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If you’re like me, you have an addon that lets you know when a rare NPC appears in your vicinity, such as NPCScan.  I’m not into killing every rare that appears on my scope, but I’m always on the lookout for special ones such as Time Lost Proto-Drake or Poseidus, both which drop unique mounts.

Achievements add another layer to the activity. There are at least three achievements in Pandaria that require killing all of one or another type of rare NPC … in the case of this one, ALL of them.

Perhaps I’m mistaken, though, but Pandaria is also where we started to see Neutral Rares … in most of these cases they are friendly or neutral humanoids – Pandarens, Jinyu, and Hozen.

Now, it’s one thing to kill a hostile … it’ll attack you given the opportunity. Or if it’s a neutral of a normally hostile race or faction, for example a Tauren as seen by Alliance.

But Pandaren and Jinyu are usually friendly, don’t attack on sight, and are generally just minding their own business when BANG! Some huntard comes along and puts a bullet in its head!

(I’m ignoring any implied commentary on mogging here.)

Now, I ask you: is this the action of a good person?  I mean, what if they were random Night Elves, Dwarves, and Worgen scattered over Kaz Modan? Has the act of PK’ing *ever* been considered anything other than evil?

It’s so obvious when you see it: achievements are evil, in that they make us do evil things to get them.

Might as well add one for killing your own faction leaders in a raid, while you’re at it.

I’d be a lot less annoyed at this if there were obvious penalties – such as a loss of rep with the relevant factions.  But, just like the undead invasion at the start of WotLK, Blizz has copped out and refused to attach any real consequences to actions that would otherwise be considered immoral or evil.  I guess if it’s "cool" it’s okay, right?

To date, I’ve avoided killing any of the relevant rares that are neutral. It’s simply too far out of character; it breaks immersion.  None of my toons are the sort of people that would go out and kill a non-hostile for no good reason, and something as meta as an "achievement" is no good reason.

I have a strong suspicion that there will be more of this to come in WoD. I’m pretty sure I won’t like that, either.  But I’d love to be wrong.

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One of the predictions I made for Blizzcon 2013 was that, yet again, Blizz would do or say something stupid that would offend women, the LGBT community, or some combination thereof.

Unfortunately, they didn’t disappoint.

Actual Search term: "Warlords of Draenor Wankfest"

It was quickly noted by many that Warlords of Draenor appeared to be quite the sausage-fest.  There were one or two obviously female characters depicted in the trailer, but overall it was all about the bros, big hairy-chested man-orcs swinging axes and riding warg.

Given this presentation, it was easy for many in the audience to feel left out.

For sake of Consistency

This is a little difficult to unwind due to the nature of the expansion.

The story is that Garrosh steals Doc Brown’s DeLorean and goes back to Draenor to the point in time before Grommosh Hellscream drinks Fel blood, and somehow prevents that from happening.  Rather than fall into servitude to the Legion, the Horde becomes united as the Iron Horde.  They’re still gonna attack Azeroth, but now it’s at maximum strength.

WoD Warlords


Sidebar

Given the physical modeling of characters in WoW, it’s already established that male or female, Gnome or Orc, if there is a class that interests you, then sky’s the limit.  A female Warrior dual-wielding two giant chunks of iron on sticks – no problem. And thus, there is no physical reason for any of the major characters to be one gender over another.


Except the big "reason".

See, every one of these Orc clan leaders is a figure of Lore. They already ARE.  It’s obvious that Blizz wants to revisit these lore characters, and so "they must exist as they did in lore". And, unfortunately, these characters were created in less progressive times, when the testosterone-fueled character design studio was fixated on the Noble Savage trope1, so we got a big sausage-fest. 

And "we’re stuck with them."

James Cameron calling on Line 2, Mr. Matzen

Give me a break

Actually, that’s a bit of a cop-out. "We already haaaad them, so we’re stuuuuck with them, we can’t chaaaange it, it would be inconsiiiiiistent!", "they" bleat. That’s the easy, cop-out answer. Technically correct, for sure, but it also ignores one whopper of an important factor.

Namely, history has already been changed. Garrosh effectively undid everything from the First War era onward.  And since they are no longer besotted by Fel blood, he has also changed the history of Orcs on Draenor. With that in mind, it is therefore possible that one or more of the Draenic Clans is under new management. If you accept the "Klingon model" for Orc culture2, then this becomes even more likely. Easy to imagine that one of the clan leaders LUCKED OUT with the fel blood thing being the ONLY thing that stopped him being murdered in his sleep by a slightly less macho, but infinitely sneakier, female clan-leader-to-be.

Given all the variables we DO know, it’s laughably easy to come up with viable scenarios for any of the clan leaders to be supplanted to a woman within or outside of his clan.

