Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

Posts tagged ‘Millya’

An Epic Secret Santa Gift

So way back in November, I signed up for the Secret Santa gift exchange on Twitter. It was a lot of fun in 2012. I can’t show you what I sent to my Secret Santa this year because it has her actual name on it. I can, however, show you what I received in the mail today…

I made this post with Millya’s paperdoll image in it ages ago. Here’s the image, anyway, if you don’t want to click over there.

milldollpreviewThat’s just a preview size; the full-sized print ready image is linked in the post itself. But you get the idea. I made up a bunch of fun outfits for Millya before transmog even existed as such. Later, when I wanted to use an avatar from the image, I made this one:

twitvatar

Because what mage wouldn’t dress up as Howl if they could? So that’s been my profile picture off and on for a few years now. Little chibi-Howl-Millya. Little did I know that when my Secret Santa present arrived, I would open it up and find THIS:

kia02

Please excuse my terrible photography. I was excited. I took another picture too:

Kia

It is a cross stitched MILLYA. AS HOWL. Be still, my heart! Upon opening the card it was revealed that my Santa was the very talented @Kialesse from Twitter. Needless to say, I love it and I am so impressed. She even had it matted and framed up so that I can pop it right on the wall. I’ll do that as soon as I decide where. I’m thinking pride of place right above my computer monitor so I can look at it often.

So that is the story of the SS gift I consider myself very fortunate to have received. Well worth the wait! Especially after delivery snafus. Apparently UPS put the package on my doorstep last night, but I didn’t know until this morning and poor Kia was freaking out. I’m really glad it was there, it would’ve been too awful if something had happened to it. Who knew they delivered things that late!? Anyway, crisis averted. Draenei delivered. The wrapping paper was even a sort of shiny draenic purple, haha.

Thank you, Kia!

RP Archives: Meetings

This is the first archived RP I have “fictionized.” It takes place as much of our RP did, during the Wrath era – before the Lich King was defeated. It starts around the time of Ulduar. I hope it reads okay, due to the back-and-forth nature of RP most of these will be pretty dialogue heavy but I’ve tried to smooth them out with more in-between things when necessary. We occasionally used in-game friends as casually mentioned “extras” (i.e. mention of a rogue included an actual rogue) which some people might recognize but I’ve removed any such names because those people didn’t agree to be part of fiction we were writing.

Late afternoon sun streams in the windows of The Legerdemain Lounge in Dalaran. The low hum of conversation in many different languages carries through the open space. It’s not full to bursting with patrons, but a number of people occupy different scattered tables.

At one of these sits an aqua-skinned draenei woman. She is hunched forward with one elbow on the table, the sleeves of her violet robes are pushed past her forearms. Beside her is a small pile of books haphazardly stacked, a half empty cup of tea, and a plate with a few crumbs on it. The last book seems to have been set aside in some disgust, a keen observer might note, as it reached the other end of the table before sliding to a halt. No books open now, she idly watches the crowd. Her eyes stray now and again to the elf who is tending bar, as if she’s keeping an eye on him.

She notes with interest when a new customer enters the establishment, one of her own people, unusual for the fact that he is wearing heavy armour in stark contrast to the more casually dressed crowd. The woman watches as the other draenei strides noisily up to the bartender and orders an ale. He sits on a stool at the bar and she can almost hear its protest as it groans under the weight of a fully-armoured male draenei.

She purses her lips in a considering fashion. He looks familiar. Especially when he sits down and she sees the back of his head, she thinks that she might know this man. She glares at her discarded book for a moment, then goes to take a sip of her tea. Finding it stone cold, she takes the opportunity to walk up to the bar herself.

The male draenei has not noticed her, his attention inevitably drawn to a table of three orcs sitting not far away. As she reaches the bar he says something loudly in Orcish. Definitely loud enough for the three orcs to hear: they turn as one to glare at him menacingly. The draenei warrior stands up from the stool, hand going to his scabbard as he and the orcs stare at each other. After a moment, one of the orcs says something that sounds insulting and they all head towards the door.

The draenei woman nods pleasantly to the bartender, who takes her cup and hands her a fresh one wordlessly – as if they’ve performed this same exchange many times before, possibly many times today alone. Turning to the burly draenei who has resettled his alarming bulk onto the beleaguered stool, she says in Draenei, “Three to one? Not good odds, assuming you didn’t exactly invite them to enjoy their beverages and have a good afternoon. I never did get the hang of Orcish myself. Too guttural.” She gestures at her throat with a shrug.

He turns around quickly and then relaxes when he sees the dark-haired mage, recognition lighting in his eyes. “A minor disagreement, that’s all,” he assures her.

She inhales the steam from the freshly poured cup of tea and nods, sliding onto the stool next to him while carefully holding the cup, each movement deliberate and easy. Her lips quirk slightly in a half-smile, still speaking Draenei. “Ah, I see. As in…they exist, and you disagree?”

He lets out a hearty laugh, leaning back and grabbing his tankard. “Something like that, yes! It’s a pleasure to see you without the stench of battle all around. It’s, hmm…Millya, right?” Even as he speaks to her, his eyes roam the room, keeping an eye on the surroundings.

He gestures over at her books on the table. “I was going to mention that you shouldn’t leave your books unattended, but most of the patrons here would only take them in the hopes of finding them illustrated.”

The other draenei laughs, giving the books a dismissive glance as she drinks a bit of tea too quickly. “I wish them much joy of them! At this rate, they aren’t doing me any good.” She glances at him. “Vosskah, yes? Do you make threatening orcs a regular part of your daily outings or was that that just a happy coincidence?”

