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Community News - April 2010

All About Mercenaries

04-20-2010

a deadly minion

Mercenaries

Mercenaries are NPCs for hire that will aid adventurers in their heroic endeavors. Their levels and abilities will scale appropriately and they will think and act for themselves with limited player guidance. They are designed for extra support or extra muscle in PvE encounters.

Unlike player pets, these NPCs are not directly controllable by players, though the player can give them general orders. They function like a normal party member including taking up a group slot and taking a share of the experience.

Mercenary Liaisons can be found in the Plane of Knowledge as well as all starting cities and will allow you to hire mercenaries based on their race. The Liaisons within the Plane of Knowledge will allow you to hire mercenaries of any player race. These merchants can be found using the Find ability.

Before purchasing a mercenary be sure to read the descriptions, cost value, and restrictions. There are different levels and tiers available. Some mercenaries may not available until you have completed certain content but there are some apprentice and journeyman ones available to all.

mercenary managing mercenaires
so many to choose from!

Mercenares have a one-time hire cost and an upkeep cost that is charged every 15 minutes. The hire cost is usually much higher than the upkeep cost.

There are two classes of Mercenaries available - Tank and Healer.

  • Healer Mercenary: Healer mercenaries prefer to heal and buff their owner and others in the group rather than engage directly in combat. These mercenaries can also resurrect players upon death.
  • Tank Mercenary: Tank mercenaries prefer to melee. They will taunt if it is set to the main tank role. Though it will still attack and behave as a secondary tank if it is not set as main tank.

If your group has someone with the puller role, mercenaries will only assist them when they and any NPCs chasing them are near camp. Any mercenary owned by the puller will stay back with the group.

Like pets, mercenaries will not aggro NPCs on their own.

Assist Mode:
Mercenaries have an Assist Mode with two options in the mercenary management window - "Auto Assist" and "Call Assist".

  • When "Auto Assist" is engaged, mercenaries should behave exactly as before with respect to what targets they use for attacking/healing.
  • Using a tank mercenary with "Auto Assist" disabled, the merc will wait for the "Call Assist" button to be pressed before engaging any targets. When the "Call Assist" button is pressed, all targets currently on the group enemy list (that are in his awareness range) will be added as valid targets and he will begin attacking using the normal AI for determining targets.
  • Using a healer mercenary with "Auto Assist" disabled, the merc will behave normally except you can press the "Call Assist" button to override normal rules for not healing pullers. If a puller is in the awareness range of the healer merc when "Call Assist" is pressed, it will have a 3 second window where it can drop a heal on them.
  • Commands:
    - /mercassist on -- Turns on mercenary auto-assist mode.
    - /mercassist off -- Turns off mercenary auto-assist mode.
    - /mercassist -- Calls for assist when your mercenary is not in auto-assist mode.

Mercenaries can be suspended like a pet, though they will remain suspended forever or until you dismiss them. Mercenaries will be suspended automatically when entering most raid zones. They must also be suspended before you join a raid.

If your mercenary dies, it can be revived after five minutes with an additional upkeep charge.

Some mercenaries may not think your gold is worth them risking their life. Those with higher confidence in themselves will cost more money.

Mercenary FAQ
(Compiled using notes from Community Member Kozvar and the EQ Team – Development, Community, Quality Assurance, and Customer Service)

Where can I hire these mercenaries?
Plane of Knowledge and starting cities will have mercenary liaisons.

Can I hire a mercenary to use alongside Jobaner?
Yes, you can have a pet and a mercenary up at the same time.

So we can have two pets at once now?
Not exactly...a mercenary is not a pet. It's a mercenary.

What classes can I hire as mercenaries?
Currently, only tank and healer mercenaries are available. More might be available as time goes on (like DPS or CC mercenaries).

Do the healer mercenaries heal pets?
Yes, it can heal a pet.

Are mercenaries restricted to Seeds of Destruction zones?
No, you can use them anywhere (except in raids), though they will require the SoD expansion to purchase.

Wait, I have to pay these things money?
Yes, they will have a specific initial "hire" fee, and then a different "upkeep" fee that will have to be paid every 15 minutes. This is why coin is weightless now, so you can carry plenty of it around to pay the upkeep for your mercenary.

Will they count toward the requirements for tasks/missions?
Yes, they do for most.

What are the healer stances?
Balanced: The healer will buff your party and heal any incoming damage with a balance between mana efficiency and effectiveness.

Efficient: Same as balanced except chooses heals based mostly on mana efficiency (might even let you die). Designed to be used in groups with other damage mitigation sources.

