Sailing Around The Interwebs - A Guest Blog by Torr

Hello people of Blogland. This is Tzia's husband guest blogging for the first (and maybe only) time. You can call me Torr, which is what I go by in WoW. Tzia has been bugging me to guest blog here for at least two years, and I haven't taken the bait until now. I'm not much of a writer and I feel I usually don't have much to say. However, I recently wrote something of Great Wall of Text as a forum post on another game's forums and decided that it was too much to contain to just one location on the internets.

To clarify, this post is not about WoW, nor about me, but rather it is a side-by-side comparison of two games that I have experienced and which some of you may or may not know about. Both of these games are set in the glorious Age of Sail/Discovery period of history. Both have pirates, treasure, sailing, and adventure. These games are Pirates of the Burning Sea which is set in the Carribean of the early 1700s, and Uncharted Waters Online which is an anachronus game set in the entire world. Disregarding that one of them is pay-to-play and the other is free-to-play I have done my best to compare them from my perspective. Here goes.

As an early Pirates of the Burning Sea fanboi and an avid fan of the Uncharted Waters series since back in the day on the Super Nintendo, I would like to offer a bit of a side-by side comparison of these two games. Perhaps this may prove insightful for anyone considering ther merits or flaws of each game. I should start off by mentioning that I've now played both PotBS and UWO in beta and also that my playstyle tends to focus on exploration and trade more than combat.

Lets start with the fluff; graphics and sound.

PotBS has by far the better graphics. The open sea is simply put, amazing and has the power to draw you in to feeling like you are actually sailing. The ships are also rendered beautifully with a level of detail that astounds me at every zoom level. The sound effects are also pleasing to the ear. There's nothing quite as satisfying as hearing the boom of all three decks firing full broadsides at once. The soundtrack is good enough that it stands on its own. To this day I carry around the soundtrack to this game and play it from time to time in my car at work (I drive for a living). Every time I hear it, it makes me want to come back to PotBS and sail the open seas again.

In UWO the graphics are somewhat cartoony, and definitely have the anime style to them. This is to be expected considering the game was origionally made for Asian markets (and in fact has been available in Asia for the last 5 years). Although the cities have a better layout than in PotBS, the level of detail on each buliding can be somewhat lacking. The open sea in UWO is a bit better than the cities, if for no other reason except that you do not have to look at the cartoony avatars. The ships are somewhat simple, but there is still a wide variety of shapes and sizes to look at. The sound effects are one of the more dissapointing features of the game. The music feels true to the age of sail, and changes with each region you travel to (i.e. adding in African drums as you travel down the coast of Africa), but is still lacking the high quality I was accustomed to in PoTBS.

On to the meat; combat, economy, UI, and social tools

First, the fighting.

In PoTBS combat is king. In particular, ship combat is one of the best systems I have experienced in any game I have played. Its smooth, intuitive, and satisfying. Avatar combat has always lagged behind ship combat, but is none-the-less a dynamic system with no more (or less) button-mashing than your standard MMO.

In UWO, combat gets the lowest score in my books. Ship combat consists of double-clicking your enemy to death while moving your ship, and land combat is even less involved. Both systems are incredibly simple bordering on mind-numbingly boring.

Now we move to the money making.

The economy of PotBS had great potential, which seemed to never be fully realized. As a Freetrader I found my class to have very little economic advanatge over other classes. Also, with the increased use of Society based construction lines, the experience of a solo economic player has much to be desired. In theory though, I think the fully player-based economy has a lot of merit, if there are enough people on a given server to make it work.

In UWO, the economy is perhaps the crowning achievement. The system allows for solo players to trade at will, without the need for other players input, but simultaneously allows for every player in the game to have an impact. For example, when I buy a ton of wheat in Seville, the price for wheat goes up. With an incredibly wide range of goods available, and the whole world to spread them out in, the potential for a Trader type player is almost limitless.

Next, the User Interface.

The UI in PotBS is designed simply enough for a newbie, while retaining the flexability needed for more experienced players. There are a good deal of options available for buttons, bars, and other UI elements. Although nothing can compare with the open-modability of WoW, PoTBS does a better job than most in allowing for customization.

The UI in UWO seems to be designed to eliminate clutter on your screen. Almost everything is contained in a system of menus and sub-menus with only the basic information displayed on the screen at one time. This is a double-edge sword. While clearing space on your screen, it also has the effect of making some information rather cumbersome to access, especially for new players.

Finally, the Social aspect. Afterall, you play and MMO to play with other people, right?

In PotBS, the social tools are adequate, but still feel a bit limited. The Society system does the basic jobs of any Guild/Clan system in allowing groups of players to keep in contact via private chat channel and Society-wide mailing, but not much more. The chat channels are designed well enough to allow for greater communication amongst players, but still lack in some of the more nifty features found in games like WoW (item linking anyone?). The grouping system is not difficult to use and there seem to be numerous incentives for doing so (not the least of which is PvP).

