Linedan is my main–he always has been and barring catastrophe, he always will be. But my “Alliance main,” the dwarf hunter Beltar Forgebreaker, is probably my most fun character to roleplay.
On the surface, he looks like your typical fantasy dwarf…irascible, sarcastic, a bit on the greedy side, inordinately in love with his guns. But dig deeper and you’ll find that Beltar’s not exactly a stout-hearted dwarven hero in the Gimli mode. For over a hundred years, he’s wandered the Eastern Kingdoms as a gun for hire, on both sides of the law (sometimes simultaneously), not settling in any one place for long. He’s been a mercenary, an assassin, a guard, a hitman, a bodyguard, and more. His idea of a fair fight has always been one where he shoots his opponent in the head without ever being seen. And now, late in his life, he’s found his calling as an adventurer and general ne’er-do-well with the Wildfire Riders.
But even anti-heroes have to start somewhere. And in a fashion typical of the accidental nature of his wanderings, Beltar’s first steps on his wandering path didn’t happen the way you’d envision they might.
“Redemption” was a story that I wrote in late 2005, a few months after Beltar’s creation in August. I don’t remember how this backstory came to me, really It just popped into my head and I had to take some time out and write it right now dammit…so I did. I always knew Beltar was oldish, and a wanderer, but until this story body-checked me out of nowhere, I had no clue as to what started him on his lifelong odyssey of the gun.
It’s below a cut, because it’s hella long–4400 words. In case you haven’t noticed, I do tend to run on a bit.
I hope you enjoy it.
Well, she’s my fourth level 80, and she’s been getting a big chunk of playtime lately, so it’s time to introduce the “lady” that’s displaced a few of my older alts…my death knight, Moktor.
- Full name: Moktor
- Created: November 2008
- Level/race/class: Level 80 orc death knight
- Spec: Blood (53/2/16)
- Age: 21 (sort of)
If you follow the Blizzard explanation of death knights, they’re born of heroes of the Light that were turned to the Scourge by Arthas after they fell in battle. Some people roleplay that their death knights actually volunteered (or were coerced) into taking the job.
Moktor is the proof that any rule has an exception.
Moktor, y’see, was nothing more than an Orgrimmar street thug. Orphaned in the interment camps (I think I’ve got the timeline right on this), she lost her entire family and ended up falling through the cracks of the nascent post-demonic orcish society. She ended up scraping out a bare existence in begging and theft, first in the camps and later on the streets in Orgrimmar, lean, hungry, and tough as raptor leather.
As she got older, she fell in with a troll rogue named Dabashi and his small pack of teenage urchins, where she began to learn the fundamentals of roguing…to a point. She never was good at the subtle part of things. Strong, wiry, and always willing to commit violence, she was the headsmasher of her crew, and when Dabashi fell under a Grunt’s axe, she became its leader as well at the tender age of 15.
To avoid Dabashi’s fate, a few years later she “went legit” and fell in with the Black Hand, and headed out into the world. She’d just begun to eke out a living as a free agent when…Scourge Happened. To be precise, Arthas’ latest plague that his human agents unleashed on the settlements of Azeroth and Outland. Back in Orgrimmar, still hungry and broke after an ill-fated expedition into the Stonetalon Mountains, she slipped into the inn and stole some food, including some bread made with the plagued grain. And thus, Moktor became one of Orgrimmar’s first zombies.
For 99% of the people turned by the plague, the story would end there. But Moktor, through whatever happenstance, retained a modicum of her former intellect and skills. She hid. She struck in ambush and kept herself fed. And she managed to “live” quite well. In doing so, she attracted attention. The Cult of the Damned had agents in major cities, and through magical means, they took notice of this particularly hardy and effective zombie surviving in the midst of the chaos.
