My World of Warcraft Characters’ Lore: Volume 2

Firstly, thank you everyone for the wonderful feedback on Volume 1! Such positive comments! Feedback of any kind is what motivates me to write more, so without further ado, here is Volume 2. And I promise, I’m all out of Night Elves.


Sisters of Light and Shadow

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In the verdant plains of Nagrand in a village named Telaar, two young draenei sisters played among the fields. The eldest was named Aeonaar, and she was often seen scurrying after her mischievous younger sister, Dionaar. They were too young to know of Argus or of the army of demons hunting their people, but they would learn soon enough.

The sisters were often schooled on the ways of the Light in Telaar, and soon enough the sisters had grown from children into studious young women. Dionaar grew out of her mischievous ways, and despite being the younger of the two sisters, she became the more promising pupil of the Light. She was awestruck by the benevolence and healing properties of the Light, and whilst Aeonaar was no novice, it was Dionaar who advanced through their class in leaps and strides whilst her elder sister struggled to keep up.

As the sisters grew, so too did orcish aggression against their people. The orcs had been corrupted by the Legion in one of their many attempts to break into Azeroth, and as a side effect, the draenei were being hunted in alarmingly high numbers. The sisters quickly found themselves becoming wartime medics, using the Light to heal their injured friends as they stood their ground against the orcs. During these times, Aeonaar found herself motivated by her younger sister’s talent and sheer determination to right the wrongs of the world.

Eventually, an orc by the name of Ner’Zhul would bring catacylsmic destruction to Draenor after ripping the fabric of the world apart too often with his portals. The world buckled, and parts of Nagrand exploded into the sky as the apocalypse wrought its toll on the ancient land. The draenei sisters held each other close as they waited for the end, but after many days and nights, the rumbling stopped. Cautiously, they emerged from their broken village to find that the world as they knew it was gone. The sky had been replaced with the chaotic energies of the Twisting Nether; the seas had fallen away into the abyss; the mountains remained stationary in the air, defying gravity. Draenor was dead. This new land would come to be known as Outland.

Aeonaar despaired, but Dionaar told her that it was a miracle of the Light that life still persisted on this broken shelf. Talbuk still roamed, and Elekk still thundered through the grassy plains. Nevertheless, what remained of Telaar was not safe. Dionaar had received a vision urging them to journey to a region that would come to be known as Zangarmarsh, where Prophet Velen was amassing their people. The sisters rallied as many of the surviving villagers as they could, and began the long journey. They would join with his band and journey with him for many years thereafter. During this time they would make the journey to Shattrath city, and discover the naaru that awaited them there, a being of pure Light which had come to them from the cosmos. Aeonaar was enamoured with the benevolence of this being, and she felt her connection to the Light grow stronger after spending time in its presence. As for Dionaar, she had met a handsome draenei leatherworker named Dalren in Shattrath, and despite her best interests to refrain from becoming distracted from her holy mission, fell completely in love with him.

Eventually, a plan was formed to venture to the Netherstorm and take control of an interdimensional craft named the Exodar, so that they might journey to Azeroth. Aeonaar, Dionaar and Dalren all volunteered to join the expedition, and they reached the Exodar with little opposition. As they assaulted Tempest Keep in order to seize control of the Exodar, however, they met resistence from the blood elves, and a stray arrow struck Dalren in the throat, and felled him.

Aeonaar had never heard her sister scream in such a way. Not even during the destruction of Draenor.

As they boarded the Exodar, the sisters dragged Dalren with them, begging the Light to heal his wounds, to undo the hole in his throat and restore his ability to breathe. As benevolent as the Light was, however, there were limits to its powers, and Dalren had already passed beyond the mortal veil. Aeonaar knew that their attempts were hopeless, but would not give up, for the sake of her sister. Eventually, however, it appeared that there were blood elves on board the Exodar, and that they had sabotaged the ship; Aeonaar’s attention was demanded elsewhere. Dionaar refused to leave Dalren’s side, even as the Exodar shuddered and began hurtling out of control towards Azeroth through the Twisting Nether. Before they crashed, Dionaar’s eyes found the stars, and she found herself fixating on the darkness between them.

When at last they crashed on Azuremyst Isle and began making an account of the survivors, Dionaar was nowhere to be found.

Aeonaar, Lightforged Draenei Holy Priest

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Aeonaar was deeply disturbed by the disappearance of her sister. She wished to search the island, and indeed search parties were sent out to look for her and others. But her expertise with the Light was needed here, to save as many of the injured as she could. It was agonising for her to refrain from joining the search for Dionaar, but she believed in the sanctity of life above all else. She couldn’t allow those around her to perish due to her own selfish needs.

She would never find her sister in those coming months and years. Her grief ran deep, but she never felt that she had erred in her decision to serve the holy Light and heal as many survivors as she could that day. Instead, she dedicated herself to the needs of her people and the peoples of the Alliance, who had provided her people with aid when they needed it most. Over the next decade she followed armies back into Outland to slay the traitor Illidan; she journeyed with them to Northrend to end the threat of the Lich King; she travelled the world as a healer after an all-too familiar cataclysm wrought tragedy across the world; she healed the casualties of the Alliance and, secretly, the Horde during their conflicts in Pandaria. She kept herself busy, all the while keeping an ear to the ground regarding the whereabouts of her sister. After the siege of Orgrimmar, Aeonaar decided to take some time and scour the globe in search of her sister, in an attempt to put her mind at ease once and for all.

She found nothing. If Dionaar was out there, she did not wish to be found.

Aeonaar might have had time to despair, had her people’s hunters not chosen that moment to finally break into Azeroth and launch an all-out invasion. She found herself called back into the line of duty, and as events unfolded she was given the opportunity to march upon Argus, her ancestral homeland, to bring an end to the Legion once and for all.

Many draenei, upon setting hoof on Argus for the first time in their lives or in millennia, found themselves overcome with sorrow. What had once been a jewel of a civilisation had crumbled to ash, to fel rock and hatred. Instead, Aeonaar found hope. The very fact that they were able to land here and take the fight to the Legion was a testament to the determination of the mortal races and their desire to bring peace to the world. Furthermore, they met with the Army of the Light, largely composed of a sect of Lightforged Draenei who were even more attuned to the Light than she and her fellow priests were. And it was with the power of this Light that they were able to fight and to keep their allies fighting, until they finally assaulted the Burning Throne and removed the Legion’s threat once and for all.

