Minecraft (Hexxit) – The Curse of the Albatross – Chapter 3

I force my aching bones to leave the house, pondering the wisdom of returning to the tower, braving the zombies to see if any of my belongings were left ungnawed.

32-albatrossoneway

Just as I exit, I catch a glimpse of a familiar silhouette flying northeast towards a snowy landscape.

There is another bird flying over the gap that leads to the tower and Ostcliff.

33-vulturetheother

It’s a vulture.

I take the signs for what they are, and craft new tools, striking out in the albatross’ direction.

Sure enough, my guide leads me to another tower.

33b-northeasttower

This time, with better forewarning, I make more elaborate preparations.

I set up a temporary camp, a base of operations from which to store items and make careful forays into the tower.

33c-towercamp

Inside, each floor contained strange cages of spiders and more horrific undead, distinctly magical in nature, for they seemed to summon an endless horde of monsters from unnamed dimensions.

33d-towerinside

Light seemed to interrupt the dark magics at work, slowing and then finally putting an end to the summoning.

Progress was arduous, for holes in the tower ceiling caused hostile undead to rain down from the floor above, rushing to the attack from every possible opening.

Dirt barricades had to be constructed and dug through, all gaps shored up, floor by careful floor. There was treasure too, guarded by these creatures – armor, weapons and magical things.

At what seemed like the very top, or perhaps the second-highest floor, I threw open a chest to find it most mercilessly trapped.

A great guardian golem roared in indignation, and my world exploded in fire.

33e-battletowergolem

Cobblestone shrapnel showered down, pattering against my helm and greaves.

Fortunately, a newly looted chestplate had protected me from the brunt of the blast, but the tower’s golem looked immensely strong and nigh impervious to the weaponry at my disposal.

I fled, dashing down flights of narrow stairs, as the guardian crashed its way through the floors in furious pursuit, blowing them up to fit itself through, leaving wreckage in its path.

Thankfully, whatever magics conjured it apparently bound it to the tower, for it did not give chase once I left the vicinity.

Traveling further along the heading the albatross flew, the weather grew warmer and the snow gave way to grassy plains.

I passed a few other smaller places of note.

35-blueberries

A red finch and I shared blueberries from an overgrown thicket of bushes. The ruins next to it held an infestation of giant silverfish, but nothing of value.

34-obsidian

An exposed bed of bubbling lava provided the opportunity for collecting some obsidian.

36-abandonedhousepumpkins

A lone building caught my eye against the horizon, but as I drew nearer, there were signs of disuse. Pumpkins lay unharvested in the fields.

37-blacksmiths

It may have been a blacksmith’s once, but the furnaces and forges were cold.

38-dustyinside

Dust caked the interior, and there was naught in the chest but a wooden bowl and an egg that must surely have been rotten. I took care not to crack the shell, for I feared a righteous stink, and buried it in the dirt outside.

39-feralcowshorse

The cows had gone feral, though I wasn’t sure about the white horses nearer the horizon, whether they were once tame or had always been wild.

I wondered what had happened to the occupant. If he or she had left of their own accord, or whether they had met a more final fate.

With no answers forthcoming, I continued on my way.

Just as the afternoon was turning to evening, I reached another village.

40-village

There were more white horses here, roaming half-tamed among the villagers, who seemed oddly tolerant of the animals.

“They are sacred here,” was the answer to my idle inquiry. “The village is named for them. Weisferd.”

Night cut my conversation short, as the villager hurried home, and I took up residence at a local inn run by two brothers.

41-inn

They seemed to find my insistence on keeping the visor of my helm as low as possible, and my refusal of food thusly, more than a little strange.

They weren’t very good conversationalists as a result, aiming suspicious looks at me and exchanging more wordless looks with each other, and I could get no useful rumors from them.

Besides, talking was almost impossible from the extremely loud neighing and whinnying of the white horse that was directly outside in the inn’s yard, fenced in with no exit, criss-crossing the small garden restlessly, its wish to join its free brethen plain and clear for all to hear.

“Taming it,” said one brother. “Work-in-progress,” said the other.

It wasn’t the most peaceful night I’d ever spent.

By far.

Morning wasn’t much better, because as I hastily opened the inn’s door to take my leave of the two wary brothers, a very hostile skeleton archer barged its way in, firing its arrows point-blank at me.

