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?
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)
- Replenishment is diminished
- Your overall mana pool is diminished by 5% due to Divine Intellect talent changes
- Your regen from Illumination is diminished by half (60% return to 30% return)
- 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!
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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 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.
August 6, 2009 – 2:53 pm
WTT:RP, Too Many Annas and Lorecrafted are pleased to present the second place winner in our Midsummer Night’s RP contest. Congratulations to Athorius of Feathermoon server for her entry You Can’t Go Home. It was one of our most solemn pieces, for certain, and though all of our entries were well written, the poignancy of this one really struck a chord with our judges.
And without further ado:
You Can’t Go Home
“I’m sorry I’m late.” It was scary how easily those familiar words rolled off his tongue, Athorius thought, as he swung off his elekk onto the Auberdine road.
Seffani apparently thought so too, because she frowned and shifted Kaelis on her hip. The girl was at that awkward stage where she was really too big to carry, but it was still inconvenient to have her walk. However, any comment she might have made was forestalled when Kaelis let out a shriek and held out her arms to him for a hug. He rubbed his nose against hers, making her giggle, and he was painfully aware of how much he had missed that sound, even the sticky feel of her fingers clinging to his neck. There were decorative twists of gold, and orange ribbon tied into her hair, festival finery, and he cringed at how badly they clashed with her green hair.
“I made you something!” she announced proudly, and plopped a snaggled chain of fire blossoms on his head. He couldn’t help but laugh; now he clashed as badly as she did, and he hugged her again.
After a few moments he set her on the ground, keeping hold of her tiny hands, and looked up at Seffani. “I’m sorry.”
“You always are,” she said, tartly, but accurately. “What was it this time? Urgent Circle business in some godforsaken human land?”
When last he’d been home he’d still had good standing in the druidic order, but that visit had changed everything, but she had no reason to believe it. Instead, he said, evenly, “My ship from Northrend was delayed and I was forced to take the moonpath to Kalimdor. I don’t need to tell you how much caution that requires in these days.”
He did not mention the Nightmare by name, not in front of Kaelis, but Seffani understood his meaning and simply sighed. The Midsummer Fire Festival festivities swirled around them, a scent of woodsmoke and dumplings.
Then Kaelis looked up and informed him, with happy innocence, “Mommy was late too.”
Seffani flushed. Kaelis continued, “The wind was bad. Flotsam had to work against it.” The daughter of a fishing village to the north, Kaelis was familiar with the sea and the workings of the boat of living wood Athorius had woken as a gift to her mother, long ago.
“That’s alright. We’re all here now, and that’s all that matters,” he elected to reply, a peace offering, smiling down at his daughter and then at her mother. Seffani, too, was dressed in bright summer colors, but she could make anything look good. A few strands of that hair had fallen over one of her eyes, like always, and he had to stop himself reaching up and tucking it behind her ear.
He wasn’t sure why he found himself longing for some kind of connection so badly on this particular day. The only thing remaining between them was this little girl whose warm, candy-coated hands were tucked into his own. He wanted to reach out to her, to tell her my mother is dead, my father is gone, please understand this is all I have left. But he didn’t. They had loved each other, and they had been utterly unable to live with each other, and it was awful. There was nothing left to say.
Then she said those words he had been expecting but shrinking from, a blow he saw coming. “You and Kaelis should have some time together, and I was hoping to meet Sadaron, so…”
“Of course,” he heard himself say.
He felt his mouth stretch into a smile. He did not ask if she was with him that night the dead came north up the shore, if that was why Seffani had not been with her daughter. He never had. She never said. But it flickered for an instant between them, a dark shadow subject that would always linger but never be broached.
Instead, he added, “Have a good time.”
A smile lit her face briefly, sad and sweet. Almost as if she was feeling the same mix of bittersweet and angry nostalgia, she swiftly kissed his cheek, and then she disappeared into the crowd. He watched after her for a long moment, then a tug on his arm redirected his attention.
“Can we go watch the fireworks?” Kaelis asked, hopefully.
He felt a genuine grin on his face at last. “Of course. Do you want to walk or take Mou?”
“Mou!” she decided instantly. He swung them both up onto the elekk’s broad back and they rode slowly down to the dock, meandering slowly through the throngs. As they approached the beach, Athorius swerved off to the side, drawing a complaint from Kaelis.
He climbed off Mou and then set her down. “We need to honor the flames first, then we’ll go see the fireworks.”
“Why?” she asked plaintively.
He handed her a handful of blossoms to throw into the large bonfire. “The solstice marks the turning of the year, as spring reaches its height and the world moves again towards winter. That’s why we burn the flowers. Their time is almost over for this year- we mourn them, and we look forward to the harvest in the fall.”
She frowned a moment, thinking about it. “Are there flowers in North-end?”
“Northrend. And yes, there are- very beautiful ones in some parts.”
Kaelis tilted her head back, her big eyes full of worry. “Is Arthas going to burn them up too?”
That night, when the scourge invaded Auberdine, when he learned a boat got away and sailed north, Athorius rode Mou into the ground, only to find nearly all his fears confirmed. Somehow, the fishermen had managed to contain and repel the attack. Kaelis had seen things no child should ever see. Trying to explain it, he had told her that a bad man was using magic to create a deadly disease- but he had also stressed that lots of good people were working very hard to stop him.
She still had nightmares.
Not knowing what else to do, Athorius knelt down and held her tight. “No. We would never let him do that.” He was aware it wasn’t enough. He wasn’t sure anything would be.
Kaelis was still for a long moment, but at last she did toss her flowers into the flames, and then asked, hopefully, “Fireworks?”
They walked down to the beach and sat down, Athorius trying not to wince as his for-once clean leather clothes settled on the wet sand. They waited in the dark for the show.
He looked at the little girl sitting on his lap, and felt uneasy. Athorius meant what he said. The scourge army must be stopped; he had realized the importance immediately. He defied direct orders from his superiors in the Cenarion Circle to travel to Northrend and lend what aid he could. One day, Arthas and his armies would fall.
But what if that day lay ten, twenty, fifty years from now? What if the taste of putrid flesh, the feel of it in his fangs, never left his mouth? What if the screams in the halls of Naxxramas never left his ears? What if after every battle he fought he lost a little more of what made him different from them?
What if the village was attacked again, and he was not there?
Kaelis cried out suddenly, startling him out of his thoughts, and she laughed as the bright colors of the fireworks washed over them.
He held his daughter a little tighter and wondered, not for the first time, if he was fighting for a better world to live in, or merely one worth leaving behind.
Congratulations Athorius, you have looted a chest containing Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, The Sunwell Trilogy, The War of the Ancients Trilogy, and a WoW TCG Loot Card. Please email the loot master at midsummerwriting at gmail dot com with your regular mailing address to claim your prize!
Remember to check back tomorrow to read the winning entry in our writing contest!!
September 8, 2015 – 9:51 pm
It didn’t take long to get from Thunder Bluff to the Echo Isles – Ankona took advantage of a wyvern so she could think and plan before getting to her destination. She had information to confirm with the spirits – …
August 4, 2015 – 12:22 pm
An old story, reposted here as I’m shaking the mothballs off Ankona and needed an easy way to show people a little bit about the (batshit) things she gets up to. Enjoy, and don’t be too creeped out!
It really …
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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 …
November 11, 2014 – 3:09 pm
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October 24, 2014 – 12:01 pm
Squire Benjamin William Sullivan stood in the middle of Light’s Hope Chapel in his underpants.
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June 29, 2014 – 4:39 pm
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November 19, 2013 – 4:46 pm
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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 …