[OOC] SWTOR Going Free

This fall, SWTOR will be “free to play“, though what that actually means can vary a lot, as you know if you’ve played any F2P games. I’m currently subscribed, but my account is due to expire in September, I’m not sure if that’s before or after the switch. I’m totally willing to keep it active, so long as they provide enough incentive to do so. I really like the way LoTRO handles things, offering a number of different perks in their shop. Admittedly, a lot of my ideas are stolen from there because I think they do it well.

Some things I’d be willing to keep my sub for/spend actual money for:

* Premium planets, paying would grant you access to this planet and its quests. This would be particularly valuable during level ranges with dreadful planets, ie Taris.

* Premium character races.

* Cosmetic outfits. Pretty self-explanatory!

* Mini pets/mounts

* Shared storage for your alts, a communal bank (call it a Legacy Bank). LoTRO does this, and it’s wonderful. You can pay to expand it or your personal bank if they aren’t large enough.

* Convenience/quality of life perks. Faster travel, etc. I’m not sure what to do here, since you can buy speeder at level 10 now, but I’m sure they can think of something.


[Story] The Bonfire

“Going back to the Bluff again?” Ahali puffed out a cloud of sweet-smelling smoke from his pipe as he watched Makota.

She was stricken with a moment of panic. Should she lie, or would that just lead to more questions down the road? Makota settled on something in the middle. “They tell stories,” she explained, focusing her brush on Nakoma’s heavy hide. The kodo had found a puddle that wasn’t totally dried up, and rolled in it, caking herself with thick mud. “At the bonfire.” Makota wasn’t looking at Ahali, but if she had, she would have seen a smile at the corner of his mouth.

“So they do,” he said. “Don’t stay out too late.”

Kodos liked the thick Mulgore mud because it cooled their skin from the hot summer sun, and protected them from insect bites. That was one thing that was difficult to adjust to — there had been insects in the mountains, but not nearly so many. It was like insect paradise down on the plains. Nakoma needed her paint to be put back on, but Makota decided that could wait. She didn’t want to be late for the bonfire.

But when she finally reached the Bluff and hurried up the ramp to the gathering area, it was empty. Only one Tauren sat on the bench reading in his usual place. Makota tied up her kodo and walked over to him. “Did I miss it?” she asked, glancing around at the empty benches.

The other young Sunwalker nodded and set his book down. “I’m afraid so. It was yesterday.” Yesterday! How could she have forgotten? At least Ahali hadn’t noticed, or he would have said something, surely. Makota sat down on the other end of the bench from Tahfal and looked at the fire glumly. “She’ll come to light it again soon though,” he said, glancing up at the sky. “It’s almost time.”

Makota nodded, still feeling foolish. She asked if he had his story ready for the next one, but he said it wasn’t yet. And he didn’t want to practice by telling her. Makota tried to think of some stories that her mother had told her in the mountains, but probably everyone had already heard those. Thinking about those days reminded her of Lali, and the conversation turned to her. Tahfal asked if she’d heard from Lali, and Makota admitted that she hadn’t. It worried her, she wanted to know that her friend was all right after her illness. They talked about her mate, and how he was strange but he seemed nice enough, and he obviously cared about Lali. Makota supposed that was the most important thing, though she still wished her friend was here and not somewhere far away.

Tahfal wanted to know about Dalaran, and if there were any other Tauren. Makota said she hadn’t seen any, almost everyone was a small elf or a human. There were also lots of gnomes, and he was curious about those too. He suggested they go and look for Lali, but the only way to get there that Makota knew of was a mage’s portal. Tahfal wanted to go and bring his mother along so she could see it. He said that she could walk with Ahali and they could be grumpy together. That was true, Ahali was sometimes grumpy, but not too often. She wasn’t sure if he’d agree to go to Dalaran again, though. And the buildings had been small.

Before she noticed, the sun had disappeared behind the hills and the first stars were out. Tahfal asked if she was scared to ride home by herself, but of course she wasn’t. There were wolves and cougars, but Makota wasn’t afraid of them. Nakoma was much larger and they wouldn’t bother her. Still, he insisted that it wasn’t safe, and that he ride part of the way with her. It was out of his way, but she supposed if he really wanted to. She hoped he wouldn’t be in trouble for staying out too late either. She was glad it was getting dark so he couldn’t see how dirty Nakoma was. His kodo, Fancey, was perfectly clean. They didn’t talk much as they rode the wide trail circling around the Bluff, listening to the sounds of the night and the kodos puffing.

