Category Archives: Roleplay Stories

Guild Wars 2 Writing And Immersion: Superb

I’ve played Guild Wars 2 for one week now, and I continue to be impressed every day. I’ve played my usual, same-old MMO for so long that I’d forgotten how real fun felt.

Today I went on a guided history tour in the human capital city (Divinity’s Reach.) I took the opportunity to get my “walk” hotkey set up and learned some things about Kryta political history.

I also realized that the Asian looks in the character creator are explained by Cantha, which was a GW1 expansion after I quit playing it. Kryta is a melting pot situation.

I really, really like the character naming setup in GW2. You’re allowed multiple names with spaces. So if “Robert” is taken, you can try “Sir Robert” or “Robert Ross” or “Sir Robert Of Beartown”. This scheme is a boon for roleplaying.

Maybe you want to be a monk, so you’ll want “Brother Robert” or something. The hard part is trying to determine whether the honorific “Sir” is even appropriate, or if it’s supposed to be “Ser”, or if you should be a “Chief Engineer” or “Mistress” depending on your race, or just skip the whole thing because it’s too pretentious and isn’t you.

I’m so impressed by the game writing. GW2 delivers a starting story that is personal, and reasons to defend that beseiged city, explained in a way that is believable. You get a feeling that things are at stake, at risk.

Other games I’ve posted about lately (i.e. Secret World and Neverwinter) failed to provide you with a friend in the game, a “Smiling Jack”, someone to make you feel welcome and give you a connection. Some of the GW2 races start you right off with selecting a friend or sibling that will play a part in your story.

Human characters also select a deity. Unlike Neverwinter, which (iirc from beta, it may be different or changed) only describes the deities and lets you pick one, the GW2 writing makes it personal through the writing.

For example: “Melandru … can be found in every harvest and every flower. She smiles upon those, like me, who have an affinity for animals. I am a follower of Melandru.” Personal. This works.

I’m not far into the personal story plots, but so far with two races, I’ve noticed a classic pattern of writing good fiction, as described and recommended by Jack Bickham et. al.:

  • Hero has a goal.
  • Hero fails to achieve goal, suffering a setback.
  • Hero has to come up with another plan.
  • Another setback; the stakes get higher and higher.

My new character, Shar Katzdottir, is a half-Norn, a bastard daughter of a Norn fortune-teller who spread her stockinged cards during hard times for a wealthy Elonian. Shar killed another client who made her mother disappear. She fled the city and lived in the Kryta wild for a time, learning intuitively the ways of her Norn heritage and communing with the cats as a Ranger.

When Shar dared return to the city out of loneliness, she lived on the streets until she befriended Quinn, who gave her a bed to sleep in. “This is her story” as the GW2 writing says. This is good writing with a brilliant economy of style. I’m looking forward to more.

In other news:

In other news, the CCP Eve Fanfest was last week, and they revealed some World of Darkness things. WoD News is the best source of info. Politics. Backstabbing. Fashion, and some sort of follower crafting system maybe like TOR. You’re a vampire queen. You don’t want to darn stockings or do embroidery.

The names Edward and Bella were also announced to be banned. CCP has a modest team of 70 people on WoD now, and the release won’t be before 2015. This makes fang-banging kitties a little sad. For perspective, Blizzard’s new MMO, the “Titan” project, has 150 people on it now, per rumors.

We are expected to hear more about Blizzard’s Titan this year, which is slated to test in 2014, and possibly release. The best current situation sum-up I’ve seen is over at Titan Focus.

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In Her Bed She Was Laying (LotRO Fiction)

Jarnath whirled at the crunching sound behind him, but it was nothing–only a squirrel shooting up the black bole of the nearby tree. Garl chuckled at him.

“Easy, young one,” Garl said. “Enemies rarely come to Dannenglor anymore.”

Jarnath nodded, but he wasn’t sure if he could trust the wisdom of Garl, his guard-partner. Garl was a veteran Morvul-guard who had survived the attacks of many elves at the gates of Dannenglor by flopping and pretending to be dead–or so the rumors went among the Morroval women.

