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Stories, Characters, and Dreams

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Why we do the things we do

Nenicirene's picture

I would like to share with you something which Valgard, a warrior-poet who lives life to the fullest, had to say:

Heh. Valgard, the question wasn't "What are your favorite cybering spots?" :P

*gasps*

Tirasa!

*looks hurt*

What are you TALKING about?

Cybering?

*looks scandalized*

Honestly, Tirasa, you have a perception of me which is not entirely accurate. I do NOT "cyber" as you put it. Why must this be the automatic assumption of all observers whenever two people engage in the roleplaying of private, intense romantic scenes? "Cybering" she says....

*grumbles*

I am an artist, Tirasa. I have been involved in acting, writing, role-playing, and all forms of storytelling for many years. I believe that at a deep level of our psyche, human beings NEED to create, hear, co-create, be involved in, and be affected by STORIES. Myths and fantasy and the epic tradition play a huge role in our mental, emotional, and spiritual health and development, as well as the formation and propagation of our culture.

Since time immemorial, since the first dawning of sapience in primitive humanity, we have gathered together, sometimes in large gatherings, sometimes only in pairs, to tell the tales which inspire our hearts, which somehow give color and meaning and shape to the seemingly random and incomprehensible events of our lives. Role-playing is a form of collective, collaborative storytelling, where people can come together to weave an alternate shared reality together, to express and process and feel things which might not be possible otherwise.

I am an artist. I do not come here simply to be entertained, simply to take some enjoyment and gratification from this shared story, but to add to it, to co-create something beautiful, and intense, and powerful, which will affect everyone involved on a deep level. To express the submerged facets of my own humanity and the struggles and triumphs of my own life experience, and also to facilitate the opportunity for others to do the same, to draw out of others things which they long to find expression for, but are ordinarily prevented from doing.

When we immerse ourselves deeply into this world, these characters, this shared story, when we allow our minds to sink beneath the conscious level into the magical, mysterious domain of the mythic subconscious, and we -feel- what these characters feel, and we come together with others and -connect- on that level, we give birth to something very potent, very profound.

It is catharsis, a word the ancient Greeks used for their experience of the theatre. A mental, emotional, and spiritual cleansing, a much-needed form of processing and embracing all aspects of the human experience, and integrating them into one's greater self as a whole. They did not go to the theatre simply for entertainment. It was as much a psychological therapy and spiritual practice as anything else. This can be accomplished with role-playing, as well. Even in an online game such as WoW.

I am a romantic, Tirasa. I believe in love on an epic scale, and no expression thereof is too vast, too deep, too passionate. In these stories, in this fantasy world, we can feel and explore and express our personal stories through the horrors of war and the terror of nightmarishly alien threats and the pain of loss and the desperate hope for salvation and safety and the ardor of a romance which could only be possible in such a setting, so far removed from our own desensitized, mechanized, tragically modern world.

Most people who are irresistably drawn to this form of storytelling and collective expression are somewhat dissatisfied with our real world, with the blandness and banality and bleak ugliness of it all. And what is most torturous about it, and why so many of us live "lives of quiet desperation" as Thoreau put it, is the fact that our "enemies" in THIS world cannot truly be seen, or fought, or overcome, but must simply be painfully endured. We cannot ride forth and do battle with the embedded sociological factors and forces which make our world so spiritually and emotionally barren, we must simply shrug and say, "That's life."

But in our shared fantasy world, in our co-created epic STORY, we can symbolize all that we despise in life into concrete enemies, which CAN be battled and overcome. We can be heroes and heroines, on a much larger scale than is realistically available to us in our normal lives. And we can feel epic pain, and epic loss, and epic rage, and epic love, in a place which is safe and which engenders these things.

I am a storyteller, a romantic, and an artist. I weave my character into the larger world, the larger story, and I seek out others who have similar aims, and together, we give birth to a deeper, more whole, more meaningful story than we would have created alone. I come together with one or sometimes a small handful of others and we co-create scenes in which reality is suspended, and only the characters and the story and the shared alternate world remain, and the feelings and the expression are allowed free reign to move and expand as they will, without artificial restraints.