I hope for your sake you are initiating a mating ritual

So … nope, not buying it.

They’re doing this because those are the characters they want to revisit.  Too bad they can’t own up to it.

The U Factor

All of this is in spite of what we do NOT know about the story of the expansion. We have heard plaintive cries from Blizz HQ that they are indeed cooking up totally awesome female characters that will blow our nipples clean off, from fifty yards even.

And that’s great, but we’ve been promised many things in the last nine years, and not all of them have come to pass, or were even (apparently) worked on in good faith. Faith doesn’t always require deeds, but it can be broken by (mis)deeds or lack of deeds where they are required. We’ve been told "have faith" multiple times and seen that faith not fulfilled almost as often. Not because anyone is being malevolent – I don’t really think so. But because nobody in a position to make a difference actually *cares* enough to enact positive action to make women or other groups – such as the LGBT community – feel like they’re being included or at least not being belittled – as part of the culture of this game.

As one small example. There was a big blow-up at one Blizzcon over the hateful words of a particular death metal "artist". We were told that Mistakes Were Made and that We Will Make This Up To You.  And yet, in Northrend, you can still find Gorge the Corpsegrinder, a clear tribute to this man.  Years after the event, they have done nothing to remove this tribute.  Is it because they just don’t care, or because they feel we’ll overlook this eventually if they just lay low and not make a fuss.

So on one hand we have the Grand Unknown.  A promise, implicit and explicit, that things to come will make things better. On the other hand, we have a track record of failure to meet those promises with deeds.

It’s lonely Out There

There is nothing worse from a social aspect than being among a group of people that have a strong bond that you don’t share.  All the little -isms that pull cliques together also tend to push us apart. And seeing an activity, show, book, story, or game that has nobody that you can relate to only enforces that feeling.

A game that focuses on alien creatures already removes a potential relation that you might have with them based on species alone.  At that point, all we have are the most ambiguous cues – tetrapod construction, bipedal locomotion, two eyes, two ears a face, and gender. And for 50% of the world’s population, they see one less thing to relate to in the WoD reveal.

Mistakes were made

Unlike the Corpsegrinder incident, we don’t even get a mea culpa out of this one. Why is that? Do they feel that they’ve already paid that pound of flesh and shouldn’t have to all over again? Do they feel that the pro-female3 WoW audience just won’t be happy with anything and have given up? Do they feel that siccing one of their female CMs on to the Twitter community will diffuse the situation without having to actually provide substance? Or are they just so tone-deaf to the point that they should be banned from ever having band instruments?

I’m rather fond of that theory myself.  It beggars belief, but I really do think they haven’t ever gone out of their way to do a good PR review of what they’re about to say at a public gathering.   I have strong doubts that anyone at Blizz has ever pursued training in this area. I have strong doubts that they really think they might even need to consider looking into it.

And our fandom feeds any potential arrogance they might have to the point that they don’t see that they NEED that kind of internal support, so they keep doing it over and over again and then sobbing nobody understands us! when the inevitable backlash comes.

I swear by his pretty floral bonnet, I will end you.

So here’s the thing. They can make press releases after the fact saying that they made mistakes and will try harder to not do it gain, but that’s an empty promise with no measurable goals, so job’s not done until they say it’s done.  They like that level of control.

But until they believe it internally and take real, measurable action to correct what I believe are massive internal cultural flaws at Blizzard, they will continue to talk first, think later, and try to ignore the problem.

I’ve reached a crossroad

I love this game, and I love the people I get to play alongside.  I love the dialogs that get opened, I love the characters I meet (NPC and PC), I love the community4, I kinda like the lore, and I like the potential that the game, ever after nine years, offers.

What I do not like is being lied to. I do not like being treated like an idiot that will keep on giving out my money just "Because We’re Activision Fucking Blizzard, that’s who."  I do not like people saying "we will do a thing" and then pretending they didn’t. 

At the end of the day you can piss and moan about lack of Flight until 6.1 and I’m just going to make faces.  But if you choose to short-shrift an entire segment of population based on gender, lie about it, and then barely do just enough to shut "them" up until the next time, time and time again, eventually I’ll run out of patience.  I don’t care if you’re Activision Fucking Blizzard. 

So I am here at the end of PandaLand-point-four watching to see what they do next.  If what they have coming up looks half-assed, begrudging, or an otherwise insincere delivery on the promise they made in Blizzcon’s wake, it will be too much for me to bear anymore.

And, yes, by Mammon, that is a completely unfair and arbitrary standard that I choose.  But here’s the deal, Blizz. You had the chance to set those standards, to provide measurable milestones to show good faith in this, and you blew it. You have hidden behind a pile of bullshit, and have dared us to tell you it smells like bullshit.

