How Do They Figure They’re Helping You OR The Kingdom?

I’m not sure if I’ve told anyone this, and I know it’ll come as a surprise to a lot of you, but leveling SUCKS.

It’s hard, because what I’d really like to do is sign on by myself for maybe 30 minutes a pop, get some hunting in and feel that it was actually worth my while.

Instead, I sign in, spend 30 minutes trying to find a group, another 60 minutes convincing the group I won’t get everyone killed, another 60 minutes apologizing for getting everyone killed, and I still don’t end up with anything resembling decent xp.

Oh, I know, I know, I should just rely upon my guildmates to help. But really – they’ve done nothing but help me in the past. Why should I punish them?

It’s so bad now that I’m getting up in levels. I used to think leveling was frustrating before when I could spend an hour camping just to go up one level. Now I spend an hour and I’m not even HALF a level – and I know it’s only going to get WORSE! Gah!

I tried to calmly talk this over with some of the NPC’s that give out quests.

Death says, “No you didn’t! You screamed obscenities at them!”
You say, “Not at first!”
Death says, “You did too! You started out the conversation by calling them ‘bitches!'”
You say, “Yeah, but I said it calmly!”
Death says, “And then you tried to stab them in the face!”
You say, “But damnit I was CALM the entire time!”

I really was. I thought I made some good points. You know, raised some valid issues about some of these quests they’re sending us out on. I mean, look, I appreciate that Lady Nimue sees all of these great and powerful threats against the kingdom. But let’s face facts here, people: she is DEAD. She’s a ghost. Do you honestly want someone who’s biggest concern is whether or not the Ghostbusters will show up to be the one dictating what sort of quests need to be done?

Hey, I’m all for listening to the dead. Usually I like to listen to them scream dirty words out as I throw a few earth elementals at them. But now that I’m on this drive to actually get to 50th level, I can’t help but wonder…do ALL of my quests have to go through her? Okay, I know they ALL don’t. But it sure seems that way! I mean, I could be doing a quest involving the search for the world’s best chocolate chip cookie (a quest that can easily be solved by visiting my friend Heather’s stall at Farmer’s Market on any given Saturday). The Chief Priestess of Flour might suddenly decide she needs the Ancient Chips of True Chocolate. Guess who’s going to be the one that knows how to get them?

Lady Nimue.

And do you think she’s going to make it easy? Oh, sure – if something were really threatening the kingdom, just maybe a normal person would see their way to giving you what you need in order to speed things up. But Nimue? She’s a GHOST. Do you really think she’s going to care if she makes you run from one end of the kingdom to the next for no other reason than to hear some idiot guard on a tower tell you that “Hope” is the secret word? Of course not! She’s got eternity!

Of course, now that you’ve run all over creation getting her these ‘important’ ingredients for the magic pendant, she awards you with xp. Like, one BILLIONTH of the xp needed to advance.

Yeah. And she wonders how she got to be a ghost. Me? I wonder why some Necromancer doesn’t have her following him around in a French Maid’s outfit.

Mag-MAH

I did a little research for the hunt tonite.

ex·arch (ksärk) n.

  1. A bishop in the Eastern Orthodox Church ranking immediately below a patriarch.
  2. The ruler of a province in the Byzantine Empire.

Erm… So by my reckoning, this Magma Golem was either a bishop, or a Byzantine ruler… Well, there has been a history of rulers that weren’t exactly the most brilliant people in the world, so I guess I could accept this.

Let me back up a bit here: Bats was once again attempting to powerlevel me. Yeah, exactly – after I died the first time chasing the magma golems through Glendon Wood, we decided a new strategy was in order. Basically that consisted of you know, me not dying!

Yeah, that was a pretty radical idea when I suggested it. Bats was game, though, so we hopped up on top of the tent in the middle of town and awaited the Exarch…

Which leads me completely off track: tents. What the HELL are they making tents out of in Dereth? You know what the function of a tent is? It’s to drive you insane while you try and put it up in the pouring rain, then later to gather the rain into a large puddle that falls on your head when you try and leave the tent. I’ve been camping, I know. But not only do the tents in Dereth stand up nice and firm, but they stand up nice and firm with my massive buttocks jumping up and down on them. JUMPING! Up and down! Who builds these tents? Is there some freakish Derethian Cirque Du Soleil troupe running around building these things? I’ve been in bomb shelters that were shabbier than these things!

Er…where was I?

Death says, “By the lifestone?”
You say, “Shush!”

No, wait – I was on the tent. Right. So we sit up there, and this Exarch comes waltzing up. And let me tell you: I’ve run into some DUMB critters in Dereth…

Death says, “You ARE a dumb critter in Dereth!”
You say, “Would you shut the hell up already?”

Anyway. This Exarch – he’s about as sharp as my Ben & Jerry’s spoon (which, uh, being a spoon, is not really sharp, for those of you wondering). The guy is about ten times as tall as me, but he can’t figure out how to get on top of the tent! I mean, I don’t blame him – he probably took one look at my massive ass being supported by this…this cloth, and he figured there was some trickery afoot. Which might have given him a slight mental prowess – say, one step above a clam – except that instead of running away from the trickery, he proceeded to charge right up next to it and wave at us.

It was like one of those movies when the little kid tries to go after the big guy, and the big guy just holds him at arm’s length while the twerp’s swinging his arms like a windmill on speed. And the entire time he’s doing this, I’m shooting him in the face! I mean, what, did this guy go to the Black Knight School of Combat? Every time I blew off his boulders (ahem), I expected something like, “Right! I’ll do you for that! I’m INVINCIBLE!”

Only this was WAAAAAY worse – not only was I shooting him in the face the entire time, but Bats kept on imp’ing him! Over and over again – no kidding – for five levels – I beat on that guy. I mean, I suppose I should be embarrassed. It was like getting caught trying to rent Annie by the guys in your PK Guild. I mean, sure, it’s one of Carol Burnett’s greatest performances – and Tim Curry as Rooster! HA! Man, that is one of the best…

Death says, “OMG U GIANT POOF!”
You say, “QUIET, SLUT!”

I think even more pathetic than us beating up on him like that were his attempts to get me down to ‘ground level’ where he could take a few swings at me…

Oh, man – and even more pathetic was this guy that showed up halfway during the hunt – Ghost-UA or something like that? Anyway, by this point Bats and I had a rhythm: Exarch would show up, Bats would commence vulning, I’d commence shooting in face. Worked like a charm. Then this goombah comes running up – Bats has vulned the Exarch. I’m shooting arrows at it. While we’re doing this, Ghost runs up behind it and begins swinging. With a fire weapon. I dunno, maybe he was dropped on his head as a child. Or an adult.

