What happens when you give druids a new toy?
They have an impromptu dance party in Orgrimmar to celebrate.
What happens when you give druids a new toy?
They have an impromptu dance party in Orgrimmar to celebrate.
Canon refers to the actual events and characters that exist in a fictional world. Headcanon refers to any situations or characters that are imagined by fans of said fictional world. Sometimes they are silly, like the fact that Garrosh’s favorite treat is lemon squares. Sometimes they are serious, like positing that tauren store grief in the lungs. For my writing, I’ve come up with a lot of headcanon. Got a theory about a torrid romance between your favorite auctioneer and the patrolling guard? Given any thought to where mounts and pets go when they aren’t summoned? Do you know how your characters do their laundry, or what Baine Bloodhoof does in his free time? What are your headcanons, and where did you get the idea?
If I were to write about all of my headcanon, it would probably be enough to fill a small book. Or at least an entire short story. Headcanon is actually one of my favorite parts of WoW. I like taking this world that we were given by Blizzard and fleshing it out in my mind to fill in the gaps, yet still make sure it stays appropriate to the world. I think it’s probably good practice for me, since I’m notoriously bad at world building. I love telling characters’ stories, but making up an entire world is daunting to me. WoW gives me just enough freedom and creativity that I can be creative and not get overwhelmed.
The world we are given is much smaller than the world my characters live in.
In game, the world is understandably small (even though as far as video games go, it’s actually pretty huge). But when you think about it, it doesn’t make much sense that you should be able to fly from the northern most part of a continent to the southern most in less than twenty minutes. Well, I suppose it could make sense, but that would mean that this is an extraordinarily small world. With the mix of cultures and history in Azeroth, the setting seems too small, and so I choose to ignore what the game tells us in this regard.
I’ve written about this before, but I think it’s worth talking about again here, especially since it tends to be one of those things where people who aren’t used to writing with me get a little confused. For example, I like to think that Quel’Thalas is much bigger than Eversong and Ghostlands would have you believe. Eversong itself I imagine taking at least 45 minutes to walk from Silvermoon to the river that divides it from Ghostlands. And Ghostlands I imagine being much larger and vast. I generally say that I think Quel’Thalas is about the size of New Jersey, which gives me the chance to write in places that don’t exist in game, such as villages, other Amani settlements, outposts, and many other things. In order for the elves to stay as isolated as they’re supposed to be, they would need much more room to nurture their exclusive society.
Along with this, I like to think that travel is much more difficult than it is in the games. I don’t really enjoy including portals nor long distance teleportation in my writing. I feel like traveling back and forth between contiments should be a huge time and financial investment, with voyages (by air or by sea) taking days if not weeks. I’ll continue with this idea in Mists as well. Once my characters go to Pandaria, they are going to be there for the long haul with very infrequent trips back to Kalimdor or Eastern Kingdoms, if there are any at all. Even though WoW is a strange mix of fantasy, sci-fi, and steampunk, I like viewing travel, at least, with a bit more of a primitive stance. It makes the world feel more real to me.
The Silvermoon in my head is much cooler than the one in the game
I love writing about Silvermoon. It’s such an interesting fantasy city, with arcane replacing technology and a culture that has slipped into decadence. I love imagining different little corners of it that the game never gives us.
In game, Silvermoon has no residential areas or places to live at all. In my head, there are more districts, and like the world, I imagine the city to be much much larger than it is in game. There’s a neighborhood for just the noble types, for the merchant class, and more. Koralie has a flat in Murder Row above an apothecary shop. In my head Murder Row is more of a neighborhood than a tiny street. Within it there’s plenty of crime, but also a lot of fun. I had this idea that Koralie, generally rejecting traditional Silvermoon society, probably would rather shoot herself then go spend a night out drinking at the Silvermoon Inn, so I made a tavern called the Alibi Room instead. It’s a rowdy place with loud music (think Irish pub music with a splash of rock and turned way, way, up). Typical blood elves would sneer at the place, but I imagine it being great fun. At least half the time that I write about Koralie being there, she ends up getting into a brawl, which everyone generally approves of.
