Monday, March 30, 2015

Suggestion Box

by Gimmlette

There was another run of Icecrown Citadel early this month. We find ourselves in ICC quite a bit as we have a number of people working on  Shadowmourne. It's also a great place for transmog gear, particularly for the angular, dark looks of the pieces.

We had just downed Lord Marrowgar and were headed to Lady Deathwhisper when the rolls came up for this shield. Skiptank won the need roll (for transmog) with a 1. There is an achievement for rolling a 100 on a greed roll for a piece over item level 185. We believe there should be an achievement for rolling a need roll of 1 and winning. Maybe it could be called "So No One Else Wanted That, Eh?" or something equally semi-snarky.

You'd never get it while running current content, due to the "Personal Loot" setting, unless someone forgot to set that while running a 5-man and no one else wanted the gear that dropped. It would mainly come from doing low level runs. In Spectacular Death, we had a great laugh about this roll and we're pretty sure other groups see this and find it guffaw-worthy. It should be an achievement.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Serial Saturday

by Gimmlette

Chapter 3 Continued

Gimmlette cradled her tankard in her hands and looked at the floor. “I got my armor regemmed. Craghelm wanted to know why I thought I could stop Gauss and a For the Horde  group by myself because he’s only had one other person come into his shop with this much damage to their armor and they stood next to the mailbox at the tram and shouted, ‘You shall not pass!’ as Gauss and friends trampled him underfoot. I just said it was funny until the gems fell out. He removed some hairs from Hogger’s forearm that were lodged in the gem sockets and tossed them on the floor. The damned things started moving. I swear. He stomped on them and that didn’t stop them so we picked them up and tossed them into the fire. There was a pop, like a single firework going off and I know I heard someone laughing in my head.  Craghelm heard it, too. It was just arm hair. Granted, Hogger’s arm hair is longer than any of ours but they just seemed to warp the space around them. You could clearly see them on the floor. Of course, Craghelm wants to know what the hell that was. I just told him I lost my pet and had to revive him. Man, as soon as I could get out of there, I left. It’s got to be all over Ironforge now, that something got me that no one has seen before.”

Superkind leaned forward. “Did you talk to Magni?”

“Not at first. I heard that laugh in my head and it was like my heart went cold. I went to the bar in the Military Ward and drank about 4 beers, one after another. I can still hear it in my head, like a faint echo, when my mind isn’t thinking of something else. I realized that maybe Magni should know. So I sauntered in his direction, pretending not to be on a mission to talk to him. I got to the door of the throne room and saw Craghelm talking to him. When they saw me, Magni motioned for me to come forward.”

Gimmlette took another swig of beer. “Did Tyrande tell you what the fear is?”

“Yes,” Superkind said. “It’s not Hogger. It’s some demon they don’t know. Hogger is merely a convenient form for it. She also said the cork I had in the mouth of the vial wasn’t going to contain the contents. The alchemist nodded, wrote down a bunch of items and had her assistant go get them. She was gone 20 minutes and then the alchemist made this seal. It’s a gold infused plug covered with an enchanted strip of Borean leather and then sealed again with titanium. If we need to get at the contents of this, we have to take it to her. Oh and one other thing, only those of us who have been ‘touched’ can hold this. It will burn anyone else. Wanna try holding it Rin?”

Rineva gave Superkind a look that would curdle seal whey.

“Didn’t think so,” Superkind laughed and he tucked the vial inside his armor. “Tyrande told me not to put it in my bag because, eventually, it will eat a hole in the bag. Nor could I put it in the bank because bankers routinely snoop through your stuff and, if they found it, it could wind up in the wrong hands. So, she made this pocket and I carry it. At some point, we have to move the contents to a new vial as this tuff eats the vial from the inside out. She wouldn’t tell me what would happen if the vial broke and the contents spilled. I’m guessing it’s not good.”

Skipperdo looked at Gimmlette. “Can I tell them?”

Gimmlette sighed, “Yeah. Go ahead. We all need to hear it.”

“I don’t know about breaking the vial, but I do know we are on limited time. TdK was summoned, physically, to Bronzebeard’s chambers, arriving shortly after Gimm got there. He was followed by Muninn Magellas who was carrying a very old book. We went around the back of Bronzebeard’s throne where there was a hidden button. A door opened to stairs leading down. Two guards grabbed torches and we walked down these stairs to a circular room with an ancient map inlay on the floor. It was no place that I’d ever seen.

“Muninn set the book down in the center of the floor. TdK pulled out a silver rod with a hand on the end. We were told to stand back. He extended the rod and gingerly clasped the cover with that hand and opened the book. There was a flash and a puff of greenish smoke. The book began to quiver and started turning circles on the floor. They all just stood there and watched like it was something they saw every day. Then it stopped. There was a growl and the pages turned from yellow to tan. Muninn walked over to the book and motioned for us to come look.

“It was a book about the Titans. It’s written in a language they haven’t fully deciphered. There are lots of drawings. The best they can tell is that it’s a book about the war that sundered the world; that created the dwarves; created all the continents and the maelstrom. It might even be stories about creating the Titans themselves but they don’t know.

“Muninn turned the pages to a picture of a demon. He said it’s one of the old gods, maybe older than an old god. It was awakened during the war. It chose the side against everyone. It was shoved into the earth, deep into the earth, entombed where the Titans felt it would never awaken again. Someone found references to it and has started to call it forth. If they succeed in a full call, the sky will be obliterated by a blackness we can’t imagine and this battle against Arthas will seem like a mosquito bite on the arm of history.”

Junas sat back in his chair. “Yeah so? What does this have to do with Hogger? It’s a nice story, full of stuff you scare kids at night so they brush their teeth or go to bed at a decent hour. It doesn’t explain what that is.” He pointed to Superkind’s vial.  “Nor does it explain what happened to us.”

“There is more,” Skipperdo said. “Someone somewhere in the world is calling this old demon forth or is letting them back into the world. Someone is making the potions that allow the demon to take over the Hogger we all laugh at. Those potions allow that demon a body to run around Azeroth with. Technically, Hogger shouldn’t have attacked us, shouldn’t be attacking soldiers. Technically, Hogger should be pacing around a campfire. Instead, he's waiting on the next batch of potions from whomever is giving them to him, waiting and watching. At a certain point, the demon will be strong enough to fully consume Hogger and then the demon will be let loose on the world.

“The problem is," Skipperdo continued. "Hogger is still inside this thing and Hogger likes to take down people. Plus, they think whomever is giving Hogger the potions doesn’t have the mix quite right. So, Hogger occasionally surfaces, realizes he’s got all this power and attacks the Brigade. We just happened to be there when he ran through.”

Superkind sat back in his chair. “That explains his eyes. I was looking at two people in those eyes. One seemed aware of me but just wanted to kill me. The other was a blackness, a gaze of complete contempt for my existence. I was seeing the demon and Hogger.”

“Yes,” replied Gimmlette. “The problem is that because we were attacked and killed by this Hogger thing, we have been exposed to whatever is being introduced into him. Zelde, you, too, have been exposed because you happened to rez us within an hour of our dying. We have, maybe, 4 weeks before we will turn green, collapse and then dissolve into a green smoke. They have seen this in all the guards killed by Hogger.

