World PvP Powerless: Some are more equal than others.

This is a rant so if you are of a nervous disposition you might wish to look away now.

The only thing that doesn’t work is PvP Power-fueled healing. At the moment, you only gain the healing benefit when in BGs and Arenas. The reason is because that we don’t want PvP gear to be super effective for PvE content (useful is fine, but super effective is not). 

That design goal is easily met for damage dealers, because they won’t benefit from PvP Power when damaging creatures. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple check for us to determine if a healer is healing damage done by PvP or PvE. In an Arena or BG you can make that assumption, but in the outdoor world you may be engaging in world PvP, or you may just be questing. 

Ghostcrawler.

No no no!

The healing component has to work everywhere out in the world because PvP, especially on PvP servers is often just a heartbeat away. Doing dailies is just an excuse for outright war and as a healer under this system you run the risk of being damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

The world should be consistent, the second you start having to have rules within rules it points to bigger issue, highlighting that the PvP Power system is flawed. This is like trying to use a bandaid to stop the Niagara Falls, futile, frustrating and something which will need fixing in the long run.

Group questing is a joke as it is, on the beta I haven’t really come across a quest that we needed more than 2 people for and I’m sure that on most quests a handful of dpsers with zero healers would have managed. As for World Bosses, long term they’ve never been taxing in themselves, the hard part is usually cross faction guild competition, i.e. World PvP. Neither of these is a good reason to start treating healers like second class citizens. The game isn’t balanced around low levels and it shouldn’t be balanced around group quests or the difficulty of a World Boss where you could technically use four separate raids.

We are considering just letting PvP Power affect healing everywhere but dungeons and raids. That would solve world PvP and only risk unbalancing group questing and world bosses. Even the world bosses probably don’t represent a huge game balance risk, given that the option always exists to get tons of players together to zerg them.

Ghostcrawler

Yes please. The other point to note is that by the time we all have enough PvP Power to make a difference, group quests and dailies are hardly going to be relevant content that the game needs any form of balancing around.

Just like Death and Taxes, World PvP will always be with us but group quests come and go. I just two manned the Crucible of Carnage in PvP gear…… oh noes, what an exploiter I am. Oh wait, it’s hardly relevant content and to be honest even if it was, it still wouldn’t make up for me dying to some random dpser who got 100 percent of the benefit of his gear whilst I only got a fraction of mine. Lets take me and Mr Harpy, we PvP a lot but we both put in the same effort in to get that gear and thus should always get the same benefit from it. Stats shouldn’t just turn on and off because you zone (unless it’s a raid/dungeon).

If Blizzard want content to present a challenge then make it hard, don’t penalise healers.

BETA: On Fairytales and Folklore

One of my favourite aspects of WoW is the merging of fairy stories and folk lore from our world into Azeroth. My Warlocks all make a point of visiting this slightly suspect character

whenever they are in Kalimdor because her namesake was such a staple of my childhood. My Grandmother and Great Grandmother used stories to explain everything, no question ever phased them and they had a tale for everything. Don’t stray from the path because there are big bad wolves lurking amongst the trees whose only wish is to eat you up. Always be polite because you never know who you are talking to and of course, always do what Grandmama says.

In Northrend we have the Frog Princess and the Darkmoon Faire gives us Rona Greenteeth, that charming lady who sells rather dubious edible goods, the WoW version of this delightful creature. Wherever we look there are the images, the monsters and the heros from our childhoods transformed yet again.

So when I first zoned into the Temple of the Jade Serpent, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. The first boss was interesting enough but it was only as we cleared towards the second I started to get excited. The trash mobs seemed familiar, not their models but their names.

I knew somewhere I’d seen or heard of them before but the answer lay just out  of reach, dancing away from me. It was only after we had finished that I realised why they seemed familiar. I had seen them before, not of course as WoW characters but as illustrations in a book.

Which made perfect sense, the library had come to life, animated by Sha magic. From each scroll had come the trash mobs, sliding from the pages into flesh and blood for us to slaughter.

The Nodding Tiger, the Talking Fish, the Golden Beetle and the Two Jugglers, all there, a child’s dream or nightmare come true.

