Monday, November 5, 2007

Q and A with Christie Golden: Metzen, Golden collaborated as 'Thrall's parents'

This is Part Two in a two part series of questions and answers with author Christie Golden from the Shadow Council community! You can read her introduction here, and the first part of the Q and A here. Thank you to everyone who participated!

Q. As an amateur writer myself, I understand it's quite easy to get the basic emotion down, but when I read the scene where Thrall saw Taretha's severed head, I felt like I was there, feeling his emotions course through me. How hard was it for you to portray those emotions that the future Orc Chieftan felt? --Callaghan

A. That's a tough one! All writers have strengths and weaknesses, I think--my strengths are dialogue and characterizations, especially when it comes to conveying emotions and being really "in" the character. My weakness is description, I had to work hard on that and it still is a challenge. I knew that part was coming, and I knew it would be really juicy to get into and I had to do it "right." I wanted to link up with the "tears" speech Taretha had said to Thrall earlier, that this was what first made this powerful, tough individual weep. Blackthorne saw it as a weakness, but really, the ability to love, to care about someone or something so deeply--that's a strength. Thrall took his pain and turned it into a weapon against his enemies, rather than being crippled by it. So knowing all that I did about Thrall, I really tried to dive into the character and feel it myself. I believe it was Robert Frost who said, "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader," and when I write something that gives me a lump in my throat, I know I've done my job well.

Q. When writing the story, did you have full creative control? Or was Blizzard (Or Chris Metzen) constantly in-touch, checking in on the story and making sure it was going as planned? Or in other words, were YOU able to create Thrall's past, or was it set in stone and Blizzard just needed a writer to bring it to words? --Callaghan

A. It's important to understand how tie-in fiction generally works, so that you all appreciate how remarkable my experience with Blizzard is. As I said earlier, it usually goes one way--from the product to the novelist. The way it works is generally an author submits an idea, it's approved, an outline is fleshed out, that's approved by both the publisher and the license holder, and then the author writes the book. Pretty much by herself, with no ability to contact anyone to get questions answered or so on. We do our best, and if there are problems (hopefully not) they get hashed out in the first draft. Nothing wrong with that, mind you, but it can be frustrating if you have a question and have to put it in the book without knowing if it's what's wanted or not. From the very beginning, Chris Metzen made himself available to me. "LORD OF THE CLANS" had a very solid outline to start with, as it was a game that never got developed but that Chris had always wanted to see "live" in some form. So there were a lot of things that were indeed set in stone. However, we had discussions about the color of orc eyes and skin tones and blood hues.

Sometimes I'd have a big idea that most companies wouldn't want to implement...say, Thrall having a human adopted sister. :D Blizzard was more than happy to hear my input with an open mind. Chris is an author himself, so he understands that what makes a great game doesn't necessarily make for a great read, and vice verse, so he was willing to hear what I had to say. Too, I understand the needs of tie-in fiction, and I know that it's very different from writing one's one original storylines. It's much more collaborative, and because it's their property, they always (and should!) have the final say.

Chris and I jokingly refer to ourselves as "Thrall's parents." True story--the first time I saw the trailer for Warcraft III and saw the scene where Thrall bolts upright, blinking those blue eyes, I got tears in my eyes and exclaimed, "That's my boy!" And believe me, when I first ran Old Hillsbrad, I was pretty damn giddy. :)

Q. About the time of the release of Lord of the Clans, Shadow Council suddenly went from a medium capacity realm to a full and locked realm. A lot of people blamed this on the release of your novel, as you openly admitted to playing on Shadow Council. What do you have to say to this? --Thienna

A. Ah, indeed, I remember that quite well. All kinds of things led to the queues, the least of which was likely my dedicating the book to some RPers and thanking Shadow Council. Let's remember all that was going on at that point!

Naturally Pocket Books and Blizzard wanted a novel that would get people excited about the expansion to be published shortly before the expansion itself. Media tie-in books are a sort of advertising, and with Burning Crusade due out in January, a book out in December that was all about Draenor would fan the flame for sure. That was planned a long time ago--books take a while to get from contract to bookshelf. So, out comes "RISE OF THE HORDE" in December 2006 (I was in Australia at the time, I'm not sure of the exact pub date, but it was December for sure).

December is also Christmas time, and if I recall correctly, there was a special deal in which you could purchase World of Warcraft for $19.95 and get a free month....again, trying to get people into the game in time for Burning Crusade. And playing time cards for WoW make GREAT gifts--I've given out several in my day. So I'm sure a lot of people got those and renewed their membership because of it.

Finally, remember all those people who said "Bye for now, I'll be back for the expansion?" December was probably when they came back as well, to check on their characters and get them ready for the road to 70.

I have an ego like everyone else. It'd be awesome to think my book was so wildly popular that literally thousands of people had to come join Shadow Council just because of me and my mention of the server. I'd be writing this from my estate in Italy or something. But the numbers just don't support that. I remember the first time I had a queue--my husband jokingly said "It's all your fault!" and we laughed at the absurdity of such an idea. Remember, there are nine million people playing this game, and book sales, even WoW books, only number in the thousands. The percentage of people who then actually read a dedication is a tiny fragment of that. The percentage of people who read that dedication and took it to the point of rolling a character on Shadow Council because of it probably number in the...twenties. Seriously. And that's a generous estimate. For what it's worth, I've yet to get an email or hear from anyone who actually rolled on this server around that time solely because of that dedication.

So unfortunately, I think I ended up being a bit of a scapegoat because I had a name and face. People (including me, I sat in a queue along with everyone else) got frustrated at the lengthy queue times. Someone assumed the queues were because of the book and started a thread to vent their frustration, and others hopped on the bandwagon because a single person is easier to blame than something as nebulous as Christmas + expansion in a month + inexpensive original game. And I have to admit, I'm human--it stung a bit, particularly as the whole point of the dedication was to do something to thank the server. Ah, bitter irony! :) What was lovely about this situation was that there were people who realized early on that there were other factors involved in the queues and who came to my defense who didn't even know me personally. (Mahley, if you're reading this, no, it wasn't me who thanked you in game. But I'm thanking you and the others now!) And a bit later, a second thread came on the forums, and most of those who posted on it said that yes, looking back, it probably WAS Christmas and the Burning Crusade rather than my dedication, and yes, other servers were affected just as severely, some even worse.

However, I don't think I'll be mentioning specific servers in dedications again any time soon. *laughs*

Q. Reading both your novels about Thrall and his parents have given me a huge insight on Orcish mannerisms, the history of Outland before the Burning Legion, and of some stories I barely knew. Where did you find this information and what sort of resources did you use? They'd be handy for helping my Orcish guildmates! --Theinna

A. I'm glad you enjoyed that! The bad news is there's no real resources out there...because most of that I had the honor of being able to create myself. The good news is, it's all right there in "RISE OF THE HORDE." It's canon and you're free to use whatever appeals to you. I'm a big fan of myths and legends and I love learning about other cultures and history. I got to bring that to creating the orcs before they were corrupted and their culture so badly damaged. It was a lot of fun--the courtship hunt, the pool of the ancestors--all very enjoyable to ponder over and try to shape.

Q. What do you think of the Caverns of Time: Durnholde instance? If you were able to change anything about it, what would you do? (And did you notice the stack of books in Thrall's cell? Nifty!) --Theinna

A. Truly, I wouldn't change a single thing about the escape. I loved it! The actual escape in the book was not a very big scene although it was important, so it was fun to see the developers take a simple thing like using fire as a distraction and make something really major out of it. I have a shot of my character standing next to Thrall and Taretha. Hee hee! And yes...I saw the books. That made me smile. Another great example of Blizzard's attention to detail.

Q. Do you intend to write more about Thrall? There's so much up in the air about his and Jaina's relationship between the end of WC3 and the release of WoW that I know I'd love to see actually set down in writing. --Thienna

I'm very, very fond of Thrall. The cool thing about him is he's not just a good orc leader, or a good Horde leader--he's a good leader, plain and simple. He's reasoned and thougthful but he won't be pushed around. He has an understanding of other races than his own and knows when to compromise and when to stand firm. Nothing is definite yet, but I wouldn't rule out future explorations of such an interesting character.