I take my cues from other decadent societies, like the height of the Roman Empire to imagine the political climate of Silvermoon. Without their king and with a Regent Lord who never wanted the job, I imagine the political jockeying much be intense. I love writing about the corruption that festers beneath the city’s shining surface. From corrupt court officials to blood knight generals that are only too happy to use their purses to manipulate and control those outside of the order, the corruption of Silvermoon is one of the main plots of my writing.
The Blood Knights are another place where I have quite a lengthy headcanon. For all the development they received in BC (when I wasn’t even playing!) they haven’t received much since then. I think this is rather a pity, especially considering the plot of Wrath would have been a nice place for them to shine. And so I have an elaborate list of all the general, commanders, many knights, and more within the order, along with their basic personalities and the connections between them. With my main RP character being a blood knight, I really had to flesh out the order so that I could write about it. Traditional military or not, it’s still military. I wanted to stay true to that.
I find that for whatever reason, I end up writing about food and meals fairly often, which begs the question, “What does this culture eat?” For blood elves, I tend to think they’re cooking a lot of French type food, so I mostly pull from that cuisine when I need an idea for a quick meal. Though once I did write a scene where someone was cooking an elaborate meal of salmon with raspberry mead sauce which is definitely not French. Still sounds elfy though.
Similar to that, I like to imagine that an elf speaking Orcish is quite hilarious with their graceful accent wrapping over those harsh words. Say “Lok’tar Ogar!” with a French accent. No really, do it. That’s what I imagine Blood Elves sound like to the rest of the Horde.
The wonderful herbs
This is another thing I’ve mentioned before, but I love thinking about background for the herbs of Azeroth and Outland. In my head, peacebloom is similar to tobacco. Sungrass is similar to pot. Stormvine shares properties with eleuthero. And Azshara’s Veil got its name from when the Queen herself demanded that thousands and thousands of the gossamer petals from the delicate, short-lived plant be fashioned into an entire outfit for her. Imagine her fury when the servants were only able to make her a veil! I actually do intend to do the other blog I mentioned before about the herbology of Azeroth, just because I think some of the things I’ve come up with are amusing and could possibly help others who are writing about this world.
I could really go on and on with all of the headcanon rattling around in my mind. I’d be curious to know if this is something that only people who write about the world do, or it others who play the game make up strange little facts about it as well. Where are the best vineyards in Azeroth? Who makes the best chocolate? What sort of fairy tales do dwarves tell their children? Do you have a story for the nice tauren lady that repairs your armor? Maybe your goblin priest is part of the Church of the Coin.
Actually, hang on. I like that idea. BRB, writing down more headcanon. ;)
So the other day, I was mindlessly leveling through Zangarmarsh on my hunter while listening to a podcast about writing. No one from my guild was online, and I was still half asleep from having stayed up way too late the night before pvping. I was about to go turn in a mess of quests when a message window popped up. I read the message first, then the name, then blinked.
Navimi? That couldn’t possibily be like…Navimie, could it? Not Navimie from The Daily Frostwolf. Why on earth would she be visiting me?
As it turned out, it was that Navimie. And for reasons that I still can’t understand, she was visiting me. I was being Navispammed!
I quickly switched over to my druid and took her to my favorite zone, Storm Peaks. It’s long been one of my favorite places in the game, mostly because I love mountains and the music there is amazing. Plus I know from past experience that the light there is good for taking screenshots. We started chatting and I’m sure I sounded completely ridiculous because I was quite starstruck. Navimie! Visiting me! And there were no guildies on for me to squeeee about it to.
We talked a bit about RP, which is always kind of strange for me. I often times don’t know how people will react to RP people and if they believe the stereotypes, like that we don’t know how to play the game or that we’re just interested in eRP or that we’re weirdos with no life outside of our fantasy world, but Navi seemed very cool and curious about it. I was all flustered, so I’m sure I wasn’t making sense, but it was fun to talk about all the same. I seem to remember that one of the reasons I started blogging was to be a good representative for the RP community, so this was very nice for me.
I probably should have summoned her on Koralie as well, since my pally has more fun toys than Fayasha does, but it didn’t even occur to me until after she had logged. But all the same, it was such a nice thing, and it actually totally made my day.
Thank you Navimie! I’m so glad I got to meet you “in person.” :)
When I decided to try to get into blogging again, I spent a lot of time lurking on other blogs before getting up the courage to start commenting. And when I saw Navimie’s post showing off a tauren druid chibi, I both had to comment on the cuteness and get one for my very own.