The stories and the scenes which I am blessed to be a part of with such amazing role-players and storytellers take in all aspects of the human experience and the events and feelings which such characters in such a world might actually partake of, were this world REAL. For that is what we aim for, to produce a collective illusion so compelling that for just a little while, it becomes virtually real.

And indeed, the deep structures in the brain, and the endocrine system and other systems in the body don't know the difference. The hormonal reactions of the body are the same whether the danger or love is real or only simulated. Which makes for some powerful experiences, when we realize that we can produce any effect within ourselves, at will, simply by choosing to tell the right kind of story. It is excellent therapy!
And good fun. *smiles*

So, to be real, and to be comprehensive, and to truly do justice to this shared reality and the virtual lives of these characters which are our manifestations, our projections, our masks in this pseudo-real co-created fantasy, we must not leave any part of our selves or our experience untouched. Divinity is in the profound AND the profane, the sacred AND the sordid. We cannot have the heights without the depths, the light without the dark, the outer without the inner, or the cerebral without the visceral.

No aspect of the huamn experience and of our inner selves which demand to be expressed in this collective story can be safely ignored, and since romantic love is such a powerful, huge part of our emotional and spiritual lives, and also such a tremendous vehicle for storytelling and character development, it is natural that we would indulge this obvious need. And sexuality is clearly a very important factor. To gloss over it would be to rob ourselves, and to diminish our story and its potential impact and usefulness.

So yes, Tirasa, sometimes the story calls for scenes which are much more primal, much more intimate, much more private. But it should never be approached casually, or in any manner which cheapens this sacred celebration of life. Sometimes, Tirasa, my character is physically intimate with another character, and sometimes this is borne out in a role-played scene. But it is NOT "cyber" as commonly understood. It is art. It is storytelling. It is holistic, involving and touching every part of the participants - cerebral, emotional, spiritual, and physical.

To call what I do "cybering" is like calling Michelangelo's "David" -porn- because it is a statue of a nude man.

I do not take offense, but truly, it is an insult to me and to the other fine roleplayers with whom I have woven these amazing, beautiful, deeply impactful stories to cast such an aspersion upon what is, in fact, a very pure and artistic form of personal sharing and co-creation.

It is never about sex, or about personal gratification. It is always about the story, about the characters' feelings, about the connection with the other, about the expression of our humanity. It is always within an appropriate context, at an appropriate time, with an appropriate person. It is storytelling, it is art, it is profound and beautiful.

I have no idea what other people do, and I will not speak for them. I gather that there are a fair number of cheap, sordid things going on which may fall well outside the parameters I have described here. But as for me, and the people whom I engage in deep, full-immersion role-playing with, there is nothing going on which is deserving of any castigation whatsoever.

I may joke, and smirk, and make sarcastic comments which serve to make me, and my intentions, appear worse than is actually the case, but I assure you, that is merely my sense of humor, and not an accurate reflection of what I am, in essence, about. This list is not my favorite "cybering" places. It is a list of locations where at one time or another, I shared a prolonged, deep, intense, highly immersive and cathartic scene with another person, with another character, which was incredible and memorable and which furthered our personal stories and the larger story of which we are a part in this shared fantastic world.

But, no offense taken Tirasa. Just clearing things up....

*smiles*

And, by the way....

Excellent references available upon request.

*grins*

Ooh, wow…that was impressive. I'm moved. The part about how reality is insufficiently grand and tragic to the satisfy the souls of dreamers resonates with me greatly.

I am constantly driven to create worlds and populate these worlds with stories, and in stories everything is somehow greater than it can be. The peaks and valleys are exaggerated, and we can ride the roller-coaster without fear of falling off.

Apart from the act of writing, which is solitary yet draws upon all the people we have met and events that have shaped us, I find that sitting at a table with my friends is the best way to create grand stories, as we have control and can shape the whole world to our will.

Yet, playing in a game like this is the best way to be a character. When I log on, I am Nenicirene, and others see just that, without the real me getting in the way of my portrayal. Granted, Neni is really just me turned up to an eleven, but it allows me to focus on the character. I never break character, merely the fourth wall. When I talk about things Neni has no right to know about and don't exist in her world, I still use her voice and her opinions. Ultimately, she is aware that she is a fictional character, and is okay with this.

