Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Skunked...

Did you know that your feline familiar will be pursued amorously by the pet skunks?

True (love) story:

video

Theme song: Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town, written by Mel Tillis, performed by Cake

It's our density. Er. Destiny.

The primary conflict and themes in Toy Story are a clash of cultures, in a sense, and of feeling outdated and obsolete. Woody's big question is how does he remain relevant and desired in a changing world?

Well, huh. I don't know, Woody. But you sure do rock that cowboy hat, and your manners are impeccable.

It's no secret that the shiny new raygun in town is SWTOR. I am not buying a PC to play this game. I have one provided to me by my work, and my old Dell has been put out to pasture. I have nothing against PC products. I am not a Mac cultist. It is what it is. I am a consumer with a limited budget. The twinge is there, though, and resentment over the EA big-wigs. Even Anexxia has packed up her bags: http://www.furlinedteacup.com/bibleofdreams/2012/01/gone-fishing.html

I have been playing WoW for just under two years now. I got in on the tail-end of WOTLK, and just started figuring things out and raiding recently, just in time for me to have a hissy fit and leave my casual raiding guild. (And let it be known, like a bad but sexy boyfriend, I do miss them.)

Currently, I have four level 85s: Mataoka, the Shaman (who needs tattoos, by the way); Luperci, Who Is Not A Fail Tank; Zeptepi, Conflicted Angel; and Haanta, Hunter  PVP'er. (Rogue and Fire Mage, 70/65 respectively, coming up through the ranks.)

Not a single one of them has killed the Lich King, Ragnaros, or even Deathwing (LFR doesn't count). (Sorry about switching in third person there -- even I think that is a little odd, and am not sure how to resolve it.)

But this isn't about me, or players who predominately spend their avocational time with other games. This is about those we (players) love to hate: Blizzard employees.

I don't know a lot of Blizzard employees personally, but I do know [sic]. And I know game designers for other products. They are some of the hardest working people I know. They work endlessly, leaving behind family vacations, time and time again, often sleeping in their offices, eating bad junk food, not getting enough sleep or exercise. If I gleaned one thing, one important thing from Blizzcon, (other than tall Scottish men can rock a cosplay Draenei female), is that these employees do care, and are trying to make us happy. (Whether or not they should, or can, well, I'll leave that to you to judge.)

Have it on record, I do not work for Blizzard. I wish I did. I think Tome and I could be a force of nature when it comes to creativity, ideas, and desires of their changing demographic; but, is it really changing, and if so, for the better?

Young padawan druid tells me there are three types of players now; I won't use his exact wording because it's fairly chocked with the arrogance of youth. They are not flattering portrayals. But he agrees with me that one thing Azeroth has gotten right is a chance to create the kind of game a player wants within the confines of the fatigue map.

Perhaps it was and is inevitable, that players will seek new adventures, to boldly go, wait...sorry. You know what I mean. When Buzz Lightyear hits the birthday party, of course a few green army men are going to be lost in the scuffle, and a slinky dog or two bent out of shape.

But to me, I see Woody and Buzz working it out. All I ask is that players don't trash Blizzard on the way to the next galaxy, or the players who prefer hauberks and pauldrons to Tang and Velcro. It's not Blizz's fault I'm feeling kind of left kind of holding the proverbial embersilk bag: there are still plenty of things to do, adventures to be had, and sites to behold. If a noob like me can figure most of it, there is hope for the newer players, too, right?*

"So You Want to be a Game Designer?" TechNews World


*Senor and Guarf: remember that green-horned goat-girl with tail perpetually in trouble? She wouldn't trade your friendship for all the honeymint tea in Northrend.

Theme Song: Sympathy for the Devil/The Rolling Stones


And of course:

Monday, January 30, 2012

B&B

There is nothing that compares to the warm, safe bed & breakfast with nearly invisible innkeepers, like magical candlesticks and teapots waiting to serve your every desire.

Matty needed such a place after a long, exhausting day. She fought violently, raging--not sure at what, but everything and everyone looked like a target, and she was a nocked bow. The day took all her sanity to stay calm. She barely succeeded.

An unassuming place...not an inn, but somewhere she could stay for the next few hours, undisturbed.




Hoping no more bears were nearby.


She left some porridge outside the door, just in case.

Fe-mail gear...

I have had a lot of fun putting together pret-a-porter looks for Luperci and Zeptepi, but was noticing yesterday Matty is looking a bit shabby. 

So, sometimes, a girl. Just needs. To go. 

Shopping.

So, TO THE INTERNET!

I searched Google, and came to this link: Illustrated Mail Transmogrification Guide


See the War Paint Set? I have the leggings, but they look a bit odd without the rest. So...onward. Although I do think the Brackwater set would look lovely on our Suicide Blonde Matty. 

I have never been much of a shopper, at least a social shopper. I tend to treat shopping malls like a coup d'etat, and I'm the guerrilla war-farer, an assassin. I work alone. I have a list, I know what I want, and I know where to get it. Bam! But, this transmog stuff is going to require a bit of research, and right now I'm feeling super lazy. So, in the meantime, I'll keep on my sweats and hope I don't bump into anyone I see at the grocery store dungeon, and at least put on some lipstick. 

