There are two things about Crushbone that are most famous: trains and crowds. I cannot remember how many times I was peacefully clobbering Centurions and all of a sudden I have two emissaries and the Royal Guard pounding me senseless. Oh great someone trained the castle crew. Usually this gets followed by the nefarious DíVinn going on a rampage leaving a trail of bodies all over the place. It has to be said though with the maturing of the servers, DíVinn is less of a threat these days. Usually there are a few higher level players in the castle tower making sure DíVinn gets sent to the afterlife rather quickly. He is now camped as well since he drops the Dragoon Dirk.
But I am getting ahead of things. The first time I went into Crushbone I was about level 5. Some group members thought it would be a good idea to head over there. It was dark and I reluctantly entered the zone. The zone tunnel was in complete chaos there was a big battle going on between a group of Centurions and a group of players. We hurried past them and I promptly fell in a moat of some sorts. I swam around for a while, noticed a ladder and climbed out of the water to be greeted by a big Centurion who was entirely unimpressed by my wet Ranger clutching a rusty sword and proceeded to pummel me into the ground. However my group members found me and we killed the creature. I limped back to the zone and surveyed the corpses until some more Centurions showed up and I had to zone in a hurry.
On a good day, Crushbone is full of Orcs to annihilate. In a good group of people around level 6 you can do well in the open area directly after the zone. Many Centurions are there and if you are careful you can have a blast. They give good experience and drop decent loot sometimes from cloth armour to cracked staffs that sell for about 9 gold. When you advance in levels you can head deeper in to the slaver cave or the camp with the Legionnaires. And if you are in your teens you can venture into the castle and fight the Legionnaires there plus the rest of the castle crew providing you have a good group going.
On a bad day, Crushbone will be overcrowded, people will be stealing kills (many kill steal arguments have taken place on the trainer hill) and rampant trains will soon make you want to leave. An incompetent crew in the castle will probably cause Emperor Crush, the Prophet, the Royal Guard and the ever charming Ambassador DíVinn to come chasing them back to the zone, causing general mayhem and death to the unwary.
There are six general areas in Crushbone, I will describe them one at a time:
1) The Centurion grounds
A slightly pretentious name for lack of a better one. Basically this is the area directly after the zone including the zone tunnel itself. Great area for those around level 6. There are a few places inside the zone tunnel where Centurions and Pawns appear. They usually get killed by people that are resting there. The foolish Orcs will attack anybody who is sitting down even if they are many levels above them.
Just outside the tunnel there is an area tapering off to a point with a small bridge leading to some debris and not much else. In this area a few Centurions appear and there are three Centurions guarding the bridge. To the left just after the zone tunnel is another bridge guarded by two Centurions and the area after the bridge up to the rocky steps leading up also has a few Centurions in it.
To the right after the zone tunnel is a narrower path leading around the trainer hill up to the castle. This is the usual train route and leads to the more dangerous area in front of the castle. The legionnaires there will be too much to handle if youíre below 10 at least.
2) The trainer hill
This is the hill in front and to the right of the zone tunnel. On top of this hill is a circular area with a cooking pot in the middle. The Orc trainer appears here, surrounded by a group of Centurions. The trainer sometimes drops the shiny brass shield. In the older days and on younger servers this was and is a highly coveted item due to its magical resistance bonus. So there are always people waiting for the trainer to appear so they can kill him hoping to get the shield. Sometimes people walk in and take the kill from others leading to nasty arguments and general stress that you usually try to avoid while playing a game for fun. Once when unable to sleep at night I logged into EQ at 3am PST and the zone had three people in it. "Great" I thought and headed for the hill. Alas the only three people in the zone were camping the trainer. I shrugged and left. Never got one of those shiny shields and since Iím dual wielding now I never will. They sell for about 10pp these days on Solusek Ro. I think the trainer is around level 8 or so. Since about four Centurions appear on the hill around the trainer you need a group or some kind of understanding with whoever else is after the shield to take care of them and take turns fighting the trainer or something.
3) The slaver caves
After crossing the bridge to the left after the zone and crossing the small open area you can go up a small hill. When you get to the top you can see two small buildings and a cave across from them. The area around the buildings is filled with Centurions. There is also one Legionnaire that appears there now and then. I have seen him directly left of the hill or in the first mouth of the cave.
