I don't care what the code says, I want to kill him

| Monday, September 30, 2013
Every day, millions of people walk through virtual cities and commit no acts of violence. None at all. Outside the gates of the cities they engage in the wholesale slaughter of everything in sight. They may kill hundreds, even thousands of people and creatures in a single day. Yet inside the cities they're as gentle as a highly medicated lamb who is in no distress.

Is this plausible? Let us pause for a moment to remember the distinction between realism and plausibility. It is not realistic that these people can summon demons or effectively teleport by running really fast. However it is entirely plausible. Yet it is neither realistic nor plausible that these people are so peaceful.

These are not soldiers, trained and disciplined. Even if they were, it's not as if soldiers become peaceful lambs when they're on leave. Either way, these are all heavily-armed and powerful individuals with a habit of extreme violence. They've killed thousands for a 20% discount. Or we to believe that out of the millions of people there was not one who felt a twinge of violence?

One person was angry that a limited supply item was not in stock. One other was angry that the items were too expensive. How many have been annoyed when the auction house or trading post takes a large cut of the sale? Yet none of them were inclined to even try violence, their otherwise universal solution to all problems.

It is, of course, entirely plausible that they'd try and fail. We'd see them charging up a spell or taking a few shots, fail to kill their foe, and be subdued by a dozen guards and a hundred players. We'd see them shouting at a vendor, threatening force, and end up in jail for a little while. We never see this.

This brings me to Fallout 3. Violence is my primary means of fixing problems. It is not the only means, but I rather enjoy killing bad people. Thankfully, it is almost always available. While the game does use karma to measure my killing, it only passes judgement, rarely does it restrict.

A lady dressed up as an ant and attacked a town. I talked to her briefly to see if it was just a reality show or maybe a temporary fit of insanity brought on by a bad batch of Jet. Then I blew her head off. I hate ants. I hate people who cease being human even more.

I once tried a peaceful solution. Mostly. With some convincingly intimidating speech I drove out some bigots and thereby allowed some ghouls to move into a nice place. All seemed good. Maybe peace works after all. Later I returned to buy ammo, since it turned out to be a good source of sniper ammo, which is hard to find. All the humans were dead, even the nice ones, such as the badass adventurer who had a ghoul friend. It turns out there was an argument, so the ghoul leader killed them all. He claimed that he didn't need to answer to anyone, especially a "smoothskin", their derogatory term of non-ghoul humans. I blew his head off and ignored the supposed karma loss. As penance I slaughtered a town of slavers. And robbed the weapon store, not because I needed the money, but because it seemed like the right thing to do.

That town had quests in it, the slavers even gave me one. You might expect that that would make them considered essentially and unable to be killed. Thankfully, Fallout has a radical idea: you don't have to actually be able to do all the quests. If you want to fail a quest because the quest giver was a horrible person, feel free to shoot him.

Only the central story line is essential, probably because it is needed to unlock a few areas. Characters for that can't be killed. Well, most can't. Some can because the game thoughtfully gave them computers in which they can store the information I need.

I don't normally kill everyone in sight. I like having good karma. And I made that mistake in Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, killing off rude shopkeepers. Then I had no one to sell my legitimately-acquired loot to. I did, of course, have a fence for my less-legitimately-acquired loot.

Yet even if I don't feel the inclination to kill Moira, even as she attempts to be doing the same to me with her mirelurk research, having the ability to do so makes the world feel much less like a game. Being able to make bad decisions, even if we recognize and avoid them, makes a world feel more realistic and more plausible. It is not plausible that characters created to commit violence are unable to do so.

Free money doesn't work so well

| Friday, September 27, 2013
Why is karma the most useless currency ever? Syp has several reasons, some personal to him, such as the fact that he isn't doing much crafting or legendaries. Yet the real problem isn't that the currency isn't used for buying a lot of stuff, but rather, because it is free money.

Most games don't give the AI an adaptive economy. Prices aren't based on supply or demand, but are instead based on what the devs thought would be balanced, so they end up either fixed or rising with the player's level. The usual result is that players become richer and richer, yet they will have fewer and fewer items to purchase. Maybe that first Greatstaff of Greatness drains their account, but after a few more money spiders they're ready to go again, with nothing left to buy.