Q. What first attracted you to role play in WoW?

A. Nice people RPing with me! I had started the game to play with some friends in February of 2005. This was the first video computer game I'd EVER played. ZOMG u nub, hehehe. We'd started on another server and never even attempted RP there; it never occurred to me to do so. I had a simple backstory for my character, but mostly, it was just playing the game. Though it was an RP server I never saw much RP there. When my friends and I decided to try the other faction, we took it to another server--Shadow Council. One evening, someone started RPing with me, and I RPed back, somewhat nervously (it's like being in improv theater!). It was so much fun that I embraced it whole heartedly. I met a wonderful circle of friends and we've all leveled together. That I enjoy RP, as an author, is not unexpected. What is a surprise to me is just how much I enjoy the game as a game. It's a lot of fun to play.


Find out more about Christie Golden's books at http://www.christiegolden.com.

Q and A with Christie Golden: 'Ink barely dry' on new Warcraft contract

This is Part One in a two part series of questions and answers with author Christie Golden from the Shadow Council community! Thank you to everyone who participated! You can read her introduction here. Stay tuned this week for the rest of the Q and A!

Q. What is your favorite in-game silly? --Zothique

A. Haha! I like the female gnome silly, "I apologize for any inconvenience my murderous rampage may have caused." And I like the female human flirt, "I need a hero." But then again, the Tauren female "laughed so hard I milked all over the floor" is pretty hilarious too...obviously, I play a lot of races. And classes. There's just a lot out there to experience.

Q. Will you be writing any more WoW books? --Kinu, Moonguard

A. A resounding yes. The ink is barely dry on a contract I've signed for a Warcraft trilogy! I'll be working on that over the next year and a half.We haven't nailed down specifics yet, but from initial conversations with Chris, I can tell you I'm very, VERY excited about this. I truly do love the game, and Blizzard has been very supportive of me and my work. I'm a very lucky writer!

Q. How much of The Burning Crusade did you get to have input on? Were you given access to beta builds in order to build your story, or was it more that Outland was built around your story? --Hectara

A. I was brought in before all of it was nailed down, but when a lot of it was also already in place. So we really worked together a great deal on certain aspects. I was given some concept art and the ability to query about specific things, and encouraged to go all out when creating ritual, customs, creatures and so on. When the first draft was done, Chris Metzen told me he had had it printed out and given to the developers. They particularly liked the idea of the Ata'mal crystals and some of the creatures I created.

I was invited to play in Alpha and Beta and I remember well the quest in which a draenei says "By the Seven Ata'amal Crystals!" Even more fun was when I got to Outland and saw clefthooves and olemba trees. And when I saw someone riding a talbuk, you could have knocked me over with a feather I was so surprised. They never let on they'd done that! They like to surprise me with things. I think the talbuks look really cool! I have one of my own now! And no, Blizzard didn't just give it to me, I did a lot of ogre-killing just like everyone else. :)

While Blizzard had created the idea of Oshu'gun, I got to flesh it out more, and then in turn continued to develop it based on the directions I'd gone in the game. So while they definitely made most of it, I felt very welcome in "interweaving," and it was a huge kick to see things I'd specifically created envisioned by the designers. It was a real collaboration in certain areas. What I'd like to stress is how rare such things are. Usually things go in one direction in media tie-ins--from the product (a game, a movie, a TV show) to the authors doing novels. What we do is hardly ever considered "canon." I thought I had been lucky and honored when I learned that Taretha's necklace was part of a quest chain...you can imagine how pleased I was to see talbuks, clefthooves, and Old Hillsbrad.

Q. I read on your website that you got started by shopping around a manuscript of your own, and while it didn't sell, you made excellent contacts. Was that the first piece you wrote publicly? Or did you submit stories to fanfic magazines, or perhaps do other non-profit work first? --Vulpecula, Ysera

A. You know, most authors have a manuscript lying around that they cut their teeth on but that never got published. It's so common a thing that there's a term for it--"Trunk novel." Because you lock it away in a trunk and hope your descendants never decide to publish it. That was the first piece of fiction I wrote, yes. Interestingly enough, while that book was never published, I did sell two novels set in that world, "INSTRUMENT OF FATE" and "KING'S MAN AND THIEF." I had twelve books planned in that series--I was ambitious! Who knows, maybe I'll revisit that world someday. Prior to that, however, I'd had a lot of experience selling non-fiction because I'd worked for USA Today as well as two other magazines as an editor and contributor. I never did do any fanfic, unless you count the Star Trek scripts I covertly wrote in my math classes in junior high school.

Q. Do you have any advice for new writers just starting out? --Vulpecula

A. Write. It sounds flip, but it isn't. Set aside a time and place to write and do it regularly. Investigate the benefits of outlining (and by that, I don't mean the A) 1, a) b) stuff, I mean summarizing your storyline.) It's not for everyone, but it can save you so much time and headaches if you can adapt yourself to it. Nothing worse then getting halfway through a novel and petering out because you took a wrong plot turn around page 50. Tony Hillerman just goes--my mind boggles, I need an outline. Give this the importance it deserves. Make a little ritual of it... maybe you play certain music, or light certain candles (scent is a BIG part of memory). Your brain will start to recognize these signals and drop into "writing mode" more quickly and easily. Read a wonderful book called "Bird By Bird," by Anne Lamott. Realize that you will get rejection letters, and some of them will be nasty. Attend science fiction conventions and writer's conferences. But in the end...just keep writing.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Voices of Justin Gross

His voice is deep. It resonates lowly. Decisive consonants are articulated from the lips and tongue in a strong, focused way—the kind of focus you expect from someone with an unbreakable will. The British vowels, masculine and noble, demand loyalty of the listener. It is sometimes ruthless. It is a voice undoubtedly familiar with power…

That is the voice of actor Justin Gross, as recorded for the hero-turned-villain Arthas in the video game “Warcraft III.”

In the 2002 video game “Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos,” the character Prince Arthas is faced with protecting his father’s land against impossible odds. In searching for the power to protect his kingdom, he betrays his own people to obtain an evil sword called Frostmourne.

The actor said if he were ever in Arthas’s shoes, he might have taken Frostmourne too.

“Under those circumstances?” he said. “I think everybody has the propensity for evil in them—for doing evil things in certain situations.”

It was that attitude that let Gross get into character for Arthas.

“I guess everyone’s got a little capacity for evil in them,” he said.

The actor recorded all Arthas’s dialogue in Warcraft III line by line. Typically for video game voice work, he said, an actor will not be given a script. Instead, actors are given lines one at a time. A director talks him through the context of each particular line and he has no interaction with the other voice actors in the scene.

For that reason, Gross said he usually prefers to work on TV episodes, where the actor is given a full script and interacts with the other voice actors in the scene.

TV episodes also pay a residual fee each time the episode is aired, so one episode’s recording session has the opportunity to pay off with each episode rerun.

Despite his TV preference, he enjoyed working with Blizzard on Warcraft III, where he got voice direction from World of Warcraft music composer Jason Hayes.

“He was really good to work with,” Gross said in a telephone interview last August. “Everyone at Blizzard was very professional.”

Crives,” a Shadow Council player who played Warcraft III, said he thought Gross’s voice was particularly memorable as Arthas transformed from a good paladin to an evil death knight.

“I really caught his emotions well as he was becoming a death knight,” Crives said in an in-game interview Friday.

The player said he was disappointed Gross would not be continuing to work with Blizzard for the World of Warcraft expansion “Wrath of the Lich King.”

Gross has been doing voice work since 1992, and his verbal styles vary extensively from the dark, commanding Arthas to the more youthful, friendly Captain America in the show “Ultimate Avengers.” He has voiced commercials for Pepsi, Nokia, and Saturn, to name a few brands. He has also narrated documentaries.

Speaking on his cell phone from his home in Houston, Texas, the voice actor sounded like a regular guy. He did not have a languid Texan drawl—because he is actually from northern California. He graduated from Nevada Union High School in 1990, and then decided he wanted to teach.

Gross taught at the now-closed Placer Hills Elementary School in Meadow Vista, Calif. for half a year. He was filling in for a teacher on maternity leave. After a few months there, he knew teaching was not his preferred career.

“It was a dreary experience, and I just realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do,” he said.

He began acting onstage at Sacramento’s B Street Theater. While there, he worked with stage and voice actress Elisabeth Nunziato, who he says was his inspiration for becoming a voice-over actor.

“I really admired her lifestyle. She didn’t have a regular job,” Gross said.

After hearing Nunziato’s voice on the radio, Gross decided voice acting would be something worth trying out. He asked Nunziato to coach him, and she agreed.

