March 23, 2006

Fun things to do with soul shards.

It's come to my attention that some of my warlock peers (as though any of them were worthy of being my peers) have been complaining about their soul shards. They complain that soul shards take up too much bag space. They complain that they're too hard to get. They complain that... I don't know... they're too purple.

Now make no mistake, these crybabies are giving warlocks a bad name with their blubbering, and they all deserve to be sold into the Steamwheedle slave trade as far as I'm concerned. And before you start to protest that the Cartel doesn't have a slave trade, let me point this out: the goblins are richer than you, smarter than you, and probably better looking. Of course they have a slave trade. As a slaver myself I salute them for it, but now I'm getting off topic.

Anyway, I am going to bestow upon my demon-lashing bretheren a fraction of my infinite generosity, and offer a short list of fun things one can do with one's soul shards:

  • Make jewelery. This one sounds pretty unimaginative, but I guess I just have a soft spot for pretty things. Stringing together a family of murlocs into a handsome necklace is much cheaper than buying up a bunch of golden pearls for the same purpose.
  • Convince humans they're magic beans. Humans are naturally stupid, and a lot of the new adventurer types you run across have worked on some gods-forsaken farm in Westfall all their lives. The world of magic and enchantment is new to them, so they're easily fooled. You haven't lived until you've seen Random Warrior #429 try to take a big bite out of what used to be a Defias Knuckleduster.
  • Skip them across a lake. This works especially well with things like fire elementals, since the trapped soul now has to live the rest of its torturous eternity submerged in water.
  • Summon random people. You'd be surprised how easy it can be to invite some random guy to join your group and then summon him into a firbog camp or off the side of a cliff. If that isn't the very definition of fun, I have no idea what is.
  • Hide them under the mattress at the inn. Little known fact about soul shards is that they give off very faint noises, just on the edge of mortal perception. This will either manifest as humming, wailing, sobbing... it depends on what kind of lame creature you've got trapped inside. Anyway, this can be used to seriously creep people out because they're never quite sure they've heard anything, but at the same time they haven't been able to get a wink of sleep. Bonus points if you manage to drive someone mad!
  • Beat your demons into submission. Demon-slaves are already pretty submissive, but if you ever catch them acting up, keep in mind that your 24-slot Felcloth Bag has some bulk to it when it's completely full... perfectly suited to cracking an uncooperative imp upside the head a few times. That'll learn 'em.
  • Convince humans they're suppositories. This works like the magic bean suggestion above, but with far more hilarious results.
  • Use them as caltrops. You know those irritating naked night elf girls that like to dance en masse in front of the mailbox while you're trying to send out this week's extortion letters? Throw a handful of soul shards at their bare feet. You need more than tweezers to pull a sliver of demonic glass out of your heel.
And on the subject of Drain Soul: keep in mind it's a really humiliating way to die. The other day I killed some idiot rogue with Drain Soul, and his friends laughed at him so hard they didn't even notice when my imp and I proceeded to murder them one by one with fireballs. Then I planted the soul shard in Teldrassil; I'm hoping it grows into a rogue tree that I can harvest for my personal use.

March 17, 2006

Quit whining and get a job.

I kid you not, I used to pick flowers for a living. Being a beautiful and talented warlock can put quite a damper on the pockets some days, and being low on funds is a situation no gnome worth her salt can withstand. So I would run circles around Redridge Mountains or Stranglethorn Vale hunting herbs and weeds and vines, happily collecting them in bags while my demon-slaves and/or teammates covered my back by allowing themselves to be mauled by tigers. Then I would sell everything off to lazy alchemists and spend the profts on a new pet or a pretty robe or something.

That's a pretty good way to sustain yourself, I guess, but I simply couldn't accept being average like everyone else. I had to be better. Well, I mean, I already am better than most people, because they're not warlock-y enough. In this case, what I mean is, I wanted to be way, way richer than the poor schlubs who pick flowers or break up rocks or skin donkeys for a living. I had to find a way to stop working for money, and start making my money work for me.

