New expansions for EverQuest II and original EQ announced

Intent upon making sure you're forever tethered to your keyboard, Massively Multiplayer Online megapublisher Sony Online has announced two new additions to its role-playing EverQuest franchise. That sound you just heard was the sun, begging you to come outside, its voice already cracking because it knows you won't.

Both the original EverQuest and EverQuest II have switched from releasing an expansion every six months to releasing one per year (with more free updates along the way) - but it seems unlikely that players are going to be in danger of exhausting their supply of content.

Above: Too bad it won't look this good (a shot from EverQuest II: Echoes of Faydwer ).

We'll start with the old-school. It's been a whopping eight years since the original EverQuest hit store shelves and first earned the affectionate nickname EverCrack by soaking up huge hours of time from its adoring fans. Yet people keep playing and because of that, Sony keeps cranking out the expansions. The fourteenth of which, due this November, is Secrets of Faydwer. Sony isn't dishing many details of this addition yet, but we were able to squeeze out a few choice nuggets.

First off, this will be a "clockwork expansion" - which means lots of contraptions, and which could mean that the terrain won't be as similar to EQ II's foresty Faydwer as one might imagine. There are nine zones, one of which is actually set aboard a clockwork zeppelin. You can look for the level cap to jump up to 80, and for heroic items - which can deliver permanent boosts to equipment and weapons. Sony is also planning a "dynamic in-game event" to incorporate the expansion into EQ lore. Will it be catastrophe or carnival? We'll have to see.