31 August 2011

Day 13: A Fond Memory

Thus continues Saz of World of Saz's Through Your Interface: 15 Days of Screenshots challenge. You can find more participants here.

See Day 12: Inspiring Imagery

Me, with two guildies from my US guild. Both visited me at my place in the US, and one of them is the paladin I frequently mention healing 10s with.

Go to Day 14: Place Swap

19 August 2011

Day 7: Screenshot of the Year

Thus continues Saz of World of Saz's Through Your Interface: 15 Days of Screenshots challenge. You can find more participants here.

See Day 6: Favorite Line

I know I've posted these both before, but both of them really strike me when I look at them. The Cairne picture was dramatically pre-lit by the storm, and is especially poignant because Cairne. ;~; The second shot is simple, and I like the repetition of the circles.

Go to Day 8: Vacation Spot

10 August 2011

Day 2: Player Housing

Thus continues Saz of World of Saz's Through Your Interface: 15 Days of Screenshots challenge. You can find more participants here.

See Day 1: Favorite Hangout

I'll have to write about this some day, but uninhabited houses in interesting locations are super important to me. Here is a nice little cabin in Desolace where Aka likes to relax in her downtime.

Go to Day 3: Representing You

05 August 2011

Day 20: On the last day

This is the next day in Saga of Spellbound's 20 days of...WoW blogging challenge. You can find more participants here.

Catch up on Day 19: The Things Aka Carried

I don't know what would make me stop playing WoW entirely - until now my interest has not waned enough for me to give it up for good. There might be another insurmountable fiasco like RealID, or I may become too busy to play, or maybe the servers are shutting down for good. Although it seems to be a popular decision, I don't know if I would destroy or gift any of my stuff; it seems pointless to do either. I would give Akabeko a proper sendoff, maybe throw on my best duds and head to Mulgore or Grizzly Hills or Hyjal or whatever new zones there are to log out for the last time.

At first I didn't think I could write a piece without the prompting of actually quitting the game, but I toyed around with the idea of either promoting her and fading to black as her life comes to its happy and natural conclusion, or implying that she continues to fight the same fights over and over again, and is finally destroyed by them. Although I have read a few series that end that way, suggesting that the characters go running headfirst into the fray and meet their ends, and I love the heartbreaking poignancy of that sacrifice, I couldn't do it. Then I poked through a few fanfictions, got my head completely filled with present-tense, and sat down to write this. Not gonna lie, it actually made me pretty sad!!


When the summons come, no one is really surprised. She gets congratulations and backslaps from the other guild members. Fellow druids are more awed, and read the letter with reverence before turning wide eyes on her.
You are formally summoned to Moonglade to appear before the council of Archdruids.
It's signed Archdruid Hamuul Runetotem, and the spidery handwriting looks like something the impossibly old tauren might produce.

Dutifully, Akabeko attends the audience in her best armor, repaired and polished until the leather shines as if not stained by gore, and smells more like beeswax than death. She stands stiffly, like a soldier, and idly tries to remember how she is connected to the Archdruid in her clan while he talks.

"Long have you worked with druidic power, Akabeko."

"Yes, Archdruid."

"The Cenarion Circle has recognized your accomplishments." He lets out a soft sigh. "To become an archdruid requires intense commitment and struggle, more than you have known until now."

"I understand, Archdruid."

"You have been an instrument of the Horde. To join the Cenarion Circle is to fully renounce hostility against druids of the Alliance."

Her eyes flick only briefly to the night elves also gathered in the hall before she responds, "I accept, Archdruid." She hopes they can't hear the bloodshed in her voice.

That night, there is a tauren celebration to honor her raising, and the next day she is roused early for training. It is as difficult as Hamuul promised, and she struggles and questions her resolve and submits to more training. Akabeko has always existed as two natures: rage and serenity, motion and stasis. Now they teach her to combine them, and she finds peace as a dire bear and rage as an elder tree.

