February 22, 2016

Moon Shine Down
Light of Night clear as Eyes
Behold
Those who smile in victory
Hold up their dance
Those who mourn a fallen friend
Grant hope to them
Those who struggle with life
Reveal a path through the coming cycle
Whether the God admitted to is within or without
Bear witness, and know that we too aspire to the Heavens

From February 19, 2014

          Does the saint mark their good-doings? Does the parent track intricacies of their duties? They proceed moment by moment, living their Truth. While Life is held, it should be enjoyed so thoroughly that one is unaware of it. After all, it is not a permanent state. Be whatever is This Moment, because it will be past soon enough.

Visiting Vanadiel

This was a bit of journaling originally written in December of 2010 a little after I began playing Final Fantasy XI. It was intended just for my Friends’ List which, at the time, was comprised solely of my friends. We’ll see if the casual tone survives repeated edits.

Editors’ Note: Please forgive the dust and potentially constant reworks this posting will go through. I need someplace to familiarize myself with some things behind the scenes.

As some of you know I’ve begun playing a Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG or MMO) known as Final Fantasy XI (FFXI). I came into this game with a plan already laid out, so I’ve lost a good deal of my week to it. I’m writing this because:

As I am writing my own game, first impressions are important. I’ll forget those over time, so this is for me.
I’ve spoken with a few of you about getting you onto this game as well. I want you to see what I’m doing so you can try to figure it all out for yourself.
To those who are I have spoken to regularly, I’d like you to know what I’ve been up to that has kept me away. I’ve tried, really, the program doesn’t allow for it.
This may get weird and short handy, but the addictive aspect has got me right now, and I have a lot to do. So here we go!

Major Players

Zseraphim: Me of course. Ragnarok server, Bastok home nation. These are important to those I want to play with me. If you get the game, select these as your server and home nation and you’ll have a much easier time joining up with me and my band.

“The Saint”: Saint is the primary reason I chose this server and home nation. He is mid-to-high level with a flourishing link shell behind him.

The Story:

Day 1: An Elvaan Thief

As I said, I had a plan. I select Thief (THF) for my first job because they allow you to gain items more readily from enemies as they level up. I decided to run my support jobs (explained later) first as they wouldn’t be getting as much frontline use. Nothing too major here. Grinded solo until I reached… oh, level ten or twelve? Along the way I got a few niceties that helped me out and introduced to Saint’s link shell. They have been most accommodating.

Jobs – Taken from the traditional FF Class System. Warrior (Fighter), Monk, and of course Thief, as well as the Mages Black, Red, and White are those you start out with.

Traits – Abilities gained from each job. In the case of Thief, Treasure Hunter allows me to gain items with more regularity.

Grind – Grinding, to grind, in any form of the word is an RPG term to build up experience points by killing enemies to gain levels. It is slow, hence the word grind.

Solo – To play on ones’ own without the assistance of other actual players.

Link Shell (ls or LS) – A collective of players, commonly known as guilds in similar mediums. The intent is usually to aid one another. You have link shells that are created with a majority of high levels, for a particular job (Summoner comes to mind), or for crafting and other such ends. The reasonings are endless.

Day 2: “Oops sry I aggrod”

Most often you are encouraged to solo until level 10. It is difficult to join a large party at lower levels. Having surpassed that I schmoozed my way into a party that I probably shouldn’t have been in. Gained several levels. One of the LS members, “AKA” was kind enough to take me around to specific points and so I could get crystals to warp. Granted, I won’t be using them for awhile tentatively, but the fact that she took the time do so speaks volumes to her kindness. On the way there our body guard picked a fight and got me killed. My first death. Little matter. We nearly didn’t make it though… I got killed in one hit, our “body guard” in two, and our mage barely pulled through. She has Raise, so we were revived with diminished penalty. Oh… like one MMO I can recall offhand you lose experience points when you die. If you play the game I have a method in place to help mitigate that.

Party – Group of players who goes out to fight. Held to the same reasons for being as link shells above.

