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Monday, August 22, 2011

Pigswick Papers...A Tale of Two Schools

*NOTE: During this reading you will notice that "I" and "you/we/our/us" are interchangeable. Where the "I" is denotes my own personal opinions and the "you/we/our/us" is because every wizard of Ravenwood will be put in this place*

Wysteria...What To Expect & What Wasn't Expected

Is the source of real magic a pretty, sparkling fountain set in the middle of campus or a wise, verbally adept, ancient tree that is surrounded by its schools of focus? As a student of Ravenwood, I can honestly say the fountain looks rather ordinary. Now if it turned the water to wine, granted wishes when a coin was tossed in, or spouted advice then I would likely change my opinion.
Of course, I am talking about the rivaling schools of Ravenwood and Pigswick Academy. We are summoned by Merle Ambrose to travel on behalf of Ravenwood to another school in the Spiral called Pigswick Academy. Our objective is to represent Ravenwood as we compete for the Spiral Cup. The first part of our journey is to introduce ourselves to Mrs. Dowager, who will help us get acquainted with everyone and situated in our surroundings while we are there.

Mrs. Dowager begins by sending us on our way to Benedict Glemdemming who will "sort you out". I actually do wish that Pigswick showed how they sorted their wizards into classes. Is it by test like the Ravenwood students take upon enrolling or do they fit you according to your dueling style? I would really like to know.

You are advised by Mrs. Dowager and the Headmistress, Belladonna Crisp, to lock your Ravenwood ring up. The Ravenwood class ring seems to be of upmost importance and yet they want us to put it in an open dresser without locks that is housed in a dormitory shared by our rivals. Yeah, right! "Security, please!"

The History *My own remarks below*

Volume I : Founding
After his unceremonious dismissal from the Ravenwood School of Magic, Sir Bainbridge Pigswick devised a plan. He would create a school of his own, where his unorthodox and less-common philosophy of magic would be taught. Pigswick squandered his inheritance and purchased a deserted vine-covered city on the world of Wysteria. Where others saw a series of wrecked, vine-choked buildings, Pigswick saw a magnificent school of magical arts.

*Here I have to ponder why Sir Bainbridge Pigswick was "unceremoniously dismissed". Based on the history book it is most likely because the faculty of Ravenwood did not agree with his style of teaching (or lack thereof) magic. How long ago was this?

Volume II: Early Days

Pigswick staffed his Academy with instructors drawn from across the Spiral, hired for their willingness to relocate. Rather than the dusty, tried-and-true methods of teaching magic, Pigswick sought new and less traditional approaches. Pigswick's students were among the finest of those willing and able to afford the Academy's exceptionally-high tuition. With lenient entry requirements, Pigswick is the primary school for students lacking obvious magic ability.

*From what I have seen they are still lacking that quality of magical ability. Coupled with instructors who were hired based on their "willingness to relocate" instead of those who could actually teach the art, it's no wonder the students aren't very knowledgeable.

Volume III: Education

The Pigswick method of magic instruction teaches that students should be exposed only to theoretical discussion. Actual magic and spell-casting is discouraged as vulgar and "easy"...the true path to magic is a restful attitude. For this reason, Pigswick students are given no homework, no studies, and spend most of their time taking naps. Well-rested students are eventually able to "figure it out" when it come to the use of magic. Unfortunately, few Pigswick students ever become real Wizards and most enter other trades.

*Seems to me that the students of Pigswick would be a delight to have in the classroom for one Professor Dolores Umbridge. It's no wonder they don't become real Wizards and upon entering other trades, I can only deduce that they were Ember magic students from the start.

Volume IV: Tournament

To spread the word of Pigswick's educational innovations, Headmaster Pigswick started a magical tournament. Students representing all of the different schools of magic from across the Spiral were invited to compete. The Spiral Cup was selected as the grand prize, a fitting symbol of magic supremacy and skill. Though in the past it has been won by Ravenwood and MooShu schools, for many years the Cup has been claimed by Pigswick. Coincindentally, the years Pigswick won the Spiral Cup were also years in which no other schools appeared to compete.