42-horsewhinnyingallnight

“Was it looking for you?!” One brother screamed as he dove for cover.

“Outside! Take it outside! NOT THE TABLES!” yelled the other.

It was the most incongruous bar brawl ever.

Despite being the victor, I left in a great hurry after that. I was afraid questions would be asked about how I managed to survive the hail of arrows. I -hoped- that most could be explained away by my armor, but I had a feeling a few had gone through me.

43-pincushion

I didn’t want any of the brothers to get a close look, put two and two together and raise a lynch mob.

Outside, I sheltered against a back wall long enough to make myself humanly presentable once more.

In the town square, three villagers were standing in the middle of a large structure made of blackened bricks, looking extremely perplexed.

“What’s going on?” I asked. “Are you all stuck in there?”

“We’re trying to figure out the best way to take apart this old smelter,” said one villager. “It’s an eyesore, and no one uses it since the blacksmith…” he paused, “…left.”

My eyes lit up, for I had been wanting a way to melt down some metals and make better tools, but hadn’t found the clay yet to make my own seared bricks for a smeltery. “I can help you with that,” I said, hoisting my pickaxe.

44-smelterydeconstruction

“The blacksmith couldn’t make a living here?” I asked the villager who seemed to have appointed himself the overseer, as I pried the smelter apart.

“Mmmmhm,” was his noncommittal reply. “You could say that.”

“This place seems large and prosperous enough for one.” I tried again.

“Strange goings-on happen in this place, is what.” He suddenly snapped.

But before I could get further with that line of questioning, my work was abruptly interrupted by a terrified scream from a nearby house behind me.

The distress was real, the words of the speech itself absurd.

“HELP! Help! There’s a POLAR BEAR on the ROOF of my house!”

45-polarbearonroof

All I had to do was turn around 180 degrees to find out that it was true.

“I guess I can help with that too.” I said, as I unslung my bow.

I got a decent enough fur pelt out of that errand.

Strange goings-on indeed.

The villager I had been questioning about the blacksmith had taken his chance to leave, so I finished up deconstructing the smelter in silence.

Night was falling again by the time I was done, so I quickly asked the other two villagers that had been standing by, with furrowed brows and in quiet, earnest conversation with each other, if I could shack up with them in return for my help.

“Yeah, sure. But hurry!” They said, as they pushed me along the path quickly and raced home at the fastest clip I’ve seen.

“Huh,” was my puzzled response. “Why the rush?”

“Shhh,” they said, as they crammed into a small house with what seemed to be two or three other villagers already inside. I barely managed to squeeze my way in. Then they slammed the door shut and bolted it.

The room was plunged into darkness.

46-paranoidvillagers

“What the hell,” I said. “Don’t you guys have a torch? A lamp? Some light? Anything?”

“SHHH!” They shushed me.

I groped around in my pockets and my backpack in dismay, because I had run out of torches myself.

The lighted house over by the way was looking a lot more comfortable to spend the night in, rather than with these two paranoid or miserly souls, sitting in the dark.

“Ok, nevermind, I’ll stay elsewhere,” I said, as I groped for the door handle.

They blocked it with their bodies, pressed up against the door. “SHHHHHHHH!”

“Guys, this is not funny,” I said. “Let me out!”

They refused.

I was pondering the wisdom of throwing a punch at one of them to shake them from their paranoia, but was worried about the repercussions, given the already suspicious brothers at the inn.

Then the banging and the thumping started.

A terrible cacophony of thuds and knocking against closed doors. The blood in my veins froze as I quit all protest and looked gingerly out the window.

47-terriblebangingandknocking

Besides the zombies that I had been accustomed to seeing roam at night, there was… something else.

A black shrouded figure with a scythe, floating above the pavement, knocking insistently against the door of the lighted house.

Suddenly, sitting quietly in the dark with nary a lit candle seemed a lot less like paranoia and a lot more like common sense.

But then, I wasn’t an ordinary defenceless villager, was I?

I seemed to be turning into the hero of this tiny town.

I opened the window, as quietly as I dared, and drew a bead on the ragged robes with my bow.

48-harbinger

And was suddenly struck with a chill down my spine, a foreboding sense of impending doom.

It was a long shot. Through a window. There was no guarantee I’d hit it.

