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 …

We’ve Come a Long Way
comment 13 Written by on July 1, 2010 – 7:47 am

My first character wasn’t a hunter, but a hunter was my first main. Yesterday, I got that first main – the character I learned how to play WoW on – to level 80. Going back through, I discovered I’d unintentionally managed to take a few screenshots that show her “growing up”.

There have been times over the last five years that I’ve thought about deleting the character, when I couldn’t get her RP to work or the class mechanics made me nuts (or both). But I didn’t, and I’m glad.

It’s been a long, strange, crazy fun trip, and I’m looking forward to whatever else Azeroth has to offer.

angoleth ferelasLevel… 40 something, in Feralas. Back in the days when a hunter’s pet stayed summoned even when mounted, and when you got your very first ground mount at 40.

An 57
Level 52, Greens of the Something. This is the first screenshot showing Angie’s predisposition for armor that is red. This preference continues.

firepoleLevel 60, and enjoying the first midsummer celebrations. This was either before I started raiding or just as our raids were beginning.

angolethpark
Level 60, post raiding. Note that the gloves don’t match in this screenshot. >.>

anhair1
Level 70, with a new haircut thanks to the barber shop.

Angoleth 80Level 80 – June 30, 2010

angoleth 80b

It’s kind of strange to think that I’ve been associated with this character for over five years, but looking back, I can’t say I really have much to complain about. I’ve had a blast leveling her to 80 (something I can’t really say was true of all my level 80 characters), and I’m really enjoying running heroics and whatever else shows up.

Am I likely to be a hunter again full time? No, not really. I still like healing, and Aely will still be my main in Cataclysm.

But there’s something sentimental about still slipping into that role that is the first one you ever tried out. Even now, when I look back, the image of her that remains in my head is one that still has elements from the original World of Warcraft. Her mental image, though it does update, always retains a little throwback to the Stormpike Tabard and refrigerator shoulders that made up her Tier 1 gear (Angoleth’s level 70 in that picture; I didn’t get my Tier 1 gloves until a legacy raid late in Burning Crusade. Oops!)

What about you? Do you still play the first character you “stuck with”? If you don’t still play them, have you kept them around (as a banker or crafter), or have they met with the Character Delete option? Are you sentimental about any of your characters in particular?

angoleth

The Power of Experience
comment 7 Written by on June 29, 2010 – 10:29 am

Back in the bad old days of Molten Core, I was a hunter. I was also totally new to raiding, and had done very little/no grouping or instancing as I was leveling. WoW was my first MMO, and because of some issues I’d run into early on, I decided instances were awful and eye-stabbing, so I just never went. Once I hit 60, though, I started raiding, first in Zul’Gurub and then in Molten Core with a newly formed 40 man raid group in my guild. I was one of /seven/ hunters in that raid.

I was very, very new. Shiny, squeaky new. Freshly baked noob-pie new.

But I stuck with it.

I discovered I kind of liked raiding, especially at the beginning. I slowly picked up information about pulling instances and shot rotations and controlling my pet. The internet wasn’t nearly as full of WoW information as it is now, and I didn’t even know that such a thing as boss strategies /existed/ until we started learning fights like Garr.

Unfortunately, in our group was another hunter, experienced in the ways of MMOs and quite possibly raiding on another character at the time. My performance as a hunter did not meet his standards, and he expressed that to me – repeatedly, and in several forms: in whispers, and by complaining to the raid leaders, and by spamming Damage Meters parses at me. He went so far as to say that I didn’t deserve the loot that I was getting (even though I too had earned the DKP for it). No matter what I did, how prepared I felt I was, or what my placement was on the DPS chart, it wasn’t good enough.

When I got my Ancient Petrified Leaf, he told me (and the rest of the hunters) that I was a disappointment and not worth my raid spot when I didn’t have a completed Rhok’delar the next week (I didn’t complete my Rhok until 2.0 talents released and I moved to a new apartment, because lag really was not a good thing for two of the demon fights). He kept his raid spot because he topped the damage meters each week, and I guess the raid leaders didn’t think it was worth asking him not to come back or whatever. Either way, it went on for awhile, even though my class lead knew about the problem.

To this day, I still get irrationally furious any time someone links damage meters in chat, and when that raid fell apart, I decided I was done with being a hunter in a raid instance. Fortunately by then I was also raiding as a priest, and I’d discovered that there was a totally different measure of how to be a healer (and that the raid I subbed into did not have an antagonistic jerk in it).

If someone were to act that way today, I would tell them exactly where to go and how to get there. I know how raiding works in WoW, and I know when someone is legitimately saying “hey you could do X better” and when they’re just being an asshat. But I didn’t know that then.

