The reasons individuals become involved with the Twilight's Hammer are numerous. Archbishop Benedictus turned his back on the Light and become the Twilight Father out of despair after seeing Deathwing's face. Others just like the idea of anarchy and chaos. While still more are drawn to the idea of power or death.
Asira Sunbright would have been your average blood elf blade-for-hire, winning some small acclaim in the gladiatorial ring if Cho'gall had not taken notice of her. At first when approached for some small jobs she was hesitant. The Twilight's Hammer didn't have the best reputation as employers. Not that they weren't generous, or their tasks challenging. It was just that they their handlers tended to be rather unstable. Eventually greed over came her miss givings.
Eventually Asira's close and continued association to the corrosive influence of the Twilight's Hammer began to impact her personally. The jobs became less about the money and more about the thrill, the challenge, the death itself. The transformation from hired hand to fully committed member came when she chose to change her name to "Dawnslayer". A major step in elf society, signalling something essence altering had occurred within an individual's life, making their previous exsistence "dead".
By this time she had become an assassin of note within the Cult, frequently gaining both the highest fees as well as the most sensitive assignments. When we first encounter her or even learn of her existence it is because she has been given the task of eliminating Thrall and retrieving the Dragon Soul as he makes his way across Dragonblight during his journey to Wrymrest Temple. Time is rapidly running out for the Twilight's Hammer and it is interesting that only now do they think to send a rogue in to do what rogues are best at, take out a single target and snatch up an item. It only goes to show how mad these guys are.
Sadly, Asira chooses to confront Thrall and his escort out in the open and from the front, never a rogue's strongest position. In addition she is out numbered six to one. Perhaps all of her time spent in the Twilight's Hammers company has instilled a false sense of superiority, or she has just gotten cocky on her past success. About they only ones she manages to irritate are the casters as she puts her tools to use tossing her version of smoke bomb and has still been able to maintain the ability to silence with a thrown knife. Yet she never uses the major tool of rogues....stealth. As a result her career ends at the hands of Thrall and his companions far from her birthplace at Silvermoon.
For as long as I have played World of Warcraft I have stayed primarily on one server. Lets be frank here, my server is OLD, it was one of the second set of servers released and over the years has reached max population several times. In an attempt to keep things from stagnating Blizzard has used several techniques to mix things up. Offering free realm transfers OFF the server was a popular one for quite a while. There was even a time when they threatened to dissolve the server entirely and send everyone to two entirely new servers unless we got the population down. They finally have managed to get enough old players to leave try a new tactic.
This past patch our server became open to "New Players" with hysterical results. Apparently to a great many people "New Player" servers means "New Server". So with out doing any research before hand a couple of guilds decide to server transfer. Their intention was to come to this "New Server" and gather up all the "Server Firsts". Now progression on our server has juggled around over the years with the top guilds sliding around from first, second or third place. The players IN those guilds all tend to be the same, it just may be the guilds themselves that change. Needless to say these new guilds were met with mockery.
When Blizzard opened up the server to new players the effect on some of these old guilds was rather interesting. One decided to transfer off. Another closed up shop, stating they were all going to go play SWTOR. A couple of the others are attempting to pick up the pieces. Over all it feels like a ship that is sinking and the rats are fleeing. Activity on the server forums is almost nil, the vast majority being farewells rather than recruitment's. The general feeling seems to be that if the server is marked as "New Player" then there is no way anyone will be able to find quality recruits with out having to expend a tremendous amount of effort. Effort few feel they should have to put forth this late in a game.
Old servers have some advantages. All the content is already available to you. Sunwell, AQ, etc. However few people really care about that unless they are after transmogrification gear, mounts or reputations. There also seems to be a whole lot more level 25 guilds on our server. Yet it is like having a bunch of toddlers show up at a retirement home. Some find the little ones amusing while others just want them to get off their lawn and stop making so much noise!
We have considered server transferring as a guild. The reason had more to do with our connection than anything else. The vast majority of our members are located on the east coast or mid west so getting a server there would be helpful. The problem is that the guild has just grown so large no one feels comfortable forcing a transfer. That and the expense. Numerous of our members have five or more alts so unless Blizzard offered free transfers there is really no way they could stay. So for the moment we are stuck bailing water and attempting to plug the holes.
Jobs for immortals are seldom favorites. Things just seem to get complicated. It was so simple at the on set and something I'd enjoy doing anyway, snatch a decoder ring from a pocket? Child's play! Leave it to dragons to underestimate their opponents or to fail to understand the allegiances of their hirelings. Who knew my loyalties would so quickly come under question? Not by the individuals who originally hired me but by myself?
The cipher I was given to decode was of a type I had never seen before as a scribe, but that wasn't really a problem. One thing I had discovered over the years was to build contacts and the Ethereal's would do just about anything for the right price. Thankfully a group had recently set up shop near the canals in Stormwind, saving me the cost of a trip to Outland. I just needed to patiently await a translation, considering the condition of the sample wasn't the greatest. Not a surprise since dragons tend to roast first, ask questions later.
I admit I wasn't shocked to see Ravenholdt's name. The manor was once the home of a certain Lord Daval Prestor so ties with the Black Dragon flight were nothing new. The question was who had brokered this deal, my uncle Jorach? He had grown rather reclusive. Or was my cousin Fahrad finally stepping up and taking a more active role? It had been a long time since I had made a trip back to my birth place, and this certainly was not the way I expected to do it. What I found interesting was the fact that the Red Dragon flight seemed completely oblivious to the ties the Blacks have to humans...were they blind? However if they weren't asking I wasn't going to volunteer information.
My traveling companion did not help matters. Why employ me to do a job and then dictate how I do it? Even worse to stand there and insult your employee TO THEIR FACE! Thieves? Bandits? I am a professional Thank you very much! Your Allies could have told you that Ravenholdt was more than a simple motley band hiding in Hillsbrad if you'd lowered yourselves to ask. The very fact that they spirited away your precious egg should have displayed that to you. But no, rather than ASK anyone you bumble around make grand announcements about torching places. We petty "short lifers" know more about your precious egg than you realize.