Her duties change; she can no longer storm threatening keeps with an array of allies at her back. Now she travels with emissaries, and instead of the colorful but serviceable armor of her youth, she wears neutral leathers designed to radiate peace. Rather than her beloved guild mates, she spends her time with trolls and night elves and worgen, all druids, all part of their powerful alliance. The trolls appreciate her grasp of their unique humor, the worgen find camaraderie in their bestial appearances, the night elves accept her insatiable wanderlust, and her fellow tauren find solace in talk of their home and culture.

Hamuul Runetotem dies. She attends his funeral and is given new responsibilities the next day as each Archdruid is elevated in the peculiar hierarchy. There is less time for travel now, and instead of checking on the Overgrowth in the Barrens or the Cenarion Grove in Desolace, she is spending more and more time in Moonglade, negotiating. Akabeko is considered patient and fair, although her methods can be fierce. In addition to lobbying for greater cooperation between Horde and Alliance, she becomes a compassionate ear for young and old druids alike.

She is getting older. The hot rage of her youth, tempered in her training, is now almost completely gone. She is all serenity. Her eyes change from deep red to amber, and her fur looks dry but still curiously organic. No one comments; who can say what powers consume those venerable archdruids in their waning years?

The wanderlust returns. Akabeko presides over two new archdruids as they are raised. She still tries to council Garrosh, now not so young, not so headstrong. When able, she walks around the Moonglade, and sometimes tiny shoots and flowers follow her footsteps. Many times she wakes in the night, indescribably thirsty. Her fur feels stiff and brittle and she's often taken with fantasies where her body is something else. She confides in a friend, an aging troll woman who also fought in Northrend, and is rewarded with a soothing but patronizing pat on the arm. Of course her body is something else; that's what druids do!

It is dusk, and Akabeko is on the shore of Lake Elune'ara. She is slowly walking toward the Barrow Downs. In her fist she clutches the cord of her seashell necklace - for the first time in her life it feels heavy and she has to take it off. She stops abruptly, and something prompts her to look down. On her finger, a tiny vine is twining from tip to base. She looks at the palm, where a curling leaf is sprouting.

"I am something else," she says, half-remembering. The words tumble from her, redolent with power, and where they land wildflowers spring to life. "Aaahhh," she sighs, and breathes petals. She is stretching, growing, shifting upwards. She raises her arms and a shawl of moss drapes her shoulders. She shakes her mane, and it rattles with the sound of autumn leaves. She wiggles her roots, which dig further into the ground, and laughs throatily, "Ha ha ha," and each syllable is a mushroom, an acorn, a sapling.

"You're back," she sobs happily, and the tears nourish the new growth around her. I was always something else, is her last thought before her eyes close and her bark stiffens. A breeze blows across the lake, shaking a seashell necklace hung amongst the yellow leaves of an unusual tree.


Thus concludes the 20 Days of Blogging challenge. It took me over 3 months to get through it all, but I'm so glad I participated, both because it prompted me to share more with my readers and also because it made for some guaranteed content. Thanks, Saga!!

02 August 2011

[Shared Topic] Identity & Affiliation

How does your character define themself? What part of their identity is most important to their personality and self-presentation? This is this week's Blog Azeroth Shared Topic, and you can post links to your responses in the thread here!

In meatspace, we have so many affiliations, it's anyone's guess whether we consider ourselves a tuba player first, or a student, a Gators fan, a New Yorker, a mother, a nerd, a liberal. Our identities are comprised of so many different aspects of life that it's hard to tell which parts different people will choose to define themselves.

In game, there are less game-related ways to identify. You can identify as:
  • your class
    • your spec
  • your race
    • a particular subgroup (Mag'har, Wildhammer)
  • your faction
    • a faction other than Horde/Alliance
For folks who RP, or at least secretly think about things like their character's backstory and personality (hello), these criteria can be easily ordered and defined. I want to give my own answers and hear other RPers' responses, but I'm particularly interested in non-RPers thoughts. For min-maxers, for people who don't read quest text, for people who don't think about the implications of Vol'jin's rejection of Garrosh, how would they order this list? Would they ignore it completely, because they rolled their toon for profession buff X or racial talent Y or class ability Z? Would that make it easier to order the list, because they don't consider their toon's identity to be complex?