In part this is due to the lack of costs. You don't need to buy many potions or boxes of ammunition to shoot spiders. In fact, if you did, you wouldn't go. Players aren't going to spend more on an adventure than they'd get from it unless there is some non-monetary reward. However even that case is similar to buying the Greatstaff of Greatness, a one-time cost that doesn't affect the overall trajectory. Y=X-10 has the exact same trend as Y=X. If costs were higher, but not quite higher than rewards, then it would slow the trend, not stop it.

I generally like having more money, whether virtual or real. It's a habit of sorts, to scavenge and not let perfectly good assault rifles go to waste just laying around on the trail of corpses. Or in real life I try not to throw away food.

Games reinforce this by making money rather tight early on, and often necessary. Your armor needs upgrading, your weapons are weak, and you're homeless. So you scrape and scrounge, learning to save every last bottle cap and credit. You develop the habit of calculating the value/weight ratio of everything, shuffling items in and out of inventory to maximize your haul, regretting every extra pound you carried into the dungeon.

Next thing you know you're rich, yet still in the habit of gaining wealth, despite it being of no use any more.

Adding in other players can help or even fix the problem. They want things too and are willing to pay for them. Developers can stick a tax on the transactions to gradually destroy excess currency. This does require that players have a reason to trade currency, meaning the addition of commodities (trade materials) or services (help with content). Having players also makes it easier to add sinks, because with one player a sink either works or doesn't, whereas with many players it only needs to work for some players, who will then attempt to draw currency to themselves.

Arguably karma fits into this, since it can be used to purchase items that can eventually be traded with players. However karma only goes one way, into gold or materials; players cannot trade to increase their karma. The karma sinks then need to be effective for every player, since there won't be any ability to use other individuals as sinks/magnets.

There's my quick fix: make karma tradeable on the trading post.

Buying a Bullshit-Ender in the Store

| Tuesday, September 24, 2013
This post is inspired by Rohan's post, Money is Not Time.

Bullshit is subjective.

Once upon a time a Binding of the Windseeker dropped. Being surrounded by friends who clearly harbored a secret hatred for me, they all insisted that I take it. I spent the next year struggling to put together half-competent pugs of MC, since said friends had thoroughly burned themselves out on MC or had quit.

Back in BC we only had ten extra levels, so soloing MC wasn't something you just did. You needed help. Yet the perception was that MC was old and therefore easy. The effect was rather like putting on a seat belt and deciding that it was therefore safe to drive straight into walls while completely sober; being drunk would actually help to relax and reduce the damage. We could still die, to trash, if people were careless enough, and they often were.

This all had the effect of creating one hell of a sense of entitlement. Surely after enduring all this bullshit I had earned my binding. I'd put in my time. I'd had some flow and fiero. Eventually I was a bit sick of it and torn between wanting the binding and the badass-looking sword and wanting to not have to herd cats through a land of lava and laser pointers.

I saw the appeal of a cash shop. Once I'd put in the time to feel the sense of ownership and reward, a bit of money wasn't going to ruin anything. Certainly just buying a second binding the moment the first dropped would have been rather lame. Yet after months of weekly runs, or more than weekly since they didn't always succeed and needed a second attempt, I was ready to trade some money for time. At that point the issue was not time, but frustration. I had already shown great willingness to burn time, and I still don't much mind grinds, regarding them as part of the genre.

Yet this was no mere matter of time. I got the first binding on my first ever run on a character that could use a binding. That was clearly not a time issue. Nor would the second one be a time issue. One year or a dozen, such a low drop rate cannot be dependably countered with time. I could only up the odds, never beat them. Ultimately it was out of my control and that's what made it bullshit.

I'd have gladly bought a bullshit-ender in the store. If anyone asked, I'd say that I got lucky on the first one and spent a year grinding for the next one. Those words. At that point I'd see no distinction between "getting lucky after a year of runs" and "not getting lucky after a year of runs and buying it in the shop" except for whatever the second binding cost. The mental earning would have already happened, but sometimes the RNG needs a few dollars to convince it of that.

But what if the second binding had been in the store from the moment I got the first? Might I have just bought it then, unearned, and consequently of less importance? There's the whole problem. For all my writing about how I'd played and struggled for the year to earn it, there is no way to track or prove that, so any cash shop can dispense ill-gotten gains. Maybe another player would feel that sense of earning in a month and would hate the implementation of a one-year/50 runs counter. Someone else would need two years and would be short-circuiting after the one-year purchase.

Leaving it up to us sounds insane. Surely you'd call someone crazy if they said that they were going to annoy themselves for no less than a year before using the cash shop. We'd tell them to just buy it and save the time. And then they would and not care in any way.

