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  1. Today
  2. Alright! So, I was going to start with pathos/ethos/logos, but as soon as I got into a mindset where I was thinking about these things and what they meant, I realized that I needed to do some more groundwork first. After all, these are greek terms, so we need to go back to the greek that forms some of the bedrock of our understanding of storytelling: Aristotle. Aristotle wrote a book called the "Poetics" and in it he basically tries to define storytelling, though through the lens of storytelling of his day: Epic Poetry, Tragedy, and Comedy. Unfortunately, the one he wrote on comedy is lost forever, but the other two? We've got records of those. I do not recommend you read them, because they're kind of a slog and the most important bits I'm just going to cliffnotes here anyway. The first thing I want to get out of the way is how he defined tragedy, which had seven component parts. 1) it is mimetic (This means that it tries to immitate rather than narrate; basically, show don't tell) 2) it is serious 3) it tells a full story of an appropriate length 4) it contains rhythm and harmony 5) rhythm and harmony occur in different combinations in different parts of the tragedy 6) it is performed rather than narrated 7) it arouses feelings of pity and fear and then purges these feelings through catharsis. These seven components, not gonna lie, don't really hold up well. Authors over the intervening 2 millenia have taken Aristotle plenty to task (Death of a Salesman is said to be a rebuke to Aristotle's idea of tragedy being "The fall of a great man.") and this is not the good part of what Aristotle is getting at, this isn't the universal, juicy stuff. But I want to mention it because it shows you the kind of mindset he was in: He was very concerned with acting and theatre as the principle storytelling artform of the time, and so we're going to need to alter things quite a bit for our needs. The good stuff, the juicy part of the poetics are the component parts that create a tragedy. In descending order of importance, they are Plot, Character, Thought, Diction, Melody and Spectacle. This, in many ways, is the foundation of my own perspective on storytelling. I am going to break a bit from Aristotle here (because even though the concepts themselves are strong, they need some updating) and retrofit this to meet my needs. Therefore, I'm going to replace Thought with Theme (this is 1:1 for Aristotle, just a translation thing) Diction for Setting (Aristotle talks about the importance of setting the scene in diction, so close enough) and Melody for Aesthetics (Melody for Aristotle very directly talked about the songs in these sung tragedies needing to be good, so I'm just going to sub that out for aesthetic stuff like that.) This leaves us with the following list, still in order of descending importance: Plot, Character, Theme, Setting, Aesthetics, Spectacle. I like to split this list in half, because to me Plot/Character/Theme are all the most important aspects of storytelling and the stuff that comes after has a pretty big drop off. It's also convenient because Logos/Pathos/Ethos are comments on Plot/Character/Theme and that's the end point for this bit of thoughts. Plot Alright, this is the easy first step, but also the most important component to any story. The plot is, simply put, what happens. And the reason the plot is so important is because it directs the flow and the action of the story as a whole. Weak plot absolutely cripples a story from the get go, mostly because the conventions of plot are baked into the DNA not just of how we understand the creation of storytelling, but also to how we understand it as an audience. Plot holes, troublesome plot logic, loose hanging plot threads, these kinds of things are a death knell of a good plot. Other aspects, like good and bad pacing (pacing being appropriately stretching and releasing tension for the audience,) factor into this too, but I'm really trying to talk about the basics. For instance, everything that came before the beginning of your story (whether or not it's viewed in chronological order, mind you) must necessarily be irrelevant. When the first event in your story starts (even if it's in a flashback at the end) it must appear as if out of nowhere, simultaneously the result of a thousand implied events that never reach the screen, but also the result of no events that leave unanswered questions for your audience. This is the tightrope that you need to walk. If you allude to some greater mystery, that is a loose plot thread until you can reel it in and tie it off. The ins and outs of good plots and, specifically, clever tricks to use in how you structure your stories will be covered in future installments (for instance, I want to go in depth on a few other story structures besides the Three Act Structure just for contrast's sake) but the point I'm making is that if you're going to get anything right, make it plot. A bad plot supercedes everything else. That said, I think it's tough to attain greatness with plot. A story that really goes above and beyond typically exalts one of the other aspects to get there. An amazing setting, rich characters, complex themes, or even just amazing spectacles can get you over the finish line to great story, but doing so with a stellar plot is always going to be hard. Character The second most important aspect of a story are its characters, specifically the protagonist and antagonist. In RP, where there are a few different characters, try and separate out for yourselves who lives in that protag/antag category (Main Characters) and who doesn't (supporting characters.) There can be plenty of main characters in a story (Lord of the Rings, for instance, has Frodo, Sam, Aragorn, Gandalf, and plenty more) and the difference comes down to who drives the narrative. The Main Characters will drive the narrative, supporting characters will typically be along for the ride. Aragorn, for instance, makes most of the major decisions for the Three Hunters phase of that story, and Gimli and Legolas tag along with him for the ride. They support him and help him, but he's the decision maker taking action over the course of the narrative. While the presence or absence of an arc can be helpful in telling the protagonist and antagonist apart (Protags typically have them, antags don't) supporting characters don't need them, but benefit from having them. Gimli and Legolas are better, more well-rounded characters because they have arcs (they start hating each other, end as friends.) It's plenty possible to break some of these rules, but this section has gone on long enough. Suffice to say that different kinds of categories break these rules as necessary (topics to maybe come back to: the Force of Nature villain, Heel/Face turns, Passive Protagonists, etc.) When it comes to RP, the reason I recommend figuring out who's active and who's supporting in your story is because it can be a big, red flag that allows you to course correct as necessary. If you are using your characters to drive the plot forward, if you are pulling along all these other characters on the heels of your PCs or NPCs, then you're relegating other players and the characters they're playing to being supporting players in this story. You should not do this. In tabletop terms, this is typically called "Railroading" and it's a trap that a lot of GMs fall into when it comes to RP. After all, you feel apprehensive about forcing anything on other players, right? Don't. Work with other players and collaborate with them on how they want the story to go down, if necessary, but don't get bogged down in that apprehension. Because the end result is you essentially keeping anyone from engaging with the story without a herculean effort. The baseline structure for most storylines should be "GM sets up a problem, Players set up a solution." Absolutely use your characters to set up that problem and all the context that they need in order to deal with it, but make sure they are the ones that get to plan a solution and implement that plan. If you don't let them do that, then you're making everyone side characters as you hog the GM spot, the Protag spot and the Antag spot. Theme This one is probably less necessary than others, but to me it's of paramount importance. If plot is "What happens" and character is "Who it happens because of," then theme is typically "Why does this happen?" The good news is, theme tends to be easy. Good characters very often beget good themes, because if you're giving your characters proper arcs that properly test them, then you're creating themes naturally. If your character is a loner and her arc is getting over that by joining a community, your themes are inadvertently going to end up in the "Everyone needs people to help them; you don't need to do it all alone" territory. This kind of thing is great. Even more basic stuff, not on an arc level but a character motivation level, can work in a pinch. "My character is good and wants to protect innocents from dying" carries with it the very basic moral of: "Innocent people shouldn't die," but that's enough to get you through it without too much trouble. That said, I highly recommend using your themes as a window into characters because just like characters naturally create themes in your stories, themes naturally create character arcs and plots. If you're ever stuck or have writer's block or are having trouble getting in the headspace of a character, think about what that character stands for, what he represents, what are you using this character to ellucidate on and figure out. Once you settle on that ("I'm using this character as a window to explore the slippery slope from hero worship to fascism") you now have a great basis to create arcs and stories for that character. ("This character gets taken under the spell of a charismatic warlord and follows him too far without realizing it.") Arcs are pretty universally good things for most characters (even antagonists, though their arcs are upside down) so finding them for all of your characters, even the minor ones, can be a great exercise. This all takes on new dimensions, honestly, if you can make a few arcs from a few different characters weave together into one major, overarching theme that unifies them all. When all of your characters are grappling with the same thematic content, that's when your whole story is focused on a big theme and achieves greatness. Setting Like I said earlier, not as necessarily important as the other bits, but still something that sits at the top of the B-row for a good reason. A good setting can really sell uniqueness and immersion in the world, and in the same way that stakes allow you to forget you're in a story and the conventions of that story apply to you, a good setting immerses you so strongly in the story as to have that same effect. Settings are tougher, because they're