I once had a friend named Adelpha.

November 5, 2009 § 8 Comments

Warning, the following post is less of a blog post and more of a journal entry. I don’t really have a specific point in mind. I just started writing and out this came. I’m not really sure what to do with this entry. I hesitate to post it only because it’s fairly personal and I think at least, gives quite a bit of specific and personal insight into the guy behind the avatar that is Thistlefizz. It makes me feel rather vulnerable because it reveals quite a bit about my psyche. I guess it’s a ‘handle-with-care’ post. But you know what? I’m going to be brave and post it. I’ve been pretty closed of personally and emotionally for a while lately. It would be good for me to open up.

Also, I want to preface this with the fact that I wrote this after being up all night with a headache. I didn’t actually read it. I want it to stand as is. I was afraid that if I looked it over, even to fact check, spell check, or grammar check, that I would chicken out and not post it. So you’ll have to forgive me if this post is a little sloppier than others.

Finally, it’s kind of a heavy post. Not like the two others I posted today. So if you’re just hanging out at work looking for a simple distraction, this may be a little too heavy for that. Like trying to eat steak and potatoes for breakfast. Maybe that’s what you’re in the mood for. But don’t be surprised if you get a tummy ache.

Ok enough prefaces, here’s the post:

So with that, I’d like to tell you the story of my very first world of warcraft friend. What I mean is, the first person I met in the game not via my roommate or the guild I had joined immediately after creating my first character. Their name was Adelpha, a draenei priest.

Around level 30 or so I was doing a few quests in the Wetlands, near the guy in the center of the zone that looks like a bog-lord dude. I forget his name, and don’t feel like looking it up right now. Anyhow, I had just turned in a quest and was heading back to Menethil Harbor when I noticed this lone draenei fighting off a pack of gnolls. There were a lot of them and she was about to die. Well, being the noble warrior I was, I couldn’t just leave a lady in peril, so I rushed in to help. I fought them back and we managed to make our escape to the road.

When we got to the road we had a conversation that went something like this:

Adelpha: Thank you, kind warrior.

Me: The road is a dangerous place for a noble lady such as yourself.

Adelpha: True, but I was dispatched on an urgent errand from Loch Modan. I was headed to Menethil when I was beset about by those unseemly beasts.

Me: Menethil, eh? Well please allow me the honor of escorting you to town m’lady. I would hate to send you off on your own and have your safety weighing heavily on my conscience. Were something to happen to you, I would not forgive myself.

Adelpha: You are too kind. Lead the way noble warrior!

Now, mind you, aside from a few acting classes in junior high drama, I had never really role-played; certainly not in this context. Up until this point, the game was just a game. It wasn’t some fantasy escape where I could really embody the role of a gnome warrior. And when I charged in to help this poor priest out, I had no intention of slipping into the role of the noble protector. I was just trying to be nice. Maybe it was the fact that is was 3 in the morning. Maybe it was the fact that I had just finished watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Maybe it was the way she said thanks. Whatever it was, we just naturally slipped into this back and forth. We’d never met before. We hadn’t said that we were going to do any ‘rp-ing’. It just happened.

Well, I escorted her to town and thanked her for letting me try out wow-rp a little and logged off.

A few days later I saw her in Booty Bay. She did the emote /greet which shows up as ‘[name] greets you warmly.’ Well I was a little taken aback, mostly that she remembered me. I thought back to the night we met in the Wetlands and how much fun we had so I decided to keep playing along. I /bowed to her and said something like, “Greetings on this fine day m’lady! ‘Tis an honor indeed to be graced with your presence once more!” She /blushed and said something like, “You flatter me kind warrior. The honor is mine.” After a bit of back and forth I asked, “Are you in need of an escort through the jungles of Stranglethorn Vale this afternoon m’lady?” She replied, “I would be honored to have your company.”