Day 3: Why Sazh (FFXIII) is a realistic character to me

Ended Day 2 at about level 14-15. Today the goal was to get to level 18 and attain the ability to use support jobs. After setting up a semi-permanent buff to lessen experience lost when dying, I again wormed my way into a party well over my head. This is what is known as power leveling. As I only want Thief for the passive abilities, I am fine with it not being fully up to snuff. Plus, I wanted my sub jobs opened to me. After a while in a desert doing pages, the party picked a fight with a Cactuar. I was far enough away that I should have been okay, but I ended up getting pegged by 1000 Needles. As I only had 200 HP or so, I died. AKA is a mage and used Raise. I got pegged AGAIN, and revived. It was dead at this point. If you follow me into the game I will not allow you to do what I did unless I am able to protect/support you and you have the enchantment in place. The latter is my call. If I can do the first the second isn’t absolutely required. Ended up at level 17. Got the item set to open support jobs. Spent the better part of the next several hours looking for a party and found one. Got to 18, unlocked support jobs.

Support job (sub job) – At level 18 you can “equip” a second job and use it’s abilities at half the level of your main job. So a level 20 warrior can use a level 10 white mage to its greatest potential.

Power leveling – Gained levels as quickly as possible. In this game that is not good per se. To use Saint’s term, you’ll be…

“Gimp” – You gain skill levels from doing things like attacking and using spells. Typically on those of a comparable level to you. If you were to gain ten levels in an hour with no work (of which there are ways) you’d hold the level with none of the skills. As such you’d have a rough time standing toe to toe with foes that should be your equal. i.e. – If you go from 12 to 22, you will have to fight things around level 22 to gain weapon experience. (Editor Note: I learned the preceeding to be false, or it was changed at some point and I simply can’t remember which. Ideally, you’d have to find enemies that matched your skill level. You’d want enemies around level 12. You could fight the enemies at 22 and just gain the levels slowly at first.) The amount of damage you would do would be much less than it should be, and you’d not have the weapon skills you’d aught to. Basically, you’d be a level 22 with the punch of a level 12.

Page – Used to help train. Thus far for me: Kill X# of this enemy and X# of that enemy to get bonus experience. Do you need to do pages? No. But if you’ve going to kill 10 cactuars anyhow, why not get bonus points for it?

Tabs – Used for a number of battle/training related purposes. Gain the temporary ability to regenerate HP or MP, or repatriate (repate) to your home nation.

Cactuar – Bastards. Walking cacti with a reputation in FF. We and they have a history…

Marlboro (various spellings) – Yes, akin to the cigarettes. Bad Breath. Don’t know? Lucky you.

-Tonberry – All three of these “worth mention” enemies are green. Hm…

Day 4 – Dawn of a New Day

Bonus points if you know the reference. Anyhow, I’ve begun using White Mage (WHM) and am leveling that. You have to level your sub jobs up like you main, but not as much since you won’t be regularly using them. Getting up to 15 with White Mage and at least 25 with Thief so that I can accomplish Rank 3. As Saint is helping me with the fight I’ve got to follow his stipulations.

Rank- Opens up more of the story I think. I’m doing it to gain more mobility: You can acquire an airship pass at Rank 5.

Day 5- Astral Flow

It should be said… the addiction part of my personality has come into play. I haven’t slept in days by this point, so the “days” are more like “chapters” since I can barely remember the proper order of things.

I’ve explained power leveling already, yes? It’s good for sheer levels, but horrible for the skill involved. Coming into the game I learned of something called an Astral Flow. The Astral Flow ability belongs to Summoners, giving them specific trait bonuses. I don’t know exactly… summoning won’t be my thing. Now, the Astral Flow anyone else is concerned with involves going to specific locations, drawing the mobs, and killing them with Avatars’ (Espers, Eidilons, GF, Fayth, and these were named well before the movie) AoE attacks. So I’m grinding along, hit level 12, and choose to rest and empty my inventory. As I’m returning to my mog house I receive a tell from someone I didn’t know asking if I needed experience. Really. Who doesn’t? Ever. But they were being nice, so I returned the cordiality. They told me to meet them at the burn site. I did so, joined the party,  who synced to my level, and watched the show.

