There seems to be a strange tradition of swimwear festivals among some non-Western MMOs. They pop up in news articles or promos from time to time but always in games I don't play so I can't say I've payed much attention. Until now.
Oh, I was a little surprised all that time ago back in GW2's series of beta weekends when I arrived in Lion's Arch to find a whole lot of people in swimming trunks and bikinis lounging on the beach. Especially since it was nighttime. And then there was Southsun. Still, when all's said and done,those were beaches.
|Isn't that a fire risk?|
Ul'Dah is not a beach. Ul'Dah is a hot, dry desert city baking under a fierce sun. Beyond the steps of the city lie dusty plains and scrubland studded with gritty outposts and dangerous beasts. True, there is a very nice seaside resort just down the road but those gates are firmly locked right now. Gridania isn't a beach town either. It's a sprawling settlement deep in a thick forest. It rains a lot and my guess is it's pretty cold. Limsa Lominsa is on the coast but far out on a rocky promontory, whipped by winds, suitable for fishing in good wet weather gear but not, so far as I can tell, for beach volleyball.
Inappropriate weather conditions and absence of anywhere to lay down a towel doesn't cover the half of it, though. It seems that when the Fair comes in through one city gate all normal dress codes and indeed any form of modesty and decency go straight out the other.
|Hmphh. Some people just have no self-respect.|
Of course it's not as though the guards in any of these cities ever seem to enforce any kind of modicum of considerate or even sane behavior on the public streets in the first place. You can set up a crafting station just about anywhere, never mind it stops the traffic for blocks around and then there is that strange thing where when you take up a new craft all your clothes fall off, so I guess public semi-nudity is already something of a cultural norm in the three city states.
As a good tourist I always try to adapt to cultural norms. In this case that means both the real culture behind the game and the culture in which the game is set. Also, free stuff. It might never have occurred to me that what a Lalafell really needed along with her ancient magic crystal, her supernatural gift, her deeply mysterious destiny and her membership of a Secret Society was a blue two-piece swimsuit but if it's free...
|Topaz! It's rude to stare! She's just a poor lady that can't afford clothes.|
I spoke to the Cascadier Captian at the Moonfire Fair and got a long and frankly incomprehensible spiel that left me none the wiser. I had the vague impression I was supposed to go throw buckets of water over some firemen to cool them down. Well that couldn't possibly be right. That would be silly, wouldn't it, and heaven forfend anyone should think there's anything silly about all this.
So I asked where I might get the Wet Ash the swimwear salesperson takes in trade and Mrs Bhagpuss offered to send me some in the post. She had some left over after buying bikinis in three different colors as well as a pair of shorts that she couldn't wear because apparently while you can walk the streets almost naked and no-one will bat an eye, if a girl should put on a pair of shorts meant for a guy cats would lie down with dogs and like that.
|I do so too know how to have fun.|
They might be able to pop anywhere but they don't, at least not very often. Either that or I was just unlucky. I wandered around for an hour or so chasing a mysterious masked man in a black robe who turned out to be remarkably lax with security procedures and eventually I happened on an unfamiliar FATE full of Bombs (that's a type of mob. Yes, it confused me too).
|If I keep my gloves on this didn't really happen.|
Several minutes of highly entertaining, highly explosive combat later I had a bag full of wet ash. A fast chocobo ride back to Ul'Dah, a quick handover and my Lalafell became the uncertain owner of a blue bikini and a sparkler (I forgot to mention the fireworks) and that so far as I could tell was that.
Nothing left to do but go dance with the catgirls. Please throw money.