Archive for December, 2006

Another year, another blog entry

Friday, December 29th, 2006

Something came as a shock to me over the past couple of weeks…

…not everybody likes World of Warcraft !

I know ! It’s hard to get my head around but it turns out that (so-called) normal (or regular, as we Americans say) readers of this blog have not enjoyed hearing tales of derring-do with melted candles and Fleshrippers. So, I may add a postscript of how I’m doing so far (I’m in Dun Morogh trying to get past some level 25 Addled Lepers, seeing as you asked) and switch back to more mundane posts.

Christmas has been and gone. The BBC had an article on their news website at (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/6204511.stm) explaining that throughout England, it’s illegal to eat a mince pie on December 25th. So, for the past *cough* years, I have been a fugitive from the English law enforcement system. I’m sure there’s a sketch in the making right there.

[INT: Suburban home. Night. Christmas decorations hung everywhere. Festive music playing in the background.
People are standing in groups chatting to each other. All wearing smart casual attire. Some wearing party hats, some wearing reindeer antler headbands.
The host and hostess are moving between the groups offering drinks and mince pies. ]

Switch to

[EXT: Path leading to home. It’s been snowing. A number of footsteps can be heard crunching in the snow. We see the home from a first-person perspective]

Switch to

[INT: Same home. Repeat of scene]

Switch to

[EXT: Closer view of home. Sounds of party coming from inside]

Switch to

[INT: Party is in full swing. The host taps his glass to get everyone’s attention]

 HOST: Thanks everyone for coming to our little Christmas soiree. I hope you’re all enjoying yourselves.
  Remember there’s plenty of drinks and nibbles if anyone wants them. We’re going to be playing some party games later
  but, in the meantime, eat drink and be merry.

[The party buzz resumes. There is a knock at the door. The chatter dies down and the host looks nervously at his wife. He edges to the door.
He looks through the spy hole.]

Switch to

[EXT: Fish-eye first-person view of man dressed as Father Christmas. It’s obvious he’s a police officer, he’s wearing his flat cap underneath his Santa hat.
Behind is a group of large “elves”, again obviously officers dressed up]

Switch to

[INT: The host turns quickly from the door]

 HOST: It’s a raid !

[There is a lot of movement as the party guests start to panic. Some screams. The hostess runs to each group of guests and scoops the mince pies off their
plates into a plastic bag. Someone else is following her around with a tray of jam tarts and chocolate brownies]

[There is another loud knock on the door and a voice from outside]

 VOICE: Open up it’s the police !

 HOST: Just a moment ! [Looks towards his wife who nods to show that everything has been collected up]

[The host opens the door and it’s pushed open from outside and in enters large number of “elves” run in each holding truncheons with green tinsel
wrapped around them in a spiral pattern]

[The party scene has changed slightly. The guests are obviously nervous trying not to catch the eye of the “elves”]

[“Father Christmas” starts pacing around the room inspecting people’s plates and looking behind picture frames]

 HOST: Can I help you ?

 FATHER CHRISTMAS: Yes you can, sir. I have reason to believe that there’s been illegal activity on these premises.

 HOST: [Flicks his eyes towards his wife and then back to “Father Christmas”] I…I…I don’t know what you mean.

 FATHER CHRISTMAS: [Still pacing the room] We’ve had reports that you’ve been eating [turns to stare the host directly in the face ] mince pies !
  On Christmas Day !

[Guests gasp]

 HOST: [Faking horror] No ! We’d never do something like that ! This is a respectable neighbourhood !

 FATHER CHRISTMAS: [sniffing the air] Come on now, sir. You can’t fool me. I know what you suburban types are like. You pretend that you are
  all normal on the outside. A little wave to the neighbours as you get the shopping out of the car. Mowing the lawn on a Sunday morning.
  It’s all just a facade. Behind closed doors, you’re just depraved individuals who can’t get enough of that dried fruit and spices.

 HOST: No ! That’s not true !

[“Father Christmas” goes into the kitchen]

Switch to

[INT: Kitchen. Large enough to hold a few party guests. There is a selection of beers and wines on one work surface. On another is a spread of traditional
party fare. One plate is conspicuously empty]

[“Father Christmas” looks at the plate and picks up a crumb. He inspects it, crumbling it between his finger and thumb and then putting the powder on his
tongue]
[He smacks his lips]

 FATHER CHRISTMAS: Shortcrust pastry ! This gets better and better for you. Doesn’t it, sir ?

[An elf has been looking through the kitchen cupboards and calls to “Father Christmas”]

 ELF: Sarge ! You might want to take a look at this !

[“Father Christmas” turns around and looks into the cupboard that the elf has open. He pulls a jar from a shelf.]

