29 June 2012


"I think we should say something," Katza muttered, peeking at Akabeko around a display of frosted cupcakes. The shopkeeper glanced at her and irritably rearranged a plate of cookies decorated with the Darkmoon logo.

Mauren shook her head, not trying to be subtle. "We shouldn't. She can handle herself." They watched as Akabeko made some notes on a stained sheet of parchment before drinking deeply from her beer stein.

Iharu sniffed. "She clearly isn't handling herself. We should go over there."

"Fine, but leave me out of it." Maurene stalked away, presumably to play Whack-a-Gnoll again.

Katza gathered her skirts in her bony fingers and made a beeline for her tauren guildmate. Iharu followed close behind, and the shopkeeper gave an audible sigh of relief as all three stopped loitering.

Akabeko looked up from her document, remarkably sober for the amount they had watched her drink. "Katz, Iha. I didn't realize both of you were into the faire games."

"I'm not," Iharu replied brusquely. "And to be honest, I didn't realize you were either."

"Of course I am! In fact, the Darkmoon Faire hold me in high regard. Except for, well..." She grimaced, shook her head, and gestured to the other side of the picnic table. "Will you join me?"

Katza slid onto the bench immediately. She shot Iharu a look before lacing her fingers together with a dry rasp. "Listen, Aka, we've been wondering. What exactly have you been up to since Deathwing was destroyed?"

Iharu sat down beside Akabeko, who in turn looked back and forth between the pair. She casually placed an arm across the notes she had taken.

"I'm beginning to think this isn't a social visit."

"It is, because we are your friends and we want to be social with you! We're just a little...concerned. About your well-being." Katza's hands twitched apart, and she began to nervously click her finger joints.

"What, exactly, is concerning you? I've been fishing and visiting the faire. Relaxing. It's nice!" Akabeko made a show of nonchalantly rolling up her parchment.

Iharu shook her head vehemently. "That's just it! You aren't one to just sit around! There have been dozens of minor raiding parties leaving Orgrimmar each month and you haven't joined a single one!"

Before Akabeko could whisk away the paper, Katza snatched it out of her hands and unrolled it again. Akabeko made a grab for it, but the forsaken woman was already reading aloud.

"'Ways to Eliminate Dubenko. One: fireworks "accident." Two: Gun or crossbow misfire "accident." Three: "Accidentally" leave cage door open. Four--' Aka what the fel is this?" She slammed the parchment to the table.

Iharu looked incredulously at her friend. "This is what you've been working on? You want to kill the Faire's prize turtle?"

"You don't understand!" Akabeko bellowed in response. "He's so fast! Turtles aren't supposed to move that fast. The whole system is rigged! The ring toss game is a sham!"

Katza shook her head, disappointment plain on her face. "You've been out of the raiding scene for too long. Without goals to aim for you start making up your own!"

Iharu was nodding in agreement, but Akabeko wasn't having any of it. "You two just don't understand because you never play the ring toss! That turtle is up to something! I won't let you stop me!" There was a puff of air and suddenly a storm crow was perched on the bench.

Before she could fly away, Katza leaped across the table, upending Akabeko's beer and tackling the druid to the ground. There was a flurry of feathers, and then Katza stood up with a squirming crow in her arms.

"We should get her back to Orgrimmar and onto the Moonglade healer rotation. Then--ah, ow, she's pecking me!" Katza turned her face away from her guildmate's sharp beak.

illustrated by the wonderful Kamalia!
Iharu gently took the druid and stuffed her under her arm. "I'll take her; I'm wearing plate." She tapped her chin thoughtfully while Akabeko pecked at her side with a useless clang. "That new guy Had could probably help us set her up with some proper druid pursuits. Maybe she could mentor him?"

Katza created a portal to Orgrimmar, and together they stuffed their protesting friend back into respectable society.

Next: Plans, Causing trouble, Devious Design

25 June 2012

The Leatherworkers [Tier 9]

From the drag came the constant drone of cicadas punctuated with shrieks of laughter from the orphans watching Midsummer torch jugglers. Inside the shop, the air was still and heavy, and the leatherworkers themselves even more so.

Most were working, or at least attempting to. The tauren, however, had finally succumbed to lethargy and was snoring softly over his pile of unfinished bracers.