Anyway, I’m not going to be rude about it – I try and be polite to the insane. I don’t need one of them showing up on my doorstep chewing on my doormat or something. But THEN, as I’m plucking away on this guy, he begins asking Bats for buffs. And to vuln the Exarch. When I tried to explain to him (still nicely) that we were hunting the Exarch and perhaps he should seek out something else – you know, like something actually vulnerable to fire – he insisted that he wouldn’t leave until he was allowed one kill.

Sorry, but at this point any pretense to politeness flew out the window. I began composing this really great insult, dealing with his heritage, his mother’s mating preference, the specific odor he exuded and something about his furniture of choice…but then the Exarch took notice of him.

Suddenly, in the murky depths of magma he had for the brain, the realization sunk in that there was someone on the ground trying to hit him. Like any large creature made of magma and powered by evil magicks is trained to do when someone (especially someone less than smart) approaches, he promptly went beserk.

Watching him chase Ghost through the village brought a tear to my eye, I must say…

Attack of the Killer Interior Designers!

So there’s this city, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, called Avalon City. AC, to the hip kids.

It’s chock full of these wacky Drakoran guys. Basically, they’re walking alligators. Which can be a bit unnerving if you happen to resemble a walking TV Dinner. Which I do.

What I don’t understand is WHY we’re charging into THEIR town, right, and beating the crap out of them. I mean, really, it’s like a bunch of us charging into Fraggle Rock and beating the hell out of the doozers. Oh, sure, they put up a good fight, don’t get me wrong – I’ve left so many gravestones there, I think the entire north wall is built of them.

But really, look at these guys. They’re crafters and lotsellers! That’s like interior decorators and real estate agents in the Drakoran world!

Basically, what we have here is the Drakoran equivalent to Trading Spaces.

They’re in here, trying to redo the living room of their friends, the Ogres, who are over trying to redo the bedroom (caves) of the Drakos. And normally, where a tight budget or a rainstorm might be the worst thing the show has to deal with, instead, there’s about two billion screaming Albs running through, impaling everything in sight…

Real estate agents. We’re in here, beating up on Real Estate Agents. Oh, sure, they might be covered in scales. And maybe they’ve got jaws that put Jay Leno to shame, but come on – put yourself in their shoes!

“Yes, this is a lovely little Abby that’s being re-made into a GAAAARRRRKKKKKK!”
“OMG PHAT XP – WHUT DID HE DROP?”

And what’s even worse is when we charge in there and beat up on the crafters. It’s like charging into a building full of Martha Stewarts and kicking the sh… er… No, I can tell by your giggles that’s a bad analogy.

Okay, it’s like charging into a room full of your Kindergarten teacher and… what? Your teacher did WHAT? Oh. Well, okay, you’ll enjoy that too much. Look, it’s like charging into a room full of TOTALLY HARMLESS OLD LADIES KNITTING SWEATERS and slaughtering the lot of ’em!

I heard you giggle, Anson. Wait till I tell your grandma!

Honestly, though, we haven’t even seen what they intend to do with the place. Maybe they’ll build a bigger and better city! I mean, who knows, right? Have YOU ever been to a Drakoranian city? No? Well, there you go!

Maybe they have – get this – CRAFTERS AND MERCHANTS ALL IN ONE PLACE! And – I’m not even done – maybe, just MAYBE there’s EVERY TRAINER, all on the SAME LEVEL! With no stairs to fall down!

Hey man, you don’t know! This could be! But will we ever find out? No, because we’re too busy playing Homicidal Housing Inspector With A Pole Arm every five seconds!

And let me just point something else out – we can make fun of them for living in this beat-up ruin, but hey, at least THEY have a home! Have you seen the prices on housing yet? Man, never mind ever fighting monsters again – I say we go after the real estate agents! There we go – you guys want to beat up on Realtors? Go beat up ours! Look how bad they’re shafting us!

I was all proud of the 190 gold pieces I managed to scrounge together for the guild housing fund, only now Phil told me, and I quote, “that’s about 1/100th of the deposit on our guild home – which is merely a cardboard box outside the north gate of Camelot!”

So if you need to find me, I’ll be following the Draks around AC, begging for fabric scraps…

Me, and My Necro…

I can’t even manage to play ONE character. Pretty sad, really.

I don’t even know how to use all of my spells as a Theurg. See, Pessum (used to be Bottom, remember?) made it all the way to 36th level before I let someone talk me into starting a Necro. Well, okay, I didn’t have to be convinced very hard – the idea of being able to play in shade form appealed to me. Mostly because of the whole “you can’t be hit in shade mode” thing – yeah, silly me.

So anyway, I now have two characters I fumble around with. Neither one of them is useful. Yeah, Kwip has that power transfer, but that usually requires me to stay alive long enough to cast it. Oh, Pessum might have PBT, but the power I might save the cleric in the party with heals I MORE than make up for in the number of times I have to get rezzed.

But lately I’ve been really really trying to get to 50th. Yes, that’s why these past two updates have been late – I’ve been staying up actually playing! Yes, I know, I’m as shocked as anyone. But I just have to get to 50! I want to try that fancy /level command out! Finally I’ll get to try all those wacky templates I’ve been afraid to – like an inconnu paladin!

The problem is (of course you knew there’d be one, right?), I don’t know how to play my character. Either one. And playing TWO of them just doubles my confusion.

I know that both of their classes can be effective. I’ve seen it. But I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. And to make matters worse, I get confused over which one can do which spell.

For example, in a party, as Pessum, I pump out as many pets as my power will let me. Yes, I take my power down to nil, but I’m confident that one powertap will put me right back on track. Of course, being that I’m now a THEURG, the only tapping my pets know how to do is to the top of someone’s head. So then my power’s empty, blade turn pulses, and whoops! No more power! That means no more blade turn. Which means party gets wiped out. Which means they take turns holding me down and kicking me in the groin.

Then I’m on as Kwip. I fire off an AOE spell at a pair of mobs, completely unconcerned because I know my AOE mez will hold the second of them off until I kill the first one. The only problem? Necros don’t have AOE mez. Oh, we’ve got little snares, but all that seems to do is make the monster stand still while he beats the snot out of me instead of his usual dancing around and giggling while beating the snot out of me.

And I’m not the only one doing it, you know. Do you think Pessum can walk by a graveyard without being accosted by a swarm of sniveling zombies, all hell-bent on getting some Necro buffs? It’s embarrassing. I mean, hey, I want to help the guys out and everything, but, uh, they’re undead. Kwip might have to deal with them, but I certainly don’t want their grubby little mitts all over me!

It’s really bad, too, because they instantly assume that if you play a Necro, you automatically will sympathize with them. I don’t really know who’s the PR guy for the undead, but they definitely need to start doing a better job. Maybe a flashy ad campaign with young attractive people playing volleyball in their swimsuits. Then a zombie could spike the winning point and everyone could have a cold one! Or something like that.

Because, to tell you the truth, and this is only between you and I – Kwip only uses undead pets because he likes the way they cry when they get hit. Yes, I know, he’s sick!

