An Effing Conversation

This is why not even one of us should be allowed to be on drugs. Even prescribed ones.

Posted in Eff the Ineffable, Screenshots, Senseless Blah Blah | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

So you want to be a GM? (Part 1)

Every once in a while, I’ll see someone pose the question on Twitter:

I’m going to start a guild. Any advice?

My knee-jerk reaction, being lame as I am, and going for the easy joke as I do, is to say, “Don’t do it!”

And that can be good advice, if the person in question is starting a guild on a spur-of-the-moment notion that it would be a fun thing to do, just to see what it’s like. Absolutely anyone can collect signatures and come up with a clever name (well, maybe not that second part. Otherwise how do we explain guilds with pretentious Latin names or [my personal head-scratcher] shenanigans like TAYLOR GANG?), but the actual work that goes into leading a successful guild is often more than one might expect.

I’m not going to pretend I know all there is to know about leading a guild (let alone a successful one), but having been GM of two wildly different guilds and having inherited the one and started the other, here are some things I have learned that are applicable.

1. You gotta know what exactly you want your guild to be

This is possibly the most important thing and I personally consider it to be non-negotiable. Do you envision a guild that is driving for server firsts and hardmodes? Will you be doing that as a 10- or 25-man raid team? Or do you want to be a purely social guild? Or is it something in between those two things? Or is it something else altogether, like a group of people who want to get drunk and pretend to be pirates? You gotta know exactly what it is you want out of the game and the theoretical guild.

Take some time to think about this one and for heaven’s sake, don’t think that you personally are locked into being a drunk fake pirate forever just because you started a guild based on that desire. People change. Desires change. And it’s a lot easier to lead a guild when you care about the vision and goals of that guild. If you don’t, it’s just work without reward and I guarantee you will get bitter over it.

2. Now write it all down. All of it.

This exercise will come in handy in a lot of ways, so take the time to articulate on paper (or in a Word document), what your ideal guild would be. Try to avoid words like “hardcore” or “casual” or even “social.” Those words are all so deeply ambiguous within the collective psyche of the WoW-playing community that they really don’t have a meaning. Instead, everyone assigns their own meaning to the words and assumes that everyone else is thinking of the same values when those words are tossed out.

It’s tempting to say my own guild, Eff the Ineffable, is a casual raiding guild, but my idea of “casual” and yours might be two wildly different things. My definition of casual extends to not having a lot of time in which to raid and to not expecting everyone to be 100% perfect all the time, as long as they are trying to improve. Your definition of casual might include not needing to sign up, have enchants/gems or work at getting exalted with various factions to buy their upgrades. Some people see casual and think that even signing up for a raid doesn’t mean they are required to show up on time, if at all.

So if, like me, you will get stabby if people aren’t on time and ready to go, you need to make a note that you have the expectation that all raiders will keep their commitments. Or whatever it is that your expectations are.

You’re the GM here. You get to dictate this stuff. And you have to do so clearly.

3. KEEP WRITING! I SAID KEEP WRITING!

I’m pretty sure that 95% of being successful in leading a guild is to have a solid structure. So now you’ve spelled out what, exactly, you want to see in a guild. Great. That is only half of it. The next thing you need to think about is what are the consequences for people who don’t meet those expectations.

To do this, I think the best way is to really think about all the various ways in which people could step outside your limitations. This does not just go for raiding guilds. Perhaps you are running a more social guild and it doesn’t matter much if people are on at a certain time or what they do while they are on. What is there to monitor?

Plenty.

Are you going to allow racist talk, for instance? Dirty jokes? Do you want a family friendly environment? Or, even more to the gaming point, do you want guild chat full of people asking to be boosted through this, that or the other instance by people who might have better things to do?

Hell, I’ll shut people down if they talk religion or politics in my guild even if I happen to agree with them.

You need to know where all your lines are and what you intend to do with people who cross those lines. And you need to determine (in advance) what is important enough for you to come down with the gkick of doom and what just needs a soft touch or a reminder that, hey, that joke was a bit tasteless, please don’t do that again.