I am happy to say that now, not only am I filthy rich, but people are starting to take notice of my fabulous business sense. Like the scam I pulled the other day, where some slob wasn't paying attention to his stupid self, and listed like eight pounds of core leather for just over 16 gold. Now, of course a pretty young lady like myself with perfect fashion sense is used to seeing knock-offs in store windows, so my natural response was that this was some kind of cheap, mass-produced product and not genuine core leather. So I asked the auction-elf about it, and he confirmed that it was the genuine article. I know he wasn't lying to me because I had Kal'rath dangle him by his ankle off the roof of the auction house before I asked.

So I snap up this stack of nasty animal skin and re-list each pound at its actual market price. An expected return on this investment was over ten times what I had paid, so I was sitting pretty to be a happy warlock indeed. And holy baloney did it ever sell fast; so fast, in fact, that some boner actually asked me to cancel the auctions and sell him the stuff under the table, because he was afraid they'd all be gone before he could raise funds to bid on them himself.

And then the angry letter! Oh man, this is my favorite part. The schmuck who originally listed the auction sent me a nasty note, blubbering about how he accidentially set the price of his leather too low, that he meant 160 gold, not 16, and that I owed him the difference. I tell you, if I weren't a registered card-carrying member of the Alliance (for tax purposes only I assure you) I would have hunted the dolt down and cut his knees off. I sent him one silver, enough for him to go out and get a clue, and laughed my way to the bank.

In the end, I guess it's not enough to just be rich, after all; only by making my gold by preying on the idiocy and gullibility of others can I be truly secure in my business practices. Scamming people out of their mispriced auctions or just blatant lack of market knowledge is just one of the many, many ways I twist the denizens of Azeroth to do my bidding.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go pay some dwarf 50 gold to shave off his beard and make me a pair of slippers with it, for no reason other than I have the money to blow.

March 10, 2006

A visual tour of Darnassus.

As an entire race of purple floppy-eared elves have known for years, there's only one city in Alliance territory worth kicking up your feet, and that's Darnassus. The great tree beats the sweltering depths of Ironforge or the plague-ridden streets of Stormwind any-dang-day. Of course, until they opened up the auction house there recently most folks stayed far away from Darnassus, complaining it's too far away or somesuch rubbish. But, since more and more of you people are starting to pop in, confused that the "streets" aren't criss-crossed with inexplicable netted pits or oily sewage lines, I will take it upon my gracious self to offer this tour of the greatest city in Azeroth.

This is the portal leading to Darnassus, located in Rut'theran Village. Since there are no instances, epic loot or battlegrounds in Teldrassil, I'm going to go ahead and assume you have no idea how to get here. What you want to do is fly to Menethil Harbor, catch the boat to Auberdine, and from there catch the connecting boat to Rut'theran. Now, walking through that glowing pillar of light is like being momentarily engulfed in warm gelatin, which is to say unbelievably awesome. One day someone is going to figure out a way to make sensual underwear out of the same material as that portal, and that person will have found his fortune.

After coming through the portal you'll arrive at this bear-shaped tree. Since this is where the bank and the mailbox are, this is unfortunately all of Darnassus most people care to see. The great thing about the Darnassus bank as opposed to Stormwind or Ironforge is that you can jump the counter and just wallow around in the piles and piles of gold if you want. I'm pretty sure the banker-elves would get mad if you tried to keep any, though, so don't get any bright ideas. I wonder how they know whose items are whose, the way they just keep them all piled up like that. Oh man, one time I paid this silly human a gold to get a running start and dive headlong into the piles, and he impaled his forehead on someone's spear. You just don't get that kind of entertainment in that stuffy Ironforge vault.

Once you guys get it through your thick heads how awesome Darnassus is and finally decide to bind your Hearthstones here, this is where you'll be popping up into town. The inn has only a single bed, but if you want to curl up in bed locked up in a house somewhere you're kind of missing the whole point of Darnassus. And don't worry, even if you Hearthstone in you still get to go through that warm, squishy, pink portal since the hippogryph master is out in Rut'theran.

This is a statue of some night elf broad in the Temple of the Moon. In my opinion they should replace it with a statue of me, but I guess then it wouldn't be tall enough to look impressive. Anyway the temple is a cool place to hang out and just enjoy life for a while, but the elves get a little pissy if you try to fish in the pool here.

This chick Jaeana just wanders around the joint selling meat... which is weird because I figured night elves were vegetarians. Then again, they do live in a big ol' tree, so maybe they view plant-eating as a form of cannibalism. If that's the case, it means night elves are strict carnivores, which makes them pretty awesome I guess. Anyway, Jaeana will deep fry anything on her menu for an extra six silver, so you should definately check her out.

