Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Know Your Rogue Lore: Asira Dawnslayer

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 those of you who may be interested in replicating her look for transmogrification purposes.  She is using a pair of Uhn'agh Fash, the Darkest Betrayal off of  Cho'gall in Bastion of Twilight.  Her helmet is the Deadly Gladiator's Leather Helm and the rest is a recolored Ruthless Gladiator's set, however her boots seem to be the plate version not leather.  Her cloak come from completing the quest in Ulduar "All Is Well that Ends Well" and delivering the Reply-code Alpha to Rhonin in Dalaran.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Old Servers and "New Players"

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.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Divided Loyalties

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.

To be continued...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

When lore isn't covered in game.

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.