So, this is me. Drawing the lines and setting the standards by which I will judge. This is my story to tell.  And I will choose the setting in which to tell it.


  1. Or, "bullshit", if you’re as fed up with it as I am. []
  2. And there certainly are already plenty of cues there. []
  3. Since I don’t meet someone’s "standards" on this, I won’t claim to be "pro-feminist" anymore. []
  4. Implying a consensual collective as opposed to a blanket thrown an unwilling population sample. MR BEAR. []

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Well, the big Reveal has taken place at Blizzcon, and we now know details of the next expansion.  Hopefully you followed #TeamFaff at Godmother’s liveblog.  I had to bail out right after the reveal because we had our weekly planning meeting at work, and the boss was most unsympathetic to the cause.

Now that the dust has settled, and I’ve had time to breathe, let’s talk about it.

My Scorecard

I made some cheeky predictions, so let’s see how I did!

There will be an expansion announcement and it will be called "Warlords of Draenor"

WoD LogoThat was a pretty easy one, really.  If they didn’t, it would have been ugly. The title this time was given to us by the trademark offices in several countries.  +2 for me.

It will involve a new "lost" continent of Draenor

WoD ZonesIt’s Draenor, Jim, but not as we know it.  Instead of a lost continent floating about in the Twisted Nether, we’re going back to the past. Specifically, Garrosh escapes captivity and through means as of yet unrevealed, journeys back in time to prevent the Old Horde from becoming subjugated by the Burning legion. What we, the denizens of Azeroth, then face is the Iron Horde – the united fury of the Orc clans united and at full strength.

My score: –1 (net total 1)

Alleria and Turalyon will return

No, they won’t. Though, to be fair, the new world of Old Draenor doesn’t have them to begin with. Since the First War didn’t happen, they didn’t get trapped when the Portal was closed.  But THAT is a whole new can of worms, something I’ll exposit in another post.

Score: –1, for a net of 0.

It will involve the Burning Legion

Not so much. While it’s obvious that the Legion will be involved at SOME point, the net effect is that the Orcs turn their backs on the Legion and the power it offers.  But the overall theme of this expansion is All Orc, All the Time.

WoD WarlordsScore: –1, now netting –1.

Ethereals will be the new player race

There will be no new player races.

-1 for me, for a net of –2. Oh dear.

Outland will not get revamped

Technically true, though they do move the door a bit.  Since the history leading to Outland hasn’t happened, Outland becomes an alternate timeline, and thus its entrance is moved to the Caverns of Time.  Which I have to admit, is a pretty good way to deal with it.

I’m going to claim a win, netting me back to –1.

The new level cap will be 100

Got that one right. So we’ll see a realm first Level 100 in 2 days, not 1.1

+1, back to breaking even.

There are no indications of any new classes

Got that one right, too.  This will make WoD the first WoW expansion where neither a new class or race was introduced.

+1, and I’m back in the black.

Release Date: Holidays, 2014

No mention was made of a release date. This is my surprised face.  Though I keep hearing rumors of a Q1/Q2 release timeframe, there is nothing official to back that up that I am aware of.

No points either way.

You face Jaraxxus!

I was close, but he appears in Hearthstone, not WoD.

-1 to zero me out again.

Character remodels

New Female GnomeI totally didn’t call it, but it’s such a big one that I think I deserve to be dinged for missing it. 

And that’s the news: all character races are to get remodels with higher poly counts and a lot of new emotes and expressions. The samples shown – especially for the female Gnome – were amazing.

There IS a tiny bit of drama here, in that it’s stated that there are currently no plans to offer a free appearance change when the changes go into effect. But the door’s been left open just a crack, so let’s wait and see.

-1, putting me back in the red.

Gender Crisis

No WomenEvery Blizzcon, Blizz tends to offend someone, and this year was no exception.  After the buzz died down, people started noting a highly testosterone-driven theme to this expansion.  Female characters, when mentioned at all, were either minor in comparison, or they were told to go home, take care of the baby, and make Thrall a sammich.

I’ll revisit this at some future time.  Other than to say, if you throw your keyboard over this, you know what happens? It breaks, dumbass.  So I guess you showed them.

RedSo I get a point there, bringing me back to even.

The overall results are

As is usually the case with this sort of thing, if you guess wildly the best you can really hope for is 50/50, which I did achieve.  I was wrong as much as I was right.  But I’m not displeased with the result.

And now the other stuff

One of the big things for this expansion seems to be "systems", our friend GhostCrawler’s domain.

