Monday, June 6, 2022

Hear The Roar

It was four years ago that I first reported on the arrival of free, rainbow-rabbit familiars in EverQuest II. They arrived as part Daybreak's contribution to Pride Month

I think it was the first time the company officially joined in the celebrations but it's hard to be sure. Reading Holly Longdale's Summer 2019 Producer's Letter again, I notice the section on the Pride Bunny giveaway begins "This year..." as though referring to an existing tradition but I can't find any mention of anything earlier, either on this blog, the wiki or anywhere else. 

Whenever it began, it's very much a tradition now. Bunny familiars are as much a part of an EQII summer as Ethereals and Panda Quests. Only there don't seem to be any Ethereal events this year and Yun Zi has moved his scavenger hunt to the autumn. And this year's Pride Bunnies are... lions.

Respect to Accendo once again for not making any of the obvious puns. I don't think I could have resisted the temptation. I can barely resist it now. 

This year's free familiars are:

Mithaniel's Proudheart Lion
Mithaniel's Trueheart Lion
Mithaniel's Boundless Heart Lion

I'm guessing we're going to cycle through the same sequence of lions as we did bunnies. If so, it answers the question I had about just how many gender and orientation variants Daybreak was prepared to acknowledge. 

I'm not going to get into the "What gender or sexual orientation does each name and color represent?" discussion again, except to say it still comes up occasionally in general chat. Such conversations have been gratifyingly respectfully, at least in my experience, but they rarely come to any firm conclusions. 

I'm very glad the many variations are in the game to give representation to those who claim them but I've been running around for years now with different bunnies on different characters and no-one's ever called me on any of them, which is just as well because I'd be hard put to say just what flag I was flying at any given moment.

Such ignorance might seem worrisome and there may be questions of cultural appropriation to be answered but I see it somewhat differently. As I said in my post four years ago, "In the nearly twenty years I've been playing EverQuest games, attitudes in MMORPGs to what we now call the LGBTQ+ community have changed almost out of recognition. The days when a single /ooc recruiting call for a "gay and lesbian friendly" guild would result in a torrent of abuse seem like something from deep history, thank the gods." That players can be confused by the symbolism but comfortable and unthreatened in their confusion seems like progress to me.

The choice of familiars rather than cosmetic pets is also significant, I think. I might be reading too much into it but it seems to me that there's a welcome element of gravitas and commitment involved in giving away items of considerable power and status rather than something that could be dismissed as "fluff". Not that there's anything wrong with fluff!

And these are some powerful familiars. This year's trio forms an advance guard for the forthcoming Season Nine, soon to be available in the cash shop. They have very nice stats as a result. They may only be "common" quality but they came as a handy upgrade to the familiar my Bruiser was using and he got that only a few months ago, a boss drop from a Visions of Vetrovia solo dungeon.

For that reason alone, I'd recommend any EQII player, however casual and infrequent, to take the time to log in and claim at least one Pride Lion on whatever character they think might get played this year. In fact, since there's no limit to how many you can have, you might as well get all of them for all your characters. That's what I'm going to do.

I tried out all three and the one I like the look of most is the one that appears least interesting in the store. The Proudheart Lion seems like it might be the plainest but it turns out to have a lovely, rainbow particle effect, brightly-colored highlights, glowing eyes and the rainbow flag right across its nose. 

Even typing that paragraph I realise I'm running into some pronoun issues. I note that Daybreak also choose to use "it" in the in-game descriptions, which is a luxury games featuring non-human characters can enjoy. It still feels slightly uncomfortable, somehow, all the same.

And that discomfort, like the comfort with confusion I mentioned above, is a good thing. It means we're aware of the issue. That in itself is a mark of how much things have changed and how far we've come. And also of how far we still have to go.

It's been a long road but it's heading in the right direction and we've been travelling together along it for longer than we sometimes remember. The Pride movement itself stems out of the Stonewall Riots. They happened more than fifty years ago but just a handful of years later, when I was a young teenager, the culture was already beginning to open up. It's been opening like a beautiful flower ever since.

There were setbacks. It's always two steps forward, one step back. Sometimes more than one. Every advance moves us closer to another challenge. And yet there are always those who just seem to get it.

I was taken by surprise a couple of weeks ago, when I came across this:

The lyrics seem so on point for the 2020s but it's a cover of a song Paul Westerberg wrote and performed with the Replacements almost forty years ago. I know I said there was plenty of that sort of thing going on in the 1970s but not quite like this. 

I can't believe I'd never heard it before. I'm really glad I've heard it now.


  1. Replies
    1. Sadly, the lion doesn't actually make a noise when it roars... or I don't think it dies. Maybe it's a very quiet roar...


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