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A farewell song to the sky

There is winter in the air. Naked trees accuse the sky with their empty crowns. The wind, once the encore of a thousands celebrating whispers, now an empty howl. Leafs rustling in the wind. Like dry tumble weeds curled up into hard shells as they skitter across the bitter struck road.

Inside the heat blows like gods breath through vents. Inside a Saturdays microbial step towards a in person interview for a job on Monday and the bustle of uncluttering a home that needs to be downsized feels frail, fraught and exhausted. So little time – so many grand things to do, so many pieces of the same puzzle to fit into place.

——

I’m inside the prison again. I’m back, just one or two quests at the time before the guilt of not doing everything that I can grips me. A Gargoyle sweeps the burning sky as I watch it pass high above. I’m on my way to the 2nd quest out of 5. In the order I always take them. I stop for a brief movement trying so very hard to let reality pass behind the comfort of all those years I used to spend questing in DDO.

Now it’s time I steal away from all the things that has to be done. The death aura with it’s purple sickening sound lulls me. I move again – eager to force my mind off the constant dull stab of emotions in my gut.

——

It’s Saturday. Barely Midnight. I’m finally done with all five quests in Wheloon.

I can hear the fans hum in my computer. I watch the fingers dance across the keyboard turning my inner turmoil into words. I used to have to conjure my best to put words into emotions. Now that is all I am. Dark circles under my eyes. Haunted feeling inside.

So much have happened in so little time. Cubs won after 108 years. I lost my job. The election drubbed me as I felt like I had already been hit enough. My first over the phone interview left me with a pounding head ache and the second left me feel relieved and hopeful inside.

Each day I pick away at the house; clean here, clean there and it still feels like so much is left. Almost thanksgiving and the market for selling a house in a reasonable time is entering the winter months.

Time.

A luxury I once sacrificed at the altar of escaping reality between 6 and 9 PM is now an ever stampeding herd of minutes.

I tell myself that there are those that are far worse off. And it’s true. It’s just not as comforting as it used to be. But I try to humble myself. Over and over.

I hope one day that I keep normalize everything and be back, without a moments though in what the next day will bring. Only the many goals I have in mind for DDO.

The choice I never got to make

What I will tell you breaks the routine of ejecting you from DDO and into the reality of now.

It’s about me. Not me playing or asking people to vote. Not me talking about mechanics, upcoming updates, horrible experienced and good/bad turns in this aging MMO.

It’s about me. Unvarnished reality pealing of any pretense I had of stability and I don’t know how to tell this – unless I also make it about DDO in parts and life in average.

I’ve been extraordinary fortunate in so many aspects of my life. Compared to others. Despite personal tragedies and happenstance. Like my first pre teen years. Watching my dad slide into alcoholism and how that broke our family part. Yet remember some of the greatest moments in my life with everlasting fondness – shaped by us going to staying the entire summer at my grandparents cabin without indoor plumbing and electricity. Good sweet late 70’s and early 80’s.

Fishing, exploring, sensing, feeling and observing. When you strip all our distractions away there are entire worlds around us screaming for attention.

What I will list now might seem awful compressive. Or even weirdly odd in correlation. Abstract even. Maybe even dysfunctional – but I will tell you a secret. The true notion of despair and hope is to find that one thing – that kernel of moment that strips away depression, hopelessness and anguish.

My dads alcoholism because a distant threat of discord with the many months exploring woods, fishing and sitting bored under a screened in porch waiting for the rain to stop.

My moms breast cancer became a adolescent hurdle that propelled me from immaturity to instant young adulthood. Her death; shattering my fragile hope of redeeming the best part of our family – where my sister fled the situation at 16, leaving me alone as my dad struggled to take the trips to the far off University town to see my mom. Until she died. He came on the very same day I entered winter break, nursing a bottle of bathing salt for my mom so when she came home over Christmas she could enjoy a hot relaxing bath and the fragrance I had picked out, out of many choices. Lilac I do believe.

He looked at me and I knew what he was about to tell me; what I’ve always known he would tell me but purged out of the center of my grief to never give into the deep melancholy of being an isolated nerd. ‘Mom is dead’.

I can tell you what happened after that, but it’s not dissimilar from anyone elses experience. But what remains with me from those days is that when I saw her coffin in church, all I could think about was how tiny it was.

And so – the best person in the world. The kindess person in the world. One that knew my tender heart, my fears when my dad got drunk. The one who protected me in our apartments small bathroom when dad was outside beating a fist sized hole in the wall – were gone.

Even to this day I get a solid painful lump in my throat thinking about it and the horizon of my eyes glistens with held back tears.

