So, I had an interesting experience today.
I started a new character.
Now, I am not a new player. I have played this game for between 10-15 years. I've been around for a long time, not as long as some, but longer than many. I've always played the same character. Today, I decided that I wanted to change up the experience a little. So, I created a Jester. I rushed through the tutorial/newbie areas and made my way into the world.
I won't claim to be all-knowing about Achaea (or even close), nor have I kept up entirely with the history, lore, changes, etc., but I am mostly quite familiar with the world. Being an old player, my main character is pretty respected and treated well in almost all cases. But, oh the difference for a newbie.
I start this Jester off pretty quickly. Get to about level 20 no problem. I'm exploring the lands, doing a bit of shopping, and then I meet a couple of young characters in a tavern. I quickly use this opportunity to use my new Jester abilities to have a helluva lot of fun casting humorous illusions and blowing up balloon giraffes and performing/entertaining in general. I'm laughing, my character is laughing, the other characters are laughing. What a great time...
Then, I get a tell from another Jester wanting to recruit me into their House, which I then join and I'm out and about shopping when I meet up with said character. It's friendly of course at first, but then, as I express some trepidation about the (from the char's perspective) enormous undertaking that seems to be the joining of a house, I start to feel a slight tug of resistance in my newly met colleague. My character explains that he doesn't really like the idea of being regulated and limited (never really got the chance to explain what I meant by this -- just didn't want to feel like I had to be constantly accomplishing tasks and baby-sat and expected to be some big achiever -- my experience with Houses learned during play of my main char). Of course, I'm informed that regulations are necessary to prevent whatever and yada yada. I'm then told that the city my character is in would be far more constrictive, so my character quits his city (not really a player choice, so much as an RP decision, though I do start to recall reading scrolls about it being highly suggested or required to do this, that, and the other in said city as a novice). By this point, I'm starting to become aware that I may be frustrating this other Jester as well as yet another character (I believe also a Jester) that has joined us. So, in my attempt at a bit of humor, I illusion a sad clown cliche -- a small raincloud floating in over my characters head and my character states "all this talk about... is making me a sad clown". The characters respond with a quick "jesters are not clowns, but we'll leave you to your thoughts. Good luck." and leave the area before I can really even respond.
Okay. Not so bad, but a little annoying because I was actually kind of genuinely trying to get their assistance, albeit in a humorous way befitting a class with this namesake and considering the house I had joined makes it a priority to be comedic. So, I promptly quit the house and joined another city -- one that they actually suggested would be a good fit. I say my greetings and then: "I think I just got some 'tude from some Jesters". My kind of light-hearted, though admittedly unnecessary attempt at expressing my disappointment. Granted, I know emotion doesn't always translate well via text.
I get a reply: "You're about to get some more tude. buddy. [sic]"
I'm informed some members of my previous house are citizens of this new city; that I should not speak poorly of this character's housemates. I'm told to tread lightly by another.
What in the hell kind of welcome is this? If I were a new player I would be out of here! I wasn't trying to make any waves and my character expressed as much via the proper communication channels, and then offered an apology (which was accepted). But, no one said to me 'sorry, maybe it was all just a misunderstanding' or whatever.
One character did, thankfully, show up at my characters location, quickly worked to be a listening ear and a calming presence, and gave me a generous lump of gold to get me started. He also provided me with some advice and patiently answered my questions about this new class I was taking on. (I'm a seasoned player, but I've been dormant for quite some time over the years and there have been a lot of changes as of late that I needed some clarification of).
So, eventually he leaves to go tend to something and I go about my way hunting. After about a total of maybe 4 hours of playing I get a notice that my character name has been reviewed and is unacceptable. Please read HELP NAMES yada yada yada. My character's name was Bullet. I guess it's unacceptable because it's offensive? I read through all the recommendations and criteria, etc., and that seemed to be the best reason. Fine. But, by this time I'm getting pretty heated. I've just had two characters short with me, one character (at least) threaten my character, and now after 3 or 4 hours of playing I'm told my name is unacceptable with no explanation why.
Bullet -- I get it. It's probably because it's offensive. I didn't mean for it to be. It's short for Bullet Rodson/Bulletrodson a nickname of fictional character I've played in other rpgs. It's a nickname and is in no way intended to be associated with the ammo or any kind of weapon. But, even if it was, uh... we're playing a game where you can decapitate and mount heads on pikes. Further, bullet is the name of ammo for a shepherd's sling according to Baldur's Gate. So, to me it's a fine fitting name for a jester in a medieval/fantasy environment. In fact, I loved this name and the first character I interacted with complemented me on it. The -first- character I met complemented my character on his name.
Secondly, a jester is not a clown. I understand. But, it's basically a clown. Yeah, a shoe is not a boot. A truck is not a car. I get it. But, really? I've played this game for almost 15 years and I've always thought of Jesters as goofy, fun loving (or mischievous, if evil) characters. Like a clown. I promise I am not the only one. The main House is named Carnivalis. Carnival. Do you see jesters or clowns at carnivals? Maybe both. I typically see clowns.
Thirdly, who cares? It's a game. Stop taking this so damn seriously. It's good to have some ground rules about how humorous things can be and whatnot, but there is a location in Achaea called Bopalopia that you get to by eating mushrooms and you escape by tickling a cat in a hat. It's okay to have some humor.
Had I not been a veteran player, would I still be around? Likely not. The welcome that I received with this new character was downright ridiculous, barring a few select individuals. Is this community truly as elitist as the impressions I got. Have I been blind to it all these years? How many new adventurers have we turned away because of similar encounters. Achaea is not just a game, it's a business. This could have actual economic implications.
With that said, I love Achaea. I love the community that I've gotten to know through my main character. And, I don't mean for this to be a personal attack on anyone. I just had to say something. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.