On naming conventions

Enter your name:

The importance of keeping writing tools nearby

Last night as I was laying down to sleep, it came to me - the perfect name. This was a name I could use across multiple MMOs for my first character, a name which people would gradually come to associate (usually) with me, in the same way that some variant of 'stop' or 'stoppableforce' has. And then, like an idiot, I didn't write it down, and instead I went to sleep.

At least I can get a blog post out of it. This is kind of a disjointed series of thoughts, and it all has to do with names.

The history of (my) names

Final Fantasy XI

The very first MMO I ever played - not counting MUDs, for which my memory is hazy, save for one - was Final Fantasy XI. When confronted with that all-important box to type in a name, though, I was stuck for a long while. What do I put here? It was more than just a normal name; I mean, I might be content to put whatever I like into the name input box for a console game because no one's ever going to see that, but your name in an MMO is the first impression you make - without knowing anything, I'm automatically going to assume different things if I see one warlock named Cynwise and another named Deezznutzz (and yes, I do know a warlock named Deezznutzz). It's just part of being human; we're prone to first impressions, and names are no different.

So I looked at my hume male red mage, waiting impatiently for a name, with his face tattoos and his cornrows and his short ponytail, and I named him Severus. Please note that I had never even picked up a Harry Potter book; I have absolutely no idea where the name came from, as it just popped into my head, but a certain ambitious professor was certainly not the source.

I came to regret that name, but it was my first name for a long while. Later names came after I had started my second major, and it showed - my only other two characters of note in FFXI were named Socrates and Aristotle.

World of Warcraft

When I next picked up an MMO, it was World of Warcraft. I installed both vanilla WoW and The Burning Crusade - from discs! how quaint! - and, after going online to create an account, logged into WoW. I created a draenei shaman - burly, exotic-looking, and I was at the time attracted to the dual-wielding nature of the enhancement shaman (I have a weakness for dual-wielding, apparently). After he was rolled up, I was then confronted with the same choice as before: what to call him? I was stumped for only a few minutes this time around, as the random name generator created 'Kalle' and I appended a 'ch'.

Fun fact: Kallech is still my username on Wowhead. I should look into changing that sometime.

Later I created a Forsaken warlock because, even back then, the Alliance just didn't do anything for me. I envisioned him as affliction early on, spreading corruption wherever he went. Having just gone on a stint of playing Final Fantasy Tactics, a name immediately popped into my head, and I was promptly surprised when Queklain was not taken. Oddly, the number of people who caught that name's origin was extremely low, despite the game's apparent popularity. Maybe they just didn't play on Feathermoon.

From there, the names largely were random, and to be honest I don't have any attachment to most of my character names between Queklain and my death knight, Zulfon. Based on a quick look at troll language particles, 'Zulfon' more or less refers to a master of outcasts. Voodoo Queen of the Pariahs. That sort of stuff. It tickled my fancy to imagine this troll shaman who fell against the Scourge and was raised as a death knight (which was actually the source of a few transmog outfits I asked Narci the Transmog Fairy to design for me - see here, here, and here).

Most of my character names are otherwise forgettable, even by me - although I do have a warlock named 'Faustinix,' which I figure always sounds like something Blizzard would dream up for a goblin warlock given their love of references to pop culture, and I once had a rogue named Gutsco, which is, all things considered, a pretty good name for a rogue. Or a Forsaken small business startup that sells replacement innards: Guts Co.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

A lot of my early character names were actually supposed to be references to certain Mega Man characters, at least until I got to where I could unlock my Legacy and was denied my chosen last name for no apparent reason - seriously, it didn't even say "that name is already taken," just "you can't have that name, bugger off." If you ever wondered why my fat miraluka (FAT MIRALUKA IS BEST MIRALUKA) was named Kyzur, it's because his full name was supposed to be Kyzur Cygma. This naming scheme stuck, even if the Legacy necessarily didn't, which is also where Jentra came from.

Oh, and, assuming Bioware doesn't delete characters on inactive accounts, I'm pretty much permanently namesquatting on Shepard, at least on Juyo-US. My bad.

Guild Wars

If you looked at my Guild Wars character names, you'd think I was hitting a keyboard randomly. To some extent, you'd be right: I just type names that look like they'd sound interesting to say.