My dad did get sober. He had to. But my teenage years ended up being a lost chapter in a way that have shaped my future. Luckily, that all changed when I was about 17 and I met a bunch of guys into roll playing games. Pen and paper and also the first computer game on my future 8086, Pool of Radiance.

These years were divine, however fleeting. Playing almost every day and weekend. A large bunch of nerds called the ‘Black Ducks’. First we joined every nearby gathering. Winning top position in many different pen and paper roll playing events. And finally helped host local ones as well as DM larger.

Until college split us apart as well as compulsory Military Service. Once we tried to come back together again – years later – the core group was split and people lived all over Sweden and some started getting into serious relationships.

I left in 1999 – I was studying Contemporary History at the time. I loved it. It married philosophy with movement history. But once I got hooked on the cheap and extensive University network that allowed me to strike out in the emerging and expanding internet – I met a person in USA (online) that would eventually cause me to drop everything, give into an impulse stronger than self-preservation (love) and move to Illinois.

I’m not going to bore you with ‘regular Joe life and kids’. From 1999 until the tail end of 2014 things were just fine. Other then the regular bump in the road and two teen age step sons (and one daughter getting awfully close) life was mundane, steady and unusual.

Things changed somewhat with my sons leaving the house. One after one they all struck out own their own, leaving a fairly empty house with 4 bed rooms and 3 baths. And a big yard that was left undone since I didn’t have time and mental fortitude and the work the boys always did, lingered on for weeks. The summer of 2015 felt just like that – we planted some flowers and did the lawn now and then, but the weeds grew thick here and there and I just plowed through it in a haze.

Then a mild winter followed a regular spring after that and a hot long summer with regular rain and a lot of humidity. And the weeds grew thicker.

I tried to maintain it, but I was Monday to Friday with a short weekend that felt like someone slapped me in the face with it and it was over. There was also things brewing in paradise as the realization that we could no longer afford to maintain a house and the mortgage payment and everything felt like a trap.

Until November 4th.

I’m sure we all remember some dates. Like 9/11. I sat there watching the TV in our old townhouse – about to leave for work and I watched it as it happened. I called my wife, working at the local bank and explain to her what was going on.

November 4th followed a dreadful November 1st. I sat through hearing my coworker getting fired early on in the morning. 2 days later after some real life unrelated drama, I had to sit through it myself. I already knew it was happening. I got the meeting invite scheduled for 9AM that day – the same as my coworker got 2 days earlier.

I tried to contact my remote manager but she refused to answer. I don’t blame her. This was out of her hands and she already had to deal with the fact that her old team was breaking apart, knowing how their lives would be impacted from it.

It’s hard to fool me. It’s much a curse as it is a benefit to me. And those 2 hours early in the morning were agonizing. I cleaned out my desk. Stuffed 13 years of memories and experiences in 4 plastic bags. And once I was done with that, rolled my thumbs for 30 more minutes before finding an empty office to séance the final breath of my career with that company.

I did it for a few reasons; maybe save my face from having others hear my voice as it waivered. But also so my last coworker in the office; the survivor of the purge, didn’t have to suffer the indignity of trying to ignore what transpired.

My boss was in pieces and I told her it was okay. The HR lady tried to give me the corporate spiel about ‘just business and realignment’ and I cut her short and asked her to please just cut to the paperwork portion and anything I had to sign etc. She was frustrated and tried to regain poise, but it was clear that I had interrupted her prepared speech she had given so many before me.

In the end the convulsive blood loss for my former company is probably going to be as large as it was back in 2007-2008 when it was tethering on the brink of bankruptcy. I survived those days; when I was hauled in early in the morning with the only other survivor and we were told that the axe was coming down. And we had to sit there as the others came in, was marched into the office where the same person who told us we had survived, let each and one of them go.

My manager and 2 others vanished into the mist that day. I think it was around the same timeframe as I’m now in. Before Thanksgiving and Christmas in the most horrifying moment of my life.

I’m not going to bore you with realities here. It’s probably familiar to some. But one consequence of it all, is the immediate cancelling of my VIP sub on mine and my wife’s account. It runs out in the end of December and after that It’s probably going to be the end of an era.

I remember being 15-16 years old driving out to my grandparents old Cabin. My mom was dead and shortly thereafter my granddad died from stomach cancer. Maybe a year later. My grandmother wasn’t there. The wind struck a cord through a memory filled era of the minds echoing labyrinths.

The empty spot where my uncle used to park his RV so they could spend a few weeks per summer with me. I loved that time.

