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Welcome the OddCraft Archive!

Basic Campfire Makes A Simple Statement

Long ago, in the distant past of 2008 – almost ten years now – I started blogging.  I did not however start with this blog.  The Land of Odd wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye back then.  When I first began, I had another blog titled “The World of OddCraft” or simply “OddCraft”.  It was a collection of thoughts and observations about the World of Warcraft which was pretty much the only MMO I played back then (I had a Mac, my options were quite limited.)   OddCraft slowly evolved into a series of “Oddities” that I had found in the World of Warcraft: References, strange details, weird doodads placed around the world, and unusual NPCs.  All of them organized by location, expasion, faction, etc.  Although page views rarely broke into the triple digits, I was quite proud of it and I had a small following of regular readers and commenters.

However, as time went on and more notable I grew disillusioned with the Cataclysm expansion, I withdrew from WoW and focused on other things.  Naturally, OddCraft didn’t update as much at that point.  I would still do posts here and there and it did eventually lead to the creation of the Original Version of the WoW Ironman Challenge (We didn’t include a ‘No Death’ clause.  Mostly because we were curious about what you could accomplish with the bare minimum, and the No Death thing seemed to encourage playing it safe over experimentation).  But yes, the original version with the original rules that were first laid out on Twitter by myself, Psynister and a few others were laid into stone on the OddCraft website.  It was also where we did the Warchief Election when it was announced that come Cataclysm the Horde’s leadership was gonna be shaken up.  Six different notable faces ran campaigns and debated on the blog and it ended with a big vote to decide who won to become the new Warchief of the Horde.

Ultimately, OddCraft was sadly more or less abandoned when I decided I wanted to write about far more than just Warcraft and the Land of Odd was created in its place.  But I never forgot about that old site that started things out.  That’s why I am proud to announce that we have officially imported all of the old OddCraft content right here on the Land of Odd in the ‘Warcraft’ section of the blog under ‘Oddities’.  All the old categorization still applied, and I’m working on fixing any images that were lost in the transition.  The old site isn’t gone, but this way my entire blogging history is now under one roof.

So fans of Warcraft, funny things or just people who take interest in some of the weird stuff that pops up in a big MMO, I welcome you to take a gander at the OddCraft Archive, now hosted locally on the Land of Odd!

World of Wacraft: Warlords of Draenor – Legendary Ring Story Summary

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So with Legion, Blizzard decided to remove the Legendary Ring storyline from the game.  Since this storyline does a lot to set up the explanation behind the Legion expansion, as well as go into many of the motivations for staying around on Draenor after the destruction of the Dark Portal, I felt that it was deserving of a story summary so that people can have some level of reference if you want to know what went down in Warlords of Draenor.

Chapter I: Call of the Archmage

Upon reaching max level, you will find a familiar glowing friend wandering around your garrison.  This arcane construct brings word to you from Archmage Khadgar who requests your aid with a mission he has and asks that you come meet with him at his tower in Zangarra.  There he, along with trusty Watcher bodyguard Cordana Felsong, explain that to accomplish this mission he will need your help and to do so you will need a special tool that will help you along the way. A powerful piece of equipment that will not only give you the strength for the challenges that lie ahead but tether you to Khadgar so that he can keep an eye on you and your actions in the dire days to come.  He suggests the item be a ring and asks you to seek out the Arrakoa of Skyreach to retrieve a ring made of pure Solium, a rare metal heated and infused with the raw power of Draenor’s sun, to act as a base material for your new ring.

After fetching the material, Khadgar begins work on infusing your ring with new power and bringing out its own latent strength.  While working he explains that while the Horde and Alliance continue their battle against the forces of the Iron Horde, Khadgar has a different and far more threatening target in mind: Gul’dan.  The Orc Warlock who forged a pact with the demons of the Burning Legion and has a noted history of manipulating events from the shadows to get what he wants.  Khadgar wants to flush the warlock out of the shadows and the best way to do that would be to start by gathering powerful reagents for a tracking spell.  Khadgar requests that you retrieve a Core of Flame from the Slag Mines belonging to the Bloodmaul Ogres in Frostfire Ridge, the Core of Iron that is used to power the Iron Horde’s Iron Star trains that depart from the Grimrail Depot in Gorgrond, and finally to adventure deep into the Everbloom to extract the Core of Life from the closest thing on Draenor to the progenitor of life – a Genesaur.  Khadgar has also heard word from Talador that Gul’dan’s Shadow Council has infiltrated the hallowed halls of the Auchindoun and suspects that Teron’gor, Gul’dan’s right hand, is behind it.  He wants you to retrieve a sample of Teron’gor’s foul fel-touched blood to be used a focus for the tracking ritual.

In exchange for your assistance, Khadgar offers to empower your ring even further but to do so he will require additional materials.  This time he wants to imbue the solium with the magic from the crystals of the Apexis, an ancient Arrakoa civilization that first learned how to harness the power of the sun.  To enhance your ring, he needs precisely 4,986 crystals.  Any less than that number would be inadequate and the wizard insists that any more would be simply ridiculous.  You can trust him. He’s a mage. He did the math.

Once you’ve retrieved all the reagents, Khadgar will attempt to perform a scrying ritual to find Gul’dan only to find that the warlock is actively countering the spell leading Khadgar to deduce that Teron’gor’s death must have spooked the old orc into running.  Unfortunately, this means that Khadgar will need even more power to contend with Gul’dan’s magic and complete the ritual to locate him.  However, he has an idea.  The Archmage knows of a certain dragon – Kairozdormu – that came to Draenor’s past attempting to help Garrosh Hellscream flee his war crimes trial.  Since this modified timeline permeates with Kairoz’s influence, Khadgar should be able to use the dragon – alive or dead – to connect to this age of Draenor and spread his magical power across it.  So you head to the eastern hills of Nagrand where you find time-lost illusion detailing what followed shortly after Garrosh & Kairoz’s arrival in the past version of Draenor.  It would appear that the dragon’s plans quickly soured after arriving back in time as Garrosh immediately betrayed and murdered Kairoz.  However after meeting his bloody end, Kairoz’s angry spirit still dwells in its final resting place of the Time Lost Glade where his spirit and timeline has seeped into the very land of Draenor.  To master this power, Khadgar beseeches you to finish Garrosh’s work and end the dragon’s existence.  As the battle goes on, it is finally revealed why Kairozdormu freed Garrosh and fled to Draenor.  Kairoz saw something in his experiments on the Timeless Isle.  Something that drove him to seek out a way to make not just an army, but an infinite number of armies to fight against it.  To become infinite himself.  His first goal was to use Garrosh to convince Grom Hellscream to unite the Orc clans into becoming the first of Kairoz’s infinite army, but Garrosh’s backstabbing quickly ended that.

