Tight-knit player communities are what keep many WoW players logging in day after day, week after week. These lucky realms are woven together by energized individuals, tailors of camaraderie who give generously of their time and creativity. Korialstrasz player Snuffy wrote to WoW.com recently to throw some light on one of his realm's unsung heroes: "Tazeria is a well known Alliance rogue who has taken the server by storm through her stories. Using players from the realm, she has written 13 chapters in her story, each one gaining the praise and admiration of those that read. It's become an honor when Tazeria whispers you to ask you questions about how you would picture your character if he/she was real."
Tazeria posts her tales, blending the in-game and real-life foibles of Korialstrasz players, on the realm forums as well as donated space on the Vindication guild forums. "I was lucky enough to be asked to host her stories on our website," wrote Snuffy. "Nothing brings the server together like the stories that Tazeria has written."
World of WarCrafts: How do you choose what to write about?
Tazeria: I don't know that I really "choose." It sometimes feels like it "chooses" me, more often then not. One tactic that I frequently use is sitting on the bench in the Alliance area of Dalaran and wait to see who sits next to me. It's surprising who shows up. Sometimes I will take a situation that's realm-relevant on the forum or an in-game feud between guilds. Sometimes Trade chat catches my eye and there's someone who I would like to know more about, so I will put myself in a position of getting to know them as a toon a little better.
I started to observe and ask people about how they saw their toons growing up -- things like where they saw their toons living in Azeroth and how they fit in to being an Azerothian hero. I soon found out that nearly every dedicated WoW player had pieces of their real life woven into their history of their toon. So if you're a chef in real life, you're cooking in the story. If you quit the game or transfer servers, I may kill you off in the story. If you take a break from raiding, you get put in jail or you get held hostage by some in-game menace. If you win the glaive (and we all know only one glaive ever drops from Illidan), you get "the one Glaive" in the story. If you have a dog in real life, that dog could show up in Azeroth as your pet.
Blizz has such a rich lore base, and some of us spend so much time in game, that it has become a big subculture for us. I wanted to personalize, expand and apply all of that to Tazeria. It seemed only natural that her friends in game become a part of the story. I have tossed in everything from references to the Planet of the Apes to posters and trolls on the Korial forum. If something happens in game, there's a chance it may show up in some fashion in the story!
Once I feel comfortable, I will often give them a little whisper asking for a few minutes of their time. I will ask them where their toon lives, what kind of childhood did this toon have, if this toon has any fears. Then I ask about their RL, like do they have a pet? If so, what kind and what's its name? What profession are they or are they studying for, and if they could be another profession and re-choose what would it be? Sometimes I ask what's the thing in life that scares them the most. That is often the most thought-provoking for me. When you can touch what scares a person or what a person loves in a dream, you have touched their heart or soul – that's when it becomes their story and not mine.
And how do you share what you've written?
Primarily, I will use the Korial forum and post it there, as well as on our guild forum. The guild Vindication also has a dedicated storyboard that Snuffy keeps updated, which is very nice of them to host. Occasionally I will let people know about it in the Trade channel; however, that usually happens only when I see someone asking about it there. LOL Trade can be brutal ...
Do you take commissions or requests?
To date, I have never taken a commission on anything I have written; I do honor requests, when I can. I have had a lot of requests to include Horde on our server. So far I have found this topic particularly challenging. I don't have any high-level Horde on this server, but I have come to know a few people who cross faction to Alliance. I hope one day I can produce something read-worthy for my Horde friends. As it stands now, my heroes are mostly on the Alliance side.
Tell us about the stories that are posted on the Vindication boards.
The stories on the Vindication story board are really segments of a whole. Most are not long enough alone to be considered full chapters. They all have been popped up on the Korial forum, where space is limited and sometimes attention spans are short, so I took that into consideration when I wrote them.
Pretty much the story is that of Tazeria and her commanders and fellow soldiers of Azeroth who are her family. Their bond is solid; they trust each other unconditionally and come to know each other in a way that only people who have experienced true tragedy and triumph together can bond. They risk life and limb, take unnecessary chances for both love and war and have an acceptance of character flaws that only true bonds of love, faith and family can understand. Add real life stuff that is character-/player- specific, mix in Trade chat, movie references, song references, political views and forum trolling and finally a bit of religious faith and protection, and you've got a heckofva soup!
Tell us about the player behind Tazeria. What do you do in real life?
I live on the east coast near where I grew up as a child, after having lived in North Central Texas for 26 years. In Texas, I raised three sons and lost my youngest one tragically not too long ago. I was a federal tax expert in a high-powered position for the majority of those years and suppressed my desire to write, since writing didn't earn a reliable regular paycheck and seemed more whimsical and frivolous. After a series of personal tragic happenings that included the death of my son and a brush with an illness that left me near death, I left that life and moved back east to where my sisters and various nieces and nephews still lived. I now run a short-term loan company and enjoy not having a "way of life" profession for now (here, I put in only 45-50 hours a week and have the capacity to be in game most of the day). I am mostly logged in and not instance or raid active, but I stay connected this way.
One day I may return to the rat race, but I do not see that day dawning anytime soon. I am enjoying a side of me that I have suppressed for far too many years. I believe I owe the game a lot in that respect. The game has been there as my friend and confident and constant companion while I heal my soul. Once my family figured out that I wasn't leaving the game anytime soon, some of them chose to move to Azeroth with me. My older sister is my guild master.
Read Tazeria's tales at Vindication's story board or scattered about on the Korialstrasz realm forum.