Thursday, December 23, 2010

Crowd Control

There were three of them in the open, a priest and two fighters. Two sharpshooters lurked behind them, camouflaged. Badly. Jezriyah shot Ailinea a knowing look; she chuckled and shook her head. Humans might have gotten the hang of tracking and shooting, but they made pretty terrible hunters on the whole. A part of her really wanted to give them a hug, point out that even the mage could see them, and offer to take them home to their mamas.

But they did have guns, and the five of them had already slaughtered their way this far into the Deadmines. Udiyvli gave a great roar, rushing forward and slinging her mace at the priest.


Pomaikai rushed in behind her. The young Sunwalker spun around as she ran through, throwing one hand out and shouting a sharp word in Taurahe. Light flashed from her fingers, and a beam of sunlight materialized from thin air, striking one of the fighters blind. He clutched his head and howled, crumbling to his knees.


As the other fighter lunged for Udiyvli, Ailinea raised her hands, fingers twisting delicately in midair. The soldier's muscles stiffened, weapons falling to the ground. He gasped for breath as his body spasmed, collapsing in on itself. A tortured scream leapt in pitch as he folded inwards, flesh consuming flesh until his whole form tucked into that of a panicked swine, squealing in terror.


Udiyvli laughed, stomping a mighty hoof against the craggy ground. The walls of the cave shook, and the two erstwhile snipers lost their footing. Grunjin barely missed a beat, his eyes narrowing in concentration. The soft green healing mist swirling around Udi's body extended, tendrils coiling about one of the men's ankles. It coalesced into squirming vines, which dug into the ground and clenched tightly around the target's legs. He yelped sharply, trying to jerk away from the thorns digging into his flesh.


Jezi smiled darkly. She ran her fingers through her quiver, quickly discerning the fletching by touch. The arrow she drew had a small, blown-glass tip, filled with venom drawn from a wyvern's maw. She notched the arrow, pressed the end against her bow to crack it open, and fired. It caught the last dazed rifleman squarely in the throat. He gasped deeply, inhaling the vapors, and was quickly overcome, slouching against the stone wall in a daze.


It was only a few seconds later that the priest finally staggered back from Udiyvli's blows, looking frantically around for her compatriots. Horror dawned upon her face as she found herself alone, and her last screams never escaped the oncoming wall of light and fire.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The End of the Beginning

The silence was deafening.

It struck Jezriyah suddenly just how cold it was.  Granted, they were on top of the Citadel itself on a platform made of ice -- the chill was no surprise.  But her vision had been so tunneled since the fall of Sindragosa that now, at the end of the long final battle, it seemed that she was standing at the foot of the Frozen Throne for the first time.

The shock was beginning to break, now, and the ten of them began to grasp the gravity of what had just occurred.  Qoholeth, head bowed in thankful prayer; Alessandrae crumbled on the floor, head in her hands, Ygdrasill on one knee and holding her tight to his chest.  Peccator quietly healing the last of the group’s wounds.  And Udiyvli, ever the leader, shaking snow and sweat from her mane as she walked towards the fallen Prince’s prone body, opening the small cache he had possessed.

“Jezi!”  She gestured briefly, and the hunter walked over, to be presented with one of the stranger crossbows she’d ever seen.  “I think you’re the only one of us who could make use of this.”

Jezriyah took the weapon gingerly, turning it over in her hands.  It was a Scourge weapon at first glance, with all the skulls and spikes and deathly trappings they’d been so fond of.  But its lath was awfully long, and made of a completely different wood than the other pieces of the weapon.  She squinted, and turned it on its side.  “Huh.  Looki’ this, Udi.  S’jes’ a longbow attached to a secon’han’ stock.”

“So it is,” the warrior murmured, brow furrowing.  “And look at the detailing on the front.  That’s not even Scourge, it’s--”

“--elvish,” Jezriyah finished.  Their eyes met for half a second, the same idea flitting across both their eyes.  She bit her lip.  “Linny may know... Tayllia would fa’ certain.”

“Know what?”  Ailinea drew closer, pulling her hood back over her head and tucking her shivering ears underneath it.

Jezriyah reached over and brushed the snow from her friend’s shoulders affectionately.  “Th’ origin a’this weapon.”  She held the bow out with her other hand.

