Leaderboard

There are no members to show


Popular Content

Showing most liked content since 04/23/2017 in Status Replies

  1. The Coldstar Cantina: Back in business After a long hiatus the Coldstar Cantina is re-opening! Come find us at Wyvern's Tail in Orgrimmar. Now serving on Saturdays at 7:30! In honor of our re-opening, first drink is on the house. Come drink to the Legion's fall and enjoy a variety of liquors and non-alcoholic beverages that put our competitors to shame! When: Saturdays at 7:30 P.M. (Server) Where: Wyvern's tail, Orgrimmar
    4 likes
  2. http://www.usclimatedata.com/climate/new-orleans/louisiana/united-states/usla0788 --- for weather refrences http://audubonnatureinstitute.org/ --- all about the Audubon Institue (Zoo, Aquarium, Insectarium, Imax) http://www.neworleansonline.com/neworleans/fq/ ---- lots of different history, hotels, and attractions https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Products-g60864-New_Orleans_Louisiana.html --- more attractions
    3 likes
  3. Not that I feel strongly about any one particular place for next year, but....I'll just leave this here..... Pros: Has nearly everything we liked in Vegas, plus better food and more character. The food - Oh my god, the food! Beignets, pralines, gumbo, po-boys, jambalaya, crawfish, oysters, bananas foster, red beans & rice....... Escape Room place with rooms like The Voodoo Room, The Vampire Room, Haunted Swamp Room, around $30 per person. Ghosts, vampires, voodoo, creepy cemeteries. Cons: Smells funny at first Definitely need to go late fall to early spring. Maybe right after Mardi Gras for discounts.
    3 likes
  4. Here were the nametags, featuring art by Vilmah, Nojinbu, Tirien, Arahe, Sam, Yat, and me!
    3 likes
  5. I've been thinking a lot about storylines and storytelling recently, and so I wanted to take a moment to post. I think there's another version of this where I write it as a recommendation for people, especially people that have never run a plotline before, but at the end of the day, I really don't feel like I'm enough of an authority on anything in order to be doling out that advice. In fact, the only reason I'm really writing this is because it's 2AM and I'm working the graveyard shift and there's no one to talk to and, oh, yeah, because I kind of don't feel like I've set aside a time or space to collect and categorize my own thoughts on this stuff before. So, consider this that. I also have no idea where to start this, I feel like I've cooked a bunch of spaghetti and now I need to figure out some way to get it back in the box it came in all straight and flat. But I suppose I'm going to begin at the beginning: Why I Care About Structure I think story structure is absolutely of paramount importance. It's basically the most important thing that goes into a storyline, like, for me, at the end of the day the thing that most often determines a story is either good or bad is structure. Like, yeah, I've definitely seen certain things take off inside of a story and really carry everything on its back, like sometimes you can hook into a super sweet villain with very cool powers or motivation, or just one event or character relationship just completely sells the whole thing, but man, nine times out of ten? Good or bad story in RP comes down to structure. And I'm sure there are plenty of folks who RP for plenty of reasons, but it all boils down to good storytelling for me. My number one goal is to tell a good story. And I think the straightest line to get there is structure. Shit, I think I need to define some terms. Ok, when I talk about structure, I'm kind of bundling up the overall outline, top down view of a story and character stuff, plus a little consideration for like pacing and themes and all that. What does the beginning/middle/end of your story look like? What are some of the character arcs that you're planning? What are the character motivations going into this thing? What idea or concept are you trying to get across in this story? How are you going to keep things from going too quick? Too slow? Getting boring? What is the size of the storyline? I guess these are the kinds of questions that get bundled up and answered under structure for me, and more importantly, they're the things that I want to dissect when I talk to folks about their structures of their stories. And I think some of those questions are things we just don't think about when starting a storyline. Like, the implied answer for "what is the size" seems to be "anyone that wants to come in and join." But I also kind of think that chopping out extraneous stuff to the story and really drilling down and focusing on it where it counts is a very good thing. Like, I think it's OK to have a small scale storyline for a handful of people that's very tailormade for them, or a large scale one that's very open-ended and generalist so that everyone on the server can get involved and go nuts. But I also feel like it's a decision that I don't really think about a lot of the time, I just kind of GO and don't take the time to think really. I guess what I'm really describing is that structure forces you to think about these things. Holy shit, that's super what I'm trying to get at. I think a big danger with RP storylines is not thinking about them enough. Not focusing on the details and going through what you're trying to accomplish piece by piece. There's this temptation just to do it and not think about it, and structure, thinking about structure and planning and figuring shit out from the ground up makes sure that you don't just shoot from the hip. In one sense, I like the shooting from the hip. I think improv and especially spontaneous kind of storytelling moments can be profound and genius. But I also think that they can be poor and relying too heavily on them just forces things down weird, shitty, unfulfilling paths. Alright, I want to zero in on this: Structure forces you to think about your story, and the more you think critically about your story the better it will be. I guess that's my first principle for how I think about storylines. The Three-Act Structure I apologize to everyone that went to film school. But I can't get it out of my brain, I love the three act structure and it's my favorite template to figure things out. I think there's a danger, especially with TAS, to making all your shit formulaic by overrelying on it, but with the right kinds of failsafes installed, it's basically bulletproof. The divide between Beginning/Middle/End, it's just so fundamental, so natural to the building blocks of story that I can't rip it from my head. That said, I don't think it should look like it does for a lot of movies and stuff. I think RP demands its own subdivision about the TAS that makes it something specific. But I'm going to break it down I think. First, as a quick disclaimer: I'm advocating using this as a jumping off point for how to outline a story, rather than as a definitive formula that you can plug your variables into and a good story will pop right out. If I'm taking that principle above and using structure to force me to think about my story and make it better, using the TAS as a formula doesn't actually accomplish that goal, you're literally using it to avoid thinking more about it at that point. The TAS is about giving structure to your thought processes while you're writing and making sure that you're covering your bases. Defining Some Terms: Some terms I'm going to use, I think. The first is tension. The heart of everything in storytelling comes down to tension. You want to build tension and then release it, create problems and then solutions, and it's this ebb and flow of tension that's the addicting lifeblood of storytelling. Someone wants something. Then, they get it. A tension gets created, then resolved. Anything that happens in between those two things happening carries with it a tension, and the longer that you go between them, the more tension gets created. Creating a lot of tension is super fucking good. It is what hooks your players/audience in and demands their focus and attention. When tension is created, players want to play. When there's no tension, then there's no engagement. Ok, I'm really on to something with this tension stuff. The problem with tension comes down to letting it go too quickly or letting it go too long. Letting it go too quickly is when you're playing with kid gloves. You're pulling your punches. Mostly I see this kind of thing when players give themselves something "for free" like they're training to learn some new technique and then the next time you talk to them they demonstrate that they can use it flawlessly. The tension in there wasn't given enough time to build, so the release feels unsatisfying and unearned, On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have tension that goes on too long and never gets resolved. This kind of thing crops up in villain RP a lot, where the villain keeps escaping or coming back to life or straight up beating the heroes, and for a while that's great! It builds a lot of tension and makes it so that when you finally take the villain down it's that much more satisfying, because he's evaded you so many times before now. But if it takes too long for that to happen, all that tension that gets built up starts to turn into frustration for the players, and then even releasing the tension doesn't necessarily make things better because it took so long to get there that all the tension is gone. To me, this stuff is what makes good or bad pacing, which is a tough term to define. If you're building and releasing your tensions in the right spots, then your story has good pacing, but if you're going too short and then too long and then too short sort of thing, then you're working with bad pacing. The third thing about tension is that tensions can and should be layered across one another methodically rather than haphazardly. Tension can be super small scale, resolved inside of a scene, hell inside of one exchange. Bilbo freaking out at Frodo when Frodo won't let him see the Ring in Rivendell is created and resolved immediately, because Bilbo does that freaky eye thing lash out and then instantly apologizes. But tension can also be created for the super long term. The tension of Sauron using the one ring to conquer middle earth takes three whole books/movies to resolve. And tensions of all shapes and sizes get littered in between there, mostly to make sure that things stay interesting and the story builds upon itself. Helms Deep is an important tension that feels great in the moment, but also sets up Rohan to come to Gondor's aid later in the series. Keeping track of the tension that you're creating and then releasing and doing your best to hit the right points is the nuance, the minor detail stuff to structure, the building blocks that the rest of the structure is built on. Every scene, from beginning to end, should create some tension and then release it, but also build the larger overarching tension that it's contributing to. The second term is just: "Act." Act is a functional term, used to functionally describe what stage any particular arc or story is going through. Act 1 is the beginning, and is where the status quo is established, the characters and arcs introduced, and the main problem is set up and starts building its tension. Act 2 is where the dynamic storytelling takes place, where the characters start making progress at tackling the problems set up in Act 1, both changing the nature of the story by acting upon it, but changing themselves as the story acts upon them. Act 3 is where the problem gets resolved, where the arcs finish, and where characters and the status quo settle back down after having been changed by the events of the story. When we define Acts this way, we're dodging the formula problem, and we're nesting the structure of stories in our minds like Russian Nesting Dolls. Acts have acts within them and acts within those, all describing and setting up the beginning/middle/end of the smallest minutae. Even inside of a single scene. Your PC goes to interrogate someone, beats the answers out of them, and then leaves them in the jail cell missing a few teeth. That interaction all happens in one scene, the prisoner may never be seen again, but it's got a Act 1/2/3 when you introduce that guy and then beat him up and then leave him to rot. And even though that whole scene is part of a series of scenes that makes your overarching Act 2 (where the characters start making progress on the problem,) it's still got little Act 1/2/3 bits in there. Act is a lot of time used as a placement term, like "this thing had problems in Act 2," but the term "Act" is a functional one, not a temporal one and even though Act 1/2/3 is sequential, it's very tricky to nail it down in time. For instance, each "Act" should also have the little minor sub "Acts" that are the beginning, middle and end of the sequence itself, that I described above. So, if you think that prisoner from above has problems because he wasn't established well enough, you might be tempted to describe that as "Act 2 problems" because that scene takes place in Act 2. But the problem you're really describing (not enough introducing this character to the story) is an Act 1 problem, because that's the function of Act 1 (to introduce stuff.) I super apologize if this kind of nomenclature is confusing. But now I want to dig a little deeper. Act 1 Ok, so, Act 1 is the beginning. Pretty simple, right? But holy moly do I think this is the step that gets skipped a lot in RP and is so detrimental to skip when you're writing for RP. It's so fucking tempting to skip this step when you're prepping your storyline because if you're putting the work in, then you know Act 1! You know the characters! Their arcs! The problem! The world! And if you're viewing RP from that kind of self-centered point of view, the idea that you skip Act 1 is easy. The trick is to view your story and RP from as much of the players'/audiences' perspective as possible. Because your job in Act 1 is to introduce shit to the audience that's reading your stuff and reacting to it, that you're working with to get from point A to point B. Honestly, I shouldn't call this a "trick" really because most people have a natural inclination to it somewhat, but it's very easy to get lost because of one idea: not everyone reads all the RP that you do, so you are going to have to repeat yourself. Honestly, this is one of those places where RP gets unique, and from the perspective of the writer it's a huge negative because you feel like you're being redundant and repeating yourself constantly, but the effect is a huge positive, because not everyone has seen what you're written in other places and you need to backtrack and set things back up more than once in order to make sure that they're up to speed. Even in small doses, this can be very important, like describing the setting of your personal home for the first time or what a character is wearing when they walk into a room. Even in the context of discord RP, where everything is saved and logged and people can go back and write and read these huge big long things, it's story suicide to assume that everyone's reading what you're reading and then leaving key stuff out because of it. In general, I think there are two big pieces to act 1 things that need to happen, essentially introducing the status quo of the world for your storyline and establishing the status quo of the characters. In movies, the first thing that typically happens is the world gets introduced with what's called the "Point of Attack" which is the thing that typically has nothing to do with the main characters that gets the ball rolling. It's the thing that they then bounce off of and react to when they choose to leave their current status quo behind and move into doing Act 2 things. In RP, things are messier than that. The characters aren't something that you own or grow or wield, so you might need to start with them first and then move into the Point of Attack because it'll take some time for other people to do things. Act 1 establishes a lot of the time a deficiency, a flaw in the characters that are built to be resolved, something that the character is hung up on that they need to grapple with and overcome over the course of the story. I'm actually going to break this into its own paragraph because it's so fucking vital to making good RP and storylines. Good RP when you're GMing a story is a gift that you give to another player. It creates a bond of trust and mutual admiration, because players trust you with their characters and you reward them by giving them something interesting or unique or novel to work through, usually coming with it some kind of reward once they've solved their own personal hurdle. When you're designing your problems, when you're designing your villains, when you're designing your worldbuilding and status quo and everything else, you want to do so with other players in mind, give them interesting shit to do that reflects on them personally and uniquely. Make the villain a dark reflection of one of the heroes, sharing some similar qualities, but also warping those qualities into something sinister and evil. Incorporate something from the character's past, something in their backstory that will hit a sore spot and allow the character to move past it. Include a challenge or aspect of the problem that's specifically within the skill set of your players, something that is tailor made for them to contend with and solve. There's a small caveat here, because sometimes players will not like you taking liberties with their characters, but on the whole, you are giving this RP to someone else so make it a good, personalized awesome gift for them. The second piece of Act 1 is the inciting incident, which is typically where the Point of Attack gets revealed to the players and they get to grapple with it the first time. Because Act 1 is tough to do in RP and can get jumbled, a lot of the time your Point of Attack and your Inciting Incident happen essentially back to back, because since the Point of Attack is something outside of the character's knowledge and a lot of time the character's knowledge and player's knowledge are one and the same, it's easy for them to miss that villain set up RP that you stashed away in a quick post in some other channel or forum thread somewhere. But if you can get them to see your Point of Attack, then all the better because the Point of Attack's tension is automatically resolved once the main characters encounter it for the first time and have to grapple with it. Your inciting incident also typically carries with it the first big introduction to the main tension of the whole story. In a typical "bad guy wants to do something bad" this is where the bad guy gets introduced and what he wants to do gets at least teased out to the players, though sometimes you can just reveal the whole thing and make Act 2 about jumping through a billion hoops to get there. When it comes to the nitty gritty, I love using Act 1 to set stuff up with a big event. They say you're supposed to start your story with some action, but in RP that maxim takes on new life since things are so naturally ongoing. When we all have characters that have been around for forever, introducing a storyline with a slow, plodding build up (while very, very doable) is much harder than