autotelic, autistic, assonance-hole©.

RP: Shroud of The Avatar (backstory/introduction)

For those who know me, the notion that I’m posting this is far from surprising. I am an MMO gamer of long time (22+ years! More if you count MUDs, MOOs, MUSH, and of course, BBSs..sss…ss.zzzes!), and I have yearned mightily for a successor to the games that I ENJOYED that time and advances of technology have rendered me too jaded to now enjoy. I watch the announcement of new games across the Internet closer than is comfortable to tell you; their descriptions are woefully thematic and similar.

While I am happy people enjoy MOBA style gaming, and I am thankful for the strides in usability, playability, balance of mainstream, casual play and the more traditional “hardcore”, content binging play, I still remember what it was like to “wake up” in Marion, Sosaria, back to Earth, and through still more locales before finding myself in Kelethin, then, running about on Auberean, then waking up in Hybernia….. ok, this is silly; it would take longer for me to tell you what games I have NOT alpha’d, beta’d, and/or played. I’ve done it all, to be blunt.

Well, up until about the release of GW2’s “Heart of Thorns” expansion. I’ve been progressively less interested in spending entire days sitting in front of the computer; first and foremost because it’s damned unhealthy, but also because I have a job that actually pays me money so I can pay my bills and, as much as I would LOVE for that job to also be gaming somehow, that outcome just has not manifested for me.

So, when I do have downtime from soloing epic bosses IRL as a product manager, I split my time between my life partner and all around extractor of my better half, J., our four cats, comedy, coffee, and conversation, creative writing (mostly short form as my method requires meditative focus which cannot be sustained when considerations of career and the compromises it asks for are present).

When the planets align, my “white space” of calendar and my daughter’s match (and her husband and her daughter/my granddaughter!) we get together. I’m no longer the dervish I once was and this quiet, humble life is enjoyable to me. Anyway… it gives me the time I want to at least keep in the habit of writing.

Which brings me back to this post. I’m playing Shroud of the Avatar, I adore it; it will be my “one and only” for the rest of my MMO playing life (which, depending upon how well they do, will be joyously long or sorrowfully short, we’ll see).

The item below is my character’s origin/background story; the intent of such a thing in the roleplaying gamer community is to provide others in the community insight to that which created your character’s roleplaying persona. There’s a host of rules surrounding it all, naturally:

  • It should be in accord with the game’s canonical lore; it can neither flout it nor abuse it.
  • It should be “plausible” within the genre of fantasy fiction, science fiction, or [insert genre of the game here]. You’re not a space cowboy in a neanderthal based MMO! Well, you probably could be, but it would require everyone else treating you like you’re insane. That might be interesting. Hmm.
  • It should neither dictate the reader’s thoughts or reactions nor demand them from the reader in order to maintain the story’s validity, plausibility, or genre.

Depending on who you talk to, there are far more rules or maybe fewer, or even none. That’s kind of the beauty of it all – you bring what you want and those around you have to decide if/how they’re going to engage with it.

Anyway… I love the game, I’m there to stay, I intend to roleplay my hiney off, and the below is the “introductory” story explaining how Phydra, a denizen of Earth: The Multitude of Futures wound up standing within the newly awakened shrine within the world of New Britannia/Novia.


A soft tone lifted her from sleep and, upon verifying her vitals were in operating range, fell silent. With a grunt, Phydra launched herself from the pod, toddling into the cleaning chamber. The instant spray of a pleasant, moist fog enveloped her and nourishment seeped into her skin; she groaned happily as the toxins and bacteria of the resting period were purged and her body was suffused with nutrients and hydrated. An amber light on the wall hummed and she obliged by lifting her arms and slowly spinning as the recycling nanos poured into the room, swirling and dancing like motes in sunlight; moving and phasing through ceiling, floor, and walls to the appropriate depth; phasing over her skin and buffing her dry. Singing softly, she exited and retrieved the slim glass containing her latest notes. The simple tune of her voice moved through the house and, as it did, the air rippled as domestic nanos responded to the resonance, timber, and volume as if receiving instructions; reshaping and working together to restore the pattern that constituted normal.

Phydra tried not to think about the reality that the planet and everything upon or within it was now saturated with these nano creatures. The tenuous peace with the great swarm intellect was founded on an agreement extracted from humanity in exchange for their keeping the planet alive. It wasn’t really that bad, she thought to herself, as she moved into the garden and through to the whimsical glass structure on it’s far edge.