At this point I’m going to wax idiotic because… well… anyone who has played Oblivion around me knows how I get with numbers and details on my games. Basically this part can be skipped. It probably will take as long to type as it did for the process to complete. There are some definitions from the section below.

Anyhow, the point of the level sync during a Flow/Burn is to stay out of the way and watch. Really. If you’re asked to be a sync, that’s all you’ve got to do. I would highly recommend aquiring an Emporer Band before doing a Flow. I got to the site, and it began. You must be close enough to the action for it to appear on your action/chat log, and it is suggested you face the scene with character and camera. You’ll know when you’re close enough. Trust me. Once you get to the site, activate/burn your Emperor Band. As soon as things start dying, you’ll start leveling. I had 13/2500 XP tnl when I came in. I blinked and was at level 15. Literally. I had the status screen open to chart my progress point by point, blinked, and was halfway through level 15. Shocked… I did a double take and blinked a few more times, and poof, level 17. At this point I drew my knees under me and began rocking back and forth. The sheer amount of XP reeling into me was… unprecedented. I imagine it’s what Charlie felt like when he got the Chocolate Factory. At some point early on, one of the summoners was apparently subbing a Corsair and used Corsair roll to further boost experience gain. That means nothing to you more than likely. It’s important for me to remember. Anyhow… it didn’t end until my White Mage was at level 23. My sub out leveled my main. Gimp-ish, but it out leveled my main. This left me in something of a pinch. Asking Saint, he still wanted my Thief at 25 for Rank 3. Still, having a 23 White Mage would be useful.

Drawing/pulling- Attacking something will cause it to agro. While normally not recommended to do one more than one than one enemy at a time, in the instances of A(stral) F(low)s you’ll want someone, probably of a high level, to do this. Seeing all the monsters that an area will spawn at a given time in one place is weird, especially when they all start dying.

Mobs- Run of the mill monsters, generated for the purpose of being killed off for one reason or another.

Avatar- What a summoner calls. It’s funny now when some calls Shiva.

AoE- While I’m prone to use different wording, the MMO term seems to be Area of Effect attack for any ability that hits a wide area.

Mog house- Every character is granted a place of their own, right from the word go. Used for extra storage, changing jobs, and a few other specific uses.

A tell- When using the chat option there are many varieties. A tell (or perhaps a whisper in other games) is used to tell something to a specific player in a private way in real time.

Burn- from what I’ve gathered, used to mean any event in which a larger than normal amount of experience is gained

Emperor Band- An item with a timed enchantment granting greater experience acquisition. Of the varieties available, Emporer, Empress, and Chariot, go with Emperor. Just so there are no questions GET AN EMPORER BAND. There is a way to get one for free, so don’t shell out conquest points for it. Conquest points deal with a specific game mechanism for who controls which areas… I think. Great way to chart your effect on the world.

XP- Experience points

Tnl- “To Next Level”, how many XP needed to level up. I’m using abbreviations sporadically because in talking to you all, it is best to be plain. These phrases are prevalent enough for me to make use of them.

High Noon of Day Five: Sync

As there is much to say in regards to this, it is it’s own section. This is a mechanism that I am happy is included. I probably wouldn’t have thought of something like this for a long while. Syncing will make the level of all characters in a party match the person of the lowest level. Why would you do this? Experience amounts changed based on levels. It’s not excrutiating to grind the first several levels. But when you notice that bee or worm you killed for 80 experience four levels ago MAY now give you 30, you’ll want to find more worthwhile enemies. That’s at level 5. Imagine at level 85. The difficulty of the enemies for minute rewards. This is part of what makes FFXI a GREAT community game in my opinion. I’ve literally partied with level 85 characters, synced to my level. Your stats are limited, equipment enhancements reduced, and the level is capped to the syncs, but even someone at higher levels can then earn experience at a good rate in a lower leveled area. If you start the game when I’m at 40, I can sync to your level and we can party together on equal footing. We can go and actually fight instead of just having me one-hit kill everything. Or I can PL, which is to remain outside of a party to heal and to one hit kill anything that comes after you while you do your thing. GREAT in groups. Really. That’s why I want a group of you together to start at around the same time. You may need to be level 30 to solo a specific mob, but a group of six level 20s can do pretty good too. And with no experience division it is in your best interest to be in a party (under the helm of someone who knows what they’re doing… gr…). Syncing is a wonderful mechanism. The appeal of MMOs and multiplayer games in general is to play with others. Syncing allows this despite how much progress you’ve made.

