It's beginning to look a lot like...

...I actually know what to do with a kitchen of my own. Also, Christmas, of course. xD

The past few days I've been on kind of a baking kick--here we have the latest results:

On the left, we have a variation on my dad's ohmygoshsoyummy chocolate chip cookies--I think the recipe he sent me called for a little too much molasses, and I only made things worse by melting the butter so I could stir it in more easily. To make up for the horrific gooeyness, I ended up adding a whole extra cup of flour, and then an extra quarter cup of sugar to sweeten it. The end result was a cookie with a much milder flavor and firmer texture than my dad's, but pretty tasty nonetheless. It was also a little less greasy than usual, and I think it will hold up pretty well in Jon's lunch today--we'll have to see. ;)

The chocolate chips were Hershey's Special Dark, and I had trouble not just eating them out of the bag... yummy!

On the right, we have the remains of a small batch of cornbread muffins I made to go with dinner last night--I had a box of Jiffy corn muffin mix sitting around, so I used that, but I added an extra quarter cup of sugar to get the sweet crust on top (noticing a trend here? hehe) and followed the suggestion on the box to let them sit for four minutes so the muffins would puff up nicely. I think they turned out pretty well--they were sweet enough that we skipped the honey and just put butter on them.

As for Christmas-y stuff, here's a picture of our tree. It's the same artificial we used last year, minus about half the ornaments so it doesn't look quite as overloaded, and I found a tree topper that doesn't make it bend over! It's an oven mitt type thing shaped like a gingerbread girl, which I think goes pretty well with our "peppermint" theme.

I can't wait til Jon's mother gets back from Utah, I have a feeling baking cookies with her is going to be really fun this year. :)

Allods online, a new world!

I take it upon myself to write this post, as every time Kate tried to she'd log on to get a nice screenshot and realize there was a quest or two nearby she wanted to do, and five or six quests later just shrug and forget about the blog post.

The TL:DR version; play the game already, geez.

So, here we are. To give you an idea of how the game looks, here are a few screenshots.

The top picture is of the Empire Capital, the character in the foreground is an Arisen Savant. Cyborg undead. Coolest. Thing. Ever. When you use the /sleep emote on an Arisen character, they get a pneumatic, powered coffin that closes around them. Everybody else just lays down. I have provided a picture of Isyris, Kate's Arisen Heretic, inside her coffin, down below.

It's a Russian game, here is a picture of some of the Russian that appears, as it's still in closed beta they probably haven't translated everything perfectly over yet.

This picture here is of the League starting area, an island you are transported to after a demonic attack on the magic tower where you start the game. It's quite idyllic, actually, except for the shipwrecks of mutineers and necromancers.

This shot is as you are being transported off the island, rescued from marooning, really, the elf in the picture is Kate's Elven Priest, by the name of Rue. And below Rue are my three little Gibberling Seers (from bottom to top) Viskar, Suzie and Hobbes, shaking their stuff with a /flex emote.

So, the pictures are to capture some interest in the game visually, now I'll discuss how it plays. Quite well, actually. It's easy to transition from WoW to this game as there are similarities in the interface; many emotes are the same, key bindings, menu layouts are similar in many ways.

The gameplay is smooth and less fast-paced and intense than WoW; there are some bugs in the system, but once again, a game that's in closed beta is that way for a reason.

Kate and I both like it because it integrates things we like in World of Warcraft, namely ease of communication with fellow characters, and an emphasis on party and group dynamics while still allowing a character alone to accomplish things, but it also has some things in it that WoW lacks, like a more relaxed battle system and more customizability in characters (the creation options are much more varied than WoW).

We recommend this game for people who are looking to get into online gaming, as it's got a nice solo introduction into the game but leaves you feeling like you are accomplishing something with every quest. In WoW, the quest to kill 10 boars in the beginning is basically "because there's too many of them," while in Allods the quest to kill 10 rats for the Empire is so that you can test the effect of the stress that battle has to find out why you weren't ripped to shreds by a teleporter.

Oh yes, did I forget to mention that? The storytelling in allods is actually quite impeccable, they put emotion and feeling into the quests by giving each non-player character (NPC) personality and interesting dialogue. A quest that comes easily to mind is a quest in which an innkeeper's husband has died and she asks you to talk to potential suitors to see if they are interested. Instead of going the grieving widow route, the game takes the route of "okay, who can I get hitched to that'll be good for the inn." She's looking for a sugar daddy, and many of the "potential suitors" respond in ways ranging from mild disgust to amusement.

So in conclusion, download the game and play it if you can, for heaven's sakes, and if you wanna find out how to download it, ask Kate or I, the thing's gonna be free to play anyway.
Here's a link to the website to get a beta key: Allods Online w/the Zam Network


The Proud Family Tradition Continues!

The moment of truth arrived today, in a cold dark room in the Salem Hospital. An old Finnish woman waved her magic scepter about, and wondrous pictures appeared on a screen.

The picture up above is the one that shows us what gender the baby is. For those of you who do not know how to read Ultrasounds or know what to look for, It's a Girl! That's right, the Guppy's now going to be Gerda Rose (but you can all call her Rosie). Here's another good picture, this one showing the head at the right, and a good view of the ribcage and torso.

We're very much looking forward to our new baby, Kate and I.


Happy Halloween (from the three of us!)

Our WoW-time hasn't been so much busy as boring lately--we haven't even been playing much, though we at least got the in-game Halloween stuff done. That Troll of mine is level 80 and re-named (finally!), Jon's been working on leveling a Troll Shaman (hmm, I sense a theme here), and we've been missing most of the guild's raids in order to spend more time together and with family in real life.

After all, real life is where the real excitement is right now: I felt the baby move for the first time yesterday!

I was lying on my back after taking a nap, I woke up with a funny feeling in my belly and wondered if I would be able to feel the baby (I'd been trying for a couple weeks, but the little one was still, well, little) so I put my hands down there for a minute, and tried to get a feel for anything that wasn't just my own pulse. I held very still, and I did feel something, a gentle little bump against my hand and a light fluttery feeling on the inside! I felt the same thing a couple other times, and a few times without my hand over the exact spot, but I still wasn't totally convinced. After all, I'd been wanting to feel the baby move for a while now, I could be just imagining it. I texted Jon at work that I thought I'd felt the baby move, then called my mom for her advice. (She'd never felt the baby as early as 16 weeks, though, so that just made me more confused. :P)

This afternoon, though, I felt the bumping again...and I guess the baby was getting a little antsy and feeling like I was ignoring him/her, because it was even stronger and there was definitely no mistaking it this time! I already knew I had a wiggly little guy in there, I guess now he/she is letting me know that they want to play soccer when they get a little older? ;)

And speaking of he-or-she, only a little while now until we know for sure...hopefully. We've got an ultrasound scheduled for Monday morning, and either Jon or I will be posting the new pictures and letting you guys know when we know for sure--so if you want to make a prediction, now's the time!

I know Katie thinks it's a boy from the craving I've had for steak, and Jon's mom thinks so too (though I can't remember what her reason was). Naajaku from our guild asked about spicy foods (Thai yes, Mexican no) and then proclaimed it to be a boy as well.

No one's predicted a girl yet, but there's evidence on that side, too--I was apparently just as squirmy when my mom was pregnant with me (though I certainly didn't kick so hard), and not only are the oldest kids in Jon and my families female, all of his siblings that have had kids so far had girls first.

What do you think it will be? Vote in the poll on the right if you want to guess, and let me know why you think so in the comments! :D

Five things I love today!

5. "Kid food." I'm not sure how to describe this other than as that category of foods that even a picky third-grader will be happy to eat. PB&J sandwiches, carrot sticks, apples, cheese sticks, strawberry-kiwi juice, and cold cereal. I went really nuts with the sandwiches (like I said in the comments on my last post) and we're out of bread now. T_T

4. This seahorse plushie toy. It's just adorable! Someone on the What To Expect message boards had a picture of one in her signature, and when I found it at the store it was just as cute in person. Actually, I'm more in love with the pink version, so I'm waiting until we find out the baby's gender to pick one up. And if it's a girl, I found this pink seahorse bedding while trying to find a picture. Hmm... ;)

3. The ladies on the What To Expect message board for April 2010. It's so nice to be able to talk to women who are going through the same part of pregnancy that I am, and they're all super-friendly and nice. I think most of us are past the panicking every other minute stage, so it's fairly relaxing now, too.

