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 …

A Few Bits of Business
comment Comments Off Written by on August 13, 2009 – 11:01 am

First – Thank you to everyone that has participated in the gender discussions. It’s been a really insightful bit of reading (and I’m sorry I was mostly afk for all of it, I’ll be going back to several comments in a later post I think – fantastic stuff there) and nearly everyone was civil and thoughtful.  You guys are awesome.

Second (and less awesome) is that I’m… more or less jobless at the moment. I’m still waiting on the last bit of info about it, but I’m full time in the job search now. It’s not a horrible situation, but it will put a kink in things. 

Third – I’m having a bit of technical difficulty with a few parts of the site lately. Apologies! I’m working on figuring out why random things are disappearing when the code for them is still intact and unchanged. Hopefully I’ll have things back to normal later today – fortunately the actual site function and layout aren’t affected!

XX and XY in RP
comment 47 Written by on August 11, 2009 – 10:31 am

So I occasionally get to talk to fun people about RP because I write this blog.  Some of them also write blogs too, which is double awesome.  Yesterday was one of those occasions, and I was talking to Badger, who mentioned that he was finally getting to where he felt comfortable RPing female characters.  (Badger apologizes for the technical difficulties on his site right now, but I wanted to provide a link anyway!)

If you check out my character list, you’ll notice that all of them are female.

I am, in fact, female, in real life (OMG A GIRL ON THE INTERNET). And though I have several male characters rattling around in my head, I’ve never been able to RP one convincingly enough for my own satisfaction.  This is, of course, my own personal failing, but it did start off an interesting conversation.

You see, at this point, Badger replied:

“It’s odd, isn’t it, that playing something like a Troll or a Night Elf is second nature, but playing a Generic Dude is hard”

He’s right, of course – it can be hard for some of us to RP as members of the opposite sex (though fortunately not all of us have this trouble!).  But it got me to thinking.

And I think what makes this hard is that “gender” is a preconceived idea that exists outside of game.

Whether or not “gender” is correct, biological, chosen, culturally shaped, or whatever, gender exists in the real world. Night Elves, however, do not.

Night Elven culture is defined only by a loose set of history and ideas we call “Lore” and which can change at any time. Even the human cultures, in game, are mishmashes of real cultures and fictional ideas, things we can “assume” with little trouble.  It’s easy to pretend to be a Troll, because there are only a very few things that define what a “Troll” is – and those things are very flexible.  Lore is, after all, a set of guidelines and frameworks within which we create our characters – and those guidelines can change any time, given the whims of one Chris Metzen and the lore team.

Real life gender may still only be a culturally defined set of guidelines (and I say culturally defined since gender stereotypes change radically across the world stage) – but they’re things we deal with on an every day basis. And we are, in a sense, programmed to have those identities and expectations (and, unfortunately, to look poorly upon those who don’t comply with our pre-existing gender ideas).

If you look at the backlash received by people that do not fit into the gender they appear to have, or do not fit into any easily identified gender at all, you can see where this problem lies.  Our culture – particularly in the “Western World” expects male humans to fit into one pattern and female humans to fit into another.  In the absence of defined gender roles in game, we then transport those assumptions wholecloth (more or less) into Azeroth – along with all of the nastiness that comes when our preconceived ideas are challenged or questioned.

And of course, this doesn’t even begin to look at the gender equality, patriarchal monarchies, magic ruled societies, and how “gender” ends up getting expressed as a game mechanic.

So why is it that one is easier than the other (at least for me)? What makes assuming one thing less hard than assuming another?

It comes down to playing pretend.

Night elves, Dwarves, Trolls, Orcs – they are pretend.  Fiction. Imaginary ideas of cultures in which we can all play imagination together, and even if those imaginary ideas are similar to other imaginary ideas in other stories and games, they’re still in the realm of pretend.  I can take on the role of a Troll, and fit it into a character concept, because what I make “Troll” out to be is just as right (as long as it’s within the framework) as anything else.

Gender, on the other hand, is something that comes from outside of game, so it comes with a lot of excess “baggage” – baggage that, for me, makes it more difficult to be satisfied with RPing male characters than I can be with the various female characters I’m already working on.

So what about you guys – do you RP across the so-called gender lines?  Pick one and stick to it? And what about playing a female to male or male to female gender swap using the Blizzard account modification transmogrifier?

3.2, Mana Regen, and You (the Paladin)
comment 11 Written by on August 10, 2009 – 9:48 am

So we knew it was coming.  We talked about specs, about regearing, about what it would mean.

And then it came.  And it didn’t pull any punches.

3.2 is here, and the Paladin regen nerfs are live, and they’re… kinda nasty.  Some of the changes are nice – though I /still/ don’t find Beacon of Light to be a good “group healing” spell.  I do, however, find the 60 yard radius to be the best change on it BY FAR, since it allows me to ping off both tanks as needed, especially since I run with another Holy Paladin (Hi Pry!) in our 25 man, so we can each beacon a tank and then support each other.

The Sacred Shield/FoL heal over time is… well… a clusterfuck of stupid. But that’s another post, since I’d like to address the mana changes specifically here today – not just what they are, but what you can do about it.

