Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bird Brains: What's Going on in the Spires of Arak?

Skyreach, in the tippy-top of the Spires of Arak
I've run several characters through the Spires of Arak now but had all sorts of problems really getting the details of the conflict there worked out in my head. Honestly, I like the Arakoa and I appreciate their history being expanded in Warlords of Draenor. But it's not been easy.

So, today, dear readers, I'm prepared to tackle all this Arakoa lore and maybe figure out why we should care.

The Gist
The real problem today in Draenor is that a severe caste system has sprung up among the Arakoa that has moved to a point of genocide. Whatever the reasons for this are, I think we should all agree that genocide is bad, okay. And that putting an end to genocide broadly falls within the range of things that heroes like us would work towards. To that end, we are faced with defeating the Adherents of Rukhmar in order to save the mangled, cursed brethren we find in the lower forest.

How Did All This Start?
Way way back a long time ago, there were three eternal bird beings: Rukhmar was a free-spirited happy demigod, Sethe was a nasty thing full of jealousy for Rukhmar. Anzu was a deity known for his cunning. Sethe tried to get Anzu to assist in taking down Rukhmar, but tricky Anzu pulled a double-cross that led to Sethe undoing. With her dying breath, Sethe uttered a curse on the world to cause it to rot in shadow. Anzu bravely consumed Sethe in an attempt to contain this curse, but there were two problems. First, a little bit of the curse got out and fell on the area of Spires known as Sethic Hollow. That land was left bereft and any Arakoa setting foot in there receives Sethe's curse. Secondly, Anzu was warped and wracked with pain from the curse that he contsined. Soon after, he retreated to "a place of shadow" that seems like suspended animation in order to heal. Rukhmar, was horrified, seeing what happened to Anzu and ran the hell away. She stayed gone until Patch 6.1.

Making Things Worse
Some time later was the great King Terokk of the Arrakoa. To this point, Sethe Hollow had been avoided and the Arrakoa looked mostly like the tall strong versions we see running around today. It's not stated why, but the priest class of the Arrakoa disliked Terokk  and overthrew him, breaking his wings, killing his daughter, and throwing the Ming and his followers into Sethe Hollow. They fell prey to the curse of Sethe but Terokk  rallied what followers he could and led them away into the forest to live as best they could.

This created a dichotomy in Arrakoan society. The uncursed ones up at the top of the spires were ruled by the priests and became increasingly hostile towards the bent ones in the ground. They called themselves Adherents of Rukhmar, apparently finding example in the way Rukhmar felt such horror for the cursed ones. They periodically throw bird men they don't like down into Sethe Hollow and firm pogroms to kill as many cursed as possible. Recently, they have found secret Apexis technology to create heat lasers to shoot at the cursed on the ground. And then we come in.

Terokk  himself led the cursed for a long long time, but became increasingly desperate to lift the curse and started acting irrationally. His followers coaxed him into a version of the same shadow slumber Anzu is in because I guess that was a better for everybody involved.

Why This All Might Be a Little Confusing
This story of ours has some clear heroes and villains, but when we players explored Outland in Burning Crusade, any of these characters we encountered turned into adversaries. Sethe did not appear, but her followers were in Sethek Halls dungeon in Auchindoun. Anzu was reincarnated in there, and perhaps warped by Sethe's followers, immediately attacks us. An Avatar of Terokk  attacks us in Shattrath City. Rukhmar is not seen in the shattered Outland.

In WoD, somebody suggests bringing Anzu and then Terokk  back to help fight the Adherents, and my immediate reaction based on memories of those guys in Outland was, "Uhhh, I don't think that's a very good idea." 

Current Arakoan Objectives
One of these is Reshad and one is Iskar, but
I'd be hard pressed to tell you which is which.
There are two current leaders of the Arrakoa Outcasts, Iskar and Reshad. These two are on good terms and act with respect towards one another, but still have different views of how to come through the genocide. Iskar wants to bring back the heroes of old to fight for them. Reshad doesn't think the old heroes were strong enough then and won't be strong enough now and wants to promote new heroes.

We try it Iskar's way and accidentally get Sethe resurrected while bringing Anzu back and have to deal with that. Anzu is weakened to the point of being no good in a fight anymore. Once we get Terokk  back, he immediately goes to have a warm-up fight with Kargath Bladefist-- and fails. So that plan doesn't work out either.

But those two wise-guys suggest enlisting a younger primal deity called Ka'alu and her Dread Ravens to help. Reshad talks her into it and we ride Ka'alu into a final battle in the upper spires. We destroy the Apexis technology and then Ka'alu drops us (and four friends) on Skyreach so we can murder the Adherent leaders and Rukhmar's son who seems to be hanging out with them.

By the end of this campaign, the players have become one of the new heroes to the Outcast Arakoa. We have defeated the Adherents and made it safe (or at least, a lot safer) for the Outcasts who may, in fact, be able to return to Skyreach. In short, we have saved the day.

The One Thing I'm Not Sure About
The biggest bird returns.
The return of Rukhmar in Patch 6.1. Rukhmar was charactereized as a nice, happy-go-lucky primal deity back in her heyday, so it doesn't immediately follow that she should show up in our lives as a world boss to be destroyed. It's hard to link her directly to the evil perpetrated by the Adherents that acted in her name. But it cannot be overstated: she was not here and did not direct the pogrom.

I suspect she may just be angry that we killed her son at Skyreach. I suppose that would be something of a last straw for almost anybody and I doubt she has developed any warm feelings for those touched by the Curse of Sethe. 


  1. You know, with the middle eastern sounding names, there might be a modest comparison to the Shiite & Sunni followers conflicts. Just a thought.

  2. I see what you mean with the names sounding somewhat Persian, but there's not much else similar with Islam that I can detect. I think Blizzard would have to be nuts to write an allegory about Islam into its game. Actually, the naming systems Blizzard uses: maybe problematic at this point. Particularly with surnames, different WoW races have gotten names that tie into their racial heritage: Orc names are mostly monosyllabic; Draenei have a crush of vowels in their names; Nelfs have nature names and Gnomes weird tech names. And all of those were pretty interesting I thought. Pandaran names though were all distinctly Chinese flavored, which I thought showed a limit of creativity. And now there's these Persian sounding Arakoa. I'll have to pay a visit to Outland to see if the trend started there. The only Arakoa I remember by name off the top of my head was Talon Priest Ikiss, but I don't think that's very Persian sounding.