Thursday, February 12, 2015

4.27. The Race

"Tauren Warrior"
Artwork by TamplierPainter


I hope you get cancer and die.

The worst part of being a pack rat is the conscious awareness of your irrational emotional attachment to garbage. Whether facing a full bank in game or an inordinate collection of very important things in your computer room, sensibility wracks you with guilt. All signs point to the dumpster, yet you find ways to justify why cutting your refuse loose would be a bad idea. Textbook excuses are your crutch: a lack of time needed to organize, no guarantee you'll ever come across the item again, a hypothetical future need. Justifications only bury the core issue: an inability to admit defeat. It is the notion that you, at one point of sound mind and body, held a noble, rational argument for its value, seeing in it what others could not. And with a bit of effort, you could extract that diamond from a pile of filthy coal. You just needed to care enough.

Being unable to admit defeat convinces you that a diamond exists somewhere in your coal mine, so you continue to dig and dig, unaware that there is no mine at all...just a hole in the earth you dig for yourself.


Check your fucking facts, you piece of shit.

One of my newest members, inspired by the camaraderie he experienced as a member of Descendants of Draenor, brought an idea to me one afternoon.

"Well, I was thinking. I'd like to set something up, a race of sorts. Maybe something like from Thunder Bluff to Orgrimmar. Get everybody together that's interested and have them roll a brand new tauren and see who can make it to Orgrimmar first. Winner could get some gold, enchants, gems, things like that. Do you think that would be a fun event?"

"Absolutely. I'm sure a bunch of people would be interested in participating. In fact, let me sweeten the deal: I'll match the award. Whatever you are able to throw in for the winner, we'll double up by pulling from the guild vault."

"Wow, that would really be great! Thanks, I'm gonna go make a post about it now."

Following the forum post detailing out the date, time, and the rules for participating, an update to the guild Message of the Day caused word to spread rapidly. Some guild members even offered to add to the award pool without even being asked to. I watched the outpouring of generosity from our auction house players, and was proud of the melting pot of players who called DoD their home.

You don't have a clue what you're doing, do you? DoD is a joke, lol.

The day of the race arrived; a herd of naked cows perched at the top of Thunder Bluff's southwestern elevator. I watched the countdown in guild chat, and when the virtual gunshot fired, they were off: a blur of bovines stampeding through the green plains of Mulgore. The racers maintained a pack formation, following the path that slowly veered in a southeasterly direction, with their sights set on breaching The Great Gate, a defensive wall constructed by the tauren in response to Camp Taurajo's decimation. Beyond the gate, the relative safety of the freshly rolled characters could not longer be guaranteed.
"Shaman Draenei"
Artwork by Nadou

High Steaks

Though it is contested territory, the wide-open plains of the Barrens has long been considered Horde owned. From Vanilla through Wrath, Horde outposts stood diligently at select points along the outskirts of the arid savanna. Nearly all of the action ever faced in the zone took place at the Crossroads, a northern trade town connecting four distinct roads that lead northward to Ashenvale, westward to the Stonetalon Peaks, southward to the Thousand Needles via Razorfen territory, and eastward, for those bound for the Horde capital. Pockets of Alliance insurgents would make their random attacks, sneaking onto ships bound for Ratchet, or driving a southern charge via Dustwallow Marsh -- their geographic liaison to Theramore. These pushes would never last, and the Horde would rightfully put them in their place.

When the Cataclysm hit the Barrens, the dominance of the Horde receded. A gaping fiery tear in the land stretched entirely from western to eastern edges of the Barrens, cutting the Horde off and preventing them from effectively defending the southern, less protected areas. The Alliance moved quickly to take control of those southern points, setting up defenses at Fort Triumph and Forward Command. And ensuring that they remained the honorable, righteous faction they claimed to be, the Alliance slaughtered the undefended Camp Taurajo, to demonstrate how truly powerful and noble they were. This tear came to be known as The Great Divide, and is the reason the Horde lost its foothold over the zone.

Ask anybody and they’ll back me up. I had nothing to do with it.

DoD's freshly rolled cows passed through the remnants of Camp Taurajo, and within moments, the herd of cattle had dispersed. Now in hotly contested territory, imminent danger forced them to rethink. Running blinding through the Southern Barrens not only risked inadvertently aggroing high level mobs, any Alliance present for questing would most certainly jump at the chance to kill a naked tauren. Each racer had their own idea about the most effective route, and sticking together was no longer a winning strategy.

Mobs and leveling Alliance were the least of their worries.

After spending a few minutes trying to decide how to get through the Overgrowth, an area of rich vegetation now lining the borders of the The Great Divide, the naked cows made their way northward. Most had avoided death by this point; the race was still anyone's game. Within moments of passing through Vendetta Point, a new threat stood in their path. A level 85 draenei shaman, draped entirely in PvP gear, hopped off her flying mount, drew both weapons, and proceeded to brutalize the racers, wasting them in a frenzy of windfury. The tauren never had a chance.

