2013: Not a bad year for a blog run by a part-time Burro…

I wanted to blog a lot of the looooong xmas break I took, but I just enjoyed the break instead (it’s a repeating pattern for me, if I’m honest) and therefore I’ve only just come across this report from WordPress about my blog. Click on the picture below to read it and go OOOOO & AHHHH at the nice fireworks 😀


A Curious Dream in Kahruvel

I dreamt of the shaman last night, not something I have done in over two years.
Backpacking Burro - Kahruvel

In the dream I awoke on the floor of the old wooden lookout clinging to the side of the hills over the sea of Mohr and found the shaman sat staring at me, just as he had done so long ago. As always with dreams the details are hazy and hard to recall exactly, but I must have asked him what he wanted because he pointed out to sea and said “Look at the clouds.” Over the waters rain-heavy clouds hung like wet washing on a line. “Look at the clouds,” he said again, “the pressure is building.” I must have asked what pressure but he merely repeated himself before standing and pointing at the sun which suddenly began rising over the far off storm. “The light is rising,” he said, “The light is rising.”

And that was it. I awoke from my dream and found my fur sodden with sweat and my heart racing. I’m sure it is nothing, I mean the shaman, the Eldars and even the damn elemental in my old backpack have been silent for so long now I’d truly begun to believe the past was done with me. Maybe it is. Still, I think I’ll pay a visit to the old forest tonight and see how it is faring.

On not playing a woman…

Ahhh, another one of those posts I’ve been thinking about writing for ages but never getting around to only then to decide to start at the exact same time as everyone else on the interwebz 🙂 This time it was the excellent rambling joyful mess of Too Long Didn’t Listen* who discussed the issue of playing across genders that fired me up and finally made me put finger to keyboard.

I’ve said before how I never play women in games, unless that is the default option such as in Portal or Mirror’s Edge and how this isn’t because I dislike playing women, more that I feel more comfortable playing a man. Well the upcoming release of Guild Wars 2 and my desire to play a Sylvari is making me have second thoughts and this has caused me to look at why I don’t normally play lasses and why a leafy elf should make me consider doing so.

So why don’t I play a lass? Is it a loss of my natural studliness? An inability to connect to being a lass? A fear of being hit on by horny basement dwellers intent of some one hand typing fun? Well all of those and none if my honest answer. Especially the latter which never happens & a quick “I’m a fella, fella…” would deal with.

Well, for starters I don’t feel ‘right’ in a woman character. Maybe I didn’t mind in Portal & ME because they were both shown from the first person perspective and so I never actually saw myself as a woman, but in an MMO where I see myself from behind I just don’t like seeing myself as a sexy lady warrior with a lovely bum. I find it very hard to separate the sexy from the sex, so to speak. Women in most games, as in most media, are depicted deliberately as gorgeous and I am a red blooded male which means I like to see at gorgeous lasses. But when I’m battling orcs, I don’t want a lovely wee bottom putting me off, yet I seem incapable of stopping my inner voice saying “phwoar, what a lovely arse you have there, eh?” to itself. Frankly I find it less distracting if I stick to a fella and let my subconscious go back to sleep where is can daydream in peace about Miranda Kerr in nowt but Jimmy Choos.

But what about your roleplay? your stories? long time readers might ask. Well, I can only say that here I fall down as a roleplayer, it is as simple as that. I wouldn’t go so far as to say *all* the characters I’ve created are Mary Sues, but some of them obviously are to a greater or lesser extent. Where I feel I broke away from this was with Dr Beck and his girlfriend, but the rest of the time I’m been Mary Sueing it**, and this includes my time in LOTRO. Maybe one day I would like to write a story from a female POV, but as I’ve hardly written a thing for a year let’s assume it’s not top of my list, eh?

So the bottom line (no pun intended) is that I play a male character I can not only identify with, but can also project some desired aspect of my internal fantasy life on to. Conversely I don’t play a woman because I’m not interested in roleplaying from a female point of view and I find myself daydreaming about what she’d look like in a bikini instead of concentrating on hitting orcs.

Well done me, I’m a vain caveman. Wonderful.

* They also link to an article on the brilliant Mary Sue blog.

