Transmogs: For the Alliance!

As well as seeing Hamilton (which was amazing oh my god!) over my pseudo-weekend in the middle of the week, I decided to double up on making a new transmog for my human paladin, who for all intents and purposes in RP is just a warrior (for now), but I prefer playing a paladin in PvE.

To give a little background, my “paladin” is part of the People’s Militia, or is it the Westfall Brigade since Wrath of the Lich King? It doesn’t matter. She’s a farm girl who joined the People’s Militia back when they were still a bunch of angry farmers fighting the Defias with pitchforks.

However, since getting tooled up by Stormwind and sent to Northrend to help out the NPCs have been given a visual overhaul and I was delighted to find that I could acquire the set in game for my character.

I won’t explain it. I will let pictures do the talking:

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That makes two that I have made in the past week, as those who read my last short story might have seen the other Alliance themed transmog I made on my hunter. Regardless, I will also link them here as this is a patriotic Alliance-based transmog post. Glory to our king!

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Personally, I am quite happy with both of them as while both sets are very Alliance themed and both gals wear the Stormwind tabard, neither set resorts to using the Stormwind Guard cosmetic armour set from Warlords of Draenor. They are more fitting this way as neither are part of the official Stormwind military; one is a farm girl turned People’s Militia fighter while the other is a bard and freelance scout.

I think this weekend I will start work on another piece of Warcraft fiction involving my human “paladin” and her half-sister (my human rogue). While they are not on opposite sides in terms of Alliance and Horde (as both are humans), they are diametrically opposed in their beliefs. Not a great relationship to have during the Feast of Winter Veil, when families should be spending time with each other and celebrating this happy, festive event.

Happy Feast of Winter Veil!

Bonds of Family, part 3

It doesn’t take long for someone else to join me in the tent. I turn, looking over my shoulder to see a male human in full armour, though without a helmet. His armour is slightly better decorated than the rank and file troopers, so I assume he is some sort of officer. I don’t even make eye contact, just facing forward in silence again.

“Stand up,” he says, his voice authoritative as he makes his way to my back, detaching the chains that bind me to the tent, but keeping my hands bound. I just sit there; I’m not about to let this human order me around. “I said stand!” he says again, walking over and dragging me to my feet. “With those ears, I would’ve thought you could hear me.”

“I heard you, human. I just didn’t care,” I answer, looking over my shoulder with a grin.

The human grabs the back of my neck and shoves me towards the entrance to the tent. “Just move it.”

The human shoves me out of the tent and back into the pouring rain. I was starting to dry off, but all hopes of that evaporated as I was met by the heavy rainfall of the Arathi Highlands. It was still late, the plains lit by nothing more than star light and the occasional lantern. The human pushes me out of the camp, up a small hill and over to another group of Alliance. My adoptive sister is among them, a longbow slung across her back. I find myself wondering if it was my mother who taught her how to fight. It’s a shame I won’t find out. It’s clear to me what this is; it’s an execution. I spot the stone they will use as a headsman’s block, there’s what looks like a priest and two other soldiers in attendance. If I was armed and armoured I could probably kill all of these pretenders; luck has surely smiled upon them today.

The human shoves me over to the large stone and the priest walks to the other side, his robes muddied at the bottom. He looks me straight in the eye as one soldier walks behind me while the officer and the last soldier flank me. Elise walks just behind the priest, looking at me with a stoic expression. I wonder if she is still conflicted and I cling to the hope that she will help me out of this situation. For all my confidence, I don’t want to die. Not like this at least; there is no honour in being chained and executed. However, I see that is just a fantasy. After all, we’re on opposite sides of this war. If I were in her position, I would likely be the executioner as well as the priest in this situation. She is my enemy as I am hers.

“You call yourself a paladin of the Holy Light, yet you slaughter men and women in their beds,” the priest says, his gaze never leaving my eyes.

“It’s a military target,” I answer, looking straight back into his eyes. “It was not a dishonourable strike. If anything, it was poorly executed. We four met your fourteen in open combat and yo-…”

The soldier to my right punches me across the face, sending me stumbling aside. The officer catches me and shoves me back into position. It’s at this moment I realise how weak I am in my current state. I lost a lot of blood not too long ago and I still ache from the injuries I suffered in the previous battle.

“That’s enough,” the priest says, a strong, assertive tone to his voice. “Now, elf, you have been charged with murder and abuse of the Holy Light. Do you deny these charges?”

“Of course I do. If I were abusing the Light, do you not think it would turn its back on me? Also it’s not murder if it’s a paramilitary operation in a war. That’s called warfare, priest.”

The priest frowns. “You will face judgement for the lives you have taken.”

“I will be judged for the crimes I have committed, but it won’t be by you and it won’t be for what transpired here.”

The priest looks at the guard behind me and nods. I feel an armoured gauntlet on the back of my neck, pushing me down and forcing me to my knees. This is it. They’ve decided to just get the execution over and done with. My main regret is that I feel that I have not yet managed to atone for my sins. Will the Holy Light take that into account when it comes to my judgement?

I feel an armoured boot on my back, forcing me onto the stone, my head hanging over the other edge. I look up to the officer who has pulled out his blade, then to Elise, then to the priest who is saying a typical prayer to the Holy Light. I know the Alliance’s protocol when it comes to executions like these; even for their enemies they recite a generic prayer. It has no meaning and I think they’re just doing it for show.

I close my eyes and face down. There’s nothing left for me. This is the end.