They made a demo tape together that landed him several jobs. Gross moved to L.A., where he said he was doing auditions for voice work every day.

Today, Gross lives in Houston, Texas, where he is working on some real estate property he bought in partnership with his brother. He still does some voice work each week, though he is not as busy as he once was in L.A. Moving to Texas, he said, let him take a break.

The actor hopes to move back to L.A. next year to concentrate again on his voice acting.

“Voice acting has been very good for me,” he said. It gives him the freedom to do something a little different each day.





The Strider's Lacey Waymire can be reached at shc.strider@gmail.com.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Coming Soon: Community Q & A with author Christie Golden

World of Warcraft Author Christie Golden has contacted The Strider and offered to answer questions from the Shadow Council community!

Author Christie Golden has published two major World of Warcraft novels: "Lord of the Clans," about Thrall's childhood, and "Rise of the Horde," about Thrall's father Durotan and the orcs' early dealings with demons. Many of her world creations for "Rise of the Horde" were built in-game for "World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade."

Her book "Firstborn" is the first in the Starcraft trilogy "Dark Templar Saga" and was released last May. The second book in that series, "Shadow Hunters," will come out in late November. Her newest book, "Under Sea's Shadow," is the third book in an original series published this month.

Golden herself has been playing World of Warcraft for more than two years on several different servers, though she says it is on Shadow Council that she learned to role-play.

If you would like to submit a question to Christie Golden, email The Strider at shc.strider@gmail.com or post a comment here.

Thank you for your participation!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Q and A with Aaron Rosenberg

The Strider teamed up with Shadow Council community members to ask Warcraft author Aaron Rosenberg about his books and games. You can read his introduction here, and read his answers to your questions below!

Thank you to everyone who participated!

Q. Do you play World of Warcraft?

A. I do, yes, though sadly not as often as I'd like. There just aren't enough hours in the day to do everything. :)

Q. Who is your favorite main character in Tides of Darkness?

A. That's a tough call. I really like both Lothar and Turalyon, but I had a great time writing Orgrim because I got to show what was going on inside his head. I have to admit, I also have a fondness for Thoras Trollbane, though--he doesn't get much screen time but he was a blast to write when he was around.

Q. As far as story settings go, what do you find easier to write, Warcraft or Starcraft? Or to be a bit more precise, do you prefer a more science fiction based story or the classic fantasy? --Leiander

A. WarCraft is definitely easier, as is fantasy in general. You simply don't have to explain as much, both in terms of how the setting works and in terms of the races. Everyone understands what an orc is right away, but explaining the protoss and the zerg is a lot harder.

Q. How difficult did you find it to reconcile Warcraft II's black and white depiction of the Horde and Alliance with the more recent gray areas expanded upon in later-published games and lore which pose the Horde as being actually a somewhat good force? --Hectara

A. It wasn't that hard to do, actually. The games, as with any visual medium, are more surface-oriented, so you don't know what the characters are thinking and feeling, what motivated them and drove them to those actions. Books let you examine those elements and understand their perspective. No one ever considers him- or herself to be evil--everyone feels he or she is doing the right thing somehow, and in a novel you can portray that.

Q. How would you describe your experience in working for Blizzard? --Deveran

A. They're great! They've been so friendly throughout the process of each book, and so helpful as far as feedback and support. I'm really glad I've gotten to work with them on so many books already, and I'm definitely hoping to continue the relationship.

Q. Since you write, create video games, and play role-playing games, how much do you find the different storytelling mediums influencing each other? Are the stories in your video games like those in your books, etc? --Malorn

A. Actually, I don't write video games--I write tabletop roleplaying games (though I would love to write video games as well). But yes, the stories and styles and elements certainly influence each other. Creating a game involves a lot of worldbuilding, and as a result when I write novels I want a very detailed world and a full understanding of how it works. I like to think that gives my settings more solidity than they'd have otherwise. I don't tell many stories in my roleplaying games--just short adventures and short fiction snippets to give people ideas of where they can go with their own stories--but certainly every game I've created has given me ideas for novels set in those worlds.

Q. In what systems do you play tabletop RPGs?

A. I play almost anything, actually. I've done a lot of World of Darkness (old and new) over the years, a lot of Dungeons and Dragons, a lot of d20 and OGL, plus I've played things like Ars Magica, Marvel Super-heroes, Amber, Immortal, etc. And of course I've played each game I've written. :)

Q. What do you find more challenging: writing, RPGs, or video games? What is most rewarding? --Malorn

A. They each have their own challenges. Writing an RPG is all about building a world and creating the rules so others can tell stories there. Writing a novel is all about telling a particular story. I suppose the RPG is harder because it requires creating everything from scratch, whereas a novel set in a good existing world (like WarCraft or StarCraft) already has elements in place.

Q. Have you ever turned a book into a game? --Malorn

A. Yes, when I wrote the Deryni Roleplaying Game. That was fun because I had a whole world already and just had to make sense of it and show how others could tell their own stories there as well. I've also turned one of my own stories into a game, though it wasn't a novel--I wrote a short story called "Spookshow" and liked the idea so much I created a game by the same name. Sometimes a story's setting just cries out, "There are more stories here! Share them!"

Q. How does writing compare to roleplaying? Do you ever miss the character control in roleplaying? --Darsha

A. Writing is more all-inclusive than roleplaying--even if you've only got one central character you're writing the secondary characters and creating the plot and describing the setting all by yourself. When you're roleplaying, someone else (the GM) is handling the plot, the setting, and the secondary characters, and others (the other players) are handling all the other principal characters, so it's a lot more collaborative. That also means I've got a lot more control over my one character when roleplaying, but when writing I get to control (or at least narrate) all of them at once.

Q. Do you have an original series in the works?

A. Not right now, no. I have ideas for several, of course, and I'm talking to various editors about those and other projects, but nothing definite right now.

Q. Do you have other non-Warcraft related projects coming up, that we can look forward to? --Deveran

A. The third book of my Warhammer trilogy, Hour of the Daemon, should be out in November. I have another book coming out next year that I can't talk about yet. After that we'll see.



Photo courtesy Aaron Rosenberg/Oct. 2007

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Gold Record

This week’s auction house averages see a dramatic shift from the norm; Horde goods have continued a low trend, while Alliance goods have shot up, on average. Alliance goods are averaging 26 points above their Horde counterparts. This is the farthest Alliance goods have been above Horde goods on record.

The Alliance’s stiffly rising average is largely due to extremely high demand for Linen Cloth. At 286 points, it is at a four-month high (rising 200 points from our last average). Lower-end metals are also all selling high right now – Copper Ore rose 59 points to 132, Tin Ore rose 77 points to 136 and Iron Ore rose 6 points to 132. The rest of the metals are all within the “normal” range, selling between 80 and 120 points.

It’s important to note that Fel Iron has risen 46 points to 99, resuming normal trading values after a five-week slump. Aside from Linen Cloth’s very high mark, almost every other cloth is coming in at normal values. The exception to this is Netherweave Cloth, which is still riding low at 72 points. This is the eighth week in a row that Netherweave Cloth has been below 80 points.

On the Horde side, many of the prior trends have continued. Mithril Ore is still slightly low, although it has come up 39 points from our last recorded average and is now at 79 points. Despite the very high prices of Linen Cloth on the Alliance auction houses, it is selling at 54 points on the Horde side (up 5 points). Horde Tailors have enjoyed these very low Linen prices for nine weeks so far. The demand for Wool Cloth has calmed down as well, dropping 82 points to land at 105. Runecloth is doing well; it rose 43 points to land at 126.

Jason Coleman has recorded auction house values for both Horde and Alliance since April 2007. He has monitored many of the raw trade goods (common ores and cloth) that are constantly on the auction houses, employing them as an indicator of market health. Taking averages from his data, each material has been given a value of 100 points (or percent) and is analyzed based on deviation from this value. Continuing each week, the Shadow Council Strider will post his analyses in this article, the Gold Record.



Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Review: Here Without You

The Vitals: The Strider receives its first review request! Horkin, a Horde-side player on Shadow Council, wrote in to suggest an older Warcraft video, "Here Without You," by Dimoroc. As warned by Horkin, the video is not in the least amusing and viewers should prepare themselves to have their emotions toyed with. Enjoy it or not, the dramatics of "Here Without You" cannot be denied.