Looks like I'll be going to Blackfathom Deeps, right next to the Jamba Juice and Lego Store.

Which lead me to this blog: http://disciplinaryaction.wordpress.com/ --also pretty cool. 




And, I'm sorry. I am really sorry.

Theme song: Barbie-Girl

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Human condition.


Cyrme from Bubbles of Mischief has a fantastic, educational, informative, and articulate blog (all things I am not) where she's covered everything that is superlative about Azeroth. 

She's probably covered this concept, too, and any more insight she has would be well received.

One thing that keeps the Well of Eternity from running dry is not the limp Illidan dialogue, but the fact that for a short while (if all goes well with the Queen Azshara fight) I get to be a Night Elf instead of a Draenei for a bit. Though the good designers draw me with two green puffy ponytails that resemble overzealous-chlorophyll-blasted ferns, I still get to do aerial somersaults with the greatest of ease, a feat I can't do on my other feet...er, hooves.

Now that I'm leveling up Ceniza the Cindergirl, I went into Escape from Durnholde.  I went from fuchsia-haired Night Elf to a blonde hottie, and we all know how gentlemen prefer blondes. I asked what happens to Taretha, and it's not pretty, however.

But now I'm back to my raspberry-roots and jumpy-jump skills.

Tiny Story Time: Burden

Luperci threw off the heavy plate gear with a thundering finality. Startled from her reverie of an amazing tome, Matty almost snapped in anger at her sister’s rudeness. But then she looked at her face.

“I just can’t do this anymore, Matty. I can’t.”

Just then, the cat brought in his catch, a huge Stormwind rat, and dropped it at Luperci’s feet, sauntering away in triumph.

“Look, even the cat has more success than I do!”

Matty put her book down, and removed herself from the wide, warm cushions, that wrapped her like a lullaby. Luperci was in distress: that much was obvious, and did not require a sensitive shaman to figure that one out.

“What can’t you do anymore, Lupe?”

And, as if a second set of invisible armor was lifted and tossed, Luperci laid down another burden. Her sweet cinnamon face folded in tears, though Matty could tell she was trying to still hold them in, that crying was something she wasn’t used to doing.

“Day in, day out, doing nothing but escorting ungrateful trogs to and fro. No matter what I do, it doesn’t seem to matter. I never hear a word of gratitude, or even, well, nothing…and…”
Lupe wiped her now soaking face with the back of her hand; Matty handed her a cloth, and set her down on the warm chair.

“…This guild we are in, Matty, I am sorry to say, but I don’t fit in there. Some of our guild mates are so, stiff and proper, and dare I say, awkward? And that is saying something, coming from me!” Luperci weakly laughed.

Sniffling, she continued, just relieved to pour her heart out. “Matty, I hear more in what they don’t say than in what they do, like they’re constantly judging me. The things they say in battle, Matty, the derision…I feel they are a council of strangers who are not interested in me, or my offerings.”

Matty sighed, and frowned. She never envied her sister going into dungeons and slamming her pretty face against attacks constantly, while others stood back with their magic and melee. Healers—well, even Zep had sent a letter recently that shocked Matty. What had happened to her two sweet sisters? It seemed that the monsters in the world were not really the problem, but those who were supposedly fighting them. The intention of what may have started as heroism turned into bureaucratic entanglement and traps. Like falling into the maw of a beast, chewed and digested on the way down. There was no soft landing.

“I even had the notion yesterday, Matty, that I would listen to the Call to Arms, and go help on the battlefronts. At least there, was I do is my own, and my successes or failures hurt no one but myself.”

Matty had not thought of Luperci ever as a craven, for that was not how their father raised them. Indeed, many brilliant citizens of Azeroth, Horde and Alliance alike, used the military forces as a means of being truly heroic. As long as Luperci wasn’t under the delusion that she could hide behind the shield in battle, and take battles seriously, maybe she would find the success she needed. She wasn’t sure.

But, Matty did know one thing, at least for the next few hours, of what Luperci should do, and this Matty could help her with.

“Baby sister, for now, your burden is not yours to concern yourself with; let me make you some honeymint tea, and I have some Lunar Festival treats, too. And then, you are going to get some sleep for a while. Things always look better in the morning.”

The cat nestled in Luperci’s lap, proud of his gift, and grateful for her warmth. Though the cat couldn’t speak in a language Lupe would understand, he was happy to have her there. She just didn’t notice.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Shout-out: Ruby!

Well done, Ruby!
http://wowroleplaygear.com/2012/01/28/we-want-more-links/

Now I want to go shopping....

Dragon Lady.

The Lunar New Year in the "real" world began on January 23. This is the astrological year of the dragon. *They* say that those who are dragons always know they are dragons. *cough*

Maleficent gets her rage on...

For the record, I am sure this is not an original idea. But perhaps the more voices join in the chorus, the sweeter the song?
Alexstrasza the Life-Binder looks at Matty as if she is an insect, or maybe she didn't get any tokens on that last LFR run.