After the celebrations, Aeonaar received a summons from High Exarch Turalyon of the Army of the Light. He was looking for new recruits, strong in the ways of the Light, to join his golden army. He explained that the Legion was not the only threat to Azeroth, or to the other worlds of the Great Dark Beyond. The greatest threat was that of the Void, a direct antithesis to the Light that would devour everything in its path until darkness enveloped reality. To fight it, he would need all the help he could get.

During the trial to become Lightforged, a draenei was confronted with their darkest, most personal fears and regrets. In Aeonaar’s trial, Dionaar appeared, blaming her for the death of Dalren and scorning her for not searching the island for her sister before it was too late. Aeonaar nearly withered before her sister’s accusations… but eventually, her rational side won out. She reaffirmed her faith in the Light and its cause, and emerged from her trial changed. Her attunement to the Light was stronger than ever before. She had become Lightforged.

Dionaar, Draenei Shadow Priest

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When the Exodar crashed, Dionaar came to her senses before many others. As she got up, she heard a moaning coming from the far side of the room. Stumbling towards the murmuring, she found a dying engineer. Shaking off her dizziness, Dionaar knelt and did what came naturally to her: she called upon the holy Light to help her heal this injured soul.

The Light did not answer her.

Dalren’s dying face flashed in her mind, and she froze. She’d been unable to save him. Did that mean that the Light had now forsaken her? But that was cruel. She had tried her best. It wasn’t her fault.

Shaken, Dionaar tried once more to heal the dying draenei, pleading the Light to help her, begging it to. But it refused to answer her call. The Light was content to let this innocent person die because it no longer believed in her as a worthy conduit.

Years of learning from the Light, of putting faith in it and revelling in its benevolence, died then and there. Dionaar would never wield the Light again. She stormed from the Exodar and did not return.

What she did not know, would never know, was that the Light knew her faith had been shaken when her lover had died in her arms. It had denied her call in order to test her, to see if she would do anything to help the dying draenei on her own. When she did not, the Light decided she was lost, and roused another nearby priest so that they may help instead.

Dionaar fled to the edge of Azuremyst Isle and found an abandoned rowboat which she used to reach Darkshore. Knowing nothing of Azeroth, Dionaar was frightened to be alone in this alien land, but knew that she couldn’t face her sister or her people again, not after the Light had forsaken her. She forged a crude dagger and hunted herself a rabbit for food. She slept beneath the stars that night, plagued by memories of Dalren dying in her arms, waking up intermittently. Once, she awoke to the clear sky and found herself gazing into the void between stars, finding beauty for the first time in the darkness. She remembered the energies of the Twisting Nether in the skies back home, how they’d frightened her. It seemed foolish now. There was a beauty in that chaos. She’d simply been too afraid of a life without the Light to dare think it.

The next morning, she awoke to an ambush. Two figures, tall and with long ears and pale blue skin, assaulted her with blasts of holy Light. Alarmed, Dionaar swept up her hunting dagger, dodged the blasts of Light and threw it in desperation. It found the throat of one of the creatures. The other wailed, and fled into the early morning mists.

Dionaar had been assaulted by a pair of night elf priests who knew nothing of the draenei as a race, but had fought the demonic eredar in the third war, the draenei of Argus that had become demons. Dionaar knew nothing of this. She just knew that she’d been assaulted by a pair of native creatures wielding the holy Light against her. For the first time, it crossed her mind that the Light may not be entirely benevolent after all, if it was sending people to assassinate her. Flinching at the sight of the dagger in the night elf’s throat – her first kill – she retrieved her makeshift weapon and dried it off, before turning and heading south.

Eventually, Dionaar came across a roaming band of people of many races. They wore purple robes and introduced themselves as the Twilight’s Hammer, a group of people who wanted to make the world a better place using forbidden magics. A week ago, Dionaar would have turned her nose up at them, but since crash landing on Azeroth, her view of the Light had been changed somewhat. The prospect of wielding forbidden powers – perhaps more powerful than the Light – to do good was a path that seemed fitting for her. After some reluctance and much thought, she agreed to be tutored in the ways of shadow magic.

Over the next few years, Dionaar would slowly be converted into a willing participant of the Twilight’s Hammer cult. After years of a subtle warping of her mind, she grew to believe that the Hour of Twilight would indeed be a desirable outcome. No more life, no more love, no more grief. The Twilight’s Hammer took hold of her grief and expanded it, exaggerated it, turning Dalren from a lover into her sole reason to be, something the Light had wrenched from her. She would have continued down this dark path had she not run into her sister.

Aeonaar was in Loch Modan, seeing to the wounds of some warriors who had just clashed with Twilight’s Hammer cultists. Dionaar’s orders were to destroy this retreating band of fighters, and at this point, she had no objection – after all, before long all life was going to be eradicated. She didn’t know her sister was amongst them. But as she crested the ridge, she saw Aeonaar gazing down at the soldier she was healing. A look of intense care was on her face, a benevolence shattered when she looked up in alarm. Surveying the fighters, Aeonaar stared right at Dionaar.

Due to Dionaar’s Twilight robes and concealing hood, her sister didn’t even recognise her.

In that moment it was like a spell had broken in Dionaar’s mind. In a literal sense, the Twilight’s Hammer had been magically altering her perceptions and her way of thinking, and this had now been undone by the surge of love Dionaar felt for her sister. In another sense, Dionaar herself now realised that she’d been a fool. She immediately turned on her band and asphyxiated them with shadow magic. Taken unawares, they couldn’t do anything but struggle feebly as they suffocated.

When Dionaar had dealt with the cultists, she turned to her sister, only to find that she had fled. Dionaar didn’t think it wise to follow.

Over the next few years, Dionaar would travel alone and help the Alliance from the shadows, saving lives with her forbidden magic in a much less direct way than she used to, when she could wield the Light. Perhaps she could never make amends for what she’d done, but she could at least bring some good into the world before she would inevitably be captured and executed for her past crimes. She felt like this was a fate she deserved, and resolved not to fight against her captors were it to ever happen.

When events on Argus reached their peak and Alleria Windrunner embraced void magic, however, those who used forbidden magics came to be seen as antiheroes more than criminals. After some consideration, a lonely Dionaar gingerly crept into the capital of Stormwind and sought out the new void elves of the Alliance. With them, she found a place in which she could control her powers and be accepted for who she truly was. It was the first time she’d felt at peace with herself since leaving Outland.