“Once rezzed, they start showing, at 4 weeks, uncharacteristic behavior and then staying up all night and claiming they don’t need sleep. They attack other guards and people in an attempt to kill them. When locked away, they foam at the mouth and talk in a strange language no one knows. Eventually, they are wracked with pain before dying. The smoke is ‘alive’ because it looks for a way out of the prison. Bronzebeard said they haven’t been able to track where the smoke goes, but they think it goes  back to Hogger and the demon in him needs it to continue his metamorphosis.”

The party was silent as they contemplated this news.

“So,” said Junas, after a few minutes. “Are we doomed?”

Gimmlette looked at Superkind. “Magni said you would have you have an answer for that.”

Superkind smiled and removed a palm-sized orb from his backpack. “I don’t know if I can answer the ‘Are we doomed’ question, but Tyrande gave me this and said I should use it when we were all together. It would take us to the one person who could answer our questions. It’s a one-way trip and it’s only once, but whoever is at the end of this portal can tell us what we’re supposed to do next.”
The orb glowed with a silvery white light. Gimmlette knocked back the rest of her ale. She tossed a few gold coins on the table.

“I’m not interested in being demon food. Let’s go.” She said and stood up in front of Superkind.
The rest of the party stood up, finished their drinks and pushed their chairs away.

“Junas, grab one arm. Zel, grab the other. The rest of you, hang onto one of them. I gotta use both hands to rub this, Tyrande said.” Superkind instructed.

The group stood in a small circle, hanging onto one another. Superkind began to rub the orb. There was a soft whooshing sound that seemed to come from all around them. The silvery light grew in brightness until that was all they could see. There was a pop. The only things left in the Pig and Whistle were the tankards, coins on the table and an errant potion that Superkind forgot to put back in his bag.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Suggestion Box

by Gimmlette

This one was suggested by Minaithelan.

Getting around with guild members or a party in general, can be tough. If someone in the party hasn't purchased fast riding or fast flying, your group has to wait for them to get where you're going. Both of those upgrades are fairly pricey, even in an age where making money is reasonably easy. If you have a stable of alts, buying fast movement speed is a cha-ching proposition. So, many people opt not to buy the faster mount speeds. It's a matter of economics.

There are, however, ways to get your slower guild mates to their destinations. Two-seater mounts, such as the Grand Black War Mammoth, whose speed is based on the driver, not the passenger, can get slower people across the ground fast. We use these when we raid Silvermoon City. For flying, hop on a Sandstone Drake, for instance. No one needs to be left behind, unless... you are traveling over the water.

Currently, there is no two-seater water mount. There is, perhaps, not a demand for one, but there's not really a demand for the mammoth or the drake. They just are, which means, there doesn't have to be a precedent for need to have a mount. The raft shown above you buy from Nat Pagle in Krasarang Wilds, once your reputation with The Anglers gets to revered. The raft works in every body of water and is a relatively fast mode of transport. If you have to cross water and then run up to something, you don't have to dismount since the raft disappears once you hit land. It lasts 10 minutes, so you do have to watch your time while using it. And once you attack something or get attacked by something, it despawns.

It would be way cool to have a two person raft. You could fish together but, more importantly, you would be able to ferry around someone who doesn't have fast riding or a water mount. It would be neat to be able to attack from the raft, but we'll take just being about to raft down the river like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Serial Saturday

by Gimmlette

Chapter 3

“They should be in here,” said Zelde, as she turned into the Pig and Whistle. Her companion nodded. “Usually are” came the sardonic reply.

They entered the bar and were met by the waitress. She looked them up and down. She started to ask if they were looking for someone when laughter from the upstairs filled the bar.

“This should be interesting if they are already half-drunk,” Zelde said. Her companion shrugged. “And this would be different from normal how?”

They climbed the stairs to the second floor and  found Junas and Gimmlette watching a slightly inebriated Skipperdo dancing on the table. He’d been baby spiced and was roughly a foot tall. Junas would, occasionally, invert his empty beer tankard over the gnome. One would then hear the distinct sounds of “shave and a haircut, two bits” rapped on the inside of the tankard. Junas would lift off the tankard and laugh.

“Typical,” said Zelde, folding her arms over her chest. “Starting the party without us.”

Footfalls sounded on the stairs and Superkind trotted onto the landing, passing by the newcomer just as her bat-winged hat opened in his face.

“Nice Season 3 Arena gear, Rin,” he laughed, as he brushed one of the wings aside. “Most of us have graduated from that.”

“Yes, well, most of you have no character. This is my ‘about town’ hat,” sniffed Rineva as she moved toward an empty seat. Zelde followed the warlock and sat down at the table across from her.
Skipperdo, now back to his regular 3’5” height, jumped off the table and raced to the edge of the balcony. “Waitress! We’ll need more beer up here!” He turned to look at Junas, snickered, and then said, “And put it on Junas’ tab.”

From down below a male voice shouted, “You know Junas’  money isn’t any good here!” 

Skipperdo pulled a chair next to Rineva and climbed up onto it. “Have you come to drain our souls or to save them?”

“Save them, obviously, all except Gimm. She’s management so she has no soul.”

“Hey now!” said Gimmlette, turning towards Rineva. “I care.”

“No one said you didn’t care. We just said you didn’t have a soul and we only say that because you keep saying that.”

“Only when you threaten to drain everyone’s soul if you aren’t made Empress,” Gimmlette shot back.
“Yeah and how’s my coronation party coming?”

The waitress appeared at this point with frothy mugs of the bar’s best brew. In the tradition of the best barmaids in the business, she had 3 tankards in each hand. Three were set in front of Junas and three were set on the table around which Zelde, Rineva and Skipperdo sat. Junas handed the gal a small sack of gold. “Remember, we have this area privately.” She nodded and headed back downstairs. Junas turned towards the mugs on the table. “I see my drinks are here. What are you and Super going to have?”

Junas handed a mug to Gimmlette and Superkind and motioned Zelde, Skipperdo and Rineva to move their table closer. When they were in close proximity, he took a long draught of the beer and leaned forward, dropping his voice. “Did anyone find out anything, anything that’s useful?”

“It appears,” Zelde began, “that most people have only heard of Hogger’s ‘enhancement’. It seems he has not been actually seen by a lot of people. I couldn’t find anyone in the AH or the town square who had seen him.”

Gimmlette started to choke on her beer. “You didn’t tell them someone had actually been attacked, did you?”

“Hell no,” Zelde said. “Rin brought the ink and acted as my scribe. We said we were collecting anecdotal stories for the Stormwind Gazette, you know, the paper no one reads except Wrynn.”
“Heh,” said Junas. “I wouldn’t use it to gather talbuk shit in Nagrand.”

“I told them we were writing a story for Wrynn’s amusement. If anyone has met enhanced Hogger, they aren’t telling.”

“For my part,” Skipperdo said, standing up on his chair to be seen. “I went to Ironforge and talked to…” he dropped his voice to nearly a whisper, leaning forward, “TdK. If there is one gnome who knows ‘things’, it’s him. He said, to the best of his knowledge, the only people who have seen Hogger as we saw Hogger have been soldiers at Westbrook Garrison. They have been under strict orders NOT to tell people about their encounters. A total of 15 soldiers have been killed by this thing. It’s so bad that Stormwind soldiers posted to Westbrook are given an effects bag when they ship out and their dependent’s assistance papers are filed before they leave. The only thing missing is the date of death. To say morale is low is an understatement.”

“You went to Ironforge?” Junas asked.

“Well, yeah. I’m not going to Stormwind. Gnomes that know things are in Ironforge. After you ported, I ported Gimm and myself to Ironforge and Super to Darnassus. How are things in Darnassus, Super?”

