Friday, March 27, 2009

Get off my lawn!

For WoW players who are concerned about lack of raid content in Wrath of the Lich King, see above. WoW Vanilla (US launch being 1.1) started with only 3 raid dungeons: Onyxia, Molten Core and (Upper) Blackrock Spire.

More important than more raids back then were:

-Maraudon, holidays and being able to hide your helmet (1.2)

-Getting to MC without going through BRD (!), limitting dungeons to 10 people, Dire Maul and Meeting Stones v1.0 (1.3)

-The Honor System v1.0, Children's Week, the Arena in STV and elementals to grind in level 60 areas (1.4)

-The first two battlegrounds, WSG and AV (1.5)

Now my first main, my priest, wasn't 60 until a good half year or more after release, so I can't be certain, but I *think* that Naxx-10 is harder than BWL-15 was. Naxx-25 is certainly more interesting than MC was, and 2 single-target bosses are better than 1. More to the point, anyone else remember when UBRS was the entry-level raid? Screw Kara, Leeroy's the *real* old-school.

Anyway, I've been levelling mining on Jielanka, my DK alt. It's about 10 times easier than it used to be, for two reasons: Mainly the fact that all the minerals in a vein come tumbling out in one hit rather than 5, but also at some point that I'm going to assume to be 3.0, smelting ores started giving full mining "experience" the same as digging itself.

I also met up with my Father earlier, as he was up in Scotland for a day. S'always good to see family when you're living away, so long as it's still clear that you don't live with them anymore. I feel sorry for people whose families are further afield, ie people I know from school who went to study in the USA, or people I know now who came from mainland Europe or Africa. Still, at least we all have internet I guess.

Scion last night was eugh. The plot ended up taking longer to roll itself out than I'd hoped, essentially leading to the whole session being a long cutscene. Not something I like doing on purpose, this one sort of happened by accident: I had to take the band through the Egyptian Underworld of Duat, but really don't like it (it's a big angry desert which you walk through. Seriously. There are 10 gates with rewards for surviving more and more desert, that's it. Least interesting Underworld by far). Naturally, this meant I had them ride through it on Baron Samedi's raft, with the Baron pointing out the gates on the way, and saying hi to Osiris and Ra. Then Bastet showed up and took them to Yggdrassil, from where they went down to Helheim, where they've found they'll be fighting Hitler again. Also I had to spend some time helping people upgrade their characters to Legend 6 (which they reached this week) and explaining my new purview of Time to the people who've decided to use it (in character as Atum-Re being possessed by Atum-Re from the future and feeling rather loopy because of it).

My least favourite session in a while, but the coming week will have actual stuff to do, and there's a fight with this guy called Adolf coming up. Yay.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On vampires and alts

Tonight's vampire game was interesting. After a long series of events, Sheriti and her coterie, favoured assistants of the Dundee Camarilla's Prince, rescued the Malkavian Primogen from torpor, and said primogen then led us to the site where all the city's Tremere had blown themselves up. While there, the coterie's "tank" Tony blew up his own sword and threw himself through one and a half walls by trying to break through a magical barrier. Clearly, Set did not wish for us to pass through it tonight. Instead, we've decided to go and confront the Prince himself over rumours we've heard, from the Sabbat bastards and from the Malkavian Primogen, that he's been possessed by a "Shard of Lilith", an artifact that the coterie's lore buff Richard thinks is properly called something else. Oh, and the coterie's Malkavian Kristian spotted Sheriti's forked tongue. Luckily, noone thought the loon knew what he was on about, because clearly I'm a Ventrue. Duh.

And now onto WoW. I originally meant to blog predominantly about this game, it just so happened that I started this blog at the same time as I've been playing WoW less and less. However, today I spent some time levelling my shaman alt, Jorianka.

