25.11.12

The loot roll window

Just a quick post to flag up a relatively new feature, as a morning spent tanking through the LFD tool has revealed not everyone is aware of this handy thing.

Want to roll for offspec? Want to see who's rolling against you? Nosy like me and just want to know what everyone's doing? When loot drops, uncommon quality and upward, you'll see a message in chat that looks like this:

If you click [Loot] the following window will open up:

It keeps track of every roll, past and current, for your perusal. Much neater than a chatlog full of roll spam, innit?

24.11.12

Orgrimmar

Previous

It has been several days since I last wrote, and I am now in Orgrimmar. Most of the rebuild has been finished now, so the whole city is choked up with metal spikes and other fortifications.

I can’t help but think that if Garrosh wanted his city to be a true bastion he should have built it underground. A wall is not much use against gryphons and airships, after all, and I have overheard a lot of talk about the ship that sank Deathwing and its service as part of the Alliance.

It’s just occurred to me that we are now set up for a pantomime. The Alliance’s aerial navy, if that’s what you call it when a boat decides the sky suits it better, versus Orgrimmar, all dressed up in Deathwing’s metal plates. A dramatic reconstruction.

Only Orgrimmar cannot move, or spit fire, or summon up the black dragonflight to its defence. And its demolition won’t scour the world of a great evil, but terminate the lives of a vast number of Horde soldiers and civilians.

Although I accept those two things can be viewed as one and the same, depending on who is asked.

I have to say that the place is strangely monolithic, and by strangely I actually mean in a way that is sadly very familiar to me. Awende and I parted shortly after passing through the gates, and I have decided to scout the inns.

It is unusual that you cannot gauge the thoughts of the Living by sitting in a tavern and listening, so I gained a flagon and a chair and made sure to mind my own business, which is harder than it sounds when you are Forsaken and people are drunk.

But, this time, it was very easy. No-one was interested in me. In fact they may have been purposefully ignoring me. They sat evenly spaced around their round tables, sitting cross-legged on furs, with a guard or two presiding over their talk.

The guards, in fact, seemed to be directing each conversation. I just heard one say, ‘And now, brothers, Northwatch in ruin, where next? Where to destroy, by the will of the Warchief?’

‘Northwatch again,’ said the woman on his right, ‘when the Alliance fleet-’

‘Who we will crush beneath our heel!’

I note he is still doing that. No-one seems to be directly contradicting anything he says, but he’s taking no chances. He’s holding the discussion to a particular course, and the drinkers around him have already surrendered to this, only two or three rounds in.

By rounds four or five they were almost drawn up in it. They used words he would approve of, and there was anger behind them, and if that anger had once been aimed at the guard himself, now it seemed redirected down his sights.

He had not even been subtle in his manipulation, but did he need to be? Orcs are part honourable and part warlike. Some of the drinkers must have agreed with the Horde’s actions already. Those that did not were reminded, every time they were interrupted and corrected, of the futility of their complaint, of their helplessness. But they could express anger and pride if they showed it in the right way, so perhaps that was why they had opted to do so.

I say perhaps because I have never got to grips with this phenomenon. It happened to us after the Wrathgate. Not immediately after, when the Kor’kron came in. The reaction to that was more organic. Some people were angry, some shamefaced, some continued on as they always had done, lost in their still-dead bodies.

No, it happened after the Lich King was dead. There came this surge of monarchism. I am still confused about it. Maybe I missed some important trigger while I was out in Tarren Mill, where there is a tempering orc presence as well, and not all Kor’kron either.

But the results were like this: statues went up to Sylvanas, and suddenly everyone was talking about her. Apparently she had been out in the field with the soldiers, talking to them and taking an interest.

I never saw this, and I never met anyone who had actually seen her themselves. It was always something a friend’s friend had witnessed. No-one seemed to mind. They were all so eager to help her. Sylvanas seemed almost sacred. They were willing to die for her.

That is part of why I went all the way out to Feralas when I wanted to be away from Lydon, instead of returning to the Undercity or Brill. It is also part of why I am not going back to Lordaeron now. I don’t want the queen in my head.

