Friday, January 30, 2009

Wallpapers, or "I Think You Know I Like Pretty Things By Now"

I like the frost nymphs so much, I decided to make a wallpaper for my own desktop. And then decided I couldn't be greedy, so here you go! Click for the full size:


And here's a vrykul.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Taboo, or "Are Ignore and Report Ever Acceptable?"

While we have a friends panel that's easy to reach in our social tab, there's a less-used secondary window to Friends -- the Ignore tab.

When someone is Ignored, that person cannot communicate with you on that character. I use it for two situations:
  1. Whenever someone seems intent on harassing me.
  2. To support someone else who has been harassed or mistreated by a certain player.
My last "big" ignore was that kid who told my husband (with no prompting or hello) that his gear sucked. In Terrokar. Terrokar is the supermarket of Warcraft -- everyone is expected to be too busy doing their own thing to notice that some folks are still in their slippers or curlers or not wearing makeup.

Aside from wifely outrage, I've ignored a few people on my guild's blacklist, a basic list of gripes members have against certain players or guilds and the stories that accompany them (mostly alliance gankers, but some really horrible horde), including a guy who harassed our Valith for making server first DK to 80 and another guy who emoted in a bank about "politely raping" his friend. I was tempted to report that one, though I don't think his friend (the recipient) found it offensive. If it had been toward someone the guy didn't know, or even a woman, that would have been worth the time. All in all, the rest of my guild found it as disgusting as I did, and he's on our list of people not to group or do business with.

While ignoring someone is your personal "I don't want to talk to you" listing, Reporting is like bringing in the teacher to give detention. It's not done lightly and some people consider it a breach of player etiquette in any situation. Threatening to report gets people very very worked up.

A Game Master (GM) can be approached through a small red ? that opens up a ticket panel. If you have a technical issue, there's one sort of form to submit. If you have a behavioral/harassment or naming issue, there's another form. I tend to keep to the tame world of reporting yucky names.

Behavior you can report and punishment likely to result, summarized from Blizzard Support pages.

PLAYER-VS-PLAYER servers CANNOT expect help when reporting physical harassment such as corpse camping, killing lowbies, or tricking people into flagging for PVP, which are considered facets of PVP. (source) Normal servers can report these things.

ROLE-PLAYING servers CAN expect help when reporting RP-targeted harassment; out-of-character discussions in /say or /yell or other designated channels; or names that do not fit into the fantasy world of WoW. RP servers CANNOT expect help reporting out-of-character discussions in guild chat. (source)
  • Penalties: Warning, warning + suspension, or new name + appropriate naming penalty (see below).
ALL servers CAN expect help when reporting names of an inappropriate nature (racial, extremely sexual, extremely violent, vulgar, harassing, defamatory, trademarked, gibberish, leetspeek, titles, real world references, part or complete sentences). (source)
  • Penalties: Prompted to change the name at login or get a random name assigned (lesser infractions). Name change + a warning (medium infractions). Name change + temporary suspension (serious infractions). Name change + suspension + Final Warning (extreme infractions).
ALL servers CAN expect help when reporting harassment. Harassment includes racial or national hatred, extreme sexuality/violence, real life info or threats, sexual orientation, disruption of zones/areas (includes crowded streets, player gatherings, blocking NPC's, etc), obscenity/vulgarity, inappropriate or harassing or defamatory language, religious hatred, illegal activities, spam, or advertising. (source)
  • Penalties: Warning (mild to serious language infractions), temporary suspension (hate or serious language infractions), Final Warning (hate or extreme infractions), and/or real-life repercussions (severe threats of harm).
ALL servers CAN report bug exploiting, abuse of game mechanics, use of third party software, malicious UI mods, and data manipulation/mining. Penalties are based on the player's awareness and use of the exploit, how badly it hurt the surrounding players or server, and whether or not the player tried to conceal their use of the exploit. (source)
  • Penalties: Warning, temporary suspension, and actions up to and including account closure.
ALL servers CAN report scamming. Scamming is the use of deception to gain at another's expense. (source)
  • Penalties: Temporary suspension.

Please note that the only definite ways to get your account closed are to maliciously exploit the game or to recieve a Final Warning and continue being bad. Final Warnings are expanded on in the Harassment Policy: "any further ToU violations will result in account closure."

GMs take into account the intent of the infraction and the level of the infraction. Some things are just taken more seriously (and thus dealt with more harshly) than others. They don't slap the handcuffs on every single person who gets reported.

GMs don't really monitor your server -- the players have to police their own areas. It's like a classroom full of kids and the teacher is down the hall, and you have to run get her if something bad starts happening. GMs only respond to trouble when you report it, they don't watch for it.

GMs will still read and take care of your ticket if you log out. Try to include the information they'll need, such as the exact name, level, race, and class of the person you're reporting, along with a detailed explanation of what they did. I find that screenshots help me remember what I'm writing up (yesterday, a lovely fellow named Fucyoku; can you unscramble the secret message?). I specifically asked a GM when reporting a name once, "Do you still take care of the ticket if I log out?" and he said "Yes, we investigate every ticket submitted."

GMs can go into your chat logs and find the truth. Do NOT try to lie to a GM to make yourself look innocent or like a victim if you weren't. It is never a "he said, she said" decision where the GM takes a side. They will check. They can even check your guild chat logs.

This is good news for the innocent -- you never have to be afraid that someone can report you with false claims and get you in trouble. Just say "If you check the chat logs, you'll see he's lying." Also, if someone threatens to report you for something that isn't covered in Blizzard's policies, I wouldn't worry about it, it's just someone blowing smoke and trying to scare you. Report does not automatically equal punishment.

So don't be afraid to report people and don't be afraid to get reported (if you've been good). You won't get anyone kicked out of the game unless a) they've been really bad in the past and b) the GM thinks they're being naughty enough to warrant it. Penalties from Blizzard are not arbitrary, and you don't have to worry that you're ruining someone's life by calling in the teacher. In reality, and considering the kinds of things they have harsh penalties for, you're probably just making your server a better place.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Expectations, and "More On Lowbies vs. High Levels"

We had a 12-year-old kid in our guild -- I failed his trial membership even though he was someone's brother* -- who thought that high levels are in the game to help low levels. That's, like, apparently what we're for. A few weeks after kicking him, someone saw him begging for gold to buy his regular land mount in Orgrimmar and I stopped feeling guilty.

I found a way to describe it so that most people, kids included, will understand.

It's like going to high school for the first time and expecting the seniors to do stuff for you.

New players are like freshmen. High levels are like seniors. And if you go into either high school or Warcraft with the idea that the more experienced kids are supposed to do anything for you, you're not just going to get laughed at -- you're going to get pantsed, beaten up, and tied to the flag pole.

When someone begs for money, I feel like a high school senior explaining "No, you can't have my lunch money." It's beyond ridiculous to me. That money might seem inflated in WoW, and lowbies may think we have cash to spare, but the truth is that our lunches are just that much more expensive at high levels. We're saving for stuff we need to function at endgame (and, yes, overpriced luxuries), not wasting cash on lazy freshmen.

