For the times, they are a-changin’
Soon I’m going to start putting up some Cataclysm beta stuff on the blog, hopefully every few days, as I get time to play. I’ll keep the actual content spoilers in terms of plot, story, art, etc. to a minimum, and try to focus instead on the mechanics of playing a Prot warrior while leveling from 80 to 85 in the brave new sundered world we’ll all be facing.
In order to do that, I’ve re-copied Linedan over so instead of being level 82, he’s back to level 80. I was going to level him through Vashj’ir, but a couple of nasty quest bugs blocked progression there, so he’ll be grinding along in Hyjal. This also gives him the solid raid gear that he’s accumulated over the three months since I got in the alpha. So he’ll be leveling along with four-piece Sanctified T10, and most everything else ilevel 251 or higher. Nothing so far has given him any significant trouble, although not being able to run addons means that I can’t really determine if his damage is really down, or if it just feels down because everything has so much more health now.
What I’m also going to do is, as soon as she hits 80, copy Latisha, my other prot warrior, over. Latisha is the polar opposite of Lin. She is going to hit 80 (hopefully tonight!) in a mish-mash of blue and green quest and dungeon drops, barely scraping 20,000 health in her tank gear. And I’m going to keep her that way. I want to see how bad it might be for a character who hasn’t spent well over a year at level 80 accumulating raid goods…what will it be like for somebody who just hit 80 in their quest greens and didn’t stop, but immediately headed back from Northrend to EK or Kalimdor and started dealing with the new zones where mob health is 30k instead of 12.6k and stuff hits much harder. Their builds will probably be similar, but their items are worlds apart. It should be an interesting experiment.
I’ve got other stuff on my mind with Cataclysm, though, and it involves Linedan. I play on Feathermoon, a roleplay server, and I frequently admit that I should be doing a lot more roleplay than I do, especially with Lin. He’s my main, after all, my beloved Panzercow, but he doesn’t get the RP love that he should, and it’s my fault.
I had a defined idea in mind that slowly developed over Lin’s first year or two. He’s basically a decent cow–not particularly bright but not stupid, stoic, loyal, honorable as his culture sees it, dedicated to excelling in his chosen art of combat. When I decided I didn’t like the clan name I’d given him (“Granitehoof”), I ended up ditching it by inventing a little bit of Tauren culture and making him clanless, something of an outcast from Tauren society. He transferred his clan loyalty to his guild instead; he refers to the other people in Noxilite, regardless of race and without irony, as his “brothers and sisters.” Yes, even the blood elves, albeit reluctantly sometimes.
That loyalty and stoicism is layered over a lot of built-in rage…yes, he’s a Cow with Issues. He pushed harder and harder as he trained to earn the respect of those around him, and sometimes, he’s felt like he hasn’t when he should’ve. As a warrior, he’s constantly walked a tightrope between the protector of his people and the berserk reaver of his enemies. In fact, when I tried him out Fury for a bit, I wrote up a whole storyline about how he’d been possessed by what he thought was one of the troll spirits around Warlord Mandokir in Zul’gurub–remember the ones that would auto-rez you?–and it taught him the ways of how the trolls fought, furious, with total abandon.
My problem is, as the years have ground on, I’ve let the stoicism take over. I’ve painted myself into a corner with him. He’s gone from having a quiet personality to having no personality. He’s fossilized. That’s due to two problems not with him, but with me, the player. First, despite having this blog and vomiting forth too much information on a regular basis, I’m actually quite shy when it comes to real-time interactions in-game. I can roleplay within my friends, but around strangers, I lock up for fear of any sort of mockery that I’m convinced will come my way.
The second is the amount of mental energy it takes for me to stay in-character. The past three and a half years have been…well, let’s be polite and call them “demanding.” Moves, job changes, deaths in the family, mental health issues, financial stress, a high-energy daughter, so many other things…they all combine to leech my focus and energy, what my wife and I jokingly call “noodle,” right out of me. There are many who view RP as a refreshment, a rejuvenator. I don’t deny that, I know how fun it can be. But staying in-character for me takes a particular kind of concentration that I simply haven’t had. Paradoxically for somebody who claims to be a roleplayer and has been called an “RP nazi” more than once…it’s easier for me to focus on mashing buttons in the right order while tanking Arthas for three hours than it is for me to work out how Linedan would interact in a simple five-minute conversation with a guildmate.
This has left me with a main that I basically don’t RP anymore. And I don’t want that. I want to get my Hordeside RP back, with Linedan. The buildup to and release of Cataclysm seem like a perfect time for it. I’m just not sure what to bloody do at this point. I’m toying with the concept, once The Anvil finally kills Arthas (ohpleaseletitbesoon), of Lin simply deciding that he’s done with all the slaughter and death and retiring back to Mulgore, just in time for all Deathwing to break loose. Or maybe I can come up with something else to happen that will crack his shell a bit. Right now, though, I don’t know what’s under that shell yet. Is he stable? Is he unbalanced? Is he good? Is he bad? Will he stay loyal to the only home he’s known for the better part of five years? I don’t know, and that’s a bit frustrating, and I can only hope that it will come to me over time now that I’m thinking about it. Character changes like that, I’ve found, aren’t something that can be forced. At least for me, they tend to blindside me when I’m thinking about something else.
In the meantime, how are you planning for your characters’ roleplay to change come Cataclysm?