So just before Putress’ cure was deployed world-wide, Cult of the Damned necromancers cornered and killed zombie-Moktor, removing her soul as they did so and taking it with them back to Acherus. Her orcish body was destroyed, so they found another one–not exactly the same as her old one, this one was slightly taller, more muscular, not nearly as lean and half-starved. Her soul and consciousness was implanted into the necromantically-animated body, and thus was born Moktor Mark II. She was put through the battery of gruesome and near-fatal tests to become one of Arthas’ chosen, a death knight, and as she had always done, she survived through sheer toughness.
Physically, there is no possible way that you can’t tell Moktor is a death knight. She’s fishbelly green-white all over, with lank, dirty, stringy shoulder-length purplish-black hair. Her pale skin is stretched a little too tight across her cheekbones, her fangs are yellow and nasty, and her eyes glow with the blue light of the undead. She has several large scars across her torso (the wounds that killed this body’s previous owner), all usually covered by clothing or armor. Her voice is harsh and creaky and has that slightly off-putting timbre that many death knights have, and oddly enough, even though she’s speaking Orcish, she has distinct trollish overtones in her cadence and word choice–one of Dabashi’s legacies to her.
The original Moktor was my attempt at playing a rogue. Despite the fact that I am, in general, a physical DPS-loving guy (as witnessed by my alt list), rogue is the one class I never have been able to “get.” Moktor was no exception. I had plans to take her combat maces as just a brutish, face-smashing thug with a little bit of stealth. Instead, she never made it past level 26 and eventually got deleted several months before Lich King came out.
My first attempt at a DK was actually a gnome with his own backstory (a nerdy scientist of Gnomeregan who fell in with the Cult of the Damned, was found doing necromantic research, killed by the Alliance authorities, and raised by Arthas as a very reluctant nerdy death knight). I just couldn’t make it work in my head, so the gnome got deleted…and then I remembered Moktor. The class didn’t work for me, but I liked the character concept. Plus, female orcs are very rare on Feathermoon, not to mention first-rate booty-shaking badass in combat (their fighting animations are among the best of any race IMO). And then the whole story just clicked together–instead of a mighty and tragic fallen hero, here’s an amoral no-name thug from the streets…who’s just become an amoral, no-name, much more powerful thug. It was perfect. It took that whole “woe is me, what have I become” thing and stood it on its head.
See, Moktor is the least angsty death nugget you’ll ever find. While fallen paladins and turned blood knights curse their condition and struggle to deal with who and what they are in a world that hates them…Moktor has never been happier, because everybody (she thinks) always hated her anyway, so why not turn it up to eleven? She loves being a death knight now that she’s free from Arthas’ thrall. People are scared of her? Cool, maybe they’ll do what she tells them. You want to pay her to kill things? She grins and says, “where do I sign up?” Forget hiding in corners cutting purses and scrounging for garbage…she’s running around in heavy armor, with a huge-ass mace, her own deathcharger, the power to command frost and disease and blood…what’s not to like? If ever there was a character whose personal motto was truly oderint dum metuant–“let them hate, as long as they fear”–it’s Moktor.
So even though she’s a total screaming bitch with no morals, Moktor may well be my most “well-adjusted” character in some ways. She’s comfortable in her own slightly-rotten skin. She totally accepts who and what she is.
On the other hand, this makes her hard to roleplay, which stunts her development from “idea” to “character.” I’m shy, and it’s hard enough for me to roleplay my basically-decent characters like Linedan and Illithanis. Beltar has his moments where he crosses the line toward darkness, but in general, he’s still not a bad dude. Moktor, on the other hand, doesn’t have many redeeming qualities besides being good at killing bad guys. I find it very difficult to let go and play a character with a negative personality, someone who’s bossy or manipulative or worse, a loner who doesn’t feel herself bound by any law or moral code at all–not even loyalty or friendship. So because of this, I haven’t taken many chances to roleplay my little fresh level 80 thug a whole lot, and so her concept is not yet fully fleshed out.
Hopefully I can loosen myself up and work on RPing her a bit, because I think it would be an interesting experience.