Firstly, a note on my alts. In addition to my main character (main), Jastanka, I have a few alternate characters (alts): Jielanka the Death Knight (71), Jorianka the Shaman (23), and Sontanka the Priest (1, bank alt). When I get a chance, I'll start up Sarlanka the Paladin. The observant among you will notice a naming pattern there. That's on purpose. I am in a guild which consists of an awful lot of alts, none of whom I can ever remember the "real" identities of, and so I determined that my alts would all have some aspect of their name in common, specifically the last 4 letters "anka", and the name length being 8. All of my characters are female draenei. Draenei because they're my favourite alliance race, mainly for their starting area (it's newer and therefore better than the other 3) but also their racial power, a mana-free heal over time spell called Gift of the Naaru. Female because male draenei are ugly squid-faced meatcakes. :<

Anyway, I was playing Jorianka, the shaman, and running around in Ghost Wolf form (which I think of as Hoverdog form, in reference to the oWoD Werewolf game I played in last year) picking up flightpaths and doing killquests against orcs in Wetlands and skeletons in Duskwood. And really enjoying it, I guess just because there's a goal. Jielanka, the Death Knight, has no real reason to level higher, she's half a level behind my brother's priest, but because I'm a tank and he's a healer, I would like to just level those two characters together as much as possible. So while I might go and grind some xp to catch up to him occassionally, there's no *real* incentive to play Jiel. Jastanka has nothing to do except for the daily cooking quest when I remember, and enhancing some magical cloths every three days. She used to raid every week, but with the current arena tournament going on, I've stopped signing in order to grind out some fights for my £12 armoured baby murloc.

Jorianka, on the other hand, has a goal. She wants to be higher level. Specifically 30, for reasons I may spill later, but the point is that it's something I'm not yet. So that gives me a reason to play her, a reason to get on and do stuff. So yeah, I'm questing in Duskwood on her, and loving dropping totems and spamming shocks and all that. the playstyle is very different to both my mage and my DK, but isn't unenjoyable - if anything, I prefer it to my DK's playstyle of runic cooldowns and so forth.

For the time being then, it seems, I am the shaman king. Trying to be, at least.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Time for an introduction, of sorts...

I am Noelor, or Kirisu Noelor, and I spend most of my time on the internet. I spent a few months as Moth of Chaos, and still describe myself as such in some places.

I am Jastanka Ubramt, a character who has been reincarnated in several RPGs, mostly play-by-post forum RPs. A young girl from a rich family, I ran away to learn magic. Or train Pokemon, or whatever. The current incarnation of Jastanka is a level 80 arcane draenei mage in World of Warcraft.

I am Sheriti, alias Millicent O'Neill, a Follower of Set. A vampire who was only 8 when she was turned, I have a natural flair for using her blood to make other people do what she wants. I recently had an existential crisis which brought me closer to Set as I dedicated the rest of my unlife to the Path of Sutekh, the path taken by the most zealous priests of Set. I live in Dundee, and work for the Camarilla there under the pretense of being of the clan Ventrue, that most domineering of clans. I am struggling over whether or not to reveal my true nature to the other members of the Camarilla Prince's Investigation Squad.

I am Tanaka Toshi (Toshi Tanaka to westerners), a genin of the ninja village of hidden caves. I am an interrogator, specialising in torture and needle use. In combat, I throw my needles to paralyse opponents for questioning later. I hate death, especially when it is meaningless, and seek to prevent it wherever possible. Those who are alive are infinitely more useful for any number of reasons. I have an identical twin brother, Yasushi, who I compete with constantly. We practice our latest torure methods on each other when we have time off from missions.

CMS is an almost-20 English computer geek living in Eastern Scotland, studying Computer Games Technology at university. He plays World of Warcraft, Vampire: The Masquerade, Scion and Exalted (converted to a Naruto setting). He works in a kitchen at a pub-restaurant, but not as a chef. He is not active on facebook, myspace, nor any other social network site. Not even Twitter. He lives in a house with 3 other students, all male, and doesn't eat as varied a diet as his conscience insists he should.

I am not Ozymandias, King of Kings. But he's probably my favourite of the Watchmen (based purely on the movie, which I saw a couple weeks back).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Someone like that could never be a protagonist...

