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 …

Over a Barrel of Ale
comment 1 Written by on February 26, 2010 – 5:49 pm

Written for Marty’s “Shakedown or Drop” fic prompt at WTT:RP. It’s been awhile since I got to write about Annie Mae, and this was a hoot to work on. It was written by hand while on various airplanes and in various airports this week. I hope you guys enjoy it!

An old, weather-beaten hat sat on one of the barrels.

Adrian Gruber paid it no heed as he watched the Dwarven woman stack the rest of the shipment of assorted spirits. Dark dwarven beers, tasty wheat ales and spicy winter lager, a cask of hard cider straight out of the Hinterlands, and even a cask of Loch Modan’s finest single malt. Two small barrels of an experimental spirit – something called Molasses Firewater – rounded out the order. A project from the Dwarves living in the Wetlands, it was distilled from cane sugar molasses, and it kicked. Hard.

Gruber made a show of checking each cask off his list.

“An’ that’s th’ lot fer yeh!” A warm voice rang out from inside the shipping warehouse. “Now, yeh said ye have the receipt, Reese? No’ that I dinna trust ye, ‘course, jus’ need t’ be sure I dinna ferget anythin’.”

“I… uh.  Right here, ma’am. Signed by the Missus Bittertongue her very self.”

“Och, aye? How’s th’ littlest Bittertongue then?”

“Hmm? Oh he’s just swell, ma’am. Didn’t get the bout of wasting sickness or nothin’!”

Nairi Stonemark peered at the man rummaging in his bag for a liquor order receipt. Up close, he really didn’t look all that much like Reese. In fact, he didn’t talk all that much like Reese either. And the wagon was free of any insignia or signage, not to mention that it was completely empty.

“Yeh no’ done yer normal rounds yet, Reese?” Distrust dripped from her voice as she stood, rather protectively, between the wagon and the stack of barrels.

“I.. uh… no ma’am. I woke up late, ya see, and… uh … with this fog, and then… you’re the most important stop on the rounds.”

Her hands settled on her hips.

“Righ’. Let me see that receipt up close then… Reese.”

Gruber handed it over and waited in the chilly, foggy damp. The forgery was, he thought, pretty darn good. The stamps were well crafted, and the signature was spot on. It was pretty much an exact copy of a shipping order he’d lifted from last year’s records at the wharf, with only the amounts and liquor types adjusted. She ticked off each measure accordingly, double checking it against the stacks of barrels behind her.

And then, as she reached the very bottom, her eyebrows suddenly migrated towards her hairline.

“Everything’s in order then, right ma’am?”

Nairi opened her mouth and then shut it again, as though unsure what to say. Silence hung over the foggy morning; the barrel wearing a hat made a very faint, barely perceptible clicking noise.

Then, in the process of a handful of seconds, the entire morning shifted gears. Reese Langston drove up out of the fog – the large, woodburned P&W sign clear on the side of his wagon. Nairi lunged at Gruber at the same time as he pulled a knife, flailing wildly as he tried to avoid her grasp. She hissed as his knife sliced through her forearm.

A single gunshot rang out – a thin whisp of smoke rising from behind the barrel. Gruber fell, clutching his shoulder, his hat rolling away into the grass.

Reese climbed down out of the wagon in time to grab Nairi and pull her behind it, eyes wide as he sought the source of the bullet.

The hat moved.

Annie Mae crammed it down on her had as she climbed over the barrel and came to stand over Gruber.

“Think yer real bright, aint’cha? Not above forgin’ receipts an’ liftin’ booze already paid fer? An’ then attackin’ th’ woman responsible fer assurin’ it’s safety?”

He stared up past the barrel of her rifle and into unblinking green eyes and didn’t bother to respond.

“‘Bout what I figgered. Ya’ll ain’t worth much when a body catches on.” Annie stepped firmly on the knife that he’d dropped. “You got a good reason I ain’t gonna fire a sister shot right inta yer skull?”

Gruber stammered.

“Right. You don’t get th’ hell outta here pretty damn quick, the fact that yer still here’s gonna be reason enough.” She gave him a swift kick in the ribs, hard enough to get him moving. “Now GIT.”

He got, leaving his knife and hat behind.