Jarnath ruffled his wings and turned so Garl couldn’t see the expression on his face. If enemies attacked and Garl feigned death, leaving him to die by sword and fire, he had no plans to be so cowardly.

The mistresses forgave Garl because he was clever and good in their beds, but it was the job of the Morvul-guards to serve the women and do as they bid. The women had bid him guard the gate, so he would guard the gate from elves and all other attackers until their arrows pierced through his last dying breath.

What did Fenrah think about his new job guarding the gate? Was she worried for him? Did she even know that he was risking his life and limb to protect Dannenglor from being retaken by its residents of old? Jarnath sighed. Fenrah was so incredibly beautiful. He would love her forever, even if she scorned his love, and he died inside. He just wished he knew why.

He didn’t understand, but in his heart, he tried each day to forgive her. Perhaps such was the fate of any man who fell madly in love with a cruel pain-singer. Perhaps he had done something foolish in allowing Beyah to court him, but he had no choice. No Morvul could say no to a Morroval who wanted him.

Perhaps it was only Fenrah’s shag nath. The women always became tempestuous and more vicious when they endured their shag nath, but for three weeks Fenrah hadn’t even allowed him to see her in the aeries of the upper city. She had cut him off completely.

Jarnath flexed his claws. He almost wished someone would try to attack Dannenglor that day. It would at least allow him to relieve his anger. The scamper of feet on the path behind him roused him from his reverie. He swiveled and crouched, ready for combat, but it was only Beyah. She’d evidently come down from the upper city to see him at his post.

“You honor me, Mistress,” he offered hesitantly. He bowed to his occasional lover of the past several months–his only lover since Fenrah had begun to spurn his attention.

Beyah was a slender, wise, older Morroval. Her face was wrinkled around her eyes, and her black wings ended in brown tips. She was a fierce fighter, attractive, and much-admired among the older Morvul men. Beyah was covetous and liked to acquire things–jewels, trinkets, and younger men. She wasn’t the woman he loved, but he knew he should feel lucky for her attentions.

“Come,” Beyah rasped. “Over here to this sward, Jar. We’ll look down the hill for a while and scout for approaching enemies.”

Jarnath nodded obediently and allowed Beya to seize his hand and lead him. He wouldn’t dare argue with her, even if it meant trouble because he’d left his post. He looked over his shoulder at Garl, who grinned and flexed his arms mightily.

Garl understood. Even a Morvul-guard could not argue with a direct command from one of the female elders. Garl would need to hold the gate alone for a short while.

The sward on the hill was soft and mossy–the perfect place for a romantic encounter, offering a beautiful view of the ruined city of Audaghaim and the misty valleys of Mirkwood below. Jarnath looked back across the forest with a slight feeling of embarrassment.

He and Beyah were still well within view of Garl’s keen eyes, and worse yet, Beyah was a shrieker. Her cries would echo across the forest for all to hear, unlike in the muffled, close, cloistered stone room where they normally met in the depths of Dannenglor.

Jarnath gasped when Beya jerked him down. She enfolded him with her wing and hissed softly. Her lips brushed his ear, sending a thrill down his spine. She pulled away abruptly, however, leaving red scratches across his arm. A frown etched Beyah’s face.

“No. I can’t do this. Not today.”

Jarnath frowned. “Why not? My pleasure is yours, as always. Have I done something to offend?”

Beya looked away down the hill across Mirkwood. “Fenrah is laying in her bed right now. She is waiting for you. I told her I would bring you the message, but I was conflicted over doing it. I want you for myself.”

“Fenrah is laying in her bed, and she wants to see me?”

“That’s what I said, Jar. Have you gone deaf?” Beyah didn’t meet his eyes. “I will help Garl guard the gate while you go to the upper city.”