It’s time for another installment of “Dramatis Personae,” where I introduce my various characters that I occasionally mention here on Panzercow. Today, meet my blood elf hunter Illithanis.
- Full name: Illithanis Jadehawk
- Created: November 2007
- Level/race/class: Level 76 blood elf hunter
- Spec: Beastmastery (currently 53/14/0)
- Age: 119 (human equivalent 20)
“Illy,” as I call her (and she does not call herself), grew up in Quel’thalas, where her family, the Jadehawks, had considerable land and holdings south of Silvermoon in what is currently the central portion of Eversong Woods, on the western edge of the Dead Scar. Many generations of Jadehawks before Illithanis served proudly as Farstriders, the ranger corps of the quel’dorei, dating back three thousand years to the Troll Wars. Skill with bow and sword, and a great affinity with taming and training winged animals such as dragonhawks, ran in the family.
All that changed when Arthas showed up seven years ago and led his assault on the Sunwell. Illithanis and her fraternal-twin brother Althoris were sent to Sunstrider Isle in a last-ditch effort to preserve the family line–both were very indignant at this fact, as they wished to fight the Scourge. In the end, they were two of the few survivors of the quel’dorei, renamed the sin’dorei–blood elves. (Miraculously, both Illithanis’ parents also survived, though their landholdings were all but destroyed and the elder Jadehawks were forced to abandon the rest, and now live inside the rebuilt city of Silvermoon in moderate circumstances.)
Illithanis attempted to follow in her family tradition and join the Farstriders. But with the ascension of the Blood Knights and the Magisters, the Farstriders found themselves greatly diminished in power, prestige, and size. In addition, Illithanis’ rather negative opinions of Lor’themar Theron and the post-Kael’thas administration of Quel’thalas rendered her politically “unfit” for service. She became the first Jadehawk in three thousand years not to serve Silvermoon as a Farstrider, and made her own way out into the world as a free agent. Her brother Althoris, on the other hand, became an eager young Blood Knight.
Physically, Illy is fairly unexceptional; attractive, but not memorably beautiful, with regular features, something of a long face, pointy chin, and thinner lips than she’d like. She’s of a normal blood elven build and height, perhaps a bit more athletic than a caster-type but by no means muscular (“wiry” would be a good word). She has jet-black hair of just over shoulder-length, held back of her ears with a jade-encrusted clasp. She’s got the complexion of someone who spends a lot of time outdoors. She hardly ever wears makeup, and her only jewelry besides her hairband, rings, and trinkets is a small jade hawk earring in her right ear. That doesn’t mean she’s slovenly; far from it, she bathes as regularly as she can, and her clothing and equipment are always repaired and as neat as she can possibly keep them.
I’m still working on Illy’s personality. Some things I know about her, and some things she’s steadfastly refused to reveal. I know she’s a generally decent sort, especially for a blood elf (which fits in with what lore says about Farstriders in general). She can be arrogant and doesn’t suffer fools well. She despises what she sees as the lazy, indolent, corrupt culture of the “elite” in Silvermoon and fumes at what’s been done to her beloved Farstriders, especially by the Blood Knights–and yet, up until patch 2.4, she was an unrepentant Kael’thas fangirl. We’re talking poster-on-the-ceiling levels of squee here. She saw him as the savior of Quel’thalas in the Third War (such as was saved), and constantly wished he would return from Outland, sweep aside Theron and the Blood Knights, and reset the sin’dorei on the path toward greatness yet again.
Then came patch 2.4. Whoopsie. Come to find out that Kael really is a bastard who stole his own people’s naaru and left them starving for magic. Illy’s still getting over the betrayal. It’s left her with a huge distrust of kings and magisters in general, and deepened her hatred for her native Silvermoon even more. She only comes there now to occasionally visit her parents and sometimes to train with the Farstriders.
