Blame it on Bilbo :)

Or: how I came to join and stay :)

by Huan-(Valar) , Maia
Later promoted to the Vala Salmar-(Valar)
Oct. 15, 2000

Valar Guild > Histories > Huan-(Valar)

    When I visited the library early spring of 1999 in order to find a nice Cpu game for my son, I also borrowed a copy of Diablo for myself. I was looking for a new leisure to combine with a busy job and a happy family life. The necessity of flexible timing had since years brought me to Role-playing Computer Games. I had been playing various variations of the RPG “Exile” by then, but my Aragorn, Finrod, Luthien, Galadriel and Gandalf had become indefeatable in that game. These character names were a logical choice for me btw, being a fantasy literature addict and having read Tolkien since the early seventies.
    It took me a few days to play the single player game to its end, and I thought it was a thrill. So I decided to buy a copy. Then I tried the multi-player game, which was to be my first experience with online gaming. And I entered a world far beyond my comprehension!
    I thought of myself as being rather adept in the Anglo-american language as far as non-natives go. But eww? The combination of Diablo slang (pk, ksoh, pvp, etc.) , turbo-cpu-short-cuts (afk, np, mp, brb, imo, inmho, etc.), but especially the astonishing variety of curses and other abuses completely dazzled me. The first character I created – typically an Aragorn -, was immediately killed and then chased through the net by a lvl 45 who said he was of the “Clan of (Whatever) Souls”. Quite naively I thought: Now what fun can it be to raise a character to such high levels and then go chasing newbies? I had of course never heard of either “hacks” or “pk”.
    I then entered a game called “helping newbies” and there was a guy who had spread a whole variety of magic and unique items throughout  the center of Tristram and beyond! Without a word he gave me 2 rings and an amulet called “obsidian zodiac” and some other great items. Would you believe my thoughts: “Now there is a kind person” :). I gratefully accepted, thanked him politely and asked him whether he wanted to play a game, which he would not.
    Somewhat later, I joined a game with a title like “legit, no pk!”. I had no idea what this title referred to, but I was to sort of find out. When entering the game I saw the words typed: “Watch out! hacker!!”, and then: “Leave PK!”. My thoughts: “Now what do they mean and who are they referring to?”. I took the liberty of asking this, which resulted in quite a few insults which were unmistakenly meant for me. Quite puzzled I left the game.
    After  a while, I occasionly started to meet people who were willing to explain a bit what was going on here. I started to understand, slowly though and bit by bit. I deleted my first Aragorn and started from scratch. And I started to stay away from anyone who was apparently affiliated with one of these “clans” or “guilds”, whether PK or PKK. For I just wanted to play the game. But  what a hard time I had to find people that were not either in hacks or PVP or into all kinds of language abuse and muscle behaviour. At first I found this behaviour to be somewhat interesting. What is it that invites people to misbehave when they think they are anonymous? But it soon starts to be simply boring. And these “clan” and “guild” members were the worst of all.
    During the summer holidays of 1999 I played multiplayer Diablo quite a bit, but it was proving an arduous job to find occasional stars in the darkness of the multiplayer jungle. Where do all these idiots come from? What is it that attracts the worst kind of people to that game? Or is it the game that brings out the worst in them? In fact, I was almost about to give up on the whole thing. But then.
    Then early august, I met a nice young American who was playing under the name of Bilbo. We had a good time and succeeded in doing in Diablo together. He then politely asked me about my views on gameplay in general and specifically Tolkien. I answered him and asked him the same. To my horror he then invited me to a test to join his guild! “Oh no!” I thought, “He seemed like such a nice young man”. :)
    He must have noticed something of my reluctance and he did a great job informing me of the uniqueness and  moral standards of this “Valar Guild”. And I had to admit I was attracted to the Tolkien aspect.. So, allbeit somewhat hesitant, I followed him to the Valar channel, where to his disappointment  there was nobody but us. He fell silent, explaining that he was whispering to find a “Vala” or “Maia” to do the test. After quite a while – I was beginning to regret the whole thing - a guy named Ulmo-(Valar) joined. Bilbo explained that this Ulmo had just seriously injured his hand, but was willing to do the test. Ulmo had to type with one hand though, and was clearly in pain. But he apparently did not want to let down Bilbo, who was rather thrilled with having a new “recruit”.
    It had been quite a while since I had read LOTR and I had always read the book in Dutch. Besides, I had read the Silmarillion way more often. But, because the answer of “Swimming” instead of “Drowned when boating” was given half a point, I was allowed to pass. Bilbo was overjoyed, the good fellow. I myself was less so. I was glad that I was allowed the take up the honourable name of Felagund-(V), but what was I getting into? I was soon to find out.
    I was to find out that I understood nothing of the game of Diablo and only little of Tolkien. And I was to find out that this Guild was everything Bilbo had promised and more. The incredible patience with which the members – especially Ulmo proved to be a mentor - were willing to be good-humoured about my multiplayer illiteracy and my incredibly bad Diablo play, were prepared to explain, to teach me and to help me along: The experience actually humbled me. I had much to learn and with the help of my new Valar Guild friends I started learning.
    And now, as Huan-(Valar), I am learning still. Btw I am at the moment learning how to play DII with a “pre-war” 133 MHZ pentium I computer, which is rather an impediment to my coop-possibilities. Freezing now and then because of the hard-disk lag combined with the usual lag,  I am still more often to be rescued than that I can be a saviour myself. Typically for the ways of our Guild, nobody is complaining. Thanks to you all .

[Note from Varda 2009: Felagund continued to improve dramatically in both Tolkien lore and in the learning of the games that we had then and added later, becoming highly expert. He earned the Maia honor name of Huan-(Valar), then on to Valar honor as Salmar-(Valar) and served on the Council. After the Irmo name became free and at Varda's suggestion to reduce confusion over which honor level he was, he took the name Irmo-(Valar). ]

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