Story: 4/5
The story of "Here Without You" is simple and well told. Without a single line of dialog, we learn the story of the human Dimoroc, his excursion to the north with his beloved at his side, their subsequent deaths at the hands of Redsword, and finally Dimoroc's revenge. The story is touching, sad and visually eloquent.

Text and Titles: 2/5
Serviceable, though pixelated more than YouTube can account for. Also, I'm going to have to slap "Here Without You" with a penalty for overlong (an ellipsis is 3 periods, not 4) and overuse of ellipsises. Simple line breaks would have more than sufficed.

Camera and Effects: 4/5
There is a little bit of mouse shake, but camera angles are generally excellent and quite cinematic. There are few effects in this story-heavy video, but the scenery is used to wonderful effect. Well done.

Music and Editing: 4/5
As the title would certainly imply, the video is set to "Here Without You," by 3 Doors Down. Now, I own one of their early CDs and only that one. I like the group, but not enough to let their music get stuck looping in my head. However, the effect of the song along with the video is quite beautiful.

Wipes and cuts are nicely timed with both the beat and content of the song. The result is an excellent building of dramatic tension as we first wonder why we're watching this Forsaken man, then learn of his life, his love, his death, and finally his revenge and closure.

Overall Score: 4/5
"Here Without You" had me sobbing like a child. Well done, even if I occasionally resent having my emotions toyed with. A classic Warcraft movie, despite its age, and well worth a few moments of your time. Touching, imaginative, moving and well crafted. Bravo!

On a related note, Dimoroc did create a sequel to "Here Without You." Will there be more? I hope so. Dimoroc seems to have a flair for telling stories without a spoken word.


Want me to review your video? Send me a link at ShC.Strider@GMail.com.


About the Author:
E.D. Lindquist is a multimedia consultant for a large newspaper association. She has produced video for a major daily newspaper and helped to create standards for online production throughout California.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Gold Record

This week’s Gold Record finds continuing low average prices for both Horde and Alliance auction houses. Horde average prices have risen 6 points from last week, but are still slightly low at 96 points, whereas Alliance average prices have fallen 6 points from last week, landing at 85 points. This continues a four-week trend for the Alliance being a buyer’s market and is the second concurrent week of buyer’s market for the Horde.

On the Alliance side, there were a couple of sharp increases in prices of goods. Both Iron Ore and Runecloth are up (40 and 32 points respectively), bringing both up above the 100-point mark. Countering the affects of these two increases, Linen Cloth, Silk Cloth and Mageweave Cloth have all dropped (58, 50 and 26 points respectively) from last week’s high values, each residing in the 85-100 point range. Fel Iron Ore continues to be very low demand (at 53 points) and a supply of very low-priced Wool Cloth has registered at 59 points.

On the Horde side, metal has been in high demand. Rising prices for Copper Ore, Tin Ore and Fel Iron Ore have raised the average value of Horde goods this week (rising 31, 36 and 24 points respectively). This was a mostly corrective action, as the rise brought Copper Ore to 99 points and Fel Iron Ore to 89, although Iron Ore has inflated to 126 points. Despite the aforementioned rises, Mithril Ore, Runecloth and Netherweave Cloth have all been in low demand. Mithril Ore has dropped 38 points from last week’s already low value, landing at 40 points. Netherweave and Runecloth have both corrected from last week’s high value, dropping 23 and 45 points to land at 91 and 83 points respectively.

Jason Coleman has recorded auction house values for both Horde and Alliance since April 2007. He has monitored many of the raw trade goods (common ores and cloth) that are constantly on the auction houses, employing them as an indicator of market health. Taking averages from his data, each material has been given a value of 100 points (or percent) and is analyzed based on deviation from this value. Continuing each week, the Shadow Council Strider will post his analyses in this article, the Gold Record.

Coming Soon: Q and A with author Aaron Rosenberg

Shadow Council players are invited to submit their questions

World of Warcraft author Aaron Rosenberg has contacted The Strider and agreed to answer questions from the Shadow Council community!

Last month Rosenberg's book "Tides of Darkness" was released. It follows Orgrim Doomhammer, Anduin Lothar, and other heroes during the events of the second war in the strategy game "Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness."

Rosenberg also wrote "Queen of Blades," which was published in May 2006 and set in Blizzard Entertainment's Starcraft world. He has previously written for Star Trek, White Wolf, Warhammer, and Wizards of the Coast.

When he is not writing books or short stories, he is managing his own video game company Clockworks, role-playing, blogging, editing, or taking care of his two children. He lives in New York with his wife and family.

If you would like to submit a question to Aaron Rosenberg, email The Strider at shc.strider@gmail.com or post a comment here by 10 p.m. Mountain time Wednesday, Sept. 26.

Thank you for your participation!

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Gold Record

This week’s auction house averages have seen low prices across both Horde and Alliance auction houses. The two Shadow Council markets are currently very near to each other, currently just one point apart (with the Horde at 90 points and the Alliance at 91). The two markets are very similar in regards to ores, however each market maintains its own distinct trends when cloth is considered.

The Alliance market has dropped slightly since last week, losing 2 points from its average. Every ore except for Thorium Ore is down from last week, and Thorium is only up 1 point (from 109 to 110 points). Despite the widely-sweeping lowered prices, costs haven’t changed too dramatically. The average change from last week’s prices (considering only the ores that have dropped since last week) is 17 points, however the bulk of that comes from Copper Ore and Iron Ore, which have lost 27 and 31 points respectively. Cloth prices have also continued fairly steadily, with the only major changes being in the prices for Silk Cloth and Mageweave Cloth. Each has risen since last week’s averages, with Silk Coth gaining 50 points at 136 and Mageweave Cloth gaining 18 points at 123.

On the Horde side, prices have shifted dramatically since last week, dropping 11 points across the board. Copper Ore, Tin Ore, Mithril Ore and Silk Cloth have all experienced dramatic price drops since last week (30 points or more), whereas Mageweave Cloth and Netherweave Cloth have both gained in prices. Copper Ore and Mithril Ore are especially low, having each lost 55 points from last week (Copper dropped to 68 points and Mithril Ore dropped to 77 points). Linen Cloth has continued its low trend, coming in at 53 points (up 2 from last week), and Netherweave Cloth has pushed past the 100 point marker by rising 40 points from last week and landing at 113 points.

Jason Coleman has recorded auction house values for both Horde and Alliance since April 2007. He has monitored many of the raw trade goods (common ores and cloth) that are constantly on the auction houses, employing them as an indicator of market health. Taking averages from his data, each material has been given a value of 100 points (or percent) and is analyzed based on deviation from this value. Continuing each week, the Shadow Council Strider will post his analyses in this article, the Gold Record.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

As chemo continues, health improving some for 11-year-old with brain cancer, says father

The health of Ezra Chatterton, the fifth-grade World of Warcraft player diagnosed with brain cancer, is improving “in a lot of ways,” according to his father Micah Chatterton.

After regularly taking severe, prescribed painkillers, Ezra is no longer taking any prescription pain medication, something his father said the doctors had little expectation he could do.

A reduction in prescribed pain killers culminated Saturday, when Ezra stopped taking morphine altogether. His father, who works as a caregiver for an elderly woman while taking care of his son during the week, said in a phone interview Tuesday that the morphine withdrawals could last five to seven days.

“Which is a good sign that the treatments have had a positive effect on the tumors,” said Micah.

“Right now I'm just very happy that he's where he's at now, and that the cancer's not growing.”

The fifth-grader has finished radiation treatments, but has five chemotherapy treatments left. He takes one chemo treatment every six weeks. His father said that when Ezra takes chemotherapy, he is sick for about a week. He then has five weeks to recover before beginning the cycle again.

Four months ago, when Ezra made his trip to Blizzard studios in Irvine, he was having double vision. His father said swelling in his brain put pressure on a nerve to his eye, which caused his eye to lose mobility. He wore an eye patch to help. But now the swelling is down, and the eye patch is “mostly cosmetic,” Micah said. “He wears it and his fedora when he goes out.”

Ezra tires quickly. He cannot walk more than 100 feet at a time, and does not have a lot of stamina to play WoW, Micah said, though he does strategize with his father about what his character needs in the game.

“He's still very involved with the mythology and strategy of the game—he's just not playing it very much. It's very much a part of his fantasy world that he imagines while he's lying in bed.”

Micah is looking forward to starting physical therapy, which will help rebuild Ezra's strength, and allow his activity level to increase.

