12 January 2012

My SW:TOR Story (Warning: LONG post)

Ok this post is going to be quite a bit different than my usual fare, so let me explain.  I have been enjoying Star Wars: The Old Republic immensely.  It has some warts that I am hopeful they will address in the coming weeks, but by and large I love the game and don't regret leaving my other MMO's to devote my time to it.  But... I am essentially playing the game entirely alone.  I have no guild.  I have no friends.  And the total lack of substantive social/grouping tools in the game has made many of the group activities that I enjoy difficult.  While I don't mind playing what amounts to Knights of the Old Republic 3-11, that is not going to hold my attention in this game for the long term.  I need a guild.  I need people to do things with.  So today's post is in essence one big "Looking for Guild."  I know I only have a few readers at this juncture, and the odds of any of you playing on the same server as me are slim at best, but at the very least, this will get what I'm looking for "in writing."  Or maybe some of you could point me to some SW:TOR social resources that I have yet to locate on my own.  I really wish Bioware had official forums dedicated to individual servers, rather than the setup they currently use.

So here's what I am looking for... I am searching for a Medium or Heavy Role-Play guild that also participates in group activities such as Flashpoints.  I do love to RP, but I don't want that to be the only thing the guild does.  Often I find RP guilds focus exclusively on their storylines and neglect the actual game content.  Or they will call themselves "Light RP," which essentially means they don't do it at all and are just a conventional PvE guild.  I am hopeful there are guilds that do both.  My Republic characters are on the Vrook Lamar server (West Coast/RP) and my Imperial characters are on the Begeren Colony server (West Coast/RP.)  My available play time is erratic due to family and work commitments, but generally I am playing most during the mid-day and on the weekends (I work nights most days.)

What I'd like to do now is "introduce" my characters.  I know that established backgrounds and character concepts are important for successful RP, and so I want to demonstrate that I have well thought concepts for my characters and to give prospective guilds an idea of what my capabilities are as a player.  I will include their current level and spec as well.  Once again, content is as important to me as RP, so I want guilds to know what I can contribute in terms of in-game activities.  If you have read my other posts you know that I am willing to switch characters and am not "married" to playing any specific one exclusively.  For example even though I just "dumped" on my Smuggler a couple days ago, with the support of a group I am sure I could whip her into a fabulous healer.  So without further ado... here we go.

Republic Characters:  The Zhon Cartel -  A cabal of smuggling interests led by the cunning Captain Zintee Zhon.  This is my explanation for the game's Legacy System and shared surname.  Each of my characters on this server is a member of my Smuggler's operations for the purposes of role-play.

The Ringleader:  Zintee Zhon (Scoundrel-Sawbones-Level 37)

Legends regarding Force-sensitive twins have existed within the Jedi Order practically since its original founding.  While different Masters have placed varying levels of confidence in these legends, twins with any sort of Force aptitude always attract the attention of the Order.  So it was for the children born to the Zhon family.  Jand Zhon was a minor functionary in the office of a Senator from a backwater planet called Abonga.  His wife delivered the twins Zintee and Zinto while they were stationed in the Coruscant office of the Senator and thus immediately attracted the attention of the Jedi.  While both children did demonstrate sensitivity to the Force, Zintee was never able to manifest it in any specific way.  For her, the Force was little more than what she would come to call her "Scoundrel's Luck."  She had an incredible knack for simply being in the right place at the right time and always coming out on the winning end of a deal.  So the Jedi did not bring her to Tython for training, but instead kept a watchful but distant eye, should she exhibit more powerful abilities later.

Seeing how the Republic operated from inside the office of a Senator, Zintee quickly became disillusioned with the "official" ways of doing business.  Political red tape, bureaucracy, and senseless laws and regulations became the "enemies" that Zintee fought against.  This disdain for authority eventually led her to the "wrong" side of the law and she began a career as a minor Smuggler.  Taking an "advance" from her father's government pension, she purchased a small starship and took a job running guns to Ord Mantell.