I know, I know. A dwarf in Darnassus is as out of place as a cockroach on a wedding cake (which is how wedding cakes in the Undercity are prepared, I understand). Still, this guy's pretty helpful because he lets me restock my missing soul shards without ever having to leave Darnassus. Just sign up to bust some Horde chops, suck a few souls into my bag, and I'm good to go. Kind of a warlock drive-thru, really. Saves me a trip to Felwood or Winterspring in any case, which is cool, because Everlook totally sucks compared to Darnassus.

Darnassus is full of fun critters to play with: squirrels, frogs, and the occassional deer. Nothing cute or fluffy would ever go near Ironforge, and I'm pretty sure there's a lousy kid in Stormwind who's been caging them, spray-painting them and passing them off as white kittens. Anyway, don't think I'm getting all worked up over some animals like some kind of pansy druid -- everyone knows these little guys are just for target practice. Or Rain of Fire practice. Whatever floats your boat.

I don't want to hear about the strength of Ironforge guards or the valor of Stormwind knights -- the night elves have giant walking trees that will stomp you into the ground. This has got to be the absolute best security measure in Azeroth. This one time some troll clown thought it would be fun to sneak into Darnassus, but the giant tree monster wasn't having any of that. Stomped the troll squishy-flat, and then scraped him off against a bannister just the way you'd do if you stepped in a wad of gum. It was pretty much the most awesome thing I've ever seen, and the troll was still not-quite-dead enough for me to Immolate him and get an honorable kill. I think I'll start a giant tree monster fanclub.

...and just when you thought Darnassus couldn't get any greater, WHAM! Two-story auction house. Wheeling and dealing with a view. You just don't get service like that anywhere else! Except maybe Booty Bay, but the only thing you can ever find there are torn pages from the Green Hills of Stranglethorn, which quite frankly is so riddled with plot holes I'm surprised it's so popular.

This is my favorite spot in the entire city: a branch of the world tree overlooking the Veiled Sea, about a mile up. I bet this is the quietest spot in all of Kalimdor... unless I decide to summon my imp and kick him off the side, in which case the air fills up with his screams of demonic gibberish.

An oft-overlooked class, in my opinion, is that of the noble ditch digger. I think most night elves can aspire to no greater, personally. Ditch diggers don't have to worry about raids or talent trees or mana or anything, they just dig holes. There's a metaphor for life in there somewhere, and I'm sure the ditch digger could find it with his hours of solitary contemplation. I've got more important things to do, like wand squirrels to death, so I'm not going to worry about it anymore.

Our tour concludes with this beautiful shot of the Teldrassil waterfall. You just know that if such natural beauty were found in Stormwind they'd put a barricade around it for the "safety" of the idiot tourists who don't know enough to not fall to their hideous splattery deaths. And you'd have pudgy human children tossing copper coins over it making wishes. I'd recommend tossing pudgy human children over the waterfall to make wishes instead, but if someone's flinging kids over the falls that means my wishes have already come true.

March 7, 2006

Application for Ritual of Summoning.

Submitted for your approval: a contract to be filled out before I will agree to cast Ritual of Summoning for you. Hopefully you'll find it so obtuse and complicated that you people will stop bothering me for summons.

Application for Ritual of Summoning

For purposes of this document I, Crystalis the warlock, shall be referred to as the "summoner" and you, the lazy slob who is afraid of gryphons, shall be referred to as the "summonee".

I. Obligations of the Summoner

It is to be understood that the summoner has no obligation whatsoever to cast Ritual of Summoning for the summonee's benefit, and may decline the request for any reason or no reason at all, as she deems necessary. A heightened sense of obligation may be enacted for special persons such as guild subordinates, personal friends or newly acquired party members who are a long distance from the team, however this is in no way guaranteed. The summoner reserves the right to ignore the request of the summonee, mock it, or accept it as she deems fit.

II. Requirements of Ritual of Summoning

Included for the benefit of the summonee are the following requirements, in ascending order of expense, all of which must be met before the spell can be successful. If the summoner is unable or unwilling to meet any of these requirements for any reason the spell cannot be cast.