I do know that Illy has taken to the Horde more than a lot of blood elves. She respects the warrior tradition of orcs even as she’s repulsed by some of their bloodier aspects. Tauren culture fascinates her, but it’s in sort of a patronizing Jane-Goodall-and-her-chimps kind of way. She stays well away from trolls–hey, 3000 years of conditioning is hard to break–and Forsaken squick her, even though her #2 idol, Ranger-General Sylvanas Windrunner, is one. She’s neutral on dwarves, gnomes, and Draenei. Humans infuriate her for what she sees as Garithos’ betrayal, and she really looks down her nose at night elves, thinking them stupid redneck country-bumpkin tree-humping idiots. If she calls you a night elf, she just insulted the hell out of you.
The other hook I’m trying to hang onto with her (but may not be able to) is that she only tames and works with flying animals. She started with a dragonhawk, then switched to a Thousand Needles venomous cloud serpent at level 28. At level 44, I found her a beautiful red Feralas rogue vale screecher, named it Bloodwing, and she’s used it until now. (And yes, I admit it, I tamed it because at the time, her armor was all red, and they matched.) Bloodwing may get honorable retirement, though. Yesterday I tamed an Emerald Skytalon from the Emerald Dragonshrine and named it…Emerald. C’mon, her last name’s Jadehawk, how could I not tame a bright green bird of prey?
And for slogging through this wall of text, you get a bonus…my tribute to one of the greatest scenes in movie history, Ursula Andress’ famous entrance as Honey Rider in the first James Bond movie, Dr. No, done WoW style:
Continuing my character introduction series, next we have my second WoW character on Feathermoon, my Alliance-side main, the cranky old hunter with a heart of bronze and a liver of steel…Beltar.
- Full name: Beltar Forgebreaker
- Created: August 2005
- Level/race/class: Level 77 dwarf hunter
- Spec: Marksmanship (currently 16/52/0)
- Age: 127 (human equivalent ~55)
Beltar is a fairly stereotypical dwarf. He’s cranky, he’s curmudgeonly, he’s loud, he’s profane, he’s often drunk, and he occasionally smells faintly like stale beer and pig. Physically he’s not imposing–a bit on the scrawny side for a dwarf, maybe an inch shorter than average, with a craggy, wrinkled face, hazel eyes, bad teeth, and mostly-gray hair that hangs straight to below his shoulders. His skin is weathered from a lifetime outdoors. He likes hats, and has a garish red fedora (Mirren’s Drinking Hat) that he often wears with dark-colored shirts and pants when not geared up for killing.
When I wrote Beltar’s history, I knew basically nothing about Blizzard canon history in the Warcraft universe prior to WoW. So I left it very vague. For the past century or so, after leaving home (the circumstances of which are explained in a story here), Beltar wandered all over the Eastern Kingdoms selling his skill with an axe or a gun. At various times, he was a merchant guard, bandit, hired killer, bodyguard, mercenary soldier, watchman, and much more. Because of his work with various merchants, he managed to miss both the First and Second War; before the Third War, he was grievously injured while bodyguarding someone, and ended up stuck in Anvilmar recuperating. By the time he was up and around again, it was years later, and he had to start regaining his skills again…from level 1.
Beltar’s one constant is his pet boar, Squealer. He tamed Squealer in Dun Morogh at level 10 and he’s had him ever since. He’s dabbled in other pets (he currently has an as-yet-unnamed Sholazar dreadsaber as a DPS pet) but keeps coming back to the big black crag boar, lousy DPS and all.
Beltar is simultaneously fun and frustrating to play. He’s my favorite character to roleplay, above and beyond even Linedan. Lin is quiet, he’s serious, he blends in to backgrounds. Beltar, at times, is loud, abrasive, profane, insulting–generally socially inept, and what’s more, he doesn’t give a damn. On those relatively rare occasions where I can just lay back and have fun being a drunk-ass crotchety gun-toting dwarven redneck, he’s an absolute hoot. And, unlike the basically noble and decent Linedan, Beltar is an amoral little son of a gun. He doesn’t really get the chance to show it off, but I’ve always envisioned him as being a perfect Mafia hitman. He’s not into dark magic, he’s not really into torture for the sake of torture, he likes puppies and kittens and rainbows well enough. But cross him or those he considers his–like his guild, the Wildfire Riders–and he’ll castrate you, nail you to a barn door, pull your guts out through your throat, and feed them to his dreadsaber while you watch…then head down to the Pig and Whistle in Old Town Stormwind and pound back some ale like nothing ever happened.