Author’s notes: The story of Aeonaar and Dionaar is a little more fleshed out and extensive than most of my other characters, so I felt the need to do something a little different for their story. This is why their story begins not as a focus on one character or the other, but as their journey as sisters.

Coming next: Various heroes of the Alliance

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My World of Warcraft Characters’ Lore: Volume 1

Firstly, I’d like to apologise for the lack of blog posts from me lately! I’ve been concentrating my creative energies elsewhere. I can’t promise that this is going to change anytime soon, but in the meantime I do have quite a hefty creative post for you part one of many, and whether you enjoy World of Warcraft or not, I’m hoping it’ll be interesting to you.

I don’t RP much in World of Warcraft (although I’d like to), but I do like to give my characters a bit of backstory to motivate them through the game’s questing. All of this stuff is typically in my head though, except for a couple of times where I’ve tried to write short stories from their perspective. Turns out, writing inside someone else’s world is more difficult than creating your own. Anyway, without further ado:


The Night Elf Brothers

Kritigri, Night Elf Balance Druid

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Born shortly before the War of the Ancients, Kritigri had the unfortunate experience of watching the horrors of the war unfold during his adolescent years, ending with the Sundering of the world. Experiencing such devastation was not easy on Kritigri, and he spent many years after meditating in the wilds to try to come to terms with the amount of death and destruction that had torn apart his homeland. During the war, his younger brother Virizard had been captured by demons, and dragged back through one of their portals, never to be seen again – this had also taken its toll on Kritigri’s mental wellbeing. But after many years communing with nature and observing the regrowth of the wilds, Kritigri became inspired by the resilience of nature and pledged himself to the path of druidism. He sought out a mentor and spent many years learning to become a druid, and then worked with them for centuries in the Emerald Dream.

Shortly after the fall of the Lich King, the Emerald Nightmare grew alarmingly in strength, trapping the druids within it until they were freed by Tyrande. Kritigri awoke to a changed Azeroth. The Night Elves had formed a new civilisation named Darnassus in the boughs of a new world tree, Teldrassil, and had entered into an Alliance with a collection of younger races. Kritigri knew some of this from what his druidic peers had told him as they had entered and left the Emerald Dream, but this was the first time he had personally emerged from the dream in centuries. Oftentimes, he found it easier to work in the dream than to walk the imperfect waking world, but he could afford to dream no longer. A cataclysm was coming, one that would shatter the world anew and remind Kritigri afresh of the horrors he’d witnessed during his youth. During this troublesome time, he would vow to himself to never turn his back on the troubles of Azeroth again – as he had during the third war – and would, in time, become a venerated hero of the Alliance.

Writer’s notes: Kritigri is my main character in World of Warcraft, and therefore I’ve always considered his story to match that of the general player character quite closely. He’d save Mount Hyjal, stop Deathwing, fight the Horde on the beaches of Pandaria, etc. But writing this backstory up gave me an opportunity to give him a more unique personality to carry through those Blizzard-crafted storylines.

Tolidar, Night Elf Arcane Mage

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A mere child during the Sundering of the world, Tolidar’s early life saw much upheaval. His family were grieving over the loss of his older brother, Virizard, and his eldest brother Kritigri was growing more aloof by the day, wandering the forests of the newly broken world whenever he had the opportunity. Kritigri’s love for nature soured Tolidar’s own opinion of the wild lands, and almost spitefully he opted to remain indoors, spending most of his reclusive adolescent-hood in the family library. It was here that he discovered books relating the arcane magics and how to wield them, and before long he was experimenting with them, conjuring food for mealtimes, and generally showing off to his brothers.

It was around this time that Malfurion Stormrage outlawed the use of arcane magic.

A furious argument broke out between Tolidar and Kritigri. Tolidar argued that his use of the arcane was harmless, and that Kritigri’s amateur druidic powers were no different to his arcane ones. Kritigri tried to convince Tolidar to stop his errant ways, now punishable by death, as it was that kind of thinking that had drawn the Legion to Azeroth. In Tolidar’s eyes, however, Kritigri had become too much of a druid to see what this new law was doing to his younger brother – that it was taking away the only thing that gave him reason to be – and the argument ended with Tolidar storming from the household and going to live in recluse, where he would practice his arcane arts in private. He briefly considered joining the Highborne in Eldre’Thalas, but the betrayal of Queen Azshara was too abhorrent in his mind to be associated with even this other sect of Highborne. He had not forgotten the Legion’s assault of Azeroth, or the kidnapping of his brother.

Thousands of years later, Tolidar’s life changed wildly once again. The Cataclysm had erupted into Azeroth, and Malfurion had awoken from the Emerald Dream – along with Tolidar’s eldest brother, no less – and declared that the Highborne mages deserved another chance. For a time, Tolidar rebelled against this notion, but thousands of years in recluse had made him quite lonely, and after ages of trying to hide what he truly was, the prospect of being a part of something was too good to resist. Gingerly, Tolidar approached the mages and asked if he could join them in their sorcerous ways, but after a swift examination they declared that his magic was nowhere near refined enough, and that to temper his magic he must make better use of it. Years of stifling his arcane abilities had rendered them weak and rough, and should he wish to join them, he should help the Alliance in ridding the world of the cataclysmic threats and prove to them that the Highborne deserved this second chance, all the while honing his arcane talents. Reluctantly, he agreed. Over the coming years, he would find that he had a place among the races of the Alliance more than he ever had within his own people. Rather than returning to the Highborne, Tolidar opted to take up residence in Dalaran.

Writer’s notes: Tolidar required a bit more explanation as he’s a Night Elf Mage, but not a Highborne. Originally, he had no characteristics at all, and was simply a character I’d made to use my Warlords of Draenor pre-order boost on. But after making a Night Elf Mage named Tolidar on an RP realm who was struggling to enter an academy of magic, I realised that a similar story could be applied to my regular mage. This is my first time reconciling that RP character’s story with my boosted mage’s.

Jerrek, Night Elf Beastmaster Hunter

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The youngest child of four and born after the War of the Ancients, Jerrek did not suffer as his older siblings did. He did not witness the Sundering of the world and did not meet Virizard, the second eldest of his siblings who was abducted by the Burning Legion. Growing up in the aftermath of events he had never witnessed, he often felt like he didn’t have a part to play in shaping the world, like he didn’t fit in. As a result he was a quiet child, and while Kritigri was meditative and Tolidar was reclusive, both were at least talkatative when they were together, or argumentative later on. Jerrek simply observed.

