Thursday, September 24, 2015

4.47. The Sound and the Fury

DoD stands over a defeated Heroic: Chimaeron,
Blackwing Descent

Through the Fire and Flames

"Mature, again."


I clenched my teeth and steered Mature around the outer perimeter of Atramedes' gong room, the blind dragon taking flight for the second time. A narrow, laser-like beam of flame struck the floor behind me. The sparks followed my path, like a cutting torch, and closed in.

I much preferred Chimaeron, which had us nearly motionless until the end. One raid night earlier, DoD had defeated the hydra in Heroic mode in only two attempts. I’d like to think we were just that good. In reality, Chimaeron was horribly front-loaded with complexity. Mastering the normal mode was 90% of the fight. Atramedes was no different.

The raiders did ask for harder content!

True. But they didn't ask for some of the other allowances that went along with it.

From his vantage point high above the arena, the dragon could easily outpace me, swiveling faster than I could run. I was the loudest. The sloppiest. I ran past a priest, shaman and warlock, all lying face down.

Well, maybe not the sloppiest.

"Can somebody get those three people up?" Blain's voice rose only enough to command attention, keeping his disgust at bay.

Pulsating concentric circles burst out of the floor at random places, forcing me to dodge as I ran. The rest of the raid was no better off. The mix of sound rings and fire bursting from the floor kept this phase a few degrees south of a complete disaster, a digital obstacle course in which multitasking was a non-negotiable prerequisite. I felt like I was trying to outrun electricity.

The raid kept their chatting to a minimum. When select players spoke, they were calm and collected. It was the only way to maintain order amid chaos. Those who did well under pressure could update Blain. Those more prone to flipping out kept their finger off the 'push to talk' key. I was at the head of that list.

"Go ahead and head back now."

Atramedes flapped his great gray asphalt wings, then drew them inwards and he landed, specks of molten red maroon peering out between the cracks of scales across the creature’s body. I raced back to the tip of the key-shaped arena, resuming placement for phase one.

"Move quick, move quick."

Fractions of a second after arriving, the entire raid shifted to the right, a group of sound rings sailing towards our starting position.

"Got a lot of people with high sound right now," Jungard reported.


The dragon pivoted, spinning 180 degrees and targeting a boomkin, engulfing the player in a torrent of flames. Blackangus ran counterclockwise away from the group, only to collapse, moments later.

"So, there's no resses?" she asked.

I moved west with the group, ping-ponging back to our first position, a tactic that was necessary in mitigating sound increases while keeping the raid safe from Atramedes' burst of flames...the very flames which burnt Blackangus to a crisp, moments earlier. In my periphery, Raise Ally wasn't on cooldown.

"I have one, I can try it."

Before the words even left my lips, Blackangus was alive again, repositioning. Thinking on their feet, someone had already put her back into play. Only seconds passed before Vent lit up again with alerts. This time, it was a new mechanic to be wary of.

"Obnoxious Fiend is up."

The 25-Man progression team defeats Heroic: Atramedes,
Blackwing Descent

Beep Beep!

This additional distraction, new to the Heroic mode, gave the raid one more thing to have to deal with. Melee turned, and cleaved the creature into oblivion, interrupting any chances it had to scream out its location to Atramedes, increasing our sound levels and our susceptibility to attack.

"Again, they are highly stunnable. And they will not raise your sound if stunned," stated Amatsu. His matter-of-fact delivery had the underpinnings of a vet. Black and he had only been in the roster for several months, but like all star players, immediately made us feel like they’d been in DoD for years.

I dodged and weaved through a set of sonic pulses and bursts of flame, relieved that Atramedes had not chosen me a third time. The honor went to Littlebear for this third go at phase two. At least he was equipped with the tools necessary to outrun flame.

"Watch out, comin' through," Blain raised his voice again, "Beep Beep!"

Several players got a chuckle out of this rare comedic moment. We rushed back to the tip of the key. Here we go again. Keep it together.

A giant strip of fire burned directly through our starting spot. Common sense dictated that we could not resume our original position. Common sense…

"Starting...starting on green," I called out, trying to keep the same levelheadedness as Blain and the others, "be prepared to move in case there's a late…"

...a late buff?

I shut up.

It was time. We had to move back to the red X, but our floating marker was still doused in flame, roping it off.

"k, move to blue, move to blue," Blain called out. Blue square, slightly south of our west/east markers, was the emergency spot.

"It's dissipating," added Jungard. I glanced over to see the flames expiring.

"Ok. Move to red."

The roster resumed its position...but there was no dragon.

Amatsu, thinking ahead, pulled the blind dragon forward, giving us a slightly wider berth while navigating the narrow tip-of-the-key, now heavily doused with fire. But the dragon was out of reach. Move forward? Stay in place? This is where encounters...especially heroic ones...fall apart.

