Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Inherent Trollish Superiority

'ello, mon! Stop from The Stoppable Force here, briefly taking over Jezriyah's blog. I read somewhere recently that trolls continue to be the least-played race in the Horde ranks, and that, my friends, is a damned crying shame. I'm going to hijack Jezriyah's blog to remind you that trolls are better than whatever race you picked. Don't believe me? Let's take it race-by-race.

Humans: Bah, where do I begin? Humans don't have awesome tusks. Humans have stupid haircuts. (Here's a drinking game: hang around Dalaran, and every time you see a male human with a blood elf haircut, drink. Spoiler: don't make any plans for the rest of the night.) Female humans have a perpetually glassy look in their eyes that kind of makes it look like maybe they've been breathing a goblin engineer's fumes for too long. Oh, and lest we forget, the men all have unrealistically buff builds when unarmored, but put that armor on and put them beside any other race and they look positively puny. Talk about false expectations...

Dwarves: Stumpy little beard-wearing rock-diggers. They've got the hunting thing all wrong, and Blizzard buys into it - bows should totally be the superior endgame weapons, proving once again that Blizzard favors the Alliance. Plus they keep insisting on interestin' me inna pint, but I've had dwarven stout - and frankly, I'm more interested in some o'dat troll voodoo.

Gnomes: Appetizers. Moving along.

Night Elves: Conclusive research has proven that night elves are basically troll descendants. They're what you'd get if you took a troll, gave it blank eyes and bigger ears, manhands for all the ladies, and an irrepressible urge to dance naked on mailboxes. Trolls are learning to be druids in Cataclysm because frankly, night elves are a complete and total embarrassment to their original species. Trolls: the better night elves.

Draenei: Now, you can say a lot about trolls. You can say that trolls remained primitive for a long time, and this is true. You can say that trolls have a nasty tendency to eat their enemies and sometimes their friends, and this is true. But can you say that trolls have ever made a deal with the fel influence of the Burning Legion, leading to the corruption of Sargeras and destroying an entire planet in the process, indirectly getting their own race wiped out by rampaging orcs, and - lest we forget - crashing an interdimensional spaceship into an island chain off the coast of Kalimdor? No, you can not.

Orcs: Ordinarily it'd be hard for me to say anything bad about the orcs, but they've put Garrosh in charge and seem perfectly content to leave him there. Barring that - he does seem to be growing on people - orcs could use some help with their tusks. Troll tusks are clearly superior - look at your average male troll, who could easily dig a grave with his tusks (and then put you in it with his bow skills).

Tauren: Well, someone's got to be the main course, right? Gnome frittata for a starter, tauren steaks for the main course. Moo!

Forsaken: The trolls and the Forsaken do have a little bit in common: namely, terrible posture. However, the trolls have enlightenment. We long since learned to stop trying to wear shoes, whereas the Forsaken seem completely unable to dress themselves without tearing everything apart. You'd think with that much exposed bone, you'd want to be a little more careful... Then again, when you smell as bad as these zombies, and, oh yeah, your leader has a traitorous plan to wipe out all living things on Azeroth, including your own allies, maybe you don't care about a little broken elbow or two.

Blood Elves: After those gnome frittatas and tauren steaks, we're going to need to get toothpicks from somewhere. I can clearly see your blood elf's ribs from here, and it looks like those would do nicely.

In short, it's time you go to WoW account management and pony up the cash to make yourself into a troll. And with that, I'll be seein' ya!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Delivered to the Regent-Lord of Quel'Thalas

The note is written in patchwork Thalassian -- nearly fluent, but not quite -- on fine, though unpersonalized, parchment, the best available to the layman from the vendors of Dalaran. The handwriting is painstaking, the carefully-lettered work of one whose native alphabet isn't nearly so graceful. The wax seal is a plain insignia of the Horde.

Regent-Lord Theron,

I pray this letter finds you well, if it reaches your hands at all. I write to you concerning the events that transpired at the Sunwell when I arrived with the reforged Quel'Delar.

While I am an outsider to your people, I'm sure you're keenly aware of what strange bedfellows a shared strife can make. The sin'dorei joined the Horde at roughly the same time that I came of age and joined my brethren on the battlefield. In that way, we somewhat joined the Horde together. I have spent countless days sharing bunkers and battlefields with your people, and count many of them among my dearest friends.

It is through these friends and some bit of study that I gained what knowledge I have of your people's background and history. The Darkspear as well have suffered displacement and near genocide. I know well the feeling of uncertainty for your entire people's future on Azeroth. Despite your mistreatment at the hands of the Amani, most of your people have welcomed me as a friend and ally. Your collective loyalty and kindness remain near my heart, and I am honored to count you all as brothers and sisters of the Horde.

Save for the bane of Trol'kalar, I am mostly unfamiliar with even the idea of such powerful weapons as the one that rests beside me now, but I can appreciate its historical significance to your people. I can also understand how unsettling it may have been for you to see me carrying it, and your desire to see it restored to your own people. I wish to assure you I hold no ill will towards you or the sin'dorei for your actions at the Sunwell. (Nor do I believe you deserved the scolding you were given by an ambassador who had no deserved concern for the matter, but that is irrelevant to the subject at hand.)

I do not know why this weapon has chosen me as its wielder, but I do know that its mission is greater than either your people or mine. Tonight, with Quel'Delar at my side, I will be joining the forces of the Ashen Verdict in breaching the defenses of Icecrown Citadel. The sword will continue its delayed journey into the heart of the Scourge, and if the loa, the Well, the Light, and whatever other powers we may appeal to be willing, defeat the threat that has taken so much from both of us. If it should fall, then it shall fall as it did before: in the defense of not only Silvermoon and Orgrimmar, but all of Azeroth.

I remain at your command as a leader and at your side as a sister of the Horde.

Jezriyah, of the Darkspear

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

test post

This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but with a spoiler warning.

Friday, October 30, 2009

I Don't Know What Your Guild Does On Friday Night...

...but mine raids Honor Hold.

Okay, technically it was our weekly Friday Night Old School Raid. We'd knocked out Gruul and Magtheridon already, and neither Kazzak or Doomwalker was up, and we capped all the PvP bases, and this was just how bored we were.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

In Her Own Words: A Brief Interlude with Ms. Sparkshard

Of every single reagent on this planet that this stupid human could need for this stupid explosive for this stupid Venture Company setup. Urgh.

Westfall. Westfall! I've yet to hear a convincing argument from anybody as to why Westfall even exists. The most miserable patch of dirt, and more dirt, and corn, and dirt, ever to -- and there's a freaking dust devil and I kill the thing and it doesn't have any of this stuff he needs.

Collin, I told him, dear esteemed colleague of mine, I swear to you, I will go march through the Dark Portal right now and bring you back the tusks of a Fel Orc if it means not chasing dust devils through Westfall. All I'm saying is there have been generations upon generations of quel'dorei and gnomish mages who've completely ignored the existence of this place and I'm sure one of them somewhere could figure out how to blow something up at a large range.

And I can't even find any more of the forsaken things. Ten more minutes, Collin, and then the goblins can have Stonetalon.

Friday, October 9, 2009

For the Love of Small Victories

So the glut of information from the 3.3 PTR has already started rolling in. I do already have toons there (Jezriyah and Detusked on Horde, Tuskless on Alliance -- hit a sister up, I'm horrible at finding people to actually test stuff with) but I hadn't done much so far. Last night I grabbed hold of my boyfriend and demanded he copy something over so we could nose around the new content.

We suited up our shiny new premade toons and plunged into the Forge of Souls. The group was abysmal -- a resto shaman who kept yelling at me for being too far away so his chain heals on me weren't hitting the tank, a pally tank who didn't understand the word 'kite', and another ret pally who was wearing holy gear ("For the duration increase"... duration of what, I didn't bother asking). But we were all premades in full T9 and it was the non-heroic instance, so we kind of steamrolled it anyway. I'll be getting together a semi-competent group and going in on heroic soon to get a better feel for it.

The lorey bits in the beginning are awesome, at least Hordeside. Sylvanas has heard of how uber you are and is glad to have you along. She gives you a rundown on the mission should you ask for it, and sends you on your merry way. (Yes, I did run in and do the lorey bits on Jez before giving up and making a premade.)

I won't go into the fight mechanics and the like, since the group comp didn't allow for much study of it. The one thing I noticed most was... well, this.

We have made some changes to the way creature and character nameplates display in the game and would like to get feedback from those of you on the public test realms. There are three significant changes you should notice:

• The range at which you can see the nameplates is now much longer.
• You can no longer see the nameplates through objects which block line of sight.
• Instead of the nameplates trying to sort themselves, they just overlap. We think this makes them more useful for very large groups (example: Onyxia whelps).

That comes straight from Zarhym -- who is, officially, my new best friend.

The overlap, granted, can be a bit questionable depending on the size of the mobs and whether you're single-targeting or AoEing them. But the improved range is completely. Fucking. Awesome.

I'm a marksman, in the strictest sense of the word. I am ranged. I am at my most comfortable when I'm as far away from my target as I can possibly be while still sticking to the boss strategy. Unfortunately, the range on nameplates is much shorter than my maximum pew-pew range, so I usually end up either coming in closer than I'm comfortable, or frantically tab-targeting (I know, I know) to pick out my next target.

On the 3.3 PTR, I can stay back as far as I want from a group of four mobs, and their nameplates are not only visible and easily clicked, but also do not take up more screen real estate than the mobs themselves. It was glorious.

It's funny. Of all the awesome things coming through in this patch, all the stuff I should be foaming at the tusks for -- this is what sticks out and makes me squee.