In school, if you have a family member or good friend who's older, then yeah. You can totally expect them to help you. And not all of the seniors will help in pantsing you or even approve of it, but at the end of the day . . . people who don't know you just don't care. They went through being a freshman, a sophmore, and a junior to get to where they are, and they don't appreciate people trying to mooch off of them.

Freshmen should be willing to use what shortcuts are available. I'm a big fan of taking a month or two to save up gold and then using the recruit-a-friend system to level quickly (saving gold first because it's expensive to level that fast). I'm all over using your personal connections in the game to run you through instances or even pay a stranger to give you a run-through. I don't even care that much about people who pay to get power-leveled -- if you're willing to blow the cash, violate the terms of service, potentially get ripped off, and be kind of useless until you learn your class, then whatever. Not my problem unless you enter my guild or my battleground (feel free to join the other side, though).

But I hate begging. I hate the idea that some people have, and it's not just in WoW, that just because someone else has a lot more money, that person should give it to you. Just because you need it more.

Now, I'm not the kind of person who just writes off Real Life homeless as "Get a job, you lazy bum!" I realize there are people with serious difficulties who end up on the streets, and I sincerely applaud clean, respectable homeless shelters that give those people a safe haven at night. I helped take food to one a few times in college, and we talked with the people staying there, and a lot of them were just having a really rough time of it. I also know that not all homeless people are just down on their luck -- some really are just lazy and prefer mooching off the state. Some have psychological problems and won't take or can't afford medication and therefore can't hold a regular job. Some are even criminal -- it was a homeless guy who followed my friend home and hurt her.

But this is a game. It's a virtual world. Anyone willing to put in the time can do anything. There is no "down on your luck" in this game. If you get camped, log out for a while. If you die, run back to your body.

And it's to people in this game, I say, "Get a job, you lazy bum."

* He wasn't failed for begging but for persisting in bothering people who had already said no, and also for showing overt tendencies to view the people around him as resources rather than people, including but not limited to hoping "a friend" would quit the game soon so he could inherit all of his gold. Yes, he got a warning before the actual kick and the opportunity to flip his attitude around. Yes, his brother stayed and is a decent member and didn't mind.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mining Mayhem, or "Stop the Presses: Husband Happy About PVP?!?!"

So the evening after I was harassed by server bullies and husband and I lamented being stuck on a PVP server for the 100th time, I walked past him and he said, "I just had my first moment where I'm glad we're on a PVP server."

And I said "Wha?"

He was mining in old-world Azeroth on his 80 death knight, riding toward a thorium node, when he sees a level 56 night elf get to the node before him*. He stops at the node, surprised when the night elf raises his mining pick anyway. Husband one-shots him.

When you see a high level running toward you and don't run, you're kind of asking for it.

Later, he saw a level 73 paladin in Northrend going for the same saronite node. But this player stopped, turned, and left the node alone.

Smart paladin.

* This information is wrong and has been corrected in the comments. Husband got to the node, started mining, and the lowbie came up and started trying to mine after husband had started.

Birdfall's Epic Mount, or "Hey, It Was Free"

When you do recruit-a-friend, if your friend pays for 2 months of the game, you get a very special mount. And while it's nice because it's free (and rare), I've since found that it's not entirely Birdfall's style. So the official story is that Birdfall's rambunctious sister, Latoria, met a peddler at Darkmoon Faire and got a really great deal.

(Click image for full size.)

Birdfall's job, for those of you who don't know, is basic reconnaissance for SI:7. She goes to places, checks them out, and returns with a report. But one of the keys is keeping a low profile. >_>

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lunar Festival 2009, or "Omen Is Easy Like Pie"

Will update this as I find the changes this year. Feel free to read Lunar Festival 2008 and 2007 for my old notes.

The Boss: Omen

Okay, he's not easy to kill. Everyone has to avoid his Starfall and it's easy to die at 70 or lower (I spent most of the fight waiting to rez), and it took us 10 minutes with over 20 people in disarray, BUT I helped kill him after he'd already been tagged (thus he was NOT my kill) and still completed the quest -- all you have to do is stand on his corpse and get the buff.

Yup. That's it. Any level can swoop in and get it. And you can still get it if you're dead -- just run and stand on his body when you rez until it gives you a quest complete message:

The best day to do Omen is today, when there's a lot of people gonna be looking to group for it, both alliance and horde -- they will not stop to check your level and gear like they might later in the week. If your raid group isn't inviting people, feel free to ask the leader for an Assist (they can right-click, Make an Assistant) and you can invite people from General chat (/join general). The fight is really about numbers if your team doesn't know what they're doing. Just keep piling more and more people on him.

Enemy Cities

I had hoped I'd found a cute trick to get in and out of enemy cities easily -- you can port to any city from the moonlight in Moonglade -- but you can't use the invitation to port to enemy capitals. :*( I tried and it just moved me 5 feet over, still in Moonglade (though it did burn my invitation cooldown).

So just take off all your gear and look forward to a nice slew of deaths if you're under level 80. The city guards are 75 and see through stealth.


There are good walkthroughs on gathering all the coins on Wowwiki, so I won't bother telling you more than my own issues and any tricks I find. I will warn you that I'm not doing the coins in Northrend this year, so I won't have any information on those.
  • The guy in Azshara is at the very southeastern tip between a statue's severed legs.
  • The chick in Dire Maul (Feralas) is not actually in the instance. She'll be near the pit where rare mobs sometimes spawn, and one of those mobs (Skarr) has 12% droprate of Orb of Deception. This elder is also located in a spot that will flag you for All PVP. This means that not only will you be flagged for PVP, anyone from your own faction can attack you as well as the opposite faction. It fades shortly after leaving the arena pit, but don't enter if you think someone might attack you.
  • In Lower Blackrock Spire, you might as well go ahead and do the spider and worg pup pet quests since you're in there anyway.
  • Blackrock Depths has huge patrols that see through stealth. I suggest level 80, a group, the key to all the shortcut doors, or someone with high lockpicking.
  • In Shimmering Flats, you may want to pick up a 1g Ancona Chicken from Magus Tirth and the quest Freedom for All Creatures in Feralas, which is an 8-quest chain (alliance only) that leads to the Hinterlands and gives you a Sprite Darter Hatchling pet.

Not everyone loves pretty dresses or holiday achievements the way I do. So if you don't want an Elder title, consider a Violet Proto Drake too much hassle, and (horror of horrors) don't even care about the holiday clothes, there are other more practical reasons you might consider making the effort to visit all 75 locations.

Every elder increases your reputation with all parts of your faction (alliance/horde) by 75. This means 5625 rep for visiting all the elders, though humans have a racial rep bonus.

Getting coins also counts as a quest per elder, in case you're working on The Seeker. That's 75 quests, but it takes some running. If you like titles, I suggest finishing exploring for The Explorer since you're running all over the map anyway.

Achievement Raider, or "My Crappy, Wacky, But Happy Route"

Once you're at least level 70, you can solo a lot of the things required to fill up your "Dungeons & Raids" achievement bar. If you, like me, are too lazy to do the research for yourself and try to remember where things are, here's the sloppy plan I came up with (and, like most of my sloppy plans, I couldn't be bothered to write it on real paper instead of my blog).

Some directions left out because I haven't done them yet. Raid instances not included!