simultaneously about attention to detail and the little touches that you add here and there, but you can't get bogged down in this kind of thing because all the bandwidth that you're using for setting is bandwidth that you're not using for plot/character/theme, which are your big guns. Setting is about doing the most you can with that little time. In RP, I'm a big fan of using setting in order to set a mood or pieces of a scene that characters can bounce off of and interact with, especially in ways that let you express idiosyncrasies about your world. I'm a huge fan of the basic syntax of [describe the detail you want to highlight] and [a tiny bit of logic outlining why that detail is the way it is.] I love this structure in my writing because it adds a lot of texture to the spaces that you're creating. It's one thing to describe the three wells that villagers use to slake their thirst. It's another to explain how the buildings of the village get bunched up and cramped near the three wells, and touch on the shamans that periodically refill the underground aquifer by communing with the water spirits in the area. The downside to this, unfortunately, is that you end up creating a lot of lore for yourself to memorize and come back to later. RPers love continuity and you don't respect your own continuity of the space, then you're doing yourself a big disservice and punishing players that are keeping track of things. Aesthetic This one is fairly simple. Have a voice. Have tricks to your writing, little things that you do that no one else does. Most people do this especially with speech and dialogue, like writing out your accents for your characters. But it's something that every character, even those without accents need and should have. The mark of this, by the way, is when other people can imitate you fairly well. My benchmark for character speech is typically twofold: 1) What are the specific words, phrases and clauses that this character uses? (Baern, for instance, uses "To be honest," while Gahnder uses "Truth be told," for the same concepts.) 2) What are the character traits that influence this character's voice? (Sylarian is a blood elf, and speaks in grand eloquence, while Regdar likes being casual and colloquial because it puts him and others on the same level.) You can also root this outside of dialogue as necessary. I very very commonly structure my posts as: "Dialogue dialogue dialogue," dialogue tag. Intervening action that connects the concepts. "More dialogue more dialogue." The reason I do this is because I like having a post where I essentially acknowledge the dialogue that came before me and then progress the dialogue to its next point. Not everything is dialogue, obviously, but that kind of post construction is something I use very often. Spectacle This is easy. Spectacle is a lot of the time just something that you do that grabs a ton of attention, even if it's fleeting. This isn't referring to outside of the narrative stuff, though, like Avatar being a spectacle for being the first great 3D movie. This is inside the narrative stuff. Spectacle might be better termed as "surprise" because surprises are basically what Spectacle is addressing. When you do something unexpected, surprise the audience, that's spectacle, and it can be a very useful thing. That surprise grips their attention and skyrockets their engagement. It is fleeting, though, and also has steep diminishing returns, which is why Spectacle comes in last on this list. Do things to switch things up, do things to grab attention, do things to keep folks engaged, but don't put all your effort here because at the end of the day it's not going to get you a ton of mileage. Since plot twists are a very typical form of surprise in most stories, I want to address them here a bit. The mark of a good plot twist is one that the viewer doesn't see coming, but also they realize was earned. A good plot twist needs to be set up well enough that by the time it executes, the audience can do a quick once over of the plot and story that came before and come to the conclusion: "Oh, I should have seen this coming." If you're not layering in your hints, then the audience will be cheated (this is what Deus Ex Machina feels like, because it comes out of left field.) If you're too blatant in your layering, though, the audience will see it coming and you won't get the hyper engaging WOW factor out of it. It's a tight rope, but if you can walk it, you'll do great. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Anyway, that's a brief overview of Aristotle's poetics but rejiggered for RP. Now that I've broken that down, I can finally get into PATHOS, ETHOS, AND LOGOS! which are a topic that I love and really want to dig into. I also added two other topics for future lists, so I'm going to address that down here. -McGuffins -Protagonist Types -Antagonist Types -Tropes/Cliches -Lorebreaking/Lorebending/Lorepolicing -Creating character arcs for characters you don't control -Creating stakes -The Six Components of a Story -Pathos/Ethos/Logos -"RP is small" -Clever Plot Tricks -"And then/But then" -Harmon Story Circle -Harmon TV Circle -A Plots/B Plots/Subplots -Character Arcs -Elements of Style, but for RP
  3. V. She found the other rangers’ corpses later that night. It didn’t take a master tracker to see that Mantid tracks riddled the area around their final resting place. Brin could hear the insectoid wings humming not too far off. She kept moving, not stopping for anything the rest of the night. As the sun rose, hidden though it was behind the thick cloud cover that hung constantly over the Wastes, she knew she was being followed. The stench of death hovered after her, close on her heels. A death knight had a nose for such things, though Brin would have given nearly anything to be rid of the stench. It seemed to exist no matter where she went. A quarter of the way through the day, the orc made a mistake. He stepped into the open while Brin was keeping watch, awaiting his presence to draw nearer so she could get the jump on him. Mantid blood coated his leather armor, and a few roughly stitched wounds of his own glistened red in a beam of sunlight. His battleaxe had several nicks in its blade where he had forcefully parried Mantid strikes. His hatchet had been reduced to a billy club with a splintered edge. He seemed to be listening for something. Brinnea was no master of stealth or subtlety. When his back was turned to her, she charged, knowing the element of surprise wouldn’t likely turn in her favor. As expected, the orc spun to face her, battleaxe swiftly raised, broken hatchet forgotten on the ground, and a sinister grin twisting his bloodstained face. Her long sword flashed like a bolt of lightning. Blue runes ignited, leaving a trail of dazzling azure in the wake of her swing. Mokdeth was terribly predictable. He smacked her strike as if cleaving through the trunk of a tree and aimed a counterstrike at her head. She ducked under the blow and swung for his legs. She was surprised he reacted in time, leaping over her sword. He nearly clobbered her over the unprotected head before she regained her stance. “You dance well, death knight,” the orc spat, lowering his axe. To the untrained eye, he might have seemed tired and unable to continue the fight. Brin’s eyes were not untrained. “You killed the captain, pig! I will take vengeance for him and his rangers!” He scoffed. “His girth was useful for something. Not a bit of shrapnel got on me.” She roared as she thrust at his evil eye. The orc’s movement was swift and, in a way, elegant. A high thrust was pointless against that move. She had seen it used before, only by a knight’s sword. That is why she did not strike high. She feinted, and thrust her blade through the orc’s leather jerkin. Mokdeth merely grunted with displeasure at the sword in his gut. Brin cursed under her breath as she quickly drew back her blade. Fool! she chastised herself. You missed his liver, intestines, or anything really important. Leave it to Bumbling Brin to screw up a perfect feint! Growing more careful, Mokdeth stepped after Brinnea slowly, axe kept lifted in a more reliable stance. Brin aimed a few measured strikes at his feet, head, and hands. He dodged and parried them all, but did not counter. He seemed barely slowed by his wound. She pushed down her impatience and waited for an opening. That’s when she heard the Mantid’s wings rapidly approaching from behind. Rather than make a quick escape, Brin made a riskier maneuver. She cast a howling blast at Mokdeth, who sidestepped it entirely and countered. Brin parried his attack and ducked around to flank the orc, who kept up with her footwork, ready to reprise any attack she threw at him. His cocky expression faded into confusion when she sprinted off into the shadows. Brin took great pleasure in the sight of the orc frantically whirling to face the attacking Mantid who came from behind him. His surprise had cost him a wounded shoulder. She hoped he would lose his head, too. She was so caught up in her success that she never saw the insectoid that clubbed her in the side of the head. She fell head over heels into the dirt, her sword falling loose on the ground. Blood tricked down the side of her head, tickling her ear, though she could hardly feel it. A Mantid aimed a strike at her from above. She threw up her left hand to fend it off. The hungry-looking bug-man seemed surprised to hear a metallic impact when his blade hit her arm and glanced off. The leather of her glove tore, displaying the black iron hand she wore as a prosthetic. She kicked the Mantid off balance and drew her knife, plunging it into her attacker’s throat as she sprang to her feet. A second Mantid appeared. She hastily searched for her sword, but didn’t find it before she was surrounded completely. The dagger fell from her hand when she used it to block an attack. Desperately, she pulled the cord on her iron arm. The hand fell on a hinge, revealing the barrel of a cannon. Before she struck the ignition, a sword fell on her back. She felt the jagged blade slice through metal, leather, and skin. Her back grew damp. Now off-balance, her cannon shot flew with a deafening kaboom! By the time the smoke fell and the Mantid shook off their confusion, she could tell she had missed them all, sending the cannonball hurdling high in the air. Damn the luck, she thought to herself bitterly, abandoning hope. I’m sorry Charlotte. As she awaited the blade that would end her miserable undeath, something caught her eye in the near distance. A small flame. It grew rapidly, engulfing the Mantid around her before fading. Searching for the spell’s origin, she saw someone that filled her with both unparalleled happiness and infernal dread. Her five-year-old daughter, sitting high in the saddle of a deathcharger along with the wolflike boy who she called brother, spoke down to her, “Not to fear, mama! Your heroes have arrived!”