*A contradiction: If Ravenwood or MooShu held the cup, then how did Pigswick come to possess it if, "in the years Pigswick won no other schools competed"?

The Students

Beatrice Wildwind is a Fairy or Pixie type student from Weirwood who is practicing in the Storm/Tempest schools of magic.
Kisai Shugenja is a Samoorai representing MooShu whose school of focus is Balance/Equilibrium.

Nalia Dunestrider comes from a world called Mirage, which sounds just like its name implies; "an oasis in a desert of mystery" which only reminds me of the tales of Aladdin in the Arabian Nights stories.

Randolph Spellshine is the Pigswick Academy's "boy-wonder" whose ego sounds very inflated. He is also very 'pig-headed' (pardon the pun) about his own greatness. When handing out the tournament rules he remarks, "Rules? I don't need any stinking rules. I've got this tournament in the bag". Pompous much? Me thinks, yes.

The Professors & Their Schools

Professor Thaddeus Price explains Tempest magic as the "duality and hidden meaning of magic that like the tide, is about the ebb and flow of life".

Chester Droors teaches Earth magic which is the equivalent of Life magic. He explains that Earth magic is the magic of ground, growth, and the untamed wild. While the "other schools teach flights of fancy and arcane manipulation of ethereal flummery, Earth is the magic of the real".

Professor Ankhu describes Ember magic as being "about warmth and security and that the wizards who study Ember are not very adventuresome, preferring the comforts of hearth and home becoming crafters, doctors, cooks and using the flames of Ember to forge artifacts, treat injuries, and baking".

Edna Fuligin guides wizards in the art of Spirit magic, which "concerns the ghostly state that exists after life". This magic also corresponds with the Death magic of Ravenwood.

Heironimus Bunch tells us that Chaos magic "is the magic of the unexpected, the unusual, the unpredictable and that it defies logic and turns things downside-up. Everything can be found in Chaos except order because it's boring".

Quentin Burble is very obviously a fumbling professor of Frost magic. According to Professor Burble, Frost magic "is fleeting, and quick, a fragile and delicate thing that appears rarely, but forms crystal of amazing beauty and complexity".

Velma Pepper teaches the magic of Equilibrium, which "represents bringing order to the Spiral. The Equilibrium wizards' roles are to create harmony in a natural world full of confusion and disorganization because we are all equal". Equilibrium could be seen as the parallel of Balance magic because Balance magic encompasses all things.

Other Notable Characters

Headmistress Belladonna Crisp-Her role in Pigswick Academy is comparable to Headmaster Merle Ambrose. She oversees the school and sends you on numerous quests because she has heard of your "detective skills at solving problems". And problems they have! Tree men trying to take over the academy. The Spiral Tournament being compromised because the Spiral Cup goes missing. Not to mention the worst: you being framed for stealing the Cup!

Benedict Glendemming-He is the counterpart to Ravenwood's duelmaster, Diego Santiago Quariquez Ramirez. At Pigswick, he is the Master of Arms and Tournament Master. He is in charge of setting up the duels between players for the Spiral Cup.

Prospector Zeke-This world character is still offering his one-day mount rentals. Of course, he would not be Zeke if he was not trying to find misplaced critters. This time he would like for you to find the Wallflowers that are scattered in Wysteria.

Eloise-Another Spiral character easily recognized for her stitching abilities, she is continuing that tradition in Wysteria. It's too bad that she does not have any new fashion for sale to those wizards who are looking for something different.

Hugo Chatterly-The local librarian is a huge Abyssinian cat. He is responsible for the library archives, a restricted section, and he points you towards the Pigswick history quest.

Groundskeeper Verne-This satyr is in charge of the greenery on Pegasus Place and he even has a few quests for you to complete on Tanglewood Way. He also sells, surprise, plant seeds. There are two new types; the bell pepper and the tiger lily.

Derwin Stormsong-He is the very equivalent of Ravenwood's own Darren Whisperwind, who lets you know that the Pigswick folk will cheat and break the rules whenever they can.

Shop Vendors:

Geoffrey Spellsmith-This vendor of the wand/deck/athame shop is a rabbit. It looks like he is currently out of stock on wands, though.