Zintee is a criminal, but not for the sake of inflicting damage on others.  She sees herself as working "outside the system" to help those who need it.  That said, she will put her own benefits ahead of others when the two come into conflict, but she will not go out of her way to kill, steal, or otherwise hurt the innocent.  Her priorities are simple... what helps me first, what helps others second, and what helps the Republic whether they realize it or not.  She would never call herself a patriot, but at the end of the day, she knows the Sith Empire is bad for business.  The Republic is far from perfect, but in her mind it is a matter of the "devil you know," as opposed to the one you don't.

(This is my healer, and for all my complaining about my problems soloing, every instance I have healed with her has been successful with only minor difficulties.  So I am confident I can be a good healer if given the chance.)

The Stalwart Conscience:  Delarre Yson (Jedi Shadow-Kinetic Combat-Level 22)

One might wonder why you would find a Jedi amongst a Smuggler's crew, but Delarre personifies the common thread that binds Zintee's comrades together.  They all have seen the corruption and inefficiency that plagues the organizations they love or represent.  And they all have made a decision that a bit of "extra-legality" is permissible in order to preserve those institutions.  Delarre is a loyal member of the Jedi Order, and if confronted would never deny such.  But in rising through the ranks of the Jedi, she discovers that the Order is just as much plagued by bureaucracy and suspect leadership as any other organization, despite the image they portray to the outside world.  But like with all things among the Jedi, things are not entirely as they appear.

Delarre views herself as the "conscience" of Zintee's rogue crew.  She sees it as her responsibility to prevent the Captain or her associates from doing anything deliberately violent and destructive.  And while Zintee herself is often restrained in this regard, her other comrades are not, and so Delarre often finds herself as the last line of "defense" between an unfortunate innocent and Zinto or Jendia's mean streaks.  Her loyalty to the Jedi and the Code is constantly strained by this, but Delarre simply views it as the burden that the Force has chosen her to bear, and so she does not question it.  But there is more to Delarre's self-imposed mission than she realizes.

Her Masters in the Jedi Order have not forgotten Zintee's latent Force abilities, nor the violent tendencies of her formally trained brother Zinto.  While given no formal directive from the Council, part of her purpose is to observe the Zhon twins.  If Zintee exhibits any overt Force powers, or if Zinto shows signs of falling to the Dark Side, the Masters of the Council will be made aware through their connection with Delarre.  She is not aware of this mission, nor the latent potential in the Zhon twins, but the Jedi always have plots moving within plots, and Delarre's presence among Zintee's crew is no accident.

(This is my tank on this server.  I've only done the two lower level Flashpoints, and while Shadow tanking does feel a bit odd, I have been mostly successful to this point.  I've only had one wipe, and that was in Hammer Station due to someone getting knocked off the platform.)

The Flesh and Blood:  Zinto Zhon (Jedi Sentinel-Combat-Level 11)

While his sister Zintee did not display any overt Force talents, Zinto demonstrated them in abundance.  It was clear from a very early age that he was extremely strong in the Force.  Thus as soon as was practical, he was sent from his family's home on Coruscant to the new Jedi training facilities on Tython for formal Jedi training.  He became the hope of his parents to escape the mediocrity of their lives on Coruscant and every holomessage from his father attempted to remind Zinto that his family's hopes were riding on him.  Zinto took these messages to heart and it pushed him to train ever harder.  He immediately rose to distinguish himself from his peers and was selected by his Masters for early advanced training.  The Jedi Order was in need of strong leaders and so caution was bypassed in the hope of creating the next generation of great Jedi.  In Zinto's case however, this may prove to be his undoing.

As the pressures of training and his family's expectations began to mount, the strain took its toll on Zinto.  Every exercise he pushed himself that much harder.  Every lesson he studied that much more intensely.  It mounted to the point where something eventually would have to break, and unfortunately it cost another young Padawan his life.  Zinto was practicing lightsaber forms with other students, when in a tragic over-correction, he put an excessive amount of strength behind one of his blows.  The overmatched and unprepared Padawan he was facing crumpled under the assault and fell dead at Zinto's hands.  His Masters determined it was an accident and agreed to continue his training, albeit at a reduced pace, but Zinto did not learn the lesson his Masters had thought.

His Masters believed that Zinto would be humbled by the incident, would learn to temper his strength, but this was not so.  The lesson Zinto learned was that the strong always overcome the weak, and they should not apologize for being strong.  Zinto came to view his superior Force talents as vindication of this strength and that it was his to use as he sees fit, not some Code recited from ancient philosophers.  While his Masters became more alarmed at his behavior, at this juncture they believed it safer to keep him in the fold than to turn him out, so he remains a Jedi in name, if not in practice.