So how about you crazy cats? What's been your favorite tiny, "inconsequential" change that either hugely helped your gameplay or just plain made you super happy?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Late To The Party

It's been over a month since my last blog post and I still have nothing to say.

I've been active on Twitter still. I attended BlizzCon last month. I played through the first half of the Goblin 5-10 zone, but didn't get to finish it (the third quest took FOREVER because of the number of us killing the mobs, and I never caught up before time got called). I met many fellow WoW tweeters and bloggers. Shenanigans were had. A drunken zombie passed out in my room. I came home with a small army of baby Murlocs and an angry black dragon on a t-shirt.

I was flattered by an invitation to guest on the Blueberry Workshop Podcast over at SES, in which I expound upon my most recent in-game adventures. Short version: the guild has cleared the Trial of the Crusader twice now. I'll hopefully be able to drag a boss-by-boss breakdown of the place out of my ass soon here (like the one I never finished for Ulduar). We tried some hard modes in Ulduar and only managed one of them, but did decently at others. I apparently missed the "understanding armor pen and why it's cool" meeting that all of hunterdom held, and I'm just now starting to grasp it now that it's about to get nerfed. Fun times.

I've kicked around PvP some, but I'm just now reaching the steep bit of the learning curve -- I'm "alright" now, but in order to progress to "decent" I have to start putting a lot more effort into it. Some of my best-beloved guildies (DK, rogue and tree) have put together a quite accomplished little 3s team, and I get a little jealous listening to them do matches on Vent. I'm just not sure if I feel like putting in the work required to make me a decent teammate. Basically, I can either do some intense study and build a PvP technique/spec/gearset, or just continue to tab-target-serpent-silence my way through Wintergrasp and the occasional BG spree, patching together a set with enough resilience to keep me from being eaten alive. Decisions, decisions.

On the personal front... a lot has changed. I'm no longer at my previous job -- which, as I told Rilgon on the BWS podcast, is where I did most of my blog writing. And I'm at that sort of fuzzy young adult stage where I'm still not certain what I want to be when I grow up, and I'm completely out of ideas for what kind of job to look for. So I'm at a loss.

ETA: Also, I have a pet retadin now. Who was sad that he wasn't mentioned in the "personal life" part of the blog post, so here he is. I went to visit him right after BlizzCon, and I miss him and the beach terribly. *blows kisses*

WoW is pretty much the only thing I occupy my time with nowadays, and some part of me instinctively says the answer is to get away from it, to regroup and refocus my energy and build the rest of my life.

Buuuuuut I know that wouldn't work.

So I'm considering doing the next best thing: try and get deeper into the game. Right now it's just what I do by default, because it's where my friends are. Maybe I'll feel better about it if I make it into a legitimate hobby. I've been missing school lately, the whole studying and learning thing -- maybe I can turn Warcraft into that. We'll see. Either way, I hope to be kicking my ass into gear soon and making something more out of this blog. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Patch 3.2, Summarized





(My guild leader did every single level 80 heroic today. I know he's not the only one, but I wanted to reassure those of us who need to know we're not that bad.)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

So one of my favorite fellow hunter bloggers, Klin at Slow Wolf, is hanging up his bow. His last post before announcing his retirement was the beginning of the Hellfire Ramparts Speed Run Meme.

Rules and Guidelines:
• Start the timer the second you walk inside.
• You have to kill everything inside.
• You have to loot everything inside. Skinning is optional.
• Stop the timer the second you walk outside.
• To keep costs down, no raid foods and flasks. Health and Mana potions included.
• Bandages and plain food/drink (Mana Strudel works
well!) are fine though, to help with the speedy recovery of a bad pull.

So here are Jezriyah and Micropterus, victorious, at 20 minutes, 4 seconds.

Klinderas himself hit 18:22, and Rilgon (being both 1. a bitch and 2. hax) hit 13:14. So I'm lagging behind the crowd, but I probably could have moved faster. I'm always a little gun-shy when it comes to Mikey's AOE tanking abilities, and I've always been more comfortable doing single-target damage than flailing volleys at stuff. I'd have beaten 20 minutes if I didn't have to sit down and eat before the giant demon boss dude.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Our Collective Impending Doom (Part 1)

This post is in response to Horde v Alliance, Let's Get This Party Started as posted by Doooooooog Dueg. It was started the day after he made the post; it has been delayed by my writer's block, but here it finally is!

So Master Duegathalas has begged my forgiveness for suggesting that my Warchief be unceremoniously disposed of for the sake of game plot. I have not yet decided whether I am going to give it.

Okay, so I will, because I ♥ Dueg. Trollsie be a sucker for a man with a twirlable 'stache and a great big... crit rating. But the post inspired me to think back on some vague ideas I had about upcoming events.

It is pretty glaringly obvious at this point that Blizzard doesn't want us to like each other anymore. The "War" in Warcraft is intended to be the two factions against each other, as well as the various and sundry Scourges and Old Gods and Legions and other assorted evil crap that occasionally tries to eat Azeroth. This whole "tenuous peace" thing they talked about in the original game trailer is, for better or worse, done with. But if we're going to turn this into all out fuck-your-mother warfare between the two sides, one side or another is going to have to fire the first shot -- either overtly, or by making it look like the other side did.

I'll give Dueg credit for his basic point: Thrall is a major stumbling block to this. It's awfully hard to have war between two factions when the leader of one of those factions is staunchly against it. And I know I have, in fits of fangirl rage, demanded that Blizzard just have him assassinated already rather than continuing to water down his character in the face of Hellscream's petulance. But Thrall is one of the two most beloved leaders in the game, tied only with Sylvanas for fan devotion. Frankly, I don't think Blizzard wants this war hard enough to actually do the deed. As well they shouldn't; he's one of the strongest "good person trying to do the right thing" storylines in the Warcraft universe, and call me a sap, but that's worth hanging on to. They can't kill off Thrall for the same reason J.K. Rowling couldn't kill off Harry Potter -- to have a character the reader/player is that invested in fight that long and hard for their goal only to die in the end is just too fucking depressing, especially in a universe with so much sad, stressful and straight-up tragic shit going on.

So we're left with two ways this war can happen: either Thrall somehow ends up out of power, or Varian pushes the envelope so far that even Thrall can't turn the other cheek.

Let's look at the first option. There's not a really defined line of succession in the Horde, at least not that I've been able to see. If Thrall just randomly shuffled off this mortal coil -- hit the peace pipe too hard and took a nose-dive off Thunder Bluff or something -- the most likely successor would be Saurfang. He's still "High Overlord" to Garrosh's "Overlord" after all, and was sent to Warsong Hold to babysit him.

There's one catch to this, though: would Saurfang take power? Unlike either Thrall or Garrosh, he lived through Mannoroth's blood curse. And we've seen, in both the 3.0 Scourge invasion of Orgrimmar and that one quest in Borean Tundra, that he can still be pushed into that bloodthirsty rage, glowing red eyes and all. This in itself isn't really a problem for a Warchief, but it's also made clear in his dialogue with Garrosh in Warsong Hold that he clearly remembers the atrocities the orcs committed from within that rage, and deeply regrets them. (If you're Alliance, or not to Northrend yet, or went through Howling Fjord exclusively, do yourself a favor and look that up. It's an incredible speech.) Given that he seems to oppose balls-out bloodshed himself, he probably wouldn't want anyone with those tendencies in charge -- himself included.

But at the end of it... "I won't let you take us down that dark path again, young Hellscream. I'll kill you myself before that day comes." If the two of them were the only options for leadership of the Horde in Thrall's absence, Saurfang may well realize that he's the better choice.

This, of course, is presuming that Thrall were simply removed from the picture by an outside source such as illness or battle. That is not the only way he could leave power.

Aside from just directly disobeying Thrall, Garrosh has also insulted him to his face. "A true Warchief would never ally with cowards." He has absolutely no faith in Thrall's leadership these days; a far cry from how honorably he treated him in Nagrand. It's well within possibility that Garrosh could stage a coup -- bloody or otherwise -- and seize command of the Horde, or at least the orcs, himself. There is a common presumption among the lore-minded (though it's not been stated in-game) that the reason Thrall keeps Garrosh in power despite his insubordination is a massive amount of public support for him, partly as reverence for his father, and partly from citizens who agree with his anger towards the Alliance. If this is true, it'd be very easy for him to take power, especially if he were to frame it as 'inaction vs. action' as opposed to 'peace vs. war'. He may not have been able to best Thrall in one-on-one combat*, but a takeover would be easy enough if he could change the right minds. This speaks only to control of the orcs, of course, but Blizzard hasn't gone to any great lengths to show us how the other Alliance races react to Wrynn's grandstanding, so I doubt we'd hear much about the Horde reacting to this turn of events either. The trolls and tauren are still very reliant on the orcs, the blood elves are still very reliant on the Forsaken, and I doubt Sylvanas would particularly care. ("We still gonna fuck Arthas up?" "Sure." "OK, have fun.") And with Garrosh in full command of the Horde, it wouldn't take more than a cockeyed look from one side or the other to get a war started.

Hellscream taking power by hook or by crook seems like the most likely way for Thrall to end up out of the picture -- he could still be assassinated by the Alliance, but that would 1) leave the progression of power in too much question, and leadership likely to go to Saurfang or Eitrigg or someone else with some damn sense, and 2) make no sense from Varian's point of view. Even he has to realize that Thrall is the only reason we aren't at war yet, and that taking him out won't do anyone any favors. The exception to this would be if Varian had Thrall assassinated to get Garrosh in power, who'd be likely to attack the Alliance and let Varian have his war without having to look like the aggressor... but he's not exactly shown any qualms about being seen as an aggressor so far, and that still leaves point 1 open, that Garrosh is by no means the heir apparent to the position.