Day 6

After a small shopping spree paid for by Saint (50,000+ on spell scrolls… ouch…) my White Mage had most of the abilities associated with its full level, even if my skill levels where sorely wanting. At this point I was ready to party. So Saint took me from my humble beginnings in Bastok to the lively Jueno. Ye gods is Jueno laggy. I need a better computer. Anyhow, once there it turns out that having gotten my Thief to level 19 previously made me the perfect draw to attach to a Qufim party. In hindsight, the party was a let down. My deaths are on my hands, but on the whole it wasn’t a great party. Later on, leadership shifted, and we got trucking. We killed, we leveled, and even when popped by banshees we kept the hits coming. As I had not slept in quite some time I logged off earlier than I intended and hit the hay.

Before this I got my chocobo license and shored up some of my lacking White Magic skills.

Today, work, food, play. Get to 25, start chocobo raising, head to San d’Oria (no clue how to spell it properly), insert myself in the wood working guild, get into the logging hobby… and I think that’s all. Oh… refill my Emperor Band. That could help.

Skill levels- In the event I haven’t elaborated, skill levels are use to denote the effectiveness of combat, crafting, and all other skills. Most skill levels are capped one way or another. For combat, it is by level. You never lose progress, but if capped you won’t gain any. For instance, if you run a Black Mage (BLM) who uses a staff, raise them to level 10, and cap the staff skill at 100 lets say for discussion, then use a White Mage with a staff, you still have the 100 staff skill, but will only be able to utilize the level 1 cap amount. Each class has different affinities, so the same White Mage at level 10 could have more than a capped 100 affinity at level 7.

Party- As in group with other people. Not kick ass and clear rooms ala DMC3/4.

Day 7- The Path to Power

In an attempt to get to 25 I returned to Qufim with AKA. There, we got into a party. The party organizer was particularly gung ho and confident. Whereas most people I have partied with were cautious with lulls between combat to rest, he pressed on. It was beautiful. We got into chains where 500+ experience were earned at a time. Considering that I usually earned 50-70 a mob while soloing, this was a major difference. I hit 25 in no time. Sadly, the organizer was truly an annoyance. He was vulgar and uncouth. This, if for no other reason, is why I wish to get to a point where I am organizing my own parties into battle. Fortunately, this type of thing can bring a party together, if ironically behind the back of the organizer/leader. As such, I think everyone got the levels they needed, and I know I made at least one friend through this.

Night of the 7th Day- 1 Week and One Update Later

The game has changed. A lot. An awful lot.

This has nothing to do with the update, but with my personal experience. So I’m stuck at level 25. There is no place that I can solo that is safe for me, and I’m hard pressed to find a party. Well, I was yesterday, but there was an update. So I went looking around for my next round of leveling items and tinkering with lower level jobs. I had time, I could… needed tabs. Gr… So I pick up items, do what I need to, and while I’m going along I’m speaking to the leader of my Link Shell over the LS-limited chat. And at some point I’ve gotten his attention. Because…

Now I’m a sack holder. Shut up. Quit being vulgar.

When you are admitted to a link shell you are given a link pearl. This allows you to tie into the channel. It takes a space of inventory, but gives you access to the LS, which is worth the space. One of the reasons I have progressed so quickly is because as soon as I logged in Saint was online soon thereafter to admit me to the LS. Now I can not only guarantee, but personally assure you, as soon as you log in you will be a member of my link shell… because I am one of the one who brings people in.

