31 March 2012

[Shared Topic] Rats and Turtles and Pinchy, oh my!

I'm slipping in just under the wire for this week's Blog Azeroth shared topic, suggested by Stringtheory of Perish Twice, who asks:
Fishing is an odd sort of minigame in WoW and people I’ve talked to either love it or hate it. So what’s your take on the most grindy of sports?
There's a lot to like about this topic; for one, the title is evocative of The Wizard of Oz, which was my favorite child movie. Finding the perfect ruby slippers has been one of my lifelong goals. Then there's the fact that it's about fishing, meaning fish, which reminds me of my fishing jig. (Yeah, I sing Strong Bad songs when I'm fishing. I also give pep talks to my eggs when boiling. Are you really surprised?)

Catch this, nerds!
In meatspace, I have zero interest in fishing. When I was a kid my dad used to walk me and my brother down to the nearby pond and try to teach us to fish. Mostly, he would fish while T and I threw bread crumbs at the alligators that came to investigate our activities. ("Ok, so you hold the pole like this and wait for the fish to bite!" "DAD!! I hit that one right in the nostril!") We never caught any fish.

WoW fishing is mostly a means to an end. The end of course being achievements, or more importantly, loot. I love my fishing pets! I get just as excited about them as I do any other rare or highly coveted drop. Fishing with a goal, be it to catch a rare fish or stock up on cooking mats, is the only way I can get myself to fish for any extended period of time. It can be nice to crank up a podcast or my sweet karaoke playlist and while away the time, but fishing is a slightly more annoying sort of grind in my opinion. When you are camping something, you can basically set up shop, turn up all the sounds, and walk away from the computer. When you are grinding something, you have to move around either looting or killing, so you are always doing something. Fishing is the worst kind of wait, where you have to actually pay attention, but aren't always doing something. Mostly you're watching the bobber and waiting for it to move, and hoping that your stupid ears pick up the sound before the cast ends. Then there's the maddening dance to get your bobber to land in the stupid pool! You'd think they would have worked out some sort of targeting system that makes your cast gravitate towards the pool, rather than cast about willy nilly like you've got all the time in the world to cast 5, 6, 7 times until you finally land the pool. Akabeko has maxed fishing and a sweet fishing-buff pole; why can't she hit the damn pool on the first try? DO I NEED TO BE HITCAPPED FOR THIS?!

Ok rant's done, time for silly photos.

You look kinda tasty...
Oh Mr. Pinchy! You taste so good with butter!
Chuck is making friends with this wild pinchy
I found you, elusive Summer Bass!
I'll always love Sholazar

27 March 2012

The Leatherworkers [Tier 3]

"All right, so just as the gear was changing, I quit my job as a leatherworker. Since I had been rehabilitated, I was eager to get back to my original profession." The orc held up a finger to stave off any protest from her companion. "Yes, yes, I know this has absolutely nothing to do with gathering."

The tauren obediently closed his mouth. The orc quirked an eyebrow at him and took a sip of her drink before continuing.

"The Horde assault on Naxxramas had just begun. I applied to rejoin my old battalion, and as soon as they proved I could swing an axe and take a hit, they sent me off to the front lines. I was expecting complete madness, and I got it. My battalion was commanded by a troll who had already been into Naxxramas several times. He led us against the patchwork creatures in the Construct Quarter, and it was horrible."

The orc paused to drink and swallow. She used the condensation from her glass to draw a tiny picture on the bar, then smeared it out.

"There were undead...scientists in that quarter. They scavenged body parts to create bodies for the souls they had harvested. There were big constructs, taller than three orcs stacked on each others shoulders, but they were big and slow and hard to create. The little ghouls, however..." she scrubbed a hand across her head. "Sometimes patrols would go missing. Or we would lose a comrade in a skirmish. If we - if you didn't recover the body, the scientists would. And then they could use it for parts. So we had to collect the dead, even the ghouls' bodies, and burn them. Otherwise, you'd find yourself fighting a familiar face attached to a mishmash of decaying limbs. The fresher the construct, the more  familiar they sounded."