And I almost quit raiding because of it.

So what’s the point?

The point is that experience, like the abilities you train and the boss fights you learn, is a skill that aids with raiding. That skill is something a lot of us take for granted, especially if we’ve been raiding awhile. But every new expansion comes with a new raid reset, and each raid reset brings new players to raiding. I’ve been raiding since UBRS was the “intro” to raids. Some people cut their teeth on Karazhan. Still others on Naxxramas. A whole new group of players will earn their raiding stripes on whatever the first raid instance is in Cataclysm (I don’t know what it will be and don’t care to know yet).

Raid experience is not just about having seen the inside of a dungeon either.

There are skills you learn, certainly, and boss fights. But you also learn group coordination, what to expect when you show up for a raid, how things usually work, what it’s like to wipe on a new boss for hours or weeks. You learn how to read patch notes, look up strategies, and learn to be effective at your class. You pick up raiding jargon (like tank, crowd control, adds, line of sight, DKP) as well as picking up on little jokes that later become Raid Tropes to refer back to and laugh about. Some jokes become universal – The Safety Dance, Don’t stand in fire, Merely a setback, IN THE MOUNTAINS, 50 DKP Minus, Many Whelps Handle It, Leroy Jenkins. Other things will be raid specific in-jokes – Prydion’s hair, 17 is less than 30, Don’t talk to Akama, Suddenly all the world was Bear, Things and Stuff, the Trinagle.

Every one of those little jokes, bits of jargon, raiding skills and coordination skills get filed away in your brain under “Raids”, and you become an experienced raider.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s your job to be responsible for everyone in your raid.

Is it your job to teach a new player how to play? Of course not. As a rank-and-file raider you are only responsible for yourself. But you should know the power of your words and actions towards other people, especially if they’re new.

Everyone has to learn somewhere, and everyone sucks when they’re new and starting out, and experienced raiders (whether they recognize it or not) have the power to make or break someone who is just trying out this “raid” thing.

Whether that means knowing where to point someone on the internet for great advice, how to walk someone through a new spec and rotation, who they should talk with to get that information, or simply when to shut up or suggest to your role/class leader that a discussion might be necessary, being supportive isn’t hard. It requires a modicum of patience, sure, but not everyone wants (or needs) to be a walking raid encyclopedia. Even though lots of resources do exist, not everyone instinctively knows about them. Being able to point someone at a Heigan youtube video that you found when you were learning to do the Safety Dance can save a wipe or five, repair bills, and frustration later on.

Perhaps the solution is to have a Troubleshooting and Complaints officer in your guild or raid, who can specifically be there for these types of situations.

If nothing else, follow the rule of DBAD (Don’t Be A Dick). Unless it is your job as a raid leader or officer to call out players for performing poorly… don’t. Trashing someone who is new can end up pushing them out of the game entirely. Most people are willing to learn, if approached in a way that doesn’t make them feel stupid or defensive.

Now, let me tell you another story (this one is shorter and happier).

When I first started raiding with Totally Raids, I was an enhancement shaman – for one raid. They desperately needed healers, specifically resto shaman flavored healers, so I decided to suck it up and try healing as a shaman. My first week in, I cast chain heal exactly twice, went OOM from trying to cast Healing Wave all the time, hardly used Earth Shield, and probably had my talents in all the wrong places.

After that raid, someone (I think it was Tarquin) sat me down, pointed me at Elitist Jerks and suggested I read up on healing strategies because I’d had some trouble and he thought maybe I needed better information.

Within a week, I was performing at levels that were up to par with the other healers. I learned.

The difference was all in the approach.

Tarquin was my raid leader – he had a voice of some authority, and also was someone that I trusted wasn’t just being overly competitive or a jerk. He spoke to me like I was intelligent, pointed me towards good resources, showed me how to read WoW WebStats, and sent me on my way. One of the other healers may have said “Wow, Annorah really doesn’t know how to play, and she’s making this harder on all of us,” and they would have been absolutely right. But rather than attack me for it, the TRI raid group decided to see if maybe I just needed to learn, instead of assuming I was just stupid.

In a few months, Cataclysm is going to come out and with it will come a whole swarm of new players.

Some of them will have raided in other games; for others, like I was, WoW will be their first MMO and/or their first time raiding. Everyone who runs raids right now in Wrath will become an “old” player – we’ll be the voices of experience, even if we don’t feel qualified.

How will we – the experienced raiders of Wrath – take on the challenge of working with new raiders in Cataclysm?

annas

Friday Five-Hundred: Midsummer Sun
comment 17 Written by on June 25, 2010 – 6:30 am

Hooray, it’s Midsummer!

