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I don’t know how Blizzard will play out the events following the story as it is. But I am one of those people that secretly suspect that Sylvanas Windrunner had everything to do with the assault on the Wrathgate which, in turn, led to the deaths of Putress and, more importantly, Varimathras.

I think Sylvanas had/has it all planned out. While she was probably more than certain that Arthas would survive the assault, she would succeed in a real life test of her plague against the Scourge and against the living. But, more importantly, she would be rid of Varimathras, whom she has likely not trusted since day one. Likely she was aware of some conspiratorial activities by Varimathras and allowed these activities to continue.

Allowing the attack on Undercity would suit her purposes and would give her credibility when she went before Thrall to present herself as completely uninvolved with Putress and Varimathras.

I am of the opinion that her vengeance goes far beyond Arthas at this point. I believe that she sees her people, the Forsaken, as her own personal Scourge army which she can use for total domination once her forces are powerful enough. But since they aren’t, separating from the Horde at this point would be suicide.

I am also fairly sure that her deceptive ways aren’t ignored by Vol’jin, Thrall, Cairne, or even Lor’themar (though Lor’themar would be the least likely to call her on it due to the weakened blood elf dependence on the Horde at this time). Given the troll superstitions about the undead in general, I’d say that Vol’jin would be the most wary and watchful of Sylvanas’ doings. You could argue, I suppose, that Lor’themar – who has the longer history with her as her former second-in-command in Silvermoon – might see the greater threat due to knowledge of her diligence and desire.

Sylvanas’ complete lack of emotion and concern for the humans or other living beings that she captures as test experiments (which is more than evident in the Arthas: Rise of the Lich King novel) makes her almost as bad – if not worse – than Arthas. Whereas Arthas’ path started with at least a desire to make things better at the moment of his turning down the dark path, Sylvanas has been driven by black revenge from the very beginning. Nothing good can come from that. She’s definitely more evil-aligned than Illidan Stormrage ever was.

The problem I am having is that, if she turns out to be a little evil and thus a killable boss at some point, who would lead the Forsaken after she is gone? The blood elves replaced Kael’thas Sunstrider with Lor’themar Theron pretty easily, but I don’t know who Blizzard could pop down to the Undercity to take control of the Forsaken. Assuming that, even after Arthas’ or Sylvanas’ demise, the undead state could not be cured (for game mechanic reasons), they would still need a leader.

It's not easy being green.

It's not easy being green.

Some of the kind folk in Thunder Bluff asked me if I would accompany them on a supply run to Camp Mojache, Feralas. I tried to find an excuse not to go, but the tauren have a way about them that makes them seem needy. Not needy in a weak way, but in a way that makes you just want to hug them and tell them that it will all be okay. But it never really is, is it?

The centaur haven’t been harassing the transport caravans from Thunder Bluff lately, but you never can tell when one of those wretched centaur has managed to round up a few of his bloodthirsty friends. The tauren requested that I scout ahead for them.

The trip took a couple of weeks. The worst part was probably the lack of any good bathing spots. I am pretty sure we all smelled like jungle gorillas when we finally rolled into Camp Mojache. I was swimming naked in Wildwind Lake before I even bothered to greet anyone.

In spite of the fact that there is the constant threat of attack by gnolls or Grimtotem clan people, the jungle of Feralas is one of the most serene places I have ever been. This is mostly due to the military guidance of Rok Orhan. That is one orc woman to be reckoned with.

It has been warm but not excessively humid. On the occasions where there has been rainfall, it was cool and pleasant.

I have been here now for several days and I’ve been able to get some thinking done. That wasn’t the purpose of my visit (Cairne promised me a hundred gold for assisting) but it has been a welcome by product.

Last night, I completed Rise of the Lich King by Christie Golden. It was a sad occasion because I was enjoying the book so very much. I won’t spoil the book for anyone because I really think that you should run out and get it (or download it on your iPhone), especially if you are into the game’s lore at all.

ArthasCover

The story chronicles Arthas’ life from the age of a young prince all the way up to his current status, the Lich King. Of course, the book doesn’t reveal any major events that we don’t already know about, either from playing Warcraft 3 or from reading the lore on the internet. What the book does do is give us a glimpse into what was going on in the mind of Arthas during all of this. It also allows us to see things unfold from, not just his perspective, but that of Lady Jaina Proudmoore and Sylvanas Windrunner.