There was even less of a guarantee that I’d kill it with a single arrow. (Almost none at all, in fact.)

I’d probably just make it really angry.

It’ll be alerted to the fact that I was over here, in this other house.

There were other defenseless villagers in this house too.

If it turned into a raging battle, the entire village would probably end up a casualty.

Including myself.

It hadn’t broken through the door yet. There were no terrified screams.

It did -sound- like a pretty solid door.

I eased back on the tension on the bow string. I’d wait. Only if the door broke down, then I’d act.

Maybe sunrise would burn this thing like the zombies did.

If the door held long enough.

Minutes crept by like hours and hours crept by like minutes. Tense and cramped, looking out a small window, I waited, and waited, and waited.

It did.

The sun rose.

The zombie caught fire. The black-robed figure disappeared in puff of purple magic.

I finally dared to breathe again, and joined the other villagers who had now ceased to block the door and stepped out into the morning.

Then I froze in shock as my gaze met the purple-eyed stare of the shade that I had met once before.

48-itwastherewatching

I blinked, and it zipped away with a whoosh, teleporting and appearing on the outskirts of the village.

It and I exchanged one more look that lasted a split second, and with another BZZZT, it was gone.

Had it been watching the whole night?

Was it the one that had set the other undead upon the village?

I didn’t think the frightened villagers scurrying about had the answers to my questions, or were in the best mind to answer them that very moment.

And to be frank, I was just as relieved to get out of Weisferd before I was forced to stay a third night.

I only hung around long enough for one more errand, a cemetery on the outskirts of the village was being plagued by a haunted suit of armor. A brief exchange of blows later, the unquiet ghost was laid to rest.

49-hauntedarmoringraveyard

Then I made my way back home, carrying the pieces of my hard-won smeltery.

(Good lord, I felt like I was doing a whole series of MMO sidequests in Weisferd.

There was even a totally immersion-breaking bizarre comic relief one. Though I did walk past the presumably lost and long-ranging polar bear on my way into the village. When it ended up on the freakin’ roof though, I couldn’t pass it up.

By sheer random chance, the density of odd happenings in that village was crazily good.

By the by, the Enderman in the second to last screenshot is Photoshopped because I was really too shocked to take a screenshot when I opened the door and had that happen to me exactly as described.  Two split seconds and it was gone. It was eerie as hell. That thing was out there -watching-.

I actually did stay another night to see if it would happen again and if I could get a real screenshot from that, but it didn’t. So yeah, whatever, that night is not cannon, not story.)

Minecraft (Hexxit) – The Curse of the Albatross – Chapter 2

Climbed the gap today.

16-climbedthegap

The landscape is barren, rocky red ridges and promontories. Eagles or rocs could live here. Would albatrosses?

No sign of any nests.

Just a lone armadillo or two.

17-sunsetinthecanyon

The sun is setting and there seems to be no easy way out of this canyon. I need to make more ladders to scale the next cliff face.

I carve a hasty hole in the rock face to take shelter for the night, and put together a rough workbench to assemble more ladders.

17b-craftingladders

I can’t sleep. The silence has grown into a loud roar in my ears. I keep expecting an attack, or for something to happen, but nothing does.

In the middle of the night, I open the door to my shelter and take a walk for some fresh air.

18-deadgrassatnight

It’s only then that I notice that the grass here has all died. Short barren stubs drained of any spark of life.

Were they that way when I chose this area to shelter in, or was something standing outside watching as I crafted my escape route?

Either way, the sooner I get out of this dead place, the happier I’ll be.

In the morning, I see something winged fly across the rock face. It looked almost reptilian. Was it a flying lizard, a bat? Or was it the bird I saw previously?

(One was unfortunately a little slow on the screenshot.)
(One was unfortunately a little slow on the screenshot and the thing flew off.)

I scale the cliff to find more red rock and cactus.

20-morerockdesert

I climb higher, hoping for a sighting of the albatross and a new heading to follow.

There are some yellow ground dwelling birds here, secretary bird-like, almost friendly and comical, but no albatross.

21-highaltituteclouds

Looking back, shows how high I’ve climbed. The clouds are almost within reach. I bite back the suicidal urge to try.

Instead, I head further in the other direction, following my last recollection of how the bird flew, and the cliff ends, revealing a majestic sight. A settlement built into the cliff face, and a vast stretch of water, dotted with numerous specks of wetland. Is it a river delta leading to an ocean? Or merely a large landlocked lake?

