Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Warlords Story

Books and lore, books and lore, gotta read me some books and lore.
Well, we've had a bunch of weeks with our shiny Warlords of Draenor. As the world gets rid of its holiday hangover and buckles down for a new year, I thought it was time to look at one of my favorite parts of Warcraft: the story!

All things considered, I think the narrative is doing pretty well here. There are things I'm uncertain of but ought to get to the bottom of with a bit more questing/raiding. There are things I'd like to see happen and things that I'd rather hadn't.  Let's hope I can edit all this into some semblance of order:

The following are some observations I've made in the past few weeks

Why Do Orcs Pick Such Crappy Places to Live?
Even in a place as nice as Nagrand, orcs pick the one barren hillock to settle.
I remember reading in one novel or another Thrall's explanation of why he chose the lands of Durotar to settle as orcland when he came to Kalimdor. He felt the barren land would make his people harder, tougher. The desert there would keep his people from becoming spoiled by luxury.

Personally, I always thought that fertile grounds, capable of providing good nutrition and plentiful things like water would be ideal for making a community grow strong.  But now I see his concepts of "people-hardening" has precedent. Why the heck would anybody settle in Frostfire Ridge? Why would you even try to exist in a place like Gorgrond? At least the Shadowmoon orcs picked a nice region to be in. 

Honestly, I'm a bit disappointed. After seeing Karabor, Shattrath at its height, and the Draenei villages in Shadowmoon Valley and Talador, I went looking to find the classic orc settlements...and didn't find any. There are villages in SMV that are inhabited by single rarespawns. There are settlements in Nagrand that look more like war camps than anything. Grommashar, in Nagrand where Gary Hellscream finally meets his end, seems like the most thriving orc settlement, but it's a series of caves and mud pits with some pointy-stick fences and a big throne for Gary at one end. Yuck.

The other thing to remember here is that when the Draenei came and settled in the lovely spaces of Shadowmoon Valley and Talador, they just moved into unoccupied spaces. There was no "war" for land attrition with any other indigenous race of Draenor. They just settled in what was free. Which is to say that the various orc clans always loved settling in the nastiest holes they could find. 

Who Isn't Accounted for Yet?

With all the classic lore figures making their appearances, I'm keenly aware of the ones not really accounted for yet.

A problem: Garonna in our universe is always pictured as a perky manic
pixie girl of an orc. When in fact, she should be old enough to be
Thrall's mom. And Thrall is no spring chicken himself anymore.
Garona Halforcen- a female orc assassin tried to kill Khadgar when he was pressing the Shadow Council in SMV. She failed but vanished in a puff of smoke with a blown kiss, so that HAD to be Garona, though she was not explicitly identified as such (but hey, WoWpedia says it was her). Garona is one of the key actors in this era. If that wasn't her, then she can't be too far away. In fact, there is speculation based on data diving of patch 6.1 that Garona is our fabled "legendary" follower. I have mixed feelings about this. Garona was always sympathetic to the enemies of the Shadow Council. However, when push came to shove, she also fell to the "programming" Gul'dan put in her head. And she killed King Llane. Our Khadgar is here and hopefully has learned from the last time this happened, but still... 

Medivh - One must recall some specifically obtuse lore on this point. At the time that orcs on Draenor were getting corrupt and pushing through a portal and into the Blasted Lands of Azeroth, Medivh was possessed by the ultimate Legion bad guy, Sargeras and was the larger architect of the original Dark Portal pushing back on the other side. Just because the orcs on alt-Draenor didn't go looking for alt-Azeroth doesn't mean that Sargeras/Medivh of Alt-Azeroth isn't sitting there in the swamps, conjuring a portal of his own RIGHT FRICKIN' NOW.  If you want to see what I'm talking about, go visit The Opening of the Dark Portal at the Caverns of Time and you can relive the crazy. If Medivh were to poke up somewhere in Draenor, he wouldn't be able to hide the presence of Sargeras. We players are supposed to know this history. A Medivh appearing in Draenor would quickly move to the top of our enemies list.

Where are the spa- I
mean dimension ships? 
A'dal and the other Naaru - We've met two Naaru in Draenor so far-- Ku're and Ka're-- and I don't know where either of them went after we saved them from Awful Things. Maybe inside Karabor? They just don't say.

Those two Naaru were always accounted for in our Azeroth- they were Naaru who flew with the Draenei when they came to the planet roughly 200 years before. The timing in our world is a little nebulous, but again, just because the orcs didn't commit genocide in alt-Draenor doesn't mean Tempest Keep, the Arcatraz, Mechanar, Botanica ... and the Exodar are not en route even now.