It'd be a fine time to do these instances while you're completing your Lunar Festival travels this week. :) I've heard that Elders will be inside some of them, too.


Who will be running these to show you it can be done?

Dustfire, though small, is a hefty 71 with beams of shadowy goodness. She goes into these dens of dirt and smudginess wearing T4 and badge gear from The Burning Crusade, not a single item replaced in Northrend. On her person, she carries plenty of water, a few of the best available mana and health potions, and a cute pink mount.

She starts this run with a meager 25/216 in "Dungeons & Raids" achievement points.

My husband, an 80 Death Knight, will be helping me on any boss above level 50, because there's a lot of stuff to get through, and I'm not going to waste time trying to solo some things as a cloth-wearer. If you don't feel like soloing a boss but don't have anyone to go with you, offering free runs to lower levels is a great way to get this stuff done. Just make sure someone in the group is willing to heal you. ^_^


The first rule of dungeon achievements is that the only requirement is to kill the last boss. Isn't that nice? So, really, we're not running into these places for a full clear, we're running in to skirt past all the trash and head straight to the last room.

The second rule of dungeon achievements is expediency. I'll be listing them in order of where they are, not their level, and you can start from either continent.

Eastern Kingdoms

Sunken Temple: Defeat Shade of Eranikus (50 Elite)
Where: Swamp of Sorrows, middle of the lake. (Map)
How: Clear the trash -- he will pull all the dragons in the big room.

Stockades: Defeat Bazil Thredd (25 Elite)
Where: Stormwind City, the canals. (Map)

Deadmines: Defeat Edwin VanCleef (20 Elite)
Where: Southern Westfall. (Map)
Inside: Keep moving forward through all the rooms, past the bosses, kill patrols if you have to. In the molten room, skirt the edge to the left and there'll be a door with a boss in front of it. Ignore or kill the boss and keep going. In the final cavern, you'll see a pirate ship. VanCleef is in the cabin at the top, so follow the boardwalk up onto the ship, head right, then up and up. Can't miss him.
How: He has two adds. You're 70+. Just step on them.

Gnomeregan: Defeat Mekgineer Thermaplugg (28 Elite)
Where: Northwest Dun Morogh. (Map)

Uldaman: Defeat Archaedas (40 Elite)
Where: Northern Badlands. (Map)

Blackrock Depths: Defeat Emperor Dagran (56 Elite)
Where: Blackrock Mountain, between Searing Gorge and Burning Steppes. (Map) Once in the mountain, go...
How: Clear all the adds first. Light torches to keep them from respawning (?). Kill the boss.

Upper Blackrock Spire: Defeat 50 Rookery Whelps in 15 Seconds and General Drakkisah (60 Elite)
Blackrock Mountain, between Searing Gorge and Burning Steppes. (Map) Once in the mountain, go...
AOE. Take a lot of it. Take your time gathering, because the timer for 15 seconds doesn't start until you kill the first one. Nuke them all down in one swoop.

Lower Blackrock Spire: Defeat Overlord Wyrmthalak (60 Elite)
Blackrock Mountain, between Searing Gorge and Burning Steppes. (Map) Once in the mountain, go...

Shadowfang Keep: Defeat Arhmage Arugal (21 Elite)
Where: Silverpine Forest, by Pyrewood Village. (Map)

Scarlet Monastery Graveyard: Defeat Bloodmage Thalnos (32 Elite)
Where: Northeast Tirisfal Glades. (Map)
Inside: Head inward, up the stairs, and straight down into the crypt at the end.
How: Hit him a few times.

Scarlet Monastery Library: Defeat Arcanist Doan (35 Elite)
Where: Northeast Tirisfal Glades. (Map)
Inside: Keep going east until it dead-ends in a round room.
How: Kill.

Scarlet Monastery Armory: Defeat Herod (37 Elite)
Where: Northeast Tirisfal Glades. (Map)
Inside: Keep going through the connecting rooms until you get to the end.
How: Kill.

Scarlet Monastery Cathedral: Defeat Whitemaine and Mograine (40 Elite)
Where: Northeast Tirisfal Glades. (Map)
Inside: Head to the cathedral in back. They're on the platform right in front of you.
How: Kill all the adds inside the Cathedral. They will ALL pull when you pull the boss. Then kill him, she shows up and rezzes him, kill them both.

Scholomance Section 1: Defeat Ras Frostwhisper (62 Elite)
Where: Western Plaguelands, on the island of Caer Darrow. (Map)

Scholomance Section 3: Defeat Darkmaster Gandling (61 Elite)
Where: Western Plaguelands, on the island of Caer Darrow. (Map)

Stratholme Living Side: Defeat Balnazzar (60 Elite)
Where: Northwest in the Eastern Plaguelands. (Map)

Stratholme Undead Side: Defeat Baron Rivendare (60 Elite)
Where: Northwest in the Eastern Plaguelands. (Map)


Blackfathom Deeps: Defeat Aku'mai (24 Elite)
Where: Northwest Ashenvale, on the coast. (Map)
Inside: Keep moving southeast, there are almost no branches. The altar room will be in the very dead end tip of the instance.
How: Light the braziers one at a time if you don't have aoe. Kill the mobs that spawn. Once they're all dead, the doors will open and you head to the boss. No tricks, just smush her.

Ragefire Chasm: Defeat Taragaman the Hungerer (16 Elite)
Where: Orgrimmar, Cleft of Shadow. (Map) When running through The Drag to get to the deeper sections of Org (Valley of Wisdom/Honor), there will be a branch off the path that leads down into the Cleft of Shadow. Just look for it. There should be a sign, too.

Wailing Caverns: Defeat Mutanus the Devourer (20 Elite)
Where: Nortwest Barrens, southwest of Crossroads. (Map)

Razorfen Kraul: Defeat Charlga Razorflank (27 Elite)
Where: Southern tip of the Barrens. (Map)

Razorfen Downs: Defeat Amnennar the Coldbringer (37 Elite)
Where: Southern tip of the Barrens. (Map)

Dire Maul East: Defeat Alzzin the Wildshaper (58 Elite)
Middle of Feralas. (Map)
Inside: Kill Zevrim Thornhoof and talk to Old Ironbark.
How: Clear the plants first. Halfway through, he'll summon imp adds.

Dire Maul West: Defeat Immol'thar (61 Elite)
Where: Middle of Feralas. (Map)

Dire Maul North: Defeat King Gordok (62 Elite)
Where: Middle of Feralas. (Map)
Inside: Key to open courtyard door.

Maraudon: Defeat Princess Theradras (48 Elite)
Where: Central west Desolace. (Map)

Zul'Farrak: Defeat Chief Ukorz Sandscalp (46 Elite)
Where: Northern Tanaris. (Map)

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Family Business, or "Yes, I Have Two Warcraft Blogs; Yes, This Makes Me a Huge Geek"

We've finally announced it to our guild, so now I'm announcing it to you!

I'm a co-writer with my guild leader on a blog about family guilds, updated every weekday. We write from a leadership point of view and hope to get some member writers from our guild to collaborate with us soon and write from their point of view.

The Family Business is a resource for people who are looking to be in guilds that won't dissipate at the first sign of trouble, that will survive way beyond the lifespan of any game, and that will foster friendships that last a life time.