Begonia Woodworth-A rabbit shopkeeper who sells pets and pet snacks. Looks like she is "sold out" of her pets. However, she does have a supply of rank 3 & 4 Death and Balance snacks if you are interested.

Oliver Quickneedle-Another rabbit vendor who stocks robes/shoes/hats for those wizards who wear level 25+ (except for one pair of shoes, Troubling Sandals, for level 20+). Get your fashion on in his shop!

Emmeline Silvercraft-This rabbit jeweler has a few amulets and rings available starting at level  5+ to 23+.

Ophelia Moonreach-The rabbit vendor here runs the crafting and housing emporium. She has plenty of the needed reagents for lower level crafters. Unfortunately, she does not yet have any housing items in-stock.

Town Rabbit Guards:

Lieutenant Roger-He is in charge of keeping everyone out of Tanglewood Way.

Sergeant Harvey-He is also in charge of guarding Tanglewood Way but he tells you that there is another way in if you really need to go there.

Captain O'Hare-He guards the entrance to Pegasus Place and will only admit you once you have shown proper credentials from Headmistress Crisp.

*Anyone else here notice the pattern? The rabbits are hard at work while the pigs get to be utterly lazy with their incessant nap taking?

Pegasus Place...Of Plants & Animals

The Aerie is the stables where the Pegasi are raised and trained to be gifted throughout the Spiral. I wonder if this means that us wizards may receive a Pegasi mount one day like we received Stray Piggles. One can only hope!

It is a shame that we don't actually get to interact with the Pegasi other than finding their Pegasus chow that the goblins stole. It would be nice to ride a Pegasus like when we got to ride a battledrake to Malistaire's tower.

Thanks to Groundskeeper Verne, I am now the Apprentice Gardener of Pegasus Place. I have learned to find Strange Plants, Trim Vines, and create topiary out of plain old shrubs. All of this was accomplished without even looking at the book, Plants of the Spiral for myself.

Additional thanks goes to Kisai Shugenja because I am now a florist, as well. Gardening is surely a big thing here in Pigswick.

In the quest "Portal Remains", Verne says, "By the Great Tree, you've done it! Lord Graustark will trouble this street no longer!" when you complete the Crystal Tower. This stands to reason that he at least believes in a magical tree.

The Duels

The first duel takes place against Bleys Flamerender who is a student of Pigswick specializing in Ember/Fire magic. You must fight him in the Chamber of the Basilisk. Funny, though, since the Basilisk that marks the dueling room looks a lot like a salamander. Not very threatening, if you ask me.

The second dule is with Kisai Shugenja, a balance student who hails from MooShu. This battle takes place in the Hall of the Hydra.

The third duel pits you against Beatrice Wildwind, a student competing from Weirwood trained in Tempest/Storm magic (unless they call it something else in her land).  Your duel with Beatrice takes place in the Hall of the Harpy.

The fourth duel takes place in the Hall of the Specter and has you matching wands (after you find hers) with Nalia Dunestrider, the ice wizard from the deserts of Mirage.

The fifth and final duel has you facing off against Randolph Spellshine, a Chaos/Myth student who is also the current champion of the Spiral Tournament. This battle is in the Hall of the Gorgon, a room that is more lavish than any other you previously fought in.

And the Spiral Cup goes tooooooo....Ravenwood! Did you ever have any doubts?

Not So Different After All

From the "Check This Out" quest: Headmistress Belladonna Crisp needs to give you permission to check a book out of the restricted section of the library. She starts off by saying, "What's this? I send you to help Captain O'Hare and the next I hear from you, you're talking about dispelling Goblin portals? Very well, then. I'm getting a clearer picture of how Ambrose runs his school, and believe me, it's not a pretty picture". Hmm maybe she will speak to him about all those run back-and-forth quests we are given. Probably not , though, and I don't intend to get my hopes up since it apparently  happens in her own school. After all, she is having us do the most running of anyone.

Other World Questions

What kind of world is Mirage anyway? What would the architectural structures look like? What kind of creatures inhabit Mirage? Any particular mounts that would be expected in this world?

