The Domain of Steven Pinnacle of Paperless Perfection

19Apr/074

Closure.

Every character in World of Warcraft is allowed to learn two tradeskills, things like blacksmithing or alchemy, though in WoW they're called professions. Professions are like college educations; they put you deep into debt in order to complete, and they're near-worthless until you finally do. Once you've learned all that you can, you want to put that knowledge to good use, namely to work off those training expenses. Some people tersely advertise "300 engi/alch," "port to darn/if/sw 1g," or "arc transmute 5g." I chose to advertise a little more flamboyantly.

"Like vibrating mechanical objects, but can't tell the difference between a Mechanical Squirrel and a Sniper Scope? Want to get back at that mage with an exploding sheep? Let Iskar the Incredible Inventor with his 300 Engineering handle all your engineering needs!"

"Have slippery fingers and keep dropping your vials? Whether it's Swiftness potions or Rocket Fuel, let Iskar the Incredible Imbiber with his 300 Alchemy handle all your substance-related needs!"

"Parents never talk to you about the birds and the bees? I can reenact the story with your Thorium Bar and Arcanite Crystal for just 5g! Come see the Miracle of Life...arcanite bar style!"

"Tired of Aragon the paladin and Gimlii the warrior begging for money? Change it up and have Llegolaz the hunter beg instead! Take a portal to Darnassus for just 99s! Friends ride free!"

"Tired of the contaminated canals of Lagwind and the soot-filled air of Lagforge? Take a trip to the clean, cool, tree-hugging wonderland that is Darnassus for just 99s! Friends ride free!"

I programmed all of these messages into individual "macros" that so I could advertise a particular service to all three major cities with the click of a button. The biggest rewards would be when people would LOL in the trade channel after my advertisement spam. The racier ones often provoke a LMAO or a WTF. Sometimes people would send me a private message saying that they didn't need a transmute, but if they did, they'd buy one from me. Whatever the reaction, I enjoyed eliciting them and making money in the process, and it's something that I've missed since I stopped playing WoW. I miss the people in my guild, their quirks, their voices, their talents, their generosity and companionship. I miss completely annihilating players that think I'm an easy target. I miss manipulating the economy, perfecting methods of killing a dozen monsters at a time when other people have to slog through them individually. I miss being good at something. The feeling of success is what I look for in a good game, and I stuck with WoW because it provided it so well.

The game has since changed drastically, and made itself dead to me in the process. I was in love with what it had been, not what it now is. I'm sure that I've changed in the interim just as the people who I played it with have changed. Even if they don't remember me as fondly as I remember them, the least I can hope for is for my guildmaster's words to ring true: "Iskar, no one will forget your macros."

17Oct/061

Clubs, aka university-funded ways to shirk work

I am a persuasive French wino that can stun people with insults and convince policemen that he and his party were in fact not responsible for the mutilated bodies tossed out of a window into an alley. All with the flick of a d20.

The BU Role-Playing Society is one of the three clubs I've joined. Right now the only campaign I'm dedicated to is a post-WWII spy adventure set in Vietnam. There are lots of other games in many different non-D&D settings, but my schedule often conflicts and I honestly don't have the time anymore. That said, it's a fun and often hilarious way to spend a weekly evening.

Wizards is a community service group that teaches science experiments to kids from kindergarten all the way to early high school. A friend in my computer science class invited me over to a meeting one day, and I figured that it was a weekly two hour committment that might be reminiscent to the fun time I had volunteering with 1st graders at P.S. 89 right next to Stuyvesant. I noted this on my app, and lo and behold, I got one of the spots in the group that works with kindergarteners and 1st graders 😀 . We're driven by van to the Young Achievers school, what seems to be one of many Boston pilot public schools for new learning strategies. The distinction wasn't exactly evident though, as it reminded me a lot of P.S. 89 despite it being a regular public school. Not that it mattered, because the school was charming and the kids were cute and wonderful. The kindergarteners have their current curriculum based around butterflies, so our activity focused on symmetry using butterflies as examples. Few children remembered the word when the day was done, but all of them had fun seeing their folded paper cutouts become butterflies. The colored versions were all pinned up on the window afterwards.

