Archive for September, 2009


Saturday RP – Conclusions, part 2

Dueg staggered slightly as the heat once more washed over him, stronger this time, but gone much quicker as well.  Dispel, he whispered quietly, waiting to see if there was relief from a vice like feeling of pressure at the top of his sternum, where the flashes of heat were originating from.  Sweat began to break out on his brow as Reyk turned, his ears picking up the subtle movement of Dueg’s slippered feet followed by the quiet whisper.

“What ails you, Duegathalas?” came his question as Scrat and Noxt both turned in response to the pause.  The four stood in a small chamber, lit only by the purity of Reyk’s soul, gleaming from his blade.  It revealed an unnatural sort of tunnel winding into the earth, just large enough to stand abreast.  The walls revealed telltale signs that magic had been used to carve into the rock, so they had left behind the original caverns a few minutes before, confident that they were finally closing in on their target.

“I…” began Dueg, “I do no-”

“He quakes in fear at the might of the Alliance and the inevitable demise of the pitiful Horde!” came a voice from all around, resonating from every shadow even as they began to slowly creep in on the four companions, quelling the light that gleamed from Reyk’s sword.  He quickly brought it up, looking around for the source, but it was useless, for only inky shadows looked back at him, even his keen elven eyesight dampened by the increasingly obtrusive shadows.

Light! called Dueg, holding up a hand suffused with radiant light as Reyk joined in, the two faithful Sin’dorei pouring their very souls into the air around them.  A slight groan came from shadows as they fell back, momentarily defeated by the glowing points of brightness.  But after a moment, the shadow deepened, becoming almost a physical wall of blackness and began to creep forward once more, eating at the elves resolve with it’s very hatred of the holiness.  Steeling themselves, Reyk and Dueg poured as much of their faith into their extended hands as possible.

* * * * *

Finegal was holding onto to his soul with all his will.  Dark pacts he had made to get here, for this moment of ultimate hatred and vengeance against the wretched Horde and all they stood for.  He could only use this power very rarely and he knew it might draw him down into the very abyss of the Shadow itself, but it was worth it  to see these wretched beasts suffer.  The two students of the Light were fighting back though, trying to subsume his shadow with their faith.  He would crush them and then rend their souls from their body, delivering them to their precious Light.  For him, there would only be shadows.

Finegal stood… somewhere in the shadows, he wasn’t sure quite where because he didn’t know where his body ended really.  His soul had stretched beyond his corporeal form, delivering the power of the Shadow directly into the natural darkness of the cavern.  Once he had fused with it, he was able to control it, make it solid or liquid, cause it to protect or kill, though he had never used it in an act of mercy.  But it was not easy, and should his will fail…

He didn’t think on that as he gathered his resolve and began to push back against the powers of the Light.  The mage stepped forward and fired a blast of flame while the troll planted a totem in the ground, green light flowing through the four Horde.  The fire did nothing but burn out, consumed by the shadow and the totem was still so rough that it did not summon much power, barely adding any bite to the already brightly glowing hands held in defense.  Finegal almost allowed himself a moment to laugh.  Then the light shined on him and everything came undone.

* * * * *

Deep within the laboratories of Naxxramas Citadel, the gnomish lich floated gently before the blackened globe of gold powered by the bloody sapphires.  His loyal banshee was still draining some of the loyal, sycophantic cult members, willing to die if the lich asked it in order to join the perfect utopian world that it was to be a Scourge slave.  Even as their speech began to slur and their eyes took on a dull sheen, they raved about how they would serve forever in death, loyal unto the end to their undead King, may he rule forever from the glory of Icecrown.  They would serve their purpose well.

Through the globe the lich watched as the shadows drew ever increasingly in on the four Horde, somewhat impressed with the mastery of the Shadow that their opponent was showing.  But alas, he did not have time to study this interesting phenomenon, for he wished this errand done so he could move on to bigger, more important tasks.  He had delved through the shadow, looking for the annoying insect, and had found him, a human thing, bonded with Shadow through the soul.  No simple task, but easy enough to fix.  The lich placed it’s small hand upon the globe where the shadow priest was skulking and pushed with his mind, causing the shadow in the area to disperse, giving a glimpse of the priest where he stood.

A glimpse was all the four needed.

* * * * *

Scrat was the first to see him.  Finegal stood rigid with his arms straight out to his side, his fists balled up to point that blood was welling from where his fingernails sank into his flesh.  All over his body, tendrils of pure black entropy wriggled as if worms trying to swim in the still air.  They caused a shimmering effect as though shadows were constantly blurring over him even as the light reveled and began to eat at them.  Scrat stepped forward and fired a totem with an aim born of many hours of practice.  It thunked straight into the head of the blurred shadowy thing, firing off a burst of electricity.

