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Webcomics, in many ways, are like restaurant menus. See, you've got all these big main courses. You order something and you're bound to get a LOT of it (unless it's one of those restaurants that makes you pay a little for a lot).

And then after (or before!) that, you have "appetizers" that are pretty much main courses in and of themselves.

And if you try to eat both a main course AND an appetizer, your gut will likely burst! Unless you have a stomach like— I dunno, Yoshi or something.

Well, this page of Extra Stuff could be considered the "appetizer menu" to Ragnarok Wisdom's "main course" of comics. And, hopefully, if you read both the comics as well as these, you'll bust a gut ... from laughter!

Actually, wait, don't bust a gut. I don't want to kill my readership!
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Dead Branching Towns and Spawn Points
November 2003

It's something that's (sadly) an all too common sight in iRO. Ever since dead branches were first introduced to the international service back in Beta-2, towns have rarely had a moment that wasn't plagued by mass dead branch summons. Walking through or even nearby a town has become about as hazardous as walking through a minefield.

It should be no small surprise that the dynamic FAQ for iRO has this following question in its top ten FAQs: "People keep summoning monsters in town. I can't take it anymore!"

Dead Branches, while an incredibly fun item to use when alone with friends or even just by yourself, is far too easy to be used to grief. That was clearly evident by the time the first iRO player got his hands on a dead branch and used it; it's a belief of mine that most iRO players think nothing of having fun at the expense of someone else, and it's no more prevalent than in dead branching (as well as the general attitude of dead branch enthusiasts).

You don't have to look far to see what most people do with a dead branch. In the major RO communities, you'll see some lamer croon about his latest "massacre" and provide screenshots and talk about how many branches he used in a town. These griefers always seek out large crowds of people who are vending or in trading chatrooms (and therefore more than likely not at their computers), armed with very large numbers of branches, and obviously intent on everyone's death.

But what's wrong with that, you might ask? Most DB enthusiasts will proclaim that it's perfectly okay, and that people in town will often cry for more monsters to kill. The people want it, right? So what's the big deal? Why are there people who hate this kind of thing, or call it griefing?

"A Pedestrian's Worst Nightmare"

I don't know of many people who would be pleased to have, say, spent zeny on a warp to a town or walked all the way to said town, only to be flattened by someone's mob of summoned monsters. Indeed, it's quite irritating—especially if you've lost EXP in, say, a warp that took you to the outside maps of a town (especially the Culvert entrance, which is a favorite spot for the griefers).

It's going to be even more worse if and when the penalties for death become more severe—not only do you lose zeny or waste time for trying to get to a town, you could drop something rare and valuable or lose gobs of EXP for something you couldn't even help—and of course, if item drops DO get implemented in iRO, the griefers will just be provoked to committing more acts of DB massacres in hopes of slaughtering hapless travelers and picking up the goods. If that ever happens, iRO will most likely wind up like Graal did when it was free—PKing was so rampant, there was simply no point to play the game. Newbies never got the chance to become stronger and lamers would camp banks, killing pedestrians trying to save the five cents they managed to find in a player-hostile world. (What? You say that using dead branches to kill someone isn't a form of PK? It is, but it's indirect.)

Thankfully, penalties for death aren't that bad right now—and no one loses EXP in a city. However, 1% EXP for people who are reasonably leveled can equate to quite a lot of time lost because a lamer had to get his jollies. And no one can simply deny that dying upon entering a town isn't annoying.

What Does Gravity Say About It?

Going back to that Dynamic FAQ I mentioned, if you took a look at it you'd see that Gravity's reply to the issue was basically this, de-Engrishized:

"Dead branches were implemented because they're another way for players to have fun. We're not going to limit its use because of that, but we hope players will be sensible with them."

Heh. iRO players? Sensible?

A question I've asked quite a few of the more fanatic DBers is, "What do you consider 'moderation?' A hundred branches? Two hundred?" None of them gave me a response except "shut up n00b ima spam dbs in culverts now ;)" or avoided the question entirely.

Let's go to some other points. I'm sorry if I happen to sound like a little tattletale baby when I quote the rules, but you have to face it—these rules are there for a reason, and no matter what you might think from wallhacking in the Counterstrike public servers, they were not made to be broken. (Seriously. Some of the griefers have told me "hahaha their r no rules!!!!" in response to that.)

Take a look at these two offenses:

"All kinds of rude behaviour (that is regarded as doing harm, annoying or intercepting other people while playing)"
"Skill Abuse (Icewall abuse or teleport abuse to harm or annoy other people)"

Both of these offenses can include using dozens of dead branches in towns or spawn points. (After all—people are annoyed and killed by people who use dead branches to grief, otherwise that Dynamic FAQ question wouldn't be on the list, nor would there be ANY opposition to dead branching at all. Nor would several groups (such as the Crusaders of Rune-Midgard or, as I've heard through the grape vine, Merchant Guild) prohibit and take an official stance against that kind of griefing.)

