Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dustfire's Introduction, or "A Story of Two Women Getting Catty"

The point of role play is to tell a continuous, impromptu story with your character by acting as if you are your character. A lot of fan art and fan fiction crops up in role play guilds.

So, since I'm a professional writer, I finally fell to the urge to write about my characters, particularly Dusty since she's not on a role playing server and I have no other outlet for her. I figured you wouldn't mind my posting the snippets. Some of them are sections of the same story, some are stand-alone, but all should link together to describe her.

This story was written for a guild contest. You had to write something that presented your character's background.

* 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. Some things I just make up for fun. Nevari is property of my sister-in-law. 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

“I didn’t think you could read.”

“Nevari.” Dustfire shut her book, stood, and smiled. In a sickly sweet tone, she asked, “Who let you in?”

Nevari ambled forward and kissed the air beside Dusfire’s cheek. “Always so clever.”

Dustfire lowered her lashes. “Not half as clever as you, I’m sure.”

“Me too. Is this what I think it is?” Nevari approached an elegant birdcage by the open window, the occupant asleep and glinting gold-red. Dustfire remained in the center of the room, leaning gracefully against a high-backed chair as she watched the other woman make cooing noises at the cage. “You finally got one. Didn’t your father used to work with them? He was a stable hand for Kael’thas or something?”

Dustfire tossed her head. “He was the best phoenix breeder in the world. Kael’thas used his animals for his own personal mounts.”

“Yes, well, that’s not happening anymore, is it?”

“No. Obviously.”

They smiled at each other.

“Anyway,” said Nevari, “I just came by to see your new situation. I heard it was just the quaintest room.” She glanced around at the red and gold furniture, bookshelves filled with magical books and apparatus, small piano tucked against the wall, and an equally small loom by the door. The woman who ran the boarding house made the meals, and everyone ate in the dining room downstairs.

Nevari studied the painting above the piano in particular – it was one of the few things Dustfire had managed to save from the war. Everything else had been looted or burned.

A short woman sat with a red-haired child beside her, and a taller man stood with his hand on the woman’s shoulder. Each family member had a small ruby phoenix pinned to their lapel, and a large, dark cat lounged at their feet in a red collar.

“Is that a druid?” Nevari’s smile dimmed in the wake of surprise, and Dustfire felt her own mouth relax into something sly.

“Yes.” Enslaved kaldorei druids were very rare in the pre-war Silvermoon – it was most popular to trap them in cat form with an enchanted collar – and only the richest and most powerful of families had one.

It was rumored that Kael’thas had five.

Still, Dustfire’s father had worked for a living, and no matter how rich they grew, no matter how many druids they could have bought, the quel’dorei aristocracy would never have recognized them as equals.

Nevari had been born an aristocrat. Though she had been too young to remember the times before the war, her parents had survived long enough afterward to instill her with something of what her birthright meant.

The war had almost leveled the playing fields. Every family had had to work to rebuild their lives, their families, their fortunes. But still . . .

“Well, it’s a cute place. And so fortunate for you that your little boyfriend – what’s his name? Vranesh? – could afford it.”

“I paid for it myself, actually. And I’m quite over Vranesh. He never was anything more than a toy.”

“Ah.” Somehow, it sounded condescending.

Nevari had several inches on her. She had a title that didn’t mean anything anymore, coffers a little plumper than her friend’s, and the well-bred arrogance of her family.

But, Dustfire thought with a wave of triumph as they continued to smile those fake little smiles at each other, she beat Nevari in beauty. Nevari had the tall, angular darkness that made men nervous, whereas Dustfire’s sultry curves produced results.

“Well,” said Nevari, adjusting her gloves, “I should go.”

Dustfire opened the door for her. “It was lovely seeing you.” As she held it: “Give Manasseh my love.”

Nevari shot her a poisonous glance then smiled brilliantly. “I’ll have to come by again soon.”


Dustfire shut the door and leaned against it, letting out a long breath.