The art that Sleepingfox does was just way to good to pass up. And so I had her do chibis of my two mains, Koralie and Fayasha. I absolutely can’t believe the level of detail she got in there, especially considering how crappy the screenies I sent her were. I’m so unbelievably thrilled with these and seriously resisting the urge to commission her to do chibis for more of my toons…and my friend’s toons…
Seriously. These completely made my day.
Koralie is wearing my favorite transmog for her and what I like to call her crazy punk armor set. I just love the striped stockings on it, and Sleepingfox captured the loot of the set perfectly. She also got Koralie’s slightly mischievous expression too.
Fayasha is wearing T11 because I think it’s one of the most beautiful druid tiers ever. I’m excited to start transmogging to that now that we’re going to be out of Cata soon. Sleepingfox caught the introspective and visionary expression that I tend to think Fayasaha must have most of the time. And the staff. <3<3
So happy and excited! Sleepingfox, you are amazing!
The other day, someone asked me about my gravatar picture, so I thought I should probably give some credit where it’s due and also show off the entire thing.
The picture is of my paladin, Koralie, and it’s drawn by my good friend Sapheire. As I mentioned the other day, my paladin has been involved with an RP storyline that has been going on for about three and a half years. Saph writes the DK in that story, and along with being a great writer, she’s an amazing artist as well. She’s been nice enough to draw Koralie a few times over the years, and this particular drawing is one of my favorites.
Saph totally nailed her looks and personality perfectly in this drawing. I loves it.
I’ve always referred to Koralie as being my punk-rock pally, and there’s a very good reason for that. While I got into this briefly on my characters page, I’m proud of this character and wanted to feature her on her own.
Usually I’m not a fan of paladin type classes in RPGs. I tend to gravitate towards things like rangers and druids and thieves instead. Running around in heavy plate armor and calling down on holy power was absolutely never appealing to me. I had very little interest in playing a pally in WoW because of this. In fact, I think the paladin was the seventh class I tried to play, with only the warrior and DK left untouched behind it. I even tried playing a priest before I tried a paladin.
Wrath was a good time for paladins though, and my guild decided to launch a blood knight storyline that I decided I really wanted to be part of for whatever reason. Maybe because they looked cool on their chargers wearing their tabards. Maybe because I had pretty much failed at roleplaying on my druid. Maybe because I just wanted to have a good excuse to play a blood elf without feeling guilty about wanting to play the “pretty” race. In any case, I rolled up a paladin, named her Koralie after a French artist that I like, and set out into the world trying to figure out who she was.
When I first started playing around with her, I thought she would be a typical paladin. As I did some more research into the blood knights though, I realized I could do something more interesting with her. I started thinking it might be interesting to play a paladin that wasn’t just a typical lawful good personality. I wondered if I could even pull off such a thing in a believable way. And I wondered what it would take to have a character with more neutral tendencies turn into a holy knight (remember I was playing her in Wrath after they stopped doing the whole “suck a naaru dry” thing).
As I often do, I looked to people in my real life for inspiration, this time an old boyfriend of mine from college. He was decidedly a punk. Looked like a punk, acted like a punk, had very punk beliefs and tendencies. And yet, he was in the army. When I first met him, it had a lot of trouble understanding these two sides of him. He seemed like the last person in the world who would want to enlist, considering his general distaste for authority. Eventually one day I asked him about that, and his answer was simple, but made perfect sense.
“I lived about ten blocks from the World Trade Center when the planes hit it,” he said. “I woke up and walked outside and saw the fire and watched them fall. I had to do something.”
So writing a paladin with punk tendencies seemed more that possible. After all, I knew one in real life. When pushed by horrible external events, they can be faced to adapt in spite of their long-held beliefs.
And so that’s what I did with Koralie. She’s a rebellious woman who spent her life on the wrong side of Silvermoon’s law and then lost everything when the Lich King attacked Quel’Thalas and destroyed it and the civilization that the high elves knew. The character that I started playing in Wrath had only just begun to drag herself out of a depression that defined her for several years. When she managed to feel something again, what she felt was anger and an overwhelming need to pay the Lich King back. She was extensively trained by her father during her childhood to become a ranger, and she had absolutely no desire to follow in his footsteps. And so the blood knights were the best way for her to have her revenge.