And then you need to communicate those lines as clearly as possibly along with the consequences (IE: I boot racist/sexist people) and then enforce it fairly and impartially.

This means not letting Guy A (who is a good friend of yours) getting away with blatantly Not Okay talk in guild while gkicking Guy B (who irritates the crap out of you), for saying something far more mild.

And, you know, when you have to hold Guy A accountable, it sucks. But it sucks worse having to deal with fallout from taking it all out on Guy B and making an enormous mistake. After all, Guy B has friends…

I’ll say it again: you have to be willing to enforce the rules, no matter if it is something unpleasant. You have to be willing to step between two fighting guildies. You have to be willing to gkick your real life best friend if his behavior calls for it. If you are not willing to see that everyone plays by the same rules, then you have already failed as a GM. 

This won’t fit in one post

The above is just a beginning to starting out as a GM, but I seem to have lots more in mind to say on the subject. So stay tuned for more in this series of the Do’s and Don’t's of starting a guild and I’ll attempt to sound even more profound and knowledgeable in future posts.

If you’ve taken nothing else away from this post, please understand that being a GM is a big commitment of your time and resources and shouldn’t be entered into without any thought for what lies ahead. So if you are thinking of being a GM, great, more power to you! But make sure it’s not a frivolous decision before you get started.

Posted in Eff the Ineffable, Leadership | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

I’m entering the Blizz writing contest – are you?

I’ve once again managed to completely derail myself from writing that novel I keep threatening to make progress on. Because I’m awesome like that.

Okay, it’s actually pretty fail of me. I wrote the first chapter and then two weeks later, after beating my head against the next chapter, realized it might be the first chapter of the wrong book. There’s too much history in this fantasy world for me to start at the beginning of the culmination of events, though I am sure that would make for a lot of intricate subplots and some fast pacing. So there you go, poor saps who volunteered to be First Readers. I’m sorry to have wasted your time.

Except it wasn’t wasted for me because your feedback helped me to realize how much I was missing.

In order to keep that from happening again (she says with hope), I will wait until I have made significantly more progress into the events where everything should start before accosting you with anything further.

But that’s on hold while I lovingly craft my entry to the Blizzard writing contest.

I’ve diverged quite wildly from my typical sort of entry, which is usually some tale of heartache and woe that all turns out well and happy for the concerned parties in the end. Having checked to make sure the format is acceptable (it is, someone got an honorable mention using a similar format), I started work on… well – let me just show you some. I’m having a ton of fun writing it. Hope you enjoy it as well.

Journal of a Renegade Herbalist

This being a faithful account, written in my Own Hand, of my Quest to go forth and pick the Herbs and Flowers of Azeroth and Outland without spending two copper on needless instruction.

Day One
I have set out from Stormwind into the nearby environs of the forest that surrounds the city. I have never thought it much of a forest, being sparse of tree and swarming with humans, but I am assured that this is a proper place to begin gathering such herbs as are thought valuable to alchemists and purveyors of ink.

Though I have indeed traveled far and wide in this world and done many things of Note, including the slaying of countless foes of the Alliance, I have never been troubled before to add any other duties upon myself. Times being somewhat more Peaceful now, I have decided that I might reasonably gather herbs as I continue to travel this realm, looking for any odd jobs that might need doing by a Brave Adventurer such as myself.

Many people claim that the instruction of a master herbalist is needed before one might set out to begin gathering them oneself. I was, however, recently at the Library in Stormwind, awaiting an audience with the King, regarding some little assistance I had rendered the crown, and chanced upon a small volume written by some priest or other that told the names of herbs and other plant matter prized by those who have uses for such things. This volume also contained elegant depictions done in a fair hand of what leaf and root and stem looked like.

It being a small volume and having such excellent Illustrations, I took it along with me, for it was then that I realized I might turn this venture into something which might earn me much gold without any outlay on my own part being required.