It's not the apocalypse that ruins the world forever

| Monday, September 23, 2013
We seem to take it for granted that after the apocalypse everything will be bad. Not just a little bad, or bad-but-recovering, but eternally bad. But is that actually a reasonable assumption? Humanity recovered from being killed down to a few thousand people. Earth has been repeated blown up, burned, and suffocated, the latter happening in multiple ways depending on what life was used to breathing at the time. To get sustained terribleness we don't need a one-off event, but instead a Sustained Terribleness Continuation Plan, or STCP, which is impossible to pronounce and redundant. What is the STCP? Us. People are the thing that keeps everything terrible after our initial effort.

Once upon a time a few technicians were given a task that they weren't trained for, using equipment that was poorly-designed, and as a result, Ukraine has a big ol' Zone of Exclusion around Chernobyl. A meltdown led to a steam explosion, which blasted a whole lot of radioactive mess all over the place. The disaster was of such a large scale that the USSR had to stop pretending that it hadn't happened, evacuating the shiny new city of Pripyat and leaving it all to nature. After some initial "all the trees died" problems, nature rebounded, since a lot of radiation is hardly as dangerous as humans.

Combining the story "Roadside Picnic" and the Zone of Exclusion yielded the strange game series STALKER. In it there are all manner of dangers. Some comes from the radiation scattered by the explosion and cleanup operations. Much more comes from the results of an experiment. I won't give it all away, but the general result was another explosion that twisted the laws of physics and created all manner of dangerous mutants. In fact, the bit of radiation and packs of stray dogs are the least of the worries.

People and their experiments are the big problem. To cover up the experiments, they created a fake religion, luring people in with promises of wealth, eternal life, or at least something better than living in an irradiated wasteland. They deliver on none of these, instead brainwashing them to shoot at anyone who tries to figure out what is happening. And then the hero shoots his way in, killing everyone, and possibly destabilizing the area even more, which makes the apocalyptic explosions a daily occurrence. The local apocalypse ruined the world, but we kept it ruined.

If you combine 50's nostalgia with 50's fear of dying in a nuclear war and thrown in an unhealthy dose of a timeless disregard for basic safety or environmental protection, then you get the world of Fallout. There was a nuclear war with China and now everything has been nuked except for Vegas. There are some mutants, mostly of the "radiation makes things bigger" variety, along with some people who turned into ghouls (zombies) from high doses of radiation. Some have human minds, some are feral. It's a bad world.

After so long much of the radiation would have dispersed. Animals and feral ghouls are susceptible to guns. The real dangers, the real problems, came from people. Some became raiders and drug dealers. Others joined the Enclave, which are effectively technologically advanced American Nazis who cannot merely isolate themselves to sustain their 'pure' form of humanity, but must also kill everyone else. That's right, while humanity is right back to the "few thousand people left" stage, these guys decide they need to weed out the undesirables. This becomes a plot point, surprisingly. New Vegas introduced Ceasar's Legion as a technology-hating slave army dedicated to conquering everything, which was also incapable of actually managing an economy or doing much of anything besides fighting. Raiders seem almost reasonable in comparison, since they sometimes recognize that if they kill everyone there won't be any more people to rob.

Worst of all were the vaults that the people designed. They all worked. Some worked to preserve human life, saving thousands of lives. Many more worked to drive them insane in new and creative ways. One was split down the middle to test paranoia. Another was designed to let in radiation, creating hundreds of ghouls. More than a hundred were built and less than two dozen were intended to just save people without subjecting them to extra torture.

I'd mentioned environmental protection and basic safety, so here goes. The background radiation, while an issue, would have fallen dramatically. Only a few locations are still heavily irradiated due to the bombs themselves. Many more are irradiated because of poor storage of nuclear waste. Leaky steel barrels dot the landscape, fallen out of trucks, dumped all over, contaminating the water and soil. In Fallout: New Vegas there is a little exhibit about these that uses absolutely no subtlety to show the exceptional lack of attention to, or regard, for safety.

The cars appear to run on nuclear power, and take barely more than a nudge to explode, often triggering chain reactions. One might even wonder if the bombs ever needed to fall, if a few car crashes might have done the trick. And of course players might find that these little nuclear bombs are handy improvised weapons, so it's not as if we're the sparkling heroes of humanity.

