Archive for September, 2013

Cheat Sheet

Posted in Words from Behind the Curtain with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2013 by Garrosh Hellscream

quillandpaper

As promised in my last post, here’s an overview of the state of the blog.  I realize that after two years of accumulated in-jokes and storylines, the Command Board may be a bit disorienting to a newcomer (or, for that matter, to a long-time reader who blinked at the wrong time), so I’ve tried to break this down into a semi-sorta-kinda FAQ.  Most of this will be familiar to long-time readers (though I’ve also included a few behind-the-scenes notes that some of you might find interesting), but I hope it’ll explain a few things for new arrivals.

 

I hate Garrosh!  Why does Garrosh seem so sympathetic in this blog?  Are you one of those Garrosh apologists/fanboys?

Comically enough, I originally started the blog because I really didn’t like Garrosh either, and saw the blog as a way to have a few chuckles mocking him.  It wasn’t long, though, before I decided that I would get sick of the outright-mockery approach pretty quickly, so I started branching out.  Part of the result was letting blog-Garrosh become (I hope) a bit more multifaceted, while still remaining true to his temperamental self.  Including the LOLs.

Ultimately, I don’t set out to justify anything Garrosh does, just to present it in a way that makes sense in light of the character, and if that pushes a black-and-white scenario into some shade of gray, well, that makes for a more interesting story anyway.  And, keep in mind, the story here is being told, generally, from Garrosh’s point of view, so I don’t know how that perspective wouldn’t be sympathetic.  Everyone is the hero of their own story, after all, and nobody thinks they’re a bad person.

 

Why isn’t there anything here about the siege of Orgrimmar?

What are you talking about?  There was a post titled “The siege of Orgrimmar” a good solid year ago – if anything, shouldn’t you be asking why Blizzard is coming so late to the party?  (By the way, I didn’t realize until just now that patch 5.4 was released almost exactly on the one-year anniversary of the “Siege or Orgrimmar” post.  How awesomely freaky is that?)

Anyway, to give a real answer: Time-wise, the blog has not yet reached the events of patch 5.4.  The storyline is currently playing out the midst of 5.2; Lor’themar Theron and Jaina Proudmoore have recently set up shop on the Isle of Thunder, while Vol’jin is still recovering from his injuries at Shado-Pan Monastery.

This time lag between the game and the blog, by the way, is partly by design.  I’d always intended the blog to run a bit behind the game; coming into MoP, I realized that if I tried to follow in-game events too closely, I wouldn’t have time to adapt my own ideas to fit Blizzard’s story.  There have already been a few instances in which Blizzard’s story has taken a turn that’s forced me to change gears in a way that would have been disastrous if I didn’t have a month or two of lead time.  Of course, I’m clearly more than a month or two behind – that’s been a result of various real-life circumstances slowing down my output over the last few months.  I’m working on it!

 

So the blog basically retells in-game events, from Garrosh’s point of view?

Yes and no.  The blog operates within Blizzard’s continuity (with the aforementioned time delay), but also weaves additional storylines in and around the canonical Blizzard plots.  Anything that happens or is stated explicitly in-game is canon, obviously, and the blog is bound by it.*  That said, I sometimes like to put other stories around Blizzard’s, to give them context that might change the way those events are perceived.  (This was a large part of my motivation for the Timequake story leading into Theramore, or, more recently, the blog events surrounding the Divine Bell / Domination Offensive storyline.)

Also, while the point of view is mostly Garrosh’s, there are some posts that present events from other perspectives.  Most notable are the “guest” posts by Spazzle (Garrosh’s tech goblin), which help fill in story details that Garrosh wouldn’t necessarily be privy to.  You can always identify a post written by someone other than Garrosh by the color of the text – Spazzle’s posts, for instance, are always written in green text, and almost always include the phrase “Spazzle Speaks” in the title.  Also, as a rule of thumb, when Spazzle et al post, Garrosh remains oblivious to anything that might be revealed; the conceit at work here is that Garrosh doesn’t really care what anyone else is writing, so he doesn’t bother reading it.

* The one instance that I’ve flat-out fudged in-game details is the way I’ve chosen to incorporate the events of “A Little Patience.”  From the Alliance point of view, that scenario takes place almost immediately after Varian arrives in Pandaria; in the blog, I’ve pushed those events a bit later in the story.  This was largely a matter of convenience: I knew that I wanted there to be a military operation in Krasarang in which Garrosh’s trainees went missing, and I realized fairly late in the going that “A Little Patience” lent itself to that story pretty readily.  Hopefully those Alliance-side readers out there will be willing to turn a blind eye to my blatant and shameless revision.  (Horde bias rears its ugly head again!  GRR!)