One day, after a particularly explosive argument between Kritigri and Tolidar regarding the use of arcane magics, Tolidar stormed out of the house, claiming that he would never return. After some time, Kritigri left to meditate in the wilds, and Jerrek spoke up, asking if he could tag along. Seeing the opportunity to share his love for the wilds with his brother, Kritigri accepted. But while Kritigri rambled on and on about the types of plants and their roles within the ecosystem, Jerrek’s mind kept wandering. He enjoyed the atmosphere of the wilds, but didn’t find himself feeling any particular affinity with the flora around him. They were just… plants. What he did pay attention to, however, were the beasts that stalked the wilds around them. Jerrek had always had a way with animals, perhaps due to his quiet nature. Eventually, he began making his own expeditions into the wilds, where he would befriend the wildlife he found there.

Eventually Kritigri departed to learn the ways of druidism, and Tolidar didn’t seem to be returning either. Feeling isolated and a little abandoned, Jerrek turned to the Night Elven military to try and fill the gap his family had left in his life, hoping that as part of an army he might rise through the ranks and eventually make his mark on the world. Jerrek proved to have an innate talent for the bow, perhaps honed from his days hunting down food after Tolidar had departed. He also brought his prize falcon Wyllum with him to track and blind enemies in the field. Over the years, he would befriend many more animal companions that he could call upon in the field of battle.

Writer’s notes: Jerrek’s name in-game is actually Kritimal, a play on my username to include the word ‘animal’. This, of course, would not make sense in the lore, so I had to invent a new name for him. I believe Jerrek fits the bill. He is also my original PvP focused character, so I decided to include a military background for him.

Virizard, Night Elf Havoc Demon Hunter

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During the War of the Ancients, Virizard and his brothers came across a village that was beset by demons. Kritigri and Tolidar wanted to flee, run to the nearest band of Kaldorei troops and tell them that the villagers were being attacked. Virizard stood frozen, watching a young Night Elf child being eaten by a Felstalker while she was still alive. Her arms clawed feebly at the ground. No Night Elf regiment would be fast enough to save her, or her sister, who was frozen in horror some steps away.

Virizard told his brothers to run and get help, before turning to dash towards the village. He had no weapons or combat training. He didn’t know what he was going to do. He just had to try and help in any way that he could. On his way to save the frightened girl, however, a looming Felguard appeared, grinning down at him. It struck him over the back of the head, rendering him unconscious, before dragging him back to one of the Legion’s many conquered worlds through a dark green portal. It was the last his brothers ever saw of him.

Unfortunately, his story did not end there.

Virizard awoke in a cage barely large enough to contain him. When his eyes regained their focus and he cast his eyes around him, he initially feared that the fel-scarred world he was looking at was Azeroth. His fears were assuaged – and then replaced with larger ones – when he looked to the sky, only to see the Twisting Nether’s raging energies in place of Azeroth’s skies. The Legion had captured him, and many other elves, in order to fuel their soul machines. An eyeless Inquisitor gleefully informed them that they were being held on reserve until they were needed.

After some time, the attitude of the demons changed. They had lost the War of the Ancients, and failed to break through to Azeroth. They turned their rage on the prisoners, killing many, and torturing others. Virizard himself was tortured for many miserable years. Eventually his mind broke, and he became a gibbering mess along with many of the other Kaldorei prisoners. Finding no fun in torturing mindless husks, the demons turned their attentions elsewhere.

When a raid led by the Army of the Light appeared and emancipated Virizard and the other prisoners from their chains, Virizard’s broken mind believed it to be a trick. He fought against the Lightforged Draenei, who appeared to be a new breed of Eredar demon trying to abduct him. The Draenei subdued most of the prisoners, but Virizard managed to evade them, fleeing into the demonic wastes. He soon found a series of demon portals through which he hopped, from world to world, slowly regathering his senses until he regained his a portion of his sanity. How he evaded demonic discovery or capture during that time must be put down to pure chance.

There was no telling how much time had passed since he had been captured, nor how many years he spent hopping between worlds. When Virizard eventually realised what he’d done in fleeing the Army of the Light, he almost lost himself to madness once more. Instead, he turned to his dread into rage, and vowed to hunt the demons to extermination. Just how he’d do this remained to be seen. For now, he continued travelling between broken worlds, forging weapons out of whatever materials he could find, occasionally slaying some lesser demons or disrupting their forces.

Eventually, Virizard happened across a portal leading to Outland, and immediately he stopped. Throughout the years, he’d travelled across many scorched, dead lands. This one still had some life left in it, despite the fact that it existed in the Twisting Nether. For the first time in what may have been centuries, Virizard was able to feed himself on the meat of a living creature, as opposed to whatever fungal or lichen growth he could find left clinging to a fel-scarred rock. Furthermore, this realm harboured civilisations of people who weren’t demons. This was incredible.

Eventually, Virizard heard word of Illidan Stormrage, and his army of Demon Hunters at the Black Temple. Enamoured by the prospect of seeing his own people again – of seeing people who hunted demons with the same vengeance as he – Virizard made his way to Shadowmoon Valley, confronting the army and demanding to be given a chance of joining. The Demon Hunters accepted his request, but with a warning – each of them had a demon inside of them, and the process killed more than it transformed. Virizard wasn’t phased. He’d seen more than his fair share of torment in his life. This would be no worse.

He was wrong.

When at last he emerged from his agonising transformation, he accepted his warglaives with pride. Never again would he be helpless against the Legion’s cruelties. It mattered not to him that he would never lead a normal life on Azeroth again. After millennia of torture, he’d even forgotten his coward brothers’ names…

Writer’s note: Out of all my characters, this might be the one that feels the most like edgy fanfiction. But I feel like that’s all in the spirit of what a Demon Hunter is. Edgy felves coming to angst you up.

Stalward, Night Elf Frost Death Knight

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The druid Kritigri didn’t come out of the Emerald Dream until the encroachment of the Nightmare forced him to. These are the way events took place in our timeline. But in another, he was convinced to exit the dream to defend Mount Hyjal against Archimonde’s attacks, and from then onwards he remained outside the dream. Some years after defeating Archimonde and joining with the Alliance, Kritigri joined a Stormwind expedition into Northrend to end the Lich King’s necromantic horrors forever. Kritigri saw undeath as a plague upon nature, and stood side by side with other champions as they invaded Northrend.

