Breaking Point

Everybody has a breaking point. Everything can be fine and wonderful until one little thing happens to tip the scale and cause you to snap. It happens all the time in the real world. Sometimes, you can cover it well. Other times you can’t. As always, what can happen in the real world can happen in a virtual one, too. Our characters are no exception to this, and, sometimes, snapping winds up ruining everything. These are their breaking points, something that will cause them to act in ways you as the player might not have been prepared for, and it can yield some very interesting stories in the end.

I’d like to share one such example with you. Now, I’d like to preface the following story by saying that I’m aware it’s SWTOR-specific. However, as everybody has their own personal breaking points, the concept is in no way specific to any one game. From a roleplaying perspective, our characters are people, too, and they will react as they will to certain events. Some will react more dramatically than others.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Sith Inquisitor storyline as dictated by Bioware, you begin life as a slave (made worse for those who choose to play an alien as the Empire dislikes aliens immensely), but are discovered to be Force-sensitive and are raised for a very specific purpose to become Sith. I won’t say what that purpose is because, you know, spoilers. Suffice to say that in your trials, one Sith Lord likes you the best and makes you her apprentice. As you go throughout the galaxy, obtaining various artifacts, a few of the NPCs may make note that you used to be a slave. If you’re an alien that isn’t a pureblood Sith, they’ll make note of that, too. Rather loudly. According to them, you’re inferior whether you like it or not.

Now, my Inquisitor is a twi’lek woman by the name of Bel’neven (or Belne Ven, if you choose to break her name down into it’s core components). I don’t have to use Bioware’s given storyline as a base to work with for IC purposes, and yet I do anyway. Belne is a former slave, and she knows it. She doesn’t particularly try to hide it, either. She is what she is and she’s come to accept that. Since her status has been raised, however, she feels like she owes the Empire, but there’s a part of her that’s still… a bit pure-hearted, I guess you could say. As a result, I opted to make her a healer, and I’ve mostly been choosing the Light-side dialogue options for her. The reason being that I think it’d be interesting. After all, killing everything in sight doesn’t always get you to your end goal. Sometimes, you need to be diplomatic.

Unfortunately, things didn’t quite go as planned. I had broken my Light-side streak once already on Korriban. Once Belne arrived on Balmorra, one quest in the course of the Inquisitor’s class storyline forced me to break my Light-side streak again. An Imperial that she had been dealing with decided she wouldn’t get what she wanted from him unless she found his son, another Sith, who had gone and gotten himself caught by Balmorran rebels. So, after slugging through Balmorra and dealing with all sorts of crap from various people, she grudgingly decided to find the man’s son for him. Once she found him, the human Sith apprentice decided the best course of action was to greet her by calling her a filthy alien.

At that point, Belne snapped. The “filthy alien” had just torn through a number of people and, oh, look at that! She hadn’t been stupid enough to get caught. She was there to save his butt, and he had to start off being ungrateful. So, to her, it made perfect sense to call him an insufferable fool in return. The sniping continued for a good few minutes, and I kept being prompted with a choice to let him go. I could have, but then he made the mistake of mentioning a Sith weapon he had been after, which I thought Belne’s master might want. Power, after all, is very important to the Sith, and the weapon could be an additional edge.

In the end, the jerkiest Sith apprentice Belne had come across since Ffon on Korriban told her he wanted out of the cell he was trapped in and I was prompted with three dialogue choices: I’m sorry (but you have to die), No (the only way you get out of that cell is in a body bag), and let him go (for the… what… fourth time? Fifth? At that point, I lost count). I weighed my options. I could take the insults like a man and let him go. After all, opinions at likes mouths; everybody’s got one. However, she was above letting people call her a filthy alien now. She was Sith,┬ádamn it, and that earned her a certain amount of respect from anybody, whether she was an alien or not. She wasn’t about to just let him walk out of there, not after that, especially after she had tried to negotiate and tried to get him to give her the holocron that revealed the location of the Sith weapon. She had tried┬áto be nice, and being nice hadn’t worked so well. The only option was to kill him. She didn’t want to piss off his father, either, but, in the end, I chose the first option, fighting happened, and Belne emerged victorious, complete with a new weapon to show off to her master once she saw her again.