Slipping the safety back on her rifle, Annie strapped it between her shoulder blades. She grinned at Nairi. “Sorry ta make ya wait, ma’am. Needed to be sure he’s the squeak. Yer arm’s alright, then?”

Nairi managed a return grin. “Och, aye. Nae much a scratch t’ worrit oan. Guessin’ yer th’ lass th’ Fox mentioned I ought t’ watch out fer, ‘case th’ shipment tried t’ get pinched?”

“Yep, that’s me. Annie Mae, and nothin’ but a pleasure ta meetcha.” She tipped her hat.

“Nairi Stonemark, at yer service!”

Reese finally got past the insanity that had so rudely invaded his morning to speak up from somewhere behind his wagon. “What the HELL just happened?”

“Sevens.” Annie spat. “Tryin’ ta make off with yer hard earned booze.”

“Done a fair forgery of shippin’ receipts too – ‘cept I’m a mechanostrider’s aunt if Tarquin’s still stampin’ yer shippin’ receipts his own self. Lately’s just been th’ Al’Cair lass.” Nairi handed Reese the forged document. He took it, blinking at it as though it might bite him. She wrapped a bit of cloth around her arm and moved to start loading up the barrels into the Pig and Whistle’s wagon.

Annie nodded and gave a sharp two-note whistle. From behind the warehouse came a short, well muscled Paint horse. “Good ta see ya ain’t too spooked, huh Meggsie?” After picking up the discarded hat and knife, she gave the horse a quick nose rub before clambering up into the saddle. “Meggsie” snickered softly.

“That’s sorted then.  If ya ain’t needin’ nothin’ more, I’ll be off. An’ Ill tell that ol’ Fox we got his hen house all nice and safe again.”

She tipped her hat and rode off into the fog, hoof beats echoing long after she was out of sight.

Temporary Hiatus
comment Comments Off Written by on February 26, 2010 – 12:25 pm

Sorry for the silence – I’ve been out of town (and getting to meet Arrens! woo!).  Regular blogging will resume Monday!

Off Limits: Blizzard NPC’s in Roleplay
comment 2 Written by on February 23, 2010 – 6:38 am

Not every roleplay situation or interaction will be entirely player driven.

World events, faction leaders, holidays, and quests are all potential roleplay sparks. But given the “whole world” aspect of such events and characters, there are some things that you’ll want to avoid when you’re picking up that kind of roleplay though, usually where it starts to impact things that are out of your character’s control.

(There’s been a lot said about claiming relationships with NPC’s in your backstory, so I’m going to leave that part alone.)

Say you want to write a story set in Icecrown, about the Argent Crusade. It’s possible that Tirion Fordring might make an appearance in your fic somewhere – after all, he is the leader of the Argent Crusade. If you hang around there long enough, you just might see him! And, since he’s a charismatic leader, it’s not out of the question that your character might drop him a salute and have him smile and salute back, or say something encouraging. Tirion’s a nice guy, you know. Even if he is a badass too.

Where you run into trouble is if your story forces weakness on Tirion Fordring without his or Blizzard’s “consent.” If your character is a disillusioned old soldier and hates Tirion, and they charge into the Argent camp like a madman screaming challenges for a duel – which he accepts and then your character beats him soundly and injures him? That pushes the envelope too far, for a number of reasons. Tirion’s essentially a faction leader. He’s got guards. Someone running in screaming like a madman would be forcibly removed as a threat to his safety not allowed to run loose, let alone allowed to challenge him in a duel. And then to assume that your character is such a badass that they would beat him up and win?

There are a number of problems with this, not just in that you’re kind of pulling a “I beat up a lore character so I’m awesome”.

Those NPCs are there for everyone; Blizzard writes them, and all of our characters interact them. If your story backs one of those NPCs in a corner and forces some form of action/response/whatever on them or their organization, that story is now influencing the RP that everyone else has, and creating a situation that will cause conflict for every new RPer you encounter. If you have to explain to every single character that you run into that “No, Sylvanas really isn’t the leader of the Forsaken anymore. That guy Jimbob over there killed her last year,” you’re probably doing it wrong.

What’s the solution then, if you need a fall guy?

Write your own.

