All I want for Hallows End is ….

Tomorrow heralds the start of my favourite WoW holiday, Hallows End and I’ve got my fingers crossed that these two little no longer alive kittens have made into the festivities. I know the game is already loaded with cats, especially when compared to dogs but still.. you can’t have too many ghost cats can you?

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In fact I could forgo all the other bits and bobs, the apple ducking, the skeletons hanging on cupboards and even the Headless Horseman if only they make it into the game this year. Please Blizzard, after all I’ve been a good little Priest (honest!).

The Brewfest and the Toybox: A Word of Warning

Despite wanting to fill my forthcoming Toybox as quickly as possible, I nearly made a silly and rather sloppy error. Yes, I committed that cardinal sin of assuming I had done something when the truth turned out to be the opposite. There are currently three items available from the Brewfest which will fit into the Toybox:

and now is the time to ensure you have them all. Don’t be like me who had three of one across various characters and none of the other two!

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A Few of my Favourite Things: Mr and Mrs WoW’s Community Project

Mr and Mrs WoW have proposed an interesting community project to combat the negativity bouncing around as we slowly drift through the doldrums. They are asking the community at large to inform them what we love doing in Warcraft in these slow days before the expansion is released.

For me it’s a fairly simple list and I hope my little diagram gives a few hints!

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Up there at number one is Archaeology because it gives me the opportunity to wander around Azeroth just as I used to do whilst herbing in the original game. It’s an excuse to relax, look at the scenario and perhaps kill a few mobs or do a spot of fishing as you meander past. On top of that, you also make things which provide the opportunity for either toys or grey items to muse over, perhaps sparking a story or two.

My second choice is exploring old dungeons, the ones I’ve run a thousand times before but never used to stop and take in the scenery. Blackrock Depths is a definite favourite because I like hanging out in the Grim Guzzler picking up Dark Iron Dwarf outfits (my old raid leader really hated these) and the odd pickled egg. The music isn’t too bad either and you can always pick up a few items of clothing to help transform your latest outfit into something even better.

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Third I’ve picked Festivals, those annual excuses to get out of the cities and wander about visiting zones you haven’t seen in ages, dressing up and generally being silly. My favourite of these is Hallows End with it’s broomsticks, headless horseman and candy but really I’m a sucker for all of them, even the weekly Wanderer’s Festival.

My final choice is a bit a cheat really. It’s not so much something I do in WoW but something I do in between playing and that’s catching up on what the rest of the community are doing and saying. Sometimes it takes someone else’s perspective of something like Pet Battling to change your own perception of it (Thanks Navimie and Cymre). I hated archaeology when it was first introduced but I remember reading someone’s almost ode to the wonders of digging in Azeroth’s fertile soil (can’t remember who wrote it) and became hooked. The Godmother helped alter my feelings towards Garrisons and so on. Playing a multi player game is one thing, but diving into the community shows a whole new world out there.

Spirit of the Seas: The WoW Festival I’d design

My eye was caught by this week’s WoW Insider Community Blog post in which we are asked to design our own WoW holiday.

So without further ado I would like to present The Spirit of the Seas, a festival in which the denizens of Azeroth give thanks to the Goddess of the Sea for her bounty of fishes and her kindness in sparing the lives of sailors. Azeroth after all has a lot of coast lines and boats a plenty so it surely makes sense that it’s people should pay their respects to the beautiful and fickle sea.

The main action would take place in four different beachfront locations.

For the Alliance:

  • Darkshore
  • Westfall

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For the Horde:

  • Echo Isles
  • Beach in Ghostlands

There would be faction appropriate lanterns hung on sticks pushed into sand, beach chairs and little stalls set up by the locals. Food in the shape of fish would be available through the festival as would cold beers or other suitably chilled beverages. All of the above would provide some sort of stat buff. Souvenirs could be purchased including a bucket and spade which for the duration of the festival would build a little sand castle on the ground in front of you. You can also purchase bubbles of stranglekelp as a sort of Festival long mini pet, a bit like the Green and Yellow balloons the Dark Moon Faire lets you buy and a blow up horse for paddling with because someone thought that inviting Goblins to set up a stall would be a good idea.

