January 18th, 2006

Aeon University

City of Villains and my weird brain

Two things.

One: I had a weird nightmare the other night. I dreamed that I was watching Lord Recluse, the epitome of all human evil in the City of Heroes/Villains world, as he was being interviewed by that universe's Rita Cosby of MSNBC. It was wretched. It was that awful, grating voice of hers, trying to pitch Larry King style softball questions and failing miserably even at that because she was clearly unprepared, because she was such a moron that she didn't even know the basic biographical details of the world's most famous and dangerous super-villain. I think I know what brought this on; her show follows Keith Olbermann's on MSNBC and I don't always turn the TV off fast enough, and during the last big mining disaster she was MSNBC's anchor for way too much of it. Also, someone sent me link to a fictionalized interview with Lord Recluse on one of the gaming sites that was stupid enough to have been one of hers, so my sleeping brain made the connection.

Two: Rule of thumb: I don't PvP, that is to say, I'm not interested in fighting other players. I'm not going to say that I've never done it. For example, when hunting big game in Neocron with a sniper rifle, there were times when I was pretty sure that the guy I had a bead on was going to whack me the second he noticed me, so I shot first. But in terms of seeking out PvP combat opportunities, not so much. My idea of fun in a role-playing game is playing with other people, not against them; team play, not so much dueling. But a good friend of mine online, the co-founder of the Aeon University Cheerleading Squad, talked me into a couple of quick duels at the Golden Giza casino in St. Martial, and after one of them another guy who was hanging around the casino area asked if he could join us for a 1 on 1 on 1 "Battle Royale." The resulting fight lasted most of half an hour. It was my first serious PvP combat in City of Heroes/Villains. I was using my mastermind, who has mercenaries for minions, poison for de-buffs (used sparingly), and invisibility and flight for travel powers. The character is optimized for Player versus Environment (PvE) combat, and everybody knows that masterminds are creampuffs, so I expected to get my backside handed to me over and over again, especially when it became obvious that the other guy, a fire/fire brute with the same travel powers, had a lot more PvP experience than I do. I was already expecting trouble from him before I even knew that, because brutes are as notoriously tough as masterminds are weak.

I mopped the floor with both of them. It wasn't even close. I had 9 knock-outs, my friend had 4, and the other guy had 2. At the end, the two of them had had enough of my kicking them around and so they dropped any pretense of hunting each other to gang up on me, and they still only got one kill each out of it. It was harrowing. After that fight, I had to get up and pace around the apartment, letting the adrenaline drain out of my system and working the shakes out of my hands. The randomly selected "danger room" environment was an all-too-small lobby area of an abandoned banking building, which was so small that it should have been impossible for me to find places to hide from them when I needed to get on the cell phone and hire more mercenaries, then equip them ... but I got away with it four times. At the end of the fight, they were both telling me that I had an amazing knack for disappearing, even more than the powerset should have let me; they'd see a glimpse of me when I showed up to poison one of them mid-fight, try to track me, and lose me almost instantly. The stranger said, "You were like some kind of creepy ghost or something."

I got a hint of this on a different character when crossing the PvP zone of Bloody Bay the day before, though I chalked it up to luck at the time. Just out of boredom, I took a couple of missions running simple errands where my only exposure to PvP would be if somebody spotted me between point A and point B. The character in question had no travel power, just a weak stealth that's nowhere near invisibility. On the way back from the last one, I was in fact spotted and surprised by an airborne Kheldian alien/human fusion shapeshifter, a Warshade in "dark nova" form, who should have cleaned my clock. I got away, and attributed it to luck at the time. But no, apparently I have a real knack in this game for getting good use out of the terrain. Huh. Not something I expected to be good at. My friend has always described me as "sneaky," but I always figured that was just in comparison to her direct (kamikaze) self. Apparently not. Still, my god it's a harsh pleasure; winning that match was almost as exhausting as working out for that long, without any of the health benefits.