Wedding Crashers, Arachnos-Style
by Jeff "Ethec" Woleslagle
February 14, 2008 - Ten Ton Hammer was on-hand to witness the in-game nuptials between City of Heroes (CoH) players Sean "Manticore" Dornan-Fish and Jen "Sister Psyche" Dornan-Fish. As you have no doubt guessed, the two are husband and wife in real life, but there's more to the story: Sean and Jen met while working on the premier superhero/supervillain MMORPG. Jen had been a writer on CoH for NCSoft, while Sean worked on the franchise at its former developer, Cryptic Studios (the final details regarding the sale of City of Heroes / City of Villains to NCSoft were announced in November 2007). Eventually, Jen moved to California to be with Sean, and some time after that the couple moved to Austin where Sean took a job with NCSoft as Lead Content Designer on an unannounced project.
But it was City of Heroes that brought the two together, making them the perfect pair for a Valentine's Day wedding. A wedding with a twist, that is.
At the appointed time, invited Heroes arrived in Atlas Park to search out the usher who, if you were lucky enough to make the guest list, would teleport you to the ceremonial grounds at Ouroboros Citadel – a gorgeous and fitting location replete with gold and marble. In the game, the Citadel serves as a base for the mysterious Menders of Ouroboros who, with the free expansion called Issue 11, allowed City of Heroes players to venture backwards in time to relive major events in Paragon City's history. The time-tinkering element of the zone provides a handy excuse for the wedding to occur numerous times on Valentine's Day (the event could only accommodate about a hundred heroes at a time, necessitating a score of services over a three hour period) and, as one wedding-goer quipped, the opportunity to undo things should the marriage prove an unhappy one.
Lead Designer Matt "Positron" Miller officiated. After warning wedding-goers against approaching the platform or disrupting the services in any way, Positron opened with a few words regarding the role Manticore and Sister Psyche played in the history of the game. He detailed Manticore's undercover work within Arachnos and Sister Psyche's unswerving devotion to him during that time, preserving his secret despite kidnapping and torture at the hands of arch-villain Lord Recluse, kingpin of the Arachnos crime organization. "If that's not true love, folks, I don't know what is," Positron stated just before turning the ceremony over to Manticore for a few words.
"You have always seen me differently," Manticore offered, "because you can rise above the thoughts and sense the feelings behind the actions… I'm not known for my heartfelt words, but that is the side of me you bring out. I'm sure everyone is expecting some sarcastic remark. The truth is that my real desire is simply to spend my life with you." Sister Psyche answered, "Now I know that our bond is not based on any one simple aspect of who we are. My world is of the mind and I sometimes lose my connection to the physical realities before me. I stand beside you today because no one else has ever made me feel so connected to the world."
The couple the proceded to exchange vows. Interestingly, the vows Manticore and Sister Psyche shared during the in-game service included excerpts from the wedding vows they offered each other in real life. "Here before our friends, the open sky, the endless sea, and the ancient earth," the betrothed offered in turn, "I give you this ring, which represents the harmonius blend of two spirits, forming a stronger whole. Carved from the same metal as the ring you gave me, it binds us forever." Positron then pronounced Manticore and Sister Psyche man and wife.
Just then, an uninvited and thoroughly unwelcome guest arrived. Teleporting in with comic book gusto, Lord Recluse bellowed, "Oh, how touching. The Freedom Phalanx thinks they can seclude themselves away and have a nice private ceremony. Well, not if I have anything to say about it! Villains! Minions of Arachnos! Follow me to victory!" Sister Psyche chortled, "I just KNEW you couldn't let me have this day to myself, Recluse!" and an epic battle began. Your intrepid reporter lasted all of 15 seconds in the scrum, with high level heroes and villains unleashing their abilities all around. In the end, the forces of good won out, with Lord Recluse and his underlings defeated handily. The heroes, alive and fallen, were teleported to Galaxy City, perhaps to venture into the game's signature social space, the Pocket D nightclub, to complete the wedding gift reconnaissance quest or groove to DJ Zero's eclectic mixes. Or perhaps to try the spoiler's rule, seeking out an Arachnos contact at Mercy Island enlisting villains to do Recluse's dirty work.
Sister Psyche does her Uma Thurman impression (left), while a dapper Manticore puts his bow to use on some baddies.
All in all, the City of… series continues to engage my imagination in a way that no other MMORPG ever has. If you haven't ever experienced a live event in this or any other game or equate good-natured roleplay with bonafide creepiness, keep an eye out for future happenings in Paragon City. I can personally guarantee that you'll have an experience to remember and probably enjoy yourself as well. Thanks to NCSoft for putting on such a great event, and grats to Manticore and Sister Psyche.
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