What's Up, Dwarf?

"Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean, like butter that has been scraped over too much bread." - Bilbo Baggins, Fellowship of the Ring

It's been a while since I've posted anything substantial and I thought it time to catch you all up on what I've been up to lately. I have never been one to do the more personal posts, but I'm getting sick at seeing this blog wither and die like a spring flower in the harsh bitterness of an approaching winter. Cheerful metaphors aside, I need to get some things out of my head and onto the blog. I apologize in advance for the distressing lack of WoW content in this post.

The face of pure destruction has never
looked so danged cute.
It feels like life is getting more and more hectic everyday around the Fannon stead. The Dwarfling is a very robust 9 months now, in perfect health and fully mobile; she's crawling and scuttling around like a famished Zoidberg going after a discarded hamburger. Nothing is safe from her wrath, and a rapid and frantic baby-proofing of our house is taking place at all hours of the day as she finds new and wonderful things to get her hands on to destroy.

I'm realizing that this parenting thing is a marathon that I have not trained for; my stamina is not nearly buffed enough to keep up with a rambunctious child. And it's only going to get worse as she realizes her legs are not merely for kicking the dogs when they get too close. Once she's walking, I'm doomed.

I know all the other parents out there are reading this with a bemused, knowing smirk on their face, and a feeling of pity mixed with a certain smug satisfaction that the hell that they went through is indeed universal.

Still, she's a treasure. The best part of my day is seeing her face light up when I get home from work. Nothing in this world beats a child that's happy to see you; I look forward to it all day.

Really, being tired from chasing a kid around isn't really the major stress source in my life at this moment. That honour definitely goes to my job. If you are a reader of my Twitter account you've no doubt read my many vitriolic tweets threatening to walk out. Well, dear reader, I am still in the same job I have been for the past two years. I haven't made a move yet because the hours are really quite cushy, but there isn't a day that goes by where I don't want to punch all the things, jump in a rather expensive vehicle and drive it through a plate-glass window. I'd love to just rage quit, but knowing that the Dwarfling is depending on me for everything she has means I can't be hasty when it comes to the major source of income in the family.

I bring all this up on Battle Medic because all this real life stress is affecting how I perceive this game. Frankly, I think it's clear that I've been going through a rather serious bout of depression for the past couple of months which has been negatively colouring my attitude and sucking the fun out of most everything in my life. I feel deflated and helpless when I log into WoW and look at the character screen these days - knowing that no matter what I try to do I will likely get interrupted by family matters and be unable to finish. I don't think I've done anything on my main other than raid in over a month because I just don't have the time. It's a terrible feeling and it has turned my stress-relief activity into an actual source of stress. I hate that.

Normally when I write something like this I try to broaden the topic a bit to make it less about me and a little more universal. But in this case I can't. I can't tell you how I'm going to work myself out of the funk that I'm in, nor can I offer any advice if you're going through something similar. I don't have any answers this time.

But what I can tell you is what I've been up to, trying to keep myself distracted.

(Are you still posting about WoW, or what?)

I'm not going to deny that I have been feeling very lackluster about posting Battle Medic these days. This post took me more than two weeks to finally finish, and I'm still not really happy with it. Looking at the blank post-entry page gives me the same feeling as when I'm looking at the character selection screen; a deep sigh and an immobilizing sense of panic.

The invent of the IntPiPoMo challenge that I have been tackling has been relatively lackluster in terms of generating traffic to the blog, but if it has accomplished nothing else it has got me posting again. It's been nice to be able to talk about something that I'm passionate about that is related to the game but not necessarily about the game - if that makes any sort of sense at all. It's been nice to get back into my image archives and show my faithful Battle Medic readers some of the other images that I work on and to talk a little about how I make them.


I have still been playing WoW over the past while, even though I haven't really been posting or Tweeting about it. I have a lot of posts in the works with my thoughts and reactions to the upcoming 4.3 patch and the new expansion which will hopefully be insightful even if they aren't exactly timely. Raiding is proceeding well enough, and I'm starting to get the itch to take my recently 85 Resto Shaman into the Firelands now that her gear is approaching acceptable levels. Not that I have time to raid with another character, mind you.

What I have been doing with my playing time is to work on some side projects.

The Deadman's Challenge

I started Vrykerion and Pysnister's Ironman Challenge as well, creating a soon-to-be-dead Orc named Grykthar. I plan to post more about this in a bit, but my spin on it makes it a perma-death challenge. So no items other than white and grey, no heirlooms, no dungeons, no nothing - and when the character dies he's dead for good.