If you aren’t planning on doing anything to prepare for Mists, do one thing for me. Go and research the stories behind these characters. Get to know them before you put them back where they belong, back on the shelves. As a starting point check out this and don’t forget to look at the illustrations because who knows, they might escape. After all, anything is possible.

Seven things I’d fix in random PvP

I’ve been doing a lot of pvp recently. As the embers of one expansion die down, I always seem to drift into doing more battlegrounds than normal. As with anything you do regularly, you find yourself noticing the flaws and wondering how you would have done it better. These are a few of the things which really bother me in random battlegrounds these days and my solutions to the problems because without solutions it’s just whining.

1. Gear Discrepancy

  • The Problem: Quite often when I zone in to a battleground, I have one of the highest health pools. Now as a Disc Priest, that shouldn’t be the case. You look around and see the obligatory melee with 110k health  (usually a plate wearer but can also be a feral druid) and your heart sinks. Unless the enemy team have the same, you’re basically playing one person down. In SotA yesterday for example I had four Horde on me, they were interrupting and basically doing everything right but they just didn’t output enough damage to put pressure on me. Now I realise that Blizzard are taking steps to deal with this in MoP but I don’t think their steps go far enough. Everyone having basic resilience will help but in the scenario I described, it wasn’t their survival which was an issue, it was their damage or lack of it.
  • My Solutions: Split the endgame random battlegrounds into two categories. Group 1 would be everyone who just hit level, the people with no gear whatsoever. This group would get more honour per game but zero conquest points for winning. On reaching a certain item level (a level which would move up with the start of each new season), you would be moved into the second pool and would start earning less honour (still the same amount we currently get) but getting conquest points too. The benefits of this would be twofold, less complaining on the part of both the geared and the undergeared. Also games would be more interesting because the playing field would be reasonably level. This would only apply in the 10 and 15s, i.e. the games where gear matters. So if you queue to random with a well-geared friend, it would automatically put you into the queue for 40 mans. A second and certainly simpler solution would be to re-visit the Burning Crusade method of adding basic PvP gear to the reputation vendors.
  • Possible negatives: People trying to stay in the bottom category until they have a full set of gear or to farm undergeared players. That’s partly why I don’t think conquest should be available in this category, it’s meant to be transient not somewhere you set up home and attempt to specialise at. Another potential negative would be the risk of running of new players increasing wait times in the first category but since there seems to be a neverending supply of them in the current system, I’m sure that wouldn’t be an issue.

2. Perceptions

  • The Problem: The scoreboard shows names and specs, mindvision works from every start zone apart from AV, SotA and Isle of Conquest and addons like Battleground Spy exist. Before the gates even open people have compared their team to the enemy team and often decided there is no chance. We had a Twin Peaks the other day in which we were one and a half healers (the other half was a Holy Priest with 100k health) versus a team with four well geared healers. Before we started our dps were complaining that it was a loss because of perception. As it turned out, it wasn’t because the majority of our dps could cc and kick but at least one person afked before we started because of that belief. We got lucky in that our team decided to actually try before giving up and sitting in the graveyard.
  • My Solution: Don’t populate the scoreboard before the game starts. Let people figure out who the low geared players and healers are on the battlefield, not in advance. If half the team comes from the same server, we shouldn’t know that until we get out on the field.

3. Premades in General

  • The Problem: Beating organised groups with randoms is harder, yes it’s doable if the premade is bad or your team also has a premade component but to tie into the previous issue, perception plays a part. I might be willing to go 1 v 5 but a lot of my team aren’t. They see the same server name or the same guildtag and lose some of their will to fight. You start getting people saying “Oh it’s a premade…. lose fast”.
  • My Solution: If 5 people queue up together then match them with 5 people who are also queuing up together. Don’t put them with a mix of randoms. Now don’t take this the wrong way, I can’t remember the last time I got farmed at the graveyard but in the run up to Cataclysm, I premaded a lot and yes, playing with friends is always fun but you should be facing other people who are also playing with friends not Scrubby McGraw the Dwarf Mage who queued solo and who just wants some honour points so he can buy his first bit of proper PvP gear.
  • Possible Negatives: This is a multi-player game and we are meant to be playing with other people, friends, guildmates, the guy we met ganking in Tol Barad. However, I’m not sure that the queue times would radically increase if 5 man group met 5 man group and so on. It might also lead to a better quality of game.