(This is my plain old "stab things in the face" melee DPS character.  I figured the backstory would work nicely for a play style that simply wants to kill things and doesn't care a whit for anything else.)

The Explosive Enforcer:  Jendia Sentau (Commando-Gunnery-Level 11)

What do you do when the military lifestyle gets to be a bit too... restrictive for your liking?  You declare yourself to be on "extended assignment" and sign up with your friendly, neighborhood Smuggler.  Jendia signed up for the Republic military with stars in her eyes and a love of the Republic in her heart.  She was the definition of a patriot, looking to do her part to defend the Republic from the Sith Empire.  But like the rest of the crew she would come to join, she quickly discovered that not everything about the Republic was worth defending.  Between the Senate cutting deals with the Empire, the military allowing outposts to go undefended, and the absurd rules of engagement established by the Treaty of Coruscant, Jendia's patriotism quickly grew jaded and sour.  If the Republic wouldn't defend itself, then she would find another way, and that's when Captain Zintee came into her life.

The Republic was aware of Zintee's operations and despite her so-called "good intentions," the authorities wanted her shut down.  Jendia was placed in command of a small special operations squad with the orders to apprehend Zintee by any means necessary.  Jendia was actually successful in cornering her target while trying to smuggle venom off of the toxic planet of Quesh, but the confrontation quickly turned into a negotiation when both sides realized that they actually wanted the same thing.  Zintee convinced Jendia that "by the book" wasn't getting the job done and if she really wanted to save the Republic, that she should sign on with her.  While not trusting the Smuggler's motivations, Jendia couldn't argue with her results.  And so she informed the rest of her squad that she was going "on assignment" and left with Captain Zintee.

Jendia's desire to assist the Republic is only matched by her temper.  She has little interest in negotiations and prefers to let her assault cannon do the talking whenever possible.  So Zintee tries to keep her away from meetings with potential clients, unless she already knows that a negotiation is liable to end in violence, in which case she always brings Jendia along.  Often her definition of "what is good for the Republic" is quite different from that of the casual observer, which leads to a lot of gratuitous destruction, or as she prefers to call it, "collateral damage."

(This character is basically a "clone" of my Bounty Hunter.  I loved that style of play so much that I wanted to still be able to enjoy it if I ended up coming back to the Republic full time.)

Imperial Characters:  Clan Aggressor - A Mandalorian hunting clan led by the Grand Champion Kalgrien Aggressor.  Granted a clan of his own by Mandalore, each character on this server is a member of Kalgrien's hunting party.

The Champion of the Hunt:  Kalgrien Aggressor (Mercenary-Arsenal-Level 40)

The story of Kalgrien Aggressor can be summed up in a single word: audacity.  There is little that Kalgrien won't dare, whether it is staring down the blaster barrel of the galaxy's most notorious scum, laughing in the face of Jedi Masters, or making outrageous demands of Mandalorian warlords.  From the moment he took on his first contract, to the day he won the annual Great Hunt, there was never a question in Kalgrien's mind that he would triumph.  Such "devil may care" attitudes get the vast majority of the people who hold them killed, but Kalgrien is the rare one who's talents actually match his bluster.  Every brag, every boast, and every claim he makes is backed up by the notches in his blasters.  So far every one who has challenged his claims has ended up just another bounty to be collected on.

But winning the Great Hunt was only one example of his audacity.  Shortly thereafter, he surpassed himself again, this time making a demand to Mandalore himself.  Kalgrien wanted to establish his own hunting clan, despite having no previous connections to the Mandalorian culture.  Mandalore's advisers were shocked and expected their leader to evict their "guest" through the nearest airlock, but instead their leader laughed mightily and clapped Kalgriend on the back.  "Anyone bold enough to make such a request to my face, I cannot deny.  May Clan Aggressor prosper and honor!"  Kalgrien replied that honor was best measured by credits and went out to assemble the best hunting party money could buy.

