Arm in Arm in Massive Worlds
We highlight our community members every month in our community spotlight because there are numerous amazing stories to tell. We’ve highlighted content creators who put their opinions out there for the world to take in, guilds who look to dominate the challenges ahead, artists who use their craft to celebrate Pantheon, and much more. Today, we highlight another impressive story, one of 20 years of marriage between two of our VIP testers whose relationship flourished, and strained, due to the allure of MMORPGs. Together they tackled challenges, complimented one another with their strengths, and developed stories to tell, many of which were forged within immersive online worlds.
Join us in learning more about Faymom and DagnyStout.
Thanks for joining us for this feature! Why don’t we start by giving everyone an idea of what got you started in gaming and perhaps a standout moment that made you a “gamer.” Let’s start outside of the MMORPG space.
Faymom: I’ve always loved games. I loved card games and board games with family, I loved video games from the very beginning of their history. We had a table tennis video game console thing that hooked up to the TV. It wasn’t Pong. Knowing my parents, it was a cheap-ass knockoff Pong. Also, because they were cheap, I had some hard times getting to play video games. We didn’t have an Atari or Nintendo. I did get a Vic-20 to both play some games on and do some programming with. That was my first experience with playing online with a 300 baud modem because the local university had a VAX server with tons of games like Adventure on it. I’d also steal my mom’s quarters that she hid away just so I could go to the arcade up the street. In another vastly cheap move, I also loved to play games on my father’s IBM PC he got when I was 7, but he was too cheap to get a video card. I played this one roguelike BY SOUND for hours and hours. I also played lots of Infocom text adventure games, both by myself and with my dad. OK, so that’s childhood. There was kind of a pause for a couple of years, and then I started playing Magic: The Gathering in college. And then I learned about MUDs and between that and Magic, I had to say I was a gamer at that point. I don’t feel like there was a standout moment. I grew up with games and always wanted to play them.
DagnyStout: My extended family played a LOT of card games as I was growing up. Being in the Midwest, Euchre was always a fam favorite. Some of my fondest memories are playing Gin Rummy with my Great Grandmother. As I age, I really appreciate my parents being early adopters of some technologies. They bought an Atari 2600 when I was still a small child and video games became part of my DNA from that point on. A grandparent bought me a Timex Sinclair 1000 when I was somewhere in the vicinity of fourth grade. I can still remember daydreaming all day about lines of BASIC code that I couldn’t wait to try when I got home. When my family bought our first PC, IBM P/S2 Model 30, back when the model number was an indication of how large the hard drive space was, I remember grabbing computer magazines from the library that contained entire games written in BASIC that you could re-type. My first copy of King’s Quest blew my mind. As an aside, I have really enjoyed the recent release of the King’s Quest games on the PlayStation so that I could share some of that universe with my daughter.
Ok now, let’s dig into MMORPGs, what was your introduction and give me a moment that got you hooked?
Faymom: I started playing in MUDs in college. That was my first introduction to being an adventuring class in a game with other people going on non-stop killing sprees while adding levels and better equipment and buying and selling. I had not played D&D tabletop prior to MUD playing, weirdly, so I was like “OMG what even is this amazing RPG where I’m not alone???” I MUD’ed ALOT. I was pretty addicted, but when Dagny mentioned this EQ game (over and over), I wanted to give it a try. I was on somebody’s account, and I rolled an Erudite, I think a Paladin now that I’m thinking harder on it, her name was Lauralanthalasa. I got lost all around Erudin for a while. I don’t remember anything else about that game session, but it didn’t catch my attention. It seemed too hard to play compared to MUDing, and my beloved Dagny was not always the best teacher back in those days.
I don’t think I played EQ again until Dagny and I started to get interested in each other from a romantic standpoint. I was an Erudite Wizard – the wizard part becomes important later. I don’t remember a moment… I just became so enamored of the ability to adventure in this immersive (I SAID IMMERSIVE, I SAID IT! Ha!) world. I loved to hear the audio around me help make the world come alive. And those huge giants, dastardly griffins and lethal, LETHAL, Kith skeletons made everything more fun than I could get in a MUD. It’s one thing to read you’re getting smashed by a giant dragon and quite another to watch it happen and hear it happen.