"You don't even feel the cold, do you?" the orc asked, voice muffled by the thick, furred helm covering her face. 

The tauren shrugged. "I've got a permanent fur coat keeping me warm."

His partner nodded and slapped her hands together a few times before reaching for their supply bags. "Let's get this over with. At least Dalaran is moderately warm compared to here." 

They began to chisel sheets of ice from the cliff wall. The tauren tried not to look over his shoulder. "This place gives me the creeps. I feel like I'm being watched." 

The orc studiously ignored the enormous frost giant at their back. Tiny dwarves dotted its shoulders. "They're all frozen. Completely harmless." A strong gust of wind whistled through the crystalline figures, making the orc curse.

Carefully, the orc reached out towards the tauren. The other leatherworkers watched with interest as she balanced something on his snout. They snickered when she withdrew her arm without incident.

The Sons of Hodir had agreed to help the leatherworkers after successful negotiations with the Cenarion Circle and more than one exchange of heavy purses. Now the pair sat in the expansive workshop of Dun Niffelem, adhering the carved ice sheets to pauldrons made of wooly rhino hide. The work was monotonous, and the tauren almost didn't notice when the orc snapped the last ring into place and stepped back.

"Time to get the big guy to work his magic," she said, rolling her neck.

The frost giant used a special technique to permanently freeze and fuse the components together. The ice sheets would remain frozen, impervious to any weather, making the thick hide lining indispensable. Unfortunately, the process was too cold for the leatherworkers to even watch. They retreated to another room.

"The waiting is the worst part," the tauren complained. "I'm so bored." He settled himself on a bench and leaned against the wall with a yawn. 

The orc rolled her eyes behind the orange glass of her goggles. "I'll agree that it's the worst, but at least you're warm while you wait." She didn't bother to sit, but instead headed straight for the door. "I'm going to hover around the forge."

The tauren's eyes were already drifting shut. He grunted wordlessly at her back.

A sudden snort cut through the barely suppressed chuckling in the room. The tauren opened his eyes and sat up straight, blinking owlishly as he gathered his senses. He looked at the orc next to him, who gazed back as if nothing were amiss.

"I was so bored that I fell asleep in my dream," he told her. The movement caused the perfectly balanced stack of jump rings on his snout to cascade down his front. "What the...?" He looked from the orc to the others in the room. They dissolved into guffaws.

21 June 2012

Midsummer Fire Festival: The Ice Stone has melted!

The Midsummer Fire Festival, according to the official Blizzard explanation, “celebrates the hottest season of the year.” It begins on June 21, the northern hemisphere’s summer solstice, lasts for two weeks, and finishes with an event known as the Fireworks Spectacular (formerly the Engineers' Explosive Extravaganza) that coincides with the USian Independence Day on July 4. The holiday features a host of daily quests, yearly quests requiring lots of travel around the continents, buffs obtained from food and other means, festive clothing, and fun vanity items like the Brazier of Dancing Flames and the Captured Flame minipet.

The event is based on the Earth celebration of Midsummer, with influences from Northern European nations, particularly Finland. In Azeroth, revelers light bonfires both because the season is hot and because they are hosting fire emissaries from the Elemental Plane. On Earth, the bonfires are lit on Midsummer to protect against evil spirits roaming in the night. Only some foods are directly mentioned in Midsummer events, so the in-game snacks are derived from food typically eaten at barbeques and campsites. Midsummer Sausage and Toasted Smorcs are reminiscent of typical campfire fare: hot dogs and smores. Elderberry Pie makes me think immediately of Monty Python, although there are plenty of recipes for said pie on the internet. Fire-Toasted Bun is a humorous name that most likely refers to player characters spending most of the holiday standing very close to bonfires.

Other earthly celebrations have been adapted for Azerothian use, most notably the maypole. As suggested by its name, the maypole is typically erected on May Day, however in Sweden it is put up during midsummer. The maypole is used in game to generate a buff; when a player clicks on the Ribbon Pole, their character is connected by a fiery ribbon to the pole and spins around as if dancing. This animation will continue until players move out of range, and in fact if they run around the pole it is reminiscent of maypole circle and ribbon dances.