At the stand of trees, Makota said she could see the fire from their camp. She hoped Ahali was already asleep, because she was much later getting back than usual. She promised to write to Lali and see how she was doing, and to try to come next Sunday for the bonfire.

He was asleep, or at least he was inside of his tent. The fire burned low, settling down for the night into embers. Makota untied Nakoma to let her graze, and climbed into her own tent to sleep.

[Story] Sath’alor’s Field Notes – Dalaran


I don’t know why I came back. It was a waste of my time, and a waste of her time. Nothing I said made her budge an inch. She kept saying she wanted a normal life, but then she’d turn around and say she wouldn’t stop with that stuff. I even brought up the baby thing. How could she even think about having a baby around it? She kept saying she knows what she’s doing, that she can control it. But what if she can’t? There’s a reason that’s illegal. It’s way too dangerous. Putting me at risk is one thing, putting the kittens and a possible child at risk is entirely another.

Why did she even ask me to come if she wasn’t going to stop? And that stupid little mage was there. She wanted me to sit with him. Like I want to see his annoying face while we’re talking about this. It’s private. I didn’t go with him to get the portal back, I didn’t want to have to talk to him and I didn’t want Isandri to ask why I was going back. I found a mage in one of the taverns to make one for me. He was almost as drunk as I was, so he didn’t mind.

I don’t know what I’m going to do now. Before I planned to stay with the rangers a few years until she finished up her business with Aeramin. Which she could have just ended in the first place but she insisted on finishing. That should have been my first warning sign I guess. She said she could change, but then she said she wouldn’t stop, that she didn’t want to stop. I wasn’t important enough to her after all. I wish she could have told me that a long time ago and saved us both a lot of pain. I went to the tavern down in the sewers because I thought some of them might be in the Lounge and I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I drank too much.

She was probably my last chance and I messed it up. But I don’t see how anyone could be expected to be okay with that. We could never live a normal life. My parents will be disappointed with me because I’m their only son and now I’ll never carry on their name. Unless Mierra doesn’t change hers and has a son someday, but that’s a big if. I’m done with women, I can’t go through something like this again. People assured me they weren’t all like Eliarra, that I’d find a good one someday. And I thought I had. I sure missed the mark on that one.

I know I should have said something before I left, but for one thing, Sanimir was sitting right there watching. And she was crying, and I was afraid I would too so I just didn’t say anything. I’ve already said it all before anyway. The longer I stayed, the more I kept hoping that she’d change her mind. But she didn’t. Fine, she can have her demons and whatever other men she wants. I hope they make her happy.

[Story] A Tangle of Brambles 94

When I first came to Stormwind, I had grand ideas about leading my own pack, not relying on anyone else. Life has its own way of changing things. I guess in some ways I’ve got what I wanted — I do stand on my own, but I rely on others far more than I’d like to admit. And I do have a pack, small and broken that it might be right now. Most of them don’t like each other, either. Last time we spoke, I told Josie that it was all so complicated. I don’t know how to make it simpler.

At least things are all right on the business end of things. I don’t know how the elf does everything, I suspect he doesn’t sleep, but most mornings I find him sleeping. Maybe he’s like a cat, stealing a few minutes now and then. More likely all the work helps distract him from everything else. I know how that is. In the early morning he manages the shipments, then he’ll usually slip out for one of his “walks”. Those are a recent thing, I gave him the list of names from the Gilnean man, and he’s chosen one to observe. The target spends most of his time in the more expensive parts of the city, where someone like the Harrier would surely be noticed. Part of me dreads the day that the guards come knocking at the shop’s door, but part of me knows that would never happen. Not unless Pup followed him.