I won’t go into more detail because I think you should read it yourself. Is it the best book for a person who knows nothing of Warcraft lore? I honestly cannot say. This is the first book I’ve read so far of Warcraft. But there are many otherwise major characters that are glossed over and who inexplicably appear and disappear – no mention is made about where they came from, why they’re there, and where they go after you never read of them again in the novel. For a current player with some knowledge of lore, this would not be a problem. But I can imagine that it would be a point of frustration and possibly confusion if you’re brand new into it and you have questions. There are a few times that this occurs, but one really frustrating one might be Illidan Stormrage. Out of the blue, he’s introduced into the story towards the end and then … well, his part is over.

Given that the book is about Arthas and not Illidan, it wouldn’t do to spend five chapters on a character that doesn’t have much to do with this particular storyline. So it makes sense that not much time was spent on him. At the same time, a person unfamiliar with the lore would have some gaps to fill.

I do intend to personally go back and start reading the previous Warcraft novels. I wouldn’t mind starting with any authored by Christie Golden. She is not a difficult read. I’d say that anyone over the age ten could enjoy this book. And by that I do not mean to be insulting. I mean to say that this is a very accessible book that even the youngest readers or fans of the game will enjoy.

From a role-playing perspective, this book really made me want to log onto WoW immediately and create a human paladin. Fortunately, I was able to resist! Golden’s vivid descriptions of paladins and their use of the Light were memorable and exciting to read, though they represented only a very small part of the book. There were also mage and death knight descriptions – path of frost was my favorite – but the Light was, well, delightful (I’m sorry).

If you’re doing any role-playing within the game and you need some ideas or inspiration behind your character and his or her motivations, you might be able to find some here – especially if your character is a human, blood elf, or forsaken.

My bottom line: Go buy this book. At the very least, borrow a copy from your local library if they have it available (mine didn’t).

The following is a portion of a scene from the movie Bladerunner:

Holden: You’re in a desert, walking along when –
Leon: What one?
Holden: What?
Leon: What desert?
Holden: Doesn’t matter what desert it is, it’s completely hypothetical.
Leon: Well, how come I’d be there?
Holden: Maybe you’re fed up. Maybe you just wanted to get away from it all. Anyway. You’re in a desert, walking along when you look down and you see a tortoise, Leon. It’s crawling toward you.

I was listening to Stardancer’s piece on the latest episode of Epic Dolls just last night, specifically the part about role-playing your character and having a reason to be in a particular zone other than the fact that the last quest brought you there.

In terms of role-playing, that’s absolutely necessary. Without it, your answer to the question of “What brings you here?” would always be something like:

“Well, I was on a journey to help with the defense of the land when some woman stopped me and asked me to help her get some meat for her pie.”

“Is she a relative of yours?”

“Well, no.”

“So you traveled weeks to get here to the coast in order to catch crabs to make pie for a woman you don’t even know?”

“Seems that way. Oh, but wait, also some guy lost his watch in a house about fifty miles from here. He said it’s surrounded by wolves.”

“A watch?”

“Well, it’s more of a family heirloom.”

“You’re going to risk being eaten by wolves to get a watch for some guy? Where does he live?”

“I’m not sure. I met him on the road.”

“You’re a strange person.”

So, if you’re a role-player, why would you have ended up in whatever zone you’re in? Would your character really have traveled to the other side of the world because he or she cared about some goblins who needed parts to make a racing car? Would your character really swim through murloc-infested waters just so two lovers can make out together in the woods?

Or is it more consistent with your character that he or she might be there because they’ve heard that the coast has the most beautiful beaches in all of Azeroth? Because you’ve heard that the dwarves in the mountains there make the most potent ale? Or is it because you committed a horrible crime in the last area you were in and there is a bounty on your head?

I have my own reasons for seeking vengeance. Arthas murdered my people and turned me into this...monstrosity.

I have my own reasons for seeking vengeance. Arthas murdered my people and turned me into this...monstrosity.

Eventually, we (and by we I mean you) are going to get our chance to take down Arthas. Selfishly, I wish it could be a 5-man instance because I will never have the time or desire to gear up through raiding for the purpose of participating in the 10 or 25-man that will feature Arthas’ demise. But, make no mistake; it’s coming.

And, as you know, there isn’t anybody in the Warcraft universe that wants Arthas more than Sylvanas Windrunner. Sure, there are millions who want him taken down – from beings like Kil’jaeden all the way down to some lowly peasants whose families either became Scourge or were killed by them. Sylvanas burns for revenge and I think it would be a bit of a slap in the face to her if she isn’t directly involved in his tortuous demise. Sylvanas would never give someone a quest to go snap Arthas’ neck. No, she would want to do that with her own cold hands.