Now let's go back to that second option from the beginning: Varian does something so completely over the top that even our peace-loving Warchief is pushed to action. While Thrall has been a celebrated soldier for his entire life, it's always been in defense of his people, so the obvious possibility would be the Alliance simply taking the initiative and starting themselves a war. But that seems terribly unlikely, even coming from Wrynn. And the only time in lore we've ever seen Thrall pushed to a true bloodthirsty rage was the fall of Durnholde -- after an arrogant human leader had ordered his feisty, blond-haired best friend executed for defying orders to help him.

Oh, dear.

There's definitely not enough basis for this to happen yet, no. But let's say push comes to shove. Wrynn demands that Jaina cut off all ties to Thrall and Orgrimmar, and she refuses. Or else he decides to make some action against the Horde, and she objects -- or worse still, warns Thrall ahead of time. The Horde forces are ready for them, and blood is shed. And Wrynn finally snaps, hauls off, and has her killed.

It is debatable whether even in the face of her death, Thrall may honor Jaina's desire for peace and still avoid conflict. But for God's sake, the man has a heart. It's clear that he and Jaina are close friends as well as diplomatic allies, and Blizzard has gone to great lengths to make the parallels between Jaina and Taretha Foxton evident. In light of the threats to his authority and the crumbling peace he's tried so hard to uphold, losing her -- especially if it was because she was an ally to him -- would be a near crushing blow. I don't quite think he'd openly declare war just as vengeance for her death, but it would certainly make him rethink his willingness to negotiate.

On the whole, though, the clash between Hellscream and Wrynn has been played up far too much for it to be swept aside, and I feel pretty sure that the spark that finally lights the fuse will come from the friction between those two. Whether Hellscream pushes Wrynn to action from his current position, or ends up usurping power from Thrall and starting the conflict himself, remains to be seen.

And then we come down to the question on the minds of all who are struggling to avoid this war: if the Horde and Alliance are fighting each other, then who is fighting the Scourge?

The simplest answer would be that we stay in this tenuous holding pattern long enough to defeat Arthas, and then some event happens at the end of the Icecrown raid or the start of the next expansion to finally tip the scales. But that would be too easy, wouldn't it? Personally I've had a vision for a while now (half-baked as it may be) of how this could work out, without any character assassination necessary. Tune in to the next post for the details...

*I don't care what anyone else says about the 3.0 arena event -- call me a fangirl, but if an elemental shaman and a fury warrior are both at half health, and the shaman still has a full mana bar, the shaman is winning.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Broken Front (Requiescat)

Originally intended for the LoreCrafted/Too Many Annas Midsummer writing contest. Didn't finish in time, but a handful of Netherbanes insisted I finish, so here it is.


Jezriyah could still hear the proud laughing behind her as she unhitched her nether ray from the posts. She tucked the ceremonial torches into her bag and slid up onto his sleek back.

"Brotha' Keltan?" She turned towards the priest, who cast her a curious look. She opened her eyes wide, trying her best to look earnest. "I was'na told tha' your people were among th' fallen, but... should I find any... have ya some token of th' Light or ritual I could perform f'them?"

"Of course, sister troll," the elf replied, a bit taken aback, but appearing grateful. He gave her an amulet he'd kept around his wrist, and recited to her a simplified form of their traditional last rites. She repeated it to herself as her mount glided over the side of Orgrim's Hammer -- the name of the ship made her want to spit now. She'd never known Doomhammer; she had no idea how proper it was to do what had been done here in his name. She wished she did. If he'd have approved of this "glorious assault", she could save herself the trouble of respecting his memory.

She'd gotten clearance to go back onto the field to provide funeral rites for the fallen. She knew her own people's ceremonies by heart, as well as those of the orcs, and the druidic rituals of the tauren were similar enough that she could wing it. The Blood Elves received the piecemeal blessing of the Light, best that she could recall it... she was still unsure by whom exactly its power was granted, but the naaru, at least, she felt confident would overlook her haphazard attempts. After some hesitation, she delivered this to the Forsaken as well, on the basis that their souls and bodies had originated in human form.

She worked as quickly as she could while maintaining proper reverence, and kept a careful eye upwards. As soon as the zeppelin was far enough away that she couldn't be effectively observed, she slipped back onto the ray's back and headed towards the northern end of the battlefield, where the remnants of the Scourge forces were still picking over the remains of the slaughtered armies.

Upon reaching the first Alliance corpse -- a gnome -- she hesitated. From what little she knew of them, they seemed like slightly less malicious goblins, with no real gods or allegiances beyond themselves. What would be the agnostic engineer's equivalent of a funeral pyre? A pile of saronite grenades and a crisp salute? After a few minutes of deliberation, she decided if they didn't have any gods, she'd appeal to her own. Hopefully whatever higher power judged the souls of gnomes would forgive them. It couldn't be any worse than being left to rot on the battlefield and picked up again to serve your enemy's master.

With that confusion handled, the rest of the "enemy" rites were easy. The blessings of the Light to all of them, save the small number of night elves; she couldn't quite force herself to invoke Elune's blessing, so she appealed to Mu'sha and hoped for the best. She fell into a rhythm after some time, looking up to see which races lie three or four bodies ahead of her and mentally organizing which words and gestures came next. The slow, methodical pace of the work made it that much more jarring when the plate-clad hand shot up to grab her wrist.

"Nether... take you," the dwarf hissed, blood dripping between his bared teeth. "Beasts!"

"Calm yourself, paladin," she replied softly, not pulling her hand away for fear of startling him into attacking. "I am not part of this offensive."

"You wear their colors," he growled, trying in vain to sit upright, his weakened body unable to move his plate armor.

"They wear our colors, dwarf, and disgrace them," she snapped, anger flooding her. She wrenched her hand from his, rubbing her wrist. After a brief pause she leaned closer to him. "I know I speak your language poorly, but please listen. The Horde does not seek war."

The paladin's eyes narrowed. "Then what was this? Why would you attack us instead of joining the assault on the Scourge?"

"I do not know." Jezriyah closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. "There are some among my people who think honor comes in battle, no matter what battle it is. And some are so proud of the Horde they refuse to put aside old grudges for the greater good."

"Then they doom us all." His voice was hoarse, thickened by blood pooling in his throat.

She was silent for a long moment before looking back down at him. "Some," she whispered. "Not all. There are still some clear minds among our ranks, the Warchief and Saurfang... and plenty who follow them. And Lady Proudmoore, and the Argent Crusade, and all of us who still love our home and want it to be safe." Her voice cracked softly. "And I swear to you we will fight until we can fight no more."

Their gazes met for a long moment, her deep red eyes surely as alien to him as his squinty blue ones were to her. He took a few more labored, rattling breaths. "Then fight on," he whispered, barely able to force the words out.

Tears pricked the back of her eyes as she lifted Keltan's amulet, whispering a string of Thalassian words that neither of them understood, but the paladin seemed to recognize. He closed his eyes, the pain on his face subsiding. "Light be with you, soldier," he murmured, as his breaths slowed.

She slipped the token back in her pocket as she pushed to her feet. "Light be with us all," she whispered, before walking down the battlefield toward the rest of the fallen.

The Writer's Block has completely failed to melt!

Wiping on my own brain boss here recently. I promise I'm alive -- having just broken the ten thousand tweets mark should tell you that.

I'll be back as soon as I can manage to drag something out of my poor barren skull.

For now? Say hello to my little friend.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What's In A Name?

This past Sunday was a joyous day for me.

Sunday was the day that, after countless attacks on Maexxna 25, Gothik 10 and Heroic Ymiron, I finally, finally upgraded my waist piece.

It was partially a matter of pride. I'm in Ulduar, dammit! I'm a Tier 8 raider, with Tier 8 britches! I don't need to be running around in a heroic badge belt! ...except that the [Sovereign's Belt] I replaced it with is off a heroic end boss. What's the difference?

This, my friends, is not [Vereesa's Silver Chain Belt].

I spent what must have been a month and a half raiding Naxxramas with a quest blue belt out of stubborn refusal to buy that piece of armor. No way in hell, I said time and time again, was I going to have the name of an enemy of the Horde and embarrassment to the Dark Lady's bloodline wrapped around this proud troll's waist. At some point, though, my thirst for big numbers managed to win out over my loyalty to Silvermoon, and I handed over the badges.

I've worn the damn thing ever since. Fuck.

Let me go into this a little deeper. My co-guild leader, Ailinea, is one of my best friends, and her toon is one of Jez's nearest and dearest as well. While Jez is perfectly aware that Aili outdoes her in damage 98% of the time (homegirl hit nearly 7k DPS in heroic Azjol-Nerub last night!), there's still a bit of tribal instinct that sees a tiny little girl elf wearing cloth robes, and is intensely protective of her. That's most of the reason she was so gung-ho in defeating the blue dragonflight -- yeah, trying to destroy all mortal magic users, bad thing, whatever; but going after her Linny? That's a killin' offense, right there.

Anyway, Ailinea was actually studying in Dalaran before the razing of Quel'Thalas and had to rush home when the Scourge steamrolled her city. So this random elf chick, who's banging a human of all things, trying to keep the sin'dorei out of the city when Aethas Sunreaver himself, y'know, is one... not to mention hating all over the Horde when they've shown her sister (you know, Sylvanas? The national hero who died defending their city? Yeah that one) more support in her people's time of need than the Alliance ever did...

