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—-
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]”