And this whole concept of being an undead “supporter” or something – well, it’s downright humiliating. But I just can’t bring myself to break it to them. So I buy the little flowers from them at their fundraisers (and I have a sneaky suspicion they’re taking these from fresh graves!), and I sign their petitions (People for Equal Treatment of Zombies – PETZ).

But, ah, I do not go to their luncheons. Trust me – they give a whole new meaning to “finger foods.”

Being a Team Handicap Isn’t Easy

You may not believe this, but I do try really hard.

Sometimes I think that the very laws of physics are designed such that no matter which direction I’m facing when I fire, the rocket will streak in a complete 180-degree turn and slam into my teammate’s face.

I have to wonder if the comedic value I bring to a game outweighs the frustration I cause when I do things like sink my own carrier. I don’t even try and blow anything up. I’ll just be running to get on board the helicopter before it takes off, and then, I dunno, I trip or something and drop a bunch of landmines on the deck of the carrier destroying any chance we have of launching any form of air support for the rest of the game. Then I try and make up for this by throwing a bunch of grenades onto the mines, hoping to blow them up…

Only to have my entire team spawn on top of the grenades.

I  think that people invite me to play in their games in a new variation of the Conquest maps. Here’s how I think it works: the two teams agree before hand on a certain goal – say, sniping a helicopter with a rocket. Then the first team that accomplishes this ‘secret mission’ wins the round, and the other team gets me. It’s kind of like handicapping in golf. Only in this case, your entire team winds up with about a 8 billion stroke penalty.

Lately I’ve been trying to learn how to fly helicopters. The results are, as you might expect, disastrously funny. I’ve learned that the writers of Airwolf weren’t lying – a helicopter can do a loop, provided you don’t mind the loop finishing at the bottom of the ocean. Also, anti-aircraft (AA) fire operates on some strange physics, which I’ll attempt to illustrate with the formula below:

If (HELICOPTER_pilot) == Kwip, then damage = 5,000,000
    else
If (AA_gunner) == Kwip, then damage = .1

Granted, I haven’t run this through any scientific tests, but I’m working on it.

It’s disheartening, though. I’m manning the AA guns at our base. An enemy chopper will hover overhead and drop off about twenty parachutists. They’ll land, set up a picnic basket, volleyball net and a barbeque pit. They’ll spend an hour or so frolicking, then calmly climb into all of our vehicles and drive away. The entire time, I’m blasting away at them with the AA gun. It’s hitting – I’m getting the little X’s that show a hit – but everyone’s ignoring it as they dance around and eat their cheeseburgers. Then a helicopter will fly overhead and drop a brick on my head and I die.

However, if I am flying an airplane on the same map as an AA gun, the gunner merely needs to sneeze and my plane will explode in a fiery ball.

You don’t even want to know about me and that DC30 thing. Last night I’m flying around on that thing, so proud of myself for all the stuff I’m blowing up when finally I happen to glance at the chat screen and notice that for the past ten minutes I’ve been bombing my own base as the pilot tries to land for repairs. Sigh.

The thing I don’t get, though, is that everyone knows I suck. I mean, I think that’s the title of the upcoming expansion: Battlefield 1942: Kwip Sucks! So why on earth would you want me to accompany you on your little jaunt to capture flags? The way my luck operates, I have just as much chance of being effective if I stand back at our base and shoot rockets over the battlefield. In fact, that’s probably safer.

I spent the entire time whining for a sub level. I like driving the subs because the chances that I’ll ruin things for my team are relatively slight. Except for that time I surfaced in the midst of a convoy and torpedoed every one before realizing they were our ships.

Most of the time last night I spent running around trying to shoot Devilmouse and Crowley. Which kind of got embarrassing when I found out I was on their team. (See a pattern here yet, folks?) I reached an all-time low when I tried to jump in a hummer with Mittens, only to be run over. Then I realized I had switched teams again.

Sigh. Someday I’ll be good at this game, honest! Actually, I’d settle for just not being an embarrassment

To Find Is To Kill

They might as well just scrap every other type of mission there is, as far as I’m concerned.

I don’t know why it is; I don’t pretend to be a psychologist.

Death says, “Yes you do! You do all the time! Just yesterday you were telling Anson his nightmare represented his latent homosexual love for you!”
You say, “Well, yeah, but EVERYBODY knows about THAT…”

Uh, okay, so usually I don’t pretend to be a psychologist. However, I have learned a tiny bit in my experience of MOGs, and the one thing that holds true is this: if you put someone – let’s say, me, for example – into a ‘dungeon’ or ‘mission’ or whatever clever word you want to call it, there is only going to be one of two results at the end of that mission.

  1. I die repeatedly in a rather gruesome manner and give up entirely on that mission
                                    OR
  2. I kill every single living thing in that dungeon. And some un-living things. And a piece of furniture or two.

This has really come to focus lately in all of the missions I’ve been accepting in Anarchy Online. Being a corporate (Omni-Tek) wage slave that I am (and quite content one, at that), I have no trouble being their lackey for any number of assignments. The problem is their fault, really. If there’s anything I learned from the Dale Carnegie course my company sent me to (which I spent the entire three days at enjoying the pool and bar – yes, the bar was IN the pool – how crazy is that? How on earth did they expect anyone to come out of the pool for some stupid course when there was a bar right there?), it’s that it is a manager’s responsibility to properly utilize their employees’ talents. Therefore, while my managers could have sent me to bartending school, instead they sent me to Dale Carnegie. As a result, I came away with alcohol poisoning and 2nd-degree sun burns.

Likewise, when the Big Giant Heads at Omni-Tek populate their Mission Boards with various missions, I have to ask them what the hell they’re thinking when they send me to find somebody. You guys know me. It’s not like I lied on my application at Omni-Tek or anything. In fact, I made it a pretty clear that I’m impatient and violent when I attacked the interviewer for suggesting I might be a tad overweight for fieldwork. But that seemed to work in my favor – they said they liked my ‘gumption,’ whatever that is.

But it’s pretty clear that I am not the person you want to send in on a hostage negotiation situation. Likewise, if you need someone found, don’t send me out expecting me to tra-la-la through the mission and merely sneak up to someone and give them a hug. No, my job on a mission is to pretty much try and melt the face off of every single thing I encounter.

Also, I like picking locks and disarming bombs. Don’t ask me why, but that’s a lot of fun. Maybe it harkens back to the time I figured out how to pick the lock leading to the janitor’s closet in high school. The janitor’s closet that just happened to have that loose air vent cover…that led right to the girl’s showers… Ah, to be young again…

Er…anyway, where was I? Oh, right – missions. It would not be this bad if you didn’t keep offering the good rewards on these ‘finder’ missions, too, you realize. If you give me a list of four missions, the first three of which are assassination missions that will reward me in a BLUE HOOD, and then one finder mission that rewards me with a NEW GUN, take a wild guess what I’m going to do?