Choose the people who play your friends carefully

Nenicirene's picture

Role playing on a forum is a load of rubbish!

The fundamental problem is that most people do not have a clue how to contribute to collaborative storytelling in a constructive, non-hijacking manner. Also, most people can't write anything worth reading. Both take a little training and a lot of practice.

This is particularly exacerbated when any fool can drive by and wreck things, both unintentionally (due to a lack of skill) or intentionally (due to maliciousness). Far too many people are too invested in the accomplishments of their own character as opposed to the furthering the overall story in an interesting manner. Audience participation improv suffers from much the same problem. Even when taking suggestions, you generally need to specify that you want something non-sexual and non-scatological, because far too many people think that the only way to make a funny scene is between a proctologist and his gay lover.

In general, I don't find MMORPGs to be very conducive to good role-playing. They suffer from most of the drawbacks of LARPs with few of the benefits. You're stuck operating in real-time, meaning that boring travel and such cannot be abstracted away, so meaningful inter-character interaction is generally confined to a tight physical location. On the other hand, your ability to express yourself is both highly limited and painfully slow compared to actual physical interaction. Since there is no GM to create NPCs as needed, you're limited to interacting in a meaningful fashion with just the other players.

Personally, I think that long-term LARPs are unsustainable and nonsensical, but one-shots (which, due to the constraints of reality, usually involve about a dozen people who may or may not know each other trapped in a house during a dangerous situation) work well. For proper collaborative storytelling, nothing beats sitting around a table with good friends, a designated referee, and a few hours to kill. It doesn't produce an end product, but that's okay, because it's a unique art form in that the creators and the audience are one and the same, and it's very much a self-indulgent "you had to be there" sort of thing that does not lend itself to be watched, only done (kinda like how I feel about sex, but that's another matter).

How to be yourself

Nenicirene's picture

As the topic says, do you draw on your experiences or parts of you personality to design you character?

Everyone does, whether they realize it or not. Characters you play can't help but be viewed through the lens made up of your own personality.

Playing Neni is easy for me. She's basically me, but more so. Take my exhuberance, my cuteness, my mania, my arrogance, my skill, my things to live for, and my things that try to make me sad, and turn them all up to an eleven. I'm playing myself, but I'm badly overacting the part and hamming it up.

Talking about Talking

Nenicirene's picture

I agree with the notion that it doesn't have to be Shakespeare, but at least put in an effort…I doubt seriously that "Yo man, sup?" would be used in this era should it ever have existed.

I'm certain the goblins would disagree with you.

This does bring up the concept of being lost in the non-translation, which I first became aware of through an essay by Asimov. Language, aside from its literal meaning, has connotations that can be very important. By failing to shift things into a cultural context that is relevant to the intended audience, meaning can be lost. (The particular examples in the essay are the biblical stories of the Good Samaritan and the story of Ruth, which, to properly understand, require knowing which ethnic group in the story was a disliked minority; hence, a modern American audience would get the intent of the story better if the characters were made into inner-city African-Americans rather than left as inscrutable Samaritans or such.)

Getting to my actual point, to people who spoke in what we consider stilted and archaic language, their language was neither stilted nor archaic. It was perfectly natural. For us to attempt to speak in that manner preserves the form at the cost of the function. Since we are not, in fact, talking in Azerothian Common or Orcish, I favor using natural language to preserve the in-character perception of our own speech. It's like watching a movie set in France yet spoken in English because it's meant for an English-speaking audience. Why do the characters usually have French accents? To the characters themselves, their speech shouldn't sound foreign. By making it sound foreign to us, the audience, you're coloring our perceptions incorrectly.

This can be used to advantage in character. When playing my troll, I try to keep to the pseudo-Jamaican inflection and inaccurate grammar they've displayed in canon materials. Yet, if I ever talk in Trollish to another troll, I speak quite eloquently. To my character, Orcish is a foreign language she hasn't quite mastered, yet she's perfectly fluent in her native tongue, and I can represent this by playing with the form of my language, even though it's still actually English in both cases.