Being now in Elwynn Forest, I have spent the day riding or walking about, with my Eye cast towards the ground. So far I have gathered several bagfuls of what appears to be Silverleaf, Peacebloom and some type of root. I shall have to make a stop in the small town of Goldshire tomorrow to sell what I might.

Day Two

Have spent the last night in poor rest, sneezing and itching. Believe I have come down with a cold of some sort. Will delay trip to Goldshire until I am recovered as I am no Fit Company for anyone with my eyes and nose streaming as they are.

Day Three

Still ill. Itching grows worse by the minute, it seems. Was fortunate enough to catch a few rabbits for my supper.

Day Six

I am at last recovered from my “illness.” Thank the Light this forest is so widely strewn about with various people. A female gnome with her pink hair arranged in a tall tower on her head stumbled across my camp and became immediately concerned for my welfare. I was too addled with exhaustion and the unrelenting itching to pay much heed to her actions and do not now recall much of what she said in her breathless, squeaky voice.

She did inform me that a great quantity of what I had thought to be Silverleaf was actually something called Broadleaf and is Notorious for conjuring up the symptoms of itching and sneezing that I have been enduring.

Of my Efforts, most of it has now been discarded. I shall take the little that remains into Goldshire and will sell it. I must lay in some food supplies and will, once re-provisioned, take the road south and west to Westfall. I am Assured that neither Broadleaf nor Silverleaf are found in that Region.

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

I hate my birthday

For years, I thought I hated my birthday because I just didn’t want to be the center of attention for something as silly as the fact that my mom went through a lot of effort and pain to bring me into the world. I mean really, shouldn’t she be getting the acclaim?

And, you know, I loved my birthday growing up – at least until I hit about 15. The idea of a certain number doesn’t hold any particular terror for me, so I’m not one of those people who is clinging desperately to some idea of youth. After all, though my body is aging, it’s not as though I actually feel any older from year to year.

This year I realized why I hate my birthday so much.

As you move through life you meet people and form attachments to them. Some of these are true friendship and others are mere duty. I’m known by many people that I would just as soon never speak to again, but you know, you have to play with certain people to keep things running smoothly with people you do care about. Maybe your best friend has a brother that they love and think is awesome while you privately think he’s a dick. You’ll be polite to that person out of duty, more likely than not.

Since I don’t make close bonds with people very easily, most of the attachments in my life are those of duty. And that’s okay by me. I prefer to have a few friends that I can pour a lot of time into and keep everyone else at a distance. The only thing is, when my birthday rolls around, all these attachments who couldn’t give a flying fuck about my existence the rest of the year all of a sudden feel compelled to come wriggling out of the woodwork to congratulate me on not getting killed in the past year.

To me, that seems beyond trite. And it reminds me of those unfortunate few years where I had my birthday away from my family because I was at a church camp. One year I was serenaded by the entire youth group while in line waiting for a waterslide. Another year we were on our way back from Washington, stopped in Idaho for dinner, and they sang at me when I got to the head of the line at the fast food place.

Both times I felt humiliated. I thought that it was because I don’t like to be the center of attention but, you know, that’s not really accurate. I am okay taking center stage around people I love and who I know love me, if only for a few moments of being in the limelight. Those motherfuckers in my youth group didn’t even really like me (I was the dorky homeschooler after all, while they all went to a private school together), let alone love me. The only reason my birthday was acknowledged was so they could make me a spectacle.

People reading this might think I am overly sensitive. I probably am. But, you know, it’s still bullshit to pretend to care about someone only on the day they got evacuated from a womb.

But maybe I shouldn’t hate my birthday. Maybe I should just learn to ignore all the idiots who think it’s going to make my day feel magical and special because they deigned to acknowledge it with a message on Facebook that took five seconds and no thought at all to write.

Posted in Real Life | Tagged , | 22 Comments

Wherein I make a triumphant return ™

Oh hey there. Did you miss me? I missed you. I missed this, also. Writing. Spilling the random contents of my mind onto these pages. It gets awfully cluttered and nonsensical up in there without letting any of it out from time to time.

