Taking Leadership

ffxiv 2015-07-04 15-26-05-51
I've been wondering lately if we play classes in MMOs that reflect our own personalities, or if our personalities (in game, at least) are shaped by the classes we play.

I consider myself pretty much a loner in real life, but I don't enjoy soloing in MMOs; I never have. What I really did like to do was to joke around with people while someone else provided a nice selection of fun activities. My only job here was to show up, really.

This took me through my first few years of EverQuest. I played a druid and then a rogue, and all I had to do was show up. I was super replaceable, too. My game life matched my real life, in that it turned out I was super replaceable at my current real life job, causing a sort of wandering around the state of California and eventually Connecticut while I struggled to fix my life.

I eventually started playing healer classes in EverQuest, then WoW, then EverQuest 2, because I liked feeling needed, but not necessarily essential. Healers keep the group going, but by themselves, typically struggle. As such, the role is typically eliminated in action RPGs and some MMOs (like Guild Wars 2) in order to make sure everyone gets their fill of jumping around like maniacs, and nobody has to sit in a corner and be quiet and heal.

Lately, I've tried to take more control over the direction of my life. Perhaps I'll stop being ashamed of existing at some point, get over my traumatic childhood, and just be a real person for a change. This has been mirrored recently in MMOs, as I've moved to enjoy the tanking role. I swapped roles in EQ2, moving from a bard to a berserker/tank. I liked it, and in Neverwinter, went full tank. Now in Final Fantasy XIV, I went tank and haven't looked back.

A group gets defined by its tank. Last night, Omuro was doing Stone Vigil with a poor tank and everyone suffered. I'm a noob, but I can learn, and when Kas and I did Stone Vigil on our own with two dps (both of whom were new to the dungeon), it was smooth. Because I paced the group, told everyone what to do, trusted Kasul to keep us all alive and the dps to do their jobs, and just… led.

Today in a RL meeting, the group was settling on a super vague mission statement, and even though I'm just a minion, I was able to take what I learned leading groups in a game, and proposed (and got adopted), a very specific mission statement against which we can actually plan. And now I will be part of a planning meeting to which I was not previously invited.

So… the question is… are MMOs making me a more effective leader, or am I taking personal growth outside the game, back into the game?

The Chronicles of Spellborn, Reborn?

The Chronicles of Spellborn lives… sorta…

I took some time to get the beta client for The Chronicles of Spellborn and connect it to the fan-run server this morning. All you can really do is just run around the main city, but dang, how I would love to see what Spellborn would have become if it had made it.

Developed at a time when many new MMOs were content with iterating on the EverQuest/World of Warcraft model, Spellborn was a picture storybook come to life. Player gear was non-visible; you could pick up new display pieces, but they rarely influenced your stats. The intense visual style was entirely appropriate for a game set in the shards of a destroyed world; everything looked alien to some degree.

The innovation extended to the combat, which, unusually for the time, let you make quite individual iterations on the familiar tank/mage/rogue template. The random nature of the combo-based combat meant each encounter was different, and someone who could arrange their skills correctly had a huge advantage in PvP.

We don't get many MMOs out of Europe here in the US. Ryzom, Dofus, Allods Online… whenever we do get one, we get a unique experience. But few were as completely new as The Chronicles of Spellborn.

You, too, can run around in TCoS! Download the beta client and the connection details. Links and information in the official forums at http://www.spellborn.org/.

This is why I tank.

You want some? YOU WANT SOME?
You want some? YOU WANT SOME?
Kasul came on tonight after work. I had wasted a lot of time tonight getting my camera all set up to catch the Venus/Jupiter convergence (no dice; thanks clouds) and I'm not sure what else, but I logged in kinda late.

Omuro and I did Haukke Manor with me as paladin, because my marauder is one level shy of opening that dungeon. I do love that dungeon. I did Tamtam as a conjurer on roulette, since it said it needed healers, made level 20 and did the level 20 quest. I did the roulette guildhest as lancer, because it said it needed DPS. First time I've seen it ask for DPS, but I did as it bid and lanced.

Got a couple of the daily crafting quests done, but I need to go out and farm more stuff. I now have Armorer to about 30; Goldsmith somewhere around 20; Mining around 25; and Carpentry and Botany below level 10, both of them. Not really much point in doing any of these jobs, since Kasul is far, far better at them all than I am, and I can just ask him for stuff. But, I like being able to do the daily crafting mostly on my own.

Anyway, I was finishing up the lv 20 Conjurer quest when Kasul logged in. It was Stone Vigil time.

You look... surprised!
You look… surprised!