Over time, Koralie’s character had taken on a life of her own with the help of regular RP from Saph, whose DK is Koralie’s closest friend and an integral part of her story. Having a DK friend might not seem the most appropriate thing for a paladin, but despite being a knight, Koralie retains much of her “eff what authority and society says I should do,” personality. And we’ve written some epic scenes for them, including one telling the story of the final battle against the Lich King at the Frozen Throne. To this day, it’s probably one of my favorite things that I’ve written.
Creating a compelling character made me want to play Koralie as well, and I discovered while playing her that I vastly prefer playing a melee dos class to a caster or ranged. Though my druid is my primary main, Koralie is my favorite toon. I obsess about her DPS and transmog and mounts, and chances are if I’m doing something in-game that isn’t healing a raid or leveling an alt, I’m probably playing Koralie. Though the druid will be leveled first in Mists, Koralie won’t be far behind, and I hope to have her hit 90 before the end of Brewfest.
One day I hope to take Koralie out of WoW and develop a whole new world for her basic character and story and write an actual book. I’ve already probably written a thousand pages about her, and I’d really like to see where her story would go outside of Azeroth. We’ll see! I’m pretty awful at world building, but in this case, it might just be worth a shot.
Once upon a time when I first started playing WoW, I mentioned to my friend and WoW mentor, Mikoh, that I thought kodos were kind of stupid looking and that I wished I could ride around on a wolf instead. He assured me that this was possible, but it would be annoying since I had to get to exalted with Orgrimmar. But he mentioned that I could also get one doing PvP and that it would be “a lot easier.” Then he asked me if I wanted to do Warsong Gulch so I could start earning up the marks I would need to buy a wolf mount. I said sure, because I’m vain about things like mounts. And so, unknowingly, I threw myself to…well…the wolves.
I should stop right here to say that while I’ve always been pretty good at video games, my skills go right out the window when it comes to playing against other people, unless it’s in puzzle games or rhythm games or Mario Kart. In fact, I am so bad at player versus player stuff that I’m pretty sure my badness got me a boyfriend while I was in college because he took pity on me while trying to play Marvel vs. Capcom and sat behind me with his hands over mine on the controller, trying to show me what the hell to do. My friend once knifed me to death playing Goldeneye because I was so bad at it. Seriously. I’m awful.
So going into Warsong Gulch with only remedial WoW skills and horrendous PvP skills was a painful thing. But it was still fun. Kind of. I mean I was a druid, so I could be a pretty good flag carrier, especially since I had my friend defending me the whole time. I thought that maybe I could get good at this, if I practiced more.
Around this time, I was looking on Wowhead and saw a wolf mount that I really liked. I told Mikoh that the Frostwolf Howler was pretty and he assured me that as soon as we were at a high enough level, we would start queuing for Alterac Valley so I could get my mount.
Did I mention that this was right around when Wrath launched?
So at level 58, we queued up for this battleground. I had no idea what the point of it was, but I didn’t hate Warsong Gulch or Arathi Basin. Surely this couldn’t be that bad.
Except…a month after Wrath launched, Alterac Valley was filled with one thing.
Death knights with death grip.
Death knights with death grip with very nice armor that they got from their starting zone.
Death knights with death grip with very nice armor that they got from their starting zone that were still at that point totally OP.
GNOME death knights with death grip with very nice armor that they got from their starting zone that were still at that point totally OP.
I died. A lot. I died a lot to the point where it wasn’t even fun. Sure, I understood that PvP meant dying a lot, but I was literally getting ripped from one gnome death knight to the next every time I rezzed. It got so unfun that I eventually told Mikoh that I could do without the wolf and vowed to never set foot in that place again.
A year or so later, I was playing my paladin a lot and decided I had to get the violet protodrake for her. She was my miner, after all, so that 310% mount would be very handy. So I started working through the achievements, hating the PvP ones and generally cursing about them. Once I completed School of Hard Knocks, I pretty much stated in no uncertain terms that if I ever PvPed again, it would be a sign of the apocalypse.
