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Anna’s Friday Five

Anna of Too Many Annas does an RP-oriented feature called the Friday Five.  Here are my answers to this week’s, entitled “Faith and Morals”!

1. Does your character have any religious/spiritual beliefs? 

Athorius’ religious outlook can be loosely defined as “Elune above, Earthmother below, and Cenarius between”.  As a night elf and a druid, he pays homage to all three.  He has a fascination with the spirit world that has led to his academic studies of shamanism as well as druidism, and he believes in its ability to both illuminate and influence the material world.

I’ve always imagined the practice of night elf (and druid) religion to be something akin to shinto, venerating the natural world.

 

2. Is your character superstitious?

No, though it may seem that he is.  Some people may think that a deep investment in the spiritual side of things counts as superstition, but in this particular world, this is just another aspect of reality.  However, it is an aspect of which many characters may be unaware or in denial. 

In contrast, my hunter Lunauviel is extremely superstitious in the classic sense.  She doesn’t step on cracks in sidewalks and worries about black cats.

 

3. Does your character swear?  If so, how?  Is he or she creative about it?

Athorius’ dialogue isn’t peppered with invective, but he doesn’t purposefully avoid it.  Mostly, he swears when he’s frustrated or angry, or amazed, like most people.  I wouldn’t call him a creative swearer, though he does have a tendancy to slip back into Darnassian to do so.

 

4. How does your character regard “The Law”?  Does he or she have a personal moral code?

Athorius doesn’t have a lot of regard for formal laws (and honestly I’ve never imagined night elves had much in the way of formal laws, aside from the notable exceptions like the prohibition of arcane magic, though I realize many players interpret kaldorei society differently).  He doesn’t go out of his way to break laws either; he simply follows them where they coincide with his personal code and ignores them where they do not.  As for the nature of that personal code, it boils down to do more good than harm, don’t stand idle when there’s work to be done, and try to preserve balance in all that he does.

Success rate at adhering to this code is mixed, and occasionally it’s made him do things he’s not proud of.  Some decisions are really difficult to make.

 

5. Does your character like to dance?

Surprisingly, yes.  (Athorius is a very quiet individual, so you wouldn’t expect it.)  Due to the hideous nature of most of his available dances in-game, I pretty much only let him dance in treeform. ;)

A New Little PITA

Let me begin by saying the DEHTA are crazy.  If you haven’t encountered this organization yet, they’re a splinter group of druids who are fanatical about animal rights.  DEHTA is said to be the PETA of Azeroth.

Speaking as a druid, PETA is about as undruidic as it gets.  The closest Azerothian druids come to a “animals have more rights than people” stance is their Tolkienesque defense of nature against the encroachments of technology.  Mostly, what the druids do is try to preserve balance.  They want to maintain habitats so that flora and fauna can continue to thrive.   They are not vegetarian, they are not against the killing of animals, when it has a purpose.

This is what sets DEHTA apart- these are druids that are TOTALLY against the killing of animals (witness the fake furs).  They’re fanatics, and they’re atypical.  That said, most druids would be against the widespread needless slaughter of the animals of the Borean Tundra.  The hunters have no use for these animals- they aren’t eating them, or making things of them, they’re collecting souvenirs, and they’re doing so at an unsustainable rate.  It isn’t balanced, and it isn’t good for the Tundra.

Another trait that sets this group of druids apart and brings PETA to mind is they are not just calmly and collectedly handling the situation.  The Cenarion Circle’s typical response is to take the long view, and match problems with steady effort, and steady force where required.  (It’s interesting to note that Staghelm also lacks this trait, one of the things that makes him wildly unpopular among many of the druids, in spite of being skilled in the art and the nominal leader of the Circle.)  

No, THESE druids are morally outraged rather than emotionally detached.  They don’t just want to fix the problem; they want to punish the transgressors.  Who are they?  None other than fingers on the long arm of Hemet Nessingwary’s hunting empire, hoping for fame, glory, riches beyond imagining, and a set of steak knives.