That’s right, I’m going to take the finder mission and kill everyone anyway.

And the best part is that not only will I finish the mission successfully, but I’ll be given experience, too! It’s like some bizarre, deviant Pavlovian conditioning! Only a lot more fun – let’s face it, measuring drool is nowhere NEAR as fun as shooting people!

Look, I’m not trying to make myself out into some Manson or Ted Bundy or even George W. Bush. All I’m saying, right, is that I get further if, after I’ve gone to the effort of finding your friend, I slaughter them and everyone with them.

And hey, don’t bitch at me – if you hated me doing it so much, you’d stop giving me these assignments, wouldn’t ya? Exactly.

Vitae the 13th

Unlucky day, huh? I guess so, as it found me hunting with Bats.

He said he was going to power-level me. Unfortunately, whatever wacky tongue he speaks (New Jersien?) doesn’t translate well into English, because I think the phrase he was looking for was “get me killed in a most horrific manner.”

You would think that power-leveling would be easy for someone like me. What with being famous and everything. Honestly, it’s almost embarrassing any time I set foot in public! The press of fans can be SOOO overwhelming!

Kiolic says, “OMG!”
You blush.
Haderach, “Dude, no way!”
You say, “Now now, autographs are free, just step up…”

Kiolic says, “Is that the real BATS?”
You says, “Yes, it’s…Bats?”
Bats says, “Hey, doods!”
Haderach says, “Oh, man – I can’t believe it’s really you!”

You look at Bats.
Bats smiles.
You tell Bats, “I really, really hate you.”
Bats giggles.

So I figured, what with this being an unlucky day and all, and me normally being unlucky to start off with – well, I thought that maybe there’d be some sort of cosmic re-alignment, you know? We all know that I suck on any given day. But maybe today, right – maybe today I’d be SUPAH!

Think about it: today’s the day everyone else gets to feel like I do EVERY DAY. So wouldn’t it be only fair for me to live this day as something close to normal?

I’m not asking for anything absurd here, people. Just – I dunno, make it so that everything I kill drops a SIK? That’s not asking much, right? Or maybe, how about this – today, everything I shoot dies in one-shot? Oh, come on – it’s not like I ask for this every day!

Death says, “Yes you do!”
You say, “Quiet, slut!”

Of course we all know that any time I ask for something and get it, there’s bound to be trouble. Like if I ever found a genie in a bottle, I’d ask for a freezer that never ran out of Ben & Jerrys, and the genie would remove my taste buds. Or I’d ask for immortality, and the genie would trap me in a vat of lava. Or I’d ask for Sarah McLaughlin to give me a back rub and the genie would remove my genitalia. Such is my life.

So, you think I’d be a little suspicious.

Yes, instead of the exact opposite of my normal day happening, things were pretty much up to normal: I got my ass handed to me.

There should be someone I can complain to about this whole thing. I mean really, I did all the ‘opposite’ things I was supposed to do: I walked under ladders (and a bucket of paint fell on my head), a black cat crossed my path (and then proceeded to pee on my carpet – stupid cat), I broke a mirror (just by looking in it). Come on – I lived up to MY end of the arrangement! When’s Fate going to give me another chance?

Death says, “Hey – maybe to be REALLY contrary, your lucky day is going to be Saturday the FOURTEENTH!”
You say, “Oooooh…I hadn’t thought of that! That’s brilliant! Of COURSE!”
Death says, “t Olthoi Queen, He fell for it! Okay, next I’ll see if I can get him to invade your lair – you just get all your goons together, okay?”
You say, “What?”
Death says, “Er…nothing, I, uh, have a cold.”
You say. “Oh.”
Death says, “So, did you have anything in mind for tomorrow?”
You say, “Well, I was thinking about trying a dungeon…”
Death says, “How about the Olthoi Lair?”
You say, “That sounds like fun!”
Death says, “Hee…more than you will EVER know…”

Get More Than Two of Them Together…

Oh, sure – like I can not go play in Camelot NOW. As if once I know how incredibly cool in person everyone in my guild is, I could just be satisfied with saying hi to them occasionally. Like that would work.

No, I’m afraid I had to full-on get back to my little Necro self. Even if it meant putting up with other necro pets.

See, the problem here is that I’m on my second character, while everyone else in the guild is on their three-hundred and twenty-fifth. I don’t know if it’s because they are so uber…

Death says, “Or because you suck so badly…”

Precisely. But the long and the short is, they are very good at taking brand-spanking new character and shortly getting them far, far above my second character, which I’ve been playing since Shrouded Isles came out and have only managed to reach level 14 with…sigh.

What’s really frustrating is that I was one of the (if not THE) first ones in our guild to try out Necros. So it’s only fitting that after several months, I’ve been lapped about TWENTY times by Necros that are – oh, let’s say, one WEEK old?

Yeah, it’s THAT confident of a feeling, let me tell you. It went from “Hey Kwip, how do you like Necros?” to “Hey Kwip, why on EARTH did you spec Painworking?” practically overnight.

And that’s not the worst of it. Consider this: I’ve had the same level pet (a reanimated servant I like to refer to as “Smeese” or “Dingleberry” or sometimes even “No You Stupid Bastich”) for about six months now. Everyone else has moved on to the next more super powerful pet. So that means that every time we get together as a group, I never hear the end of it.

It’s like this: remember how, when you were a poor kid growing up in the suburbs and all the other kids had Transformers, but you had those suckwad PLASTIC – er, well, CHEAPER plastic toys? The ones that transformed from a car into a piece of unrecognizable plastic? And then never transformed back again? Remember how much you whined and griped at your parents about not having REAL toys, until they took away even the plastic lump, and then you were left with a SOCKformer, which would transform from a sock to a sock puppet?

Well, if you didn’t experience that, I’m probably jealous of you anyway, so we’ll just skip over that piece. But that should give you an idea of what sort of atmosphere I descend into any time I try and get something done with other Necros (and their servants) around…

And what’s up with calling these guys ‘servants,’ anyway? Who came up with that? They’re not servants! They can’t pick up after you, they DON’T bring you food – ewww, and if they DO, then there’s all sorts of BITS floating in it! They don’t do chores, they don’t help out with the yard work – oh, sure, they might risk death facing a monster or five for you, but so what? What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen to them? THEY’LL GET RELEASED FROM YOUR SERVICE, THAT’S WHAT!

That would be like hiring me and telling me that if I got any of the spoons out of the silverware drawer, I’d have to eat your entire freezer full of Ben & Jerrys. Yeah, brilliant plan, there. Sure, sure, they do great work and make us powerful, blah blah blah – but they’re not servants, that’s my point.