The night elf leaned back in his chair, took a drink of beer and then leaned forward. “There is extreme worry, although you’d never know it outwardly,” he said quietly. “It cost me 148 gold to repair just the chest  piece.” Automatically, he rubbed the spot where the armor had been split in two. It gleamed in the bar’s light and looked good or even better than new.

“Tell me about it,” Junas said, setting down the mug. “185 gold just to fix the shield. I had to pay a mage 10 gold to port me to Dalaran because the guy who fixes shields like mine was in the shop in Dalaran. He said the last time he saw such damage, Lady Prestor was turning into Onyxia in the keep. I knew if I told him what had happened, it’d be all over Azeroth in 10 minutes. That guy talks.”
Superkind leaned back in his chair and waiting for the paladin to finish. Junas, realizing he’d cut in on the information Superkind had, took a breath and then stopped.

“Go on,” he said. “Go on.”

“Of course I was asked what had happened,” Superkind went on. “I said I’d encountered a rather curious monster, probably enchanted in some way. I stood there and watched as he melted the split edges, reinforced them and removed the split. As he was doing that, he found, under the edge of one of the splits, this.”

From under his chest piece, Superkind produced a vial of vaguely greenish, vaguely fluid material. It was about a quarter of a vial and the vial itself had a wax seal on the end which was covered with a thin film of metal. The material inside the vial swirled on its own, sometimes turning dark forest green, sometimes seeming to glow from within. It seemed to be a liquid akin to maybe syrup or fel orc blood. But then it's color would change and it would seem to be like sand. It almost seemed to be an entity unto itself. They all watched quietly as Super would briefly shake the vial and the material inside would change and move in ways they had never seen before.

“He didn’t know what it was, but I had no doubt it came from Hogger when he sliced my armor and me open. He would have taken this as payment but I got to it first. I thought it was a Nature Resist potion gone bad but decided to take it to Tyrande for analysis.”

“You went to Whisperwind herself?” Gimmlette asked, surprised.

“I couldn’t take it to Fandral. Good lord, he’d have killed me on the spot for it. This is beyond anything Ainethil knows. Tyrande doesn’t like Wrynn. Does anyone really like him? So beyond Bronzebeard and O’ros, who’s she going to talk to?”

Skipperdo stood up on his chair and cleared his throat. “Might I remind you that there are 5, count ‘em, 5 factions to the Alliance.”

Superkind snickered. “Oh yes, the king the horde always kill when they get off the tram.”

“Gelbin Mekkatorque, and don’t you forget it,” Skipperdo said and sat down. He crossed his arms across his chest and muttered, “Harumph. Pretending we don’t exist.”

Rineva patted Skipperdo gently on the head. “There there. Have another drink. You’ll feel better when you can’t remember.”

Skipperdo swatted her hand away. “Hey! Hey! Not the hat. It took the hatter 4 tries and 125 gold to fix it. He wanted to know how I could insult so many tauren.”

“What did Tyrande say, Super?” asked Zelde.

“It was interesting. Almost no one comes to see her so  when I said I was very troubled and needed her counsel alone, she dismissed her advisors and guard down the ramps out of sight. I held this up just as I’m holding it to you, although the top was just stopped with a cork. Her eyes got wide and she turned more pale than I think any night elf has a right to be, maybe the color of Beyondlight’s skin.”

Skipperdo say back in his chair. “Hey! He’s that color because he’s, wait for it, dead. You’re expecting him to be peach or taupe colored?”

“She looked at me and said, ‘The story is true then. But how did you get this?’ I said that my friends and I had an ‘encounter’. She actually stepped away from me at that point. ‘And you are alive to tell me this?’” Superkind rubbed his chest. “I told her we were brought back by a priest in our guild not long after we died. I looked at her and said, ‘It was caught in my split open armor. What is it?’ She said it’s Hogger’s blood only it’s not blood. It’s whatever’s inside of him thanks to whatever it is he’s drinking.”

“The potion ingredients are turning his blood to this?” asked Gimmlette, as she watched the movement in the vial.

“Not exactly,” Superkind continued. “Tyrande muttered some words and we were transported to the back of the alchemy store in Dalaran. Linzy Blackbolt came into the back and took a look at the stuff. She mixed up some Lichbloom, some Icethorn, some blueish purplish potion and some black potion. Smelled awful. She put on these heavy gloves and removed the stopper just to pour a drop of this into the container with the other mix. There was a flash of greenish light; that sickly light we all know as evil;  a loud pop and this hole appeared. It was like all light was absorbed into it. I swear I could hear a voice chuckling, but it was coming from inside my head. I thought my heart stopped for a couple seconds, too. Linzy looked at Tyrande and said, ‘It is what we feared.’”

Superkind reached for his beer, allowing his word to fall onto the ears of his friends. The balcony air was still, almost as still as death. They said nothing, looking down at the floor, absorbing what he told them.

To be continued...

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Throwback Thursday

by Gimmlette

I've talked briefly before about how the game can provoke an emotional reaction by how something is executed. I was on the Thandol Span between Wetlands and Arathi Basin to take a selfie for the Field Photographer achievement and a memory washed over me, a remembrance of a quest chain I hadn't thought of in years. 

Blizzard is known for dropping cultural references into the game and this was no different. At the game's development, interest in the US Civil War was at an all-time high thanks to Ken Burns and his documentary. The themes of lands torn apart by war, of brother against brother and the sheer loss of life resonate within the game as well as without. One of the more poignant quests was a little known one by the Thandol Span. 

There used to be a quest where you had to find out what happened to the dwarf stationed on the left side of the span. What you can't see in this selfie is that the left side of the bridge is shattered. There is a column leaning precariously over the water. Inside was a dwarf who was manning the post as he should be. In order to get to him, you had to jump from the Arathi Highlands side (behind me) to a ledge on the pillar. Missing the ledge meant you fell into the water below. Once you completed the quest, the only way to get back to the mainland was to jump into the water and swim to the ramps leading out of the water. It was in the water that the Sully Balloo Letter quest was obtained. 

It was hard to find this quest. Sully is dead, crushed by bridge sections. If you didn't know he was there, it would be extremely easy to miss him. You would see a hand, outstretched, from under this massive block. When you moused over the hand, a cog wheel would appear. Clicking on the hand gave you a letter with instructions to take it to Sully's wife, Sara, in Ironforge. There was no quest to lead you to the body. You either had someone who told you about it or was one of the people who moused over everything so you found it or you read about it. I had someone who knew about it take me to find the letter. 

Sara was and still is, in the Military ward, standing silently on the porch of her home. When you handed her the letter, she would weep, thank you, give you some coin and ask you to take a letter to Magni Bronzebeard, the then ruler of the dwarves. He would accept the letter and the text said that he "looked past you, struggling with his emotions". He thanks you and gives you some coins and that was it. 

I can't find the text of Sully Balloo's letter, but it was very similar, though not as long due to game constraints, to the letter written by one Sullivan Ballou before the first Battle of Bull Run. 

July the 14th, 1861
Washington D.C.
My very dear Sarah:
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.
Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure—and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine O God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.
But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows—when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children—is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country.
Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.
The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar—that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.
Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.
But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the brightest day and in the darkest night—amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours—always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.
Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for me, for we shall meet again.
As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father's love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God's blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.

