Relationships. They are everywhere; heck, Aion even nods (and markets) to relationships by offering a wedding dress/tuxedo through the NCsoft Store. When something commands as much of your time and attention as playing your favorite MMO does, relationships of some type are bound to form. And some are even lucky enough to have their real-life partners play right alongside them; wife-aggro takes on a whole new meaning when she shanghais you for an Udas Temple run!
Whether they're in-game, a part of real life, or just an online fling love affair, relationships can and do have a profound affect on game play in Aion for everyone, not just those within said relationship. And while a Balaur's share of the effect is drama, that luckily is not the totality of it! Sometimes relationships create stability and camaraderie for groups and are beneficial to the community.
Lovers'-leap over the break for Wings Over Atreia's look at relationships and their effects in Atreia.
While most of the relationships have the common denominator of drama, each type has its own peculiar nuances that differentiate it from others. So what relationships are most prevalent in Aion?
The Cleric lounges in the soft Sanctum grass as her latest thrall fans her with a targena leaf and feeds her succulent wiki fruit. A slender Daeva approaches. "You called for me, QueenHealy?" the young recruit asks hesitantly, not wanting to interrupt.
The Cleric's half-lidded eyes drift over to the lovely girl before her. "Yes, my sweet. I am otherwise detained, so be a dear and go... entertain my husband. He needs some attention." Her coy smile widened at the shocked look on the recruit's face.
Probably the one situation most rife with drama is that of the non-exclusive couple. Perhaps both are completely open and fine with the arrangement, which means as long as all adults are consenting, there are no issues -- just keep private affairs private, please, and not public. Unfortunately, as brought out in episode one of Daevas of Our Lives, most often the situation plays out such that those with romantic ties get preferential treatment, often to a degree that is damaging to a legion.
What really causes issues is when the swinging is not a mutual pastime. When one-half of the couple demonstrates the personality of the Nympho and is prancing around with multiple partners within a legion and the other is either not aware or does not approve, it makes for some very uncomfortable situations for other legion members. When the AP finally hits the fan, there is usually some massive fall-out for everyone within range, but that's an episode to air another week.
He sat quietly on the stone of the ledge in Silentera Canyon, the group pacing and fidgeting around him. "Ninjaarrow, we desperately need you! We have waited hours, and with you we can finally storm the Temple!"
Inspecting the fletching of his arrows, Ninjaarrow speaks calmly. "I cannot move from this spot until my beloved comes. It simply cannot be; we shall never be apart. Perhaps, if you wait longer -- and remove another from your presence -- we shall join you. I am sure she shall arrive soon-ish. Perhaps."
Joined at the hip is putting it mildly. Many of you may have had the "privilege" of interacting with a twosome who cling together so tightly they cannot be distinguished from one another, much like the high school couple in the Zits comic. Sometimes they only log on and off in tandem and they group exclusively with one another, even on alts, eschewing everyone else. Others group but always come as a single unit -- and Seraphim Lords forbid if anyone tries to get one to group and do something without the other!
This couple will often force their togetherness on everyone else by insisting quite vocally that they are inseparable and that others must bend to accommodate them. Even worse, if one -- or both -- of the couple is an in-demand and sought after class, that one often dictates who is allowed into a group and will even force others out in order to accommodate the significant other. Too bad if it punishes the legion (or the group) and prevents others from participating; the couple is all that matters. That's not to say that all couples who like to spend all their in-game time together exhibit this level of selfishness -- some don't. But for those who do, one wonders why they even bother joining a legion if there is no concern about anyone else... unless it is to just selfishly use people?
Noting the arrival of more, Speedylips quickly backtracks to begin the story again and gushes to her audience. "So it all started when he offered to take me to this quaint little spot in Verteron where we ordered a drink. Then he took my hand and..."
You know this type -- they broadcast their personal lives to everyone; legion chat, whispers, LFG, Ventrilo, and even emails and IM programs outside of game are media for sharing personal and intimate details that are best left either between the couple or in a counselor's office. Honestly, we really don't want or need to know the sordid details of your love lives! And we don't need an answer to "Who's cheatin' who, who's bein' true, and who don't even care anymore." Words can also never be taken back; you never know when something you blurt out to the aether will come back to haunt you. A little discretion can go a looooong way.
The grumbling gladiator Pokeypole swung his weapon with vengeance at the mobs before him and ranted to his group members, spitting curses with every breath as he regaled them with his love interest's escapades. "So after she all did that, what would you do?"
Although these couples can also be Megaphones, using the media available to them to share the details of their relationship with a broad audience, Cowhands go even further by lassoing others into their problems. Often they enlist their legionmates to take sides in their relationships. Even among a smaller audience, these couples want to get others involved in their personal lives, to know about their problems and give time and support to them. Truly, though, Aion really is not the appropriate forum to receive couples counseling. Go to a professional for that!
The most detrimental part is the strain this puts on others when they're saddled with things they have no control over and can honestly do nothing about. It is very difficult for nice people to turn away someone who is in need (especially a damsel in distress), but these are not matters that need to be shared with half the faction. Not to mention that when things go wrong and people are compelled to choose sides, it can really cause rifts within a legion. Most sane and mature people do not pay their monthly subscription fee to be roped into drama. And that is exactly what these couples do.
The most beneficial of relationships in game, these couples belong to the mature relationship category. Almost exclusively comprised of long-term relationships in real life, this group often provides stability to those around them and encourages interaction and camaraderie. Rocks are often found leading or co-leading legions. They have little use for drama (hence there simply is no episode of Daevas of Our Lives to attribute to them), and they are in the game to actually play the game.
Unlike the Peaches, these couples needn't be connected at the hip; in fact, they often give up their places in a group to help out their partner or any others who might need it. Their secure connection outside of game gives them the freedom to explore aspects of the game without their companion. They share their resources without complaint. Although you may hear them teasing one another, their private lives are not broadcast to everyone like the Megaphones lives, and they don't involve others like the Cowhands do.
And finally, there are the non-disclosed relationships. This second group of couples in the mature category is filled with those who keep their relationship status to themselves -- along with all details of their lives together. Most often, Daevas don't even know the couple is one! This couple (thankfully) keep their gaming and personal lives separate, and in doing so, they don't affect those they game with.
Soaring through the Aionosphere, MJ Guthrie touches down weekly to bring you Wings Over Atreia. Featuring tips, guides, and general snippets of life in Aion, the column is better than Tutty-on-a-stick, ackackackackackack! Have a suggestion to share? No need to bribe a Shugo -- just send mail to email@example.com.