4. Achievements

  • The Problem: I’m fine with the concept of achievements in PvP but what I hate are the ones which aren’t focused on the objectives. Things like “take 50 graveyards in AV” and “Get 20 killing blows without dying” spring to mind. I have actually lost games because a small percentage of our team were too focused on getting certain achievements and not playing the actual game.
  • My solution: From this point forward, all the PvP achievements should be designed around the objectives or things which don’t actively hinder those objectives. If we take “take 50 graveyards in AV” as an example, because games are fairly short unless you run into a hk farming premade, people who are after this achievement often try and tag graveyards that don’t help you win. Iceblood for example when you’ve already got Frostwolf and could really do without everyone you just killed ressing in the base, the one place you’re trying to get to. I’m also iffy about achievements which favour dps classes like the killing blow one. We shouldn’t have to either get creative (Sprout got hers at lev 82 courtesy of a siege engine in IoC) or play a role we don’t like in order to get an achievement (yes I realise that achievements aren’t mandatory but I’m not convinced the vast majority of the player base does).
5. Bots
  • The Problem: Winning when half your team aren’t actually playing is tricky.
  • My Solution: Harsh penalties for those caught botting. Because this is a multi-player game, cheating shouldn’t be tolerated. Also I don’t see why anyone should profit from such behaviour. I’d take away every single piece of pvp gear, regardless of whether they were botting or not when they got it. However, I’d also take a look at the way the game allows certain scripts to be used. At the moment you can enter  battlegrounds using a script and I believe this is how a lot of bot programs work. Removing this loophole would also stop the AV pre-former working which would get rid of the 40 man hk farming groups which are fairly common at the moment, at least in the EU.

6. “Killing blow stealers” – Those that Complain

  • The Problem: This ties in with the previous issue. Every battleground seems to have at least one, usually either a rogue or a ret paladin who seems to assume that everyone they hit will provide them with a killing blow. They have their addon installed to track said killing blows and believe that their prowess in this field demonstrates how super awesome they are. If anyone else happens to accidentally “steal” said killing blow, they stop whatever they are doing, even if it results in their death to complain vocally about how unfair and pathetic you are and that you should “get your own killing blows mate”.
  • My solution: Sort the scoreboard by something other than killing blows as default. It’s the least important feature on there. What it should do is read your spec when you enter and sort by damage for everyone who isn’t a healer and healing for all those that are.
  • Possible negatives: This wouldn’t make the annoying KB hunters go away but at least it would make pointing out they’re doing the same dps as a wet paper bag whilst you’re trying to defend a node solo a lot easier.

7. Absorbs not showing on the scoreboard

  • The Problem: As a Disc Priest around 50 percent of my contribution in a battleground doesn’t show on the scoreboard. Now I can live without my dispels turning up and the same for my cc but it annoys me on so many levels that all my pretty shiny absorbs that save lives are missing.
  • My Solution: If addons like recount can correctly figure out the absorbs from the combat log I see no reason other than laziness as to why this hasn’t been fixed already. If something is going to be displayed for public consumption, I’d like it to be accurate. Explaining class mechanics to idiots whilst trying to play properly is a little frustrating.

The full list of things which annoy me in PvP is actually considerably longer but is comprised of things could only be fixed by not letting half the player base play battlegrounds. So have I missed anything? What would you like to see changed about the way we battleground going into MoP?

Sunday Screenshot – Fire Festival

It’s been a while since I did a screenshot post and since I’ve been taking quite a few pictures whilst flying around stealing flames and honouring fires, I thought I’d post a few.

We might have failed to take Gnomeregan, but taking Silvermoon was a push over!

The Fires of Stratholme

The Gates of Mulgore looking towards the ruins of Camp T

Tarren Mill in the rain

The Bonfire at Bogpaddle

Mauerblümchen: Depression and the Emperor’s New Clothes

This is purely a personal post so feel free to run away now.

There has been a bit of discussion floating around about depression and how it effects us all in one way or another, whether we suffer from it ourselves or are close to someone who does. The reason I chose to throw my hat into the ring on the subject is that I keep seeing people talk about how the anonymity of the internet helps them, makes them feel more confident, happier even. I on the other hand am the complete opposite of that. For those of you who don’t speak German, the first word of the title translates as “wallflower” and that’s how I feel on-line. The girl in the corner, the one no one asks to dance unless it’s a dare.