Ezra's character “Ephoenix” has been sometimes fighting in the “Battlegrounds,” a place where players can fight with each other, because he can earn new armor and weapons there.

“His set (of armor) has gone a little out of date in the last couple patches,” Micah said.

Shadow Council player “Adriano” was glad to hear Ezra was able to stop taking morphine. “That's good news,” the player said in an in-game interview. “Certainly I wish him the best.

Players can post well-wishes and find information about his benefit fund at the Web site, ezrachatterton.org.

--L. Waymire

Friday, September 7, 2007

Real-life friendships made, celebrated at meet and greet

The second annual Meet and Greet for World of Warcraft players on the Shadow Council server is coming Sept. 22 at the Maryland Renaissance Festival in Crownsville, Md.

Renaissance Faire admission is $18 at the door. Costumes are optional.

Organizer Amy Bullach of Herdon, Va. (better known as “Sheva”), said she has made real-life friends while playing World of Warcraft—friends who can relate to each other outside of the virtual world.

After chatting online with other players, and discovering common interests, Bullach learned some of them lived nearby, and decided to try to meet with them last fall.

“When a number of people expressed an interest in visiting it kind of naturally morphed into an official meet and greet,” she said in an online interview.

“I've gotten to know a lot of fellow Shadow Council folk on a more real, personal basis, and consider myself very lucky in that regard,” she said. “…I consider many close and trusting friends and often can share hard times with them as well as celebrations and am met with a lot of love, support and friendship.”

Christina Cericola of Collingswood, N.J. went last year, and plans to come again this year.

“I think people who play/role-play on WoW are a creative bunch, like me,” Cericola said. “The kind of people I would hang out with in real life.”

In fact, Cericola has been playing her character “Engl” ever since her husband took her to a Meet and Greet in June of 2005.

“All I knew about WoW was it was a game (my husband) played for hours while I went shopping,” Cericola said in an in-game interview. “Then he says, ‘hey, let’s go meet some people.’ I said sure, not really paying attention.”

That meet and greet was hosted by “Ruzska,” a player who was a minor server celebrity for her numerous in-game events. There, Cericola met people who were “so cool” they convinced her to try the game.

Organizer Bullach said she will arrive early at the festival to stake out a table at the main tavern, which participants can then use as a “home base” between shows. The faire opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m.

According to the organizer, 14 people came to last year’s event. Though she expects a smaller number this year, she said she is looking forward to meeting some new players.

Agoriss” will be one of those new faces. He hopes the Renaissance Festival will provide a good social icebreaker “for meeting those strange people who geek out on WoW, role-playing all day long.”

“I also look forward to maybe making friends that I can see away from WoW,” Agoriss wrote in an email, “ ‘cause let’s face it... we can't spend our whole lives in the darkness of our computer room playing WoW all day!”

The organizer said she tries to keep things flexible. The group may tour Washington, D.C. the day after the Renaissance Festival if there is interest.

Sept. 22 starts “Adventure Weekend” at the Renaissance Festival, which is a sailor- and explorer-themed weekend. Costumes are optional. Performers will include the Medieval Times, a jousting group.

--L. Waymire

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Gold Record

This past week’s auction house averages find continuing overall trends from the last two weeks, although once again, many individual items have shifted around. As is common, the prices on the Alliance auction houses were lower than on the Horde auction houses, although the difference has grown slightly this week to a 10 point difference.


On the Alliance side, Copper Ore has broken its low trend, rising 20 points from last week to 93 points. In fact, all of the basic ores are at or above 90 points, with the notable exception of Fel Iron Ore, which is coming in at an average price of 56 points (up 16 points from last week). Despite the slightly high averages, no Ores averaged higher than Iron Ore, which was only 117 points, meaning that the Ore prices have been very balanced on the auction house this past week. For the most part, cloth prices have dropped since last week, with Wool Cloth and Silk Cloth dropping especially dramatically (dropping 60 and 44 points respectively). Despite this trend in cloth, Mageweave Cloth prices have risen 28 points since last week, landing at 104 points.

Horde auction houses have seen similar averages in terms of ores, with most metals coming in around the average of 100 points. The lowest priced ore is Fel Iron Ore, which comes in at a respectable 82 points (up 20 points from last week). The most expensive ore currently is Mithril Ore, which is up 21 points from last week at 133 points. Continuing low demand for Linen Cloth has kept the prices very low on the Horde auction houses, registering an average of 51 points this week (up 1 point from last week). Despite the availability of Linen Cloth, Wool Cloth remains in high demand (and low supply), commanding prices at 196 points. Other cloth prices have continued their trends, with Runecloth still demanding above-average prices at 126 points (down 38 points from last week) and Netherweave Cloth being relatively low-demand (at 72 points).

Jason Coleman has recorded auction house values for both Horde and Alliance since April 2007. He has monitored many of the raw trade goods (common ores and cloth) that are constantly on the auction houses, employing them as an indicator of market health. Taking averages from his data, each material has been given a value of 100 points (or percent) and is analyzed based on deviation from this value. Continuing each week, the Shadow Council Strider will post his analyses in this article, the Gold Record.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

'Sword of the Tides' project aims to include all players

A server-wide role playing project, open to anyone's participation no matter what level or faction, began Monday on the Shadow Council forums. The organizer, who plays a gnome with mysterious motivations called “Pennydrop,” says she has written what she hopes is an adventure/mystery storyline that can be played by anyone.


The storyline began with a puzzle that was distributed on the forums for players to solve. The puzzle offered a reward for the first person to solve it, and from there, more quests and events will slowly reveal the plot behind “Sword of the Tides.”

“Basically it's your standard archetypical adventure story -- there's trouble with the seas, this mysterious Pennydrop person needs adventurers to investigate, and rewards will be offered,” the organizer said in an in-game interview.

Pennydrop says the real goal behind her project is to include everyone who wants to participate.

“Having been on ShC for a long while now, and having been involved in a lot of role-playing, feeling ‘shut out’ or excluded is one of those complaints that comes up a lot,” Pennydrop said. “And it's not always something that people do intentionally. There (are) a number of factors that can cause new and old role-players alike to feel like they're on the outside looking in…so I kind of wanted to do an event that was advertised as both ‘big’ and ‘open’ from the very beginning, and try to plan things in such a way that anyone could get involved.”

In order to involve players on a large scale, Pennydrop says, she has planned several different ways for people to interact with the story. She has assistants in both the Horde and Alliance factions. Events will take place in-world which anyone can attend. If a player’s schedule means they can’t attend an event, there are puzzles and riddles to ponder. Players may also collect virtual items in-game for Pennydrop—something that can be done alone or in a group, at the player’s leisure.

Prizes include three rare turtle mounts, which will be given away during the course of the story.

Three players have already individually solved the first clue, a coded message. The first player to solve the cipher was “Heulwen,” who could not be reached at press time. She will be given a prize. The second player was “Juliard,” who says he spent four hours on and off working to solve the cipher.

“…I've always loved codes so I gave it a shot, and once I started working on it, I couldn't stop,” Juliard said in an in-game interview. “Got more intrigued once I read the further Tides details and saw the web site.”

Juliard, who has been role-playing for about 15 years, said this type of open storyline is his favorite way to play in the world. He enjoys reacting to events and seeing how others respond in kind.

And now that the first puzzle is solved, Pennydrop says an in-game event is on its way. An announcement will be made on the forums and on the Sword of Tides web site.

“It's always good to see someone start up some open RP that people are excited about!” Juliard's player said. “And, I can't wait for the next contest, so I can win!”

Who is Pennydrop?

“Pennydrop” made her first appearance last December when she mysteriously sent out a single gold coin to many characters of both factions during “Winter Veil,” the game’s gift-giving holiday in December. Why did she do it?

According to a poll taken last winter, the majority of players don't want to know about Pennydrop's in-character motivations—they enjoyed the mystery of her identity.

“My main concern at the time was whether people would actually like to associate a face and a backstory with the Pennydrop character, or whether they preferred the mystery,” Pennydrop said in an in-game interview. “And by far, everyone liked the mystery better, so I'm really going to play that up in the Sword of the Tides story.”

Players interested in participating should send their puzzle solutions to Pennydrop, either via an in-game message, an email to pennydrop@swordoftides.com, or via a private message to Pennydrop on Roleplayer's Haven. Players can also contact her assistants, Silvia on the Alliance side or Goldstein on the Horde side.