The second offense may be included, but probably less so— however, the dead branch is an item that uses a type of skill to summon a monster—it just doesn't, er, 'reveal' itself to be one like the Yggdrassil Leaf does (or the Talisman, once it gets into RO).

It's true that dead branching is not explicitly listed in the list of offenses—however, it doesn't take a scientist to know that dead branches used in a crowded area of town with the intent of creating as many dead bodies as possible constitutes harassment or an attempt to harm players in-game.

And if you're still skeptical, there's always the fact that...

Gravity HAS Banned Some People For Dead Branching

From what I've heard, people have been banned after they had flooded a city or a Kafra spawn point with dead branches. That alone would be the final word in an argument like this. Even if Gravity is unwilling to hardwire dead branches as to be unusable in places frequented by people who don't want to be killed by a monster, they are still punishing the griefers who try it.

Of course, it takes a GM to know who's doing it or not—trying to catch evidence of someone who has griefed is nearly impossible with their current state (and that's probably why so many people enjoy doing it—there's a very small chance that you can get caught).

The Opposition Flames Back

As I said earlier, most people who speak up against dead branching are often curbstomped by the dead branch enthusiasts. I've seen some rather disgusting instances on pak0 when it was up, including people saying "This is what makes dead branching towns so enjoyable; when people get angry like this." (Total griefer behavior there!) It's even worse on RO-World, and a big reason why I don't go there.

Despite the obvious fact that many dead branch addicts do it because they enjoy harassing others (a statement that most of them would laugh at in glee), there are those who will say they don't do it to massacre others—that they do it for the people who beg for more.

As I said in a reply to a shoutbox entry by arkie, I was a bit surprised when I didn't get flamed—at all—during the time the comic concerning RO lamers and MMORPG karma was first put up. arkie accused people against town massacres of being whiners and took on a "shame on you!" tone. "Shame on you! These people spend so much money on dead branches so you can have fun and you just whine whine whine! >.<!"

If only it were true; if only most of the griefers did it for people other than themselves to have fun—alas, that's not the case. Otherwise, the dead branch griefing community wouldn't have violently flamed me for suggestions I made that would have solved the problem of involving people who didn't want to get involved.

You see, from what I've heard by people who play on other language servers, iRO is one of the more vulgar ones when it comes to dead branching in towns. In jRO, the brancher will release monsters one at a time and resurrect anyone who falls in battle. In cRO, people will go to a secluded area and form a ring around the dead brancher.

In iRO, the dead brancher will carry bucketloads of branches to the nearest crowded area full of vending merchants and people generally not in a position to defend themselves, and then release them all in one massive horde, hoping to overwhelm people that might just happen to be alert and kill them. When they're done, they take pictures of the bodycount and go to their favorite iRO community forum to post pictures and giggle like a schoolgirl.

You can easily see the difference. If this were about spending your money as an altruist so that people in town could have fun, you obviously wouldn't be out to kill as many bystanders as possible, would you?

For people who actually do release dead branches in town so that people can have fun and not die senselssly for your amusement, consider this: Why not announce you'll be releasing dead branches and request people to follow you to a secluded area in town if they want to fight them? I know people who do this and they will get quite a few eager participants every time, and not only does this allow people in town who like fighting summoned monsters to have fun, but it also doesn't involve people just trying to get through town or complete an NPC quest, or people who are vending.

That's how it should be, in my opinion!

In Closing...

To review what I've said, dead branches are an enjoyable item, whether by yourself or with friends, but they are easily abused. There are people out there—quite a few—who loathe the abuse of dead branches, and while Gravity has been reluctant to hardcode the items to prevent such sensless griefing, people have been apparently punished for their "db massacres" and while it is not directly listed in Gravity's list of offenses, mass dead branching of towns and spawn points does qualify as harassment, possibly even skill abuse.

If you happen to be a dead branch enthusiast, please think about what I've said. Likely if you're a griefer who enjoys putting others in bad situations for your own amusement, you'll just giggle over this essay and not care. If, however, you truly do dead branch in towns for others' amusement, then you should consider trying to minimize collateral damage—please, don't be a griefer!

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Ragnarok Wisdom is © 2002 Irish Lightning Studios.
This notice does not imply any exclusive right to preexisting material by other authors featured in Ragnarok Wisdom.

Ragnarok Online is © 2001 Gravity Corp. All Rights Reserved.
Ragnarok: Into the Abyss is © 1995 Myung-Jin Lee. All Rights Reserved.

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