Mists of Pandaria: Much Love (and Some Tears)

The day that many of us were waiting for finally arrived not too long ago — Mists of Pandaria was released with a relatively pain-free launch, something that’s rather new for Blizzard. It was rather nice to not have to deal with a throng of angry posts on dear_gnome asking about why we can’t log in (you know, the question that, after nearly ten years, you would think people would tire of asking after an expansion launch or major content patch).

This expansion introduced the Pandaren as a playable race, brought Chen Stormstout back into the picture, gave us access to the new Monk class, and even opened up a new continent for the 85-90 run.  Pet Battles have given us yet another distraction — in-game Pokémon! — along with farms to tend and more fishing to do than ever before.

It has also introduced a few moments of misty eyes for this lady, I tell you what.

First off, as a wee Pandaren wandering the aptly-named Wandering Isle (which is a giant turtle named Shen-zin Su), I found myself sniffling during the chat with the massive creature whose very life the Panda-people rely upon.  Damn it, Mat, you are not supposed to want to cry over a virtual turtle, no matter how cool he is.

Okay, fine, with the sniffles aside I continued the zone to completion and then the decision on whether to go Horde or Alliance snuck up on me.  Naturally I went Horde, because this is all on Thorium Brotherhood (I haven’t even bothered with Wyrmrest Accord) and I’m slowly re-building the mass of 85s I had there.  I thought, “Oh wow, this’ gonna be cool — but how exactly are they going to work this bit?  Teleportation?  SUDDENLY!HORDE?”

Nope, the cinematic showed my character flying off in a balloon in yet another tear-jerking farewell to that massive turtle — oh cripes I’m doing it again — and it faded to black, then caught back up to my character standing in front of Orgrimmar.  The Pandaren introduction to the Horde really demonstrates the rather dangerous atmosphere that this faction has at the moment, but Garrosh’s dickheadedness will be covered in another post. ;)

I haven’t had the time to delve too deeply into Pandaria itself.  My warrior is still in The Jade Forest, as is my rogue, but I’m enjoying the quests when I do get a chance to prod at them.  Pandaria is fun, it’s gorgeous, and I look forward to playing there when I get a chance.  I haven’t played Guild Wars 2 in a few weeks (then again, it’ll wait because it’s not subscription-based).  I’m looking forward to progressing in the story and eventually doing the whole thing on my Alliance paladin, too, if I manage to keep him on that faction.

Also?  I really, really like the Pandaren.

Pandaren are essentially fuzzy, balanced Dwarves.  They love good food, good brew, and helping others; they are just generally good people and are such a refreshing change from how things generally are in World of Warcraft.  The women use a body type that is similar to mine and I am quite happy to play that.  Their emotes are adorable… and I already have a handful of the little fuzzballs: my 85 rogue, a hunter, and a mage.

Krensythe Manashaper is now Lin-Si Wyrmclaw, purveyor of magical artifacts and knowledge. Sssssh.

I will be rolling a Pandaren Shaman eventually.  :P

Don’t get me started on Pet Battles.  That may wind up being a post of its own.

In summary, though:  so far, so good.  Mists of Pandaria is shaping up to be a decent expansion, better than what I was expecting, and I’m quite happy to have the chance to prod at it.

Born on Thorium Brotherhood, Refuse to Die There

I am the Warcaller of the Harbingers of War.

That is to say, Matojo is the Warcaller of the Harbingers of War and I am the person that people look to to make decisions about the guild and its future.

HoW is the thing that brings me back to WoW over and over again. The people in that guild have helped keep me relatively sane over the past five years, and I guess it was inevitable that I’d wind up as the figurehead, so to speak, of the guild – if all those people disappeared entirely from my world I don’t know what I would do, it makes sense that I’m also now in a position where people think I’m in charge.

The guild is a strange beast in that the Warcaller isn’t, on an OOC level, actually the boss. Yeah, they make the final decisions on things and their word is the word of God, so to speak, but the entire guild is the sort of environment where everybody listens to one another and we’re all huge perverts. I’m not treated like a boss, I’m treated like a friend, and that’s pretty cool. It also helps that we haven’t had drama since we had to kick somebody out for being a terrible stalker and not understanding the IC/OOC divide, so none of us have really had to put on our Office Faces.

So, when members speak up on how Thorium Brotherhood no longer feels like a roleplay server, and that being on Wyrmrest Accord has really made them miss their TB characters – I’m listening, because I feel the same way.

Up until last year, I believed that the only reason people couldn’t find roleplay on Thorium Brotherhood and other old roleplay servers was because they weren’t looking hard enough, or they had developed such a horrible reputation that nobody wanted to roleplay with them. In some cases, this is still true – but there are, I realize, situations where the roleplay has gone so far underground that the environment is no longer a good one for public roleplay.