The mage’s breath caught in her throat -- Jezi was certain that was her answer, but she waited for confirmation.  Ailinea ran her fingers over the lath, seeming to feel a remnant of arcane power in it.  “It’s definitely quel’dorei in provenance,” she said slowly.  “And... I can’t speak for certain of who it would belong to, but... it’s much more ornate than anything a lay ranger would have carried in battle.  It must have belonged to a Farstrider of significant rank.”

The three of them exchanged quiet glances.  “Actually askin’ be th’only way ah kin think t’be sure,” Jezriyah murmured.  She looked to Ailinea.  “Would -- would you be willin’ ta come wit’ me?  Ah always feel so out-a-place down there...”

“Of course.”

They approached Qoholeth after he’d finished his prayers and helped Peccator and Bosorn with the last of the immediately-necessary healing.  “Q, dear--”  Ailinea rested a hand on his elbow.  “Do you think you could get us in touch with the right people to obtain an audience with the Dark Lady?  We... need her advice on a subject of some import.”

The priest blinked slowly, before offering a soft smile.  “I find it hard to imagine you’d be able to avoid addressing her, considering what just happened here.”

“A valid point.”  Ailinea glanced between her two comrades.  “We’ll all need some time to rest... and it’s much later than it feels now.  The day after tomorrow, perhaps?”

“Ay, tha’ soun’ good.  Poor Miga’s got ’is leg nearly tore open.”

“Oh, goodness, I didn’t even see that.  Let me go have a look...”


Jezriyah did notice a few odd looks as she headed towards the Royal Quarter, but not nearly so many as there would have been were she not accompanied by a blood elf mage and Forsaken priest.  She was grateful for their presence as they stepped into the imposing confines of the Banshee Queen’s throne room.

“Your Majesty,” intoned one of the officials, reading from a scroll.  “Priest Qoholeth of the Undercity, Dame Ailinea Phoenixborn of Silvermoon, and...”  A momentary pause, as usually came from the eastern races.  “Jez... rye-ay, of the Darkspear Tribe.”  It was wrong, but not as badly wrong as it had been said before, so she let it be.  “Veterans of the battle at Icecrown Citadel.”

It was at this last statement that Sylvanas’ gaze turned sharp, her jaw setting as she looked at them appraisingly.  “Thank you, herald.”  She looked around the room briefly.  “You are all dismissed; we require privacy.  You may return after our visitors have left.”

The circled Deathguards bristled.  “My Lady, as your bodyguards--”

“These soldiers are known to me; they pose no risk.”  Jezriyah’s spine straightened uncomfortably at that revelation.  “You will be told when you may return.”

The varied guards and ambassadors in the room all filed out, most of them looking quizzically or suspiciously at the troll as they left.  The doors were pulled shut, and Jezriyah stood awkwardly before the Banshee Queen of the Forsaken.

“Word of Arthas’ fall reached the Undercity almost instantaneously,” Sylvanas said, her voice perfectly even -- if she had any emotional reaction to this news, she certainly wasn’t showing it.  “You and your comrades have won an incomparable victory for all of Azeroth, and not least the Forsaken, including myself.”  Her voice softened.  “It is not often I find myself in a position to offer my sincere gratitude to anyone, but you have all certainly earned it.”

“It be nothin’ compared ta your own sacrifices fo’ your people, Your Majesty,” Jezriyah said slowly, the words carefully rehearsed -- both for content and to minimize her heavy island accent.  “But tha’ is part of why ah wished ta speak wit’ you today.  We... obtained some items from Icecrown after th’ Lich King’s defeat.  One of them in pa’ticular we think may have belonged to you or one of ya colleagues.  An’ we wished ta return it to you if dat were th’case.”

She unwrapped the bundle of linens wrapped around the weapon and stepped forward to present it to Sylvanas, her head bowed slightly.  “It seems t’be an elven longbow, attached to a crossbow stock...”

The room went silent as Sylvanas took the weapon, examining it closely.  Jezi searched her face for some hint of recognition, but found none, until the Queen spoke.  “This is the Heartseeker,” she said brusquely, “or at least it once was.  It did belong to me, though it wasn’t my preferred weapon.  It must have been taken from the Farstrider base after Silvermoon fell.”

Jezriyah bit her lip, unsure how to react to the matter-of-fact way Sylvanas spoke of such terrible events.  “Then ah’m glad to have returned it to you,” she finally said.

Sylvanas scoffed.  “I appreciate the sentiment, I suppose, but I’ve certainly no need for it now.”  She offered the weapon back to the troll, who took it gingerly.