I move we start calling them “Whiny Bastiches.” Oh, sure, you THINK they’re there to do all the fighting for me. That’s only because you guys don’t speak undead. If you could understand what these guys spent their entire time bitching about, I assure you, your growth would be stunted, too. It’s amazing how little you can find yourself eating when everyone around you is talking about ‘how to keep your arm from falling off’ or ‘what sort of knot works best at keeping your lower intestines in.’

Yeah, now you know why all of us Inconnu spend all of our lives jealous of how tall dwarves get to be…

Why Road Trips Are Fun

We had a players’ gathering. Well, not ‘we’ so much as ‘they’ – Blackspire Guard, the guild I belong to in DAoC.

Phil’s been telling me about it for months now (he’s one of the Big Giant Heads of the guild). But you know me – so many important things to remember (like wearing pants when I leave the house) that I can’t be bothered to keep track of important dates. That is what my calendar is for!

Death says, “Where is your calendar, by the way?”
You say, “Erm…it was there a minute ago…”

Anyway, I’m not good at keeping up on events. I’ve had the reminder for Kwipette’s birthday tattooed on my forearm to make sure I remember it, in fact. And you don’t even want to know what I do to remember our anniversary…

Anyway, the big day is coming, Phil reminds me twenty times this week. Anson also chimes in with his tiny little voice. Normally I ignore him, but since he’s also gnawing on my ankles quite rabidly, I pay him some attention. He and Tyros are going down Friday night – probably to get in some fun before I can show up and start making fun of them. Or get them all killed, one or the other.

But anyway – Phil reminds me about it, and Darve’s coming along with us, too. Being all part of the guild, see.

Now, a road trip – especially a road trip for a geek event that is less than two hours away – is a fine activity. The Guard has always taken good care of me, and doesn’t even laugh that loudly (anymore) when I get killed in one of my more… unusual… manners. So I’m actually very eager to meet a lot of these people. I don’t play DAoC very often any more, but I still follow along with Guild activities on the boards. I still don’t understand half of what they’re talking about, either, so not much has changed…

Where was I? Oh, yes – Phil has finally reminded me enough that I actually remember and agree to go along. Not having played DAoC much lately, I’m a tad apprehensive, because I doubted too many of the members would remember me. Or, if they did, the only thing they’d remember is my incessant whining about my name change. But I like meeting other geeks on principle, really, because they’re usually a lot of fun.

The one thing I failed to take into account is that in order to be down there in the morning, we’d be leaving Lancaster earlier in the morning. Like, 8am earlier. On a Saturday. I don’t know what your Saturdays consist of, but you can bet that mine involve a healthy dose of attempting to make up for the lack of sleep from the preceding week.

So we can now assume that I am not, by definition, operating in a fully functional mode now. The good part of this is that Kwipette ran to Market for me Friday afternoon and picked up jerky, so I had at least one of my regular companions for the day.

I arrive at Phil’s house unbelievably on time. He and Darve were sitting around discussing the best method of waking me up – whether they should just call over to my place, or drive over with the air horn. So it was a good thing I woke up on my own, I guess.

We load our gear (cameras for them, beef jerky for me) into Phil’s van. Darve goes to his truck to get THE CONTRAPTION, and Phil and I chat briefly as he looks for his phone. I assume that he’s trying to find his cellphone, which I keenly point out to him is clipped to his belt. No, he says, he’s looking for his home phone so that he can “call up to” his wife. I puzzle for this a bit until he explains to me that Mrs. Ian is on the third floor of their home, while he is on the first. So in order to tell her he’s leaving now, he’s going to CALL HER ON THE TELEPHONE TO LET HER KNOW HE IS LEAVING. Before I can even come CLOSE to proper mockery, he cuts me off with a “don’t you dare start!” and makes the long, arduous climb to the heavens to bid his wife goodbye for the day. I asked him if he wanted some Sherpas and pack mules for the trip up, and his response wasn’t really fit to print here.

I then went outside to see if Darve needed any help loading THE CONTRAPTION. Oh, wait – that’s a lie. I actually climbed into the back of the van and tried hard to fall asleep. This was made difficult by the sounds of Darve backing up the 10-ton crane it took to load THE CONTRAPTION into the back of the van.

Well, okay, I exaggerate a little there. But this thing – there was a nitrous tank, some other tank, and a massive cooler. Full of beer. And they were putting it into the back of the van – with me. Before we speculate on that, let me explain a bit: Darve is a home-brewer. He makes some damn fine beer, and several most delicious blends of mead. I’d go into details about what they’re actually called and such, but I don’t really remember what the true names of them are. I’d have to introduce them to you as “Make Me Think I’m a Bug That Tries To Hide The Furniture” Brew and “Leaves Me Comatose For A Week” Ale and the like. So we’ll skip the formalities, if you don’t mind.

This was a contraption, though. Phil expressed some concern over getting stopped by the police with what looked like a small hydrogen bomb in the back of his van. I helped by instantly assuming a Middle-Eastern accent and screaming about “Death to Imperialist Dogs!”

So Phil was already a bit flustered.

We departed and began our happy adventure. After driving for, oh, I dunno – an HOUR, we turned around and went back for the directions. To compensate for Phil’s frayed nerves, I composed the Happy Driving Song on the spot. The lyrics went something like this:

This is the Happy Driving Song,
Won’t you help and sing along!
We’re going to meet the Blackspire Guard
To find our way, we’ll try hard!
Not getting stopped would be nice,
‘Cause we can’t explain The Device!
It looks like a bomb, but never fear,
‘Cause it’s filled with tasty beer!

Phil carefully explained to me he would let go of my throat if I stopped singing. Being the shrewd negotiator that I am, I countered by offering to stop singing only if he let go of my throat AND stopped kicking my groin. He folded, and order was returned to the van. And the van was returned to the garage, so that Phil could run in and get directions. While Phil ran in, I tried to convince Darve how fun it would be if we peed on Phil’s seat. Darve turned this idea down. Some people.

Phil returned and we were off like a prom dress! To celebrate the occasion of our departure, I was about to compose another song, but Phil pointed menacingly to a fork he was carrying and then to my groin. I got the picture.

It was raining hard for the drive. If we had seen an ark cruise by us, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Phil compensated for this by slowing to 90 miles an hour. Which wouldn’t be so bad if Phil had any concept of slowing down, but to Phil there are only two modes of transportation: speeding up and stopping. If someone pulled out in front of us or was foolish enough to slow down to turn, he would compensate by stopping. The idea of going into the other lane to pass them was strange and foreign to him. I mentioned it briefly, but he countered by stating the obvious – there was a yellow line on the road, and if we dared to cross that, special black ops teams would be dispatched to kill our families. I wanted none of that, so I stuck to gripping the back of Darve’s seat and shrieking like a girl any time something got in our way.