You return to the tower in Zangarra victorious.  Khadgar has tapped into Kairoz’s remaining essence and expanded his power and uses the Apexis Crystals you gathered to upgrade your Solium ring into a more powerful incarnation: a Time Lost Solium ring!

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Chapter II: Gul’dan Strikes Back

Armed with the ability to tap into the very essence of Draenor, Archmage Khadgar now needs a means to penetrate the powerful fel magic that Gul’dan uses to shroud himself.  To do so means having to delve into what the Kirin Tor would consider ‘fringe arcane science’ at best.  The knowledge possessed by the ogres of the Gorian Empire would fall under such a category.  Khadgar says that the Sorcerer King of the Gorian Empire, High Imperator Mar’gok, has mastered the art of something called “Felbreaking.” A technique designed to surpress and nullify magic including the vile powers of fel magic.  This knowledge would prove invaluable.  The Archmage asks that you venture deep into the ogre capital of Highmaul and retrieve a Fel Breaker’s Tome as well as the magical sigil of the Sorcerer King himself to help in learning the practices contained in the tome.  Khadgar also recommends picking up Abrogator Stones as you penetrate the ogre city.  These ancient and powerful magical stones that have been passed down through the generations of ogre mages would be a useful fuel to empowering your ring even further – a fair exchange for overthrowing an empire.

Once you have brought an end to the Gorian Empire and retrieved the requested items for Khadgar, the wizard will attempt once more to scry Gul’dan’s location.  Utilizing the fel breaking techniques to tear through the warlock’s veil, Khadgar finally makes contact with the orc.  The victory is short lived however as it seems that Gul’dan has been inquiring about the human mage he witnessed in the escape from Tanaan Jungle.  Gul’dan mentions Khadgar by name and mentions that it would appear that they have quite the history with each other.  This means that the warlock is now aware of the transgressions of the original timeline of your native Azeroth, where Khadgar killing his master, Medivh the Last Guardian of Tirisfal, shattered the mental link that the Guardian shared with Gul’dan and plunged the warlock into a coma that cost him and his Shadow Council control of the Horde.  Khadgar happily announces that they’ve located Gul’dan to which the old orc replies in jest that likewise he has found the Archmage.

Just then a figure draws out from the shadows and before Cordana has a chance to act an orc assassin stabs Khadgar with a poisoned blade. The assassin flees into the marshy lower levels of Zangarra and Cordana orders you to track her down.  You climb down the rocks into the swamp like valley and begin to play a dangerous game of cat and mouse before finally chasing the assassin to a cave and battling it out until either you perish from the poison in your blood or the assassin is captured. You return to the tower with the assassin – Garona Halforcen – in tow where you find Khadgar being kept stable by Jaina Proudmoore, the current leader of Dalaran’s Council of Six. You use the poison to quickly form an anti-venom to help aid in Khadgar’s healing and as the Archmage wakes, Jaina helps him up.  However, if you are a member of the Horde, Jaina will chastise Khadgar for allying himself with you and the Council does not approve of this choice either.  Khadgar will simply shrug it off and say that he needs all the help he can get on Draenor and it won’t be the first time he disappointed the Council.  However before Jaina departs, Khadgar makes one request that she helps transfer the power of the Abrogator Stones you gathered into your ring since he has been weakened by the ordeal.  The process turns your ring into a Spellbound Solium Ring.  Jaina wishes Alliance members well with their newfound power and threatens that she will be keeping her eye on you if you are a member of the Horde.

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Chapter III: The Foundry Falls

Now that he has healed, Khadgar is willing to admit that it was perhaps foolish to go after Gul’dan with magic alone.  Fortunately, an opportunity has arisen with Garona, the assassin you captured.  If he can find some means to break the magical hold that the warlock has on Garona’s mind, she might be able to assist bring down her master.  Khadgar has a plan but to enact it he must ask you to venture into the very heart of the Iron Horde’s war machine: The Blackrock Foundry.  There he will need you to pry out the heart of a primal elemental fury that fuels the massive furnaces below the foundry, steal a Flamebender’s Tome that describes the secret techniques that the Blackrock Clan uses to channel and control the powerful elemental forces of Draenor, and lastly to reclaim a magical Thaumaturgical Orb that was stolen from the Draenei during the Iron Horde’s siege of Karabor.

Once you’ve collected the three components, Khadgar will begin to pour over the Flamebender’s Tome that speaks of a ritual to the elements that required a sacrifice from the chieftan of a clan.  This causes the wizard to ponder on what Blackhand must of sacrificed to gain such knowledge and deduces that it must be his eponymous hand.  Khadgar asks you to break into the core of the foundry and kill the Warlord of the Blackrock Clan, then bring back his arm to utilize as a focus for the ritual to free Garona.

Meanwhile, Khadgar also has a plan to further enhance your ring by utilizing the knowledge sealed in three distinct Elemental Tablets that pre-date written history itself that hold the methods of tapping into the primal power of the planet itself.  However, the tablets will likely have shattered throughout time and thus will require you to find all the pieces scattered throughout the foundry to reassemble them.  Once you do, he performs a ritual to infuse the ring with Draenor’s elemental power.  However in doing so – he accidentally kills you.  While you are dead, you witness a vision of Gul’dan speaking to Grommash Hellscream.  The warlock taunts the warlord by telling him that the Iron Horde is collapsing under the assaults of the outsiders (that would be you) and even the foundry has now fallen.  He tells Grom to drink from the demon’s blood and that it will be the only way to guarantee success for Hellscream’s Iron Horde.  Grommash angrily declines and yells at Gul’dan to leave his sight just before Khadgar resurrects you with a pair of goblin jumper cables much to Cordana’s surprise that they actually worked.

