HBA

#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: 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.

 

SL: It’s not you, it’s me…

Somewhere, god alone knows where or when, I once described my feelings towards SL as a relationship in its final stages where, instead of a clean break, there was a repeating pattern of arguments, splits & reconciliations in which both parties knew the relationship was doomed but didn’t know what to do about it but both damn sure that when the next big argument came along they’d be off. Well that time has come.. except the final argument never happened, rather there was an entirely surprising turn of events that led to the relationship falling apart.

Like a good soap opera storyline, the end for me and SL didn’t come in one of my regular explosions of bad temper and swearing (often caused by lag or crashes or chat channels not working, or photos not going to flickr). No, the end snuck up on me suddenly. It was the equivalent of meeting someone new at work and going home and blurting out to your missus that you were leaving right there and then.

The new woman was LOTRO but she was not the reason I left SL. To be honest, if not her it would have been someone else. I’m sure SL felt the same way about me.

The sad truth is I had not been happy in SL since the end of TSMGO. I looked everywhere for a creative community and found only cliques and barriers. The few chinks of light I did find were too elusive to follow for long and when you throw in someone who really didn’t want you in his house, well lets just say I’m not surprised my eye went a-wandering. After all, how long do you keep head-butting a brick wall before your much admired perseverance becomes your much mocked stupidity?

So I spent a night with my new woman and fell in love. Sure she’s not as flexible as the old one and she doesn’t know my ways yet (or I hers) but in truth there are many similarities… it’s just that this new one is better in bed. Much.

Sorry SL. I didn’t mean this to happen. It’s not you… it’s me.

Dr Beck needs tea!

The morning after a heavy night in the smoke…

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LOTRO: Weekly Update (13-06-11)

A busy week at home (as opposed to work for once) saw my online time reduced – oddly not in terms of being online often, but rather online for extended periods. Consequently I hardly got to do anything of any real worth until this weekend. Still, what time I was in-world was great fun – here’s a run-down:

Ranhold (Level 29 Man Champion Historian)
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  • Finally completed the pie-delivery quest in The Shire. Yay. This one came after I’d completed the the quick post quest last week which also sees you running all over the place unable to use a horse and always watching for quest-ending nosey or hungry hobbits. Take my advice, use the special pie you are given to avoid hungry hobbits and buy a mail sack from the Mathom House to get past nosey hobbits – I didn’t realise about these until *after* each quest was finished and they really would have helped. Still, despite the grind of endlessly trudging through the very beautiful Shire, these quests did allow my five year old lad to play with me (the missus tells me off if I let him help kill goblins) and now “You hungry hobbit!” is a common insult at the Antfarm dinner table 😀
  • Had a good stab at clearing up as many of the last Shire Quests as possible – I really want to move on, but not until I’ve milked this brilliantly designed place dry! I now think there might be another sub-quest involving all the pubs in The Shire and am planning to do them all and drink all their beer (which makes your vision go wonderfully squiffy).
  • The one night I managed to get a prolonged spell in-world I went to a large Barrow in the Downs to clear up a couple of monster slaying quests. Christ what a slog that was! Luckily a kinmate, Enthallion, came to help me and being a high-level hunter he saved my arse many many times over. We were in that place longer than we expected (I had over 250 to kill!) but now it’s done I only have one more Barrow quest out standing – 300 spiders… if only I can work up the energy… *sob*
  • This weekend I decided to (finally) take Ran up through his farming skill and in a series of marathon grow-reap-sell sessions got him from zero to nearly the top of Expert. I thought this would be dull but honestly, I’ve LOVED it! You can sell what you grow through the auction house because cooks need it to make their foods, but you can also grow pipe-weed (which is tobacco to you and me) and everyone in Middle Earth loves pipe-weed! There are lots of different breeds of pipe-weed and while only one is really useful for magic, the rest are great fun! When you buy a puck & click on it your character starts to smoke a pipe and, depending on the type of weed you’re smoking, blows a lovely smoke ring effect or even more complex shapes such as this beauty 😀

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Gorfrik (Level 12 Dwarf Hunter Armourer)

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Poor Gorfik didn’t really get a look in this week. The little I did get to do with him involved:

  • Exploring the lands around the Dwarven outpost of Gondamon, he managed to level up with a mixture of the extra blue XP boost from Turbine and the +25% XP boost item I got for pre-ordering the Isengard pack. It’s funny switching from Ran in the Shire to Gorfrik in Erid Luin as Ran is way above level there and nothing is really a problem whereas I have to really think things through with Gor lest he ends up as a bear’s dinner.

