This was the first post in a thread made by Gremkarc, in which members of the Sha'tar celebrated the server's history, and looked forward to the future. A thread which appeared a couple of weeks before Wrath, it was a key time for the Sha'tar community, as soon, there would be a massive change in both the game, and in terms of RP. No longer would their characters be fighting a war on another world, but right back home, in the frozen wastes of the north. The thread was filled with hilarious and touching anecdotes, ancient screenshots which made everyone feel old and nostalgic, and some really heartfelt comments on people's times on the realm. Here is a link.

Does anyone ever look through their Screenshot folders?

Do it now. Especially if you've had your PC for a while, and haven't wiped the hard-drive. Do it, and cycle through the images. Cycle through the stages of your character levelling up, and the gear that they gradually upgrade and exchange until they get to the point where they are now. Cycle through the ones you wish you'd never taken, the ones you're eternally grateful that you did, or the ones that you took completely by accident. Cycle through the little bits of conversation that you just HAD to preserve in memory, or the landscapes that took your breath away. Cycle through the shots that show scenes wherein practically hundreds of RPers gathered together to wreck havoc upon the Legion, or the Scourge, or simply just to have a good time in the Blue Recluse, or the Darkmoon Faire, or Booty Bay.

Do this when listening to music. I dunno, maybe the Sin'Dorei theme. Or maybe The Breaking of the Fellowship. Or maybe your favourite song you go on raids with. Do this late at night, when you should be getting to sleep, but you aren't because you're fascinated.

Do you feel it, then? The giddiness of looking through almost two years of Sha'tar history? Of your own history? Remember what your life was like outside of WOW when THAT screenshot was taken? You were still doing your second year at college, you hadn't met this person, or that person. Do you feel the nostalgia of wishing the realm was like that again? I think that very few people look upon their past game time and think that it was terrible, and that they're much happier now. That's nostalgia. Good memories, yeah?

For me, this is a very personal thread. I want it to be a personal thread for others, too. This isn't just a case of posting your favourite screenshots, or chatting about the first time you RPed with someone you now can hardly RP without. This is about all that. And above all, this is about the realm itself, the changes it has been through, and the changes it will go through. For right now, the realm is about to go through a massive shift we have not seen since... well, probably since it began. There is a whole new continent to explore soon, and the RP landscape will change drastically. A whole new class to RP, legions of foes to focus your hate on, and many, many, many new locations to set your scenes in.

And it makes me think back. I think the most affecting RP for me was back in March of this year, when the Heroes' Society first began. I'm not going to gloss this over: The Heroes' Society is not what it once was, and that is due to a number of factors I won't bore you with here. Right now, we hold off events until the expansion in the hope that interest will be renewed when it comes around. But am I hopeful? Not really. Perhaps the project has had its day, and that'd be a real shame for me, and Salax too. We pumped so much enthusiasm and creativity into it, and at its height...

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The greatest spont event the Heroes' Society ever had. GIRAFFES!

At its height, it was a wonderful thing. As arrogant as this sounds, it helped rejuvenate Horde RP for a while. As did Nahue's Nature events, Burg's and the Fen Witch's stellar contributions, and the brilliant storytelling nights. It's not a coincidence that I decided I'd post that on the Community Events forum, and get us recognised on the front page. I've always found the nights to be INTEGRAL to Horde RP. Incredibly, incredibly important. And when the popularity of them waned, due to, I think, the attempted takeovers that some guilds did (and those guilds probably know who they are, and from what I have seen, they wouldn't do so again. Any resentment about it has since vanished in smoke, and I'm confident that the future nights will go down beautifully), Horde RP took a huge hit. Because much of the unity that side of the realm has was because of the Nights. And now, yes, it's pretty cliquish - people being in their own groups and rarely RPing outside them.

But, early Heroes' Society was fantastic. It was a completely new type of RP for many people, and we were pioneering a type of RP that mixed the old with the new. Classic D&D style adventures in World of Warcraft. And the channels used to be a bastion of good-natured banter, and people being kind to each other. It really was the nicest time, in terms of social climate, that I've been in a game, or an Internet community, even. There was always something going on, and... people knew what it was that was going on, because there was always the forum thread being updated (not just by me, either. Loads of people contributed, and said how much they liked events, and things like that), the channel was always alive, and...

This is nostalgia, yeah. But I wonder for the life of me if it's unwarranted, or actually true. I certainly remember it being an awesome time to be an RPer, and I looked forward to each Sunday with glee. It was when Charlie was still a mystery, and was a very important character. It was when I was still levelling up, so spending most of my time on Gremkarc. Nowadays, I'm very split. Chingo and Gremkarc are two developed characters, whom I am glad to have, and don't need to focus on as much. But the others I don't click with as much, purely because I spend so much time on those two mains, too.

And with early Heroes' Society, you could tell people were having fun a lot more. More people were turning out to events (it's depressing now. There is nothing worse in an event than having a minute amount of people. Because it shows that people ain't interested in what you got to offer), and they contributed a lot more. They used their imaginations, and afterwards, they'd commend you on how fun it was, and ask if they could bring along their friends to later ones. And they'd post stories. Stories! The best praise an event organizer can ever get are stories.