This letter was well-known to any Civil War buff who played the game. This was probably the first time the game and the things I was asked to do resonated emotionally with me. You cannot get the quest anymore. It was removed with Cataclysm. I'm not sure why Blizzard considered it obsolete and removed it, but it's gone. As I stood overlooking the bridge, I remembered that this simple 2 step quest solidified the game as something I wanted to play. Sara stands in Ironforge still, waiting for word from her soldier. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Quest Hub

by Gimmlette

Last week, I wondered how many "bring me the head of x" quests there are in the game. It's a ubiquitous trope. Every expansion has at least a dozen, if not more, quests requiring someone or some thing's head.

If you've headed into Draenor, you recognize the above. This is the other trope so very common in WoW; the poo quest.

When people acknowledged they were in the alpha for Warlords, players wanted to know what kinds of things we'd be doing. Who are the bosses? What are the zones like? How do the new stats work? They also asked, repeatedly, what the poop quest was. It's not an expansion without us having to rifle through or collect poo for something. Initially, it wasn't readily apparent what the quest was. I didn't see it until mid-way through July.

The best poop quest line is in Grizzly Hills on the Alliance side. "Mmmmm...Amberseeds", is what starts it. It's Alliance only and it is hilarious. Draenor poop seems to be confined to this quest above. While amusing and is the method by which this character is introduced to us, this is it for poo. Perhaps Blizzard feels the idea has run its course, that there is nothing new to have us do with regards to excrement. That's kind of sad. Yes, it's more than a little "ewwwww", but this trope has a history within the game I hope Blizzard doesn't abandon.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Out And About

by Gimmlette

I finally decided to take my tauren to Draenor. Although my main is Alliance, I made this tauren warrior back in 2007 to see the other side of WOW. I don't jump in and level quickly. It's really a "What this like" toon.

It helps with leveling, that I've done this Alliance side. I know where to go and what to do when doing the starter quests to get to Frostfire Ridge. And, having done the beta, some things are burned into my memory. The portal between Draenor and Azeroth is one thing.

I love the colors. I love the swirls. When we deactivate the portal and then destroy it, I felt a sadness, not because of the theme of the Iron Horde invading, but the loss of the pretty colors. I'm anxious to see how this all plays out. Will we restore the portal and get the colors back or has it been irrevocably changed?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Suggestion Box

by Gimmlette

Inaara suggested this hunter-specific, totally cosmetic idea. Even with the "Lone Wolf" talent, part of hunter-ing is having a pet. There are times when even the solo hunter wants his or her pet out. Inaara suggests that there be collars we can get for our pets. This would be a cosmetic addition, much like shirts are for us. 

I could get behind this idea. A group of hunters in a recent heroic Terrace of Endless Springs raid demonstrates what could happen. (Georgeyporgy, Mullingrew, Neolatro, me and Taraksa, left to right.) We've got wolves and a core hound and a spirit beast. Sparkly collars would look cool on the purple wolves or the spirit beasts. While my core hound (Formerly The Beast from UBRS) has a spiky collar, I'd love to see something with more pronounced spikes; maybe flaming. Neolatro's wolf would look excellent in the standard spiked collar of lore. 

Have them come in colors, maybe the Roy G Biv of our learning the colors of the rainbow. I don't know that I'd get a collar for all my pets. I'm kind of used to my favorite, UrsaMajor, a Loch Modan bear, running without a collar, but I would consider matching or complementing the color of my spirit beast porcupines with a collar; the green one gets a festive red collar while the blue one could have a sparkly blue collar. 

It would be too much to be able to add a collar with the pet's name on it. It would give the design team fits to make a collar with a pet's name react to all the things we ask the hunter pet to do and still be able to read the name, but that would be way cool. I'd have collars for ALL my pets then. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Serial Saturday

by Zelde

Chapter 2

A hum, like a deep vibration, stirring the dust on the ground.


No, a hum like a solo hymn being sung in a chapel far, far away thru the rain.

On nothing.

Moving closer then, like the sound of the Deeprun Tram coming down the tunnel.

The stir of the air.

Fast. Too fast. Louder, deeper, higher, a crescendo to a shrill note.


Faster and faster, then suddenly, “whump”, hard ground, packed with pine needles, smashed into Gimmlette’s cheek and all was still.

“What in the name of Bronzebeard…,” she said as she opened her eyes.

Then she stopped short as she saw, mere inches from her face, a pair of lightly-worn, deep purple silken slippers. This however, wasn’t what stopped her. It was more that said slippers were floating about a foot above the forest floor to which her cheek had been recently introduced. Before she could look up to determine the source of said footwear, she let her eyes focus to a stone’s throw away where a paladin was sitting cross-legged, holding a flask to his lips with one hand and rubbing his temples with the other.

“Junas! By your blessed, shiny, armor-plated butt…what happened?”

The reply came from above, though, peppered with a light chuckle. “Don’t mind him, boss, that’s just some of the old ginnintonix to help restore that new-Paladin shine! I hear the trip back from the great beyond can, er, take it right out of ya. By the way, what the heck used you for punching bags?”

Before Gimmlette could reply, Superkind joined them, sailing thru the air in a beam of light to Junas’ feet.

“Would you mind getting  Skippy, too, Mr. My-Gear-Is-Slightly-Better?” snarked the voice from above. Junas made a gesture that translated quite well from common into Dwarvish and just about every other language on Azeroth and beyond.

Suddenly nosed over onto her back by a reluctant but affectionate truckload of bear, Gimmlette looked up at an extended hand, attached to a not-especially ascetic-looking young lady dressed in the yet unmistakable garb and comforting aura of a priest.

“What day is it? Where the hell are we? Where have you BEEN?” the dwarf boiled over, regaining her air of leadership.

With a mock half-bow, the priest replied, ticking off the answers on her fingers, “Sunday, Elwynn and missing all the fun, apparently!”

Zelde lazily tossed a few bolts of swirling light at the cloud of dust and sparkling light that hopefully contained a confused but no longer dead Skipperdo. The gnome looked about him, blinking in the bright noon-time sunlight. “Oh, I see how it is. First to die, last to get rezzed,” he said morosely.

“Yeah, pretty much,” Zelde laughed. “So want to tell me what decided to rearrange your atoms on this fine day?”

The group looked at each other.

“Hogger,” Gimmlette said flatly. “The rumors are true.”

Zelde took a deep breath and then looked back over her shoulder with that inextinguishable grin. “Wanna go hunt some gnoll? It’ll be fun.”

Skipperdo looked down at the crumpled hat in his hands. He massaged the brim but the deep creases would not go away.

“Fun. Yes,” he said ruefully. “You have a very sick sense of fun, Zel.”

Junas chuckled, “She’s always been like that.”

“Hey guys?” Gimmlette called as she rummaged through the grass at the base of the tree. “Ursa, you’re no help,” and she pushed the devoted bear aside. “How many gems got knocked off my stuff and do I have them all?”

Zelde dropped to the ground and began scrounging with Gimmlette through the flattened grass. Superkind came over to help after tossing his raptor a chunk of meat. Xlii roared happily and began chewing on the feast.

“Well, stand up and let’s count. What has gems in it?” he asked, looking down kindly at the dwarf. He massaged his own chest. He was one-shotted, by a gnoll. The numbers didn’t add up. He had more health than Gimmlette, yet she lasted through 2 swipes. He had been one-shotted.

But then he remembered the look. Those eyes. Something about those eye right before…He shuddered involuntarily.