How about Weirwood? It is mentioned in the storyline that Beatrice, a wizard, came from there. It also mentioned some of the enemies who snuck in through the Portal. What other kinds of wizards and enemies come from this world?

Empyrea? Another world, maybe? Geoffrey Spellsmith, the deck/wand/athame vendor mentions a shipment of rainbow ink from a Sky-Squid coming from there. There is not really a whole lot to go on since we never actually get to see anyone from Empyrea. Speaking of, what in other worlds is a Sky-Squid? I can only hope it is a menacing monster that we may get to cross wands with in the near future. 

I kinda wish that the Pigswick students used different spells than we have so we can see what they bring from their own worlds. I know that they have magic similar to Ravenwood, but it would have been nice to see variations of the current spells, if not something completely different that follows the formula the professors spoke about. How would you vary their spells so that they are still fitting of their classes?

Drubbing? Is that the same as a Ravenwood wizard defeating a Pigswick Professor? Hmm, it must be cause I totally "drubbed" Proffessor Chester Droors! What other unusual words would wizards from the aforementioned worlds use that we haven't heard of?

Hypothetical Questions/Reasoning

I have read so much about young wizards saying that they would transfer to Pigswick if given the opportunity. Myself, I haven't seen much to convince me to become an exchange student. So, I ask you:

Who would win in a fair competition between these obvious rivals/parallel characters:

Headmaster Merle Ambrose vs Headmistress Belladonna Crisp

Benedict Glendemming vs Diego?

Professor Lydia Greyrose vs Professor Quentin Burble

Professor Dalia Falmea vs Professor Ankhu

Professor Halston Balestrom vs Professor Thaddeus Price

Professor Alhazred vs Professor Velma Pepper

Professor Moolinda Wu vs Professor Chester Droors

Professor Dworgyn vs Professor Edna Fuligin

Professor Cyrus Drake vs Professor Heironimus Bunch

Contest Time

I want answers to my questions even if they are only theorycrafted. Pick a topic from the "Other World Questions" up above and also answer one of the "Hypothetical Questions/Reasoning" to be qualified.

You may elect to do one of the following:

a) When you choose a topic from "Other World Questions" make sure you answer any question that may arise. What does the world look like? What type of wizards are there? What type of creatures exist? What spells do they use? What kind of mounts and clothing is common for that world?

b) When picking the spells topic, keep in mind what the professors have said (read up if need be) about each class. I want a minimum of seven new spells if you choose just one class or you can do one spell for each class. Keep in mind whether these classes probably have minions like Ravenwood does, so include a minion type with the seven spells.

c) For the vocabulary challenge, you can use words that are already in existence as long as they are unusual and not commonplace, everyday words. You can also make up your own words. Pick a world that these words would come from, define them, and use in a sentence as an example. Minimum of ten words must be supplied.

Explain if you would remain at Ravenwood or transfer to Pigswick and give a good reason. Try to persuade me on the school of your choice. Also, you must pick one of the above battles and tell me your opinion on who you think would win, what spells they used, and why they won.


1st place will get a $20 gift card
2nd place will get 5 Hoard Packs of their choice (Wyvern or Dragon)
3rd place will get 1 of each Hoard pack

Entry deadline is for September 3rd and I will pick the winners on my birthday, September 5th.

If your entry is bigger than the Comments box please send your entries to my email at SorceressMiklai@yahoo.com
Please do not leave your email. I will post the winners on my blog with details on how to claim your prizes.
In the meantime, enjoy Wysteria and learn everything you can that both schools have to offer!

Follow Your Own Path

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

As Summer Draws Upon a Close

KI has been hard at work this summer and the holidays aren't even here yet! I am so looking forward to the new things that I anticipate coming to the spiral at the end of 2011/beginning of 2012. Here are just some highlights of the great things that W101 has brought to us players:

April-New pets were brought to the spiral via the Crowns Shop, hatching, and the Easter vendor, Eggbert.

The Pet Rock was KI's April's Fools Day joke to the wizards of the spiral. This rock was only available for the first week.