DagnyStout: I had begun working at the university’s Help Desk as our first network support analyst as the university began offering dial-up internet to residents of our campus housing as an alternative to CompuServe or AOL at the time. One of our student employees wouldn’t stop talking about EverQuest and several of them had started playing it. He convinced me to create a character on his account. Sadly, I don’t remember what I named that first halfling cleric I created, but I do remember that I put all the points in charisma because I dreamed of being some sort of boisterous hobbit. I was fortunate to be one of those people who stepped into EQ and saw the world through my character’s eyes; it was so special. The moment I find myself talking about the most was my first successful run through Kithicor Forest to emerge into the Commonlands and see my first hill giant. It was so massive for my tiny halfling, and I couldn’t resist trying to get as close as possible just to be stomped on and one shot “un-alived”. I cannot say for sure, but I do not believe that corpse was ever recovered. The excitement and danger of that moment made me vow to return someday and exact my revenge. It was advantageous for us to play on the work computers with access to high-speed internet and decent graphics capabilities, something we’d never get away with today. When the weekends rolled around, we’d switch out of work mode around 6 pm on a Friday and make sure we were out of there by 8 am on Saturday when the cleaning staff would come by. We’d grab breakfast at Bob Evans and recap our night’s adventures, take a nap, and be back in the office to play again that evening.
Now if I’m not mistaken, gaming was a big part of your history together. I’d love it if you could share how that came to be, and what led to the start of your long relationship?
DagnyStout: Well, we actually met through the same help desk I mentioned earlier. Faymom had published a web page helping people connect to our dial-up networking using a Microsoft GINA and so we brought her in to convince her to work in our office. She was in a serious relationship at the time and ended up married once more before we started dating. I’m her 3rd love; but, I’m the one she couldn’t get rid of. We celebrate 20 years of marriage next month. We met in summer of 1998 and finally began our romantic relationship in the aftermath of 9/11 a few years later. And knowing she loved MUDs, I really wanted her to play EQ since that was where the majority of my free time was going and I wanted to spend it with her. Of course, I wasn’t willing to give up EQ though! At the time, my friend group were largely playing on the PvP server, Rallos Zek, and I had a high-level cleric that I had been playing since fall of 1999; so, I tried to have her join us there. She had a miserable experience trying to stay alive as people would corpse camp her dead ass. She rage-quit for a few months until she charmed us into starting fresh toons on a blue server. She can correct me, but I think she joined for good around the time Luclin came out. Eventually, we moved in together and began hosting LAN-style parties with our friend group, which we affectionately called “BBeQs”, as a word play on bar-be-que. We’d toss some food on the grill while we gamed together.
Faymom: I see you want Dagny to answer first – but before I answer, I do want to see what he answers. We didn’t meet online but we sure almost broke up online.
OK – his stuff is accurate enough for go-time, ha! I’ll add that my beloved Dagny was much less sensitive about gender issues at the time than he is now. You might say he’s quite woke, or as he puts it “much less misogynistic.” Before the corpse camping incident that Dagny alluded to earlier, I also had a moment about the female model being basically in underwear and on Rallos that meant you were half-naked A LOT if you sucked at staying alive. I’m AOLing him (yeah, this was 2002) my extreme pissed-offedness about being constantly naked as a female avatar with a female player and he’s totally not on board with it. He was telling me I was wrong to feel that way etc. And the male models were naked too etc. We got through that argument. And then I was in Misty Thicket minding my own business one day. Just trying to get some supplies in town. Then, some jerk a few levels higher decided to kill me. That was it. I couldn’t; I just couldn’t take it anymore. The moment I rose from the dead, naked ass, full mana, I ran to him (very close because he was camping me) and just zapped away. Then he killed me, and then I popped up, and then I zapped away. On and on, until he realized I’d just keep going, so then I started chasing him and zapping. There was never a moment he was in any danger, but he also could not accomplish anything else for the half hour that I absolutely griefed him despite death, after death, after death.
Everything became quite wonderful after we moved to The Seventh Hammer with our friends. I loved those BBeQs!
Do you both typically spend most of your time playing together in MMORPGs? Do you make classes that complement each other when you do play together?