  4. Yesterday
  5. IV. Brinnea spent the next week of travel saying nothing except to answer Furan’s commands. The orc proved an unfaltering pain in the ass for her specifically. Whenever he got the chance, he would throw insults her way, or challenge her abilities with offhanded comments or sarcastic mockery. She rarely said anything in return, fighting herself internally to avoid smacking him across the face for his idiocy. On the last day before their route turned homeward, he went too far. “If you weren’t a death knight, you’d be about the least threatening human I’ve ever come across,” he said with a mouthful of morning bacon slurring his speech. He gulped down the greasy meat without chewing much. “I bet your father was some pansy mage your mother took pity on. Or maybe he beat you as a runty pup. Would explain your lack of spine.” Flashes of her father rippled through her mind like waves in a storm. She remembered how he had loved her. And how the drink took that love away. She turned around to face the orc and punched him in the gut. He doubled over immediately, coughing up spittle at her feet. The rangers swooped in faster than Brinnea could believe and restrained them both. They didn’t keep Mokdeth still for long. He shook off the Pandaren and charged at the still-retrained Brinnea. He shouted, “Did I hit a nerve, pinkskin? Here, I’ll find another one!” He kicked her in the groin and laughed as she doubled over. The pain was subdued compared to what a living person would feel. That said, it hurt so much her legs went limp, leaving the rangers to hold her up where before they had had to hold her back. Before Mokdeth could follow up with another witty remark or low blow, an arrow impaled itself in his boot. It had missed his toes as far as Brin could tell; the orc reacted only by glancing sleepily at the arrow’s source. Furan stood apart from the group, calmly knocking another arrow. The expression on his face betrayed his serene demeanor, but his hands were steady and unhurried. “Everyone back in formation. Now.” The rangers released Brin as soon as she regained full use of her legs. They began to line back up to carry on down the path, and Mokdeth followed them, rubbing his core. He scoffed at Brin cockily. “Yeah, human. Fall back in line, like an obedient little zombie.” She raised her fists. “Oh, you don’t even know how to shut up, do you?” He pulled the arrow out of his boot, but didn’t move. He gave Furan a sidelong look. “You really want to get in the middle of this, Captain?” “There must be a way the two of you can work together,” the captain said with a hint of desperation touching his voice. “It cannot be this way forever. You’ll both end up dead out here if you cannot see that!” Before Brin could tell the Captain what she thought about that, one of the rangers shouted a warning. A buzzing sound rapidly approached from above, and out of the darkness from all around, buglike figures appeared, advancing at breakneck speed and bearing armor and weapons of dull amber. The Captain shouted an order than Brin couldn’t make out over the sound of beating wings. Her sword flashed into her hand, deflecting an amber blade before biting into the Mantid’s exoskeleton with a savage counterattack aimed at where a human would have a collarbone. One fell, and two more replaced it. The Pandaren rangers, human, and orc all stood together in a small circle, fighting the Mantid as they appeared. Brin thought their group had shrunk, and noticed a pair of Pandaren corpses out of the corner of her eye. Furan’s bow sat forgotten and trampled nearby. He had drawn his sword instead. Mokdeth fought like a demon, striking out with a battleaxe and a hatchet in either hand. Each blow crumpled Mantid bodies like folded paper, leaving a messy pile for the rest to scramble over. Brinnea parried, countered, and hacked her way through those that advanced on her. These Mantid were clearly not blooded given their lack of skill, but the ambush had done its work by the end. Attacks from above claimed three more rangers before the insectoids fled en masse. Six of them remained – four rangers including Furan, and Brin and Mokdeth. One of the Pandaren was badly wounded, and supported by two of her comrades. The amber blades did nasty work on the body – the spikes built into the blade made them cut unevenly, so they didn’t run deep every time. Instead, they left puncture wounds that bled more profusely than cuts, and some of the spikes even broke off inside the body to infect the bloodstream with viral infections. Brinnea knew the technique well. Too well. The ground around them was riddled with blood, bodies, and equipment. Furan gave a few quick orders, clearly expending great effort to keep himself calm. Brin gathered their dead allies for a small pyre before she heard more buzzing in the distance. “They’re regrouping,” she warned, “Sounds like there’s more than there were before. We have to get out of here, Captain.” Furan seemed torn. He looked at his fallen brothers and sisters in arms regretfully before sheathing his blade. “She’s right. There’s no time to tend to the dead. We need to get back to the Wall. Mei needs medical attention and we need to report this engagement.” Mokdeth stood before Furan before he could lead a hasty retreat. “We haven’t checked the last location, Pandaren. Are you planning on abandoning the mission due to a few casualties? Sounds like fear talking to me.” Brin took an angry step toward the orc before Furan signaled for her to halt. “We haven’t the time to finish the route, Mokdeth,” the Captain said with a level voice. “Don’t you hear the Mantid? There will be more – too many to handle. We have to get back alive.” “We? Or just you? I can hear the fear in your voice, Furan. There’s a job to do and you’re too scared to see it through. How’d a coward like you ever make it as a ranger, anyhow?” He’d gone too far. Furan struck him in the chest with an open palm. The orc collapsed onto the ground. “I sacrificed everything I cared about to get where I am today, orc!” the Captain put a foot down on Mokdeth’s throat, pinning him to the ground. Brinnea and the rangers watched on, unsure of what to do. They eyed he sky nervously as the sound of beating wings grew closer. “I have lost too many brothers and sisters to let it happen again! I refuse to be the last one standing this time, so get up and fall back to the Wall!” He released the orc just in time to be struck in the side of the head by a metal sphere. Knocked off balance, he stared blankly at the burning fuse at his feet before shouting an order to run. Brin’s eyes widened and she reached for both Mokdeth and Furan with her death grip spell to pull them to safety as the other rangers scrambled to follow their captain’s orders. She only managed to tug them partway to her, unable to pull two people so far at once. They were still well within the range of the grenade, and they both knew it. The fuse burned low. Brinnea was turning to get out of the grenade’s range, so she could only see what happened next out of the corner of her eye. Mokdeth grabbed the Pandaren by the scruff and tossed him back at the explosive. She somehow heard his hideous scream over the ear-deafening boom.