The 2 cabins – the main now shuttered as my grandmother didn’t have the time and strength to be there as often and the smaller, that my dad built so we could spend time there. Time; just a few short years later had robbed this place of so much life.

I took the row boat out for a final homage to my fishing days. I sat out there in my favorite spot where I used to fish for bass and northern pike. I really didn’t catch much because it was the wrong time of day and the lake was a little bit to rough. But I sat there and watched the lakefront of the cabin and realized that it was now robbed of all vitality and this was the final day of a gone era.

I had grown up. Way to fast after my moms death and it felt like the magic time that had sustained me when it got rough with my dads drinking and my parents fighting was done giving me strength.

Whatever forces that had gathered to give me that bright light in the end of the tunnel had now drained from the area and I was alone to find new ways to make each dark moment something special.

And so there I was. Outside the office. The sun chasing away frozen shadows – close to 10AM and I was sitting down in my car, watching the façade of the office I had worked in for 13 years a final time, before driving away.

I know every bend and every outlet. I know the rough spots and the newly maintained. I know the radio shows that plays at what time and now when I woke up this morning I didn’t have to plow the headlights through the early morning dark as the days grow shorter.

I could wake up, take my daughter to school. And realize that I don’t have the magic of that fishing trip to allow me to transition my childhood to unknown adulthood.

The scary part about adult life is that you can’t take a summer to find yourself again. You have to constantly re-find every lost moment and reel back and forth until you find stable ground.

Now Monday, the worst day in a workday have become the first day when I’m not. A day of dread. And not for how quick it bridged the weekend, but how complicated each day will be from now.

DDO might be over for me. Not because it finally broke me and I felt that I had that final glance from the lake. But because I never got there and never experienced that. Because I never got to say farewell and couldn’t escape reality by so effortlessly walk down to my den and turn my computer on.

Now my computer is an ever reminding tool of having to find another good job. It’s work now. Or rather a search for work. I always thought that my life was to watch myself gray and wrinkle while weekends flew by.

Now my life is reinventing when I last wanted or expected it. And I still feel like I’m to old for this shit.

 

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A sullen sun dies in blaze

There is a question I keep asking myself. Not just lately – but almost always. Why am I doing this? It’s a question you should, or at least I will ask myself about almost everything. There are so many things that are driven by needs. Questions that drown the passion you once had, overrides the impulse to get in contact ‘with that one thing’ that burns and braids in your soul.

Why am I waking up each morning around 5am to prepare myself for work. The bowl of cereal. The haunted dark under my eyes that only seems to spread as I grow older. The receding hair line and the tired ‘I’m to old for this shit’ look as my reflection scares me of the reality that grows, fester and mold around me. Becomes me. The spreading gray in my small beard.

But then there are those moments. Like a sputtering engine darting into life. Like the one hit with a flint that feeds the fuel that ignites the fire. The spark. That one moment – the crystal clear moment when you feel that even when you know the story, it speaks to you in a new way. When you know all the turns. Calculating the probability of success. Where you feel like everything you do is more muscle memory than skill. That one moment when you feel instead of know what is head of you.

The one that makes you stop. That makes you park the car and step out. That one moment when the springs frozen shadows gives away for a hot sun streaking across the speckled green of your grass as you juggle your backpack, coffee mug and everything else. The one that makes you leave the car door open and the radio morning prattle turn into distant noise. Because there, a sullen sun ignites the heaving like the rising phoenix. Or dies in the evening in the ember of heavens final crumbling bonfire. And you can feel it embrace your skin. Hug your face. Warm your soul. Ignite something inside you that you haven’t felt for a while.

Those are the moments why I do what I do. From the early 21’s to the 25’s. A streak of quests, sagas and a muddle of story lines that blurs into the afterthought as goals become ‘that one quest line, that one saga’. Where 21 gives away to 22 and then gears become this and the slot becomes that. Where points are distributed, ideas are evolved and enhancements or destiny strategies feel like statistical polling.

Then that moment grabs you and you forget that you made what was a discovery into work. That there are moments – in real life and in games. That chase away the awful reality of the cogs that moves us. And bedazzles us once more. And gives you tranquility of the unknown.

A good reason to run Mabar and Winter Festival

According to this forum subject it now appears that the new crafting system works with festival additional damage. Currently there are two – solar (1d4 light damage) that you can get from the new Mabar event and frost (up to cold burst) from the Eberron winter event.