The largest of the two buildings contains a slaver and three slaves that are part of the Screaming Mace quest. The slaver is roughly the level of a Legionnaire. Sometimes the slavers drop keys that can be used to free slaves. Give a copper to a slave and they will tell you which key they need. Give them the correct key and they will be freed and give you some money and good faction hits. There is a system to the keys but it would be a bit too much to explain that here. Iíll leave that up to you to find out.
Inside the cave are two more slavers and the highly annoying Rondo Dunfire. Well lethal if youíre not prepared. Many people who have ventured into this cave have come out running and yelling Ďtrain!í with two slavers and Dunfire in tow (backstabbing them all the way). If they make it to the zone they will have picked up every Centurion on the way and chaos ensues. Needless to say be prepared when you enter that cave. Have a good group or a decent level so you can take the two slavers and Dunfire. Rondo drops his tongue which is part of a quest from Kaladim. His brothers and sister can be found in the Butcherblock mountains.
4) The camp
When you pass by the slaver caves you go uphill a bit and soon enter a camp. There are lots of tents, most of them with Orcs inside them. Lots of Centurions and a few Legionnaires live there. There is also a cave off to the side that connects this area to the slaver caves area. It exits left of the house across a small bridge. Inside this tunnel are a few Centurions and a Legionnaire sometimes appears as well. I have seen many bodies in or around this tunnel, when you are fighting Centurions and the Legionnaire shows up youíre in trouble. Be wary.
At the other side of the camp you will get to a narrow path that follows the castle moat on one side and a wall on the other. In the corner where the path starts a Legionnaire sometimes appears. The path will lead around the castle to the front entrance. That area can be dangerous since people often pull things from inside the castle to fight outside since itís a bit safer but when more people are there it can get pretty chaotic and when Crush or DíVinn decide to join the fray bodies start littering the place.
5) The other slavers
When you enter the zone and head right following the path that curves around the trainer hill and follow the wall on the right side (the left hand side is the usual path for castle trains) you will enter an area that opens up a bit to the right. That corner is actually quite safe to sit for a bit and meditate or nurse your wounds. There are a few pits there with slaves in them. If you killed slavers and got keys take a moment to free these pitiful dwarves and elves. At the back of this area is another cooking pot and two slavers appear there. There are also the obligatory Centurions of course.
Down in the pit to the back is a poor Gnome by the name of Rentlong Bentlong. He has a pet and can be freed as well with a key.Only problem is that when you free him he goes loose and attacks all non-shorties.Heís a mage and his fire elemental pet is pretty tough around lvl16 or so.
There is one more Orc that appears in the back of this area, the Taskmaster. He drops a whip and the occasional earring.
This is the final area of Crushbone. The home of Emperor Crush himself. Oh and a fellow by the name of DíVinn also frequents there. But there is a room full of Legionnaires, Oracles and Emissaries to get past first.
Before entering the castle you can explore the courtyard a bit. There are some Legionnaires, the occasional Oracle and the very elusive Warlord to be found there. Take care with the Oracles. Not only do they have the nasty habit of healing other Orcs (very unsettling when the Legionnaire youíre fighting is getting healed) but they can also root you. This means you canít move and if you get in trouble youíre pretty much dead.
The Warlord is actually the most sought after creature in Crushbone. Not only is he very rare he also carries the still very highly valued Bracers of Battle. These are not only a fine pair of bracers (nice stat bonuses) but also part of the Screaming Mace quest. People are still very much after these things, they sell well. This means the Warlordís life span is about as long as a snowballís in a firestorm. Heís about level 16. I actually bumped into him once and killed him. No bracers but he did drop a bronze weapon. Every once in a while when not doing much else I venture in to Crushbone just to see if I get lucky again and pick the guy up on tracking. But it is very much a question of luck. He appears at 45 minute intervals (so I have heard) and at various places around the castle.