The tauren shifted uncomfortably and licked his lips. The fur on the back of his neck was standing on end.

Lost in her own recollection, the orc didn't notice. "But the worst part was the sound. The big constructs, you see, were made out of regular bodies. They just took more parts to make. And some of the bodies were still alive and aware when they were sewn in. They knew what was happening. So they screamed. Whatever magic kept them alive kept them from needing food or sleep. They didn't have to do anything but scream or cry or beg for death. And we could always hear their voices echoing in the halls."

Her eyes lost focus and her voice dropped. Now the story was mostly for herself. "Our captain had been there a long time. He hadn't gotten a break from the voices. So one night, when I was on watch duty, he snapped. Started screaming about how he wouldn't let us fall prey to the monsters. He grabbed his axe and set upon the sleeping soldiers. Everyone woke up. The guards all ran, but I got there first. I stopped him."

She rubbed the back of her hand across her dry lips. "There were multiple witnesses, so I was convicted of no crime. They understood; there had been similar incidents. I was honorably discharged and received valor commendations." The orc drew the chain around her neck out of her shirt, revealing a signet ring and two thick medals. "For being wounded in combat," she indicated one medal, "for valor," the other medal, "and for loyal service to the Horde," the ring. The tauren admired each in turn.

Suddenly the orc laughed, breaking the oppressive mood. "I apologize for telling you all that. I'm afraid I'm a maudlin drinking partner."

"Not at all," the tauren protested. "Never in all my days have I seen anything like that."

"But, you're still wondering about the point of the story, aren't you?" He tried too hard to appear nonchalant and gave his curiosity away. "Don't worry; this is the good part. Since I had left the military, I returned to leatherworking. The top-end gear was being crafted to specifically combat the creatures in Naxxramas, and the crafters wanted leather from the source! I still had some interest in seeing everything in that hellhole dead, so I volunteered to lead a team of  gatherers. They were happy to have a veteran at the head. I got clearance from the Horde War Generals to harvest leather from the creatures in the Arachnid Quarter. I didn't want to risk the Construct Quarter again. We followed behind and orc company, sometimes harvesting leather from their kills, sometimes helping in the battle. The leatherworkers with me were very skilled, and our only casualties were unavoidable. Our campaign lasted nearly a month before we had scared up enough spiders to meet our leather quota, and then we returned to Orgrimmar to deliver, collect our pay,and wait for our next turn in the rotation. My old master said he was glad to have me back in his shop, and I think I was, too."

The tauren grunted. "Now that was a satisfying story."

24 March 2012

A Steamy Romance Novel: The Annotated Collection

My affection of romance novels begins sometime in high school when, on vacation with my family, we were picking up some things for the grocery store. Wandering down the aisles behind my mother, I stopped to peruse the shiny paperbacks on display. 
"Hey, can I get one of these?" 
She glanced back at me. "This is the same stuff they sell at the airport. Do you even know any of these authors?" 
I held up a book featuring a shirtless, heavily muscled man being fawned over by a woman with amazingly thick blonde hair. "But I need to expand my horizons by reading this trashy romance novel!" 
My mother frowned at the cover. "Do you actually want to read that?" 
"Mooooooom it's my birthday and what am I going to read on the beeeaaaach? I neeeeeed iiiit!" I whined in response. 
She rolled her eyes, probably asking the heavens how she had ended up with such weird kids. Then again, she and Dad are pretty weird so it's not really a mystery. The book ended up not scanning properly and we had to call in a price check, complete with the clerk reading the title over the loudspeaker. It was priceless. I remember my mother telling me that she was "only feeding my bodice-ripper habit because it was my birthday." 
The genre was "time-travel romance" which alone made it worth its weight in gold.
I told you that story because, according to my 9th grade AP English teacher, one of the methods you can use to lead into an essay is by telling an anecdote. (He referred to these methods as "hookers" and cackled to himself every time he said it.) Also I just wanted to tell you about it because it makes me laugh and shows how cool my mom is.