Last summer, I was thinking that it would be *sho kewl* if there was another heroic class like Death Knights; but, what could it be? So many fantastical forms already existed: Draenei, Dwarfs, Forsaken, Trolls, Tauren, Night and Blood Elves, Goblins, Gnomes, and Humans. Did I forget anyone? Oh, Orcs. My pardon. But perhaps instead of taking existing races and creating a "class" such as knights, maybe another race altogether, or perhaps a way to alter a race into: DRAGONS!

Alexstrasza thinks Matty may be on to something...
It's all right there: you could choose to have powers of time, magic, dreams, earth, life, and don't forget great physical strength and beauty. And a rockin' hot body: I am convinced this one player would have left her real-life husband for Kalecgos.

Do a search for cosplay-ysera-sexy-dragons, and it will lead you to some interesting sites (still trying to figure out what "cleavages" are. Holy Bra Strap, Batman!). This one is from Deviantart-exquisite costume.

Nozdormu, Alexstrasza, Ysera, and Kalecgos (Matty popped her wolves in her excitement)

For an easy read, and most everything you need to know about the dragon aspects, go to this wowpedia post.

This is just a sketch of an idea, but think about it: whichever dragon aspect you choose those would be your special skills, physical form, and talents. One design issue or question is, "do you turn into a big hulking dragon and can't fit in the instance?" I don't think that's necessary. However, you get the special perk of being able to turn into a dragon as your first mount, similar to the Vial of Sands, similar to as other classes get their specialty mounts. (Shamans have to hoof it or hitch-hike, like a bum.)

The devil's advocates would come up with other arguments, too, as to why we players can't be dragons, but the obvious argument is every one will want to be one, and the next thing you know, all of Azeroth will be overridden by dragons. Well, to that, I have heard the same thing about Blood Elves, Draenei, and Worgens. Oh, my. A world dominated by panda bears is perfectly logical, I guess. (I cannot help but think of Club Penguin every time I think of MoP.) Yes, I will most likely start a panda, but like my worgen, she may not get much play, unless my friend and I goof off together. I don't see either of us taking it too seriously.

But dragons...come on...the possibilities!

Link: Disney homage to animated dragons.

Postscript: I always thought Deathwing's jaw reminded me too much of this:


Here, thought you needed some eye candy to wash the Pete the Dragon image out of your mind:
Daenerys by Teilku

Theme song: How to Train Your Dragon/Forbidden Friendship

*Yes, you inferred correctly. I am 12.

Friday, January 27, 2012

/ignore


Stay with me for a bit, even though I may have scared you. This post is the result of three recent events:
1. Blizzcon being canceled
2. Sense of frustration in general over game play and player choice(s), or lack thereof
3. Responsibilities to the real world

Now, I am not really that upset over Blizzcon being canceled per se. Of all the fans out there, only a small percentage could and did actually go. And, my impressions of it were somewhat disappointing, but the thing is, I had a lot of hope for this year, because I thought somehow, with the help of my new blogging buddies, we could do something cool --what exactly, I don't know. But it involved cocktails and writing, not necessarily together. 

The underlying question is, "Is Blizzard in trouble?" 

I don't really know, and am not sure how much it matters. 

Sometimes....but gee, sometimes...I really wish they'd listen to players (see blog list, sidebar left) who have some fun suggestions. Not every suggestion can or should be acted upon, but perhaps if Blizzards' think tank of sorts did talk to people like say, Tome, or Navi, or Vidyala (the list goes on) perhaps...well. My next post called "Dragon Lady" will offer up my wish.

One thing players have said time and again is more control over their actual play. For the first time last night, I felt a twinge of social pressure. I was exhausted, and cross-dressing rogue showed me the tips and tricks of archeology. And I'll be damned, it's really kind of fun! Got to cover and see beautiful scenary, dig up dirt, and got the virtual smell of sand, sweat, fresh mossy dirt, whatever, and see the sunsets all over the world. I mean, think aobut it: if you could fly around the 24 hours of a world of sunsets and sunrises, how amazing would that be? Perhaps NASA is working on it. Oh wait. Funding. Right. Besides, I really want that Assistant Professor title, and a ride-able dinosaur. Some guild-mates were finished with their raid (sigh--mixed feelings) and wanted to do one more heroic. On shaman girl, I had 50 little nagging valor points. Now, it's a numbers' game, and that infuriates me, too. Not having the flexibility about when and how I get Valor Points drives me nuts. I know that Blizzard will never not cap them. I get that. But what I wish for, and this is a big meta-wish, is more solo or partner play: quests and difficult, challenging things one can do by oneself, or with one other buddy, and a schedule of when I can get them. 

I do get resentful of Blizzard trying to shoe horn all the players in together all the time.

This is a shoe horn. People don't use them anymore.
It may be considered an antique.
To shoe-horn something is figurative language which means to make something fit when it doesn't want to. Sometimes I am in a fuzzy-slipper mood and they force me in my high heels.

