Written by | Posted November 19, 2013 – 4:46 pm Deconstruction

Bad things are happening in Stormwind – and beyond.

The Hand of Lothar, they call themselves.

Yva Darrows was their first target.

Tirith and Aely were their second and third.

They have since… expanded their reach and escalated their methods …

Friday Five – Weather!
comment Comments Off Written by on October 26, 2012 – 8:27 am

This week’s Friday Five is a set of questions about how you deal with weather in RP. Or don’t deal with it, depending.

1. Does your character prefer warm or cold weather?
2. What’s their favorite way to stay cool?
3. What’s their favorite way to stay warm?
4. Has your character ever gone on vacation? If so, where?
5. How do you (the writer) deal with weather in RP? Do you ignore it, work with it, build it in specifically?

Aely is a cold weather woman – she loves the cold most of the time, largely because she’s usually wearing heavy armor with padding underneath. She’s been known to upend buckets of water over her head in the summer, especially in places where nobody in their right mind would be wearing plate. Keeping warm? That’s easy, whiskey. Or possibly whiskey and sit by a fireplace, but definitely whiskey. If it’s a pleasure trip, Aely does have a fondness for warm and tropical places where she can wear light sundresses, but she always wears a big hat to help prevent freckles.

As a writer, I like using weather – sometimes a bit too much I think. Weather gives your characters something to really react to in your setting, so I tend to build it into most of my stories intentionally. It’s also ripe with really good descriptions, and I’m a sucker for good descriptions.

And call him George…
comment Comments Off Written by on October 23, 2012 – 7:43 am

So I finally got around to doing that whole battle pet thing.

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to stop.

Aely’s stalled out in Kun-Lai Summit, just shy of level 89, and I’m running around like a madwoman, collecting as many unusual pets as Angoleth can find. This is slightly out of character, for although I have lots of alts, I’m not usually a completionist, and I’ve never been rabid about pets before.

Until now, apparently. I’ve got about 20 rare pets, most of the rest are uncommons, and I’m stalking all the zone-unique ones as I level up pets. Of course, I can’t decide WHICH pets I want to be part of my actual pet leveling team, so I have a good 10 that are between level 5 and 11. My current “team” is:

  • Dusk Spiderling (rare – wild pet, Duskwood, beast)
  • Clockwork Gnome (rare – archaeology, mechanical)
  • Nether Ray Fry (rare – reputation pet, flying)

With alternate spots going to a Forest Spiderling (I toyed with a 3 spider team for awhile), a Nightsaber cub, a Rabid Nut Varmint 5000 (uncommon, can’t get a rare), a Small Frog (rare), my Firefly (rare drop, but gets his ass kicked a lot), and my Sprite Darter Hatchling (also classed as rare).

As unusual pets go, so far I’ve found:

  • Baby Ape (rare)
  • Cheetah Cub (uncommon)
  • Giraffe Calf (common)

I was so thrilled to find any baby giraffes at all that I don’t care that it’s only a common. Next patch I’ll level it up to rare, maybe, or I won’t, because really all I’m going to do with it is let it follow me around and be adorable. Which it is. SO CUTE. I didn’t have any luck stalking an Irradiated Roach or the Tiny Bog Beast though. And once it’s the weekend I can get a Stone Armadillo too (they are nocturnal, you know).

I highly recommend the addon Pet Battle Quality Glow if you’re interested in the quality of the pets you catch. While it won’t tell you the pet quality until you start a fight (the pet quality isn’t determined until the fight starts, I don’t think), once you get into a battle, the pet icon and name will show up grey, white, green, or blue. It’s really useful, if only so you know when to defeat the first pet in a fight because the second is a rare spotted cockroach. Or whatever. Obviously this matters a lot less for pets you’re collecting just for show, but I’m still trying to get mostly greens and blues. It’s a bit of an obsession.

Unfortunately I am stalled out at thinking up NAMES for all of these adorable pets. I have Widget the Robot Bunny, Gizmo the Firefly, Pixel the Nightsaber Cub, and Percy the Clockwork Gnome. That’s it. The rest just are called whatever their pet type is. Obviously, I need to spend my downtime at work coming up with fitting names for the menagerie, especially the pets I’m tending to battle with.

I’ll be eagerly following Ratshag’s new blog, Press 5 to Capture, as well. While I’m not really interested in PVP pet battles, just finding all the pets and leveling up to beat the trainers (and catch more pets), I still want to learn about ALL THE PETS.

Eventually I imagine I’ll get back to leveling. I still have plans for getting Angoleth to 90 and ready to be a raid sub. Plus there’s the Cloud Serpents and farming (Terrible Turnip GO!) and tons of other things to do. I’m really feeling like I don’t have time to see all the things in game that I want to see – which is a huge improvement, if a little bit frustrating. Still, hopefully this will keep me from burning out any time soon.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go stalk a Tiny Bog Beast for a bit.