And then came the Cataclysmic set. Never before had I seen such an amazing set of paladin armor. The details…the style…the giant metal boots and non-matching shoulders. The broken halo. It had to be mine.
I promptly forgot about wanting that armor and only about a month ago realized, crap. I had wanted to convert valor to conquest so I could get it and had totally slacked off on running randoms and LFR to get them. And though I didn’t think that Blizz would remove it come Mists there’s always that possibility. They sometimes do weird things with PvP gear. So I started working harder at collecting the points. I realized if I wanted to get everything before the expansion, I had to do some actual PvP to get it. So my friend crafted me the healie pvp stuff and I reluctantly queued up for a random. It wasn’t quite as terrible as I remember, but it still wasn’t fun. I decided again that PvP wasn’t for me and figured I would just collect as much of the set as I could by doing PvE.
Then one night after a raid, the Alliance started to attack Orgrimmar. Usually I just ignore them, but a couple of my guildies decided to get involved, and so on a whim I switched to my holy spec and shiny new PvP gear that I hadn’t really used for actual PvP.
And…and I had fun. It was fun swooping in to drop a Lay on Hands on my friend when he was about to die. It was fun standing in the back while the two of them killed the people who were trying to kill me. It was fun eventually chasing the Alliance halfway to the Barrens and “winning” the battle for the night.
I had no idea what to make of this.
Last week I realized I was just 100 conquest short of being able to pick up my chest piece, so I shrugged and queued up for a random battleground again. We won. There was actually teamwork. Chat wasn’t filled with swearing or douchbaggery. I glanced at the scoreboard at the end and….holy crap, I had topped it on healing? What the hell was going on? I don’t like playing as holy OR doing PvP!
So I queued again. This time it was Twin Peaks. We won it in about 5 minutes, netting me an achievement. My heart was pumping and I immediately queued again and got…
In a stunning turn of events, we lost horribly and I decided I was done for the night, but something really odd was happening. I kept thinking about PvP. In fact, after I logged off I started looking for information about gemming and PvP holy builds. I signed back into WoW to tinker around with my UI to make it work better. Then I decided that I’d officially gone mad and went to bed. Because I hate PvP, right?
The next day the same thing happened. I queued, we won, and I think I did pretty well. People were staying alive anyway, and I wasn’t dying too much. I started to remember to use some of my awesome pally tricks to stay alive longer. And since I’m healing, I don’t really care when I do die. I’m a healer. That shield on my back is actually a giant bullseye. Of course people are going to kill me. But man is it fun to annoy them to hell and make fights drag on and on until my teammates show up to defend me. My personal moment of victory? When a gnome death knight could not kill me no matter what he tried. I was sitting at my desk giggling like an evil villain the entire time.
So…I guess I like PvP? I don’t have any other explanation for why I’m sitting here reading up on strats for all of these battlegrounds that I swore I didn’t care about. I just thought I should give you all fair warning. If I’m having fun PvPing, the end of the world must be just around the corner.
Posted in Shared Topics, tagged childhood, fiction, imagination, mayapples aren't actually magical but i like to pretend that they are, sense of self, shared topics, writing on August 15, 2012 | 5 Comments »
How has WoW changed your life?
When I first started playing this game, I was not exactly in a happy place. I won’t get into the reasons why as looking back on it they sound somewhat trivial, but I had an overwhelming feeling of loss of sense of self. Too many things in my life had changed, and I wasn’t happy about most of them. And so while I downloaded WoW on a whim one day, looking back on it I had a very set goal.
For as long as I can remember, I have loved imagination. While I had plenty of amazing toys as a kid, my absolute favorite thing to do was make up different worlds and characters within them to in which to play. Some of this would be at school during recess where my friends and I made up a game about a secret world beyond a gate (that I think might have been between two posts of a basketball net) that could only be opened with a special key. For the life of me, I can’t remember the details of this world, but I remember it kept us occupied for at least a year. When I got home from school, I had another world that I made up in the woods behind my house, and I would spend hours playing out there alone. I was that kid running around in the woods, pretending that the fruit from the mayapple was magic or that the leaves from jewelweed had the power to cure more than the mosquito bites my legs often had. Fallen trees became elaborate bases, and the space between where the roots from them pulled up the earth became entrances to caves where vicious geredins (which I remember being something like goblins) lived. I’m not kidding when I say that this world occupied me for years, though it wasn’t something I ever remember telling anyone other than my brother about.