When I’m down, I have zero self confidence, zero self belief and a whole bunch of self loathing but in the outside world I can fake it. Much of my working life has been spent dealing with upset, stressed and often angry individuals, many of whom were so wrapped up in their own issues (rightly so), that they wouldn’t have noticed if I burst into tears in front of them or danced around dressed as a clown for a bit. I learnt very early on that looks are hugely important (a mother who tells you how ugly you are at very opportunity tends to do that for you) and now, as long as I feel my facade is properly in place, my carefully constructed mask of makeup and expensive clothes I can function reasonably well even though I’m broken inside. Of course, I live in terror that just like the Emperor’s New Clothes, some bright spark will see right through me, will spot the terrified and miserable little girl posing as a professional but to date, no one has yelled “fraud” at me.

Then we come to WoW and twitter and the rest of the internet which should be the perfect hiding place for someone like me but I’m clearly doing it wrong.  I watch twitter scrolling past, wanting to join in but feeling I have nothing to contribute. Even the basics take a huge amount of effort on my part, like responding to a question that I know the answer to because I’m afraid of being laughed at, of having my feelings of worthlessness reinforced. When the people who supposedly love you, criticise your every move, why wouldn’t strangers?

In-game with the exception of pvp, I shy away from contact with other people. I would love to raid in MoP but I know I won’t, the thought of trialling for another guild, of having to prove myself is too much to contemplate. It’s the same with 5 mans and LFR, without someone I know there to make me feel more comfortable, I’m just too insecure to queue up.  It doesn’t matter that I have a whole bunch of hardmode achievements and that a relatively hardcore guild felt that I deserved a legendary, inside I feel a failure. I used to make my husband two man current heroics with me because I couldn’t queue up to do them 5 man. No wonder he doesn’t play tanks any more and yes, it has occurred to me that if you can two man something you could certainly manage with 5 but I still couldn’t make that leap of faith.

Battlegrounds on other hand is a completely different situation, I have no idea why but it’s an environment I’m comfortable in, perhaps because it’s a bit like work. It’s not paranoia, they are out to get you! Also as I said in reply to Navi’s post, I think I focus so much on winning that I tend to forget what’s going on inside my head.

So why the soul searching now? Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about perceptions recently. My Mother thinks the internet is full of monsters because you can’t see who you’re talking to, because everyone wears a mask yet the same is true of the real world. People show us the faces they want us to see, regardless of the space they are in. The face we project often isn’t what we see when we look in the mirror either. I applied for a nice and boring admin job the other week and didn’t get it, instead I got unsolicited advice from the Interviewing board who thought I’d be wasting my time and abilities doing something so mundane. I put the phone down and burst into tears, they wanted to me to apply for a couple of “proper” jobs within the same Department but how can I, someone who has screwed up their own life so much possibly take up a position where I’d get to play God with other people’s lives. Where failure has real and potentially life destroying consequences, not to me but to the people I’m meant to be helping. At times I think people just don’t see what’s right in front of them, how can they miss the rivers of scars on my arms, contours which map out the worst days of my life. How can they miss the tremor in my voice, my pulse hammering away just beneath my skin like a drum. Then I start to wonder if deep down, we’re all the same, it’s all an act for everyone and that inside us all there is this tiny gnomelike creature terrified of discovery.

I think the other part of my issue, is that I feel almost like a fraud for talking about depression because on the surface I have a perfect life. A husband who adores me, a large and complicated family who love me in their own special way, money to buy whatever I want. I have all the trapping which should make me happy, but I’m not. I have dealt with such terrible things at work, victims of torture and abuse which make my abusive ex look like a puppy dog, I feel bad for being miserable, for hating the way I look, for having days when the only thing which made the loathing go way was to drown it out by hurting myself.  I read other people’s accounts of their depression and feel dreadful because even at my darkest moments, when I’ve contemplated dying I still function like a badly programmed robot. On a side note, I think that’s why the idea of Tranquillity in Dragon Age appeals to me, oh to be able to do my job without emotions getting in the way.

