I hate griefers.   Those vile little devils that camp your corpse, so they can just keep killing you every time you try to respawn.  Those annoying punks who turn on their teammates at the start of the round and team kill to high hell.  Those miserable jerks who will steal kills at the last second.  Griefing involves one player going out of his or her way to cause another player’s game experience to suffer.  In some games griefing can get you banned.  In others, it is just tolerated, and you will have to learn to put up with a griefer’s antics.  Yes, I hate griefers so very much.  But there was a time when I myself was one of them.

I became a griefer by accident.  In the early 2000s my life was about nothing except to find better loot for my Necromancer in Diablo 2.  I would find myself hacking and slashing away at Baal and his minions until the cows came home, and then I would slaughter all of them as well (except for the King cow, because killing him meant the game creator could not be able to create the portal any more).

Eventually, I would amass a large amount of loot that I needed to trade for Sojs, perfect skulls, and after the expansion came out, runes.  Those currency items would then be traded for gear that would allow me to increase the number of minions in my army.  And getting just one more skeleton mage at my command meant everything.  EVERYTHING!

On one fateful gray and rainy Sunday, I found myself in a trade game, opening trade windows with everyone that came in, hoping they would have exactly what I wanted and need exactly what I had.  After many hours of unsuccessful bartering, an amazon joined the realm.  We got the typical message that Diablo’s minions had grown stronger, and I clicked the glowing avatar of the amazon, sending my request to trade.

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When the trade window came up, we both started filling up the trade grid, showing each other what we had to offer.  And then I saw it, a wand with plus to all necro skills AND plus to raise skeleton.  It was a thing of beauty, a weapon which would make me look badass and allow me to increase the number of undead minions at my control.  I immediately offered an SOJ, and the amazon woman (who was probably played in real-life by a dude) said that if I threw in a shield, we had a deal.  I informed her that I had a shield in my stash and we would be set to go.

I hurried to my stash, excited that I had found a perfect deal after hours of searching, and grabbed the shield.  We opened a new trade window, and I showed her the shield.  It was to the amazon’s liking, so the deal was set.  And then something happened that opened my eyes to a new and much easier way of obtaining all the loot my heart desired. 

You see in Diablo 2, all rings had just a few different skins for their picture.  And not all unique rings of the same type shared the same skin.  So my SOJ might show a picture of a red gem, while your SOJ shows a picture of a blue gem.  Our rings would have exactly the same magical powers, but be represented by a different image.  But this also meant that my SOJ, one of the most highly sought after rings in the game and the center of the game's economy, might look just the same as a magic ring found right at the beginning of act 1 normal, say a plus 1 to minimum damage ring.

So I excitedly grabbed a ring that I thought was my SOJ, as it shared the same skin, and I put it into the trade window next to the shield.  The amazon had already put the weapon up, and as soon as my ring hit the trade window, the poor arrow slinging amazon clicked the accept trade button.  I did the same.  I opened my inventory to equip my new weapon, when I noticed I still had a ring.  I noticed it looked just like the SOJ I thought I had traded, so I looked at it.  As soon as I saw that it was my SOJ, the amazon started going crazy in trade chat, accusing me of being a cheat and scoundrel.  I pieced together what had happened, and then tried to defend myself, fully intending on give the amazon the SOJ as we had agreed.  But the verbal punishment kept coming.

At first, I was embarrassed and surprised that I could do something like that.  But as the verbal onslaught continued, it became quite funny to me.  I could show an SOJ, close the trade window, open a new one and put up a worthless ring that looked just like my SOJ, and if an overeager trader clicked the accept trade button without mouseing over the ring first, I could obtain a mountain of items worth SOJ’s without ever trading away the one I had.  I was sure that this particular situation couldn’t be repeated, but I set about trying to scam people anyway.  My excuse for closing the trade window was usually that I needed to make room in my inventory for whatever item I was going to be trading for.  Most people were already well aware of this tactic, as I surely was not the first to try it, but occasionally, someone would fall for it.

I was a complete jackass about it.  After being tricked, some people would continuously send me whispers, begging me for their hard earned gear back.  I would just laugh and tell them to wise up. It was a tough world out there and everyone was fighting for themselves.  Strong words of advice from a high school kid spending his Saturday’s pulling fast one’s on unsuspecting Diablo 2 traders.  I would accept any trade for the SOJ, even for bad gear that was worthless and I would immediately sell for gold, just for the thrill of seeing people get pissed off at me for my ploy.

Eventually, the fun faded and I went back to resenting all griefers.  But despite the strong hatred I have towards those that do it, I will always understand why some punk kid thinks it’s funny to outsmart innocent players they come into contact with in these online worlds.  Kids, don’t live like me.

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