UWO's socal tools have much more to be desired. The Company system also serves the basic functions of a Guild/Clan system with a private chat channel, and even has the added bonus of shared storage and a Company Store to sell goods to other players from. However, it is limited to 50 characters per Company, which is rather low for many people. There is, as of beta, only one global chat channel, which makes it difficult to have meaningful conversations anywhere (think Trade chat in WoW). In addition, the Tell/Whisper system is quite cumbersome and not very intuitive to use. Grouping with other players is also rather annoying, as you need to be physicly next to each other to form a group (since it requires clicking on the other character). Adding friends to your friends list also requires clicking and thus proximity, which is perhaps the greatest flaw in the social systems.

In conclusion, each game has its own strengths and weaknesses, and Im sure I haven't covered them all. As a predominantly economic player I am more inclined to chose UWO over PotBS, but I can clearly see how more combat oriented players would chose the opposite. In any case, these are just two of many, many MMOs out there which I thought it might be prudent to compare for those who may be considering either or both in the future.

More information can be found at:
The Official PotBS Website
The Official UWO Website

P.S. Tzia says she's sorry she hasn't blogged in a while. I'll be sure to bug her more about it now. :)


Kora's Story : Taming Black and Gold

It was in the midst of the Feast of Winterveil, and the blood elf huntress stood, hand steady on the hilt of a worn blade, the best she could afford. Her green eyes watered in the icy cold, blinking away wind stung tears as she watched the grass waver and move across the Barrens.

There! She squinted, and the shape of the leopard she had been tracking resolved out from the wind torn shadows of grass and branch. It yawned, topaz eyes blinking briefly. Her breath slipped soundlessly from her mouth, even as her fingers clamped down on the blade, then went soft as the ears flicked towards the sound. She glanced again at her feet. The trap was set. She rose from an easy crouch and her eyes locked with the topaz ones of the beast.

The leopard roared and leapt, fangs bared and claws unsheathed. Kora flung herself backwards, hoping the trap would hold long enough for her to convince the golden furred feline that she was not attempting to kill it, but befriend it. The cat yowled its displeasure, and a bladed paw raked through her shoulder in a lucky strike. Blood sprayed across the frozen ground, and the cat hissed and raged. Her hand briefly touched her shoulder, coming away bloody and then she held it out to the feline, ignoring the gout that ran from her shoulder.

A chant older than herself and the race she came from flowed up and out, wrapping a chain of the spirit around both the huntress and the cat, both who stared into the other's eyes, both needing something that only the other could give. Time slowed, and the wind fell silent.

The trap shattered and Kora's voice faultered, breaking the enthrallment. The cat leapt for her, she dropped the blade and threw up a hand. The crack of a totem hitting ground dazed both huntress and cat as a large wolf threw itself between the two. Kora made a wordless sound of protest as the cat skidded to a stop, fur rising along its back and the growl that issued from the wolf froze Kora in her tracks.

She recognized the pendant that hung around the beast's neck and realized abruptly that the wolf was not a wolf, but a shaman. Lupine lips curled back and fangs bared as the shaman looked between the hunter and the great cat that hissed and spat. A voice flickered through her mind, and she tipped her head up, then down, an aproximation of a nod. She didn't take her eyes from the gold fur. A small part of her will was keeping the feline still.

Her trap dropped at her feet, and she settled into the easy half-crouch, took a breath and the chant rose again as the shaman stepped aside. The cat leapt, and the trap held. As her eyes blurred she heard the shaman snarl, but her soul was locked to the chant her mind twined with that of the cat, she could not look away. When a heavy hand landed on her shoulder she blinked, dazed and trembling. Her eyes jerked up with a flinch, and realized that the shaman had taken his natural form, and a large tauren stood over her, holding her blade out. Then the feline nudged her hip and she realized just how cold she really was as she stumbled. But it was done.

"Thank you, Chieftain. I could not have-"

"We are a clan. You only had to ask."

-Bloodriver Rocks because help is always there-


Dragon Trifecta

Bloodriver took on three dragons last night. Sartharion was the first on our list. We ran it with all three drakes down, that was our "warm up" for the night. I didn't get hit once by lava. It was just a mild... well, we did it. Good... next! feeling.

Second on the list was our arch rival - Malygos. Our guild has not seen him downed as a whole in EoE 10 yet. The last time we tried had been an unmitigated disaster. This round we kept getting closer and closer, and closer. I died at least twice... figured out I could fire while being whipped around in Vortex as Surv... and took aggro away from Vela. That meant that Maly was trying to kill me as soon as I hit the ground. I splattered. I watch them wipe on drakes, get back up, try again.... splatter on first vortex (yep, same mistake) they wipe in Phase 2 this time, let's try that again.... Get to drakes, everyone is alive.... Maly noms me on Drake, I die. Healer dies, the rest of the group soon follows.

