Just a little prompting …

The Guild of Origin has been hitting Black Rose a little this week, mostly for acid blast practice before the next big Danbala snake hunt.  While we were up there I noticed some members  having a real hard time keeping up with the damage.

One thing we want to do in the Guild is to teach people skills that help them play the game.  It’s not about follow this template and do what we tell you, it’s about finding what’s giving you a problem and give you suggestions that you can incorporate into your own play style.

The particular problem here was that the runner was stacking circles … circling before the lag from the last circle was gone, which is the kiss of death on many thief runs because you can’t respond to incoming bursts of damage … like an acid blast 🙂

Chit chatting a bit about what had happened it turned out that part of the problem was a default fprompt.  Everyone needs to experiment to find a prompt that works for them but there’s some very useful tokens.  I’ll share one that I use for my thieves that works for me.

*||* (1743/1743h 766v |S|Kylara is perfect health)

Yep, that’s it.  Very, very basic.  Too much information is a distraction to me.  The first token is %L .. the LAG token.  When I circle I can see how much lag is left when my prompt updates.  Sometimes this means going config -gag so that missed attacks cause a little screen scroll, but in group fights config +gag is usually ok.

Next is current hp and max hp.  Max hp is there for a couple reasons.  First of course is that I don’t always remember what my max hp are from character to character or from build to build.  Gear swapping for a particular challenge keeps that number moving around.  The second is that it’s a great way to know at a glance if I’m disarmmed or if I’ve zapped.  Normally disarm triggers take care of some of this but if I’m blind when disarmmed or a hundred other little nuances I have a hint to look for a problem.

I could likely eliminate the movement token here, it’s very rare that I run out of movement on a flying avatar and I use guages to keep track of spell durations but it was a problem at some point so it’s still here but not so useful anymore.

Next is the style token, pretty self explanatory, even adepted you can miss style changes.

Finally %n is %c keeps an eye on the mob’s health so that I’m not wasting time glancing at the mob to follow the flow of the fight.

After sharing this prompt I was surprised that more than one person commented about not using the lag token or mob health tokens and that the prompt I shared had helped make the fights a lot easier for them, so that has inspired today’s post.  Make sure you check help prompt_tokens and customize the prompt to your own needs and happy hunting 🙂

Old MacMillan had a corpse, ee aye ee aye woohoo!

So this morning I posted about yesterday’s experience with Brutus.  Rather than edit it to reflect today’s experience, I’d rather bring you along for the ride today.

The baby barb took a beating at the hands of Brutus.  Using uppercut or pummel got as far as few bruises with ridiculous equipment damage.  In other words not enough damage output.  So what the heck can you do with a baby barb to improve the damage output?  Looking down the slist to level 42 I took a suggestion from Ardeth to give something different a try, I went and coughed up the cash for a lance in the barb home town and found out what hurdle is used for!

All of a sudden, the health levels start dropping, the incoming chokeholds were pretty managable but boy oh boy the surprise rends hurt!

Brutus Hammersmith is DEAD!!
You receive 15524 experience points.
You receive 31048 extra experience points for taking vengeance upon Brutus hammersmith.
Brutus Hammersmith falls to his knees, defeated.
Brutus Hammersmith exclaims 'you have bested me!'
Brutus Hammersmith looks down at his fatal wound, and then up into your eyes, a saddened look wiping across his face.
Brutus Hammersmith says 'Tell that vile woman I will see her in hell...'
A finger is sliced from Brutus Hammersmith's dead body.
You get 1390000 gold coins from the corpse of Brutus Hammersmith.

Since I was in gear that was quite easy to replace (yay levelling gear) I went ahead and just stayed stubborn and tried to drop him, well, I’ll pay the price by doing a tour of the realms for gear tonight.

You are using:
<used as light> the sigil of Sil-Galith
<worn on finger> [nothing] 
<worn on finger> [nothing] 
<worn around neck> [nothing] 
<worn around neck> [nothing] 
<worn on body> [nothing]
<worn on head> [nothing] 
<worn on legs> eltor-hide leggings
<worn on feet> [nothing] 
<worn on hands> [nothing] 
<worn on arms> a tattoo of interlaced leaves
<worn about body> an Elvish Cloak
<worn about waist> [nothing] 
<worn around wrist> [nothing] 
<worn around wrist> [nothing] 
<wielded> [nothing] 
<worn on ears> [nothing] 
<worn on eyes> shades of light
<worn on back> [nothing] 
<worn over face> [nothing] 
<worn around ankle> a blue, glassy chain
<worn around ankle> [nothing] 
<wielded as lance> a sharpened dragon tusk lance

I don’t feel bad giving some hints, since lots of people know how to do this kill on a shieldbashing Paladin, it was nice to do it on the barb though.  The hardest part of this is the eq damage, of course.  So… next time, do it on a druid?