Reactive: Same as balanced except chooses heals based mostly on damage rate. Less likely to let you die, but more likely to run out of mana before the combat is over. Use in emergencies.

What are the tank stances?
Aggressive: When set to the main tank group role, the tank merc will attempt to get aggro from all hostile NPCs in its awareness radius.  It will use taunt, offensive and defensive abilities as necessary.  When not set to the main tank role, the tank merc will behave in a secondary tanking role, getting aggro from NPCs not yet attacking the main tank (if there is one).  The merc will not use taunts while it is not the main tank.

How does the puller group role affect mercenary behavior?
When you have a puller in the group, mercenaries will not react to the puller or anything targeting the puller until they are within 50 feet of “camp”.  Camp is a location that is roughly in the center of your group (not counting players that are more than 200 feet away).  Also, any mercenary owned by the current puller will follow other group members rather than its owner, or if there are no other group members will stay where it is.

Will a tank mercenary be subject to the same rules as my pet (i.e., will it be able to hold aggro over a PC in melee range of the mob)?
No, the mercenaries hold aggro over a PC in melee range, unlike pets.

Can I give the mercenary summoned gear?
No, you cannot gear the mercenaries.

Can the healer mercenary rez me if I die?
Yes, assuming the mercenary does not die as well. They will not rez while in-combat, to prevent abuse.

So wait, the mercenary can die?
Yes, the mercenary will have HP and can be killed just like any normal player.

Do mercenaries steal loot/coin from the group, ./split, etc.?
No, they will not be included in such things.

Can a healer mercenary change its mind mid-cast and interrupt their own spell to cast something different if the situation warrants it?
Yes, their AI is sophisticated enough to do this, though it's stance- and rank-specific to a degree.

Will the mercenary wipe a group by casting a heal on the puller while they're pulling?
No, this is where the new roles (MA, tank, puller) come into play- you set a puller as "puller" and the mercenary will know not to heal them when they're out of range splitting mobs.

Can my pet be set as MT?
Yes, if you set yourself (as the owner of the pet) to one of those roles, the pet will inherit that role.

Will the mercenaries have the same names as my pets? I don't want a mercenary named Goner!
No, they will use a different pool of names that are not pet names.

What will they look like?
The generally available mercenaries appear like player races with varying sets of equipment.  Once hired, a mercenary keeps the same appearance until dismissed.

So, tell me more about these "ranks".
"Apprentice" mercenaries have access to the more advanced stances.  They also have generally lower levels of power (stats, AC, HP).
"Journeyman" mercenaries have access to some of the more advanced stances and will generally have higher stats than “Apprentice” mercs.

What do the different tiers mean?
In addition to a general stats increase at each higher tier, each tier receives a confidence boost, insuring they will be less likely to engage in cowardly behavior.

What do I have to do to get access to the locked mercenaries?

Apprentice Tiers I - V and Journeyman Tier I will be available to everyone when the expansion launches. Journeyman Tiers II - V will be unlocked as you progress through the expansion content.

Do mercenaries count toward the required number of players needed to set a campfire?
No.

Can I use Suspend Minion on my mercenary?
No, but mercenaries have their own Suspend feature specific to them. It suspends the mercenary so you can keep it without having to pay the upkeep cost. Be aware that there are time penalties for suspending a mercenary too soon after unsuspending it.  This is to discourage use of the mercenary as a pocket rez, or pocket buffer.  You can use it as such, but it will cost you extra.

What's the point of suspending it if I might have to pay extra?
Let's say you're using your mercenary as the only healer in a group, then a cleric guildmate logs on and joins you. They expect to be around for a few hours, so this allows you to pocket the mercenary for those few hours that you won't need it. The alternative would be dismissing the merc, but as mentioned earlier, the initial cost to purchase a mercenary is set fairly high, so dismissing your mercenary a few times a week and having to re-hire one would get really expensive.

Will the healer mercenary buff me?
Yes, healer mercenaries will buff you with cleric buffs of the appropriate level.  Note that they only know spells appropriate to their level, so if you group with a lower level player outside the buffing level range the mercenary will not buff them.

Will mercenaries steal exp from me?
Yes, they'll take a portion of the exp like a normal player in your group would.

Will they wake mezzed mobs and kill enchanters (please say "Yes"!)?
No, they should not wake mezzed mobs.

Can mercenaries choose to leave you high and dry in the middle of a fight?
Yes, they can, actually. It should be relatively rare, and the likelihood of it happening goes down as you purchase better mercenaries, but they do have an innate chance to decide, "This fight looks like certain death, I'm out of here!" and flee. This is called a "confidence level" and the likelihood of it happening also goes up depending upon the level of the foes, so a red-con mob has a greater chance to scare the mercenary than a green-con mob.