You hopefully read my previous post in which I invented the next book in the Steamy Romance Novel series entitled Shatter My Heart. I really should have gone with something pandaren-related for relevance! but since technically the author wouldn't know anything about Mists I decided against it. 

What are these steamy romance novels I speak of? Why, they are only some of the greatest gray items to appear in game! They can be obtained by drops from chests or mobs, but are most commonly pickpocketed. 

Currently, there are five volumes available in the game. They stack up to 20 (so you can have a real library!) and follow the sexual adventures of a man named Marcus as he samples all the physical delights that Azerothian womankind has to offer. Each book makes specific references to current events in the expansion it comes out in, beginning with Burning Crusade. The most exciting parts are always conveniently destroyed by "the elements" or "repeated readings," or "require level 99" or "a secret goblin decoder ring." What a tease!

(There is one more romance novel accessible in game. It's not a lootable item, but rather an interactive book that exists in the Plaguelands. Prince Keleseth is standing right in front of it, which is unfortunate because "the next few pages seem to be stuck together." It's called Touch of the Banshee, and it's about the rotting undead Skor'zad and his night of ichor-infused passion with the banshee Madame Sidnari. Read at your own risk!)

A Steamy Romance Novel features Nahni as the love interest. She is a mage, and I would assume a human, although it's not stated. The heat of their impassioned kiss melts her frost armor, resulting in "a torrent of sweltering vapor" and making a pun of the book's title. In this book, Marcus is referred to as a warrior. It can be obtained by pickpocketing 169 different types of mobs, most of them level 60+ denizens of BC dungeons. Perhaps my favorite part is that it can also be obtained from rares in the plaguelands, and two of them are Scarlet Crusaders.

Forbidden Love is all kinds of kinky. The femme fatale is Ah'tusa...an undead rogue. In this installment, Marcus is specifically referred to as a paladin, as evidenced by my favorite quote of all time: "Twelve seconds? I know you have abilities that last longer than that." Even better, the action takes place in the Underground Tram. Hey dwarves and gnomes, I'm in ur tram, soiling it with my necrotic cross-faction love! You can pickpocket this book from 151 different kinds of level 70+ mobs in Northrend. 

Northern Exposure takes place in Dalaran, specifically at A Hero's Welcome. That's the inn in the Alliance-only section, by the way. I wonder if he felt weird after enthusiastically getting it on with a dead lady? It doesn't stop him from expanding his palette with a diminutive gnome named Tavi. She's an affliction warlock, and accidentally summons a felhound into the bedroom. Yikes! Then, because she's into pain, she puts a dot on Marcus. He heals himself and mentions that his specialization is retribution. Aww yeah, still kinky. This book has a chance to drop from Bag of Fishing Treasures, the reward for the Dalaran fishing dailies.

Blue Moon introduces the draenei Soola and my guess is that it takes place in Azuremyst. Soola is a shaman, as she "walks purposefully across the lake." She hurts Marcus' feelings when she mentions she could craft a piece of jewelry better than his gift by accident. Zing! During the course of their passionate lovemaking, lightning strikes a nearby lake and bathes them both in - wait for it - steam. This can be obtained by pickpocketing one mob and one mob only: Argent Confessor Paletress. Fist bump, sister!

Big Brass Bombs is the longest of the  books so far with a whopping five whole pages! Interestingly enough, the available scene only mentions Marcus in passing - the goblin Revi has a blind date with him and is going shopping for...supplies. Even better, Revi Ramrod is an actual NPC - the riding trainer in the Goblin Slums of Orgrimmar! The "Jack" she buys "The Bigger One," hardened adamantite tubes, and jumper cables from is the engineering trainer "Jack" Pisarek Slamfix. This book has a chance to drop from Twilight Abductors or can be pickpocketed from 150 level 80+ mobs in Cataclysm zones and dungeons. 