Growing up means you often stop “playing pretend” and so as a teen I would write instead, whether it was terrible poetry or fantasy stories about characters I made up. I remember one afternoon when I was a senior in high school when my boyfriend came over and we took a walk in the woods. I started telling him about the games I played back there, and he surprised me by saying something along the lines of, “That sounds fun, why did you stop?” And then he picked up a stick and pretended it was a sword, and suddenly we were running through the woods, pretending we were on an adventure, even though we were “too old” for that sort of thing.
Going to college in a city made such possibilities feel even more remote for me, though I was lucky that D.C. still had some good woods that I could go running in and feel some kind of peace. I wasn’t playing anymore, but I would still tell myself stories as I vaulted over trees or danced across rocks in creeks. A friend and I had an idea for a video game that we worked on building the world for, and I wrote pages and pages of stories about it before my course load got too demanding and I had to focus on that instead. But I was still okay, because I was studying graphic design and I could be creative, if in a different way.
After college, I moved to New York and fell in love with Brooklyn, where I was perfectly happy to embrace the life of…Okay I don’t want to call myself a hipster, but it’s more or less accurate. I heard about this game called World of Warcraft, and it sounded interesting but dangerous. I knew that games like Everquest had the tendency to suck the life away from people, and I was trying to establish myself in this new place and make new friends. I went out to punk shows. I played old school video games at an awesome bar called Barcade. I adopted the most amazing dog in the world and spent time in the dog park with her. I snowboarded a lot, getting me into the mountains and out of the city. I was really happy. I could be creative at work and then go write in my livejournal about my real life adventures when I got home.
But then things happened. I moved to a place I didn’t like. Life changed a lot and not in ways that made me happy. I was feeling really lonely, not because I lacked friends, but because I felt like I lost some part of myself. At the time, I couldn’t quite figure out what that was.
So when I downloaded WoW for the first time, it wasn’t that I was looking for a massively multiplayer online game to play. I just wanted an RPG to escape to, and low and behold, I could actually play on my Mac. I zoned into Teldrassil for that first time and just spent five minutes staring at it. It looked so familiar to me. It looked like that world that I had imagined so many years ago. It caught my imagination from the start, and I knew whatever else, I wanted to be able to write about that world.
After restarting as a tauren to play with my friend, I set about finding myself an RP guild. I didn’t realize then that RP on Argent Dawn was dying. After a few months of searching, I found myself a guild that I felt I could get along with after spending a month lurking on their forums. I went to their RP events as I worked on leveling up my druid, though I had trouble RPing on her. I could still write stories about her adventures and I did. When my guild decided to do some Blood Knight specific RP, I rolled up a paladin too, even though I never like that class. I came up with a personality for her that I could deal with, and started attending the events, even though I still felt shy and like I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. After an event one night in Brill, I went to Undercity, thinking I would check the AH there for some gear before logging off for the night. I happened to run into some people from my guild, still playing in character and got into a conversation with a death knight.
Almost four years later and we’re still writing that conversation.
Suddenly, I had a character to write about again and a world to play in that wasn’t real. I’ve written thousands (really) of pages about this character and this world. I’ve made up my own lore for things that Blizzard hasn’t fleshed out. I have an entire cast of characters with their own personalities and stories. And best of all, I have someone to share all of this with. As much fun as it was playing alone all those years, having a person to bounce ideas off of and write with has been amazing as well.
I happier now because I have a creative outlet again. I have somewhere to send my mind to when I can’t sleep because I’m stressed out about grown up things like bills and money. Dealing with loss has been easier for me because I have somewhere to send that grief that isn’t just internalizing it. As much as I love raiding and questing and collecting random things, I doubt I would still be playing this game if it weren’t for both my amazing friends and the world that my imagination has to play in. It’s not so much that it’s changed my life as that it’s given me back something that I hadn’t realized I lost. It’s let me be myself again.
Post script: While many of the responses to this topic are amazing, there’s one I want to mention in particular. This post on Confessions of a Grown Up Gamer is a must read. It made me cry, but it shows exactly what is right with World of Warcraft.