It's been noted (And there's even a follower mission, "Finding Faralahn,") that the landmass we called Netherstorm of Outlands has not been accounted for in this Draenor yet. I'd strongly bet we're going to find it at some point and, well...I hope I'm there when the naaru ships blink into this existence. The naaru primarily responded to the presence of the Burning Legion, I believe, and the Legion is here. Wouldn't that be something if the Naaru appear and the army it needs to route the Burning Legion in this universe (namely, us!) is waiting and read to go? That would be a hell of a thing, though it would leave our Burning Legion still out there for future adventures.

The Titans - This one is a toughie. The Titans are deeply wrapped up in the lore of our Azeroth. Everywhere we go in the past three expansions reveals more of their handiwork. But when we travelled to Outlands, to the best of my memory, no trace of the Titans was found there. However, there have been "Titan Chambers" found in parts of alt-Draenor (Spires of Arak, in particular) and... well... "Titan" is a really specific word in Warcraft lore. It's hard for me to overlook this. Who knows what direction this could travel in. The Titan chambers have been underground nooks being plundered by Arakoa adherents. It's hard to say they "look like" Titan constructions, though we should damn well be experts on the matter by now. But there is a whiff of familiarity if you ask me.

Storytelling Highlights: 
Look out, Blacky. You're in for it now!
I love the cinematics in this expansion. In particular is the scene where Yriel and Durotan are fighting Blackhand, Durotan throws her his axe, she pops some paladin glory and together they bash Blackhand into a wet bag of bones and meat. (And he still gets away...)

I honestly really liked the idea of making our characters the "commander" of Lunarfall. Our characters deserve that sort of recognition in the universe we've been a part of for so long. It was a small bit of storytelling, but counts for a lot in terms of our investment with this story.

Garrosh Hellscream had a fitting end at the Stones of Prophecy. I'd have rather done him myself, but still, Baldy deserved the moment as well.

Storytelling Problems:
There are a few places where they ball has been dropped and I wish I understood more.

I had a good chuckle when I first spotted Oggy in his very
vanilla-looking Doomarmor. I'm still more used to seeing
Thrall hang out in that gear.
Ogrim Doomhammer? - I have no idea why Blackhand knocked that guy dead during the battle of Shattrath City. A few quest points before, I was looking through a spyglass, watching him organize the troops to go out and kick (my) butt. The next thing I know, he's getting slapped around by his own boss and I get the feeling I'm supposed to feel bad about that, though I couldn't tell you why. I smell an attempt to make faction parity with the death of Maraad, which happened in the same battle, but they really blew it.

The Arrakoa Thing? - I'm so unclear as to what is going on with the Arrakoa. Maybe that's not entirely true. The Arrakoa have a significantly retarded caste system. The lower castes are revolting against the top castes that seem to be called Adherents. I guess I'm just not sure why the Alliance or the Horde should care very much about this. It seems like an internal matter for the Arrakoa to straighten out. And even if this is a sort of side adventure to the main story, I get some idea that there are deeper things going but I don't understand those either. And... am I reincarnating Arrakoan gods and heroes? Is one of them Anzu? I killted of Anzu 192 times in Setthyk Halls before I got my Raven Lord mount and I'm still bitter about it taking that long. I don't know why I'd want to bring him back here. Who is Sethys? What? Where? Huh?

Whither Saberon? - I have a very conjecture-based article in development that talks a lot about the Saberon. But of all the sentient races in Draenor, the one that surprises me the most is the Saberon. And they are only surprising when you ask the question, "Where did they come from?" because there was no trace of cat people in Outlands. Although Leorajh is my favorite garrison follower, the Saberon aren't even particularly interesting. They are just feral cave dwellers... who... I dunno what they do. Act catty?

Except for Leo my two saberon followers, not one interaction with these people has gone beyond, "You stole some of our stuff, so I'm gonna pound you into tomorrow and take it back." Or... "You bothered my Arrakoa friend (why is he my friend? ARRRGHH!) so I'm gonna pound you into tomorrow."

Last Thought

So, with Patch 6.1 on the horizon, the possibilities for story here are full of potential. I seem to recall Blizzard responding to hostilities that this expansion was another major orc arc with yet another Hellscream as the final boss of the story by saying that the final big bad of the expansion wasn't necessarily going to be an orc at all. HA-ha! Take that, naysayers!  But it does point to a reversal of story expectations at some point as well. Moving the Burning Legion into the forefront of enemies is a pretty logical thing to do.  I have another expectation: that Grommash and his big nasty orc buddies are mostly hanging out in the presently locked up Tanaan Jungle, and that the whole zone could turn into a raid. Heheh... imagine pushing back to that Dark Portal we wrecked in the introductory adventure and Medivh is sitting there, surrounded by Warlord bodies going, "What!? They were getting on my nerves!" 

1 comment:

  1. Has everyone forgotten the lengths we went to to stop the Arrakoa, in BC, from resurrecting their gods???? Yet now were are openly helping them...