Lake Rathetear is a large lake, almost a small sea, that sits nestled in the distant wilds of Antonica. Many individuals who like to get away from the main population centers come to here and the Rathe Mountains because of their relative seclusion, and the lake and its surroundings are home to many who have carved out their niche. Aviaks, spellcasters, goblins, ogres, bandits, barbarians, gypsies, gnolls, and the occasional hermit all reside in this area.
Lake Rathetear is a mid-level zone, and therefore is dangerous to people travelling through it who are of lower levels. The most dangerous part is the entrance from Southern Plains of Karana, which is heavily inhabited by gnolls during the day and undead at night. I recommend travelling through here at a brisk pace and invisible if possible if you cannot deal with these creatures.
The other significant danger is the fact that the zone is mostly aquatic. Relying on boats is chancy at best, because now that the zone is more heavily travelled, the boats aren't always at docks like they used to be. Most of the walls are scalable, and it's possible to walk around much of the zone clinging to a rock face, but there are definitely parts where you will be forced to swim. Why is this dangerous? First of all, unless you are a truly excellent swimmer, fighting the aqua goblins, sharks, deepwater goblins, or Webclaw in the water is not going to be an enjoyable experience. The other problem is that there is rumored to be a lake monster that roams the lake. I haven't heard of him harrying adventurers lately, but that doesn't mean he isn't simply resting...
The other miscellaneous dangers have to do with the way the zone is laid out, with little pockets of creatures and adventure separated from the zone edges by a lot of water. Also, the enemies either come in packs or are alone but hidden away inside of a tower or building, with very little nearby room to rest and relax. Stepping onto land can be a scary experience...
More specifically, the danger areas are as follows... The hermit lives in a hut with the door facing away from shore, so you can't see him. He is KOS to evil races, at least, as well as good races, and will attack you as soon as you step onto the dock, and is about level 19. I have a funny screen shot of my ogre in a raft with his dead body sitting on the front, because I had to /corpse my body onto the raft without stepping off of it, and then float to the nearby shore. The stone skeletons are inside of their tower, and you have to walk up slowly to see them hiding in there. I'm not sure what level they are, but they're able to summon pets... You be the judge. The orc and bandit camps in the north have very limited space to rest nearby, mostly just up on the hill behind them. I got there by levitating, and I'm not sure you can walk by them without them attacking. The northern entrance is very dangerous, although thankfully very camped these days. Undead and spellcasting gnolls thrive in this area, and are very difficult to avoid.
Lake Rathetear has many benefits due to its unique layout. It is not a large, open zone like many of the other outside areas (the plains and the deserts across Antonica). It is laid out more like places like Rathe Mountains and Butcherblock Mountains, with several areas that all can be considered their own mini-zones in which to hunt. As such, there can be present no less than 11 groups of campers if everyone was nice and took their own spot, and are often many more than that because certain areas (the entrance to South Karana, for instance) have a large number of dangerous spawns. I guess this is only of benefit if you like to camp, but its a good zone for that.
The lake's location next to Southern Plains of Karana and the Rathe Mountains also make it a very busy transit area, with many groups heading through on their way to nearby higher level zones. This is a good area to auction off or for items that you need. There are also places to sell and buy items, so a busy adventurer could spend weeks and never leave the zone (other than to go to the bank).
Travelling To and From Lake Rathetear
In the northwest corner of the lake along its northern shore lies the entrance to the Southern Plains of Karana. This is something of a gauntlet, as that specific area is infested with both gnolls and undead who will attack all on sight, and even hang out on the dock for your boat. Just west of this entrance lies the zone edge to the Arena, through a tunnel by some aviak lookout posts.
To the east lies the zone to Rathe Mountains, nestled in what is actually the largest open area in the zone, between a camp of ogres and a camp of bandits...
Nostalgia from 1999-2003 EQ Atlas Web Site