Thursday, October 29, 2009

Observations on the Draenei Race

A quick note about these stories: these are all character-development and story-telling moments, but have no special grand, over-arching meaning behind them. They are just to tell about what's in my head, and hopefully entertain some of my friends who role-play with me (which is why I'm not especially interested in throwing myself into the blogosphere full tilt yet).

I recall having read somewhere recently - I don't remember if it was a blog post or a realm forum post - that not enough people RP draenei as an appropriately alien race. While I agree in part, I also agree that it is difficult for a novice RPer like me to get into a non-human mindset, and I would like to point out that the draenei as they are presented in the game have the same drives for revenge and recovery and love and prejudice that other Azerothian native races do. I deeply admire and secretly envy those who can play the draenei as appropriately foreign and near-immortal as they really deserve to be. If I fail at it in my own writing, that is my fault and not a reflection of the race as a whole.

As I have mentioned before, the resilience and recovery abilities of the draenei are part of why I like them. They have been through so much, and so many thousands of years of weirdness and horror and trauma...and yet they seem to come out of it primarily sane, hopeful, mostly happy, and more stable than expected for what they've seen. This resilence of character shows in my own stories through the reactions of the characters to horror and death and fright. While time should probably be spent on a character's terror at seeing a ghoul for the very first time and then being chased by it, it ends up only minutes later that her fear is overtaken by concern for her family and she bounces back. While a character has endured untold suffering and horror at the hands of the Lich King, once she regains control of her self, much of her original personality and concern for life remains intact. Part of this is just the author stepping in to move the story along, and another part of it is an authorial failing at effective dark, angsty stories - and part of it is simply that I want the reactions of these characters to show that amazing propensity for standing tall against all comers, be they ghouls or demons or spoilt-brat frozen princes. But here is fair warning that this flaw of writing may also be very apparent in my stories.

Lastly, I want to briefly touch on what a pain in the ass it is to place events along a timeline which can span tens of thousands of years for a people that, for all we really know, may never actually die and may take thousands of millenia to even appear aged. I can't even figure out exactly how old my characters are because of this fuzziness. I may misplace or mistime events as I go along, and end up having to come back along and retcon the story later to fit actual canon instead of my own conjecture. (I've already done this once with Val's first story.) As of right now - 10/29/09 - I am working out my concepts of draenic time like so: the Prophet Velen appears, now, the equivalent of a fit 78 year-old human. We know he was already a leader among his people when Sargeras approached them; let's say he was a young and robust leader, a visual appearance similar to a 32 year-old human (hey, Alexander the Great had conquered the known world by this point). So over the 25,000 years of fleeing before the Burning Legion, Velen has aged the visual equivalent of about 46 human years of life. 25,000 divided by 46 equals ~543. By this totally made-up and conjectural reasoning, Valdiis is about 16,833 years old (~31). Xeremuriis is about 8,688 years old (~16). Hadeon would be somewhere in the 36,946 range (~67). Diyos and Athos are about 20,091 years old (~37). None of this is actually important to the story - but I wanted to have my reasoning written down someplace.

Edited 11/18/09: Alternately, regarding draenei aging... It has been argued to me - rather successfully for the most part - that the draenei age at a similar rate to other races in the game up until some "peak age" probably in the mid-20s or early-30s, where the process halts. It doesn't make a great deal of sense to have a hundred-year-old toddler. It is likely that the draenei do endure a slightly longer than short-lived races period of adolescence, although not more than perhaps a hundred years or so. I find this argument persuasive enough to sway me to reconsider - again - my draenic timeline. How this will change things, I'm not entirely sure. The only one whose apparent age truly matters is Xeremuriis, since she is meant to still be a young adult.

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