Written by | Posted November 13, 2014 – 12:30 pm A Girl and her Dog

The morning of the all hands summon to the Blasted Lands, Aely went for a walk. The late fall air was clear and cool, and leaves crunched under their feet in the less-traveled parts of the streets. She and Roger took the long way around Old Town, south through Tanner Circle and down Bulwarks, across […]

Computer Woes
comment 9 Written by on October 31, 2012 – 10:40 am

I’m hoping someone out there who reads this can offer me some suggestions, as I’ve been having some pretty significant computer trouble for the last few weeks, and it’s progressively getting worse.

The Symptoms:

Computer periodically freezes. It does not blue-screen, nor does the hard disk stop spinning, it just goes completely unresponsive (mouse pointer frozen, no keyboard, num lock key won’t toggle, windows button doesn’t work, CTRL-ALT-DEL doesn’t work, etc.). The only way to unfreeze it is to hard restart it with the power button. Occasionally, it auto-restarts itself. Sometimes the freezing happens after several hours of doing various things, sometimes it happens just after restarting. Usually it happens when I’m trying to run multiple things at the same time (like Firefox, iTunes, and TweetDeck, or opening Firefox while WoW is running), but sometimes I’ll be typing a blog post and it will just freeze up (like just happened, thank FSM for auto-save).

This started happening with some regularity when the computer was left idle for long periods of time, like overnight. Then, after about a week of that, it’s gone to happening more and more frequently, to the point where it happened 7-10 times yesterday.

The only error in the error log is error 41, which is the “you hard restarted the computer using the power button” error. There is no recorded failure other than that windows did not shut down properly. Since there’s no BSOD, I have no other error messages to google.

What we’ve tried:

  • chkdsk and memtest both came back with no errors
  • I’ve cleaned the computer out thoroughly (it wasn’t very dirty) and checked all the fans, which are running fine.
  • I’ve unseated and reseated all the MB components
  • I’ve made sure all drivers and Windows7 are up to date (they were)
  • Restart into safe mode to run a virus scan/defrag – computer froze up about halfway through.
  • Booted the computer off of a Ubuntu CD. The computer did not crash overnight. Admittedly, all I did was boot it into Ubuntu (there’s not much you can do with it just as a CD so we didn’t really test anything stressful), and sometimes it runs for hours in Windows too. Still, this may be significant.

Possible things are a memory problem that memtest didn’t find? A bad windows driver (since it still crashes even in safe mode, but seemed fine booting off a Ubuntu CD)? I’m running out of things to check that could be causing this, but it’s REALLY ANNOYING.

I bow to your superior computer knowledge, internet. I’m running up against a total loss on what this could be. Help!

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. 

Very First Impressions

November 14, 2014 – 7:32 am

So I haven’t finished the intro quests yet (the server queues from the reduced server capacity due to the DDOS attacks meant I only got about an hour to play yesterday), but I’m finding that Draenor is pretty cool so …

A Girl and her Dog

November 13, 2014 – 12:30 pm

The morning of the all hands summon to the Blasted Lands, Aely went for a walk. The late fall air was clear and cool, and leaves crunched under their feet in the less-traveled parts of the streets. She and Roger …

Counting down to Warlords

November 11, 2014 – 3:09 pm

What a long strange trip it’s been. I’ll be the first to admit that, at the beginning, I wasn’t sure Pandaria was going to be for me. I’ve made clear my dislike of daily quests, and that seemed to be …


October 24, 2014 – 12:01 pm

Squire Benjamin William Sullivan stood in the middle of Light’s Hope Chapel in his underpants.

Actually, it was white linen pants and a shift, but the effect was approximately the same. The little chapel was warm, on the edge of …

Introducing the Newest Anna

June 29, 2014 – 4:39 pm

So I’m not really in a position where I should be creating alts. This, of course, does nothing to deter me from making alts when the inspiration strikes. I’ve been really enjoying my Alliance hunter, and she’s my raiding main …


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 …


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 …

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