Have you ever had one of those moments where you take a second to look around and you think to yourself “How did I get here?” I have those moments more often than most people do, but I felt compelled to answer the question a bit more seriously after some other bloggers started a trend of writing posts detailing where their characters came from compared to where they are now.
I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to tackle this one. The character that I play now is not the one I started out with, so I wasn’t sure if I should talk about the history that I have with my current main, or my previous one, or even the one before that. This post could be as long or as short as I wanted to make it. In the end, I decided that I wanted to go all the way back – back to the beginning. How did I get here? Let me show you.
It all started on a little realm called Thunderhorn, which is actually still around, and is considered to be one of the oldest realms in the game. I was an Alliance healing priest named “Kemintiri,” in a guild called “Chosen of Valhalla,” which was run by Shoryl. I was so green. I didn’t know how guild politics worked. I didn’t know anything about what it meant to be a raider and how to handle yourself as such. I knew nothing.
Thunderhorn was grossly overpopulated – so much so that before Burning Crusade was released Blizzard was thinking of either splitting the realm in two (so there would be a Thunderhorn 1 and a Thunderhorn 2), or they were going to offer free realm transfers to lower population realms. The guild that I was in was part of an alliance of guilds and they all agreed that the free realm transfer was the better option, rather than staying on Thunderhorn and leaving fate to decide which half of the server we ended up on. As it turns out, the split never took place, so we really had nothing to worry about.
Shortly after we arrived on Zangarmarsh, I was kicked out of the guild. I was pretty distraught over what happened and what I perceived to be a betrayal from people that I thought I could trust or who I thought were my friends. I really wanted nothing to do with the Alliance anymore at that point. I decided to create a Horde character, but I couldn’t come up with a really good name for my character. Codi was my roommate at the time and she had an encyclopedia of gods and goddesses that I used to borrow from her frequently.
I remember browsing through the pages and the name “Ouranos” jumped out at me. It was unlike anything I had ever heard of before. Since I was thinking of making a Tauren druid anyway, the name seemed kind of appropriate. Codi loved the idea and told me I should name my character that, so I did. I had an issue with how the Tauren females looked, so I opted to make a Tauren male instead. I thought it would be kind of neat to have such a masculine looking character and be someone seemingly so girly behind the screen. I really got a kick out of that dichotomy.
So I leveled Ouranos as a balance druid with some friends of mine and we even created our own little guild to call our own. Once we hit level 70, the urge to raid came back strong. We took the guild apart and joined a guild called “Resilience,” which was run by a rogue named Ricen. Little did I know that the real person running the show was a warlock named “Raaziel,” who paid for the website, the Vent server, managed the DKP, ran the raids, etc. I also didn’t know that Raaziel and I would eventually end up dating and that I would be part of the reason the guild fell apart.
Raaziel really didn’t want to be running the show. I grew tired of hearing him complain about things that he really didn’t want to do and so I politely suggested that maybe he should do something that does make him happy for a change or maybe even take a break. He went one step further – he quit the game completely. Without having him on board to run the show, the guild slowly descended into chaos. Raaziel and I broke up a short time later and the guild eventually split into two – half the guild chose to stay with “Resilience” to try and make the best of it and the other half formed a guild called “Ens Entium.”
One night, while partying in Halaa with some friends, I ran into a boisterious warlock named Joecmel, who was the de facto raid leader for a guild called “Big Tymers.” Joe and I hit it off right away and he was amazed that I was guildless and not doing more with myself and my character. Within days I had joined the ranks of “Big Tymers” as a raiding moonkin and he and I started to get to know one another. Before we knew it we were dating and even making plans to move in together. This of course didn’t sit too well with the guild.
I was constantly fighting off accusations that I was being carried or that I was using Joe for status, or gold, or a raid spot. He was coming off winning the Gladiator title during the first ever Arena season, so everyone on the realm and even some people outside of our realm knew who he was. He was this sort of celebrity and I was a total nobody. We became affectionately known as “O and Joe,” and before we knew it everybody seemed to be involved in our business. It got worse when I actually did move out of state to be with him.
We decided to leave “Big Tymers” together and threw our lot in with a guild called “Scurvy Dogs,” a pirate themed raiding guild, where you would literally get greeted with a “Yarr” every time you logged in. This is where I got my first real taste of serious raiding and I loved every minute of it, with the exception of one little thing. It was a labor of love to be a moonkin back then and you either played one because you truly loved to do it or because you were a masochist.
I felt like I had taken being a moonkin as far as I could go, or like I was starting to plateau in that role. We had just started to break into Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep when a couple of resto druids on our roster had decided to take an indefinite break from the game. This left a huge gap in our healing line up that was going to need to be filled. I felt like I needed a challenge, so I offered to respec and try out resto, to see if I could potentially fill that void. My guild master, who was also named Void, took me on a Karazhan run to sort of test my mettle. I two healed it with a holy paladin and I had never been more scared in my entire life. Did I forget to mention that Void was wearing a wedding dress the entire time? Petrified.