Let's try this yet again. Managed to get him to 13% before he enrages. Last try. Phase one flies by, phase 2 soars by, we hit phase 3 and the drakes and manage to say in a semi-cohesive group so the healers keep us healed and we pew pew at Malygos. We've got a minute to go before the enrage timer flashes up. He never got there, we watch Malygos DROP OUT OF THE SKY.

In between me dying on Malygos Torr ran to the store, got me a cappuccino, and came back. He was sitting next to me when the only thing that came out of my mouth was a happy "YES!" My guildmates errupted into cheers when he fell. My only wish, as we all celebrated, was that a certain person could have been there with us to see it. Maybe he was though, and maybe that's why we finally brought down the bane of our existence. Here's to you Solarion. We got the bastard, as you would have said. We got him.

Last dragon of the night was another of the Black Flight. We took on Deathwing's Daughter, Onyxia. Myst and Lin were able to run with us for both Sarth and EoE, but couldn't handle the whelps and the pure spell spectacle that was Onyxia + whelps, and DC'd to the point that they bowed out. We brought in a few to replace them, because the guild wanted its trifecta.

Onyxia nommed on trolls for a while. Troll Flambe is pretty popular amongst the black flight apparently. Either we were getting Belf Sautee with Mushrooms, or the tailswipe was trying to feed somebody to whelps, or somebody else wasn't getting out of Mommy's way when she was flying across the sky. Basically, Ony was being a pain in the neck. Most of the raid had been standing there through all three dragons. We all vowed to drop her and add her head to the Hall.

After scraping ourselves off the floor for the third time... we come back in, nobody dies, manage to kill the last Lair Guardian and bring Onyxia to bay. We dps her down, getting closer and closer and closer... then Vela chirps over vent, "She's down!" Niqo and I both respond with "NOT YET." She wasn't a corpse on the floor at that point.

I guess Niqo and I had both seen too many fails after somebody had spouted the above phrase. She did die though, and we all danced on her corpse and took pics. The Dragon Trifecta is Dead... in one night.

Sartharion - Dead
Malygos - DEAD!
Onyxia - Dead


Leveling does not = End Game

Okay, let me give some background before I launch into a rant post. I've got a new hunter, over on Argent Dawn, Alliance side. I'm part of the blogger/reader/come annoy us guild that is Single Abstract Noun (SAN). I'm leveling BM again, I want to keep my cat with me and not be forced over to a Tenacity pet.

Anyways, I was running Black fathom Depths last night on my 21 SAN Hunter. I was carrying the Impaling Harpoon, and Reef Axe dropped. I spotted + 8 AP and +10 Stam over the older weapon. So, I rolled need.

As soon as the axe lands in my bags this rogue, who was heirloomed out to the gills and had a reportably gender offensive name (which was reported), suddenly piped up about the axe. My jaw dropped and my fingers flew.

Rogue: "You shouldn't use that your pole arm's better, besides 1 Agi = 2 AP. And Agi is better!"
Me: "1 Agi = 1 AP, not 2. That hasn't been the case since at least Wrath." (found out later that was actually around BC).
Rogue : "Nuh uh. I got an 80 Hunter in Full T10. 1 Agi = 2 AP and the Crit's better!"
Druid : "1 Agi = 2 AP. It does!"
Me : " Also have an 80 Hunter. Sorry, its 1 for 1 when it comes to Agi to AP. Been that way for a long time. Sides 10 Stam + 8 AP as a BM works better for me leveling."
Rogue : "AP iz bad. Agi ALWAYS better."
Me : "Let me guess, Suv Hunter?"
Rogue : "Yah"
Me : "Agi is not as important to the other two specs."
Rogue :"Nuh uh! I play a hunter I know!"

Needless to say, as soon as I read that, I knew it wasn't going to end well, so I dropped group, but it sparked a discussion in guild, where again the mis-info of 1 for 2 popped up. Apparently people missed that memo en mass? Or maybe I've been playing for so long I know to drop any info I learned last expac and relearn? Or maybe I was dealing with people that do not regularly play a hunter, and therefore their information is old.

But it opened up the realization that so many people, even some of my wonderful SAN guildmates get locked into the mindset of "If its best at 80 then THAT'S IT."

I know Agility gives Dodge, Crit and a bit of Armor. At 21, 12 Agi is about 1.6 % crit. But AP is straight damage increase. I get about .6% more damage and about 100 health from the axe. Leveling, the health will keep myself and the pet alive a bit longer if we get into deep trouble... and my being a hunter always garentees that fact. I will get into trouble.