What self respecting rogue enters from the FRONT? Even the Tauren Chieftains know we do everything "from behind"! My irritation was making it difficult to concentrate. If it had been left to me I would have entered the Manor via the narrow ravine between the Hinterlands and Hillsbrad rather than attempt to go in via the well guarded front tunnel. However Mostrasz made it clear he was "guiding" this show...what did he know about how to do my job? Nothing it would soon transpire.
As soon as I entered my former bedroom dormer it was clear things were not going to go as Mostrasz planed. The smell of sulfur permeated the air. Now while Zan's engineering projects occasionally backfired and caused smoke, he worked in the basement for a reason. To keep his smells contained. The only way for the entire manor to reek like it did was if one of two things had occurred: the egg either had been destroyed or hatched. Dragon eggs are not like bird eggs, when they hatch they explode, jettisoning fire every where. That would mean for safety sake the egg would have to have been housed in Zan's steel and stone workshop.
Slipping down the stairs revealed a quiet and orderly interior. Members of the household were still very much on guard which lead me to the conclusion there must be something they felt they had to protect. It was nothing to time a silent drop to the cellar stairs, Mostrasz mutters buzzing in my head, there my suspicions were confirmed. The egg remnants were scatters across the floor, it had indeed hatched, but where was its former occupant?
That question was quickly answered by Prince Wrathion himself, with a style is uniquely his. Yes, he certainly is a Black Dragon, yet he reminds me a little of the Tolvar. I was shocked to discover rather than a welpling he was closer to the size of Prince Anduin. The kid payed attention while in that egg of his. He knows what is at stake both for the world and for him personally but refuses to be nothing more than a dagger in another's hand. HE will control his fate, if he is to be his father's heir then he will take up the reins NOW. Rather a different approach than that of another Prince I know.
I admit I was rather pleased with Fahrad's dealing with Mostrasz...for a dragon he was arrogant and whiny...a strange combination. But then there are are not a great many dragons I have actually liked truth be told. Respected yes, as powerful beings, but actually LIKED on a personal level? Not so much. Prince Wrathion may end up one of the few. The kid has something...Guts for sure. He certainly has won over Fahrad, though I am sure the idea of being able to do something besides hanging around the manor keeping up the business for my Uncle doesn't hurt.
The problem with Dragons, Black dragons especially is that they can be so blasted CHARMING....and this one is a KID. It is like some kind of hard luck story come to life, certainly the type to grab a rogue's attention. Jobs like this make my fingers itch. An employer who offers you a job that is a true CHALLENGE? One that respects your skills enough to not dictate HOW you should achieve the goal only that you do? Oh yum...Even better when he rewards you with things you can actually USE, rather than junk. Sure he gave me a trigger happy baby sitter but hey, I can live with that.
Kaitou gave me a rather knowing look when I asked him if he had any updated maps of Gilneas. The two of us were soon talking routes with him favoring a land assault and I preferring heading in via the water. The information we had on Creed was sketchy at best. I could only hope Wrathion's man Zazzo had more updated reconnaissance.
Zazzo was about what I expected from a gnome mage. High strung, timid and not overly fond of rogues....however when he blithely informed me that I was the 12th assassin sent to take out Creed I was also sure that he has issues with counting, by this time I am sure the number is MUCH higher.
Gilneas was miserable. Overcast, rainy, with a pervading gloom. One would think I would love all the cover but this was a city of "dogs" and I don't mean the Worgen. Even before the curse the Gilnean's were know for their Mastiff hunters and I have seen how since the curse their sensitivity had become heightened. Slipping into this highly patrolled ruin would not be easy. After doing a little bit of scouting I decide on the water route, swimming in along the docks, then slipping up the stairs, jumping down into the canal, before making my way across the inner courtyard to a tower close to Creed. There I stopped to dry off, eat and observe my target.
The court yard where Creed was presiding still bore evidence of Gilneas' internal struggles. Stocks, guillotines, hitching posts as well as decaying corpses litter the area. In my mind's eye I made a mental map of each obstacle, each obstruction, it could mean the difference between failure and success. My preference is always for as quick a kill as possible.
Fighting immortals one on one is always a challenge. Partially because death is a foreign concept to them. Even as their last breath passes from their lips they can not conceive it is truly happening. For those of us to whom death is a constant companion, the dance for one more breath pushes us to focus, lest our short lives end even sooner. The advantage Immortals have is they have the opportunity to learn a great deal more than I could ever hope to in my short life span. The only true advantage I have is that most often they are so arrogant in their immortality they give me openings I could never dare. So it proved with Creed, while he might have been a dragon, he still fell to two good old fashion blades.
I had to laugh to myself at Fahrad's comment on my success. What rogue ANNOUNCES their attack? I might be married to a Paladin but I don't fight like one. Of course I took Creed unawares...that is what we DO. My guess is that Fahrad would have preferred to have been allowed to go after Creed himself, rather than staying locked down at the Manor protecting Wrathion. My poor cousin, your circumstances have little altered. Once more you must watch me ride away from a place that is no longer my home while you remain chained there by your own choices.
I have made no bones about my love of reading. It has gotten to the point that the Platewarer has decided I need a Kindle. The hope is that it will some how limit the number of physical books that enter our home so we can get rid of a few of the book cases...he is rather optimistic in my opinion. That being the case it never fails to shock me how LITTLE reading goes on within the Wow community. This past week when the Hour of Twilight patch dropped I was provided with endless hours of entertainment by nothing more than fellow players who had no clue what was going on because they could not be bothered to read any of the information provided OUTSIDE of the immediate game.
Here are some examples, all of which are completely serious and true. One individual could not understand why Blizzard named the patch in honor of the Twilight movies, that was "just taking the whole Pop Culture thing to far". Another told us all that at the end of the Raid Thrall was going to turn into the new Aspect of Earth because "secretly he had always wanted to be a dragon". Finally we have the individual who must be related to Wowcendor's Gogo guy, because he just couldn't understand why all the rogues in his raid wanted the chance to reset Hagara rather than just killing her outright. "It is all about the loot right?"