Suddenly, I feel a shift in the air. I open my eyes in time to see an arcane flash from behind the priest and two hulking figures come charging out of it.

“What? We’re under attack! Protect Father Astrior,” the officer yells, turning to face the charging figures. This is the only chance I will get. I spring to life, jumping into the officer and colliding with his armoured form. We both go sprawling to the ground, but I am unarmed, unarmoured and weakened from my previous injuries. We hit the dirt, but before I can react the officer is upon me. He raises his sword to finish the job, but before he can plunge the blade through my chest he brings it up to parry one of the charging figures. I look up to see Uruda slamming into the human, bashing aside his defences and slamming her axe into the human’s chest, piercing the armour and sending a trail of crimson spilling from his breastplate behind his tabard.

“Laralla, can you walk?” she asks, picking up the human’s sword. I nod as she runs over, getting to my feet. She runs behind me and brings her axe down on the bindings, smashing them and freeing my hands. She thrusts the officer’s sword into my hands. “Good. We’re getting you out of here,” she says before charging off to engage another target. I look over to see Elise standing between Argrok and the priest and in that moment I can see that she was trained by my mother. Her fighting style is reminiscent of how my mother fought the Scourge, dodging and ducking beneath blows. She dodges to the side of his overhead swing, moving to slash at Argrok, but he brings his mace back around, causing her to back off to avoid the powerful swing of the Orc warrior. This isn’t a fight she can reliably win.

Lara Ready

Another soldier charges Argrok and Elise immediately disengages, moving to his flank and ready to strike him from behind. I will give these Alliance credit where credit is due, they work in unison far better than our Orc duo. I charge at the Alliance soldier, coming to Argrok’s aid as they seek to outnumber him, bringing the officer’s two handed sword around in an arc. The blade digs into his armour deep, but I don’t have the strength to pierce the plates. He turns, bashing me away with his shield, but in doing so he turns his back on Argrok who shatters the human’s spine with a powerful backwards swing of his mace.

I turn to Elise and the priest, but see the priest’s body burning as Claude hurls fireballs him, his robes aflame as he stumbles about, screaming at the top of his lungs before eventually collapsing to the ground, dead.

“Come on Uruda. Back to Claude!” Argrok yells, starting to bound back to the mage who appears to be starting a teleportation spell to pull us out. I notice Elise out of the corner of my eye. She has taken out her bow, pulling an arrow from her quiver and taking aim at the mage. I get ready to charge. I can’t let her kill my only way out. I won’t be recaptured and put in chains by these human dogs. She may have been nice to me while I was in captivity, but that was her mistake.

Before I can charge, Uruda barrels into Elise, causing her to lose her shot and hop backwards to avoid the axe swing, though she doesn’t hop far enough and Uruda’s axe slams into her side, piercing the lightweight chain armour and carving deep into her body. Elise drops her bow and immediately buckles, gasping for breath as Uruda pulls her axe out and starts to run towards Claude as well. I watch as the broken human struggles to move, her blood mixing with the wet mud beneath her as she bleeds at an alarming rate. She has mere seconds to live.

I look to the others. Their focus is elsewhere, watching for enemy reinforcements as Claude continues to channel his spell. I look back to Elise as she starts to slow. Time seems to stand still as I come to a realisation; the Light is testing me. Testing my will, testing my resolve, testing my honour. This woman had, in truth, put her neck on the line to at least make what she believed were my final moments a bit more bearable. If the Alliance had known that her reports were a fabrication…

RIP Elise

I extend my hand to her, closing my eyes as I channel holy energy into the girl, closing the gaping axe wound in her side. She looks up, locking eyes with me. “Now we’re even,” I say in Thalassian as she collapses to the dirt as shock and blood loss take their toll. With the wound closed, she should live as long as she receives medical attention in the near future, but she will feel awful; worse than I felt as her wound was a lot nastier than mine.

I turn and run for the other three as I see reinforcements coming up the hill. It’s time for us to leave. “We’re all here. Let’s get out of this place!” I yell as I reach Claude, putting a hand up to conjure a barrier of holy energy around us. I won’t have a stray spell or arrow stop us now.

Claude finishes his incantation and we are pulled through the nether, appearing on the dusty planes of Durotar, just outside of Orgrimmar. I collapse to my knees, exhausted but happy to be back in safe lands.

“Can you walk to Orgrimmar, or are you elves so fragile that I need to carry you?” Argrok asks with a big, toothy grin.

“I will be fine to walk, Argrok,” I answer, grinning right back and climbing to my feet. I look at the Alliance officer’s sword before offering it to Uruda. “Hey, you want this as a trophy? I believe he was the commander of that camp.”

Uruda smiled and nodded. “He was my kill, after all. First we show it to our employer, then Argrok buys our drinks for losing my bet,” she says with a chuckle, looking straight to Argrok.

I start to laugh as we begin our short walk to Orgrimmar. Despite losing my weapons, armour and holy symbol, my first combat job in years was a success. I grab the necklace my mother gave to me, partially to ensure that it is still there. Mother is alive and working with the Alliance. She has taken on a human girl as her new daughter. I must find her. I have so many questions to ask her, but if it comes down to it could I really fight her now? Now that I know what kind of a monster Father is.

It seems the Holy Light has more trials for me in the years to come. I will not waver.

< Part 2

Bonds of Family, part 2

That’s why I’m leaving, sister,” Anatheia says as she turned to face me for what felt like the first time during the entire conversation. I can tell she’s upset, that she’s holding back the tears as she speaks.