I also know that the satchels will not help me when it comes to gearing. Especially not when, with some characters, outlands is looming and my Int pool will shrink like a puddle of water in the Gobi. If I want Int in that case, I'd have to take + spell power with it.

I mean, take how I've geared Koratria for leveling over Tzia at end game. Mind you they are also specc'd diffrently, but Kora is Agi/AP heavy. She will level quicker with strong shots, even if they don't crit as often because the damage is already artificially high.

I also know I'll be seeing a ton of "Of the Bandit" gear dropping come the time I step into Outlands. I'll have to pair with "Of the Elder" or get lucky and find an "Of the Falcon" piece just to keep in mana, and that's not going to change. Leveling, I'm not going to see the Agi/Stam/Int pieces unless I see the Instance Blues that were built to help a hunter gear towards Kara. Leveling means my gear requirements are diffrent from end game.

Wrath brought back Agi/Stam/Int pieces regularly in the reach of hunters and Enhance shaman. I think I can thank blizzard for making Enhancement Shaman want the exact same gear a hunter would want be the only reason for seeing actual good hunter gear drop again. Yeah, I'm not at all bitter about that. Usually I'm running with an Elemental Shaman so the gear, if better, will swing my way.

But until I hit Wrath content, leveling, I'm just not going to see the "best endgame gear stats". I know that and my needs shift as I go through content. Agility/Stam/Int will still be my primary focus, but if AP drops, and its damage gain outweighs the crit lost, I'll take it.

Leveling does not equal End Game. It never has, it never will. The more people that realize that, the better we'd all be. There's a whole game waiting before you get to 80. Let's actually play it.


We Slayed the Dragon

Onyxia 10 man... I hadn't done Onyxia since that time that Velinix and I went in and two manned her before she became buffed up. I believe I still have her head rotting in my bank... might want to clear that out on Tzia.

Anyways, after killing her I toss out a Youtube link to the group, since I found the song very appropriate.

Fragments of the Past

The floor was hard, sticky, and slick with offal beneath her as she pushed painfully into a sitting position. She had a dim memory of being held in a magical stranglehold by... something and then being dropped. There was an even dimmer memory, barely there of a battle against ghostflame blue eyes, bone drakes filling the air, and a mount... A mount.... a ... She shook her head, she couldn't remember.

Come to me. You are made anew.

She blinked and struggled to her booted feet, plate scraping across stone, the gauntlet scraping up some of the guck that was on the floor as she levered herself to standing. A set of stairs and a being stood above her, looking away. Something inside her strained to run towards that being and kneel at its - his - feet. Another sense awoke as she realized there were others of her kind already around him. No sense in looking like a groveling fool like rank and file.

Where did that thought come from?

Ryvia, good. Look, my forces assemble.

She started slightly, hearing a name.... her name. She got snippets of memory, weilding a sharp steel blade from the back of.... something. A shadowed face woman welcoming her home, white hair streaming as she rode through the gates of... some place. It was cloudy and hard to focus, especially when that voice whispered again.

Go now, below with your blades, lay waste to anything in your path. In my name slaughter them all.

The hilt fit smoothly between her gauntleted fingers, as she re sheathed the blade. A scratched out shape on her armor glimmered like a silver crescent moon for an instant and she flinched away, almost ripping off the gauntlet. She shook her head sharply and looked up as the voice of her commander reached her ears.

A gnome commander... a wry smile stretched her lips briefly. She waded through the blood and hacked off limbs, not slipping as she stalked through spilled entrails and the heady scent of blood and death. Her body remembered how to move. That was all that mattered now. She stepped into the building and froze.

A Night Elf female, no an Argent Dawn member, knelt sobbing before the gnome. Her mouth locked into a grimace of pain as her hands again drew her blade. If she could just get the woman to look up the killing strike would be swift and true. The gnome stepped away, the woman stood up, and Ryvia froze. She knew that face, remembered taking sweets from that hand, and the cool, blessed water of Elune on her pains.

"There... There's no more time for me. I'm done for. Finish me off, Ryvia. Do it or they'll kill us both." She snapped, and Ryvia remembered that voice both gentle and harsh, telling her when her own mother had died. She forced herself to blink away tears.

"Do it, Ryvia! Put me out of my misery!"

Her entire body went into the blow, the move fluid and controlled as the blade whistled dully, already saturated in blood and the bitter cold of an icy rune's power wrapped around the killing edges. Her throat closed up and she turned away gagging slightly, the elf's head landing with a sodden thud as the rest of her body slipped sideways to rest on the floor. Her blade hung limply in her hand, streaming crimson blood onto the floor in a bleak series of plips into a puddle forming at her feet.