I can’t keep him trapped in his room, but I can’t stand him sneaking out either. He’s not the elf, he’s just a kid, but old enough that the guards won’t be charmed by his clumsy attempts at roof-climbing and pocket-picking. It’s as if he can sense the tension in the air, and he’s suddenly become a great deal more defiant and surly, or maybe it’s just that he’s finally reached that age — when boys go from boys to impossible. It isn’t Josie’s fault. She’s been teaching him more words and numbers, he’s on to doing some adding and subtracting now, though he often has to use his fingers to count. We’ve both agreed to take him to the schoolhouse in the fall when lessons start again. I suppose we’d better find out his name, or come up with one. We can’t very well write “Pup” on his registration — even if that’s how he signs his papers. But the elf’s teaching him too, and those lessons are sticking even better. Pup idolizes him, and I’m certain that when he unlatches his window and wiggles out, he’s going to join the elf on his lonely rooftops. I’ve spoken to him about it, and the elf says he has too — I believe that actually, he wouldn’t want Pup getting collared any more than I do. But I suppose Pup hears what he wants.

The rest of the time, he’s in his workshop, making clock bits and the little mechanical animals. I know he made a bird for Josie not long ago, but I haven’t seen him make any since then. I try to speak with him about it, but it’s like trying to reason with the wall. Josie says she doesn’t know what he wants her to do. I do, but I’m not about to tell her to do it. In many ways, he’s different from the human men I’ve known, but not in all ways. The fact that he really has no claim to her hasn’t diminished his jealousy much.

Of course, I’d prefer that everything was perfect between them, my daydreams of our cozy little home where everyone got along, and I didn’t have to be caught between anyone. The other night, Josie sat on the bench with me and we talked. I dare say it was almost perfect then, except I kept getting caught on my own tongue and saying the wrong things. She was wearing the dress that I got for her last winter. I hadn’t seen her wear it in so long, and it looks so beautiful on her. It’s perfect for the summer, because it hasn’t any sleeves, and I think that’s how I began. Something about wasn’t Stormwind awfully hot, and Gilneas wasn’t so, was it? I wanted to tell her that I’d never force her to stay, which she took to mean that she ought to go away, but that wasn’t what I meant at all. I asked cautiously about her elf, but she says there isn’t anything. I’m not so sure. I don’t mind him around, I do think he’s a strange choice but I can hardly hold her curiosity about an elf man against her, can I? My only fear is that she’ll move somewhere far away with him, and then I won’t see her again. She’s gone with him to Dalaran, which seems impossibly far away. I know the mages can make portals, but I’m not sure I trust them entirely — the portals, that is. They all want to lock you away in a cage, I reminded her. Where no one else can see you. I’m not like that, I try to reassure myself, not at all. I remember all of those hot, bitter tears when she went with Kor. It’s not entirely true. I am like them, a little bit.

But I think she trusts me, and even more importantly, I think she likes me. She wants to go run in the woods again, just us two, and I said we could find a place to stay out there, like real wolves. I thought the idea was charming, but she gave me a strange look when I said that. Maybe it was the wrong thing. She asked if there had been ladies who worked in the house in Gilneas, and I said there were. Girls who helped with the washing, and with the cooking, and my dressing-maid. I was relieved that she didn’t ask too much about that, though she asked what a lady’s maid would do. She’d help me dress of course, and with my hair. Josie smiled at that, and she said she’d like to do that one day. I want to tell her that she isn’t my maid, here I’m no more a lady than she is, but the idea is so appealing that I can’t help but agree to it.

I promised to leave her little notes, I found a hatbox in my room that was a pretty pale blue. I set it underneath the bench where it isn’t likely that anyone would notice it — besides her. I’ve only left a few so far, but every time I open the lid to put another in, the box is empty. I hope that they make her smile.

[Screenshots] Bawk Bawk

I got blisters this morning so I don’t want to draw or sew today 😦 But I got this awesome chicken coop! The alts need to get me some clothes yet.

[Story] Isandri’s Diary

Dear Diary,

I’m going back to Silvermoon for my classes tomorrow. I’m worried about leaving Thero alone, because what if something happens or he needs something? I guess I was really preoccupied, because I completely forgot that the healer was coming by tonight. I’d left Thero napping and gone out to the park to read. Isturon came by, and Sanimir was with him. So was Aeramin. Really? I guess he decided not to listen to me about him! He was being rude, again. Sanimir had brought his kitten along with and I mentioned that she looked a little tired because she’d curled up underneath the bench. Sanimir said they’d walked a long way and Aeramin has to butt in, “It wasn’t that far.” Ugh, what’s wrong with him? When I get a chance to speak to Isturon alone I’m going to bring it up again.