We finally made it onto the highway, and that’s where the fun really began. Phil began camping the passing lane. Any cars that spawned there were instantly crushed beneath our tires to the accompanying sounds of Darve’s giggling and my pitiful shrieks from the back seat. At one point I invented a new deity when Phil suddenly noticed a car that had been in the left-hand breakdown lane for quite some time but only now had the decency to come to his attention when we were barely two miles from it. This rude surprise resulted in Phil’s almost cursing, gripping the steering wheel with both hands tighter than my grip on a pint of Ben & Jerry’s at a Richard Simmons camp, and coming THAT close to changing lanes. This new deity I invented was in charge of controlling your bladder in frightening situations, such as being surrounded by pygmy cannibal hordes, grenades landing next to you, Mormons ringing your doorbell, or being in Phil’s van during a downpour on the highway traveling at 100 miles an hour when he notices something that will pass four feet to his left if he doesn’t act quickly!

Some of you might ask why, if Phil is such a frightening driver, we allow ourselves to be transported in such a fashion? Well, the truth is, as terrible and unholy as Phil is as a driver, he is far, FAR worse as a passenger. Remember those episodes of the A-Team where they’d have to sedate Mr. T to get him to ride in an airplane? We have to do the same thing to get Phil to ride along anyplace. And sadly, the A-Team ended far too soon before giving us an opportunity to learn enough clever methods of slipping someone knock-out medicine. Phil now knows all of our methods, so we are forced to stoop to such blasé schemes as shooting him with tasers and stun guns until he goes down. And if you know Clerics, they’re not the sort to take being tasered gently.

The other reason is that Phil’s got a pretty bitchin’ van. And I’m far too lazy to drive that far.

So there we are on the highway, driving sailing through the worst downpour in a hundred years. Darve is in charge of directions, so it’s his job to call out things like, “that turn we just passed was the one you wanted” or “this area’s not on any map we have” or even “Kwip if you ask one more friggin’ time if we’re there yet, I’ll stab you in the throat myself!” We were given a small respite briefly when we crossed through some tunnel – Fort McHenry tunnel or something? It was a long enough break for us to pry Phil’s finger’s off of the steering wheel. He instantly went for my throat, but luckily we emerged back into the deluge and he had to go back to driving sailing.

Unbelievably enough, Yahoo gave us directions that were accurate enough to get us right to Maergain and Jazmyn’s house in only three hours! Although Yahoo said the trip would take us about an hour and 45 minutes, it actually took us closer to two and a half hours. Even with Phil setting the cruise control to 130 miles an hour. Apparently Yahoo doesn’t take into account biblical rains, missed turns and bathroom stops every two miles (yes, I have a little girly bladder, mock away). I’m considering some sort of lawsuit against them for this blatant oversight and obvious discrimination.

But – we arrived! Let me just tell you: if you’re any sort of respectable geek, Maer and Jaz have a home you would kill for. Believe me – if it weren’t for that left hook of Jaz’s and some surprisingly accurate groin shots with a frying pan, I would be writing this from a brand new Casa de Kwiplings.

First is a crafting room from which Jaz constructs costumes that would have any anime fan collapsing on the floor and drooling in catatonic amazement (six foot wings on that costume! With actual raven feathers! RAVEN FEATHERS, for Gord’s sake! I can’t even imagine what it would take to be able to conceive of some of the costumes she put together, let alone the actual skill to do so!). Next to that room is their computer room, with two computers for each of them and a fifth computer that is for – well, I don’t know. But it was a FIFTH computer, that’s the important bit here. And I heard a dirty rumor that they actually have MORE than that, I just didn’t see them… I dunno, maybe they had SkyNet in there. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me.

The living room had big bookshelves with just about every gaming system ever in them – yes, even Call of Cthulhu! I wasn’t allowed near them, though. Apparently, dry-humping a bookshelf full of gaming books is considered rude where they come from. I had to remember I was south of the Mason-Dixon, so new rules might apply.

While we engaged in watching some of the greatest Sci-Fi ever
put to DVD (Treasure Planet), I was working on a plan to
convince Maer & Jaz to adopt me.

Downstairs – oh, be still my beating heart. Look, I’m not by any stretch of the imagination into what people refer to as miniature gaming. But they had an entire room for Warhammer. The walls were done in this cool stone, and then lined with shelves hosting hundreds – perhaps even thousands of miniatures! There were houses, landscapes, temples – and the centerpiece of this room was a massive table that must’ve been captured from some WWII strategy room or something. That thing wouldn’t have looked out of place in a strategic command center – it was like God’s very own Risk board or something. Let me put it this way: that table was bigger than my ass. Yes. By an order of magnitude.

Finally, the entertainment room. It wasn’t a huge room, as these things go. But it had a very respectable-sized tv in it, a kick-ass theater system, and – most importantly – the walls were LINED with great flicks! From about halfway up the wall to the top, there were DVDs and VHS tapes of anything that is worth having. B5! They had the B5 Season: One DVD! And anime? I don’t know anything about anime, but if Ramen (whom I refer to when such a question arises) were present, I believe her exact words would have been “Holy shit!”

Things were starting to go badly when Maer explained the rules
he was going to insist upon for the next gathering, and
rules 1 through 10 were “No Kwip”

Jaz, being the wonder of any household skills imaginable, was already hard at work cooking breakfast for everyone. Pancakes! She was cooking pancakes for people, and she wasn’t even being paid! Not only was she cooking for people, but her and Maer had opened their home up to guests! To sleep at! And not just any guests – they actually let Tyros and Anson sleep over! This was beyond bizarre. I felt like I had stepped through the looking glass into some fantasy world, where geekdom is a respectable hobby and asking someone what level their main is passes as a perfectly normal and acceptable opening conversation piece.

Shad thinks that Anson is looking at the computer. Hee.

I know there are a number of guild members of Blackspire. What I didn’t know is that many of them are completely insane. People arrived there from Canada! That involved flying in a plane to get down here – just to meet their fellow players! And this wasn’t even a sponsored event – nobody was giving away free loot or anything! Let me go one step further into this strange world – not only were there about two dozen of us there, but there were GIRLS there, too! And they were HAWT! At one point, my mind began refusing to process information, being far too overwhelmed by the amount of contradictory statements being thrown at it.

The crowd continued to grow, too. By about 4pm, there were about two dozen of us there, talking, laughing, seeing how high we could make Anson jump with his stubby little legs, eating large amounts of food, drinking…er, actually, I did most of those last two. There was SOOOO much goodness abundant. And then Jaz made that fateful mistake. Nobody knew until it was too late. Kwipette normally takes charge of warning people about this, but she wasn’t around to protect anyone. Phil was off somewhere trying to explain why he STILL wasn’t 50th level, so he couldn’t do anything about it. Nobody else was alert enough to the danger to stop Jaz in time. Before anyone realized it, Jaz had…. she… she…

She baked a cake. A CHOCOLATE cake.