Join us as we explore the highs and lows of guild leadership, person management, conflict resolution, and help us as we re-shape the WoW community into one that treats all with respect and dignity.

You . . . also get to see my face, since Teo thinks real writer photos make the blog feel more human. *blush* *hide* I tried to pick one that showed my hair to advantage, but there's still that pesky face to look at. >_>

I also go by my maiden name on that blog, which is what I plan to use when I get published (*wistful sigh*) because I'd like my Warcraft blog work to be able to connect (at least in a list of accomplishments) to my real life work.

New Header, or "No, Sylvanas is Not Admiring Me"

I decided to mock up a header image and Sylvanas is pretty and so are the frost nymphs, and then I needed to work Birdfall in somehow, so I decided that since Sylvanas is a "larger than life" character, and she has a lot of great detail, I'd make her big and put Birdfall in her hand like she could just crush me. Then I lightened Sylvanas and the nymph to make poor, less-detailed Birdfall and the text pop a little.

It's really a tribute to women rather than a pedestal for my character. If the blog wasn't named after Birdfall, she wouldn't be in there at all.

Husband says it's kind of tall, but we'll just have to suffer for the sake of pretty. *folds arms* Hmph!

Click the above to see the extra-large version.

This also means that WoW Model Viewer is back up and full of Wrath stuff. They do not have the most recent version on the website, though. If you'll read the updates, there's a separate host site because the creator isn't able to update the program right now. Just follow the link provided in the news.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

2 Years Gaming, or "How Old Am I Again?"

My first post ever was a rant about how a project failed. Looking back, I think that project might have seen some sort of response if I'd been more patient or on a larger server. As it is, I'm a little embarrassed to go back and read some of my old posts -- topics I wouldn't give a second glance if someone suggested them to me now.

I started playing this game one month before that post. I started this blog as a fledgling, and I now have a 70, an 80, a few alts in the wings, and serious experience as a raider, officer, and glutton for punishment (PVP).

I remember early stories from my brother: how he rolled a mage and didn't train conjure water, and how his first pickup group asked him for water and he passed out vendor water.

Or how after just rolling that same mage, he got mobbed and killed by the kobolds outside Northshire Abbey.

"Aren't those yellow and don't attack unless you attack them?" asked my husband.

My brother gave him a very pointed stare. "Yes."

Before I started to play Warcraft, I looked for a resource to give me more information about it -- not statistics or strategies or gear or math, but how the game feels. How it works and thrives under my hands, what my characters are capable of besides killing things.

I couldn't find anything. And I started this blog to rectify that gap. I don't know how well I've done. Letters from Birdfall has turned into more of a chronicle of my growth as a player than a tribute to the less technical and more personal pleasures of the game, but I'm not sure if that doesn't perform a similar function to the goal I set out to achieve. I still have plans for that video on what it's like to play. I have the video camera and editing software, just not the willingness to fix my hair for a special appearance. (And I tend to get stilted in front of cameras.)

So here's your opportunity. I'm going to make that video, and it's going to have the Real Life me. And if you want me to answer specific questions about the blog, the game, my guild, or just myself, put them as comments in this post and I'll try to work them in. I'm more of a writer than a speaker, so I promise you the result will be awkward. But don't worry. I'll toss a giant CareBear and the cutest cat you've ever seen in to liven things up.

And the answer is: I'm 25. I only remember because, seriously, everyone says "A quarter of a century!" when you hit 25. It's insane. Really really insane.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Gear is God, or "When You're the Cause of a Loot Dispute"

I have a good friend -- he's been to our apartment and eaten our food and watched our movies. He's a genuinely nice guy and has a dress collection (for his character) almost as big as mine.

He hasn't led a lot of instances as far as I know, and he's not particularly gear-centric, though he works on his gear to be able to raid. He's a big supporter of the way our guild hands out loot, which is to spread it evenly among as many people as possible.

He led a 25-man Archavon, on master looter, and three rogue pieces dropped. He and several other rogues rolled, and one rogue rolled 100 on two pieces.

My husband suggested to our friend that he put the loot rules in writing at the start of the raid next time, because our friend handed the loot out as our guild would have -- one person can get a max of one loot per run unless uncontested, so he handed the loot to the second highest roll on the second piece of gear.

The problem was that the second highest roll was . . . himself.

So, essentially, the rogue that rolled both 100's saw him as ninjaing loot. Now, I know him better than that. He was doing what he saw as most fair, not most beneficial to himself. He would have done it for anyone. He just didn't expect anyone to roll highest twice in a row and thus didn't plan for the situation before it arose. And the other rogue continued his bashing of my friend in the raid, in whispers, and later in trade chat. And . . . this animosity honestly bothered my friend. I think he would go back and do things differently if it meant making it all go away, even though he was truly just trying to be fair.

When someone makes a faux pas (in this case, not saying one loot per person before the loot dropped), and people refuse to believe that it wasn't greed and ninjaing, how do you get your reputation back?

In my opinion, you ride the waves, hope people attribute the bitter "I love gear more than people" rogue to just another "didn't get what I want" whiner, and you work to preempt similar problems next time.

You can't rebuild a reputation by arguing, but you can rebuild it by showing people through your methods and actions that you are what you say you are.

Art of my friend's rogue by guildmate Velandrea.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bullies are Stupid, or "My Brother-in-Law (-in-Law) is Better Than You"

It takes a lot to make me /spit on someone. When I /spit, it indicates the lowest possible opinion of that person's mental faculties, personality, and parentage. When I /spit, it means "Yes, I think I'm better than you. Maybe not a better player, but a better person in every sense of the phrase."

I mainly reserve it for server bullies, the people who take pleasure in seeking out the weak (or distracted) and terrorizing them. Campers. Face-sitters.* Impotent losers. The kind of people girls like to laugh at and who then take it out on people in game because it makes them feel more powerful and less like the social refuse they are.

Anyway, even though I know if the people I'm calling social refuse read this they'll laugh and point, prod the sore spots of the story and overall make even bigger jerks of themselves, it's anecdotal and I'm willing to put myself out there for my readers. And it doesn't hurt that I'd IP ban if they showed up and I could figure out how.

* Face-sitting is a way some people "rape" the player they've just killed. It's called tea-bagging. I had a friend hurt irl, so I find it especially Not Funny.

This is What Happened

Husband and I were getting our quest on at level 79 at a high traffic time in a daily quest area. We were on the end of a quest chain and wanting to finish it. Four guys from a known ganker guild came along and smushed us while we were on a mob.

One of our raid leaders, a sweetheart warrior named Fently, was nearby and came out to help us. The three of us took those four down, me healing my husband and Fently doing just fine on his own. They kept rezzing, we kept trying to finish our quest, and occasionally they'd get one of us, but for the most part we (okay, Fently) owned their rears.

Other questing horde showed up and kept them down long enough for us to finish and move on. Fently went back to his previous spot and we moved to the next area.

You might think we'd have four of them on us within minutes. No no. Five. On two. They'd called in a healer and remained to camp us. Husband was starting to get his frustrated voice, so I suggested we just let them sit around our corpses for a while and do something else. Waste their time.