On the behalf of the DEHTA, I waged war against the hunters.  I cut off their ears for Arch Druid Lathorius.  I rescured mammoth calves who trumpeted their approval to me (and followed me for absolutely ages).  I saved the giant freshwater clams.  There was some kind of caribou.  There were rhinos and rhino lords.  I caught hunters in their own traps.  (One of them yelled, “It’s a miracle!  The beast skinned itself!” when they spotted my fake fur-covered trap.)  

I STAMPEDED Harold Lane.  That one was kind of fun.

And at the end of it, I became a PITA.  I kind of wish it was a title- P.I.T.A Athorius.  

Don’t worry, I won’t throw paint on your coat. ;)

While it’s not really topical to this blog’s stated theme, the Lunar Festival is one of my two favorite holidays in Azeroth. (The other is the Midsummer Fire Festival.) I’ve been through the gathering of the (Azeroth) coins a few times and I thought I would share my routes with you.

Locations are pulled from Wowwiki. A sampling of them this year indicates they remain accurate.  There is a route for each continent (Kalimdor, Eastern Kingdoms, and Northrend) and each route includes cities and instances as they come.  The idea is to be able to move within a continent, gathering up all the elders efficiently.  I realize in Northrend you may want to run the instances separately, and that’s perfectly reasonable!

 

Kalimdor

1. Silithus: Elder Bladesing [50, 36]

2. Silithus: Elder Primestone [23,12]

3. Un’goro: Elder Thunderhorn [51,75]

4. Tanaris: Gadgetzan: Elder Dreamseer [50,28]

5. Tanaris: Elder Ragetotem [36,80]

6. Zul’Farrak: Elder Wildmane

7. Thousand Needles: Mirage Raceway: Elder Morningdew [79,77]

8. Thousand Needles: Freewind Post: Elder Skyseer [45,50]

9. The Barrens: Camp Taurajo: Elder High Mountain [45,58]

10. Mulgore: Bloodhoof Village: Elder Bloodhoof [48,53]

11. Thunder Bluff: Elder Rise: Elder Proudhorn [72,23]

12. The Barrens: Crossroads: Elder Moonwarden [51,28]

13. The Barrens: Ratchet: Elder Windtotem [62,37]

14. Durotar: Razor Hill: Elder Runetotem [54,44]

15. Orgrimmar: Valley of Wisdom: Elder Darkhorn [41,33]

16. Feralas: Elder Grimtotem [76,37]

17. Feralas: Dire Maul (Arena): Elder Mistwalker [62,31]

18. Maraudon: Elder Splitrock

19. Aszhara: Elder Skygleam [72,85]

20. Ashenvale: Astranaar: Elder Riversong [35,48]

21. Darkshore: Auberdine: Elder Starweave [36,46]

22. Darnassus: Cenarion Enclave: Elder Bladeswift

23. Teldrassil: Dolanaar: Elder Bladeleaf [57,60]

24. Felwood: Elder Nightwind [37,52]

25. Winterspring: Everlook: Elder Stonespire [61,37]

26. Winterspring: Elder Brightspear [55,43]

 