As one of my guild mates stated "I don't even read the quests, you expect me to read a short story to know what is going on?" Short stories, patch notes, novels, Magna, even cinematics, Blizzard has come up with a plethora of ways to extend their story lines and expand their character development. However the vast majority of them happen outside of the game itself. What this means is that the majority of players really don't know what is going or why. Even when things happen IN game, it doesn't necessarily help.
Take Thrall's personal motivations. Patch 4.2 started out with an extensive quest chain that did nothing more than look at Thrall's deepest desires. There is a belief that the most excruciating torture a person could ever endure is to have their deepest secrets expose to the world and that is what Thrall had happen. Yet the vast majority TOTALLY missed the significance of that. In the words of our friend the "GOgo guy" it was "all about the loot" and the rush to the end. Thrall's personal desire for peace, a family, a NORMAL life were lost as individual players imposed THEIR interpretation of his ambitions on to him. This frequently obliterates the actual story Blizzard is attempting to create.
Varian, Gorrosh, and Sylvanas are others that have under gone major lore changes outside of the game or at the very least have had the changes in their attitudes explained. Not to mention the alterations to the world itself in the precursor to the Cataclysm. Next year we will have Christie Golden's Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War Novel which will explain all about the destruction of Theramore and the discovery of Pandaria, something that has already been hinted at again outside the game in Charge of the Aspects by Matt Burns, Blizzards most recent official short story.
So does this really impact the average persons enjoyment of the game? That is open to discussion. Those of us who want to know will take the time to look for the actual information and I truly believe benefit from it. Our friend the Gogo guy, couldn't care less. Blizzard could name the final boss of the Mist of Pandaria "George the Bounce" and he wouldn't even notice unless said boss fails to drop his Tier helm. Now this isn't to say that there would not be a general out cry all over the forums, oh no, trolls spew forth much venom all the time. As to the knowledge it is based on being real or imaged? That is open to debate.
Blizzard has done what they can to at least get the information out there. Sometimes I wish all of it WAS found at least SOMEWHERE in the game. Something like expanding on the Higher Learning and Well Read Achievements with a "Modern History" or "Post Cataclysm Writings" that has books that gave a brief over view of what all had happened for those who may not have gone back and done the new quests or read the outside of game materials. Oh well, not everyone can be a bibliophile.
Well the patch is here and with it the long anticipated transmogrification. I actually started digging through my vast collection of past gear sets a while ago. As the best laid plans of mice and men have a tendency to go awry so have my grand intentions. Thanksgiving Day the Platewearer decided to sneak onto my blog and discovered I had over 15 partially competed posts. Between that and the gentle chiding of my guild mates I managed to get back to it and get at least THIS one finished for today.
I always knew which tier set I would be using as my primary transmog set. Tier 9. Or as the Platewearer refers to it, my "Dominatrix set". For some strange reason this is a guild favorite on Daraia, though I always wore the Wound Dressing with it. My daggers are no issue either as I still have my Dirk of the Night Watch and Steel Bladebreaker, both of which I have always loved the looks of. I think my fondness of this particular set has grown out of the fact that while wearing it I felt the most "Alliance". That and the colors went well with our guild's tabard.
Now I just have to figure out what to do about my sword, and axe. I have yet to really find one I like. While I have had ones over the years such as Vis'kag the Bloodletter, that I still possess, my fondness is more for the memories it invokes than for the esthetics of the actually weapon. I am afraid I tend to be rather old school with my weapons. I prefer them to look like some thing I would actually be able to USE rather than something that would knock me over if I attempted to carry them in real life. This tends to limit me rather severely. Though....if fist weapons become viable for combat again Calamity's Grasp WILL come out, that thing was one of the FEW fist weapons I thought look cool.
Void storage is going to be my new best friend though as I now have a place to put all these accumulated items. Somethings like Tier 8 I deleted with great glee but others like my old Nightslayer, Slayer and Bonescythe among others sure do take up a lot of room I would prefer to use for other things rather than shipping items back and forth between my various bank alts.
So what about the rest of you pack rats? Are you enjoying the freedom that this closet rummage is giving you? I know I sure am glad I get to actually get to keep some of my items now rather than be forced to decide what must be purged and what can be kept. The pixel memories are mine.
So we have been informed that our Tier 13 has the distinction of being inspired by the cape crusader because "A 'bat-themed' armor set for rogues seems like a no-brainer." Really? Come on guys. With the model a male blood elf it is hard to tell exactly how pointy the helm is. Let alone guess if the costume for females will more closely resemble Batgirl's than Batman's.
If I ignore the pop culture inspiration and just take the armor set as it for itself, it isn't bad. Browns, blacks and grays have always been my favorite color scheme for rogue armor. I also like the open handed design of the gloves. The bat heads on the shoulders look a little more like toxic murlocs to me though. The name of the set is not bad either "The Blackfang" sounds more like a spider than a bat but is well fitting of a rogue set.
With transmogrification coming does it really matter if you love or hate the new design? What we really care about is the set bonuses and it is still to early to see what those will be. So the Batman Theme song will be running through my head whenever I get a piece. I think I can resist the urge to macro in "Bam!" and "Pow!" (Yes, I know it is old school but that is always what I think of when I think of Batman, not the newer stuff.)
Now we just have to see what our Legendary daggers look like.
By happy circumstance Amazon saw fit to deliver my copy of "Wolfheart" by Richard Knaak early. I will be totally honest here and state that I was not waiting with baited breath by my door like I was for Christie Golden's "Thrall: The Twilight of the Aspects" or "The Shattering". It was not due to the subject matter. King Varian Wyrnn and the Worgen are certainly topics to inspire conversation and interest. Rather it was Knaak's track record when dealing with this type of subject matter.
To often, what the reader expects to be the focus of the book (BLIZZARD's Lore and crafted characters) are instead lost or over shadowed by Knaak's own creations. Surprisingly this was not the case with this book (UNLESS you count one specific character Knaak introduced in the "War of the Ancient's Trilogy") and Blizzard decided to include within current game play. Rather what Knaak does in this volume is spends the majority of the time focused on the back drop of the story (which is the current troubles in Night Elf society) and the title character becomes secondary until the very end.