She turned away, met the eyes of her commander as she stepped from the building and silently trudged toward where her mount waited. She paused before mounting and carefully wiped the blood on the tabard of a crusader that lay dead nearby. Her gorge rose sharply when her mount lifted its head and she realized it had been ... grazing... on remains.

The next set of orders were taken and followed dully as her mind shivered and shuddered under the blow of what she had done. It had to be done. She knew that. She knew Yazmina meant what she said.

She surfaced a bit when the bones of a drake lifted her skyward with at least a thousand others. She was numb still, unfeeling, but her eyes lit on the Scarlet City and her lips peeled back in a true snarl as she realized that 'Mina would not have been here of her own will... the Crusade had forced her here and deserved to die.

As the drakes bore down on the city she carefully guided the giant monster at the crusaders. She bared her teeth, watching blast after blast of icy flames eat at the walls and set light to the Crusade like the perfect tallow candles they were. She swung the flying monstrosity around for another pass when again, her commander's voice brought her up short and forced her back to base.

She grimaced as she changed the bone drake for her mount, again grimacing as she realized it was gorging itself on things better left unthought about. She slipped into the saddle and pulled its head up, forcing it away from the pile of limbs. She rode with the remaining Knights through a pass and out onto a blighted plain.

As the all rode down onto the Chapel, she swore to herself that she would pull her blows and try and avoid as much of the killing as she could. Some of those that stood ready to defend Light's Hope were of Mina's Order. That would grant them safe passage in her eyes. Any Crusade that stood to defend on the other hand....

The battle was a blur and then the great Tirion Fordring himself stood, crippling Darion with a sheild. She watched quietly, eyeing the bodies of the dead and grimacing every time she spotted an Argent tabard. She trembled when HIS voice rolled over her again. It was instinctive, flinching away from pure evil.

She felt her mouth drop open when Tirion pushed the Lich back. She knew she wasn't the only one, but closed her mouth before anyone else noticed... wouldn't do any good to stare about like rank and file always did. She was an officer after all, only a Sargent, but still...

* * *

The gates of Stormwind rose above them. The new blade settled comfortably on her back, even though she desperately wished for a clean set of clothing she knew it would have to wait. She had to present herself to the King of Stormwind first. As they all pounded across the canals she deadened her ears to the taunts and jeers of the guard. She had proved herself in ways these pups never would. She had lived three thousand years already, their lifespans were over in a a mere 80 years.

As she thundered by, she noticed a child's toy falling from a girl's hand as she squashed herself against a wall to stay out of the way of the thundering hooves of what they all rode. It dropped into the canal. If she remembered the canals like she thought she did... a ramp should be to the left.

Ryvia didn't think, she just kicked her mount over the railing and into the water, knowing the beast could swim. She snagged the doll before it could become too waterlogged and nudged the animal back towards the ramp, shivering slightly as the now cold wind bit at her clean armor. She dropped the doll into the hands of the girl and then, much cleaner, rode for the Keep.

The acceptance was wary, but she remembered the way the humans had reacted to elven help in the past, and just sighed, leaving the keep as swiftly as possible. It would take the people a bit longer to realize that the Ebon Blade was not evil like those control ed by the Lich. Yet, now she was a warrior for the Blade, instead of a Warrior for Elune.

That chapter, she realized, was ended. Now only the Blade stood before her. The Blade and the sorrow of killing an old friend.


Can Tank... Don't Want To

Note: This is a Spark Post off Thespius' over at World of Matticus for today.

I try and do my best when I do show up as a tank in LFG. I'm polite, keep an eye on my healer, and even double check if the pace I'm comfortable moving at is what the healer wants.

I've had enough -bad- groups as a dps on my hunter to not want to be a wench (pick another word) in groups where I'm the tank. Of course, I'm not confident as a PuG tank because I've had too many bad groups. I've gotten through groups and been told I was the worst tank they'd ever had, just because I'm too cautious or for some, too reckless. And those are in groups where nobody died... heck we may have gotten close to killing me a few times, but I didn't notice it. My focus is on keeping the mobs ON me. My pace does not change.

When I'm on the paladin, I step forward, lift the shield, and leave my life in the hands of the healer. If I drop first, I did my job. And I try my hardest to avoid too much too quickly, because I have a pretty good idea of what my personal limits are.

Some would say the only way I'm going to get over my hesitancy or recklessness is to run more PuGs. They might be right, but I can also understand why tank is the one thing so many groups wait for, burn out on a tank or healer and that's one fewer in the lists for everyone.