Jezriyah glanced to Ailinea.  “Ah s’pose we could return it to th’ Farstriders fa’ safekeeping, den.”  Her mage friend nodded her approval.

The Dark Lady’s eyes shifted downward to the stout gray wolf at her visitors’ side.  “Whose companion is this?”

Jezriyah smiled without thinking of it, patting her partner’s shaggy mane.  “This be Mig’atali.  He fought wit’ us at th’ Frozen Throne as well.”

“Indeed.  A hunter of your people, then.”  She looked at the troll for a long moment before speaking again.  “What sort of weapon do you use now?”

“Oh--”  She pulled the bone bow she’d salvaged from Icecrown from its place on her back, holding it out for Sylvanas’ inspection.  “I go’ it from some skeleton archer t’ing up nort’.  It ain’ much for finesse, but it hit like an angry kodo.”

The Queen’s nose wrinkled.  “Standard Scourge craftsmanship.  Strength in numbers.  Ten thousand shambling skeletons firing these and something’s bound to find a target.”  Jezriyah couldn’t stifle a soft laugh -- it was just the comment she’d have made herself, and the reminder of the inviolable Dark Lady as a fellow marksman made her smile.

Sylvanas caught the expression and returned it, though in a distant way that seemed to chill the room.  “Silvermoon and the ranger corps have more than enough left to remind them of the scourging of Quel’Thalas.  As the rightful owner of the Heartseeker, I think it fitting that you wield it.  It would serve Azeroth better in the battlefield than displayed on a wall.”

Jezriyah’s eyes shot open.  “I -- yah Majesty, I couldna possibly --”

“Enough.  You are both devoted to the defense of your people and capable of facing the most dire threats our world has seen.  Consider it your just reward for your contribution to the war effort.”  She let her gaze flick between the three of them.  “Have any of you further business?”

They did not, and after another minute or so of formalities, they were escorted back onto the streets of the Undercity.  A few minutes after that, Ailinea had summoned a portal, and Jezriyah found herself back in Orgrimmar under the pounding heat of a Durotar drought.  She thought of visiting her parents, but instead headed to her own small rented room upstairs from Kaya’s gun shop.

The Heartseeker was wrapped carefully in a thick bundle of linen, tucked under the bed with the rest of her battle gear.  She might get it out in a couple of days on the training dummies, get used to firing with a trigger again -- but for now, the war was over.  Azeroth was safe.  It would be a long time before it was needed again.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Back of the Class

My name is Jezriyah, and I am a raider.

Not a terrifically hardcore one, but a raider by anyone's standards.  I have 3 scheduled raid nights a week (it used to be 4, but my raid leader is temporarily leading another group as well right now) with a random VoA/ToC run thrown in once every week or two.  I crunch numbers like a motherfucker, or at least bribe Rilgon with one-liners and gnome porn to do it for me.  I know my role, I practice, I work my ass off.  There's nothing casual about how seriously I take raiding in this game.

I raid with nine other people.  Warrior and paladin tanks.  A resto shaman, disc priest, and holy pally healing team.  One arcane mage, one unholy death knight, one balance druid, one frost death knight (occasionally swapped out for a ret paladin) and me, the hunter -- survival when I have to be for replenishment, marksmanship at heart and when I get my choice.

I raid as a solid 20% of the raid's DPS if I'm doing it right, probably closer to 15% when you account for tank damage and the fact that our boomkin is god-tier.  I raid with my reflexes on full twitch and every door between myself and the rest of the house shut.  I raid my ass off.

Mine is one of two ten-man raid groups in my guild.  There are, in fact, 25 people in my guild who can put together a decent raid.  We cleared the Lower Spire on Saturday (and I scooped THE TRINKET off Saurfang) and could have gone a good bit further if we'd had the time.  But that's where it falls apart.  Our two raid teams have ten people each, and we've got three or four other raid-capable people, but putting together the 25-man involved taking one or two people who just aren't ready for prime time.  We can run a 25, but we just haven't got the manpower to run a 25-man progression raid.  And the scheduling differences throw another ugly kink in it.

I raid without the 5% Rampage/Leader of the Pack buff.  I raid without Mangle or Blood Frenzy, Trauma or Savage Combat.  I raid with a single ilevel 277 item -- the exalted Ashen Verdict ring -- and some 264s from the Frost vendor (and THE TRINKET, which was a fluke of that one 25 we rounded up).  I raid with Quel'Delar and non-heroic Njorndar.