The least Blizzard could do is allow for the raid party to get Arthas down to 1% and then, after somehow being delayed, Sylvanas strolls in and shoots an arrow right between the eyes. Or, more likely, she drags him off to Undercity where she can make him suffer before killing him.

What do you think? Will Blizzard shut Sylvanas out of the Arthas raid?

My need to possess you has consumed my soul.

My need to possess you has consumed my soul.

I made a post a few days ago about how Elsinne didn’t have a purpose in the world. She was a young elf wandering the world, enjoying her lonely freedom after the destruction of Silvermoon seven years ago. When I created her name, I thought it was completely original; I did not realize there were other Starsongs in the game. There are a few, but the most interesting one is Velinde Starsong, the night elf sentinel.

Elsinne was the only blood elf Starsong to survive the Scourge invasion, but clearly there are now some very distant night elf Starsongs. What does that mean for Elsinne? Well, this is how I imagine some recent events may have played out.

Elsinne visits Ratchet. Learning her name through a conversation, a goblin tells her that another Starsong was through there some years ago, a night elf, on her way to the Eastern Kingdoms. The night elf called Starsong was looking for someone. Arriving in Booty Bay some time later, Elsinne confirms with Baron Revilgaz, who never forgets a face, that indeed a night elf by the name of Starsong was there. Elsinne learns that Velinde Starsong was searching for assistance with the Scythe of Elune, a powerful artifact that could summon worgen.

Elsinne would not be at all interested in her night elf ancestry, but her hatred of the centaur of Kalimdor has given her an idea. What if she could find out more about what happened to Velinde? What if she could gain access to this scythe? What if she could control the worgen? The vile centaur could be removed from the face of this world forever.

And thus would begin her obsession.

Searching for Velinde, searching for the Scythe, searching for information. I am imagining that this could RP very well, given that there are libraries everywhere. There are many learned scholars all over Azeroth. I know that the quest chain ends with Velinde and the Scythe disappearing, but this gives much for Elsinne to learn and search for. And since this whole Scythe business continues on into Northrend in Grizzly Hills, this could be a long time sorting out!

DreadsteedI was checking out Arren’s latest post over on Through the Eyes of Death today. He discusses the recent announcements about the upcoming changes in patch 3.2, many of which will make leveling 1-70 faster than ever.

I agree with him that most of the reason is that everybody has “been there, done that” and there’s no sense prolonging the pain anymore. People are just trying to get to Northrend content as fast as possible. Nobody cares about how Edwin Van Cleef was screwed by the nobility of Stormwind. Nobody cares why the worgen are in Duskwood or how they got there. In fact, much of vanilla WoW and Burning Crusade has been made moot by Wrath of the Lich King anyway. I think another reason is that Blizzard’s next expansion will include at least ten more levels. We’re talking about having to level grind to 90 and doing most of it in lands that are now pointless. Illidan’s dead – why are we in Outland again?

But I digress, as usual.

I wanted to talk about what it was like when we used to have to walk to school in the snow, uphill, both ways. Arrens mentioned the warlock in his post, which sparked this post of my own because my first class was a warlock. I remember the “good old days”, as it were. Both warlock mount quests were very exciting, but my second epic mount dreadsteed quest was memorable because the chain was so long and it was actually “epic”. At the same time, it was also very frustrating.

When it came down to the instance runs in the end, it was even more difficult because you had to find four other people willing to help you who had no reason to except love for common man. After a couple of weeks of hard work, sweat, crying, contemplations of suicide, and hundreds of gold spent at the auction house, I was finally able to saddle up the dreadsteed.

Back then you weren’t really a warlock if you were level 60 for any length of time and you didn’t have your dreadsteed. You were just a poor warlock impersonator, a wannabe. Getting your dreadsteed was your warlock club card. I suspect that paladins had the same thing going on with their epic mount and perhaps druid with the epic flight form.

Rose-colored glasses? Probably. There is a lot about vanilla WoW that was quite terrible – let’s just be blunt. I remember many quests, as Arrens mentioned, that were just a hassle. You’d run all over creation for a quest that really wasn’t very interesting and, in the end, you ended up with 2000 experience points for your trouble. In the forty minutes it took you to complete the quest you could have made four times that amount of experience just grinding pig men or something.