You know, I think one of Jez's big problems so far is people judging her based on what some ancestors of her friends did before she was ever born. All she did was show up. Her people joined the Horde because their other option was to go extinct. All this crap that the elves and the orcs and the Forsaken did in their distant pasts? She doesn't give a damn. She's allied with these people because they're the only ones who ever gave her the option of allying, as opposed to trying to kill her.

Ahem. Anyway. I am not fond of Vereesa Windrunner. And given that it's a hunter(/enhance shaman) belt, I think we all know Sylvie's the better shot anyway. And it pissed me off for a long time to be wearing gear with her name on it. What sense does it make to name a piece of cross-faction badge gear after a character who openly hates one faction, anyway?

Doesn't matter now. It's gone! And I'd much rather wear a belt named after a dude I killed than some bitch the game won't let me kill.

So what is in a name, or in an armor slot? Have you ever had a piece of gear that just would not get upgraded to save its (or your) life? A single blue that you just couldn't get rid of, or an off-spec piece that you could never find an appropriate alternative to? Feel free to discuss among yourselves.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Where we port up to? Antechamber?" "No no, the Unclechamber." "... 50 DKP plus. That one HURT, Jez."

(Alternate title: "Hey look! It's a lock pocket!" I was a punning machine Tuesday night.)

So I guess some talk about actual gameplay is warranted here, no? I'm running out of lore musings, fits of RP and pointless memes to toss up here -- I might as well discuss what I'm actually doing in game most of the time these days.

Which, right now, is Ulduar. After some stops and starts early on due to bugged fights and personnel shake-ups, my guild has finally started getting into the place regularly. It's been loads of fun so far -- difficult as crap, but once we got out of the Naxxramas steamroller mindset and back into the familiar "wipe, study, fix, try again" rhythm of true progression raiding, the majority of it has been completely doable.

So here be my impressions of Tier 8 raiding so far...

Emalon was surprisingly simple, mostly due to the utter face-pwning of our DK offtank. She's a newish member who's turning out to be one of the best /ginvites we ever spent. With a few exceptions (mostly guildies) I've had very sketchy experiences with DK tanks, probably due to a lot of them being DPSers who got a level 55 tank for Christmas. Anyway, with a good offtank , there's pretty much nothing to this little punk. It requires just enough coordination and communication that your average post-Wintergrasp PUG will probably fall apart on it, but a friends-of-friends "people that you know don't suck" pickup should be able to handle it just fine. If your guild is good at keeping track of changing situations, he's cake.

Of course, being the only one of your class in the raid and having your T8 PvE pants drop doesn't hurt either. Those were a MASSIVE upgrade from my T7 -- I'm much more impressed with this tier than the last. Ready to wear, too; with just the leatherworking leg enchant and no gems, they were still an improvement. Plus, the socket bonus is just +hit, which I'm drowning in, so I just put two straight +agi gems in them. In MM spec (which I'm admittedly not in for raiding often, wtb retadin/spriest PST) I'm now over 4700 AP and 35% crit, self-buffed. Very, very sexy. I do still need to regem a lot of my stuff from AP/Crit to straight +agi, between my "main spec" getting better benefits from agility post-3.1 and the fact that I'm in my "off spec" most of the time for raid utility reasons.

Anyway. Trollsie gives new VoA boss an 8/10. A fun, simple fight with tier drops... hard to beat that.

Flame Leviathan is simultaneously an incredible drudge and fun as crap. I wish there was less trash leading up to it, because it really does wear thin after a while. By the time we're to the boss, I'm half asleep... but getting to blow away dozens upon dozens of mobs is pretty much always fun. Most of my experience has been on a chopper; this week I got to pilot a demolisher, but aside from being a lot slower the trash wasn't much different. I didn't actually get to do the fight in the demolisher, because we were in the middle of pulling the boss when the sky fell open over my house, we were suddenly getting frequent lightning and quarter-sized hail, and the tornado sirens started going off. By the time that was done with and I logged back on, they'd pulled someone else in to get the kill. Anyway, it's somehow simple and confusing all at once, but it goes by quickly. Trollsie says: 6/10.

Razorscale, I'm proud to say we got down before she was recently nerfed. Back in my day the mole machines popped on opposite ends of the terrace from each other! *shakes cane* But seriously, it's a fun little fight. I generally enjoy alternating adds-boss-adds mechanics (dear, sweet, darling Curator, how I miss you...) and trying to ground the drake in as few passes as possible is fun too. An intial problem we had was being dot-heavy -- we'd get her to around 52% in the second pass, she'd fly off, we'd get adds, then the dots would tick down and she'd hit 50 and come down. Chaos ensued. We've streamlined things since then; barring any hiccups in the transition, we can take her pretty easily. Trollsie says: 8/10.

Ignis the Furnace Master. Please divert the ears and eyes of any children under 16.


OH MY GOD I HATE THIS BASTARD WITH SUCH A PASSION. The main reason he's so frustrating is that we've, so far, just had tremendously bad luck on him. We have the technique just about down. We aren't making any huge mistakes. He just tends to eat our healers. Badly. As in, "One healer is in the slag pot already and he hits Flame Jets right as the OT needs a massive heal, so the OT goes down, the add goes after the MT, and while the lone remaining healer is trying to keep the MT up through all that, the healer in the pot gets thrown out directly into a scorch and dies." It is absolutely bananas. The RNG has it out for us on this bitch; apparently Ambrosine of I Like Bubbles and her guild are not faring much better.

The fight itself isn't that bad. It feels a bit gimmicky for me, and I am personally indignant at not being able to shatter the golems myself... although it's nice to have a fight where I'm not on add duty for once. Trollsie says: 7/10 on paper, FUCK YOU/10 in practice. The above-mentioned pun was the only good thing about this stupid fight.

X-002 Deconstructor is fun as hell. He was a massive bitch until we figured out that if you tank him near enough to a scrap pile, he won't spawn bots from those piles. Tank him in between two piles on one side and you only get two streams of scrapbots to deal with. We went from calling a wipe mid-fight because he'd healed back up to 80% halfway through the enrage timer, to getting [Nerf Engineering] on both of our first two kills. We do have a tendency towards bad luck with light bombs hitting right before tantrums (often on the healers... noticing a trend here?) but once we got the new tanking position down, we've been able to drop him fairly reliably. And the mecha-Majin-Buu voiceovers don't hurt, either. Even when your priest gets squashed, it's hard not to giggle when he gets all "I DUN THINK IT BENDS DAT WAY :(" about it. This is hands down my favorite fight so far. Trollsie says: 9/10.

Oh, and before Tuesday's kill, we accidentally pulled both of his add groups at once. Downed them handily. "Damn. Is there an achievement for that?" "If there was an achievement for surviving your own stupidity, we'd all have it already." My guild leader wanted me to note that these two groups pulling together was the "too hard to deal with" bug that led them to pull the Decon trash from the instance altogether early on. Therefore, the fact that we downed the two pulls simultaneously makes us uber.

Kologarn. Urgh. We've downed him twice, but both times by the skin of our teeth. I hate it when progression kills are that close. The first time, we ended up at like 4% with no tanks alive, flailing helplessly at all our cooldowns. The second was a little better, but it was still on the verge of going completely out of hand when he dropped. The fight mechanic is neat (and thank God that damage done to the arms actually damages the boss, otherwise this would have been insane) but we're just plain having trouble dealing with all the focusing and refocusing and moving around that we're having to deal with. Trollsie says: 7/10 when properly executed, 4/10 so far with guild.

And we managed to knock down Auraiya a single time. It's just like everyone's said -- it's all about the pull. The fight is frantic as hell, but in a fun way. I had no damn clue whether we were doing good, bad or otherwise until my Kill Shot started proccing. That Pounce move is an absolute mess. It is a little bit overwhelming, to be perfectly honest, but at least below the overwhelming is a fairly easy kill (we basically one-shotted her, not counting a false start where the offtank didn't break line of sight in time and got eaten). Crazy cat lady falls to berserker wolf lady. And I got [Ironaya's Discarded Mantle] -- which I'd link, were I not at work right now. Suffice it to say they were a solid upgrade from my T7 shoulders, and they have a nice bluish-black version of the T8 shoulder graphics. Still a bit disproportionally ginormous on a troll chick (as most epic shoulders are), but dead sexy nonetheless.

That's Ulduar so far. We got as much down Tuesday as we ever had at all, not counting Auriaya. She's on notice for tonight, along with the Iron Council, Hodir and Freya. The Portents are raiding again -- at top-level, cutting-edge content, for the first time in WoW -- and damn, it feels good to be a gangsta.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday Five Hundred: To Battle!

From Too Many Annas, as always:

In 500 words, write up a battle between your character and a bad guy. This can be a monster, a player, an enemy, an instance boss - anything goes, so long as you’re writing an actual fight scene, and not a “mental” scene. If your character is totally against all fighting, today’s the day to pick a more aggressive alt to write about. Whether your character wins or loses is up to you.


Jezriyah ducked off the road and behind a stone column, Micropterus swift on her heels, holding perfectly still as she watched her breath cloud softly in the frigid air.

A moment later, the two Drakkari berserkers ambled by, unaware of their southern cousin's presence. The Darkspear raised a hand to cast a faint red mark over the head of the (only slightly) larger one. She glanced down to the scorpid at her feet, giving him a soft nod. He skittered forward, weaving through the ferns alongside the stone path. A moment later he exploded from the leaves in a burst of waving claws and angry hissing clicks, slashing the massive troll's ankles twice before flicking his tail forward to inject a dose of poison into the target's calf.

The berserker gave an angry roar, looking down as he jumped back. "What crazy evil loa is this?!"

