Backhand.

I am smiling wryly this morning: talking to a guildmate last night about this and that, and I mention that I would like to try to obtain shoulder and helm upgrades.  I talked another guildmate, who has some time on his hands because girlfriend is off on a mission right now, into setting up some raids. In my opinion, or rather, it is my desire, to do those raids that have been nerfed, with my guild, because, well, I like them. I don’t want to go to these places in PUGs. (Which leads me to my concerns about LFR…but, like all great PUGs, I’m sure it’ll be fine, just FINE, what can go wrong? Smells like Teen Nerd Rage.)

In any case: I said something to the effect that I have improved.

Guildmate: “Yes, X and Y were talking about that, [sic] you don’t suck as much as you used to.”

Whatever.

May be an angel, but I ain’t no saint.

I am sure many other players are far more logical and predictable, that when they are leveling a character who has two very different sides to their character and class, they balance carefully the talents and skills along the way. I barely remember starting this character, and yet, there she is. Like Luperci, who has been a human and Draenei, Zep tried being a Night Elf once, for a brief time, but it just didn’t work. Luperci has only been raised as a protection paladin, and Zep as a holy healer. Her leveling was so fast, that when I took her back to Azuremyst to slay pink elephants, and was shocked to see how much of the territory she had yet to explore in her own backyard. Leveling by healing dungeons was all she knew, and now what I am hoping is that learning to be adequate DPS in Shadow is as intuitive as healing is now. That this spell builds on that one, and in order to get one’s wings, need to know when to do this or that. Spent some time looking over characters on the armory, and copied a few recipes down. Time to get cookin’.

But as far as her first set of skills go, she did two heroic Cata dungeons recently, and no one died. She got precipitously close to draining all of her mana, but close is not the same as out. And her true inner beauty is most apparent when she’s working the hardest. Like most of us.

In the shadows.

In the blink of a gnome mage, Zeptepi reached Level 85 it seemed. She did not do this alone, far from it. In my small but loyal group of friends I have made in Azeroth, two in particular had genuine sincere interest in helping her. Their generosity of time, materials, advice, and gentle nudging along made playing her as shadow/holy so enjoyable. In fact, I am so used to their presence, be it in the game or as a voice I know well from our long game friendship, that when they are not ‘there’ at Zep’s side in particular, I feel a little bit off. Now, to be sure, she is a hot mess. She has her intelligence and spirit smeared thin all over the place, and I am sure her talent trees need some hefty pruning. Her shoulders are shoddy, her dreamcloth is used up, and damn, that belt makes her look fat.

But she now has Leap of Faith. If anyone needs to be pulled from the fire, they may have to wait their turn, however. She is not planning on wasting this on lemmings. This is for the truly faithful.

P.S. Señor, the line about putting out mana totems really helped tonight. Gracias de nuevo.

Miller time.

Get lost, hoser.
 I am sure I overpaid for it, and am sure it will be replaced soon. But, damn, this brings back awesome memories: Tankards of Terror. I still have a set of two in my bags, a suggestion from my dear friend, and those jugs got me through some hard times. (Giggles to self, gnome-like.) Not being able to wait for 4.3 to come out, I needed to get the Tremendous one NOW. I am still grinning ear-to-ear over carrying my weapon-of-choice: an oversized beer mug. Good times. Now it’s time to go fill it up.

Distracted.

Damn.

It dawned on me today I have too many alts.

No. That can’t be.

I have too much stuff. Or, my alts have too much stuff.

(George Carlin, godspeed: Stuff)

Matty? Lupe? Zep? Is that you?

When I was dragging my fourth character’s tail down to Booty Bay to get her pirate on, I was thinking, enough. Definitely have become Jack of All Trades, Master of None–that should be my new title.