I don’t want the warchief there either. From the inn I have gone out into the market place, which is busy as always, but with an unusual tension hanging over it that made me jittery right down to my bones to be near. I perceived that people were watching each other, more intently even than the goblin bankers watch their customers. There were grins, and greetings that all seemed to mention Theramore, and constant watchfulness.

I retreated to the Cleft of Shadow. I know I said I wanted to investigate this but it makes me sick with unease. Unease makes me think violently, which I think it may do for a lot of the people here. Is it wrong that I am trying to criticise something that I am a part of? Am I a hypocrite? I don’t even know what I hope to achieve. No-one will listen to me. I am a mouldering corpse. My opinion means nothing. The Horde will cut itself to sh

Next

17.11.12

Armour worth a thousand words

After the trope-ridden, lore-punting, grossly unsatisfying end of Cataclysm, Warcraft’s writers had a lot to prove in Mists, and they hurled themselves into it with the Jade Forest as the opening zone of the expansion.

I know there are concerns about what can be seen as a simplistic depiction of the Pandaren culture in this zone, but I’d like to set those aside in favour of a moment to bask in the successes of the writing.

The Forest is immersive. NPCs with strong personalities, histories and motivations are deployed from the moment you set foot on your respective faction ship; the opening quests are fast-paced and brutal, with heavy kill counts from the start; and your character is at long last treated to an external viewpoint in Lorewalker Cho.

That’s all impressive enough, but there’s an absolute killer of a storytelling technique used in the Jade Forest, tied seamlessly into the usual trends of levelling up, and that’s visual referencing.

Watch your character as you level. Specifically, watch your armour. Consider the way you’re given iLevel 372 armour in the first wave of quests, only to be presented with 384 kit not two quest chains later. It’s almost as though that first set is merely intended to establish your character’s aesthetic at the start of the expansion, rather than providing a long-lasting stat base to use while you quest.

Let me elaborate.

10.11.12

Musing on free experience

So, I recently levelled Nyxrinne to ninety, and I've had a while to consider the levelling process as a whole. There are a few things I want to talk about, but I think the biggest one for monks has to be the major experience buff we pick up through class quests.

Enlightenment

For new or non-monks, here's how it works: at level twenty you gain a skill called Zen Pilgrimage, which teleports you from your present location to the Peak of Serenity. Here you pick up a class quest from the head monk, which involves defeating one of the masters down in the training grounds. You gain gear as a reward... and also the Enlightenment buff. For an hour, you gain +50% experience.

Once this first quest is complete, you also unlock a daily quest variation. You defeat a master, you gain an hour of the buff. Every tenth level after twenty, you gain another class quest bringing you back to the Peak of Serenity, for further loot and another hour.

There are a few things to take note of.

8.11.12

Why I should never have control of a camera

I wanted to add an image to this post because screenshots are shiny and I am forever in love with Nyxrinne's athletic springing about. I figured I would catch her mid-roll.

Now I have a new and improved gallery of... well.


The technical term for this is 'boing'.

There are more.

7.11.12

Through Durotar

Previous chapter

The troll decided to travel with me to Durotar, or fate decided it for us. We met on the path that evening, and after some strides in sync we acknowledged each other, and that was that.

Awende, she introduced herself as. She had ‘some magic’, she said, but refused to specify. I had ‘some medical knowledge’, I told her, and left it at that. There was some conversation, the usual kind, about destination and occupation, but it was precursory and we knew it.

‘Do you know them,’ I asked, ‘the tauren back there?’

The bull, yes, the cow, no. She and the bull had fought in the siege together. He was strong, but wilful.

‘Judgemental,’ I said. ‘He blames every Forsaken for the work of the Royal Apothecary Society. We aren’t one and the same.’

She answered with silence.

‘The Society,’ I told her, ‘had a cure in mind when they were formed. They didn’t have all these subdivisions. They were working for the reincarnation of us all, inarguably. Some still are, of course! But that’s not what they’re known for anymore, is it.’