Switch to

[INT: Kitchen. A view of the jar. There is a crooked hand-printed label pasted over the original label. It reads “Branston Pickle”]

[“Father Christmas” peels the label to reveal the original which reads “Mincemeat”]
[Kitchen party guests gasp] 

 FATHER CHRISTMAS: Well, well, well ! What’s this ?

 HOST:  I’ve never seen that before in my life ! It’s not mine ! [ He looks towards an elderly female party guest ] It’s her’s !
  She asked me to look after it for a while !

[ Female guest looks shocked and disgusted at the attempt to blame her ]

[“Father Christmas” opens the top and sniffs. He recognises the smell. He takes his little finger and dips it into the jar, tasting the contents.]

 FATHER CHRISTMAS: Robertsons, if I’m not mistaken ! Probably fetch…what ? £1.59 on the open market ? [Turns to elf] We’ve got a right little
   baker here, Wilkins, wouldn’t you say ?

 WILKINS: Yes, sarge !

 FATHER CHRISTMAS: Take ‘im away ! I know someone that’s going to be spending a long time at her Majesty’s pleasure !

[Wilkins cuffs the host and the host hangs his head in shame as he’s walked out of the house in front of all his guests]

 FATHER CHRISTMAS: [ to the other guests ] You people never learn ! You’re all perverts !

[“Father Christmas” walks out]
[Short pause]
[“Father Christmas” walks back in]

 FATHER CHRISTMAS: [ to the other guests ] Oh ! Merry Christmas !

[Fade to black]

Tetanus, Gryphons and Rabid Budgies

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

OK people, let me take a moment to warn you of the dangers of that Rusty Mechanical Harvester Golem that you have in the corner of your garage. Have you stopped to think that this device might be swarming with tetanus bacteria at all ?

Nope, neither did I until I found that if you fight one in the middle of a field, it will give you tetanus without so much as a “Please may I…?”.

The effects are minor and they wear off after about 20 minutes so I’m not sure what the point of it is.

I’m still the warlock and I’ve broken into a double digit level ( 11 ). This brings on a whole heap of new trouble to deal with. I can now summon a void walker which is a purple cloud with a deep voice who seems to complain every time I summon him. He’s useful to send into battle first while I sit on the sidelines and project firebolts at people. He’s not as much fun as Zilnip. The girls and I have both grown attached to Zilnip since we first met him and he’s always good for a laugh. I keep forgetting to take him off aggressive so I’ve managed to lose a number of fights with Defias bandits.

Most of my contact with the bandits has been in the middle of farms for some reason. They must like pumpkins.

I had an interesting series of quests involving two feuding farm families. The little brat of a son from one family had stolen the necklace of the mother from the other family. The lying toad had the gall to deny that he’d done it and told me that he’d seen a Kobold with it. Yes, that’s it, blame the Kobolds again.

I also had to pass love letters between Romeo-and-Juliet-a-like. The denoument of that quest was that I had to collect kelp for an apothecary to create an invisibility potion so that Juliet could go and visit Romeo. I’m staying clear of that farm when her dad finds out she’s expecting the enemy’s child. They should write a play about those two feuding families.

In amongst that, the aunt of the Capulets wanted me to kill a pig. This wasn’t any old pig. She has a Porcine Entourage. If you attack her, her bodyguards lay into you. Even Zilnip couldn’t get me out of that one. Luckily, and this is the wonderous beauty of this game, a couple of other players stuck around until I’d killed the pig and got all the Defias bandanas that I needed.

So, back to Stormwind I went and I got my Void Walker ( Grimmon ). He’s not very talkative and, like I said before, he moans a lot. I might call him Marvin.

Being a higher level allows me to explore West of Goldshire. Previously, I got torn to shreds by the Fleshripper ( read Rabid Budgie ) but now they ignore me unless I stray off the path. However, they seem to delight in attacking me once I try to cross fields. Again, I’ve spent a lot of time dead.

Sentinel Hill is a small outpost in the same region but this one has a Gryphon stop. The Gryphons will fly you to and from Stormwind City for 99 copper pieces.

It’s a bit steep. In my day you could get a Gryphon ride into town, a good meal and a drink and still have change for a new suit of armour out of change from a sixpence.

I broke my trousers

Saturday, December 9th, 2006

I didn’t think it was possible but, according to my display, my trousers are broken. So, it’s off to Gap in Stormwind City. I might pick up a hoodie while I’m there.

Do I have “Kill Me” tatooed on my forehead or something ?

Saturday, December 9th, 2006

I think that death is Nature’s way of reminding me that you shouldn’t go into regions of the realm where all the animals are at a level 7 points higher than you, gang up in packs and you have an imp that falls over at the slightest touch. Prowlers, Tarantulas, Murlocs. All of them have some sort of grudge against me.
Yesterday’s lesson was that you don’t buy weapons that you’re not rated to use otherwise the vendor will buy them back at a much lower price than before.