I don't think that Grykthar will ever survive to be max level - in fact I fully expect to be writing many tales of woe and misery as I kill off character after character in ever more gruesome and entertaining ways. Look for a detailed introduction to Grykthar and my Deadman's Challenge coming soon.

Gnome Clone

Lillifleur the Gnome Clone
Fear our spiky and flirty Hair-dos!
More recently I have joined the Gnome Clone Army of [ Punt This ] with my lovely little clone mage Lillifleur. If you haven't heard of this before, it's a project started by Alas; the goal of which is to create an army of Gnome twinks, all with the same look, "uniform" and similar names, that will run roughshod over the Level 24 Battlegrounds. The idea has exploded on Twitter, and the Glorious Clone Army has surpassed 100 members, none of which are more than three feet tall.

Personally, I've been having a blast with my little clone. Levelling as a mage is fun and I think I may become addicted to blowing stuff up. She's an absolute beast and has already reached level 20 - by far my highest mage to date. Not only that, but the Clone Army is filled with scores of intelligent, witty and fun people, mostly culled from Twitter. Guild chatter is fun and lively, and I have been enjoying the levelling process.

Given my current state of mind, this project couldn't have come at a better time. I've tried starting other lowbie characters (my Druid is still languishing at level 24), but the prospect of levelling a character to 85 is a very daunting thought when time is an enemy. Getting a character to a "Level Cap" of 24, on the other hand, is simple, quick and painless. I'm excited to log in and play my little clone and I'm looking forward to getting her into some Battlegrounds and burning some Horde faces. I can't say that I have been excited about much of anything lately, so this feeling is a nice change of pace.

The highlight so far happened last night: A spontaneous flash mob of Gnome Clones descended on the unsuspecting denizens of Stormwind and entertained the bewildered spectators with Gnomish dancing and formation marching accompanied with loud and vociferous proclamations of gnomish supremacy. It was probably the most fun I've ever had in game, to tell the truth. By the end we had about 20 Lilli's precision marching from the Dwarven district to the Cheese Shop by the main gates, followed by a large crowd of very curious and fun-loving converts to the gnomish cause.

The Gnome Clone Army invades Stormwind to start a Dance Party
Quite a sight to see.


Hopefully, my spirits. It's funny, but since I started writing this post several weeks ago, I have hit lows and highs - my mood has been quite variable and unpredictable - but I'm feeling a little better these days. Work has been less than completely awful the past few weeks, and the constant stream of house-guests, events and other time-sinks that have been eating away at my soul are done at least for the near term. And last night I actually managed to force a little alone time where I could just sit back and enjoy myself. It was nice and desperately needed.

With any luck your favourite Battle Medic will be back in good spirits and posting more soon. Thank you all for your patience, and perseverance to actually read through this rather whiny post. Writing it seems to have helped; I hope it wasn't too painful to read. But at least you've got a bit more insight as to what I've been going through personally the past while.


  1. Fannon,

    As a fellow daddy and Druid that takes momentary pauses from gaming on my mains let me humbly offer something that has helped me enjoy WoW again and how I fit it in with family life. Family first is a given fact. Besides our permanent Arena partners in our spouses need us to spend time with and build that solid 2man team. We have little real life alts drooling, laughing, pooping, crying, sleeping, and then smiling at us with endless amounts of crit joy.

    I think this far into life, we both have to admit we are gamers, but even more important we are hubbies, daddies, and Golden Dragon Elite figures in the lives of people we care about. That alignment needs to be in perspective and with understanding. Find the joy that used to warm your heart to fight against "the harsh bitterness of an approaching winter." Is that easy? No! But be encouraged many gaming parents run into that wall. Life's stresses should seriously step into the battlegrounds with us 1-on-1 and let us unleash a little healthy aggression out on them. Take heart my blogging, twittering, paladin friend. The Light has not left you, nor has Elune cast you into a Pit of Despair without you having a hearthstone.

    When all else fails remember these simple words from a Brand Muffin: "This too shall past." Cheers.

  2. Hang in there. Oh, and just when you think you can sleep? They start driving and dating. Cheers!! (Lived through it, you will too, lol.)

  3. Sorry about the lack of traffic from IntPiPoMo... I haven't really been promoting it at all apart from on twitter :-/ I'm really enjoying your beautiful images though!

    This parenting lark is tougher than advertised, isn't it? Hang in there.