I think it’s human nature for us to embellish some of our memories, even the ones that maybe don’t deserve embellishing. Or maybe those are the ones that need to be cleaned up the most. I remember the wars that took place between Southshore and Tarren Mill. There was nothing to be gained from that but corpse runs. And sure, I remember when my warlock, after some brutal battleground sessions, was able to finally get the title of Knight. And that was when they were using the rating system; you couldn’t just hoard honor points. Now when you look at the title, it sounds awesome and fear-inspiring. But when you think about the hell you went through to get it, was it really all that fun?

So I think much of the QQing is for nostalgia’s sake. Will a new player have the same amount of appreciation for his brand new flaming dreadsteed as we did years ago? Maybe, maybe not. But the game has evolved now.

Does anyone remember getting up on Saturday morning to watch the Superfriends or Scooby Doo in the 70s? I do. I’d get a giant bowl of plain Cheerios (no fancy stuff back then) and set up camp in front of the television. That was great fun. Would I force my kids to watch an episode of the old Superfriends? Wonder Twin powers activate? That was beyond lame. If I’d had Justice League in 1978 my brain would have probably exploded.

It’s just the evolution of WoW. We remember its past fondly. But comparing vanilla WoW to Wrath of the Lich King is almost exactly like comparing the Superfriends to Justice League.

The night that the bluffwatchers brought Zane Cinderhoof’s corpse back to Thunder Bluff was the second worst night in Elsinne Starsong’s relatively short lifetime.

Zane Cinderhoof was a young tauren carpenter who was responsible for much of the upkeep on Thunder Bluff’s Elder Rise. While Elsinne rested in Elder Rise some months back, recovering from injury, she befriended Zane, who was often nearby making repairs on various tauren structures. The tauren had a strong oral tradition, and Elsinne would be amazed at how much knowledge the young Zane retained.

Zane and his younger brother Iram had recently taken the perilous journey from Mulgore to Desolace to buy a couple of tamed kodo beasts from the goblins. They had taken a couple of bluffwatchers with them for safety, but only at their mother’s insistence. A few hours before reaching their destination, the group was ambushed by a group of centaur.

For her brief seventy-two years of life, centaur were little more than mythical creatures to Elsinne. This was so until she landed on Kalimdor and saw them for the first time. She was horrified by their hateful spite and capacity for brutality as she watched them from safety during her wanderings through the Barrens and Thousand Needles.

These centaur had been exceptionally savage. Attacking the tauren group from behind, they made easy work of the younger Iram Cinderhoof. Barely an adolescent, he was unable to put up much of a fight. The centaur had taken hold of Zane before the bluffwatchers had time to react. There had been six centaur, but they were not able to match the abilities of the two bluffwatchers that remained. Two centaur were killed before the others fled. Iram was no longer recognizable; the inflamed stomping of the centaur had mangled him. Zane had been run through several times with incompetently fashioned spears. Out of dignity, they buried Iram where he was slain.

Elves were often very prejudiced towards others and, after leaving Silvermoon, Elsinne fought very hard to remain free of that elf inclination. She watched the bluffwatchers through tears as they carried Zane’s body to his mother’s door. She listened in anguish as the mother’s cries pierced the night air. Perhaps all of Mulgore heard her.

Elsinne was there when Arthas marched on Quel’Thalas. But she knew that the Lich King’s minions were nothing more than mindless puppets. Elsinne was no fan of the Scourge, but she had no deep seated hatred for them. They were weak, poor souls under the control of an insane human. She could destroy Scourge on sight, but there would be no emotion behind it, just necessity. But these horrible centaur, they did this of their own free will. The rumors of their boundless ferocity were true.

The tears gradually stopped flowing, and suddenly Elsinne felt heavy with heat within her breast. This was the fever of hatred, unadulterated abhorrence that Elsinne had never felt before.

My entry into the online role-playing world started in 1997 with a MUD(multi user dungeon) called Jedimud. It’s very loosely Star Wars themed and I had a fun time playing it for the two years I was involved with it. I had one real-life friend that played and I made two or three in-game friends that later became real-life friends – we lived in the same city. Like modern MMOs, the game had the potential of being a huge time sink. The in-game goals were primarily leveling and, once capped, getting gear. This meant running bosses over and over and over with your guild mates until you got the pieces you needed to move on to the next level (which, like WoW, could take weeks). The game is still up and running, and I do log in every once in a while with my character. Surprisingly, there are still people who play that I remember from twelve years ago.