2. Cute maternity clothes. I've been checking out a bunch online and I'm feeling a bit more positive about when I'll eventually have to switch over from my normal clothes. (I'm not showing quite yet.) Also this seems like it will be very useful. I'm actually a little bit excited for maternity wear now that I know I won't be a shapeless blob hiding in my apartment all day. (I'll be a shapely blob hiding in my apartment all day. I want my energy back!)

1. My wonderful husband, of course! Jon still thinks I'm beautiful no matter how ugly and bloated and queasy I feel, he's patient with me even if I don't have the energy to get out of bed until lunchtime and end up making mac 'n' cheese for dinner again, and he loves me even when I get one of my crazy mood swings and snap at him for no reason. He's just as excited about the little one as I am, and already talks to it sometimes (though I'm pretty sure that at 13wks he/she is still too young to pay much attention). I love this man so much!


Well, good.

The Guppy is happy, healthy, and a little squirmy. (He/she even waved at us for the ultrasound!) Made the doctors work to get the view they wanted. Here are some of the more choice pictures.

The first one, I think, makes the Guppy look like Skeletor:

The second picture is a nice cute profile view that affords an excellent view of the Guppy's brain and spine. This is the view they were trying to get--it took nearly an hour until the baby squirmed into the right position. Looks good to me!

The third picture, near as we can tell, is an overhead shot. Maybe? I don't know, but once again, a good view of the Guppy. Some of the other pictures that weren't printed out had good shots of the arms, legs, etc so we know that the Guppy is well-formed.


What a night!

Tuesdays are raid nights, specifically 25-mans. I've been really pumped for raiding this week, since thanks to an enchanter guildie coming along for several runs of regular Trial of the Champion, I finally have my pretty, pretty axe enchanted with Berserking. (Yay!)

Anyway, it was a pretty crazy night. We started out with Onyxia, nearly wiped when about a third of the raid got DC'd by whelps and hit by Deep Breath (I think that's her special combo attack), and somehow managed to one-shot her anyway. Jon ended up tanking in phase three after Ony tore through the rest of the tanks (he was assigned to whelps, but luckily we didn't get any after she landed) while I switched over to using my Maelstrom Weapon procs for Chain Heals and doing as much damage as I could at the same time. It was crazy, fun, and I did die twice, but it was totally worth it to see the look on Jon's face when the Sharpened Obsidian Edged Blade dropped. He's been crazy about that model since forever, he says, and it was a huge improvement over his current weapon. He was a little nervous (running-into-walls panicky) because one of the newer raiders had higher loot priority, but it turned out the guy didn't have the minimum EP required to roll on loot, and so Jon won the sword and had it enchanted almost immediately. Grats!

25-man ToC was next, and since we had a few people who hadn't been in there before, it did take a couple wipes before we got the Beasts encounter down. (I love that Icehowl is skinnable!) The rest of the raid was much smoother--we one-shotted Jaraxxus and I got to upgrade my necklace to a shiny new ilevel 245 one with no yucky Armor Penetration on it. (Of course, I spent most of that fight face-down on the floor with the rogues, as someone didn't think to move his Legion Flames away from us.) Faction Champions we also got down in one attempt, though a very long one (time for two Bloodlusts /shame), and Twin Val'kyr took two. Anub'arak we one-shotted, and a couple mail pieces dropped--a sidegrade belt that I passed on, and some sexy pants with Armor Penetration. I did think about rolling on them (I still had high priority since the necklace was cheap) but we had a couple Hunters in the raid, and there's got to be someone similar without the ArPen for me, right?

We finished up with VoA, and there's not much to say about that, except...


It dropped off Koralon, and somehow I rolled 100 (which has happened maybe once before in my entire time of playing WoW) and no one else did even though I was sure they would and I had my fingers crossed under the desk and I won it!

The raid leader offered to buy it from me, but by that point I'd already used it and was babbling excitedly to Jon about how I'd always wanted a passenger mount and how I couldn't wait to get outside and use it. I'll admit that the rest of the raid was kind of a blur...

(I wouldn't have sold it anyway, though. I've seen the mount drop only twice, and there's no way I'd ever win it again. You just can't give up that kind of opportunity, and besides, now I can give my friends' lowbie toons rides when I run them through stuff!)

I also managed to finally get up to Revered with the Knights of the Ebon Blade (though that wasn't a raid drop, so it doesn't quite fit this post) before crawling into bed and falling asleep. It was a good night. :D


Turtle Sunday

If I could, I'd tame a Druid. Not just because it would be really, really awesome--I'd want a pet Druid because at least he'd be able to tank.

Hawrt is only two levels below me, but can't tank at all. I had a black raptor to match my mount, and he didn't do much better. Normally this wouldn't be too much of a problem, but I've been a bit spoiled in the past--both of my level 80 toons quested with Jon's tanks, and I've gotten used to being able to take on any quest mob I run into, elites included. Schen has been leveling up with Jon's Warlock, though, and it makes me feel very, very squishy.

So, Sunday afternoon after the two of us had barely managed to take down Ragemane, my Troll set off on a quest to find a new pet--one who could tank.

was my starting point, of course, and I settled on a rare bear named Ursol'lok because the name caught my eye. When I got to Ashenvale he was nowhere to be found, though, and I was getting impatient. I wanted to get back to questing so I could hit 75 and go do the Brewfest boss. I was about to give up and tame a normal, boring bear when I remembered that BFD wasn't too far away. Maybe a turtle or a crab would be a better choice... after all, I'd heard good things about Shell Shield.

Ten minutes later I had a shiny new green turtle named Desdemona.

I've specced her for heavy tanking--the next couple points I get will go into Pet Barding and Taunt--at the expense of any damage-increasing talents. I'm hoping that Misdirect and her Growl will be enough to keep threat, and I don't plan on using her in any AoE situations so Thunderstomp shouldn't be needed. So far I've only needed her for normal questing, and she certainly has not been taking much damage, so I'm feeling optimistic. I'm excited to see how she does against elites.

Meanwhile, she's been growing on me. I didn't expect to like a turtle--they're big and clunky and ugly, and my ideal Tenacity pet is still my Night Elf's ghost hydra--but she's got personality. Maybe it's just the ridiculous name. Whatever it is, I did something I've never tried before and spent about an hour yesterday customizing her emotes with the PetEmote Editor, since the default options didn't really do her justice.

I may be a little crazy, but at least I'm having fun! :)


To The Asshat Outside My Window:

Yep, you woke me up. Kudos, I guess. Check that one off on your Dickwad Bingo card.

It's all right though, I understand. It's hard to find something interesting to do at three in the morning. It's not as if the liquor store across the street is open all night, or there's a Denny's in the area. And don't worry, I know sleep isn't even an option--with your IQ, you'd probably just choke to death on your own drool. I totally get why you'd feel the need to hang out under my window shouting profanities at your buddy for nearly an hour, then amuse yourself by trying to wake up "the people in the apartment with the window cracked open, lolz." I even get why your friend sticks around with you, drunk, pill-popping, maggot-brained delinquent though you are: Huge asshole, big mouth... Let's just say I'd be careful about what I drink if I were you.

No, I didn't call the cops. I'm the understanding sort, remember? You would have just run away into the bushes like the scared little rabbit you are, anyway. I'd run too if I'd been stealing and ingesting my mom's hormone supplements. No, instead I lay there and attempted to get on with the sort of things that I like to do at three in the morning: Sleep, not have a headache, etc. Obviously my attempts failed, probably because I'm not quite such a determined and charismatic individual as you. It might have worked better if I had attempted to inflict my sleeping upon the whole neighborhood, but I digress.

Instead of sleeping, I decided to be productive, and come up with something fun I could do to while away the long minutes next time you and your special friend decided to visit. I scratched my head, and I stretched my toes, and I came up with a lot of really fun ideas! Unfortunately, there would probably be legal consequences for offering free, laxative-laced cookies or installing a giant live-capture trap, so I was forced to examine options further down my list. I was planning on going with a giant print of goatse, lit up in my window for all to see, but then I remembered that my husband has a very delicate disposition, so that idea had to go. Besides, I wouldn't want you vomiting on the sidewalk (any more than you already have, at least). After much thought, I finally settled upon a solution I'm sure you will agree is classy, charming, and quite agreeable (much like yourself).

This morning, soon as the sun rises, I shall be paying a visit to the local Goodwill. Specifically, I will be looking for the largest speakers they have (though of course I won't purchase anything under three feet tall, so I may have to turn to Craigslist).