And so we quested together through all the Stranglethorn Vale quests. We would slip in and out of the rp as we would ask each other questions about where the other was from and what they did for a living. Sometimes it would be, “oh I’m from New York.” Other times it would be, “I’m from a far away place–it was once called Draenor.” It was really fun. It was that feeling where you first meet someone and you just know you are going to be friends. And don’t get all weird on me dear reader. It wasn’t any romantic type thing. First of all, that’s just weird. Fine, some people meet on this game. I accept that. But I still think it’s super weird. And secondly, I had my suspicions that Adelpha was probably a dude anyway, so that would make it even weirder. Sure, Thistlefizz the character can call Adelpha the character m’lady, but Thistlefizz the person behind the keyboard would feel really weird about calling Adelpha, the person behind the keyboard m’lady. This turned into a very awkward paragraph. I would like to get out of it now, but I don’t know how. I think I’m just going to move on.

—-long awkward silence—-

*cricket cricket*


We quested a lot together. From 30 all the way basically to 70. Along the way we met a few others that joined our merry band of adventurers. First there was Ihealbobos, one of Adelpha’s guildmates. Then there was Ozarks (Oz) and Wallrustusks (Wally). And finally there was Trinandra (Trin). Sometimes we would all group together. Other times it would be just two or three of us. When it was just me and Adelpha we would continue our harmless roleplay where I played the strong warrior protector and she played the noble priestess. But when we were grouped with others we would drop most of it (although usually I would still call her m’lady, and she would still call me noble warrior). I really enjoyed the time I spent with these people. When I think back on leveling up Thistlefizz it is a happy memory, I think because I was never alone. I was always grouped up with one or more of them.

As we got into our 60s we started doing instances, or at least Adelpha and I did. This was about the time that I really started getting into tanking. It was awesome having her as my healer. Because we had spent so much time questing together, we knew how the other one would respond to a given situation. We completely trusted each other, and I think made the perfect healer/tank combo. And by the way, I gotta say leveling with a tank/healer combo is the way to go. Granted I was specced Arms and she was specced Shadow, but those were essentially the roles we took.

Shortly after we hit 70 (we dinged within minutes of each other), my work schedule took me away from the game. I was no longer able to long in every day, or even every other day. I couldn’t commit long stretches of time. As a result she ended up far surpassing me in terms of runs/raids/gear/experience/etc. By the time the summer was over and my intense work schedule had lightened, she had already run all the Outland instances on normal and heroic, had her attunements, conquered Gruul’s Lair & Serpentshrine Caverns, and was working her way through Karazhan & Mount Hyjal. I hadn’t even done anything past Hellfire.

We grew apart. Oh sure, we would whisper each other and chat about what was going on in our real lives, and about how our gaming experience was going. We still kept up the pretense of ‘m’lady’ and ‘noble warrior’. But we weren’t questing or running instances together anymore. It made me sad. I really felt close to this person. And yeah, it’s just through some silly MMORPG, but the friendship was real, the connection was real. Eventually she stopped playing the game altogether. She had warned me that she was loosing her interest, and that it was a pattern for her with these types of games. She said she usually got a year or so out of these games and then it was on to the next thing. As I recall, before Warcraft it had been the Sims. I don’t know what (if anything) she moved onto after WoW. She had indicated that she might come back when Wrath of the Lich King was released, but sadly she never did.

She’s still on my friends list. Even though it’s been over a year since she’s been online, she’s still there, right at the top. In a way it’s comforting–after all, if she’s still on my friends list it means she hasn’t deleted her character. If she had, her name would have been automatically removed. So there is always that slim chance that one day she will log back in and I will have my friend back. On the other hand, it makes me sad when I see her name there. I remember all the good times we had, and I think about how things are now and it’s not as fun. These days most of the people I used to play with have either moved on to other alts I don’t know the names of, have transferred to other servers, or have just stopped playing altogether.

Adelpha doesn’t play anymore. Oz deleted his character. Sometimes I see Wally on one of his alts. It’s rare though. And I don’t know what happened to Trin. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen her on. And that list doesn’t include all the former members of Higher Education who have also either stopped playing, changed servers, or play alts I don’t know the names of.

World of Warcraft has actually become a very lonely endeavor. There was a time when there was always someone on, someone to talk to, someone to quest with; day or night someone was there. Now, it really seems like I’m on my own. And it’s just lonely. That’s one of the things that really struck me as I worked on my Loremaster of Kalimdor and then Loremaster of Northrend via Icecrown the Final Goal achievements. I would spend vast swaths of time alone, galloping across empty stretches of land, inhabited only by NPCs and wildlife. Azeroth has become a very empty and lonely space. Maybe it’s just Kalimdor. Or maybe it’s just my perception of things based on my distinct lack of friends playing the game right now. But I would do /who “z 1-80” queries sometimes in the various zones I was in just to see who else was around. And more often than not, it was just me. Sure, you can expect that in places like Desolace or Silithus. But I experienced it in every single zone except Tanaris. Tanaris was the only zone that I could do a /who query and consistently find someone, anyone else.