Warnings spammed guild chat; the racers responded and adjusted as best they could. The draenei was out for blood, mounted quickly after each subsequent killing, scouting quickly in the direction of the nearest graveyard, waiting for the players' imminent release so the harassment could continue unabated.

At first, it was an interesting challenge to overcome. Perhaps the racers would find a way to stagger their re-spawns, or temporarily form allegiances to work together in mutual distraction. If they could at least make it to the Overgrowth, it could potentially provide some cover from a distance. It's the kind of optimism and hope you only see from the truly dedicated, those who make a habit of getting blood from a stone. 

These tactics were futile. 

It became obvious very quickly that a max level character with a flying mount had all the necessary tools to keep lvl 1 characters from moving only a few steps before turning them into ghosts. The "interesting challenge" quickly devolved into full-on harassment. It went on for an hour, yet the worst was yet to come.

OMG you are the worst guild leader on Deathwing. How's that feel?

A Real Team Player

Zedman was the first to whisper me about the lesser known details behind the draenei shaman.

"Did you know that there's a shaman out there that's killing and camping the racers?"

"Sadly, yes."

"You know who it is, right?"

"No, who?"

"It's Sentra's brother."

I rested my elbows on the desk and massaged my temples.

"You're kidding me."

"Wish I was. That shaman is Sentra's brother over on the Alliance side, well known gankers. They show up in Deathwing forum threads a lot. Sentra's feeding him positioning."

I popped open the guild roster. Sentra was online. I noted his position in the world: Southern Barrens. Un-fucking-believable.

[To: Sentra] Are you telling your brother to attack the racers?

[From: Sentra] Nope.

I took a deep breath.

[To: Sentra] Think it through. Are you absolutely certain this is the answer you want to give me?

[From: Sentra] Whatever.

I scrolled to Sentra's name in the roster, highlighted it, and clicked the Remove from Guild button. Miscellaneous cheers filled guild chat shortly after, with a few random whispers arriving to the tune of "Thank God" and "About Damn Time". 

All the effort I put into trying to see the good side of an otherwise d-bag player -- the long, late night arena matches, the wasted discussions on giving your word and sticking to it in an attempt to pave a path for him into the progression raid, the energy spent on giving him some credit long after others had written him off -- was gone instantly in the press of a button.

Sentra was furious. He demanded that I speak to him about it in Vent. I obliged, but his volatile, scathing rants brought nothing new to the table, nothing I didn't already know. Accusations littered with profanity and abuse told the tale of how I had no evidence and how there was no specific rule banning this kind of behavior anyway. I made it clear to him that all the evidence I needed was the knowledge of his presence in the Southern Barrens conveniently lining up with his brother's rampage. And as for the absence of a rule explicitly stating that a "guild member should not harass other guild members with malice"...I told him to go fuck himself.

You better hope I never come to Denver, because if I do, I'll be paying you and your family a visit.

Shortly after the kick/ban from Vent, he took to phone texting; we had exchanged numbers early on in our Arena history. Every few minutes another SMS message arrived, expressing curiosity as to acquisition of various diseases, telling me how incompetent I was, how hated I was on Deathwing-US, how I had no facts in the case, didn't know what I was doing, and how my guild was a joke. He even tossed in a classy threat of violence as icing on the cake. I wouldn't put it past him; if he could knock out a stranger's front teeth, I'm sure he'd pull no punches in giving me some free dental work.

The harassment from Sentra's brother extended past the end of the race, long after the awards were handed out, and we got on with our lives. Sentra, meanwhile, couldn't get on with his. Message after message caused my phone to continue to buzz, saying the same thing over and over, just in slightly different ways -- pathetic, empty threats from a troll with no ability to separate game from reality. Eventually, I stopped looking at it.


Late that evening, long after the kids were tucked in and Jul was resting comfortably in bed, I wrapped up a few more job submissions, /waved goodnight to the guild and headed upstairs. It was only a few moments after my head hit the pillow that a final SMS message arrived, vibrating my phone out of slumber. I rolled over, squinting in the dark to read the message glowing out of the screen.

Please let me back in the guild. This is all I have.

"Who is it?" Jul asked, stirring from her sleep.

I put the phone down on the nightstand, and rolled back to my pillow.

"Nobody important."


Moorawr said...

As one of the runner's bodyguards that showed up to help during the ordeal, I recall the great race going to Stormwind.

In addition to that, Sentra's brother was actually Horde and in DoD at the start of Cata and up to at least a day or two before the race. I remember being surprised to find out it was Too back on Alliance when I showed up. It wouldn't be surprising if he was bored with Horde, saw the race in the MOTD and thought ganking them all would be something cool and an excuse to go back.

It also didn't help that there were DoD spectators, which gave away positions. It personally was easy to catch up and locate the runners when I showed up to help thanks to them. And among the spectators, I recall there being ex-Alliance DoD who I don't recall helping all that much on the ground either.