Father won’t allow it, Ana. You’re the oldest child with a gift for the arcane, you know he has plans for you to take over as head of the house. Besides, what will you tell Vel?” I reply, a firm tone to my voice despite my little sister’s current state of mind. I don’t want her to leave and I always was the more assertive of us three girls.

I don’t care what father wants. His training is smothering me and I feel I can do more good in Stormwind, rather than sitting safe up here in Quel’Thalas. Our allies need us; are we going to just sit up here safe behind our forests?”

I sigh. “No, of course not. But equally you need to think of the immediate ramifications of you leaving. How do you think Father will react? You know what he’s like.”

He’s the main reason I’m leaving. It’s decided; I leave tomorrow and my bags are already packed.”

Please reconsider. You’re going to tear the family apart over this.”

Anatheia’s expression shifted to one of anger. She tensed up, storming up to me. Is she going to punch me? No, I’ve been here before…

You wouldn’t know, Lara! You don’t know the training he puts me through. You haven’t seen what I’ve seen; how dare you assume to know what drives this decision!” she says, shoving me back. I’m shocked, mouth agape at my little sister’s sudden outburst. I look back to her to see the tears streaming down her cheeks.

Then why don’t you tell me, Ana? I want to help, but I can’t if you’re going to act this way!” I answer, keeping my posture non-threatening. I may be the stronger and faster of the two of us, but in her current state of mind I would not want to push her buttons any more than I apparently already have. She’s either overreacting and she’s unstable, ready to start throwing spells at the drop of a hat, or she has seen something that has changed her life for the worse.

I-… I can’t,” she replies, stepping back again and looking at the ground. She appears to have regained some control over her emotions at least.

Why not? I’m not against you, I just want to find a resolution to this that keeps us together as a family.”

I just can’t, okay.” She looks up at me, sniffing and carefully wiping her eyes. “Good bye, Lara.”

I take a step forwards and reach out to pull her into a warm hug, but she disappears from where she stood, appearing outside the room before rushing off. I chase after her, but when I get to my bedroom door, she is gone.

I wake up to the feeling of raindrops on my skin. It has only just started, as I am still dry for the most part. I feel awful. There’s a sharp pain in my stomach and a dull headache pounds within my skull. I move to get up, but my hands are chained behind my back. I turn over slowly to see a chain connecting me with a hitching post and a couple of horses about five metres away; a fresh pile of horse excrement lies far too close for comfort and I roll away from it a little. There isn’t too much slack in my chains, but enough to get me away from the horse droppings. My armour is missing, as well as my weapon and holy symbol. My necklace remains tucked beneath my clothing, my mother’s family crest; her final gift to me after Anatheia and I renounced our heritage on our father’s side, gave up our titles and claim to land and decided to live with the surname of a traitor instead of a madman. I lie there on my back, wearing just my underwear, a thin tunic, thin trousers and a pair of socks, closing my eyes and asking the Holy Light to guide me. It’s cold and the rain isn’t doing me any favours, starting to get heavier and soak me through. I have no access to a mirror, but I imagine I must look like hell right now.

A few minutes pass before I hear footsteps approaching. They aren’t the heavy plated boots of an Alliance soldier and for a moment I assume the best. Perhaps it’s a fellow Horde soldier here to free me? Maybe I have concussion as I see a woman round the nearby tent and walk over. She’s human, with long blonde hair worn loose beneath a blue hood and blue, lightweight chain armour covered by the tabard of Stormwind. I lock eyes with her and refuse to look away. She walks past me and grabs the chains by the hitching post, crouching down and undoing the lock. She stands, holding the chains and wrapping them around her wrist, while pulling out a simple shortsword with her free hand. She makes her way over to me and places her chained hand on the back of my neck, pushing me forwards. I stumble a few steps, but come to a halt, staring at her over my shoulder.

“Move it,” she says calmly, poking me in the back with her shortsword. I oblige, curious where this will take me. Perhaps she is my executioner. Perhaps she is going to question me. Either way, I would like to get out of this downpour.

She takes me to the far tent and pushes me in, following shortly after.

“Sit,” she says, gesturing at the chair. I feign ignorance, turning to stare at her again and pretending I don’t understand Common.

She rolls her eyes, grabs me by the scruff of the neck and shoves me down onto the wooden chair in the centre of the tent. She then walks to the corner and affixes the chain to the piton keeping the tent in the ground. I wonder if I could pull hard enough and bring this tent down on us? It wouldn’t be especially dangerous, but it would probably get me killed so I hold off for now. I am still curious to see where this goes. Inside the tent, apart from the wooden chair I sit on, is what looks like a hastily set up makeshift desk and another chair. These Alliance soldiers probably weren’t expecting to keep prisoners, hence the very makeshift interrogation set up. Amateurs.

The woman sits opposite me. “So, you have a name, Elf?” she asks in Common.

I still pretend I do not understand.

“Don’t pretend. I know almost all of your kind understands Common, unless you’re a ten year old child which I am quite confident you aren’t.”

I still don’t respond.

The woman sighs, rolling her eyes. She stands up, picking up the chair and moving within spitting range. Wonderful; I can spit in this woman’s face as my final act of defiance if it goes that way. However, what happens next takes me by complete surprise. The woman lowers her voice.

“Fine. Let me extend you the courtesy of communicating in your own language,” she says quietly in perfect Thalassian; even her accent is on point with any well-spoken blood elf. I find myself staring in shock at the woman, as it’s a rarity to find a human who speaks our language.

“Where did you learn?” I ask, narrowing my eyes.