((OOC))I agree with your statements here. Extreme example: I read, write and speak Old and Middle English well enough to get by. Would many people understand if I used it in game? If they could, would it make RP more useful? no, 'cause I'd type it too slowly.

At the same time. "Hey, 'sup dood" does not get me into the role I'm playing. "How are you, Lady Eown, or Sergeant Eown", does.

I'd suggest using natural, modern language, but not taking that to mean the same style you'd use on MSN IM.

There is another level that seems to be missing, however.

You ask: "Why do the characters usually have French accents?"

This is because they are speaking in a different language. However, to the French, we would have an accent in American, British, German, or whatever point of origin. Yes, even to a Frenchman, hearing someone who speaks with a French accent will still sound like someone speaking with a French accent. It won't sound "normal", because English is not their first language.

I understand the direction you are going. If a Troll speaks Troll to a Troll, it should sound normal. I agree completely, and have a story written from the perspective of a troll in EQ that illustrates your point quite well. When he speaks to other trolls, he is very well spoken. But when he tries to speak in common (not his first language), the accent and broken speech is very noticable. But here's the kicker - it is also noticable to other trolls. They can tell it's a troll speaking common as well as a human can tell it's a troll speaking common.

Simply because you have an accent does not make it 'go away' just because you talk to people that share your accent's traits. I (player of Harvey) am from the southern United States. I am familiar with accents, and can even tell to some degree the differences between regional dialects. For example, I can generally tell a central Appalachian's (eastern TN, western NC) speech pattern from that of someone in Mississippi, or Georgia. I'm by no means an expert, but hailing from Tennessee, I can still notice some speech patterns in my own speech and those of people I grew up with.

So you put me beside someone from New York, or California, or Minnesota, and you're likely to notice obvious speech patterns. But those patterns don't go away simply because I go back to Tennessee. And that's mostly my point.

I might still say, "Ain't this just a purty day?" (I probably wouldn't but... using an example here, hehe) I'm still going to say it in that way, no matter who I am speaking to. I don't suddenly say "My this is just a beautiful day" simply because I'm talking to other Tennesseans.

The same holds true cross-lingual. Unless I learn fluent French, I will come across with a faulty form of French. It will remain accented, no matter if it's a Frenchman that is listening or not.

The only time that is not true is when a person learns a language to a degree that their speech is no longer accented. This is quite possible, but it is generally not commonplace.

I had a boss from England. She spoke with an obvious English accent. There were even some rather funny times when her time in the south had worn off, and she would come out with an "ain't" or a "y'all", though it was even accented. But she often remarked that when she returned home to England, her family would comment that she now had an "American" accent. In some ways, she was stuck with two accents, just depending on where she spoke.

Oops, this was long. Sorry about that, dear little gnome.

I don't know if I got my point across. But I do agree with you in terms of "normal language" coming into play when a race speaks to another of their race in their language. But there are many more variables involved that I do feel justify the addition of racial attributes and accents. You just have to remember what your fluency is in the language you are attempting to use for communication.

Nenicirene's picture

Harvey said, "This is because they are speaking in a different language."

My point is that they're not, due to an in-/out-of-character dichotomy. The characters within their world would be speaking in French. In the movie, they are speaking in English because it's made for an English-speaking audience. However, they speak English as a foreigner would, when to the characters in question, they should be speaking like a fellow person from the same region.

I see your point in that regard, and I agree. Generally, if a troll were to speak to a troll, you would think they would generally speak their native tongue (at least in private).

The problem with games is they just haven't quite gotten it right. I dogged the language system in EverQuest, but I think WoW has taken a step backwards. I will give them credit for their translation program, in that if it's not simply gibberish but a standard language that you can "learn". But that's the only good thing they did.

The notion of "common" is where I came from in terms of my example. It is a single language that everyone generally speaks, no matter what their native language. In that regard, their accent is retained - so if two trolls, a few orcs a tauren and an undead are having a conversation around a table, they would likely all speak orcish (I think that's what Blizzard decides is the Horde-side Common). Each would have it's distinct accent, assuming not everyone was magically a fluent speaker. Even the troll speaking to a troll would likely keep it in orcish, for the sake of not being rude. And that was where I was trying to pull the examples of accents being retained, even when speaking to people of your own race.