I've barely played my paladin in the last month. I've barely played because, to be honest, I don't feel like I'm good enough. I've got the gear to handle tanking thanks to my wonderful guild mates, but not the experience, at least not as much as say, Niqora or Kazi or even Myst. I'm not a primary tank. I occasionally want to tank, but I feel like I'm slowing everyone down as I fumble and slip, letting a mob past me, which bee-lines directly at the mage.

I guess I'm not confident anymore. I trust guild healers or guild-allied because they do know I'm not primarily a tank, I just have her in reserve. I used to enjoy tanking for the guild, because we needed her as a tank. Now, like I said, I feel like I'm sucking royally, and I don't want to screw up and get yelled at by a PuG, just because I made the wrong split second decision. My guild says I can tank... but I guess, I don't feel like I can.

Can tank.... I guess?


Rhok'delar, Longbow of the Ancient Keepers

Her fingers ached in the cold, making finding the trigger for the release of the crossbow stiff and slower than she should have been. The ache was a clean one though, without the taint of undeath and decay in the air. She was in Winterspring, and the moon glow over snow was less blinding than during the daylight, but still eye-watering. She was already tired, and jumping at shadows and sounds, even though she knew the land better than most hunters. She was exhausted. She'd covered Burning Steppes, Ungoro Crater and choked through swarms in Silithus, and all after assisting companions and bondmates in the hellish flames of the Core. And now she was walking through the mountain passes without so much as a mount to bide her company.

Tzia shook her head and stumbled in the snow, slipping to one knee and bowing her head for a moment. The wind whistled through the trees and unfamiliar familiar noises filtered out from the dark. If the task hadn't been set by Ancients, she would have quit long before now. Yet the cost, she'd not expected the cost to be as high. She was alone, truly and utterly alone, the way no hunter had been since before their tenth winter and the granting of a friend and companion in the guise of what others called a "pet".

Neither Ruka, nor Helki stood at her side. She had left all in the care of a stablemaster, and had walked alone into the unforgiving darkness. She was one that others had called a Beast Master, enjoying a deep bond with an animal companion that had chosen to work in tandem with her, forsaking its wild kin for a place beside her fires, food from her hands, and a willingness to protect in open combat all that the hunter held dear. Now, she stood without those bonds, safely confined in a trusted friend's stable as she alone faced down demons at the behest of Ancients from 10,000 years gone.

Pushing herself upright again, she took a breath and checked the action of the crossbow, resettling the bolt that had fallen to the snow when she stumbled. She bit her lip and looked up. The last of the demons was here, in Winterspring. One more and she could consider a rest.

She forced her mind back to thinking over the other three that had fallen to bolt and dagger by her hands, grimacing slightly as her left shoulder twinged. The black drake from behind had been a nasty suprise as she led the Burning Steppes Demon on a dance up and along a cliff edge. Though, she thought, with a muffled icy chuckle, dodging a Devilsaur in Ungoro, while avoiding the female demon's felhound had taken a bit of footwork too. Especially since a wrong step there would have brought a swarm of silithids boiling down on her head. The silithids made her think of the last she'd faced. She'd walked up to the gates of Ahn'Qiraj itself to track down that demon and had stumbled over scorpid aplenty. Now, thanks to a mage's skill with portals, she stood once more in the ice and snow, and the last demon she had to face waited ahead.

Movement caught her eye, she stilled, only a glance to the bolts hanging in a quiver at her side gave anything away as a tauren stalked through the snow. She almost lifted her hand to hail the fellow in greeting when the odd bit of bark strung round her neck flared and burned in a warning. That then, settled any doubt. The bark was a location beacon for the demons, gifted from the Ancients. It only reacted to the demons it was attuned to find, and this then, was the last.

Lifting the crossbow, her aim only faltered slightly as she released, the first bolt taking him in the shoulder instead of the heart. Her second struck true in the throat, and then she dropped the weapon, drawing daggers, slashing before leaping away to lead over snow crusted ground. The wicked slash of claws kept her agile and twisting away, hoping she remembered the bare stretch of ground, even in the dark.

Claws lashed out again and again, sometimes ringing off steel or tearing across her cloak as they tangled far too closely for her comfort, leaving thin black demon ichor in the snow along with bright claret splashes of her own blood. She danced and spun, dodged and struck, parried and ran; leading the demon on and on, dodging around bear, large cats and chimera. Then startling owls into flight as she thrashed and stumbled through the snow and brush, hoping that her last reserves would be enough. Finally, back to a cliff face, no where else to retreat she struck out, slashing and finally finding her mark. The last demon fell at her feet.

* * *

Later, standing weary before the Ancients again she felt a small sense of peace as a bow was pressed into her hands, formed from an ancient staff and the enchanted sinew of the black dragon's own daughter. The hunt for the demons was symbolized here, in an ever blooming branch that would serve as a reminder of just what strength she had, when everything else looked bleak, she'd found that she could depend on her own wits. That, was more valued than the token of respect, though she was grateful for the gift and bowed her head out of respect for the ancients that had sacrificed so much to keep the land whole. A small measure of peace had been won for them, and that was enough.