A. Mana Expenditure

The spell requires three hundred (300) mana to be paid from the summoner's personal mana pool, a cost which may or may not be negligable given various circumstances including how much mana the summoner has left, how much health she has left (for purposes of Life Tap), how much mana her demon has left (for purposes of Dark Pact), and whether or not more important spells (such as Demon Armor) need to be cast. If the summoner must partake of consumable items such as Greater Mana Potions or Morning Glory Dew in order to meet the mana requirement of the spell, the material cost of such items becomes the responsibility of the summonee, and will be added to the total cost of the summoning.

B. Casting Time

The spell requires five (5) seconds of uninterrupted concentration, a condition that may or may not be possible at any given moment, subjected to variables such as (but not limited to) the summoner's current location, whether or not she is traveling and whether or not she is in combat.

C. Soul Shard Expenditure

The spell requires the use of one (1) Soul Shard from the summoner's personal supply. This item is absolutely non-refundable and it may or may not be practical at any given time to consume one for this purpose, subject to variables such as the summoner's current supply, her proximity to creatures which may or may not yeild Soul Shards when killed, the difficulty of slaying said creatures, and whether or not more pressing uses for her Soul Shards are at hand (including but not limited to summoning demons, Healthstones and Soulstones).

D. Party Assistance

The spell requires two (2) additional assistants, who must be in the summoner's current party and must be in her immediate proximity to aid in channeling the spell. If the summoner is alone or with only one other person she may or may not be willing to locate the required number of people to successfully complete the spell.

III. Obligations of the Summonee

The summonee is subject to the following non-negotiable obligations, which may or may not be waived by the summoner and only by the summoner, at her whim.

A. Prerequisite Travel

As the summoner cannot use Ritual of Summoning in all locations and for all purposes, it is the responsibility of the summonee to travel to a location from which he can be successfully summoned. For example, if the summoner is currently inside an instance, it is the responsibility of the summonee to travel inside the instance in order to be summoned.

B. Acceptance of Party Invitation

The summonee agrees to temporarily become a member of the summoners party, even if this means the summonee must first disband his own group. This is not to be seen as an invitation on behalf of the summoner or her party for the summonee to remain with said party, or an offer of any kind to help the summonee to accomplish his tasks in the area to which he is summoned. The summoner's party leader (or the summoner herself, if she happens to be party leader) reserves the right to eject the summonee from the party for any reason or no reason at all. If this happens before payment is received, it is the responsiblity of the summonee to remit payment immediately.

C. Payment

At the point during casting where the summoner's Soul Shard is consumed by the spell, it becomes the responsibility of the summonee to remit upon arrival three (3) pieces of gold to the summoner as payment for her services. The summoner will negotiate with her assistants beforehand to determine what payment, if any, they will require for their part in the spell. If the spell is unsuccessful for any reason, but the summonee still wishes to be summoned, subsequent attempts may be made at the cost of one (1) piece of gold per attempt.

D. Acceptance of Summoning

Upon successful completion of the spell, the summonee will be prompted one final time to accept the spell and be summoned to the summoner's location. Please note that by this time the summoner has already cast the spell and consumed one (1) Soul Shard, so if the summonee chooses at this point not to accept the one-way summon, payment as agreed above must still be remitted immediately. In these cases it is the summonee's responsibility to find a mailbox as swiftly as possible and send the payment required to the summoner, along with a written apology for wasting the summoner's valuable time.

IV. Associated Dangers

The summonee should be warned that there exist certain dangers in being summoned. Any and all items, articles of clothing, body parts, or any other objects lost due to the nature of the summoning are considered lost and are not the fault of the summoner. Such articles that are located at a later date become the sole property of the summoner.

In exceptional circumstances the summoner may choose to play practical jokes on the unsuspecting summonee, as she deems necessary. This includes but is not limited to enacting the spell while surrounded by creatures of much higher level than the summonee, targeting the summoning in such a way that the summonee plunges off of a cliff, or placing the summonee in full view of hostile Horde. If the joke is sufficiently entertaining for the summoner she may or may not choose to waive payment above, subject to whether or not she believes the summonee has suffered sufficiently.

V. Closing

I, the summonee, agree to the above terms and conditions, and that those terms and conditions are subject to change on short notice or without any notice at all. I hereby waive any responsibility on part of the summoner should the spell cause me any harm, physical or mental, in any way. I understand that should I choose to bilk on the payment after receiving my summoning that the summoner has every right to have me hunted down and brutally assaulted by crowbar-weilding dwarves and/or tauren.