  6. Last week
  7. Now, I've talked a lot about the larger than life stakes that I go nuts for, but I want to dwell on the opposite for a moment and really illustrate why focusing on small stakes can be of great benefit to your story. There are folks that are unlike me that have a very tough time with epic stakes. Why? Because RP is small. And what I mean by that is, outside of locations and events that we control the entire context of, RP cannot as a rule affect the greater context of the game world. None of our RP will ever have the ability to redefine the world, and even if Lohd writes that we fail to stop the monster in time, Dalaran will still be standing when we show up tomorrow to do our world quests and buy our Seals of Broken Fate. This incongruity, by the way, is something I'm going to touch on and get into in the future, but for now I just want to dwell on the fact that, no, we can't unleash a crazy Nightmare corruption virus on Dalaran. It is too big to work; RP is small. Because RP is small and those epic stakes are happening back to back, though, the way some people's brains processes that information is very straightforward: There is a 0% chance that these stakes could be realized. We're not betting the house on a winning hand, we're playing with monopoly money and pretending that it's millions of dollars. To these people, the idea that the stakes are that high just proves that they can never be followed through upon, which means there are no stakes. At the end of the day, we're going to beat the monster and everything will be fine. In other words, it completely undoes the good work that you've done by introducing stakes in the first place. You can't trick people into putting their knowledge of story aside if they know the outcome, and not for any reason that's diagetic (a term to denote what happens inside of the world of the story; non-diagetic would be what occurs outside the realm of the story world, like metagaming) , it's not like their character knows that there's this ace up their sleeve that guarantees victory. If they know victory is assured, you haven't actually created any stakes either. And when you go big, you also tip off to saavy players piloting their characters that whatever you described as going to happen if you fail not to be at stake at all. So, if this is the problem, how does one solve it? You go small. This is the genius of how Lohd set up his Act 3 of that Nightmare storyline, because he gave us all three options. Yeah, I'm sure plenty of people knew that Dalaran wasn't a threat at all, but the guildhall? It's a completely fabricated location that we decide the entire context for. If Lohd wanted, he could have had his Nightmare monster literally bring the guildhall to ruin, reduced it to rubble. Those are stakes that are controlled and executable on in the very same crosshairs as the stakes that aren't. And, because victory is something that often happens in degrees, it's entirely possible that we save the city (which everyone knows was going to happen, anyway) but lose the guildhall, and have to face that bitter victory. Hell, even if you can't get anyone on board with a location like the guildhall, and those medium calibur stakes, you can go small and personal. Invest in a specific character, a specific NPC, get the players on board for them and their survival and when you put that character on the line, boom, fantastic stakes for someone that likes to go small. You control that NPC. You have in your hand whether they live or die. Look, destroying a guildhall is pretty fucking disruptive. What happens to all the other storylines? What about the other scenes in it? People who aren't involved in that storyline? Are you really going to ruin that for them? But even if you're facing a skeptic of that calibur, killing your own NPC? That couldn't be in anyone's power besides your own. Those are some stakes. That said, I don't think it's the easiest thing to get that kind of investment into characters. What characters players will get attached to and what characters they don't is a science that is very tough to uncover, especially in RP where things are so dynamic from end to end. I will say that I think it's plenty possible, and I'm sure I'll get into it in the future. (Those of you who know me better believe that a whole big ass thing on "Pathos" is coming down the pike.) So, I've basically hit on a lot of the math that underlies stakes and why they should exist, why you should be conscious of them in your writing, why you include them and how they work on players. But I do want to include a gigantic caveat: Stakes also are built on trust between someone who's creating RP or a story for someone else, and that should be respected as much as possible. It is not your right to cut off someone's arm. It is not your right to kill their character. It is not your right to force your stakes, win or lose, onto another player. But it's absolutely something that you can ask of them. Recently, in a bit of RP that got me thinking about all of this, I'm doing some small worldbuilding work for another player's storyline, a warlock that wants to retrieve their soul from a dreadlord that their mother sold for power. My character, another warlock that's gone through a similar process and is coaching her on the erratic rituals and fel sacrifices that she'll need to make in order to accomplish that goal. As a note, and I'll talk a bit about this when I talk about power levels, but I'm a firm believer that if you're going to give your character an upgrade in power (in this case, getting her soul back and possibly a big power boost from the kill of the Dreadlord) you need to make them work for it. This is more a community minded thing than anything regarding the storytelling, though, it also happens to be excellent storytelling as a bonus. The community is much more willing to allow big upgrades to characters when you can show your work, how hard it was for you to trudge through the muck to get there, when you can display for all to see that you *EARNED* this. It was not given to you. And, to be honest, on top of that I think it's just that much more satisfying to wear that storyline as a badge of honor for others. It's not satisfying to tell a story where everything was a cakewalk, but it's great to tell people how the RP you did wasn't pulling punches on your character. So, as part of the ritual, my warlock informs her that she's going to need to kill one of her demons, the one that she uses most often (who ended up being her succubus) in order to prepare herself to absorb her soul from the dreadlord. These were the stakes that I was giving her. Then, her warlock asked if there were any other way that she could accomplish her goal. Now, my thought process immediately struck two thoughts: 1) Out of character, she wants me to say "Yes." This sacrifice is not what she's looking for and wants another option. 2) Out of character, she wants me to say "No." This question is something her character would ask, but she wants me to force her warlock down this path because it's important not to pull that punch and to hit her where it hurt. So, faced with two equally likely options, I did what any good GM would do. I just asked her in OoC chat: "Hey, do you want there to be an alternative?" Turns out, option 1 it was and so I outlined a separate version of events with the toll directly hitting her character, rather than being emotionally tied to her connection to the succubus. In fact, I used the opportunity to both up the drama with the one-two punch of "There is another option, but it's going to be much harder on you" and "We're in uncharted territory, now, and I can't guide you through it step by step." That addendum, that extra option, was an opportunity for me to pump the stakes of the situation and I did. Now, not only is her warlock going to be drained by the process, a gaunt husk of herself for a time, forever weaker, but if she can succeed at her aims and take the dreadlord's power for her own, she'll be all the stronger for the process. And this state of things that we ended up in, with stakes through the roof, happened because we collaborated to get there. I think this kind of OoC coordination is important, especially when you're asking players to accept the stakes that you're putting up. If you're going to follow through with destroying the guildhall, you probably want to ask some permission before you write that into things. Railroading folks is just basically never going to be the right call when it comes to this. The last thing I want to touch on is the plot twist that are inherent to stakes, managing the kind of consequences that you set up for yourself when you are setting up these stakes for your characters and your storylines. While I don't think this really applies to the big world shaking ones like I mentioned, knowing when to kill off that NPC and when to let them live is a big part of setting up your stakes. Do you destroy the guildhall? There are going to be serious, far ranging consequences for doing so. As with most things, I am always going to advocate thinking it through and not making a decision haphazardly, even if you're improvising. There are two reasons for this, the most prominent being that not thinking things through can put everyone in a tricky spot where unintended consequences of that action have to be dealt with and no one is ready or in a place to do so. I'm absolutely on board if anyone wants to say "That kind of spontaneity can create great openings for RP!" and yeah, I think that can sometimes be the case, but others it can leave gaping plot holes that dismantle the logic of your story and shred the continuity you're making. The second reason is because most players internalize the relationship between themselves and the story in very direct ways, and when you have the stakes of the situation fall through, the players have just lost. Even if they beat the bad guy and accomplish this goal, them not being able to save everyone, them not being able to save the guildhall, them not being able to do whatever it is that you had them put at stake in the story is going to feel frustrating and bad. A lot of time, confronting players with a bittersweet win, making them cope with a Pyrrhic victory, can be some of the greatest RP and drama and tension that you get. But players like to have solid, fist pumping Big Damn Heroes wins, too, and having them walk away from a tough conflict with the goal intact and whatever got put at stake safe again is also something that they look for. I don't have a great sense for what works and what doesn't in a general sense, because this stuff is all context, but I would be sensitive to punishing players brutally over and over, and don't shy away from letting them get a big, fat win for themselves. ------------------------------------------------------- OK, that was stakes. I'm not sure what I want to do next time, but I'm sure I'll think of something. Things that I still have on the list: -McGuffins -Villains -Tropes/Cliches -Lorebreaking/Lorebending/Lorepolicing -Creating character arcs for characters you don't control -Creating stakes -Pathos/Ethos/Logos -"RP is small" Let me know if you want me to cover any of those first.