  Eastern Kingdoms

1. Stranglethorn Vale: Booty Bay: Elder Winterhoof [26,76]

2. Stranglethorn Vale: Zul’Gurub (Outside): Elder Starglade [53,18]

3. Blasted Lands: Dark Portal: Elder Bellowrage [58,55]

4. Sunken Temple: Elder Starsong

5. Westfall: Sentinel Hill: Elder Skychaser [56,47]

6. Stormwind: Park: Elder Hammershout

7. Elwynn Forest: Goldshire: Elder Stormbrow [40,63]

8. Burning Steppes: Elder Rumblerock [82,46]

9. Burning Steppes: Elder Dawnstrider [64,24]

10. Blackrock Depths: Ring of Law: Elder Morndeep 

11. Lower Blackrock Spire: Elder Stonefort

12. Searing Gorge: Elder Ironbrand [21,78]

13. Ironforge: Mystic Ward: Elder Bronzebeard 

14. Dun Morogh: Kharanos: Elder Goldwell [46,51]

15. Loch Modan: Thelsamar: Elder Silvervein [33,46]

16. Hinterlands: Elder Highpeak [49,48]

17. Silverpine Forest: The Sepulcher: Elder Obsidian [45,41]

18. Tirisfal Glades: Brill: Elder Graveborn [61,53]

19. Undercity: Lordaeron Throne Room: Elder Darkcore 

20. Western Plaguelands: Elder Meadowrun [66,47]

21. Western Plaguelands: Elder Moonstrike [69,73]

22. Eastern Plaguelands: Elder Windrun [39,75]

23. Eastern Plaguelands: Light’s Hope Chapel: Elder Snowcrown [81,60]

24. Stratholme (Live): Elder Farwhisper


  Northrend

Lake Wintergrasp: Grab it whenever your faction holds the zone.  This is an elder of opportunity.  (Elder Bluewolf, WG Fortress)

1. Sholazar Basin: Elder Wanikaya [64,49]

2. Sholazar Basin: Elder Sandrene [50,64]

3. The Nexus: Elder Igasho

4. Borean Tundra: Transitus Shield: Elder Northal [34,34]

5. Borean Tundra: Elder Pamuya [43,50]

6. Borean Tundra: DEHTA: Elder Arp [57,44]

7. Borean Tundra: Valiance Keep: Elder Sardis [59,66]

8. Dragonblight: Star’s Rest: Elder Morthie [30,56]

9. Dragonblight: Agmar’s Hammer: Elder Skywarden [35,48]

10. Azjol-Nerub: Elder Nurgen 

11. Dragonblight: Moaki Harbor: Elder Thoim [49,78]

12. Utgarde Keep: Elder Jarten

13. Utgarde Pinnacle: Elder Ghogan’gada

14. Grizzly Hills: Camp Onequah: Elder Whurain [64,47]

15. Grizzly Hills: Elder Lunaro [81,37]

16. Grizzly Hills: Westfall Brigade Encampment: Elder Beldak [61,28]

17. Drak’Tharon Keep: Elder Kilias

18. Zul’Drak: Zim’Torga: Elder Tauros [59,56]

19. Heroic Gundrak: Elder Ohanzee

20. Storm Peaks: K3: Elder Graymane [41,85]

21. Storm Peaks: Frosthold: Elder Fargal [29,74]

22. Storm Peaks: Elder Stonebeard [31,38]

23. Halls of Stone: Elder Yuruak

24. Storm Peaks: Camp Taunka’lo: Elder Muraco [64,51]

Friday 500 Submission

Anna has requested a Friday 500 of her readers, and as a devout (though not frequently posting) follower of the Friday Five, I submit the following below.  Many have asked why I bother putting cash into a guild bank.  Indeed, many have even mocked me for this practice!  The short answer: unlike them, I can rest easy at night, and this is why…
 
 
The sole proprieter of Soliloquy Investment Services (Meeting the Needs of the Independent Adventurer Since Nordrassil! ) walked wearily through Ironforge.  It never rained but it poured.  All of his clients seemed to dump their sales on him at once.  Things had been busier lately, too, which was why he’d hired the draenei girl.  Really.  It had nothing to do with the her dress clung to her ass just so
 
Of course, she’d run off a month later to Elune-knew-where, without failing to take some merchandise with her.  Azhramael sighed.  It had been worth it.
 
He came to a sudden stop as he felt the muzzle of a boomstick press against his ribs.  Incredulous, he looked down at an angry, anxious dwarf.
 
“All yer gold!  Now!”
 
“I think there’s been some mistake…”
 
The dwarf bristled.  “Dunnae give me that!  I see th’ color o’ that fancy tabard o’ yers!  Yer one o’ them f’nancy-airs.” 
 
She shoved the gun to emphasize her point.  The barrel was ludicrously long for the narrow confines of the alley, but Azhramael had few doubts that firing it would end grimly for him.  Reluctantly, he turned out his pocket, and five gold rolled onto the floor with assorted change and a paper-wrapped slice of cherry pie that, in restrospect, probably shouldn’t have been shoved into his pants.
 
She glanced from the money to Azhramael and back again.  “Whar’s th’ rest o’ it?!”
 