Husband waited for them to get enough away so that we could rez and fly off, and I really didn't have a good feeling about it, but we got back to the Sons of Hodir safe spot.

The gankers started trickling in, so I /spat on them as they arrived. They'd started it, after all. They'd insisted on not letting it go when we moved on, and they'd made husband use his frustrated voice. I never asked to be on a PVP server, and you ought to know my feelings about world PVP by now.

They /laughed and /pitied and I finally /bored with them. /spit is eloquent enough imo, and I had no interest in elaborating upon our relationship. When I told husband about /spit later, he said "Oh," and after that it took him a good while to convince me he thought they deserved it but it was probably what made them do what they did next. Not an explanation I like, and please refrain from backing it up in the comments because I'll start crying again, but it was honest and most likely true. I know and have always known that bullies pick on you more if you react.

So we couldn't continue questing, of course. But some people were talking about an instance, and we were willing to get experience pretty much any way we could, particularly if it was somewhere the trash of the server couldn't show up, so we were hovering around waiting on them to decide when and where.

Except, while we were waiting, the gankers stayed around me. Like, close in, surrounding me.

Husband suggested I fly west, so I did, no particular aim in sight, just waiting for the instance to get together.

They followed.

I thought I'd flown enough and they'd lost interest, but apparently ganking and emoting wasn't enough for them anymore. They flocked around me, and I decided that the best way to ignore them was to go afk.

I stayed at my computer, just watching gchat and making sure they didn't try to hurt me while in the air (I don't think they could do much while in my druid flight form, but). I wasn't particularly interested in starting anything new or continuing anything old. I was finished, if they weren't it was their problem.

The instance took a while to get together. Fently was going to tank, but there was some confusion on my part as to the hold up. I think we were looking for a healer, and the guild leader couldn't heal because his wife was almost home.

Either way, I was chatting in gchat and my brother's wife's little brother (my brother-in-law-in-law), a brilliant mischievous longtime druid, told me about a trick he found. It's a trick I hate sharing, but I have to if I want to tell this story right.

If you're high enough, and you have a good line-up, you can typhoon people off their mounts.

It puts you in combat, and he says hitting escape helps get you out of combat faster, but once you're out of combat, you can get into flight form again. You live, they die.

I did it, but I couldn't tell if I got any of them. My husband, toward the ground, laughed and said he heard one of them yelling. I grinned and hoped I'd gotten one, and then I realized I could check my combat log.


Not only did it hit two of them, it crit.

That is probably my happiest world PVP moment to date. XD

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

For the Love of Money, or "How I Became the Richest Person in My Guild"

I have a solid 8,000g between Dustfire and my druid. Both have their epic flying. At 60, I had to borrow gold from my brother to get my epic land rider, and at 70 I was able to lend him 3,000g for his epic flying and gave my husband 1,000g for his epic mount.

I espouse a "do it yourself" view of making gold: work hard, never ask for handouts. As evidenced by the replies of women to sexist "Don't do it, she'll take all your money, dude" comments in this WoW Insider post, a lot of other women do the same. It's bolstering to see.

Below, I'll tell you how I went from broke to over 1k on Moon Guard (huge server) and how I broke 10k just before Wrath's release on Zuluhed (small server).

Crazy Opportunities
  • The Herb Craze: I made hundreds of gold on Zuluhed selling my herb stock just after Inscription released. I had my own Inscription to train, but to be honest, I could re-herb all of that. It wasn't a big deal if my Inscription didn't max right away, but if I didn't take advantage of the prices, I was a fool. On Moon Guard, I had enough herbs in stock to make 76g out of a handful of silver.
  • The Cooking Craze: You wouldn't think that a simple Winter's Veil would push an entire server (Moon Guard) to spend upwards of 30g for a 5-stack of Darkclaw Lobster (one of only a few fish that will push you to 300 cooking). But, in fact, one holiday achievement relied on 325 cooking, and the race to level it made my fishing skill into a landslide of cash.
  • The Clothing Craze: I had a plan in place for this Winter's Veil. There's a red winter clothes pattern for alliance and green for horde, both sold on neutral vendors. As soon as the holiday began, I ran into enemy territory to get the opposite faction pattern and began to manufacture. I sold out in a day at 30-35g each and had to buy cloth to continue making them. I don't believe it would have been quite so profitable on a Normal server, but Moon Guard is RP, where clothes matter.
  • The Pre-Sale Sale: I sold all of my excess materials on the Zuluhed AH a few months before Wrath, shortly before prices really started to plummet. I wanted to liquidate everything and be ready to restock with Wrath materials, and I knew I had to be early about it before everyone started slashing their prices.
How can you predict when a craze will happen?

First, know what's going on. The herb craze was easy to predict -- every news source said "Stock up on herbs to sell if you're not doing Inscription." They were more than right and I wish I'd done more stocking. Inscription required a lot more Goldthorn than anyone could have imagined, and even Peacebloom is hopped up on auction steroids to this day -- 1g a stack on Zuluhed from what used to be maybe 5s.

The cooking craze could have been predicted, if I'd known my cooking better. I knew that one of the achievements required 325 cooking skill, but I didn't realize how hard it was to reach 325, or that several points relied heavily on something I could supply through my fishing. I fished Darkclaw Lobster on a fluke to cover the cooking mats I'd bought the night before. Lucky mistake, but a mistake I wouldn't have made if I hadn't been willing to go fish to make my money back. As it was, I only got in on the tail end of the holiday craze and missed a lot of opportunity to rake in gold.

Always investigate your upcoming holiday achievements, especially this first year, and see if there's anything you can sell that people will need, then make an effort before the holiday begins to stock up. (Though not as flagrantly expensive as the Lobster, everyone doing Winter Veil needed 5 Small Eggs. These are farmable for people under level 10 and made a solid chunk of silver per egg.) People will be frantic to accomplish achievements this first year, creating a craze and thus market opportunities.

The Bag Trade

I didn't expect herbalism to take such a huge leap with Inscription, but I did know that one of our most precious commodities was bag space. Everyone and their sister can make regular bags, so I focused on the rarest type of bag -- herb bags.

Herb bags are rare because you have to be honored and/or revered with certain factions to get the patterns. Then you have to grind out (or buy) expensive materials to make them.

So I set to be an herb bag supplier. I had a list of hard-to-farm items to troll the AH for, looking to buy them cheap. I spent a few hours farming spiders for the proper silk.

And I spent days grinding rep.

But, in the end, when Dustfire produced bags at 130g a pop, she sold at least one a week on top of her 1000g a day "getting rid of all my junk" sales.

The Pet Trade

I've made a solid amount of gold on Moon Guard by checking the neutral auction house for 5g horde pets and reselling them on the alliance auction house for a modest profit. Anyone over 70 does not need this method of money-making, but it's a good starter business.

You want to be careful not to buy pets that look like horde- or alliance-only pets but aren't. I'm specifically talking about the pets available on neutral vendor Dealer Rashaad, who sells cockroaches and Siamese cats and different colors of some faction-only pets.