Some wizards found a new hybrid pet by hatching a lvl 48 Helephant pet with a WC pet shop vendor Unicorn pet.

The Pet Egg was available in the Crowns Shop and some resourceful wizards found a way to create a hybrid by hatching with an Ice Colossus and Dragon pets.

Mount-A-Palooza came to the spiral and with it an influx of new mounts in the forms of ponies. The permanent Starlight, Moonlight, and Sunshine ponies became all the rage.

May-We were introduced to the continuation of the Grizzleheim quest where the Coven were determined to bring about the Everwinter to the entire spiral by waking the Ice Titan in Wintertusk. If Wintertusk is just a side world, I can't wait to see what KI unleashes upon us with a full scaled main storyline world. Wintertusk was absolutely beautiful with friendly characters and bewitching enemies that we had not encountered yet. The scenery was astonishingly breathtaking.

When test realm came out, I rushed through it really quickly on my Fire/Storm wizards, Jordan/Brianna so they could get their level 58 pets. Once it came to live realm, I really took my time listening to the dialogue and gazing at the landscape and surroundings. I am so glad I have 24 wizards who will each get to experience that parallel world because I could never get tired of the quests or the areas.

Added to the new areas is a familiar aquatic wonderland that was brought back this time with its own storyline, challenging tower, and extended places to explore. I am talking about Crab Alley in the middle of Triton Avenue. It offers quests and challenges for low level and legendary wizards both.

New school specific pets were given to wizards that were level 58 and had completed certain WT quest requirements. Ice got their own Wyvern, Fire a Phoenix, Storm a Kraken (who sneezes), Balance received Lady Judgment, Life calls forth the Forest Lord, Death has a Scarecrow, and Myth got their own choco...ahem Humongofrog.

Each school also got new spells to use at level 35 & level 55.

Ice-Legion shield gives a 30% tower shield to all players on your team & Frozen Armor is a higher end version of Ice Armor which can be used on any of your teammates.

Fire-Fuel gives three fire traps at once which works great on DoT spells & Power Link is the upgraded 'heal you/attack them' spell of Link.

Storm-Supercharge adds more power to storm in a version of a blade that can go as high as 140% if you use all your power pips for it & Insane Bolt which is a crazy version of Wild Bolt that does either 1,000 damage to a single enemy or 10,000 damage to yourself.

Balance-Elemental & Spirit defuses will ensure that your enemy fizzles any spell they cast while this is on them & Availing Hands which is an upgraded version of Helping Hands.

Life-Triage is great for taking off those pesky DoT spells & Brilliant Light which is placed on each team member will help when they heal themselves, another teammate, or when spritely goes off from their pets.

Death-Dark Pact falls along the same lines as Sacrifice & Empower in that it does damage to you when you cast it but you get a universal 30% blade to use for yourself or another teammate & Virulent Plague which is an updated version of Plague because it causes 40% weakness on all enemies as opposed to 25%.

Myth-Shatter is a smaller scaled version of Earthquake since it only takes off positive shields not traps or blades of the opposing team & Talos is the greatest minion in the game in terms of size, health, and spells he uses.

Mounts were also introduced as a new roaming feature for wizards' houses. With this introduction came a new way to decorate and show off your own wizard domains.

June-Most of June was spent trying to get those 'hard-to-get' pets and wands/staves/swords that were only available during certain times or in specific contests. KI changed the prizes on the various tiers of their KI FreeGames site and plenty of #Twizards and Central members paused their own wizard questing and began to delve earnestly in racking up the high scores in Doodle Dug, Sorcery Stones, and Dueling Diego for those sought after codes. Some were so adept at Doodle Dug that they were generous enough to open their own code shops and thus give back to the wizarding community.

For myself, I was able to finally get a Death Scarab, Storm Beetle, Umbra Sword, and Staff of the Querent. I was even lucky enough to score a few Mega Snack and Dragon Hoard Packs.

Speaking of Dragon Hoard Packs. OMG the loot inside those and the price was a real value! It became akin to gambling and/or the lottery. Everyone was wanting to get the rare Bone Dragon mount or Dragon Wings. For the gear, plenty were vying for the two-handed Dragon swords or the unique level specific hats, robes, and shoes that offered varying stats and innate cards.