  • Vos Volturnum
  • Ticuna Val Medime
  • I have a second character with the surname 'Volturnum' but I cannot remember her first name
  • Tetheal Margas

So... yeah.

Nowadays

Now, I mostly pick sounds that sound good together. I've had to do this a lot recently; I was in three simultaneous betas at one time for a while. But on some level I kind of wish I had that recognizability that comes with, if not mostly playing a character with the same name across multiple games, at least a name scheme that's recognizable. I just can't bring myself to stop using a mix of "hit the keyboard randomly," "use something that sounds good," and "reference a video game," though.

For those who are curious, the full roster of my WoW characters is now largely free of references to anything pop-culture-y (although one is vaguely named after someone I met at an L5R tournament, and it's probably not the one you think it is): Faustinix, Zulfon, Nuhalo, Hrunet, Kyleana, Grendan, Brione, and Kashakti.

Back to you

  • When it comes time to name a character - what resources do you use?
  • Do you have a naming scheme you use within one game or across multiple games?
  • Is there a particular source you turn to for names or inspiration for names? Novels, other games, et cetera?
  • Do you just freely make stuff up?

Coming up for air

anshul85-500x225And it's done.

Last night at 11:52 PM EST, sometime around when Alexstrasza and Deathwing were pummeling each other to death, Anshul dinged 85. I am the 9th member of our raid team to do so, coming in just behind Ratshag and just ahead of Eldmann, who was the only person to start leveling during the Cataclysm at a lower level than me.

Staying ahead of Eld is something of an accomplishment; the man levels like a fiend. I wonder if he's available to level my alts for me...

I can't deny, it was fun. I really enjoyed questing in Cataclysm. Starting Anshul just prior to the Cataclysm means I really got to see all five major types of quest style - "old old world" quests, "new old world" quests, Outland, Northrend, and then the new Cataclysm zones. I can definitely say I like the new style of quests better - 2-3 quests at a time, generally all in the same area, with an obvious trail of breadcrumbs to your next questing site. You're never stuck feeling like you're never going to get out of the area - unless you choose to purposely stick around for some reason, like I did night before last, choosing to purposely complete Dragonmaw Tour of Duty instead of moving on to doing the next quest area.

With that now behind me, here's a few lessons I learned.

Lessons garnered on the path to the cap

  1. Vashj'ir: Not Even Once. I admit I was initially drawn to Vashj'ir for a few reasons. Seahorses. Smaller crowds. The Earthen Ring. Then, it all turned out to be a lie. Well, except for the seahorse, anyway.

    1. Melee in three dimensions? It sucks. It really sucks. And considering that jumping to an 81 zone at 80 means all the wildlife is aggroing me again - something I honestly wasn't used to - it sucked more.

    2. Input lag. For no reason, in Vashj'ir, I have a constant 2-3 second input lag at all times. It happens nowhere other than there, and it's lessened when I'm inside a cave or inside an Ancient, so I can only conclude my computer was choking rendering the water that I was actually swimming through, which baffles me, as it has no issues any other time.

    3. The Earthen Ring rep is a lie. I got more from Deepholm, thanks.

When I finally get around to leveling more alts through this range, I think I'll stick to Hyjal.

  1. Don't Get Attached. The gear, it's everywhere, and it's plentiful. I wasn't quite running into the issues other people were describing (replacing a blue from the end of a questline almost immediately with a green at the start of the next quest or zone), but I certainly cycled through quite a lot. There were also clearly a lot of efforts to get people to try out mastery - it seemed to be on everything, which is a shame in my case, given how much mastery sucks for ret paladins right now.

  2. Blizzard needs a copyeditor. I'll preface this by saying that yes, this expansion honestly contains some of Blizzard's best writing. I laughed out loud at some of the puns, I enjoyed the voiced dialogue, I even liked the metric f*ckton of cutscenes in Uldum. The eel quest from Vashj'ir, frankly, was hilarious. However, I'll also add that this was some of Blizzard's worst writing in terms of grammar, spelling, and even simple things like spelling an NPC's name right in a quest description.

Hey Blizz: are you guys hiring?

A couple screenshots

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'Cause that's just the kind of bull I am.