There’s a big change to bags and inventory – a lot of items are going account-wide similar to how companion pets are handled now.  This’ll clear up tons of space in our bags. A lot of materials are going from 20 to 100 per stack, freeing more room. And Tabards are a possibility for this, hooray!  Also, quest items, though I’m worried for Archmage Vargoth’s Staff.

Another big "system" change will be "item squish".  Basically, the huge numbers we currently have will be reduced by several orders of magnitude, possibly to double or even single digit values, with some sort of hidden scaling system to keep it manageable.

Related to that, itemization is changing drastically, with most secondary stats like Hit and Expertise going away and primary stats possibly varying by spec, effectively ending the spec-change-shuffle.

Convenience Features

You will be able to bring one character to 90, or "boost", per account.  So if you decide to change to a different raiding main, for example, you won’t have to spend weeks getting up to raiding level. I’ve been pushing for this for a while, because I hate that the lower level zones continue to get gimped in order to make life easier for raiders. Raiding and the leveling game are two different activities, and changes in one should not make life harder or less satisfying for either group.  By allowing a character boost, they provide raiders with what they want without punishing those that are not raiding. Right now, it’s one per account, but I suspect that there will be infrastructure in place to make additional boosts possible as a paid service. And I think that’s a good thing.

This is actually an "in"-convenience feature, but another bit of drama – including threatened or actual sub cancellations – is that flight will not be available in Draenor until at least the 6.1 patch. I’m okay with that. In fact, if they want to get rid of flight completely, I’d be completely behind it.  But a lot of people are NOT thrilled.

Garrisons

WoD GarrisonGarrisons were an unexpected new feature, which more or less amount to a cross between player housing and the Tillers farm. Other trade skills in addition to cooking will be involved, you get minions, and they can do things for you even while you’re offline.  It’s all rather non-specific right now, and it’s hard to get a read on it, but overall it has been well received.

Raiding

WoD RaidsThe big change to raiding is that all levels of raiding will be flex in WoD except the highest form, which will be called Mythic, and serves a step further than Heroic.  The raid difficulty is tuned for 20 players, which Blizz claims is important since tuning at that difficulty will be too complex otherwise.


And that’s a wrap.  I will be revisiting several of these topics in upcoming posts, but I wanted to first set the stage, as it were, for what is to come.  Specifically, I want to discuss the lore, Blizzard’s ongoing PR issues,  the game mechanics that are changing, and probably more lore, because, damn.


  1. Actually, we won’t, because Realm First achievements are being removed from the game. []

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Welp, we enter the week leading up to Blizzcon 2013, and everybody in the twitterverse is all excite. There has been a lot of speculation about what we might see at this fabled gathering this year. Allow me to contribute my hysterical speculations.

What we know

  • 5.4.0 is the final content patch for Mists. What we’re looking at is pretty much as far as this goes for this expansion – it’s the ICC of Pandaria.  Which more or less leaves us to our own devices until the next expansion, which has not been announced at this time. Yes, there is a 5.4.1, for which you have already received a patch (though it doesn’t do much yet). That’s a far cry from more real content though.
  • Ergo if there are any "content" patches beyond 5.4.0, we can probably expect more time-killing activities ala land-of-the-endless-dailies or Timeless Isle (this is more opinion than fact).
  • We also have this roadmap, posted in 2007 and allegedly from 2003 which has proven to be extremely accurate in general terms. You can see all the pieces here, though sometimes they arrive in different order than originally planned. For example, Pandaria was originally going to be a part of a far larger expansion, from the looks of it, which would have included bits of the Cata expansion as well.  I guess what I’m saying here is that looking here for direction is not entirely out of line, based on past experience, but it requires a heavy amount of interpretation.
  • If one goes by that roadmap, we have one major piece not yet addressed – The Burning Legion.

 

Now we Speculate

What follows is a series of thoughts based on what we have seen out in the wider internets. I’m not claiming to know what’s going to happen, but I do reserve the right to crow just a little for each item I get right. :)

There will be an expansion announced

That’s probably obvious to most, but it should be noted that Blizz has not stated that there will be. Reasonably, the announcement will take place on the first day.  What we see is "World of Warcraft: What’s Next" and World of Warcraft: The Adventure Continues" when we look at the Blizzcon schedule.

What we do NOT see is availability of the expansion for playtesting, as we had with MoP.  I do NOT recall if that was actually part of the schedule last time.  It would be helpful to be able to remember.

Given all the above, however, one thing we do know is that we’re done with MoP.  If they don’t announce here, it’ll be at some smaller trade show later on, and I don’t think they’re going to do that to their flagship product.

Ergo, now is the time.

The expansion will involve the Burning Legion.