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Chapter IV: Darkness Incarnate

With everything gathered from the Blackrock Foundry, Khadgar attempts to break Gul’dan’s hold on Garona by torturing her until she gives up the information on where Gul’dan is hiding.  In the wakes of the orcs screams, Cordana stops Khadgar horrified by what depths the wizard is willing to sink to and that he is losing himself in pursuit of the mission.  The Archmage relents, agreeing with Cordana that what is the point if they are willing to become just as vile as the warlock himself to accomplish their goals.  He however does have another suggestion: an Orb of Domination.  A relic used by the Shadow Council to ensnare minds into serving and joining their cause.  The old mage suggests that he may be able to reverse engineer the Orb and use it free Garona.  He directs you to a cavern below a Draenei village where the Shadow Counil has been using a orb to brainwash people and to bring the orb back to him.  Cordana is against this idea vehemently since using the orb would be tapping into the dark powers that they sought to stop in the first place, but the orb does its job and rips out Garona’s inner demons for you to battle and ultimately break the warlock’s hold on her.  In thanks, the assassin pledges herself to you and Khadgar while Cordana takes the Orb of Domination away to see it destroyed.

Garona leads you to Bladefury’s Command in northern Talador where Gul’dan was headed to a meeting with the Warlords of the Iron Horde.  You sneak in past the guards to discover what the warlock is up to.  There you witness Gul’dan overthrow the Iron Horde by subduing Grommash and convincing the other warlords of his ineffective leadership by bringing up the countless loses including that of Hellscream’s own son – Garrosh.  Turned by the warlock’s arguments, Kilrog Deadeye steps forth to embrace his foreseen fate and drink of the demon blood, his body twisting and breaking to reform into the first of a new Fel Horde.  Shocked by this news, Khadgar is terrified that history may repeat itself and Azeroth is now more in danger of the Iron Horde than before.  He asks you to use your resources as a General of your faction’s forces to build a shipyard to assault Tanaan Jungle from the sea while your allies assault the gates at the Iron Front.  Garona also agrees herself to your growing army and becomes a legendary follower.

With a foothold established in Tanaan and you and your allies primed to storm the gates of Hellfire Citadel itself, Khadgar suggests a two pronged attack.  First he wishes for you to rip the Tomes of Chaos, the foul books bound with tortured souls that are used to train new warlocks, out of the hands of Gul’dan’s followers.  He also wants you to use your shipyard to chase down Gul’dan’s flagship – ‘The Master’s Call’ – that has been scouring the seas of Draenor and charting the arcane leylines of the world.  That chart must not reach Gul’dan’s hands and could prove useful to the Archmage in bringing your ring to its apex of power.

Once you’ve collected all the tomes full of their disgusting pictures, Khadgar asks you to take them back to Cordana for proper disposal.  However when you arrive back at the tower in Zangarra, you find Cordana intently staring into the Orb of Domination which she apparently did not destroy.  She quickly dodges any question you ask about why she has the orb. She takes the books from you and begins to place them around the room to prepare to destroy them, but instead the erupt into a ritual circle of fel flame.  As the green flame engulfs the room, Cordana demands that you hand over your ring and that she needs it.  You decline with a choice of saying “No.” or “OH HELL NO.” and she declares that she will take it by force.  You fight with Cordana who unleashes both her Watcher training combined with the cinders of fel magics.  She screams that the Orb has shown her the truth: Khadgar is a just child who dabbles in forbidden powers too great for him to control. Gul’dan however has true mastery of these dark arts.  As you weaken her she breaks off the battle and states that nothing will stop Gul’dan and the Burning Legion from burning this world, Azeroth and every other world to the ground.  She opens a portal and walks into it saying that your leaders will ultimately betray you and that the Legion will be victorious.  When you return to Khadgar, he bursts into a rage against Gul’dan and his trickery before quieting and staring off at the horizon to mourn the loss of his bodyguard and friend to the darkness.

Now that the books have been dealt with and you have retrieved the ley line chart, Khadgar can identify three primary points of leyline connections: His tower in Zangarra which he knew since that is why he built it there, the Throne of Elements in Nagrand, and the Temple of Karabor in Shadowmoon Valley.  He says with this knowledge he should be able to bring your ring to its maximum potential and create something truly legendary.  The wizard is a bit apprehensive however after killing you the last time he tried to do this (which he apologizes for again) he will need some assistance.  Luckily, you have made powerful allies in your time on Draenor, and you head off to one of the leyline sites to perform the final ritual.  Members of the Alliance will travel to meet with Yrel and the rest of the Council of the Exarchs and the Naaru K’ara where they work with Khadgar to infuse your ring with the blessing of The Light and awaken it to its true potential.  For the Horde, you will find that the Frostwolf Clan (including the spirit of Ga’nar) has come out in mass to the Throne of the Elements to watch their shaman Drek’thar call upon the Primordial Elemental Furies to beseech them to give your ring their blessings.  With its power fully awakened, your ring has become a power unequaled on Draenor.  Khadgar only hopes it will be enough to stop Gul’dan.

With your ring firmly fastened on your finger, you assault the Black Gate and stop Gul’dan by defeating Archimonde the Defiler and sending the demon general back to the Twisting Nether, but not before Gul’dan manages to escape by being hurled through the very Black Gate that Archimonde had emerged from. No one is sure of where the warlock had escaped to, but Khadgar picks up the old orc’s fel charred walking cane and utters that he knows that this is not over.  He invites you to enjoy your victory celebration with your allies, but he must depart back to Azeroth to prepare for whatever will come next.

He hopes that you will be present and ready for when the call goes out for heroes once more.

Looking Back at Warlords of Draenor

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Well, with Legion just around the corner and the movie all abuzz across the internets (Good and bad), I figured it was time to take a look back at the latest expansion of the World of Warcraft and share my thoughts on what it did right and what it did wrong.