A. I didn't want to go
B. I quit playing sooner than I wanted because my excuse of having to do dishes and a "no thank you" were met with a lot of "come on, it'll be quick, etc." I know they were being sweet, but like I said, I was really tired. I wanted to keep digging holes in my backyard and not hear Illidan talk about saving his people single-handedly.

So, Blizz, think about it: little bite-sized pieces, for those of us on a Blizz diet?

Which brings me to my scolding:

One technological aspect of our planet which is driving me bonkers is parents ignoring their children. I'm not talking about teenagers, etc., but those moms whose faces look more at their smartphones than their children's. Now, please believe me. No one works harder than young moms. And yes, this goes for dads, too, but somehow dads have managed to skirt this. I'm not giving them a pass, but the double-standards exist. This goes for all parents: "Get your damn face out of your phone and talk to your kids." If you wonder why our reading scores suck, look no further than the conversations you are NOT having with your kids. I go coo-coo nuts when I'm in a PUG and a player needs to tend to some young child in distress, and then feels guilt toward the strangers in the group. I am annoyed with the other players and annoyed with the parent. Don't misunderstand: any AFK moment should be met with a "excuse me" sort of thing, and be made quick. If it's truly an emergency, stop playing. Repeat: STOP PLAYING.


It reminds me of that character in The Guild with all the babies. I'm sure some teacher somewhere is going to get them in her classroom and be expected to teach them to read when they can't even talk. Schema building, people, it's all about schema.

Which leads me back to my original point: I think it's very cool to have all players, those with kids, those without, to play on their schedule and needs. Moms and dads need breaks, too, but also need to pull away when family responsibilities call. I don't know if Vidyala has children, but look how happy she is just to have a meal with a loved one?


One final point: Yes, I do wish Blizzard offered up challenging, interesting game play for those of us who crave a challenge, but don't necessarily want to carve out 8 hours of our week to do so, with other (shudder) people. I would like the whole raiding/guild structure to change. Not sure what or how, but more flexibility, say having someone on a 'day pass' and get guild perks for a fun raid run, old or new content, and not have everything be such a big stinky deal. The big macho guilds "We're NUMBER ONE! We're NUMBER ONE!" sorts of guilds, could be structured differently from others somehow. 


Okay. I'm done now. Go about your business people, nothing to see here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Nightmare.

I had the worst dream before I woke up this morning.

I was in some cavern, brightly lit, with glowing thick ice walls, and there was some crash or horrific event (a battle?). Crashing all around me, shards, blood, broken objects, flooding into a tiny crevice, under some ice. I had to swim up and find the surface for air, keeping my wits about me. I found an opening and managed to clamber out of the icy water, and my body was covered in a blue glittery frost, although I felt chilled, not very cold. There was an old fashioned merry-go-round with freakish, clownish mounts, and some unknown companion and a flight attendant asked me if I was all right.

And then they told me Blizzcon had been canceled, and I woke up screaming.

Just kidding. I did have the nightmare, but I'm certain it was the result of an onslaught of work responsibilities in the aftermath of the storm, in addition to reading the last few chapters of Clash of Kings. (Poor Tyrion! How are you going to get out of that fix, little man?!)

And this morning, I had a great talk with a young druid about WoW; his perspective and insight was fascinating, but I'll share more of that later. Right now, I have to dry off and find a warm blanket.

Theme Song: Wicked Game/ Chris Isaak

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I Speak Geek.



These are three convergent zones that ignited this post, though I had been sitting on the idea for a while:

First, Tome pondered the question about what we marmots do in real life. 

Then, Navimie wants us to get our geek on.

Finally, Ironyca's Series on the social media psychology of WoW (fascinating reading): 

Since I fell down the rabbit hole into Azeroth, the climb back out as not been easy. (Coincidentally, Vidyala's post on how lovely it is to have dinner with a loved one came out yesterday.)

Real Life:
Here's the thing: although there is some important professional/real life and defense of playing WoW in my current profession, I try to keep the two separate. I am good, if not great, at my job. One could even say I am a master. It's one part lion-tamer, one part cultural ambassador, three parts mother earth, and five parts "Hulk Mad." (No plaid shirts were harmed in the making of this job.)

I seldom talk jobs/careers with my players friends while we're hanging out together, and they rarely bring things up. Once in a while we'll mention something, but the workaday world is left behind for a bit. That's one reason why I loved Ironyca's series, because it really made me think about who are my real id friends, and not. I laughed when I read about someone saying they were someone's brother to get some peace and quiet, because I've been told that, too. Not saying this friend was fibbing, but dang, I am sorry if he felt that he couldn't tell me, "I just need some peace and quiet," because I would really understand. My real life involves a daily dose of interacting with a lot of people, and my time to be inside my own head is precious to me. (In truth, I think he was dodging an aggressive gnome girl--they can be clingy.) In any case, I find that I have the calm, mellow friendships with my player friends whether or not they are real id friends or not. Maybe that just comes with maturity--you just learn it's okay to say no, not feel bad, and move on. It takes women especially a while to learn to say 'no' and not feel guilty. Walking around Barnes & Noble the other night I couldn't help but remark to myself how many books on the shelves and calendars were all about 'women who do too much.' Bitch, please. Oprah's off the air I think, so relax. She's not looking anymore.

