What a long strange trip…

Let’s set the Wayback Machine to December of 2004. My then-partner Shelly, at the time a big fan of video games, said “hey, there’s a new MMO out, we should play!”

“Cool!” said I, “what’s an MMO?”

The new MMO was, of course, a game called World of Warcraft, in a genre I’d never before heard of. (A video game you play online with thousands of players? Whoa!)

Since I knew exactly fuckall about MMOs, I said I was in as long as I could play a character with a mohawk. I had no idea what kind of character to try, so Shelly said “Play a warrior, they’re usually pretty easy.” And thus was Ragnarokkr born: a troll warrior with a Mohawk.

How ya doin', mon?

I’m not sure how I ended up in a guild. I think Shelly knew someone who knew some folks who’d started it, something like that. Anyhow, we ended up joining a guild called Clan BOB on a server called Medivh, and spent countless hours over the next year or so running through dungeons and walking the endless desert of the Barrens.

To this day, this music still transports me back to a certain very specific place and time

It took the better part of a year to get to the highest level, though part of that was we didn’t realize if you log off in an inn you get double XP for a while.

We spent so many hours, so many hours, running through Blackrock Depths with the rest of the guild, just generally having a blast. I rolled a hunter alt named Margath just to see what this whole notion of a “pet class” was all about, but Ragnarokkr (or “Rags,” as the guildies affectionately called him) was me in this weird new world.

Then the worst thing that could have happened, happened: success.

The co-founders of Clan BOB created what was one of the first, if not the first, World of Warcraft Webcomic, “Life of Riley.” It turned into a runaway hit, and some kind of Drama ensued. I never got the full story, but there were server problems and, I’m told from sources that may or may not be reliable, fights over money the comic was bringing in.

Anyway, the founders quit, on (again I’m told) bad terms, there was bad blood all around, the guild collapsed, I rolled Alliance characters on Eonar, and that was that.

Years later, I moved to Atlanta while Shelly went off to Tallahassee for her graduate degree. She got in touch with me to say she’d moved her undead healer to a different server, and would I like to play WoW with her again? I said sure, paid to move Rags to her new server, and joined her new guild.

We played for a few months before she quit the game again, so I went back to my Alliance characters.

Fast forward to 2019. World of Warcraft has its fifteenth anniversary. Characters who logged in got special bonuses, including a “15th anniversary” balloon.

I logged on to all my old characters, including poor forgotten Margath. I was astonished to find he was still a member of the Clan BOB guild, and even more astonished when I opened the guild registry to see if any old friends were playing and saw a message saying the guild leaders hadn’t logged on for an extended period of time, would I like to take over the guild? I clicked yes, logged off, and went about my day.

World of Warcraft is in a kind of lull period between content updates right now. I’ve raised several characters to the highest level, run my main (a worgen boomkin named Ortin) through the current highest-level raid dungeon, and the leader of my raiding guild isn’t running raids at the moment because of some sort of personal family thing he’s dealing with.

So I turned my attention back to Rags, my old, old, character from way back.

I transferred him back to Medivh, brought him back into Clan BOB, and brought him up to max level—something that only took a week of casual play rather than the year it took the first time round, as Blizzard has drastically streamlined the leveling process.

Then I geared him up and ran the current top-tier raid a few times, just for old times’ sake.

When I look at the Clan BOB character roster, it’s a sad and tragic thing:

Last login: 15 years ago, 13 years ago, 10 years ago. Ah, how the past crumbles into dust.

So I now find myself in the weird position of being the owner and sole active member of a once-legendary World of Warcraft guild with a long history. I can’t even find out if the original owners still play the game at all; a search for their character names on the WoW character database turns up nothing, suggesting they have deleted their characters or possibly deleted their accounts.

And I’m not sure what to do with it. A part of me wants to resurrect the guild again, maybe build it into a raiding guild once more, but that’s a lot of work and I don’t have time. (That’s the thing about being a full-time writer; it’s not an 8-hour-a-day, 5-day-a-week job. Eunice and I are currently, as of mid-December 2021, on track to have written three novels this year.)

But I still want to see this once-proud guild rise again from the ashes, like a phoenix from Tempest Keep.

You might be addicted to World of Warcraft if…

So this evening, my roommate David and I went shopping after work.

We had to make it fast, because we both had raid tonight. In fact, he talked to his raid leader on the way to the store, so that we’d have an idea of how much time we could spend shopping.

Which got us to thinking how to tell if you’re completely addicted1 to World of Warcraft. The warning signs are pretty subtle, so it can sometimes be a difficult call to make. Still, there are a few little signs and signals that might tip you off. To wit:

1. Your boss asks you if you can work overtime, and you say “Sorry, no can do. We’re raiding tonight. Sartharion, booyeah!”

2. Your new sweetie asks you out on a romantic date, and you say “Sorry, no can do. We’re raiding tonight. Sartharion 25-man, booyeah!”

3. You’re scheduling a funeral for a family member and you realize it can’t be on Saturday, because you’re raiding that night. Sartharion 10-man with three drakes up, booyeah!

4. Your fiancée wants to go out shopping for wedding rings, and you have a fleeting moment when you think “Shopping? We don’t need to do that! I can craft a [Titanium Spellshock Ring]!

5. You have your real-life wedding in-game.

6. …and ALL of your friends show up.

7. …and think it’s cool.

8. And your family shows up, too.

9. You install an add-on that lets you play another game inside the game while you’re idle or traveling somewhere.

10. Your character’s cooking skill is higher than yours.

11. You schedule vacations around the release dates for game expansions.

12. You schedule vacations around patch day.

13. Two words: Soloing Onyxia, booyeah!

14. The porn folder on your computer contains screen shots of that time you soloed a Fel Reaver at level 69.

15. …and you weren’t playing a warlock.