throwing a big, climactic event to start things off with a bang. So much stuff has to be introduced in Act 1 that throwing it all into one event saves you a lot of time and real estate, and it also serves as a convenient status quo shifter for the characters in your story. People naturally gravitate towards events as placeholders in time and use them to define key turning points in their characters, big events make big splashes in people's lives, and so using that to introduce new characters, concepts, do the world building that you need to do, all of that works wonders. Also, it makes things a bit easier because if you're making a big splash it allows you to break some logic/narrative rules that you otherwise might have trouble grappeling with. For instance, if you want to introduce your villains, it's very tough to do that directly without a big, flashy event. Villains don't come out of the woodwork for nothing, and your villains can't get rounded up and beaten right at the start of Act 1. Getting them in the same room long enough with the players to introduce themselves, but not long enough that the players kick their collective tuchas and solve the problem before it starts is a fine line. I'm also a big fan of "the villains start by beating the shit out of the players and handing them a big loss." Doing this creates a natural arc for basically everyone because anyone who suffers that failure wants to overcome it later down the line, and when you can juxtapose your losing fight in Act 1 to your winning fight in Act 3, you get the most straightforward (in a good way!) character arc that you can muster. Plus, getting wrecked by the villains right off the bat does a great job of uncovering the deficiency/flaw/insecurity that you're going to be wanting your players to fight in order to give them a satisfying arc. The last piece of Act 1 is called the "Lock In" where the players decide to leave the comfort of their status quo and shake things up and commit to bringing down this big bad. RP has a funny way of messing with this section though, because not every fish takes the bait you give them and that's alright. Something that happens naturally in plenty of RP storylines is that the intended protagonists kind of fall by the way side as someone that you thought was only going to player a bit part takes up the slack. This is OK. Not everyone needs to commit to every story, and there's plenty of room for players who want to take a step back from the early aspects of a storyline only to "Lock In" at some point later down the line. Remember, Acts are functional terms, not temporal ones, and it's absolutely normal and fine for the "Lock In" to happen in the middle of Act 2 or Act 3 stuff that's going on elsewhere. If this kind of thing happens, the important piece of the puzzle is to make sure that someone locking in later gets the same Act 1 stuff they need in order to start off in the right context, and when everyone is moving through Act 2 problem solving, it can sometimes be hard to rope people in and give them the intro they need. The good news is, once you have your players locked in and ready to rock, now you can get busy with Act 2. And I don't mean to alert any spoilers, but Act 2 is when the fun stuff happens. Act 2 Act 2 is consistently some of the most fun stuff that happens in RP and Act 2 being so much fun is typically why people underserve their own Act 1s. It's tempting to jump right into the fun stuff and then fill in the gaps later, but it's a big mortgage you're writing there and a lot of the time the RP debt collectors catch up with you as your Act 2 stuff is coming to a close. I use the term "fun stuff" but Act 2 is pretty consistently the best period for going back and forth between GM and player, typically the GM sets up small problems and the player showcases various solutions until they find a good enough answer and progress forward. Act 1 can be unfun because you as the GM are controlling the Lion's share of the story. You have all the information and you need to barf it all up to the players (and they can only really latch on to some pieces of it.) But Act 2 is when the players get to start influencing the story in a big way. See, because you don't control every aspect of the story, and a lot of the time you're farming out important pieces of your story to other people, you need to remain flexible and open to their input. Something that I see happen pretty often is the GM scripts things out so rigidly ahead of time that anytime the players try and color outside the lines they are met with a big, fat no. And while failure on the players' part can be great to set up the contrast and growth I outlined above, you can't shower the player in failure and keep them engaged. And you especially can't shut down the players' creativity because it's a doubly demoralizing experience. If we wanted to be passive in our stories, we'd go watch TV and movies. We're RPing because the ability to affect the story as its being told is fun and interesting and compelling. The solution to this a lot of the time is to allow players to fail forward, where they try something and accomplish a piece or a percentage or gain something tangible despite their overall failure. This allows you to keep their progress in check if they're progressing too far too quickly, but also allows you to reward their efforts. Dolling out partial victories (or, on the flip side if things are moving too slowly, unexpectedly huge gains) allows you to make sure that the pacing stays on point, and you're not resolving tensions too quickly or too slowly. And I think all of that kind of thing, balancing your tensions, setting out interesting problems before your players and seeing what they come up with, is the heart of what makes Act 2 great. But that doesn't mean you wing it. I think there's a temptation to set out some scenarios for the players and allow them to figure out their own path through them, a lot of the time the path isn't going to be something that you see coming, but I'm never going to suggest that for a storyline someone just wing everything without a direction at least in mind. What you should probably be doing is setting out a start point and then an end point and then letting the players fill things in in between. Establish a problem ("We need to find Mcbaddie!") and keep the next stage of the quest in mind ("Once they have McBaddie, he tells them about the Fuck-u-lizer") but give the players the freedom to get from that point A to that point B the way that they want to ("I'm going to go smooch McBaddie's girlfriend and she'll give up his location because one of my skills is getting chicks to smooch me.") This gives the characters an opportunity to demonstrate their strengths and weaknesses in a satisfying way for them, but the overall skeleton of the story isn't being xylophoned into skeleton dust by players trampling all over what you laid out. This, I find, is a pretty good balance between what you as the GM want to do and what the characters want to do. And thus, is why Act 2 is the most fun stuff to do. Alright, let's get into some nitty gritty structural stuff. The last piece of information that we got was the lock in, where the character commits to the story and the quest at hand and decides that they're going to take responsibility for resolving whatever underlying tension got set up way earlier. After the players lock into the quest, they need a vector. In technical terms, a vector is a direction plus a magnitude, but in story terms that "magnitude" is mostly just a plan for what happens when heading in that direction. Most of the time as a GM, though, you only want to supply the direction. At the end of Act 1, Frodo agrees to carry the one ring to Mount Doom. This is his "Lock In." Then, the story gives him a direction (They are going to Caradras,) and a magnitude (he'll be joined by 8 companions and they'll journey as the fellowship of the ring.) This is his vector. I like this example because they don't make through Caradras because of Saruman and instead end up taking the Mines of Moria. No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy, and no vector gets to its end point without shifts in its direction, magnitude or both. The point of giving a vector to your characters though is to reward them for their locking in. If you lock them in on your quest and don't give them a new direction to head in, some breadcrumb to follow, something that they can latch onto to accomplish, then all the enthusiasm and engagement and support you've just gained is then squandered. I also want to mention that I typically only give my characters the direction and let them figure out the magnitude. When you point them towards the goal and then let them figure out how they want to get there, you're beginning the back and forth problem solving that defines Act 2 fun stuff, so it's a good thing to put into their hands. Something else I want to mention really quickly is that the completion of the first vector should definitely carry with it a positive milestone for the characters (make the first step easy and the second step hard.) Movies a lot of the time reward the hero with some new skill or trait, but because of powergaming and power creep in RP, I typically bundle those kinds of things and dole them out as a reward for Act 3. You can give someone a temporary boost or bonus, but plan to take this away a bit down the line for fear that things get too powerful. If they find some magical sword that can do XYZ, make sure it gets stolen or broken by the end of Act 2, especially because this sort of thing is typically a great metaphor for the hubris of the character. They think they've gained what they need to take on the big bad, but really they still have far to go. The end of the first vector should then key the characters into a new vector to keep moving forward, and it almost always ends in a place that they didn't expect it to. The fellowship of the ring expect that they can use Caradras, but Saruman prevents them from using that pass, which forces them to adopt a new vector on the fly to Moria. This kind of bouncing around of vectors is the minute to minute stuff of your Act 2. It outlines the path that your characters are taking towards resolving the overall tension of the storyline. Most of the time, vectors will be disrupted by some unforeseen circumstance for the players and they'll have to adapt in order to compensate for this. It doesn't mean that they don't accomplish their goal, it just means that the plan they set out with might not work, and they'll need to figure out something new on the fly. The fellowship are still trying to get the Ring to Mordor, they just need to take a new path to get there. After the first few vectors in Act 2, you reach the midpoint, which is a big, fat disruption that typically shakes things up to their core. This isn't "Caradras is closed, find another way across," this is "Gandalf dies." In many films and stories, the mid point carries with it a major defeat for the characters, but this is less of a necessity than it all seems. The point is that you need to really shake things up and in many cases redefine the aims of the characters to prepare them for the big, big challenges to come. A lot of the time, you can accomplish this just by raising the stakes through the roof for your characters. When Gandalf dies, it shows everyone that this journey is going to be more difficult than they ever imagined, and they're going to have to face it without the most powerful member of their group in tow. That's a major defeat. But Man of Steel when Zod tells Superman that he's going to rebuild Krypton on the ashes of all humankind, that's not a major defeat. That's just the story raising the stakes into the stratosphere. When it becomes clear what the antagonist's main goal is, and the true horror of the threat that they're fighting is nakedly revealed for all to see, that huge raising of the stakes is what makes the disruption. This disruption can look like a lot of things, but the point of it should be to redraw the map of the situation for the characters and put them really onto the path to Act 3 main tension resolution, and that every vector they go on from here on out, is getting them closer and closer to that goal. In short, the vectors that your characters embark on at the top of Act 2 will never get them where they need to go. It's the vectors that they choose from the midpoint that will get them there. After the big disruption of the midpoint, you have a hurdle to get over. A lot of stories fuck it up here because now that the characters are actually on the path to resolution, how do you keep them from just jumping straight into Act 3? The answer in good stories comes down to sub plots a good amount of the time, other tangential focuses and goals that need to get resolved before moving any further can take place. It's a useful time to put in some breathing room for the characters and so they can collect their shit before they start trudging into Act 3 stuff. In a more conventional story, you'd give this time to other characters, let some of the supporting characters round up their shit and round off their edges before moving forward. But you don't really have that luxury in RP because not everyone is reading everything. This is why you work on sub plots, you give the characters a quick, immediate goal to accomplish that helps prepare them for the big transition into Act 3, without actually forcing the story into that direct a confrontation with Act 3 material yet. In LOTR, this is when they come to Lothlorien, and the members of the fellowship have to deal with their very recent loss and refocus before moving on. A lot of the time, you'll use this time to collect the next plot key to unlock that Act 3 goodness. Alright, now you know what McBaddie is up to, you just need to get his location so that you can finally put a stop to his existentially horrific plans. That process of finding his location is its own little mini-story inside of this section of Act 2, typically complete with villains and vectors unique to the subplot, but the players come out of it with someone definitive to show for it. A fire in their bellies, a determined look in their eye as they finally get ready to face down the biggest problem yet. But when you're done with that sub plot and you're ready to kick things into gear, you get to reach the end of Act 2, which is most often the lowest point for your characters. The end of Act 2 is where you stack shit high on your characters, where you make what they're working towards in an overarching story sense harder by hitting them personally. If someone they trust is deceiving them? This is where that distrust comes out. If they bonded hard with a particular NPC? This is where you brutally murder that NPC. If they have some lingering hang up that they haven't been able to get over, this is where that hang up gets attacked directly. The reason you do this is because you want the character to be facing its toughest challenge personally just before they start working to overcome the story's challenge. When a player who is at their lowest is strong enough to beat the bad guy, that creates the super satisfying underdog story that we all get so wrapped up in. You can have this stuff be linked to the main antagonist, but it's not a necessity. If the antagonist murders their new friend NPC or strips them of that super cool power that you gave them at the end of the first vector, that's fine, it heightens the tension and gives the character even more reason to go after the antagonist. But it's also fine to have just random bad shit happen to them to get them in this spot purely by coincidence. If you're feeling the frustration come out from the players, then I'd probably say lay off. You don't need to give the villain ANOTHER win. But if they're into it and you want to fan the flames of hate even higher, use the villain. Another version of this end of Act 2 phase can also be the "prepare for war" vector, where the final, big shape of Act 3 comes into play. I like using this a lot because it really ramps up the drama and tension before you move into Act 3 and it's some of the best and most interesting RP that you can get out of a team of players. I use this commonly when I've given the players everything they need, all the information they could possibly want, and let them get in the sandbox and really come up with their strategy from the ground up. If you have the right set of folks, the strategy, the plan that they're walking into Act 3 with outweighs the kind of personal drama and stakes that come from hitting them on a character level, because now they've properly outlined Act 3 for themselves and you get to fuck with all their beautiful, beautiful expectations. A lot of the time, this section of things is relegated to the very beginning of Act 3, and in my honest opinion not given enough time to breathe. The other reason I like doing this here is because it's a fantastic opportunity to rally the troops and get everyone on the same page before moving foward. In RP, what tends to happen is that the vectors are less "the team moves here, then here, then here" and more "eight different characters are probing eight different vectors." When that kind of thing happens, you ABSOLUTELY NEED TO NO FOR REAL YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST DO THIS because otherwise you're not giving the characters a chance to compare notes and strategize as a group. If those eight characters accomplished eight different goals and are bringing those things home, consolidating everything into one plan involving everyone moving forward makes your Act 3 planning much easier. You can splinter things up a bit if you want, for instance keeping 2 of your 8 out of the loop so they can come in as the cavalry at some point during Act 3, but you need to round up plot threads into plot yarn if you want to end this thing in a good way. By the by, you don't need to have those two things be different if you don't want to. In fact, you can have your characters plan for the final push AND get hit by their personal demons simultaneously if you want to maximize the drama, but it basically works either way. Act 3 Will actually be its own reply to this thread.
    2 likes
  6. 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.
    2 likes
  7. 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 discretion....is....'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.
    2 likes
  8. NEW ORLEANS! YAS! C'MON DOWN Y'ALL! I SWEAR it will be worth it!! And I could ACTUALLY attend that one!!!!!!!!! Party in the French Quarter/ BOURBON STREET Y'ALL! Do it. Just do it. Yes.
    2 likes
  9. Light give me strength. A great servant of the Alliance was laid to rest today. Light lead her home. One of the Matrons of the Stormwind Orphanage was slain by a foe that I know all to well, and I presided over a service for her. Such a senseless killing... but The Grim are notable for that, their total disregard for the lives of innocents. They are at the very least, consistent. I cannot personally fathom the reason for taking the life of someone who has dedicated their live to helping the less fortunate. A kind soul who cares for the children who have already lost so much. There must be retribution for this atrocity... this mage cannot escape justice this time, not for this.