Old MacMillan had a farm, ee aye ee aye omg that hurts!

Similar to my adventures in Wendle Mansion, my adventures in MacMillan Family Farm has been motivated by levelling a character.  In this case I decided to level my first barbarian, my previous barbs being purchased for the purpose of runs.

Of course the largest challenge with barbarians is that they cannot use equipment that is magic, nor recite scrolls, brandish staves and so forth.  They generally eschew magic, unless they’re quaffing potions by the hundred out of a gnomish potion container 😛  Nonetheless that means that a tremendous amount of gear, which is magical is not useful.  For me that was the challenge.  Conceptually I like the barbarians, I wish that they had damage mitigation/non magical healing that actually made them play differently than other classes but perhaps that would have been too much coding and/or too different for Realms.

So the Farm has a primary quest and a great number of craftable pieces of equipment particular to the barbarians.  Given that this area presently the newest installed area it’s no surprise that some of these pieces plug a particular hole in builds.  In particular, the spiked leather armguards of the tribesmen are useful into avatarhood and the stone-headed tomahawk named “windwalker” is a nice upgrade to a knobby club.

I managed to map out the area fairly straightforwardly, though a couple of the keywords were a little tough to get “just right”.  The main difficulty becomes that some of the mobs do not appear every repop and the components they provide are pop items themselves.  The armored baloth in particular hits hard, having a program that dings a piece of equipment nearly every round.  Given the AC on levelling gear it’s just too easy to scrap stuff there, but you have to kill him, since he has two different pops that are used in the recipes.  Oh well.  Having done this on a barb, I see why people dedicate a level 44 Paladin to this job.  The barbarian is uppercutting away where the paladin can shieldbash.  If the barbarian had rend at this level then at least the fights would be hard but reasonable.

That sums up my feelings on the main quest as well.  Brutus is just too hard to fight on a barbarian in any reasonable way.  You can die/recall, repair, restock and run back to rejoin the fight, but uppercut just barely keeps up with his healing where shieldbash actually makes some headway.  I like a challenge, but there’s some things I am just not doing more than once.  It’s too bad that ancestral strike, which is generally considered underpowered at avatar, isn’t lower level because it would be a nice alternative here.  About the only thing I can think to do is try armblocking the damage and bringing lots of extra armwear (can’t even cheat and recite quantum spike scrolls!!).

Overall a fun area with some good gear.  A nice side adventure that will never be staked as a levelling area.  Nice job Eisengrim.

Hey you, what’s new?

As real life sort of settles back down with the end of term and an (almost) end to marking papers I’ve had the chance to get out and do some things that require more concentration than chit chat.

I’ve been leveling a barb, more because I didn’t level my first 2 so I wanted to go through the paces.  So far pretty cool, finding a low level spring item stinks (hint hint) unless I’ve totally missed it.  Can’t use any brandishables so the stuff in Town Hall won’t work and dowse is useless against aggressive mobiles, such as those in the upper part of the barbarian training area.  Nonetheless using create spring potions (magic! uggh! grunt! Me drink make water on ground but not pee!) I managed to work my way to the top of the mountain and complete the quest.  There does seem to be a tiny ‘hint malfunction’ in that I didn’t get the parts of the quest that says go to the top and kill so and so until I had already killed him and looted his goodies.  Of course the motivation for that was from the poisoned barbarian on the second level.  Anyway, the progs still work, even if they seem a little out of order and the quest reward was a nice L15 5dr 2 Handed Sword that I used a fair amount, swapping Neptune’s Tridents in where needed for stats.

Dragonslayer has been fairly active, running a lot of different things.  I haven’t been out with them much because so much of their stuff is spontaneous and seems to start a bit on the late side for me, but I’m sure if I tried to get something going earlier we could get out more 🙂

Guild of Origin has been moving nicely, Erandor was elected to 2nd and has been easing his way into a role of leading regular runs.  We did a week of Gyges that was well attended, a surprise visit to Raelin for a few kills and last night we went to Danbala which didn’t work out so well, but the team felt like they learned a bit about run organization and so it was still fun.  Being in the trans maze with Zistrosk was just like old times … circa 2001 with Guild of Druids.

Happy Easter, Happy Passover to those that will be celebrating this weekend and to those who are watching Hockey, keep your stick on the ice.

The most important resource in all of the Realms … people!