Pennydrop thanks the server of Shadow Council. “It's because of the experiences I've had here that I'm motivated to do this; we have a wonderful RP community on both the Alliance and Horde sides of the fence,” she said.
--L. Waymire

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Gold Record

This week, the two auction houses continued prices with the average trends that we saw last week, with Horde goods coming in slightly above the average at 104 points and Alliance goods coming in slightly lower than the average at 95 points. Both sides have seen a very slight gain over last week’s prices of 102 and 93 points respectively.

Despite the similar average to last week, on the Alliance side many of the individual goods’ trends have shifted. Fel Iron Ore is down 46 points to 40 points this week. Mithril Ore is down 53 points to 72 points, and Mageweave Cloth is down 89 points at 76. Counteracting these dropping prices were several smaller rises. Iron Ore is up 29 points at 109 points. Linen Cloth, Wool Cloth, and Runecloth are also all up this week (56, 76 and 19 points respectively) at 127, 131 and 105 points. We have seen some consistency in the market – Copper Ore, Adamantite Ore and Netherweave Cloth have all had less than 5 point changes over the past three weeks, making their prices very stable in this volatile market.


On the Horde auction houses, there were few major drops in prices: Fel Iron Ore and, to a lesser extent, Tin Ore. For the first time in 6 weeks, Tin Ore has come in below the 100 point marker at 75 points (dropping 28 points from last week to do so). Fel Iron Ore dropped 94 points from last week, landing at an all time low of 63 points. Linen Cloth continues its low trend while Mithril Ore continues to be slightly above average (50 and 112 points, respectively). The largest gain on the market over last week was Runecloth, which increased 28 points above last week's already high price, to 164 points.


Jason Coleman has recorded auction house values for both Horde and Alliance. He has monitored many of the raw trade goods (common ores and cloth) that are constantly on the auction houses, employing them as an indicator of market health. Taking averages from his data, each material has been given a value of 100 points (or percent) and is analyzed based on deviation from this value. Continuing each week, the Shadow Council Strider will post his analyses in this article, the Gold Record.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Gold Record

This week’s Gold Record finds a flip in the relative costs of goods, with Alliance goods coming in cheaper than Horde goods for the first time in two weeks. The two averages are less than 10 points apart, with Horde goods averaging 102 points and Alliance goods averaging 93.

On the Alliance side, Copper Ore has dropped slightly to 80 points, continuing its downward trend. Tin Ore, Linen Cloth and Wool Cloth have all had dramatic reversals, dropping nearly 80, 200 and 140 points respectively from last week (leaving them at 42, 71 and 55 points). Balancing these dramatic drops, both Mithril Ore and Mageweave Cloth are up from last week, Mithril Ore rising nearly 50 points to 125 and Mageweave Cloth climbing 65 points to 165. Finally, Netherweave Cloth has continued with its mild market, at 76 points this week.

On the Horde auction house, Copper Ore continues its mild trend at 86 points. At 47 points, Linen Cloth continues to be in low demand for the third week in a row. With prices nearly identical to the Alliance auction houses, Netherweave Cloth has also been mild at 76 points. Despite these continuing low trends, demand has recently increased prices for Mithril Ore, Fel Iron Ore and Runecloth (at 119, 157, and 136 points respectively).



Jason Coleman has recorded auction house values for both Horde and Alliance. He has monitored many of the raw trade goods (common ores and cloth) that are constantly on the auction houses, employing them as an indicator of market health. Taking averages from his data, each material has been given a value of 100 points (or percent) and is analyzed based on deviation from this value. Continuing each week, the Shadow Council Strider will post his analyses in this article, the Gold Record.



Saturday, August 18, 2007

Review: Return

The Vitals:
"Return" is an older video, but one of the first I'd ever encountered. It is the first chapter in the story of Voldigar, a human man who leaves for war and returns to find his home, Stromgarde, in ruins. His wife is dead and his life is in shambles. But Voldigar promises to avenge what has happened and gathers his old comrades to take back Stromgarde from the invading ogres.

Story: 5/5:
In a pervasive market of music and raid videos, Return is a rare jewel. While the story is an old one, it is told well and places seamlessly in the Warcraft setting. The sage character runs the risk of being too powerful for the story, but so far, she has been well-written. Voldigar himself is a pitiable and admirable old man, crippled but not crushed by the horrors of his life. I will have to wait for the rest of the story, but the first chapter sets a sad, beautiful scene.

Text and Titles: 3/5
Tastefully understated.

Camera and Effects: 5/5
The camera is handled exceptionally well; someone has a very steady mouse hand. They mimic standard camera angles and movements almost perfectly. The in-game effects are largely limited to costuming the characters as they rally to take back Stromgarde, but the pre-BC wardrobe is used to excellent effect to create the illusion of not a raiding party but a cinema-worthy cast of characters. You know what they say: Clothes make the man.

Music and Editing: 4/5
Most of the music used in Return is from the game itself and used to great, if slightly cliche, effect. The video edits are well-timed to the score. In fact, my only complaint (and corresponding docking of points) is the voicing of Voldigar, which strikes me as occasionally melodramatic.

Overall Score: 4/5
A wonderful story and video only slightly marred by some cheesy writing. I look forward to the sequels.


Want me to review your video? Send me a link at ShC.Strider@GMail.com.


About the Author:
E.D. Lindquist is a multimedia consultant for a newspaper association. She has produced video for a major daily newspaper and helped to create standards for online production throughout California.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Gold Record

This week’s Gold Record finds continuing elevated prices during peak play times, although prices have relaxed slightly since last week. Both Horde and Alliance auction houses are down roughly 4 points from last week, although they both do still sit slightly above the average value of goods.

On the Alliance side, prices are generally down. Last week’s high prices on both Mithril Ore and Mageweave Cloth have returned to normal values, at 78 and 100 points respectively. Demand for Linen Cloth has continued strong, actually increasing since last week (up 130 points from last week, at 271 points). The great deals on Tin Ore have also dried up, as Tin Ore prices have risen nearly 90 points to 121 points. Both Fel Iron Ore and Netherweave Cloth have been going for relatively low prices (64 and 71 points, respectively), and both are down since last week.

On the Horde side, trends have mostly continued since last week, although they have shown signs of growing milder. Last week’s highest prices (Wool and Silk Cloth) have both dropped much closer to the 100 mark, at 105 and 102 points respectively. Copper Ore is currently going for below the average (at 89 points), but Tine Ore has risen to 147 points. The lowest price on the Horde auction house is currently Linen Cloth, continuing low from last week. Despite its current low value, it has actually risen 12 points since last week, clocking in at 57 points.


Jason Coleman has recorded auction house values for both Horde and Alliance. He has monitored many of the raw trade goods (common ores and cloth) that are constantly on the auction houses, employing them as an indicator of market health. Taking averages from his data, each material has been given a value of 100 points (or percent) and is analyzed based on deviation from this value. Continuing each week, the Shadow Council Strider will post his analyses in this article, the Gold Record.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Cross-faction fiction site hits 100 registered users

World of Warcraft Fiction, a forum-based collection of art and stories by players from multiple role-playing servers, welcomed its 100th registered user at the end of last month.

According to owner Jean-Philippe Laliberté of Trois-Rivières, Quebec, WoW Fiction is a writer’s community with sections for art, Alliance stories, Horde stories, world lore, cross-faction stories, and character biographies. Since its creation last spring, it has expanded from a story archive to a writer’s community.

Cindy Davison of Peoria, Illinois—better known as Anicka of the Sentinels server—said in a chat interview that she started the first version of WoW Fiction last March or April as a way to archive character writing for her server.

“I started an ‘archive’ forum, because so much was being lost,” she said. “I love all the writing and hate to see anything gone and forgotten, or not able to be experienced.”

Following a proposal by Laliberté, the site moved from its old address to wowfiction.net last April, and opened to include writing and art from all servers.

Laliberté is known on Sentinels as Grimgash and Raehvin, and on Shadow Council as Deveran. He bought the domain name wowfiction.net and created the layout and banner by modifying some art owned by Blizzard Entertainment--the company that created World of Warcraft.

“I wanted to offer everyone a chance to have their stories read. To share their hobby with others around the gaming world that is Warcraft,” he said in a chat interview. “It is a community of great writers and role-players alike, and who does not like to share their passion with others?”

Rabbly” of Shadow Council is one of the community’s active members. Rabbly’s alternate character “Saphrona” was the 100th user to register.