The whole incident, however, got me thinking. Generally, Belne is a nice woman, at least until you insult her. All bets are off at that point. For Belne, that’s her breaking point. Like it or not, she’s Sith now and she will be treated as such. Fail to do it and shit will hit the fan. This, also, was what sadly got the ex-apprentice’s father killed shortly after when he failed to show the proper respect. The fear was nice, though.

So my question to you, dear readers, is this: what is your character’s breaking point? What’s one thing that will cause them to snap?

Noob Tales

Although I’m not quite certain how this all started, when I returned from work today, I discovered my twitter feed full of various stories from everybody’s noob days in World of Warcraft, told in 140 characters or less. Amused, and taking solace in the fact that I wasn’t alone in my various noob moments (some people having very similar stories to some of my own), I decided to contribute a few of them, myself. It was in the course of contributing a few stories that I recalled an incident from my early Warcraft days in Burning Crusade. Unfortunately, telling this particular story would take up more than 140 characters, so I decided to preserve the tale here, and I encourage others to do the same. After all, none of us started out automatically knowing how things worked. We sort of made it up as we went along and prayed they were right. Unfortunately, sometimes things got a bit messed up along the way…

My first serious character, as many of you know, was a blood elf paladin. Back during the days of Burning Crusade, around level 20 or so, all paladins got their class quest for an epic item. In the case of the blood elves, it was the gorgeous (yet now obsolete) Blood-Tempered Ranseur. However, being that I was completely terrified of dungeons, I avoided the quest. It took me watching multiple blood elf paladins sporting that weapon out in Hillsbrad for me to determine that I had to have it for myself, if only as an RP weapon. Discovering a friend of mine still needed to do the quest as well, he and I, thinking the suggestion of having 5 people in our party was just that (a suggestion), set off for Blackfathom Deeps on foot. (This was back in the days before you got your first mount at level 20.)

However, we quickly discovered a problem. As both of us had been questing out in the Eastern Kingdoms, neither one of us actually knew how to get this dungeon. My friend had maps, but I figured if we followed the road, sooner or later we’d find it. After all, how hard could it really be to find an instance? We had to run off the road in a few places (mostly to avoid patrolling NPCs who would have eaten us for dinner), but we kept running until we got closer to the Darkshore/Ashenvale border.

Then, in the distance, we saw her: a night elf PC. I can’t recall her class, nor do I know what level she was (all we got was a skull at the time, which meant she was infinitely higher than either of us combined), but my friend and I knew one thing with absolute chilling certainty: she saw us. We both froze where we stood on the road and quickly started yammering at each other in party chat. She had seen us. If we ran, she would pursue us and slaughter us both mercilessly. I started to panic on my end of the screen. What did we do?

And then my friend came up with a plan. “Maybe,” he said, “if we remove our weapons, she’ll see that we’re not on our way to raid Darnassus or one of the other Alliance cities!” (Opposing-faction city raids were still a big thing in those days on my server, even before achievements came into the picture.)

So, with our plan in progress and the night elf on her huge-ass epic riding kitty stopping just by our side, we stripped off our weapons and bowed politely to the night elf. She said something, not that either of us could understand it, and she just… stared at us for a good few minutes. However, it soon became apparent that she had no intention of moving.

“Now what?” I asked my friend in party chat.

“I guess we just start walking?”

It was a valid suggestion as any. So my friend and I both set up our characters to walk instead of run and we continued down the road, our new night elf friend in hot pursuit. I continued to panic in party chat (“Why is she following us? OH MY GOD WE’RE BOTH GOING TO DIE HERE! …will our guild avenge us if we do?”). But then something amazing happened. The night elf started to ride back the way she had come! She paused a few times further up the road to see if we were still heading in that direction, but then she eventually disappeared out of sight. Needless to say, my friend and I were both incredibly relieved.

Unfortunately, we didn’t wind up finding Blackfathom Deeps that night. However, it wasn’t until after I had logged off for the night that I learned my friend and I had never been in any danger at all. PvE servers don’t automatically flag you for PvP when you entered contested territory. Unless we were PvP flagged, the night elf couldn’t have killed us at all! All our panicking and flailing had been for nothing whatsoever. Needless to say, I felt a bit silly, but at least I got a good story and a good laugh out of it.

What about you, my friends? Do you have any fun noob stories to share that you can’t tell in 140 characters? Feel free to share them here, if you’d like (or just laugh at mine).