Now it’s like a river, there are calms and rapids and rocks lurking just below the surface. For a family who don’t talk about depression and mental illness, we sure have a lot of it. Suicide attempts that aren’t mentioned, Great Aunts locked up in what they used to call asylums, alcoholics too, one of my Great Grandmamma’s lived until she was a 98 and drank a bottle of whiskey a day. So many skeletons lurking in the closet and yet to the outside observer, we’re a perfect family.

In my less depressed periods I’ve always tried to push past my demons. At school I joined the debating team and actually captained the debate team for two years with great success (apart from the time I turned up to a competition too drunk to be coherent but that’s another story). I always wore long skirts so the audience wouldn’t see my knees knocking but I stood up there and did it.  I started blogging as a sort of therapy, I thought trying to write to an admittedly flexible timetable might help keep my mind on the positives of life rather than the negatives. I force myself to comment on other people’s blogs and it takes a while because I delete each comment three or four times before I’m happy with it. Yesterday I queued for Ahune solo, I know it sounds like nothing but to me it was a huge undertaking. I was shaking the entire time, just waiting for something terrible to happen. It didn’t but the Gods of RNG didn’t see fit to reward my courage with a pet or a scythe either.

I accept now that I’ll never be free of this, that it’s always going to be apart of me. The little demon on my shoulder whose face and voice alters to fit the circumstances, worried about your appearance, well then it wears your Mother’s face. Stressed about failure, then it switches to being icy cold, your father telling you no one loves a loser, that daddy’s girl wins whatever the cost. Broken something and oh look, my subconscious has just conjured up my ex like a demon lover, “clumsy girls get hurt, what’s one more bruise when you’re so stupid you can’t walk straight”. The bruises on the outside fade, scars too but inside those wounds remain fresh as the day they were carved into you.

I can’t change the past but I’m not going to give in because if nothing else I’ve learnt that I’m better than them. Better than those petty people who seek only to destroy what they can’t control or understand. I’ve applied for those jobs I was afraid of, because I feel that the very fact that I understand the consequences of not taking enough care means that I will be good at it. That I’ll fight for each and every person as if my own survival depended on it. Bit by bit I’m going to challenge myself into doing the things I want to do, be more vocal, volunteer to help people and perhaps one day, I’ll become the woman I project in public.

“I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want!” – A Blog Azeroth Shared Topic

The shared topic this week is:

What is in game that you want, but you can’t have? Is there an animal you want to tame, a critter you want to collect, a tabard that has the perfect design for a transmog set etc etc.

What is it you want, but know you can’t get your hands on and have to stare at longingly whenever you log in?

Suggested by Dragonray of  Azerothian Life.

As I started thinking about, I realised I have a rather large list of things I secretly covet.

Mini-Pets

I’d love a tiny gargoyle following me about. He could fly after me and then when I’m stationary for any length of time, he’d roost on the nearest building.

A patchwork dog as a mini-pet or as a Hunter’s pet, either way I’d call him Scraps. If he was a mini-pet, he’d be ideal as a tailoring or leatherworking recipe. Some dodgy Undead somewhere in Northrend could teach the recipe.

Mounts

A proper boat for cruising the waterways of Azeroth with my friends and loved ones. Note “proper boat”, a leaky raft does not equal a boat. There are lots of boat models parked all over the place, it’s about time Blizzard made them sea worthy and started handing them out. I’d even fish for one of these beauties.

Visuals

This is without a doubt my favourite painting in Azeroth. She always makes me think of Robert Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess“. I can see the original painting (before the art forgers got their mitts on it) hanging in some noble abode like Shadowfang Keep or Scholomance. Now when you visit the Caverns of Time: Old Hillsbrad, there is a chance you’ll spot this young lady going about her business.

Obviously this is before she ended up as the “Last Duchess”, but I’d love either the ability to make humans who look like this or a trinket which turns you randomly into the people who populate Old Hillsbrad. Some of the models are too awesome to be hidden away in a back water which most people probably don’t visit much any more, especially since you have to go to Southshore, not just run the dungeon to see them. Failing that, can I have her clothes please.


I also want a wooden flamingo as an ornament. Just as something you can put down when you feel like it to add a bit of colour and tackiness to the proceedings. Waiting for the Raid Leader to finish yelling, plant a flamingo. Bored of defending a node no one wants to attack, plant a flamingo.