Midsummer plants are believed to have magical healing powers and are picked on Midsummer Eve. Although the healing properties were not retained, the Burning Blossoms that players collect and use as currency look similar to Calendula, and when thrown into a bonfire provide a damage buff in addition to relighting doused flames. These plants are also referenced in the Handful of Summer Petals, a vendor item that shows the player being sprinkled with summery petals. Midsummer revelers may wear crowns of wildflowers, but although players can garb themselves in the Vestment of Summer, Mantle of the Fire Festival, and matching Sandals of Summer, the Crown of the Fire Festival does not resemble a circlet of flowers. This year there is also an extra hat: the Helm of the Fire Festival allows other players to cook on your character's fondue hat! 

The European Midsummer is celebrated with singing, dancing, effigies of spirits, rituals promoting fertility and marriage, and daring leaps over the bonfires. Azeroth has ignored any reference to romance or virility, and instead of something as tame as jumping over a flame, encourages players to not only honor their faction’s bonfires, but to steal those of the opposing faction! There’s nothing quite so daring as running through the streets of Stormwind to steal the flame of the Alliance’s capital city. Two daily quests also ask players to play with fire. For Torch Tossing, a player must light a torch in the main bonfire, then throw it into a marked brazier. For Torch Catching, a player must light the torch in the bonfire, then throw it overhead and attempt to catch it as it falls and throw it again.

Rather than burn effigies to protect themselves from spirits, the citizens of Azeroth invite said spirits, in the form of fire elementals in service to Ragnaros, to spend Midsummer with them on the mortal plane. Players are directed to speak to a Festival Talespinner, who will explain why the elementals are present and ask the player to honor them with a gift of incense. Of course, this empowers the diminutive scorchling, who expands rapidly, taking on the shape of Ragnaros, and reveals that perhaps the emissaries are not so willing to negotiate peacefully as they suggested. 
Now! Finally! Our plans can take effect!
Although there are no spirits to fear (or so we foolishly think) on Midsummer night, the Captured Flame pet likely comes from the will o’ the wisps supposedly seen at night in Finland. Players used to be able to get a scorchling minipet from the holiday dungeon, but it has been changed to a frostling pet instead.

The major questline for this holiday is built around some very strange assumptions about the elemental lords Ragnaros and Neptulon. With Cataclysm, I expected this to change drastically – after all, we now know beyond a doubt that Ragnaros is not going to do anything beneficial with his emissaries of flame hanging around our bonfires. Furthermore, we have spent an entire zone helping Neptulon deal with both naga and their old god allies. And yet, the premise of this holiday’s story and quest chain is that Skar’this, a naga held captive in the Slave Pens and loyal to Neptulon, is plotting to summon the Frost Lord Ahune to confront the Firelord. Despite the fact that characters should be eager to support such a venture, low level players are directed to summon and defeat lesser ice elementals from Ice Stones around the world, and max-level characters travel to the Slave Pens to melt the main Ice Stone, disrupt Ahune’s connection to the elemental plane, and defeat him. Rades has a wonderful examination of Neptulon’s perceived motives and power with a subsection just for Ahune here which is definitely worth a read, and brings up further questions about what players are doing in Vashj’ir and during the Fire Festival. 

With appropriate transportation, a character can honor or desecrate the holiday fires and can complete the quest Stealing [City]'s Flame upon looting the flames from their opposing faction’s four major cities. After doing the lead-in quests, players can do 3 daily quests. A guide to the meta-achievement awarding the title Flame Keeper (H) or Flame Warden (W) can be found here. The Ahune boss strategy can be found here.

18 June 2012

The New Recruit (guest post!)

You guys, I have amazing friends. Anytime someone is like "people you know on the internet totes aren't really friends" you smack 'em and show 'em the posts and post ideas I've gotten from my guildie buddies. Like this week! Here I am flipping my shit over visa paperwork and my friend Dah comes up with some lovely guest posts about his tauren toons to help me out. And you had better hope this becomes a regular thing because THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING ME. (Previously from Dah: Dahakha's Finale)


Hadakha nodded to the tauren as he brushed aside the curtain covering the doorway. The sounds of Orgrimmar faded a little as the heavy hide fell back into place. The tauren grimaced, pushed himself to his feet and tugged a rope near his workbench. A soft chime sounded above, on the upper level of the building, and a moment later footsteps clumped down the ramp. The orc checked herself as she caught sight of Hadakha, then sighed and descended to the floor.