Garrisons:  Garrisons were one of those features I was dreading being utterly disappointed in. The whole idea had been trimmed, cut down, slashed and burned from the original pitch way back at Blizzcon.  From a customizable fortress that could be established in any zone and would have room for trophies and what not to… well, what we ended up getting. A static spot in your faction’s starting zone with the only customization being from a fairly limited number of building types into certain spots, the ability to change the race of the guards and a couple of the flags, and the trophies really just being spots for your pristine archaeology finds and “monuments” that are unlocked by doing super specific expansion long goals.  It was a shadow of the cool feature that we were told about.  And yet, I still love my garrison.  Granted, I love my Alliance garrison more than my snowpile in Frostfire.  But I do actually love my garrison.  I love being the commander of my own forces, ordering them out to complete tasks and then seeing them off as they march around.  I like seeing my followers and other characters I’ve met on my journey wandering around.  I enjoy setting my music and saluting my gnome guards.  I like building it up and fortifying my base.  I even liked defending it from attackers the few times I was able to get it to happen.  So much so that I actually kind of hope that my garrison hearthstone sticks around with me after the expansion is over so I can go back and visit my little corner of the world.

Past & Present Collide:  One of the more interesting things I liked in the expansion was to see where the things in Outland came from. I am still stumbling upon connections and putting together things when I’m out doing stuff.  It was only just recently that it hit me that the Podlings would eventually become the Sporelings of Zangarmarsh.  Or what was in this area before the world got ripped up.  The only real sad part to this was the fact that Farahlon was passed over and forgotten along with several other smaller islands that are clearly shown on the map but never added in game.

The Story:  Oh, the story.  What a mangled tale it did weave.  So much excitement, so many threats, and all of it – entirely – was for absolutely nothing.  Seriously, what were the lasting repercussions of this plotline? Garrosh is dead. Maraad is dead.  Gul’dan was thrown into the Nether so he can reach other universes.  Those are the three things that were actually accomplished in terms of the overall narrative of Warcraft.  Everything else? Those epic battles? Those heart warming reunions and soul crushing sacrifices?  All take place in an Alternate Universe that has zero effect on anything once we go home.  Talk about a dissapointment.  Heck, the Iron Horde never posed any risk after 30 minutes in Tanaan Jungle.  You blow up the Dark Portal in the intro mission. The Iron Horde now has zero threat to the real world from their weirdo elseworld. But now we’re stuck right? Nope. We can just open a mage portal across dimensions back home. lol.  WHY ARE WE BOTHERING TRYING TO SAVE ALTERNATE UNIVERSE DRAENOR? Nothing that happens can affect us beyond people from our universe dying (which they do).

How about this instead – it IS our Draenor.  The Timewalkers and the Bronze Dragons have temporarily locked it off in time so that we – the heroes – can go back, track down Garrosh and his accomplice and set things right before it has a chance to permanently destroy our universe.  Then there is an actual risk to us failing to stop the Iron Horde.  There’s a reason for us staying once you broke the Dark Portal and stopped the Invasion.  Heck, it doesn’t even have to end up being the same.  As long as the important plot pieces remain (Nerzhul becomes the Lich King, Gromm lives long enough to free the Orcs from the Blood Curse, Thrall ends up being raised by humans) you could pull a comic style reboot and brought the Movie plotline into canon with the games.  Maybe not flawlessly, but that would have at least been something. Instead we are left with a lackluster resolution with minimal lasting effects.  This whole expansion should have been a novel.

The Ending:  Speaking of lackluster…  WHY DOES GROMM GET OFF SCOTT FREE?  After using the Iron Horde to complete destroy Draenor, wage war on the Draenei and other citizens of the world, and murder and pillage as they see fit – he suddenly gets welcomed with open arms by those he and his chieftans have wronged just because Gul’dan is the bigger asshole?  I hate to go Godwin on this, but that’s kind of like the Allies welcoming Hitler into their ranks, saying let bygones be bygones, all because some space aliens attacked in the last few years of World War II. You don’t get a Get Out of Jail Free card just because there is someone worse than you.  And yet, here we are.  With that being the exact note the expansion ends on.  Gromm is the big damn hero that will help rebuild Draenor with the Draenei and there will be peace and butterflies.  I don’t even have words for how BAD that ending was.  Oh, but at least Gromm didn’t killsteal Archimonde. That makes it alright then, right?  God that ending pissed me off and the fact that more people weren’t pissed off also pisses me off.  You could have at least made it Durotan that extends the hand of peace!  He was willing to join forces to fight the Iron Horde.  All frickin’ Gromm did was get tied to a rock for not drinking EctoCooler.

The Legendary Ring:  Weirdly enough, the Ring quest actually did feel Legendary. Even though the whole thing didn’t even result in an item that you will ever be able to display to others.  The story behind the Ring was really what made it strong.  Joining Khadgar in his elaborate chess game with Gul’dan.  Khadgar who is old enough to actually be aware of the threat that Gul’dan poses (Having encounter him through Gul’dan’s dealing with Medivh in the First War and using the Skull of Gul’dan to close the Dark Portal in the Second War).  Khadgar dances back and forth on his morality quite a bit – stooping to torture, dealing in dark magic, and ultimately getting his bodyguard and confidante to be swayed over by Gul’Dan’s power.  It’s clear that this was the intended ‘real story’ behind the expansion given what we know about Gul’dan’s eventual take over of the Iron Horde and being thrown across realities to help instigate Legion.  A shame that once the expansion comes out, no one will ever be able to see it as they are burying the questline.

Getting Out in the World:  When Blizzard first spoke about the leveling experience of Draenor being less questing and more Timeless Isle, I was filled with dread.  That didn’t sound fun at all.  Racing with others to grab spawns and fighting for kills to grind.  Luckily, the traditional questing method did make it in but traces of the Timeless Isle are felt everyone. From the treasures to the rare mobs to the tedious rep grinding of 2 rep per mob, it was everywhere.  Luckily, there were improvements made.  The Rares spawned pretty quickly outside of the endgame areas, the chests were all account specific so you never had to fight for them, and it was kind of fun seeking things out.  However I did miss my dailies (Shut up, I like them) and was glad to see them return in Tanaan along with the option of grinding for the Saberstalkers.  However, I guess this just didn’t get that many people out in the world since all I’ve heard from the general player base was “We just sit in our garrisons”.

