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Loot - Mobs sometimes drop items and cash when they die. Both are referred to together as loot.

Mana - Magic points that are used to cast spells. Mana is regained through meditation or medding.

Med / Medding - Med is short for "Meditation" which spell-casters need to do to regain mana to cast spells.

Mob - computer-controlled creature or monster.

NPC - non-player character, a character that is controlled by the computer.

Spawn - mobs are regenerated as they are killed at fixed places after a fixed interval. The process is known as spawning. Can refer to both the process and the mob spawned.

Zone - Originally referred to the different areas of the world which due to different graphic sets involves temporary pauses as the game loads the new graphic set. This term has also come to refer to the boundary itself, as well as a verb, meaning to escape by crossing zones.

To play EverQuest, the game software has to be bought and a monthly connection fee has to be paid for server access. Players create their characters on one of the available servers. Each player can have up to 8 characters on each server. Once created, characters usually cannot be transferred from one server to another. A different copy of the game world resides on each server, and characters from different servers cannot interact with each other. The servers are like parallel universes, where the world and game mechanics are the same, but the people, economy and culture is different.

Characters can be created from 13 races and 14 classes. Each race has different advantages or disadvantages, such as infravision or low stamina. Examples of races are Barbarian, Wood Elf, Ogre, and Human. Classes are occupational niches that can be chosen, and different races have different class options. Each class has its own set of skills and abilities, as well as starting attributes. Examples of classes are Warrior, Druid, Wizard, and Rogue. Each character has a set of 7 attributes that determine its basic abilities. Examples are Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom, and Charisma. Attributes are numeric and each race/class combination starts with a base assignment of each attribute and given 25-30 bonus points to distribute among them during the character creation process. Character gender is also an available choice, and has no bearing on internal game mechanics apart from making the character visually different.

The world of Norrath is enormous and is divided into zones that vary from the snowy peaks of Everfrost, to the desert of Ro, to the swamps of Innothule. The world is separated into 3 main continents (5 with the expansions), and a journey from one end of the world to the other is an arduous trek. Characters begin at different parts of the world depending on their race. Each zone is populated with a different collection of computer-generated creatures, known as mobs. The underlying thrust of the game lies in killing mobs to gain experience so that the level of your character can increase. As you increase in level, you are able to kill more powerful mobs, get more money and items off their corpses (known as loot), and buy better items, so that you can kill even more powerful mobs and get more experience. As mobs are killed, they are regenerated after predetermined intervals at predefined locations, known as spawning and spawning sites respectively.

Attaining levels gets exponentially more difficult and takes an exponentially larger amount of time. Different race/class combinations use different strategies in killing mobs and gaining levels, and the game is easier (or harder) at certain stages of character development for certain race/class combination than for others. As characters increase in level, it becomes increasingly more difficult to adventure and kill higher level mobs alone. Characters often band together to form groups where the characters, of different races and classes, complement each other. Teamwork and grouping were designed to play an important role in the game as it usually becomes tedious to work alone, known as soloing.

Communication in the game takes place in a chat panel at the bottom of the screen. Different modes of communication are available, and the text is displayed in different colors depending on the mode. The basic modes are Say, Shout and Tell. Saying something allows anyone in the immediate area to see it displayed on their screen. Shouting something allows everyone in the immediate zone to see it. Telling someone only allows the person you tell to see it. The other modes include Auction, Out Of Character, Yell, and Guild functions. Auction is a specific channel that players can use to trade items, and is broadcasted through the zone. OOC is for out of character talk and is also broadcasted through the zone. Yelling (by typing "/y") indicates to people in the immediate area that you need help and tells them where you are relative to them. Guild functions allow guild members to communicate with each other.

Guilds are player creations that need to go through a petition and approval process. Any player can try to start a guild. A guild is essentially a club or social group that connects characters together. A guild can have any name that is not already being used. The petitioner needs to get 10 other characters who are willing to approve his or her guild. Then the guild is petitioned in EverQuest's chat server, and after approval is made part of the game on that server. All guild members have their guild names displayed next to their own names in the game. Guilds allow guild members to communicate with one another using the guild chat channel, allow for a sense of group membership, and allow coordination of larger-scale events in EverQuest such as zone raids.

When players log on to play the game, their characters start wherever they last left off. To log off the game, a character must sit down and set up camp. Setting up camp takes 30 seconds. This is done mainly so people would not be able to log off to end a hard battle. Characters can die in the game. When a character dies, the character is sent back to his starting point, known as bind point, which can be changed using spells. The character's equipment and possessions are all left on a corpse where the character died. To get his or her possessions back, a character must retrieve his or her own corpse, known as a corpse run. Corpses decay depending on the character's level, and if a corpse is not retrieved before it decays, it is lost forever. Some parts of the world prevent corpse retrieval altogether such as dying in a lava pool in Lavastorm.

Although most of the game mechanics are related to combat, there are aspects of the game that have nothing to do with combat. Characters can develop and train in trade skills apart from their combat skills. At high enough skill levels, characters can craft magical jewelry, brew potions, or smith banded armor that is otherwise not available in the game. Many characters supplement their income through these trade skills.