Jarnath felt his heart pound in his chest. He rose up and dashed across the forest past Garl and into Dannenglor. He ducked under a flitting ruins bat and ran up through the city, ignoring the suspicious looks of the Morroval mistresses who were engaged in quiet conversation or meditation. He found Fenrah in her sleeping niche just as Beyah had promised.

“You wanted to see me?” he said breathlessly.

“Come here, my love. I’ve missed you.” Fenrah smiled at him. Against her belly rested a smooth, wet-looking egg, near the size of a head. Jarnath blinked in shock. He went down on his knees and crawled into the bed. He cautiously slid against Fenrah with the egg between them. The egg was warm against his hip.

“This is yours?”

Fenrah nodded. “Ours. I just laid it a few minutes ago.”

Jarnath felt his heart skip a beat. He caressed the egg with his fingertip. It was so amazing to think that such a thing had emerged from inside of Fenrah. Would their child be a Morvul son, blessed with the sacred task of serving the women, or would she be a daughter, a glorious and beautiful little Fenrah?

Fenrah leaned, kissed him, and stretched her wing over him. Jarnath met her kiss full-on and returned the intimate embrace. He was so happy–happier than he’d ever been in his life. His true love smelled so good and sweet–like cinnamon, feathers, and fine-woven linen cloths stolen from the Mirkwood elves.


[RP-Story] Interview With A Gnome

The Stonefire was almost empty at the midday hour. Fane drummed her fingers on the low, greasy slab of wood that passed for a table in the dwarven city of Ironforge. It wasn’t a place she normally frequented, but she needed new blood–specifically a skilled, key member in the guild who could work with magical energies.

The worgen and the druids were fine and helpful, but they weren’t much for research. She needed a real genius–someone who preferred a workbench instead of a mountain path or a fishing hole. She needed a solid, sensible gnome who didn’t mind getting her fingers dirty.

She’d spoken to a gnome in charge in Tinker Town, and he’d directed her to a bulletin board. She’d posted a notice and waited in the tavern for six hours. She’d endured the odor of the belching Worgen in the corner. She’d sat at an angle to avoid planting her hooves in the sticky patch on the floor.

Fane pushed her cup away. She was done.

A gnome girl was entering the tavern in that moment, but she appeared to be an Ironforge sanitation worker, not a scientist. She was a scraggly thing dragging a backpack that was as big as she was. Fane brushed past, but hesitated when she felt the tug on her skirt.

“You the Draenei?” the gnome girl said. “I’m looking for work.”

Fane sighed. “I need someone with skills and experience.”

“I’ve got experience,” the gnome said, biting her lip kind of sideways. “Try me.”

“Very well.” Fane felt the urge to knee the gnome aside for grabbing her skirt, but she pivoted and retook her place at the table instead, smoothing over her tension with a wave of conscious patience. A rude, crude environment was no excuse to turn rude and crude. The tragedies of Draenor and her warlock-corrupted people had taught her that much.

The dark-haired gnome girl tossed her backpack up onto the table, propped her mage staff against the wall, and climbed into the chair. The backpack was festooned with smaller pouches. It was a typical gnomish storage contraption cobbled together with tin snaps and ratty leather bindings.

“I’m Ghost,” the gnome girl said matter-of-factly. “It’s not my real name. It’s my super-gnome name, because I’m going to be great someday.”

“Wonderful,” Fane said. She tried to smile politely, even as the interview took an immediate turn for the worst. She needed a sensible gnome, not one of those gnomes with delusions of grandeur. “My name is Fane. I’m really looking for someone who is sensible and hard-working to assist me with my research. Do you understand what the Fadeleaf Society does?”

“Not really,” Ghost answered. “Your writing was a bit loopy.”

“We research the magical properties and uses of plants far beyond the realm of mere potions. I myself work with directly with enchantment. My Night Elf partner Portiah is taking an archaeological and alchemical angle, trying to recover wisdom held by the Highborne elves since before the sundering. Both of us use complex distillation apparatuses that you might be interested in. You’re an engineer, I would hope, as well as a mage?”