Losing his concentration, Finegal screamed out, his hold on his soul finally slipping.  As the four watched, the shadow priest’s mouth gaped open, growing to twice the usual size as terrible cracking sounds came from the joint of his jaw.  A black smoke darker than midnight poured forth, streaming for any points of darkness as the body it had once inhabited began to blacken and decay.  Entropy took it over, a blowback from the pull of the shadow without a soul to protect it from it’s ravages.  In less than ten seconds, what had once been the shadow priest was nothing more than a quickly congealing pool of liquid rot.

The four turned away from the smell, quickly hurrying past and forging onward, knowing that they must be close if the Alliance had risked an ambush.  All that was left now was the gnome, and he could not stand up to the righteous fury at the pure sacrilege of the shadow priest that was coursing through the two devotees of the Light.  As they moved closer, the wailing began, setting them on edge, but not slowing them.  And in a laboratory in Naxxramas, long dead lips smiled at the note of fear in the wail of it’s prey.

* * * * *

End Part 2



Is PvP Strangling PvE?

We’ve all seen it.  A few hours to days before the patch hits we get the official notes.  With glee we scroll down to the pertinent class information, our eyes roaming over the changes and emotions of either disgust or excitement roll over us.  Then there it is, a line that makes your brow furrowed.  “Why would they change that into that?” or “That just makes that a little more useless now.”  Then it strikes you that the change isn’t for general use, it’s for one particular section of the game: PvP.

Sometimes the changes are minor, perhaps a simple tweak to a seldom used talent to make it more enticing to people who prefer to spend their time in arenas.  Or it could be major, a glyph changed from being a wonderful PvE tool to something that only a very specialized PvPer will look at.  No matter which way you slice it, you often see it going in one direction, which is changing something from PvE viability to PvP viability.  But why?

Well, the key word is balance.  Blizzard wants to balance the game as much as possible with no particular class having an advantage over another when they face off in single combat.  The thinking is that if you present the population with one class that has a slight edge, you’ll see a huge migration of PvPers to that class which will unbalance the game for people who are die-hard fans of their present class.  Now this can certainly be true to a certain extent, and in order to create a fun environment for everyone to play in, then the devs simply have to make changes here and there.  The only problem is that any change made for PvP purposes will have repercussions to PvE players as well.

Now look, I’m not advocating for the abolishment of PvE or anything radical like that, but the fact is that PvP does sometimes mess with PvE.  I’ll give you an example, one that will make most disc priests choke back tears of rage: the ongoing nerfing of Penance.  This is the penultimate healing spell in a disc priest’s arsenal, originally introduced with an eight second cool down.  Then nerfed to ten.  Then nerfed to twelve.  Though there is a glyph that lowers the cool down by two seconds, there was some talk about them getting rid of that as well before increasing the cooldown to twelve.

Honestly, though, I can’t think of  a reason why this would overpower disc in PvE.  In actuality, the nerfing of the spell has weakened them in that area, bringing already somewhat lower healing totals even further down.  Therefore, I’m forced to conclude that this spell, mixed with a disc priest’s damage mitigation, was considered too overpowered in PvP.  Some people posited that the nerf might be Blizzard’s way of encouraging disc priests to cast other spells, but that only gives them time to cast one more Flash Heal, which most disc priests consider slightly better than worthless.  The loss of two second on your best spell in a raiding era where a boss can sometimes kill your tank in less time than that is huge.  The idea of being able to front load heals every eight seconds in PvP, however, is a fairly scary proposition to opponents.

The issue at hand is the fact that you really can’t balance PvP  and PvE at the same time.  They’re two separate and distinct systems governed by increasingly diverse and complicated rules.  A change to one will always affect the other and more often than not it will be adverse with what you want to accomplish.  And though the majoruity of changes in PvP resonate loudly with people trying to PvE, the reverse can certainly be said to be true.  Sometimes a change to PvE will mess with the balancing, usually when Blizzard tries to make sweeping overhauls to classes.

When new patches arrive, that’s always when the devs watch hardest to see how the now live changes will affect the servers as a whole rather than just the test versions.  Then the tweaks come.  Slowly, but surely, classes are changed and molded into a system that tries it’s best to be balanced.  You don’t want warlocks destroying everyone in PvP, but you also don’t want their pets to get popped in less than two seconds.  You can’t let shamans be crazy AoE healers in PvE because it will cause them to be the only healer in arenas and no one will want to play as priests or resto druids.  Back and forth the dance will go.

In the end the problem is that you just can’t please everyone.  Some will say you shouldn’t bother trying, that some classes will simply dominate seasons of arena based on the current powers nested in their talent trees.  Others wish the game was a 100% even playing field with the outcomes decided by raw skill and knowledge of playing your class rather than the ability to tap three numbers on your keyboard over and over.  The only difference is that when you make changes to PvE you don’t have to worry about whether or not the NPCs are going to complain about overpowered raiders.  You want to balance it so that there’s no one particular class that’s leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else, but not everyone is going to switch classes just because that hunter pulls an extra 300 dps than them.

The only thing we can all agree on is that priests are the best class ever.


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