“Okay shorty. Either Super’s going to have to get on his knees to see your armor or we’re going to have to give you a lift,” said Zelde with a laugh. She spoke some words, made some gestures and Gimmlette was levitated a foot off the ground. Superkind laughed.

“I still have to kneel down,” he laughed. “Dwarves are too, well, dwarven.”

He knelt down and patted Gimmlette on the head. The look on her face said it all. There would be snowballs later when he least expected it.

“I should have gems in my helm, my chest and my belt,” Gimmlette said, running her hands over the dented chest piece. “Oh Super, you have a gash.”

She pointed to the opening across the chest that started just below his right shoulder and ran diagonally about 10 inches. Junas came over to look.

“Cripes. How the hell is Hogger strong enough to do that or this?” He held up his shield which was in 2 pieces. “We’re going to have to repair for sure.”

“I concur,” said a grouchy voice down by everyone’s knees. Zelde levitated Skipperdo. “I simply cannot get the brim of my hat to lie flat anymore. Portal to Stormwind folks?” Skipperdo began to chant the magic that bent space.

“Wait!” Gimmlette wailed. “My gems! I only have 2!” She opened her hands where she held the topaz for the belt buckle and the King’s Amber for her chest.

Superkind touched her helm. “Gimm, the other two stayed put. You’re good. Let’s get repaired and stock up on some liquids. We have a gnoll to seek and destroy.”

“The Skipperdo Space Warp is open and ready for business,” Skipperdo announced.

“Hey, let’s meet at the Boar and Flower…” began Junas.

“You mean Pig and Whistle,” interjected Gimmlette, who had removed her helm and was looking it over carefully.

“Yeah, whatever the name is. You dwarves know the bars better than me. Anyway, let’s meet there after we repair. Maybe spend some time asking around. See if anyone else has fought this guy and what they did. In a couple hours? Will that work? Great. See you then. This repair bill is gonna hurt.” And Junas jumped through the portal to Stormwind.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Casually Guilded: Starting One of Your Own

by Gimmlette

Spectacular Death's first defeat of Steelbreaker in Ulduar, 11-12-10.

WOW is the kind of game that you can play in pretty much any fashion you like. While running content solo can be done, it's clear the best benefits come from grouping with like-minded people and running content with them. I've known people who act as mercenaries, hiring themselves out for a piece of the loot or even being paid gold for their services. But the way the game is structured, the best and most productive experience is when you're in a guild.

Finding a guild is an inexact science. Our very first "Casually Guilded" was about finding a guild that meets what you want out of the game. Let's say, however, that you have bounced around between a number of guilds, just not finding anything that truly meets what you want. Now days, more than when Spectacular Death, my guild, was formed, there are guilds for every time of day and every style of play, although finding them can be a somewhat daunting task.

Let's take this idea a step further and say that you've done the things suggested in the article, but just haven't found a good fit. Let's say that you have an idea for what a guild should be and you think you'd like to try your hand at running one. How hard can this be? Before you cough up the money for a charter, pay people to sign the charter and design a tabard, I've got some things for you to think about. I've been leading Spectacular Death for 7 years. That's a long time in WOW history for a guild to exist. I don't have all the answers and there are days and weeks when I don't think I have any answers, but I'm going to toss out some observations based on these years of running a guild.

First of all, how committed are you to running a guild? You cannot "set it and forget it", so to speak. Even if there are two of you who are co-guild leaders (something I do NOT suggest), you need to commit to being on more days during the week than you are off, if you want to get the guild up and running. Think about running a guild as running a business. It's your name over the door, to use a business analogy. Issues are yours to deal with. All of the things that happen in a guild and think of all the things you have done in guilds, come from someone and, generally, that someone is you. If you are in this to grow into even a small-size guild, unless it's family only, or just a guild for your bank alts, you need to make a commitment to the guild and to running it.

Spectacular Death's first defeat of Archimonde in 
The Battle of Mount Hyjal, 7-19-09. 

Second, what kind of guild do you want to be? For example, when Spectacular Death was formed, the gentleman and I who funded its creation had been talking for months about how we'd never seen the classic WOW raids; Molten Core, Blackwing Lair and Ahn Qirag. No guild we knew was running that stuff. They were trying to clear Burning Crusades raids. We also did not want to raid in the "hard-core" fashion we had seen being advertised. So, we decided our niche would be what we called "retro-raiding", seeing the old content first before moving on. "We'll never be first into content, but we'll have the most fun when we get there" was, and still is, our statement of purpose.

You need to decide what it is that you want out of the game. If you can only play from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. because you work late evenings, then that's the kind of player to whom you will appeal. If you only want to PvP, then that's the kind of guild you'll create. Decide what you want to do within the game and decide who is your target guild member. Over 18; under 35; families; military only? LGBT? There are guilds out there for pretty much any subset, keep in mind, but this is not to say you can't start one and be wildly successful.

One thing, however. If you decide that you're going to make a guild that raids current content in the evenings, you are going to fail. This is not a "maybe", this is a "will". Evening raiding guilds are a fraction of a penny a dozen. On any given day, if I stand in any major city, I can see 3-5 recruitment statements in General chat advertising the next incarnation of an evening raiding guild. There is nothing special or unique about a guild that wants to run current content from 8-11 three nights a week and 8-12 on Saturdays.

You have to offer people something different, something they can't get in any other guild. You need, in advertising parlance, a "hook", something that makes them want to look you up and ask about the guild or to join it. Just deciding you don't like the raiding style of the last 3 guilds you were in is not a good reason to start your own and compete for the same raiders that every other guild competes for. Remember, even on a high population server, there are a finite amount of people available to join your guild. You have to have something those who are looking want so they want to join your guild.

C'Thun downed on June 13, 2009. 

Thirdly, do you have friends willing to join you? Why should this matter? If you don't mind getting three strangers to sign your guild charter and then want to go it alone to populate your guild, have at it. But having friends join you as you set up the guild gives the new person, who finds your guild's purpose intriguing, a sense that it's not a spur of the moment idea; that you might actually have an idea and a timetable of what you want to do. Plus, even if it's a temporary term, your friends can fill officer slots to help you get up and running and then step down when you have more people in the guild, if they don't wish to continue.

Fourth, draw up your rules and a statement of purpose before you plunk down money for a charter or before you have the signatures on that charter. Spectacular Death has a Code of Conduct. We drew it up 2 weeks after we formed. I had friends who signed the charter and agreed to be officers at the beginning. We spent 3 hours in a bar in what used to be the Park in Stormwind talking about goals and what kind of things we felt strongly about to make it into the Code. Since that day, the Code has been tweaked 3 times in 7 years, to reflect some things which happened to the guild which we never foresaw on that day. Every potential member is required to read the Code. We've been told that what we state is "common sense", but we've seen, repeatedly, that the sense is not common.

You need to have, at the start, a statement on what is an isn't acceptable to be in your guild. If you are going to make a "mature" guild, you need to let potential members know that language can get salty. Spell out what is a kickable offense. I would also draw up raiding and bank rules. If you don't have these things "on paper" where potential members can read them, you will have someone do something, like take items from your guild bank and sell them in the AH to make money, and claim, when they are caught, that they didn't know they couldn't do that. You won't be able to prepare for everything that could happen; people are nasty opportunists; but if you plan for those things that you would kick someone over and what behavior is expected from potential members, you'll be many steps ahead.