Over the last 4 years or thereabout I’ve really put an effort into improving the way I interact with people around me.  My experience was that I really had to step back and look at how I interacted with people and find a better way of doing it.  In a lot of ways it has been a very enriching process that has helped me to invest in people and develop friendships that may have otherwise remained arms-length acquaintances.  Lately I’ve been coming to realize that my outgoingness may be offputting to some people and it’s something I’ve been putting some thought into and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts with you.

I used to be a very shy kid.  There were periods of my life where I found criticism from any authority figure I respected absolutely devastating.  Of course to a very large degree I grew out of these things but every now and again there are moments 🙂  To this day I still get anxious when I have to perform some task in front of others like solving a math problem on a black board.  You’d think this would be a big problem standing in front of a class and solving problems but I’ve found a few techniques that help me manage it and get through my day: prepare examples ahead of time, try to identify some of the common ways to go off track in case someone asks and deflect any mistakes I make in real time away with humour.

Learning techniques to help me get by in social situations is something I’ve consciously worked at.  Let me lead by saying that this doesn’t mean I have a formula for dealing with people, nor does it mean that I’m in some way disingenuous in my dealing with people it means that I’ve recognized that there are areas where I struggle and I’ve tried to find ways to get along better so that I’m dealing what is really going on around me rather than what I _think_ is going on around me.  It’s not always successful, I don’t expect that I have to get along with everyone, but if I’m doing the best I can then at least I’ve upheld my part of the social contract 🙂  So the general openness I project, trying to learn about people’s lives like where they live or events that are important to them, and other one-on-one personal interactions is something that tends to work well at opening people up and to at least create an friendly environment.  I’ll amend here that these aren’t the sort of details that are deeply personal, it’s the internet after all, to me knowing if someone’s married or has a kid is a generally public thing whereas knowing their cell phone number or childhood love interest’s name is much more personal.  For most people I do a fairly good job of respecting boundaries.

There have been people that I’ve had a very hard time interacting with, where my outgoingness seems to be exactly the wrong way to approach these people.  I don’t like to label people, if someone self identifies as something then ok, but I don’t know people and their lives well enough to say this person is this or that.  Some of the people I have a hard time with probably self identify as introverts, my wife included.  Face to face I can use non-verbal cues to gain some ideas about how people feel and so forth, despite being fairly extroverted myself I do actually care about the well being of those around me … I tend to apply that to everyone actually, but the depth of it varies from person to person based on my relationship with them.  I will admit that I used to think introverted people were just shy and if they worked at it they could ‘get along’ with the rest of us better.  After all, I have struggled with shyness and worked my way through a lot of it.  This is a ridiculous idea but it helps to show what a poor idea of introversion I once had.  I’ve read things posted by self-proclaimed introverts to help understand better, websites like this one help me adjust my thinking and try to see where and why I keep sticking my foot in my mouth.  Of course everyone’s different and there’s no recipe, but perhaps I can avoid some common pitfalls.  I’ve learned that perhaps the hardest part I have in it is letting others take the lead rather than taking the lead myself.  This isn’t talking about a chain of command or authority, this is strictly talking about personal interactions.  For me, and I _imagine_ others, it’s easier to avoid social situations that are uncomfortable even if dealing with it could lead to it resolving.  Of course both parties have to feel it’s worthwhile to resolve and that the resulting relationship would be worth the effort.  To me avoiding those conversations means things never get better or perhaps they get worse as miscommunication and misperception get cemented into resentments and become gospel.  Or maybe I over think things… maybe.

So what has motivated this post?  I feel that I’ve alienated at least one person on Realms that I have been genuinely interested in developing a friendship with because of the way I’ve tried to interact with them.  Why would I want a friendship with this person?  It is not to curry influence or favour … one comment they’ve made in the past (and not directed towards anyone in particular, but in a general way) is that “everyone has an agenda”.  There’s an innocent way to take that, meaning people have their own goals but it also has a sinister one where people ONLY do things to advance their goals.  I identify with the first but don’t identify with the second.  They are creative in more than one manner that I admire: they are good creative writers which is something I attempt to improve on and they are also musically talented which is something I can only admire from afar being utterly useless with instruments.  I know them to be the type of person that is hard working and a loyal friend.  These are qualities I admire so it opens the door, it’s not an automatic suggestion that a friendship will ensue.

