill Kerafyrm was to kill the unkillable, thus forever marking our presence throughout Norrath and setting our honor into legend.

  • Slashdot
  • Games KB

    The most impressive part of the whole thing for me was several guilds on a red server managing not to each other over long enough to get something done. Even though some did try.

    On the Ascending Dawn website, there was a comment along the lines of people standing around taking screenshots of other people they hated getting death touched so they could make collages for their screensavers. Had to admit that that made me chuckle. :)

  • General Mayhem
  • lolDrama over at Graffe Wizard forums
  • Brells Serilis Rants, with someone claiming to be one of the GM's during the attempt. No idea how he/she was so drastically off with the head counts.
  • Rumors of Trylun getting "the Dragonslayer" title for killshot weren't true: Safehouse Rogue forum

Finally, there's this book written by Peter Ludlow and Mark Wallace called The Second Life Herald: the virtual tabloid that witnessed the dawn of the metaverse, a book about the emergence of virtual spaces from 2007. The book is actually pretty interesting and Rallos Zek and the Sleeper fight was mentioned in several places. You should definitely check it out or at least preview it from Google books. Here are some of the relevant excerpts:

Urizenus's termination left Ludlow taken aback, but around the time of Uri's death, an unusual event occured in an MMO called EverQuest that stirred Ludlow's passion to keep fighting what he saw as the good fight. Rather than battling each other, almost two hundred EverQuest players banded together to slay one of the supposedly unbeatable monsters that populated Norrath, the game's imaginary world. It had taken the small army two forays into the lair of the Kerafurm, a fearsom beast also known as The Sleeper - but not because The Sleeper had gotten the better of them on the first try.

Sony Online Entertainment, the company behind the game, was watching the first attempt on The Sleeper's "life" and realized that the unusual band of allies were prevailing. But SEO had intended The Sleeper to be unslayable. So when the monster had been beaten down to about a quarter of its strength, agents of SEO reset the game. Deus ex machina - the god in the machine - had come foward to save its "unkillable" beast. In effect, Sony saw it was losing the game and simply took its bat and ball and went home.

Take the example of the Sleeper, from chapter 1. When the rival guilds on EverQuest's Rallos Zek server banded together to challenge (and defeat) the unkillable Kerafyrm, they were doing more than just hoping to meet a particularly difficult challenge posed by the virtual world of EverQuest. Their task promised no economic reward at all. What they were doing was contributing something original to the metaverse itself, contributing to a rich narrative structure that encompassed not just Rallos Zek but the entire EverQuest franchise of servers and expansion packs and fan sites and more - a narrative that helps make EverQuest valuable to other players in the same way that the Gold Fiery Dragon Sword of Fortitude does: It helps make the game more fun.

"Hey," Koster [chief creative officer of Sony Online Entertainment] said. "There's a student here that was in the battle with the Sleeper." Ludlow's knees buckled at the news. In the early days of the Herald, it was the story of the brave guilds of Rallos Zek that had inspired him, and had served as a metaphor for much of his understanding of the relation between the owners of virtual worlds and their citizens. Koster pointed out the former combatant, who was studying games at Indiana University, and Ludlow introduced himself. He felt it was like meeting someone who had walked on the moon.

Ludlow soon discovered there had been a misunderstanding. "I hear you were in one of the guilds that fought the Sleeper on Rallos Zek," he said.
   "No, I wasn't on Zek," the student responded.
   "But Raph said you were in the battle against the Sleeper."
   "I wasn't in it, but I saw it."
   "I don't understand."
   "I was a game master. I was in the room when we respawned the Sleeper."


His heart racing, Ludlow could barely get his question out. "But why? Didn't you realize what you were doing? Why did you do it? How could you do it? Why did you stop them from killing the Sleeper?"

The kid took a drink and answered matter-of-factly. "Because, man. Sony told me it wasn't supposed to happen."

There was the problem. If virtual worlds continued to be ruled by monolithic, unimaginative corporations that could see no further than the laws of their software, and if we followed along blindly, there was little hope. Even if the metaverse became widely distributed there would be no great victory if people did not think carefully about the rules of the worlds they were creating - if they did not reflect on the values they were encoding into their corners of the metaverse.

But some people could imagine another way. The guilds of Rallos Zek could. So could the writers for the Herald. It was true that the Herald had no real power, but it could be a witness to what was happening, and it could offer people an alternative picture of how things could be. It would be up to others to decide what kind of worlds they wanted, but at least the Herald could question the current trajectory of virtual worlds. What the guilds of Rallos Zek had showed and what the survival and success of the Herald had showed was that imagining another way could lead to things being another way. Here too was hope.

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