"A measly bug-spirit!" the other barked, heaving his axe from his back.

Micropterus dodged the oncoming attacks deftly, weaving between their feet. He moved masterfully around them and down the road, luring them away and turning their backs to his mistress.

"That's a good love," Jezriyah purred, raising her gun and reaching into her ammo pouch. By touch alone she fished her first two bullets out. The first went off flawlessly into the berserker's back, a slow-releasing serpent's venom, barely noticeable in the melee. The second landed squarely in the center of his spine, between the shoulderblades, loaded with a highly reactive chimera-blood poison. The second the two fluids combined, the berserker howled in blistering pain, spinning around to face her. "Miserable whelp!" he roared, charging towards her, steps faltering, as his companion continued to swing in vain at the scorpid.

She let out a barking laugh, loading in a third bullet, this one coated with an arcane enchantement. "Die like your gods did, wretch!" she yelled back, firing directly into his throat. The berserker stopped, stumbling, as blood seeped from the singed hole in his skin. He could only squint and hiss angrily at the hunter as he crumbled to the ground.

Jezriyah turned her attention to the second warrior, still scrapping with her pet, his movements already clumsy from the effect of the scorpid poison. She moved more slowly this time against her weakened target, aiming carefully at the back of his skull. Two carefully placed shots were enough to dispatch him, his body dropping like a rock.

Micropterus just barely dodged the falling troll, pausing a moment before darting back to Jezriyah's side, chirping happily.

"Ya done good, chile," she cooed, rummaging through the two dead trolls' meager belongings. She smiled as she picked up the carved stone idol she'd been looking for. "Perfect."

The huntress stood up, gazing at the bodies on the ground that, save for the extra muscle, could pass for her brethren back home. "Waste of perfectly good troll blood," she spat, before clicking her tongue to beckon her pet as she headed back towards Ebon Watch.

The Others

I've got alts. A good number of them. In fact, my slots are full on my home server, and I have five or six toons on other realms as well. A good handful of these characters are unused ones that I can't make myself delete because I put too much work into them, and some others are ones I play fairly regularly and haven't managed to come up with a convincing backstory for yet. But I do have characters with personalities behind them, though none of them have Jezriyah's detailed backstory. So I figure a quick introductory post is in order, so if I reference any of them in the future, you'll all have some idea what I'm talking about.

First up is Raenie Sparkshard. Gnome frost mage. She's an instructor of Stormwind University, and an associate of Arrens Caltrains. She's based more closely on me personality-wise than any of my other characters -- while Jez is definitely my ball-busting, heroic fantasy self, Rae is pretty much what'd happen if Medivh got bored one day and yanked my nerdy ass through the Nether over to Azeroth.

Rae had never fit in quite well with her people -- love them though she might, they were just a bit too... timid. Not physically, mind you; she's definitely more a lover than a fighter. But there's this whole quiet, polite mannerism that they have that she just doesn't. It wasn't until the evacuation of Gnomeregan and her subsequent move to Ironforge that Raenie discovered her real problem: she was meant to be born a male dwarf.

The words that come to mind are from a Bette Midler song. Too loud, too big, too much to bear / Too bold, too brash, too prone to swear! She's not going to pretend to be any tougher than she is, but she's got a big (foul) mouth and a lot of opinions, and is a bit of a lush besides. She's most at her element with a bottle of rum in one hand, some good cheese in the other, and somebody to argue with. Deep within, she's desperately needy, and craves the approval and affection of others -- but she's very, very good at ignoring those tendencies.

I haven't gotten to actively RP with her yet, as Arrens' and my schedules tend to disagree. But I've let her monologue in my head while she's questing, and she should prove quite a lot of fun to develop further.

The sisters Stonefoot, Trokha and Paknah, blood DK and enhancement shaman, raised by a widower father. Trokha, the eldest, felt a strong connection early on to the elements and the spiritual past of the orcs, and began training as a shaman at a fairly early age. Paknah, meanwhile, took strongly after her warrior father and had an axe in each hand almost before she could walk. They made a formidable team, Paknah taking on their enemies while Trokha called upon the spirits to aid her blows and heal her wounds, but they ended up in over their heads in the Ghostlands. Trokha was slain by the Scourge, and Paknah barely escaped.

After being bedridden for months with her injuries, Paknah decided to take up her sister's mantle and train as a shaman. She spent months in prayer, meditation and training, and turned out to be a completely mediocre healer. All her trainers knew it wasn't remotely her calling, but she wouldn't be dissuaded from following her sister's path, so she was assigned to the Barrens where even her meager skills would prove some use.

She was following two warriors taking supplies from the Crossroads to Camp Taurajo when they were attacked by centaur. They were quickly overwhelmed, and Paknah once again found herself standing alone. With her sister's death replaying in her mind, she felt her old warrior's bloodlust rising in her again. Taking up the injured warriors' axes, she begged the spirits to aid her what they could and dove into the melee. To the surprise of everyone (especially the centaur), her blows came more swiftly and strongly than ever before and she was able to drive back the entire raid. Her teachers rejoiced at the breakthrough and she began to grow stronger, finding a group of adventurers to travel and train with.

And it was about this time that Trokha, clad in dark plate armor, walked back into Orgrimmar. Freed from the Scourge, she spent several days hiding out, slowly regaining memories of her past life and struggling to reconcile them with the monster she'd seen herself become. After a long fireside conversation under the stars with an older orc, who'd gone through the same struggles after breaking free of the Legion, she committed herself to reclaiming her life. The next morning she sought out her father and sister, and after much confusion and explanation, they were joyously reunited. Trokha is currently exploring her people's background in Outland -- she knows she'll never again call on the elements as she once did, but she seeks desperately to at least find their forgiveness.

Those are the ones with the most development; the others are just vague character prototypes. Rylienne is high society gone wrong -- she was a well-off quel'dorei with no real lot in life before the fall of the Sunwell, and has nothing to show for herself now. She's good at playing the victim; the fact that she's a warlock and reliant on demonic magic, her well-hidden but nearly-cripping bloodthistle addiction -- it's all someone else's fault, somehow. Pretty much every horrid stereotype about Blood Elves all rolled into one.

Herriet is an undead rogue. In life, she was the daughter of a human trader who spent extensive time in Silvermoon with the high elves; she died and became Scourge around the age of 14, so is physically a young girl, though she's mentally grown up since being freed with the Forsaken. She uses her young appearance to her advantage quite often (hell, she's an undead rogue, she uses everything to her advantage) and spends most of her time in Silvermoon where she visited so often as a child.

Jiyoti is a troll shadow priest -- Jezriyah's mother, actually, whose story is mostly documented in Jez's own.

Xozwak is my third and last troll, a warrior who ranks somewhere between a surf crawler and the pot it's caught in intelligence-wise. He personifies the troll opening spiel -- superstitious and bloodthirsty. He kills things because killing things is fun.

And finally Rhysandre... the paladin that I'm leveling with my guildie Ailinea's new hunter. They are Silvermoon's Jack and Karen. Be forewarned.

That sums up the ones I've got toddling around my head right now. My muse is fickle and has a tendency to leap to odd places, so at any given point there may be some kind of story based on any one of these... be prepared.

Monday, April 20, 2009

In Her Own Words: Specializations and Diplomacy

For the second time, I am shamelessly ganking someone else's character for my own nefarious purposes. This time, 'tis the master of the Blueberry Workshop over at Stabilized Effort Scope who makes an appearance.


As much as the Argent Crusade rubs me the wrong way -- something about the human inability to just do the right thing without ascribing the will of some higher power to it -- this tournament seems to have been a good idea. It's relaxing, mostly; a way for those of us hardened in battle to showcase our skills without lives being on the line. Not to mention that mounted combat is uncommon in the field, so a little practice in being able to handle a weapon (any weapon) from the saddle could prove to be an advantage in some situations.

And yet the harsh reality is never far away. You can occasionally glimpse Orgrim's Hammer or its Alliance counterpart floating over the horizon, and it's impossible to get here from Dalaran without coming in direct eyesight of Icecrown Citadel. So as much lip service as they give to the grounds being for tournament use only, it's not at all uncommon to find people on the sidelines appropriating unused target dummies for standard combat practice.

I purposely strip out of my heavy combat armor when attending the tournament. I see no use in getting it any more beat up than it has to be -- it's fairly expensive to repair, and the closer to top condition I can keep it, the better. And I've gotten well-practiced enough as a valiant not to need such heavy protection, anyway. The offshoot of this is that when I do choose to practice my standard combat, it's without the powerful enchantments that Sayriha and others have channeled into my armor and weapons, specifically my treasured polearm. So they're weak shots, and my aim isn't always as sharp as usual, but improving my skill without those accoutrements can only help me in the long run. At least, that's what I told myself as I watched yet another bullet go careening at least two finger widths from the center of the bullseye.

In the half-second it took the shot to reach the target, a soft golden glow appeared around it, and the air seemed to arc around the bullet, careening it directly into its mark. I'd barely had a moment to recognize the effect before a familiar voice rang out through the cold air in lilting Common. "Seems as though the lady Riverwing is losing her touch, eh?"

I rolled my eyes, turning around to face the draenei who'd walked up behind me. "The lady is at a distinct disadvantage, boy," I snapped, offering Rilgon a weary smile. "This is my jousting gear. It ain't made for shooting." (It's worth noting that I didn't say it quite so clearly -- my Common is even more harshly accented than my Orcish, but if Brann Bronzebeard can be conversational in all twelve of Azeroth's major languages, then I can at least figure out how to speak properly to the Alliance.)