Vosskah smiles and sips his ale, nodding. “Well, insulting orcs makes your day feel fuller, no?” He looks over at her books again, significantly, clearly seeking a change of subject. “Let’s leave those smelly, fatherless thugs where they belong. What are you reading, if I may inquire?”

She raises her eyebrows, setting her tea cup down. She tries to sound carefully neutral in reply to his question, but it’s all over her face that she doesn’t expect him to understand one word in three. “What am I reading? ‘The Effect of Relative Distance and Multiplicative Spellcasting on Azeroth,’ ‘Arcane Adventures: A Dalaran Perspective,’ (don’t ask) and ‘A Treatise on Temporal Rifts.’ There’s something I’m trying to figure out, but I think it might best benefit from more practical application.”

Vosskah nods, seeming unphased. “It’s a pity that these Dalaran mages seem to have a passion for shoveling clouds in their treatises on magic. I wonder where you could find a more practical view of things. Perhaps Stormwind? In the Royal Library? But first I should ask, what are you trying to figure out?”

She furrows her brow. “Well, the long and short of it is that I’m trying to figure out the fastest way to apply a lethal blast of magic. It’s an efficiency thing, I suppose. There’s this smarmy little human who keeps stabbing things before my spells ever get there. Highly inefficient, such a waste. And so messy – her, that is.” She pauses and sips her tea again.

He chuckles. “I know the human you mean. I spend hours cleaning my armour after the messes she makes of things. For an expedient use of magic, I would definitely look into the human research. They are not the most patient people.”

Millya heaves a sigh. “You know, that’s a good point. Of course, I’ve studied many different branches of the arcane arts, but it seems when it comes to offensive magic that they’ve spent more time perfecting its application – despite what our relative lifespans might suggest.”

He shrugs massive armored shoulders. “Well, knowledge for its own sake is a luxury most of us don’t have, especially in times of war. Having such a short lifespan does add some urgency and motivation to accomplish things, don’t you think? They live but the blink of an eye and yet, look at them here. They’re spending those few moments they have fighting incredible odds and dying to them. Interesting people.”

She sips her tea thoughtfully and nods. “They make powerful allies. And powerful enemies.” After a moment, she adds, “You know…you don’t really sound like someone who gets hit in the head for a living.” The other draenei chuckles and takes a sip of his beer.

“None taken. You’re aware that we do have a great amount of padding in those helms, right?”

Millya taps her forehead lightly. “Faceplates aren’t exactly negligible protection either, though I’ll take your word for it about the padding. Sometimes I think it’s a wonder anyone can fight while weighed down with all of that.”

“It’s a question of habit and training. There is thought behind our actions as well. We need to really think about how to insult an enemy enough that he focuses on us and leaves you to burn his backside.”

Glancing meaningfully at the recently vacated table where the orcs had been sitting, she murmurs, “I’ll bet.”

Vosskah follows her gaze and grins broadly. “Some are easier and dumber than others.” He tips his head back and finishes the last of his ale. “Say, I must run but am loathe to end this lovely conversation. Would you be amenable to reading a book in this place tomorrow at the same time and I’ll walk in and insult some peons and I will buy you a drink…or a tea?”

She laughs. “If I haven’t set my books on fire by then…” Her face gives a lie to the words. She would never actually set fire to her books. “I tend to be here most free afternoons. I’ll polish up on my Orcish so I can better enjoy the show.” She looks down at her now empty tea and sighs, and then back at the books. “I should get back to it, anyway. Be well, Vosskah.”

He nods and sketches a short, soldierly bow in her direction. “And you, Millya. I am looking forward to stumbling upon your reading again.” He leaves some coins on the counter for the barkeep and leaves. Millya could swear as she resumes her seat at the table that she can hear the distant sounds of a scuffle somewhere outside – the clash of metal and indistinct shouts, but she shrugs it off. It’s probably just her imagination.

A Tale of Two Vids

Some of you might remember that I created Vidyala (the actual paladin character), around December 2009. She was created with a purpose; to be “the pugging pally,” and I created a blog of the same name. LFD was very new then and I wanted to see if you could level a character entirely using the dungeon finder. It was the first opportunity to level a purely healing character. Of course, this is nothing remarkable now and many people level characters using exclusively LFD or some combination of LFD, PvP, and questing. At the time it was somewhat noteworthy, though, and my blog gained a certain amount of notoriety as a result.

In 2009, we had recently joined Business Time on Moonrunner, leaving behind our RP server roots for a more progressed guild and a PvE server. It was something of a culture shock. I also really missed roleplaying. I started roleplaying again, mostly with Vosskah. Initially, we primarily played both of our main characters – for him, the warrior and his namesake, Vosskah, and me my fiery tempered mage, Millya. Some time in 2010, I began to flesh out Vidyala’s story as well and she also saw some RP. I was happy playing these characters that mostly had no connection to anything from the past, we started absolutely fresh with them. I wrote quite a bit of short fiction and we RPed a lot (primarily using IMs).

The other day I realized that because of the format of our RP, all of it is saved in my chat history. I like IM roleplay for a variety of reasons – it’s completely private so you can’t get anyone griefing you, you aren’t limited to emotes and /say, you can be in any location that you wish and have more control over the world around you. Of course, it has its downsides – you won’t meet any new people, you don’t have the world actually existing around you. But for the most part it was okay, and we’d done a lot of it though it had drastically dropped off to nothing during Cataclysm. I lost my connection to the story sometime during Cataclysm. But we had all of that RP from before, and I began the arduous task of compiling it into a single document, chronologically. I included any short fiction and interspersed it with the RP.