Except… for all extents and purposes, Azeroth is a world without electricity. Which means it’s probably a world without universally available air conditioning. (Of course, gnomes are a likely exception) Fortunately, Azeroth is also a world with “climate controlled zones”… but that doesn’t mean we can’t add a little seasonal flair to our Midsummer celebration.

sunsetboats3

As such I propose a Friday Five-hundred! If you choose to take the challenge, write a 500 word (or fewer) ficlet that addresses the following prompt in some way:

A record-breaking heat wave hits Azeroth just in time for Midsummer.

When you’re done, post the fic (on a forum, on your blog) and leave a comment so I can go read them!

Questions to get started: How does your character deal with the heat? Do they try to “stick it out” in the city? Take a trip to the beach? Maybe go visit Winterspring or go hang out in the Library in the Storm Peaks? Is your character an engineer, attempting to find a way to cool buildings or rooms or people? How is your character doing health wise, and will this affect them? What about plate armor wearers? Does your elemental shaman cut a deal with Air? Maybe your frost mage keeps himself cool with a small, portable blizzard?

I’ll admit, this was prompted by both my own reality (which has been sauna-like for the last few weeks), and by a wonderful image, suggested by the Panzercow, of Aely sitting in front of a running Gnomish fan with her hair draped over the back of a chair, eating frozen grapes. We’ll see if the fic ends up being publishable ;)

Happy Summer!

annas

Review: The Guild Leader’s Handbook
comment 1 Written by on June 24, 2010 – 7:58 am

Leading a guild is hard. I’ve never attempted it, but I’ve been both a raid officer (currently) and a guild officer (formerly), and I have seen first hand some of the crap that guild leaders go through.

Good leaders manage to make this look easy. Bad leaders make everyone around them miserable. Sometimes guilds with good leaders fail anyway, for reasons unknown (or known… usually Drama).

Enter The Guild Leader’s Handbook:

glhandbook

Official Details:
The Guild Leader’s Handbook, by Scott F. Andrews (the “Officers Quarters” columnist at WoW.com).
Published by No Starch press and available for $24.95 print or $19.95 e-book (ISBN # 978-1-59327-258-6)

This book is pretty much what it says it is:

The Guild Leader’s Handbook is for anyone who is or ever wanted to become a Guild Leader.” (p xviii, Introduction)

Andrews lays out clear leadership strategies for building your guild from the ground up.

Rather than going willynilly and ending up like the character from Illegal Danish (WANNA JOIN MY GUILD!?!!?), Andrews advocates a reasoned, planned strategy for creating a guild, coming up with a concept and a name, managing officers and events, recruiting, raiding, and even what to do when the drama llama follows you home (as it inevitably will, in ANY guild).

The book is well laid out, easy to read, and written in a comfortable, conversational style. The book nerd in me would like to mention that it’s also nicely typeset, on thick paper, with an appropriate font, pleasant cover, and nice embellishment.

Andrews takes examples from his own guild leading as well as prominent/famous/infamous examples from across the MMO spectrum.

I’m a big fan of the diagrams he created as well; The Guild-ID Flowchart, Policy Triangle, Player Character Types and other specific concepts are both explained and then outlined in “pop out” boxes or placed into easy to read charts. His ability to break things down into basics keeps this from being too much of a “MMO-specific” book as well, and any gaming jargon is quickly and simply explained.

Particularly noteworthy, Andrews breaks down the differences between leading a guild and leading a raid, explaining very clearly what’s needed for both. Since not everyone can do both of those roles well, I thought it was well placed in the book, and an important point to bring up to new PVE guild leaders looking to get into raiding. His chapter on loot systems is also very good, though it generally leaves out the personalities of the raiders (since some loot systems will work well with one group of personalities but fail horribly with others).

Unfortunately, while Andrews attempts to address the idea of leading a roleplaying guild, he’s obviously inexperienced on the concept of Roleplay as a whole.

The roleplay section of The Guild Leader’s Handbook is very weak. While that’s somewhat understandable – this is not a book for leading an RP guild, it’s a book for leading ANY guild – it’s obvious that he’s led guilds that engaged extensively in PVE and occasionally in PVP, but is relying what he’s picked up secondhand for RP guilds.

His information is often either incorrect, limited, or both.

Using examples that perpetuate RP stereotypes is kind of cringe worthy.

As a full time RPer, I’d have a pretty hearty chuckle at someone that said “I must meditate for a moment before we begin our assault ((AFK Bio))” . The sentiment is good, but it rather unfortunately populates the “RPers are poncy gits who talk too much” stereotype. In such a situation, it’s absolutely acceptable to simply say “Wait just a minute” or some other… not affected, not pompous statement. Sure SOME characters might talk that way, but it’s pretty unusual in my experience with RP.

