Superior Realities Top Ten Posts

Four years ago today, I launched Superior Realities as a way to show off my writing and share my love of all things nerdy. Since then, it’s been a fixture of my life, and while coming up with a new post every third day sometimes feels like a bit of a chore, I find it’s an experience that I have enjoyed on the whole, and I am surprised by how much I miss blogging when real life prevents me from posting.

Rather than a traditional anniversary post, I’ve decided to do a top ten list of the blog’s most popular posts over the last few years. This is based on the traffic stats WordPress provides.

10: Transmog Addiction, the Dire State of Raiding, and Becoming a Real Writer

My rogue in her first transmog setFrom what I’ve seen, most of this post’s popularity can be attributed to people looking up inspiration for transmog sets. I don’t really consider this a particularly memorable post myself.

9: TSW Solo Tips: Crafting Is Your Friend

The assembly window in The Secret WorldYou’ll soon notice a pattern in this list: My guides for the Secret World consistently rank among my most popular posts.

I am a little surprised this one doesn’t rank higher, as I think this is one of my better and more comprehensive guides, but I suppose crafting is a pretty small part of the game, so probably not too many people are looking for info on it.

8: The Secret World: Scenario Survival Guide + New Article

Caught in a dust storm during the Hotel scenario in The Secret WorldAnd again.

7: Review: “Sanctuary for None, Part Two” (Season Finale) + New Writing

Sanctuary logoThis is one post whose popularity I really don’t understand. It’s finally dropped off in the last year or so, but for most of my blog’s history, it’s been one of my top-performing posts almost every single day.

But I don’t know why. Sanctuary was never a very popular show — hence why this turned out to be its last ever episode — and I’m sure there are bigger sites doing reviews of it. Maybe I just accidentally hit on some perfect SEO formula?

It’s a mystery.

6: Blizzard 2011 Writing Contest Finalist: The Future of Lordaeron

Cover art for my fan fiction "The Future of Lordaeron"Long time readers of this blog may remember that I was one of the runner up prize winners in what turned out to be Blizzard’s last fan fiction contest.

If I may toot my own horn for a moment (get your mind out of the gutter), my story wound up getting far more attention than the actual winner — at least from what I saw. Certainly it got a lot more attention on the official forums, and I know my story went somewhat viral across the Warcraft community for a while.

This was not entirely happenstance. I deliberately chose a controversial topic — Sylvanas — and while most of the feedback was positive, I did succeed in badly upsetting a few fanatical Alliance fans, and I had no issues debating them endlessly to keep my story in the public eye.

I am an attention whore, and I feel no shame.

5: Is World of Warcraft Going Buy to Play?

Dance, cow, dance!This one’s popularity is mostly just down to good luck. I found it odd there was little discussion over this rather intriguing rumour (which turned out to not really be true, but it was fun while it lasted), so I sent Massively-that-was a tip about it, and they did an article on the topic with this post listed as a source.

Not sure why they bothered. MMO-Champion was the one who initially reported it.

But regardless, I’m glad they did, as their article — including the link to my post — went majorly viral, and I had the biggest traffic spike in this blog’s history. At the peak, I was getting nearly two thousand hits per day.

4: Review: The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey

A map of Middle EarthThis is another one whose popularity I can’t explain. Obviously it was a very big movie, but I’m sure there are thousands of reviews on it across the web, many of them on better known sites than mine. Again, maybe I just hit on some magic formula of SEO without realizing it.

3: Female Armour: Just Say No to the Platekini (+ New Writing)

Anjali and Katarina show off their gear in Dungeon Siege IIII’d like to think this post’s popularity is due to a groundswell of feminist ideals and support for the dignity of female characters, but based on my analytics, most of its hits seem to come from people looking for pictures of scantily clad Blood Elves.

I don’t know why they don’t just go to a Rule 34 site like a normal person.