“The fact that it is multiple servers is nice, as I can read stories that I wouldn’t otherwise see on the Shadow Council forums,” Rabbly said in a letter to the Strider.

Rabbly likes the way WoW Fiction is organized, and the fact that there is a place for artwork. “Graphics have been a big part of my stories,” the player said.

WoW Fiction user Fiona Zimmer, who plays “Gerd” on Sentinels, said in an email that she watched WoW Fiction grow from being an archive site to a writer’s site.

“We needed a place where we could keep the stories we liked - especially Sentinels, which somehow got a reputation as this incredible haven for authors. Sentinels forums started with some incredible storytelling right from the birth of the server, and it drew in so many more of us, like moths to a candle.

“WoWfiction was a natural outgrowth of that need to preserve the best of our collective writings,” she said. “I honestly wish we’d had it earlier – we’ve lost so much good work already.”

Zimmer has written a one-act play, “The Tale of Jaina and Thrall,” which can be found in the Silvermoon Scrolls section of WoW Fiction, along with many other pieces of writing based in the Warcraft world.

Tundrarunner” of Shadow Council is another one of 104 users.

“Wowfiction is a great resource to share role-play stories across different realms,” Tundrarunner wrote in an email. “Unlike rp-haven, which is a Shadow Council only forum, it’s nice to be able to reach out to other roleplayers who may not otherwise know about this little corner of the WoW universe.”

Tundrarunner says there isn’t as much feedback on the site as one would like, “although I’m just as guilty about not giving feedback as anyone else.”

“I support roleplay whenever I can,” Tundrarunner continued, “so I try to do my small part to help keep good WoW RP sites going whenever I can. It’s great to hear they’re being successful.”

Creator Cindy Davison has been writing for her characters since she and her husband played in EverQuest together. She says she is currently writing down a storyline that her character Anicka is experiencing.

“I’m really eager to read all the new stories and installments that people are posting,” she said.

Owner Jean-Philippe Laliberté enjoys writing, drawing, and creating mods for his favorite games. “I’ve always loved creating, digging into my imagination,” he said. “From modding, drawing to writing, it’s digging into my mind for something fun and original that really stimulates me.”

He hopes the site may someday expand to include blogs, a role-playing Wiki, and downloadable fiction. Suggestions for the site should be made on the suggestion forum.

“It’s important to mention that it’s really thanks to all members who contribute beautiful storylines and artwork daily that wowfiction.net is becoming what it is today,” he said.
--Lacey Waymire

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Gold Record

This week’s Gold Record finds Horde prices dropping back towards the median, although Alliance goods have spiked to a ten-week high. Horde goods have dropped fourteen points since last week’s averages (dropping from 118 points to 104), whereas Alliance goods have dramatically risen (rising from 90 points to 116 points). This week’s averages reveal one of the unusual weeks where Horde goods average cheaper than Alliance goods.

Alliance goods were in high demand this week, with nearly every good coming in above the average value. Some materials, such as Copper Ore and Fel Iron Ore, were only barely above the average (107 and 105 points, respectively), but several materials were well above that. Iron Ore, Mithril Ore, Linen Cloth and Mageweave Cloth were all much higher than normal (152, 145, 148 and 185 points, respectively), each seeing steep increases versus last week’s averages (Linen Cloth, especially, has risen, going from a mere 42 points last week up to this week’s 148 points). Despite these high-demand items, Tin Ore has been continuing its low streak, dropping 15 points to a mere 30 points this week.

Horde goods have dropped since last week’s averages, with some of last week’s most dramatic prices reigning in. Netherweave Cloth has dropped 133 points from last week, down to a reasonable 92 points this week. Silk Cloth continues strong, at 150 points, and Wool Cloth has also seen a spike in demand, back up to 130 points. Despite the high demand for both Wool and Silk Cloth, Linen Cloth has come in fairly low at 45 points.


Editor’s Note: Jason Coleman has recorded auction house values for both Horde and Alliance. He has monitored many of the raw trade goods (common ores and cloth) that are constantly on the auction houses, employing them as an indicator of market health. Taking averages from his data, each material has been given a value of 100 points (or percent) and is analyzed based on deviation from this value. Continuing each week, the Shadow Council Strider will post his analyses in this article, the Gold Record.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Running a Successful Role-Playing Event: Defining Story Arcs

Aron Christensen has been role-playing for more than 18 years. He has been a storyteller for dozens of campaigns online, in table-top, and in live action role-playing games. In this special guest column, he advises on the elements that create a dynamic storytelling event players will enjoy and remember. Part One is "Defining Story Arcs."

The World of Warcraft is a wonderful medium for role-playing and Shadow Council has always had a strong community of role-players. Role-playing (RP) events allow players to add their own touch to the shared world and help tie the community together. But running a successful RP event isn’t easy. One of the things you can do to ensure you have a successful event is to define your story arc. I hope to give you some ideas about how to do that, and create enjoyable, exciting, and memorable events.

When you decide to run an event, you’re taking on a big job. You’re now the Game Master, Dungeon Master, Referee, or (my personal favorite) Storyteller. It’s your job to tell the story you’ve created with the help of your guild, friends, or random strangers who happen to be strolling by the location you’ve chosen.

The most common stumbling point I have seen in storylines is that there isn’t a plan. One might come up with a compelling idea for a story, say the death of a loved one, filled with drama and excitement. This loss might be a great catalyst for role-playing, but it’s not a plot. Everyone reacts to the grief and pain, but it doesn’t have anywhere to go.

I played a character who was a survivor from Andorhal and who was infected by the plague yet strangely immune. He was lots of fun to play, always coughing, frequently confused, and terribly afraid of anything reminiscent of the undead (and as that was around Halloween, it was great fun!). But I had no goal for the character. I hadn’t thought out how he might be cured, if I wanted him cured, or anything more than the original idea about being a carrier. It was terribly frustrating for the people I was playing with at the time because though they tried very hard (+5 health enchant on my bracers to bolster my constitution – great idea Arle!), nothing they did affected me. There was no plot to it, merely a situation to react to, which got so tiresome that not only the plot but the characters were abandoned.

When you decide to begin a plot, think about where it is going to begin, where it should end up, and what needs to happen between. Let’s use the example of the death of a loved one. We know where the story begins, but let’s look at where it is going. Maybe the character is intended to fall into despair and desperation, only to triumph over the grief and rise to new heights like an emotional hero’s cycle (which is a whole topic in and of itself, so another time perhaps).

More recently I participated in a plot as another character who had been infected by the plague. However, this time, and due to the efforts of another fantastic player who ran the event for me, we had defined an arc. A mad Forsaken group selected my character as one who was most suitable as a mate for Sylvanus. He was infected, so that he could be presented as a surprise gift (and kudos to Darsha for involving the Banshee Queen without having to god-mod). Undead agents tried to kill the people he loved because his love was keeping the plague from claiming his soul. From captured agents my character and his friends learned of the plot, tracked down its perpetrators and stopped them, climaxing in the seizure of a cure and the power of love to protect his soul. Much more successful, don’t you think?

As Storyteller you control the basic events: the death you inflict on your character, and the end goal of a fall and return, but the middle of this story is the part where others get to interact and add to the plot. Give the people you have included in your plot something to do. Perhaps they must talk the grieving character down from a ledge. Later, they might quest to find some momento from the lost loved one that will bring your character some closure. These middle events are what move the character from the beginning to the end goal. In the story arc I played in, the cause of the plague had to be discovered, my character had to be protected from death (from which he would rise Forsaken), the reason he was infected needed to be uncovered, the cure had to be researched, then the villains had to be stopped and the cure administered, all before reaching the end goal of saving my character's life. These events were the things that moved the plot forward from a plague-infected character to the end of the story arc.

Remember, it’s okay to tell your guild or friends what you want out of a story. If you really want your character to forsake the Light because of the loss, it’s going to frustrate you when everyone continually tries to win you back, no matter what and it’s going to frustrate them when nothing they do can change your mind. If everyone knows what the goal is, everyone can work toward it together, offering their own input and adding their own touch without derailing the plot. It is these events that will help you move your plot to a satisfying conclusion.

Make sure that you have an ending in mind. Long stories without any end in sight are the ones in the most danger of having people loose interest. I have met too many people with characters they never play because they are waiting for some story to finish and they have no idea when or how it will happen.