Greetings from Hellfire Peninsula

Or, I sense a trend.

roflcopter

At the end of the last expansion, I switched mains - from my warlock to my death knight. While everyone else in my guild was plowing through Northrend and gleefully discovering its then-new wonders, I was in Outland, busy being overpowered. I remember soloing Arazzius the Cruel when the quest was still orange. I remember seeing lots and lots of other death knights, most of them with their pet ghouls while I used blood spec, which back then was DPS and had virtually no downtime thanks to eight million different kinds of self-heals. I think I was the last person in my guild to hit 80 - or close to it.

Now, here we are on the cusp of a new expansion, and it looks like it might happen again. My enthusiasm for my death knight has waned here at the end of Wrath of the Lich King - I no longer enjoy the feel of tanking, finding myself often unable to do much of anything, and the DPSing just seems lackluster. I'm good at it, but I don't enjoy it anymore, so it's time to let Duskwalker fade into the shadows and just become an achievement whore. Oh, he's still going to be Duskwalker the Insane one of these days - but he's not my top priority.

Pictured above, uncomfortably stuffed into a roflcopter, is Anshul the Ret Bull. Currently in Outland, with a nearly-full quest log. He's capable of going through enemies lickety-split, and despite the many comparisons I've heard (and made!) comparing paladins to rogues now ("HoPo = combo points lawl"), I still log on to him first and foremost when I play these days... and, well, ret fits nicely into our raid comp. ;)

It looks like BLU has a nice lineup of players. We're set to tackle the first round of raids late this year or early next year - yeah, all the world firsts will be out of the way, but so will the holidays. We've got a nice little community of fun folks over here, and if you're interested in some Hordeside comraderie, we'll certainly still welcome you.

I might just be doing so from Hellfire Peninsula or Northrend for a few weeks, that's all. :)

80 #2

Proving that I, too, can be years behind all the cool kids, I got my second level 80 character last night at around 2:30 AM EST.

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A little background: This is Malacrass. He started life as Kallech, a draenei shaman, in January of 2008 - my first character upon my not-so-triumphant return to WoW. Kallech was ostensibly to level up with my cousin, but I neglected to remember that my cousin has waaaaay more free time than I do, and so around the time Kallech hit his late 40s (46 to be exact), my cousin's mage was strolling into Outland - or maybe even further by then.

And so Kallech took some time off while I discovered the joys of the Horde. That character, Queklain, a Forsaken warlock, would be my first (and, for the rest of TBC, only) character at the level cap, and my initial raider. Kallech chilled in the Hinterlands, dusting things for the Wildhammer and wondering if he'd ever get to go out and hit things again. He did hop over to Silver Hand at one point to say hi to Tawyn, only I never did because she was important people and I was just some guy. Yes, I was too shy to say hello to someone on the internet. I did at least play him a little bit there, gaining him a level or two.

Then came Wrath, and then came death knights. Duskwalker (née Ambassador, née Rajaat, née Zulfon) raced to the cap during the days when Death Knights were overpowered and I could solo 3- and 5-person quests to my heart's content, and raided. Raided Naxxramas and Ulduar, while my little alts sat forgotten. Took some time off for basically all of ToC, and came back for ICC. Kallech waited, still hanging out in the Hinterlands, until the first signs of burnout began to set in, at which point I transferred him to the same realm as my death knight, bought him some mail heirlooms, respecced him elemental, and sent him to finish killing wolves or whatever it is one does in the Hinterlands.

From there, Kallech continued on to finish up his time in Azeroth, then went and fought the Burning Crusade, spending an extended amount of time in Hellfire Peninsula before moving on to Zangarmarsh. Finally, to Northrend!

About this time I relocated both to Cenarion Circle and to the Horde. I forked over the cash to do both, bringing him to a happy state of trollhood, only to discover that the only other toon named Kallech in all of WoW was already on Cenarion Circle. /fistshake

So I named him after my favorite troll. :) And then he pew-pew'd his way to 80, and here we are. Just in time for everything to change! I tell you what, I'm looking forward to getting my hands on Earthquake - and everything I need to know about elemental in the days to come, I learned from Binkenstein. (By the way, Totemspot has a really nice theme. I'm not biased or anything. ;))

CYOA: I'm on a horse

imonahorse

WoWScrnShot<em>082710</em>010420 Level 20! It took a little while, because I was waiting on someone to join me on her mage and make those first 20 non-button-pressing, non-mount-having levels less tedious, but work schedules and working on some silly gaming site got in the way, so I bravely forged ahead!