July-New pet in the Crowns Shop in honor of the Fourth of July-the Patriotic Leprechaun. Dressed in red, white, and blue to help celebrate Independence Day, he was sure to boost your spirits when he was in a Pet Derby race with all those epic skills.

Another hybrid pet was found, the Fire Beetle, by crossing a Storm Beetle and Firecat.

Petnome had their first birthday and to celebrate they were giving away the gifts! Prizes for the various contests included crowns and an menagerie of pets.

August-Test Realm is once again open and this time KI has done it again! There is new content in the form of Wysteria which is a parallel rival school to Ravenwood. There is a new tower for those level 25 and up as well as an even more difficult tower (is it possible?) for Legendary wizards who have grown complacent with the Waterworks.

Housing perks include two new houses in the form of a dragon's castle called the Wizard's Watchtower and an underwater Sunken Palace. I am thinking KI decided to appease Miss Paige Moonshade who wanted Calypso's Sunken Ship for the longest time. At least now Calypso gets to keep her ship so we can continue to farm her and Paige gets her own house to decorate and float items that I am sure she can't wait to show us. Nice move, KI! All wizards get to be happy now.

With the houses come...HOUSE-A-PALOOZA! Seems that most of the W101 fansites are sponsoring contests to give away the various houses of the spiral. This is a great time to enter if you have a penchant for house decorating and would rather spend your gold on the housing items needed. This is a great time to try to win a house for your newest wizard who would like to move out of their dorm rooms.

It is Central's third birthday and they are celebrating by holding contests and giving away crowns, Dragon Hoard gear,  pets and other miscellaneous items.

August 19th will also be my own second Centralversary since I joined their fansite on that day in 2009. Unfortunately, I will not be hosting anything remotely as lavish as what they are doing. At most, I will probably just get together with a few of my closest friends and work on completing quests or farming for a particular item.

September-Has not come yet, but what do we think/hope that KI will bring for their own third birthday? My own birthday is on the 5th and I am thinking of following the same paths as others and hosting my own contest where YOU get the prizes!

Leave ideas of contests you would like me to hold as well as your own predictions of what KI has in store for us for the remainder of the year.

Until then...

Follow Your Own Path

Summer Love...In the Spiral & the South

I met Alric Ravensinger at the Tri-Harvest Festival in April of 2010. It is no surprise to the #Twizards and blogging community that we are together since we don't bother hiding our sentiments toward each other.

We have talked countless hours on the phone, via Skype, or Yahoo IMs for the last year. It was only a matter of time before we were destined to actually meet in person.

I was originally scheduled to go visit him the week of July 11th to coincide with the release of Harry Potter 7. That was going to be our first physical date. Dinner and a movie :) .

Instead, the plans changed almost last minute and he wanted to meet sooner and be able to spend more time with me. So I made the trip to him the 2nd of June. I travelled across two state lines, over 1000 miles (went 100 miles out of my way :/), and 18 hours later I met my true sweetheart.

I wish I could say that our first meeting was purely romantic, but I was utterly exhausted and really just wanted to take a shower and nap. However, I was resting when he showed up at our meeting spot and I rushed out of my car to throw my arms around him and gave him a kiss. I asked him to ride with me while I followed his sister to his house.

I stayed at his house for that weekend (four days) and we talked forever into the night, watched movies, went to the mall, and I took pictures of the desert scenery. As we drove towards my own hometown, we got to watch the different climates change from desert to greenery the further east we went.

The next day I gave him a tour of my city (which didn't take long since it's nowhere near as big as his own) and we had a picnic lunch while sitting by the (man-made) waterfalls.

That first weekend we went up to Oklahoma to go to the mountains. While there we saw prairie dogs, buffalo, minor canyons, and beautiful water scenes. We went swimming in the lake, cooked hot dogs, and roasted marshmallows. He was in charge of the camera and was taking the pictures that he wanted to keep for his own memories.