There are a few pets that you might want to think about farming or look for in particular on the Neutral AH. Farming these may take a few days, but (if you find the right buyer) they'll pay for at least half of your epic flying skill. That's more than the old island dailies could do. The most popular farmed pets are, of course, whelplings, so I don't recommend farming those unless your server is just pet-starved. These are the pets I see least often and for the highest amounts of cash:
  • Black Tabby - 1 in 1000 droprate, only able to be farmed by horde. If on a normal (non-PVP) server, consider using a horde (I rolled a DK) to farm this from level 31 mobs and trade it to your alliance bank. (My husband and I have a system where I post it and he immediately buys it for 1 copper. No down time.)
  • Hyacinth Macaw - 1 in 5000 droprate, probably better yanked off the AH from someone who doesn't know what they're selling. I don't recommend listing this on the AH if your server is small, but if it's very large, you're more likely to find an appreciative group of collectors willing to pay top dollar. The easiest thing might be just listing it in trade chat as the rarest pet in the game. Because it is. Very few people know about it, but if they go to check your facts, they'll be astonished. I wouldn't let it go for less than 3,000g. Someone on your server ought to be a collector, and collectors recognize the opportunity price of an honest-to-goodness super-rare pet.
  • Disgusting Oozeling - 1 in 2000 droprate (taking into account how often the bags drop and how often the oozeling drops from the bags). Not many people farm this. Even on Moon Guard, I've only seen it on the AH once for about 1,500g. I'd really wished for the money to buy it, because that seemed cheap to me.
  • Captured Firefly - 1 in 1000 droprate. More common than the others but still not as common as the whelplings.
The new pet achievements have made pet collecting more popular than ever. More on pets and pet news at

Greens, Blues, Epix

I disenchant all of my greens. I have a person for this. A good arrangement is to find someone you trust (perhaps an officer in your guild) and agree that they can skim a few enchanting mats off the top to put in the guild bank if they'll disenchant all the random garbage you send them. My person is a raid leader, former guild leader, my husband's best friend, and my de facto brother-in-law -- he takes a few mats for himself and uses them to give free enchants to guildmates.

You want to be careful about blues and epics and check for rarity before you just send it to be d/e'd. God forbid you have a [Teebu's Blazing Longsword] disenchanted, thinking it a crap old-world epic.

Why disenchant instead of sell?

Listing a piece of equipment costs money. Sometimes several gold just for a short amount of time. Unless you're sure the item will sell (such as twink items), it's cheaper in the long run to reduce it into easily-stackable enchanting materials that cost nothing to list. Yes, nothing. Ever. No matter how big and bad the mat is. 0g 0s 0c.

Listing a piece of equipment costs time. The easier it is to list your inventory, the more likely you are to do it. Nobody wants to spend time researching [Gloves of the Creepy Monkey] when you could just plop some enchanting mats up for the going rate and have done with it.

Auction House Tips

Always list 1 silver under the cheapest buyout. No one will spend 25g on something they can get for 24g 99s. Even though it's a small difference, it makes a big difference to the buyer and therefore your sales. And ignore auctioneer on this one -- just because your addon says it should go for 100g doesn't mean it sold for 100g. It just means someone listed it for that much. If you want it to sell, follow what people are doing right now. Don't worry about the money you could be making. Insisting on too high of a price will ensure that you don't make any money at all.

Be patient. If the price is lower than you're willing to undercut, wait a few days or a week. Keep checking. I never list dragonhawk pets for under 11g, and sometimes that means I just don't list them. I wait until I can undercut the lowest seller at a price I like.

Don't lose money. Once you've listed a low level item often enough to lose money on it, or if the average buyout price is lower than the vendor sale would make, cut your losses and just vendor it. Your bag space will thank you.

Always list a buyout. People will pay gold to buy but won't pay silver to bid on the same item. It's all about getting it now. When people want something, they don't want to sit at the auction house for a bidding war. They're going to wait and pay more to your competitor to get what they want so that they don't have to stress about it. Providing a buyout makes people willing to pay much more than a bid-only price. People only bid when they think they're getting a ridiculously good deal (ie, 4 silver for a 12g item). And ridiculously good deals are bad for you, the seller.

List on the weekend. Friday-Monday are your best sales days. More people are on and trolling the AH. On Zuluhed, I never bother to list anything during the week. On larger servers, during the week is reasonable, but on small ones it's just a waste of the listing fee.

Don't Spend Money

If you want to have money, you need to not spend it. What I mean is, you need to save it for those big ticket items you're interested in and not make impulse buys.


I don't see myself as an entrepreneur as much as someone who wants to supply the needs of her server. I see that people will need something and I want to help make it available. Not just to make money, though that's a nice side effect (and I'll list for as much as I can get ^_^), but because I think a happy, thriving server is a server where supply meets demand. So I try to help with the supply end of things.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tales of Begging, or "Wow, That's the High King of Excuses"

I stopped on Plum (77 druid) to grab an herb in the Barrens and buff a level 7 rogue and his friend. Solid, friendly buffs. The kind of buffs that get you a pleasant /wave or /thanks.

"Could we have some gold, please?"

My reply was simple, eloquent, and perhaps a little rude. "Ha," as I rode off.

In my mind, most people wouldn't stop to buff in the first place, but that simple action turned into a ten minute persuasive conversation where he tried to convince me that he hadn't been begging and really did need/deserve gold and I tried to convince him of all the avenues of gold-making open to him.

It went something like this:

Me: Ha.
Him: Why "ha"?
Me: Because begging is funny.
Him: That wasn't begging.
Me: Anything that includes "can you give me gold please" is begging.
Him: Why was it funny?
Me: That you thought I would give it to you.
Him: You're 77, I made like 2000g from 70-80 on alliance.
Me: Then you know how to make gold, or you can send it to yourself from your level 80 through the AH.
Him: My 80's on another server.
Me: You can make gold by gathering.
Him: I don't have the gold to train gathering.
Me: It just takes silver.
Him: I'm 3x experience, I can't even train skills.
Me: I did that on Moon Guard. You'll live. Just work the AH and don't train the skills you don't need.

And so it went. I kept shooting down his excuses and giving him sound money-making advice until he stopped replying. People with the 3x experience bonus might have a lot less gold to throw around, but it's not impossible to make and, really, you're leveling with 2 people and don't need all your latest talents or the best gear to be effective (though it can be a pain, and I'm not arguing that, it's entirely possible to survive).

I've made 1,000g from a small amount of seed money (from my level 60, who also started with nothing) on the Moon Guard pet trade. I told the High King of Excuses how I ran a level 2 to the Booty Bay auction house (from Ironforge) to pick up pets cheap and resold them on the Alliance AH for a 6-12g markup. It was slow, and it wouldn't be nearly as profitable on Zuluhed, but I now have enough for epic mounts for myself and my husband, and HKoE could easily get enough to train his abilities. It'll be harder for him to get the funds to buy mounts at 30 and 60 (I refuse to acknowledge whining about "I can't buy my epic mount" because I'm still riding a regular ground mount on the previously-mentioned level 60, but a regular mount is something I'm sympathetic to). The regular ground mount cost was lowered, and it really is possible to go an extra 10 levels without one (that's how we used to do it, after all), but I recommend one of two options: persistence in making gold or getting to know and befriend someone over a few weeks and asking them for a loan (something you will and had better pay back). Never ever ask for a hand-out. That's cheap.