"I don't suppose the Circle has a moderately.....what's the word I'm looking for....uneventful request for us this time?" she asked half-resignedly.

Hadakha gave her a wry grin. "I would never presume to make your lives boring,", he said, "but the fact is that you have proven yourselves to be very resourceful in the past, and as such the Circle has come to rely upon the ingenuity of leatherworkers of your calibre. Of course, since this armour has never been made before, you have complete freedom of design. We are interested only in the results."

"Of course you are..." The orc turned to the tauren. "Well? Once more into the thick of it?" As the tauren grunted his assent she looked sharply at Hadakha. "You have a suitable commission for us, naturally?"

Reaching into his tunic, Hadakha pulled out a large pouch, which he tossed to her. It tinkled as she caught it and passed it to her partner. The tauren spilled out a small pool of gems, perfectly cut and glittering in the light. He met the orc's eyes, and they grinned at each other.

"Here are the Circle's requirements." Hadakha handed over a sheaf of tightly bound scrolls. "Any other concerns?"

The tauren stared at Hadakha's tabard thoughtfully. "That looks familiar.....we had a customer a few weeks ago wearing one. Druid....wanted us to fix some old armour of hers....I thought you were an agent of the Cenarion Circle. Since when have you joined a guild of adventurers?"

"Ah yes, Akabeko mentioned the good work you had done for her. And yes, I am still a representative of the Circle, however I am on a mission that requires my presence in this guild. I can rely on your discretion, I trust." It was not a question.

At their nods, Hadakha gave them a slight bow and turned to leave. "Good hunting", he said as he pulled the hide back and stepped out into the bustle of the city. He did not envy them their work.

14 June 2012

Sweet sweet poetry

I turned to twitter for today's post and was rewarded with many ideas from current friends/former guildies. Thanks ladies!

Once upon a time I liked to beg for /RW capabilities in raid. In the unfortunate case that I received them, I would proceed to compose haiku and share them with the raid mid-fight. It then turned naturally into a forum thread and tonight I will present you with the results.

Some haiku from raid
I wrote them to raise morale
Got any to add?

Dahakha can type
It just takes him forever
Such a travesty

Tough but fair RL
Ruling with an iron fist
My Princess Dragons

Friggin Ruby Sanctum
Halion is going down
Let's make it happen

Haiku are awesome
Want to see more, please
Back to you, Beko

Transition phase 3
Melee dps slow down
Ok hit bloodlust

Don't stand in the fire
Healer can't heal through stupid
See, now you are dead

Cutter beams sweep left
The Warlock runs to the right
Beware the shadows

Akabeko is awesome
Tree form then kitty
Healing our arses

From tonight's Sunwell
Sorry if you have seen them
I like to make lists:

You don't need two heals
I think Sunwell is for noobs
I solo'd that shit

Equipping gear now
Are you ready for awesome?
This is super fun

Who the hell is that?
The tree jumping in the back
Is she gonna heal?

Will you heal LK?
Why won't you tank the shambling?!
Oops! Ninja DC.

Where is Thysan's haiku?
Does no-one love her anymore?
This makes her saddest.

Too many instances
Frustrated Beko is frustrated
Damn you Guard Slip'kik!

Herb herb herb herb herb
Herby herby herby herb
Thankyou Thysanotus!

Only one keeper
Pull your collective fingers
out of your arses

female tanks are rare
we tank as well as the boys
even in high heels.

don’t look so smug, I
know what you’re thinking, but it
was just a set-back!

spell leather keeps dropping
RNG wants me to boomkin
i cry for more stam

i love you so dragons,
when you misdirect to me
gaining aggro is wonderful.

Oh Thysanotus
My favoritest tank ever
How are you today?

You're herbing for Dah?
Why not give your herbs to me?
I love you much more~

Carry me to loot
Please tank all of the bosses
I don't want to work

the LK is sulky
his valkyrs won't play with him
they don't like his lootz.

thysan learnt tonight
that you can measure attack speed
from your character.

yogg-saron is tricky
there are too many tentacles
thysan is disturbed.