“No, no, that’s not how this works. I asked the first question, so I will be more than happy to answer once you have answered mine.”

I smirk. “Laralla.”

“And your family name?”

“That’s not how it works. I answered yours, so now you answer mine,” I respond with a grin. If this is going to lead to execution, I would rather just get it over with.

The woman cracks a smile, nodding. “Fair enough, Laralla. I learned from one of your kin who you cast out for refusing to resort to fel magics to feed their addictions. Now, surname?”

I nod. “Dawnsinger.”

The woman blinks at me, staring for a moment.

“What? Did I get dessert on my nose?” I ask, grinning.

“No. Now, what were you trying to achieve here? Four of you against a camp this close to Refuge Pointe?”

“I think it’s my turn to ask,” I say with a grin.

The woman shakes her head. “No. You asked if you had dessert on your nose. I happily answered that question, so now it’s back to me,” she answers with a smug grin on her face. I can’t help but smirk at her style.


“Guilty as charged. Now, my question please.”

“Simple. I was hired to kick your pampered baby squad back over the Thandol Span.”

“So you’re not official military?”

“Nope. Anyway, that’s two you owe me now, so firstly, what’s the name of the Quel’dorei who taught you our language? I’d like to know so I can pay them a visit later.”

The woman hesitated, before smirking again. “Arinella Dawnsinger. You look just like her.”

No. I refuse to accept it. Arinella Dawnsinger? That’s the same name as my mother. The mother who tried to kill my father and then fled. I thought she was dead; she had to flee through Scourge controlled lands shortly after they destroyed the Sunwell. “She’s alive?”

“From your reaction I would say my hunch was right. She is alive and well, yes. I take it you are related? The family resemblance is there.”

I narrow my eyes at the human woman. “She’s my mother. She tried to kill my father and then fled.”

“From what I’ve heard, your father is a bit of a nut-case,” the woman replied, her tone very to the point.

“You couldn’t possibly understand. Anyway, why are you asking me these questions? Aren’t you going to interrogate me for military intelligence and then take me out back and execute me?” I ask, spitting on the ground.

“Because normally I would relish in conducting an interrogation with a Sin’dorei. I hate your people.”

“But this time’s different because you know my mother, right?” I ask, rolling my eyes. “Please, spare me your f-…”

“This time’s different because this particular Sin’dorei is my sister by adoption. Arinella adopted me as a war orphan. I may hate your people, but family is important to me.”

“Then how about you let me go?” I ask, rustling the chains slightly.

“I can’t. You murdered Alliance soldiers and sister or not, you have to face justice for your actions.”

“So where do we go from here?”

“I-… I’m going to say I got everything I could from you. That you have no intel to give and the strike was orchestrated by independent agents. Your fate is in the hands of the Alliance military and that of the Holy Light.”

The woman turns away, her tough exterior melting away. I can tell she’s conflicted with the situation and not an official member of the Alliance military. A contractor? Perhaps something I can use to my advantage.

“Your name, human? I’d like to know the name of my new adoptive sister before I meet the Holy Light,” I ask, softening my voice. If I’m going to get out of here, she’s my way out, so I need her on side.

The human woman turns to look at me, the conflict clear on her face. She takes a deep breath and regains her composure. “Elise Dawnsinger.”

I open my mouth to speak, but Elise rushes out of the tent, leaving me alone, but still restrained.

At least it’s dry in here.

< Part 1 | Part 3 >

Bonds of Family, part 1

As a preface to this, I will say that I have written and rewritten this three times. I just couldn’t get it right! I still don’t think it’s perfect, but it’s by far the best attempt I’ve had at it. So, I present to you, the first piece of Warcraft based fiction I have written in probably around seven years; last time I wrote any Warcraft stuff I was visiting parents during my university holidays. All names are random and not meant to represent any other characters that aren’t mine. It may be the Warcraft universe, but I still prefer to create my own characters.

It had been a while since I had seen active duty for the Horde. I tried moving into the civilian workforce after the Sunwell was liberated, but I was hounded by ghosts of my past; thoughts of guilt ate at my mind every day for what we, the Blood Knights, did to that poor Naaru. We faltered in our faith and the Naaru paid for it. I tried to take to life as a priest, I tried to take up the blacksmithing trade. Neither were difficult, my previous experience with the Holy Light and my responsibility as a Blood Knight meant I had an affinity for both of them, but I didn’t feel like I was on a path where I could atone for what I did. I kept my body in shape with daily exercise and a training regimen I used to abide by when I was an active Blood Knight, so donning my armour and picking up my spear was no strange experience, even after all these years.

Now here I stand, the Arathi Highlands. Reports indicated that the Alliance has used the conflict with the Legion to push advanced scouting parties closer to our borders and we had been hired to attack one of their camps. We will be outnumbered, but we will have the element of surprise if we play our cards right. The team is comprised of myself, a paladin of the Light, Claude, a forsaken spellcaster, as well as Argrok and Uruda, a pair of Orc warriors. I haven’t known them for very long, but it’s clear there is history between Argrok and Uruda, perhaps even a romantic history with the way they interact, though I am not an expert on Orc culture. Perhaps that’s something to ask my little sister about; her position as a diplomat means she has spent far more time around them than I have.


I can see the target in the distance. Four tents, with no more than four soldiers in each, meaning at maximum we will be facing sixteen Alliance soldiers. However, I have only counted ten so far, though the others could be asleep. I hear footsteps behind me.