Another major issue I had with this book was time line. I found it rather difficult to figure out exactly WHEN this book was to have taken place. It is obviously AFTER the Cataclysm and Malfurion and Tyrande's wedding. Gilneas has already fallen yet is not yet considered a part of the Alliance. THIS point is made abundantly clear. However the Council of Three Hammers has already been created or at least that is the impression given. What causes my confusion? Varian's attitude toward the Gilneans and King Genn in particular. Those who have done the the Worgen and Forsaken starting zones know that Stormwind send the 7th to assist Gilneas. If there were the tensions that Knaak eludes to how in the world would this have come about? There are other instances of timeline flow I will discuss later.
SPOILERS TO FOLLOW
Now to the specifics of the story.
The book begins with a rather disjointed attempt at laying out the cast of characters. The veteran commander attempting to protect Ashenvale from another invasion by the Horde. An Orc Sea Captain with a special cargo to deliver to his new Warchief for an audacious plan designed to bring the Alliance to its knees. The Worgen and their King trying to find a place in the world after years of isolation. Night Elf society as it attempts to deal with mortality and all the challenges that brings, the return of the Highborn, and hosting a gathering of the Alliance under its branches.
Several story lines or questions left hanging in game are answered or at least addressed in this book which is nice. There is some continuity between this book and Ms Golden's works. First Knaak deals with where Jerod Shadowsong has been all these years and exactly why he disappeared. (In game we first see him in Mt Hyjal as a prisoner of the Twilight Hammer, again it is hard to say when exactly in the time line that event would fall.) The subject of what became of Jerod's sister Maiev after the death of Illidan is also resolved, though her present whereabouts are a mystery. Mr Knaak also spells out WHY the Alliance, the Night elves specifically are turning to Stormwind, more importantly its troubled King during these turbulent times.
Varian's troubled past is again rehashed briefly along with his more recent difficulties regarding his son. With the help of the Worgen, he finds resolution to all the various traumas he has faced in his life. This grants the Alliance the leader they so desperately need and cementa the relationship between Gilneas and Stormwind forever. Knaak also takes the time to further explore the significance of Varian's Lo'gosh nick name.
The Highborn have returned with all their arrogance still intact. They can not understand why the other Night Elves continue to feel uncomfortable about using Arcane Magic. They have no problems with their ALLIES using it! Not only that but instead of thinking of comfort all any one wants to do is think about the trees and wild life! It is miserable! The younger ones chafe at each slight. Only the elders who understand their precarious position keep everyone in line. Then Highborn start turning up murdered just as the Alliance summit is about to start. Suspicion is ripe.
To add to the tensions Mulfurion has insisted that the Worgen of Gilneas be granted sanctuary in Darnassas until their fate can be determined by the rest of the Alliance members. He feels responsible for them. As a result of his decision to place the Druids of the Pack within a pocket of the Emerald Dream, they were later discovered by Arugal, thus the people of Gilneas became infected in the first place.
Further more Mulfurion and his wife are feeling their age. For a race that was once immortal, they are still very long lived. Death was once a rare thing brought on by foolishness or war, now they are coming to realize, it is becoming a more immediate part of their life. After 10,000 years, bones are starting to ache, wrinkles to appear and all those signs they have seen in the "younger races", especially the humans, are staring them in the face. The burdens of leadership weigh heavily on them.
Then Tyrande has a vision. While Mulfurion is unclear how it can come to fruition he pledges himself to assisting in bringing it about. In a seeming reversal of roles Tyrande is the one who heads off to war against the Horde and to protect Ashenvale against Garrosh, while Mulfurion is left to deal with a broken King Varian, along with a murderer stalking Darnassas.
Anduin seems to be the one of the few males who isn't given to self flagellation in this book...perhaps it is because he is still to young? Thankfully Knaak kept him as strong as Ms Golden did in The Shattering. It is Anduin defying his father, abandoning him to follow his calling and seek training with Velen that pushes Varian to the breaking point. Mulfurion takes advantage of the situation and sets Varion up. Forcing him to face his past, prejudices and inner fears as this is the only way he can ever truly heal and become whole once more.
Garrosh when he is seen again is rather two dimensional. Willing to do whatever it takes to show his "worthiness" to be Warchief. Believing if he could just manage to do what neither his Father nor Thrall accomplished he will then prove beyond a shadow of a doubt he DESERVES to be heir to their Horde and remove any lingering questions about his tarnished honor. Taking outrageous risks at times bring him victory but at great cost. Still rather single minded in his focus he continues to under estimate his opponents. When faced with the fact that his mid battle duel with King Varian has been interrupted, it is only the fact that his guards are willing to be executed rather than have him return to the fight that forces him to change direction.
Over all I have to give this book faint praise. While it wrapped up several loose ends, they were not necessarily done neatly. I had my suspicions about the identity about the "murderer" very early so even that came as no great shock. It served its purpose but not with any great depth.
The day has finally arrived. ALL of the minions are in school for the full day! Well not technically. Three of them have half days today, just to torment me, but the idea is there. Of course I get asked what I will do with all my "free time", only to pull out the three pages of tasks that have been waiting the wings for this day. Some are more traditional are around the house items while others are in game.
The summer months are a mixed blessing for a family full of gamers. With school no longer in session my boys suddenly had time to indulge in their own interests. As they have grown, this has increasing meant MMOs of their own. Jumpstart, Lego Universe, and Wizard 101, have joined WoW and Star Craft in our household. Free to Play games are wonderful for the budget at least. However they require a lot of computers.
Where in the past I had always been able to claim "MY" PC as personal property, that is no longer the case. Now the minions desire to play TOGETHER on their various MMOs. So not only was my play and writing time limited, at times I lost my PC completely, as they battled their way across the cosmos.
Of course like any "Evil Mom" game time got limited. The advantage they had was there are four of them to one of me. Add to that the weather this summer was more conducive to indoor activities than out. So despite myself I was often found going weeks with no more than a few hours of personal computer time in exchange for the illusion of minion harmony. It was fun watching each of them grow personally as gamers.