    2 likes
  10. Vilmah winced as the Inquisitor reached into Cobrak's mind, the orc's body visibly jerking as he attempted to fight off the mental invasion. "Now now.." the demon chuckled, digging deeper. "I can make it worse. I can rip your mind apart to get what I want. What are you hiding, 'Boss'? What secrets are you clinging to?" Cobrak said nothing, merely seething in contempt for the demon as he roared spittle in his face. His first defense failed, revealing information Cobrak secretly wanted him to find; things he wanted to protect falsely to better hide away the defenses and plans of his people. Dragon's Roost was vulnerable still, what defenses they had would not stand up to a demonic invasion. Cobrak would sacrifice his privacy and pride to protect them....he had to. The first memory bubbledup as Cobrak snarled; the memories awash with humans clad in plate with adorning anchor emblems emblazoned on their uniforms, a sign of the Kul Tiras nation. Hatred broiled throughout his being at the sight, the humans overseeing a constant ebb and flow of ragged orcs, some on the verge of starvation and death as they were forced to do grueling labor. Ores and gems mined and processed by the greenskins, whilst enduring the abuse of their pinkskinned overlords. Cobrak growls as a memory surfaces of one of the guards ripping away a newly-blossomed orc female from her work, the cries of pain sounding along with the painfully familiar slappings of flesh being forced upon another body. The process kept on in a dismal play, each day shown worse than the last. Only until the scene turned standstill as a particularly painful mmeory bobbed to the surface with a youngling's cry of "MOTHER!" Two guards had seized what seemed to be a scarlet-haired orcess and began to drag her away to a fate much like the female from before, a plaything for their amusement. Eyes locked onto that image, the world immensely larger through his eyes at such a young age. Green hands shook at a decreiped robed figure, spurring to action. "FATHER! FATHER! THEY'RE TAKING HER! FAAATHER!" The sight became blurred, water boiling his eyes as the figure stared ahead as though comatose. The red had been burnt out of the elder's lone eye, the orc naught but a husk of what he was supposed to be. A growl surfaced to mimic the older orc's, as he dashed off to pursue the two humans. Vilmah wasn’t sure what to expect when the Inquisitor started his work. She didn’t imagine he join her subconscious with Cobrak’s, but that was exactly what he did. Why? She wondered, as she watched Cobrak experience the pain of loss that would shape his life. Why make me see this? Then the idea struck her; to keep an eye on her thoughts. She and Cobrak couldn’t plan an escape if their thoughts were visible. “Excellent guess,” the Inquisitor said to her, vocalizing his confirmation of her theory. “It is interesting how far back he wanted to take his secrets, is it not? The weaknesses of his little port, the desire to protect his men, that was the first thing I could see… but this weighs more heavily in his mind. Something that happened so very long ago. So interesting.” Vilmah found herself snarling, a reaction that felt strangely out of character for the typically calm blademaster in training. “Leave him alone!” But the Inquisitor didn’t stop there. “Eventually,” he chuckled, diving deeper into Cobrak’s mind. “For now, I am having too much fun.” Cobrak seethed again, roaring his fury as he locked his lone eye onto the demon's, not a trace of fear but purest fury as he tried unsuccessfully to force the demon out through sheer force of will. His efforts were met with another wave of pain that assaulted his mind, more thoughts to be stolen. The mining camp was in flames, an infernal blaze that tipped the skies as the same shortened field of vision came now, hurrying along with a shorter scarlet-tressed orcish child being dragged along behind him in an effort to keep pace away from the cries of death and mutilation. "Put the greenskins down before they revolt like Blackmoore's." A whisper was heard, a human's speech coming through panicked thought. Images flashed of their escape through madness and hell, dodging between orcs and humans clashing. An orcess shoving them both through a small tunnel in the wall, too small for herself, the two fleeing to secure a small boat to sail away. Fleeing for their lives, these two orclings were with tears in their eyes as tey cried out for the family and friends left behind. There was more, in the forests they landed upon, came a being that which the demon could see many many strings of emotions entailing; a dark iron man, with rotund belly and a laugh much like Cobrak's. A rifle slung onto his shoulder that was a pitch perfect match for the orc's as of now. Cobrak tried to fight again, to protect the sanctity of his adoptive father, to keep his memory from being tainted by demonic hands. "Me name's Broden," The dark iron said, leaning down to survey the two little orcs, grin wide. "Ya kin come 'ome wit me iffin ya like."(edited) “How very touching,” the Inquisitor sighed. “But ultimately useless. Your little jaunt down childhood memories does little for me. Now…” the demon leaned in closer to the bars. “Tell me what you’ve really got hiding in there. Tell me what shames you so. I can feel you sweating. Something with great power had you cowed. Show me.” The orc growled more, hattred broiling still as though it would allow hima reprieve from this desecration. Images flashed, time spent among dark irons; a family clan ousted by its kind to live on the surface to make do with mercenary work. The family grew with more outsiders; trolls and tauren and soon...two black-haired humans that made Cobrak's anger bubble over at the mere sight of. Morinth. Jaster. Betrayers. Accepted, welcomed...the hatred he bore before dimmed over time, blossoming to love as Cobrak's younger lips met the human's. The orc cried his fury at the demon who so invaded, his shame on display now. A memory came, eyes that once burned with fire were snuffed and never to reignite; a pool of blood gathering on a desk much like the Cobrak's of today. An axe belonging to the orc embedded in Broden's back, but it was a pinkskinned hand who clutched its handle. A devious smile framed towards the haunted surprise of Cobrak as he surveyed the scene, Morinth's grin broke only to scream. False panic filled her system as harrowing cries filled the halls. "HELP HELP! COBRAK'S KILLED BRODEN!" "Betrayal?" The Inquisitor chuckled. "But it is more then that, isn't it? That woman. That woman has something, doesn't she? Tell me how useful she is, little orc." The demon bore down. "Show me why she is so important to you." He groaned in pain, more memories flooding out. Slaying Jaster, the brother; stealing away Broden's rifle whilst fleeing Morinth's shrieks of vengeance and his former family. A game of the hunt ensued, the two coming to blows whenever they met. A ruthless shadow organization at her command, as well as seemingly clones and duplicates of herself that shared one mind. An overlapping image of a Morinth scarred beyond recognition imparting her will onto numerous human designed in her youthful, flawless image; all bearing an eye that glowed like a crystal borne of the Void. The crystal. A shard of something greater that allowed her to take minds as she pleased and usurp her will into them. A legion of Morinths made from unwilling servants; girls plucked from the streets and orphanages, altered by the gem's presence and surgery to resemble her, aged artifically until they could be worked upon. Boys and other races' souls consumed by the gem to feed it. Cobrak growled, fighting back harder as when the demon pressed further in regards to the crystal. "Ah haaa...." the Inquisitor said happily, his little bony hands fluttering. "There we are! What is that? A crystal? A treasure of incredible power? Show me! I would love to see this trinket!" He resisted, if but for a moment, before laughing. Through the pain he managed to laugh as he showed the memory of where the crystal was located; in the middle of a lava pool, disintegrated into nothing as it and the upper half of Mornth's head were submerged beneath it. "Oh... well, that is a shame," the Inquisitor sighed. "Oh well! Your turn!" He said to Vilmah, turning his eyeless gaze toward the orcess. She didn't seem even remotely prepared for it. Vilmah's entire body jerked forward as the demon focused his attention on her subconscious. In an instant, what felt like chaos was projected into his mind. Flashes of blood, steel, screaming, and overwhelming pain. Above all, the orcess' mind seemed as if it were flooded with one thing; war. Cobrak snarled, feeling drained but definitely not out of the fight, "Oi...piece...o' shite....kinnae me none anymore...kin ya?!" The Inquisitor ignored Cobrak. Physically, anyhow. If he heard the other orc while picking through Vilmah's mind, he didn't make it clear. The three were strangely linked during the ordeal, though the Inquisitor himself kept his mind mostly blocked. If anything, both orcs could see him reel from the outright displays of violence in Vilmah's memory. It wasn't the blood, really. Nor was it the pain. It was the sheer amount, piled up year after year. Born and starved in Hammerfall, surrounded by death. Following Thrall to Durotar, only to be subjected to the military training that would shape her into a killer. Rejecting that killing instinct, inheriting Sanctuary shortly after coming of age. Leading a handful of those willing to fight for honor and justice. Betrayal at the hands of Garrosh Hellscream. More death. More blood. Vengeance. "What have we here?" The Inquisitor chuckled as Vilmah's memories led him and Cobrak into Grommash Hold. She was standing beside humans. Cobrak growled once more, powerless to stop the inquisitor. They went in deeper. The Inquisitor followed the threads of Vilmah’s brain to a room in Grommash hold. She killed the Kor’kron guards. She killed the Kor’krons inside. She killed them all indiscriminately until they lay on the floor and she stood staring at them. That was when she noticed something. “No,” the memory muttered. The Inquisitor laughed. The Kor’kron were female. One of them appeared thicker in the middle. “Amusing, but ultimately worthless information,” the demon chuckled, moving in deeper. The Sanctuary guildhall. The security. Vilmah had a hand in it all. “Here we are,” he sighed. “Now to see what you pests have to work with.” The orc snarled more, glancing away from the memory. It was war, you can't pick and choose who you kill in battle. He growled to himself, looking at the eredar a brief moment. The Eredar seemed distracted by a conversation. They glanced at Cobrak and Vilmah every so often, if only to make sure that they were still breathing, but otherwise talked quietly amongst themselves. Cobrak sent a glare towards them when locking eyes, baring his fangs before looking over at Vilmah. Vilmah was still focused on the Inquisitor. Or at least, he was focused on her. Both of the orcess' hazel eyes were locked on his as she stared into his eyeless face. "And I see here your progress on the Broken Shore.. and what's this? A vault? A vault full of relics? Well, that is useful..." It was then Cobrak felt a familiar instinctual tingle at the base of his skull. A familiar call that made him grin discretely as the Legion ship suddenly echoed with a large, terrible thunk like something had collided with it. Cobrak growled in rage, the whole of his body suddenly being encased in a feral aura of pure bloodthirst. The walls of their cells suddenly began to heat, a molten glow forming on its wall suddenly to burst open with draconic fire as Emberscale roared its fury to the two Eredar. Both beastmaster and drake were wrapped in the same aura. The heat of the drake was more than enough to scald Vilmah's skin, shocking her into action. Whatever made up the ship's walls was torn apart by heat and teeth. Stumbling backward, the Eredar and Inquisitor scrambled to escape from what was beginning to look like a very bad situation for themselves and every other demon on board. Luckily for Vilmah and Cobrak, the drake also managed to break through the chain holding their manacles to the wall. Unfortunately, the bars were still in place. "Quick! Have him take down those bars, Cobrak!" Vilmah said quickly, jumping to her feet with the chains still bound to her good arm. Cobrak whistled sharply, commanding as the proto-drake ceased its fire to peer at the two orcs. From off its back leapt a flash of fur and lightning as Skoll barreled into the inquisitor's back, snarling as it began tearing into the demon. Emberscale hissed in response, it moving in with its mouth to rip off the bar, snapping it to scrap metal with its powerful jaws. Freed save for his legs still bound together, Cobrak leapt at the inquisitor alongside Skoll. Even without mobility, he could still fight as he and Skoll literally began tearing apart the invasive demon. Vilmah ran past Cobrak and the Inquisitor, running straight for the Eredar. They were both weaving spells at the two naked orcs, but while their shadow magic hurt it wasn't enough to combat the pure adrenaline coursing through the diminutive orcess. Still bearing a calm expression, she grabbed the female Eredar's skull with her one hand and shoved it into her companion's. A violent crack of skulls signaled their almost instant demise. The Eredar went down with a thud, limp in a growing pool of blood. But Vilmah wasn't done. Still naked, she looked around quickly to get her bearings and saw what looked like a row of cells much like the one she and Cobrak shared. "I'm getting my arm!" She shouted to Cobrak, her chain scraping against the floor as she ran for what looked like a storage room on the other end. All Cobrak could hear was the agonizing shriek of the inquisitor as Cobrak placed two rough hands on its skull-like head, a foot on its spine as he began to pull. It hissed and clawed the ground as the hunter forcibly removed its head with a sickening sloughened sound as his spine decided to come along with. The hunter roared his fury, a hand slamming to his chest as he bore his prize. The beastmaster lagged along behind the blasemaster, Skoll remaining behind with the drake to make sure their escape did went unhindered. Cobrak would not leav this place without Broden's rifle. As she heard him running behind her, Vilmah understood that Cobrak was near. Most of the other cells she passed were empty, but those that weren't seemed to contain corpses. Silently, Vilmah considered that they likely would have been next. At the end of the hall, she came to the storage room. Yanking open the door, an array of different objects tumbled to the floor; clothes, weapons, armor. Her arm sat on a shelf beside her sword and scant armor, which she grabbed to pull on immediately. "We gotta go before they find out he's dead," she said while pulling on her armored pants. It was then that she noticed the collection of bombs left in a container on the floor. Vilmah blinked once, her mind made up. "Maybe we do one last thing, first." Cobrak looked around in the storage room, desperately searching. When he saw his beloved runed rifle he practically leapt at it, scooping it up to secure it within his grasp as though it would be an insult should anyone else touch it. He sighed in relief, fidning his armor as well. Fighting in the nude was always an interesting experience, but soemthing he'd rather not happen as a common occurence. "Aye, betcha money that wasnae e'en tha commander o' this ship." Cobrak stated, following her gaze to the bombs. A grin forms on his face as he holds up the demon's removed head, "Oi, dinnae think they'll mind us borrowin' sum...will ya, guv?" His voice became a falsetto mimicry of the inquisitor, as his arm made its jaw dance like it were talking. "Oi oi, go right 'ead, fer yer trouble." Vilmah carefully grabbed four bombs, two for each hand. "Can your drake fly us to different spots on the outside? Probably be a safer bet than trying to two-man our way through this place." "Aye, Ember kin git us round..." Cobrak grunts, tossing the head away with a chuckle. "Let's do it, then," Vilmah nodded, checking to make sure she retrieved all of her things; arm, armor, sword, bags. Once satisfied, she made back for their cell and Cobrak's waiting drake. Emberscale lounged on the improvised entrance he had made, clinging to the wall like a bat at rest. Skoll tipped his head up to view the runty female, a low growl murmuring from him before Cobrak reapeeared right after. Showing Vilmah into the saddle to ride behind him, Cobrak whipped the reins to make the crimson drake teeter off the the ship to spiral into a graceful glide, whirling back towards the ship. "I'd says tha engines an' tha bow! Thass where we'll do mos' damage!" Cobrak called over the wind. "On it!" Vilmah shouted back, aiming with her arm. She squinted through the wind at the engines, considering the implications of getting too close during the explosions. "Get some distance! I can chuck 'em at the engines with my arm!" "Git 'em set an' ready ta toss then!" he yelled back as he veered Emberscale to performa quick strafing run. Vilmah waited for the drake to get just close enough that she could reasonably aim. Her mechanical arm, while newer, she understood to be a little stronger than she was used to. She squinted toward the engine for a few seconds, then hurled the bomb as hard as she could manage. It went further than a normal arm would have managed, and sailed through the wind into the ship to create a small explosion. "Got it!" Cobrak laughed uproariously as the ship went up in flames when the bombs went off, the ship being sucked back into the nether as the entirety was engulfed in violent explosions. "GLORIOUS! AHAHAHA TAKE THAT YA FEL-FUCKIN' SODS!" Vilmah didn't laugh, but she seemed content enough with how things worked out. She kept quiet as Cobrak guided them away from the exploding demon ship, holding on to him and the drake with her good arm. Emberscale veered away, back towards civilization. The moment turned awkwardly silent as Cobrak stared ahead. Moments ticked by without a word between them. "...Wut ya saw, that dinnae leave tha ship." Cobrak finally said. Vilmah's face was stoic. She stared at the scales of the drake's neck. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she considered talking back. Cobrak was used to having control and it irked her. However, the chilly breeze over her nearly bare chest was a reminder; patience. The way of the blademaster. "I don't know what you're talking about," she said calmly, her voice monotone. "I didn't see anything." Cobrak decided that was good enough. The less who knew about his secrets, the better. " Good..." He said, careening the drake back to land at Vengeance Point.