 

Garrosh has trainees?  When did that happen?

Right here!  As part of the escalation of the war effort, the Kor’kron started a training program to prepare orc teenagers for eventual military service.  When Garrosh learned that Gurtash – an orc boy from the Orgrimmar orphanage whom Garrosh had taken under his wing – had been conscripted, Garrosh volunteered to take Gurtash’s trainee group under his own supervision.  (Side note: In my head-canon, Garrosh has a bit of a soft spot for the orphans, being as he is one himself.)  The trainees, who have nicknamed themselves the Dead Peons Society (DPS for short) have accompanied Garrosh to Pandaria and joined him on a few adventures.  Fairly recently, they went missing after the Horde loss in the “A Little Patience” scenario, and were eventually found by Garrosh, hiding away in an underground system of caves.  That’s brought us up to the point where we are now, story-wise: Garrosh and the trainees underground, looking for a way out.

 

Is the entire supporting cast from within the game?

Mostly, but not entirely.  I’ve invented a few characters for the blog – Spazzle being the highest-profile – but I’ve tried to keep it limited, and tried to restrict those characters to fairly peripheral positions in the lore.  The one glaring exception was the storyline involving Garrosh’s mother, Lakkara, who isn’t mentioned anywhere in the actual lore.  It just struck me as odd that there’s no record of who she was, or what happened to her, and besides, in a mythology packed to capacity with father/son relationships, I thought it was about time somebody’s mom got a little screen time.

Otherwise, when a character turns up who doesn’t exist in-game, that character was often inspired by a reader and/or based on someone’s game character.  For instance, both Gurtash and Mortimer (Garrosh’s personal wyvern) became blog characters thanks to mailbag letters from Khizzara from Blog of the Treant; Khizzara’s own namesake has made a few appearances as Spazzle’s cousin; doodle-prone kitty druid Taktani became a full-fledged character (and boy, is she ever a character) after making several mailbag contributions; and many of the DPS trainees are modeled on the baby orc alts of friends.

In general, though, if you see a supporting character turn up whose name you don’t recognize, the smartest first guess is that he or she is based on a questgiver or other NPC somewhere in-game.  (Wowpedia is your friend!)  I deliberately picked a lot of relatively minor NPCs – people like Mokvar, Elder Cloudfall, and Dontrag and Utvoch – to use as supporting characters because I figured their relatively peripheral status gave me more latitude to work with them, give them backstories, etc.  After all, what are the odds that Blizzard would actually do something with one of these people to contradict my own concoctions?

(Either way, if you’re not sure who someone is, I’ve also maintained a partial list of supporting players on the About the Blog page, including some of the more pertinent information about them.)

 

Speaking of which – in the SoO raid, Mokvar is a mini-boss!  Isn’t he missing?  How are you going to deal with that?

First… um, yeah, that whole “no way they’re gonna do something with this guy” really blew up in my face on this one, huh?

And second… So, everyone who thought I was going to lay out this big storyline for Mokvar, and make such a production out of his disappearance…and then have it turn out that he really is dead…step forward.

Didn’t think so.

For those of you unclear on Mokvar’s whole story, which has been unfolding gradually for quite a while, you can check here for a brief overview and links to the relevant posts.  Very short version: After becoming the victim of a mysterious attack, Mokvar sets out to track down a powerful relic from his warlock days, with the aid of a human named Deliana (who was Mokvar’s Alliance equivalent in the old dungeon set quests); over the course of his quest, he starts to behave increasingly strangely, culminating in his eventual flight from arrest in Orgrimmar.  His whereabouts are now unknown.

Stay tuned.  You’ll see where this is going!

 

With Mokvar gone, how are you handling the transcripts?

Prelinimary: The blog contains several transcripts of conversations that Garrosh has engaged in.  The premise from the outset has been that Mokvar is (or was) Garrosh’s personal scribe, and records all these conversations for posting.  This explains, by the way, a number of occasions when Garrosh mentions summoning Mokvar to an event, or otherwise noting Mokvar’s presence, as a way of leading in to a transcript.

Since Mokvar is off the grid, Garrosh has passed transcription duties to two people: Gurtash, who records his transcripts in the form of comics; and Taktani, a friend of Dontrag and Utvoch and long-time mailbag contributor, who’s started to (and will continue to) write a few transcripts, laden with her own unassuming brand of commentary.

 

What are these guild chat logs that keep cropping up?

Garrosh and several of the supporting characters play an MMORPG called Earth Online – the basic premise being that, to these characters, Azeroth is reality, and our real world is actually the game world of the MMO.  Garrosh started his own guild, called <Warchief>, and several familiar faces (including Spazzle, Sylvanas, Lor’themar, Faranell, Garona, and Dontrag and Utvoch) are members.  Also worth noting is that Jaina Proudmoore is a member of the guild…although she doesn’t realize (yet?) who her guildmates are in “real life.”

