Colour me chuffed.
I was correct in my suspicions, and whoever had managed to compromise my account had indeed stripped and deleted two of my level 70 characters. The last time I had logged on, I had three characters at level 70; a Horde Druid and Priest and an Alliance Warrior. On checking the Armoury, both the Priest and Warrior were missing, and the Druid was naked – which, as I'm sure any other Tauren player can attest, is rarely a good look.
Now, as much as I deplore it, I can understand the concept of hacking a person's account in order to sell their gear, then pass that money along via a Goldseller – that's simply business, but I don't understand why you would delete a character completely – while the first is an undeniably rotten thing to do to a person, it's generally something that can be recovered from, or (in the worst-case scenario) rebuilt. New gear can be acquired, gold can be earned once again, and if your guild happens to be chock-full of good folk like mine, you'll maybe get some help along the way. Still, while I realise how ridiculously lucky I've been in having everything I lost returned to me in the space of two or three hours; instead of putting the incident behind me and carrying on, I find myself mulling over what might have been.
My guildies totally stepped up to the plate for me, and inundated me with offers of help, so I wouldn't have had to start completely from scratch, but I wonder what it would have been like – indeed, some strange, masochistic part of me wishes that none of my stuff had been recovered, and that I did have to start over, with or without help.
Lots of players have alt-itis, and seem chronically unable to focus on one character at a time (there's an idea for a medical study – ADD and its comparisons in the MMO-verse) but I'm thinking that this is something different – a desire to wipe the slate clean completely and rebuild from the ground up. Maybe it's because I'm from the scorched-earth school of PC repair, where nothing less than a full reformat and perfect reinstall will leave me feeling satisfied and I'm just a little strange, but I imagine that there's something in this; while it's a completely understandable reaction to call quits and cancel one's account if a compromised account can't be recovered to its previous state, what does it take to carry on regardless?
I asked last week for readers to share stories of times you had found yourselves in a similar situation, this week I'd like the opposite – clearly I've been lucky this time around, but what happens when things go the other way? Have you been hacked but failed to get your account back to the way it was? What did you do – did you start over, or just give up? Hit the comments, and let us know.