Gaming sure has changed. Especially computer gaming and the MMOs from when I was first introduced to the genre. My children have never known a time when it hasn't existed. My youngest has never known a time when WoW wasn't around. It is hard for us not to become jaded and cynical because we have been just so SPOILED over the years. We look back at the "Old Days" with our rose colored glasses but realize that things can't stay that way.
Looking back I see numerous blog posts started that I never found time to finish. My accomplishments in game are greatly behind where I usually am at this point in past expansions. However when looked at in the greater view I can't complain. My boys are with me only a short time. I will treasure the time spent with them this past summer and watching them grow and expand in their independence. Sure it meant that I personally had to take a back seat on my own plans and goals but that is what parents do isn't it? And now they are back in school. I can once again pick up the gauntlet and focus on my own projects. Once again I can hit the ground running and see where I end up, the road sure has been an interesting one so far.
Due to the reintroduction of a bad tempered Dragon, the tectonic plates of Azeroth have shifted, bulged and in some cases split. The ensuing disaster means that things are not what they use to be and this can result in much confusion. Unfortunately some didn't take this into consideration when discussing the Midsummer Holiday Fires. Many of the previously well known locations are now lost beneath water, fortifications or controlled by the opposing faction. What follows is (to the best of my knowledge) an updated list of the locations of ALL of the fires now available. Happy hunting!
Like a great many I took a furlough from Wow. It didn't start out by choice, then when I was able to come back it came as somewhat of a shock to realize it had been over a month. By this time real life had reached out and gotten its grip on more than just myself and the plate wearer but several others in our raid group. I was coming to realize that little in this expansion was keeping my attention unless I had my guildies to interact with while I was playing. (Mumble is my life line.) Furthermore I still really only wanted to play Dar.
Yeah, I had gotten my others to 85. I had even managed to get some long neglected lowbie alts almost there as well as start some others and level them...but by the time I was looking at doing the 80 to 85 grind AGAIN I just found I couldn't do it. After 6 years burn out had set in and it was time to take a step back. The hope being that with the patch my friends would all be energized and back which would help ME.
I'll be honest here. I AM looking forward to the return of ZA and ZG because I've always enjoyed both of those instances. The reworking of them looks fantastic. The way they worked the story line makes SENSE. However I have never been overly fond of Troll instances in general when it comes to the aesthetics of loot. I mean, come on, their stuff is just UGLY....most of the time knees are hanging out, you have a poorly painted board strapped to your face they call head gear, and dead animals complete the rest of the ensemble. *shutter*
Sure it is just a quick blip before the next batch of raid content but hopefully it will be enough to keep us energized. At least those of us who really ENJOY running 5 man content. Sadly I still am not pugging it, I much prefer an enjoyable run with guildies helping to gear up for raids and with all the Valor points those new instances are dishing out we may be able to get some of our newer people taken care of quickly.
Way back in July of last year I speculated about the changes Cataclysm might bring to some of the established Rogue organizations, not even realizing that an entirely new one was being formed right under our collective noses. The irony is that there is nothing subtle about the Gnomeregan Covert Ops. They state quite clearly what they are all about and wear their name with pride. However trying to discover any information about them is no easy task. The trick is that they hide in plain sight.
When High Tinker Mekkatorque put out the call for Operation Gnomeregan he quickly discovered that as a leader in exile, he didn't really have authority over anyone in the Alliance. In addition, much of his reconnaissance information came to him through the human filter of SI:7. Sure they got a lot of would be heroes to show up and volunteer to help, however in the end their efforts were unsuccessful. Mekkatorque needed to rethink his strategy on not only on how to retake his home city, but how to make it livable once again. So he started by looking for the best and the brightest in each of the fields he needed.
One of Mekkatorque's recruits was Kelsey Steelspark, a former operative of SI:7, who he made the head of GCO. Unlike her counterpart Mathias Shaw, Kelsey does not display her title, in fact she assumes the guise of a low level rogue trainer. It is only by paying close attention that her TRUE status is revealed. First notice her presence at the advisory table in New Tinkertown. Take a moment to listen to her conversation with the others and it is quickly clear she has the authority to request back up from political allies as well as order all those new gnome rogues around. Kelsey has undergone a couple of costume changes which lead to some additional confusion regarding her status early on. When she was first introduced in Beta she had a two handed sword leading the casual passerby to mistake her for a warrior, now she displays duel daggers.
Like Master Shaw, Kelsey had to create an organization completely from scratch, but used what she already knew worked in SI:7. However hers is one that has some very steep debts to pay at its very conception. The High Tinker wants an organization that will focus on the interests of the Gnomish people verses SI:7's more militarily advantageous intelligence directives under King Varian. For the past many years the Gnomes have lived in exile, harbored by their neighbors the Dwarves at Ironforge. Kelsey needs to build on getting the information her people need to retake their former home, rebuild relationship with their once trusted allies, as well as further the knowledge of the their recently discovered history. This is no easy task to accomplish in the middle of a toxic clean up site.
With the recent death of Magni, and almost Dwarven Civil War, many Gnomes found themselves caught in the middle of what was best for the Alliance as a whole and them as a people. The newly created Council of Three Hammers and the Gnomish people don't share the comfortable relationship once felt in the halls of Ironforge. Many of the Gnomish citizens have been replaced by Dark Iron refugees, this could potentially create distrust and resentment. Muradin while known to the Gnomes has been away so long and through so much that past relationships can no longer be counted. Falstad is another relative unknown as the Wildhammer clans have pretty much kept to themselves and don't usually cooperate even with each other. Moira on the other hand has proven herself to be hostile towards the Gnomish people, even imprisoning some of them shortly after her return to Ironforge during her attempt to cement her claim to the throne. The need for GCO is very clear.
Kelsey's second in command is another gnome by the name of Jarvi Shadowstep, it is he who works most closely with the dwarves and gains their assistance cleaning out some of the remaining troubles on the surface around Gnomeregan. In exchange the Gnomes offer equal aid to their Dwaven "cousins" with their Troll problem just outside Kharanos. Jarvi's larger team of operatives are in the trenches getting dirty and building on those former trust relationships. In typical gnomish fashion this involves a great many devices which make you question your safety and sanity. The majority of the Gnomeregan covert ops personnel just go by "Covert Ops Agent" but a few have names and some interesting stories to tell if you are lucky enough to find them.