The first warning anyone got was the shuddering of the building as I came charging up the stairs from the entertainment room, nostrils flaring. People were knocked down, I think I trampled Anson – and there, there it was, on the table. It had CHOCOLATE ICING.

You can’t tell here, but my left hand is elbow-deep in
cake goodness. I was just beginning to smear it on my
body when this shot was taken.

Belatedly, some people realized something was wrong. Guild members tried to tackle me. Tranquilizer darts were fired, nets thrown – all of it to no avail. Before anyone could stop me, I had leapt on to the table and was making sweet, sweet love to the chocolate cake. That cake… mmmm… I’m not sure what happened the next couple of hours, as I was in a happy land I like to call, “Chocolate.”

If that wasn’t really horrific enough, someone had brought this incredibly delicious pork loin. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: who brings a pork loin to a cookout?

I’ll tell you who: the Angel of Goodness, that’s who.

 

I’m no expert on loins, pork or otherwise. And frankly, that’s not really a title I’m striving for. But this thing was so incredibly tasty, I can no longer watch a Babe the Pig movie without drooling. There was some sort of seasoning involved, I’m reasonably certain. It might possibly have been crack, it was that addicting. When I got so desperate that I was sniffing the inside of the wrapping it came in, we knew there was a problem…

Finally, we had trashed partied enough at Maer & Jaz’s and moved on to Jillians. For those of you not familiar with such a place, Jillians is like a Dave & Busters. Basically, it’s a huge bar/restaurant/arcade/arcade/arcade. And it’s huge. No, really – HUGE. Look at this map of the place if you don’t believe me. Big, huh?

The thing about this place being huge… Jillians is attached to a massive mall. Also attached to this mall is a 24-screen movie complex. And attached to the whole thing is a parking lot, which I lovingly refer to as “a fucking idiots idea of ‘ample room’.” In a massive entertainment place like this, call me radical, but I’d firmly expect to be able to come and maybe have to park far away. However, I would not expect to have to park on curbs, grass, sidewalks, pedestrians, or other vehicles. All of which we witnessed as we drove around looking for a parking space. Phil finally solved this dilemma by ramming a car out of a spot (and into a car full of nuns, but that’s another story – one that’s currently under investigation, so if anyone asks, we were in California that day, okay?). We then commandeered that spot as our own and even urinated on the lines to mark it.

Inside Jillians…woof. Someday, I really would like to be famous. I’d like people to come up to me and know who I am. I’d like to be surrounded by crowds of people, all eager to meet me.

Jillians was like that, only instead of people knowing who I was, they all thought my name was Ass Face and would address me as such: “Out of the way, Ass Face!” And instead of being eager to meet me, they were actually eager to get as close to me as possible without taking off any of my clothes.

If you don’t know me, well, let me just clarify: I don’t really like crowded places. Or noisy places. Or anyplace where I might get touched by someone I don’t know. Jillians failed on all three points. It was crowded, it was noisy, and it was full of people that would routinely rub their ass against mine and not even excuse themselves. Or tip me.

The best part was that there was another DC Players Gathering going on that I didn’t know about. So there was a small group of Mids there – Mids! – and we rolled up on them 30 thick, yo! I think it was the first time in a long time we’ve ever outnumbered Mids. They were amazingly cool, though. They let us join them at their tables and then we sat around trying to start a fight with any Shadowbane players that might be nearby…

I have to admit at being a bit disappointed in the game selection at Jillians. There were a couple of fun ones – Time Crisis, I think the one is called. But overall, most of their games were these silly racing games that not only did NOT allow you to ram your opponents, but they didn’t even include any machine guns OR missiles! However, there were two things working in Jillians favor: the first was their serving of a toxic substance cleverly disguised as an orange drink. The second was the firemen game. This game consisted of large hoses that you and a friend operated while doing battle with – well, fire. But the amount of peeing jokes you can do in a firefighting game, especially after a dozen orange drinks, is truly staggering. 

The evening there ended with some stirring rounds of a game called Hi-Life (I think?). This is a strange sort of bowling game. You control a bowling ball in a variety of scenes on a massive screen in front of you by rapidly spinning a large ball. Think of one of those track balls, only the size of a bowling ball. The scenes your bowling through include a forest, a busy downtown street – but nothing so mundane as a bowling alley! It’s quite fun. Of course then Shad SOUNDLY trounced me at this quick-draw game, destroying both my ego and my sense of masculinity, all in one foul swoop.

Finally, sadly, horrifically – it was time to go. Oh, we didn’t know it’d be horrific at first; we just thought we’d be facing another long drive home at worse. We said our farewells, hugged and kissed everyone (or tried to – Shad was a little TOO quick with the mace for me), and left for our exciting return trip. Getting out of the parking lot was roughly equivalent to playing a game of Tetris on the 10,000th level. While wearing oven mitts. And being beaten in the face with a mallet. But we finally cut off our last old lady, and out the parking lot we went! Now to get to the highway…

The thing to keep in mind is that we were leaving from a place we did not drive directly to. Most people, when faced with such a decision, would do something silly like, oh, I dunno, look at a map. Or maybe even be so radical as to drive back to the place the drove to in the first place so they could just reverse the directions. Or maybe, just maybe – you’d look at the signs as you left, looking for the highway you wanted to take you back home.

Not us! Phil and Darve felt completely confident that we could make it back with little problem. What I didn’t know is that in their language, “little problem” meant “we don’t know where the hell we’re going and are about to descend to the deepest level of hell, possibly continuing on to New Jersey, before we get desperate enough to actually look at the map.” I didn’t have any idea where we were going either, of course, but my idea consisted of looking for the place we came in at and reversing the directions. Simple. I like simple.

Phil, however, likes complex. Making statements like, “if we keep going this direction, we have to hit the highway SOME time…” he drove us off into the night. Instead of being safe and secure on a highway, we were now on the backwoods of Maryland, which I believe shows up on maps as “Bum Fuck Egypt” When we would come to an intersection, we’d pause for a moment and all stare in quiet horror at the idea of making a turn. I would say “right” and Phil would invariably turn left. This system of navigation was working fine for him. For a bit.

Remember in the beginning of this story (if you can remember back that long ago) when I was talking about the rains of biblical proportions? Well it turns out that once that water hits the ground, it doesn’t just go away like some of us like to believe. No, that water collects with other water, and makes what some people refer to as a “flood.” This, in turn, creates what are known in some areas as “flooded streets.”

We meet these. The first one was just a big puddle across the road that we barely noticed until we hydroplaned across it. The second was a hair deeper – about oh, let’s call it a FOOT to be fair. Finally, we came to the river.

“Dude, we can TOTALLY make that.”

Now the river USED to flow somewhere under the road. I assume there was a bridge under that rushing torrent somewhere. Phil was pretty shaken, muttering something about “never cross running water.” I took this to mean he was actually a vampire, but it turns out he was of the belief that automobiles aren’t really safe when they’re driven across large bodies of water. Especially large bodies of water that have foaming rapids in them.