“That’s all I have.  My landlord isn’t going to thank you, you know,” he added severely.
 
“Liar!  I seen ye at th’ auction!  Ye be thinkin’ me daft?”
 
Azhramael pinched the bridge of his nose, feeling a headache coming on.  “My dear, I manage large sums of money.  That is not the same thing as having large sums of money.  The profit margins aren’t as large as you’d think.”
 
She poked him with the gun again, a greedy and conspiritorial gleam in her eye.  “So whar’s yer clients’ money then, eh?  Ye won’t be trickin’ ol’ Frieda with yer sly words.”
 
“Locked up in the Bank of Ironforge, as it should be,” he replied promptly.  “What kind of idiot investor would walk around with that much gold on him, especially in a city as convuleted as this?”
 
Suddenly, a sound came from near the entrance to the alley.  With a snarl, the dwarf seized the paltry amount of gold and scampered off into the darkness.  The noise turned out to be a large stray cat, which seized upon the fallen pie.  He scratched it absent-mindedly before turning again towards home.
 
Of course, he reflected, she never asked me about the 300-gold gem I have in my OTHER pocket. I gotta make a living too, you know?
 
He began to whistle a tune as he walked away, wondering if it would be possible to relocate his draenei assistant.

AWOL

I haven’t been writing lately because…well, quite simply, I haven’t been doing a lot in-game that I can write about.  I’ve hit that point in the leveling game where I feel like a slave to it, and just want to end it as quickly as humanly possible.  For a resto druid that means LOTS and LOTS of instancing.  Over and over.

Some things I have learned in the last week or so of half-pugging, half-guilding:

 

1. Having your tank sitting in the same room as you spoils a healer rotten.  

It didn’t start like that.  When he started playing we weren’t even dating, and he was a baby resto druid while I was an almost 60 hunter.  Fast forward three years or so and we live together, I have a resto druid, and his feral druid was recently retired in favor of a prot warrior, who is now about the same level as me.

There is an advantage to having a tank who has run with you so many times that, for example, he knows the difference between the standard cursing of the DPS and the “we’re all about to die” invective.  It’s also nice to be able to simply call out necessary information- I don’t know about you, but most of the 5-mans I run, and all of the PuGs, do not use vent.  There’s a certain degree of sympatico.  I know the tempo of his pulling, where his damage taken falls on the steady/spikey scale.  

Working with PuG tanks I’ve never met before has been valuable in that respect; it’s made me be more adaptable, proactive, and reactive than I’ve had to be in a very long time.  On that note…

 

2. There are a few nightmare players, but there are far more awesome people out there in LFG-land.  

I’ve met so many great players in the last week or two, who know their stuff and who are fun to be around, it’s not even funny.  Death knights who can both tank and DPS like nobody’s business.  A feral druid who shared some hilarious commisserations over our terribad Violet Hold tank.  I could go on and on.  

 

3. Culling of Stratholme, which I will write about when I get a chance to research it more thoroughly.

Culling of Stratholme is difficult to describe.  I was badly looking forward to this instance- I knew the premise, and I loved the level 60 Stratholme instance(s).  I knew the storyline was grim, but it’s hard to deny that it is interesting.

I was glad I was healing.

The whole buildup going into the instance is something like: “We’re not going to do this, are we?  We’re not really going to do this…  I mean, something’s going to happen, we’re not going to go through with it…  C’mon, anytime now…  Holy crap…we’re really going to do this… We’re REALLY going to DO THIS?!”

I had mixed feelings on the cop out of turning all the townsfolks into undead before the players begin killing anything.  Yeah, the guards still kill some townsfolk, but it’s hard to feel much of a moral dilemma over kiling zombies, seeing as they’re pretty obviously beyond help.  On the one hand, I was glad to not have to kill (more) innocent civilians who don’t understand and are trying to run away.  On the other, it WAS a cop out.  It somewhat trivialized what should have been a terrible scarring IC encounter.  

Oh, yeah, and the “the quickest way is through the bookshelf!” so we could get to a part of the instance that was on fire, in psuedo-phasing?  Yeah, it wasn’t obvious or anything.