The Flying Achievement:  I liked it.  I liked the idea of once you have mastered the outdoor PvE elements of the expansion that you unlocked flying account wide.  So all of your alts will have it as soon as they enter Draenor.  I like that a lot better than paying 2000 gold per character at least.  Plus as an achievement fan, it gives me something big to work toward.

I guess what it boils down to was the fact that while the gameplay in Warlords of Draenor really succeeded for me, the story felt like it was a complete after thought and didn’t get nearly the attention it deserved.  The whole expansion kind of felt like just something to tide players over and test out some new ideas while Legion was being worked on. I came in without a ton of excitement, but I found some fun and a lot of angry ranting.  Which is… good?  I dunno. Certainly looking forward to Legion though.

 

Going Galactic

Thus far in my MMO career I’ve primarily bounced back and forth between two games: World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Oh sure, I’ve dabbled here or there in other games.  Occassionally I still jump in and have a swim in the waters of Dungeons & Dragons Online (Less so now that they’ve decided to abandon Eberron for Forgotten Realms, but I could write a whole other post – and might – about that beef), and my copy of Guild Wars 2 still sits firmly installed for when I just want to wander and have fun.

So now the pendulum has swung back and I’ve decided to wander back into TOR for a bit.  Why?  Well, I won’t speak ill of patch 5.4 for World of Warcraft because by no means do I feel it was bad, but for the moment there’s not a lot of time investing fun to be had beyond leveling alts.  The Raid Finder (aka the only raiding Vry does anymore because every raiding guild I’ve ever run with boils down to petty drama bulls*&%) is more frustrating than anything when the wings are just opening.  People rushing in like cattle to the slaughter.  Best to wait until everything opens up and people start getting used to the mechanics and fights before wading into the thick of it.

WoW vs SWTOR: The Metaphor… I guess?

The Timeless Isle however IS content I can sink my teeth into.  It’s fun and open.  I like just wandering in circles and seeing what I can find.  I LOVE the trivia daily as you can imagine.  But the problem with the Timeless Isle right now is that it’s pretty much the ONLY thing to do outside of Proving Grounds (Solo) and raiding (slaughter house), so the Island is PACKED.  And the problem with the island being packed full of players running around and killing everyone and everything in sight is that the place becomes so ridiculously overfarmed the only chance to do anything is just to chest hunt.  Hey! A rare is up! Oh, it’s dead before I can reach it because 100 people were camping it. Oh another one! Hurrry scurry murray hurr-  Oh, dead again.

Then if you’re lucky to find the Island at a time when it’s NOT busy as hell, good luck having the killing power to take down the big game.  I mean, I enjoy the fact that I can at least kill my 20 elites in peace, and maybe actually tag an albatross, but at the same time it seems like some of the bigger mobs require a group effort to bring down.  So when the island is bare, you’ve got yet another problem.

Really, the only solution I’ve come to with the island is that it’s great fun, and will continue to be great fun when I’m killing things on it next expansion when I’m 95 in bad ass gear cutting my way through it solo because no one needs to gear up alts anymore.  AKA the “How Vry plans to do the Isle of Thunder achievements” plan.

However I don’t plan to just abandon World of Warcraft for months on end.  Oh heck no.  I’ve been having a ball just going back and leveling my alts.  My monk just made it to Northrend, and for the first time in a good long time I get to explore the Alliance side stories in Northrend. Which despite all the talk of Horde bias in recent years, the Alliance stuff in Northrend is REALLY good story-wise.  The Cult of the Damned infiltrating their ranks in the Borean Tundra, recovering the Ashbringer for Tirion in the Howling Fjord, reuniting with the Westfall crew in the Grizzly Hills…  there’s a lot of good stuff there.

Meanwhile it SW:TOR there’s a lot to catch up on.  I came back to just miss the bounty hunter week so I’m curious to try that out. I just finished up my Makeb reputation and am currently setting all my 55’s to complete the Section X one before moving on the new Czerka area.  And I’ve started a bunch of alts fresh to try out some new experiences in the game (Light side inquisitor, good guy agent, bad guy jedi, greedy bounty hunter) as well as have a refresher for the class storyline reviews.  Which for those who haven’t seen yet, you can find spoiler-free paragraph long class storyline summaries here now. I’ll be doing more reviews soon hopefully.

I know TOR has gotten a ton of crap over it’s short life, but I still find it quite enjoyable to play.  Okay, not every aspect of the game is amazing.  The cartel market constantly swings between “That’s AWESOME” and “You’ve got to be kidding me” for one.  But they’ve also done some pretty cool things.  Like the new flashpoints, while devoid of fun conversations, are designed to be done with any combination of classes and roles.  3 tanks and one healer? Cool.  4 DPS? Fine.  (On the Hard mode, it’s still the typical 2 DPS/1 Tank/1 Healer arrangement, but that’s fine)  This is pretty much like WoW scenarios.  Which I love.  Like a lot.

But when it comes down to it, the stories in TOR is what keeps me coming back to it over something like Guild Wars 2 or DDO.  I had 10 – TEN – different playthroughs of Mass Effect 1 & 2, 6 characters in Dragon Age 2, and yes, I loved ME3 ending and all.  Is it any shock that playing through the class stories and seeing how different choices play out is really fun for me? Even if there’s a ton that’s the same every time?  Plus they’ve done a great job of fixing up a lot of the annoyances in the game that were there at the launch.  The group finder works great, the later worlds seem to be retuned a bit, and the legacy unlocks and new travel consoles make getting around much less of a head ache.  The only thing that still drives me nuts is that with F2P or preferred, you only get 5 on-site rezes per character.  Then you have to go back to the med center always unless you buy more.  Really?  Can’t you just put a ridiculous cooldown on that one instead?  Like you can only on-site rez once per 4 hours for F2P, or 2 hours for preferred if you don’t have a medi-droid contract (first 5 is free, then you have to purchase further medi-droid contracts in the market. Or else you go on a wait list – aka long cooldown).