At the end of it, I have a document that is 430 pages, single-spaced. It’s 278,664 words. That’s about 5 NaNoWriMos! It’s a lot of words. Some of it is the story of Millya and Voss, with a bit of my night elf druid, Shae, mixed in. Some of it is the story of Vid and…well, this is the part where it gets complicated. Most of this writing was done between 2009 and 2011. At the end of 2011, I started collaborating on From Draenor With Love with my good friend, Rades. It started out as a gag type strip, primarily featuring our two characters, Vid and Rades. They were a natural choice (though neither of us raids with them in-game) because they were both engineers and we thought they could have met and become friends.

Not everyone liked our casual adoption of this plotline (“You’re breaking the lore!”) was probably my favourite comment from that time period. But it sort of didn’t matter because the strip WAS generally one-offs, we never delved very deeply into the actual story of Vid and Rades. But fast forward to 2013, when we decided to make a drastic change to the format. The strip gained continuity and an ongoing storyline that we have pretty well planned out. The dilemma for me is that the story of From Draenor With Love departs pretty drastically from the Vidyala I know (and continue to write about in my own stories).

I’ve had a few questions about this, because some people know parts of those stories. I wrote a very brief story here on Manalicious back in 2012 that makes the relationships of some of the characters very plain. Vosskah is Vid’s father. Millya is Vid’s stepmother. Vid is actually in a relationship as well. But here’s the thing: almost none of this is true in the FDWL continuity. In FDWL Vid doesn’t even know Millya. Much to the “real” Vosskah’s outrage, her father is dead. It’s creating some weird cognitive dissonance for me as I try to keep the two separate in my mind. Rades must have free reign to write the story of FDWL as he sees fit (and trust me, if I may be so bold, it’s a good one! At least I like it). But that other Vid didn’t cease to exist. When I write and RP now she’s still doing her thing. Actually her relationship with her father has been really important to her character. FDWL Vid doesn’t have that relationship at all.

There are other parallels between the stories that I won’t expand on in any depth (spoilers…). I know it’s confusing for readers as well, because while FDWL was a gag strip we used Vid and Millya interchangeably depending on the joke, never really explaining the connection between the characters or even if they had any. They were both shorthand for “me,” as in real-life me. Someone actually asked in a comment on FDWL recently when or whether Millya would show up. The answer is she probably won’t, because she has no place in Vid’s FDWL continuity. But you have to understand, I love Millya, and Vid, and all the characters and stories that are rattling around inside my head. You’ll notice that I’ve commissioned or exchanged more art of Millya than anyone else. Just because she wasn’t the best fit for sharing stories with Rades doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a story.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying, I might write and share more fiction here on Manalicious. I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea so I will make sure to label it very clearly and if you don’t want to read that – by all means skip it and you won’t offend me at all. I’m probably going to start by trying to revamp, edit and rewrite some existing RP and stories so that they will read smoothly and hopefully be interesting. I’m kind of shy about posting fiction at all, but I’m trying not to worry about it because I think Manalicious has a pretty small audience these days anyway. This is also understandable because for a long time I wrote here very seldom. Now that I’m getting a handle on the WoW Insider thing as well as the time FDWL takes, I find myself with more of an urge to use this space for things that are a bit more personal.

I wanted to write this intro entry to the fiction, though, to make it absolutely clear that anything written here has NO bearing whatsoever on the story of From Draenor With Love. None of it is canonical as far as those characters or their adventures are concerned. Yes, Vid and Vid II are the same person and it overlaps in places but it’s like there is a split. This Vid exists (when I get to her stories) and that Vid exists, and never the twain shall meet. I’m not even sure if “my” universe Vid even met Rades. (I know, my previous fiction with Millya and Vid specifically states that she did). It’s all a bit confusing so there may be contradictions like that. I’ll do my best, though. I sometimes whine about missing being on an RP server (enough that my friends are probably sick of it) but I’m just not sure I have the time to devote myself to playing on a server other than my main one often enough to meet people and be a presence. This is something I can do on my own time though and so I’ll give it a shot here.

I should also mention that I owe a debt of gratitude to my husband, Voss, who agreed to let me share some of our stories with a wider audience. At least half of any given story is his and I’m going to edit them very respectfully to stay true to the spirit of his characters as well.

Sugar Draenei Cookies How-To

 

Millyawithcookies

I saw that these little “person” cookies are an Azeroth tradition! But I don’t want little human person cookies, I want draenei cookies. With a few simple changes, you can also make little draenei cookies.

You will need:
1 batch of your favourite cutout cookie recipe (Gingerbread or sugar cookies work well, for this demo I used sugar cookies).
1 “gingerbread man” shaped cookie cutter preferably with rounded feet as shown below.

Cutters with rounded feet.

Cutters with rounded feet.

Other cutters look like this, and because of the shape of their feet/legs they wouldn’t work as well for these cookies. The one on the far left MIGHT work but has a more pronounced heel than I’d prefer. The other ones, no.

Don't ask me why I have so many little person cutters, or why the last one looks like a chalk line incident.

Don’t ask me why I have so many little person cutters, or why the last one looks like a chalk line incident.