If you want to make gold, folks, don't whine about how easy it is for high levels and how tough it is for you. Dig in your heels and do the work. There are always opportunities available, and if you learn how to exploit those opportunities (and not the people around you) and continue to practice similar techniques at high levels, you'll make money hand over fist. It's all about taking the time to do it right.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Raid 101, or "How to Get in a Raid Almost Every Time"

Non-Gamer's Guide to This Post

A raid is a large group of people banding together to fight a hard-to-kill boss. You can only bring a maximum of 10 people to some raids and 25 to others, depending on boss difficulty settings.

Healers keep people from losing health and dying.

Tanks have low damage and high defense. He or she keeps the boss's attention (ie, aggro) so that it doesn't attack the rest of the group.

Dps (damage-per-second) attack the boss and put out a lot of damage to kill it quickly.


The What

This one tip will get you into raids a lot more than you otherwise would. It's very simple, takes some time, but is very effective.

Roll a healer.

The Why

The idea is to be willing to fill a slot that your guild is missing. If you're low on healers, going heals is a surefire way to get in and see raid instances.

Dps, on the other hand, is the easiest and most common spec, a dime a dozen, and even being good dps doesn't guarantee anyone a raid slot.

Healing takes a lot of the competition for raid slots right out. I would say tanking does the same, but not so much with the death knight craze.

Tanks and heals are essential to any instance or raid. If you perform one of these essential roles and aren't a nincompoop, you will be taken more often than if you just played dps.

"I don't enjoy healing! Or tanking! Dps is fun!" So sayeth 50 other people in your guild. Good luck beating them for the raid spot.

Prompted By

I read a WoW Insider post and thought about how tough it is for my guild's raid leaders to choose a team. There are so many people signed, they always go back to basics and look at gear and previous performance. A lot of people are pretty equal in skill, so they get rotated per raid based on gear and who's best for the boss, and others are seasoned veterans who would get us where we needed to go if we were that kind of guild, but it usually just comes back to "How ready are you and how well do you fit what we need this raid?"

I'm not saying everyone must go heals, because some people hate heals, but before you start getting upset that you weren't chosen for this or that raid, consider how many dps your guild has (how many of your class your guild has!) and who you're competing with for a spot.

If you've worked hard and tried your best and didn't get rewarded for it this time, put the raid into perspective, calm down, and work on your gear. Patience. You'll get in. It often just takes longer if you're dps.

The Theft Part 1, or "Gone"

I had an idea for another Dusty story the other night and stayed up until 5am working on it. This one will most likely have 4-6 parts.

* By reading this, you agree not to laugh at my lame attempt at a last name or harangue me too badly on errors of lore. Warcraft is property of Blizzard Entertainment. This story is an original fan work and any similarity to other works is accidental because I've never read any Warcraft fiction, either official or fan-made. Details of lore gained from All the World's a Stage guides along with Wowwiki. *


Dustfire Solspinner
The Theft

It took a special breed of woman to withstand boiling summer heat and still make black silk look comfortable.

Dustfire was not one of those women.

Short, curvaceous women were not made for the heat. She slid a look behind her at the wispy troll girl carrying her packages and fanned herself hard with a bit of parchment. Trolls were made for heat. They were bred to it. That was why they made such good laborers. Dustfire envied the girl’s barefoot comfort before deciding that the heat had gone to her head – to think, a woman of her beauty and power envying the help over a few lucky genetic traits! That girl would go her whole life with knobby knees, unmanageable hair, and asymmetrical tusks.

Really, she thought, shaking her head and clucking sympathetically with her tongue, it’s surprising the poor thing gets out of bed at all.

“Dis your place now, lady?” the girl asked, and Dustfire realized they had stopped in front of her boarding house.

Hot and annoyed at her lapse, she said, “Of course it is, stupid. You’ve been here often enough before. Come on.” And she flounced inside and up the stairs to the second floor and her room.

The door fell open under her touch, unlatched, and she stood transfixed in the doorway.

“Oh me,” said the troll girl, looking around the packages in her arms, her eyes bulging. Part of Dustfire’s brain noted it as another unattractive trait, but the rest of her brain had scattered into disarray.

Her room had been ransacked.

“You want I should run an’ get someone?”

Dustfire nodded, but the motion felt wrong, stilted and jerky. Her jaw felt too tight. She vaguely noticed as the girl set her packages down and raced back down the stairs, fleet-footed.

She stepped into the room, took in the wrecked loom by the door, the gaping chest that had held her hand-woven cloth and a few precious magical tomes tucked in the bottom. Someone had turned it over, but nothing spilled out. Nothing remained. The shopkeeper had assured her the chest’s lock was impregnable.

She turned to her bookshelf, noted the lack of tomes, scrolls, and magical apparatus, the remaining items dumped on the floor in a broken mess. A steamy romance novel had splayed on top, the pages crumpled beneath it. She brought a hand to her mouth as she remembered the lexicon of power she’d bought just a few days before and had left tucked behind her books. She’d meant to take it to the city bank to store it properly, had kept telling herself she’d do it soon, a few more days wouldn’t hurt.

Twenty-five thousand gold. Gone.

Sick, she slid her hand to her throat and held it there, as if the pressure would make the feeling go away.

They hadn’t taken any of her paintings, but they’d defaced them. She went to the painting above her piano and touched it, her family portrait marred by a knife slash. Perhaps a restorer could . . .

She whirled. The light in the room hadn’t felt quite right, but she’d attributed that to the mess, to her own sense of horror. She hadn’t thought . . . they wouldn’t have!

The delicate golden birdcage was gone, twisted from its stand so hard that the graceful hook bent at an odd angle. Dustfire grabbed at the piano to steady herself, her knees threatening to buckle. She wanted to sit but couldn’t tear her eyes from the empty space where her pet used to shimmer and chirrup, and the piano stool had been kicked over anyway.

The bright heat of the day beyond the window seemed unreal now, not a part of her. The sky shone so blue it hurt to look at, dust motes shimmered around her and floated to the floor like tiny crashing civilizations.

She withdrew from the sights around herself and steadied the trembling in her legs, annoyed at herself for showing weakness. She picked up the stool and moved it to her writing desk, which still stood in reasonable repair despite the great ugly black splotch covering the left side. Righting the inkwell, the source of the black mess, she fished under the desk for paper and her quill. She ignored the new bend in the quill and dipped it into the ink, carefully plying her round dark calligraphy to the page. The letters came out warped because she couldn’t get her hand to stop shaking, but she kept dipping and writing, methodical, occasionally lifting her head to check some corner of the room and then moving back to the page.

That was how the troll girl found her.

“Quite a mess,” said the guard she'd brought, and Dustfire hated him before she even saw him.

She tossed sand on her parchment to dry the ink and turned, back straight as a soldier’s and eyes just as cool. “Here is a list of the items I’ve lost. I’m not sure if it’s complete, but the most important are at the top.”

The guard took a cursory look at her list and raised a maggot-eaten brow at her. “You put a pet above a lexicon of power?”

She raised her chin and narrowed her eyes, challenging him. “Yes.”

He shrugged like he thought she was stupid. “Okay, then.”