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Other Stuff…
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Two big events and one long thought this week:

  • I bought the Isengard pre-order. It made really good sense to me as it unlocked all the previous quest packs so my newly upgraded VIP world will now be wholly playable. There’s no chance I’l be ready for Isengard when it downloads in September though 😀 As a side note, I spent the 1000TP on a shared character storage spot which is proving very useful! Also Ran is not using the horses as his horse is just as good so he’s sticking with that, but Gorfrik is because they are faster than his starter pony. I’m not using the title because I feel it is important to earn titles not buy them. I am using the XP boost because I want to level up as fast as I can. Ran is wearing the red armour set where as Gorfrik won’t be wearing any. Phew, I think that’s about it on Isengard ;-D
  • I’ve also been thinking a lot about Ranhold’s Journal and his story style & arc(s). I’ve been reading a lot of other folks blogs over at my.lotro (such as this great one from Charazan) and wondering where I can go that feels fresh. I want to cover the actual key story, but I spend the vast majority of my time in off-main quests and want to reflect those as well. Also I like the humorous tone to both Ran’s & Gorfrik’s and want to keep that but, and for old readers of this blog this will come as no surprise, I want to introduce a darker element… something to reflect the constant state of danger these guys face. I’ll see how it goes but I welcome your thoughts 🙂
  • Finally, using the profits from Ranhold’s farming splurge I bought my first house! It’s just a basic, starter house with one chest but both my characters (and any more I create) can use it. Another bonus is that my lad likes to jump off the cliff into the waterfall just to hear my legs break at the bottom 😀

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Good Lord! Someone’s stolen my house!

Well now! I know I’ve been out-of-world for as while, but this is just rude!

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Shanghai Rezzing_001

Kowloon goes Tiny!

This is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in ages!

So git yer tiny on and head on over the amazing city of Kowloon with the other cool tinies 🙂

Gone Fishin’

LOTRO isn’t the only place I go fishing in cyberspace, although for a true 3D angler you’ll need to meet Holo 🙂

I may live down in the slums with the poorest residents of Shamian Alley, but don’t let that fool you that we are too poor for good food. From small pots of earth growing all manner of vegetables on every rotting window sill and ricketty balcony to the bounty of the sea that surrounds us, we eat as well, as if not better, than some in the city’s capital.
Beck fishes for supper at 14 Shamain Alley_001

Gang Wars: End Game – Part 3

The old man pushed Meili roughly out of the way and turned his sightless face to the window and stared out into the stormy night. It was true, he could ‘see’ the three groups of Tong soldiers were being routed, their lamps scattering like fireflies caught in a sudden gust. Over the wind he could ‘hear’ the cries of harrying forces, the sharp angular voices of the green skins. His keen mind raced, desperately trying to plan and plot his next move but every path and branch he explored was a dead end. Across the water, atop the hotel in the rooms where the object of his bitter hatred lived, he knew she was watching. Watching and smiling, enjoying his defeat, enjoying the end of his Tong. He span around to the girl and felt the elation welling up inside her and it ignited his fury as though a match to oil.

He grabbed her by the throat and lifted her clear of the ground “I may not have the pleasure of killing your bitch mistress tonight,” his voice was wild and full of murder, “but I swear I’ll make you sorry she thwarted me!” He turned to the men in the room and growled “Fan, get over her and tie her down until I’m ready for her,” Fan grabbed the terrified girl’s arms and began lashing the woman to the chair with his own dirty silk belt, as he did so he glanced up at the boss, was it is his imagination or was he taller than before, less decrepit looking, less… less human? He threw prayer to his ancestors that he’d get out of this alive.

“You two,” the boss thundered to his general, “get out there and stop this! I want that bitch’s head here tonight, do I make myself clear?HERE! ” Both men nodded and leapt to their feet, Fan’s own trepidation rising as he noticed the traces of alarm in both the general’s faces as they headed out of the door.