  4. Wow Fannon, I wasn't really sure what this post was about given the title but can't help but /bearhug (minus the stun) and say that I know that you love your kid to death and it's exhausting, but when they are 2-3 years old and she comes up to you and puts her arms around your neck and whispers "I love you Daddy" all by herself, your heart will just melt and you'll forget all those exhausting bone weary days and hug her back and think how perfect life is :) Works for a whole 1 minute for me, and then it's back to the chasing my son to get him off the sink to turn off the tap and then get towels to clean up the water and then grabbing my son off the toilet to stop it from flushing for the 4th time... :) thank god for bedtime and WoW for me :)

  5. I have been reading your blog silently a about 6months and love the posts. I have gone through stress in personal life with living without my fiance for over a year, trying to sell a house and also wanting to get a new job. It consumed me and i became a different person and it reflected in how i took things in game as well as reallife. In the end i made a list of what stressed me out and decided to change what i could. Now my partner is living at home. I moved from a stressfull guild and over time i felt more relaxed. Work is now not as bad as it was before. I know friends and family who are going through the child movement stage its fun and stressfull all the time. At least they are well and want to investiage everything. I am sure things will get better and i have gnome mage who looks similar to your clone army unfortunately im stuck going through northrend :(.
    Keep posting we all love you. x Frez

  6. Try to remember, WoW is your escape.

    Anyway, I have enjoyed the recent InNa.. Whatever.. postings. You have a really niche talent there. Mixing your outside' hobbies with the blog is an excellent way to bring back the life in a big way to the site.

    Also, the more you get back writing, the more motivation you get. Like a snowball.

    Heads up,

    - Jamin

  7. Sounds like you have your hands full. I haven't stopped reading your posts because you post less - makes no difference to me. Find where you need to be and they'll start flowing again. The Dwarfling is growing up fast and that's an important thing to have time for! You need to be at your best for that too, so take good care of yourself, do what makes you happy (even if it doesn't provide post fodder) and write when you can :)

  8. If it is any encouragement I think you will be rounding out the top 10 references and fellowship of the Blog Azeroth Thanksgiving Event. The only Dwarf but a solid addition to the story.... Oh great now I have four different races to represent. Swear this all is starting to sound more like Tolkien more and more.

    Any way the pictures from #IntPiPoMo are amazing especially you real life screenshots.

  9. Ahh, Fannon....I can empathize. I'm not a parent myself, but least I know (in an abstract way) it's intense and time-consuming and utterly changes your life. That combined with the nerf bat to the face that the Firelands took have helped to put you where you are today. I've had my own struggles with WoW, and while not the same as yours, have caused me to blog less and feel a bit more stretched and stressed in game at times.

    Sounds like you're already doing what I would suggest, which is not force playing when you don't want to, find something to get passionate about or something you find fun and focus on it (like the Lilli clones or Ironman challenge you described) and just enjoy that for a time. You raid and/or force playing when you don't want to and you'll burn yourself out in a hurry.

    And btw, your images are amaaaaazing, good sir. Even your WoW screenies are beautiful and I find myself envious of your ability to capture even the most normal of things (like Dalaran). If I could order some of your pictures to print big on nice canvas/paper and frame them, I would seriously consider doing so, that's how much I love your photographs.

  10. Thank you all for your comments and your support. I really appreciate all of my readers, especially those of you who take the time to comment!

    @Endyme: The WoW screenshots are property of Blizzard, so I could never offer prints of them for sale, sadly. However, if you are interested in any of my personal artwork, that absolutely is for sale! I'd be happy to discuss making a print of anything that I have posted (or haven't posted yet) with you. Just hit me up on twitter or at fannon451 at gmail dot com.

  11. Hey dude.
    i'm right there with you on current mental state and such. we should hang on vent soon. hmm?

  12. @Jody: Yes, that would be excellent. It's been far too long since we've chatted. And I hardly see you in-game any longer. I can only imagine that with two little monkeys that things are rather hectic for you.

  13. why the 20-24 bracket and not 19s or 70s. You cant own players in high levels/19s/70s so you roll with a premade full of 24s and gy farm trials?

  14. Mr.Anonymous go get a life.

    Fannin ignore this troll. Same one that decided to bring his fail of an argument to my blog.

    Troll crying is pathetic.

  15. @Anonymous: While I didn't choose the 24 bracket for the GnomeClones, I imagine that it was chosen to avoid such "charming" people such as yourself. We play this game to have fun, not as a ePeen extender. Thanks for the comment, though. It was very entertaining.