It’s actually really heartbreaking. What once was a very social game has become a lonely grind. It feels like I’m always in Silithus. I don’t know if that really makes sense unless you’ve quested there recently. What I mean by that is, no matter where I am or what I’m doing I feel very cut off and isolated from everyone else in the game. While everyone else is off somewhere else focused on bigger and better things, I’m trapped in old content, doomed to be cut off and alone. That’s just what it feels like anyway.

And the funny thing is, on Zulaijang, my shaman, I’m actually in a very social guild where I’m starting to make some good friends. But I’m not connected to them in the same way. Partly because I haven’t really bonded one-on-one with any of them–it’s all group events. So while I feel connected to the group as a whole, I don’t feel particularly attached to any one individual. Also, I’m not nearly as attached to Zulaijang as I am to Thistlefizz. I mean, this blog isn’t called ‘the cranky old troll’. And I guess that’s why I’m still sad about it. About not having as many friends in game I mean. Sure, my shaman is in a great guild with lots of nice people and does have quite a bit of fun with them on raid nights. But Fizz is where my heart is. And the fact that my in-game experience with his has become one long lonely stretch of soloing is really depressing.

Well there you go. I’m sorry that there isn’t a real resolution to this post; no ‘happy ending’ if you will. I’m still in the midst of this whole process. And it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense that if I’m so lonely, why did I leave my guild? Well, aside from what I mentioned before, no-one is really on anymore. And logging in to an empty guild was even sadder. I’m hoping that something can be done to change it. I’m hoping I will be able to find a new group of in-game friends. Because I really enjoy this game. But I’ve come to realize part of why I like it so much is the people in it. The real people, not the NPCs. Having spent a lot of time solo lately, I can honestly say I’d much rather be in a group, even with a bunch of idiots, than being all alone all the time. Hopefully I’ll be able to find a new guild soon, and hopefully it will be full of nice, social people that are on at all hours of the day and night.

And I think I’d better end this post before I ramble on even further.

“[Insert clever sign off phrase here]”


§ 8 Responses to I once had a friend named Adelpha.

  • I used to think that being an independent gnome was the way to go – guilds could just contract me if they or I needed me to be in a group, easy enough. I thought I’d never join one, until a friend of mine convinced me after 4 months that his was great and I should at least try it.
    So try it I did, and love it I did. I have since made 2 friends I’d call close-ish (definitely people I want to know for a long time) and at least ten others I always hope to see on when I press “O”; a bunch of these have played in this guild for years and while I would have thought that a newbie doesn’t mean much to an established group, I was welcomed with friendship. They’d whisper me about something random and we’d end up chatting for the whole evening. I even had the good fortune of meeting some at blizzcon 09.
    The officers are all fair, intelligent and cool people – I met most of them, and the guild is known for being stable and fun, while making constant headway on latest raids/other PvE content. I didn’t used to get “online friends,” but they made a believer out of me and I’m very fortunate to have such generous, helpful, talented, funny people surrounding me, making my gaming experience worth something real to me. It’s the kind of closeness that when we travel in the country, it’s not uncommon to meet up with and crash with guildies as we pass them or even vacation together.
    The point I’m trying to make is not that guilds are good, but that after reading your post (and following your blog for a little while) it seems like my guild, The Inward Eye, would be a good home for you. This is not an impersonal guild pitch, don’t get me wrong, we’re certainly not short on people. Your post made me feel that your current predicament just isn’t right, especially when there are nearby places people love making friends – you definitely have similar philosophies to the people I’ve connected with (I’ve put the guild forum website above if you want to “sample” the feel, haha) and I bet you’d love the camaraderie and would make a lot of friends with Thistlefizz. You deserve to be having a laugh while you quest. Anyway, consider it an open invitation, it’s PvP Alliance on the Gul’Dan server (so yeah, you’d have to switch that character), The Inward Eye. I’d love to have you! Feel free to email or (if you want to make an alt just to check it out) whisper me if you have any questions.