Things I've learned:

  • It takes a while before paladins are ready to tank, doesn't it? Sure, you could charge into the dungeon finder at 15 with nothing to your name but Righteous Defense and a Judgement or two, but with Hand of Reckoning at 16, Righteous Fury at 18, and Consecration at 20, it really seems like they're supposed to just chill and plow through quests.

  • And plow through quests I did, especially once I picked up Hand of Reckoning. If I HoR and Judge a mob, it's half-dead by the time it even gets to me. Thanks to various mini-bubbles, BoA gear, and those two buttons, I've done every group quest in the Ghostlands solo save for one - I knocked over Knucklerot and Luzran, and lopped off Kel'gash's head, but I haven't tried taking on Dar'khan Drathir yet. Besides, I've got plenty of quests to do.

  • Mounts make everything better.

  • "Lament of the Highborne" is still awesome.

So, I've got just a few quests to mop up in the Ghostlands - I believe I've got a few trolls left to wipe out, the quests to push those nosy night elves back out, and then it's off to Deatholme to free prisoners, kill enemies, and take out Dar'khan too. I haven't quite maxed out my engineering for this level; it's at something like 147, mostly due to the serious lack of tin in the Ghostlands. I've found two veins the entire time I've been there. Two. So it'll be off to somewhere else next...

...so where should that somewhere else be? When I stopped by the Undercity briefly to drop off Sylvanas' trinket, I checked in with Ambassador Sunsorrow and he wanted to punt me off to Tarren Mill - but I'm open to suggestions. I'll need something to do between queuing for instances, after all.

While you figure out where to send me, here's some more screenshots.

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Smelt, smelt, smelt... snore.

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Oh look, it's Tart's mage! And our adorable minipets. BLU represent!

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I don't know why I'm sitting in this wagon, but... there you go.

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Action shot! Take that, arcane reaver.

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This screenshot is now diamonds!

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A little Lament of the Highborne for you.

Mounts, loopholes, BLU, and a CYOA update

Choose-your-own-adventure update

Bishamel has hit 18 and is paused there briefly while I do some other things. I'll do a full update at 20. Suffice to say that prot paladinning is awesome, and holy crap does HoR do some serious damage at that level. I pull crap in the Ghostlands with it and it's half dead almost immediately.

Mounts from Zul'Gurub

ZulianTigerValnoth confirmed yesterday that Zul'Gurub is gone as a raid instance in Cataclysm. This makes me sad - I love Zul'Gurub, and not just because of the mounts I can't get to drop! - but if you want something from there, better get to farmin'. ZG's lockout resets every 3 days, so you can be in there pretty often compared to other raids. Keep in mind it's not just mounts - you'll probably also want to get The Deadliest Catch by fishing up Gahz'ranka and Hero of the Zandalar Tribe by grinding to exalted with the Zandalar Tribe while you're at it. (Full clears of Zul'Gurub - even ones where you don't kill much of the trash - yield a few thousand rep. You'll also want to kill trash for coins and bijous. Zandalar Tribe is super-easy to grind to exalted these days.)

So yeah, this is your last shot at the Swift Zulian Tiger (and its achievement) and the Swift Razzashi Raptor (also with an achievement). I ran a full solo clear last night. I've also decided to keep a small collection of Zul'Gurub weapons - so many of the items in there are absolutely awesome looking, and so many of the designs and models weren't re-used (or were re-used in Outland).

Who's ready to start farming?!

Builders League United

My guild, <Builders League United> (or BLU for short) has a few new people in it. It's kind of comforting, having the general chatter of a small friendly guild again. If you're interested in seeing what we're about, and possibly raiding with a small-schedule 10-man Horde-side raiding guild in Cataclysm, I highly recommend checking our site, especially the BLU policies and "What is BLU?" pages. We totally have a bank tab and a tabard, just like those other guys in the Guild Recruitment channel.

Loopholes for silly pirates

So it turns out that those of us working on Insane in the Membrane and trying to grind up our goblin rep after sacrificing it in the name of pirate rep have a small loophole I just now got around to finding - we are not stuck solely freeing Knot Thimblejack or grinding on endless pirates and nomads. After some careful (fingers-crossed, bated breath) experimentation last night, I found that - barring the repeatable "reconciliation turn-in quests" that were made solely to raise goblin rep with one city and lower Bloodsail Buccaneer rep - it seems like as long as Booty Bay isn't the primary rep recipient, you can safely do quests for Gadgetzan, Ratchet, and Everlook questgivers without lowering your pirate reputation (and earning spillover reputation with all the goblin cities, as well). The best part about this is that since I chose to get IitM on my death knight, he's done basically none of the goblin quests scattered throughout old-world Azeroth. Time to see the sights before the sights go away, and work on my title!

CYOA: Another pretty face

Meet Bishamel. Meet Bishamel.

He's a blood elf paladin. Hooray! Belfadin was the #1 vote (due in large part thanks to the campaigning efforts of Tart), and so I started with a different name and chopped off letters and rearranged them until I got this guy.

Currently, he's rocking a fiery Bloodied Arcanite Reaper (HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO), and the PvP plate shoulders and PvE plate chest because, well, that's what I had. He's also got heirlooms ready for tanking or healing, should those be the path chosen for him at 10.

So now, I need 2 votes from you, while I rapidly grind through levels 1-10:

  1. What spec should Bishamel take? I'm currently leaning towards Holy - it's gotten a number of votes, healing is a role I've never really done past about 25 or so, and it'll let me glom quick queue times post 15 - but I'll go with the crowd.
  2. What should his professions be? I've picked up Mining and Engineering just for fun, but I'll go with the crowd on this one.

Vote fast - level 10 comes quickly!

EDIT: Closing the voting early on this one because I'm kind of eager to get back to it. Protection it is. :)

Choose your own adventure--actually, choose mine

cyoa-coversSo some people, I'm sure, are still merrily plugging along on their Kingslayer title, or hardmodes, or what-have you. Not me. I do have plans for BLU, but none of them involve killing Arthas.

A lot of people are in the beta. Not me, I'm part of the small unwashed masses deemed unworthy of a beta key.

Nope, I'm spending my time farming achievements and leveling alts.

And that, my friends, is where you come in.

Taking a page from wow.com's book, pick a race and class for me to level and I'll blog about it because, hell, it could be fun. Here's the conditions:

  • No death knights (can't roll a second one, anyway), warlocks, or shamans (I have both those classes at 74, and will scoot them to 80 in good time). Everything else is fair game.

  • No Alliance toons. Just, no. However, I like all the Horde races, so orcs, trolls, blood elves, tauren, and Forsaken are all fair game.

Outside of that, suggest away. I've got heirlooms for just about any class, so there's not one I'm going to shy away from leveling.

FINAL EDIT: Here's the standings as of 7:45 PM EST Sunday. This is now the final tally, and it looks like I'll be rolling a blood elf paladin...

  • Forsaken rogue: 8

  • Troll hunter: 1

  • Blood elf priest: 2

  • Tauren hunter: 1

  • Blood elf hunter: 1

  • Troll priest: 1

  • Tauren druid: 2

  • Blood elf paladin: 13

  • Forsaken priest: 1

  • Troll rogue: 2

Dualboxing melee

RetributionAura I mentioned this to The Mighty Gresh on twitter - I started dual-boxing again (so I could power-level my rogue to 60 using Recruit-a-Friend [so I could pickpocket junkboxes for Insane in the Membrane]). I'll actually be leveling two or three alts this way - since Lasombre (the rogue) is already 18, I needed a quick way to boost Sigrat (the paladin) up to join her. And so, I started a relay race, only using a dwarf instead of a baton: this involved creating Bubblesqueak (the mage) to lead Sigrat around and have him kill stuff until they hit 18, then passing Sigrat off to Lasombre... but wait, you say, you put the mage in the lead? There's a method to my madness:

  1. I wanted to make sure I could get Sigrat's keybindings set up ahead of time, and

  2. It's easier to pull with a mage, on account of having a ranged attaack with a range of greater than 10 feet, and

  3. There have recently been changes that made dual-boxing a melee character ... well, possible.

It's still a touch awkward (namely if you try to attack with the melee character while the monster is still running towards you), but it's a far sight better than having to run through the mob and flip it around. Here's the guide. (Thanks to the folks at Dual-Boxing.com for figuring this out well before I ever needed it.)

