Not long ago, my guild leaders had, ingeniously, created a user chat channel on Ghallanda and then invited other guilds to link in. Result: a meta-guild chat channel where anyone can call for assistance, advice or just to talk. This helps a bit in trying to form up raids and other quests.
But often I cannot help, and I realize now I’m contributing to a larger problem.
DDO’s leveling system compels you to push yourself along. It doesn’t take long for a first-life character to go from 1 to 20 since there is no XP penalty.
Add in a Tome of Learning you received at the start, Experience Elixirs, a Voice of the Master, playthrough bonuses and other quest-related bonuses and your character will be capped before you can say “Troll in the dungeon!”
But what is harder to do, for me at least, is to return those characters to the start.
I’ve generally thought this is just a personal problem, so I just play. I’ll begin to think that, hey, I need to do some “Devil’s Assault” runs to build up some Tokens of the Twelve and get a few characters reincarnated.
While I’m twiddling my thumbs, however, other players have needs.
In the game, the adventurers are generally considered mercenaries at worst, heroes at best.
But the NPCs are simply objects we interface with in order to get a mission and get rewarded for it.
There should be a larger fight we, as players should be rallying to battle.
All veteran players should fight to keep others in the fight. I’m speaking of helping anyone that needs a hand. For any quest. At any level, at any time you’re available.
That all sounds logically sound, right? But often we have our own agenda as we log in. Perhaps we had planned a series of quest runs with other guild mates.
In my case, I’m often playing alone. Sometimes its by design because of a character’s goals, like Kiricletica. But even she has had exceptions to her rules and has joined a group once in a while.
It’s clear that soloing the game is less helpful in helping a fellow player out. And I have no problem in assisting except…
- my characters are all too high in levels
- I don’t like playing my under-equipped level 11 cleric
- I don’t have anyone flagged
- I need to log off to do an errand/make a meal/get some rest
- I really need to do this “one thing” this evening for this one character
- I have a latent fear of joining a disastrous PuG filled with strangers
- (Insert other lame excuse here)
So, over coffee this morning, I’m making an examination of conscience. This isn’t a new thing for me, but I often do it in the context of my Catholic faith, before going to Confession. Keep the spirit shiny and all that.
But since DDO is filled with real people, the concept still applies, despite this as a venue for recreation.
We all enjoy feeling being heroic in the game. We feel a sense of accomplishment after beating a tough quest. But should that feeling be only of self-aggrandizement? Posting your achievement on the DDO forums? Posting of your victories on a blog? (Guilty as charged.)
I should be helping the real people to their victories, too. To help them overcome their obstacles so that they not only have better characters but are also better players that will also help others and, thus, help the DDO community stay healthy. I shouldn’t simply play alone as often as I do.
I do help a little for others with this blog and the Monk guide. But scholarly writing and advice is one thing. Commitment by action is another.
What triggered all of this for me was a player, online in the meta-channel last night, that complained and lamented that, despite several people online at the time, no one would come to their aid.
This wasn’t some non-player character. This was a real person that needed help, even from the context of play. If you didn’t know, I literally have a Bachelors of Science degree in Play (Outdoor Recreation). I know that, without play, people show poor judgement skills, are more depressed, and are simply unfulfilled.
I even saw this complaint from my own guild leader, who logged off in frustration after venting one day. At first I was put off. “You’re the frickin’ guild leader. It’s your responsibility to encourage others to play,” I thought.
But now I realize that putting all of the responsibility of cooperative gaming at the feet of the guild leader was like asking a president or prime minister to fix everything as if they were some kind of superpowered and omnipotent being.
I’m an adventurer, too. I can help.
So I questioned myself. Phrases of “Why couldn’t I help?” turned to self-lashings of “Why didn’t I help?”
In What I’ve Done, and in What I’ve Failed to Do
I’ve discussed recently what I’ve hoped to do with my characters in their next or present lives. I’m going to add a larger challenge for myself to this.
For my Monks, Syncletica and Lynncletica, I want to TR them so they can join in assisting any players. I don’t play them as often, so I can keep their adventures in parallel with what other players require. They’d both be on their third lives so XP will be less plentiful and so they’d level slower. I’d like to have a 5-level differential between them. If Syn is level 1, then Lynn is level 6.
For Ryncletica, I’d also TR her but have her concentrate on guild-related help but also join in that same separation. I want to have a Heroic character available at any 5 levels (5, 10, 15). That’s a lot of Token farming and it will take time.
Newbie first-lifers Kiricletica and Flynncletica will still be played as they are until I can TR them. Szyncletica, now the ace character that can solo most anything, will stay an Epic character for farming Tokens and other tasks, assuming Lynncletica’s place as the ultimate character in my dojo.
It’s fun to write here about what I’ve discovered about the Monk class or what others have found and how you might be able to apply that knowledge for your own gaming. But I also see now that true heroism, in the very spirit of Dungeons & Dragons, requires cooperation. Doing that which is required for others. Not because it is easy, but because it is hard.
Further, DDO needs more adventurers to come to the aid of other adventurers. Soloing can be fun, but that’s not what players in DDO, a multiplayer environment, should be doing exclusively.
Heroes, by definition, are sacrificial. There is nothing gained for free. Neither true joy, freedom or accomplishment can be attained by simply paying attention to our own needs. The classical hero often dies in the accomplishment of their mission. Western stylings of heroes often make them ride off into sunsets or rooms with bags of money and members of the opposite sex. This was why Neo died. Why Russell Casse died.
It’s not dying that’s important, but to express how important it is for others to succeed by investing your time, your energy, as much as yourself as you can, to help others reach that goal.
Being merely an adventurer does not make one a hero. You gain that honor not from what you do, but from what you do for others. Some players need saving.