Ghost fidgeted. “Uh, well–no. Neither. I was born with a wrench in my hand, but right now my engineering card is revoked. I’m trying to get it back.”

Fane blinked. “Why did they revoke your card?”

“Well, I’m doing this research into demons, and–”

“Ok, that’s fine. I think we’re done here.” Fane felt her jaw clench. It was a visceral reaction that she always had when she even heard the word demon. She rose from the table, but the gnome girl threw herself bodily across the scarred wood table and grabbed her hand. The gnome girl’s hand was sweaty, dirty, and peculiarly warm, as if a hidden heat swirled under her skin.

Please listen to me. Please? No one will listen!”

Fane took a deep breath and eyed the drunk worgen in the corner, who snuffled and looked back at her, his eyes bloodshot. The gnome girl’s eyes were wide and bleary too, wearing a quiet desperation. Fane settled back into her chair. Her spine tingled when the gnome’s hand slipped from hers. “Speak then. I’m listening.”

“I figured out a way to bind demons using electromagnetic coils,” Ghost said, her words falling over each other as she gestured agitatedly. “It happened when an imp got loose in Tinker Town, and no one wanted to touch it, but I had this flux conductor handy and I smacked it, and it started to behave all strange, and I was thinking the big problem with robots is they need fuel cells, and they’re also highly susceptible to heat and cold. Demons are resistant, and they supply their own energy.”

“They are definitely resistant.”

“So being an enterprising engineer, I worked on the imp in secret until I could control it completely just like a robot. But when I revealed my findings to the high tinker, I was banned from practicing engineering ever again! They won’t even train me! I actually started calling myself Ghost because they act like I’m invisible down there now. You know–in T-town.”

“Fascinating,” Fane said. “Maybe you just shouldn’t have been working with demons. You are aware–”

“I have it completely under control,” Ghost blurted. “But no one believes me. This could be a really important discovery, because I think I might be able to influence elementals too with the electro-conductive harnessing I’ve developed. I’m not corrupted. Gnomes don’t get corrupted. We’re resistant to magical energy, which just means it flows through us better without sticking to us. So, I was reading in your note on the T-town bulletin board that your organization is working on fringe research too–”

“It isn’t fringe.” Fane avoided the gnome’s eyes. It was true that many in the Exodar considered her a crackpot, least of all because she was working with a former Death Knight and employing worgen to do her grunt work. Fane took a deep breath. Just thinking about the worgen reminded her of why she’d wanted gnomes in the first place.

The gnome girl would work for almost nothing, and she was no less eccentric than any of the other Fadeleaf Society members, who all valued a low profile. Fane considered the permutations and the dangers of keeping her friends close and her enemies closer. Which was Ghost? Was the gnome unwittingly working for the enemies of Azeroth, or were her claims of demon-control through engineering legitimate?

“I’m good with plants too.” Ghost lifted her hand to her mouth and nibbled on her fingernail. “I grind them to make inks for my schematics, and the demons prefer to communicate with me that way too–in writing. I’m kind of short on plants, actually.”

“Do you have any friends, Ghost?” Fane said. “Anyone close? Anyone you’re working with, perhaps in secret?”

Ghost swallowed and blushed. “I…I have a gnome friend. She’s a mage, but she isn’t serious about research like I am. We’ve been traveling together. We sleep in a folding tent that I sewed together myself.”

Fane nodded and looked once again into Ghost’s blue eyes, past the faint shadow of the grease smudge on the bridge of the gnome’s nose. She thought she understood then where the psychic warmth in Ghost’s hand had come from, and it wasn’t from consorting with demons. Ghost thought she was pretty. That sealed the deal.

“I’d like to extend you a junior member status in the Fadeleaf Society,” Fane said. “Your friend may join too if she wishes. Cali is a druid friend of Portiah’s who supplies us with raw materials. Just let her know what you need. You’ll see her at the meeting next week.”