A bit of flour in a small bowl
Rolling pin
Sharp knife (like a paring knife)
2 parchment paper lined baking sheets
Small spatula for moving cookies

For decorating:
Batch of either buttercream or royal icing
Candies, sprinkles, etc. Specifically for these cookies I used confetti for the eyes/buttons, white sanding sugar for outfit cuffs, and red sanding sugar for the bodies.
Food coloring – if you want really intense colours you will need the paste type colouring such as Wilton makes. I used Cornflower Blue, Red Red, and Black.
Paper plates (if you’re going to use sanding sugar)

The next part of what you’ll need depends on how you intend to decorate. If you are going to use Royal Icing, I highly recommend you use little squeeze bottles (found at Michaels or other craft stores). You’ll also need meringue powder which you can find in a kitchen store or at Michaels, and a little icing spatula for spreading the icing. I’ll have a section specifically about Royal Icing later on.

If you’re just using regular buttercream, you’ll need a piping bag and at least one round tip. You can do the whole “sandwich bag with the tip snipped” trick if you’re in a pinch, but it’s not going to give great results for detailed decorating.

Okay, now comes the fun part! You’ve got your area all ready:

Note the little bowl of flour.

Note the little bowl of flour.

Your baking sheets are also ready to go:

This sugar cookie recipe didn't make very much dough.

This sugar cookie recipe didn’t make very much dough.

Great! So flour your rolling surface, also flour your rolling pin a little bit, and roll out your dough to 1/4″ thickness. Use your cookie cutter to cut out a little person shape.

cookiecutting

Have Voss take a photo that turns out blurry because you are as fast as lightning.

Okay, so you’ve got your little person shape. Ordinarily this is the part where you’d just drop it on the baking sheet, but you’re not going to do that yet. Take your sharp knife that I mentioned before. Now cut a triangle out of the bottom of the cookie’s feet. Like so:

Repeat on the other side.

Repeat on the other side.

Now you have to make a decision. Are you making a lady or a dude draenei cookie? If you are making a dude, take your sharp knife and cut just a sliver of cookie off the top of his head so that it forms a point! If you are making a lady, move your cookie to the baking sheet for the next step.

Lady is on the left, dude on the right.

Lady is on the left, dude on the right.

This is what your cookie will look like if you are making a lady draenei.

This is what your cookie will look like if you are making a lady draenei.

Okay, so you’ve got your draenei cookie onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look great on the surface (like mine, which had a weird ugly bit. This dough was dryer than other sugar cookies I have made. Icing hides a multitude of sins). If your cookie is a lady, she’s still missing something! You have an option here: 1) Use the triangles you cut from her feet to make the horns, or 2) cut shapes from scraps to make the horns. I’ve done it both ways, and either way is fine. If you cut them, it’ll look like this:

You can cut round shapes too if your knifework is good, or you can just gently round the triangles.

You can cut round shapes too if your knifework is good, or you can just gently round the triangles.

Now attach your horns gently to your draenei’s head by setting them alongside in the appropriate place, and gently smoothing between the two pieces with your fingers. Gently round them if desired, or leave them straight if that’s the style of horn you’d prefer. At this stage your cookie should look like this:

It doesn't matter if the horns aren't exactly perfect, as they should smooth out a bit while baking.

It doesn’t matter if the horns aren’t exactly perfect, as they should smooth out a bit while baking.

Bake your cookies at the temperature and for as long as your recipe directs. Watch them carefully, especially sugar cookies are pretty delicate and the small parts (like horns) will tend to brown very quickly. Here you can see two of my cookies after baking. This was a new recipe for sugar cookies I was trying, and they browned a bit more than I would’ve liked.

Lady draenei on the left, dude on the right.

Lady draenei on the left, dude on the right.

Hooray! Your cookies are baked. Let them cool on the baking sheet for awhile. You don’t want them to be at all warm when you go to start decorating. While they’re cooling, you can make your icing and get your decorating stuff ready! Now, you have some choices here as outlined above. I’m going to show you some examples of how I have decorated these cookies before we get into the step-by-step.

gingerdraenei

IMG_0036

These are the gingerbread draenei I made a few years back. I used a plain, white buttercream icing to just draw them on there. You can see this method requires some drawing ability. If you aren’t confident doing that, this might not be the best method for you. BUT, you could use buttercream icing to still make a really nice cookie, just simpler. I’ve never done that personally because I like to make my life complicated, but here’s an example of other, non-draenei cookies I have decorated:

gingerbreadmen

See, there’s no reason you couldn’t take this and apply it to a draenei cookie. Do a simple little smiley face, use icing to cement some M&M’s in place, and you have a cute, festive little draenei cookie. So don’t let the elaborate decorating methods intimidate you! The next part of this demo is what I would consider “advanced.” It isn’t for the faint of heart, and you should have some decorating experience if you’re going to do it. Or you’ll tear your hair out and be mad at me (please don’t). Here’s what the cookies look like when decorated with royal icing.

DSC_2700

They aren’t perfect (I’d never used this icing before either!) and I have learned a few things I’d do differently for next time.

Decorating your cookies with Royal Icing
Royal icing is a very different beast from regular, buttercream icing. It’s runnier, and the best way to apply it is using little squeeze bottles rather than a piping bag. The advantage of it is that it gives you that puffy, smooth icing look that you can’t really get from another kind of icing. The method behind using royal icing is actually pretty simple – you first outline an area you want to be a specific colour. (Looking at my cookies above, one hand would be an area, or the faces). Then you fill the area with icing, and use a small spatula to smooth it out. At this point if you want any special effects or decoratings (like the sanding sugar on the draenei’s cuffs) you sprinkle that on. Then you let that colour dry and move on to another cookie. By the time you come back to the first cookie to add a second colour, your icing is dry and won’t run together. There are wet-on-wet ways of using the icing too but I didn’t employ any of those. If you want to see some demos in action, Sweet Dani B has some good ones on her Youtube channel. I also linked to her royal icing recipe earlier.