This said… what I’m wanting: I want six people to join the game. I’d pay for you all for the first few months if I could. The reason for six is because of the jobs originally available. Warrior, Monk, Thief, White, Black, and Red Mages. Also, six people make up a complete party. If there were six fresh characters to make up a party. I don’t know how you could be more balanced. Many of you know how I am when it comes to character creation and the foresight I wield. I’ll help you pick your first favorable sub from among the original six and/or your first advanced job. And together you’d level, grow powerful, and have your own internal clic. To a degree you’d become my army. At least that’s how I’m thinking of it. Having a group will allow you to rarely if ever search for a party and level up fast as you can take out things together you couldn’t handle otherwise. Having me at a (hopefully) high level to come in for more raw power. You’ll be connected to my primary shell and should I ever choose to branch off you’ll be in the position I am in now: Sack holders yourself.

I’m set on getting to lvl 30 or Rank 3 soon. I’m hoping to do so by Wednesday on both counts. That’s about all for now. If you decide you want to play Final Fantasy XI talk to me first. I’d love to work you in.

This covers everything up until now. Off to the game. Additions will be edited into this note/document. As always question, comments, and discussions welcome and encouraged.

Coming Attractions

          In needing a bit of break from all the social deep diving (here is hoping that nothing happens that “inspires” me to do so) I’m hoping to write a bit about games again. I came across an old “journal entry” from when I started Final Fantasy XI, so I’m going to add that here. That said, there are a lot of changes behind the scenes that I have not taken the chance to adjust to. While it will be posted nigh immediately, there will be a lot of changes over time as I tinker with it.

          After my Final Fantasy XV review (which I need to go back and edit since much of my formatting has disappeared) I wanted to move backwards through the mainline Final Fantasy series. But I can’t talk about XIV without talking about XI, and I wasn’t putting the time forth to manage that. Hopefully some of you all can look forward to that. I have not done any game writing in a while.

Hurt People hurt people

          I started this month tired and angry. I was wholly worn out. The past several months I’ve been focused on social commentary and how everything that is being in America is effecting me. I was burned and heartbroken and to cope I just wrote off much of Right Wing, Conservative crowd of folk as “Variable C”. I found it to be dehumanizing. I was that angry, and to some degree I still am I asuppose. Just because the world is a grind doesn’t mean I should chew up others and spit them out. I act towards a better world. And if everyone does what is in their scope, I think that the world will be better off. I want the future to be so alien that people wonder how we lived at all.

          Through one part patience and one part procrastination I was primed to open my ears and look for something… anything really, to keep me from wholly hauling off and going on a verbal tirade. As I let a “Watch Later” playlist of YouTube videos run an analysis of a Final Fantasy XIV character came up. During which a phrase came to mind… or to ear. I can’t rightly recall. Either way, it is the present title.

          “Hurt People hurt people.”

          I’ve got… two-hundred some odd drafts of various types kicking around behind the scenes here. And while I want nothing more than to develop them all into my typical long-form articles I don’t have time for that. The people that agree with me won’t mind reading it. But the people of Variable C likely won’t sit through several thousand words of me taking potshots at their worldview, and they are who I need reading my words the most.

          Going on schpeels in comment sections does no good. I am oft charged to ‘open my eyes’ to their opinions and ‘really listen’ to videos that challenge my views (often delivered from a Black speaker) and the same courtesy is not done for me even in sharing just my own experiences.

          Part of me is broken. And while I’ve collected the pieces and arranged them so that I’m able to recognize a semblance of myself again I am not all together.

          This is not as… professional as I prefer to be. But I’m exhausted. Getting energized and fired up has burned me out. But I look at America, the next couple of months, the impending Presidential election, and I have to at least talk. I have to say what I need to say because it needs to be said. And if I’m being honest? I’m genuinely afraid I won’t be around to say it.