Today, I read the most recent issue of Naruto (most recent in Japan, in fact). This means I'm up-to-date with the "big 3" of Naruto, Bleach and One Piece. That's triple the goodness of being given a small advance of plot followed by cliffhangers every week. Not that I'm cynical or anything.

Actually, on Friday night at the Naruto game, I was told that natural cynicism is what makes English comedians awesome. Naturally, this means I'm hilarious. Right?

On the subject of Naruto (the game), we're currently involved in a fight which is now rolling into its 3rd session. This is predominantly because we're all very easily distracted, so fighting does take a while, and I'm certainly not complaining, because it's a good fight. But on paper, it sounds awful.

A couple of GMing things I want to talk about related to that, and then I'll shut up about GMing for a while. Honest.

Firstly, how to break up sessions. As someone who got my first breaks into GMing from one-offs, I have an overwhelming compulsion to wrap up every session. I'll sometimes leave cliffhangers, but they'll be really obvious and introduced purely for that purpose. This means that I've learnt perfectly how much content to prepare for each session. *That* means that I'm screwed over by my group's once-in-a-blue-moon early starts. The GMs of both the games I'm running are more the type to be able to break off a session anywhere, including the middle of combat.

Ultimately, this is predominantly an issue for the players to decide. If they don't like having to remember what they were doing to the next week, it is up to you to try to help them not have to do so - remember, rule #1.5 of GMing is to listen to your players. (Rule #1, incidentally, is that everyone in the game should be having fun).

Secondly, missing players. All 3 games this week were missing one player, for different reasons none of which were bad - I've run Scion games with only half the players present before, which isn't something I'd like to do again. There are a few solutions to this, two of which are simply workarounds, and three of which are a source of true dilemma:

-The first workaround is to not run campaigns, and only do one-offs. As much as I like one-offs, campaigns are generally much better. That having been said, in future exam seasons I plan to suspend my Scion campaign and instead run (or let other people run) one-offs in its place.

-The second workaround is a bizarre thing that I call the "campaign of one-offs". Each session of a campaign is its own adventure, with a clear "return to base" at the end of each session. The most usual setting is some sort of (usually mercenary) "adventurers' guild" with a different mission each week, for which the characters of the players present are chosen. In this way, it is perfectly reasonable for the player's character (PC - can't remember if I've explained that one before) to not be present on certain weeks.

-The first true solution is to turn the missing player's character (MPC) into a NPC for those sessions for which the player isn't present. The GM controls that character, and has her take full part in the goings-on. This is the worst option, especially if it leads to character death, or if the GM doesn't understand the player's definitions of what would be "in-character".

-The second solution is to have the MPC take a back-seat, as it were. The character is there, and if there's a situation which desperately calls for her to act, the GM has her take that action, but describes it minimally. Otherwise, it is assumed - and sometimes explicitly mentioned - that she is performing some background activity such as keeping an eye out behind the party, or sniping from afar (kill an NPC at random occassionally, and attribute it to the absent PC). This is my preferred method, and worked especially well for Scion this week as the MPC was far, far slower in combat than the other PCs, and so wouldn't have had a chance to act anyway.

-The third solution, which is preferred by my Vampire GM, is to explain the PC's disappearance in-character. This is almost the same as a workaround, but more direct. Like a workover, if you will. It works with varying success, depending on what the situation was at the end of the last session - for instance, this week in vampire we were just about to start a combat (which never materialised anyway) when the MPC suddenly was called away into the sewers, and scuttled off. However, last year when I had to skip a week of the Werewolf game, it would have been somewhat more difficult to explain away my character's disapperance from the face of Mars.

All 5 solutions have their benefits and downsides, with the possible exception of the 3rd solution (1st "real" solution) - I can't think of any real benefits of that. It is up to the GM to decide (a) which they prefer, and (b) which best suits the current situation.

Friday, March 20, 2009

You there, check out that noise!

Sorry WoW people, despite the above quote, I'm going to talk about Scion again. It was to be expected really, as I ran a rather fun session tonight. For the first time since the band became demigods, it was basically all combat, and rather easy combat at that (I messed up the numbers of early opponents, and cheesed the maths for the boss due to time constraints). Still, it's always nice to rip giant two-mouthed sharks in half and shoot tentacles with lasers.