 

4. Dark Matter strikes in Ulduar?  Please.

If anything this is more astronomically ridiculous than the Suneater, the sword “forged in the heart of a dying star”, and that’s pretty hard to top.  (My degree is in astronomy and astrophysics.  I’m picky about this kind of nonsense.)

Bellwether, over at 4 Haelz, wrote an interesting post about the direction questing has taken in WoW with the latest expansion.

I started this blog not long ago with the basic intent of writing about quests and storylines. Since Northrend is where my druid is questing now, I’ve found myself wrestling with these issues. I play on an RP server, and while I don’t spend as much time formally RPing as I used to, there are definitely differences in how I feel when I’m questing on different characters, because each character has its own personality and viewpoint.

Athorius was sickened by what the Azure Dragonflight is attempting in the Dragonblight and elsewhere. But he was almost more sickened by the inhuman insensitivity of Archmage Modera and by proxy the Kirin Tor. He’s a good-hearted person, and a restoration druid to his core, and even though he’s responsible for his share of death he’s always considered his actions to be unfortunate necessities in the greater cause of healing the world of its old wounds. The events at the Black Dragonshrine provoked a similar reaction. He destested the callousness of the dragons, but realized that necromancers raising yet more undead dragons was a situation worth preventing. He tried his best to close his ears as the cultists begged for their lives, and he would have refused any trinket the dragonflight offered if he could. (As it was, he sold it as soon as he found a vendor.) The whole situation left him with some ugly memories.

My death knight, Mulifein, has a completely different point of view. (I can’t help but recommend another 4 Haelz post here.) He wouldn’t have lost a wink of sleep (if he, y’know, slept) over Emmy’s death, and as a player I wouldn’t have worried about it as much because when I play him I see the world more like he sees it. He would have seen the Black Dragonflight as valuable allies. He doesn’t like what’s been done to him or the things he’s done himself since, and deep inside he probably hates himself more than a little, but outwardly he’s convinced that he owes the world nothing. In Blade’s Edge, to bring up another quest Bell mentioned, Athorius didn’t do the ogre quests after becoming their king, even though most of them were still undone. Betrayal is a sad and dirty thing- and no, I have no idea how I’m going to justify that when I return to that zone. At 66, Mulifein is still in Outland, and probably won’t go through the process of becoming an ogre king, but if he did he’d definitely be more ruthless in his reign.

These kinds of quests also put me in an interesting position as a player. On one hand, I want to be true to my character. This is who he is. If you don’t roleplay, write fiction, act, etc. I’ve found this is a pretty hard experience to explain. Yes, Athorius is my creation, but I can’t take him any direction that works for me at the time. There are things that are right for the character and things that simply don’t work. Some actions are like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole- you might manage to force it in, but it’s never going to look right, and it’s going to do serious damage to both the peg and hole. Once a character is crafted it takes on a life of its own. Often you will find the character telling you things you didn’t plan or know ahead of time as you play them.

On the other hand, Loremaster is an achievement I really want as a player. I want to experience all these storylines, good, bad, and ugly. So I have to stretch to find explanations for why Athorius would do this work. Thus far, the druid angle has worked. Athorius clings to his druidism like a talisman and he’s sacrificed a lot for it before now. He’s serving the greater balance in helping destroy a necromantic cult, regardless of the Black Dragonflight’s hand in it. Emmy’s death was a terrible accident, one that will haunt him, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Azure Dragonflight might just destroy the world if they aren’t stopped- and that the Kirin Tor might be right proper bastards, but they are also capable of opposing the blues.

Maybe that’s why I’ve had such difficulty getting into questing in Grizzly Hills. Athorius is just plain sick at heart after the Dragonblight. He doesn’t have the stomach to listen to people complain that orcs stole their cedar chest, or get their hackles up because he ate some nuts that were left out unmarked for anyone to mistake. He can’t bring himself to help the ZA gang capture trolls for whatever nefarious purpose they have in mind (slavery comes to mine). And after the Wrathgate, he can’t even find the will to fight the Horde, who stood against Arthas side by side with the Alliance and were betrayed even more deeply, by one of their own.