Delber Cranktoggle is responsible for the "The Ultrasafe Personnel Launcher", as a rogue you are generally ok as we have feather fall...all others? Lets just say bodies falling seems to be the order of the day with this device. Much fun can be had however if you enjoy projecting yourself all over the map. If you manage to survive (or not chicken out and just walk) you may discover his colleagues Slamp Wobblecog and Snevik the Blade. Snevik believes in equality for all gnomes and that if everyone saw the world from the gnomish point of view all fighting would cease. Interesting theory, you need to see how it works on trolls for yourself.
The only other named member of Gnomeregan Covert Ops that I have been able to locate is Ration Officer Flexgear. Unlike the other members of GCO, Flexgear is not working near either Gnomeregan or Kharanos. In fact, Flexgear is not even in the Eastern Kingdoms. She and her small band of operatives, who consist of one male and two other females, are located at small outpost just north of Land's End Beech in Tanaris called Steelspark Station.
Steelspark? Where have we heard THAT name before? Oh that is right, she is the the head of GCO. For such a young organization to have managed to already have gotten an outpost in Tanaris is impressive. Why are they there? Uldum. Remember what the Gnomes discovered about themselves in Northrend? That they were created by the Titans? Now suddenly more Titan artifacts are turning up and where the Dwarves were looking for their history, the Gnomes are interested in the technology. Kelsey and her crew need to be there to make sure that the scientist and engineers report back to the High Tinker, not only that, if anything goes wrong, someone needs to report that as well. It will be interesting to see how this new group plays out but so far I have been impressed with Ms Steelspark and her people. They are a nice addition to rogue organization lore.
By now if you have a max level Alliance character you are familiar with the quest chain in Stormwind that sends you off to the Twilight Highlands. For those who are not, you get the opportunity to spend a little quality time with Prince Anduin Wrynn wandering around uncovering a plot by the Twilight Hammer. What many people may NOT realize is that even after you complete the chain you can go back to visit Anduin at anytime and take him about Stormwind. I like to think he enjoys these visits as he always greets me with "I thought you had forgotten me!"
One of the things I always enjoyed about Blizzard games was their lore or "story telling". They make compelling characters and Anduin is one that has a special place in may heart, not just because he is so close in age to my own sons. It was as the direct result of Anduin that I made a rather enlightening discovery. In Cata some of the quest givers will respond to you differently based upon your class and/or gender.
When the Plate wearer went to do My Son, the Prince, Anduin greeted him by saying "Your a Paladin? Highlord Fordragon was, as well. He taught me a great deal. I...I still miss him." This got me asking around and sure enough Harrison Jones is extremely flirtatious with the females, while the males are treated more like lackeys. So I wanted to see what more I could find...which lead to a problem. With Blizzards new questing design you can't just go and find the chain that you want the lore for and do it. Instead you have to pretty much do the entire zone. And in some cases, you have to do it on a specific race. It has been extremely frustrating.
Places you once could go for accurate information like books, and websites such as Wowwikki and even Wowhead may not be up to date either, as they have completely revamped old content and are continuing to do so. On one hand I like this as individuals we once considered lost in time are coming back into prominence, like Commander Jarod Shadowsong, Garona Halforcen, and of course his confused Druid self Malfurion Stormrage. Players often have a better idea who the major figures are, what roles they play in the greater picture and how they relate to the over all theme of the game. On the down side, the only variation you have from character to character maybe in how the npc greets you. You no longer have as much freedom of movement within a zone, especially in relation to gaining access to specific factions.
For a Lore monger like myself, I have found I often out level a zone before I complete the quests in it. This with out using Heirloom pieces. Add on guild perks and you can find yourself struggling to stay "level appropriate" and not find yourself locked out of some phased area.
Phasing is another thing I am finding myself loving and hating at the same time. I love that it changes the environment so that you see your actions impacting the world around you. It helps to advance the story, that "lore" I love so much. At the same time it can be such a pain in the butt when you are trying to do simple things like pick herbs, mine or just help out a friend when they are in one phase and your in another. Northrend was a big enough bear, now we have the entire world covered in phasing, the only zones I can think of that DO NOT have phasing in them are Silithus (because they haven't gotten around to it yet), and the Draenei and Blood Elf zones (because they are still tied into the Burning Crusade expansion).
Cata has been such a mixed bag for me. There are some things that I have greatly enjoyed and others that I question what they were thinking. We all have those times I suppose. Perhaps it says a lot that beyond the dungeon redesigns one of the things that they did this expansion that I was happy about was they finally updated poor Anduin.
Anduin has been my role play companion while I do my cooking daily, as well as occasionally accompanying me on blackmailing expeditions. I had always felt sorry for him when he looked like every other snot nosed little kid running around Stormwind, yet he was stuck up in that Keep with Miss Congeniality herself. At least he had Bolvar to balance things out. Now he has Mr Split Personality as a house mate, I figure the least I can do is give him a break and let him spread his wings from time to time. Auntie Jania can only let him visit so often since the last time he took a road trip he managed to get kidnapped. I can understand his Father's over protective nature, being a parent myself but I would prefer that the next King of Stormwind be sane. So each day I do my small part by giving him a little break from his royal duties of keeping an eye on his Dad. Taking him out amongst the general populace and inviting him to just be a kid. I'm sure he would appreciate more than lessons on how to take money from the auctioneer or picking locks. Though those are VERY useful things to know.
Each guild has its own personality, you can see it not just in their tabards but in how they relate to one another in their speech. With some of the new features Blizzard has added guilds whose chat consisted of nothing more than "Anyone want to do a heroic?" or "Can anyone craft X?" have become a virtual ghost town. My own guild has such a diverse make up that our guild chat is one of the things I love best about it. We have some members as young as 10 (yes they play with their parents), all the way up to individuals who count their grandchildren into the double digits. This leads to some pretty diverse conversations.