          An unusual aspect is that it is not a fear for myself personally. When I was alone and estranged in my late teens I had bad and questionable experiences occur. But it didn’t matter to me because no one relied on me. No one asked after me. And if they did, I wasn’t in a place to hear them. Or I figured they could deal with my eternal absence one way or another. But through my various phases of “just making it” I was welcomed into the homes of my friends with their children. And over all the odd times and in regards to all the various ways children look up to elders I came to a point in which I could not deny my import to them. From simply being given a familial nickname to the sheer belief that I will be at a birthday party because I had never lied to the child. I mattered, broken and incapable as I viewed myself.

          I’m not afraid for me. I’m afraid for “my kids”.

          A story. As a child I went to three churches. When I was seven or eight, just about the time for First Communion in the Catholic community, I remember my pain from Christianity becoming more directed at me. I was not baptized and, as I had not followed the chain of Sacrements, passages in the Bible about the eternal fate of the unbaptized were… a tad more relevant to me than most of my peers. Across the Great Schism at another church, the message was reinforced. If I died unbatized and/or without giving my heart and life to God and Jesus, I would burn in Hell. There would be no amount of good I could do to avert this fate. I opted to go through a baptism ceremony at the third church, one I actually felt empowered in. But it did not matter to either of the others. I hadn’t done so in their tradition, so it was not recognized.

          The following year I became a hellion. And why not? Nothing I did mattered. My fate was the same. I also remember speaking openly about killing myself. Not due to any particular imbalance I think. Merely because I saw no point in my continued existence. If I lived one or one hundred years my fate was the same. And I did not want to go through another one or two baptisms. I did not want to be a part of groups that made me feel that badly about myself. Between the birth of my sister and… the admittedly silly reasoning of “If I can control my actions and emotions I can become a Jedi” about a year or so later I felt compelled to forge my own path and stick around. I had something of my own that mattered. However, even today I am prickly when it comes to Christianity as a whole.

          My story was mirrored recently. An acquaintance of mine has a son who is about eight himself. He is mixed, half Black. Another child in his class told him specifically that Black lives didn’t matter and that, since he is half black, he did not matter.

          I can’t say how that will stick with the child. But I know how Christianity’s damning of me sticks with me still. Yeah… I heard it every day but Saturday until I was in eighth grade, but… It starts early. I still remember racist shadows and wonder if that was about me or if I’m just looking for something to be aghast and clutch my pearls over. And I look back on my previous experiences to try to make sense of the new ones that happen. I try to find similarities. And yes, as you can imagine a writer doing, I make a story. But in that story I prevail. I’m a model Neutral-to-Lawful Good protagonist. Help others, do the right thing, prevail, and leave the world a little better in my wake.

          But the reality is that my story may end abruptly. Making the decision to leave the house even for a simple walk is a harrowing decision. And it has been so since I was eighteen, the first time I was stopped. It is most disruptive letting down my defenses and feeling good about life only to have jarred out of it with police intervention.

          There are really big problems in the world, yes. We should all really be focused on fixing those. I wholly agree. But the problem is that those issues are leagues on the other side of the horizon.

          I don’t feel safe leaving my house. I can’t focus on global affairs, politics, or human rights issues when putting one foot outside my door is a paralytic thought.

          Hurt People hurt people. I don’t want to hurt anyone. But I have to tell the truth. For instance, President Trump has, to date, refused to denounce White Supremacy. Such organizations persist in America and have been emboldened by his presence, and that is a threat to me. They view him as being on their side. And it’s not just Trump’s problem because it persisted long before he was in office and before either he or I were conceived or born which is saying something.

          This world is broken. I want to fix it. For myself. For you. For everyone that follows.

          I have to tell myself constantly that I can’t change you or your opinion. I can’t “fix” you. You aren’t broken. It is hard when I see opinions echoed from the world. But I am going to work to keep that mindset well away from me.

          But I ask you to keep reading my works. And I’ll keep listening to yours. It’s important to the sake of our friendships that we do. This is my blog. These are my words. This is my truth. And if you see that a choice that you make truthfully hurts me, even apart from you, I can only hope that eventually, you may choose differently. If nothing else so I can come and visit you. I accept that eventually can be a long time. I also accept I may not be alive to see it.