16. The first thing you ask that new hottie who just moved in across the street is “Horde or Alliance?”

17. And if the answer is “Alliance,” you know a relationship will never work. Fuckin’ pansy-ass Alliance, anyway.

18. The three things you look for in a vacation spot are power, broadband Internet access, and… Come to think of it, there’s really only two things you need in a vacation spot.

19. Actually, you don’t really need to go anywhere on vacation. Travel takes away time you could spend playing!

20. And so does sex, for that matter.

21. You may drive a [1977 Chevy Vega] in real life, but who cares? Your character rides a [Mechano-hog]! Booyeah, baby! Put that in your [Dark Iron Smoking Pipe] and smoke it!

22. Your [Tigule and Foror’s Strawberry Ice Cream] brings all the boys to the yard.

23. Those “World of Whorecraft” porn videos bug you because they keep getting the lore wrong.

24. When you go to lunch, you tell your boss “AFK for 30”.

25. “LF 1 GF. Will be checking gear.”

26. You know your way around Alterac Valley better than you know your way around your own neighborhood.

27. …and Alterac Valley is safer than your own neighborhood.

28. You see “LFM OT + DPS UBRS Rend run” in general chat and it makes you all misty-eyed with nostalgia.

29. You’ve watched the World of Warcraft “Switch” ad 167 times, and it keeps getting funnier every single time you see it. “Or hell, why don’t I just self-res, and bam! Cast Frost Shock!!!”

And finally:

30. If you had a dollar for every time Blizzard nerfed your class, you could…you could…play for two months for FREE!

1 Not that that’s, you know, a bad thing.

Things and Stuff: The Weekend

Saturday brought with it a very interesting reinforcement of what is arguably the overriding, and most important, lesson of living in a post-industrial society:

In a world spanned by an instantaneous communication network of global scope, in a nation whose most powerful and most influential sectors are not involved with the digging of ditches or the making of things but rather with the moving of information, it doesn’t matter what you know. What matters most is how you can find what you need to know. The ability to memorize skills or information matters less than the ability to find the skills or information you need, when you need it.

Seriously. On Friday, I did not know how to set up a database, how to add or retrieve information from a database, or how to pass information from a Web browser to a database. Today, I do. Just like that.

We take for granted many things that for 99.9% of human history would seem strange and unfathomable, and I’m not just talking about heavier-than-air powered flight and iPods. I’m talking about the way we learn, catalog, disseminate, and transmit information and knowledge. Google became a billion-dollar company on the basis of a single insight: when the sum total of readily available human knowledge reaches a certain point, the index into that knowledge is worth more than the knowledge itself. If you can’t find it, you might as well not have it, as any good librarian knows.

Sunday was a bird of a whole different feather. The entire day, beginning to end, was spent playing World of Warcraft (which is, really, nothing but a gigantic database of immense proportions that’s accessed through a very specific type of real-time graphical interface). Ran Hyjal Summit, ended up with a new ring and new wrist piece (which are, for some strange reason, still not showing up on Wowarmory…hmm). Finally replaced the Horseman’s Signet Ring I got off the Headless Horseman event last year, which means that I wore that ring for exactly a year and a day.


Now if we could get our collective asses in gear and kill Kael and Lady Vashj, I could complete the quest for Keepers of Time and get another new ring. Plus Kael drops the Tier 6 chest piece, and that’d be pretty sweet.

I got my Onyxia key just three days before they removed the attunement requirement for Onyxia. Dammit.

It’s growing cold. joreth is coming up this evening; she’ll be here for the rest of the week, and on Saturday i fly to Chicago to see dayo. I’ll be in Chicago until Tuesday, if any of the Chitown peeps want to get together. We’re probably going to be at GD on Saturday, at least. cunningminx? scathedobsidian? Anyone?

Got some wood for the fireplace yesterday, then realized that I have no poker, or little shovel thingie, or any of the other accoutrements one normally associates with fires and fireplaces. Got to remember to go shopping for those things tonight before joreth arrives; I hope to do a photo shoot with her and the fireplace at some point this week.

Mmm, fire. I live in a place that has a fireplace!

Well, hell

Note: Those of you who don’t play World of Warcraft, move along. Nothing to see here.

Raid in Hyjal was scrubbed tonight. Couldn’t even get anyone interested in doing a Kara run for badges or killing Magtheridon or something. So, no raiding tonight for me!

Ran Magtheridon after we got out of Hyjal last week. Most. Messy. Kill. Ever.

Had him down to below 1% health, one of our tanks died, we didn’t stop his nova, wiped everyone ‘cept for one pally. I’m sitting there dead like “Oh, fer Crissakes, wiping on Mags is just obnoxious, ‘specially when he’s at under 1% health. I mean, we 22-man this guy just for fun.”

And our pally tank finished him off solo.

So, dead is still dead, but damn. There’s messy, and then there’s messy.

Back into Hyjal on Tuesday.

WoW: Whee!

Just got out of Black Temple for the first time. Lots of dying, learning the fights in there, but on the whole I gotta say the trash is a lot easier than the trash in Serpentshrine. Looks like we’re gonna have a lot of fun in there. Woot!

Afterwards, we went and killed Magtheridon just for fun. Took no time at all, and I finally got my Tier 4 chest piece, which (believe it or not) I’ve never had before. (Not that it has mattered a great deal, really, but it’s kinda nice to have the set.)

Tomorrow, ZA, just for fun. Sunday, back into Black Temple, or SSC, not sure which yet. As I type this, my roommate David is off-tanking in Sunwell, on the second to the last boss. Nobody on their server has downed the last boss in there yet.

And now, off to bed.