Those two went off to go buy new robes or something. I admit I was a little jealous, I’d love to just be able to go buy new robes from a Dalaran shop, but we still have to be careful with our money. I went to wake Thero for his appointment, but he was already up. I guess he was eager to hear the news on how his leg is healing. Isturon had him bend it and felt it a bit, and Thero said there wasn’t any pain. He said he hoped Thero hadn’t done anything too stressful and I wasn’t sure what counted, but Isturon didn’t say anything. So I guess it’s okay. Thero’s allowed to do everything now, though he should be careful that he doesn’t hurt himself as the muscles are still regrowing. We both want to go to the tournament, so I can watch him ride. I can’t wait and I know he’ll be so happy. It’s odd, I thought he would be more excited about it, but he seems strangely low-key. After so much time, maybe it’s just difficult to accept that it’s really real. Or maybe there’s something else going on that he’s not telling me about. I don’t know.

Isturon said I could come and do work for him after my classes, his shop is open late 4 evenings a week. The only bad thing about that is I’ll get home so late those days and poor Thero will have to eat alone. I really feel terrible about it, and I don’t want to be away from him for so long, but he said I don’t really have any other choice. I guess I don’t. He could come eat in Silvermoon with me, but I’m sure he probably doesn’t want to do that. It probably sounds a bit pathetic that I don’t even want to be apart from him for a whole day, but it’s true.

At home, I asked if he thought Sath’alor was going to come back to Dalaran. He said he didn’t know. Luckily he didn’t say anything else horrible about my brother, but honestly sometimes I think he deserves it. I should talk to Kes again. I don’t want to start planning our wedding if things are still weird between her and Sath.


[Story] Sath’alor’s Field Notes – The Ghostlands

Today is my first actual patrol, with orders. We’re following the scar down into the Ghostlands, and to observe any troll activity down there. It feels like routine work, because it is. I want to fit in and not cause any trouble, so I’m hunting with Sadira, the Ghostlands lynx. I haven’t seen her for a long time, but we once walked these same paths many times together. To her, it’s like no time has passed at all. Cats are a lot simpler than people.

Kestrae went back to Dalaran after that night. I asked her to stay here, I guess I could have begged but I didn’t. When she was here, when were in the hills and in the basin, she’s just Kestrae. There’s no demons or magic or apprentices to worry about, it’s just us two. Like normal people. I guess that’s what I want, the “normal” part of her. I know how horrible and selfish it sounds, but I really don’t know how I’m expected to be okay with the rest. Bad things could happen to her — probably will happen to her. I don’t know much about magic, but I know that stuff is dangerous. How could she hope to have a normal life with that around? I know she wants that, at least I think she does. She’s brought it up before. Has she thought about the reality of having a child around that stuff? I don’t dare point it out to her, but I’ve been thinking about it. I know I can’t ask her to give it up, either. I mean, I have. There are a hundred things she could do. She could study to be a regular mage, or learn to be a seamstress, or even a teacher.

I thought about how I’d feel if she asked me to give up being a ranger. I don’t know if I could do it. My father did though, and he’s happy enough. I guess I could, if I really thought it would make things work between us. I can’t tell anyone the real reason. Even Isandri doesn’t know. I wish I could, because I hate feeling like the bad guy, I can feel their disapproving looks. I wonder what she’s told people. I think about one thing she said, that I should move on and find someone else. I told her I didn’t want to, but the thought has crossed my mind before. Maybe a ranger, a girl whose darkest secret was sneaking off into the woods when she was younger. No demons, no rituals and apprentices. But then I think about the normal Kestrae, and she’s the one I want. Normal Kestrae is wry and worldly and beautiful. I think about how her family disapproves of me and then I lean back toward staying here again.

I ask Sadira what she thinks, but she’s not much of a conversationalist. She paces along about five yards in front of me, her long ears perked forward to the sounds of the forest. There’s not much to hear. There still aren’t any birds, but we only see a few Scourge. She’s still good at taking them apart. There’s no new growth yet, but they assure us it will return in time.

I want to go back, but then I don’t. Talking didn’t accomplish anything last time, nor did what came after the talking. We’re still back where we started. Both of us are too stubborn to budge, but neither wants to give up either. At least, I don’t. I think.

Isandri said she’ll be back in Silvermoon for her classes tomorrow. I assume that means she’ll be taking a portal home. Maybe I’ll go back with her.

I don’t know yet.