Certainly both of these worlds suffered from human-caused nuclear disasters, but it was their actions leading up to and in response to the disasters that created the long-term problems. Crises are momentary, but human nature and the resulting messes, are nearly-eternal.

It's not the knowing, but the knowing how to know, and I don't know that

| Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Something spoiled me rotten during my years of WoW. I memorized a lot, but beyond that, I learned how to find information. With such a large and long-running community, WoW has exceptionally good resources for learning about the game. Wowhead would have all the dungeon loot tables, quest chains, you name it. Everything was in there and I got good at finding it. Comments would add tangential, but useful, details. If I wasn't sure of a bit of lore, wowwiki and now wowpedia could help me out. Worst case scenario I could google for some class and crafting guides.

I miss that.

Of course there is something great about the early dungeon runs when all the rewards are a surprise. Then you start to get the hang of it and you've run the places a dozen times. The surprise isn't there anymore. You've moved onto another stage of the game and another stage of fun. Now it's useful to know where things are so you can pursue them. I've grabbed what I could from the random draw, now I'm after something specific. What dungeon or raid? What faction? Is it BoE and readily, if obnoxiously expensively available of the auction house?

Sometimes I think I had more find finding out how to find items than actually finding them. The former has a better payoff too. I'll ditch the item and have no more use for it. The information, that I can keep forever, and maybe use again for another character, or another player. I like showing off what I know, not so much for gear.

In GW2 I'm back in square one. I don't know much and I don't even know how to know much of it. The community is smaller and much newer, so inevitable the resources aren't going to be as plentiful. As a result I do a lot more stumbling around. I don't mind doing things in a less-efficient manner. What I do mind is that I may not know if I'm even getting anywhere. Can I get to that zone from here, or am I running into a strong current? Is that a jumping puzzle or will I hit an invisible wall?

This is not the quest that turns the tide of the war; it never is

| Monday, September 16, 2013
When you get down to it, the GW2 hearts are quests. They're a lot more flexible than WoW quests, but they are ultimately quests. At this place, do this or these things. Yet there is a key difference that I think makes GW2 quests superior. It's in the quest text.

It's not the lack of quest text. They have that too, if you hover over the heart. They even send you letters, which is better than needing to trek back to the quest giver through the bandits that you supposedly wiped out but have since respawned. But that's not the big improvement.

Quests in WoW were almost always about advancing. Complete this quest and you'll have changed the world. You assassinated the enemy leader, smashed their army, and saved the day. This then looks ridiculous when everything has respawned. WoW dealt with this with a mix of phasing and ignoring it.

Quests in GW2 are almost always about maintenance. Sometimes they are literally that, including fixing broken equipment (which I suppose are repairs rather than maintenance and the accounting department is going to be on my case). Often times they're more generalized: thin the herd, keep spiders away from our apple trees, help downed patrols. All of these are things that need to be done, but none of them are the single thing that breaks through and wins the war. It's all keeping the world from collapsing, rather than raising it up. While that sounds less fun, it also makes a lot more sense in the context of a game where everything respawns. WoW dailies have this same feel, but they are dailies and therefore get no praise.

In general terms, WoW quests are written for a non-static world, while GW2 quests are written for the static world. Given that both worlds are essentially static, set pieces placed there to entertain, rather than to be remade by players, it makes a lot more sense to write the quests to fit the static world. In effect, by accepting that it is a theme park they make it look less like a theme park.

Even the dynamic events fit into this. Something shows up to go on a rampage and we stop it or don't. If we don't, then there is an event to clean up or retake lost ground. Alternatively, if we capture something, we then get an event to defend it. The enemies actually fight back and can do so successfully. If events simply reset, then we'd have the illusion of progress. Instead, we can actually make progress, taking and holding ground, but if we heroes wander away for too long it falls apart. It is temporary, but it is not illusionary.

[edited for a bit of grammar]

GW2: It's all connected! Events, Hearts, Dailies, and Trains

| Thursday, September 12, 2013

As the title and highly-detailed and complex diagram indicate, GW2 has a wonderful way of making everything interconnected.

Dynamic events often take place in the same area as the quest hearts, with qualifying enemies often spawning with it or being the expected filler between the boss fight. The result is that you either kill two birds with one stone, or two kill birds with two stones, but the second one doesn't fly away and make it hard to hit it.

The daily achievements tend to include a large dose of killing in a particular zone or mob types, both of which are the inevitable results of hearts and orange circles.

