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!