So, decide where your story will begin and where you would like it to end up, and plan out a few events in the middle to help move the story to a conclusion. Try it out and see what a difference it makes.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Blizzcon Blog: Photos

Blizzcon 2007

Please follow the link above to see a few photos from Blizzcon 2007. All photos courtesy of Michael Georges.

Do you have photos of Blizzcon to share? Show us!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Blizzcon Blog: Music to the Ears

Editor's Note: Reporter Michael Georges has been blogging from Blizzcon 2007 in Anaheim, Calif. This is the final part of his blog series!

ANAHEIM, Calif.--On Saturday evening, Blizzard hosted a comedy show by Jay Mohr, and a concert of Blizz game music that was just awesome! Jay was quite funny, and handled the sometimes surly crowd with style and grace and a little "Christopher Walken." Gotta be hard on a comic to try to entertain 6,000+ rabid fans hyped up on two days of extreme gaming and Red Bull.

The event was held in the Arena stage next to the convention center. Colored lights, fog, and huge screens, a 60+ piece orchestra and 40+ person choir...plus, Lady Sylvanus herself, Miss Vangie Gunn singing the Lament of the Highborn, Peter Gabriel's drummer, two of Paul McCartney's guitar men, and legendary new age performer David Arkenstone and his band who performed all of the tavern music and the music for Goldshire. The makings of an incredible evening were in place, and we were not disappointed!

The music kicked off with "Level 70 Elite Tauren Chieftan," Blizzard's own death metal band that includes Mike Morhaime, Blizzard's President and co-founder on bass. They did four songs that had the crowd screaming and on their feet. What makes this cool, is not only are these people great game developers, they are also a pretty damn sweet metal band! Folks, if you turn the sound down when you play these games, you are missing a LOT! The music for Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft games are performed by an orchestra and choir from Video Games Live. All of these talented folks did not disappoint as we were swept through music from all of the games plus new music from Starcraft II. Vangie Gunn was stellar performing "Lament of the Highborn," and David Arkenstone and his band did six songs from tavern settings around Azeroth and Outlands.

Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!

That's a Wrap!

After two days at BlizzCon I have to admit, I am still completely geeked out. There are a lot of very tired looking Blizz employees walking around on day two an it is little wonder. The convention was pulled off with Blizzard's amazing "attention to detail" that we love in all their games and these people worked really hard. The final concert really brought it all home for me. This sort of care for a live concert of only 6,000 out of 9 million fans is indicative of how Blizzard operates and why we love their games so much. I admit, I am a fan and not inclined to be "objective or impartial." What I experienced these last two days is nothing short of amazing and I am geeked out all over again and ready for more!

Blizzcon Blog: Expansion to introduce 'brutal ancient races of Azeroth'

Editor's Note: Reporter Michael Georges is blogging on the scene at Blizzcon in Anaheim, Calif. He sent this live update Saturday. Stay tuned Sunday for the final part of the Blizzcon Bog 2007!

ANAHEIM, Calif.--Today was a climactic crescendo of amazing sights, beautiful sounds, and exciting information! Without further ado, let me get into it:

More information on the upcoming WoW expansion Wrath of the Lich King - In a panel discussion today, Chris Metzen, vice president of Creative Development for Blizzard, revealed some really juice tidbits of info about the upcoming expansion, and general plans for events in WoW in the future. The expansion was described as revealing and further detailing some of the "brutal ancient cultures of Azeroth."

Players should expect not only to meet up with Arthas--who it is said will interact with players almost from the moment they arrive in Northrend--but players should also expect to see more of the essential conflict between orcs and humans, Horde and Alliance. As both factions decide to send expeditions after Arthas, their own propensity to come into conflict with each other will apparently play itself out large in the game. Garosh Hellscream, son of Grom Hellscream will likely make an appearance as leader of the Horde expedition, as will Sylvanus Windrunner, appearently eager to try out the strain of scourge plague on Arthas and his minions, and we will see more of Bolvar Forddragon, legendary dwarfish explorer Brann Bronzebeard, and Tirion Fordring of the Silverhand.

In addition, several new races or offshoots of races will be either introduced, or re-introduced. The coolest by far have to be the Taunka, an ancient offshoot of the Taurens. The Taunka are based on the buffalo and are described as being anti-rangers who force nature to bend to their will. The Vrykul, a race of giant vampire barbarians are native to Northrend and will strongly resist the expeditionary forces from both factions. Also mentioned were Iron Dwarves, the Tuskarr, a walrus people, and the Nerubians, cool spider dudes that may be keeping something hidden under the ice...an old god maybe?

The panel revealed some additional tidbits, though where they will play in was not exactly defined. Malygos, an ancient insane blue dragon, will declare war on magic and users of magic... And, we will likely see the magical bubble city of Dalaran rip itself out of the ground and teleport into the skies over Northrend courtesy of the Kirin Tor...Whoa!

There's gonna be a movie...yep...a movie...and we'd love to tell you about it...yep... Blizzard and Legendary Pictures are teaming up to produce a live action World of Warcraft movie. Details were really sketchy as they are clearly in early stages. What was revealed was that they will use a compressed timeline to produce a storyline that blends some recent events into a cohesive, kickass, really cool movie. There was much love and cooperation expressed by all parties, and the desire to make a movie that raises the bar even from Lord of the Rings while stretching the genre to be unique to WoW. It was clear that the folks at Legendary Pictures "get" World of Warcraft and hopes are high that they will make a movie that will make us all proud to play this game.

Next: We attended a wonderful live concert of Blizz game music...and "turned our flippers to the sky!"

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Blizzcon Blog: 'Arthas has got it comin'...'

Editor's Note: Reporter Michael Georges is blogging on the scene at Blizzcon in Anaheim, Calif. He sent this live update Friday. Stay tuned Saturday for more updates from the floor as Blizzcon progresses!

ANAHEIM, Calif.-- ZOMG! I am so geekin' out! It is 11:39 p.m. and we just returned from an amazing day at the convention. Without doubt, the focus was all on the two big announcements and previews of the convention - Starcraft II, and WoW Wrath of the Lich King. Let's look at each of them shall we?

Starcraft...Re-imagined...

I am not gonna cover the techs and specs here. You can and will get overloaded with those everywhere else. What I found amazing about the Starcraft II previews and demos I saw today was the quality and OMG factor of the storytelling and lore. Remember, this is the game that so many of us nearly wet our pants over back in 1998...the game we just cannot seem to retire, pulling it out again and again to re-play. Our love of the original Starcraft came from its originality, and the quality of the story, characters, and gameplay.

What Blizzard revealed today was how they have re-imagined the Starcraft universe nearly ten years on. The game brings back Jim Raynor, now a bit down on his luck and still smarting over how the Mengsk boys mistreated him in the past. The OMG factor here is the new interactive interface previewed for the human campaign. Players will learn and progress through the storyline by talking to the people and interacting with the objects on the bridge, engineering bay, and cantina of Raynor's ship. And there are subplots that unfold and reveal themselves along with the overarching story. We can look to not only seeing Raynor, but Kerrigan, the lovely and dangerous "Queen of Blades" also appears, though her exact role is not specified. You can bet she ain't gonna' show up alone...

Developers described mission play as football-shaped. This means that players start and end at specified points, but how they get from start to finish on each mission will vary a lot based on actual player decisions. The game play is improved with a much more robust game engine, new graphics and gee-whiz units with snazzy new animations. Overall, a very thrilling preview of what promises to be a blockbuster game... Luckily, I went potty before I saw all the awesomeness unfold.

Arthas has got it comin'...

The new Wrath of the Lich King expansion for World of Warcraft will move some of the action and storyline focus back to Azeroth from Outland. The expansion will take us to Northrend, home of the badness that is Arthas now merged with Ner'zhul into the fearsome Lich King. Arthas has been hiding out in Northrend, and it is time to make him pay!

This new expansion has a lot of fun features - level cap goes to 80, new Death Knight "Hero Class" which looks very cool, inscribing skill to permanently improve and personalize spells, and you can redo your "do" with new changeable hairstyles, new dances, and a whole new area to explore and conquer. A few other tidbits of info about future development paths were also mentioned - guild banks, more hero classes, and a new Ghostlands instance. No word on when the new expansion would ship, but when it does, set your sights on Northrend, cause "Arthas has got it comin'!"

Tomorrow - Lore and book panels, the WoW Movie, the showfloor and Blizzard Store!