Maybe that doesn’t sound “roleplayish” enough to use as an example, but it’s a pretty distinct caricature, and not really representative.

The Guild Leader can’t be the guild’s Dungeon Master.

Yes, sometimes the GL will take on that role, but so should all the other members of the guild (or at least a handful of others). A guild that’s entire storyline, plot, events, and actions are tied to the creativity of one person will inevitably fail. A Guild Leader (or even a designated “Storymaster” officer, as suggested elsewhere in the book) may coordinate things, and help make sure that player created content doesn’t overlap, and perhaps work to create a direction or a goal for the guild, but what keeps an RP guild going is the interplay of creativity between guild-mates.

Yes, a RP guild needs their Guild Leader and officers as coordinators, but if all of your stories rely on one person, they will burn out VERY quickly.

Encouraging player storylines is equally, if not more, important than coming up with them yourself. And guild stories can stagnate without multiple people working on them and moving them along – especially if they are in any way extended. Placing that responsibility entirely on the guild leader ensures burn out, as well as players quitting the guild when the guild leader has a bad idea, or runs out of ideas, or can’t sustain a story.

Basically, RP happens with the guild, not to the guild, and an RP guild that relies on a single person to come up with and coordinate all the RP will quickly either fizzle out or explode.

The book also doesn’t address (m)any of the specific issues that come up in RP guilds.

In fact, the only “Roleplaying Issues” mentioned are Erotic RP and Mary Sues – neither of which is usually guild-breaking. In fact, I’d say that at guild creation, either Erotic RP is allowed in guild chat, or it’s not, end of story, no more issues. Mary Sues are really only a problem if they’re negatively impacting the story or other players – which is a simple player to player conversation… but it straddles the IC/OOC boundary. Unfortunately, the book never mentions how to navigate the IC/OOC interaction balance, especially with regards to drama, nor does it go into the balance between in-game and forum-based RP, how to handle timelines, and how to handle patches, new lore, and other gameplay changes. These are issues that will come up in most RP guilds, especially those that want to work on group storylines and plots.

Also, the designations of “light, medium, and heavy” roleplay are pretty much obsolete in my experience. With the creation of player channels and the changes to in-game RP (at least in WoW), most RP guilds can’t be placed fully into any one of those categories, and it’s over-simplistic to try to set up a guild specifically as one or another. Most guilds are either just RP-friendly or have explicit RP rules and protocols that are explained to any new recruit. Those RP rules and protocols usually evolve organically out of the specific community.

As an example, the Wildfire Riders have IC only guild chat, plus a secondary, non-guild-restricted IC chat channel, but we also have an OOC chat channel, and you can find people participating in all three – sometimes simultaneously!

As Andrews admits that he’s never been part of a roleplaying guild, let alone leading one (only having done some occasional, very loosely roleplaying world events that were connected to PVP), these shortcomings aren’t surprising, but since RP is the focus of this blog, I think it’s important to note that there are definitely some things that a RP Guild Leader would want to know about that aren’t mentioned.

All that aside, would I recommend this book?

Absolutely, but not with any specifics towards RP guilds.

The Guild Leader’s Handbook is a solid introduction to guild leading and a good resource for anyone (RP or not) wanting to run a guild. A new guild leader, of whatever type, would do well to read The Guild Leader’s Handbook, and could glean a lot of information from it, hopefully avoiding some of the pitfalls of new guilds. While long-term guild leaders may already have picked up on some of the information, Andrews’ breakdowns, charts, and easy to read examples still provide useful “extra experience”, and having everything in one, easy-to-reference guide is quite helpful.

The Guild Leader’s Handbook is not, however, in any way RP specific, relegating RP Guild Leading to a poorly done half of a chapter – which is understandable given the content (the vast majority of guild leaders are not leading RP guilds), but ultimately not very helpful for a fledgling RP guild leader.

For most guild leaders, you’ll get the majority of information you need to get started from The Guild Leader’s Handbook. For RP guild leaders, it is a good stepping off point, but you’ll need either trial and error, experience, a mentor, or more information to get into the nitty-gritty of leading a group of roleplayers. While Andrews’ information is a very solid start, it won’t prepare a RP guild leader for the issues he or she is likely to face on top of the usual issues found in guild leading.

annas

Full Disclosure – I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, as a review copy. I am under no obligation to review it favorably, but I did promise a review in exchange for the book. (And I ought to probably apologize to Andrews and his editors, as I’ve had the book nearly a month now. Whoops!)

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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