“Is that the camp?” Argrok asks, cresting the small mound I had placed myself on to observe the Alliance forces. Argrok takes a knee next to me, observing the soldiers’ movements.

“It is. We wait for their next patrol to leave and then we strike,” I answer, not taking my eyes off the troops.

“Why not just attack now? Those Alliance dogs can’t stand up to us. They’re cowards,” Argrok says with a grin.

I turn to lock eyes with him, a seriousness piercing the calmness of the Highlands ambience. “Do not underestimate them, Argrok. By my count they could outnumber us four to one, and while they are cowards, they aren’t necessarily poor fighters.”

“Maybe by your standards.”

“I won’t argue the point, Argrok. We attack when the next patrol leaves.”

I turn to watch the camp again, hearing a grunt from the Orc as he gets up and walks off to the rest of the group. I wasn’t used to dealing with Orcs, as when I was a Blood Knight I was surrounded by my own people. We are very different when compared to the rest of the Horde and I can see why my little sister feels like we don’t belong, however this is the hand fate has delivered us and unity with the Horde is what we need to survive after the Alliance stabbed us in the back. I find myself lost in thought, considering what could have been if the Alliance hadn’t betrayed us, if we were still a part of the Alliance. That could be me down there in that camp, about to be attacked by a group of Horde soldiers. Also, I had friends in the Alliance military when we were still a part of it, so those people down there could be former friends.

“Hey, shiny,” Claude says with his usual neutral tone, “what are you doing?”

“What do you mean? I’m watching,” I respond, turning to look at the forsaken.

“Then you’ve noticed Argrok and Uruda heading for the camp talking about, what was it? The one who kills less buys the drinks?” he answers with a dry, sarcastic tone. I immediately turn, looking down to see the two Orcs approaching the Alliance camp. We cannot let them attack by themselves as they will be overwhelmed by the Alliance forces.

“Oh for the love of all that’s holy… We need to get down there and help them or they’re going to die,” I say, turning and making my way off the small mound, brushing past Claude who simply chuckles.

“We could always leave them to their fate. It’s their own fault and if they really want to die, who are we to stop them?”

I turn to face Claude, anger burning in my eyes. They may be stubborn and of questionable intelligence, but they’re our allies. “No. We support them. If we are under threat of being overrun, you pull us out of there.”

“Fine, but we will need to move quickly. The Orcs will not wait for us.”

I rush down the side of the hill, keeping out of line of sight of the camp as I dash after the two Orcs, trying my best to catch up with them. Then I hear it.

“The Horde are here! All forces to the east!” I hear someone shout out, followed by the sounds of combat. The pair of Orcs had already attacked. I discard all thoughts of moving stealthily and charge straight for the camp, spear at the ready. I crest the edge of the steep incline leading down to the Alliance camp, almost sliding down the dirt. As I drop down, I see the two Orcs surrounded by Alliance soldiers. They’re fending them off, but they’re going to get cut to pieces at this rate. I grasp my symbol of the Holy Light, holding my spear with one hand and muttering a quiet prayer as I reach the ground and charge at the Alliance soldiers who have surrounded the two Orcs. As Uruda takes a heavy sword blow to her abdomen, her wound immediately glows with holy energy and seals itself. I will not let my comrades die while I still draw breath.

“Someone deal with the elf!” one of the humans shouts, noticing my contribution to the current fight before Uruda plants her axe through his helmet, crumpling the metal inwards. Claude has taken up position on the ridge and starts raining fire down on the Alliance camp. The hit was going okay, considering Argrok and Uruda has screwed up the planned alpha strike. Then I notice how badly outnumbered we are. Fourteen against four were not odds that I felt comfortable with. I grip my spear in both hands and charge the formation around the Orcs, thrusting my spear into the back of the nearest Alliance soldier. He arches his back and collapses to the floor as I withdraw my spear, turning to parry the sword of another soldier.

Another soldier stabs Argrok in his side, causing him to double over in pain. He brings his mace down on the head of the soldier who stabbed him, crushing the human’s head in a single hit, but he falls shortly after. Uruda rushes to his side, defending him as more of the Alliance soldiers encircle the two Orcs while a four of them keep me preoccupied.

“Claude! Get down to Argrok and Uruda and get ready to pull them out!” I yell as one of the Alliance soldiers slashes across my back. My armour takes the brunt of the hit, but I stumble forwards from the impact. If we stay here, we’re all going to die.

“I’d rather not get chopped to pieces!” Claude yells back. I barely hear him over the sounds of battle and my concentration in fending off four soldiers.

“Just do it. I’ve got you covered!” I call back, parrying two of the Alliance swords with my spear. However, one of the Alliance soldiers slips underneath my guard, driving his sword straight into my gut. I cough blood and grit my teeth, my vision wavers as I notice Claude appear in the midst of the melee. I extend my free hand in his direction, muttering another prayer to the Light and enveloping the three of them in a shield of holy energy. Perhaps this is what I was searching for. Perhaps I have been seeking redemption through my own death. It would be a fitting end, considering all I have done, the atrocities I committed.

My vision grows foggy as I see the golden glow of the shield disappear in a flash of arcane energy. Claude teleported them out. My job is complete. I smile through the intense pain in my gut as the Alliance soldier removes his blade. I keep hold of my spear, but drop to my knees as my legs lose all strength. I don’t have the energy to stand. I feel drained. Like hell am I about to let some Alliance filth kill me off without a fight. I press my free hand to my gut, feeling where the sword pierced through my armour. My blood pours from the wound and my hand shakes as I channel holy energies into the wound, sealing it up. I still feel fatigued, having lost a lot of blood and my head spins, but I am at least no longer at risk of bleeding out. I struggle to my feet, my legs barely able to keep me up. I ready my spear and look for the nearest target.