While I don't know if Sentra was completely innocent or not, there was definitely a possibility he was, however remote it may seem. Most were already prejudiced against him and that was inflamed by heat of the moment. Innocent or not, it did seem to me that he was a victim of a witchhunt at that point.

Some things still bother me about that day. The weeks following, I had gotten messages from Alliance DoDers (one of which who knew him IRL) asking what the heck we did to leave him so broken. I also find it strange that he'd be holding onto the same grudge on you for 4+ years if it was simple trolling on his part. His brother, on the hand, seems to have shrugged that day off pretty easily.

Goldenrod said...

I agree with Moo that it IS possible Sentra was innocent in this matter, although I think it unlikely. Guiltless people do not pronounce their innocence and simultaneously invoke the non-existence of the rule in question. The only people who do this are petulant children.

Regardless, whether he was guilty in this particular instance or not, he was guilty of alot of other things. Namely a bad attitude, an inflated ego, a general disregard for the feelings of others, and a truly vitriolic vocabulary.

I am generally optimistic about people, and tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. Sentra was one of those guys that I just couldn't find anything to like about.

Although I was among those cheering the day he was kicked from DoD, I never knew this side of the story. The last text he sent gives some insight to his abysmal personality, but also makes me feel bad for him.

I'm optimistic that his removal from the guild gave him a chance to evaluate his soft skills and make some improvements. I wonder if anyone kept in touch with him after?

Dalans said...

I have to say, and full disclosure this is from quite a while ago and only from my personal experience, the only thing that surprised me about this was that last text that Sentra sent. I full would have expected him to stay committed to the "fuck you all" mentality in this situation.

Sentra was fully the character you think of when you think "PvP player." Some may consider that a more negative stereotype than others but I liken him a lot to Ouleg. An amusing person to hang with as long as you had no compunction about off-color jokes and could keep up. But if your goals didn't align and you didn't carry yourself with a certain amount of bravado coupled with a false nonchalance about the game, you might as well have been mortal enemies.

A similar thing happened with the screenshot scavenger hunt back around TBC era, in which Anni and Rettick decided to inject a bit of PvP in a race event. For anyone trying to complete the objective, it can become frustrating extremely quickly and we had to tell them to knock it off, which they obliged. Shame Sentra and his brother couldn't realize that it was past being amusing (to the group, I'm sure to them it was great) and find something else to do.

Mike Linton said...

Innocent or not... his reaction would have been all I needed to confirm that I had made a good decision to remove him from the guild.

Having a bad attitude, overwhelmingly poor language, and making negative or vitriolic comments to other guild members would earn a pretty quick ejection from my guilds. If I could imagine a cheer going up for someone being removed, then they almost certainly don't belong there.

Kelden said...

Even I think Sentra is a world class dbag. That's saying something. FWIW he did try to gank me in Nagrand a few weeks after WoD dropped and I sent him crying home to his Mommy, so he is still around.

Joredin said...

Oh, Sentra! I remember him from back in the days of Team Certified. He was definitely an acquired taste and required constant supervision in order to stay focused on the task at hand.

I never knew this side of the story, but frankly doesn't really surprise me. While I never had any bad experiences, I definitely recall that he was either Hot or Cold and never lukewarm. However, the rate at which he could change between the too became too much to bare.

I agree with GoldenRod and that innocent people don't scream for innocence then right after say how there wasn't a rule that was broken.

Rust Eclipse said...

It's been over a week since your last entry. Please type faster and thank you.

Shawn Holmes said...


Noted, and thank you for bearing with me. I'm hard at work on the next posts, but do not want them to go up before they are ready.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear Shawn, was starting to worry :D


GuiltieGaming said...

Oh Sentra... Sentra is the type of "friend" that I have zero problem shaking my head and laughing at time-and-time-again.

We knew each other through the same PvP circles and I knew that I was a polar opposite but could still get along with him--or rather--"put up with his bullshit".

There were two defining PvP personalities: The kind that were NEVER satisfied, brash, and crude (this kind of personality GENERALLY umbrella'd those consistently sitting 2.2K rating and under--back then). The other kind were reasonable, calm in most situations, and could be seen having a lot more fun in competitive matches (this kind of personality GENERALLY covered those consistently sitting 2.3k rating and above--back then).

I still hold the firm belief that, besides the few that fell between the cracks, the majority of the higher rated PvPers understood that to adapt to the ever-changing mechanics to be seen each patch they would need to keep a cool head and continue to work with others. Making matches fun in scenarios where the other personality type would just rage out and blow up on their teammates--that's what divided them.

Sentra was one type... I was the other...

He had done a LOT of questionable shit in 5mans and World PvP events--so when it had come out that he was ejected from DoD because of this I was not the least bit shocked. I actually started laughing once I heard (granted Shawn didn't think it was as comical as I did). I was amused at how he could just be so damned abrasive and expect zero consequences to befall him!

I still talk to Sentra every now and then. He hasn't changed a bit. But he is still good for a knee-jerk reaction and if I need to laugh at something over-the-top and crude! :D

Adrian Foekens said...

All this fuss over an entry level Nissan.