Finally, in terms of what is available in game. Attumen please hand over your horse. It’s getting embarrassing now, I’m exalted on three characters plus I clear the place four times a week and I have never ever seen that mount drop. However, I might be bloody but I’m unbowed, I SHALL ride Midnight!

BETA: Ravens, Cranes and Crabs

When I first started playing WoW, I came across the Crazy Cat Lady whilst trying to find Westfall and knew that I had to have a cat of my very own.  Unfortunately however, at that point I hadn’t quite found the AH or really got the hang of making money at all, so scraping together 40 silver was a little tricky. I got there in the end though and by lev 18, I had my very own Bombay cat following me. As I made more characters, I quickly discovered that there were more pets to be had and set about locating them. My first ever Gnome got lost in Dun Morogh trying to track down the rabbit seller and some sweet Norwegian ran from Darnassus all the way to Tanaris to give my Warlock an owl as a token of his affection (he wasn’t quite level 40 and so it took him slightly longer than it took us to clear ZF to get there). I loved the idea of most of the races having a pet associated with them as it added to the flavour of the starting zones and home cities. Visit Orgrimmar and buy a snake or come to Exodar and purchase a moth, just a little something to set them apart.

So when Cataclysm was announced, I admit to being disappointed that the Worgen and Goblins didn’t come with their very own pets. However with the coming of MoP, it looks as if that is about to change.

At the moment, the Pet Battle Trainers will sell you a pet based on your race.

The rather large and glossy Raven for the Worgen. A must I would say for any Shadow Priest, especially when combined with the shadow raven glyph.

A white Crab for the Goblins.

And for the Pandarens, a very pretty delicate little crane, the Jade Crane Chick.

Assuming this will be the only method of obtaining these pets, I think it’s a great idea. It pushes people into playing through each of the phased start zones at least once if you want these pets on your account as well bringing a bit more flavour to the races.

A rare thing: Humar the Pridelord

This is for Euphyley over at WoW Rare Spawns who is celebrating her first blogging anniversary.

My favourite rare spawn in game is this fellow here, Humar the Pridelord.

Way back in vanilla, my husband started playing a hunter as an alt with the eventual intention of making it his main for a period. As he levelled he started looking around on the internet, researching pets and looking for interesting ones to tame. That search took us to Petopia amongst other places and in the end lead to the Barrens. As a low level Night Elf hunter on a Horde heavy pvp server this was not an easy plan, however he persevered and was rewarded by a loyal companion who kept him company for a long time. Then when I came to make a hunter of my own, I followed in his footsteps, running from Theramore up into the Barrens to tame my very own Pridelord.

There was however a problem, back then levelling pets was horribly painful and because certain pets had different attack speeds, sometimes you just had to let go… a process which always left me feeling devastated.

———————-

The hunter and her shadow, a huge black feline slid through the forests of Ashenvale, instinctively keeping to the shade. Their passage was silent, paws and feet making no noise as they glided over twigs and heaps of dead leaves. As they neared the border with the Barrens, the Night Elf slowed her pace, her unease translating itself to her companion. The cat whined softly, rubbing his head against her leg. “Sshh”, she reached down and stroked his thick fur, “almost there boy, almost there”. In reply, he licked her hand, his tongue rough as bark.

They picked their moment, waiting until the Orcs guarding the rampant were distracted by a party of young Trolls, arrogant and brash on their first trip to Ashenvale. Moving in tandem like a well oiled machine, they worked their way deeper and deeper into enemy territory. The cat scouted ahead whilst the Elf shadowmelded beneath the heavy squat trees. Had any eyes seen them, it would have been clear that this was an old familiar pattern.

On a hill over looking the Crossroads, they stopped for food and to gather their strength for what was to come. Thick steaks for the cat, donated by a dinosaur whose curiosity had done him no favours and dumplings from home for the hunter. After they ate, they stretched out and gazed down at the busy town beneath them.  “Remember all the fun we had here boy?”. The cat purred, rubbing his head against her. “Hunting all those cowardly Horde. There was that warrior, the Troll, we chased her half way to Orgrimmar didn’t we”. He growled, showing a touch of fang and she smiled, patting him. “You liked the taste of Troll didn’t you boy”. The two of them lay in companionable silence, reliving their glory days, as they stalked living prey across the barren landscape of their memories.