If you’re using royal icing, I’d recommend after you mix it up (one batch makes a lot) put it into bowls and make the colours you know you’ll need. Then, take a sandwich bag and put it over a mug. Scoop your coloured icing into the bag and then seal the bag. Snip a tiny tip of the icing bag and put the tip in an empty squeeze bottle. Slooowly squeeze to get the icing into the bottle. Then use the provided bottle tip to cover it. I had some issues with my icing by the time I was finished in terms of consistency – you can see that the grey parts on the cookies are not as smooth as they should’ve been. This is because it had dried out somewhat and I should have thinned it. Live and learn! But if you put your icing in the bottles all at the beginning, that should keep it from drying out.

The hardest part of decorating the cookies this way is planning out where areas of colour will be. Don’t be afraid to draw yourself a diagram beforehand if that helps. I’m pretty confident just winging it but you don’t have to do it that way.

Smoothing out icing with the spatula.

Smoothing out icing with the spatula.

I skipped a step for this photo. For the first step (to make cookies like mine) take plain white royal icing and squeeze it onto the areas you would like to be the sparkly cuffs of their outfits. Holding the cookie over a paper plate, liberally sprinkle it with white sanding sugar over the areas you iced. Shake it a little bit or brush it with your fingers to remove excess sugar. Allow to dry.

Once the white on your cookies is dry, start with the “skin” or blue! Be sure to have your candies ready if you are using them for any facial features (eyes, etc.)

Outlining.

Outlining.

Now pipe the outline of the area you want to ice. I left a chunk empty across her head because I want to put hair there.

Fill.

Fill.

“Fill” or flood the area you outlined. This is just a rough step, you don’t have to literally fill the entire surface area. Just enough so that when you smooth it out with your spatula, it should look nice.

Smoothing.

Smoothing.

Now smooth the icing. Once you’ve done this with all of your draenei, they’ll look something like this:

Getting there!

Getting there!

I waited until the blue was mostly dry before adding a bit of white to make mouths. That part was tricky, which explains why some of them look like they are making faces. At this point I could move on to their outfits, because there wasn’t any place where blue would be touching (except for the one draenei who had face tentacles, I left him for last just for that reason.

icing06

Proceed just like you did with the blue to do the inner red part. Outline, fill, and smooth. I found that getting the right red colour was really hard, so I also added red sanding sugar at this stage to make their outfits a bit redder. My mistake here was that I did it after I’d added buttons, so some of the buttons got a bit covered by sanding sugar. The neat thing though is that as long as your other colours are dry, the sugar will not stick to either white or blue areas. So you can have different sections with different effects very easily!

I stopped taking progress photos at this point because it was getting late and I was tired. But all I did was proceed to add grey/black hair to each hoof area and each head. Except the male draenei, I guess they are bald in this case because I didn’t leave room to give them hair!

DSC_2705

Worth noting for this guy – I made his tentacles rings by just squeezing a bit of white icing in a line and then sprinkling with golden sparkles. All of the other colours were dry, of course!

DSC_2710

So in the end, this was a worthwhile cookie experiment. I already knew I could make draenei cookies from previous years, I just wanted to make them better. If you’re going to do these, keep in mind that making them draenei does add some time. I didn’t keep track of how long I spent doing this, but the decorating was probably at least two hours.

Now I don’t know what to do with these cookies. I can’t bring myself to eat them. (This happened the first year I made them, too). You could probably adapt any of these instructions to make your favourite WoW race – cut a triangle out of the feet and then round it and you have a troll’s two toes! Change the type of horns and use brown sanding sugar and you could have a Tauren. If you make these or any type of similar WoW cookie, please let me know! I’d love to see them. Also, if you have any questions or if something is unclear, please comment to let me know and I’ll try to answer as best I can.

Tuesday Art Day: Millya

A weekly tradition that I’d let fall by the wayside a little. I’ve been feeling lately that in-between From Draenor and my other work, I really want to draw with tools that aren’t digital. Unfortunately, my studio looks like a bomb went off and I haven’t seen the top of my drafting desk in years. Anyway, that can’t prevent me from doing small sketches in charcoal and other media until I can get things cleaned up, such as this one. I’ll admit to doing a bit of digital touching up before uploading, although it was mostly in the vein of trying to recover detail I felt was lost in the scan. I feel like Manalicious should have some kind of slogan related to my draenei. “A draenei a day…?” No, I don’t even know, honestly. But it’s always fun to draw my characters. Especially since Voss tends to quiz me about it.

“Oh, what are you drawing there?”

“Millya.”

“Oh. And who is your MAIN?”

“Millya.”

“Good. You better keep answering that question correctly!”

(That might sound harsh, but he does have good historical reason for keeping me on the straight and narrow in this regard).

Unfamiliar Stars [Fiction]

This is a story for Big Bear Butt’s writing challenge! I have been behind on my blog reading and I very nearly missed it but hopefully I slipped in under the wire. The challenge was to write anything, making sure to include a few specific words. If you’re at all interested in a bit of fiction, you might enjoy the following, otherwise feel free to skip this one. Check BBB’s blog for a post with comments from all the participants.

I’ve never posted any of my fiction writings here, but in the spirit of taking part in the challenge I’m happy to do so.