** Which I don’t mind as I wrote them for my amusement.

Welcome to the future…

Twenty one years ago the Sisters of Mercy released their album “Vision Thing”. I was living in student digs in Cheetham Hill at the time avoiding the amourous attentions of a girl who kept far too many rats in her bathroom and had a brother serving time for an acid-in-face attack. Looking back, these were strange days but I digress. I knew the album was coming out because my mate Dazzle* was in the fan club and received postcards and the like and had told me weeks and weeks before. I took the afternoon off Uni and drove into Manchester with my other mate, Uncle Monkey, to buy the casette** from HMV. We drove back in my battered Sierra and listened to the Gothy goodness on the dodgy radio/tape player hoping to christ it didn’t decide to chew it up. It was a good day and it was a good album.

Scroll forward twenty one years. My alarm went off this morning and I rolled out of bed into the dark of 6am. As always my first thought was to pick up my phone and pull the charge cable out, an act that not only ensures I have my precious with me but also turns the screen on making my bleary eyed navigation to the door and down the stairs that much easier and safer. My blured, sleep encrusted eyes made out the small envelope icon meaning someone in the big old world had sent me an email whilst I had been sleeping the sleep of the just so I swipped with my thumb, unlocking a small computer more powerful than anything could have dreamed of in 1990 and stabbed at the Gmail icon. Boring… junk… notification… I deleted and archived as I took the steps down and suddenly found my thunb hoovering over an email from Kate Bush***. I pushed the email to open it as I crossed the dark living room to get to the kitchen and my goal of the kettle (cue angelic music here). Bugger me backards if there wasn’t a new album out. Today. An album out today. Kate bush had a new bloody album out tobloodyday! Whilst a part of my brain struggled with the enormity of this, another part went into auto-piolt and swiped my thumb across screens and icons until it had opened the 7Digital app, hit New Releases, found “50 Words for Snow” and bought the bugger with one push. I slipped the phone in my pocket as the download process began, filled the kettle, got a cup ready and grabbed a pan for some porridge. At this point I looked at my phone and the download had completed. In less than two minutes I had learnt of the album’s release, located it, bought it and downloaded it ready to listen right there and then.

It would appear I’m living in the motherfucking future, people. Now who the fuck do I see about my flying car?

* That isn’t his name, obviously. His folks were not hippies or from Hollywood or anything. We called him that, in the way of close male friends, as an insult to wind him up. Blokes do this kind of thing.

** I still had a turntable at this point but had stopped buying vinyl yet was still at least a year or so away from my first CD player.

*** Unfortunaelty not from Kate Bush but rather her music publicity people/machine/company. An email from the lady herself may well have made my balls explode on the spot with 25 years of pent up emotional longing and pure, raw, throbbing sexual desire. Which reminds me, I must watch the video for Babooshka again…

#SL: And then I was five…

Molly IMed me today to wish me a happy ready. Turns out the today marks five years since I joined the amazing world of Second Life.

Wonder if it counts if I’ve not been in for 6 months…

#SL: Salazar’s ArcheoExpo 2011

I’ve been so wrapped up in playing LOTRO that I had forgotten to upload & post my pictures from the ArcheoExpo Salazar arrange in Cowell this year. It was a really fun event that Sal and many other worked really hard to make so enjoyable and here are my photos from it (did I mention I got to see a Starax Wand in action? No? Well I did and it was bloody brilliant!)

#SL: My but how time flies…

Wow… tomorrow marks exactly a year since my story marathon Steal Head ended. A whole year. Now that has really gone by quickly. To think how much has changed since then – how much of a high I was on. A few more months writing Gang Wars and that would be it for my time in Steelhead and SL, pissed off by a couple of tossers so much that I decided to give another game a try, a little thing called LOTRO… I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I actually have a lot to thank Sheriff Numbnuts and the One-Armed Wanker for 😀

Do you know what… it’ll be my 5th anniversary in SL on the 19th too. Blimey.