Having crashed into an iceberg last session, the band patched up their ship and were then "rescued" by Agwe, the Loa of the Ocean, who took them down to the Voodoo Underworld of Guinee. Once there, they started heading to meet with Baron Samedi, but were interrupted by a bunch of tentacles reaching out of the darkness. The darkness, in this case, being the edges of the Titans' prison of Tartarus. They beat off the tentacles, which were replaced by 3 giant sharks' faces, which were similarly dispatched. A larger-than-life slave trader then appeared, and was beaten off by our time at the union almost being up. Leon, the group's element-wielding warrior, picked up a gold doubloon from it for using as a relic later. Then Baron Samedi turned up and took them to his house for rum and cigars.

I'm finally wheeling the plot around, slowly, to where I want it. The Story (Scion-speak for campaign) started with some blockbuster action in WW2, which quickly snowballed its way toward killing Hitler with some time-warping help from Khronos, Titan of Time. After killing Hitler, the Niddhogg, who had been summoned by poor Adolf's death-gasp, nommed them. They then started wandering throught the various Underworlds more-or-less at random, looking for a way back to life. However, this was all getting them to this point.

In the core books of Scion, the plot is as follows: The Titans have broken out of Tartarus some time recently, and the Scions have been called forward to deal with it in the World while the Gods are running around panicking in the Overworld. The Band of my Story are going to be present when the Titans break out, and see my idea for how it happened. There will be legendary nemeses, evil Scions corrupted by Titans, and of course the PCs might be involved themselves. I'm not saying any more, but needless to say I'll be rushing through or maybe skipping the Egyptian Underworld (it's boring anyway) and getting the Band to Helheim fast for the "conclusion" of this Story.

Due to the nature of the group (a university club), I might well have to call a hiatus at that point. It'll be annoying, but not quite as much as, say, the gap between my first conceiving the Story around this time last year and the game actually starting in September '08. However, if I can I'll continue the Story into the Band's return into the modern-day world, and some crazy goings-on with their dislodgement from Time.

In summary, I'm loving the Story of my Scion game, and hope my players do too (they've said so, but I'm going to presume they're sparing my feelings), and would very much like to extend it past the point that the calendar is about to make it conclude with.

PS When it comes to player feedback, I do the following: Take the negative onboard and use it to try to improve, and ignore the positive as sycophancy. This is pessimistic to be sure, but I'd rather be pessimistic than complacent. It's just who I am.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I aim to misbehave

So the internet died last night, which was to say the least annoying. But hey, I watched Serenity and a bunch of Robot Chicken, so s'all good.

Tuesday was Vampire night, which I was going to write about yesterday. The campaign's been going for as long as the Scion one, which is to say since October '08. It's set in the city I live in, so naturally my character lives in the house next door to mine. She's also a very creepy vampire. She was an 8-year old girl when she died, and now she worships Set, who's a really powerful vampire and who she (along with the rest of her vampire clan) believes is an incarnation of the Egyptian God. She's a schemer, mainly, though she's recently gained a heavy religious streak which I'm enjoying playing out. Oh, and she's pretending to be a different type of vampire, and inspired half the rest of the group to do the same (to the extent that our "true brujah" is pretending to be a "brujah").

Recently, the group has inflated to 8 people, and we've all been sent off to beat up a mathuslei, which is a word I can't spell that means "really powerful vampire". Should be fun.

Now, time to talk about GMing a bit. Specifically, a GM's limit. Now, in basically anything, each person has their own individual limit as to what they can manage. A few things apply to the GM here:

-How many players are in your game?

-What is the product of your NPCs and their AI?

-How good are you at mental arithmetic?

These 3 things combine for your game of choice. For instance, I know through experimentation back in the days of Paranoia (a game I played online with some school friends and their web friends, which we played without any system) that I can run a game for 6 people, but not really 7 (though I might try 7 again someday soon, now I've GMed more). The GM of my Vampire game can, from my observations, cope well with 7, but starts to fall apart at 8.