Anyway, note to friend: If I ever bothered you, I apologize. I miss you, and hope you are well. Haven't seen the gnome girl much, so the coast is clear. You can come out now.

Getting My Geek On:
Now, the other side of this issue: In Azeroth I don't have much real life shop-talk; conversely, in real life, I don't speak Azerothian "common tongue." There are a few who know my compulsions, and one dear friend even has a brother who plays, but he is a solo troll, and has no interest in talking to anyone in game, ever. Nothing personal. A colleague will ask if I spent time "in the service of Good King Wyrnn" (that's how he talks - gotta love it) and yes, indeed, kind sir, Azeroth sleeps safe once again.

But as far as being a general geek/dork, oh yes. I just didn't know I was. I just found out that there will be no Blizzcon this year and I am heartbroken.  Damn! And I was already figuring out how to rock my prosthetic horns (in a manner of speaking). Maybe I should have known I was a geek since one of my favorite books is Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. But those are the real McCoy, chicken heads and all.

What's been funny for me is that I have known grandmothers and mothers who are guildmasters, and neighbors who invited other player friends to visit, cross-state. It's like a big WoW treasure chest, but the X that marks the spot to find other nearby players is a confusing map, and every compass spins wildly. Meaning, I don't have a lot of local support. Some of my bestestest people in my life play, too, but we don't play together per se. Sitting on the couch and farming ore while the Daily Show is on doesn't count, does it?

The above diagram will give you a little peek on my inner-sanctum while I play, work, and check my e-mail. And while I'm driving to work, this nod to the Big Lebowski can be seen barreling down the streets:
Guess I'll just have to go to another Lebowski Fest since Blizzcon is defunct. If you want, I'll meet you there and we'll just have to abide together.


Theme song: Come Out and Play/The Offspring

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Red flag.

This past week was an unexpected "vacation" as I have ever needed, but that description and reflection will go on my professional blog, not my escape-hatch sugar blog. So, yesterday, as I was sitting in Starbucks (I found a nice lady to watch my computer while I ran to the bathroom and got lunch, because I know you were worried), I got a message that my Internet was on! Hoozah! Maybe, just maybe I could run through seven new dungeons between then and the time dinner was to be made. What could go wrong?

With the help of a trusty guild-mate, a healer, we got through the first four without many issues, save for a few potholes, and I think I broke an axle or two.


In the Jaina fight, apparently there are these blistering fire thingies that pop up, and if a ranged dps'er doesn't stand on them, they explode, and do a lot of damage to everyone. I swear, in the grinding I have done on those on a melee, tank, and healer, I never once noticed them. I have never been in a group that wiped on the Jaina fight (she tries to be all bad-ass, but really, just can't pull it off), until yesterday.

Also, I am struggling against some bigotry. Yes. I said it. I confess. Aggro & Casters* seem to be the issue with these dungeons, which are the worse issues besides really bad dialogue. We got Well of Eternity a few times, and that damn Queen Azshara fight. After dinner, ran two of these and for some ungodly reason adds kept killing my healer. I have no idea why. I taunted, I beat down, I grabbed, sweet-talked and cried. Nothing seemed to work. In my defense, all I could say to her in Vent was that she had witnessed me tanking it just fine earlier, and I just couldn't figure out what went wrong. 

The Youtube Video from OMFG wouldn't embed, but here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=DF-ALycXVww

The bigotry, oh yes. That is with some mages and warlocks who get upset at the Hour of Twilight dungeon. I cheered every time this one popped up, because it is a cake-walk for tanks. Not so casters in the rogue fight.

To quote: Thrall will help during the encounter by putting up the same totems he's been using in the preceding trash gauntlet, so whenever possible, your party members should stand in a totem range. When she's low on health, Asira will put up a Blade Barrier. To lift it, she needs to be hit by an attack that deals more than 30000 damage, so save a cooldown for this if your party has low damage output. 
I will concede one point, and that is I should 'back out more slowly' from her smoke bombs. GTFO--you are not my master! No! I will not succumb to your blaring sirens and run out of smoke all crazy-like so that a mage or warlock can show off his numbers. I know that dps players are all about the numbers, numbers, numbers, but in truth, by the time I get to my sixth heroic in as many hours, frankly, Scarlet, I don't give a damn. Shut your pie hole and let's move on. The bias comes in because I have noticed a generality, that mages and warlocks tend to, well, let's just say put in a complaint in the RNG Suggestion Box more often than not. One dungeon two DKs hit over 59-62K regularly, and they didn't complain.

Regardless, whatever. 

Luperci got some hot new gear, made of thorium. (Apparently the Thorium Brothers don't waste a lot of materials on straps and frills.)




Exarch Orelis looks on in admiration...

Moral of the story: If you're going to wipe, at least look good while doing it. And, I capped out my Valor Points. You're not the boss of me, stupid Comcast!