    2 likes
  11. 4.29.17 Karthok changed Siane back to Vionora. Then he asked me to bring her to him. Maybe she’s to be the Herald again. I wonder why he didn’t just take her then. Anyway, I found her after a long search, and I got her back to the cabin. She didn’t want to help with Accalia, and I figured it would be dangerous to try to make her. She might screw things up. When she learned about who she was recently, she seemed to want to be Siane again. Baal didn’t seem able to help her. I was actually considering taking her to Sanctuary--for her sake, not theirs. They might have someone who could help her. But then she went out for a walk. Rhaen went with her, but somehow the dumb elf escorted her to Stormwind instead of bringing her back, and now some humans have her. I should cut off his ears for that. In fact, I might do just that. I saw Razvaan again a couple weeks ago. It was in Dalaran, but I couldn’t catch up to him, and I lost him in the crowd. I hired some help to find him. With no word from Zanas in months, and Iroh being more…’hands-on’ than I wanted for this job, I went to Borrowed Time. Rode right up to their gate. I thought I might be filled with arrows for how many were pointed at me. But that elf range Faelenor took the job. He’s been nice enough to me, once he realized I wasn’t there to single-handedly storm their base. His partner could do with losing an ear or two though. She’s one of those elves. Fael seems pretty sure of himself that he’ll be able to find Razvaan. And maybe that will lead me to information about Lucion. I thought maybe I could find a way to work with Borrowed Time again, or at least be on speaking terms with them without having weapons pointed at me. But Fael still holds it against me what I did to Dora that time. He said they all do. Well, screw them. If his leader hadn’t shot off my knee for no reason except just to be cruel, I wouldn’t have had to hurt Dora. To fel with Borrowed Time, to fel with Sanctuary, to fel with everyone who thinks they’re all high and mighty and can look down their nose at me. I made up with Karthok after what Lazarus and Kex’ti did. He doesn’t judge me. No more than the people at the cabin do. I enjoyed my visit with him. It was comfortable, except for the bad news he gave me—Sanctuary killed Zulkaz. But he killed Kanda, the traitor orphan I took into the Grim years ago only to have her turn on me and join the purple people. I was going to leave Sanctuary alone, and just stay away from. And as far as they know, that’s what I’m doing. But I’ll secretly help Karthok destroy them. They can all burn in felfire or die in the Nightmare, or suffer whatever he has planned for them. I fight alongside The Grim once a week in the Nighthold to restock my elf ears and scorpid poisons. It feels good to fight with them again, but I think I’ve gotten too used to fighting on my own. Sometimes I go to Inquisition to see the new recruits. It’s mostly quiet there though, outside of the regular attacks on Nighthold or on the battlegrounds.
    2 likes
  12. Vilmah tilted her head toward the approaching figure; an Inquisitor. Not quite as small and weak as the ones they dispatched of, earlier. This one projected an eerie presence, his toothy grin unwavering in its amusement. “I was wondering when you would open your eyes. It makes the process smoother, when you are conscious. There is less risk of damaging other parts of your brain while I sift through it.” Cobrak snarled, looking like he would bite if it got any closer; hackles raised as he bared his fangs. "I'll fuckin' gut ya ya shit-'eapin' fel-fuckin' gnome-lovin' piss-'jockin' twat! C'mere an'-" Cobrak launches into a tyrad eof abuse, shouting and cursing at the demon. If he made it angrier, maybe it would focus on him more and let the orcess trip him up or something. The Inquisitor grinned at Cobrak, entertained. He let the orc vent his rage before speaking again, his voice so smooth it was nearly comforting. “How very amusing,” the Inquisitor chuckled, glancing toward Vilmah from behind the bars. “And you? Do you have anything to say?” Vilmah’s expression was sour, but she didn’t throw a barrage of insults. Her rage was centered, a single space in the middle of her chest. “Fuck. Off.” The Inquisitor laughed again. “Very well. I will give you two a little time to grow accustomed to your surroundings. Your brains must be inflamed. That will not do for the activities I have planned. "No,” he grinned at Cobrak. “You two have wonderful secrets. Boss, Warboss. You should be glad it will be me extracting them. I may even let you live to see them put to good use.” Without giving them a chance to respond, the demon floated away. Cobrak seethed more, spitting as best he could at the retreating demon. "Thas right, fuck off!" He bellowed after, snorting. His eye turned critical then, frowning as he thought. "Hm." he muttered, thinking now. He knew who they were, meaning they specifically had been targeted. They were being kept alive to be mentally expunged, meaning this was no ordinary demon, this was a very much high-ranking one that could plan and strategize. "...Bastard's a shite jailor. Gave way more than I would." Cobrak muttered as he looked around, given time to think. The chain were too heavy to break...at least by him. he began looking a ttheir surroundings, trying to piece together if they were still on land or secured away on of the Legion ships. “I don’t think he thinks it matters what we know,” Vilmah sighed, putting away her rage for later. “He has us bound and jailed. There’s no clear way we can escape, given our lack of resources. He’ll expect us to struggle, maybe plan an escape. I can guarantee they already have a plan in place, should that happen.” "Thass why I'm thinkin' o' one now." he mutters, closing his eye once more to concentrate. He could feel Skoll's presence nearby, it was hard to discern where though. The worg had gone into hiding as Cobrak thought he would, stalking after them. The beast alone could not aid them, maybe another one could. An instinctual command is given through their link, the worg's presence retreating until he could no longer tap into it. "...Jus' 'ang on....might be a while, but I'm workin' onnit." Vilmah wiggled her fingers. She only had one arm, which meant they wouldn’t expect her to break out easily. How much did they know about her and Cobrak? Enough to know their rank, their history, and probably their abilities. “They’re going to expect you to use your animals to help us,” she said with a calm realization. “They know who we are. They know what we’re capable of. That’s a weakness on our part. The only way we’re going to get out of here is if we do something they won’t expect.” "They dinnae know alla 'em." he commented back as he kept looking around. "But that dinnae mean I'm gonan rely on that lone..." he muttered as he began looking at the orcess to appraise her. Without weapons, they were without a great deal of fighting strength even if they break free. Still, a fighting chance if... No, he shouldn't think about that. He needed to bury that thought deep down lest the inquisitor find it. "Right then..." he said, looking around. Vilmah took in another deep breath. “Cobrak,” she said carefully, her tone as even as the situation would allow. “We have to let him get close. We have to let him get close enough that he lets his guard down. That’s how we’re going to get out of here. By letting him in.” "That doesnae mean we kinnae keep lookin'." he stated back, "Aye, that do be a best bet, but I dinnae like ta rely on one plan lone...er e'en two." He sayid, looking toward the door. He positioned himself oddly, shifting his hands to grasp around one of his fingers. "'Ate doin' this..." he mumbled, knowing it would be the only way out if he seized their minds. Turning her head toward the other orc, Vilmah frowned at his muttering. "What are you doing?" "Pain. Pain anna lotta o' it breaks through mind shite." he answered, knowing well enough how to best mind-takers. "So when 'e comes back...bes' git ready when 'e tries to take our minds." Vilmah smiled a little, lowering her eyes. "You think breaking a finger is gonna do that?" "Done it fore." he said, almost looking like he would shrug. "S'ow I got free o' shite like this fore." "You've had this happen before?" Vilmah asked with raised eyebrows. Cobrak grunted, "Aye...not from demons, but from 'umes." "Humans," she repeated, chewing on her lip thoughtfully. "How'd they get into your head?" Cobrak did not feel the need to mention it was one human. "Powerful gem, sum ol' relic...could rip part minds." “I see.” Vilmah considered what that might mean. If Cobrak had experience with having his mind prodded, would it make him more or less likely to crack under pressure? What kind of secrets did he have, that the Inquisitor would be so eager to get his hands on? She thought better than to ask those questions. Whatever Cobrak was hiding, she at least trusted that they were for the benefit of the Horde and worth protecting. “Cobrak, I know a thing or two about pain. If they go for me first, I know what to do. If you see that happen, do what you have to do to break us out of here. Can you do that?” "Aye, I may think ya're bit o' a sod, but I ain't bout ta leave any Horde be'ind." he said, damning what everyone otuside his company thought him to be. "So trust me sayin' we'll git outta 'ere wit our skin intact." He stated, rolling his shoulder. Vilmah sighed and tossed her head back, flipping a few strands of loose hair out of her face. "Well.." she muttered. "..I guess that's not the worst thing I've been called," she said with a little humor. "Try bein' an ex-Grim, ya'll find a whole new world o' insults." he states, trying a weary laugh.(edited) "Please... you think I don't have history with the Grim?" Vilmah tried to fold her legs in a more comfortable position, wincing as the chains cut into her skin. "I led Sanctuary when we were still seen as traitors for being loyal to Thrall. The Grim gave me shit every step of the way. They were weird that way. On the one hand, their own leader taught me everything he could. But his members didn't make it a secret that they wanted me dead. Every day. Because I didn't want to help them burn orphanage buildings or hunt farmers. But you can bet your ass that when they asked us to join them in the Molten Core, we went." "ya think its jus' tha Grim givin' shite?" He stated, looking back at the orcess. "Juli's tha only damn Sanct I found who dinnae try ta spit on me er'ry chance they damn well git...Lookin' down from tha ivory towers, paradin' an' grandstandin' that tha rest o' us dinnae know better..." Cobrak snarled, snorting his anger still. "Shite, ya wanna know 'ow this whole bloodbath thin' started wuz when a Sanct straight up tried ta murder a Grim...Oh, an' tha resplendid damn idea o' defendin' an Alliance military base from a Grim assault!" he huffed, trying to cool himself back down. "Only thing worse than Syreena be Kex'ti...both them shitebags 'ave attacked more Horde than anyone else I know." “Well I don’t know much about Kex’ti,” Vilmah admitted. “I was gone when Juli reformed the guild. I was gone when she married Kex’ti, made him an officer.” Why she was gone, Vilmah didn’t have the strength to admit. “I don’t know what you’re talking about when you say ‘ivory towers’. I don’t know what that’s like. The Sanctuary I knew was small, just me and my Bloodsworn. We didn’t have the numbers to be cocky, and we certainly didn’t have the time or the energy. We were just trying to survive with our spirits intact.” Again, she shifted her legs. “Most of us didn’t make it.” Cobrak grunted, easing back to try and relax himself. "Well, s'changed...Juli's a good woman anna good commander...but gods damned iffin 'er choice in 'usbands makes no sense." He grunted, looking back over to the orcess. "S'changed then from wut ya know...I 'eard wut 'appened durin' Garrosh's rule, went up in flames....Remember gittin' a bounty fer you lot fore I signed on wit tha Grim...Remember burnin' it too, figgurin' out when Hellscream lost 'is damn mind." There was a moment of quiet reflection as Vilmah’s lip trembled. Closing her hazel eyes, she took a few steadying breaths. “Yeah, well, we saw that firsthand. We had to scatter. Those bounties didn’t end with the burning of our hall. They followed us, especially me. Nojinbu wound up in Pandaria, so consumed by rage he needed their monks to help him out of it. We had to send our daughter away. Our human daughter. So she’d be safe.” Opening her eyes again, Vilmah glanced at Cobrak. “I don’t hate you, or your company. I think we have a lot in common. What scares me is that there might be more, and I don’t want to see that happen.” Cobrak's eye turned down, remembering what it was like to feel so betrayed by someone he had looked up to... Had believed in. The Warchief's betrayal did not just hurt his enemies. "...A lotta people ask why we keep kids from the Alliance....lott apeople say they're slaves...er trophies." Cobrak's eye turns outward, staring off towards a direction he knew his home was. It was as natural to find it, so purely engrained into his being. "...We find 'em...sum were test subjects....fer those 'umes I said fore..." His eye withers as he remembered the day Naheal's draenei spy had found them, some starving, days away from dying. "...Others we took in cuz they 'ad nowhar else ta go...Dalyia's father made a lotta enemies...Alliance an' Horde both....enemies that wouldnae 'esitate ta kill 'er ta git at 'im." “I don’t begrudge your willingness or your want to help them,” Vilmah said quickly. She could tell there was sincerity there. “I think maybe I’m just worried that no matter how safe you think you can keep them, it’ll never be enough. Well, that’s life in general though. I think I feel the same way about everyone. She swallowed down the bitterness rising into her mouth. “I’m a little paranoid. After what happened, I can’t stop thinking of every risk. I’m sorry if I projected that on to you. It wasn’t my intention to make you feel like I was looking down on you. I don’t have the right to look down on anyone.” The orc nodded back, "...Truth be...sumtimes I look at them....Look at them an' remmeber tha humes who took way my clan...my people." He takes a deep breath, "An' I remember tha hate. I remember hatin' them...I'll ne'er not hate humans..." He admits it like it were a curse, frowning. "...But me kiddos...tha kiddos we got...they willnae know that hate with them round....They'll not become like me...so pat o' ya lot lookin' down is right...Dinnae mean I like it..." Vilmah found herself frowning a little. “You think they’re not going to know hate, but that’s one thing you’re wrong about. They’ll know. They always know. I was born in Hammerfall. Some of those humans, they tried to be kind. Like you. They tried to be kind, but there was no way they could hide the way they felt. You have noble intentions, Cobrak, but if you feel hate for their kind, they’ll know. Don’t underestimate them.” "Thass why tha others who dinnae be tha ones who care fer 'em mostly." he replied, soon bringing out a small chuckle. "...Cept Dalyia...tha lil' pup...keeps tryin' ta butter er'ryone up." The laughter rang out, a little truer with genuine affection. It died down soon enough, Cobrak dimming some. "You have plenty to live for," Vilmah said in a resigned voice. "I'll make sure I give you the chance to get out. I don't think I need to remind you to aim to kill, but just in case - don't give him the chance to retaliate. As soon as you see an opening, go for it. Take him down any way you can." "Wut? I been through a shit ton worse than this, I ain't givin' up till me arms an; legs be blown off!" The orc snapped back, almost grinning in challenge to the world. "E'en then I'll bite an' spit till then." Vilmah smiled a little, closing her eyes to prepare. "I believe you." Cobrak rolled his jaw, wishing he had his pipe. "Good...cuz we's both gittin' out 'ere...cuz I need a drink after this an' I 'ate doin' it by meself." "Last time I drank with an orc, we ran naked through the Darkmoon fair," she said without a hint of shame. "I don't know, Cobrak. You think you can top that?" Cobrak cocked an eyebrow, "That passes as normal back 'ome." A grin formed on his mouth, completely humored. Vilmah laughed a little, her voice strained. "Okay. Then let's get out of this. You've already seen me naked, anyway." Cobrak laughed too, if far a cry from his normal guffawing. "Congrats, ya kin join 'alf tha women in tha Aldor now an' brag bout seein' me buck nekkid." Rolling her eyes, Vilmah smirked to herself. "Pass. My mate isn't too keen on me going full regimental blademaster, he probably won't be happy if he hears you saw me like this too." Cobrak quirked his head, "Aye, troll ain't 'e?" "Drakkari," Vilmah answered gently. "One of the best killers I've ever known. Now he's a monk." Cobrak remained silent, suddenly looking up and down her body and seemingly very puzzled.... then again Xaraphyne and Fhenrir were a similar conundrum, so he didn't press the question. "Ne'er knew any frost trolls who werenae batshit crazy....but interestin'." "His tribe, the Frostbite trolls, they were destroyed by dwarves," Vilmah shrugged. "They weren't like the ones in Northrend. Nojinbu is the most honorable troll I've ever known. Most honorable member of the Horde, period." Cobrak grunted in affirmation, "Hmh. Seems a lil objective that statement." The orc chortled under his breath. The orcess grinned. "Yeah well, he ruined me for orcs, I'll say that. And he showed me that our people tend to have some pretty shit opinions when it comes to other races. That's why when Garrosh showed his true colors, I knew we were in for trouble. How he could do what he did to the trolls, and the Forsaken.. I couldn't bear it." Cobrak soured, "Fuckin' shite....Iffin 'e 'adnae gone fuckin' mad we woulda won tha war..." The orc grumbled, "I thought 'e wuz gonna finally wipe out tha Alliance after Theramore...Tha trolls were right ta rebel....Vol'jin wuz a good leader." Vilmah clearly felt pain with the mention of Vol'jin. "He was the best of us. The Legion.. they took the greatest thing we had. They're going to pay for that. Starting with this Inquisitor." Cobrak nodded, looking out to where the demon vanished. "...Aye, mebbe then we'll go THEIR world an' fuck up THEIR shite..EH?! Ya 'ear that fuckin' gnome-suckin' jacklobbers! Gonna run back ta yer 'ome an' string alla ya up!" There comes a bloodthirsty laugh as he yells. Vilmah blinked at Cobrak. He was certainly loud, but at least he was in good spirits. "Right.. just give me a few to get over this headache." Cobrak grunted, spitting that he did not get any attention from the shouting. He looked back over at Vilmah, cocking an eyebrow. "Magic's still ringin' in yer 'ead too?" "Yeah.." She muttered. "I have a feeling he's letting us cool down because it's more difficult to pick through our head when it's damaged." "Aye....like bleedin' out a carcass fore skinnin' it." he muttered, suddenly feeling uneasy. Like sensing on oncoming blizzard did his instincts prickle to an approaching presence. What answered his instincts wasn't an Inquisitor. Rather, it was a pair of Eredar, one male and one female. They regarded the two orcs with a chuckle, but said nothing to either of them. They seemed content to watch the prisoners squirm.