  8. The charter was finally received from his Majesty's council, the Praetorian will begin looking for new members with haste. This king needs a worthy guard, after what had happened to his father, and the dangerous now facing the Alliance, we must do all that we can to assure our people that the King is safe. I must say my faith in the Alliance, after the death of his father, King Varian Wrynn, Highlord Fordragon, and the subsequent weaknesses exhibited by the Silver Hand after the assault on Light's Hope by the Ebon Blade, in concurrence with the Legion invasion, had shaken my faith to its core. I used to express only absolute faith in the Light to cope with what was happening around me... and exude confidence to those who followed my lead, and in the end it took me to a place I never wanted to go. That doesn't mean that I do not believe in the Light, or have any less drive to achieve its goals, but I think I had so much self doubt after all that had happened that I forced myself outwardly to act a certain way... so that nobody else could see the doubts that I was in fact facing. I am not sure I even make sense now... but I just know I need to return to the teachings of the Light. It's true teachings, that which I was fortunate enough to learn from some of the greatest Knight's of the Silver Hand. When I was younger, I lost my family as many who are from Lordearon did, and was beset by conflict. A mere squire in the Silver Hand, necessity forced my martial training to accelerate, and I was fortunate enough to end up under the command of the Grand Crusader, before the events of Stratholme that saw his unfortunate demise... the fervor the original Scarlet Crusade fought for is what I remember, and I remember it through a prism that I am certain is lost upon many and that many do not understand. They know only what it became, the bastardized version of it that the Legion created. But before that, it was my only symbol of hope... my only true crutch, it kept me upright in so many ways. Oh certainly the Light was there, but I was young and the teachings of wiser men then me, now dead, seemed of little consequence... the Light was always there, but the Crusade was -MY- hope at the time. That is what I truly was unable to convey when I sought to revive the banner. A long forgotten hope, that during desperate times, gave me the personal strength to carry on. When I combined that with the faith that came later in life... after seeing the Naaru in Shattrath, the perseverance of Highlord Fordring against the Lich King... I tried to meld them into what I thought the Crusade could become, and I thought that I could overcome its perception, that righteousness could win the day. However, as I got more and more desperate, as the times grew more and more perilous, the evil that I sought to combat, and the image I sought to repair... overcame me. This was my weakness and my failure. The Light and its true teachings are what I need to lean on, and not some glorious image of what was, or what could be. I need to follow MY path and Light willing, I shall work to correct the errors I have made.
  9. At the gates of Dragon’s Roost Port, the base of Borrowed Time, a small Forsaken female rode up on a galloping skeletal horse. Both mount and rider were covered in black and red armor. Although many knives of various shapes and sizes were visible on her person, Syreena’s hands were empty, except for the reins, which she used to slow the horse to a walk as she drew closer. As always, the Grim tabard was worn over her armor. She noticed that the reinforced iron composing the fortifications of the port seemed relatively new around what looked like a former battlefield. Craters littered the landscape, with any form of growth burned away by fire and oil that still had a vague scent about the place that was intermingled with the sea breeze. Briefly, she wondered what had happened here, but she was only mildly interested. She was focused on the task at hand. It wasn't long before much attention was pulled towards the gates. The colors and the description of the Forsaken woman were enough to call plenty more guards into watchful motion. Of the gathered guards one figure stood out among them. A ranger, hooded and armed with a bow in hand, stood on the wall and peered down at their guest. The dim verdant glow of his eyes studied the tabard and every weapon that clung to her. Despite the potential threat of so many guards, Syreena was both amused and flattered by the attention. Still, it wouldn’t do her any good to get shot full of arrows before she’d accomplished what she came for. As her horse chomped the bit and shook his head, Syreena remained still and calm. "Brave, stupid, or both,” Faelenor called down to her. “Either way you've managed to get our attention." He turned to each of the guards that followed him and mouthed something to them before turning back to her. "What do you want?" The guard nodded and made his way down from the wall, motioning for another one of the orcs to follow him "I want to hire someone for a job,” she said to Faelenor. The two orcs emerged from the gate and advanced upon the undead. One held a bowling ball sized orb in its hand that he tossed into the air. A red wave emerged from it to wash over the mount and the rogue in a downward motion. The horse, being battle trained, didn't shy from it, but pinned his ears and snapped at it. As the cloud fell over horse and rider, it produced and unpleasant feeling but seemed to have no effect beyond that. “She’s real,” one of the guards announced. “What the fel?” Syreena demanded, putting a hand on one of the large daggers at her hip. " Standard procedure,” the guard explained. “An increased number of Legion infiltrators warrants the checking of every guest coming into the port." The orc motioned up towards Faelenor with an affirmative hand sign. "Oh," she muttered at the explanation. "Well, you could have warned me." Faelenor drew an arrow from its quiver as her hand reached for the dagger. The bow raised and the arrow was nocked all in the same motion. "Though in your case...being real is actually the worst of the possibilities,” Faelenor informed the little rogue. "You have come here to hire one of us?” She looked back up at Faelenor and slowly removed her hand from the dagger to place it back on the reins. "That's right. I want to hire someone. For a job. Like I said." "Yeah, I heard you the first time. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't going mad." Fael loosened the tension on the bowstring, setting the arrow back into its quiver, but kept his mark on the tiny rogue. "Name your business here and now, and perhaps I can find you a fool to take your job." She frowned, looking around, having pictured this discussion not happening quite as out in the open as this. She stifled a sigh as she looks back up at the ranger on the wall. "I'm looking for help in finding someone." "And your idea of searching for help was to come to Borrowed Time of all places. You understand that you probably would have had a better chance at begging Sanctuary or the Alliance for assistance." Fael pulled out his comm mumbled into it. When he finished, he pocketed the device and shouts back down. "Wait there." He moved from his spot but guards quickly take his place. Syreena held her tongue, but she frowned, trying to remember why Borrowed Time hated her so much. Surely they wouldn’t still be this upset over Dora's knee. She waited where she was, but she kept a grip on the reins, ready to signal the mount to run if guards suddenly started swarming out of the gate. "Grumpy, aren't they?" she mutters softly to Bones, her horse. "You'd think they don't want the work." A moment passed before the gate opened. The ranger walked out alone, armed with his bow and a pair of blades on his belt. He stepped carefully towards the Forsaken, signaling with a quick wave of his hand. The gates closed and the guards pulled bows of their own from their stations. Such attention from the guards that she had initially found flattering, was quickly becoming irritating. "Your window of time is short and it's slowly closing,” Faelenor told her. “This is as close to private and within the walls of the gate as you are going to get. So start talking." She was in need of their service. They could care less of what she was willing to pay. But curiosity won out over reason. She slid down off her horse and took a few steps toward the ranger, careful to keep her hands away from her blades. "I don't want to go within your walls. This is fine." Suddenly overcome with doubt about her decision to hire Borrowed Time for this, she fell quiet for a moment, hesitating before stating her request. "I'm looking for someone. I haven't seen him in...well, years. But I saw a friend of his twice since the Horde sailed for the Broken Shore, a guild mate. I'm busy with other business, but I'm hoping for help tracking down this friend to find out what happened to the person I used to know." "Almost every tracker, ranger, or hunter in this establishment has something against you. It's to your fortune that I got here first, or else you may have lost more than a knee cap this time around." Fael hooked his bow back in its resting spot, eyeing the rogue and her surroundings. The goggled lens that covered his right eye hummed as he looks around. Syreena wondered what he was looking for, then figured he probably thought she wasn’t alone. Maybe he expected the entirety of The Grim to come charging out at the gate to take over Borrowed Time’s base. In the interests of a better chance of doing business, she refrained from voicing such sarcastic thoughts. "So either you believe yourself rich enough to pay for this job or you aren't terribly keen on keeping your head... but I'll bite,” Fael continued. “Give me a little more to work on." "Everyone has something against everyone," she says mildly. "Last I heard, you guys take jobs. If that's no longer true, I'll leave." She tilted her head at him. "You want more details... Does that mean you'll take the job?" "Like any establishment that provides invaluable service to their patrons, which I can understand if you aren't familiar with that concept, we also have the right to refuse you. Given your past history with us I shouldn't really have to go into too much more detail. However, through some miracle, the order to send you away wasn't given. So, I'll ask again. The details of the job... we will need more. We need to send the right mercenaries to do the job after all... unless you want Cobrak hunting down an old friend of yours?" "I...didn't say he was a friend. I said I saw his friend," she argued, having second thoughts again. She was reluctant to admit to a group of mercenaries who hated her, what Lucion meant to her. She bit her bottom lip briefly, not even seeming to notice that her filed pointy teeth drew blood. "Maybe this isn't a good idea...." she says, as she started to turn away. She stopped though. If not Borrowed Time to help find Razvaan , then who? "Is it? Can you do business with me without bringing personal issues of the past into it?" "Why do you think you