#LOTRO: Early Thoughts on the Warden Class

I. Am. In. Love.

LOTRO: Trolling in the Trollshaws and other tales…

Another weekly update after another week of slow, fun developments 🙂

Ranhold – Man, Champion, Historian, Master Expert Weaponsmith & Master Scholar. Level 42

Ranhold continues his path along the Epic Storyline and has been scouring the Trollshaws for signs of the missing Black Rider left unaccounted for after Gandalf’s show of strength at the Ford of Bruinen. This has meant some pretty hair-raising exploring and some down-right dangerous troll-bashing! Luckily the Elves have thought of this and can aid single explorers with their magic which helps them survive such encounters*

Away from the main story he managed to wander hither and yon in the strikingly beautiful Trollshaws and complete a great many quests. All this activity progressed him to the dizzy heights of Level 42 although he has moved nary a jot in his crafting as he’s run out of supplies of the next level of ingredients. Still he did manage to get two new swords that were a little better than his last two and his questing netted him a new set of armour (not a complete set**) that looks amazing! This was also the week *I* discovered how to use cosmetics and dyes and the shared wardrobe properly and now, instead of all my guys wearing a mix of odds and ends, I have been finding or making complete sets of armour that looks brilliant! I’ve been dying them as well to colour theme my lads – Ranhold is blue (currently navy but I’m looking to make a lot of Evendim Blue once I have the ingredients) and looks fantastic in his Forest Walker’s set 😀 I’ll post some pics tonight.

* Essentially you get a magic stone that is connected to certain points of the quest and if you are alone you can use it for a short time to make you super-tough and therefore enable you to complete the Epic Storyline alone as opposed to in a group as the game was originally written. These ‘god mods’ don’t work elsewhere so they can’t really help you cheat the game, instead they are a means to an end – getting solo players further into the game so they both continue to enjoy & play it, but also are more likely to part with real money to play other areas of it. Turbine are no dummies when it comes to making money from their player base – look at me, forked out £40 for Call of Duty, found it too hard and with no way of making it easier I left and haven’t played since (nor am I likely to ever again) yet in LOTRO I can keep going and keep giving the more moolah. Smart business model 🙂

** Armour can be made, found, sold & bought in game but the designers have gone to a lot of trouble to make sets that go together and many folks like to ensure they have all pieces because together they not only look like a cohesive collection but they multiply and add extra bonuses the more items you wear together. The designs are stunning and when you craft them (either for yourself or for sale in the auction house) you will find there are often several options of each – man design, dwarf design and elf design. Crafters can make any of those and they can be worn by all races (dwarf design is not just for the Dwarves, etc.) so you can choose from a huge range of gorgeous designs and that coupled with the ability to dye individual pieces different colours AND combine them with cosmetic only clothing layers means you have a freaking huge set of looks to design and chose from – take a look at the LOTRO Stylist or the LOTRO Fashion blogs and see for yourself! I’m still a noob at this but it shows the depth of gameplay when you think I’ve been playing this game feverishly for months now and am only now getting around to what is a HUGE part of the game mechanics!

Gorfrik – Dwarf, Hunter, Armourer, Artisan Metalsmith & Artisan Tailor. Level 23

Gorfrik has been hard at the forges and workbenches of both Esteldin and Thorin’s hall this week as he has crafted himself, Nimlarn & Rolcko new sets of armour (medium, light & heavy respectively and all critted versions too!). This has pushed his crafting levels up a tier and made him the hero of the team. Go Gorfrik, go you little Dwarven bugger, you! Nimlarn’s colour of choice is Dark Green but will be changing to Rivendell Green once Ranhold becomes a supreme scholar and can make it.

Nimlarn – Elf, Minstrel, Woodsman & Journeyman Woodworker. Level 22

Nimlarn has had a quiet old week but does have some nifty new armour to test out when I get around to sending him out for much needed yew wood. He’s gone for gold but neither of us are feeling it yet so his colour theme has still to be decided.

Hocko – Hobbit, Burglar, Tinkerer & Master Jeweller. Level 20

Also having a quiet week and without even a scrap of new armour to show for it, Hocko has become the red-headed step-child of the week. His colour is grey but may well become black in the future.

Rolcko – Hobbit, Guardian, Yeoma, Supreme Farmer & Master Cook. Level 23

Rolcko has been proving his worth yet again by completing many skirmishes and earning marks so Gorfrik could have flax for stitching his armour together. This is the Circle of Crafting right here in action folks! Rolcko died his first ever death whist running the Tuckborough skirmish, but I predict many, many more as he fights on to give the rest of us valuable crafting supplies, the brave little sod *sniff*

Away from the boys I myself and I bought an extra character slot in the LOTRO Store weekly sales as I want to get an explorer going at some point (these guys can collect ore and wood, both areas I lack in as when Gorfrik is out ore collecting, Nimlarn can’t be collecting wood, etc.) but I have no immediate plans to create a new character just yet. Whilst spending TPs like they were going out of fashion I also bought the Warden & Rune-Keeper bundle so I now have access to all the character types as well as ten more wardrobe slots and an extra outfit slot to cope with my new found vanity. As long as Turbine keep showing me the Double TP Bonus Points deals, I’ll keep filling their wallets for them 🙂