(sign here)

There. I think that ought to do it. I'm going to make copies of this application and start handing them out to every warlock I come across. Maybe if we unionize we'll be able to cross Desolace or Tanaris in peace without being flagged down by some warrior who is too lazy to catch a boat.

March 6, 2006

Gnomeregan - let the troggs have it.

Like all good litle gnomes, I was supposed to grow up to be a rocket scientist or a clockmaker or something. Apparently a lifetime of inhaling black smoke and forever smelling like grease is some kind of gnome legacy I was supposed to live up to. Well forget that. In the end it boils down like this: machines break, magic doesn't. Tools are heavy, soul shards weigh about three ounces each. And while magic has played an up-front and important part in just about every world-changing event in the history of Azeroth, nobody's ever managed to do anything super-cool with machines. I mean, check out he Maelstrom next time pass by on your way to Booty Bay. I guarantee you that wasn't caused by a stick of EZ-Thro Dynamite.

A lot of you guys have probably been through Gnomeregan by now. It's basically a big underground maze full of haywire gizmos and, of course, lots and lots of troggs. It's foul. And it's noisy. And it's dark. There's a reason gnomes keep mechanical squirrels for pets and ride around on those clockwork chickens; nothing living would willingly stay in Gnomeregan for any length of time. Even before the place was ransacked by monsters, there was nothing there with any beauty or value.

I was in Darnassus when the place was overrun, pricing apartments. Night elves are creepy, but at least they know how to live. Color, fresh air, silence... these things are in short supply back in the mountain. It was nice to live in a place that wouldn't randomly explode every couple of weeks.

I didn't go back to Dun Morogh until I was ready for my first few levels of formal warlock training. While I was running around getting accustomed to my new imp (by repeatedly sending him off to be butchered by wolves and yeti) I ran into a bunch of gnomes who had since taken up residence in Ironforge. "It's a shame," they'd say, looking towards Gnomeregan with a sigh, "what with the troggs running the place now."

"Yeah," I'd reply, "but at least now it doesn't smell like industrial waste and battery acid."

My greatest fantasy is that those troggs will find some way into Ironforge too. They can have that whole hellish mountain as far as I'm concerned. Anyone who would willingly live in a lava-filled rock deserves to be eaten by mutants.

March 2, 2006

My voidwalker is a wuss.

I'm told that lesser mortals need to form teams in order to get anything done. Like someone will get a quest to run up into Redridge Mountains and murder a flock of gnolls, and instead of just getting their act together and taking care of it, they enlist the aid of three or four other nobodies to help out. It's just a big fat unnecessary circlejerk as far as I'm concerned. Anyway, it's the job of someone on this so-called team to tank. Now, what the tank does is stands in one place getting molested by monsters while more productive members of the team stand back launching arrows and fireballs. And as it turns out, we warlocks eventually get our very own personal tank: the voidwalker.

So there I was, a young, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed warlock, and the guy in Stormwind is like "So how would you like to learn to summon a new demon?", and of course I'm all like "Schway," so one thing leads to another and now I'm stuck with Kal'rath.

Kal'rath is a big gassy blue guy who complains all the time. Like, "Lady Crys, the elite Stranglethorn tiger bit me!" Or, "Lady Crys, I got chased across the Barrens by an axe-weilding tauren when you threw those meteors down into the Crossroads!" Or, "Lady Crys, can I please have Unending Breath too? I could really use some oxygen!"

The worst part is, though, he doesn't even do his job. After getting hit a few times Kal'rath wusses out and runs and hides behind me. I end up tanking for him.
It's the most pathetic thing you've ever seen. He's just not good for anything... except when I bottle up pieces of him and sell them off to junkies who get high huffing his fumes.

But all's well that ends well. A few levels later I finally got a hold of my very own succubus, Cattnys, who is more awesome than Kal'rath any day of the week. For one thing she actually kills things... and between you and me, I think she secretly enjoys the whole fem-dom thing. For another, I can rent her out to drunken sailors in Menethil Harbor on weekends. You ever try to collect payment after an angry dwarf learns he's spent his shore leave with an amorphous purple blob? It's not pretty.