I will install them facing my window. I will wait. I will be ready.

You will come, I know you will. You will be loud, boorish, and utterly obnoxious.

And then, my fine young man-child, I will introduce you to my good friend Mr. Astley.


No new news.

Yay! We just got back from the doctor's office, and the Guppy's heartbeat sounds good and strong! There was even a little market there where we got some excellent plums and cherry tomatoes afterward, so I got to see a big, happy smile on Kate's face all the way home.

It's been a good day today. In WoW news, nothing too exciting, the guild seems to be caught up on General Vezax in Ulduar, although 10-man Trial of the Crusader we've gotten cleared through. Maybe someday I'll even get a new shiny pair of boots.

I've been playing some other games, too, most notably one called "League of Legends." This one's still in the Beta process (ooh, my first closed beta!) It's just recently been ... well, I can talk about it now without the thugs coming to break my kneecaps. It's based on the Warcraft III Defense of the Ancients map type, one that's been very popular, and I've even had fun playing it before now. The heroes all look very fun, with unique characterization, looks, skills and voices; the only catch, oddly enough, is that it's an online game.

Most of the appeal with online is playing with friends. Random people online are rude, inconsiderate, unintelligent and often unskilled. This comes from around 12 years of experience playing online games (remember, just because someone is up to Jedi rank in X-Wing vs TIE Fighter doesn't mean they can play like a Jedi.)

That's all I wanna say for right now, maybe next time I'll tell you about my first impressions of Tales of Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal.


One Night In Ulduar

One night in Ulduar makes a Shaman humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Ulduar and the melee tumbles
Can't be too careful with your company
XT dropped a Gravity Bomb next to me

"Kate, wake up!"

"Mmph...g'way...Nesingwary Moon Laser...grmph."

"We're doing Ulduar and we need you to come DPS. Wake UP!"

"Gimme back my blankets!"

"No. Now get up and go get a drink while I log you in."

Grumble, grumble. "Fine. Hate you."

"Okay, the computer's ready. Just hop on vent and let them know you're logged in."

Stare blankly at screen.

"Guys, Tana's on, go ahead and invite her!"

Minutes pass.

"Tana, are you going to log on?"

"'m logged on 'ready."

"That's funny, I don't see you online..."


"What was that?"


"What do you mean you're not in the guild??"

Grumble. Accept guild invite. Accept raid invite. Accept summon.

"Okay, now the first boss is Flame Leviathan. Everyone knows this fight, so we're going to be trying it with four towers up. Demolishers tanks choppers cannon pyrite Leviathan BOOM!"


"Uh, guys, she hasn't done this fight before."

"Just have her get in your siege engine and shoot stuff."

Okay, shooting stuff I can handle.

"Autobots, transform and roll out!"


We're all gonna die.


I should probably take this opportunity to confess: I consider myself a raider, if not especially hardcore, but until last night I had seen the inside of Ulduar once. It was on my Hunter, back before bombs were nerfed so they wouldn't go off during XT-002's Tympanic Tantrum, and it was a miserable wipe-fest. I was brought in because it was a pure melee group, then kicked because I couldn't solo all of the adds before they reached the boss.

I cleared 10-man ToC with Jon's guild before setting foot in Ulduar again. Yes, I skipped an entire tier of raiding.

Last night was a great opportunity to get caught up, and I had a blast:

Flame Leviathan was much more fun that I expected from the whiny descriptions I'd heard in Trade Chat right after Ulduar was released. I got to ride up top in the gunner's turret of the siege engine Jon was piloting, and since my biggest complaint about vehicle combat is the steering, I really enjoyed myself. I'm a Hunter, I shoot things. Okay, so I was actually on my Shaman, but I had fun, darnit. We ended up going for two towers instead of four, but it was still fun.

Next up was XT-002 Deconstructor, my old nemesis. He was surprisingly weak compared to what I remembered, and no one died to bombs. We didn't quite have the DPS to try for hardmode, but I'm not complaining.

Razorscale was fun in a crazy sort of way. I was told to focus on the "big shirtless dudes" and had a bit of trouble figuring out which dwarves had shirts on and which ones didn't. They're made of metal, it's tricky! I cheated and spent my time interrupting the casters instead. <.<

--This is the part where Blogger ate half of my post so the next couple boss descriptions are going to be short cause I don't want to write everything out again.--

Ignis was a big pair of feet with fire everywhere. He didn't seem too complicated, but he picked me up and killed me so I guess it's a hard fight after all. I couldn't even use my healthstone. :(

Assembly of Iron (which I shall refer to as the Three Bears) we tried first on medium-hard mode, which did not go well, and then normal mode, which we somehow survived. Baby Bear turned into a GIANT LIGHTNING SPIDER at the end. 0_o

I was a little behind the rest of the raid when we got to Kologarn, so I didn't get to see him do his pop-up book thing but that was okay because the fight was so FUN! As melee I didn't get to see much of the eye lasers I was warned about, and I didn't have to do anything about the crazy packs of adds, either--all I had to do was beat on his arm til it broke off, then hit him in the stomach for a while until he decided he'd had enough of that and grew his arm back, and then it was back to the arm again. The really fun part was that he and his arm had low enough health that I felt like I was actually making a difference, unlike certain bosses that just take FOREVER to die *cough*Anub'arak*cough*. About halfway through, Jon told me to start using Chain Lightning instead of Lightning Bolt, and thanks to that and the efforts of one of our DPS DKs we killed both arms and the body all at the same time and got a nifty achievement!

Auriaya was a little disappointing after all I'd heard about the crazy cat lady--the pouncing kitties didn't seem to cause much trouble at all. We just stacked up in a corner and went wild. The trash leading up to her made up for it, though--basically you play monkey in the middle with big balls of lightning. It's been a long time since trash was fun, and I really enjoyed it.

Hodir was the first of the "big" bosses we did, and he totally beats out Kologarn as my new favorite fight. We wiped on our first attempt--a bunch of people got frozen--but I at least got a nifty achievement for picking up all of the buffs at once. We downed him on our second try, and it was just crazy. I love fights where the positioning really matters, had a ton of fun running in and out and around trying to stand in the spotlights and on the ice and avoid the glowy blue circles. Near the end, I somehow got aggro--scary scary! I held out for a couple seconds, popped my wolves' Twin Howl to taunt him off of me, got him back on me as soon as it wore off, and then the tanks got him off of me and we killed him. It should have been embarrassing, but it felt pretty awesome. I was all RAWR I ARE SHAMAN TANK. :D

Thorim was our last boss of the evening (though I could have kept going much longer), and also pretty fun. It took us a few tries--the arena group was having a lot of trouble and they ended up with six people while the other four of us took the stairs--but we finally got to the part where we could fight the boss. The gauntlet was super fun, especially once I got the hang of the giant fireballs, but Thorim himself was kind of boring. The zappy feet were just confusing, and he didn't seem to have any fun mechanics like Hodir. (And the IN THE MOUNTAINS line was not nearly as epic as I had been lead to believe. They should have had Mr. Smite do his voice!)

Anyway, that's probably as far as I'll get this week--tonight Jon and I are going over to his parents' house to have dinner with the family in celebration of them finally getting rid of his little brother Brian leaving for college (Gratz Bri! :D) and while I'm sure the guild will finish up the rest of Ulduar while we're gone, family stuff comes first.




Things have been going quite a bit better since my last post--Tana is now kitted out in almost full epics (still got a blue ring and trinket in there, but the Meteorite Whetstone is darned sexy), I've been doing 2.5k and up pretty consistently depending on the fight, and I went and bought a helm enchant from the Wintergrasp vendor so I don't feel quite so silly anymore. I've run Vault of Archavon on 25-man, including the new boss (I hate Koralon so much), and was alive when each of the bosses went down. People who died halfway through tried complaining about not getting Bloodlust, and I was able to point out that I was still sated, and so would they be if they didn't suck at not standing in the fire. I mean, I'd never done Kory before, and even I figured it out after our first five wipes. Not that hard.

(Yes, I refer to bosses by cutesy nicknames. I can't imagine how this could possibly come as a surprise to anyone.)

Anyway, while I had trouble breaking 2.5k DPS in there, the fights were rough on melee, and I know that I was doing my best simply because I didn't die and made sure the melee were covered by my totems at all times. I even won some nifty new pants--Elemental stuff, but as the only Shaman remaining, I got them by default, and they're going into my rather minimal healing set for emergencies.