The Ol’ Mana Pool She’ Ain’t What She Used To Be
(you can all sing along now, and you’re welcome for getting that stuck in your head)

The Changes:

  1. Replenishment is diminished
  2. Your overall mana pool is diminished by 5% due to Divine Intellect talent changes
  3. Your regen from Illumination is diminished by half (60% return to 30% return)
  4. Your mp/5 totals are up 25% from “small” to “not quite as small as they were”.  This “buff” is an itemization change, not a change to your regen.

In short, you have less mana, you have less regen, and replenishment (though diminished) is even more important.  Intellect is still your primary stat, since that’s still where Replenishment and Divine Plea derive their regen from, but the days of stacking gobs of crit are likely gone, since 30% return is, quite honestly, piddly and ridiculous.

Over the last week of raiding, I’ve received the majority of my regen from Divine Plea and Replenishment – Illumination is less than half the regen of EITHER of those, and mp/5 is half of what Illumination returns.

This means any healing done without replenishment is… verging on not being feasible, and that 10 man healing (in general) is even more rough on your longevity than it used to be. 25 man healing was less scary, but fights that require lots of burst healing were particularly bad (XT Heartbreaker, Hodir, Mimiron, Northrend Beasts)

What you can do about it:

  • Lay off the Holy Lights. Changing my cast frequency on Holy Light vs. Flash of Light from 1:1 to 1:2 helped a lot. The beacon change (which allows total healing and not just effective healing) helps with this as well.  However, be aware that you can NOT cast Flash of Light constantly and expect either to keep your tank up or to not run out of mana.  Things are so reduced that even FoL spam will put you OOM now – with the added bonus of tank death to go with it.
  • If you’re using a 51/17 +3 spec rather than a 51/5/15 or 51/0/20 spec, only use Holy Shock when you absolutely have to.  The crits won’t return as much mana, it won’t crit as often anyway, and it will be hugely more expensive than you’re used to.  With the bubble spec, this spell is for emergencies, not for regular healing rotations anymore.
  • Divine Illumination is your friend.  Use it often. I’ve got Power Auras to tell me when it’s off cooldown now, just so that I remember to use it as frequently as I can.  (Divine Illumination – 40 points in Holy Tree)
  • Remember Divine Plea. Use it often. I’m using it on almost every cooldown, with an attempt to coordinate it with Greatness procs (Darkmoon Card: Greatness is still That Good.  Really.  You should get one) and Avenging Wrath. If things are looking bad and you still need the Divine Plea, and Avenging Wrath is on cooldown, remember you can use Hand of Sacrifice to reduce incoming damage while your healing is decreased (though you may want to bubble yourself, or Beacon the tank and heal yourself through it).
  • Try Potions of Nightmares instead of the usual Mana Potions.  Many of the worst fights are designed with breaks between phases, bosses, or sections where you can take 6 seconds out of the fight to drink a Nightmare Potion.  They return more mana, though they still do consume your potion cooldown for the fight.  Using one in coordination with Divine Plea is even better. (Potion of Nightmares)
  • Flasks of Pure Mojo are not going to kill your throughput.  I’ve been swapping back and forth between these and Frostwyrm Flasks (Aely is an Alchemist, so I can do this). Give it a try, it can help.
  • Glyph of Divinity is your friend.  Use it often – and treat it as much like a free mana potion (that you can use once per fight most of the time) as you would like a tank-saving maneuver. I coordinate my Lay on Hands with other healers, to the point where if one of them is really at low mana, I’ll have them stand in fire for a tick to let LoH hit, and enjoy both of us getting a little extra mana. It’s not ideal, but it works.
  • Innervates are now on a 3 minute cooldown and are not Spirit based. This requires a Druid that’s paying attention and doesn’t have to use the Innervates themself all the time (moonkins), but when the boss still has 20% health left, you’ve blown every other cooldown you have, and you’re breathing fumes at the bottom of your  mana pool, this is definitely a good option.

None of this will bring your mana back to what we were used to – and in a lot of cases, these are last ditch measures. There are fights now where my tank is living Divine Plea to Divine Plea, with a bit of luck and judicious uses of Hand of Sacrifice to make up for my lack of healing while using it.

Is it fun?  Well, not really.  Sometimes it’s nice to be forced into this kind of creativity, but a lot of the really rough fights aren’t forgiving enough for me to WANT to be creative.  I just want to heal my tank and be done with it, thanks.

But unless things get changed back again (which I doubt, since the majority of this is PVP related, and (historically) complaints /against/ paladins tend to get a lot more attention than complaints /by/ paladins), this is what we all have to get used to.

So bust out the creative braincells – whether we have the mana or not, the tanks are still getting pounded, so we’ve gotta manage it somehow!

A Midsummer Night’s RP – First Place Winner!
comment 5 Written by on August 7, 2009 – 12:55 pm

Well, it’s Friday, which means it’s the last day of our Week of Winners! Througout this week we’ve highlighted our honorable mentions and runners up for the Midsummer Night’s RP Writing Contest sponsored by Too Many Annas, WTT:RP, and LoreCrafted.  As I’m sure you’ve all been waiting eagerly, we’re pleased to formally announce that we’ll be revealing the first place winner tomorrow!

