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The QueueJul 4, 2023 12:00 pm CT

The Queue: Eye of the not-Tiger

This’ll all make sense soon enough.

This is The Queue, where you ask us questions and we may have some answers. (dun dun DUN!)


Q4TQ: What are good leveling alternatives to doing the quests in Dragonflight?

That depends on your definition of “good.” If you’re not into questing because of how repetitive it is to constantly kill mobs for their narratively convenient parts, you’re probably not going to want to go out and grind mobs for XP. Even if they drop meat, skinning mats, or the like, and the XP per hour won’t be too terrible, it’s pretty much just a quest that you set yourself without the additional XP. Conversely, pet battling offers a pretty big change of pace from questing, but the XP per hour isn’t great, even if you’re also doing the quests offered by tamers. Herbalism and Mining also offers relatively lousy XP and a grindy grind, but it may offer a financial boost which makes it worth it for you on your nth alt through the experience.

Holidays and other seasonal events are probably more your speed here, though the Midsummer Festival either ends Soon or is maybe already concluded. Another alternative is dungeoneering, which offers an OK change of pace and decent XP, but involves other people, so ugh.


Q4tQ: Which is more annoying, an unresolved cliffhanger or an unsatisfactory ending?

Are these not the same thing?

I’m okay with a cliffhanger, in general. In longer-term series, where you want people to come back every week, it’s practically a given, even if it isn’t (satisfactorily) resolved. I’m even okay with cliffhangers in standalone works, depending on the genre or mood of the piece. Like, if it’s a suspense movie or whodunnit novel, and at the end the main character goes back to his parents’ house and notices a letter his mom kept all these years matched an outlier victim, and then the mom is all “read anything interesting lately?” and that’s the end, even though it’s unresolved and adds a new wrinkle, I’m okay with it. If it’s a spaghetti western or romance, that would feel jarring and out of place.

Conversely, I’d find an ending that would be in line with westerns or romance — which tend to end oddly similarly, with a ride into the sunset, only in one case the ride involves a horse — would be jarring in a thriller.

Lately I’ve been getting more annoyed with the unfiring Chekov’s Gun. I read a novel recently where this happened constantly, and it was both annoying and distracting — and unfortunately the story itself wasn’t great either. In one case, the author had a character vow that she would never, ever forget or forgive this awful thing this other character did… and then it was never mentioned again and the two characters ended the novel as best friends and roommates. It seems like something that pops up in self-pub thrillers a lot, and it may be an attempt to intentionally subvert the expectation of the trope a la realism — every lead doesn’t pan out, and every piece of evidence isn’t crucial IRL — but when it happens repeatedly without explanation it just seems sloppy.


So if you play DnD (and i’m assuming most of the writers do)–what’s the coolest thing you’ve done in your game?

for me, my tabaxi ranger (she’s a catra-inspired character) named Oncoming Storm (nicknamed Stormy and yes it’s a Doctor who reference) just became the captain of a spelljammer ship.

I was always incredibly partial to my Very Bad Ranger. See, this Ranger had a Dad who was famous throughout the land for being an amazing Ranger. Dad was average with a bow, but his woodcraft was unmatched. He could track a quarry down a stone road in the rain, and his animal companions were loyal and many. But his son didn’t learn any of those tricks. Despite wanting to continue in his father’s legacy, he wasn’t very bright, and Dad refused to teach him any woodcraft. Son learned how to use a bow kind of okay, but without Dad’s guidance, he was only average at tracking. The Son felt both pressure to live up to the image of Dad’s reputation, and yet the rejection that came from his Dad seemingly actively avoiding even using his skills while his Son was around. How do you continue a legacy if you don’t know how? And why would you even want to?

The day came when Dad died, and then his secret was revealed. See, Dad didn’t really have all that much skill at being a Ranger. He was an alright shot, and he could track as well as anyone who’d spent a little time in the woods. However, what he did have was a magic amulet that allowed him to talk to beasts, and the Charisma to form an instant rapport with them. His woodcraft skill stemmed directly from that. He could talk to birds, ask them which way his target went. He could ask chipmunks and other forest creatures which berries were poisonous. And as soon as the younger Ranger touched the amulet, as long as he kept touching it, he had the power to communicate with animals now, too.

The thing is, the Son still truly was not the sharpest crayon in the box. He didn’t quite realize that the amulet was the source of his skill — he just thought the overall skill transferred, or whatever, ghost stuff, he guessed. And if he wasn’t touching his amulet, all of a sudden that force ghost style feeling that came over him when he tracked — and the little bird voices would hover near him, tweeting “this way,” —  vanished. However, more worryingly, if he wasn’t touching his amulet, his loyal bear bud was literally just a wild bear within biting distance of the entire party.

I feel like this is an example of an acceptable cliffhanger in fantasy fiction.

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