“Now you,” the boss glared down at Meili “you are going to wish your ancestors had drowned your filthy, stinking line at birth!” Her face was a mask of terror whilst behind her Fan was nervously glancing towards the door. “When I’ve finished with you, the fates of your family will seem like a blessing you’ll beg me for!” Fan tried to catch the boss’ attention “You’ll curse your own parents,” Fan reached out a shaking hand towards the boss, “You’ll plead with me… WHAT?” shrieked the old man, no longer able to ignore him. Fan nodded slightly towards the door and all three turned to face it and the increasingly loud and thoroughly unmistakable sounds of a fight taking place outside.

Meili, Fan and the boss all had very different ideas about what the nearing struggle meant. Fan, fearing the authorities, vigilantes or Dragon Tong were about to storm the room, bolted for the window and with a desperate leap smashed his way through. On the other side he hit the icy wharf hard and skittered along the slippery stone and off the edge, plunging into the freezing waters below with a stifled cry.

Meili, hoping the authorities, vigilantes or Dragon Tong were about to storm the room, began to scream for help, her lungs bellowing out for all to hear, her voice carrying far over the wharf and through the storm and up to the highest reaches of her Lady’s hotel.

The boss, convinced the authorities, vigilantes or Dragon Tong were about to storm the room, turned to face the door. He reared up, his skin and bones stretching as he grew taller and broader. Let the Jager come, he thought, let the foxes and the nuns and the dragons come and I will slay them all.

There was a strangled cry from the corridor outside and all fell silent. Even Meili stopped her shouts for help and stared at the door. Suddenly it swung in and the diminutive figure of The Voice fell shot through it, his hands clasped across his throat. The door hit the wall and bounced back to close itself. The small man staggered backwards towards the boss and Meili, emitting a strange wet gasping sound all the way. “Voice?” enquired the boss, his voice, now more animal than human, thick with confusion. The small man turned on his heel and Meili cried out as she saw why he gasped and gurgled. His hands were clasped across the ruin of his throat, fingers clawing desperately at ripped skin and flesh, digging into bleeding, oozing void. His entire throat, including the weapon of his deadly voice box, had been torn out down to his spine. The Voice’s eyes were wide with a mixture of fear, shock and desperation as he stared at the boss and his legs began to buckle under him. He fell to his knees, great gouts of blood pumping from his terrible wound and pooling about him. His lips were still trying to form words as he folded to the floor and, with one last great sigh wetly rasped from his torn throat, and he died where he lay.

The boss looked at the small body in front of him, stunned that anyone could have best The Voice like this. And what of Han Hong, the giant with hands like steel bear traps? Whoever did this to The Voice, the Korean would snap him in two!

From outside there was a sudden, terrible scream that ended with a sickening crack. The boss smiled and shouted “Han, bring me what is left of him! I want to make his final journey an eternal nightma…”

The door swung open again and the old man’s jubilant voice died in his throat as the ruined form of Han Hang, his body bent backwards at the waist until the back of his head touched the floor by his own feet and broken ribs and spine jutted from his burst abdomen, was pushed into the room by a slight Chinese man with long black hair and a face half covered by a glowing red dragon tattoo.

Meili, still tied to a chair, gasped at his apperance.. He was caked in blood, it splattered his whole body and dripped like rain from his bare hands. He looked as though he’d walked through an abattoir!

He shot her a wolfish smile and said, “Hello again pretty one. The Doc sent me.”

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To be continued…
All the “Gang War” posts can be read on my blog here and over on the Steelhead Ning here.

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Gang Wars: End Game – Part 2

“Well my dear, when they said you were beautiful I had no idea just how beautiful,” Meili watched the corrupt old man leer at her with sightless eyes from across the room and her skin crawled. Behind her the only door out of the room was blocked by the man who had grabbed her as she went to see Rynhold. Between her and the old man stood a large table with several chairs around two of which were occupied, one by a small evil looking man and the another by a tall, stoney faced giant.