Once you open the door to the castle and walk down the hallway youíve entered the toughest part of Crushbone. Also sadly enough the most camped part these days. People will be sitting in an empty throne rooms and any Orc that appears will be blasted to smithereens in no time. If you are lucky and find it relatively empty it can be a great place for those in their mid-teens. Legionnaires appear throughout the whole area. Once inside there is a table at one end and a throne at the other. Behind the table an Oracle appears, emissaries and another oracle appear throughout the throne room. In front of the throne itself Lord Darish and an exceptionally tough Legionnaire appear in turns. Darish is still wanted for the Dwarven axes he sometimes drops. The 1h dwarven axe is a good weapon and the 2 hander rarer and also pretty good. Sometimes I have walked into the throne room to find it devoid of players and full of Orcs. In this situation it is hard to clear it out because fighting one pretty much means fighting them all. At lvl22 you can fight in the back and most others will ignore you but at lower levels the whole room will happily join the fight.
Behind the throne is a stairway leading up to the tower. In the middle of this stairway the Royal Guard appears. He is about lvl17 and does some nasty backstabbing. He also drops bronze weapons. In the tower room itself The Prophet, Emperor Crush and Ambassador DíVinn appear. The Prophet is a spell caster a bit like a tougher version of an Oracle. He drops Thergonís Spellbook, a lore item that is part of an AkíAnon quest. Crush himself is about lvl20 and sometimes drops a Dwarven Ringmail tunic. A perfect item for a mid-teens wood elf or other small race. Still pretty much in fashion but I have seen them sell for little or even given away by generous higher level players.
Finally there is DíVinn. The infamous dark elf Ambassador. He appears in the castle room right next to Crush. Sometimes a Centurion appears in his place and when this Centurion gets killed chances are DíVinn will make an appearance next. Now DíVinn is one of those creatures that cons way lower than he actually is. At lvl22 he cons low blue on rangers (that means he is about lvl20) but you will definitely lose the fight. I know of lvl 20 casters that can solo him so itís a matter of who you are. A good group of high teens should be able to handle him. The fact that he is fast, hits very hard and attacks anyone makes him particularly nasty. Many times you will hear shouts about DíVinn being out or being trained to the zone. At that moment it is best to make a quick exit, cast camo/invis or find a safe spot if you are too inexperienced to handle him. After he started dropping the Dragoon Dirk he has become a target for higher level players wanting this weapon. It is still the weapon of choice for many rogues and dual-wielding fighters.
One popular escape route from the castle is to jump out of the windows. Your pursuers may or may not follow depending on other available victims. But itís faster than darting through the sometimes crowded hallway picking up a few Legionnaires in the process. If you are a good swimmer you could jump into the moat and swim right towards the back of the slaver cave, there is an entrance from the water there. Orcs do swim however and I have seen poor souls swimming frantically around the moat with several Orcs in pursuit. I have heard of people being rooted under water and dying a miserable drowning death. So be careful is all I can say.
There are several quests concerning Crushbone:
First of all there is the screaming mace. It is a fairly involved quest that has you collecting the Bracers of Battle and Crushís Tunic. Talk to the slaves inside the house by the slaver cave and youíre on your way.
Centurions will drop Crushbone belts and Legionnaires will drop Legionnaire shoulder pads. These can be taken to a Dwarf named Canloe Nusbeck in Kaladim who will reward you pretty well for them.
There is a merchant in Kelethin named Landaien who will make a Banded Orc vest in exchange for a crushbone belt, a pair of Legionnaire shoulder pads and 10gp. These are decent pieces of armour since they protect you from disease and they look black on you for that spiffy fashion statement. They do drop your charisma by 5 however and only elves can wear them.
DíVinns heart. After you kill the fiend
you can take his black heart. Itís part of a Paladin quest from Felwithe.
After this long story I guess all is left to say that Crushbone is a good zone for those between levels 6 and 20. After 20 it gets a bit stale and there are way better places to hang out at that point. I alternated Crushbone with Butcherblock in my low teens and did several long and fulfilling trips to Antonica in my higher teens. It gets tiring after a while killing Orc upon Orc and dealing with the maddening trains. Not to mention the crowded circumstances sometimes. But I have had great times in there in good groups raking in the experience and returning home to deposit good money in my bank account.
Good luck and happy hunting.