So if you happen to be on Begeren Colony, keep an eye out for the Vrykerion legacy running around.

New Level Cap, New Ironman

Level 90 Immortal Ironman: Lyssan

Well, it’s happened folks.  The challenge was set forth and the World of Warcraft rose to meet it.  We have a new Ironman.

It’s been declared that LYSSAN of VEK’LINASH (US) is our World First Level 90 Immortal Ironman. A great big congratulations on the achievement!

As it has been with past winners, your name is now eternally carved into the history of the Ironman Challenge.

And I must say, a huge props on accomplishing this task with a priest.  Early on in the challenge I know a couple people tried to do priests, thinking that the heals and shield would be helpful in the long run.  Ultimately they were defeated by the massive drain of their mana pool. While I’m not sure if that has changed at all in Mists of Pandaria, I am still willing to say that hitting level 90 on priest Ironman style takes balls. Iron balls.  So a massive congrats to Lyssan!

Hail to the Immortal Ironman

Kripparrian, the Immortal Ironman. Err... Irontroll?

Well, back when we did the original Ironman Challenge, I gave a huge shout out to Ironmary for being the first person to make it to 85 and conquer the challenge.  Well, since then we have got a new variation, which some have decided to call the ‘Hardcore Ironman’ or the ‘New Ironman Challenge’ or a couple different names – but I have decided to call it the ‘Immortal Ironman Challenge’.  Not dying is a heavy duty task to tack on top of an already difficult challenge.  A name like Immortal is deserving of one who can pull this off.

Thus it gives me great pleasure to announce that we do have our first Immortal Ironman Challenge victor: Kripparrian the Troll Hunter from Turalyon-US.  You can find more info and Kripparrian’s video here.

Congratulations! You are an Immortal Ironman! Eat, drink and revel in your victory! You have earned it.  If anyone sees Kripparrian in game, give him a /cheer!

(Thanks for MMO Melting Pot for finding this and sending it out on Twitter)

I’ve Got Me The Wanderlust!

So I’m sure you can probably tell from either my twitter feed or even here on my blog that there’s been a definitive shift in attention to other things – Non-WoW things.  Well, there is a reason for that.  I’m not currently playing WoW.  Oh yes, my subscription actually lapsed in late November, and I didn’t really bother to renew it.  Oh I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking “Vry, didn’t you ragequit the game not even a year ago at the start of Cataclysm?  Are you really quitting again?”  Well, allow me to answer you, Imaginary Blog Reader.  The answer is yes and no.

This isn’t a ragequit.  Not in the least.  Not a single character was deleted.  All 11 of my darling toons are still sitting there.  No, the reason is really that I just ran out of things I was interested in doing.  Cataclysm itself has been an underwhelming game in a number of regards but mostly in the one that interests me most – story.  The story just seems so disjointed.  I’ve spoken about it here before.  I kinda get that they want to establish a number of hooks that they can come back and explore further down the line, and that answers may come in an expansion or two but that really doesn’t give me incentive to play now. Honestly, all I had to look forward to was the end of the Deathwing story arc that I found personally underwhelming.  Believe me, I’ve followed every bit of news about 4.3 and other than the once-a-month Darkmoon Faire and kupo-ing (transmogrification – and if you don’t understand the reference you are a bad nerd and should hand in your nerd card now) there REALLY wasn’t anything I was jumping for joy about.  Nothing bad really, just nothing I was looking forward too.  So I said, “Self, is this game currently worth $15 a month to you?” and I replied, “No. Not at the moment.” So I didn’t renew.  Now Mists of Pandaria?  If everything pans out they way they pitched it at Blizzcon, I’d be very interested in coming back to see how that it is.

I suppose it’s only fair to confess that I’ve been disillusioned with Blizzard’s storytelling a bit since Blizzcon.  I may play it up for cheap laughs but I really spent a lot of time thinking and theorizing about that snake in Gundrak.  Heck, I even went to the trouble of lining up the maps and figuring out that it led into that big closed up temple, not to mention all the different ideas about the unified troll empires and what that might mean for this.  Or the connections behind each of the troll empires seemingly having a powerful serpent-like god at the head of their pantheon (Ulatek and Hakkar).  But to hear that all that thought, all those potential theories, were all the result of “The art team stuck that in there. No clue what it is. HA HA HA.” was a bit disheartening.  How many other storylines or interesting things are there in the game that I am passionate about are nothing but “It’s neat and that’s all”? I suppose we can’t all be right about things like Rades.  I guess you could say I’m a bit cynical about the story of World of Warcraft now.  So for the moment, there’s something else in my sights.

Ah yes.  Star Wars: The Old Republic.  I’m not going to sit here and speak of it like it is some holy grail of MMOs, that it will push the envelope and break us through to other side or anything like that.  It is WoW with a few new enjoyable mechanics, a different setting, and a whole lot more story.  But that’s where it hooks me – THE STORY. If I had to attribute one thing to keeping me playing through all of Wrath of the Lich King without burning out, despite watching two guilds dissolve around me, it was that I was completely enraptured in the story of the expansion.  Cataclysm? Not so much. Mists?  Yet to be seen.  But from the beta weekends with SWTOR?  Oh sweet evil jebus, yes the story hooked me.  Almost every class I played had something about it that made me sit up and go “Oh, I want to know what’s next!” Even the trooper! (On the other hand if I hear “It looks like you need a soldier” one more time, I’m going to punch my screen. So we’ll wait a bit on that class.) What can I say? Despite whatever glitches and bugs or ‘uninspired terrain’ *coughdragonage2cough* I’ve encountered through my treks through Bioware’s games, I’ve always been willing to work through or around them because dangit, they tell an enjoyable story.

So what does that mean for this blog?  Nothing.  It’s one of the reasons I switched to ‘Land of Odd’ instead of ‘Oddcraft’.  Because I knew there was a good chance that despite my desire to write, I might not always have the desire to play World of Warcraft.  I’ve still got a big stack of silly WoW pictures and weirdness to talk about, I’ll be posting more on SW:TOR, and I’ll continue to rant and rave about any other geeky things I come across. Be they D&D, cartoons, anime, SW:TOR, WoW, or any other video game.  This blog will continue to be about weird rantings, strange observations, and me just being a nerdy weirdo talking about stuff he enjoys and occasionally hates.  In the merry old Land of Odd, we do-as-we-please and we hope you continue to enjoy this insane ride with us.  And by us, yes I just mean me.  It’s the royal we.  Cause I’m the king here. And as king I say…  that this metaphor is becoming needlessly bloated. Yeesh.