“Oh bloody hell, nobody finished the paladin?”

“Take her alive. She can barely stand and may be more useful to us alive.”

I swing at the nearest soldier, but he catches my spear on his shield and shoves me backwards. I stumble, barely able to keep my footing before I feel a pommel strike me in the face, sending me crashing to the ground. I lose grip on my spear as I hit the dirt, knocked flat on my back. The sky is blurred and spinning, darkness creeping into my vision. I’d rather die than be taken alive by these treacherous snakes. I roll onto my stomach and try to push myself up, but my arms have no power. I can’t push myself up. Then I feel a hand grab my hair, an armoured gauntlet pulling me to my knees and another pressing a dagger to my throat. I stare at a blurry form in front of me, a figure in blue armour.

“Wait, who the hell is this?” a female voice asks as I lose consciousness, the darkness finally overtaking my vision.

Part 2 >

Planning, planning and… ooh, planning!

I was going to write some fiction, I really was. I had a little adventure to send my little Blood Elf on and everything was planned out. It was going to be amazing.

Then I remembered I run a Stars Without Number game every Wednesday.

Then I remembered I needed to make a map for said Stars Without Number game on Wednesday.

Then I realised I would need to make a whole two maps for said Stars Without Number game on Wednesday.

And I like dynamic lighting.

Then I had busy days at work so I couldn’t build maps or write fiction in between calls as they were just constantly coming in. Working customer service in an arguably understaffed department is really not fun on busy days…

Anyway, I’ve spent a lot of my free time planning for this week’s Wednesday game and it’s going to be amazing! I can’t wait to run it; it’s going to be fantastic. Now, I know my players are out there, so I won’t spoil anything just yet, but it’s going to be great. Probably a bit less RP than last session, as the job my players have taken on is going to involve combat and last session saw no combat at all. We’ve got all that to look forward to, plus some mysteries of a toxic planet to uncover, some caves to explore and some new people to meet! All to help a psychic nerd pass his finals… and 50k credits.

Also, the last “boss” of the job is both dangerous and utterly useless at the same time. I can’t wait to see how -that- pans out…

However, I would feel bad not giving at least a sneak preview of what I’ve been working on in terms of fiction. Here’s a snippet of the first piece of Warcraft-based fiction I have written in literally eight years! I feel so incredibly rusty since I haven’t really written in a universe or setting that isn’t my own design for quite a while.

Military life is a difficult one to leave. I thought I could do it, I thought I could leave that life behind and join the civilian workforce; maybe I could’ve become a priestess as I wanted to all those years ago, before my little sister left and Father pressured me into becoming a paladin. I honestly tried. I tried to pick up the smithing trade to earn a living. It wasn’t that it was difficult, I understood the basics of it pretty well, however I felt useless. I didn’t feel like this was a way for me to repent for what our order did after the Sunwell was destroyed by the Scourge; what we did to that Naaru.


Stay tuned to find out what’s going down in the Arathi Highlands and why I have an edgy screenshot of my Blood Elf kneeling on a rock. Also stay tuned to learn of the antics that will go down on Wednesday when my players get into the heart of this job they have taken!

Also still going to try and reorganise this website so it makes sense and maybe update some things (not the 40k tactics. I haven’t played in about a year or two).

I also need to think of a witty sign off… >.>

Are Games Getting Worse?

Phew… It seems like forever since I last wrote an article, but I had a lot of exam reassessments at University, so it has been stressful times. However, I believe that it is time to change that! Today I’m going to be writing about a subject that I’ve been thinking about during my relaxation time between now and the start of term. This topic is that of modern gaming and if it is an improvement or step backwards.

So, why am I writing this? This topic that has been done to death by more bloggers than I care to count. Recently I was playing through Unreal 2: The Awakening and it really came to my attention. Those who follow me on Twitch or Youtube may know that I recently did a play through of Unreal and Unreal: Return to Na Pali and I rather enjoyed them both. There’s something that I find satisfying about blowing Skaarj and other aliens apart as an escaped convict with no objective beyond escaping with your life. You do not play as a Mary Sue space marine of death and destruction in power armour, you literally play a convict who was fortunate enough to survive the crash landing on an alien planet of the prison ship that he or she was incarcerated on. You go through the ship, finding dead crew members, or alive crew members who then get brutally murdered before you find the dispersion pistol and start your journey, which has no real direction at the start, though it pieces together as the game progresses. As I said, I really did like Unreal. I’ve also been playing through the Half Life series of games again and absolutely loving those, but I will not subject you to my wild Valve fanaticism in this article. The original series were released in 1999, with the sequel and its episodes coming between 2004 and 2007, and possibly remain some of the best gaming experiences that I have had.