She’d be counting the days.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Crashin' Losers, or "/LOL Gets You Left Alone"

So I'm on my draenei mage, who doesn't want anything in the game except to be a high level mule for Birdfall. And I pick up the Christmas presents under the Ironforge tree because the pets don't bind to a character and I wanted to get as many as possible for my girl this season.

So one of the presents gives you that Crashin' Thrashin' Racer that is required for the big holiday achievement -- you have to crash into someone else's racer 25 times. So I pull my mage's C.T.R. out for whoever wants to crash into it (like my husband will do for me later). And this guy keeps crashing into it, so I figure he's going for the achievement. I keep putting it back down and lining it up for him.

And then he /lol's at me.

Like I'm an idiot who doesn't know what to do with her new toy and he's taking advantage of it and making me look even dumber.

So I put my C.T.R. up and log to get pets on Dusty.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas, or "You Didn't Think I'd Leave You With Nothing All Week?"

I have the ability to give you posts even without the internet. It's magic! Or, rather, Post Options. I can schedule a post to show up on a certain day and time. :)

I think we've been sorely lacking in fun screenshots. Who else is with me?


Fun with Names


Sure, why not.

Names you can trust.

Kind of Awesome

Very Awesome


That's a lot of angry!

HOW do you pronounce that, again?


Fun with Chat

Hanging with My Peeps

Coming up with a guild slogan. Sort of.

Officer Chat

The last two probably need disclaimers. The guy who needed the "Smart Stick" isn't very active in our guild anymore and anyone from IVV doesn't need to worry about it, the raid leaders were just reeeally frustrated that someone wasn't catching on/paying attention/prepared at all, and I thought this exchange was particularly funny -- and representative of the work they have to put into people sometimes. The butt-hugging is a raid leader talking in Vent about staying close behind mobs in Gruul's, the ones that charge. I really couldn't help quoting it just to screenshot. ^_^;

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Incommunicado, or "RL Holiday Quest"

Birdfall Accepts Quest [Christmas]

Quest Items
  • Airplane Tickets, BOP, Duration 24 Hours
  • Luggage, BOE, Duration 1 Week
Quest Pickup Buff/Debuff
  • Family Time Aura, Duration 1 Week
  • Internet Silence, Duration 1 Week
Quest Rewards
  • Exhaustion Debuff, Cleansable
  • Rare Drop Items: A neck "of the Lion," some buff food, some crittur toys, and a trinket that produces PEZ on use. Lots of gold, since my mother didn't have time to shop.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Greed, or "Everyone Wants the Best Toys"

Legendary items are the rarest items in the entire game. They are holy grails, gained through the extensive, repetitive effort of many people. Everyone wants them.


I told my husband tonight that I wish we had a quantifiable way to measure how much a person wants something. If such a measurement existed, I would push two simple rules for who could roll on Legendary items or rare status items the first time they drop in a guild:
  1. Loyalty to the guild insofar as he or she would never leave (measurable, though not infallible, by tracing strong personal connections and how invested those connections are in the guild).
  2. True desire for the item, not just as a status symbol or to complete a collection but for the item itself. This is partially measurable in how much a person is willing to go through to attain the item.
The problem with #1 is that it wouldn't be fair to members who perhaps aren't as invested in the guild as we would like but who meet all requirements to roll -- there's no way to restrict a roll to the people we trust never to leave, not without destroying our reputation.

The problem with #2 is that there isn't any way to measure who wants something more. Desire for an item can come from ignoble sources such as competitiveness or the high you get when you can lord something over the people around you, though that is not the kind of desire I would ever want to reward. I want to see the people succeed whose desires are pure, who truly love the item they're after and who love it above all, no matter its rarity or commonality.

For example, everyone and their brother has a Phoenix Hatchling, but it's the only pet I use on Dusty. Because it fits her. On the other hand, nobody on my server has an Ashes of Al'ar, but it's what I've wanted most in the game since I heard it existed.

