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Sirens Call and Villainous Alt-A-Holicism

A fairly routine day in City of Heroes, but some cool stuff transpired.

Psi-Caster's adventures throughout Paragon City have slowed down considerably. Part of this, no doubt, is thanks to Cryptic setting the experience gain rate dail to "molasses in tights". But, there's two sides to everything, and no doubt my choosing not to group today had a lot to do with it. I was curious about what rate I could go through foes solo now that I've my Phantom Army fully greased up with single origin madness and ready to hurt things. The answer was a mediocre "reasonably good" - probably not quite as fast as a Scrapper or Blaster, but a lot faster than without the Phantom Army power. I must have knocked down a half dozen missions in about three hours time, one of them containing an Elite Boss, Hercules. Ol' Herc was a Spartan gang banger who found himself exuding more power than he was entitled to by wearing somebody else's wedding ring - and who wouldn't? However, I managed to off him with two summons of my phantom army, between which I kept him out of melee range with my storm summoning powered halitosis.

Soon into level 25, I was sent to investigate Sirens Call by my contact. I discovered the entrance was burrowed into the east side of Steel Canyon, hidden as though Cryptic might have been slightly ashamed of it. Siren's Call was another PvP zone, and I was expecting to find something similar to Bloody Bay: Bonus experience due to taking the risk of PvP, without the actual PvP since nobody goes there.

Siren's Call PvP was a lot more fast paced than Bloody Bay, and was sporting over a dozen players (a fluke, as it turns out). The PvP was much more evident, too. Bloody Bay's action involves going to certain waypoints and maybe, just maybe you'll run into villains. (Or else performing door missions that rival players can't even enter.) The PvP approach in Siren's Call doesn't screw around: There's broadcast hotspots of big battles going on between Arachnos killer robots and the Longbow goodie patrol, and players are invited to come on down and lend a hand. Periodically the location of a rival players who have been doing particular good is broadcast to you to seek and destroy. Thus, conflict between the rival side is inevitable in Siren's Call, as players are directed towards eachother.

Fast action and easy to find rival players to gank - what's not to like about Siren's Call? Only the potential for experience debt, known to many as the digital antichrist. This being PvP, defeat is inevitable, and I'm okay with that. However, it turns out that if you take any NPC damage before death, that portion of your hitpoint bar counts towards standard XP debt. The really cool thing about Siren's Call was the big battles in which there's no shortage of NPC lead flying everywhere... but for the same reason XP debt is neigh unavoidable.

I took one debt-enabled death and bailed from Sirens Call as fast as my super speed enabled legs would take me. Cryptic really ought to make it so debt does not exist in PvP zones, because players seem to delight in making their rivals face debt. Some players even brought their own NPCs in the form of shivan summons from the Bloody Bay quest line. All this debt swapping is probably why the broadcast channel was so rife with poorly executed trash talk. I'm thinking I might take the idea of zero debt in PvP zones and regurgitate it on the official suggestion board. In fact, I just did. This attracted mostly agreement from the players, and disagreement from a few overly embittered forum busybodies unable or unwilling to think outside the box. Oh well, Cryptic will do what they will.

Something unexpected happened as a result of my experiences in Sirens Call: I realized I was going to be pissed off at a lot of villains. They probably wouldn't be terribly thrilled about me either, if they somehow discovered I was the one that ran them up two bars of debt the night before. If I'm going to build resentment with somebody, they shouldn't be the same people I'm begging a team slot from later. Although I was thinking I'd make Rad Renegade my Villain, his being on the same server as my main hero was all the excuse I really need to start a new Villain alt. I'm weak.

It turns out I already had a level 20ish Mastermind on the Victory server, but (after running him through a respec where I discovered how pointless it was to make robots fly) I decided against it. Victory's server population was pretty sad, about half that of the Virtue or Freedom server. While I understand the idea of having multiple servers is to balance the load of players accordingly, I also see that my enjoyment of City of Heroes/Villains is heavily reliant on being able to find groups. That's kinda hard to do when there's only 380 players spread unevenly across 50 levels. There being only two well populated servers, and my hero being on one of them, made it easy to choose the one for my villain: Freedom. Hurray, I've added to the problem of uneven server populations!

That left the act of creating a new character. Having rolled dozens of Heroes and Villains before out of festering alt-a-holic binges, I've very nearly memorized setting up my chat bars, windows, and hotkeys.

First, there's the archetype choice. Masterminds, while already making up about half of the villainous population, are a fabulous mixture of offense, defense, and difficulty to play that suit me rather well. Hurray, I've chosen to add to the problem of uneven archetype populations in City of Villains!

Second, there's power set choice. My first choice was Robotics/Dark Miasma, which is a very powerful and solid choice. Then I noticed some putz with a badly spelled name also chose Robotics and Dark Miasma. My irrational desire to be original in a game with thousands of players but only hundreds of choices flared up like a bad hemorrhoid. You know what, powerful and solid choices are boring, lets pick a difficult to play but more interesting combination. I opted for the spastic, hard to control, and lacking in damage resistance Ninja primary power set and the ever-gimped Trick Arrow set. Copy my loserliness if you dare, losers! Erm, that is to say, I do like a challenge and prefer an interesting character of a reliable one - yes, that's what I really meant.

Alt-a-holicism, an unfortunate syndrome of starting new characters, is not a new problem for me. Its vile claws extend from the realm of boredom, and with the slower leveling rate of Psi-Caster today, I admit I felt boredom more than once. So the temptation arises to start a new character to create a change of pace, and that's just what I did in my creating my new Ninja/Trick Arrow Mastermind, the Dark Defier.

Fortunately, my hindsight is unflatteringly accurate. Thus, methinks I'll shelve this new Mastermind for now. Starting a new character just doubles the treadmill, and I've got a goal of sorts. It involved getting a level 50 Hero first, and only then playing a Villain. (At least until they get around to releasing Issue 8 with the Heroic mayhem mission, then I'll play a Kheldian Peacebringer or Warshade.) The main difficulty is simply in finding my Controller enjoyable enough to stick with until level 50. However, perhaps going higher level than I ever have before will provide the means to do so. Once I'm level 32, I imagine the rest will go rather swiftly, thanks to the Controller's pet.

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