Naxx 10-man was a lot better--I was breaking 3k on some bosses, top 3 for DPS on some of them too--though unfortunately we never made it to Patchwerk so I couldn't get a really fair estimate of my real raid DPS. I still had fun, though, and if the main group hadn't failed so hard at switching on Four Horsemen I would have been able to call myself a real Shaman tank: I was assigned to the back of the room (as Resto of course) and did a pretty good job if I do say so myself. We wiped repeatedly because the front group refused to switch bosses when the tanks did, though, getting up to about 8-9 stacks before dying. We ended up just calling it a night after the third attempt since no one was really awake enough to focus. I'm hoping I get another chance at shammytanking next time, though!

So, now that I'm feeling a bit more positive, here's what I'm looking at:

1. I need a new weapon. Yes, skill > weapon damage (I watched another Enhancement Shaman with Angry Dread barely manage 1.7k DPS--if you're not going to use it, give it to me! <.<) but I feel like I'm reaching the limits of what I can do with Greed and Pride. Besides, I want to replace my weapon chains with Accuracy, and if I'm going to shell out the gold for that, I'd prefer it to be on something that's a little higher quality.

2. I need rep. I was originally going to go Resto at 80, so I'm Exalted with the Wyrmrest Accord, but I never bothered to get my KotEB rep up past Neutral. I've been Enhancement long enough that there's not really any excuse for me not having ground it up to Revered yet--sometime this week I'm going to have to bite the bullet and go do the opener quests.

I'm going to start in Zul'Drak, though, so I can pick up a few stacks of Bitter Plasma for any healers who don't bother to bring drinks and then beg for water. Yummy!

I also need to get my Sons of Hodir reputation up. I'm doing a bit better on that, though, as I'm already nearly to Revered. I killed the Wild Wyrm on my own for the first time today, hooray!

3. Enchants. I've got almost everything covered already, but my cloak and chest still need to get zapped. I just keep forgetting. >.<

4. I want to see if I can tweak my spec to pick up Earthen Power, maybe even just one point. I've been in a few situations, not just PvP, where I could definitely see it being useful. For that matter, my Enhancement spec could probably use a bit of fine-tuning in general--it hasn't changed since I was leveling. I just hope I don't end up having to give up instant Ghost Wolf!


It's a Guppy!

About a month ago we discovered that we are going to have a baby! Kate and I were very excited, but also a little scared and nervous. We made an appointment with a doctor as soon as we could, much thanks to the Salem hospital, btw for sneaking us in and also pushing our appointment back from 8:15 to 1:15 when we asked nicely.

The doctor had good news for us and some good pictures, too, so here they are.

Here's the first picture; the darker area is the womb, and the smaller blotch inside it is the baby.

This second picture is from another angle (the CRL1 and CRL2 at the right of the screen are the measurements of our little one), so far about 16 mm long. From this the doctor deduced that she is about 8 weeks pregnant.

OK, OK, I'll stop now; we wanted lots of pictures, so sue us! But we're very excited, and not at all willing to discuss names until we can at least deduce the gender.

(Note from Kate: It's not going to be named Aragorn, Link, or Samus. We promise.)


Grumpity grump grump.

I'm trying to enjoy my Shaman.

Jon wanted to transfer his pally to Ursin, and I insisted my shammy not be left behind, so I only have myself to blame for it. I feel as if I have to play her more to justify going to the trouble of transferring her.

(Really I just think they're a cute couple and didn't want to split them up.)

It seems like no matter how hard I try, I have trouble breaking 2k DPS. With the number of AoE pulls in Northrend dungeons, its understandable that I lag a bit behind, especially given my gear. I mean, I got my first Emblem of Conquest last night. I still have a green necklace. My gear sucks.

But I think I must suck too. I've seen Enhancement shamans pulling off crazy high DPS. I may just need to use my cooldowns more, and melee positioning is hard so maybe that's the problem (though I don't die, and I have plenty of expertise). I'm pretty sure it just comes down to skill, which I don't have.

I don't even have crazy awesome luck to make up for it, though, like the BM hunter I did yesterday's daily Heroic with. Couldn't break 1k DPS (including pet) to save his life, was not in Viper, and basically had no excuse to fail as hard as he did. He made my barely-2k DPS look good... while the 5k DPS Elemental shaman sat in the back and laughed her tusks off at both of us.

He had Skoll, of course.

Life is horribly, horribly unfair. :(


Raiding with Diabetes

Putting on my serious hat for a little bit (the one with all the ruffles) so I can talk about something important to me.

I have type 1 diabetes--it seems to run in the family. I've made no secret of this to the folks I play with, though it's not the greatest conversation starter. "So, hey, I like to stab myself with needles." Yeah... nope. But because I like to raid, it's important for me to get the information out there. Why?

Most people know about the needles thing (or about insulin pumps), but they know a bit less about diabetes in general, including the effects of an overly high or low blood sugar. It can be a little tricky to manage at the best of times, and since many guilds raid right around dinner time, that's a less than ideal situation. I need to be sure that I will have the support I need if I encounter something I didn't expect in my blood sugar levels, so that I can get up and deal with it immediately.

Raid Times:
Raid time overlapping with dinnertime is the least serious of my concerns, but can still be a problem. I take two kinds of insulin--one that lasts 24 hours and keeps my between-meals blood sugar steady, and one that kicks in very quickly after I eat. If I'm snacking during a raid, it's hard to keep track of how much short-term insulin I need to take, and if I get really distracted, I've been know to forget altogether. Not good! On the other hand, taking half an hour out to cook and eat a full meal isn't really an option, either.

My raid-night solution is to make dinner something that pretty much cooks itself, or takes very little time. I'm not much of a sandwich eater, but bagels and cream cheese with some carrot sticks are always good, as are basic nachos. My favorite is tossing some pasta in to cook with a can of soup--mmm! I also make an effort to estimate how much I'm going to be eating, and take my insulin before I get started. This lets me eat a set amount while I raid (unlike snacking where I don't keep track at all), and helps cut down on the chance of my blood sugar being too high or too low later on in the evening.

High Blood Sugar:
High blood sugar is my second worry. While in the short term it's not too dangerous, it can have long-term consequences as the high sugar levels can be very damaging over time. The solution is easy--take more insulin--but noticing the problem is a bit trickier. Things that I watch out for include headaches, irritability, and drowsiness... if I feel like crap and I know it's not low blood sugar (which has its own set of symptoms), I check my blood sugar. If it's from 150-200, I may wait a few minutes and test again to see if it's going down--if it's over 200, I make an effort to bring my sugar down to normal as quickly as possibly. It's no fun to raid with a crabby Hunter, after all. ;)

Low Blood Sugar:
Low blood sugar is the most immediately dangerous situation, and definitely the least pleasant. I've heard different levels for determining a "low"--anywhere from 70-60 and below--but for me, symptoms start if my blood sugar drops below 80, so that's when I start to treat it as a low. When my blood sugar is low, I may get grumpy and confused. My fingers just don't work right, and I shake all over. Sometimes my speech is slurred or I don't make any sense. I've never passed out, but that's also a risk of low blood sugar.

If my blood sugar drops below normal levels in a raid, there's a chance I may not notice right away--the excitement of downing a boss can cover up the shaking, and playing a Hunter doesn't require too much concentration (just kidding!) While I'm always the best person to catch myself acting odd and check my blood sugar, I also rely somewhat on the other folks on vent to tell me if I'm being a bit weirder than usual. I'd rather waste a test strip than put myself in danger, and chances are that if I'm acting "drunk" it's because my blood sugar is low. (I don't drink at all, both for religious reasons and because I'm a year too young anyway.)

Once I know my blood sugar is low, I have to bring it back up quickly. Glucose tablets (think giant Smarties of the American variety) are the best immediate solution as they are processed extremely quickly. I try to keep a roll of them by my computer, but if they've been moved (like if I had a low blood sugar incident during the night and Jon brought them to me in the bedroom) or if I've run out, I need to be able to get up from the raid and deal with the problem immediately. Letting my guildies and the raid leader know ahead of time that I am diabetic is what makes this possible--I still try not to go AFK without a fair amount of warning, but knowing that there won't be negative consequences when I need to deal with an emergency is a huge boost to my confidence.

