In honour of ARPil, Pizzamaid wrote about her beloved World of Warcraft character Alicara and how negative game experiences made her disband her. My first thought was "I would never do that". I've had my share of stress and drama in MMOs, but I perceive them separately from my characters. My characters represent parts of me, but the quarrels were with me, not them. But then I remembered my rune-keeper in Lord of the Rings Online, Ravalinde.
Ravalinde was the second character I rolled - in any MMO, ever. Before her, I had played my lore-master Ravanel exclusively for three years and had never felt the urge to play another character. We are writing at the time I was getting more involved with the social aspect of the game, got into raiding and had tremendous fun at it. I wanted to share this experience with my boyfriend at the time and helped him roll a character, a hunter. To be able to spend time together in-game I created my first ever alt to level up with him. You've guessed it: my rune-keeper Ravalinde.
This is one of the first pictures of my rune-keeper. I was looking for the very first one, in which I'm in the same field, questing harmoniously with the hunter boyfriend, but it's gone. My screenshot collection is very organized, so I must have thrown it away to protect myself from bumping into it - the digital equivalent of tearing a photo to parts. It obviously didn't work, because I still remember the photo.
The boyfriend was terrible at playing LotRO, a true incarnation of the huntard stereotype. But it did not matter. We were leveling all the way to level 65 together and we had fun, for a while. (Later, when we had reached level cap and he couldn't keep up, he got frustrated. Having your girlfriend beating you at gaming isn't for everyone.)
The relationship didn't last. It was no easy breakup: he was my first boyfriend, we'd been together for four years and I really had wanted it to work. Nasty things were told behind my back, I lost a friend, that kind of thing. It was a traumatic experience and was totally done with it all, wanted to move on.
A proud Ravalinde in her Tower of Orthanc gear
But I did still have my rune-keeper at level cap. And there were moments in which the raid group already had a lore-master (you generally don't want two in a raid) or my lore-master was locked for a raid they wanted to do a second time. Besides, I had gotten pretty fond of the rune-keeper, its healing line in particular. So I kept playing Ravalinde for raids.
Eventually, no new endgame was added to the game and my kinship moved over to Star Wars: the Old Republic.
The current level cap is level 100; Ravalinde still sits at level 75. I seldom log her and if I do, it's just to craft something - she's my best guilded tailor. My excuse is that she's going to stay that level for nostalgia raids. The problem is that the level 75 raid is the Tower of Orthanc, and it isn't particularly good. It is not going to happen anytime soon. Meanwhile, I miss playing rune-keeper.
I'm planning to level another character to 75, then level Ravalinde to 100 so she can do group stuff again. I don't know which character will take her place and I have other characters to level first, so it'll probably be a while, but I want to do it. It's been years and there's no sense in living in the past. I love my character, the little stories I've made up about her and the class too much for that. But like in a photo album full of happy memories save for one photo that hurts when you look at it, Ravalinde will always carry that one fact with her, that I created her for him all those years ago.