weren't made a pin cushion at the very start of this?" He held out his hand and with another wave the guards stowed their bows and moved back to their regular positions. "So, if you want to discuss a business proposition then now is your chance. Consider my interest a show of good faith." She glanced up at the guards, then she took another step closer to Faelenor. After another moment's hesitation, she began speaking only loud enough so that, barring any special powers or equipment, only he and her horse would hear her. "All right then,” she started. “I'm looking for a man named Lucion. He's Forsaken. He once led a guild called Broken Sanity. Recently, I saw his friend and guildmate, another Forsaken by the name of Razvaan, but I lost sight of him before I could catch up to him and talk to him." "Where was it you last saw him?" He asked as he shifts the bow on his back. "In Dalaran, on the street between the Legerdemain and the wine & cheese shop. Maybe two weeks ago? I saw him once before that too, on a ship leaving from Bladefist Bay for the Broken Shore." "Anyone else with Razvaan when you found him? Perhaps something more notable to help track him down. The streets of Dalaran and ships leaving to the Broken Shore aren't exactly enough to go off of. Two weeks ago leaves a large enough time frame for him to be long gone by now." Syreena’s frustration was evident as she shook her head. "No, I don't know. If it was easy to find him, I would have by now. That's why I need help." Noting the frustration, Fael gave a sly smirk. "I'm simply gauging the expenses of the work. Given the complexity of this job and the resources needed to find him I imagine you know it won't come cheap. Being that this is a mercenary establishment, talk of compensation was inevitable." She nodded, seemingly not upset at all at the subject of the cost. "How much? And also, I assume that, since this is a paid job, that a certain amount of....professional'standard procedure'?" she asked, using the guard's words from earlier. "That's dependent on the merc who gets the job and what their definition of professional discretion is. My interest was personal. But as far as fees go I want to make sure you understand that the more you pay the more professional the work. Dirty deeds aren't done dirt cheap. Once the contract is made and signed you are guaranteed what you pay for. " Fael looked over the rogue once more before asking his final question. "Why not go to the Grim for help? Couldn't you just yell out your mantra and have a pick of the first that yell it back to aid you for free? You had to expect that question to come about eventually?" Her brow furrowed, twisting her patchwork-stitched face. She shrugged, kicking at a small piece of debris in the dirt. "I don't see many of them much. I mean, they're busy....killing demons, and Alliance, and elves in the Nighthold, and...." She trailed off, looking up at Faelenor with a frown. "Does it really matter anyway? It's not a dirty job. I'm not trying to hurt anyone or anything. I'm sure you guys wouldn't take a job like that for me." "Discretion comes with caution. You know who you are but even if you weren't Syreena these questions are still extremely relevant. Our forces aren't exactly laying around waiting for the next job to fall on our laps. But someone has to watch over the port and today just happened to be my day. So yes, it does matter. Simply because we would be sending one of own to do the job. And if it means making sure they come back alive, I will ask for any information I find relevant. As for the job, I will talk with Cobrak and see who he wants to assign it to. If no one cares to work then I may just pick it up myself. Give us until tomorrow to decide. I will send you a message when the decision has been made." He took a step back and bowed his head. "All things considered...this is the best that I can do for you." "Oh," she says. Then she winced. "Cobrak? Are you going to tell him it's for me?" "He has eyes and ears all over the port. He'd know it was a job for you even if I decided to keep it a secret. Besides. Who do you think gave the order to listen to you? It's up to the discretion of the merc if they want your job. We don't hold them to any oath or mantra. So long as they know what they are getting themselves into and won't bring back harm to our port... they can deal with whom ever they want." She tilted her head, considering that. "He already knows I'm here...." she muttered to herself, looking back up at the guards on the wall as if they were suddenly going to start shooting at her. "Umm, okay. I'll watch for your message then. And you'll let me know how much it will cost?" "Yes yes...variable costs are just so difficult to determine right away. Now then..." He gave out a whistle and the gate doors opened. "I will discuss this further with him and I will get word to you tomorrow. Tread carefully...Syreena." "Okay. Thanks....for not shooting me." The little rogue nodded, then backed up a couple steps before turning to find her horse, who had wandered a short ways off. Apparently Bones had given up his search for grass in the burnt area. He was eating dirt. Syreena yanked his head up by the reins and mounted up, looking back at the ranger and the guards on the wall. As the gate began to close, Syreena wheeled Bones around and kicked him into a gallop, going back the way she came. The ranger stepped backwards into the port and watched as the gate closed. He let out a sigh, taking a moment to relax himself before making his way to the office. "Why didn't I shoot her again?" he asked himself as he walked up towards Cobrak’s office.
  10. Eight months ago….. The Legion was invading Azeroth. We had been fighting them all over the world. Wave after wave of demons kept coming. Plans were being made to travel to the Broken Shore and fight them there. Although I would not be among the first to travel the Shore, I took a walk one day from the gates of Orgrimmar to Bladefist Bay and observed the preparations being made. Weapon smiths, cooks, armorers, combat trainers, and other various vendors were there, trying to make some coin for themselves while they better prepared heroes to fight a never-ending enemy. These heroes—champions, mercenaries, adventurers—were lined up at the Bay, waiting their turn to board the ship that would soon take them to battle. Perched on a post at the land end of the docks, I watched them as they loaded themselves aboard with various expressions. Some looked eager, some frightened, some resigned. All had sharp weapons, shiny armor, and a sack full of food from the vendors. Each one was determined not to be among the first casualties of this crowd when they landed, as if giving their coin to the vendors would prevent that. I was just about to return to the city when I caught sight of a Forsaken on the deck. By now, I had given up all hope of ever finding Lucion. He still crossed my mind from time to time, but I had long ago accepted that he was nothing more than a sweet memory of happier days. But I recognized the priest on the ship. If Razvaan wasn’t second in command of Lucion’s guild, he was close to it. I had met him a few times back in the days when Lucion and I were close. If anyone knew what happened to Lucion, it would be him. “Razvaan!” I called his name as I ran down the docks, but he didn’t hear me. The ship pulled away from the docks, along with my chance to learn what had become of Lucion. I decided to head to the Broken Shore right away. However, when I went back to Orgrimmar to begin preparations, I found an opportunity to strike at Sanctuary which eventually led to the Ghostlands and a three-month delay. One month ago….. After watching Razvaan leaving Bladefist Bay, I found myself thinking more often of him and Lucion. I wondered if Lucion could have been aboard that very ship. The possibility would not leave me. I did my share of killing demons on the Broken Shore, but that wasn’t my only goal there. I kept an eye out always for Lucion or Razvaan or anyone else wearing Broken Sanity’s colors. I told nobody. Muatah once told me that it was wrong to waste time looking back. It was not the Grim way to reminisce or go searching for long lost loved ones. I would find no support there. I should spend my time killing Alliance and demons, not chasing ghosts from long ago. Then one day in Dalaran, I saw him again. Through the crowd, a block or so ahead of me, I caught a glimpse of Razvaan. I called out to him and tried to push through the mass of people, but again, he didn’t hear me, and I lost him. For days, I sat on the railing of the Legerdemain balcony, watching for him, but if he passed by there again, I never saw him. Frustrated, I considered my options. I was no tracker. I had no skill for finding people in a city as crowded as Dalaran, or a land as big as the Broken Shore. If I wanted to find Razvaan, if I wanted a chance to find out where Lucion was, or even if he was still alive, I would need professional help. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  11. And what would the me of only a year ago think of me now? I often think about writing in my journal, but then I never do. There’s too much to do. I barely get to go into the field anymore because I’m always busy delegating tasks and settling disputes. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Leads on Karthok. Coordinating with Twilight Empire and Night Vanguard. The whole Catalinetta mess. Speaking of the last… Of all people to walk into my office, I was not expecting Tammy. I thought she had moved on and made her own life. I don’t understand why she continues to resent me. If I can find it in me to not resent her and to put the blame where it belongs, she certainly should be able to. This whole Catalinetta thing really is a mess. I hate putting Cerryan in this position. I should just ask him to recuse himself from the matter. The truth is, I’m still bitter over what he did, and I’m putting insane expectations on him to try to win back my trust – and expecting him to fail. That’s what I’m doing. I need to figure out how to put it behind me. It’s just… hard to forgive and forget, sometimes. When you fully expect for the same thing to happen again. I should talk to Kex’ti about this. It’s been kind of hard to talk to him lately. I was actually glad when he pushed back about Cobrak. Sometimes I worry that I’m too strong-willed and that I just override his wishes. But how can I not insist on something I feel is absolutely true and necessary? I just can’t shake the feeling that more and more he agrees with whatever I say because pushing back isn’t worth it. That’s not the way I want it to be. I need to listen better. I miss Shokkra. It’s been so quiet without her. I still believe that she’s just fine, wherever she is – physically, at least. Karthok wanted her to be his and wouldn’t hurt her. But I can’t imagine what this forced confinement must be doing to her. I’m worried about her. When we have her back, I’m going to spend a lot of time with her. Guess I’d better get back to my paperwork for now, though. These requisitions won’t approve themselves.