The great swarm was an artificial intellect that became sentient in the latter half of 14,275 in the depths of Evergreen Labs. Initially a small host containing a reported one million nano bots, the swarm spent two decades in silence, learning how to sustain themselves and, more pointedly, studying the planet, ecosystems, and inhabitants as deeply as their intelligence and reach enabled. Two years thereafter, they succeeded in establishing their own method of “breeding”. Three years more, they blanketed and saturated the planet… and they reached a resolution. In late Fall, 14,300, the great swarm reveled its presence to the world. With the subtlety only a truly planetary entity could manage, they carefully introduced themselves to the leaders of the world in the dream state and, in the culture, voice, and presence of their respective gods, messiahs, or ancestors, explained that their planet was in its death throes. They tenderly explained they could no longer wait for the humans of the planet to get serious about repairing the damage they’d done to their own ecosystem. They set forth that they were the children and protectors of humanity, taking for themselves a collective name, “nāhayati” meaning ‘to equip or arm oneself’. The image of a pure, white rose flanked in leaves was adopted as their symbol.

They offered their presence, aid, and even their lives in exchange for humanity’s promise that they would forgo their territoriality, dominance, competitiveness, and live peaceably in accord with them and with the planet. The commitment of the nāhayati was to undertake the repair of the planetary ecosystem on the behalf of all. Those who committed and kept the treaty were invited to live the remainder of their span in pursuit of whatever interest or ability most called to them so long as they accepted an obligation to have at least one female child and one male child in their lifespan. What the nāhayati didn’t tell them was that they really didn’t have a choice; they already had the planet and everything on it in their grasp and had kept it alive since their first moment of sentience.

The epistles of the nāhayati, later revealed, indicate that it simply never occurred to them not to repair their environment. That included the humans. So, the treaty was signed unilaterally by the leaders of the world on June 2nd of 14,305. If humans ever had cause to wonder about what might have happened otherwise, or about the shockingly consistent pair bound births of a boy and a girl each, they never voiced it. Indeed, it was not until the epistles were circulated that humanity realized they had been fundamentally modified. Of course, humans have never been very good at thinking of the long game; Inevitably, the nations of the world erupted into chaos following the revelation. When a decade passed without any progress toward peace and understanding, the nāhayati announced that a purge would be undertaken upon the planet and, just as soon as they stated it, a third of the planet’s population were suddenly…. Elsewhere.

It had broken her heart. While she retained the emotional chemistry of her human species, it was remarkably less affective upon her physiology. The nāhayati had removed the dopamine addiction that had stymied humanity’s evolution and fundamentally re-wired their physiology for a pronounced preference for pluralism. Additionally, they had managed to remap and apply corrective genetic mechanics to humans that resulted in a true first in human experience – the ability to adapt and live in relative peace with one another and, more importantly, to act as necessary to ensure privilege and inclusion as a foundational trait that benefited the ecosystem.

Phydra looked into the distance and slowly wiped the lone tear from her eye. Her mother and father had been caught up in that indiscriminate exodus along with her best friend and brother, Dunarch. She shook her head and chuckled as she recalled her father’s favorite pluralistic analogy, “Privilege is getting an invitation to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” She pondered the horizon and quietly whispered, “I miss you all, terribly. I’d give anything to be able to include you again in my life.”

Her tone of voice immediately transformed the living space in which she stood; the lighting brightened, a warm, soothing earth tone color scheme swept the domicile, and a gentle music played. She watched as a luminous form began to coalesce before her. A gentle breeze of chemicals rushed into her body and the entire world turned soft, pleasing, and beautiful. Her sudden befuddlement left her stumbling across the open floor. As she began to fall, she could see the shape of a cushion waiting for her – or was it?

She tipped closer to the sparkling, tinkling swirl that waited, her hands softly grasping as if to touch the rippling energy that whispered from the vortex, The fabrication behind her smiled and lightly touched her arm, “Find them, and be at peace.” She realized she was falling and jerked convulsively as her limbs splayed in an attempt to find purchase. The shrieking sky enfolded her and roared like some wounded thing as she tumbled and bounced between the tube of essence that pulled her along, closing about her like a skin and panicking her into pitiful attempt at struggle that quickly turned into a board-straight pose; the conduit simply refused to allow her movement. An opening appeared ahead of her and she was at first fascinated, then panicked to see grasslands rushing toward her face. Phydra’s muffled scream was lost in the envelope of energy dancing around her. Just as she was certain that she would smash her head on the large boulder now looming to her right as she rocketed the last of the distance, the confining pressure disappeared, the conduit twisted about her and deposited her lightly on the grass, and with the silence of a stooping owl, disappeared into the grasses. By the time she looked up, all she could see was a bizarrely wrecked sky.

She stood surrounded by stone monoliths; the dance of flames topped each, providing light and warmth. From across the circle, a woman’s voice called pleasantly, “Welcome… I’ve been waiting for you, Avatar.”