Things on TB were great until Cataclysm burn-out took place, and then a lot of people wandered off – even myself. I’m still toying with some free-to-play games, SW:TOR (though it doesn’t play nice with my system), and poking at WoW when the feeling hits me.

There does come a point in a server’s life where roleplayers are pushed out by those who do not understand the server classification system, by those who grief whatever roleplay they find (thinking it to be a terrible, terrible crime), and similar issues. It starts small, when people give up on reporting anti-RP behaviour because Blizzard’s reliance on communities to police themselves and report until their fingers hurt is not particularly effective. Then, gradually, that behaviour pushes people underground until they’re afraid to roleplay out in the open (because the griefing is that painful) or, in this expansion’s case, the roleplay trails off as people become tired of the game. When people were trying to tell us that the server was dead oh, at the launch of Cataclysm, they were incorrect. If someone told me that roleplay was, for the most part, dead now I would have to agree.

Bringing roleplay out into the open and cultivating an environment that’s friendly to roleplay and supportive of those that choose to engage in it is a lot of work. It requires patience, it requires time, it requires resources – things that most of us, right now, don’t have. If someone took it upon themselves, right now, to say, “I’m going to do my best to help cultivate a positive environment for roleplay on Thorium Brotherhood,” I would support them. I would be more supportive of someone new doing it because, chances are, they would not deny me the chance to offer said support – but if someone current was doing it I’d support them, too, if they’d let me. ;)

Right now, most of us just do not have the time, energy, spoons or fucks to give to do this. I spent several years attempting to contribute, even if I wasn’t in a very good mental place to contribute much, and I am not in a place where I can do it anymore.

I am not going to tell people not to roll on Thorium Brotherhood. There are still some good people there, and the server will gain new people as time goes on that are also decent. If you roll there for roleplay, be prepared to put a lot of work into the community and be prepared to do a lot of reporting and a lot of fighting for your space.

We do not have the energy to do that fighting anymore.

There’s the hope that Mists of Pandaria will bring some life back as roleplayers that left for other games will return to see the new content, but a lot of us aren’t holding our breath. I’m hoping. MoP is going to change a lot of stuff, after all!

It may not be enough.

I am looking for a new home for the Harbingers of War in the hopes that we can continue our stories in a more roleplay-friendly environment. This week, I will start poking at servers that have been recommended to me by dear_gnome on Livejournal, testing the waters and  getting information that I can then pass on to my harbies. I’m also working on amassing a small fortune so that any Harbingers that decide to re-roll instead of transferring will have some gold and bags waiting for them in the freshly-transferred guild.

With any luck, if we decide to move, we’ll be continuing our adventures and going back to doing what we do best – yelling drunkenly at passers-by.

WtmN: Mama Bear Teaches In-Character Consequences

[ This is one post in a series of several where I talk about old and not-so-old drama. Why “Mama Bear”? Apparently I am one. Who knows. This post will be long and contains screenshots. The subject of this post is denoted in various shades of green, and names are blocked out where I deem it appropriate. If you’re in this post and you want your name blocked out, please e-mail me and I’ll do just that! Some screenshots have been trimmed, others contain bits that are duplicate – sorry!

I do not speak to, engage with or otherwise give the time of day to the bad RPer highlighted here and I do not intend to any time soon. ]

Once upon a time, there was a young Orc Rogue who had a very distinct idea of personal honour and Things One Does Not Do. She decided to attend a tavern one night, and lo!, she discovered activity that she Did Not Like: a Sin’dorei ranger was tossing flares at a Goblin rogue, for reasons she did not see, hear or understand, and she called the man out on his juvenile behaviour.

With a laugh, the man decided to challenge her to combat, and he walked away. The Orc, vexed and insulted, also left – fully intending to come back and answer that challenge when she was strong enough to do so. She put up flyers all over the capital cities and asked around until, one day, she happened upon an old Orc sneak who agreed – after some finagling and word play – to train her. It was tough work! Far tougher than any training she had ever gone through before – but she progressed and became quite good at what she wanted to do, and reached a point where she would be able to safely meet the Elf in a one-on-one fight. Even if she didn’t win, she’d at least feel like she had given it her all – and that was what mattered.

It certainly sounds like an interesting story, doesn’t it? A young woman is shoved into a situation where she must better herself, and she does! The next step in the story should be that the woman faces her “tormentor” and answers the challenge that was given, with a loss resulting in further character development… or a win causing her to walk away, triumphant and content that her hard work was worthwhile.

It is not that simple, though.