A gentle hush fell over the city towards this hour. It was not quite fully night but the day had already surrendered, the sun slipping into the sea to reveal the twin moons of Azeroth. It was still strange to her, even after years of living here. She unconsciously scanned the night sky seeking one familiar star, and finding none. These were not the stars of her youth. The atmosphere of this adopted planet, new home to her people, lay far from their last home. She doubted they could find their way here a second time. She smiled to herself as she walked. Even if her people still had a functioning ship, there were few confident in their ability to pilot or steer it. How did that joke go? “Three draenei walk into a bar…no, literally…”

Millya wasn’t great at remembering Azerothian jokes, except that one. She made it a point to memorize relevant cultural markers, tidbits of information that could help her relate to the people of Azeroth. She knew the name of grape varieties grown in Elwynn, the chief exports of Dun Morogh, and the greeting rituals of the Kaldorei, but pop culture was usually outside her milieu. She enjoyed the quiet twilight as she walked, her hooves making a familiar sound on the cobbled streets. Everyone seemed to be taking the time to relax lately. The immediate threat to the world had been dealt with, for the time being, finally allowing reprieve for its citizens to pick up the pieces. The Cataclysm had taken its toll, there was no doubt of that. The streets weren’t crowded at this time as they might once have been – shops closed up and many of Stormwind’s inhabitants were at home enjoying an evening meal or already abed. She passed torch after torch, and they gave off a sort of friendly glow, keeping the paths from being too dark as evening fell. She appreciated that. Even partial light was better than none at all.

She paused as raucous noise came from up ahead. The door to an inn burst open, spilling light and noise into the street. The dark-haired mage frowned and squinted into the shadows as several figures emerged. Some of them shouted angrily, and it was hard to make out exactly what they said, but caught up along with them was another silhouette. Tall and slender, with a distinctive spread of horns. Millya groaned inwardly, thinking it couldn’t possibly be her, it couldn’t…

“You’re just mad,” a strident voice crowed triumphantly, “Because you know I could drink you under the table any day of the week and still kick your ass without breaking a sweat!” Millya briefly closed her eyes. There was no mistaking the voice.

The group of men and human women seemed to close in on the speaker. Millya thought she could hear the sound of some combat from within the tavern, more shouting amid the sound of colliding bodies and even the distinctive snap of breaking wood. She walked quickly closer, deciding in a moment that she had an obligation to intervene if there was any risk. As she drew closer, a pale-skinned draenei woman was revealed by the torch in front of the inn. Her would-be assailants seemed wary about pushing the matter, as she raised her fists and her lips pulled back from sharp incisors in a savage grin.

“C’mon then, what’s the matter?” the second draenei minced a few steps closer, half-swinging a taunting jab at one of the men. From the way he flinched back, he’d had some experience with that fist already.

“OY!” a voice roared from within the inn. A few more patrons scattered before some unseen threat before he crossed the threshold. A burly dwarf with a shock of astounding red hair emerged to stand framed in the doorway. His dirty apron revealed him as the proprietor of the tavern, but his authority was cemented by the gigantic crossbow he was pointing in their direction. He looked down the shaft of a thick quarrel with one eye, his stance menacing.

“I don’ suppose,” he said in a conversational tone, “Tha’ any of ye know what migh’ have caused summat kind of explosion just then?” He lifted his prominent shaggy brows in an inquiring manner, looking around at the group in a way that would have been comical if not for the accompanying crossbow and implied threat. Millya straightened and cleared her throat, causing the dwarf to look towards her.

“Well, Missy Hoofs?” he asked. “D’ye have some insight inta what manner of demon it was that caused me fire to belch purple an’ green, scaring me patrons half to death, spreading hither an’ yon, an’ causing at least one keg to explode halfway to Ironforge?”

She regarded him mildly with glowing eyes. “I’m certain, Master Dwarf, that any manner of an accident causing your fire to emit purple, green–” the mage was cut off as the taller draenei next to her interjected.

“And yellow,” she added helpfully.

Millya and the dwarf both turned to look at her, one in dawning horror and the other with eyes narrowed in suspicion.

“There was definitely yellow, it was a bit hard to notice due to the colour of the fire itself, but it was there.” The dwarf barked a sound that might have been a yell, a laugh, or something in-between.

“All of ye! Get out of ‘ere, an’ I don’t want to see the lot of ye again!” The dwarf’s face was slowly turning a colour to rival the brilliance of his hair. “Take your hooves, an’ yer tails, an’ yer explosions somepleace else an’ don’ ye ever come back!”

Millya stepped forward and took the other draenei by the elbow, turning her firmly even as she murmured reassuring words to the dwarf. The taller draenei initially resisted, trying in vain to turn back to the cluster of humans and dwarf. To what end, Millya wasn’t sure – to finish the fight? Offer to further demonstrate the fireworks? People scurried in all directions as the irate dwarf began waving the crossbow again, and by that time Millya had her charge halfway down the street. They stopped under a street lamp, the bedraggled draenei wrenching herself free. Millya looked up at her, dark eyebrows slamming down on a disapproving face.

“Vidyala,” Millya hissed between clenched teeth, all signs of the diplomatic peacekeeper gone, “What in Velen’s name was that all about?” Her frown deepened. “Are you hurt?”