My break was good. I don’t know if I have quite perfected the art of not giving a fuck. I know I will never not care – it’s not in me. But during my time away, I did a lot of soul-searching and I believe it has been profitable. I’m not going to bog everyone down with all the details, but I will say that very shortly after leaving blogging I had the opportunity to speak to someone that I had believed was no longer my friend. More, I believed this person hated me. In the spirit of embracing awkwardness, I was open and honest as I could be and hey! I was wrong about the supposed hatred.

Until I found that out, I honestly hadn’t even fully realized what a big, fucking weight I had been carrying around with me. This one act – this one restoration of a relationship I thought I had lost – was enough in the balance for me to accept the other losses I have suffered. I’m still sad about those other torched friendships, but I also have to believe it wasn’t much of a relationship to begin with if it was so easily thrown aside.

I Wax Bloody Philosophical

The other major thing I brought away from this time of contemplation is that I’ve been comparing myself to all the wrong people and this was also a great source of my discontent. She’s thinner. He’s a better writer.

So what?

I’ve come to the realization and conclusion that the only person I should be comparing myself against is Yesterday Me. Am I smarter today than I was yesterday? Am I kinder? A more dedicated worker? A slightly more honed writer? Am I a better me today than I was yesterday? That’s the only progress that matters enough to think about.

Going forward

So now I am back. I hope that going forward I will not be so ruled by the petty things I allowed such sway over me before. I’ve been down similar paths before though, so I’m going to have to watch myself closely.

I find I am back mostly because I have things I want to say. They’re not all WoW-related. My strongest opinions there recently have been a giant OMG WHO CARES in regards to transmogri-whatsit. Apparently everyone in the world but me cares!

And that’s awesome. I feel relaxed. I don’t feel the same pressure I did a month ago to write ALL THE THINGS ALL THE TIME about WoW. I wasn’t even meeting my hoped-for five days a week schedule. Now, I have no desire to do so. I just want to toss my thoughts out into the void and see if any discussion springs up as a result.

So that’s where I am. I’ll write as I feel inspired and damn the traffic and the comments and the omgpeopleneeeeedtoliiiiiikeme hysterics.

And with that, I am for bed and sleeps. Coming soon will be my thoughts on why I fucking hate my birthday.

Try to contain the excitement.

-Alas

Posted in Real Life | Tagged , , , , | 28 Comments

I’m not really here

This was just something I really couldn’t wait to share.

Sanderson was really down to earth and relaxed and very gracious. It was great to get a chance to meet him and get some books signed. I could gush on at length, but I’ll refrain. Just wanted you all to know I was thinking of you even in the midst of my squeefest.

Posted in Real Life | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Pardon me while I learn to not give a fuck

I’ve been putting off writing this post for quite a few months. It could turn out to be quite a ramble, so here’s the TL;DR in advance:

I’m taking a break from this whole blogging thing… and the twitter thing. I don’t know for how long, really, but it became pretty clear to me that this is something I need to do. For myself. I’ll still be playing WoW. Still being the GM of those Effers, so I’ll be tied to the blogosphere. I might even still read blogs and occasionally comment.

There are a dozen reasons why and I can’t really say where one ends and another begins. I thought it was the stress of moving and not having a home base. With that settled, I thought maybe I just needed a permanent job before I could finally stop stressing out.

While I am sure that whole job thing would help somewhat, the truth is that I’ve been blogging and twittering for all the wrong reasons lately, trying to prove something to someone who left my life a while ago and who would probably laugh if he knew how much I let him win. Except the contest only exists in my head and honestly, how pathetic is that?

Learning to not give a fuck

At reminded me today of this article, which some of you have probably seen before. It resonates with me in a way I can’t describe and in looking over it today it was like many little lightbulbs going off in my head, a sort of lightshow of epiphanies.

People are judging me right now. I don’t need everyone to like me.

These are truths that have been difficult to internalize. I think we all like to think of ourselves as the star of the show in the drama that is our lives. So for the most part, people should like us! Oh, an antagonist or two might be something we have to deal with once in a while to keep things interesting, but they will ultimately be shown to be dumber or crueler or less human, right?