But the best part, sweet Earthmother, the best part: who is Marcus? We know that Revi is a real character in the game, implying that these aren't saucy fictions designed to titillate, but actual records of sexual liaisons! Wowhead lists seven disctinct NPCs named Marcus. One is a female human in Northrend, one is a male undead, one is a former patrolling rarespawn with a penchant for pink, one is a creepy draenei ghost, one only appears in Gilneas, one is an Argent Tournament questgiver, and one is a Tol Barad questgiver. But it's not any of those characters. They don't fit the profile, or haven't been around long enough to match the facts. No, it's even better than any of those NPCs.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you General Marcus Jonathan, the High Commander of Stormwind Defense and Azeroth's International Man of Mystery. Back when he was just a Private, he wished for "a glorious, bushy mustache." Not only did he get that, he also got the porn star moves to match! His abilities on wowhead are distinctly warrior-like. Looking at the progression in the novels, it seems like he went from warrior to paladin to warrior again? Or maybe he's taking liberties for a more interesting tale. The comments on his wowhead page assure me that if you /wave or /salute him, he will respond not only with an immediate action, but will also say "Greetings, citizen." This guy sure is friendly! That must be how he meets ~the ladies~, amirite?

Where will he travel next? Who will he sweep off her feet? Will he use Blessing of Protection? I'm hoping for some tauren action, personally. Did you know he shows up to arrest Hogger when you defeat him nowadays? Marcus/gnoll OTP?? This guy takes all comers regardless of race or class (or gender? HIT IT!).

I'll leave you with my favorite comment from his page:
- So if you /salute him he compliments you, and if you /rude him he threatens you. What happens if I /flirt on a hot female character?
- He writes a book.

21 March 2012

A Steamy Romance Novel: Shatter My Heart

It was a well-known fact that in exchange for her commitment to friendly and personal business transactions, Boss Mida Silvertongue enjoyed a fierce loyalty and genuine affection from merchants and assistants alike. It was slightly less well-known that she had an enduring penchant for literature of an erotic nature.

It is because of both of these facts that her assistant Kazit spent some time each week attending to correspondence from his contacts in rare books and publications. (He never told her he what he was doing, or that he charged it as overhead on his timecard.)

Boss Mida's office was sparsely decorated, but Kazit knew that in her home she had, hidden behind a frankly alarming display of taxidermied bears, an impressive collection of steamy romance novels. He had first become aware of her hobby when Passionate Azeroth began arriving monthly at the office, followed soon by Goblins and Gears in Fiction. A closer peek at the bookshelf had revealed titles like Outlandser, Emerald Dream Man, Hyjal's Mountain, Silverleaf from the Maelstrom, and seemingly everything ever published by Julix Sparkwood. Many of the volumes came with dust jackets printed with fanciful images of shirtless men, orcs, and even gnomes gallivanting on sunset beaches with swooning women, trolls, and dwarves.

For the most part, Mida didn't need help acquiring books. She had the means to maintain a personal library, and her periodicals kept her up to date on current publications. Her biggest vice was collecting the extremely limited edition works of an author known only as M. J. Robb. Mida had confessed to Kazit that her greatest dream was to own a complete collection of the author's works, and so Kazit had gone quietly to work.

No one seemed to know much about the mysterious author beyond the neatly handwritten manuscripts that she or he would send to the publisher once or twice a year. Popular consensus said Robb was human, likely located in Elwynn Forest or Redridge. By funding limitations or by design, Robb's works were printed sparingly and hard to find new. However, Kazit was nothing if not determined, and he managed to scare up used copies of Big Brass Bombs, Blue Moon, Forbidden Love, and Northern Exposure in Common and Orcish. He even found a special edition printing of Big Brass Bombs in Gnomish, which Mida had actually framed and hung above her headboard.

When Kazit received the hastily-written note announcing a new novel from a goblin correspondent in Theramore, he simply put the requested amount of gold in a pouch, mailed it off, and marked the release date with a star on his calendar.