Kalgrien's audacity brought him the most unusual of recruits, all motivated by their own goals, but this is precisely what Kalgrien wanted.  He wanted his clan each looking out for themselves because in a twisted way, that would guarantee the success of the group as a whole.  No one wants to be a failure and the internal competition would always push each to perform their best.  Kalgrien knows he has to keep a watchful eye on his subordinates, but that too is part of the plan.  Who better to eventually test his skills against than those he personally has trained and overseen?  Besides, given enough time, they surely will acquire large bounties of their own...

(This character is pure shoot 'em up.  He is absolutely a blast to play (literally) and the most fun I have had in the game so far.  That said, I would be open to trying his healing tree if that's where the needs are.  The heat mechanic works similarly enough to Smuggler energy that the transition wouldn't be too difficult.)

The Heavy Blade:  Furion Candor (Sith Juggernaut-Immortal-Level 21)

The last of a dying breed, Furion sees it as his duty to ensure that the true Sith are not forgotten.  As the pureblood Sith become more of a rarity among the ranks of the dark Force users, Furion does not want to see the Sith disappear quietly into the pages of history.  It offends him that the term "Sith" is now used simply to refer to those wielders of the dark side, not the noble red-skinned race that he represents.  On the surface he appears to be little more than a mindless brute, using his immense Force strength to augment his frail physical body and perform feats that no one of his stature should be capable of.  But this brutality is not without purpose, even though it may appear at times that he engages in it for no other reason than to simply inflict pain.  No, Furion's motivations run deeper than that, although he would never deny that he takes immense pleasure in random acts of violence and inflicting pain.

Furion wishes to be remembered.  He wants to ensure that the Sith as a species are never forgotten.  He intends to scribe his name alongside the ancient Dark Lords who's tombs scatter the surface of their ancestral homeworld of Korriban.  And that is what drew him to Kalgrien.  After a particularly bloody and violent "incident" in a Dromund Kaas cantina, Kalgrien approached the young Sith.  Seething with anger and hatred, the warrior threatened the burly bounty hunter.  Kalgrien merely laughed and said he wanted to offer the Sith a job.  Typically this would have resulted in yet another bloody "incident," but again Kalgrien's audacity (and Furion's ambition) won the day.  Kalgrien saw the perfect enforcer for his new clan, and Furion saw an opportunity to begin forging the destiny he knew he was entitled to.

Furion and Kalgrien do share one other attribute, they care nothing for the politics around them.  The conflict between the Republic and the Empire is simply a canvas on which they can paint their own destiny.  Whenever there is need for blood to be spilled and a clear message to be sent, Kalgrien intrusts Furion to send the message in blood, and Furion is happy to oblige.  And in terms of writing his destiny, what better way to add his name to the pages of history than to eventually turn on his employer and kill a winner of the Great Hunt...

(This character is my tank on this server.  As with my Shadow, I have only done the two lowest instances, but also as with my Shadow, I have been highly successful on both counts.  I am confident I could play a tank at a high level if called upon.)

The Stunning Slave:  Raefeli Teigen (Sith Sorceror-Corruption-Level 12)

The life of an alien is difficult within the Sith Empire.  Bound in hereditary slavery dating back to the days of their defeat in the Great Hyperspace War, all non-humans suffer to a varying degree within the social structure of the Empire.  One of the few ways one can elevate themselves out of this condition is to demonstrate Force aptitude and survive the brutal training academy of Korriban.  So it was for Raefeli.  A Twi'lek slave resigned to a life of little more than beatings, whippings, and more physical labor than her frame could withstand, she attracted the attention of a passing Sith Lord while undergoing a beating that would easily have killed someone not attuned to the Force.  But this Sith could sense Raefeli unconsciously drawing on the Force to sustain herself.  The ability to give life instead of take it is rare amongst dark Force users and so this Sith Lord immediately ordered Raefeli transferred to his ownership and sent to the academy on Korriban.

At the completion of her training, Raefeli was freed from her formal slavery, although still bound to her new Sith masters, and for the first time in her life could exercise some control over her own destiny.  What developed in her heart was a bizarre ambiguity in which she sought to oppose slavery and free those bound to it, but to support and empower the Empire itself.  She felt it was the Empire that finally granted her the freedom and opportunities she had obtained, and that if only shown the error of it, the Empire would abandon slavery.  In addition she finds the Empire's overt acceptance of slavery at least to be honest, as opposed to the Republic which condemns it officially but practices it covertly.  Raefeli believes that if the Republic is fully defeated, then there will be no more need for slavery in the Empire.