Ashes is like a Tickle-Me-Elmo in 1996 -- something people will break bones, banks, and hearts to get. Some people want it because of a true, sincere love for the mount itself, its beauty and grace and extensive RolePlay possibilities. Others want the status of owning one, want the completion it adds to their collection, or the ability to sneer at the little server peons who don't own one.

Do I think that people who want it less or want it for ignoble reasons don't deserve to get it? Yes. Simply put, it takes a year and potentially a 10-man group (we'll see) to farm just one. I can't block people from putting in the effort to acquire it and getting rewarded with a chance to roll, but I do believe that anyone unable to meet my criteria doesn't deserve it. At least, not the first drop.

And while, yes, it's true I don't want other people rolling on "my toy," and that factors into my feelings, I don't think those feelings are wrong. I don't think it's wrong to want to keep something I want so much within the family. It would physically hurt to see a Legendary weapon go to someone who doesn't have a lot of guild loyalty, or who rolled for it on a lark, when you would cut off your right arm for it. Likewise, it would hurt to farm an Ashes for a year just to see someone who has farmed every other rare mount in the game come along for the ride, meet the minimum requirements to be able to roll, and then yank it out from under my nose.

It would physically hurt.

But, alas, like with Legendary weapons we must be fair. There are no quantifiable ways to measure either loyalty or desire, to put them into solid numbers, which is perhaps a good thing, since the people with the lowest numbers would just give up, figuring they didn't have a shot to begin with.

So, in the end, I'll just have to pray, take a sedative, and /roll like everyone else.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Winter Veil 2008, or "Ho Ho... Yes, Okay, We Look Like Hoes"

But that doesn't mean we don't look good.

Winter Veil starts today and lasts until January 2nd. Feel free to look at last year's post for any details I'm missing here. Editing as I experience new things.



The clothes do not bind to your character -- you can get an outfit and boots from the auction house or borrow them from a friend. The hats, however, are bind-on-pickup and drop from random world mobs (rare) or Northrend instance bosses (100%).

One awesome thing is that while horde tailors get green winter suit patterns and alliance get red, the patterns are available on neutral vendors, so you can run into Orgrimmar or Ironforge and pick up the opposing faction's color. It's bind-on-pickup so you can't run in a non-tailoring alt, either, but I got it on a level 62 with only four deaths. Just keep going in and watch to make sure the patrols aren't right next to you when you rez the last time. (Shift-V helps.)


Tips and Tricks

/kiss at a Winter Reveler (available inside all the inns) once an hour for items you need for the achievement. Snowflakes & Mistletoe, specifically. The debuff only counts down while you're logged in (verified by a GM, though GM's have been wrong in the past). It's an extra-huge "screw you" from Blizzard, imo, because I could be farming runecloth on my tailor or, I don't know, doing some RL work instead of waiting around logged in hour after hour for the 30% chance a stupid Reveler will drop what I need this time around.

Of course, you can always turn into a gnome with the Wondervolt Machine and try to get your 50 honor kills in a battleground while you wait--though, of course, after you die instantly, you get to leave the battleground, suffer the deserter debuff, and reapply the gnome buff from the Wondervolt Machine, since dying removes it.

Great job, Blizzard. /golfclap



Title Reward: "Merrymaker"

