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On mules and ethics thereof

April 19, 2009

Reading Willel’s comment on yesterday’s post got me thinking.

And, of course, there’s the practicality of having multiple characters with different professions. On my “main” server I have a tailor, and enchanter, and leatherworker, a blacksmith, an alchemist… Well, you get the idea. I can craft almost anything I want simply because I’ve got almost all of the crafting professions covered.

It immediately reminded me of a member from one of my old guilds. He had one character of each class, all of whom were at high level. And of course he had each and every profession covered (sometimes twice over). I was in awe, almost, of the time that he had put into each of those characters just to have each class at his disposal and all of the time he spent working on the professions, to be able to have and make anything he might possibly need on his main.

Then I reread the last line in Will’s comment: “I can craft almost anything I want simply because I’ve got almost all of the crafting professions covered.” And it made me think of My Sister’s Keeper, a book written by Jodi Picoult. The protagonist, Anna, was conceived to provide a donor match for her older sister, who has leukemia. And if none if you have read that book, perhaps you have seen the movie starring Scarlett Johansson and Ewan McGregor, The Island? Similar premise there – “explores the repercussions of cloning in a sealed-off society where humans are cultivated for spare parts, surrogate parenthood, and full-body replacements for wealthy clientele.”

Now, of course my correlation isn’t as somber and serious as either of those two things, but I wonder: is this fair to the characters? Many of you will scoff as you read that, but I do know that some of you understand what I’m saying. I see my character as more than just pixels – she’s her own person with feelings.  (Maybe I’m a closet RPer, I don’t know.)  It’s hard for me to say why I think she would be hurt to be a profession mule, but I hope that the majority of you understand.  I think it would be massively unfair.  They would sit on the login screen all in a row, glancing up and sending resenting glares to the level 80 main that gets the fruits of their labors with nary a thank you in return.  After they are leveled high enough that their professions are maxed, then they would only be logged into long enough to craft something,then they are relegated back to the login screen.  The lucky ones would be those with gathering professions – at least they would get more “face time.”

To look at it from yet another aspect: I wondered if I could level a character to max level solely in order to have access to all the professions. I know that isn’t why Willel has characters of almost all the professions. I’m just exploring the “what if” aspect. Right after I asked the question, I knew the answer was “no” – there’s no way that I could invest that much time in a character for only their professional ability, be it crafting or gathering. I need to be able to relate and connect to the character(s) that I play, otherwise I don’t see the point of investing so much time. Perhaps I just am not of the correct mindset – I lack both the desire to have access to each profession and I don’t have the need. The only reason I could see a need for it is to make massive amounts of gold, but I don’t care that much.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. willel permalink
    April 19, 2009 7:52 PM

    Very interesting point. I’d not thought of it that way before. I’m feeling very sad right now for all of my alts. I won’t delete them just so they can be happy, of course. But it does seem unfair of me to use them just for their professions. Poor Rubeola, for example, is my Death Knight and blacksmith. I “used” her to create a Titansteel Guardian for Veleni, who appreciated it a lot.Actually, I think maybe I have considered the problem you are describing and never really realized it. I frequently imagine there is some kind of story connecting the characters that interact with each other. Some I assume are related. Maybe siblings, or parent/child. Others I think of as best friends, with one going down the path of light (priest or paladin) while the other goes down the path of darkness (warlock). For example, my Alliance mage and warlock are both Gnomes, so I imagine that the mage is the big brother and the warlock is the little sister.Perhaps it’s these back stories that help me to justify how these characters would so selflessly help each other with their time and energy. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to use their professional abilities at all.

  2. April 19, 2009 10:42 PM

    Nice post. I have an attention span of a goldfish, so I can’t read books. I’ve seen the movie though.Maybe one way to look at the crafters is like the Quartermaster Corp in Army or like the Accountants in a Hedgefund. They won’t get to see any front-line action, but they provide mission critical support role to the “main”.

  3. April 19, 2009 10:53 PM

    I had another thought.My friend’s guild made the server 1st 10-man sarth+3d kill.Although it was a 10-man raid, they had 13 people in the raid. Extra 3 people were included in the raid just to sit by the entrance and buff the raid after each wipe. They essentially had full 25-man buff going into a 10-man raid.In a way, I think the 3 buffers who sat patiently outside to provide moral & fire support to the core raid were the most valuable players.

  4. April 19, 2009 11:12 PM

    I cannot level a character to max a profession even though I really need that profession to be maxed. I tried, I can’t do it. Instead, I spend money to buy the mats I need for my main and use the time I could be working on that gatherer alt for dailies or leveling some other alt that will have nothing to provide to my main.Oddly enough, I do try to think of ways to intertwine the stories of my characters so they are all connected to my main somehow… but that’s not realistic, so those ideas don’t get written down.

