In my 5 years of playing World of Warcraft I've had plenty of virtual friends come and go. My good Aussie shadow (dirty) priest friend transferred to an Oceanic server back when they first created them (no one could blame him) and rerolled horde. A handful of friends hopped off the server for free when Blizzard created a server (Sisters of Elune) off ours to help with our crazy server login queues back in the day. Others quit due to real-life complications, some got bored and return for the first half of an expansion before quitting again and returning when the next comes out. Others transferred elsewhere for better opportunities or to join real-life friends and family members who started playing elsewhere... you get the point.
One friend that's come and gone over the years though is my good friend Bjornson (or Bjorn as we usually referred to him).
He was my RP buddy, as when I started playing on the RP server and got forced into an RP guild, I kinda got into a bit. My boyfriend at the time though wasn't too big on it though, so I found others in our guild to RP with.
I met Bjorn early on in the game - maybe my 2nd or 3rd week of playing. It was summer break, I was crashing with my future roommate on her couch at her former place for 2 weeks before we could move into our apartment, as I had a job down there and commuting everyday would be annoying.
My boyfriend at the time was helping me with my level 20 Paladin quest to get the awesome lowbie Ret Pally 2-handed mace Verigan's Fist (hey, it WAS awesome back then, lol...), which requires you to collect items from 4 different spots literally all over Azeroth (Deadmines, Thelsamar, Shadowfang Keep and Black Fathom Depths). He helped me with the first 3, but needed to go to bed and couldn't stay up to help me visit BFD for the last part. He told me the items I needed were outside the instance though and I should be able to do it myself if I wanted, otherwise he'd be back the next night to help me.
Well, I didn't want to wait, however I had no clue where BFD was!
The next night while I'm questing, he logs on, asks if I got my quest completed, congratulates me and offers to help me with my current quests. I was grinding some boring mobs for a kill x-amount of mobs quest and didn't mind the company, so I grouped up with him again.
We started RPing and just regular chatting and got to be regular quest buddies.
Usually I would run into him in the early mornings, as he would get up, take his doggie for a walk and then log in for a good hour or 2 before heading off to work. I learned he was an older guy, in his early 40s I recall, who had been playing RPGs since like the 70s. He worked for the government, doing Conservation work up in upstate New York - I asked him if he knew the small town I briefly lived in as an infant and turns out, he had been there and his station wasn't too far from there either!
I was catching up to him level-wise, so we were able to do quests together, him healing me while I killed everything in sight. It was a dynamic that worked pretty well for us, since I was a Ret (dps) Pally and he was a Holy (healer) Pally. Eventually though, he had to take a hiatus for a good 4-6 weeks in the middle of the summer - he was just shy of level 40 and getting his mount.
By the time he came back, I was almost level 50 and the tables had turned - I would offer to help him quest to get him caught up to me and get his mount.
I have a lot of memories with Bjorn though.
We were nicknamed the Dynamic Duo as he brought the heals while I brought the melee dps (he was actually one of our guild's main healers for our guild instance runs).
While RPing our characters, they started to have a relationship and even RP'd a wedding at the Stormwind cathedral which was literally the talk of the server amongst those that RP'd (and many of the old school RPers that are still somewhat around remember it and make mention of it from time to time). We actually started a trend with that, as there were several other "weddings" since ours. Our RP relationship was strictly PG though; we kept our character's RP relationship separate from our real-life ingame friendship and never allowed it to get graphic or cross "that line" - were both on the same page - he knew I had a boyfriend (who became our guild leader) and he had told me several times he wasn't interesting in an actual relationship (from what I could get out of him and his friend, his last serious relationship ended badly and he swore he'd never have another relationship and was sticking to that, hence being single in his 40s - he would never tell me the details of it, as curious as I was and still am). I'll admit, I did have a little bit of a school-girl crush on him, but I knew nothing would ever come of it as he was old enough to be my dad and we lived several states away; I did look forward to chatting with him daily though and questing together throughout the game.
One of our favorite places to go sit and chat was just overlooking the waterfalls in southern Stranglethorn Vale, near the pirates just northwest of Booty Bay. It was so pretty there.
Everyone on our server that had met him and grouped with him liked him - he was just a nice, friendly gentleman and like I said, he was an awesome healer! People were more than willing to help him out with quests and gear, even though we all knew he hated asking for help from others, as he'd rather be the one helping.
He took a brief hiatus near the end of Vanilla WoW, (RPing that Bjorn had received a tip about the whereabouts of the group that had killed off his family long ago and was going in search of revenge but Flour could not go with, as she had her own guild duties to attend to) but returned a few months into Burning Crusade. Unfortunately though, some of the game dynamics had changed and despite his best efforts... he was a bit rusty getting back into it and making the necessary adjustments to the changes.
We got him to 70 though, but then his account got hacked.
And it got hacked real bad. Characters stripped, his beloved Bjorn transferred elsewhere, account locked. He called Blizzard and went over it with them numerous times but for some reason they were refusing to unlock his account and restore it. He couldn't figure out why either, as he did everything they asked to verify ownership.
He was devastated and frustrated, throwing in the towel, as he had worked so hard on his character over the years to have it pulled out from under him like that. He said he was done.
I'm curious as to what he's up to though - what game he's playing now - as I've missed chatting with him regularly.
He never gave us a real name, although for awhile in Vanilla he did foot the monthly $10 or whatever for our guild's web site server we had used for awhile, and I once caught a glimpse of the name he used for the card the monthly fee was going on. I felt guilty though, as he requested us not view it, as he didn't want us to know his real name. I don't get why though, as from what I recall it was, it was something very generic - just about as generic as hubby's name and you really can't get much more generic than that.
I've tried logging into all the old guild sites we used over the years (ie: Guildportal) to try and send him a message that would reach his actual email but all the sites got deleted having had no activity for years. I've also tried Googling the name I recall and terms related to the upstate New York conservation department. I think I might have found one lead (yes, I occasionally have strange, stalker-like tendencies, hubby gives me grief about it all the time, I blame it on my insane curiosity lol...), but there was no contact info.
It's like he fell off the face of the earth - disappeared - and I have no way to reach him.
He was like the best friend I had in-game and honestly, I do miss him. He was a really great guy and I hope things are going well with whatever he's up to.
If you ever come across an older fellow in a Blizzard game (or any RPG for that matter) who played a paladin named Bjornson and a priest named Skaard in WoW, tell him Flourentine would love to chat and catch up with him ;-)