He took a statement from both of them, then from her fellow tenants, and took his sweet time about it. By the time he left, she itched to flay his eyeballs from his skull, to put a pain in his rotting ass, to . . . to . . . to do anything to make him move faster! Didn’t the stupid thing know that someone was getting away right then with her most valuable possessions? Didn’t he know he had to hurry to catch the thief?!

Her hands had curled into claws and she had the feral urge to scratch something.

The troll girl hesitated inside the door. “I hate to be askin’ but . . .” She shifted and looked down at the small decorative box by her foot. Dustfire distantly remembered all the imbued jewels she’d collected over the years and that she’d forgotten to include them in her list of stolen items. “I’ll be needin’ me payment.”

Her hand twitched, and the girl flinched, but she wasn’t going to cast a spell. She touched the money pouch at her belt and noted that it still felt heavy. She still had everything she’d stored in the city bank, including some of her more valuable jewels.

“Yes, of course,” she murmured, pulling the strings open and taking out the appropriate amount of silver. Dustfire was nothing if not a pragmatist. The world continued to turn, services rendered still required payment even if her own life had been turned upside down. She paused and dropped the silver back in the pouch, drawing out a glittering gold coin instead. “Here,” she said, holding it out for the girl without standing.

The girl’s eyes bugged again, but she stepped hesitantly forward to accept it. “It's too much,” she protested. But her hand wrapped tight around the coin.

Dustfire didn’t have the energy to fake a smile. “You fetched the guard, and I kept you longer than either of us intended. I’m not a generous woman, but I’m fair.”

The girl had catered to her too often to argue. Dustfire rarely paid more than the minimum tip for services.

“Let me help clean, den,” she said and, after tucking the gold coin away, she began to straighten furniture and shuffle parchment into neat stacks.

Dustfire blinked. “You’ve been paid for your services. You’re not required to stay.”

“I know.” The girl looked up and smiled a crooked-fanged smile. “But I sees ya brokenhearted ‘bout yer bird and I’m thinking ya need some help.”

“I’m not paying you any more money.” If the little monster wanted more cash, she could go get it out of someone who hadn’t just been robbed.

The girl smiled again and even dared to laugh. “I won’t be needin’ it.” And continued to clean.

Baffled, Dustfire watched her. If she had to be honest, there was nothing left to steal except for her purse, which she’d tucked back into her skirts, or her new packages, which only contained borderline-cheap wine, a replacement pestle, and rich runic thread.

So she shrugged, turned her back on the girl, and began to clean the area under the desk. She’d made her way to the pile of books and broken apparatus when the landlady arrived, fluttering about like an outraged hen and thoroughly damning the cretins who’d robbed the place. Though it most probably made the landlady feel better, it wore on Dustfire’s already frayed nerves. It required an incredible force of will not to say or do anything that could get her kicked out of the boarding house.

The landlady left and eventually the troll girl stopped and surveyed the room. “I tink that's all I can do,” she said, hands on her hips.

Dustfire looked up from where she sat on the floor, her hands on a few unhurt books. There really hadn’t been much left worth saving. The troll girl had had to carry most of it out as trash.

“Thank you,” Dustfire finally said with a nod, still suspicious that the girl would ask for more money.

But the girl just smiled, nodded back, and left.



Part 2: Recruit ---->

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Guild Grouping, or "Anything to Avoid a PUG"

Today I'm going to talk about how to use your guild panel to form a group.

First Step: Tanks and Heals

You'll need to see if there are any tanks or healers on! If you don't have these, you can't do anything, so.

Open up your guild panel and look specifically for any class that can tank or heal: warriors, priests, death knights, paladins, druids, etc.

Right now, you're just seeing who's on, not asking anyone yet.

Second Step: Check Levels

Who meets the level criteria for your instance? Remove anyone from your mental list who isn't at or above the right level.

Third Step: Check Locations

Where are they? A person's location tells you what they're doing almost as well as whispering them.

A city usually means auctioning or leveling a profession or just standing around bored. Feel free to ask these first as they're the most likely to go.

A world zone usually means leveling or helping someone else. Feel free to ask these but they usually don't want to go -- people in world zones are most often specced for dps and focused on leveling.

If someone is in a raid or instance, they definitely can't do anything right now! But it also means they're interested in instancing and might be willing to run something with you when they're done. Feel free to whisper the tank or healer in an instance and ask if they're interested in running your instance after theirs. If you're very lucky, someone will be leaving their group anyway and they'll slip you in.

If someone is in battlegrounds, they're either grinding honor or killing time. Feel free to ask them. If they're in arenas, definitely don't bother them. They need to focus.

Just focus on tanks and healers for now. Don't fret if people say no, or if someone isn't the right spec. Just be polite, keep moving down the list, and keep an eye out for anyone logging in.

If you can't find a tank and healer, you can try pick-ups. Most people would rather not instance than do this. The options are to pug or to give up for now.

Fourth Step: DPS

If you do find a tank and healer, go ahead and ask for dps in guild chat. Dps is the easiest part of the group to fill in because they're the most common. To play fair, I generally invite the first to speak up. If you don't want to take someone in particular who's on, then just whisper the dps you'd be willing to take. More time but less drama.

Fifth Step: Trouble-Shooting

Problem: Everyone's too busy.
Solution: Schedule for a time when they aren't busy.

Problem: They aren't the right spec.
Solution: Offer to pay for two respecs (one to switch and one to switch back).

Problem: They don't like that instance and will never ever run it.
Solution: Find another person or pick another instance.

Problem: They want to run a different instance.
Solution: Compromise and run both.

Problem: No one's on.
Solution: Find out when tanks and healers will be on and try to get in touch with them before then to schedule something. Best resource for information is your guild forum, an officer, or just plain ol' gchat. This is usually more of a scheduling issue than a lack of resources. Half of my guild's tanks and healers don't log on until 10:30pm EST. If you find out when they're most available and arrange your runs around when it's convenient for them, you'll be golden.

Problem: Everyone's on but no one will go.
Solution: Depending on why people won't go, try other avenues. Someone focused on leveling is unlikely to want to instance either now or later, but someone who's just tired of instancing today (or is busy with arenas) will be a likely candidate later. Try and pin down when they're available and either pre-schedule them or try again at that time.

Final Thoughts

People focus on one thing at a time. Most people are unwilling to change their focus if they're on a roll with something they want to do, but that doesn't mean their focus will never change. To make it easiest on yourself, you need to probe into the following:
  • Schedules. When do people log on? Log off? It's pertinent to know how much time they'll be staying on and how pressed for time they are. People with no spare time have none to give.
  • Goals. Some goals don't include instancing at all. Others include it under certain circumstances. Being willing to fulfill a goal with your group will get you an automatic member.
  • Specs. People often change specs -- find out when and why (including plans for endgame) and either catch them at the right time or make it worth their while to change it for you.
  • Reliability. You can do all the legwork to plan something, but if the people you ask aren't reliable, it's a disaster in the making. Some members will show up on time and prepared based on a simple verbal agreement. Others won't. Keep going back to the people who prove they won't let you down, and keep sampling your guild for more reliable people.
It is vital to know your guild's tanks and healers -- who they are, what they want, and when they're available. If you arrange your group so that it's easy for them, the rest should fall into place.