A Tabard

Tzia shifted slightly in the saddle, her mount snarling slightly as she picked up on her rider's unease. A comforting scratch of an ear around armor plating seemed to settle the large canine as it slowly stalked down the main street of Orgrimmar, the front gates looming up behind her. She knew her longtime friend was catching her worry, and tried to keep it suppressed. The frostwolf lashing out in a crowded street, trained or no, would be devastating to the reputation of the Horde and her Clan.

The creak of leather and the soft grunt from the Frostwolf met little notice as traders jostled around her, pressing close; and yet still wary of the shocking white wolf's maw. When a trader blundered into the flank of her mount with some piece of gear, the wolf snarled and a second sound suddenly cleared a bit more space. Tzia glanced down and stifled a quick grin as the large lavender feline that glided beside the wolf had made her presence loudly known. Tzia still kept one hand resting easily on the bow strapped to the side of her wolf, and her eyes tracked through the throngs of orc, troll, tauren, and goblin that were flooding the city for the Moon Festival. Her lip curled, she hated the crush of people more than Moka, her Frostwolf, did.

She was looking for a particular orc in the mass. He'd said the Drag near Gotri's Traveling Goods. She automatically flicked her gaze up, checking the heights out of habit, even though she was supposedly safe in the city, it never harmed any to be too careful. She found nothing but those going on about their business before a familiar voice hailed her.

"Tzia! Sister! As the Spirits exist! Thought you'd never get here." Korrig, her foster-brother called out, and she and Moka pivoted, moving as one to face the scarred orc, grinning so that her short tusks showed plainly as she took in the well loved face, barely pausing over the missing eye that she knew he'd lost to a Storm Pike Lance on his first raid.

"Korr. I made good time coming from the North. Where's that baleful runt you dare call a wolf hiding out?" She asked, slipping easily from the back of her companion. She and her brother embraced in the form of warriors, clasping one another's upper arms, face to face, making the other incapable of drawing a weapon.

"Ashre is lounging with Ogunaro, the kennel master. He'd even be willing to stable your runtling for a time." Korr stated releasing the taller troll and scratching Moka under the chin while Ruka stalked up to her hunter while glaring at the orc, tail lashing back and forth.

"Still haven't forgotten the time I stepped on your tail, eh catling?" Korr muttered, and bared his tusks when Ruka snarled, confirming his statement.

"She wouldn't. Why a calling, Korr? Where are Seb and Mavli? Shouldn't all of us be together if a Call was sent out?" Tzia asked, swiftly moving from greeting to business, especially since the missive she'd received had been signed by Korr and had made no metion of either of their other two brothers.

"I've met and talked with them already. They were close to home when Mother- " He paused and took a deep breath, grief and pride warring in his eyes. Tzia clenched her jaw, dreading what was coming, the look told her.

"She took a Storm Pike arrow through the throat, died a clean death. Took five of them with her off the bridge. We recovered her after the raid. Kemora tore the throat from three gryphons then slid off the bridge to join her. She won a victory for us that day."

"Lok'tar Ogar, Mother." Tzia said, turning away from her brother's outstretched hand to briefly bury her face in the comforting fur of her own mount, a pup of Kemora's. The nudge and rumble from Ruka did something to stem back the grief, so that she was able to turn back to her brother. She glanced down to realize he held a bundle in his hands and a lump formed in the back of her throat. She knew what that could be, and shook her head wordlessly.

"It was always meant to come to you. The Clan Elders made a foolish decision the day they denied you this. Kemora's own chose to carry you. You are a Blood Speaker. The tabard always passes from mother to daughter. Sons earn their own tabard by right. You earned yours the day you brought down a dwarf from the Ice Blood Tower. They refused to give you it because you were a girl. Mother couldn't give you this while alive. I found it among her things later. It was wrapped in your founding blanket. Wear it. The Elders will have to deal with you now in Council. You are a Frostwolf."

Tzia glanced down, the soft material of the blue and white tabard of the clan she'd always claimed kinship to now in her hands, a formal recognition of her status, the ability to have a voice before the Council now hers. Hers because her mother had died, and none of her three brothers could speak at the Elder's Council. That was the daughter's right. Sons spoke at War.

A single tear fell, and her hand moved to her arms belt, deftly freeing the buckle so that she could slip the material over her head. The tabard settled easily around her shoulders, and she gave a bitter smile in response to Korr's nod of approval. She would grieve the loss of her mother later. Now, now was the time to briefly celebrate how she had lived and died, as was a child's right.