I look forward to a good game coming out that does languages right. I really dislike what Blizzard did, even moreso than EQ's half-ass approach. At least you learned languages there. =(

M, M, O, & G, Yes, but not so much R and P.

Nenicirene's picture

The fundamental problem is that a dynamic world and accessible content are incompatible. Dynamic worlds require events that can only take place once or, at best, a small handful of times. However, the creation of such events and storylines requires at least as much developer and designer effort as static content, with only a small payout to the user. (Witness the prevalence of TV shows and comic books where everything is fundamentally the same after each episode or story arc as compared to vast, sweeping stories like Babylon 5.)

Dynamic content is ultimately targeted at a small audience of hardcore followers who can keep up with it at the pace dictated by its publishing, as opposed to being able to enjoy it on their own time at whatever pace they wish. Blizzard has already shown that they are catering to the much broader audience of dabblers, a design decision I ultimately agree with. GM-run storylines that change the world work for a MUD with fifty regulars. They don't work for 100 servers with 3000 people each.

Furthermore, people don't really want dynamic content. They want empowering dynamic content. You don't want your capital city to fall if it has long-term negative consequences for you (unlike a loss in say, a battleground), and you don't want to stand around while Thrall kicks the ass of all your enemies and you get to fetch him a refreshing beverage afterwards. You want to be the hero. Unfortunately, so does everyone else. Thus, no one gets to be the hero. You can't have a world of protagonists.

Ultimately, MMORPGs suck as a medium for telling stories, precisely because they are massively multiplayer. A story needs to be about something, and it needs to have interesting, relevant characters that can take effective action. Good stories are also personal, and connect with their audience. If you want all that, get three to five friends together, set aside a night a week, and sit down around a table to tell some amazing stories. I do so twice a week, and real roleplaying games are so much more narratively fulfilling than any MMORPG could ever hope to be.

I agree that all of the games that've come so far have tried and failed. They have failed for the reasons that you list - the game designs are not made around things to encourage/foster roleplaying, rather to capture the 'gamer' market. In addition, the support by the companies have been all lip service. Blizzard showed their fannies in this regard, making such a huge deal about their approach, then letting it disappear before the first month was out. All they ever really did was answer issues about player names. Even that seems to have gone to pot.

But you might have seen my reply on the other board. I still have extensive faith in regards to what is possible and what is being done behind the scenes in the market. The big companies (and several little ones) are c⁠ashing in on the MMOG cow. Most of the buyers right now are looking for "the same, but better". They're reluctant to go with "different and better". Different, doesn't guarantee sales. And it will take some young start up company (like Verant once was) to make the big wave a lot of us want.

The sad part, to me, is that I know a whole lot of MMOG players and most of them are very sick of the 'level up and get loot' approach to gaming. They do want a dynamic world and they don't expect to be the everything-to-me kind of hero. Heck, the people that I do know that are of that lewt-cow mentality end up getting bored of these games within 6 months because they've done it all. EQ proved that "more content" isn't better. But they did discover that those 6-month players would keep coming back.

But think of this: Say you've got a huge player base, like all the major MMOGs have. 20%-30% of those might be the powergamer that tops out their character within the first month, are the first to kill big-time mobs, are the first to get the phattest of loot. Guess what - they're also the first to get bored as heck. They might stick around and max out another character or two, but they're still gone in 6 months. Now take the other, much larger portion. They aren't rushing to max out. They are enjoying the game, casual players, or whatever you want to call it. They are the ones I always hear pining for dynamic, more-realistic content. Deeper interactivity. More roleplaying. More experiences. Less grind. Less focus on things like levels and loot. It isn't that they don't want good things - they do. They often just wish it wasn't the only thing you could count as a "goal" in the game.

But instead of catering to that much larger percentage player, they focus their attention on retaining that 20-30% that get bored quickly and demand more "content". Funny thing is, they don't have a clue what content is. To many of those, content is "more zones", "more loot", "more levels". The same old crap that the current batch of games confirm are the only goals they can produce.