Yeah, right. Or maybe it’s: Yeah right!

Giving a fuck about the right things

The third fact in the article was a little easier. It’s my people that matter.

Why do I put so much time and effort into worrying about whether or not everyone out there likes me when I know damn well many don’t, and won’t ever? Why does the approval of virtual strangers become a top priority when my people – people I don’t even really deserve when it comes down to it – get shoved to the wayside?

My priorities have been pretty fucked up.

The good news is that there’s plenty of room to change. My people are fairly few: my family, my friends and to a certain extent, my guild.

Oh, my Effing guild

I’ve been struggling for months now feeling like I was failing the Effers because I just couldn’t find a balance. Then a week ago, I blew up at Zel, as much as one can blow up via instant messaging, because I just didn’t want to hear one more thing about the guild.

She went to the forums and asked if we needed another raid leader or maybe, gasp, some officers. In the first hours of the discussion, I was torn between sadness, guilt for failing and relief that maybe I could either share the burdens or find a way out of being GM altogether.

They won’t let me out of being the GM, but help is on the way, and I think it’s a good compromise between taking on officer-type people while avoiding the trap of officers eventually becoming figureheads in the most elite of cliques.

But I digress.

Self esteem, I’d like to have some again

The Complete Guide to Not Giving a Fuck goes on to list five “easy steps” for getting a handle on the problem of caring far, far too much about other people and their opinions of you.

The first step was do things you would consider embarrassing. Check. This blog post qualifies. I’m rarely honest in front of others about my real shortcomings, and I fully expect that a number of people who read this post will nod knowingly and think, I always knew she was a loser.

I realized I’m self-deprecating so much of the time because I figure it’ll save other people the bother. It’s so much easier to hear from me than it would be to hear from someone else. It it okay to simply admit that I’m fragile and would prefer to be handled with care? I don’t know. Everything in me says no.

This post also partly covers the second step: dealing with awkwardness. If you’re reading it, you are seeing just how awkward things are. How awkward I am, not so deep down. Uncomfortable truths? I’m looking at them.

Work in progress

I guess it’s fitting that for my last ramble here for a while, that this is something of a long one. I feel like I’ve lost the point several times throughout and that this won’t make sense as a cohesive whole. I suspect it might all come across as a disjointed mess of self-pity and unrelated asides.

But for me, it’s more. It’s good. I feel hopeful and a little bit free. I’m giving myself the freedom to walk away from trying to come up with something to say here when I’ve been paralyzed in the same ruts for months. I’m giving myself the space to pay attention to my people and to stop chasing the approbation of others.

And more, I’m giving myself the gift of time to work on the things I do want to attend to but have been putting off because I was already failing my other commitments. I’m planning on diverting my writing time to the novel and I hope my volunteers for reading that will still be willing to do so. (I doubt any of the willingness to volunteer stemmed from my writing this blog, but eh, it’s worth a mention.)

In closing, before I come up with any tangents

I don’t know when I’ll be back. It could be anything from a month to never. I just know that as much as I have loved being a part of the WoW blogging and tweeting community, and for as many of my people as I have discovered there, it’s become the wrong place for me. I would be beyond honored if anyone stuck around long enough to welcome me back, if and when the day should come.

Just in case it doesn’t, know that you have all had a big impact on me and I will always be very grateful for the time I got to spend in the corners of the internet that were yours and mine.

And in the meantime, I’m not shutting anything down now. I’m just closing some tabs that have been perpetually open in my browser for over a year.

Posted in Real Life | Tagged , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Weight Loss Wednesday

God. I can’t help it. I’m lame. We all know this. So, yes, Weight Loss Wednesday is now A Thing.

With the great move of 2010-2011 finally over, I’m getting back into a real routine at last. Back in Missouri, I had a walking partner with whom I walked once a week. There was also a biking path near the house and in my last few months of living there, At and I would sometimes bike it or just walk it after dinner. That didn’t happen often due to Missouri being super humid and also full of ticks and chiggers. EW.