A while back, I realised that I can't support much overall AI. I can run a whole bunch of "extra" NPCs, whose only decision is "I hit this person", but more complicated NPCs like Hitler, who had a whole bunch of different powers he could use, I was a bit swamped by. Needless to say, multiple complicated people I tend to lose track of easily (my players have occassionally had to remind me that one of the NPCs is missing, or has come back to life).

Mental Arithmetic plays the most into what game/system you use. Dungeons and Dragons, for instance, that classic of the PnP RPGs, the one which outsiders often think is the only one, is pretty maths-intensive. Less so in its newest, 4th edition, but certainly in previous editions there is at least a token amount of quick maths to do for everyone involved. Old World of Darkness games, on the other hand, have no maths more complicated than counting. New World of Darkness, Exalted and Scion, have a few specific static values in addition to the counting, but these don't often change.

Any maths done by the players, however, has to be done by the GM as well, more often in fact. In any game, for instance, any maths the player does for their character, the GM does for every NPC, and sometimes the PCs as well. In addition, the GM might have to do things like work out what's possible for players, what's challenging, etc. For instance, ensuring that if, say, an invisible NPC is meant to be "accidentally" discovered by the PCs, it is *actually* possible for at least one of them to pass the "see invisible bloke" test.

These 3 things are important, and if you're GMing, you should be aware of them. As a guideline to new GMs:

-Start with 4 players, and gradually increase if you're feeling that it's easy. If you're not sure about 1 more person, try and organise a one-off in which you can play with that many, and see how it goes. Every Paranoia game back in the day was a one-off, and that helped me out a lot.

-NPCs is a tough one, start with mob NPCs with simple choices (who to attack, not what attack to use) and individual bosses with more complicated choices, and try to work your way up to complicated groups.

-As for mental arithmetic, start with a simple system like DnD4, oWoD, or rules-free. Stick with one-offs at first when trying more complicated systems, and if possible be sure that you know that you can at least play in that system

-As you may have noticed, I like one-offs. In terms of "trying out" GMing, they're a wonderful thing and should be embraced. If you try to start a campaign and find out in the first session that you don't like it, that's potentially a lot worse than if noone was ever expecting more. So try for these as much as possible.

-Finally, *listen* to your players. After a game, set aside some time for asking people what they thought, and try to take it on board for next time. If they ask for something you don't think you can do, try to explain that and work out if there's a way the players can help you do more.

Anyway, talking of GMing, I have to go do some prep for my Scion game tonight, so that'll have to do for now. Will report on that later tonight!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

...But I'm still going to kill you all

Alternative titles: But I slept with your sister, But I'll invite you next time I promise.

Today I helped a friend with a project by starring in a fake (but professionally made) radio show. Hilarity ensued, naturally - as you won't be able to tell by the meme-licious "lyrics" above. Unfortunately, due to the time it was scheduled for, I am now so tired that I've forgotten how tired I am. It's been a while since I was at this point, but it's a fun place to be: I've actually become almost drunk upon tiredness.

I played in a Naruto game earlier tonight. To clarify on that point, this game is set in the same universe as the Naruto manga, but uses the system from Exalted, a truly epic game. It approaches Scion in terms of power level of PCs, and in this setting we're all ninja. It works quite well, but I think I'll save details for a future post (when I can think about it more).

Instead, I'm going to talk about WoW. I've played the game, with a few gaps of varying size, since its launch 4 years ago, and have passed through a few characters. My current, and longest-lasting character is my level 80 Mage, a lovely female Draenei (for the blissfully untouched, think sexy mind flayers with tails) who specialises in pure arcane magic. She's decked out in a decent set of gear, and joins 10-man raids every week for small upgrades to it. I love the playstyle of the arcane mage - a flexible system of being able to trade efficiency of mana for speed of damage at the drop of a cowl.