Taking over Freewind Post in Thousand Needles on 8-9-2009. 

Fifth, do you have money you can sink into your guild? From the initial payment for the charter, to the design of the tabard to all the bank tabs, and so much in between, you, as guild leader, will find yourself funding a lot. I quit keeping track at our 3rd anniversary but, at that point, I had given the bank over 50,000 gold in either money or goods to keep it going and to do the things I felt it was important for us to do. Your philosophy will vary, but I won't charge guild members dues. I know of guilds who do that. You pay a set amount, say 100 gold, every month, which is used to buy potions and materials for raiders. If you don't raid at all that month, you don't pay. We have contests in SD and I will give out personal loot as prizes. Be prepared to fund things because the guild bank has 26 gold, 18 silver and 77 copper in it. It's worse now because we don't have the Cash Flow perk which would return a lot of gold received from questing into the bank. We're doing okay, but if you're just starting out, be prepared to pay out of your own pocket to keep the guild going.

Sixth, be prepared for paperwork. You'll need to have a list of goals and how soon you think you'd like to accomplish those. Be conservative. Current tier raiding always takes longer than you expect. If your goal is to simply clear the old stuff, you'll probably find most raids from Cataclysm and earlier take an hour to 90 minutes. But plan for a longer raid.

Decide what guild achievements you'd like to get first. Everyone likes having a goal to shoot for. Again, if you are running a PvP guild and you think you can get the achievement, Blood Elf Slayer, in a month, add a couple weeks to that. Trust me on this. If you set the guild up for getting Horde Slayer within 3 months of forming, you will be disappointed when it doesn't happen. Always expect things to take longer and you'll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly people want to get achievements or do events.

Decide what the ranks are and what they will be called. Decide what the qualifications are for each rank and when you will do promotions. Familiarize yourself with the things you can do under the "Info" tab on the roster. That's where you'll find the ranks. You'll also find bank permissions.

Seventh, get yourself a copy of The Guild Leader's Handbook by Scott Andrews. He writes the "Officer's Quarters" column for BlizzardWatch. I found his advice to be spot on. The book is something I refer to again and again for tips in dealing with things you can't anticipate as you are leading a bunch of people around in the game.

Lastly, be prepared to be frustrated, angry, irritated, saddened, exhilarated and moved by the kindness of your guild members. I've been all of these and every other emotion. When you're really angry, get out of the game. I've sent out very angry emails to officers that resulted in hurt feelings. (Don't do that. Cool off before sending out emails or in-game letters.) This is just like managing a team. There are going to be people pulling more than their share and people who are looking at the scenery and standing in stuff. There are times I want to reach through the computer and strangle someone. My cats are used to me yelling at the screen, "Just how stupid are you?" I sometimes feel that I'm not leading properly, that I have failed the guild in leadership. Having someone to talk to helps ease that feeling.

Yet, even when we spend an hour beating our heads against a boss, I wouldn't trade the experience with people that I know; people I can laugh with; for all the current raid tier clears in the world.

Throwback Thursday

by Gimmlette

Searching for a different photo to illustrate an event, I found this. It fills me with sadness. This is Cairne Bloodhoof, the late leader of the Tauren. The Tauren have a very interesting lore. I didn't know much about the Horde side until I was disenchanted with the Alliance guild I was in at the time. I thought a change of faction might help my ennui and disenchantment. I did some brief reading and felt the Tauren would best fit with my play style. Cairne was more neutral toward the Alliance than the other leaders. Alliance could have had Tauren, but, in the lore, we treated Cairne rather badly and Thrall stepped in.

Speaking of Thrall,

Prior to the Cataclysm, he was the overall leader of the Horde. For people who started playing in the Cataclysm or later expansions, they have no idea, unless they read the lore, that these two were a part of the hierarchy. You get a sense of this in a brief quest chain in Warlords, but brand new players won't know any of why there is a confrontation between Thrall and Garrosh.

And Cairne's death is not at all covered for Alliance players. If you didn't read The Shattering by Christie Golden, you don't know any of the backstory for why Cairne's son, Baine, is now leading. That is a very compelling story, one that is not fully developed within the game.

It's funny how story telling can affect your emotions. Within the whole Horde versus Alliance construct, there were people who were crafted to be somewhat neutral and trying to find ways for the two sides to live peacefully. If you only play one side, you don't get to see how the other leaders or NPCs react to the opposite faction, which is a good reason to play the other faction for a time. I felt respect for Cairne, for what the storytellers had him doing. When he died, under extremely sinister and deplorable conditions, I felt a genuine loss. I hope, in a future patch or expansion, the conditions under which Cairne died will be more fully developed and we, as players can right this wrong.

I have photos of these two because my tauren interacted with them. I didn't interact with the troll chief, Vol'jin, nor the undead ruler, Sylvanas, or the blood elf head, Theron. I'm kind of sad I didn't go out of my way to document them prior to the Cataclysm. These photos show what the original Horde leadership looked like. So many changes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Quest Hub

by Gimmlette

So I was running a 5-man obtained out of the inn in my garrison. Generally, I just accept whatever the quest is that the guy with the blue ! over his head has for me. I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the actual quest. (I do wonder what Mylune is doing with all those tiny peachicks I bring her. Why isn't my garrison overrun with peacocks of various sizes?)

Anyway, I ran an instance with guild mates and then went to my inn to turn things in. One of the quests required this as a turn in; something I had automatically looted off the boss at the end of Bloodmaul Slag Mines.

First of all, I had to actually go back to Shattrath City to watch the drama unfold between Cro and the fruit vendor. "Oh yeah. Flavor in Lower City." Then, here I am, turning in a head I've stuffed into my bags.

"Bring me the head of X" quests are a staple of the game. I don't remember how many I've done over the years that I've played. There doesn't seem to be a "head count" (pun gleefully intended) of just how many you would encounter while leveling. At one time, I entertained the idea of doing, but never completing, as many as I could, sticking these heads into my bank. I have a bunch of new toons, made to save a particular name that I stumbled upon and liked. I should start to level one of those and see just how many of these I can find. At the very least, opening my bank to see a whole bunch of heads staring back at me will make an interesting screenshot.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Out And About

by Gimmlette

The selfie craze has come to the game. I've always taken screenshots with myself and whatever boss we happened to be fighting. The addition of the ability to take selfies will probably mean more people are positioning themselves with the boss to their back. For a brief time, their dps, tanking or healing numbers will go down, while they fumble with their selfie camera. I already put an icon on my toolbar to use right away when the selfie urge arises.

Here's a recent selfie with Onyxia. If she'd just drop her mount, I'd leave her alone.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Suggestion Box

by Gimmlette

Gear. We have a lot of it and we have a lot available to us. The arrival of transmog means we now keep much more gear than we ever had. Void storage has allowed us to keep things which were meaningful to us out of our regular bags. 

The bind to account and heirloom items are a boon to people leveling alts. With their capability of being sent across faction, your tauren in Orgrimmar now benefits from the mace your main in Shadowmoon Valley assembled from archaeology fragments without you having to level archaeology on that toon. Just drop it in the mail and it will be in that toon's mailbox instantly. 

What those of us who have toons on both factions really want, however, is the ability to mail other items across factions. I'm sitting with a couple of shields and a blacksmithing pattern that I want to send to my tauren. In the past, you headed to the neutral auction house, got a friend to watch and you posted your stuff. They bought it and sent it on. There was always a risk, particularly with hard to obtain items, someone would be watching and would buy out your black cat before your toon on the other side bought it. It was rare, but it did happen. With the demise of the neutral AH, this risk has risen because there are players who regularly play the AH, looking for under valued items. It's very frustrating to send materials to the other side now. 