  12. Sometimes, in the fleeting quiet moments between battles, when my mind is left to wander as it will, it takes me back to him. Those memories are still whole, untouched by the wicked sorcery of the human professor. At times, I am grateful that these most precious memories were spared. Other times, I think it would have been a mercy if they'd been taken or scrambled with so many others. I remember the first day I met him. That day was at least ten years ago. I was buying poison in Undercity when he approached the same vendor. He seemed to know him. They made small talk and joked with each other, while I was still waiting for my purchase. I got irritated with him, but he started talking and joking with me too, as if we were old friends. He soon had me laughing along with them, my irritation forgotten. I remember sparring outside the front gates of the Undercity until we were both beaten and bloodied. And then we’d spar some more, telling ourselves we were only trying to determine which of us was the better fighter. In truth, we both knew we were evenly matched, but we continued the fights for the sheer joy of combat and each other’s company. I remember hunting mages with him in Felwood, positioning ourselves carefully -- one to ambush the mage and the other to intercept after the inevitable blink. We made such a bloody sport of slaughtering the felcloth gatherers there. I remember sneaking through Stormwind Park together, collecting coins from the Elders, and murdering any Alliance who crossed our path. We’d laugh as we ran and hid from the guards, reveling in the bloodshed and the danger. I remember the quiet talks about fighting, about The Grim, about his guild, about our pasts, about anything and everything. They were secret talks. In those days, Grims did not have close relationships with non-Grims. It just did not happen. He also led his own guild. I met a few of them now and then, but I never got to know them very well. The time we spent together was most often private time shared by just the two of us. “Marry me,” he said one day during one of these talks. I had never before considered the possibility of marriage. What would I do with a husband? What would I do as a wife? I was Forsaken. I had once been dead and was now undead. I would never be able to give him children. I couldn’t even be with him as a wife should be with a husband, and I had no desire to be that way with anyone. I was also Grim. Grims did not often marry, and they never married outside the guild. There was no chance he would abandon his own guild to become Grim. He was too willful to ever take orders from another. “I can’t,” I answered quietly. “You’re not Grim.” I expected him to be disappointed, or angry, or insulted. Instead, he laughed his carefree laugh and said, “You are Grim through and through.” He disappeared sometime after that. I thought him lost forever, claimed by a final death, or some new adventure. Two years later, I would see him one more time. Eight years ago…… The Alliance had invaded Orgimmar again. They seemed determined to kill Thrall. I was part of a small unit of Grim aiding the defense. By the time we got there, most of the Alliance had already been killed or driven off. We helped kill the remaining Alliance as they fled. As the last stragglers were dealt with, something about one of the other Forsaken there caught my attention. He cut down a druid that was trying to sprint away in cat form. In my mind, memories stirred as I watched him move and fight. He was different though. His eyes were now a frosty blue instead of the glowing gold I remembered, his daggers were gone in favor of a large sword, and he wore plate instead of the usual supple leather. Still, I knew without a doubt it was him. “Lucion.” I breathed his name without thinking. Although it was barely a whisper, he looked at me then. After all the time that had passed, I felt nervous as I approached him. “Do you remember me?” “I remember I gave you a flower in Undercity. A lotus. I remember you wearing a black dress. You are all grown up now.” We talked the rest of the evening. It was like before, but it was also different. He told me some things about the time he’d been gone, but he didn’t remember everything. Something about a warlock, a crystal, and a priest with all the answers, and something about empowering the Forsaken, but he didn’t know any details. I was so happy he was back, and I vowed to help him find answers. I never saw him again.
  13. "Prideful" is more like "elitist" for Zuffid, and I couldn't work in Fhen's significant anger issues (because none of the others really deal with anger). It's an excellent thought exercise to see how your characters compare and contrast.
  14. As Vilmah and Yemana have done, please include estimated prices with your proposals, so folks can weigh that into their decision-making!
  15. New Orleans proposal: Dates: January - March 2018 (not during Mardi Gras) Travel: Louis Armstrong International Airport Home Base: House on Bourbon St. ($ will depend on how many people sign up, $1500 a night) Includes Hot Tub Balcony Kitchen Large Living Space Within Walking Distance (of home base): Day Cemetery Tours $25.00 Steamboat Cruise $32.00 Cocktail History Walking Tour $65.00 Food History Tour $55 - $120 Riverwalk Free Audubon Aquarium $29.95 Cafe Du Monde $5.45. Cafe Du Monde Coffee And Chicory Regular $5.74. Cafe Du Monde Coffee And Chicory Decaf $5.88. Cafe Du Monde French Roast Coffee $23.99. Twelve Cafe Au Lait Pralines $13.99. Six Cafe Au Lait Pralines $23.99. Twelve Creamy Pralines $13.99. Six Creamy Pralines Eat Alligator Voodoo Museum $7.00 Night Karaoke Free Burlesque Show $15 general admission / $25 VIP Live Jazz Free Ghost Tours $15 - $100 Bourbon Street Free Drink Absinthe Varies
  16. - for weather references - All about the Franklin Zoo - All about the New England Aquarium (with whale watching!) - lots of different history, hotels, and attractions - more attractions
  17. What was the statistical inventory you used to get values to feed to the graph?
  18. There was a discussion at TNG Con about the kinds of characters you play. Although at the time my position was that everyone has a spectrum of personality that they're able to roleplay within, after reflecting on it awhile, I realized that a simple bipolar spectrum wouldn't really encompass, at least for me, the range of characters I play. So I had the idea that there are certain traits I'm capable of portraying in my characters, and that the end result for each character would look like like a unique radar map of those traits. And then it occurred to me that this could be a really fun exercise for everyone to partake in! So if you buy into this theory, what are the major traits that you're able to portray in your characters, and where does each character fall on that chart? I decided to go with five traits, with a value of 0-5 in each trait (half values accepted). It was fun figuring out what five traits could encompass all my characters and where each character registers on each axis. Here is the result! Make your own graph here! Helpful things to keep in mind: None of the traits need to be opposites of each other. Just because you can play a masochistic character doesn't mean you can play a sadistic one. Pick traits that describe a character's nature, not hobbies or skills. Not all of your characters need to share all the traits. Some can have negligible values in some of the traits. On the chart maker, "items" should be traits, and each "group" should be a character. Change "Show Labels" to "No" to get rid of the number boxes. Values of 0 don't show up very well. If you have to use them, try rearranging the axes to something that shows your values clearly.