Recently I mentioned how I have some guild mates who are a tad obsessed with non combat pets. (For those of you who are wondering yes I did complete United Nations.) This leads to many hours spent doing nothing more than hanging out in damp caves awaiting the spawn of rare shale spiders or hunting foxes in Tol Barad. (I would know little about these obsessions. No, I don't want to discuss my own hours farming little known reputations or looking for some elusive stone drake in Deepholm thank you very much.) It is our chatter that allows us all to think we are still sane, or at least all slipping into insanity together.
During the day time college students who are between classes, home schooled students, stay at home moms and our over seas contingent (both military and civilian) generally control chat. This means topics can fluctuate wildly from what works best for the teething infant to foreign currency and shipping rates. Most often though it is full of silly role play in which guild members ambush each other while doing dailys. Druids accused of stealing nodes have been known to leave hawk chalk on their victims heads while flying away with the spoils. Unknown rogues may go riffling through unprotected pockets while the unsuspecting are surveying the latest offerings at the auction house only to announce that "they can't afford to purchase anything with only pocket lint and an empty wallet."
Later in the afternoon we get a little more "high brow" as one of our guild members is well known for spouting off little known facts he has discovered while reading or watching the history channel. Often introducing his topic with things like "I will be tank tonight for whoever can tell me who was the first President of the United States." That particular one brought about the conversation of how the United States formed ITS government which lead into what is going on in our world today and how some nations are attempting to reform their governments.
Most often though we fall into discussions of food. I swear we all have gained at least 10 pounds from guild chat alone. At times it is worse than the food network. It has gotten so bad we had to outlawed the topic during raids to prevent distractions. Have you ever had a conversation where you described a country using nothing but food? I have....
So what about all of you? Is your guild chat something you enjoy or is it just white noise you never even notice? Does it even exist anymore in the modern age of the Dungeon Finding Tool? Do you miss it? Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of role play to bring it back....at least for us.
Do you remember why you chose the server you play on as your home base? In all honesty it has been over six years so the exact reasons for me are pretty fuzzy. I think the platewearer and I chose Eldre'Thalas because of the ones that were available to us at the time it shared our time zone. Or so we thought. Recently we have been experiencing some crippling latency whenever we attempt to play, especially during peek hours.
Normally when something like this happens you go through the check list.
1. Is there anything running in the background on my PC?
2. Is my hardware having any issues? (Check network card, router, modem, etc.)
3. Is my server having issues?
But these were all coming up fine.
Another common issue people then look at is their service provider. We happen to use AT&T. Since World of Warcraft uses AT&T data centers as their hosts we should have awesome speeds. What could be the issue then?
So we decided to dig a little deeper and discover exactly where our server was located, then trace the connection to see what could possibly be going on between here and there. Low and behold our server was NOT located in the East Coast as we had thought but in Los Angeles, California, WAY across the country. Well THAT might have something to do with it. Sure enough when we log into a server out of New York our connection was SINGING....
So that leaves us with a bit of a delema. If we are on a closer server our latency issues disappear, but HOME is Eldre'Thalas. If it were just the two of us to consider, the faster connection speeds would be the deciding factor, but we have the guild as well. When you have 100+ depending on you, and you have been leading said gang of misfits for almost six years, to just walk away...Add to that the cost of a server transfer, because lets face it, the thought of abandoning Daraia at this point is unthinkable to me. The decision is not so cut and dried.
If you are having latency issues and none of the previously mentioned items seem to fix it check into where your server is located because in 2010 several of them in the US were moved. Then check your connection, places like Speedtest.net can give you a concrete answer as to wither or not your connection is the issue. We were also able to find some help on Wow Interface. (Sorry we only looked at PC stuff not Mac.)
At this point I am just gritting my teeth and bearing with it. Hopefully things will improve in the near future. If not, if Eldre'Thalas is once again offered free server transfers we may be seriously considering a guild relocation.
No I am not referring to the international organization run out of New York but rather the guild achievement which has become a thorn in my side. Why do you ask? Because of a tiny little bug.
Originally the achievement was designed to look at every member in your guild who has earned revered reputation or "Veteran" rank. It would then take all their combined unique exalted reputations and count them towards the achievement. However at the moment it is only counting the the one member with the MOST exalted reputations.
Why is this a problem? Well the reward for this particular achievement is a non combat pet. The Dark Phoneix Hatchling. Personally I am not that much of a pet collector despite that fact that I have well over 100 of the little guys. HOWEVER, there are other members of my guild who are more, shall we say...dedicated? borderline obsessive? down right fanatical? when it comes to non combat pets. One of them just happens to be my fellow officer and mount farming partner.
With 85 different reputations in this game this achievement seems deceptively simple until you break it down into what ones you can actually obtain. First of all you have to subtract the ones that are only available to your faction.
So that means that each faction has nineteen reputations specific to them. So scratch them out of your 85. From there you can further remove the Bloodsail Buccaneers, the Syndicate, as well as the Magram and Gelkis Centaur clans. Why? Because these four only reach honored or just over in their reputations. Meaning they can never count toward the exalted.
Then you have the factions where you have to chose sides. The Aldor or the Scryers? The Oracles or the Frenzyheart Tribe? Sure you can reach exalted rep with them both at separate times but all that counts is the reputations you happen to have AT THAT TIME. Two more off the list.
Well Dar that still has us at 60. That is STILL plenty of wiggle room. Right? Well not quite, you see some on that list are old. Like Zul' Gurub, which doesn't exist anymore. So you can also subtract the Zandalar Tribe unless you happened to have gotten that reputation before hand. The same goes for the Shen'dralar in Dire Maul. While the quest books still drop, some of the items needed to complete those quests like the Blood of Heroes are no longer in the game, leaving you rather stuck since they were all Bop items you can't buy on the auction house.
From there you have the reputations which can only be gained INSIDE raids. The Hydraxian Waterlords for example is a complete nightmare as once you get past a certain point you only get few hundred points of reputation for each boss kill. This means it will take MONTHS of FULL CLEARS of Molton Core to reach exalted. Then there is the Brood of Nozdormu out of the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj (AQ 40). These guys you start out at Hated so it takes quite a while to do a complete reversal, again many full clears as killing trash will only get you to neutral, after that it takes boss kills and quests.
