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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Runescape Christmas 2012: A Stray In a Manger

A Stray in a Manger finally came out on 19 December, 2012.  It was so close to Christmas, I was starting to wonder if Runescape would get the update done in time.  Christmas content in Geilinor has had it's ups and downs.  Some fun, some not so fun.  The rewards over the years have had their ups and downs as well.

This year was one of my favorites.  I'm pretty certain it was Monique's all-time favorite Christmas special.  She's taken extra care of the Runescape stray dog for years.  Never kicks him away.  Always brings him a bone.  Even though he's a creature made of painted light, her heart goes out to him.  I guess he personifies all the real life strays that she would take in if possible.

To a lesser degree, it's the same for me.  After years of seeing the RS mongrel wandering around Varrock, it feels good to see him (and 3 other specially chosen strays) get some attention.

When you talk to your Snow Imp (near the Draynor Lodestone) he'll explain why he's the "pet Santa" this year.  Then ask for your help.  Finding the 4 dogs is quick and simple.  Putting the antlers on them and seeing them float up and away was an inspired touch.  Funny, yet heart-warming.

Your Snow Imp has different names for different players.  Mine was Morris.  Monique's was named Barry.  Go back to him, he'll ask you to clean up the strays.  Give them a quick bath, encounter an angry flea, and you get a small cutscene where he and the dogs depart for their night of deliveries.

After the work is done, you get to choose your favorite stray to adopt (but you can change your mind later and pick another dog).  Your Imp gives you a Kennel Flatpack, which becomes the basic dog house.  After that, you get the Gift of Giving.  Don't ask where it comes from.  You'll be sorry when you find out.  If you trade the Gift of Giving with other players, it continually renews itself and gives you more items.  Mostly, upgrades for the dog house.

After completing the adventure, I talked with Morris again, and he asked if I could help him find 4 lost implings.  When trading the Gift of Giving with other players, there's a chance of getting one of the 4 implings in a glass jar.  Use them on your imp, and he will award 50,000 bonus exp in Hunting... per impling.  That's a max of 200,000 bonus hunting exp!

The experience is doled out like the skill pendants.  You get the extra experience as you're hunting.  Once your GoG (gift of giving) has given you all 4 implings, and all the unique doghouse upgrades, it starts giving out junk items from previous holidays.  Nothing cool, just food and firecrackers.

You can't bank the Gift of Giving, but it will stay with you if you log out and back in.  To get enough unique players (you can't continue to swap the GoG with the same player), I moved to different worlds a few times.  World 60 was a good one.

If you destroy the GoG, the Imp will 'sick up' a new one upon request. But it doesn't take long to complete if you just keep trading.  I finished mine and then destroyed it.

Beyond "A Stray in A Manger", there are Christmas Implings flying around to catch, they'll drop the junk items too, and rarely the doghouse upgrades, but it's easier to get the upgrades by trading the GoG.  And Tradeable Christmas Gifts came out too.

The Tradeable Christmas Gifts can be had from the Squeal of Fortune (got two that way), and from random monster drops.  Or like Strange Rocks, while you're skilling.  Collect enough unique gift boxes, and you can combine them for better rewards.  If you don't have unique ones, you can trade other players, but not on the GE.  They have to be traded the old-fashioned way, player to player.  The rewards include mince pies, mistletoe (which comes with a 'kissing' emote) a Christmas Pudding amulet that grants bonus xp while training, and a Christmas Tree hat.  That last is supposed to be quite rare, and tradeable.
If you don't get all the unique colored gifts you're hunting for, you can trade with other players to complete your collection.

The only one that really catches my eye is the pudding amulet.  It grants double XP on the next 68,800 experience earned while being worn.  That's the max experience you can get, even if you have more than one amulet.  Stacks with the Festive Aura, which is nice.

This Christmas Runescape really hit a home run.  A heartwarming story, a permanent home for your chosen stray dog (and a flea circus!), and lots of customizing options.  Plenty of Christmas Implings to chase for fun.  Lots of player to player interaction with all the trading going on.  A very tasty exp reward in Hunting, plus the exp of the Pudding amulet.  And all the decorative rewards.

This was a satisfyingly rich Christmas offering.  As always, the forums are full of complaints.  Ignore the Scrooges saying "Bah humbug."  Go give your dog a home!

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