Postscript: methinks I thought of another great guild name...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Story Time: The Quiet

Once upon a time, in a corner of a splintery shack, a cat judged its owner.

With the disdain of a barrister and the haughtiness of an heiress, the cat sauntered away from its measly dinner. The cat’s owner, an old elf woman, could do nothing to convince the cat of her innocence. The cat left, most likely never to return, looking for his mice entrees elsewhere.

And in this these woods, the Tainted woods, the air was thick, oily, smoky soot sticking to clothes and faces, and stiff air wrapped around souls, giving greasy kisses. She had grown used the place, distinguished its nooks and discerned the crannies, wearing an invisible tether that did not stretch outside her home too far. She spent her days in resigned silence, but it was not always so. Her named was Rohanna, although if you asked her, she couldn’t say. Rendered mute, she could no longer speak.

Long ago, she had not been so old, and indeed was quite beautiful. Her looks were attractive if not bordering on average, but her real sugar was in her honeyed voice. Though she had followed the druidic order, she had never really been interested in the natural qualities of channeling nature’s forces. Her talents lie elsewhere. She had a way with words that charmed the gruffest of dwarfs and cajoled dour draenei to smile. She could lather a room with her bubbly personality, her frothy conversation, and amazing tales that won hearts and followers. One of these suitors, a strong druid in his own right, if not a bit dour himself, was so charmed by her wit, he forgot all promises, and asked her to marry him, and she happily said yes without hesitation. Here was a man with whom she could create new stories.

On the day of their wedding, as he bent to kiss her, a blue undead mage appeared behind the priest, hissing a curse, “Tarnishiaxum Dullardum Ennuix!” Unknowingly, Rohanna had stolen the love of this mage. The mage cursed her, and hexed them both with a terrible, terrible spell: “As long as you both shall live, your words will become lies. Your tongues will cut and you will never find spoken happiness. If you laugh truthfully, all is lost.” There was no way to break this hex, no antidote or enchantment. Bewildered, but still very much in love, Rohanna and her new husband smiled shakily, though a grey shade had been drawn on their bright future.

Quick as a blink the mage vanished, but her curse was slow and rotting. Rohanna and her husband gave each other a few happy years of love and laughter. They explored the lands and the seas, fought foes, and shared their days and nights. They settled in the Tainted Woods because they believed that the land would change, that prosperity and grace would reign, that they could affect the world. With their small sheep herd and fishing, they crafted a simple living. But hard work and fulfilling their duties took their toll; and, moreover, the endless wars depleted their spirits. The wars never stopped. One cause would be won, and another would grow in its place, a weed choking out the roses, or fungi amongst the flowers. They worked ever harder to pay the king their fair share of taxes for the privilege of living in a safe land, but their hard work seemed to be always for someone else, someone else’s dreams, and soon their own dreams were neglected. But, if it hadn’t been for the curse, perhaps they would have at least found some joy from each other. This was not to be.

The curse slowly took hold, and over time, their stories grew stale. When he told her some funny story, she would interrupt him, having heard it before. She had heard them all so many times, and her stories lost their sparkle. Her sweet tongue become a cleave, so cutting and sharp, that if their sheep could have spoken (in a language understood by elves anyway), they would have complained of her boring old stories, bleating that every word she said was a command, a chore, and a nag. The donkey had to put his head in the straw whenever she came to feed him, his big ears more sensitive than the other animals. Her husband could stand no more: the poor man flew away one night, his ears bloodied and ringing from her blaring horn of a mouth.

The curse fully blossomed. Every time she grumbled, her tongue stiffened. If she complained, she got a toothache. Whining and simpering, with no audience save the animals and cat, every cantankerous phrase cost her more. Soon her voice was brittle and dry, as melodious as a crow chewing on a dried leaf. She could not speak, and had no one to talk to anyway. All of her stories and charm turned to dry ashes.

She lived her days near her shack, never venturing too far out from her threshold. She swept it every day, this way three times to the south, and three times to the north. She took one step east, and two steps west. She walked as far as she needed to visit the mailbox (never any post), and nod to the quiet man on the docks. He seldom nodded back. The cold air in the Tainted Forest was chilled as a dead man’s smile. Rohanna, the once beautiful Rohanna, grew colder by the day.
One deep green night, she heard a flumph on her doorstep.  It sounded heavy, padded, and immovable. Cradling the tiny candle and putting on her warmest robe (a wedding gift from her husband, all those years ago), she timidly went to see what, or who, landed by her door. She opened the latch a hair, at the ready to slam it in case it was a thief.

On her doorjamb lie a poisoned bear from the forest, which was curious because they usually stayed deep in the woods, far from the little cabins by the docks, and even though the sheep pen provided tempting food, few townsfolk kept vigilant guard. The bears never came this close.
The poor creature: its pelt was ripped open, and she thought she spied a wriggle of maggots in the festering wounds. Its eyes were glued shut with green goopy gunk, and there was fresh scarlet blood in its two front paws. She wasn’t sure what to do. She knew there were diseased animals in the forest, horrible things cursed to roam the woods in sickness, not in health. “Shut the door! Shut the door!” Her mind cried, but two things prevented her: she wouldn’t be able to sweep her porch if it died there, and also, she was an elf. Her affinity for living beings had not completely left her spirit yet, it was tied to her soul. The affinity would depart only when she did.