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There would also be increased activity on most beaches with little groups of revelers talking about how much they hope to see sea monsters and telling fantastical stories about giant whales and squid which eat ships for breakfast.

Events

The mainstay of the event would take place at 8pm server time every night. The relevant faction leader for each location would arrive by boat with much pomp and ceremony. They would then make a speech about how important the sea has been to the people who live along it’s coastlines. This segment would end with them dropping something personal into the water.

Next food and other offerings would be piled onto boats. These are then pushed out to sea and set alight as they drift as a tribute to the Goddess.

Watching the ceremony would award you the achievement “Burning Boats – There is no accounting for Tribute taste” – listen to a Faction Leader give thanks for the bounties of the sea.

There would also be another achievement for listening to all 4 Faction leaders within one Festival but this wouldn’t count towards the meta achievement.

As the distant flames flicker getting smaller and smaller as they sail towards the horizon, a wave of ghostly figures rises from the depths and wanders up onto the beach to mingle once against with the living. These are the souls of those lost at sea. Clicking on them brings up a dialogue box in which you can offer them drink and ask to hear their stories. Interacting with them has a chance to reward you with a broken shell which when used turns you into one of them for 10 minutes on a 30 minute cooldown, if you die with this effect up, your body breaks down into seaweed and shells just like the  Kvaldir in Northrend.

This awards you the achievement “Full Fathom Five” – talk to the drowned during the Spirit of the Seas Festival.

At around hourly intervals, Naga would attack the beaches trying to carry off festival goers. This would culminate in a giant shark attacking the boat races. “Maws II the revenge” seeks payback for the murder of his brother by eating as many sailors as possible. Killing him would net you currency and a chance to get your very own “Son of Maws 3D” mini pet, basically a really annoyed looking baby shark in a bubble.

You would also be awarded the achievement “We didn’t need a bigger boat after all” – Rid the world of Maws II albeit temporarily.

Other activities would include boat races. This would be mostly like ram racing but without the annoying fatigue component. Coming first in a race would reward you with a winner’s bag which would contain more pearls and possibly some random item. Taking part would give you an achievement naturally. The races would take place regardless of whether there were other players there or not, letting you compete against famous NPCs, generic locals or other players depending on who was ready for some hardcore sailing at the time. I’m sure for example Nat Pagle wouldn’t be able to resist showing up at such an event and I bet he’s a pretty mean rower. Rowing too hard would make you sea sick which would force the title <Sea Sick> on you for two hours. Whilst feeling slightly green you would be able to get optional achievements for things like killing 10 players in PvP and killing a raid boss.

For the duration of the Festival, all catches in salt water will yield a minimum of 2 fish per catch as the Goddess rewards her followers well. In fact sea life would be particularly bountiful at this time, increasing the drop rate of a certain turtle mount I haven’t got yet as well as increasing the numbers of turtles and fish swimming around.

Then as every Festival requires a bit where you have to run around the world picking stuff up, there would be secret watery shrines to the Goddess dotted around Azeroth. In order to make these hidden locations visible to all the clandestine clan who worship the Goddess every day rather than for two weeks a year have set a challenge. Are you willing to be ported up into the heavens and then to take a leap of faith into the turbulent waters below? On falling into the sea (all forms of slow fall are banned) you receive a vision of the Goddess in humanoid form (she appears as a Night Elf in Darkshore, a Bloodelf in Ghostlands etc) who thanks you for your tribute and blesses you. The blessing not only gives you 10 percent experience/rep buff but it also allows you to see what has been concealed. The Goddess returns you to the beach with a whispered memory lingering in your mind, visit her shrines and whisper a prayer there in return for pearls.

The location of said shrines would vary between being underwater, think Vashj’ir and nestled on the edge of beaches.  There would be achievements for visiting all those on the Eastern Kingdoms, Kalimdor, Outlands, Northrend and Panderia as well one for completing the lot.