22-theotherdirection

I hide my drawn appearance by lowering the visor of my helm, and claim to be a mercenary warrior,  an adventurer seeking fame and glory.

The villagers are taciturn, telling me only the name of their settlement – Ostcliff.

23-villagebythecliff

I find a farmer in need of help with his crops and trade a day’s labor at the fields for some carrots and potatoes.

25-roastpotatoes

I spend the night with a slightly more garrulous old librarian, roasting potatoes over a furnace of rocks I put together for him, though his sanity is questionable. He paces relentlessly through my stay, running his hands over his tomes and confessing to me that he hears voices whisper to him in the quiet of the night, speaking of caged animals, an impulsive lord and a reinforced fortress.

24-nightwithlibrarian

I nod and listen to placate him, since I don’t want to be thrown out, but I only really care about one thing.

I’m just not sure how to ask about seabird sightings without sounding just as crazy.

The screech of spiders and the hollow rattling of skeleton bones echo outside during gaps in the conversation. This is not an easy land to live in.

Then I have it, as I look out the window at the large body of water, illuminated in spots by a few nightblooms.

Casually, I ask about the fishing out on the water, if it’s any good, that I was thinking of going out in a boat and a reel tomorrow, trying to lead in to any sightings of an albatross.

It’s a dead end. The man pays more attention to his books than things that creep, swim or fly.

26-sunriseinostcliff

Sunrise in Ostcliff is quite beautiful.

I anxiously scan the skies for any signs, but there are no wings on the horizon.

With no true heading, I decide to follow up on my pretext of fishing, but intend to follow the shore and at least find out if all this water is merely an extremely large lake or if Ostcliff overlooks an ocean.

A short while later though, while following the shore northeast, I come across an ominous tower.

27-laketower

Guttural groans are the only warning I get.

Zombies gush out of the ground floor and pull my boat under as I flail away with my sword, trying to fight and row at the same time.

Sputtering out brackish water, sinking with the weight of my armor and flailing my way back to the surface by kicking up from the bottom, I claw my way to the nearest ground to make a stand.

28-zombiestower

One of the zombies was carrying an odd little book.

27-chocobopedia

I don’t get much time to peruse it before more undead rush from the tower. Surely, some infernal magic must be conjuring them and forcing them out in daylight?

I don’t get a chance to even look inside, as the moaning horde forces me into a corner.

29-backedinacorner

I’m desperately trying to get a chance to turn around and set an escape ladder up against the cliff, but their relentless onslaught doesn’t give me an opening.

One of them finally gets through my guard and ends me.

30-death

The pain has barely receded before I wake again.

31-waking

In bed. On the top floor of my house.

I bury my face in my hands. Was it just a terrible dream?

I’m naked and shivering.

I think not.

I think I’m stuck here until I figure out what’s happened to me and find a way out.

(Village name brought to you by random googling of village name generators and eventually joining two words that made sense to me.

Weird rumor and librarian who was determined to know nothing of value conjured up by random rolls from the RPG Solo website, utilizing the Mythic Game Master Emulator complex questions, Universal NPC Emulator or whatever the hell else they’re using for those buttons.

The rest, surprisingly or not, is all Minecraft Hexxit and a bit of fancy imagination and retelling.)

Minecraft (Hexxit) – The Curse of the Albatross – Chapter 1

The last thing I clearly remember was the dead bird in my hands and the salt-sea smell of its blood.

I know, with a certainty, that I shot it.

I do not know how much time passed.

I think I recall the vengeful shriek (of its mother? Or was it something else?) as giant talons closed around me and all consciousness was lost in a rush of cold wind and vertigo.

I don’t remember my name or where I was.

I wake up in a field.

1-waking

I could have sworn I saw the shadow of giant wings fly through that distant pass, just before I fully awoke.

Somehow, I know that I have to follow it. Find it.

What happens after, I don’t know.

Am I hunting it or seeking forgiveness?

I don’t remember.

But I do know I can’t climb up to and hope to survive through that pass without tools and without being prepared for anything.

I turn around to get my bearings and nearly jump out of my skin.

2-strangehouse

A strange house is behind me.

Who lives here? Did I know this place once upon a time?

