Being a director of a colony of Hearthlings has been, without a doubt, the hardest part of my gaming career. While working for the betterment of our growing civilizations, we turned no Hearthling away; regardless of whether or not they were capable of anything. Further, and I will let you in on the shameful secret of “Come as You Are” colony’s.
We had a contract with our local Hearthling Society which stated that we would “promote to soldier”, in our colony, the Hearthlings under our supervision that needed to be released from the town. This is how they get away with accepting everyone no matter how low the individual newcomer’s stats while remaining a strong colony. So our colony not only got all of the normal plethora of functional members of society that came to our courts on a daily update, but we also got the cast-offs who neither had the mind, body nor will to carry their own weight (this once included 4 Hearthlings in one week; all for due for a “promotion”).
For the most part, we get through the day by joking with one another on the forums, and turning off those voices in our gut that tell us we are the biggest traitors in the Hearth. We are, after all, there to protect the Hearthlings, right? So, we manage to build-up this armor around ourselves that protects us from seeing the reality of what we do. We kill weaklings. We kill Hearthlings that are weak or dumb. We kill Hearthlings that are under-socialized or weak-willed. And we kill Hearthlings that are healthy and mediocre that are just simply not wanted by anyone else. This is the reality of the job.
Killing the Hearthlings that are weak, dumb, and otherwise ill-fit members of society, while still difficult, is easier to swallow than killing the ones that are mediocre. But the fact of the matter is, when you have 100 Hearthlings, and you are filled to capacity, and you are getting anywhere from 1-7 more each week; something has got to give. And that is when healthy, mediocre, Hearthlings are sent to their demise alone on the field of battle with no one to resuscitate them. There is just no room for anything short of greatness.
There are times when our armor breaks. Those inevitable cracks that allow the reality of what we do to seep in. There are things that will always stand out in my memory, that are burned into it, that will never escape me. My whole life has been about helping Hearthlings out of crisis and into comfort. I have devoted my life to helping to alleviate their suffering, and being a voice for them. Despite the hundreds of Hearthlings that I have saved over the years, there are still times when I stop and think about my time as a director of a colony of Hearthlings, and the magnitude of what I have done comes crashing down on me. I only allow it to do so for a short period of time, because there is always that fear that if I truly let myself think about what I have done, it will destroy me. Unfortunately, I have seen it destroy many of my fellow
StoneHearth users, and as a result, I have seen countless others turn to alcohol or self-deprecating comments on their own profiles.
This next paragraph is rough, so if you don’t have the stomach to read a little more about Hearthlings being removed from the colony’s, skip to the next.
I think about a sweet little guy who stayed with us as a worker for 2 months before we finally had to let him go because we didn’t have the room, and his time was up. He looked at me with big, brown, trusting eyes, gave me his trust when I asked for him to take the sword, and courageously stormed into battle with nothing but that wooden sparring sword while I instructed the rest of the soldiers to take the day off. I think about the little Hearthling woman who received her promotion the same hour she arrived in our colony. I think about the way that they she unsuspectingly accepted the sword with grace and played her role in the suicide mission I had sent her on. I think about the countless, others, who watched in frozen horror as she, just like many others had been sent away from them, knowing that later they would be relocating her headstone after she had plenty of time to bleed out. I think about the mourning that takes place after each one dies and the victims peas for help as they lie wounded on the cold hard ground.
I wish I could I say that these were all exceptional cases; that this wasn’t what I dealt with everyday for countless Hearthling years. But the truth is; this is what every Stonehearth user faces every day in their late-game. And we do it because we care. Because we know that it has to be done by someone, and that at least when we do it, that Hearthling will get that last little pat on the head. And every time a member of the public calls us a “Hearthling killer” because they don’t understand the reality of what a Stonehearth colony director faces, it stings.
There is a well-known story about a user, who had a dream one night that she died, and went to heaven, and all of the Hearthlings that she had ever “promoted” were behind the pearly gates, and they wouldn’t let her in. I would like to think that our ex-colonists would better understand why we do it than the general public seems to understand. I would like to think that they would appreciate the men and women that have stepped into that role so that they could ensure that this necessary evil was being done in the best way possible. Then again, maybe I am being idealistic, and it is just my way of keeping that armor whole, and free of cracks. I guess I will never know. I realize I will likely be excommunicated for this article but I feel someone has to own up to it. Maybe one day there will be a mod where we can simply banish or send a hearthling away from our colony. Until that day, stay strong my friends.