Items

The currency for the Festival would be pearls and these would be gained through daily quests for things such as boat racing, from visiting shrines and from participating in Maws kills.

(Some of the pearls can be opened and have a small chance to yield either the opposing faction’s boats or a giant crab mount which can travel on land, over water and on the sea floor and whilst you’re riding it, you can’t drown).

Mermaid tail – makes you swim faster and provides underwater breathing not to mention style by the bucket load (for Cymre).

Boats – These would come in four different flavours, one for each of the Festival locations but would go into your mount selection so a player assuming they play both sides could collect all four.

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Polymorph: Fish out of water. Pretty much as it says on the tin. Victims of polymorph turn into a rather miserable looking fish and flap around pathetically, perfect for adding insult to injury when you polymorph someone off their mount in PvP.

Drops

Mini Shark in a bubble pet (Maws 3D) Mr Harpy insists that it needs to have the proper old fashioned 3D glasses complete with red and green lens.

Broken Shell from the Souls lost at Sea. This turns you into a ghostly figure a bit like the Kvaldir in Northrend, with barnacles and sea weed for hair although you are still essentially recognizable as the race you were before the sea change started. Dying with the debuff up has the same effect as when the Kvaldir die, collapsing into shells and seaweed and particles of sand.

Examples of Achievement

  • “Burning Boats – There is no accounting for Tribute taste” – Listen to a Faction Leader praise the Goddess for the bounty of the sea
  • “Full Fathom Five” – talk to the drowned during the Spirit of the Sea Festival.
  • We didn’t need a bigger boat after all” – Rid the world of Maws II albeit temporarily.
  • “Castles in the Sand” – Build a Sand Castle on the following beaches during the Spirit of the Seas.

Title:

For completing the meta achievement there would be a title, <Pearl of the Goddess>.

Thanksgiving 2013

Thanksgiving Sprout would like to say a few heartfelt words in thanks.

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First of all to the Godmother of Alternative Chat fame (or possibly infamy depending on your stance on flying mounts on Draenor) who offered a stable and friendly home to Sprout and her associates.

Then to all those wonderful people I’ve encountered through playing WoW and through blogging about it. To Seph without whom I may well never have taken the plunge into writing on such a public medium. Also to Saga, Tome, Matty, Navi and Cymre who were some of my first readers and commentators when I finally managed to go public. I suffer rather badly from anxiety and to say my self esteem is low would be an understatement. Recently in particular things have been extremely bad, to the point where I’ve struggled to do anything socially at all because I’ve felt the “mask” is paper thin, that everyone else can see the flaws within. Just knowing there are people out there within the blogging community who don’t think I’m total waste of space helps and so thank you again to all of you, readers, commentators, lurkers and ships which pass in the night. Prinnie also warrants a special mention because no matter how bad I’m feeling, her posts can usually manage to raise a smile so thank you (and believe me, it’s hard for Sprout to thank Goblins!).

I also want to thank Amerance for hosting the first Blog Azeroth Thanksgiving two years ago which was the catalyst behind my twitter account and I’ve learnt so much from twitter (including the fact that you can lick your own nipple*).Thanksgiving-turkey-2

Thank you also to Mr Harpy who has the patience of a saint for putting up with me, even if he is a photo bombing bouncy green haired pest.

In closing, words can’t quite express just how grateful I am to each and everyone one of you. Thank you once more.

*I’ve been told this is common knowledge, clearly I skipped all the interesting classes at school.

The Reason for the Season – All Hallows Eve and the Day of the Dead

It’s that time of year again when autumn starts to bleed into winter, when the nights get longer and the damp foggy air smells of apples and burning wood. I’ve always been a Halloween girl, addicted to scary stories and tales about things which go bump in the night so I suppose it comes as no surprise that Hallows End and the Day of the Dead are my favourite WoW festivals of all.

