agrarian skies bootstrap

Agrarian Skies is a modpack and hardcore questing mod challenge map from Jadedcat and Morvelaira. It’s pretty awesome. It’s also pretty intimidating if you’ve never played skyblock before. I’d like to take a moment and go over some basic advice for getting started that should hopefully save you a lot of frustration.

Hardcore 101

First off. This modpack uses HQM, the hardcore questing mod. It also uses hunger tweaks and disables numerous low level recipes and increases the cost of a few others… many things are more difficult.

The most important thing to be aware of early on in the game (before you have a factory that makes you barrels of ham and cheese sandwiches) is your food consumption.

Actually, that’s second most important. The most important thing to be aware of is that you have a limited number of lives. When you die, it keeps track… and if you die too many times, you get booted from the world and can’t log back in without some major hassle on the part of the server administrator. By default, you have two lives.

You will earn more lives by turning in quests, but some early stupidity can ruin things very easy if you don’t pay attention. So pay attention. Don’t fall off of the world, don’t starve to death.

Starvation is probably your biggest enemy – you will not start off with much/any food. Some early quests give you apples, but they have been nerfed hard – you could eat 10 apples from starving and still not be full. Oh, and if you ever hit zero hunger, you die immediately. So there’s that too.

NB: Do not eat zombies. It will kill you. Horribly.


One of your early reward choices will be a Tinker’s Construct frying pan. Take the frying pan. You can place it on the ground and cook food with it – and it has knockback if used as a weapon, which is amazingly effective against mobs on narrow platforms.

Conserve your energy. Jumping, sprinting, breaking blocks, etc… all burn your hunger bar faster. So pay attention to what you’re doing even when it doesn’t look like you’re doing something dangerous. One of the best things you can do early on is find out ways to avoid jumping – since that’s almost always something you have a choice about.

Falling is probably your second biggest enemy. Don’t do it. Unfortunately, the map is designed to be easy to fall off of accidentally. Morvy made liberal use of FMP microblocks when building the starting islands… and they don’t honor sneaking (shift-walking).

The only other serious danger is from mobs… and as long as you keep things well lit, sleep through the night (pack has Morpheus installed so only 50% of all players online need to get to beds), and make liberal use of the F7 key to reveal possible mob spawn locations, it’s perfect to build yourself a world where mobs only spawn when you want them to.

Oh, and I guess there’s the nether… which is a lot tougher than normal. Don’t be surprised if you have to spend a few lives getting settled in if you ever decide to visit.

Skyblock 101

The other major trick to Agrarian Skies is that it is a skyblock map. This is to say you spawn on a small floating island with a limited set of resources and have to tech up to it. This means that dirt and cobblestone are actually highly valuable – especially early on. Every block you get will matter, and mistakes can potentially “lose the game” for you or at least set you back a while.

The two normal skyblock activities are manual tree farming and cobble generation. You’ll want to automate both of these processes as soon as possible – but it’s potentially hours into the game before you’ll be able to do either.

Did I mention that dirt is highly rare? Well, it is. Dirt is the most common normal vanilla minecraft block that is normally non-renewable. You don’t think about it much and most mods don’t either. But without it, you can’t grow food or trees, which really puts a damper on the whole not starving thing.

It’s not much of a spoiler, Pahimar revealed it in one of the first videos of the map, and if you’re looking for information on the subject… you’ll probably stumble across this. But underneath the dirt block you are given to start with on the AS islands is a chest containing more dirt. You’ll want to grab those and cuddle them close.

Similarly, you don’t have grass. That is, the green bit on top of the dirt that you don’t think about much either. Grass does not spawn naturally, it only spreads from other grass. So if you have dirt in isolation… it will never grow grass on its own… and grass is required for non-hostile mob spawns.

Thankfully, you will get a way to spawn some grass from the quest journal as you progress through it.

Ex Nihilo

The vanilla skyblock experience is pretty mundane. It is, after all, vanilla minecraft. But we’re not playing vanilla, we have mods.

The mod at the core of this entire experience is Ex Nihilo. It provides a path from trees to every normal resource in the game. It does this very simply with two blocks and two tools – and a few systems that rise from them. In regular gameplay, Ex Nihilo would be remarkably cheaty, but in skyblock, it sometimes feels like it isn’t quite enough…

The first block is the barrel. You can set wooden barrels out to catch rain or to compost spare biomass (including excess saplings, leaves, and zombie meat) – generating dirt.

The second block is the sieve. Sieves are your friend. You use them to break down blocks for a random chance of smaller things. Dirt sieves down to provide stones, which are combined into cobblestone. Dirt also has a chance of providing you with various seeds, etc… Feed gravel through sieves for gemstones and ore. Feed sand through if you want mycelium, etc… The full list is on the wiki here.

The first tool is the crook. This is a bent stick that you use to break leaves. It gives you a higher chance of dropping saplings, apples, etc… This means you’re less likely to waste your last sapling and get stuck.

Ex Nihilo also adds an additional drop to leaves – silkworms. These may either be cooked and eaten or may be right clicked on a leaf block to plant them on the tree. Wait a while and the worms will spread and eventually turn all of the leaves on the tree white. When this happens, you may harvest the leaves for string.

The second tool Ex Nihilo provides is a hammer. Hammers are a sort of poor man’s macerator. Certain blocks will break down into more fine grained materials when broken with a hammer. Cobble turns to gravel turns to sand turns to dust. Dust can be placed in a water bucket to make clay or sifted for a chance to find redstone, etc…

And that’s about it. Read the quest journal – it often gives instructions on a new process that you may be unfamiliar with from normal play – but don’t restrict yourself to completing quests. There are a LOT of possibilities that aren’t touched on by quests.

And good luck 🙂

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