Kritigri died on the shores of Borean Tundra.

Some time later, Kritigri felt himself stirring. Ice coursed through his veins, and he awoke in the belly of Acherus, one of the Lich King’s floating necropolis fortresses. The Lich King’s voice echoed in his mind, telling him to make himself useful, to grab a weapon and join the other Death Knights in an assault on the Scarlet Enclave. Eager to obey, Kritigri tested his attunement to nature, and found that he was no longer able to call upon the wilds as he once had. Some deep part of him stirred in unease, but he shrugged it off and instead picked up a pair of swords. These would work just as well.

Kritigri descended upon the Scarlet Enclave, slaughtering villagers and delivering the Lich King’s will to the fools who tried to wield the light against him. He rode alongside Darion Mograine as they assaulted Light’s Hope Chapel, and fought against the light-crazed forces inside. He slew…. he slew…

The Lich King’s will abandoned him and all at once, he felt stained by the blood on his hands.

Mograine declared that they would stand against the Lich King as Knights of the Ebon Blade, and Kritigri knew that this was the only way he could possibly begin to make amends for what he had done. But still, the call of nature eluded him. Still, he wielded his swords with a deathly, necromantic power. These were the powers with which he had to fight, and now when he touched a leaf, it withered before his eyes.

So be it. He was Kritigri no longer. Kritigri had died on the shores of Borean Tundra. He was a new entity, forever changed by his raising into undeath. Kritigri took on the name Stalward, and made sure to always wear heavy armour in public so as to never be recognised by his brothers. They would surely be devastated were they to ever learn what had become of him.

Writer’s note: I was originally going to try and find a way to bring Stalward into the main timeline using the Infinite Dragonflight or the Bronze Dragonflight or something, but found that I couldn’t do this without taking liberties with the lore and turning from roleplay into outright fanfiction, which isn’t something I wish to do. Therefore, the world Stalward exists in remains the same as the regular one except the druid Kritigri does not exist. I chose to make Stalward my druid’s alternate self because I couldn’t pass up the cool factor of having a what-if Death Knight version of my main. Also, the Alliance expedition into Northrend is not the one that takes place at the beginning of WOTLK (as the Ebon Blade plot had already happened by then) but is one that takes place beforehand.

Coming next: Sisters of Light and Shadow, and Miscellaneous Heroes of the Alliance

World of Warcraft as a Single Player Game

BlizzCon is fast approaching, and it seems highly likely that Blizzard are about to announce the eighth expansion to their almost thirteen year old MMO. The game is old enough that it’s possible for couples to have met in Azeroth and had a child by now who could raid the Tomb of Sargeras with them. And yet, with Legion being the most popular expansion since Wrath of the Lich King, development shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. But all good things must come to an end, and WoW’s end – be it a year or a decade from now – is as inevitable as the sun blinking out forever someday.

The end of WoW is a possibility that’s surely never far from player’s minds, especially those who live and breathe for their Azerothian alter egos. I know people who have max level characters across every class, who throw themselves into raids every week and have sunk tens of thousands of hours into the game. And I’m no part-timer myself. So the prospect of interest in the game dwindling enough to lead to servers closing down is cause for worry and speculation, especially as the game shows more and more signs of aging. Sure, they continue to graphically update the game and introduce new mechanics, but some things can’t be fixed in an expansion. World of Warcraft will always be limited to the foundations the game was built on, which in itself is a bastardisation of the Warcraft 3 game engine, as far as I understand it.

The way I see it, though, it’s no cause for worry. As the MMO as a genre grows older its interesting to see the various ways in which some of the games stay alive after their discontinuation. Many close down for good. Some, like Everquest and Guild Wars, move onto sequels whilst keeping the original game alive with a smaller development team for those dedicated few. In Runescape’s case, Jagex came to realised that the game had transformed so much that they needed to bring back an older edition as a separate game to keep a portion of their audience happy. But some games, like Wurm Online and The Secret World, have opted to modify the game to become available for offline play.

Now, Wurm Online is still going, but the developers opted to create an edition called Wurm Unlimited that’s purchasable on Steam for players who want to run their own servers or play by themselves with customisable rulesets, such as changing the amount of time it takes to harvest a resource. And while I haven’t played it myself, PC Gamer’s Secret World: Legends review portrays the game’s move to single-player as being a slightly awkward but somewhat successful shift, concluding that “The more that you want to play it as an MMO, the more you’re likely to chafe at this reboot’s restrictions, especially in terms of loot. For more solo or narrative-focused players, however, it’s a great second chance to see what it has to offer, as well as the Secret World’s best chance in years to expand its reach and continue telling its story.”

MMO’s aren’t, as a rule, built to be played offline. World of Warcraft especially stands out as an MMO that has enjoyed iteration upon iteration within its lifetime, and most recently has gained functions in the world that encourages and requires player co-operation, such as particular world quest bosses and rare mobs. This, I think, would be the biggest issue in turning World of Warcraft into a single-player experience. As for dungeons and raids… well, just because the game isn’t an MMO doesn’t mean it has to be single-player entirely. I can’t picture Blizzard being comfortable with handing the reigns of server administration and hosting over to players such as with Wurm Unlimited. However, I can see them dedicating some server space for hosting online parties to go dungeon delving or raiding, though I can’t guess as to how much demand there’d be for raiding in a static world.

As for the gameplay side of things, I don’t think WoW would prosper as a single-player game if it were transformed in the state it’s in today. The entire world’s questing and story was overhauled back in Cataclysm, but the time period between the Cataclysm overhaul and now is greater than between the original game and Cataclysm. Blizzard recently reviewed the 1-40 levelling experience and re-balanced the amount of damage it takes to kill enemies, as low level players were wiping the floor with bosses without so much as a second thought. There’s still a lot of work to be done though, and with each patch and expansion the cohesion of the overall game slips more and more in favour of the last ten levels being the sole focus of enjoyable content. You typically won’t find any challenging or gripping content gameplay-wise until you’re playing through the most recent expansion, and that’s hundreds of hours of dedication which most players aren’t going to be willing to dedicate.