Recipes: Egg Nog, Gingerbread Cookies, Hot Apple Cider: Bought from Smokywood Pastures Vendor. Must cook these up during the holiday. Requires 325 cooking skill.
  • Might as well grab 5 small eggs, dropped in almost any starting zone and 1 milk (Orgrimmar vendor, Ironforge vendor) for the Stuff Santa's Face quest. That quest isn't required for any achievement, but you're making them anyway, right?
  • Farming small eggs during Winter Veil is a lucrative option for lower levels. They're going for 45-50 silver each (Moon Guard) due to the holiday.
Snowflakes: /kiss a Winter Reveler (available in inns). Repeatable every hour. Non-soulbound, so you can farm them on several characters, but they disappear after 10 days and you can't auction them.
  • Instead of tossing them on all the races, like you had with pumpkin heads, these require a specific race-class combination!
  • I recommend: major cities of your faction, battlegrounds (AV for the largest selection), and starting zones.
  • If you have a friend willing (and able) to make opposite faction classes for you, you can always run out to that starting zone. This is easiest on Normal servers (as opposed to PVP servers).
Crashin' Thrashin' Racer: "From the Christmas Presents." Once I find one, I'll let you know. Probably not available until the 25th.

Greench Quest Chain:

  • Start with Stolen Winter Veil Treats (pick it up in Ironforge/Orgrimmar and head to Alterac Mountains). By completing this, you'll get a Winter Veil Disguise Kit in the mail, which you'll want to use in Dalaran during the holiday and dance with another person wearing their disguise kit.
  • Get the followup that has you kill the Abominable Greench. He's a 36 elite that respawns instantly in one of three locations near your snowman guy. (I learned that horde don't understand that /point /beckon means "Follow me, he respawned over here." *sigh* I was being all helpful!)
  • Go turn it all in.

Ogri'la Attunement & Holly:
  • Preserved Holly is AH buyable and no duration -- it's a reward from the Metzen quest.
  • Fresh Holly is what you get from /kissing a Reveler and has a 7 day duration.
  • Either of those is useable for this achievement, which must be performed during the holiday itself.
  • Bomb Them Again! requires a flying mount (of any speed) and also the Ogri'la Attunement, which means killing several 5-man bosses is now pretty easy.
Open a Present: They'll become available from the 25th to Jan 2nd.

9 for alliance, 3 for horde.
  • Received from the hourly /kiss at a reveler (in the inns).
Required Clothes

  • 1 red or green hat - Bind-on-Pickup guaranteed drop from any Wrath instance. Rare drop from any world mob.
  • 1 red or green clothes - The pattern binds to tailors, but the outfits themselves don't bind at all ever.
  • 1 boots - Leatherworking. Like the suit, it doesn't bind.
1 Snowball: Smack King Bronzebeard (A) or Cairne Bloodhoof (H) in the face with it.

Metzen Quest: Complete by rescuing him in either Tanaris or Searing Gorge (either will work, so pick the one you're closest to). Level 40 quest.
  • Keep at least one Graccu's Fruitcake from the gift you'll get in the mail. You need to eat it during the holiday while wearing your 3-piece holiday set.
Little Helper: Use a Wondervolt machine (just step in, all cities should have one) and head into a battleground.
  • Get 50 honor kills while holiday-gnomed.
  • Gnome effect disappears upon death.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bandage Shirts, or "Wrath is an RP Wonderland"

Angelique Butler in Dalaran is the First Aid Supplies vendor. Her wares include two very interesting shirts: Wound Dressing and Antiseptic-Soaked Dressing.

Both look like bandages wrapped around your torso and arms, though the Antiseptic-Soaked looks like bloody bandages. Lots of fun. :)

There's also a shirt vendor in the center of Dalaran called Karadonna. She has a nice little screen behind her if you don't want to strip your character down in full view of the door while you try on shirts. Her shirts are elegant blood-elf-inspired creations and very expensive.
  • Filigreed Doublet: Long-sleeved shirt with elegant embroidery details available in different colors.
  • Filigreed Shirt: Short-sleeved shirt with elegant embroidery details available in different colors.
  • Martial: Just like the orange martial shirt, but in new colors.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Glasses, or "Yes, I Wear Them IRL, But This Is The Metaphorical Kind"

I usually don't write response posts to other blogs, but something got me thinking. Since I already wrote a long reply to the post itself, this will be less of a reply and more of an in-depth piece on how the subject affects guilds. My take will be more preventative, and the post I reference is more about dealing with situations you're already in.