The guild chat logs recreate some of the exchanges that the members of <Warchief> have within their game, usually including regular guild chat, officer chat, and, in some cases, whispers.  I make no pretense about the fact that some aspects of these logs are based on my own guild-chat expeiences, especially officer chat.  The transcripts are always presented from the point of view of whoever posted them – usually Garrosh, but occasionally Spazzle.

 

Where did this whole thing about lemon squares come from?

Garrosh loves lemon squares.  Don’t you?

Real explanation: Very early in the blog, Edenvale of The Gamer’s Fridge posted a recipe for Garrosh Hellscream’s lemon squares, and pointed me to her post with a comment on the Command Board.  Since then, it’s become a bit of a running gag – the recipe, according to Garrosh, was his greatmother’s secret family recipe, and he was most perturbed that this random night elf had apparently gotten ahold of it.

 

What does “FYV” mean?

An abbreviation of one of Garrosh’s favorite turns of phrase, of course: “Fuck you, Varian!”  Among other things, Garrosh often finds a way to slip that phrase into his EPIC VERSE compositions.

 

Speaking of which, what’s this “EPIC VERSE”?  Garrosh writes poetry?

You sound surprised.  Garrosh is an orc of many interests.  What, do you think he’s some kind of one-note caricature or something?

Okay, fine, game-Garrosh kind of is.

Honestly, I just got a kick out of the obvious dichotomy of Garrosh Hellscream, gruffest of the gruff, also writing poetry on the side.  True to form, Garrosh doesn’t view his compositions as just any poetry, so he prefers to call them EPIC VERSE.  In caps.  Always.  It’s sprinkled throughout the blog – almost always in purple text, to stress its epic-ness – and ranges from limericks, to parodies of other famous poems, to reader requests, to epic rap battles.

 

So, that’s as much as I can think to cover.  Other gaps can probably be filled in through the Major Storylines page, but if there are questions that anyone still has, in terms of getting caught up or clarified, by all means toss them into a comment and I’ll make sure it’s answered.  And so, on that note, I’ll sigh off with the promise – unconditional promise! – that before the week is out, you’ll have the continuation of the actual STORY part of the story!  Which left off, as you might recall, right here:

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And So It Begins

Posted in Words from Behind the Curtain with tags , , , , on September 10, 2013 by Garrosh Hellscream

siegelogo

Greetings once again from behind the curtain, everyone.  Averry here with another pseudo-kinda-public service announcement.  (No, not another one about Google search terms.  That one was all Garrosh.)  (Kind of.)

First of all, yes, I know, I’m woefully behind on actual story updates on the blog, and I’ve left you all hanging on that last semi-cliffhanger for far too long.  As I’ve hinted at elsewhere, I’ve had a convergence of real-life work and – ever so conveniently – a (minor but annoying) hand injury which has made it rather difficult to work on new comics for more than short periods at a time.  And, of course, this happened just at a point when I’d committed the story to a string of comic installments that really need to stay in place.

Rest assured, I’m working on getting the next installment together as quickly as possible.  Since starting the blog, I’ve always truly hated letting more than a couple days go by without a new post, so believe me when I say that the slow output I’ve had the last several weeks has grated on me to no end.  With any luck, you’ll find this upcoming stretch worth the wait, between (in the immediate-term) some face time between Garrosh and Varian, and (in the slightly longer-term) a few plot twists that I’m hoping will draw some pronounced reactions.  (Yep, there I go teasing again.)

In the meantime, though, I wanted to touch on two other items, since – have you heard about this? – today marks the moment we’ve all been anticipating for quite a while: the release of the Siege of Orgrimmar raid, and the downfall of Garrosh Hellscream.

Well, in-game, at least.  Blog-Garrosh still has a ways to go before he bids us a fond farewell.

Granted, as I’ve mentioned before, I do have the major plotlines mapped out for the blog from here to the grand finale, and I’m admittedly not in any great hurry to close up shop just yet, but nevertheless, the gap between what’s happening in the blog and what’s happening in-game does highlight one issue that probably deserves to be addressed.  Which leads us to…

ITEM THE FIRST!

That being, the timeline of the blog, and all the convoluted storylines swirling around it.