    2 likes
  13. Since spring's come around these parts, I figured I should kick off some interesting foraged food stuff! Feel free to post stuff you've tried or done too. This spring, I decided to try something I was too late to try making last year: Wild Garlic Mustard Pesto I used the recipe above as a base to start at, but found it to be too salty so reduced the salt to 3/4 tsp instead of 1 tsp. I choose to add the optional ramps, as they're in season as well right now. Had several people try it after it was made and everyone quite liked it, even the picky people! All you can really taste is a pleasant garlicky-ness, but with all the wild greens it has a nutritious punch. We also found that you -can- have too much pesto on your pasta and get overwhelmed by it, so go light if you try it too! Tonight, I put it on as a spread for my fish sammich, along with a few leaves of just picked dandelion greens and a sprinkling of redbud flowers (the pink things). It was pretty decent, but I think it'd go better with another meat besides white fish. The cup in the picture has deadnettle and ground ivy with honey tea. It's a light tea, similar to camomile. I'll be posting other things as they spring up.
    2 likes
  14. I have found a new Tribe, and it warms my heart... Since the decimation of my tribe and family during the Alliance attack on the Camp, I've been so focused on the rite of vengeance that I have nearly forgotten what it was to be around others who share a similar goal. Many of them fight with such ferocity that I am sure they do their ancestors proud, and there are several other shu'halo in this tribe, being among any number of my kin again brings a smile to my face, even during these treacherous times, there is always a hope that one day things will get better... Earth Mother willing. I was asked an interesting question when I returned the fallen Blood Knight's tome, a Forsaken girl asked me what I would do if I met a Wildhammer civilian... I found the question a bit puzzling. I have sworn the rite of vengeance against the Alliance, and so I consider them my foes, but I am not murderer. Their military is the only target I had considered, and the focus of my hammer. I did not consider such rhetorical things...a civilian is what exactly? Any who can take up arms against my people are my enemy... and what mercy did they show the Sternhorn Tribe, the Stonespire Tribe... the Camp... none. I look to what happened when the Warchief Garrosh laid waste to Theramore, how nearly the entire Horde deplored the action and eventually took up arms against him... but did the Alliance not do the same to our cities in the Barrens? For what? To gain a foothold in Kalimdor... unsatisfied with the lands they already occupy in force... large swaths in the wilds to the north and west. Always they seek power, a foothold... for the lives of my kin... where was their mercy? Where was their outrage? No... they celebrated...their glorious conquest...so will we. I will do what I must to defend my home... that is the only thing that concerns me. I have begun to learn about their mandate. It speaks of peace... the only peace this world can ever truly know. Both sides seem to seek peace, we must achieve it.
    2 likes
  15. 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.
    1 like
  16. 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. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    1 like
  17. 1 like
  18. 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
    1 like
  19. 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) http://get.dodlodging.net/propertys/North-Island-Beach-Cottages, last I checked each was like $85 per night. I'd prefer to get out of the west coast (best coast).
    1 like
  20. 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.)
    1 like
  21. 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.
    1 like
  22. So just to jump on the New Orleans bandwagon, I'd like to suggest the following: Accomodations: Omni Royal New Orleans Just a few blocks from Jackson Square, we'd be right in the middle of everything. They have 3 suites available, the largest of which holds up to 25 people. We would be a block from Bourbon Street, which is where all the mayhem happens. We would be within walking distance of just about everything you wanna do in New Orleans, from graveyard walks to haunted tours to the Voodoo museum. I have a whoooole list of things we can do besides these things, but if we go in an offseason (say winter, January maybe) we will get low prices and it shouldn't be too hot for all you sweaty people.
    1 like
  23. 1 like
  24. I think after a big city trip like Vegas, a more rural trip might be in order. Portland, OR Pros: Lots of Indie restaurants/bars/pubs. Cheap stay Easy access to camping/rafting out in the wilderness Vegas-esque shows for half the price. Cons Far trek for east coasters Summer weather is never predictable. If not there, I'd be perfectly fine with a trip to Boston or a beachhouse/cabin of some kind in the Midwest or New England, but I'd think I'd skip another big city trip if its New Orleans or Atlantic City.
    1 like
  25. ALRIGHT I'M BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER FOR CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR. Act 3 is here. Act 3 is where you finish up the story. You want to resolve all the plot threads that you've given out so far (unless you're leaving some kind of hook for a new, future story) and close off the story so that your players can reach a satisfying conclusion. Act 2 is full of vectors, bouncing off and around on different issues, many of them incremental to whatever the big, fat main tension of your story is. Act 3 will typically have one vector and it will be compressed in time. If you're going to run only one event in tandem with your story, make it this one because the drama and tension are only heightened if everything comes crashing to a roaring conclusion here. Act 3 typically starts with a big, momentous decision from your character or characters, which is why you want to hit them on a personal level right at the end of Act 2 so that this decision and them being at their lowest coincide. This is the stuff of heroes. Characters that are beleaguered on all sides still standing up and fighting for themselves and what's right in the face of insurmountable odds. Act 3 is also where the stakes of your story sit. Whatever the stakes are or have been up to now, they need to be dwarfed by what you're rolling out for Act 3. If the difference between success and failure for the hero is too small and inconsequential, then you're losing out on a lot of tension and drama. This act 3 start is also right when your characters are complete. The character arc almost always completes at the end of Act 2 and beginning of Act 3 because you want them to make this decision here and contrast it with who they were way back in Act 1. The characters enter their final form (for this arc you're writing, anyway) and then face off against the villain when they're at their peak. The character that is incomplete in the third act isn't any of your protagonists; it's your antagonist. The third act is where your antagonist's inability to change, inability to overcome their flaws, and inability to complete themselves like the main characters have just demonstrated falls back in and implodes upon themselves. This is why villain double down on their villainous flaws and would rather die than change, in most cases. The principle characteristic that defines your antagonist in most instances is his inability to change like your characters do. That is his great weakness. That is why he fails, in the end, because even though he starts off with this great boost of confidence and power because he's satisfied with his incomplete self, that incompleteness will always crack and crumble in the face of a character that has overcome their flaws rather than built themselves on them. I'm going to go into this a bit more when it comes to villains, who really deserve a section all on their own, but this character consciousness is important for Act 3. If you're going to tell me that redemption villains don't fit this mold, don't worry I'll address that later. The short version is: you're right, but you really have to do your homework and dot your i's and cross your t's to get there. The long version is below. While Act 3 is where the villain falls apart, it's also where the villain is at their most menacing, threatening and dangerous. In most stories, this is because whatever the villain has been plotting has almost come to fruition, and just like the hero has been gaining power and abilities over the course of the ability, the villain has as well. (The heroes couple their power gain with overcoming their flaws/deficiencies. The villains do not, and typically, sell out themselves and make themselves more flawed in order to get the same boost in power.) This power will very frequently backfire on the villain, and just as quickly as its granted, also be taken away. But don't take that preceding bit to justify not letting your characters be awesome. Because Act 3 is where you take the ropes off and let your heroes be as super cool and awesome as they can be. During Act 2, you can beat up on your players, get under their skin, hand them defeats, because the promise at the end of the rainbow is getting to beat the shit out of McBaddie like a rock 'em, sock 'em robot. All that tension that you build up with failures in Act 2 gets released in Act 3, when they get to kick the snot out of the villain. But if you focus in too much on your villain's self-defeating nature and he kind of undoes himself with his bad bargains and flaws catching up with him, then you're not giving the characters a chance to relieve all that tension that you built up and then it festers and rots into unsatisfying frustration. Striking this balance, when you can hit it, works wonders. Because players like just as much to beat the tar out of someone while at the same time, being shown that that person's addiction to their own flaws is what made them fall. Because the heroes are almost always ideologically opposed to the villain, when the villain's ideology turns out to be rotten to the core and destroys him from within, watching that happen is super great. You're seeing that you were right all along, kind of thing. You can play with this a bit, too, if you want. Every villain should be sympathetic, and if you drive that to an extreme, you can have your characters sympathize with the villains so much so that it's a bittersweet victory. But in general, the bad guy is irredeemably bad and gets beaten pretty badly by the heroes anyway. It really depends. Back to Act 3 structure stuff for a second, there should almost always be a "twist in the third act" which is not about the overall tension, but about the act tension, essentially. The twist in the third act serves three big functions: 1) It breaks up the story a bit so that whatever strategy the characters walked into the third act with needs to also change. This creates a need for the story to adapt around this twist and become something different. When you don't do this, you just have punching and fighting for the whole third act and it can get a bit stale. 2) It refocuses the story from big stuff to small stuff. The first half of the Act 3 fighting typically happens on a very large scale, with large scale goals. It is when the big, epic, flashy stuff happens and the resolution to those big, epic, flashy things begins to really resolve. The twist almost always narrows the focus and drills it down into a single point. For LOTR, Gollum showing up in mount doom is the twist. The first half of the third act (with Sam and Aragorn playing high calibur double duty) sets up the stakes to the end of the massive conflict, but the twist focuses it in entirely on Frodo vs Gollum. Two husks, addicted to the ring, fighting over the fate of the world. When main characters, typically supporting characters, get mortally injured, that's the twist and the tension shifts from "saving the world" to "saving this person's life." When the villain injects himself with the unstable super serum and becomes a rampaging monster out of desperation, even if the stakes are the same or bigger, because we're drilling down to the conflict on just that one villain, it serves the same purpose. 3) It puts the initiative back in the villain's hands. When Act 3 begins, the hero is the one taking the initiative and implementing a plan and strategy to overcome the villain. If there's no twist, a lot of the time, there's no swapping of the initiative between the hero and the villain, and if that swapping doesn't happen then the story can get static. By giving the villain a moment to redefine the fight (because 90% of the time, the twist is a result of something the villain does,) you are making the story more dynamic and more of a back and forth between the protagonists and the antagonist. The twist can also go the opposite way, in the right circumstances. Instead of the twist being something that the villain does, (stab the love interest, hit the self destruct button, or drink the unstable potion) it can be something the hero does. If you stowed away 2 of your 8 characters to follow up later with backup, that's your twist, and it's executed by the hero. It shifts some structural stuff around (you need the characters in Helms Deep to be desperate in order for Gandalf arriving with the rohirrim to feel good) but with the right set up and context, it can be great. Once the characters adapt their strategy to contend with the twist, which places the initiative back in their hands, we're ramping up to the climax. The climax is the single point, the one thing that happens, the very moment where the most tension will be released. It's not a sequence, or a scene, or anything else, it's one action, really at the end of the day, it can be boiled down to one sentence. The ring falls into the lava of Mount Doom. The Death Star explodes. Tirion Fordring kills Arthas. Arthas kills his father. What this climax will look like will change depending on the story, and there will be different techniques for different contexts. I have some die hard habits, like I love the immediately pre-climax speech, either the hero explaining how much he's gained and learned and how good this will feel or the villain coming apart at the seems and choosing death over defeat, but whatever works for you works for you. But it's a big moment that you want everyone to focus on as much as possible. Your antagonist doesn't have to die here, but they do need to stop putting up a fight. This is where they lose. I actually want to dwell on this for a moment, because I'm going to address it more thoroughly later, but the antagonist needs to extremely definitively lose at this moment. What that loss looks like will also change in the context of the story, but a lot of the time it's going to be death. But there are other options, too. You can depower the villain (after having burned himself out trying to kill the heroes) and then have him escape. You can have the villain be captured. Hell, you can leave the villain in the hands of the heroes and let them come to their own decision on what to do with him. But I highly recommend death, and if you choose not to go with death, you better make sure that the heroes feel good about this defeat. Also, don't repeat something that you've already pulled before. If the heroes cornered the villain and he teleported away, you can't repeat that, because it'll just feel cheap and frustrate the players. If your villain gets thrown in jail and then he breaks out, you can't ever lock him up again, because the heroes have definitive proof that he'll bust out. I'm a very big fan of depowering villains. If they're a shadow priest, they become magic locked and can't cast any more. If they have some great weapon, it's taken from them at the very least, but shattered in the final fight preferrably (think Frostmourne.) If they're a paladin, the Light abandons them. These kinds of things. After the climax, your whole job is wrapping up plot threads and phasing yourself out of a GM role. Players are good at picking up the pieces to stories. Most players will grapple with what happened on their own and you don't need to coach them through it. If you're done with your story, they're probably going to extend some piece out of it and create their own non-GMed RP and that's great. In fact, I tend to think the mark of a great event/storyline is that people walk out of it grappling with it, and the fallout of it extends for a bit. In story terms, this is called the denouement (which I think is pronounced DAY-NEW-MAW, because it's french) and outside of NPCs that you've introduced or any items, locations, powers, anything you need to explain a resolution to, you should be hands off here. Let the players resolve their characters on their own. Don't force that. And even though it's technically not an act, I want to take a moment to acknowledge... Sequels RPers love continuity. It's why we police people's lore. It's why we constantly reference our backstories, or old stories that we took part in. I've never in my life met an RPer that RPed without an eye towards the larger continuity of the server, world, whatever. When you've finished your story, you're adding to that continuity. My recommendation first and foremost: don't continuity police your own story. In the same way that I think the best approach is to be hands off with the denouement of the story, be hands off with the continuity of it after the fact. People will adopt it into their RP and the characters naturally and you don't want to stymie that by hounding everyone that references things after the fact. I've seen this happen from time to time (and I super fall into this trap all the time) and it almost always has negative results. Interestingly enough, the results aren't purposefully negative. It's not malice. People don't get mad at you. But they do feel a distance from it. RP is the gift that you give other players, and your storyline is a gift that you give other players. Once it's over, don't try to own it or take it from them. Let them play with it how they want. If you become overbearing about it, it creates this weird sense that they're playing with someone else's property, and they put it down and put it away. This is the last thing you want. Let them pick it up and go from there. But when a story ends, especially a good story, there's always a huge temptation to create a sequel. You want to recapture the magic! You want to go back to your favorite places! Your favorite things! You want to get the band back together and go on another tour! And there's a part of me that really wants to shit on this impulse, but I actually kind of have a hard time doing so. I think sequels can be a trap, sure, but I also think that they're fun and RPers sign up for continuity, so get them on board. The big thing that I recommend when it comes to sequels (or spinoffs, also) is that you work hard not to invalidate the original story. The Two Towers is the sequel to Fellowship, but it doesn't retroactively shit on aspects of Fellowship. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen basically does. The defeat of the cube and megatron is basically unwritten in the opening minutes of Revenge of the Fallen because the Decepticons wake him up immediately. All the gains that had been made over the course of the first movie are instantly undone with that act. This is the kind of thing you want to avoid. If you killed your villain, keep him dead. Even if he's a likable villain that we all want to see more of. Just let him be dead and move on to something else, or someone else. His old apprentice tries to finish what his master started. Someone finds the shards of his old weapon and falls under the same curse when they reforge his blade. Someone who chased the villain all their life turns their focus on you for stealing the kill. Absolutely bring back old elements of the other story, NPCs, locations, what have you, but do yourself a gigantic favor and use that moment to create contrast. When you journeyed to the village enslaved by the McBaddie, it was barren and desolate, but when you return to fight McBaddie Jr, it's vibrant and alive. This contrast shows the characters the gains that they've made by completing that first story. And it gives them something to fight for (keeping McBaddie Jr from returning the village to the state they originally found it in.) Essentially, the failure state for the story becomes: back to square one, the positive changes that you've made are all erased. The last thing I want to mention when it comes to sequels is watching out for backstory bloat. Unless the group of people you're running for are exactly the same, which would be a miracle, you're going to have new people walking into this story who don't have the same basis for it that the long term holdouts do have. Boil that story into bite size chunks, throw away all the plot detritis and focus on what matters. A LOT of stuff is going to have happened during your first storyline, but let everything that's not absolutely essential go. And don't cater only to the people that have been here before. It can be easy to get wrapped up in collective nostalgia, especially when one player shares your enthusiasm for your story, but don't let that become a barricade keeping new people out. Yes, the relationships that have been forged and changed over the course of the first story matter, and you don't want to trample any of that stuff, but make sure that you as the GM are being as welcoming and open as possible when it comes to these folks joining the storyline team. Creating plot hooks for new folks to get on board, things tailored to them and their characters and their skillset, that's a one way ticket to an engaged player, even one who's new to your story. Don't be haphazard. Don't give them a thread that you could have given to anyone. Give them a thread made for them, that only they could take. If people see you going out of your way to get their character on board on THEIR terms rather than your terms, you're going to get a great response from them. ------------------------------------------ Alright, so that's my act structure breakdown. I have a lot more that I want to address and talk about, but I'm not really sure what I want to get into next. If there's something that I've mentioned that you want to get some more thoughts on, let me know. Here are some topics that I want to cover in future BaernRantz: -McGuffins -Villains -Tropes/Cliches -Lorebreaking/Lorebending/Lorepolicing -Creating character arcs for characters you don't control -Creating stakes Shit, I'm sure there's more. IDK I'm going to just keep posting until I've exhausted my own well of unorganized thoughts that I want to get on paper.