I tend to like the champion trains, though in a sense they're all I know, since I wasn't around for the clearly better thing that happened before them (I've been there before, I know that change is always for the worse). They feed into the dailies, giving some of the trickier things such as veteran kills, and an abundance of junk to salvage.

While we're on the subject, I rather like the daily system. The gathering one is a natural part of any movement outside the cities. At least until I've finished my hearts the zone kills are a freebie. Salvaging flows from killing. That leaves two more, and those can be as easy as reviving player or NPCs or doing a couple events, both of which you're probably going to run across during hearts or gathering. There are WvW ones as well, but I've not yet needed them. Given the sometimes slow pace of WvW I can see how those could be tricky for someone who wants to hop in for a quick completion. Of course I dislike the aquatic slayer one because I get disoriented underwater, but I've never felt like I needed it, so I see no major problem.

Finally, there is a missing link in the diagram. Players eagerly work together on chained dynamic events. Maybe chains aren't trains, but they rhyme, and that's what really matters when you're drawing diagrams on a chalkboard.

Being a dungeon noob is stressful

| Sunday, September 8, 2013
I finally did my first dungeon in Guild Wars 2. Not a year late, for I took about a year off, but surely it shouldn't have taken me this long. The first was available at 20 or so. I didn't even consider doing one until I was near 80. Even once I'd decided that I would do a dungeon it took days to actually do it. It's time to round up the reasons why, and maybe see if there is anything to do about that.

 Guild Wars 2 is not nice to new people. It is particularly unkind to WoW people. In fact, I attribute my ability to have played it again and not wandered away confused to my having not played much WoW in months. Instead I played shooters, and Civilization, but the latter is not relevant. I spent a lot of time aiming while moving, shooting things while not letting them touch me, and generally working out the notion that I should run like a chicken with its head cut off, but like it still has its head and is carefully avoiding the guy with the axe.

WoW has movement, but outside of PvP it doesn't have much quick movement. Get out of the fire, but what's the rush, really? Boss drags you in, you run out. Outside of the choreographed dances the movement is comparatively leisurely. Add to that years of muscle memory of exactly how fast your character is, and probably every single boss fight too, and there's very little pressure. Guild Wars 2 likes to do devastating things very quickly, and you cannot simply move, but must instead dodge, because in this magical world rolling on the floor makes you temporarily invulnerable to most attacks.

Some mobs I could fight a half-dozen at a time and maybe have room for one more. Other mobs will seriously tax my survival with just one. It's something to do with evading attacks. Some hurt more, but more importantly, some are broadcasted more clearly. Maybe the animation is longer, maybe it's bigger and more dramatic. Compare dodging a centaur's knockdown with a bunch of little tiny spiders shooting poison.

Scale this up to a boss level and maybe you'll understand my reluctance. I could die at any moment and I would very likely have no idea why. Was there a constant AoE? How much did that condition hurt? When exactly do I dodge? This was exactly what happened on the first boss. I died and died, not in any of the red circle spam, but dead anyway. Maybe I should get a couple pistols so I can do more than auto-attack when at long range.

Generally people have been pretty nice in Guild Wars 2. Not sunshine and flowers nice, but rarely are they blatantly rude. Yet there are just enough mean people to keep me on edge, wondering if I'm going to find myself back in trade chat, or worse, a random PUG. It's not fun being on the losing end of a boss fight, or a group fight, and with my almost total lack of experience, the odds of the former, and therefore the latter, were daunting.

There is no LFG tool. I don't mean an automatic random cross-server group generator. I mean that it has nothing. There isn't even a way to list yourself as looking for a group, putting Guild Wars 2 instancing at the same level of sophistication as pre-Burning Crusade WoW. On the plus side, the waypoint system means that once you've found the entrance there's little travel time to worry about.

Thankfully, players have made their own lfg website. That's great. It's how I found my group. But it sure would be nice to not need to tab out to check it. I wonder how many people even know it exists. I didn't until very recently. Though given that it's about 50-50 that anyone saying lfg in a channel is told about it, I suppose many people have some notion that it exists.

So far my dungeon experience probably doesn't sound so great. The first fight was admittedly awful. Before and after that I died running past trash (since mobs leash in instances this seems to be the way to go). I was a blantantly noobish noob who was somehow level 80 and didn't even know to switch to group-oriented tools before the boss. Yet no one was mean about it. They gave some basic directions and a few bits of advice. At least one bit could have been appropriately followed with " , dumbass", yet it was not.