Shouldn't be left in the 'care'
of Akabeko

So I did this quest
for the Harvest Festival
and received a book

In The Horde's Hellscream
there are, believe it or not
pages of haiku!

invites for weekly
sing out if you want one please
although em leads.

summon thysan please
and she will tank monsters for you
with her big bear butt.

please share the weekly
thysan does not have this quest
she wants the gold coins.

thysan will be back
she needs to get a jumper
melbourne is very cold.

there is a whole kan-
-garoo on my head right now
at least it is warm

watch out for choppers
kill the dwarves and the spiders
take down the towers!

on the edge of our seats
as EM figures out raid
let's kill the LK!

A witty retort
But what say you to a bear
dual-wielding sharks?

That's not a problem
Cuz all loot is hunter loot
Already got those

She'll take out that bear in style
PS: She's a dragon, bitch

Bonus lines from tanka poetry ( 5 - 7 - 5 - 7 - 7 )

Thirteen Jin'do kills.
Still no Mandokir's Tribute.
Chicken Splitter Blues.

Edit: A fourteenth triumph.
Dagger, Shield, a Chaos Orb.
My patience wears thin.

Kill number fifteen.
Same loot, same blue bow in hand.
I blame Beko's Nuts.

Why play a hunter
Don't you know they're ranged rogues
Stabbing stuff is fun

Precisely, Mojo.
All the range of a warlock
but plays like a rogue.

I can do ranged deeps
as long as it is faceroll.
Inb4 "frost mage".

For some DERP reason
the whole cast bar mechanic
doesn't work for me.

Give me instant spells,
instant shots, instant attacks
and I will melt face.

11 June 2012


Finally, after months and months and months of rolling up to one or both of the fishing contests, only to have my ass handed to me after 15 frantic minutes of fishing, I emerge victorious!

Most contests, I would be somewhere in the 32 - 37 Tastyfish range when the winner was announced. One time I actually got all 40 and hearthed to Booty Bay, only to be a split second behind the winner that day. I tried turning off addons, playing with my graphics settings, and engaging in mental acrobatics much like learning how to fly (according to The Hitchhiker's Guide): "It's no good deliberately intending to miss the ground because you won't." You can't go into the contest thinking you'll win. In fact, you must approach it as an unimportant but necessary task and downplay the importance of winning.

For me, it seems the crucial strategy was showing up just barely on time, throwing on my trusty Fishing Hat just before reaching my usual starting point (south of Grom'gol), complaining to a friend about obnoxious pool-sharers and uncharacteristically flying north along the coast, and then proceeding to nerdrage every time my bobber landed just to the side of the actual pool. Finally, I realized that I had only a few fish left and enough pools around me to reach it without traveling too far. Waiting for fish #40, I was practically vibrating in my seat, muttering "come on, come on, come on." It was an Oily Blackmouth. Cue gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes! I cast again, sure that a winner would be announced while I waited for the splash.

Tastyfish!! I hearthed to Booty Bay, promptly ran into the wall, then managed to navigate outside and run/fly to the turn-in. I didn't realize that the rewards had changed (or perhaps I never paid close enough attention to them in the first place), but didn't want to lose any time reading the item descriptions. I got a blue item that apparently turns me into a fish, which ain't half bad! Even better, this was the last achievement I needed to finally be awarded the Salty title!

guildie: Salty Akabeko, coming to a restaurant near you
me: nuuuu D:
guildie: what does Akabeko mean anyway?
me: ...red cow...
guildie: bahaha perfect

I look forward to resetting my hearthstone. Booty Bay was good to me, but I can't be tied down! I look forward to leisurely working on the rest of my fishing endeavors, namely hooking the riding turtle (agghh! Turtles again!) and doing some cross-faction stealth-fishing!

08 June 2012

My Arch Nemesis

Ladies and gentlemen, this is Dubenko. He is my arch nemesis. Every month, we meet on the field of battle. I bring a borrowed set of 10 golden rings, and he brings 100 horsepower of pure, unadulterated turtle prowess. 

I hate Dubenko.

I cannot complete all of the Darkmoon dailies in one go. But the Ring Toss, I thought, was a solid bet. I mean, Dubenko doesn't ever even go farther than the radius of the green target ring. Of course, due to torture game mechanics, even if Dubenko is at the center of your target ring it's possible your ring will land just to his left. So it goes.