We took some time to carefully discuss what we should do next. Phil was of the opinion we should turn around. Darve was also of the opinion that we should turn around. I, on the other hand, was of the opinion that they were a couple of big girly-girls, and if they’d only stop being such nancy boys, we could punch the throttle and make the half-mile wide span of river road.

I carefully explained my opinion to my travel mates.

“Well?”
“Well what?”
“Go forward!”
“What? Are you insane? We would never make it across!”
“Bah, don’t be such a wimp! We could make that – I bet it’s barely six inches deep!”

At this point, an ENTIRE TREE – about 100 feet long – floated by in the river road. This shook their resolve a bit.

“…”
“That current washed away a TREE.”
“Wow. Sure did.”
“A giant, huge BIG tree.”
“Yup.”
“And you want us to drive across it.”
“Yes.”
“…care to explain your reasoning?”
“Simple: the tree didn’t have FOUR WHEEL DRIVE, BABY!”

At this point, Darve, our faithful Magellan of the trip, broke down and consulted the map. According to his calculations, if we turned around and took the right (which I told them to in the first place!), we would cross over the highway a few miles up the road.

And you know what? We did cross over the highway! And a few miles after that, we crossed it again!

It appeared that while the highway was perfectly willing to accept the governing of the space-time continuum and appear at regular intervals, it was not at all inclined to have anything even remotely close to an “entrance ramp” sort of relationship with our road. After about the 500th time of crossing over it, Phil finally solved the dilemma by driving down the embankment and creating our very own special entrance ramp. When I attempted to point out the contradiction of nature in his choosing to wantonly defy the massive force of gravity by driving down a vertical embankment, and yet refuse to risk the pathetic pull of a tiny little current, he became defensive and began making vague threats about his boot and certain orifices.

Once we began drawing near Lancaster county, we assumed we were approaching the position some refer to as ‘safe.’ However, Fate likes to laugh as much as the next Incarnation, so played a couple of last-minute tricks on us. First, we drove through a batch of fog that I honestly expected to come through and find Nyarthlotep waiting for us on the other side. And then, just when I had grown accustomed to Phil’s method of driving through the fog (accelerate to 60 mph – brake – accelerate again to 60 mph – brake – etc, etc), he threw a new trick at me.

We safely traversed the fog, so Fate called on her buddy Nature to fire a raccoon across our path. It was about a good mile ahead of us when Phil spotted it and reacted with those lightning reflexes (gained by sitting behind a party in a fight and hitting the “heal group” spell every minute): he stomped on the brakes, shrieked like a little girl, and then firmly planted his feet on the windshield, pulling back on the steering wheel. I’m not sure, but I think Phil’s been playing a bit too much Jumpgate lately. Pulling back on the wheel in that game might have beneficial results there, but in the real world, all it does is deploy your airbag in a vastly humorous fashion and give the smart-ass in the backseat even MORE material to write about.

The raccoon, for those of you wondering, stopped, looked at us, giggled, shook it’s butt a bit, and then leisurely strolled off the road.

All in all, it was a great trip. I had a wonderful time, and it was very cool to finally be able to put faces with names. Er… at least the names of the girls. I remember all of them because, well, they were hot. The guys… I think there was somebody named Maer there, and he possibly owned the house?

If you are interested in the coolness that is Blackspire Guard, stop by and check out www.blackspire.org. You’ll see it hasn’t been updated in about fifty years, and you can then pop over to the forums and heckle Phil a good bit about that. He likes that.

Your Mission: Go Get Me A Drink!

Okay, what Insane Asylum did Funcom raid for these “Guides”? (No no, not the player ones, they’re fine, very helpful. I’m talking about the NPC guides that give you your first few missions.)

Look, I understand that when someone new arrives in your world, there’s only so many things that you can have them do. But if you have only three jobs you can think of for someone to do – and one of them is just doing the first one a few extra times – then either you’re the most unimaginative goombah in the world, you’re brain damaged, or else you’re just lazy. Or some combination thereof.

Really people, if the first thing you can think of to have me do is to go kill some little chipmunk-wannabes, and then the very next assignment is to go kill THREE MORE of the little buggers, you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t think very highly of your imagination. Honestly, would it be a huge stretch of your thinking capacity to have me, I dunno, go wash your car or something? Or geeze, if you’ve got a blood-thirsty chipmunk-killing bend, why not send me after a different type of chipmunk? There’s like fifty of the cursed little buggers running around in here.

And get this: they blare in HUGE, GIANT LETTERS about the threat that these chipmunks are. They carry disease and all this. And they have these big posters up trying to make the chipmunks look ferocious.

Chipmunks. Ferocious. Gimme a break already….

Death says, “Wait a sec, didn’t you get killed by them?”
You say, “Hey man, that was just bad timing – I, uh, was in a fight with a BIG MONSTER before that, and…”
Death says, “No, I remember, you tried to moon one to show how you didn’t think they were a threat…”
You say, “Shut up!”
Death says, “…and then it came up and bit you on the a…”
You say, “QUIET, SLUT!”

As I was saying; they keep telling us how dangerous these critters are. While they’re standing in the middle of about a billion of them.

I mean, hey, you want to wipe out this giant threat, then why don’t you get off your level bajillion butts and do something about it? And even if you don’t want to do anything about it, which clearly marks you as a worthless lazy bastich goombah, then you could at least find something interesting for me to do!

Oh, no, don’t criticise the Guides! They’re doing an important job of telling people to do absolutely worthless tasks! The worst part about this is that these goombahs are working for The Corporation. (Yes, that’s really the name – they pronounce the capital letters, honest.)

Rather ridiculous, really. If you were going to find a job for people in your company, wouldn’t you at least find something worthwhile for them to do? I mean, look at Benny in LA Law. They had all sorts of work for that guy to do. He could photocopy, shred papers – sometimes he mixed the two jobs up, sure, but on the whole, Benny was a productive member of society. Oh, sure, if he was your boss, maybe sometime you’d have to spend the whole day making photocopies – but he wouldn’t have you copying the same thing every time.

So why is it that these knuckleheads are still with the company? Obviously, we have to blame the union. A lot of you guys criticized me when I said I was a company man, but look – if I’m going to work someplace, and I’m forced to have lunatics like this guide above me, would you want a union rep around telling you that it was wrong – heck, maybe even illegal to shoot stupid people in the face? Of course you wouldn’t! Or at least you’d want to shoot the idiot AND the union rep.

Umm….little disclaimer here, people: before you contact your Union ‘lawyers’ named Guido and Nunzio to dispute the slanderous statements I made about your Union, please note that I’m talking about the Unions on Rubi-Ka, not any here on Earth.

So, uh, put down the .44 magnum ‘lawsuit’, please?