He chuckled under his breath. "Good to see that Durotar has its champions as well," he replied, his chest puffing out a bit beneath the tabard of the Exodar -- I was on par to receive Sen'jin's equivalent by nightfall. He reached into his bag and produced a small chunk of meat, which he tossed to Micropterus, exchanging some soft clicks with him. I reached up to stroke Ayamiss' head gently, to which she responded with a polite nuzzle; showing affection to another's pet is one of the more common greetings between hunters of all races.

"Azeroth needs champions now," I said curtly. "She don' care where they be from."

Rilgon gave only a soft nod in reply. We'd had only brief discussions regarding the politics of our world, but enough to know that our opinions of the mortal races' conflicts in the face of such grave evils was similarly low.

"Hunting good of late?" I shielded my eyes from the bright sunshine as a cloud moved out of its way.

"Well as can be expected. More battle than hunting, lately." His tone softened. "My guild is beginning preliminary expeditions into Ulduar."

The dread temple-prison of the titans; just as menacing a view from northern Icecrown as the Citadel itself. Rilgon and I had first met in the Borean Tundra under the auspices of the red dragonflight; my own guild had struggled in battle against Malygos and his drakes, and I was frustrated with my ineffectiveness. I'd trained as a beastmaster from my tenth season on, but my dear Pumpkin was sorely thwarted by their aerial maneuvers, and I just plain wasn't strong enough a shot to make up for it. I decided to take the plunge, to trust my tiger friend to his own devices and focus my energy on my marksmanship. Questioning a few other hunters, I heard his name come up several times, and sought out his guidance.

"Indeed." I bit my lip. "We've done some work against the defenses outside but not moved in yet. Xendayr has called for a meeting tonight, so I imagine we'll be moving in further soon..." I grinned. "I'd think that defense system would be right up your alley, all those mechanical bits and things to blow up."

"Well, of course." Some of the light came back to his face then; he's always been more an engineer than a hunter. "I've nearly mastered most of them. As soon as the others catch up it will be rote."

"You're ahead of us then." My mind flashed back to seeing a priest fly helplessly over the Flame Leviathan, the flash of light from his fingers just before he hit the ground barely enough to keep him conscious, let alone functional.

"I'm sure with you along they'll be fine." He offered a comforting smile. We were poor at keeping in touch -- it's not exactly easy to get someone in Warsong Hold to take a message to the Exodar, and I'd imagine it works no better the other way around -- but these conversations were among my favorites, when we did manage to cross paths on neutral ground. Amid the clanging shields and stomping mounts of the tournament grounds, it was impossible not to realize that each such meeting may be the last.

I think I was as shocked as he was when I leaned forward to embrace him, though he returned the gesture in kind with little hesitation. "You be careful, squid face," I chided, poking him gently in the ribs. "I need you around so I have someone to try and be better than."

"And I'm no teacher without a student, two-toes," he replied, patting my shoulder gently. "You be sure to do the same."

He called for Tempidormi then, heading towards the flight master to retrieve her from the stables. I couldn't keep a weary smile from my face as I picked up my gun, taking another cock-eyed, poorly aimed shot.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday Five: Breaking Out in Song

Y'all want me to post more? Fine. But get used to most of it being ganked from other people.

Today's post is brought to you by Too Many Annas. Anyone out there who reads many WoW blogs at all is probably used to seeing the Friday Five pop up constantly -- well, here's one more for the pile.

While I do have RP characters other than Jezriyah, she's got the most thought and development behind her, so unless otherwise noted these will all be answered for her.

1) Does your character have any musical inclinations? Can he or she sing or play an instrument?
If troll culture is to be taken from Caribbean island culture, then it's steeped in drums and music, and Jez definitely reflects that. She grew up with music and dance being an integral part of social interaction, and they're both very deep parts of her identity. (She also kind of inherits this from me, as my rock-drummer daddy and I bonded over his record collection for most of my youth.)

2) If yes, are they trained or self-taught? If no, have they ever tried to make music of any kind?
She's definitely not formally trained, no. She has a good sense of rhythm and can carry a tune, but she's certainly no virtuoso. She'd probably not consider performing in public unless she was heavily inebriated (which... well, isn't common but isn't exactly rare either), but she'd certainly pick up a tune or a drum during a celebration or ceremony, and sometimes sings old folk songs to keep herself occupied while traveling.

3) What kind of music, if any, reminds your character of home?

The standard island drums, along the lines of the Sen'jin or Stranglethorn background music in game. As accustomed as she's grown to Orgrimmar and orcish culture, she'll always be an island child.

4) What kind of music would your character listen to, if given an iPod?
If you mean RL, she'd probably be a classic rock kind of girl. In-game, aside from the aforementioned, she's grown fond of the northern music, along the lines of Howling Fjord -- the Norse-sounding pipes and strings.

5) If you had to pick a song or two to represent your character, what song(s) would that be?
I've got three.

Nelly Furtado, "Maneater" (music starts at around 1:30): Jez is very dichotomous in warfare. There are two kinds of battle for her. There's a regimented, military movement, something like Wintergrasp, with tangible goals and objectives. In those situations she's quite methodical, almost mechanical in how she works. This song reflects her in the other kind of battle -- raid instances, et cetera, where there are Bad Guys afoot and they need to be disposed of, now. Her 'strategy' consists of getting the paladin in between her and it, and then laying waste. You can take a wild guess at which she (and I) are more partial to.

Rolling Stones, "Jumpin' Jack Flash": The funny thing about problems is that you get used to them. When you grow up expecting any given sunrise to be the last one your race sees, a lot of other things lose their significance. Jez is always grateful for any day she's got food to eat and a roof over her head. That's a lot of why I don't get to actively RP that much on Jez -- most of the RP on Sentinels is focused in Silvermoon and heavy on the interpersonal drama, and while she'll never fault anyone else their own concerns, she just can't care. There are plenty of very big, very real problems in her world right now, and she's only got so much worry to go around. With anything less than the autonomy of her people or the lives of innocents at risk, she's going to stray as far from taking anything seriously as she responsibly can. (On a side note, this is probably the single awesomest recording of this song I've ever heard, holy crap.)

Matchbox Twenty, "How Far We've Come": And this is what she's thinking whenever she walks past an Alliance soldier in the field, or lays eyes on Icecrown Citadel from afar. You know the aforementioned tiny petty problems that she can't make herself care about in light of the huge trials facing Azeroth? For the most part, the Horde/Alliance conflict is one of them for her. It definitely has a bit to do with her being young and only having secondhand knowledge of either faction's past. While she does see their disagreements as valid, and doesn't expect everyone to just throw their past conflicts out the window and be bestest buddies, she also sees the Scourge and this rising Old God threat as being far more important than any bullshit these two chunks of people have with each other. It's a matter of priority for her -- let's worry about the guy who wants to destroy the world, and then we can fight over the frozen lake -- and also a test of her faith in life on Azeroth, whether they can manage to put aside their grudges to come together, if only for a few moments, for the common good. I believe the world is burning to the ground / Oh well, I guess we're gonna find out / Let's see how far we've come...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Short, Hairy, Gun-Wielding Elephant in the Room

I'm about to type a sentence that may cause gasps, heart murmurs, vapors, and a complete loss of respect for me as a hunter. Hold onto your seats.

I didn't read BRK.

Not seriously, anyway. I devoured his "lookit the shiny new things in Wrath!" videos during the beta, because I didn't get a beta key until late, and once I got in I was too busy ogling the new quest lines and scenery to pay much attention to what was actually happening to my class (lol, lore nerd). And I got as many chuckles out of a good BRK vs. Brain post as anyone else, but they had to be linked to me before I saw 'em.

It wasn't out of any lack of respect for the man or his (epic and copious) work. Everything I ever did read of his was worth reading, even if we did disagree on some major points. I just wasn't much of a blog reader until I started this one and began making friends on Twitter, and even now I barely have the presence of mind to keep up with the people I know and read.

And yet I felt the shockwave just as hard when he announced his departure. You know why? Because within a day of the announcement, every single hunter blog I read had an "OMGWTFBRK?!" post. That's the nature of such a monstrous figure in a community. When you step up and let yourself be made a public figure, when you put your thoughts and ideas and name out in front of the world, you influence people. Be it for good or bad. And if you're really, really good at it, you inspire other people to take the same steps that you did.

That is how Daniel Howell influenced me, more than any article he actually wrote. And really, I think that's his biggest influence on the hunter community in general. He was loud, boisterous, opinionated, and above all else was having so damn much fun both playing his class and writing his blog, that it made other people want to get in on it. By the time I came around to this timesink we call Azeroth a little over a year ago, there were hunter blogs all over the place. And judging by their reactions to the news, the vast majority of them followed him.

He was something of a figurehead for hunters, and more than anything else, he seemed to play the class a lot like I do. Pay enough attention to stats and numbers and technique to make sure you aren't shortchanging yourself or your raid... then go in balls-out, guns a-blazin' and shoot the crap out of something. Pew to the motherfucking pew, bitches!

There's a reason this blog of mine is so ill maintained right now -- my fear. Fear of the rejection and dislike from others that I know BRK and many other prominent WoW bloggers have faced. I'm still screwing up the courage to learn how to put my thoughts and ideas out, no matter how much better they might have been said by someone else. It's that courage that makes a really good blogger -- and it's as an example of that courage, more than any amount of theorycrafting or number crunching, that Big Red Kitty was the 800-pound gorilladin of hunter blogs.