However, I'm also working on a couple of secondary characters. Both are the same race and gender (so that they can support and be supported by each other and the mage - gender isn't necessary for that, but male draenei are fugly), one is a mighty level 70 Death Knight while the other is a fledgling level 21 Shaman. The DK is being levelled slowly alongside my brother's healer, a priest. The Shaman is levelling alone.

WoW gets mixed reviews. Most people who play it love it to bits, most people who don't hate it more than Jews hate Hitler (or vice versa, whichever you feel is stronger). Myself, I think it's the best MMO game I've encountered for one reason only. This is that any MMO rises or falls based on the strength of the social ties between its players. What has always brought me back to WoW is the fact that my friends and family (well, my brother and father anyway - Mum's as technophobic as she can afford to be) play it, and it's a game that I can play with them. And of course, with a playerbase of over 11 million if you believe their statistics, WoW has that much more sticking power. If it weren't for my guild, my brother, my friends, or so on, I doubt I'd give it a second glance - It's not a good enough game to play for this long, by anyone's stretch of imagination.

So yeah, it's like alchohol or saturated fats. I know I shouldn't, but dammit I just can't stop.

P.S. Extremists (read: idiots) claim that MMOs are addictive. They are, but only because socialisation is the primary motivation of the human race as a whole - it is just as viable to say that MSN, phone lines or the pub are addictive. I know I'd be lost without the ability to IM people or go for drinks with them.

Friday, March 13, 2009

More popular than a Goddess' plums

It's still early enough on Friday morning to be considered Thursday night, and for me that means I've been playing Scion. I say playing, there's much debate as to whether or not the "Storyteller" (or Dungeon/Game Master, if you prefer) is actually playing. In any case, that's my role in the game I'm in at my uni's roleplaying club. Every Thursday, I help 6 people pretend to be totally awesome for a few hours. And they at least tell me I do it well.

A bit of background on the Story so far: A bunch of British soldiers (two of whom were Englishmen, the rest being Scottish, Norwegian and a Kiwi) and one Russian woman in WWII found out they were the children of God(esse)s, and naturally went around beating up nazis, planes, tanks, and Hitler. Then Niddhogg appeared and killed them. Now these Demigods are making their way through the various Underworlds, trying to return to the land of the living. This week, and for the few weeks preceding, they've been in Yomi, land of the Japanese dead.

This week, they finally reached the mountain home of Yomi's queen, Izanami. But, she being a Goddess and they being Demigods, there were trials. I had each of them face an opponent tailored for them. James Mildenhall, Oxford Professor and son of Hades, beat a brilliant Japanese strategist at Go and Shogi (Japanese Checkers and Chess, respectively). Olfus Njordsen, Thor-like son of Odin, sparred with a mighty ronin who then shared some mead. And so forth. Then they got to the top of the mountain. 

Now, Gods are affected strongly by Fate. This is a sort of zeitgeist-like Will of the People, a force by which Gods become what people think they are. In Izanami's case, she *must* offer everyone who meets her a plum. These plums trap their consumers, Gods included, in Yomi. Izanami doesn't want people trapped here, but she must ask anyway. It was hard for me, as a GM, to portray that mixture of offering something while dissuading it. It didn't help that a couple of my players have a tendency to do "zany" things. Eventually I had everyone make easy rolls to realise that the plums were bad, and had Fate decree that those 2 who were going to do it anyway couldn't, because their Band-mates weren't doing so.

Rail-roading is an interesting word in roleplaying. As I've heard it used, it describes when a GM forces the players to take certain actions. In some ways, the Fate system of Scion can be seen this way. After all, it lets me say "no, you don't do that" or "you do this" in a way few other companies would (White Wolf games that I've been in before all tend to have a way of wrenching away players' control of their characters). However in this case, it certainly saved the players from a trap which I didn't want them to fall into. It's a thin line, and one I'm increasingly aware of as the Band increase their Legend, and with it Fate.