Long before I played WoW, I learned all about the rituals of both albeit from two completely different sources. All Hallows Eve from family, time spent in the garden learning how to twist a handful of plants into a “wickerman” as well as ghost stories around the fire and pumpkin carving, the candles kept burning until morning. My knowledge of the Day of the Dead came from backpacking across Mexico armed with a dog eared Spanish dictionary and bucketfuls of curiosity. We spent the Day of the Dead at Teotihuacan before returning to a Puebla lit by candles and full of marigolds.

Hallows End

The Gilneans and the Forsaken

When Hallows End was revamped, I was glad that Blizzard chose the Gilneans as the perfect counterparts to the Forsaken. As neighbours, it’s entirely possible that they would have had similar beliefs and customs so both burning a Wickerman, albeit for ever so slightly different purposes makes perfect sense.

This time of year celebrates the end of the Harvest, the bringing in the fruits of the summer and the slaughtering of livestock to keep the cold winter days at bay. Even as everything begins to die, it brings with it the promise of rebirth, of a new start and that’s precisely what the Wickerman quest offers.

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The idea of a Wickerman has been around for centuries, Julius Caesar wrote about it, claiming that the Druids burnt their enemies inside it (although he did have a reason for wanting to paint them in a savage and dangerous light) and in more modern times it’s featured in books and films.

Dooking for Apples

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Apples have long been associated with fertility and certainly when I “dooked” for apples as a child, we would peel them, throw the peel over your shoulder and then frantically try and read the initial of our future husbands from the mess on the floor. Surprisingly though, I didn’t marry anyone called “S”, the shape that apple peel tends to squiggle into when thrown from a great height.

Guising

The roots of disguising yourself as something else and going door to door seem to have many possible origins. As far back as Celtic times, people would dress up as those recently deceased in an attempt to confuse evil spirits.

Pumpkins and Jack o’lanterns

The term Jack o’lantern was originally coined to describe a will o’the wisp, those creepy balls of marsh gas blamed for leading many travelers to a sticky end in soggy ground. Family tradition has it that they were carved out of sturdier stuff than pumpkin once upon a time and that modern generations have never had it so good. Placed in windows, their candles should keep evil spirits away until dawn and the safety of All Saints Day.

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The Day of the Dead

La Calavera Catrina

Appearing in many guises, like on the decorative plate seen here next to one of Frida Kahlo, La Calavera Catrina is one of the enduring symbols of the Day of the Dead. “Catrina” used to mean a wealthy or well dressed Lady and you don’t need to spend long in Mexico around October/November to discover that “Calavera” means skull. So essentially, at least on paper, she’s a skull in an expensive hat but in reality, she’s so much more.

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So next time you dance with Catrina, remember you are staring the “skull beneath the skin” in the face, the reminder that all us, regardless of money, power and gear score, will die.

Bread of the Dead

Otherwise known as Pan de Muerto, folklore has it that the dead ask for bread and sugar to help them on their journey and this sweet bread provides the perfect sustenance for the soul on it’s final trip.

Marigolds

The Aztec flower of the Dead, Cempasúchil plays a massive part in the Day of the Dead celebrations, adorning altars and forming a path of petals to enable the souls of the dead to return to spend precious time with the living. So it seems only fitting then in Azeroth, they aid us to see both the spirits of our ancestors but also hidden secrets like these forgotten ghosts haunting Raven Hill.

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Tradition has to be important to all of us, but blindly following without understanding is both pointless and potentially dangerous. Don’t eat your own wedding cake, never leave a cloth on a table over night, no shoes on the table, always smash an egg shell into tiny pieces… rituals that you grow up with, so familiar they’re apart of you, actions your body takes without your brain engaging.

Day 15 – A Screenshot A Day

Today’s prompt is Season.

Now this time of year actually happens to be my favourite. That slow slide into autumn, golden leaves falling from the trees, toffee apples and Halloween.

For my shot, I thought I’d pick that somewhat forgotten and neglected Blizzard festival, Harvest  which as it happens is taking place right now.

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