But the real problem is that Dubenko lures you into a false sense of security. How hard could it be to toss a ring on the back of an ostensibly slow-moving turtle? The snarky Jessica Rogers assures us it's a "simple game." It's not. Dubenko can remain unmoving for minutes, enticing players to toss all of their rings in one frantic button mash. Then, just as the rings are approaching his spike, he spurs into action! Like a rocket, he waddles back and forth between his three stopping points, dodging each and every one of your attempts.

I don't like it, and I'd really rather not put a ring on it.
Dubenko is greased lightning, wrapped in stiff gray leather, covered in a glossy shell, wrapped in an enigma. He has no greater pleasure than to torment me for 7 days out of every month, pretending to lounge and rest before zipping away from my rings. But I can't remain patient forever. One day I'll snap. Akabeko is a max-level chef, and she has a hankering for turtle soup.

05 June 2012

#MMONBI Girls Gone WoW guest appearance and miscellany

Previously: Why and What to PostBlog Setup and Community BuildingRoundupUsing Screenshots

So the very successful New Blogger Initiative has ended, although Syp revealed he will keep the forums up for further discussion. There have been some very nice wrap up posts. Syp has a list of all the new blogs AND all the advice columns published here and Windsoar has categorized the advice posts here. If you're looking for another way to promote your blog to gamers, register at the Gaming Blog Nexus.

Moving right along! I remember reading a post from Gnomeageddeon I think, advising bloggers to simply take a break rather than post in order to apologize to readers for taking a break. Now, I'm not planning on taking a break and this is perhaps premature, but since I'm getting ready to finish my current job, spend a month and a half on vacation -without my desktop-, and then go back to university, I suspect there will be some changes to my blogging. It is my intention to keep posting on a regular basis, although I might drop down to 9-10 posts a month rather than 12. (Sweet Earthmother if Mists comes out during my vacation...all my rage)

On the fiction front, for the three of you that even read it, I've got some changes planned. The Goblin Journal was initially a way to explore Azeroth using the fresh eyes of a new character. Now that she's in Outlands, I find it hard to conjure up motivation to write about killing sporebats. I don't necessarily want to put her story away, but I think I'll keep her around to observe random parts of WoW that I want to comment on, like holidays and faction politics.

The Leatherworkers is chugging along strong. From the first story my interest in the nameless orc and tauren's adventures has grown from "where do tier materials come from?" into "when are these two going to rent an apartment and star in a sitcom?" More backstory about both of them is coming. Fair warning, there is some angst in their future!

Fooling around in the beta has cemented my interest in pandaren and their unique experience in Azeroth. I'm hoping to begin a new story from a pandaren POV in order to explore the new leveling content, the phenomenon of "othering," and Akabeko's character as seen from an outside point of view.  Please look forward to The Bard and the Tree!

For those of you who couldn't give two shits about fanfiction, rest assured that I only endeavor to post one chapter of each storyline per month, so there will be plenty of screenshot spam and formless nerdraging to enjoy!

Finally, I was a guest on the Girls Gone WoW podcast for the second time! You can hear episode 54: Refreshingly Exotic here. We talk about what we're looking forward to in MoP (fairly sure this is spoiler-free) and the ins and outs of rep grinding. If you aren't listening to these ladies (and sometimes gent) on a regular basis, change that! They have laid-back, funny, and comparatively short podcasts that are perfect for grinding or cooking dinner to :)

02 June 2012

Search Terms

For anyone following my Japan adventures, I was accepted to the language program at Doshisha University and need to party this weekend! Please enjoy some funny search terms that have brought people to my blog.

anime characters sitting on a heart - what is this I don't even
damn lol real spongebob - awww yeah you like that costume
"feet on the snail" - I think this is from my winter Gallywix story?
bellsprout dancing - one of my favorite gifs
bone crushing boobs - Wow. Color me impressed.
stole your man - Dare I ask why someone would search for this...?
eleks gel - Is that like horse glue?
garrosh fyi - Someone probably needs to see the Warchief's Command Board.

Get ready, Japan, I've gone BEAR FORM!