All hope is not lost, though. Talk among the WoW playerbase seems to be mostly unanimous on the front of the old levelling experience needing a new touch of paint, and with the new level-scaling system and world questing system, there’s a decent chance that Azeroth is going to get the modernisation it needs to bring it up to speed with the modern day expansions. Blizzard themselves have acknowledged the need for this in Q&A’s, so I’m definitely interested to see what’s in store as BlizzCon approaches. But while I hope that this update would lay the groundwork for a single-player World of Warcraft, I hope even more that the day when it’s needed is still far in the future. And besides, I’m sure that when Blizzard does finally call it a day for WoW or releases a sequel, they’ll keep the servers for the original game up for many years afterwards.

My Decade-Long WoW History

World of Warcraft has easily become my most-played game of all time, and I’m probably safe in assuming that the all-time part is gonna stick. Due to this, when a recent reddit thread popped up asking people of their earliest WoW memories, I decided to recount just where this potentially unhealthy obsession all began.

When I was twelve my Dad bought me the Burning Crusade + Vanilla WoW BattleChest. He knew I played Runescape and thought I’d like this… though I’m not sure if he was aware of the monthly subscription fee. After being unable to download it on our family PC I gave up on it and spent a few months reading the game guides instead.

Eventually on some random day I decided to try the download again, this time with the WoW website open. According to my placebo-addled mind this made it work, and I promptly jumped in with the gametime provided and made a human warrior to get a feel for the world before I chose my real race/class combo. After making it to Goldshire I decided to reroll as a Night Elf Druid, as I’d seen people running around as bears and cats and wanted to be able to do that. Shapeshifting was clearly the coolest ability in the game, in the mind of a twelve-year old. And that’s how… I can’t say it with a straight face… that’s how the Druid Shadowmadman was born.

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I’ve lost my original screenshots but luckily I made video slideshows of them that still exist on Youtube! Link’s at the bottom of this post, if you’re interested. It’s *very* 2008.

Over the course of the next few months I joined a guild called Dynasty Warriors (EU Karazhan), and ran around in Elwynn Forest and Westfall killing mobs and ignoring quests. I distinctly remember my guildies poking fun at me for levelling as slowly as I did. Oftentimes, I’d just hang out in Goldshire or travel across the world, dodging (often unsuccessfully) between mobs to make it to strange and hostile territories. I think I made it to Durotar once. Other naive noobish memories of this time period I have include running around Elwynn trying to figure out how to level woodcutting (not a skill), and leaving Dynasty Warriors to start my own guild (an edgily named Shadows of Destiny) which attracted many clueless players as low a level as their Guild Leader.

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That message of the day is inspiring.

After about twenty levels of pissing around I was distracted by the ever-present call of Runescape, and that was that. I neglected to tell my Dad that I no longer played the game so he payed for about five months of WoW for no reason (sorry Dad) and I considered my WoW days to be behind me. But eventually – and I don’t remember quite how I came to learn about this – I discovered the existence of private servers for the game, allowing you to play for free (and against Blizzard’s wishes). I promptly hopped into an instant-level-70 server and began exploring Burning Crusade’s Outland on a pimped-out version of my Night Elf Druid. Over these next few months I’d spend many hours hopping between different servers as they got shut down or failed to work, from fast-levelling servers to “Blizzlike” servers. I vaguely recall seeing the Wrath of the Lich King loading screen for the first time, so around then must have been when I stopped playing private servers.

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I didn’t earn this.

I even figured out how to set up my own private server for personal use, so as to mess around with GM commands. I recall turning myself into a giant, switching models to various boss NPCs in the game, teleporting to an undeveloped Emerald Dream and making NPC’s say weird and wonderful things. Looking back, this kind of experimentation was experienced by very few players, and I’m lucky that my bored teenage self took the time to bother figuring it out. Current me doesn’t remember a single step of the process. All I know is that I couldn’t get mobs to spawn or quests to work, so the single-player WoW I dreamed of never came to fruition. And besides, it felt astoundingly lonely in an empty Azeroth.

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GM’s had access to a spell called “Hand of Death” which “Instantly kills all enemies.” Whatever resisted this, it was stronger than a GM.

What followed was the largest gap in my WoW history. I remember when Cataclysm was announced, and I was angry that they’d ruined Loch Modan. I remember hearing somewhere that Mists of Pandaria had been announced, and stating that the game was losing direction and probably on its way out. And then I stopped paying attention altogether. For all I knew, we could be 9 expansions deep by the time I next focused on it.

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You know what they say about people with big feet…

In 2013 I became a uni student, and it only took a few months of having my own income and a new laptop before putting two and two together and re-considering World of Warcraft. I poked my friend Reece about trying the level 20 trial, to which he said he’d already done it on a Night Elf Druid. (We make very similar decisions sometimes.) Regardless, the idea of returning to WoW with one of my closest friends meant that I didn’t keep to the Starter Edition all that long, and before I knew it I was shooting past level 20, joining a guild and diving deeper into WoW than ever before. This was near the start of 5.4 (the last patch of Mists), and it’s worth noting that I levelled my first ever character from 1 – 90 and still had time to get bored of the endgame content. I don’t know how long-time players survived the content drought.

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I bought the Fey Dragon after a student loan payment. Can’t say I’ve ridden that thing more than 6 times. What an investment!

Since then, I’ve levelled 9 out of 12 classes to level 100+ and have sunk literally thousands of hours into the game. I’ve been a part of four wonderful guilds and have met a plethora of new friends. I’ve become an on-and-off-again kind of player – usually a few months on and a few months off – but I still spend time goofing off, pursuing alternate avenues of gameplay and generally falling behind on my ilvl after I’ve consumed all of the narrative content that a patch provides. I’m starting to think I’m in this to the end.

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I’ve come a long way.

If they announce WoW 2, I’m fucked.

Screenshots Slideshow 1

Screenshots Slideshow 2

Screenshots Slideshow 3

Screenshots Slideshow 4 (The Series Reboot)

Player Owned Housing

So I don’t know about you, but I personally have always been a fan of the Player Owned Housing systems typically found in MMOs and RPGs. The idea of having your own personal space which can be decorated with your heroic endeavours (or plain old furniture) has always been charming to me, and with the release of ESO’s Homestead update which adds (surprise surprise) Player Owned Housing, I thought I’d look back on some of my favourite versions of this feature in gaming.

To begin with, though, I’ll add that I’ve barely scratched the surface of ESO’s Homestead update. As a poor, lowly level 30ish character, I don’t feel the pull to immediately go home hunting, knowing in my heart that I won’t be able to afford much more than the free inn room that the opening quest awards you. I have a clip of my reaction upon entering my “House” for the first time, though:

Cosy.