“Hello?” I call out, as I cautiously creep through the front door, almost expecting some manner of enchantment to befall me – a wizard or a witch who hates visitors to their abode, or for the entire house to be a trap.

3-groundfloor

I pick up a fallen torch and hold it up carefully.

There’s nothing on the ground floor, except for what looks to be some stabling.

4-secondfloor

The second floor is equally deserted.

I could shelter here, I think, assuming nothing strange happens in the middle of the night.

It’s not looking like I have too many options regardless, given the position of the sun and my pressing need for tools over building a temporary shelter.

5-alligator

While out gathering wood to work on a workbench, I come across a potentially dangerous animal and pause, caught in a dilemma.

Killing an albatross (I think) is what got me into this situation in the first place. Do I let it go on its way?

Then again, it’s an alligator, in the river right next to where I’m about to hole up for the night, and it probably has no qualms about eating me when it’s hungry.

I’m already here. It’s not like things could get any worse.

I swiftly set down my workbench and put together a wooden sword, not much more than a club, really. It was already hurt, I may as well put it out of its misery.

I strip the corpse of some meat and scales.

6-sunset

Before long, it’s sunset, and I return to the house with a haul of wood and some coconuts.

It takes me a while to figure out how to hack them open.

I start work on a tool crafting area, chopping wood planks to build work tables for parts and patterns, and whittling them down further into more refined tools.

tinkerconstruct

In the middle of the night, an insistent screeching from the window makes me look up, right into the beady red eyes of a giant black spider scrabbling away at the walls, trying to get in.

It can’t fit, but I don’t want it hovering around outside making that racket. I grab my new wooden broadsword and pound down the stairs to kill it.

Just as I’m cleaning spider ichor from my new blade and turning back inside, I freeze.

7-eyesinthedarkafterspider

In the distance, I think I see strange glowing purple eyes.

Then they’re gone.

The next two days pass by uneventfully.

I explore and get my bearings a little more.

I gather what I can from the land around.

8-thegap

I get a closer look at the gap I plan to cross, and decide I definitely need to be better equipped.

I attempt exploration of a nearby cave to find that it extends deep into the earth. It’s rich with ores, though.

On the third day, I realize that I am hungry.

That there is a gnawing pit of starvation in my stomach that cannot be sated, no matter what I eat.

The coconut meat is tasteless. The scraps of alligator meat are like cardboard. The barley bread I tried to bake feel like rocks in my belly.

There is a sense of overwhelming wrongness and a strange foreboding.

9-starvation

It’s night now, and I’m feeling weaker than before.

There’s nothing left to eat. The rest of my crops haven’t grown yet.

I hear the moan of a zombie at the door, and I think, what the hell, it’s not going to get an easy meal. I have the strength for one last fight.

I grab my sword.

It is a tense battle, me keenly aware that one good hit would end me.

I kill it.

Panting, trying to catch my breath and not faint from the overwhelming hunger, I almost can’t believe my fortune.

The sun is rising…

Then its brother comes around the corner.

10-zombie

Death is incredibly painful, but it’s a short, sharp, intense burst.

Mercifully, before the zombie starts chewing, I black out…

…and then I wake up.

11-waking

What the-?

WHY AM I NOT DEAD?

It’s not until I stagger over to the lake and look down at my reflection, that I realize there is indeed an albatross’ curse.

12-whatami

I have to cross that gap.

The days blur together as I try to get supplied up for the journey.

One night frightened me though.

I arrived home to find a visitor.

13-visitor

It looked at me and said nothing.

I looked at it, sword raised defensively, and we froze in a terrible tableau of locked stares.

It screamed. A silent awful scream. There was no sound, but it was the scream of a damned soul.

Shaken, I looked away.

Then it vanished.

Sword at the ready, I raced all around the house to find no trace of it.

14-nothingintherain

I dashed outside, ignoring the rain coming down in sheets, to circle the house, all the while expecting an attack from behind.

It was gone.

I don’t know what in the world it was.

Did it come in to shelter itself from the rain?

Was it the original occupant of the house?

It doesn’t bear thinking about.

A hopeful sign today.

14-albatross-small

I saw a small albatross.

Certainly not as big as the one that grabbed me.

And smaller too than the one I shot.

I didn’t shoot this one, of course.