The troll, like most trolls, was sharp. Unlike most trolls, she wasn’t obstinate, set on feigning ignorance. She spoke.

‘The Horde took my people in, and taught our men to take note of our women. For that there had been no hope before. In our tribes there was danger all the time, always hardship: my mother and her sisters had too much to do to demand anything more. The Horde fixed that. I am a soldier today by the goodness of the Horde. I am turned murderer today by the will of that Horde!’

We fell silent and let the tread of our feet replace her words with steadiness.

‘That Horde only in name, perhaps,’ I said in time.

‘No,’ she said, ‘the same people, the same places, the same Horde. You cannot say Garrosh alone makes everything– like this. We are the same, but infected with a wickedness.’

I think infected is an interesting word. Firstly it suggests something external coming in. An infection isn’t an intended part of us, it breaks through our defences somehow, when we’re cut or when we eat, or it just goes ahead and perseveres through all the mucus and immunities our bodies set up to repel it.

But secondly an infection is still something that gets worse inside of us. It brews in there and builds up, using our strengths against us. A bad cold is nothing while it’s still in the air, floating about doing nothing. It has to encounter someone, and get inside them, to become sickness and to start generating all these symptoms.

Thirdly a truly bad infection, like an epidemic, will affect not only health but behaviour. People flee to the country and abandon one another, even fight to keep other people far away for fear of being infected too. Others will suddenly find heroism and risk themselves to help the sick. And the sick themselves, if the sickness is fatal, can turn despondent, or desperate, or violent.

What I’m saying is this: her analogy seems to work, and suggests that something entered the Horde, maybe through a wound, maybe because we welcomed it in through our everyday hunger, maybe because it was tenacious.

Once inside the Horde it grew, festering within people, feeding on our energies, perhaps our anger, because that’s an easy one to exploit, or our fear, because that is too. It turned our strengths into negative things, maybe putrefying the merits of our diversity by making racial differences into barriers instead of opportunity, or something like that. Perhaps turning our war machine into something inward and problematic?

In fact, yes, because Theramore was the work of the war machine and it prompted this entire discussion. This discussion which is, like the party at the Crossroads, the reaction of the people who suffer or are near to those who suffer the infection. It’s prompted a wide range of behaviours.

But I have issue with using this analogy even if it seems neatly descriptive, because of the very first point, that it has to come in from outside. Placing the blame for our own actions on something inflicted on us is something I hear a lot amongst the apothecaries. Crimes committed against us become reasons for cruelty or poor logic. An infection becomes not a contributing but a deciding factor, as though we are all caught up in this tide toward evil and not one of us can be expected to swim against it.

Even Lydon, who taught me to be self-evaluative, and to keep working for a cure, even as we were pushed more and more to weaponize this and weaponize that, was like this. He would say that we should stomach the work in poisons and plagues so as to keep the resources flowing that we could then use on better research. Then I would witness him torturing individuals with a kind of animal ferocity and joy that I would never see in him at any other time, and he would explain this as his undead state getting the better of him.

I do not think something ‘getting the better of us’ is anything other than an excuse, and I think the same of this supposed ‘infection’ of an otherwise good and forward-thinking Horde. I think Garrosh’s policy is carried aloft by the masses of people who want more war and more land and more butchery, and that Thrall himself appointed Hellscream out of some deep desire for revenge that he could not acknowledge and so could not question or halt.

I don’t think I believe in good people and bad people anymore. I think vengeance and violence and prevarication are ingrained in all of us, even those who have slithered onto the pedestals of heroism, and that should be accepted as fact: it is the condition of all sapient species to have all these destructive traits. To do anything else is to try to formulate cures based on false evidence.

Personally, the thought of Theramore makes me sick, because of the scale and the brutality of the destruction, and because it stirs a little glee in me. I am glad to be on the winning side.

I will not mention this to Awende, I think she is happier with her excuse, and I think she might be happier still to put a spear through me, because my species is such an icon for this behaviour she hates so much.

Next chapter