Have Bow Again, Still Traveling

I've got a confession to make. Ever since a run in Heroic Trial of the Champion where the Black Knight dropped True-aim Long Rifle, I've been using it. So, it really hasn't been "Have Bow" for at least a month. All my guild mates knew I was grudgingly using a gun. I wanted a bow back, but none had dropped that were better than what I was using.

Last night, that swung back. Ran a Normal Mode Halls of Reflection with a very nice group of people, and Crypt Fiend Slayer dropped. I was so happy. I immediately flipped back to the arrows I'd been using from when the gun had dropped in HToC. I also blew most of my Triumph Emblems last night, picking up the mail triumph helm. It was an across the board improvement except in the fact I lost 44 crit strike rating. Yet switching back to bow gave me a percent of crit, and a Crit Scope made up for that loss. So in the long run I'm back to where I should be, and I'm still missing the Agi + Crit Meta gem.

As far as still traveling goes, I've rolled a hunter over on Nessingwary to play with other Petopians. So far I'm enjoying it immensely, when I'm not playing Tzia that is. Baby blood elf hunter with a white bear and a snow leopard, both from Dun Morogh. I'm loving the bear, haven't tried one before this, and now I'm wondering why I waited so long, aside from the fact that bears really weren't in ready supply when I first started, nor were they all that good....

Ah well, bear + bow = traveling hunter.


Why Bloodriver Rocks

My guild master asked everyone in the guild to send him a mail as to why our guild rocks because today is our one year anniversary. Yep, Bloodriver is one year old today on Wyrmrest Accord! Woot! But, well, I'm a writer, I suck at short stories and short notes. I can't possibly include everything as to why BR rock in one mailing, let alone the one thing that drew me permanently into the guild. So, its going to have to be a blog post.

Bloodriver rocks because we are a family. We help each other out. When our members were hacked in the past, the guild pitched in and tried to help get them back on their feet. We filed reports on their behalf. We donated materials, never expecting repayment of any type. We made gear. We offered to run whatever and passed on upgrades to help those harmed to get back into playing shape. We've had guild mates pay for another guildies subscription for a month, so that they could keep playing when things were hard. We've had guild mates buy other guildies authenticators to help protect them from repeat hacking attempts. We've offered each other advice on how to fix simple computer errors and we've seen guild mates open their homes to one another in times of stress and need.

Bloodriver rocks because its a home. I know that any day I log into Wyrmrest Accord I will have guildies to talk to, who will actually care how my day went. Its not a polite social question, guild mates here actually care if your day was good or bad, and if it was bad are almost always willing to queue up and instance and let you get the frustrations out... even if it kills them in the process. They are also willing to let you learn how to do a job on them. They will stand with a horrible tank as she learns the ropes (Casavel), and offer advice, correction, and humor when a pull goes so terribly wrong that the group ends up splattered over the ceiling of an instance. They are also willing to follow a certain bear tank blindly off a ledge and die, trusting implicitly that the tank knows the way. The guild leader is willing to pause in what he doing to help a lowbie level 13 hunter get a rare pet that is beating the crap out of said hunter by dropping a totem, going into wolf form and gnawing on cubs. That same guild master has also been dragged to Howling Fjord on a level 10 to help him get a certain pet that he wanted dearly.

Bloodriver rocks because we support each other. It can be time, money, safety, security and friendship without discrimination on any level. We don't care if you are of any ethnic group, religion, orientation, creed or belief. We accept, we understand, and we care about our guild mates.

Bloodriver rocks because we're insane. We will try anything at least three times over before even considering the remote possibility that what we are trying to do cannot be done. We will try over and over, swapping characters in and out and die repeatedly before considering that possibility. Our healers rock, our DPS rocks, our tanks rock... we can do anything. ANYTHING. Even if it kills us. We can do it.

I guess what I'm trying to say most of all is Bloodriver just is the exact kind of guild I've been looking for, for quite a while. Bloodriver is my old guild Chens Champions in a new form. Its with the kind of people I wanted on the kind of server I really wish I'd started out on to begin with.

Blooriver rocks. Lok'tar Ogar!


Gnomer... or Dead Kittens

I fully understand why Myst always said that every time somebody tried to run Gnomergan the Gods killed a kitten. Ugh.

Barely got half way through the instance with a "tank" that was dual wielding, couldn't hold jackshit for threat -- my pet was tanking more effectively without growl on and I was stealing aggro repeatedly. It was frustrating as all get out. And I still don't have my pants, which means... I'm going to have to run again to try and clear this place and get what I came for out of this mess.

Wish me luck, going back in. Maybe I'll end up getting a title early on, since I have to deal with "tanks" that are really just DPS. Why can't I do that? I know I can't do anything but DPS, but at least I'm honest about it!