“My my, such fear. I can smell it from here, my dear but please, you have nothing to fear here,” the old man said his croaking voice dripping with false charm. The small man snorted a cruel laugh and shot a look across the table to his tall companion. She had heard of The Voice and Han Hong, who in the slums hadn’t. These men, these… monsters were responsible for nearly all the misery and squalor in her life, all the lost friends and family, all the fear and despair, all could be traced back in lines of tears and blood to the hands of these animals. They were evil spirits, ever hungry, ever greedy, remorselessly swallowing up everyone and everything and their desire to own and control and kill and hurt was without limit. She thought of the people she had grown up with, the good, decent families who had worked and lived and died in this rancid part of a hateful town in a country that barley tolerated their Chinese feet upon its soil, and she saw they were trapped with these devils forever. Just by being born, an act she had no say in or control over, her life had been forfeit, gifted to the Tong, wrapped up and presented to this disgusting old man and there was nothing she or anyone could do. With sudden clarity she marvelled at the sheer godless nature of her life, of all life. She hardly mattered to the people in this room, beyond a desire for the sort of pleasure a cat would extract from toying with a wounded mouse, so it hardly seemed likely she would rank highly in a Divine Being’s thoughts and actions. She was a speck of nothing in an eternity of nothing and she would die here, tonight, and her whole life would have amounted to nothing. Yet… yet she accepted that. She opened her heart and let it in. She meant nothing, so what.

But not Li Fe, not little Li Fe her beautiful nephew. His life meant something.It meant something to her and it had been stolen from her. He had been taken and murdered alone and in the dark by a monster. And for what reason? For nothing? That was something she couldn’t accept, something she wouldn’t accept. She turned to look at the man who had kidnapped her and then back round at the two generals sat at the table. Their faces were hard and their eyes cruel and she hated them with every drop of her soul. She looked up and glared into the blind eyes of the wizened old man who ran the Tong “Yes,” she said in but strong voice, “I am scared of you, but I also pity you.”

The nasty smile on Voice’s face fell like a collapsing building “Pity?” he hissed, “Pity? You stupid… “ The boss silenced him raised hand, “Your pity is as misplaced as your courage my dear. There is only one you should feel any pity for tonight. Come here and I will show you who. Come.”

Meili looked him unable to move, silently suspecting he would kill her here and now “No, I do not mean you, silly girl,” he laughed “Come here and will show you the only soul in Shanghai in need of your pity.” He smiled a thin, empty smile and moved to the window that overlooked the wharves outside. Slowly, glancing at the men sat at the table, she moved towards the old man. He held out his hands and took her by the wrists, his grip firm and as cold as ice as he pulled her to the window. “Here,” his voice dripped with vile false charm ”look across the water and tell me what you see.”

For a second or two she was unsure of what she was supposed to be looking for, the night was dark and the snow storm obscured all but the far lights of the round houses and hotel. The hotel! She span round to look at the old man, her eyes wide with fear and he took hold of her chin and forced her face back to the window, “Keep looking my dear, I wouldn’t want you to miss the fate of the more worthy recipient of your pity. Look closely, can you see my men?” Indeed she could see small groups of bobbing lights, lanterns carried in the darkness by Tong and they were slowly converging upon the hotel. She had to get free, she had to warn her Lady, she had to…

“You can do nothing my dear,” the boss purred, “Nothing but watch as the I finally rid myself of your precious Lady.” He turned her face back to his, “Once she has been dealt with, we will be free to discuss your feelings toward me further. And if you should find you still harbour even the smallest hint of pity then I’m sure The Voice would help with a quiet word in your ear after which I can assure you that you will feel whatever I want you to feel for as long as I want you to feel it.”

Her blood ran cold, she had imagined they were going to kill her but now the full horror of her fate revealed itself to her. She was to become the willing plaything of this corrupt old monster! “Nothing to say now, my dear?” the boss let go of her face and whispered in her ear, “No brave insults? No clever observations?”

She turned to look out at the bobbing lights in the darkness of the storm, each one a stone tied to her ankles dragging her down to the bottom of an ocean whose depths she dare not contemplate. And suddenly the ropes were cut “No,” she said quietly, “Nothing… nothing except…”

His eyes burned into her, “Except?” his voice was diamond hard.

“Why are your men running away from the hotel?” she smiled.

To be continued…
All the “Gang War” posts can be read on my blog here and over on the Steelhead Ning here.

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