What Made Me Think

Pink Pigtail Inn is written by Larisa, an older woman who, to me, is the epitome of the casual, sensitive gamer. She always has the welfare of other players in mind, and she worries about letting other people down. She does not take well to gamers who act harshly toward others, and I get the impression that this frustration stems from a self-conscious fear of being judged harshly herself.

The post I want to reference is a defense of players who come across as incompetent and get verbally abused because of it. Larisa chastises people who refuse to see beyond play skill to the person underneath, and suggests that a sincere and sensitive beating heart could very well be under the muck-ups of someone you're pugging with. Larisa most likely identifies with people who are yelled at for their mistakes, probably more due to her own sensitivity than much experience being yelled at herself (self-conscious people are often the ones who try hardest not to stick out and therefore rarely make mistakes). She suggests seeing other players through pink lenses (ie, rose-colored glasses, or optimism) instead of steel lenses (ie, cynicism).

The Problem With Lenses

The thought occurred to me after my reply that if you're seeing the world through any sort of colored filter, you probably aren't seeing it as it truly is. This isn't to say that I don't agree with a healthy dose of optimism or that I think Larisa is wrong in her stance that people should be more patient with those who don't know how to play, or that I think she was wrong to recommend pink filters to people who have too much grey. It just means that I thought it important to point out, for the sake of covering every angle, that I don't think everyone is as kind and honest as she is, and it can be dangerous even in WoW to be too optimistic about people.

If I were to see the game through lenses, I would pick lenses as close to clear as possible. Clear does not mean colorless -- it means an even balance of both optimism and cynicism. It means being able to see when people are trying to do their best and when they're trying to hurt you, so that you can act accordingly.

The Dangers of Cloudy Vision

I was recruitment officer for my guild for most of 2008. We just removed the recruitment position, as we aren't taking recruits who aren't connected anymore (i.e. yes spouses, no walk-ins), but it left me with a lot of experience in making judgment calls on people when I only have a limited amount of information on them.

The danger I reference is simple: if you trust everyone and let them in, someone will mess with your guild. If you trust no one and let no one in, you cannot grow or make new friends. As recruitment officer, I was considered The Gateway. I was our defense against people who would ninja the guild bank or use us as a stepping stone to a serious raid guild. I was not a defense for myself but for my guild. And if you love your guild and want the best for it, that is a sacred duty.

More than keeping out people who would ninja the guild bank, I considered it my personal mission to keep out the selfish, people who wouldn't break the rules or be "bad members" per se, but who would use our resources (be it items or people) without giving back. Which was very hard to detect, and I'm sure I sometimes erred on the side of caution.

The hardest part was the social aspect -- trying to decide if people would fit. More than protecting our guild resources, I had to protect our guild soul -- our community essence, which is our most precious resource, beyond anything we own in the guild bank. This meant determining if the player in question would be a surface-level player, someone who would be a decent member but never really invest in us the way we wanted, and thus protect the guild's heart from being broken when they found somewhere they preferred. I also had to try and detect if someone would be socially unstable, another hard-to-anticipate danger that we tried to circumvent by requiring member recommendations.

I had to protect the guild from the people who might have injured us in the long run, and I had to gkick failed trial members -- only two, actually: one a constant beggar who would have kept taking and taking (someone saw this 12-year-old a few months after the kick, in Orgrimmar, begging for gold for his level 30 mount), and one who failed the social qualifications (talked over people trying to do Arenas, often failed to follow the "no bad language unless your group says it's okay" rule, got on people's nerves, and was finally considered too set in his ways to try to work with).

Screening potential members required the clearest sight I could possibly muster. I believe I did well. I did my best. But I think clear sight is important whether you're in a simple instance where the stakes are low or a guild where the stakes are high. I know who in my guild has the clearest lenses on their eyes, and I always go to those people for help and advice. Because I know I can get an answer that is true as well as just.