Did the CoC thing on Luperci. Got the achievement. Wasn’t sure I had it on Matty. Went in there. Dork already did it. In February. Went into Zul’Aman on tank. Thinking everything’s cool. Good pauldrons dropped. Did I need them? HELL NO. I thought I had good ones already, and I do. On the shaman. Lost those. Am still wearing crappy blue ones. Am still drying my eyes. Didn’t even win the orb, either.
Losing tabards, stuff, gear, hoarding for transmogrifying, this pet, that mount, this holiday chieve, that one, I am out of control.

But…but…but…they’re all so cute! Can I keep ’em, Mom? Can I?

Anyway, in all the hullaballo, Manalicious hit the streets with this comprehesive post: http://manalicious.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/patch-4-3-notes-this-just-in/

Also, more stuff: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/3502667/Patch_43_Dungeons_Preview%2C_Part_Three_Hour_of_Twilight-9_19_2011

But, Señor, I did buy this mount for Rökkr and the other girls. I didn’t realize that I could do this, (and I blame the Dork Factor), that once you are exalted with a guild, (and the guild is level 25) you can get these for as many alts as you like, being account bound. So, Rökkr is now riding around flying your colors:

Please don’t be surprised if I go crazy and clean out most things from the guild bank. It’s just sitting there, and I need to have a big garage sale. I cannot wait for the extra closet space coming…and not fast enough for me.

Nod nod.

Zep is not built Ford tough.

As I look at my little characters, I realize I take a lot of shots of them sleeping. This poor little priest girl has been working so hard – she is about 40% to level 85, and has been busy getting recipes and justice points so she can get into dungeons. Priests, by all accounts, are some of the most complicated classes in the game, as are warlocks. If I was mystified by lightening bolts and moonbeams, mind blasts and spikes are even more of a mystery than brain freezes. Glad she made all that dreamcloth. She deserves some peaceful sleep. Oh, and was blasted to smithereens about five times in Twilight Highlands. Which leads me to this:

Why do I really want to raid? Two reasons: One, it’s fun. Two: gear, and not because it’s the best, or elite, or whatever. Really good gear = faster everything. It’s like a really good, dependable car. You never have to worry about it breaking down or being high maintenance. I love good gear simply because I can do drudgery faster, and don’t have to spend most of my play time in shades of gray looking for my poor corpse. No wardrobe malfunctions, or chestgear blow-outs. I just want to get the job done, to get to the good stuff. (Patience is not my strong suit, no matter what the title says.)

On my schedule.

Now it’s time for sleep. Good night, little priest girl. Say your prayers. Those Twilight Highland baddies are mean.

Story Time: A Paladin’s Tale (Chapter 2: Cradle)

He was seven when his baby sister was born. His father’s absences had grown more frequent with the rise of his mother’s tummy. One night, she howled like a she-wolf: terrified, Micah ran for the Widow Shannon to get help. The bustling, sturdy dwarf woman took charge, but gruffly put the boy in his place, forbidding him from coming into the house until she said so. This was no place for a child. She ordered him to wait in the warm but pungent stables with the broken-down mare. He knew his reign as the Lord of the Small Realm was over. Something had taken his place, to be put in the barn with the stink and waste, and his mother didn’t protest? Terrified his mother would die because of her exploding body, because whatever made her look that grotesque was surely a demon, and trying to kill her. Micah didn’t know what was worse: hearing his mother’s screams, or not hearing them. Hours passed. For a boy of seven, the ticking of clocks or ferryman’s schedules did not mandate the sense of time. He had the primal sense of time as a wolf or dog would—instincts and senses were his timekeepers. He would hear the calm mutterings of the Widow Shannon, but nothing he could understand. Maybe the Widow made the demon? Maybe she was friends with the devil, and was hurting his mother? The mare sighed bored breath, and paid him no attention. But Micah could not be calmed.
Then he heard the most terrifying sound of all: a baby crying. His beautiful mother had become a freak and malformed with…a baby? Wasn’t he enough? This baby had tried to kill her; of this he was certain. Since his father was nowhere to be found he would have to kill it if it was truly an imp. He saw an image in his head, something with biting teeth, all bruised, pulpy-purple and black, with horns, like one of the Draenei (of whom he was terrified). His father had told him tales of imps and devils who stole into the house late at night, and bit on cheeks and spit in the milk. The heavy wooden door closed, and the widow waddled down the garden path, to her own home. It was nearly dawn. In her exhaustion, she completely forgot about Micah. If his father had been home…well, what? This was a blank page in Micah’s mind. He loved his father, and his father meant wild stories, a dance with his mother, her laughter, and her silent times. He could tell a wild tale, growing more animated with Micah’s widening eyes. His father fed off of innocence and trust.
He went into the house, and went to his mother’s room. She was sound asleep, and breathing—her breath was the air of his life. Next to her bed, was a tiny bed holding a large grub-maggot thing wrapped in blankets. He’d have nothing to do with it, except maybe kill it, like a bug, if it so much as harmed his mother. His mother didn’t seem to be alarmed, but still, he needed to keep her safe. She stirred. “Micah, everything’s all right…go to your cot and sleep, sweetheart. I’ll get you some porridge in the morning.”