Now the book, wrapped in innocuous brown paper and without even so much as a mailing address, was waiting patiently for Mida on her desk. She breezed in at her usual time, half-drunk cup of coffee in one hand and handful of reports in the other, and passed Kazit with her typical cheerful hello. Kazit smiled slightly to himself as he heard his boss put down her papers and unwrap the package. There was an audible intake of breath, and he imagined her running her fingers over the pristine cover, the glossy lettering Shatter My Heart embossed over a full moon.

There was the rustle as she reverently thumbed through the pages, appreciating the heft of the book, and Kazit allowed himself to recall the passage he had read when, in a fit of curiosity, he had cracked open the book before re-wrapping it.
Hesitantly, Marcus followed his guide into the basement. The air smelled dry and musty, and dust swirled lazily at their feet. Although Marcus peered in vain into the gloom beyond the circle of firelight, Sophia appeared to see just fine in the dark.  
At the bottom of the stairs, she stopped and turned to face him without a word.  
"Shouldn't we be hurrying, in case there are still worgen about in these old houses?" he asked. 
Sophia pursed her plump, juicy lips and quirked her head. "Are you really worried about that at moment like this?" Her hand closed over his on the torch, slender fingers warming his wrist before pulling the shaft from his grip. She moved to hang the torch in a nearby sconce, and Marcus saw her wicked grin. 
"My, what big teeth you have..."
The book shut with a click, and Mida leaned out of her office. Kazit looked placidly at her, as if he had nothing to do with the appearance of the book.

"Cancel my appointments for the day. And," she grinned knowingly, "take the rest of the day for yourself."


This post has been brought to you by Big Bear Butt's writing challenge, in which he tasked writers with creating a short story using the following words: juicy, slender, vain, shaft, torch, star, hidden. (Find all seven!) Check out his roundup post here for more responses!

18 March 2012

Then and Now

More memes! More memes! Vidyala at Manalicious wants to see a timeline of characters! Not only was this a fun blast from the past, but it reminded me again of what it is I typically screenshot and why. It seems like I'm sitting on a mountain of data that I rarely use, but when I look through it now it's an incredible photographic journal of stuff that made me laugh, or say WTF, or just want to keep for reference later.

Here's baby Beko! Her horns have changed, but her fur and hairstyle are the same.
I didn't understand why, but I knew that having this hat was A Thing.
More flight paths in front of the moon!
When I got my first mount, I posted a pic on the guild forums. Because it was a big damn deal.
About to step through the Dark Portal! Omg omg!!!!
Aww yeah check out that sweet gear. I love that the braids hang down from the cowl!
Sailormoon hat! Now that's the good stuff!
My sweet Lashwerweave getup.
Killing Deathwing. Clearly my UI has changed a LOT!
Now I have transmogged gear. So fashionable!
Just for funsies, this is a bosskill edit I made for my original guild.  So much fun!

15 March 2012

In the Beginning

So I hope you all enjoyed that completely gratuitous picspam. Truth be told, in addition to wanting to showcase all the weird little details in Silvermoon City, I also needed some time to get together an application for a program at Doshisha University. Now that that's under control, back to fun stuff!

What's that? There are more memes afoot?!

First is, well, the first. Screenshot that is. It was suggested by Cymre of Bubbles of Mischief. Sadly, although I do have all of my old screenshots from when I used to run WoW on a Macbook, I renamed them all in order to migrate them to my new hard drive, and now I don't know which was first! However, I was a total noob, so most of them are humorous to look at anyway. Let's take a stroll down memory lane...

My first toon was a human priest called Amarosa. I took this picture to capture her glitched out hat. Check out that UI!
Look at that! There is totally a smiley face on that tree trunk. Clearly I have always been and always will be amused by tiny strange details in game.
Oh look, it's my first draenei! I miss her... This quest really amused me, and made me fall in love with Elekks :)
I really liked taking pictures of mounts backlit by the sun. Flight paths were a great time to spin the camera around. Of course, I didn't know how to hide my UI.
Why is the Exodar so great? It's just a lightshow all day long!
You may recall that I had ally toons before I ever made Akabeko hordeside, so I'll leave the rest of my "first" pictures for the next meme post!