First, let’s drop the storytime trappings. Yes, in-character, Thomi the Orc Rogue called out a Blood Elf Hunter on his shenanigans and he challenged her to a fight, then walked away, giving her time to bugger off and do her own thing. Was he serious? She had no idea, but, being an Orc, it did not matter because Orcs take such things very seriously. A challenge to combat is a challenge to her honour, and turning down such a challenge would be very bad for an Orc!

The Hunter himself was known, OOCly, for being the type to pick on low-level characters. He would not accept duels with at-level characters (after all, he would probably lose) and tended to respond to such things with typical Elven snobbery IC. This is all well and good, but leads to the start of the actual Drama Portion of this tale.

Not long after the duel was declared, I decided that I would not be leveling this character from six to 85 – I had an unused level 81 rogue that I could race-change into Thomi the Orc Rogue and be within the Ranger’s range far quicker. I did just that, with the intent of roleplaying the training period as if the character was going from a typical inexperienced whelp to a somewhat decent rogue. It was a tad sneaky of me, I admit, but I felt it fair – it gave me the opportunity for some interesting roleplay and it would make the Ranger have to deal with a character of similar strength to his own.

This, however, was not to be.

When the Ranger realized that Thomi was no longer well below him in levels, I received the following series of whispers as I was leveling on Mount Hyjal:

I was not going to back down out of character, and I was not going to allow him to back down that way, either – I was determined that this would be handled in-character and in no other manner.

Hindsight is 20/20.

As soon as the conversation ended, I added the character to my friends list and found…

… that, as I had thought, he was in the same zone as I was.

The Ranger was known for hunting characters down and forcing in-character interaction. I knew this. I had seen it. So, I high-tailed it to the underwater Hell and continued leveling there. He did not follow me that time and I knew it would not be the last time I’d hear from him.

Some time later, at level 84, I asked in the shared OOC channel if he was planning to attend the tavern that week. The following conversation ensued:

I was vaguely amused, but did not intend to drop it. The following tavern night, I parked my rogue at the tavern well before it opened and logged on again when the crowd had filled in. This was Thomi’s chance to prove herself! Regardless of the outcome, it would prove to be interesting.

She went out and attempted to engage with the Ranger:

Nothing – at least, not directly to Thomi or to myself.

Not even a “fuck you”. Before Thomi left, she declared the Ranger a coward to the crowd at the tavern, and vowed that she would not trust one of his kind ever again – not that she trusted elves beforehand, anyway.

For many months after this, Ranger’s player made a good show of being fairly bitey at me on several public and private occasions. I cannot say it wasn’t deserved – I did, after all, post the original incarnation of this post with the screenshots that I had here, and my characters did not bow down and worship Ranger’s character like they should have! It was a terrible crime.

I went through several personal things during this time that are still ongoing, all relating to my mental health, my family, etc., so I may have been meaner than I needed to be. In general, I reacted to what was said, and my characters continued to be themselves – contrary to the belief of many people in the community.

Hey, just because I’m not fond of someone doesn’t mean my characters are all suddenly going to dislike them – but when that character is repeatedly a dick, they will react accordingly.

Fast-forward a bit. At some point, Thomi referred to the Ranger as a coward at the tavern, and one of his friends approached her. The friend’s conversation with Thomi is logged below:

It seemed that there would be some manner of progress! This was something I did not expect.

A week or two later, Thomi showed up to the tavern to follow up – and, lo and behold, the friend of the Ranger got his attention and the little group walked away from the tavern to do what needed to be done – duel! Below is the lead-up conversation and what happened immediately after:

I decided to thank the participants in the OOC channel after:

Oh. Right, then. Fair enough!

That marked the end of that particular Drama – but not the issues with Ranger’s player.

The lesson I had hoped that they would take away was this: if your character does something, expect the consequences to happen in roleplay, not out of character.

I am a firm believer in the idea of in-character actions leading to in-character consequences. I realize that some OOC communication is required in many aspects of roleplay, however, the majority of the dealing should occur in-character except in circumstances where the in-character situation causes the player(s) involved a great deal of mental and emotional trauma.

I did not see that in this situation. I saw a player throwing a tantrum because they were not getting what they wanted, which was for their character to look like a complete bad-ass. I do not operate that way.

The player still thinks I am the equivalent to the devil, or something, and has their friends convinced that I am the biggest bully ever, but I fully expect that sort of thing. Shit happens and nothing of value was lost – I mean, this is the player that guilt-tripped the hell out of a friend of mine and has pulled a lot of utter crap before, so I was not entirely surprised when this storm blew up.

As far as Thomi is concerned, however, the entire thing is over and she does not have to deal with the Ranger ever again.