So here's one more farewell from the other side of the fence. Lok'tar ogar, soldier; may the spirits be with you, and your ancestors guide your path.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

*hits trinket* *is promptly memesheeped again*

What ho! It appears that our lovely little chunk of Internet here has been nominated for that most prestigious of glories, the Honest Blog Award.

1) When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.
2) Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends. Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.
3) List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!

I apparently led the field with two whole nominations, first from noble Kestrel, prolific blogger and renowned poet, and secondly from lovely Cadistra, who ... look, you ever read a webcomic, and really love it, and then suddenly find the artist on Twitter and gush at them some, and then suddenly you're like having conversations and knowing each other and crap? That's what happened here. I am a silly blue fangirl that she took some pity on, is all.

Unfortunately, every single person I know in the WoW Twitterverse/blogosphere has already been tagged. Some of them multiple times. But I know how much the "you're all tagged!!1" thing sucks, so I'll cut y'all a deal. If you want to be tagged, comment, and then I'll edit a proper tag for you into the post!

So on to the honesty...

1) Aside from my four years in college, I've lived within the same two-mile radius my entire life. It's not that bad a place to live, but it's very white-bread suburbia, and I want some skyscrapers so bad it's killing me. My dream home would be a downtown apartment with traffic noises outside to lull me to sleep.

2) In summer of 2004, I was diagnosed with ADD and depression. The ADD is very mild; while I can treat it, I usually don't bother -- makes me more interesting, and also a great multitasker. The depression, however, I treat daily. I'm much more open about it than most sufferers, mainly to do my part to remove the stigma.

3) I had no idea what the WoW character classes did when I rolled Jezriyah. I chose a hunter because my friend who recruited me told me I could have a pet. I had no idea that pets had any combat application, I just wanted a friend. If I'd given it any thought, I'd probably have been a mage.

4) 'Micropterus' -- the name of Jez's first pet, a scorpid, and still her main solo/tanking pet -- is the genus name of most American species of bass. It's my one and only bit of Warcraft homage to my previous fandom and my first true love. However, I am still an open and shameless NSYNC fangirl, and am no less in love with Lance than I was for that whole twenty minutes I thought he was straight.

5) I am a quarter Lebanese, with traceable blood to two Scottish clans (Scott and Duncan). I had direct ancestors fight in both the Civil War and American Revolution; I am also a third-generation American via Ellis Island. And that's all on my daddy's side -- Mom's a classic American mutt with Spanish, Dutch and about a zillion other bloodlines.

6) I have been writing creatively in some form or another since I was able to hold a pencil. Somewhere in my attic there's a construction paper 'diary' we had to keep as a first-grade project. Mine features casual (proper) use of ellipses, semicolons, and rhetorical questions. Me? Precocious? Perish the thought.

7) Tying slightly into number 4, I am obsessive about music. I always not-so-secretly wanted to be a rockstar, somewhere between John Mayer and Stevie Nicks, or a less pretentious Sheryl Crow. Only problem is my lyrics are mediocre, I can't write a melody to save my life, I haven't got the patience to learn an instrument, and my singing voice has been known to single-handedly drive certain species of whales extinct. I also have a tendency to attach songs I hear to situations in my fandom of the day -- just today I declared Maroon 5's "Not Coming Home" to be the theme to Thrall's escape from/return to Durnholde.

I also seriously wish I could draw, or paint, or do machinima, or was otherwise visually graphically inclined because there's too damn many writers in the world, most of whom are better than me. Basically I want every talent I don't have. Blah.

8) I have never once broken or fractured a bone. I did have a random infection in one of my salivary glands once that required a ginormous shot at 3 AM in the ER and made my face literally puff to about the size of a basketball, though. Fun!

9) I can recite the names of all 50 states in alphabetical order, and can sing the entirety of Yakko's World if I have the music to sing along to.

10) I have been told, repeatedly, by multiple people, that I give the best hugs on the planet.

That's all I got... comment if you want a tag and I'll put it in!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Polymorph: Memesheep

I guess I'm a real live Warcraft blogger now -- I have been tagged in a meme! Darling Arrens has decreed that I am to answer these, so answer them I do.

What is your name and where did it come from?
Jezriyah was completely BS'ed. She came from my standard method of naming non-human/Forsaken characters: I jammed on the Randomize button for a few minutes to get a feel for how the racial names sounded, and then patched together some syllables that sounded good.

Her "surname" as much as trolls have one -- she's of the house Riverwing, which was named because her forebears lived on the banks of the Nazferiti River (which was the name of her first cat pet), and the lake birds used to roost around their house. A quest giver in Zangarmarsh once referred to bird spirits as "capricious, and better left to the Amani," but somehow that seemed to fit her line. Her parents are very much based on mine -- her father warm and gregarious, her mother selectively stubborn and quietly wise.

How old are you and what is your birthday?
Roughly early 20s. She was about 13 when the trolls went to Kalimdor; however it works out from there.

Are you in love and with whom?
Jezriyah is currently romantically involved with an elf. I dunno that she'd say she's in love just yet, but she's awfully fond of him.

What is your favorite mount and why?
Flight-wise it's most definitely the green proto-drake, but since I don't have it on the live server yet (my egg freaking hatched into it on the PTR, and proceeded to be a white tickbird on live), it's probably my red nether ray. Mostly because it was the first thing in the game I ever ground up rep for. Ground-wise, it's a tie between my orange raptor and my shiny new kodo. (Cows love me.)

Do you prefer a certain type of Azerothian meal and where do you get it from?
In character, Jez prefers roasted fish and fruit over most anything else -- reminds her of home. OOC, Mega Mammoth Meal ftw.

You know those giant mushrooms in Zangarmarsh? What is your theory on how they came to be and why are they so huge?
Jez arches an eyebrow at you. "Planet been blown ta pieces by demons an' you be wonderin' why de mushrooms look funny? Ain' nottin' right about de Outlan'."

If you saw the Lich King walking toward you, what would you do?
She would wait. She's *had* this happen before, in the form of all those quests where he shows up and looms and acts threatening and vanishes. She'll meet his offenses on the battlefield, but if it came face to face between the two of them, she knows he's expecting her to make the first move. She'd wait him out, let his ego take over, and wait for him to either attack her, or make himself vulnerable. Like she said once before -- he's still human enough to glean arrogance from power, and that may be his biggest weakness.

And given that everyone I know seems to have been tagged already, I'm gonna throw this one to Calamari Rilgon. Heads up, space goat!

Friday, February 20, 2009

In Her Own Words: Wintergrasp

I'm a marksman -- markswoman, I suppose -- like my father. Sharpshooter. Occasionally, depending on the situation, sniper. Anyone who's ever faced me in battle could tell you that I've no great skill in hand-to-hand combat. There's a reason I hate fighting warriors and rogues so; anything that stays close enough to me to keep me from raising my gun or bow can best me without too much trouble.

Maybe that's why I've never taken joy in the physical effects of my enemies' demise, the way some of our fighters do. To a melee fighter, pools of blood and bits of bone on the ground represent the strength of their blows. To a spellcaster, scorched skin and tortured screams are a measure of their arcane power.

To a hunter, any shot besides the killing one is wasted ammunition.

So the swaths of red (and patches of blue, courtesy of the draenei) covering the snows surrounding the Wintergrasp Fortress evoked no emotion from me. The knowledge that we'd been victorious, yes, but I could tell that by the fact that we were standing in the fortress, and the Alliance soldiers were not. My goal in battle is not to cause pain -- it is to eliminate the threat against the Horde, whatever it may be. While I find little regret in the suffering of our enemies, I don't take particular joy in it either.

The laughter I heard from the campfire behind me made it clear I was in the minority.

"And then when you hit him! He squawked like a harpy!" Udiyvli clapped her hands excitedly. "Did you see his face when he spun around? Like a frightened little gazelle --"

"-- and he comes at me, and forgets all about the giant angry tauren he was just fighting with --" Lothloren was laughing, the tips of his ears bouncing as he gestured wildly. "And he's dizzy already from the poison, and then WHACK!" He swung his comparatively-slender arm in a meager representation of her shield slamming into the back of their shared opponent's skull. "You played him like a drum! It was beautiful!"

I hate fighting warriors and rogues, but they make excellent teammates.

"It was a paladin," I snapped jokingly, turning from the battle-scarred landscape and heading back toward the celebratory feast. "They're almost as powerful as they are foolhardy. If it weren't for the shaman healing you both up as soon as he pulled his sword back, he'd likely have taken you both down."

Campitor smiled warmly, proud as always of his contribution. "I do what I'm called to."

"And we appreciate it." Udi patted the other tauren's knee affectionately. "We all knew you'd rather have been hurling lava at them."

"Oh, I don't know," Campitor mumbled, taking a bite of bread. "Perhaps I'll follow Goetic's lead and start fighting with axes."

"He's an orc," Lothloren shrugged, taking a long drink of wine. "That's what orcs do -- hit things. Battle is a part of them, like magic is part of my people, even if I don't use it in battle."

Udiyvli nodded softly. "And the hunt is a part of ours, hunters though some of us are not." She looked to me, clearly expecting the trollish insight on the issue.

I thought about it for a moment. "And the loa for us," I finally said, sitting down with them and reaching for a piece of roasted mammoth. "We all talk to the spirits, even if not all of us wield their power."

I thought back to my first days in Northrend, long nights awake by a lonely fire, meditating for hours on end to try and reach the spirits of the north. I'd had precious little communication with them -- troll though I may be, I am no priestess -- but I managed to reach a bear spirit, slow and weary, as though it had walked the entire length of the continent to answer my meager plea. I offered it honor from a child of the South and the East, and thanked it for permitting us to tread in its home. I told it that the great evil which had infested its northern peaks had invaded our home, and that we had come to defeat it, to clean its blight from the world. The spirit did not go so far as to bless our assault, but it told me that we were welcome, providing we attacked only the evil we had come for and stayed our wrath from the North's own children. I vowed my own obedience, and to take the message to my people. The spirit offered its limited approval, knowledgeable of how little the spiritual guidance of a single hunter would count to the Horde, and then departed.