Since we are in an organization together we have interacted on channels to some degree and I’ve felt we were getting along well.  Just to reiterate this is only talking about an on game friendship, absolutely nothing more than that.  Frankly if I needed off game friends that I never see I could just stick to family 🙂  The relationship has gone down hill lately with a couple of faux paus… I will admit to creating a bit of drama with individuals, mostly unintentionally and mostly motivated by frustration and perhaps tempered by over work and tiredness, but without excusing my own part in it, it takes two to tango.  Further, I’ve dealt with these things one on one with the people involved and attempted to make amends and rebuild any fences that needed mending.  No channel rants, no big emo demonstrations.

One of the issues was something that to me was completely silly, but was absolutely not to the other person.  In my circle of people I play with, we generally know each other’s alts, and if we don’t then asking who this alt is or that alt is is an entirely normal social thing.  I stuck my foot in my mouth by guessing someone at an Olympic event was the alt of the person I’ve referred to here and I was very wrong.  Nonetheless the message was essentially “good luck” but the response was outright hostile.  Since I initiated it, I made an attempt to apologize (tells turned off, ok can’t apologize) and then I completely left it alone because even to my thick head that the person wasn’t interested in any further conversation with me 🙂  Well until they dropped a tell out of the blue with a mild insult but I just let that slide … no good can come out of a pissing match, and again it all comes out of my mistake.  Turns out the original person who I had intended to contact would have felt insulted even if it had been them, well, oh.  See, I don’t think of “the character” of one alt or another very much, but rather tend to interact with the person at the keyboard regardless of the character I’m dealing with at the moment, but there’s a different way of thinking out there and clearly I had overstepped the bounds of acceptable behaviour and/or over assumed the degree of friendship.  Ok, apologies as always, live and learn.

So why post here now re-addressing all this?  The person I’m talking about seems to be consciously avoiding any interaction with me on public channels, simple social niceties like hello and good bye.  That’s fine, it would be easy to say that the person is an ass and being rude and move along, but I don’t believe that’s true.  I think perhaps they think that even saying hello might lead back to another dramatic situation.  Fair enough, it might.  To directly address them with a mail message or tells would probably be very unwelcome but I feel that this is an awkward situation that can be made better with a little communication.  Maybe not.  Maybe the answer is leave it alone.  I can live with that too.  Perhaps with patience and in time it’ll improve on it’s own, or not.

I shared this because I think that interacting with one another in text is a very difficult medium.  We cannot pick up on any social cues beyond a few lines of glowing dots arranged on a monitor.  I find that it allows situations that could perhaps be easily dealt with IRL to become larger than they are.  Perhaps some other players have struggled with these issues, perhaps there are different mindsets or interpretations I haven’t considered … we are a global game with a plethora of cultures interacting with one another across many socio-economic groups and ages.  I look at it as a great place to try to grow as a person, the one thing that if the the game went offline tomorrow forever I would be able to keep.  I guess that’s my agenda, personal growth.

After the port … da guilds

So in January I had taken us up to the point of September 20 when Destre had set the new guild leaders.

As you can well imagine it was nutty.  The plan was to have people use their brands to auto induct to the new guilds but they generally did not work properly the first night.  In the interest of not alienating people we decided to throw the doors open and anyone who asked to join the guild claiming to be from an old guild was inducted on the spot.  I don’t think that was the universal decision, other guilds may have handled things differently but I wanted GoO to be as open and inclusive as it could be right from day 1.  So away we went, inducting almost automatically, no alt lists, no application notes, nothing at all.  I am certain some people would go nuts without an alt list, but frankly I don’t like rules that I can’t enforce properly and anyone can lie about their alts, so why bother setting something up that only honest people will follow anyway?

Prior to the guild destructions the immortals had transed all the known bots out of Darkhaven to a safe room.  The Guild of Thieves donation bot, Abelard, was transed in by Kinux to mind the new donation room and Ravith provided me access to Jarax, the former Guild of Mages potion bot who took up residence in the second donation room.  Over the next few days, with Destre creating passages for me and helping a great deal, I moved all the contents of the storage rooms into the Guild of Origin mostly by hand.  The largest challenge with a job like this is the capacity of the containers, which is far below the capacity of the room.  If you drop things on the ground you have to remember their keywords because get all does not work in donation rooms.  I got it all squeezed in, save 10k or so empty flasks and the house cleaning began.  When you merge 3 guilds you will end up with a very unusual mix of items.  It was no surprise that we had well over 100 Neptune’s Tridents but I was surprised that every bloody eyepatch and sharktooth necklace was high level.  To this day the low level stuff isn’t really well organized.  It’s a bit tough to gauge what is going to be useful to a leveling thief, warrior or mage and stock it, but we’ve manage to get rid of some of the garbage slowly but surely.