There has to be a reason this isn't allowed. Blizzard took a great step in combining auction houses so both sides benefit from increased buyers and sellers of goods. But it makes the movement of goods to your opposite faction toons much harder. So, we'd like to see the ability to send any gear or materials to any opposite faction toon attached to our account. You couldn't mail a shield to the opposing faction toon of someone in your guild, just your own. This seems, to us, to be the next step in making our account work better. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Serial Saturday

by Gimmlette

Chapter One continued

Gimmlette felt in her pockets for her special trinkets, clicked them and unloaded shot after shot. Although she favored guns, the motion to use this bow had become second nature to her. Saronite Razorheads cut the air with a slight singing sound. Hogger was starting to resemble a porcupine. Gimmlette used her entire shot arsenal. She fired in easy rotation, pumping out the maximum she could while feeling her health slowly ebbing even with the health potion infusion. UrsaMajor’s extra attack also passed and he was back to his usual swiping.

Having killed Skipperdo, the beast turned his attention to the dwarf, as she was now closest. With a roar, which became a fear to the horrified travelers and which sent the bear and raptor fleeing, he charged. Gimmlette scarce had time to pull her weapon and take a swing when another swish of Hogger’s arm sent her flying towards a tree. She hit the tree with such force that gems from her armor were dislodged and fell, along with her lifeless body, to the ground.

Junas struggled to his feet. “Super, this shouldn’t be happening,” he yelled.

“I know,” shouted the night elf who was emptying more ammo into this mob than he’d ever shot at anything before. Every special shot he could think of had been used. He’d gone through his trinkets twice already. Hogger was still standing. This shouldn’t be.

Junas again charged, lowering his shield in a very unpaladin –like bull rush. The force of the impact of Junas running full into Hogger was like a demolition ball hitting a brick wall. Stars filled Junas’ head and he sank to his knees.

Hogger paid the paladin no mind. Superkind couldn’t believe that the force of Junas’ charge hadn’t even stunned the gnoll. Arrows from Gimmlette were sticking out all over his shoulders, upper arms and back. Bite marks from UrsaMajor and Xlii oozed blood. Hogger turned his maleficent gaze on Superkind and Superkind realized whatever Hogger was drinking had made him something not of this world. Those eyes. There was something about those eyes.

Superkind pulled out Marrowstrike as the beast leaped toward him. He swung and the blade ripped across Hogger’s chest. “Now that’s a serious wound,” Superkind thought. He leaped sideways to avoid the reactionary swing of the wounded monster. Another swing from Marrowstrike went across the back. Hogger howled as the blade cut another swath through those enhanced muscles. “For Spectacular Death!” Superkind yelled. He jumped backwards, whipped out his gun and fired again. From behind him, he heard a shaky voice say, “We got…this…one, right?”

“God, I hope so,” Superkind hollered back.

Hogger paused. He flexed his wounded body. He eyed the shaky paladin clearing the cobwebs from his mind and the tall elf who was unscathed and simply pouring rounds of ammunition into his body. He roared and Xlii fled in terror again.

“Junas? Did Hogger have the ability to fear?”

“I can’t remember what day it is and you’re asking me if he ever had fear? How the hell should I know? I’m wounded. We got to get this guy down.”

Hogger leaped the fence and charged Superkind in a motion so fluid, it was like water running over rocks. Superkind whipped out Marrowstrike but Hogger was too quick. He grabbed the weapon and broke it in two. Superkind attempted to jump backwards into gun range but the monster grabbed him by one arm and raked him across the chest with the other.  Superkind clutched his shattered armor and chest, looked at Junas and pitched forward.

“Shit,” said Junas as he watched the night elf crumple to the ground. “Okay, you mound of gnoll poop. It’s you and me now.”

Junas prepared himself. He was fairly certain he had more life in him than the thing in front of him. Even so, Junas scrounged in his bag for a health potion. Crap. He’d given his last one to Squidchin when they were fighting in Naxxramas. It had saved the day against Maxxena but he’d forgotten to restock. Oh well, he could take this thing, he was certain he could.

Junas looked at his shield. It was bent and battered. The magic in it was still sound and crackled with a ferocity that reassured him. He could see Hogger was sizing him up and preparing a charge. Junas got into defensive stance. His “oh crap” spell of last resort was available and was probably going to be used.

Hogger roared, lowered his shoulder and charged. Adeptly, Junas waited until the last minute and then stepped aside. The monster crashed through the fence and hit the tree where Gimmlette’s lifeless body lay. The concussion knocked a couple of squirrels off their vantage point above the path.

Hogger didn’t seem as dazed as he should have been. He paused for a second, shook his head, turned and, from his pant leg, drew a sword. It gleamed in the morning sun. Obviously it had been enchanted but this was no ordinary enchant. It was black. It swirled about the blade alternately showing and then hiding the edge. This wasn’t the “Executioner” enchant, the enchant Gimmlette loved simply for its looks. It was as if a void circled about the blade. Whoever was feeding Hogger the drugs had also given him a weapon of incredible power.  But for what reason?

Junas became aware that Hogger was chuckling. He was laughing at him. Hogger’s chuckle made his skin crawl. Junas stood up to his full 6’ height, grabbed his shield and flung it at Hogger.  The shield clanged off the side of the beast’s head, momentarily dazing him. Junas took the opportunity to charge and succeeded in knocking the beast off his feet. He jumped backwards onto the road to have level ground for the fight of his life. Hogger recovered and leaped after him. With the shield returned, Junas raised his left arm to fend off the blow he knew was coming. The air went dead still and time seemed to go in achingly slow motion. Hogger dropped the full force of this swing onto the shield which crumbled as if it was made of paper.

Junas cried out in pain, a pain he didn’t remember ever feeling before and he’d felt pain a lot. There was something else to this pain. Junas swung at Hogger. He felt his sword connect and then stick. Hogger wrenched the sword from Junas’ hand and tossed it aside. Junas felt the left side of his body almost melt. He staggered. Black circles swirled around on the ground.

“Must…get…out…of…circles,” he heard himself say. “Lay…on…hands…must…cast…”

Hogger grabbed the paladin and lifted him above his head. He walked back up the road 50 feet to where a bridge crossed a small stream. In an easy, effortless motion, he hurled Junas at the bridge causing him to fall onto and across the side. Junas tumbled onto the road.

“This…can’t…be…happening,” he thought. “If…only…we…had…a…priest,” and the world went dark.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Casually Guilded: Addons

by Zylostout

Have you ever been playing WoW and thought “I wish that there was something in the interface to help me to do this”? That is where addons come in. They are little bits of code that modify the game interface to allow you to customize how it works. Some of them are small changes and some are big changes. Some of them are very simple to use while others require time and effort to configure.

Addons are written by fans, not by Blizzard, so you might also be wondering if addons are safe to install. Fortunately the answer is yes. Addons are normally downloaded as just a simple zip file that you unzip into your Blizzard AddOns folder, so unlike a normal application with an installer they cannot install other “bonus” software in the form of malware or viruses

There are a few web sites that specialize in collecting WoW addons. Some of the larger ones are: (probably the largest and most popular site) more developer-centric site)

These sites allow you to browse their collection of addons, provide some basic information about what each addon does and which version of the game it is compatible with (at least according to the addon author). Note that addons that are not quite up to the most current version of the game might still work, so they might still be worth trying out. In order to get those to run, you'll need to check "Load Out of Date Addons" in your Add-on panel prior to logging into the game.  