Bending down, the tentatively touched the bear’s head, and it seemed he had a tiny bit of life in him; he scooted in the door, toward the hearth. She prepared some stale bread and milk, and fed him the mush in baby-sized spoonfuls. His wounds needed cleaning, so she used her mother’s poultice recipe, tending to the wounds as best she could, despite his growls and snaps.  She lost her fear. His injuries were worse than the bears from the woods; he had small scorch marks, and what looked like necrotic frostbite marks on his paws. Exhausted, she fell asleep next to him.

That was the first night.

Before she woke in the morning, the bear raised his head, and slowly rose to all fours. Lumbering toward the door, he left without glancing back, lolloping toward the woods.

When she went to sweep her porch on the doorstep were cherries from the woods. These were rare and magical, ones she had never ventured to pick from the fearsome green treants in the woods. There were demons, too, she’d be warned, demons with blood-poisoning axes, and soul-eating appetites. But these cherries, oh these cherries! If she had known how delicious they were, she may have braved the forest’s dangers. Warmth spread down her throat.

Rohanna went about her tedious business, but worried about the bear all day. Was he all right? If he came back…if he came back she wished she had a voice to ask him. She wanted to know more, too. She would ask him what had happened to him, how he got hurt, but silly woman, she thought, he’s a bear, and cannot speak. She swept to the east, wished, swept to the west, said a prayer, and out of habit, put food out for the cat.

At the same green hour of the night, instead of a flumph, she heard a muffled pounding. The bear lumbered in with more strength, some of his wounds seeming healed, but he was still in poor shape. He sniffed around the cabin a bit, almost politely, as if he didn’t want to overstep his bounds. Rohanna stirred the bubbling pot of fresh fish stew, serving up some for them both. He ate his fill, and then by the fire, they enjoyed the warmth together. She glad her own voice was stripped away. She didn’t want to say the wrong thing, have some nails or thorns spill from her mouth. For the first time in years, she felt inexplicably hopeful. Her poisonous tongue would not harm him. She scratched his scabby but mending ears, and shared some of the cherries with him, too.

That was the second night.

When she woke the next day, the bear was gone. The cat’s food bowl was empty, and the porch dirtied with an odd blue dust mixed with some drops of red-brown blood. She swept it all away, and stopped. She looked down at her threshold. Should she step back inside, safe, or go look for him, in the dangerous woods? The fisherman by the docks kept his back to her. The cat was nowhere to be seen, and the trail of blood and dust led to the woods. Swallowing her fear, she kept her broom in her hands and walked toward the dark edge of the woods. Noxious chartreuse gasses leaked from under toadstools. A sound, like a heartbeat pulsing out blood, thumped quietly from unknown area. She walked away from the house, from the village, and did not see the fisherman turn and look at her, his lips blue and cracked.

The chants and moans of the wind either warned her, or beckoned her further, she could not tell. The thorny broken limbs of fallen trees made the path dodgy, and the trail of blood droplets ceased. The sounds of the village were gone. The forest grumbled, screeched. A hare screamed. Losing her nerve, she ran back to the safety of her hearth, ashamed of herself.

Night had long closed down on her small home when the bear shouldered his way in. That third night the bear came again, stronger, snuffling up to her, enchanting her. Without words or a voice, she felt as comfortable with him as she had ever felt. She remembered what it was like to just be. His wounds were near healed, his fur smelling cleaner, and his eyes brighter. He was still a bear from the Tainted Woods, and would never fully recover from the poison of the woods, but she had helped him considerably. Again, she was grateful her voice was gone so she wouldn’t jinx this happiness.

But that morning, as she went out her door to sweep, he came crashing in to her threshold. He had a fresh wound on his throat. She was maddened that she couldn’t ask him what had happened, nor could he tell her. He bumped and pushed her out the door, and with surprising speed ran into the dark woods. She followed, without hesitation, no matter the danger. Tripping over what appeared to be a small log, she lost her footing, and slid into the foul mud.  It was no log, but an arm.

The fisherman from the village stood, curved as a question mark, gazing at her with hate, and the disguise fell away to reveal the blue undead mage who had cursed her so many years ago. The dismembered arm was hers, but in the other held a crooked switch of a wand, with a baby’s skull and monkey fingers and tails. The mage shook the wand at her, rattling the bones, clacking her bony fingers against the staff.

The bear fell, helpless. He had lost much blood.

“Believe your eyes, Rohanna. I have never stopped stalking you. He loved me, he did. I know he did. When I saw him running away that night, I changed him into this foul beast. The demons did the rest.”
Rohanna held the bear in her arms, pinching the skin on his neck together to stave the bleeding.  She wanted to dispel the curse, kill the mage, say words that would make her disappear, or die again. The jealous dead created more than mischief on the living; they burned tenacious, staining, shadows. He was just one man, thought Rohanna, when this mage could have conjured any soul to be her minion.