Faymom: We play together a lot, but not exclusively. If I’m not on with him, I’ll probably be soloing because I’m painfully shy about getting into a group. He tends to solo a lot when I’m not around as well, and he’ll be more likely to also group without me. But yeah, we of course play a lot together when our schedules allow. He is an enchanter as his first choice, so most things go along with that, but I go Paladin. If Paladin isn’t enough like good ole EQ or WoW pallies, I’ll probably be a Dire Lord. Enchanter/Tank does great as a duo, especially with Paladin healing. We are both alt-aholics, but when we create alts, we pretty much always pick what will either play well together or provide some kind of utility to both of our sets of characters.
WoW grouping is so dumb. We did group but I don’t even remember what he played. I was a paladin when he was playing. I was Alliance before he started playing, but then I went Horde. We still ended up soloing all the time because he worked during the day, and I was home with our baby daughter. I also got HEAVY into Auctioneer; Dagny has incredibly little interest in that side of MMOs. He’ll farm and sell mats or nice equipment, but I can get obsessed with the market game.
DagnyStout: It’s varied over the years. In EQ, I originally started an Enchanter to compliment her Paladin with the ultimate goal to switch back to my level 49 cleric some day. Instead, I fell in love with the enchanter and retired my cleric to a Complete Heal bot for the guild when they needed her for boss fights or raid content. Faymom broke off to WoW long before I did. I was in beta for Vanguard and had a miserable experience when that launched even though I went and purchased a top of line video card just for that game. So, I found myself giving EQ2 a try, but I did not play long. If memory serves me right, I joined the WoW bandwagon with the release of Burning Crusade. This rejoined us in the MMO space for a few years before we sort of quit for a long while in favor of couch-based RPGs like Oblivion or Skyrim.
What’s your proudest achievement/moment in an MMORPG?
DagnyStout: Probably a weird answer but acquiring the Aegis of Life shield for my first Dagny, the Cleric. A +wis shield that you could wear on your back, heck yes! It was the first time I paid close attention to spawn timers and things like that. I had bound near those skeleton ruins at the north side of South Karana and would wake up in the middle of the night just to clear the placeholder and my guild knew that if we died on a dungeon, someone would have to come fetch me from the Karanas which put pressure on our groups to keep the Cleric alive! Plus, you had to achieve ally status with some faction, if I recall. I spent months, and months, working on that one quest. The feeling of achievement when that skeleton Grimrot popped, and dropped his heart is etched forever in my mind.
Faymom: Getting my AA Paladin Horse in EQ1 back in the day. I went from Qeynos to Freeport overland. I went to wherever there would be a sunrise or sunset over a lake or ocean. I also had a similar feeling getting that top notch Pally armor set from LDoN. We don’t raid, so for me that was the best equipment ever and we worked very hard. LDoN was probably my favorite expansion just for pure entertainment in a very Diablo-esque murder hobo grind way. Add to that, we met so many great folks that way.
Ok, I have to ask – who’s the stronger MMORPG player?
Faymom: Dagny is definitely the stronger player. I get lost easily, I don’t pull as well as he does, he solos more effectively whether it’s farming or experience. He’s a better leader as far as getting things going, strategy to take, getting to know people. Almost all of it. But I’m a better tank. I think I’m his equal as healer, though. I will say though, I manage DPS stupendously as a Wizard. So, there are things I challenge him at, but he’s better. One thing is if I’m going to play a class past level 10 or 15, I’m going to really know it.
DagnyStout: Depends on how much I’ve had to drink. Up through 7 or 8 beers, I think I’m the stronger player. After 7 though, she probably overtakes me. She always plays a trustworthy tank and is a great complement to my preferred playstyle as support.
How did you both discover Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen?
DagnyStout: A coworker who recently joined my team was talking about their love of RPGs and MMORPGs and we got to talking about WoW and EQ and SWG etc. and he asked if I’d been following the progress of Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen. I hadn’t heard of it, so I went and watched every YouTube video I could find. I made my way to content from Voices of Terminus and eventually PantheonPlus. I don’t remember if I was there for episode 1, but it was close to the beginning. I would have to listen to the recordings, though.
Faymom: Dagny kept telling me about it for a couple of years and I wasn’t really paying attention. Then, he got me into P99 and pledged for the first time with Pantheon at about the same time. After a few weeks of P99 and I was starting to watch some of the videos he was watching; podcasts like the Rewind, and I got very interested as well. I even thought I’d dive in and try to be a content creator, and my non-profit work exploded right around the same time.
In your time following Pantheon, what has your interests peaked about its development and eventual launch?