We don’t have a lot to go on here except for that fabled road map.  Considering its accuracy, I’m inclined to look to it for inspiration.

There is also the fact that many, many of the in-game and out-of-game lore pieces have been very strongly focused on the Legion and things around it.  The adventures of Anduin, for example, as well as Wrathion.  We KNOW the Legion is going to be a huge part of WoW at some point, it’s a confrontation that is being teased in lore and legend and prophesy. Between them and the Old Gods, we’re looking at 80% of what threatens Azeroth. Maybe more.

The expansion will be called "Warlords of Draenor"

I admit this may be premature, in that the trademark was applied for outside the US and only a week before the Con.  However, it does fit in with the story arc we’ve been uncovering.

An alternate, The Dark Below, does have some bearing on the Old Gods thread, but if I remember correctly, that was discredited not long after it appeared in trademark sites.

One should also remember that the same trademark sites have been used for the Warlords title, and take both with a grain of salt.

The expansion will involve a new, "lost" continent of Draenor.

One should remember that Outland was not Draenor, but simply a part of it, one continent on a larger world. Given Blizz’s penchant for pulling entire lost continents out of their electronic butts, doing so on a world about which we know SO LITTLE makes a certain amount of sense.

Also, discovery of this continent leads us to …

Alleria and Turalyon will return

turalalleriaTheory: they found their way onto the lost continent and were either detained or could not find the way back.  After many years of research and hard work, they’ve opened a portal that leads back to the dormant one in Zangarmarsh.  Or maybe Blizz invents some new sort of Twisted Nether transport vehicle similar to a cross between an airship and a sailboat  (The AD&D Astral plane was full of such vehicles, and they were super cool).  After many years and with the assistance of a stranded colony of Ethereals, they have returned in style.

It should be noted that these two have been teased for at least two expansions in the "hints and tips" pane of the loading screen – which is one reason I leave that feature turned on.

EtherealThe Ethereals are a new player race

I’m not sure if they’ll be a new player race similar to the Pandas or not (bi-factional) or if they’ll belong to one faction and some other race fill in for the other.  If the latter, I have no idea who it would be.

It’s all weaksauce regardless. I am basing this on the merest whiff of a hint dropped here and there.

But if they are a new player race, I bet the starting zone is associated with where Alleria and Turalyon were stranded.

Outland will not get a revamp

There was a lot of joyful / hysterical speculation in Twitter especially that Outland would at last get its remodel and quest streamlining.  I doubt this myself because (a) the Cata remodel of Azeroth was not a cracking success and (b) they hate going back to old stuff.

There was the Twitter sub-thread that Outland would be revamped and be NEW content for the new expansion.  I doubt this because then they’d have to fill in the 60-70 leveling gap from bits of Azeroth and/or Northrend, and I doubt they want to do something so complicated.   HOWEVER, I do consider this to be more likely than revamping it "just because". 

The new level cap will be 100

The most blatant clue about this is that several BoA items drop from Garrosh that "require level 90 to 100", which is an odd thing for the tooltip to say if the next expansion is good for only five levels, I think you’d agree.

The less obvious clues are back in that roadmap.  It’s fairly clear from looking at it that bits of Wrath, Cata, and MoP were meant to come together as one large expansion.  For example, Worgen were possibly supposed to be part of the same expansion as Pandarens. And, thus, the remaining pieces do seem to come together as a whole expansion, rather than a mini-expansion such as what we’ve been getting.

There are no indications of any new class

That’s not entirely true.  Consider the Pandaren.  Outside of the roadmap doc, the only reference to Pandaren in game terms was as a practical joke or two. Blizz insisted that there could be no possible way that they’d ever make it into the game as a serious race.

What class has also been likewise the source of jokes and amusement?  Why, the Bard, of course!  So there’s that.

More likely, though, I think we might see another attempt at a Hero Class, this time with less problems than the DK rollout.  Possible candidates: that have been hinted at here and there: Archdruid (from Druid, possibly from Stormrage himself), Archmage (from Mage, possibly from Jaina), Necromancer (Warlock, possibly related to the Green Fire quest line), Ranger (from Hunter, possibly via Alleria), and Vindicator (from Paladin, possibly related to Turalyon)

Since this is such an empty bucket, anything that fills it will be no particular surprise.

Release will be in the Holiday timeframe, 2014

I know, someone once asked me, "surely you can’t expect people to wait 14 months for an expansion?"  This’ll be closer to 12, which is a reasonable cycle but one that is largely devoid of content, nonetheless.

Expect beta testing to be over the summer, with the final polish going on around August.

Will they announce that this is the schedule. Well, they never have before, so I’m doubtful.

YOU FACE JARAXXUS

Crap. Not again.