Raid Leaders:
There are several major things that raid leaders have done to make raiding easier for me, especially as a diabetic:
  • Trust. I trust my raid leaders enough to let them know I have a problem that might come up during raids, and they trust me to deal with it and not be a disruption. They know that I don't like messing up a raid any more than they do, and that this isn't something I do for fun or attention.
  • Concern. A lot of guild and raid leaders get to know their guildies very well over vent, which means that if someone is acting odd or out of character, they notice. I've had people tell me I was acting weird before I felt a thing--and sure enough, my blood sugar was not where it was supposed to be.
  • Pacing. A raid where we get no breaks at all is one where I'm most likely to have trouble. Just a five-minute break after every other wing of Naxx can make a difference by giving me time to check my blood sugar and grab some food if it seems it might be getting low--not to mention that giving the raid a bathroom break definitely improves focus.
  • Understanding. The best raid leader is the one that knows his or her group well enough to recognize their unique needs. He understands that the Warlock is in school right now and shouldn't raid past 9 PM, that the pregnant Priest is going to be making frequent trips to the ladies' room, and that a certain Hunter is completely worn out and just glad to be alive, and should probably take the rest of the night off (whether she wants to or not).
I owe many hugs, thanks, and (imaginary) cookies to the raid leaders who've put up with me for the past year. Just one grump could have put the word out that I was a sloppy Hunter who liked to go AFK during boss fights, and there would have been just enough truth in it to make sure I never raided again. Instead, they were supportive and understanding, put up with the frustration I caused, and have made raiding one of my favorite things to do in WoW. To any of my past raid leaders reading this: You guys rock! Well, except for whoever thought it would be funny to have me pull The Beast in UBRS...that was kind of mean. xD



For more information on diabetes, this website is pretty much my favorite--if you're interested in what exactly happens with low blood sugar, their hypoglycemia page is great.

I won't link to the American Diabetes Association (they've harassed me asking for donations in the past) but for something a little less information-dense their website might be good as well.


Work complete!

Turned in the final quest at 3:04 AM server time. Woot!

Blizzcon is over, and what I saw during the stream has me very excited indeed...I can't wait to be able to use Minloth again, so hopefully they'll decide they don't mind hunters choosing their pets' talent trees like they said they might. Hunter mana change is exciting as well--I wish I knew more about how they plan to make focus regen work, though!

Jon starts his new work schedule this Tuesday. Will we raid again? We'll have to wait and see...

For now, we just get to relax. :)


There's Some Lint In My Bellybutton

Warning! Long, navel-gazing post to follow. tl;dr version: Kate loves roleplaying, roleplaying on a Normal server is not fun, planning to transfer to an RP server.

I had my first introduction to organized roleplaying while visiting my grandparents in Utah. Sure, I'd done the usual "playing house" before, and my friends and I loved to get together to act out scenes from Star Wars (I was always Chewbacca), but this was Dungeons and Dragons. This was real.

The game was run by my cousin Danny, and players included his brothers, his fiancee, and me. We tried to get one of my brothers to play as well, but it ended in him being turned into a chicken and forbidden to play with us anymore. My character was an Elven thief named Kestrel. She had silver hair, hazel eyes, and the amazing Dexterity score of 15. I had no idea how to play (I think we might have been playing a very early edition going by what I remember of the setup) but I loved every minute of it, and I squealed loud enough to wake the dead when Michelle drew a picture of my little elf for me. This roleplaying thing was so cool!

Eventually we had to go home, and I promptly forgot all about it. I would occasionally rediscover my character sheet and picture, folded up and lovingly tucked away in a free AOL tin---I'd unfold it, sigh happily, then put it away again after promising myself to try that again someday.

That day came when I discovered D.A.B., a roleplaying site based around one of my favorite book series. It was linked to from the official Redwall website, and I was immediately intrigued. Earning points and competing with other people from other places, on the computer? And making up my favorite kind of stories? I begged my parents to let me join, and eventually they agreed. My first character, Daffnee, almost immediately managed to get on the wrong side of one of the site's leaders, so I scrapped that idea and went for another: Amber Merida, a Good Wildcat. When I grew tired of roleplaying her as a child, I switched over to the more grown-up Lancepaw's Fort, and kept on going.

Realizing instinctively that going for one of the least common villain races in the books and making it a good character to boot could easily lead to Bad Roleplaying, I made an effort to give her various flaws--she was a skilled fighter, with a speshul non-magical sword from her parents, but she hated battle and would always take the peaceful way out because she had horrible wracking guilt from the one time she charged in without asking questions first. Eventually she evolved into more of a healer type, though still with heroic aspirations, and became a much less annoying character. She fell in love, adopted a baby rat, and then faded away as I focused on other interests: Specifically, adoptable dragons and RedVenture 2. I played a major role in RV2 as Anora the stoat, returned for RV3 as Elana, and won entry into and then flaked out on RV4 as an insane feline cook. By that point, I was pretty much through with the whole Redwall thing; most of my friends were long gone from the community (including Hawkeye Bigmouth Longears, my "bestest friend ever"), and even the books weren't good enough to keep me around any longer.

Luckily, I'd fallen in with a very nerdy crowd in real life, and in between beating each other with pool noodles and falling asleep in Sunday school, we played Dungeons and Dragons. Edition 3.5 was very different from what I remembered, and my new Dungeon Master was much more strict about setting enemies on fire, but I still loved it. I didn't revive Kestrel for this game--I'd learned upon purchasing the Player's Handbook that all sixes and sevens with one score of 15 was not a good array of stats--but instead created a half-elf paladin and proceeded to badger the DM into giving me the following as rewards for battles won:

-A cape that turned into wings so I could fly.
-A fiery, shocking sword. Zzzzzap crackle pop!
-A dark bay pegasus named Whuffles.

That character lasted until the group fell apart, shortly before I left for BYU. (Our DM had headed out the year before, but we'd still played together when he was home for winter and summer breaks.) Suddenly alone in a strange new place, I did the only thing I could: I joined another D&D group.

This time, I knew how to avoid most of the mistakes I'd made with previous characters. Hazel the human ranger was a grumpy, anti-social bounty hunter with a pair of very sharp knives, a huge mastiff as her companion, and a fun and detailed past: After her parents died, she started hunting criminals and highwaymen to earn enough money to allow her younger brother to keep the family farm. He grew up, got married, had a couple of kids that she adores, and never ever found out where all the money was coming from (though he definitely suspected something). The rest of the party, meanwhile, always wondered why she never seemed to have any gold to spare, and spent what she did have carefully. I had the extra challenge of having her get by on only about 20% of her share of the party's loot, and I got to make her favored enemy humans--convincing the DM was no easy task, but it was definitely worth it in combat.

She developed more of a personality as we played, gaining a slightly twisted sense of humor, and leaning away from her original True Neutral alignment towards Neutral Evil thanks to the efforts of a certain monk of Hextor. The players connected just as well as the characters in this case, and Jon and I got married the next summer--but not before he got me hooked on WoW.

World of Warcraft was a very different roleplaying experience for me. My first few characters had very little personality at all, though I enjoyed exploring the various actions and emotes built into the game, and would always /sleep on a bed in the inn before logging off for the night. My Orc Shaman was different. I didn't know who she was or where she'd been, but I knew there was a story there, and I wanted to find out. Even when I started leveling Izsera, my Night Elf Hunter, Tanakyll (named after the ratling Amber adopted years before) was still my main. I hit 70 on Izzy, raided, leveled up to 80, raided some more... eventually Tana became an alt, one that at times I forgot existed. I didn't roleplay.

Then I started leveling Hellen again. I'd created the Human Warrior a little before the Scourge invasion event marking the approach of WotLK, talked Jon into helping me get enough of the dropped items to trade in for an Argent Dawn tabard as a joke, and walked all the way to Light's Hope Chapel before learning that although I had the required currency, I was too low level to unlock the vendor and actually buy the item. The little teasing voices of roleplaying that I'd been ignoring for so long suggested that maybe, just maybe, I wasn't the only one who was annoyed here. Hellen was pretty upset, too. And, having been rejected by the Argent Dawn, perhaps she would turn to an alternative source of help in fighting off the undead menace. After all, there was a wearable Scarlet Crusade tabard in-game...