CDevs? CDevs Post? Post Devs Post!

Some people play WoW for the PvP, some do it for the raids, and others want to get the shiniest gear and then rub in the face of others (Don’t roll your eyes. You know they exist. We all do.) Me?  Well, I play WoW for the Lore.  The stories, the characters and the idea of ever evolving world.  I latch onto the continuity of WoW like a comic book fan beating their head into their desk because DC decided to bring back the multiverse (That reminds me, I still need to read ’52’).

So when the Creative Development team at Blizz decides to post a Q&A, I take notice.  More than that, I comb through that thing with a fine tooth comb.  More than more than that, here are the results of my combing:

Q: Are the Warcraft and World of Warcraft RPG books considered canon?

A: No. The RPG books were created to provide an engaging table-top role-playing experience, which sometimes required diverging from the established video game canon. Blizzard helped generate a great deal of the content within the RPG books, so there will be times when ideas from the RPG will make their way into the game and official lore, but you are much better off considering the RPG books non-canonical unless otherwise stated.

I made a passing joke about this on Twitter that this eliminates half of WoWpedia.  They actually responded saying that it doesn’t but they welcome feedback on the site.  Of course, they said this while the site (and all of the Curse network) was down.  Dare I call their bluff?  I don’t even know where to begin with all the information that I’ve used here on this very blog that came from the RPG books.  Info on the Dead Goliaths?  Yup.  Populations of various cities, towns and countries?  Uh huh.  Details about day to day life in certain places in the game as well as info on races and characters?  Oh there’s a ton of it in those books.  See, WoWpedia can claim that this minor statement doesn’t invalidate a good chunk of the lore they keep stashed on their shelves, but it has essentially rendered any article citing those books as unreliable as most people think the real Wikipedia is.  I’ll be using WoWpedia and WoWwiki with a grain of salt from here on out.

Q: Where is X? (X = Calia Menethil, Turalyon, Alleria Windrunner, Med’an, Gallywix, etc.)

A: There are several “missing” characters in the Warcraft universe, but they are not forgotten! While we’d love to talk about these characters, doing so would spoil a number of the plots we have for Cataclysm and beyond. Believe us when we say that you will definitely hear about these characters when we’re ready to talk about them!

The trick to this answer isn’t that they let slip that they haven’t forgotten about these characters. It’s the little bit about plots for Cataclysm “and beyond”.  You catch that?  I wonder how far ahead they’ve got planned.  The next expansion?  The next three?  Also the choice of examples here are very interesting.  Calia Menethil, now sole heir to the throne of Lordaeron and had a crush on Deathwing’s human disguise, could she be returning to face off against the Forsaken?  Maybe she was hiding out in the safety of Gilneas until the Cataclysm?  Hmm…  My brains a boil with the possibilities!  And Alleria (no doubt ashamed of her sisters) and Turalyon, lost during the expedition into Outland, could this be a hint at a return to the desolate remains of Draenor?  Or their triumphant return during Azeroth’s darkest hour?

Med’an and Gallywix are not so surprising.  One’s a AWOL faction leader who is bound to turn up eventually (Fingers crossed for Her Tallness to boot his fat goblin butt out of office though) and the other is a Jesus allegory second only to Thrall who may be the key to finishing out this expansion ala Sunwell Girl. (Naturally Med’an will be even more upset when he learns what the Forsaken did to his REAL father.)

Q: Why isn’t there a(n) X Archaeology branch? (X = Tauren, Aqir, Faceless One, Furbolg, Murloc, etc.)

A: This is more of a game design question than a CDev one, but it was asked enough that we wanted to at least point out the following: just because a race doesn’t have an Archaeology branch now doesn’t mean there aren’t artifacts for that race, nor does it mean that the race isn’t a candidate for possible future additions to the profession.

Yes, yes, you can add more stuff to archaeology later.  We know, we know.  Moving on.

Q: Have we seen a true titan yet in World of Warcraft?

A: No, only their creations.

Well that closes out a lot of speculation doesn’t it? I had always assumed that everything we’ve seen thus far were just creations (Guardians of Ulduar) or interns (Algalon) of the Titans. But it’s nice to have a confirmation.  Especially on Algalon who really could have gone either way with him being a lesser Titan of the pantheon or just their…  /sunglasses Star Intern. YEEEEAAAA…

Q: Are night elves related to trolls in some way?

A: See issue #5 of the World of Warcraft Official Magazine!

Low blow, Blizz.  Low blow.  Somehow I expect to flip open the magazine and just find the big words “Yes” in there.  Come on, do we really need to dance around this?  Especially when just further down you state that Pre-Titans there were no night elves but there were trolls.  Do you want us to believe that elves were titan creations too?  Really?  Were there pointy eared stone golems running amuck that got corrupted by the Curse of the Flesh and they just happened to look like the homo sapien to the trolls’ neanderthal?  YES.  ELVES ARE RELATED TO TROLLS.  That simple.  But nooo… you had to pimp your magazine.

Q: What is the relationship between the Ancients of the Emerald Dream and the loa?

A: Troll druids visiting the Moonglade have been overheard calling the wisps who reside there loa, just as they refer to Goldrinn, Aviana, and the other returned Ancients as loa. Night elves and tauren have tried to counsel these trolls on “correct” druidic nomenclature, but the trolls thus far have been stuck in their ways.

This could indicate one of two things. A) Trolls simply have different names for  things, and that includes Ancients, nature spirits, and perhaps even Old Gods. or B) The trolls simply refer to or assume anything supernatural is related to a loa.  “Hey Mr. Troll! This is a lighter.”  “Dat be a powahful loa, mon.”  “No…  it’s a lighter.”  “Loa.”  “Light-er”  “Lo-ah”  You get the drift.  Though if the Ancients are just Loa, like how Goldrinn is also Lo’gosh, does that mean that you can siphon their power away from them and become more powerful like the Drakkari did?  Hmm…

Q: If trolls are able to regenerate their limbs, why didn’t Zul’jin’s arm grow back?