Before moving on from the topic of ESO, I will add that what I have seen of the furnishing system looks very well done and fleshed out. It’s not grid or tile based; nor is it a simple options menu that allows you to select what you put in your house, but not where, as was the case in Skyrim (and Runescape, incidentally, discussed below). ESO’s furnishing system allows full free to place your furniture and collections anywhere. And, er, I mean anywhere.

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It has idle animations, too. The breathing wallhorse is a sight to behold.

So anyway, my first real housing system was in Runescape, and it comes in the form of one of its many skills, Construction. Any Runescape player that isn’t a billionaire will happily tell you how much of a bitch Construction is to train, as it’s one of the most expensive skills in the game. Obviously you have to buy your plot of land, and then each room costs money too – a pittance, really, but to a low-levelled player with little money, it’s a fair gold sink. You also have to pay to upgrade the size of your land, to allow for expansion. The real money sink, however, comes in the form of planks, which you need to build the majority of your furniture. Planks cannot be made by the player. The player must take logs to the sawmill and pay 500gp each to have them made into planks, a cost which adds up alarmingly quickly given how many planks you’ll be needing.

Besides this, however, the housing system is great… though on second thoughts, I may be looking at it through rose-tinted glasses, seeing as room furnishing layouts are unchangeable, you can simply construct different tiers of furniture within the highlighted spaces. Regardless, it’s still a satisfying feeling to upgrade your wonky, uncomfortable parlour chairs into cushioned seats, and to add more functionality to your kitchen as you go along. My favourite part about Runescape’s housing system was always the player-run house parties you could attend back in the day. I don’t know if anyone still bothers with them, but last time I checked, the house party world was devoid of, erm, parties. That being said, they may have all moved to Prifdinnas, a high level area I’m yet to unlock.

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Here’s my attempt at capturing the entire downstairs of my house. Yes, it’s wonky shaped. Can’t be helped!
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And here’s the upstairs. Bit less filled out, working on it!

Another one of my favourite housing systems belongs in Skyrim, though there are two types of houses in that game. The first one that shipped with the vanilla game consists of you unlocking the ability to buy a house, buying the house, and then buying each room from the steward to become fully furnished. Quite basic, but functional, and homely enough to enjoy living in. Plus, the cost was well-tailored to make it obtainable, whilst maintaining the satisfaction of making a hefty purchase to secure your own home.

The second version launched with the Hearthfire DLC, and allows you to build a house from scratch, adding from a choice of different wings as your house expanded. Much like Runescape though, you didn’t choose your furniture so much as unlock it. This is perhaps a little more forgiveable given that it’s a single player RPG, and players are therefore unlikely to think of making their home unique a priority. It’s a good place to store the wife and kids, anyway. And speaking of storage, houses in Skyrim acted as a sort of bank, in that they contained safe chests for you to store all your dragon bones and cheesewheels in.

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I always liked this screenshot of my house.

Player Owned Housing is a system that has been requested in World of Warcraft for many years now. In fact, one gate at the end of the Stormwind Canals had an inaccessible instance portal which the devs later admitted was going to lead into player housing. However, they said they’d only ever add it to the game if it had a function other than the novelty of owning a house. Player owned housing is still an often requested feature, but what many players don’t realise is that the Garrisons of Warlords of Draenor was a take on that concept. Players were given their own garrison which only they could enter, and it provided many in-game purposes regarding quest lines, professions, and conveniences such as accessing your bank and various vendors. Garrisons are retrospectively viewed as one of the worst ideas in the WoW, as they removed the multiplayer aspect by giving players too much accessibility in their private garrisons, and the mobile type gameplay of the mission tables one used to govern their garrison followers ensured that the player didn’t even have to complete dungeon or raiding content to get the best gear.

What players don’t realise – or seem to have forgotten – was the initial success of the Garrisons system, before it became apparent that they were going to lead into the death of gameplay. For the first time in Warcraft history, players had their own space in-game that they could customise (albeit to a very limited degree) and make their own. I remember reddit flooding with positive feedback about the system for a good month, and I myself was delighted with having my own base of operations. This, of course, didn’t last, and I soon despise my garrison as much as everyone else. Now we’re in Legion, however, I’ll admit that it’s not so bad when revisiting Warlords of Draenor’s content, although the lack of any cosmetic customisability is disappointing.

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Disregard the fact that my spellbook is open. This is totally not a salvaged screenshot of the only picture I have of my garrison on my hard drive. LOOK I’M NOT SUBSCRIBED RIGHT NOW OKAY

There were, of course, plenty of other games that allowed you the ownership and customisation of your own house. An old web game I used to play called Gaia Online is still around:

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I’m surprised this is still around.

I remember trying out Everquest 2 specifically for the player housing:

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Picture taken on my old, dying laptop, hence the horrible graphics quality.

And of course, the most cutting edge player housing of them all:

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Club Penguin, home of accidental intimidation.

All in all, there are plenty of games which give you your own house to dick around in, and I’m always drawn to the objective of owning my own place. Maybe it’s what drew me to Minecraft and Animal Crossing. Well, in the meantime, here’s another goofy EQ2 screenshot:

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Welcome to Jackass.

World of Warcraft: Legion (The Levelling Experience)

Well it’s finally fricken here and it’s so brilliant that I’m going to have to restrain myself from gushing about it for the next few hundred words. I’d hoped to reach level 110 before writing this blog post but as I type these words, I’m currently sitting in The Dreamgrove at a very disappointing level 109 and a half, with only half of Stormheim left to do.

The class order halls were probably one of my personally most anticipated features of the expansion, and I’m still yet to explore any of the classes outside of my main, my druid. But as far as the druid class order hall goes, it’s beautiful. We always had a bit of a private druid dance party club in the form of Moonglade, but one of the first class quests you’ll get pretty much sends you there to open a portal to your order hall, which is greener, druidier, and substantially HDer. The class specific quests have been good so far and whilst the mission table is an initially alarming reminder of Warlords of Draenor (and everything it did wrong), there’s actually far less to do on it. It’s more of a side project than a base of operations.

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I’ve wanted to meet this guy in game ever since reading Stormrage! It’s a shame he has to wield those ridiculous looking paws.