If WotLK hadn't come so soon after I got Hellen her tabard, I probably would have simply focused on her. I was loving the Warrior class (Charge is officially my most favorite ability ever), and I was finally roleplaying again, even if it was just by myself. But I needed to get to 80 so I wouldn't get left behind the rest of my guild, so I set my little warrior aside, and got back to work. I hit 80 easily enough, and then real life stepped in, limiting me to only a few minutes of play time a day. I left the guild I'd been with, joined several new ones but never really fit in, and in between getting a headache from TEH DRAMAZ!!1 I secretly worked on leveling Hellen. She was my escape, the character I logged onto when I just wanted to work on building up the story that was growing around her.

She stuck with the Crusade until she once more arrived at Light's Hope, this time following Scarlet Commander Marjhan. Despite her previous rejection, she chose to assist the Argent Dawn's efforts. Unfortunately, her argument of "Hey, we all just wanna kill some zombies, why can't I help them out?" was not persuasive enough to keep her from being treated as a traitor to the cause, and when she helped a dying Tauren Druid it was the last nail in the coffin for that part of her career. Following the battle at Light's Hope she headed to Outland, hoping to find some sort of purpose now that her original goals were out of reach...

Hellen is level 70 now, and just venturing into Northrend. (She has yet to learn that the Scarlet Crusade are there as well...that will be a fun series of quests to do!) While I've got Tanakyll up to 80 now after a week or so of frantic questing, I can't wait to have a "roleplaying character" on the Alliance side of things as well. Tanakyll is, and really always was, a healer and a background character. Hellen is ready to be a hero, and I can't wait.

I'm not sure that she'll get her chance to shine on Sen'jin, though. It's a Normal server of the sort where roleplaying is mocked whenever it comes up--when I did the Battle for Light's Hope Chapel on my DK and went so far as to *gasp, shock, horror* /kneel, I immediately got tells and /says from three or four different people all telling me to go and lolRP somewhere else. Meanwhile, even the ones who hadn't whispered me were bouncing up and down impatiently and one guy was spamming /train at Mograine (who looked kind of pissed about it, but then he always looks like that...)

I'd be taking a bit of a risk by transferring to an RP server. No one wants to walk in on a threesome, especially one consisting of two Gnomes and a Draenei, and I hear that sparkly vampires have become a bit of a problem in Silvermoon. The alternative is being forced to stop doing something I love, something that's been a major part of my life for nearly ten years, or be mocked publicly by people who think that MMORPG stands for "Massage Myself, Obliterate Rats, Purchase Gold". Which, really, isn't much of a choice at all.

Now I just need to decide on a server. :)


The best thing about 3.2... the new raptor minipets! :D

Here I am in Nexus with my Leaping Hatchling--he's my favorite of the four I've hunted down, and took me the longest to get, with two hours of camping. I also have the Deviate, Darting, and Razormaw Hatchlings--and I picked up a second Darting Hatchling this morning for Jon's Warlock. (He can be terribly cute when he wants something.)

My eventual goal is to get all eight of them, but it may take a while--the Ravasaur Matriarch is quite elusive.


Trail of Fire

(Based on this quest.)

"So...there be our next target. more?" Schen squinted, trying to make out the narrower figure kneeling in front of the armored human. She couldn't tell exactly what it was, but it didn't appear to be a healer so it should be all right. She'd take down the human Lieutenant first, and worry about any others after she was done. One or two more humans wouldn't add too much of a challenge anyway.

Patting her hound's shoulder to get the beast's attention, she pointed toward the human and nodded. With a joyous bark, Hawrt shot off through the camp, and Schen grinned as she watched her pet start tearing at the foe's legs. Of all the companions she'd had over the years, this scarlet hound was the first she's found whose thirst for blood matched her own. She waited until the human was sufficiently distracted, then stood and added her bullets to the fray.

The human didn't last long at all, quickly collapsing with a hoarse shout (for help? Schen had never understood the humans' language) that was cut short as Hawrt grasped its throat in her jaws and bit down, shaking her head back and forth until the body had stopped moving entirely. The hound worried at the body a little longer, but hopped away with a happy yip as her master approached, jumping up to lick the troll's face. "Get down, you!" Schen ordered, stifling a laugh. She's really just a big puppy... "You knock me over, how I gonna give you a treat for fighting so good?"

"Hey, troll! Over here!" The raspy voice identified the speaker as one of the Forsaken, but when Schen turned to look she saw nothing.

"No, down here. On the ground." The Forsaken sighed. He was tightly bound and lying on the ground in what had to be a most uncomfortable position. He was also, Schen noticed, wearing an apothecary's with large, bloody pawprints all over it. "Look, not that I don't appreciate your heroics--I was decidedly not looking forward to what these Alliance scumbags had in store for me--but this is a pretty poor rescue if you're not even going to untie me."

"Not here to rescue you, mon. Just killin' some humans."

The apothecary sighed. "Fine, I can make it out alone, just--"

"Hey now, I still gonna help you." She grinned and waved her skinning knife under what was left of his nose, her grin growing wider when he didn't so much as blink. "I love you zombies. Not afraid of anythin' and you all fight just as hard as I do. Now, hold still."

It took a little work to cut through the thick cords binding the Forsaken apothecary, but while they were perfect for keeping him from escaping on his own, they couldn't last too long against a good sharp knife, and he was soon up and stretching out his limbs with a series of disconcerting popping and snapping sounds.

"You ready?"

He cracked his knuckles one last time and nodded. "Indeed. Let's get out of here and see if we can get back at them somehow." He glanced around. "Is that a campfire over there?"

Schen laughed and began looking around for something to use as a torch. "I like how you think, zombie."

The apothecary would have been content merely to destroy the camp's food stores, but Schen managed to talk him into torching everything that could possibly be used against them--gunpowder, the tents, even the wooden barricade was soon in flames with the help of a few flasks of oil applied in just the right spot to get it started. It had been a few weeks since the Howling Fjord had seen rain and even heavy wood caught like paper. Even with the ocean so close, there was no way the humans would be able to put out all of the fires in time to save their supplies.

"Well, that," The Forsaken rubbed his hands together gleefully, "was most enjoyable. I think, though--" His words were cut off by a loud rumbling and the wooden wall in front of them exploded into dust and splinters, the force of the explosion knocking them back onto the ground.

Coughing as she rose, Schen finished his sentence. "It be time to get out of here for good."

He frowned. "I wasn't expecting them to start the bombardment so soon, but yes. We'll need to move quickly." Brushing sawdust off of his robe, he added, "I think I see a way through. Stay close to me."

The troll nodded, and hurried after him, keeping her eyes open for trouble.

A few humans did notice them and try to stop the pair, and one foolhardy gnome tried to attack Hawrt, but soon they were through the gap blown in the barricade and heading for the lines of Forsaken troops. A volley of fiery arrows whistled past them, a couple glancing off of Schen's mail and one lodging itself in her helmet. She sighed and pulled it out as she ran, tossing it aside to let it burn itself out in the muddy grass. "Call em off, mon? I'm not helpin' you just to be made a pincushion."

"Don't shoot! Apothecary coming through! Hold your fire!"

To Schen's surprise, it worked, and the Forsaken fighters parted to let the small party through as they approached. Then they were through,and a pair of healers appeared to show them back to the medics' tents set up behind the lines. Shaking them off--she'd rather rely on her natural regeneration than on Forsaken medical technology--the troll sighed and let herself relax. It had been a long day, and she couldn't wait to get back to the inn.

"Before you go--" It was the apothecary again, doing his best to thwart the herding instinct of the healers fussing over him. "I'm going to stick around here for a while, but you should talk to Apothecary Lysander when you get back to Vengeance Landing. He might be able to give you something for your trouble. Tell him you got Apothecary Hanes out of a bind and that I'll be back as soon as I cause a little more mayhem."

"I will indeed." She grinned, and waved as the two healers, fed up at last, picked him up and carried him toward the tents.

The last thing she heard as he was carried away was, "I have a wonderful idea for a new, weaponized..."

She'd have to come back later and ask him exactly what he was planning. It sounded like fun.


R&R, and Disappointment.

In life, moods will change, tastes flow from one thing to the next. A fun little game called Fable enchanted me about 3 years back, one of the first games that I'd played in which it felt like my actions had a noticeable difference on the game's world and where the characters in the game were more important than the items and fun things to do; even with the NPCs it felt that way.

A friend and I exchanged games recently to try out, I lent him Devil May Cry 4, a game I thought would be up his alley, while I asked him to lend me Fable 2. I was hoping from the description that this game would be a similarly free experience to the first game. I got what I hoped for.