Three months went by, and they were both housed at the Widow Shannon’s daughter’s house. After the baby was born, Micah’s mother’s blood did not stop, and her drained lifeless body was what the Widow found in the late morning light. The boy, thank the gods, was still sleeping. The daughter was kind enough, though, but had a brood of her own to take care of, much less the orphan elf children of questionable parentage.
In the benign neglect, left to his own devices, Micah peered in on his baby sister. He had had nothing to do with her until this moment. But the other children didn’t play with him, and his sullen pity was tiresome. He was drawn to her cradle. She was in her little bed, the one she had been placed in as a newborn, and was already growing out of it. She had a healthy baby appetite, and took whatever milk mixtures were fed her. All chubby, milk-fed, and angel skin, she delighted in her own universe. Micah wanted to hate her. If it wasn’t for her, he would be home with his mother, and maybe even his father, and everything would be perfect. The Widow had explained to him, very gently, but honestly, that his mother loved him, and loved this baby, too, and it was up to him to be her family. He wanted none of it. He looked down at her, with the intent of harm. Like she had hurt him. When his face peered over, she smiled her tiny baby smile, and reached up and put her chubby fist out, grabbing a handful of his hair, pulling him near. With her other hand, she touched his cheek, and cooed. It was so fast, he had no time to think. This baby loved him! She smiled…at him! She had green eyes like his mommy’s,  and reddish tinge to her fuzzy hair, and look—a big line of drool was coming out of her toothless grin, and she didn’t care! He laughed out loud for the first time in weeks. The baby smiled even bigger, mimicking his face. She grabbed his finger with her fist, and held on so tightly, he was sure she was the strongest baby ever born. And she was his sister.
Nothing else mattered.

What you want.

During my lunch break yesterday, with a lingering cold, and just feeling a bit like my own active mitagation was nerfed, I read Vidyala’s Manalicious post, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Nerfs.” She touched on some thoughts I believe many people think or feel, at many times. Not just playing a mulit-player game, either.

I can’t help but ask, again as relatively newer player (wonder what the statute of limitations is for that adjectival phrase?), perhaps WoW is just going through good old-fashioned growing pains? And players are sensing it. The level of nostalgia and “good old days” conversation is fairly thick, and this time of reflection for many players is interesting.

This observation or analogy may bristle some folks, but here it goes: I think about my own mom who used to play bridge or canasta, drink margaritas, and hang out in the summer time while the kids played. She wasn’t in the kitchen baking cookies; she was having fun with other moms in the neighborhood, and made no apologies for it. We kids were well-fed, clean, and looked after, but she needed her social time, too. I am not suggesting Azeroth is one big bridge club (shudder). I am saying at no point in time of being a human have we homo sapiens have not banded with others. (And I will never learn how to play bridge. Lucky in love, not at cards. Now, a margarita sounds lovely.) My mom probably doesn’t remember every bridge score, or when she gave Mrs. Perfect the smack-down with hearts and clubs, but she probably does remember having fun summers.