Thankfully by the time we went through the Dark Portal we were able to start earning reputation by killing just about anything in a raid. So the Ashtonque Deathsworn of Black Temple, The Scales of Sands of Mt Hyjal, The Violet Eye of Karazhan and the more recent Ashen Verdict of Ice Crown Citadel just required hours of time spent killing monsters along with bosses. If you aren't a raider however that means you could be missing six reputations, a hefty chunk.
There was a dark cloud to this as well. There are also some factions who you can only get reputations with INSIDE a dungeon. This was an idea that was played around with by the now basically defunct Argent Dawn. Lower City, the Keepers of Time, Cenarion Expedition and the Sha'tar in Outland all require you to crawl around in SPECIFIC dungeons if you wanted to build reputation with them. In Northrend and now back in the old world they have loosed things so that if you just wear a tabard showing who you support while in dungeons of specific levels you can gain reputations with the faction of your choice. At this point both Ramkahem and the Guardians of Hyjal force you to do this to get to exalted with them.
This leaves us with the neutral factions who think we have nothing better to do than either grind for repeatable turn in quests or keep coming back day after day for tortuous daily quests. Of the turn in variety we have the Cenarion Circle in Silithus, the Timbermaw in Winterspring, and the Consortium in Outland. Then you have the Sporeggar of Zangarmarsh who either have you kill the same mobs over and over again or do endless turn ins. Take your pick. The torturous daily quests were first introduced by the Sha'tari Skyguard and Ogri'la. It was perfected by the Shattered Sun Offensive, who then passed all their knowledge on to the Kalu'ak and the Sons of Hodir. That knowledge seems to only grow as the years go on.
This leaves us with just a few stragglers. The Thorium Brotherhood, who now have a slightly more pronounced presence this expansion but you can still only find the higher reputation items inside Molton Core or via mining the few Dark Iron nodes found outside. Unless your a Rogue or manage to sweet talk one, your going to have a hard time getting past honored with Ravenholdt as it requires pick pocketed Locked Boxes. Darkmoon Faire is only in select locations once a month and unless you are a Scribe getting the Darkmoon Faire Decks you need to gain favor with them will cost you a pretty penny.
Finally we have the Steamwheedle Cartle. Now before Cataclysm there was a fairly easy way to gain reputation with these guys inside Dire Maul, as part of the tribute run. As they are still part of the Insane in the Membrane achievement I will assume you can still do it but I haven't been able to verify that yet. Booty Bay, Everlook, Gadgetzan, and Ratchet are all part of this goblin cartel (not to be confused with the group that joined with the Horde). Their reputations are unique even though they all work for the same trade prince. Think of it as getting in good with each separate store manager for the chain. The others might put in a good word for you but each of them would like to see for themselves what you have to offer. (Typical goblins.)
So where does that leave us? If you happen to have some of the old reputations like Argent Dawn, Zandalar Tribe and Shen'dralar as well as having the benefit of being a Rogue so you have Ravenholdt, you would have the nice amount of Fifty eight reputations available to you to do this achievement. That is right, fifty eight out of fifty five. In other words if you DO NOT happen to have ANY of the old reputations, you will not be able to get this achievement until one of two things happens. Either Blizzard fixes the bug or they add additional factions. Either way, all you non combat fanatics are going to have to do the one thing you hate, which is wait.
Thankfully for my peace of mined I have all of them, I am actually sitting at fifty three exalted reputations at the moment with my guild anxiously awaiting me to get my last two. The question is just what I will hit exalted with first. I just pray I can get it done within the next day or two so I can have some peace. I have been slacking on my dungeon crawls to focus on some other things much to their great frustration.
I do A LOT of fishing. Not because I find it relaxing or am an avid angler. Rather it is because, as I have stated over and over again, I am cheap and fishing generally provides me with buff food for little more than time. (Beyond that I hear the Omega 3's are great for you.) When I was a skinner, my diet tended more towards the red meats (Ravager Dog or Warp Burger anyone?) Even after that I wouldn't turn my nose up at a good Mega Mammoth Meal, but I hated leaving behind the evidence of my presence. Fishing doesn't do that.
The irony of this expansion is that very few of our best foods do not come from water sources. Even those you have to hunt down (Baked Turtle, Seasoned Crab, Salted Eye from sea eels and Crocolisk Au Gratin) live in or near the water. Yeah, you could have a Basilisk Liverdog or the Grilled Dragon, but sadly the Dragons mostly give you scales when you skin them and really who wants to eat LIVER? You can make it look like a hot dog all you want but it is STILL liver.
Now beyond all the foods already named there are others we can specifically fish up. The fresh water Boiled Mountain Trout from Mt Hyjal's streams and lakes. Lavascale Fillet and Lavascale Minestrone both come from fishing the lava pools in Deepholm. Skewered Eel is made using Fathom Eels which can be found along the coast of Uldum or Tol Barad making it one of the more plentiful sources out there for us.
There is one difficulty with all these, they do require you to also know how to COOK. However if you have never managed to learn this basic skill you may still be in luck. Many guilds are pursuing their guild achievements Set the Oven to "Cataclysmic" and Time to Open a Restaurant. So you might be able to persuade another guild member to cook them all up for you, since unlike the Wrath recipes they don't require any special spices. Even better if you state you are working on the That's A Lot of Bait achievement. (Of course this only works if your guild actually CARES about the achievements and the feasts they unlock.) Unlike the Fish Feasts of Wrath these new feasts cater to our most desired stat, like the Fortune Cookies.
For some of you even all of this is not enough persuasion to consider taking up fishing. There have to be additional perks like Non Combat pets or mounts. Well, if you haven't learned by now they already have those in game and have had them for years. There is one overwhelming problem however. The fish all seem to know that when I catch them I plan on eating them. So when it comes to the more "vanity" items you get from fishing, I can't seem to catch any of them to save my life. Now this is only true for Daraia, none of my alts seem to have this curse, but Giant Sewer Rat?, Mr Pinchy? and the very bane of my mount collection the Sea Turtle? They all have played least in site for YEARS while my alts somehow manged to pick them up not even trying. I have some information for you all though, I do know for a fact that you can at least get the Sea Turtle from fishing the high end fishing pools. Tol Barad Eel pools. I love you.