"Sonic Breath, Klocker."

We moved in two groups, melee up front and ranged/heals in the back, struggling to maintain the left/right ping-pong tactic to deal with sonic pulses. The consequences of our spread became apparent immediately: bursts of flame began sprouting up amongst the group, forcing us to shift back, left, right...just enough to stay out of it...and keep us from damaging the blind dragon.

"Sonic pulse."

"Obnoxious Fiend."


"Rallying Cry."

"Move back some, Amatsu."

"Physica, Sonic Breath."

"Divine Hymn."

"Back to green."

Nobody moved.

"Back to green."

Still nothing.

Third times the charm!

I pressed the talk key, "We're on green NOW, GO GO, GREEN GREEN, GO GO!!"

Players started moving, just as the dragon waddled towards his take-off point.

Do or die. You're out of gongs. Kite until dead, or face the flames.

Atramedes took flight, with the roster spreading out around the circular arena. Ranged damage unleashed every last bit of shadowflame, frost, arcane and fire into the creature. Melee juked each Sonic Pulse and burst of fire they could. Each player targeted by the dragon’s cutting torch had to last as long as possible. Paladins could wring out a few extra seconds by waiting until the last possible moment, then bubbling. Damage continued to pour into the dragon as the fire and flames closed in on us.

Then, the blind dragon fell from the sky and collapsed in his own flame. Heroic: Atramedes was in the bank, upping our progress through Blackwing Descent to 3/6.

I recommend not hanging around here.

All For One

The true genius of a film like "The Ring" comes when you realize you're powerless. Ten minutes into a viewing of it, and seeing that awful image in the closet, my nerves were shot. Every synapse fired until the end of the film. In a completely unexpected random moment, The Ring catches you off guard, shocking you into a defcon 1 fight-or-flight alarm. The Ring gives you no hints. You get no rising music, there are no visual cues that horror is about to be thrust upon you. At a moment in the film where you can let your guard down, The Ring ends the facade of safety with a sledgehammer. You can't even fool yourself. You have no answers. You never will.

From that point on, you never know when it's coming for you next. Will it be this next scene? Or how about this next one? There's no pattern to identify, no raid strategy to study or debuffs to let you know the fire is coming your way next. You just sit and wait in abject terror, unable to psychologically prepare yourself for what's about to come.

The human mind struggles to make sense, find patterns, put pieces of the puzzle together, so it can feel safe. The Ring gives you none of these, which makes for a brilliant and frightening experience.

I wished I was back in the theater, watching The Ring, rather than riding this escalator down towards a company orientation.

"Everything was going to be OK," I lied to myself, knowing there'd be no escape from The Three Musketeers. My palm was greasy with sweat as I gripped the handrail, heading underground to the conference rooms below. Tables of catered breakfast were spread across the lobby leading to the auditorium. Above me, speakers blasted 90s dance music. I wasn't fooled. At some point, people dressed like Athos, Porthos and Aramis would cross my path, and no amount of party blowers or dancing red shirts were going to save me.

I wandered the floor, smiling and nodding to strangers, burying panic. Every step was measured and all senses were on full alert, as I sipped my coffee and scanned the crowd of people. I glanced down to my right, noticing a table covered with HELLO MY NAME IS… lanyards, then...what was that? Was that a feathered cap out of the corner of my eye? I looked back. I was certain I saw it. But, nothing. I wanted to focus in on the danger, isolate it...and prepare myself to move far, far away from it.

But, nothing.

When would the costumes come for me?

Thirty minutes later, I sat in a large auditorium, surrounded by nearly one hundred fellow, freshly hired employees. A casually dressed businessman wandered around a podium while discussing corporate history. At times, he would step to the side, making room for the audience to watch a short vignette on a movie screen draped behind him.

To keep calm, I distracted myself from the projector and flipped through a packet of seemingly important paperwork that was tucked into a folder under my chair. As I scanned through the printed material, one set of papers caught my eye. I pulled them out and read the title, printed in bold-face at the top of the first page:

"The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator - Personality Test"


Fred said...

Watching that video...... I really liked that UI. Not sure why I stopped using it.

Strategos said...

I just wanted to say I'm still an avid reader of your blog. I'm glad I walked away during Wrath because I would not have had it in me to GM through Cataclysm.

Jungard said...

Beep beep! I recently did that in the supermarket to some slow elderly person who was in front of me.

Anonymous said...

I love when we started filming the attempts. It shows how many times Fred messes up and let's Amatsu die. Oh yea I chuckled a little bit when I hear "lexxii is dead" the ones that know, know the struggles of the priest.


Christopher Duncan said...

Patch day and having to redo all the settings.