As dusk fell, an observant watcher would have seen two moving shadows drifting towards Ratchet. A hunter, her violet skin and height marking her as a Night Elf walking lightly in the pawprints of a large black cat who ran a little ahead, turning back every minute or so to make sure she was still there. As they covered the dusty ground, the hunter’s thoughts returned to the first time she had followed this path. That nervousness in the pit of her stomach, the tension in her grip on her bow, both feelings she had thought were long gone came swimming up from the dark depths of her memories. Sensing her distress, the cat paused for a second, licking her hand to reassure her.

Just above the Goblin settlement of Ratchet, they came a halt, pausing to listen to the sounds of drunken partying mingling with the drunken yells of the dock workers loading ships for Booty Bay. Closing her eyes for a moment, the hunter let her thoughts drift back to the days when she too had frequented those parties, waking up to a throbbing headache, foreign sheets and the golden eyes of her cat, regarding her and her new friends expressionlessly as he guarded her belongings from quick fingered thieves.

“Almost there boy, almost home”. The cat whined in agreement and led the way, past gnarled and twisted trees, their thick branches providing the only shade and through thick grasses which cut at your legs, flicking back like whips. Before she realised it, they were back at that spot, the right place under the right tree. Sitting down, their backs to the broad trunk she tried to put her thoughts in order. Stroking his fur, she found herself gazing down at the white marring the thick black coat. In her head, the white hairs melted into snow and the temperature dropped as the parched earth grew a snowy blanket. Out of the shadows, the bridge at Dun Baldar crystallised into being. The acrid smell of gunfire caught the air, the heavy thud of war drums and the twang of her bow strings replaced the Goblin sea shanties but most importantly, the large feline shape at her side, the shadow which tied all these memories together bounded like a kitten through her subconscious.

Ragged breathing pulled her from the safety of the past, “it’s alright boy, you’re home now”, blinking back tears from her silver eyes, she held him close. She felt the last rough stroke of his tongue across her hand, one last goodbye before her friend slid into the realm of memories and dreams, leaving her alone beneath the open sky. Digging the grave was easy, leaving him in it, far harder. Looking down at her closest friend, so small and somehow diminished in death, she found herself cursing her race, condemned to keep leaving those she loved in the cold damp earth.

Walking away, followed by nothing but her own lengthening shadow, she wiped away her tears. Then before beginning her descent into Ratchet, to the tavern in which she intended to drink until all this was just a bad dream, she looked back. There in the half light, she saw him again, standing proud before the tree. A sea breeze caught the branches, shifting the light and revealing nothing but long grasses, shattering the mirage. “Goodbye old friend and good hunting”, raising her hand in farewell, the hunter, her heart breaking headed into town alone.

——————–

Now of course, it’s a different story as all my hunters have more than enough room to house him. That emotional bond with my virtual pets is just as strong however, the one thing guaranteed to make me mad in pvp is to persecute my pet. You can /spit spam me until I’m drenched or laugh at me until you cry and you won’t get a reaction. Hurt my pet though and you better be ready to die, over and over again.

Sprout the Uncanny: A Blog Azeroth Shared Topic

The shared topic this week is:

If Blizzard added your main as an NPC in WoW, where would they be located and what would be their function? Give us a shot illustrating the fact.

Suggested by Cymre.

I actually found this surprisingly hard. The more I thought about the various possibilities, Sprout just didn’t seem to fit in.

Priest Trainer perhaps?

Well she’s not exactly the most patient Gnome out there. I can definitely imagine her yelling at any poor unfortunates who couldn’t master the correct use of a spell. Not to mention the fact that she swears like … well a tank, very good at taunting is Sprout, /chicken! I also feel that as a Gnome, she doesn’t belong in the Cathedral and she doesn’t like Ironforge (too claustrophobic) so as a Priest Trainer finding a home for her would be tricky. That’s before we even start delving into exactly what sort of deity she worships (I suspect it’s a dark and angry God!).

Tailoring Trainer then?

Given that she’s more into sticking pins into people than pinning patterns I don’t see this as a suitable career path. On top of that, the only recipe she’s interested in teaching is the embersilk net one so she’d be a very specialist sort of trainer.