I followed it at a respectful distance until it flew off towards the horizon.

15-lastdirection

It headed a little left of the gap that I was planning to cross.

At least I know where I need to be going now.

(The recent spurt of Everquest Next Landmark blogger posts have left me with a curious longing for a good, creative sandbox world where I can have a real adventure AND build stuff.

Except that I don’t pay for stuff in alpha, and tales of people grinding to unlock tools and asking for refunds as they run out of stuff to do/see while everything is temporary have only solidified my decision to check it out only when it’s in a more finished state.

Vanilla Minecraft though has always had a boring sort of narrative to my unimaginative self. Appear somewhere, hide from zombies, tech up, make farms, aim to become more self-sustaining, mine for ages looking for ore to get to the next tier, figure out what to do with the immense amounts of cobblestone generated in the meantime, eventually find diamonds, make a Nether portal, and get bored somewhere in the midst of exploring the Nether and never get to The End.

I tried a few custom survival maps – getting shipwrecked and have to survive on an island, etc. and while they started off fun, things always got boring once I got food sources stabilized and ended up in the endless mineshafts looking for ore routine. Custom building objectives don’t really cut it for me, since I mostly build square and rectangular basic objects and get baffled by instructions like build a two-story house, or anything more complex than that.

I’ve always wanted to try the industrial Tekkit/Technic packs, but so far have wussed out at the thought of having to learn additional sci-fi or automated machine complexity.

Surfing around their website though, revealed the Hexxit pack, which sounded like a more interesting fantasy adventure variant of Minecraft and slightly more manageable to learn.

Well, not really, but damn, is it fun.

I’m not sure how I’ve gotten along this far without being able to cut down trees at their base (TreeCapitator), or with a really neat map (Map Writer.)

The biomes seem quite a bit more varied, and there’s a ton more items and objects that smooth out some of the kinks of Vanilla Minecraft. Cotton as a source of string, fer example, or a use for zombie flesh by being able to convert it into leather.

Re-watching Pirates of the Carribean sealed the deal by giving me an idea for a roleplaying narrative that both made sense and should help smooth over some of the places where I tend to get bored – namely, being obsessively careful about not starving and not dying and ending up camping in one spot indefinitely, being safe as doornails.

An undead curse means that one can die and always come back to life.

I don’t have to worry about being forever self-sustaining with food, because hey, undead curse, suffering and starving is part of the deal.

A Wandering Jew sort of trope will hopefully get me to hoof it more across the world, rather than being very satisfied and comfortable where I am, thank ye.

And doubly hopefully, Hexxit will provide enough of an -interesting- world to explore, over plain ol’ Vanilla.

If anyone is interested in their own attempt, feel free to download Hexxit.

You can probably even recreate my map by using the same seed – which, unimaginatively enough, is “The Curse of the Albatross” without the quotes.)

GW2: Wait, Why Did We Want to Run Away Again?

On the bright side, at least it's not made of terribly expensive hard-to-obtain materials

They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our city!

O… Wait…

Dem feels.

Remind me to get a second round of screenshots sometime this week.

Already went for a quick pass because I’m a paranoid story speculator, but this about cinches it.

This just in: Beachfront property values take a nosedive...
This just in: Beachfront property values take a nosedive…

Bout time, though. Bout time for real consequence, and hopefully, gradual reconstruction some day.

The poor lion's days are numbered once more...
The poor lion’s days are numbered once more…

GW2: Why the Current Scarlet Fails As a Compelling Villain

Nope, she's not here either. Color me unsurprised.

Much has been said about the absurdity of her genius and the amount of suspension of disbelief required to take her seriously. We won’t rehash that argument today.

Her Harley Quin personality is a matter of personal taste. Again, not the key issue, despite it being a fond target for folks who simply dislike her.

In literature, the literary element conflict is an inherent incompatibility between the objectives of two or more characters or forces… The literary purpose of conflict is to create tension in the story, making readers more interested by leaving them uncertain which of the characters or forces will prevail.

Wikipedia on Conflict (narrative)

Herein lies the true problem.

What exactly is Scarlet’s objective?

We. Still. Don’t. Know.

Without this clarity, we do not have any CONFLICT.

Without conflict, there is no tension. No suspense. And no damn interest in the story.