We've had a lot of people leave the realm, and a lot of people join. Tremendous forces of the realm, who gave a hell of a lot of RP to people, such as Gabrion, Kadash, Mohlmaughn, Burnheart, Monor, Dingy, Skullsmasher... these were guys that shaped the realm. And I'm not being elitist about this, and saying that these guys were important and you should respect them. I'm saying that these guys hosted RP events, and contributed to RP, and were positive influences. But these guys have been replaced by people like Iyokus, Soraya, Pixpix, Belgor, and Dalvoron. Think about all the relationships you've had on the realm, with new and the old.

The period before an event, when everyone is gathering, and chatting about getting there on the various RP channels... it's always inspiring, and really fun to see. When it feels like the realm is unified about one event, one part of the RP world. It's happened most recently at Eyel's Hallow's End Ball, and to me, this is what is so attractive about events. They unite people, and get them meeting new companions, and they're all in it together. As RPers we might bicker and argue and insult and condescend, but how many of you would vouch for RP being a valuable past-time, and not as social reclusive as some might suggest? And that's what's so great to see.

And how about when you get someone you've never seen before turning up to your event. You might never see them again, but it's great they've come. There's loads of times when I'm RPing that I wish to RP with a person more, to see what their character is like. It's happened when I see particular posts on a forum. Hell, it happened with Guak, and now she's one of the people I talk to most on the realm. You probably know what I'm talking about. There's some people who post on these boards who I'd love to meet in game, but somehow never have. I remember when Gwenllian finally turned up to my Tyr's Hand event TEN MINUTES BEFORE IT FINISHED, and I was gutted, because her stories leading up to the event had been hilarious, so I was excited to see her character in game. So for about ten minutes afterwards, I made a point of killing Scourge with her.

And then, we have the Blasted War. I've noticed that people tend to split the realm's history between pre-Blasted War, and post-Blasted War. That's very humbling. No matter what the IC mark on the server was, the OOC mark was that this was perhaps the event that united the entire server. It brought 3000 views to the thread that I started for it, and it got us up on the main page of the website. It welcomed newcomers to the realm, immortalized golden oldies, and provided interactivity to an event that ended up stalling because I set my sights too high.

Never since Ahn'Qiraj had I seen so many different faces, all RPing. For the first week, Blasted Lands BELONGED to RPers. It was a huge thing on both sides of the realm. On the Horde, elves came out of their circles, and began RPing with the other members of the Horde. Orc and elf fought alike. Long conversations between RPers about the current military climate were had, and, oh man, like the early days of HS, it just left me giddy. So many RPers, and so much going on.

It died, of course. I'm not going to post again why. But with it, that spark went, too, I think. The circles withdrew back, and personally, I think the anti-climax on Horde side at least killed a lot of the atmosphere of the realm. My confidence took a hit, and I think, so did the realm's. This was the biggest, most explosive event the Sha'tar had ever seen, and kapow. It missed the target by quite a few feet, by the end. Nethergarde and Stonard were ghost towns.

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Blasted War Begins

Still...the first meeting of the Alliance army... the re-taking of the mines, the numerous drills, the demon summoning, the missions to faraway places, the raid upon Sunken Temple and Zul'Gurub. The Infernal Rain that would have destroyed Nethergarde's barracks had it not have been for Grandi and Lonar (and Iyokus). I'm never forgetting those.

I remember when Hani organized that beautiful celebration of one year of the Sha'tar, back in January. Loads of people turned up, and they finished it off with an excellent, excellent, excellent firework session, and there was so much pride and enthusiasm for our birthday realm. And then, we gathered up our swords, shields, and staffs, and marched down the Dead Scar in what was my first real event. I can't remember doing anything like that before, and really, Dead Scar was the one that was such a simple idea that people nevertheless felt part of. Whacking zombies and clearing out Deatholme.

It was mad, because it was cross-faction cooperative, and I don't think it had been done before on the realm (correct me if I am wrong, obviously! :) ). And I felt so proud to do that event, and see people enjoy it. It was pretty naff, now I think about it, and terribly organized, but, for me, it was a great way to start.

The first time I joined a Horde RP channel as my alt Bchingo (an orc!), I was greeted by so many people that I had only ever seen on the forum. "it's the gnome!" they shouted, "It's him!", "OMG, IT'S CHINGO?". Heh. I felt like a rockstar, or something, and completely undeserving of it (I'm not Gaebriel!), but it was great to feel appreciated for being a grumpy and annoyed gnome with a wizards' hat and a lack of patience. But this is getting pretty self-indulgent.

Does the realm feel alive to you folks? I've got standards all over the shop, so can't tell. I just know that getting people to events is more of a struggle, and there is a lot of animosity. Like I said earlier, we're on the brink of a major change to the realm in all aspects, so this time is critical. I want next year's birthday party to be just as chaotic with the text as this year's, and I'm wondering if people think that's going to happen.