About a week later we went to the lake in my town and had a lunch on a park bench. When we finished eating we went for a stroll where we walked up to the water's edge and just enjoyed the tranquil moment. The wind was blowing hard that day which was a wonderful reprieve from the oppressing heat that we have thus far suffered through.

During his stay with me, we would alternate playing wiz (though very infrequently), he would play on his DS while I played Zelda on my Gamecube. I got him started on the Fablehaven series, which he admitted were good books. We watched a few cooking shows on the Food Network channel asking each other if we would be willing to try any of the dishes that were prepared. We also visited my best friend for the 4th of July. We celebrated by eating hot dogs, sausages, and grilled burgers and finishing with a healthy dose of Wiz!

On July 15th we went to the midnight showing of Harry Potter 7 as we had planned so very long ago. It was our first official "movie date" and we both enjoyed ourselves, though we did have different opinions of the movie. Hey, who said true love has to agree on EVERYTHING?!

The original plan was that he would head home on the 18th but neither one of us were ready for him to leave so we extended his stay until August 8th. He was already accepted and love by my sister, best friend, and our dogs. Of course, I was more than happy to have him around and to myself for a bit longer. There were still things that I wanted to show him but we would have to go to the "big city" for that kind of tourist-y thing. Which we did the last week of July.

My sister had a business trip so we just tagged along so I could show him the sights while she was in her classes. We went to the Water Gardens where we saw the water oasis in the concrete jungle that people would go to just to gaze at the architecture or meditate.

We went to the Botanical Gardens and looked at the different types of flowers and gardens there. We especially enjoyed the Japanese Garden and couldn't get enough of the Koi that were prevalent in the ponds. We also got a few pictures of random critters, insects, and reptiles that were roaming in their natural habitat.

I took him to the Omni theater where we got to view a show in the planetarium about our "Amazing Solar System" and the Imax theater had a showing of "Tornado Alley". I thought that was fitting since he had never dealt with them and they are commonplace where I live.

Once again we went to visit my best friend, who treated us to the "Captain America" movie and supper. We ended up staying the weekend with her and just hanging out, playing wiz, and watching DVDs.

All too soon August 8th was looming upon us and I tried to steel my emotions in preparation for his departure. He is my love with his own family that has waited for his return; not a pet that I could expect to keep with me forever. Therefore, I knew that eventually he had to return home. I also knew that when the time was right we would be together again in each other's arms. For now I am content knowing that we are forever in each other's hearts and minds.

Until our paths meet again...

Follow Your Own Path

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mercenaries For Hire...Goodbye & Hello

It HAS been awhile since I last posted (understatement yes, I know) and one I intend to remedy so as to catch you all up. So many things have been going on both IRL and ITS that it's amazing that I am still sane LOL. But that is another story.

The "Goodbye" is because my Unholy Trio sisters left the M4H to spend more personal time in the game doing the things they love to do. Cassandra Dragonheart, Lady Blade, and I will ALWAYS be the Unholy Trio regardless of where we are in our personal and gaming lives. We only acquired the name during our recruitment process, but we made it our own!

Another "Goodbye" to the M4H is the humon-gigan-normous help thread that has been on W101 Central for the last 2 years. This thread was finally closed with 1651 pages and 16,507 posts. My first post to M4H was for the Tri-Harvest Festival on page 15 #143 offering to help and in the process hoping to get my grand gear for my wizards. My official welcome to M4H post was page 662 #6617.

The following "Hello" and welcome is extended to the newest M4H recruits:

AlricRavensinger-Most of my readers (thank you for being so loyal during my sporadic blogging spells :) ) are already very familiar with Alric as he is a constant presence in the wizarding community. He has his own blog, "The Raven's Vault", is the creator of his own fan-comic, "Fame at a Price", is an active member of Diary of a Wizard and a mod on their forums, is also an active #Twizard of the Twitter/wizarding community. He is an honorary member of the Unholy Trio as he and I are sweethearts, he and Cassandra Dragonheart are Tio/Tia, and shares a Hermano/Hermana relationship with Lady Blade (go figure THAT one out! Hehe). Now he is also one of the newest members of the M4H.

