I've been running instances on an almost daily basis for a couple of months now, and the long road of questing to get to 80 seems a distant memory. Yes, I'm still doing quests for the Loremaster achievement, but it's not the same. The imminent threat of character death lent a different feel to that questing, and since I did my trip to 80 on a PvP server, there was always the "look over your shoulder, someone might be waiting to gank you" aspect to it.
Even the time I've spent running instances and doing heroics has changed my perception a bit. While I'm not a wily veteran like the long time players or the raiders are, I know my way around enough to know what I need to do to survive the instance and not look like an idiot. Although it may sure seem otherwise at times, I'm not a noob anymore. I was reminded of that last night during a run in The Nexus, and the day before in the Pit of Saron.
When I ported into The Nexus and began blessing people with Kings and Wisdom, the first thing one of the characters said after introductions was "does anyone need food?" Then the healer said that he needed to drink after buffing everybody. It had been ages since anyone had even mentioned those two in a heroic instance that I paused and checked out everyone's gear scores. In a bizarre case of turnabout, I had by far the highest gear score of the group.
I made a few mental adjustments and made a point of dialing back my attacks to keep from pulling threat on the first few trash pulls. The pulls went well, if a bit slower than what I'm now used to. Then the tank posted that he had to split; he'd just gotten paged and had to go into work.
No sweat. Real Life comes ahead of a game, and since I'm on a pager rotation I know what that's like. We put in a request for a new tank, and while we waited we chatted about the Stoutbeard encounter just up ahead. At least one party member hadn't heard of him, so I mentioned he's only in the Heroic mode and has a nasty whirlwind attack. A new tank popped in, we took out Stoutbeard after a couple of minutes, and the mage and priest had to drink. We loitered for a minute, let them get back their mana, and we went on to the next trash pull.
Then the second tank dropped out of the party without a word.
"What did I do wrong?" the healer asked. "I did everything I was supposed to, and nobody died."
"You did fine," I told him, and the others agreed. "He was just being a jerk."
"Well, this is my second Heroic instance. Ever."
"You're doing great; I've only been playing since August myself. Believe me, compared to my experience trying to heal Trial of the Champion at the same gear level you are, you're doing fine." I then explained my disaster trying to heal that instance, when we couldn't even get past Palestra; Souldat as the tank was taking so much damage at a pop that even while spamming Holy Light I couldn't keep up.
The story engendered a bunch of laughs. "That's a helluva place to heal for your first 80 instance," the hunter said.
"Yeah, and believe me, you're doing much better than that, Heals."
A third tank ported in, and we resumed the run. We finished with only one character death -due to the spike damage the boss gives in the elemental area- and before I left I complimented the group on the job. Compared to the times I've been in runs where the entire point is to "gogogo!", this was a pleasant experience.
The Pit of Saron also featured a healer new to the instance, and he had severe misgivings about it. "You'll do fine," the tank assured him.
"This instance is built with AoE heals in mind," I added. "I couldn't do it well as a Holy Spec Pally, but you as a shaman should be okay."
We did well, up until after Ick and Crick, when we started having problems staying alive in the vyrkul trash pulls heading up to Tyrannus. A couple of people in the instance had to go repair their gear, and the warlock dropped and was replaced by a mage. "This is getting to be too much for me to heal," the Shaman said.
"Don't worry about it," I replied. "We'll get through this and you'll see it's not a big deal."
We had one more wipe where we pulled too much trash at once, but once we reached the end of the tunnel things went much better with Tyrannus.
"Good job," I told the healer before I left. "Now that you've gotten this under your belt, you'll be that much better at it."
Perhaps I'm seeing myself in these characters, realizing that not very long ago it was me who was in their shoes. I'm taking the encouragement that Soul, Millalyn, and others have given me and am paying it forward. That's one of the best things that I like about the game: the support and camraderie you get from people you may not even know, and the unexpected kindness of strangers.*
Sure, people can be real jerks -or worse- just like in real life, but that doesn't mean that you have to be. I've seen terrible behavior on numerous occasions, but I take that as a "how not to act" and run with it. It might not help the signal to noise ratio in the long run, but it will have an impact on those you interact with.
*One time, when Quint was questing in Desolace, an 80 Pally came riding by. He stopped, a trade window opened, and he started dumping stuff in it. "What do want for this?" I asked, dumbfounded.
"Nothing," he replied. "I'm going to be suspending my account soon, and I'm giving all my stuff away. Do you have any other characters?"
"I priest," I said.
A few more items appeared in the trade window.
"Are you sure about this?"
"Quite sure. Have fun!"