    1 like
  26. Not just because I live there, I'd like to pitch a bit about Los Angeles. Pros: -Having locals means cars, parking, pickups from LAX are super easy -LAX is one of the most important airports in the country, flights are easy, cheap and direct -The weather will be nice even during the off-season so winter trips can still be sunny and warm -Disneyland, Universal Studios and Six Flag are all awesome destinations for day trips -Transportation is easy (Arahe, myself and Seguul are all locals with cars seating 15 people just between the three of us.) -Renting beach houses/hollywood houses is straightforward and easy. (Like this place with a heated pool and hot tub.) -People who need to be cheap can chill in the apartments of the locals for freesies. -Locals have the in on cool places, like Karaoke, Korean BBQ, Bars, and Clubs off the beaten path Cons: -Driving is the main mode of transport -Pacific ocean is cold as fuck -Long trek for East Coasters -Just did a West Coast centric TNGCon The thing that I think works best about LA is that because we have locals (5 of whom went to Vegas this year) we have a lot of flexibility when it comes to pricing, entertainment, activities, you name it. The flights into LAX are cheap ($300 from Boston to LAX) and direct (people were doing layovers in LAX to go to Vegas!) and transportation would basically be provided for free from those locals. Housing could easily split into folks that want to rent a party house and folks that want to crash on couches because they need to be cheap. The money that you're saving on housing? Well, now you've got cash for your Disneyland trip or Universal Studios trip.
    1 like
  27. My main reason for not going this time was a lack of vacation hours for family vacations. Going forward, I can budget those hours a bit better and perhaps attend! I like the idea of Boston, but I would go one step further and say Cape Cod. One can still get to Boston pretty easily, but it's Cape Cod! Beach houses are nice, and I don't care what Shaelie says! I know that Cape Cod has some cool lighthouses, nice beaches, and some amazing seafood (which I'm all about). Dunno what resorts/hotels/whatevers are there. For New Orleans: Pros -Unique culture, food, atmosphere, and entertainment -Casinos, jazz houses, and interesting night life, as well as some familiar vacation things -Mild winter/early-spring season (but watch out for the rainy season...) -All the booze, both cheap and expensive Cons -No, seriously, watch out for the rainy season! -Hot as balls in the late spring and summer months -Not -hard- to get to, but maybe out of the way for both West Coasters and New Englanders -Stay away during Mardi Gras
    1 like
  28. The major thing that prevented me from going this year was timing. But, I should be in the United States again in late March. So if it were to happen in early March or April, for example... Just saying! Once I'm in the U.S. though, getting around the country isn't a huge deal. I'll already have flown around the world, so hopping to another state from California is a breeze. Or road trip it with Fhen and Xara.
    1 like
  29. Full (re)colored version
    1 like
  30. Qabian stood in the shadows beneath a tree across the square from Stormwind’s orphanage, watching the soft yellow light in its windows keep the night from slipping completely into darkness. Wearing a heavily hooded cloak that hid his ears and pulled low enough over his face to shade the glow from his eyes, he could have been any ordinary human citizen that hadn’t needed to deftly avoid gryphon rider patrols to access the city. The time of year and other things had compelled the mage to spend time considering the Grim’s overall policies on enemy non-combatants. Generally, those policies seemed to be “no one cares.” In reality, any given Grim could hold any idea somewhere between “it’s best to destroy the enemy in their cradles before they get the opportunity to become a problem” and “none of them are innocent, but fighting babies is dishonorable.” Most seemed to lean toward the former, as did Qabian. But for the mage, the issue was not as simple as a policy. There were reasons, none of them rational, why all this talk of children sparked his anger. Orphans should have the good sense to die alongside their parents. Propagating youth into this world was irresponsible and everyone who did so should be reminded of that as frequently and harshly as possible. Any of a dozen other nonsensical pronouncements that excused or even encouraged destroying those who most needed protection. His aversion to children was far more deep-seated than simple proselytizing, but each time Qabian’s thoughts threatened to dwell on the true reasons for his rage, he redirected the emotion into action rather than let honesty and introspection lead to anything more subtle than burning buildings. His hands itched and he flexed his fingers as he tried to decide exactly what actions he would take. It wouldn’t be the first time the Grim had torched this building. They did so fairly regularly. In fact, they had done it together a matter of months ago. Qabian never learned if there were any actual casualties as a result of such actions. He doubted it. If a stampede of Alliance boots trampled through Orgrimmar, he was fairly certain the orphanage could be warned and the children spirited away to some underground hiding place until the danger passed. Expecting the Alliance couldn’t do the same for their children seemed shortsighted, even if he made a point never to overestimate human intelligence. He even remembered attacking the institution several times alone during his early days in the Grim, but it was usually just a side stop on a destructive rampage of his own making. But on this occasion, it was the sole reason he was in Stormwind at all. The door to the orphanage creaked open, allowing a beam of light to fall across Qabian’s hooded form. The matron stepped out and set something loose on the step, a small creature, perhaps a mouse, no doubt some child’s pet not hidden stealthily enough from the authorities at bedtime and turned out into the danger of the city. The blood elf in the shadows seized the opportunity. He blinked across the short span of the square, grabbed the woman, one arm across her face to stifle screams, then pushed her roughly back inside the building and kicked the door closed behind him. A dozen shocked children in various states of preparing for bed stared at their frantically struggling caregiver and the cloaked man that held her. The matron bit down on his arm. An expected reaction, the mage didn't flinch, but he did burst into flames, then so did she. The children screamed and the chaos began in earnest. The matron’s blazing body collapsed to the floor at Qabian's feet. The spectre of flame that was a mage under combustion fired a blast at the nearest child. The child ducked under the bed which immediately went up in flames itself. Sparks leapt from the burning bed to loose sheets nearby catching the next bed on fire as the conflagration quickly spread. Most of the children, seemingly well-trained for such villainy, rushed to the far corner of the room where a panel of the wall slid away. Qabian stalked forward. Crackling ice spread across the floor, ensnaring the ankles of three of the running children. He grabbed the nearest by the wrist when suddenly the door creaked open behind him. Qabian spun around and his hood slipped back. There shouldn't have been time for help to arrive yet. The night matron was a smoldering pile of nothing. The children hadn't escaped yet. The screams should have been muffled by the enclosed location. Who could have sent help already? “Matron, it seems one of your young charges thought to go exploring--” A strong but gentle voice explained as the door slowly swung open to reveal a knight in armor, looking down at a little girl whose small hand disappeared in his gauntleted grip. The knight gasped as he took in the scene of chaos and destruction, and immediately pushed the little girl behind him protectively. The flames enveloping Qabian’s body died away, revealing a highly unpleasant grin of recognition on his elven face. “You!” the knight shouted. “Expecting someone else?” Qabian tossed the child he had grabbed at the knight for a moment's distraction, then blinked into the middle of the group of children gathered around their escape route, causing them to shriek and scatter around the burning room. The knight gently caught the flung child and set it gently to the side. “Everyone! Out the front door!” he bellowed. “I’ll take care of this.” Qabian laughed as the children rushed to obey. “Of course you will. Think you can actually kill me this time, Cavanaugh?” The blood elf spat the knight’s name. A hammer of light slammed down onto the mage, stunning him. He knew it was coming and that he’d have to wait it out. Cavanaugh calmly crossed the room toward the mage, pushing a burning chair to one side to clear a path for the fleeing orphans. He grabbed the dazed mage by the throat, lifting him off his feet, crushing the life out of him. “I know I can, Grim.” Qabian’s eyes turned upward and he felt consciousness slipping away. He willed himself to focus on his attacker as the hammer’s effects diminished. Another slight crackle was heard before a loud snap as Cavanaugh’s grip was knocked away and the mage was encased in a massive block of ice. “You can't hide in there for long, felspawn.” Cavanaugh snarled. “Help!” cried a tiny voice amidst the roar of the fire. The first child that had dodged Qabian's attack was pinned under the flaming furniture that had initially saved his life. A little girl was pulling on his arm, futilely trying to free him before the mass of fire and char collapsed on both of them. Cavanaugh hesitated a moment, weighing those two children's lives against the dozens or hundreds that would be saved if the blood elf could be permanently ended right then. The hesitation was enough for the mage. The ice block shimmered away and Qabian blinked to the exit. “Better luck next time, hero.” Cavanaugh quickly freed the child and dashed to the door, holding the boy in his arms. The little girl rescuer hid behind the knight's strong form in the doorway. Cavanaugh sighed. The elf was long gone. “The bad guy just vanished! Disappeared! Poof!” said one of the orphans that had gathered in the square. “Do not concern yourself with that, little one,” Cavanaugh said, kneeling as he made certain each of the children was all right. A patrol was already approaching from the cathedral. “Why did he attack us, Sir?” another small voice piped up. “Because there are evil monsters, ones that wish to do only harm. You are safe now, and I will stay close to make sure you are safe, Light willing.” “Will he come back?” Cavanaugh smiled at the child and patted his head. “Don't worry. I will catch him. And I will make sure he gets what he deserves.” “Easier said than done, friend,” Qabian murmured from his hiding place around the corner, the last word intoned like a slur before he teleported away.
    1 like
  31. This is the worst holiday. There are objectively worse holidays. But subjectively, qualitatively, personally... this one is the worst.
    1 like
  32. I was mistaken... and while I truly do wish redemption for my former brothers in arms, the reaction and wave that it received was not only unintentional, but unwelcome and really did not get at the heart of what I was trying to accomplish. It was necessary to disband the Crimson Legion... I wanted to create an organization that truly followed the tenants of the Light, and that sent a message to its enemies and struck fear within those who supported the chaos that its enemies bring. In doing so, it spun out of control... and I regret some of the direction that we took. My goal was to lead a symbol that the Legion corrupted down its throat, while following the TRUE tenants of the Light and dealing with the treacherous Banshee Queen... In doing so I may have gotten so caught up with our cause, that I forgot some of the teachings that are instrumental in following the Light. Although I do not regret the execution of Lady Trysteza, her part in the assault on Light's Hope, and the end goal of the Ebon Blade needed a reprisal... however, it was shortsighted of me to lump all of the former servants of the Lich King into the same mold expel them all from the Legion. It is necessary to allow for redemption of those that truly seek it... no matter their current state. It would seem that this for a time, was lost on me. Justice is important, but we must also strive to make sure the justice we seek is not based on retribution or emotion, that it is based on righteousness and balance. When I look back and consider my actions, I understand them, but I am ashamed of the fact that I lost hope... that I thought only a radical adherence to the Light would save us. The King had fallen, the Highlord... how many times must I see such things? I have now seen the fall of two great Kings... more great Paladins then I can count... and to think that by creating a divide I could stop it, the naiveté is stunning. Hope, however, can be rekindled, and I believe the boy that would be King has now the heart to lead us. His recent show of faith and leadership is the most encouraging thing that I have seen since the most invasion of the Burning Legion, and I will follow his banner and leadership with the same fervor that I did his father. I will do ALL that I can to ensure no other king of the Alliance falls, this I promise and I will dedicate myself to it with the entirety of my being. I once ran an organization, for a time... that was dedicated to protecting the Alliance. It was ages ago, or so it seems... I must reinstate that commission... that order is needed now more than ever. The High King will have the protection of a Praetorian once again, and Light willing, we will ensure that no harm comes to another leader of the Alliance. There must be NO MORE Terenes Menethil II's or Varian Wrynn's, no more deaths of our great leaders. There is something however that I must first deal with... there was apparently a rumor that while I was in Stormwind, I had fallen by the hand of a Blood Knight. These rumors are obviously exaggerated, and apparently the belongings that I left in Light's Hope when I renounced that Order were pillaged and shown as proof of my demise and some tall tales in regards to my defeat were told amongst the most deplorable within the Horde, I shall deal with this personal matter only briefly, I must not let it cloud my duty, but it also must be dealt with. Tiandron Bloodstrider... justice shall be met. Before I undertake such a task I must also repent and make amends with the Highlord of the Silver Hand. While I will be dedicated to the protection of the King, I need to make that right... I do not need to be reinstated within that Order, but I would certainly seek a common ground so that we can work together. Finally, the Horde... this is my most intriguing dilemma. Certainly we will do what we can to protect the King, but though my travels and battles I have found many of the Horde to be quite honorable... not all are as vile as the Forsaken and their kin... and while it baffles me that the Banshee Queen can lead, desperate times... I doubt she will sit long on the throne... as long as she does however, we will continue to approach with caution and resolve. Their are certainly some old foes that are beyond redemption, but a frivolous or reckless stance against the entire Horde for the actions of small radical organizations is foolish, and while it drove me to the edge of madness before, I must never allow myself such a rush to judgment. May I always remember that any experience, good or bad, is always worth it, so long as you learn something from it. I have to atone for some of my actions, but I will not let that deter me from my duty to the Light and to the Alliance.