She crossed paths with Kalgrien while hunting down a slave dealer in the bowels of Nar Shaddaa.  Unbeknownst to her, they both had the same target.  When Kalgrien arrived mere moments before Raefeli could spring her own trap, she was infuriated.  Denied the kill that she had sought, she turned her Force abilities against the startled bounty hunter.  Fueled by the rage and disappointment of her failure, her assault came the closest to subduing Kalgrien that any opponent had yet achieved.  But the gritty hunter still emerged victorious.  Audacious to the end, rather than kill his weakened foe, Kalgrien said that anyone who could come that close to defeating him has to be on his payroll, and offered the Twi'lek Sorceror a job.  Raefeli was taken aback, but after Kalgrien promised that every slaver bounty would go to her, she agreed.  But if Kalgrien ever engaged in slavery himself...

(This character is my healer on his server.  I've yet to perform this function in a group as yet.  The one Black Talon run I did was with overleveled characters and so healing was no object.  Frying everything in sight with purple lighting is awesome though.)

The Silent Voice:  Cinti Decarre (Sniper-Marksmanship-Level 11)

Audacity, brutality, and morality.  One final component was missing from Kalgrien's hunting clan; subtlety.  He needed a tool to send a silent message, a path through the shadows when the front door simply cannot be opened.  That brings us to the story of the Chiss Imperial Agent, Cinti.  The Chiss are probably the only alien species within the Empire with any sort of legitimacy, and Cinti used this to obtain a prime posting in the Imperial Intelligence academy.  Trained in the highest forms of espionage, sabotage, and assassination, she quickly established herself as one of the most reliable operatives in Imperial service.  She may collect an Imperial paycheck, but Cinti is loyal to nothing and no one except herself.  Her time in the shadows has taught her that all power structures are fleeting, that even the most powerful can be toppled if the right lever is found.  She knows the time is coming for the Empire and Republic both, and she works to make sure that she survives when the galaxy comes crashing down.

Until that time, she is content with her service to the Empire, and as one of their most trusted agents, she drew a most difficult assignment.  Imperial Intelligence had been watching Kalgrien Aggressor since his triumph in the Great Hunt and while his assistance to the Empire was noteworthy, he was a "loose cannon" that could not be trusted.  Thus the determination was made that despite his usefulness, in the interest of Imperial security, he needed to be terminated.  Cinti was chosen to carry out this task.  While Imperial Intelligence prides itself on secrecy, no data packet is safe from Kalgrien's ace slicer, Mako.  Having intercepted a communique between Cinti and Dromund Kaas, Kalgrien was tipped off to the pending assassination attempt and proceeded to set a trap of his own.

Remembering that Gault had a clone of himself made, Kalgrien went to Nar Shaddaa to purchase a duplicate of his own.  Having an idea of when and where Cinti intended to strike, Kalgrien placed his duplicate in the agent's line of fire and observed from a safe distance as she made her move.  He was highly impressed with the professionalism and stealth Cinti displayed in her attempt.  Not wanting to make it too easy for her, he had Blizz prepare some "surprises" for Cinti to work around before she could position for the kill.  After the deed was supposedly done, Kalgrien met the stunned agent at the airlock to her starship.  Clapping slowly and deliberately, he congratulated her on a good hunt and offered her a choice; report her failure back to the Empire, or sign on with him.  Ever the pragmatist, Cinti realized that reporting back would be a death sentence.  At least with Kalgrien she would live to fight another day, so she accepted the offer.  But someday, she would find the "lever" that would topple this man too...

(This character is also pure DPS.  I played a bit of the Agent's storyline back in the beta and absolutely loved it, so I wanted to come back to it at some point.)

I know not all of these stories are exactly original... but I think they are pretty creative.  And heck, finding something truly original is pretty tough nowadays.  I think I did pretty good all things considered.  So......... if you managed to read all that, and are playing SW:TOR, and know of a guild looking for a good RP'er who loves to play the game, please point me their way.

I really need a place to call home.

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