I apologized to the unfortunate elders who drew me as their tank when we zoned in. Usually people are pretty cool with grouping with a newbie if they appear willing to learn. I always make it a point to talk to people at the start, especially if I'm new or they're new. (And I apologize to Omuro for not doing this in Haukke Manor; I thought you had been through all this stuff with another character). I also recap the strats as revealed to me in the wiki and walkthrough videos so that the elder players can comment on it. I never get a commendation as a newbie, but I imagine they appreciate me not barreling ahead like I already know everything. There's not been a dungeon that didn't surprise me, even after I did the research.
The victors!
The victors!

Stone Vigil was a heck of a dungeon. I overpulled early on, causing a wipe, but after that I was a bit more careful. Kasul kept me alive somehow, the elder deeps kept things dead somehow, and even the nasty character above didn't cause anyone many problems. I say that, but Kasul explained afterward about how often his healing was just on the edge, and how he had to deal with debuffs as best he could. The fact that I didn't even notice is testament to his skill.

One of the deeps — Azelia, the Machinist — had a turret gun pet which was pretty neat. Had no idea those things existed.

Anyway, with that done, the dungeon goes on rotation (theoretically; roulette has never given me anything beyond the first three dungeons). I do hope we get it again. Looks like it mostly drops weapons, which is good, but I could use better armor as well. Cutter's Cry seems to be the place to get some armor.

Marauder is level 28 now. I might as well get the job to 30 and check out Warrior, being so close. I just don't see a real difference in playstyles between marauder and paladin. Tanking is tanking.

Driving Kasul…

Yes, Uber has set up shop in Eorzea. I'm just out to make some extra gil with my chocobo between adventures.
Yes, Uber has set up shop in Eorzea. I’m just out to make some extra gil with my chocobo between adventures.

With our free month of FFXIV about to end, Kasul and I had to make a difficult decision. Not about whether or not to continue playing the game — we're both having a lot of fun with — but just who was going to recruit who for the recruit-a-friend program. See, in FFXIV, if you recruit someone, you get a bunch of cool rewards, like that two-seater chocobo in the picture. If you're recruited, you get some lesser rewards.

Kasul discovered, though, that we could recruit each other, and so that's what we did. He subbed for longer than I subbed (90 days vs month to month), so I got my rewards first. I didn't realize, at the time, Kasul's master plan: I was going to be driving him everyplace on our story night.

We play for awhile most every night, but the story night is our night to play our main jobs and progress the story. My paladin job is 42; Kasul's been keeping both his scholar and summoner jobs the same level at around 40 to 41.

Last week we ended the story at the Titan fight. When we reported to the Scion of the Seventh Dawn headquarters afterward… well, it was clear the storyline had taken a sudden, unexpected, dramatic shift. The Garlean Empire had gone too far. It was time to take the fight to them.

The eventual goal is to take on the primal Garuda, but Garuda is very well-protected. To get to her, we would need an airship. And to get an airship, we would need to find the legendary engineer, the common thread who connects every Final Fantasy game, Cid.

Cid had (reportedly) died during the Calamity, so this was going to be somewhat of a challenge. But that's fine. Kasul had immediately pegged an amnesiac monk as Cid in disguise. We tried various means to spark his memory, but it took one of those androgynous elf twins to name him and wake him.
Cid's airship was last seen in Coerthas Central Highlands, drifting away after losing its crew in a battle. We eventually determined it had come to rest in the Stone Vigil, one of the four watchtowers built by the city-state of Ishgard. We were finally able to get permission to go there and attempt to retrieve the airship (with Cid and the androgyne elf along for the ride). Unfortunately, the whole place has been overrun with dragons….

The Stone Vigil is the next dungeon in the story. It was just a little too late for me to attempt a new dungeon. I'm hoping we get to it tonight. Dragons. I love killing dragons.

Last night's chapter was filled with running-around quests, but they didn't rise to the same level of boredom as last week's, leading up to the Titan fight. That was partly due to the wonderfully dark, oppressed atmosphere and castles of the Coerthas Central Highlands. Kasul and I had been through there briefly before on some task or other, when we were much lower level. We were finally able to enjoy it, even join in on some Fate hunts.

I did not think we'd be this far along in just a month.

Nina Tanglewood, the Doom Banana.
Nina Tanglewood, the Doom Banana.

With Stone Vigil being a level 42-44 dungeon, and Garuda herself being a level 45 trial, I feel we're getting near the end of the main, pre-Heavensward, storyline. I can't believe it would take more than a month to close it out. We have lots of jobs to level and lots of dungeons to run before we start in on the hard dungeons that we'll need in order to proceed to Heavensward. I hear that characters with average item level of 100 and more are doing okay in the expansion; my paladin average armor level is in the high 30s. It should be 50 when I start on hard dungeons. I'm a tank. My armor should be the best in the group.

It probably WON'T be, at least to start. It's a goal.