There have always been choices in this game. Northrend, as Bell points out, isn’t the first place to offer quests of questionable morality. And while Northrend may be more obvious about it, what MMOs in general lack compared to single-player games, and what Northrend continues to lack, are consequences for the choices you make. I can kill people in cold blood as they beg for mercy, I can betray my allies, I can help myself before I help people in genuine need, and still be greeted as a hero the next time I come around. (And Northrend is VERY heavy-handed with the “you’re a hero” spiel.) As time goes on, Athorius is less and less certain what that word, “hero”, must mean, and more convinced that whatever the definition, he doesn’t qualify. When people call him a hero, he cringes.

However, Mulifein, who doesn’t even try for good intentions, would accept the accolades with a grin and a swagger as only his due.

And me, their player? This game furthers an opinion I began to formulate when I first started playing RPGs. Heroism has absolutely nothing to do with what people think of you. A villain greeted as a hero is still villain, and that is the definiton of someone who can do evil without flinching. Possibly, it’s also the definition of someone who can always find a way to justify evil in the name of good.

I woke up in the Wintergarde Keep inn and saw I had some new mail.  It was a letter from Archmage Emmy’s father in Stormwind, writing to thank me for making sure his daughter’s last message made it to him.  It was obvious he had no idea I had also killed her.

Knife.  Gut.  Twist.

Luckily I keep some of Don Carlos’ finest in my bags for just such occasions.

The drink helped with the cold ride, too, as I made my way over to the Ruby Dragonshrine.  This is the last of the Dragonshrines for me- I’ve seen the black, green, blue, and bronze.  The Red Dragonflight are the ruling class when it comes to wyrms so it makes sense that this whole thing comes to a head in their home base.


Their shrine, I am informed, is overrun with scourge.  (It’s Northrend, what else is new.)  I helped the Alliance forces gathered there contain the waves of undead, and then I was sent inside to help reclaim some of the fallen dragons.  This was something a druid, and a night elf, could easily sympathize with.  They didn’t want their bodies to be defiled by the scourge, but to return to the earth to give new life.  I gladly obliged.  I collected ruby acorns and planted them under the bodies of the dragons, which were seized by the seeds and shrank up into nothing, their final wishes fulfilled.


I also located the source of the corruption.  Dahlia Suntouch, a former high elf who has guarded the shrine for centuries, was slain by a death knight duke of the scourge, and turned against herself and her charges.  I released her from her misery, and found a talisman that appeared to belong to Alexstraza’s consort.  I returned to Wyrmrest Temple.

Queen Alexstraza has given me the creeps every time I’ve spoken with her.  This meeting was no different.  She greeted me, “Hello Athorius.  It is good to finally meet you.  I have known you since before you were born.”  (As I said, I’ve spoken with her before.  Ah quest discontinuity.  Nevertheless- creepy.)


From there I clambored up on a dragon, ran around and ate some blues, and torched the azure dragonshrine.  Not a bad way to end my time in the Dragonblight.


From there, I headed to the Grizzly Hills.  And my gosh is it a change.  Here’s a place where humans and orcs have been trying to eke out a living long before anyone had heard of the Valiance Expedition.  Here, they still squabble about the pettiest things, mixed up with some very serious things like storing up sufficient food.  I felt bad about my lack of empathy, but it was difficult to come back down to earth after spending so much time in the ethereal.

So I ate some nuts.  They looked like they were put out for the taking, you know, like bar nuts.  They were…Amberseeds  (duh duh dum!)  These seeds are apparently the lambas bread of WoW.  You’re not supposed to eat a lot and a handful can feed an outpost for a season.  So the guy in charge made me throw them up.  Fun, right?  I even had to quest for my own ipecac.  

Between that and the military hardliner I tried, I really tried, to rid myself of the feeling that these missions weren’t a waste of my time, that filling a storehouse was a real problem and that whatever was in that chest has to be important on a real scale and not a petty backward trader scale.  But tonight I just couldn’t.  So I went to Borean Tundra instead to knock out a few easy quests that felt like real progress.  I’ll come back.  Just not tonight.
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