Now, from the title of this post a different response might've been expected, but there is more to it than that. You see, when I played the original Fable, it took me a very long time because although the story moves at a good pace, the optional part of the game really drew me in; things like starting a family, protecting a city, things that made me care about the towns, cities and the people in them. Unfortunately, Fable 2 didn't.

Although it still had the freedom and the options to choose either good or evil, and the same ability to do almost anything in the world, from buying real estate and shops even to theft and murder, unfortunately the game really didn't make me want to choose either. I thought what had attracted me to the original Fable was the option to choose good and evil, but in truth it was more how my choices affected the people in the world that drew me in. Here's an example contrasting the two; in the original Fable, you have to escort a merchant through a werewolf-infested marsh. Each time we were attacked, I fought them off not because I thought "hey monsters, good, I'll get more XP" but because the merchant was a well-done enough character to make me want to protect him. In Fable 2, you have to help a bandit named Reaver escape from an army of fanatic soldiers that he called to town try to collect a reward for your capture. I tried to shoot Reaver, and only killed the soldiers out of a vague desire to get past that part of the story. That, and shooting Reaver didn't actually have any effect at all.

Fable 2 struck me with an apathy so great, that once I'd finished the main story, the prospect of re-entering the game for more optional quests and further development of my character filled me with nothing but a vague dread. My feelings about Fable 2 can be summed up best in the words of Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, when he said "but why would you want to?"



Who's that Pokemon?

I've been taking a bit of a break from WoW for the last little while--I've been leveling alts whenever I have a free moment, but I've been completely avoiding my main server, Sen'jin. My laptop can't handle raiding anymore, and I don't really feel like explaining for the millionth time that Jon and I left our last guild because we were hoping it would help the guild leader become less dependant on others. (Given who re-joined the guild shortly after we left, I'd say that we failed to accomplish that, but on the plus side, playing the game is relaxing now.)

So how have I been spending my non-raiding time?

Well, besides rolling an Orc Hunter and doing far more Warsong Gulch (player-vs-player 'capture the flag') than I care to think about, I've finally done what I was convinced I could never do, and leveled up a Tauren Druid. On top of that, he's male--so that's two barriers broken down right there.

It's Druidbearmon! Okay, so that's not his actual name...

With my new Druid, it feels as if I'm seeing Azeroth for the first time again. It's been so long since I did most of the quests Horde-side that each one is new and exciting (though I still remember enough to find the trickier ones!) and there was a whole Tauren-only quest chain I'd never done before involving cleansing the water wells of Mulgore. On top of that, I've been making a conscious effort to do every quest in every zone I level through to get the full experience, and it's been amazingly fun. It feels so much more satisfying than doing only what's necessary to progress to the next area. Sure, I might be a bit slower, but if I hadn't done that I might never have fought in an epic battle against the Centaur of the Barrens, or watched a Horde-aligned Dwarf (!) turn into a Trogg, or jumped off of a cliff only to be whisked away at the last second.

And, speaking of Mulgore and the Barrens, I'm in love. I'd never realized before how gorgeous the early Kalimdor zones are--I'd always been rushing to get to the next quest hub, to finish the next set of missions, leveling as quickly as I could. This time, though, I was moving slower, and could appreciate the scenery much better. And besides the beauty of the zones, I also noticed various interactions between NPCs that I hadn't seen before, and stuck around to watch. There's a little orc kid who goes fishing to feed the guards, another whose father is fighting up in Ashenvale (the conversation with his mother may have had me sniffling a little), and the wyvern trainer in Freewind Post will occasionally blow a kiss to his pets. (I laughed so hard when I heard him!)

I've finished up all of Mulgore, the Barrens, and Stonetalon Mountains now (save for a few dungeon quests), and I just need to find Page 7 of the Shredder Operating Manual to be done with Ashenvale, too. I'm questing in northern Thousand Needles now, getting ready to head out to the Shimmering Flats and help out the goblin racers (and maybe the gnomes, too...creepy little guys, though). I'm still not bored, I can't imagine ever getting bored if I keep playing this way. And it makes me wonder, if maybe the reason so many people say WoW is boring and easy is because they don't take the time to explore and challenge themselves. I certainly never had this much fun when I rushed to reach the level cap, and it seems like every few quests I run into another rare elite monster that's a challenge to take down, that normally I would have just avoided to save time.

I love this. :D

The Kodo is named Matilda. I am such a sucker for bad puns.


Well, it's true enough I guess.

All right, now that Mania has finally posted about the Worgen pet, I guess I can post this without feeling a little silly/guilty about beating her to it. (I kid, I kid! I just had my internet working all day, that's all.)

Here I am with my brand-new Worgen, exulting in its real-ness. For a long time, I was convinced that the whole thing was a hoax, and even posted a picture 'proving' I was right. Whoops? Major hugs and cookies to the Hunter class forum folks for all their hard work and research in figuring out which mob the mysterious Worgen pet was (as you can see in my screenie, it's Garwal, a quest mob in Howling Fjord).

I think that's what got me the most excited about the whole thing, in fact. Even if the Worgen pet had turned out to be a fake, the way the Hunter forum came together and worked on this was amazing. Seeing teamwork and friendly conversation instead of the whining and belittling I normally expect from the o-boards was surprising and very pleasant. I may have made a few jokes about Pokemon, but for the most part the original thread stayed polite and on-topic until post cap, and the second thread seems to be doing the same. Yay for Hunters!

One thing that bugged me about the original post was the behavior of the Hunter who was first spotted with the Worgen pet--I get that he wanted to keep his pet something special, but it's a little cruel not to even give a hint or two. I've always been happy to answer any questions about rare pets I might have (though in the case of my Hydra, I have to warn people it's no longer tamable, which is kind of a bummer). It is, to my mind, part of being a good Hunter--sharing tips and tricks with others. So as soon as I got out of Naxx (they dragged me in as soon as I was done taming, of course) I headed to Ironforge to show off Mowgli.

I got tons of whispers and comments, and was able to help a bunch of folks find the information they needed to (hopefully) tame their own. Of course, I felt a little bad when I realized I was just sending more competition Jon's way--luckily it didn't take him too many tries to get a Worgen on his hunter as well. He's named her Raksha, and is just as excited about her as I am about mine.

Since they're technically Wolves (the best non-BM pets and good for BM too), we'll be using them a fair bit from now on--though I've got a lot of leveling to do before I bring Mowgli to Naxx again, I'm used to topping the DPS charts, darnit. <.< We're going to be very careful to avoid PvP as the worgen will reset to a wolf model if used in Arenas, and we have our fingers crossed that Blizzard won't just go ahead and reset all of them...

*crosses her toes, too*

Even if they do, though, we'll have had fun.


Are you smarter than a Death Knight?

Answers at the bottom. No, this is not multiple choice!

1. What is the Death Knight tanking spec?

2. What does Death Grip do?

3. How much spell power does a DK need to power up his diseases?

4. What kind of weapons can a Death Knight use?

5. Who was the first Death Knight?


1. Any tree can tank, given the correct gear and talents. ~ 2pts.
Any spec can tank. ~1pt.
Frost/Blood/Unholy is the only tanking tree! ~0pts.

2. Pulls the target over to the Death Knight and taunts it to attack him. ~2pts.
Pulls the target over to the Death Knight. ~1pt.
Any other answer. ~0pts.

3. None, Death Knights get no benefit from spell power. ~2pts.
This is a trick question, spell power isn't used for the diseases. ~1pt.
Any specific or general number, or "At what level?" ~0pts.

4. Axes (1h and 2h), Maces (1h and 2h), Polearms, Swords (1h and 2h). ~2pts.
Missed one from the list above or added in one from the list below. ~1pt.
Bows, Crossbows, Daggers, Fist Weapons, Guns, Staves, Wands. ~0pts.

5. Teron Gorefiend. ~2pts.
Arthas Menethil. ~1pt.
Any other answer. ~0pts.

0 = Total DeathTard. That's okay, hopefully you don't play one anyway!
1-4 = Below average, but you seem to be working on it.
5-7 = Yup, you're about as smart as a Death Knight.
8-10 = You're way smarter than a lot of Death Knights--but then, they've got more important things to worry about, like not decomposing.