Officers who cannot see clearly will cause drama instead of maintaining balance. They will see conspiracy and foul motives without proper evidence, or they will see innocence and offer absolution when the member has not actually been cleared of guilt. An officer core should be like a panel of judges -- clear-headed, trusting in proof and evidence and rational discussion rather than running high on emotions and fear.

Members who cannot see clearly, especially in a guild where the officers do, will not be consulted for opinions in touchy situations or fully trusted when that opinion is offered, though their feelings will be considered. Often these members are the ones who make the situations worse rather than better, because they jump to conclusions and then jump to defend their conclusions. Members who stay calm in a crisis make things easier for officers to do their jobs.

How Can You Tell Intentions?

Nuances like word choices, tone, or the little details people drop without meaning to can help you make informed decisions about people you've just met. Very few people are able to lie convincingly in writing. There are always clues, particularly in little addendums that seem to be stream-of-consciousness. Whether it be deciding if an applicant cares more about gear than guildies or figuring out if a guy wiped the raid on purpose or not, the details a person drops without thinking are always useful in figuring out their state of mind.

Understanding why a person is acting the way he or she is, why they're saying the things they are is key to knowing how to deal with them. When people are upset, for example, they often blow up about little things that don't matter and have nothing to do with the reason they're upset. Figuring out the root of the problem is just like figuring out the root of an applicant's intentions in joining your guild. You just have to examine the situation closely and look for keys to the explosion -- few people are so unreasonable that they'll go off on a fellow guildie for being late paying them back, but if the two guildies have a history of one taking advantage of the other, then it isn't the lateness that is the issue -- it's being taken advantage of. And unless the officers address the real issue instead of just the one occurrence, it won't stop being a problem.


This has been enough of a monster post. I'll release you now. Be free!

Birdfall to Barry?, or "Paid Face, Skin, and Gender Changes"

Everybody's reporting this, but it's the sort of thing we like here, so my apologies for the redundancy.

You can now pay to change everything but your race and class. I'm actually surprised about the gender change thing because I thought they'd said they'd never do it, but I'm definitely not complaining. I know a lot of people will want to fix their gender if they made the mistake of rolling males.

This is an interesting time for Role Players who might have given up on a character because their story didn't work out -- it wasn't too long ago that they had to completely reroll if they decided they couldn't RP with the character they'd leveled. Now they can take old, abandoned characters and completely reform them.

In other news, 3.0.8 PTR Notes (source: MMO-Champion) announce that race restrictions for mounts are being lifted. Taurens can ride anything horde and anybody alliance can ride mechanostriders. Very nice changes. Thanks, Blizzard!

Also, there's a 100-pet achievement that awards a fawn. I'd been hoping for a murloc, so this is actually disappointing to me. At this time, it is not possible to collect 100 pets even if you buy all the buyable ones outside the game, so we'll be seeing a lot more implemented in-game. Keep up with WarcraftPets for the latest pet news, as I don't cover even half of the available pets.

Editing this to add a note about the 100-mount achievement that awards 2 dragonhawk mounts (red and blue). As there are not 100 mounts available at this time, we'll be getting a lot more mounts soon, I bet. :) Here's hoping WarcraftMounts keeps on their toes.

In other other news, MMO-Champion also reports Pack Mules, which allow you to access your bank from anywhere. They have not yet been implemented, but they'll be a HUGE convenience when they are. Sucks that a lot of people already spent their gold on the mammoths. I expect the mules will be even more expensive.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hot Epix, or "What Do You Mean, Stats? Look at How CUTE It Is! XD"

This is by no means an exhaustive list. :) It's just a few things I think are particularly nice or underrepresented as outfit choices. I don't have many resources to look at the new things in the game, so there's only one Northrend piece, the Moonshroud Robe.

[edit] Once WoW Model Viewer is updated for Wrath, I might make more of a collage out of these outfits and add a few more. I'll just edit this post for it, but I'll add a temporary "new" post about the change.