Wait, what?
More information on confidence:

* Confidence is based off of the con of the enemies, the number of enemies, and any mitigating effects placed on them (stun/root/mez/charm/fear).
* The rating of an encounter is computed as a ratio of the number of group members vs. the number of enemies of even con. Enemies that are not of even con get counted as more or less than a single even con mob. Mitigating effects reduce the "enemy equivalents" an enemy is counted as.
* In a group of two (you and your merc), apprentice mercs are balanced to get nervous with more than 2 even cons. Journeymen get nervous around 4 even cons.
* The higher the tier of your merc, the less chance it has to lose confidence when the encounter rating is higher than its confidence. This is evaluated only when a new enemy adds to the encounter, and then it gives you 10 seconds to get the situation locked down before actually losing confidence.
* Their chance to lose confidence is 25%, 20%, 15%, 10%, 5% respectively for tiers 1 through 5.
* If a merc loses confidence it will be dropped to the bottom of any hate lists it is on (to avoid it dragging a bunch of mobs with it) and it runs a short distance.
* Once it has lost confidence, it will re-evaluate the encounter every tick to see if it is confident again. Mitigating effects will come into play here if mobs can be locked down.
* All in all, this is something that should be fairly rare and predictable for each grade and tier of merc.

Can mercenaries be feared/charmed?
Yes, they can generally be susceptible to the same detrimental effects that players are susceptible to. You cannot change their stance while they are charmed/feared. You can, however, dismiss the mercenary if you wish.

Can lower-level players use these?
Yes, though you will obviously not be able to hire the same type of mercenary a level 85 player can hire. The cost of the mercenary goes *up* as you gain levels, since they're going to want more money to stick around and help you as you move them into more difficult content.

Will they gain levels as I gain levels?
Yes, they should scale automatically as you level.

Ooh, I have the most brilliant idea! I'm just going to shroud down to level 5 to buy a mercenary cheaply, then unshroud and I'll have a dirt-cheap mercenary at level 85!

To prevent such abuses when you un-shroud or transfer the mercenary to a higher level player, you'll be charged the hire fee again--at the correct amount--for doing so.

Will my mercenary run off and aggro mobs like the old-school pets did?
No, they will not draw aggro from mobs unless you're actively attacking them.

Can stances be changed on-the-fly?
Yes, they can.

If I LD/log off, will my mercenary continue to charge me?
No, it will not.

How long will my mercenary stay in the world when I'm not?
It will disappear at the same time you do.

So I can keep my mercenary even when I log off?
Yes, mercenaries are meant to stay with you indefinitely- that's part of the reason for the previously-mentioned expensive initial hire cost. You're discouraged from actually dismissing them regularly.

Will mercenaries give mercy rezzes (rez someone else in my current zone that's not in my group but is desperately seeking a rez)?
No, they will only rez people in your group.

How often do I have to pay the upkeep fee for my mercenary?
Every 15 minutes.

Will they charge me even if I'm AFK?
If you set your mercenary’s stance to passive stance prior to going AFK it will stop charging you after a single billing period has gone by without changing stances.

Can I filter the mercenary spam?
Yes, the mercenary is set to announce to the group when it's doing things like healing, but it has its own filter system that can be used to deal with those messages as you see fit.

Can mercenaries fizzle?
Yes, they can.

Can I buff my mercenary?
Yes, they have the same amount of buff slots that players do (taking into account AA's).

If I run out of plat, can I transfer ownership of my mercenary to someone else?
Yes, if you transfer it to that person before you run out.  They will have to pay the upkeep costs though. If they can't, you'll get an error message telling you why the transfer didn't work.

Can mercenaries be used in all zones?
No, some zones are mercenary-restricted zones and your mercenary will be automatically suspended when you enter such a zone.

Can I rez my mercenary if it dies?
Yes, even if you are not a class that has rez spells, although there is a waiting period before that option becomes available (meaning you will have to wait five minutes from the time the mercenary dies before you will be allowed to rez it).

How can I get more information on the mercenaries?
This isn't enough? There's additional information in the mercenary UI windows.

The buffs a mercenary casts will last a third to half as long as the same player-cast buff due to the intentional absence of duration extention focus effcts, which means that a lot more mana is going to be expended by the mercenary to keep buffs up on the player / group.

The heals a mercenary casts suffer a similar fate because they won't benefit from all the varying focus effects that players have to improve their healing capabilities, and the ones they do have access to don't add anywhere near as much power to the spells as the players have.