Going Beyond “Mostly Dead”
comment 1 Written by on October 17, 2012 – 8:39 am

I mentioned a bit ago when we were talking about how important a good villain is, that there’s more than one type of death in an RPG, and to be very careful with permanent character death.

I stand by that statement. Be VERY careful with permanent character death.

The laws of magic in game are such that there’s two kinds of dead.

“It just so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there’s usually only one thing you can do… Go through his clothes and look for loose change. - Miracle Max, The Princess Bride

Mostly dead” can be interesting to RP. Getting the absolute snot beaten out of your character can be, in a sort of twisted and macabre way, fun. They have a lesson to learn, or a growth experience to encounter, or just a chance to recouperate and take a rather forceful break. Beat downs are part of RP, and when you’re RPing in a raid or instance or PVP situation, “mostly dead” is a fixable sort of thing. A quick trip over here to the spirit healer and everything’s back to how it should be, and you deal with injuries as you see fit, depending on the situation.

But “all dead”… well, permanent death you can’t fix so easily.

With the possible exception of killing a character to rez them as an undead (because you want to faction change, or because zombies), permanent death should be permanent.

It sounds a little flippant to say it that way, but I’m being very serious when I suggest that you really think about all the possible consequences of actually killing a character.

For example, killing a character because you’re quitting wow doesn’t always work out how you’d think.

If you’re a solid part of an RP community, there will likely be a fair amount of RP around your character’s death, followed by your character becoming part of the guild lore. At which point, if you decide to come back to the game, it is VERY HARD to resurrect them in a way that won’t a) be ridiculous and b) make people angry. When people put in a lot of time and energy getting past a character’s death, having them magically show up 6 months later is more than a little bit offputting.

You’ll end up having to either negotiate a massive guild retcon (to deal with all the stories where your then-dead character had a featuring role being dead and to address everyone’s having gone through the grieving process over your character) or start over with a new character (even if you just name change the old one) and re-build the connections and friendships in a new way.

Both ways are hard, and they can put a real damper on the excitement of coming back to the game. If you leave in an open ended way (retirement is always a good option, random disappearance works too), you can return and enjoy being welcomed back. You can always start a rumor of your character’s untimely death, fill it with possible inconsistencies, and leave people to sort out their own conclusions, which gives you the option of coming back two years later with a story all ready to tell.

Killing a character because you just “don’t like playing them anymore” is also fraught with potential pitfalls. What happens if, next expansion, situations arise where that character would really fit in? What happens if they radically change your class, and you can’t wait to try it out again?

Obviously, I’m pretty leery of killing people off in interactive situations like RP. (If you’re writing a novel, feel free to disregard this advice. Then it’s just YOUR story, and you can do whatever you like with your characters.)

It can be very powerful to kill off a character in a story, and that can add a lot of weight to the storytelling. Maybe that means rolling up a new alt with the intent of getting them killed. An alt that you’ve played on and off can pretty safely be eliminated (especially if they’ve languished in your character selection screen for two years). A main character, though, is much harder, and generally when people talk about killing off characters in big stories, it’s characters they – and everyone else – are attached to.

It boils down to being really careful about making decisions that you can’t reverse easily.

Gaming is weird, and people come and go, leave and come back all the time. In the last seven years, I’ve seen people leave the game because they start having kids and will never have time, only to have those kids hit preschool and suddenly they have time again. I’ve seen people start school and quit WoW, only to be back for the next expansion. I’ve seen people quit because their significant other couldn’t stand them gaming, only for them to be back when the relationship didn’t last. I’ve had my own health crisis, that took me away from blogging and gaming for the better part of an entire expansion.

If you know you’re going to be gone for awhile (or possibly for good), it’s natural to want to have a reason for your character’s disappearance. However, it’s probably better to write up a story to wrap up loose ends in a way that leaves open the possibility of coming back. You really never know what the future will turn up.

For me, a lot of this concerns maintaining a sort of gravitas around permanent death.

We play in a magical world where there really is such a thing as “only mostly dead.” Real, actual death is rare, and it loses its effectiveness if we’re constantly killing and resurrecting characters as a way to manufacture drama. Sure, a death can be dramatic – it’s a powerful statement and a powerful thing to write and experience. Do it too often and it becomes cheap, losing the power it has to hold us and create strong emotions and stories.

I think it’s wise to avoid situations where people start to wonder if your character really is dead or not, or how long it will be before they’re magically alive again (but not Undead, of course). Anything that is overused can become cheap, and in a world where we cheat death on a daily basis, it’s important to keep what little severity we can for death as a plot device.