  5. Anea permalink
    April 19, 2009 11:48 PM

    @Willel & Syrana – hm, that is an interesting idea – giving stories and reasons why the alts would help the main. For all my assigning feelings and persona to Anea, I never once thought that perhaps the alts would be related to her somehow or have a reason to “help” her. Perhaps since I’ve never had an alt able to be useful to her in any way.@Jong – your examples of “behind the scenes” is a good one that puts the situation into pragmatic perspective. Although I did find it amusing that people might approach the game with the mindset of creating an “army” for the good of the main :) Your friend’s guild situation also gave me food for thought – I never would have thought to do that, were I in that situation. I always assume the buffs that I will (and can) have are provided by those in the active raid only.

  6. Jack permalink
    April 20, 2009 4:00 PM

    In the same RP mindset . . . it might depend on the character. If the character is a Priest who wants to go out and save the world from the Lich King (as much as a fictional character can “want” anything), then leaving him/her at home to sew is about as cruel a thing as you can do to pixels.On the other hand, if the character is a tailor who also happens to be a devout follower of the Light (perhaps a cloistered priest, like a monastic) . . . well maybe he/she officiates as a Priest in services and can provide Priestly services, but making him/her head off into the wild, violent World of Warcraft? Maybe sending out a high level gatherer to pick up materials is what that character would “want”.

  7. Aleysha permalink
    April 23, 2009 11:32 AM

    I have altitis. And on the small legion of my chars I have many of the available professions.Now, they are not all lvl 80 yet. And that’s for 2 reasons. First because I have limited play time so I have to choose who I will log and right now my time is almost all occupied with my main. The second reason is that I like to play with each of them and I won’t log just to quickly finish a lvl or gaining 1 skill point. When I play with my alts I want to enjoy it as much as I enjoyed my main. Otherwise, what’s the point of choosing different classes and races?I tend to see all my chars as a small family of which my main is the big sister. Yes, she is the one who probably profits most of the others professions but she is also the one who sends money and pots and big bags and stuff back at them (she’s alchemist and tailor).Sorry for the big wall of text

  8. Aleysha permalink
    April 23, 2009 11:32 AM

    I have altitis. And on the small legion of my chars I have many of the available professions.Now, they are not all lvl 80 yet. And that’s for 2 reasons. First because I have limited play time so I have to choose who I will log and right now my time is almost all occupied with my main. The second reason is that I like to play with each of them and I won’t log just to quickly finish a lvl or gaining 1 skill point. When I play with my alts I want to enjoy it as much as I enjoyed my main. Otherwise, what’s the point of choosing different classes and races?I tend to see all my chars as a small family of which my main is the big sister. Yes, she is the one who probably profits most of the others professions but she is also the one who sends money and pots and big bags and stuff back at them (she’s alchemist and tailor).Sorry for the big wall of text

  9. Anea permalink
    April 23, 2009 11:43 AM

    No, wall of text comments are good! They give me more to think about. Now, can you believe that after the two other comments saying that they viewed their characters as a family unit, not once did I view the older sibling (“main”) as a provider for the younger siblings (“alts”) as you did? Because it’s true – of course, if we have a main character available, we send gold and bags and pots and whatever else the younger character might need. Right there in front of me and I don’t make that connection until you say it. So, thank you for bringing it up!

  10. Anea permalink
    April 23, 2009 11:46 AM

    Hm – very interesting. That never occurred to me whatsoever. I guess because I am in the static mindset that “Of course they would want to go out and fight the Lich King? What else would they do?” (Sadly enough, anyway. Of course there are other things they could go.)Just because you are a priest doesn’t mean you are a priest in a raid. /ponder

  11. Trijem permalink
    April 28, 2009 10:35 AM

    Currently I have 4 80s (Ench, BS, Leatherer and Engineer), 2 70ish (my farmers), 2 60isch (Alch, Inscribe, Tailor, Ench). My main (Ench) is going to drop mining for JC once I collected all the mats. I intend to level them all to 80 when I have time and I see it this way: The lower level chars (LLCs) helped the higher level chars (HLCs) with their professions but my HLCs will make the leveling of my LLCs a lot easier once it is their time (with gold/mats for flying, crafted items/epics).

  12. Trijem permalink
    April 28, 2009 10:35 AM

    Currently I have 4 80s (Ench, BS, Leatherer and Engineer), 2 70ish (my farmers), 2 60isch (Alch, Inscribe, Tailor, Ench). My main (Ench) is going to drop mining for JC once I collected all the mats. I intend to level them all to 80 when I have time and I see it this way: The lower level chars (LLCs) helped the higher level chars (HLCs) with their professions but my HLCs will make the leveling of my LLCs a lot easier once it is their time (with gold/mats for flying, crafted items/epics).

  13. October 27, 2009 6:16 PM

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