Vid brushed brown hair out of her face, looking at Millya cheerfully. One of her eyes was slowly purpling and looked slightly swollen. A thin trickle of blue blood had congealed under her split lip, revealing that at least a few of the humans had landed some solid hits. “They got the worst of it!” She assured the other draenei. “There was no need to rush me out of there, you know, I was doing fine.” She dusted herself off as she spoke, looking down in sudden dismay at the goggles around her neck. “Shit,” she said in a muffled tone, her chin pressed almost to her chest. I think they broke ‘em.” Millya noted her knuckles were dirty and similarly bruised.

“Anyway, those Darkmoon fireworks worked just as I expected! I bet that human ten gold that he couldn’t snatch them out of the fire quick enough if I threw them in, HE said he could, and that some troll had taught him to firewalk…Guess that only works if it’s your feet and not your hands!”

A look of sudden dismay crossed her face. “Hey, he didn’t pay me, I’ve got to go back there!” Millya’s face stopped her mid-stride and she amended quickly, “Well, it was only ten gold.” The abrupt turn seemed to set her swaying. It took a fair amount of alcohol to affect draenei with their larger sizes and constitutions than humans, but clearly imbibing had played a part in Vid’s evening. “Say, I don’t feel so great…” Vid lurched past Millya, almost landing in a neat row of shrubbery. She bent over double and abruptly vomited into the bushes, an event that was uncomfortably juicy and lasted for several minutes.

Millya sighed heavily, murmuring an incantation and wordlessly handing Vidyala a canteen of conjured water when she was finished. She guided her towards a nearby bench and they both sat down – Millya with her hooves crossed at the ankle, Vid with her legs sprawling nearly into the street. Vid swigged the water, Millya imagining her complexion to be faintly green. They sat in silence for a long moment, expressions hidden in the dim light.

“What am I supposed to tell your father?” Millya asked finally.

Vid snorted. “Tell him what you want! Tell him I invented a new kind of firework,” she brightened, “Actually that’s not strictly true, but it will be sometime. You know, there’s something about the mix of powder that you put inside of them that really makes the difference.”

The older draenei heaved a sigh, tapping a finger against her chin. She ignored Vid’s chatter, as she usually did, and said finally, “And should I tell him at the same time that you’ve been seen consorting with an orc?”

This time she had Vid’s attention; and she actually turned to face her. She sat up straighter and her tone was chilly. “How would you know anything about my friends, orc or otherwise?”

Millya shook her curly hair in disbelief. “People have seen you with him, Vidyala. People talk. Dalaran is full of people who talk, and mages are some of the worst! What are you thinking? What would your father say?”

Vid stood abruptly, unfolding long limbs from the bench to tower over Millya. She crossed her arms. The effect was only slightly spoiled when she appeared to sway slightly, unsteadily on her hooves. “People talk,” she agreed in a sardonic tone, “Entirely too much. So I have a friend who happens to be an orc, so what? He wasn’t even born on Draenor, he happens to be a fellow engineer, and we’re colleagues, because unlike some people, I don’t judge others based on whether or not they have hooves or a tail.”

The mage drew breath to respond, but the younger draenei forestalled her with a wave of her hand. “I know what you’re going to say!” Her voice took on the pedantic, slightly mocking tone of someone who was repeating phrases often heard. “It’s important for us to integrate. We shouldn’t forget our past. We aren’t like the other people here, and they don’t trust us. Well, you know what? I am integrating, and I’m sure as fel not forgetting the past. I lived it too, remember? But you have to start by trusting someone. How will they ever trust us if we don’t trust them first?”

“And I suppose that brawling in the taverns like a common ruffian is helping the cause?”

Vid met her stepmother glare for glare. “Yeah,” she spat back. “It is, because respect starts somewhere, and nobody gets to hit me without expecting a fist back in the face. We may be taught to turn the other cheek but that doesn’t mean we can’t land a second punch.” She brushed away imaginary dust from her tunic and spun on her hoof with calculated dramatic effect. Her stomach rumbled audibly, which she chose to stiffly ignore, although her cheeks each had a high spot of blue colour.

“So, go ahead and tell my father. Tell him I’m friends with a hundred orcs, and some gnomes, worgen and humans, too. And if he wants to talk about it, I’m going to find another tavern.”

She left the aqua-skinned draenei behind, rubbing her temples wearily. The night’s peaceful calm had been shattered for her, and she sat a long time in the semi-darkness, before resuming her walk back towards the part of the city where its few draenei inhabitants lived. Some time later, when she lay down to sleep beside her partner, he questioned her quietly.

“You seem preoccupied. Is something wrong?”

“No, nothing,” she lied. Satisfied, he fell asleep, but her luminous eyes cast a gentle glow over the room for some hours afterwards.

Then and Now

Recently thanks to the “Sixth” meme Gnomeageddon started, most of us have had occasion to delve into our screenshot folders. Today, Hya from Gkick posted an old and a new screenshot of her character on Twitter. (Her guild, Northrend Travel Agency, is also recruiting! Check ‘em out. /plug)

When I saw her images I thought, what a great idea! This is something I find endlessly fascinating in real life, too. My Mom and I bored Voss just a few weeks ago while we pored over old photos for three hours. I wondered, how would an old image of my main character look alongside a new one?

"Milya," circa 2008.

"Millya," 2012

Because this character screen image was the best one I had of Millya from the time, I used the same set-up for my new image, too. What strikes me most is actually the changes in my computer set-up – I started playing on a laptop at something like 6 FPS not knowing how awful it was. My character used to move across the screen in cities as if she were underwater. Now I have a 24″ widescreen monitor and a rig with the graphics turned up to max. I think the difference is pretty evident.