The BU Massively-Multiplayer Online Gaming Society is a club that a couple friends and I founded after seeing interest on the BU Livejournal group. We rotate through new MMOs every two weeks or so, playing games like Gunbound, Rakion, Albatross18, and Ragnarok Online. We're all encouraged to play games on our own and stick with ones that we like, but we often meet up with other MMOGS members so that there's a sense of familiarity when in unfamiliar territory. After each game's rotation is finished, we each write a review and give it a grade, both of which are posted on our soon-to-be-created forum. We're hoping to have generated enough of a track record to warrant attention from non-MMOGS members, perhaps non-BU members, and hopefully game developers looking for effective beta testers. The pinnacle of success for the MMOGS would be either getting access to a highly anticipated game in closed beta testing or getting enough funding to provide paid accounts to some of the newer, hotter games on the market. As it stands, we're just a bunch of college gamers. But next semester, we'll be gamers with university funding for snacks.

I am vice-president of the MMOGS. The president, secretary, and treasurer are all juniors, which means that in all likelihood I'm going to be inheriting the club after two years. Oh man it's like Excalibur all over again. Luckily the club's survival doesn't depend on my (lack of) gaming skill, but rather my enthusiasm, which I have plenty of. For now I'll just chip in where I can and learn a few things along the way. And have fun with ultra-high angle shots on a mammoth while I'm at it.

25Dec/055

One day I’ll catch that Drd13/Clr5/Rog2 in the act…

I don't have normal dreams. I could've had a dream about Christmas, holiday spirit, or even the games (not to mention people) I've been obssessing over. Instead, I get some freakish conglomeration of...well...lots of things.

This dream isn't as clear as my last major one. I'm not sure how it started, but it involved me walking into Stuy through the second floor entrance and coming upon the senior bar. For those who don't know what it looks like, picture a square area around twenty-five feet on each side. I'm coming from the southwest corner, there is an up escalator at the north side, a hallway perpendicular to the north side at the northwest, ac opening to a larger hallway/locker area to the northeast, and an opening to offices to the southeast. But the most distinctive feature of the senior bar is the senior bar: a row of lockers arranged in a quarter-circle whose ends point towards the eastern and southern walls. People (usually seniors) sit on the bar, and it acts as a general hangout spot considering almost all students have to pass it to get into school.

But this time it wasn't a hangout spot; it was the location for some bizarre event. Bizarre Love Triangle bizarre. People were arranged in two lines leading from the escalator to the senior bar so that there was a walkway coming down from the escalator. People were coming down the escalator in pairs wearing very fancy, sexy clothes, strutting as the lines of people cheered them on. I didn't know what it was for, but I remember walking down the northwestern hallway in disgust.

That was when someone walked alongside me and asked why I hated them so much. I replied that no one there was really happy for anyone else, but that they just wanted to see people in hot clothes and be part of something lively. The other person seemed to take offense to this, and motioned over to a friend to walk beside us. I sensed the tension as they flanked me, and that's when things totally went to hell.

The first person pulls out a bow on me. Like, a freaking huge composite longbow at least 2/3 his size. No idea where he was hiding that thing. I stop for a moment, staring him down, before I burst into action, drawing out a knife and spinning around behind me to put his companion at knifepoint. I'm not sure why, but I kept thinking of it in Dungeons & Dragons rules terms: I had rolled a successful tumble check to move through an enemy space without provoking an attack of opportunity, then successfully initiated a grapple as well as another grapple to pin the person and ready an action to attack her. I also knew that he'd get a penalty for firing into melee, and that I'd get cover bonuses to my AC because of the human shield. To top off the craziness, this random bystander pulled out a sword and held it ready at the longbowman.

I then saw the encounter through his analytical perspective. He knew that his crazy bow skillz (probably had some crazy upgraded version of Point Blank Shot) would be enough to take down the swordsman, but I'd stab his friend in the heart. There things get stranger: he knew that I was a wizard, but that my current repertoire of spells was very limited. He considered the possibility of me chucking the dagger at him, but he knew it'd do only 1d4 damage, and was a last resort considering I'd lose my weapon without a guarantee of taking him down.

He finished his analysis, and decided that he'd rather taste some combat. He kills the swordsman with an arrow as I thrust the dagger through his companion. As he's firing a second arrow at me, I chuck the dagger at him while holding the body for cover. The dagger glances off him but distracts him enough for me to deflect the slightly off-target arrow with the body. I then whip out this relatively small glowing white bow named Hohenheim of Light. Man, talk about strange Full Metal Alchemist references to end a strange dream.

(Yes, I know that technically my grappling stunt would have taken at least two rounds, that I wouldn't have gotten a cover bonus, and that I really would have been MORE vulnerable considering I'd lose my dexterity bonus to AC when in the grapple. Not to mention that attacking someone 5 feet away with a bow would have provoked an attack of opportunity. But come on.)

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