A: For the most part, it is the speed at which trolls regenerate that makes them formidable foes. When in balance with the loa of their tribe, they are also able to regrow digits (fingers and toes). Tales abound in troll culture, however, of those blessed by the loa with extraordinary regenerative abilities, such as the ability to regrow limbs and even vital organs lost in battle. The tale of Vula’jin the Void speaks of how he regrew almost his entire body after standing in a pool of shadowflame. But just as the loa can bless, they can also curse; troll children are taught legends of those cursed by the loa, unable to heal even flesh wounds, to instill the proper respect for their patron spirits.

Really?  Cause the patron spirits seemed pretty keen in Zul’Aman to…  /sunglasses Lend a hand? (That was the last Sunglasses joke. I promise.) I know that this is essentially the voice of god telling us that he didn’t get his arm back because he was cursed by the gods (for defending his people? Going against high elves and humans?  What exactly did Zul’jin do to tick them off exactly?) but would it really be that hard to say that the wound was cauterized before it would grew back so he wouldn’t die of blood loss?  I mean he was only regenerating 5 hp per second (but to be fair, there was nothing the Alliance could do about it.)

Q: What races were on Azeroth before the coming of the titans?

A: Besides the elementals, the only known sentient races on Azeroth when the titans’ forces arrived to subdue the Old Gods were the trolls, the race known as “faceless ones,” and the aqir. Due to the Old Gods’ war against the titans, as well as the extensive terraforming that followed the war’s conclusion, records of what races existed before even the Old Gods’ arrival have likely been lost forever.

See! No night elves!  Just trolls, Aqir and “Faceless Ones”.  Which is slowly become a very broad category actually. We’ve seen faceless ones in Northrend, we’ve seen them in Vashj’ir, and a couple of other places too but they generally differ in appearance.  My only assumption is that a Faceless One is some sort of highly corrupted form created by an Old God, and that each Old God creates slightly different looking Faceless Ones.  The Water-type Faceless Ones are created by the Dark Below, which according to WoWwiki is a plane of monsters and demons possibly below the crust of Azeroth.  This information comes from the Manual of Monsters, one of the Warcraft RPG books, which means it’s worth JACK SQUAT.  *head to desk* Hands up for the folks who think the Dark Below actually being Old God related? Possibly N’zoth?  Yea I thought so.

Q: What contact, if any, have the tol’vir in Uldum had with the rest of Azeroth over the course of their existence?

A: Although the systems keeping Uldum hidden from the rest of the world worked flawlessly from the ordering of Azeroth up until the Cataclysm, the tol’vir inside did have some knowledge of what was going on outside their home: many of the titans’ security devices in Uldum were in communication with the other titanic cities (Ulduar, Uldaman, etc.). The Halls of Origination were actually the system that Algalon the Observer intended to activate upon his arrival in Ulduar… which the players prevented from automatically triggering when they sent the “Reply-Code Alpha” signal from Dalaran.

In case you were wondering what the actual answer to the actual question was, it was ‘No’.  They haven’t had any contact.  You kinda have to infer that from the answer we were given about…  Wait.  Wait wait wait wait WAIT.  Algalon the Observer had the authority to activate the Halls of Origination?  Never mind the stuff about the tol’vir, what was the point of Reply Code Alpha then?  If the titans had entrusted Algalon with the power the re-originate the planet using the Genesis Device – I mean Halls of Origination, then shouldn’t Azeroth not being rebooted been enough of an all clear?  I thought the whole point of that was that Algalon was here to, you know, OBSERVE and then report his findings to the titans along with whether or not the planet needs to be rebooted.  We stop him before he can send his report, so he gives us the all-clear code to send back instead.

So did we stop Algalon by defeating him and showing him that we don’t need to be rebooted, or did we stop him by sending the signal?  Because one of these answers invalidates the other.  You can’t have your plot cake and eat it too, Blizz.  Don’t make me contact the Red Shirt Guy.

The “Pride” of the Alliance? (Part I)

Kiddo over at Journal of a WoW Kiddie posted an interesting thought about the lack of pride amongst the Alliance forces.  It got me thinking about the topic too.  Kiddo raises a lot of good points on the matter, namely the surge of spite at a number of King Wrynn’s recent actions as well as the lack of a real battle cry that simply isn’t piggybacking on the Horde’s (I wholeheartedly support the use of “For Bolvar”). However, my personal thoughts on this matter run deeper, and much older, than the return of our good king. (No, that’s not sarcasm. I like King Wrynn.  Especially after playing Horde for two years and dealing with Thrall’s “Lets pretend to be friends with the Alliance” while Horde and Alliance blood is still being spilled on the soil daily.)

When I first started playing World of Warcraft, and as I understand this is still true, the Alliance are viewed as the good ‘clean’ races.  The humans and their allies – a stockpile of stereotypical fantasy fare – who think they are the last bastions of good in an otherwise darkening world.  The Horde on the other hand are a ragtag band of fantasy underdogs and ‘bad asses’, and are hardened because of their tough lot of not being the “good ones.”  People love their underdogs and anti-heroes.  After all, people like Batman more than Superman and Wolverine more than Cyclops for a reason.  But it wasn’t always that way with the Alliance and the Horde.

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Ask Not For Whom the Bell Tolls: Death in Warcraft

Even the Dead Can Die

I thought it would be fun to share my own personal experiences with the nuts and bolts of the game.  Namely, the nature of death in this fantasy realm.  It’s always been a strange mix of not wanting to offend, not wanting to punish fairly but not harshly and hoping that people just go with it and not ask questions.  Some of this leads to some pretty strange results when you think about it too long, and  one incident in particular that happened to me has got me very confused – and it’s one you can try at home! But don’t try to explain it to your folks, they’ll look at you funny and then you’ll meet the men in the white suits.  And that is never fun unless you’re a fan of hospital grade Jello.  What am I talking about?  Well, how about dying when you’re dead?

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