One particular bright spot is the res mechanic. With all the defeated NPCs that give experience and sometimes quest credit, it's a habit to res things. Run over and click on them. In combat, out of combat, doesn't matter, though it is a lot faster out of combat. In group events you'll see a few people helping up the dead person. I'm not even sure it's an altruistic gesture as much as it is a habit. The result is that I didn't have to deal with an angry rezzer who refused to do so. People just pick you up and go back to shooting nightmare vines.

In the end I got some shinies and the idea that maybe I could run some more in the future.

Why we do want to read your MMO stories

| Friday, September 6, 2013
I stand by my previous post: I don't care what you're doing in your MMO.

The key is in the word your. The stories in the game, we have those covered. Those aren't your stories; they are the game's. Listing them as what you will do or just did doesn't make them your story, unless you're using the old "put the entire chapter in quotations and pretend I wrote the paper" trick from high school. Note that I never did that because I never learned to type and therefore, given my laziness, was unwilling to copy someone's book chapter.

Let's stick with the word your and get rid of your guild's stories too. We're not in your guild, applying for your guild, or friends with anyone in your guild besides you (we like you, though).

But your stories? Those are, for lack of a better word, good. Your stories work. Properly written, of course. The story that you create and experience matters. It is everything.

That story is feedback for the developers. It says that you hate something, even if you feel stuck running it every day (that's why you quit the next month). It says that you love something, even if you don't get to run it as often as you'd like (but it's worth the entire sub by itself). It says something that the player statistics cannot: it says intention, motivation, and feeling.

That story is a review for other players. It tells them what other players have experienced. They can learn from it, knowing what to expect. Guides sterilize the experience. Posts can bring it to life. That life may be good or bad and to write about either is to help players know what is coming. It helps players pursue that which they enjoy and avoid that which they do not. If I say that World vs. World reminds me of old Alterac Valley, despite being void of facts or analysis, that will clearly tell some people to rush toward it, and others to avoid it at all costs.

The feelings that come with a relaying of an experience can help other players with their perspective. It's easy to fall into one's own perspective and fail to see any other. It's not a lack of empathy, but of imagination. A post can nudge us out, show us a different way to see it. Dull may be relaxing; frantic, exciting; rushed, efficient. Maybe we'll see both at once. For example, during a round of champion farming I found myself feeling two feelings. I was in awe of the efficiency of it all as the zerg went from spot to spot, with pinatas popping with showers of whatever that yellowish shade is that is better than green. I was also annoyed at the pace of it, as a bit of loading lag meant a missed kill. What an awfully stupid place! Yet, how wonderful to see players working together for mutual benefit, calling out where to go if someone was lost or new (I was both). Worst case scenario I skipped ahead to the next spot and waited a few minutes.

Sadly, that last bit was not from a post that someone wrote. Rather, I thought of it myself but couldn't post it. How could I? I'd said that no one cares about those stupid sorts of posts. Thankfully, my terrible writing left me a wonderful loophole, or perhaps merely refinement of meaning, to explain that we play more than what is scripted, and that's the whole fun of it all.

Violence is not the answer; it is the only answer

| Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Guild Wars 2 quests, lets call them what they are, are a fun break from the usual system. Being geographically-based, rather than log-based there's less to track and no need to worry that you've wandered off out of the appropriate area, because it is clearly indicated, always (even when WoW started labeling the mobs I still ran into a few problems). The variety is great. No more ignoring everything else to only focus on one particular problem. Bear attack? Too bad, wolves are the ones that give credit.

There's often even a non-violent path. Maybe it's fixing up a place rather than killing bandits. Maybe it's harvesting plants and scaring birds rather than killing bandits.

And yet, is violence ever truly not the answer?

Consider these scenarios:

You have a town in a series of caves. There have been some minor cave-ins, but the overall structure seems solid. But having debris around isn't attractive or safe. So you hire someone to clear it. Rather than using shovels, they pull out a rifle and napalm and blow up the debris.

You have a nice apple orchard. You need someone to harvest apples. Rather than hiring someone to climb the trees, you instead opt for the nearest adventurers who need a bit of karma. Why you'd hire someone who is primarily focused on treating karma like a bank account, I do not know. But you get what you pay for, which is a crazed, wandering killer. They pick the apples, not by climbing the tree, but by shooting it until apples fall out.

These take place in the Nightguard Beach (Harathi Hinterlands) and Shaemoor Fields (Queensdale), respectively.
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