For one thing, we can trade Rare/Exclusive items.
I got tired of waiting around in the Woodcutters Den and decided to give the Boss's weathered scepter a little more wear than when she gave it to me.
Star Marmots infest the Central Forest. It's like Carbuncle went around spreading his light to every below-average intelligence female squirrel, chipmunk, and groundhog in the world. Star seems to imply condescending kindness in the form of a golden sticker to promote a false sense of achievement. If these vermin have luminosity, it's millions of light years away.
Lesson number one: even though Star Marmots are the lamest, low-level monsters, they will kill you if you stand there trying to figure out if there's still auto-attack like there was in Vana'diel. There isn't.
Their special attack is nut-kicker. Adianoeta at seventh-grade level!
Fortunately, in this world death seems to be punishable only by inconvenience. I haven't seen evidence of experience or skill point loss as a result, though maybe that punishment is saved for higher ranks when it would hurt more. Square likes surprises like that.
Once I got the hang of spamming my limited abilities, experience and skill points flowed like mucus from an opo-opo's nose.
That brings me to lesson number two: I hate monkeys.
It's really easy to get lulled into complacency. You target a marmot, spam abilities until it is dead, target a funguar, spam abilities until it is dead.
You might never notice that colored dot they told you about that is supposed to measure the difficulty rating.
You might see an adventurer faceplant next to a partially beaten Young Galago.
You might, caught up in the battle lust from playing at pest control, /shout VENGEANCE! and attack the monkey without noticing his red dot.
In hindsight, the gray name of that adventurer should have been a clue. Monkeys are apparently hard-core bad-ass.
I, apparently, am weak to having my teeth kicked in, and having poo flung at my head. Speaking of which, since when was lead part of a monkey's diet?
Back at the Gridania Aethyrite, I checked the time. Still plenty of time before the boss would notice. I kept grinding until Gontrant would give me levequests at Emerald Moss (yes, if I'm holding a garbage scepter, he'll speak to me. Jerk.) so I could kill monkeys for revenge.
The first quest was simple enough. Kill 4 Carrion Chiglets and 4 Curious Galago within 30 minutes.
I headed in the direction of the glowing arrow and found the first group. Finding all 8 monsters is easier than you expect, because monkeys and their fleas duo adventurers.
I blasted the Chigoe. It died, but its Galago friend was pissed. Seriously? I killed your flea. I did you a favor. Die in a fire.
It was easy. I was filled with confidence as I headed off toward the next group marked on my map. I didn't know to think it was weird that the other two groups weren't marked yet.
Shouldn't be difficult to repeat the previous strategy. Black flea. Check! Kill monkey. Check. It put up a good fight, and left me fairly bloody, but I killed it. I hate monkeys. I was about to shout about feasting on the monkeys entrails when I noticed something unsettling. A levequest target appears.
What was that?
Lesson 3: Sometimes, when you kill a levequest mob, aggressive new ones spawn on your head.
Lesson number 4: Bees are also aggressive.
I got XPed on by a 5 member party of monsters. They didn't bother with a healer.
I returned to the Aethyrite and ran back to them while still weakened. This time, instead of wading into the river of doom where they could reprise their gang-rape battle strategy, I picked one off from afar and took each of them out one at a time.
I prefer my battles to be fair and honorable... sniping. Barbaric thugs ganging up on the weak is only acceptable when they're on my side.
An Aethyrial node appears as I finish my quest. Before I took advantage of it, there was something I had to say to the Emerald Bees.
I traded them "Damnation" for their Bee Baskets.
Quick check for time back at Emerald Moss, and still hours before the Boss notices I'm gone. I initiate another levequest, this time I need to play exterminator again and clean up a mole problem.
Naked Moles? Who names these things? I'm going to find that guy and cast Fire on his pants.
The quest begins with a lot of walking west. Couldn't they have found problems for me to deal with that were a little closer to the camp? If I had an entourage of adventurers to babble advice at me while we walked briskly, we could make an episode of The West Wing.
All four of the moles I need to murder are hanging out together. This looks too easy.
The levequest target is attempting to flee!
Should have known it was too easy. How the hell did Goblin Smithy manage to punch and stab adventurers while running behind them? All I managed to get was "The target is too far away" messages while increasing the distance between us.
I gave up on running after him - I wasn't gaining - and went for the whole horror movie classic slow walk stalking.
Nuking five moles to their death is not something outside of my abilities. Simultaneously, however, is.