I was the Warrior Elf and was happily collecting money ( in between getting killed by the monkey bears ) so I thought I’d get a better weapon. A nice bow would do me. So, I bought a bow and a couple of quivers of rough arrows. It turns out that I need to be at a better level of something ( not sure what yet but my character level certainly meets the requirements ) before I can use it. The crook of a merchant bought back the bow at about 25% of the original price and now nobody wants to buy my arrows back. I might have to drop them somewhere.

My quests consisted of filling bottles in one pool and taking them back to someone. I have one quest to find someone in the monkey bear village. I got to him and got attacked by a monkey bear while listening to the corpse I was supposed to find ( words from beyond the grave, obviously ). I beat the monkey bear up and he ran away before he could die so I thought I’d have enough time to listen to the corpse. Not so, I turned my back on the monkey bear and he beat me to death again. Why can’t we just get along.

Today, I was the warlock again. Zilnip behaved himself apart from one little moment where I left him on aggressive again and he picked a fight with a wolf.

My quest at the moment is to get armbands from Riverpaw Runts. This one is tiring because I forgot to accept the quest before I ran for 100 miles east to find that I didn’t have the quest in my quest book and so I needed to run 100 miles west to talk to the soldier again and then 100 miles back again.

I need to find the “Scroll of Running Very Fast” or the “Rune of Owning a Porsche” otherwise I’m going to expire on the path.

WoW day 4

Friday, December 8th, 2006

My other two realms are full again so I’m still the warlock.

Now the situation is reversed. People are throwing money at me left, right and centre so I’m rich beyond the dreams of avarice ( well I have 8 silver and 60 copper coins ) but now nobody wants to train me.

I spoke to Mark yesterday and he gave me hints about what to expect and told me to go to Stormwind City to see my warlock trainer there. She was bloody useless. I got some spell that was so pointless that I kept it in my spell book and I can’t remember what it is. It certainly doesn’t help me when I’m being torn to shreds by the Fleshripper even though I stayed on the path near the Jensen Stead. As usual, my corpse was a few miles from the graveyard so I floated ethereally back towards it to find that the stupid bird was hovering over me like a vulture. As you can guess, I resurrected right into the claws of death. This is getting monotonous. I tried again as the game allows you to resurrect within range of your corpse. Wonderful, I thought. I’ll run as fast as I can back to what looks like the path that’ll keep me safe.

Wrong !

The bird has wings. It can fly. It can chase me faster than I can run. It can bloody kill me again !

It’s all nice and peaceful in Elwynn Forest with bunnies and things. Music floats from the fayre and everything is right with the world. As soon as you get to the edge of the forest, the music distorts into minor chords and the scenery changes. You’d think that would be a clue enough to go no further. But, full of bravado from getting a Rank 2 shadow bolt ( oh yes ! ) I continued on. Big mistake. The imp formerly known as Zilnip ( I call him that because he died at the first sign of trouble ) couldn’t help me at all. I’m going back to the bunnies.

Stormwind City was an experience. It’s a huge shopping mall which emulates real life. It contains lots of shops that I never want to go into and the ones that I do, it contains things I can’t afford.

So, answer me this, if everything I want or need costs me lots of silver and gold coins, how to I get on quests to earn that kind of moolah particularly ones that don’t involve me killing Kobolds at all ? I’ve had it up to here with Kobolds. They’re just doing a job like the rest of us, why do I have to kill them ?

Stormwind City has a Cheese Shop. They missed a fantastic opportunity to have a bazouki playing in the background.

WoW day 3

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

So now I’m a warlock. My other realms were full so that precipitated another character.

I know level 6 is nothing to brag about but I’m obviously getting to levels faster than before.

What’s helped me is that I have a little friend called Zilnip or Zinlip or Ziploc or something. He’s an imp.

He’s a bloody trouble maker. I think I left him on “Aggressive” so now he’s starting fights that I can’t finish.

We’re a tag team with fire bolts so I can sent him off into the distance to kick someone first while I’m charging up the first salvo. Sometimes it works and we kill people really quickly. Other times, he seems to get bored so while we’re attacking two people at the same time, he goes off and invites another person to the party.

So, today, I have mostly been a corpse.

What is Darnass reputation and, more importantly, does it give me enough proficiency to wear the ragged cloak ?

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

The one benefit out of playing Wow is that it’s given me no end of material.

Last night was much better. I’m now a warrior night elf with purple hair and glowing eyes. This change of appearance was mainly due to the WoW login screen telling me that my other world was full and I was 483 in the queue. More worryingly, my place in the queue was getting higher and higher, i.e. people were pushing in front of me. Before I had the chance to get into the 300s, the server disconnected me so I tried another realm.