From that point on I was a raiding resto druid and things continued to progress nicely until Joe and I fell apart. I used to say that we were the Ben and J-Lo of our realm and everyone wanted to know what happened and had started to choose sides. I was miserable – crying on Void’s shoulder on Vent because I had nobody else to talk to and it all got to be too much. I decided that Joe could have custody of the guild, while I went looking for more elsewhere. Shortly before Wrath of the Lich King came out, I joined a guild called “Invalid Target” back on Thunderhorn.
Things with “Invalid Target” started out well enough. I was able to finally clear Zul’aman (which was a very difficult 10m back then) and get an Amani War Bear. I was able to see progression fights at a steady pace. I was happy. At least until Ulduar came out and the controversy over who was going to be awarded the legendary healing mace began. There had been a lot of talk on our forums about who was going to get Val’anyr and the officers still hadn’t made a decision by the time we pulled Flame Leviathan for the first time. I guess they thought that the odds of getting a fragment our first night on the first boss on Normal mode were rather slim. They were wrong.
The officers were frantically trying to figure out what to do, and so they just decided to have all of the healers roll on it. I rolled a 98 and was to become the first recipient of Val’anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings. Needless to say the other healers were not pleased at this and things only got worse from there. One healer, in particular, felt very slighted and it didn’t help that she was friends in real life with most of the guild. Things got ugly fast. People were making comics about me on the boards. I was being goaded into fights in guild chat. It was not pleasant.
I decided to leave and joined the top guild on our server (Horde side, at least), a guild called “Lobster Brood.” This guild had a great reputation and they really believed in me as a healer and as a person and I was very excited to be a part of their ranks. It wasn’t until after I joined that I got to see the inner workings of the guild and I didn’t really like what I saw.
The guild had an unusually high turnover rate and I felt like we were in this endless cycle of gearing up people, losing them, and then having to recruit more people that we would have to gear and train. We could have gone a lot further, progression wise if we weren’t constantly losing people and then replacing them. I started to resent having to repeatedly sit for new people again and again, just because we either couldn’t keep people on board, or because of a string of bad luck with recruitment.
After that, I moved the now female “Oestrus” (who had her name and gender changed shortly after Naxxramas was released) to Khaz Modan, and joined a guild called “Retribution.” The guild was serious about progression, but still home to a likeable cast of characters, including an openly gay GM, and a fantastic resto shaman named Natoro. Seeing as how Natoro was also our healing lead, he was the one that I had the most contact with during my trial period, and he and I hit it off right away. He began to court me and the feelings became mutual. Before I knew it we were dating and he was flying in to see me over Labor Day weekend of that year.
Natoro and I didn’t make it much past that weekend, and so I left “Retribution” for a brief stint on the Hydraxis realm, only to return to Zangarmarsh. Joecmel and I had long since made amends after our relationship ended and he was now running a guild called “Cause for Concern.” Although the 25m raids weren’t very successful, he had his own 10m group and asked if I wouldn’t mind being a part of it. I got most of my Heroic experience in Icecrown Citadel with these folks and it was a very enjoyable experience for me. I had started to take on some recruitment duties for the main raid and I was happy. Or at least I thought I was.
The truth is that I missed a certain standard of raiding that just doesn’t exist on Zangarmarsh. It never has and it probably never will. Zangarmarsh tends to exist in a bubble and what they consider raiding is very different from what I consider it to be. I had tried to take more of a hands on approach to replace the bad players by handling the recruitment myself and it just wasn’t working. I started to really resent the people I was raiding with who weren’t trying as hard to do well and I also started to resent the officers and Joe, who seemed to stand by and let it all happen. The guild had literally become a cause for concern.
I left “Cause for Concern” for a guild called “Scientific Method” on Maelstrom. With their help, I was able to finally complete my Val’anyr and clear up to Heroic LK 25. I didn’t really have much in common with them on a personal level, but I certainly enjoyed them on a professional level. They got shit done. That’s all I really wanted at the time. Around this time I had gotten my hands on a Beta key for Cataclysm and I was very unhappy with the direction that Blizzard seemed to be taking resto druids. I was pretty sure that I wanted to re-roll for the next expansion, but I wasn’t sure if “Scientific Method” would have room for me as the class that I wanted to play next.
I had begun to get to know Kurnmogh through my early adventures in the blogosphere and she was attempting to breathe new life into her former guild, called “Apotheosis.” This guild sounded like a dream come true to me. I really wanted to be in a guild that would allow me to see progression, but with people that I could genuinely like, and not just have to stomach in order to get what I want. I moved my former alt priest (now my new main, Obscene) to Eldre’thalas, turned her into a Dwarf female, and spent the rest of Wrath and my time in the Cataclysm Beta trying to master my new class.
I enjoyed being in “Apotheosis” immensely – from the leveling process, to the process of gearing up through Heroics, and then our first raids together. Where I started to take issue with certain things was on a social or administrative level. I felt like there were certain situations that I was bringing to people’s attention or that others were creating for themselves that could have been handled proactively and wouldn’t have turned into the firestorms that they had become. They were molehills that were allowed to become mountains, so to speak. There were situations that I felt I had to handle myself, because Kurn or the other officers weren’t doing anything about them. This ended up being my downfall.