So with this state we were basically “up and running”.  With the help of Ceirana and Destre and the approval of the CoE we were allowed to increase our number of storage containers which tremendously helped with organization.  Hanging out and grabbing some mining carts helped too … I feel better when things are organized, you’d never know it but I’m a closet neat freak (no really, you’d never know it from the state of my office).

Well, that’s all about logistics and things that needed doing.  The flip side of this is getting to know people, something that was going on in all 3 guilds.  For my part I didn’t know a lot of the people in the Guild of Mages and only a few from Guild of Warriors so there were lots of new faces.  In turn I was new to them as well.  The new guy in charge … it’s not entirely comfortable being the leader when you’re new because people don’t necessarily trust you and some feel you shouldn’t the the person chosen to head things up.  Destre was a great source of reassurance, I bounced a lot of ideas off her about how to handle things and she really helped me grow into my role.  For the most part people were very helpful and friendly and it wasn’t long before we got some regular runs going.

Regular runs means getting some rules in place about pops and sharing which we decided collectively and with a lot of discussion.  As we started getting momentum we had to compete for people’s interest as there was a very active Seth run going on looking for warm bodies.  We had a bit of good and bad on that deal, lots of us participated in the run and came away with loot but at the same time it took away from trying to build up momentum in the guild, especially with 1 leader there constantly and 1 leader MIA.  This friction wasn’t isolated to GoO, I had a conversation with at least one other org leader who was wrestling with it.  At the end of the day people will go where the action is, I just look at a more long term picture of building up a good, reliable team and then moving on to bigger and better.  Some of the guys who went on the Seth run were fairly new players and one day they’re on a ‘bliv pop and the next day they don’t know how to favor their character because they’ve never had to supplicate before and they just died on a guild run.

Nonetheless a handful of good people stepped up and started leading some runs, we fielded some good teams at IGQC events and things started moving along nicely.  We started setting up some councils to help involve more people but in a lot of ways what we needed was to get finished with the transition leadership and move along to just “the leadership”.  With the guild’s approval we were ready, set, go for elections.

Oh and for the ever rabid Loril, sorry that my opening sentences are not topical, I’m not a remarkably formal writer 🙂

A wrap up to the Olympics

Well the Olympics have come and gone and I had a great time.  Here’s a wrap up to the event.

I said in my last post that I hoped that it would be more than a tele-scan but less than a full fledged scavenger hunt and that’s right where I think the event fell.  You did a traditional tele-scan to find letters and then used your letters to build words off a prescribed Nation themed list.  The more letters you were able to use in words, the better you finished.  The half-elves took first in this event, Gagnon was able to split off early and start unscrambling words rather than tele-scan on his mage which gave us a great advantage.  A few small nits to pick, nothing serious … I’d put it in the feed back department.  The unusable characters and the wildcards were a bit frustrating.  In an event like this I’d rather the luck be in the finding the letters and the skill in the word assembly, wildcards take away from that.  Additionally the wildcard letters were in fact just re-purposed unusable letters, and not all of them, which made it one more complication to try to keep straight while looking at the jumble.  Other than that I think the event was a challenge and a lot of fun.  I hope that if this sort of event becomes more common then the people deciding how many of each letter to scatter look at the letter frequency within the words they select rather than looking at standard English letter distributions as we have some things that skew the results (for example H is far more common in the race names due to the word “Half” all over the place than it is otherwise in standard English).

The final event was the Pkill, where I expected to be splattered quickly and often.  As it turned out, the event was a King of the Hill event where you earned points by staying in the designated room.  If every team had strategized to stay in the room as long as possible by not attacking anyone we would have had a terribly boring tie but thankfully that didn’t happen.  Of course, fleeing and returning quickly were vital to a good strategy.  If you killed a PK then trying to keep them from CRing was useful, but if it took you out of the room to do it, then you were only trading off them for you and at no net gain.  PFs didn’t need to cr or even respell, so it was just rush back.  PKs had some advantages like being able to shove people out of the room, but it really wasn’t a deciding factor.  I was taking 2-3 people pretty routinely and it wasn’t until Ceir started bashing me that I was having trouble at all … I mean a pk circle causes you to flee and return, but oh well 🙂  All in all a lot of fun, I killed Creemore just because he figured he’d get picked on, so I didn’t want to let him down.  A lot of the TSers present seemed to attach each other with great relish, perhaps a little pent up frustration from many long meetings!! 🙂

Congratulations to everyone who participated, and thanks again to all the immortals who invested time in preparation for this event, particularly Eisengrim and Gonnil who hosted events and managed the herd admirably.