Even his accent is fun. His accent isn’t quite the normal faux-Scottish Blizzard-standard Dwarven; I figured his speech patterns in Common have gotten munged up by a century of exposure to humans from Lordaeron to Stormwind and everywhere in between. So his accent is similarly twisted; inside my head, it’s a bizarre mixture of Blizzard Dwarven, combined with some occasionally swallowed vowels and clipped endings (so “y’r” instead of “your,” “findin'” instead of “finding”), a bit of Minnesotan or Canadian prairie thrown in (he tends to pronounce things like “house” as almost “heouse,” if that makes any sense–it’s a linguistic thing peculiar to the part of Virginia I grew up in), and grammar patterns based off folks I grew up with in rural Virginia and those I knew in South Carolina.
The frustration part comes more from actually trying to play him. He’s always been a marks hunter, and always will be; I have Illithanis, my blood elf, to scratch my beastmastery hunter itch. Beltar is a gunbunny. It’s what he does. But marks hunters are generally inferior to BM hunters in a lot of circumstances, without any real “oh shit” buttons like Bestial Wrath if things go sideways, and they’re harder to level solo because their pets are much less effective. And with most of my time being taken up by Lin, Beltar almost exclusively solos. One look at his craptacular Armory tells you that; at 77, he’s still wearing lots of Karazhan pieces. He’s done exactly one instance run since entering Northrend. With only being able to play him a few nights a week, and with the majority of his acquaintances already long since 80 and gone onto heroics, he’s lagging, and his low gear level makes leveling him a bit of a slog. Beltar may make me break my “I don’t pickup group” pledge just to get the massive backlog of low-level instance quests out of his quest log.
I’d love to be able to put more time into him. But there aren’t enough hours in the day, really. So I roleplay with him when I can, and grind out a few hundred thousand xp when I can, and keep hoping I can pick up some instance runs or help with group quests, usually without too much luck. But as befits a dwarf who’s led a rough life on the road for over a century, I keep on keeping on.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing each of my “important” characters here–the ones that I tend to play more, anyway. And we might as well get the ball rolling with the guy this blog is named after, my main, the Big Guy, der Panzercow himself…Linedan. (And BTW, it’s pronounced “lih NAY den” or “lih NAY dun.” Not “LINE dan.”
- Full name: Linedan (formerly Linedan Granitehoof)
- Created: March 2005
- Level/race/class: Level 80 Tauren warrior
- Spec: Protection (15/5/51)
- Age: Equivalent to human 23
Lin’s most noticeable physical characteristic is that he’s big. I know, all Tauren are big, but he’s big even for a Tauren. Take a 6-foot-3, 240-pound NFL linebacker and scale him up to Tauren, ripped physique and all, and that’s Linedan. Then tack on all that plate armor, including standard-issue Blizzard oversized shoulders, and, well, there’s a reason I joke that he’s spec’d 5/5 Improved Loom. Other than being a giant wall of steel-covered beef, there’s three things noticeable about him: he’s got all-over gray fur (unusual from what I’ve seen, few Tauren go with that option); he’s got penetrating ice-blue eyes (ditto), and if you look closely, you can see a pink mageweave shirt under all that armor. But good luck spotting it–he rarely takes his armor off in public. He always looks like he’s ready to throw down.