Once you have found an addon you want to try you can download it as a zip file. The zip file will contain one or more folders. To install the addon you unzip these folders into your WoW AddOns folder. On a Windows OS this folder is C:\Program Files (x86)\World of Warcraft\Interface\AddOns. On a Mac OS, open the zip file into your Downloads folder. Then you can just drag the AddOn from the Download folder to Interface/Addons. Once you have all your addons in the right folder, do a quick restart of your computer. Some addons, and it's not always stated in the text, need that restart to start working. 

Once you have started down the addon road be aware that you will probably have to update at least some of your addons each time there is a major game update. I spend a few minutes checking on addon updates each time there is a major game update. There is even a free addon management application from Curse that will do this for you, available at (although only the PC version is supported at this time). This might seem like a bit of a hassle, but it's worth it! The payoff is a much improved game playing experience.

On Macs, if you're checking your update, look for the date the Addon was created or updated. It will be to the right in your Interface/Addon folder. Then check it with the date the Addon was updated. If they are different, you'll want to update. Do the same thing for adding the Addon and drag the update to your folder. You'll get a dialog box asking if you want to update. Click "yes" and the new version overwrites the old. 

Simple Addons for Combat

For some casual players, spending a lot of time finding, installing and configuring addons seems like a big commitment. It is true that some addons do require quite a bit of time to configure. But there are also some simple but still useful addons that take little or no setup, but that will improve your game play.  Here are a few that I have found that will help you during combat.

Note that this is not a comprehensive list. Probably the most recommended addons for combat are Deadly Boss Mods (or DBM), a DPS/Healing meter like Recount or Skada, and for healers, a healing addon like Vuhdo or Healbot. Some guilds require DBM or BigWigs. Those addons require quite a bit more commitment to setup/update/configure than the simple addons covered in this article.


Get out of the fire! This addon plays a sound when you are standing in bad stuff, or just too close to someone else who is radiating bad stuff, not that any of us ever gets distracted by shiny things and stands in the fire, nooooo. I especially like this addon when I am healing, as I can get a bit of “healer tunnel vision” and miss the fire at my feet.

You can use this addon without any configuration. If you want to customize it you can use the main game menu (by default press the Esc button on your keyboard) then select Interface, and then use the Addons tab and pick your addon to see the GTFO settings.

Omen Threat Meter

This addon creates a small window that lets you see who is the most threat to the target, so that you can see who is on top on the aggro list. You might think that only tanks care about this, but consider this:
· If you are a dps and you are very close to topping the threat chart you might want to think about ways to dump threat or you will be tanking next (and if you are a “dps watcher”, that is someone who lives to top the dps charts, keep in mind that a dead dps does no damage, so staying alive is good for your damage numbers).
· If you are playing a class that has a pet and your pet tops the threat chart you will know your pet is generating aggro. You'll need to check if you have Growl on. It's easy to forget when you go from solo to group play and use the same pet for both.
· If you are a healer and you are topping the chart, your heals might be a tad overpowered for the group you are with. If you have a “threat dumping” spell, it might be time to cast that. Or if you think you might be over healing this might be the time to do some more targeted healing instead of AOE heals.
· If you are a healer in a raid and you want to know which tank is the current target, then you will be able to tell by seeing who is topping the threat chart.

Omen has a LOT of settings, but you don't have to worry about them if you just want to use it for its basic purpose of showing an ordered aggro list. When it is first installed it will open in the center of your screen, so you will probably want to grab the Omen title bar and drag it to the side. Once you have it positioned where you want it you should probably lock it in position so that you don't accidentally move it during combat. To do this right click on the Omen title bar and select Open Config and check the “Lock Omen” option. While you are in the settings window you can look around, but you don't need to change anything else to use this addon. Personally I also like to change the Alpha to 70% or less, so that it's semi-transparent allowing me to see a bit of what's under the window.  

CoolLine Cooldowns

Many spells have a cooldown, that is once you cast a spell there is a set time you have to wait before you can cast that spell again. This addon shows a timeline bar, and each time you cast a spell with a cooldown it places an icon for that spell on the timeline, which then slides down the timeline as its cooldown ticks down, expanding to a bigger icon just as it becomes usable again. This give you a single place to look for a visual representation of how long it will be until your spells are ready again. 

I find this is especially nice when you are trying to get the timing right for a sequence of spells that work best together. One of those “cast A first to give a boost to all subsequent spells, then B and C”. CoolLine lets me see if A, B and C are close enough together in time to make it worth waiting for all of them to come off cooldown at around the same time.

It's also nice for those abilities with longer cooldowns, where the standard spiral cooldown display just does not give enough granularity, for example, to let you see if the cooldown is 10 second or 2 seconds.

TomTom and TomTom Ping

TomTom and TomTom Ping are two related addons. TomTom gives you the basic functionality, and TomTom Ping expands upon that to give you a bit more.

TomTom is great all on its own. It shows you where you are in the world using X,Y coordinates, and lets other people give you directions using a TomTom way point marker. If you like to look things up on, then they often give coordinates (something like: 50.6, 23.4) and you can type /way  50.6 23.4 into your chat panel and a TomTom marker will be placed on your map to show you where to go.

Once you have TomTom, extend it by getting TomTom Ping, especially if you are going to group up with others. Once TomTom Ping is installed you can enable one little setting (as shown in the screen grab above), and then any time you click on someone in your group, you will be shown an arrow that points toward that person and shows you how far away they are. 

How many times have you been with someone and they say “come to where I am” and you can't find them?  Or you are trying to heal them and they run out of healing range?  With TomTom Ping as long as they are your current target you will know which way they went. Of course, if they ran right into the fire or straight at the boss, at least you'll know that's NOT where you want to go. 

These easy to install addons will make combat a less daunting event. In my next column, I'll talk about simple addons for the economic side of the game

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Throwback Thursday

by Gimmlette

A little fire for your cold winter?

Now days, when you want this achievement, you need to get thrown off Deathwing's back in the Dragon Soul raid. During the first half of Cataclysm, you got the achievement by being in the wrong place at the right time, or the right place at the wrong time, or something like that.

Superkind (who no longer plays) and I were in Tanaris. We had gone to Zul'Farrak for something, I don't remember what. We were riding back to Gadgetzen. My screen suddenly got bright red. I thought my computer was having issues. Oh no! I couldn't afford a new computer at that time. Then, suddenly, and the huge shadowy form of a dragon flying overhead. Super and I were the first people in the guild to get toasted. In a way, I found that kind of fitting as we are the co-founders of Spectacular Death.

The funny thing about getting toasted in or around Gadgetzen, if you were inside the buildings, the light changed but you would be safe as long as you didn't go outside until the effects subsided. It probably worked that way in other zones which Deathwing fried, but I know this for a fact as I was once at the then neutral Auction House in Gadgetzen when he showed up.

I really liked this event and was sad when it was removed when the raid went live. We "live" in a world where anything can and will kill you. The randomness of this made questing, or, in my case, doing archeology, more dangerous. Was Deathwing going to fry me today? I wound up being toasted 5 times when he was in the world.

Blizzard does these kind of events really well. I wish there were more of them.