Seriously, we need the Dance Studio for this one. Obviously.

Anything else?

Probably. I could hope to see things like ink-derived armor dye, but there is no indication. We’ll probably see at least one more trade skill streamlined as Blacksmithing has. But most people will focus on the Big Picture, and who can blame them?

Bottom line is, I have a suspicion about where things will go, but no hard facts to back it up.  Clues are not facts.

I do, however, think this particular story line would be very, very cool.

I’ll be watching this as much as anyone else.  Excite!

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Last week I killed myself.  I enjoyed it.  I had served my purpose, but it was time for me to go, to make room for myself.

Let me essplain.

Way back in the mists of time, around 2010-2011 timeframe, you may recall I abandoned my longtime guild on Alleria to seek out a more amicable raiding environment. 

I ended up on Azuremyst, raiding with the excellent guild Eff the Ineffable, lead by the dopest of all the GMs, Alas the ever-bubbly and yet fearsomest.  We didn’t do too bad and actually managed to drop the endgame boss for Cata while it was still a thing.

Alas and many others – our core raiding team, really – went off to play with lightsabres, and the new management was unable to hold things together and we stalled out on Elegon.

There was talk at that point of joining Alas and a couple of our other former Effers on another server1 and maybe contributing to the raiding there.  But my broken bandwidth and an outflux of players in the new guild resulted not only in no raids but also in Alas and others leaving the game completely.

An empty guild that has nothing but strangers is no fun, and as a result, Grimmtooth hasn’t been in play hardly at all.  Until today.

killing grimmtooth

Grimmtooth Jr has been holding my spot on Alleria since that day that I moved off to AZ. Every saturday, he runs one quest, to ensure he didn’t get marked idle. He started his own guild, he got a bank, he’d been helping to stash and warehouse stuff for the team, but his services are no longer required.  So I killed him.

And now I’m back where it all began, on Alleria.  I don’t expect I’ll get much raiding done – Jasra’s too much in demand – but I don’t really mind at this point. It’s just nice to be back among friendly faces.  Our little social guild may not be a realm-firster, or even raiding current content with success, but every night you can see at least a handful of people hanging out, doing their thing and having a good time.

It’s good to be home.


  1. I’m deliberately not saying which. []

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Hi, how ya been? It’s been weeks, I know! But it’s for a really good reasnon … see, Grimmtooth Actual done went and got himself a job, and it’s been keeping him as busy as a Goblin at a bank vault explosion site. It’s been pretty crazy, is what I’m saying. So time to think, compose, write, and otherwise participate in all things bloggy has been in short supply.  There’s also the fact that with my WoW time somewhat reduced, I’ve had a bit less inspiration to write anything, anyway.

SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT, HIGGLEY PIGGLEY WITHOUT CONSIDERATION FOR ORDER OR PROPRIETY.

FAIRLY WARNED BE YE, SAY I.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Godmother of ALT:ernative is cooking up some Hunter goodness, but, alas, she ran into some sort of obstacle and, sadly, was forced to present this on her site:

[Please imagine that there is an AWESUM HUNTER GRAPHIC HERE, which will appear sometime late Saturday when
I get home to scan the drawing I did especially for the occasion...]

Never let it be said that I wasn’t there for my fellow Hunters.  I present to you: a placeholder.

Huntarr Week

I’m no Picasso, but it does come close to capturing a fraction of the awesomeness that is the Hunter class1.

Meanwhile, head on over there and give the nice lady your support!


  1. I was not drinking when I did this, I promise! []

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Note: this post contains spoilers about a fifteen year old science fiction movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, I have no pity. This is as close to a warning you will get.

It also contains spoilers about the end of Patch 5.2. If you haven’t completed that yet, you probably won’t anyway. Like me.

If you have done the Legendary quest chain to the point where you have slain the Thunder King1 and brought his heart to Wrathion, you get this bit of dialog, amongst others.

Wrathion says: WE HAVE FALLEN. WE MUST REBUILD THE FINAL TITAN. DO NOT FORGET.

I had to think about that a bit. Where have I seen this before?

Oh, yeah.

Lyta

"There is danger. Remember."

"There is danger. Remember."

"There is danger. Remember."

In case this scene isn’t familiar, this is from a Babylon 5 TV movie, Thirdspace. And it kind of relies on you having seen the entire TV series to date, so imma splain. 

No. It is too much. Imma summarize.

The B5 universe is inhabited by many races, one which is an ancient and god-like race called the Vorlons. Nobody knows much about them, and few have ever seen their homeworld. One person, the woman in the picture above, has. Her name is Lyta Alexander, and she is a telepath.  It was revealed in the TV series that she often telepathically communicated with the Vorlon ambassador, Kosh, and "carried a piece of him around" in her head – for what purpose, it is unknown.  But in the past we have seen evidence that certain triggers can activate what is loosely  called "programming" left behind by Kosh – for example, she destroyed the Shadow homeworld2 as it was about to be claimed by the Alliance3 forces.