I don’t know about frost for sure, but it is considered a festival type damage addition and you can only have 1 on at the same time. That would be force (if I’m not correct but I will change), solar and frost. Force is something you can add to any item using a stone of change recipe and solar and frost is applied from the events. Now it is possible that frost won’t work because of the nature of how you apply it but if this is any indication crafted items are considered the same random loot, at least how they are created and recognized by the system.

The old crafting system was after all fundamentally different from the naming (and such) convention of random items. I’m all for it. Random items can after all be more powerful than say crafted so logically there’s not real reason why crafted items were ever excluded (only technically anyways due to different systems).

If that’s true I look forward to making a few more frost and solar recipes since there’s no reason NOT to add extra damage to crafted items. That’s just a bonus.

High expectations, low blows

I play a lot of games. Watch a lot of different shows and movies and have consumed and occasionally now, comic books and novels.

In my whole life I’ve consumed wonderful stories – everything from corny westerns, excellent dramas to pulp and mindless action.

Sometimes it becomes a lifelong friend; one with a bittersweet ending years later. Other a brief fling as the show either crater (and takes a piece of your soul with you – looking at you Firefly) or I give it up.

There are a lot of reasons why I lose interest and even weirder ones why I stay with it. Over the years I’ve seen some great stuff towards in end (but not always liked the ending) such as Castle, Psyche and Monk (among others) and given up on others (The Walking Dead, Grimm, lost etc). There is no specific rime or rhyme other then maybe expecting something more then corny fake human drama.

My wife however is a lot more loyal. She soldiers on despite admitting that it’s not as good anymore. Maybe simply out of wanting to know how it ends. Me I mostly watch or play games because of how it fulfill that need to emotional connection or dragging me out of the misery of normal life. I know that sounds a little pretentious, but normal life, in it’s repetitive state, isn’t all that fun. Our stages in life (for most people, not all – some are lucky to find passion and live every day in marvel and joy of that passion) is born, play, learn that the world is not just play, grows up, go to school and get thrown into work life.

Decades later you realize you’re a stuck in a cubicle, watching gray walls doing the same thing over and over.

Then you get older, your kids get older and you wake up one day and ask yourself when you look at who you are in the mirror, wtf happened and you want to scream. Except it’s 5am in the morning and you need to get ready for work. It’s Monday. Still dark outside. Your body creak with the stairs. Your eyes feel like someone blew sand in them and 10 minutes later your morning breath get a tint of breakfast morning blend coffee.

You dress, you prepare, you throw on some good smelly stuff, tries your breath to make sure you’re presentable and then drive to work.

You repeat that through the week until Friday comes along and now you promise yourself that you’re free and you’re going to die something. Like move the lawn, fix the house, drag your ass in the morning until you realize it’s Monday again.

So thank Gosh for games, shows and other means of distractions that allows me to forget that most of our lives are routine and artificial commitments.

Like adding a few more levels to my PK dualist. Like playing my Pally to grind for keys so I can do the Night Revels stuff so I can make a few augments for stacking Int and Wis.

So I can experiment with different build options as I wait for that moment when I think – or know – that I have reached a point of perfect contentment in my gaming needs (hope that never happens tho).

Or watch that show that fills me with simple joy, boundless mystery and ‘what’s next’. Like Lucifer. Genuinely excellent cast. Blacklist – hard for me to predict what is going on and how things are going to fit together. Longmire, very low key and down to earth. The strain – love the comic book and I love the show. Drunk History. I love history and it’s even better when told by drunk people.

So why did I write all this? I watched the 7th season premier (a bit of it) of the Walking Dead and I realize why I stopped watching it; corny evil.

This was billed as a ‘view of the human condition’ in extreme situation. And while it was okay at first, the corny even got repeated way to often and the failure to learn from past mistake too numerous. Like going from one similar situation to another.

The first few seasons the main characters police friend went evil bananas and then shot by the main character. Later on there was this governor that was evil bananas and went after the group and then it was the town of cannibalistic evil bananas and now you have this new bad guy and his bat and his cartoonishly evil bananas justifications.

There are evil in other shows I watch. In blacklist for example you have a ‘evil’ main character and a lot of other evil people, but they’re not corny or cartoonish. Their motivations are plenty and sometimes layered. But there are some that are simply silly. That is the one that comes across like he or she enjoys the mayhem. The one you’d expect to be the evil one, who’s motivations are simply to break bones and hurt people because it’s the perk.

Like the Walking Dead season premier.

I can’t remember one single historic figure that I know of that had this kind of cartoonish evil about them. Not even Nazis. And there were a lot of bad people among the Nazis. Evil.

You find these in a lot of silly movies. Like watching Commando the other day. Aaaanold being the hero with stupid one liners. The bad guy so over the top campy evil.

