The Call of the Scarab

I really wanted to like these mini holidays but having tried out the Call of the Scarab, I’m struggling to see the point. Yes, there are now lots of people in Silithus again but other than that, it seems to lack focus. It was good to run AQ 40 again as I hadn’t been back for a while but it just highlighted the difference between the game then and the game now. Having to wait for Shield Wall cooldowns when we were pushing for server first kills on Princess Hurhuran is vastly different to two-shotting her on an undergeared level 95 Disc Priest. That said killing C’thun did put a smile on my face even though he went down in the duration of the average sneeze.

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I also got around to collecting the Oracle set so Sprout now looks like this:

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She also got exalted with the Cenarion Circle as an added and unexpected bonus. I gained almost a full level (95 to 96) from arrival by doing the world quests for the two AQ dungeons and also by doing a couple of the quests for the giant bugs which spawn in the hives which is decent gain, especially when compared against the alternative…. questing in Draenor.

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Silithus is an underappreciated zone, I know I had forgotten how pretty it can be under a full moon so perhaps reliving our past glories was a sensible choice for the first micro holiday, I just wish that the Call of the Scarab had slightly more to do as part of it. The race to show your flag at the gates seems to be region wide too and I think we’re outnumbered, certainly we’re outnumbered in terms of people who are interested in taking part. I like being able to wear the Twilight cultist outfit over your own regular clothes, but a transmogrification set that could be farmed and/or sold on the auction house so that people unable to log wouldn’t miss out would have been better (I want the hood!).

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It will be interesting to see how the other micro holidays play out and whether participation in them increases or decreases across the year. So far in terms of providing an interlude in leveling for a character high enough to level to solo the dungeons and do the world quests without dying, it’s been fun but my two level 110’s have found it a bit lacklustre, possibly because pvping over “lol sand” didn’t excite me at the time.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Happy Halloween

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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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Trick or Treat!

As the nights draw in and all Hallows Eve slides through the shadows, getting closer and closer, Ambermist of Battlechicken challenged us to describe how our characters would dress up for a spot of candy acquiring.

If your character were going Trick or Treating in Azeroth, Tyria, or wherever they call home, what would their costume be? Tell me all about the what and the why and if you can find a picture of it or something similar, please post that with it–I’d love to see!

We tend to dress up as what scares us the most and for Sprout, the bogeyman under the bed and the monster lurking beneath the bridge has always been a Troll. Thus this Hallows End, she will be found cavorting around demanding sweeties whilst dressed as an evil little Troll creature, complete with pet snake to hiss on demand if people aren’t generous enough in their candy sharing.

Give me sugary snacks or I’ll let my snake hug you!

The Angel of the North

Just  come back from a long weekend trip down south to see family and take them their Christmas presents. Now because sitting in car for 6 hours is nothing but boring we stopped a couple of times. First in Edinburgh for a late breakfast, then in Alnwick for a quick run around the Castle gardens and finally in Newcastle for a closer look at the Angel himself.

Ignoring the fact that the sun setting at 4pm is horrible, I love the fact that this photograph completely manages to hide the fact that a freezing icy wind was blowing straight across the hillside. I have mixed feelings about the statue itself, I can’t help but feel the wings should be more rounded and softer but on the whole, seeing up close with the sun behind it, it was almost beautiful.

Back on WoW, I logged on to find a cute little whelping from Blizzard. The deep breath animation is adorable if somewhat pathetic. Would have been so much more fun if you could incinerate lowbies with it.

Then there is the new Pilgrim’s Bounty festival. Food, a reason to visit old familiar places and more clothes to fill up my bags. The perfect remedy for a spot of WoW grumpiness. Plus, shooting rogues…. how awesome is that.