An NPC that you create or make up has no such complications. People write up, characterize, and then kill off/torture/do horrible things to their own personal NPC’s all the time. The difference is that YOU create these characters, and ultimately control them. They have no bearing on other players.

Once you start creating NPCs, it becomes kind of addicting! You’ll want to keep a list of who you’ve created (and who’s been killed off). That’ll help you manage where NPCs are at any given time, and help you remember which is truly a badass NPC and which is just a foil or a fall guy for someone else.

Blizzard creates and controls their own NPCs, and as such, you can’t just up and kill them. Or take their place. Or beat them into a bloody pulp and make them unable to do their jobs. How does this actively affect your RP?

Let’s take an example from my own RP:

Bryan and Elizabeth Cross, the proprietors of The Silver Shield in Old Town.

The Silver Shield – as a shop – exists. Bryan Cross is a Blizzard controlled and written NPC as a sheildmaker and blacksmith. Aely rents an apartment underneath their shop. If something were to happen in that shop, Bryan Cross couldn’t be harmed in a way that would make him unable to do his job… because he’s still there in Stormwind. I couldn’t kill him, or cut off his arm. (And I especially couldn’t get mad when someone else brought up that Bryan Cross was standing in his shop selling shields, because OMG I KILLED HIM NO HE’S NOT.) When I write things about Bryan Cross, he’s doing blacksmithy or shieldmakery things – or he’s being a responsible shopkeeper that’s looking out for his and his family’s interests.

His wife, on the other hand, is entirely fictional. Elizabeth Cross exists only in my RP and in the RP of people that choose to use her in their stories. If something terrible came of Elizabeth Cross, it wouldn’t affect other players at all. Should a story demand it, she is, essentially, disposable – not that I’d ever want to get rid of her. I rather like Bess Cross.

But anyway, I think that illustrates the point pretty well.

It all basically boils down to this: Blizzard NPC’s doing relatively ambiguous things consistent with their roles as NPC’s are fine in roleplay.

Matthias Shaw is a sneaky bastard without a lot of scruples – having him do sneaky scruple-less bastard things in a fic is pretty consistent (though it’d probably make more sense to make up a henchman of his). Varian Wrynn has a temper when it comes to Orcs. Thrall ultimately seeks peace for Azeroth. When you take NPC’s out of those roles and force them into your story (particularly as a way to increase your character’s Absolute Badass Value), you start to get into the realm of lorebreaking.

So use Blizzard’s NPCs wisely. They’re there as “untouchable” leaders for a reason; they’re the consistent thread that holds this world together. Taking them out, putting them down, and reducing their influence isn’t a particularly good way to get your point across, because it forces your story to be accepted (or rejected) by other players.

Write your own NPCs instead! And always be aware of the laws of Absolute Badass Value (if you’ve not read that post, you really should). Your fellow RPers will thank you!

annas

She Said Yes
comment 6 Written by on February 22, 2010 – 9:27 am

An unseasonably warm day in Hillsbrad provided Aely and Arrens yet another afternoon sitting on the bluffs above the coast. The sun shone brightly, and they’d brought a picnic with them, sitting and talking and enjoying the warm air. As the sun started to set, however, thick grey clouds rolled in and the wind picked up. The air took on a vaguely oppressive feel, and though the sunset colored the clouds with gorgeous streaks of amber and pink, rain was definitely on the way.

Neither Aely nor Arrens moved from their spot on the bluffs. Arrens’ proposal the night before – at that very spot, in fact – kept Aely’s mind busy, and their discussion rarely wandered far from the topic at hand.

“Can I admit t’ ye sommat no’ particularly grown up, nor much like me?”

Arrens raised an eyebrow. “You can tell me anything, my love, you know that. What bothers you?”

She sighed. “‘m worrit wha’ folk will say ’bout all this. ‘s too quick. ‘s too soon after yir injuries. ‘s impulsive an’ no’ thought through.”

Arrens nodded seriously; he paused for a moment in thought before responding. “Perhaps it is. Perhaps we’ll realize at some point that this was all a great big mistake and we were two fools that rushed headlong into something we weren’t ready for.” He paused a moment before continuing. “Or perhaps we’ll one day realize we were two lonely people looking for love and we got lucky…with each other, when we both needed it most.” He brought her hand to his lips and kissed her fingertips gently. “I may not know the outcome, my love, but I do know this: If we /do/ find out we’re wrong, I’m uncertain I’d ever care to be right again.”