Eventually I had gone too far and I had received word that the officers basically didn’t know what to do with me, that they didn’t know if I really wanted to even be in the guild anymore (based on my behavior), and that they would need to sort of deliberate on what to do next. I felt like I had been backed into a corner and I didn’t like the prospect of waiting for other people to decide my fate. I felt like I needed to take the power back and that if I was going to be made to leave a guild that I was going to do it on my terms. Before the officers could make their decision, I told Kurn that I was going to leave.
I definitely could have handled that situation better. I don’t know what the officers would have decided, had I stuck around to see the final outcome. What I do know is that I still consider “Apotheosis” to be the guild equivalent of “the one that got away.” I was never happier than when I was raiding with my two best friends, Dahrla and Hestiah. I enjoyed Kurn’s long winded and yet necessary explanations and posts on the forums. Those things became a distant second to the burnout that I was starting to feel, which would lead to my most dramatic outburst ever.
I had been in “Occasional Excellence” on Quel’dorei (now the home of both Dahrla and Ophelie) for about two months when we came up against the wall known as Heroic Nefarian. I was tired of caring more about the fight than other people did. I was tired of wiping due to human error – not even due to Nefarian himself. I felt like there was a lot of fuckery going on in the raid and like that focus should have been put into our performance, not on Heavy Leather Balls and the like. A couple people thought they were being funny and amusing and I wasn’t having it. So I left the raid.
I was given the opportunity to stay in the guild, if I would offer up some form of apology, and I refused to do such a thing. I felt like I was owed an apology for the poor performances of others and that this was again a situation where people saw something like this coming and they did nothing to prevent it. I made it clear that I was annoyed, that I didn’t enjoy the Leather Balls, and people still kept throwing them. I told them they would be sorry and I wanted to make very sure that I stuck to my guns on that. Was it the right thing to do? Of course not. Would I do it again? No. At the time I wasn’t thinking about all of that.
Somehow my priest (now known as “Oenomel”) made her way into “Serious Casual” on Mal’ganis, which marked my return to the Horde side of things. Firelands had just been released and things were not looking good for holy priests. I was very clear during the application process about the fact that I was predominantly holy and I assumed that the raid knew what they were in for. I remember being told my first night there to “Go disc or go home.” Eventually I was given an ultimatum by the healing lead at the time that if I didn’t go discipline when asked that I could be benched – possibly even permanently. To me this was the final straw.
It was never being discipline, in and of itself that I had an issue with. I took issue with the fact that I wasn’t given a say in when I got to go discipline. I was never trusted to make that call for myself. It was basically “You’re going to do this and you’re going to like it,” and I wanted no part of it. After certain people in the raid found out that I had blogged about this there was a heap of drama and it all became too much to bear. I was pretty sure that I was done with World of Warcraft for good and threw my lot in with some friends who were playing Rift. This lasted for about four months, or until shortly after BlizzCon.
BlizzCon made me realize how much I missed the community and how much I missed having people with a similar interest to discuss said interest with. I met a few folks from “Big Crits” there and was encouraged to apply for their more casual run, known as the “Da Crew” run. I was told that they already had 2 10m runs under the “Da Crew” banner and that they were looking to recruit for a third one. This sounded like a good fit to me. I had been gone long enough where I didn’t have the history or experience to get back in with a more serious group and I wasn’t even sure I wanted something that serious to begin with. I figured this would give me an opportunity to sort of get my feet wet again and to figure out where I wanted to go from here.
“Big Crits” ended up being nothing like I imagined. If I had to describe my time in “Big Crits,” I would probably compare it to sitting at the dinner table with a really dysfunctional family. You know – one of those families where everything looks perfect, but dad’s really an alcoholic, and mom’s having an affair with the tennis instructor, the daughter is secretly a lesbian, and the son is a pyromaniac. But nobody talks about it – and as long as you don’t talk about certain things, and you don’t acknowledge that they’re actually happening you will get along just fine. So there were a lot of issues that kept coming up that nobody wanted to deal with and because I did (although maybe not in the best way possible) I got a lot of flak for it.
There were other issues, with regards to personality conflicts and such, but it all led to the same conclusion. It just didn’t work out. I took about two weeks off from raiding after I left “Big Crits” and had a one week stint in a guild that a friend recommended, which then led me to my current guild. I enjoy the people I raid with now. I enjoy the progression that I’m seeing. I like that they trust me to make my own decisions, with regards to my character and my class. I feel good. I can’t say that I’ll be here forever, but I also can’t say that I’m looking to leave them anytime soon. I’m just taking it one day at a time.
I have certainly come a long way and I have learned a lot in the five years or so that I have been playing this game. There are things that I would do differently, if I could, and there are things that I would probably have never done – if I knew then what I know now. It’s been a wild ride and I am proud to say that I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.
I really do believe that you can’t know where you are going until you have known where you have been, and so I encourage anyone reading this to really take a good look at what brought you to where you are now. Relive the highs and the lows. Remember the friends (and the enemies) that you have made along the way. They helped make everything you are today possible. Don’t ever forget that. I know I sure won’t.