“You almost laughed truth, dear Rohanna, and broke the spell. Before you did, I wanted to give you a choice. You may save this shaggy, smelly foul bear beast of a man here with your voice, but your forfeit your own life. Or, keep silent, live, and he dies. You may say three words.”
Rohanna kissed the bear on his muzzle. The choice was hers. She owed him nothing, really. No allegiance or vow. She could remain silent, and live: three words for his life, and her death. But she remembered how she had used her words to hurt him, and there was a debt to be paid.


She said the only three words she should say, in a feathery-soft voice, “I am sorry.”

Rohanna fell dead. The force of the mage’s spell cast back upon herself, bowing to the laws of retribution, for evil magic begets thrice its power, and splintered and fractured her into a soulless corpse. But Rohanna's words, her sacrifice, saved the bear. He transformed to his strong form, and for a moment, before Rohanna’s wisp form was lost to roam the in-between place for eternity, he used his own strong healing magic, and restored her back to life. From then until the end of their days, they held onto each other with all their strength, rooted and bound. And spoke (mostly) good things to each other, for even sweet words need a little sour to balance the flavor.


The cat never did come back.

wait...what?

There...there is another enhancement shaman out there!?!

Thank you, Tome, for finding her for me: http://serenitysaz.blogspot.com/

Got the time?

I love my real life job, but it is time consuming.

I also love playing WoW, also time consuming.

Now, imagine I am given the gift of time.

I can play all I want.

Goof-off, guilt free.

And then, no Internet.

Reminded me of this Twilight Zone episode:

Gift horse.

I ask for impossible things for gifts from those who love me. I ask for toilet seats down, kitchen faucets replaced, and clutter annihilated. I also ask for -- guidance in WoW, because I do so happen to know a few 'leet' players, in game and out.

Now, one of my promised holiday gifts is some guidance with Zeptepi's Shadow Priest-iness. I briefly considered going Holy/Disc with her recently, but seriously, can't quit you shadow spec. Its visual appeal is simply too gorgeous: so what if I did like, oh, 4.5K in a dungeon a few weeks ago? She looked damned good doing it.

But, dear friends, you know me by now, and I am not satisfied with being carried, at least not too much. I do like to pay my fair share of the tab and leave a good tip, and having a 'vanity specialization,' which is what I now dub my Shadow Spec, is vain and silly. Hence, the request for some help and advice on this very complicated and fascinating class.
Zep cuts through the bull with Elder Tauros. She's a Capricorn herself.


Well, help is not available in real life right now, and that is just fine. So, to the INTERNET! (Yes, I have been without Internet for five days now, and am still camped at the local Starbucks, eyelids twitching from the caffeine, and a bladder full of Verona drip.)

Fox Van Allen is one of my favorite writers on WoW Insider, and this post from a year ago sums up a lot: Spiritual Guide: Shadow Priest 101.

This is a wonderful little guide, and when I get a chance to write my post on a real life thing, (must do from home computer--this "little laptop that could" just can't handle all the awesomeness), I will show you why I think it's great.

There is a subtext, though, that I couldn't miss:

Difficult to perfect Shadow priests use a number of damage-over-time spells, and managing them all can be exceptionally difficult for a beginning player. The more you practice, the better you'll get, though only a small, select handful will truly achieve shadow priesting greatness.
In other words, don't expect to be great at this. Just give up now. Remember the pendejo priest who was so rude to my beautiful, intelligent, brave tank Luperci? Damn, now I can't remember his name to look him up. But, figured if I tried, it would ring a bell, so I searched "Best Shadow Priests on Whisperwind" and guess what? He's not listed:

Realm RankPlayerGuildWorld Score
1PaskgothealsRocket Surgery100.0
2VivirWanderers99.9
3MystabellaDisgruntled99.8
4SadystikFidelis99.8
5PriestpipeCarpé Lootem99.7
6EuphVictory or Whatever99.6
7ÁminaMinds Eye99.5
8JeevsAction Nine News99.5
9ZariaaOrder of the Ebon Hand99.4
10MartooniFortyTwo99.4
11VavraAlpha99.3
12WolfbáneWe Ignite at Night99.3
13AriannPrevail99.2
14ToobadYahtzee Party99.1
15UdersnohealuLegion of Blood99.1
16YulianaAction Nine News99.0
17AshkatjaAlpha99.0
18LukkiCovenant of Crows98.9
19LyriahDisgruntled98.9
20SetteshSomething Wicked98.8
21MarukoThe Cuppy Cakes98.8
22AelvinRocket Surgery98.7
23MethanarAlpha98.7
24VivosRocket Surgery98.7
25SunovaDarker Intentions98.7


So, should I just give up now, and tromp around in my shadowy sexiness, without doing much damage? Is it good to be bad? (Oh, yes.) Am I just too sexy for my spec? Possibly.

Throwing this out there:

If you have one piece of advice on Shadow Priest, not the normal MaxDPS, or Add-On, but one thing you know from experience, that would be a wonderful gift. Don't even want the receipt.