Maybe this anecdote will reaffirm Vidyala’s sentiments:

A young druid, who was recently in a Horde guild, having reported downing boss after boss in Firelands, on normal, and then heroic mode, was quite proud of this. He was a tank and dps, often the top performer in scores, whatever the need be. Interestingly, as he and his guild downed more and more, he would make more side comments about guildmates, not mean spirited, but how one did something that was annoying, and in general, the other players were dull. Very, very dull. Perhaps that is the greatest sin of all in a social game: boring others to death before the bosses do. He finally had enough of one guildmate’s particular brand of whining and tattling to the GM, and the young druid left. Took his DPS to another guild, one that is hopefully more fun and engaging.

Now, the guild I belong to has that in spades. No question. On the scales of shenanigans, they have been summarily tipped. When I think of the nerfs, though, I can just hear some of the unintended smugness and “there there dear’s” of some of my guildmates. They can be a touch patronizing sometimes. I have shared a success or victory, only to hear the next statement, “Yes, but they nerfed that quite a bit.”

Sigh. Like dating 10 Comic Book Guys. Worst. Guildchat. Ever.

(But really, we are all pretty sweet to one another, with hearty congratulations at every success–nice!)

But I do wonder what my GM wants. I will ask him next time I see him.  I count on his honesty. I may ask him if we can schedule a raid one hour earlier on one night, or what he would like from me. Reading a Matticus’ post recently, one comment resonated, that when a player leaves, Matticus doesn’t keep them in mind–if they’re gone, they’re gone. Fair enough. One reason I didn’t join another raiding guild a few months ago was that the GM was very honest with me–basically, if I didn’t perform, I’d be out. (And I wasn’t ready. My DPS on little Miss Shaman pants is pretty solid now, ironically, when I don’t have time to raid when I would like.) That cut-from-the-team attitude may not work for 4.2 or 4.3, and those who have enjoyed the strict raiding team line-ups may be in for a rude awakening and have to ask hard questions: “Do I have the player who can be trained and is intelligent, and spend time getting them geared up, or do I throw them all into the river and see which ones swim?”

Well, I know that is traditionally important for many guilds: just win. But that doesn’t fit my personality. And I think—maybe I’m reading too much into this–many great players are feeling the same. Vidyala’s openness about her full-circle reflection and coming to terms with what she and her guild has, and has not, accomplished is perhaps an eye-opener for many players. To me, what they really accomplished is something I yearn for: A guild that truly likes one another, gets together, and enjoys each other’s quirks, humor, and personalities. Wow–that is awesome. And of that, I am a little envious.

At the heart, the only question one should ever ask and answer is, “What do I want?”

Vidyala, your humility and honesty are truly refreshing. I haven’t yet read the 20+comments, but I can guess what the majority of them say at the heart: Thank you. I believe that this world, as we band together, make alliances, prove loyalty, and friendships, is where the strength endures. In any world. Recently, I have had to take a long, painful look at my own professional life, and rip up excuses or toss out crutches. I will do what I can do, but I will still need my colleague’s support, as they need mine. We have all decided to be kinder, more positive, and supportive of one another.

Sounds like a solid plan. And again, f-it dude. Let’s go bowling.

Drabble: Shadow healer

The stitches become raggedy. This—had been a long week. Zep felt as if small goblins had set up house under her eyes, bringing bags full of rocks, taking souvenirs of sleep. She twisted the silver band around her finger. Every instinct in her wanted to rain golden light on the group, not cast shadows and death. She was terrible at this. Practice? Yes. She turned the ring three times. How did her sisters do it? She put down her needle and thread. She laid her head on the embersilk pillows, a gift from a patron, and found edgy sleep. 
Oh, my…the poor little priest girl is a bubble or two away from level 84, and is really awful at being a shadow priest. Much more complicated than it looks.