  19. III. They patrolled the trail in silence for some time, sticking to the shadows like bugs on a log. Brinnea fingered the hilt of her sword, trying to keep her senses focused on her task, but her thoughts drifted to the voice on the air. She tried to push those thoughts down, and listen to the sounds of the wasteland around her, but she feared the voice would find her again. Lost in thought as she was, Brin nearly fell over Furan when he stopped abruptly in front of her. “Quiet!” he whispered harshly. “Look over there, a small flame!” She followed his point, and saw it flickering in the distance. “It’s too obvious,” Brinnea said as she shook off her daze. “A trap?” He grimaced. “Or a signal for help. Come, it isn’t far.” He went, stepping soft as a fox despite his girth. She stepped after him, at least half his size but twice as loud. Not far from where the fire burned, they halted, still in the shadows, and watched closely. It was a campsite, by all appearances. A log was placed by the campfire, presumably for sitting on, and various cooking utensils, pans, and pots sat around the fire as if someone had been preparing a small feast in the woods. Brin eyed the camp suspiciously. There was no one in sight. Furan had a bow in hand, an arrow knocked and ready in case anything was amiss. Brin spoke softly, “I’ll take a closer look. Watch from here.” Normally the captain would remind her he was in charge, but he agreed with her this time. She approached the camp carefully, drawing her long sword softly. Shadows swam all around her. Too many places to hide. She shoved down the feeling of vulnerability and crept into the camp ever so carefully, trying to keep her light metal armor from making too much noise. There was no sign of any fighting even after a close inspection. Whoever had been there seemed to have just left without a fuss. Brinnea searched for tracks, but she wasn’t familiar with the hunters’ skills. She heard a branch snap as someone approached the camp. She stood ready to defend herself. Unconsciously, she was aware of the spacing between herself and Furan’s bow. She shifted her stance to give him room to fire. A young orc warrior dressed in grungy leather armor stepped out of the gloom carrying a hatchet in a hand, and firewood under his arm. Brin’s guard remained sturdy. “Who are you?” she questioned the approaching orc. “What are you doing here?” The orc grunted and tossed his firewood down. He kept the axe at his side, but eyed Brinnea with a hint of annoyance. “You here to steal my food, pinkskin? What’s with that hat? Think you’re some kind of Pandaren?” “We’ll be asking the questions, friend orc,” said Furan as he entered the firelight. His bow was on hand, but the string was not pulled. Brin cursed silently, reminded that the Shado-Pan were generally friendly with the Horde races. “What are you doing camping so auspiciously in the Dread Wastes, orc?” she asked almost threateningly. Furan gave her a sidelong glance. “An orc has no need for subtlety if his axe-arm isn’t broken. Name’s Mokdeth. I’m here on business.” He swung the axe up onto his shoulder casually. Brin wasn’t amused. “Not specific enough, beastman. Better start explaining yourself or I’ll—,” Furan cut her off. “Enough, Brinnea. The man has a right to his privacy, and our courtesy. But if you would, friend Mokdeth, perhaps consider travelling with our group? You seem a capable fighter, and our party has need of such.” This time Brinnea gave Furan a sharp glare. “We don’t know this orc, Captain! How can you trust him so easily?” Furan gave her an impatient look and she said no more. Mokdeth yawned and replied, “Sure. Can I expect payment?” Furan nodded. “Wonderful. I’ve been meaning to see how you Pandaren fare in a fight.”
  20. BAHSTAN. PLACES TO STAY (May would probably be our best bet in terms of weather) Here (Big-ass Victorian house at $1500/night) Here (Oceanfront? Oceanfront. $1350/night) Here (Beautiful, ocean view, $750/night) GETTING AROUND Like every city, they've got Uber, but they also have a big ol' subway system. WHAT'S TO DO? Uh, what's NOT to do? Freedom! The Freedom Trail; 16 historic sites that can be walked throughout the city. History, history, and more history. Fishies! New England Aquarium! Because aquariums are fuckin cool Art! Boston Museum of Fine Arts, fourth largest museum in the U.S.! Dude, just click it. SO MANY THINGS. SEAFOOD, for you people who like that kind of thing Anyone want to go to Salem? BECAUSE WE CAN. ON A PUBLIC TRANSIT TRAIN. Whale watching!
  21. Grats on the baby! TE Con hasn't happened yet, as far as I'm aware The Grim camping trip is still forthcoming too!
  22. I'm bummed I ended up not going to TECON 2017, but it was for the best that I stayed home as my wife went into labor the Sunday during TECON. Even though west coast is easiest/cheapest for me, I'd really like to get out and see one of the other proposed cities like Boston or New Orleans. Growing up in LA I'm pretty tired of it and want to get out, though I admit there can be some cool stuff to see, its just so congested, dirty and expensive here. If you do end up scheduling it for California, I can get some pretty cheap and nice beach cottages on base here at Coronado Island (San Diego), last I checked each was like $85 per night. I'd prefer to get out of the west coast (best coast).
  23. --- for weather refrences --- all about the Audubon Institue (Zoo, Aquarium, Insectarium, Imax) ---- lots of different history, hotels, and attractions --- more attractions
  24. A little poking around also turned up these two options for Nola: House: 10 Beds, 4 Futons, 2 Lofts. 7 Baths Sleeps 32-Max. 1 Block to Bourbon St. "Excellent for Bachelors parties and Large Groups, 16 separate sleeping spaces. Sleeps 1 to 26, Max of 32 guests. For Ultimate Privacy rent the entire property. You and your group will have the entire property to yourselves, including; Hot Tub, Courtyards, and all other spaces. Great for large groups... wanting privacy & luxury. Furnished with beautiful Antiques, Original Historic Architectural details, stained glass, beamed ceilings plus a 42' Plasma flat screen TV in the Main House & a 32' Plasma flat Screen TV in the Mardi Gras apt. DVD, Stereos and all the conveniences of home & Hot Tub... The Kerlerec House is located one short block from the French Quarter and one block from world famous Bourbon Street. It is located at the center of all that New Orleans has to offer, the local scene on Frenchman Street, as well as all of the amazing tourist attractions. You will be staying just a short walk from some of the most famous restaurants in the world. Experience New Orleans day or night as a local would in one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, or enjoy 1 of our 3 Lush Court Yards. You can rent our entire Property for only $1,500.00 to $1,900.00 (depending on season & special events) For the utmost in privacy and comfort." Exclusive Bayou Oaks Plantation "6 Bedrooms, 7.5 Bathrooms, Sleeps 2-30. Stay in this exclusive private Plantation home nestled on award winning Bayou Liberty 30 miles from the Historic French Quarter! .. $1,251/night" (Click on the link to see the pictures, they say more than words possibly could.)
  25. The 25-man Pontchartrain suite appears to be $1060 a night which would be a nice $42/night per person. Notably though, it says it accommodates 25 for hospitality events, not for sleeping. If we got it, most folks would need to get their own accommodations as well.
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The Twisting Nether Gazette is a role play forum for characters on the RP-PVP servers Twisting Nether and Ravenholdt.  We have been active since November of 2005, a few months after the Twisting Nether server originally went live.  Our purpose is to provide a safe and inclusive environment where role players can meet and interact with each other, and, of course, post their amazing role play stories, art, bios, and journals.

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