Now forward to Unreal 2. Again, not a new game, coming out in 2003, the game-play mechanics stayed true to the Unreal style; fast paced action and plenty of jumping and projectile dodging. However, when I got into the story and the core gameplay, you play as a preset, generic space trooper in power armour. He is not a marine, he used to be and is trying to get back in, so we can’t define him as a space marine at least, but he is rather generic. His supporting staff consist of a mechanic who did something bad in the past and is mopey about it, a blue alien pilot who is confused at everything and a third character who gets her own mini-rant. Of course, Unreal 2 fell into the trap that almost all games fall into these days: They made the female character the token eye-candy of the game. Why can developers not get out of this obsession? She wears the tightest fitting clothing ever that makes sure the gamer does not need too much imagination, comprising of a pair of tight fitting leggings and a top that looks like somebody got a crop top and cut a whole out from where her cleavage is. She also happens to be a war hero, and obviously war heroes all dress in PVC. So much rage! At least she seems to have a tough personality and is quite a fun character when conversing with the other crew members, but I am not sure her personality was the first thing that the developers were concerned about when coming up with her as a character. The story is, again, mediocre. Without getting into too much detail, you are space trooper Marshall John Dalton who is basically a galactic peacekeeper. You find an alien artifact when responding to a distress signal and, naturally, everything goes pretty bad pretty quickly. The Skaarj show up, the corporations show up and things get odd. Upon writing this I have not yet finished the game, so the ending could be incredibly amazing, though I’m not holding out much hope.

Fast forward again, though this time to the modern day. I’m going to not talk about specific games here as I do not buy many new games any more. ActiBlizz, as I like to call them, I will not buy from on principle, and EA are verging on the same with a few exceptions. I will instead talk about concepts and general ideas in gaming as I can not accurately pick apart a game that I refuse to play because it just looks so terrible and felt so terrible when I gave them a try. First on the agenda: Micro-transactions and downloadable content. This is a point that I can sympathise with as well as scornfully detest. On one hand, I can see that new content takes time and effort. This time and effort costs the company money as they have to pay the workers to produce said content. It is understandable that companies will charge for things that have costed them money to produce and this has always been the case through expansion packs which generally costed a little bit extra and gave you more content. What I do not like about modern micro-transactions and downloadable content is the fact that companies are charging people for downloadable content that is already on the disc! Not only do you pay the extortionate going rate for games that can be around £50 sometimes, but you then have to pay about £10 to access something that is already on the disc! As someone who is used to paying around £30 for a new game that will last me for a few years, I find this to be rather stupid. A good way around this, which a lot of Valve games seem to follow, is to release a game which has good game-play off the shelf and then leave the game open to the modding community. The modding community is hugely talented, a relatively recent update for Counter Strike: Global Offensive shows evidence to this, and want to create content for the games that they play. A lot of games that I play, including Team Fortress 2, the Dawn of War series, the Counter Strike series, Unreal Tournament, Killing Floor and Left 4 Dead 2, do not really have much or any paid downloadable content, barring aesthetics such as hats in Team Fortress 2 or character models in Killing Floor. What they do all have are a massive amount of community-developed content. I’ve lost count of how many maps I have downloaded from Filefront for my installation of Dawn of War Soulstorm, how many games of the zombie mod for Counter Strike: Source I have played over the years or just how three of my player models in Killing Floor look like Flandre Scarlet, Patchouli Knowledge and Hina Kagiyama from the Touhou series. Now, let’s go to Call of Duty. You pay $15 for five maps. True, those five maps are professionally made by the studio that made the game, however are they worth $3 each? They are simply not. If I’m going to pay $15 for more content, I expect there to be something of substance behind it, not just a handful of new maps. I will happily pay £10 – 15 for an expansion for a game, as long as there is some substance to it. The Secret World does this well with the issues that come out every now and again. £8 and you get a new line of missions that I have heard are very well written, as well as a new weapon to try out. I have not bought any issues because I am not such an MMO gamer, but I respect their payment model.

That brings me onto the next point. Subscriptions. I was following Wildstar, the up and coming MMO by Carbine Studios. It looked very interesting, despite its MMO status, because it catered towards role players and was being developed with role players in mind as customers. I enjoy role playing and was very excited when i heard the concept of player housing, character customisation and lore of the game world, so I got stuck in. Recently, however, the business model was released. It is going to operate on a $15 per month subscription with a base price of $60. My interest in the game immediately just vanished. What can I get for $60? Four copies of Counter Strike: Global Offensive, a Crimson Hunter flyer model that my Eldar army so desperately needs, a new Sisters of Battle unit of any variation, a healthy amount of new cyberpunk clothes and accessories, around eight new books, the list goes on and on and that only takes into account the cost of the game with the complimentary first month. Consider this. I have been playing Team Fortress 2 on and off now for around six years. Let us assume that I have only really played it for two of those years as I have been busy with studies and the like; that is twenty four months that I have been actively playing Team Fortress 2. Now let us transpose that onto Wildstar with its subscription. $60 for the game, then add $(24 * 15). I would have spent $420 on playing a game. Yes, $420! What could I get with $420 that would last me at least two years? Well, I can buy a normal game like Saints Row 4 for around $50, or I could massively expand my Eldar or Sisters of Battle army, or I could buy a Playstation 4 with Metal Gear Solid 5; don’t even get me started on how much out of the ordinary clothing I could get with that, I would be in heaven. People will claim that the subscriptions are in place because more content is being launched all the time and it’s a dynamically developed environment, but again is it worth it? The content is often lacklustre and infrequent, so I would say that it is definitely not worth it. Team Fortress 2 and Killing Floor require no subscriptions and I know for a fact that the Halloween events are just around the corner. Frankly, I am giddy with anticipation for more chances to obtain haunted metal without resorting to custom servers.

