Monday, April 4, 2011

Reflecting on race/faction changes.

I've been playing World of Warcraft for a good number of years now. I think something like five, but honestly, I can't even remember. When I hit /played it comes up with 355 days, 21 hours, 36 minutes, and 12 seconds. Granted most of that time was accrued idling in the various banks of the world, but hey, I like banks. I've actually become quite the connoisseur of Warcraft banks over the years. Best bank: Shattrath City, Scryers or Aldor, both were equivalent more or less. Worst bank: Undercity. I can't begin to count how many times I've walked my tauren warrior off of the stairs there while browsing through the guild bank tabs.

But I digress, let's just say that I've played World of Warcraft for a good long while now, long enough to know what I'm doing sixty percent of the time, every time. I've sampled the various achievements of the realm(s), and I've also taken part in what I like to think of as Blizzard's most lucrative investment: the paid race/faction change.

Long, long ago on a realm not so very far away, I started my Warcraft life as Tobias. I was svelte, with thick facial hair the color of glistening honeydew. My well-cared for locks fluttered as they were caught by the wind, always looking to the East, to the new day with those bright eyes so full of hope and challenge. Triumphant music heralded every quest I turned in, no kobold was safe from my steely wrath. Suffused in the Light, I laid waste to countless Horde in the arenas of Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin. In short, I can describe my first years of playing Warcraft with the following picture:
So very noble. So very young. Unjaded and pure, like the Light itself. Oh how those times change. Raiding will do that do a person, for lack of a better reason that I can come up with.

While I might have started so very innocent, I took the faction change and the inherent race change that came along with it. This was done for both guild reasons and server reasons, but reasons aside, it's changed my outlook on playing the game. While originally I was the bastion of hope for all of Azeroth embodied by the bulging biceps of a man that belonged on a Harlequin romance novel cover, there is no way I could be that anymore, nor would I want to be. I've changed in so many ways.

Where originally I would shy from unprovoked world PVP, now I find myself seeking it relentlessly. I teabag kills, I steal nodes when I can. I've even gone as far as to sit in front of a raid instance portal half-naked with a hunter trap beneath me while my best rogue buddy sat stealthed directly behind me. I will actively follow someone on their flying mount only to judge them in the air and pop my parachute cloak while twirling my thin black mustache. No longer do I bite my tongue and politely tell people that, "No, I'm not a tank, even though I have more health than you." Maybe it's the company I keep, we're all sort of like that, cynical to a fault, if being cynical can create faults, that is. For us, it just creates more hilarity. Since my race change, which was roughly a year ago, I've changed quite a bit, the following picture is the most recent I have:

Frankly, I think I'd be better-suited sitting on the Frozen Throne, but that's just my opinion. The Old Republic humor aside, the picture still fits, even if it's from a completely separate universe. Though, that's not to say that sometimes I don't have those heartfelt moments.

In fact, I just had one of said moments the other day, and I think I'd like to share it with you. Now, let me start this little bit out by saying that I don't like how the Horde cities are laid out. I think they're horrible. Orgrimmar looks like it was pasted together by a kindergartener high on white-out. The Undercity is an MC Escher wet dream. Silvermoon City should have a sign out front that says "Population: Tumbleweed". And Mulgore looks like that same kindergartener just took that pasted layout of Orgrimmar and added some Lincoln Logs and rubberbands.

That being said, I don't like to leave Orgrimmar. It was hard enough to learn where everything is, I don't want to get a concussion on the way out the door and forget where the nearest barbershop is. I mean, come on, I'd have to ask one of those guards, then I'd just look like an ass. You know those guards judge you constantly when you keep asking them where the same thing is, just because you can't figure out what the giant red X-flag on the map is really pointing to.

It takes a lot to get me to leave the city. Namely a raid, but there are other special times, like when I need something from the Darkmoon Faire. Recently, I had one of those moments. The Darkmoon Faire was being held in Mulgore, and I had a deck to turn in, I went. I said bye-de-bye to the highscrapers and the v-v-v-v-v-videos while looking for a gang called turbulence.

I took off across the high plains of Mulgore, north of Bloodhoof Village, hugging close to the lake. My wolf's paws pounded at the well-trodden dirt, kicking up little puffs of grit as I passed the mesa by. At first, I thought I hadn't heard anything, that it was just my mind playing tricks on me, but then I heard it again, this time quite real. I brought my mount to a stop, backtracking a bit over the path I had taken. I stopped a few feet from him, my arm lifting just enough to block out the sun as it came streaking over the mesa. He looked at me, took a breath, and said it a third time:

"Will you help me find my dog?"

I was stunned to say the least. In this world of pillaging, murder, and shameless debauchery, here was a young boy asking me to help find his dog. I felt compelled to help him. Maybe I hadn't changed as much as I had thought. Maybe somewhere deep inside of me the capacity for human caring and emotion was still there and I just needed that single spark to start a wildfire of giving from within. Maybe this was it. Maybe this is what I needed since joining the Horde...

Yes, Ahab. Yes, I will help you find your dog, even if it's a level seven quest and your dog is just around the corner. I would be glad to help you. We'll both go find your dog, and then we can go back to your house and your mother can make us some cookies to celebrate a job well done.

Wait. You're how old? You're not some young kid that let his dog off his leash because you're young an irresponsible? Your title is ? How old are you? Christ. I don't have time to help your dementia-riddled ass find some dog that's probably off having a good time living it up simply because you forgot your keys somewhere and let him off the chain. Man alive, son, to think I almost finished your quest line. I've got a Darkmoon card to turn in. Go get some lowbie to find your dog for you, it's probably worth their time, certainly not worth mine. If you're still looking for him the next time the Faire comes to Mulgore, maybe I'll roll a low-level alt to do the work for you, if your dog isn't dead by then...


Yeah, I've still got it.