After the game, I treat the players to a drink in the Student Union. This is mainly so they get a chance to tell me how awesome my game was (I don't care if it's sycophancy, it feels good to get validation on a regular basis). However, it's also so a couple of players from the other games in the club can bitch about said games' GMs to the rest of us. This week, I realised that I was far from railroading. One of the other GMs has done the following:

-Killed players who were away from the table

-Had traps far beyond the party's capabilities to prevent in every direction but the "right" one

-Had 100-strong cults of cthulhu worshippers waiting around the corner for a party who decided to fight the first room of a couple cultists rather than talk to them

-Threatened parties with wizards several levels higher if they don't "behave"

This is the sort of thing that sends players running for the hills. If I didn't have enough on my plate already (GMing 6 players is my limit, I've found through a little experimentation), I'd let some of them play Scion. As it is, I've settled for encouraging one of them to start flexing his own GM muscles.

To conclude the side-tracked Scion story, the Band avoided getting stuck in Yomi, and instead were given a ship that will take them to the Voodoo Underworld, via a crash with an iceberg. I'd say what was going to happen there, but I think at least one of them is going to read this. Maybe later.

As a final note, my very good friend (certainly the friend I've known longest) Dobmeister has linked me on his own blog. As if I wasn't already feeling popular tonight :3

Thursday, March 12, 2009

WoW, you did what?

This is a topic that's been covered many times, I'm sure, but I'm going to talk about achievements, specifically in Activision-Blizzard's World of Warcraft. Right after I point out that Blactivision (pron. Black Division) would have been cooler.

Like many topics, this one doesn't seem divided, everyone dislikes them. This is an illusion, however. It's just that those who do like them, have them, so have no motivation to complain. Those who don't like them, have them, so complain. Often loudly.

Like everyone audible, I'm not a fan of achievements. The abritary system has its positive points, sure. Being able to tell with a glance whether or not this or that person actually has experience of this or that raid is useful to those recruiting for a guild or Pick-Up Group (PUG). And it is a brilliant way to gain aesthetic things like mounts or mini-pets, especially those achievements like Mountain o' Mounts.

It is also a fantastic way of distracting players from what's actually important. Heroics? Screw that, I'm busy trying to fall off a cliff! Kill this boss? Okay, but this time one of us has to stand outside. Now, I'm in favour of making things more difficult for myself, but only if I think I could do it easily without doing so. This system merely entices people to try things the hard way too early. I don't really see the difference in my exclaiming to a friend that "I was in a group yesterday that 3-manned OK, it was awesome!" and "Oh yeah, I got that achievement for 3-manning OK yesterday".

That last sentence is a lie. There is a difference, and it's the sense of "awesome". Back in school, when I was around 13, we spent a semester of our IT course doing web design, and the teacher went on and on about "Wow factor!". This is the same principle. I want to be different. I want to feel that I have achieved something, sure, but something I decided to do. This system spoon-feeds us stupid ideas we should be having ourselves. Prime example: I read earlier today about a raiding guild who decided to do Noth the Plaguebringer not in the conventional way of sending half the raid to deal with ghostly respawns, but instead have the whole raid deal with those ghosts together when they were released. This isn't an achievement Blizzard told them to do, this is something they decided to do themselves because they were bored. And I'd bet money that it was more fun than simply downing Patchwerk faster.

So, to conclude, the achievement system was brilliant, until they decided to make it any more than a quick way of checking statistics. Now it's just a silly, e-peen enhancing bag of bad ideas.

Dear Internet...

Well, this took me long enough. Here I am, stumbling into Web 2.0 like I'm back at school, catching onto the very end of the latest fad. It probably says something that I think the only scene I got into early was Pokémon.

I initially considered calling this blog "Dear Internet...", it seemed fitting for what I've always seen as a "public diary" of sorts. I decided instead upon Impotent Rants, which is what most blogs come out to be. Could it be considered pessimistic to call my own contribution to the ocean this? Probably, but as with all pessimists, I'll be thinking of it as merely realistic.

I'll be aiming to update at least 1 time a week to start with, probably more. Early posts will be easy. I have a few rants in store, and failing that I may even introduce myself.

May the Force be with me. Or the Light. Or Gaia. Or Odin. Or...