This time I’m in a forest. My quests have been to kill pigs and more pigs. Sometimes I get to kill cats but mostly pigs. I found that there are little imps that run around. You can kill them too but there’s not many of them to find. They carry money though so it’s always useful to rob them once they are dead. There’s something a little immoral about this game.

I took a quest to find someone’s friend in a cave with a few spiders. Problem is, the spiders are about as large as a kitchen table. I abandoned that quest as I think if someone was stupid enough to go into a cave with spiders as big as that, they don’t deserve rescuing.

When I first started killing the spiders, I only had a little sword ( cue size jokes ) which meant it took a long time to achieve the kill. When they died, they rolled over and I could take eyes and sticky ichor which, for some reason, the vendors will pay more for than weapons, clothes and food. There wasn’t anything else I could take from these arachnids. However, I took a quest for some guy standing outside of the village hall who wanted some venom sacs. Conveniently, all spiders after that seemed to have venom sacs that I could take as well. Why ? Why can’t I pick up venom sacs *before* my quest and serendipitously present them to the guy when he asks ?

Guy: Do you want to risk life and limb going into a dark cave with venemous spiders ?

Me: No need ! [ Reaches into bag ] I’ve got some venom sacs right here.

Guy: Cheers mate, I owe you a pint.

My Darnass reputation goes up by 300 million and everyone walks away safe and sound ( apart from the friend of the other quest setter who I abandoned previously ).

Silver coins give me the opportunity to speak to my warrior trainer and get more skills. So far, I can charge in battle 1 point higher than before and now, wait for it, I can shout in the middle of a melee. But, I now have a bigger sword than before and it looks like it’s a winner. My last one nearly broke.
This new world is interesting. I got a quest to find an emerald in a village that has been taken over by monkey bears. Every other village, if I stay on the paths, has been pretty safe but these monkey bears attack on sight with bigger sticks than mine so I might abandon that quest until I get an even bigger sword.

I *do* like the 20-foot high walking purple bush that stomps around the forest making the ground shake.

My current quest ( now that I have a bigger sword ) is to pick up a spider egg from the cave. I got to the nest, opened the egg and got an icon to pick it up so I could take it back. Running as fast as I could, I got back to the guy who wanted it and went to present it to him only to find that the number of eggs I’d collected was 0/1. Uh ? I clicked on everything I needed to, why didn’t I pick it up ??? So, now I’m a corpse in the cave having run all the way back and been attacked by a spider tag-team. Obviously my spirit was in the furthest graveyard away still so I’m in the process of floating slowly back to my decaying body to pick up the quest again.

Hope my sword doesn’t break.

Bloody World of Warcraft !

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

What’s the point of me getting a free 10-day trial of WoW if they’re going to take the servers down for 12 hours ? Guess I’ll just have to play Party Poker at work instead then.

My quests so far have been to kill all the snivelling little Kobold things. That and read a letter. I can’t get training from anyone until I’ve reached level 5 and now a blacksmith has stolen all my copper to repair my stick that I was using to kill all the snivelling little Kobold things.

I went for my first quest, the soldier said: Kill the Kobolds
I did that and went back. He said: Kill more Kobolds.

Hang on a minute ! Couldn’t you have told me that when I first went out ? Then I wouldn’t have had to make two trips.

So I did that and he gave me a pair of boots that I didn’t have space in my bag for because I’d filled it with melted candles that I’d picked up from all the Kobolds.

I’m a Mage.
I’m in a realm beginning with K ( Korathzi ? ) but I think I’m just naming Klingons at random

It’s supposedly a very big place. Northshire Abbey, Goldshire, Faerdoon Mine, some other places I can’t spell either. I wasn’t really paying attention when they taught Middle Earth at school.

All I know is that I’m asleep in the middle of nowhere with a newly repaired stick that cost me 98 pieces of copper and the coyotes kill me every time I go off the path, I got chased by a bear that wouldn’t die, my corpse is always the furthest away from the graveyard they put me in.

I can’t afford anything the vendors sell. I have more melted candles than I know what to do with.

For most of the things in my inventory, I don’t have the right proficiency level. Why do I need to be at a proficiency level to wear a ragged cloak ?

It takes me weeks to run between towns. I tried jumping but that didn’t help.

I’ve run out of apples and water. I have some yellow cheese stuff. Not sure what that does but I have to sit down with it.

I’ve been reliably informed by Dug ( who I’ve just pestered with my tales of woe ) that I can sell my melted candles. However, I’ll have to kill some Kobolds now that I worked out how to delete things from my inventory and don’t have the melted candles anymore.

He told me that I’d get better at killing things. Interesting. How do I do that if I broke my stick on a bear ?

I have a fireball spell that takes days to recharge while, in between, the Kobold is beating the brown stuff out of me.

Sigh. Whatever happened to “You are in a forest. There are paths to the N, S and E. What do you want to do ?”

The annoying thing is that I can see myself paying $14.99 a month for this.