    1 like
  33. The silence was deafening. There was usually always some sort of white noise. People talking, birds singing, the sounds of metal clashing against metal. The sounds of life and violence. Silence was a strange thing to come upon for someone so used to an unquiet life. It made it easier to hear her own heartbeat, which was slow and plodding, as well as her own breathing, which felt shallow in her chest. Ragged. It was difficult to breathe, and that was what woke her. That and the pain. A solid dull ache in the base of her skull, damage from the shadow magic that incapacitated her. Vilmah opened her eyes to see a blur of gray as her eyes adjusted to the dim light. Memories came trickling in; the fight, the demons, Cobrak? She wiggled her fingers, but found only one hand responded. Slowly looking toward her left, she saw that the newly crafted arm created by Gunheya and Dessim was gone. “Shit..” she muttered, reaching for the stump only to find that her remaining arm was restrained, as were her ankles. Both were connected by a series of chains and manacles, which she now saw were bound to the wall behind her. Solid stone all around, bars in front. The cold air signaled that she’d been stripped, and looking down she saw that all of her scant armor was gone, leaving the orcess bare, without even her chest wrap or a pair of underwear. “Shit,” she grumbled again, squeezing her eyes shut to refocus herself. The pain was still there, floating in the back of her head like the ghost of failure. Upon opening her eyes and finding the cell a little clearer, she looked around again only to find that she wasn’t alone. Beside her, also stripped and bound by chains, was Cobrak. Vilmah took a deep breath and cursed for a third time. “Shit.” Ears quirked to the sound of profanity, his breath sifting in like sand through a strainer. His lone eye fluttered open only to close again at the aftershocks of magic hammered dull throbs in his mind. His teeth grated with a low growl as he sucked in air. Nostrils flared as he tried to move, finding his wrists shackled behind his back and legs clamped together. How could he be captured again? Again to be tormented. Again was he caged and chained, and again did he feel the bestial rage that boiled within him at the audacity to try to contain him. He would sooner die then let another Morinth or Lazhio torture him. Death, was not in the itinerary, he had a family to return to. He needed to settle before his struggling tore his wrists off. What was the last things he remembered? Attacking warlocks... then the orcess.... then demons... then... the rage overtaking him and- and he now had a partner in this cell he now noticed. Of all the people to be stuck with... could be worse, he supposed. Could have been Kex'ti. "Hrngh." Cobrak grunted, snorting as he tried to carefully wriggle out of his bindings. "...Whar be we?" Vilmah’s loose purple hair covered half of her face, hiding her irritation at the situation that brought them together. She wasn’t particularly fond of Cobrak, or most orc males in general for that matter. She could practically feel the anger boiling off of him, the kind she worked so hard to suppress as a blademaster apprentice. “I don’t know,” she said evenly, her voice straining to remain calm. “The last thing I remember was being hit with shadow magic.” Deep calming breaths. Vilmah attempted to center herself, to consider their situation more critically. Getting their bearings seemed the best first time. “Are you injured? They took my arm, and our armor, and our weapons.” Shifting in her bindings, she considered the strength of the chains. Strong though she was, she wasn’t exactly capable of breaking metal with her bare hand. The mention of his beloved rifle gone made him almost snarl, if only to spite the pain ringing through him. Whatever that demon was, he was going to find his own head shoved up his ass! A breath followed as he closed his eyes, his body moving how it could to locate any injuries. His side immediately shot a flare of pain as he did so. Enough to warrant a cautionary signal in his mind. "...Fine.. mebbe got a rib ‘er two busted." he grunted, neverminding the fact that they were both naked as the day they were born. A thought brewed in his mind as he began reaching out with his natural beastial prowess. "...No critters round." He says after a few moments. "Not e'en a damn rat...." He grunted, trying to branch further out to contact the instinctual bond he shared with his beasts. "Do that an' ya'll be useless inna fight." Cobrak warned as he became almost meditative. He sent out his mind's eye to connect with something, anything; only for the shadow magic to throw off his concentration. He snarled and snorted like an angry bull, shaking his head as though making to charge. "Gimme sum time...I kin..." He was cut off when a third entered their delightful little conversation. “Oh good, you’re awake,” came a haunting familiar voice.
    1 like
  34. Cobrak hated being put in a situation that he could could not control the flow of. To be put solely on the mercy of “ifs” made his stomach curl, and a new rage blossom in his heart. It was akin to his days as a slave, to merely wait for the oncoming whip to snap at him. The thought made a fresh new flutter of rage blossom in his heart as he awaited the arrival of their superior. Once again, the Inquisitor arrived. The demon didn't acknowledge the two Eredar as he floated toward the bars, but grinned at Cobrak and Vilmah as if he had nothing better to do than entertain himself with the two orcs. "I see you have both grown comfortable," he said casually. "I would suggest that while I pluck the secrets from your subconscious you do not attempt to fight me. My associates will keep you from harming yourself. Wasting my time will not stop me, and you will only delay the inevitable. My advice is that you simply enjoy the ride. If you behave, I may let you live a while longer." The two Eredar smirked at one another as Vilmah squirmed in her place. "I have no intention of behaving," she growled, staring at the Inquisitor. "Is that so?" The demon chuckled. "Well," he grinned at Cobrak. "I'll just have to start with your friend then." There came a low rumbling snarl from deep in Cobrak's throat, but it was a tired one; a lion in captivity who could no longer muster the feral pride in its new cage. Mind-delving torture was nothing new, another retched filcher who sought to plunder his brain for secrets would end up like all the rest. Vilmah turned to look at Cobrak. He seemed resigned to his fate, though she knew better than to think he would simply give up and allow the Inquisitor to steal all of his secrets. Still, she couldn't imagine what kind of secrets the mercenary would have, anyway. His type was typically shameless. He clearly felt no guilt in regards to killing, or war, so what kind secrets did the Inquisitor want? What would he want to find? "Why bother with him?" Vilmah said sarcastic sneer. "He doesn't have any secrets worth finding. He's a mercenary. What, do you want to find his recipe for gnome pot pie?" Cobrak's secrets were his alone, but for at that moment he needed the bait of those secrets to lure the inquisitor in for more. Thoughts ran through his head of a scene where he could maybe let the demon parcel his mind, let himself snap his finger to him out of the magical trance; then focus on the inquisitor... No fleshy bits for him to bite or turn into, no blunt force strong enough he could use to daze him. The two eredar posed the biggest problem, as even if he could take down the interrogator, those two would simply lash him back. Then Vilmah spoke, and a curious gaze was sent her way for the briefest of moments. This was too familiar of when he and Faelenor were in Lazhio's clutches, each laughing and abusing their tormentors in a contest to see who could help their comrade out more by being the center of attention for torture. The idiot was probably going to get herself killed. "She ain't e'en worth yer time. She's a low caste officer in 'er own guild." He grumbled. "He doesn't know what he stalking about," Vilmah argued, struggling against her bindings. "He hardly knows who I am. You do, though," she insisted, glaring at the Inquisitor. "You know why you brought me here, and it wasn't for some stupid pissing contest over importance. You want secrets? Go ahead. I have plenty, and none of them will help you." Cobrak grunted a little, letting his teeth flare once more to bare before the looming demons. "Ya know, I got mental implants from tha best minds in me company.... Let tha woman go an' I'll turn 'em off..." A bluff, since his deal with Lazhio evaporated those mental wards anyway; he didn't expect them to even bother thinking about the deal, just another part in the act. The Inquisitor and his associates laughed, clearly amused by the two orcs. "Enough.. enough!" The demon said in between chuckles. If he had eyes, they would be full of tears. "You're both remarkable in your idiocy. I'm going to reach into both of your heads and rip out what I want. There's no need to see who will be first, but since you both insist on being so selfless, I'm going to pick the one with the loudest mouth." Without another word, the Inquisitor turned to Cobrak and extended a hand in his direction. Within moments, pain shot through the orc's body, traveling from the base of his spine up toward his brainstem and throughout each nerve ending. "Now," the demon commanded. "What's on your mind, little orc?" With the pain came a surge of bestial anger, throbbing up his spine that made his eye practically glow with bloodlust. Much like partioning soldiers to make a false front to die so others could live, so did he make his focus as such when it came to his beasts' link; he hid it away and made a show of defense towards his most preciously guarded secrets. "G..UTT...IN'...YA...." He managed to growl, before his mind was seized.
    1 like
  35. Cobrak hocked a loogie at one and laughed, eager to rile them up. The eredar both laughed, the male stepping far enough away from Cobrak's projectile to let it land in front of his hooves. "Look, Xer'ci. He's angry," the male chuckled, grinning at his companion. "They said they would be ugly, but they didn't say just how ugly. How am I supposed to heal in these circumstances?" The female smirked and shook her head. "Just close your eyes and pretend he is your mother, Seyyir." Seyyir punched the female gently in her shoulder. "Bitch. Come on, let's get this overwith." The two eredar faced Vilmah and Cobrak. Their eyes glowed a little brighter as they focused their magic toward the orcs, healing their heads and their small wounds. It didn't take long before both Vilmah and Cobrak felt perfectly fine. Cobrak orc growled still, understanding that the healing was just the beginning of what would most likely be strenuous torture. He knew he had to be patient for a proper chance to strike, but he had to keep up an act that he would be defiant lest they become suspicious. More abuse was hurled their way, words and curses that would make a goblin sailor blush. Remarks about their mothers fornicating with fel boars were particularly descriptive. Despite his goading, the Eredar seemed less inclined to actually interact verbally with Cobrak. Once they finished healing them, the two stood aside but didn't leave. Vilmah regarded this turn of events suspiciously. "Don't mind us," Seyyir said with a chuckle. "We're just going to supervise this interrogation. Make sure you don't do anything stupid while it happens. Just in case," he added with a wink. Vilmah stared straight ahead, her mouth shut. She didn't bother looking at Cobrak, who she was certain would have something to say about that. Cobrak’s mind pondered. An angry opponent was easier to deal with, especially since they would be overseeing the torture now. How to make these shitbags angry? Had to be something deeply personal. He tried their families and appearances but that wasn't doing any good. That's when an idea came to him. Grinning to himself as he decided on a gambit that might spark true irritation. "Whass tha matter draenei?! Gonna 'ang back an' 'ide be'ind yer Prophet, ya red-skinned Naaru-suckin' goats?!" One thing that they would hate, as he remembered from his days working for the Aldor. These demons hated being referred to as their Light-worshipping cousins. The Eredar paused, blinking at eachother before bursting into laughter. Seyyir wiped a tear from his eye and nodded toward Cobrak, grinning. "That one, we'll have to make sure he lasts past the interrogation. I want to have fun with him when it's over." Cobrak kept on his laighter, hiding his fristration that he could not anger them. These guards were competent. How could he rattle them? He shot a look at Vilmah, giving her an eye-laden shrug as though to say, 'I tried'. Vilmah returned Cobrak's look dubiously. He was obviously trying to rattle them, but it didn't seem to work. For the first time, she felt appreciative of his attitude, the way he tried to take control of their situation. It was a strategy she could understand, needing to be in control. Being chained and at the mercy of someone else's plan clearly irked him.. "Stop it, Cobrak," she sighed, like someone who was tired of fighting. "What's the point.." Cobrak grunted, sneered before falling into a similar melancholy. The fight had been taken out of him, it seemed. Well, at least the front of him trying to put up a fight would be taken well. As Cobrak acquiesced, Vilmah prayed he would understand her meaning. If we're going to win, we have to lose, she thought to herself. He was clearly in the possession of a typical orcish temper, as evidenced by his behavior. She hoped that his submission would lead their captors in a direction that would give them the advantage. "I think they're ready, Xer'ci," Seyyir said with a smirk, nodding toward Cobrak. "I can see why this one is so angry. Having a female in charge must be incredibly emasculating." Xer'ci punched Seyyir in the shoulder. "Is that why you're such a shit?" She asked dryly, moving to lean against the wall with her arms folded. The Eredar looked down toward the hall. "Keep your mouth shut. Here h comes."
    1 like
  36. That was interesting. It at least confirmed again why I go to such things. I doubt I'll use the information I gained, but the simple act of gaining it is comforting. And I learned my lesson about showing up on time. Punctuality is important for combat. It's terrible for social functions. Unfortunately, I somehow spent most of the time waxing eloquent and arrogant myself, rather than listening to others, spouting my truths like all those flag bearers I claim to hate so much. I suppose I don't mind my own hypocrisy because, as far as I know, I hold my flag alone. The bartender never had the audacity to disagree with me, but that may simply be a demonstration of his skill in his work. He also had more coffee varieties than I've ever seen at a single vendor. I wonder who those individuals the bartender has such distaste for really are. I must say I do enjoy so many of the things that have changed in my absence. For someone who is so often criticized for being too serious, I felt like I was laughing the whole time. Being called a sycophant of all things. What? I absolutely bent my knee consistently when it was appropriate, when I was being judged. Perhaps giving my ear as I did was a sycophant's act, but my judgment has passed, and I have since bent my knee to no one. Flattery is not in my nature. Given who I was readily criticizing at that bar, that should have been immediately apparent. Constant opportunity for schadenfreude also helped, and attacking those who were not present to defend themselves, though I doubt Kiannis even would, which is why I was attacking him in the first place. He'll defend the Mandate and his pack until his dying breath, certainly, but his own identity? He seems ready to subsume that in any nearby shadow at any moment. Perhaps my few conversations with him have not revealed enough, but until that changes, I don't particularly care if I'm wrong. I also neglected to mention that if I did take any concerns to Awatu, if he acted like any past Grim leadership I knew, he would sensibly put me in charge of addressing those concerns, and that is so much less amusing than simply laughing at the struggles of others. Syreena got in a very accurate slice at me, but I'm not sure she noticed, or she did and was reluctant to give me the opportunity to shut my mouth, so pulled back the inquiry when it could have done the most damage. It is rather difficult for me to dig my own grave when I'm busy acting the wallflower, hm?