We may joke about leaving bodies in the canals, but our characters are constantly bound up in the business of bringing death to foes. This is World of Warcraft, after all. When its one of our own that has died, there’s a weight there that I find important to hold on to.

Having death be legitimate keeps our characters human.

We’re working to write believable, real characters in an often unfathomably unrealistic, magical world, at some point there has to be some depth to their experience. Our characters have all had to come to terms with the idea of being bringers of death in some form or another. Being on the receiving end needs to balance that out in some way. Otherwise, death loses its value, and we lose some of the humanity of our characters.*

While death is a huge part of our characters’ everyday experiences, real character death is rare to nonexistent in game. Use it sparingly, if at all, and keep in mind that there can be strong OOC and IC consequences both for killing off a beloved character and for trying to resurrect them later.

*For the record, I feel similarly about pregnancy and babies in RP. Life and death both need to have a certain level of believability for our characters to remain human and real. RPing through a pregnancy is a Big Life Event, and results in a Baby. Babies are not things to be taken lightly. Perhaps Bricu can guest post about Naiara sometime. 

A little kindness can go a long way
comment 1 Written by on October 16, 2012 – 9:51 am

Just a quick reminder, as you go forth and conquer all the new content and find new avenues for RP:

Be kind to the people you’re playing with, even if the RP is not to your liking.

New expansions always bring out new players and bring back old players looking to try new things. When you start delving into RP, you never know when you’re going to find a really young player, or a new player, or someone who is taking their first tentative foray into storytelling. Nobody starts out good at this; I know I certainly didn’t. Thanks to kind players who guided my miserable, lore-bending attempts at character creation, I stuck with it.

Of course, you don’t have to stick around and participate all evening in RP that makes you crazy. You can excuse yourself while being kind about leaving, offering advice (if asked) and directing people to public RP events and forum information.

Building the type of community that welcomes new RP is a big deal, and something I think is particularly important. RP can be hard to find; it’s not dead, but it’s certainly underground in a lot of places. The only way to keep those communities vibrant is to keep them growing, and that takes a certain amount of patience as you work with new players to see who’s going to fit (and who would be a better fit elsewhere). Unkind words or a reputation for being rude to people who aren’t fitting in is a really fast way to stagnate a community.

So be kind. Stay true to your character, but use OOC conversation if your character has a tendency toward abruptness or rudeness.

Build community.

Deconstruction

November 19, 2013 – 4:46 pm

Bad things are happening in Stormwind – and beyond.

The Hand of Lothar, they call themselves.

Yva Darrows was their first target.

Tirith and Aely were their second and third.

They have since… expanded their reach and escalated their methods …

Patrol

November 13, 2013 – 9:59 am

The cathedral bells stop ringing overnight, except for chiming the hours. Three bell strikes, and Angoleth padded softly around another corner of the Cathedral District, staying carefully in the shadows. Trained ears picked up Mogget’s soft breathing – nearly inaudible …

Riders in Lordaeron – Memory

November 7, 2013 – 1:33 pm

(Written by Jolly, Tarquin, and Annalea)

The highlands of Lordaeron were not for the faint of heart; be it the putrescence of the Scourge’s long-lingering remnant, or the rock-strewn hills and valleys that made farmers out of only the most …

Riders of Lordaeron – Logistics

September 13, 2013 – 7:11 pm

(With Tarquin and Annalea)

Once more, four people made their way through the thickets and hills of Lordaeron, this time in the crisp chill of late morning, seeking after the Rider. Aelflaed had snatched what sleep she could while Chryste …

Riders of Lordaeron – Problematic

September 11, 2013 – 9:47 am

(With Tarquin)

She hadn’t wanted to leave Jolly – not so soon after finding him again – but once away, it took about five minutes for Aely to figure out she had a problem.

That problem had just announced that …

Riders of Lordaeron: Arrangements

September 9, 2013 – 10:05 am

It was an uneasy goodbye for him, but it was agreed by both he and Aely that a stroll back to Hearthglen would not be very easy to explain, nor would the explanation needed for the three Argent soldiers once …

Riders of Lordaeron

September 7, 2013 – 9:02 am

“Light sent me ye when I needed ye afore – an’ now again when I need ye. I canna ask fir more than tha’.” She sighed and slung the shield back across her shoulders. “It’s… Light. Been awhile hasna it? …

Dark Rider of Lordaeron (Part 4)

September 6, 2013 – 2:02 pm

She blinked, but did not drop either of her shields. “Aye, though I’ve been Caltrains fir th’ last near three years. Canna say I’ve any memory ay ye.”

“Yeh’ve far moar’n yeh realize,” he replied evenly, his grip tightening on …

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