Not too long after I quit Jedimud, I discovered Everquest. It seemed overwhelming to me at first. Even from the beginning, the game required enormous amounts of time from me and I wasn’t prepared to sit through that while not having any friends to socialize with. Somewhat frustrated, I stopped the online gaming altogether at that point.

Fast forward to late 2003. I don’t know why I did it; it was mostly on a whim. I bought Final Fantasy XI for my PS2. It was immediately enjoyable. I was able to convince a real-life friend that it was an interesting game and she signed up as well. We played the game for a while. I spent an insane amount of time crafting. I spent almost even more time killing things. At least until it became unbearable.

The straw that broke the camels back? Waiting around for five hours trying to get a party together for no reason other than to grind experience. Not to fight a boss battle or for some epic quest. Just level grinding. It was a nightmare. And on those days where you found a good party, you felt obliged to grind with them for hours because who knew when you would ever find a decent group again. And don’t even get me started on leveling down. The person who came up with that idea should have been fed his own eyes. I would quit FFXI early in 2005.

Earlier in 2004, I had tried the World of Warcraft beta, but I hated it. I don’t even remember why, really. I made a human rogue, started questing in Northshire Abbey, and lost interest after about an hour. I went back to FFXI.

Now I was gameless. I had heard of EVE Online so I signed up. I really enjoyed EVE Online for a while but mining for ore became stale after a while and I decided to move on. To this day, however, I will still say that EVE Online has the best MMO community I have ever gamed with.

By this time it was the fall of 2005, World of Warcraft had grown in its popularity. I decided I would try it again. I made a warrior. I hated him. I stopped playing WoW again by the end of September.

But there was something about World of Warcraft that kept calling me. I am not sure what it was (hopefully it was not Kil’jaeden). November rolled around and the voices that had been calling me urged me to try WoW just one more time. Fine.

I rolled a warlock this time and things would never be the same. The powerful claws of WoW pulled me in where I would never escape again. I loved my warlock. I would not play another character for fifteen months. The Burning Crusade came out and, after my warlock hit 70, I decided I’d try another character. Enter the druid – the new love of my life. I liked it even more than my warlock. After level capping the druid, I would play many, many, different characters on many different realms (I still hate warrior). but I never gave the Horde side a chance.

I sit here now, playing with my blood elf Elsinne and loving the game, even as a lowly level 37 rogue. But I wonder now, after four years, how much life World of Warcraft has left. Or how much life do I have left in World of Warcraft? When they raise the level cap to 90 (you know they will do it), will I love those ten levels as much as I did the last? Will it start to wear on me? You know what they say about all good things.

And whether it’s me who leaves WoW in the end or WoW that leaves me, what then? It’s been pretty much my only hobby since 2005. Honestly, when it ends, I don’t think I want to tackle another MMO. I think I might be done with the whole MMO scene after this. It’s not because I think WoW is the pinnacle of perfection, but because I think I’ve honestly had as much fun as one can have in an online video game and I probably need to try some other things in the real world before I die.

female_orc_war_800x600At first I wasn’t going to make this post because it wasn’t really important. In fact, it still isn’t important but I do find it interesting.

WordPress is kind enough to tell you exactly what people are searching on when they end up on your blog. Now by far, most people have stumbled across my blog because they are hunting for the ever-elusive time-lost proto drake that is rumored to float around Storm Peaks occasionally. I spent a good bit of time trying to find this mythical beast myself, but I was never able to and I gave up eventually. But I digress.

Behind the time-lost proto drake, the second most popular search is some combination of orc + female + sex. Sometimes it’s orc + female, sometimes it’s female + orc + sex … you get the picture. This is a surprise to me, not because I have anything against female orcs, but because I would have figured that the average person would have found blood elf females or night elf females, or even hippy draenei females more desirable to search on. But this is simply not the case. Searches for the female orc are considerably more popular than any other race. Why is that?

Is there more orc-girl lust out there than people prefer to admit to? Is it the rippling muscles or the playful yet threatening pony tails? Is it the large teeth? The glistening green skin? I have a few searches for “orc female pictures”. I have no such searches for the other races.

But this post isn’t to make fun of the lady orcs. They’re people, too, and beautiful in their own right.

The next time you are in-game and you meet that sexy female orc in Orgrimmar at the bank, don’t be shy. Walk right up to her and tell her how lovely she’s looking today. She might take your head off, but look at the bright side. If she loves you, she’ll love you for life (and may the Earthmother be with you if you cheat on her).