Katherine Light-Kat joined Central in October of last year, but she has made quite an impact in that short time. She proved her merit as a F2M4H and also wrote the WaterWorks guide, "Plumbing 101" to help other wizards out in this particular difficult instance. She has also joined the ranks of the #Twizards as @WizKathLight and has even gotten recognition and praise from Professor Greyrose for her blog post, "Of Video Games & Education. Yes, In the SameSentence". She can now add Merc to her list of accomplishments.

JesseNightwalker-Jesse has been a member of Central since November of '09 and a constant as a F2M4H in the last year since I have known him. He has always been courteous and professional on the runs he has assisted with and I also welcome him to our Merc Family.

"Hello" and Congratulations are in order for the team of Mercenaries who not only got a new thread to start fresh, but also got their OWN FORUM! Inside this forum you will find a breakdown of things you may request help with. There are currently seven separate threads. Three of those are stickied to the forum as they contain information about who the mercs are and what they do as well as a place that offers Q&A.

The first thread "Helpful Links" provides links from Central members who were kind enough to make guides to the harder/hardest instances in the game, ie. Briskbreeze Tower, the Waterworks, etc. As a merc, we would point menu chatters to this thread so they can see what they are in for when they request a run through these areas. It is also good for those who really want to try to do these areas on their own BEFORE they ask for help from the M4H.

"Our Team ofMercenaries" includes pictures and school stats of the wizards that we use when we pick up run requests, including active AND retired. This ensures that you know the person who is saying they are a merc really is.

The "M4HRules and Information" offers a plethora of, well, information about the services offered and provided by M4H. It is advised that all requestors read this thread first BEFORE they ask for a run.

The actual help threads that Centralites post in are broken down into three threads by difficulty.

"WC/KT/MB/MS/GH" is for those needing help in those worlds: Wizard City, Krokotopia, Marleybone, Mooshu, and Grizzleheim. Because we have some very good F2M4H who are constantly helping out and we have faith that they will not let a client down, they are permitted to accept and lead these runs.

"DS/CL/WT" is for the current three hardest worlds, Dragonspyre, Celestia, and Wintertusk, where you pretty much have to be either a Grandmaster or Legendary to even get the quests not to mention, survive. Mercenaries are the only ones allowed to accept these requests to run, though others may join in if they so wish and the client doesn't mind.

"DifficultInstance Areas" refers to those particular towers where the bosses like to cheat or you have to play with a certain strategy to guarantee success. These areas may be in lower worlds like Briskbreeze or the Waterworks in WC and the Warehouse in MB, but because of their difficulty level only a M4H will lead and accept these runs. F2M4H are more than welcome to join for the loot or experience.

The seventh thread "M4H Special Events" is left for when the Mercenaries get together with the Central community to host special themed events. The events are usually leaning towards helping W101 members get that elusive gear that they need or finally getting a quest cleared out of their log book. In the past there was the "Great In-Spyre-ation" dedicated to running wizards through Malistaire's instance to get their level 50 Grandmaster gear (robes, athames, and rings). The "Tri-Harvest Festival" was an entire weekend farming event of Yeva Spiderkeeper, Viktor Snowcrusher, and Kraysys for Grandmaster shoes and hats. "Ring In the School Year" was a Labor Day festival to help Grandmasters get their school specific rings from Briskbreeze Tower. "Turkey Throwdown" was a Thanksgiving tribute to the Raven Coven for dropping gear that sold so well we were able to help lots of people fill their pockets with gold. Just this past summer we ran the "Reel In Your Gear" Waterworks farming event for Level 60 Legendary robes, hats, and shoes.

Who knows what events we have planned? Of course if you have any ideas that you would like us to consider, you can always leave a comment here or post a visitor message on any of the mercs' profile pages.

If you have a dream of one day becoming a M4H don't give up on it. Hone your skills. Check your attitude, patience, and temperament. Help others, including offering physical help or just advice or tips, because some people don't always ask for it. Be courteous and polite to those you meet; including lower level wizards. Remember always to have fun because all in all it's still just a game!

Follow Your Own Path