Game companies are so stuck in the concept of what the other guys are doing, that they fall into the same traps. Blizzard is, too. Granted, they've added in a deeper PvP focus, but it's no different than an EQ expansion - more zones, more loot, more levels (in this case, honor system).

Well, not everyone is stuck in that box. There are designers going in quite the different direction. It may be hard to believe because so far, we just keep getting the same old crap. But it is happening. I just hope it's sooner, rather than later. =)

Unfortunately not all of us have our friends in the same general area, nor do we have a nearby place to find them. So those of us stuck in the boondocks would really like for these suits to suck it up and take a risk.

/le sigh

I miss gathering for a good living-room PnP game.

It's called a 'lev•əl.

Nenicirene's picture

Regarding the levels issue, I am reminded of an Abraham Lincoln quote: "Even if you call a tail a leg, a donkey still only has four legs." The point being, saying something is so doesn't make it so. Any noun substituted for the word "level" is a transparent facade, and we all know you're talking about levels, so just call them levels already. If you want to say experienced or young or other such adjectives, go ahead, but crap like 60 seasons just pisses me off, because it is simultaneously declaring the mechanics to be in-character while deciding that you don't like the mechanics and are going to rename them, which if they are in-character, are already conveniently standardized upon.

Grumblecakes.

Indeed. I eat grumblecakes for breakfast every day, and wash them down with bitter black coffee, before I go practice yelling at the kids on my lawn. It takes hard work to be as cantankerous as I am at this early age of mine.

Straight from Zeld to You

Nenicirene's picture

It's time for another edition of Neni Copies Other People's Forum Posts™. The brilliant philosopher Zeld posted the following insight:

Zeld's Theory of Idiotic Monikers states: "The more stupid a name in a MMORPG, the larger the probability that the person behind said stupid name is an asshat".

Take for example the latest two ninjalooters that have been posted on this forum. Lightcircle and Soulreaver. Both fairly stupid names. Neither really inventive. Both, proportedly, asshats.

Another example: Yesterday, I'm wandering around the Barrens trying to find tin and copper for my mining skill, when I see a young druid named "Poopie" on Local Defense chat constantly. Annoying? Yes, not so much because of his name, but because he was an idiot. My predication is that someday we'll see a thread here with a title: "POOPIE IS A NINJA L00TER!!!". It's practically inevitable.

The easiest way to fix is is NOT to report these names. Don't do that. Then they'll get changed into something that makes it more difficult to pick them out in a crowd. If Lightcircle suddenly becomes Quindon, we're in trouble. If he stays Lightcircle, we'll know by the Theory to avoid his stupid ass.

And followed it up with this corollary:

Zeld's Theory of Sucky Guildnames states: "Whoever starts or joins a guild that either A) utilizes no capitalization in the name B) misspells a word in the name C) utilizes only capital letters in the name or D) has a joke type name that isn't funny, has a higher probability of being an asshat than those who have properly capitalized and spelled guildnames".

This theory will help provide a person with the ability to spot potential asshats from a good distance away. While many guild names are formulatic and/or boring, there are those out there that strive to be different, either by ignorance or pure stupidity.

A) No capitalization in the name. Zero. Nada. err... zero. nada. It can be a indication of asshattery. For example: death guards of kalimdor. Anyone on the Horde side who's run into them can affirm that mostly they are beggar asshats.

B) Many people hastily throw together a guild name, only to find it's already taken. In lieu of picking another guild name, often they'll misspell a word. Usually, in my experience, that's a bad sign. There's a certain lack of creativity for people that would name their guild "The Asshatt Crew" because "The Asshat Crew" was already taken. Also, there's people who misspell words by accident, and that's not nearly as bad as the deliberate misspelling. Folks, it's "Harbinger", not "Harbringer".

C) THE ALL CAPITAL CREW. Usually, l33t, often stupid, someone decides that the best way to advertise their $!@%ty guild is to have EVERYTHING IN CAPS. AS YOU ALL KNOW, IF YOU WRITE SOMETHING IN CAPS PEOPLE HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION TO IT NO MATTER HOW INANE OR OUTRIGHT STUPID SOMETHING IS. These are the kind of people that strive for attention in real life but haven't yet realized that the only way to elicit internet attention is to be a forum troll. When a CAPITALIZER does come over to the trolling board side of things, they can be easily identified by their inability to NOT USE CAPS.