Faymom: Dagny and I are both Pre-Alpha Testers so like… ALL OF IT. The first time I logged into Terminus and ran around, I seriously did tear up. Climbing is a great addition to the classic elements of the game. I love how mining works, and I think the gathering and crafting systems are on a good path toward something I would enjoy doing.
DagnyStout: I know it sounds cliché, but I am looking forward to a challenging game that brings people together to overcome obstacles and fostering people who enjoy spending time together. Our first guild was called ‘Drunkards of Rallos’ back when I played EQ on Rallos Zek. We formed that guild solely so that our friend group could have a fun guild tag. When we switched to Seventh Hammer, we reformed as “For Glory Or Beer” … note the OR, it’s important! We were never a big raiding guild, but I think we were known as a guild of skilled players that could hold their own. We would be welcome to join forces with other guilds on occasion. I want to reclaim that feeling of a group of friends enjoying this fantasy world together. I’ve already met so many great people and I love getting to hear about the real world through all these different perspectives while we play within a fantasy world together. It gives me some hope in our species’ ability to create a better world during a time where that hope can be hard to find.
Faymom: Yes, all of that too!
What’s your favorite content type to consume typically?
DagnyStout: I most enjoy finding a nice spot to setup camp in a dungeon and have a constant barrage of the puller bringing back mobs for the group to kill. Roamers or other obstacles that present those moments of panic and especially welcome. I get bored though and like to move spots after we demonstrate mastery of that area for a while to find somewhere new to conquer.
Faymom: On the one hand, I completely agree with Dagny, and my favorite low commitment thing to do is what he describes above. I have a much higher tolerance than he does with staying in one place until leveling out. But I also love zones where you’re on the move toward somewhere just naturally, and then you might circle your way back for the respawns. I’m most clearly thinking of Torgiran Mines in Legacy of Ykesha, but I’m sure there are many examples I could pull out. I like the story that comes out if you look around, listen, and read.
Have you decided, at least thus far, what race and class you’re both looking to play?
Faymom: Human Paladin or Dire Lord for Karalyn. Gnome Wizard for Xapxapxap. “Faymom” will be a healer, probably Druid, whatever race min/maxes that.
DagnyStout: Enchanter for sure but I’m still torn on the race. It may depend on if we have some sort of illusions and what that ends up looking like. After my first experience with putting all my points into charisma for a cleric in EQ, I have become more sensitive to min/max, but so far, I don’t see anything so compelling to drive my decision. Two factors influence my choices – how common it is and how aesthetically pleasing I find it. Illusions go a long way for me in helping mitigate the pain of that decision. Back in EQ, most people outside our guild would swear that my High Elf enchanter was a Dark Elf because I always kept the illusion up; they just looked better.
Putting you on the spot, how would you both describe the other as an MMORPG Player?
DagnyStout: Probably the same way I’d describe her in real life – socially awkward at times but extremely loyal to the team. She’s generally willing to go anywhere and do anything but you are going to have to help her get there.
Faymom: Dagny is a very friendly and chatty player. I’m so glad he can be boisterous enough for the two of us!
So, you both have the floor, what would you say to the community out there following the development of Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen?
Faymom: I can’t wait to meet everyone in Terminus! The wait is going to be worth it.
DagnyStout: Visionary Realms has a great challenge on their hands. On one hand, scaling back on their planned features, compromising their tenets, or lowering their expectations for quality could allow them to release this game sooner; but, to do so would also risk the longevity of the world as the living and thriving community I want to enjoy for years, if not decades to come. It is important that we continue to pressure them at the edges of this great challenge while also granting them our trust to fulfill this dream with the integrity and passion we have seen thus far.
Thank you both for taking some time and letting us into the story of your amazing 20 years of marriage. Happy anniversary by the way, as this article will hit just in time to celebrate this exciting achievement. Stories like this show why MMORPGs are a different breed of game, and the impact, when done right, that it can have on fostering relationships all over the world. We can’t wait to hear of your stories in Terminus when it opens to the world. Thank you for your support and impact in the community.
We are thankful for the amazing stories our community has shared thus far with us. Do you have a story about how MMORPGs have made a difference in your life? Has it driven your creative urges? Has it made you a better leader? Has it helped you overcome difficulties in your life? We’d love to hear your tale and show why community truly matters. Drop us a line in the forums.
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