Now I’m in Utah where I had Big Plans to get out and do things, but in point of fact, I haven’t been hiking even once. Winter gave way to a rather cold and rainy spring and then we hit summer with a vengeance. Perhaps one of these weekends we’ll get out early enough that the heat won’t be a huge detriment, but in the meantime there’s the treadmill (and the hauling boxes around while moving – that totally had to help, right?) and, since unpacking, the Wii and such gems as Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred, which is more like a 20 minute death to the fatties program. That’s all I can deduce from the fact that it nearly killed me.

Anyhow, since I last had a scale (December) and now, I’ve contrived to lose about 25 pounds. I’m excited about that progress but I also still have a long way to go. Since I am nearly 30 and my metabolism has slowed way the hell down, I’m not sure that I’ll ever get back to my former weight (about 110 pounds when I got married), but I’ll be happy with getting back into a healthy BMI range. For the short term, I’d like to lose 10-15 more pounds by my birthday. For that to happen, I’m going to have to increase my activity and possibly drink less wine.

With that in mind, I’ve dedicated myself to (among other things) walking at least three times a week on the treadmill (outside if I can fit it in during the cooler parts of the day) for 90 minutes. This has led to more flower farming and fishing for the guild bank so we can have nice things. And, you know, when my ass is hot enough for me to get it inked, I’ll totally get a tattoo of a priest doing the disco in honor of spite of the sure to be forthcoming objections to the idea from At and maybe Liala herself for introducing me to the idea of a treadmill desk but, in the meantime, it turns out that walking and WoWing continues to be dangerous! Maybe even life threatening!

Last weekend I managed to inadvertently turn the treadmill speed up to something like Way Too Fucking Fast while trying to attend to a little last minute banking stuff. I evidently don’t think very well under pressure because my response was to yelp and blindly smash at ALL THE BUTTONS until I could get it slowed down enough that I wasn’t in danger of completely losing my balance and ending up in a crumpled heap on the floor.

While informing my guild mates of what an idiot I am and joking about how getting myself dead isn’t actually very healthy, the treadmill spontaneously stopped. Spontaneously and abruptly. I nearly face planted into the desk. What ensued was more discussion about how I probably ought to give someone else GM in case of my accidental death. I promised to write a note to At to let him know that if he found my corpse in the shower (from slipping and falling, obviously), he ought to log into my account and turn the guild over to More.

Fortunately, I didn’t die and found myself farming more herbs the next day when my shoelaces wriggled themselves free and I experienced my third close call of the weekend for a broken neck. When they burn my body, I mused, I ought to have it arranged to have: “Died in pursuit of Azshara’s Veil” engraved on the urn. Followed by: “Probably not worth it.”

Now, assuming you made it this far, you’re probably wondering something like, “Ye gods, will she ramble on like this every Wednesday? If so, I know when to avoid this place!”

No, probably not. Unless I am amused by my own near-broken neck experiences, in which case yes. Also, you might want to consider avoiding this place pretty much every day. You’re welcome.

Posted in Real Life, Weight Loss Wednesday | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Effing by the numbers

With a second Shannox kill and our first Beth’tilac kill under our belts, I thought I would phone it in today. Just like I phone it in most every day.

Per GuildOx, we’re now 21st on the server for 10-man progression and 11th if you leave out the horde guilds. Probably not big news by many standards, but the last time I ever checked out the ranking of a guild I was in, we were somewhere in the 50-75 range, so I’m pleased. We’re going to try Baleroc next.

On our Beth’tilac kill, I somehow managed to end up being ranked (157 so it’s not really anything to crow about). It was a big moment for me because I haven’t been trying the whole frost mage thing for very long, so that seemed like confirmation that I am doing something right after all.

In our three boss kills in Firelands, only one ember doohickey has dropped so far. Since I was voted to be the first to work towards getting the legendary staff, I was given the ember and I won some shoes. I was subsequently accused of being a loot whore.

Well, duh.

I just love raiding.

Posted in Eff the Ineffable, Raiding | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments