Family We Choose


On a day that could wind up being absolutely horrible for the future of our country, I find it important to talk about something good to offset the bad vibes.  If you really want to read an excellent worded post on the election, then I suggest you go read the heartfelt post by my friend Rowanblaze.  Past that my only admonishment to you is to get out and vote, because not voting is functionally the same thing as voting against your beliefs.  So now that I have said that… onward with the feel good piece.  For the most part I have resigned myself to being an MMO Gamer, because even though there are a plethora of single player games that I would love to be playing…  I always find them lacking when it comes to the human interaction that I crave.  Sure I occasionally hole up in skyrim or minecraft or some equally engrossing game to hide out from the world, but there will always be a point where I stick my head up and want to interact again.  Ultimately it is the people that really matter to me when it comes to gaming, and one of the interesting trappings that comes with the MMO is that you end up getting intimately aware of the folks you are playing with.  There are people that I am still in contact with that I played Diablo and Starcraft with in College, and even more that I met playing my first real MMO experience Everquest.

The group that has seemed to have the most permanence however are the folks I have raided with.  There is a core group of people that transitioned long ago from acquaintance, to guildie, to friend and eventually wound up in the inner most circle of family.  This is a group of people that I quite literally talk to every single day, even if none of us happen to be playing the same game at the same time.  The core of this group represents what is remaining intact from the very first raid group I was ever part of.  There are other members of course that I stay in contact regularly but, there is a smaller group that held together far more firmly.  Of the six regular members of AggroChat myself, Tamrielo, Kodra and Thalen all come from the same non-guild raiding community that sprung up on the Argent Dawn server in World of Warcraft.  Now Thalen is a bit of an edge case since he was technically in a competing raid… but there was a bunch of cross over between those two groups with various members of our group the Late Night Raiders, filling in with Last Horse the group he was part of and versa vice.  Ashgar is similarly linked to Tam and Kodra from their post LNR raiding, and to me starting at a time in history that I can’t even remember at this point.  Right now it honestly feels like Ashgar has just sort of always been there in my life.  Similarly I cannot tell you exactly when Grace joined our merry band, because once she arrived she also felt like she had always been there too.

Some time ago Tam came to me and asked if I thought folks would be cool with him commissioning portraits.  The catch was that these would be portraits not necessarily of a given character, or a given person… but this strange amalgam of how we represented ourselves and to some extent his mental image of us.  I of course thought this was an awesome idea, but then months passed and I had not heard anything about it.  I had no clue who he had commissioned and if it actually was still a thing, so I largely filed it away in the back of my brain as a “cool idea”.  Recently I myself decided that I wanted to commission our good friend Ammo to pick back up this project and at least do some matching portraits of the current Aggrochat cast and our regular alternates.  Ammo told me she was excited about the idea, but that she was working on another big commission so it might be awhile before she could get around to it.  Little did I know that the commission in question was the one I had heard so many months ago.  Tam made a huge production of the unveiling yesterday, and gathered us all together at the time to announce it.  To be truthful I am not sure any of us had a real clue what was going on, until we were presented with the above image.  For point of reference…  the above image left to right is Ashgar, Neph, Vexa, Grace, Gabri, Kodra, Tam, Me, Toadchild, Inky, Helkim, Sol and scouting ahead is Thalen.


What is so phenomenal about this project is the sheer amount of tiny details that went into each and every portrait.  From the moment it was unveiled yesterday afternoon, I literally just kept pouring over the details and finding little things.  For example on Gabri the Cooking Mage’s Whisk Staff… there are all these tiny carrots at the bottom.  Ashgar similarly is this perfect amalgam of all of these things that we think of when it comes to him… the Earth Mage magic nature… with the shape shifting feral druid spirit behind him that he is just about to shift into.  The one that I cannot get over is the portrait of me however.  It is this juxtaposition of big dark heavily armored axe wielding warrior…  with the whole friend of the woodland creatures thing.  We decided that it is now canon that the woodland creatures helped me put on the armor in the same manner as Cinderella.  The birbs however have a second meaning in that they are all bluebirds…. the symbol of twitter which my friends are constantly poking fun at me over.  There is even the detail of the belt… because we have had all of these conversations about how I really liked the 90’s comic book style of having way too many belts on EVERYTHING.  I am sure to strangers, this is just a well rendered image… but to those of us in it… it absolutely captures the soul of every single person.  The only way this would have ever worked is because Tam supplied a ton of details… but also that Ammo knows each of us extremely well so was able to fuse the things he was telling her with the things she just inherently knew.  When it happened last night… I literally had the sudden desire to run around outside making random strangers look at just how awesome it was.  So there was no way we were getting past today’s post without talking about it.  I am so completely enamored with each and every portrait, that all I can really think to do is just say thanks to Tam and Ammo for making it happen.

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