    1 like
  37. Azilrog stepped through a Death Gate to Archerus' sparring level. He dragged the unconscious form of Ghostslayer behind him. "SUNSONG!" He shouted out, his voice grating. Ghostslayer’s death grip was to his ice-like blades still sliding along behind him left frost in their wake. The tauren was not only unconscious, but also had a bloody Shoulder from the slide of his weapon. He was missing his full chest plate, his helmet was cracked in and falling off, almost the leaving a shoulder piece dragging along his form, and his thigh plates were gone. Spirits hovered around Ghostslayer like a moth to a flame. Sunsong answered the call, her brow furrowed at the sight before her. "Well that didn't take lomg," she said gruffly. "Azilrog, you have performed admirably. Put him in a cell and I will see to him." Azilrog nodded and took Ghostslayer to a cell as Sunsong followed close behind, locking the cell door once Azilrog had Ghostslayer situated. "I will see to him once he wakes. You are dismissed, Azilrog. Though you may want to keep an eye on that guild you reside in. There may be trouble. Stay out of it." Azilrog nodded. "I will maintain my efforts on the Broken Shore. Sanctuary has proven to be a breeding ground for naive rebels." He saluted and marched off. A spirit lingered close to the cell, curious if it could ride Ghostslayer. After all, he was an easy ride, one of the many tortured beings the Ebon Blade had slain. It would get it's vengeance through this death knight. The human's cold presence ended up right behind the large tauren. It could be seen for a brief moment, the skin sullen and the eyes red before Ghost turned and gripped the spirit. It screamed out in terror as the tauren absorbed it into its form, clinging to it like a cat suffocating its prey. The ice around the cell built like a winter wonderland, and the wound at the Tauren's back healed along with the wound on his head. The blood, however, was still there. He tore his helmet off and threw it to the ground, getting up on legs that were once again strong. Ghostslayer peered out of the cage with purple eyes. "You," Sunsong said to the tauren with an even voice. "Explain yourself. You have been telling people a story about being exiled." Ghostslayer seethed, looking at the cage around him, the bars icing over. He clopped back and forth his eyes, turning blue as he watched the other death knight like a cat behind bars. "It is not a lie. I was cast out and attacked for many years. Why are there words why have you not done worse like the Lich king would have?" Sunsong folded her arms. "Maybe we can still use a fool like you. Tell me your story. Who cast you out?" He watched her, flicking his ear and crouching down. His tail swished slowly. "Highlord Darkmoon. He cast me out for killing his daughter." He said simply. Watching Sunsong, he slid his fingers along he ice in his cage. "When I was free of the lich king. The spirits saw me as fresh meat I could not control myself." Sunsong furrowed her brow. "So another death knight saw fit to banish you for killing his own blood. I see. Well," she huffed, clearly irritated. "He is no longer here. I would welcome you back to the Ebon Blade." "Welcome I would appreciate but I have been oathed, and the oath may conflict with what you would have me do." He said simply. "Why is the silver hand hunting us?" Sunsong clicked her teeth. "They are not hunting us. A few paladins have a grudge regarding our mission to Light's Hope. That is all." He watched the other Tauren and slides his right shoulder pad off and his gauntlets, then the seat of his armor only wearing underpants now. "Grudges will be held. It is the way of things. What would you use me for?" "You are a death knight," Sunsong said flatly. "You will be 'used' to defeat the Legion, to the best of your ability. We do what the living cannot." He seemed to consider this. "I fight the legion anyways. And of the Paladins that wish to kill us?" He shifted, looking behind the tauren, his blue eyes turning to her as if reading her. "The paladins wish to bring us to justice. They are not so stupid as to want to kill us all." "Some of them are. We are scourge to them. I have fought my fair share of Zealots. I would think I would gain certain perks for this? A new set of armor and access to a rune forge? And perhaps a more steady supply of ghosts to feast upon? Souls that are used for us are not put towards the Legion." He came close to the bars. It was cold, but some of the ice cracked off and fell where he grips the bars. "Are we planning self defense or diplomacy with those that aim to kill us?" Sunsong raised an eyebrow to the Ghost Slayer, her arms still folded across her chest. "We have provided them with a leave offering, so that we might continue to harmoniously work together. That is none of your concern. What is your concern is the fight against the Legion, which we will see finished. In return for your allegiance, you will have access to the runeforge that will grant your blade greater power. The Acherus and all its reaources will be open to you." He scratched his back and looked over his shoulder at the blood caked there, then looked back to Sunsong. "Things have changed. Besides fighting the Legion what do you expect of my allegiance to the Ebon blade?" He inquired. "I will not harm an innocent and I will not be included in a petty war agains the alliance I will protect people I will not outright harm them unless it harms the legion." "I think you will find that there are no 'innocents' in this world," Sunsong practically growled. "But we have no intention of taking any aggression against anyone but the Legion." His blue eyes focus in on her. Clopping his hooves, he let go of the bars and crossed his arms. "Innocence is not being of the legion. There is a difference between us and the Legion. We have the freedom of choice to be better than we were made to be. " He stepped from the bars, eyeing the tauren, his tail swishing and his hooves sliding along the ice. "You will have my allegiance. But I will not violate my oath in doing so." "Fine," Sunsong huffed in resignation, opening the cell door. He watched Sunsong as the cell opened, clopping hooves to step out of it. "Good to be fighting again. Better than just surviving." "Stay out of trouble," Sunsong warned, pointing toward Ghost Slayer firmly. "We do not have time to go looking for rogue death knights. There is a war to be fought." He looked to the Tauren. "Trouble is how we learn." He says idly. "I do not make allegiances lightly." "Nor does the Ebon Blade. Now go. The Broken Shore requires assistance, and there are few who can provide the strength that our kind demonstrates." He nodded and headed up to the forge. First, to obtain replacement armor. Then to have his blades forged.
    1 like
  38. As promised, I'll make a signature for anyone who takes the screenshots!
    1 like
  39. ((This story originally written by the player Baern on the Sanctuary discord)) Zhanhao carried a fat sack of bok choy down the streets of Dalaran, winding slowly away from the wide streets of the Magus Commerce exchange and into the small residential streets that hugged the walls of the flying city. He'd picked up the vegetables at a premium, though one he happily paid, from a pandaren farmer who shipped his wares from the Valley of the Four Winds to Dalaran through expensive, powerful portals. He had more to offer, massive soy and humongous radishes and squat squash, but the bok choy would make for the perfect base tonight in Zhanhao's steaming ramen. He found his way to the Arcanist's Abode, a poorly named tower that contained barely any mages at all. Rebuilt after the Third War to an unexpected staggering height, it served chiefly as an inexpensive residence for merchants and traders that worked the exchange, and of course, enterprising old gardeners who managed shrubbery and flowers and herbs all across the city. Having spent most of his life a travelling trader and alchemist, Zhanhao's small caravan took on grand heights when Pandaria became the focus of the Horde and the Alliance. Travelers who could get from Krasrang to the Jade Forest to Four Winds to Kun'Lai, alchemists who could teach recipes using the unique fauna found in Pandaria, merchants who could introduce outlanders to the Cloud Serpent Riders, Tian monks, Shado-Pan wall watchers, and the fishermen of the Anglers they were all in very low supply and now in very high demand. Zhanhao had little trouble translating his skills into a hefty payday, but he saw almost none of it. His wife of many years had died only a few months prior to the commotion, and they had never started a family together. Pushing it off endlessly because they had so much life yet to live, and so much love for their days on the back of a mushan pulled wagon. But Zhanhao did have a family. He had doting parents, a brother with a bundle of kids all his own, a sister who had answered the call and was still an ascetic in the Tian Monastery. It was them he gave most of his newfound gold to, so that they could have the lives they'd always wanted without worry. But he didn't leave Pandaria empty handed. Most of the world was gripped with the new continent, but for a pandaren there was still most of the world to explore. Cities across Azeroth swung into lifelessness as the focus of their denizens swept south, and so finding a cheap apartment in Dalaran and buying outright with the remainder of his gold sounded a good idea for Zhanhao. It was also easy to find employment, as an alchemist and herbalist teaching those that remained behind in the floating city precisely what to do and how to grow herbs like Green Tea Leaf and Rain Poppy. Most pandaren plants were found to be quite robust, all told, and bringing them into the city was a lucrative way for the shaman to find employment. But seeding the various alchemists' gardens with them wasn't something that he wanted to spend all his time doing. Slowly, he started picking up employment as a gardener for the wealthy all across the city who wanted beautiful flowers rather than utilitarian herbal beds. But even as the world equalized again and the secrets of pandaria were no longer in short supply, there was still one trait that Zhanhao possessed, one skill that made an unassuming gardener in Dalaran unique. The magical elevator that took him to the forty-seventh floor was one of things he loved about this city in the clouds. Unlike in many other metropolii across Azeroth, a tall tower was not in high demand. The lifts had a frequent habit of failing and being unable to transport anyone until a special arcane mage arrived to fix the enchantments governing the structure. It was on these days that Zhanhao did not love them. But when they worked, being whisked up to his apartment was a comfort to be cherished. The shaman was greeted by half a dozen elementals, two earth, two water, two air, who jumped and frolicked at his shins. They were small, no more than a few inches high, but something about their energy always put a smile on his face. He handed the earth elementals the sack while the water dove into his feet, making them sopping wet, in the hopes to clean off a few flecks of dirt and mud. As the earth pair started hefting the sack to the counter to Zhanhao's right, the wind pair flew up and pulled out one bok choy each, floating it slowly over and plopping them on a bare section of counter, impatiently. Luckily, the lightened load was easier for their brethren to carry, and they stopped up a rickety wooden ramp to get the sack on the counter as well. Unfortunately, none of the elementals could be called "thoughtful" and as they threw the emptying back on top of the small pile of vegetables already removed, it just rolled off them and back onto the floor, spilling out the entirety of their contents for good measure. One of the earthen climbed the pile and began to wave its arms frantically at the pair of air elementals, but neither seemed very willing to accept responsibility. Their competitive nature, however, kicked in when the second of the earthen dropped back to the floor and began picking up bok choy and running it up the ramp. Not to be outdone, the hovering elementals swooped in and began carrying their own, adding it to the pile they'd already started. When they were finished, all four elementals fought over the sack, trying to claim the honor of clearing the final piece of things, but the shaman plucked it from them and placed it on top of the hapless mound of vegetables he'd had. Dutifully, the water elementals slid up the ramp and began washing the food, depositing it finally into the basin on the far side of the counter. Zhanhao's apartment was narrow, but long, ending in one great, wide window that stretched from floor to ceiling, wall to wall. Its curtains were drawn, though the dark green glow of fel peaked out at every available opportunity. Before Dalaran's teleportation, he'd had a beautiful view of the ocean. Now, he had a view of the fel beam above the Tomb of Sargeras. His plump pandaren bed filled the space just under the curtain, stretching from the wall on the left to the kitchen counter on the right, itself full of all kinds of vegetables, fruit and grain that made for large meals. That counter ran the length of the room with a basin for water dividing it in half. On one side, Zhanhao seemed to keep things neat, orderly, organized, a storage space for the fresh food he brought in but wasn't prepared to eat or cook immediately. On the other, chaos rained, as the ramp that allowed his elementals to access the counter denoted that side to be their mischievous domain. In fairness, the floors were also a mess. One corner seemed dedicated just to gardening supplies, including a wet smock to work in, wet trowels and shovels and tools, and two and a half bags of soil lazily propped up on one wall. It was an odd layout for an apartment, and on the wall across from the counter, two clear doors stood as well. Most of the room was dominated by the bed at the end, but it didn't seem to belong, as if cramped in there rather than in a space all its own. After he'd cleaned himself off and cleared himself of his traveling clothes, Zhanhao stepped into the back room, careful to close the door off to any six inch intruders. What was clearly meant to be a bedroom had no bed in sight, almost no furniture at all, in fact. A single cylindrical block of jade with a fluffy pillow atop it was the only thing coming close, right in the center. To the right, another curtained window, to the left a wall with a few decorative scrolls hanging. But the main feature was across from the door as one entered. Three shelves, as wide as the wall, with tall glass boxes end to end standing on all three. They seemed to be made of discrete panels, glass framed with wood, that were nestled together into containers, maybe a foot and a half tall each. But the containers weren't the important part. Twenty three out of thirty six had a plant inside, a small flower with golden petals lilting softly to one side. Some of the rest had seedlings or buds yet to flower, though others were empty. Uniquely, one container held snow covered soil with soft, yellow grass shooting forth, so tall as to bend at the top of the container. Four totems glowing with energy lay on the floor under the shelves, one for each element. As Zhanhao takes his place atop the Jade block, folding his legs and closing his eyes, he connects to the flagging totems, slowly opening the flow of power between himself and them. It's the totems that govern the plants inside the containers, fire dictating the artificial sunlight hitting their leaves, water keeping them hydrated, earth making sure they have the proper nutrients, and air managing the atmosphere inside each of them. Zhanhao had always thought of himself as a strong shaman, able to conjure spells at their most powerful, the hottest fire, heaviest earth, quickest lightning. But the magic that he was using now wasn't about monumental exertions. It was about precision. The importance of totems in shamanistic magic was an interesting phenomanon, as Zhanhao learned that orcs, trolls, tauren and pandaren all seemed to learn the same process for decentralizing their power into totems. And while certain cultures had focused on certain uses of totems, Zhanhao had stubbornly refused to learn from them for months after moving to Dalaran. He knew his goal was to cultivate Golden Lotus plants outside of Pandaren soil, but however he tried to make the magic work, the plants withered and died before he was able to reach them. It was only after consulting with tauren shaman on the kind of magic that allowed their farmers to irrigate so effectively that the final piece of the puzzle fell into place and he was able to grow the plants in his home. By pumping huge amounts of energy into his totems, but restrict the way it flowed to a slow trickle, he was able to charge totems that lasted for hours, even days, maintaining the conditions needed for the flower to bloom. Now, the spell was routine, and by combining it with the techniques he'd learned in his training as a monk, almost a subconscious effort. Four hours blinked by effortlessly for the old shaman, only roused by his rumbling stomach. Rising from his position and sore to have remained still for so long, he fixed the pillow to make it center on the block again. His stomach rumbled a second time, but he ignored it, choosing instead to regard the lotus containers with sad eyes. He'd worked so hard, spent so long waiting for one them to bloom, that picking the petals from the flower and grinding them into alchemical powder or dropping them into boiling concoctions almost felt like slaying his own children. It took months for a lotus to bloom, daily adjustments in temperature, lighting, soil, and water. Selling one brought in thousands of gold, paid for his food, and his home, and his trips to his brother's, and medicine for his parents, but somehow the cost never seemed high enough. He broke a rule of his, placing three fingers on the glass, caressing it. The slightest changes could cause a flower to wilt overnight if he wasn't careful, a problem that he'd discovered early. This particular plant would be sold in less than a week, anyway. He'd hug it, if he could. Tell it that some child somewhere needs the magic it carried to cure them of a deathly ill. But he removed his fingers, nonetheless, hoping that he hadn't ruined it with his few moments of tender sadness. It was always so strangely painful giving up one of his flowers. Still, there was no better task that took his mind off it than cooking, and his stomach rumbled a third time just to remind him of that. Bok choy and onions and garlic and ginger and ramen awaited him, so he let out a soft sigh, shook the thought from his head and returned to a kitchen he'd hoped wasn't a mess thanks to rambunctious elementals.
    1 like
  40. Signature update. Juli finally moved out of the garrison and into Dalaran! Oh and I gave Xara her old pose back, much better.
    1 like
  41. A sketch of Tirien's I colored -- Vionora and Tirien, the night before she died.
    1 like
  42. Cleaned up sketch of Juli looking pensive, mostly because I just wanted to practice a profile shot.
    1 like
  43. 5.8.16 What the world has taught me today….. It’s perfectly acceptable for a BT bully to humiliate and injure a Grim Forsaken for NO REASON AT ALL. Nobody will bat an eye. Nobody will get upset. Nobody will call for war. But If that Grim Forsaken inflicts the same injury on a pretty BT elf that everyone likes, then everyone gets all in an uproar and calls for bloodshed and war. What a load of kodo dung! Was I supposed to just take it and do nothing? Should I just let Cobrak and others like him do whatever they want to me and not retaliate? Did he really think that? Screw him. Screw them all. With felfire. Lilly suggested I stay low until this blows over. Leyu’jin once told me not to lie or hide from my actions when I know I’m right. I’m not going to hide from them. If they want to hate me for something Cobrak started, that’s their blindness. If they want to do more than that, well, I’m not completely stupid when it comes to precautions and revenge. I have a feeling some will want the blood to be flowing as readily as drinks at Cantina tonight.
    1 like

About us

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.

Useful Links

Posting new RP? Consider cross posting to our sister site, The Ravenholdt Sanctum.

Official WoW Forums for Ravenholdt/Twisting Nether Server

 

Horde Guild Links

Borrowed Time

The Grim

Sanctuary