Players cannot oppose Scarlet’s objectives if we don’t know what she’s up to. We can’t be the villain to her hero (or vice versa) if we have no clue as to her motivations.

 

scarletsmysteryobjective

We have to stop her! Apparently.

From doing what though? Dunno. Graffiting the landscape? Wait and see, I guess.

And she’s certainly not opposing us, is she?

Despite being supposedly set up as the villain of the Living Story.

After all, who exactly is the protagonist of the Living Story?

Is it us, the players?

We began with pretty much no objective. Our destiny was to be fighting dragons and we defeated Zhaitan (but stupidly forgot to burn or even check on the body.) On to the next dragon, right?

Mysterious things happen and our objective becomes find out what is going on. Obstacles set up in our path mostly involve wading through a sea of red names with no real setbacks and collecting a drip feed of information as the writers felt like giving them to us. Certainly, Scarlet wasn’t actively preventing us from finding out what was going on. She just stands around giggling, being mysterious and telling us it’s all going to plan, toodle-loo.

Somewhere along the line, most players’ objectives have converted to catch and beat the hell out of Scarlet and her minions because they’re bloody annoying.

While admittedly she remains elusive, thanks to deus ex Arenanet, players have been galloping along a wave of success with very little ups-and-downs (innumerable Molten facilities trashed, clone armies of Aetherblades farmed, Queen assassination attempt foiled, more rustbuckets left lying in pieces, giant krait tower strewn about the landscape in even more massive pieces, etc.)

Scarlet’s visible successes appears to be several new factions-of-the-month, a dead Lion’s Arch councilor whom we’d never heard of (promptly replaced by another), the removal of Faren’s clothing, and some homeless quaggans.

Oh, the villainy...
Oh, the villainy…

We cannot suffer a story setback if we have no clue what she’s gotten away with. She could be building a giant molten toxic twisted steam dragon golem airship in her super-secret base in the Mists for all we know.

After all, she’s gotten away with murder and graduating from three Asuran colleges. In her backstory. Behind-the-scenes. Read the website, thanks.

But without visible setbacks, there is no perceived threat or tension to the storyline.

Nor are we really uncertain which of the characters or forces will prevail here, right?

Game-wise, the player is bound to prevail eventually.

Story-wise, she -could- prevail, except we don’t even know what she’s prevailing over. We’re reaching the end of the story and we still have no bloody clue.

The best villains are those we can empathize with, almost get into their skin and understand. Their motivations are clear.

They may go about achieving their objective using very questionable means, which morally, the heroes are bound to oppose, but most don’t go about what they do for shits and giggles. They have a compelling need to do what they do.

Magneto believes the war of humans vs mutants is inevitable, and that homo superior will eventually win. He’s just hastening the process and defending his kind.

Hannibal Lecter is a super-intelligent and urbane sociopath who likes the taste of human flesh and doesn’t have moral compunctions against ridding the world of stupid and rude people.

To bring it back to Guild Wars examples, Vizier Khilbron sank an entire nation. Why? To stop the charr invasion. For his god and for power and eternal lichdom.

As for his god, Abaddon, well, nevermind that he’s a murdering psychopath, he’s been -betrayed- and -backstabbed- by those dirty Five Human Gods and chucked into a plane of eternal Torment, so -of course- he wants revenge.

Minister Caudecus is wise and beloved by his supporters, especially among the nobility. He’s just politically opposed to Queen Jennah’s decisions and enough of a human supremacist to prefer dealing with cutthroat bandits than with charr.

Ajax Anvilburn, on the other hand, is a charr supremacist who can’t let go of the war either.

Kudu is researching Elder Dragons. Important research that can’t be disrupted or delayed for such minor things like moral qualms regarding the use of lesser species to accumulate further knowledge.

Mad King Thorn wants OUT. (And a joke that kills you.)

Bloody Prince Thorn wants OUT and to show daddy who’s boss.

Scarlet has no such motivation made clear, beyond apparently keeping one step ahead of the players and laughing at them. Her primary purpose appears to be trolling people. We call that a childish griefer, not a compelling villain.

Oh, and fusing seemingly random things together, I suppose. For research purposes. Because this somehow holds the key to… what? Leylines of magical energy? Did she get cheated by Zommoros once upon a time? Did she fuse her brain with an asura?

Maybe she found some really good weed when she looked into the Eternal Alchemy.