…what?

Oh, all right, just kidding!

This final entry just edged out our second place winner, taking first by a sliver of votes from our judges. All of the ones chosen (and many not chosen!) were quite well done, but in the end a winner had to be picked.

Without further adieu, delay, stalling, or other ways to keep you from skipping past this text and to the next line, I gladly present to you the grand prize winner of the Midsummer’s Night RP Writing Contest:

The Chill written by Femmlin of Wyrmrest Accord, based on the quest “The Chill of Death” in Tirisfal Glades.

Femmlin, you will receive a copy of Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, a WoW Gamecard, the original World of Warcraft Soundtrack CD, and the original WoW Behind the Scenes DVD for crafting this wonderful little story. Toss us an email at midsummerwriting@gmail.com and we’ll happily contact you with regards to the contents of your loot.

We’d also like to sincerely thank everyone who participated. It was great having a chance to read through these entries, and the efforts of all our entrants are greatly appreciated.

*bows*

And for now we conclude our Midsummer Night’s RP Writing Contest festivities! Perhaps one day in the future we’ll have another chance for writers and RPers alike to showcase their talents, yes? Keep rolling those characters, keep those emotes emotes fresh, and keep the RP hearth warm!

The Chill

The woman was severely afflicted. Femmlin could see that.

Not literally, of course. It was only due to the duel receivers inside her specially-constructed Echolocation Goggles that she could see anything at all: the device sent out high pitched pulses and then translated it into a portrait for her. She had lost her sight well after reawakening, and no magic could return it to her.

The goggles made the scene before her even more eerie. They bathed the room in the deep blue of twilight, and the slight lag between pulses made the details of the room materialize, fade, then materialize again.

The thin, wraith-like woman in the middle of the room revolved towards Femmlin. Her face was long and forlorn, surrounded by long scraggly hair that clung to her cheeks. When she opened her mouth she looked like a woman drowning – drowning in the ocean of blue light.

“My name,” said the woman, “is Gretchen Dedmar.” She offered a grim smile. “You must be able to see that the Plague of Undeath crawls through my veins like an icy serpent. The Mindless State will be upon me soon.”

As if in confirmation, Gretchen was racked by a series of spasms. She set her jaw against them, but they were determined to prevail; she trembled and jerked before Femmlin like a hooked fish, mouth agape in a small ‘O’ of terror.

Femmlin’s goggles took still shots of each moment, an unrelenting machine.

Even as the device forced her to watch, her mind was pulling away. It took flight from the present events in the tavern and submerged her into the memories of a few months past.

The zombie lurched towards her, arms raised longingly as if for an embrace. As it shambled closer with its halting gait, Femmlin couldn’t avoid the creature’s fixed gaze. She steeled herself, staring into the cavernous blackness of its mouth – first a tiny dot, slowly growing into a large yawning pit.

As the pitiful creature came into range, she sunk her daggers into its flesh. She brought her leg high and pressed her foot against the creature’s chest.

The flesh was cold. Animated, but cold.

She kicked with all her strength, twisting the daggers brutally. The creature fell, and did not rise again. She sighed heavily – out of relief or exertion, she did not know.

“What is the matter?”

She whirled. Facing her was one of her own kind – a Forsaken, but obviously more powerful than she. He wore the elaborate, finely detailed robes of an Archmage, and cold gusts swirled around him. He had been watching her from a distance – appraising her skills, she realized.

Yet even in the presence of such power, Femmlin could not forget the corpse at her feet.

“These things… they are not alive?”

The Archmage examined her for a long moment. The wind whistled through Deathknell, temporarily blotting out the groans of the mindless ones and the shuffle of their feet. She knew he understood everything, presumably having gone through it himself. The rise from the Shadow Grave. The disorientation. The questions. The same questions, for all of them.

He gave what passed for a smile. “No. Not at all.”

A cold hand reached out and grabbed Femmlin, snapping her out of reverie. It was Gretchen, peering at her with doleful luminescent orbs.

“But no doomed destiny will prevent me from serving our Dark Lady,” Gretchen continued, her grip tightening. Her bony fingers were starting to cut into Femmlin’s flesh. “When the call arose I sewed body bags for the fallen soldiers of Sylvanas’s mighty army.”

She laughed bitterly and held up the hand she had been clutching with. It shook like a frightened rat. “Now my hands shake from the chill…” There was a drawn out pause as Gretchen fought back the spasms, and won. “If you would bring me five Duskbat Pelts and some Coarse Thread I could sew myself a blanket.”

Gretchen held out both her arms in supplication. She looked, Femmlin thought, like a mother begging to hold her child.

“Help me, Femmlin, so that I can continue to serve the cause.”

Femmlin nodded. As if undone by relief, Gretchen sank into the bed beneath her.

Morosely, even as she turned to leave the cursed woman, she found herself wondering how much of Gretchen would be left when she returned. Could Gretchen hold out against the ravages of the undead plague? Would she still be alive, aware of her own spirit?

The words of the Archmage haunted her, as chilling and cold as the aura he had been surrounded by:

No. Not at all.

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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