Aely listened, thinking. “If… ” She trailed off. After a moment Arrens leaned over, kissing her gently on the cheek. “You’re overthinking it again, my love.”

She nodded. “I… yeh. I am. An’ I shouldn’t. ‘m overthinkin’ th’ best thing’s e’er happened t’ me.”

Canna ye trust ‘im? Canna ye trust yirself?

Aely sighed, leaning against his shoulder. “Love, I dinna ken wha’s like t’ happen. I’ve…” A bright, searing crack of lightning, followed almost immediately by heavy thunder interrupted her. Before either of them could react, the rains came – fat, heavy drops splattering all around them. Arrens laughed, shaking his head as the rain dripped into his eyes. She ducked out of the way of his ponytail, taking the opportunity to grab their makeshift tablecloth and pull it around their shoulders.

“Shall we take this as a sign that the Gods want us to head back?”

“I… no’ jus’ yet. I’ve go’ th’ courage up t’ talk t’ ye now, an’ I dinna wan’ t’ interrupt.”

Ye ken he’ll wait oan ye, as long as ye need.

Aye, an’ I dinna wan’ t’ wait oan it. I’m tired ay lettin’ one fuckin’ idiot ruin my ability t’ be in love an’ make decisions.

He wrapped his arm around her, pulling her tightly in next to him. The rain slowly picked up, punctuated by occasional thunder.

Jus’ tell ‘im. Give ‘im th’ answer ye’ve wanted t’ give since yesterday. Th’ answer e’en Bricu can see ye wan’ t’ give.

With a deep breath, Aely pushed herself back slightly, looking straight at him. “I canna tell th’ future. Canna e’en tell it’s going t’ open up an’ rain.”

Arrens simply looked up towards the heavens and grinned.

“Love, I… when th’ fear ay bein’ wrong is so o’ershadowed by th’ fear ay bein’ wi’out ye? When there’s no’ anythin’ I’d like more than t’ sit in th’ rain outside wi’ ye?” She paused, tears welling up behind fair red eyelashes. “I… yes.”

Arrens blinked. “… yes?!”

“Yeh. Yes.”

Arrens’ eyes went wide and his jaw dropped. The stunned look remained a moment more before his lips parted into the biggest grin Aely had ever seen on him. He stood and shouted, “YES!” hoping his words…her words…would carry far south, all the way to Stormwind, to be shared with their adopted family and friends. Aely laughed at the obvious joy he openly showed, a look much different than a mere two days prior from the hurt man she cared so much for.

Arrens reached down into his bag and pulled out his buzzbox, the soft static indicating it was yet on and operable even in the downpour around them. Pressing the button to transmit on the open communication channel, he shouted once more. “Yes!” Turning the buzzbox off and setting it into his bag, he laughed and danced around as Aely’s warm laughter egged him on.

At last, Arrens sat down behind her, pulling her back against him, kissing her deeply. Raindrops fell against her face, disguising the tears, and she kissed him back, fear and worry melting into warm nothingness. He whispered against her lips, “I love you.”

Another peal of thunder and the rain began in earnest, interrupting the string of kisses. Arrens grinned. “Shall we head back then? I believe I’ve a promise to keep about this evening.”

She laughed. “I’d like tha’. ‘sides, wir both gonna need t’ change clothes anyway.” Water finally soaked through his shirt, and she could see the bandages on his arm. “Ligh’ – yeh, we need t’ get ye inside. Tha’ wound needs t’ stay dry, so it dinna get infected.”

Taking Aely’s hands in his, Arrens pulled her to standing, wrapping his arms around her waist and spinning her around. “I’m sorry, my love.”

Aely laughed. “Why’re ye sorry?”

“For acting a fool in light of what you’ve just told me.”

“Why’d ye be sorry f’r tha’?!”

“Because I love you. Because I don’t want to be without you again. Because you’ve made me the happiest fool in all of Azeroth.” He rattled off a long list of reasons, stopping only occasionally to take a breath.

She interrupted him, kissing him soundly. “Shush. It dinna matter. Any of it. This ‘s all wha’ matters. I love ye.”

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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