What stayed the same: Millya hasn’t changed in appearance since her creation. I have sometimes sat down at the barber shop and toyed with the idea of giving her new hair, but never went through with it. Same with her horns, which are ginormous. When I made her I said, “If I am going to have horns, by god they are going to be the biggest horns I could possibly have.” I think they are grand. So Millya herself hasn’t changed at all, although is it my imagination, or does she somehow look more confident in the more recent photo? Anyway, in essence she hasn’t changed.

What DID change: Millya used to be Milya with a single “L.” You’ll also notice a different “moon” based server there; she was ‘born’ on Moon Guard but now lives on Moonrunner. Obviously her gear now is different, although I am wearing a robe from the BC era (a recolour of a classic robe, actually). I have many more max-level characters listed in my character list. At the time, Millya was my one and only.

I also dug up some “birthday” shots for comparison!

Ding: 70!

Here I am dinging 70 in Netherstorm. I don’t even know what my action bars were doing, although I do know I used to switch between rows of bars using shift. Were my main nukes on another bar? Was I arcane, was I fire, was I frost? I had blast wave so I must have been fire…where are my fire nukes? I at least HAD a DPS meter by this point so I was aware that DPS existed. At 70 I was:

  • Learning what “dailies” were, going to the Isle of Quel’Danas for the first time (and quickly dubbing it the Isle of WTF)
  • Asking friends to help me do the Netherstorm intro so that I could get a Netherwing Drake, clearly the best mount EVER and I was enamored with it
  • Going to Karazhan for my first raid ever
  • Running heroics with my little group of friends, polymorphing all the things and wiping in Magister’s Terrace
  • Attending guild meetings most weeks because I was in an RP guild
  • Going to Alterac Valley as a fire mage to try to get the best PvP staff ever (better for PvE than anything out of Kara, too)

Ding: 80!

I finished up level 80 in the Storm Peaks, doing the Thorim chain that would eventually unlock the Sons of Hodir. I see that I still wasn’t using a bar addon at that time, although I know I was Frost and at least I have my main Frost nukes on there. I played with Frost a bit towards the end of BC and had decided to level with it when Wrath came out. At 80 I ran with a FFB/elemental build for awhile and then went fire, and later played arcane. At 80 I was:

  • Racing to get to 80 as quickly as possible; Voss and I had “left-behind” syndrome from Burning Crusade and wanted to hit the ground running and get to 80 ahead of the pack
  • Blown away by the storytelling and immersive questing and environments (I took tons of screenshots from our first Nexus, and the Wrathgate)
  • Raiding Naxx and EoE and OS and tons of heroics
  • Questing to get Loremaster
  • Leveling tons of alts, most of my alts were created at this time, including the “Pugging Pally”
  • Leaving my server to join our first “serious raiding guild,” also my last and current serious raiding guild
  • Getting a meta mount for the first time in Ulduar
  • Leading a guild and later earning the Bane of the Fallen King title, still the title I am most proud of to this day

Ding: 85!

I think my UI changed the most from Wrath to Cataclysm, probably because I started to raid “seriously” then and really worked to try to fine-tune it. I know it looks a bit jumbly in the bar area; the 3×4 rectangle on the right are keys bound to my Razer Naga. Stuff on the bottom two bars are things I don’t use as often, like Frostbolt for snares (in Fire spec) etc. At 85 I was:

  • Impressed by how difficult the initial heroics and raids were
  • Fishing up a storm so we could learn how to make feasts
  • Enjoying guild perks and making sure to run more instances with guildies to get guild experience
  • Struggling to recruit and realizing that I needed a bit of a break
  • Scaling back to “casual” raiding one night a week, loving it and the group of folks I play with
  • Being able to raid across servers with friends, or just run a five man or two!

It’s interesting to think about what I was wearing in the different “birthday” shots. Within seconds of hitting 70 I’d put on the Spellfire set I’d lovingly crafted in preparation. At level 80 I was wearing level 80 blues and greens; I am pretty sure at 85 I had at least one tailored piece (probably pants) but still had to do a long dungeon/heroic grind to gear up. I think the UI shots probably reveal more about the difference between my character and my playing four years ago and now. I didn’t actually choose the “oldest” image of Millya I had, mostly because they are all shots from behind. (It only later occurred to me to spin her around to have her face in any photos, so I have a screenshot of draenei butt, which is alright but not always excellent photography).

I think part of the reason I like transmogrification so much is because it allows the current-day reality of a character to revisit different times. After all, mostly the only thing that has changed about my character is her gear. I could wear what she is wearing in that shot again, if I wanted to! Although in this case I don’t think I will, I’m afraid I might find it an ill-fitting old dress – better remembered in images than reality! (Even when the reality you’re discussing is virtual…)

Finally, it’s your turn! Post your new and old character screenshots side by side. Try to take them in the same place (if you can), or just pick whichever ones you want. Include your “birthday” images if you’d like! Write about what has changed, and what’s still pretty much the same. Then let me know if you did, and I’ll gather the links together. I am a sucker for walks down memory lane, let me see your old “photos!” If you don’t want to blog about it or don’t have a blog, you can also post screenshots on Twitter and include the hashtag #wowthenandnow just so folks can see ‘em. Meantime, don’t laugh at my UI, we all have to start somewhere!

Participants:

Apple Cider Mage

Orcish Army Knife

Dancing Runes

Water Bender

Power Word: What?

Info About WoW From The Altoholic

Warcraft of the Worlds

Need More Rage

Jaedia’s Menagerie

I Like Bubbles

Kamalia et Alia

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