Over the last year or so, a number of readers have given the Command Board plugs and shout-outs on various other blogs and forums – for which I always feel grateful and flattered – and on more than one occasion, their endorsements have included the recommendation that new readers go back and read the blog from the beginning, since it’s not exactly newcomer-friendly.  That’s a fair criticism, even if it’s not really meant to be critical; while building up these ongoing storylines and running jokes/themes is one of the things I enjoy most about writing the blog, I also understand that it probably makes it difficult to jump in mid-stream.  And while I’d certainly love for people to go back to read it all from the beginning (ARTIFICIALLY INFLATE MY PAGEVIEWS, BWAHA!), at this point, well past the 300-post mark, I don’t think I can fairly expect every new arrival to commit to such a bear of an undertaking.

And, with the release of Siege of Orgrimmar, I should probably brace myself for a few new folks to start finding their way here.  (It’s already started on Twitter, by the way.  Not to mention the beginning of what I’m sure will be a minor whirlwind of trash-talking tweets.  Stay tuned; I may share some here soon.)  While I try to link back to earlier posts when relevant, and hope that the About the Blog and Major Storylines pages help fill in a bit, I’m sure the blog can be a little confusing to a new reader for a number of reasons.  So, to help any of you who just arrived – or not-so-new readers whom I’ve managed to confuse with some of my byzantine plotting – I’m going to be putting up a bit of a crib sheet in the next couple days to help account for where we are and how we got here.  Hopefully, if you just found your way to the Command Board and are having a WTF response, that will help a bit.

(Super-short version: Right now the events of the blog are taking place in the midst of patch 5.2 – the Divine Bell is still a recent memory, Lor’themar and Jaina have recently arrived on the Isle of Thunder, and Vol’jin is still recuperating at Shado-Pan Monastery.)

With that said, let’s more on to the much more pressing…

ITEM THE SECOND!

Raiding your Warchief.  With your Warchief.  Kind of.

True story: Coming into MoP, I retired from raiding.  I had raided pretty much all the way through TBC, Wrath, and Cata…and it just wasn’t fun anymore.  This, by the way, was a reflection of my own shifting priorities and interests, not some tired, stale WoW-veteran gripe about Blizzard somehow doing me wrong.  And I’ve absolutely loved MoP – in no small part, I think, because I’ve spent the entirety of it doing solely what I felt like doing, when I felt like doing it, having stepped away from the gear grind and raiding scene.  Not a criticism of those who enjoy that scene, mind you; it’s just not where I am anymore.

That said…well, this is something different.  This new raid isn’t just any other raid.  The Siege of Orgrimmar carries with it a personal connection unlike anything before, and unlike anything WoW will ever offer again.  And while I definitely don’t have any interest in committing myself to full-on progression raiding, I feel like this is a raid that I need to sample.  Not “need” in the sense of the joyless gear grind that many of us let ourselves be sucked into – “need” in the sense of “Oh, man, I’ve been living with this story for years now; I’ve got to experience the end first-hand.”

More importantly, I’d like to experience it with people who share some of that personal connection.  People who have been along for the long, crazy, oftentimes ridiculous ride, and have context for these events and these characters that your average WoW player doesn’t have.  People who think of Lor’themar as “Ponytail” even more than as “that blood elf guy”…who find it odd that Orgrimmar has no vendor selling lemon squares or goblin NPC named Spazzle…who understand why it’s a BIG EFFING DEAL that there’s a mini-boss named Mokvar the Treasurer lurking in the Valley of Strength bank.  (Yes, really.)

So, consider this an invitation.

At some point in the next week or two, I’d like to try to assemble a group of readers, fellow bloggers, and all-around friends of the Command Board to stroll into Orgrimmar together and see what there is to see.  In a perfect world, if there are enough people interested and we can cover the necessary roles, we could use the new Flex setting; worst-case scenario, we could group up, hop into LFR, and take over the whole operation Garrosh-style.  I definitely wouldn’t want to ask anyone to commit their normal-difficulty lockout – not least of all because I want this to be a purely for-kicks endeavor, not about progression or gear.  Just good fun in good company, and if we happen to stumble into a ridiculous wipe or two on trash, I hope it would be a source of amusement, not angst.

So, if you have a level 90 Horde character and think you’d like to join the party, give me a shout.  Feel free to e-mail me at garrosh1337@gmail.com, send a tweet to @GarroshHllscrm, leave a comment here on the blog, or contact me in-game (RealID Averry#1116).  Give me an idea of what days and times might be possible for you, and what role(s) you might be able to fill.  With any luck, I’ll be able to get something together sooner rather than later, and then, with even more luck, you might have a chance to be there when I come face-to-face with…well…myself.  And kill him.  Me.  Kind of.  Unless we don’t.  (AT LONG LAST, AVERRY’S NEUROTIC SELF-LOATHING FINDS ITS ULTIMATE EXPRESSION!)

Thanks for wading through all my babble here.  And thanks, as always, for reading and hanging in there with me.  I hope to hear from many of you soon.

 

Be seeing you,

Averry