The next point is mainly for PC gaming, though I am not much of a console multiplayer gamer. The number of games featuring privately owned dedicated servers has massively dropped. I view this as purely destructive as privately owned dedicated servers hold many advantages over matchmaking services and company owned servers. All the best memories I have from gaming come from games featuring a list of dedicated servers as opposed to a matchmaking mechanic. Xyo’s Hardcore Search and Destroy server back in Call of Duty 4 , DarkDevice Synergy, Fizzadar’s Zombified World server in Garry’s Mod, NighTeam’s TF2 servers. All of these servers shared one factor that I absolutely loved. Community. Dedicated servers accumulate regular users who start to recognise each other every time they connect. It builds e-friendships, constructs a really pleasant atmosphere for those in the server, contains admins who can ban hackers or griefers on sight and settle disputes that may arise within seconds. Matchmaking removes all of this as every time you play, you will be put in a different server with different people and rely on an anti-cheat algorithm to ban cheaters, which we all know goes famously. Also, company owned dedicated servers require upkeep, so costs are increased with no real way to mitigate it efficiently, whereas privately owned dedicated servers, whilst having similar costs, have afar better way to mitigate it through donation services. I have donated to servers and mods in the past; you can find me in Synergy rocking my purple frag grenades as the “female hero” player model, and most server donation packages are not game breaking, usually just giving the user some new aesthetic toys to play around with, or coloured names in the chat. If people enjoy playing on a server with the rest of the server’s community, then people will donate to keep it running; it’s a tried and proven strategy that has lasted and improved for around a decade. Also, company owned dedicated servers means no custom content. Custom content is the lifeblood of PC gaming. It adds variety, fun, new experiences and gives a server its personality. I was streaming on Twitch this morning on a Mann vs. Machine server in Team Fortress 2 that multiplied all weapons stats by ten and introduced new wave configurations to make it challenging. I really do enjoy it because it gets incredibly hectic and downright ridiculous at times, when the pyro is rapid fire airblasting giant soldier robots’ rockets back at them, or when thirty steel gauntlet wielding heavy robots run forwards being impervious to all ranged damage but taking ludicrous amounts of melee damage and dishing out their own amount of pain in return. All of this is fun and breaks up the usual repetitive stream of official game modes, but with less and less games opting for privately owned dedicated servers, I do not see this fun part of gaming surviving. The lack of dedicated servers in my opinion is really just a huge step backwards, as if developers are trying to force PC gamers to think like console gamers. it is not going to happen!

Also, the quality of writing in games is definitely going down the drain. Consider the difference between games such as Final Fantasy VII, with such emotionally evocative moments that can literally bring a grown man or woman to tears, or Half Life’s memorable moments, environments and non-player characters, friendly or otherwise. Now consider Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Halo and World of Warcraft. Did Battlefield 3 even have a story? How similar to an 80s Stallone action film was Modern Warfare 3? None of these currently popular games contain decently written stories. Their main characters are hilariously badly written, though not in a way that can be comically interpreted like Indrick Boreale from Dawn of War Soulstorm. I do not want to play as perfect soldier #523. I do not want to be flawless and awesome at everything. World of Warcraft I have a slight soft spot for in that regard, having enjoyed the wonders of Vanilla and role-playing as a staunch traditionalist Night Elven Sentinel, but I look at it and my first reaction is: “Pandas? Really?” which is not what I should think about. However, the butchery of Warcraft is mainly community driven, so that does go to show that community can be both good and bad (I swear if I see another Blood Elf Death Knight walking around Silvermoon in-character and casually socialising with other Blood Elves, I will stab them and their conversational partners in the face. It is like nobody remembers that the Scourge almost drove them to extinction and caused them to now be a dying race). As well as poorly written narrative, there is also the issue of game-play mechanics. Call of Duty’s mechanics have not changed, yet there are at least nine of them! Battlefield as well has followed the same mechanics since at least Battlefield 1942 and actually got rid of the best feature about Battlefield 2142, which was called Titan Mode. Basically, in Titan Mode, it was the same as conquest but the capture points were anti-air gun platforms and your tickets were shields rather than reinforcements. The aim of the game was to get the shields of the opposing team’s titan down and then board it to blow it up from the inside. Oh, did I mention that there were two huge ships above the map as you fought on the ground? Well, the Titans were there. This offered so many resources to the commander and really brought about fun, team-driven game-play that relied on coordination between each squad. Is there anything innovative about Battlefield 3? Not really. Some would argue that you can blow up walls, but I hate to burst your bubble when I say that Red Faction did that way earlier. There are exceptions to this, however, mostly coming from the indie scene. Maere, when Lights Die is an indie horror game that literally had me screaming like a big baby; Element4l made me marvel at its music as I slid, rolled, puffed and burned my way through levels as my little ball of elemental power. Indie games are not the only outlet of innovation and good ideas, however. The Last of Us is a game that made me want to up and buy a Playstation 3 just so I could play it. The game has interesting characters with notable personality flaws, interesting game-play mechanics, a story that takes its time to evolve into something great.

Combined, it creates a pretty bleak future for gaming. I do not look forward to a future filled with $100 games with subscription fees, micro-transactions up the wazoo and no community-driven content. Somebody hold me, I feel faint just thinking about it.I hold out hope for the Indie scene, which is producing some really innovative gaming experiences and I recommend that everyone pays a lot, perhaps even more attention to them than triple-A developers. As usual, there are arguments for and against everything I have stated above, these are just my thoughts on the matter, so if you have your own views, leave a comment and let me know. I would have to forfeit my self-proclaimed journalistic title if I was not open minded about these things, but criticism should be constructive! Flames help no one, as Smokey Bear says: “Only you can prevent wildfires.”

I am so sure that still applies on the internet…