For me, because I do enjoy writing stories based around my characters' adventures, I thought a lot about how the different toons might label themselves.

Akabeko has definitely always been a druid first, then a tauren, then Horde. Specifically, a huge part of her identity has been focused on being a resto druid, which gave me a lot of fun wordplay involving my branches, leaves, and roots. Before I knew that Aka was jaded but occasionally funny (she got it from the trolls - I feel like they would have good jokes), before she even had a personality and history, I "RPed" with her by injecting tree-related references into everything. I talked about splinters, wilting, and termites, and frequently fended off lumberjack attacks from guildies (you axe-wielding bastards). Perhaps you can understand why I was so upset when they removed perma-tree - I lost the #1 most important component of my identity. Who is this cow, and what have you done with my tree?

Her personality has developed a lot more, and although she is still resto, her most prominent affiliation is merely druid. In keeping with the importance of druidism, the next component is faction - specifically the Cenarion Circle. I love my Guardian of Cenarius title and Hippogryph mount as accessories to accentuate my druidness. After that, I identify strongly with the tauren people and culture, as evidence by loving Baine and staying in the tauren section of Orgrimmar. Last, I am Horde, although significantly less impressed with Garrosh than I was with Thrall. I think that also ties in with where I stay in Org - I don't want to hang in the loud, smoky orcish main area.

Iharu is a paladin, my second-highest alt and a curious project. She doesn't have much of a story, and her personality is derived from what I believe are belfy qualities, and yet she has the Crusader title and an Argent Hippogryph. I think I would say that she started out as a blood elf first, then evolved into paladin first, blood elf second. Last is Horde. Maybe. She's firmly Horde, but wouldn't talk about it with any enthusiasm.

Sprinkie is definitely goblin first. She was strongly Bilgewater affiliated, but the more she sees of the world, the more I think she will let that go. I'm not sure what faction she will replace it with, though. I entertained the idea of the Kirin Tor, but her mageness is so far behind in importance that it seems out of place. She loves the Steamwheedle Cartel, but officially joining them might be too treasonous to her roots. As it is, I'm wondering if the Earthen Ring might be a good fit since she loves the environment. And money. Similar to Aka and Iharu, her use of a goblin trike rather than a sparkle pony (that seems magey, right?) indicates her close ties to her race rather than class.

Maurene the warlock is firmly Forsaken. This informs her class (angry, bitter, a little unbalanced) and ensures that she feels no great love to the Horde war machine. There isn't really a "warlocky" faction in game, and no others seem appropriate for her personality, so I think solidly Forsaken is the only way to go.

Alliance side, I have my original night elf priest, who is equally night elf and priest with Alliance as a distant second. She loves her city and Tyrande and sees her class as an homage to her ruler.

My shaman, although languishing in her 20s, is first Wildhammer, second shaman, and third dwarf. She doesn't dislike dwarves or her Ironforge brethren by any stretch of the imagination, but her first loyalties lie to her homeland and native culture. I can't wait until she's high enough to get a gryphon.

Overall, it seems that my carebear status and interest in all types of races has influenced my charaters' identities to not consider their factions central to who they are. For the rest, my knowledge of race and class informs how I approach the other affiliations. My intimate knowledge of druids, the tauren, and the current Horde policies makes defining Aka a snap. For my night elf priest, however, I know little about night elves and the Light so it's harder to determine what she thinks. I also think that factions or classes that have strong stories in the lore make for more compelling identifying characteristics. So being a paladin means having a faction to associate with, at least 2 titles to sport, and several class-appropriate mounts. It's easier to be visibly paladin than it is to explain how your personality is informed by your blood elf history.

Have you ever thought about your character's identity? How would you label them, and why?