2: The Secret World: Solo Tips and Ugly Vampires

My Templar posing in The Secret World's Blue Mountain zoneAnd once again, we see the popularity of my TSW guides. My theory is that this is because TSW is just popular enough for there to be a lot of people looking for guides, but not a lot of places offering guides. It’s an under-served niche.

1: TSW Solo Tips: My Builds + New Article

My Dragon blasting zmeu with his quantum BRACE in The Secret WorldIt’s a bit of a shame that this is my all-time most popular post. Even among my various TSW guides, I think this is probably my least useful. Still has some value, of course, but my builds likely aren’t the best of the best, and even if they were, it would only be a drop in the bucket of what the game’s ability wheel can offer.

Also, I really need to get around to updating my Templar’s build in that post. She doesn’t even use hammers anymore.

* * *

Here’s to four more years of ranting about Warcraft and reviewing obscure sci-fi shows.

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What Happened to Dwarves?

I’m the Elf guy. Everyone who knows me knows this. Elves are my favourite fantasy archetype. I live by the creed, “If it’s not an Elf, leave it on the shelf.”

A shot of Gimli, son of Gloin, in the Lord of the Rings filmsBut you may be surprised to learn that in my earlier years I was also a pretty huge Dwarf fan. When I played Lord of the Rings as a kid, I was always Gimli, and I was damn happy about it.

I admired the courage, the nobility, and the sheer badassery of Dwarves. They were mighty warriors and loyal friends.

As the years went on, my interest in the Dwarf archetype faded and ultimately all but evaporated. Part of this is due to my changing tastes and my love for Elves coming to eclipse all else, but a lot of this also has to do with how the fantasy genre has treated the archetype and — I think — failed it.

Of all the major fantasy archetypes, Dwarves seem to have the least variety in their depictions. I’ve seen amazing variety in the depictions of Elves — good and evil Elves, wild and civilized Elves, fierce and placid Elves, magical and mundane Elves. Dragons, too, have incredibly creativity in their various depictions. They’re usually huge fire-breathing lizards, but their temperaments and their places in a world and its history can vary wildly.

Dwarves are always pretty much the same. I’ve seen a few minor variations on the theme here and there, but they’re generally all just a bunch of bland Gimli clones. Nobody seems to put much effort into their Dwarves.

Art of Magni Bronzebeard from World of WarcraftWhat’s worse is that what little change has come to the archetype has not at all been for the better. The archetype has not expanded, but narrowed. It hasn’t evolved; it’s devolved.

These days, the overwhelming majority of Dwarves you seen in fantasy are crude, hard-drinking brawlers with cartoony accents, and little more. They’re buffoons.

It didn’t use to be this way. If you go back to the beginning, Tolkien’s Dwarves had dignity. Sure, they liked to drink, and they were a bit crude, and they never backed down from a good fight, but there was a lot more to them than that. They were an ancient and noble people with a mysterious and complex culture. They built wondrous marvels, and they accomplished grand deeds.

Look at Thorin Oakenshield. Here is a Dwarf with dignity. He is a regal and terrible figure, brave and bold but also subtle and majestic.

Watching the Hobbit movies and being reminded what a grand leader Thorin is really opened my eyes to how much modern fantasy has failed the Dwarven archetype. They have the potential to be so much more than tipsy thugs that sound like Groundskeeper Willie.

Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield in the Hobbit filmsIt echoes how pop culture belittles ancient Nordic culture, from which the Dwarven archetype draws much of its inspiration. People view the Norse as naught but hard-drinking, brutal raiders, and certainly that was part of their culture, but there was much more to them than that. They were also great poets and scholars with a rich culture and mythology, and they were far more technologically and socially advanced than the other European peoples of the time.

I want Dwarves to take their dignity back. I want them to get a fair shake. They deserve to have all the depth, complexity, and variety of the other great fantasy archetypes. One of my goals for future writing projects is to present a version of Dwarves that is more original and more sophisticated than what has come before, and I would love to see the rest of the fantasy genre do likewise.

Let Dwarves live up to their full potential. Let me be a Dwarf fan again.