That is how all main bad guys in the Walking Dead reminds me of. The layer of reason why they do the things they do are almost all the same. There is little sophistication between their ‘evil’ actions.

Mankind are motivated by a lot of things. Fear, greed, ambition, mental flaws etc. But they’re not all the Joker out of Batman. Or the numerous early Bond Villains. Sometimes they are worse but with a strange sense of justification. Like Ghengis Khan, Hitler and Pol Pot. Other time mental, like Jeffrey Dahmer.

But you don’t see that many – in real life dramas, like the corny evil such as in that opener – and the same group falling into the clutches of another bunch of bad dudes. Over and over.

And if I really want over the top campy evil, I rather play some DDO and the many Xoriat quests. Because at least I can always clobber myself out of those.

Thank you for Cannith Crafting

It should be said more often; but Cannith Crafting have been a boon for me.

I have a LOT of toons. Max allowed. Most are mules but I do have an assortment of different ‘playable’ toons – most in Epic levels but also 15 and above. And the worst thing (up until the new random loot system and Cannith crafting) was that if you stopped playing one of them for a while they fell behind in gear. That is true in the days of ever shifting named items (until luckily BTA stuff).

This was also a particular nuisance when you look at what is most often ‘set’ gear for specific levels. Such as Thunderforged starting level 26 (now often replaced with LGS). You’re not going to be able to replace everything you got with Thunderforged which leaves you at the mercy of ‘lesser’ named items or random stuff.

Cannith crafting – even tho you have to go for intolerable mat runs sometimes, allows you to create standardized gears for level gap that fits specific classes and bridge the needs with more useful BTA items. This is particularly true around 20-25 where a lot of the gear is still the MOTU BTC (through harper and EGH) gear sets. From armor, weapons, trinkets and items.

This are better in the 15-20 and 25-30 gap where a lot of the items are BTA. This is where Cannith Crafting shines. Allowing you to create things like all HP belts which fits ANY class, gloves and bracers that fit (and other slots) that are essential to specific classes (like spell pen gloves for casters and doubstrike with armor piercing for melee). You can even be so granular that you make rings that fit specific caster types (say acid) or generalist such as sheltering of physical sheltering.

The point is simple; as your treasure trove of BTA crafted items expand they become more and more the foundation of leveling gear. Which is particularly true with generalist things like HP gear. Such as the for mentioned belt. Constitution of False Life of insightful constitution – often with either a heavy fortification augment. I now have several such as 15, 20, 23 and 30 (34). They’re good for all classes.

Or a host of caster neutral rings that include impulse (useful for all caster types) and sheltering. And now even with the Epic reincarnation of my Bladeforged Paladin – gloves with doubstrike, armor piercing and insightful strength. And a trinket with Strength, Wisdom and insightful wisdom. A trinket useful also for melee type divines and Monks.

So thank you Turbine for allowing me explore the mosaic of gear solutions, to standardize leveling equipment without the need to grind out different named items and for finding solutions to slotted gear that best fit the diverse ability needs for different classes.

And now for something different

Before I continue my current run as PK dualist (and the roaring 20’s) I’d like to do something that I did in 2012.

The importance of voting.

This is not about whom to vote for. Only why. First, let me state this. Lets not yammer on about how things are rigged. USA is not a banana republic. By statistics actual fraud is a fraction of 1 percent. I just want to state that without preference of candidate because it’s important to not de-legitimatize the function of democracy by acting butthurt.

I get the arguments that it ‘seems’ rigged but it’s both irresponsible and dangerous to make those arguments without any proof. It plays into hands of nations without legitimate democracies and it undermines the very foundation of a democratic system on a basic level.

We don’t always win and the only way anyone should win, is to have a movement behind you and work hard to get more people voting for your ideas than the other candidates.

In essence; that’s it.

But please vote. I get the frustration of people thinking their votes don’t matter and the established system don’t listen – but it’s not going to get better or change if we simply ignore our constitutional rights and vote for a person who have no interest in governing. Movements – or political change don’t happen at the top. It happens bottom up. And it should ideally be about how we want the nation to work for all and not a special snow flake situation of somehow guarantee things for yourself.

Ideally.

Other than my personal preference and ideas, I still think that everyone – even if it is for someone I don’t care for, should vote. This is what this nations founders put in place. Instead of rule by arbitrary lords and kings. Voting might not be unique – but it is a privilege that not everyone enjoy. And even in nations where you can ‘vote’ it’s not always free and legitimate.

So please vote. And please keep politics out of gaming. It doesn’t belong there.