So when Lyta sees this "Thirdspace" artifact that is the centerpiece of this movie’s plot, she drops into a trance and starts scribbling those four words on the walls of her quarters, over and over again. An embedded warning, we learn, from the bit of Kosh’s latent programming.

Now, if her warning to herself seems somehow familiar, look again at Wrathon’s babbling at the start of this post and tell me you don’t see some sort of parallel.

Why is this significant?  Well, let’s let Lyta explain.

"I tried to tell you. I failed.  Now it is too late. The door is opening."

and

Delenn: "What mistake?"

Lyta: "The first one. The one from which all other mistakes proceed. The error of Pride."4

and

"The saw us as gods. And we, in our pride, began to believe them."

and

"We were so intent on getting out, that we neglected to think of what we might be letting in. Until it was too late."

and

"They are a power beyond comprehension. A hunger beyond understanding. They are anti-life itself."

We’re in tinfoil hat territory, folks.

This is not the first parallel between B5 and WoW. Not by a long shot.  B5 had a prophet named Valen.  We have a prophet named Velen.

Valen was actually a "present-day" human that went back in time to fight in the last Shadow War5 and transformed into a Minbari (an old, wise, race that did not have horns and hooves, but other parallels are there) named Valen, who then led the Minbari to victory, and who prophesied about the NEXT Shadow War, which, coincidentally started up just before he went back in time.

Velen is a Draenai, former Eredar, of Argus.  Or is he? For all I know, he’s Anduin Wrynn, come back from the future.

There are other parallels, but just whetting your appetite there.  Are the Orcs equivalent to the Narn?6  Or maybe the Tauren?  Forsaken = Drazi? Does this cast Jaina as Delenn or Ivonova? Oh, there are so many possibilities – and of course, I’m not saying Blizz is drawing its script from J. Michael Strazynski, I’m just saying that there are notes that I hear in both songs, as it were.

And that’s where Wrathion’s babbling comes in.  His warning – DO NOT FORGET – really smells a lot like Lyta’s warning to herself.  And if that’s a parallel, then what are we saying here – are the Titans cast as the arrogant Vorlons?  Some other force – the Legion, for example? – in the role of the Thirdspace aliens?

And what is the equivalent to the Thirdspace Artifact, then?  Portal’s done. Sunwell’s closed.  The Maelstrom?  Could Mad Deathwing’s demise there have caused something to start cooking? Could somebody possibly drop a benny in the Well of Eternity under Nordrassil?  Well, there are a few possibilities, assuming they didn’t just do something new.  I hear there’s a corner of Stormwind still standing. Let’s open a portal there!

Things to Come

We know from a specific roadmap allegedly from 2003 that the next expansion is likely (by that map) to be "Legion Set", which really ties in well with this. I would not be at all surprised if the next expansion, assuming it’s the Legion Set, opens with Wrathion delivering a dire warning about something that the Dwarves or Goblins or both were tinkering with at the Maelstrom, or maybe the Tauren and Elves at Nordrasil. Or maybe he just flips out and does the deed himself. Either way, the setup seems pretty … convenient.

So there’s that.

The epic struggle at the heart of B5 was the Alliance / Shadow war, or more specifically, the build up to the war, the struggles internal and external, the realization that the Shadow War wasn’t strictly a war against The Shadows, and the discovery that no matter how big you are, there’s always a bigger fish.

While it hasn’t always been front and center, the war between the Legion and the Titans has always been at the heart of things, and unexpectedly, the Pandaria campaign may have just dropped us right back in the middle of it.  We have a pretty strong suspicion that it’s coming, anyway, but this and previous things from Wrathion really do seem to point in that direction.

It’s the end of the Plan as we know it

Blizzard’s never been happy with that post on Allakhazam, especially since it seems to be so accurate.  I’m sure they’ll be happy to get past the Legion expansion, should it happen, so they can venture into territory that we have even fewer clues on. That’s not to say the Titans won’t figure into it again.

As Lyta concluded: "One mistake. One of many.  So many."


  1. Not I! []
  2. Long story, as in 4 seasons’ worth. []
  3. No relation. []
  4. Uh-huh. []
  5. Long story, see above. []
  6. Bat-wielding Narns? []

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The Godmother mused on anonymity in the game space, and Matty riffed on it some more vis-à-vis our virtual personas.  You should go read them.  Go ahead. I’ll be here.  I’m just a digital amalgam of personality traits and pixels.