Profession quests are in, and they tie in very well with the open world gameplay – provided you pick them up at the right time. I’ve had some quests that go hand-in-hand with the zone’s quests and can be completed side-by-side, but there’s others that have sent me off to kill dudes that I’d already killed a few hours prior, and the drop rates on those quest items kinda need an accompanying quest tied into the same mobs to stop you from going crazy. This is an inevitability of non-linear zone levelling, though, and might be something that they fix in the future.

I can’t speak for the majority of Artifact weapons, but my Scythe of Elune is sitting comfortably on my back and I’m a big fan of the systems that come along with it. Of course, putting points into arbitrary power increases could have been baked into simply levelling up your character or acquiring new gear, and the same can be said for the abilities that you unlock through them too. But a new method of progression and power acquisition is hardly something to be faulted. As far as the common criticism about sharing a room with 50 people that all have that one legendary Scythe of Elune (or Doomhammer, or Ashbringer)… well, the criticism has merit, but I don’t feel like I’m wielding some legendary weapon as much as I’m simply in possession of a staff that everyone else has. And whilst it is jarring to run into so many Ashbringer-wielding paladins in the world, this effect will lessen as time goes on and players unlock more customisation options… or simply get sick of looking at it and transmog out of it.

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Holy goddamn balls it’s the Scythe of Elune.

As for the core gameplay… well, that comes in two parts. The first part is the questing, and whilst storytelling is at an all-time high (especially in Val’Sharah and Azsuna), it’s still the same old combination of kill these, collect that, interact with these 6 objects and return to me, with a few vehicle quests thrown in there for crazy hijinks. That’s not to say that the expansion isn’t littered with more unique quests, but there’s certainly a fair share of your copy / paste kobold adventures from level 1.

Balance Druid, as a specialisation, is wonderful. In Warlords of Draenor, it was an ugly mess of watching the UI and having your DPS mess up the second you break out of casting to avoid something. Now, I’m in control of what I cast, when I cast it. And the main artifact ability lets you drop freakin’ moons on people, so that’s cool.

I’ve not dedicated much time to discussing dungeons, but that’s because I’ve only done three of them so far – Darkheart Thicket, Eye of Azshara and Neltharion’s Lair, in that order. What I can say is that they’ve all upheld a unique theme, enjoyable boss mechanics and so far, I have no qualms with the prospect of revisiting them several times over the course of the expansion.

There’s plenty left to do. I may have to dedicate an entire blog post to post 110 content, such as world quests, raids (when they come out), the continuation of order hall related activities and more. Whether this will be a regular or a bonus blog post rests purely on whether I play anything other than WoW in the meantime!

Finally, Content! Sweet, Delicious, Content! (World of Warcraft: Legion Pre-Patch)

I know that I originally said that if I wrote about the pre-patch, it’d probably be as a bonus blog post… but I’ve not played much else since they released Demon Hunters, Invasions and the Broken Shore scenario yesterday. So without further ado…

The first thing I did yesterday morning after jumping out of bed and forcing myself into some state of a presentable human being was hop on WoW and make my Demon Hunter. I’d settled on the name of my Demon Hunter months ago, and had reserved it, even though the chances were highly unlikely that anyone else would go for the same name.

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I later changed his tattoo colour to green, as it clashed too much with the green-themed armour. I chose blue hair as a callback to my very first character made in 08!

Virizard, then, charged onto the front lines of Mardum and started chopping demons apart without hesitation. Having read the ‘Illidan’ novel prior to the release of Demon Hunters (which goes over their origins and their general state of affairs), I found the DH starting zone an absolute delight. The plot felt substantial, the characters believable, and the scenery… well, it was reminiscent of Outland in the best of ways. I cannot wait to return here for our Class Order Hall in Legion.

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Shit’s in space, yo. (Well… The Twisting Nether, which is essentially space-hell.)

The actual gameplay of the Demon Hunters themselves is wholeheartedly refreshing. (Keep in mind I’ve only played Havoc, the DPS spec.) Sure, you’ve got the base rotation of an attack which builds up your resource, an attack which spends it, and all sorts of bits and bobs between. But you’ve also got Fel Rush, Eyebeam and Blade Dance, turning you into a lithe, bouncing, beaming bastard of bloody murder. And then there’s Metamorphosis which turns you into purple Satan. The simple inclusion of double-jump and gliding is not only a useful utility in PvE and PvP situations, but is also a fun time-waster; I’ve spent many hours already parkouring around the rooftops of Stormwind, Darnassus and other major cities whilst waiting in a queue.

But there’s more than Demon Hunters in the pre-patch. Besides the initial pre-patch’s updates to every class specialisation’s abilities and rotations, yesterday’s update gave us Invasions and the Broken Shore, giving us some relevant content with which to test out our new abilities on. Both the Demon Hunter starting zone and the Broken Shore scenario lead into Invasions, so I won’t be giving any spoilers despite discussing them first. The Broken Shore scenario was an exciting narrative introduction to Legion, with the Alliance and Horde leading an assault on the portal which has allowed these demons to enter our world. As has not been a secret, we get royally messed up, and the performances from the voice actors were, erm, horrifying… but in a good way! You also get a pretty sweet weapon at the end of it, so that’s nice.

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This safari got ugly quickly! And I’m not just talking about the Orcs.

Invasions are excellent. Zones such as Dun Morogh, Westfall, Hillsbrad Foothills, Azshara, Northern Barrens and Tanaris are being assaulted by more than a couple of big angry demons, and through defending these bastions of wonderfully re-purposed twelve-year old content you get Nethershards. There’s plenty to be bought with Nethershards, such as an (admittedly rubbish) pet, four sets of transmog, some armour and, if you’re a Demon Hunter, your Invasion weapon. Each class has a unique Invasion weapon, which will only be obtainable (for use and for transmog) during this event. There’s also a few Feat of Strength achievements up for grabs, which I’ve already nabbed for posterity.

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This one hit like a truck. A, erm, horned, hoofed, fel-infused truck.

And there’s plenty more! The Dark Whispers event is periodically turning people insane in Stormwind, Dalaran has inconspicuously appeared above Karazhan (probably so the residents can play card games), and there will apparently be Legion prologue quests that are released episodically in the weeks leading up to the expansion! This is in addition to the treasure trove of narrative content that Blizzard has already released in the weeks leading up to the pre-patch, such as comics, a video series, and a fantastic audio drama, all with unique plot points and keen topics of discussion.

All in all, it’s a good month to be a WoW player.