  • Besides the required keystroke passing app (I use Keyclone), you'll want to have an addon that allows auto-following after combat. I'm currently using Jamba, last time I used TwoBoxToolkit. I can vouch for both; though Jamba's got features above and beyond TBTK, and makes configuration a lot easier (plus has some graphical niceties like a small window on my "master" character showing how close everyone on my Jamba Team list is to leveling, whether they're following, etc.), TBTK will get the job done.

  • On the character or characters who will just be following you around, turn ON click-to-move (Main Menu > Interface > Mouse > check Click to Move).

  • On the same character(s), go into the key bindings and bind something to Interact With Target. As the name implies, this is essentially a keybinding for right clicking. I set mine to the same key that, on all my other characters, makes pets attack. It's fitting. :)

  • And last but not least, you'll want a macro you can hit to make this character assist your "master" character. I use a simple macro that says "/assist party1" because my dwarfadin will actually be following two different people. For ease of use I actually worked this into my other macros - I macroed together "/assist party1" and Judgement of Light, for instance.

  • On the "master" character, combat goes like so:

    • Engage target. For ranged classes, pull, for other classes, wade into combat.

    • Once the target's positioned, hit the keybinding that corresponds to the assist macro on the follower, then the keybinding that corresponds to the Interact With Target keybinding on the follower.

    • ???

    • Profit!

Because of the way that assist, click-to-move and the Interact with Target keybinding work, your follower will target your target, then "right-click" it - i.e., pull out their weapon and run into melee. This way you're not strictly limited to having a ranged follower or healbot follower for ease of use. I was actually considering having him level up holy and using my rogue to do all the damage, but it's just more fun this way.

Because Bell did it

Not <em>quite</em> the same, is it? So last night, I did something I hadn't done in a while: I logged onto an alt I hadn't played in close to two years, and I genuinely enjoyed it. However, unlike Bell, who is flailing about as a hunter, my alt in question is my long-abandoned shaman, Kallech, who isn't even at 80. My first alt upon my return to WoW (and have I ever posted about the first time? I was a druid, believe it or not), Kallech got dropped sometime around the time when my cousins lost interest in WoW and therefore I knew no one Alliance-side to play with. He moved around a little bit - I moved him to Silver Hand once, even, because I knew a person or two there.

So why did I revive Kallech? It's hard to say. I've been taking a greater interest in my alts lately, mostly out of a desire to try different things. After all, prior to my DK, I only really had one other main - my warlock - and so there's a lot of things I haven't done. I've never leveled a healer past the 40s, for instance! Kallech is proving to be fun, too. Just for fun, I bought a mix of greens and blues off the AH and talented him up as elemental. Why? Mercurial whims - I woke up yesterday and was, for no apparent reason, really jazzed to play an elemental shaman. Turns out the late 40s is as good a time as any to do this.

After wandering over to Ironforge to get my Totem of the Earthen Ring, and equipping my newer bigger bags and my new shiny horribly mismatched greens and blues (I'm practicing my Outland clown suit look, if anyone asks), I then took the annoying trip to the Exodar. I hopped on my slow elekk, wandered down to the tram, took the tram to Stormwind, took the boat to Darnassus, got on the boat to the Exodar, and almost made it all the way to the Exodar without anyone pointing out that I could get my fast mount at 40, what a nub.I think he's mad because his helmet looks stupid.

Sigh.

So after getting equipped with fast mount, then helping some lowbies stop the horseman in Azure Watch (fun fact: it is nigh impossible to see the fire in some places in there), I went back to the Hinterlands and pew pew'd my way through wolves, trolls, slimes, and what have you. Yay!

In 3 more days I'll be the Champion of Ironforge, which will in turn bring me all the way up to Crusader level. I believe my first purchase will be a vest and those goofy-ass elemental shoulders, and maybe even one of the weapons. (I have a lot of champion's seals.)

Alternately? I may just buy the two heirlooms, and a pony, since Ghostcrawler finally gave us that pony he promised.