I have tried to contact it since then, to ask its guidance when confronted with its sons and daughters which have been irredeemably corrupted by the Scourge. I receive no answer.

"Your mother's a priestess, isn't she?" Lothloren poked me in the shoulder, talking around a mouthful of meat. "Is that kind of thing passed down?"

Usually so, I thought, looking at a nearly-healed wound on my forearm, at the half-Darkspear blood still seeping from it. Probably why I don't have it. "All depends," I replied, poking him in return. "All kinds of things can influence it. It's not our place to question who the loa choose to be their vessels. Besides, someone has to hunt food for the witch doctors to eat."

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Trouble With Humans: Wrynn, Proudmoore, and My Emotional Overinvolvement

So, apparently, in the last few days, I managed to annoy Weryl (of DPS Plate) by bitching a bit too long and hard about Varian Wrynn on Twitter. Certainly don't blame him; if someone seethed as hard at my racial leader as I do at his, I'd be rolling my eyes at them too.

But it got me to thinking -- about just what my problem is with the dude. And it doesn't take too much to divine that it's not really my problem, it's my character's.

For Jezriyah, who tries so hard not to judge people by face value, Wrynn represents every single bad stereotype she's ever heard about humans -- that arrogant, self-important, "with us or against us" thinking. By living up to everything that many orcs expect humans to be, he gives them another excuse to hate all humans. She feels the same way about Garrosh Hellscream; he is everything that the New Horde is not, everything that her beloved Warchief has tried to convince the rest of the world that orcs are not. He's the kind of orc that made Wrynn hate orcs, and Wrynn is the kind of human who makes orcs hate humans.

That's the deeper side of it. The more superficial is this: she doesn't hate him, she just hates him back. He started it. This human she'd never seen in her life, only vaguely heard of, walked up to her in the Undercity and basically said "You and all of your friends and family and loved ones and allies are evil, and I am going to destroy you all." How the hell would you feel?

Now, here's the thing. I have a long and vibrant history of getting too emotionally involved in the things I'm a fan of. TV shows, books, movies, bands... I care too much. This goes double for Jez, who is my first original character that lasted more than twenty minutes. So her in-character feelings bleed out of character as well. Add in the fact that I just may be an even bigger fangirl of Thrall than she is, and yeah -- not terribly fond of the guy.

But if I can step fully out of character and look at it purely from a gamer and lore nut perspective... his introduction is kinda awesome. The Horde and Alliance's "unsteady peace" has been left untouched for four years now, and Wrynn as the antithesis for Thrall throws some delicious kinks into the relationship between the two factions. How does that work, when the leader of a nation wants war against another nation, whose leader is striving for peace? How will either side handle this conflict while still dealing with everything going on in Northrend? Can either side fight both of these battles at once? If not -- if the Alliance has to choose between destroying the Horde or the Scourge, if the Horde has to decide which of the two threats to face down first -- where will their priorities lie? Will the "old Horde" orcish armies, after so many years of seeing humans as the enemy, attack the Alliance against their Warchief's command? And if it truly comes to blows, where will the loyalties of Theramore fall?

Theramore... and therein, the other antithesis to the King... Jaina Proudmoore. I've griped about her before, as well. But for the opposite of reasons. I always kind of pooh-poohed her as a whiny worrywart who never had the figurative cojones to even try preventing any of the terrible things she was witness to (her trademark line of "I can't watch you do this" followed by not doing anything about it comes to mind). But after a vigorous Twitter chat with Greyseer of LoreCrafted -- is it starting to become clear what I do all day at work? -- I started paying a little more attention to her actual backstory, and what do you know... she's kind of a badass. It just seems as though her lore and personality have been watered down for the sake of game mechanics. Which is bound to happen when you try to turn a complex story into an RTS game, and then that RTS into an MMO. From what we could tell on Twitter, a good number of people had similar opinions to mine. Between all this, and the fact that her relationship with Thrall is often dismissed as a romantic throwaway (instead of two well-respected leaders who see each other as allies and equals in a world that doesn't lend itself well to that), she's been pretty solidly underestimated in the WoW world.

Shit's getting interesting now. This is a good thing. There's been tons of interesting story potential in the game so far, but very little of it actually existed between the two factions. Getting the focus off of external threats and dealing with what's going on in the old world opens up a lot of new possibilities for this incredible story we all play in.

So yeah, Wrynn's still a jerk. But he's a jerk who's about to make things a lot more fun.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

On Staying My Blue Arse Put

So as of yesterday morning, I'm yellow-barred on WoW Heroes through Heroic Eye of Eternity. Not only that, but for the first time, all of my enchants are listed as top level (as soon as I get another socket slapped on my new belt, anyway). I have my full ten-man Tier 7 set -- granted, a couple of pieces were sidegrades or slight downgrades to what I had before, but I'm a sucker for matchy shit, and the last two pieces of it got defaulted to me anyway. Be.Imba actually has my "should perform well" line past the end of the 25-man Malygos fight. By all means, gear- and talent-wise, I have every right and ability in the world to just stroll up to any given raid boss currently in the game and shoot the living crap out of it.

The only 25-man content I've seen is Obsidian Sanctum. It happens once a week. I'm not likely to see any of the other heroic content until Ulduar comes out at the very soonest.

My guild be tiny. It's hysterical for me to say that, because we've recently pretty much exploded in numbers. We first started raiding in BC around last... August or September, I wanna say, if not later. And by "started raiding" I mean someone looked at the guild list and said, "Dude, we have ten 70s on." And someone else yelled "OMG, let's go to Kara!", and we did.

As of now, working around alts and schedules and the like, on the average night we can put together a ten-man raid with one to three people left over. Every so often we have a short night and have to grab someone off the guild's collective friends list. We host a Sunday night 25-man Sarth run -- no drakes -- with some of the better people we collectively know from members' old guilds and the like. I'll fully admit to being frustrated -- the random number gods have been good to me, and ADD and farming content don't really mix. I'd pretty much give any non-game-necessary appendage for the chance to see Kel'Thuzad or Malygos on heroic mode, to have a new challenge to work towards and new loot to aim for.

So I guess it's a shame that I'm not gonna do anything about it.

I've heard the tone people use when they say "family guild" -- the same tone you'd use when referring to the "girlfriend" of a guy that you know is gay. I joined my guild the day that I converted my trial account to paid, about six days after Jez was first rolled in early December of 2007. The friend who convinced me to try WoW was already a member, and told me the people were friendly, welcoming and understanding of noobishness. Plus the guild leader and second-in-command both played hunters, so they'd be able to help me along. This was before I knew what raiding was.

Fast forward to a year and some change later. I haven't so much as stepped into 25-man Naxx with these people.

What I have done is every heroic dungeon in the game, some of them multiple times over in pursuit of a single piece of gear for a single person. I've /cheered countless upgrades and /spit on bosses who dropped healing plate instead of the belt the shaman needed. I've sleepwalked through fights I didn't give half a damn for and watched the only upgrade I needed get handed to someone else. I've wiped six or seven times in a row on a boss because one person in the group wasn't getting it (including at least a couple where that person was me).

I've seen a resto druid down Kael'thas Sunstrider with moonfire spam, and a dead Death Knight resurrect herself as a ghoul and bite Sjonnir the Iron-Shaper to death (on heroic, no less). I've seen wipes at 1% on bosses we destroyed the week before. I've spent four weeks going after the Safety Dance achievement before finally barely pulling it off, only to go in later with five people who'd never seen the fight and got it immediately. Hell, I've gotten achievements I didn't know existed before I happenstanced into them.

I've wrapped up raids at 10 PM and still not gotten to bed until a quarter of two, flying my nether ray in circles while nattering on in Vent about life, love, school, politics, religion, and the sexual fetishes of nearly every canon character in the Warcraft universe. (Ask me why Kil'Jaeden is into dragon bukkake. You know you want to know.) I've theorycrafted over omelets at the IHOP across the street from Disneyland, argued lore over drinks at the Anaheim Hilton, and spent three hours hiding behind my favored meat-shield while DPSing down the Blizzard Store Line Boss. I'm currently frantically combing my work schedule for a point at which I can run away to a little lake north of Atlanta to get drunk and barbecue (and probably theorycraft and argue lore) with people I've never laid eyes on before.

A week or two ago, some slap-in-the-face drops and respeccing woes had combined with RL stress and emotional problems to turn me into a sobbing mess of inadequacy issues. I spent a good twenty minutes in tells with my guild leader reassuring me that I was useful to the guild, valuable to have on raids and damn good at playing my class. Comfort I didn't deserve for being so overreactive, but there it was.

If my car breaks down or my flight gets cancelled anywhere between Dallas and Washington D.C. (or in Chicago, or a few choice parts of the west coast), I have a ride and a sofa to crash on.

I've had the time of my life over the last year and change, and I have more and better friends than I thought someone with my lack of social skills ever would.

There are a lot of great raiding guilds on my server. I could get subbed into a raid with any one of them and have a good chance of getting in. I could probably, with a few upgrades, pull top DPS in any given heroic PUG on our realm. I could go take on the biggest and baddest raids in the game, and leave my tiny ten-man "family guild" in the dust.

Fuck it. I'll come back for Malygos at 90.