Hee hee. It's now been one year since Kate and myself got married. We're very happy together, and though it hasn't all been easy, there have been many, many more good times than bad. In celebration of a year, we've spent a day together in hedonistic luxury, I've showered Kate with gifts and she's created two wonderful things for me. I shall now show you them. First, a small cartoon that she drew of the character in WoW she's been working very hard on, her warrior named Hellen, and my druid Mikkano who we've brought over from Burning Legion to Sen'jin, our new home server. He can turn into a moonkin, and I find their dancing to be a wonderful thing. Kate ... agrees? Mostly. Anyway, now that her warrior's no longer a raving fanatic of the Scarlet Crusade, she's become much more approachable.
Second is this portrait here that she drew of my druid. More serious and detailed, she's happy with how it turned out and I love the look of it, but Kate feels it isn't quite Night Elfy enough.


Down The Scarlet Path

(My warrior's experience with this quest, written for this thread.)

"Travel to the town of Southshore, in the Eastern Kingdoms. Seek out a crusader named Raleigh the Devout. Give him this letter of commendation bearing my seal and he will escort you to a place of honor in our Scarlet Monastery."

Hellen smiled, feeling herself fill with pride as she remembered the priest's words. Finally! She'd worked so hard for this, at times not even certain she'd ever be allowed into those hallowed halls. She was young, she knew, and inexperienced in the eyes of some... a frown crossed her face at that thought as she recalled the humiliation she'd suffered a year ago, when she'd volunteered for service with the Argent Dawn.

She'd fought her way through the Plaguelands on foot, eyes sharp and ears pricked for any hint of danger, nearly falling a dozen times as the cursed land seemed to spring to life--unlife--around her. Murderous ghouls, screeching bats, and grubs of tremendous, unnatural size all appeared to block her path, but she'd never faltered, never even considered giving up. Once, from a distance, she'd seen what could have been nothing other than the type of undead called an 'abomination', a massive conglomeration of rotting, oozing corpses sewn together. She had not then dared to get a closer look, but even from the hilltop where she lay waiting for it to pass out of sight, she'd been able to smell it. That scent...

And when she'd at last reached the tiny chapel, so much smaller than Stormwind's grand cathedral, bustling with all manner of warriors and adventurers, and hurried to the nearest commander, eager to prove herself, to join the cause, spilling out the contents of her satchel so the runes she'd collected lay in a glittering heap before him--

She growled angrily to herself, the sudden sound eliciting a snort from her placid bay mare. The girl stretched out a gloved hand and patted the beast's neck in what she hoped was a reassuring manner. If speed was not important here, she would much rather have stuck with her own two feet. Especially since riding gave her far too much time to think.

Too young. No use at all. Was that ill-fitting mail her older brother's armor? And they'd laughed, given her a bed for the night, and sent her back to Northshire on gryphonback the next morning.

She hadn't given up, though. She'd set to work, training hard, honing her skill with the sword until she had proven first to herself, and then to her masters, that she was ready for more. She'd begged the paladins for training, too, wanting to learn more of their Light, the power that made them such a potent force against the undead. By that time Stormwind itself had come under attack, and everyone who could lift a weapon was needed. Yet when she'd asked, pleaded with them, each paladin had frowned and shook his head. The Light, they said, was not merely a weapon to be used, and its blessing was not to be given carelessly. She was too reckless, too stubborn, and too bloodthirsty, and the inner fury that drove her was incompatible with their vows.

Then she'd found the Crusade. Here were people who took her seriously, who could teach her what she longed to learn. She'd set to doing their holy work with a calm happiness that she'd found nowhere else. She slew undead, they encouraged her, and not a word was said of inexperience, or rash behavior, or the dangers of letting hatred overwhelm all else. And now, at last, all her efforts were coming to fruition. Finally, she would become a full member of the Crusade, and then... well, Brother Anton had told her that the Scarlet Crusade had its own order of paladins, and that they were not so peculiar about who they allowed to join as those of Stormwind.

She smiled again, reaching to touch the letter she had tucked carefully under her armor. It was a good day. And in another day's ride she would reach the port town of Auburdine, where she could find a ship to take her to Southshore, and then, well, she'd just have to see how things turned out. It was unwise to let her hopes run off with her, after all.

. . . . .

She stood straight and mostly still as the balding paladin read through the letter, muttering to himself and occasionally going over a line twice before moving to the next. She fidgeted a little, nervously, hoping he wouldn't notice. Hellen wished she knew what the letter said. Even if she'd been able to read more than a few words herself, though, it had been sealed, and it would have been a dishonorable start prelude to her entry into the Crusade if she'd sneaked a look at it. And she did trust Brother Anton, really she did, it was just that this was so important, and even he didn't really know how much it meant to her...

Silly girl, she scolded herself, and forced her hands to stop fiddling with the buckles on her bracers. He wouldn't have sent the letter if you needed more training, after all. He's proud of what you've done, and he thinks you're ready. This is it, this is what you've been waiting for.

Raleigh coughed, and she realized he had finished. Hoping she did not show the worry she felt--there was nothing to worry about, after all!--she examined his lined face, trying to get a hint to what he was thinking. The letter could hardly be less than a glowing report of her efforts, so why was he frowning?

He sighed. "By the Light! This is not good." Setting the unfurled letter down on the table--she could see now that it was covered in narrow, curly script in a dark red ink--he began sorting through the books and papers surrounding it, looking for something. "You see, Hellen, there's something you don't understand."

Her green eyes narrowed as she rapidly tried to think of anything she might have forgotten, might have misplaced. Brother Anton had only given her the letter, but maybe there was some sign, some gesture, something... or was this another test? One to measure her composure in the face of the unexpected? She quietly took in a deep breath to calm herself. That had to be it, this was just one of the more subtle challenges her mentor had hinted at. If she showed shock now, or surprise, she'd be showing weakness.

Now the paladin had found what he sought--a small, round firestarter. It made a rasping noise as he gripped the handles, grinding the stone and steel together until sparks leapt from it, dropping onto the letter and quickly igniting the dry hide.

I must not show surprise. I must not appear concerned. He was her superior, presumably there was some reason behind this, and she shouldn't question it. He would explain everything that she needed to know, and anything else was not her concern.

But then he opened his mouth, and the words he spoke were almost too much for her practiced calm.

"I once served the Scarlet Crusade with honor, loyalty and pride. I believed their cause to be a noble one..."

But no more, it seemed. He rambled on about horrors he claimed to have seen, injustice meted out in the name of righteousness, a thousand different lies, each more blasphemous to her ears than the last. For almost an hour he spoke, pacing the small room, waving his hands in great gestures, at times almost shouting. It astounded Hellen that Brother Anton did not know of this, had not even suspected...but he must, else why would he have sent her here?

Raleigh was watching her now, forehead creased, measuring her reaction. Her silence and intent gaze satisfactory, he lowered his voice and continued. "Do you understand, Hellen? The Scarlet Crusade must be crushed in the name of the Light. You must destroy the deranged regime!"

She nodded, face impassive. "I do understand. And..." She paused, searching for the right words. "I thank you for telling me this."

He sighed, relieved, seeming to shrink a little as he relaxed after his impassioned sermon. "You'll do it, then?"

"I will do what must be done."

The coldness in her voice was the only warning she gave, but somehow he managed to get his hammer up in time to block her swing as she unsheathed her sword and leaped at him. Hiding her frustration she repositioned herself, quickly taking a step back and shoving the heavy table to one side, clearing the center of the room, scattering papers and ashes onto the floor. She readied her weapon again.

"You're just like the rest of them, it seems." She wasn't sure if it was disappointment in her or in himself she heard, but the disgust in his voice was clearly only for her. "I was a fool."

With the last word, he swung. She was ready, and parried with her sword, but the heavier weapon jarred her arm, and she realized that she would have to dodge aside next time. If she stood toe to toe with him, he could wear her out easily.

"Traitor!" she countered, turning a little to give herself more room. "You would have us fight among ourselves, weaken our forces while the Scourge devours all."

"And do you truly believe that there will be anything left to save if the Crusade has its way?"

This time she stepped aside as the hammer blurred past. He was older, a little weaker perhaps, but still fast. Very fast.

A good test.

(Note: This is pretty much how things would have gone if, 1. Hellen was a little bit more confident/brainwashed than she actually is, and 2. Quest NPCs were attackable. Neither of these being the case, in "reality" she was heartbroken and spent the next couple of weeks moping around in Stormwind. The story took on a life of its own while I was writing it, though, and while the first half is completely accurate, the second should be treated more as her fantasy of what should have happened. ^.^)