… or am I?

An underlying theme of this sort of discussion is that games like WoW affords one anonymity, and they feel emboldened to therefore do many terrible things to people around them.  In short, griefers.

This is well summarized in Gabriel’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory, captured so well on Penny Arcade.

Gabriels Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory

I want to focus on that so-called "normal person" for a moment.

What is it about The Internets and a venue that creates this "fuckwad" shell around that person?

If you answered "nothing", you win the prize.

One is never truly anonymous on the internets. One is merely hoping not to be discovered.

In other words, that "normal" person is in fact a total fuckwad, and he just found the means to express himself in a manner that he felt he could get away with.

None of us is truly anonymous.  We can change our names, address, even our appearance, but we are still who we are. If we act up on the internets, well, that’s us.  Pure and simple.

You are everything you do, and that includes the time you were a total douchebag to the loser in the starting zone on the Azuremyst realm.

You may be the greatest raider of all time. You may lead your guild in an exemplary manner and your guildies may gather once a month to sing songs of praise about you. You may write blog posts that make Glenn Greenwald weep with envy. 

But that time you were a dick to a baby space goat … that’s with you for life.

Nobody else may know, but you will.

And it’s not your virtual presentation that gets sullied with this.  No, it’s the real, elemental, essential you that has to carry this around.

The same applies to those griefers out there.

They go day to day being "normal" people, but at night when they think nobody knows them, they’re being total assholes. And that, too, is "normal" for them.

This talk of the duality of the online and offline personality sometimes gets carried away.  At the end of the day, the online personality is actually the offline person, wearing a pixel suit.  I’m not a max-level dwarven hunter.  I’m a middle-aged out of work software tester that also plays several other characters, some of them female, on the same game system.  None of them is me, and yet all of them are within me, come from me, and are expressions of the essential me.

This isn’t a matter of people "becoming" dickwads.  This is a matter of people letting their inner dickwad – the part of them that they were too timid or sensible to let real-life people see – out to play, to be a sadistic, brutish bully.  To be a rat bastard.  To be an illiterate schmuck.

We don’t act this way in real life because we will be held accountable.  Ideas of an improved accountability system should be explored and implemented if we want to see this game improved as a social entity.

[KNOCK AT DOOR]

/Bob opens door.

Man at door: "Are you PunchyBooBoo?"

Bob: "Um …"

MaD: "PunchyBooBoo the warrior?"

BoB: "Um, well, …"

MaD: "PuchyBooBoo the Orc warrior on Medivh realm?"

BoB: "Yes, that’s m –"

/Man at Door punches Bob in the face

MaD: "THAT’S FOR MAKING MY LITTLE SISTER CRY, YOU SADISTIC BASTARD."

 

[A FEW HOURS LATER]

[KNOCK AT DOOR]

/Bob opens door

Another Man at door: Are you PunchyBooBoo the Orc Warrior?

Bob: MOM, IT’S FOR YOU!

Wouldn’t that be grand.

Any time you think you can get away with something awful is a test of your character.  Maybe it’s a twenty dollar bill that dropped from a man’s coat as he rushed past you … you can keep it, he’ll never know.  You found an exploit in the game that lets you use engineer’s grenades as construction devices. Somebody accidentally lists a 10,000 gp staff for 10 gp. You find a lone flagged low-level Hordie in your territory.

This is your time to shine; do the right thing, and all you’ll probably get from it is a sense of accomplishment.  But karmic debt has been repaid, if you believe in such things.

Everything we do in the "real" world and all the "virtual" worlds are just expressions of our true selves. There is no true anonymity.  Just opportunities to temporarily avoid the effects of your actions. Eventually, you must pay the toll.

Exact change, please.

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(Fifty quatloos to the person that knows where that title came from – no cheating with Google!)

It is with a heavy heart we report the retirement of Warcraft Hunters Union and Frostheim’s time at the blogging wheel.

You could kind of see it coming; entries there were light at best.  There was no MoP Hunter Guides for many months after the expansion went live. It was getting a bit dusty and tatty around the edges. 

But there was a robust and active culture of fellow hunters there that just couldn’t be beat. 

He and I didn’t always agree on things.  But, you can’t really engage as a writer without, as he says, having an opinion.  He’s no BRK, and thus sometimes his opinions were delivered with a bit less subtlety and a lot more noise.  Then again, nobody ever WILL be BRK, just as there will never be another Frostheim.

I’m not sure where our next premier site of Hunter Goodness will be.  What I do know is that the Hunter class is just too awesome not to have one before too long.

I’ll see you there when that happens, and we might even bump into ol’ Frosty.

Stoke me a clipper.

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