I raid with the weight of the encounter on my shoulders.  I raid with the knowledge that if I hang out in a void zone one tick too long, there's only one person watching my ass, not three, and if I keel over we're most likely going to wipe due to lack of damage.  I raid with a back-of-my-hand knowledge of everyone's abilities -- whose damage will spike immediately, whose will build up, who's not good at moving and may need his name called out when he gets a debuff, whose connection is shaky on certain fights (and which) so if they don't respond for a moment they probably need extra heals and protection.  And of course, the immediate recognition of every voice in the raid.  (If you can manage this level of knowledge in a 25-man, good on you -- but I sure can't.)

I raid.  I raid my ass off.  And when I get the Kingslayer title (hopefully sometime this week or next -- we've just downed Sindragosa this week), I will wear it with pride.  And anyone who tries to assert that doing it with 9 other people and a 15% damage buff makes me any less the savior of Azeroth is gonna get my boot up their ass.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sometimes, You Gotta Roll Your Own

There's a proliferation of hunter blogs in the world.  I'll wholeheartedly admit that I don't read most of them.  But I do keep an eye on some of the bigger names -- especially those that I know newer or less community-aware hunters are going to flock to.

The one thing I notice a lot of is the use of hard limits.  Numbers telling you when to do certain things with stats.  If you have X armor pen, you gem for armor pen instead of agility.  If you have Y amount of crit, you drop Arcane Shot from your rotation.  If Z is less than A then ... you get the picture.

I understand the thinking behind it: it's simple.  It's a crib sheet, and most of these rules are at least somewhat approaching correct (at least in concept if not execution).  But for us crazy min-maxing motherfuckers, us people batting frantically at Arthas' heels, they... well, I don't want to say they completely fail, but...

They completely fail.

There are certain hard limits in the game for hunters, yes.  Here they are:
  • The raiding hit cap is 8%.  If you are Marks, you can put up to 3 points in Focused Aim to drop your gear cap to 5%.  If you are a Draenei, or will always have one in your raid, both of those numbers go down by 1%.
  • The hard armor pen cap is 1400.  The soft armor pen cap is 1400 minus any additional armor pen procs you have from gear or trinkets.
  • The crit cap is like 104% or some shit.  More than is worth worrying about.  MOAR CRIT.
  • The haste cap is irrelevant.  Don't stack haste.  If you get some, fine, but don't chase it.
Those are the hard numbers.  Those are the ONLY hard numbers.  Those are the only magic thresholds that can be crossed to change how you gear/gem/spec your character.  The answer to any other gearing and gemming questions?

Import yourself from the armory.  Set up the buffs/debuffs you have in your standard raiding environment.  Hit Update.  Click DPS Scratchpad and write down the number.  Make the changes you're considering, and hit Update again.  Compare the two numbers.  If it went up an amount worth the cost of making the changes?  Do it!  If not, stay put.  (I seem to recall Rilgon would gain like 60 DPS by gemming for armor pen, but it'd cost him like 1300g in rubies to do it.  Wasn't worth it for him; your mileage may vary.)

This is not difficult, guys.  It really isn't.  If you have Windows and Microsoft Office and want it more accessible, you can download Shandara's spreadsheet (which Zeherah's is based off of) here.

I know how tempting it is to find the easy button, but you know what?  At the top levels of raiding, there's not one.  It is really not that much extra work to do your own damn math if it means maximizing your performance and making your guild's kill happen.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Reason #2984 I Shouldn't Be Allowed To Know Rilgon

Master Blueberry and myself, discussing an entry on FMyLife...

Today, I bitched out my boyfriend for logging into my facebook account and deleting EVERY male (even family) off my friends list. He accused me of wanting to cheat on him and has forced me to say "sorry." FML
1) dump
2) bat > groin
this is the classic opener for abusive relationships
Cut her off from friends and family so she will feel you are "all she has" and not want to leave
Isolation : domestic abuse :: sap : eviscerate
... I may or may not need to be shot for making that analogy
I am dumbfounded by how accurate that is

(Silly WoW jokes aside?  Abuse is serious business, kids, and emotional abuse is just as bad as physical.  If you're with someone who's trying to separate you from everyone but them, you should basically run like hell.)