I had a great run with my kinmate Amalthir who helped me with some very tough (and very angry, I worry about their blood pressure) Gauradan wolf-men in the Trollshaws – no idea if he reads this, but thanks mate 🙂

I didn’t get to meet up with my mate Tammi but she and Hocko have been exchanging letters about the silliness of the big folk and the tastiness of pies. Maybe this week we can get together and gang up on some orcs?

LOTRO: A Tale of Two (Undying!) Hobbits…

I have finally managed to gain the Undying title in LOTRO. I’ll come to why this is important later, but for those of you not familiar with the whole Undying thing let me quickly explain that it means I have managed to get a character to level 20 without them, oddly enough, dying. For good old Blood & Guts Burro who likes to charge in swinging his swords like twin wings of death and worry about the size & skill of his target later, this is no mean feat.

Ranhold died in my first week or two when a spider killed him where Chetwood meets the Midgewater Marshes (the marsh spiders are, for a low-level beginner and MMO noob such as myself at the time, a considerable step up from the few to be found in Chetwood itself). He also rode his horse off a cliff in a freaky auto-run/chatting with the Kin incident but the less said about that the better. Since then he’s been killed by almost every creature he’s come across at some point but he doesn’t hold grudges. Well, except for the bastard Brishzel whom he hates with all his heart. Anyway, the important thing is that there was no chance this guy was ever going to get any of the non-defeated titles, let alone Undying 🙂

Gorfrik was buggered from the moment I logged on and started him in Erid Luin. Apparantly Dwarves aren’t as tough as I imagined and can’t survive a deliberate jump down a cliff. A pity really as I don’t think Gorfrik has died all that much and may have stood a chance of getting to 10 or 14 without dying. Maybe.

Nimlarn died after walking off a waterfall in an event I prefer not to dwell on. Still, not long after that he was jumped and killed by two fekking wights so he would never have made Undying either, but it began to seem that all my characters would be doomed to die the death of a lemming.

Until, that is, I gots me some Hobbitses! First Hocko as a sneaky wee burglar and then his uncle Rolcko the tough as nails guardian. Both sailed through their early levels and teens and headed out to Far Chetwood earlier than I’d sent either of my two tough guys, Ranhold & Gorfrik! True poor Hocko was seconds away from being mauled to death by a Wolverine when I foolishly wandered off and forgot I’d hit the log-in button on him (I just made it back in time to a) run, b) take a potion and c) cut the little furry sod in two!) but he survived. Hocko finally dinged up in the eastern Breeland hills with no more close-shaves and his uncle, suffering no such forgetful log-in accidents, managed it with ease and no small amount of style in the Horsefields. Say what you like about hobbits (and everyone does) but they are tough little buggers.

Hocko gets the first Undying title!

Rolcko hits 20!

Why is the Undying title important? Well it isn’t – it’s just a title in a game & doesn’t prove anything. Am I a better player than someone without it? Obviously not so it’s clearly not important. Except… well you see it *is* important. Why, o Burro? Have you gone mad with your double-speak? Shhh little ones and let me explain. When I told my kin I’d managed to get my first undying some congratulated me, others said “Well that doesn’t matter, does it.” and such like. But in my *cough* humble *cough* opinion the nay-sayers are missing the central fact that LOTRO is a game based around rewards. Like toddlers faced with a good behaviour sticker chart (I know whereof I speak in this regard) we players are all just clicking buttons for the endorphin-releasing reward of a pointless, worthless sticker, or in this case a title or level number or new skill, etc. Getting the Undying title is important *precisely* because LOTRO is a game! Gettign the Undying title is FUN! And if a game is not fun, well it’s a pretty crappy game isn’t it. So the nay-sayers can nay-say the Undying title all they like because what they really mean to say is “Well that doesn’t matter to me because I enjoy the game in other ways.” leaving me to reply “That is fine, but it is important to me because I’ve got a sticker from the dentist telling me I’ve been a brave boy in my check up and it’s got a smiling toothbrush and a dog on it so big smelly parps to you!” I encourage you all it use this argument the next time so miserable bar steward urinates on your parade.