    ^_^ Hiccupp

    • thistlefizz says:

      I…I’m genuinely touched by your offer. Truth be told I teared up a little. I never thought anyone would bother reading this post, or comment on it, let alone do something so kind as you have done. I must admit I am intrigued, but also hesitant to take you up on your offer, if only for the fact that I’m very much rooted in this server. Every one of my alts work towards the great FizzCo empire. And there are a few friends left there. But maybe one day a whisper will pop up on your screen, and we’ll talk more about it.

      Honestly, thank you for your offer. It’s certainly something to consider.

  • Len says:

    Your post made me kind of sad, I can’t imagine being as into WoW as I am without the social factor – it’s the part that’s pretty much made it for me. I fall in and out of love with my numerous characters, get pissed off when things are tough, have nerd rage moments, but it’s the people that keep me coming back and get me through the rubbish. As Hiccupp said, while online friendships seem weird to those who don’t have them, they are real; there are a core group of people I’ve met through WoW who I can’t imagine not having in my life.

    I’m glad I read your more recent posts before this one, get out there and do that tanking thing that you love, search for like minded people – loneliness is not the way to go for an MMO 🙂 Guilds are there for a reason! Have heart noble warrior!

    • thistlefizz says:

      Yeah being lonely in a game that is an inherently social experience is strange and sometimes very frustrating. It really is the people that make this game special–separate from playing some other rpg, it’s the people that got me hooked so thoroughly. I forged real, strong connections. I guess that’s why I’ve been so sad about things lately.
      My noble warrior heart wanes in the loneliness it seems.

  • Larisa says:

    I’m not alone in being lonely. You have no idea what a comfort it is. I’ve got an awesome guild and I love our raiding nights, but during offnights I’m mostly pugging. Way back I’ve had some friends in game in periods. Never anyone as close as you’ve had, but still. But not right now. There’s noone whispering “hi” when I come online, no one asking me to come to some instance or zone to have some fun. I’m on my own. And being alone in a multiplayer game is quite a pain. You described it so well in this post. I’m glad you had the guts to share it.
    I’ve been pondering upon if I should write something about being alone myself, but I haven’t quite figured out how to put it.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • thistlefizz says:

      It’s comforting for me to know I’m not alone in being lonely. I guess I figured I was alone in this. I’m working on a followup post about this very topic (not being alone in being lonely). I hope you are able to find a way to articulate what you want to say about being lonely yourself. I’d be interested to hear someone elses’ perspective on it.

  • Tapelia says:

    A really touching post! I’ve been playing WoW since the start of the year and have struggled to connect with anyone or any guild, and I feel more and more that it’s something important I’m missing out on. I’ve joined my first guild recently but it seems to be going through a bit of a rough patch, and no-one has much time for the not-quite-yet-80-newbie beyond saying ‘hello’.

    So… my long winded (and vaguely pathetic) story short… I just wanted to say that even though your story in the above post doesn’t have a happy ending it made me feel more positive about WoW – if a happy group can happen once it can happen again 🙂

  • Amie says:

    Your post was such a personal journey, thank you so much for sharing it. I chuckled during a bit of it mostly because that is how a friend and I met. I’ve been playing this game since release and have recently changed servers and thought I’d try out the Horde towns since I’ve done everything Alliance already. I was 20 something priest and came upon a 20 something warrior having a heck of a time plucking this one mob from a field in Hillsbrad. I tossed him a bubble and a renew and went on my way killing farmers. After a few minutes, he caught up with me and we chatted a bit. We are now good friends in game, we both hit level 60 within minutes of each other and are now making our way through Outlands. I’ve since joined his guild and am playing with a lot of his friends, making my lonely journey of rolling on a different server as a different faction one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

    We don’t get a lot of time to play together, just 2 nights a week but we manage to keep up with each other in levels and keep in touch through in game mail. Thank you for your post which has reminded me to appreciate the friendship we have forged and to enjoy it while it’s there. The game does end for some people and continue for others.

    I hope you find a guild that suits your needs, and I hope that your friend Adelpha logs in sometime soon and you both can catch up. Friendship, virtual or RL, is valuable.

    Take care 🙂

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