Lin is very quiet. He doesn’t say much. But it’s not a placid quiet…it’s more of a “when is this mountain going to erupt?” quiet. He’s still, he’s almost immobile, he can almost disappear into the woodwork–or more appropriately, serve as an entire wall for a room–and if the situation calls for it, he can respond with extreme violence in the blink of an eye. It doesn’t take much time being around him to figure out that there’s a furnace of rage seething under that impassive exterior. That having been said, he’s no psycho (most of the time). He’s very loyal to his friends and to his guild Noxilite, who are basically his adopted clan.
Basically, Lin’s personality is the “noble savage”…take a bit of Lieutenant Worf, a bit of Daelen Red-Tiger from the original Neverwinter Nights, a dash of psycho seasoning, and throw them in a blender. Most of the time he doesn’t particularly get off on killing or violence, but it’s about all he knows how to do (other than blacksmithing). And since he is fanatically driven to be the best he can be, he practices that violence. A lot. He doesn’t have much of a social life and doesn’t have any known romantic relationships. If you translated it over to real life, Lin would be the guy who hung out around an MMA dojo all day, every day, working constantly, eating right, training insanely hard. And everything would be great until he got inside the cage and his opponent did something to set him off, and wound up with two broken arms and a skull fracture.
Lin was my first character on Feathermoon and second character in WoW. He is an old-school warrior, born in the days of 20%+ miss rates on all attacks, leveled in gray vendor gear and crafted copper chain garbage that sometimes he couldn’t even afford to repair. At level 18 he joined a large Horde guild, Hand of the Forsaken, but since most of the rest of HotF was far ahead of him in levels, he did most of his level-grinding alone. Even after leaving HotF and joining The Sidewinder Band in his 40s, he did very few instances. I actually didn’t start tanking until I joined Noxilite in his mid- to late-50s…and it showed. Some of those old-school Scholomance and Stratholme runs were pretty painful while I figured out what I was doing.
I never envisioned him being a prot warrior, even though I tried prot out for a while at 60. Coming from Everquest, where all warriors could do was tank, I didn’t want to get pigeonholed into that role again. I always wanted Lin to be a machine of destruction, wielding the biggest damn two-handed something he could find and massacring everything in his path. The truth, of course, is that a warrior without friends and without the ability to get good gear is a nightmare to level, and the furthest thing from a machine of destruction imaginable. So I ran primarily as a two-hand Fury build (5/31/15 I think) with the Anvil’s Molten Core and BWL raids, pre-Burning Crusade.
After BC came out and I got Lin to 70, I couldn’t get him into any of the Anvil’s early Karazhan raids. So I hooked up with friends who were starting their own, and I took him Prot (“temporarily”) because I knew I couldn’t offtank Kara as Arms or Fury, especially with his marginal items. He’s been Prot ever since. He moved up to maintank the Kara raid, and then got back into Anvil 25-mans as the #2 offtank, a position he held all through 25-man content clear up to our one pre-Lich King farewell poke into Black Temple–yes, those are T6 shoulders he’s got on in the picture, still at level 80. All the while, I was wishing I could DPS with him, because when not tanking, a Prot offtank was truly useless in terms of hurting anything. But I didn’t have good enough DPS gear, and needed to stay Prot for when I did have to tank.
The 3.0 changes to Prot have finally brought Lin into his own–it’s like some sort of Blizzard karmic payback for the months of sheer hell leveling him initially, and then trying to grind quests and rep as Prot because I couldn’t afford contant respecs. I’ve always played Lin as having an internal struggle between offense and defense, the berserker and the protector, but now, with Prot warriors being able to crank out 1000 dps easily and demolish stuff while grinding? He can be both at the same time. I love being able to stand in against three elite mobs and take their worst while dropping 4k Revenge crit bombs all over the place.
Someday, maybe I’ll take him Fury again, probably Titan’s Grip…although it will require a complete re-gearing that’ll take a while. But for now, after almost four years, I am finally content with where Linedan is in terms of the game. He’s not content, of course. He’s always pushing harder and harder. But I’m happy with my Panzercow, and at peace with his Protness.