Quest giver? You can’t go wrong with a quest giver can you?

Whilst she’d quite like the idea of sending people off on weird and wonderful trips to half way around the known world, Blizzard seem determined to stop that and sending someone off to kill something 10 yards away isn’t Sprout’s cup of tea. Also she’s not too taken with the concept of rewards, oh, it’s fine when she’s the adventurer but as the quest giver… people would be lucky to get 3 copper and a broken I-win button. In fact I suspect her go to reward would be a flea in their ear.

So what does that leave?

The Darkmoon Faire Island is Sprout’s home from home. She loves floating around it’s dark and creepy woods and beaches so it would be the perfect place for her to set up shop. She’d offer a range of balloons, red, orange, purple, green as well as some more “exotic” ones, a gnome effigy balloon, a tauren head balloon and perhaps a special cluster of balloons just like Vin and Jaga float away on after their respective quests. Every so often, she’d giggle and whisper random faire goers things like “They all Float!” and “You’ll float too!”. When the Faire wasn’t available, she would appear all over the Azeroth, half an hour here, half an hour there, offering her balloons and scaring low levels with her creepy whispers before disappearing in a cloud of dust, balloons and all.

“They Can’t Take That Away from Me!”

The Blog Azeroth shared topic this week is:

What are the top three items on your main that you just love for sentimental, fun or silly reasons and would hate to lose? Tell us a story, what makes them so special and as always illustrate with screenshots

Suggested by Cymre

I found this a little difficult because my current “main” has only been my main for the last six or so months. Thus I’m going to cheat slightly. For the vast majority of my WoW playing time, my main has been the same class, just not the same character. So here are my top items from the banks of my three Priests, the things that I’d hate to lose (and yes, I can’t count either :D).

Erinys

  • Benediction was an obvious choice for Erinys. Looking back I think that receiving it was one of her defining moments, the second she started to develop a personality of her own and become something slightly different to just an extension of me.
  • Next up, her Val’anyr. Now I’ve had a love hate relationship with my legendary ever since the first shard was master looted into my bags. On the one hand, especially in light of what they have done for other legendaries, it seemed like an after thought. No RP and no flavour. On the other hand, I only joined the guild which gave it me two weeks before Ulduar was released and as soon as one of the officers who had been with the guild for considerably longer had his, I was given the next one. Being picked for something over other people who have been around longer is always a lovely feeling.
  • Finally her Frostwolf trinket. Over the years, Erinys has spent an awful lot of time in Alterac Valley, in fact all my Priests have and this is a memento of that time.

Sprout

  • Dreamseeker Dandelion. Sprout loves this off-hand. When I was a little girl, my Grandmother was really into the language of flowers. From never putting red and white roses together unless you want their colours to be recreated in the blood and bandages surrounding a loved one to sending us laurel leaves and white heather before exams to bring us good luck. So this always makes me think of her.
  • The Darkmoon Balloon is one of my favourite pets. I love how “Children of the Corn” Sprout looks running around in PvP with this trailing in her wake.
  • I’ve also had a lot of fun popping down my Romantic Picnic Basket. It adds a certain style to the proceedings when you’re camping someone.

Dornröschen

  • Dorn was primarily a PvP character but she needed something else to wear for the odd Molten Core and ZG runs. So I went in search of the Truefaith Vestments pattern. Lots of Stratholme runs later, it was mine. I think it’s up there with the Mooncloth robes as a definitive Priest robe.
  • Battle Tabard of the Defilers. General Dornröschen is exalted with all three of the original battlegrounds but AB was the hardest to get therefore she wears their tabard with pride. In fact she’s the only one of my character who actually wears a tabard outside of rep farming. The fact that it matches her favourite pet and hair colour is just icing on the cake.
  • Royal Seal of Eldre’Thalas. This is the trinket which came out of the Priest version of the Dire Maul book “Holy Bologna: What the Light won’t tell you“. I always wondered just what Shadow Priest Allister felt the need to tell us. Something along the line of “healing sucks, go shadow and melt faces” perhaps. Back in Vanilla both Dorn and Erinys spent a lot of time in Dire Maul, farming mp5 gear as well as helping our MT get his sword so again it represents a lot of happy WoW memories for me.
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