D) Joke names that aren't funny. We've all seen them. They make <Me So Hordey> seem like the height of comedic genius. This isn't a slam on funny or iroic names, like <Flowers of Happiness> from EQ (a PVP guild that used the same initals as a premier PVE raiding guild that took itself far too seriously)or, a personal favorite of mine <You Go First>, just the stupid ones we've all seen from time to time.

As with all theories of mine, there are exceptions to the rules. However, by and large, if you combine the Theory of Sucky Guildnames with the Theory of Stupid Monikers, you'll be alright. Often, in fact, you'll find people with truly stupid names belong to guilds with sucky guildnames. That's not always the case, however.

Again, as with the Stupid Moniker Theory, please do not /report these guildnames, however much they offend your sensibilities. These huge neon signs on people's heads are priceless and must be kept so we can easily separate the asshats from the chaff. Or something.

Nenicirene's picture

Well, my generally feeling is that, as my grandfather used to put it (translated from Spanish), "He who from afar looks like an idiot, up close is." That is, warning signs of being a jackass, such as a dumb, overly-pretentious name, are almost sure-fire signals of actually being a jackass.

To your scattered bodies go

Nenicirene's picture

My characters are all fragments of me, drawn out, purified and magnified. Caricatures that expose a greater truth through exaggeration. Each is shallower than the one before, as more of me was spent by the time it came for her creation.

Nenicirene, of course, is most like me, turned to eleven. She is my sense of humor, my wit, my sarcasm, my hyperactivity, and my glee at wanton destruction. She is my inventiveness and my mathematical mind. She is also the part of me who has lost something that can never be regained, but it doesn't overshadow her life. She is my determination and my sheer will to not give up.

Arochi is my flirtatious side, the more cerebral aspects of sex. She is my desire to drink and to enjoy the fine epicurean pleasures of life. She is also my pride and self-righteousness. She is faith, but not faith in the unknown. Rather, she has faith in that the world she sees is the world that is and that her interpretation of it is the one true right one. She's also my ditziness and my forgetfulness, the "oops" of "I forgot" to Neni's "oops" of "I really shouldn't have done that, should I?"

Zulneni is my primal animal side. She is the carnal side of sex and knows no shame. She is the raw visceral pleasure of eating flesh and knowing it came from a living, breathing thing whose life you have devoured. She is my appreciation for nature and the outdoors, the one who drinks in the glory of breakers crashing over you, howling winds, towering stones, and raging fires. She is my instinct, but also my antisocial side. She is who I am when I don't want to talk to people. She fancies herself an exiled would-be queen, but is really just alone.

Ardalohara is my callousness and greed. She is the part that doesn't look back. She cares about what's in it for her, and little else. Some part of her is lost, and she doesn't want it back. She's too distant from the world, and only interacts with it at the end of a blade. She cuts things open just to see what they look like on the inside. She's my inner sociopath.

Shandala is really just a shell. All she cares about are numbers and how they juggle together. She's abstract fascination with elegant mechanics and how equations fit together. She's the part of me that likes rules only because they're secretly a prescription for how to be broken, a secret some of us know how to read, and it makes us feel special. She likes making numbers scream and living in the corner cases of problem space. She's my raw number-crunching optimization.

Narayana is my sense of wonder. Everything is new to her, and she loves it all. Everyone is friendly. Nothing is bad. Her suffering is something to be smiled at until it goes away, and even the people trying to kill her can't really mean it. She's my unbridled optimism, but she's also my foreigner. She's the part people don't really understand and just smile and nod at in the hopes she'll soon go on her merry way and stop disturbing their lives.

Lastly, Rashad is my addiction. She's self-loathing and loneliness, but she's also hope that there's something greater out there and that she can make a difference. She is proof that though the tunnel may be endless, there can still be light inside it.

And there you have most of me. There's other characters too, but they've never developed into their own selves. They're just other ways to play a game, not people I can put on like a costume for my mind. Not surprisingly, I've never bothered leveling any of the others past the early teens.

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